Sunday
September 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2225



just some things to mention...


There was apparently a big UFC card last night. I totally realize I'm an outlier, but I've never watched one second of a live UFC fight. Not one minute. I've seen a handful of highlights of some dude kicking a guy above the ear and knocking him out and I usually say, "This is about the dumbest thing I've ever seen..."


I'm also an outlier on this subject as well, but I have just about zero interest in college football this fall. I'm not sure why, either. It's not like I'm a diehard Maryland fan and, thus, if they don't play, I don't watch. I just can't get into it this fall for some weird reason.


With last night's win over Denver, LeBron and the Lakers are in the NBA Finals. Are you ready for this stat? LeBron has now made every NBA championship series since 2011 except for 2019 when he only played 55 regular season games and the Lakers, predictably, failed to make the playoffs. Starting in 2011 when his Miami Heat lost to Dallas, LeBron has now made it to the Finals in 9 of the last 10 seasons.


Can Derek Carr and the Raiders improve to 3-0 today when they visit New England?

There are some really interesting NFL games today. The Rams are at Buffalo, which will tell us a little bit more about which of those teams are legit. Las Vegas is at New England. If the Raiders are indeed a potential threat to the Chiefs in the AFC West, they'll go to Foxborough and figure out a way to win. Dallas is at Seattle. The Cowboys are very fortunate to not be 0-2 and Seattle should be 1-1 if not for New England's silly play call at the end of last Sunday night's game. And Green Bay visits New Orleans on Sunday night. With a win this evening, Green Bay would have two road victories against Minnesota and New Orleans, both of which are difficult places for visiting teams.


This is an odd time for the PGA Tour, as they start another season while some of the 2019-2020 campaign is still not yet finished. But these tournaments they're playing now -- albeit in softer fields than usual -- still present an opportunity for players to earn FedEx Cup points and also qualify for the 2021 Masters and other tournaments. I'd like to think this is finally going to be the season that Silver Spring, MD native Denny McCarthy finally picks up that elusive first TOUR victory. He made the cut in this week's event in the Dominican but he won't win. McCarthy finished 1st on the TOUR in Strokes Gained, Putting for 2019-2020. All he needs now is a win.


In Saturday's #DMD, I produced an all-time MISL Top 5 after a reader asked me to do so. Part of the question included the disclaimer that I couldn't pick any Blast players for the list. Even though I complied and listed five players (Zungul, Preki, Tatu, Segota and Haaskivi), I should have mentioned that Haaskivi did spend a season with the Blast in 1988-89 but was widely recognized as a member of the Cleveland Force franchise.


Speaking of NFL games, the Ravens travel to Washington D.C. next Sunday to take on the yet-to-be-named. In any other season, next week's trip down I-95 would be highly anticipated, particularly since the Ravens are probably gonna lay a 40-burger on D.C. in their own building. The Covid-19 impact on the NFL has especially hurt Ravens fans who would have been interested in traveling to an away game or two in 2020; this season alone, the Ravens visit D.C. and Philadelphia, in addition to New England, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.


I think the Ravens have far more to prove on Monday Night than do the Chiefs. If Baltimore loses, they're now 0-3 against the Chiefs in the Lamar era. If Kansas City loses, they were "due for a loss" and still have last season's NFL title to fall back on. Oh, and the game being in Baltimore -- fans or not -- means the Ravens should win (which, of course, is why they're the betting favorite). I'm not giving my prediction until tomorrow's edition of #DMD, but let me say this: There will be 65 points scored on Monday night.


The Orioles are either going to finish 24-36 or 25-35 depending on the result of today's season finale in Toronto. Here's a weird note. Remember those four games early in the thing* when the Marlins came to town right after their whole team got crushed with Covid-19? Miami showed up in Baltimore and won all four games. Not only did the Marlins make the playoffs in part because of that 4-game sweep, but the O's might have missed out on the post-season by virtue of losing those four to the Marlins. Who woulda thunk it, huh?


Speaking of the MLB playoffs, guess which team in the National League now owns the longest streak for not making the post-season? Think about it. You have 30 seconds and 30 seconds only.


If the Ravens do come out on top Monday Night, that should pave the way for another remarkable season. Assuming, of course, that Lamar stays 100% healthy, John Harbaugh's team will likely go 14-2 or 13-3, at worst, with a win over K.C. on Monday evening. I know there's some social media chatter about the winner of Monday's game possibly going 16-0 but I don't see either team finishing without a loss. The league's just too crazy for an undefeated season. But another campaign of 14-2 or even 13-3, as long as they beat the Chiefs, should be enough to give the Ravens home ice throughout the playoffs...again.


The Tampa Bay Lightning squandered a chance to sew up the NHL title last night when they fell to Dallas in double overtime, 3-2. Tampa Bay now leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday evening. Kevin Shattenkirk, the erstwhile Caps defenseman, scored the game-winner in overtime on Friday night that gave Tampa Bay a 3-1 series lead. I realize players can change over time, but Shattenkirk looks nothing like the guy who cruised around for the Caps a few years ago. With Tampa Bay, he's engaged and spirited and looks like he's really giving 100%. With the Caps, he looked like just another guy. And that's being kind.


The answer to the baseball playoffs question? I'm pleased to report the team in question is 75 miles north in Philadelphia. Yes, now that the Marlins and Padres have both made the post-season, the team with the longest non-playoff streak in the National League are, in fact, the Phillies. Speaking of long streaks without winning, the last time the Flyers won the Stanley Cup was......1975. That's 45 years ago, sports fans. May it be another 45 before they win again.


Which way would you bet this? If there was a wager available where you could bet on or against a shutout AND an overtime tie today in the NFL, which way would you go? The odds: +950 for a shutout AND a tie (two separate games) or -500 that says both of them don't happen. You would bet $100 to win $950 or you would bet $500 to win $100. Which way would you go?

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#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Saturday
September 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2224



you're the one that asked...


Bill K. asks -- "Who is the best hitter of your lifetime?"

DF says: -- "I never like this question. How are we to quantify "hitter"? Here's what I'll say. It's 2-2 in the 9th inning and there is a man on 3rd and two outs. Which player do I want at the plate in that moment, needing a single to put his team put 3-2? That's an easy answer: Ichiro Suzuki. Now does that make him the best hitter of my lifetime? I'm not sure. But I'd want him up there in the situation I described above, more than anyone else I can think of."


Rich asks -- "I know I'm loading a gun for you with this question, but now that you've seen Bryson Dechambeau shoot 6-under at Winged Foot, what would he shoot over four days at Mount Pleasant?"

DF says: "I need to adopt a policy here where I'm allowed to pass on a question. I'd pass on this one. He'd shoot 30 under in a 72 hole event there."


"Home at Last", "I Got The News", "Peg"...all on the same album!

Terry asks -- "Chrissy Hynde or Stevie Nicks? Pretenders or Fleetwood Mac? Most underrated rock band in your life? Name a favorite album of yours that will surprise us."

DF says: "Huge Pretenders fan here, so it's Chrissy and the Pretenders for sure. I like Fleetwood Mac, but the Pretenders Greatest Hits is greater than Fleetwood Mac's. The most underrated band question is a tough one. It took me about 10 minutes to sift through my list and come up with a winner. I'll go with Steely Dan. Aja, Royal Scam and Gaucho are all remarkable albums. Aja is on my Top 5 list all time. Jay-Z's Kingdom Come is on my favorites list. Not sure if that surprises you, but there it is.


Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"

DF says: "Any Orioles game on a Tuesday night in July. That's always when the field looked the best and those warm summer nights were just awesome for sitting there, stretching out, and watching a game."


Bob Oleroth asks -- "You're invited to play Augusta National but in exchange for playing 18 holes there, the Ravens and Orioles have to both finish in last place. What would you do?"

DF says: "I do have one question before I answer. Do people know about "the deal"? Like, is it public knowledge that I have the ability to influence the Ravens and Orioles seasons? Or am I the only one who knows? Ah, heck, either way the answer's the same. What's my tee time at Augusta National? I assume you knew I would go that way. I love the Orioles and Ravens...but Augusta National is Augusta National."


TJ asks -- "Is there anyone on the Orioles roster right now you wouldn't trade?"

DF says: "I'm not trading Mountcastle or Santander. I mean, OK, if the Angels offered Mike Trout or something, I'd consider it, but on the whole, those two guys aren't available. Other than that, I guess everyone else can be had for the right price, but I don't see any reason to think about dealing guys like Kremer and Akin and Tate, along with the other two I mentioned earlier."


One more Masters win would be #6 at Augusta National for Tiger Woods and tie him with Jack Nicklaus, who also won on six occasions.

James asks -- "Finish this sentence. The 2021 Sports Year would be perfect if........."

DF says: "Tiger wins his 6th Masters in April."


Ron asks -- "If Baltimore could nominate one person to represent our sports history, who would it be? He would have had to have played for a Baltimore team, obviously."

DF says: "Brooks Robinson. He was part of a dominant era in Baltimore sports and wound up becoming the best defensive third baseman in history. And then he made Baltimore his home once his playing days were over. There's no one more "Mr. Baltimore" than Brooks."


Tom P. asks -- "What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen happen in a golf tournament you've played in?"

DF says -- "Wow, good question here. A long time ago, circa 1995 or so, I was playing in the Kemper Open qualifier and a player in my group chipped in on his final three holes. I don't remember his name. But I remember thinking, 'I don't chip in three times a year' and he did it three times in 35-40 minutes.' I played in an event once where one of the guys broke 4 or 5 of his clubs (on purpose) during the round like in the movie 'Tin Cup'. That was weird."


Cal asks -- "Overrated or underrated -- Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman. Thanks!

DF says: "Williams was really underrated. Damon is underrated, I think, especially after I saw him in that movie where he gets stranded on Mars. I think Pacino's overrated. Not saying he's a bad actor or anything. Just overrated. Morgan Freeman is supremely underrated. Might be on the all-time top 5 underrated list."


John Masterson asks: -- "Keeping Blast players out of it, who are the five best players in the old MISL?"

DF says: "Zungul, Preki, Tatu, Segota and Haaskivi. In that order..."


Pat M. asks: Here's your bar bet question of the week. If a 30 year old guy has never played golf in his life and decides to take it up, how long would it take for him to break 100 legally for the first time? Assuming the guy plays golf on a regulation 18 hole course 3 times a month.

DF says: "Assuming he played 3 times a month and practiced for 30 minutes another 3 times a month (at the driving range, example), it would take him at least 2 years to break 100."


Frank asks: "Any early thoughts on the Masters in November? How about a sleeper or two?

DF says: "I don't think Matthew Wolff can be a "sleeper" after his performance at Winged Foot, but I think he has a great chance to win at Augusta. I also have a weird feeling McIlroy is going to play well there, and I never think Rory has a good chance, so that's saying something. There's still time for guys to get their games together, but right now, if you made me bet money on one guy to win, I'd bet on DeChambeau."


Lisa V. asks: "From your personal collection, what's one album every Dish reader should listen to once?"

DF says: "Musicforthemorningafter" by Pete Yorn."

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Friday
September 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2223



a lot to prove on monday, but...


Everywhere I go in San Diego, as soon as a new friend finds out I'm from Baltimore, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson become the immediate topic of conversation.

People are genuinely excited to see the clash between Lamar and Patrick Mahomes. That's the way most people look at the game. It's not really Ravens vs. Chiefs. It's Lamar vs. Patrick.

While we know that's not exactly true, the game will almost certainly hinge on the quarterback play. It could be one of those "team with the ball last wins" kind of games, but one of the two QB's will be on the winning side and one will be on the losing side.

There are other components to the game, obviously. For the Ravens, running the ball effectively will be a huge bonus on Monday night. I suspect that Greg Roman is trying to figure out how to make someone other than Lamar become the team's leading rusher vs. Kansas City. Either way, running the ball with success also keeps Mahomes and his arsenal of weapons off the field.

One of these two will win on Monday night. Will Mahomes go to 3-0 vs. Lamar or can the Ravens 3rd year QB finally get a win vs. the Chiefs?

It goes without saying -- but you have to say it anyway -- that the Ravens pass rush and defensive interior have to step up on Monday night. For the most part, you're not going to shut down Mahomes and Company. But you can definitely slow them down, as the Chargers were able to do last Sunday before losing in overtime. The best way to limit what Mahomes can do is put pressure on him and force a mistake or two, as rare as they might be.

Interestingly enough, Andy Reid's blueprint for the game is probably very similar to Harbaugh's plan. Run the ball well to move the chains and keep Lamar off the field. Play tight on the defensive front and apply pressure to Jackson when he does go back to throw in hopes of creating a turnover.

Good luck to both defensive coordinators. This one could be a total shootout.

But in as much as we're excited in Baltimore about the muscle-flexing moment in front of the Ravens on Monday evening, I think we all know this in the back of our minds: No matter what happens vs. Kansas City, it doesn't mean jack squat. Sure, would it be nice to beat the defending champs? You betcha. Would a Ravens win on Monday establish them as the team to beat in the entire NFL in 2020? Probably, yes. Would Lamar own current bragging rights over Mahomes? Yes.

But a win over the Chiefs for Lamar and the Ravens in September doesn't mean jack squat.

Not in the long term, anyway.

There's this pesky month of January that has befuddled Lamar and the Ravens over the last two years. The Chargers and Titans, you'll recall, both came to town and completely shut down Jackson and the Baltimore offense. Two consecutive January's, two consecutive post-season's of high hopes, two consecutive season-ending eggs laid at home.

That can't happen again this January or Jackson will bear the brunt of the responsibility, even if he doesn't necessarily deserve it.

Lamar could throw for 320 and run for another 65 in a 38-26 win this Monday night, but if the Ravens host the Raiders in the playoffs this January and Las Vegas (so weird...) wins that game, Lamar besting Mahomes on Monday night in September won't mean one hill of beans.

If Lamar Jackson goes 0-3 to start his playoff career with three straight home losses, that will be the early career defining characteristic of the former Heisman Trophy winner. "He's great in the regular season but can't do it in the playoffs." If for no other reason other than winning is better than losing, avoiding that 0-3 entanglement is critical for Lamar. You just don't need that kind of scarlet letter on your jersey -- "CWTBO"

Can't. Win. The. Big. One.

And, no, this Monday night isn't a real "big one". A win over Mahomes and the Chiefs would be great, but it can't possibly replace that home game this January where Lamar tries to lay to rest two years of bad fortune.

This Monday isn't a "must win" situation for Jackson or the Ravens. It's just not.

So, even if the folks out here in San Diego don't realize it, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson do have a flaw. And it can't be fixed until Jauary.

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quick questions


Ryan Fitzpatrick was a 7th round pick of the Rams in 2005 NFL Draft. At that time, the Rams were starting a downturn after a 5-year run as The Greatest Show on Turf. I wonder: What would have happened to Fitzpatrick's career if someone like the Ravens or Vikings or Seahawks, even, would have drafted him? Would he have turned into a legit, decade-long star in the NFL if a more established franchise would have drafted him instead of St. Louis?

This slimmer, 2018 version of Bryson DeChambeau didn't scare the world of professional golf. But now that he's hitting 350 yards drives, people are worried.

I wrote here last week that we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel for the Orioles. I meant that. I wouldn't say I'm over the moon excited about 2021, but I fully expect to see the Birds get into the 70-win range next season. They have some fresh offensive talent and a few of the young pitchers look like they have -- to borrow one of baseball's favorite terms -- "electric stuff". So let's say the 2021 O's finish 75-87. Do you give manager Brandon Hyde a new deal and let him skipper the team into their real competitive seasons of 2022 and beyond?

Bryson DeChambeau won the U.S. Open last Sunday and there's already talk of next year's U.S. Open site, Torrey Pines, being stretched out to 8,000 yards in an effort to combat today's modern long hitter(s). Is DeChambeau's win the most impactful victory in golf since Tiger's Masters victory in 1997? The folks at Augusta National obviously went to great lengths to try and "Tiger proof" the course after Woods won in '97 and '01. It didn't seem to change anything. But the USGA is likely going to follow suit and make sure someone like DeChambeau doesn't hit driver, wedge on a 510 yard hole next June. And what, exactly, will that do for the rest of the field when they make a couple of par 4's at Torrey Pines 525 yards? Has there been a win in golf since 1997 that's shaken the golf world like BDC's Open win apparently has done?

I caught bits and pieces of the Lakers/Nuggets game last night, with LeBron and Company winning a tight one to build a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. I wonder: what does James have to do in his career in order to be recognized as "better than Jordan"? Is it six championships and that's it? Would that do it? I doubt it. Jordan's supporters would say, "You might have six like Mike but he never lost a Finals series and you did, LeBron." Would James have to win eight titles? Nine? I mean, he's undeniably the best player of his generation at this point, but from a career achievement standpoint, I'm wondering if there's anything at all LeBron can do to nudge past Jordan?

Back to the Ravens for a second. Where is Earl Thomas? I'm not asking a literal question. I assume he's home, wherever that might be. I mean, "where is he and why hasn't anyone signed him?" I guess most teams are laying off of him after both the Seahawks and Ravens said, "Ummm, on second thought, we'd rather not have you on our team." It's one thing if the Browns or Bengals cut you. Your agent can always tell other teams, "The (Browns) have no idea what they're doing. My guy is as solid as they come." It's another thing, entirely, when two of the league's premier organizations cut you loose while you still have gas in the tank. I can't help but wonder what Thomas is thinking these days as he sits in the NFL's unemployment line?

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faith in sports


Our friends at Freestate Electrical present "Faith in Sports", a weekly feature where we present the testimony of an athlete or sports figure.

This week's feature centers on New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, who suffered a horrible knee injury in high school and turned to his faith to help him navigate his way through that period and into the NFL.


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I Am Catholic


Thursday
September 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2222



around the horn...


Man, a 4 AM wake up call is tough on an old guy. Fortunately my host has an awesome coffee machine. Oh, and that gentle breeze blowing in off the Pacific Ocean is a nice way to get the day started.

I'm doing my best out here to stay on Eastern time. I'm only staying for a few more days and didn't want to completely ruin my body clock while I'm out here. I definitely could write and publish #DMD at night and sleep in, but somehow it just feels normal to get up at 4 am and publish the website. Did I mention the coffee is really good?


I've been around long enough to know that sports wagering is very much an inexact science. You get those gut feelings and you go with them. Sometimes they work out, most times they don't. That's why casino owners have big houses and big pools, I guess. I had a gut feeling Sergio Garcia was going to win the 2017 Masters. That one, let's just say, "worked out" for me. I had a gut feeling on the U.S. Open last weekend and would have really enjoyed seeing Lucas Glover, Patrick Reed, Matthew Fitzpatrick or Martin Kaymer win. That gut feeling didn't pay off.

Alas, I had a gut feeling about the Miami Heat when the NBA playoffs started. I wrote here at #DMD that Miami could be the surprise team in the East. Once they disposed of Indiana, I said they would beat Milwaukee. After crushing the Bucks, I said the Heat would go to beat Boston. Last night, Miami held off the Celtics, 112-109, to go up 3-1 in that series. Sadly, I didn't take my "gut feeling" on the Heat to the wagering window. So here I am, telling you the sad story about how I knew it all along and don't have a ticket in my hand. Oh, and I know nothing at all, really, about the NBA. I follow it, casually, at best. But I had that gut feeling about Miami...


The American League Cy Young Award is a mere formality this year, as Shane Bieber of the Indians is the clear winner.

I realize a 60-game Major League League thing* is odd, particularly on the stat nerds, but they're apparently still going to hand out all of the major awards in 2020. That means the Cy Young Award will be earned by a pitcher in both the American and National League.

The American League is a slam dunk. Cleveland's Shane Bieber has it locked up and put on ice. He's 8-1, with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts, both tops in the American League. Oh, and his WHIP is pretty good too -- 0.87. The National League isn't a slam dunk at all. Several pitchers have enjoyed solid things*, including Yu Darvis, Max Fried and Zach Davies. But I wouldn't give the award to one of those three. I'd give it to Trevor Bauer of the Reds. I realize his record (5-4) isn't great, but his real pitching numbers, the ones that matter, are spectacular. His ERA is 1.73 and his WHIP is 0.79, to go with 100 strikeouts. Most importantly, he's been a catalyst for the Reds' resurgence since mid-August.


The story out of Los Angeles about Tyrod Taylor is really scary. I realize most folks are going to create an argument about the inherent dangers of pain killing medications and how professional athletes shouldn't have to "take a shot" before a game in order to play. This case, of course, takes on a totally different angle when you mix in the doctor's mistake, Taylor's punctured lung, and his trip to the hospital.

But let's always remember this: It is the player's right to simply say, "I can't play today..." Yes, yes, I realize he'll be labeled "soft" and might lose respect with the coach, which could lead to his position on the team being in jeopardy. He could lose his starting job and so on and so on. I do understand how of all that works. But I also understand that Tyrod Taylor had every opportunity to say, "I don't want a shot to get me through the game. I don't want it. And that's that." This is not meant to blame him for the doctor's mistake. No, no, no. It's meant to remind everyone that the player is in control at all times, whether he (she) believes it or not.


By complete coincidence, one of the players in my golf foursome yesterday was a decorated, well known scout in the Oakland A's organization. We eventually circled around to talking baseball and I peppered him with questions about players, the Astros' trash-can-banging stunt and the new extra innings rule baseball is using in 2020.

We got to talking about the Orioles and he offered this nugget: "The Rutschman kid is the real deal. He can do it all. You're going to be very, very happy with that pick. He has the potential to be a franchise player."


I participated in a fun Ryder Cup pick 'em contest yesterday where 60 golf enthusiasts in the media/social media world got to pick the 12-person U.S. Ryder Cup team for 2021 at Whistling Straits. Next year's team will feature a new selection format, as six players will automatically qualify on points and captain Steve Stricker gets to pick six players.

Here's who I went with -- Six automatic qualifiers; 1. Bryson Dechambeau, 2. Dustin Johnson, 3. Collin Morikawa, 4. Justin Thomas, 5. Tony Finau, 6. Patrick Reed. Six captain's picks: 7. Xander Schauffele, 8. Daniel Berger, 9. Matthew Wolff, 10. Patrick Cantlay, 11. Scottie Scheffler, 12. Kevin Kisner. Yes, that means I left Brooks Koepka off of both lists. I'm doing that mainly because there's no telling how long he's going to battle his knee injury. In a perfect world, he rebounds and makes the team. But not knowing anything about his long term health, I decided to leave him off the 2021 team.


I have no idea how a fan base earns the distinction of being obnoxious. I suppose it takes years and years of winning to build up that layer of conceit. You know, like you might find in Boston or New York. I think everyone pretty much agrees the New England area sports fan is kind of the worst. They've had two decades of success up there, with the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics all winning titles since 2000. And their fan base has parlayed that success into a massive amount of obnoxiousness, if that's even a word.

But let me say this, and shield myself from the eggs you're going to throw. The Ravens fan base is starting to border on obnoxious. You'd think, reading the social media commentary and hearing people talk on the radio, that John Harbaugh's team has won 3 Super Bowls since 2008. The reality is, of course, that the Ravens haven't done anything of note since 2013. I mean, sure, they went 14-2 last year, but who cares about that if you lose to Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs -- at home, no less. That's akin to hitting a 320 yard drive on a 395 yard hole and somehow making a bogey. You hit a great drive, but were left with nothing to show for it. I understand that people love Lamar and rightfully so. I get it. But until the Ravens win a game of importance in January, people should temper their enthusiasm a smidge. I'll take the eggs, now.


There are a handful of very talented young sports broadcasters out there. While Jim Nantz (CBS) and Joe Buck (FOX) are still considered to be the cream of the crop due to their multi-sport capabilities, there are two guys on the upward trend who are both outstanding at calling football and basketball.

If you get the chance to listen -- I mean, really listen -- to Kevin Harlan and Ian (pronounced: eye-an, not eee-an) Eagle, I promise you some of the best sports play-by-play you will ever hear. I don't know how I would rank the two; Harlan and Eagle or Eagle and Harlan. It doesn't matter. They are both sensational broadcasters. It's indeed a total joy to tune into a game and hear either of them calling it.

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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.


in favor of the ravens’ execution


The quotable John McKay, a legend in the college ranks at USC in the 1960s and 1970s (1), was the first coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His expansion team of has-beens and castoffs lost its first 26 games. Somewhere during the middle of that ignominious streak, a local reporter asked McKay what he thought of his team’s “execution.”

“Well,” McKay replied, “I’m in favor of it…”

Not to sound like a football coach (2), but there’s never been an NFL season in which “execution” is more important.

There are no “Dawg Pounds” or “12th Men” in the west end zone to force a team into noise-based confusion on its own 10-yard line and into an early timeout it could probably use later in the game. That makes a defense better, even if ain’t really that good.

Make a big play at home — a 30-some yard run while breaking three or four tackles, or a long pass that gets you out of jail near your goal line and out toward midfield? Great. But you’ll have to create your own excitement to keep the drive going. It probably feels like training camp, only with pads the whole time. Those cardboard cutouts of Mo Gaba (RIP), Kevin Harlan (3) and Charles Davis aren’t going to do it for you.

#DMD's David Rosenfeld says K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes faces the most talented team he's ever seen this Monday night in Baltimore.

Somebody keeps sticking a swab up your nose at frequent intervals, reminding you (as if you need the reminder) that life isn’t normal. Want to have some fun during your small amount of down time? Well don’t have 15 people over your house, especially if any of them have been in questionable places. It stinks, all of it. None of it helps get a player ready for Sunday.

This season is about blocking and tackling (4), being in the right spot and not missing your assignment. There are fewer excuses than before for dropping a perfect pass, lining up in the wrong place, missing the cutback lane that you saw on film earlier in the week and not going through your progressions before deciding where to throw the ball.

I’d even go so far as to say that those “emotional” penalties you hate to see — roughing the passer and other personal fouls, for instance— ought to be eliminated almost completely in the current setting. The game just can’t be played with as much emotion right now as it normally would be.

It can be played with just as much of a focus on execution, however.

Where do the Ravens fall in when it comes to that? Well, it’s a complicated answer, even though the team would still be a great one if 2020 was a more typical season.

On one level, this season is perfect for John Harbaugh’s team. As Colin Cowherd (5) has said several times, very few teams in this salary cap era have had as few “holes” as the Ravens do right now. The Ravens are solid at every position, even the ones at which they might not be spectacular. In other words, they have the kinds of players all over the field that have the ability to execute at a high level all the time, not just on occasion.

The Ravens’ best player is one that doesn’t need to execute with precision in order to help his team win. That’s a bonus, because Lamar Jackson has also become one of the “cleanest” quarterbacks in the league when it comes to being precise. Yes, the Ravens don’t pass the ball as much as other teams, but it’s still a fact that Jackson has thrown one interception (and 29 touchdowns!) in his last 12 regular-season games (6). The fumbling problems that beset Jackson late in his rookie season have also abated; he’s lost just two fumbles in 17 games the last two seasons.

Defensively, I’m not sure that this unusual season is perfect for the Ravens. Wink Martindale’s group blitzes more than any other team, but I wonder if the effects of that might be muted by the lack of crowd noise.

That being said, maybe some of the “chill” is good for rookie linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison, who’ve performed pretty well in the season’s first two weeks. The defensive line created through free agency probably just needs some time to play together, especially without a preseason. (7)

As for the defensive backs, execution be damned for All-Pros Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. Why worry about any of that when you can just wait for the receiver to catch the ball and then punch it out of his hands, or keep sneaking looks at the quarterback’s eyes knowing that you have the ability to recover lost ground for another interception.

Ok, so maybe we shouldn’t be so worried about the defense (8). It’s not like the Browns and Texans are the worst offensive teams ever, and they’ve combined for 22 points in the first two weeks.

The question now is whether the Ravens can execute well enough to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs Monday night at the empty M&T Bank Stadium. About the only thing Jackson hasn’t done in the regular season is beat Kansas City, though it took a minor fourth-down miracle late in the game from Mahomes in 2018 to keep the Ravens from a win.

On December 9, 2018, the day of that game, and September 22, 2019, when the teams played last season, the Ravens were not the team they’ve been for the last 12 months or so (9). In 2018, the Ravens could run the ball like they do now but were still holding Jackson back in the passing game. In 2019, when they fell behind early in the game, Peters was playing for the Rams in Cleveland, and Kenny Young was still starting at middle linebacker.

The last time they played the Chiefs, the Ravens didn’t yet have the league’s best offense, that 59-point outburst in Miami or not. The last time they faced Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens’ defense may not have been in shambles, but Earl Thomas and Brandon Williams were about ready to get into a fight.

Mahomes, who missed a few weeks due to injury last year, will start his 34th regular-season game on Monday night. His record is 26-7, Lamar Jackson-like, you might say. His numbers against the Ravens have been spectacular: in two games, he’s completed 62 passes for 751 yards and five touchdowns. The Ravens haven’t had an answer for him yet, joining the club (10). And just when they get the chance to have him in their own building, there won’t be any hype coming from the stands.

But this is clearly the best team Mahomes will have faced in his young career, regular season or playoffs. The Ravens can execute better than any team in the league, and they can win big even when they don’t execute that well.


Notes (and Quotes) --

1 - McKay was the USC coach during the career of O.J. Simpson. After a 1967 game, McKay was asked why he was giving the ball to Simpson so often, to which he replied “Why not? It’s not that heavy.”

2 - The football coach at Princeton for the first 10 years of the 21st century was Roger Hughes, a decent and humble man who has a Ph.D. in exercise physiology. When asked once about Colgate’s defense, he told an assembled media group that “Colgate blitzes 72 percent of the time on third-and-medium.”

3 - “Nice catch down there by Justin Tucker. He can kick and he can catch. He can do it all!” – Kevin Harlan, Sept. 20, 2020.

4 - Another McKay quote, after another loss. “Well, we didn’t block. But we made up for it by not tackling.”

5 - About the Ravens, said Cowherd Monday, “I think this is the best team in the league, by a lot. The Texans had three extra days to prepare and still got rolled. Every team has holes. I don’t know where they are in Baltimore.”

6 - “Short, and a little bit slight. Clearly, clearly not the thrower the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.” – Bill Polian on Jackson, February 2018.

7 - Mike Preston — "The Ravens stifled Houston’s running game in the first half and that set the tone for the rest of the game. This group has only played two games together, but it keeps getting better. Grade: B”

8 - “The Ravens’ defense is playing at a record level. They have 15 straight games with a takeaway. Seven defensive touchdowns since 2019. They’ve not allowed 25 points in a game in 14 consecutive games. They had 13 quarterback hits on Sunday, the most they’ve had in two seasons.” – Brian Billick.

9 - “Nobody talks about this, but their defense is No. 1 in the league after they acquired Marcus Peters. And so, to me, if you have the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense in the league, how are you not the No. 1 team?” – Rex Ryan, with hard-hitting ESPN commentary.

10 - You’ll remember that the 2019 game was the day that John Harbaugh had his team try a bunch of two-point conversions and went full-on to football analytics. Said Harbaugh after the game, “We’re going to keep playing that way, just for the record. When you write your article, just understand that we’ll disagree with your criticism. We’re going after it. That’s the way we’re going to play all year.”

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Wednesday
September 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2221



san diego


I don’t usually pre-read the contributions sent by David Rosenfeld and Mark Suchy. I do some general “coding” of their work for publication on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, but doing that doesn’t really require me to read what they wrote.

After I’ve launched #DMD, I’ll go in and read their piece, just like a regular reader would do. On the rare occasion there’s a grammar or typographical error, I’ll fix it during that reading. Otherwise, I read their work for the first time in the same way you do.

Today, though, is different. Mark’s piece that you’ll read below is one I pre-read before publishing it. I’m not sure why I did…but I’m glad I did. It gave me the inspiration to also write a journal of sorts here today. We’ll take a brief break from Ravens-Chiefs and just go down memory lane for a while. I hope you like it.


Through the grace of God and the computer wizardry of George, I’m publishing today’s edition of #DMD from San Diego. I’m here out visiting an old friend from Baltimore and teeing it up at a couple of really nice courses. I hear a rumor there’s a bottle or two of good red wine on the menu tonight.

San Diego…

I haven’t been out here since 1992. Yes, 1992. I’m thinking…that’s almost 30 years. It's hard to believe it has been that long.

I was a “regular visitor” to San Diego in 1985 through 1992. The Blast would routinely make two trips during the regular season to San Diego during those six years, plus we played the Sockers in the playoffs in ’85, ’89, ’90 and ’92. I don’t have exact numbers off hand, but I’d say I visited San Diego somewhere around 20 times in that span.

I have been to San Diego enough to say this, when asked.

”Hey Drew, in all of years in the soccer business, what was your favorite visiting arena?”

”San Diego”, I'd say.

”You’ve traveled all over the country, basically, what’s your favorite city, Drew?”

"No doubt, San Diego,” I’d tell them.

”If you ever moved from Baltimore, where would you go?”

”That’s easy…San Diego,” I’d quickly reply.

You could say I like San Diego. I guess you can tell.

So this trip down memory lane includes four stories below, all connected to San Diego. Three of them are true. One of them isn’t.

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The 1988-89 MISL Championship Series was won by the San Diego Sockers, 4-games-to-3, over the Baltimore Blast.

History will show the Blast and Sockers split the first two games in Baltimore and the Sockers won Game 3 and Game 4 in San Diego, setting up a potential title-clinching Game 5 in their building.

At that point, the Blast had never defeated San Diego in the playoffs in the San Diego Sports Arena, losing three games in 1983 and three games in 1985, before dropping the first two games of the ’88-89 series. Game 5 was, most people thought, a slam dunk win for the Sockers.

A raucous crowd of 12,000 was expected for the game.

The San Diego Sports Arena, home of the San Diego Sockers.

We arrived at the arena at 5 pm for the 7:35 pm game. I needed to make some additional copies of the media game notes I had produced and made my way to the Sockers office.

A few interns were milling around. Most of the staffers were already doing their thing in the arena. One of the interns took me to the copier and I started making extra sets of game notes.

An older guy wheeled something past me.

”What room does the champagne go in?” I heard him ask someone.

There was a conversation, but it was drowned out by the copier humming along.

I peeked around the corner and there on a cart were several large boxes. In black magic marker it read, “Sockers Celebration”.

”They already have the freakin’ champagne!", I thought to myself.

A minute or so later, the man came out of the neighboring office and made his way to the front door.

I was in the process of stapling the game notes together. For reasons I can’t explain, even to this day, I shoved the completed notes in my briefcase and left three or four sets of them unstapled and crammed those in as well.

I quickly followed behind Mr. Champagne Deliverer.

We entered the building and I trailed about 50 feet behind. He would get an occasional greeting from an arena worker and I just acted like I was supposed to be there. Finally, he made a right hand turn into a room. I walked by and snuck a look inside, just long enough to see a beautifully decorated room with blue and gold streamers and soccer balls on the tables, along with “CHAMPIONS” in big gold letters stationed in the middle as a table setting.

”This is where they’re going to have their after game celebration!”

Sparked by the Sockers’ audacity, I walked out to the arena floor. A few techs were working on the carpet and the Sockers coach, Ron Newman, was on the field doing a TV “live shot” with a local sportscaster. I nodded to Ron and he gave me a thumbs up.

”You won’t be giving me a thumbs up after tonight,” I mumbled to myself, forgetting for a second the Blast hadn’t ever won a playoff game in San Diego.

I headed back towards our locker room. As I got back out into the hall, the champagne man was coming out of the room with his cart…but it was empty.

I ducked in right behind him, like you’d see in a movie, and quickly went into the room. On each table was a bottle of champagne with a specially made “San Diego Sockers, 1988-89 MISL Champions” label across the front.

I grabbed a bottle and walked out of the room. I was breathing hard, nervous as as a bank robber getting ready to hand over the note. I didn’t have any way to conceal the bottle. This wasn’t planned, after all.

I made my way to our locker room.

When I walked in, Kenny Cooper was getting dressed in his traditional game day blue suit with the matching red tie.

I sat the bottle down in front of him.

”Where did you get that?” he asked.

”Don’t ask,” I replied.

Cooper spun the bottle around to see the label, “Those sons of b**ches,” he said.

He took the bottle in and put it on the training table in the middle of the locker room.

”The Sockers sent you boys a little gift,” Cooper said, putting the bottle down on the table so hard it made a large cracking noise.

History will show the Blast won Game 5 of the 1988-89 Championship Series, 6-3, behind outstanding goalkeeping from Scott Manning and two (or was it three?) big goals from Carl Valentine.

What history doesn’t show is how a bottle of champagne snuck into the room by the team’s media relations guy might have been the biggest source of motivation for that important win.

And all because I didn’t have enough media notes prepared for the game.


In 1986, I was pretty lousy at golf. I could shoot anywhere from 90 to 110 in those days. I remember very specifically that I didn’t break 80 until 1988, so in ’86 I was, for sure, a hack.

Thanks to a friendly MISL schedule maker, one of our 1985-86 west coast road trips during the regular season was 18 days. Seven of those 18 days would be in San Diego and Los Angeles. I know, I know…but someone had to do it.

On one of the team’s “off days”, myself, Kenny Cooper and assistant coach Jim Pollihan set up an afternoon of golf at a place called the Stardust Hotel. I don’t believe it exists any longer, or, if it does, I’m fairly certain it’s no longer a 54-hole resort like it was back in the mid 1980’s.

Cooper was a good player back then and so, too, was Pollihan, a lefty who probably carried a 10 handicap at the time.

Trust me, I won’t take you shot for shot on this, except for a few occasions where it mattered.

I made a “9” on the first hole. It was, as I remember, a par 5 where I hit the first ball out of bounds.

It didn’t get much better on the 2nd hole, where I dribbled one off the tee and scraped it around long enough to make a quadruple bogey on a relatively easy 375 yard par 4.

A six minute episode in two greenside bunkers led to a “7” on the third hole. It was comical. Flub, blade, blade, flub…I had no idea what I was doing in the sand traps back then.

At the 4th hole, another par 5, I finally pieced together several good shots and had 40 feet for birdie.

The first putt rolled past the hole some 6 feet or so. Knowing I needed the next one for par, I tensed up and missed it.

”Pretty good hole there, Drewski,” Cooper said. “Almost made your par.”

I had 10 feet for par at the 5th hole, but the putt slid just past the hole for a bogey 5. Still, no par.

At the 6th, I finally did it. I hit the green in regulation and calmly two putted from 30 feet.

Both Cooper and Pollihan were enthusiastic in their praise.

At the par-4 7th, I hit a remarkable (for me, at the time) 8-iron to 10 feet and made the birdie putt. It looked like I knew what I was doing…even though I didn’t.

Standing on the 8th tee, I remembered one of the quirks about the course we were playing. I seem to recall it might have been called the “West”, maybe? Anyway, it ended with two par 3’s on the front and started with two par 5’s, at #10 and #11, on the back. That was just something you didn’t see very often in terms of course design.

I hit a 5 iron to about 10 feet at the 8th hole. I hadn’t ever made two birdies in a row, which, of course, I announced to Cooper and Pollihan as we walked to the green.

”Well, let’s roll this one in then!” Cooper said.

And….I did. The ball slowly tumbled in over the front edge and I raised my putter and waved to the imaginary crowd.

Cooper and Pollihan gave me high fives and made jokes about playing in the Masters next year. I had somehow salvaged a decent front nine after a horrendous start. I walked over to the golf cart and looked at the card, eager to see my two consecutive birdies circled – a first in my golfing life.

To my surprise, I also saw this as I read through my hole by hole numbers.

9 ---- 8 ---- 7 ---- 6 ---- 5 ---- 4 ---- 3 ---- 2 ---

I didn’t even realize it at that time, but I had gone 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 through the first eight holes.

And now, standing on another par 3 hole, I could do the unthinkable. I could make a hole in one and go 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

I thought to myself that if I did make an ace, the scorecard would have to be kept and framed. ”Maybe even sent off to the golf hall of fame, wherever that is.” Hey, a guy can dream, you know.

I won’t keep you in suspense and go through how I hit a majestic 7-iron that started right and then slowly drifted left as if commanded by the golf gods.

I won’t tell you about the beautiful blue San Diego sky and the shiny ball, blending for the perfect snapshot.

I will not lead you on with a story about how the ball hit the green some 20 feet behind the pin – a Tour Edition #2, the same kind of ball Greg Norman was playing in those days – and gently rolled downhill before settling into the cup for the most unlikely of aces in the history of aces.

I won’t do any of that, because I didn’t make an ace. I hit a skanky, bottom groove 7-iron that never came close to the green, instead bounding in and out of water hazard some 30 yards short of the putting surface, eventually settling in a thick patch of grass next to a sand trap.

The dream was over before it started, really.

I had a chance to make golfing history in San Diego…and instead, made a double bogey five to cap off “just another 49” on the front nine.


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One of the treasures in San Diego back in the 1980's was the “Swap Meet” which was held from 8 am to 2 pm every Saturday and Sunday in one section of the parking lot at the San Diego Sports Arena.

Clothes, jewelry, tires, lamps, bedding pieces, tools, sports equipment, lawn furniture…you name it, it was being sold at the Swap Meet.

After a successful career in St. Louis, Slobo Ilijevski, a Yugoslavian goalkeeper, joined the Blast for the 1988-89 campaign. Ilijevski had been in the league since 1980 and was very familiar with San Diego.

On one of our trips out west, we were slated to play the Sockers on a Sunday night. Ilijevski approached me in the hotel. “What are you doing tomorrow morning?” he asked.

Slobo went on to explain that he needed help at the Swap Meet.

Slobo Ilijevski played one season for the Baltimore Blast after a success eight seasons with the St. Louis Steamers.

”I’m going to buy some things and just need help getting it to the post office,” he said.

So I went with Slobo to the Swap Meet. He had rented a van, for reasons I didn’t know.

When we got to the Swap Meet, I figured it out.

Our first stop was a table where a guy was selling razors. Upon seeing Slobo, the man smiled broadly and came out to give his visitor a hug. “It’s great to see you!” he said to the goalkeeper. They spoke in foreign tongue and the man retreated to the back of the space he had rented.

”24 boxes,” he yelled out to Slobo. “Come around here and pick them up!”

Ilijevski had just purchased 2400 disposable razors.

We lugged the boxes some 200 yards to the van.

The next stop was a guy selling pocket knives. The same greeting occurred when Ilijevski approached the table. “I’m all ready for you!” the pan seller said. We carried 20 boxes of pocket knives back to the van, 480 of them in all.

”One more stop,” Slobo said to me. And with that, we made our way over to a table where a woman was selling sunglasses.

”How many sunglasses do you have here?” he asked her.

”More than you count,” she deadpanned.

”Do you have one thousand?” Slobo asked?

”If you have five thousand dollars I do,” she said. The sign on the table was marked in bold, black ink: SUNGLASSES, $5.00 EACH

”I’ll give you three thousand cash for one thousand,” Slobo countered.

”I’ll do four dollars each and that’s it,” she said.

Ilijevski took out a wad of money and peeled out four thousand dollars in cash, right there, on the spot.

”There’s twenty in each box,” she declared. “Grab 50 boxes.”

We got back to the van and headed to the post-office. Slobo thumbed through his money and gave me two, one hundred dollar bills.

”Thanks for your help today,” he said.

”I don’t want that,” I replied as I handed him the money. “I didn’t do anything.”

”Yes, you did,” Slobo remarked. “Please, you must take the money. I’m running a business and you’re part of my labor costs. Please, I insist.”

Ilijevski went on to explain his “business”.

He would ship the items back to Yugoslavia in large boxes and would mark “Town Supplies” on them. Doing that apparently made it OK to send the goods home to Yugoslavia without being taxed and or levied with an import charge.

”I bought those razors for 20 cents each,” he explained. “I have a friend who owns a store back home and he buys them from me for $1.20 and sells them in his store for $3.00 each.

”The pocket knives cost me $7.00 each. I sell them to him for $15 and he sells them for $25.”

”And those sunglasses were $4.00 and he’ll give me $8.00 for them and then he sells them for $15.00.”

”Last year, we came here twice when I was with St. Louis and I made $5,000 each time. The first year I came here I made about $3,000. Every year I make more and more money doing this.”

We went to the post office and made arrangements to ship everything back to his native Yugoslavia. Slobo slipped an invoice into the box. On it he wrote, “Please pay soon or I will have someone cut off your head.” He showed me the note and smiled.

”He’s my friend since childhood," Slobo explained. "But he takes a long time to pay me so I have to threaten him like that.”


We stayed in a variety of hotels during our days in San Diego.

There was the Kona Kai, an off the beaten-path resort kind of place that Kenny Cooper preferred.

On occasion, we stayed at the Hanalei, which was right at Mission Circle and was convenient to everything.

And we spent a lot of time at the San Diego Travel Lodge, mostly because we could walk to the arena and there were gobs of shops and eateries on the main road for the players to enjoy.

One year, we played in Los Angeles on a Wednesday and San Diego on a Saturday, so on Thursday morning, the team made its way down Interstate 5 to set up shop at the Travel Lodge for a few days.

On Friday morning as we were leaving for practice, several large vans pulled up to the hotel’s front entrance.

And out they came, one by one.

The Honky Tonk Man

Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

Mr. Fuji

George “The Animal” Steele

There was a professional wrestling event at the Sports Arena on Friday night!

And half the wrestling roster was stepping out of two vans right in front of us.

We arrived back at the hotel after practice around 1 pm and players immediately headed to the pool.

It was filled…with wrestlers.

Steele was sitting at a table with an umbrella over top, a large pitcher of iced tea in front of him. He was feverishly writing on papers and shuffling them around.

”George, you gettin’ in or what?” Roddy Piper yelled.

”Yes, give me a damn minute,” Steele bellowed. “I have to finish grading these papers.”

Steele, as it turned out, was some kind of philosophy professor at a school in Michigan, I believe. He was a real, live professor at a real, live school. Oh, and he was also George “The Animal” Steele in his other life.

Tim Wittman befriended Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Savage was curious about who we were, because he was once a minor league baseball player before turning into one of wrestling’s top characters. Savage and Wittman hit it off.

A few minutes later, Macho Man’s wrestling manager and real life steady, “Miss Elizabeth”, curled out of her swim robe and walked to the edge of the pool. Time froze for a moment as we all looked at her, in a wildly impressive two piece bathing suit, tip toeing into the pool.

”Hey Randy, what’s the chances I can get a picture with you?” Wittman asked.

”One hundred percent,” Savage replied.

”What’s the chances I can get one with her?” Billy Ronson asked, totally unaware that Miss Elizabeth was Savage’s significant other. Billy knew nothing about professional wrestling.

”Zero percent you puny little punk,” the Macho Man said.

I couldn’t tell if he was serious or if this was a wrestling bit and I didn’t want to find out, either.

Ronson made his way out of the pool, shooting me a look as if to say, “I think I’ll be going now.” The tone in Savage’s voice was definitely not friendly.

Steele and The Honky Tonk Man scraped together six tickets , somehow, and a half dozen of us sat ringside that night at the Sports Arena. Savage noticed Ronson in one of the seats while he was going through his pre-match back and forth with the crowd. He pointed at Ronson and acted like he had a camera and was snapping a picture. Then he zipped his finger across his throat and pointed at Ronson and said, “That’s going to be YOU!” and we were all howling.

I never could figure out if Savage was serious….or just playing around.

But the last thing I wanted was a front page sports story in USA Today about how a professional wrestler beat up a Baltimore Blast player in San Diego.

So I told Ronson to get in the row behind us and switch seats with someone in the event Savage wanted to take him out. We had a game on Saturday, after all, and we needed Ronson on the field, not in the hospital.


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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.


There’s nothing like a weekend road trip to get the mind wandering. This past weekend, I traveled to Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa., to visit my oldest son, Thomas. Presented without filter are some of my mental musings and observations from the journey. Come along and ride shotgun with me. Buckle up…

Saturday morning dawns crisp and cool and clear. Perfect driving weather. Lamar and I are ready. Lamar is my new car’s nickname. It’s a BMW 530i. Easily the most beautiful vehicle I’ve ever owned. The boys and I have christened it Lamar because it’s sleek and powerful and oh so incredibly fast and graceful. When it’s gliding down the open road it’s as smooth and sure-handling as Lamar Jackson on a straight line in the open field. It accelerates past other vehicles like Lamar does past linebackers. I like to joke that 90 is the new 65. I’m satisfied that we’ve given it the proper name. All of our cars have names. Lamar is the first vehicle in the family fleet to have a male name. Quite an honor.

Heading west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I can’t help but think that it’s a perfect college football Saturday. As I pass Carlisle and Shippensburg and motor towards Johnstown, I think of all the small college towns that would be hosting games. All the local bars and restaurants and shops that won’t have business from families and friends of the kids on the team. All the campuses where students aren’t allowed to gather and socialize the way college kids do. I tend to think more in terms of the smaller colleges than the big schools; that’s certainly due to the fact that my sons attend small colleges. There are a lot more small schools across our country than people realize.

I’m listening to the B.B. King Bluesville channel on satellite radio. Janis Joplin’s Ball and Chain comes on and I crank up the sound system. I’ve always loved her voice; gravelly and raw and full of range and emotion. Hearing her sing reminds me that I heard on Friday that Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago. 1970 was a tough year for rock and roll. Ironically, The Doors’ Love Her Madly comes on next. Jim Morrison died in 1971. Two bad years in a row for legends.

Thomas Suchy, goalkeeper at Westminster College.

As I approach Pittsburgh and cross the Allegheny River, I look to my right and see a huge old railroad bridge. It has to stand 150 feet above the river, and it’s made entirely of steel. This makes me think about team nicknames. I have to admit, as much as I dislike the Steelers, it’s one of the best nicknames in all of sports. Travel around that region and there’s just so much evidence of the city’s history in steel manufacturing, especially with the bridges.

I think Ravens is a really good nickname for Baltimore’s football team. For some reason my mind wanders back to when Baltimore was pursuing an NFL expansion franchise in the early 1990s. I remember a few of the suggested nicknames were Rhinos, Bombers and Americans. Those would have been awful choices. Orioles has always been a good nickname. A couple ones that always made me scratch my head are from teams that relocated: Why are they the Los Angeles Dodgers? There are no streetcars to dodge in L.A. And the Utah Jazz has always been completely absurd. I doubt many Mormons listen to Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong. Also, the Arizona Cardinals? Are there cardinals in the desert? I have so many questions.

When you get close to New Wilmington, you pass through Slippery Rock Township. This is the home of Slippery Rock University. My father used to speak fondly of “The Rock”, for reasons unknown to me. But this is Western Pennsylvania, and they take their football and its traditions seriously. Apparently, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, The Rock was something of a nationally renowned powerhouse in college football. Dad was a huge Notre Dame fan, and I think he said the Irish played Slippery Rock sometime in the 40’s, when he was growing up. Plus, he used to say that it was a really great name for a school. It’s funny the places my mind can go to during 4 hours on the road.

I arrive at Westminster College and Thomas comes out of his dorm to greet me. We share a nice long hug. I could drive 20 hours just to get that hug. I miss my boy. I honestly can’t believe he’s 21 now, and a senior in college. No matter the years, he’ll always be my baby boy. Thankfully, he’s still as kind and funny and gentle as he was when he was a little boy. The years have been good to us.

We hop into Lamar and I let him drive. He goes through the winding back roads of Amish country that surround New Wilmington. He puts Lamar through its paces on some of the curves and hills, and then we hit I-79 and I tell him to put it in sport mode. It’s then that I realize that he should have pursued car racing instead of soccer. He’s got a natural lead foot, and we laugh and smile at the acceleration and performance. At the risk of meeting a stray Pennsylvania State Trooper, I suggest we grab some lunch. Off the interstate.

Then it’s back to Westminster to pick up his buddies, Chance and Noah. We’ve got a 3 p.m. tee time at Green Meadows Golf Course in Volant, which is the next town over. It’s an absolutely glorious afternoon to take some divots and hack it up. Believe me when I tell you that neither me nor my sons will ever threaten any scoring records in a round of golf. The boys have really just started playing in the last year or so. They each have their moments with a club in their hands, but they’re tall and rangy and they need custom fitted clubs. For now, they play with hand-me-downs from their grandfather and me.

I used to try and play once a week, a long time ago, but between work and the boys’ sports schedules, it became too time consuming. So their recent interest has helped get me to dust off my clubs and start hitting massive slices with my driver again. But I only go out for a round if it’s with them. It’s really just a nice way to share their company and laugh at each other’s flubs. And there are plenty of those.

It’s a good thing Green Meadows has wide open fairways and very few bunkers and water, because all four of us are all over the place. At one point, Thomas hits a drive approximately two fairways over to the right, and I snap hook mine into the pines along the left side of our fairway. We laugh about how bad we are at staying near each other. Fortunately, there’s hardly anyone on the course so we don’t concern ourselves with pace of play. We’re not holding anyone up, and we’re not endangering anyone on adjacent fairways. Chance and Noah are novices, too, so I encourage them to keep an extra ball or two in their pockets and just hit another one if they whiff or shank it. We’re not here to keep score.

There’s a view from the 5th tee that is simply gorgeous. Looking northwest, it’s just rolling hills and farmland and forest. The sun is beginning to sink a little lower, and the sky is cloudless and a soft, pale blue. It’s no wonder Thomas chose Westminster. He always wanted a rural, small school. Growing up in the Hereford Zone, he always liked the quiet surroundings. This region is so reminiscent of home. I tell him that he chose well for college, and he just smiles and says how much he loves it out here. I think he’s had a really nice college experience. His time here is drawing close to an end, and that probably makes us both sad.

The air turns cold rather quickly, and the shadows have enveloped the course to the point where it’s almost impossible to see the ball, so we pack it up after a short par 3 and head back towards campus for dinner. We decide to go all-in on the Pittsburgh experience and head to Primanti Brothers. Noah is a native son of the ‘Burgh, so this choice makes him quite happy. Now, putting french fries and cole slaw on a sandwich has never been my idea of haute cuisine, so when my sandwich arrives, I take the bread and the fixings off and enjoy them on the side, as any sane human would. Plus, it’s just way too big to try and handle. I suppose this is where I could make a joke about Steelers fans’ physiques, but I’ll refrain, just this once.

We watch some college football as we eat. North Texas is playing Southern Mississippi, I think. I don’t know. All I know is that major college football isn’t the same this September. Notre Dame destroyed Central Florida (or is it South Florida? I should pay more attention). Without the traditional Power 5 schools playing, Saturdays just aren’t quite the same. I imagine the executives at ESPN feel the same way.

I drive the boys back to campus. We’re all pretty exhausted. I ask them what their plans are for the night, forgetting that nobody is allowed to have parties or social gatherings of more than 6 people. College life in the time of coronavirus. I sure hope they can have parties and graduation in the spring. I tease Noah about rooting for the second-place team in the AFC North and say goodnight.

When I get to the hotel, I settle in and watch the Celtics and Heat playing in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. It’s so weird to realize that it’s mid-September and there’s playoff basketball on, but the games and the teams have been compelling, and I’ve been enjoying pro basketball more than I usually do. That’s definitely a result of not having any sports to watch during the spring and summer. But I’m grateful to have it now. And Bam Adebayo of the Heat has quickly become my new favorite player. So I stay awake and watch the game to the end, even though I’m tired.

Today was a good day.

Sunday morning is a carbon copy of Saturday. The wind has picked up a little bit, and it’s chilly and bright and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. Thomas comes over and we have breakfast in my room together. We talk about his classes and life on campus and we watch Sunday NFL Countdown. We both pick the Ravens to win big against Houston. After a segment on Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, we head over to campus. He’s playing 8 on 8 soccer on the turf field at their stadium.

Although fall sports have been postponed for Westminster College, and all the other schools in the Presidents Athletic Conference, the men’s soccer team has been working out and practicing regularly. They’ve been told that the plan is to have a conference season next spring. Watching them scrimmage, I sure hope so. The guys are in shape and talented and fast. They play on a 60-yard field, and there are really no rules. There’s no offsides and no fouls called. It’s physical and there are lots of shots on goal.

Thomas is a goalie. He fell in love with playing keeper around 10 years ago, and he pursued it throughout middle school and high school. He’s quite good. He has long arms and broad shoulders and quick reflexes. He’s also fearless in the net, which is a good quality for any goalkeeper. And he has a short memory, another strong trait required for that position. He’s always been really even-keeled. He doesn’t get too emotional, either on the field or off. I’ve always called him my old soul.

It’s great to see him play for four years in college. He hasn’t played much in games. In fact, he only appeared in one half of a game last year. We talked about it over the spring and the summer, and while he expressed some frustration at his lack of playing time, I encouraged him to go out again this year. I told him that I thought he might regret not playing his senior year, that this would probably be his best chance to finally win the job, and that after three years of putting in all the work, it would be kind of silly to walk away now. Plus, this was likely the end of the line for playing organized soccer for him, so why not give it everything he had? I’m proud of him for seeing it through.

I take a few pictures of him in action. As the boys continue to play, I walk the track around the field. I can hear an organ and voices singing, coming from the campus chapel. There are random soccer balls scattered around the turf and the track, so as I walk I pick them up and punt them back towards where the game is being played. This gives me an idea.

When was the last time you walked onto a football field? I’m asking because a football field is a lot bigger than you might imagine. 120 yards long by 53 yards wide. Television compresses the size and makes everything look closer than it really is. It’s been a while since I’ve been on one. I had forgotten just how much area the players have to cover.

So I gather up a couple of soccer balls and walk to the 23 yard line. I place one in the middle of the field and look at the goalposts. A 33-yard kick shouldn’t be a problem, right? Plus, I’m kicking a soccer ball, not a football. I pace off about 4 yards behind the ball and take my approach. My first boot is a low screamer that has no chance of clearing the crossbar. Realizing I need to finesse the ball a little more, my second attempt lofts up, high and lazy, and drops short and to the left. Now I’m embarrassed. One more try, one more approach, and this one soars high and fast and strong and starts hooking left…and hits the upright about 8 feet above the crossbar and bounces back towards me. No good. 0 for 3.

This gives me a whole new appreciation for Justin Tucker. That dude never misses extra points. And I couldn’t even make one. With a soccer ball. In my defense, I am 54 years old now.

The scrimmage ends and Thomas and I go grab some lunch. As we walk into the restaurant, the guy working the counter looks at me and says, “That’s a great slogan. Cool shirt. Where did you get it?” I had forgotten I was wearing my Nobody Cares – Work Harder tee shirt. I told him I was from Baltimore and that’s Lamar Jackson’s saying. He said, “Even though I’m a Steelers fan, that guy is so fun to watch. You guys are really lucky to have him.” I agree. It’s always nice to know the coolest player in the league is your quarterback.

We eat and watch some of the Steelers game. Big Ben throws an 80-yard touchdown pass to some rookie wide receiver and Thomas and I just laugh. That guy just won’t go away, will he? I tell Thomas that he was 4 years old when Big Ben was a rookie. Talk about ageless. We both agree that as long as he’s at quarterback, the Steelers will always be a threat. It’s so annoying. Thomas jokes about the Duck Hodges era last season and we laugh. I wish that era had lasted longer.

It’s time for me to head home. I slip Thomas a few dollars and we hug and I tell him to keep putting in the work. I’m going to miss him. Thanksgiving will be here soon, I hope.

Heading east, I notice that the trees are just beginning to turn. There are hints of orange and yellow in the tops. Autumn is approaching. I tune in to the Steelers game, hoping that somehow the Broncos can do Baltimore a favor and pull the upset. But some guy named Jeff Driskel takes a sack on 4th down near the end of the game and it’s over. I’m sure glad we’ve got Lamar. There are some pretty bad quarterbacks in the NFL.

I listen to the Sunday Drive on the Sirius/XM NFL channel as I get closer to home. It’s like the Red Zone Channel for radio, so you get to hear games from around the league as big moments are happening. I hear the final minutes of the Cowboys epic comeback against the Falcons. That figures. Has there ever been a team of chokers worse than the Falcons? I gave up on them after that embarrassment in the Super Bowl a few years ago.

I’m hustling now, pushing Lamar to get me home in time to watch the second half of the Ravens game. This bad boy glides. 90 really is the new 65. And I only see one trooper on the way. Good times.

470 miles in just over 34 hours. Lots of thoughts and lots of laughs and lots of sports and lots of memories made. Plus, I get to watch Lamar and the Ravens run away from the Texans in the second half from the comfort of my recliner. Texans – that’s another bad nickname.

It’s been a great weekend. I think we might just stay home next weekend. Maybe not, though.

After all, Lamar doesn’t play until Monday night. I mean, the real Lamar.

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Tuesday
September 22
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#2220



things people argue about...


I make it a rule to never barge into someone else's Twitter feed and bellyache about something they wrote. I mean, people have their opinions on things and if they maintain a certain position on a topic, who am I to try and convince them otherwise?

On an almost daily basis, I see people barking about insanely dumb stuff on Twitter. It's amazing, really. They get their feathers ruffled over something as benign as "Kansas City has the best kicker in football" and within minutes an all-out Twitter war is raging.

Let's start with that one, actually, since it's one of the more fresh social media stories out there.

On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 58 yard field goal in regulation to help get the Chiefs to overtime, then in sudden death, he kicked the game-winner from 58 yards after kicking two other successful field goals that were negated by a penalty and a time-out.

Best kicker in the NFL? Maybe, yes. Or, maybe not.

The announcing team (frankly, I have no idea who it even was because....here's a tip from the top...I never care at all who the announcers are for any game, Ravens or otherwise) then mentioned that Butker "just might be the best kicker in the NFL right now."

Cue the maniacs here in Charm City, who took great offense to that commentary and immediately launched into a wild defense of Justin Tucker. It started a lengthy back-and-forth with Chiefs fans and morphed into an evening long Twitter battle. All because a couple of TV announcers thought Butker might be better than Tucker.

I actually posted something about Butker -- without knowing what the TV announcers said, since I didn't watch the game -- but in no way was I trying to engage anyone into a debate about Justin Tucker. I merely pointed out that having to make three consecutive kicks like that in overtime was really a "gut check" kind of moment for the kicker. Someone even dropped into my DM's (direct message) and said, "Ummm, you're forgetting that J. Tuck does that all the time."

No, I wasn't forgetting that, Sean. In fact, I didn't mention Justin Tucker's name. I was merely pointing out that the kicker in Kansas City had a big moment. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Twitter rage rolled on throughout Sunday night as people in Baltimore were spitting nails over the announcer's opinions about Butker.

Who freakin' cares? I mean, seriously, who cares one iota about what announcers say about any player, in any league? So a couple of guys think Harrison Butker is better than Justin Tucker. Who cares? Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. I don't know. But I do know that I don't care what two guys calling the game on TV think about it. That much I definitely know.


Every second or third Sunday, it seems, former Ravens defensive back Bernard Pollard draws the ire of people in Baltimore. Pollard will take to Twitter midway through a Ravens game and start complaining about something John Harbaugh does.

Or, he'll take a swipe at Lamar Jackson.

Pollard, in case you forgot, was a member of the 2012 Ravens team that won the Super Bowl. He was also the guy who couldn't usually go 14 minutes in a game without a cheap shot, a late hit, or an ill-timed penalty. The why and how of his departure remains unclear, but the fact of the matter was this: Pollard was a good player at times, but nothing more. He was a smidge better than Jim Leonhard, basically.

For some reason, though, Ravens fans love to spend part of their Sunday arguing with other folks about why Pollard was dismissed from the team. Yes, EIGHT seasons later, people are still whining about Pollard's exit. Maybe Harbaugh didn't like one of his players constantly creating turmoil on the field. Perhaps Harbaugh didn't like Pollard's habit of being overly aggressive in practice. Maybe Harbaugh just didn't like Pollard, period.

Who would you rather the Ravens have kept after 2012? John Harbaugh? Or Bernard Pollard?

Whatever the case, the whole thing happened eight years ago. And, to that end, it's not like Bernard Pollard went on to greatness elsewhere. He was, as the phrase goes, a journeyman NFL'er.

But even now, anti-Harbaugh folks prattle on about how Pollard was dealt a bad hand in Baltimore.

Who. Cares? Let. It. Go.


Skip Bayless made a comment last week about Dak Prescott and his battle with depression in the aftermath of his brother's suicide earlier this year and Bayless was raked over the coals for several days.

I didn't particularly agree with what Bayless said, but I also recognize he's a national sports talk "host" who spends hours a day offering opinions, insights and "hot takes" on the world of sports.

The work of Skip Bayless is almost entirely opinion based. It's not really rooted in fact because, as the business goes, opinions sell more than facts. If Bayless believes Dak Prescott's leadership skills might be diminished because of his depression issues, he can go ahead and say that. I don't agree, but I also get the idea that Bayless isn't trying to win me over. He's making an opinion on something sports related.

People on Twitter annihilated Bayless. The folks who run FOX -- you know, the group that encourages Bayless to say outrageous things to get viewers stirred up -- offered an apology on behalf of the network. The next day, forced, no doubt, to do so, Bayless offered a luke warm apology of sorts.

Why must everyone have to apologize for having an opinion on things? You said it. You own it. You might be right. You might be wrong. But this outrage in our country over things people say and opinions they give is incredibly weird.

"Give us your opinion on sports..."

"OK, here's my opinion..."

"What? Wait a minute!!! You can't have that opinion. You can only have the opinion that coincides with what OUR opinion is on that subject..."

I've never watched one second of Skip Bayless on television. Not because I don't like him. I've just never watched his show, ever. So maybe that's why what Skip Bayless said last week didn't bother me. Or maybe it's because I realize he's entitled to believe what he wants and the rest of us are entitled to believe what we want.

Either way, I'm not worried about Skip Bayless.


Golf enthusiasts and golf haters alike spent much of Monday frantically tearing apart Bryson DeChambeau's win at the U.S. Open on Sunday.

At the heart of the matter were three things: DeChambeau's "diet" and fitness program, his arm-lock putting style, and his mercurial personality.

People who love Bryson were thrilled that he won the country's national golf championship.

The other 95% of the folks in the country took to Twitter to take issue with his play and the methods he's been employing for the last four months.

Even 4-time major champion Rory McIlroy had a pouty lip in his post-tournament interview, dropping a veiled hint about Bryson's arm-lock putting method.

What kind of cheese goes well with sour grapes, I wonder?

The easiest part of the debate to settle is the one about DeChambeau's putting style, which includes locking his putter shaft against his left forearm.

Here's how you settle the debate: It's legal.

End of debate.

It's not a gray area. It's not "suspicious". It's nothing. It's entirely legal for a professional golfer to lock his arm against the shaft of his putter. If it wasn't legal, DeChambeau (and others, like Matt Kuchar) wouldn't be doing it.

Does it give him an advantage? Maybe. His putting stats weren't great at Winged Foot. Frankly, putting is one of the weaker parts of his overall game. So if it is giving him an advantage, it's an undetectable one at this point.

Back in the 1980's and 1990's, South African golfers were known for taking beta blockers before tournament rounds. Beta blockers were drugs used to reduce blood pressure and stress on the heart. Whether they did anything or not, golf wise, South African players believed taking them was a way to manage stress during a round.

There was nothing illegal about it. Unconventional? Sure. Medical risk, perhaps? But entirely legal.

DeChambeau's diet and workout regimen should be of no concern. He eats strange, organic foods and makes his own protein shake made up of various nutrients most of us have never heard of, let alone consumed. He did all of this in an effort to put on substantial body mass, which he succeeded in doing. PGA Tour players are tested for performance enhancing drugs twice in each tournament they play in. If DeChambeau is somehow beating the system, he has one heck of a protocol in place.

And about his personality. Well liked on TOUR? Maybe not. But you know who else out there wasn't particularly well liked recently? Brooks Koepka. You know what he did over three years? He won four major titles, that's what.

Whether folks want to admit it or not, winning on the PGA Tour these days requires an isolated mindset that looks and seems snobby, so to speak. There's not much time for friends or kind, gentle banter. You get up, eat, work out, practice, play, practice some more, eat dinner and go to bed. The 125th player on TOUR might not do that, which is why he's 125th. But the great players have a certain level of "a-hole" in them that is required if you want to be the best golfer in the world and beat everyone in major championships.

Golf instructor George Gankas had a poignant comment about Matthew Wolff, his student, earlier in the year, and I couldn't help but wonder if part of what Gankas told Wolff was one source of inspiration for his outstanding play coming out of college. "I tell my students all the time," Gankas said. "In order to be a great player, you have to think you're a great player. You have to act like you're great, talk like you're great and carry yourself on the course as if you're great. And I think the sooner you do that, the sooner you'll be great. You can become great much more quickly if you act like you're great, even when you aren't."

Deep stuff, there. It echoes something I believe in as well. "Every great putter I've seen believes in his heart he's a great putter." It's true. I've never met someone who putted great who didn't already think he was a great putter.

DeChambeau most certainly thinks he's "found something" with his scientific approach to the game. Whether it's because he read and can understand Homer Kelley's The Golfing Machine when most people can't get past page 15...or because he's really good at math and equations and understands how to make them work in golf...or because he's developed a mindset that he's better than everyone else and is out to prove it.

Whatever the case, that certain level of "a-hole" that you need to win on TOUR fits DeChambeau's quest to a tee. He's really, really good. And he knows it. And...he's winning.

Bryson DeChambeau just won the U.S. Open and people spent most of Monday trying to tear him down instead of simply saying, "Well played, man. You worked your tail off for six months to change your body and your approach to the game and most of the world doubted you. But you earned that win on Sunday at Winged Foot."

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americans abroad


Last weekend was quite exciting for American soccer players in Europe.

The US National team had players contributing to wins for European Champions Bayern Munich, Italian Champions Juventus, European semifinalist RB Leipzig, and perennial German contenders Borussia Dortmund, while another player was at the center of a bidding war between European giants Barcelona and Bayern Munich. All that was without Chrisitian Pulisic contributing, as he remained sidelined for Chelsea’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool recovering from an injury.

In Germany, 17 year old Gio Reyna got his season off to a strong start. Reyna started as an attacking mid for Borussia Dortmund and opened the scoring with a well taken shot tucked into the far corner, his first career Bundesliga goal. He later drew a penalty kick after sparking a counter attack to lead to another Dortmund goal en route to a 3-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Young center back Chris Richards received a 20 minute substitute appearance for reigning European Champions Bayern Munich in their dominant 8-0 season opening win.

Midfielder Weston McKennie continues to perform well in Germany and figures to be a mainstay in the U.S. lineup as the team prepares for 2022 World Cup qualifying.

In Leipzig, Tyler Adams started and played the full game at center midfield in a 3-1 win over Mainz. Adams’s ball winning ability helped Leipzig repeatedly regain possession and control the flow of the game.

Josh Sargent started and played the full game for Werder Bremen in a 4-1 loss to Hertha Berlin. Sargent was deployed a bit out of position in a left midfield role and was beaten by his mark at the back post for Berlin’s first goal. He did produce a strong left footed shot that forced a tough save for the keeper, but was unable to get on the score sheet.

In Wolfsburg, John Brooks started and played the full game at center back. He helped Wolfsburg keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

Weston McKennie was another headlining American this week, as he got the start and played the full game for his new team, Italian Champions Juventus. McKennie looked at home in center midfield in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria. He set up a goal when he forced a difficult save and teammate Leonardo Bonucci put back the rebound. Late in the game, McKennie nearly got a goal of his own with a hard bouncing shot that the goalie kept out by the thinnest of margins. It appears that playing with higher quality teammates could bring out the best in McKennie’s game.

Over in the Netherlands, Sergino Dest saw only a 10 minute sub appearance at left back in Ajax’s 3-1 victory. However, the bigger news for Dest is the apparent tug of war between Barcelona and Bayern Munich to secure his transfer. Barcelona sold their current right back, Nelson Semedo, to Wolverhampton over the weekend, potentially opening a spot for Dest if the transfer can be worked out.

Tim Weah received another late substitute appearance for Lille in a 1-1 draw. Weah played the last 15 minutes as a lone striker and nearly got on the end of a cross for a game winning goal, but could not quite connect.

Reggie Cannon got the start and played the full game at right back in a 3-3 draw for his new club, Portuguese side, Boavista.

There has been a lot of talk about a potential golden generation of American soccer players. While it will take years to see if that pans out, it's certainly safe to say there have never been this many American players simultaneously performing well for top level, Champions League quality, European clubs. The most inspiring aspect of this cohort is the youth of the players.

With the exception of John Brooks, every player mentioned in today’s report is under 23 years old. So the real question may be, is this a golden generation or just the start of a trend of increasing numbers of quality American players overseas?

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

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Monday
September 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2219



good news...everywhere


We'll get to Bryson DeChambeau and the Ravens in a minute. I promise.

I felt like today would be a perfect opportunity to welcome our newest corporate partner to #DMD. What better day to introduce you to a new friend than the morning after a remarkable U.S. Open golf championship and another Ravens blowout, right?

As the title says, "there's good news everywhere!"

I'd like to officially welcome Freestate Electrical to the #DMD family. Freestate specializes in commercial and industrial electricity, so any business owners or property owners who frequent #DMD will hopefully take note and keep Freestate's contact information handy.

You can click on their ad either on the right side of the page or within the content below and visit their outstanding website. You can contact Freestate through their website as well.

Freestate Electrical will be the exclusive sponsor of a weekly piece here at #DMD called "Faith in Sports". It will run every Friday and feature faith testimonials from various athletes and coaches in the world of sports.

As I've said from the first day of #DMD, all the way back on August 25, 2014, the idea of this website is loosely centered on the phrase "people helping people." If you're in need of commercial or industrial electrical work, we'd ask that you give Freestate Electrical a shot at obtaining your business. They would help you. And you'd be helping #DMD. We're all working together, of course.

Over the years, #DMD readers have become loyal to our corporate partners, which I greatly appreciate. As you look at the website today, please patronize our partners whenever the situation presents itself. We continue to provide a free, daily website here because of the partners on the site now and those who have marketed with us in previous years.

Thanks again to Freestate Electrical for their support of #DMD!!


Also, on a personal note, for those of you who are listeners to 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore, I will be a guest on Jeremy Conn's show tonight at 7:30 pm to talk U.S. Open, Bryson DeChambeau and anything else Jeremy wants to chat about. You can either listen on the radio or online through the Fan's website or any of the other radio platforms you might use.

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ravens cruise in houston


It's not often that a 33-16 road win is met with a morsel of disdain, but that's what happened on Sunday when the Ravens cooked up a decent-but-not-great performance in Houston en-route to a 17-point triumph.

Hey, a win's a win, friends. Ask the Falcons about the value of coming out on top no matter the final score or how its done.

With the Texans doing a good job of limiting Lamar Jackson and with Baltimore's offensive line getting manhandled, the Ravens were "only" ahead 20-10 at halftime. The game was over, of course, but the Ravens' lukewarm first-half performance gave social media experts the opportunity to pounce.

Mark Ingram's 4th quarter touchdown run on 4th and 1 gave the Ravens plenty of breathing room in their 33-16 victory at Houston on Sunday.

"Overrated," was a claim thrown around a lot at halftime. I snickered at that one. Most teams would love to be up by 10 on the road and be overrated.

"I told you, all you have to do is stop Lamar and the Ravens can't play," some goof opined on Twitter. That, of course, might actually be a true statement, except for the fact that the Texans didn't actually stop Lamar and the Ravens were ahead by ten points, on the road.

"The league's starting to figure Lamar out," a few others claimed. "Yeah, they sure are," I said to myself. "I mean, he does have three losses in his last 19 NFL games..."

Was it Baltimore's best performance of the last two years? Not really. But the other team has players on scholarship too, let's not forget. And the Texans were staring at an 0-2 start and facing the eye-opening statistic about teams who don't win one of their first two games. Since 1990, only 13% of the teams who lost their first two games have turned it around and made the post-season. So it made total sense to see Houston put up a fight on Sunday.

But the Texans were never winning on Sunday, despite having the best helmets in the league. Their quarterback, speaking of overrated, just isn't good enough to lead his team to a win over one of the best three teams in football, home game, away game or neutral site game. Houston's defense is good and they must certainly gave the Ravens' offensive line fits, but the Ravens were always going to figure out a way to get into the 30's and that, right there, was the ballgame.

The games against the junior varsity are a temporary thing of the past, though. Kansas City comes steaming into town next Monday night in what will be one of the most anticipated regular season games of the last decade. Bragging rights between two of the NFL's best quarterbacks are at stake, not to mention the possibility of hosting the AFC title game in January should the two teams work their way through the new playoff format and make it that far.

There will be lots of opinions over the next seven days about the importance of the game and, more specifically, about Lamar's performance against a high quality team. Some will say -- mark my words -- that next Monday night is akin to a playoff game and......well......you know what that means as it relates to Lamar Jackson. But next Monday night isn't a playoff game, no matter how many people try and weave it that way. The Ravens can win next Monday by 30 points, but if Lamar lays another first round post-season egg in January, that's the moment that will shape his first three years in the league.

For now, let's enjoy a 33-16 win in Houston.

There was a time, circa 2005, when a 17-point road triumph was seen as a reason to celebrate. If Kyle Boller engineered the Ravens to a 33-16 road win against anyone, there was a parade in downtown Baltimore on Monday afternoon. So let's be sure and remember that winning on the road in the NFL is hard to do. And let's keep in mind, please, that 2-0 is always, always, always better than 1-1.

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dechambeau breaks through


In the end, one player broke par after 72 holes at Winged Foot.

And only one player managed to shoot an under par round on Sunday at the U.S. Open.

Bryson DeChambeau was the man who did both of those things, as the former U.S. Amateur titleist added one of golf's biggest trophies to his man cave after a final round 67 gave him a 6-under par total and a 6-shot win over Matthew Wolff.

In winning the title, DeChambeau showed that all of the changes he made earlier in the year paid off. He not only gained 45 pounds and changed his entire body shape, he used that bigger size to also change his philosophy on the golf course.

Bryson DeChambeau made just one bogey in Sunday's final round at the U.S. Open, winning the first major championship of his career.

"I started out in 2020 wanting to get to the point where I could overpower a golf course and bring it to its knees," DeChambeau said on Sunday evening with the trophy by his side. "This week...I did that here at Winged Foot."

Indeed he did. DeChambeau did what everyone assumed was impossible. He tamed the 7,400 yard beast by hitting only 41% of the fairways over four days (23 of 46). Had you seen the script before the event began last Thursday and saw that DeChambeau would hit an average of just under six fairways per-day, it's likely you would have said, flatly, "Well, we know he's not winning."

But win he did, mostly because on the fairways he did miss, DeChambeau's length routinely left him with a wedge in his hand to reach the green. While his fairway stats weren't great, his greens-in-regulations numbers were staggering, as the champion hit 64% of the greens (46 of 72) over four days.

If you're looking for one hole yesterday that told the story, it came at the 16th hole, a 510 yard par--4 that was the start of a terrorizing final three holes on Winged Foot's famed West Course. Staked at the time to a 4-shot lead, all DeChambeau did on the 16th hole was drive his ball over a line of trees that extended some 290 yards down the entire left side of the hole. His ball cleared the trees by 20 yards, bounded into the fairway, and Bryson was left with 138 yards to the pin.

Here's the simple math again. The hole played 510 yards. DeChambeau was left with 138 yards to the pin. He hit driver, wedge, on a 510 yard hole.

Whether yesterday's win is the only major he ever wins or the first of a half dozen or more is anyone's guess. But here's what's not a guess: DeChambeau should be able to overpower Augusta National in November with even more ease than he blistered Winged Foot.

All four of the par 5's will be reachable at Augusta National. Barring something crazy happening with his driver at the Masters, the longest iron he'll have into a par 4 will likely come at #5, #10 or #11, where he could potentially have a 7-iron into the green on those three holes. Every other par 4 will be 8 iron, 9 iron, wedge or sand wedge.

The USGA will no doubt react accordingly to DeChambeau's dominant performance and go out of their way to make next year's U.S. Open even more difficult than 2020 at Winged Foot.

Here's what the USGA needs to understand. All they're doing by adding length to the courses is favoring the handful of players who can bomb it 350 yards off the tee. Want to make the U.S Open "better"? Here's how:

This will sound radical, but the way to improve the U.S. Open is to actually play the golf courses shorter, not longer. Grow the rough to 5 or 6 inches, like it was at Winged Foot. Narrow the fairways to 24 yards wide, like they were at Winged Foot. Get the greens glassy fast, like they were at Winged Foot. And......make the golf course 7,000 yards instead of 7,500 yards.

By doing that, you're not eliminating 75% of the field before the event starts. And you won't jeopardize the integrity of the course or open it up to a birdie-fest, either. The only way to make a golf course more difficult is to grow the rough, narrow the fairways and speed up the greens.

I played the Maryland Senior Amateur championship a couple of weeks ago at Rolling Road Golf Club, a quaint 6,100 yard test that features a 100-yard par-3 and three par-4 holes of 300 yards or less. One of the par-5's is 450 yards. Do you know how they made that course tough? The fairways were narrow and firm, the rough was up and the greens were fast. I mean, they were really fast.

The winning score for two days was 4-over par. Yes, the place is quirky and a few of the holes should be thrown into a wood chipper, but that's not the point. The point is, you don't have to have a 7,500 yard golf course in order to make it a difficult test. Rolling Road is a perfect testament to that. It can play an easy 6,100 yards or a difficult 6,100 yards, depending on how they set it up.

Yes, the longer a course the more difficult it is, generally. That's true. If your course has a half dozen holes where a 5-iron is needed to reach the green in regulation and my course has one of those holes, it stands to reason that your place will yield higher scores. But with today's professionals, length doesn't seem to matter all that much. Narrow the fairways, grow the rough, speed up the greens. It's a simple equation if you want your golf course to play tough.

Bryson DeChambeau has figured out his equation, for certain. Drive the ball 350 yards, leave yourself with a wedge into 70% of the holes, stick a few approach shots close, and make 4 to 6 birdies per round.

No matter the course, that's a good formula to employ.

At Winged Foot, it was enough to bring a monster golf course to its knees while giving American golf yet another rising star to follow.

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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


As I do once in a while, I took the first cool days of the fall (ok, late summer) to go through my collection of colder-weather gear. I thought it was even more important this year—what with the fact that I don’t really need out-of-the-house work clothes, and because donations are more needed than ever.

In the heavy sweatshirt bin, I came across what was once a prized possession. Gray. Orange and white lettering. Team logo. ORIOLES. Postseason 2012. I wore it a lot for a few years; we had a couple really cold winters afterwards.

Time for it to go, I thought. I also thought about when I first got my hands on it.

As soon as I saw the guys on the team wearing them on the bench, I had to get one. I remember exactly when I did—Tuesday, October 9, 2012, the day after the Orioles had evened the ALDS at 1-1, Jim Johnson retiring the slightly-above average Yankee trio of Jeter, Ichiro and A-Rod in order to protect a one-run lead in the ninth. The series having shifted to New York, Eutaw Street and the stadium were open, and I popped down to the team store for it.

I think I was still in shock that the Orioles…yes, the Orioles…had just hosted two playoff games, against the Yankees in front of boisterous sellout crowds, and had even won one of them. Rightfully, fans look back to 2014 as the peak of the team’s excellent five-year stretch, but 2012 was more fun. It was new, exciting, unexpected.

A few weeks before the playoffs, I’d been in the stands for the entirety of a five-hour, 14-inning epic Thursday afternoon game against Tampa Bay, which finally ended when rookie Manny Machado blooped a single into left field. The feeling of excitement in that moment was unusual, for Orioles’ fans anyway.

You may have forgotten that the Orioles weren’t always destined for the Wild Card game either. After sweeping the Red Sox, they were tied with the Yankees at 92-67. Unfortunately, the Yankees had the last-place Sox after that. Then again, that Wild Card game in Texas was really cool, up to and including the celebration after Johnson recorded the final flyball out.

32 players recorded an at-bat that season for the Orioles. Only one of them, Chris Davis, is still on the team, and we know all about him. 26 pitchers appeared in at least one game, and none are on the team anymore. It was a long time ago now, though it doesn’t always seem like it. The sweatshirt will soon be gone, but never forgotten.


In what can only be described as a stunning reversal, the Big Ten Conference announced Saturday that it indeed would be playing football this fall.

So, let’s recap. The league released an updated 10-game schedule on August 13, only to cancel the season less than a week later. Commissioner Kevin Warren seemed adamant that the decision was final. A few schools were, um, not very happy. One of them has a dotted “i” in its name and is pretty good at football.

Then, exactly one month later, here comes the season…eight conference games for each team, beginning October 24, and then a ninth game for each team on December 19 during something the league is calling “Champions Week,” about which details will be announced at a later time. Apparently, one of those details is that every game will be “East vs. West,” including the conference championship game between the winners of each division.

Maryland will still (unfortunately) play each of its East Division opponents, three of which they will likely lose to by at least four touchdowns. The two games against the other division are against Northwestern, on the road, and Minnesota, at home. I say 2-6.

The new schedule also keeps most of those last-game-of-the-year rivalries, albeit on December 12 instead of a few weeks earlier. Those include Michigan-Ohio State, Indiana-Purdue and Illinois-Northwestern.

With all that out of the way, let’s discuss the main issue…which is the following question. Did the Big Ten cave to the large amount of pressure it was facing, from a whole host of parties, or did it simply decide the scientific evidence was enough to allow the games to go on?

The press conference to announce this new schedule featured a doctor, the one who leads the conference’s group of team physicians. There were no coaches there, and only a few athletic directors. Clearly, Warren and crew would like for you to believe the evidence-based decision.

I’m guessing that, in reality, this decision came for a little of both reasons. The league doesn’t exactly look like it succumbed to pressure from parents, coaches and even the President of the United States, but it did decide that if Central Arkansas can be playing, then so can Wisconsin.

Now, of course, we get to find out if the stringent rules the conference will put in place during the nine-game season will work well enough to avoid any game postponements or cancellations. Even one of them would make some people wonder whether it was worth it to change a decision that seemed to be set in stone.


The Ravens didn’t play all that well in Houston, to be honest. I thought they were strangely inefficient for too much of the game, and the offensive coaching staff took a while to adjust to what the Texans were doing on defense. I give the Texans’ defense some credit for making Lamar Jackson hold the ball longer than he usually does and for making it hard for Jackson to turn the corner on designed runs.

Jackson and the offense only scored two touchdowns, and one of them came on a short field after the Texans’ moderately questionable decision to keep the offense on the field on fourth down at their own 34-yard line on the final play of the first quarter. What can I say? We’re spoiled right now. We love Justin Tucker, who had another 4-for-4 day on field goals, but this team scores touchdowns!

What the Ravens are doing right now, however, is making the other team give up. Or, to give the opponent more credit than that, the Ravens are making their opponents understand that they’re up against something a little more than just another good team.

The owner of this site likes to go on Twitter early in Ravens’ games and declare the game over, much to the chagrin of some of his followers. But he’s right, I think, not so much because of what’s already happened in the game, but because what he knows is going to happen after halftime.

It was mildly annoying, for instance, when the Ravens could do nothing after a great Marcus Peters interception and then allowed the Titans to drive down the field for a field goal at the halftime buzzer. What I thought would be 27-7 was instead 20-10.

But no worries. Whenever they want to, the Ravens can use up most of a quarter. That’s what they did right after halftime, using 14 plays and nearly nine minutes on the clock on their first possession of the half.

And then…whenever they want to, the Ravens can strike quickly. A big Jackson run at the time when it was needed the most. A “pop” pass to Willie Snead that went for 22 yards. And then a play the Texans clearly weren’t ready for…the direct snap run to Mark Ingram, who only needed to find one hole against the sold-out defense to get to the end zone.

Game over, and point made. The Ravens will grind you down, and then they’ll blow right by you. They can, and will, do both every game until someone proves they can stop it from happening.

On to Kansas City, for the Game of the Year in the NFL…



#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 2


Sunday— September 20, 2020

Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

4:25 PM EDT

NRG Stadium
Houston, TX

Spread: Ravens (-7.0)



can't win 'em all unless you win the first two


I've seen a lot of Twitter pundits and supposed NFL "experts" calling today's Ravens-Texans tilt a "trap game" for John Harbaugh's team.

They can think that all they want, but the Ravens don't fall for such things. Especially not in week 2. The Ravens could fall for something like that if they were 8-1 and had been reading their press clippings for two months and were already three games up in the AFC North. Maybe...just maybe...they'd have an off day because they were looking ahead to the Kansas Chiefs.

But this Ravens team knows better than to look past the Texans to the Chiefs. So, as you can tell, I'm not buying the "trap game" theory.

Deshaun Watson and the Texans will have their hands full today with the Ravens speedy, ball-hawking defense.

What I am buying, as you'll see below, is a Ravens team going into Houston and lighting up the Texans today. I say that happens far more often than the Ravens somehow snoozing their way through a 24-20 loss.

Now, obviously, something weird could happen today. Lamar could get injured in the first quarter with the Ravens already down 7-3 and Robert Griffin III would have to lead John Harbaugh's team for the game's final 45 minutes. And if that scenario somehow played out, sure, the Ravens could lose.

Over the years, the Ravens have been prone to one really stinky defensive performance, almost out of nowhere. Last year it was the big 40-25 home loss to the Browns in week 4. Back in 2017, they got throttled in London by the Jaguars, 44-7. So, once in a while, the Baltimore defense just fails to show up and they get plastered. Today could be one of those days. But all I'm doing is trying to create a scenario that could see Houston win. And my guess is that's not happening today.

Yes, those are the only two things that can derail this Ravens side in 2020: injuries and a fluke, once-a-season poor defensive performance.

I'm sure the Ravens are looking forward to tangling with the Chiefs next Monday night in Baltimore. But I'm also sure they're not forgetting about the Texans in the meantime.

On a side note, related today because of the opponent, I've seen and heard a lot of people this week clamoring over Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. I'm not trying to stir the pot here, but I just don't see what all the fuss is about. I mean, he's a good quarterback and all, but all of this yapping about how he's one of the game's five best QB's has me puzzled. He was obviously a tremendous college athlete and he's had some success in the NFL, but I don't see what all the hoopla is about when it comes to Watson's rise up the QB ladder. When he wins something of significance at the pro level, I'll be impressed.

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by the percentages


0% chance that the two teams don't combine for more than 34 points. I could see Baltimore winning by something like 30-7, but even that's over 34.

20% chance that the Ravens don't allow Houston to score an offensive touchdown.

40% chance that the Baltimore rushing numbers go over 150 yards this afternoon. This sets up to be a "ground and pound" game that opens up Lamar's arm.

60% chance the Ravens win the game by double digits. We had this same percentage for last week's Browns game and, well, we were right. This could be another romp today vs. the Texans.

80% chance that Deshaun Watson throws for under 300 yards. Who does he throw to now that DeAndre Hopkins is no longer out there?

100% chance the Baltimore offense totals at least 400 yards. I can hear the highlights tonight during Sunday Night Football: And it was another big day for reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense in Houston."

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how drew sees today's game


The Ravens score on their first offensive possession, just like last week vs. Cleveland, with Jackson keeping it himself and running in from 4 yards out to stake Baltimore to a quick 7-0 lead.

A fumble recovery by Brandon Williams on the next series gives Baltimore the ball deep in Houston territory and two plays later, Jackson hits Mark Andrews on a 16-yard touchdown throw to make it 14-0 early.

Another blowout win for the Ravens? That's what it looks like...

Houston gets a late first quarter field goal to cut it to 14-3.

J.K. Dobbins runs for 48 yards on the next series but it's Mark Ingram who scampers in for the touchdown from 6 yards out and it's 21-3, Ravens. Houston does manage to score a touchdown just before halftime to make it 21-10 at the intermission.

A Chuck Clark interception in the 3rd quarter gives the Ravens good field position once again and it pays off for Jackson and Hollywood Brown, as Lamar finds his favorite wide receiver target on a long, looping 39 yard throw to make it 28-10.

Justin Tucker connects from 49 yards out late in the 3rd quarter to push Baltimore's lead to 31-10.

Early in the fourth quarter, after Houston goes for it on 4th and 2 from their own 44 and fails to get it, Jackson again connects with Hollywood, this time from 33 yards, and the Ravens push the lead to 38-10.

The Texans get a kickoff return for a touchdown to save face just a tad; Ravens lead 38-17 with 6 minutes remaining.

Late in the game, Watson gets the ball knocked out of his hand by Matthew Judon and L.J. Fort picks it up and runs 21 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring.

The Ravens improve to 2-0 with a 45-17 romp in Houston.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Can Bill Belichick take Cam Newton to Seattle and come out with a win tonight?

Game of the Day -- It should be "Game of the Night", technically, as Seattle hosts New England in the Sunday Night game. Sure, New England beat Miami last week, but what have we really learned thus far about Cam Newton and the new look Patriots? Does Bill Belichick still have the magic or will his Pats go to Seattle without Brady and get clobbered? The Seahawks, meanwhile, have a great opportunity early on to make a statement in the NFC West. This should be a good one. We have Seattle winning 30-17.

Dud of the Day -- Giants (0-1) at Bears (1-0) seems pretty lousy to me. New York got handled by Pittsburgh on Monday night, at home no less, and the Bears were really fortunate to beat the Lions in Detroit last Sunday. I mean, really fortunate. Call this one a 17-9 Chicago win and set the over/under on how many times you nod off while watching it at 2.5.

Most To Prove -- Several "good" teams lost on opening weekend, including Dallas and New Orleans, but the only good team that got throttled at home was Minnesota. The Vikings travel to Indianapolis today to take on Philip Rivers and the Colts. It's week #2, so it's not "must win" or anything, but Minnesota definitely needs to prove that last Sunday's home loss to Green Bay was a one-time thing.

Lock of the Day -- We missed last week's "lock" when Miami failed to cover at New England, so let's redeem ourselves today, shall we? Arizona giving Washington seven points seems low...and at home, even more puzzling. We see the Cardinals winning this one to the tune of something like 33-13. Math was never my strong suit at Glen Burnie H.S., but that seems like a "cover". We're high on the Cardinals this season and the Washington Football Team will see why today out in Glendale.

AFC North predictions -- Ravens beat the Texans. Steelers get another decent day from Big Ben and beat up on the pretty awful Broncos, 27-10.

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there's a lot on the line today at winged foot


Anything could happen today in the final round of the U.S. Open.

Want a crazy scenario? Webb Simpson produces one of his stellar putting rounds and shoots 67 to go from 3 over par to even and wins his 2nd U.S. Open title. The rest of the leaders and those around him all crumble under the delightfully painful course set up at Winged Foot and Simpson plays "the round of his life" to step into the winner's circle again.

I'm not saying that's going to happen, by the way. I'm simply saying anything could happen today, like Simpson coming back from 3 over par to win.

I'll give you my winner below, but let's look at what happened on Saturday in round 3.

Matt Wolff's round of 65 should be remembered as one of the best rounds in U.S. Open history because that's precisely what it was, particularly when you consider the former Oklahoma State star hit just 2 of 14 fairways on Saturday. But Wolff's ultra-steep golf swing has been his biggest friend this week, as it allows him to more easily negotiate those awful lies in the rough. To wit, even on the 12 fairways he missed, he still hit the green 10 times. For the day, Wolff hit 13 of 18 greens, which was tied for 3rd in the field.

A lot has been made about his quirky, weird swing, but, as the saying goes, "the ball has no idea how the clubface got back to square at impact". Wolff, at 21, is already an elite TOUR ball striker. But if he can't find his driver swing in round four and if he only hits 2 of 14 fairways today, he'll likely lose. As Patrick Reed demonstrated yesterday, you can go to the well too often.

Reed was cruising along at 5 under par and tied for the lead on the 10th hole yesterday. Two hours later, he had authored one of the worst nine hole stretches in recent major championship history -- from a leader, that is -- and was on the verge of shooting himself out of the tournament after an inward 43 and a second round score of 77. What happened to Reed? What didn't happen to him? He couldn't hit a fairway on the back nine, only hit two greens in regulation, muffed a couple of chip shots around the green, and failed to make a putt of any length. Everything that went right for him in the first two rounds went wrong for him on Saturday's back nine.

Could Bryson DeChambeau become a first-time major champion winner as a professional this afternoon at Winged Foot?

Bryson DeChambeau showed up at Winged Foot with a game plan to attack and overpower the course and most folks scoffed at it. With 18 holes remaining, DeChambeau is locked into perfect position at 3-under par. He has, as he said he would, used his driver throughout the opening 54 holes and has hit 40% of the fairways and a whopping 65% of the greens in regulation. Like Wolff, DeChambeau's steep swing and ability to power the ball out of the rough has been critical to his success thus far. DeChambeau has won at golf's biggest stage in recent years, capturing both the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Individual Title. It wouldn't be a surprise in the least to see him win today. He's ready.

Of the guys at even par or worse, three of them stick out to me: Xander Schauffele (even), Rory McIlroy (+1) and Lucas Glover (+3). Glover has posted three straight rounds of 71 and has a history of playing well on tough courses, like Bethpage Black, where he won the Open in 2009. If he can nip a couple of shots off of that score today and shoot 68, a one-over par total could be good enough. The golf course is going to play very, very difficult this afternoon. Even par will be a great score. McIlroy also needs one of those two under rounds like he authored in Saturday's third round. He's not out of it by a longshot. Schauffele has quietly produced three steady rounds of 68-72-70 to put himself firmly in the hunt. The thought here is that he winds up winning today with a 69 and a one-under par total.

It was good to see two guys who didn't play well yesterday -- Patrick Reed and Justin Thomas -- still show up for their media obligations after their round on Saturday. Neither of those guys were short or curt with the media. They answered all the questions thrown at them and did so in relatively good spirits. That was a great lesson for young golfers. If you're going to make yourself available to the media after shooting 66 or 67, you also have to make yourself available to the media after a 76 (Thomas) or 77 (Reed).

A few weeks back, I played in a tournament in York, PA. A player -- mid 20's assistant golf professional in Southern PA -- in my group played poorly and shot 89. Afterwards, he signed his scorecard and handed it to me and said, "Can you turn this in for me?" I handed it back and said, "Absolutely not. You turn in your own card. If you would have shot 69 instead of 89, I bet you'd leave me in the dust getting to the scorer's tent to turn in your card in front of all of your friends." He didn't like my answer, but I hope he learned something that day. It's your score. You shot it. You own it. Reed and Thomas owned their scores yesterday, which was good to see.

It's worth noting that a spot on the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team is on the line this afternoon (if an American wins, obviously). While a position in the top 8 wouldn't be completely locked up, it would take something crazy to happen for an American winner of today's Open to not be part of next year's Ryder Cup squad. That means this afternoon's final round is particularly important for someone like Matt Wolff or Harris English. While guys like Thomas, Reed, DeChambeau and Schauffele are already virtually locked into next year's team (meaning they'll all either make it or be a captain's pick), Wolff and English have to play their way onto the team. A win today would just about do that for them.

It bears repeating, again, that Winged Foot is one of the country's best U.S. Open golf courses. If the USGA doesn't make it part of their regular Open rotation, they're crazy. Sure, the place is almost borderline impossible to play at this point, with the fairways holding almost no ball that lands there off the tee. And the green complexes are incredibly fascinating and difficult. But this week's Open looks like the U.S. Open we all grew to love circa 1990, when par was your friend and a triple bogey could be made without really hitting an "awful" shot.

The U.S. Open once had a saying: "We're not trying to embarrass the best players...we're trying to identify them." I think that still stands true today. The guy who wins today will be the player who played the best golf over four rounds on one of the best tournament golf courses in the country...maybe even the world.



Saturday
September 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2217



father time has the wrong guy


You can understand Phil Mickelson's golf game starting to dwindle. He's 50 now.

And it's easy to see why Tiger Woods can't do it any longer. Age and four back surgeries aren't a tonic for hitting fairways and greens.

But why has Father Time put his hands around the neck of Jordan Spieth? He's only 27 years old. Check the birth certificate, Father.

That all three of those guys aren't playing the weekend at Winged Foot isn't a great shock. It's the how and why of it all that isn't easy to understand when it comes to Spieth, who won three major titles before his 24th birthday and hasn't won a golf tournament since July of 2017.

Mickelson bowed out gracefully on Friday, shooting a second round 74 to finish at 153 for the two days, far outside the 6-over par cut line. Friday's play was a massive improvement over a sloppy first-round 79, where Phil hit one shockingly bad shot and said to himself, surrounded by cameras and a hot mic, "I'm so sick of this..."

He arrived at Winged Foot in desperate hope of righting his biggest career wrong, a final hole double bogey in 2006 when he had the U.S. Open all but wrapped up. His recent dedication to a coffee-based diet has Phil looking more like 40 years old than 50. Less than a month ago, he played a Champions Tour event on a whim and lapped the field, winning his debut tournament on the senior circuit with ease.

Jordan Spieth won three major titles before his 24th birthday but is winless since that British Open triumph in 2017.

While his PGA Tour play hasn't been all that great in 2020, there's always hope that Mickelson-at-a-Major draws something out of the lefthander that few players in the world can find.

But as this week showed at Winged Foot, Father Time has won yet again. Mickelson, like many players over time, has tried desperately over the last year to add distance to his game off the tee. He's made changes in nutrition, fitness and golf swing in order to accommodate that effort to hit the ball farther off the tee. What it yielded, unfortunately, was a higher score. You can't turn back the clock.

Woods is six years younger than Phil, but that hasn't stopped Father Time from putting his foot down and saying, "Enough!" Tiger did manage to win twice in the last 18 months and both victories were substantial to say the least. Against all odds, he claimed a 15th major championship in April of 2019 at the Masters, then tied Sam Snead's career record of 82 wins with a victory in Japan last November.

But, as S.E. Hinton once wrote: That was Then, This is Now.

Other than a 45-minute window during Thursday's opening round at Winged Foot where Tiger reeled off three straight birdies, nothing about his game over the opening 36 holes reminded anyone of the Tiger Woods who beat everyone with one-hand-tied-behind-his-back for close to 15 years. He barely hit enough fairways to qualify for the first flight at your local club championship, which was the number one game crusher at Winged Foot, especially for a 44-year old with a bad back. His work around the greens was shockingly bad, including two consecutive double bogeys at the 18th hole where his ball was 25 yards short of the pin in two shots on both Thursday and Friday.

What do you get when Father Time shows up to strangle you and your nerves are gone? You get 73-77, 10-over-par, and a late Friday flight back to Jupiter, Florida to spend the weekend watching your kids play soccer.

The only small sliver of hope for both Tiger and Phil is a place called Augusta National. It's there that those two will always have a chance to win because the course is the course is the course. There's never any "rough", the length can't be changed all that much, and the nuances of the greens were long ago mastered -- no pun intended -- by both players. It would not be a shock in the least to see either player win again at the Masters. They're both that good at that course.

But on the whole, it's over for Phil and Tiger. Not that we needed a performance like we saw from both of them at Winged Foot to confirm it, but what we saw over the last two days at the U.S. Open cements what we already suspected. Father Time wins again.

What, then, do we make of the career collapse of Jordan Spieth? Surely it's not an age thing. It's not "physical", either. Spieth hasn't had any kind of injury or threatening body issue that has led him down the dark hole he's currently occupying. What happened?

Why didn't Father Time pick on someone older who deserved it? Why not diminish the skills of someone like Matt Kuchar? Or Zach Johnson? Or, even, 47-year old Stewart Cink, who was a winner last week on TOUR after going 11 years without a win? Why not those guys, all in their 40's, all of whom fit the bill more than 27 year old Spieth?

Spieth, like many others, spent lots of time in 2018 trying to master a new move that would provide him with more distance off the tee. Days and months of watching his good buddy Justin Thomas hit it 40 yards past him off the tee must have worn Spieth down. So, as they say on TOUR, Spieth "chased distance" in an effort to keep up with the (much) younger guys who were coming out of college and pounding it 325 yards off the tee.

And what did "chasing distance" get Jordan? Nothing. Well, actually, it did get him something. It got him a 3-year winless streak and a tumble down the world rankings that would have made Hunter Mahan shudder. Spieth was once number one in the world. He's now -- if we're being honest -- probably not one of the best 250 players in the world. It might even be more like 500, frankly. There are, without question, better players in college here in the U.S. right now.

On the surface, it's hard to figure out. Spieth is aware he's struggling. He knows it. He's worked hard to fix it. Harder, he says, than he's ever worked before. But that hard work hasn't made him better. It has, strangely enough, made him worse.

David Duval, who himself knows something about the term "career collapse", offered an interesting opinion on Thursday about Spieth. "He's playing "golf swing" and not "playing golf", if that makes sense," the Golf Channel analyst said while cameras showed Spieth practicing after his opening round 73.

"He's trying to make a better swing, which is all well and good, but in the process of doing that, he's not able to free himself up to actually go ahead and swing the club," Duval added.

That might sound confusing to the golfing neophyte and that's OK. But to experienced players, it all makes sense. Golf is a game of opposites. Hitting it right? Try swinging left more. Hitting it left? Try swinging out to right field. Too nervous or tense? Intentionally try and play loose and without worry.

Spieth would benefit greatly from trying to master the theory of the great Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham. With rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh struggling on the mound, Davis lumbers out to the mound and offers the kid some of the best sporting advice anyone could ever provide: "Don't think Meat...just pitch."

It would help Spieth to follow the same advice at this point: "Don't think...just swing."

Of course, that's easier said than done, and very easy to say from the TV tower or a keyboard in Baltimore, Maryland. It's not easy to do that when you're presdisposed to assuming you're going to make a bogey or worse before the hole even begins. But therein lies the rub for Spieth. You can't "free up" when you're swinging bad, but you can't swing well until you free up. Quite the contradiction.

It's easy to understand what has happened to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. They had their days in the sun. Woods is the greatest player of his generation by a distance that would make Secretariat blush and Mickelson is the second best player of his career and no one's even close to him in those rankings. While Father Time might have won the final battle, both Tiger and Phil won far, far more than they lost in their respective careers.

Spieth, though, is not easy to understand. At 27 years old, he's in danger of becoming -- gulp -- the next Hunter Mahan. While Mahan didn't win a major and wasn't the decorated player that Spieth was in his first five years on TOUR, Mahan was a U.S. Junior champion and a 9-time TOUR winner, not to mention a U.S. Ryder Cup performer. Mahan's career was chugging along nicely until 2016, when he suddenly lost his golf swing. It's 2020 now, and he's still looking for it.

It seems fair to turn the career calendar to December for Tiger and Phil. You can't win forever. And, well, Father Time and all...

But it doesn't seem fair to watch Spieth get tortured like this. He doesn't deserve it and, more importantly, hasn't done anything to warrant the massive downturn in abilities. All he's done, like others, is try and get better.

Right now, Spieth's at a career crossroads. This is no longer the standard sports "slump". This...is a career crisis. Here's hoping Father Time finds a soft spot in his heart. Sooner, rather than later.

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u.s. open: day two notes


There's still a lot of golf left to play but Patrick Reed looks like he's dialed in, particularly on the greens. Reed sits at 4-under par, one shot ahead, but Winged Foot looks like a course that fits him well. There's 36 holes remaining, but the tournament is on Reed's racket at this point.

Patrick Reed would be halfway to the career grand slam with a win at this week's U.S. Open.

Bryson DeChambeau has actually played the best golf of anyone in the field if you're a believer in basic statistics. He's driven it better, hit it closer and made just enough putts to sit at 3-under par, one shot behind Reed. His short game is average by TOUR standards. If he hits enough fairways over the last two days, he could win.

There's no telling what the final score might be come late Sunday afternoon, but it's still looking like something around par or perhaps a couple of over par might wind up being the winning total. Reed, of course, could finish 70-70, shoot 4-under-par, and win by six shots or more. This year's event could be like Pinehurst 2014, where Martin Kaymer was just way, way better than everyone else that week and wound up winning by a bunch. But the course toughened up on Friday and will definitely get more difficult as the weekend goes along. The bet here is even par is good enough to win. Who shoots it?

The USGA would be well served to put Winged Foot into a rotation with Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Oakmont, Torrey Pines and Pinehurst and allow those six courses to host the U.S. Open year after year after year. Now, the members of those places might not care all that much for giving up their course for a month once every six years, but there's no doubt at all that a rotation like that would be perfect for what the USGA wants the U.S. Open to become. Winged Foot is a remarkable golf course, offering the sternest challenge possible to the best players in the world. That only a handful of players are under par after 36 holes there tells you all you need to know about the course's difficulty.

This doesn't mean much, but the coverage provided by NBC is so far superior to FOX it's not even funny. NBC really knows how to broadcast golf. FOX was just trying out a new toy. There's actually an argument that NBC is better at covering golf than CBS, which is saying something since CBS came up with most of the traditional things we've seen on TV over the years, like shot tracer, green slopes and slow-motion swing analysis. NBC shows more players, more shots and they're less prone to telling the story and more about showing the story along the way.

Just for kicks and giggles, here's a quick look at how our projected Top 10 did over the first 36 holes of the event:

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Going home early after rounds of 75-76. Length of the course was just too much for him. Only hit 46% of the fairways and 50% of the greens in two rounds.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- Very much still in it after rounds of 71-71. Has hit 70% of the greens thus far. If he does that for two more days, watch out.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- In great position at 1-under par. Hasn't been in this position before. How will he handle it?

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- One shot behind Reed. Tied for 11th in fairways hit at 50% but his strength out of the rough has helped him hit 67% of the greens.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- In good shape at 2-over par but has to hit more fairways. Only 43% of fairways hit thus far, but still scoring well.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- We told you the stats indicated he'd be a threat this week and here he is at even-par through 36 holes. He's tied for first in fairways hit at 67% (18 of 28).

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- Shot the same scores as Tiger (73-77) and will be missing from the weekend. Awful off the tee, hitting just 10 of 28 fairways (36%).

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- Quietly very much still in it at 1-over par. Struggling a bit off the tee but two good rounds could give him the trophy.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- Was cruising along at 3 over par with 9 holes remaining on Friday, then failed to hit a fairway on the back nine and bogeyed 18 to miss the cut by a shot. Shockingly, he hit just 1 of 14 fairways on Friday.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- Also bogeyed the 18th hole on Friday to miss the cut. His stats weren't terrible tee-to-green (50% of fairways, 53% of greens) but once he got on the putting surfaces, he was in trouble.

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Friday
September 18
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#2216



that light...is getting brighter


OK, so the Orioles are done.

Before last night's dreary doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Birds were 22-27 and still had a faint glimmer of hope of making baseball's (silly) expanded playoff format.

I know what you're thinking: Come on Drew, the Orioles didn't have any hope of making the playoffs...

At 22-27, if they would have swept Tampa Bay to get to 24-27, they would have still been hanging around. Barely. But hanging around, nonetheless.

But now, at 22-29, it's over. Sure, sure, they could win out and finish 31-29 but they're not doing that. They're not even going to finish 29-31, which could, potentially, be good enough for the last A.L. playoff spot.

The call up of Ryan Mountcastle turned out to be a wise decision for the Orioles. Mountcastle figures to be an every day player in 2021.

It's over. But it was fun while it lasted, even if we never really totally bought into the O's as a playoff contender.

For starters, I was wrong about the 2020 Birds. I said they'd go 21-39. They've already topped that. And I think I was generally wrong about the fact that they wouldn't be competitive. They have been, for the most part.

Here's the deal in 2021 and moving forward. The Orioles have some pieces. I mean, some "legit" pieces. Mancini returns next year. Santander looks to be an every day right fielder. Mullins is a very solid defensive centerfielder. If his bat improves, he's your guy. Will he morph into the next Adam Jones? Never. But he's more useful than you probably thought he would be.

Ryan Mountcastle will never again ride a minor league bus. He's the real deal. I know there are still some question marks about his defense and a bird in a tree tells me they're going to work him out at first base a lot this winter. But with the bat, that kid is a potential big time performer.

Adley Rutschman will be up at some point next year, maybe even to start the season. He still has to prove himself, obviously, but there's nothing that suggests he's going to be a dud as a major leaguer. Severino and Sisco are decent, for now, but neither of those guys are anything except a back-up, perhaps, in the future.

The Iglesias kid looks useful. So, too, does D.J. Stewart, for now. He might regress in 2021 or he might have finally found the magic formula. But don't write off D.J. Stewart just yet.

All the sudden, there's 7 or 8 guys who actually resemble real major leaguers in Baltimore. This time last year, we had 1 or 2 of those guys.

And don't look now, but the O's pitching staff doesn't look so rag-tag after all. It's early days, yes. And teams will learn more about the young arms as they pile up starts. But Kremer and Akin look like they might be able to make 30 starts in 2021.

Here's the only "but"...

And you knew there'd be a "but".

The bullpen is pretty lousy.

Now, admittedly, finding bullpen arms is far easier than grooming major league starters. No doubt there. But those bullpen guys also see action in 40 to 60 games a year. They can't stink in half of those. They have to be able to pull their weight. Right now, the only halfway-trustworthy guy in the bullpen is Tanner Scott. Dillon Tate has some good stuff but only time will tell if he can consistently throw strikes.

This is a long winded way of saying that light you see at the end of the tunnel is actually getting brighter. The Orioles are improving. With modest bullpen improvements and better starting pitching, the Birds could threaten 70 or 75 wins next year. They have a long way to go, of course, but 75-87 is a whole lot more enjoyable to watch than 55-107.

The problem, of course, is that the A.L. East appears to be getting stronger. Tampa Bay is totally legit, the Yankees are the Yankees and Toronto will likely make the playoffs this year and be a contender in 2021. And despite Boston looking like the American League version of the New York Jets, we know they won't be down for long.

The challenge for the Orioles is obvious. How do they reach the point where they're an 88-win team and get themselves into playoff contention? They still need a real third baseman, a real second baseman and, depending on what they do with Mountcastle, a real first baseman. Nunez, Ruiz and Alberto are "just guys", of course. One or two of them could stick around as back-ups and platoon guys, but you're not winning 88 games if those three are regulars.

2021 will continue to yield growing pains, I'm sure, but by the time 2022 rolls around, the O's should be on the verge of putting it all together. And perhaps by that time, a free agent or two will see Charm City as an attractive landing spot.

Mike Elias has the Orioles heading in the right direction. Not everything he's done has turned to gold, of course, but his hits far outweigh his misses thus far. And don't forget, there are still fruits to pick from the deals for Bleier, Castro and Givens. Elias will get a gem or two out of those trades before it's all said and done.

This crazy 2020 thing* hasn't been a complete wash out for the Birds.

The Orioles are improving. If you don't believe me, just wait until next year. You'll see.

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u.s. open: notes from day one


Phil Mickelson won't be avenging his 2006 Winged Foot collapse this week. Phil's effort to complete the career grand slam flatlined yesterday with a first-round 79. Given the generous course conditions and the perfect-for-scoring weather, Mickelson's 79 was more like an 85 in "real time". He didn't hit a fairway until the back nine and putted terribly. He legitimately looked like a guy who had no business being in the event, which is a massive statement to make about the second most successful player of the last 20 years on TOUR.

Tiger Woods isn't out of it yet, but he'd have to pull off a near miracle to win major #16 after authoring a sloppy 3-over par round of 73 on Thursday. Oddly enough, the one thing that has bothered Woods all year -- putting -- was his strength in the opening round. He did manage to make five birdies on the day, several of which were from the 20-25 foot range. But his work off the tee was 10-handicap'ish. Like Mickelson, Woods was all over the map with his driver. The only way Tiger has a hope over the last 54 holes is for the course to toughen up dramatically and 4 or 5 over par wind up as the winning score.

In search of his 2nd major win, Justin Thomas shot 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the 2020 U.S. Open.

Speaking of the course, those low scores from day one will be a thing of the past by the time Sunday rolls around. Winged Foot is about to bear her teeth over the weekend. USGA officials say they won't be adding any water to the greens other than a 30-second "spritzing" each morning and they've vowed to not touch the rough with a mower of any kind over the last 54 holes. Oh, and the pin placements will get even more dicey as the days go by. Odds are something around even par will still wind up being good enough to win the event.

Justin Thomas has the look of someone who knows he's going to play well this week. You can see it in his stride and you can hear it in his voice. He's "on" at Winged Foot, as Thursday's opening round 65 indicated. The key for Thomas, as it is with almost everyone on the first page of the leaderboard, is to avoid the tragic double or triple bogey. Bogeys can be dealt with, but the big numbers are hard to overcome. If J.T. can keep hitting fairways and give himself birdie looks on 10 or 12 holes each day, he has a great chance of winning his second major title.

Matthew Wolff also looks very comfortable after a 4-under 66 on Thursday. The guy with the quirky swing got a taste of major medicine back in August when he played well at the PGA Championship, so it's no surprise he's back in the hunt at Winged Foot. Hitting fairways and greens typically isn't an issue for Wolff. It's the putter that drags him down on occasion. But if he rolls the rock the rest of the way like he did on Thursday, the former Oklahoma State star could be in one of the final three groups on Sunday, with a chance to win the U.S. Open.

The lack of fans on site could be one of the biggest reasons why no name players like Davis Thompson (1 under) and Will Zalatoris (even) have a chance to win this week. It's likely they won't win, of course, but without fans in the stands the event closely resembles a college tournament and both of those young men are keenly familiar with big time college golf. Thompson currently plays at Georgia and Zalatoris was a star at Wake Forest before turning professional. If there was ever a major tournament where a college kid or someone a year or two into his professional career could win, this week is it. It might "be" the U.S. Open, but it sure doesn't seem like it is.

I'd personally love to see Patrick Reed win this week but if he keeps hitting his driver into the left rough, like he did a half dozen times on Thursday, there's no way he can come out on top. Reed's short game and putting were nearly flawless in round one. Can he keep that up for three more days? That seems highly unlikely. Few guys on TOUR putt as well as Reed, but at some point he's going to run out of magic bullets. For Reed to contend, he must drive the ball in the fairway over the last 54 holes. History says he won't do that.

Just for kicks and giggles, here's a quick look at how our projected Top 10 did on Thursday in round one:

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Not a great day for Reavie, who shot 75. He'll need something around 71 or 72 on Friday to make the weekend cut.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- Had it a couple of under early on before settling for a 1-over par round of 71. Still very much in it.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- A solid round of 2-under 68 for Kokrak, who was out early on Thursday and plays late on Friday.

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- In good shape after day one with a 69.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- The big hitter is also sitting in decent shape at 1-under par after a solid opening round on Thursday.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- Chipped and putted his way to a solid 68 on Thursday. He looks like he might hang around.

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- Drove it poorly and had to work hard for a 3-over par round of 73. Clearly not out of it yet, but has to shoot something around 72 or 73 to guarantee he plays over the weekend.

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- In great position at 1-under par after the opening 18 holes.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- The 2014 champion posted 1-over 71 on Thursday.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- Couldn't get the putter going en route to a 74 on Thursday. At +4, he'll need to shoot a lower number on Friday in order to make the cut.

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Thursday
September 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2215



well, you asked...


Kent asks -- "Who will be the first NFL coach fired this season?"

DF: "Cleveland should have fired their new guy in the first quarter last Sunday after he tried that goofy fake punt when they were already down 7-0. Anyway...my guess is that honor will go to Adam Gase of the Jets. I mean, I'm not sure there's ever been a head coach in the NFL more over-his-head than Gase. I don't think he's the sole reason they're going to go 4-12 or 5-11 again, but he's one of the reasons why they won't go 8-8 or 9-7. I firmly believe if you sent Harbaugh, Tomlin or Arians to the Jets, they'd cobble together a .500 campaign at worst."


Ron Creel asks -- "Are you excited about the Caps hiring Peter Laviolette?"

DF -- "A Caps question! Thanks!! Indeed I am. If you remember a few weeks back when I previewed the top 3 or 4 available candidates, I zeroed in on Laviolette as my preferred guy. I thought the Caps looked different under Reirden. Not as disciplined as they when Trotz was behind the bench. Not as dedicated to the cause night after night. I think you saw the Caps play some bad hockey on the second night of a back-to-back series under Reirden. I don't recall that kind of performance under Trotz. Laviolette is cut more from the Trotz cloth. He's demanding. He'll kick their butts when needed. I love the hiring."


Can Tiger silence the critics who say he can no longer win a major title this week at Winged Foot?

T.J. asks -- "Here's your obigatory Tiger Woods U.S. Open question. By percentages, which you like to do, what are the percentages that Tiger makes the cut, finishes Top 20 and wins? Thanks!"

DF -- "I do want it noted from everyone in the peanut gallery who cries whenever Tiger's name is mentioned here that T.J. brought The Great One up first. I didn't. Anyway...I'd say there's a 30% chance he makes the cut. I mean, he's still Tiger Woods and all, but this is going to be a brute of a golf course and he'll have to drive the ball straight in order to be anywhere near par for two days. It is worth noting, in his favor, that the USGA gave him the favorable early/late tee time draw. He'll play around 8 am on Thursday and 1:30 pm on Friday. That's potentially a help. The cooler September temperatures might not help his ailing back, so there's a trade off of sorts. There's a 10% chance he finishes Top 20 and a 5% chance he wins. The golf course will just be too much for him, sorry to say. My official prediction is he shoots 76-77 and misses the cut."


Lee Porter asks -- "I have a friend who is a Steelers fan and we came up with an interesting bet on the Ravens. For every win this year, he gives me $100. For every loss, I give him $300. Was I crazy?"

DF -- "Sounds to me like you better hope they go 12-4 if you want to break even. As it is, if they go 13-3 you win $400. But if they go 11-5, you lose $400. Pretty cool bet. I think you have a better chance of the Ravens going 13-3 than 11-5. That said, you better hope Lamar doesn't get hurt in week #5."


Carl in Owings Mills asks -- "Should Andy MacPhail and/or Dan Duquette go into the Orioles Hall of Fame some day?"

DF -- "Question of the day! Love it! And the answer is...yes! To both! MacPhail was the first person who was ever able to convince Peter Angelos that a rebuild was necessary if the Orioles were to compete in the A.L. East and he also somehow finagled Buck Showalter into coming to Baltimore to manage the team. MacPhail was also responsible for the trade that brought Adam Jones to Baltimore. Duquette, for all of his quirky ways, was part of an organization that made the playoffs 3 times in 5 years and he also was effective with the Rule 5 draft, something that is very hit or miss in the major leagues."


Pat asks -- "What would be your ultimate U.S. Open story this week at Winged Foot?"

DF -- "Easy answer here. Phil Mickelson winning would be the best story possible. It would not only complete the career grand slam for him but it would also help to wipe away the fiasco of 2006, which will always be his biggest lowlight if he fails to win a U.S. Open title. Mickelson, even at age 50, is still one of golf's great characters. In fact, we've really seen him open up over the last few years and show a side of his personality we hadn't previously seen. Must be that gum he chews. Or the coffee. You didn't ask for a 2nd and 3rd place winner but I love the question so I'll give you one. I'd love to see Lee Westwood somehow win and capture that elusive first major title. He's come so close, so often. And now that he's in the December of his career, a major would do him great justice. 3rd is basically the same theory, but insert the name Rickie Fowler. I'd love to see Fowler win. He's been great for golf over the last 15 years. A major has somehow eluded him. It would be cool to see him finally win a big one."


Carl P. asks -- "With Bruce Springsteen's birthday coming up next week I was hoping you would list your five favorite albums of his." Thanks!

DF -- "This answer has probably changed a lot over the years, but #1 has always been #1. In reverse order: #5 would be Wrecking Ball. Some of his best song writing ever came on that album. #4 is The Rising. It's just remarkable. #3 is Magic. My favorite Bruce song ("I'll Work For Your Love") is on that album. #2 is Tunnel of Love. Talk about great song writing...holy cow. And #1 is Darkness On The Edge of Town. Every song on that album is phenomenal. By the way, a new Springsteen/E-Street album is coming out on October 23!"


R.C. asks -- "A few weeks ago you mentioned that learning to hit a fade would be the one thing you would stress to all young junior golfers. I'm a 14-handicap who would like to get into single digits in 2021. What's the one tip you'd give me to knock those last five or six shots off of my score?"

DF -- "That's almost impossible for me to answer not seeing you play once or twice. Do you hit shoot in the mid 80's because you hit two or three terrible tee shots or because you miss four or five short putts every round? That said, one thing I see in most guys who shoot in the mid 80's regularly is they aren't very good lag putters. They generally get the ball on the green in three shots at worst, but often times they're left with 30 or 40 feet for their first putt and then they blow that one past the hole or leave it 10 feet short. "Get better at lag putting" would be my answer here without actually seeing you play golf."


Tom asks -- "What's the best album of these three bands that I know you like: Rush, Led Zeppelin and The Cars?"

DF: -- "Well, my "best" probably won't be what industry experts would say are their best, but that's a listening preference thing. My favorite Rush album is "Hemispheres". It still stands the test of time, even today, 40 years later. "In Through The Outdoor" is my favorite Led Zeppelin album. "I'm Gonna Crawl" is my favorite LZ song, ever, and it's on that album. And while I acknowledge that The Cars struck gold with their self-titled debut album and it is, in fact, totally awesome, "Candy-O" was always my favorite album of theirs. I love every song."


Darryl asks -- "Who are the top 3 most overrated players in the NFL?"

DF -- "Geez, there's a lot to unpack there. Wow. Well, right now, Baker Mayfield has to top that list. He looks no better now than he did as a rookie. In fact, there's probably an argument he's regressed. This is a hard question, Darryl! Jared Goff, maybe? That's two. He just seems like a guy who parlayed one good season into stardom that, perhaps, his talent level didn't deserve. And I'll go with Matt Ryan at #3. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery, but all I see him do in Atlanta is lose a lot." I realize that's three quarterbacks. Sorry..."

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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.


this is not normal


This is not normal. Yes, you’ve heard that a lot since March. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

This is not normal. 13 in a row now, after a blowout win Sunday that could have easily been placed smack in the middle of last season, just with people in the stadium watching back then. An average margin of victory in those 13 games approaching three touchdowns.

During almost half those games, you could turn the television off or leave the stadium midway through the third quarter knowing the opponent’s chance to win was not 25% or 10% (both of which would be great!) but more like 0.00000001%.

At least every other game, the backup quarterback is allowed on the field for legitimate mop-up duty, which is much more rare in the NFL than the Ravens make it look. None of this normal. None of it. It’s exceptional.

Lamar and the Ravens expect to easily dance into the 2020 NFL playoffs.

Not unprecedented, just extraordinary. Not unheard of, though quite noteworthy. Not the best stretch of play we’ve ever seen by anyone, but probably the best stretch by the Ravens, nevermore.

I bring it up because I think it’s important to keep talking about it. We don’t know how long it will last. And I don’t just mean the winning streak, which has many weeks to go before it could be called historic.

I’m talking about the quality of play. The people outside the Ravens’ circle are tired of talking about that, I think. They’d rather talk about why Cleveland stinks or whether Aaron Rodgers can play like that all year and of course about the Cowboys, who haven’t had consecutive good seasons in a generation.

I am not tired of talking about it. I will never be tired of talking about. I will be talking about it for a while. Even if the Ravens don’t win a Super Bowl in the near future, I’ll still talk about it, at least a little bit.

I’d rather not even compare it to some other team, or some other sport, or some other earlier time when Pro Football Reference didn’t exist. It’s worth looking at on its own merits. It’s that good.

I’ll start with this…I wasn’t expecting it, and I don’t just mean a double-digit winning streak, which you never expect from even the best teams. There were a lot of questions in late September 2019, the last time the Browns visited Baltimore before this past weekend.

The biggest surprise by then was that Lamar Jackson, in his first full season as a starter, wasn’t a question. He was spectacular in the first three games of 2019, and it’s not like he stunk against Cleveland. Everything else, though? A bunch of questions, save for Justin Tucker.

I didn’t know if the Ravens’ defense was very good; at the least, they seemed like they weren’t communicating very well.

No matter how good Jackson was, I didn’t know whether the league might have him and Greg Roman’s offense figured out better by the second half of the season.

Even after the Ravens won in Pittsburgh and at home against Cincinnati, I questioned how good they really were. They were fortunate to beat Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges at Heinz Field and kinda let the winless Bengals hang around, though some of that came from the fact that the visitors ran the game’s opening kickoff back for a touchdown.

The lack of Ben Roethlisberger made me almost certain about the playoffs, but I was also certain that there were plenty of lose-able games left on the schedule.

And then, it was like the snap of a rubber band. John Harbaugh asked Lamar if he wanted to “go for it” on 4th-and-short in the third quarter in Seattle, Jackson responded by not just getting a first down but scoring a touchdown and we were living in a new world.

People weren’t ready for it; some of those people were the coaches and players on other NFL teams. I wasn’t ready for it. Not in the way it happened, anyway.

From the opening kickoff, how much better were the Ravens than the New England Patriots on a Sunday night? We remembered that the Ravens had pulled some surprises against New England, but even when they did it wasn’t because they were “better” than Tom Brady and company. But not this time…

The following week, Jackson ran for a 47-yard touchdown in Cincinnati, the highlight of which will be watched for at least the next 50 years. Then, back at home, the Ravens ran for 256 yards against one of the league’s best teams. Not Miami. Not Cincinnati. Houston, a team with legitimate aspirations.

I don’t know about you, but during this long offseason, the highlights I watched the most came from the Ravens’ 45-6 Monday night win against the Rams, a beatdown of epic proportions in which five of Jackson’s 15 pass completions were touchdown passes.

I should stop here, as my point wasn’t to go through a game-by-game recap of the winning streak. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple things, though—the high quality of the 49ers game, despite rain, the great early-second-half call by Roman that led to a long touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst in Buffalo, the insane final two minutes of the first half in Cleveland, completed with a ridiculous off-balance throw by Jackson to Mark Andrews in the end zone. And then, in this most abnormal of opening weekends, a 99-yard touchdown drive, the first for the team in nearly 20 years.

Think back about a year. Sure, there have been turnovers, including the difficult-to-understand wishbone fullback dive from Patrick Ricard on Sunday. I wonder, though, how many teams have had so few “negative” plays for such a long period of time. When Jackson gets a yard-and-a-half, it’s still a yard-and-a-half, even though it seems like a loss. When Gus Edwards pile drives into the line, it’s not always thrilling…but it’s never negative.

That might be the biggest sign of genius/good fortune that’s come with the selection and development of Jackson. To other teams, he seemed like a player who would lead a team to more negative plays because of his skills in keeping plays alive, for better or worse. Instead, those skills have made it almost impossible for the offense to ever lose yards, save for the occasional sack.

When you watch the Ravens, the only thing that ever feels totally “negative” is the defense’s tendency to give up relatively long runs. I wonder, though, if that has more to do with the team’s defensive philosophy than with any particular player or group of players.

This is the NFL as it’s been for years…there are only a few great teams, and a few terrible teams, and a whole bunch of teams in a mediocre middle. The Ravens have occasionally been near the top, and infrequently been near the bottom. Even when they haven’t been near the top, there’s usually been something about them that makes them competitive.

But this isn’t normal at all. The Ravens are playing football—every aspect of the game down to the smallest detail—in a way that few teams have ever been able to sustain for more than a few games, let alone double digits.

Harbaugh’s team heads to Houston this Sunday as prohibitive favorites, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play like it. I look forward to talking about that next week. Even if I can’t, though, I’ll probably still bring it up again sometime soon.

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Wednesday
September 16
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#2214



winged foot will win in the end


The start of tomorrow's U.S. Open is filled with uncertainty.

Will Rory's new dance with fatherhood help or hurt this week?

Can Jordan Spieth recapture his magic of five years ago?

Is this the week Rickie Fowler finally breaks through and wins that elusive major title?

Against all odds, does Tiger have a 16th major title in him...at one of golf's toughest venues, no less?

Could a veteran like Lee Westwood or Matt Kuchar find the recipe and cap their otherwise outstanding career with a U.S. Open win?

Those are all uncertanties.

Does Gary Woodland have a second straight U.S. Open in him this week at Winged Foot?

What is certain, though, is that by the time the final putt is holed sometime around 6 pm on Sunday (barring a playoff), the real winner of the event will be the golf course where it's going to be contested. Winged Foot promises to be the talk of the four days, what with its firm fairways, tall rough and ultra-slick greens.

One thing about this year's oddly placed U.S. Open: Warm days and cool nights have helped get the course in mint condition, unlike those sweltering hot days of mid-June where the course turned a curious shade of beige by late Saturday afternoon.

Nearly everyone on site this week has offered the same general synopsis of what they expect to see over the 72 hole tournament: More bogeys than birdies and a winning score somewhere in the 2 over to 6 over par range.

It's worth remembering that back in 2014 at Pinehurst, everyone thought even par would win that event and then Martin Kaymer went out and scorched the place on Thursday and Friday, producing rounds of 65-65 and owning a cozy 6-shot lead heading into the weekend. As it turned out, the experts were mostly right that week. Only three players broke par; Kaymer (-9), Eric Compton (-1) and Rickie Fowler (-1). Everyone else failed to finish in red figures.

So for every "no way anyone breaks par at Winged Foot this week", let's keep in mind it only takes one guy playing outrageously good golf to lay waste to that prediction.

That said...no one's shooting under par this week.

So what kind of winner will surface at Winged Foot? Someone who drives the ball straight, for starters. Length will matter, naturally, but it won't be as important as accuracy. The guy who drives it the straightest has the best chance. For kicks and giggles, here were the five straightest drivers of the golf ball in the 2019-2020 PGA Tour campaign:

1. Jim Furyk

2. Ryan Armour

3. Brian Stuard

4. Brendon Todd

5. Kyle Stanley

Of those five players, only Todd is in the field this week.

What he gains in accuracy, Todd loses in length. He averages just 282 yards off the tee, which ranks him 187th on TOUR. In other words, he's one of the shortest guys out there. But let's remember: accuracy is more important than length this week. As you'll see below in our U.S. Open Top 10, we like Todd's chances this week at Winged Foot.

Scrambling will also be critical this week. That statistic comes into play anytime a player doesn't hit the green in regulation. Of the top five players in scrambling in 2019-2020, four are playing this week; Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Kevin Na and -- that name again -- Brendon Todd.

And finally, we look at putting. There are two important categories that figure to come into play this week: Strokes Gained and putting from inside of 10 feet. In Strokes Gained, three of the top five are in this week's field; Matthew Fitzpatrick, Kevin Na and Andrew Putnam. Inside of 10 feet, four of the top five are playing; Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Jon Rahm and Abraham Ancer.

With par being everyone's friend this week, it stands to reason that the guy making the most putts inside of 10 feet has the best chance of winning.

So who do we like at Winged Foot?

We're glad you asked.

For starters, we've broken down our Top 10 into two categories; players you'd expect to win and players you wouldn't expect to win. Given the golf course's difficulty, we believe a player you don't expect to win is just as likely to come out on top as someone you do expect to win. It might not be like that at the Masters, where a "name" almost always wins. Or even the British Open. But this week, at a course where even par gives you a shot, we're thinking Brendon Todd is just as likely to win as, say, Jon Rahm. As you'll see below, we like both of them this week.


DMD's U.S. Open Top 10

#10, Chez Reavie (USA) -- Reavie's a fighter. He's perfect for the U.S. Open grind, in fact. Not long off the tee, but very accurate. Won't make a lot of big mistakes.

#9, Viktor Hovland (Norway) -- One of the TOUR's young guns whose only weakness, chipping from tight surfaces, might not really come into play much this week at Winged Foot, where any missed greens will find deep, thick rough. He can make a lot of birdies.

#8, Jason Kokrak (USA) -- We love Kokrak's game. The former long drive competitor has refined his action over the last five years and has blossomed into a legitimate TOUR player. If his putter can behave, Kokrak could be a contender come Sunday afternoon. He's a darkhorse who can play.

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick finished 36th in the 2019-2020 FedEx Cup points race.

#7, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) -- He can hit it far. And, generally, it goes straight. BDC's week all relates to his driver and off-the-tee game. If he finds 70% of the fairways, he has a real chance of winning. His methodical, plodding style is perfect for the 5-plus hour rounds at a U.S. Open.

#6, Tony Finau (USA) -- He might be this generation's Rickie Fowler, but we're going to keep throwing him in our major Top 10's until he wins one. Finau drives it long and straight. The only part of his game that's a question mark is his ability to close the deal. He's played in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, so "pressure" isn't an issue for him. He just needs to win.

#5, Brendon Todd (USA) -- We know he'll hit it straight. The only question is whether or not he can hit it far enough to handle the par 4's. If ever a major set up for him, it's this one.

#4, Justin Rose (England) -- A player this good should have more than one major title. With Rose, it always comes down to the driver. If he's on with the big stick, he contends. Our bet this week is that he's "on" and he's in the hunt.

#3, Jon Rahm (Spain) -- He plays the hard courses well. And Winged Foot will be really hard. Lost in the discussion about his great season was how much of a complete player he's become. Drives it great, stuffs his irons and can putt the lights out of it. He is one of the five best players in the world right now.

#2, Martin Kaymer (Germany) -- This one is a complete flyer. Talk about "not expected to win", this guy largely hasn't been heard from on the PGA Tour since 2014. But his recent form in Europe is really good and this is precisely the way he shows up at a major...as an afterthought who beats it around for four days, shoots 73-69-72-71 and wins with a 5 over par score.

#1, Matthew Fitzpatrick (England) -- All of his stats and data point to a U.S. Open kind of player. It's time for a major breakthrough for this kid. This win would be a surprise, yes, but it's well within his capabilities. Just needs a sharp week with his approach shots into greens, which has been a statistical weakness for him in 2020. But the short game and putter save him.

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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.


This isn’t going to be easy for me to write. It likely won’t be easy for you to read.

But I have to get this out, get this off my chest, clear my head a little bit through the exercise of writing.

There is no doubt that the year 2020 has been the most difficult one in my lifetime. I feel safe in writing that many of you would agree. These are unprecedented days we’re living through. There is just so much that is completely out of our control.

The coronavirus has reshaped our way of living. It has created a greater social upheaval than any event I can recall. Schools aren’t open. Countless small businesses have closed their doors, likely forever. Stadiums and arenas are empty, even as games are played. Millions of Americans have filed for unemployment, and food insecurity is a real problem for too many families. The uncertainty of everything we knew and took for granted is disturbing.

All of the unanswered questions have led our country into an unprecedented mental health crisis. People are scared and there are no immediate answers. According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) of August 14th, 2020, in late June of this year, 40% of U.S. adults reported that they were struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

See? I told you this wasn’t going to be easy.

John Suchy, local musician and brother of #DMD contributor Mark Suchy.

These issues came front and center to my consciousness this past weekend as I settled in to watch Sunday Night Football on NBC. There was a segment during the pregame show about the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott, and his struggles with depression and anxiety during the early days of the virus, back in March and April. Like so many of his fellow Americans, Prescott was afraid and nervous about his health, his future and his family’s well-being. Those are thoughts and emotions that I’m sure just about all of us can relate to.

Then, on April 24th, Dak’s 31-year-old brother, Jace, committed suicide.

And oh, could I relate to Dak Prescott when I heard that.

Because, on April 22nd, my 61-year-old brother, John, committed suicide.

See? I told you this wasn’t going to be easy.

When this year began, I didn’t imagine that I would be writing a weekly column here. I didn’t imagine that a worldwide pandemic would create so much havoc and upheaval in our day to day lives. I didn’t imagine that I would share a similar story of anguish and frustration and sorrow and regrets with an NFL quarterback. But here we are.

The reality is that I wouldn’t be writing this, and sending pieces to #DMD each week, if John hadn’t died. Because I know with everything in my heart that part of my grief and part of my healing has been expressed through writing. I haven’t written nearly enough over the past few decades. And writing has always been a passion and a creative outlet for me. That it took my brother’s passing to re-ignite this flame is some sort of divine intervention. At least, that’s my interpretation.

My brother John was an amazing musician. He had immense natural musical abilities. He had an ear for sound, so much that he could hear a song one or two times and then play it perfectly, note for note and chord for chord. I was always amazed at his gifts.

He spent his life deeply involved in the music scene here in Baltimore. He ran a recording studio on York Road in Towson, and over the course of 25 years or so he influenced and helped hundreds of musicians pursue their dreams. He was an essential part of the greatest classic rock cover band you’ve ever heard, Hectic Red. If you need proof of that assertion, spend some time on You Tube watching their videos through the years, then get back to me. And watch him perform Solsbury Hill, please.

But my brother suffered from depression all his life. He never truly sought professional help and counseling. His last years were a spiral of alcohol and drug abuse. By the end, there was no way to reach him or help him. It was frustrating and maddening. Nothing has ever made me feel so hopeless.

Now, I don’t know anything about the life that Jace Prescott lived. But the circumstances surrounding his death make me certain that he was suffering from depression. I can only imagine that his brothers and his father had a sense of his problems.

The more I read about Dak Prescott and his family, the more I can relate. He’s one of three brothers, just as I am. His mother passed away in 2013 of colon cancer. My father died in 2010 of a massive heart attack. And now he’s one of two brothers, just as I am. And he’ll have a lifetime of unanswered questions ahead of him, just as I will.

In an upcoming interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, Dak described his emotions upon learning of Jace’s death. "I mean, obviously tears and tears and tears," Dak Prescott said of his initial reaction. "I mean, I sat there and tried to gather what had happened, and wanted to ask why for so many reasons. It was like this sense of all these emotions coming off of my back."

That’s a statement I can completely understand. That sense of emotions coming off of my back, of asking why, is all too real for me. It’s this bizarre combination of relief and anger. There’s no other way for me to describe it.

Too often, we overlook the fact that athletes are human, just as we are, that they have families and hopes and fears and dreams and disappointments, just as we do. We view them through this prism that narrows down our thought processes and distills them into some kind of commodity to be thought of as either useful or disposable, depending upon their performance.

Thinking that they face real-life issues like addiction and mental illness and family dysfunction makes us uncomfortable. We don’t like to consider their humanity off the fields of play. We demand to be entertained, and when the game is over, to forget that they go back to all the real-life issues surrounding them, the same as we do.

Sports teaches us lots of different life lessons. How to be a good teammate; how to work in a system in order to achieve victory; how to respect your coaches, your opponents, even the officials. It demands hard work and practice and dedication to staying in shape. It pushes the best athletes to the highest possible levels of physical and mental endurance. There’s not much room for error, and any sign of weakness can be exploited or used against you.

In our culture, we don’t like to see any vulnerabilities in the athletes we admire. That equals weakness, and weakness can lead to losing. And losing, of course, will not be tolerated.

For whatever reasons, we don’t talk enough about fears. Yet we all have them, and at times like this, when there’s so much uncertainty, fear stalks around freely, and drives too many of our friends and family into isolation. From personal experience, the truth is that I was never as alone or as different as I thought I was.

It was when I finally admitted my own weaknesses that I met others who had similar struggles. Those people helped lift me up and showed me that I wasn’t as special or unique as I liked to think. It was a refreshing paradox. By finally giving up, I gained strength.

That’s why listening to Dak Prescott discuss feeling vulnerable is so refreshing to me. It humanizes him and exposes him in a way that so few athletes do. It makes him even stronger in my eyes. He’s using his platform to help others who are experiencing a similar pain. What could be stronger than that?

“So before I can lead, I got to make sure my mind is in the right place to do that and lead people where they want to be. I think that’s important, to be vulnerable.” That’s Prescott at his news conference last Thursday, as the Cowboys were preparing for their season opening game against the Los Angeles Rams. That might very well be the most remarkable quote I’ve ever seen from any professional athlete. Who does that? Who openly talks about feeling vulnerable in the NFL?

Knowing more about Dak Prescott due to his brother’s death is helping me. It’s not because he’s a world class athlete, or because he’s the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s because, through his brother Jace and my brother John, I can feel a connection and a sense of empathy that I never would have prior to April 22nd. I know I’m not alone in the process.

And for that, I want to say thank you to Dak. I feel you, brother. I know exactly what you mean.

In her novel Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.”

I don’t know Dak Prescott’s career statistics. I don’t know much about his life outside of the football games I see him play. I do know he’s a legitimate starting quarterback for one of the league’s premier franchises (or maybe I should say brands). I know he played college football at Mississippi State. In fact, I know I saw him play one random Saturday night a few years ago on ESPN and I remember thinking, hey, he’s pretty good. I know his name has been mentioned in the past few seasons when MVP debates inevitably spring up.

I’m not a Dallas Cowboys fan. I never have been. But I’m a Dak Prescott fan. I’ll be pulling for him, on and off the field.

One thing I know for sure is that Dak Prescott has stood in that forest of sorrow, just as I have. Just as so many of us have. And that now, we both have to keep moving on, finding our way to a better place. That hope will spring forth again.

For all their troubles, I’m sure that Jace and John would have wanted us to do just that.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, anxiety, addiction and/or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately. You can visit the website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more local resources and information on where and how to get help.

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Tuesday
September 15
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#2213



tuesday nuggets


The ratings downturn from last Thursday's NFL opener didn't spill over to the weekend, where the number of overall viewers eventually finished on par with last year's opening weekend ratings.

There were some decreases on a city-by-city basis, but in general, the nation watched as much football on Thursday and Sunday this year as they did on opening weekend, 2019. I'm not really all that sure what to make of those numbers, but I'm certainly not surprised. The blowback from the social justice and equality "push" by the NFL definitely cut out a portion of the league's fan base, but it didn't add up to the kind of damage some thought it might.

It is fair to note, of course, that without attendance numbers to evaluate there's no real way of "seeing" whether the discontent has a tangible negative impact. We can't "see" ratings numbers and, honestly, I've never been a huge believer in ratings in the first place. But when you're in the stadium and you see empty pockets of seats, you can witness real evidence of who is there and who isn't.

I hear a lot of "I'm not watching any longer" and on the surface, I believe those folks. Whether or not they "come back" remains to be seen, but I tend to believe most people who pledge they're no longer going to watch the games. I wrote last week about my decision to not watch on Thursday as my own form of protest, if you will, but I was in front of the TV at 1:00 pm on Sunday ready to watch Ravens-Browns. I caught a bit of the first quarter of Rams-Cowboys on Sunday evening, but I didn't really watch much of the game. That was more because I was doing something else and less about "protest". The TV was on during the early game last night, but I only caught bits and pieces of Pittsburgh's fortunate win in New York.

For the most part, other than a calculated decision to not watch last Thursday night, my TV viewing habits didn't really change at all from 2019 to 2020. I watched the Ravens game (until the 4th quarter, when I ducked out early because the outcome was decided) and had the TV set on as "white noise" both Sunday night and Monday night. That's basically the way I always watch football. I'm just not into it enough to watch a regular season game from start to finish that doesn't involve the Ravens. But that has nothing at all to do with "protesting" or anything of that nature.


Those first week NFL impressions are hard to shake. Nothing was really all that shocking in week one, with the exception, perhaps of Tampa Bay getting run out of the gym in New Orleans and the Washington team beating Philadelphia. Other than that, it was standard week one stuff.

Aaron Rodgers and the revamped Green Bay offense hung up 43 points on the Vikings on Sunday in Minnesota.

The two New York teams are going to be lousy, again. The Giants got pushed and shoved all over the field in last night's 26-16 loss to the Steelers. The Jets were never in the game up in Buffalo on Sunday. A combined win total of 12 for those two teams? Seems highly unlikely.

The early returns on Cam Newton in New England were favorable. The biggest question with Newton, of course, will be his health over the 16-game season. If he stays healthy, New England should be able to win at least half their games, if not perhaps even nine or ten. But make no mistake about it, the dynasty of the Patriots is finished. They're on their way to being "just another team".

Green Bay's win in Minnesota was a good one, but that NFC North is a weird division. Minnesota could wind up going 5-1 in the division and posting an 11 or 12 win campaign (although I wouldn't bet on that happening). The Packers have to be feeling good about that kind of offensive output against a team with a solid defense -- and in Minnesota's stadium, no less.

Denver's going to stink, again. If not for Gostkowski missing four kicks last night, the Titans would have waltzed to a victory. I don't know what's happened to the Broncos. Wait, I do know. They don't have a real quarterback. They haven't had one since Peyton retired, if we're being honest. They're looking like a 5 or 6 win team out there, tops.

In Sunday's #DMD, we called the "Dud Game of The Week" to a tee. It took place in Cincinnati, where the Chargers and Bengals goofed around for 60 minutes and produced a 16-13 barnburner that featured a missed 31 yard field goal at the buzzer by Cincy kicker Randy Bullock. It says far more about the Chargers than the Bengals that Los Angeles was only able to pull out a 3-point win over Joe Burrow and Company. My guess? Cincy finishes with as many wins as the Chargers by season's end.

Atlanta getting throttled at home by Seattle might have been a surprise to some, but the Falcons have been bad for a while now, so any loss they absorb is no longer a shock. Their defense was supposedly "much improved" but it sure didn't look like it on Sunday. The Seahawks really roughed them up. It's certainly worth wondering if Matt Ryan is part of the long term problem in Atlanta. Yes, I know, he doesn't play defense. But Ryan hasn't been himself since the Falcons squandered that 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. Something happened to him in the aftermath of that collapse. He -- and the entire organization -- have never recovered from losing that game and the title.

Expect the Ravens to clobber Houston on Sunday. By "clobber", I mean a double-digit win, perhaps something by 15 or 17 points. The Texans offense won't be able to score nearly enough to offset the point production of Lamar and the Baltimore offense. Another blowout on the horizon...


My personal stance on our national anthem issue hasn't changed...and won't change, ever. I believe you should stand for the national anthem. During a phone conversation with a friend on Monday, we both talked about standing for other country's national anthems when they are played prior to sporting events. To wit, I know for certain when I'm at a hockey game and the Canadian national anthem is played, I immediately stand up for it. It would never dawn on me to sit down while another country's anthem is played. That, I believe, would be disrespectful. Your mileage may vary on that subject but that's the way I've always been.

I believe NFL players have done a poor job of mixing their personal objections with the flag and the national anthem. Doing it "at work" seems to be a main point of contention from those who are not happy with the NFL's stance on the national anthem. That, of course, is hard to argue about. You couldn't go into work today with a racist slur on your tee-shirt, but you could wear that shirt in public if you were so inclined. I'm certainly not suggesting that wearing a t-shirt in public with a racist slur on it is acceptable. But you get the point. What you are allowed to do in public differs greatly with what you're allowed to do at work.

Why the NFL has allowed players to muddy the waters at work is something I've never understood. If a player or players want to go into the stadium parking lot after the game and hold some sort of vigil or mass gathering to explain and define a political position of theirs, they have every right to do that. My guess is they'd get a healthy crowd, too. But holding that "vigil" during the game, on the field, seems outwardly dangerous if the players truly do value the fans, the TV ratings and so forth.

But please note this: I do not really blame the players.

I blame the NFL. And the owners. They are the ones who have essentially checked off on this whole thing.

I understand the players have grievances and I also believe they have a platform to use. And they should use that platform in whatever area or level they want...except one that involves their workplace. Why the NFL and the owners caved in on that subject is beyond me. While the number of fans they've lost might be negligible and, frankly, the demographic they've lost might be one they're not concerned with losing in the first place, it still doesn't make much sense to allow the players to protest on work time. In the same way, those players wouldn't be allowed to protest if they worked a standard 9-5 job at, say, a bank, a supermarket or a consulting firm.


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u.s. open storylines


I know it seems weird, but the 2020 U.S. Open is set to begin in two days at Winged Foot GC in New York.

It's a wide open field, with a handful of players coming in playing well of late, including FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson, TOUR Championship winner* Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas, who hasn't really played the Open all that well other than 2017 at Erin Hills.

There are, as always, "storylines" that will be pushed hard by the networks and The Golf Channel. Whether they push these five remains to be seen, but here, we believe are the top storylines heading into the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Can Phil Mickelson finally capture that elusive U.S. Open championship and complete the career grand slam?

Phil Mickelson, again, at Winged Foot -- This is the #1 storyline of the week, as Mickelson looks to complete the career grand slam and make amends for his final hole collapse in 2006 at Winged Foot, when all he needed was a par at the 18th hole to win. Mickelson seems an unlikely candidate to win this week, at age 50, but we all know what drives Phil's game: if he can get the ball off the tee and into the fairway with regularity, he has a chance. It's finding the fairway that tends to be an issue for him.

Is Dustin Johnson ready to really break out? -- Fresh off of one "real" win, a near "real" win, and then a net victory in the TOUR Championship, Dustin is coming into the U.S. Open on the heater of all heaters. He's playing the best golf of his career, it would seem, and Winged Foot looks and feels like a perfect place for D.J. to show off his prodigious skills with the driver. It would be a shock if he's not hovering around the leaderboard midway through the tournament. A win at Winged Foot could be the catalyst for a "Koepka-like run" where Johnson wins four or five of the next 12 majors.

Are the young guys ready to pounce? -- Collin Morikawa won the PGA Championship in August. Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland both played well in the 2020 shortened season. All three of those players drive the golf ball a long way. Can one of those three 2019 college graduates win the country's national golf championship 16 months into their respective professional careers? Morikawa seems the most likely candidate simply because he's been there, done that, but don't discount Hovland or Wolff holding the trophy on Sunday night. Wolff's spotty putting could be what limits him. Hovland's erratic chipping and short game talents could derail him. But those two are not to be dismissed this week.

Can Bryson finally put it all together? -- The only thing missing from Bryson DeChambeau's golf resume is a professional major title. He has an amateur major -- the U.S. Amateur -- and a college major -- the NCAA Individual Title -- and he's won some significant tournaments as a professional, including The Memorial. But he has yet to capture a major title, although he flirted with the PGA Championship in August before Collin Morikawa wrestled it away from him on the back nine on Sunday. If DeChambeau drives it straight at Winged Foot, he might very well be the guy to beat this week.

Will Winged Foot yield another Geoff Ogilvy? -- The players are all saying an over par score is going to win the tournament this week. With that said, could we see another semi-obscure winner, in the same way the 2006 championship (5 over was the winning total) produced Geoff Ogilvy as its victorious golfer? Ogilvy wasn't a bad player or anything like that. He wasn't a "fluke" the way Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Y.E. Yang were in other major wins...but Ogilvy was an afterthought kind of guy who made a great par at the 72nd hole and then watched Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie butcher the final hole to hand him the trophy. Looking for a few off the radar names who could be the 2020 version of Ogilvy this week? How about Brendon Todd, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Alex Noren or, perhaps, 2-time major champion Martin Kaymer, who has found his game in 2020 and might be ready to once again contend at major championships.

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soccer: americans abroad highlights


This weekend brought the return of the English Premier League as well as the start of several European cup competitions after a very brief offseason. There were quite a few American players returning to action.

In the Premier League, Tim Ream started at center back for newly promoted Fulham, in their first game back in the top division. Ream displayed his passing abilities from the back line but the Fulham defense was overwhelmed by Arsenal in a 3-0 loss. Ream was not personally responsible for any of the goals.

Chelsea debuted their revamped squad with pricey new additions Timo Werner and Kai Havertz. Unfortunately, Christian Pulisic did not get to join his new teammates for their 3-1 win, as he is still recovering from the injury he picked up in the FA Cup final. The word is that he is very close to returning to the team.

The German Bundesliga resumes next weekend, however this week began the German cup competition. Tyler Adams started at defensive midfield for RB Leipzig in their 3-0 win over second division side Nuremburg. Leipzig are missing several key players due to injury so Adams should see regular starting minutes to begin the season. His position in this game was especially noteworthy because he filled a role that is similar to the defensive mid in Gregg Berhalter’s system for the US. Adams was dominant defensively from this position, breaking up every attack that came through the middle of the field.

Gio Reyna started as an attacking midfielder for Borussia Dortmund in their 5-0 smack down of lower division Duisburg. Reyna was dangerous in attack throughout and scored a goal from a free kick early in the second half. It's notable that Reyna got the start since most of his minutes last year came off the bench. It could be a sign that he is moving up in the pecking order and could see an increased role in the new season.

The other young American in Germany, Josh Sargent, also received a start in his German cup match. Sargent started at forward for Werder Bremen and nodded home a headed goal to help them advance with a 2-0 win. The development of Sargent will be one of the most important storylines for the US team heading into the next World Cup.

Over in the Netherlands, US fullback Sergino Dest got a sub appearance for Ajax in their season opening win. Dest subbed on in the 33rd minute when Ajax’s starting left back got a red card. Dest showed his skill on the ball down the left flank, standing out in one sequence when he drifted past several defenders and played a deft pass in the box that should have produced an assist.

In France, Tim Weah got a late sub appearance, coming on for the last 7 minutes in Lille’s 1-0 win over Metz. This is a great sign for a player who has missed so much time over the last year and half with injuries.

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

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Monday
September 14
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#2212



five takeaways from ravens-browns


Football is a game of heart. Because it's a contact sport and all, the physicality of the game lends itself to a certain type of player. You have to be tough. You have to be willing to run a little faster, hit a little harder, suck it up a little more and, yes, even occasionally play when you probably shouldn't.

In short, you have to have a big heart to play football in the NFL.

On Sunday in Baltimore, the Cleveland Browns displayed no heart. None. The final two minutes of the first half told the whole story. Odell Beckham Jr. alligator armed a first down catch, the kicker missed a field goal, the Ravens strolled down the field virtually untouched in under a minute, and the game was O-V-E-R. It took less than 30 minutes for the Browns to throw in the towel.

Oh, sure, they'll win half their games this season, but that's mainly because the majority of the AFC stinks. Cleveland will win a lot of "small" games in 2020 but they will never -- and you can underline never for emphasis if you want -- win a "big" game this season.

I assumed the 2020 version of the Browns might actually be different. But I was wrong. It only took me one game to see I was wrong. When it's time to go from the $5 per-hand table to the $50 per-hand table, the Browns will always fold. They. Have. No. Heart.


I have no interest in getting into the "best quarterback" debate because Lamar Jackson is 0-2 as a playoff quarterback and there's simply no way to claim he's the best signal caller in the league if he's 0-2 in two home playoff games thus far. So, I'll agree with the prevailing thought around the country that Patrick Mahomes is a better quarterback than Lamar Jackson. That's fine.

Picking up right where he left off in 2019, Lamar Jackson blistered the Cleveland defense in Sunday's 38-6 romp in Baltimore.

But here's a debate I will enter: Jackson is the best "athlete" in the league. He is, in my opinion, more unstoppable than Mahomes or the third guy on your QB list, whomever that might be.

DeAndre Hopkins might be the best receiver in the game, but Jackson is more unstoppable than is Hopkins. There are lots of talented offensive players in the NFL, but none of them compare to Lamar Jackson. The "quarterback vs. athlete" argument is a blend of opinion and fact. Because Mahomes has won big games, he gets the edge over Lamar...for now. But there's no one in the league that can't be figured out like Lamar can't be figured out.

I have no idea what goes into "perfect passing rating" and, as I've said before, I have a hard time understanding how a rating can be "perfect" when the quarterback throws multiple incompletions. But let me say this: Lamar can go through a half of football (six or more offensive series') and play it almost mistake free, which is really something when you take into account how fast the NFL game is at field level. He's not perfect, but if he were playing a game of "horse", he'd have P-E-R and F. That dude is so good it's scary.


There really should be an investigation into the NFL Draft, and how, just how, the Ravens can wind up with so many quality guys and other teams can't draft a legit player to save their lives.

If I'm an owner of some of these other teams around the league, I bring in my personnel folks and rattle all of their cages. Patrick Queen, Malik Harrison, J.K. Dobbins, Devin Duvernay...how on earth did the Ravens get all four of those guys? In the same draft, even.

You can sorta-kinda excuse the Lamar Jackson pick at #32 a couple of years back. I won't call that a "fluke pick", but every team passed on Jackson, including the Ravens (once). But this past April -- and, yes, it's only one game so far -- teams passed on Queen and then passed multiple times on the likes of Dobbins, Duvernay and Harrison.

This is not to suggest that Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta have been "lucky" since 1996. They most certainly do know what they're doing. What I'm wondering, I guess, is just how little does the rest of the league really know about scouting and player selection? It seems bizarre to see the Ravens routinely grab three or four players that turn into legit NFL'ers while other teams grab guys who wind up being in the league for a few years and then, POOF, they're gone.

Ian Eagle of CBS mentioned something early in yesterday's game that knocked my socks off: 45 of the team's players on the 2020 roster are "home grown".

That's an amazing testament to the job Eric has done (and Ozzie before him). It's an organizational thing. The Ravens are one of the top three organizations in all of football, period. It's really amazing to watch.


If you want me to nitpick at the Ravens and come up with something that concerns me, I will. It's actually not a "new" thing. They've been doing it for a couple of years now, but the team has been so much better than everyone else that it hardly ever impacts them.

But I'll nitpick: The team tends to take two or three dumb penalties every game (and, yes, I'm going back to 2019 and 2018...the "Jackson era"). Matthew Judon got in his obligatory "late hit" on Baker Mayfield yesterday. Perhaps that was just a by-product of being comfortably ahead and wanting to send a message to the overhyped and overrated Browns' QB, but it was still a needless, "dumb" penalty. Judon, of course, is famous for those. The bet here is he'll have at least 5 of them this season.

Yesterday's dumb late hit by Judon wasn't a big deal. It came against the Browns and the game was in the bag. But here's hoping one of those others that are bound to happen doesn't come in the final two minutes against the Chiefs when the defense stops Mahomes on 3rd and 12 with K.C. on the Baltimore 41 yard line trailing by 5 points.

In some cases, a bad penalty is like a turnover. If it's 3rd and 14 and the opposing QB throws an incompletion, you're getting the ball after the ensuing punt. But if you hit the QB late and get nailed with a penalty, the opponent keeps the ball and their drive continues. It's just like a turnover. And you know what they say about turnovers in the NFL.


John Harbaugh's biggest task in 2020 will be keeping the Ravens motivated and prepared for the 10 lay-up games on their schedule. It won't be hard to get them ready for K.C. in a couple of weeks and Harbs shouldn't have an issue having the Ravens foaming at the mouth for Pittsburgh twice during the regular season. The New England game up there might wind up being interesting, also. But the rest of the games? Snoozers...

Coaches never overlook opposing teams, but players do all the time. They have the internet. They can read the boxscores. They're human. And other than K.C., the Steelers (maybe) and the Patriots, the Ravens are going to be 5 to 10 point favorites almost every week.

I believe the Ravens are smart enough to not let overconfidence creep in...they've seen their season end at home to inferior opponents two straight years in the post-season. They know, from experience, that "anything can happen".

But I also know that every time you clobber someone 38-6, you get more and more at ease with your ability level vs. the other team's ability level. It's natural. It takes a great coaching staff and some very narrow-focused players to stay on track throughout a 16-game season when you know 12 of the 16 games should be fairly routine victories.

In fairness to Harbs, he's lost very few "routine" games in his career. Typically (I'm guessing 95% of the time?), if the Ravens are supposed to win, they do. But that doesn't mean the coach lets off the gas when, say, the Redskins, Giants, Jaguars or Browns are up next. In 2020, with playoff home field advantage so critical, the Ravens can't afford a slip up to an inferior opponent.

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80 minutes with stewart cink


(Note from DF: Stewart Cink was the PGA Tour winner on Sunday in Napa, California, entering the winner's circle for the first time in 11 years. It triggered a funny memory for me...one that you might enjoy reading about today.)

It was, if my memory is solid, the Monday of U.S. Open week, which would have made it June 13, 2011. The scene: Congressional Country Club on the outskirts of Washington D.C.

As the only radio guy in Baltimore who cared at all about golf back in those days, I eagerly applied for and received a full access media credential to the 2011 U.S. Open. I had free reign, basically, to roam the grounds and conduct as much "media business" as I could drum up.

My plan on Monday was to try and secure a handful of guests for my morning radio show. Golf being an early morning endeavor and all, I figured it wouldn't be an issue to find a few accommodating players. I remember befriending Heath Slocum on that Monday and taping a four or five minute interview with him.

Later on that Monday, I was fortunate enough to grab Davis Love III for a couple of minutes. We shared some Ryder Cup small talk and I mentioned I was friends with Baltimore's Allen Wronowski, the-then President of the PGA and the man who essentially hired Love III to be the 2012 Ryder Cup captain.

2009 British Open champion and 7-time TOUR winner Stewart Cink.

But those two "quick hits" were just that...I wanted someone and something "big". I wanted a major champion on the show.

It was right around 4:00 pm when I saw Stewart Cink stroll up to the practice chipping area with a large basket of golf balls. His caddie shuffled over a minute or so later. I was situated about 30 yards from them, on a hill overlooking the area, a handful of large white adirondack chairs stationed there for anyone's viewing pleasure who decided to plop down. I plopped. And I plotted how I was going to get Cink, the 2009 British Open champion, to agree to a call-in interview with me on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

As I watched Cink start chipping balls to a hole some 30 feet away, I tried to guess how many balls were in the large bucket at his feet. I assumed there were 80 or 90 in there. Two balls a minute, I figured. That was roughly a 45 minute practice session I'd have to endure if I was truly going to try and catch up with Cink and ask if he'd call into my show.

Knowing the DC traffic, I was at ease with my decision to stick around. Would I rather sit on 495 for 75 minutes or sit in a chair on a nice summer day watching a British Open champion chip golf balls? The answer was obvious.

Along the way, Cink would stop on several occasions. Once he checked his phone and called someone. That was a five minute break, although he did aimlessly chip a few balls one-handed while he was on the phone. A few minutes later, Matt Kuchar strolled by for a quick chat. Ten minutes after that, Love III, chipping on the other side of the spacious green, came by to exchange a story that had both men laughing.

As Cink got down to the last ten balls, I started to rehearse my introduction and my invitation to join me on the show. I got up from the chair and stretched out, preparing to head down the hill as soon as Cink struck the last ball. Golfers, particularly at that level, are always doing something. I figured Cink would hit the last chip and then quickly head over to do either putt or leave the property. I had to be ready.

But when he had about four balls left, Cink's caddie came over and dumped another 20 balls at Stewart's feet. I sighed. And slumped back down in the chair. A media representative came by and asked if I wanted something to drink. She brought me back an iced tea and an apple. Nice touch, indeed.

Finally, Cink got down to the last few balls and I made my way down the hill.

As he hit the final one -- it looked like an 8-iron, low to the ground -- I walked onto the green and held up my media badge so he could see I was "legit".

"Hi Stewart, can I grab you for just a second?" I asked. I knew from dealing with Ravens and Orioles that "just a second" is a good way to start off any kind of request. I mean, who doesn't have "a second" for someone, right?

Cink was putting his watch on and checking his phone as he started to walk away. He mumbled something like, "Sure, what's up?" and I went into my request.

I gave him my name and mentioned I was an on-air sports talk host in Baltimore. "My show airs every morning from 6 am to 10 am," I explained. "Any chance you could call in and join me tomorrow morning for 10 minutes or so?"

Cink stopped walking. He was having trouble getting his watch to clasp on his wrist. "Tomorrow?" he said. It struck me he was in stall mode. He knew I had said "tomorrow morning" just seconds before.

"Yes, anytime from 6 am to 10 am," I replied.

"What time are we playing tomorrow morning?" he asked his caddie.

"Balls in the air at 8:30," his caddie shot back. I did some quick math that would have made Will Hunting proud and knew that Cink would likely be in his car around 7 am if he needed to arrive at the course for an 8:30 am practice round.

"You can call me on your way to the course," I suggested.

"I have to get up early to help with the kids," Cink explained. "Tomorrow won't work."

"No problem," I said. "Can we do it Wednesday morning?"

"10:20 on the tee," his caddie said, knowing Cink was going to ask what time their Wednesday practice round was scheduled to start.

"Anytime between 6 am and 10 am is fine," I reminded him.

Cink shuffled nervously as he thought about the request. "The problem is," he said, "I have a busy morning. I help with my kids and all and then once I get in the car and head to the course I'm really only thinking about golf."

"We can do it later in the day, tomorrow or Wednesday," I said. "I can tape it and run it the next day. It doesn't have to be a live call in. We can make it work." I thought about asking him to do a quick 2 or 3 minute taped segment right then and there, but I knew he wouldn't have enough patience to wait for 3 minutes while I set up the equipment.

"I just need 10 minutes, tops," I said, throwing out a gentle reminder that I wasn't asking him to do anything out of the ordinary.

Cink stood there and looked at me. He looked at his caddie.

He paused.

Who would blink first?

"Look, I just don't feel like doing it," he said. "I'd just rather not do it."

And with that, he peeled off to his right and started to head to the clubhouse. About ten steps into his walk, he turned around. "Hey...what did you say your name was?" Cink asked.

Before I could say anything, he jumped back in. "Drew, right? Drew?"

I nodded. "Yes, Drew."

Cink said, "No hard feelings, Drew. OK?"

And that was that. One hour and ten minutes of waiting for Stewart Cink to blow me off and then ease his way out of it by saying, "No hard feelings..."

Oddly enough, it struck me on the drive home that I probably got lucky having Cink simply tell me "I don't want to do it." I'd rather he do that than to agree to do the call-in and then simply "forget" to call me.

If nothing else, at least I knew Stewart Cink was a straight shooter. He didn't want to do it...and he eventually built up enough gumption to just tell me that.

And I did get an iced tea and apple out of it.

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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


On the field…I mean, how good is Lamar Jackson? No matter how good you thought he could be, he’s better.

We can’t predict how many years Lamar will play. The great ones of both recent and not-so-recent vintage have played for 12, 15, even close to 20 years. In terms of greatness, longevity is important, even in a sport where careers tend to be relatively short.

All I know is, for however long they have him, the Ravens lucked into the best player in the NFL with the 32nd pick in the draft.

Maybe I shouldn’t use the word “luck.” What the Ravens did to get Jackson where and when they did was completely intentional. The team, despite what many people thought, drafted him to be its next quarterback, not as some kind of gimmick. As soon as he began his NFL career in earnest, the team had a great plan to use him in ways that he could be most effective.

But the good fortune comes from the fact that Jackson isn’t just a guy who can run and pass. He’s become a player who sees everything better than almost any quarterback in the league. The Ravens didn’t just get a guy they thought could be good — they got a guy who’s clearly worked tremendously hard at the craft of being an NFL quarterback.

I’m no expert, but name a QB right now that’s better at looking through his “progressions” than Jackson? Receivers aren’t just open because he’s a threat to run; they’re open because his eyes are pulling defenders away.

As CBS color commentator Charles Davis mentioned on Sunday…name a QB who’s better at “throwing someone open” than Jackson? Like all the greats, he recognizes immediately when a defender’s back is turned and knows where to throw the ball where only the receiver can catch it.

Patrick Mahomes is, in many ways, more spectacular as a passer than Jackson. And Mahomes has a Super Bowl, of course, not to mention two wins over the Ravens with Jackson at quarterback, not that those losses were Jackson’s fault.

Neither Jackson nor Mahomes, however, really has any weaknesses. They are almost perfect players for today’s NFL, when versatility is making a return after years of specialization. Add in the fact that Jackson, on any given day, is the best runner in the NFL, and you see what I mean about luck.


Off the field...they had a “moment of unity” prior to the NFL season opener in Kansas City on Thursday, and some in the crowd booed.

When the Chiefs and Texans locked arms in unity prior to last Thursday's season opener in Kansas City, some fans booed the display.

Look. I get it. The people who booed didn’t do so because they are racist and evil. They did so because of what I call the “Holy Trinity” of sports fan justifications.

Protest on your own time.

Keep politics out of sports.

Sports has always been an escape from reality.

We’ve discussed this trinity ad nauseam in recent years, since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee. I’m really not interested in discussing it now, except to say that — black, white or anything else — we seem to have no problem cheering for players on the field but a huge problem cheering for them off it. There are a lot of reasons for that, money being a big one.

As I watched on Thursday — and I really just wanted to watch the game, by the way, just like those fans in Arrowhead — my mind wandered back to all those times I’ve been in the local NFL stadium pregame, back when you were allowed to attend games here in person.

I’d say my memory’s about 20 percent “Squirrel Dance,” and maybe five percent Bruce Cunningham’s canned audio reminding us “don’t be a jerk.” The other 75 percent? Patriotism! Flyovers! Field-covering American flags! Lee Greenwood!

I hardly take offense at any of that. Flyovers are cool. “God Bless the USA” is a positive message and a catchy tune, much better than Toby Keith talking about “lighting up your world like the Fourth of July” and “putting a boot in your ass” because that’s the American way.

But I’m also not stupid, and neither are you. It’s enforced patriotism. It’s the conflation of football — manly, strong, powerful — with America. For a long time, under our noses, the NFL was actually a paid client of the Department of Defense, which was giving millions to teams in what was essentially a marketing and enlistment ploy.

I never served in the military. I’m more than willing to thank those who did, and who do, for their service. I hear the national anthem at sporting events hundreds of times per year, and I stand in pride every time. You know what, though? Maybe some people don’t want a specific kind of patriotism, or anything else, foisted on them just because they bought a ticket to a football game. Sound familiar?


On the field…I’m just not sure about Baker Mayfield. This is his third year, and I don’t see any real improvement. The Browns have a good running game with Nick Chubb and now Kareem Hunt, and they also have Odell Beckham, Jr., and Jarvis Landry, all things that should make a quarterback better. Maybe it’s just that Baker is not that quarterback.

The graphic that CBS threw up on the screen at some point in the second half is also somewhat telling. In three seasons, Mayfield has now had four different head coaches and four different offensive coordinators. Of course, maybe if he played better, there wouldn’t have been so many of them.

In Year 3, Mayfield’s throwing mechanics still look inconsistent to me. It’s ok to be moving your feet in the pocket, but he gets pretty choppy after only a few seconds back there. When they’re actually back there in the pocket throwing — as opposed to on the run, when Jackson has all sorts of arm angles — I’d say Lamar has better mechanics and throws a nicer ball.

I’m also not sure about the Ravens’ run defense. Cleveland averaged more than five yards per carry; the outstanding tandem of Chubb and Hunt combined for 132 yards on 23 rushes. I’m glad that the threesome of Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams decided to name themselves “The Monstars,” but I’d say they are 0-for-1 so far in living up to it. The monstrous Campbell did most of his good stuff in the passing game; how about a 6-foot-8, 300 lb., guy dropping back in coverage as he did on the early interception?

The lack of noise in the stadium, 70-decibel humming or not, is not a boon to the defense in places like Baltimore, where the crowd is loud and used to having a great defensive unit. It was unusual seeing a game at the stadium downtown where the opposing quarterback isn’t constantly going through some kind of play-changing and audibles while trying to keep his cool and communicate without screaming.

I am sure about the Ravens’ secondary. On pure talent, Marcus Peters might be the best cornerback in team history, and Marlon Humphrey is a stud, no matter how many holding and/or pass interference penalties Odell Beckham can draw in a five-minute span. And speaking of Beckham…exactly when is he going to help the Browns actually win football games?


Off the field, someone asked why the Chiefs can play in front of 22 percent (yes, that specific) capacity at Arrowhead Stadium, somewhere around 17,000 fans, while the Ravens decided on no fans for “at least the initial part of the season.” It’s a perfectly good question; I just don’t see how it would be unsafe to do what they did in Kansas City in Downtown Baltimore or suburban Orchard Park, N.Y., or the majestic new stadium for the Chargers and Rams on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, near the old Forum arena.

The answer lies in the fact that the entire COVID-19 response has been somewhat haphazard—generally left to states and municipalities looking for guidelines, or maybe deciding on their own while not looking for guidelines. And please don’t take that as a criticism of the President or governors or mayors or any other public officials—this is unusual and unprecedented stuff.

Here’s what I mean about haphazard, though. I read that the Mayor of Nashville, actually the Mayor of the metro government of the city and the entire county, decreed that there would be no fans for the Titans’ home opener Sept. 20. Meanwhile, it was the Governor of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, who set the guidelines for gatherings in the state and didn’t give football an exception, so the Giants and Jets are without fans indefinitely.

In Ohio — the Bengals and Browns play on Thursday in Cleveland — the state government has issued a very specific variance for each team. From what I understand, it’s somewhere about 6,000 fans, spaced out in a certain way. And then there’s Raiders’ owner Mark Davis, who’s got a new stadium of his own in Las Vegas. He basically said that no matter what the NFL or state government said, if he was going to tell some of his fans they couldn’t come, then he’d rather just tell all of them. It’s only fair.

It seems to me that, eventually, every NFL team that hasn’t said “no” for the season will try to get some fans in their stadium before the end of the year. Of course, that assumes that NFL teams don’t panic when hearing that the fall and winter may be worse; by the time Week 17 hits on Jan. 3, 2021, it’ll be well into winter in Northern climes, and maybe even here.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 1


Sunday— September 13, 2020

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-7.0)


It's football season in Baltimore.

It might look and feel a bit strange today when the ball goes in the air shortly after 1 pm, but it's football season nonetheless.

And if all goes according to plan for John Harbaugh and his two-time defending AFC North champions, it could be a very successful campaign at that. Virtually every major publication and NFL follower has the Ravens winning the division once again and advancing to the conference title game -- or even one step past it.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns look to make an opening Sunday statement in Baltimore.

Not that the Ravens need a "real" opponent on week one to determine their own quality, but the Cleveland Browns come to town today and they'll be looking to make a statement.

One year removed from handing John Harbaugh one of his worst home regular season losses ever, the Browns have loaded their roster with offensive talent. Their biggest question...can the quarterback get the most out of that talent and move himself into the upper echelon of NFL signal callers at the same time?

We'll learn a lot about both teams this afternoon in Baltimore. One game does not a season make is a legit phrase that the losing team can cling to today, but make no mistake about it: Both clubs can use this contest to judge where they are and where they need to go from here.

A Cleveland win today would showcase the Browns as a potential division title contender. A Baltimore win sends an immediate message to the Browns that the old King doesn't easily give up his throne.

This one should come down to which defense bends the least.

The Browns have the makings of a powerful offense, but their quarterback is often hot, cold, hot and cold again -- all within the same game. If Baker Mayfield can stay hot throughout much of this afternoon's tilt, Cleveland figures to put up some points. The issue, of course, is can the Cleveland defense do enough to stymie Lamar Jackson and the high-octane Baltimore offense? That's a task not many teams handled successfully in 2019.

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by the percentages


0% chance that the two teams don't combine for more than 30 points. This is not going to be a 17-13 defensive slugfest.

20% chance that the Browns win this one. They could win today. Mayfield has played well in Baltimore in two career starts. But it would be a significant upset if Cleveland wins.

40% chance that Lamar Jackson throws for over 250 yards and runs for at least 50. As he was a year ago, Lamar will be a threat throwing it and running with it.

60% chance the Ravens win the game by double digits. Opening day. In Baltimore. Perfect weather. Seems like a recipe for a 33-23 win.

80% chance the Baltimore defense generates at least two turnovers. If they rattle Mayfield early, he'll cough up the ball, especially if the Browns have to play from behind.

100% chance the Ravens ground game goes for 125 yards or more. Until proven otherwise, Baltimore still has the NFL's best rushing offense.

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how drew sees today's game


The Ravens march down the field on their opening offensive possession and cash in for a touchdown, with Lamar hitting Mark Andrews from 9 yards out to give Baltimore a quick 7-0 lead.

Drew sees Mark Andrews having a big day for the Ravens in this afternoon's season opener.

After Cleveland drives 60 yards deep into Ravens territory, Mayfield's pass is batted in the air by Brandon Williams and picked off by rookie linebacker Patrick Queen. The Ravens put together a 10-play drive that results in a Justin Tucker field goal to make it 10-0.

Midway through the second quarter, the Browns get a field goal of their own to make it 10-3, but Jackson and the Baltimore running game churn out big yards on the next series and Mark Ingram plunges into the end zone with less than two minutes remaining in the first half to make it 17-3.

The Browns quickly go down the field and advance the ball all the way to the Baltimore eight yard line, but the Ravens defense tightens and Cleveland is forced to kick another field goal. It's 17-6, Baltimore, at the half.

Midway through the third quarter, Cleveland cobbles together their most impressive long drive of the day, going 84 yards in 13 plays, capping it off with a Nick Chubb touchdown run. Cleveland goes for two and converts, making it 17-14.

On the ensuing drive, Jackson finds Miles Boykin on a long throw, then hits Hollywood Brown near the goal line for another big gain. Just a minute and a half after the Browns narrow the lead to two points, Jackson scampers into the end zone from four yards out and it's a 24-14 lead heading into the 4th quarter.

Jackson again hits Mark Andrews in the end zone midway through the 4th quarter, thanks in part to a Jimmy Smith interception that gave the Ravens the ball at midfield, and it's 31-14.

The Browns score a touchdown in the game's final minute to make it 31-21 and that's the way it ends on opening day in Baltimore. Ravens win their season opener, 31-21.

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around the league in 30 seconds


Can Drew Brees spoil the Bucs debut of Tom Brady?

Game of the Day -- No brainer here. It's Tom Brady's debut in Tampa, vs. Drew Brees and the Saints in New Orleans. This one kicks off at 4:25 pm, so the whole country will get to see if "Tompa Bay" is a real thing or not. New Orleans is a 3.5 point favorite. We like the Bucs to cover and win in this one.

Dud of the Day -- Chargers at Bengals. Holy bore-ville. At least we know one of these two teams will be 1-0 after week one. But that might be one of only four wins they get all season. It will be interesting to see what Joe Burrow does, if nothing else.

Most To Prove -- If Arizona fancies themselves legit contenders in the NFC West, they have a wonderful opportunity to send an early message with today's opener in San Francisco. How much will DeAndre Hopkins help Kyler Murray and the Arizon offense? We'll know more about that today. In case you care: we like the Cardinals in an upset today.

Lock of the Day -- Yikes. We keep looking for a lock. And we're still looking. There aren't any, really. But we'll go out on a limb here and say today's "lock" is Miami getting 7 points in New England. When's the last time anyone lost faith in New England? Twenty years ago, that's when. But count us among those who think New England is going to have a rough go of it in 2020.

AFC North predictions -- Ravens beat the Browns. Bengals win on a late field goal. Steelers pull out a late victory at the New York Giants on Monday night.




#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Friday
September 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2209



a conflicting day


In professional wrestling, a "shoot interview" is one where the wrestling character goes off script and offers a legitimate, personal answer to a question or series of questions. Shoot interviews often occur when wrestlers are asked to portray a character they don't personally align with or after an injury to either themselves or another wrestler. "Shoot" interviews are rare in the business because, of course, the characters and storylines are the most important element of sports theater.

This, today, will be "Shoot #DMD". Not that I or other writers here are characters of any kind. We're not. But today I'll offer more than a thought on sports. A lot has been on mind over the last 48 hours and a significant amount of it has little to do with sports.

I'm going to ramble here. I don't see much sense in trying to formally arrange things in any kind of manner. In the end, you'll either get it or you won't, and if you do that's great and if you don't that's just as fine. I'm not writing this for you today as much as I'm probably writing it for me. But I do hope you'll read along and perhaps something you see below will resonate with you. But again, if it doesn't...no hard feelings at all.

I'll start by saying that over the last two nights (Wednesday and Thursday) I immersed myself in watching shows on The National Geographic Channel about the attacks of September 11, 2001. I also dusted off my old copy of The 9/11 Commission Report and read a significant part of that as well over the last two days. Why? I'm not sure. We've all changed a lot since 2001, I guess, and one of the things I've done in those 19 years is learned a lot more about the power and importance of forgiveness. Both giving forgiveness and receiving it, as well.

As I watched the accounts of 9/11 over the last two nights, I wondered how it would be possible to forgive the 19 hi-jackers who were involved in the four airplanes on that Tuesday morning. I'm conflicted on this issue, still. I can't do it. The more I watch, the more angry I get. Forgiveness isn't an option. "Those men can't possibly be in heaven..." I said to myself last night as the show displayed names and pictures of the hi-jackers. "God wouldn't forgive them, right?" I asked myself.

I didn't sleep well last night, truth be told, because I kept thinking about that topic of forgiveness and how it's incumbent upon all of us to "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."

I can't help but think about the dichotomy of the United States on 9/11/01 vs. 9/11/20.

On September 11, 2001, we were attacked by an outside, foreign agent who wanted to send a message to our country. On September 11, 2020, we're attacking ourselves, literally, in cities all over the country, sending a message to one another. Frankly, I'm not sure which one hurts more. And I don't know which one seems more wrong.

We were caught off-guard on 9/11/01. Even though we knew bits and pieces of the hijacking plan a few years earler -- according to the 9-11 Commission Report -- and even though we had considered trying to take out Osama bin Laden in the late 1990's, the events of that Tuesday were a shock. What's happening in our country, now, isn't a shock. The details and the events might be graphic and shocking, but this unrest has been brewing for two decades, at least.

But as I watched 9/11 coverage last night and watched hundreds of firefighters and first responders enter the two buildings in New York City, I felt an overwhelming amount of pride for our country and the people who serve it. I'm quite certain, even given the political and civil unrest in our country today, that if somehow we were involved in a similar national tragedy today, our emergency workers would be front and center once again. In fact, we've seen that over the last six months with doctors, nurses and medical professionals fighting the Covid-19 virus. People step up when the call comes, putting others first and themselves second.

On July 30, 2002, Bruce Springsteen released an album called The Rising. Many of the songs were written about the 9/11 tragedy, including "Lonesome Day", "Into the Fire", "Empty Sky" and two songs I'd like you to listen to today: "The Rising" and "You're Missing". I don't think you have to be a Springsteen fan to understand the emotion of the lyrics.

"The Rising" was written about the firefighters who marched up the steps to fight the fire and save as many lives as they could.

Can't see nothin' in front of me

Can't see nothin' coming up behind

I make my way through this darkness

I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me

Lost track of how far I've gone

How far I've gone, how high I've climbed

On my back's a sixty pound stone

On my shoulder a half mile line

Come on up for the rising

Come on up, lay your hands in mine

Come on up for the rising

Come on up for the rising tonight





please continue reading below

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continued


Here's where I'll confess that I did not watch last night's NFL opener in Kansas City.

A few days ago, I decided I would make a game time call based on the decision by both teams to stand for the national anthem. I didn't broadcast that here. I didn't broadcast it on social media. I didn't broadcast to friends, family, etc. I just made a personal decision that I was willing to follow through on if necessary: If both teams didn't stand for the national anthem, I wouldn't watch the game.

Monitoring my social media timeline, I saw a clip of the Houston Texans running out to the field after the national anthem was played. I don't know if the Chiefs stood or not, but when I saw the Texans had stayed in their locker room, I followed through on my vow. It was, I'm certain, a one-time thing. I'll be watching the Ravens this Sunday no matter what the two teams do. And I'll watch other games this season as well. If that's somehow hypocritical or "backwards", that's fair.

Last night's decision was based mainly on the connection between 9/11 and the opportunity for 106 men and coaches to put aside whatever it is they are feeling about their country now and realize the blessings they have as United States citizens. Blessings that, sadly, were taken away from 2,997 people on September 11, 2001.

If that's too myopic or sappy, I'll own that. But the backdrop of 9/11 and the men and women who lost their lives juxtaposed against athletes who have been blessed by God was eventually what led me to make my decision. If they couldn't, on one night, stand for our country's national anthem, I wouldn't watch. They didn't -- and I didn't. That said, I forgive them. And today the sun came up and we're all breathing another breath because of God's grace.

I do believe our country has to take steps to improve both quality and equality. I shouldn't have to say "I stand against racism", but these days, if you don't openly say it or support it, people believe you're against it. Racism is not good. Hate is not good. Treating others poorly is not good. I believe the teachings of Jesus in The Bible should be followed. John 13:34 - A new commandment that I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.

Perhaps I got too caught up in the tragedy and sadness of 9/11/01 and let that rule my heart and convictions last night. It didn't feel "good" to not watch and it didn't "hurt" to not watch. In a weird way, it was almost like I forgot there was a game.

I didn't post a social media message about the game...because I didn't watch it and didn't have any information about it. (K.C. won, 34-20, by the way).

I made a personal decision to not contribute to the TV ratings or the internet chatter because I believe, particularly on the eve of the greatest tragedy in our nation's history, that both teams should have stood for the national anthem last night. I'm not asking for applause and I'd prefer to not get any grief about it, either. I just did what I felt was the right thing to do -- for me.

I pledge allegiance, to the Flag

of the United States of America

and to the republic, for which it stands

one Nation, under God

indivisible, with liberty and justice, for all.

Those who previously listened to my radio show know I started every morning at 6:07 am by reciting the Pledge. Every morning I would stand, hand over my heart, and recite the Pledge on the air. That's how I was brought up in school and it never left me. I believe every school in our country should recite the Pledge every morning. I'm proud to say the school that my two children attend believes that's still important in 2020.

As we move forward, I hope the 9/11 tragedy serves as a reminder to everyone about the inherent quality in nearly every human being born and raised in this country. Those firefighters, police officers and emergency professionals who responded to the Twin Towers knew nothing about the color, sexuality or gender of the people they were trying to save. What they knew, of course, is that someone was in trouble and generally unable to help themselves. If we can grasp that same concept within our own daily lives and simply love one another, as described in John 13:34, we can create for ourselves a kinder universe.

One of Springsteen's most chilling songs from "The Rising" album was "You're Missing". Two days after the 9/11 attacks, Springsteen visited a New York area church and befriended a family whose father was a firefighter who didn't come home on the evening of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Shirts in the closet, shoes in the hall

Mama's in the kitchen, baby and all

Everything is everything

Everything is everything

But you're missing

Coffee cup's on the counter

Jacket's on the chair

Paper's on the doorstep

But you're not here

Everything is everything

Everything is everything

But you're missing

Picture's on the nightstand

TV's on in the den

Your house is waiting, your house is waiting

For you to walk in, for you to walk in

But you're missing




I believe prayer works best when you're praying for others. God hears prayer. If you believe in prayer, take time today to pray for those who were impacted by the 9/11 tragedies. Those who perished in the Twin Towers. Those who died while on rescue and search missions. And the families of everyone who lost a loved one. Pray for their eternal peace and comfort.

And may our great country and its people rise to a state where we no longer fight one another or create hardships for one another. May we learn to forgive.

And may we learn to look back on days of sorrow like September 11, 2001 and appreciate the gestures of people who are willing to give up their own lives in an effort to save someone else's life.

Tomorrow, it's back to sports. If you stuck with me for this long, thanks for reading. God Bless You.

-DF-

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join #dmd's 2020 nfl pick 'em contest!


We're excited to partner with our friends at Glory Days Grill for this year's edition of our NFL pick 'em contest. The top five finishers in our 12-week contest will all be grand prize winners.

Here's how the contest works. You must pick a team to win once per week during the 12-week contest. You'll be submitting ONLY 12 team names and games. But there are three rules.

You must pick the Ravens twice in 12 weeks but you can only pick road games for the Ravens.

You can only pick a team once during the 12 weeks (except for the Ravens, of course).

Including the Ravens, you must select a minimum of four road teams, so your entry must contain at least two Ravens road picks and two other road picks.

Your entry can include all road games if you prefer.

Scoring details -- Scoring has changed from previous years, so please understand how we score the 2020 contest.

Correct home team selections are worth 2 points and away team selections are worth 4 points.

However, incorrect selections are now penalized 1 point and an incorrect Ravens selection is penalized 2 points.

The way you enter the contest is important as it greatly helps us keep score.

Below is a sample entry form. Please follow this format as closely as you can when entering.

---------------

Your name: Dave Matthews

Week 1: San Francisco

Week 2: Pittsburgh

Week 3: Tampa Bay (road #1)

Week 4: Ravens (road #2)

Week 5: Houston

Week 6: Chicago (road #3)

Week 7: Atlanta

Week 8: Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: Ravens (road #4)

Week 10: Miami

Week 11: Denver

Week 12: Dallas

Please email your entry form to: dmdscore@gmail.com

Only one entry per-person. Anyone submitting multiple entries will be disqualifed like Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

If there's a tie for 5th (or better), we will have a one-week playoff in week 13 to determine the winner(s).

Good luck!!!

I Am Catholic
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Thursday
September 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2208



nuts and bolts


From the "Should Have Bet It" department: Look, I fall smack dab in the middle of the classifaction of "casual NBA fan", but I said from jump street the Miami Heat were going to make some noise in the NBA playoffs. I'm sure wishing I would followed my own instincts on that one. And, yes, I think they're beating either Toronto or Boston in the next series. Alas, when they do, I'll be right back here lamenting how dumb I was for not throwing down a few quid on Jimmy Butler's gang.

The "new" PGA Tour season starts today out in Napa, California. I know what you're thinking and you're right: Didn't the most recent TOUR campaign just end on Monday of this week?. Yes, it did. And the U.S. Open is next week at Winged Foot, don't forget, which is really "last season's" U.S. Open, not "this" season's U.S. Open. Confused like a Flyers fan looking for Stanley Cup Finals tickets? Don't be. It will all make sense at some point. Ryder Cup points are at stake in the new season, so even obscure events like this one in Napa matter.

Chris Davis is once again "available" to manager Brandon Hyde after missing a dozen games with a knee injury. But should the O's skipper even use the light-hitting first baseman?

The Orioles playoff run was temporarily derailed last night after the Birds coughed up a 5-1 lead en route to losing to the lowly Mets, 7-6. I know it seems odd to refer to some other team as "lowly" when your own squad has been lousy for three years, but we're seeing light at the end of the tunnel in Baltimore. I'm not sure the Mets can say the same thing, although that Pete Alonso kid is a pretty decent player, as he showed last night with his game-winning dinger in the 8th inning. Anyway, the O's take on the Yankees for four important games in New York starting tonight. Imagine that...the Orioles and "four important games" in the same sentence. Seems really weird to write that.

Chris Davis is back. Sort of. The O's activated Davis earlier this week and manager Brandon Hyde said the struggling first baseman "is an option" on a daily basis. I have to admit I laughed when I heard Hyde say that. "An option" for what? I mean, the team is, believe it or not, in the thick of the wild card race in the American League. Unless they completely bottom out and lose their next eight games or something crazy like that, they're likely going to be in the face for the last 18 games of the season. Why on earth would you insert Davis into any game where he might have to bat? If you want to throw him out there for some defensive assurance in the 8th or 9th inning, I can see the merits of that. But putting a bat in his hand? Might as well have Jose Feliciano get up there and take a swing or two. And I'm not so sure Davis himself even wants at bats. His last 15 or 20 swings, before his "injury", had the look of a guy who knows his time has come. I'd love to be wrong on all of this, by the way. If ever there was a reclamation story I'd love to see an athlete author, it's Davis. He's a terrific human being, by all accounts. But he's paid to play baseball...

The NFL season kicks off tonight with Houston at Kansas City in the first football game during the coronavirus pandemic. I have no idea at all what football is going to look or sound like without people in the stadium, so I'm incredibly interested in watching tonight's game. If Kansas City stays healthy (which is really code word for: if Patrick Mahomes stays healthy) they are going to steamroll through the league again, with only a handful of challenges (including a game at Baltimore in late September) on their schedule. But if Mahomes were to go down with an injury, the AFC becomes a wide-open affair. Houston, meanwhile, still has the best helmets in football, so they have that going for them...which is nice.

Speaking of the Orioles and their schedule, how is it possible that the Birds (20-22) have played 17 away games and 25 home games thus far? Just a scheduling quirk, I suppose? Not that it really matters in 2020 because they're no fans in the stadiums, but home stadium dimensions matter, for sure. The Birds are 10-7 "away" and 10-15 at "home". Maybe our battlin' Birds should play away all the time, now that I think about it.

It looks like the New York Islanders are running out of steam in the NHL playoffs. They're now down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series with Tampa Bay after the Lightning won last night, 2-1. The next game is the biggie, of course. If New York goes down 3-0, it's over. But if they can trim the series to 2-1, it's "on" again. I like the young lineup Barry Trotz has put together "on the Island" and, in particular, his hotshot 23-year old center Matt Barzal. Barzal was all over the ice against the Capitals in New York's 4-1 series win and was a prominent part of the Islanders 4-3 series triumph over the worst franchise in the history of sports. I'm sorta-kinda pulling for the Islanders because I like Trotz, but Tampa Bay is firing on all cylinders right now.

I'm not going to drive this point into the ground because the 2020 baseball season should be one for "experimenting", but the Orioles have to tighten up their various broadcast teams. For starters, it seems to me there are simply too many people involved on a nightly basis. I always thought part of the comfort of listening to a game on the radio was "knowing" the voice you were hearing and developing a comfort level with him/her. I realize not everyone can be Chuck Thompson or Joe Angel, but over the years sports play-by-play folks became almost like family members piping through your radio on a hot summer night. This summer, I can't watch an O's game or listen to one without hearing a "new" voice every inning or three, it seems. I get it. We're in a pandemic and things are "different". But the O's need to do better in 2021. What they have now isn't clicking. At least not to this listener/viewer.

Did Navy football really play a game earlier this week without having had any full contact practices because of the pandemic? Doesn't that seem, I don't know, a bit "unsafe"? Brigham Young smashed the 55-3 and the Navy boys looked completely overmatched in the game. Afterwards, the Navy coach bemoaned his decision to not have contact practices. Instead, the players tackled dummies (insert your Flyers joke here if you choose to do so...I'm far too mature for that). I understand the virus issue and all that jazz, but either "play" football or don't play football. You can't really have it both ways. Throwing those kids to the wolves against Brigham Young was borderline negligent, if you ask me. I watched about 8 minutes of it and thought to myself, "This can't actually be a "real" game." It looked more lopsided than anything I've seen in a long time. One team (Navy) was playing at about 25% and the other was at 95%. It was that obvious.

I've seen a lot of online chatter this week (including here at #DMD) about people not supporting the NFL any longer because of the ongoing social justice angle the league is apparently going to ramp up in 2020. As I wrote here yesterday, it's not my job to tell you how to think or feel about the Ravens or the NFL for their decision(s) to fully embrace and support the players. It's quite obvious, at least to me, that the league has made a 32-team decision to do just that. They're basically saying, "our most important "enterprise" in all of this are the players themselves." So, yes, that means they're not saying the fans are number one. The players are number one. The fans, then, might be number two. Or three, even. I have no idea. But make no mistake about it, the NFL has given the players more freedoms and liberties than ever before when it comes to promoting and publicizing their own feelings on work time. It's similar to what the NBA has done by allowing players to have social justice messages on the back of their uniforms. This, I feel, is the biggest hurdle the NFL has jumped over. It's one thing to allow a player to promote social justice issues in commercials, online ads, etc. It's another thing, entirely, to allow him to do that while he's at work. It will be interesting to see how it comes out in the wash with the fans.

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join #dmd's 2020 nfl pick 'em contest!


We're excited to partner with our friends at Glory Days Grill for this year's edition of our NFL pick 'em contest. The top five finishers in our 12-week contest will all be grand prize winners.

Here's how the contest works. You must pick a team to win once per week during the 12-week contest. You'll be submitting ONLY 12 team names and games. But there are three rules.

You must pick the Ravens twice in 12 weeks but you can only pick road games for the Ravens.

You can only pick a team once during the 12 weeks (except for the Ravens, of course).

Including the Ravens, you must select a minimum of four road teams, so your entry must contain at least two Ravens road picks and two other road picks.

Your entry can include all road games if you prefer.

Scoring details -- Scoring has changed from previous years, so please understand how we score the 2020 contest.

Correct home team selections are worth 2 points and away team selections are worth 4 points.

However, incorrect selections are now penalized 1 point and an incorrect Ravens selection is penalized 2 points.

The way you enter the contest is important as it greatly helps us keep score.

Below is a sample entry form. Please follow this format as closely as you can when entering.

---------------

Your name: Dave Matthews

Week 1: San Francisco

Week 2: Pittsburgh

Week 3: Tampa Bay (road #1)

Week 4: Ravens (road #2)

Week 5: Houston

Week 6: Chicago (road #3)

Week 7: Atlanta

Week 8: Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: Ravens (road #4)

Week 10: Miami

Week 11: Denver

Week 12: Dallas

Please email your entry form to: dmdscore@gmail.com

Only one entry per-person. Anyone submitting multiple entries will be disqualifed like Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

If there's a tie for 5th (or better), we will have a one-week playoff in week 13 to determine the winner(s).

Good luck!!!

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

"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.


new season, same trepidation…


I believe the Ravens, the best team in the NFL in 2019, will have a fine 2020 season. I mean, I’ve seen all the numbers…

As we speak, the team is favored to win all 16 of its games, what with the game against Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on a Monday night later this month coming at M&T Bank Stadium. Almost unprecedented, from what I understand.

I haven’t seen any statistical projection that suggests Lamar Jackson and company will win fewer than 11 games, which was almost a 100 percent lock for a playoff berth when six teams from each conference made the postseason, let alone seven beginning this year.

Football Outsiders suggests that three teams stand apart this year (better than a 10 percent chance) when it comes to making it to Super Bowl LV (that’s 55). The Ravens are one of them, along with the Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. By the way, LV is in Tampa, site of the Ravens’ win in XXXV 20 seasons ago, in case you’re looking for good omens.

Mark Ingram and the Ravens running attack figure to be one of the NFL's most profilic offensive units in 2020.

And we knew the moment the regular season ended a year ago that the Ravens’ schedule is quite a bit “easier” in 2020 than it was during the 14-win 2019 season. The Ravens will play four games against the three “worst” 2019 teams by overall record, not to mention a fifth game against a Jacksonville team that appears to be this year’s “Tank for Whomever” squad.

So, I believe the Ravens will win lots of games this fall and early winter, and not just because of the numbers.

You know what, though? If they don’t live up to those expectations, it’s ok.

Yes, there will be an NFL season. Eventually, there may be some fans in every stadium. Sure, the players are getting paid. And certainly, the league can go on without preseason games. The pads are going on, for real, starting tonight in Kansas City.

But it still doesn’t seem that real to me. It’s sort of a throwaway season. Every team has a built-in excuse for not living up to expectations, and I’m not sure I can argue with the excuse.

Football players are people. They’ve dealt with the same mental and physical challenges as the rest of the world this year. I wonder if they’re ready to play, and I question whether this season means as much to them as it normally would.

The players did almost all of their offseason workouts via Zoom, or maybe it was Skype. I’m sure the Ravens were incredibly organized about all of it, and did as well with it as could possibly be imagined. I bet some of the players actually enjoyed being home instead of traveling to minicamps. But there’s just no way it was the same preparation for the season.

Preseason games stink. That being said, without them, how well did any team evaluate the “fringe” players on its roster for 2020? They may be on the fringe, but they can be really important. I’d say there are a few more unknowns for coaches right now than is typical.

Now the games are starting. On television, they’ll look real. But this isn’t a bubble in Orlando or Edmonton. It’s not a shortened season with limited travel. These games aren’t being played at a golf course, which was never meant to be a place for spectators anyway.

There will be 256 games, played exactly where they were supposed to be played on the exact days they were scheduled. That sounds like a return to normalcy, but playing in empty stadiums sure doesn’t make it feel that way.

Whatever our normal reactions are to a three-hour window on Sunday, Monday or Thursday featuring the home team wearing some combination of white, purple or black, they’re going to be muted, aren’t they? Elation — like we felt after that kick-ass win in Seattle last October — won’t feel the same. The general hijinks of an NFL season — the conflicts, the incidents, whatever happens with the Raiders and Cowboys, and something always does — won’t seem as interesting. Right now, I’m even willing to say that the disappointments — such as those January days in Baltimore this year and last year — won’t feel nearly as disappointing…but I’ll get back to you about that.

All of that’s a shame because — as I was saying before reality rudely interrupted — the Ravens are set up for greatness.

Jackson is 23 now, 24 by playoff time, and he’s spent the offseason working as best he could on the thing he most needs to work on—those outside-the-numbers timing throws that distinguish successful NFL quarterbacks from third-stringers. I saw it a few times at the end of last season, and I’m guessing we’ll see it more often starting Sunday.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more interested in a Ravens’ wide receiver than I am in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. In his second year, he could be something the team has never had in its quarter century of existence — one of the league’s most electrifying players at the position. For sure, Jackson’s improvement as a passer will help Brown along in that regard.

Amazingly, it took me until now to mention that the 2019 Ravens rushed for more yards than any other team in NFL history, and then drafted Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, who has a chance to be a feature back one day. Even if the Ravens don’t approach last season’s ridiculous total of 3,296 yards—206 yards per game — there’s no reason to believe they won’t be the best running team in the league again.

Big offensive subtractions? You could say Hayden Hurst, the former first-rounder traded to Atlanta, but he caught 43 balls in two seasons and had no room to grow here. You can certainly say Marshal Yanda, now retired and at least 60 pounds lighter.

On defense, the Ravens picked up five-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell in a trade with Jacksonville. Campbell, a borderline Hall of Famer at defensive end, turned 34 last week. After two big sack seasons in 2017 and 2018, he leveled off a year ago.

Campbell, along with newcomer Derek Wolfe, will bookend Brandon Williams in a new-look Baltimore defensive front, along with a healthy Pernell McPhee. Last year, quite a few teams, including the Browns, showed they could run the ball consistently well against the Ravens.

Meanwhile, first rounder Patrick Queen is listed as the starter at middle linebacker; I’d say the improvement of backups like Tyus Bowser and Otaro Alaka could be the most important factor for the linebacker group. Behind them, the Ravens’ secondary is awesome in pass coverage if not in tackling, and it’s even better without Earl Thomas.

And let’s not forget the Wolf Pack, back for what seems like its 20th year kicking and punting and snapping and holding.

All of which is to say — I’m not sure there’s been a Ravens’ team since 1996 with higher expectations—and those expectations are completely understandable. In a league of “playmakers,” the Ravens have legitimate ones at every position.

What’s the best way to approach that? I don’t know yet. My excitement is muted, my anticipation is tempered. The NFL is back, but the world isn’t. The Ravens are among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but it’s never been weirder to look ahead six months than it is right now. The team is loaded with talent, but that’s not as fun for us right now as it sounds.

So bring on the season. I suppose, like the coaches cliché you hear hundreds of time a year, we’re going to have to take all this one play at a time.

SAFFER banner


Wednesday
September 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2207



will nfl's gamble pay off?


The 2020 NFL season kicks off tomorrow night when the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. Here in Baltimore, 2020 commences on Sunday when the Browns come to town.

Around the league and here in Charm City, things are going to look different for the next four months. And most of that "different" will be by design.

What's unknown, at this point, is whether that "different" will eventually be beneficial for the owners, the franchises and the league itself, or whether it could be harmful.

Let's not act like we don't know what I'm talking about here.

Is Baltimore ready for a weekly social justice message from its beloved football team?

The NFL, like most other sports, is diving head first into the political arena in 2020, complete with a total buy-in on the social justice angle that has consumed most of the country over the last four months. The league is going to look and feel like something you haven't seen before. The question, of course, is whether you're going to stick with it or move on and do something else with your Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays.

I'm not here to prod you into doing anything at all.

I'm not here to tell you how you should feel about it, either.

And I'm not here to tell you what I think in the hope that you do as I suggest.

I've said this before about musicians, actors, etc. You know, those folks who seem hell bent on telling us what they think about a certain political subject or topic. I feel like yelling this to them every time they do it: "WE DON'T CARE!"

Actually, the reality is we do care as long as their ideas or philosophies align with ours. We definitely care then. But we wind up not caring if they oppose our views. In the end, though, we really shouldn't care at all about someone else's political opinion. We should follow our own heart on those matters, period.

So, with that said, the NFL is most certainly going to step forward in 2020 with an aggressive social justice/equality campaign, designed to let everyone who is watching know which side of the political spectrum the league is on. There will be protests, kneelings, slogans, names written on helmets, shoes, and so on. It's going to be a free-for-all, basically. The league is going out of its way to give the players liberties they most certainly wouldn't have given them 15, 10 or, even, 5 years ago.

And it will be up to the fans of the league to decide if they like that sort of posturing mixed in with their football...or not. There will only be two ways to tell if people stay or people go. Number of folks in the seats at the stadiums. And number of folks watching the games on television. Those are the only two metrics anyone can use to determine if the "different" 2020 season was a success or a bust.

Fortunately for the league, the "fans in seats" review might not happen at all in 2020. Most teams aren't allowing any fans in for a couple of months and the few that are opening their gates will be permitting anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people in the stadium to watch the game(s).

TV ratings will be crucial to the league's success and, to their claim that the American public is in lockstep with them on social justice and equality issues. If more people watch then ever before, it was a worthwhile gamble. If fewer people watch, maybe it wasn't.

Of course, the league can always claim they don't care about losing fans because others -- they assume -- will be sliding right into those empty seats that the disgruntled group leaves behind. And there could certainly be some truth to that. Or not.

Baltimore was in an uproar back in 2017 when the Ravens took a knee in London. There's no use in going back over those details, other than to say the organization was shocked at the reaction from the fan base and saw scores of empty seats for the remainder of the '17 campaign. Sure, the team wasn't all that good that year, but anyone denying that empty seats were connected to London is just fibbing for the sake of fibbing. People stopped going. Suites were empty. It was a graphically obvious response from 20-25% of the team's stadium fan base.

But times have changed. Three years later, our country is, in fact, different. Our collective conscience seems to be a little more steady these days. We're more concerned about humanity. We aren't perfect, yet, not by a longshot, but over the last three years the country has taken on a decidely different approach when it comes to "liberty and justice, for all."

That doesn't mean, though, that everyone is willing to have social equality become part of their gameday NFL experience. Some might be ready for that, others might not be ready. The league, though, is bringing it on, whether you're ready or not.

And the only question that will remain is this: Was it the right move for the success of the league?

The next four months will give us that answer.

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our 2020 nfl predictions


If ever there was a NFL season that's tough to predict, it's this one. No one knows at all how Covid-19 is going to impact the league in the season and no one knows if empty stadiums are going to hurt certain teams, help certain teams, and so on.

But that won't stop us from making our predictions here at the Dish.

Let's get to it, shall we?

Does Drew Brees have a Super Bowl left in him or has the Saints run ended?

NFC East -- This division appears to belong to Dallas unless something crazy happens. We have the Cowboys finishing at 11-5. The Eagles will finish 9-7, the New York football Giants will finish 7-9 and the Washington Football Team (so dumb...come up with a name already you goofs) will pick up the rear at 5-11.

NFC South -- Oh boy, this division could be a doozy. We're going to do something dumb here and buy gobs of stock in Tom Brady and Tampa Bay. We have the Bucs finishing at 12-4. Next up will be New Orleans at 11-5. Atlanta cobbles together a decent campaign at 9-7 and Carolina stumbles and bumbles their way to a dreary 5-11 season.

NFC West -- Can anyone beat the 49'ers? We're not sure. San Francisco starts slow and then rolls down the stretch to a 12-4 mark. The surprising Arizona Cardinals are next at 10-6, while Seattle takes a step back to 8-8. The bottom feeding L.A. Rams have still not recovered from that 2019 Super Bowl stinker...and they finish 7-9.

NFC North -- It feels like Minnesota without Stefon Diggs can't be as good as Minnesota with Stefon Diggs, but we're going to stick with the Vikings in 2020 and have them finish tied with Green Bay at 10-6. The Packers will lose the division on a tie-breaker but will still make the post-season. Chicago comes in at 9-7 and Detroit, again, finishes last at 6-10.


Can a healthy Ben Roethlisberger help the Steelers make a playoff push in 2020?

AFC East -- As Steve Perry and Journey once said, "The party's over" -- in New England. Quarterback gone...winning gone. Buffalo wins the division easily at 11-5, with the Patriots dropping back to 8-8, tied with the Dolphins, who start the season at 7-3 before faltering down the stretch. To no one's surprise, the Jets are lousy, finishing 5-11.

AFC South -- No one's beating Tennessee, right? I mean, without DeAndre Hopkins, Houston can't possibly win the division. And the other two teams aren't any good, either. We'll go with the Titans to win the division at 10-6, followed by the Texans at 8-8. Indianapolis will be OK for a while before they get a visit from the cleat of reality -- the Colts end the year at 7-9. And poor Jacksonville locks up next year's #1 pick at 3-13 in 2020.

AFC West -- Hmmmmm...who wins this division, I wonder? The Chiefs experience a bit of the Super Bowl hangover before rolling to the division title at 12-4. In their first year in Las Vegas, the Raiders are decent enough for a playoff berth at 9-7, while the L.A. Chargers are 6-10 and the Denver Broncos are a not-so-good 5-11.

AFC North -- The only thing stopping the Ravens? The Ravens. An injury to Lamar, obviously, would be catastrophic. Other than that, Baltimore can overcome just about anything else. It won't be a 14-2 campaign like it was in 2019, but John Harbaugh's team still cruises to their 3rd straight division title at 12-4. Yes, the Browns will be somewhat for real in 2020, finishing at 10-6, good enough for a spot in the AFC playoffs. Pittsburgh falls in next at 9-7 and they, too, make the post-season, while the Bengals aren't as awful as some might think, but they go 6-10 in the first year of Joe Burrow.


NFC Championship Game -- Tampa Bay beats Arizona, 23-13.

AFC Championship Game -- Kansas City beats Baltimore, 23-20 in OT.

Super Bowl -- Kansas City beats Tampa Bay, 30-20.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

join #dmd's 2020 nfl pick 'em contest!


We're excited to partner with our friends at Glory Days Grill for this year's edition of our NFL pick 'em contest. The top five finishers in our 12-week contest will all be grand prize winners.

Here's how the contest works. You must pick a team to win once per week during the 12-week contest. You'll be submitting ONLY 12 team names and games. But there are three rules.

You must pick the Ravens twice in 12 weeks but you can only pick road games for the Ravens.

You can only pick a team once during the 12 weeks (except for the Ravens, of course).

Including the Ravens, you must select a minimum of four road teams, so your entry must contain at least two Ravens road picks and two other road picks.

Your entry can include all road games if you prefer.

Scoring details -- Scoring has changed from previous years, so please understand how we score the 2020 contest.

Correct home team selections are worth 2 points and away team selections are worth 4 points.

However, incorrect selections are now penalized 1 point and an incorrect Ravens selection is penalized 2 points.

The way you enter the contest is important as it greatly helps us keep score.

Below is a sample entry form. Please follow this format as closely as you can when entering.

---------------

Your name: Dave Matthews

Week 1: San Francisco

Week 2: Pittsburgh

Week 3: Tampa Bay (road #1)

Week 4: Ravens (road #2)

Week 5: Houston

Week 6: Chicago (road #3)

Week 7: Atlanta

Week 8: Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: Ravens (road #4)

Week 10: Miami

Week 11: Denver

Week 12: Dallas

Please email your entry form to: dmdscore@gmail.com

Only one entry per-person. Anyone submitting multiple entries will be disqualifed like Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

If there's a tie for 5th (or better), we will have a one-week playoff in week 13 to determine the winner(s).

Good luck!!!

GloryDays banner ad

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.


Are you ready for some football?

No, seriously, are you ready?

It’s back, even without preseason games, even without joint training camp practices, even without fans being allowed into stadiums in most of the country. It’s been the strangest buildup to a season in NFL history, but it’s back, ready or not.

Here in Baltimore, there are high hopes for the Ravens to continue to build on the success of last year’s 14-2 regular season. Reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson will again lead one of the most prolific offenses in the league, the defense has been fortified and altered through the draft and free agency, and, just in case you forgot, the greatest kicker in NFL history is always there in the clutch.

It's a season full of promise and hope. It’s a season that all Ravens fans hope culminates in the ultimate glory in Tampa Bay on February 7, 2021. Being as impartial as possible, they have as good a chance as any team to raise the Lombardi Trophy.

It also marks the 25th season of Baltimore Ravens football. The silver anniversary season kicks off at 1 p.m. this Sunday when the Ravens host the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.

Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me that this is 25 years until I stopped in my local branch of the corporate stadium naming sponsor last week. There were Ravens XXV Season magnets on the counter, so naturally, I grabbed a few. As I looked at that logo, my mind wandered back through the last 24 years of Ravens football.

Mostly, though, I thought back to the very beginning.

Come with me and let’s journey back to September 1, 1996.

Memorial Stadium was home to the Ravens for the '96 and '97 seasons, giving Baltimore a chance to relive some 33rd Street memories before the team moved to its downtown home in 1998.

It was a sunny and pleasant Sunday afternoon, with temperatures in the low 70’s and a late summer breeze blowing lightly. There were blue skies and no threat of rain. Conditions were ideal for the return of NFL football in Baltimore.

We parked in a lot near Lake Montibello and started making our way towards Memorial Stadium. Some friends were having a tailgate on Tivoly Way, a few blocks north of the stadium, so we stopped by there for some food and conversation. Everyone was in a festive mood, and why not? It had been 13 years since Baltimore had a football team to call its own.

The journey of those 13 years had been long and winding and tortuous at times for lifelong Baltimore football fans. The last Baltimore Colts home game was played on December 18, 1983. Since that infamous March night in 1984 when the franchise abandoned Baltimore, the city’s leaders and the Maryland Stadium Authority had unsuccessfully tried to bring an NFL franchise back to town.

There was a brief flirtation with Bill Bidwill in 1988 to attempt to lure the then St. Louis Cardinals to move to Charm City. The failed (some would say entirely rigged) expansion the league staged in 1993 left us without a team, or even a new museum, as then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested we build, instead of a new football stadium. I mean, the league chose Jacksonville over Baltimore? Jacksonville?

As a brief aside here, when it comes to teams I openly despise, the Jacksonville Jaguars are at the top of my list. Like every good native-born Baltimorean, I have no use for the Washington football team. I never did, even before Jack Kent Cooke did everything in his power to discourage any attempts to get a franchise back. The Pittsburgh Steelers were always on my list, because they always beat the Colts in the playoffs in the 1970’s. And as much as I liked their uniforms, the Miami Dolphins were the bullies of the old AFC East when I was coming of age as a football fan.

But for the NFL to place an expansion franchise in Jacksonville, Florida was an absolute slap in the face to the history and tradition of the city of Baltimore. The day that selection was announced, I vowed to hate them with the white-hot fire of a thousand suns. I’m happy to report that I have held firm on that vow to this day. The moment the NFL made their choice, it also became clear that the only way a new franchise would come to Baltimore would be by moving. All other options had been exhausted.

The fact that another storied NFL franchise, the Cleveland Browns, had been the one to move to Baltimore only heightened the national frenzy surrounding that opening day in 1996. Sportscasters and writers around the country vilified the team owner, Art Modell. NBC’s Bob Costas called the move “one of the outrages of the century in sports.” Former players and league executives excoriated Modell and Baltimore. Lifelong fans of the Browns cursed him and burned effigies of him in Cleveland.

One can only wonder what the reaction would have been like had social media existed in 1995.

Personally, I shrugged it all off. I had become jaded about the realities of professional sports after the Colts left Baltimore. I knew that loyalty was primarily a one way street. The bonds that fans felt towards their hometown teams could be shattered in an instant by owners who only cared about profits. Wins and losses were secondary to their bottom line. My cynicism was fully developed in March 1984.

None of that mattered in the least to me as we made our way to Section 9 in the upper deck that day. NFL football was back in Baltimore, I was back in Memorial Stadium, the sun was shining and the world was back on its proper axis. Spending time with my father at a football game again brought warmth to my heart and a smile to my face.

The future had arrived, and the future in Baltimore would now always include the Ravens.

As we settled into our seats, I gazed around the stadium with a mixture of wonder and appreciation. It was almost surreal to be back at Memorial Stadium watching the NFL. Going there was like visiting your grandparent’s house. There may have been signs of deterioration and aging, the paint may have been peeling in places, and any changes and upgrades may have been entirely for cosmetic purposes, but it was home. It was filled with memories of years and seasons long past, of people no longer around, of games and players long forgotten, but it warmed you and reminded you that once, you were young too.

I distinctly recall seeing lots of old blue and white #19 jerseys that day. There were the usual lunatics who followed the Oakland Raiders around, giving the day a feeling of an early preview of Halloween. And there were thousands of fans wearing some combination of our new hometown colors, purple and black. The team’s new logo, a shield with a “B” in the center and a pair of wings coming off the sides, was prominently featured.

Can we pause here for a moment to discuss those first uniforms of the Ravens? In a word, they were dreadful. Listen, nobody will ever confuse me with Ralph Lauren. I admittedly have never had much sense of style or fashion. Getting me to properly match a pair of socks can sometimes be a real challenge. So I fully recognize I’m no authority here. But those unis…sheesh.

Black pants with a too wide white stripe on the sides. Awful. The font on the purple jerseys was some kind of cross between medieval and science fiction. The screaming Raven logo was almost nightmare fuel. And the actual logo on the helmet seemed to me to be a forced attempt to combine the old Colts horseshoe with a pair of wings. They were ugly in a way that almost seemed to redefine the word.

But they were our ugly. And I didn’t really care if they came out in pink pajamas; they were our team and I embraced them from the beginning. 13 years without the NFL, remember?

The pregame ceremonies were a tribute to the city’s football heritage and the future that lay ahead with the Ravens. The Baltimore Colts Marching Band came out and performed, capping it off with a rousing rendition of the Colts fight song. That moment provided some chills and watery eyes.

The band formed two lines, the cheerleaders lined up, and then many of the old Baltimore Colts were introduced. These fabled players, beloved by their city, went to midfield and gathered, waiting to welcome the new generation of Baltimore football players. I can still remember the roar and feel the goosebumps when the greatest quarterback ever, Johnny Unitas, was introduced. It was a moment that married Baltimore’s football legacy to its future.

Our new team arrived to great fanfare, led by their Head Coach, Ted Marchibroda. He had been hired by Modell following the franchise’s exit from Cleveland. It was an obvious nod to the last successful run the Colts had in Baltimore in the mid-1970’s, when Marchibroda guided them to three consecutive division titles. Hardly anyone discussed the firing of the Browns’ former Head Coach, a gentleman named Bill Belichick. After five years and just one playoff appearance, a Divisional Round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1994 season, Belichick had only been able to compile an overall record of 36-44. Clearly, his coaching future would be as a defensive coordinator, where he had always found greater success.

After all the ceremonies and the pageantry, after almost a year of national discussion and attention, after 13 long years in the wilderness without NFL Sundays in Baltimore, the Raiders teed the ball up. Cole Ford kicked off, and Jermaine Lewis fielded the kickoff and returned the ball 19 yards to the Ravens 25 yard line. The conversations could finally stop; football was back in Baltimore. Now, only the game mattered.

It was a rather ragged affair as I recall. Both teams weren’t exactly powerhouses. When the starting quarterbacks are Vinny Testaverde and Billy Joe Herbert, expectations are properly held in check.

Mediocrity is praised in games like that. And the offenses failed to deliver, as the Raiders punted seven times and the Ravens six.

Still, everyone in the announced crowd of 64,124 watched and cheered and waited, anticipating history.

That history arrived with 39 seconds left in the 1st Quarter when Testaverde scrambled 9 yards and dove into the endzone for the first touchdown of the game, and the first in Baltimore Ravens history. I can still see him weaving up the middle, escaping the pass rush and lunging forward around the 2 yard line. There was an eruption of noise that was reminiscent of the mid-1970’s. The band struck up the Colts fight song and the crowd shouted along in unbridled joy.

The Ravens actually trailed, 14-7, at halftime. But two Matt Stover Field goals trimmed the Raiders lead to one point, and in the 4th Quarter, the Ravens drove 83 yards in 8 plays, capped off by a 1 yard plunge for a touchdown by Earnest Byner. The 2 point conversion attempt failed, but the defense would hold Hobert and the Raiders off the rest of the way.

By virtue of a 19-14 victory, the Baltimore Ravens were 1-0. Football was back in Baltimore.

Looking at the boxscore from that day is a reminder of how far the Ravens have come as a franchise over the past 24 seasons of football. There are names on there that are long forgotten, players who had solid careers, and some Hall of Famers. The Ravens first two 1st round draft picks both suited up and played the whole game. Jonathan Ogden started at left guard. He’s enshrined in Canton as one of the greatest left tackles of any generation. Ray Lewis played middle linebacker and recorded an interception.

The Ravens other pickoff that day came from cornerback Antonio Langham. Michael Jackson and Brian Kinchen led the team in receptions in the game. Stevon Moore was a playmaking safety who led the team in tackles. The backup running back was Bam Morris. The backup quarterback was Eric Zeier.

Lamar Jackson wouldn’t be born for another 15 months.

A quarter of a century is a long time that can still seem to pass in the blink of an eye. It’s doubtful that anyone in attendance on that pretty September Sunday in Baltimore could have imagined that, by now, the franchise would be a two-time Super Bowl Champion.

Over the last 24 seasons, the Baltimore Ravens have had just three Head Coaches. They have compiled a record of 214 wins, 169 losses and 1 tie. They have a postseason record of 15-10. They are rightfully regarded as one of the most stable and well-run franchises in the National Football League. They have the single most electrifying player in the league. They have three Hall of Fame players. They also have, thankfully, some seriously cool uniforms and a logo to match.

It seems rather fitting that Cleveland will be in Baltimore this Sunday to begin this 25th season. It’s a shame I won’t be able to be there.

But hey, there’s always next year, right?




#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Tuesday
September 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2206



and so it begins


I don't know about you, but the Tuesday after Labor Day was always kind of a special day.

It marked the occasion when the fun was kind of over and things got serious once again. Summer, while not officially over calendar-wise, is in the rear view mirror. Fall will be here soon enough. That's what the day after Labor Day always did for me, anyway.

In these parts, September means football season. Heck, in this September, it even means a potential baseball playoff race, that is, if the Orioles can keep winning games and continue to chug towards that 30-win mark that could land them in the 2020 post-season. But for the most part, here in Baltimore, we all equate September with football.

We have a lot of things going on this week as we "get serious" and put summer behind us.

Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson has yet to win a playoff game in two tries, but all signs point to that changing in 2020-2021.

You'll see below we're launching a NFL Pick 'Em contest, but we're doing something a little unique this year. We're going to make this year's contest a 12-week version so that the top five winners can join me and a special guest at Glory Days Grill in early December for a pre-holiday gathering of dinner and drinks. Scoring and details are a bit different than in the past, so be sure and read through the directions and get your contest entry into us by this Sunday, September 13 at 10:00 am.

Also this week, we'll be publishing a major #DMD reader's survey that we would ask all of you to complete. It should only take 3-5 minutes of your time to complete but the information we receive will help us in a number of ways. From everyone who completes the survey, we'll draw two names at random and you'll be invited to our holiday gathering at Glory Days Grill that I referenced above.

As we "get serious" around here, you'll start noticing some new things about the website. Some new corporate partners are joining us, and we hope you give them a warm welcome and patronize their business if the opportunity presents itself. We're looking forward to the continued insights from David Rosenfeld and Mark Suchy throughout the football season as well, plus Randy Morgan starts getting us all prepared for the U.S. 2022 World Cup qualifying efforts, which begin in earnest next summer.

I know this NFL season feels weird, at least at the outset. Watching the Ravens and Browns this Sunday in Baltimore with no one in the stands is going to be very odd indeed. While I'm sure the Ravens are going to create a remarkable game day presentation, even without anyone there on the property to actually enjoy it, there's going to be an empty stadium on Sunday at 1:00 pm.

I have no idea how many people have actually been to every single Ravens home game since the team first kicked off here in 1996, but I'm sure there are a handful of people who can make that claim. I'm sure it will seem really odd to them to be watching a home game from their living room on Sunday.

And with certain Covid-19 restrictions still in place, I'm guessing most area bars and restaurants that would normally be packed for Sunday football viewing will be experiencing lower crowds, at least in the early part of the schedule.

What I'm most anxious about, personally, is to see how the quality of play in the NFL is impacted, if at all, by the lack of fans in the seats. Having now watched golf, baseball, hockey and basketball compete without fans on site, it's my belief the standard of play has been as good if not better than when people were there watching them perform. I know 100% that's the case in golf. The level of golf that's been played without fans has definitely surpassed what we might have seen with 40,000 people milling around and watching the action unfold in front of them. I believe the same to be true for the others as well.

I don't know about football, though. I think the crowd has a major impact on the game, unless you're playing in Miami or Jacksonville or Cincinnati. Then, it probably doesn't matter at all. But some teams -- like the Ravens, if we're being honest -- that have thrived over the years with intimidating home crowds might not have that luxury at all in 2020. All the sudden, going into Kansas City, Green Bay, Foxborough or Baltimore might not be as imposing as it was in previous years. Let's see how it all plays out in the coming weeks.

We'll be tackling our 2020 NFL predictions here tomorrow at #DMD. I'm glad David reminded us in his column yesterday that 7 teams now make the playoffs in each conference. That one might have slipped my mind tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging around with us over the summer. It was, for all of us, a strange but interesting few months. As our nation hopefully creeps back in the direction of "normal" again, we can only hope sports follows suit and things settle down both on the professional and college level.

One thing for sure: We'll be here with opinions on all of it.

Thanks for stopping by today. It's time to get serious.




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join #dmd's 2020 nfl pick 'em contest!


We're excited to partner with our friends at Glory Days Grill for this year's edition of our NFL pick 'em contest. The top five finishers in our 12-week contest will all be grand prize winners.

Here's how the contest works. You must pick a team to win once per week during the 12-week contest. You'll be submitting ONLY 12 team names and games. But there are three rules.

You must pick the Ravens twice in 12 weeks but you can only pick road games for the Ravens.

You can only pick a team once during the 12 weeks (except for the Ravens, of course).

Including the Ravens, you must select a minimum of four road teams, so your entry must contain at least two Ravens road picks and two other road picks.

Your entry can include all road games if you prefer.

Scoring details -- Scoring has changed from previous years, so please understand how we score the 2020 contest.

Correct home team selections are worth 2 points and away team selections are worth 4 points.

However, incorrect selections are now penalized 1 point and an incorrect Ravens selection is penalized 2 points.

The way you enter the contest is important as it greatly helps us keep score.

Below is a sample entry form. Please follow this format as closely as you can when entering.

---------------

Your name: Dave Matthews

Week 1: San Francisco

Week 2: Pittsburgh

Week 3: Tampa Bay (road #1)

Week 4: Ravens (road #2)

Week 5: Houston

Week 6: Chicago (road #3)

Week 7: Atlanta

Week 8: Los Angeles Chargers

Week 9: Ravens (road #4)

Week 10: Miami

Week 11: Denver

Week 12: Dallas

Please email your entry form to: dmdscore@gmail.com

Only one entry per-person. Anyone submitting multiple entries will be disqualifed like Djokovic in the U.S. Open.

If there's a tie for 5th (or better), we will have a one-week playoff in week 13 to determine the winner(s).

Good luck!!!

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americans in mls


European soccer is on an international break this week for UEFA Nations League games before the top leagues start their new seasons in the coming weeks. That break, along with a full slate of MLS games this week, provides an opportunity to look at the domestic league and cover a few of the standout US Men’s National team eligible players from the early MLS season.

With multiple competitions coming up in 2021 for the US, the depth of the talent pool will be tested. This will give many fringe players the opportunity to prove themselves on the international stage.

Jordan Morris (white jersey) has seen spot duty with the U.S. National team in recent years but figures to earn more playing time based on outstanding playing in MLS.

The top American performer in the MLS this season has been Jordan Morris. Morris has scored four goals in six games thus far and has been a dominant attacking threat for the Seattle Sounders. He has mostly been deployed as an inverted left winger, similar to where Christian Pulisic plays for Chelsea. This means Morris will have to play a slightly different role for the national team, but he is likely to either be the starting right wing or the first player off the bench for the first choice squad.

The next player is another attacker, 19 year old Brenden Aaronson of the Philadelphia Union. Aaronson has become the focal point of the team’s offense in just his second season. Playing mostly as a central attacking midfielder, he has shown a knack for creating chances for teammates as well as scoring goals. His shining performances in the MLS is Back tournament garnered attention from European scouts and rumors of a move to the German Bundesliga in his future. Aaronson has a chance to earn a spot as a backup on the first choice US squad, but could also be used as a starter on the under 23 year old Olympic lineup.

Another 19 year old standout has been LA Galaxy right back, Julian Araujo. Araujo is generally a right back but he has been played at right wing and right midfield as well, in order to consistently get him on the field. He is a physical and athletic presence with good attacking skills for a defender. His only issue is that right back is one of the deepest positions in the US pool. For now he is a potential starter for the Olympic team.

Portland Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson has been a pleasant surprise early in this MLS season. The former Maryland Terp was a key cog in the Timbers midfield through their championship run in the MLS is Back tournament. A bit of a late bloomer, the 23 year old has come into his own this season. As a box to box central midfielder he provides a similar skill set to Weston McKennie, with aggressive and physical defending combined with the ability to progress the ball through midfield. If Williamson continues to perform he could get an opportunity to start on the “B” team US roster for the Gold Cup next summer.

Lastly is Sporting Kansas City’s Gianluca Busio. The 18 year old played as an attacking midfielder last season with limited success. However, after several games this season, his coach moved him into a holding midfield role. It has been a small sample size, but the move seems to suit him well. His passing ability and skill on the ball allow him to control the tempo of the game and efficiently distribute the ball to attacking players from the holding role. Busio’s lack of defensive experience could make him a liability in this role, but thus far he has improved in that area with each game he has played. Currently, Busio is an option for a backup role on the Olympic squad or a starting role on the Under 20 team. However, with the lack of depth for the US at the holding midfield role, if he continues to excel in this new position he could start knocking on the door of the first choice team.

A few other players worthy of a mention for their stellar play early in this season are: Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Darlington Nagbe (Columbus Crew), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew), Hasani Dotson (Minnesota United), and Chris Mueller (Orlando City).

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

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Monday
September 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2205



we should be better than this...


Sometimes I'm amazed that we, the human race, have made the strides we've made over the last few centuries.

That's not to say that we haven't done some impressive stuff. Cars, planes, men on the moon, medical science solving many of the world's most puzzling diseases, the internet. Those are just a few things we've done along the way that can't be overlooked.

Then, along comes a moment where you scratch your head and say, "Are we really still this dumb?"

Maybe it's just sports that loosens our senses and makes us say and do those head-scratching things. Sports are largely built on emotion and occasionally those emotions get the best of people. It's true: sports brings out the best and worst in folks, occasionally even within minutes of one another.

Every sport has a quirky rule or two. I always thought it was silly in baseball that a guy could swing at strike three and yet still not be "out" if the ball happens to get past the catcher. The pitcher gets credit for a strikeout and all -- so, essentially, the batter was, in fact, "out" -- but an out isn't recorded if the batter can get to first base before the ball arrives. I always thought that was dumb.

Golf definitely has a dumb rule or two. The out-of-bounds rule (which was modified in 2019 but still mostly unused by clubs everywhere) is completely insane. You can hit a ball smack on the middle of the club face that goes out of bounds by one inch and you're penalized more than if you swing at the ball on the tee and completely miss it. In one instance, you could have hit the ball 300 yards but be out of bounds by one inch...in the other instance, you swing and miss...and in the first scenario, you're penalized two shots, and in the second scenario, you simply count the whiff and hit your second shot from the tee.

Talk about a dumb rule...

Novak Djokovic shows concern for the line judge he hit with a tennis ball during Sunday's U.S. Open match, where he was ejected and eliminated from the tournament.

Anyway, your sport of choice no doubt has a dumb rule or two. If you're a baseball and/or tennis fan, you saw two of them front and center on Sunday.

We'll start with the worst offender first. It came at the U.S. Open yesterday, where the best player in the world was ejected from his match, and therefore, the tournament, because he hit a line judge with a tennis ball...accidentally.

Novak Djokovic had just lost the 11th game of the first set to go 6-5 to Pablo Carreno Busta when, with his back turned to the judge, he rifled a ball in anger at the back wall. This is probably something Djokovic has done, oh, roughly 1,000 times in his career. Except this time, instead of bounding off the perimeter wall, it struck the female line judge in the throat. She went down like Tyson against Buster Douglas and Djokovic immediately attended to her and showed his obvious concern for the incident.

15 minutes later, Djokovic was ejected from the match for "intentionally hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences."

OK, so that's the written rule. Read that way, the U.S. Tennis Association had every right to kick Djokovic out of the match. I mean, you can pick at the phrasing of the rule all you want and twist it to work for or against you, but that rule certainly covered the incident on Sunday in Flushing Meadows.

But the rule is dumb. Really dumb. What if, let's say, the ball would have hit her in the foot? What if it misses her head by five inches and pounds off the wall behind her? Would Djokovic face the same rules interpretation in those two situations? I mean, if the ball doesn't hit her, wasn't it, in fact, still "struck dangerously or recklessly within the court"? I think we all know the answer: He would not have been ejected if the ball would have missed her or, even, nicked her foot or ankle.

So the rule is, therefore, written wrong. Or the interpretation of it needs to be relaxed to allow for obvious moments of emotion, not intent.

I don't really feel like doing the USTA's work for them, but the rule could easily be re-written to include language like "in the committee's opinion" or something like that. In that circumstance, cooler heads could prevail if something like Sunday's event happens again and you eject the best player in the world because of something as meaningless as a ball hitting a line judge accidentally.

Baseball has an asterisk on their 2020 thing* and now tennis has an asterisk on the 2020 U.S. Open*.

Have no fear, though. I already have the new tennis marketing slogan for 2021: Make tennis rules great again

No good? I'll show myself out.

But wait, something potentially even more asinine happened on Sunday in Atlanta.

The general manager of the Washington Nationals, Mike Rizzo, was ejected from the game by umpire Joe West.

Mike Rizzo of the Nationals, in the suite level of the Atlanta stadium, moments before he was ejected by umpire Joe West.

No, he wasn't in the dugout or even in the front row of the seats.

Rizzo was in a suite on the club level of Atlanta's baseball stadium, barking at the umpires for, in his mind, missed calls.

Joe West and his crew said it started on Friday night and they immediately alerted Major League Baseball, promising to eject Rizzo if it continued over the weekend.

Yesterday, West made good on his threat in the 7th inning and ejected Rizzo, telling stadium security to remove him from the suite.

Talk about rabbit ears, huh?

I'm sure you're wondering what Rizzo could have possibly said to earn that sort of attention from West and his crew. A couple of f-bombs, perhaps? Maybe an insensitive remark about West's weight or even a quip about his sister or mom, maybe?

Hang tight for this one, friends. It's a doozy.

"He was yelling 'you're brutal' and other things," West told the Associated Press after the game.

I know it must be tough to do your job when someone is yelling "you're brutal" from 100 yards away. Give me a break, Joe, you rat fink.

I've said this before and see no reason to discontinue saying it now. Baseball umpires are the most sensitive, pampered, soft "group" in the world of sports. Maybe even in the world, period. They can't take an ounce of criticism or back-and-forth without getting their dander up.

Last week, Trevor Bauer of the Reds was given a stern warning by an umpire for -- please sit down for this one -- "glaring".

Bauer thought a pitch or two had been missed by the home plate blue, so he "glared" in at him. The third time -- after a warning, apparently -- the umpire called time and warned Bauer he'd be ejected if he continued "glaring".

I mean, are these umpires 11 years old or something? Has anyone been more entitled than that group of people? It's an outrage, if you care enough about baseball to be outraged, that is.

Look, should Mike Rizzo be up in the suite barking at the umpires like a dad at a kid's little league game? Probably not. And it's one thing if Rizzo says something really bad or makes a personally disparaging remark.

But, like the tennis rule we noted above, at some point, smart people have to take over and understand that "you're brutal" isn't the same thing as an f-bomb laden tirade or a comment about the umpire's sister. If you're an umpire and you can't take some goof yelling "you're brutal" or "you stink" or "get some eyeglasses that work", you need to look for another job.

I don't give baseball much hope of changing their rules. Umpires have long been entitled and afraid to take any criticism. It's been that way forever. And it's going to stay that way.

"Make umpires great again". No good? Shucks.

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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.


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Anecdotal…but the same old story. Got paired with a father and son this past weekend, somewhere around 65 and 35 years of age respectively. Local people, both graduates of Loyola University.

Around the seventh hole, conversation turned to the Ravens. The duo had season tickets for 17 years, I was told, but gave them up a couple years back. Young kids/grandkids, other new responsibilities, etc. Maybe even some of that politics/social justice stuff, though I can’t be sure. Not something I bring up to strangers, let alone my family and friends.

Then the conversation turned to the Ravens’ next game, as in their first game of the 2020 season, six days from now against the Cleveland Browns. “If it’s anything like today,” the son said, meaning sunny, pleasant and September-ish, “I really don’t think I’m going to watch. Maybe when it gets colder I’ll sit down in front of the TV.”

As I walked toward my ball, I thought about what we might have been talking about a few years ago on the weekend before the Ravens’ first game. Not in any kind of specifics, since the players change all the time, but in generalities. What do we think about the rookies? Will the team be able to replace a player who left in free agency? Can such-and-such unit on the team improve from last year?

We’d be asking questions about Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati. We’d be wondering whether the schedule of NFC teams was easy or hard. This year, in early October, we’d be awaiting the quadrennial stories about why the Ravens and the Washington team don’t have a rivalry.

Right now, though, it’s come to this: are you even going to watch the game? At all. Is it going to take up any of your time, thoughts, or mood? That’s the conversation going on, not anything to do with, you know, football.

I think we all understand why that’s the case right now, even though we can fight about the importance of one reason compared to another. Even if we can appreciate that, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink. The Ravens have won 12 regular-season games in a row, have the returning NFL MVP and a roster that experts have a hard time figuring out how it won’t win at least 12 games. But the team’s next game, even to 17-year ticket holders, seems nothing but an afterthought.


The Ravens once again kept three quarterbacks on their initial 2020 roster after final cuts were made this weekend. Trace McSorley, the second-year man from Penn State, was no lock to make the roster.

It’s likely that, with the lack of offseason work and preseason games, the team felt more comfortable with someone who’d been on the roster all last season. All indications are that former Utah stud Tyler Huntley outplayed McSorley in training camp, and might have shown that more publicly in exhibition games. Huntley did sign with the team’s expanded practice squad after clearing waivers.

You’ll remember that the Ravens went eight years in a row with just two quarterbacks on the roster before that changed in 2018. Coach John Harbaugh has indicated that he isn’t necessarily a fan of keeping a third quarterback on the roster in lieu of an extra special teams player. There was some thought that McSorley could play a special teams or even defensive role as a rookie, but he was inactive every week until the meaningless finale against the Steelers.

I find the Ravens’ quarterback situation fascinating, because the Ravens’ starting quarterback is fascinating. Sure, no backup quarterback can replace Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger, assuming those guys are playing at a high level. But that goes even further when you’re talking about Lamar Jackson, who displayed a skill set unlike any seen in modern NFL history in 2019.

I think back to something CBS studio analyst Nate Burleson said last year at halftime of that meaningless game against Pittsburgh. He said that backup Robert Griffin III, despite his veteran status, looked almost scared trying to run the Ravens’ offense. Nobody has Jackson’s speed and star quality, but it didn’t look like anyone felt comfortable running his offense either.

That being said, there has to be a belief from the front office that Jackson is prone to injury more than any other NFL starting quarterback, despite his ability to avoid serious injury in the first twenty-some games of his career. In that way, the team needs to have an extra quarterback in a way that most teams don’t.

McSorley isn’t long for Baltimore, and it’s possible that Huntley could be the team’s backup in 2021. Or, it’s possible the Ravens have some more tricks up their sleeve when it comes to figuring out who plays second fiddle to Jackson.


In case you don’t remember, and it would be easy to forget because it was announced back in March, NFL owners agreed to a playoff expansion beginning with this season. Instead of 12 playoff teams, there will now be 14, one more in the AFC and one more in the NFC.

With seven playoff teams in each conference, two important things happen. One is that only the top seed in the conference (as the Ravens were last season) will earn a postseason bye, not the top two seeds in each conference. Two is that Wild Card Weekend now has six games instead of four—three on Saturday and three on Sunday—with the matchups being 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5 in each conference.

You could say that a third important thing is that getting the No. 1 seed will be even more important than it was before, so teams may play differently in the final weeks if they still have the chance at getting that single bye.

The 14 NFL playoff teams still means a lower percentage of playoff teams than the NHL or NBA, in which more than half the teams make the postseason in a typical season. In this shortened 2020 season, baseball will also surpass the 50 percent mark, but that seems like it’s just temporary.

The last time the NFL expanded the playoffs was 30 years ago, 1990, when the number of teams that made the postseason increased from 10 to 12. Interestingly, since that expansion, almost 75 percent of the teams who would have claimed a No. 7 seed in a 14-team format had winning records, including 10 teams who won 10 games.

In other words, having an extra team doesn’t mean a “bad” team will make the playoffs, at least not generally, unless a bad division-winning team makes it, and nothing can be done about that. Last year’s “No. 7” seeds in each conference? The 8-8 Steelers in the AFC and the 9-7 Rams in the NFC. At least one of those teams wasn’t bad, I guess.

I still believe that, no matter how many teams make the playoffs, the seeding should be done by overall record once the division winners and Wild Card teams are set. The Eagles hosted a playoff game last year even though both Wild Card teams, the Seahawks and Vikings, had better season records.

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Sunday
September 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2204



sunday e-mails


Dear Barry Trotz,

You, sir, are a genius!

Disappointment on the Flyers bench. A glorious sight indeed.

I realize you were treated harshly by the Capitals and, by extension, since I'm a Caps fan, perhaps you'll disregard this message. But please take it seriously.

I just wanted to thank you for doing God's work last night in Toronto by eliminating the Flyers in Game 7, 4-0. I was a smidge worried after your Islanders lost a 3-1 series lead and had to play the win-or-go-home game last night, but all's well that ends well.

I was one of those who was scratching my head when you went with your back-up goaltender for last night's big game. Hey, I mean it was Game 7 and all and I just thought...well...never mind what I thought. You're obviously smarter than me!

It was a complete thrashing last night. The scoreboard read "4-0" but in reality the final score should have been about 10-2. No use in crying over spilled milk, but, if we're being honest here, I would have preferred 10-2 over 4-0. But anyway...

Tell the boys the rest of the world appreciates what they did last night. As you know, anytime the Flyers lose, an angel gets her wings.

Good luck against the Lightning. But no matter what happens in that series, your work has been done.


Dear Alex Smith,

Heartfelt congratulations to you for making the Washington Football Team's 53-man roster!

When you broke your leg two years ago, I'm sure you didn't know what was ahead for you, football wise, and I certainly didn't, either. Like most folks, I assumed your career was done.

I'm thrilled to have assumed incorrectly.

Your recovery is a testament to what the human mind and body are capable of doing, even under the most intense and extreme circumstances. Whether you ever throw another NFL pass or not, the mere fact you're back on the field and available to play is a miracle. But it's a miracle you authored.

In an off-season littered with lots of controversial and hot-button topics, many of which are still creating tension in the league, it's indeed a breath of fresh air to have your wonderful story to focus on over the next few months.

It would be very difficult for me to root for the Redsk -- err, Washington Football Team, this season. You see, I'm a Ravens fan. But on any given Sunday that isn't October 4th, I hope you enjoy amazing success in 2020. You deserve good things to happen to you, Mr. Smith. I'm pulling for you.


Dear College Presidents,

There has to be a better way to do it.

All of this "sport-cutting" going on is just not right. I noticed a couple of days ago that William and Mary just slashed 7 sports from their athletic program, effective at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. A number of other schools have done the same thing over the summer.

Look, I don't know everyone's books and numbers and what your athletic budgets are, but, as an example, how about only scholarshipping 80 of 90 football players? That's $400,000 saved there, based on $40,000 tuition.

How about just one less basketball assistant? That's a savings of another $100,000 or more.

Maybe the basketball teams can't go to Hawaii next summer for their annual "off-season trip". Just a thought, but couldn't they bond and play basketball and have the same fun up on the Jersey shore as they can in Hawaii? All the while, you'd be saving another $100,000 or thereabouts.

If money is the problem at your school, let's take a long, hard look at those books and figure out how to keep all of your sports teams intact.

Yes, some folks might have to take less money. The baseball team might have to bus to Boston for a weekend series up there instead of flying. Maybe the sports psychologist "on call" at $300 per-hour can be put on hold for '20-21. Here's a thought: Maybe -- ahem -- the athletic director has to take a $50,000 paycut for the time being. Whatever steps you have to take to keep all of your sports alive, take them.

The student-athletes who play volleyball, run track and field, and ride horses to represent your school are worthy of your time and investment. They might not be as popular as the quarterback or the point guard or the goal-scorer, but they work just as hard as those folks...and get nearly no attention or spotlight for their efforts.

Figure out a way to keep your sports programs running. All of them. Thank you.


Dear Dustin Johnson,

I realize there's a lot of golf left at East Lake. But I want to get this request in now, before I forget about it.

If you're able to hang on and win the TOUR Championship and take home the $15 million first place check, you have to promise me something.

Before we get to that, let me just say that hitting 2 of 14 fairways yesterday and still shooting even par 70 was pretty impressive stuff. I realize you're not playing all that well in Atlanta. Guys like Xander Schauffele and Sungjae Im are breathing down your neck, now. Justin Thomas will be heard from by Monday. So, too, might Rory McIlroy. Those guys are playing well. You're kind of just hanging on, it appears to me.

But the odds of you hitting 2 of 14 fairways again on either Sunday or Monday are about, what, maybe 4.5%? You're a remarkable driver of the golf ball, as you know. Just get another 4 or 5 in the fairway on both days and turn half of those opportunities into birdies and you'll have $15 million coming your way.

Which reminds me, Dustin, of the very reason I reached out to you today.

If you do happen to win on Monday, please smile. You've won 22 times on TOUR and in just about every one of those wins, you look almost miserable when the final putt is holed. Smile...do a jig...throw your putter in the air...yell...scream. Do anything besides that silly, lifeless half-a-fist-pump you like to do when you've won a golf tournament.

Come on Dustin. Get your game in shape for these last 36 holes and finish off what has been another great season. And be happy, please. Smile for us.


Dear LeBron,

It was only one game and certainly not time to panic, but if you and the Lakers let the undersized Rockets beat you in this Western Conference Semi-Final, you're going to get raked over the coals.

You probably care a lot about comparisons to Michael Jordan. He was obviously the greatest player of his generation and you've been the best in your generation, thus far. No one would argue that. But if you're hoping to someday leap over Jordan for the title of "greatest NBA player ever", you can't go losing to James Harden, bubble or not.

I know you've said in the past that life as LeBron can be unfair at times because every move, every game and every moment is sliced open and examined by the media. I assume you realize Michael Jordan was also in the spotlight, right? True, there was no social media back then. No podcasts, no Twitter, no sports-devoted websites. In Jordan's day, he got reamed on ESPN. In LeBron's day, you get reamed by ESPN on Twitter, then on TV. I know...it can get a bit ugly.

Then again, LeBron, you signed up for this. And, well, you get paid pretty well for it, too, I seem to remember. Man up in this series and get the job done. The Rockets are gaining confidence with each passing quarter. If you let them feel their oats, there's no telling how good Houston might play.

I don't really care one way or the other who wins, but you sure do. And if your Lakers lose this series, you'll take the brunt of the criticism.

I'll end this by telling you the obvious: Michael wouldn't have lost this series.

Take care.

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Saturday
September 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2203



derby day? yes...derby day


You either forgot today was the Kentucky Derby or never realized it was in the first place.

Don't feel bad, 96.3% of the American sporting public has no idea the race is today. Well, actually, it's tonight, with post-time slated for 7:02 pm from Churchill Downs.

Maybe one of the reasons why you're not following along is because it's the first Saturday in September and not the first Saturday in May. There's a rumor about a virus or something that caused the race to be pushed back.

Can Tiz the Law make it 2-for-2 in 2020 Triple Crown races at the Kentucky Derby tonight?

One of the other reasons you're not following along is the race is largely uninteresting. Tiz the Law, who won the Belmont back in June, should win today's race in a romp. I mean, it's horse racing and all and since this isn't following the traditional format of Derby-Preakness-Belmont, who knows what might happen, but all things being equal, Tiz the Law wins today. Err, tonight.

A total of 19 horses were expected to run, but the field is now 16 after three of the potentials were scratched. #1 Finnick the Fierce wasn't so fierce after all. He's out. #6 King Guillermo was scratched mid-week due to a fever. Covid-19 jokes are not appropriate. Move along. And Art Collector was scratched before the post positions were drawn, so he's out as well.

Back to Tiz the Law and his chances.

Running in the #17 post-position isn't a great spot, but with only one horse (Authentic, #18) to his right, Tiz the Law won't feel much pressure out of the gate and should be able to settle in wherever jockey Manny Franco wants to put him. Speaking of Authentic, if Tiz the Law somehow doesn't win tod -- tonight, the Bob Baffert trained horse could be the one to upset him. John Velazquez rides Authentic and, well, he's pretty daggone good in case you don't follow racing all that much. Yes, the jockeys really do matter.

Historically, the #5 post position has been the most beneifical over the 145 year running of the race, with 10 wins from that spot. The number 10 position is next with 9 wins.

No need to rush to another website for details, I have them right here. The #5 horse today -- damn, I mean, tonight -- is Major Fed who will likely be somewhere in the 30-1 range when the horses leave the starting gates. History won't mean much for Major Fed, unfortunately. He'll be just another horse by the time they reach the stretch.

But #10...now that horse could be interesting. The Bob Baffert-trained Thousand Words will be roughly at 8-1 or so by race time and Florent Geroux knows how to ride a horse. If you're looking for an upset special, throw #10 in your bets and see what happens. Baffert, as you know, is pretty good at training horses.

The #16 horse, Honor A.P. is also a potential threat to end Tiz the Law's Triple Crown chances. Mike Smith is in the irons there and he's also outstanding, unless he's on board Astrology in the 2011 Preakness and let's Animal Kingdom roar past him in the final 300 yards to cost a lot of people a lot of money. Anyway, we've all moved on from that. Mostly. Honor A.P. could be a factor tonight.

Looking for some wagering wisdom? We have plenty, but most of it will probably result in losing tickets. If you want to make any money on the race, you'd have to hope Tiz the Law doesn't win. He'll go off in the 1-1 range and won't get you much bang for your buck no matter how you play him. Here's our "official" stance on the race: Tiz the Law is going to win. Easily, we say. If you want to mix him with a few horses, try the 17-16-18-7 combination.

But for fun, let's pretend Tiz the Law throws a shoe and somehow doesn't win.

Now you can make some money, perhaps. We like the two we've already highlighted, Honor A.P. and and Authentic, but Javier Castellano on board the #7, Money Moves, is also an interesting choice. The Todd Pletcher horse is worth an investment, we say.

You might also throw a few bucks on the most inside of the horses, in the #2 starting position, Max Player, with Ricardo Santana Jr. on board.

Here's our winning ticket that we're going to play, in case you care. We'll box the #7, #2 and #18 and hope Tiz the Law falters. We're not expecting it to go that way, but you can't win much money on 1-1 horses.


The TOUR Championship kicked off on Friday and Abraham Ancer and Rory McIlroy played the best golf at 6-under par. But they're not leading the golf tournament.

Because of the funky starting positions that honor the FedEx Cup standings, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are deadlocked at the top at 13-under par. Rahm, who started the event at 8-under, is now 13-under, as is Johnson, who started at 10-under par.

Now tied for the lead at 13-under par, Dustin Johnson could sew up Player of the Year honors with a win at East Lake GC.

Justin Thomas, who started at 7-under par, shot 4-under on Friday to move into 3rd place at 11-under.

I know it's confusing. Don't feel like you're a Flyers fan just because you can't follow along.

When the dust settles on Sunday night, they'll be playing one round of golf for $15 million on Monday in the final round at East Lake GC. I remember once having a putt in a friendly-match-that-wasn't-so-friendy-at-the-end for, well, I probably shouldn't say the amount (tax collectors, you know...), but it was for enough to take my family to the beach for a week. I was nervous beyond belief. And the putt was no more than 3 feet. I made it, then nearly fainted.

What would you do if you had a 5-foot putt for $15 million?

I can't even imagine it.

Last week, Mackenzie Hughes faced a 5-foot putt that meant everything to him. If he missed it, he finished 31st in the FedEx Cup standings and didn't get to go to East Lake, where there's a guaranteed payout of $125,000 just for finishing last. If he made it...check this out: All players finishing in the Top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings get to play all four majors in 2021. They get invited to all four World Golf Championships events. They get job security beyond belief for a couple of years, as if they needed any more of that.

One putt, from five feet, for all of that. And Hughes made it.

Now, think about the guy this Monday who, potentially, could have one putt, of any length, for $15 million.

They designed the FedEx Cup for moments exactly like the one we might see on Monday. One putt for the whole bag of marbles...$15 million.


Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't make a big deal about an Orioles win during this 2020 thing*, but last night's victory over the Yankees in the doubleheader nightcap at Camden Yards was pretty special.

With that win, the O's snapped a 19-game losing streak to the Bronx Bombers. I know, that seems impossible. But it's true -- or was true. The O's lost 19 games in a row to New York over two seasons before winning last night, 6-3. They could have snapped the streak in the opener but fell in that one, 6-5.

The win pushed the Birds to 17-21 in the A.L. East, which positions them right where you figured it would...in 4th place. The Yankees, meanwhile, are now 21-17 and tied with Toronto for 2nd in the East. New York has been just annihilated with injuries in this thing*. Here's their lineup from last night's doubleheader nightcap, where Aaron Boone clearly had little to work with: Hicks, Voit, Gardner, Frazier, Ford, Andujar, Kratz, Wade, Estrada. I know...I haven't heard of half of those guys, either.

The Yankees lineup is so awful that Brett Gardner hit 3rd in Friday's nightcap. He's hitting .188 on the year.

Five of the nine New York batters in the nightcap were hitting under .200. I realize the Orioles lineup isn't any great shakes, either, but we're lousy pretty-much on purpose. The New York lineup is dreadful because of injuries and, apparently, a lack of depth.

By the way, Ryan Mountcastle went 3-for-3 in the nightcap and is now hitting .356 after a week in the big leagues. It's early. Very early. I mean, he's only 37 at bats into his big-league career. But that kid can hit. Or, at the very least, he sure looks like he can hit.

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Friday
September 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2202



friday football fun


I opined earlier this week that John Harbaugh was on the fast track to being a NFL Hall of Fame inductee someday and "Mark" reached out with a fairly scathing account of Harbaugh's abilities and talents. Mark's general summary: Harbaugh's terrible and it's only because of the players that he has accomplished anything at all.

I sent Mark a nice reply and thanked him for his e-mail. It took everything I had to not tell him he's completely nuts. Which, he is. Come to think of it, I guess I'm doing that right here, right now.

Mark, you're completely nuts.

That shiny thing in his hand is called the Lombardi Trophy...

John Harbaugh has been one of the most decorated coaches in the NFL since he arrived in Baltimore in 2008. Would it be helpful for his career arc if the Ravens won another playoff game sometime soon? Of course. And, they will, trust me.

But we go through this sort of thing quite often with coaching. And the Ravens are a prime example of it. When the team won the Super Bowl in 2013, it was because Flacco had the month of a lifetime, Boldin caught everything thrown his way, and the Ravens had a decent-and-intimidating defense. No one said much about the coach.

But in January of 2019 and 2020, it was Harbaugh who lost those two playoff games.

I'm not going to go through what all was said and written, but you remember it well. Two poor offensive performances vs. San Diego and Tennesse were major factors in those losses and Harbaugh took the brunt of the blame.

It's the age-old sports "issue" that fans tend to use. The players get the credit when the team wins and the coaches get the blame when the team loses. 90% of the time, at least, that's the formula.

If you're one of those who pushes that formula forward, you, like Mark, are nuts.

Here's how I sum up those two playoff losses: "In both games, the quarterback had an off day, the offense never got going, the offensive coordinator abandonded the game plan by halftime and everything else (shoestring/highlight reel catches, 4th and inches, penalties) went against the Ravens."

I try and be fair in spreading the blame, but just like I give nearly all of the credit to the players when the team wins, I tend to give the players nearly all of the blame when the team loses. Your mileage may vary on that philosophy.

It's fair to note, though, that a great coach usually employs a different theory. He or she gives the players all of the credit when the team wins and the coach puts all of the blame on themselves when the team loses. That's how coaches are built. Well, the really good ones are, anyway.

John Harbaugh's record speaks for itself, just as Bill Belichick's record stands on its own, even though he had the greatest quarterback of the last 50 years playing for him for nearly two decades.

Two current coaches are most certainly Hall of Fame bound. Belichick's in. They've already sized him for the jacket. Andy Reid is in. His jacket size might change by the time he gets to Canton but he's in for sure.

The next four are 80% of the way there, I'd say: Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin and Harbaugh. All four of those guys will become slam dunks with one more Super Bowl win, but even as it stands now, the guess here is those four will make it. Two things really matter in the NFL as it relates to evaluating coaches: Winning and longevity. Those four have both of those "things".

Like it or not, John Harbaugh's going to be in Canton someday. Personally, I love it.


Someone mentioned in the Comments section recently about the upcoming football season, lamenting that they're not hearing or even "feeling" any enthusiasm on the street about the upcoming NFL season.

I agree.

My Twitter timeline is different, admittedly, but in just casual conversations with friends at the golf course or otherwise, no one is really talking about the 2020 Ravens campaign. I think we all know why...the inability for people to actually go to the games has taken a lot of the luster off of the season.

Even though the NFL product itself is much better on television than it is in person, the mere thought of being able to attend up to eight regular season home games and an away game or two, perhaps, creates a significant sense of excitement.

I'm a four home games per-season guy, max, with a couple of those being reserved for attending with my -- gulp -- now teenage son. I look forward to those afternoons/evenings with him, so going into a season where I know ahead of time I'm potentially not going to have any of those games to enjoy, my overall interest level immediately declines.

I also think the lack of pre-season games and reduced coverage of training camp has hurt.

In the past, you'd halfway pay attention to a few of the pre-season games, especially if there were a handful of potentially-exciting draft picks to watch. I think we all would have been interested to see how the likes of Queen, Harrison and Duvernay would have fared in August. Without those games, it doesn't "feel" like the season is imminently approaching.

The other issue -- the pink elephant in the room, if you will -- is the fallout from fans who have become jaded or offended by the league's social justice push over the last few months. I have no way of knowing how to judge numbers and put them into their proper perspective, but here's my gut feeling on it. The number of people who are so outraged or offended that they'll stop going to the games is growing with each passing season, but I'm also fairly sure those people will eventually be replaced in the seats. If 15,000 folks don't go (under normal circumstances, no-Covid-involved), there will eventually be 15,000 who do go.

It might not happen all at once. It could take a season for the numbers to round back into shape. There could be 5,000 or more empty seats in Baltimore on any given Sunday for one season. But those seats will eventually be filled again, particularly if the team keeps winning and making the playoffs and, perhaps, wins another Super Bowl.

So those three narratives - no one in the stands to start the season, no pre-season games to watch, fallout from social justice push by teams and players - have created quite an enthusiasm drain in the summer of 2020. I don't see it as anything to worry about, honestly. Some of those issues are out of the league's control and some are part of the ongoing collective bargaining battle between the league and the players.

The NFL isn't going out of business, friends. I don't know much, but I certainly know that.


We'll post our 2020 NFL predictions here next week but you probably already know where we're going to project the Jacksonville Jaguars to finish. In last place.

Look, we know all too well here in Baltimore what it's like to have an organization intentionally lose. The Orioles have been doing it for the better part of three years, now. But baseball and football are different, for some weird reason.

I guess it's because with baseball, you can literally see the future of the team playing in the minor leagues. You know, unless something freaky happens, that we're going to get six really good years out of Adley Rutschman until he eventually signs with the Yankees or Dodgers. We'll get six good years out of Ryan Mountcastle before he leaves for the Red Sox or Cubs. We might get six good years out of D.L. Hall. And in those six years, who knows what happens? The O's could win a World Series with that nucleus.

Editor's note: I know what you're thinking: "Did Drew just mention "Orioles" and "win a World Series" in the same sentence? Is he drunk at 5:45 a.m.?"

In football, you watch college games and see a lot of great players, but you have no idea at all if you're going to get any of those guys come draft time. So there's far more risk with rebuilding because you have no idea who you might wind up drafting in an effort to boost the quality of your roster.

When a team like the Jaguars blows their team up in the off-season and goes out of its way to stink, it's hard, as a fan of that organization, to get jazzed up about the impending rebuilding project.

The "Washington Football Team" has been rebuilding since 2000, it seems. How's that process going down in D.C.?

The Jaguars are likely a 3 or 4 win football team in 2020. The fact that people might not be able to actually go out and watch them lose 33-13 eight times a year could help ease the pain a bit, but 4-12 is lousy no matter if you go to the games or watch them on TV. And here's the thing I always wonder about: How on earth do you motivate the players on a weekly basis when they know going in their team's talent level has been wrecked by the front office? Intentionally, it seems.

I bring that up to remind everyone of how fortunate we are in Baltimore to have the Ravens.

Yes, yes, we're also fortunate to have the Orioles. We really are.

But you know the difference between the two. The Ravens wake up every morning and, from top to bottom, their chief concern is "how do we win the Super Bowl"?

The Orioles would like to win someday. The Ravens can't sleep if they lose. Therein lies the difference.

I might be wrong on this, but what we're seeing in Jacksonville would never, ever happen in Baltimore. NEVER. Not as long as Steve Bisciotti is at the helm, anyway. Who knows what philosophies a new owner would bring along, but I'm very confident in the Steve Bisciotti-owned Ravens organization.

The Ravens are never going to intentionally lose like the Jaguars plan on doing in 2020.

And for that, we should be thankful.

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american soccer news


With most European leagues in the midst of their brief offseason, many of the Americans in Europe are getting some much needed rest.

There were a few important USMNT related news items over the last couple weeks. The most exciting news was the announcement that Weston McKennie completed a surprising transfer from Schalke to Italian champions Juventus. This will provide a big step up for McKennie, who will take the field alongside some of the best players in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

This Sunday, Tim Weah returned to the field for Lille in a brief sub appearance, his first after missing over a year with injuries. A healthy Weah could be a big boost to the US attack.

Lastly, the dates for the US Men’s World Cup Qualifying matches were announced. The team will begin the eight team round robin in June of 2021 and conclude in March of 2022. This means that next summer the US will likely play in World Cup qualifiers, the Olympics and the Gold Cup. It will be a busy summer that will force the US to make use of the full depth of the player pool.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the probable starting lineup for the US for those qualifiers.

This lineup is what I expect coach Gregg Berhalter would choose if he had to win an important game right now and all his players were available. A lot can change between now and June, but this lineup should be close to what we see next summer when the games really matter. The lineup will most likely take the 4-3-3 shape, with four defenders, three midfielders, and three attackers.

Weston McKennie figures to be a key part of the U.S. soccer team's attempt to qualify for World Cup 2022 next summer.

The simplest position is goalkeeper. This is Zach Steffen’s job until there is a compelling reason for change. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Steffen receives as the backup keeper for Manchester City this season.

Moving on to the defensive line. The question mark in this group surrounds who will play left back. I think Berhalter will choose to play Antonee Robinson at that spot and use Sergino Dest at right back. However, its possible Dest starts at left back and Reggie Cannon starts at right back. Robinson is on the move to Fulham for next season to play with fellow US player Tim Ream in the Premier League with the promoted side. The center backs will be John Brooks and Aaron Long until one of the younger players can unseat them.

Midfield is the position with the most options, both in players and configuration, but all signs point to Berhalter using a holding midfielder who can spread the ball around out of the back, alongside two “number 8” box to box type midfielders. This means Jackson Yueill will start as the holding midfielder and Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie will start as the number 8s. My opinion is that the team would be best suited to use Adams as the holding midfielder and partner McKennie with a more attacking mid like Gio Reyna. Especially when they are playing against weaker CONCACAF teams where they will expect to dominate possession.

In the attack, Christian Pulisic will start at left wing and serve as the focal point of the offense. At striker, Jozy Altidore is the top option when fully healthy. If he isn’t available, Berhalter likely favors Gyasi Zardes as his backup, with Josh Sargent pushing for that spot. Right wing is the most difficult decision in the lineup for Berhalter. Jordan Morris has been the starter and continues to perform well in MLS, but Gio Reyna has been impressive in his appearances for Borussia Dortmund. My guess is Berhalter would choose Morris as the starter if there was a game right now, but that Reyna will overtake him as the starter by next summer.

Lineups are not static, as players club performances can reshape the depth chart and opponent strength and tactics can influence selections. The majority of this group is unlikely to change, but there are always surprises and injuries.

Six months ago no one would have predicted Gio Reyna would already be pushing for a starting spot. However, if this team is all together and healthy, it will be one of the most talented starting lineups the US Men’s team has ever fielded. It would be an immense shock if this group failed to qualify for the World Cup like the squad in 2018.

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

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Thursday
September 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2201



it's "lyme", not "lymes"


Tom Seaver passed away on Monday at age 75 and the news finally broke on Wednesday.

Jim Palmer called Seaver "the greatest pitcher of my generation" yesterday in a social media post lamenting the Hall of Fame pitcher's death. I'd say that's a fairly large compliment.

I was driving on 695 when I heard the news. "Baseball lost a great one this week," the radio voice said. "Tom Seaver, The Franchise as they called him, died on Monday from complications of Lyme disease and dementia. He was 75."

"Complications of Lyme disease..."

Some people might laugh at that. But they shouldn't. It's very real.

Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver went 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA in his 20-year big league career.

For decades now, people with Lyme disease have been fighting with insurance companies and lawmakers about Lyme disease. It's always been a bit of wild card, with some people believing the disease isn't nearly as harmful and damaging as it might appear to be. Others, like this writer, know all too well how harmful and damaging Lyme disease can be.

In July of 2010, I pulled a small tick off of my left hip. I thought nothing of it.

A few months later, after a lifetime of no back issues, I suddenly developed an achy condition just above my tailbone. A couple of months after that, out of the blue, my eyesight, perfect to that point, started to be a little fuzzy. And shortly thereafter, I had an afternoon of heart palpitations that sent me to my family doctor for an EKG.

"Have you ever been tested for Lyme disease?" he asked. The eyesight issue and heart palpitations were indicators of the disease, he said.

Sure enough...I was in the midst of a battle with Lyme.

I won't bore you with the rest of the story, since I'd have to recap roughly 5 years of my life in order to paint the full picture of what I dealt with while trying to overcome Lyme disease. As I posted last night on Twitter, "it secretly drives you crazy..." You're in pain one day, no pain the next day. You're in pain for a week, then it goes away for a month, only to return again. Things that didn't hurt before suddenly start aching. In short order, I had significant issues with my back, knee and heel.

The worst part is trying to get people to believe you and believe in Lyme disease. Some insurance companies -- as you find out along the way while trying to pay for services or medicine -- simply won't honor Lyme disease. Today, through pressure on state and national lawmakers, Lyme is more and more accepted. "Lyme literate doctors" are very real and are sometimes the only way you can avoid paying for things out of pocket.

Elena Della Donne, the WNBA star, has battled Lyme disease for almost two decades now. She takes 30 pills a day to counter a chronic condition.

I was fortunate. Accupuncture turned out to be my best treatment, through an innovative technique a Baltimore based woman used on me back in 2015. Without her, I have no idea what would have happened to me.

Take Lyme disease very seriously. If you find a tick on you, carefully remove it with tweezers and make sure you get all of it out of your skin. Keep the tick in a plastic bag. There is a misnomer about standard "wood ticks" not carrying Lyme. That's false. Yes, small deer ticks are much more prone to carrying the bacteria that causes Lyme, but 5% of wood ticks can also carry the bacteria.

If you notice any Lyme symptoms, particularly the large, circular "bulls eye" or an overwhelming, day-long fatigue, get to the doctor immediately. Like most things of a medical nature, the sooner you "catch it" and get treatment, the better your chances of eradicating it. I wasn't so fortunate. My symptoms showed up slowly (I didn't have the bulls eye) and by the time I got medical attention, the disease had settled in.

I don't know exactly how Tom Seaver passed away on Monday, but as soon as I heard "complications of Lyme disease", I shuddered.

I overheard someone at a local golf club yesterday say, "Hey Tom Seaver died of Lymes disease." I didn't have the heart to tell him it's "Lyme", not "Lymes", but I did stop for a second and said, to a complete stranger, "That stuff is nothing to mess around with..." We then had a 3-minute conversation about it and, if nothing else, I gave a fellow golfer a brief tutorial on the disease he otherwise wouldn't have had.

That's what I'm doing here today, too. Simply spreading the word. Be careful if you're outdoors. Check yourself, particularly your head, your armpits and your groin area. If you find a tick, get it out as soon as you can and keep it in the event you need it tested.

Tom Seaver's long fight with Lyme disease is over, sadly. He first contracted it back in 1991, then had several bouts with it for almost 30 years. It's a tough disease and it doesn't care at all who it attacks. It's a mean opponent, I can tell you that.

Most days here I write about sports. David Rosenfeld will cover that today with an outstanding contribution below. Today I'm just here to tell you about Lyme disease and pay homage to "Tom Terrific", who was, as Jim Palmer noted, a remarkably talented pitcher.

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fantasy golf: tour championship


They are down to the final event of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour campaign, which starts tomorrow and ends on Labor Day. It's the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC in Atlanta, with the winner of the event winning the $15 million FedEx Cup first-place check.

One tournament for $15 million sounds easy, but not everyone is starting in the same position. Dustin Johnson, by virtue of leading the point standings, begins the event at 10-under par. Jon Rahm, in second place, begins at 8-under par. And so it goes from there, your points ranking earning you "strokes", with the last place guys starting the tournament at even par.

Tony Finau is one of our favorite fantasy golf plays this week at the TOUR Championship.

So, yes, for Mackenzie Hughes to win the TOUR Championship, he would have to beat Dustin Johnson by 11 shots and would have to beat everyone else in the field as well. It's a weird format, but it's also very fair. In the past, if, say, you were the 10th place guy in the standings, about 20 different things had to happen for you to win the FedEx Cup. In some cases, you could be the 5th place guy and not even win the TOUR Championship, but if 25 other different scoring combinations came to fruition, you could be #1 in the standings despite not winning.

In the new format, it's simple. The winner of the tournament wins the whole shootin' match. But if you're the 25th guy, you have to pass 24 others, some of whom go into round one leading you by six or eight shots.

This event is also unique for fantasy golf players in that there's no cut and you now really have to try and get the top 6 finishers right, which is really hard considering the difference in money applied to their fantasy ranking. Dustin Johnson is the most expensive at $15,200 and Marc Leishman is the least expensive at $5,000. That's quite a swing.

Rory McIlroy is the biggest concern in the field, because he might not actually finish the event. McIlroy's wife is due with their first child any day now, and the 4-time major champion says he'll withdraw as soon as she goes into labor. Therein lies the risk. McIlroy could win the event if he plays all four days or he could wreck your fantasy team if he withdraws. Our personal opinion is it's too risky to include McIlroy on any large scale ($33 or more) games you play, but if you want to throw him on a team or two in $8 or $12 games, that's fine.

Here's our lineup for this week, plus eight others to configure in whatever way you want.

Our feeling at #DMD is that Jon Rahm is going to win the tournament, so he headlines our roster of 6 at $12,700. Rahm is slowly starting to emerge as perhaps the best of the under 30 crowd, although Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa might argue with that assessment. The Spaniard is the real deal. We like him in every lineup this week.

Xander Schauffele has won previously at East Lake GC in Atlanta and just needs a win this week to validate his status as one of the TOUR's top players. Schauffele has some work to do to pass nine of the best players in the world, but if he can't do that, we still figure he'll be a top 5 guy by Monday. He costs $9,100.

Something eventually has to give with Tony Finau. He's simply too good to not be winning golf tournaments. This week's hill might be to steep for him to climb, but Finau is still a very worthy investment at $8,200. But those three players have chewed up $30,000 of our $50,000, so now we have to work on our final three guys at an average of $6,666 each.

Kevin Na is a gamer who might not win this week, but he could make a lot of money by working his way up the leaderboard into a top 5 finish. He costs just $5,500. With no worry about the cut, Na is primed to free wheel his way onto the first page of the leaderboard. Now we have $14,500 to spend on our final two players.

We love the way Tyrrell Hatton plays golf. He's fiery, emotional and never gives up. "Never giving up" might be important this week if, say, Dustin Johnson's 19 under after two rounds and Hatton is "only" 12 under. It's a money grab this week and Hatton knows it. We're playing him at $7,000, which leaves us with $7,500 to spend on our final guy.

We're going to leave a few bucks on the table by going with Kevin Kisner at $6,800. "Kiz" had five Top 10 finishes this season and is one of the TOUR's top overall performers. He's very familiar with East Lake GC.

Others to consider -- Dustin Johnson (too good to pass up and already ahead by two shots before the event begins), Webb Simpson (took last week off to rest and has a solid history at East Lake), Harris English (has arguably played as well as anyone, overall, since the mid-June restart), Patrick Reed (it would be just like him to blow away the field this week and win the tournament out of nowhere), Brendon Todd (could potentially be the TOUR's Player of the Year with a win this week), Sebastian Munoz (has quietly made himself into a legit player), Cameron Champ (won't win, but the young bomber could shoot some low scores) and Mackenzie Hughes (free wheeling it now after getting in on the last putt of his round in Sunday's BMW Championship).

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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.


short cuts…


I met the late John Thompson Jr. once, at the old RAC on the UMBC campus. His son was our coach at Princeton, and we’d beaten the Retrievers handily. The box score says that the attendance of 3,106 was, at the time, the fourth largest in school history; I didn’t realize we were such a draw. I do recall convincing Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Princeton ’79, to do a halftime radio interview with our broadcast crew.

Anyway, well after the game, Mr. Thompson was in the hallway beside the visiting locker room. I chatted with him for a bit about the game, and then walked back into the locker room. I told JT3 that his Dad was outside looking for him.

“He can wait,” the younger John Robert Thompson said. And with that, he went back to talking to his assistants.

How long was it that Orioles fans kept pining for Ryan Mountcastle to be promoted from the Minors, or better said this year in a different way, since there was no Minor League season? It feels like the calls were coming from the day he was drafted five years ago.

They were definitely coming as soon as Chris Davis transitioned from a prince into a frog. They intensified as soon as it became eminently clear, about two years ago, that the team was quite literally selling off every legitimate Major League player on the roster.

So I found it somewhat ironic that Mountcastle, in his eighth game with the team, hit his first two home runs in an Oriole uniform in Buffalo…a Minor League stadium. He’s been on the team for 12 days and he still can’t escape the Minors.


The Ravens face Baker Mayfield and the Browns in Baltimore on September 13.

The Ravens play an actual regular-season game in 10 days. The opponent is the Cleveland Browns.

In a normal year, the scuttlebutt might be about a little revenge for the beating the Browns put on the Ravens here in Baltimore last season. And let’s not forget that the Ravens are on a streak. Though it’s nowhere near a record, 12 regular-season wins in a row and counting is a big accomplishment.

There are all sorts of football storylines. Baker Mayfield is in his third year now; is he on the way up or down after a middling 2019? Will the Ravens’ running game be even better with the addition of rookie J.K. Dobbins? There are other tales to tell.

For now, though, I’m just hoping to turn on the big-screen television on Sept. 13 and actually have the game occur.


The date was March 7, 2020. I left the press box at the Ridley Athletic Complex after Duke beat Loyola in lacrosse. I don’t remember what I was thinking, besides the fact that it wasn’t a competitive game.

I can tell you that I wasn’t thinking that, on Sept. 3, I wouldn’t have returned there, or to any other college venue, for a sporting event.

At the time seasons were cancelled in March, I’d bet that many of us believed that college sports would return almost fully by September. At the very least, some kind of precautions would have been put in place to make it possible. And it’s true…some conferences and schools are starting up, whether it’s a good idea or not.

But we’re not even close to the 100% mark, and we’re not sure when that day will come.


The PGA Tour is not a series of handicap events. Everyone tees it up from the same spots, and no strokes are given. The ones with the lowest scores win more money and tend to remain as players on the tour for longer.

That being said, I don’t mind the Tour Championship with its “staggered” pre-tournament leaderboard based on FedEx Cup points, though I do think there needs to be some kind of asterisk in the record book that shows the post-2018 Tour champions were playing a different format.

Last year, Rory McIlroy shot 13-under in the actual tournament after being “placed” at 5-under before play began. He blitzed the field with rounds of 66, 67, 68 and 66. He would have won the tournament anyway. The player in the same pre-tournament position this year is PGA champion Collin Morikawa.


At the end of the day, the Orioles are likely going to finish where we thought they might after 60 games in July, August and September.

There are 24 games left in the 2020 season, assuming none get terminally postponed. As might have been expected in a longer MLB season, the team has traded away a bunch of its veterans who are worth something to other teams.

What does that mean? At the most, maybe the team will win eight of its last 24 games. That means a final record of 25-35. Perhaps that’s a couple games better than initial predictions, certainly it’s disappointing based on a relatively good start.

When it’s over, though, the O’s will be fighting it out with the Red Sox for a last-place finish, and that’s exactly where I would have expected them to be.


Back to Georgetown and the late Thompson, the whole thing with Maryland and Georgetown not scheduling each other for years has been written about a thousand times. Honestly, it came down to strong, stubborn personalities—those being Lefty and Gary on the Terps side, and of course Thompson on the Hoyas side.

As a fan of the Terps, I’ll always remember the only time the teams did agree to play each other during the Williams/Thompson era…November 26, 1993, the day after Thanksgiving, at the old arena in Landover. I was lucky enough to be there.

It was the game—won by the Terps on a last-second shot from Duane Simpkins—that proved that Maryland was back as a real program. By the end of the season, Maryland was making the first of what would become 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances.


Heard “You Can Do Magic” by America on the satellite radio the other day, and I was instantly taken back to Memorial Stadium in the 1980s. Pregame, the team played every song they could find with “magic” in the title.

Off the top of my head, I remember “Magic to Do,” which is the opening song from a Broadway musical called “Pippin.” I believe there also was a song called simply “Magic,” from Olivia Newton-John. Eventually, of course, this all ended with the much more locally-popular “Orioles Magic.”

Are there any “magic” songs I’m missing? My first thought is “Do You Believe in Magic,” by the The Lovin’ Spoonful, but I don’t remember that being used at the park here.

The ballpark—any ballpark—had a soundtrack then. Besides a transistor radio, maybe, there wasn’t a lot of extra entertainment.


On some level, don’t you think the Ravens (or any NFL team, really) are actually enjoying this preseason?

Outside of football, there are fewer obligations. Players are likely much happier doing video interviews than having 10 microphones shoved in their face. Coaches must feel like they did back when they coached the guys up in high school; they can worry about the team mostly.

I’m sure that all the testing is annoying, though hopefully everyone is mature enough to understand it. I’m quite sure that, as much as they can concentrate more on football, the players and coaches are more concerned about their health and safety of their families than ever before.

Oh, and there weren’t any preseason games. Something tells me that the vets on the roster, especially the ones over 27 or so, didn’t mind that at all.


And speaking (again) of the Ravens, it’s time for another season of the team not getting CBS’s top broadcast crew very often, despite the lofty expectations this year.

Why do I care about this? Why should you care about this? I don’t really think it’s worth caring about. It’s just lame, is all, at least for Week 1.

For 15 or more years, Tom Brady made the Patriots the No. 1 AFC draw. You couldn’t really argue, especially when another good team was the opponent.

And now, CBS has decided that NOT having Tom Brady is a big story for Week 1. Lame. Miami stinks, and I’m not sure the Patriots are that great either.

So, a hearty welcome to new CBS commentator Charles Davis, who’ll be here for the Cleveland game. And I’m sure a bunch more games this year!

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Wednesday
September 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2200



hey, you asked...


Ryan Melprose asks -- "Can you create a scenario where the Ravens go 9-7 or worse with Lamar entirely healthy for the 2020 season?"

DF says -- "Not really. I mean, it's the NFL and all and we've seen a bunch of games turn on crazy plays, crazy calls and so forth, but if Lamar is healthy for 16 weeks, 9-7 is almost a total impossibility. Now, if you want me to create a scenario where they go 9-7, I would say they lose at Houston, vs. K.C., at Indy, at New England, and a total of 3 times to Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I don't see that happening -- but there's your 9-7 record."


Christian asks -- "A little bit of a bar bet here that we are hoping you will settle. How many majors would Payne Stewart have won if he wouldn't have passed away at such an early age?"

DF says-- "Interesting question, because Payne was really at his zenith just as Tiger's dominant run started. He won 3 majors (a PGA and two U.S. Opens) before the tragic accident in October of 1999. I'll say he would have finished with 5. He would have also won a British Open and another PGA Championship."


Ed Camp asks -- "We all generally acknowledge Brady and Peyton are the two best QB's of the last 20 years but I'd like you to rank the "next five": Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Eli Manning and Rivers."

DF says -- "You didn't say how you want them ranked, so I'll just say I'm ranking them based on having one neutral site game to win; 1) Rodgers, 2) Roethlisberger, 3) Eli, 4) Brees, 5) Rivers -- I thought long and hard about the order of the top 3. You could swap Ben and Rodgers and I wouldn't argue, but I think Rodgers tends to make fewer mistakes than Roethlisberger."


Are these guys the next two U.S. Ryder Cup captains after Steve Stricker gets his turn at Whistling Straits next September?

Art B. asks -- "OK, put your crystal ball into action and pick the next three U.S. Ryder Cup captains after Steve Stricker."

DF says -- "I have to look up site locations first. OK, 2023 is Rome, 2025 is Bethpage Black (NY) and 2027 is Ireland. First things first...I'll say Phil gets the nod at Bethpage Black. His popularity with the New York fans is well documented. He's a no brainer for Bethpage in 2025. The pressure, though, is to win a road Ryder Cup, something the U.S. hasn't done since 1993...and for that, Tiger will get the nod in 2023 in Rome. As for 2027 in Ireland, how about Zach Johnson, a 2-time major champion and former British Open winner."


M.J. asks -- "Would you trade two years of the Ravens going 4-12 in exchange for the Orioles winning the World Series?"

DF says -- "Come on, is this a trick question? Of course I would. I think almost any true Baltimore sports fan would make that deal. The Ravens have had plenty of glory. The Orioles haven't been to a World Series since 1983."


Robert asks -- "You get to create an all-time super band. One vocalist, one guitar player, one bassist, one drummer. But you can't have more than one person from the same band in your super band. And.......go!"

DF says -- "Wow, this is pretty hard! Drummer is a no-brainer. Neil Peart of Rush. On bass, Chris Squire of Yes was really, really good, but I have to go with John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. Guitarist is a tough choice as well...Eric Clapton, Tom Morello, Jeff Beck, but I'm going with Eddie Van Halen. And for vocalist, it's easy, especially since I can't take Robert Plant. I'm going with one of the only good things to ever come out of Philadelphia -- the great Darryl Hall of Hall and Oates".


Peter Knapp asks -- "You get to watch a playoff game (of any sport) in the afternoon and a concert of your choice in the evening in the same building/arena/stadium. Where would you pick?"

DF says -- "Easy answer. Madison Square Garden. Caps vs. Rangers in the afternoon and Dave Matthews Band in the evening. There's just something about the Garden...its location, the aura of the arena, the sound, smell, etc."


Ron asks -- "If John Harbaugh doesn't win another Super Bowl is he a Hall of Fame coach or does he have to win one more ring to get to Canton?"

DF says -- "GREAT question! I'd say if he wins one more, he's a lock. As it stands now, I think he has an 80% chance of getting there. If you asked me to make a bet right now, I would bet you Harbs makes the Hall of Fame someday."


C.P. asks -- "I know you're a huge Jim Nantz fan so this could be a loaded question. Who is the best play-by-play person in your lifetime?"

DF asks -- "Hmmmm, there's a lot to unpack there. We've had some really good ones in the last 50 years. Brent Musburger, Marv Albert, Keith Jackson, Mike Tirico, and, yes, Jim Nantz. But I think the one guy who always delivers an ultra-premium broadcast is Al Michaels."


Roger Geilenberke asks -- "You won't remember me but we met once at a Counting Crows show. We share similar tastes in music so I was wondering if you would give me an album or two on your "under-rated list" that maybe I haven't heard that would be worth listening to."

DF says -- "I have no way of knowing if you've listened to these albums but two of the most underrated albums of my lifetime are Pete Yorn, "musicforthemorningafter" and Elton John, "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player."


Paul asks -- "Who are the five best Ravens ever in terms of performance on the field? Popularity and longevity aside. Just the five best "technical" football players ever."

DF says -- "Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Jon Ogden, Marshal Yanda and Justin Tucker."

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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.


summer camp memories


Labor Day is approaching, and with it, the unofficial end of summer vacation. In normal times, kids are heading back to school, gathering with classmates and old friends, sharing stories of their summer vacations and the camps they attended.

The usual summer camps are centered around the outdoors, places where kids hike, boat, swim, and sit around campfires at night. The camps are usually located in faraway mountains or forests somewhere several hours from home. There are some sports and some arts and crafts and some casual lessons about nature. At least, those are the stories I used to hear from my friends about their summer camp experiences.

I never attended those types of camps, though.

The only overnight summer camp I ever attended was the Wes Unseld Basketball Fundamentals Camp. For three consecutive summers, from 1978 to 1980, I would take a week, usually in late July, and go to Bowie State University. From Sunday night until Friday afternoon, it was all basketball, all the time. I loved every second of it.

I was reminded of Wes’ camp on Sunday morning when I came across the picture below. I was searching for some documents I needed, and as I went through my disorganized file cabinets I stumbled across an envelope full of old photographs. Being easily distracted, I sat down and started going through all these old black and white photos, when I was confronted with my 14 year old self shaking hands with Wes Unseld. It brought back a flood of wonderful memories.

The dormitories at Bowie State were really hot. There was no central air conditioning, so campers were advised to bring a fan for their rooms. But really, the only time we spent in the rooms was to sleep. Because from the 7 a.m. wake up whistle (and yes, that’s really how they woke us up – counselors would walk through the hallways blowing their whistles), until lights out at 11 p.m., everything centered around the game.

The great Wes Unseld (left) with Mark Suchy, circa 1980, at Unseld's basketball camp in Bowie, MD.

Following breakfast, the entire camp would gather in the main gym for stretching. After that, it was station drills and clinics for an hour or two. Then there were the morning games. Before you realized it, lunch was being served. Mid-afternoons were defensive drills and shooting stations. Following dinner, there were more games. A typical week would have your team playing at least 12 games.

After lunch, Wes would have an hour-long teaching clinic. This was always a favorite time of mine. He invited his friends from the NBA to teach a certain skill to the entire camp for one hour.

Fred Carter taught us shooting form and fundamentals (and man, could Fred Carter shoot!). Phil Chenier taught us ballhandling skills. Bobby Dandridge taught us the triple-threat position, and how to make one-on-one moves from the perimeter. Mitch Kupchak taught us the intricacies of playing in the high and low post. Julius Erving even showed up one day, and to be honest, I was so incredibly starstruck I have no idea what he taught us. I do remember that he had the largest hands I had ever seen on any human, and that he delighted us with an incredible array of dunks.

For all those big names and lessons, though, my favorite ones were the rebounding clinics that Wes held. Watching and listening to Wes Unseld teach rebounding was like being taught physics by Einstein or painting by Michelangelo. Because nobody ever rebounded the basketball quite like Wes Unseld.

Over the course of his 13 year NBA career, Unseld averaged 14 rebounds per game. In his rookie season with the Baltimore Bullets, he averaged a remarkable 18.2 rebounds per game. He’s 13th all time in total rebounds in NBA history with 13,769, ahead of guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley and Dikembe Mutombo. It’s remarkable when you consider that his listed playing height was 6’7”. I’m not sure that listing was accurate; it seems to me that it was a bit generous.

But the man knew how to rebound, and he understood it to be a combination of technique, positioning and desire. He would show us where to be on the court when the ball was on the opposite side, so that you would be in the proper spot for the missed shot. He taught subtle things like stepping on your opponent’s shoe as you moved to box him out, or grabbing a little handful of jersey or shorts to move him out of the way. He emphasized boxing out, using leverage and your lower half to keep your man on your back so he would have to foul you in order to get to the ball. I’ll always remember Wes saying that he got 80% of his rebounds at his waist; he didn’t need to jump, because he was in perfect position when the ball came off the rim. Then he would show us proper footwork for throwing strong, accurate outlet passes.

Basketball is at its most beautiful when a team is running the floor on the fast break. The speed and athleticism of the best players is showcased in those moments. But no fast break can get started without a rebound and a strong outlet pass. And if a team is efficient on the break, the man who got it started with the rebound and outlet pass usually isn’t involved in the score at the other end of the floor. But he’s indispensable. It takes an unselfish and humble teammate to accept that role. Wes Unseld understood that and embraced it. He also was able to impart his love of that role to the kids he taught.

The primary reason I fell in love with basketball is because I enjoyed scoring. It was fun seeing the ball go through the net. There was an immediate satisfaction, especially during games, when you knew you were helping your team. Plus, you didn’t need anyone else to go shoot around when you felt like it. I always enjoyed working on my shooting. Layups, free throws, jumpers from all angles, bank shots, I would spend hours practicing them all on our driveway hoop. I could never master my Dad’s hook shot, though, and I could never defend it either. I never understood how he was so accurate with it.

As I got older and played in more competitive leagues, the understanding of all facets of the game began to emerge. Since I was always tall for my age, I played close to the basket, and rebounding became an emphasis if I wanted to become a more complete player and increase my value to the team. So I paid close attention to my coaches in practices, working on footwork and learning where to be in anticipation of a missed shot. I was drilled on proper hand placement for throwing fast, accurate outlet passes, and how to always step into the pass I was making.

By the summer of 1978, when the opportunity came to go to Wes Unseld’s camp for a week of nothing but basketball, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The chance to be tutored on the game by local high school and college coaches and players, and to see NBA players give in-person clinics, was a dream come true.

Here’s where I should admit that I was never more than an extremely interested observer of professional basketball. I was only 7 years old when the Baltimore Bullets moved to Landover. Growing up in that era, there were no local telecasts of the Bullets’ games. I can’t recall ever going to the Baltimore Civic Center to watch them play.

My love of the game came through road trips with my father to Cole Field House to watch Lefty Driesell’s Maryland Terrapins teams. Dad was a UM alumnus and a letterman in both football and lacrosse. As an M Club member, he had season tickets for football, basketball and lacrosse. We spent a lot of time traveling to College Park to watch all those sports. I loved basketball the most.

I’ve often wondered how my sports passions would have developed had the Bullets remained in Baltimore. The teams they had in the late 1960’s through the 1970’s were among the best in the NBA. They were full of legendary players: Gus Johnson, Earl Monroe, Elvin Hayes, Fred Carter, Phil Chenier and Unseld, just to name several. The Bullets team that won the NBA Championship in 1978 was coached by Dick Motta, who was the walking definition of a basketball lifer. Bob Ferry was their GM (you might remember his son, Danny, who played at a school I will not name, located somewhere in North Carolina).

As hard as it may be to believe, given the last thirty years or so of the franchise’s history, during that era the Bullets were one of the best and most stable franchises in the NBA. They had talent and good coaching and savvy management.

Wes Unseld was a big part of their success. He was a rock on the interior. He was a determined and aggressive rebounder who knew his role and embraced it to its fullest. Over the course of his 13 seasons, there was only one year when he didn’t average double figures in rebounds per game, and that year he averaged 9.2. Remarkably, in his last season, hobbled by knee and back trouble, he still managed to grab 10.7 rebounds a game, while suiting up 63 times.

Unseld has to have one of the most unique statistical careers in the history of basketball. He averaged 10.8 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. One of his more interesting stats is that he only averaged 2.8 personal fouls per game. That’s quite remarkable when you consider he spent his time playing in the paint, banging bodies with the best centers in the world. He knew the subtle nuances and used every one he could to his advantage.

The Baltimore Bullets used the 2nd overall pick in the 1968 NBA Draft to select Unseld out of the University of Louisville. He rewarded them by winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP in 1968-69. He was a 5 time All Star and the MVP of the NBA Finals in 1978, when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in 7 games for the franchise’s sole championship.

If you think of great basketball players, you usually picture long, lean, athletic men who glide across the floor gracefully. They seem to elevate and float effortlessly. But Wes Unseld showed us that sometimes you need the big bruiser, the guy who’s willing to do the dirty work, to do all of the little things that make teams better, the things that allow your teammates to soar and get the glory.

When I heard about his passing on June 2nd, I immediately thought of those hot summer days and nights spent at Bowie State. I remembered all the fun that the game of basketball brought to me as a young man. I recalled how excited I was anticipating the week. I even smiled at the memory of doing defensive slides across the sidewalks on the quad in the middle of the campus. I was never too fond of playing defense. It makes your legs burn.

No matter the hard drills we sometimes did, I loved my summer basketball camp life. Other kids could have their campfires and s’mores and canoeing and hiking. I’ll take rebounding lessons from Wes Unseld and going to bed exhausted from 14 hours of basketball every time over that. Even if the dorms are hot.

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Tuesday
September 1
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#2199



john thompson...way ahead of his time


A true sports legend passed away yesterday.

John Thompson was an icon who not only coached Georgetown University and molded the school's basketball program into a national powerhouse, but he managed to do what every coach sets out to accomplish on his first day as the lead man.

John Thompson's players played for him.

It's very true. Thompson orchestrated one of the greatest quid pro quos in modern sports. He gave everything he had to his players and his players gave everything they had to him. Together, Georgetown basketball became a college basketball pedestal that scores of young African Americans strived tirelessly to stand on.

John Thompson and Patrick Ewing celebrate Georgetown's NCAA basketball title in 1984.

Two things stood out about Thompson to me when I first started following Georgetown in the early 1980's. One was the size of the school. Through scouting ventures while I was in the soccer business, I was able to visit Georgetown on several occasions. The school was, in the 1980's, about the size of a mall. I was shocked that John Thompson could create a national basketball powerhouse at a school of that size. Shocked and impressed.

The other thing that stood out about Thompson was the way he mentored and protected any young man who came his way. Who will ever forget the courtside hug he gave Fred Brown after the Georgetown player inadvertently threw the ball away in the waning seconds of the 1982 title game vs. North Carolina? Thompson's words to Brown in the aftermath? "We wouldn't have ever made it this far without you. Don't let this moment define you. We owe you more than you owe us."

I also remember Thompson coming under scrutiny for the perceived lack of educational progress made by his various players. When he was once asked "How many of your players have graduated?", Thompson shot back with one of the great replies of all-time: "As many that have wanted to."

Along the way, Thompson served as a father figure, coach, teacher and mentor to anyone who suited up for the Hoyas. He cared mostly about two things; giving his players a comfortable educational environment and helping them become the best basketball players they could be. Thompson defended his players to the fullest. He knew what was best for them. And if others thought differently, Thompson usually won out.

When the NCAA tournament rolled around and Thompson was given his team's travel itinerary and hotel accommodations, he immediately sought out different arrangements, often arriving a day before the rest of the teams and almost always staying somewhere on the outskirts of town, where he could shelter his players from the fast-paced action that surrounded the tournament and, more importantly, keep the media from infesting his group of young men.

In the 1980's, many people viewed Thompson as a tyrant of sorts. It was, without question, either his way or the highway. He once walked off the court and refused to coach a 1989 Big East game as a sign of protest against Proposition 48, which the coach felt unfairly trapped African American players who were facing freshman eligibility issues.

But Thompson wasn't a tyrant. He was a man who was put in place to educate, grow and protect young men. And that's what he did. That he had to ruffle a few feathers along the way was part-and-parcel of the job. Thompson was not afraid -- as the late John Lewis once said -- "to get in good trouble."

There are, obviously, massive ties to Georgetown and John Thompson in Baltimore. He took the likes of David Wingate and Reggie Williams from Dunbar and helped turn them into champions and NBA players. When Calvert Hall's Duane Ferrell chose Georgia Tech over Georgetown, Thompson jokingly said, "I guess I don't walk on water in Baltimore like I thought I did." But make no mistake about it, Georgetown basketball was revered in Baltimore City because Thompson gave Wingate and Williams a chance.

John Thompson might not have walked on water, but he sure came close...as a coach, a leader, a teacher and a guiding light for high school players who trusted him with their lives. He was, by anyone's standards, an icon.



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ravens trying to connect


Whether it was intentional or just a timing coincidence, the Ravens made a pair of announcements on Monday that generated lots of attention for the organization.

With no fans in the seats for the "initial part of the season", the Ravens have done what many other professional teams have done during the pandemic. They'll put cardboard cutouts of fans in the stadium starting on September 13 when they host the Browns in the 2020 opener in Baltimore.

The cardboard cutouts will stay in place as long as the club continues their "no fans allowed" protocol. So, it stands to reason your smiling face could be in the seats for as few as two home games and as many as eight regular season contests. The cost for that fun? Just $55, with PSL holders paying $45. And, no, that's not a per-game cost. That's the cost, for as long as the team keeps the stadium closed.

And the proceeds go to the Ravens Foundation and local Covid-19 relief efforts, so it's not like you're forking over $55 to the club for their own use.

The Ravens will follow along with various other professional teams, like the Seattle Mariners, who have offered fans the opportunity to purchase cardboard cutouts that will be stationed in the seats for home games during the Covid-19 pandemic.

My Twitter timeline was jammed with people complaining about having to pay for the cutouts. For starters, the cost on those is probably somewhere around $10 or $15 each. Next, if you were planning on attending Ravens home games in 2020, $55 is, what, six or eight beers? Either way, you are/were going to pay $55 for something that some people would deem not necessary.

Look, am I going to fork over $55 to have my picture on a cutout that sits in Section 151 or wherever it winds up being placed? I'm not. But the amount of people on social media who got all hot and bothered by it on Monday are forgetting the most obvious response of all: Just. Don't. Pay. $55.

Why complain about something you're not going to do? It's not like they're charging PSL owners $45 and forcing you to buy in. The Ravens aren't Penn State, who are essentially making their people donate money to an athletic fund to retain the privilege of seeing the Nittany Lions sometime in the future. If the Ravens were making you pay $45, then complain away.

But when it's voluntary, why bellyache about it?

And I respect the fact that they're trying to do something to polish up the game-day experience, both for the players and the TV/streaming viewers. Is 2020 going to be weird no matter what? Of course. But I trust the Ravens to put together a creative gameday setting and add some fun and intrigue to their eight home games.

Whether the release of the team's video appeal to Senator Mitch McConnell on Monday was intentional or a coincidence is anyone's guess, but there's no debating the quality of the video that was produced by the team's marketing department. It was a remarkable three minutes.

The video was part of the team's pledge last week to map out a strategic plan to help elevate awareness for equality for all players, but in particular African Americans.

I won't spoil any of the details of the video. It's here (below) for you to watch today.

But what I will say is this: Whether you agree with all of the video, agree with some of it, or agree with none of it, there's no doubt the Ravens are not flying by the seat of their pants on this issue. The organization has been in the spotlight on the equality issue since that September Sunday in London and it certainly must be obvious to everyone now that they're not going to back away or lighten their support. If anything, the Ravens are looking like a league leader in the effort to promote equality for African Americans.

I assume the Ravens spent a considerable amount of time talking about the pros and cons of going public with the video. After all, they could have simply produced the video and e-mailed it to Senator McConnell and then hand-delivered the letter signed by all players. Circulating the video is proof that the Ravens are fine with whatever backlash they might get.

No matter what side you're on, you have to be impressed with the way the Ravens are going about it. They're a league leader on the field and, now, apparently off the field as well.



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European Team of the Season


The COVID extended 2019-20 European season finally came to a conclusion last weekend as Bayern Munich defeated Paris St. Germain in the Champions League final.

This was a long and strange season with the different top leagues in Europe all shutting down and reconvening at different times to conclude their seasons.

Lionel Messi produced 51 goals and assists for Barcelona during the 2019-2020 season.

Eventually all the top leagues besides France and the Netherlands concluded their seasons and the Champions League capped off the year with a dramatic single elimination tournament. Here is my team of the season from the top leagues in Europe.

The extenuating circumstances caused the Ballon D’Or (awarded to the best player in Europe) to be canceled for the year. My choice for this distinction would have been Barcelona star Lionel Messi. A strong argument could be made for Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, and he likely would have won the award had it been given, for the same reasons players other than Michael Jordan won NBA MVP in the late 90s. Lewandowski had an incredible season for the best team in Europe, producing 59 goals and assists between the Bundesliga and Champions League.

Messi produced 51 goals and assists in La Liga and Champions League. Advanced statistics rated the two players nearly even for their domestic league seasons with Lewandowski holding the edge in Champions League play. However, statistics don’t capture the whole story.

Having watched nearly every game that each team played, there is really no comparison to the impact Messi consistently has on the game for Barcelona. As talented as Lewandowski is, he is the beneficiary of an incredible Bayern Munich team effort as the target forward.

Messi was the best passer, creator, dribbler and scorer for Barcelona. He did not have the luxury of receiving high quality scoring chances generated by his teammates. The overreliance on Messi was part of Barcelona’s downfall and they may be forced to learn the hard way to adapt without him if the rumors of his leaving are true. However, for the 2019-20 season, Messi is my player of the year.

The rest of my team of the season features multiple standout performers from European champions Bayern Munich as well as the Premier League champions Liverpool, and Spanish champions Real Madrid.

The toughest call in this team was probably at right back where I went with Joshua Kimmich, who split time between right back and center midfield. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was a close second and very deserving of mention as an integral part of that historic team. Another player to note is Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies. The Canadian, who is just a few years removed from his debut in MLS, was not expected to play much of a role for the German champions, but burst onto the scene in the fall and forced his way into the starting lineup.

Here is the rest of the team:

Goalie - Marc Andre Ter Stegen - Barcelona - Germany

Left Back - Alphonso Davies - Bayern Munich - Canada

Center Back - Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid - Spain

Center Back - Virgil Van Dijk - Liverpool - Netherlands

Right Back - Joshua Kimmich - Bayern Munich - Germany

Center Mid - Thiago Alcantara - Bayern Munich - Spain

Center Mid - Kevin De Bruyne - Manchester City - Belgium

Center Mid - Thomas Muller - Bayern Munich - Germany

Forward - Lionel Messi - Barcelona - Argentina

Forward - Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich - Poland

Forward - Karim Benzema - Real Madrid - France

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

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Monday
August 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2198



by the percentages


0% chance all 30 MLB teams play 60 games in the 2020 thing*. I still can't figure out how the powers-that-be think that's fair. Example: Cubs could finish 30-30 and Cardinals could finish 28-27 and St. Louis would own the better record. A team could make the playoffs in that fashion, which seems really wrong.

10% chance the Orioles make the playoffs and, no, that has nothing at all to do with the trades they made yesterday. Milone -- as he showed on Sunday night in a miserable start for the Braves -- was just a guy and Givens was better than that, but certainly not a game changer. I realize most people think the O's have a 0% chance of making it, but the reality is they do still have a slim chance of making it, even at 14-19 currently.

20% chance one or more NFL games get rescheduled this season because of a Covid-related situation. Think about the impact something like that would have on gambling and fantasy football, particularly if it comes on a Sunday night or Monday night when parlays are still alive and fantasy games are unresolved. I realize the league and teams don't care - supposedly -- about gambling and fantasy sports (even though they have "official partnerships") but Covid-19 could sure make for a mess if a game or two get postponed or delayed.

Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson had a back nine duel for the ages yesterday in Chicago, with Rahm rolling in a 66 foot putt on the first playoff hole to win, after Johnson had made a long putt on the last hole of regulation to send the event to extra holes.

30% chance that one of the guys who finished in the top 10 at Olympia Fields yesterday wins the U.S. Open next month at Winged Foot. Here's a quick look at the top 10; Rahm, D. Johnson, Matsuyama, Niemann, Finau, Kokrak, Fitzpatrick, Todd, Griffin, Munoz, Hughes. Of those names, Rahm and D.J. are the highest favorites, but if a "long shot" winds up winning at Winged Foot, someone like Kokrak, Fitzpatrick or Hughes could wind up holding the trophy. In case you care, I love Dustin Johnson's chances to win.

40% chance the Ravens lose one of their first six games in the 2020 regular season. Their first 6 games; vs. Cleveland, at Houston, vs. Kansas City, at Washington, vs. Cincinnati, at Philadelphia. Logically, you'd figure the Chiefs home game is the most shaky of the six, but I'd lean toward the Ravens winning that one and losing one of the other five...at least.

50% chance that one of these 3 teams makes the baseball playoffs next year when there's a real 162-game season; Blue Jays, Padres, White Sox. Heck, both Chicago teams might make the post-season in the current 60-game thing* and the Padres are going to be in the hunt in mid-September. I doubt the Blue Jays can rally to make a run in 2020 but watch out for them in 2021.

60% chance four of these six teams reach the two NFL conference championship games next January; Chiefs, Ravens, Bills, 49'ers, Saints and Buccaneers. It's still way too early for NFL predictions here at #DMD, but I don't see anyone in the NFC unseating the 49'ers at the top.

70% chance the Orloles are a 70-win team in 2021, even though we have no idea at all who the pitchers will be. If Mancini returns healthy, a lineup of Santander, Mountcastle and Mancini would be a nice nucleus. If a few of the young pitchers just hold their own, 70 wins is very realistic. I realize 70-92 is nothing great, but it's progress and it's way better than 55-107.

80% chance the Ravens are at least an 11-win team in 2020. Again, #DMD predictions come out in early September, but unless something crazy happens with Lamar, the Ravens will waltz to 11 wins and are far more likley to win 12 than they are 10. 11 wins will certainly be good enough to win the AFC North, but not enough to finish the regular season as the #1 seed in the AFC.

90% chance the college basketball season is disrupted by Covid-19. The most likely scenario is no out-of-conference games in November and December, followed by a "conference only" slate starting in January. I'd also say there's a decent chance attendance at college hoops games is restricted/limited even in January, February and March.

100% chance the Philadelphia Flyers season is over if they don't win Game 5 on Tuesday night in the Toronto "bubble". The Islanders handed Philly a 3-2 loss last night to go up 3-1 in their best-of-7 series. Both teams went with back-up goalies in Game 4 as it was the second game of a back-to-back set. Fortunately, the Isles' back-up was better. And now they're one away from disposing of the worst franchise in the history of sports. It might be too late to enter, but if the Islanders finish off the Flyers...Barry Trotz for President, maybe?



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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


I don’t know if the walkout staged first by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and then latched onto by other teams and other leagues, was the proper manifestation of protest. The Bucks thought it was, probably because they were responding to a situation in Wisconsin, though circumstances have left the team far away from home.

Certainly other teams like, say, the Orioles, felt a certain pressure to make their own statement. Personally, I think it would have been better, and more powerful, had everyone not fallen in line as they did.

I will say that I don’t understand some of the reaction. Much of it is so personal, when what’s being protested isn’t personal at all.

Three years later, people in Baltimore are still upset about "London".

“I don’t want to be lectured to.” Fine. Who does? I struggle to see how this serves as a lecture. While I take what the Bucks did seriously, I don’t feel as if they are personally criticizing me, or warning me. Because of that, I don’t think the team was being unfair, or telling me to do something or say something that maybe I don’t want to say or do.

I’m not being told by the Milwaukee Bucks that I shouldn’t be racist, for instance. Like all of you, I presume, I try to be that way always. These team statements are not pressuring me, and certainly not admonishing me, or telling me that my morals and ethics are compromised. Why must some take it that way? I don’t know.

“I find what was done here to be divisive.” Fine. You believe that, instead of bringing people together, this particular protest did the opposite. That’s an informed opinion, based on other protests that have taken place among pro athletes recently.

What I struggle to understand is how I ought to be personally offended by the Bucks’ deciding not to play, whether I agree with them at 100 percent or not. It’s the same with kneeling for the national anthem, or having Black Lives Matter on a basketball court, or not showing up for a White House invitation. People seem very alienated by these things, on an individual level. I don’t.

“Sports is an escape from all that, a place to get away from everything.” Fine. Whether the Bucks play the game or not, it’s not that important compared to the general destruction of Lake Charles, Louisiana, by a monster hurricane. As Howard Cosell once said, sports is the toy department of the newspaper.

Again, and maybe it’s me, I’ve never agreed with sports as escape. You know who the worst fans are at Ravens’ games? The people who clearly view the games as an excuse to get drunk, and to generally act differently than they do during the week.

Sports has never been, and never will be, a place of fantasy, somehow separate from the rest of life, a place that bends and breaks to whatever you’d like it to be to make you feel better. Sports, in the modern era, have never been “just about the game.” There have always been “big picture” issues—political, sociological, economic—that surround every professional sports team. Why is now the time to view sports solely through only your own lens?

Ok, so maybe you think I’m the one lecturing you now. If so, I’m sorry. I’m really not telling you WHAT to think, nor can I possibly know whether I agree or disagree with any of you on a variety of subjects, sports-related or not.

What I am suggesting, I suppose, is that we can change HOW we think about the events of last week, in a way that’s less personal. Feel free to disagree with me on that.

On the subject of sports as an escape, one of my least favorite lectures always came from members of the coaching staff. It happened when somebody—a reporter, maybe—said or did something that they felt was unfair.

“Those guys have never been a part of team; they wouldn’t have any idea,” a coach would say. “They should put on the pads and see what it’s like, and then they’d think differently.” And so forth...

This was hogwash, mostly. One must not have played linebacker for the Packers, or even their high school team, to report with skill on the play of the Packers’ linebackers. And, by the way, teams exist away from the sports fields too. Depending on others, and having to “do your job,” is a fact of life for lots of people that couldn’t make a three-pointer if they tried 100 times.

In these times, however, I’d argue that you should think about a sports team differently. As much as you want them to be, they’re not just a group of people wearing a uniform with your city or your college on it. As nice as a minimum salary approaching $1 million is for a young player, they’re not just a group of spoiled rich guys who have every advantage in the world.

Take a baseball team, for instance. 25 or 26 guys usually. A bunch of them are Spanish speakers, of course, but that doesn’t mean all of them are destined to believe exactly the same things. Hanser Alberto is from the Dominican Republic, and Renato Nuñez is from Venezuela. They are around the same age. They’ve been thrown together. How do they interact? It’s more complicated than you’d like it to be.

The non-Hispanic guys on a team run the gamut of the American experience. You have self-proclaimed country boys who graduated high school and went right to the minors, and suburbanites who spent three or four years at places like Vanderbilt before turning pro. How easy do they get along? Back when Eddie Murray came to the Orioles, he had plenty of black players to look to as role models. That’s no longer the case for a young black player. How does he deal with that?

Maybe you don’t care about any of that. If you’re a fan of the Orioles, you just want them to play baseball as a team as well as possible. You don’t care how a pitcher turns into an ace one year after being a bum the year before; you’re just glad that he did. It’s of no interest to you that something, maybe out of a player’s control, is causing that player to struggle; you’re just annoyed he’s not as good as he used to be.

To you, these guys serve as an escape. You might know their faces, but you don’t really know anything about them. You like it that way, mostly. Your interest in them is solely in their ability to make a play, to live up to a contract, and to be who you want them to be.

So no matter what you think about the world, or whether you agree or disagree with a protest, or even if you understand that the guys on a baseball team are still people, you aren’t interested in hearing about anything but wins and losses, home runs and strikeouts.

That doesn’t mean that they aren’t allowed to be more than baseball players, if that’s what they’re interested in being. Maybe they don’t deserve to make $10 million a year, but they deserve the respect that comes with being more than just a guy in a uniform.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
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Sunday
August 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2197



sunday quick hits


If you think picking six golfers to make the cut is a hard daily fantasy sports endeavor, you need to throw a few bucks on NASCAR and try and get those six guys to all finish the race. Last night, with six laps remaining in the race at Daytona, I was shocked to refresh my DraftKings app and see that I was in 5th place (out of 3,100 fantasy contestants) and winning $500!! It was a fluke, mind you. I know very little about the nuances of NASCAR and even less about plate racing like they had last night at Daytona. A few minutes later, the next refresh had me at.......2,140th place and winning $0. Three of my six guys went out of the race after Tyler Reddick caused a ferocious pile-up and my night was done. Just like that...

The Orioles lost again last night, falling 5-0 to the Blue Jays in Buffalo. The Birds are now 14-18 on the season and starting to quickly slide out of the A.L. playoff race. The big story from the game was Alex Cobb, who might have been making his final start in O's orange. With the trade deadline approaching on Monday, Cobb could be an interesting piece for playoff-hungry teams looking for a decent right-handed starter. There's no telling if anyone's willing to take on his $15 million contract next season, but I'm sure Mike Elias will listen to all offers.

This is how you look when you've just lost a key playoff game 3-1...

I actually watched almost all of the Rockets-Thunder NBA playoff game last night, which Houston won easily to take a 3-2 series lead. A few notes from that game. First, the NBA has done a really good job of putting a shine on the games played in their Orlando bubble. They have virtual fans (real people, watching from home) in the stands on the side of the arena that faces the TV cameras and the lighting is really good for TV, probably because the ceiling is only 44 feet high. Next, has their ever been an elite athlete in a sport not look the part as much as James Harden doesn't look like he'd be one of the five best players in the league? That dude sure can shoot the basketball, though. I know his work on the defensive end of the court isn't great, but there are few guys in the NBA who can light it up offensively like he can.

Glancing through the MLB standings, I see that St. Louis has only played 24 games. Two other teams (Miami, Philadelphia) have only played 28. Everyone else has played 30 or more. There aren't any real shocks as you look through the various division races. Perhaps the Yankees at 17-13 is a bit of a surprise, but they've been crushed by the injury bug over the last three weeks. Oakland's 22-12 record in the West might be a tad surprising, but as we noted a month or so ago in our pre-season predictions, the A's always find a way to hang around, somehow. It's the Braves, Cubs and Dodgers on top in the National League, with the Central Division boasting only one team (Chicago) above .500. I called a Dodgers-Astros World Series before the season started. I'll stay with that, thank you.

I'm excited to report that the worst franchise in the history of sports fell in the NHL playoffs last night, as the Islanders beat the Flyers, 3-1, to take a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Division semifinal in Toronto. The only negative about the NHL playoff bubble is you don't get to see the Flyers lose at home and watch their adoring orange-clad faithful shuffle their way out of the arena with their heads bowed in disappointment. Tampa Bay leads Boston 3-games-to-1 in the other Eastern Conference semifinal.

Earlier this week, I made either my 5th or 6th hole in one when I aced the 3rd hole at Regents' Glen CC in the York (PA) Open. Why was it my 5th or 6th? Because I made one last November in a peculiar fashion that may or may not count, depending on your opinion. My club hosted a popular event called the "Superintendent's Revenge", where the holes are littered with various obstacles, some of the pins are in extraordinarily difficult spots, etc. For example, one hole featured a dozen rakes on the green and you had to navigate your way around them or hit your ball inside all of them to within 10 feet of the hole in order to not have to deal with them. Anyway, the 6th hole at Eagle's Nest CC is a par-3, and the pin/hole that day was actually cut in a greenside bunker. The bunker had been watered down and then flattened nicely, leaving a clay-like "green" in the middle of the bunker with a hole cut out and a pin in place. And...I hit my tee shot into the hole, from 140 yards away, for a "1" on the scorecard. The club announced that I had made a hole-in-one and all, but I never quite fell like it was a real hole in one. So, when people ask me how many aces I've made, I say "Either 5 or 6 now..." At some point, I'm going to make a decision on whether I count it or not just so I don't have to keep saying "5 or 6".

The National League Cy Young Race is going to be a doozy. Yu Darvish of the Cubs won yesterday to improve to 6-1 on the campaign with a sparkling 1.47 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Sonny Gray of the Reds is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Max Fried of the Braves is having a remarkable campaign, with a 5-0 record, 1.35 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. In the American League, it's Shane Bieber's Cy Young to cough up at this point, as the Indians' ace is now 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Bieber also leads all MLB pitchers with 75 strikeouts.

I have no idea what the Orioles are going to do at the trade deadline, but rumors continue to swirl that they're willing to part company with just about everyone on the current roster other than Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander and Trey Mancini. It would be a shame to see the likes of Nunez, Severino and Alberto get shipped off, as they all appear to be the kind of guys you want on your team. They show up every night, play hard, and even occasionally help you win. All three of them are nothing special, obviously. I mean, they're "just guys", basically. But they've carried themselves very well during this Elias-led transition and have been favorable representatives of the organization over the last two years. In a weird way, they probably deserve to be dealt to a better team. I hope they stay, but I'll understand if they're traded.

Speaking of the Orioles, manager Brandon Hyde got grilled pretty hard after Friday night's 5-4 loss to the Blue Jays, where he elected to pitch to Randal Grichuk with two outs (leading 4-3) and first base open. Hyde was also questioned because of the O's two 8th inning base running blunders, where a pair of guys were thrown out trying to steal second base with the game tied at 3-3. I totally understand the logic of beating up Hyde for the Grichuck decision. He's become an Oriole-killer (17 home runs against them in the last three years) of sorts and that situation on Friday night just begged for an intentional walk. But with Vlad Guerrero Jr. up next, Hyde decided to face the challenge head on, which resulted in a game-winning dinger from Grichuk. But the two base running blunders weren't really Hyde's fault. In each situation, he didn't order a steal. On the first one, the Jays sniffed out a hit and run and called for a pitch-out, where they easily nailed the runner at 2nd. And on the other, the pitcher threw one in the dirt and Pat Valaika thought he could snag second base, but Toronto's catcher made a whale of a throw to get the out. I'm not saying Hyde's the next Casey Stengel or anything, but Friday night's loss wasn't all on him. The players on his team helped him lose that game.



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could dustin johnson sweep the playoffs?


Last week Dustin Johnson shot 30-under par to win the FedEx Cup playoff opener in Boston.

This week, with 18 holes remaining, he co-shares the lead with Hideki Matsuyama at 1-under par at Olympia Fields in Chicago.

With a win today at Olympia Fields, Dustin Johnson would be in position to sweep the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Bomber's course...Johnson fits the bill. Difficult track with fast, firm conditions and dried out greens...Johnson can apparently handle that, too.

And if he somehow holds on and wins today in Chicago, Johnson heads to East Lake in Atlanta for next week's TOUR Championship with a real shot at sweeping the entire playoff series in 2020.

By the way, the winner of the FedEx Cup playoffs gets...ready for this? $15 million.

I guess that's one reason to show up and play hard for three weeks, huh?

Johnson might be on the verge of finally breaking through as one of the sport's truly elite players. He's won 22 times and has one major championship (2016 U.S. Open) but he's never really been looked at as the game's best player. Throughout his 12-career, there's been Tiger, Rory, Spieth and Koepka all reigning as the game's best player(s), with those four guys winning 12 major titles during that time. D.J. has always been "great", but he's never been "the greatest".

That could change over the next couple of weeks, particulary when you remember he has the U.S. Open on his schedule in mid-September at Winged Foot, a place where his impeccable skills off the tee will certainly come in handy. Most experts are saying even par or a few over par might win at Winged Foot, which means this week's event at Olympia Fields is looking like a pretty good tune up for Johnson and the rest of the PGA Tour players.

Matsuyama could certainly use a win today. He hasn't won on TOUR in three years. But it's Johnson who has the most to gain by winning this afternoon. He'd become the #1 player in the world and would head to East Lake as the odds-on-favorite to win the FedEx Cup.

Twelve players are at +3 or better heading into the final round, all with a chance to win if they put up a low number today and Johnson and Matsuyama both falter. Among the big names still lurking are Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson and McIlroy, all at 2-over-par and just three shots behind.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Saturday
August 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2196



saturday stuff


It's one thing if you lose a heartbreaker in a 162-game season. It's not a big deal to drop a game or two in the bottom of the 9th along the way, because you always figure at some point the same gate will swing open for you and even the score.

But when you're playing a 60-game thing*, you can't lose many of them that you had locked up or else you're sitting home in October.

Hanser Alberto (right) had four hits for the O's on Friday night in the 5-4 loss in Buffalo to the Blue Jays.

People were comparing Brandon Hyde to Buck Showalter last night after the O's squandered a 4-3 10th inning lead and lost to the Blue Jays, 5-4. Different city, but same opponent, of course, as folks remembered Buck falling asleep in the 2016 wild card playoff game and leaving Ubaldo Jimenez in to serve up the season-ending gopher ball to Edwin Encarnacion.

Last night, Hyde elected to pitch to Randal Grichuk instead of walking him and Grichuk promptly did what we sorta-kinda thought he might do. Grichuk launched a game-winning 2-run homer to straight away centerfield to snatch a win from the O's and drop the Birds to 14-17.

I don't know...

Put Grichuk on via intentional walk, with two outs, and bring up Vlad Guerrero Jr.? Seems about the same as facing Grichuk to me. Plus there's that old baseball 101 manager's guide that says "never put the winning run on base".

If Cole Sulser wouldn't have thrown a strike across the middle of the plate there, the game might have ended in a different way. Grichuk sure does crush the O's, though. Holy cow does that guy feast on Baltimore pitching.

Now, at just past the halfway point of the season, the O's have to start winning some games if they hope to make even a half-hearted run at the post-season. If 14-17 becomes 14-20 by Monday when the Birds leave Buffalo, things will start looking rather bleak.


The Athletics and Astros were scheduled to play a game in Houston on Friday night but it never happened. After suiting up and taking their positions on the field for the top of the first inning, both teams then promptly walked off the field to continue the protest of social injustice that we've seen all week.

They'll apparently play a doubleheader later today in Houston to make up for last night's event/stunt/decision/protest. Pick any of those four words you like.

Two things keep resonating with me as I watch, now, four teams walk off the field just prior to first pitch this week. I asked this yesterday here at #DMD and it still rings true today. Would those teams have done that if fans would have been in the stands, or does the comfort of a Covid-19 thing* allow them to organize and pull off scenes like the one we saw earlier this week in New York and last night in Houston?

And, two, I thought Major League baseball players and teams despised doubleheaders? Isn't that what we've heard time and time again over the years? Heck, I seem to remember a certain team from Chicago not wanting to play a doubleheader in Baltimore back in 2013 that robbed the Ravens of a chance to host a Thursday night season opening game. Remember that? The White Sox were in town for four games but didn't want to play a Saturday or Sunday doubleheader to make up for a Thursday night postponement.

I get it, these are different times. The doubleheader games are 7 innings and the rosters are slightly expanded, but we all know the truth. No one really likes doubleheaders, except the fans, and particularly in this 2020 thing*, teams are faced with playing scores of them in an effort to get the 60-game campaign concluded on time.

And yet, despite the obstacles, teams are willingly playing doubleheaders. It doesn't add up.

It is worth noting that the Astros hadn't played since Tuesday due to Hurricane Laura, so last night's game with the A's was their first chance to join "the movement", as players and organizations are calling it. Fair enough. But what about the A's? Did they have a say? And couldn't the Astros have just said to the rest of the league, "Hey, look, you know we're with you guys on this, but we already postponed two games this week and now we'd really like to avoid missing a 3rd game by sitting this one out tonight"?

That's apparently not something they could have said.


Here's something I've been wondering about over the last few weeks but haven't really published. Until now.

How would our perception of sports be different if every U.S. league would have simply shut down after March 12 and not returned at all until the Covid-19 situation in our country was totally cleaned up?

No baseball, no hockey, no basketball, no football...

How would we all feel if those leagues would have said, "This is just too complicated, too risky and too much for us to take on and still maintain the integrity of our league's competitive balance, history, records and so on."

Would we be going nuts?

Would we be finding other things to watch and do with our time?

You probably know where I'm headed with this. While I don't specifically fit in this category, there are people in our country who have been greatly turned off by the recent posturing within the four leagues as it relates to the social justice climate in the United States. You can see it below in our comments section, if you're looking for a very small sample size of what is happening elsewhere around our nation. People are turned off. People are promoting it. I have no idea if it's half and half, 60/40, 70/30, etc., but there's no doubt a segment of the sports-loving audience in our country is peeling away.

What would have happened if none of these leagues would have played past March 12?

It might not be easy to piece together a tie-in between Covid-19 and social injustice, but there is a connection from a political standpoint. Anyone denying that isn't paying attention.

If you're one of those who have become "turned off" by sports and their mixing of athletics and politics, how would you feel right now if none of the leagues would have started up again? You'd likely be sports-starved and excited about their return, someday down the road.

I'm not blaming everything that has happened in sports on the pandemic, but it sure seems to me like there's been a lot of collateral damage from the virus and sports might be one of the properties most impacted.

Maybe -- just saying...maybe -- the right thing would have been for everyone to just shut down until things got resolved with the virus. No sports at all. I mean, let's be honest, the baseball, hockey and basketball seasons are all basically an asterisk. No one can really take them seriously, what with, in some cases, no fans, no home/away schedule, a "bubble", teams playing in minor league facilities, 7 inning games and so forth. The effort is there, which is appreciated. But the integrity of those three leagues, for 2020, is just about zero.

Football is going to be played without fans in the seats, which robs the whole league of one of its most important elements; battling the away crowd and winning in enemy territory.

It's just a thought. Or, a question, really. In hindsight, given everything that's happened, was it a mistake for the four leagues to play through the virus?



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pga tour: cantlay, rory only players under par


At the 36-hole mark of the PGA Tour's second FedEx Cup playoff event, two players are under par.

That's it.

Patrick Cantlay shares the midway lead with Rory McIlroy at Olympia Fields in Chicago.

And both of those players -- Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy -- are sitting at just 1-under.

Another day of par-is-your-friend took place on Friday at Olympia Fields, as only eight of 69 players broke par and just one player -- Corey Conners -- was able to play a bogey-free round.

The golf course is clearly winning so far this week.

Dustin Johnson continues to play well, as he was one of those with an under par round (69) and last week's winner in Boston is now just one shot behind Cantlay and Rory. First-round leader Hideki Matsuyama produced a solid round of 3-over par to join Johnson at even for the tournament.

Editor's note: When's the last time someone wrote "a solid round of 3-over par" when referencing a PGA Tour event?

It wasn't a great day for Tiger Woods or Justin Thomas. Or many others, for that matter. Woods needed to make a 35-foot par putt on the 18th hole to salvage a round of 75 and Thomas made four straight bogeys on the back nine to shoot 74. Tiger's putting was particuarly troubling, as he missed several putts within the 4-6 foot range early in the round before making a birdie at 17 and the long putt at 18.

Thomas and Collin Morikawa both could have jumped back to #1 in the world with a win in Chicago, but neither of them look like they're going to do that this weekend. Thomas is 7-over par and Morikawa is 9-over through 36 holes.

The top 30 players after this week's event move on to the finale next week in Atlanta. Thomas and Morikawa are locks for next week, but Cantlay, the co-leader, is not. He needs a top 10 finish to move on to East Lake. McIlroy is through no matter his finish at Olympia Fields, but a win this week would put him in position to win the FedEx Cup with a victory in Atlanta.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Friday
August 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2195



what's left to say...or do?


The weirdest summer ever just keeps getting more weird.

Or is it more weirder? I honestly don't know which is correct -- more weird or more weirder. My tattered, coffee stained, 1980's edition of Elements of Style doesn't yield an answer, so I'll just go with "more weird".

Either way, I'm sure you agree. Things these days are just weird.

And here's the ultimate piece of evidence to support just how weird it is in this country on August 28, 2020. I don't even know what to say any longer. Really, I don't.

The Orioles and Rays canceled their game on Thursday, perhaps forgetting that this week's 3-game series in St. Petersburg was the O's only scheduled visit down there during the 2020 thing*. Either they have to make a special trip back for one game (or marry it with a visit to Miami to play the Marlins) or they'll just play the game in Baltimore at some point over the next five weeks. Name another season where a team would just give away a home game? So strange...

A handful of teams played baseball games on Thursday, one day after they decided not to play. Meanwhile, teams that elected to play on Wednesday suddenly realized they were missing out on their own statement, so they didn't play on Thursday. The NBA and NHL didn't play any games on Thursday. The PGA Tour released a statement and then marched on with their event in Chicago.

Confusing? It sure is to me.

Moments after this photo was taken on Thursday evening, the Mets and Marlins both walked off the field and postponed their game in New York.

There was even a basic, beginner's version of a publicity stunt in New York, where the Mets and Marlins got suited up for the game, went out on the field as if they were going to play, stood there for close to a minute, then walked off and didn't play. That was almost as bad as what Kenny Smith did on Wednesday night. He got dressed up and walked on the set at TNT, took his seat, spoke for two minutes, and then left. He literally walked into work just so he could walk out of work -- in front of everyone.

Here locally yesterday, a popular Orioles website, Orioles Hangout, suspended their operations indefinitely. The site's owner, Tony Pente, released this statement on the website Thursday evening.


"I’ve run Orioles Hangout since 1996 and have been a fan of the Orioles since my childhood in the 70s. I’ve loved baseball like I’ve loved no other sport. It is literally part of me.

I’ve run Orioles Hangout as a place where we can get away from everything and just talk Orioles, but the Baltimore Orioles are making sure that can not happen any longer. The Orioles organization have decided that they are now part of the political process and have joined forces with those who want to divide and destroy our country from within.

Today, they decided that they could not play because a resisting man with a weapon, who was going back into a car to potentially get another weapon was shot by the police who had given him many lawful commands to stop.

But, regardless of how I feel about this matter, the main reason is I can no longer run a “politics free” site when the team wants to be neck deep in politics, so I am suspending the site effective immediately.

I have not made a final decision on the future of the site, but for now I will stand with our law enforcement members across this country and stand up to these professional sports leagues that are shoving their political messages down our throats.

All I ever wanted to do is just watch an Orioles baseball game and forget about everything else in the world. We can longer do that and I can no longer bring you a politics free place."


Just as I own this website and can structure it in whatever way I please, Pente has the right to do what he wants with Orioles Hangout. It's his business, after all.

The Ravens released what many people in the country described as a "powerful statement" on Thursday, addressing several key issues they want action on and rededicating their organization to being part of the solution moving forward. Folks on social media applauded them, folks on social media blasted them. Such are the expected results with sensitive subjects like the ones we're confronted with in the summer of 2020.

Early this morning, the Ravens announced they will cancel practice today and hold a team meeting to address the on-going social justice issue.

I wrote here yesterday that I understand the need for athletes to use their forum to address key social justice and equality issues. I do get it. Actors, music groups and other celebrities have long used their status to do the same thing. I can't watch an hour of the Smithsonian Channel without Sarah McLachlin (looking great at age 52, by the way, Sarah!) trying to get me to adopt a dog from Uganda or something of that nature.

But while I understand the need for social justice and the need for newsmakers and celebrities to support their own cause(s), I really don't get this whole "not playing the games" thing. I'm sorry, I just don't get it.

And it's not like I really even have a dog in the hunt as it relates to the interest level of watching baseball, basketball or hockey games. I couldn't care less if the Dodgers beat the Padres or the Tigers beat the Indians. I frankly don't even care all that much if the Orioles beat the Rays. Not during this 2020 thing*, anyway, which is as close to a futile exercise as you can get without actually being, you know, futile.

And I certainly don't give two hoots about the NBA at this point. I've probably watched a total of about 25 minutes of playoff basketball from the Orlando bubble. I have, of course, watched hockey in the last few weeks, but now that the Capitals were (again) eliminated early from the post-season, I'm not all that glued into what's going on in Edmonton or Toronto.

But the players and leagues deciding not to play games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday isn't really going to do much for my own awareness of what's going on in the country. Maybe I'm not their central target. I don't really know who they're targeting, honestly, but maybe it's not the 57 year old middle class white guy in Baltimore. But if they're trying to impact me by not playing baseball last night in St. Petersburg or by not playing hockey last night in Toronto, they're failing.

"Failing" is probably the wrong word there. It would be more accurate to simply say, "they're not reaching me." What the players and leagues are doing isn't really "failure", because they're generating a gazillion dollars of publicity and creating an awareness for issues that are important to them. But they're "failing" to connect with me, let's say.

Oh, and it's probably worth noting that the current climate in professional sports is ripe for these types of "protests" by players and teams because no fans are in attendance. If, for example, there were 23,000 people in New York last night, the Mets and Marlins would not have walked off the field. If the Bucks were hosting the Magic in Milwaukee on Wednesday night in front of 19,000 fans, basketball would have been played.

I'm not sure if that's even germane to anything, but I do think it's a note worth mentioning. Having no fans in the stadium makes it quite easy to just not play or get suited up and then walk off the field.

Here in the Land of Pleasant Living, I would never even consider suspending #DMD as a way of making my own statement, but I understand Tony Pente's position. I believe (I could be wrong on this but I think I'm right) he has a military service background, so the political nature of athletes involving themselves in what some consider "anti-American" values hits closer to home for him than others. And, as I've noted before, he owns his website and can navigate his way through this as he sees fit.

We write about sports here. Most days, we keep it as a topical as we can, although I do have a doozy of a "20-year CD" I'm going to unload on you all in a week or so. One song from each of the last 20 years on one CD. I think you'll love it. As long as you like my kind of music, that is.

Anyway, they played golf yesterday in Chicago. A few players wore social justice messaging on their shoes or clothes, but other than that, it was pretty much business as usual on the PGA Tour during the first round of the BMW Championship. In baseball, the Reds and Brewers felt so strongly about the situation in Kenosha, Wisconsin they didn't play on Wednesday, then both teams teed it up for a doubleheader on Thursday. I don't quite get that, but maybe I'm missing the point. I'm willing to admit in times like these that it could be me who doesn't get it.

In this case, with teams electing not to play games, I most certainly don't get it. I just don't see how that does anything at all, other than garner publicity. But, if garnering publicity is the end mission, they're hitting a grand slam for sure.

People are definitely talking. People are aware. People are standing up for what they believe in, on both sides of the debate.

I keep using the term "slippery slope" when discussing this particular issue because I think that's precisely what it is. It wasn't that long ago that we just went to the games, cheered on the home team, clapped when they did well, booed when they didn't, and got up the next morning to talk about it at the water cooler. Those were good times. Really good times, in fact.

Now, if you don't kneel when the athletes kneel, you're bad. If your team wants to play while the rest of the teams boycott, you're bad. If your teammates wear a social justice message on their uniform and you elect not to, you're bad.

It's a slippery slope.

We're here to talk about it, opine on it and follow along, because it's sports. But I honestly don't know what to say any longer and I certainly don't know what the end result of all of this will eventually be.

Two final things: Teams and leagues should be playing games. Not playing seems counterproductive to me.

I don't know much, but I know those two things.


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a u.s. open breaks out in chicago


Last week Dustin Johnson shot 30-under par to win the FedEx Cup opener at TPC Boston.

Yesterday, three players in the entire field of 69 starters broke par. Three.

Welcome to the U.S. Open before the U.S. Open.

Hideki Matsuyama put together a 3-under par round on Thursday to lead the BMW Championship in Chicago by one shot.

Hideki Matsuyama (-3), Tyler Duncan (-2) and Mackenzie Hughes (-1) were the only guys in red figures on Thursday in Chicago. Scoring was so difficult that one par-3 hole played to a 3.65 average, which means it was essentially a par-4 hole for three-quarters of the 69 player field.

Anyone who shot 5 over or better probably still has a shot at winning, providing they can produce three under-par rounds and get to somewhere around -5 or -6 by late Sunday afternoon.

Matsuyama hasn't won on TOUR in three years. He hasn't played poorly in 2020, mind you. Despite not winning, he started this week in 18th place on the FedEx Cup standings. A top 10 finish this week and he's a lock for next week's playoff finale at East Lake. But a win this week at Olympia Fields means he could be the playoff champion with a win in Atlanta next Sunday.

Tiger Woods was in great shape through 15 holes on Thursday, sitting at even par and on the first page of the leaderboard. He then finished the day bogey, bogey, bogey to slip back to 3-over par. As there's no cut in this event, he'll play all four days, but Woods needs a T4 finish (or better) to secure his spot in the field next week at East Lake.

Scoring was at a premium on Thursday, to say the least. While the players clearly won last week, Olympia Fields is going to win this week. If you're a fan of old-school U.S. Open golf, where the fairways were narrow, the rough was high and pars were actually valued, this is your kind of golf. Birdies will be few and far between, unless tournament officials throw out some easier pin placements and cut down the rough over the weekend.

Personally, I love the kind of golf we're seeing from Chicago. I'm not opposed to the occasional birdie-fest like we saw last week in Boston, but it was kind of boring watching D.J. hit sand wedge into every 440 yard hole. Make it tough on those guys and let's have ourselves a nerve-wracking, par-is-your-friend kind of an event.

Speaking of Dustin Johnson, he's right in the thick of it, at 1-over par. So, too, is Rory McIlroy, who shot even on Thursday. Tony Finau, a player we featured (along with Matsuyama) in one of our fantasy golf teams on Wednesday at #DMD, shot even par along with Rory and several others.

The U.S. Open takes place in a few weeks at Winged Foot.

But for a great preview of what the players will face at the season's second major, check out the golf this weekend from Olympia Fields. If you enjoy seeing TOUR players have to work hard to make par, this is your kind of tournament.

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Thursday
August 27
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#2194



it's all so 2020...


Strange days have found us

Strange days have tracked us down

They're going to destroy

Our casual joys

We shall go on playing

Or find a new town

"Strange Days", by The Doors

These are, for certain, strange days.

And as someone who earns a living thinking about sports, writing about people, opining about moments and occasionally tackling tough, sensitive topics, you probably assume I have multiple candles to burn this morning. I mean, a lot happened yesterday.

I do have some opinions, yes, but I'm not so sure I even understand the complex nature of what professional athletes are going through in the wake of another police-involved shooting of an African American, this time in Wisconsin.

When I first heard the Milwaukee Bucks were boycotting yesterday's NBA playoff game, my knee-jerk reaction was "wrong thing to do." I mean, who does that? Who just says, in the middle of the playoffs (or regular season, as it were in baseball), "we're not playing the game"?

I remember once in Little League (no, not band camp...Little League) my team objected to a rival using a player who had just joined the league a week before after being kicked out of another local league because he falsified his birth certificate. Through our parents, mostly, we elected not to play the game against that team with the new player. "Solidarity", I think we called it. You know what the league did? They issued us a 1-0 forfeit loss and we quickly came to our senses and played a few days later.

The Orlando playoff "bubble" was empty on Wednesday night as three games were canceled after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their game.

Little League circa 1976 and real-life 2020 aren't really connected. My point, I guess, is that the Bucks decided not to play yesterday and instead of being issued a forfeit loss and a 1-0 series deficit vs. the Orlando Magic, the rest of the teams joined them and the NBA playoffs stopped, on a dime, for at least one night.

Strange Days, indeed.

In technical terms, the NBA says they officially canceled all three Wednesday games but the reality is none of the teams were going to play once the Bucks walked off the court in Orlando.

And late Wednesday night, teams and league officials met to decide if, in fact, the entire playoffs would continue. The Los Angeles teams -- Lakers and Clippers -- both reportedly said they were going to leave the playoffs and not continue playing in the Orlando bubble but that was still unconfirmed as of 5:45 AM this morning.

Baseball teams quickly followed suit. The host Milwaukee Brewers decided not to play last night vs. Cincinnati and the Padres/Mariners and Dodgers/Giants games were also canceled.

The NHL playoffs were not impacted on Wednesday and all three games were played; one in Edmonton and two in Toronto. And, just to prove how strange these days are, the hockey league and hockey players got roasted for not joining in and scratching their evening games.

The PGA Tour has a significant playoff event scheduled for today in Chicago. What will they do? Will the event continue? Will any players drop out? Tiger Woods is in the field, needing a T4 finish or better to move on in the lucrative playoff format that concludes next week in Atlanta. Will Woods play today or will he sit out?

I don't know what to make of all of this.

Really, I don't.

I understand the forum the players in all sports own. They've worked hard to reach their various levels of professional status and certainly own the right to express themselves in whatever way they desire. Legally, of course.

But it always feels like the slope is getting more slippery as the years go by and athletes gain more power, mostly because the leagues themselves have become more powerful than they probably should be, if we're being honest.

Case in point: One of the most deadly storms in the history of our country was set to hit overnight in Texas and Louisiana, with millions of people set to be impacted and potentially thousands of lives lost along the way. That story was secondary on Wednesday to the Bucks pulling out of the playoff game and effectively creating a domino effect across the country.

More important? Category 4 hurricane or a basketball game?

Maybe I'm just immersed in my own "sports world", but I was glued to the TV and internet on Wednesday night and as far as I could tell, far more people cared about the Bucks and the Lakers and the Clippers than they did Hurricane Laura.

And I'm certainly not minimizing what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, either. We all agree -- I assume -- that police shootings of that sort need to stop.

Here's what else needs to stop: crime, mistreating other people, not obiding by our simplest of laws, and so on and so on. It very much is a double-edged sword. We want the police to stop shooting folks and the police want their respective jurisdictions to be free of criminal activity. Something has to give and nothing, it appears, is.

And I definitely understand the need for the country to wake up to the issues surrounding police shootings. Those stories are complicated and sensitive, yes, but at their root, an arrest or apprehension should rarely have to involve the use of a firearm. But when you're the officer who feels their life might be in danger...that's where the viscious circle begins.

I'm all for athletes using their status to impact people. I'm a huge fan of Tim Tebow, for example, because he uses his personal forum to showcase the way God and Jesus have impacted him. I, in turn, pass along Tebow's message because it's something I also believe in. So I totally understand the whole "athlete forum" thing.

But I'm not quite sure how basketball and baseball players think they're going to help improve social justice by not playing games they're supposed to play. I definitely understand "power of the media" and all of that and there's no doubt what the Bucks did on Wednesday certainly shook up the sports world. But I have a hard time figuring out how the Bucks not playing is going to impact a police officer in -- pick a place -- Johnson City, Tennessee the next time he confronts an African American who has been involved in a traffic stop or some other police-involved activity.

My guess is we're probably going to find ourselves immersed yet again in another week or two of protests, riots, etc. Whatever you call them is your choice, but that's probably where we're headed over the next ten days. More trouble, more looting, more people getting hurt, etc.

And I don't really know how to stop any of it. Or, I guess, "all" of it.

I wish I could help. I sure would if I could. But in the meantime, I watch others who are trying to help, like the NBA and MLB teams who didn't play on Wednesday and likely won't play today, and I wonder just how, exactly, that's going to help?

If it's just "peace of mind" and by taking a stand, players and leagues feel like they're doing something about police injustice, I understand that. But I still don't see how that really changes anything. I just don't.

And now, here's some of the collateral damage that comes along with a situation like the ones the Bucks created on Wednesday evening.

Any player or team not following along today will have to wear that scarlet letter. You know, the one that shows them as being "non supportive" of the movement. And that certainly isn't fair to those involved who decide to move on and continue playing. But just like the baseball pitcher for the Giants who didn't kneel during the anthem and became "the story", if the Orioles and Rays (example) decide to play tonight in St. Petersburg, they're going to be called out for it. I don't see the fairness in that.

We're now at a phase in our country where you will follow along with the current trend, whatever that might be, or you get labeled as someone "on the other side".

It's all so very strange.

We have an election, a virus, an ever-changing and explosive societal issue and, now, sports teams and leagues who just up and say, "we're not playing tonight".

2020 is a year we will never, ever, ever forget, that's for certain.

My biggest hope is that it somehow gets better instead of getting worse.


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"The Keen Eye" of
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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.


far from the madding crowd


For years now, I’ve been reading about the inconveniences of going to see the local football team in person, at the stadium sponsored by the bank holding company headquartered in Buffalo, strangely. The security is just a huge hassle. Sometimes it seems worse than the airport during the holidays. Get there at 12:15, hope to be in your seat by kickoff. Who needs that?

Some of us, who started as season ticket holders when we were young, aren’t that young anymore. Those steps in Section 528 are pretty steep and narrow. Back in ’96, there weren’t any HDTVs; now, spend a little money and you can watch every NFL game on a device that fits in your pocket.

Speaking of television, there are so many commercial breaks that it makes the in-game fan experience choppy. And speaking of devices, the wi-fi can get a little choppy itself when 70,000 are looking for data at the same time.

And I haven’t even gotten to the parking or the traffic or just the general ancillary costs of it all, none of which are new but all of which seem more ridiculous every year.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have both shared recently that playing golf in front of no fans has been more of an adjustment than they first assumed it might be.

Yup, it’s been a big topic for years now, even before the debacle (well, it WAS on the field, everyone agrees) in London. Paid attendance aside, the actual attendance isn’t what it used to be. How many column inches (sorry, old newspaper terminology) have been devoted to the subject on these pages?

And then came the somewhat inevitable, from the Ravens on Monday. The entire thing took less than 200 words to say. The lede (sorry, more old newspaper terminology)? “After consulting with government officials and public health experts, we will not host fans at M&T Bank Stadium for at least the initial part of the 2020 season.”

What does that mean, “initial part?” Well, the Ravens have four home games before their bye weekend in early November; you’d have to think those would qualify. The team took care to make sure the “at least” was in that sentence too. We’ve seen that from a lot of places recently.

Maybe I’m burying my own lede here, but I’m wondering whether football games are something we’ll rush back to whenever we’re allowed to do so.

We can all spend hours debating the decisions by government officials, whether about the COVID-19 pandemic or anything else. And we can also spend hours talking about public health, though not with the expertise of professionals we see on television or professors at the Bloomberg School here in town. The entire idea of “public health” is a difficult one for many Americans to put their arms around, for better or worse.

Here’s something that’s hard to debate, though. 70,000 people is a crowd. A big one. One that screams and curses and spits and slaps hands and bumps chests, sometimes all at the same time. That’s what makes it great, of course, the tremendous noise all that activity can create.

But now all that activity is seen, by at least a significant percentage of fans, as a danger. With a contagious virus, no matter how you want to talk about it, it’s a numbers game. 70,000 is more than 25,000 (Paul Brown Stadium last year?) is more than 7,500 (the initial number I heard for potential attendance at Ravens’ games this season) is more than 0.

We already have no reason to watch the game with anybody but ourselves, and maybe the people with whom we live under the same roof. With everybody so used to Zoom and Skype, we don’t even need to watch the game with our parents or siblings or cousins or uncles anymore.

And in a few weeks, they’re going to start playing the games, in the actual home stadiums of the home teams, in front of nobody, as if to put the final nail in the coffin of in-person attendance mattering to the outcome or the presentation.

Here’s something funny…the shoe’s on the other foot now a little bit. Ask Tiger Woods, he of the yacht named “Privacy,” the ultra-secret life behind mansion walls and the former caddie who spent every round yelling at people to stop bothering his guy with real and/or imaginary movements.

Here’s some of the things Woods said during his time outside Boston at the most recent FedEx Cup tournament, where he and Rory McIlroy, the two guys who’ve been ranked No. 1 the most over the past 25 years, played out the weekend well outside anywhere that mattered on the leaderboard.

“You don’t have the same type of energy…”

“It’s always been odd when I haven’t played in front of people.”

“Absolutely. I lose some of my advantage without the crowds.”

So Tiger misses the masses, even all of those people constantly reaching over the ropes as he walks from green to tee 16 times per day. You know that LeBron misses the crowds; back before the NBA “bubble” was even a legitimate idea, in the winter, he told somebody in the media that he wasn’t even interested in playing if there were no crowds. Turns out he didn’t really have a choice.

Lamar Jackson is an interesting case. From all accounts, he’s a highlight reel in practice when the only people watching are the coaches and a couple of pool reporters. He doesn’t need oohing and aahing to do what he does, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. And for a guy like him, it happens with the crowds on the road, too.

Think about this. How many games in a row did Ray Lewis conclude pregame warmups by bouncing out of the M&T Bank Stadium tunnel to do his “squirrel” dance? The first couple times he did it, Lewis might have just been having a good time and honoring a guy from his hometown. After that? He did it to pump up the crowd. The crowd wouldn’t let him get away with not doing it; they would have booed him if he said he was tired of it, and nobody around here ever booed Ray Lewis.

The players don’t need the media. In the NFL this year, where reporters aren’t allowed in locker rooms, guys must be jumping for joy. Even the good guys don’t need to be out in public helping the “community” as much as they are sometimes expected to be; they’ve got families and lives of their own. After the game, they probably like it better if nobody’s hanging around looking for autographs and high fives.

During the game, though? They need the crowds. They need them for the motivation, good or bad. As the years go by, injuries pile up and the week-to-week football life starts to get physically difficult, they need them to get excited for the game every week. Lamar knows it, LeBron knows it. Tiger knows it.

What we’ve found out, maybe, is that they need us more than we need them. The game can indeed go on with nobody there watching. What does that mean for us? I have a hard time believing that the exodus from in-person attendance at games won’t continue, long past the time when anyone ought to fear danger in being part of the crowd.

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#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Wednesday
August 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2193



what do we deserve to know?


Last weekend when the Earl Thomas story broke and Lamar Jackson missed two days of practice because of an injury, inquiring minds wanted to know the details of both situations.

There were pressing, legitimate questions.

Who makes up the leadership council that approached Harbaugh about the team's discontent with Thomas?

Did Thomas make any attempt to apologize or otherwise patch things up with Chuck Clark and prominent members of the locker room?

Was there any consideration for trading Thomas? Interested teams? No takers?

How did Lamar injure himself?

Any concerns at all of something that could linger with the Ravens quarterback into the season and beyond?

Predictably, John Harbaugh didn't say much. On either topic. He was as tight-lipped as he could be, essentially offering a cursory, one-sentence reply to the Earl Thomas release and at first saying Lamar was battling some kind of "arm issue" before admitting a day later it was soft-tissue groin strain that was hampering his quarterback.

Some people in town, including my buddy Glenn Clark of Glenn Clark Radio, thought Harbaugh owed the fans (and the media) more of an explanation.

"As far as the situation involving Earl, I think the statement we released says it all. I don't really have anything to add," Harbaugh said.

To some, that wasn't good enough.

If we've learned anything from John Harbaugh since he arrived here in 2008, it's that he generally deals with the media to whatever level he's obligated and doesn't give much more. If the league says the head coach has to meet with the media on Monday and Wednesday, that's what John does. If the league says every head coach has to participate in a national press conference for a minimum of 15 minutes twice a month, Harbaugh does 15 minutes, twice a month, and that's that.

Here's what else we've learned about Harbaugh. If we're being honest, I'd say 90% of of the successful coaches -- in any sport -- probably play by the same protocol. They're never going to say anything that could interfere with their ability to win a game. Harbaugh most certainly believes in that edict. If it's not something that impacts his team's chances of winning or losing, Harbs will talk all day. But if by talking on a subject he could be impacting a win or a loss at some point, he's clamming up.

While that position is admittedly frustrating to the fans and the media, it's also the right stance to take. Coaches aren't judged on their interactions with the media. They're judged on how many games their team wins.

In the case of Thomas, the Ravens were also potentially concerned about litigation down the road. By opting to utilize the "morals clause" in Thomas's contract and thereby denying him money in 2020, the Ravens were opening themselves up to an inquiry from the NFLPA. Anything they say can and will be used against them in the future, particularly when the Thomas situation goes to an arbitrator, which it almost certainly will.

And Harbaugh also knows this: Earl Thomas isn't finished in the NFL. Someone will take him, even, potentially, one of the Ravens' rivals in the AFC North. Thomas will obviously have an axe to grind with the Ravens if he happens to face them again. The last thing Harbaugh wants to do is give Thomas his "Charles Jefferson moment", recalling the scene from the movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High where Jefferson, the school's star linebacker, gets overly-amped for a game against the local rival because he thought they damaged his expensive car.

Harbaugh would prefer to just have Thomas be mad, not really, really mad.

As for Lamar's injury, I think we all know by now there's no way John Harbaugh is going into any detail about a player injury. Do I like the coy, you-know-I'm-fibbing-but-it's-part-of-the-game routine that Harbaugh (and every head coach) goes through as it relates to injuries? Not particularly. But I do get it. There's no sense at all in detailing an injury that, at some point in the season, could be focused on by other teams on your schedule.

The question that my friend Glenn Clark and others brought up is one of "what do fans deserve to know?" and the answer, if we're being totally truthful is "very little". It's one thing if the Ravens make an annoucement about Covid-19 policies. Fans deserve to know all about that stuff. It's one thing if the organization makes prominent changes to tailgating rules or something of that nature.

But when it comes to personnel decisions, injuries, or anything else that could impact the team's ability to win a game or two, the fans don't deserve to know that sort of information. It's important to note the difference between the two. To coaches and players and organizations in general, they're in business to do one thing and that's win games. Win, win, win. If along the way they can bring the fans on the ride and share some experiences with them, that's all well and good. But winning is all that matters to John Harbaugh. Period.

I was on the end of the argument against Harbaugh from 2008 through August of 2014. I would press him on personnel issues or injury news. Most times, I got very little out of him. Once or twice along the way, it caused some friction between the two of us, but I knew that he knew I was just doing my job and he knew that I knew that he was just doing his.

Harbaugh always had -- and still might, to this day -- a certain degree of mistrust with the media. Lots of players do, too. I remember Joe Flacco once saying to me, "This is the worst part of my job because it really has nothing at all to do with my job. I know anything I say wrong makes the headlines and makes me look bad. So I'd rather just go play football and let someone else (in here) talk to you guys." Harbs never voiced that exact sentiment to me, but he bumped around the edges of it enough for me to know he never really likes dealing with the media.

If we're being honest -- those of us with a microphone, keyboard, etc. -- it's morphed into a huge game of "Gotcha!" over the last decade or so. Every press release, every press conference, every tweet, every message. They're all kept. And if there's ever an opportunity for a media member to pull one out and say, "Gotcha!", that's what they're going to do.

"But wait, John. In March of 2019 when the Ravens signed Earl Thomas, you said he was a "leader and a player everyone in the locker room respects". It's right here in the press release. So, if that's the case, what happened? Did you guys make a bad assessment or did Earl change his colors over the last 16 months?"

If Harbaugh says, "Maybe we misjudged Earl's character", it's "Gotcha!" time. "Ahhh, so maybe you and DeCosta aren't as smart as you think you are..."

If Harbaugh says, "Well, to be honest, Earl changed a lot when he was here. He developed some character flaws that we didn't appreciate once they were exposed to us," that statement and those words could certainly be used for motivation by Thomas in future encounters against the Ravens and/or Harbaugh.

This whole thing isn't all the media's fault, but it's close. They (we) have a job to do, sure. And the best ones know how to navigate the slippery slope of digging for information and being respectful of the delicate relationship between the coach, team and media. There's a lot to unpack, let me tell you.

In the end, the Ravens are in business to win football games. Everyone who walks in that building in Owings Mills today is, in some way, in their position to help the team and organization win.

What the fans and media "deserve" along the way is a great topic for discussion.

But...to borrow a phrase from the final courtroom scene in A Few Good Men, John Harbaugh doesn't give a damn what you think you're entitled to.

He's trying to win football games. Anything that gets in the way of that, potentially, is of no use to him at all.


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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.


empty fields


It’s late August and the fields are empty.

There are no football or soccer practices. Not the kind that any former athlete would recognize, at least. No full pads, no contact, no Oklahoma drills. Some of the football players work out in shorts and t-shirts, but there are no full field scrimmages. No 11 on 11 drills for the soccer team. The girls aren’t even allowed to practice field hockey. Here in the Hereford Zone, that’s a big deal. The girls’ varsity team is a perennial state title contender.

All across Maryland, all across these United States of America, there are untold boys and girls waiting for something that likely won’t happen. These are kids who spent their lives playing sports from the earliest levels of recreation leagues until now, dreaming of being a varsity athlete for their high school, proudly wearing the uniform and colors of the teams they watched growing up. Everything they worked for as athletes is now on hold. Probably permanently.

When I was a boy I idolized certain athletes. There were the professionals, of course, but even at a young age I understood just what a long shot a career as a pro athlete was. The guys I really looked up to were the ones I watched on Friday nights in a crowded gym or Saturday afternoons at the high school football field. Because that was a level of competition I knew I could attain. And I wanted nothing more than to be like those guys in eight or ten years. I could work towards that and I could wear that uniform. Then the little boys who came to my games would be looking up to me.

For me, and for most athletes, the varsity level of high school sports is the last level of organized competition. I mentioned here recently that only 7% of all high school varsity athletes will go on to play varsity at any level of collegiate sports. Only 2% will play a varsity sport at the NCAA Division I level. You have to be extremely gifted and extremely dedicated to continue as an athlete for four years in college.

So senior year in high school is a big deal. It’s the last opportunity to create moments and memories that you will carry the rest of your life.

I stopped at our local convenience store on Sunday afternoon to gas up the car and it turned into a small Hereford sports convention. Our boys’ high school varsity basketball coach happened to be there. Then my son Mark rolled in (and yes, I filled his tank too…college kids, what are you gonna do?). Then Big G came along. G is my youngest son Charlie’s best friend. They’re both seniors at Hereford this year.

The conversation was all about Covid-19 and the surrounding uncertainty it’s creating everywhere in society. Mark is a sophomore at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. In the school’s infinite wisdom (or terror), they announced on August 4th that the sophomore class would not be allowed to live on campus this fall. The administration said this was in an effort to “de-densify” the campus to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. (And yes, they really used that word in their explanation).

As a basketball player, this creates quite a few problems for Mark. If the team is working out together, will he be allowed to come to campus and participate? How will he get to know the four incoming freshmen on the team? Will he be allowed to practice with the team beginning October 15th? What about his fellow sophomores on the team who don’t live as close to campus as he does? How will they stay involved? I’m fairly certain the administration at F&M isn’t prepared to answer those questions.

I asked Coach what he was hearing about all Baltimore County high school sports, not just basketball. Nobody seems to have a plan. Not with the county Board of Education and not with the MPSSAA. There’s some thought that in January, if schools reopen for in person classes, they would try to fit all the sports seasons in without any overlap.

Color me cynical, but I think that’s going to be awfully difficult to execute. Football in January and February with no real practice leading into it? And what about weather? Basketball and wrestling in March and April and maybe even May? Would spring sports be played until July? This all seems highly unlikely.

And poor Big G. He’s one of the sweetest kids you could ever know. He’s an immensely gifted football and lacrosse player. He has a lot of schools expressing interest in him, some for football and some for lacrosse. He’s definitely a 7 percenter. He’s 6”4” and 210 pounds and still growing. Any college coach could look at him and envision what he’ll be like physically in two or three years and know he could help the team. Big G has played both sports at the varsity level at Hereford since his sophomore year. He’s as legitimate a prospect as you’ll find in Baltimore.

So we asked him what he was thinking, what sport would he likely pursue? And due to the coronavirus, football is probably out. The fields are empty, remember? There won’t be any Friday nights this fall under the lights on top of the hill at Hereford. No more opportunities to showcase his skills at defensive end and tight end. No more tape to send to coaches. No more football memories. So it appears that he’ll pursue lacrosse in college. Those coaches have been able to watch him play and to keep in touch.

But here’s the thing, and this is where all of my questions are heading: Big G has been playing showcase lacrosse tournaments for the past two months. Charlie has been playing AAU basketball for the past two months. Kids all over the region are competing in travel baseball, girls’ lacrosse and basketball and field hockey. I see it all over my social media timelines. Baltimore County Parks and Recreation has announced that there will be fall sports.

And yet, the fields are empty.

Why?

To borrow a line from our site host, I’m just a dummy from Towson, so this is very confusing for me. I was lucky to get C’s in any and all science and math classes (in all honesty, I didn’t exactly apply myself). I don’t do politics or religion as a matter of personal choice. I’ve got mine, you’ve got yours, let’s agree to disagree and just move along. I’ve done my best to adhere to the advice given over these past five months, and so far, it seems to be working out for me. After all, I’m alive enough to write this. And I’m certainly not trying to minimize the seriousness of the pandemic. The death toll is sobering and staggering.

So in an effort to better understand the reasoning behind these decisions to simply postpone or cancel these high school seasons, I thought I would do a little research on the coronavirus and the morbidity rates. What I’m seeing makes me even more confused.

According to the CDC website, from February 1st to August 15th this year, there have been 320 deaths nationally from coronavirus for the ages of 0-24. Again, I am admittedly bad at math, but that is an approximate mortality rate of .0018 nationally. The last time I checked, most high school and college kids fell into that age range. That’s a lower average than Chris Davis batting with runners in scoring position (Heyyyoooooo!).

Here in Maryland, there has been 1 death between the ages of 0-19, out of a confirmed 11,062 cases in that age range. If you scroll down the State of Maryland’s Coronavirus website, you’ll see the vast percentage of deaths occur from 70 years old and up. In fact, as of this writing, 70.2% of all deaths in Maryland are from that demographic. All this confirms what we’ve known for several months: This virus is extremely dangerous to the elderly and to those with underlying health conditions.

I understand that by now, we can cherry-pick from all sorts of different articles and websites to support our arguments as to whether or not schools should be open and kids should be playing sports. It’s easy to search the internet for articles and charts and statistical data to validate our viewpoint. So I’ve spent the past several hours surfing various links for data on coronavirus and the demographics for 0-25 years old.

Because I don’t want to bore you or to wind up writing a graduate level thesis on something I don’t really understand, it appears to me that the following numbers are generally agreed upon: Children are only half as likely to become infected with the virus as adults (30 years old and up). Among people between the ages of 10-19 infected with coronavirus, only 21% show any symptoms, compared with 69% of people aged 70 and older who become infected. Please note that this statement is made after reading way too many articles and charts and should not be construed as an absolute.

Personally, I know of two young adults who had coronavirus. One is a 21 year old college student who was studying last year in Barcelona, Spain. In March she was infected. She spent two weeks at home in quarantine and was extremely sick. When I saw her on the Fourth of July, she was fully recovered, but she told me she still had no sense of smell.

The other is a 17 year old young man who plays hockey. He was tested along with all of his teammates as they prepared for preseason training in late July. He was completely asymptomatic. It stunned him to learn he had the coronavirus. But he followed protocol and quarantined for two weeks. Today, he’s back on the ice.

Two young adults, both completely healthy, with two extremely different reactions to the virus. It’s all so crazy. But the common denominator is that they’re both alive and healthy, and that they didn’t infect anyone in their families.

In sports we use numbers to gauge ability and identify long-term trends and probabilities. There are batting averages and free throw percentages and earned run averages and conversion rates on third down with less than three yards to go. The really intense numbers crunchers have created a whole new universe of statistical analysis to evaluate every player, every situation and every possible outcome. People a whole lot smarter than me, who get paid a whole lot more than me, use all of these formulas and data to draft players, coach games, and build entire professional sports organizations.

After five months of any sports season, the numbers add up and even the most casual observer will have an idea of whether a player is “good” or “bad”. That’s why we keep statistics. They ultimately support decisions that coaches and front offices have to make in order to sustain success. Their jobs depend upon those decisions. The numbers matter.

Yet here we are, five months into this season of Covid-19, and we’re not following the numbers at all. I just cited the two most basic percentages to support my argument that kids should be playing sports. I don’t need to go all sabermetrics here and delve into underlying health conditions or race or gender. While you can argue that I’m using a broad brush approach with the numbers, you would also have to agree that school administrations are doing the exact same thing. Except I don’t think they’re looking at those 0-24 age group demographics.

The cynical old man in me is saying that we’re not following the numbers at all, that we live in a country dominated by lawyers and insurance companies and fear of liability and litigation. After all, for every event Charlie plays in, I have to sign a waiver for him, and for me if I’m allowed inside to watch. We have our temperatures checked, we wear our masks, we keep our physical distance, the games are played, and we leave.

The sympathetic old man in me sees the death toll and the spread of the virus and feels compassion and a sense of helplessness. I don’t want to be so selfish and hardhearted when I only want to see all the kids have some sense of normalcy in their lives, including sports. It’s a deep dilemma. Some days it doesn’t feel as if there’s ever going to be a compromise.

And if I contract the coronavirus, how am I supposed to know exactly where and when I did? What organization or entity could I possibly hold responsible? I work, I stop at the gas station, I go to the grocery store, I perform a lot of normal everyday acts that we all do. If I did get coronavirus, there’s simply no easy way to trace how and where I was infected.

For the past two months, Charlie and I have been traveling around the region for AAU basketball. The weekends aren’t the same, the tournaments aren’t the same, and the time of year most definitely isn’t the same.

At several of the venues, no spectators have been allowed inside. We have been forced to pay to livestream the games while sitting in the parking lot. Several hundred feet away, our sons are competing, sweating and banging into opponents and breathing on other kids while playing basketball. Those kids are from New Jersey or Scranton or the DC suburbs or Western Pennsylvania. They play three or four games in several hours. They’re hot and sweaty and hungry and exhausted when it’s over. They’re not even allowed to shake hands with the other team at the end of the game.

And then Charlie gets in the car with me and we drive home. Think about that for a minute.

While I admit that I’m selfish and biased in this argument because I have a son who is going to play college basketball, and two current college athletes whose seasons are in limbo, I know that I would still be wondering why and how these decisions are being made, even if I wasn’t a sports parent.

Are administrators doing a deep dive into the metrics of the coronavirus? With all the data available, are the governing bodies following what the numbers and percentages are showing after five months? Why are some collegiate conferences going to play football and others aren’t? How can universities have 30,000 students living on campus but not allow sports to be played? Is that somehow riskier than living in a dormitory?

My oldest son Thomas is a senior at Westminster College in northwest Pennsylvania. He and his soccer team are practicing, even though their season has been delayed until next spring. He’s eating in the cafeteria and working out in the weight room and going to classes. The school has instituted protocols to help mitigate the chances of contracting the virus, but what’s the difference between New Wilmington, Pa. and, say, College Park? Or State College? Or Ann Arbor? The students are all between 18 to 22 years old on every college campus in this country.

College athletes all over the country are doing the same things, all while wondering about eligibility and seasons in limbo, with no answers in sight, only more and more questions as the days pass.

Likewise, the young men and women playing in different tournaments have no idea whether they’ll get the chance to have a senior year at their high schools. They keep practicing, they keep working out on their own time, they keep hoping they’ll have a season. I’m hoping they do too.

For now, though, here in Maryland, there won’t be any games this fall. And maybe not this winter or next spring, either. All the seniors who just want one final season in their schools’ uniforms won’t be allowed to play. Their chance for one last season, one lasting memory, might never come.

All across the land, the fields are empty. And I can’t help but wonder why.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

fantasy golf - bmw championship


Now it's starting to get fun. Only 70 players remain alive in the FedEx Cup playoffs on the PGA Tour and the last two events are no-cut affairs, so everyone gets to go 6-for-6 in terms of players entered/players making the cut.

We had a decent week at TPC Boston, with our two published teams here going 4-for-6 and 6-for-6. The team that went 4-for-6 (which, in fantasy golf, almost always get you no return payout) saw the two most unlikely candidates miss the cut; DeChambeau and Morikawa. That's golf, as they say.

Because there's not much professional history at Olympia Fields -- site of this week's BMW Championship -- you either have to go on current form or put stock in a decade or so of college golf tournaments that were played at the course recently. Cameron Champ and Matthew Wolff are just two of the TOUR's younger players who won college stroke play events at Olympia Fields.

We're going to put most of our action on current form and who might fit best with the length of Olympia Fields. It's a long golf course, although a guy like Brendon Todd, who hits it nowhere by TOUR standards, seems to compete well week-in, week-out, even on those 7,400 yard tracks.

As always, we'll give you two teams to ponder and another dozen players to mix and match as your salary cap will allow.

After missing the cut last week in Boston, Collin Morikawa heads to Chicago well rested and ready to contend for another title.

It's hard to imagine Collin Morikawa playing poorly two weeks in a row. Maybe last week was just a by-product of the whirlwind nature that comes with winning a major title, which he did three weeks ago at the PGA. But we're back on the Morikawa horse this week and not ashamed to admit it. This kid's a complete gamer. Don't be surprised if he wins. Morikawa costs $9,500.

If length matters, few on the TOUR can match what Tony Finau can do off the tee. He's a signature player on the PGA Tour but he doesn't yet have a signature win. That could change this week. At some point, he's going to rid himself of those Sunday jitters and close one out. We like his chances this week and at $8,700, he's a great fantasy investment.

A few of our players this week are admittedly "gambles", but they're based largely on the idea that really good players don't stay in a funk too long, so that's why we're playing Hideki Matsuyama. He's plenty long enough off the tee and his iron game is typically a strength. He hasn't won in three years. Seems crazy, right? A player with that much talent not winning in three years? His recent form hasn't been all that great. This is a flyer, for sure, but we're thinking Matsuyama gets in the thick of it in Chicago. He costs $8,500.

If you read #DMD regularly you know we're huge Matthew Wolff fans and we're running him back out there again this week at $8,200. Wolff has played very well since the re-start and does have a history of success at Olympia Fields back when he was in college at Oklahoma State. This could be his big moment this week.

At some point soon, Russell Henley is going to win a big tournament. We want him on our team when he does, and we have a suspicion this event at Olympia Fields could be his week. He's a $7,800 investment.

We also think Adam Hadwin could sneak up and contend this week in Chicago. Hadwin has, statistically, enjoyed the best season on TOUR of anyone who hasn't won a golf tournament. All he needs is a good week with the driver and he's in the hunt. Every other part of his game seems locked in. He costs $7,100.

That team comes in at $49,800.

Our other team consists of Justin Thomas, who might be motivated by watching Dustin Johnson climb back to #1 in the world with last week's win in Boston, Bryson DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields in 2015, Kevin Kisner, who doesn't hit it terribly far but can wedge it around the greens better than anyone out there, Lanto Griffin, who has been very steady since the re-start, Kevin Streelman, who seemingly piles up Top 20's the way Chris Davis piles up strikeouts and Harry Higgs, who has enjoyed a very successful under-the-radar campaign and needs a good finish in Chicago to advance to the TOUR Championship next week.

That team comes in at $50,000 on the nose.

Others to consider: Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger, Harris English, Billy Horschel, Abraham Ancer, Cameron Champ, Corey Conners, Mark Hubbard, Danny Lee, Maverick McNealy and Dylan Frittelli.

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Tuesday
August 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2192



quick hits


No one should be surprised by the Ravens' announcement yesterday regarding attendance at home games. They are saying no fans will be permitted at the stadium for the "initial part" of the 2020 campaign. My team source says it will be through at least October. The Dolphins, meanwhile, announced yesterday they're going to allow 13,000 fans into their games initially. I know what you're thinking because I immediately thought the same thing: Isn't 13,000 their normal attendance in Miami anyway?

As for the Ravens, I knew it was coming. You knew it was coming. And yet, it still seems sad that here we are in September (by the time football begins) and we're still being held hostage by Covid-19. One thing for sure: The games are going to be weird in Baltimore without fans in the seats.


Doesn't it seem like the sport of professional tennis just disappeared from the planet? I get it, Covid-19 has taken its toll on everyone and everything, but tennis has gone completely silent, it seems.

It almost feels like golf and auto racing haven't missed a beat, once they returned from their respective shutdowns. I don't know about NASCAR, but I think it's very safe to argue that the actual quality of golf without fans is an improvement over the golf we see with fans in attendance. More peaceful, less obligations, easier to move around the course and practice, etc. Dustin Johnson said last Tuesday that golfers perform better with fewer distractions. It will be interesting to evaluate the NFL's quality of play in the stadiums where spectators aren't allowed in.


I'm no NBA expert, as I've said often here, but I still say Miami has a decent chance of reaching the Eastern Conference final. They dismantled poor Indiana in four straight games.

I guess it's just a coincidence, but it was pretty cool last night to see the Lakers beating Portland, 24-8, in the first quarter. Yesterday was Kobe Bryant's birthday. Kobe wore 24 and 8. I know it was a coincidence but it was still neat to see the scoreboard: 24 and 8. You think Kobe was watching from up there? Apparently he was.


Will 2020 be the year Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers finally get earn elusive World Series trophy?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are sure looking like a World Series team at this point. It figures, right? The one year when there's not a real "season" is going to be the one when they win the World Series.

The baseball thing* is a borderline farce at this point. The Yankees and Mets haven't played since last Thursday. The Cardinals have played 17 games, total. There's almost no doubt, unless tripleheaders become the norm in September, that several teams are likely only going to play 55 games instead of 60. And somehow, that will be deemed "fair".


Phil Mickelson shot 61 yesterday in his Champions (Senior) Tour debut, but that doesn't mean he's giving up on the PGA Tour. Mickelson just had the chance to make some free money this week after he missed out on the FedEx Cup event in Chicago. The Champions Tour wisely scheduled an event that started on Monday this week to avoid competing with their own FedEx Cup product this weekend. And it also opened the door for a marquee name like Phil to tee it up when he didn't qualify for Chicago.

Mickelson probably won't play much on the Champions Tour initially, but when he eventually does, he'll be a wrecking ball on that circuit. He'll eat those shorter courses alive. Yesterday he drove a 350-yard par-4 with the ease of you and I hitting a wedge onto the green from 110 yards away.


Speaking of golf, the U.S. Open is a month away at spectator-less Winged Foot. If you can get a win-wager down on one of these three players, go do it now: Daniel Berger, Webb Simpson and Russell Henley. Simpson will be a popular pick by mid-September. He's having a tremendous year. Berger is quietly emerging as one of the 10 best American players in the game. Henley just needs a breakthrough moment to solidify himself as a top player. The former University of Georgia product could be a real threat at Winged Foot.

It's going to be odd-but-fun to watch the U.S. Open and Masters in "off-season months" (September and November). There will be a number of storylines at Augusta National in a few months; Rory going for the career grand slam, Tiger going for major win #16 and guys like Rahm, DeChambeau and Fleetwood trying to break into that major winner's circle. How the players react to a spectator-less Augusta National will be interesting. Rory mentioned over the weekend at the event in Boston that he's still getting used to the quiet nature of current tournaments.


Rumors are flying around that the Capitals are interested in Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.

I previewed Laviolette here yesterday at #DMD. He's one of the natural possibilities for the Caps, who fired Todd Reirden on Sunday after the Caps were eliminated by the Islanders, 4-games-to-1. I don't have a dog in the hunt, but I'd like to see Laviolette get the gig in D.C.


What's more impressive in baseball? Winning 300 games as a pitcher or hitting 500 home runs as a hitter?

If you base both accomplishments on 20-year careers, pitchers would have to average 15 wins per-season to reach 300 and hitters would have to hit 25 home runs per-campaign to reach 500. When you put it in that context, 25 homers per-year over 20 seasons seems more impressive/difficult. But in this era of pitchers and relief specialists, winning 300 games seems like something that might not ever happen again. Justin Verlander has 226 wins to lead all active pitchers. Can he win another 74 games? Seems unlikely.


Last night's Lakers-Portland playoff game was a blowout, with the Lakers opening a 3-1 series lead with a 135-115 win. LeBron and Company led the game by 36 points with 8 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

If you're looking for another reason for basketball (pro and college) to use the "Elam Ending", last night's game was a great example. The game was over in the 3rd quarter. They should just play the pro game to 100. First one there wins. Play the college game to 77. First one there is your winner. (Yes, I realize it might take some Big Ten programs 50 minutes -- instead of 40 -- to reach 77 points.)


I know some of you have cut the cord with cable TV and all so in case you didn't watch the 11 pm news last night, here's a quick playoff hockey update for you.

Islanders 4 - Flyers 0. That "0" next to the Flyers represents the total amount of goals they scored. It also represents the number of Stanley Cup titles they've won since 1975. (*snicker*).


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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.


"a man's reach should exceed his grasp"


wrote poet Robert Browning, "Else what's a heaven for?"

A woman's reach should also exceed her grasp.

Sophia Popov won the Women's British Open at Royal Troon last weekend. She shot a final-round 68 to finish seven under par, two shots ahead of Thailand's Jasmine Suwannapura. The 27-year-old is the first German woman to win one of golf's major championships.

If you, like this writer, are afflicted with chronic subcanineophilia [an incurable love of the underdog], the story of how Frau Popov came to hoist the trophy will bring tears to your eyes, just as it did for her when she briefly lost her composure on the 18th green on Sunday and had to be brought back from a crying jag by her boyfriend/caddy to hit the final tap-in putt and then go grab the winner's check.

Popov was born in the U. S. to an American mother and German father. She lived in the States until moving to Germany with her family at age four. She holds dual citizenship and competes for Germany. She played college golf at USC. After graduation she tried to qualify for the LPGA Tour each year but never quite made it. From 2016 to 2020 she played on the Symetra Tour, the ladies' equivalent to the men's Korn Ferry Tour.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour shut down. Popov scratched around for tee times and found the Cactus Tour, a mini-tour in Arizona, still in operation. She recorded her first professional victory in April, 2020 at the Union Hills Cactus Tour stop #14, cashing for $6,650. She won twice more on the Cactus Tour in the next month.

Still seeking paydays, she traveled to the Inverness Club to caddy for her good friend Ann van Dam in the first LPGA event to be held after the Covid break. While pulling Ms. van Dam's clubs in her own pull cart [a TiCad Pro, the Rolls Royce of trolleys], she learned that, because many international players would not be traveling, her entry would be accepted for the next LPGA event, the Marathon Classic.

Danielle Kang won the Marathon Classic, shooting a 15-under 269. Sophia Popov shot 277, which put her in an 11-way tie for ninth place. Because she was the highest ranked [#304 in the world] not otherwise qualified for the next week's Women's British Open, the top-ten finish earned her a spot in the championship.

She made the most of it. The photo above, made I think by a member of the R & A, captures in Ms. Popov's release the elemental essence of sports. How many times must she have been told by well meaning family and friends over the years that golf wasn't meant to be her career? Was she never discouraged by being unable to afford a caddy, and having to drag [or push] her sticks around in a trolley similar to the one my 88-year-old mother used? Was she unaware she was supposed to transform herself into a walking billboard, hawking products that would pay her for the number of tenths of a second their logos were shown on TV?

I doubt she cares about any of this. The world will come to her for the immediate future, then life will move on. In good German style she drank a Pils lager from the trophy, eschewing Champagne, and I'll bet that sour beer tasted better than anything made from the grape.

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Champions League Final Recap


The Champions League concluded on Sunday with an entertaining final that showcased the high quality of the two domestic champions. A frenzied first half saw each side produce multiple scoring chances. The game settled down a bit in the second half, but a Bayern Munich goal led to a dramatic finish with the Germans holding off Paris St. Germain for a 1-0 win, the sixth Champions League trophy for the storied club.

In the early minutes of the game the Bayern high press forced PSG into several turnovers in dangerous areas. The French side initially tried to pass their way through the middle of the press but found little success. They were quickly forced to adjust their approach to play over the top and through the wings to avoid playing right into Bayern’s hands.

After surviving the early scares from Bayern, PSG produced a clear chance for Neymar from a counterattack in the 17th minute, but Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer made a nice save to stop the shot.

Several minutes later, Bayern nearly opened the scoring, when an Alphonso Davies cross found Robert Lewandowski in the penalty area who then produced a difficult turnaround shot to beat the keeper only to see the ball bounce out off the post. PSG quickly generated another good chance from a quick build up that found Angel Di Maria in the box but he struck his shot over the goal. In the 30th minute, a cross from Thomas Muller again found Lewandowski in the six yard box, but the snap header from the Bayern striker was parried away by a quick reflex save from keeper Keylor Navas.

PSG then created another decent look for Kylian Mbappe, who couldn’t generate enough power on a shot that was easily saved. In the final moments of the half, Bayern winger Kingsley Coman got by PSG right back Thilo Kehrer and went to the ground looking for a penalty but the referee judged there was no foul, concluding an eventful but scoreless half.

The second half began with the sides alternating possession without building any scoring chances. This spell was broken in the 58th minute when Bayern midfielder Thiago struck a beautiful pass from the center circle that beat several lines of PSG defenders. That was followed by a quick passing sequence from Bayern to set up a Joshua Kimmich cross from the edge of the box which found an unmarked Coman at the back post.

Coman finished the move with a strong header to give the German side a 1-0 lead. PSG saw a good chance to even the score in the 69th minute, when a clever pass from Di Maria set up Marquinhos in the box, but they were again denied by a sprawling Manuel Neuer save. From this point on, Bayern tightened up defensively and implemented some physical play on the PSG attackers to throw them off their game. This largely prevented PSG from building productive attacking chances for much of the remaining game, neutralizing Neymar and Mbappe.

However, in injury time Mbappe managed to find some space on the left side and he played Neymar into the box. Unable to get a clear shot, Neymar pivoted and passed across the six yard line looking for substitute Eric Choupo-Moting, but he was unable to get a foot on it and Bayern hung on for the win.

In the end this was an evenly played match between two high quality opponents.

Bayern’s midfield and Neuer’s heroics were the decisive factors in the German victory. For me, Neuer was the man of the match for keeping a clean sheet by making several tough saves and distributing the ball effectively against the PSG press. A good shout could be made for Thiago, Kimmich or Muller as well.

Thiago’s control and passing gave Bayern the upper hand in dictating the game and the outstanding defensive effort of Muller and fellow midfielder Leon Goretzka was pivotal in preventing PSG from finding space for their talented attackers to operate. It was a fitting conclusion for Bayern, who capped off an extraordinary year as champions of Europe for the sixth time.

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

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Monday
August 24
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#2191



just like joe clark, harbs isn't messing around


When Joe Clark took over as principal at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey in the early 1980's, most folks thought his act was mainly bravado.

But Clark kicked out -- as he said -- "all of the miscreants" and the school eventually became a national story, with Morgan Freeman starring in the film and playing Joe Clark.

There was a scene in the movie where one young female student watches Clark discipline a bunch of bad apples and says to her friends, "Mr. Clark don't play..."

Neither, apparently, does John Harbaugh.

John Harbaugh and the Ravens surprised some people on Sunday when the organization released safety Earl Thomas. "There's not much to say about it," Harbaugh explained to the media.

Two days after a training camp fight involving Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark, and one day after Thomas posted a social media message with video of the practice and the blown coverage that initiated his dispute with Clark, the veteran safety was released on Sunday. In a brief statement, the Ravens said they released Thomas due to "conduct detrimental" to the organization.

That's an important stipulation because the Ravens will be able to strip some of Thomas's guaranteed monies from him. Thomas and the NFL Player's Association will file a grievance, which likely won't be heard until season's end, but no matter the result, Thomas is unemployed and the Ravens sent a loud and bold message to everyone in their locker room: Stay in your lane or face the consequences.

The decision was actually a fairly easy one for Harbaugh and Eric DeCosta. Early Saturday, the team's veteran leadership council told Harbaugh the players felt like Thomas needed to be released or traded. Even though they likely didn't understand the financial and salary cap ramifications of such a move, the very thought of the players joining together and urging the club to let a veteran player go three weeks before the season starts was a massive red flag for Harbaugh.

Once the leadership council told Harbaugh of their wish, he was in a corner. Support the leadership council and lose a high quality on-field performer? Ignore the council and try and patch things up between Thomas and the rest of the team?

It wasn't that hard for Harbaugh to make the call. He didn't have a choice. Leadership council wins. Earl Thomas loses.

If Harbaugh would have ignored the council, he would have risked losing the locker room. Or, at the very least, he would have effectively neutered the council and stripped it of any value.

I've said and written this several times in the last two days. When the players turn on another player, you know it's bad. Players support players to a fault. It's rare that a veteran player ever gets thrown under the bus by his teammates and coaches. So whatever it was that Thomas had done over the last 16 months in Baltimore, it must have been really unsettling for the players to approach Harbaugh with their desire to have him removed from the locker room.

This had been brewing for a while, mind you. It wasn't just a Friday afternoon training camp fight that landed Thomas in the unemployment line. It was, as the old saying goes, simply the straw that broke the camel's back.

What's this do to the Ravens and their hopes for a Super Bowl season in 2020? Not much, if you're asking my opinion on it. Thomas was once a great player who had lost a bit of his fastball over the last year or two. He was still highly capable, mind you, but he wasn't the Earl Thomas of 4 or 5 years ago. And with that, the Ravens will be just fine with Thomas gone and DeShon Elliott taking over his role at safety. They have plenty of secondary quality -- Smith, Humphrey, Clark -- to soften the blow of losing Thomas.

I might be in the minority with that opinion, by the way. Social media lit up on Sunday with blistering takes from Earl Thomas defenders. A lot of people believe the Ravens took a major step back by letting him go on Sunday. I say it should be treated like an ACL injury: "Next Man Up" and move on from there. If Earl Thomas would have torn his ACL in practice, I'd be reacting the same way I am after his release yesterday.

This move on Sunday also likely puts an end to any speculation that the Ravens might be interested in mercurial (and suspended) wide receiver Antonio Brown. The message from Harbaugh and Co. is clear now: "We're no longer taking on lepers in Baltimore..."

I have no idea how many teams in the NFL utilize some kind of "council" like the Ravens have, one where players are given the liberty of voicing their opinion(s) on a variety of subjects. It takes a powerful and well-balanced head coach to allow his players that sort of special freedom. Give Harbs credit on this one: He gave them the power and then stood by them when they put it to use. Some coaches wouldn't have done that. Check that: Most coaches wouldn't have done that.

The Ravens' 2020 season will not be dictated by the loss of Earl Thomas. They're far too talented for that. Now if Lamar Jackson goes out for some length of time...that's a different story.

But for now, all's well that ends well. Harbaugh isn't messing around. Neither are the players, it would appear. Everyone won on Sunday except for the guy who got sent packing.


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monday stuff


So the Caps did the expected on Sunday and fired head coach Todd Reirden. There was zero surprise, obviously. Reirden lost in the first round of the playoffs last season and again in the shortened 2020 NHL campaign.

Now what?

One would think the Capitals top coaching job is still an attractive NHL gig. You still have 2 or 3 years of high-quality Ovechkin left. The roster is decent enough to compete next season, even if Holtby is gone, as most expect he is.

Todd Reirden was relieved of his coaching duties by the Caps on Sunday.

But there's no arguing that the Caps "window" is closing, and perhaps more rapidly than the organization would like to admit. With the emergence of both the Flyers, Islanders and Hurricanes over the last two years, the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference aren't getting any easier. While veteran free agents probably still see Washington as a viable option, you might not get any of them to sign on for more than a couple of seasons. Once Ovechkin's gone, a total rebuild will likely be in order.

So who might emerge as the Caps' new coach? Try these three names on for size.

Lane Lambert -- He's currently with the Islanders and was part of the Caps coaching staff during the 2018 Stanley Cup title run. If Ted Leonsis and Company are looking for someone familiar with the players and their style(s), Lambert seems like a reasonable consideration. If the organization wants a complete fresh start, they might shy away from Lambert. But given the success of both Trotz and the Islanders, the Caps might want to give Lambert a long look.

Gerard Gallant -- Gallant was the coach in Las Vegas before they shockingly canned him while the team was 24-19-6. That might be a red flag worth raising and researching. Why would a coach two seasons removed from making the Stanley Cup finals be jettisoned mid-season with his team five games over .500? Gallant is a good coach, though, and most NHL observers believe he'll receive extensive consideration by Leonsis.

Peter Laviolette -- He's made three Stanley Cup Finals appearances -- with three different organizations, mind you -- and won the title with the Hurricanes back in 2006. His coaching style preaches defense, though, which potentially might not sit well with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and others. But there's no arguing with the man's success. Went to Carolina, they won the Cup. Went to Philly, they made a Finals appearance. Moved on to Nashville, they made it to the Finals, too. His name will be circulating in D.C. over the next few weeks.


Dustin Johnson shot 30 under par to win the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs at TPC Boston on Sunday. Johnson has now won 22 times on TOUR and woulda, shoulda, coulda won another 10 if had a closer's game. If he keeps playing like this for another decade, the now 36-year old might pass Phil Mickelson (44 wins) on the career wins list. Johnson is really, really good.

His biggest fault -- other than iffy play on Sundays occasionally -- has always been his putter. TOUR players like to call it "streaky", which is a form-fitting description of D.J.'s work with the flat stick. When he's "just OK", he meanders around in 68 or 69 shots, occasionally losing interest and throwing a 73 or 75 in there for good measure. But when he's rolling it well -- the good end of "streaky" -- he's the most dangerous player alive. His ability to drive the golf ball long and straight is unmatched. He may not hit it 375 like DeChambeau is doing these days, but he's far more reliable with the big stick than is Bryson. Johnson is the best overall driver of the ball since Greg Norman had his run in the '80's and '90's.

The biggest missing piece of his career arsenal continues to be major championships. Dustin has just one (2016 U.S. Open) and, even worse, he's thrown away enough majors to make Nicklaus and Tiger weep. But Johnson has something going for him that most others don't. He can win on any surface, any course, any continent and so on. That he hasn't yet won a Masters, PGA or British Open is puzzling, but he has the game to navigate all three of those majors successfully. His carefree, almost-not-paying-attention-to-how-good-he-is kind of style adds even more intrigue to Johnson's game. You can never tell if he's 2-over or 8-under.

For a player that some golf experts say "isn't a winner", he sure does win a lot. 22 times so far, in fact. With a lot more to come in the future.


Speaking of the FedEx Cup, the next two weeks are going to be well worth watching if you're a golf fan. The field has been reduced to 70 players as they head to Chicago for the penultimate event of the season (although the U.S. Open is coming up...weird, right?).

Some big names in golf didn't make it to Chicago. Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka (injured) are five major champions who didn't qualify for the second event. Wait, Rickie hasn't won a major. The other four have, though. Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter also failed to crack the Top 70 and advance to Olympia Fields this week.

Anyway, there was some high drama yesterday at TPC Boston, where Doc Redman had a stranglehold on the coveted 70th and final spot as Louis Oosthuizen approached the 18th tee. Redman's fate was in Oosty's hands. If the South African made birdie (or eagle) on the last hole, Redman was out and Oosthuizen was in. And.....Oosthuizen hit the par 5 18th hole in two shots and two-putted for a birdie to book his trip to the Windy City and keep Doc at home.

Tiger snuck in at #59, but he'll need a Top 5 in Chicago in order to qualify for the TOUR Championship at East Lake, where only the top 30 on the points list play in two weeks. Woods did manage to end with a splash on Sunday, shooting a bogey-free round of 66 and winning his two-day "mini event" with Rory McIlroy. Other than that, though, Woods didn't do much of anything at TPC Boston, a layout that featured three par 5's, including two that are very reachable for Woods and virtually every other player in the field. It's there, more than anywhere else, where you can see the drop off in Tiger's game. Circa 2005, he was, in theory, 10-under-par when the tournament started (if the course had 4 par-5 holes), as he would reasonably expect to be 10 under on the par 5's over four days. These days, he doesn't drive it straight enough to have a crack at hitting them in two shots. And his short game and putting are a shell of what they were 15 years ago.

Over the four days at TPC Boston, Tiger went 2-under (Thurs), even (Fri), 2-under (Sat) and 2-under (Sun) on the par 5 holes for four days. Talor Gooch, who finished T18, went 1-under, 2-under, 3-under and 3-under. When you're outplayed on the par 5's by Talor Gooch (good player and all, but...well, you know what I mean), that says a lot.

Oh, by the way, Dustin went 3-under, 1 under, 4 under and 4 under on the par 5's for four days.

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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…


I once heard the comedian Artie Lange, when he was on the Howard Stern show, tell a story about Bob Uecker and the cough button.

Uecker, the long-time voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, invited Lange and the comedian Norm Macdonald to the spring training booth in Arizona one day. Uecker knew Macdonald from his days as one of the Miller Lite All-Stars. You know, “he missed the tag!” and “I must be in the front rooww.”

Unlike his public image, Lange said, Uecker came off not just funny but also dirty. Several times during the game, a young lady might walk by the booth on the concourse. Uecker would keep up with the play-by-play—“ground ball to short, easy one for Johnson,” then hit the cough button and say “look at the **** on that one” before releasing the button and finishing the call of the play, the listening audience having no idea.

Lange said that, in general, Uecker was profane — not just in the booth but on the golf course and elsewhere. He’s a man in his 80s who has spent 60-odd years in baseball and lived the life, and like many public figures his image doesn’t necessarily match the reality.

The cough button wasn’t on last week when Cincinnati Reds announcer Thom Brennaman said something about somewhere being “one of the f-g capitals of the world” as a broadcast came back from commercial break. After an on-air apology a bit later, Brennaman was taken off the air, suspended from team broadcasts for now. Fox Sports soon announced the he won’t be one of their play-by-play guys for NFL games in 2020.

Brennaman later penned an apology letter that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer; it was short, but it was heartfelt. I suppose it was a bit surprising that he seemed so unaware of the history of the word, yet not surprising in that it’s still easily thrown around in conversation by people of every generation.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to Brennaman. He and his father Marty, who just retired from Reds’ broadcasts last year, are Cincinnati royalty. I have no doubt they’ve contributed much more to the city than anybody knows.

What I do know is that the cough button is never really on. Go ahead and take a chance if you want, but be prepared to take a hit in case somebody is listening.


Look, Earl Thomas had two things going against him when he signed a big deal with the Ravens before last season.

One was the horrific injury (a lower left leg fracture) he suffered in his last game for the Seattle Seahawks during the 2018 season, a bad deal for anyone but especially with the overall and wear and tear of a league veteran approaching age 30.

The other was what he did in the moments following that terrible injury, using his time on the stretcher to quite literally flip the bird to the Seattle head coach and front office on his way off the field.

Thomas, big contract or not, wasn’t long for Baltimore. Frankly, he did something last week that might remind you of the second thing, and the first thing means that he ain’t the player he used to be anyway. One way or another, getting rid of him is probably a good thing for the Ravens.

On the field, Thomas made his name with Seattle in a defensive scheme that was recently called “vanilla” by Jets defensive coordinator and noted bounty hunter Gregg Williams. Williams may have been having a little fun, but he’s right. According to Pro Football Reference, the Seahawks blitzed on about 27 percent of defensive plays in 2019. Middle of the pack.

Of course, vanilla isn’t bad. Thomas played on some of the best defensive teams of all time, the “Legion of Boom” Seattle teams, helping the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. For all those points Pete Carroll’s USC teams scored years ago, he gives lectures on defense, not offense.

The Ravens, under Wink Martindale and pretty much everyone else before him, are not vanilla. They blitzed more than half the time last year. On almost any play, even when it doesn’t seem like the percentage move, there might be a blitz from somewhere. And all indications are that the change was a difficult one for Thomas to make.

All the reporting suggests that the Ravens’ “leadership council” wanted Thomas on the next plane out of town; it says something that Thomas, despite his status and Hall of Fame credentials, wasn’t on that leadership council. The “council” doesn’t get to make personnel decisions, though, nor does it have to worry about salary cap hits. Good luck to Earl in Dallas; I’m not sure we’ll miss him either on or off the field.


My favorite fact on the subject of “these guys are good” has to do with sub-60 scores in PGA Tour events.

After Al Geiberger did it in Memphis in 1977, it took 14 years until Chip Beck did it in Las Vegas. Then it was eight more years until David Duval won in Southern California by shooting 59 in the final round of the Bob Hope. Then it took 11 more years until Paul Goydos blistered TPC Deere Run in Illinois for a 59 in the first round.

But then something happened. Somebody breaking 60 has become an (almost) yearly thing. Scottie Scheffler’s 59 at TPC Boston on Friday was the ninth sub-60 round since 2010. Two of the nine have come from Jim Furyk, including the only 58 in tour history four years ago in Hartford.

Without being an expert, I would say that low scoring in general among the best players in the world has much to do with equipment and athleticism; both have reached levels of performance that probably seemed unattainable a generation ago.

Shooting under 60, though? That has to do with putting and precision. Furyk did it twice in his 40s as one of the field’s shorter hitters. The tour record for nine holes of 26 strokes was set 14 years ago in Milwaukee by the short-hitting Corey Pavin, who was 46 at the time.

As for the last 10 years, my guess is that course agronomy, especially on the greens, has reached the same quality levels as the new drivers and the guys with the incredible swing speeds. It’s part science, for sure, as research has led to the development of grasses that better withstand whatever conditions they face. It’s also part management, as there’s no doubt that the tour has taken a more active role in creating conditions outside the weather that are similar each week.

There’s very little variety every week, and within every round of each single tournament. I’m not sure how exciting that is for the players and fans, but it probably makes it easier to shoot scores surrounding 60 more often.

Personally, I think getting close to the magic number is great. I turned on the television the other day when I looked at the leaderboard and saw that Dustin Johnson was 10-under through 10 holes. I wouldn’t have watched otherwise. I hope it keeps happening almost every year.

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August 23
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#2190



this earl apparently not a pearl


It's one thing when the coaching staff grows weary of a player's act. That happens all the time, in the same way players can learn to tune out the coach's message.

It's something entirely different when the players themselves are fed up with a teammate's style and modus operandi. That particular crisis doesn't happen very often in pro sports.

Earl Thomas has been a bad boy and the Ravens -- the players, specifically -- are apparently sending him a message. A pretty strong message, indeed.

Thomas was involved in an altercation with fellow secondary mate Chuck Clark on Friday at training camp. After being sent home by John Harbaugh, Thomas was told to stay there on Saturday, too. There were even unconfirmed reports early yesterday evening that Thomas wouldn't be back at training camp today.

Could Earl Thomas be on his way out of Baltimore?

But what came next was a rarity in sports. The players turned on Thomas and a group of leaders may have gone as far as suggesting to Harbaugh that they'd prefer Thomas not be part of the team moving forward.

There are, predictably, lots of moving parts to this story. The Ravens aren't commenting publicly on the idea that the team's leadership council recommended to Harbaugh that Thomas be removed and not asked back. And why would they? An admission from the organization that the players formally asked for Thomas's release would be a death-knell for the safety's tenure in Baltimore.

At the root of the problem appears to be not only an "attitude issue", but Thomas is reportedly not always willing to pay attention in team meetings or, in some cases, even show up for them.

The incident with Clark on Friday wasn't particularly ugly. It didn't look all that different from other training camp skirmishes over the years. But because it involved Thomas, the players took umbrage with it.

"There's a difference between a player who is insubordinate and a player who is a free spirit," a Ravens associate told #DMD on Saturday. "Thomas is a free spirit. He's not a mean guy or a troublemaker. But he definitely marches to his own beat. And it can rub people the wrong way."

The situation being what it is, the Ravens really only have three choices. They can try and keep things status quo, slap Thomas on the wrist and get one more good season out of him before potentially parting company with him after the 2020 campaign. Or they can try and find a taker for him now and trade him prior to the season.

Or they could cut the veteran safety, but doing so would come with a salary cap hit they'd much rather avoid. While certainly the most neat and tidy option of the three, it's also the most difficult to do.

Keeping Thomas is easy. Making him into a better teammate might be a task, but it costs nothing to keep him.

The idea of trading a player three weeks before the season starts isn't all that rare, but trading a player that was essentially "kicked off the team" would be easier said than done.

The Ravens work hard to get good players. They were particularly excited last year when they were able to land Thomas as a free agent. He played well in 2019, despite a tiff with Brandon Williams that might have contributed to some of the growing discontent for him in the locker room in 2020.

"The run-in with Brandon last season was eye opening," the team associate said. "A lot of veteran players were disappointed with how Earl handled that."

This is why Harbaugh gets the big bucks. Does he acquiesce to his "leadership council" and risk having his team's secondary lose some quality? Or does he try and patch things up in the locker room and get as much as he can out of Thomas for the next five months?

What good is a leadership council if their opinions and positions aren't respected?

But what good is an organization that allows players to make roster and organizational decisions?

If only Earl Thomas would just be a good teammate, none of this would even matter.

Just show up (on time), shut up (not one of Earl's strengths) and play "up" (Thomas is apparently not the best practice player in the league).

Easier said than done.

If the team's leadership council really did ask for Thomas's termination, Harbaugh has quite the dilemma on his hands. The relationship between the locker room and Thomas is likely fractured beyond repair. But Harbaugh could be starting a precedent by allowing the player group to exert so much control.

It's a salary cap league, remember. Every roster move is made with cap implications in mind. And just cutting Thomas doesn't really appear to be a viable option at this point.

Harbaugh and his coaching staff have a tall task in front of them. How do they get their "free spirit" to button up a bit and get with the program?

There's a saying that goes something like this: A leopard's spots never go away...they just fade a little over time.

Once a problem, always a problem.

The Ravens have gone out of their way over the last few years to keep their locker room level and free of strife and friction.

If Earl Thomas is a problem, he might very well have to go, salary cap be damned.

No matter what the outcome, you know this isn't something John Harbaugh wants to deal with three weeks before the season starts.

Apparently neither do the players.

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time for d.j. to close one out


One of the hardest things for a professional golfer to do is follow up a great round with another great round. The odds are simply against it.

Dustin Johnson didn't think it was all that hard on Saturday, where he backed up his Friday round of 60 with an impressive 64 in round three. Johnson -- at 22 under-par -- leads the FedEx Cup playoff opener at TPC Boston by five shots heading into Sunday's fourth and final round.

If you're thinking the golf tournament is over, think again. It's Dustin Johnson in the lead, not Tiger Woods. He's far from one of the sport's best closers.

Dustin Johnson owns a 5-shot lead with 18 holes to play in the FedEx Cup opener at TPC Boston.

But Sunday might very well be different for the 21-time PGA Tour winner. Johnson is primed to enter the winner's circle and take dead aim on the overall FedEx Cup title that will be decided in two weeks at the TOUR Championship in Atlanta.

Already one of the best drivers of the golf ball, Johnson has suddenly found the magic putting stroke at TPC Boston. He was 11 under through 11 holes on Friday before going cold on the final seven holes and then yesterday in round three, he was cruising along with a ho-hum round of 4-under par before finishing birdie-eagle and a 64. Those rounds of 60-64 are awfully tough to beat.

If D.J. doesn't close this one out today, there will be legitimate questions -- or maybe just more of them -- about his ability to finish off golf tournaments. He's posted 11 consecutive rounds in the 60's after a miserable month of July that included an 80-80 showing at Muirfield Village. Everything is in his favor today. He just needs to finish.

With a win today, Johnson would move to #1 in the world. Is he actually the sports's best player? Very few people would say so, win or lose today. But he's most certainly one of the best drivers of the golf ball since Greg Norman and his ability to make birdies in bunches is almost unmatched on TOUR. It's just that pesky issue he's had with closing out golf tournaments that badgers Johnson from time to time.

Speaking of Woods, he meandered around TPC Boston in two-over 73 yesterday and currently sits in 67th place (out of 70 who made the cut) with one round to play. But he does have a one shot lead on Rory McIlroy, so he has that going for him.

Tiger's season might very well end next week in Chicago. After today, he'll likely be somewhere in the mid 50's of the FedEx Cup point standings. Only the top 30 after next week's event in Chicago will make it to the TOUR Championship. Tiger will have to finish around 5th place or better next week to move on to East Lake for the final playoff event.

Breaking news: Tiger isn't finishing 5th next week -- or better. More breaking news: Tiger's not doing much of anything, golf wise these days.

Woods will end the 2020 portion of his season the same way he started it. With 15 career majors and 82 victories. Sure, he'll play the U.S. Open at Winged Foot next month but he's not winning there. Not with his game the way it is these days, especially his iron play, which was a staple of his game for 20 years or so.

The cancellation of this year's Ryder Cup saved Tiger from some potential embarrassment. While he was situated inside the top 8 on the American team for most of the season, the recent results and those projected in the FedEx Cup would have likely left Woods outside the eight automatic spots. He would have required a captain's pick in order to qualify for the team. The good news? The captain is/was his longtime TOUR buddy, Steve Stricker. The bad news? Tiger's golf game is far from worthy of a captain's pick.

We'll never know how that all would have played out, but one thing is certain. Tiger's golf game is no longer upper echelon kind of stuff. He can't even beat Kevin Streelman or Harry Higgs. Or Talor Gooch. Or any of another dozen obscure guys I could name.

There's one thing left for Tiger and it will be there for him forever: Augusta National.

Tiger's not winning any other major. But he can always be a threat at the Masters. Of that, you can be certain.

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Saturday
August 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2189



is it finally over for davis?


If, in fact, the Orioles were ever looking to jettison Chris Davis, it would seem this 2020 thing* would be the perfect time to do it.

And by jettison, we don't mean "cut". They're not cutting Chris Davis and paying him roughly $45 million for the next two seasons. But they might be able to cast him aside for a while instead of releasing the veteran first baseman.

In case you missed it yesterday, the O's brought heralded prospect Ryan Mountcastle to Baltimore. To make room for him, Davis was the odd guy out, with a conveniently timed "knee tendonitis" condition sending him to the 10-day injured list.

So here we are, again. And the question still looms.

Is the end finally near for the struggling Chris Davis?

Is Chris Davis done in Baltimore?

Let's get this out of the way first. There's no real reason to bring him back in 2020. I think any sane person who has watched him play in 2018, 2019 and part of 2020 would agree with that. Why bring him back for the last 20-some games of this thing* and let him hit .120 and take at bats from...well...any other player, frankly.

Why not just urge Chris to nurse that ailing knee back to good health and tell him the spring training itinerary will be e-mailed out in late October?

I can't imagine Davis would argue with that. I mean, he gets his money whether he plays or sits. And while I realize he has pride and probably doesn't just want to collect a check without working for it, the reality is the time has come for the Orioles (and perhaps, Davis, too) to realize giving him playing time is simply a futile attempt at getting blood out of a stone.

So, while you and I would probably sign up for the daily double of making $23 million but getting embarrassed in public, the Orioles and Davis don't really want that. So this injury scenario they've obviously created is a good way to go about lessening the humiliation for someone who has by-and-large been a good employee over the years.

It will be interesting to see if Davis returns when this injured list respite comes to an end. In the past, the O's could have considered asking Davis to take a minor-league assignment, which, we all assume, he would have turned down. In this case, though, with only six weeks left in the thing*, the O's and Davis could do the wink-wink deal and just use the knee injury as an excuse to take the last 25 games off.

Or Davis could pressure the Birds to put him back on the roster and in the lineup in another ten days. They can "suggest" he rehab that ailing knee, but if Davis feels good and wants back on the active roster, he'll surely make that known to Brandon Hyde and the powers-that-be.

If that happens, the Orioles would then have the match on their racquet. Do they give in and trot him back out there or do they have that tough talk they've been avoiding for the last three years?

And then the off-season will bring about another challenge. A not-so-new one. Will the O's part company with Davis over the winter? He's likely not a trade candidate. Who on earth would take a .120 hitting first baseman with $45 million left to collect over the next two years? The Redskins would probably do it, but they're not in baseball.

The writing will appear on the wall ten or so days from now. If Davis shows up in uniform again, it's another round of the same old, same old. But if the Orioles can convince Davis to sit out the rest of the season, they might be able to start the painful process of finally parting ways with their once formidable performer.

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a primer on how to be disappointed with shooting 60


Dustin Johnson shot 60 yesterday at the TPC of Boston.

He leads the FedEx Cup playoff opener by two shots.

Dustin Johnson (-15) leads the FedEx Cup event at TPC Boston after a blistering round of 60 on Friday.

But get this: His 60 wasn't the low round on Friday. Scottie Scheffler posted a 12 under par round of 59.

Also get this: Johnson shot 60 -- 11 under -- and didn't make a birdie or eagle over the last 7 holes of his second round. Yep, he was 11 under through 11 holes.

And finally, get this: The air was completely stale after Johnson tapped in his par putt on the 18th hole, settling for that round of 60 after he was 11 under through 11 holes. It was, if this is possible, a letdown to see him finish with 60. It was big-time disappointing.

I know what you're thinking: How on earth can someone be 11 under through 11 holes and finish 11 under?

I don't know the answer either, other than to say: That's golf.

One minute, the hole looks like a beach basket. Everything goes in. You're laughing and yucking it up, maybe even giving a playful fist bump or two if you've won 15 majors and 82 career tournaments.

The next minute, you can't hit the hole from five feet away and you're wondering if you'll ever make another putt of any reasonable distance.

Johnson had three birdie putts within 15 feet on the final 7 holes of Friday's round and couldn't make one. At the last hole, a par 5, he had 215 yards to the hole but elected to lay-up. His approach from 80 yards spun back to 30 feet beneath the hole -- a lousy shot for virtually any TOUR player -- and he wasn't able to make the birdie effort for 59.

It's so bizarre. 11 under for 11 holes and....11 under after 18 holes.

Oh, and remember this: Six weeks ago at Muirfield Village, D.J. posted rounds of 80-80. Yesterday, he shot 60.

That's golf...

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Champions League Recap


Semifinals --

The Champions League continued with the semifinals this week. This round did not provide quite the same level of drama as the previous, since both of the favorites were able to impose their will and cruise to relatively easy victories.

On Tuesday, RB Leipzig took on French champions Paris St. Germain. The Parisians threatened early with a Neymar shot just missing off the post and they did not relent from there. A foul on Neymar just outside the box set up a free kick in the 13th minute. Angel Di Maria delivered a perfect cross that was headed home by Marquinhos to put the French side up 1-0.

Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich have a date with Paris St. Germain for the Champions League title this Sunday.

Leipzig looked to make it into the half down a goal and try to regroup, but they were dealt a severe setback just before halftime. A poor pass from keeper Peter Gulasci was intercepted by PSG and played into the box where Neymar provided a deft backheel flick to set up a tidy finish by Di Maria to extend the lead to 2-0 at the half.

Leipzig showed good fight early in the second half, but in the 60th minute PSG dealt the decisive blow. Leipzig right back Nordi Mukiele either slipped or was lightly clipped and went down, gifting the ball to Di Maria who quickly crossed into the box and found Juan Bernat for a headed goal and a 3-0 lead. The subsequent VAR review did not find enough evidence to award a foul so the goal stood and the Parisians maintained an insurmountable lead.

American Tyler Adams entered as a substitute in the 65th minute, becoming just the second American player to ever play in a Champions League semifinal, but the young American was unable to help turn the tide. In the end, the star power of the French champions overwhelmed the tactical acumen of the German team.

Wednesday brought another David vs Goliath matchup with Olympic Lyon facing red hot Bayern Munich. Lyon got off to a good start in this game, producing two early chances off counter attacks and nearly scoring with a shot off the post. Bayern survived the early onslaught and took the lead in the 18th minute through a spectacular effort from right winger Serge Gnabry. Gnabry picked up the ball on the right side and beat several defenders as he cut across the box and finished with a lightning left footed strike in the upper corner.

The Germans struck again in the 32nd minute when a cross from Ivan Perisic found Robert Lewandowski in the box. The shot was saved but Gnabry was there to put the rebound in for a 2-0 lead. Bayern continued to dominate the game throughout the second half, eventually tacking on one more goal with Lewandowski heading home a free kick late in the game for a 3-0 win.

Finals Preview

The upside of the favorites dominating the semifinals is a star studded final between two of the top European sides. German champions Bayern Munich will meet French champions Paris St. Germain on Sunday at 3:00 pm in the “Super Bowl” of European soccer. In the US, the game will air on CBS Sports Network and Univision as well as CBS All Access streaming service.

Bayern Munich was a team in turmoil early in the Bundesliga season. In November they suffered a crushing loss and fired their coach, promoting assistant Hansi Flick. Flick quickly turned the team around, dominating the German league and the Champions league since the start of 2020. Paris St. Germain has been dominant all season, holding such a large lead in the French league that they were awarded the league title even though the league did not resume post COVID shutdown.

This game should be an entertaining blend of high intensity and immense skill. Both teams are coached by Germans who implement a high pressing philosophy and both like to play from the back and possess the ball to create chances.

The teams will need to avoid the dangerous turnovers in their own defensive areas that their opponents have often gifted them in their runs to the finals. A key area of focus will be whether Bayern continues their extremely high defensive line and whether the speed of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe can wreak havoc breaking in behind that line. Bayern will look to neutralize playmaker Neymar by preventing him time on the ball. The poise and passing accuracy of Thiago Alcantara will be a huge advantage for Bayern in the midfield and build out. Bayern will also look to get speedy Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies isolated on the left wing against PSG’s inexperienced right back to create chances.

Bundesliga player of the year Robert Lewandowski could also prove pivotal with his exceptional finishing ability and knack for finding goals. In some ways this matchup is a clash of two recent dominant eras, the German and the French, with several players from each of those last two World Cup winning squads.

This should be a more exciting and free flowing game than most international finals and will produce a much deserving European champion to cap off a very odd season of soccer.

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

Discover the Difference


Friday
August 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2188



friday stuff


Even though it was predictable, it was still tough to watch. No, I'm not talking about NBC Sports Washington broadcaster Rob Carlin, who ended his tenure with the network last night in an emotional post-game show after the Caps 4-0 loss to the Islanders. We'll get back to that.

I'm talking about the Caps themselves. Predictable. But still tough to watch.

It wasn't tough to watch because they lost to the Islanders and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup, 4-games-to-1, in the NHL playoff "bubble" in Toronto.

It was tough to watch because the Caps put up very little fight. Almost none, really. They fell behind 2-0 at the game's midway point in the second period and basically mailed it in from there.

Last night was the apparent end to the tenure of goaltender Braden Holtby, who doesn't have a contract for 2020-2021 with the Capitals.

You can call it whatever you want but if you're keen on using terms like gutless or heartless, I'll sign off on either of those two. It was a bad look from a Caps team that clearly has an axe to grind with their coach. What other explanation can you give for their performance on Thursday night?

I'm a lifelong subscriber to the old adage -- the other team tries, too -- and there's no doubt at all that Barry Trotz and his Islanders did a terrific job in the series. But here's the problem: The "other" team -- the Caps -- didn't really try all that much. Not to me, anyway.

As I noted on Twitter after last night's fiasco, the Islanders are not chopped liver. If they continue to get stellar play from Semyon Varlamov and guys like Barzal, Cizikas and Beauvillier keep playing up to the level they displayed against Washington, the Isles could make some real noise moving forward. Varlamov is the key to their success, just like any "hot" goaltender is come playoff time. But those Islanders are a legit squad.

The Caps...not so legit. It could still be the Stanley Cup hangover. Or maybe they're just older. Or, as a lot of insiders are hinting, perhaps coach Todd Reirden is in over his head. Two straight first round playoff ousters isn't a good look for a perennial title contending organization. I get it, this year's "bubble" and playoff format are weird. But that's not an excuse for the 4-1 series loss to the Islanders. Something else is going on.

Any time a team goes through the motions like the Caps did last night with their life on the line, it deserves a thorough examination. It's fair to note that the 4-0 score was a smidgen misleading, as the game was 2-0 until late in the third when Reirden went to the extra attacker and New York sealed the deal with a pair of empty net goals. But the bet here is that game could have gone six periods instead of three and the Caps wouldn't have scored. They didn't really look like they wanted to score last night.

Losing is one thing. It happens. "You can't win 'em all" and the rest of that stuff. But it's hard to overlook a gutless team effort like that one we saw on Thursday night. As Mr. Vernon said in The Breakfast Club...I expected more from a varsity letterman.

It was tough to watch a once powerful team mail it in like that.


If you missed the story on Wednesday night, high profile sports play-by-play guy Thom Brennaman saw his career go up in flames with the use of one word. It was, by all accounts, a hateful word. But it was one word, and one word only.

During a broadcast from Kansas City, where the Reds were meeting the Royals, Brennaman was caught on a live, hot mic (during a break in the action) calling Kansas City the "f-- capital of the world." That Brennaman didn't know the mic was live is probably unimportant at this point, but it's at least worth noting that he wouldn't have ever said that into a microphone that he knew was on. Lots of broadcasters have said things into live mics over the course of time and deserved their punishment, but this wasn't one of those situations. Brennaman simply didn't realize the mic was hot when he uttered his anti-gay slur.

Baseball and football broadcaster Thom Brennaman lost two jobs on Wednesday night after uttering an anti-gay slur during a Cincinnati Reds TV broadcast.

And with that, Brennaman was immediately pulled from the broadcast once someone leaked the moment out on social media and Twitter tore him apart. Yesterday, FOX suspended him from their upcoming NFL schedule of broadcasts.

Thom Brennaman might very well wind up being a "former broadcaster" after that awful moment on Wednesday night.

If you care, he's sorry. Very sorry, in fact. Brennaman has been front and center since Wednesday's slip-up, e-mailing a lengthy letter of apology to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which they published first thing Thursday morning.

Brennaman wrote: As many of you know, I said something hateful on the air Wednesday night, something no one should ever say. Something that no one should ever think.

Something that no one should ever feel.

Something no one should ever hear.

I could to try to explain it or tell you about who I am and what I believe, but those things would all be excuses. The simple fact is, what I said was wrong.

I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past 24 hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive. It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again.

I cannot erase what I have done. The only thing I can do is humbly apologize, accept the consequences of my actions and resolve to be better and behave differently from now on.

To the LGBTQ+ community – I am truly and deeply sorry. You should never be denigrated with crude and hateful language. I failed you, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am.

That Brennaman sent that e-mail on Wednesday evening just before midnight shows the gravity of the moment. He didn't wait four days. He didn't make an excuse of any kind. He went to his keyboard and immediately apologized.

Apologies aren't, and shouldn't be, "graded", but that one seemed legitimate.

These are interesting times that we live in here in our country. We're involved in a very serious and important situation in 2020, where our citizens are being asked to include everyone, appreciate everyone, love everyone and accept everyone. It's the right way to go. We've been afflicted with contempt for other races, cultures, political parties and sexes for too long.

With that said, it will be interesting to see if the very people that Thom Brennaman offended are willing to do what they ask others to do. Mainly, accept him for what he is, a guy who made a mistake in an otherwise largely successful and compliant career.

We've reached that point -- when? how? I don't know -- where you get fired (in this case, specifically, "suspended") for doing something wrong. Your "good" 10, 15, 20 or 30 years are all dismissed because of a mistake. All that work, no longer valued.

Everyone knows Thom Brennaman was wrong. He knows he was wrong. But expurgating him is also wrong. Let's forgive and move on and include everyone, even those who make mistakes.


I didn't see any of the Orioles 7-1 loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night. Not one moment of it.

The Birds -- after stringing together six straight wins -- have now dropped five in a row, all at home, no less. They're 12-13 with 35 games remaining in the thing*. Still mostly on pace to make a playoff run, but not gaining any ground by losing to teams like the Red Sox, who stink.

It's fair to note that Boston's only reliable pitcher -- Nathan Eovaldi -- was on the mound last night at Camden Yards. If the O's were going to lose one of the four games here, last night's was the one.

I did listen to part of the game last night as I returned from a day of golf in Annapolis and caught the work of Melanie Newman on 105.7. She's one of the broadcasters who handles radio play-by-play duties for the O's.

I have no idea at all if the shortened season has changed what the O's originally had planned for her when they announced last February that Newman would be joining the broadcast team. Maybe the organization believes this is a good "toe in the water" opportunity for her given the abbreviated schedule and what not. Not that she needs a "pre-season" or anything, but that's sorta-kinda what the whole 2020 thing* feels and smells like to me. So if you have a rookie broadcaster trying to cut her teeth, this 2020 thing* seems like a great time to do that.

Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman is handling radio play-by-play and other duties during the 2020 baseball campaign.

To borrow a familiar phrase, Newman is a "work in progress". I think she really knows baseball. You can hear that in her voice and her use of statistics and general tidbits about the game. I don't think her "style" is particularly connective yet. As someone noted on Twitter last night when I asked my followers for an opinion on her, she "sounds like she's calling golf, not baseball." I would agree with that. There's not much energy in her voice.

As time goes on, Melanie Newman will improve. I have no idea what sort of professional guidance the Orioles and MASN give her -- if any at all -- but if they're trying to make her the best broadcaster she can be, they'll provide her with some legitimate tips for improvement.

I do understand that the very nature of the thing* makes it difficult for any broadcaster. In many cases you're not even on site, there is no atmosphere at all, no fans, no activity at the stadium and so on. In some ways, this is the best and worst time to trot an inexperienced broadcaster out there.

Females have found it difficult to break into things like sports play-by-play. I'm not sure why.

I mean, how many male play-by-play guys were professional players in baseball, football, hockey and so forth? Color analysts are expected to have professional playing experience. Not all do, but the best ones are typically the ones who played the game. Play-by-play people, though, are just the best-of-the-best who can create the picture for you. They're wordsmiths and artists in their own way.

I hope it goes well for Newman. I've listened to a half dozen radio broadcasts this month and keep thinking the same thing every time I hear her: Will someone please tell her to jack up the energy level a notch or two? That's all. Her baseball knowledge is extraordinary. She most certainly knows what she's doing. But baseball is boring enough without the announcers coaxing us into a nap.

One final note that also involves a female broadcaster and baseball. We learned this week that O's left fielder Trey Mancini and MASN broadcaster Sara Perlman are involved in a relationship. Perlman did at one point handle field duties for O's broadcasts on MASN, then was oddly moved to the Nationals broadcast team in mid-season, 2019.

It's an interesting note, obviously. Did the organization learn about their relationship and split them up? Did Mancini himself break the news to the O's? Did Pearlman tell the organization, knowing it's typically taboo for team broadcasters and players to fraternize, let alone date?

Pearlman has been a steadying influence on Mancini during his bout with colon cancer. As he has noted publicly, much of his recovery and continued movement towards good health can be attributed to the care and compassion he's received from Pearlman.

No one seems worked up about the fact that a team broadcaster and a player are involved in a relationship. A decade ago, even, that story could have bubbled into something big. Now, in 2020, it just seems like it's the way of the world. And that seems OK to me.


And last but certainly not least, a tip of the cap (no pun intended) to Rob Carlin, who bid the viewing audience farewell last night after the Caps lost 4-0 to the Islanders.

Carlin was informed a couple of weeks ago that his contract with NBC Sports Washington would not be renewed. A shocker of all shockers, really. Carlin has been an outstanding anchor for that network's Capitals coverage over the last 9 years. "Outstanding anchor" might not even do his work justice. Carlin is as good as anyone, anywhere.

What the powers-at-be at NBC Sports Washington have against him is anyone's guess. Over the last two years, they've parted company with two of their very best people -- Chick Hernandez and Rob Carlin. Note, please, that I used the word "people", not broadcasters.

In what is clearly a "people business" (it's a broadcasters job to connect with people and keep them coming back), it's remarkable that the folks who run NBC Sports Washington have jettisoned two of the very best "people" they've had in their building.

Carlin will bounce back, for sure. I can see him going to one of the major colleges in the area and heading up their in-house broadcasting unit and handling some on-air work for them, if he wants that kind of gig. He will be employed again. And soon, I'd think.

As for NBC Sports Washington, I hope they know what they're doing. Lately, it seems like they don't.

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#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Thursday
August 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2187



argument settled


I know from the start this is probably a futile effort on my part.

It's an argument that can't really be settled, that is unless somehow a bunch of PGA Tour players pile into a NetJet sometime soon and show up in Baltimore for the day to settle an occasionally fiery debate about the ability of Mount Pleasant to withstand the onslaught of the world's best golfers.

If you've been following along here recently, there has been lots of discussion in the comments section about this topic. If you're a golfer, it interests you, I'm guessing. If you're not a golfer, today is one of those days where #DMD doesn't have much for you.

We'll be back tomorrow to tell you all about how the Caps got eliminated (tonight, 8 pm) or how the Orioles somehow fell in extra innings to the really-lousy Red Sox (tonight, 7:35 pm).

But for now, let's argue some more about Mount Pleasant.

I'll admit I'm the one that probably started this debate at #DMD. A few years ago I poked fun at the golf course here and my dearest of dear friends, George McDowell, took up for her. George and I were regulars at the Mount two decades ago when he lived in Baltimore. The course was truly the fabric of our relationship at the start. Its what brought us together in the first place.

George and I agree on two things: Mount Pleasant has a lot of potential as a golf course. And we both love it.

But we don't agree on some other things, hence our longstanding debate about its quality.

The 15th hole at Mount Pleasant requires a precise tee-ball of 240 yards and then a second shot over water to a large green. It's a very good par-4 hole.

With our golf course closed this week due to aeration on the greens, three of us ventured over to the Mount on Tuesday. We could have gone just about anywhere around town to play a late afternoon round of golf, but I wanted to visit the Mount. I missed last week's Maryland Amateur qualifier there because I was out of town playing in a tournament. I figured the course would still somewhat resemble the conditions the players found it in last week and wanted to see what, if any, additional difficulties were lurking.

My round on Tuesday doesn't really reflect much about the Mount's potential to withstand TOUR players, but a few things about it do stand out as we discuss just how low some of the world's best golfers would do at Mount Pleasant.

I shot 70, which is one under par. For a large part of the round, I was 3-under, then stumbled with bogeys at 15 and 17, the latter a maddening three putt from 25 feet where my ball rolled nicely towards the hole for 18 or so feet, then "velcro'd" to a stop seven feet shy of the cup.

My round of 70 could have been 67 or it could have been 73. I get it, that's typically the way most rounds work. I have a theory that I share with a lot of my high school golfers. "Every round of golf is determined by six putts that you either make or don't make." I don't know where I came up with that number, but I've found over the last 27 years of playing competitive golf that someway, somehow, six putts are the main factor in your round.

Tuesday was no different.

I hit a nice soft sand wedge to the first hole and left myself with 15 feet above the cup (they were using the left green at the Mount on Tuesday). I knew the first putt would be fast, but I didn't marry the break and the pace correctly and after just barely missing the birdie effort, I also missed the five-footer for par, the ball hitting several spongy footprints around the hole and careening wildly to the right as it approached the cup. Most of the greens out there were wet on Tuesday and that "lumpy donut" Dave Pelz talks about all the time was clearly present anywhere within two or three feet of the cup.

On the second hole, I had 75 yards left. (This is where I'd note that circa 2000 or so, I'd routinely leave myself with 125 or so to the pin. Either the ground is much firmer these days or I'm hitting it longer. I never had 75 yards remaining for my second there...until Tuesday). I lobbed a wedge to six feet or so at the second and......that putt missed low on the right edge, even though I knew it was going that way. Two holes - two missed putts within six feet, neither of which I hit poorly or misread.

At the third, I almost made a deuce, hitting my wedge to a foot. Yes, funny guy, I did make that putt.

At the fourth, I also had wedge there, my second shot coming up 15 feet below the middle left pin. And I rolled that one in, the ball toppling into the cup from the left side of the cup. I'm not 100% sure I hit that putt where I aimed, but it somehow leaked into the cup regardless.

At #5, I hit a drive down the right side that left me with 90 yards to the pin. I think the hole plays 400 yards or something. Now, I did not hit a 310 yard drive there, even though the math might say I did. I probably hit the ball 250 yards and the resulting downslope and angle of the hole bounded the ball another 60 yards to its resting place. I can tell you this, with great certainty. Prior to Tuesday, I'm guessing I played the 5th hole at Mount Pleasant 1,500 times. I know for a fact I never once had 90 yards to the hole there. Until Tuesday...

I two putted from 25 feet there, then hit a wedge to 12 feet at #6, where I somehow coaxed that putt in to dip to 2 under on the day. No one in my group made a putt on that hole but me on Tuesday. And I'm 95% sure the birdie putt I hit had no business going in. At the last second, as it veered off to the left of the hole, it hit something in the green and jumped to the right. Everyone sort of laughed, I tipped my cap to the crowd that was cheering there, just as they did back in the 1950's for Arnold Palmer, and we headed to the 7th.

Through six holes, I missed two putts I should have made (#1 and #2), made two I probably didn't think I deserved to make (#4 and #6) and sat at 2-under par. I got it to 3-under when I made a 30-footer at #8. How did I make a 30-footer there, on that short 360 yard hole? I hit a 3-wood around the corner off the tee and had 70 yards to the pin. And the best I could do was hit a lob wedge about 60 yards, leaving 30 feet for birdie. I had no business making that one, either. It just happened to sneak in. I'm not even sure I was trying to make it, frankly.

Five putts determined my entire front nine. I could have shot 5 under or I could have been 1 under. That's typically the way it goes at Mount Pleasant. The greens usually keep you from posting a good score, unless you hit one of those odd days where you make everything. And the Mount doesn't yield many of those days, I can assure you.

I won't bore you any longer with my round, except to mention two more tee balls. At the par 4 12th, which I think measures about 385 yards, I left myself with 100 yards in. At the par 4 16th, I had 100 yards in on that 380 yard hole.

This brings me around to the argument.

George likes to use data for his side of the debate. "Facts", as he calls them. The "facts" show that TOUR players in the 1950's did not eat Mount Pleasant up. There were no 25 under totals for four rounds there. Facts also show that when the course held the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play event back in the '80's and '90's (and into the 2000's as well), no one ever really lit it up. There were a smattering of under par rounds each of the three days, sure, but there were far more 77's (from good players) than there were rounds of even par or better.

My contention, along with others, is that today's TOUR players, if they showed up at Mount Pleasant, would annihilate it. That's an "if", of course, because they're not coming to Baltimore to play Mount Pleasant anytime soon, if ever. So we're left with this argument about what might happen.

The only argument I can make on my end is to simply look at what I do and compare it to what I know TOUR players do. I can use my own personal facts to support what I think Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau and Dustin Johnson (just to use four) would do at Mount Pleasant. I base this off of watching them play, knowing their general distances off the tee, and so on.

I'm a 57 year old has-been who was left with 75 yards to the second hole. Those guys would all either drive the green or leave their tee ball within a chip/pitch of the green. They would all drive the 3rd green, a carry of "only" about 320 yards as the crow flies. They'd have 50 yards (or less) into #4 and if I had 90 yards in on #5 last Tuesday, that just tells me most TOUR players would have 50 yards or less into the hole. I think crazy guys like DeChambeau and Champ could drive #5, actually, which measures 414 from the back tees.

I'll stop there and just make my point by saying, "TOUR players would drive or come close to driving six or seven of the par 4's at Mount Pleasant." And they would. #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #8, #12, #13, #16 and #18 can all easily be reached by Tony Finau or Cameron Champ or Luke List or any other fairly non-descript TOUR player you come up with.

I realize Arnold Palmer and Tommy Bolt were perhaps challenged by the 16th hole in 1958. Lucas Glover would say "where's the green?" and then take dead aim off the tee, and leave himself with a 40-yard flip into the green. A decade ago -- maybe more -- a local amateur, Ray Sheedy, drove it up there within 30 yards or so of the green. That was a decade ago. And an amateur, albeit one of the longer hitters on the state circuit.

It's always interesting when people start comparing what amateurs do to what TOUR players do. George will use stats from the Maryland Amateur to support his argument and he's right. Those are, in fact, real numbers from real golf tournaments played at Mount Pleasant over a 20-25 year period.

Here's where I should mention the obvious, that occasionally gets lost in the shuffle: Good amateur golfers are in no way, shape or form comparable to a TOUR player.

I used to use this example with people all the time...and still do. The difference between someone of even my modest ability and a TOUR player is, by my study, five holes per-round. In all the years of playing the U.S. Open qualifier at Eagle's Nest, I was paired with some journeyman TOUR guys a half dozen times. Brian Claar, Jeff Brehaut, Bill Glasson, to name three. I would routinely have the same score as one of those guys on 13 of the 18 holes out there. It was the other five holes that separated us. I'd make a bogey on #3, Brehaut would birdie it. I'd make a bogey on #8, Brehaut would make par. I'd make birdie at #9, he'd make eagle. I'd bogey #13, he'd make birdie. I'd bogey #17, he'd make par. When the round ended, I'd have a tidy 2-over par round of 73, he'd earn a qualifying spot with his 68. For thirteen of the eighteen holes, I was -- relatively speaking -- just as good as he was. But those other five holes were the difference.

That's a short way of saying this: When comparing what golfers do or could do, it's never really wise to compare amateurs to professionals. The Maryland Amateur Stroke Play routinely showcased a reasonably impressive field, but it was only impressive when you took into account it was 30 or 40 of the state's best scratch golfers and nothing more. If you put those players up against the bottom half of the TOUR field, the ams would get blistered. Every time.

TOUR players would feast on Mount Pleasant. If the golf course was in the best shape it could possibly be, with the rough up (as it was Tuesday when I was there) and the greens fast (they were dreadfully slow on Tuesday) and the course "made" to play tough, I figure something like 26 under par would win a TOUR event there. But I also wouldn't be surprised if 32 or 34 under par won it, either.

For a TOUR player, there wouldn't be one difficult hole at Mount Pleasant. Not even the treacherous downhill par-3 17th would rattle them. They hit 185 yard 8-irons the way you and I hit 65 yard wedges.

But I also realize that perhaps I have a different opinion than virtually everyone else. Or not. So I took to asking seven former participants in the Stroke Play Championship to tell me what they think the winning score would be at Mount Pleasant if a TOUR event was held there. I prefaced it all by saying the course would be in its best, toughest condition possible.

Chris B. says "27 under".

Andy K. says "20 under".

Tim E. says "25 under".

Brian W. says "25 under, at least."

Nick S. says "24 under."

Serge H. says "12 under, mostly because no one can putt bumpy Poa greens in the late afternoon, not even those guys."

Rusty M. says "40 under".

The rough average there, as you can see, is 25 under par. And, honestly, I think there's a better chance someone shoots 32 under or better than there is the winning score is anything under 25 under par.

Now, if eight TOUR players piled out of a van this morning and played over at the Mount, there would be a completely different scoring potential in place. A few of them would go around in 63 or 64, a few would finish at 66 and a couple might barely break par because by the time they got to the 13th tee, they'd be fed up with the whole place.

But even today, with indifferent greens and bunkers, a guy like Denny McCarthy or Joel Dahmen or Max Homa would still fire 63 at Mount Pleasant and wonder what all the fuss is about.

I'll end this, though, by offering a concession. I've said this before, so it's not new-news, but it always bears repeating. Mount Pleasant is far more difficult than she appears to be. Part of that is, yes, condition based. Part of it is centered on course design and the way the green complexes were built. It's rare that you get an even lie in most of the fairways there. It's typically either sidehill, uphill or downhill.

The "facts" over the years show no one showed up at Mount Pleasant and tore her in two. A few did along the way, but she typically won most of the battles. But in 2020, if the best players in the world showed up in Baltimore, they would have a field day at "The Mount".

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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.


the mind wanders…


A guy’s mind wanders in these days of semi-quarantine, or whatever the hell they are. I was thinking about Miry Run…

What’s Miry Run? It is (was, I hear) a golf course, hard by U.S. Route 130 east of Trenton, N.J. It was junk. The conditioning made Forest Park seem like the Augusta National. The greens were small and round and push-up. Both the crowds and the grass were sparse. I loved it. I wish I could go back there.

The first hole was a par-5, a 90-degree dogleg with a forest down the left. If you hit it well enough, you could get it past all those trees and have a good shot at getting on or near the green in two. To this day, it remains one of my favorite first holes, even if I had a hard time finding a flat spot on the tee box.

The best (worst?) part of Miry Run, however? The 16th hole was a bear, probably 420 yards, a bit uphill, and narrow. To the left were trees. To the right was an airport runway. The Trenton-Robbinsville Airport. According to Wikipedia, in 2009, the airport averaged about 50 takeoffs and landings a day. They tended to happen in your backswing, from what I remember.

After that challenge, you turned back toward the runway to play the 17th hole, a 230-yard par-3 whose green lay maybe 25 yards from the airport. Forget Mount Pleasant. I challenge anyone—even you, Rickie—to play those two holes in even par.

In one round, I was somewhere around 85 yards from the pin on a short par-4. I pulled out my sand wedge and took my usual hack. At point of contact, the club hit the ball and an unseen rock below the grass/dirt on which the ball had been sitting. The ball went somewhere near the green, but the head of the wedge came flying off and a jolt of pain emanated from my wrist.

In the hopes of getting more play, the course had some good deals. Maybe $30 to play 18 and then get a hot dog and a beer in the semi-shack that served as a bar/restaurant. As God is my witness, it was the greatest hot dog in the universe. The bartender was a middle-aged woman who called you “hon” and smoked Marlboro Lights at the bar, because you could do that then.

The place closed down a while back, then got bought a group that was hoping to keep it as some kind of park. Last I read, they’d sold the land to developers, the same old story. Hope they dig up some of those big rocks by the fairway.

A guy’s mind wanders in these days of staying close to home, these terrible times for the airline industry. I was thinking about Wyoming…

People still ask me about the glamorous days of traveling the country watching college basketball. I tell them about Wyoming, right before Thanksgiving in 2004.

We, as in the Princeton basketball party, left the Philadelphia airport on Saturday afternoon, arriving in Denver at night. The plan was to bus it from there to Laramie, a trip of a bit more than two hours. We didn’t make it.

Upon reaching Cheyenne on Interstate 25, you then head west on Interstate 80 to Laramie. We headed west, but were stopped by the State Police. An 18-wheeler had spun out in the snow, and the road was closed. Would be for a while, unfortunately. This wasn’t New Jersey; there was no way around it in 6,000-foot mountains, and the weather was bad.

It was late, approaching midnight probably. We turned around and found ourselves driving through downtown Cheyenne looking for a hotel. I believe sleeping on the bus might have been discussed. Somehow, we found a Holiday Inn. After some pleading with the front desk, our group of 20 or so squeezed into six or seven rooms.

The short trip to Laramie a few hours later on a sunny Sunday morning was uneventful. It’s beautiful country—God’s country, some would say. Sadly, God did not help us with the officiating the following evening.

Wyoming shot 45 free throws, we shot 15. Three of our starters fouled out. Still, it was a great game. Neither team led by more than seven points, and we forced overtime with a late free throw. We hit a three-pointer to force a second overtime. Unfortunately, the Cowboys won the game at the free-throw line in the last five minutes.

It was a long trip. As we arrived at the Monday morning shootaround, our coach, Joe Scott, stopped the radio announcer and me and asked us to go with the bus driver into town to find a place where we could buy some, um, provisions for the coaches for the two-hour drive to a Denver airport hotel and late-night film watching in the hotel after the game. And please store them under the bus, of course.

When I’m stuck at home, I often refer back to this trip—specifically, where I rested my head on the pillow every night. Saturday in Cheyenne. Sunday in Laramie. Monday in Denver. Tuesday back home. Wednesday and Thursday in Baltimore, celebrating Thanksgiving with family. Friday back home, since we had a game at Lafayette Saturday afternoon.

Overall, our season stunk. It was mostly forgettable, except for that one trip.

A guy’s mind wanders in these days of closed schools and no high school sports. I was thinking about Eric Gertner…

We (Randallstown) were playing an epic junior varsity baseball game, I think against Dulaney. As usual, I was riding the bench. My friend Mickey Cohen was a better second baseman than I was. Plus, I did get into almost every game…whenever the catcher got on base. No matter the situation, a coach could send in a runner for the catcher.

We trailed big before tying the game at 9-9. Our catcher walked in the bottom of the seventh, and I got the call. You’d be surprised how I fast I was then. We picked a good pitch for me to steal second. Then I went to third on a wild pitch. That’s when Eric came to the plate.

Our coach, a math teacher, was old school. He had a lot of cachet, I remember, because he had grown up with and played baseball in California with George and Ken Brett. As I led off third base, he gave Eric the sign for the squeeze. The suicide kind.

The only problem was that the batter was supposed to do something as an “indicator” that he’d seen the sign. And Eric didn’t do it. He was not old school. He was a goof, and remembering signs wasn’t exactly his forte. I shot the coach a look and he shook his head back and forth gingerly. I stayed put, and Eric took a strike.

As Eric, a left-handed hitter, stepped out of the box, he once again looked down to third base, where the coach once again gave him the sign to bunt. Once again, Eric stared into space, never noticing. Or was he simply ignoring it? I didn’t even look. I knew I had to stay.

And then Eric, who was a good hitter, swung at the pitch and hit a sharp liner right over the pitcher’s head and into center field. I trotted home as the winning run, having not actually participated in most of the game. We jumped in a pile; it was a great win.

You couldn’t tell that to coach, though. Back in the locker room after the game, he was annoyed. He screamed at Eric for not once, but twice, ignoring his sign to bunt. Eric, usually a gregarious guy, sat silently. He had to say something. We were 15 years old, and we were kind of scared what he would say.

“Coach, I honestly didn’t know that was the sign for the squeeze,” he said. Honesty—the best policy. The coach left the room, and we all waited a minute or so before laughing hysterically.

A guy’s mind wanders in 2020. I mean, what else are you gonna do?...

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#dmd comments








KJ     September 27
We know a PGA pro will never, ever play a round of golf at The Mount, but can we set up a 36 hole match play between George and "Mike T"??? Please? This would me more entertaining than the Ryder Cup for me lol! #Drew can you make this happen???

unitastoberry     September 27
Oh wow the Lakers are in the finals again. Oh wow Lebron is in the finals again. I have not been a NBA fan since Earl the Pearl and Wes Unseld played at the Civic Center not the Cap Center. When you have 5 players on a side and you go out and buy the best 2 with a few good ones on the bench the deck is stacked against most of the other teams in the league. Once in a while a team will buck this but it's the norm. The big mystery to me is why teams like the New York Knicks who have the money and play in Manhattan don't do what the Lakers do? Imagine if the Yankees rolled over like the Knicks in free agency?

Chris in Bel Air     September 27
I also have no interest in UFC or boxing. They do nothing for me. Don't really care for NASCAR either. I normally watch some college football and but have no interest this year and have not watched any of it. I normally don't follow the NBA and am just not a fan of its style of play. This year with the political posturing, I have made a point to watch zero of it. I have watched a portion of most O's games and have been tuning in to the hockey playoffs. I have watched both Ravens games and will be tuning in tomorrow night. Again, due to the political stances, I have watched no other NFL games. Ravens will be winning tomorrow night. They are the hungrier team.

Mike T.     September 26
Maybe this guy "George" should watch a PGA Tour event once or twice. I shoot 72 at Mount Pleasant and I'm a no talent hack.

Billy     September 26
It takes "balls" to postulate a made up score for something that will absolutely NEVER happen? So simply saying "30 under" is somehow better than saying "not 30 under"??

Not sure why George has so many of y'all on tilt, but I have to say y'all are embarrassing yourselves with the attempt at insults.

Lee     September 26
George should run for office as a Democrat. He never actually answers the question.

George     September 26
@Captain Bill, What's the fastest you ever played the greens at Mt. Pleasant? The fastest I've ever seen them was 10.5 when Bill Johnson set up the course for the MASP one year. And the contestants screamed bloody murder. I think if you put them at 12 like the poa greens at Winged Foot were for the Open, the putting stats here will be equally as bad as they were there.

And If I know nothing about golf, why was my prediction of the Open's winning score right on the money while everybody else's, including DF, all the pros, and just about every professional commentators, wrong?

Captain Bill     September 26
At the risk of hurting someone's feelings let me just say this. DeChambeau would shoot 4 days of 64 if not better at Mount Pleasant. If you are hanging on to a fantasy that he would shoot 15 under you don't know anything about PGA tour golf.

Rc     September 26
So what would Bryson shoot at the Mount? A lot of you run your mouth about what he wouldn't shoot but you never have the balls to say what you think he would shoot.

KJ     September 26
Guess @Mark does not remember two leagues agreed to merge into one league and part of said agreement was a Championship game starting the first year after the agreement before technically becoming "one league".

And regardless of the legal framework of all that, comparing the Super Bowl or World Series to a one off bi-annual made-for-TV event like the Ryder Cup is SMH-worthy if you ask me.

Funny how people just can't admit @Herman is occasionally right about some things.

No way DeChambeau would shoot 30 under even if he played the Mount tomorrow. See, we can all play woulda-coulda-shoulda, which George keeps trying to explain to you all but many just won;t listen.

Tom J     September 26
Love the Q and A. Couldn’t agree more with your Brooks answer, the greatest Oriole ever judging the entire package. The word nice doesn’t even come close to describing him. I like your MISL list but The Magician has to be on that list.

Rc     September 26
George, instead of constantly criticizing others, tell us what you think Bryson would shoot for 4 days at the Mount.

CJC     September 26
To be fair to the Mount, you would need to give it U S Open conditions - hard, narrow fairways; high, thick rough through the greens and hard, super fast greens. Lengthen wherever possible. Turn it into a par 70. How about #3 becoming a 230 yard uphill par 3? Now what is the winning score?



I would be ok with Ravens and Orioles finishing last for the rest of my life to play Augusta! How about 2 days in a row with a night in the cabin.



Drew, Tiger will be winning his 7th Masters in April after winning 6th in November. LOL, just kidding.

George     September 26
@Rich -- Thanks for asking Drew for his enlightening opinion on what DeChambeau would shoot at the Mount. Remember, he's the guy who predicted the winning score at WF would be +6. In fact, that was the cut line! When I pointed out to him that he was all wet, he adjusted his prediction for the winning score to be even par. So the answer you get from him today should be taken with a shaker of salt.

I was also called out for disagreeing with all the experts and pros, including Mickelson and Thomas, but have heard nothing since the original chorus of derision.

Mark in Perry Hall     September 26
I guess KJ doesn't remember when there were 2 different football leagues and they came together and invented one big game to decide who was the better team out of the two leagues. SMH.

KJ     September 26
Championship games in a league are "made up"?? About that horse's body part.....welcome to the comments section Mr "Ollie"!

Ollie     September 26
Maybe it's me but aren't all sports events "made up" ??



The Super Bowl didn't just appear out of nowhere. It was made up. So was the World Series. Wasn't the Masters tournament "made up" ??



I've only been a regular reader on this site for a year but Herman is the biggest horse's ass you can find here.




unitastoberry     September 26
Dave asks -- "If you could see one last game at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, who would you see?"



Unitas last td pass off the bench to Eddie Hinton after his replacement lol Marty Domres was(cough) hurt. Crowd was going insane as an airplane flew a banner that said "Unitas we Stand". Most electric I ever saw that place.



Frank Robinsons out of the park fair homerun on Mothers Day 1966. No replay, no film. Just went out into the parking lot via high line drive. I had a great view of it because I was sitting upper deck behind the plate. People just shook their heads. There was an eerie silence. My uncle Marty who was from Brooklyn NY says to my dad...I never saw Ruth do that!

Billy     September 26
But @ Herman, those guys all get to wear "uniforms", with US flags on them, ergo it must be important lol!

Josh     September 26
@Herman



I think you mean the US dominated Britain+Ireland so the rest of Europe was included.

HERMAN     September 26
I don't get it, but then again there is a great deal in 2020 that provides some comprehension challenge. The Ryder Cup is a completely made-up competition. All the "cool kids", or top pros decided to really get into it, something about team competition in a singular sport, and the ridiculous notion they are representing the US of A. The competition is so ridiculous that the USA dominated Europe for years so "Europe" had to open up and let all kinds of players from non-European countries to level the playing field. Basically it's the USA golfers against the world.

Who wins this event, who does well, how the competition ebbs and flows impacts the average site reader not a whit. Yet they will spend time arguing over "Captain's picks", qualifications for selections, and worthiness of selection. The entire event means nothing, it's golfs version of "Dancing with the Stars", fluff on parade. A merchandise sale, a money grab, a carnival for the country club set.

Oh, but the players, they say it's the biggest honor, it means so much, they are so nervous on that first tee, what an honor.

What a crock.

@George is on to it a bit, club makers, ball makers, clothing manufacturers, they are all jockeying behind the scenes to get their guy picked. Because they all know it's a promotional circus, that's all it is.

But then George forgets for a minute and spends time here arguing over "Captain's picks", and worthiness.

It's all "cool kids" Dungeons and Dragons for God's sake, all made up, a cash grab wrapped in the flag.

RegularEd     September 25
Since there is only 1 first round bye this season and both the Ravens and the Chiefs are the prohibitive favorites to get that first round bye doesn’t that mean this September game between the two teams does, indeed, hold quite a bit of significance? The winning team would hold the tie-breaker in the event the end the season with identical records?

George     September 25
@KC -- Good question. I think there are two reasons for this. (1) I read Todd was drunk for a couple of years and missed 39 of 44 cuts from 2016 to 2018. He's done reasonably well since his return, including two wins, but has been otherwise inconsistent, whereas Finau has been a solid cash machine. (2) The points system for making the team values money won over victories. There are a bunch of guys ahead of Todd on the list with no wins, or only one win.

PB     September 25
Drew, I would think making the course shorter is the answer since that would bring more players into the possible pool of winners. The longer the course the people who did not hit long have no chance which limits the field. Your thoughs

KC     September 25
If Todd is better than Finau how is it that Finau has more points in the rankings? @George?

George     September 25
@Michael C. -- Were these two vying for the last spot under the conditions you hypothesize, I take Tony. No brainer. You take the guy with the better current results.

Michael Creese     September 25
So George, let's say Tony Finau wins twice between now and next September and Brendan Todd doesn't. Would you take Finau or Todd? I am sincerely curious about your answer.

George     September 25
It just occurred to me you're out on the Left Coast, which is its own weird and bizarre La-La-Land, and that once you get back to Maryland your reason will return.

George     September 25
OF COURSE I’m judging Finau on his PAST accomplishments. What other kind of accomplishments are there? How else do you judge? And IF Finau does what you say he COULD do, then he’ll have accomplished what Brendon Todd has ALREADY DONE.

These moves by the PGA to raise captain’s picks from two to four and now six are simply a way to hose better but not as popular players who have shot their ways onto the teams in favor of media favorites, and justify the hosings with crap like, “he’s good in the clubhouse.”

We put up with about six years of incessant Rickie Fowler buzz from Golf Channel and the networks because of sponsor pressure before they finally realized he was all hat and no cattle. Now it looks like Finau is being eased into that role of media darling. We read #DMD for insight and opinion, and we hope those qualities are informed by an understanding that two wins is better than none.

Delray RICK     September 25
Hands down JORDAN THE BEST.

Howard     September 25
Lamar has good company by losing his first 2 playoff games: John Elway, Eli Manning, and Peyton Manning.

Craig Markum     September 25
Thank you for posting the Faith video with Drew Brees! Great addition to DMD.

unitastoberry     September 25
When the Orioles win 100 games in the 2023 competitive season it won't matter who the manager is lol. The problem will be as usual retaining all those superstars we have coming down the pipe. But a good manager can scrape together maybe 7-10 extra wins just on roster moves and in game decisons. That's what a guy like Davy Johnson could do. Not a guy like Showalter bringing in Ubaldo in extra innings of a playoff game.

Gary Hackson     September 25
Heres Hoping Lamar can get some wins in playoffs- seem to recall another mvp like qb who wins but not the big one....Matt Ryan

DF     September 25
Ummmm, George. I wasn't telling you who I would choose. I'm telling you who I think will make the team. I listed the six guys I think will automatically qualify and the six players I think Stricker will choose. And don't forget, while you're judging Finau on his past accomplishments, all he has to do is win a tournament or two between now and next August and he's basically "in". You're acting like he can't do anything between now and next summer to improve his position. He'll play 25 times between now and next summer.

George     September 25
Tony Finau? Tony Finau? No sooner do you appear to have recovered from a serious case of Rickie Fowler Fever than you jump on the public-relations bandwagon of a guy whose one PGA Tour victory was four and a half years ago at an off-week event in some place called Puerto Rico. What of Brendan Todd [who was passed over in favor of Fowler a few years ago for the Ryder Cup team] and his two wins in the last year? The criteria for Ryder Cup selection should be performance, not TV chatter of paid hacks. I can watch the Golf Channel and get sponsor-driven discussion of players, but #DMD should be a place where merit is rewarded.

BO     September 24
Stevie Nicks? You must be joking. Right?

Ted Wrenn     September 24
Not a bad music list except the Beatles weren't a rock band. They were a pop group.

HERMAN     September 24
Site-Owner is away, mice will play...

Best bass guitar John McVie

Best guitarist Lindsay Buckingham

Best Drummer Mick Fleetwood

Best back up singer Christine McVie

Best rock singer Stevie Nicks

Best rock band The Beatles

David Rosenfeld     September 24
For what it's worth, Harlan is 60 years old and Eagle is 51, making them of contemporaries of Nantz and Buck, respectively. And both are old enough to have children in broadcasting--Eagle's son is the radio announcer for the LA Clippers and Harlan's daughter does a lot of sideline reporting--also I think she was a contestant in a Miss USA pageant if that's your thing...

Jason m     September 24
I asked some friends if they could name the leading rusher on the Ravens after two games, without using their smartphones. One guessed Edwards, who is second, and the other guessed Ingram, who is third. LJ is leading the team in rushing with 99, Edwards leads in avg and total yards by rb with 90, Ingram had the 30 best yards of the season but is third with 84, and the rookie phenom who seems like has more yards, has 70. When we had Willis McGahee, Ray RIce and LeRon Mclane, we had a three headed monster that was very tough to stop. Now we roll with a four headed monster, with three very different rb's and LJ who very quietly out gains them all. As a d coordinator, you have to go in knowing you will face fresh legs all game at rb.

H     September 24
I would think that the lack of crowd noise would help our defense call audibles at the line of scrimmage, particularly since the defensive signal caller plays safety.

Ian     September 24
As one of the only other Ians on the planet who pronounces it "eye an," I appreciate your clarification.

Vince     September 24
Been a fan of Ian Eagle ever since he took a swipe at the Orioles during a Ravens broadcast.

Unitastoberry     September 24
"If you know how to cheat, start now." Earl Weaver

HERMAN     September 24
There is an odd thing about San Diego, it surely is one of the most beautiful places in the US, perhaps the nicest in the country. From the hills you can see the clouds move in and out each morning as they pull back from the Pacific Coast. And the temperature is always a perfect 75 degrees or so it seems, it's been said the most boring job in the country is being a weatherman in San Diego. "Perfect again, now back to you".

But the odd thing is, as you drive that looping rainbow shaped bridge over into Del Coronado heading to the hotel Del, there are suicide hotline signs all the way along the route. Jumping the bridge is apparently an issue. Even in the most beautiful city in the US, a picturesque paradise with perfect weather, depression can overtake all that beauty.

Tom     September 24
That would be one powerful Ryder Cup team if your 12 players all make it. It will definitely be strange though to see a U.S. team without Tiger, Phil or Rickie Fowler on it. How long has it been since one of those three guys wasn't on the team, 25 years?

MJC     September 24
Was the "late season collapse" swipe at the Orioles really necessary?

VINCE M     September 24
LIFE IS FAKE. WRESTLING IS REAL!!!!



OH YEA BROTHER!!!!


Billy     September 23
Yup, calling out a typo sure is an insightful comment, bravo!

But not surprising from a couple wrasslin' fans lol.

Wednesday
August 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2186



around the horn


For perhaps the first time in, I don't know, six months maybe, I sat down and actually watched sports on Tuesday night. Weird, right?

I mean, I actually made a point to get comfy in my living room and watch games on television. I was equally devoted to the Capitals-Islanders and Orioles-Blue Jays, with the Caps winning 3-2 to stay alive in their NHL playoff series and the O's losing a bizarre game to the Blue Jays, 8-7 in 10 innings.

It was a weird kind of "investment" on my part on Tuesday night. In both cases, I knew I was watching a game that mattered, yet in both cases I had remind myself of that fact while the games were on my television. They both look and sound so odd. So hollow. So pre-packaged, if you will.


It seems almost weird to analyze an Orioles game in this 60-game thing*, but here they are, a third of the way through the season, "in the hunt" as the saying goes. But if last night's fiasco is any indication of what's to come over the next 40 days, the only hunt they'll be involved in is looking for quail at a New Hampshire farm in late October.

Benched because he can no longer hit, Chris Davis can't even get a break from the official scorekeeper now.

The game eroded into a collection of minor-league plays by the time the game reached the 10th inning. Before that, though, Anthony Santander continued his extraordinary 2020 thing* with two homers and a double. I assume at some point these pitchers are going to take him seriously and stop throwing him thigh high fastballs on strike one, but until they wise up, Santander's a threat to clear the bases in every at-bat. Dan Duquette was the master of dumpster-diving while he was here, but occasionally his infatuation with the Rule 5 draft landed a reasonable player and Santander appears to be, perhaps, more than reasonable. Thanks, Dan.

But even after the O's battled back from a 7-3 deficit to knot the game at 7-7, they couldn't pull out a win. It all went south in the 10th when Cole Sulser walked the lead-off guy with a runner already stationed on secondary due to that insanely stupid extra innings rule baseball is using in the thing*. The Blue Jays then bunted the runners to second and third, which set up the eventual game-winning "hit" moments later.

Chris Davis snared a hard hit ball at first base. From a sitting position, he made a solid one-hop throw to Pedro Severino at the plate. Because perhaps even the players forget these games are "real" on occasion, Travis Shaw was in a half-jog coming down the third base line. Had Severino -- like any major league catcher would have -- fielded the one-hop throw from Davis, Shaw would have been out by eight feet. Instead, the ball bounced off the catcher's chest protector and Toronto had the lead, 8-7.

It gets better.

In the bottom of the 10th, Dwight Smith Jr. started the inning on 2nd base. Cedric Mullins sent a drive into centerfield. Smith Jr. either didn't see the third base coach holding him up or just decided he'd take a rip on his own. Halfway down the third base line, he was in trouble. With nowhere to go, he at least smartly involved himself in a rundown long enough to get Mullins to second base. But the potential 1st and 3rd situation was snuffed out by Smith Jr.'s awful base running mistake.

I guess that's why he's with the Orioles and not with the Dodgers or Astros or Yankees. But it was a lousy way to lose a ballgame, that's for sure.

The Birds actually have some real pieces developing. The aforementioned Santander is potentially the real deal, although once scouts and pitchers get a book on him, he'll have to make some necessary adjustments as well. So far, he looks like a keeper though. Mullins "looks the part" but he can't keep hitting .217 forever, either. Last year he was overmatched at the plate. Small improvements are important for him. He's no Adam Jones in centerfield, but he might be useful out there in the next couple of seasons. Tanner Scott has that Andrew Miller look about him. There are rumors floating around that the Birds would peddle him for some legit prospects later this month. I hope they don't. That kid might be another Zach (Zack? I forget) Britton. Or better.

Even Chance Sisco had a big night at the plate on Tuesday, as the designated hitter, no less. We all know who will be catching here in the next year or so, but for the time being, if Sisco finally figures things out at the plate (with the bat, not the glove), he could be a useful back-up and occasional DH as well. Maybe his current slash of .303/.465/.636 is an outlier, but something like that would make him a legitimate major leaguer moving forward.

Oh, and speaking of that play involving Davis in the 10th inning. The scorekeeper gave Davis the error on that play. Not Severino, who botched the throw to home plate. But Davis. Oddly enough, had Davis gotten up and walked over to first base to record the inning's second out -- allowing a run to score in the process -- the first baseman would not have been charged with an error. Anyway, fire the scorekeeper for that one. In no way was that an error on Chris Davis. The dude's having enough trouble without getting piled on by the scorekeeper.


Tuesday was filled with commentary around the country about the grand slam by Fernando Tatis Jr. on Monday night in Texas. In case you didn't hear, Tatis Jr. homered on a 3-0 pitch with his team ahead 10-3 in the top of the 8th inning in Arlington. Apparently, swinging at a 3-0 pitch with your team ahead by 7 runs in the top of the 8th inning is a no-no in baseball. It was such a no-no, in fact, that both managers had something to say about it afterwards. You'd expect the Rangers' manager to cry about it. But the Padres' skipper did as well.

I've commented numerous times over the years about baseball's archaic -- and idiotic -- set of "unwritten rules". Swinging at a 3-0 pitch with the bases loaded in a game you're winning 10-3 is apparently tucked into Chapter 7, somewhere.

So where's the line? If the Padres would have been up, say, 7-3, would it have been acceptable to swing at that pitch? What if the count would have been 3-1 instead of 3-0? OK then?

I realize it's universally "not cool" to run up the score on people. Sure, there's the old adage of "if you don't getting the score run up on you, don't let them run up the score on you" but in general, running up the score just to flex your muscles is kind of a bush-league thing to do.

But what happened on Monday night doesn't really fit that bill, if you ask me. If the Ravens lead the Browns 30-7 with 1:33 to go and they get a first down on Cleveland's 8 yard line, they are not trying to score on the game's final two plays. They just aren't. And if Lamar Jackson did, on his own, scamper into the end zone, he'd get an earful -- privately -- from John Harbaugh.

But 30-7 in football -- with 1:33 remaining -- is completely different than 10-3 in baseball, especially when the home team has two more at-bats. Is the game "likely" over at 10-3 in the 8th? Of course. But expecting the team that's leading 10-3 to just stop playing is unreasonable.

Last night, ahead 6-0 in the top of the 4th, Tatis Jr. had the audacity to steal third base. That sent Twitter into an uproar once again. Those unwritten rules, huh? The reason why they're unwritten is because they're stupid.


The Capitals got off the mat with a 3-2 win over the Islanders last night to stave off elimination. It looked bad for the Caps early on as the Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but things settled down from there and Washington got heroic performances from Ovechkin and Kuznetsov to win 3-2.

There's still a huge mountain to climb for the Caps, obviously, but if there was a playoff campaign where a team could come back from 3-0 down in a series, this might very well be it. In the past, you'd still have to win a couple of road games if you fell behind in the series 3-0. That task would be difficult, for certain. But in the Toronto "bubble", there's no advantage at all to the "home" team. Both clubs are staying in the same hotel, there's no travel involved, and it's just "best team on the night wins" kind of stuff.

Do I think the Caps are coming back to win the series? No, I don't.

But I do think if they win Game 5 tomorrow that things could get very interesting over the weekend.

By the way, if Washington does win, they'd play the winner of the Boston-Carolina series, which the Bruins currently lead 3-1. Washington likely would not prefer to play Carolina. They would, though, enjoy facing off against the Bruins, a team they've had success against in recent seasons.

There's still a long way to go for the Caps, but they have 11 players on their current roster who know what it takes to win a Stanley Cup. Let's see what that gets them in Game 5.


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fantasy golf: fedex cup event in boston


Well, we weren't on the Jim Herman train last weekend in Greensboro, but neither were 97.5% of money winners at Draft Kings, either. The 2.5% who did play him enjoyed his weekend play of 61-63, though.

All in all last week, we fielded several money-making sides, but didn't have the "big score" we were looking for. Our $64 investment provided a return of $148. Not terrible, obviously, but we're not buying any boats this week, either.

So it's on to the FedEx Cup playoffs this week, with the first stop coming at TPC Boston, where Bryson DeChambeau picked up a win back in 2018. Others have enjoyed success there as well, including past winners like Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

The field is down to the 125 who made the playoffs. After this week, 70 players move on to Chicago next weekend. And the final 30 head to East Lake in Atlanta for the TOUR Championship in a couple of weeks.

Here's who we like this week at TPC Boston.

It feels like these FedEx Cup playoffs are going to be a real proving ground for who, right now, is the top player in the game. Is it DeChambeau? Is it Rahm? Is it Justin Thomas? Or is it Collin Morikawa, who just won the PGA Championship two weeks ago?

It seems like Collin Morikawa is a must-play this week in Boston. So...we're playing him.

We feel like your lineup this week must include one of those guys, and if you can squeeze two of them in, do it. We're going to give out two lineups here. One that is really top heavy and will include three $6,500 players and one that is a little more traditional in nature. You'll see what we mean.

Bryson DeChambeau is expensive, at $11,100, but we love his chances this week. He's won at the golf course before -- pre-weight-gain -- and his play since the restart has been remarkable. If any player has the ability to win twice in three weeks and capture the Cup, it's him.

It seems silly to pass on Collin Morikawa at this point, so we won't. I mean, in 13 months on TOUR, he's missed one cut in 26 events, has three wins, a second, and a major championship. How much better do we need him to be? At $10,200, he puts us in a squeeze from a roster compilation standpoint, but we'll manage.

Paul Casey has the double-banger working for him. He's played very well at TPC Boston in the past and he comes into this week's tournament playing well, finishing T2 at the PGA Championship two weeks ago. He's $8,500, which isn't an ungodly amount for a player of his caliber. If you happen to be someone who can get a "win wager" on players this week, he'd be a good investment at 35-1.

Now it gets fun. And hard. We have to squeeze three players in $20,200.

Denny McCarthy continues to be a solid play in fantasy golf. He had a terrific week at Greensboro with a T9 that included a 63 on Saturday. He's a cut-maker, too, which we need from our "bottom three" guys this week. Denny has made 17 of 22 cuts in 2020. We need another one from him in Boston. He's $6,700.

Speaking of cut makers, we're going with a guy who makes almost all of them. Cameron Tringale is 14-for-17 this year. That's good enough for us. He might not win the event, but if he can sneak into the weekend and finish T20 or so, we'll take it. He's $6,600.

And finally, we're going with Keegan Bradley at $6,600 as well. He's made 13 of 19 cuts in '19-20 and generally plays "up" in big events like the FedEx Cup playoffs. We also like playing guys who could come out of nowhere and win and Bradley fits that mold.

Here's our more "typical" lineup with one strong guy at the top and a bunch of others to follow.

We'll use Rory McIlroy as the anchor here, at $10,800. McIlroy has won before at TPC Boston and almost never misses a cut. He's obviously always a threat to win or contend.

Daniel Berger has played great golf since the restart. If the Ryder Cup were happening in September and he didn't make it on points, he'd almost assuredly be a Captain's pick. He costs $8,900, which is very fair for a guy who has made 12 of 14 cuts this season.

We might be riding the Si Woo Kim train one week too long, but he also might be on the verge of a win after stumbling to an even par finish in the final round last week at Greensboro and losing to Jim Herman. Kim is playing great golf over the last month. He could flame out in Boston or be in contention again. We'll gamble that he still has one more really solid week in him. He costs $7,700.

Harris English has made 15 of 17 cuts this year. It feels like he's due for a breakout win at some point. While the FedEx Cup playoffs might not be the spot for him to do that, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him make it to Atlanta and the TOUR Championship. He's $7,600.

Just when you think Matt Kuchar has lost it, he comes along and does something like finish T3 at TPC Boston. That's what we're hoping for, anyway. He's made 13 of 17 cuts in '19-20 and we're banking on weekend play from him on Saturday and Sunday to help this team.

It's hard to pass on Brendon Todd at $7,500, so we won't. Todd has been as steady as any player on TOUR since the re-start. He's made 15 of 22 cuts. This seems like a good spot to use him.

Here are others to consider this week. Fit them into the $50,000 salary cap in whatever way you can: Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, Abraham Ancer, Ryan Palmer, Mark Hubbard, Alex Noren, Joel Dahmen, Dylan Frittelli, Kevin Streelman, Lanto Griffin, Richy Werenski, Tyler Duncan.

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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.


the hat


A week ago, upon returning from my beach vacation (can I go back, please?), I opened the mailbox to go through a week’s worth of bills, flyers, coupons and credit card offers. At the bottom of the stack was a Postal Service envelope with my friend Todd’s business address as the sender. Curious, I pulled the tab.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear?

This is my Loyola High School Junior Varsity baseball hat. From the spring of 1982.

I was floored.

Leaving aside the obvious question of how on earth this thing wound up in Todd’s possession, or why he had chosen to keep it over the course of the past 38 years, or what other things of mine he had stored away in his attic (hmmmmm…it’s a good thing I’ve never run for public office), it immediately made me smile and laugh.

This is one of those items that appears from the extremely distant past and immediately brings forth a flood of memories. I mean, the last time I had worn this ratty thing I was 15 years old. That’s, like, 27 lifetimes ago. I was a sophomore at Loyola. I barely knew anything about life (still really don’t), girls (ditto), or the world (ibid). My life was just school and sports and trying to be cool (still working on that one, too). But somehow it was all simpler when I was 15.

As I’ve looked at this hat over the past week or so, the one memory it keeps bringing up consistently is just how bad I was at baseball. I mean, I was pretty awful. I was the classic all-glove-no-stick player, and I certainly wasn’t very smooth in the field. Oh, and I was a terrible pitcher too. So I was pretty much a triple threat.

The funny thing is, I absolutely love baseball. Growing up in Baltimore in the 1970’s as a sports fanatic, it’s really in my veins. Watching the Orioles of that era brought daily joy to me. They were one of the gold standard franchises of all professional sports back then. There were thousands of little boys just like me who had dreams of growing up to be a player like Brooks Robinson or Paul Blair or Jim Palmer or Ken Singleton. Those guys were giants in Baltimore. They were heroes of the diamond. Of course I wanted to be them when I grew up.

My first little league baseball team was the Riderwood Cubs. We didn’t win a game. I played shortstop and pitched. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. I think I might have had 2 hits that year. Maybe. And there was one game when I walked about 16 straight batters. This was the era before coaches pitched or little leagues had a maximum runs-per-inning rule. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you we lost that game something like 43-1. I’m pretty sure I was the losing pitcher.

I didn’t play a whole lot more organized baseball after I turned 12 or so. I was pretty much playing basketball whenever I could. And the truth is that I was scared of the baseball when I was at bat. It hurts to get hit by a baseball. Sometimes it hurts when you make contact and “the bees” shoot through your hands and forearms if you don’t hit it squarely. Oh yeah, and sometimes it hurts when a baseball is thrown really hard and it hits the palm of your glove and not the webbing. So in summary, a baseball can really hurt.

And there’s a lot of standing around. A lot. Especially when the pitcher walks 16 straight batters. What a bum.

For reasons still unknown to me, I tried out for JV baseball my freshman year at Loyola. And I was the last player cut. The coaches kept these twin brothers over me. They were sophomores. I had never been cut from any team before and I was pretty mad about it. I mean, I might have been a pretty crappy player, but I was definitely better than those dorks. Right, coach? Coach?

So I dedicated myself to the game right then and there, determined that I would prove everyone wrong when the next season rolled around, socking dingers and making diving stabs of scorching liners and…Hahaha, no I didn’t. I spent a summer at the beach riding waves and chasing girls. I’m sure I followed the Orioles. I shot hoops with my friends. I basically forgot all about JV baseball at Loyola.

Then the next spring I went out for the team again, and this time I made it. They probably should have cut me again. It would have been better for my psyche in the long run.

Remember how I told you that I was a pretty terrible baseball player? That spring of 1982 proved it.

There was a sinking line drive hit to me when I was playing left field. I sprinted in on it, only to step in a gopher hole and pitch face first into the grass as the ball whistled past me. There was a two-hopper hit at me when I was playing first base that hit a random rock and caught me in the nibblets, and no, I wasn’t wearing a cup, what kind of sissy-boy wears a cup to play baseball? There were numerous strikeouts and weak tappers back to the mound and soft pop-ups to the infield. I was all glove, remember?

And then, there was the curveball. Old Uncle Charlie. The Hook.

We were playing our arch-rival, Calvert Hall. The kid pitching was throwing smoke. I was terrified sitting on the bench watching him. I knew I had no chance to make any kind of contact against him.

When I dug in against him I knew I had no hope. He blew two fastballs past me right down the middle. I was basically frozen in place. Then he wound up and delivered and the ball was screaming right at my head and I ducked down and lost my balance and wound up on my butt, in the dirt. And the umpire bellowed, “Steeeeee-rike THREE!” And I looked at the catcher in amazement as he casually tossed the ball back to the pitcher. The entire Calvert Hall bench was howling in laughter. I’m pretty sure most of our bench was cracking up too.

At that very moment I realized that major league scouts would never have any interest in me. The dream was over. Long live the dream.

I really don’t have any idea what our record was that year or if I even got a hit after that at bat. I just knew that my baseball playing days were finished. And I was alright with that. The game of baseball would just have to move on without me.

When we’re 15 we have a lifetime of hopes and dreams in front of us. Some of our childhood dreams begin to come into clearer focus, and some fade away quietly. Some dreams are shattered into a million little bits by a curveball that puts us right on our butts. And that’s alright. We can get up, dust off and go back to the bench to gather our thoughts and think about the next challenge.

I see my own 15 year-old handwriting and it makes me smile. I remember that kid. I always liked him, even if he couldn’t hit a curveball. I’m pretty sure that kid would like me too. Maybe we could have a catch.

I wouldn’t give away too many details about the life he was going to live. That wouldn’t be fair. I would let him know there would be a lot more curveballs ahead. But if he hung in there and trusted his swing, he’d learn how to handle them. There would be a lot of dirt to brush off. That’s just part of the game. I’d tell him to keep on playing and never give in.

It’s funny how something like this hat didn’t matter to me when I was 15. Obviously it couldn’t have mattered because it somehow wound up in a box in Todd’s attic. But it sure matters to me now.

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trying to make sense of it


They won't be playing ACC football in 2020, right? I mean, maybe the conference won't care that the University of North Carolina is moving to an all-virtual experience, but if the Tar Heels wind up not playing football in the fall, others will surely follow.

Is all of this football stuff really worth the $30 million each ACC school receives from its television deal?

(Editor's note: We all know the answer to that. Yes, endangering people is worth $30 million to ACC schools.)

NFL teams have an easier go of it in that they can truly control who enters their buildings and facilities, but even that will be a tough task once the season starts and more access is needed from staffers, team personnel and members of the local and national media.

What would Dabo Swinney and Clemson do if the ACC decides not to pursue a fall football season in 2020?

But colleges? They have no control over anything, basically. Last week at Notre Dame, 50 students tested positive for Covid-19. UNC then reported 30 positive tests. In both situations, students admitted to attending large parties in and around campus. And, as we all know, where there are 50 cases reported, there are likely double that going unreported.

So it stands to reason that schools like Notre Dame and North Carolina will eventually have to discontinue in-school attendance, at least through the first semester. And when you can no longer have kids on campus because of safety reasons, how will you be able to have athletic practices and games?

We all knew this was coming. It's certainly not a surprise if you've been following along since March.

The most important word in the world of education, when it comes to Covid-19, is liability. Schools don't want any of it. They're obviously concerned about the impact of the virus on their students, staff and administrators. One death is too many and, on top of that, you could have to fight a massive lawsuit as a result of it.

Some conferences are going to play football in the fall, just like some colleges are going to go on as if nothing is happening. But along the way, there will be damage. Some folks in South Bend and Chapel Hill were blaming the college kids for their irresponsible behavior and there's a smidgen of truth to that. While most of the nation goes out of its way to not get the virus, college students appear as if they're willing to challenge it head on.

But the problem with getting the virus is that you pass it on to others. That is, in fact, how you got it in the first place. Someone gave it to you. You give it to others. And, in the end, no one gets well.

That said, expecting 19-year old college students to stay in on a Friday and Saturday night and watch Jeopardy! reruns is as smart as playing Chris Davis on your fantasy baseball team tonight and expecting him to deliver you 20 points. Neither are happening.

If there would be some way to just "bubble" the college athletes for their 4-5 month seasons, that protocol might very well work. As the statistics continue to indicate, children and young adults appear far less vulnerable to the serious nature of the coronavirus. But the bubble idea is easier said than done, particularly if your college has full or hybrid on-campus learning and you expect your college athletes to -- ahem -- actually attend classes.

The healthiest and safest scenario is still anyone's guess. Scrap in-school attendance all together and go completely virtual until a vaccine is developed? That's one way to go. Teachers, administrators and "older people" involved in the educational system would certainly feel more safe. Allow athletes to attend their classes via the virtual or on-line setting? That's certainly an option, although it would be silly to think there still wouldn't be Covid-19 risks involved with playing sports, traveling to other cities/campuses, and so on.

It was a mess in March. It was a mess in June. And here we are, creeping up on September, and it's still pretty much a mess.

It won't be long before UNC decides they can't safely have football this season. And once that happens, how will Duke, Wake Forest and NC State react?


There are rumors swirling that the Ravens might potentially open their stadium to 7,500 fans at the start of the 2020 NFL season. Some teams, like the Bears, have already announced they won't be allowing fans into the stadium when the season starts in mid-September. The Chiefs are still "investigating" the possibility of having fans in the seats. The Ravens are as well.

My contact says "things change every day." Back in April, the Ravens assumed they'd be playing in front of fans in September. In May, they started to think that perhaps they'd be playing in front of 20,000 or so. By late June, they had given up hope of having any fans in the seats.

"Things change every day," a source with knowledge of the organization's plans told #DMD on Monday. "They have plans in place in the event there are no fans in the stadium or a certain percentage of fans. But they're coming down to the wire now. They have a decision to make within the next week or so."

Indeed, even if 7,500 fans are permitted to attend home games to start the season, things have to be put in place. Food and drinks have to be ordered, staffing and security have to be organized and the lottery method used to distribute/sell tickets has to be implemented.

Oh, and there's that sticky situation called the "waiver of liability" that fans entering NFL stadiums will likely have to sign in 2020. It's a matter of protocol, of course, but it will likely be required for anyone "fortunate enough" to buy a ticket and sit in an NFL stadium this year.

And all of this begs the question. Why bother?

Seriously. Why bother going through everything just to have 7,500 or 10,000 people in the stadium? What's the purpose? It can't be money. How much can a team raise by selling 7,500 tickets per-game? $750,000 or so? And what's that $6 million mean to an organization that gets roughly $260 million per-year from television?

I get it. $6 million is $6 million. But is it worth it?


By now, we've all seen that basketball and hockey got it right and the other team sport attempting to play right now, baseball, whiffed on their "restart". Golf and auto racing are working out OK but those are primarily individual sports with a "traveling bubble" so to speak and everyone is tested before, during and after competition. It's not perfect, but it's working thus far.

The NFL seems hell bent on playing in 2020 and that's certainly a good thing for the sporting world and the league itself. We'd all survive without football in 2020 in the same way we survived without baseball from April until July, but we'd also be fibbing if we said we wouldn't miss the action every Sunday and Monday.

The Canadian Football League just announced they won't be playing this coming season in part because of pressures from the Canadian government. I'm not suggesting the NFL should follow suit and not play in 2020, but the bet here is the league endures a rocky ride throughout September and October.

If you think it's hard to tell a college kid not to go out on a Friday or Saturday night, try telling that to a professional football player.

Or better yet, ask those two guys on the Cleveland Indians who decided it was OK to potentially expose their teammates and their families to the virus because they wanted to chase a couple of groupies in Chicago a couple of weeks ago.

As benign as the playing conditions are in the NHL and NBA bubbles, they're at least having a representative competition with nearly all of the players healthy and playing every night. Major League Baseball is a wreck, with a handful of teams on the verge of playing upwards of 45 or 50 games unless everything runs perfectly from here until the end of September.

I hope the NFL gets it right. With or without fans, I hope the league makes the correct decisions along the way. The health and safety of the NFL far past 2020 depends on how things go for them over the next three or four months.

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Euro Soccer Recap 8/17


Champions League

The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals took place this week, with a game each day from Tuesday through Saturday. The quarterfinals were set up as a March Madness style, single elimination bracket, instead of the usual two-leg pairings due to the COVID shutdown. This new format brought high drama to each of these elimination games.

The marquee matchup featured heavyweights Barcelona and Bayern Munich. The game had a promising start, with each team scoring within the first ten minutes. After which it quickly became apparent that Barcelona could not handle the high pressure defense implemented by Bayern. The Germans capitalized on a turnover in the Barcelona area to take the lead in the 21st minute and quickly added a third goal just six minutes later. From there the rout was on. In a manner reminiscent of the Germany 7-1 win over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, Bayern completely dismantled Barcelona for an 8-2 victory.

Much will be written about the demise of Barcelona, as this game will be earmarked as the definitive end of an era for the club. However, this game continued the theme of Bayern dominance that has carried throughout 2020. This was the perfect example of how soccer is a team game, with Bayern’s cohesive and coordinated play overwhelming Barcelona, with little the greatest player in the world, Leo Messi, could do to counter.

Bayern saw key contributions from nearly every player on the team, including substitutes, but Thomas Muller in particular put on a masterclass with two goals and an assist. Central midfielder Thiago and left back Alphonso Davies were also outstanding for the Bavarians. At this point it would be pretty shocking if Bayern did not finish the season as European champions.

For Barcelona the reaction was swift, as their coach was fired before the end of the night and their long time center back Gerard Pique commented that they had hit rock bottom. This short offseason could now see an exodus of aging stars from Barcelona, as they try to quickly rebuild to maximize Messi’s final years.

Saturday’s David versus Goliath matchup of Lyon and Manchester City would determine whether Bayern would face another European giant or a resilient underdog.

Pep Guardiola continued his trend of deploying a tactical wrinkle in the biggest European games, deviating from his usual 4-3-3 to field a more defensive minded back three. This only seemed to stifle Man City’s dynamic attack as they struggled to generate chances throughout the first half.

Lyon broke the game open in the 24th minute when a ball over the top broke down the Man City back line and led to a tidy finish from Maxwel Cornet. Lyon carried the 1-0 lead until midway through the second half when Man City abandoned the back three and brought on another attacker in Riyad Mahrez, who began a move down the left side that ended with Kevin De Bruyne placing a shot in the side net to even the score. Despite the momentum seeming to favor the English side at this point, Lyon struck back against the run of play with a counter attack goal from substitute Moussa Dembele in the 79th minute. Man City had a golden chance to equalize moments later, but Raheem Sterling inexplicably put a tap in over the open net.

Lyon pounced on another Man City error in the 87th minute for another counter attacking goal to secure the massive upset. The French underdogs will face another enormous test in Tuesday’s semifinal against Bayern Munich.

On the other side of the bracket, the heavily favored French champions, Paris St. Germain took on Italian club Atalanta. PSG star Neymar waltzed through the Atalanta defense several times early on but showed his rust by terribly shanking each chance. The scrappy Italian side took a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute when a loose ball fell to Mario Pasalic at the top of the box and he buried it in the upper corner.

Atalanta held the lead into the second half, when in the 59th minute they subbed off their best attacker to solidify their defense. The strategy looked as though it would work for the Italian side as they held the lead with injury time approaching, but it was not to be. Despite squandering numerous chances, Neymar proved relentless and in the 90th minute provided an assist to Marquinhos to tie the game at 1-1.

Several minutes later, in the closing moments of the game, Neymar slipped a pass behind the defense for Kylian Mbappe who crossed for Eric Choupo-Moting to finish and give PSG a buzzer beating victory.

On Thursday, RB Leipzig and Atletico Madrid met to determine who would meet Paris St. Germain in the semifinal. The teams seemed to feel each other out for the first half, with neither side known for their attacking creativity.

It wasn’t until the 50th minute that the scoreless draw was broken, when Marcel Sabitzer hit a pinpoint cross for a Dani Olmo header to open the scoring for Leipzig. The introduction of Portuguese starlet Joao Felix helped Atletico turn the tide, as the attacker performed a tidy give and go with Diego Costa to draw a penalty kick which Felix converted.

This set the stage for RB Leipzig substitute, American Tyler Adams. Adams entered in the 72nd minute for Konrad Laimer as a hybrid right back and midfielder. In the 88th minute Leipzig produced a quick build up through a phenomenal pass from Sabitzer, and eventually Adams received a cut back pass at the top of the box and struck a low and hard shot that deflected off an Atletico defender and in for the game winning goal. The goal was Adams’s first in a Leipzig uniform and also the first goal by an American this late in the Champions League tournament.

Leipzig will be underdogs to the French champions in the semifinal matchup, but the tactical acumen of coach Julian Nagelsmann will certainly give them a chance to pull off the upset on Wednesday.


USMNT Roster Overview - Attackers

Today we will examine the final USMNT position group, the attackers. Coach Berhalter generally deploys three attackers in his starting lineup, with two wingers and one striker. Two of the starters in this group are fairly clear while the third is likely a battle between two players.

The locked in starter is the easy first name on the lineup sheet, Christian Pulisic, at left wing. Pulisic just completed an incredibly successful first season in the English Premier League, locking down the starting left wing spot and asserting himself as both Chelsea and the US team’s most important attacker. Starting Pulisic on the left side allows him to cut inside on his favored right foot to score or create chances. He will also often drift centrally to link up the attack and become a playmaker.

The starting winger on the opposite side from Pulisic is not as clear cut. Currently, Jordan Morris is the most likely choice. Morris is a key contributor for the Seattle Sounders and creates matchup problems for most MLS defenders with his speed and physicality. He has greatly improved his touch and passing over the past few years as well.

His main competition is rapidly rising teenage prodigy Gio Reyna. Reyna burst onto the scene this season with consistent substitute appearances for Borussia Dortmund, flashing passing ability and touch that few in the US pool can match. If Reyna becomes a regular starter for Dortmund he will make the decision easier for Berhalter to supplant Morris. Reyna is also an option in midfield as his position for Dortmund is more of a central attacking mid than a true winger.

Beyond these three players the pool on the wings dries up quickly. There is a lack of quality depth at this position with the reserves consisting of unspectacular MLS veterans and unproven young prospects. The most exciting of these options is Tim Weah. A standout in the last U20 World Cup, Weah made a big money move to Lille in the French league but has suffered a series of injuries since. Weah has now recovered from his injuries and if he can regain his form for Lille he should provide a solid backup option at minimum and potentially push for a starting spot.

Paul Arriola has been a mainstay on the US team as a scrappy and energetic veteran, but he is currently recovering from a serious leg injury. Other backup options include Tyler Boyd who is coming off a disappointing season for Besiktas in Turkey, Jonathan Lewis who has seen success as a substitute for Colorado, and Ullyses Llanez who shined in his first US appearance but has yet to crack the Wolfsburg first team.

The striker position has been one of the most frustrating for the US since the days of Brian McBride. Jozy Altidore has been a solid contributor when healthy but has been plagued by consistent injury issues. He remains the best option at this position if he is healthy, with the most proven international track record of the group. There are several options behind Altidore.

The hope for the US is that 20 year old Josh Sargent can take the next step in his development and seize this position by the time the 2022 World Cup comes around. Sargent had an up and down season for relegation threatened Werder Bremen this year and has not yet shown the consistency of performance to supplant Altidore as the starter. He will look to build on a solid finish to the season and earn a larger role at Bremen in the new season this fall.

In the absence of Altidore, Gyasi Zardes has often been preferred by Berhalter. Zardes lacks the touch and precision to excel at the international level, but he brings energy and athleticism and years of experience with Berhalter’s system. One additional player who could earn a spot in a backup role is Jesus Ferreira of FC Dallas. Coming off a solid season for FC Dallas he was impressive in his first US appearance earlier this year. Ferreira has a hybrid skill set between a striker and attacking midfielder which allows him to fit well into this role for Berhalter, linking up play with the midfield and wingers.

Three other promising players to keep an eye on are Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland), Ayo Akinola (Toronto), and Indiana Vassilev (Aston Villa).

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

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i have the answers (not sure if they're right)


Rich asks: Who wins the NBA's "playoff bubble"?

DF: Come on, a question about the NBA to lead things off? Why not just ask me about an upcoming MMA card? I've been following enough to know Portland's semi-dangerous after Dame's awesome performance in the final portion of the regular season schedule played in Orlando, but I'm not sure they have enough to beat the Lakers in round one. I think Miami could sneak up on people in the East, but they're going to have to play well just to get past Indiana. It would completely shock me to see one of those two teams in the East final. The experts say Milwaukee and the Lakers are the favorites to meet in the Final, but I say only one of those two makes it that far. I like Houston as a possible upstart in the West, but they need Russell Westbrook back -- and healthy -- in order to compete. They're already rebounding-challenged with Westbrook, but without him, they'll get dominated on the glass. Prediction: Milwaukee beats the L.A. Clippers in 5 games to win it all.


D.L. asks: If the Ravens somehow stumble and don't win the AFC North, who will win the division?

DF: Well, you can poke holes in all of the other teams, but under your scenario, one of them has to win. It obviously wouldn't be the Bengals, who are likely a couple of years away from competing for the division title. (I guess this is where I should note the Ravens made the playoffs and advanced to the AFC title game in the first year of Joe Flacco's tenure). I don't see Pittsburgh being a threat, but if they can play defense in '20 the way they did in '19, I guess they could cobble together 10 wins somehow. I just don't see how they're going to score a lot of points with that offense up there. So that leaves -- believe it or not -- the Browns. They'd be the team most likely to win the division if somehow the Ravens throw a shoe and don't win it. Cleveland does have a lot of offensive firepower and despite Baker Mayfield's semi-accurate-arm, they can run the ball and occasionall throw it effectivel