#DMD GAME DAY
|New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens
4:05 PM EDT
M&T Bank Stadium
Spread: Ravens -2½
If the Ravens defense can't stop Drew Brees and that New Orleans offense, perhaps the wind and weather can help silence them.
Who knows what the conditions will be at kick-off -- you know what they say about Baltimore weather, if you don't like it, wait four hours or so and it will change -- but if it's anything at 4 pm like it was at 4 am this morning, Brees and his counterpart, Joe Flacco, will be in for an interesting afternoon.
Then again, it was rainy and yucky back on September 9 and September 23 and Flacco carved up the Bills and Broncos. But the wind in those two games was nothing like we might see in this afternoon's contest. So it's anyone's guess how the weather could impact the two offenses today.
No matter, though, today's contest presents each team with a real test.
The Ravens are facing one of the league's most powerful offenses and an all-time great NFL signal caller in Brees. And not only can New Orleans pepper their way down the field with every passing play imaginable, they can also run the ball effectively.
New Orleans hasn't seen a defense like this one yet in 2018. While their offense has feasted on the likes of awful defenses in Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Washington, when they were pressed by the Browns' "decent" defense back in week 2, they were held to just 21 points in an overtime victory.
Yes, that Cleveland game might have been their in-season outlier, but the reality for New Orleans stays the same. The defense they're facing today is, by far, the best one they've seen this season.
As for Baltimore, if they need a "big win" for their self-esteem, that opportunity presents itself front and center this afternoon.
Beating the Saints isn't quite like beating New England, but anytime you get the better of Brees, it's front page news. That they're getting him away from the cozy confines of New Orleans' domed stadium is most certainly an added bonus for John Harbaugh's team.
The run through the NFC South that starts today for Baltimore could very well wind up helping to decide the AFC North title. The Bengals, Ravens and Steelers all get their shot at Brees and the other three NFC South foes. There's probably no harm in a 4-game split. A 3-1 mark would be ideal. But going 1-3 against the Saints, Bucs, Falcons and Panthers could be a division-decider. This week and next week in Carolina gives the Ravens a chance to start that quest in a positive fashion.
Today's game features a lot of nooks and crannies.
What's the acceptable limit for Brees' production? 2 TD's and 275 yards in the air seems like the kind of number the Ravens would gladly take before the game even starts. If they can limit Brees to those numbers, Baltimore should win the game.
And what about Joe Flacco? What do the Ravens need from him and the offense? Can Flacco throw for at least 3 TD's and 300 yards? Can the Baltimore running game produce at least 120 yards on the ground? Those two sets of numbers seem perfectly aligned with a Ravens win. Flacco, of course, has never had a 400 yard passing game in his career. A wild, throw-it-every-time shootout with Drew Brees doesn't seem like it would favor Flacco and Marty Mornhinweg, so it will be important to sprinkle in lots of running this afternoon.
Can the Baltimore defense take a few lumps today and still soldier on? What happens if Brees slices and dices them a couple of times in the first quarter? Can the Ravens stay "in it" and not cave in to the pressure of facing a Hall of Famer who might occasionally make them look bad?
And with the potential for windy conditions at 4:05 pm, what about the kickers? Nothing seemingly stops Justin Tucker, but if there's one thing out of his control that could impact his ability to connect on field goals, it's high winds.
While it seems like today's game comes down to one line item -- Brees vs. the Baltimore defense -- the truth is the Baltimore offense will have to do something of significance if they hope to be 5-2 at day's end. The Ravens likely aren't winning this one 17-13.
Once again, the heat is on Joe Flacco. Last week was easy. He had to outduel Marcus Mariota. This week is a step up in class for both Flacco and the Ravens as a whole.
Note: "Show Me The Money" is in audio form today. Just to go to the "Juice" podcast in the upper right corner above and you'll hear all five of my NFL picks for week #7.
I'm making this prediction based on the fact I believe the weather won't be a major factor by 4 pm. The forecast shows diminishing winds throughout the day, down to 13 MPH by 4 pm. While the conditions might not be ideal later this afternoon, they won't be hazardous to Flacco and Brees.
Expect the Ravens to mix the run and pass today, or at least as long as they're not behind by two scores. If they should fall behind by double digits, we all know that triggers an "abandon the run" philosophy in Mornhinweg.
Running the ball effectively not only helps keep the defense off balance, it also helps decrease the number of times Drew Brees might get on the field to engineer the New Orleans offense.
Ball control helps the Ravens today. No two ways about it.
So with that, I see, in general, a lower scoring game than most people think.
Baltimore moves down the field quickly on their first series, with Flacco using former Saints receiver Willie Snead effectively. A big Michael Crabtree catch puts the Ravens in the red zone but the drive stalls there and the Ravens settle for an early field goal.
An impressive Saints drive abruptly ends on a ball batted up in the air at the line of scrimmage by Za'Darius Smith, who then watches C.J. Mosley grab it and return it 54 yards for a field-switching turnover.
Five players later, Flacco finds Snead for a touchdown against his former employer, and the Ravens lead 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, a Brees touchdown throw -- the 500th of his career -- to former Raven tight end Benjamin Watson cuts the Baltimore lead to 10-6, as the Saints miss the extra point.
New Orleans then connects on a field goal just before halftime to make it 10-9 at intermission.
The Ravens get a 3rd quarter TD run from Alex Collins to go up 17-9. On New Orleans' next possession, Brees has a pass picked off by Marlon Humphrey.
Flacco finds Michael Crabtree in the end zone in the final minute of the 3rd quarter to put the Ravens up 24-9.
Alvin Kamara's 12-yard scamper into the end with six minutes left in the game makes it 24-15. The Saints go for two and are denied.
Flacco and the Ravens convert on two big third down plays on the next series, and Tucker makes it 27-15 with a 43 yard field goal.
And that's how it ends. The Ravens improve to 5-2 with a 27-15 win, where they hold Drew Brees to one touchdown throw and 297 yards in the air.
One thing is certain in these parts. We have a team to root for in the World Series.
They're called the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers earned their second straight trip to the World Series last night with a 5-1 win in Game 7 at Milwaukee. They'll now face the Red Sox -- who own home field advantage -- starting on Tuesday night.
So...we can't possibly hope to see Boston win the title, right? Right.
And the Dodgers do have Manny Machado, so for those of you who can still stomach his Hollywood act out there in L.A., there's yet another reason to want the Dodgers to win.
Anyone but Boston...
And since there are only two teams remaining, that means we have to pull for Los Angeles.
Sadly, I don't think it's happening.
Red Sox win the series in six games.
I can't even think about the torture we'll have to go through hearing Boston sports fans remind us the Red Sox have won four World Series titles since the last time the Orioles won one.
My stomach already hurts just thinking about it.
|Taylor October 21|
|Clown shoes.....dmd twitter|
|That Guy October 21|
|That was a choke job today. Let's be honest about it.|
|RJ October 21|
|Will be another week of p*ssing and moaning on radio and social media, but TEN, BUF and JAX were all playoff teams last year, who would trade this Ravens team for any one of those this year?
After O's season, I'm good with "being in the hunt"...and yes, that's a low bar
|James October 21|
|Drew guaranteed another winning week cuz he's 3-1 heading into the KC - Cincy game. Not many professional handicappers have seven straight winning weeks. Not sure how he's doing it but its impressive.
|Fred October 21|
|Nice picks , too bad he's a total clown on twitter...then again, it is twitter lol!|
|Josh October 21|
|Justin Tucker was due to miss a PAT. Figures it’d be in a crucial spot. 10-6 will be tough now|
|Bones October 21|
|DF cooling off now. About to miss the Ravens game and the Rams/49'ers game.|
|John L. October 21|
|OK, this is getting ridiculous now. @Drew called the Brees to Watson TD.
In the second quarter, a Brees touchdown throw -- the 500th of his career -- to former Raven tight end Benjamin Watson cuts the Baltimore lead to 10-6, as the Saints miss the extra point.
|I'm a Believer October 21|
|Well don't look now but Drew just went 3-0 in the early games.|
|Brien Jackson October 21|
"All you really need out of the running game these days is to be effective in short yardage scenarios. If the bulk of your yardage doesn't come through the air then you probably aren't going to be a very good offense, and there's no correlation to winning either."
"If the Ravens stop him today they deserve all of the credit for it with no asterisks for the weather."
|DF October 21|
|Huh? I never wrote/said the Ravens are losing 17-13. You must be hungover.|
|Big Fat Daddy October 21|
|Hmm - Drew are you working both sides of the ball? You write Ravens lose 17-13 - then you say Ravens win 27 - 15. My view - Ravens lose 27 - 13.|
|Sam October 21|
I say this to you with all due respect. What was your intended point in both of those October 21 publishings with your name attached to them?
|Brien Jackson October 21|
|Oh, and the dome effect for Brees is significantly overstated. Remember that he was a record setting quarterback at Purdue, which is extremely cold and windy in November, and to the extent that the splits exist he goes from otherworldly in a dome to merely great outside. If the Ravens stop him today they deserve all of the credit for it with no asterisks for the weather.|
|Brien Jackson October 21|
|Here's some fun with early season stats:
Of the top five teams in rushing yards per game, only the Rams
and 49ers aree in the top 12 in total offense, while the Browns, Panthers, and Cowboys are in the bottom 12 and only the Rams and Panthers have winning records. Only the Rams are averaging 25 points a game from the bunch.
Meanwhile the top 7 passing offenses are all in the top 8 in total offense, only two are below.500 and more teams are averaging 30 points per game or more than are under 25 (and that's the Packers at 24.7). The Ravens are 21st in rushing yards per game, 9th in passing, 9th in total offense, and 11th in scoring at 25.5 points per game. What's the outlier in that group?
All you really need out of the running game these days is to be effective in short yardage scenarios. If the bulk of your yardage doesn't come through the air then you probably aren't going to be a very good offense, and there's no correlation to winning either.
|John In Westminster October 21|
|First team to 27 win's today's contest. Most likely that will be the Saints in OT.|
|mike from catonsville October 20|
|Loh- must go
Durkin- must go- can't repair the damage
With the FBI asking about Maryland basketball these could be dark days at UMCP.
|David October 19|
|You do know the NBA instituted the one and done and not college basketball?|
|Fireball Roberts October 19|
|What does Brady Anderson do for the Orioles ? Besides walking around the Warehouse showing off his abs. I would think any GM or coach would want to know this before taking a job with the club. Who in the world wants Brady lurking around, spying on you. The team needs to get the stink off of it and any high profile person from this past season needs to go.|
|HERMAN October 19|
|I'm not sure the issue right now is between a kid going to a big time school and playing college ball or signing for money in the G league.
The issue is that payola is being nakedly exposed. The entire system is corrupt and the lid is coming off the cover ups. It's endemic and systematic, part of the fabric of the college game at the highest level. And according to current NCAA laws illegal. They have to either legalize the payola, or create a viable alternative where the graft and corruption can be cleansed. The shoe companies and others profiting from the current mess realize the game they are playing cannot last.
The thin veneer of sanctity of the hallowed NCAA that is a complete fraud is being torn apart article by article.
This pay for play league is a way to bring all the corruption above board, and return the NCAA back to amateur athletics.
|Jason M October 19|
|It's an early season marquee match up between the league's best defense and one of the leagues best offenses. I'm looking forward to packed stands and a lot of buzz in the air. While allt he talk is about Drew Brees, I don;t think we've faced a team with running backs like Ingram and Kamora yet. I am not a fan of 4 pm games, but I suppose this was to accommodate the Baltimore Marathon, it would have been a total CF to have that ending as the game was beginning.|
|Chris in Bel Air October 19|
|Totally agree with David's comments below. Some of these kids have Been hyped since they were 12 years old. Going to the G-league will provide a nice paycheck but that will not be the same as strutting around the campuses at Kentucky, UNC, UCLA, etc... as the 5-star recruit. I hope it works but am not sold.
A lot of hype for the Ravens game against the Saints. I get it, this game can provide a bellwether for the season. Beating the Saints shows they are ready to hang with any team in the league. However, The Ravens aren't likely to win all of their remaining games and given that assumption, their really isn't much difference in winning this week or beating Car next week (2 NFC opponents). Hopefully they do win all their remaining games but to me, in the Ravens quest for the division title, they need to split against NO and Car but take BOTH games against Pitt and Cincy. Those games are key games. Not this one against NO.
|David Rosenfeld October 19|
|HS players could already go into the G-League...it's just that now certain "select" ones will be able to make $125K instead of $35K.
It'll be interesting to see how many guys really want to do this. Honestly, there is much more glamour (charter flights, enthusiasm, big arenas, TV, etc.) playing at Duke than there is playing for the Iowa Wolves and taking buses.
|Alan October 19|
|Right on Drew!
I sure wish I would have been "forced" to get a free education back in 1988 when I was piling up $150K in student loans to go to Penn.
|email@example.com October 19|
|Too much money in College BB and won't college programs cry foul.
Good idea but lots of hurdles.
|Brien Jackson October 19|
|The most likely outcome is that the G-League flops because no one wants to watch minor league sports not associated with colleges. But assuming that it does take hold, big time programs will just start openly paying the players more than NBA development will. There's just no world in which these schools stop making billions of dollars on TV revenues, ticket and concession sales, sponsorships, etc. It's a nice thought, but not going to happen.|
|unitastoberry October 19|
|Missed the poll yesterday but I'm all for handing off to Collins more if he can hold on to it. We still have not seen last years version between the 20s but he's deadly in the red zone.|
|Henry October 18|
|KA :: For my I formation. What is the FEDERAL rate?|
|BW October 18|
|Brien point 1 is not correct at all. Transferring assets into any vehicle does not allow the donor to bypass estate tax at all. They can be used to bypass probate but not the tax. That's not debatable. However, it can be done to transfer assets generationally at a discounted estate valuation. I'm quite sure that was done to at least mitigate some of the tax.|
|George October 18|
|Just got inside info from a Boston cab driver - Manny is lazy.|
|K.A. October 18|
|The maximum amount of state estate tax allowed in the state of Maryland is 16%. FYI.|
|T October 18|
|"IRS", you're wrong.|
|Theotherguy October 18|
|McCoy is washed up, his "baggage" is irrelevant|
|HERMAN October 18|
|Hard to believe that Brees has never beaten the Ravens. 0-4 against us. I do hope we can continue the streak.
Read we are number one in points allowed so far this season, given the changes in rules to favor the Offense it speaks to how well they are playing.
I'd like to see them get the running game going this week, keep Brees off the field, establish a few time-killing drives. A balanced O is our best defense at keeping Brees on the sidelines.
|IRS October 18|
|The estate tax is assessed on the value as of date of death. The purchase price does not matter. I look forward to reviewing your tax returns once I have completed my review of DMD's books and records.|
|JGB October 18|
|You're wrong, sir/madam. The estate tax in the Orioles ownership situation only pertains to the initial purchase of the asset, not improvements or assessments. The estate tax in Maryland is therefore subject to the price that was paid for the asset as long as it wasn't transferred during the time of ownership. If Peter G. Angelos paid $170 million for the Orioles, the estate tax total on that would be $68 million, minus roughly 10% that the state allows for attorney and legal fees in preparation for the estate settlement.|
|IRS October 18|
|The federal estate tax is 40%. $1.2 billion * 40% is $480 million. You're off by about $420 million. I look forward to reviewing DMD's tax returns very soon!|
|JGB October 18|
|Brien Jackson has no clue. There's a difference between an inheritance tax and estate tax. The Orioles, as owned by Peter G. Angelos, are subject to the estate tax.|
|enlightened observer October 18|
|I am just so thankful that I found this web site and have access to the knowledge and wisdom of Brien Jackson. There is not a topic out there that he cannot articulate clearly and confidently about, so that the rest of us can become just a little bit smarter, day by day. I’ve looked elsewhere, but apparently #DMD has him signed to some sort of exclusive contract. And the best part is, we don’t even have to pay for the access! That David guy writes a good column from time to time, but he is no Brien Jackson. Can’t wait for the books to start pouring out, all that knowledge needs to be disseminated to the masses, we’d all be better for it. Perhaps @MFC can write the prologues|
|Unitastoberry October 18|
|If the Orioles don't have a GM and field manager by Thanksgiving MLB
needs to step in micromanage.
|mike from catonsville October 18|
|Why not make a big pitch for Mark Shapiro, let's get LOCAL!
If I win Mega tomorrow night I'm putting my bid in to buy the O's. Biff will be my GM. I'm bringing back Schoop to play 3'rd also bringing back Adam Jones. Hell he was our best hitter. Going to let the young arms pitch and see where they take us. You will be safe and have fun at the park.
|HERMAN October 18|
|Sports teams value cannot be measured the way another business might be measured, say a local tool maker, or spice company. The value doesn't rely solely on revenue and expenses, ego plays a major part. Owning a baseball franchise, or football franchise is owning a major trophy, being part of an exclusive club, it is a enviable toy for only the very wealthy.
Owning a port-a-potty company might be extremely profitable, but offers no cache. Owning even a struggling major league ball club boosts the ego and prestige like few other assets.
|Brien Jackson October 18|
|So MLB ownership and financial matters are usually quite opaque and messy, but I am at least 95% sure that:
1. Ownership has been transferred to some sort of family trust that would allow for a straight transition to the sons in the event of Peter's death AND shield them from inheritance tax bills.
2. The Angelos family isn't going to sell the team so long as they own MASN, which would be worthless without baseball rights.
3. The money flowing in from MLB central revenue streams right now is enough to float them in the short term without investors, especially with payroll nosediving.
|such October 18|
|Very interesting piece from David today. And very timely, for me at least. It happens that my son, a current high school senior and a wonderful basketball player, is very interested in F&M, mainly because of his admiration and connection with Coach Robinson. That man is a legitimate legend. He reminds me very much of the late John Gagliardi, who coached football at DIII St. John's University in Minnesota for over 50 years. The core principles of teaching college students to become responsible men through effort, leadership and helping your teammates grow are still meaningful to kids like my son. We've been to visit numerous colleges, toured the campuses, met the coaches and professors, yet Coach Robinson has had the most impact on him. He's excited at the prospect of playing for him and learning from him and the entire F&M community for the next 4 years. And I'm excited for him.
It speaks to a person's character that they would stay so long in what many consider a "little school" instead of chasing higher paying, more renowned places. Thanks for offering a glimpse into what makes Coach Robinson so successful. It makes me that much more confident in my son's decision.
|John In Westminster October 18|
|Great piece of work by Brian Baldinger exposing tye Ravens blocking schemes as the real issue with the running game. Shows us running into 6 defenders one time while we only have 4 blockers. On other plays he highlights our TEs pulling to block much larger D lineman which is always a mismatch. Pretty telling. Check his Twitter.|
|Robert October 18|
|One salient point regarding the dollar value/worth vis-a-vis the Orioles, Forbes, whomever: the price is ALWAYS (actually by definition) what an informed buyer will pay a willing seller. To say that the period from a few months ago into the foreseeable future for the black & orange is certainly to be one of tumult, from the brass to the boys. The captain has turned on the "fasten your seat belts now" signs. Karma is a beotch.|
|Chris in Bel Air October 18|
|Drew, true stuff on our O's. The next GM and manager for the O's won't lure investors and season ticket holders. Their job is to develop a team of players with some real talent and promise. That's the only thing that will bring the money back in.
Shady McCoy? No thank you. The Ravens need to get better blocking up front and just pound away with the guys they currently have.
|Steve of Sandtown October 18|
|People's reactions to Manny,reminds me of a guy whose hot looking girlfriend dumps him and then he starts badmouthing her.|
|Brien Jackson October 17|
|I don't think I can work this into a full length sport centric column but just to note: The story about Facebook telling massive lies about video ad data is a really big deal for sports media, directly got hundreds if not thousands of writers fired, and not only should Facebook have to pay every one of those writers substantial recompense for their fraud, someone from the company really should go to jail for it.|
|Falcon October 17|
|First time poster here. Love the site. I'm trying to read between the lines about Machado and the Canton-Federal Hill stories. Anyone care to elaborate?
Sounds juicy but without details I don't know what to think.
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A little more than two months ago, a national story broke in the wake of Jordan McNair's death at the University of Maryland.
"The toxic culture within Maryland football".
There's no need to go over the details again. If you've even half-followed the story, you know what happened.
But there's a "new" story from College Park.
And here it is: There's been no formal resolution to anything connected with that culture at Maryland.
Sure, Rick Court lost his job. He was the strength and conditioning coach who supervised a lot of the dangerous tactics that were revealed in the mid-August story.
Oh, and head coach D.J. Durkin was placed on administrative leave -- "suspended", if you will -- while the school investigated the death of McNair and how/why it happened on Durkin's watch.
But it's October 20 now and Durkin is still, technically, employed by the school. There have been whispers recently that Durkin continues to gain support from within the program itself -- players, staffers, etc. -- as it relates to the environment at College Park.
How can it take an institution as big and advanced as Maryland more than two months to render a verdict on something as cut-and-dried as this sad saga?
Two months to come up with an answer. Two months. And yet, they haven't done it.
They've had reports and commissions and more reports. Countless hours of interviews, testimony and so on. The school has spent 70 days investigating this story.
The strength and conditioning coach was fired.
And thus far, that's it.
I'm certainly not leading a witch-hunt for Durkin's job. If Maryland has dug their way all to China and back and they don't have enough evidence in place to fire Durkin, then don't fire him. Fair enough.
If you're going to fire him, do it. Pay the man what you owe him and start fresh with Matt Canada -- the interim head coach -- or someone else.
We all know, of course, that's part of the reason why Durkin wasn't terminated right away. Maryland didn't want to pay him money for not coaching. Maryland wanted to fire him, logically. But they didn't want to pay him.
Meanwhile, 70 days later, the school looks like they can't get from Parkville to Perry Hall without a GPS.
Oh, and here's the kicker to the whole thing. How much money do you think Maryland has spent in this investigation? How many attorney hours have been billed? It's been an expensive last two months, you can bet on that.
Here's a wager I'd make: Maryland has spent more money on the investigation than they would have spent on just firing Durkin and paying him.
Two months later...and still no real direction from the administration at College Park.
Yesterday, the Maryland Board of Regents received a report from the commission they hired to investigate McNair's death and Maryland's role in it.
"We'll have a press conference next Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss what the commission reported to us," the school said yesterday.
Make it 75 days. And counting...
You'll have to check back here tomorrow for my official prediction on the Ravens-Saints showdown in Baltimore.
Honestly, I'm not 100% sure what way I'm going yet. It's most certainly a coin-flip game.
But all week I've heard various "sub-stories" being discussed on sports radio or being written about in social media.
I thought I'd look at five of those topics and give you some "stock tips" on them.
I don't put any stock in the note about Drew Brees being 0-4 against the Ravens in his career.
He's been a starter in the NFL since 2002. In 17 previous seasons, he's seen the Ravens four times. There's "sample size" and "small sample size". Four games in 17 years isn't even up to "small sample size" yet.
Look, if Baker Mayfield beats the Ravens later this season in Baltimore, then somehow beats them twice again next year as well, one of the storylines in 2020 might be, "The Ravens have never defeated Baker Mayfield." I understand that one.
But putting stock in a quarterback being 0-4 against a team over a 17-year period is a worthless piece of information.
I put a lot of stock in New Orleans playing away from home tomorrow.
Here's a fact. Drew Brees and that Saints offense are really, really good in their home, domed stadium.
Another fact. They're only "good" once they have to play away -- in an outdoor stadium.
Don't get me wrong...they're coming to Baltimore tomorrow locked and loaded and the Ravens defense will have a challenge on their hands.
But they're not running up a 40-spot on the Ravens in Baltimore tomorrow. It's just not happening.
Brees and the offense have three, 40-point games this season thus far. Two at home (40 and 43 points) and one on the road (43 at Atlanta). But the 43 point output at Atlanta came in a domed stadium, remember.
New Orleans will score some points tomorrow. But they're not getting close to that 40 point number tomorrow.
I put a lot of stock in Joe Flacco playing at home tomorrow.
Look, Flacco was decent last week against the Titans, no doubt about it. But Tennessee didn't do anything on offense themselves, and once the game got to 14-0 in the first half, all Flacco needed to do was keep the ball in the fairway and the Ravens were going to win.
Tomorrow presents a significantly different challenge in that we all expect the Saints to score some points. Conventional wisdom suggest Baltimore will need at least 25 points to win. I think Flacco and the offense can reach that number, but it's mostly going to be on Joe and the receivers.
Like nearly every other athlete, ever, Joe plays better at home than on the road.
There's "home Joe" and there's "road Joe". Anyone who has watched the Ravens over the last 11 years knows exactly what I'm talking about. I'm thinking there's a really good chance the Ravens get a healthy dose of "home Joe" tomorrow.
I don't put any stock in the so-called hangover effect I hear people worrying about after last Sunday's road win in Nashville. Sure, that Cleveland loss three weeks ago might have been one of those occasions where the Pittsburgh road win from the week before was still on everyone's minds. I don't discount that theory.
But there's no hangover effect from beating the Titans in Nashville last Sunday. None.
And I put a lot of stock in the Ravens' defense having a barrel full of extra motivation tomorrow to get in the national spotlight with an impressive outing vs. Brees.
I think that kind of stuff matters to players. And, let's face it, you only get to play Brees and Rodgers once every four years. And you might see Brady once every two years or so. The opportunities to shine against those Hall of Famers don't come around often.
And with Baltimore's defense only giving up 77 points in six games thus far, they are one more really good defensive performance away from getting some national attention. If they somehow hold Brees and that New Orleans offense to two touchdowns or less on Sunday and the Ravens win, 27-14, one of the biggest stories of the NFL weekend will read: "Ravens defense shuts down Brees".
Players have pride. This one matters to the Ravens tomorrow. In more ways than you can imagine.
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"Old Fogey Alert".
I saw the news yesterday that the NBA is going to upgrade their developmental league -- now called the G-League -- and offer elite college-age basketball players the option of skipping the formalities of playing one year of freshman hoops and immediately start the play-for-pay game and make up to $125,000 for their efforts.
Boy, do I absolutely love that idea.
Kudos to the NBA for coming up with a solution for the dozens of kids who come along each year and purloin their way through a year of college before gracing the professional ranks with all of their elite skills.
Maybe this is the start of college basketball actually returning to -- gulp -- college basketball.
Wouldn't that be something? Wouldn't it be great to see kids go to school for four years and both play for their designated institution AND get a college diploma?
I'm dreaming, right? Is that what you're thinking?
Maybe I am.
But maybe I'm not.
While there are most definitely basketball "factories" scattered all over the country who reward their "student-athletes" with money and other forms of incentives, there are also a significant number of schools who choose to operate within the NCAA rules.
Believe it or not, right here in Baltimore, kids that play basketball at places like Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Morgan St. and Coppin St. actually trade their education for basketball services.
Some of them -- wait for it -- even get a job after they graduate.
If the NBA figures out how to run this G-League the right way, places like Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and, yes, our own University of Maryland, might not be able to "afford" the best players anymore.
If the G-League works, the elite high school kids -- better known these days as "the one and done'rs" -- will no longer have to peddle themselves to the highest college bidder. They'll become professionals just after leaving high school.
The new NBA-run G-League would also allow their players to earn money for marketing endorsements, shoe contracts and so on.
Now, they'll be able to see right away what they're really worth out on the open market.
And best of all, if this new league does take hold, we won't have to hear the whining any longer. No more poor-boy-crying from these entitled kids and their parents who feel like they're getting the bad end of the bargain because their son doesn't really want to attend college but has no better avenue into the NBA.
Those poor kids. They even have Condoleezza Rice hoodwinked.
"Elite high school players with NBA prospects and no interest in a college degree should not be forced to attend college, often for less than a year," commission chair Condoleezza Rice told The Associated Press on Thursday. "One-and-done has to go, one way or another."
I love it. Those young men are forced to go to college. I had to LOL at that one. I sure hope my son and daughter are forced to attend college free of charge for four years. From her lips to God's ears.
Ultimately, though, I approve of the G-League. I'm all for anything that stops the bellyaching from people who think a $240,000 education from (insert school here) isn't a fair swap for four years of playing basketball.
I'm kind of shocked that the NBA came up with this concept, but the idea is sound. Why let a kid make $75,000 playing for Kansas or Duke when you can pay him the same thing and get him "NBA ready"?
And the schools that really want to field a true college basketball program can continue with that ambition.
The schools that fancy themselves bigger than the system can continue to do what they've always done...outbid each other -- and now the G-League -- for high school kids who couldn't care less about what happens to the school or the program as long as they get their money.
I'm the G-League's biggest new fan.
When do tickets go on sale?
from the desk of
BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.
As the NFL regular season and the MLB playoffs rage on, to say nothing of the NHL and NBA seasons kicking off if that's your thing, it's been easy to forget all about our hapless Baltimore Orioles as they meander into the offseason with surprisingly few news developments for a team with so much work to do.
Maybe that's because everyone wants a chance to forget about them after one of the worst seasons in modern baseball history but, frankly, unless something changes pretty quickly there's going to be even more reason to fear that the Orioles aren't going to right this ship anytime soon.
First of all there's the glaringly obvious issue: The team has neither a general manager nor a field manager at this time, and the offseason is fast approaching. Suffice it to say that it's less than ideal to be 2-3 weeks away from the beginning of free agency with no real idea who the guy building next year's roster is actually going to be, and the current vacuum only brings more attention to how ridiculous the Orioles' treatment of the issue has been for nearly a year now.
Put simply, it doesn't look like they've ever had any kind of plan for what was going to come after Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter were ushered out, and honestly I'm not even sure when they made the decision to do that.
For a while after the trade deadline it looked and sounded like Duquette was going to stick around after all, and that would have made sense given that ownership kept him around and allowed him to orchestrate the trading away of most of the team's most valuable trade assets. Instead he was canned right after the regular season, and now someone else has to come in at the last minute and rebuild the big league roster on the fly and develop prospects mostly chosen by someone else. What could go wrong?!
In fact, there hasn't really been any hint of who might be the Orioles' next general manager, or who they even want to consider for the job. We know that they interviewed Ned Colletti for....something several months ago and that Brady Anderson has publicly stated that he doesn't want the job (or any other job that comes with actual, ya know, work and responsibilities) and that's about it.
Meanwhile the Marlins just surpassed the Orioles in available international signing pool money which, coupled with the fact that the Orioles don't have a GM or anyone with any real Latin American connections, seems likely to seriously damage their pursuit of Victor Victor Mesa.
What we have heard is how dysfunctional the Orioles organization has grown in the last few seasons, and maybe always was under the Duquette-Showalter regime. Not that that really qualifies as news, I guess. Most of what national reporters have disclosed in the past week or so has been previously reported in varying detail by local outlets, most notably by Jon Shepherd of Camden Depot. And some of it, especially the scouting and player development related stuff, extends far back into the organization's past, well before either man arrived in town.
What has drawn particular attention from national reporters of late is how the Orioles organization has included and utilized analytics on the field. Or more precisely, how they haven't. Topics like Kevin Gausman's strikingly improved performance in Atlanta and Manny Machado's improved defense in Los Angeles have brought up issues of how other teams are using data to fix issues the Orioles weren't able to, and Zach Britton pretty much confirmed that things are much different outside of Baltimore when he vaguely alluded to the volumes of data he was presented with by the Yankees, unlike anything he ever saw with the Orioles.
Now it's important to understand exactly what we're talking about here. We're well past the point where analytics is just another word for "stats," new age or otherwise.
Talking about analytics has little to do with whether or not a GM is looking at wOBA instead of batting average or FIP instead of ERA, or whether anyone is paying any attention to RBI. At this point, "analytics" is mostly about the ways that computers and visual technology have allowed teams to map out and accrue data on the fiber of the game itself.
Launch angles, exit velocity, spin rate and whatever other proprietary numbers teams have come up with don't tally up outcomes on the field so much as they measure inputs. And there's not really anything up for debate about them either: You can think WAR or wRC+ is a bunch of hooey if you want to, and that's fine.
You can get annoyed when some announcer awkwardly forces a reference to spin rate into a broadcast, and think about how you'd rather not have to be presented with that information while watching a game, and that's fine too. But it's still a basic fact of physics that how fast the ball spins effects how much movement a pitch has, so while it might be of no use to a fan watching a game, it should mean a lot to pitching coaches everywhere.
How can a team weaponize this data? Well it's hard to say for sure, because obviously they aren't rushing to tell everyone what they're doing with they're data and how they're using it to improve performance.
But we can tell that they are.
The Astros in particular seem to have found some way to really wring a ton of value out of spin rate. First of all they've targeted players with higher than average spin rates (the Charlie Mortons as much as the Justin Verlanders) and they've managed to increase those players' spin rates after joining the Astros consistently. The end result is a very good pitching staff that generates a ton of strikeouts, because pitches spinning faster are harder to hit.
Lord only knows what ways big and small other teams are figuring out to take this measurable data and turn it into plans for improvement, but it does seem as though the Orioles aren't even playing the same game.
That's not to say that they don't have an analytics department. They do, in fact, and Duquette was apparently a big proponent of their work. Buck Showalter....not so much, and with a coaching staff unwilling to read and use whatever data was generated, it was pretty much useless. And again, this goes to show how deeply dysfunctional the Orioles appear to have been for years now.
Most obviously, if the Orioles' were spending money on an analytics department, and the field coaching staff was simply ignoring them full stop, then all of the resources that went into research and staff was completely wasted.
Secondly, Shepherd has consistently reported that the Orioles had "gatekeepers" between the analytics department and other staff/players, allowing a small number of people (presumably Buck) to bottle all of this up entirely and not even allow players, in the big leagues or minors, to get access to any data they themselves might find useful. On Thursday, Shepherd tweeted specifically that even Duquette, the team's general manager, didn't have the authority to bypass these gatekeepers.
Regardless of the merits of analytics, this is just crazy. It's more than apparent that the Orioles' front office situation is, or at least has been, a total mess, that lines of authority are blurred at best, and that there's no one with the power to create and implement a broad, long term strategy for the franchise.
And this certainly isn't new either: It was explicitly cited as a reason that other MLB executives wanted no part of the Orioles' GM job before Duquette took it. The Orioles do need to catch up to what the rest of the league is doing with technology and knowledge capital if they're going to be competitive sooner rather than later, but most of all they need to finally get their act together and comport themselves like a competent, professional organization.
Yesterday's #DMD reader's poll yielded some not-so-surprising results.
You said "no" to LeSean McCoy.
And "yes" to more Alex Collins.
I'm guessing the Ravens are going to utilize the same formula.
47% of you indicated "Use Alex Collins more" was the best way for the Ravens to pump up their lousy running game.
22% said "Use Buck Allen more".
17% had a completely obvious solution: "Have Flacco throw it 50 times". Joe loves you, at least.
12% chose "Trade for any running back but McCoy".
And just 2% of those who responded said, "Trade for LeSean McCoy".
So there you have it.
The Ravens, I assume, are going with some sort of similar plan. They'll likely use Collins and Allen more, for starters, and if Flacco and the receivers continue to shine, they might even throw the ball more often than perhaps they thought they would back in training camp.
Of course, one of the reasons why the running game has been stale in 2018 is because the offensive line has been on-again, off-again in the run blocking department. It's hard to run through holes that aren't there in the first place.
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I was honored yesterday to speak to a group of local business leaders within the Executive Association of Baltimore.
One of the main parts of my presentation was the enormous chasm that presently exists between the Ravens and Orioles.
The Ravens are 4-2 and looking very much like a team that could be a legit playoff contender.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are coming off the worst season in franchise history and experienced two dozen or more home crowds of less than 10,000 people actually in the stadium.
But that's just the on field stuff.
What about off the field?
That's where the Orioles are really behind the eight ball.
The problems and issues are so numerous, they're almost impossible to prioritize.
With Peter Angelos' health rapidly declining, the ownership element of the franchise is currently in the hands of his sons, Lou and John. Therein lies the first problem, and perhaps the biggest one.
Upon Peter's passing, whenever that might be, the two sons will be facing an estate tax of roughly $60 million if they intend on inheriting and keeping the Orioles in their possession.
I don't know much about estate taxes, but $60 million sounds like a lot of money to come up with.
Let's pretend for a second the two boys decide they don't want to own the franchise any longer.
Forbes currently estimates the Orioles value at $1.2 billion.
Who in their right mind in Baltimore would fork over $1.2 billion for the Baltimore Orioles?
That's quite an investment, obviously.
It's beyond an "investment", actually. It's silly money, if you have it to spend.
Oh, and don't forget, if you do pony up $1.2 billion and you buy the team, you still need to negotiate a TV contract with one of the regional sports networks in the area. There are only two of them, mind you. One is NBC Sports Washington. The other is the Middle Atlantic Sports Network, or MASN.
Guess who owns MASN? That's right. The Angelos family.
So you're going to invest over $1 billion to buy the team, and still have to cut a TV deal with the same people from which you purchased the team in the first place.
But before you buy the team, wouldn't you want to know that corporate Baltimore is on board with the rebuilding project? And wouldn't you want to be comfortable that a ticket plan base will be there next summer to support the team no matter what the on-field results are in 2019?
Those two components require -- here's that word again -- an investment from folks in Baltimore and Maryland.
Let's play fantasyland for a second and pretend you're a corporate honcho in Charm City who has been signing off on a $300,000 corporate sponsorship with the Orioles over the last few years.
It made sense in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It might have even made sense in 2017 and this past season, at least until late May when the team essentially threw in the towel on what would become a miserable campaign.
But how could it possibly make sense to invest $300,000 (or any six figure number, really) on the Orioles in 2019?
Noble thing to do? Sure, that's a good word: noble.
Smart thing to do? Ummmm, probably not.
There's little chance the team will average 20,000 fans per-game in 2019.
TV ratings have been down and will likely continue to dwindle while the on-field product staggers through a three year down period.
This isn't piling on. It's business. Why would a company write the Orioles a six-figure check in 2019?
And how many ticket plan holders will return in 2019? My O's rep called me in September and I told him I'll be back with my two 13-game plans. But am I part of the majority or the minority? We won't know until next April, I suppose.
We haven't even discussed the two significant front office positions that are due to be filled sometime within the next month.
The Orioles are presently without a general manager and a field manager.
It's hard to prepare for next season without having both of those positions locked down.
The cycle continues, naturally, when you think back to sponsors and ticket holders. What would motivate those people to be excited about next season when there's no GM or manager in place? Why invest in the product at this point when you're not even sure who is going to be running the show?
And what if the hirings aren't exciting or marketable?
A recent inner-circle rumor had the Orioles ready to bring Ned Colletti (GM) and Joe Girardi (manager) to town, only to have the duo-signing put on hold when longtime baseball exec Kim Ng drew the organization's interest.
Colletti is a former GM with the Dodgers, Ng has never held down a GM position but has been a finalist on several occasions for vacant positions within MLB.
Neither would likely inspire a fan base in Baltimore. Then again, if memory serves me correct, Dan Duquette didn't have people doing jumping jacks in the streets, either.
The field manager, naturally, is a much more connective position with sponsors and fans. Girardi is a name, at least. Others, like Kevin Boles, Ron Johnson or even Mike Bordick, would likely not generate much enthusiasm right out of the gate.
Let's pretend -- again -- that you control the purse strings at a local corporation and the Orioles ask you to spend $200,000 with them next season. They hire Kim Ng and Kevin Boles. Or Ned Colletti and Mike Bordick. Do either of those combinations spin your wheels? Probably not.
Would Joe Girardi be enough to get you to renew your season tickets? How about Ron Johnson? Would you invest in the Orioles if he's the manager in 2019?
The Orioles are in a position they haven't encountered in.....well.....forever, basically.
They've never faced these challenges all at the same moment.
Potentially a new roster.
New general manager.
New field manager.
Oh, and don't look now, but in a few years, they'll need a new stadium lease, too.
These are indeed interesting times for the Orioles.
They need investors.
Lots and lots of them.
With the NFL trade deadline looming at the end of the month, teams are starting to put together their wish list and important needs for the second half of the season.
In-season trades in the NFL are rare, but not impossible to make if you have the salary cap space and a draft pick you don't mind parting with.
The Ravens are in a tricky spot this season. They might actually need to swing a deal for a running back. And one is available.
No, I'm not talking about Le'Veon Bell. Would I be on board with the Ravens bringing in Bell for the last two months of the season? You bet. But it's not happening, so strike that thought right away.
But LeSean McCoy is available.
Unfortunately, he brings so much baggage with him the Ravens will need to rent two moving vans to get his stuff from Buffalo to Baltimore.
Just yesterday, in fact, we learned McCoy is being sued by his former girlfriend and a friend of hers for $13.5 million. This all stems from a home invasion back in the summer in which the two women claim McCoy had attackers invade a Georgia residence, assault the two women, and remove jewelry that McCoy had once given to his girlfriend as a gift.
It's not a pretty story in the least.
Neither, though, is the Ravens' running game.
And with the team perched in prime position for a run at the AFC North title, they might have a difficult decision on their hands over the next 12 days.
"Sell our soul for LeSean McCoy?"
"Or keep our average-at-best running game intact and hope we can with what we have now?"
There's no doubt about it. McCoy would be an asset to the Ravens.
But at what price?
Do the Ravens want to win that badly?
What do you think they should do?
|Question: What should the Ravens do about their suspect running attack?
"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.|
Eight years ago, more than 15 years after I graduated from college, I was back in the office of Glenn Robinson, the winningest basketball coach in NCAA Division III history (1). It was the same small office he occupied when I worked for him as a student manager, only cluttered with more stuff and featuring a laptop he never would have used back then.
As we were chatting, there was a knock on the door. It was a player, dressed in practice gear, returning a laminated poster board to the coach. A quick glance showed it was filled with play diagrams. Coach Robinson seemed happy to be talking to me, reliving some great memories, but he soured a bit when the freshman closed the door and walked away. I remembered this exact look of disdain, even 15 years later.
“We’ve only had a week of practice. It doesn’t bother me that our freshmen don’t know all our inbounds plays,” Robinson said to me. “What annoys me is that our upperclassmen aren’t helping them learn. I haven’t seen one of them say anything or communicate at all.”
With that, we left his office and headed out to practice. Coach Robinson had invited me to watch, and it was a lot of fun, and a bit surreal, to sit there on the bleachers again after all those years (2). The entire time, and on the drive home, I couldn’t get what he said out of my mind though. It stuck with me for days.
He was demanding teamwork in a way I’d never noticed. He was asking for a level of responsibility I hadn’t thought about. The effort he was looking for went miles past the obvious.
In the 115 games I watched as a student, 103 of which were wins, I’m sure that Coach Robinson applauded when a player dove for a loose ball and gave his team possession. I’m positive that he benched players for not getting back on defense.
I have no recollection of any of that, of course. What I remember, and saw at practice again 15 years later, was the amount of work required to develop a winning program in a competitive environment.
Some of that was physical. I remember the dearth of fouls our assistant coaches called in scrimmages, which probably made a difference during games when a player went to finish near the rim while taking contact.
Some of it was technical. Coach Robinson was, and still is, a great “big man” coach, a stickler for proper footwork and good body positioning. Good teams make a lot of easy layups, and a lot of that comes from knowing how to get them.
Some of it was mental. As I saw again as an adult, Coach Robinson ran hyper-focused practices, ones that required everyone’s full attention, even the managers (3). If you wanted to be somewhere else, you were in the wrong place.
Add that all together, and you get what more than a few of the players told me, then and now. The games? Compared to practice, and everything else involved in preparing to play, the games were easy.
I recently heard Ray Lewis and Ed Reed say it another way when they were talking about film study to a group of high school football players. “The game,” Lewis said, “is mastery.”
Hustle, in the sports context? It’s not overrated. In sports like basketball, it almost becomes second nature. Diving for a ball, or jogging quickly into a huddle, aren’t an extra thing for a competitive athlete. They’re just part of the fabric of the game.
I’d argue that running hard to first base, and being a smart baserunner elsewhere (4), are a part of the fabric of being a professional baseball player.
It’s just that…we spend a lot of time talking about talent — surely the Golden State Warriors have a lot of it. And we often talk about “heart,” — never giving up, trying to the best of your abilities, and expecting those things from your teammates.
I wish (obviously) every player had Manny Machado’s talent. I wish every player showed every possible outward manifestation of “heart.”
What I really want, however, is for my team to be prepared.
That’s what Coach Robinson was doing with his team, even though they were amateurs. He was preparing them in a hundred ways, and he was trying his best to make all his players understand how to be good teammates. His goal was mastery, to use Lewis’s word, though even he knew that was impossible.
That’s what determined so many wins and so few losses, the effort required to develop that kind of mastery. Everything else was secondary.
As for baseball players, I want them to be professionals in a hundred ways; running out ground balls is just one of them. Is running hard on a ground ball really open to question? Not really. But neither is being in the wrong position to make a cutoff, or not congratulating your teammate after a good play (5), or not communicating something important on the field to another player.
Sure, baseball is unique among team sports. There you are, one-on-one, batter against pitcher (6). The other players on the field don’t matter much until you put the ball in play, your teammates on the bench can only help you with encouragement. It’s a lonely feeling sometimes, and it’s easy to forget you’re not out there by yourself.
When a guy doesn’t run hard, he’s definitely not remembering that. When a guy does that a lot, maybe there should be some consequence for it besides disdain from fans and broadcasters. That’s up to the organization to decide, I guess.
Still, there’s a whole world of effort, work and preparation out there that many of us never see. I was lucky back in college; I got to see it thousands of times, and that’s what makes the difference between winning and losing.
We never won or lost a game because of hustle. Neither has Manny Machado. I wish he’d just make it easier on himself when he has the chance, though, because I’m entirely positive that there’s been a lot more effort on his road to a $300 million contract than anyone really knows.
(1) Robinson, 73, has a record of 952-348 in 47 years of coaching at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
(2) Robinson, then and now, doesn’t really allow people in the gym during practice unless they have a good reason to be there. I felt honored that he’d let me hang around.
(3) I often had to work the game clock, shot clock and scoreboard at the same time, and if I screwed up I sure heard about it.
(4) Manny Machado isn’t a good baserunner. As instinctual as some of his skills seem, that one doesn’t make the grade.
(5) I don’t remember ever seeing a player more enthusiastic about congratulating his teammates than Manny Machado, and not just with Jonathan Schoop.
(6) “Hitting a baseball is the single-most difficult thing to do in sports” — Ted Williams. Discuss…
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Sadly, Manny Machado's 13th inning single that helped the Dodgers win last night's NLCS game is nothing more than a footnote to everything else that happened to the ex-Oriole on Tuesday.
It started (poorly) earlier in the day when Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic published a story in which Machado basically bragged about the fact that he doesn't hustle or give everything he has on the diamond.
By the end of Tuesday, Machado was at the center of a situation that emptied the dugouts in the 10th inning and led to Brewers' star Christian Yelich calling Machado a "dirty player".
Hey, at least the Dodgers won the game...
It hasn't been a good series for Machado.
On Saturday, his failure to run out a ground ball in the 4th inning ignited a national story about Machado's lack of hustle. Also in that game were two questionable slides, although one (the later of the two) was clearly more dangerous than the other (which, frankly, wasn't all that bad).
In Monday's 4-0 loss in Game 3, Manny had two of L.A.'s three hits. All the attention from Saturday didn't bother him at the plate on Monday, at least.
Then, shockingly, Rosenthal's story hit the streets mid-day Tuesday and there was Manny, brazenly, almost sadly, admitting he doesn't hustle and doesn't really know how to change it.
For a guy seeking $40 million a year, it showed a remarkable, if not puzzling, lack of smarts.
Manny started the interview with a reasonable admission of guilt. “Should I have run on that pitch? Yeah, but I didn’t and I gotta pay the consequences for it. It does look bad. It looks terrible. I look back at the video and I’m like, ‘Woah, what was I doing?’ You know, just the emotions of the game -- I’m the type of player that has stayed in the zone, I’m playing and I’m just in the zone.”
“I’ve been thinking about it and it happens every time, there’s no excuse for it honestly. I’ve never given excuses for not running," Machado told Rosenthal. "I’m not hurt, there’s no excuse but I’ve been the same player … I’ve been doing this for eight years, I’m in The Show for eight years, I’ve done the same thing for eight years, I’ve been the same player. (Note: Machado's actually in his 7th season, not 8th).
Machado wasn't finished. “Obviously I’m not going to change, I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle,’ and run down the line and slide to first base and, you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am."
OK, so Machado is essentially saying, "This is who I am. If you want to give me $40 million, that's great, but don't think it's going to change me because it won't."
Then came last night's Game 4, with the Dodgers trailing the Brewers, 2-games-to-1.
Machado had a dismal night overall at the plate, going 1-for-6. But he did help engineer the game-winning moment with a 13th inning single and later scored the deciding run on Cody Bellinger's single.
It's worth noting, particularly here in Baltimore where we saw years of amateur base running mistakes from Machado, that his effort and technique on the game-winning hit from Bellinger were almost shockingly flawless. He got a great jump on the hit, sized up the throw coming in from Yelich in right field, and made a perfect slide to narrowly beat the throw and give the Dodgers a 13-inning win that evened the series.
But it's what happened three innings earlier that once again thrust Machado into the spotlight.
MLB's tight rules on video use being what they are, we can't post the incident here, but if you go elsewhere on the sports-related web, you'll find it.
In a nutshell, Machado grounded a ball to shortstop and was -- no surprise here -- out by three steps. As he passed over first base, Manny clipped the right foot of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar with his left foot.
The two exchanged words, things got heated, and the benches cleared while cooler heads prevailed.
On review, it's very obvious Machado drug his left foot and intentionally "nipped" Aguilar's foot as he tried to cross first base. His later comment that he tried to step "over" his foot was clearly not accurate.
There was almost a smirk on Manny's face in his post-game remarks when he was asked about the incident. "We go way back," Manny said, as if that mattered. "We're trying to win, they're trying to win, things get heated. Whatever happens on the field, stays on the field. It stays between the lines."
Yelich didn't mince words after the game.
"It was a dirty play by a dirty player," Yelich said. "He's a player that has a history of those types of incidents. One time is an accident. Repeated over and over and over again, you're just a dirty player. It's a dirty play by a dirty player. That's what it is. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can't respect someone who plays the game like that."
Yelich wasn't done. "It was a tough-fought baseball game. It has no place in our game. We've all grounded out. Run through the bag like you've been doing your whole life, like everybody else does. If it's an accident, it's an accident; but on the replay to us, it looks like you clearly go out of your way to step on someone. It has no place in our game. It really doesn't."
That Machado is at the center of attention shouldn't be a surprise.
In some ways, like his former boyhood idol, Alex Rodriguez, he craves the spotlight.
Come to think of it, the 10th inning move where Manny clipped the foot of Jesus Aguilar is eerily similar to something Rodriguez would have done back in his day, only to claim innocence later on.
For Machado, all of these moments could be used against him this winter when he tries to hoodwink some team out of $30-$40 million a year.
The "I don't hustle" comments might be more damaging than last night's Aguilar incident. No team wants to fork over a gazillion bucks to a guy who basically admits he doesn't give his all.
But someone will fork it over. Baseball's weird that way.
from the desk of
BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.
As the saying goes, it's not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it's how many times you get back up.
We've certainly seen the Ravens lose games to teams they should have beaten on paper during the John Harbaugh years, even in some of their better years. What has separated the good teams from the mediocre teams in those scenarios is not stringing losses together, especially early in the season, but bouncing back quickly to maintain a strong position in the grand scheme of things.
As Drew wrote here at #DMD on Sunday; this was in many ways a critical game. A loss would have dropped the Ravens to 3-3 with plenty of difficult matchups left to play and, because the Steelers beat the Bengals in the early slot, would have dropped them to third place in the division to boot.
Instead they're 4-2 and tied with the Bengals for the division lead. It might not matter anymore that they also pitched a shutout and turned in an historically good performance, but it matters a lot that they're 4-2 instead of 3-3 with the Saints heading into town this coming week.
The nuts and bolts:
-Obviously the day's biggest story was the franchise record 11 sacks. The Ravens actually registered more sacks of Marcus Mariotta than Mariotta had completions (10) in 26 dropbacks, which is absolutely remarkable.
I'm not the only one to say this by any means but I will repeat it because it's true: Any time you're setting team records on defense in Baltimore, that's really saying something. And frankly, it's hard not to think that the fact that former defensive coordinator Dean Pees was lined up on the other side had at least a little something to do with both the effort from the players and Wink Martindale's game plan.
Pees was routinely criticized for not being aggressive enough with his pass rush during his time in Baltimore, and on Sunday Martindale unleashed the dogs, so to speak, with blitz packages that were both creative and aggressive, and the end result was an all-time great performance and a shut out.
-But the feel good story of the day, at least for me, was Michael Crabtree. Crabtree had as rough of a game as you're likely to see in Cleveland, with multiple drops at crucial junctures.
But the Ravens featured Crabtree prominently on Sunday from the very beginning, giving him a chance at redemption that he did not fail to exploit. Crabtree capped an opening drive of over 90 yards with a touchdown, and also featured prominently in said drive before the capstone play. When the final whistle blew Crabtree would have six catches for a team leading 93 yards and the Raven's only receiving touchdown on the day.
-Beyond Crabtree, it remains impressive how the Ravens are managing to work all of their receiving options into the mix even if their bottom line numbers don't seem impressive. Willie Snead still isn't the flashiest of playmakers, but he led the team with 7 catches.
John Brown was fairly quiet, but he had a tremendous 23 yard catch on 3rd down.
Mark Andrews gained 20 total yards on catches of 13 and 7 yards. The numbers aren't gaudy, but multiple guys are contributing meaningful catches each and every game.
-On the flip side of the Ravens' fantastic defensive effort, Tennessee could barely breathe on Joe Flacco, who was hit just once in the entire game. That kind of protection has been the norm this season for the offensive line, despite the fact that they're bizarrely catching flack from some local critics, mostly for poor run blocking.
No, they're not great at that, but outside of the Cincinnati game they've been outstanding in pass protection and the Ravens offense has been productive despite the poor running game. Also of note, when Alex Lewis left the game with a scary neck injury the Ravens replaced him with Bradley Bozeman rather than putting Orlando Brown Jr. into the game, which should perhaps be a message to the agitators in town calling for him to be made the starting right tackle.
-Speaking of the Ravens' running game, I'm honestly not sure what to make of it at the moment. Take Alex Collins: He had some nice runs on Sunday, including two that went for touchdowns but also racked up just 2.8 yards per carry.
Meanwhile Gus Edwards gained 42 yards on 10 carries. Oh and Lamar Jackson took a QB sweep for 22 yards and just missed a touchdown. Still that's the Ravens longest run of the season, Jackson currently leads the team in YPC rather easily, and plays with him lined up at quarterback continue to be the Ravens' most consistently effective running plays.
Call me crazy, but I think people calling for the Ravens to stop using those sets are...misguided.
-As for Joe Flacco, much like the team as a whole he bounced back from an uneven game in Cleveland to deliver an excellent performance. End of the game stat line aside, Flacco made several great throws to move the offense and avoided any bad decisions.
Take out the Cincinnati game where just about everyone played poorly on a short week and that's 4 games out of 5 in which we've gotten "good Joe" this season.
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We tend to lose interest in baseball in these parts every October. Not since Buck fell asleep in the dugout in Toronto two years ago have we really cared all that much about post-season baseball in Charm City.
Our Birds will be back one of these days. And it will all matter again.
In the meantime, though, four cities still do care about baseball. The Dodgers are playing the Brewers in the National League and the Red Sox and Astros are facing off in the American League.
This past Saturday in Milwaukee, a story surfaced that indirectly connects with Baltimore because it involved ex-Oriole Manny Machado. But in other ways, it connects with all of us. Anyone involved in sports, for example, should be interested in the situation involving Machado.
The nuts and bolts of it all: In the 4th inning of Game 2, Manny hit a ground ball, then essentially broke into a half-a-jog until the ball made its way to first base. He, was, I'd say, about 30 feet down the line when the ball found the first baseman's glove.
FOX TV analyst Joe Buck picked up on Manny's cruise-control act right away, and mentioned it (more than once) during the broadcast. Frankly, I found that quite refreshing. In a day and age where we tend to criticize play-by-play guys for just calling the action in a vapid, robotic kind of way, I actually found it appealing that Buck was willing to step up and call Machado out for his bush-league performance.
A little while later, Jim Palmer did the same thing, only not on national television. Palmer took to his Twitter account to criticize Machado for not running hard down to first base. Palmer actually could have left out the word "hard" and just left it as "running". Machado didn't really run. He strolled.
In the aftermath, I wrote a quick summary of Saturday's episode on Sunday morning at #DMD and, somewhat surprisingly, there are actually people who believe it was acceptable for Machado to not run hard.
We'll get back to those folks in a little while.
There's a basic theme in athletics that's non-negotiable. It's called "effort". You either believe effort, hard work and hustle matter. Or you believe they don't.
There's no real middle ground. Not in my book, anyway. It's pretty cut and dried.
Hard work and effort either matter or they don't matter.
You either bust your tail all the time. Or you pick and choose when you want to bust your tail. It's not that hard to figure out.
Here's where we'll separate the men from the boys, I suppose.
If you believe effort matters, you're a winner. If you believe effort doesn't matter, you're probably not a winner.
Either way, the result of the criticism that Machado received was that some folks actually defended him by saying, basically, "You don't have to run hard (hustle) every time."
That's part of what's wrong with our country these days. People being paid to work (hard) pick and choose when they want to work (hard). They don't care that others (teammates, employees) might be following lock-step and following the rules and protocol set forth by management. If they decide now's not the time to work (hard), then so be it...they won't work (hard).
Machado, as most everyone will admit, has been a habitual lollygagger for the better part of three years now. He's an extraordinary talent. But there have been numerous instances when he doesn't run out ground balls or fly balls because it's simply not in his make-up to give his all on each and every play.
Maybe he's one of the reasons why the Orioles were 30-75 before they traded him in July.
"You are what your record says you are..." or something like that.
Defending Machado for not running hard is akin to not holding a bank teller accountable for giving you $160 instead of the $200 you asked for when you were making your withdrawal.
"Oh, I'm sorry, sir. Am I supposed to be precise and on-point with every transaction I do today? I'm sorry. Occasionally when I'm supposed to give someone $200 I give them $160 instead. It's only forty dollars."
When you're a baseball player and you hit a ground ball to ANY place in the infield, you have one goal: Get to first base before the ball does. It's not up to you to judge how quickly the ball might get there. After all, how can you be doing that when your head is down and you're running to first base?
You hit the ball. You run. It's that simple.
And built into that "you run" part is this other little suggestion that asks you to put forth the maximum effort you can.
Do you know why it's important to put forth the maximum effort?
Follow along, this is important: Because everyone on the team is supposed to put forth the maximum effort. Those are called (stick with me) -- basic expectations.
And please, please don't tell me about situations where the ball was "hit hard" or the game was "out of reach".
You're embarrassing yourself with stuff like that.
And please don't counter this editorial with something like, "These instances of not hustling are few and far between. You're making a mountain out of molehill." Manny has done this exact thing dozens of times over the last three seasons. Not once. Not an isolated instance. Dozens of times. Dozens.
He decides when he'll try hard. He decides when he'll put forth maximum effort. He's been doing it for years.
Let's shift to football for a second. It's 34-10 with one minute left in the game. You're on the team with "10", unfortunately.
It's 3rd and 7. The quarterback calls a play that could involve you. You run the route, beat your man and the ball gets thrown your way. What do you do? Do you try and catch it? It's 34-10, after all. What's it matter if you decide, right there, that catching the ball isn't that important?
Catch it? Apply yourself? Or no?
You catch it because that's what you've trained yourself to do. It's called "practice" for a reason. You build good habits that way.
I saw somewhere in the Comments section where George McDowell mentioned golf and a tournament score/position that wasn't within reach. If the leader has a 3-round score of 66-66-66 and you're 76-76-76, do you show up with left handed clubs for the final round (assuming you're right handed) and just goof off for 18 holes?
I've won 27 tournaments in my barely-successful golf career. That's the good news. The bad news? I've probably played at least 500 tournaments in my life. That means I lost a golf tournament 473 times.
And I can say, without question, that in a significant number of those 473 losses, I was likely out of it going into the final round, whether it was a two day or three day event. Was I supposed to not try hard in that final round? I never got that memo if so.
Golf being mostly an individual sport, feel free to substitute the team sport of your choice.
Where's the chapter in the sports book that teaches us when it's appropriate to work hard and when it's appropriate to lollygag?
If all the players on the Dodgers are putting forth maximum effort and Machado isn't, who is the player without professional integrity?
Who is the player with the character flaw?
Are the 24 guys who are putting forth maximum effort the bad guys?
Or should we point the finger at the one guy who thinks he should be treated differently than the others?
Machado -- and superstars like him who jake it on occasion -- are bad for the team.
That doesn't make them bad players, by the way. Not in the least.
But it does make them something MUCH worse, in my opinion. They are bad teammates.
One of the few coaching axioms I use every season, regardless of experience, returning players vs. newcomers, etc. is this one: "My job as your coach is to teach you how important it is for you to be a great teammate."
There's nothing better in sports than having a great teammate. And nothing worse than having a bad one.
Losing is no fun. Having a bad teammate is the worst experience you can give a team.
When you decide on your own accord that you'll run hard when you want, you're essentially telling the rest of the team, "I'm more important than you."
That sort of breakdown is almost irrepairable.
A leopard's spots never go away, remember. They just fade a little over time. Translation: A leopard will always be a leopard.
The same usually goes for guys who put themselves above the team.
Can I present Exhibit A? Thank you. Machado didn't run out ground balls in Baltimore. "The team's losing five games a week," supporters would claim back in June. "Why should he bust his tail down the line when they're losing 6-0 in the third inning?"
Fast forward to mid-October. Now he's in Los Angeles. They're playing in the National League Championship Series. These games matter. They really matter. And guess who isn't running out ground balls, still?
And guess what? He won't be running out ground balls next season in (insert city here) either. You can make book on that, friends.
Here's the other thing: Those who defend a lollygagger are, most likely, lollygaggers themselves. Misery loves company, as the tee shirt says.
There's no defending lack of hustle. Or lack of ambition. Or lack of trying to do the best you can for your teammates.
You're either trying hard and giving the maximum effort you can or you're unprofessional.
Not giving everything you have is a character flaw. Nothing more, nothing less.
No one's perfect, of course. Flaws? We all have them. But the most basic thing every athlete should have is the ability to give everything they have for the common good of their teammates.
If you can't figure out a way to put your teammates first, you're likely someone not worth trusting when the chips are down.
In closing, I hope you noted that I went the entire piece without mentioning Machado and the salary he hopes to command this winter.
It is part of the story, by the way. A guy hoping for a $300 million contract should never have "doesn't always try hard" on the back of his bubblegum card.
But that's definitely part of Machado's history.
And a guy with a glaring lack of professional integrity.
You want him? You can have him for $300 million.
Good luck getting those spots to completely disappear.
News flash: It won't happen.
I've calmed down a bit since yesterday morning, where I started rambling on about the Ravens defense being "championship caliber".
Yesterday I did catch myself perusing airline websites for flights to and from Atlanta in early February just in case our boys in purple are playing a big football game down there. No, I didn't reserve any seats on those flights. Just checked pricing...
But I haven't changed my mind on the proclamation I made about the Ravens' defense.
I don't care who you play, when you allow 77 points in six NFL games, you have the makings of something good going on.
And after watching New England and Kansas City shoot 'em up on Sunday night, I'm convinced now of two things. Well, three things, actually.
1. There's no way the Chiefs or Patriots can put together the kind of defense the Ravens have in 2018. They simply don't have the talent on that side of the ball.
2. There's no way the Ravens can put together the kind of offense the Chiefs and Patriots have in 2018. With all due respect to Joe Flacco and his plethora of new pass catching weapons, Kansas City's offense is better. And Tom Brady and his offense are also better.
3. In the post-season, give me the "OK" offensive team with the rock solid defensive side. You can have the great offensive team with the awful defensive side.
So, the key, of course, is to make the playoffs. The Ravens haven't done that since 2014.
At 4-2, the Ravens have put themselves in great position to reach the post-season, particularly given that four of their six games to date have been played away from home.
You might have the rest of the schedule etched in your memory. Or maybe you don't. Either way, here it is:
October 21 vs. New Orleans; October 28 at Carolina; November 4 vs. Pittsburgh; November 18 vs. Cincinnati; November 25 vs. Oakland; December 2 at Atlanta; December 9 at Kansas City; December 16 vs. Tampa Bay; December 23 at Los Angeles Chargers; December 30 vs. Cleveland
OK, so follow along with me.
I know nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. We were just reminded of that on October 7 when the Ravens lost to the lowly Browns in Cleveland.
But that schedule above has three (virtually) guaranteed wins; November 25 vs. Oakland, December 16 vs. Tampa Bay and December 30 vs. Cleveland.
None of those three teams are coming to Baltimore and winning.
That's 7 wins.
Where are the other three? Or four?
It can be argued that all of the remaining games could come against teams with playoff aspirations.
Even Atlanta, at 2-4 right now, could still be on the outer edges of making the post-season when the Ravens head south for that December 2nd match-up.
This Ravens team could go 11-5. Heck, you want ambitious? They could finish 12-4, especially if they're able to run the table at home and finish 8-0 in Baltimore.
But the next three home games will likely make or break the Ravens in 2018.
New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati.
Win those three and 11-5 is almost a certainty.
Lose one or more of those three and, well, who knows?
I like the Ravens' chances, though. While the next six games are far more imposing than the first six, overall, I don't see one game in there that makes me think, "Well, that's a loss."
At the beginning of the season, I said the Ravens would finish 11-5 and win the AFC North. I had Pittsburgh at 9-7 and Cincinnati at 8-8.
I'll stick with those thoughts, although Pittsburgh obviously can't finish 9-7 since they have a tie thus far (3-2-1).
This Ravens team is on pace to post an 11-5 mark. The next three home games will tell the story.