Saturday
June 23
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issue 23
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orioles crash-and-burn could help ravens in 2018


They'd probably deny it if asked, but the Ravens can't be all that disappointed at seeing the Orioles wallow through a miserable first half of the 2018 campaign.

Typically, a city full of successful sports teams actually helps boost the overall energy level of the fan base, but this year in particular, the Ravens might just benefit from what the Orioles are doing.

In case you just flew in from Pluto and don't know, the Ravens have had a tough go of it over the last few years.

They won the Super Bowl in 2012. That was about the last time anything positive happened for them, even though there was a playoff appearance in 2014 and even a post-season win in Pittsburgh in January of 2015.

Since that win in Pittsburgh, the Ravens haven't made the post-season.

Could the Orioles' lost season actually help John Harbaugh and the Ravens this season?

Two seasons ago, they missed the post-season in part due to a 15th game defensive collapse in the final minute at Heinz Field.

Last season, Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd hooked up on a 4th and 12 touchdown pass on what would have been a playoff-clinching stop if only the Ravens defense could have negated the TD throw.

Oh, and there was an incident in London on September 24, 2017, when a dozen Ravens took a knee during the playing of the national anthem. That moment probably derailed the franchise with the fan base far more than Antonio Brown's catch-and-reach in 2016 or the Dalton-Boyd TD throw in 2017.

The crowds were suspiciously -- and obviously -- down in 2017. Some of the decrease could be directly attributed to some ungodly cold weather, an awful New Year's Eve home game with a 4:35 pm start, and a disenchanted fan base who were still steaming over the kneeling incident in London.

For all the excuses, the bottom line in Baltimore is this: The Ravens have lost their mojo, on and off the field, over the last three seasons.

But the Orioles might very well help them get it back.

By the time late July rolls around, the O's will be well on their way to a 100 loss season. Depending on what they do at the trade deadline, the Birds might not be making any kind of news when training camp begins for John Harbaugh's team on July 18.

Since 2012, when the O's made their first post-season appearance in fifteen years, every July, August and September has featured a competitive baseball team to rival training camp and the start of the NFL's regular season.

While it might not have mattered in the stands with the Ravens -- they didn't have any trouble selling tickets from 2012 through 2016, at least -- the fight for media coverage, corporate sponsorship dollars and general Baltimore sports affection was split with the Orioles while Buck Showalter's team was playing well and competing for post-season play.

That won't be an issue this year.

The Orioles were essentially eliminated from the playoffs by early May.

And the Ravens have done a decent job -- perhaps accidentally -- of drumming up some off-season excitement with, among other things, the drafting of former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

While Jackson likely won't compete for a starting job with Joe Flacco until 2019, just his arrival alone has sparked some new enthusiasm with the fan base.

And the Ravens recent announcement that 2,000 fans per-day will be able to attend training camp at their Owings Mills facility is a help, too. Granted, it might not be as productive or community-embracing as it once was at McDaniel College, but it's an effort in the right direction.

And with this lost Orioles season, every little thing that helps the Ravens is a good thing.

This July, the thing that might help the most is a thirst for sports that the fan base is almost sure to have. That thirst will exist in part because of the Orioles lost 2018 campaign.

I can't imagine the Ravens aren't secretly happy to see it all unfold this way. They need a good break.

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machado wins it after britton blows four-run 9th inning lead


There won't be many highlights in this Orioles season, so savor that one from last night, friends.

And it was very close to becoming one of the campaign's lowest-of-the-low-moments, in fact. Funny how baseball works, huh?

Manny Machado hit a 2-run homer in the top of the 15th inning and Jonathan Schoop added a RBI single as the Birds won the opener of a 3-game interleague series in Atlanta last night, 10-7. The victory pushes the O's to 22-52 on the season.

The game featured a remarkable six run rally in the top of the 9th and a complete Zach Britton meltdown in the bottom half of that same inning.

Did Zach Britton's trade value take a hit on Friday night in Atlanta?

If nothing else, the game rewarded those who stuck with it long enough to see the fireworks unfold.

After a terrific start from Alex Cobb (7 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run), the Birds were staring another offensively-challenged loss in the face when overmatched Tanner Scott allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

But the Orioles showed some heart in the 9th inning, plating six runs, including a seeing-eye double down the line from Schoop that honestly was probably foul, truth be told. It was one of those innings the O's haven't had all season, as they were 0-47 in games in which they trailed after eight innings.

Staked to a 7-3 lead, the Birds sent Zach Britton out to close the game in the 9th. And.....well.....Britton got lit up.

He allowed four runs and recorded just one out, leaving a mess for Darren O'Day, who bravely recorded the final two outs of the inning to send the game to extra frames deadlocked at 7-7.

Not that a loss can be "backbreaking" when you're 21-52 and the season is already over, but losing that one last night would have been particularly painful. Up 7-3, handing the ball to your closer, and still finding out a way to lose? Awful...

But it didn't turn out that way.

After Atlanta stranded Nick Markakis at third base with two outs in the bottom of the 14th, Machado promptly delivered a two-run homer in the 15th to seal the win.

Mike Wright Jr. was the winning pitcher for the Orioles. You know it's a crazy night on the diamond when Wright does something -- excuse the pun -- right.

And for one long evening in Atlanta, the Birds could smile at their good fortune.

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jones won't say if he'd accept a trade


Adam Jones knows the drill.

He's well aware of everything that's going on, and he most certainly realizes he could be part of a trade-deadline deal sometime in the next 30 days or so.

But on Friday, Jones told reporters in Atlanta he's not yet sure if he'll accept a trade.

"I hold all the cards," Jones said, referring to the 10/5 rule that says any player in the big leagues for ten years and five with the same team can negate a trade. "I don't know what I'll do if that happens. I've never been in this position before, so I don't know what my reaction will be."

The Red Sox are rumored to be interested in Adam Jones, who has seen a dramatic downturn in his defensive metrics but still contributes offensively on a regular basis.

The biggest motivating factor for the Birds' centerfielder is that he'd most certainly be shipped to a playoff contending team. Three playoff appearances in Baltimore since 2012 have given him an appetite for post-season play that he won't find in Baltimore this season, but could find elsewhere if he's willing to accept a deal.

The Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in Jones.

Would he accept a trade to Boston, where he was once the subject of racial taunts back in May of 2017?

Would he go to an Orioles rival and play the final two months of the season trying to help deliver a championship to an organization that has long been a nemesis of his team in Baltimore?

Jones has openly talked about his desire for a ring before his career is over. A move to Boston -- even for just two or three months -- would present that opportunity for him.

"I want to win," Jones said earlier this season when discussing his pending contract situation and free agency status at the end of the season. "I have all the money I need. What I don't have is a ring. And I want one."

There's no chance of a ring in Baltimore this season.

But Boston would provide Jones with that opportunity, albeit as a rental and not someone who was there with them for the full season-long journey.

Other clubs would give him that same chance, of course. My best guess? Jones will accept a trade, but the team and franchise have to perfectly align with him. I don't think Boston is that team.

Jones is a lot of things -- most of them good -- but one thing he isn't is a soul-seller. I can't see him going to Boston after what happened up there in May of 2017.

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#dmd comments


the cleat of reality     June 23
wow this Brien guy is a real Richard. who needs it? Goodbye forever DMD.

Fran Vojik     June 23
Drew, your comments about the Orioles crash-and-burn and its positive effect on the Ravens is spot on. I've been thinking the same thing since it became clear, probably in early May, that the Bird's season was a lost cause.



It reminds of me of a comment Brian Billick allegedly made back in the early to mid 2000's. This may be an urban legend of sorts, but he supposedly said that the Orioles existed to "take up time and space until Ravens training camp opened." No truer words have been spoken this year.



Frankly, I'm pumped for the 2018 Ravens season. Judging by the fact that 2,000 passes to training camp sold out in one day tells me others feel the same way.



A completely revamped receiver corps, a potentially healthy offensive line, a refocused Joe Flacco, and the addition by subtraction loss of Dean Pees, and an exciting 2018 draft class already has me ready for football. Could I be setting myself up for a emotional sack come the regular season? Sure. The schedule is much tougher this year and a realistic look at the schedule and the opponents makes me see the Ravens winning 8-9 games. But I am encouraged by the changes, the direction of the franchise, and the willingness of the front office to address some outstanding issues, something that's sadly missing in the Warehouse a couple of blocks away.



I enthusiastically renewed my Ravens season tickets for 2018; I won't be doing the same thing for my Orioles STP next spring. I'm done.

Max Berman     June 23
At DMD, Brien shows complete contempt for anyone who disagrees with him and attacks those who do. He vilifies everyone but Drew for being intellectually deficient if they don’t share his devotion to analytics. While his beloved analytics have value, his reliance on them display a simple mind, one unwilling or unable to produce a cogent argument that can’t be captured with a number. Sadly, calling commenters here illiterate or stupid, though uncivil, is much more articulate than those he disagrees with on twitter.

Chris in Bel Air     June 22
Great story Drew. Thanks for sharing. Regarding all this talk about analytics and launch angles, I just shake my head. Apparently we needed some made up stat like WAR to explain to that Babe Ruth and Mike Trout were/are really good at baseball. Ruth and Trout, got it. Sorry but I prefer the simplicity of the traditional stats - batting avg, HR's, RBI, runs scored, ERA, WHIP. When you do all those things well year after year, you're good. I feel like some of these nerds would argue how the guy who came in 3rd place in a 100 M sprint was actually the better runner because of some acceleration coefficient.

DR     June 22
Some real classy stuff from @Brien_Jackson on Twitter tonight. At least we know he likes to use the F-word a lot.

Theotherguy     June 22
That time machine response to @smart might be @Briens most savant-like response ever, the man is a literal genius

George     June 22
What Brien writes is actually true. The additional 450,000 fans who came every year to Yankee Stadium after the team got Babe Ruth wanted him to hit singles. “Come on, Babe, little bingle, “they yelled in unison. When he let them down with a home run, they yelled, “Anybody could do that, and Cobb will prove it in two games five years from now, ya bum!”

Cobb had the right idea. Who wanted to drive in runs with triples or even the godforsaken home run when you could get a single and let your teammates have the privilege and honor of driving you in? Runs merely won games – singles got you the coveted batting title. And being in the World Series was overrated for Cobb’s Tigers, who boycotted the Series during Ruth’s career.

And it’s a little known fact but Miller Huggins actually had a time machine. He and the Babe time-traveled to 2018 Alabama where the Bambino worked out for coaches of the Montgomery Biscuits of the AA Southern League. Tickets for the July 25th workout are $11,000,000 each, but what sports fan could afford not to be there?


dynamo     June 22
@Brien

I hope you've come to realize that your argument is nonsense. Ruth and his genetic lottery winning athletic ability "play" in any era.



Static analysis vs. Dynamic analysis. In the late 19th century,static analyts like you said to shut down the patent office "because everything that can be invented has been invented".

Brien Jackson     June 22
@IM Smart



No, I said Babe Ruth wouldn't make it in Double-A if you plucked him out of 1927 and brought him to 2018 with a time machine.

IM smart     June 22
@JJ Short version - Brien says Babe Ruth would be lucky to make it to AA if he lived today

J.J.     June 22
What is the debate about today? I can't go back and read everything, but I see @Brien is sparring with people. Can someone give me a quick summary?

Uncle Rico     June 22
Anyone remember when Brien predicted Jalen Ramsey would be a lousy NFL player?

I do.

Brien Jackson     June 22
If anyone is actually interested in the way large chunks of baseball resisted the home run, arguably the first instance of "analytics" altering approaches to the game. It includes the great anecdote of how Ty Cobb, who famously hated home runs, told a reporter that he'd prove they were easy to hit and then swatted 5 in 2 days, something Ruth had never done. And Cobb's view wasn't uncommon by any stretch, which is what's important to remember when you talk about the low home run totals in the rest of the league in those years.



https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/baseball-didnt-always-love-home-runs-heres-how-they-took-over-the-game/2017/10/26/08012630-b98f-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c76d96e71e2d

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



Look, I know understanding words is harder for you than most, but putting everything in "21st century spectrum" is the EXACT opposite of what I said. As in that is literally what I said you *couldn't* do to compare athletes across two different eras. The point is not that Ruth wasn't great: The debate over the greatest of all time at the moment is limited to Ruth, Bonds, and Ted Williams. But "he hit more home runs than whole teams" and "he was a good pitcher too" have nothing to do with that, and tell you a lot more about the under developed state of the league in Ruth's time than they do about how Ruth compared to the greats of later eras. Lou Gehrig was a great college pitcher too. Mike Trout doesn't pitch too not because he's a far inferior athlete to Babe Ruth, but because the overall level of talent in professional and upper level amateur baseball is such that you have to specialize at a role to be able to do it.

LM     June 22
@Drew, I need you to talk with me 14 year old son. He is, as you say, afflicted with wanting to hit the ball a mile off the tee. I'm not sure where this came from but putting and chipping are a forgotten thing with this generation of golfers.

rc     June 22
@Brien

Are you serious? Newsreel of his swing? He was a SUPERIOR athlete. Just like all whacked out liberals you put EVERYTHING in 21st century spectrum. That way you can slam great men like Lincoln, Twain and Ford for using non PC terms. That is the laziest kind of historical vision. So,myopic is apt and so is dopey.

With today's coaching would Wilt Chamberlain been such a lousy foul shooter?

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



Have you seen newsreel of Ruth's swing? If you literally brought the guy to 2018 he wouldn't hack it in Double-A ball. Which is why you have to actually consider context, not just say "Babe Ruth hit more home runs than entire teams" as though it doesn't tell you as much about the rest of the league as it does about Ruth.

crab boy     June 22
@Herman, Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominant basketball player in the bygone days to which you refer. He also was an Olympic volleyball player. He is the closest physically to today's NBA'ers. Don't leave him out of your unclear references.

Lefty loosey     June 22
@Brien is great at twisting his alleged points into Pretzel Logic so that it makes it impossible to have a legitimate discussion. Of course, that's not what he wants, he just wants us to genuflect at his vastly superior "knowledge"

RC     June 22
@Brien

YOU wrote. "Looking at guy you know he doesn't translate to todays athletes" so a modern day Ruth would have been in an institution for wayward boys,would have been eating hot dogs and drinking like a fish. What a dopey conclusion.

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



"@Brien is so MYOPIC and has gone all in on some statistical models that TRY to be objective, but never turn out that way. If it is made my man than all of the biases of the man are baked into it. You worship the wrong God."



Ummm....Babe Ruth is the all-time leader in WAR. Try being a little less....myopic.



@Herman



This is rather amusing considering that, you know, you're not actually bothering to compare one era to another at all when you cite a number like Russell's titles.

ray ray     June 22
brien left when facts arrived.

RC     June 22
When it comes to all of these debates, they are pointless but fun.

Step back and really try @Brien and get some perspective. If you think that Babe Ruth was a fat pig, than you just are the laziest kind of guy. Until he was in his mid 30's he wasn't FAT, he was barrel chested and take a gander at the team photos of the Yankee teams. He and Gehrig were just WAY bigger than the other guys. If you think that Ruth was not a superior athlete, than you are either mis-informed or the fool we all think you are.



He was fast, great arm, powerful and unique for the time. 6'3 and 215.

Cobb 6'1" 175

Walter Johnson 6'1" 195

Gehrig 6'0 200

Tris Speaker 5'11 190



He was a big dude who was a fantastic athlete and certainly the best, biggest guy of his time. Not William Bendix, Goodman or the even Ruth at the end of his career. IF he would have been of today, he would be better at nutrition and other things......so he might be 245 and strong and agile.



HOW come Frank Robinson was the only guy to hit a ball out of Memorial Stadium? At the end of it's run, there were steroid guys, yet that bandy legged, powerful forearm guy with a super strong shoulder turn was the only guy to have the timing and power to hit one that far. Some of Mantle's shots are longer than what is/was ever hit.



Brien is so MYOPIC and has gone all in on some statistical models that TRY to be objective, but never turn out that way. If it is made my man than all of the biases of the man are baked into it. You worship the wrong God.

Just another moron     June 22
There you go, another accolade for the Babe, he invented the concept of launch angle!

Gotta love the "I have no time for you people today" retort, translation is clearly "I can't win this idiotic proclamation, let's all just move on


Kyle Severn     June 22
New to the party here, but how does the story about a kid golfing morph into a discussion about whether or not Babe Ruth was any good?



Can someone clear that up for me?

HERMAN     June 22
lost in translation in the comments section today, hijacked by Brian Jackson, was the point I was making about the current generations lack of ability to credit anyone who played before 1990 in any sport. Bill Russell and his 11 championships in a 13 year career? Lebron, no Michael, no Lebron, no my dad says Michael. Russell never gets a mention. And now we have a vote for Mike Trout as the GOAT in baseball. Based on some new metric analysis.

Has anyone under 40 ever even heard of Jim Thorpe, arguably one of the greatest athletes in our history?

No.

This generation, and their parents think bringing up Bill Russell or even our old hometown Bullets and Earl the Pearl is geezering over has-beens, as if they couldn't possibly compete with today's bigger, stronger, faster athletes.

It's a myopic point of view.

They wouldn't pick Bill Russell in their top 12. He hasn't been on "SportsCenter".

George     June 22
@Brien – Excellent piece of condescension!

The oldest surviving treatise we have that describes the concept of launch angle was written by Archimedes sometime around 250 BC in a work we now call “Geometrical Solutions Derived from Mechanics.”


Brien Jackson     June 22
I've got no real energy for the "no one can be better than Babe Ruth" brigade today, but it's kind of amusing that Ruth is the originator of launch angle as a concept.

George     June 22
@Brien -- If you don't count the homers Ruth hit at Yankee Stadium, he still leads the league in four seasons during the 1920s.

George     June 22
“. . . and you really only have to look at the guy to know that a direct comparison to modern athletes is useless.”

How wrong can you be? Ruth would have made it into the Hall of Fame even if he had never swung a bat. He was 94-46 with an ERA of 2.28. He gave up 10 home runs in 10 years, a staggering total of one a year! He started 147 games and completed 107 of them.

Brien, you’re probably thinking of John Goodman, who wasn’t Babe Ruth but played him in a movie.

George Herman Ruth     June 22
apparently I did not hit HR's in other balls parks....who is this guy and where is Orky

Sean     June 22
Great article Drew. I'm sharing with my friends. Love your coaching philosophies.

crack reporter     June 22
Always love @Brien's fact based reporting, which allows him to confidently state the reason for Flacco's decisions, presumably based on his interviews with Flacco and/or Ravens coaches. Definitely impressed that he still has notes from all his exhaustive reporting done during the 1927 season so that he and he alone can clarify what transpired that season, which can easily refute others who have only read or "heard" things. #DMD is lucky to have such a resource on staff.

BO     June 22
@Brien Jackson



Hate to pile on, but you're dead wrong. My son pays college baseball at Virginia Tech. They teach launch angle as a method for players driving the baseball.

DR (the original)     June 22
It's definitely interesting how statistical analysis can make a difference in decision making.

There would have been a time when Kevin Huerter would never have sniffed the first round. But he is a great shooter with long range, which is now of incredible value.

As for "feel," I'm not so sure that has anything to do with it. There are really good players and ones that aren't so good, just like there always have been.

Brien Jackson     June 22
@Herman



I love these arguments. The Yankees built a stadium with a wall specifically so that Ruth could hit home runs at a time when lots of baseball people still thought home runs were an offense against the game. Ruth's relative home run total is not really as impressive as people make it out to be, and you really only have to look at the guy to know that a direct comparison to modern athletes is useless.

Jason M     June 22
@bj - I think extra work with receivers is UNDERRATED. I respect what Joe has accomplished, but with the CBA limiting what guys can do in practice, and chance for these guys to put in work will pay off. WHy this hasn't happened in the past is beyond me, and the one bone I would pick with Joe. #52 is going into Canton this summer - how much of his career and success and the chemistry of those teams he was on would have existed without extra work. No matter the reason, I am excited to hear Flacco and the receivers are putting in some extra work. Like the extra work the season ticket holders put in to pay for their seats?

Steve from Cape Coral     June 22
@ Drew, Although I do not play golf, even living in Florida, I enjoyed reading the story about the 12 year old kid. Who knows, a CHC recruit in 2 years ???

Mike from catonsville     June 22
Betting that poor kid will be on anti- depressants and seeking therapy before he’s 18. Typical of kids not allowed to be kids anymore. Wish the young man well but his parents will drive him straight to Prozac .

DELRAY RICK     June 22
DREW---What a great article bout young golfers wanting to DRIVE THE BALL FURTHER.When i lived near PINE RIDGE so many many people were hitting drivers. Me, i am pitc hing,pitching. ITS THE SHORT GAME!!!! Iam not a long hitter but when i play with friends i usually get in the hole first. I would love to hit it further but thats the way it is. Taught my wife to play (we are still married). I keep telling her its the short game.

HERMAN     June 22
sorry for the typo, 1927

HERMAN     June 22
On ESPN they debate Lebron-Jordan GOAT every hour, on-the-hour. Stat geeks now use some newly made metric to claim Mike Trout the baseball GOAT. Any football conversation quickly devolves into Brady, Brady, Brady.

I do note that all past performances beyond the beginning of ESPN have been rendered out of the conversation. As if "history" began the day a signal beamed out of Connecticut.

As for GOAT, allow me to bring up an amazing statistic here.In 2927 The Babe hit 60 homers. No single team of players in the league combined for 60. He hit more homers by himself, than any single team could accomplish combined.

And he saved baseball from the "Blacksox" scandal. Where baseball is concerned I'm sure this Trout is a talent. GOAT?

Let's try to keep things in perspective. In baseball there is Babe Ruth. The conversation beyond him should start at number 11, he is all the top 10 spots combined.

Chris K     June 22
Drew,



That was a really interesting story about coaching the young kid. I’m not a golf fan at all but you really do seem like a great coach for young players. Calvert Hall is lucky to have you. I feel for the kid because it seems his helicopter parents are way too intense and taking some of the fun out of the sport the kid seems to love. This isn’t an indictment on them alone. It seems like too many parents are taking kids fun away because they want them to be the next great star of whatever sport they’re into. I simply hope that kid can just block out the noise, have fun and compete to the best of his ability.

Brien Jackson     June 22
Exit velocity and launch angle aren't really "analytics," they're measurements. They have nothing to do with statistical analysis or theory, and everything to do with the way teams are using camera tech to measure the minute details of the game now.

George     June 21
@David – Another problem with taking sports betting out of the free marketplace and putting it under government control is that costs to bettors will necessarily increase. When control of the numbers game passed from local men’s “social clubs” to state capitols, the payout to winners decreased from 600 for one to 500 for one, raising the cost per bet 25%. While this makes little difference on an individual bet, the overall cost over time to the betting population is enormous.

In addition to increased costs brought on by general government inefficiency, the cost to sports bettors will also be increased by the NFL and other leagues who see the opportunity to claw out a few extra billions to pay for a bureaucracy that will protect players from fixers.

Josh     June 21
They’re playing soccer??

Idiot Caller     June 21
If I had to wager on it, I would bet that the Orioles don't have a new GM in place and therefore don't end up trading away any significant pieces by the trade deadline. That is also VERY Oriole-ish.

I'm interested in it, but I have not watch very much of the World Cup this year. Just bits and pieces on the weekend. The games are being played at times that just don't workout with my work schedule. I don't care if the USA team is in or not.

Just asking, but has the LF released any of his "Letters to the Orioles" yet? The radio pontificating about them has been (unintentionally) funny enough, but I can't wait to actually try to read them myself!


RC     June 21
You're right Drew. Not trading anyone would be very typical of the Orioles. Of all the guys who are available, Jones might be the one who gets the most attention. Just my opinion.

crab boy     June 21
Sports betting should be legalized. You mention sports betting ruining all aspects of life. Very true! However, if one wants to place a sports bet now, that person can. The person can bet with some bookie he knows who may be just fine but may also be a nefarious character who allows one to get in way over their head and encouraging doubling down on an unpaid bet, compounding the problem.



If the states legalize and regulate it, the sports gambler (which I am not) has to put up the cash for the bet prior to the event. This makes it safer for the bettor in many ways and the states can tax winnings. The bettor doesn't need to worry about Moose and Rocco coming for his car.

unitastoberry     June 21
Not surprising to me at all the Orioles would let all the free agents contracts expire without trading them for prospects even the good ones. Look you never know whats going on with the Orioles. They got that much down. But if memory serves me correct did they not let Mussina walk without trading him for a few prospects? Don't they get compensory draft picks which equal less payroll aka confederate money?

Friday
June 22
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we've lost our "feel" for the game


Earlier this week, I read an article in which Buck Showalter -- yes, that Buck Showalter -- talk about baseball's devotion to analytics and "advanced metrics".

"Wait a minute," I said to myself. "Isn't Buck an old codger? He can't possibly really believe in that garbage, right?"

Apparently he does.

Maybe that's why the Orioles are 21-52 after last night's 4-2 loss to the Nationals.

Who on earth gives a rat's rear end about "exit velocity", "launch angle" and all of the other new verbiage baseball nerds have introduced to the game over the last decade?

Baseball nerds care, that's who.

But I don't think it's helping anyone get better.

Back to that in a minute.

Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open last week because he used the smallest club in his bag -- the putter -- better than anyone else in the field.

Earlier this week, a parent of a junior golfer in the area reached out to me and asked if I would meet them at the driving range to take a look at their 12-year old son's golf swing.

"He's been struggling," the parent said. "And with all of these junior tournaments coming up now that summer is here, we need to figure out what's wrong with his swing."

I agreed to meet them. When I arrived at Pine Ridge, the young man was a half-a-bucket deep into beating balls as far as he could at the big tree some 250 yards away in the center of the Pine Ridge facility.

After some small talk for a minute or two, I asked him to go back to his practice session.

He hit a solid drive, with a hint of left to right spin, that probably carried about 230 yards or so.

The young man shook his head in displeasure and put another ball on the tee.

The next one was a little higher, with less spin, and again carried roughly 225 yards.

He didn't say a word. Two breaths later, another ball was on the tee. He lashed at that one and it featured a lower ball flight with just a smidgen of hook spin on it. It carried just past the 200 yard marker in the air but rolled out to easily 250 yards or more.

"See what I mean," the parent whispered to me. "This is what he does on the course. One good one, one bad one. He can't put it all together."

I didn't say a word, even though I had plenty to say just about that comment alone.

The young man hit three drives. Each of them were perfectly playable in "real golf". Sure, the shot shape was different on each, but that didn't take away from the fact that all three were more than acceptable for any level of golfer.

"Hit a couple of wedges for me," I said to the young man, whose most recent tournament round was a 79, which put him in 7th place for his age division, six shots behind the winning score of 73.

"Can I see your driver?" I asked as he slipped the head cover on.

He was playing the latest and greatest driver from TaylorMade, something they call "Twist Face Technology", which -- according to their crafty marketing -- is actually supposed to straighten out the clubface as it enters the hitting area and help correct a not-square impact position. That, of course, is more marketing than it is reality, but that's a story for another day.

"He loves that club," the parent said. "We got it for him last Christmas."

The young man's grip on his driver was worn out. Just placing my hands on the club, I could "feel" where his left and right thumbs rest on the club.

He hit a handful of wedge shots, most of them acceptable, a few of them precise enough to bounce into the big yellow "100" sign just out in front of us.

After about ten wedge efforts, he looked up at me. "Keep hitting them or do something else now?"

I could sense he was bored.

"That's enough," I replied. "Can I see your wedge?"

The grip felt like it had just been put on yesterday. It was almost brand new, at least in feel.

"Just get new grips on these?" I asked.

"No," he said. "That's the grip that came with it. I got it last summer."

"Is there something wrong with the grip?" the parent asked. "We can get it changed."

"No, there's nothing at all wrong with this grip," I said as I held up the wedge. "But this one is shot," I offered, picking up the driver that was leaning against his golf bag.

The young golfer giggled. "Yeah, I use that club a lot."

I figured if they were interested enough to ask me to come out that I should be totally honest with them. This young man wasn't going to get any better by me not telling them the truth.

"In any given round of golf, the maximum amount of times you'll possibly hit your driver is fourteen," I said.

"That's the max. You might hit only hit it twelve times. Maybe you'll hit an iron or three-wood the other two times. But you might use your wedges (he had three in his bag) fifteen times or more in any round. Plus, nearly every time you have a wedge in your hand, you can potentially save one shot by hitting the ball next to the hole."

I held out his two clubs for evidence.

"The driver grip is completely worn out. Your wedge grip is brand new, basically. You got the driver at Christmas and the wedge last summer. It probably should be the other way around."

The young man then went into an explanation about how he was the shortest guy in his group (off the tee) last week at a tournament and how he was always ten or twenty yards behind his playing competitors.

"You're too young to remember Charley Eckman," I said to the kid. "But your dad might remember him. Charley was a basketball coach. A great one. He once said to his team during a last minute timeout of an important game, 'There are only two plays -- South Pacific and put the ball in the basket -- now go out there and get us a bucket to win this game.'"

"The only thing that matters in golf is how many shots it took you to get the ball in the hole," I explained.

"You're going to get much better at golf hitting 100 wedge shots and 25 drivers than you are hitting 100 drivers and 25 wedge shots. There's nothing wrong with your golf swing. Your posture needs a little work, maybe, but that's about it. What you really need to do is get better with your wedges."

I wasn't 100% sure that's what they wanted to hear, but it's what nearly every golfer-who-wants-to-get-better should accept. You hit 12 or 14 drivers per-round. But every time you have a wedge in your hand, you have the ability to take a shot off your card if you can hit it close to the hole.

"Get a new grip on that driver, too," I said. "You've completely worn that one out."

The father walked me away while his son went back to hitting balls.

"You don't see anything wrong his swing?" he asked. I almost felt like he wanted me to tear it apart.

"No," I said, firmly. "He's 12 years old. He's doing fine. He's like every other kid. He wants to hit the ball far. My high school players have the same affliction. They all want to hit it 300 yards off the tee. Some of them can. But it's their wedge game that needs to be perfected. The same for him. If he gets really good with his wedges and putter, he'll make incredible progress."

None of that has anything to do with Buck Showalter believing in baseball analytics, mind you.

But I keep thinking about my impromptu "lesson" with that young man as I watch the Orioles lose night after night after night.

Somehow, these professional baseball players have lost their way.

I'm not blaming all of it on advanced metrics or anything like that, but I am blaming some of what's happened on nerds who have ruined the art of "playing the game".

Batters are now worried about "launch angle" and less worried about actually just putting the ball in play.

"Exit velocity" -- perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever heard of -- is somehow now more important than just "hitting it where they ain't".

I get it. Some teams, like the Yankees and Astros and Braves, are doing just fine. The Orioles are the worst team in baseball so their warts are magnified.

I don't for one minute think Buck Showalter really believes that advanced metrics and analytics have made baseball "better".

"Twist face technology" sure hasn't helped Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy drive the ball any better.

Here's a secret that I'll share just for the sake of sharing it. I no longer use a laser that calculates yardages when I play golf. Maybe once a round I'll shoot the pin from the fairway -- especially if there's a bunker or hazard to cross and I need to know the yardage that's required to navigate those obstacles -- but for the most part mine stays in my golf bag now.

At some point, I figured this out: Back in the early 2000's, when I was playing some of the best golf I've ever played, those lasers weren't even invented yet. Somehow, looking at the sprinkler head and seeing it marked "143" was good enough for me. I'd see a back pin, assume that meant five additional yards, and I'd play the shot for 148 yards.

These days, you shoot the pin with your laser, see 126, and you're suddenly consumed with hitting it 126 yards. In reality, you likely need to hit the ball either 120 or 130, depending on the pin location (front, back, etc.). "Feel" has been replaced with "precision" in golf. And not for the better, in my opinion.

The same thing has happened in baseball.

The feel is gone. Players are now robotically programmed to swing the bat with something else in mind other than "just make good contact and hit this someplace where one of their guys won't catch it".

Baseball nerds will argue against that, but they're wrong.

Sports is about "feel". Sure, "power" comes into play, there's no doubt about it. But the best players, in any sport, are the ones who "feel" their way around the court, field, course or rink.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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.



odds and ends


The Orioles truly have put themselves in an absurd position in terms of management by letting Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette linger on one year deals all the way to the brink of the deadline.

Drew might be right in guessing that they will have a new GM in a couple of weeks, though I wouldn't bet on it, but that's not actually much better.

If the Orioles hired a new GM next week, they'd be giving whoever that is just over a month to handle some of the most crucial transactions in the franchise's recent history with no first hand knowledge of the talks Duquette has already had with other teams. It's actually impressive how often they manage to get into situations where there is no good choice to make, honestly.

You know who doesn't seem so sure that the Ravens are being 100% honest when they say that Joe Flacco doesn't have to worry about Lamar Jackson taking his job this year?

Joe Flacco.

Has Joe Flacco changed his tune now that his heir apparent is in purple?

After years of being criticized for not putting in time working with his receivers more during the off-season, Flacco coincidentally told the media that he will be doing just that sometime between now and training camp.

In fairness I usually think that this is a dumb complaint: Players spend gobs of practice time together, and there's likely not much more they can get out of extra time sans pads and defenders.

But this year Flacco not only has half a dozen new targets to build chemistry with, it wouldn't hurt him to make some symbolic gestures to show that he knows it can't be another year of business as usual for Joe Cool. There were no specific plans made as of last week, however, so we'll see if this actually happens.

I don't know if you know this, but Mike Trout is good at baseball.

As a matter of fact, he might very well be in the middle of the best individual season in baseball history. In addition to leading the majors with 23 home runs entering Thursday, Trout is hitting .335/.469/.689 and has more walks than strikeouts.

With a wRC+ of 213, Trout is over twice as good as the average AL hitter. For perspective, only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle have ever had a full season wRC+ better than 205. And at 26 years old, Trout is already among the ranks of Hall of Famer like Vlad Guerrero in career WAR.

It's time to start seriously considering that Trout might be the best player ever, in other words. Which means that, at this moment, we are arguably watching the best players ever in baseball, basketball (LeBron), and football (Brady), and all of them are playing at MVP levels. That's remarkable, and honestly may never happen again.

Speaking of LeBron, it's fascinating that the Cavs are on the verge of chasing him out of town AGAIN. Twice now they have utterly failed to build a worthy supporting cast for the best player of this generation, but Dan Gilbert is apparently telling people he thinks he can build a championship team without LeBron. I'm sure that will work out roughly as well as his previous prediction that he would win a title before LeBron.

As for where LeBron ends up, the Lakers seem like the perfect landing spot, and it would be hard to blame James for wanting the challenge of taking the league's premier franchise back to the top.

But personally, I'm pulling for San Antonio. With Kawhi Leonard on the way out the Spurs will have a chance to build an entire roster around LeBron, and the prospect of the best player and the best coach of this era, or maybe ever, teaming up to take on the best team ever in Golden State is something to get excited about.

I am SHOCKED that Jameis Winston has been suspended for (allegedly) groping a woman. Who could have seen that one coming?

Finally, Buck Showalter said something very interesting this week in an interview with Fangraphs. Speaking about the ways the game is changing, Showalter singled out this past off-season's notably lean free agency period.

"I guarantee you, if you sign a guy to a seven-year contract, you’re going to be lucky if you’re happy for four of those seven," the Orioles manager said.

First of all, it's easy to read that as a reference to Chris Davis, Buck's very own albatross of a seven year contract. Secondly, Buck segued into the remark by bringing up the accusations of collusion that were thrown around over the winter, which he dismissed out of hand. Lastly, Showalter doesn't really have any vested interest in siding with the owners here, since they're also squeezing managerial salaries by hiring a bunch of young inexperienced new coaches.

So with that in mind it seems most likely that this remark reflects Buck's genuine outlook on the roster management aspect of the game, and that's something the union, and fans, ought to be paying attention to, because it's a dynamic that's going to require a massive shift in the economic foundation of the league.

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we need one more team for our charlotte golf-ravens trip


OK golfers, this is your chance.

Our "Charlotte Cup" trip in late October is nearly filled up. We need one (1) more team of two to complete the field.

We'll be leaving on Thursday, October 25 and playing golf Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then taking in the Ravens-Panthers game on October 28 before heading back home that night.

You and your partner will play in our 2-man tournament, complete with daily prizes and tournament prizes.

Everything is included, including airfare, hotel, golf, and your Ravens-Panthers game ticket.

You and your partner must both have a verifiable USGA handicap to participate in the event.

If you're interested or need more details, please e-mail me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Thursday
June 21
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issue 21
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there's a chance no one gets traded


A casual conversation yesterday with someone associated with the Orioles revealed quite a startling nugget.

It's almost something I hadn't even considered, but I was assured it's a definite possibility as June prepares to turn into July and the Major League Baseball trade deadline approaches at the end of next month.

"They might not deal anyone," the associate said.

"Impossible," I replied. "They've done some dumb things before but that would be the cake-topper of all cake-toppers."

"It's a possibility," he continued. "They're not going to make a couple of trades and gut the team just to say they did it."

With another impressive performance in last night's 3-0 win over the Nationals, will the Orioles be able to deal Zach Britton to a contender next month and get something of real value in return?

Well, if that happens -- if guys like Britton, Brach, Machado and, yes, even Jones -- are still on the team come August, that would potentially be about the most foolish thing the O's organization has done in my lifetime.

Yes, even more foolish than giving Chris Davis $161 million back in January of 2016. That at least appeared like a reasonable thing to do at the time.

Keeping a 33-70 team together (assuming they can be "that good" on July 31) would be dumb. Plain and simple. And not only would it be dumb, it would be catastrophic as it relates to kick-starting an important rebuilding project.

I'm not around the club every day, obviously, and the associate sorta-kinda is, so I'll take his opinion seriously. I'll also remember, as he stressed during the conversation, that it's "possible" that no trades are made. And "possible" that some are, in fact, consumated before the deadline.

Here's my prediction: Trades will be made. But they'll be made by a different general manager.

Sometime in the next two weeks, the Orioles will part ways with Dan Duquette.

The new guy -- most likely Ned Colletti, I'm guessing -- will then orchestrate a series of moves to his liking in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

I know what you're thinking: "That's very Orioles'ish".

Right?

I agree. But that's the most likely scenario I can create for how this is all going to shake out.

For starters, I think we can all agree that it makes no sense at all to have Duquette pull the trigger on deals that are to his liking when it's almost a foregone conclusion he won't be employed by the Orioles in 2019.

That's not "Orioles'ish", actually. That's common sense.

What's not smart, though, is to have someone new step right into the fire ten days after he's brought on board and ask him to oversee an entire rebuilding project with the trade of three or four key pieces.

Unless that person has known for a month or so that he's going to be hired in July and has been secretly putting a plan together...

Enter Ned Colletti, the former Dodgers' GM who last week was linked to the Orioles through a report by national baseball writer Ken Rosenthal. Duquette told reporters last week he discovered that story wasn't true and that the club hadn't contacted Colletti about his job, but I don't really think anyone believes that. Duquette might, but no one else does.

Look, it wouldn't be a complete shock if July 31 comes and goes and the Orioles don't make any moves. It would be surprising, yes. It would be silly, yes. But would you be out-of-your-mind shocked if Britton, Manny, Brach and Jones are still here on August 1st? Of course not. They're the Orioles...

I'm sticking with my prediction above. Duquette will be replaced at some point in the next two weeks and the new guy will make the trades, in concert with the Angelos family and Brady Anderson.

The Orioles aren't going to botch this trade-deadline-thing. Who knows what they'll get and whether they'll "win" the trades or not, but they aren't going to squander this opportunity.

At least I sure hope they don't.

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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.


remember this about sports gambling


Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on sports betting. The National Football League has been invited to testify at the hearing; from all accounts, the NFL is looking to Congress to pass a bill that regulates the industry in all 50 states.

Don’t make that out to be anything more than what it is: a way to make it much easier for the league to get a piece of the action. And why not? There’s nothing to bet on without the product itself.

The hearing, and others sure to happen in the Senate, are in response to last month’s Supreme Court decision that struck down the law known as PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. With those federal restrictions lifted, Delaware and New Jersey got into the game almost immediately. Two other casino states, Mississippi and West Virginia, are expected to follow shortly.

I say “the game” intentionally. What you used to be able to do legally only in Nevada, place a bet on a single game, or a single event like the U.S. Open, is soon to be available in lots of other places. Whatever happens on the federal level, and however the sports leagues make out in the deal, there’s something to be said for bringing many billions of dollars in illegal sports bets out into the open.

There’s not a lot of danger in walking up to a window at Monmouth Park and placing $10 on that night’s Mets game.

I hope something else gets brought out into the open, though, along with the betting itself.

Sports gambling ruins lives.

I’ve seen it first-hand with someone close to me. I’ve seen a youthful interest that costs a few bucks turn into a full-fledged addiction, one where you wake up at 1 a.m. on Saturday because you really need to know the score of the Fairfield-Iona basketball game you had something riding on. There’s only so many games played on Friday nights, you know?

I’ve seen it ruin marriages, friendships and other relationships. Maybe even worse, I’ve seen it create relationships between people that would have been better off not knowing each other.

Worst of all, I’ve seen it be the first in a series of decisions that ended in incarceration. Sometimes when you need money, even if it’s for all the right reasons, you make the wrong choices. Your money problems become the least of your worries.

I know. That’s one situation in a million, a person who had some kind of weakness that you don’t have. I hope it stays that way for you, and it’s probably a good thing that what you like to do is on its way to the mainstream.

I hope that you’ve never experienced the pain of any other addictions, though the percentages say that you have, if not with yourself then with a relative or close friend.

I just wish we talked about sports gambling in a different way.

Taking away the obvious, that interest in the NFL and other sports comes at least somewhat from betting, there’s lots of joking about sports gambling in the media.

Al Michaels is maybe the most accomplished television play-by-play announcer of all-time. Occasionally, he likes to remind viewers of Football Night in America what the line on the game was. He’s cheeky about it, and it’s funny. Of course, I don’t have a bet on the game.

When Bill Simmons started a sportswriting revolution in the late 90s and early 2000s as “The Sports Guy,” he crystalized the fan’s point of view in a new way. A big part of that was gambling; more than anyone who’s written about sports in the internet age, Simmons was public about it. It was a big reason for his interest in the games and knowledge of the players, and he wasn’t afraid to say it. Based on his popularity, a lot of readers were doing the same thing.

Last month, in response to the Supreme Court decision, Simmons even said that he “feels like the Founding Father of this whole thing.” Humble? Not so much. Truthful? To a point. Bringing the realities of sports gambling out into the open, and illuminating the sheer amount of interest there, certainly played a part in public and media perception of the issue.

There’s never any recognition in any of it, though, that losing is anything more than something to curse and joke about before trying again next weekend.

There’s never any recognition that many people can’t look at it the way Simmons does, as a game, fodder for their job.

There’s no recognition that a lot of people reading don’t have the money to be doing what they’re doing, but they keep doing it anyway.

That’s someone else’s problem, and at some point, you make your own decisions as to whether you want to lose your own money. The entire Supreme Court case was based on that, in a way. The former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, said it best. “The people of New Jersey wanted this, and who is the federal government to stop them?”

I know New Jersey won in court, but I really don’t think legalized sports gambling is some kind of great win for anyone. For some, it’ll be a big loss.

I am willing to laugh about one thing when it comes to sports gambling. Thinking about it makes me laugh out loud, because it’s not about any one person. It’s about sports itself.

Without a doubt, it’s truly amusing when a defensive lineman recovers a fumble on a desperation play as the clock hits 0:00 and scores a touchdown, thus turning a three-point win into a nine-point win on a game with a five-point line.

It’s not amusing because somebody lost money on the deal. It’s not amusing because that guy’s going to try again next week to make that money back.

It’s funny because it makes you wonder how anybody can bet on any competitive sporting event involving human beings.

It makes you wonder how anyone can deal with the fact that the ball Manny Machado hit today was the same as the one he hit yesterday, except that today’s game was in Fenway Park so the ball that was a game-winning home run in Camden Yards the other day is just a single.

It makes you wonder how exactly you’ll know that James Harden’s foot was on the line that one time, so the three-pointer was really a two-pointer, or how you can predict that J.R. Smith isn’t going to know the score of the game when he gets a rebound.

It never ceases to make me laugh. The games, that is. The product that we bet on.

I won’t ever laugh at the bettors, though. They do it for fun, or seriously, and sometimes because they’re addicted. They make choices, with their lives and their money, that are theirs to make. With the Supreme Court’s decision, they’ll get to make them in a different way.

Someone will prosper in the deal. More people than you realize will have it blow up in their faces.

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42% of you aren't watching soccer


Yesterday's #DMD reader's poll about the World Cup showed one thing very clearly.

A large number of you aren't watching the games. At all. As in, "haven't watched one yet".

42% of those who responded said they haven't yet watched any games in the one-week old tournament.

The interesting follow-up to that question would have been: "Would you have watched the U.S. play had they qualified?" Or are you someone who simply wouldn't watch, no matter what?

25% said they have watched bits and pieces of several games. So, some folks -- at least in #DMD world -- are watching occasionally, at least.

19% said they've watched several games in their entirety. Combining those two numbers, 44% have watched "a lot" of the World Cup thus far and 42% haven't watched any at all.

None of that data is overly surprising. The World Cup, much like the Olympics, is only important to the masses if there's a national rooting interest. Sure, there are pockets of folks who are interested because they follow the sport, but without the U.S. playing in the event in Russia, there's little reason at all for the casual sports fan to tune in.

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Wednesday
June 20
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issue 20
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i'm still watching (but not sure why)


A friend reached out to me via Twitter last night in the aftermath of comments I made about the Orioles and their 9-7 loss in D.C. to the Nationals.

"I'm not sure if I'm impressed you are watching these games or sad for you," he wrote.

Earlier in the evening at Eagle's Nest, as I enjoyed an Arnold Palmer and watched a 5-1 Birds lead evaporate, a golfing friend said something similar: "Are you really still watching these clowns night in and night out?"

Maybe I'm one of a few, but, yes, I'm still watching the games night in and night out.

I know. I need more hobbies. Is that what you're thinking?

Too bad Manny didn't show this type of effort in the 5th inning last night when the Birds had a 5-1 lead.

You might be right.

I'm not even 100% sure why I watch the games, other than the fact that I love baseball and the Orioles. I'm certainly not expecting them to turn this awful season around or anything of that nature, but I would like to see them string together a handful of wins or go 8-2 over a ten-game stretch just so we can see the players and Buck Showalter smiling again.

Alas, that doesn't appear possible at this point.

Last night was yet another win-thrown-away by the Birds, who now sit at 20-51 on the season.

Luck, Buck, Manny and a bad bullpen all conspired against the Orioles last night in D.C.

The game's pivotal moment came all the way back in the top of the 5th, when the Birds loaded the bases with no outs and up came the team's best player, Manny Machado.

"We're one hit away from breaking this thing open," I said to no one in particular at the bar at Eagle's Nest. There were a dozen guys sitting there. Most were focused on something other than the Orioles game.

Machado, looking like he was about 35% interested in being there, promptly half-swung at the first pitch and meekly grounded into a double play. Yes, a run scored. No, Manny didn't look like he was trying.

"If we don't score again in this inning, that's a game-changer right there," I said to someone. "Bases loaded and no outs..."

Before I could finish the sentence, Mark Trumbo was striking out to end the inning.

Twenty minutes later, it was 5-5.

Machado was involved again. So, too, was Buck Showalter.

With the bases loaded, Adam Eaton hit a soft grounder to Machado's right, in the hole between 3rd and short. It was one of those seeing-eye balls that slithered through the infield -- barely -- but Machado's half-hearted stab at it allowed two runners to score. If he dives to make a play, even just knocking the ball down, only one run scores.

I get it. I probably shouldn't be telling Manny Machado how to play shortstop. Maybe if he gave 100% I wouldn't have to give instructions.

David Hess -- who looks like he might be a keeper -- then walked Juan Soto to again load the bases.

Buck must have been taking a pee break or something. Hess stayed in the game.

"Buck, don't leave this kid in there," I yelled at the TV. "Get him out of there, now."

The TV cameras panned to the O's dugout and there was Showalter. I couldn't tell if he was awake or not.

Apparently he wasn't.

A sacrifice fly and a Bryce Harper double to shallow left tied the game at 5-5.

Showalter strolled out to give Hess the butt-patt and turn the game over to Miguel Castro, two hitters too late, it turned out.

"Way to go Buck," I said as I grabbed my keys and headed for the door.

The O's would go back ahead 6-5 in the top of the 6th, but that only made it even more frustrating in the 7th inning when Tanner Scott couldn't get anyone out and the Nationals erupted for four runs to put the finishing touches on their win.

As I watched the Birds go down in the 9th inning (Joey Rickard did hit a home run in the 9th, by the way), I shook my head in disbelief at yet another night of failure.

My 10 year-old son popped upstairs just as the game was ending. "The O's lost," I said to him as he sat on the couch. "I'm sure they did," he replied.

Even my kids are wondering why I watch the games every night.

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world cup update


Has anyone in these parts watched the World Cup?

I'm curious.

I haven't.

I've seen bits and pieces of four games, total. I'd say the most I've seen in any one sitting was yesterday while I had lunch at Eagle's Nest. I saw the last 20 minutes of Poland-Senegal.

Without the U.S. being in the event, I'm simply not that interested. Sure, I might watch the quarterfinals, semifinals or finals, or I might play golf those days. I'm certainly not going to schedule my day around the World Cup without a dog-in-the-hunt.

From what I've seen thus far, though, this 2018 World Cup has been filled with surprises.

Lionel Messi's shocking penalty kick miss in the World Cup opener was among the first-week surprises at the World Cup, as Argentina played to a 1-1 tie with Iceland.

Mexico beating Germany, 1-0, last week, is the biggest shocker of them all to date, but that's more about Germany than it is Mexico. I even said last week on Glenn Clark Radio that I thought Mexico could be a surprise team in the tournament.

Iceland playing Argentina to a 1-1 draw might be equally as surprising, particularly when you note Argentina has 43 million people and Iceland has 300,000. Let's just say the player pool is a bit bigger in Argentina.

Russia, the host country, is playing well thus far -- something else I predicted on Glenn's show last week -- now sitting at 2-0 in group play after yesterday's win over Egypt. The Russian squad looks like they might have stumbled onto something just in time to make some noise.

Fortunately, thus far, there haven't been many controversies. Yes, players still dive all the field every time they're kicked or bumped. The officiating is consistently-inconsistent, but mostly because it's impossible to tell if a player is really hurt or really faking.

The action, from what I've seen, has been very good. International soccer, played by those who are among the best in the world, can be breathtaking at times when they move the ball from point A to B to C to D with a series of stunning passes and ball control.

But I haven't watched much of the World Cup so far.

Maybe I will in the next couple of weeks.

How about you? Complete our #DMD reader's poll and tell us how much of it you've watched thus far.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: How much World Cup have you watched so far?
None at all
One full game entirely
Bits and pieces of one game
Several games entirely
Bits and pieces of several games
Name
Email address
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we need one more team for our charlotte golf-ravens trip


OK golfers, this is your chance.

Our "Charlotte Cup" trip in late October is nearly filled up. We need one (1) more team of two to complete the field.

We'll be leaving on Thursday, October 25 and playing golf Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then taking in the Ravens-Panthers game on October 28 before heading back home that night.

You and your partner will play in our 2-man tournament, complete with daily prizes and tournament prizes.

Everything is included, including airfare, hotel, golf, and your Ravens-Panthers game ticket.

You and your partner must both have a verifiable USGA handicap to participate in the event.

If you're interested or need more details, please e-mail me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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Tuesday
June 19
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issue 19
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win the cup, lose your job


That NHL...it's one tough gig if you're fortunate enough to be a head coach.

Heck, you can even win the Stanley Cup title on June 7th and lose your job on June 18th.

Or give up your job.

No one's really, 100% sure what exactly happened to Barry Trotz yesterday, but one thing is certain. He won't be coaching the Washington Capitals next season.

Depending on which side of the story you lean on the most, Trotz either quit in a huff yesterday or the Capitals intentionally steered clear of his contract demands in the wake of the team's championship run.

Barry Trotz lifted the Stanley Cup on June 7th. Eleven days later, he was unemployed.

The source of Trotz's sour grapes came in the form of a long term contract he desired from owner Ted Leonsis. Caps GM Brian MacLellan told reporters on Monday a 5-year deal and money commensurate with being a top 5 coach in the league were sticking points for the Capitals.

What did Leonsis and MacLellan expect? The hometown discount?

Trotz -- like him or not -- just delivered the first-ever Stanley Cup in franchise history. Yes, there was a built-in extension that he signed four years ago that essentially protected the team for precisely the series of events that happened this spring, but surely Leonsis could see just how silly he would look if Trotz and the Caps won the title and "all" the head coach received was a $300,000 pay increase.

In other words, if you're advising Leonsis, you tell him to rip up the two-year extension and give Trotz the average salary of the top five coaches in the NHL and be done with it.

It didn't happen that way, though.

Trotz, according to someone closely associated with the team that I spoke with last night, was apparently miffed all season long that he was left dangling in the final year of his original deal with the Capitals.

He was also upset with a handful of personnel decisions that were made above him, including retaining assistant coaches and scouts without his prior approval.

Mostly, though, he was disappointed that no one from the organization reached out to him about structuring a new contract between June 8 and June 15.

"When that call didn't come in, Barry's agent put something together and submitted it," the source said. "That was their last attempt at making something happen."

The Capitals apparently rejected the proposal right away, citing their position within the league's financial model and not having the resources to cough up upwards of $25 million in guaranteed money for a coach.

Look, here's the deal. It's pretty simple.

Ted Leonsis and the Washington Capitals have $25 million to give to their coach for the next five years. Any suggestion that they're "not a major market team" and thus, can't afford it, is garbage.

If they don't want Trotz to be the coach, they should just say it. Giving him five more years would mean, if the deal played to its duration, that Trotz would be a 9-year coach in the NHL. That's a long time, no doubt about it.

But this malarkey from the Capitals that they can't afford $5 million a year for a coach who just delivered them a Stanley Cup is embarrassingly off-key.

If you don't want the guy to be the coach any longer, just 'fess up and say that.

Trotz, according to the source, was extremely frustrated with the team throughout the early part of 2018.

"What you saw at the end of the season was completely different than what went on in January and February," the source said. "Barry wasn't happy. The players weren't happy. Ownership wasn't particularly happy. And Barry knew that."

That all changed in April, May and June, though. Or, at the very least, it should have.

The Capitals beat Columbus, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, then beat league-darling Las Vegas in five games to not only win the Cup, but potentially set the stage for a five-year run of financial success for the organization in terms of ticket sales, sponsorship and media revenue.

That financial windfall might still come their way, but the Caps first have to figure out how to put a shine on this Trotz debacle.

The only coach who ever won a Stanley Cup in franchise history is gone.

Sure, Trotz plays a role in this, too. After all, he signed a deal four years ago that included a 2-year extension if the team ever won the Cup. He knew that before the Columbus playoff series this April.

But nothing about the Trotz extension should interfere with his return to the team in 2018-2018. Unless, of course, the coach doesn't really want to work for Leonsis and MacLellan any longer, which certainly appears like the case.

These sorts of things typically happen when a team loses. Instead, the Caps have quite a circus on their hands just two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

They just lost the only championship coach they've ever had.

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i can fix the u.s. open


I'm actually not one of these goofs sounding off about the United States Golf Association and how "out of touch they are" with the way to operate a golf tournament.

But I will help them fix the U.S. Open here today.

Let's establish this and remind everyone of something right away: The USGA runs two dozen tournaments a year. They do not only set-up and operate the U.S. Open.

They run the U.S. Women's Open, the Men's and Women's Senior Open, a slew of amateur and team championships, and so on.

The U.S. Open is not, by any means, the only event they oversee.

Ian Poulter was one of many professionals who complained about the U.S. Open last weekend, a tournament he's never won in his career.

But because PGA Tour players and international golfers are the hardest people in the world to please, the U.S. Open is under constant scrutiny.

Before I fix the U.S. Open, let's reconfirm one more time what happened this past weekend at Shinnecock Hills.

The golf tournament, for the most part, was actually a success. In hindsight now, I'm a little surprised the USGA curled up into the fetal position on Saturday night in the midst of Mickelson-gate and the online social media bashing they took from players.

There was a two or three hour period on Saturday in which the weather started dictating the playability of the golf course more than anyone, including the USGA, projected it might.

Goofy players and analysts alike kept saying this on Saturday: "The guys who played in the morning played an entirely different course than did the guys in the afternoon."

Of course they did. It was soft and playing easier on Saturday around 10:00 am when the first groups went. Later in the day, after the sun got high and baked the greens, the wind blew and a couple of hole locations went on the fritz once the course got dried out.

If you play Pine Ridge this Saturday morning at 7:30 am, you will play a different course than the one someone would play who tees off, say, at 2:30 pm.

It's the nature of weather, and moisture, and wind and sunshine.

What happened on Saturday wasn't nearly the calamity that folks like Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel tried to make it out to be.

"The integrity of the golf tournament is definitely in question," he said on Saturday night.

Hogwash.

A bunch of players handled it well on Saturday. A few didn't. Guess what? That's what the U.S. Open does. It weeds people out, here and there, day by day, hole by hole, even.

Ian Poulter whining about the set-up was as predictable as Buck Showalter saying "Chris Davis is working hard". Poulter should worry more about his putting.

But I can fix the U.S. Open, if in fact, it actually needs fixing, which I'm not sure it does. Or at the very least, I can help ease the seemingly-annual bellyaching that seems to coincide with our country's national golf championship.

First, the yardage for the event does NOT need to be 7,500 or 7,600 yards. Pretty soon, we'll be looking at an 8,000 yard course.

If I ran the U.S. Open, the max yardage for a par 70 layout would be 7,200 yards. And I don't like this idea that the championship has to be played at a par 70. If the golf course has four par 5's, why not play it with four par 5's?

Second, narrow the fairways. I've been saying this forever. If you want to make any golf course, anywhere, more difficult today than it was yesterday, simply make the fairways 30 yards wide and grow the rough up around the greens.

You know what that sounds like? The U.S. Open circa 1990, that's what.

That's how it used to be, but the players started moaning and groaning back then, even.

If you make the fairways 30 yards wide, you'll start seeing who the best players are again.

If you make the fairways 65 yards wide like they did on a number of holes at Erin Hills last year, don't be shocked when Brooks Koepka shoots 16 under par and makes a mockery of your national championship.

Third, grow the rough three or four inches around the greens, so that average ball strikers are penalized and great ones are rewarded.

With that, though, comes the issue of green firmness. Because you're narrowing the fairways and growing the rough up around the greens, you have to keep the putting surfaces a tad moist throughout the week. They can dry out during the day, but they have to be watered a bit at night.

Green speed can be 11 or 12. Those are both easy to manage for the game's best players.

But you have to reward the players who hit the fairway and hit the green. Giving them an accessible pin to shoot at and a reasonably receptive putting surface will reward the player who actually plays the best golf that week.

What's happened over the years is that the length players are hitting the tee ball has frightened everyone. Course designers and tournament organizers alike are petrified that 320 yard tee shots are going to ruin golf.

Not true.

You still have to hit it on the green and make the putt. And despite all the advancement in metal headed clubs and irons over the last 20 years, I've yet to see a company make a putter that, without question, helps a player make more putts.

As Brooks Koepka showed last week at Shinnecock Hills, you have to hit it straight, hit it on the green, and make the putts.

Having just one of those three things work for you isn't good enough.

The way to make the U.S. Open "more fair" is to make the golf course look and play like it did when the course designer laid it out.

Narrow the fairways. Grow the rough. Reward the guy who hits it the straightest, not the furthest.

And, I'm willing to bet, if you do those things, the player who putts it the best will win.

Just like always...

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o's doing nothing, except losing


I'm not sure why any of this surprises me, but it does -- kind of.

The Orioles are 20-50, with the worst record in Major League Baseball, and yet here we are, on June 19, and not one move has been made yet by Dan Duquette.

The Nationals beefed up their bullpen last night when they acquired Kelvin Herrera from the Royals. Was Zach Britton on their list? Are the O's and Nats on no-trade terms? Why Herrera and not Britton?

Still an Oriole...

There will be other opportunities to trade Britton, obviously, but last night's Herrera-to-the-Nationals deal sparked yet another thought that perhaps the Orioles aren't going to be active at the trade deadline, despite being thirty games below .500 at the 70-game mark of the season.

Here's the issue, though. Who will actually make the trade for the Orioles?

Duquette?

He's gone at the end of the season. Will the Orioles really allow him the flexibility to make deals for their organization when they know he won't be around in 2019? That seems kind of backwards to me. Yes, I know, "backwards" and "Orioles" go together like cream and sugar, but I'm not sure they're even that mixed up to allow an outgoing employee free reign to make decisions that will impact their business next year and in the future.

Who makes the deals, then? Brady Anderson? OK, maybe so, but that's sorta-kinda like having the head groundskeeper make player personnel decisions. I mean, she knows the players on a first name basis, but that's about her extent of real "baseball knowledge". Is Brady really the person you want chiseling away at your franchise in an effort to make it better?

I'll ask again. Who is making the trades between now and July 31st? One of the Angelos boys? Yikes...

No disrespect intended, but those guys aren't baseball experts. They're not fit to make these kind of decisions.

I'm not sure the Orioles are the only team that could have themselves in this kind of hot mess in the world of sports, but they're one of a select few. How on earth could they have allowed this to happen? A lame-duck general manager and a lame-duck manager, both at the same time. Look right down the road to yesterday's big news with the Capitals to see what happens when you allow a coach to enter a lame-duck season.

This is a mess down at the Warehouse. A big, sloppy mess.

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June 18
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u.s. open delivers again


As always, it came down to the guy who putted best.

On Saturday and Sunday, when any one of eight putts could have swung the golf tournament in someone else's direction, Brooks Koepka made them all. And it all added up to a second straight U.S. Open triumph for Koepka, who once famously said, "I'm not sure I love golf all that much, but I know I'm really good at it."

Indeed. He is really, really good at it.

Koepka has now done something that even the great 14-time major champion Tiger Woods hasn't done. He's won back-to-back U.S. Open titles. Koepka's two major wins -- at age 28, no less -- tie him with the likes of Greg Norman, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer, each of whom also won two majors in their careers.

And to think that Koepka claimed his wins on completely opposite golf courses, shooting 16-under par at last year's half-a-muni, Erin Hills, and posting 1-over par at one of the country's toughest layouts, Shinnecock Hills. There's something to be said for "horses for courses", but Koepka looks like a guy who can play anywhere, anytime.

There were plenty of other storylines from Sunday, though. Koepka stayed in the spotlight most of the day, but others shared it with him.

Brooks Koepka won his 2nd straight U.S. Open title on Sunday, shooting a final round 68 to win by one shot.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) predictably stubbed their toe on Sunday, caving in to the complaints of the players following an overblown situation on Saturday in which a couple of pins were placed in delicate spots on the greens, most notably #13 and #15. The USGA softened the greens overnight leading into Sunday's final round and made several changes to pin locations in order to make scoring more attainable for the final round of the event.

Sunday looked more like the final round at Kapalua than the U.S. Open, as Rickie Fowler (65) set the early pace by improving on his score from Saturday to Sunday by a whopping 19 shots. Tommy Fleetwood followed that up with a 7-under par 63 that nearly won him his first major title.

It's a shame the USGA fell for the whining on Saturday. There's almost no way to produce a "perfect course", as weather -- particularly that which they see on Long Island, where it changes rapidly -- is always the great equalizer. And that's what happened, mostly, on Saturday. Lots of players, even guys in the late afternoon, were able to navigate the 7,500 yard layout in the third round. There were lots of 72's, 73's and 74's, which are all reasonable scores at a U.S. Open.

But because a couple of guys took to complaining afterwards -- Zach Johnson and Ian Poulter, we're looking at you two -- the USGA felt compelled to get out of the way and ease the burden on Sunday. Sure, they "admitted" on Saturday evening that things got out of hand in the third round, but that was more to quiet the masses than it was an admission of guilt.

USGA officials tried to explain to people that the weather was the main factor in how much the golf course changed from morning to afternoon, but no one wanted to listen. The same thing happened on Sunday, even, but no one seemed to notice. The players who went out early found soft, damp greens and the wind wasn't blowing. By the afternoon, the greens were once again dry and the putting was much more defensive on the back nine than it was on the front.

Thankfully, the right guy won the golf tournament.

Dustin Johnson wasn't the winner, but he put up a great fight for four days. In the end, Johnson's putter betrayed him, the same way it did at Chambers Bay back in 2015 when he gift-wrapped the U.S. Open to Jordan Spieth with a 72nd hole three-putt from 10 feet.

Johnson was the chief victim of Saturday's saga -- not Phil Mickelson, as you might have been led to believe -- but you didn't hear much complaining from him. He hit some wayward shots in the 3rd round that cost him, then did the same on the front nine yesterday. Ultimately, a trio of iffy wedge shots on #10, #12 and #16 hurt him most on Sunday. If he hits the ball close and makes birdie on those holes, it's a different story on the 18th green.

In the end, the guy who putted best on Saturday and Sunday was the winner. Time and time again, when faced with a 10-footer he had to make, Koepka sized it up and rolled it in.

And despite what you might have been led to believe, the golf course was also the winner. When the best players in the world can't shoot even par for four days, you know it's a special place.

The USGA will be under great scrutiny now, having stirred up a hornet's nest in 2015 at Chambers Bay (a facility that clearly wasn't ready to host a major championship), 2017 at Erin Hills (layout not conducive to a major) and 2018 at Shinnecock Hills (too many precarious pin locations used).

They shouldn't have a problem getting it right next year. The event returns to tried-and-true Pebble Beach, which basically sets up itself. But there will be fall-out from the Shinnecock Hills controversy, you can bet on that.

Ultimately, the biggest mistake the USGA makes is trying too hard to make the tournament stand out as the "toughest test of golf in all of the world". They don't publicize that as their mission statement, but you know full good and well it's their intention. But to some degree, they're right. As I've written time and time again, the U.S. Open should drive you nuts if you're lucky enough to quality for it. It should be penalizing. It should be unfair. It should be maddening. The guy who handles all of that stuff the best comes out on top.

And for the second straight year, the guy who handled it the best was Brooks Koepka.

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mickelson's stunt will leave a mark


Phil Mickelson teed it up on Sunday and acted as if nothing happened on Saturday afternoon, shooting a final round 69 at Shinnecock Hills.

That he even played yesterday was a farce.

Mickelson hit a moving ball -- intentionally -- during Saturday's third round. He did so, he said, to avoid having his ball wander off the green and slide 30 yards back down the fairway behind a bunker that fronts the 13th hole.

As soon as the USGA heard that admission from him on Saturday, he should have been disqualified.

Forget about the rule book and trying to figure out which rule could be used to both penalize and protect Mickelson. There's also a rule that allows for his disqualification based on a "serious breach", and what Mickelson did on the 13th hole was a serious breach if ever we've seen one.

There are three basic tenets of stroke play golf:

1. You play the ball as you find it, or, "play as it lies".

2. You must hole out on every hole, either by putt or some other stroke.

3. You must turn in the correct score for each of the 18 holes you play.

Mickelson violated the first rule when he hit a moving ball on #13. It's one thing if Mickelson's ball had momentarily stopped and then, as he went to hit it, it started to roll again and he accidentally played it while it was moving. That's different than what actually happened.

Mickelson knew precisely what he was doing and admitted afterwards it was an effort to "use the rules to my advantage" even though, we now know, he didn't even do that right.

In the end, the USGA whiffed by not DQ'ing him. Mickelson apparently contacted Mike Davis on Saturday night and offered to withdraw, then, in characteristic Phil fashion, he asked Davis to put out a media statement clarifying the rule and explaining why Mickelson wasn't disqualified.

"If you want me to withdraw, I will, but if you're going to allow me to stay in the tournament, I'd like for you to tell everyone why I'm allowed to still play on Sunday so people will get off my case..."

That's not a direct quote. But that's the synposis of their Saturday evening conversation.

What if Mickelson somehow makes the Ryder Cup team and the difference in the points between his spot and someone who doesn't automatically qualify are the points he picked up at the U.S. Open? How fair is that going to be? What about the prize money he earned yesterday at someone else's expense?

Mickelson should have called Mike Davis on Saturday night and removed himself from the golf tournament.

And when that call didn't come by, say, 9 pm, Davis should have done the deed himself and removed Phil from the field.

That decision would have robbed the USGA of a premium Sunday pairing of Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, but allowing him to play on Sunday robbed the game of golf of something much greater.

There's an old saying in golf that's used when someone hits a shot in a less-than-desirable location and then complains about it to his fellow playing partners: "You hit it there."

Mickelson "hit it there" on Saturday, except he didn't wait for it to finish there. He decided he'd rather violate one of golf's basic tenets. And then basically laughed about it afterwards.

Amateur-hour stuff.

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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.


You can’t get the whole story without asking the 5 Ws: Who? What? When? Where? and Why?

U.S. Open Edition

Who?

Phil Mickelson

What was most interesting about Phil’s decision to putt a moving ball on the 13th green on Saturday at the U.S. Open was that he seemed almost giddy doing it. He high-stepped around the hole like he was enjoying the ride.

Look, you can say that what Mickelson did was out-of-character, but we don’t really know Phil’s character, only the image that’s been created for him. You could say he was really frustrated, both with himself and the course.

Unfortunately, golf isn’t like basketball, where maybe you can hack somebody out of frustration and all it does is give you four fouls instead of three.

Professionals (and amateurs) playing in a tournament like the U.S. Open, or any tournament, agree to play by certain rules. They agree to count every stroke, for one, and they agree to play the ball as it lies.

When you do what Mickelson did, or what John Daly did in 1999, or what someone does on almost every golf course in America every weekend, the integrity of both those things is completely lost.

You can’t just smack the ball back to where it was. You’re artificially placing the ball into a spot where it doesn’t belong, and you’re doing it intentionally. Whatever penalty you take almost misses the point. Why are you even out there playing anymore?

Ironically, earlier in the broadcast, FOX ran a USGA promo about playing the ball as it lies. It’s the fundamental rule of the game, according to the USGA guy. If you honestly believe you can’t play the ball as it lies, or if that’s kind of obvious, then there are rules and penalties that allow you to play it somewhere else.

But you can’t know if you can play a ball as it lies until it stops, right?


What?

FOX Sports

News flash…four years into its contract with the United States Golf Association, FOX Sports still isn’t good at televising golf tournaments.

Some of the network’s decisions, such as the sheer amount of sound produced by so many microphones, seem good in principle but end up hurting the broadcast. There’s a technical part of doing the U.S. Open show that they’ve yet to master.

Now, I’m no expert, but producing a golf telecast is difficult. The game is not being played with 10 people wearing two uniforms on a 94-foot-court, or even 22 people on a 100-yard field.

We’re talking acres and acres of land and more than 100 players on the course at the same time, all wearing different clothes. The play-by-play announcer and the color man are replaced by lots of color men and women, spaced out across that acreage. The sheer amount of switching back-and-forth is amazing.

The only way you become good at doing golf TV is with practice, but FOX doesn’t get enough practice to be any good at it.

Starting with the tournament in San Diego in late January, Nantz and Faldo and the crew from the CBS do five straight weeks on the PGA Tour. Then NBC, Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller step in for several weeks before CBS returns for The Masters. CBS then gets most of the rest of the schedule for the year, though NBC has a couple gems in the PLAYERS and the Open Championship.

FOX gets one week a year, then spends the next 51 weeks figuring out what to do next year without ever being able to put it into practice at an actual men’s professional golf tournament. And then they get graded on the U.S. Open, one of the most watched tournaments of the year, not the Buick Open.


Where?

New York

As the crow flies, the golf course at Shinnecock is about 90 miles from midtown Manhattan. It’s out in the Hamptons, summer playground for the wealthy and people who wish they were wealthy. The club is an exclusive one, though apparently not as exclusive as the National Golf Links of America, just across the street.

I suppose it’s nice that, for this one week, the average person can walk the fairways of the golf course. I just wish most of those people weren’t New Yorkers.

I’m not talking about people who live in the New York City area or Long Island. I’m not talking about people who were born there and live elsewhere. I’m not talking about people with accents that give them away.

I’m talking about people who believe it’s their birthright to be loud, obnoxious and generally unpleasant.

You know, people who view the general low murmur or silence of the tee box at a tournament as an excuse to scream as soon as a ball is struck. People who find enjoyment in busting b***s, even though that’s something you do with your friends as opposed to strangers playing in a golf tournament. People who, if you said that to them, well you know what they would tell you.

These traits, of course, are not exclusive to New York. At some point they’re inside all of us, especially if we’ve had a few beers. Even the quietest people can get a little chatty in those situations.

There’s just no other place where those qualities are celebrated as much as they are in New York. In so many ways, it’s the greatest place in the world. If less of that stuff went on, it would be even better.


When?

2026

After a 14-year gap between this year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock and the previous trip there, when Retief Goosen won in 2004, the tournament will return to Long Island eight years from now.

I can only assume that the USGA’s Mike Davis will still be in charge of setting up the course, and he’ll be back on television telling us that they screwed up again. Seems like a pattern.

For what it’s worth, Tiger Woods will have turned 50 the previous December. I don’t know if he’ll be playing in the event, but I’m guessing he’ll still have 14 majors. Maybe he’ll be in charge of the course setup instead of Davis. I’d bet he’d be good at that.

If you weren’t aware, the USGA has already chosen the U.S. Open sites through 2027. Besides Shinnecock, the next nine years will feature more of the “usuals.” That includes Pebble Beach twice, next year and in 2027, as well as Pinehurst, Oakmont and Winged Foot. Torrey Pines, site of Woods’ last major victory, finally gets the tournament for second time in 2021.

2022 and 2023 are the most interesting choices. The Country Club at Brookline gets the former, its first since Curtis Strange won in 1988, and the Los Angeles Country Club gets the latter. The North Course there will host the L.A. area’s first U.S. Open since the 1940s.

One thing the USGA has gotten right recently is its mixture of publicly accessible and private facilities. Both types of courses can be made challenging (ridiculous?) with enough preparation. With the choices for the next nine years, the USGA is also halfway admitting that its choices of Chambers Bay and Erin Hills were experiments as opposed to a preview of things to come.


Why?

U.S. Open conditions

I could drone on about the USGA mantra of “identifying the best golfers” as opposed to embarrassing them. We could have a great debate as to whether fans would rather see the best golfers in the world make a million birdies or struggle mightily, more like normal people.

The fact is that the winner will have the lowest score, whether that’s 15-under or 5-over.

What bothers me is that the people who run the tournament won’t leave well enough alone.

Shinnecock Hills is widely considered one of the finest golf courses in the world. Besides the course itself, it has the seaside setting, and the weather than can come along with it, that very few courses in the world have.

So why screw around with that? Why does the rough have to be so out of control that it’s impossible to advance the ball to the green? I’m assuming it’s usually high anyway. Why are the “greens” brown three hours before the leaders tee off? Aren’t they difficult enough to begin with?

Why do the courses the USGA chooses for its biggest championship have to play so much different than they do the other 361 days of the year?

They’re not choosing your 6,000-yard muni and trying to find a way to make it more difficult for a scratch player. They are choosing the most challenging golf courses around, ones that already require players to hit shots of tremendous value in order to score well.

I suppose I’m just telling the USGA to continue to pick amazing courses, both public and private, and let them be what they always are. You’ll still be identifying the best player that week.

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June 17
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now this is a u.s. open!


There's no telling how today's final round of the U.S. Open is going to play out.

Had you told me yesterday around 12 noon that two players who made the cut by one shot would be playing in the final group on Sunday with a chance to win, I would have called you "completely crazy".

If you would have said, "Dustin Johnson's going to rank 3rd in greens in regulation on Saturday and shoot 77 to fall into a 4-way tie for the lead at 3-over par", I would have suggested some sort of medication for you.

And had you mentioned the possibility that a 5-time major champion would embarrass himself with one of the most bush-league moves in U.S. history, I would have laughed out loud.

Tony Finau's third round 66 moved into a tie for first place at the U.S. Open at 3-over par through 54 holes.

All of those things happened on Saturday at Shinnecock Hills.

And lo and behold, we have ourselves a golf tournament.

The story, though, centers on the set-up of Shinnecock Hills, as the higher-ups with the United States Golf Association (USGA) spent most of Saturday evening trying to defend themselves from the gobs of critics who think they ruined the national golf championship.

Player after player harped on the tough conditions, including some guys who didn't even play on Saturday. I understand the guys who were out there in the trenches having a gripe or two. But when people like Graeme McDowell (cut) and Graham DeLaet (not good enough to qualify) are barking about it, they deserve to be called out.

I get it. I play golf. I've played in a tournament or two in my modest career that featured some ultra-difficult conditions.

It's an outdoor sport, in case you haven't noticed.

When we arrived at Shinnecock Hills on Friday at 9:30 am, it was rainy, chilly and breezy. It stayed that way until roughly 11:30 or so. By 1 pm, the skies were mostly clear, the rain was gone and the breeze had lightened considerably.

I didn't hear Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas bellyaching about the conditions they faced at 9:00 am, while the likes of Mickelson, McIlroy and Fowler got to tour Shinnecock in considerably nicer weather in the afternoon.

It's a sport that's controlled to some degree by the weather.

Does the USGA push the envelope, course wise? Of course they do. They take a par 72 layout and turn it into a par 70, for starters.

They grow the rough, bake the fairways, trim the greens and stick the pins in some locations that make scoring a par quite an accomplishment.

Brooks Koepka won last year's event at Erin Hills with a score of 16-under par.

"This isn't the U.S. Open, it's the John Deere Classic!" critics bellowed last June when guys were hitting irons into 650 yard par 5's because the place played so short and easy.

Well? What do you want? 16 under par? Or three over par?

And if you say "somewhere in between" that's all well and good. And most people, including the USGA, would agree with you. But it only takes a couple of holes to throw the whole thing upside down. Yesterday, the final six holes on the course were incredibly difficult, especially the putting surfaces at 13, 15 and 18.

In the end, though, despite the whining, the reality of the U.S. Open is this: It's supposed to be hard.

It should be maddening.

It should punish you for mistakes. And, just to see if you're really able to handle adversity, it should also penalize you for a good shot or two.

If you're laughing and giggling as you tour a U.S. Open layout, they've clearly whiffed on the set-up.

You should be angry and agitated and out of sorts when you walk off the 18th hole.

The tournament should reward the guy who survives the best.

Golf on the PGA Tour shouldn't be this way every week. I think we all agree on that. But once a year, it should test you like you've never been tested before.

If you don't like it, don't sign up for the event next year.

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finau and berger surge, d.j. hangs on, phil quits


Three things stood out about Saturday's third round of the U.S. Open.

Tony Finau and Daniel Berger played on a different course than most everyone else near the top of the leaderboard and their reward was a spot in the final group on Sunday. Finau and Berger both shot 4-under 66 on Saturday, moving from 7 over par (and making the cut by one shot) to 3 over par and into a tie for the lead heading into today's concluding round.

They both clearly had a major (no pun intended) advantage playing in the late morning on Saturday. The greens were still receptive, the winds hadn't started blowing yet and, in general, the course was more playable than it was, say, at 3 pm or later.

What's at stake for the two of them today? A major championship and a likely spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Will there be an asterisk next to either name if one of them should win the title today? Not at all. That suggestion was brought up by one of the talking heads after Saturday's late afternoon fiasco with the greens, but you play the course that's in front of you when they call you up to the first tee.

Phil Mickelson's already blemished U.S. Open career took another hit on Saturday at Shinnecock Hills.

There wouldn't be a need for an asterisk. If Berger or Finau wins today, they will have earned it fair and square.

Dustin Johnson's third round 77 was about as unfair as unfair could get. He was flummoxed by the speed of the greens on the front nine, some of them fast, a couple of them slow, and almost all of them unnerving.

He played the outward nine holes in 41 shots. Five years ago, he would have duplicated that feat on the back, posted 82, and slinked off the course without saying a word to anyone.

Not anymore. Johnson has turned into a phenomenal, world class player. He hung in there on the back nine long enough to stay in the tournament, with only a three putt at the 18th hole keeping him from leading the tournament outright after 54 holes.

Afterwards, when pressed by the media to say something inflammatory about the course set-up, he nibbled on the hook but didn't chomp down on it.

"There was some inconsistencies in the green speed, I thought," Johnson said. "But everyone played the same course. If I don't three-putt three times, I'm leading by three shots heading into tomorrow."

True that.

The 2013 edition of Johnson would have cracked under the heat of Saturday's up-and-down round. The 2018 version of Dustin Johnson just keeps moving along, takes what the course gives him, and never looks out of sorts in any way.

Phil Mickelson looked out of sorts on Saturday. There's no denying it.

In a move that will be part of his Wikipedia page forever, Mickelson hit a ball in motion on the 13th green, admitted to doing so in an attempt to use the rules to his advantage, and then told the media they should "toughen up" after the round was over.

Full disclosure: I like Phil Mickelson.

But, just as I suggested that Tiger Woods should have withdrawn back in 2013 after knowingly taking a bad drop at The Masters, Mickelson should have removed himself from the tournament on Saturday evening after realizing the severity of his 13th hole stunt in round three.

Better yet, the USGA should have disqualified Mickelson.

Alas, they didn't.

And the move he made will blemish his U.S. Open efforts forever. It was as if, after six runner-up finishes and another impending defeat in 2018, Mickelson finally cracked.

What other explanation could you give for his actions on Saturday? He quit. Plain and simple.

Mickelson can use the well-thought-out excuse of "I was using the rules to my advantage" all he wants, but the reality is he gave up trying to play championship golf on the 13th hole yesterday.

He quit.

Had Tiger Woods or Sergio Garcia or Jon Rahm done that exact same thing, Twitter would have shut down on Saturday. Woods, Garcia, Rahm...no chance they would have been let off the hook by the fans or media.

Mickelson, of course, is a different story. He's the guy who does card tricks at the family picnic. Everyone thinks he's got a weird, sixth sense. Mickelson even thinks that about himself, I'd say.

But what happened yesterday was awful.

It's always easy to play armchair golfer after the fact, but I don't know why Phil just didn't tell the truth when he faced the media after his third round 81.

"I just lost it," he could have said. And everyone would have understood it. "I want to win this tournament so much. And I was getting frustrated with my game and the condition of the course and I could feel it slipping away. And I just snapped. I can't explain it. I regret doing it, that's for sure."

Had he said that, or something like it, I think we all would have nodded our heads and said, "Yep...everyone has a breaking point."

Instead, Mickelson concocted a story about "knowing the rules" and trying to save himself a shot or two by putting the ball even as it was rolling off the green.

"I didn't want it to roll back down the hill, behind the bunker, and leave myself with what was going to be an almost impossible shot given where that flag was on the green," he said afterwards.

Too bad, Phil. You hit it there, go play it.

That's how golf works. You hit the ball there. You go find it and hit it again.

Instead, Mickelson quit in the middle of the round.

The U.S. Open claimed a bunch of victims this week, but the 5-time major champion is the only one who threw in the towel.

No wonder he's never won the tournament.

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are the orioles lying to duquette?


Let's get the obligatory game report out of the way first.

The Orioles lost to the Marlins on Saturday at Camden Yards, 5-4.

The Birds are now 19-50.

Did Peter Angelos have a conversation with former Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti recently? If so, shouldn't someone have told Dan Duquette?

You don't have to worry about saving up for playoff tickets this year.

Now let's shift to the real story from Saturday. General manager Dan Duquette says he's been told the Orioles have not interviewed former Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti.

Hmmmm...

National baseball writer Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday that the O's had talked with Colletti about coming to Baltimore.

Someone's fibbing.

Either Rosenthal got bad info and went with it, or the Orioles are lying to Duquette.

At this point, with Duquette saying "it's not true" (according to the Orioles), it almost means the O's can't hire Colletti in any event.

If they denied the story to Duquette but, in fact, had talked with Colletti and intended to hire him, how on earth could anyone trust the Orioles front office/ownership anymore?

It's an awful story, no matter what.

Duquette being hung out to dry by the Orioles isn't all that different than the stunt he pulled a few years ago when he tried to join the Blue Jays despite having three years left on his contract in Baltimore.

What goes around, comes around.

Except for winning. Not much of that is coming around these days.

Hughes Mechanical
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June 16
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d.j. and poulter head-to-head would be delightful


If the golf gods are up early and reading #DMD on this beautiful Saturday, I have one small request.

Can you please see to it that Sunday's final round of the U.S. Open pits Dustin Johnson vs. Ian Poulter?

Pretty please...

We would have seen that match-up today at Shinnecock Hills except Poulter vomited all over his slacks in the final two holes on Friday, moving from 3-under par and one shot off the lead to one-over par and scrambling like the others to chase D.J. down over the final 36 holes.

Nothing could be better than seeing a Johnson-Poulter battle on Sunday with everything on the line.

The American, moving around the course like a leopard, content with himself and his game, and the Brit, stalking, seething, angry at the world.

It would be great theater, no matter the result on Sunday night.

Dustin Johnson owns a 4-shot lead at the halfway point of the 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills.

Oh, and if it shakes out that way, we would have two cast-iron Ryder Cup battles already in the books for France. Johnson vs. Poulter and Reed vs. McIlroy. That is, if Rory makes the team.

There's a lot of golf to be played between now and Sunday, though, and as Poulter showed with his 17th hole (on #8) blunder on Thursday, tragedy awaits for everyone at Shinnecock Hills.

Johnson is in cruise control at this point, the only man under par on a beast of a course that yesterday sent home some of the top players in the world, including the aforementioned McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia.

Even Tiger Woods, who used to be great, couldn't handle Shinnecock. Or, should we say, he couldn't handle the first hole. Overall, Woods posted a 10-over par score for two days to miss the cut by two shots. He played the relatively benign first hole in 5-over par. If he goes par-par there, he's at +5 and still alive in tournament. If he goes bogey-bogey, he's still playing this weekend.

Those hovering around Johnson on the leaderboard have all played well up to this point, including American Charley Hoffman, who has sniffed around a major or two in his career but has yet to win one. Scott Piercy, who got in as an alternate when the USGA wasn't able to fill the field with exempt players and qualifiers, will play in the final group with D.J. this afternoon.

And then there's Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson, all three of whom will likely suit up for the European team in the Ryder Cup this fall. Stenson has a British Open title in his career, the others haven't done much of anything -- except make a lot of money.

A win would be a career-capper for Poulter, in the same way it served as icing on the cake for Darren Clarke when he won the British Open at age 43. Fleetwood is a rail-thin powerball who might wind up being England's best player since Nick Faldo. He'll win a major someday, for sure. Maybe even this one on Long Island.

But they're all chasing Dustin Johnson, who a mere five years ago would have been a more likely bet to shoot 80 today than 70. Now, it looks like there's no way he'll falter, except for the fact that it's the U.S. Open and everyone has a bloody moment or two over the course of four days.

That's the only thing concerning if you're a Johnson fan. He's yet to have that diabolical bad break that leads to a triple bogey, like Poulter encountered on the 8th hole on Friday.

If Johnson continues to drive the ball the way he's driven it the first two days, this golf tournament might turn into a run away.

Somehow, though, I don't think that will happen. It's going to be a spirited final 36 holes.

Give us Johnson vs. Poulter, please. Give us the American vs. the Brit. Give us the easy going guy vs. the grinder.

Give us that match-up on Sunday and we'll take whatever result comes without a peep.

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postcard from shinnecock hills


A group of #DMD golf enthusiasts headed up to Shinnecock Hills bright and early on Friday morning to take in the second round of the U.S. Open. Other than a brief period of some seaside mist and wind when we got there, the day turned out to be just fine.

We departed Baltimore at 4 am sharp. Our goal was to be on the property by 10:00 am.

Even with a 20-minute stop for coffee and bathroom break in Hempstead, we did one better than that. We pulled into the Shinnecock Hills parking lot at 9:21 am. Traffic was a breeze.

Our group split up at that point, some opting to walk the course, others looking for a specific player or group to follow.

Even a 2-time Masters champion isn't exempt from the New York hecklers.

I walked the back nine first, stopped for lunch, then walked the front nine, following along with Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Kuchar from holes 1 to 6.

I was stationed at the front tee when the Mickelson-Rory-Spieth group teed off and was there when Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Marc Leishman started their second round.

At some point in the afternoon, I took a break at the 17th hole, a 170 yard par three.

It was there that I got some classic New York sports heckling-entertainment for about 30 minutes.

The group started out as four or five guys, all drinking, all well into their afternoon revelry. By the time I left, the party had swelled to two dozen guys, I'd say, all with that distinct New York accent and each one seemingly louder than the other.

When Andrew "Beef" Johnston approached the 17th tent, one of them bellowed: "Hey Beef, the sit-up tent is located over near the practice green. Stop in there after your round, huh?"

There were hearty laughs from within the group and a few giggles among those of us on the outside-looking-in. Johnston didn't react, but he definitely heard it.

A few minutes later, Jimmy Walker walked past. He was dressed in all black on Friday. "Hey look guys, it's Johnny Cash," someone said. The group quickly broke into an off-key rendition of "Ring of Fire" until a marshal walked over and asked them to quiet down.

Bubba Watson strolled by, his 12-over par score in plain view for those in the stands. "Hey Bubba, you leave your golf game back at the hotel?" one of them yelled.

But the players weren't the only ones who got nicked.

A 20-something guy holding a mixed drink walked past the group. He was -- for some weird reason -- wearing shorts, a button down shirt, and a sport coat.

"What are you wearing guy?" one of them yelled out as he passed through.

"Hey Spalding, how's your Uncle doing? Judge Smails!" another cackled, referencing the two characters from Caddyshack. That got the whole section roaring with laughter.

"Have a good day fellas," he said politely as he made his way past the group.

"You two, ma'am," one of them replied. More laughter from the peanuty gallery.

They were relentless, picking up on something, anything, from at least one player in each group. One guy had a fit, attractive young lady caddying for him. It didn't matter. She became the target.

"No wonder you're 14 over par, bro," one of the yelled. "Ya got those raging hormones going with Miss America on the bag I bet."

No one was spared.

I got up and quietly left before they got bored and started going through the crowd and picking people off one by one.

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yes, the orioles lost again


Only three hits.

A decent starting pitching effort, wasted.

Another loss.

Kevin Gausman worked 5.2 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs on Friday, but fell to 3-6 on the season.

I think I'll just cut and paste those three lines above and use them throughout the remainder of the season, since that seems to be an on-going theme with the Orioles.

The Orioles fell to 19-49 with a 2-0 home loss to the Miami Marlins on Friday night.

They gave away floppy hats to everyone in attendance. They should have given out medals, instead.

The Birds are now 30 games under .500 and it's mid-June.

What else is there to say?

The've played 68 total games thus far in 2018 and have scored ONE run or less in 21 of those games.

They haven't won a home game since May 13.

And somehow, the manager and de facto general manager still have jobs.

We've seen our share of lost seasons with the Orioles over the last two decades, but this one is the grand prize winner.

From an 8-27 start to a record of 19-49. And it's likely only going to get worse, if that's humanly possible.

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Drew is here.

Every weekday.





O's SCOREBOARD
Friday, June 22
Orioles
10

Braves
7
WP: M. Wright (1-0)

LP: P. Moylan (0-1)

HR: Davis (5), Machado (19)

RECORD/PLACE: 22-52, 5th

breakfast bytes

Orioles: Chris Davis homers in first at-bat after missing eight games to "find his swing".

A.L. East: Red Sox rebound from 10-5 deficit to whip Mariners at Fenway, 14-10; Yankees fall in Tampa Bay, 2-1.

World Cup: Nigeria dents Argentina's hopes with 2-0 win over Iceland; Switzerland stuns Serbia with late goal, 2-1; Brazil sends Costa Rica home, 2-0.

PGA Tour: Brian Harman (-10) leads in Connecticut by one shot over Matt Jones, Russell Henley and Zach Johnson.