Sunday
May 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2449


a wild night


Saturday night was crazy.

No, not for me. Unless you consider coffee at 9:30 pm and watching Tom Saguto golf teaching videos on You Tube "wild", that is. Other than that, I wasn't wild in the least.

The sports world was wild, though.

Before we look at the craziness, a quick note of thanks on this 2021 Mother's Day. My mom passed away when I was just 24 -- in 1987 -- but, like all of you, I'm indebted to her for bringing me into this world and showing me the love and care she gave me for my first 24 years. If your mom is still alive, be sure and praise her today!

Now, the craziness.

The Orioles 11-6 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday night wasn't all that crazy and, we promise, we aren't analyzing any of it here. It just wasn't a good night for the O's in virtually every department. Zac Lowther made his first big league start and....well....let's just say he probably had dreams of things turning out differently. Lowther got lit up for 7 earned runs in 2.1 innings of work.

Here's the good news for Lowther: His next start is almost statistically impossible to be worse. It's like the first 20 minutes of the opera. It'll get better...it has to, in fact.

A handful of relief pitchers actually kept the whole thing from getting completely out-of-hand. That's the good news. If not for those five guys doing a semi-decent job on Saturday, Boston might have scored 15 or 20 runs.

The bad news? The O's need a gem today from Dean Kremer. They don't have much gas to use in the bullpen. I'm not suggesting Kremer is "bad news". He's coming off the best start of his career last week in Seattle. I'm saying when you absolutely, 100% need a quality start to save your bullpen, you're entering risky territory.

I know what you're thinking right now. "Drew, you're coming awfully close to analysis..." Sometimes I can't help it.

Boston, meanwhile is cruising at 21-13 and leading the A.L. East. There's still a lot of baseball remaining. Almost 80% of the schedule is still in front of them. So I won't admit to being wrong on them just yet, but if we're playing WRONG instead of HORSE, I have W-R-O so far. They might be legit.

By the way, they had 10,500 in the ballpark last night. Almost a sellout, in fact. Who knows when the silly restricted-attendance-because-of-Covid rules are going to be eased or lifted, but that was a very nice crowd on Saturday night. Too bad they had to witness another shellacking at the hands of the Red Sox.


The Dodgers jumped out to a 13-0 lead on Dylan Bundy and the Angels on Saturday night. Game over, right?

After allowing four earned runs in one inning of work earlier this week in Chicago, Clayton Kershaw rebounded with a solid performance on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Well, yes, it sorta-kinda was. The Dodgers went on to win. But they somehow turned a 13-0 lead in the bottom of the 6th to a 14-11 lead by the bottom of the 7th. News flash: Something's going wrong with the Dodgers. Their chakras are out of whack or they need a group therapy session or something.

Clayton Kershaw cruised through 5 innings of work and allowed just 2 hits while striking out 5. He left the game ahead 13-0.

The Angels scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th to make it 13-4. The Dodgers tacked on a run in the top of the 7th, but the Angels responded with 7 more runs in the bottom of the 7th to make it 14-11.

Los Angeles -- the Dodgers, that is -- ran through 5 relief pitchers to escape with the win, although it's fair to note the Angels went down in order in the 8th and 9th innings.

Oh, and don't look now, but Bundy, the erstwhile Oriole, is off to a terrible start in '21. He's now 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA. Yikes...


Things got really crazy in Atlanta last night, where the Braves and Phillies went to extra innings.

Atlanta rallied not once, not twice, but three times to win that one. No one remembers an early May game by the time late September rolls around and every team wins a few they shouldn't along the way, but if the Phillies somehow miss out on the post-season by one game, remember their May 8th encounter in Atlanta.

The Phillies led 3-1 going into the bottom of the 9th but Atlanta dusted off Pablo Sandoval and he hit a game-tying pinch-hit 2-run homer to send the contest to extra innings.

No worries. After a scoreless 10th, the Phils scored a run in the top of the 11th to lead 4-3.

But the Braves weren't done. They tied things up again in the bottom of the 11th. On they would go...

The game finally got put away in the top of the 12th when the Phillies tacked on 3 more runs to make it 7-4. Now, finally, this wild affair was done.

Except it wasn't.

Atlanta scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 12th to win, 8-7.

Say what you will about the extra-innings rule of putting a guy on 2nd. Personally, I'm all for it but I think they should play at least one inning of "regular baseball" before starting the inning with a man on 2nd base. But if nothing else, it does add for some dramatics. If you play your cards right, you're almost certain to score at least one run in the 10th inning -- although neither team did so in Atlanta on Saturday night.


Other not-so-crazy notes from Saturday in baseball include Kevin Gausman continuing his solid start to '21 with a win over the Padres. Gausman is now 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA after limited San Diego to just 3 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings of work. San Francisco (20-13) continues to be the surprise early leader in the N.L. West.

Max Scherzer struck out 14 Yankees on Saturday night in 7.1 innings of work but it wasn't enough.

The White Sox scored 8 runs in the first inning of a 9-1 win over Kansas City. The Dodgers need to take note: that's how you finish off a game where you enjoyed a big early lead. Chicago is starting to percolate at 18-13 while the Royals (16-16) are slumping badly after a nice start. Saturday's loss was their 7th in a row.

And the Nationals spoiled a great start from Max Scherzer (14 K's 2 hits allowed, 1 ER in 7.1 innings) by losing in New York to the Yankees, 4-3 in 11 innings. The Yankees nicked the D.C. bullpen for a game-tying run in the bottom of the 9th and 10th innings, then won it in the 11th.


The craziness wasn't limited to baseball, though. Saturday night had some crazy stuff in basketball and hockey, too, and both events came from the D.C. teams.

Russell Westbrook had himself a huge night in Indianapolis, as the surging Wizards posted an important win, 133-132 in OT. Washington is now 32-36 on the year and comfortably in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Westbrook finished the game with 33 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists, tying the great Oscar Robertson for career triple-doubles with 181. He even blocked the Pacers' final shot attempt after hitting two foul shots to put the Wizards ahead for good.

Bradley Beal scored 50 points for Washington in the win. He and Westbrook shared the spotlight on a night where the Wizards again sent notice to the rest of the Eastern Conference that you might not want to draw D.C. in the post-season.

And the Caps had quite a crazy night in Chinatown, as they scored a late goal to tie the Flyers and then won it overtime, 2-1.

Playing again without Alex Ovechkin, the Washington offense was pretty lousy throughout the game's first 59 minutes. But a Lars Eller goal with 40 seconds remaining tied the score at 1-1.

Conor Sheary's OT goal pushed the Caps to the win, which guarantees they'll have home ice in the first playoff series.

But the injury bug is concerning to the Capitals as the post-season draws near. Ovechkin (lower body) has played just one shift in the last three weeks. Backstrom and Carlson were both OUT on Saturday night with undisclosed lower body injuries.

T.J. Oshie was injured in the second period and didn't return. Tom Wilson got banged up early in the game and didn't look the same the rest of the way.

Oh, and we forgot to mention -- mostly because he hasn't really done much all season anyway -- that Evgeny Kuznetsov missed yet another game while in Covid-19 protocol. That one's weird...

One thing for certain with the Caps, who have been unpredictable of late: It's going to be a short playoff run in D.C. if they can't get healthy.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Saturday
May 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2448


it's the weekend, not the weeknd


We spell it right around here.

The weekend has arrived. As opposed to The Weeknd who was the (mediocre) halftime show at the Super Bowl in February.

I've still never figured out why he didn't spell weekend the right way, but I guess it doesn't matter now. He's in the 14th of his 15 minutes. We'll probably never know.

So it turns out Matt Harvey isn't a superhero after all. After a couple of really nice starts, Harvey didn't have his best stuff last night at dreary Camden Yards (7,700 were there -- *sigh*) as the Red Sox again kept the Orioles from reaching the .500 mark with a 6-2 win.

Harvey didn't help himself with a fielding error, either. He only lasted four innings and surrendered 4 hits and a walk along the way. He's no John Means.

Ryan Mountcastle homered for the Birds last night in their 6-2 home loss to Boston.

Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays both had 3 hits on Friday night. Hays is now up to .260 on the season. Mountcastle continues to battle back from his awful start. He's now at .221. Both of those young players are showing promise. Mountcastle is ultimately going to be a full-time DH and will be relegated to a career in the American League unless the designated hitter rule someday shifts over to the National League as well.

So the Birds reach the 20% mark of the season at the same spot they were at the 10% mark -- 2 games below .500 at 15-17. That's still not terrible baseball. And as their recent performance on the west coast indicated (4-2 in Oakland and Seattle), the O's aren't a one-trick pony. They can score some runs and, at least when Means is on the mound, they can keep the other team from scoring too. The bullpen has had a flame-out or three so far, but all in all their collective work has been more than acceptable.

I hope this isn't too much analysis for some of you.

The Orioles now embark on another 16-game stretch that will take them to the 30% spot in the schedule by late in the month. I'll keep saying what I wrote here at the beginning of the season until it turns out not to be true: I think this team is better than first imagined back in the winter. There's a far better chance of them winning 75 games than 55 games.

I'm still guessing their win total will be more in the mid 60's range, but don't be shocked if the O's are a 72 or 73 win team in 2021. The only asterisk to those remarks connects with John Means and Trey Mancini. If both of those guys are dealt in June or July, things might change, wins-wise. But the overall summary of this squad is that they're better than we first thought they'd be.

Here are the next 16 games as the chase for .500 continues:

May 8, 9, 10 vs. Boston.

May 11, 12 at NY Mets

May 13, 14, 15 vs. NY Yankees

May 18, 19, 20 vs. Tampa Bay

May 21, 22, 23 at Washington

May 24, 25 at Minnesota


I know this might not sit well here, but let's analyze the standings at the 20% mark of the campaign just for kicks and giggles. Any bubbling surprises? Anyone suffering through an unexpected terrible start? We're here with answers.

American League East -- I'd certainly consider division leading Boston a surprise at 20-13, particularly when you take into account they're 10-9 at Fenway Park and 10-4 everywhere else. The Yankees are a small surprise at 16-16 but they'll be OK by August. They'll trade for someone's #2 starter at the deadline and by playoff time they'll be right where we assumed they'd be.

Lucas Giolito is off to a surprisingly slow start (1-3, 4.99 ERA) but the White Sox are on top of the A.L. Central.

American League Central -- The White Sox (17-13) have assumed their expected position at the top of the division with the Indians (17-14) a definite early-season surprise despite being no-hit for the second time this season last night by Wade Miley of the Reds. Everyone knew the Tigers were going to be bad, but maybe not 9-24 bad. Wow...

American League West -- I have no idea how the Athletics (20-14) are doing it, but they're on top in the division with Seattle (18-15) and Houston (17-15) hot on their heels. The Angels (14-17) are in last place with the second-worst run-differential (-27) in the entire American League. I thought this was the season where Mike Trout and Company finally got back to the playoffs but, so far, it's not looking like that will happen.

National League East -- This one's a little topsy-turvy, as the Phillies (18-15) are holding their own early on while the expected division winner, Atlanta, is off to a slow start at 15-17. The Mets are really good when Jacob deGrom pitches and not so good in the other games. They're hanging around at 14-13, just behind the Phils.

National League Central -- It's no surprise that the Cardinals (19-14) are in first place but it might be a mild shock that the rest of the division is seemingly capable of playing decent baseball a few times a week. Even the 4th place Cubs (16-16) are showing signs of improvement in the early stages of their rebuild. They won 3 straight from the visiting Dodgers early this week.

National League West -- The biggest surprise in baseball comes from this division, where the Dodgers have slumped since losing 3 of 4 at home to the Padres 10 days ago. L.A. now sits in 3rd place at 17-16, with surprising San Francisco leading the West at 19-13. San Diego is right there at 18-15 and you can just sense the Padres are primed for an 18-5 run that vaults them to the top of the division. It might be their year.

We might be over-analyzing here, which is one of our character flaws, but the 2021 MLB season is setting up to be a doozy. The expected front runners, Atlanta, Los Angeles and the Yankees are all playing "eh" baseball through the season's first 30-some games and several teams we otherwise assumed weren't ready for prime time -- Boston, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco -- are hanging around and showing some early signs that they might be for real.

Because baseball is baseball and you can go 5-14 over a 3-week period and throw your season down the drain, the bet here is at least one of those four surprising teams we listed above will be closer to last place than first place when we reconvene to do this again later this month.

Boston might hang around. So, too, might Oakland. But the Phillies and Giants aren't for real. At least that's what I'm thinking.

An early look...

A.L. MVP -- Everyone just assumes Mike Trout will win -- again -- because he's Mike Trout, but the MVP of the league thus far is definitely Boston's J.D. Martinez. The 33-year old is hitting .342 with 10 HR's and league-high 31 RBI. I realize about 80% of those number seemingly came against the Orioles, but the dude can flat-out hit, no matter where the games are played.

A.L. Cy Young -- Carlos Rodon of the White Sox (5-0, 0.58) is the front runner at this point but John Means of the O's is right there, along with Cleveland's Shane Bieber and Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez, who improved to 5-0 with last night's win in Baltimore. Bieber will always have the edge with voters because of his history over the last 5 years, but Means is a viable candidate at the 20% mark with a 4-0 record and 0.51 ERA.

The Mets Jacob deGrom has allowed only 2 earned runs thus far in 2021.

N.L. MVP -- This one's definitely up for grabs but everyone's favorite, Ronald Acuna Jr., is starting to slowly grind his way to the top. He's now hitting .321 with 10 HR and 22 RBI. Fernando Tatis Jr. and/or Manny Machado will edge their way into the discussion by season's end. So, too, will Mookie Betts. But right now, it's Acuna's award to lose.

N.L. Cy Young -- But wait just a tick. Maybe the N.L. MVP award won't go to one of those four guys mentioned above. What it the Mets win the N.L. East or make the playoffs and Jacob deGrom continues to pitch the way he's pitched thus far in 2021? Could we have our first Cy Young/MVP combo since Kershaw did it in 2014? The Cy Young seems all but locked up for deGrom if he continues to do what he's done thus far in '21. Jack Flaherty is off to a good start in St. Louis at 6-0, but his ERA (2.83) pales in comparison to what deGrom has done thus far. He's only 2-2 because the Mets can't hit, but his ERA (0.51) and WHIP (0.57) are out of this world. He's allowed 2 earned runs in 35 innings pitched. He's struck out 59 and walked 4. The Cy Young race in the N.L. is over. Engrave his name in the trophy.

We're done analyzing now. I promise, we won't do it tomorrow.

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Friday
May 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2447


"i played most of 'em, just not very well"


I saw something on Twitter the other day that interested me. You might connect with it as well. If you do, great. Feel free to chime in. If you don't, we'll see you on Saturday.

"How many sports have you played competitively in your lifetime?"

The story describes "competitively" as "organized, in a league or program where standings and statistics are maintained."

The national average for an adult male over the age of 35 is 4.6 sports in his lifetime.

It got me to wondering...

1. Baseball -- I played Little League from 1st grade through 10th grade. I loved Little League. Here's how much of a nerd I was for Little League baseball. My team names with the school year I was entering: Cardinals (2), Giants (3), Astros (4), Orioles (5), Yankees (6), Dodgers (7), Red Sox (8), Dodgers (9), Athletics (10). No, I didn't have to go back and look at my keepsakes. I remember them in order. I was a Little League nerd.

I wasn't a great baseball player. I could field decently but my hitting was always off and on. I remember teaching myself to switch hit when I was 10 or 11 years old and striking out (left handed) the first time I went to the other side of the plate. On the ride home, my Dad said, "You didn't ask me, but I think you should learn to bunt left-handed and just keep 'em honest that way." My Dad always had a thought about how to gain an edge in baseball.

Alas, my baseball career ended in high school when an early March ice hockey tournament I was playing in conflicted with a Saturday tryout for the Glen Burnie High School team. When I informed the coach I couldn't make the tryout because of a hockey tournament, he quickly shot back: "You have to pick one of the two and go with it. We don't take part-timers here." So I went home and told my mom and dad I wasn't playing baseball any longer. And I never played another game of organized baseball again...ever.

2. Football -- I played 4 years for the Pasadena Chargers. I was the quarterback for 2 years and a defensive back the other 2 years. I wasn't particularly good at either of them, although people always used to tell me I was a good quarterback because I "saw the field well". I remember distinctly thinking that I stunk as a quarterback. Football never appealed to me as a participant. I love watching it, but playing football just never won me over.

3. Basketball -- Talking about stinking it up. I was never any good at basketball. I liked playing it, but I wasn't very good at it. I played for 3 years in a rec league at Marley Junior High School. I would have been better off raking leaves in those winter months. I had nothing to offer. I remember one game -- my team was the "Hawks" -- I somehow scored 12 points. I think the final score was in the 40's. I scored 12 points and thought I was on my way to a scholarship at Duke. I might have scored a total of 12 points in the next 3 games after that. Basketball just wasn't my thing.

4. Soccer -- Truth be told, despite spending 17 years working in the soccer business, I was never all that interested in soccer growing up. It wasn't until I got to Glen Burnie High School that I almost took it seriously. And the only reason I played at all was because all of my close friends were on the team and it was a way to hang out with them for three hours a day in September and October. I played goalkeeper because I had no other skill set for soccer. I always thought being the goalie was easy. You stand there and try and read the play ahead of time and when a guy shoots the ball at you, you try and stop it. It doesn't have to be pretty or look good. Just don't let it get past you. I never really cared all that much for soccer. It was just a thing to do.

5. Bowling -- I bowled duckpins for three years in 5th, 6th and 7th grades. My high score was 144, which for a 12 year old kid was probably pretty good. I could break 100 regularly, which always seemed like a good benchmark to strive for in duckpins. One thing I remember about duckpin bowling that I think helped me later on in golf: I never got mad when the pins didn't drop. I just went back, cleaned the lane, grabbed another ball, and tried to knock down whatever pins were left standing. If they fell, great. If they didn't, I'd try again. I thoroughly enjoyed duckpin bowling. I wish I would have done more of it later in life, honestly.

6. Ice Hockey -- By far, my favorite sport growing up. I played 6 years for the Benfield Flames and 2 years for the Washington Stars, a travel team of sorts. I played center and wing in hockey and was equally adept at both. I loved taking face-offs. It was really gratifying to "win the puck" from the guy you were going up against head-to-head. I loved everything about ice hockey. The smell of the ice. Taping your stick. The equipment. Everything...

7. Golf -- I touched my first golf club at age 19. For 4-5 years, I just beat it around with my friends at Carroll Park. No one knew anything about the sport. We just tried to finish the round with the same number of golf balls in our bag as what we started with. I began taking golf more seriously in 1985 when Kenny Cooper told me it would be good for my position as Blast PR Director if I learned how to play golf (better). I entered my first golf tournament in 1993 at Mount Pleasant. I won my first tournament in 1995 when I somehow shot 76-73 to win the Mount Pleasant club championship. I had no idea what I was doing back then. I guess most of the other guys I was up against just knew less. I've now played in roughly 500 tournaments in my life. Time flies...

There's no sport I would play currently other than golf -- because of golf. I look at anything as a potential disruption to golf.

"Hey Drew, wanna go ice skating?" -- "No thanks, I might fall and hurt my wrist or shoulder. Can't play golf."

"Hey Drew, wanna play pick-up basketball?" -- "With you maniacs who treat every pick-up game like the NCAA Final Four? No chance. I'm not getting a ball off the thumb and missing 6 weeks of golf."

"Hey Drew, interested in joining our adult indoor soccer league?" -- "Torn ACL's and golf don't mix. No thanks, I'll pass."

I play golf now. That's all I do. Anything that gets in the way of that -- potentially -- is a "no go" for me. I also watch my son play golf. He's at the age now where he's starting to take the sport more seriously without any pushing or prodding from me, which is what I always wanted.

I've never pushed him to play golf. When we're out there, I push him to get better for sure. But I've never been Judge Smails from Caddyshack who famously told his grandson, Spaulding, "You're going to play golf today and you're going to like it." So, if I'm not playing golf, I'm coaching it or watching it.

All of the other sports I played competitively were a joy, mostly. Golf is the one sport I played with a passion. I don't owe my life to golf. Well, on second thought, maybe I do. I'll explain that some other time, I guess.

Notes --

I'm not going to include "Darts", but I was in a Darts league in Point Pleasant (Glen Burnie) for two straight summers. Throwing a dart is a lot like hitting a golf ball. They're both aim sports, just like pool or billiards. I was pretty good at Darts, honestly. I joined the league because a cute girl in Glen Burnie lived down the street from the bar where we played and I figured I could "accidentally" bump into her on occasion. Crafty as that was, it didn't work. I did wind up going to see Jackson Browne with her a couple of years later, but my darts game was better than my dating game with her.

Anyway, that's 7 sports I played competitively in my life, so I'm a smidgen ahead of the 4.6 average I cited from the Twitter story I read.

I never played lacrosse.

I didn't swim competitively.

I wasn't big on tennis, although I used to lose to Paul Kitson of the Blast a few times a summer when he played in Baltimore. But I never played any "formal" tennis in a league or anything.

I didn't box or wrestle.

Never really understood rugby so didn't play it. No volleyball, either.

And I most certainly never ran track and field.

For a couple of years after high school, I was a competitive "Quarters" player on Friday and Saturday night at Ruth Woody's house. Oh, trying to bounce a quarter into an empty plastic cup isn't a sport? Who knew? We sure treated it like one.

The older I get, the more I remember moments in time. Most of my sporting accomplishments have long since faded from my memory, but I do have one I will never forget. In Pony league baseball in Glen Burnie, in the summer of 1979, I played for the Dodgers. We had a pitcher on our team named Rob Marvel. He would turn out to be a very good soccer player in high school. Anyway, I played left field for the Dodgers. I don't remember who we were playing, but on that day Marvel carried a perfect game into the 7th inning.

He got the first two batters out and was now one out away from a pretty cool Little League moment. The batter drilled a shot over the shortstop's head. It was one of those out-of-body experiences in a way. I remember seeing the ball off the bat and it was smashed into the outfield. I took off running and dove like Roberto Clemente Jr. I caught the ball two inches off the ground and saved Rob Marvel's perfect game.

Every once in a while on Facebook, I'll chime in with him and remind him of my catch. We share a laugh about it. I thought of that moment on Wednesday when I was watching John Means throw his no-hitter. "Who will catch the final out?" I wondered. It's a pretty cool moment in time when it happens to you. Mine just happened to be a diving catch. I remember it like it was yesterday.

How about you? How did you fare against the national average of 4.6 sports-played-per-lifetime? Any special memories from your "organized sports" career?

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faith in sports


It seems fitting that we share this amazing interview with the great Albert Pujols today, as he was released yesterday by the Angels. Pujols is a future Hall of Famer, of course, but his faith and Christian way of life are the real staples of his life, as you'll see in today's video.

If you don't know the Albert Pujols story, please grab a cup of coffee today and check out his story. It's very inspiring.

As always, we thank our friends at Freestate Electric for their continued support of #DMD and our Friday "Faith in Sports" segment.


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Thursday
May 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2446


zero hits means no hitter


By the time John Means reached the 6th inning of yesterday's game in Seattle, I was already working on #DMD headlines. You could just sense he was on to something special.

Because people are insane and believe that someone in Baltimore typing commentary about an athletic performance in Seattle can somehow influence said performance, folks lost their mind at the mere thought of mentioning that Means was throwing a no-hitter.

As anyone who drives on 695 can attest, human beings are capable of doing a lot of dumb things. Perhaps the dumbest thing of all time is saying "don't jinx it" when you mention someone has a no-hitter in the 7th inning. As if you mentioning it will somehow alter the reality in any way. Clown shoes.

Anyway, I started working on the headlines as Means buzzed through the order in the 7th inning.

No Means No -- I personally loved this one. It was the first one I crafted so I had a natural fondness for it. It came in 2nd place.

John Means no-hit the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon. It was the first O's solo no hitter since Jim Palmer did it in 1969.

Hitless in Seattle -- This was just too easy. I'm sure someone, somewhere used it this morning. It's simple and easy. But it quickly met the cutting room floor when I came up with the one you see at the top of today's edition of #DMD.

Indeed, John Means threw a no-hitter yesterday, despite people all over the country using Twitter to "announce it" as the game went on. Mark Viviano mentioned it in the 7th inning. Rich Dubroff did as well. Even my old buddy Luke Jones tried his best to ruin it by sending out a Twitter message after the 8th inning: 3 outs to go

Alas, no one was able to interfere with Means and his date with history. It was as close to a perfect game as you could get without throwing a perfect game. I didn't see the whole game, only the last 5 innings, but I can only remember two hard-hit balls and one was the final out, which wasn't really all that sharply hit anyway.

I wrote this recently and it bears repeating. I realize Mike Elias is trying to rebuild the Orioles into a perennial-contender type of club and I've said from jump street I like his approach and style, even if the winning might take longer than we all anticipated. But I don't subscribe to the theory of just putting every good player out on the lawn and asking for the best offer.

I said it before yesterday's no-hitter. I don't think Elias should trade Means. In the same way the Mets haven't looked to trade Jacob deGrom, who has become the best pitcher in baseball, and the Indians haven't looked to trade Shane Bieber, I think the Orioles should hold on to John Means. Enough said on that subject. He's off the table. Or he would be, at least, if I ran the team.

Then again, if I ran the team, coffee and hot chocolate would be free at all April home games. In other words, my opinion doesn't mean much at Camden Yards.

Speaking of Seattle...

Have you been there?

Seattle is indeed an interesting place. I haven't been since the 1990's. When I was with the Blast, we would routinely go out to the Pacific Northwest twice a season to play the Tacoma Stars. Two things you can count on in Seattle when you land at Sea-Tac International Airport: 1) It will be cloudy, and, 2) It will get more cloudy within the next 24 hours.

I probably visited Seattle/Tacoma a total of 16 times in my soccer career and I never remember a clear, sunny day, one of those "Chamber of Commerce" afternoons with sunny skies and a gentle breeze. It's also fair to remember that most of our trips out there took place in November and January, when the circus and ice show were occupying the Baltimore Arena and the Blast took off on a 6-city, 18-day road trip.

It was also cloudy and dreary in Seattle. Dreary like the Mariners offense in 2021, you might say.

But there are some cool things about Seattle. Some VERY cool things, in fact.

Their new hockey team, the Kraken, will begin play in the NHL next season. I showed off their new logo last year here at #DMD. It's awesome!

What's not going to be awesome is seeing T.J. Oshie -- who scored three goals for the Caps in last night's win at The Garden -- get selected by the Kraken in this summer's expansion draft. It's not a done deal just yet, but it's looking more and more like the Caps are going to have to leave Oshie unprotected and his selection by the Kraken would give them a marketable commodity right out of the gate.

Seattle is a lot like Baltimore. Until the Kraken starts playing next winter, Seattle, like Baltimore, only has a baseball and football team. The NBA is no longer there. They do boast former Masters champion Fred Couples as a native son, so that's pretty cool.

And they also have a very successful MLS franchise in Seattle. The Sounders have long been a powerhouse soccer organization. Baltimore, of course, doesn't have a MLS team. We wouldn't support one anyway.

Alas, the Kraken's arrival will no doubt pave the way for the NBA to return to Seattle someday down the road. If ice hockey is successful in Seattle, basketball will soon follow.


Coffee is a big deal in Seattle these days. I wasn't the avid coffee drinker back in the 1990's that I am today, but if I went out to Seattle now, I'm sure I'd dive in.

If you're a coffee drinker in Baltimore and you haven't tried the new coffee machines at Royal Farms, you have no idea what you're missing. The coffee they now sell is simply fantastic.

You can go buy that fancy-schmancy cup of coffee at those familiar places around town if you want, but all you're doing is coming in 2nd place. By a mile. And I know coffee.

The Royal Farms coffee you get from the new machines is Tiger Woods and the rest of the places around town are Phil Mickelson. That's the difference in quality. Mickelson had a really good career. Tiger won almost 40 more tournaments and 10 more majors. Royal Farms coffee is Tiger Woods.


Seattle is best known for music these days. So many great bands hailed from Seattle...including Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters and, for you old guys like me who might remember them, Heart.

Think about that for a second and just pretend, for a minute, that instead of Seattle, it was Baltimore that produced those musical artists.

They all came from the same general area: Seattle.

Pearl Jam is arguably a top 10 most influential band of all-time. The Foo Fighters are incredibly talented. I left out Nirvana, almost intentionally, but they, too, were trend setting.

But Pearl Jam is the best of them all. Eddie Vedder can be a little off-putting with his in-concert political whinings, but he's an extraordinary song writer and an excellent vocalist. Pearl Jam is still putting out great music today. They have, as the saying goes, stood the test of time.

If we started ranking great male rock-n-roll singing voices, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden -- who passed away a few years ago -- would have to be in your top 10 all-time. Maybe even top-5.

The music that Seattle has produced in the last 30 years is incredibly impressive.

One of my favorite obscure artists from Seattle was a band called "Brad". Here's how their Wiki page introduces them: Brad is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1992. Their sound was influenced by the wide variety of influences brought by its members, including Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Regan Hagar (Satchel and formerly a member of Malfunkshun), Shawn Smith (also a member of Pigeonhed and Satchel), and Jeremy Toback.

Sadly, Smith, who was the lead singer and the guy who stirred the drink, passed away in 2019. The band won't be the same without him, despite the presence of talented people like Gossard, who has been instrumental in Pearl Jam's success over the years.

Man, every time I hear Shawn Smith sing the song below, it gives me chills. This is called "The Day Brings". The studio version from Brad is more upbeat with drums, guitars, etc., but Smith's work on the piano and his extraordinary voice in the clip below are heartwarming.


Hold up your end

And I'll hold up mine

Dancin' all the time

Dancin' all the time

And too late father

You know that that's for sure

You never find a way

Never find a way

So gather around

And see what the day brings

And see what makes you laugh

And see what makes you sing

And never, nevermind

The thing that people say

You'll never go away

You'll never go away

Who knows where the storm will take us

Who knows when the pain will break us

When will all the g's be given

Another chance to live in freedom

Hey now

Get your heart, get your heart

Off of the shelf

Make the grey sky blue

Yeah, I'm talkin to you

And nevermind

The sick and the afraid

Askin' out today to see a brighter day

So gather around

And see what the day brings

And see what makes you laugh

And see what makes you sing

And never, nevermind

The things that people say

You'll never go away

You'll never go away

Who knows where the storm will take us

Who knows when the pain will break us

When will all the g's be given

Another chance to live in freedom

So gather around

And see what the day brings

And see what makes you laugh

And see what makes you sing

And never, nevermind

The thing that people say

You'll never go away

You'll never go away

So gather around

And see what the day brings

See what makes you laugh

And what makes you sing


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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.


mr. rodgers’ not-so-friendly neighborhood


What follows is a list of educated opinions about Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers and Jeopardy-host hopeful.

* He’s in the pantheon within the all-time quarterback room.

* He’s known to hold a few grudges, dating back to his high school days when he wasn’t recruited by the big-time Division I schools and instead went to junior college.

* He likes to date beautiful, famous women, including the Hollywood actress to whom he is now engaged.

* He wasn’t too happy when the Packers drafted Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

* He made sure his people got the word out about his…um…current unhappiness.

*He seems kind of difficult, but he’s not the first star player in NFL history like that.

So, what does it all mean? Well, it depends on who you are, and how you happen to be interacting with the 37-year-old Rodgers, last season’s NFL Most Valuable Player.

Love probably laughs every time he hears the story about how Brett Favre felt when the Packers picked Rodgers late in the first round, back in 2005. History repeating. The average NFL pundit tends to be on Rodgers’ side of this current debate, because they think he’s a special player who deserves to be treated differently. Maybe some people just like the drama of the whole thing, now that the draft is over.

And then there is the team itself. The Packers, I mean, not any of the teams that are interested in trading for the disgruntled Rodgers. The Green Bay Packers—Lombardi, Frozen Tundra—the whole thing.

They don’t care about any of those things on the list except the first one. He’s the MVP of the league and he’s under contract to play on their team. That’s it. They don’t have anything else to say. And I have to be honest. I admire the organization a lot for that.

If Jerry Jones owned the Packers, he’d be out talking about this and trying to get the ghosts of Lance Alworth, Jerry Rice and Calvin Johnson to sign with the team. If Steve Bisciotti owned the Packers, he’d call Rodgers in for some friendly small-group meetings on his yacht. But nobody owns the Packers, and they don’t roll like that.

There’s a group of experts who think that the team’s general manager, Brian Gutekunst, could be in trouble because of this situation. I don’t believe that. I think team president Mark Murphy will choose Gutekunst, and not only because Rodgers has apparently been ridiculing him and the front office behind their backs.

There is no player bigger than the Packers. The team’s last two starting quarterbacks are both in the aforementioned pantheon, and both of them (it looks like) are going to end their long careers not really liking the organization that much.

Every moment that goes by in this saga makes Rodgers look worse. Every piece of information that comes out makes him look more like a jerk. If this was about money, you could almost understand it, no matter how greedy you think pro athletes are. He has no more guaranteed money left in his contract, but apparently he doesn’t even care about that. It’s about something else, and that something kind of seems childish and petty.

The latest news is that Rodgers was upset by the release of a guy named Jake Kumerow, who had a grand total of 12 receptions for the Packers in 2019. He was let go by the Packers only days after Rodgers had publicly praised him in a national radio interview. This Kumerow guy caught on with Buffalo in 2020, but ended up mostly on the practice squad and eventually was waived. If you’re thinking you missed him during that Ravens’ January debacle in Buffalo, you didn’t.

What it really means is that Rodgers wants more input into the team’s personnel decisions. He wants to say something about a guy like Kumerow on the radio and have it be powerful enough for the front office to keep the guy around. Like other quarterbacks in history, he wants to know if his team is going to trade up a few spots to pick a quarterback.

A couple years ago, Rodgers was vocal about his disdain for the joint practices the Packers held with the Texans in training camp. His new coach, Matt LaFleur, basically told his quarterback to shove it, and that he loved the open practices, and that he’d like to do it more than once in the summer.

Rodgers is not going to get any of that control. Or, to say it better, he’s not going to get any more control than he already has as a star quarterback, which I’m sure is considerably more than most players in the NFL. Not with the Packers, and I don’t think with any other team either. But I guess he really wants to find out somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Favre suggests that there’s almost no chance that Rodgers is the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1 in September. I’ve heard Green Bay beat reporters say that they think the percentage chance of him being under center for the Packers then is maybe five percent. It’s been rumored that Rodgers would rather retire than play for the only team he’s ever played for.

I think it’s a ridiculous sword to fall on. His team has a chance to be really good this year, and I think he knows that. The front office keeps saying that they want Rodgers to be their quarterback for the foreseeable future, and why wouldn’t they? The fact that the team drafted Love doesn’t necessarily mean the Packers are looking for a way out with Rodgers. I’d bet on him having at least three more good years, which is an eternity in the NFL.

Here’s a brilliant idea, one that we saw here in Baltimore, and one that Rodgers experienced himself 16 years ago. It’s part of the job of the general manager to try to sustain success into the future, and sometimes drafting a potential star quarterback is a smart move. Rodgers sat on the bench for three years in Green Bay, and I’m sure he’s still annoyed about that. But you can’t say that the Packers didn’t do the right thing for their franchise by playing it the way they did.

If the Packers actually acquiesced in some way to Rodgers by trading Love, like the Patriots did by trading Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, it’s possible that would make Rodgers more likely to come back to Green Bay. I don’t believe the Packers would do that, though. Love was a third-stringer last year, and what they’d get in return wouldn’t be analogous to the first-round pick they spent on him.

Sure, Rodgers holds some cards here. He was awesome last year, and that must be empowering him somewhat. He doesn’t have to play football anymore—there is nothing left for him to prove on his way to the Hall of Fame. The Packers have no idea about Love, and who knows when they’ll find out?

And there’s no doubt that Rodgers has been influenced by Tom Brady, who made the move to Tampa and won a Super Bowl. In lots of ways, Rodgers is no different than Brady. He’s played for a team for a long time with great success, and it seems ridiculous to think of that team without him, but he wants to do something new.

Still, the odds are not in his favor. The Packers aren’t going to trade him, not this year anyway. If he stays away from minicamp and training camp, his reputation will be sullied a bit. If he doesn’t play for the Packers this year, he’s missing a real chance at a Super Bowl.

My educated opinion? He’d be silly not to play for the Packers, even after all this has come out. When he throws for four touchdowns on Opening Day, it will all be forgotten.

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Discover the Difference
Wednesday
May 5
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#2445


we get so close...


I won't analyze last night's 5-2 O's loss too much here today, but it sure would be nice to claw back to that .500 mark sometime this month.

I know, I know. "The team's record doesn't matter this season." Well, it might not matter, but that doesn't make it any less interesting to me. With last night's 5-2 defeat to the Mariners, the Birds fell to 14-16 on the year. Close to .500, still, but not quite there.

I'm one of those guys who thinks it's better to win 82 than 72 and better to win 72 than 62. Winning breeds winning. Losing, as we've seen in Baltimore since 2017, breeds losing. So I'd much rather see the O's win 67 games this season than 57 games. I totally understand I'm an outlier in that argument. Baltimore has become so numb to losing baseball that most folks no longer care.

Trey Mancini had a nice night at the plate on Tuesday in the Birds' 5-2 loss to Seattle.

I'm one of the 134 people in town who stayed up on Tuesday evening to watch the loss in Seattle. I don't know why I did either. I assume that was your question. "Why did you do that?"

It was a good night for Trey Mancini. I guess we're allowed to analyze him since it was "good stuff", right? Mancini went 3-for-5 and popped his average up to .250. His on-base percentage (.302) still isn't very good but that's mainly because he's only walked 8 times so far in 2021.

Other than Mancini's 3-hit night on Tuesday, no one else on the team recorded more than one. Even the erstwhile red-hot Cedric Mullins (0-4) went hitless in Seattle. It wasn't a good night for the Baltimore bats.

Because the Birds don't have enough quality starting pitching, they trot Jorge Lopez out there occasionally to lead them off on the mound. He has been impressive on occasion in 2021, including last night's effort, where he gave Brandon Hyde 4.2 innings and allowed just 3 hits and 1 earned run. Lopez was long gone before the O's bullpen allowed 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning.

At the 16-game mark (O's were 7-9), I opined that their upcoming schedule afforded them the opportunity to perhaps reach the .500 mark by the time they reached their 32nd game, which is basically at the 20% spot of the regular season. The O's need a win today in Seattle in the series finale and then a home triumph over Boston on Friday in order to make that a reality.

The Red Sox come to town for four games starting Friday night. A decade ago, an early-May four-game home weekend series with Boston would have drawn in excess of 130,000 spectators. It would have been a huge weekend for the O's bank account.

Alas, Boston fans don't travel like they used to and O's fans don't attend games like they used to, either. In 2021, neither of those matter due to Covid-19 seating restrictions, but it would have been interesting nonetheless to see what kind of crowds these Baby Birds would have attracted against one of the premier franchises in all of baseball.

I'm assuming analyzing attendance here is also a no-no. "When they win, people will come back," is the on-going mantra. That's probably right. Let's hope that's in 2022 and not 2023 or 2024.


There has been a lot of chatter around town over the last few days about the comments Eric DeCosta made a few weeks ago concerning the Ravens group of wide receivers and the fan's perspective on their quality.

"It's insulting to these guys when they hear we don't have any receivers," DeCosta said at the team's annual pre-draft media luncheon. "It's quite insulting. I'm insulted by it too, to be honest."

The Ravens added wide receiver Rashod Bateman with their first pick in last Thursday's draft.

Now we can be honest as well. Those words were about the harshest thing I've ever heard DeCosta say publicly. It was intended to be direct communication to the fan base and it worked. Social media exploded with commentary about DeCosta's "dig" at the fans who think the Ravens' wide receivers are, as a group, mediocre (or worse).

Here's the reality. For starters, nothing said at the annual luncheon is to be taken for gospel. A long time ago, when Art Modell was the team's owner, he coined the event the "Liar's Luncheon" because he once famously quipped that no one in the room associated with the Ravens will say "a speck of the truth" about the draft. That remains true to this day, even.

More reality: The Ravens are under zero obligation to give away anything about their draft intentions. They owe the fan base nothing when it comes to discussing the draft before it takes place. What DeCosta (and every other GM in the league as well) does do, though, is try and throw other teams around the league off of the Ravens' scent when it comes to who they like and don't like.

There have been occasions when the Ravens flew a player to Baltimore for an in-depth interview that they had no interest at all in drafting. What they wanted, though, was to give off the appearance that they were interested in him. Other times, they fell in love with a player but didn't bring him to town or show any interest in him in an effort to hide their fondness for him.

A lot of what is said and done in the days leading up to the draft is simply a smokescreen.

I'm sure DeCosta is insulted when he hears people question the Ravens roster in any way. He picked the players, after all. If you think the Ravens wide receivers aren't any good, you're essentially blaming Eric DeCosta for that issue within the team.

Whether the wide receivers are insulted is another story. I have no way of knowing that. As long as their paychecks clear, I'm guessing they don't care all that much what's said about them on social media or on the radio.

DeCosta, though, is the guy responsible for crafting the roster. It's his baby, so to speak. And whether he was creating a diversion or seriously "insulted" a few weeks ago, the reality is he takes great pride in his job. Based on the Ravens record during his GM tenure, I'd say we're fortunate to have him in Baltimore.


Every year on May 4, I spend time listening to as many Beastie Boys albums (CD's now) as I can in honor of the great Adam Yauch, who passed away from cancer at age 47 on May 4, 2012.

I try and make it a point here every year around the anniversary of his death to keep the flame alive for the Beastie Boys, who were true pioneers in the music world. They were cool white hip-hop guys long before it became cool to be white hip-hop guys. Yauch was the straw that stirred the drink for the group, no doubt.

In the same way that Pink Floyd is an acquired musical taste and Keith Urban is an acquired musical taste and Metallica is an acquired musical taste, the Beastie Boys were, without question, an acquired musical taste. Most people either loved 'em or hated 'em.

What was never up for debate, though, was the impact that Yauch and his two bandmates -- Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz -- had on the music industry and the growth of hip hop, particularly with talented young white rappers. They were not only a hit in suburban America, but the Beastie Boys were a favorite on the late night TV circuit. David Letterman once said if he put together a "favorite guest list" they'd be in his top 5.

In the days after Yauch's passing, Eminem had this to say: "Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world and I think it's obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others."

Hello Nasty remains one of my favorite albums of all time, by any group or artist of any genre. It's hard to label one Beasties album better than the other, but that one stands out as my top choice. Paul's Boutique was also great, as was License to Ill, which carried their biggest hit ever, "Fight For Your Right". People forget that song was the fourth single off the album. The third time wasn't the charm for the Beasties, but the fourth time sure was. That song remains an anthem to this day for young college kids trying to find their way.

Yauch was also an activist for women's rights and was in favor of better treatment for Muslim and Arab countries by the United States government. He used his platform at music awards ceremonies to remind American people of their responsibility to treat all humans with equal degrees of compassion and kindness, regardless of their race, nationality or sexuality.

The word "icon" is thrown around a lot but it truly fit the great Adam Yauch. Nine years later, he's still remembered as a pioneer and a musician worth emulating.

One of my all-time favorite Beastie Boys songs is called "Ch-Check it Out" from the album, "To the 5 Boroughs". The video below is from the David Letterman Show.

FYI, Yauch is the first person out of the tunnel in the video who starts the song for 30 seconds or so.


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SUCH
a sports fan

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


The first real thunderstorms of the spring rolled through on Monday night, bringing heavy rains and high winds. The rain came down so hard for a while that the gutters overflowed, unable to keep pace with the deluge. There was even a brief tornado warning for northern Baltimore County.

Early Tuesday morning, the sun rose through the mist and the trees, and as it rose, blue skies were visible. I clambered out of bed, went through my morning routine, then put on my new running shorts and shoes and headed to the NCR Trail. Wisps of humid white air rose from the ground and met the cool morning breeze in the shade.

The Northern Central Railway was built in 1832, and ran from Baltimore to Sunbury, Pennsylvania. It had 46 stops, with 22 of those in Maryland. It served the burgeoning steel industry in Harrisburg, and brought items north from the Port of Baltimore. It was a vital transportation line for the Union during the Civil War, and President Abraham Lincoln travelled on it en route from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg to deliver his famous address.

By 1972, when Hurricane Agnes roared into central Maryland, the railroad was in deep financial trouble. Agnes destroyed many bridges and culverts along the line, and the NCR was officially finished as a working railway.

After several years of legal arguments, in 1984, the NCR was reopened as a hiking, biking and horse riding trail. It currently winds north from Ashland Road, in Cockeysville, to the Pennsylvania line, basically running parallel to York Road. From the Pennsylvania border, the trail runs another 20 miles north to the city of York. In Pennsylvania, it’s called the Heritage Rail Trail.

The NCR Trail in Northern Baltimore County.

The best feature of the trail is that it’s flat. It’s also thickly wooded, with steep hillsides formed by the granite that runs along this section of the Mid-Atlantic. There is a very subtle grade as you head north, but you never notice it. It’s a perfect path for nice family walks, taking a bike ride, or, in my case, starting to run again.

Several months ago, I wrote about buying a Fitbit and getting back to a gym for regular workouts. I adhered to a weekly regimen for a few months, and I could see and feel the difference in my life. I had more energy, I was losing weight, and I was toning muscles that I had neglected for years.

But then life got in the way. I bought a house and moved, I took a new position with a different company that involved a lengthy commute, and I struggled to manage my days and to dedicate the time to working out that I had before. Quite simply, I found excuses and clung to them. I’ve always been good at that.

Everything changed abruptly last Friday morning, however. Without going into any details here, let’s just say that my new commute is no longer required. Instead of dwelling upon it or getting angry, I decided to get into action.

As I get older, I realize that there’s not much time for wallowing in self-pity and doubt. I determined several years ago that I have to always be adaptable and willing to grow. Part of growing is accepting change, and change is the one constant in our lives. Trying to resist that fact caused all sorts of problems for me.

So, on Friday afternoon, I scheduled workouts at the gym for Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I decided that I would use my newfound free time in the morning to bettering myself physically. I took the gift card that my mother gave me for Christmas and went to the local running store and bought a new pair of shoes perfectly fitted for me. I also purchased two pairs of running shorts and some new socks.

Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are my days to run the NCR Trail. It’s just down the hill from home, so it’s extremely convenient. It’s also incredibly quiet and beautiful, especially early in the morning. There’s plenty of shade, and you can feel the cool air rising from the Gunpowder River, which winds alongside and underneath the trail.

When I was a boy, I used to love to run. I enjoyed the freedom and the feeling it gave me. I would run the hills in my neighborhood, or run the tracks at local schools, or run the beach in Ocean City, which was always my favorite spot. I loved running on the compacted wet sand at low tide, and when I felt like challenging myself, I would run with the wind for the first few miles, then run into the wind on the way home.

The simplicity and the solitary nature of the activity of running has always appealed to me. It’s similar to writing for me. When I’m in a rhythm, the thoughts and the words just flow. The release of endorphins is a creative rush. It’s extremely liberating.

I got away from a lot of things I enjoyed as I aged. I allowed outside influences and worldly pursuits to obscure the simple pleasures I had found as a boy. Between the pressures of work and marriage and raising children and being consumed by everyday activities, I made excuses and I got lazy. I drank too much, I smoked like a chimney, I gained way too much weight, and I was generally miserable. But it was easy to make excuses, and to find other people and things to blame, than to really look at myself and the role I played in everything.

Over the course of the past five years or so, I’ve finally decided to grow up, and to stop running away, especially from myself. The simplest revelation was also the most profound: That only I could change things, and that only I had the power to do that. But that revelation came through the paradox of admitting that I was powerless. How Zen is that?

So, I headed out northbound on the NCR Trail Tuesday morning. I began by stretching out for a good ten minutes or so. It’s been two months since I’ve been in the gym, and I was stiff and sore from Monday morning’s workout. I’m getting older and I was never the most flexible guy anyway.

I started walking briskly, getting my heartrate up. Then I just broke into a light jog. I picked a spot about two hundred yards ahead and decided I’d keep up my light running to there. And I did. Then I transitioned back into a brisk walk. I alternated this pattern for around two miles. Then I turned around and headed back, continuing to alternate. I worked up a good sweat. I like to sweat.

Along the way, my thoughts moved around, from what had happened last Friday morning, to what I might do today, to my sons and what’s going on in their lives, to the Orioles game last night, to the Ravens recent draft, to summer plans, to basically anything and everything going on in my little corner of the world.

At one point I looked up and saw two deer standing in the middle of the trail. They looked at me and then darted up a steep incline into the woods above the right side of the path. By the time I reached where they had been, they were invisible. Deer are pretty remarkable creatures.

I also found myself talking to God as I ran. I prayed to let go of any bitterness and resentment about what just happened in my professional circumstances. I asked Him to guide my steps, to help keep me focused on growing into a better man, to accept all the things that come my way, to grant me serenity and wisdom and patience. I remembered the verses about our bodies being holy, being a temple for our spirits, and that we should honor them and treat them well.

There was a moment, too, when I laughed at myself and my own hubris and hypocrisy. I was thinking about how far removed I am from being in the shape I was thirty or forty years ago, and how shameless it is for me to criticize the athletes I love to watch play. It occurred to me that as I struggle and work to lose weight and get in better shape, all of these players dedicate themselves to being as physically fit as possible to perform their best. They’re light years ahead of me in that effort. I need to remember that when Lamar Jackson throws a pick or Trey Mancini bobbles a grounder.

One other thought arose as I ran: That young man who used to love to run was still alive and well. His spirit and soul was still within this older, 54 year old body. He was awakened and energized, reminding me that even if I’m closer to the end of my time here than the beginning, I can still go back and embrace the things I loved the most. Even if I have to intersperse some walking with my running, it’s alright. It’s the action and the doing that matters.

There’s another line from Bob Marley that I’ve always loved, from the song Real Situation: “Once a man and twice a child, and everything is just for a while.” Maybe, just maybe, I’m beginning to better appreciate the meaning of those words. I always enjoyed my childhood.

We all need oxygen. It’s what gives life and breath to every living creature on earth. I could feel the clean, clear air filling my lungs as I ran. The oxygen ran through my blood. Fire needs oxygen, too. If we direct our oxygen to the good fires that burn within us, we can see those flames truly come alive.

Likewise, if we don’t give oxygen to things that burn us up, they’ll lose their energy and ultimately burn out. Choose wisely. Fuel your inner fire.

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Tuesday
May 4
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#2444


analysis


It's time for some analysis. I know, I know. It's a fragile word around here. That is, if it involves the Orioles.

But I'm going to do analyzing today. I promise, I won't do too much of it as it relates to the baseball team. I've heard time and time again how we're not supposed to take 2021 seriously. I'm on it.

Being very careful not to analyze the Ravens' recent draft, I will say this about their efforts last week. Their preparations for re-signing Lamar Jackson have officially commenced. Perhaps they've learned from the Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay or maybe they've just done enough self-scouting to know it for themselves, but the Ravens need to prove to Lamar that they're willing to give him weapons to work with offensively.

For this partnership to continue, the Ravens need to show Lamar Jackson he's not in it alone. They did that with last week's draft.

Rodgers was apparently miffed that the Packers selected a QB in last April's draft and didn't bother to inform him they were doing so. That definitely seemed like a jab at him, intended or otherwise. But what has probably irritated the future Hall of Famer even more is how much the Packers front office has neglected the wide receiver position over the years. The Ravens might have noticed the drama and confessed that they were on the same general path with Jackson.

We know from past experience there's nothing set in stone when you select a wide receiver in the first round. Rashod Bateman could turn into D.J. Metcalf or he could evolve into Breshad Perriman. I'm not expert enough to tell you the how and why those things occur in Baltimore, but the topsy-turvy nature of college wide receivers is certainly puzzling as far as the Ravens go.

Oddly, the arrival of two college hopefuls puts another former college hopeful directly on the hot seat this summer. The guess here is Miles Boykin is entering his make-or-break training camp with John Harbaugh's team. Two seasons is definitely a short sample size, but Boykin needs to have a solid pre-season or he might be looking for work by Labor Day.

No matter what happens, though, the Ravens have sent notice to Jackson and his "team". They do not expect Lamar to do it all himself. They're going to surround him with competent pass catchers and running backs and try to build a well-rounded offense. Whether Greg Roman has the capacity to install a pass-first, air-attack offense is a story for another day. His history in the NFL suggests that's an ambitious endeavor. But time will tell.

But we know this for sure. The Ravens are doing their best right now to make Lamar feel good about the direction of the offense as he prepares to sit with them at the negotiating table. That, in my analysis, is a smart move.


The Orioles rallied for a 5-3 win in Seattle last night, as Cedric Mullins and Freddy Galvis both hit 2-run homers in the 8th inning to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

Dean Kremer put together a nice start for the Birds out west, going six innings and allowing just 2 hits and 1 earned run. He struck out four and walked two on Monday night.

It was, for sure, the best start of his young career.

Kremer is one of the pieces from the Manny Machado deadline deal that the Dodgers initially didn't want to give up, but were finally forced to do so in order to make the trade complete.

Whether any of the other parts ever materialize into legit big leaguers remains to be seen. Diaz, Bannon and Pop are still part of the organization, but Kremer is the one who has made the jump to the big leagues. If he can pan out and turn into a reasonable #2 or #3 starter, the trade evens out a bit. As it stands now, the O's haven't received much return for giving away one of the game's best players in July of 2018.

Kremer has some outstanding stuff. He mentioned in an off-season interview that his goal for 2021 was to work on a go-to "out pitch" that he can use in big situations. The pitch he uses the least (change-up) is the one hitters are having the most trouble with, but it's his ability to mix his four-seam fastball with a breaking ball and cutter that has earned him the most success in his brief MLB career.

The Orioles are 14-15 on the year. When they were 7-9 at the 10% point of the season, I remarked they could hit the 20% mark at something like 16-16 if things went well for them. They're a couple of wins away from that happening. Better yet, if Kremer can replicate his start from Monday evening a few times over the next three weeks, the O's could be at or near .500 by the time the 30% mark rolls around later this month.


Today is May 4. It also happens to be Rory McIlroy's birthday. He turns 32.

Will the PGA Championship's return to Kiawah Island spark Rory McIlroy?

McIlroy was, a decade ago, the heir apparent to Tiger Woods. He went on a major championship winning spree, capturing the 2011 U.S. Open, the 2012 and 2014 PGA, and the 2014 British Open. Even though he hasn't won a major in 7 years, his golf hasn't exactly been terrible since then. He also won the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup in 2016 and 2019.

But McIlroy's golf hasn't been great in recent years, despite money still piling up for T7 finishes. He won four times in 2019 but hasn't entered the victory circle since then on TOUR. When Stewart Cink has more wins than you over the last two years, you're in trouble.

So what happened to Rory? It's the $64,000 question on TOUR. Too much money? He sure does have enough of it. Equipment changes? Money is involved there, too. It's hard to turn down $25 million, even when it means putting new golf clubs in your bag. Personal life? Married now, with a child, Rory's life has taken a different turn off the course.

McIlroy himself admits "the chase for distance" has unsettled him and created issues with his golf swing that he's yet to iron out. He calls it the "Bryson effect", a nod to reigning U.S. Open champ Bryson DeChambeau's massive distance gain off the tee over the last year. McIlroy isn't the first player to change their style or their approach to the game because of another player's success. David Duval admitted to "hitting the gym for the first time ever" in the late 1990's in response to Tiger's arrival on TOUR and later said it was a costly decision on his part.

The PGA Championship returns to the Ocean Course at Kiawah in a couple of weeks, the site of McIlroy's 2012 victory in the same event. The TV analysts will have a field day with Rory in the days leading up to the event at Kiawah. They're going to break down his "old swing" vs. the new one, bring up putting statistics, fairways hit numbers and so on. McIlroy will be one of the central themes of this year's PGA Championship, you can bet on that.

What I wouldn't bet on, though, is McIlroy winning. That seems far fetched after what we've seen over the last couple of years. He's going to win again at some point. That much is certain. But not now. Not yet.


The Caps pulled out a nice win last night at the Garden in New York, 6-3 over the Rangers. Every game matters, but the Caps are coming down the home stretch now and with 4 regular season games remaining, they're in a tie for first in the Eastern Division with Pittsburgh at 71 points. The Penguins, though, have played 53 games. Boston has only played 51 games and they have 68 points.

The Caps' remaining four games are at NY Rangers (tomorrow) and then home games vs. Philadelphia (twice) and the Bruins.

A familiar sight in the NHL. Tom Wilson being escorted to the penalty box.

Last night's win was noteworthy because the Caps played without three key players. Alex Ovechkin did return after missing four games due to a lower body injury but he skated a half-minute in the first period and didn't step on the ice again the rest of the night. Evgeny Kuznetsov (disciplinary) and T.J. Oshie (family matter) didn't suit up.

The game also showcased another not-so-good moment for the Caps Tom Wilson, who was involved in a couple of skirmishes during the game, including one that sent Rangers star Artemi Panarin to the locker room with an undisclosed injury.

The nasty stuff from Wilson drew the ire of the Rangers' Mika Zibanejad. "I figured you should have some more respect for the game and for the players. I don't honestly know where to start. It's just there's zero respect. I don't know why I'm surprised, just horrible."

Tomorrow's game at the Garden should be...interesting. Wilson, for once, will be the one targeted instead of doing the targeting himself.

Since arriving in the league, Wilson has been consistently reckless with his style of play. I'm the biggest Caps fan in the world and even I can step aside and admit that he's a goon. He also happens to be an excellent player. That is, when he's not cheap-shotting someone.

He's already been suspended this season for a head-hunting incident and the assumption here is something "new" is coming down from the league for last night's episode in New York. Whatever it is will be deserved, but there apparently is no punishment that scares Tom Wilson. He'll continue to goon it up as long as he's in the league. His career speaks for itself.

Meanwhile, the Caps need a healthy Alex Ovechkin if they're going to make any noise in the playoffs. Other than Wilson's issues on Monday night, that was the big story from the Big Apple. Ovi skated just one shift before heading back to the locker room. His health is critical if the Caps are going to make another Stanley Cup run.


Eight albums into their career, Kings of Leon just keep better. Their newest album, When You See Yourself was released in early March. I had heard a few songs along the way but hadn't yet listened to the whole thing in its entirety until this past Sunday night.

Not many bands eight albums deep into their musical journey produce their best work with Number 8, but Kings of Leon have done it this time around.

These guys are awesome.

Here's the first single they released from the album, called "The Bandit".


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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


americans abroad


It was a momentous week for Americans in European soccer. Despite a lighter schedule with cups and leagues winding down, US players featured in several of the biggest games of the week. One American scored a historic goal on the biggest European stage, while several others played key roles with trophies at stake. There was also a huge off field development for an American coach.

The Champions League semifinals began last Tuesday with Chelsea traveling to Real Madrid for the first of two legs. American star Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea, joining Tyler Adams and DaMarcus Beasley as the only Americans to play at this late stage of the top club tournament in the world.

American Christian Pulisic scored a crucial goal for Chelsea in last week's Champions League semifinals.

The Hershey, PA native did not just get on the field, but was a key performer for the London team. Early in the first half Pulisic got on the end of a cross and directed a well placed header to the feet of Timo Werner, but the shot was saved by Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Several minutes later the American again troubled the Madrid defense, making a run between two central defenders, Pulisic took a nice touch to bring down a long ball from defender Antonio Rudiger and found himself one on one with the keeper in the box. He calmly dribbled past the keeper and fired a shot in between Madrid defenders to open the scoring and put Chelsea up 1-0.

The goal was the first by an American in the Champions League semifinal and easily the most important goal an American has scored in a club competition.

Pulisic continued to cause Madrid problems throughout the first half but was not able to find the net again. He quieted down in the second half and was subbed off in the 65th minute. Real Madrid found an equalizer late in the first half through a fantastic strike by Karim Benzema and the game finished in a 1-1 draw.

The result is a good one for Chelsea however, as a 0-0 draw or a win at home will see them through to the final. For Pulisic it was another standout performance as he has played his best soccer at the most important point of the season for Chelsea. He was rested in their 2-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday that solidified their Champions League position for next season and should be a near lock to start the second leg with Real Madrid tomorrow.

In the other Champions League semifinal last Wednesday, Zack Steffen watched from the bench as Manchester City pulled off a key 2-1 road victory over Paris St. Germain. PSG had the upper hand in the first half with attacking star Neymar causing Man City lots of problems early on.

The Parisian side opened the scoring early in the first half when defender Marquinhos headed in a corner kick. The script was flipped in the second half as Man City pressed higher up the field and pinned PSG in their half with the Parisians unable to find the right passes to break through. Eventually Man City tied the game when Kevin De Bruyne sent in a dangerous cross that caught keeper Keylor Navas off guard and skipped into the goal. They scored a second goal shortly after on a free kick from Riyad Mahrez that went right through the PSG wall and beat the keeper to the far post.

The 2-1 away win makes Man City the solid favorites to advance from today’s second leg in Manchester.

Many American players were off this weekend as the Bundesliga took a break for the semifinals of the German cup to be played. Each of the two cup games had Americans involved as Josh Sargent’s Werder Bremen took on Tyler Adam’s RB Leipzig on one side and Gio Reyna and Borussia Dortmund took on Holstein Kiel on the other. Sargent started for Bremen while Tyler Adams was an unused substitute in this one.

The American striker had a tough assignment, often matching up with star Leipzig center back Dayot Upamecano. Sargent got the better of Upamecano a couple times in the first half, one of which put him through on goal against the keeper but his shot went just wide of the post. Sargent played the entire 120 minutes, as the game went into overtime, but he was quiet the rest of the game and could not find the net. Leipzig ended up pulling out the victory with a dramatic goal in the final minutes of overtime for a 2-1 win.

They will advance to play Borussia Dortmund, ensuring that an American will hoist the trophy one way or the other. Gio Reyna was a huge part of Dortmund’s 5-0 destruction of Holstein Kiel. Despite missing top attacker Erling Haaland, Dortmund overwhelmed the second division Kiel, scoring all five goals in the first half. Reyna was outstanding, scoring the first two goals of the game.

The first came in the 17th minute as he took a nice turn while receiving a ball at the top of the box that opened up for a strong right footed shot in the bottom right corner. The second goal came six minutes later when Reyna found himself in perfect position to tap in a pass that rolled across the box. Reyna was subbed out at halftime as Dortmund rested their starters, but this performance continues a positive trend for the young American as the season winds down.

Elsewhere around Europe this weekend, Sergino Dest started for Barcelona in a critical match against Valencia on Sunday. Barcelona took a shocking loss to Granada on Thursday, making the weekend match a must win to keep pace in the title race. Dest was solid defensively in the game but did not find any dangerous moments in the attack. After going down 1-0 on a goal from a corner kick, Barcelona rebounded in the second half to win 3-2, led by two goals from Lionel Messi, the second of which was an amazing free kick.

With all three of the top teams in the Spanish title race winning, it sets up a blockbuster weekend to come, with Barcelona playing first place Atletico Madrid on Saturday and second place Real Madrid taking on fourth place Sevilla on Sunday. The results next weekend will go a long way to determining this season’s Spanish champion.

In Italy, Weston McKennie started for Juventus in a 2-1 win over Udinese on Sunday. The win keeps Juventus in the Champions League places in Serie A. McKennie did not have his best game, as he gave up a fairly needless foul that led to the Udinese goal and then missed an open diving header in the first half. He looked a step slow, perhaps due to the nagging injuries that have limited his playing time. It has been an incredible first season at Juventus for McKennie, but he could definitely use some rest once the season ends.

In England, Antonee Robinson started for Fulham in the 2-0 loss to Chelsea. Despite the losing effort, Robinson put in a good performance, creating several dangerous chances from the left wing. Fulham are doomed for relegation at this point, however, Robinson’s stellar play throughout the season may have other Premier League teams looking to grab him for next season, so he may not go down with the team.

Finally, in Austria, Brenden Aaronson started for RB Salzburg and helped lead them to a 3-0 win in the Austrian cup final. Aaronson scored the second goal of the game with a nice shot from the top of the box that was placed in the upper right corner, leaving the keeper no chance. The Cup win puts a bow on a very successful season for Salzburg and Aaronson as well as American head coach Jesse Marsch.

That wasn’t the only good news for Marsch during the week however. Prior to the weekend cup match it was announced that Jesse Marsch will replace the departing Julian Nagglesmann as the coach at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. While Bob Bradley has coached in the Premier League and New Jersey native Pellegrino Matarazzo currently coaches Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, this will easily be the highest profile position an American coach has ever had.

This is a very encouraging development for both Marsch personally and American soccer in general. Marsch has graduated up the ranks of the Red Bull empire, starting as the coach of the New York Red Bulls in MLS and now to Leipzig, a top competitor in Europe. He will reunite with Tyler Adams, who he coached in New York, and there is a high potential that American players Brenden Aaronson and 17 year old Caden Clark could join him in upcoming seasons.

The 47 year old Marsch is certainly someone to keep an eye on as he is a favorite to become the US national team coach at some point in the future. Perhaps he’ll be the one at the helm in 2026 when the World Cup returns to the states.

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Monday
May 3
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#2443


i shouldn't have said it...


I knew as soon as I uttered the word "athlete" I'd get some kind of rebuttal.

It took about 3 seconds.

"What are you talking about? Those guys aren't athletes at all."

The scene was a Saturday afternoon Kentucky Derby party at a friend's house. Due to obligations with my son's junior golf schedule, I didn't arrive at the party location until 6:45 pm, or roughly 12 minutes before post time.

I could hear the noise and reveling from the street as I parked the car. They had been gathered since 4 pm. The aroma of the grill was lovely. I also knew a few cocktails had been consumed over the last three hours as well.

4-time Derby winning jockey John Velazquez; high level athlete or just a guy who rides a horse?

We all watched the race, hollerin' for the horse we wanted to win or had wagered on. I was particularly loud for Hot Rod Charlie and he was in it until the end, but it wasn't to be on that first Saturday in May, as Medina Spirit held on to win.

When they showed the replay of the race with the camera situated on the winner and the "trip" he got, I remarked something to no one in particular, but within earshot of the six guys who were standing around watching it with me.

"That Velazquez is some athlete," I said. "The man can ride a freakin' horse."

Indeed, John Velazquez is a great rider. There have been lots of them over the years, including the great Bill Shoemaker who, like Velazquez, won four times at Churchill Downs. Only Bill Hartack and Eddie Arcaro (5 each) have won more.

The laughter broke out immediately.

"What?" one of them said. "Did you say that jockey is an athlete?"

"I thought we were the ones who had too much to drink," said my friend Dan.

"You don't think moving that horse around a race track in the midst of 18 other animals, or however many are in the race, is an athletic endeavor?" I asked.

"No, it's not," said Dan. "Come on, Drew. Those little pipsqueaks aren't athletes. Athletes play baseball and basketball and soccer. If you're not an athlete you ride a horse."

"They don't look like an athlete to me," another viewer said.

"Yeah, because a 6'6", 350 pound offensive lineman with 80 extra pounds on him looks like an athlete as well. Now you're just saying stupid stuff for the sake of saying it," I shot back.

"Have you ever riden a horse?" I asked to the three guys who stayed around for the debate.

"If you haven't, you probably should recuse yourself from the argument," I explained. "I mean, seriously. If you haven't ever ridden a horse, just casually, to understand how much "in charge" they are over you unless you actually have the strength and smarts to make them listen, then you don't have a say in this."

None of the three guys still remaining near the TV have ever ridden a horse.

"It can't be that hard," one of them said. "I mean, it's a horse. Aren't they born to run?"

There was laughter and someone made a Bruce Springsteen reference and for a second the scene lightened.

But they came right back at me, again.

"I bet those guys couldn't hit a baseball if it were lobbed to them," my friend Dan stated.

"Orlando Brown Jr. might not be able to hit a baseball if it were lobbed to him, either. Does that make him unathletic?" I replied.

"So what makes a horse jockey an athlete?" one of them asked.

"They use strength and power, for starters," I said. "They have to understand how to move the horse in and out of traffic. They're incredibly intuitive about what the horse needs in the 2 minutes they're performing. They know when to sit back, when to move forward, how to get the horse to go left or right."

"And," I continued, "they're totally responsible for the performance of the horse. If there wasn't a jockey on top of that horse, he'd never run the race. I might, he might "run", but he wouldn't run the race in the same manner that he does with a jockey on top of him moving him around the track. Those guys take their life in their hands every race they enter."

"That might be true," one of the party goers said, "but it doesn't make the jockey an athlete."

I went for the jugular. "With all due respect to the four of us standing here. The guy who just won the Derby, Velazquez, is more of an athlete right now than all four of us combined. You have no idea what you're talking about."

And then, the final blow.

"I suppose you guys don't think stock car drivers are athletes, either," I said.

"You're NUTS if you think they are!" one of them shouted as he laughed.

"Oh, they are," I said. "Big time. Let's save that for the Preakness party in two weeks."

An hour or so later, I excused myself from the festivities. I was at the end of a long day and just wanted to get home and relax. And the debate about jockeys wore me out even more.

"See you in two weeks," Dan said as I was leaving. "Maybe we can argue about whether or not golfers are athletes, too."

I stopped in the doorway and pulled out my phone. I did a quick Google search of PGA Tour player Brooks Koepka.

I motioned for Dan's wife to come over. "Do you think he's an athlete?" I asked as I showed her a picture of Koepka in the ESPN portfolio from a few years ago where Koepka -- and other athletes -- posed 95% naked, with a golf club conveniently positioned -- if you know what I mean.

She laughed and grabbed my phone. I didn't tell her who it was. But she said, "Whatever team he plays for, let's get season tickets! He sure looks like an athlete to me!"

I took my phone back and headed out the door.

Another argument won...

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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.


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Every once in a while I like to give a Mike Trout update here at #DMD. Trout, unfortunately, missed a few games in April because of an elbow injury, but no matter. He’s about as “on fire” as a player can be to start a season.

In his first 22 games, Trout has 33 hits, half of which have come for extra bases. His OPS is an incredible 1.332, which won’t last, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes the season with his best numbers ever there—and he already has three seasons of 1.07 or better.

Future Hall of Famer Mike Trout is in the midst of yet another extraordinary season in 2021.

It must be noted that as an offensive player, Trout is in the company of players like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. There isn’t an active player anywhere close to him, even certain Hall of Famers Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols. If he can maintain his level of play until age 35 or so (he’ll be 30 on August 7 of this year), he’ll be worthy of consideration as the greatest player in the post-World War II era.

I wouldn’t worry about Trout being a guy who could hit .400, though he’s currently at .429. He strikes out too much for that, and he’s a power hitter.

What else is going on in baseball? Everybody wanted to fire every player on the Red Sox during the opening week of the season, but they’ve recovered to lead a surprisingly mediocre AL East. The Yankees have spent most the season under .500, but they’re still an 80 percent likelihood of making the postseason, if not higher.

The Athletics won 13 games in a row but only have 17 wins overall. In other words, they are 4-12 in their other 16 games outside of the streak. If not for the guy on second base to start extra innings, they might have lost their first seven games of the season.

After a month or so, there hasn’t been a team that’s really broken out to a big-time start, though there have been surprises. The Royals have been one in a good way, as have the Brewers in the National League. The Twins, well under .500 in the AL Central, have been one of the bigger disappointments.

And speaking of the guy on second base in extra innings, it just can’t last. I know that long extra-inning games take a huge toll on pitching staffs. I know that MLB is doing everything it can to make games quicker and shorter. I know that it’s not completely unknown in baseball and softball elsewhere in the U.S. and the world. I don’t care. There just is no integrity to it. It’s like college football overtime but maybe 10 times worse.


Now that we’ve turned the calendar to May, I feel like it’s worth talking about something in baseball that’s flown under the radar, or at the very least been talked about less than it should be.

The Minor Leagues didn’t play at all in 2020, and in 2021 they are no longer what they used to be. That’s because Major League Baseball now governs the minors, and decided on a big-time reclassification and reorganization, one that eliminated 40 teams in the process.

For however long I can remember, a bloop single has been known as a “Texas Leaguer,” though nobody is quite sure how that came to be, or whether bloop hits were more common there than anywhere else (probably not). Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore, because the Texas League doesn’t exist anymore. Most of its teams are playing in what MLB is calling “Double A South,” for this year anyway.

The Orioles famously had a rookie league team in Bluefield, W.Va., for 53 seasons, from 1958 until 2010. Recently, Bluefield was a Blue Jays farm team. Cal Ripken and Boog Powell both played there. From 1911 to 2020, that league, the Appalachian League, was affiliated with Major League Baseball teams. No longer. As part of the realignment, the league is a summer collegiate setup.

I once mentioned in this space that I served as an official scorer for the Trenton Thunder, who played in the Eastern League. The Thunder were a great minor league success story, helping to revitalize the waterfront area of the New Jersey state capital. For the last 18 years, they also had the good fortune of being a Yankees farm team, a place where Jeter or A-Rod or Sabathia came for a rehab assignment. That’s over. The Thunder are now a team in something called the MLB Draft League, with a 68-game season.

There was a lot of bad blood during the reorganization. More than 100 members of Congress lobbied commissioner Rob Manfred against making the changes. Minor League Baseball itself released a statement in late 2019 that suggested the proposal was simply a way to increase MLB profitability, one that inspired a rebuke from Manfred, who was annoyed that private negotiations suddenly were public.

Here in Maryland, you won’t be able to go watch the Frederick Keys in the same way anymore. That neat little stadium right by Interstate 70 is just another place to watch draft prospects like in Trenton, not to watch future Orioles like Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters or Dylan Bundy.

Still, you should go see a game in Salisbury or Bowie if you get a chance. Thankfully, those teams are still affiliated with the Orioles, though it won’t feel the same as before.


There was an NFL Draft this past week. Perhaps you heard about it. It appears that the local squad selected eight players overall, four on offense and four on defense. Very balanced. Other than that, I’m not sure what else to say. Ok. I’ll bite.

Everyone believes that the Ravens need a better-than-average wide receiver. The No. 27 pick was a good spot for the team, then, because there was no way they were going to trade up to pick a wideout. Three of them—Ja’Marr Chase of LSU, and Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith of Alabama—were taken in the first 10 picks. On second thought, considering the team’s obsession with the Crimson Tide, I can’t believe the Ravens didn’t try to get Waddle or Smith. I guess Eric DeCosta isn’t Ozzie Newsome.

Here’s an interesting fact. The Ravens haven’t drafted what’s now known as an “edge” rusher in the first round since 2003, when they took potential Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs. Odafe Oweh (Jayson) breaks that streak, though he’s part of another long-term conversation as well. According to ESPN, Oweh is the only DE/OLB to be selected in the first round in the last 25 years that didn’t record a sack in his final college season.

That’s right. He’s an edge rusher who had no sacks in 2020. However, he actually ran a faster 40-yard dash time than Rashod Bateman, the wide receiver taken at No. 27. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Most interesting to me is that the Ravens took one offensive lineman and it was a guard, Ben Cleveland from Georgia. Cleveland looks like a Ravens’ offensive lineman, and maybe he’ll be good enough to allow Bradley Bozeman to move to center. What he isn’t is a right or left tackle, which is funny considering the trade of Orlando Brown.

Who is the Ravens’ right tackle on Opening Day 2021? Tyre Phillips? If not, then I’m not sure who. Perhaps the answer will become clearer in the near future.

Other draft notes. There were 10 quarterbacks chosen, of which eight came in the first three rounds, actually the first 67 picks. That means that all of those players might be expected to become starters someday, if not immediately like Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson. I’d say that Florida’s Kyle Trask, who went to Tampa, was underrated at the No. 64 choice. Notre Dame’s Ian Book, chosen in the fourth round by New Orleans, may also be better than that mid-round choice.

And I’m not sure I knew this until the day after the draft, but Trask’s teammate at Florida, Kyle Pitts, became the highest-ever tight end draft pick when he was taken No. 4 overall by the Falcons.


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Sunday
May 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2442


it's a shame...


I hate to be a Debbie Downer on this beautiful Sunday...

But it's a shame.

Bob Baffert (right) won his 7th Kentucky Derby as a trainer on Saturday.

They ran the Kentucky Derby yesterday and it was one heckuva horse race.

I know what you're thinking. "They still run the Kentucky Derby?"

Yes, they do.

Medina Spirit won the 147th Derby yesterday. It was a great race from start to finish, with the winner holding off three challengers over the final 250 yards.

It's a shame horse racing has died off so dramatically in our country. I wish the three Triple Crown races were still a big deal, but, sadly, they've lost a lot of their mass appeal over the last decade or so.

Here in Maryland, horse racing is nearly all gone. That, too, is a shame.

But that horse race yesterday at Churchill Downs was fantastic. Bob Baffert won his 7th Derby as a trainer and jockey John Velazquez picked up his 4th Derby title. Those two are quite the team.

Oh, and before you ask, yes, they still run the Preakness at Pimlico and it's being held 13 days from today, May 15.


Another NFL Draft has come and gone and the bizarre practice of "grading" the various drafts of the 32 NFL teams has commenced.

It's a shame that we do that song and dance every year.

I totally understand that this endeavor has been going on for a long, long time, but that doesn't make it any more strange. How do you "grade" the performance of a team's front office when none of the players they just drafted have ever played a minute of football for their new employer?

I mean, the greatest quarterback to ever play the game was drafted in the 6th round. A throwaway pick, essentially.

"Hey, if we get to the 6th round and that Tom Brady kid from Michigan is still available, let's snag him. We need someone to back up Bledsoe for a few years."

How did everyone grade New England's draft in 2000 when Brady was part of the mix?

The experts believe the Ravens made the right choice with Rashod Bateman at the 27th pick on Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft. But what will time tell us about his selection?

I can't imagine the Ravens don't think they had a great draft, but the reality is we won't know until 2023, probably.

Just for kicks, two years later, let's look at the Ravens' 2019 draft and see how that one grades out now, two full seasons later.

1st rd -- Hollywood Brown (B+)

3rd rd -- Jaylon Ferguson (C+)

3rd rd -- Miles Boykin (C)

4th rd -- Justice Hill (B-)

4th rd -- Ben Powers (B)

4th rd -- Iman Marshall (E)*

5th rd -- Daylon Mack (E)

6th rd -- Trace McSorley (C)

*Marshall played just 3 games in 2019 and missed all of 2020 with a knee injury.

So, Brown has the potential to be a legit first round pick and Jaylon Ferguson is starting to show signs he could be a valuable defensive player in '21 and '22.

Boykin might not even make the opening day roster in '21. Justice Hill and Ben Powers have both been decent during limited action.

Thus far, the draft grade for 2019 is a solid C+.

It's a shame they don't get a better grade. Maybe this time next year they will.


Unless something odd takes place, the O's are probably going to try and peddle John Means sometime in July. The guy is having an awesome start to the 2021 campaign.

I'm all for the "rebuild" and I totally get the concept of "if he can't help us win in 2023, why keep him around now?" I understand it, even if it's sometimes hard to sign off on.

Means has a legitimate chance to be the A.L.'s All Star Game starter. He still has to put together a full season of what he's doing now -- maybe even two seasons -- before he's a true, bonafide "ace" in baseball terms. But if he does develop into an ace, why trade him now?

He can't help the Birds win 83 games next season and 93 games in 2023?

Why ship him off just for the sake of shipping him off?

I sorta-kinda get trying to find a taker for Trey Mancini, as tough as that might be for our heartstrings. But left-handed starting pitchers with the numbers that Means is producing? Those are really hard to come by.

Sure, he still has 26 or so more starts to make and things can turn around quickly. But if he's something like 11-3 at the All-Star Break with a 2.09 ERA, how do you just peddle him to the highest bidder? Why not keep Means and build around him?

Speaking of deadline deals, when's that trade for Manny Machado going to yield its expected dividends?


Phil Mickelson says he's still unsure if he'll accept the USGA's special exemption into this June's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Mickelson still has time to make it into the event without the exemption, but time is starting to run short. He missed the cut this weekend in Tampa Bay and is only scheduled to play three more events before the automatic qualifying period ends. If he doesn't get in via that route, Mickelson could always try the sectional qualifying tournament, a 36-hole, one-day event.

Phil Mickelson's U.S. Open going away party could be in his hometown of San Diego, but the left hander isn't sure he wants one.

It's a shame Phil doesn't just accept the special exemption offered by the USGA. He deserves to play and the folks in San Diego deserve the opportunity to see one of their favorite local stars go out in style. There's no telling if this would be Mickelson's final U.S. Open, but if so, Torrey Pines is a perfect backdrop for a rousing celebration.

Unlike most other sports, golf is one where you can just keep playing and playing and playing. Mickelson hasn't had a good 2021 campaign by virtually any TOUR player's standards, let alone his own, but he's certainly not that far off from being competitive. In golf, you can literally be one stroke away from making the cut every week. This year alone, we've seen guys in their 50's (Stricker, Singh) compete with the young guns and a guy closing in on 50, Stewart Cink, has won twice on TOUR.

The point to that is because PGA Tour players -- especially the great ones -- can still compete at that level well into their late 40's and early 50's, it robs them of a "going away party" like you would see for an older player in basketball or baseball or any of the other major sports. Great basketball players get cars and pianos and other significant retirement items from city-to-city. Great golfers get a 7:33 am tee-time at the Honda Classic in lieu of a retirement item.

So it's not in Mickelson's DNA to have a going away party in San Diego next month and it's not really the way golf does it, either. But maybe it should be.

Phil Mickelson most definitely deserves a wonderful weekend of accolades and appreciation for the stellar career he's produced and the way he's carried himself along the way. It's doubtful he can win the U.S. Open any longer, but that doesn't mean his impact on the event over the years should be diminished or overlooked.

It's a shame Phil doesn't see it that way. It would be cool to see San Diego send him off in style in mid-June at Torrey Pines.


The Wizards dropped a heartbreaker in Dallas last night, 125-124, coughing up an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The loss dropped Washington's record to 29-35 on the season.

It's a shame the Wizards got off to such a terrible start (3-12) back in the first month of the season or they would be one of the league's more interesting stories in '20-21. Russell Westbrook's first season in D.C. has seen him do pretty much what he always does -- take lots of shots, score a bunch of points and play minimal defense. But hey, it works for him.

Last night in Dallas, Westbrook went 17-for-30 for 42 points. NBA games are 48 minutes long. Westbrook played 40 of them last night and took 30 shots. That's not quite one shot per-minute. But he did manage to score 42 points, which is not at all surprising from a guy who has been one of the league's best offensive players over the last decade.

Whether the Wizards are better with him or without him doesn't seem to be the question. They wouldn't be 29-35 if they wouldn't have made the Wall-for-Westbrook deal last fall. Wall's already finished playing in Houston and there's a definite chance he's in the mid-December of his career. Injuries have wrecked him.

The question with Westbrook in D.C. is the same as it was in Oklahoma City and Houston. Does he make other players around him better? That seems to be the issue that clings to him from city-to-city. I don't watch enough Wizards basketball to give you the answer relative to this season's team, but I know in the past there was definitely a contention he didn't make guys around him better in Houston or OKC.

Either way, though, it's a shame the Wizards (and Westbrook, who was injured off and on for the first 6 weeks of the campaign) didn't get off to a better start this season. They might be making some noise in the Eastern Conference if they would have started 10-5 instead of 3-12.

As it stands now, the Wizards are clinging to 10th place in the East which would earn them a spot in this year's "play-in-tournament", where the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place teams meet to determine who secures the 7th and 8th playoff seeds.

There's still hope for a post-season in D.C., but that 3-12 start left them with an uphill climb.

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Saturday
May 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2441


oh, you have a question you need answered?


Chris asks -- "I know you like underrated and overrated discussions, but here's a twist on that one. Who is the most under-appreciated Baltimore athlete ever?"

DF says: "Holy cow. You're serious? I'd have to sit down and really think this one through. -- One hour later -- OK, so I went back as far as I know, which is into the 1970's. I gave this one a lot of thought. I started with 5 finalists and eventually chiseled it down to two guys. These guys aren't obscure, per se, but for sure both of them have been extraordinarily under-appreciated. Sam Koch, Ravens punter, and Nick Markakis, Orioles right fielder. Koch has been an incredible "weapon" for the Ravens. Markakis was outstanding at the plate and in the field. He was the best player on the team during one of the worst 6-year periods in franchise history. And you never heard him gripe or complain. Markakis is the answer here. Koch has been under-appreciated, but not nearly as much as Markakis was when he played for the Orioles.


Keith Thomas asks -- "Hey, Drew, question here for one of your Q and A segments in the future. If I could visit one sports related facility or place and be guaranteed to experience the "WOW!" factor, where would it be?"

DF says -- "Great question. One place, huh? Well, if you were a golfer I'd definitely say Pebble Beach, but let's pretend you're not a golfer and just give you a standard answer. Unlike Johnny Cash, I haven't been everywhere. But of all the places I've been, I don't think anything beats Fenway Park for the "WOW!" factor. TV doesn't do it justice. It's just an awesome place to watch a baseball game. The setting outside is phenomenal. The stadium is glorious inside. If you can tolerate the fans, you're golden! It delivers on the "WOW!" factor to me, big time."


$300 to see the great Jeff Lynne? From the 9th row, you bet!

Phil asks -- "I realize this might be a personal question and if you'd rather not answer it, that's fine. What's the most you've ever spent on either a concert ticket or a sports ticket? Thanks!"

DF says -- "I don't know exact numbers, but I think I spent $600 (might have been $650) on a Masters practice round ticket a few years ago. I definitely spent $300 on a 9th row seat to see Jeff Lynne and ELO with my buddy Dale Williams up in Philly back in August of 2018. Both were well worth it."


BP asks -- "Be honest. When's the last time you watched a NBA game from opening tip until the final whistle?"

DF says -- "I actually know this answer. Game 7 of the Finals the year the Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Oakland. What year was that, 2017? (Looks it up...it was 2016. I was close.) I watched that game from start to finish. I can say with virtual certainty I haven't watched a full 48 minutes of NBA basketball since then."


Clemson Bill asks -- "My friends and I had this discussion around the fire pit last weekend and I thought it would be a good one for DMD. What album have you listened to the most number of times in your life?"

DF says -- "This is a great question. I have to really think it through. I can't say for sure. It's one of three. Throwing Copper, by Live. Hemispheres, by Rush. Or Darkness on The Edge of Town, by Bruce Springsteen. Not sure which one I listened to the most of those three, but if I had to make a guess, I'd say Hemispheres by a small margin."


Chris K. asks -- "For your next DMD "Q&A", I'm wondering what one player, from any sport, you'd bet your house on to win one game for you?"

DF says -- "Easy answer. Tom Brady. Not even a second thought about it."


James Benfield asks -- "For your Q and A column. You can choose one of these to happen only. Which one do you pick? Tiger Woods wins another Masters championship. The Orioles get to the World Series. The Capitals win another Stanley Cup. Maryland wins NCAA hoops title. Thanks, Drew!"

DF says -- "Another easy answer. Orioles get to the World Series. Wouldn't even care all that much if they won or lost. Just getting there again is all that matters. Only one team can win anyway. Second would be Caps winning the Stanley Cup again. Third would be Tiger. Fourth would be Maryland hoops. Good question!"


Jonathan asks -- "In the Blast's hey day, how many seats could the team have sold if Baltimore would have had a bigger arena?"

"DF says -- "Well, back in the 1980's, the Capital Centre had a capacity of 18,130. I'd say in the '82-83, '83-84 and '84-85 Blast seasons, we could have averaged 16,000 in a building like the Cap Centre (in Baltimore). For sure in '82-83 we would have sold out an 18,130 seat arena on a number of occasions. Remember, back in those days we sold out the Arena 56 consecutive times and roughly 1,500 of the seats in the Arena were obstructed view! You couldn't even see the one goal. And people still bought the tickets anyway!"


Mike Kennedy asks -- "Rank these three "Steves" in order of their greatness. Steven Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Thanks. Love the Morning Dish!"

DF says -- "This is impossible! There's no right answer. Wow. OK, maybe it's not as hard as I'm thinking it is. Stevie Wonder is definitely #1. And while I love, love, love Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steven Tyler is #2. He's the front man for one of the best 10 bands in the history of rock-n-roll."


Andy asks -- "What's the most memorable sports event you've ever attended in Baltimore?"

DF says -- "Well, this is a biased answer, but it was the Blast's Game 5 championship clinching win over St. Louis on June 8, 1984. I worked for the team, obviously, and it was our first championship in the MISL and it was at home in front of a sell-out crowd. I remember it like it was yesterday. In terms of "most memorable", second place would be the Ravens-Vikings snow game in 2013 when the two teams scored 5 touchdowns in the last 2:05 of the fourth quarter. Imagine if you had the under in that one..."


Sam asks -- "I'm not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, but I'm only 29 years old and he's pretty much not even relevant in my generation. I'll give you one chance to convince me he's great. What should I listen to?"

DF says -- "Just play the Born to Run album from front to back. Listen to every song. If you're not convinced of his greatness after listening to that album, you'll never be convinced."


M.J. asks -- "Hey Drew, question for you when you do your Question and Answer segment. You can make any radical change in baseball that you want. What would your change be?"

DF says: "I'd eliminate the divisions and the whole American League/National League thing. I'd have each team play every other team 6 times a season. That's 29 teams x 6 games = 174 games. You'd play every team 3 times at home and 3 times away. 12 teams make the playoffs. 1 plays 12, 2 plays 11, 3 plays 10, etc. The leagues and divisions are silly and they don't EVER give an indication of who the best team is, really. Make everyone play one another."


Connor asks -- "I appreciate your inclusion of faith and Christianity on your website. I was wondering if you have a favorite Bible verse or passage?"

DF says -- "Colossians 3:12-14 -- (12) Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (13) Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."


T.J. asks -- "I've learned about several new music artists, bands, etc. from your website over the last few years. You introduced me to Ra Ra Riot, Camera Obscura and Pete Yorn. Do you have another "new name" to throw my way? I need some new music!"

DF says -- "Not sure if you've heard of "Best Coast" but they're an awesome band out of Los Angeles that has that distinctive Southern California style. They have an easy and fun sound. This is probably their most noteworthy song, but they have a number of catchy tunes besides this one."


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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Friday
April 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2440


and.....hot takes......ready......go!


OK, let's get the most obvious hot take out of the way right from the start.

Poor Rashod Bateman. The only place he didn't want to go...was where he wound up going. The college wide receiver's graveyard...

I'm kidding.

Sort of.

But, just like Trevor Lawrence is now saddled with defying the odds and going to a moribund franchise -- Jacksonville -- and piecing them back together, so, too, is Bateman assigned the duty of changing the narrative on the Ravens and their propensity for failing to pick the right receiver in the first round.

For the second time in 3 years, the Ravens drafted a wide receiver in the first round last night, as Rashod Bateman of Minnesota was Eric DeCosta's pick at #27.

My take isn't exactly "hot", but it's the one I'm going with for now.

I like the selection of Rashod Bateman last night. I like it a lot. I'm no football scout or anything like that. Never claimed to be. But I think Bateman's going to pan out as a legitimate wide receiver in Baltimore.

Remember Thomas Edison? He once famously said, "I knew I was getting closer to figuring out the light bulb when I failed for the 20,000th time. I figured, at some point, I'm going to eliminate all of the reasons why it doesn't work and stumble on the way it does work."

I think the Ravens are approaching their Thomas Edison moment with wide receivers. They have to get one right sooner or later. And, let's remember, they might have actually been "right" on Hollywood Brown. After a decent rookie season, he most certainly improved in 2020. In another year or two, we might look back on his selection as a shining moment for Eric DeCosta and his scouts and player personnel staff.

I think they got it right with Rashod Bateman. I realize they really wanted Vera Tucker from USC, but they also knew that was a pipe dream. He was never going to last to #27 and they didn't want to trade up to get him, which is completely understandable.

And, while their board might have perhaps had Jaelan Phillips of Miami ranked higher than Bateman, I don't see any great harm in losing out on Phillips, getting Bateman, and then picking Jayson Oweh at #31.

The Ravens need to surround Lamar Jackson with talent. And let's be honest. High quality free agent wide receivers are going to shy away from coming to Baltimore as long as Greg Roman is the offensive coordinator and Lamar and the "run first" game plan are used. That's why the Ravens were only able to land Sammy Watkins in the off-season.

The only way to get real quality at the wide receiver position in Baltimore is via the draft. That's why last night's pick makes even more sense.

I'll say it again. I love the selection of Rashod Bateman last night.

The Ravens forgot more about scouting and football personnel on Tuesday from 3 pm to 4 pm than I'll probably ever know, so I'll defer to them on the Jayson Oweh selection. If the "experts" matter, folks are largely split on him as a quality rush end in the NFL. Whereas most of them think Bateman is sorta-kinda "can't miss", a lot of them question Oweh's long term viability as a first-round talent.

Like I said, I'll defer to the Ravens on Oweh and just assume they got it right. One thing for certain: they need a rush end or two.


Another hot take of far less importance. There are, odd as it seems, some strange benefits from Covid-19. While some businesses have struggled, sadly, other industries have flourished.

One strange benefit from Covid-19 is that we no longer have to watch Roger Goodell and those embarrassing man-hugs with the first rounders on draft night.

I guess it's a worthwhile exchange for the guy who just got handed enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life (if he doesn't squander it), but those hugs from Goodell were always cringe-worthy to me.


On to other hot takes...just not mine. My old radio buddy Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com recently offered his early-season analysis of the Orioles.

I'd rather see Rich get put on the grill, so here's what he has to offer about the O's and their "worrisome" offense.

Edtior's note: "Worrisome" are his words, not mine. I'm just the messenger. I realize we're not supposed to be "worried" about the team or their inept offense but I wanted to make sure it's clear I didn't label the offense "worrisome". Rich did that.

Anyway, Dubroff's take on the O's offense is...

The Orioles’ team batting average (.224) and OPS (.645) are among the worst in baseball.

Cedric Mullins has had a fabulous start to the 2021 season. His .340 batting average, .393 on-base average and .918 OPS are outstanding, but there’s no one else close to him.

Trey Mancini had two hits in Wednesday’s game and his first three-hit game of the season on Thursday, and his .247 average and .773 OPS are beginning to resemble his career averages.

Freddy Galvis, who has missed the last three games because of a groin injury, could be back for Friday night’s game in Oakland. His .264 average and .779 OPS are behind only Mullins.

Ryan Mountcastle has slowly begun to make more contact. His modest four-game hitting streak has brought his average up to .184, but he has just one home run.

Galvis’ injury resulted in the Orioles bringing up Pat Valaika from the alternate site. But, the punch he displayed in 2020 seems to be missing. Valaika is hitless in 10 at-bats since he came up on Tuesday and is just 1-for-19 (.053) this season.

Feel free to check out Rich's quality work at www.baltimorebaseball.com if you want -- wait for it -- "analysis" of the Orioles in 2021.


Speaking of the Orioles, they won the series finale with the Yankees on Thursday, 4-3, in 10 innings. I didn't see one pitch of the game because I was coaching my golf team, but a win is a win, even when you're not concerned with winning.

And let's be honest. When you're paying your players by the hour, which the O's are mostly doing in 2021, and you beat a team full of six-figure CEO's, it's especially gratifying. The Orioles payroll in 2021, including Chris Davis, who is -- ahem -- "injured", is $57 million according to spotrac. The Yankees? $200 million.

I guess I just realized that the Orioles real payroll, now that they've discreetly jettisoned Davis, is roughly about $24 million. That's according to spotrac, again. But....wow.

Gerrit Cole ($31M) and Giancarlo Stanton ($29M) both make more than the entire Orioles team the Yankees faced in Baltimore this week! And the O's split four games with them. I'm not sure if that tells us more about the Orioles...or the Yankees.


A golf hot take to finish things up. Earlier this week, the PGA of America announced they were adding Rickie Fowler and John Catlin to the field of next month's PGA Championship at Kiawah's Ocean Course.

Now ranked 111th in the world, Rickie Fowler received a special exemption into next month's PGA Championship at the Ocean Course.

For starters, it's important to note the PGA of America typically hands out 8-10 "special exemptions" to players who otherwise aren't qualified. They generally do this more for tournament preparation than anything else. Given the nature of the club professionals who play in the event, they're trying to balance out the number of PGA Tour players with the number of club professionals.

Anyway...Fowler is in and so, too, is Catlin.

Here's the crazy part. Actually, two crazy parts.

Fowler is currently ranked 111th in the world. I get it, he's having a down couple of years. Catlin is ranked 82nd in the world.

I follow golf and the PGA Tour as much as anyone I know. I'm not saying I follow it more than everyone in the world, but I follow it on a daily basis. And I'm pretty sure I've never heard of John Catlin before. He's currently playing on the European Tour because, well, he's not good enough to play on the PGA Tour.

Catlin hasn't played a TOUR event since 2019.

Why am I bringing this up?

To simply say: How on earth is John Catlin ranked HIGHER than Rickie Fowler in golf's world rankings? Again, I understand Fowler's recent form hasn't been great. But he plays on the PGA Tour full time, won an event back in 2019, and has played decently from time to time over the last 12 months, even if he's dropped significantly in rankings, money list, etc.

Who on earth is John Catlin?

And why does the PGA of America feel compelled to give him a free ride into the PGA Championship?

I'm not saying it's going to happen or anything like that, but Rickie Fowler has the "career quality" to contend at the PGA Championship, just as he has done before. John Catlin will be lucky to make the cut, let alone contend.

I swear, I have no idea who John Catlin is and he's somehow 82nd in the world rankings. So weird...

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faith in sports


This week's edition of "Faith in Sports" is an awesome 6 minute sitdown with Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney. Swinney has long been a supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other sports ministries.

As always, we give special thanks to our friends at Freestate Electric for supporting #DMD and our weekly "Faith in Sports" component.


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Thursday
April 29
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#2439


tonight's the night


If we could incorporate some music into this morning's edition of #DMD we'd throw some Rod Stewart your way.

"Tonight's the night..."

No, I'm not talking about the Orioles trying to wiggle their way out of last place after Wednesday's 7-0 home shellacking at the hands of the Yankees.

By the way, not to change the subject, but no analysis is really needed from last night. The Orioles recorded 4 hits and gave up 7 runs and didn't score any. That's a recipe for losing every time. I'll stop here or risk being accused of "piling on".

On a side note, David's piece below today is especially excellent. He always figures out a way to shoot a couple under par every Monday and Thursday, but today's a "65" in my book. Please check it out.

Anyway, back to what really matters in town tonight: The NFL Draft.

The Ravens have pick #27 and pick #31. Predicting the Draft is like filling out your NCAA basketball bracket. As soon as one of your Sweet 16 teams loses on Thursday or Friday, you're done. And as soon as someone goes at #6 tonight who wasn't supposed to go at #6, the whole thing gets goofy.

But since you asked...

Will Jaelan Phillips be another "U" product who turns out to be a success story in Baltimore?

"Officially", I think the Ravens are going to wind up taking Jaelan Phillips from the University of Miami. I think they'd like to select Rashod Bateman of Minnesota or Alijah Vera-Tucker of USC but neither will be there at #27.

So, Phillips it will be, as the Ravens look to replace Matthew Judon and improve their pass rush.

My hunch is -- with no second round picks at all -- that the Ravens will trade out of 31 and begin the process of accumulating an additional pick or two that will bring their draft haul to 11 players rather than the 9 they currently own.

"Officially", the Ravens make a deal for that 31st pick and pick up a 2nd round selection (late 30's?) and an early 3rd round pick (70's?). That's what I'm figuring, anyway.

One thing I'm not going to do here today is bore you with a 1-32 first round mock draft. I'm not nearly interested enough to do that, for starters, and if you're not "mocked out" by now, you really are a fiend for the draft. So, there are a gazillion mock drafts on the internet. Have at it.

But what I will do, is tell you who I think the Ravens will select over the next three days. That's worth doing. I have no idea if I'll be right, but I never know if the lottery numbers I choose each week are right either, yet I keep on playing.

So...here's who I see the Ravens selecting. I'm going to list 11 players because I think they'll make enough trades along the way to eventually get to 11 selections.

Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami

Walker Little, OL, Stanford

Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse

Nico Collins, WR, Michigan

Hunter Long, TE, Boston College

Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina

Joshua Kaindoh, EDGE, Florida State

Jacob Harris, WR, Central Florida

Shakur Brown, CB, Michigan State

Larry Borom, OL, Missouri

Cole Van Lanen, OL, Wisconsin

Drafted out yet?

You better not be. We have three days of reactions to come.


Last weekend we wrote about the phenomenal start to the 2021 season for Jacob deGrom of the Mets.

Well, he did it again last night and so, too, did the Mets.

deGrom started at home against the Red Sox and went 6 innings, allowing 1 earned run, 3 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 9 Boston hitters along the way.

And...........he got the loss in a 1-0 Red Sox win.

In his last 188 starts, deGrom has now allowed 1 earned run or less in 90 of them. Last night was the 33rd time in his career that deGrom has allowed 1 earned run or loss and suffered the loss. Oh, those Mets bats...

Through one month of the season, the Mets ace is on pace to record a historic season on the mound. We'll wait until we see how he does in 5 starts in May before we start looking that much ahead, but right now, with an 0.51 ERA, you can start to see what kind of year is shaping up for him.

Clayton Kerhsaw threw 7 innings of shutout baseball on Wednesday but will his Dodgers be able to hold off the Padres in 2021?

deGrom will wind up in the Hall of Fame someday. In a weird kind of way, the offensive futility of the Mets over the last few years actually aids deGrom's quest for Cooperstown. It shows him in a unique light. He's a pitcher with incredible stuff who has 72 career wins (at this point) that would have more like 95 victories if his team's offense was even a little bit productive.

But when his career ends and he has somewhere around 150 victories (maybe), what will stand out will be his strikeout totals, ERA and the fact that he can't pitch and hit for his team. Well, in the N.L. you actually can hit and help yourself, but you know what I mean.

While we wait for our team in Baltimore to extricate themselves out of this period of "Unconcerned Losing" and since analysis of this season is apparently taboo in these parts, it's fun to check out the rest of MLB to follow the storylines that are developing thus far:

San Diego and Los Angeles in the NL West is going to be a hoot all summer long. They're 7 games into a 19-game series. It's must-watch baseball.

Can the Red Sox continue their winning ways or will the Yankees eventually take over in the A.L. East?

And what of the Oakland A's, who have already put together a 13-game winning streak in 2021? Are they legit? They do this every year, it seems. (I know they don't, but it seems like they do). They figure out a way to win 90 games without any players on the team we've heard of before.

And is deGrom on his way to a legendary, record setting season in New York? Can he somehow put together a sub-2.00 ERA over 32 starts? And if the Mets stay in the playoff race through September or even make the post-season, could deGrom become the first pitcher since Kershaw in 2014 to win the MVP and Cy Young awards in the same season?


As a number of you will note, there was some more house cleaning early this morning in the comments section. Most of you don't care, a few of you will bellyache about it and, well, on we go. We'll do the same some and dance in another couple of weeks, I'm sure.

If you can't comment on the content here, please just don't comment. If, today, you want to offer commentary on the draft or baseball or the Orioles, have at it. If you can't contribute something semi-intelligent, at the least, just move along. We'll miss you but we'll still think of you fondly.

Those aren't new rules, of course. They've been around for going on seven years now. But they sure do seem like they're hard to follow, for reasons that are beyond me.

Every few days now I stop by and mop up the area. And, honestly, it's fine. I don't have an intern right now to stay on top of the comments section and my schedule for the last couple of weeks hasn't allowed for me to stay vigilant during the day.

I even wiped out the Calvert Hall Golf updates that some of you seem compelled to post. If anyone wants to follow along with the progress of the Cardinals, you can do so on Twitter (@calverthallgolf). Please don't use #DMD to post score updates about Calvert Hall Golf.

And, more honesty here, I've sorta-kinda exhausted myself with asking you guys to be decent in the comments section. For those of you who are, I appreciate you (more than you know). For those of you who just swoop in every day or multiple times a day to fan the flames, I've run out of energy asking you to be a reasonable contributor.

So, for the time being, keep on posting what you want and fan the flames whenever you want and every few days I'll get a half hour to sit down and read through everything and I'll eliminate what I find to be in poor taste and we'll just go from there.

By mid-May, I'll settle in and start working on a permanent solution to "fixing" a long-standing issue here. I'm not mad. I realize there are people who come here because they like what I do and there are people who come here who don't like what I do. It is what is. I'll figure it out in a few weeks.

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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.


much ado about nothing


Major League Baseball, including the Orioles obviously, has started asking fans about their political affiliation in surveys about the ballpark experience. I believe this was mentioned here at #DMD last week, mostly because it seems like an odd thing to ask. How was the food? What do you think of the gameday staff? Did you stay for the entire game? Are you a Democrat or Republican?

Not surprisingly, this subject has caused the usual social media outrage. I’ve seen more than a few friends (Facebook friends, I should say) state that they’ll never attend a game again, and probably won’t watch on television either! I guess that comes in some way from this idea that MLB is just another “woke” mob, though I’m not really sure. And I’m not sure the players need to be blamed for this one—I don’t think Trey Mancini had anything to do with the survey.

I don’t get the outrage, and I think it’s a real stretch to think that the league is going to use this information for some kind of nefarious purpose. Can we not go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy in every part of our lives?

Yes, baseball moved the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia as a reaction to changes in the state’s voting laws. Yes, I’m sure that decision created a “favorability” gap between Democrats and Republicans. But MLB started asking this question six months ago during the 2020 postseason, and they did it mainly (I think) because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s not baseball’s fault that a person’s self-identified political affiliation impacts his or her views on the pandemic and the response to it. It’s sad that it’s come to that, and it’s really sad when you start hearing what I heard yesterday—which is that some people who otherwise would get a vaccine won’t get one simply because they want to make the other side mad by not getting vaccinated. Seriously.

Also, completing a survey is completely voluntary, as is answering any individual survey question. People will leave questions about their ethnicity blank, or check “I’d rather not say,” so they can do the same thing here. The political affiliation question is no more of an invasion of your privacy than any other question in an anonymous survey, and MLB is hardly the only organization that asks the question.

I’m not suggesting that MLB and other sports organizations haven’t been wading into social and political activism recently, or that said fact isn’t a slippery slope. Teams painted “BLM” on the back of pitcher’s mounds, and not just because if you look at it from behind, you could interpret it as MLB. And I’m certainly not saying that doing things like that will actually help people who need help.

I’m just saying that they’re looking for demographic information, and political affiliation has become that more than ever before. That’s not baseball’s fault, and they’d be silly for not using it to their advantage from a business perspective.


LeBron James sent out a Tweet recently, which he does pretty frequently. This one he deleted, but someone grabs it immediately and it doesn’t really matter if you delete it eventually. In response to the deadly police shooting of a 16-year-old in Ohio, his Tweet was a photo of the officer with a caption reading “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”

Video from body cameras showed that the teenager was armed with a knife and was trying to stab two others. The officer can be heard yelling “Get down!” repeatedly before firing the fatal shots. All indications are that the officer had to make a quick decision to save a person’s life from a deadly attack by another. I’m guessing many police officers have been forced to make similar decisions, ones that I’m sure are even more difficult when someone so young is involved.

James is taking a lot of heat for his Tweet, and I understand it. If he knew the situation better before responding, he probably wouldn’t have posted to begin with. His choice of words (and all caps) almost made it sound like he was threatening the officer with violence, when I’m sure he meant that he believed this officer should face the justice system, not a firing squad.

That’s why I don’t get the outrage. Maybe LeBron could apologize for jumping to conclusions about this particular police-involved incident, but he (his words) is just “so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police.” Whatever you think of that, he thought that before this incident, and he’s going to continue to think that.

LeBron is an interesting case. For the first seven years of his career, nobody said much about him besides praise for how great he was and how he’d lived up to the hype. He singlehandedly took otherwise-mediocre Cleveland teams to the edge of glory. That changed in 2010 after his “decision,” not the actual decision to sign with Miami but “The Decision,” the ESPN televised special that blew up on him in a bad way. For four years with the Heat, he was almost a villain, and at the very least was called out for creating a “superteam” for himself in the hope of winning a title.

When he returned to Cleveland, public opinion softened on the guy, and not just in Northeast Ohio. Then, unlike the first time, the Cavaliers actually won the NBA title with LeBron in 2016. When he left for the Lakers in 2018, nobody was really mad at him…until it seemed like he cared more about all of the other things he’s doing with his money besides playing basketball, like owning part of the Red Sox.

These days, it’s seems like police officers nationally are the ones that have the most to say about LeBron, as opposed to disgruntled Ohioans. There is one bar in Cincinnati, however, that says it refuses to televise any NBA game right now because of LeBron’s tweet. I’m sure he doesn’t care about that, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t think before he speaks.


I’m not gonna say that the Orlando Brown trade is much ado about nothing. If you ask me if I’d rather have Ronnie Stanley at left tackle and Brown at right tackle in 2021 as opposed to Stanley at left tackle and some other guy at right tackle, I’d take the former.

That being said, I’ve been amazed at some of the national media reaction, a lot of which has boiled down to this: The Chiefs are the Ravens biggest obstacle to AFC supremacy! How could Eric DeCosta do something that so clearly makes that particular team better?!

It’s true that the Ravens will be playing the Chiefs for the fourth season in a row in 2021. It’s true that the Ravens haven’t won any of the previous three games, and have actually been less competitive each year. It’s true that the Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl the last two years and the Ravens haven’t made it out of the divisional round.

None of that means that the Chiefs are the only team that matters to the Ravens, or that those two teams are somehow in their own league, or that the Ravens can’t get better by trading with Kansas City like they could get better by trading with Dallas.

Kansas City is one game on the schedule…out of 17 games now, not 16. The extra game (this year against the Rams) actually balances the schedule slightly more than before—every team will play five games against the other conference and only four against their intra-conference division for that year.

The Chiefs are an outstanding offensive unit led by a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a great offensive mind at head coach. Even if Orlando Brown is a great left tackle, which he hasn’t proven yet, I don’t know how much his presence improves that already-impressive group.

Plus, the Ravens simply don’t play that game of keeping up with the Joneses or being jealous of some other team’s star power. As much as the Pittsburgh rivalry matters, for instance, I don’t think Ozzie and company have ever made any decision with “we’re doing this to beat the Steelers” as the only thing in mind.

This seems like the right move for the Chiefs. Kansas City cut their 2020 starting tackles this offseason, and the last vision many Chiefs fans have of the great Patrick Mahomes is him running for his life during the Super Bowl. No doubt Brown is better right now than an offensive lineman Kansas City might have selected with the No. 31 pick they traded to the Ravens.

As for the Ravens, they made a calculated decision to jettison Brown by trade before his contract ended as opposed to letting him walk by free agency after the end of his deal. Brown wasn’t joking when he said he’s a left tackle, and the Ravens weren’t joking when they said they had a great left tackle already.

Whatever happens, I’m ok with the Brown trade, no matter who the trade partner.

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Wednesday
April 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2438


here's what i think


You might think differently, but here's how I see it.

Baseball is a 9-inning game. That Major League Baseball has decided to truncate doubleheaders into two, 7-inning affairs is all well and good, even if I think, a year later, they've jumped the shark at this point.

But by and large, baseball games are 9 innings unless weather or some other element shortens the contest.

Lucas Giolito of the White Sox pitched a no-hitter last August. And it counted because it was 9 innings, not 7 innings.

Last weekend, Madison Bumgarner threw a 7-inning no hitter against the Braves, except it's not being officially counted as a no-hitter. The reason? It wasn't 9 innings.

Those in favor of calling it a no-no, officially, point to a hitter's stats in a 7-inning game and say "if his stats count in 7 innings, shouldn't a pitcher's as well?"

Yes, they should. In fact, a pitcher's stats do count in a 7-inning game. His strikeouts and walks count, his earned runs allowed count, even his "win" or "loss" counts.

But he didn't pitch a no-hitter, in my mind, because he didn't accomplish the feat in a 9-inning game. Pretty simple if you ask me.

The Diamondbacks are pressing MLB to count Bumgarner's feat as a no-hitter and numerous other players around baseball are urging the league to do it as well.

I love the effort. But it's not a no hitter. No hitters have to be thrown over 9 innings (or more). Case in point. In his next start, John Means allows no hits over 7 innings of work before being removed. In the 8th inning, a relief pitcher allows a hit. Didn't John Means just throw a no-hitter? I mean, he allowed no hits in 7 innings of work.

Alas, we all know in that situation Means didn't throw a no-hitter. And neither did Bumgarner. Nice effort, though.


The interest is starting to rise in Baltimore as Thursday's NFL Draft draws closer and closer. The $64,000 question is the obvious one: Given their drafting history, should the Ravens go with a wide receiver with the 27th pick or some other position?

This one is interesting. The easy, stock answer is to say "The Ravens know more about drafting football players than I do, so if they think a wide receiver is their best option, then by all means, go for it."

What's on Eric DeCosta's mind for Thursday night? Wide receiver? Rush end? Some other surprise?

But we're not in the "stock answers" business here at #DMD.

The answer to that question, actually, is "No, they shouldn't." They might have done OK with Marquise Brown a few years ago. The jury is still out on him in terms of being a bonafide franchise receiver worthy of being selected in the first round. But there are signs starting to develop that point in his favor.

Other than Brown, though, the Ravens have just been all that good at drafting receivers in the first round. That's not meant to heap criticism on them. It just is what it is. You can file this under: Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

If I'm the Ravens, I shy away from a receiver in the first round. For starters, they took two guys last year who barely played in 2020 and deserve a legitimate shot at garnering "real" playing time in 2021; James Proche and Devan Duvernay. If neither of those guys warrants being a regular contributor this season, then they were the wrong choice last April. That's my opinion, anyway.

So, with the addition of Sammy Watkins and the return of Brown, Proche and Duvernay, the Ravens have four guys at the receiver spot right now. They need others, of course, and the draft is a great way to find them. And I do think they should draft a receiver or two this week.

But I don't think -- given their history -- that drafting a wide receiver with the 27th or 31st pick is an ideal move for the Ravens.

I'm sure Eric DeCosta would take umbrage with that statement and I understand why he would. The Ravens, though, have a legitimate draft history to reflect on and it's easy to decipher. They're very good at picking offensive and defensive linemen and not very good at picking wide receivers. As the great Ian Eagle of CBS Sports once said about empty Oriole Park at Camden Yards, "They don't play baseball in Baltimore in October these days. That's not a low blow...it's...just a fact."

It's not intended to be a low blow when I say the Ravens should steer clear of a wide receiver in the first round. Instead, it's an urging for DeCosta and Company to just do what they do best. Get some help at two other positions -- a defensive edge and offensive lineman would be great -- in the first round and save the wide receiver chase for the 3rd or 4th round.


I realize any remark about Orioles attendance here gets me in hot water with folks who are easily offended, but I can't get over that 6,662 was the crowd last night on the most perfect night for baseball ever invented.

A week or so ago, a friend engaged me in a conversation about the attendance in which I was actually the supporter of the Orioles and he was the one putting his foot down.

"Sparse" is the word at Camden Yards these days. 6,662 showed up on Tuesday night for the Yankees-Orioles game.

When I mentioned something about one of the Red Sox home games having a crowd of 9,000 (and change) that I thought that was "impressive given the capacity limits of just over 11,000" he poo-poo'd that notion and remarked that the capacity has no bearing whatsoever on the crowd and the judgment of its "quality".

"9,000 people is 9,000 people," he said. "It would be different if they were maxing out their Covid capacity every night. 11,000 would be the most they could fit in the stadium. If they fit 11,000 in there, they would be howling to city officials to open up the limits more so they could get 16,000 or 20,000 in there."

I disagreed with him, but, it's here where I should note he has a business degree from Villanova and masters in economics from Boston College. I'm just a guy from Glen Burnie who only understands math when I add up scores on the front nine. "3, plus 4, plus 4, plus 4, plus 5, plus 3, plus 4, plus 3, plus 5 equals 35." For good measure, I always add it up a second time to make sure I'm right.

In other words, I know when people are smarter than me and my friend is smarter than me.

But now I circle back to last night and I can't help but wonder how on earth only 6,662 were in the stadium to see the game?

Editor's note: We were told last weekend that offering commentary and insight on Orioles games this year is "insane" so we continue to avoid telling you what happened and why. We certainly would prefer not to be "insane". So you can find the score elsewhere, but I can tell you in advance that it didn't go well last night at the ballpark.

Anyway, my friend shot me a text last night around 10:15 pm and said, "Nice crowd at OP tonight."

Editor's note 2: I've known no one but my friend who refers to the Oriole Park as "OP". I hate it. To me, "OP" will always stand for "Ocean Pacific" apparel, which was all the rage in the 1980's. Anyway...it's OPACY, not OP.

"No comment," I said in his reply to his text.

"None needed," he shot back. "The Blast would have drawn 6,000 people tonight at the Arena."

I didn't feel like arguing with him about that and I know he was just trying to make a point, but I'm not so sure the Blast could have drawn 6,000 last night. In the old days of the Blast, circa 1985, sure, we would have drawn 9,000 or 10,000 for a late April playoff game. But that was nearly 40 years ago.

Anyway, 6,662 on a perfect Tuesday night, to see the Yankees, was terrible. I'll admit that much. I don't get it. I don't understand it. And let's be honest, we're not even sure 6,662 was the real number. The Orioles have occasionally been guilty of reporting some, let's say, suspicious numbers over the years.

Maybe it's just the fact that people are still scared of Covid-19, even though we've been told for a year now that wearing a mask and staying at least six feet away from people is the magic elixir. And, to their credit, the Orioles have done a nice job of Covid-proofing the ballpark as much as they physically can.

But how on earth can only 6,662 people show up on an 80 degree Tuesday night in late April to see the Yankees?

It has to be Covid related. That's my only guess. It just has to be the fact that people still don't want to venture out.

"Community lethargy," my friend Brandon said when I asked him that question. "The team has become an afterthought for the most part. There's more discussion in social media about the Ravens draft than the Orioles game against the Yankees."

When I pointed out to him that plenty of other teams around Major League Baseball are also drawing crowds of 7,000 or 8,000, he said, "The Orioles love lapdogs like you who compare what they do to everyone else."

I told him to expect to get slapped around at #DMD today and he laughed.

"Ask all of them why they didn't go on Tuesday night..." he wrote.


Back to the Ravens for a second. John Harbaugh said on the Rich Eisen Show yesterday that the team is going to pick up Lamar Jackson's 5th year option later this week, which means his salary will go up from $1.7 million this season to $23.1 million in 2022.

If you think Lamar's dancing now, wait until he makes $23.1 million next season.

It had been suggested late last week by NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks that the Ravens should consider moving up in the draft to select a quarterback -- he suggested Justin Fields -- and allow Jackson's contract to end after this season. Brooks called it "graduating", if that makes sense.

Baltimore football fans went ballistic, of course. The mere notion that the club would allow Jackson to test free agency after this coming season is nonsense, folks contended.

Whether Brooks was serious or just looking for clicks and activity is the question...but even hinting at the Ravens moving up in the draft to take a quarterback so they can allow Lamar Jackson to "graduate" after four years is about the dumbest thing any analyst in any sport has ever authored.

It's beyond dumb. I'd label it "career endangerment" kind of stuff. You really want me to consider you "legitimate" as a NFL expert when your idea is for the Ravens to squander all of their draft capital to select a quarterback who may or may not pan out in exchange for a quarterback who has already panned out and is in just his 4th year in the league?

C'mon man. You have to be better next time.

Now, if you want to argue that Lamar Jackson's $23.1 million contract for 2022 might hamstring the team, I won't argue that point. And that's why the Ravens will have an extension with Lamar ironed out way before the 2022 season begins and that's why he won't cost the Ravens $23.1 million next season.

"We laughed at the story," was the only comment I received from a Ravens official when I reached out to him and asked what the internal reaction was when they read the Bucky Brooks theory.

I figured they would. It was...a laughable idea from the start.

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Tuesday
April 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2437


there's still a draft in the air


Before we delve back into the NFL Draft and the Ravens potential haul in the first round, let's handle a few things here that could be of interest to local sports fans.

A few certain baseball teams that most people figured would be terrible had nice wins on Monday night and are starting to surprise the experts. It's only late April, but maybe we should be taking notice.

Kansas City improved to 14-7 with a 3-2 victory in Detroit on Monday, completing a three-game sweep of the Tigers. I get it, the Tigers are nothing great, but a road sweep is a road sweep. And the Royals are somehow leading the A.L. Central a month into the campaign. There's a long way to go...

Newcomer Carlos Santana hit his 5th homer of the season on Monday as the surprising Royals finished off a 3-game sweep in Detroit.

And speaking of a long way to go, the A's are rolling in the A.L. West at 15-8 after a 2-1 win in Tampa Bay last night. Sean Manaea got the win for the visitors to improve his record to 3-1 on the season with an excellent 2.83 ERA to go with it. Oakland started the season 1-7, you might remember, before reeling off 13 straight wins. After losing on Sunday to an A.L. East team, they bounced right back last night with a nail-biting win in Florida.

Oh, and don't look now, but the Giants (15-8) continue to surprise everyone out in the N.L. West, where they're now tied for the division lead with the Dodgers after they won on Monday (12-0 over Colorado) and the Dodgers lost to visiting Cincinnati (5-3 in 10). Everyone just assumed it was L.A.-San Diego in the West -- and it might wind up being that way by September -- but the Giants are playing impressive baseball thus far in 2021.


If you haven't heard or read the news about the situation at LSU, you might want to take 10 minutes today and check it out.

We're generally not in the business of linking other sports websites here. I can't remember the last time, for example, ESPN's website linked #DMD. But the story is making the rounds and easy to find.

In a word, what has happened at LSU over the last 8 years is: disturbing.

The parents of the girls who have been victimized probably have a different word than "disturbed". But make no mistake about it, what's happened down there has been terrible.

I said this a decade or so ago (maybe longer) when I was on the radio and a massive story broke out about academic corruption at the University of North Carolina, where football players were found to be missing classes (like, for semesters at a time) and having tests taken for them, plus other forms of educational malpractice within the athletic department: The only way to truly get these schools on the straight and narrow is to shut the entire athletic department down for a lengthy period...like 3 years, at least.

What happened at LSU fits the bill, in my eyes, of that very punishment. If these accusations are true (important to note that), then all sports at LSU should go dark for a period of 3 years. Sure, innocent students and coaches get punished for that. That's a shame. Collateral damage is no fun for those who feel its impact. But this isn't about the student-athletes or the coaches. It's about the entire university having to pay the price for the treatment of those young women who were mistreated.

When LSU can no longer host football games with 90,000 people in the stadium or basketball games with 20,000 people in the arena, maybe, finally, they'll get the message. It might take a couple of years for the message to sink in, but their athletic bank account will help it register.

Yesterday's lawsuit listed the following claims: "That LSU, its athletic department and the Tiger Athletic Foundation "funded and implemented a purposefully deficient sexual misconduct and Title IX reporting scheme" separate from the university's official Title IX office to keep legitimate sexual assault claims within the athletic department.

This scheme stymied LSU's overall Title IX reporting system, successfully insulated coaches and players within LSU's athletic programs from legitimate sexual assault claims, and allowed the programs to continue operating unhindered to reach levels of success the program wouldn't have reached otherwise," it states.

Send a message to LSU and every other school in the country that this type of behavior will ultimately wind up crushing you if it's discovered. Shut LSU down and start sending that message.


As we chronicled here yesterday, the Ravens are set up for an awesome night of talent collection on Thursday when they choose twice in the first round of the NFL Draft.

We listed five players yesterday we think the Ravens would be interested in at 27, although a couple of them could even be there at 31 (Eichenberg and Tryon, perhaps?) as well. The Ravens acquired that 31st pick in the first round through the trade for Orlando Brown last week. Whether they use that selection to simply take an offensive lineman that replaces Brown is anyone's guess.

While we're going to list some guys who will likely be available at 31, the "official" thought here is that the Ravens -- without a second round pick at all and not selecting again until #94 (3rd round) -- will trade out of 31 and get a high 2nd round pick and, perhaps, even a high 3rd round selection as well. As it stands now, the Ravens have 9 picks to make this week.

But there are some very interesting names who might be there at 31. Some of what happens at 31 -- if the Ravens choose a player there -- will depend on what happens at 27. If they take Rashod Bateman at 27, for example, they're not going to take another wide receiver at 31. If they take an Edge rusher at 27, they won't take one at 31 as well.

Here are five names that might fit perfectly in that 31st slot on Thursday night.

Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue -- If Bateman's gone by 27 and the Ravens go in another direction, positionally, the oft-injured Moore could be the guy at 31. The only knock on him in college? Injuries. Other than that, he was an eye-catching pass catcher when healthy. He is as talented as any receiver (granted, this year is a relatively thin class) but staying injury free in the NFL will make or break him (no pun intended).

Another Alabama draft pick for the Ravens? Alex Leatherwood might just wind up in purple on Thursday night.

Trevon Moehring, S, TCU -- Generally regarded as the top safety in the Draft, Moehring wouldn't be a surprise at 31. The Ravens, as we know, covet secondary players in the first round and Moehring would give them a nice anchor in the defensive backfield with Marlon Humphrey.

Alex Leatherwood, OL, Alabama -- Leatherwood is popping up at 31 in a lot of mock drafts. His stock dropped a bit in 2021 and he's from Alabama. The Ravens are great at sniffing out talented players who might have slipped in the draft order for whatever reason plus, you might have heard, they do like to draft Alabama football players. Leatherwood makes sense here, as long as the Ravens don't somehow get Vera-Tucker with the 27th pick.

Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan -- There's another connection with Mayfield, obviously. The head coach of the Ravens has a brother who happens to coach at Michigan. Mayfield and Leatherwood were both at one point last year thought to be top 15 talent, but now late first-round seems like they're both destined to land.

Jayson Oweh, Edge, Penn State -- If the Ravens go offense at 27, it stands to reason they'd go defense at 31. And Oweh might be the best available player remaining at that spot on Thursday night. At 6'5", 257, he could be turned into a quarterback-chasing phenom by Wink Martindale. Quick and long-armed, Oweh shows up on a lot of mock drafts in the 31st spot for the Ravens.

We'll get more into it on Thursday here at #DMD, but our thought is that Bateman is the player the Ravens want at 27. We're reading a bit into Eric DeCosta's wide receiver comments at the recent Liar's Luncheon where the team's GM took a swipe at the fan base for being critical of the team's current crop of pass catchers.

That sort of public declaration is not DeCosta's style. For starters, DeCosta couldn't care less what the fans say or think. Next, speaking out, directly, about a position within the organization just doesn't make any sense, particularly leading up to the draft.

There's lots of posturing that goes on amongst the teams and their personnel folks in the weeks prior to the draft. The guess here is that the team's GM wanted that message to get out so, perhaps, other teams around the league might sense that the Ravens aren't gung-ho for a receiver at 27. It's called, of course, a "smoke screen", which every team uses every April to try and paint a different picture of themselves.

We think Bateman's the guy at 27 if he's there. If not, and assuming Vera-Tucker would also be gone at 27, then Jaelan Phillips (rush end) from Miami makes the most sense.

More to come on Thursday.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


americans abroad


This week was relatively uneventful for Americans in Europe, despite many getting playing time for their clubs. Two US players went head to head in a critical game in Germany. Christian Pulisic continued his solid run of form in two big games for Chelsea.

In addition, a couple of Americans helped their teams bring home cup trophies this weekend. We’ll take a quick look at those highlights then preview the upcoming Champions League semifinals and wrap up with some commentary on the European Super League mega story.

This was a double header week for the German Bundesliga, with midweek and weekend games as the season races to the finish line. Both John Brooks and Gio Reyna started and helped their teams to wins in the midweek matches, with Reyna putting in an especially positive performance. That setup a critical showdown on Saturday between their teams, third place Wolfsburg and fifth place Borussia Dortmund.

Both Americans started in the game though neither played a key role in determining the result. Erling Haaland stole the show with two goals to lead Dortmund to a 2-0 victory. Reyna did apply defensive pressure that helped force the turnover that led to the first goal. John Brooks was put in a bad position by a poor back pass and Haaland intercepted the ball behind him and scored past the keeper.

It wasn’t a great day for Brooks as it was his pass that was broken up and led to the counter attack for Dortmund’s second goal. The Dortmund win, along with an Eintracht Frankfurt loss on Saturday, tightens the three team race for the final two Champions League spots. Wolfsburg remains in third place, now only one point ahead of Frankfurt and two ahead of Dortmund.

In the English Premier League, Christian Pulisic started both of Chelsea’s games during the week. He had a few bright moments but was mostly kept quiet in the midweek 0-0 draw with Brighton, but he bounced back with a solid performance in an important 1-0 win over West Ham on Saturday.

The win was crucial for Chelsea as they entered the game tied with West Ham for the fourth and final Champions League spot in the Premier League. With the three points Chelsea now hold the fourth spot and control their own destiny. Pulisic helped to create the lone goal with a well weighted pass out to the flank that set up left back Ben Chilwell’s cross, scored by Timo Werner. Chelsea will now turn their focus to their monumental clash with Real Madrid in today’s Champions League semifinal first leg.

The other big game in England this weekend was the final of the Carabao League Cup, one of the two main cup competitions in England. American goalie Zack Steffen got the start for Manchester City as they faced Tottenham. Steffen’s day was pretty quiet as City dominated possession throughout the game and kept Tottenham from generating many dangerous chances. However Steffen was up for the task when called upon, making a nice diving save early in the second half to keep the game scoreless. Man City eventually found a goal on a late Aymeric Laporte header and won the game 1-0 to take home the cup. Steffen became the fourth American to win the League Cup in England.

In Belgium, 22 year old American center back Mark McKenzie made a late cameo appearance for his new club Genk as they closed out a 2-1 win over Standard Liege to take home the Belgian Cup trophy.

In other action around Europe, Tyler Adams started both games for RB Leipzig during the week, one loss and one win. Chris Richards started in a win and a draw for Hoffenheim. Josh Sargent started in two losses for Werder Bremen. Sergino Dest started in a key 2-1 win for Barcelona on Sunday.

Yunus Musah started in a loss and a draw for Valencia. Weston McKennie started in a 3-1 win over Parma and was a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Fiorentina for Juventus. Brenden Aaronson played in a loss and a win for RB Salzburg. And finally, Daryl Dike scored a goal with an acrobatic overhead kick for Barnsley and helped them clinch a playoff spot.

The Champions League semifinals begin today with Real Madrid and Chelsea. Chelsea will travel to Madrid for the first leg of the matchup. The reigning Spanish champions are slight favorites to advance from this matchup, despite missing a couple of key players, including team captain Sergio Ramos. This is likely to be the more measured and defensive of the two semifinals, as Chelsea have become especially difficult to break down under Thomas Tuchel and Zidane’s Madrid are known for grinding out low scoring victories in big games.

The battle in midfield will be key in this one, with Madrid boasting one of the top midfield trios in Europe. They will look to veterans Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to unlock the Chelsea defense while the London side will rely on the energy and industry of N’Golo Kante to harass them. Casemiro will be critical in breaking up Chelsea counter attacks and providing some physicality to knock the Chelsea attackers off their games.

Mason Mount has emerged as a top midfielder in England this year and Chelsea will need a good performance from him to help maintain possession and find counterattacking opportunities. Chrisitan Pulisic comes into this game in his best form of the season and is likely to start the game for Chelsea and provide a focal point for their attack.

Wednesday features the other semifinal between Manchester City and Paris St. Germain. This is the best matchup of the season thus far, with the current runaway Premier League champions facing last season’s Champions League runners up. Both of these teams have plenty of star power and a plethora of creative attackers. This one should produce some entertaining, attacking soccer. These teams prefer to dominate possession but each is comfortable playing with or without the ball. PSG may choose to allow Man City the possession advantage in the hopes of springing Kylian Mbappe or Neymar behind the defense on counterattacks.

For Man City, key offseason addition Reuben Dias has solidified their defense and will need to keep them alert and organized to deal with the speed and skill of the PSG attack. On the other side of the ball, Premier League and European player of the year candidate, Kevin De Bruyne, will be the creative hub for the Man City attack. He is equally dangerous bursting through the midfield in transition or delivering pinpoint crosses behind a set defense.

Young English midfielder Phil Foden and Portuguese fullback Joao Cancelo bring dynamism to Man City with their ability to shift between multiple positions and create numerical advantages. This could provide a matchup advantage against the relatively inexperienced PSG fullbacks.

Lastly, now that the dust has settled on the European Super League fiasco, here is my take. There were obviously many flaws with the particular plan that was proposed, foremost of which was the lack of support from the fans and the players. This was mostly due to the plan’s removal of the entrenched structure of promotion/relegation that is sacrosanct in European soccer

The idea that these clubs thought they didn’t need to earn their way in was distasteful (especially considering the league position of several of them). It was pretty astonishing how poorly planned and executed the whole idea was. If I were a fan of teams like Leicester City or Bayer Leverkusen I would have been enraged.

However, as an American with no real allegiance to any one team in Europe, I do like the idea of seeing the best teams and players competing against each other more often than they do in the current Champions League format. All fans of European soccer would agree that the highest and most entertaining level of the game is the later stages of the Champions League, so the idea of providing more games at that competition level should not be dismissed in and of itself, even if this particular plan was not the right way to make it happen.

Perhaps someday in the future the right balance of tradition, competitive balance, nationalism, and revenue sharing will be found to create this kind of league, but that may be very far off after the backlash from last week.

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Monday
April 26
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#2436


anyone feel a draft?


I would have loved to start this Monday off with a little gloating about the Orioles and their -------- wait ------- I'll stop right there.

While watching the Dodgers/Padres thriller on Sunday night, I perused the comments here at #DMD and saw that "breaking down the performance" of this year's O's team is apparently, as someone suggested, "insane".

Who knew?

A few weeks back some folks beat me up for not writing about the team and the games. It's very confusing.

Alas, I'll give in to recent patron pressure today and not re-hash yesterday's game with the Athletics. If you want the details and insight, you can find them on the internet somewhere, I'm guessing. Then again, if you don't care enough about this season of "Unconcerned Losing" to read about it here, why then would you go somewhere else to read about it?

Like I wrote earlier, it's very confusing. But if we keep on acting like the Orioles aren't playing, it will be football season soon enough, which is what most people in town crave anyway.

So...here's one thing we can't avoid this week: the NFL Draft.

If USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker is available at 27 on Thursday night, would the Ravens grab him?

The Ravens own a pair of picks in Thursday night's first round but you'll have to stay up late -- barring a trade to a better pick -- to see who they select. The Ravens own the 27th and 31st selections on Thursday evening, which means they should be able to get themselves two high quality rookies with that haul.

Who are they taking? Well, you've come to the right place.

More times than not, the maniacs who post eight different mock drafts over a 10-week period wind up more wrong than right. There was, of course, the year the Ravens selected Ronnie Stanley. Virtually everyone had that one right. But no one suspected Hayden Hurst or Marlon Humphrey. You just never know.

That said, there are several first-round possibilities for the Ravens who make sense. Whether they're available at 27 is a discussion point. Might the Ravens have to move up, say, 3 or 4 spots to get someone they really want vs. someone they're impressed with? They do have a small history of moving up when the need and special opportunity presents itself, but the organization's general philosophy is to trade back and gather picks over trading up and losing them.

Anyway, let's look at five college prospects that the Ravens are likely interested in with the 27th pick. Whether they're available, as we noted above, is all part of the game. And, keep in mind, right after 27, they can pick again at #31 (which we'll detail here tomorrow).

The names below are in no specific order.

Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame -- OK, so I'm cheating a bit on this one as I happen to know the Ravens are interested in Eichenberg. Whether he's worthy of the 27th pick (some mocks have him at 32-33 and others have him in the 29-25 range) is another story, but the Ravens are interested in him as a guard-tackle combo of sorts. Perhaps he's available at both 27 and 31? One other thing I've heard from Owings Mills: The addition of Kevin Zeitler in the off-season was done with the thought of the veteran offensive lineman mentoring a drafted player for a season, which fits in seamlessly with someone like Eichenberg or others of his ilk.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota -- This one would satisfy the "Lamar needs more weapons" camp. And it would give the Ravens -- OK, hold on here, because you've heard this before -- a potential elite pass catcher who can help satisfy the team's need to beef up the wide receiver position. Bateman has graded out high in most areas and will likely wind up getting snagged before 27, but if he's there, he makes sense for Eric DeCosta and the Ravens.

Jaelan Phillips, Edge/DE, Miami -- The Ravens have a history of taking some pretty good defensive players from "The U" and Phillips could very well be another one. With the loss of Judon and Ngakoue, Phillips certainly makes sense. The question, of course, is whether or not he's ready to step in and play a pivotal role right away. The Ravens desperately need pass rush help, so if they do go with Phillips at 27, he better be ready to step in right away. This one seems like a no-brainer if he's around at 31...but at 27? Maybe.

Alija Vera-Tucker, OL, USC -- Another Tucker? Could this one be as good as the first one...you know...the kicker? That would be nice. The consensus is Vera-Tucker is likely gone by 27, but stranger things have happened on draft day. At 6'4", 315, he's a couple of inches shorter than Ronnie Stanley, but certainly capable of holding his own physically. The Ravens need a right tackle to join forces with Stanley for the long haul. Vera-Tucker seems like a natural fit if he's around, but most folks think he'll be gone by the 24th or 25th pick.

Joe Tryon, Edge/DE, Washington -- Another one of those "bird on a tree" moments -- I hear Tryon is coveted by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. Whether he gets him or not remains to be seen, but scouts love Tryon's upside, even if his college career doesn't merit a pick at #27 in the draft. With the Ravens need at the "edge" position and Tryon's versatility of getting to the passer and dropping into coverage, don't be surprised if he's the guy they get at some point on Thursday evening.

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the case for phil mickelson at the u.s. open


There's still time for Phil Mickelson to earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in June, but the opportunities are decreasing by the week.

That's why Mickelson, this week, will do something he hasn't done since 2004. He'll play in the Valspar Championship just outside of Tampa Bay, in hopes of moving up the World Rankings so he can earn an exemption into the U.S. Open. Minutes before last Friday's 5 pm deadline, Mickelson announced he'll tee it up at the Valspar.

You can't win the U.S. Open unless you play in it...which is why Phil Mickelson is playing in Tampa Bay this week.

Mickelson has won 5 major championships in his career, but has never won the U.S. Open. The left-hander grew up in San Diego and lists Torrey Pines as one of his favorite courses to play. While it's doubtful he has the game to win a U.S. Open at 51, stranger things have happened. And the fact that it's at Torrey Pines does matter.

But Mickelson faces a dilemma of sorts. A year ago, while trying to make the field at Winged Foot (where he narrowly lost the 2006 U.S. Open), Mickelson was on record saying he wouldn't accept a "special exemption" from the United States Golf Association. The USGA generally holds a spot or two in the field for players they believe have "contributed greatly to the sport of golf while still maintaining the ability to compete at the highest level".

Mickelson certainly fits that "special exemption" criteria. And the event is in San Diego, which is a definite home game for him. And not that the USGA needs to sell more tickets, but having Mickelson there certainly adds for a unique storyline.

Maybe Phil makes it easy on the USGA and plays well enough in the next few weeks to move up the World Ranking and snag the spot on his own. Maybe Phil enters sectional qualifying, like the rest of the great unwashed, and gets in that way. Mickelson likely would have needed to qualify in the sectional tournament last year if not for Covid-19 and the move to a September date at Winged Foot. Once qualifying was shut down, Mickelson made it to the 2020 U.S. Open via the special categories that were established by the USGA.

The bet here, because it's in his hometown, is that Mickelson would accept a one-time special exemption from the USGA. Whether it's his final attempt to win the career grand slam might also matter to him. There's no reason to not tee it up one more time and try and find the magic and Torrey Pines.

There's a two part question here. Should the USGA exempt him and/or should Phil accept it?

The first answer is easy. If Phil Mickelson isn't worthy of a one-time special exemption, no one is. We're not talking about Rickie Fowler or Kevin Streelman here. We're talking about the second best golfer of the last 25 years behind Tiger Woods.

The second answer isn't so easy. Mickelson has said before taking a special exemption "isn't on my radar". But that was then. This is now. And without one, Phil might be watching from home.

And you can't complete the career grand slam from your living room.

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Sunday
April 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2435


the sunday paper


Remember those days when the Sunday paper was a big deal?

Actually, it might still be a big deal but I wouldn't know it. I honestly don't remember the last time I read the Sunday paper. But back in the day...it was definitely special.

Anyway, enjoy your Sunday. It feels like spring is here for good, although a friend of mine just mentioned they had snow in Deep Creek Lake last week.

The Orioles lost again last night, 7-2, as the Oakland Athletics posted their 13th straight win.

The announced crowd was just over 7,600, which is seemingly pretty decent considering only 11,000 are allowed in the place because of Covid-19 restrictions. On a side note, it seems kind of silly to still be doing that routine of limiting outdoor crowds, but whatever.

So while the attendance was decent, the baseball wasn't. At least not for the Orioles, anyway. The Birds are now 8-12 after starting the season 4-2. At the 16-game mark, I rolled out the possibility that the Birds could be 16-16 at the 20% mark of the campaign. I'm starting to think that was ambitious on my part.

This team still can't hit worth a lick. Wade LeBlanc was Wade LeTerrible last night, but for the most part, the O's issues aren't with starting pitching. John Means starts today and you can pretty much bank on a representative effort from him. In fact, if you're the wagering type, today's a good day to throw a few quid on the O's.

But the bats are terrible. Cedric Mullins (.329) has cooled off a smidgen over the last two weeks but that's mainly because he had to cool off. He wasn't going to hit .360 all year.

Freddy Galvis (.254) and Pedro Severino (.255) have both been better at the plate recently. Maikel Franco (.253) got off to a slow start but now he's doing what he normally does. Those three aren't Pete Rose or anything like that, but at least they can no longer see the Mendoza Line with the naked eye.

And that's pretty much about where it ends, in terms of productive Orioles.

That's not to say everything about the team is unproductive. The aforementioned John Means has been seriously solid thus far in '21 and the bullpen has mostly been reliable as well. I don't think Cesar Valdez is going to be mistaken for Zach (or is it Zack?) Britton anytime soon, but that change-up of his is nasty. Big time nasty. The O's might have a gem of a closer on their hands.

But while the pitching has been more than acceptable overall, the offense has been lousy.

Yes, I'm sounding like a broken record. I wish I had other news to report. I would if I could.

20 games is a fairly small sample size, but at least one guy is slowly starting to play his way to the unemployment line. Perhaps there's no one in the system to replace him and maybe the O's don't really care about getting from production from him, but Rio Ruiz is stinking it up. I mean, worse than The Wallflowers' follow up to Bringing Down The Horse. Ruiz is hitting .148, which is about 130 points higher than you'd be hitting. It's not good.

That's what makes these seasons of, let's call them, "Unconcerned Losing" so hard to wrap your head around.

You're playing games and you should be trying to win. You are, after all, supposedly a professional team. But because baseball hasn't yet figured out a way to stop teams from trying to lose in an effort to get a better draft pick, the practice goes on every year. And it's not just happening in Baltimore. There are others trying the same tactic.

So people like Rio Ruiz just keep on playing because, "ahhhh, what the heck, what's another losing season?"

But Ruiz is really struggling. It's time for Mike Elias to consider sending him off to green pastures and giving a younger player an opportunity.


Speaking of the O's and bringing people up to the majors, let's talk about Adley Rutschman. Yes, there's one "n" on the end of his last name, I Google searched it. Again.

A friend of mine suggested last week that the Orioles should bring Rutschman up and give him some experience while the games don't matter and the O's are on the verge of another 100 loss season.

"No," I said. "That's not what they're going to do."

"But they should," my friend countered. "Are they worried about that stupid service time issue?"

"Maybe," I replied. "Every team worries about service time. You only have your really good players for a short amount of time. Might as well try and hold on to them as long as you can."

But I'm not so sure service time is the only thing holding the Orioles back on Rutschman. I realize it's an issue. There's no doubt about it. But I also think the restricted attendance at Camden Yards is potentially something they're considering.

Wouldn't it be prudent to wait until the stadium is fully open again to bring Rutschman up and cash in on his wildly anticipated debut? I've mentioned this before and it bears repeating. The Orioles aren't exactly rolling in cash these days, as we've seen over the last six months with some of their numerous personnel decisions.

They could use one of those weekends of 100,000 in the stadium, which is almost certainly what they'd get if they brought Rutschman up for a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series and gave the town a few days notice that they were doing so.

Bringing him up now does what, exactly? I get it, it would be nice to give us something to get excited about over the summer, but this is one of those occasions where the Orioles have only one opportunity to cash in big time with a star investment. Bring him up now and jam 11,000 in the stadium or wait it out until later this summer and see if, maybe, you're allowed to fill the place with 44,000 people?

I say wait it out. It's not like we're going to lose any more or any less with Rutschman in the lineup right now. If he came up tomorrow, the O's are still a 70-win team, max. But that weekend of 100,000 people in the stadium could help the organization. Wait it out and see what happens.


Trevor Bauer got it right last night when he spoke about Fernando Tatis Jr., who hit two homers off of Bauer and then made fun of the pitcher's spring-training practice of pitching with one eye closed by running with a hand over his eye during his home run trot.

After his other home run, Tatis Jr. mimicked Bauer's well-known "strut" after he strikes out a hitter to end the inning.

And what did Bauer do in response?

Nothing. Not a thing.

In fact, he actually went the other way. He applauded it.

"I like it," Bauer said of Tatis's post-homer trolling. "I think that pitchers who throw at people after home runs and stuff like that are pretty soft. The guy just hit a home run. He should celebrate it. It's hard to hit in the major leagues."

Finally. Someone gets it.

I've said this forever. Throwing a baseball at someone because they were successful against you is Exhibit A of the most cowardly thing you can do in sports. It's awful. Bauer called it "pretty soft". There are other words to describe it that we won't use here.

Baseball, of course, is the worst of the worst when it comes to these silly, "unwritten rules".

You can't steal 2nd when you're ahead by 7 runs in the 8th inning.

You can't say to the umpire, "That didn't look like a strike to me, blue," because, well, you're not allowed to "argue" balls and strikes.

You can't tag a guy "too hard". You can tag him, of course, but be careful how firmly you apply the tag.

Fist pumps as a pitcher? No, no, no.

Tossing your bat after a home run? Can't do that.

At least Bauer and Tatis Jr. get it. So, too, does Eric Hosmer of the Padres, who took Bauer's "sword" gesture in good nature last night after he struck out early in the game. Later, Hosmer drilled a ball back up the middle and reproduced Bauer's "sword" routine for the pitcher to see.

"It's honestly more a sign of respect than anything," Hosmer said after the Dodgers beat the Padres on Saturday, 5-4. "You're kind of admitting, 'OK, you got me before and the sword thing was pretty funny but I got you this time.'"

Best of all, though, the pitcher understands. He's the one in control. And if Bauer took umbrage with the hitters, chaos could occur the next time the offending parties come to the plate.

"I'm never throwing at anyone," Bauer said. "I'm trying too hard to keep guys off the bases to put one of them on without making them earn it. If they hit me, so be it. But if they get me this time, you can bet the next time around when I shut them down I'll be the one smiling."

Maybe there's hope for baseball after all.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Saturday
April 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2434


saturday stuff


The Ravens did themselves proud on Friday when they dealt disgruntled Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sure, their offensive line needs some work now, but they have several options to pursue and the bet here is once August rolls around, they'll have it figured out.

The Ravens picked up Kansas City's first round pick this year (#31) and other future picks as well, plus they got rid of a guy who didn't really want to be here. Why keep a malcontent around when you can move him and get solid value for him in return?

Orlando Brown's time in Baltimore ended yesterday when the Ravens shipped the disgruntled lineman to Kansas City.

There were rumors floating around last night that the Ravens are going to sign ex-Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, but nothing has been formalized as of yet. Or, at the very least, nothing's been announced between the two parties.

It stands to reason that the Ravens will probably be looking to invest heavily in the offensive line in next week's draft. With Brown gone and the line already somewhat vulnerable, there's no time like the present to beef up the protection for Lamar Jackson. The off-season signing of Kevin Zeitler will help, but the Ravens need a lot more than adding Zeitler.

The Chiefs gave up a lot to acquire a guy who essentially had one great season in the NFL. The pieces started to fall in place for Brown after the injury to Ronnie Stanley last season.

Once the Ravens moved Brown to left tackle and he handled his duties there, the light bulb went off. "Why play for right tackle money when I'm good enough to play left tackle and gobble up more money that way?" He's not wrong.

But the question isn't whether Brown will ever be a dominant left tackle who winds up breaking the bank. The question is: Did the Chiefs give up too much to get him?

This author believes they did. But the Chiefs, like the Ravens, have a valuable asset at quarterback who must be protected at all times. If nothing else, Kansas City made a nice move cosmetically yesterday by showing Patrick Mahomes they're doing all they can to make sure he stays healthy and injury free.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are now faced with having to patch up their offensive line over the next 4 months or so. Have no fear. Eric DeCosta knows what he's doing.


Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets has made 187 career starts, including last night's tortue of the overmatched Washington Nationals.

In how many of those starts has he allowed 1 or 0 earned runs?

Yes, this is a quiz. We'll have the answer later. But I want you to think about that for a second. 187 career starts. How many times has he allowed either 1 or 0 earned runs?

Mets right hander Jacob deGrom threw a 9-inning, 2-hit shutout last night vs. the Nationals.

Last night in New York, deGrom shut down the Nationals, 6-0, throwing a 2-hit, complete-game shutout while striking out 15 batters. He also recorded as many hits at the plate (2) as he allowed from the mound. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound, huh?

Here's the deal on deGrom. For all the talk around baseball about Bieber of the Indians (he's really good) and Giolito of the White Sox (he's really good) and Glasnow of the Rays (he's really good), deGrom has outpitched them all. Yes, they're all in the American League, but it doesn't matter. You pitch where you pitch. And deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball right now.

In his past 80 starts (this is a pretty big sample size), deGrom has a 2.04 ERA and 647 strikeouts. That's almost 3 years of starts, but the shortened 2020 season turns it into 4 years worth, basically.

In the last 120 years, only four pitchers have made 80 starts and compiled an ERA of 2.05 or less. Sandy Koufax, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw and, now, Jacob deGrom.

By the way, in those 80 starts where he's been borderline spectacular in each and every one? The Mets are 37-43.

A number of factors over the last few years have led me to watching a lot of non-Orioles baseball. You can watch several games every evening on cable TV and, probably, almost every game via online streaming (although I don't do that). I tend to gravitate towards good pitching match-ups, so every morning I'll go through the schedule and see what's what for later that night. Friday evening, for example, it was Yu Darvish (San Diego) vs. Clayton Kershaw (L.A.), so that one was definitely worth trying to find on the tube somehow.

Because the Orioles have been so rotten over the last three years, I also tend to surf the sports channels while the Birds are in the midst of another 7-3 loss. Some nights I'll stumble on to something good from Chicago or Atlanta or whatever is on the MLB Channel.

So, I wind up watching bits and pieces of a dozen different games every week. It just depends on who I catch on any given night.

I've seen deGrom pitch three times so far in 2021. It's pretty rare for a pitcher to "dominate" the entire league for a season. It can happen over a week or a month, sure, but an entire season? It's rare. The guys at the plate with the wood in their hand are on scholarship too, remember.

But right now, deGrom is dominating every Major League team he faces. It's incredible to watch. A pitcher hasn't been the MVP of the league since 2014 when Kershaw won the honor with the Dodgers. deGrom has his hands around that trophy right now and we haven't even reached the Kentucky Derby.

By the way, in his 187 career starts, he has double digit strikeouts in 49 of them. That's 26%!!

There's no telling what the Mets are going to do this season, but one thing is certain. They're winning at least once every five days. They know for that certain.

And finally...the quiz answer.

187 career starts.

deGrom has allowed 1 or 0 runs in 89 of those starts. Holy cow.


A friend of mine reached out yesterday with a question about golf clubs for his 12 year old son who has recently started taking the game more seriously.

I thought it would be good to pass along the details of our conversation here in the event any of you are facing a similar situation with your young golfer.

My friend's son, Brady, has really only been playing golf for two years. This will be his third summer of golf and in the fall of 2022 he's looking to go to a local area high school and hopes to play golf there.

"When should I start taking his golf clubs seriously?" my friend asked. "Right now he's playing with an old set my father (the boy's grandfather) put together for him."

That's an important question...and one that doesn't necessarily come with an easy answer.

The right answer, every time, is the obvious one: A young golfer (or any golfer for that matter) should always be playing with a set of clubs that are right for them.

But during a child's growth years, it's not easy to do that. Their body changes so rapidly once they turn 10 or thereabouts that it's nearly impossible to keep them in the right set of clubs.

So here was my advice to my friend. The most important thing for a young golfer to learn, I think, is how to hit the ball off the tee. My suggestion is to find a driver (or 3-wood) that is "right" for the junior golfer and not worry so much about the irons for the time being. If possible, I'd put the junior in a set of irons that are too flexible before I'd put him/her in a set that are too stiff. But overall, worry about getting the driver specs right.

You can either do a professional fitting (Matt Decker at Five Iron Golf in downtown Baltimore is excellent...) where a club maker can determine what's right for him or her from a shaft standpoint or you can fiddle around with different clubs you own and try them out until you find one the junior golfer hits better than the others.

It's important to remember, though, that anytime you cut a club down (making it shorter), that stiffens the shaft. So if your son or daughter hits an old hand-me-down club well and you want to cut 2-3 inches off of it to accommodate their size, you're now changing the specs of the club and it won't be the same as when it was its former, standard length.

That's why a professional is the way to go in terms of club fitting. They'll have the data to show you and can immediately find the right shaft and clubhead for the junior golfer.

This is a long-winded way of saying, "Don't buy the $1,000 set of irons for your 12 year old. They're not ready for them just yet."

But I do think investing in a driver that fits them is a good option. Once they can hit the tee ball well, with some length, and find the fairway quite often, the rest of the game follows along in due time.

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Friday
April 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2433


friday nuggets


I ran into a friend yesterday who recently received a survey from the Orioles after he purchased tickets online to a home game in May.

I understand the importance of surveys. They're a valuable asset, particularly with sports teams who are trying to ascertain demographic information about their customers and product purchasers.

But there was something distinctly odd about this particular Orioles survey that my friend received.

The last question was: "What is your political affiliation? Republican, Democrat, Independent, Other, or I wish not to disclose".

What on earth is that all about?

I mean, it's your survey, you can ask anything you want, I suppose. And since surveys are, by their nature, somewhat already an invasion of privacy, asking an ultra-personal question such as "What's your political affiliation?" seems to fall right in line with questions about your age, race and buying habits.

But...really? Do the Orioles care at all about whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat? Apparently they do.

I suppose it's worth noting here, for whatever reason, that John Angelos has been a staunch, outspoken Democrat over the last several years. Maybe that doesn't have any connection at all to the survey. Maybe it does. Either way, it's a weird question to ask of anyone, frankly, but even more weird coming from a professional sports organization.

I'm thinking of sending the Orioles a survey and asking them this: "When will you get to a World Series again? 2024, 2028, 2035, Maybe never".

Now that's the answer to a survey question I'm interested in.


In case you haven't heard, the NFL is involved in a flap over jersey numbers and it might wind up having a direct impact on a scenario in Baltimore that is sure to split the fan base.

A new rule now states that running backs and wide receivers can sport a single-digit uniform number. Single digits were previously reserved for quarterbacks, kickers and punters.

How does that impact the Ravens, you ask?

He wore #5 in college. Would Hollywood Brown like to wear #5 with the Ravens as well? If so, it might cost him.

Marquise "Hollywood" Brown wore #5 at Oklahoma. Because of the jersey number restrictions in the NFL, Brown has worn #15 in Baltimore.

But now...with the new rule...#5 is available in Baltimore if Brown wants it. And the rumor on the street is, he might very well want to switch from #15 to #5.

If he elects to do so, Brown has two options. He can change immediately, for the 2021 season, but he has to buy out all remaining inventory of his #15 jerseys from NFL Properties. It seems unlikely he would do that, but perhaps there aren't many left and he can strike a fair deal. Who knows?

The other option is to notify the league now he wants to change in 2022 and there will be no inventory buy out required next year. NFL Properties would have a year to liquidate the #15 jerseys and everyone's happy.

But if Brown does decide to change his number from 15 to 5, an issue is starting to rumble in Baltimore. There are a lot of folks who think Brown wearing #5 is a disservice to Joe Flacco, who wore the number during his Ravens career.

A few people have even tossed around the idea online that the Ravens should -- yep, here it comes -- "retire" Joe's jersey number.

I was always a Joe Flacco fan. He had a good career in Baltimore and will most certainly someday be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor. But I think it's a stretch to suggest that no one can ever wear #5 again as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

If someone wants #5, they can have it.

Tom Brady's #12 in New England? Probably gonna be retired someday.

Aaron Rodgers' #12 in Green Bay? Retired.

Drew Brees' #9? Retired.

I don't think Joe's quality of play or his career quite matches those three. But, hey, that's just me. There are others around Baltimore who disagree.

Meanwhile, the guess here is that Brown will probably bow to civic and social media pressure and not switch from #15 to #5. Either that or he'll change his number and then delete his Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram accounts.

I think the 3rd year wide receiver enjoys social media too much to let a jersey number come in the way of his lifestyle. But if he does change from #15 to #5, it will be fun to surf the internet for a few weeks if nothing else.


My buddy George brought up an interesting question here recently when he asked where the money is originating from in the new PGA Tour Player Impact Program.

Obviously, the TOUR is free to spend their money in whatever fashion they deem prudent, but the question certainly is worth asking. "Where is the $40 million coming from that they're going to disperse to the top 10 players in their ranking system?"

The PGA Tour says the $40 million is being funded "through our revenues from tournaments and TOUR properties (merchandise, apparel, etc.)" and is not originating from any particular sponsor or a pool of sponsorship dollars.

In other words, the PGA Tour is basically saying, "we're paying for this out of our own pocket."

As the story has unfolded this week, the TOUR has revealed the Impact Program was actually supposed to be revealed and announced at the 2020 Player's Championship during a Saturday night gala in Ponte Vedra Beach, home of the TOUR's corporate offices.

But Covid-19 shut down the event after the first round on Thursday and the program was put on hold for a year due to the uncertain revenue streams brought about the pandemic and the lack of spectators at 2020 tournaments.

Bryson DeChambeau's U.S. Open win last September opened even more marketing doors for the popular PGA Tour player.

I've taken a few days to read as much as I can about the program. My opinion has shifted over the course of the week. I wasn't sure I liked it at first but now I'm starting to come around to understanding the merits of it, particularly in terms of television and event-by-event attendance.

The driving force behind the whole thing is the TOUR's 36-hole "cut" that eliminates roughly 50% of the field each week. Those who don't play well enough in the first two rounds to make the cut get no money at all for their "performance" that week. Yet, their presence at the event itself might have helped make the TOUR a lot of money.

With the Player Impact Program, a player can still benefit -- over the long haul -- even if his golf isn't good enough to earn a big check or two along the way.

Bryson DeChambeau is probably the current player most likely going to benefit from the Player Impact Program because he's the one guy right now who is "winning" on both ends of the spectrum. He's playing great golf and winning tournaments. And he's developing a unique brand for himself through his golf swing, approach to the game and willingness to self-promote his talents through both commercial and social platforms.

The TOUR used the term "needle-mover" in their official press release and that's what DeChambeau has become. Present day golf's all-time needle mover was -- and still is -- Tiger Woods. Rory McIroy looked like he was going to be a massive asset to the TOUR a decade ago but that sort of fizzled over time. And then Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler came along and started gobbling up sponsors and advertising opportunities, but their golf dipped off, even if their "brand" didn't.

DeChambeau, right now, is the TOUR's new marquee member. People will pay money to go watch him play. They'll sit by the TV if he's in the hunt. And they'll buy golf balls, equipment, apparel and bet on sports because of his association with those product lines.

But his impact and popularity on TOUR originated because of his play. He was a U.S. Amateur champ, a college golf champ and then won right away when he turned professional. While he might be looked at as somewhat of "carnival act" with his quirky nature and nuanced swing, the bottom line is he's turned into a terrific player over the last 5 years and will certainly be a marketable entity for the TOUR for at least the next two decades.

Once the TOUR figures out the mathematical equation on how to accurately calculate the numbers of the Player Impact Program, you'll see more and more players try to improve both their golf and their marketing talents.

There's a lot of money to be made and it doesn't require birdies and trophies to make it.


These kind of sports debates are relatively useless, but a friend of mine threw this one at me yesterday and I thought it was interesting, if nothing else.

What college in Baltimore is most recognizable with our city?

In other words, which school is "our school" as Baltimore residents?

Or do we even have one?

Part of this question relates to the fact that we don't have a Division I FBS football team in Baltimore. Towson and Morgan State both play in Division I FCS, obviously, and they each have a fan following of sorts, but neither could fill Ravens Stadium for a game.

We have lots of mid-major basketball in town; UMBC, Towson, Loyola, Coppin State and Morgan State. And we have Division I lacrosse with the likes of Johns Hopkins, UMBC, Loyola and Towson.

But the lack of a FBS football program means every school in town sorta-kinda looks the same.

Towson clearly has the best facilities of everyone. They have an 11,000 seat football stadium and a 4,500 seat indoor arena. And their baseball facility is "Division I level" for sure.

Loyola has an awesome soccer/lacrosse stadium off-campus but their basketball gymnasium is small and antiquated.

Morgan State's facilities have improved over time and Hill Fieldhouse is still a "special" place to watch a game, despite the wear and tear in the building.

Coppin State has a relatively new indoor arena, which should be the model for Morgan State and Loyola moving forward.

And UMBC has a gorgeous "soccer park" for their successful men's and women's programs plus a new state-of-the-art indoor arena for basketball.

Johns Hopkins has a great lacrosse/football stadium but that's about it. The Blue Jays play lacrosse in the Big Ten but they're a Division III football school (and a good one!).

Is Towson "Baltimore's school"?

Is it UMBC?

Or is it one of the others?

Strangely enough, the answer might be: "They're all the same. Together we adopt them all and when one of them has success, we revel in it."

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miaa golf update


Our friends at Varsity Sports Network published a late-season A-Conference varsity golf update yesterday and I thought I'd give you the link if you're interested in checking it out.

You can click here to read the full article.

My Calvert Hall team is 3-5 on the year, with a couple of narrow one-point losses to a pair of really good teams -- league-leader Gilman and Spalding -- and a victory over Mount Saint Joseph at Rolling Road back on April 12. Thus far, we're the only team in the conference to win at Rolling Road in the 2021 campaign.

We're young this season, with only two seniors, but on any given day we can compete with anyone in the conference. We finish up the regular season with four more matches -- three next week and one the following week -- before the playoffs begin the week of May 10.

If you're interested in coming out to watch us at Country Club of Maryland, we're at home on April 27 vs. Mount Saint Joseph and May 4 vs. McDonogh.

Go Hall!


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faith in sports


Today's edition of Faith in Sports -- brought to you by Freestate Electric -- features an awesome 6 minutes with Seth Curry, from his days back at Duke University.

Everyone knows his older brother, of course. His name is Steph Curry. But Seth Curry has his own story to tell and it's worth the six minutes to watch it.

I hope you do.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Thursday
April 22
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#2432


if you could see one thing...


Steph Curry's amazing run of consecutive games with at least 30 points ended last night when he went cold from the field and finished the night with just 18 points in a 118-114 loss to the Wizards in D.C.

I'm not sure what's worse for Curry. Losing to the Wizards or only scoring 18 points. Both happened on Wednesday night and his outstanding run of 30 point games ended at 11.

But it got me to thinking: If you, in your lifetime, could see just one thing happen in the world of sports, what would it be?

Sticking with hoops, as an example, some might say they'd like to see a guy score 100 points in a game. Realistic? Not necessarily. Possible? Well, sure. It has been done before, of course. Wilt Chamberlain did it. Back in 2006, Kobe Bryant scored 81 for the Lakers. Not quite 100, but a glimmer of evidence that 100 could, perhaps, someday be accomplished again.

What's your "one thing"?

And it has to be realistic. I mean, I'd love to see the Flyers go 0-82 one year. That would be the ultimate sports dream of mine. But that's just not realistic. One can dream though, huh?

Editor's note: I'd even take 7-75. OK, that's not realistic either. How about 10-72?

But as I think more about it, I do have several "things" that come to mind that I'd like to see. My number one hasn't been done before, so perhaps someone would say it's not realistic, but I do think it will happen at some point in professional golf.

Another one of mine has been done before, but just once. It could be done again, though. I'm certain of it.

And one other "sports dream" of mine has been done before but was most recently sorta-kinda accomplished. I'd like to see it happen "cleanly", so to speak.

Let's stay away from "team things", though. Other than the Flyers going 0-82, that is. Like, I realize we would all like to see the Ravens win back-to-back Super Bowls or the Orioles reach a World Series, both of which seem highly improbable, but we could just do that over and over.

I'm asking more from a historical perspective. What "thing" in sports would you like to see in your lifetime?

Here are my three. Please feel free to share yours in the comment section.

Someone birdies all 18 holes in a golf tournament -- I don't even have a preference if it's on the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, the Champions Tour or the Korn Ferry Tour. I just want to see someone do it.

Jim Furyk has a 58 and a 59 on the PGA Tour. Not quite 18 consecutive birdies, but historical golf nonetheless.

Kevin Chappell and Mark Calcavecchia own the PGA Tour record with 9 consecutive birdies. A few years back, someone on the Korn Ferry Tour (the name escapes me and a Google search turned up nothing) birdied 11 holes out of 14. Annika Sorenstam once supposedly birdied 12 holes in a row at her home course in Florida, but that wasn't during an event.

I once birdied the first 6 holes at Mount Pleasant and remember thinking, "I could birdie them all!" Alas, I made par at 7 and that was that. It reminded me of the great line from the movie Bull Durham -- "Don't think Meat, just pitch." As soon as I started "thinking" about making 18 birdies, I didn't make one.

In the old days -- and my "old days" are the early 90's -- the "thing" everyone wanted to do in golf was to shoot 59. For a while there, Al Geiberger was the only player to have done it in a TOUR event. Then Chip Beck did it. Others followed. David Duval, Paul Goydos, Stuart Appleby and Jim Furyk, who later shot 58 in addition to his earlier 59.

Don't get me wrong, "59" is still golf's magic number but it's kind of like throwing a 900 series in professional bowling. It's been done enough now that neither of those things are a total shock when they occur.

But 18 consecutive birdies? It's never been done. However...

I have seen 18 consecutive birdies made in golf. And having seen it, I know it's possible. But it occurred in a "scramble" event, where all four players hit a drive, then the best shot is selected from the fairway, then all four players hit again, then the best "putt" is selected on the green, then all four players get to putt the ball from that same spot.

I've played in dozens of scramble tournaments where our team has birdied every hole. Lots of people have witnessed that occurrence. It happens all the time. But it also shows you the blueprint for how one person could, in fact, birdie all 18 holes. You hit it in the middle of the fairway, you hit it 10 feet from the pin, you make the putt. The difference, of course, is that we did it with four people, not one.

I'm holding out hope that in my lifetime, somehow, we'll see a professional golfer birdie all 18 holes. It would be golf's first-ever "perfect game".


Consecutive no-hitters in MLB -- It's been done just once, by a relatively obscure, below .500 pitcher named Johnny Vander Meer all the way back in 1938.

Could Max Scherzer be the next Johnny Vander Meer?

But it could be done again, I'm sure of it.

I'll rattle off the names of guys who could manage to accomplish the feat, but the reality is weird statistical things like this usually occur with someone of a different ilk -- some guy who just gets his chakras lined up the right way and for the better part of week, he finds baseball magic.

Max Scherzer could do it.

Lucas Giolito could do it.

Gerrit Cole could do it.

I don't care who does it, though. I would just like to see it get done.

For two straight games, no one records a base hit off of a pitcher. Now that would be something.


A PGA Tour player wins all four majors in the same year -- Back in 2000-2001, Tiger Woods recorded the "Grand Slam" in golf, but he didn't win all four of the majors in one calendar year. He won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA in 2000 and then the Masters in 2001.

Yes, Tiger was right when he claimed he won the Grand Slam. "I have all four trophies in my house right now. I won four straight." He was right. But he didn't win all four in one calendar year, which is what I'd like to see.

Here's the thing. Because of the way the majors are played (three of four courses each year are different and the fact that all of them are, in some way, an "invitational") not every player gets to play in all four of them each year. But the best players do get to play in all four and I'd love to see someone win all four of them in the same year.

Here's my short list of three players that I think have the game to handle what's required of them at all four majors. And I'm saying this not necessarily knowing where three of the four are played in the future, but knowing what kind of golf game each possesses and how they are a "horse for a course" no matter the venue:

Collin Morikawa

Jon Rahm

Dustin Johnson

Those three have the complete game, so to speak. Every TOUR player is capable of winning a golf tournament out there, but those three, in particular, can win at any venue, any time.

I have great respect for the "Tiger Slam" and he's right, he held all four at the same time and only Bobby Jones can make that same claim. Now, let's see someone do it in the same calendar year and, truly, have a "perfect season" in professional golf.

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


it’s better to win than to receive


Eric DeCosta said the other day that he’s “aware” that there is some discontent among the local populace with the Ravens’ history of wide receivers, chosen through the draft and otherwise.

Moments later, he said it’s “insulting” to the wide receivers on the roster, and to him personally, to hear that criticism.

Statements of genius by DeCosta, at least for now. It’s not easy for a general manager to play every side of the situation, but he’s sure as hell trying.

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta recently took exception to the notion from the fan base that his team's wide receiving corps isn't talented.

I don’t think fans believe that the front office listens to them about much. The best fans understand that they probably don’t know as much about the team’s personnel or football strategy as they think they do. That said, it’s good to hear DeCosta say he’s aware that the fans think the receivers stink and that the team has done a lousy job in that area. The customer is right sometimes.

Still, DeCosta is a GM in the NFL. He may not be a publicity hound, but he’s got an ego and a high-paid gig that you don’t have. He and Ozzie and everyone else have done their due diligence on all those guys for 25 years, so you can shove it. Oh, and related to that, maybe those guys ought to be at least partially responsible for their own reputations, right?

It’s brilliant. All of it. DeCosta is listening to you, and he knows how you feel. Deep down, he even knows you’re right. At the same time, he’s using it as an us-against-them thing for Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay and even Sammy Watkins, a veteran who’s already proven himself as a good pro.

Those guys are scattered all over the country avoiding offseason workouts in Baltimore (“when they get here, we’ll coach them,” said John Harbaugh). DeCosta has no idea if they’re insulted or not. He also knows that receivers don’t exactly love playing here and wants to give them a reason to come together as a unit.

And underneath all of it, DeCosta can just point to the scoreboard. He can say things like he did Monday, that “he’s proud of the team and how we win games and how we play football” and that “I know this…I think Lamar likes our receivers and our coaches like our receivers.”

All sides. We like our guys, Buck Showalter-style. We hear the complaints, though, and believe us—our guys are going to prove you suckers wrong. Oh, and if our all-everything quarterback is ok with what we’ve got, then that ought to be ok with you.

It’s worth exploring the truth and the perception about the Ravens and wideouts, both in the past and in the present…and maybe how that will affect the near future.

In 25 NFL drafts, the Ravens have chosen 30 college wide receivers. The first was Jermaine Lewis, in the fifth round in 1996. The most recent is James Proche, in the sixth round in 2020. If you separate the safety and cornerback positions in drafting, that’s the most of any position group. Something about the Ravens, or something about the position? Maybe a little of both.

Lewis wasn’t a bad choice for the first wide receiver chosen in franchise history; he played in 111 NFL games, though his pass-catching skills weren’t his greatest asset. That ranks third among the 30 draftees in career games. Brandon Stokley, chosen in the fourth round in 1999, played 152 games for five teams over 15 seasons. In eight seasons with the Ravens, 49ers, Eagles and Panthers, Torrey Smith played in 119 games.

The only other member of the group to hit triple digits was team’s highest-ever draft pick at wide receiver, Florida’s Travis Taylor at No. 10 in 2000. In seven full years, however, Taylor never had more than 61 receptions. And speaking of receptions, most fans know that Derrick Mason is the team’s all-time leader in that category…yet people will always associate him more with the Titans than with the Ravens. He had almost the same number of catches for each team.

Except for Mason, it’s not a great list…yet DeCosta is right. After exactly 400 regular-season games as a franchise, the Ravens have every right to be proud of the way they’ve played football. Look…the Detroit Lions drafted Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson as the second overall pick in 2007, and he caught 731 balls and made six Pro Bowls in nine spectacular seasons. In those nine years, the Lions won 54 games and lost 90. Anybody want to trade?

In the present—as has been written a few times before in this space—it’s hard to properly evaluate the Ravens’ wide receivers. In the last 40 or so games, they’ve been used more like college wideouts before the widespread advent of spread offenses. It would be insulting (to use DeCosta’s word) to say that the group can’t play at all, but it’s just reality to say that things like the quality of their pass routes haven’t been as important as they are for other teams.

In 2020, the Ravens threw a pass on 45 percent of their plays from scrimmage, the lowest percentage by a team since the 2009 Jets. I’d say that, in 2021, that percentage probably isn’t going to change much. Jackson will run the ball, and Jackson will scramble with the ball on designed passing plays more often than any other quarterback.

The greatest play of the Ravens’ 2020 season was a Jackson scramble for a touchdown on a 3rd-and-9 play from midfield in the second quarter of the playoff game against the Titans. I have no idea if anyone was open by NFL standards on that play, and I don’t care. He saw the man-to-man coverage and a hole in the line and knew he could beat the safety down the field one-on-one. There was no better outcome on that play than the one that occurred.

Let’s be clear. The fans are right…the Ravens do not have a “No. 1” receiver. As of yet, the quarterback hasn’t made anyone into a No. 1 receiver, unless you want to count Mark Andrews, who’s a tight end. Before the draft—next week in Cleveland—there’s no reason to think otherwise. And the Ravens have pick No. 27, which means two things—that they did pretty well without one last season, and that they won’t be looking for one at that spot this year.

Surely the Ravens will take a wide receiver in this year’s draft, likely in the later rounds (by the way, I’d say the defensive line might be a good choice for that first pick). Late-round wideouts have long been successful in the NFL, though not as successful for the Ravens as for other teams. The national media will continue to drone on about the team’s passing game and how its improvement is the key to the team making it to the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Ravens will most immediately deal with the prospect of a big contract for Jackson, one that DeCosta acknowledged will change some other things the team can do. He deserves it, no matter what percentage of the team’s improvement in the passing game will have to come from him.

As much as I’m interested in the wide receivers, I’m interested in seeing how the Ravens can improve their use of their running backs in the passing game. J.K. Dobbins had only 18 receptions last year; I’d say he should have twice as many this year, even though he’ll get more carries with Mark Ingram gone. Anecdotally, the Ravens don’t play the screen game nearly enough, though I understand it doesn’t fit as well with the team’s overall offensive scheme as it does for most teams.

Mostly, though, I’ll be interested in seeing how well John Harbaugh’s team and Greg Roman’s offense can do in continuing an unprecedented stretch of offensive football. The Ravens have scored 1,000 points over the last two seasons. One thousand! In Jackson’s 37 starts, the team has averaged four touchdowns and a field goal per game. I’m going to try to forget three playoff losses, which had little to do with the Ravens’ receivers.

I doubt that Eric DeCosta is really insulted by what you’re saying.

I’d bet that the Ravens receivers don’t really care about it either. I don’t think the Ravens are going to take a wide receiver with any of their draft picks because of any reason besides the ability to help the team.

If they do, I hope he can help the team more than most of the receivers in franchise history. If not, then I’ll just take it one game at a time, just like the Ravens always have on their way to enviable success.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Wednesday
April 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2431


first the super league, now...the "tiger tour"?


Well, international soccer had a "Super League" for about 48 hours this week.

The concept has now been suspended after six English teams caved in to their supporters and withdrew from the proposed league on Tuesday.

The idea of the Super League was obvious from the start. Make more money for the clubs and their owners while asking the players to play more meaningful games without necessarily reaping the benefits of their increased demands.

Chelsea of the English Premier League was the first club to withdraw on Tuesday after their supporters (we call them "fans" here in the U.S.) were adamantly against the idea of pulling out of the European Football Association in order to join the Super League. The five other English teams soon followed. And by early Wednesday morning, the league was officially put on hold while organizers attempted to find new clubs.

The PGA Tour, though, is moving ahead with an interesting concept that contains a $40 million bonus pool that will be paid out to ten players who are deemed to have the biggest "needle moving impact" on the PGA Tour over the course of a year.

Known formally as the "Player Impact Program", the idea is to reward players who drive engagement with sponsors and fans. The concept carries over into unique areas like tournament participation, TV ratings (for both events in which a player plays and doesn't play) and attendance.

Rickie Fowler, who hasn't won since 2019, is one of the players on the PGA Tour who would greatly benefit from the Player Impact Program.

Although no one on TOUR came out and said it, several players did. It's essentially a program that originated from Tiger's dominance on the TOUR and the revenues he created for other players and tournaments.

Professional golf is different from virtually every other sport in that a player can show up at a tournament, participate for two days, fail to make the cut, and make no money at all from that specific event. Yet, his impact on attendance, sponsorship dollars and television was still significant.

The Orioles have a player who makes $23 million a year whose production over the last four years has probably valued out at roughly $2 million a year. Maybe not even that much. He shows up and makes money. These days, he's not even showing up and he's making money.

A popular/successful PGA Tour player can spend $3,000 to play in an event (caddie fees, travel, hotels, meals), miss the cut by one shot, and make no money for the week's work he just put in. Yet, because he played in the event on Thursday and Friday, the tournament itself and the players who did make the cut were benefactors of his participation. The new Impact Program seeks to remedy that sort of outcome, at least on an annual basis.

Is this also an idea that could bleed over to other sports? Will the NFL, for example, someday have to reward Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson for the "impact" they have on television ratings?

One player agent who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity said on Tuesday: "The needle-movers, the guys who are responsible for revenue, go out and compete at the risk of not being compensated. Tom Cruise doesn't shoot a movie for free and see how it goes. The CEO at IMB could have performance and stock-equity bonuses. But no one goes to work in a demand position and have no guaranteed compensation."

The agent continued: "Tiger Woods could play in golf tournaments, sell a million dollars worth of tickets, be responsible for a large part of a television contract. And he still has to shoot scores to get paid."

The program will reward the top "needle mover" with an $8 million first place check at the end of the year. Here's one major part of the scoring method that will be used to rate the top 10 "impact players": Those who receive the funds will be determined based on their "Impact Score," which will be generated from several different metrics, including their popularity in a Google search, the Nielsen Brand Exposure rating, their Q rating, the MVP index rating and their Meltwater Mentions, which measures the frequency that a player generates coverage across various media platforms.

But while the actual program itself was conceived to reward major needle movers like Tiger and Rory McIlroy, there are popular TOUR players on social media who will likely benefit from the program and might not need quality golf to do so. Max Homa, who earlier this year won at Riveria CC, is one of golf's most popular social media follows, engaging with his fans and followers on a daily basis. He's just one example, but Homa is a player who grasps the value of social and consumer engagement, much to the delight of his corporate sponsors.

The TOUR's most talked about player these days is undoubtedly Bryson DeChambeau, who has become a significant drawing card both at events and on television. DeChambeau also has seven different corporate sponsors in his stable. He is making a major impact on TOUR.

Rickie Fowler is another player who will likely benefit from the Player Impact Program. So, too, will Jordan Spieth. In fact, in a study done earlier this week, both Fowler and Spieth would have finished in the top 10 in 2019 and received bonus monies from the Impact Pool. Fowler won just one tournament in 2019 and Spieth didn't win anything.

But Fowler and Spieth (who has returned to the winner's circle recently) are critically important to the TOUR and their sponsors. Their respective arguments are understandable. "I show up in Memphis (example), attendance goes from 64,000 last year (when I didn't play the event) to 94,000 this year, TV ratings go up, you attract more corporate sponsors because I registered and played in the event...and I get nothing out of that at all."

One other thing to consider: An impact pool like the one announced yesterday could also lead to "unique" golfers trying their hand at the PGA Tour. Crofton, Maryland's Kyle Berkshire, who was the world long drive champion in 2019, has been rumored to be attempting to make it to the TOUR through the Korn Ferry Tour. Berkshire, with his 400 yard drives, would be a huge drawing card if he ever does make the PGA Tour. And his "impact" would be considerable, even if the quality of his golf isn't great.

Meanwhile, PGA Tour players were, naturally, thrilled with the idea of more money potentially coming their way.

Brooks Koepka said on Tuesday: "I love the idea, but we all know why it was developed and rightfully so. Tiger's been carrying the TOUR on his back for 20 years and hasn't made nearly enough money from it. We know why we play for so much money every week out here. It's because of Tiger."

Veteran Pat Perez echoed Koepka's comments: "It's always been Tiger's tour. And even though he's not playing right now, it still is. But there are other guys who mean a lot to the Tour and they should also get rewarded. They drive attendance and merchandise sales and TV ratings and they should get rewarded for that by the TOUR somehow. This is a program that was long overdue."

As more young college players join the TOUR and start carving their niche, you'll see more and more social engagement. While a player's golf will ultimately earn them a spot on TOUR and keep them out there, there's now a method in place to reward the true needle-movers of the sport in a way that is deserving and meaningful: money.

Tiger's days on TOUR are done. At least that's what this writer assumes. But that certainly doesn't mean his "impact" on the TOUR is done. And if Woods can maintain a spot in the Top 10 -- using whatever statistical data is used -- he will continue to reap the benefits of the years of hard work he put in to help make the PGA Tour better for all players.

Meanwhile, Max Homa has to be thrilled with Tuesday's news. Rickie Fowler should be as well. Bryson DeChambeau is perhaps the biggest "gainer" of them all with the new formula.

Those three -- and a number of other players -- can now make big money because of their impact off the course in addition to making big money on the course as well.

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SUCH
a sports fan

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


In the Fall of 2002, Hereford High School had a new basketball coach. Jim Rhoads had come to Northern Baltimore County after six years at Catonsville High School, where he taught math and coached the boys’ varsity basketball team. Nineteen years later, “Mud” is still teaching math and basketball to Hereford’s students.

Hereford has been competing in boys’ basketball since 1953. Through various classifications in the state of Maryland’s Public Schools Athletics Association, the Bulls have been to two Final Fours, both times when the school was part of the State 1A grouping, which is for the smallest schools based on student enrollment. Hereford actually made it to the championship game in 1993, which they lost.

Mark Suchy (left) and Hereford H.S. basketball coach Jim Rhoads (right).

Since that 2002-03 campaign, Coach Rhoads has compiled a record of 177-214, which, on the face of it, may not seem very impressive. But then, you have to remember, this is Hereford. Most of the boys who come to the high school through the “Zone’s” rec sports programs are football and lacrosse players. Most of them never tried out for the basketball team, and the ones who did play usually only did so to stay in shape for the next season of their preferred sport.

If you go a little deeper into his record, though, you’ll see two seasons of 19 wins, one 15 win season, one 14 win season, two 13 win seasons, and 13 seasons of double-digit wins. Honestly, it’s quite remarkable, especially when you consider that the Bulls regularly play Baltimore County powers like Randallstown, Milford Mill, Woodlawn and New Town.

In essence, Coach Rhoads has always taken whoever was there and made the most of it. He’s taught each team his fundamental principles of the game and gotten the best out of their combined abilities. Most importantly, he’s never lost perspective about the school, the basketball program, and his primary objectives as an educator.

Over the past eight years, I’ve become very good friends with him. I’ve watched him coach and mentor my sons, as well as scores of other young men and women.

I’ve sat with him at the table while he worked the gate for football games on Friday nights at Hereford Stadium. I’ve helped coach the team in summer and fall leagues.

I’ve volunteered to work with him at the concession stand for the basketball team fundraiser during Homecoming Weekend. I’ve seen him sweep the gym floor after a random Tuesday night game, then head out the door with his equipment bag slung over his shoulder, heading home to wash the team uniforms.

Sometimes we overlook the real purpose of coaching, and we certainly tend to have unrealistic expectations of the teams they coach, especially at the youth and high school level. I’ve mentioned before that only 7% of all high school athletes will go on to compete at any level in college.

The vast majority of boys and girls will never put on a uniform with their school’s name on it after their senior year of high school. So, coaches at that level can have a lifelong impact on the kids on their teams. For most of us, our varsity coaches in high school are the last ones we’ll ever have.

By any measure or metric I can use, Jim Rhoads is a terrific coach.

In normal times, I would have had the opportunity to thank Mud by writing this about a month ago, after Hereford’s basketball season ended in the state playoffs. I would have been able to shake his hand and thank him for coaching my boys for the past six years, and educating them for the past eight. I would have reflected upon all of the great moments and memories, on and off the court, over that time. Obviously, none of us got that chance. But it doesn’t mean I can’t still take this moment to thank him.

I can give you two brief examples that demonstrate the character and the spirit of Coach, and neither of them occurred during a game. The first was the time that he pulled me aside one night after a game when my oldest son, Thomas, was a senior at Hereford.

Thomas played soccer, but Mud had taught him for three years in math, and he wanted me to know what dramatic strides Thomas had made as a student. I could tell by his intensity that he was prouder of that than any win he had ever earned on the basketball court. The second was all of the countless times he picked up Mark and Charlie for practices or pickup games, or gave them rides home.

Jim Rhoads has been doing things like that for a long time at Hereford High School. All of us who have been fortunate enough to have him teach or coach our children are lucky indeed. He’s the epitome of what every high school coach should be.

It’s been a fun six years (well, alright, five). I look forward to many more nights in the gym at Hereford. Perhaps someday they can put his name on the court. Legacies are about more than wins and losses.


A few months ago, I wrote about two different basketball players who shared their first name, Justin. At the time, Justin Lewis was a freshman at Marquette University, and he was having a basketball season. Justin Kupa was a senior at Franklin & Marshall, and back then, I was hoping he would have some kind of basketball season.

Alas, for Justin Kupa, he never got the chance. F&M, and the other nine schools that comprise the Centennial Conference, cancelled their winter sports seasons.

The other day, I received my monthly F&M Basketball Insider in my email inbox. This month’s issue focused on the five seniors on this year’s team. Les Thomas, Matt Redhead, Bo Williams, Brian Hines, and Justin Kupa have all played their last games in a Franklin & Marshall uniform. Like thousands of other athletes at the Division III level, their playing careers are over.

What struck me while reading their reflections was how mature and reasoned they were about losing their senior years. There was no bitterness or anger; rather, they all expressed gratitude for the opportunity to play college basketball and to become friends through being teammates.

In his F&M Reflections, Kupa wrote, “F&M has taught me a valuable lesson in perspective – making the most of what I am afforded. Freshman year, after our admirable run to the Sweet 16, I saw fellow seniors emotional after a grueling loss to Ramapo, cementing the ends of their college basketball careers. One senior pleaded to those in the locker room, “Don’t take this time for granted.” These words inspired me to give my full effort to every game I played so that when my basketball career would inevitably come to an end, I would be able to walk away with a sense of contentedness. Although my collegiate career did not come with the accolades I aimed for, I can say that I left it all out on the floor, and this ideology is one I will carry with me in my personal and professional life after college.”

As someone who was fortunate enough to watch Justin Kupa compete on the basketball court, I can assure you he will be a success wherever his life leads him. He’s a born competitor and a natural leader.

Justin Kupa will be working as a software engineer for BlackRock following his graduation in May.


There goes that man again.

Stephen Curry is the best shooter the game of basketball has ever seen. His most recent hot streak can leave little doubt about that statement.

For the month of April, Curry is averaging 39.9 points per game, 6.6 rebounds per game, and 4.3 assists per game. He’s scored 30 or more points in 11 straight games, a first in NBA history for any player age 33 or older. He’s made 54 (!) 3-pointers in his last 6 (!) games. He has 10 or more threes made in 4 of his last 5 games.

Leaving all the numbers aside, Curry is simply the most entertaining basketball player I’ve ever seen. His head fakes, pump fakes and retreat dribbles are marvelous to behold.

He can create his own shot no matter how closely guarded, and he is absolutely astonishing when he’s got room and time to set his feet. Honestly, the way he’s going right now, I’m genuinely surprised when I see him miss a shot, no matter where he takes it from. The man is in a groove.

Watching Curry reminds me of why I enjoy basketball so much. I can never relate to his shooting ability, but I can admire his confidence and his accuracy. The fact that he excels in a big man’s game while being so average in size makes it all the more remarkable.

I would pay money to watch him play in person. There are very few others in the history of the sport that I would say the same about.


Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my brother John’s death. I’ve written about him before, and I’m not going to go into any great detail here this year.

But I want to take this anniversary to remind everyone that if you, or someone you love, is struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, and is depressed and suicidal, there is help, and there are so many people that want to help.

Fear ends where faith begins.

Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline anytime at 1-800-273-8255, or go to their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. If you’re so inclined, you can make a donation in memory of John.

God bless you.

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Discover the Difference


Tuesday
April 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2430


sports...front and center at the best or worst time?


At some point this week, the verdict will be read in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. And when that moment occurs, sports as we know it will take a decidedly different turn.

The three major leagues currently competing in their regular seasons have already issued notices to their teams to expect protests, delays and "unrest" in their locker room and/or community that could lead to several games being postponed.

There's no telling if the post-verdict chaos will be over in one day or five days...but it's looming for sure.

Local communities across the country -- not just Minneapolis -- will experience civil unrest unless the maximum allowable verdict is reached. There will be a strong reaction from athletes and coaches. That's a guarantee.

I don't know about you, but I'm fearing the worst. On a non-sports-level, that is. I've seen what other legal verdicts like the Chauvin trial have done to us in the past and I'm getting the sense this one might be the cake-topper of them all. I sure hope I'm wrong.

What role should Steph Curry and the rest of the NBA have later this week when the Derek Chauvin verdict is announced?

But personal feelings aside, what role should our respective sports teams and leagues play when we're involved in a situation like the Derek Chauvin trial?

We've seen over the last several years that players are willing to simply opt-out of a game or series of games in accordance with their own beliefs about a crime, community issue or court trial. Teams follow suit and cancel games. Leagues, without coming right out and saying it, are forced to encourage this sort of community reconciliation in an effort to show good faith to their members and their employees.

But is that the right thing to do?

I'm asking the question because I don't know the answer.

Because of their profile, athletes are looked at as a measuring stick of sorts. We'd be naive to think otherwise. If "Bob Smith" takes a knee during the national anthem, then it's clearly something everyone else should consider. If "Dave Adams" sits out a series of games while protesting the verdict of a court case, then it's clearly something everyone else should consider. At least that's the message that gets sent when an athlete -- or anyone high-profile -- makes a public declaration in times like these.

It's not that different than an athlete peddling shampoo or sneakers. "I use this product, so you should, too."

"I'm angry with this decision or situation...you should be, too."

We might not be able to avoid what's coming this week once the verdict in Minneapolis is read. If former Officer Chauvin is found guilty of the maximum charge against him, things might not be that bad in the aftermath. But anything less than a "guilty" verdict for 2nd degree murder is going to lead to outrage and unrest.

And I'm wondering if we should be prompting our teams and players to join in with the masses or should we ask them to continue to carry out their duties and try to maintain normalcy in the wake of yet another moment in our country where people seeking justice resort to handing out their own form of injustice by looting, vandalizing and, in extreme cases, hurting or killing other people?

I don't know the answer. If I did, I'd bottle it up and package it for the next time we face this situation in our country.

But I think it's worth asking the question: Should we ask our athletes and teams to enter the fray of political unrest or should we ask them to maintain their own focus and do what we expect of them?

I watched Steph Curry pour in 49 points last night in Golden State's win over Philadelphia. I didn't need last night to tell me how great he is, but his performance on Monday evening reminded me of his unique skill set...which is matched only by his remarkable competitive fire and professionalism. There's something about watching him play that reminds you of how extraordinary these high-level athletes are and how privileged we are as sports fans to see them perform in the spotlight.

I understand Steph Curry might have personal feelings about the Chauvin trial and, when the verdict comes down this week, he might also have a reaction -- either planned or spontaneous -- that we will see unfold in front of us. I think we should respect that reaction because Curry, like the rest of us, is entitled to his opinion on the outcome of the case.

But I also think our athletes could go out of their way to try and quell some of the unrest when (or if) it happens. As much as they want to use their platform to "reach people", they could do just that in the wake of the verdict and implore folks in their respective communities to maintain some civility while the unrest is occurring in their streets.

Shouldn't Major League Baseball be telling their teams and players to prepare a campaign urging "civility" rather than "outrage"? Should the NBA be doing the same thing? And the NHL? The NFL isn't playing right now, but they, too, should be reaching out to their teams and players with the same message.

This isn't to say that professional athletes can't be angered or disappointed with anything they feel is is unjust. They have that right.

Rather, the question is, what value comes from contributing to anger and outrage in the community vs. what value comes from asking for civility and decency when we feel we've been done wrong?

Is Steph Curry -- just as an example -- more valuable to the situation by protesting and sitting out a game or games or is he more valuable posting messages of encouragement, playing games like he normally would, and asking people in his community to protest "the right way" without hurting others or damaging their property or businesses?

I'm just asking the question. Others will answer it at some point this week.

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


americans abroad


This week began with two Americans playing in decisive Champions League quarterfinals and continued with a weekend full of important cup and league matches. Several Americans delivered standout performances to help their teams win trophies and solidify their league standings.

The final legs of the Champions League quarterfinals kicked off on Tuesday with Chelsea “hosting” Porto in Seville, Spain. Chelsea brought a 2-0 advantage from the first leg and just needed to maintain that margin to advance.

Christian Pulisic got the start for Chelsea and delivered his second straight man of the match performance. The American star was the focal point of the Chelsea attack in a choppy game. He provided a consistent outlet to beat the Porto press and was relentlessly fouled throughout the game. Pulisic drew eleven fouls on the night, which is the most a player had been fouled in a Champions League game since Leo Messi in 2011 against Real Madrid.

Hershey, PA native Christian Pulisic continues to shine for Chelsea of the English Premier League.

Chelsea gave up a late goal on a spectacular bicycle kick by Mehdi Taremi, but the 1-0 loss was enough for the London side to advance 2-1 on aggregate. They will face Real Madrid in the semifinals, who drew 0-0 with Liverpool for a 3-1 aggregate win.

Over the weekend Chelsea were in another semifinal, in the English FA Cup, where they took on Manchester City. Zack Steffen started in goal for Man City while Pulisic started on the bench and came on as a sub in the middle of the second half. Chelsea led 1-0 when he entered, from a Hakim Ziyech goal. Pulisic nearly doubled the score with a nice goal late in the game, but it was called back for an offside. Chelsea held on to the 1-0 lead and will advance to face Leicester City in the final.

In Wednesday’s Champions League action it was Borussia Dortmund playing Manchester City. Steffen was the backup goalie for this one and Gio Reyna subbed on in the second half. Young English player Jude Bellingham scored in the 15th minute to give Dortmund an early lead and hope for the upset, but Man City evened the score on a Riyad Mahrez penalty early in the second half.

Reyna entered with the scored tied at 1-1 and helped spark the Dortmund attack with a few nice touches that drew fouls in dangerous areas. The German club was unable to capitalize though, and Man City put the game out of reach on a scorching shot from English youngster Phil Foden in the 75th minute for a 2-1 win and 4-2 aggregate to knock Dortmund out of the competition.

Man City will face Paris St. Germain in the semifinals after the French team did just enough to hold off reigning champions Bayern Munich. Bayern were 1-0 winners on Tuesday but that was only enough to tie the aggregate score at 3-3 and Paris advanced on their superior away goal total.

Reyna was a key performer in Dortmund’s 4-1 win over Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Sunday. The young American started and scored Dortmund’s first goal in the middle of the first half with a rocket into the top right corner from just outside the box. The goal tied the game at 1-1 and Dortmund dominated from there, picking up a key three points to keep them in reach of the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Reyna was dangerous throughout the game, helping to set up the third Dortmund goal with a driving run and creating several more chances.

In Spain on Saturday, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao met for the final of the Spanish Cup (Copa del Rey). Sergino Dest started at right wing back for Barcelona and delivered a solid performance in a masterful blowout win. Barcelona thoroughly dominated the game, with big performances from Leo Messi and Frenkie De Jong.

Dest created several good chances for his teammates from the right wing and had a nice touch to help facilitate one of Messi’s two goals. WIth the win, he became the first American player to win the Spanish Cup.

In France, Tim Weah started for Lille as they looked to maintain their lead in the race for the league title. Weah shifted between the right wing and center forward during the game and put in a good performance.

He was especially sharp in the first half where he set up one golden chance for a teammate and had another himself that forced a tough save from the keeper. He was subbed off midway through the second half and Lille settled for a 1-1 draw. With Paris St. Germain winning their weekend game, Lille’s lead is down to one point.

In the German Bundesliga, two US National team players went head to head on Friday, when Hoffenheim visited RB Leipzig. Tyler Adams started at center midfield for Leipzig and Chris Richards started at center back for Hoffenheim. Both players had solid games in a 0-0 draw.

Adams will want back a chance he had in the second half where he missed a relatively open header. Other than that he brought his usual energetic defensive coverage and accurate passing. He led the game in distance covered by a wide margin. Richards was a key reason Leipzig couldn’t score, the young defender was an impenetrable wall in the back, winning nearly every one on one battle and making multiple key defensive stops.

In other Bundesliga action, John Brooks started for Wolfsburg in a 3-2 loss to Bayern Munich but they remain in third place in the league. Josh Sargent was a late sub in the 4-1 loss to Dortmund.

Elsewhere around Europe, Weston McKennie was back in the starting lineup for Juventus in a 1-0 loss to Atalanta that leaves them clinging to the fourth Champions League spot in Serie A.

Bryan Reynolds made his second start for Roma in a 3-1 loss to Torino. Brenden Aaronson started for RB Salzburg in a 2-0 win that continues their cruise to another league title. Yunus Musah delivered a strong performance for Valencia in a 2-2 draw with Real Betis.

Antonee Robinson started for Fulham in a 1-1 draw with Arsenal that leaves them still struggling to escape relegation. Daryl Dike started for Barnsley in a 2-0 loss to Coventry, but they remain in the playoff positions for promotion. Finally, Jordan Siebatcheu helped BSC Young Boys to a 3-0 win over Lugano that clinched the Swiss League title.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Monday
April 19
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#2429


10% gone...how we doing?


If not for a boneheaded Maikel Franco baserunning blunder, our Birds could be a .500 team at the 10% mark of the 2021 season.

Even still, a 7-9 record isn't all that bad when you consider how poor the O's offense has been in the first three weeks of the season. In yesterday's 1-0 loss at Texas, the Birds scraped together just five hits in ten innings. They did manage to win 2 of 3 over the Rangers, but the bats are still in their early spring slumber.

But at least one starting pitcher isn't "slumbering" in the first 16 games of the season: John Means. Means threw seven innings of 3-hit ball on Sunday, striking out 9 and walking just 2. Despite getting zero offensive help, he kept the Birds in the game en-route to lowering his ERA to a sparkling 1.52 on the season.

Trey Mancini leads the Orioles in home runs (3), but is struggling at the plate in the first month of the 2021 campaign.

A couple of O's perked up at the plate vs. the Rangers, including the aforementioned Franco, who homered in the 9th inning of Saturday's 6-1 win before wearing the goat horns on Sunday when his base running faux pas robbed the O's of the go ahead run in the 10th inning. Franco's 14 RBI lead the team and his successful weekend in Texas raised his batting average to .254.

Freddy Galvis spent most of the first two weeks of the campaign below the Mendoza line, but his numbers also spiked in the 3-game series with the Rangers. Galvis is now hitting a modest .245, which is far better than the .170 he was showing this time last week.

Ryan Mountcastle (.180) and Trey Mancini (.186) continue to struggle at the plate, but their time will come. They're both not going to hit below .200 for much longer. At least that's the hope...

If you're a believer in trends and numbers and such, 7-9 every 16 games would leave the Birds right around the 70-win mark for 2021. That number seems a tad high given the O's lack of offense to date, but the wager here is the bats will wake up at some point soon. If the starting pitching continues to be decent, a 16-16 record at the 20% mark of the campaign doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility at all.

Here's a look at the next 16 games on the O's schedule.

April 20-21 at Miami (2 games)

April 23-25 vs. Oakland (3)

April 26-29 vs. New York Yankees (4)

April 30-May 2 at Oakland (3)

May 3-5 at Seattle (3)

May 7 vs. Boston

One funny note about the early season schedule and baseball in April in general.

I asked five friends of mine what the O's record was before Sunday's 1-0 loss to the Rangers. All five of these guys are sports fans who follow baseball, football, etc. One of them (Steve) has been a 29-game ticket plan holder since 2010.

DF: "So, what's the Orioles record as of today?"

Mark: "How many games have they played? (When told they've played 15.) I'll say 5-10."

Dan: "6-9?"

Jason: "I have no idea. Whatever I say will be wrong. 5-10?"

Steve: "I know they got off to a good start. They swept the Red Sox in Boston. I'll say 9-6."

Paul: "No clue at all. 7-8?"

Funny enough, the guy with "no clue at all" was the only one to know the O's were, in fact, 7-8 heading into yesterday's game in Texas.

Doesn't anyone have a daily interest in the standings anymore? How can four people who supposedly follow the Orioles and baseball in general not know the team's record after 15 games? Come on, guys. Stay in it.


In case you missed it 10 days ago, ESPN's Scott Van Pelt and longtime Washington Post writer John Feinstein got into a fairly heated -- and very public -- back-and-forth on social media during the network's coverage of the Masters Friday a week ago.

It's rare for two media members to lash out at one another like they did, but certainly not rare for Feinstein to take umbrage with something connected to the Masters. The former Golf Channel analyst has never been shy about making his feelings known about Augusta National, where the tournament committee insists on a number of "rules" that broadcasters and journalists must follow during their coverage of the annual event.

Yesterday at Hilton Head, for example, you might have heard an announcer say, "All Stewart Cink needs to do on the 14th hole is avoid the rough down the right side..."

Editor's note: I have no idea if #14 at Sea Pines is, in fact, a par 4. This was just an example. In case the "course police" are reading and waiting to pounce.

At the Masters, that same announcer would have been obligated to say, "All Stewart Cink needs to do at number 14 is avoid the first cut down the right side..."

You can't say "rough" at Augusta National. It's "the first cut".

Back in November, when the course played soft due to earlier rains, a player hit a drive down the fairway at the 10th and Dottie Pepper, the on-course reporter, said, "The lie is fine but there is some mud on the ball, which might make this next shot a little more difficult."

A few minutes later, after someone from CBS got in her ear, Pepper said, "Here's another drive on the 10th that has picked up some earth...and that could definitely impact the trajectory of the approach shot."

You can't say "mud on the ball" at Augusta National. Pepper found that out and said, "earth" instead. A few minutes later when a camera picked up a ball in the fairway with "something" on it, Pepper didn't say a word and the camera actually shifted away quite quickly. No more mention of "anything" on the ball...that was the easiest way for CBS and the announcing crew to abide by the strict regulations of Augusta National.

Those people you see walking around? They're "patrons". They are not fans. Fans, we've come to find out, are things you put in your window to blow a soft summer breeze into the kitchen. Patrons are people who buy tickets to the Masters and roam the hallowed grounds to watch the best golfers play the best course in the world.

There's a story from a couple of decades back where Lanny Wadkins, then a broadcaster for CBS, was at a pre-tournament dinner/working meeting at Augusta National on Monday night of Masters week. Wadkins, for reasons only he knows, somehow stumbled into the member's locker room to use the bathroom. He was approached in there by a club official who had been asked to take Wadkins to then-Chairman Hootie Johnson's office.

Wadkins entered the room and was greeted warmly by Johnson. The Chairman reached behind his desk and pulled down a Masters book and handed it to Wadkins.

"Lanny, my memory is getting bad the older I get," Johnson reportedly said. "Can you show me in that "History of the Masters" what year you won the tournament?"

"Mr. Johnson," Wadkins said. "I never did win the Masters. I won the PGA and --"

"I didn't think you ever won the Masters," Johnson said, interrupting Wadkins. "Therefore, sir, you don't belong in the member's locker room, do you? Don't ever step foot in there again."

Wadkins lasted four short years as the lead analyst for CBS.

Now you have a very small picture of what it's like "on the inside" at Augusta National. They make up the rules and you can follow along -- nicely, of course -- or you can stay away every April.

Feinstein, apparently, would prefer to stay away.

Van Pelt, because he likes his job, wants to continue at ESPN and wants to remain part of their Masters coverage. So when they tell Van Pelt it's "first cut" he says, "first cut". When they remind Van Pelt the people watching are "patrons", they are, in fact, "patrons".

The spat between the two got off to a rocky start in part because Van Pelt thought Feinstein was talking about him when he mentioned "the mute button" in one of his first tweets. Feinstein was actually simply referring to the archaic rules and "obligations" handed down by the folks at the Masters, but he also wasn't all warm and fuzzy about ESPN in follow-up messages once the Twitter scrap started to get ugly.

No matter which side you were on, everyone was sorta-kinda right. Van Pelt was simply doing what he was told to do by his boss, the same way Rick Dempsey used to start off the post-game show at MASN after an 11-3 O's loss by saying, "Let me say this...the whole game changed on that 3-2 pitch in the first inning that was clearly a strike. That lead-off walk and then the 2-run homer that followed got the whole first inning off to a terrible start."

Dempsey's boss, like Van Pelt's, wanted Dempsey to tell the viewers they saw something different than an 11-3 loss. "They lost 11-3, but they didn't allow a run in the last two innings," Dempsey would say. "That's something to build on for tomorrow night." If you were one of the folks who labored through all 9 innings and watched the post-game show, it was almost comedic relief to hear the analysts shift and shimmy their way through the truth and find any morsel of positivity they could as the O's were losing for the 8th time in 10 games.

Van Pelt likes his $4 million annual salary. He likes it enough that saying "patrons" isn't that much of an inconvenience. I don't know about you, but I don't see much wrong with acquiescing to a few nuances like "don't say mud..." or "don't call it "the rough..." I can think it's silly and still follow directions at the same time.

Feinstein is also right. The Masters has long been a place where they tell you what you can and can't do and you either follow along or you hit the road.

And Feinstein's right when he says sometimes it's better to hit the mute button than to have to listen to it. I mean, there's mud on the ball. It's that simple. Suggesting it's something other than mud is, well, ignoring the reality that mud is, in fact, on the ball. Just because Dottie Pepper can't say it doesn't mean that when Justin Rose hits his shot from the 10th fairway with mud on his ball, it's not going to hook viciously left of the green.

The ball knows it has mud on it, even if Dottie's not allowed to say it.

Vijay Singh was on the 8th hole (oops, there I go: he was "on number 8") in a practice round circa 2010. It was late in the day, no one was around, and Singh was enjoying the peace and quiet of a front-nine stroll with his caddie.

Singh hit a tee shot down the fairway at #8 when a Masters official approached him. "Mr. Singh, you'll recall in your tournament handbook the golf course closes at 6 pm in order for our maintenance crew to perform their duties in preparation for tomorrow's play."

Singh replied, "You must not remember I won this tournament once."

The Masters official drove out to Vijay's ball in the middle of the fairway, picked it up and drove in. When Singh arrived at his locker a while later, the ball, and a note, were both waiting for him.

You can imagine what was in the note.

It's unlikely Singh plays after 6 pm any longer.

Van Pelt and Feinstein are both highly competent journalists and broadcasters. That they apparently don't care for one another is sad, but they both should champion one another, not bring each other down.

Even worse, they've let the prickly nature of Augusta National get in the way of what should be a solid, professional friendship. That's too bad.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


Remember a few weeks ago when there were all those (legitimate) complaints about the NCAA women’s basketball “bubble” in San Antonio compared to the men’s bubble in Indianapolis? Well, it only took a little time for another sport to blow up.

This time it was women’s volleyball, which is playing its “fall” championship now, in the spring, and like basketball entirely in one city, in this case Omaha. By the way, college volleyball is a big deal in Nebraska. The Cornhusker women’s team, which has won five NCAA titles, sells out an 8,000-seat arena in Lincoln for every home game!

The problem in Omaha, it seems, is that the coaches involved in the tournament felt like the NCAA was treating the event more like a high school or AAU tournament than a Division I college championship. And I have to say…they were kinda right.

The first three rounds of the tournament were played inside a convention center, at which there were four games occurring simultaneously, on four courts spread over two of the center’s halls. The third hall featured eight practice courts crammed into a space that probably wasn’t big enough for them.

Sounds a lot like an AAU tournament to me, which is ok on the surface, I guess. But these Division I college teams are used to a bit more than that, even the ones from small conferences with small gyms. At least they get to play their matches without any distractions…it’s not like the basketball team is over practicing on the side court during the match.

There was also an issue with the broadcast streams originating from Omaha. Originally, the NCAA was to stream the first and second round without play-by-play announcers or analysts. The organization then doubled down on that in response to criticism, saying that there was no requirement by the sport committee to provide live commentary. Magically, the next day, that changed, and all 47 matches in the first two rounds had announcers. I’m sure they were great!

I often talk about this, but today’s college athletics is about more than games and practices and tournaments and teamwork. The No. 1 focus of most athletic departments is on what they would call the “student-athlete experience.” It’s filtered down even to the Division III level, where you’d think the expectation wouldn’t be as big.

Unfortunately, a lot of what encompasses the student-athlete experience has gone away due to the pandemic. Athletic departments can’t do what they always do for the volleyball team, and I’m sure the NCAA thought the same thing. They probably thought they were doing the best they could, considering the circumstances.

But I’ll say what I said about the women’s basketball tournament. Having the event in one city was a chance for the NCAA to make it different in a better way, and once again it didn’t happen that way.


I have a question for the #DMD audience. What do you think about doubleheaders featuring seven-inning games instead of nine-inning games?

My answer? In a vacuum, I think they’re great. And in a 162-game season over six months, they’ll easily fade in with every other game.

Here’s what I mean. Nobody wants to play doubleheaders, and nobody really has the time to care about every inning of a doubleheader. Playing seven-inning games helps in those regards, and it also helps with pitching staffs, which is no small thing. Plus, when a team is fighting for a playoff spot in September, I don’t think any fan is going to look back and feel cheated by the fact that their team lost a seven-inning game in June.

Here’s some interesting data. From 1957-2020, when the home team was ahead by just one run after seven innings, that team won the game 82 percent of the time. Even midway through the sixth inning, that percentage was better than seven out of 10. There’s probably much more “integrity” to comparing the results of seven-inning games to nine-inning games than you might believe.

I do think that the system would work better, so to speak, if teams had scheduled doubleheaders as they might have in a different generation. As it stands, what happens now—as happened to the Orioles and Mariners twice last week—is that games which were originally scheduled for nine innings instead become seven innings. There’s something unfair about that, especially since teams will not have the same number of shortened games.

From a historical baseball perspective, there’s been much written about the dominance of today’s bullpens as opposed to the past. That covers a lot of subjects, but one of them is just how much the big-time bullpens of the 21st century have eliminated the late-inning comeback. Those dominant Yankees teams from 20 years or so ago made that an art form, and lots of other teams have mirrored that success over short periods of time.

In fact, I’d argue that one of the best reasons for using the bullpen in the way teams do is that it eliminates surprises. You know what you’re going to get much more often than not, which must be comforting to the manager. I know it’s comforting to me.

Some other time, we can talk about placing the runner on second base with no outs to begin extra innings. I’ll only say one thing about that, which is that the rule is a lot like college football overtime, which I hate. For nine (or seven) innings you play baseball, and for four quarters you play football, and in each case the game immediately switches and resets to something else.


I’m not here to argue with the boss (not “The Boss”) about golf or entertainers, and certainly not about the Blast. Those have to be the five Orioles you’d pick; Manny Machado was mentioned as a brief thought, and I’ve said here before that Manny is the most talented player I’ve seen in an Orioles uniform.

I’d add Mike Mussina, a brilliant pitcher with a brilliant mind who was most brilliant when he was an Oriole. I think Jim Palmer would say Moose is the second best in team history (Palmer, it must be noted, isn’t exactly modest).

I have only one argument…about the list the boss said isn’t debatable. Lamar Jackson is among the top five best Ravens in our lifetime. Personally, I don’t think that’s debatable, and I’m saying that after just 37 starts and a bunch of disappointing playoff games.

Ray Lewis is probably among the top 20 NFL players all time at any position and Ed Reed might be in the top 50. Jonathan Ogden made the Hall of Fame in his first attempt. 1-2-3 of course. After that, I seriously might put Jackson at No. 4. Ahead of Marshal Yanda and Terrell Suggs, both of whom might make the Hall of Fame.

Look, I scream at and criticize and wonder about Jackson as much as any other guy or girl who roots for the Ravens. I also think he’s the most spectacular football player I’ve ever watched, and he’s been that way while winning at an incredibly high percentage. He should be there.

Justin Tucker is a kicker, and kickers can’t be compared to other football players. I love kickers. I’ve written about kickers here before. Kickers are important, and as a whole they are far better than ever before. Tucker is the best kicker by percentage in NFL history. For that, he should be recognized. Plus, who doesn’t love him? That ought to be enough.

Picking the five best baseball players overall is a tough one, even if you cut it off at about 1980. I actually think A-Rod was “underrated,” as hard as that might be to believe. He was Cal Ripken if Cal was twice as good as he was. In a purely un-sabermetric and unscientific way, I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone hit the ball with such “quality” as Rodriguez did.

A-Rod and Ken Griffey, Jr., played together as full-time players for four seasons. Amazingly, as great as they were, the Mariners never won more than 90 games in those four years and twice finished below .500. Edgar Martinez joined those two, and in 1998 Seattle finished 76-85. Apparently it helps to have a few decent pitchers in baseball as well.

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Sunday
April 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2428


the best


Ask and ye shall receive.

Chris Dickinson sent me this e-mail on Tuesday of this past week.

Hey Drew, I've been a loyal Dish reader since day one of publication. I was also a daily listener back in the radio days. It was great to hear you on 105.7 with Terry Ford last night talking about the Masters. It brought back some great memories! Anyway, I was hoping I could ask a favor. My birthday is this Sunday, April 18 and I love your Dish editions that have lists in them. If you would indulge me on my birthday, I'd like to give you eight topics and get your opinion on the "Best Of" from your lifetime. I'm 44 and I know you're a bit older than me but I think we share a lot of the same common interests despite our age difference. You might even remember me, personally, as I was the guy who brought you a Springsteen button at the show in Baltimore whenever that was and gave it to you at the pre party at the Baltimore hotel.

There was some other personal stuff in the e-mail, but that was the gist of it.

And because birthdays are important, especially as we get older, I'm here today to give Chris that gift he wants! His eight topics are below, along with my personal "best of" lists. Feel free to throw your lists in below as well. Chris asked for mine but I'm sure he's interested in your list(s) as well.

Happy Birthday Chris...and keep reaching for the stars. (That was from Casey Kasem.)


Five Best Orioles --

1. Jim Palmer

2. Frank Robinson

3. Eddie Murray

4. Cal Ripken Jr.

5. Brooks Robinson

Note: I ranked these in terms of their quality and performance while in Baltimore. I have always thought Jim Palmer was better than everyone. His numbers are staggering. I came close, honestly, to putting Manny Machado in at #5 but he was really only "great" for a few years.


Where does Marshal Yanda rank on the Ravens "all-time" list?

Five Best Ravens --

1. Ray Lewis

2. Ed Reed

3. Jon Ogden

4. Justin Tucker

5. Marshal Yanda

Note: This was kind of a "blah" list because I can't imagine anyone would debate the five I listed. Maybe you would just to be a contrarian, but the reality is, from a quality standpoint, no one has been better than those five. You might argue positioning. I could make a legitimate argument that purely from a standpoint of "quality" that Tucker is the best Raven ever, but I don't feel like spoiling Chris's birthday.


Five Best Baltimore golf courses --

1. Baltimore Country Club (East)

2. Woodholme CC

3. Caves Valley GC

4. Country Club of Maryland

5. Maryland Golf & Country Club

Note: This list was compiled based only on one thing. "Ability to shoot par or better when the course is in its optimum condition." This is not about course layout or my "favorite" or anything else. I ranked it strictly on ability to shoot par when the course is playing its toughest. To me, BCC East and Woodholme CC are easily 1-2, and you could make an argument that Woodholme might even be #1.


Five Best Rock Bands --

1. Led Zeppelin

2. Pearl Jam

3. Aerosmith

4. Dave Matthews Band

5. R.E.M.

Note: I ranked this based on a bunch of elements. Ranking a band isn't like ranking an athlete or team. I considered longevity, records sold, touring revenue (tickets sold), sound and "personal preference". I realize I'm the only person alive who would rank these five in that order. This isn't my "favorite" list of bands. I like R.E.M. but they wouldn't crack my top 5. Neither would Aerosmith, even though I think they're awesome.


82 career wins, 15 major titles, 142 consecutive cuts made...the best ever.

Five Best PGA golfers --

1. Tiger Woods

2. Jack Nicklaus

3. Phil Mickelson

4. Tom Watson

5. Greg Norman

This was a hard one to compile. As you can see, with Woods ranked ahead of Jack and Phil ranked ahead of Watson, I didn't just rely on major championships as the barometer, because that's only a speck of a player's career. Norman, as an example, has the same number of major wins as Lee Janzen, Mark O'Meara and Zach Johnson, but he had more golfing ability and talent than all three of those guys combined. I only considered players post-1975, so Hogan and Snead and Nelson weren't even considered. I think there's an argument that Norman was the 3rd best of all of them purely from a hitting-the-golf-ball standpoint. He might still be the best driver of the ball in modern history, although McIlroy supporters might differ on that one.


Five Best Blast players --

1. Stan Stamenkovic

2. Mike Stankovic

3. Scott Manning

4. Bruce Savage

5. Joey Fink

Note: This was a weird list because I only considered Blast players pre-1992. Once the original MISL folded and the talent level of the indoor game dropped off, there was really no one else worth considering for the top 5. There have been lots of talented Blast players over the last 20 years, don't get me wrong. But none of them were better than the five I listed from the pre-1992 era.


Five Best Baseball Players --

1. Mike Trout

2. Barry Bonds

3. Rickey Henderson

4. Alex Rodriguez

5. Ken Griffey Jr.

Note: This was, by far, the "weirdest" of all eight lists. First, I only listed players in my "viewing lifetime", which, I decided, meant I wouldn't consider anyone before 1980. I will admit there's recency bias with Trout, but I'm hedging that by the time his career is over, he'll have all the numbers he needs to be #1. In my mind, I've never seen a more complete player than Trout. I realize there's a "steroid era" discussion with Bonds, Henderson, Rodriguez and Griffey Jr., but I can't parse through that stuff and figure out how to rank people, so I just assume they were all on the juice and go from there.


Five Best Actors --

1. Tom Hanks

2. Robert DeNiro

3. Denzel Washington

4. Sean Penn

5. Leonardo DiCaprio

Note: Another hard-to-compile list. Thanks a lot, Chris. Hard to leave off the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and Robin Williams, but only five could stay and those were my five.

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Saturday
April 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2427


saturday nuggets


I realize 427 career at-bats (not even one full season) is a relatively small sample size when it comes to Major League Baseball.

And I know all about how it works in the big leagues. A kid comes up from the minors, is overpowered at first, eventually settles in and figures some stuff out and then..."the book" on him gets compiled after a year or so and pitchers and managers know what he likes to swing at and what he doesn't like to swing at and that, finally, is when everyone gets to see just how good the player actually is.

The Orioles haven't had many talanted "home grown" players over the last 20 years. There have been some, of course. On the present team, Trey Mancini quickly comes to mind. Gone but not forgotten are guys like Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, Matt Wieters and others.

Boyce Cedric Mullins could be a keeper.

Cedric Mullins is off to a great start as the O's everyday centerfielder in 2021.

I know it's early. 427 at bats does not a career make. I get it. But the signs are there that the Orioles just might have a legitimate, home grown star in the making.

Sure, his power numbers aren't going to blow you away. He has one home run in 14 games this season, which averages out to somewhere around 10 or 12 dingers a season. My guess is that's about where he'll finish for the campaign. And his 3 RBI aren't going to earn him April player-of-the-month honors, either, although I suspect by season's end he'll finish with 40 or 50 of those.

But that young man can hit and he can field his position. His 2-for-4 performance in Texas last night -- O's won, 5-2, for those of you who don't watch with any regularity -- was the catalyst for a much-needed victory. He raised his early-season average to .396 and upped his on-base-percentage to a whopping .458. Both of those numbers are not only tops on the team -- by a longshot -- but also two of the highest totals in all of the American League.

In fact, Mullins leads the entire American League in hits with 21.

This is a pretty good start for a 13th round draft pick.

Not only can he hit, but the 26-year old can field his position as well. I'll let other baseball experts break down his efficiency against the guy he ultimately replaced -- Adam Jones -- but it's fair to say Mullins can hold his own out there with the likes of some other talented O's centerfielders like Jones and Bumbry. As good as Paul Blair? Well, that would be an extraordinary career accomplishment. But there are early signs that Mullins is a Gold Glove outfielder waiting to happen.

Yes, I realize it's early still. I've mentioned that twice already because it bears repeating. "The book" will eventually come out on Mullins across the American League and pitchers and catchers will have an idea of how to approach him at the plate. For now, though, Mullins is getting the best of them.

Prior to the start of 2021, Mullins changed his hitting approach and opted only to hit from the left side of the plate. That decision is seemingly working wonders for him. Ever since the change, guess what he's doing more of? Hitting.

This O's team is talent-starved, for sure. There's Mancini (who, by the way, is really struggling at the plate thus far in '21), Santander (also struggling) and Mountcastle (also struggling) who look like the real deal and maybe even D.J. Stewart -- and that's about it.

And there's Cedric Mullins who, right now, is by far having the best year of any of the Baby Birds. It's been fun to watch thus far, despite the losing.


UMBC hired a new basketball coach this week and the name alone shows you that a gig at UMBC is, in fact, a coveted mid-major job.

Follwing the departure of highly successful Ryan Odom, UMBC has turned their men's basketball program over to Jim Ferry.

Jim Ferry, who was once an assistant coach at Penn State (and interim head coach for a little while), takes over in Catonsville after Ryan Odom finally decided to cash in from UMBC's shocking March Madness win a few years ago and take over at Utah State.

Ferry is familiar with mid-major hoops. He started his career at LIU Brooklyn and made two straight trips to the NCAA tournament after winning the Northeast Conference in 2011 and 2012. Ferry then moved on to Duquesne in the Atlantic 10 but wasn't able to duplicate the success he had in New York. In five years, the Dukes went .500 or better just once and never threatened to win the A-10.

He then moved on to Penn State as an assistant under Pat Chambers and was the Nittany Lions' head coach in '20-21 after Chambers resigned just prior to the start of the season. Penn State finished 11-14 overall and 7-12 in the Big Ten, with two wins over Maryland, you might remember.

Ferry arrives in Baltimore with UMBC firmly entrenched as one of the top programs in the America East conference. He should find recruiting to be somewhat easy; the program is still a "name" because of the win over #1 seed Virginia in 2018 and the school's academic success is widely documented.

I'm not saying Ferry's going to snap his fingers and say "you're coming to UMBC" and kids will follow, but 20 years ago when you said "UMBC" to a kid in the Mid-Atlantic, he responded with "where's that?". That's no longer the case.

The proof will be in the pudding, of course. But I like the Ferry hiring. Ryan Odom was clearly a success story on Wilkens Avenue, but I suspect the new man will have some of his own as well.


I participated in a ZOOM coaching panel discussion earlier this week with roughly 50 other high school coaches across the country and was designated to provide a topic for a break-out room deep dive. The coaches knew in advance what the various topics were for those rooms and I was pleased to see 14 other coaches signed up for mine. I was nervous no one would sign up and I'd be in the room by myself.

My topic was the paradigm that exists with high school athletes (in my case, golfers) as it relates to their opinion of their own talents and abilities and how that can both help and hurt them.

It's my experience that each athlete faces this three-pronged equation. "How good they really are, vs. how good they think they are vs. what they're actually capable of doing."

This equation is very useful in golf. One baseball coach from New York call immediately blurted out, "I deal with this every single day, I love it!" which made me feel good. At least I knew one of the 14 men and women in my break-out room was listening.

We then had an awesome discussion for 25 minutes on the paradigm and the way to observe it and confront it with the student-athlete.

My general experience in sports is most high school golfers tend to "over estimate" their capabilities. Club selection is probably where this comes out the most.

"How far do you hit your 7-iron?" I ask all of my players early in the season. Once I know how far they hit that club, I have a pretty good idea how far they hit everything else.

I'd say 80% of the time, how far they tell me they hit their 7-iron doesn't actually match how far they really do hit their 7-iron. Generally, if a player says "I hit it 165 yards", that means they hit it more like 155 yards. What happens is this: On one occasion last August, while it was 94 degrees and the humidity was soaring, they hit their 7-iron 165 yards and flew the green at Rocky Point or Greystone. There might have even been a hint of a tailwind behind them.

They now hit their 7-iron 165 yards...

That one moment, where they flushed it 165 yards, becomes their normal 7-iron distance. Except it's not.

And until someone points it out to them, they're likely to keep on thinking 165 yards is how far they hit their 7-iron. Rather than take the composition of, say, 30 7-irons and average them out to come up with their maximum distance for that club, they take the best one they ever hit and just assume they're going to hit every 7-iron that far.

This math equation (Opinion vs. Reality vs. Capabilities) probably works in other sports as well. Quarterback might be an example, in fact. A high school QB makes one throw of 50 yards downfield and suddenly believes he can make that throw 10 times a game. Meanwhile, 7 of the other 10 throws from 50 yards wobble aimlessly about 35 yards, ballooning into the air before being picked off by a cornerback. But that one throw, the great one from 50 yards two months ago, is the one that sticks out in his mind.

Administering this paradigm and explaining it to the athlete requires care, because you're asking the student-athlete to put your coaching opinion over what they believe, what their parents have told them and what their teammates have told them. It's a slippery slope, indeed.

In my case, when I say, "I know you think you hit your pitching wedge 145 yards, but you actually don't," it comes with an initial amount of skepticism that only gets overruled once they hit their pitching wedge 145 yards and it actually comes up 55 feet short of the pin.

It might even take weeks or even a full season in any particular sport before it all sinks in and they start to understand.

I'm using it more and more in high school golf. "Here's how good you think you are...here's how good you actually are...and here's what your capable of doing, right now." Sometimes they don't like to hear it. Sometimes you get the player who wants to improve and they do understand it, which it makes all the more worthwhile.

I got an awesome thank you e-mail from a girl's basketball coach in Virginia yesterday who said he has four players on his team that he sat down with on Friday morning and discussed it with and all four were receptive to the concept.

For those of you out there who coach young teens or high school players (in any sport), see if it works for you, too.

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Friday
April 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2426


the answers...are all right here


It's been a few weeks since we did a Q and A. I apologize to those of you who send in questions each week that I don't get around to answering. I'll try and make this more of a regular feature.

Here are some of the more recent ones, just so we're timely with the Q & A.


Kent asks -- "Any early concerns about Ryan Mountcastle as a big league player? He's really scuffling so far."

DF: "Well, I think it's safe to say he doesn't have a future as an outfielder, but that's not a surprise to anyone. It's not like they thought he would be a gold glover out there or anything like that. He'll eventually settle in (at least in the A.L.) as a full-time DH, but that might take a couple of years. Maybe they can give him some work at first base. Chris Davis wasn't great with the glove, remember, but he worked hard and eventually was one of the best defensive first basemen in the league. As for Mountcastle at the plate, sure, he's struggling so far, but that's to be expected. There is a HUGE difference between minor league pitching and major league pitching. It's going to take him some time to get adjusted to it. I love his swing. He'll be fine."


Can he win another major? DF says it won't happen.

Dave asks -- "Now that Hideki Matsuyama has finally won his first major what's your take on his career? He's only 29. How many more can he win do you think?"

DF says -- "I don't think he'll ever win another one unless his putting drastically improves. I hate to say that and sound "harsh" about it. Oddly enough, his strengths last week (driving and chipping) are two things that do bode well for him in the future at Augusta National, so I guess it's not out of the question that he could win there again someday. Bubba Watson was never a great putter but he has two green jackets. If you made me bet "Matsuyama wins another major" or "Matsuyama never wins another major", I'd bet he never wins another one."


Carl in Owings Mills asks -- "A couple of weeks until the NFL Draft. What do you think the Ravens should do with their first pick?"

DF says -- "I think you still have to wait and see what happens in free agency this week and next. If they sign Houston or Ingram (or both), the need for a defensive end/rush linebacker softens a bit. We know they need wide receiver help, despite the Sammy Watkins acquisition. I'm still leaning towards Bateman from Minnesota, if he's there, which is kind of doubtful at this point. I know this wouldn't be a popular move, but if there's a stud tight end available that might not be a bad idea. Andrews is a free agent after this season and I know the Ravens are trying to extend him now, but if something happens and they can't get it done, they'll need a tight end to replace him. You could always do that next year in the draft, but if you can draft one this year who helps you win in '21, why not?"


Tyler Cronin asks -- "Your friends at the Varsity Sports Network have been running articles over the last month listing the best high school players of the last decade in various sports. A two-part question for your next Q & A. Who is the best high school golfer of the last decade that you've seen and who is the best athlete from any other sport you've seen in the last decade? Thanks."

DF says -- "First off, remember the list that they're doing at Varsity Sports Network -- which is excellent, by the way -- is only MIAA (boys) or IAAM (girls) athletes. My experience is only with those same athletes, obviously. The first answer is easy, but I'm going to recuse myself from that question for obvious reasons. To the second part, I'd say the best athlete I've seen in that time would be a tie, simply because they both immediately come to mind; Gavin Sheets, baseball player at Gilman, and Phil Booth, basketball player at Mount Saint Joseph. I should also remind you I haven't seen every athlete from every sport. There have been some very good soccer players along the way, too, including Ben Bender from Calvert Hall, who I thought was one of the best high school soccer players I've seen, anywhere."


Parker asks -- "For a future Drew's Dish Q & A, please answer this one. Because of salary cap issues, the Ravens have to immediately cut one of these three guys. J.K. Dobbins, Justin Tucker or Marlon Humphrey. Which one goes if they leave the decision up to you entirely?"

DF says -- "What a question, Parker! Wow. I can make an argument for letting all three (not at the same time, obviously) be the odd guy out. Dobbins is a running back. Those are like gin joints in L.A., there's one on every corner. Tucker's a kicker. You might only "really" need him about 10 times a season, meaning he might make 10 kicks that other kickers don't hit 50% of the time. And Humphrey is an outstanding corner, but, again, there are 25 of those guys available every year in the draft. Just pick another one. This is a tough question. (I took a 10 minute break to think about it). OK, I'd cut Dobbins, as crazy as that sounds. Tucker is too good and too reliable and the key to making the playoffs is winning your division and the Bengals and Browns are both going to throw the ball a lot over the next few years and Humphrey becomes very valuable in that case. Cut Dobbins and draft another running back. There's a bunch of them out there to be had."


Chris P. asks -- "An open ended question for one of your future Q & A articles at DMD. What's the most surprising thing from the PGA Tour over the last 5 years? That Tiger didn't win 83 tournaments? Or something else?"

DF says -- "Easy answer here. The biggest surprise is the downfall of Rory McIlroy. And it's not a "downfall" as in, "he stinks". It's a downfall in terms of his inability to win major tournaments and be one of the best players in the world. He's now #11, which is really crazy to consider. Ten other players in the world are better than him? Wow. Tiger not winning 83 is mildly surprising, but then again maybe not so much. He hasn't been totally healthy in six years or so. It's probably a bigger surprise he actually won his 15th major and 82nd tournament given his health."


Mark asks -- "Any late season thoughts on the NHL season and the playoffs and Stanley Cup chase?"

DF says -- "It's a weird year because of the Covid-19 scheduling. We haven't seen (Caps fans, anyway) anyone except the Eastern Division teams. I have no idea about Toronto or Colorado or Tampa Bay because I haven't had much of a chance to see them. I did watch Colorado play Vegas a few weeks back and they both looked good, but because the Caps don't play anyone out west, I don't know much about those teams. I don't see the Capitals doing much in the post-season. They might win their first series but that's about it. I'll go with Carolina and Colorado in the Finals, but I'm basing that mostly on their record and what little I've seen of both of them."


D.L. asks -- "I love the label in golf of "best player to have never won a major" and now that Hideki has his, who is the guy with the label now?"

DF says -- "Hmmm. Good question. Fowler got to #4 in the world and never won a major. I don't think he's the best player right now without one, but he's certainly worth considering in terms of where he rose to in the world ranking without having one won. But I think the answer comes down to three players and they are in distinctly different age groups: Of the older, veteran group (40's) it's Matt Kuchar. He's had a terrific career. He's a major win away from being a Hall of Famer (although I think he'll get in anyway). The middle-tier-guy (30's) is Marc Leishman, who contended at the Masters this year and has the tee-to-green game to win any major. And of the younger (20's) group, it's definitely Jon Rahm. If you made me pick one of those three as the current "best player without a major", it's Rahm. He could win 4 or 5 majors before his career ends. In fact, I'd say he has a better chance of equaling Seve (5) than he does not winning any majors. That kid is a great player."


DF says let this man bat as many times as possible in the 9th inning.

Chris MacKenzie asks -- "You can add one rule to baseball. It's called "Drew's Rule". What would it be?"

DF says: "I would allow anyone on the team to bat in the 9th inning, as many times as possible, providing they weren't on base. In other words, you're the Angels and you're losing 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th. Mike Trout should be allowed to bat to lead-off the inning. If he makes an out, the next guy can come up or Trout can stay up there. If Trout gets a hit, he has to serve as a runner and someone else hits. But if he makes the 2nd out, Trout can still keep hitting or they can bring someone else up. Or, they can just bring Trout in (or anyone else) to bat with 2 outs and the bases loaded. Baseball is crazy. They're paying these guys $35 million a year and then the 9th inning rolls around and the dude can't play. Name another sport where you can't play anyone you want (unless he fouls out or he's ejected, obviously) in the final minute or in crunch time. If you're the Capitals and there's a minute left and you want Ovechkin out there, he goes in. If you're the Lakers and you want LeBron in there, he plays. If you're the Ravens and you want Lamar in there, he plays. Baseball needs to fix that. Maybe just for the 9th inning, but it needs to be fixed. By the way, it might actually be cool to not have a batting order at all and just let managers send up anyone they want."


B. Pinder asks -- "OK, the Masters is out of the way. What's your early cheat sheet on the PGA Championship?"

DF says -- "Haven't thought much about it, but that place (Kiawah) is crazy hard. Maybe the hardest golf course I've played, personallly. It's very windy, which you would think helps the European guys who play those conditions more often than Americans on the PGA Tour. Rory won there before, but I don't think that's happening again. Of course, the weather could be benign that weekend, although that's unlikely. I think DeChambeau will be heard from there. Length definitely helps at Kiawah. Dustin Johnson also comes to mind. I don't have a "winner" yet, but we'll be previewing here at #DMD and I'm hoping my selections are better than the Cantlay-Im picks at 1 and 2 from the Masters!"

Steve in Hunt Valley asks -- "OK Drewski, come clean. What do you think happened to Tiger in that car accident? What's your theory?"

DF says: "Theory? He was speeding and lost control of his vehicle. I mean, the "black box" tells you everything. The vehicle was traveling at 85 MPH in an area where 45 MPH was the "safe speed". He might be the greatest golfer ever, but that doesn't mean anything when you're driving your car 85 in a 45. You're just another person driving at a high rate of speed. I mean, unless I'm missing something, "high rate of speed" is what caused the accident. It's pretty obvious. I think we've all driven a vehicle at some point in a way that wasn't "smart" and it definitely makes you realize how careful you have to be behind the wheel. Anyone can get in an accident if you're driving recklessly. It's a message we should all follow, no matter your age."

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faith in sports


Today's edition of Faith in Sports is a 4-minute visit with former Ravens tight end Ben Watson.

Ben has been a supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for well over a decade now and was honored in Baltimore a few years ago for his work with Maryland FCA while he played for the Ravens.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electric for their support of our Friday "Faith in Sports" presentation.


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Thursday
April 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2425


the impact of washington d.c.


I have to admit, I never gave this much thought before.

Like most of you, probably, I look at D.C. and Baltimore as two very different places. We're in Baltimore. They're 45 miles down the road in Washington D.C.

I've never really considered them part of us or us part of them. Yes, admittedly, the Washington Capitals are one of my favorite all-time teams, but that was sorta-kinda birthed because they were originally in Landover, Maryland and called the Washington Capitals even though they weren't really in the District.

I can say with great certainty that if the Caps would have played in downtown D.C. in 1975, my dad and I wouldn't have driven down there 25 or 30 nights a year to watch them play losing ice hockey. As it was, though, we didn't mind driving 50 minutes down Route 301 to watch them play. It was "Maryland", after all.

Max Scherzer of the Nationals. Can Baltimore "adopt" him as one of their own?

I've been to exactly three Nationals games in D.C. in my life. Twice they were playing the Orioles and once I wanted to see Clayton Kershaw pitch so I went down there for a Nats-Dodgers game. Other than that, I have zero interest in going down to D.C. for a baseball game. I did see Springsteen in concert at Nationals Park a few years ago and that was nice.

I go to a handful of Capitals home games every year, when people are allowed in, of course, and the occasional concert down there as well. But on the whole, D.C. is D.C. and Baltimore is Baltimore. In my eyes, anyway.

But that didn't stop a friend of mine from coming off the top rope yesterday when the discussion shifted to the Orioles and their hopes for a decent season in 2021.

"You're serious?" he asked after I told him I thought the Birds could win 65 or 70 games in 2021.

"They won't win 60. They might not even win 55," he emphasized. I'll give him some credit here. He follows and knows more about baseball than I do. If he thinks the O's are going to win 60 games, there's a better chance they meet that number than the 65 or 70 I think they're capable of reaching.

"Are you actually going to buy tickets to see them play?" he asked. "If you do that, the joke's on you. They're spending $40 million on players and you're actually going to plunk down your hard earned money to see that (s**t) product?"

I'm not sure how many games I'll go to this season, but, "yes", I told him, I will be handing over some actual money to see the O's play a handful of times in 2021.

I go to games at Camden Yards just as much to see the other team as I do the Orioles. I mean, there's nothing about the Seattle Mariners that excites me in the least. I wouldn't go down there today if you gave me a free ticket, much less if I had to buy one for $18.00.

But I'd go down there to see Giolito pitch for the White Sox or Glasnow pitch for the Rays. On the odd chance I can score a cheap Yankees ticket when Cole starts for them in Baltimore, I'd pay to see him pitch.

My friend's contention is paying money to see the Orioles play in Baltimore is contributing to the problem.

"Keep on buying tickets," John said to me yesterday. "And they'll keep on pocketing your money and using what's left over to sign a stiff like Freddie Galvis."

"At least we have a team," I countered. "I mean, Nashville and San Antonio and Portland don't have teams. They're as big league as Baltimore, if not more big league."

Then the conversation shifted.

Baltimore ice hockey fans have adopted Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals as "their team" as far as back as 1974 when the Caps started playing Landover, Maryland.

"You have D.C.," John shot back. "Why wouldn't you just go down there and watch the Nats? Adopt them. At least they're trying to win. They won the World Series two years ago. The Orioles haven't been to one since 1984." I reminded him that it was actually "1983". But who's counting, right?

"This is just like the Capitals," John continued. "Lots of people from Baltimore catch the Metro and watch the Caps in Chinatown."

Ummm, except it's not just like the Capitals. You see, Baltimore doesn't have a NHL team. If you're a Baltimore hockey fan you either adopt the Caps or you don't have a team at all. In baseball, we have the Orioles in Baltimore. We don't need to french-kiss the Nationals. They're D.C.'s team. The Orioles are Baltimore's team.

"Baltimore's baseball history is much more extensive than D.C.'s," I replied. "In fact, the D.C. folks used to come to Camden Yards in droves. You didn't have a team back then...so they adopted the Orioles. Once the Nationals showed up, your D.C. buddies stopped coming to Baltimore."

John hemmed and hawed his way around that one. But he knew I was right.

"No legitimate fan of the Orioles is ever going to choose the Nationals over the Orioles," I said. "It's just not happening. Some baseball fans from Baltimore might go down to the stadium in D.C. a few times a year because they love baseball, but they're not intentionally choosing the Nationals over the Orioles."

"I'm just saying, the Baltimore vs. Washington thing, the rivalry between the two cities, that's over," John said. "It's 45 minutes door to door."

Except it's not, really. It's 42 "miles", but that doesn't mean it's 45 minutes door to door. It might be 45 minutes from Federal Hill to Chinatown to see the Caps...if you're driving down there on a Sunday afternoon for a 12:30 Capitals home game. But if you're going down there for a 7:30 hockey game, the only way you're getting there in 45 minutes from Federal Hill is one with one of Elon Musks's crazy trains that shoots through a tunnel.

Granted, the Baltimore to D.C. trip, in general, is less of a hassle now than it was, say 10 or 15 years ago, but it's not like you're driving from Baltimore city up to Timonium, which takes roughly 25 minutes.

A couple of times a year Dale Williams will invite me to take in a hoops game with him at College Park. If it's a 7:00 game, Dale tells me to meet him at the Columbia exit off 95 South at 6:00 pm. From there, it's at least 30 minutes or more before we roll into the parking lot in College Park. Baltimore to D.C. or Baltimore to College Park just isn't a hop-skip-and-a-jump away from Towson.

Anyway, John wanted to continue the discussion and I felt like it was a back-and-forth that was going nowhere.

"Just give the Nationals a try," he pleaded. "I'd tell you to give it six home games. Take two months and go to six home games and see what you think about the experience. The drive, the ballpark, the team, National League baseball. Take it all in and see if you don't agree it's better than what we have in Baltimore."

"I don't go to six Orioles home games in two months," I explained. "I'm certainly not going to D.C. for six games when the stadium in Baltimore is 20 minutes from my house. And no matter what you're thinking might happen, you're not changing me from an Orioles fan to a Nationals fan. You're just not."

"Keep watching terrible baseball then," he said. "But if the Caps make the playoffs and you can come in to the arena, you'd definitely be down there for that, right?"

I wanted to explain -- again -- the difference between the Orioles and Capitals, at least from my perspective. I don't need to go to D.C. for baseball, my city has a team. I "need" the Capitals because my city doesn't have a team. It works similarily in basketball. Baltimore doesn't have a NBA team to call our own, so if you want to "root" for the Wizards because they're close and you can occasionally get down there for a game, that makes sense. John continued to whiff on that point.

But I wasn't interested in continuing the argument, so I went for the jugular with the only Baltimore-Washington baseball fact I could blurt out. I didn't even know if the stats were true, but I said it anyway.

"If D.C. baseball is so much better than Baltimore baseball how come our team beats up on your team every year in the two interleague series' we play?"

John laughed. "1983, pal. The Orioles haven't won the World Series since 1983. When you win your next one, come around and brag."

We fist-bumped and off he went. As he walked away, it dawned on me that a guy wearing a Manny Machado replica jersey, like John was yesterday, gives off a weird vibe when he bad mouths the team the way he did but still sports the colors.

"Nice shirt!" I said as he got in his car. I was on the cusp of making a Ravens-Redskins reference, but I knew that wouldn't bother him because he actually loves the Ravens.

John rolled down his window as he passed by. "My Padres replica should be here tomorrow or the next day. Another great player the O's let get away." And with that he drove off.

I opened up the National schedule on their website last night and looked it over.

That quickly, I closed it and turned my computer off.

The only way I'll go to D.C. for a baseball game is if the Orioles are playing there. Preferably in October.

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


a tradition unlike any other…refreshed?


There’s something about the CBS television coverage of The Masters that’s just…off. And it doesn’t have anything to do with playing clips of Japanese broadcasts, which is cool once but just seems kind of silly the fourth time.

Part of the problem is the sheer number of streaming options besides the television broadcast. Want to see the entire course? Then watch the “featured group” coverage (both in the morning and afternoon) online from first tee shot to final putt. Interested in watching every player’s tee shot at the par-3 12th? You can do that. Watching the broadcast is maybe only necessary, as they say about the tournament itself, on the back (er, second) nine on Sunday.

Some of the issue is visual. The tournament has always been about the course itself—so green—and the landscaping—so pink and white and purple and lots of other hues. People in cold climates that don’t even like golf watch just so they can see the place. Anybody who has been there says the same thing—about the slopes and size of the place being so much more massive than can be seen on TV.

As Tiger's career winds down and his impact on golf and television diminishes, how will that impact tournaments and television products like the Masters?

It just seems like, despite having the best palate on which to paint, the broadcast is getting worse. The ratings are for sure, Tiger or not. And I think it might come down to something I read a few years ago, and even referred to in this column, I believe. Bob Costas said it about the NFL, and he would know better than most, as Gary Koch might say.

“The only business arrangement I can think of where the buyer must continually flatter the seller is the sports TV business,” he said. “We’re pulling up a Brinks armored truck for the right and privilege to televise your games. But if we’ve delivered them in a denomination that doesn’t please you, we’re sorry, we’ll back the truck up and bring it to you in 20s and 50s if that’s the way you prefer it.”

There is no sporting event at which the buyer must continually flatter the seller more than The Masters. The broadcast is, more than anything, an ode to the tournament itself. After 85 years, that’s understandable. But I don’t think it’s very interesting anymore.

This is 2021. The continuous references to the “patrons” at Augusta National is silly. Clifford Roberts wanted it that way, but he died more than 40 years ago and once said that, while he was alive, all the golfers at the club would be white and all the caddies there would be black.

I’m not here to rewrite history or to cancel Mr. Roberts. If it wasn’t for him, there would be no course and no Masters Tournament. I do think that Andrew Catalon should be able to say “fans” instead of patrons and not feel like he’s going be cancelled from next year’s tournament.

The “second cut” instead of “rough” and first nine/second nine as opposed to front nine/back nine aren’t as grating to me. There really isn’t any rough at the place; believe me, I looked. Some would say things like that are what makes The Masters special, but I say it makes me want to turn the sound off and check out the visuals instead.

There are some incredible rules placed on Masters broadcasters, many of which have been leaked in recent years and some of which you probably don’t notice. Don’t even think about comparing a hole at Augusta to a hole on any other golf course in America, even the really great ones! The water in front of #13 green is the “tributary” to Rae’s Creek, not Rae’s Creek.

Did you know that announcers at The Masters are told not to guess at where a ball might be, even though many of them have been to the place so many times they probably have a good idea? Here’s a good one—don’t estimate the length of a putt. Maybe the broadcasters don’t need to do that anymore with all the technology, but how silly is that?

All of it just adds up over a few days. The Masters is tradition and gentility and Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus and Amen Corner and, yeah, even Tiger Woods. The Masters is an invitational event—believe me, they make sure you know that—so it’s different. But, after all that, isn’t it a golf tournament?

Much of the hullabaloo about Augusta National throughout its history has to do with its very private nature compared to its very public event that it stages for one week each year. The television broadcast sits on the precipice of that debate. The club surely feels like it “owns” it, but they seem to only care about their own interests.

As Hideki Matsuyama made his way up the 18th hole (excuse me, Hole No. 18) on Sunday, Jim Nantz started talking about the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. It was a victory there in 2010 that propelled Matsuyama to his first Masters appearance, as an amateur in 2011. Matsuyama played again in 2012 as an amateur before his first pro appearance in 2014.

Who funds the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship? Well mostly…The Masters Tournament, with an assist from the R&A. So there’s the story, right? It was Augusta that gave Hideki his big break all those years ago, and here he is winning the tournament 10 years later. If the club was listening (I’m sure they were), they must have been thrilled.

Let’s be honest, though. Matsuyama didn’t need help from The Masters to become a highly-ranked professional and an eventual Major champion. He would have made it to Augusta even if he hadn’t won the Masters-sponsored event. Japan has long been a golf-crazed nation, not a place for Augusta National to nurture. It’s great that a wealthy club helps to grow the game, but the television broadcast doesn’t have to be a place for promotion all the time.

Maybe I’m just naïve. Augusta National and CBS sign a one-year contract every year, one that isn’t particularly lucrative by today’s standards. Both entities are aware that NBC and ESPN and others are right there waiting to swoop in to earn the rights to a historic property. That means that CBS does what it’s supposed to do, or it might face the consequences.

What would be the point of not doing and saying what the club wants them to say and do—some kind of protest against “the man” keeping them down? I think we’ve seen what “protests” surrounding the National have become, and let’s just say that the protestors haven’t won.

And I don’t blame Jim Nantz. He is 61 years old and has been anchoring the coverage from Augusta since he was 29. If he decided not to act like Jim Nantz, it would be terrible. The same can be said for Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch and Dottie Pepper and, yes, Verne Lundquist. Individually, they understand what they must do to come back to Augusta every year, and they’ve decided it’s worth a few days of walking on eggshells.

This year’s Masters marked the first for a CBS producer named Sellers Shy, just the third one in CBS golf history. The first was the legendary Frank Chirkinian, the innovator behind so much of what golf on TV became; he did the job for nearly 45 years. Then, Lance Barrow took over, and he retired after 23 years following last November’s tournament.

I noticed a few changes—some of the close-up shots of players walking from green to tee, that score box on the bottom right. As time goes by, technology will surely improve by leaps and bounds, and what is expected from a broadcast of any sporting event will increase. Maybe someday CBS (or someone else) will broadcast the tournament in a different way, and count me among the group that thinks it would be a good idea. Needless to say, I’m not holding my breath.

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Wednesday
April 14
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18 years have passed


That Mark Suchy and I are both writing about death today is not in any way intentional. His date of remembrance, as you'll see below, is actually yesterday; April 13. Mine is today, April 14.

I just wanted to pass that note along. This wasn't planned and I'd prefer the site not be overly macabre today. It just happens this way once in a blue moon.


It was 11:04 am on a Monday. April 14, 2003. Remembering the date isn't a problem. But to recall the exact time...well...that tells you the moment was memorable.

I got the call no son or daughter wants to get. I was standing in the main lobby of the radio station when my cell phone rang. It was a 410-766 number, so I knew that was a Glen Burnie exchange of some kind. I'm a Glen Burnie guy, a Glen Burnie number is calling me, so I'm picking up.

It was the neighbor who lived next door to my dad. He was still living in the house I grew up in on Biddle Road in Glen Burnie. She was in her early 30's, I'm guessing, and had looked after my dad occasionally over the years, often times going shopping during snowy weather, helping to mow his lawn, etc.

She was crying. I knew that wasn't good.

"I went over to check on your Dad," she said. "The front door was open but when I knocked, he didn't answer. I went in. He was on the floor by the kitchen table."

She didn't say anything for three or four seconds.

I was waiting for her to complete the story.

"I hate to be the one to tell you this," she said. "But, he's dead."

40 minutes later, I was in front of the house. A few police officers were there.

"I'm sorry, but you can't go in the house," one of them said. "They're bringing him out in a minute or two."

Truth of the matter, I didn't really want to go in, anyway. That's not a scene I would have enjoyed witnessing.

My dad passed away at age 76. He wasn't in great health when he died, but his passing was a shock. I had spoken to him on the phone on Saturday night. Two days later he was gone.

No warning signs. No trips to the emergency room or anything like that. He had a heart condition of some kind that had been treated, we thought with some effectiveness, but his heart finally gave way on April 14, 2003.

My father was an interesting guy. For most of his adult life, he sold cars for a living. He likened car sales to sports. He told me that on numerous occasions. "The game starts when they step foot on the lot," he would often say. "They're shopping and you're selling. The object of the game is to get them to buy."

My dad had the ability to see the field in a way that some others in his profession couldn't. I remember once he came home and told me a story about a couple buying a Jeep from him and how they needed a down payment of $2,300 to get the vehicle and they only had $2,100 with them (he worked at what was then called Richie American on Richie Highway...they sold AMC products).

His commission on the Jeep was $410, he explained to me. When the couple came up short of the required $2,300, he told the finance guy to take $200 from his $410 commission and apply it to their down payment so they could take the vehicle home that night.

My dad's thought process was risky but somple. Doing that for them would almost guarantee they'd buy another vehicle from him down the road. He loved to tell this story, because they bought two more vehicles from him over the next decade. "I got my $200 back and then some on that deal," he would always say with a smile on his face.

My father grew up in a small town in Eastern Tennessee called "Butler". It's situated about 30 miles from Johnson City. Butler makes Timonium look big.

My dad played football at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina and later served in the Korean War. Football and the military were always two of his passions.

Both of my parents were huge fans of the Baltimore Colts. They also loved the Orioles, but football was their main sports love. When the Ravens moved to Baltimore, he refused to adopt them as his new "hometown" team. Something about the Colts being stolen from us, he told me numerous times. "It just doesn't feel right," he would say. "That's not our team, it's Cleveland's team. They're just playing here. It's wrong."

All the way up until he passed away, my father never totally bought into Ravens fandom. I have to admit, I respected him for that. He stood his ground. I often thought the people in Cleveland would like my father for the way he absently took up for them in Baltimore.

Working in the car business, there were always so-called "sports experts" lingering in the showroom. That led to lots of talk about who was going to win and who was going to lose. That -- you probably know where this is going -- led to the occasional sports wager. In the old days during football season, something called a "white card" would circulate every Tuesday that listed two dozen prime college football games and all of the NFL games for the upcoming Sunday.

Each card contained point spreads. You merely circled the teams you thought would cover the spread. You gave the left half of the card to the guy who gave it to you (and he gave it to someone else, if you know what I mean) and you kept the right half so you know who you selected and you had the matching "winning half" in the event you won all of your selections. On the back was a list of the "points" you won. If you correctly picked 3 games, you won 20 points. 4 games got you 35 points. 5 games got you 50 points. It cost you $5 to play the game.

My dad would bring a card home every week, sometimes two of them, and we'd go through the teams and the games and analyze the point spreads and such. If you want to call me a 14-year-old corrupted gambler you can, but it was pretty much harmless fun. After four weeks of not winning, I went 4-for-4 one week and was excited about collecting my 35 "points". My dad came home and threw a $10 bill on the table.

"I thought I won thirty five dollars?" I said. Surely my own father wasn't going to rip me off.

"You did win thirty five dollars," he explained. "Who do you think put that five dollars in for you these five weeks in order for you to play, the money fairy?"

That was a quick lesson for a 14-year old from Glen Burnie. There aren't any free rides.

I never thought of my dad as overly athletic, but on the occasion he'd throw the baseball or football to me, his arm was pretty good for a guy who didn't look like he knew much about sports.

He loved baseball and football and grew to really like hockey because I played it and loved it myself.

I never felt pressure to play sports from him at all. "If you enjoy it, keep doing it," he would say to me every spring when Little League sign-up rolled around. "When the day comes that you don't want to go to practice or a game because you'd rather be doing something else, that should be the end of the road for you. Don't take up space on the team. Some other kid would love to play."

My dad didn't have a lot of other sports axioms, but he was the first person in my sporting life who ingrained the theory in me: the other team tries, too.

I came home once bemoaning a hockey loss to a team in Chevy Chase. I was maybe 15 or 16 at the time. The more I complained, the more he laughed. Him laughing only made me more upset. I finally snapped.

"What's so funny?" I asked. "I'm so mad about that game I can't think straight."

"You're standing here complaining and crying and whining about all the things your team did wrong. You do know the other team tries too, right?"

"You're not going to win every time you play. They want to win just like you want to win. That game's over. The more you think about that one, the worse you're going to be."

Although he was never a golfer and didn't know much about it -- other than what I told him when we would watch it on TV -- my Dad's philosophy of "the other team tries, too" has stuck with me throughout my golfing life. Sometimes, the other guy gets you. Occasionally you have your best stuff and it's still not good enough. He's trying just like you're trying.

I remember once on the radio, someone called in screaming and yelling about a Ravens loss and they yapped for five minutes about Billick being terrible, Boller being terrible, the defensive backs being terrible and so on and so on. Finally I said, "Well, the other team tries too, you know" and that immediately silenced the caller. My dad had been gone a few years at that point, but that saying still worked wonders for me.

My dad enjoyed seeing my golf trophies. I won a couple of fairly big local amateur events in 2000 and I remember taking both trophies to him in Glen Burnie. He liked that visit. I was his only child, so any accomplishment or accolades I received were always overly showered with praise.

When I first started in radio in 1981, working for WJRO in Glen Burnie, he did get the chance to listen to me, as did my mom. When I eventually joined the all sports station in Baltimore, their spotty signal south of Baltimore kept my dad from hearing me most days. But they still had cassette recorders back then and I would occasionally record the show and take him tapes to listen to.

"You two are a good team," he would say to me, referring to my then on-air partner Terry Ford. "You sound like you enjoy one another."

My dad was a pretty keen observer, even when he was giving off the appearance he wasn't paying all that much attention.

We all get things from our parents. If we're lucky, we inherit the good stuff and somehow escape the bad. I did get lucky. My dad was an offensive lineman. He was an in-the-trenches guy who wasn't afraid to work. I think I got some of that goodness from him. I've never been incredibly smart or athletically gifted but I worked hard at whatever I was doing and, for the most part, it turned out OK.

18 years ago today was a tough one.

I answered that phone call and my life changed.

Editor's note: If anyone has a favorite sports story, phrase, axiom etc. to share about their father, feel free to throw in the comments section below.

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SUCH
a sports fan

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


I met him before the start of first period Latin on the very first day of my freshman year at Loyola High School. We were both awkward, goofy teenagers. I’m sure he was as nervous as I was about meeting our new classmates and hoping they thought we were cool.

We were the only two kids with red hair, so I’m pretty sure that had something to do with our striking up a conversation. We gingers need to stick together, know what I’m saying?

As it turned out, we were both in the Honors program and we had every class together. It also happened that we lived just two blocks apart. But we didn’t know that because we had attended different elementary schools.

From that first day of freshman year, until this very moment, our brotherhood was born. It’s not something you recognize immediately, but as time goes along, you understand that this is someone extremely special, that there’s a bond that has grown that’s unbreakable through everything, even death.

Brian Michael Doyle, March 18, 1966 - April 13, 2018.

Sports was always a huge part of our lives. We would ride our bikes to school every morning, and that meant we would race our bikes. I can’t remember the final score of our competition, but I’m pretty sure I won. I know I was usually tired for the start of first period.

We both went out for freshman football. I made it, probably because I was already 6’3”, though I only weighed about 170 pounds (oh, to be 14 again!). He was part of the last cuts, but he never complained; instead, he went and ran cross-country. And he came to our games and cheered us on. He was really the embodiment of school spirit. He loved Loyola.

There was a basketball hoop in his driveway, and to this day I swear that rim was at least eleven feet high. He would give me grief because I couldn’t grab it, and I would bitch at him that there was no way it was regulation height. Of course, if we were shooting around at my house, I would easily grab iron, only to hear him say that mine was nowhere close to ten feet.

In the winter he wrestled while I played basketball. I never saw any of his meets, because we were usually playing while his matches were being held, but I’ll never forget how much crap everyone gave him when he won a match against a kid with really long hair. The usual taunts about beating a girl for his only win stuck around long after we left high school. But I know he was always there for our Friday night games, when the gym was packed for another Catholic League battle, because we would always hang out afterwards and talk about the game, usually in his basement while watching TV and thinking about girls we liked.

Winter also meant ski trips together. For about five years, we would always take a family trip during the Holidays to Hunter Mountain, in the Catskill Mountains of central New York. I might have had more experience skiing while growing up, but I could never match his courage. Hunter had a slope named K27, billed as the steepest slope on the East Coast. I would never dare to try it, but one day, as we were passing the entrance to it, he just turned right and started down.

I remember waiting near the chair lift and watching him slowly navigate the huge moguls and insane grade, going slowly from one side to the other. I might have laughed at him about his approach, but I never forgot his bravery. He never let me forget it, either.

We would take Saturday night excursions to Ski Liberty when we were old enough to drive. A bunch of us would pile into his little Subaru and listen to cassette tapes of The Police or James Taylor (if there were girls with us). We’d spend all night tearing up the slopes and laughing and yelling at each other. Those were great road trips.

He loved lacrosse, and Loyola was a powerhouse in the early 1980’s. He didn’t make the team, but it never dampened his enthusiasm for the game. He had grown up playing long-stick defense, and we would throw the ball around in the yard, and sometimes he would come at me and poke-check me on my arms and ribs, and I hated that. No wonder I never played the game. I really didn’t enjoy getting whacked by a pole. But again, getting cut never stopped him from going to the games and rooting for our classmates. He was always about the Dons.

Summertime meant trips to the beach to ride waves and hang out and chase girls. He was really good at two of those things. We’d go sit in the upper deck in right field at Memorial Stadium and watch the Orioles. We never sat in Section 34, because we were intimidated by Wild Bill Hagy and his crew, so we’d sit higher up a couple of sections over. A lot of our crowd would go to the games back then. You could bring your own beer in and nobody ever asked you for your ID. Those were some party scenes.

He was an avid outdoorsman. He always hunted during deer season. His grandparents had a farm in Hereford off of Bernoudy Road, and his dad and uncles and cousins always had their permits and tags. In fact, he was the first hunter I ever knew. He would also hunt waterfowl. He loved being on the water, and we sailed together quite a few times. He knew what he was doing on a boat.

We headed off to separate colleges. He went to Drexel, in Philadelphia, while I went to Northeastern, in Boston. There were new friends and new girls and new adventures, but we remained close and always hung out whenever we were home at the same time. In fact, in the summer of 1986, we ran a small lawn service together, mowing residential lawns in East Baltimore. That was a great summer.

It was sometime around then that one of his grandmothers passed away. We were talking about it one day as we rode around in the pickup truck, headed to another neighborhood to mow grass. He mentioned that his grandmother had once told him to “live the dash”. Curious, I asked him what she meant.

He explained, “Nana said that everyone’s gravestone has their birthdate and their death on it, and they’re separated by a little dash. But the dash is what matters, because it represents everything they did, everything they lived between those dates. So even if the dash is little, it doesn’t mean your life has to be. Live your dash so well that’s what everyone will remember.”

I’ve always liked that. I’ll admit that, until recently, I had forgotten that conversation.

The years rolled along, and we continued on our paths, remaining in touch even as our lives moved us away from one another. But every time we’d get together it was just like family. You don’t really skip a beat with people like him.

You see, I grew up the middle son of three boys, but we were spread out in age. My older brother was seven years my senior, and my little brother is almost ten years younger than me. So, I didn’t really have someone my age to grow with until that first day at Loyola.

We were in each other’s weddings. We had different careers, but whenever we needed some professional advice or connections, we’d grab lunch and talk about opportunities. He had a head for numbers and I always relied on him for financial advice.

I know that God has a keen sense of humor, because He gifted him with three amazing and beautiful daughters. Poetic and karmic justice, we always joked. My sons were born in the same years, and I think, by his design, he made sure they never went to Hereford together.

There were Ravens games and Orioles games and afternoon golf outings, either at Pine Ridge or at Eagle’s Nest, where he was a member. I took him to a couple of golf outings put on by the professional group my company was in. He took me to a wild game dinner every year as his guest. Sometimes we’d just meet up for a drink after work and shoot the breeze and listen to each other complain.

When my father died, there was about four feet of snow covering the ground after the second blizzard in four days. The doorbell rang at my parents’ house, and there he was, outfitted with all his snow gear, even ski goggles. He jumped on the tractor with the snowblower on front, the same machine my father had been on when he died, and he went after the snow, never stopping until everything was cleared. That was just how he was. My father always admired him.

We roll along on our journeys in life sometimes, and the constant daily motion lulls us into a sense of complacency, a false sense that things will always be just as they are at that precise moment in time, even though everything is constantly moving, constantly changing.

I can close my eyes and still picture sitting with him and watching the Baltimore Colts playing in Memorial Stadium, even though that’s absurd all these years later. Or I can convince myself that Lamar Jackson will always be that fast, even though I know that the years will pass for him too, and my sons will be telling their own stories of what we’re watching right now.

I was shaken out of my own complacency when I got the text about him in late July of 2016. We have a group text of friends from our Loyola days, and we’ve all remained remarkably close. Neither time nor distance has diminished our brotherhood and friendship. But that day, well, I will always remember exactly where I was when I read that text.

Pancreatic cancer. Stage 4. He was going to do everything he could to get as much out of his dash as possible.

For the first few months, every time I texted him or called him he ignored me. I didn’t make any kind of fuss over it, but I did want him to know how much I cared and how much I was hurting too. When we finally did speak, he kind of snapped at me and told me he was fine and to stop bugging him so damn much. I quietly said alright.

We caught up over dinner a few weeks later and we both apologized. I just told him that I loved him and that I wanted to do anything I could to help him or the girls or his family. You just feel so damned helpless and useless. He understood, of course, and he said just keep on living and doing everything you can to make your boys’ lives happy.

There were a few gatherings for dinner at our houses. He always kept up appearances, and although he was noticeably thinner, he still had his hair, and he loved his hair.

The last time I saw my brother was the Saturday night of the Final Four in 2018. Loyola of Chicago was playing, and our group had gone over to his house with carryout to watch the game and keep him company. His two youngest daughters were there. Being good Jesuit educated men, we were all disappointed when Loyola lost.

I stuck around for a few minutes after everyone else had left and helped clean up the kitchen. I can’t remember what we talked about, but he was tired and weak. He thanked me for helping him and he said he was worn out and wanted to go to bed. I gave him a kiss on his bald head and told him I loved him and that I’d see him soon. I hugged the girls goodnight and saw myself out.

Over the past several years I’ve found a lot of comfort and peace in The Book of Psalms. I’m particularly fond of Psalms 40 & 91, but recently I’ve leaned quite a bit on just one small verse. It’s from Psalm 90, Verse 12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

You see, Brian’s illness and death is the first one of my closest and oldest friends, and it makes me reflect on my own mortality. It also makes me reflect on that dash. We all get one, ultimately, but what will it contain to the people who matter the most to us?

If that dash could speak, what stories would it tell about us; what would it tell others about the kinds of people we were? How big and long and wide and bright can we make our dash? How much better can I number my days, so that I really can gain a heart of wisdom?

Three years ago, on Friday morning, April 13th, I was making coffee when the call came. I knew it as soon as I saw her name on the Caller ID. It was a brief and emotional minute, and I went and sat on the porch and cried so heavily that my shoulders heaved. I don’t know how long I was out there.

Rest well, my brother. You lived your dash memorably. I’ll keep living mine.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Tuesday
April 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2423


masters closure: winners and losers


Winner: The golf course (again) -- If there's a place on earth that tests a golfer's mettle more than Augusta National, please bring it around for examination. The holes, the layout, the difficult front-nine par 3's, the temptation of the two par 5's on the back nine, the driving precision required at the 18th...it all adds up to the greatest golf course ever built.

If the rains wouldn't have softened the course on Saturday, 7 or 8 under would have probably turned out to be the winning number. Oh, and keep in mind, several of the pins on Sunday are put into green-light spots for guys who know where to put their ball on the putting surface -- #7, #13, #15, #16, #18. The ball practically funnels its way to the hole as long as you're adept enough to put it in the right spot. Imagine if they went out of their way to make the course ultra-tough.

It's the only event in golf where the players are truly humbled to receive their invitation. When the Masters says "park here", the players pull their car into that parking spot. When the Masters says "don't use your cell phone on the propery", the players put their phones in their locker. (Side note: Patrick Reed's wife used her phone on Thursday and was politely asked to leave the course...) When the Masters says, "Every member here gets addressed as 'Mister' or 'Miss'", that's precisely how every player addresses someone they see in a green jacket. TOUR players are certainly capable of parading around like they're the showpiece at most events, but not at the Masters. The course and the tournament are the showpiece. The players know it. And they know one misstep could lead to that invitation never again coming their way.


Bryson DeChambeau's play at Augusta National was again unimpressive, as the reigning U.S. Open champ was never in contention last weekend.

Loser: Bryson DeChambeau -- For all the pre-tournament hype about his 4.5 degree driver and the "secret weapon" he promised to reveal, DeChambeau laid yet another egg at the Masters. Truth of the matter? The golf course is just not a good fit for the way he approaches golf. Augusta is about creativity and patience. DeChambeau lacks both of those. He's certainly a terrific player, but his game best flourishes when he can just hit it from point A to point B, straight as he can.

At Augusta, you need to "move" the ball from point A to point B and then onto the greens. You can't just bomb it around at Augusta National and "bring the course to its knees" like DeChambeau tried to do in November and again last week. You have to methodically tackle the holes in an almost sly kind of way. Nothing about DeChambeau is "sly". He's in your face from start to finish and that, I believe, is no way to play the course.


Winner: Will Zalatoris -- It goes without saying Zalatoris is on everyone's radar after his T6 finish at the U.S. Open last September and his solo 2nd on Sunday at the Masters. He is not a fluke. The kid is a legit gamer. His golf swing is short, compact and VERY repeatable. His putting grip and stroke are a little quirky, but it works for him -- for now.

There's something to be said for "thinking you belong", even if you might not. I often say this about team sports -- the team that thinks they're really good is often times more dangerous than the team that actually is really good." The same goes for rising stars on the TOUR. You definitely have to think you're great way before you actually are great. And Zalatoris has the kind of bravado you need to be successful out there. Here's going to be good for a long time.


Loser: CBS -- The folks at CBS looked unprepared for what evolved on Sunday afternoon in the final round. By the start of the back nine, they were playing recorded highlights of the Japanese broadcast team, which was semi-interesting -- maybe -- the first time around, but certainly not the second, third or fourth time. Memo to CBS: no one watching the broadcast in the U.S. knows how to speak Japanese. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE SAYING. IT'S NOT FUN TO LISTEN TO SOMEONE SPEAK A LANGUAGE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.

But where CBS really missed the boat was in their lack of historical information about the final round, particularly the last nine holes. They should have been armed with information on how other players with big leads (Seve in '86, Norman in '96, Rory in '11, Spieth in '16) handled the inward nine, including what they did on the critical holes -- 12, 13 and 15. At one point, CBS showed Robert McIntyre, at 2-under-par, making a birdie at the 15th hole. All due respect to Mr. McIntyre but......who......cares? Show us how Seve, Norman, Rory and Spieth botched the key holes so we know what Matsuyama faces in the final hour. Or, instead, just let us listen to more Japanese announcers.


Winner: Steve Stricker -- Man, is this guy going to have a rock-star lineup at the Ryder Cup in September or what? Hal Sutton could captain this team and they'd win.

OK, so maybe Zalatoris isn't quite ready for the heat and stress of that event, but his play in two of the last three majors has to be catching Stricker's eye. And he's ranked 23rd on the points list right now. Another eye-catching name is Jordan Spieth, who three months ago wouldn't have made the "alternate's list", let alone be under legit consideration for a captain's pick. Right now, I'd say Spieth has a 75% chance of being added to the team.

Who knows if it will actually turn out this way, but how about this 12-man team in September? Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and someone like Scottie Scheffler or the aforementioned Will Zalatoris. Stricker, you lucky dog...


Loser: Xander Schauffele -- Look, what happened at 16 was ill-timed, obviously, but it's not like he fatted an 8-iron into the water and threw up all over himself. He hit a great shot, but misread the wind. Five more yards out of that club, or a half-7-iron instead of a full-nuke-8, and who knows what might have been? But the reality is "X" had yet another chance to win a major and came up short.

At some point, he's going to need to win one and get rid of that pesky label. You know, the "can't seal the deal" label that he's almost sporting in full these days. The guy is a superior ball striker. And a wonderful putter. But he's also not winning these days, either. Making lots of cuts, posting lots of T10 finishes, raking in big bucks...but not winning.


Winner: Jon Rahm -- It's just a matter of time for him. It might come next month at Kiawah at the PGA or this summer at Torrey Pines at the U.S. Open. At some point, sooner rather than later, the Spaniard's winning a major championship. And he will, without question, win at least once at Augusta National if not multiple times.

Rahm has it all. And over the last few years, he's worked hard at taming his temper, something that took Sergio a dozen years to master. Rahm can still boil over, but those instances are more rare with each passing TOUR season. He's a great driver of the ball, which makes him a threat in every event. With all due respect to Fleetwood and Hatton and Molinari, Rahm is the best European player right now and will be their rallying leader at the Ryder Cup this September. His performance at the Masters will serve as a catalyst for a great summmer of 2021 golf.

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tuesday notes


Julian Edleman retired yesterday and all everyone wants to talk about is his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.

I'll handle the heavy lifting on this one. That would be a "no".

Edelman was a nice player. A major contributor. He also had the greatest quarterback in the history of the game throwing him the ball and a cakewalk division to play in every year. That doesn't take away from what he did, but it has to be considered when evaluating his candicacy. Edelman had a nice career because his team made the playoffs over and over and over. He was a good receiver in the regular season, nothing more.

So, in terms of the Hall of Fame...that's a resounding "no". Sorry, kid. Enjoy retirement and those rings you earned.


The Capitals made some news on Monday with a bit of a trade shocker, sending Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik to the Detroit Red Wings for Anthony Mantha, who can score goals in bunches when the stars are lined up right for him. The Caps also gave up their first round pick in '21 and second round pick in '22 as part of the deal. Mantha was a very expensive acquisition, to say the least.

The clock finally run out on Vrana, who was a key part of the Stanley Cup squad a few years ago but was too hot and cold to be counted on in the post-season. Panik was just a guy, nothing more. He was completely expendable.

This move could be a nod by the Caps to realize they're probably going to have to win playoff games 6-4 instead of 3-2. They've run over the dogs of the Eastern Division (Philly, Buffalo, Rangers, New Jersey) and have struggled against the "good" teams, Sunday's 8-1 smashing of the Bruins in Boston not withstanding. The team's two goalies are good, but that's about it. And the thought here is that neither of them can sustain a playoff run in May, hence the deal for Mantha to boost the team's offense in the post-season.


The "massage story" connected to Deshaun Watson is an ugly one, particularly if you put stock in the ESPN.com story that was posted on Monday. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of the Houston quarterback.

Whether the NFL punishes Watson remains to be seen. It's likely that any decision rendered by the league will come down after the case is settled in court. But in the meantime, the question is obvious: What should the league be allowed to do if, in fact, the entire case comes down to "he said, she said"?

Ben Roethlisberger was once suspended because of accusations from a female who said he was guilty of sexual misconduct. How is the Watson situation any different? Roger Goodell will have an interesting case on his hands later this summer when it comes time for him to render the league's verdict on Watson.


I write this memory every year here at #DMD and yesterday, when my Calvert Hall team visited Rolling Road Golf Club, I was reminded of it once again.

I took my first-ever golf lesson at Rolling Road from the great Bill Bassler, Sr., who took me to the fairway of the 13th hole on a hot July day in 1987.

"Hit a few balls for me," he said in his friendly, gruff voice.

I hit a half dozen balls, none of them going straight, and the ball flight looking like the 15-handicap I was at the time.

Bassler moved out of the cart and pulled a 7-iron out of his golf bag.

I moved out of the way as he raked a ball to his feet. "You're going to hear a lot of bulls**t the rest of your life about the golf swing," he said. "You're going to hear about 'bumping the hip' and 'turning the shoulders' and a bunch of other garbage."

Bassler held the club out for me to see. "You hold the club with your hands", he stated, boldy, emphasizing the word "hands".

"Always remember this," the pro stated. "It's a hands game. You hold the club with your hands. You use your hands to rotate the club back to a square position. Hands, hands, hands..."

He then flushed a few 7-irons for me and I was hooked on golf for the rest of my life.

Our high school matches are only 12 holes, but before the start of yesterday's contest, I walked over to the very spot where Bassler gave me that first lesson in the 13th fairway and said a quick prayer of thanks for him. Even now, anytime I go through a period where my game declines, I always go back to those words from him -- "It's a hands game...don't ever forget that."

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soccer: americans abroad


This week featured two Americans in pivotal Champions League quarterfinal matches and a big weekend for American attackers. Meanwhile another US player started in Spain’s El Clasico, the highest profile rivalry in Europe, and others played roles in battles for league titles and Champions League places.

On Tuesday in the Champions League, Borussia Dortmund traveled to Manchester to take on a red hot Manchester City team. The Germans made a game of it, keeping the scoreline close at 1-0 into the middle of the second half when Gio Reyna subbed on. The American did not have a huge impact on the game but Dortmund did come back to tie the game after he entered. A quick combination with Erling Haaland set up Marco Reus one on one with the keeper and he finished deftly to give the German team a crucial away goal.

Christian Pulisic helped Chelsea beat Porto, 2-0, in a key Champions League match last week.

Man City was able to pull out the win with a late goal, but the 2-1 result gives Dortmund hope, as a 1-0 win at home in tomorrow’s second leg would be enough for the underdogs to advance.

In the other match on that side of the bracket, Paris St. Germain beat defending champions Bayern Munich 3-2 on the back of two goals from Kylian Mbappe in a wild game, setting up a dramatic second leg in Paris today.

On Wednesday, Chelsea beat Porto 2-0 in the away leg of that matchup. Christian Pulisic entered as a sub in the middle of the second half with Chelsea leading 1-0. He nearly doubled the scoreline late in the game when he blasted a shot past the keeper but it was just kept out by the crossbar. He provided a steady presence on the ball and helped Chelsea to see out the key 2-0 “road” victory (both legs are being played in neutral location Seville).

If Chelsea are able to preserve the lead in their home leg this afternoon, they will likely meet Real Madrid, who delivered a dominant 3-1 victory at home over Liverpool, led by two goals from Vinicius Jr.

Both Reyna and Pulisic featured in a big weekend for US attackers. Pulisic started against Crystal Palace and delivered two goals to help Chelsea to a crucial 4-1 win as they look to keep pace for the final Champions League spot in the Premier League. Pulisic was dangerous in attack all game long and was selected man of the match for his performance.

Reyna also started over the weekend for Borussia Dortmund in a big 3-2 win over Stuttgart to keep their hopes alive for the last Champions League spot in the Bundesliga. Reyna delivered his best performance in some time, producing several dangerous dribbling runs in the first half. He provided the assist on the first Dortmund goal and made a very nice run to beat several defenders that set up their second goal. The performance may be enough to get Reyna the nod to start their crucial game with Man City on Wednesday.

In addition to Reyna and Pulisic, a couple other Americans got on the scoreboard this weekend. In Italy, Weston McKennie delivered two solid substitute performances this week, helping Juventus to wins over Napoli and Genoa. In Sunday’s win over Genoa, McKennie entered in the 68th minute and scored a minute later, making a nice run in behind the defense and calmly finishing around the keeper. He nearly added an assist in the waning minutes but Ronaldo couldn’t quite head his cross on goal.

In the English Championship, Daryl Dike continued his outstanding streak, scoring a diving header to help Barnsley to a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough to maintain their spot in the promotion playoffs. The goal was Dike’s eighth in just fourteen matches for Barnsley. The young striker’s loan to Barnsley has been a resounding success and his performances have put him on the radar of many of the bigger Premier League teams for next season. His emergence along with the growth of Josh Sargent has solidified the picture at the top of the US striker pool a bit.

Saturday afternoon featured the highest profile league match of the year as Barcelona traveled to Real Madrid for the final Clasico of the season. This instance was especially significant with the teams neck and neck in the title race along with Atletico Madrid. They entered the game with Barcelona in second place, two points ahead of Real Madrid. Sergino Dest got the start at right wing back for Barcelona.

The Madrid side had the better of the match coming out of the gates and scored an early goal on a clever backheel from Karim Benzema. They netted a second goal from a Toni Kroos free kick midway through the first half that unfortunately took a deflection off of the American’s back and into the goal. It was not a great performance from Dest and he was subbed off at halftime as Barcelona brought on more attacking options to get back in the game.

The lineup changes were effective as Barcelona fared better in the second half, pulling back a goal in the 60th minute when Oscar Mingueza directed home a cross. That led to an exciting finish with Barcelona coming close to finding the tying goal several times, including a last second shot off the crossbar.

In the end Madrid held on and escaped with a 2-1 win to jump into second place in the league, just one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid. Barcelona falls to third, two points behind the leaders, in the closest title race in Europe.

Elsewhere around the continent, Tim Weah subbed on late and helped set up a goal in Lille’s 2-0 win over Metz to stay top of the league. Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent battled against each other as RB Leipzig beat Werder Bremen 4-1.

John Brooks started in a 4-3 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt for Wolfsburg who remain in third place. Bryan Reynolds made his first start for Roma in a 1-0 win over Bologna.

Brenden Aaronson put in another good performance to help RB Salzburg to a 3-0 win over second place Rapid Wien to make the league title a near certainty.

In the Netherlands, Luca de la Torre was a key performer in a 4-0 win for Heracles over Willem II, continuing a strong run from him.

Finally, in England, Antonee Robinson played well for Fulham in a devastating last minute loss to Wolverhampton that moved Fulham one step closer to relegation.

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

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

Monday
April 12
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#2422


a tournament unlike any other...


It's amazing what Augusta National delivers to us.

I could go on and on and on, all the way back to when Charl Schwartzel took advantage of Rory's back nine collapse in 2011, but I won't do that. The last five Masters are more than enough evidence.

2017 was the year the guy no one thought had the heart to win a major championship wound up winning one. It took Sergio Garcia an extra hole to do it, but his Masters win earned him that elusive major title.

The next year, the guy virtually no one wanted to see win, Patrick Reed, wound up winning by a shot over the guy most folks would have preferred to see win, Rickie Fowler.

In 2019, of course, the guy the entire world wanted to see win at Augusta one more time took advantage of a back-nine collapse by four other players to win his 5th green jacket. If that was, in fact, the swan song for Tiger Woods, it was one beautiful tune.

Last November was the year Dustin Johnson showed up and said, "I think I'll shoot 20 under par and see if anyone can match that." No one did. No one had ever shot that number before, in fact. Johnson blew away the course and the field. Afterwards, he cried. No one thought they'd ever see someone shoot 20 under at Augusta National and no one thought we'd ever see Dustin Johnson shed a tear after winning a golf tournament. We got both of those in 2020.

And then...the tradition unlike any other carried over to 2021, where yesterday Hideki Matsuyama claimed his first major title in one of the oddest final rounds we've seen in quite some time.

They say the Masters doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday. Yesterday, it didn't actually start until Matsuyama nearly blew the tournament with a dumb decision in the middle of the 15th fairway. At that point...things got really interesting.

There was no excitement at all when Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele reached the 15th tee. The Japanese star was rolling along at 13 under par and Schauffele, on a birdie run that looked to be too-little-too-late, sat at 9 under par. Both players hit the fairway at 15. Then the fun began.

For reasons only he and his caddie know, Matsuyama eschewed the obvious, smart play -- laying up and leaving himself 100 yards for his third -- and went for the green on his second shot. His 4-iron from 225 yards out was super-nuked, hit the back of the green, and bounded into the water behind the hole. Schauffele's second shot found the greenside bunker.

As crazy as it sounds, the golf tournament basically came down to one shot. If Matsuyama hit his 4th shot (after a penalty) too firm, it could reach the putting surface and roll all the way off the green into the water that borders the front of the putting surface. If that would have happened, he'd be looking at a score of 7 or 8, maybe even 9, if things went really haywire there.

Matsuyama carefully stubbed a chip up the hill, careful not to hit it too hard. Schauffele's bunker shot nearly went in, which would have created a massive three-shot swing. Instead, he made birdie and Matsuyama made bogey.

The four shot lead was suddenly a two shot lead. It was...finally...game on. True to form, the Masters was now in doubt with 45 minutes remaining.

This was, most of us assumed, the worst thing that could have happened to Matsuyama. He's known as a great ball striker but, sadly, not a great closer. He's been close on a couple of other occasions at major championships and, before Sunday, at least, was never able to close the deal down the stretch.

He looked comfortable most of the day as he led by four shots, three shots, one shot, four shots and, at one point, six shots. He didn't look all that comfortable on the 16th tee when he was nursing a two-shot lead having just botched the 15th hole for all the world to see.

But with one swing, Matsuyama's fortunes changed. So, too, did his career. And he didn't even make the swing. Someone else did.

Now trailing by two shots and on the cusp of authoring a 7-shot comeback of historical proportions, Schauffele's 8-iron on the 16th tee came up five yards shy of being perfect. It bounded into the rough just in front of the green and careened into the pond. 10 minutes later, his triple-bogey six apparently gift-wrapped the green jacket for Matsuyama, who made bogey at 16 to stay ahead by two shots over Masters rookie Will Zalatoris.

The Japanaese star then hit a terrific drive at 17 and a nice approach shot to 15 feet below the hole. His par there gave him a comfortable 2-shot lead through 71 holes.

All Matsuyama needed on the final hole was to not do anything dumb or get the worst break in the history of golf. He managed to navigate the first part of that equation by splitting the fairway with a gorgeous 325 yard drive, smack-dab in the middle of the fairway, that left him just 135 yards to the hole. Surely this was it, now. Right? Game over?

Wrong.

The game is never over at Augusta National until you've holed that final putt of the day.

Matsuyama's wedge from 135 yards somehow drifted right into the greenside bunker. Of all the times to skank one. Now? On this stage? How was the lie in the bunker? Was it plugged or semi-buried? Those were the important questions as Matsuyama trudged up the hill to polite-but-concerned applause.

The lie, as it turned out, was fine. The ball was on an upslope and all he needed now was a standard, professional bunker shot. He managed to coax that one out to 5 feet. Two putts from there -- or one, of course -- and he was the winner.

And, predictably, Matsuyama missed the five footer for par. He brushed the short one in from ten inches to win, and when it was all said and done, one shot, one stroke, one roll of the ball, was the difference between winning and losing.

Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters yesterday, but it turned out to be much more difficult than it needed to be. Some of that was because of his play, of course, and some of it was because Augusta National never gives you a minute to breathe easily. The minute you think you have the course under your thumb, you're three-putting from 30 feet.

The golf gods were with Matsuyama on Sunday. There's nothing wrong with admitting that, either. Every Masters champion has enjoyed the privilege of luck or good fortune along the way.

Matsuyama's charmed moment on Sunday came at the 13th hole, where one of his rare bad drives of the weekend clattered off a pine tree and bounded into the rough bordering the edge of the fairway. That ball could have gone anywhere once it found the trees...if it bounces backwards, who knows what score the Japanese star would have made? What if bounces straight down behind a tree and leaves him with no angle to play the ball forward?

It could have gone anywhere...but it went forward, towards the fairway, and gave Hideki an uncluttered view of the 13th green. A charmed moment, indeed.

But it was the second shot that proved to be a godsend for Matsuyama.

Going for the green from 210 yards away, he badly pull-smothered the shot and it roared towards the left side of the green. It hit a soft spot in the rough and stopped some 15 feet shy of going into the azalea bushes behind the hole. If that ball winds up in those bushes, Matsuyama would have taken an unplayable (one stroke penalty) and would have been fortunate to make a par. Instead, he was able to craft a well played pitch shot to within four feet of the hole and matched Schauffele's birdie.

His ability to make birdie at the 13th while hitting only one quality shot was really important two holes later when he butchered the par-5 15th. Like Curtis Strange in 1985, Matsuyama could have thrown the tournament away on the two five-par holes on the back nine.

But lady luck, this time, was on his side.

There have been popular winners at Augusta National in the past. Woods, Mickelson and Spieth come to mind right away. Even Adam Scott, the Australian, was a well received winner back in 2013.

No one really knew much about Danny Willett when he won in 2016. We were pretty unfamiliar with Trevor Immelman in 2008 and Charl Schwartzel in 2011. They weren't "unpopular" winners, per se. We just didn't really know them here in the States.

Matsuyama is a popular winner here, there and everywhere.

American fans of the PGA Tour certainly know of him. He's been one of those guys you expect to win a major or three who -- up until Sunday -- hadn't yet accomplished the feat.

International golf fans know of him because he's a global player, as likely to tee it up in Dubai or Scotland as he is anywhere else.

And, of course, Japanese fans know him because he's the one they've been waiting for since he turned professional ten years ago.

There have been important wins at Augusta National. It's a place where history is made. What happened on Sunday, though, is going to be celebrated for a long, long time.

It took longer than most thought it would. And it came down to one shot over the course of 72 holes. But Hideki Matsuyama is, finally, a major champion.


The Orioles lost yet again on Sunday, falling 14-9 to Boston, but my sources tell me that every O's player tried hard. So why worry?

A great crowd of 8,171 was on hand to see the slugfest. They got their money's worth, especially if they like seeing hits and offense. The Orioles had three players with TWO hits on the afternoon!!! Cedric Mullins, Ryan McKenna and Maikel Franco were the offensive studs for the O's on Sunday.

There were three errors recorded by the Birds on Sunday but, if we're being honest here, some of that could have been linked to shoddy scorekeeping. Not sure who the O's are employing in that department these days, but they better shape up and start doling out hits rather than errors.

Lots of people predicted the Birds would finish somewhere around 40 games below .500 this season. Well, if the season ended today, the O's would finish just ONE game below the .500 mark. I call that "progress".

It's a great time to be a fan of Baltimore baseball, let me tell you that. We have a young, energetic team filled with enthusiasm and love of the game. It's awesome to watch, whether you're fortunate enough to score a ticket to a home game or have to watch it on TV at home. The O's are a lot like a new puppy. So easy to love, even if they chew on the furniture or keep you up at night scratching at the bedroom door.

We love our O's!!!


One of our commenters here yesterday pointed to a Saturday column from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post that was critical of ESPN's and CBS's coverage of the Masters, so I went ahead and bit the hook and opened up the piece and read it.

I've said it before and will say it again, just for clarity. I'm not a New York Post devotee. I don't typically read out of town newspapers. Heck, I don't even read the Washington Post and they're sorta-kinda "in town", almost. I might be missing out on one of life's great treasures by not reading the newspapers from Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and New York. Who knows?

New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick tore into ESPN on Saturday for ignoring the past transgressions of a golfer they were "covering".

Mushnick, however, is a well-known name in sports media, mainly because of his history of racially-charged columns. So, if nothing else, I do at least know of him. I don't know the name of one other New York Post writer, but I do know Mushnick. "No publicity is bad publicity", or something like that, huh?

Anyway, one of Mushnick's favorite whipping boys is ESPN. One of his other favorites is Tiger Woods. That Woods isn't white tells you all you need to know about Mushnick's propensity for clobbering Woods in a column every month or so. Why he detests ESPN so much is something he'd have to reveal, but the bet here is that at some point along the way, the writer would have liked one of those cushy six-figure TV gigs ESPN has handed out to writers from Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia -- and Phil didn't get one. But that's just a guess on my part.

During Friday's broadcast of the Masters, ESPN -- particularly Scott Van Pelt -- spoke glowingly of Woods and his history at Augusta National. Phil, perhaps not having the mental wherewithal to actually play golf, might not know that Tiger has won the Masters five times. That's one less win than Jack Nicklaus, in case you're a writer for a New York newspaper and didn't know that.

Mushnick chopped away at ESPN and CBS in his Saturday column, wondering why they weren't more forthcoming about Woods and all of his life's mistakes during Saturday's broadcast. What about his serial infidelity from 12 years ago? What about that DUI from five years ago? The traffic accident two months ago? Why doesn't ESPN mix those things in with their promotional backrub of Tiger, Mushnick wondered.

The answers are simple. Just like the New York Post doesn't tag every Mushnick column with something like, "Phil Mushnick is a longtime writer at the Post who has authored numerous racially-insensitive columns over the years", the folks at ESPN or CBS are not going to highlight a golfer's personal shortcomings during the broadcast of a golf tournament that they're paying for the right to broadcast and one that he's not even playing in.

The broadcast partners of the Masters -- The Golf Channel, ESPN and CBS -- are financially connected to the tournament in such a way that they're far closer to being "promotional partners" than "broadcast" partners. Surely someone like Mushnick knows that going in. Or does he? Based on what he wrote yesterday, the New York Post writer believes otherwise.

He apparently believes we should know about Brian Harman's personal life. And Patrick Reed's. And Jordan Spieth's. What sins have those three men committted in the last 10 years? A true "broadcast professional" would know those things and use them in said broadcast.

"Now here's Brian Harman for birdie at 12. Brian's got a lot on his mind this week. He's been in alcohol counseling over the last six months and his wife is currently living with her sister in Iowa while Brian gets his life back on track." (Note: This is a fictional example. I have no idea about Brian Harman's personal life.)

I can just hear Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo of CBS now.

"Well, Nick, hopefully Tiger will heal from this injury and be able to compete next year."

"I agree, Jim. And hopefully he's put that nasty issue with Elin behind him as well. He should be ashamed of himself for what happened back in 2009."

Faldo, though, probably wouldn't say something like that. Not because it wouldn't mix well with the broadcast or anything like that. But because Faldo himself had some personal mistakes a while back that led to a divorce or two. Surely Mushnick would know that, him being a sports writer and all.

Speaking of "mistakes" and such. It dawned on me while reading Phil Mushnick's column that Tom Brady once had a child out of wedlock. CBS and Nantz, in particular, have a warm, cozy relationship with the 7-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.

I'm quite certain Mushnick knows that, too. Perhaps if Brady weren't white, you'd even read about it.

I totally understand the need for content. And I totally "get" Mushnick's brand is that of a mean, viperish, bigoted old man. I don't know the New York market all that well but I have to guess there's an audience for Mushnick's style up there. If he weren't popular with some segment of the readers and website visitors, he wouldn't be around.

But if Mushnick really believes it's incumbent upon ESPN and CBS to attack the character and personal lives of the athletes they're broadcasting, he's more goofy than even I suspect he is. Just like the New York Post wouldn't assail one of their writers, ESPN isn't going to do that to someone who is part of the "property" they're trying to sell to advertisers and such.

If Mushnick knew anything about sports, he'd understand that.

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


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A great week for Mark Turgeon, for sure, but was it a great week for Maryland basketball? It depends on who you talk to, I guess.

Turgeon’s three-year extension is all about incentives and wins in March. In that way, the contract now mirrors what people want from the head coach—a different kind of success than he’s had. At the same time, it’s really a nod to recruiting stability more than a nod to the success he’s already had.

In the meantime, the chances of that different kind of success took a big leap forward thanks to guard “Fatts” Russell (Rhode Island) and center Qudus Wahab (Georgetown), two experienced high-level players from the transfer portal. After that news, experts were picking the Terps as a top 10 preseason team in their “way too early” Top 25 polls for 2021-22.

That’s incumbent, however, on the return of seniors Aaron Wiggins and Eric Ayala, the team’s top two scorers this past season. Both are examining their pro prospects while leaving open a return to Maryland. If one of them is more likely to be gone than the other, it’s Wiggins. That being said, there’s little chance right now that he’ll be chosen in the NBA Draft.

So…yeah…it’s way too early to discuss the Top 25. The roster is nowhere near set. The only things we really know are that Wahab and Russell will be there and Aquan Smart and Chol Marial will not. That’s surely a good trade.

As for the new guys, Russell is a true point guard, and a good one. During his final year at URI, he had 103 assists and 54 turnovers. In the vein of Anthony Cowan and Melo Trimble, he likes to get to the basket, gets fouled a lot while doing so, and makes the free throws when he gets to the line. This past season, that added up to nearly seven free-throw attempts per game and an 80 percent success rate.

What Russell is not, however, is a good shooter, especially from outside the arc. If the Terps are good next season, it will be because he’s a great passer, not the main offensive option.

Wahab is what the Terps didn’t have this past season, though I don’t know if he’s automatically one of the best big men in the Big 10. He was great in Georgetown’s Big East tournament run, and he’s proficient enough at scoring around the basket and blocking shots. At around 67 percent, he’s not a terrible free-throw shooter either.

I don’t choose preseason Top 25 teams seven months ahead of time. I do think that Wiggins, Ayala, Russell, Wahab, Donta Scott, Hakim Hart, James Graham and potential contributions from freshmen Ike Cornish and Julian Reese make for a team worth watching.


I was thinking about Si Woo Kim and his broken putter on the 15th green Friday at The Masters, and it got me wondering about the other 51 weeks of the year at Augusta National. Well, not all 51, since the club isn’t open in the summer months.

How does that kind of stuff go over in November if you happen to be a lucky guest at the club? What happens, if anything? Has anybody ever thrown a club (certainly, I’d think. Maybe even President Eisenhower)? Is cursing yourself for four hours part of the deal there?

The member is “responsible” for his or her guests at every club, I suppose. If there are rules that must be followed, the member should make his or her guest aware of them beforehand. The guest should probably think about the fact that he or she is a guest before doing or saying anything they might regret. The member is the one that’s going to get penalized by the whole thing.

But The National must be different. The Big Track. Azaleas, the whole deal. Hell, even guys who’ve played in the Masters 20 times talk about how they’re on eggshells the entire time they’re at the club, and can’t wait to get back home to their clubs that are a tad more chill, let’s say.

If I dumped my eight-iron into Rae’s Creek on the par-3 12th hole and whacked my club against the ground in frustration while playing with Peyton Manning, I wonder how that would work. Maybe Manning would ream me out like one of his tailbacks after a missed blocking assignment, or maybe not. Maybe my caddie would have to mention it to the caddie supervisor after the round, and Manning would get a tersely-worded note in his locker from the club. I can’t believe I’d be immediately driven in a cart by security back to my car and ushered down Magnolia Lane, though I don’t think I’d even test that theory out.

Back at the 2021 Masters, Kim said that his putter move was just frustration, and he didn’t mean to break the damn thing. A reporter asked him if he had an extra putter with him at Augusta, and he cut the whole thing off and said he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. He was embarrassed, and he should have been.

After rounds of 71 and 69, Kim struggled a bit more on the weekend, shooting 74 and then 72 to finish in a tie for 12th. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had it been Kim to make a big run instead of Hideki Matsuyama. He would have needed to answer a few more questions about the whole deal for sure.


The Orioles set some kind of record the other day when their batters recorded 14 strikeouts in the Opening Day home game against the Red Sox. Five straight games with at least 13 strikeouts, the most by a team since at least 1901.

To which I say…this is 2021 in baseball, so who cares? An out is an out, a strikeout is better than a double play. Through nine games, the Orioles are simply performing poorly offensively, no matter how they’re doing it. And that’s not a good sign, because the pitching staff is unlikely to hold up over long stretches of time.

When I watch the Orioles, I see a team that’s maybe a little better than it’s been the last couple years? A little, but it’s noticeable. 65-70 wins is a definite possibility, and that’s about as far as I can go. It feels like there’s a reason to go watch the team once or twice if you feel comfortable.

The Orioles haven’t committed many errors, but that hardly means they’re a good defensive team, which has a lot to do with everything besides errors. Ryan Mountcastle is as position-less as he was expected to be, and I’m not sure what can be done about that right now.

I didn’t realize that Cedric Mullins had become a full-time left-handed hitter in Spring Training; it looks like that was a good idea. After six games against the Red Sox, I think it’s clear that neither team is headed to postseason glory this year.

Otherwise, the Orioles have played nine games. It’s nice that they’ve won four of them, and maybe the pitching staff will be better than advertised. After next week, about 10 percent of the season will already be done, and there still won’t be that much to say quite yet.

The other news last week was about Ryan Wagner, the team’s public address announcer who was summarily let go right before the Opening Day game. The gig was really a dream job for Wagner, a Baltimorean, and it certainly wasn’t a dream way to go out. Like almost everything about the Orioles, it was weird and done without comment.

If you’re wondering, the PA role isn’t exactly a high-paying job, and it’s a big ask for something that isn’t a full-time job. Could you go to all 81 home games every season? I don’t even think the players want to go to all those games.

Rex Barney, the first Camden Yards announcer, had “give that fan a contract.” Dave McGowan, who started after Barney’s death, just happened to have his career coincide exactly with the team’s 14-year streak of losing seasons (1998-2011). Wagner? He got to witness some playoff games, and he found something with J.J. Hardy. The new guy/girl is sure to find something of their own too.

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Sunday
April 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2421


far from over...


There are a bunch of reasons -- a handful, at least -- why the 2021 Masters is far from over, despite the fact that Hideki Matsuyama has an ultra-comfortable four shot lead heading into today's final round.

But before we chronicle why the 29-year old Japanese star might wind up not winning, let's first look at the positive side and list the reasons why he might very well come out on top today.

If you're a believer in the theory of "it's his time", Matsuyama's victory seems likely. He's had several brushes with major championship glory over the last decade and hasn't been able to enter the winner's circle. While he isn't considered a world golfing "superstar" in the same light as, say, Tiger, Rory or Jordan, Matsuyama has long been known as a player on the rise who just needed that one big win to get his career kick-started. Sometimes, as Bryson DeChambeau showed last September at the U.S. Open, it's just "your time".

If he holds on to win the Masters today, Hideki Matsuyama would become the first male Japanese golfer to win a major championship.

He's a sublime ball striker. In fact, sublime called to express his jealousy at well Matsuyama plays from tee-to-green. All four of Augusta National's par 5's are par 4's for him. He can hit the tight draw that's required to get the most out of the roll at the 2nd and 13th holes and he can hit the straight-up-in-the-air bomb that you need to reach #8 and #15 in two shots. His second shot into 15 yesterday, a towering 6 iron from 205 yards, set up a 5-foot eagle putt that started his back-nine surge. When you can drive it like he does and flush your irons like he does, there's not much that can go wrong.

There you go. If you're looking for reasons why Matsuyama can hold on and win today, the two big ones are right there. There is something to be said about the inevitable finally taking place. And Matsuyama, tee to green, is really on point this weekend at Augusta National.

Unfortunately, the reasons why it might be difficult for him to follow through on the 4-shot lead he owns are more numerous. That's just the way it is in golf. It's far easier to lose a tournament than it is to win one.

His putter is hot and cold. I say this all the time to my high school team when I hear one of them comment on a PGA Tour player and they say, "He's a terrible putter." -- no one on TOUR is a "terrible" putter. If they were terrible at putting, they wouldn't be playing golf for a living.

But TOUR players fall into two distinct categories. Great putters who rarely putt poorly and good putters who occasionally putt great. Matsuyama is a good putter who occasionally putts great. Without question, his work with the flatstick is the single biggest reason why he hasn't been more successful in his decade long career. He just doesn't putt well enough when it matters most.

If he somehow doesn't get the job done today, there's almost no doubt it will be because his hot putter from Saturday turned cold on Sunday. Sure, the putts at 15, 16 and 17 (all birdies) were relatively short -- 5 feet, 4 feet and 12 feet -- but they're still Augusta greens and it's still the Masters and you still have to make the stroke and roll the ball into the cup. Let's see if he can handle the heat today when he's on the greens.

Playing with the lead isn't easy. No one is going to turn down a 4-shot lead, of course, but the reality is that it's not always easy to be up by four shots with 18 holes to play. If you allow it to happen, your mindset changes. You go from playing golf and trying to make birdies and pars to protecting your lead, which, any veteran tournament player will tell you, is a bad way to go about it. And if you haven't led a major by four shots going into the final round -- and Matsuyama obviously hasn't -- you don't have any experience to draw from over those last 18 holes.

The most famous Masters collapse came in 1996 when Greg Norman inexplicably frittered away a 6-shot lead with 18 holes to play. Rory McIlroy strolled to the 1st tee with a 4-shot advantage in 2011 and couldn't hang on. There have been others, of course, who also fell victim to the pressures of Augusta National. We won't mention Scott Hoch's name here because it's just too painful to reflect on that 28-inch putt he missed on the first playoff hole in 1989. But you get the picture. Playing with the lead at Augusta National is almost worse than playing from a stroke or two behind.

The best thing Matsuyama has going for him is that those in chase aren't exactly household names. There's no Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson three shots behind. Phil Mickelson made the cut, but he's not close enough to make a Sunday charge. Instead, guys like Xander Schauffele, Marc Leishman, Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris are at 7-under par. Combined, they have one major victory. Jordan Spieth is lurking, ever so slightly, at 5-under par, but he would need to post something like 64 or 65 today and hope everyone else -- including Matsuyama -- fades in the final round.

Of the pursuers, Schauffele would appear to be the one guy worthy of consideration for a Sunday run. Like Matsuyama, he's a terrific ball striker. But he's a better putter than the Japanese star and is capable of making birdies in bunches.

Rose started the tournament with a 65 but was only able to go 72-72 over the next two days. He looks destined for a top five finish, but nothing more. His occasionally balky driver always seems to go off the rails at the worst time.

Zalatoris would be a remarkable winner in that this is his first-ever visit to Augusta National. Not much is known about him, but if you're a follower of college golf, you've heard about him over the last three years. He was a total stud at Wake Forest and was destined for this kind of stage. It's not at all impossible that he could put together a round of 68 or 67 today and come out on top.

Leisham is very much a "hot and cold" putter like Matsuyama. He hits a lot of greens and occasionally makes a lot of putts. When he's "on" with the flat stick, he's very dangerous. It would take some extraordinary circumstances for him to win today, but his game is definitely "major ready".

If for no other reason than you hate to see a man become bad part of Masters lore ("remember that year when the Japanese guy was up by four shots and shot 75 on the last day?"), here's hoping Matsuyama holds on today and completes the anticipated coronation that comes with being a Masters champion. I hope he holds on and wins.

But I've seen enough of these tournaments to know it's far from over. In fact, as the saying goes, the event won't really begin until the back nine later this afternoon. You can almost bet that by the time Matsuyama gets to that 10th tee his once-comfortable 4-shot lead will somehow be one or two shots and......it's......"game on" at that point.

If Matsuyama doesn't hold on, who comes from behind and wins? I have a feeling the guy who would make that charge would be Will Zalatoris. It's a story waiting to happen. For the first time since 1979, a first-timer at Augusta National shows up and wins.

No matter what happens or who wins, you can count on one thing today: great theater.


Former Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson became a national sports story on Saturday when it was revealed that he's been fired by the Houston Chronicle for comments he made to a Boston radio station last month in the wake of allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Wilson, who was once the Ravens beat writer for the Sun, offered his analysis of the situation as a guest on WEEI Radio. At the time of the interview, there were 12 women who had filed lawsuits against Watson. Today, that number has grown to 22. Wilson's assertion in the interview was that the litigation process was an attempted "money grab" by the women and their legal teams. While he did note in the interview that the stories of sexual misconduct by Watson could, in fact, be true, he went overboard in his defense of the Texans quarterback.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson faces 22 lawsuits in Houston over alleged misconduct during professional massage sessions.

“Yeah, it’s a money grab," Wilson said. "It started out that way. And then once the lawyer put it out after Watson's camp didn’t want to acquiesce and pay the money demands, then they put out a call for more, and that’s what he’s trying to do. It’s ambulance chasing.”

“I’m skeptical,” said Wilson. “Let’s put it like that. I wanna be careful. I’m not dismissing that it could be true, in that, I wasn’t there. The people that know what happened are him and those alleged women, who haven’t put their name on it. It’s all Jane Doe. There’s no way to vet it. There’s no way to really look into it…just because someone is accused of something that doesn’t mean they did it.”

“Deshaun Watson is a guy that is highly respected," the reporter stated on the radio show. "I’ve known him for four years and, you know, been around him, not just at the stadium, but at charity events and social settings.”

All of that, plus some other stuff he said during the interview, was the tipping point for the higher-ups at the Chronicle. They distributed a memo in the wake of Wilson's firing that reminded the writers and editors that opinions are not permissable.

“The sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson bring those standards front and center,” Executive Editor Steve Riley wrote to the staff. “This note serves as a reminder that as we report, analyze and describe those allegations, those who bring them, and the person they are brought against, we must approach the story with fairness and care toward all involved. Given the frequency of content we are creating, on a growing number of print and digital channels, our editors must also be more vigilant with our oversight of coverage on all platforms…Facts are good. Analysis is OK. Opinion, speculation, or baseless assertions are not. We won’t tolerate that sort of commentary.”

The unwritten part of that note that's important in the media world is the concept of bias, both positive and negative. An editor likely believes his writer would be unable to perform his duties fairly in the future given their obvious show of support for the quarterback during the midst of this scandal. That may or may not be true. Just because Aaron Wilson supported Deshaun Watson in the early stages of this public story (that could wind up being a criminal case) doesn't necessarily mean Wilson couldn't be critical of Watson's performance in a game next season when he goes 13 for 34 and throws for 153 yards with 3 interceptions in a loss to the Titans.

But these days, one misstep is all it takes. There are generally no second chances, no forgiveness, no mentoring. You screw up, you're fired. The Houston Chronicle, of course, might be thinking about their own legal vulnerabilities in the story. Wilson, acting as their representative on a radio show, might have opened himself up to litigation with some of his commentary.

Some folks on Twitter railed about "cancel culture" on Saturday when the news of Wilson's firing broke and started making the social media rounds. I wouldn't go that far. While it's definitely true that everyone gets offended by everything these days, Wilson's journalistic experience should have told him that rendering an opinion on Deshaun Watson's innocence before knowing any of the real facts of the case was a slippery slope.


The Orioles lost again last night. The Birds bullpen blew a late lead and the Red Sox tacked on two runs in the top of the 10th inning to win, 6-4. One weekend after sweeping Boston at Fenway, the Birds are in danger of the same fate in their stadium unless they win today's series finale.

The bats continue to be ice cold for Brandon Hyde's team. The Orioles managed just 8 hits on Saturday night, two of them coming from Cedric Mullins (.455), who is off to a great start in 2021. Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander homered for the O's, who are now 4-4 on the season.

But the story from Saturday wasn't the game. It was the attendance. Or is it a story? I can't figure it out.

9,307 was the crowd last night. That's 20% of the stadium's 45,971 capacity.

Keeping in mind that the team is permitting only 25% of the capacity to attend home games in the early stages of 2021, that means a little more than 11,000 fans would have actually been allowed in last night.

Is a crowd of 9,307 impressive given the Covid-19 limitations? Or is 9,307 awful?

There was a time, of course, when a weekend home series with the Red Sox would have virtually guaranteed a 3-day total of 90,000 or more. Granted, 40% of those people would have been Red Sox fans, but 90,000 is 90,000. Boston money spends just as easily as Baltimore money.

Should the Orioles be worried that they couldn't sell 11,000 tickets to a Saturday night home game against Boston?

I get it. They were only roughly 2,000 shy of the revised capacity. Is that because fewer Boston fans are coming to the games in Baltimore? Or because fewer Baltimore fans are interested in baseball?

Covid related?

Spring related?

Early in the season related?

How can you only draw 9,307 to a Saturday night home game against the Red Sox?

It's worth noting that the Mets drew 8,500 last night for a home game with the Marlins and the Twins had 9,500 in the stadium when they hosted the Mariners. St. Louis had over 13,000 for their home game with Milwaukee on Saturday night, but you're talking about the best baseball city in America, so that might not be a fair comparison.

If the Orioles drew 9,307 for the second home game of the season and there were playing the Rays or the White Sox, for example, I probably wouldn't bat an eye. But 9,307 for the Red Sox on a warm, Saturday night in April?

Come on Red Sox fans, support your team...

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Saturday
April 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2420


saturday stuff


Thank you, Justin Rose. Thank you for keeping the 2021 interesting for all of us. And for just about all 53 other players who made the cut at the Masters.

Rose was in position to start a weekend coronation at Augusta National. After an opening round 65 gave him a four-shot lead -- the second highest in tournament history -- all the Englishman needed on day two was a round of similar excellence and he could have been up by six or eight shots at the midway point.

Thankfully, it didn't turn out that way. Rose still leads the year's first major, but it's now a one-shot advantage after his second round score of 72. A dozen players crept back into serious contention on Friday, including Justin Thomas (-4), Collin Morikawa (-2) and Bryson Dechambeau (-1), all of whom were in danger of getting left behind if Rose could have thrown up a 68 or 67 on Friday.

Justin Thomas is in perfect position at Augusta National through 36 holes, sitting at 4-under-par, just three shots behind leader Justin Rose.

One of the most accurate statements in all of sports comes to fruition every year at Augusta National. No matter what happens on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, the statement rings true: "The Masters doesn't really start until the back nine on Sunday."

How true that is.

Now, you have to be in position when you reach the back nine on Sunday in order to have a chance. But as sure as the sun rises in the East tomorrow, there will be 6 or 8 players within striking distance come Sunday afternoon who just need a remarkable stretch of nine holes to capture the Masters.

It's golf's best theater, for sure. On Friday, it was helped a bit by Justin Rose. And it's further helped by a star-studded leaderboard that includes Jordan Spieth, the erstwhile #1 player in the world who suffered through a nearly-four-year-long slump before winning last week in Texas. He's two shots behind with 36 holes to play.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson will be around this weekend, but he won't be playing. Johnson missed the cut after two days of poor putting. But he'll have to remain in Augusta in order to present the green jacket to this year's winner at the post-round ceremony on Sunday evening. Johnson had finished T10 or better in five consecutive trips to Augusta National.

Si Woo Kim sits at 4-under par and is well within striking distance, but an embarrassing display of behavior late in Friday's round kept him from being higher up on the leaderboard. The South Korean had an early display of temper on the 8th hole, then started running hot again after a 3-putt bogey at 14. After an indifferent chip on 15, Kim drove his putter into the green and bent the shaft, which made the club unplayable for the remainder of the round. He putted the final four holes with his 3-wood and -- no harm, no foul -- was able to make par at all of them with standard two putts.

Editor's note: I, too, have putted in a tournament with something other than my putter. I once putted the final nine holes of a club event with my sand wedge and took 15 putts ("you should putt with that all the time" I heard more than once) en-route to a back nine score of 38. And I once putted the last 4 holes of the Maryland Open at Woodholme with my 5-wood. But on both occasions, I was simply tired of putting poorly with my putter. I've never broken a club in anger during a round of golf. Kim's outburst on Friday was shameful. You're playing in the Masters, not the club championship at Clifton Park. Get a grip, son.

Brooks Koepka also had a moment of bad form on Friday, but his came after the round while speaking to the media. Koepka, who had knee surgery a month ago, missed the cut after rounds of 74-75 and was asked how disappointed he was to not be playing the weekend. It's the standard question a golfer gets, of course. Koepka's response wasn't so standard. "How f**king disappointed do you think I am?" he blurted out, the microphone in front of him with the Masters logo on it apparently not enough to remind him that he's a professional speaking on camera. Koepka will no doubt be admonished by tournament officials for his use of the "f word" during a press conference, but in case you haven't noticed, the 4-time major champion pretty much just does whatever he wants. It was a sad display from a guy who should know better.

Can Marc Leishman do something Greg Norman couldn't do? Can the Australian put together two more great rounds and win the Masters? Absolutely he can. Leishman sits at 5-under par and has the second best shots gained numbers in the field behind only Si Woo Kim. Leishman isn't known for his length off the tee (averaging just 295 yards off the tee through 36 holes) but he is known for his ball striking ability, which is why he's in the hunt this week. Leishman has hit 24 of the first 36 greens he's played, while the field averaged just under 22 greens hit in regulation. It could be his week to capture that elusive first major and, at the same time, do something his fellow countryman Greg Norman was never able to do.

The quest to complete the career grand slam rolls on for Rory McIlroy, who looked totally lost for 36 holes en-route to a 76-74 finish and a missed cut. McIlroy's recent switch to swing guru Pete Cowen hasn't helped at all. Now, sure, swing changes take time, but we're not talking about a massive overhaul of McIlroy's move. Cowen probably came on board just to make a tweak or two. So far, those tweaks -- whatever they were -- haven't done anything to help Rory's game. He has slipped all the way to 11th in the world rankings and will have to go another year answering questions about the career grand slam and his inability to win at Augusta National.

There are lots of great potential stories still floating on the leaderboard, but none would be better than Will Zalatoris. The former Wake Forest standout sits one shot behind Rose and will play in the final group with him today in round three. This time last year, Zalatoris was on the Korn Ferry Tour, trying to make his way to the PGA Tour. A surprising top ten finish in the U.S. Open last September helped him make some progress and now, eight months later, Zalatoris has the chance to do something at Augusta National that hasn't been done since 1979. He can win the Masters in his very first appearance. As I noted on Twitter yesterday, the emergence of guys like Zalatoris and even Cameron Champ (4-under) could prove to make things difficult for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker in early September when he makes his six captain's picks. There are a handful of top young players worthy of consideration, including Zalatoris and Champ, and a win this weekend by either of them would almost make them a lock for either an automatic spot or a captain's selection.


Getting fired is never fun. Sure, there are occasions where you look back and say, "Eh, they actually did me a favor", but in the moment, when it happens, it's pretty unsettling.

The Orioles fired their public address announcer on Thursday, in case you haven't heard. Ryan Wagner was set to start his 10th season with the club when the Birds hosted the Red Sox at Camden Yards on.......Thursday.

Yes, the O's fired Wagner on the day of the home opener.

Wait...it gets better.

Wagner actually showed up for work at the stadium. And then was fired.

Now that is a tough way to go out.

To get the details ironed out perfectly, Wagner was "technically" fired on Friday. He was told on Thursday to leave the ballpark and wait for a call from a club official. That call came on Friday and he was told his services were no longer needed.

Look, I understand the level of importance of the public address announcer. On a 1-to-10 scale, in terms of your ballpark experience, the quality of the PA person is a "5", at best. Rex Barney was great, Ryan Wagner was great, you'd probably be great, the next door neighbor who sings Van Halen while he's grilling burgers outside would be great. I get it. It's a PA announcer. Just give anyone else the lineups and off they go.

But firing the dude on the day of the home opener? Totally a bush league move.

Industry rumors indicate the departure was over social media posts made by Wagner in response to the Covid-19 campaign of 2020 when no fans were at the ballpark. A glance at those posts from Wagner doesn't show anything insenstive or contradictory in the least, so there must be more to the story than meets the eye.

In true Orioles fashion, they offered "no comment" when asked about Wagner's firing. So the story in The Athletic with a source indicating the social media posts were connected to Wagner's firing is all anyone has to go on. If that's not why the O's let him go, it would be in their best interests to have someone leak the real reason for his sudden removal. Otherwise, they look bad. Again.

Working for the Orioles is similar to appearing in the old TV show, The Sopranos. At some point, everyone's getting shot. It's just a matter of time before you're on the floor and no longer part of the cast.

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Friday
April 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2419


different results for o's, justin rose


Not much went right for the Orioles on Thursday at Camden Yards as they opened their 81-game home schedule with a 7-3 loss to the Red Sox.

Not much went wrong for Justin Rose at Augusta National in the first round of the 2021 Masters, as he fired a 65 on Thursday to take a commanding four stroke lead in the first major of the year.

They were two very different opening days, for sure.

Let's start with the Orioles, first. What went wrong with the Birds? Just about everything.

Ryan Mountcastle hit a 2-run homer on Thursday but his 6th inning fielding blunder was a big moment in the O's 7-3 loss to the Red Sox.

They did make history yesterday in Baltimore, but not the kind you want to make.

For the 5th straight game, the O's struck out at least 13 times.

In the grand history of baseball, no team had done that before. Ever. Until yesterday, anyway. The Birds wound up striking out 14 times overall on Thursday, with shortstop Freddy Galvis (.115) continuing his awful start to 2021 with 3 whiffs on the day.

Matt Harvey (4 earned runs in 5.0 IP) got the starting nod and plodded along decently for five innings before leaving in the top of the sixth with a 3-2 lead. Harvey's first two starts of the year have been acceptable, if you're counting at home, even though his 5.59 ERA isn't all that hot.

The game unraveled in the sixth inning after yet another Ryan Mountcastle blunder in left field. On Wednesday night in the Bronx, the rookie's defensive botch sent that game with the Yankees to extra innings. Yesterday at Camden Yards, his gaffe gave the visitors the lead for good as Boston pulled to above .500 at 4-3 after starting the season losing three straight home games to the Orioles.

There's lots of baseball left, of course. We're 7 games into a 162-game marathon. But a week into the season, the Orioles have exactly two players who are hitting the ball with any success; Cedric Mullins (.448) and Pedro Severino (.318), who was the only Bird to have a multiple hit game on Thursday.

Everyone else is stinking up the place. And it's not a sweet smell like Boog's barbeque, either. Mancini (.179), Mountcastle (.179), Franco (.179), Galvis (.115) and Santander (.231) are in need of some extra time in the batting cage -- and soon.

Early days. Early days. Just keep reminding yourself, it's early days.

Mountcastle seems to be the most immediate concern. With the bat, he'll come around for sure. He homered yesterday and has a professional-looking move at the plate that is almost certainly going to yield positive results. His numbers will come around. But with the glove...he's an error waiting to happen. How long Brandon Hyde goes with him in left field is anyone's guess, but Mountcastle is not a professional left fielder. Not yet, at least.

Freddy Galvis looks overmatched at the plate. Early days. Early days. But the O's need way more from him offensively. He's a career .231 hitter, so it's not like the Orioles thought they were getting Ty Cobb or Pete Rose in the off-season. But .115 ain't gonna cut it, either. Early days.

Off the field, the O's matched Mountcastle's unsteady play in left field with several blunders in the stands.

They apparently ran out of several popular food items, which is really hard to do when only 10,000 were in the place. Twitter contained numerous stories from game-goers who said crab balls were no longer available in the 5th inning. If "Baltimore" is going to run out of anything, it should never be something crab-related. We, uh, do have a history with crabs in Maryland, you might have heard.

There was also apparently some varying degrees of uniformity when it came to wearing your face covering at the game.

One person in attendance was told "follow the rules or leave the stadium" after he removed his face covering to speak with his wife, who was on the phone with the family babysitter addressing an emergency. I only read the account from the offended party, of course, but his e-mail, if true, was a bad moment for the team's game-day staff. It costs nothing to be nice.

Social media had other published instances of overzealous stadium employees enforcing the mask rule. It's Twitter and Facebook, sure. People on those two platforms are prone to posting things that defend their position or their argument. But it would appear the organization wasn't totally clear to their game-day staffers on the subject of face coverings.

Early days. 80 home games left to get it fixex. And, like Mountcastle in left field, it's a work in progress with stadium operations and such. But it needs to get cleaned up, even with 10,000 fans in the stadium.

On a side, but related, note, I must be growing up in my old age. The Orioles set a Major League record on Thursday by striking out at least 13 times in 5 consecutive games and I didn't make one Chris Davis joke. I don't know, I might like the "old me" better.


It's also early days for Justin Rose at the Masters, but a 4-shot lead after Thursday's opening round puts him in great position with 54 holes to play. The popular Englishman is looking for his 2nd career major championship and first green jacket. He lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff in 2017.

We'll get back to that playoff loss in a minute, because something that happened there could be coming full-circle to Rose, four years down the road.

Justin Rose (65) owns the second largest first round lead in Masters history after separating himself by four shots on Thursday.

The winner on Thursday was, without question, the golf course. In last November's Covid-delayed playing of the Masters, 53 players broke par in the opening round as the competitors tore into a soft, benign Augusta National. Yesterday, only 12 players were in red figures, including 2015 champion Jordan Spieth, who overcame a distastrous triple-bogey-7 at the 9th hole to finish at 1-under par.

The golf course showed her teeth on Thursday and some of the best players in the world had bite marks at day's end. Bryson DeChambeau shot 76. So, too, did Rory McIlroy, who will likely once again miss out on the chance to complete the career grand slam at Augusta National.

It would appear the course is simply ill-fitting for DeChambeau, who averaged 326 yards off the tee on Thursday but shot the same score as 63-year old Ian Woosnam, whose average drive was 269 yards. DeChambeau's mechanical, scientific "style" simply doesn't mesh with Augusta National, where creativity and ball flight matter far, far more than do 326 yard drives.

Two recent champions (Garcia and Willett) also authored 76 on Thursday. Sungjae Im, a betting favorite going into the tournament, was cruising along at even-par when he reached the 15th tee. He then made "9" on that par-5 hole, hitting two balls in the water from behind the green. Im wound up with 77.

#DMD favorite Patrick Cantlay posted 79, pre-tournament hopeful Lee Westwood shot 78 and Matt Kuchar, still in search of his first major title, also came in at 6-over 78. Augusta National showed up on Thursday, even if some of the game's best players didn't.

There's a lot of golf left, obviously. There are gobs of players at even, 1-over and even 2-over who have a chance to get back in the mix with a good round today. But there's a stat in play that can't be ignored, and it doesn't favor anyone who failed to break par on Thursday.

Other than Tiger Woods, no one over the last 16 years has been outside of the top 10 after round one of the Masters and gone on to win the tournament. That means, if the theory holds true in 2021, one of these 12 players is winning on Sunday evening: Rose (-7), Matsuyama (-3), Harman (-3), Zalatoris (-2), Simpson (-2), Reed (-2), Bezuidenhout (-2), Kim (-1), Lowry (-1), Kokrak (-1), Hatton (-1) and Spieth (-1).

With the likes of Morikawa (+1), Thomas (+1), Rahm (even), Kisner (even) and Leishman (even) lurking, perhaps this the outlier year where someone comes from off the pace and catches Rose and the others. There's a lot of golf left and Rose is clearly in the driver's seat. How the tournament goes from here depends mainly on what he does.

Speaking of Rose, the golf gods might have been watching back in 2017 when he lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff at Augusta National. For those who remember the post-round interview on CBS, the Englishman was glowingly courteous to his counterpart. While the powers-that-be at CBS have removed that particular interview from YouTube, the folks at the Masters have Rose's post-round press conference still available for those who wish to see it.

For kicks and giggles, check out the two minutes below of Rose speaking after his crushing loss to Garcia. The golf gods might agree. There's a way to handle losing that someday comes full circle for you. Justin Rose did himself proud back in April of 2017. And who knows? He might be doing himself proud again this April, too.


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faith in sports


I always marvel at players and coaches who get the spotlight for a minute or two and take that opportunity to speak out about their faith and their Christianity. In a world where everything is mainly about "look at me!", when a coach or player says, instead, "look at Him!", I get the warmest of warm hearts.

I'm not a huge University of North Carolina basketball fan, but the 2 minute video below is pretty cool. As Justin Jackson says, "God is good...all the time."

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electric for their continued partnership with #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment that we post here every Friday.



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Thursday
April 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2418


masters day one


It will look like the Masters in a lot of ways today when the first round begins, but with the absence of one particular player the event will certainly lack the same level of excitement it has enjoyed since 1997.

They're playing this year's Masters without Tiger Woods.

This author says they'll be playing every other Masters from this point forward without Woods, too. I don't believe he'll ever play competitive golf again in the wake of his horrific February 23rd car accident. Others seem to believe Woods will someday return to the TOUR and once again compete at Augusta National. I'd love to be wrong on this one.

Not this year, unfortunately.

On yesterday's edition of Glenn Clark Radio, the show host asked me, in lieu of Woods playing, what sort of storyline exists at this year's event that could capture the casual sports fan? That, as I told him, is a great question. There is, as we know, a huge difference between the casual sports fan and a golf junkie. A golf nut like me will watch the tournament and enjoy the victory of basically anyone in the field who wins. I can take joy in a victory from a guy like Victor Perez (don't worry, no one else knows who he is, either) just as easily as I can take joy from, say, a win by Bryson DeChambeau.

But the casual fan...in terms of golf, they probably know three names these days. Tiger, Phil Mickelson and -- wait for it -- Rickie Fowler. And with Fowler not in the event this year, that doesn't leave much for the casual fan to get excited about for the next four days.

At 51, Mickelson is still very much a potential contender at Augusta National. He could win there this week and it wouldn't shock me in the least. And Mickelson, particularly if he played well all four days, would be an attraction for the casual sports fan. They'd tune in to see if the old guy could beat the young guns.

Without Tiger, though, this year's event is going to suffer. Don't worry, CBS will give you plenty of red-and-black over the next four days. In fact, if you didn't no better, you'll think the 5-time champion actually is playing. That's how much air time he's going to receive between now and Sunday.

But a Masters without Woods just isn't the same. It's not the same for golf junkies and it's nowhere near the same for the casual sports fan who watches golf a few times a year...if the stars are lined up the right way and Woods is near the top of a tournament leaderboard.

Life goes on, of course. There was a Masters before Tiger burst onto the scene in the mid 1990's and there will be a Masters long after Woods' career comes to an end. There was always going to be a Masters without Tiger...but that doesn't make it any less painful when it finally does come around.

Jordan Spieth, Bryson DeChambeau...there are two names that could move a casual fan to watch golf this weekend if either of them have a legit chance of winning. Spieth is a popular figure who just returned to the winner's circle and DeChambeau has that "mad scientist" look about him that could be molded into something flashy and interesting on television.

Everyone else, though, is just another guy.

Without Tiger in the field, the players pretty much all just look the same.


Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley spoke on Wednesday at the Masters as is his usual practice on the day before the opening round of golf's biggest tournament.

Most of the questions were golf or course related, but the "white elephant question" was finally asked and Ridley gave a firm, honest answer.

When asked if Augusta National ever considered moving the Masters in a show of support for the recent Georgia voting bill that was passed, Ridley was quick to respond.

"No, that wasn't a consideration."

Ridley went on to say all the right things, of course. Augusta National officials are nothing if not fully prepared to defend and deflect any of their practices, whether it deals with membership, corporate sponsorship or virtually anything else. They, like most of us, don't want to see anyone's voting rights supressed or limited in any way. Ridley dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" with his comments on Wednesday.

But Augusta National doesn't react well to leverage plays.

Who can forget the famous incident with activist Martha Burk circa 2003, who was so outraged by Augusta National's female-less membership roster that she contacted the tournament's three major TV advertisers and urged them to withdraw their advertising funds?

Augusta's answer? They reached out to Coca-Cola, Cadillac and Travelers Insurance and informed them the club would handle the broadcast costs for that particular year and they'd simply sell no advertising, thus not creating any sort of conflict with their longtime business partners.

In other words, Augusta National funded the broadcasts themselves, told their sponsors to keep their money, and at the same time let Ms. Burk know she wouldn't run their club for them.

Martha Burk wasn't expecting that one, obviously.

Augusta National eventually allowed a female member into their club, but on their schedule.

So it's no surprise at all that Augusta National isn't going to move the Masters out of the state of Georgia. They're not jeopardizing the history of their event over a boycott of sorts which, most of us know, wouldn't do a bit of good when all the dust settles.

Speaking of leverage...and how it can backfire.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is facing a delicate situation himself at Augusta National. Manfred authorized the move of this summer's All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in light of the voting bill that was passed. That seems like a nice thing to do, huh? "We'll show the state of Georgia," Manfred seemed to be saying. "If they have laws we don't agree with, we'll just pull our big event out of their state and move it elsewhere."

That's a noble gesture. Except Manfred forgot one other small item. He's also a member at Augusta National. So, now that the famous club has snubbed the concept of a boycott, what's Manfred going to do? You moved the All-Star Game because the state of Georgia passed a law you didn't agree with -- but what about your membership at the most prestigious private golf club in all of America?

Hmmmmmm...

The reality, of course, is that the silly idea of a boycott is just that -- silly. It's entirely possible to not agree with a law that's been passed and, yet, still be perfectly fine with running your business in that state, county, city, etc.

Moving the All-Star Game seemed like a cool, hip thing to do. Unfortunately, it robbed businesses and employees in and around Atlanta and the baseball stadium of revenue and success they had been planning on for years. But who cares about that when you can "make a statement" by moving the game to another city?

About that Augusta National membership, though, Mr. Commissioner...

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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.


a challenging investment portfolio


Writer’s Note: This column is about basketball. For The Masters, I’m going against the grain and picking Dustin Johnson to win for the second time in five months.

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley dictated an op-ed that appeared in USA Today on Monday, the day after the down-to-the-wire NCAA championship game between Stanford and Arizona.

Staley is as passionate a writer as she is a coach and was as a Hall-of-Fame player at Virginia a generation ago. If “her” sport needs a strong voice, there’s nobody better than Staley to shout from the mountaintop. She said a lot on Monday, but the crux of it was this:

You know what else we need? Investment — from everyone. We need to think about women’s basketball like the stock market: it grows over time, and you have to put something in to see a return on your investment. And we’ll have dips just like the stock market. But we’re worth it. The men’s NCAA Tournament is now a billion-dollar industry, but it didn’t start there. The leaders in men’s basketball, they forgot the grind it took to get them there. We’re ready to grind. And if you invest in us, the return will be astronomical.

South Carolina women's basketball coach, Dawn Staley.

If you invest in us, the return will be astronomical. That sounds great…but is it true? And what type of investments is she talking about, exactly?

For a minute, let’s talk about who invests in the men’s basketball championship and what the return is. The biggest investment, of course, comes from television. The tournament is first and foremost a television property. In fact, “NCAA March Madness” is the brand name* of the television “show” broadcast by CBS and three cable networks during March and April.

*Staley made the point that, officially, the NCAA only uses “March Madness” for the men’s tournament, which she sees as a slight to the women’s tournament.

Back in 2010, the NCAA reached an agreement with CBS and Turner for broadcast rights to the men’s tournament through 2024. The contract was worth around $11 billion, or around $785 million per year. In 2016, that contract was extended through 2032, at essentially the same price.

Why is it worth that much? One need only to look at the last “normal” tournament, 2019, to find the answer. NCAA tournament games televised on CBS had an average viewing audience of almost 8 million people per game. Eight of the top 10 programs televised on any network in March were tournament games. The dollar amount of national advertising alone surpassed that $785 million rights fee by itself. What the men’s tournament provides CBS and Turner is, to use a word Staley used, “astronomical.”

But why is it that so many people watch the games, allowing all that advertising to be sold? Is it the product, or is the marketing? Staley says it’s the latter, right? “We’re worth it,” she wrote, which is understandable for someone in her position. Just sell us better, and give us a little more effort, and you’ll see. That’s what happened with the men’s tournament.

The problem, of course, is that’s not what happened with the men’s tournament. The product—in a variety of ways over a period of years—pushed the marketing. It continues to push the marketing—just think about the impact of that Gonzaga-UCLA game from last Saturday, or Oral Roberts making the Sweet 16 the week earlier.

Here’s what Staley says about a product she believes in, edited for brevity. “When you actually give us a chance, you see it’s the same level of talent as the men, and you’re hooked.” And she’s just not right about that.

It’s not wrong for Staley to say that her players are talented or that people can “get hooked.” She doesn’t need to apologize for believing in the game that made her who she is, and she’s correct that there are lots of buzzer beaters and close games and, yes, “madness” in the women’s tournament too. She doesn’t need to apologize for anything. She’s not only a great coach for her team, but a leader who clearly cares about the other 350 teams too, even her greatest rivals.

But Division I women’s basketball players don’t have the same level of talent as Division I men’s basketball players. That sounds like an obvious thing to say, but it really matters when it comes to marketing.

The game is the same, with only minor administrative differences. The passion and hard work of the players and coaches is the same. The product isn’t the same. Where women’s basketball is right now as a marketing property is a result of what it is, not of negligence by the NCAA or the institutions who sponsor it. And please don’t take that to be praise for the NCAA.

As far as the Division I tournaments go, the NCAA could make some real changes. The first two rounds of the women’s tournament are currently played at campus sites, unlike the eight neutral sites each year for the men’s tournament. That’s done for reasons of ticket sales and interest, but it’s certainly a case of the NCAA “passing the buck.” The host institutions slap a few logos onto their courts and follow a few rules, but otherwise it doesn’t look or feel any different than any other game.

The NCAA could easily put out bids for and play games at neutral sites for those early rounds for the women. If the organization is having trouble getting bids, they could even make places a few offers they can’t refuse. The capacity requirements for those arenas wouldn’t need to be as large as they are for the men’s tournament.

As far as what individual institutions can do, that’s up to them. At South Carolina, the success and talent of Staley’s teams has made them a big draw. At other schools, even in the “big time,” interest isn’t nearly the same. I’m sure there are cases where schools don’t pay the attention they should to women’s basketball, and they should be called out if that’s the case.

As far as television rights go, I’m not privy to what the NCAA may have explored in recent years for the women’s basketball tournament specifically. Right now, those TV rights are bundled in with lots of other NCAA championship events—lacrosse, softball, etc., in a contract with ESPN.

Is selling the women’s tournament on its own a possibility? The answer is yes. In fact, if the NCAA is actually interested in revenue, they probably should. Take the NCAA championship game, for instance. In 2019, that basketball game between Baylor and Notre Dame drew a viewership of 3.1 million. The men’s lacrosse title game between Virginia and Yale two months later drew only 333,000. We may love lacrosse in Maryland, but as a TV property the women’s basketball tournament gets held down by things like lacrosse, not the other way around.

To be fair, if the ESPN channels could gain the rights to the men’s tournament (as they once had*), they’d toss away their rights to women’s basketball like a paper airplane. Right now, of course, that’s not a possibility for at least another 11 years.

*One of the biggest reasons CBS ended up bidding for the tournament was a Friday night primetime game on ESPN in 1989 between Georgetown and Princeton, a No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup that went to the final shot. Literally the next day, CBS executives began formulating a plan to get that “product” on their airwaves exclusively.

So it’s true, what Staley says. The women’s tournament deserves more investment, especially as a television property. Industry experts, to a man/woman, will tell you that the tournament is undervalued compared to the interest it engenders, even if that interest pales in comparison to “March Madness.”

The return on that investment as a whole, however, isn’t nearly as clear. And that makes the organization wary of increasing its investment in the way that Staley thinks. The tournament can only “grow” so much, and by its actions the NCAA seems to be admitting that. That has to be frustrating to those inside the game, and that’s understandable.

The NCAA shouldn’t be stupid, like it was with the whole weight room and COVID testing situation in 2021. And it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try to improve the women’s tournament every year, since they always say it’s all about the “student-athletes” and their experience. Honestly, though, I think they’re right to be wary of pushing for the kind of investment that Staley wants.

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Wednesday
April 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2417


patrick can win


For weeks, I was secretly planning a semi-bombshell here at #DMD. I was going to pick Jordan Spieth to win the 2021 Masters.

Yes, the same Jordan Spieth who hadn't won since July of 2017. The same Jordan Spieth who would enter Augusta National's annual event on an 80-something tournament losing streak. The same Jordan Spieth who was once the can't miss kid and now couldn't sniff a Sunday leaderboard.

Spieth ruined all of that with his win last Sunday in San Antonio.

I'm still bullish on him this week at the Masters, but it's incredibly difficult to win twice in seven days out there on the PGA Tour. I wouldn't be stunned in the least if he wins, but I'm not picking him to come out on top.

Instead, I'm picking the guy I thought would be the runner-up to move ahead one spot and don the green jacket on Sunday evening.

Patrick Cantlay is #DMD's call to win this week's Masters at Augusta National.

I'm calling it now: Patrick Cantlay will win the 2021 Masters.

His track record at Augusta National isn't great, but he's had some moments of greatness in his short Masters career. He momentarily held the lead after the 15th hole on Sunday in 2019, but stumbled on the final three holes en route to a T9 finish. Last November, Cantlay was somewhat of a pre-tournament favorite but finished T17.

Don't let his tepid record at the Masters fool you, though. The 29 year old from Long Beach, California has the game to win a green jacket. He just has to make it happen.

Off the tee? No worries there. Cantlay averages 300 yards per-drive. Middle of the pack on the PGA Tour, but plenty long enough to deal with Augusta National.

Accuracy off the tee? He hits 61% of the fairways, which is again near the middle of the pack, but the absence of rough at Augusta National definitely reduces the importance of putting the ball in the short grass off the tee.

Hitting the greens in regulation? Cantlay's terrific there, hitting 70% of them, which ranks him in the top 20% on TOUR.

Birdies? Only three guys on the entire PGA Tour average more birdies-per-round than Cantlay, who is at 4.68 heading into this week's first major of the year.

The short version? Cantlay does just about everything really well, which is why he's one of the top 15 American players in the game today. What's missing? A major championship, that's all.

We love his chances this week at Augusta National. In fact, we think he's winning. Cue Jim Nantz in Butler Cabin, with the post-round welcome commentary.

"As a young boy growing up in Long Beach, California, Patrick Cantlay saw Tiger Woods win the Masters and told his parents that he, too, would someday slip on the green jacket. And like his boyhood hero, Patrick Cantlay has done just that. He is the Masters champion."

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what's up with turgeon?


Everyone in the media -- at least the ones who truly follow basketball at College Park -- says Mark Turgeon and the University of Maryland have agreed on a 3-year contract extension. But neither side is saying a word, on the record, about the coach's new deal. If it's true, that should indicate the Terps have locked up their head coach for at least five more years.

A report floated around this past Sunday that the new deal for Turgeon was actually a contract "re-work" that essentially gave him a new 3-year deal, but that story didn't gain much traction. Either way, whether it's 5 years or 3 years, Mark Turgeon's staying put in College Park for the foreseeable future.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps added two important transfer pieces this past weekend.

There are some whispers indicating part of the new extension includes a restructured buyout clause that would make it potentially more convenient (aka, "less expensive") for Maryland to part company with Turgeon at some point within the five years, but there's been nothing formally announced by the school. Buyout details aside, Turgeon will be back at Maryland in 2021-2022.

What his team will look like next November is anyone's guess. Darryl Morsell dropped some big news earlier this week when he indicated he was going to enter the NBA Draft this summer and the college transfer portal as well. Whether he gets drafted (unlikely) will put the next plan into motion, but it looks like Morsell has played his last game in College Park. Aaron Wiggins is also reportedly toying with the idea of entering the NBA Draft, although, like Morsell, it's unlikely he'll be selected as one of the 60 players in the July 29th draft.

The Terps recently inked two transfers of their own and both of them figure to play prominent roles next season. Qudus Wahab comes to College Park from Georgetown while Daron "Fatts" Russell moves to Maryland from Rhode Island. Wahab is a 6'11" big man who will be a junior next season. Russell, who played four seasons at Rhode Island, will give Maryland a ball handling point guard with exceptional defensive skills. Both players are eligible to play right away, which means Maryland now has 13 players on scholarship, their maximum permissable number. Should Morsell return, he would not count against the team's scholarship numbers due to the NCAA's Covid-19 rules.

Two incoming freshmen also figure to be prominent parts of Maryland basketball right away; Julian Reese (St. Frances) and Ike Cornish. Turgeon will have a number of rotations to consider in 2021-2022, a far cry from this past season when he was largely shuttling in 7 or 8 players throughout the Big 10 season.

The anti-Turgeon crowd in the Mid-Atlantic probably isn't thrilled with the news about the coach's extension, but it was always going to happen. Maryland didn't have $4 million and change to just hand him as a going away present and there's no guarantee the Terps could have landed anyone with a better career track record than Turgeon.

The final piece of the Maryland coaching puzzle could involve longtime assistant Bino Ranson, who is rumored to be on the short list of coaching candidates at UMBC. The Retrievers lost their popular head coach, Ryan Odom, this past week, and Ranson is a well-known figure in the Baltimore basketball community who could help UMBC attract local talent.

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enter our 2021 masters contest!


You don't have to like golf to win our Masters contest! That's the best thing about it. Even better, if you do win or finish as one of the two runner ups, you'll get to enjoy a great meal at Glory Days Grill!

Similar to our March Madness contest, we'll let the computer do the work for this year's Masters contest here at #DMD.

Here are the entry details. We are taking entries only via Twitter. You must "follow" my Twitter account -- @itsahooded4iron -- and send a tweet to me with the words "Masters Contest" in the tweet. That's your entry.

On Wednesday evening, you'll receive four golfers. We have set up the computer to choose your four players as follows: Every one who enters receives one Masters champion from 2010 through 2020. The other three players are then chosen at random by the computer, except we have eliminated all players over the age of 50 except for two; Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. In other words, you won't be receiving Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam, both of whom are playing this week but have zero chance of winning.

Scoring works as follows: Your "total score" will be the cumulative total of your four players over the four days. If all four of your players make the cut and finish 2-under, 4-under, 6-under and 8-under par, your score will be 20-under par. If three of your players make the cut and finish 4-over par (missed cut), 2-under, 4 under and 6-under, your score will be 8-under par.

If your player fails to make the cut and shoots, say, 7 over par for two rounds, that's the score you count when compiling your scoring.

In the event of a tie for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, the player with the lowest round breaks the tie. If that's tied, the player with the most birdies in Sunday's final round breaks that tie. Then on to Saturday if you're still tied, etc.

The winner gets a $100 gift card to Glory Days, 2nd place gets $75 and 3rd place gets $50.

The deadline to enter is 5 pm today.

Remember, you can only enter one time. Multiple entries will result in you being DQ'd. And no one wants to be DQ'd from the Masters.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

SUCH
a sports fan

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


During the last few minutes of Monday night’s national championship game, while Baylor was cruising to their 86-70 victory over Gonzaga, my thoughts began to drift away from the Bears’ dominant performance. I was thinking about Patrick Dennehy.

You see, everything that has transpired in the last eighteen years at Baylor University’s basketball program can be traced directly to the murder of Patrick Dennehy. That Dennehy was murdered by his own teammate and friend, Carlton Dotson, makes the entire story that much more painful and tragic.

On June 12, 2003, Dotson shot Dennehy in the head two times following an argument while they were firing guns somewhere in a field outside of Waco, Texas, where Baylor is located. The two young men had apparently been concerned for their safety during the course of the previous weeks, and had acquired several guns for protection. But that concern was due to Dotson later testifying that he was hearing voices, fueling his paranoia that two other Baylor teammates were plotting to kill him because he was, in his own words, “Jesus, the Son of God.”

After murdering his roommate and teammate, Dotson allegedly took Dennehy’s Chevy Tahoe to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where it was discovered without its license plates on June 25, 2003. Dotson had been arrested three days before in Maryland and charged with Dennehy’s murder. Dotson was a graduate of North Dorchester High School, in Hurlock, Maryland.

Dennehy’s murder led to both Baylor and the NCAA launching an investigation into the men’s basketball program, led by then Head Coach Dave Bliss. And oh my, what a dirty business Dave Bliss was running down there in Waco.

The investigations revealed that Dennehy and another player from the Bears’ 2002-03 team, Corey Herring, were not actually playing on scholarships because Baylor had already used their full allotment. Instead, Bliss had paid for both players’ tuition out of monies donated to the basketball program. As the investigation continued to unfold, Bliss flew to New York and pressured Herring’s mother to lie if questioned about her son’s “scholarship”. Bliss even called Baylor’s financial aid office and pretended to be Herring’s father, trying to determine the total amount of financial aid that had been paid that year.

Baylor’s basketball program was a mess all the way through. There were multiple failed drug tests that had been covered up; there were cash payments funneled to players by Bliss which had come from donations; and there were basic recruiting violations, like Bliss and his assistants watching recruits play pickup games while making official visits.

Perhaps most damning of all was Bliss gathering his team and directing them to tell investigators that Dennehy was a drug dealer and had been killed by Dotson in a dispute over money. Dave Bliss doesn’t strike me as a very moral person.

On June 24, 2004, Baylor University released its full findings of the violations contained within their men’s basketball program under Dave Bliss. They included:

Bliss paying for tuition for two players, Dennehy and Herring, and attempting to conceal it.

Coaching staff providing meals, transportation, lodging and clothing to athletes.

Coaching staff paying for tuition and fees for a recruit at another school.

Bliss's encouragement of school boosters to donate to a foundation tied to a basketball team that included prospective Baylor recruits.

Failure to report positive drug test results by athletes.

Failure by the entire coaching staff to "exercise institutional control over the basketball program."

That last sentence always gets me. You see it over and over again in these collegiate sports scandals. “Exercise institutional control”. Part of me is so cynical and jaded that I believe it’s part of their plan, to simply ignore any and all improprieties. Certainly, having a teammate murdered by his fellow teammate would indicate a serious lack of institutional control.

Dave Bliss was forced into his resignation on August 8, 2003. Two weeks later, the school hired Scott Drew as their new basketball coach. Drew navigated through three years of scholarship reductions and NCAA and school-imposed sanctions before turning the program around.

As I watched the last few minutes of the game Monday night, it occurred to me that all of the current players on Baylor’s roster were no more than three or four years old when Patrick Dennehy was murdered. I’m sure they know the history that will always cast a shadow over Baylor’s name, and it’s certainly no reflection on them or on Drew and the fantastic job he’s done over the past eighteen seasons. They should all be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

In some ways, it made me think about watching Maryland win the title in 2002. As someone who followed Maryland basketball from the days of Lefty Driesell, who experienced the pain and the heartbreak of the death of Len Bias, who watched the probation and sanctions and their effects on the program in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, I could relate to what the Baylor faithful must have been feeling.

But somewhere deep in my heart, I couldn’t help but wonder what Brian Dennehy’s mother was doing. And it brings up that terrible and unanswerable question about how and why we value collegiate sports as much as we do. And how much is too much before any school decides to eliminate something like their men’s basketball program?

Meanwhile, Carlton Dotson is in prison in Texas, serving a 35-year sentence for the murder of Patrick Dennehy. Dotson is eligible for a parole hearing later this year.


Heavy hangs the zero on the heads of the undefeated.

That thought was front and center in my mind as I watched Gonzaga play this weekend.

No matter what any coach or player tells the media or their family and friends or themselves, it’s undeniable that they know and they’re thinking about being undefeated. Especially in March and April in college basketball. By the time a season reaches this point, if you haven’t lost, there’s no way you’re not thinking about that, and about what it would mean to be an undefeated champion.

I know #DMD's Drew believes the hardest thing to do in sports is to stop losing, but I think there’s a corollary: The hardest thing to do in sports is win a championship. I don’t care what sport, what gender, what age level, if you’re keeping score and records and standings, and then if there are playoffs added, the hardest thing to do is win a championship.

One big reason that the NCAA Tournament is so popular is that one bad night, one off game, one banked-in buzzer beater (looking at you, Jalen Suggs), can undo a season’s worth of hard work and dreams. That’s why I love basketball so much. It offers an immediate drama that few sports can match. By the time we get to late March and early April, the seeds don’t matter anymore. Because there are fewer and fewer teams left, and they’ve all earned the right to keep playing, and only one will fulfill their dreams.

We saw how hard UCLA pushed Gonzaga on Saturday night. It was compelling theater. That game was truly memorable due to the high level of play from both teams throughout, and the unforgettable ending in overtime. But I’m sure that beyond their desire to play for the title on Monday night, the Bruins were motivated by the idea of being the team that ended Gonzaga’s perfect season.

There’s simply no denying that this late in the year, everyone in the building knows and understands what’s at stake in the Final Four when there’s an undefeated team among them. History will be made, one way or another. And that specter weighs heavily upon all the players and coaches, especially the ones with the zero in the right-hand column.


I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other morning, Titus & Tate, and they were discussing the sudden head coaching vacancy at North Carolina in the wake of Roy Williams’ retirement. Mark Titus is an Indiana native who played at Ohio State as a walk-on (well, played might be a generous description), and Tate Frazier is a UNC alumnus who lives and breathes Tar Heels basketball.

Tate suggested that UNC’s first call should be to Mark Few, who’s been at Gonzaga for 22 years. Few’s overall resume is extremely impressive, and I don’t doubt that he could do an admirable job in Chapel Hill (or any other power five conference school). But we saw, over the course of two games on Saturday and Monday, just how much tougher it is for a team like Gonzaga when they leave the West Coast Conference and step up against schools from bigger conferences. It’s like moving up a weight class for a boxer; the opponent is bigger and stronger and the punches land heavier.

So, now that Hubert Davis has been named the new head coach at UNC, rather than seeing Few move to another, bigger school, I propose a different question: Why doesn’t Gonzaga move to the Pac-12?

Before anyone suggests it’s not realistic because they don’t have a football team, it’s important to remember that UCLA doesn’t either (Heyyyooooo!). Seriously, though, Gonzaga to the Pac-12 makes a ton of sense. UCLA, USC, Oregon and Oregon State all had successful tournament runs this year. Arizona has won before. They play good basketball out West.

And if you’re Gonzaga, which is now firmly established as a national power, it would probably prove to be better for the overall strength of the program, especially in March. There’s a huge difference in beating up on Santa Clara and Pacific twice a year in order to be ready for the rigors of March, as opposed to playing every Pac-12 school home and away. There’s not much left for the Zags to prove in the WCC.

And please don’t tell me that St. Mary’s somehow challenges them in the conference.


It’s amazing that we’ve reached the end of the college basketball season. It turned out to be a pretty good year overall (at least at the Division I level, and in the power conferences), and there’s no denying that the tournament reminded every fan of why they love the game so much.

Here’s hoping that as this year moves along, by the time we hit next October, schools are open, practices are starting and fans are picking out their seats in anticipation of basketball as we remember it coming back into our lives. Let’s hope the gyms are open at every elementary school, high school and college in the country.

There’s nothing better than walking into a fieldhouse on a college campus on a cold winter’s day and hearing the sneakers squeaking, the balls bouncing off the hardwood floor, and the voices rising in anticipation of tip-off. No other game in the world brings me the same joy and emotion as basketball, and there’s still this simplicity about it that makes me marvel every time I see a perfectly threaded pass for an open layup or watch the net splash up softly after a long jumper.

You see, with basketball, you can’t deny the forces of gravity; but there are these brief moments when players, and the ball, seem to be suspended, and somehow resisting, its pull. I think that’s exactly why the game has always had a pull on me.

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Tuesday
April 6
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#2416


it was bound to happen


The Orioles and Gonzaga both proved that you can't win 'em all on Monday night.

So much for history, huh?

The Birds got shellacked in the Bronx last night, 7-0, as the step up to varsity level baseball was too much for Brandon Hyde's team. Have no fear, though. After two more games with the Yankees up there, the Orioles get to host the Red Sox this weekend for three more sure wins.

And last night in Indianapolis, Gonzaga laid one of the great all-time-eggs in NCAA tournament history, getting run out of the gym by Baylor, 86-70. It was Gonzaga's only loss of the entire season, but it came at the worst possible time, as Baylor captured the men's basketball title and once again left Mark Few at the altar as a bridesmaid.

Baylor ended Gonzaga's dream season with a resounding 86-70 win in last night's NCAA title game.

It was quite a letdown on Monday evening. That is, unless you wagered on Baylor and/or the Yankees.

The Orioles are going to lose games this season. A lot of them, most likely. And the Yankees figure to be one of the American League's top teams. And one game in baseball means nothing, unless it's a series-deciding post-season game. So last night's result in the Bronx is already forgetten.

That's what's awesome about baseball. You can lose 3-2 or 15-6 and the impact in the standings is exactly the same. And you wake up the next morning and go get 'em again that day.

Admittedly, it's not so awesome if you're 31-59 at the halfway mark of the season, like we've seen in Baltimore countless times over the last 20 years, and you have to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. What's great about baseball can be, I suppose, what's also rotten about it. You lose tonight, and tomorrow night, and the next night. That gets old, quick. But if you're winning night after night, that's a wonderful feeling indeed.

For Mark Few and Gonzaga, though, last night was "it". There's no more basketball. And their 31-0 record heading into last night's game, while still a source of pride, means next-to-nothing in the history of the game. The Bulldogs are just another team who couldn't get the job done when the lights were the brightest.

And let's be honest -- "couldn't get the job done" might be a soft explanation for what happened last night to Gonzaga. They were terrible and Baylor was great. That's a bad combination in rec-league-basketball, let alone the NCAA national championship game. Gonzaga looked worn out from the opening tip, which they lost, and Baylor looked like a team on a mission.

It was 9-0 before you settled into your couch, but Few refused to give the appearance that he was rattled, so the longtime head coach didn't call a time-out. It went from 9-0 to 18-6 to 29-10. And that was that. Gonzaga scratched their way back to within nine at one point early in the 2nd half but it wasn't to be. Baylor cruised on from there to win by whatever score they wanted to win by.

So, what happened?

How could a team that breezed through 31 games with only one real scare lay that kind of messy egg on Monday night? The other team tries, too, of course. But it wasn't like Baylor hit a few key shots late and Gonzaga lost 77-73 in another otherwise representative performance. Gonzaga. Got. Blown. Out.

The easiest answer to the "what happened?" plea is the most obvious one: Gonzaga left everything they had on the court Saturday night during their 93-90 OT win over UCLA. They simply couldn't get back "up" quickly enough after the theatrics of the semifinal game.

Gonzaga looked tired. Out of sorts. Baylor outhustled them, yes, but Gonzaga looked lifeless, particularly in the opening 20 minutes. A friend of mine who has coached college basketball says an immediate sign of a team's fatigue level is when they get what he calls a lot of "slappy" fouls, meaning they reach in and slap at the ball because they don't have the energy to move their feet and stay with the opposing player or set their body for a charging foul. Time after time last night, Gonzaga picked up "slappy" fouls. They had no gas in the tank.

NFL gamblers have long believed about merits of the "letdown game", which points to a team who had a big win the Sunday before being primed for a loss the following Sunday. Gonzaga looked like a team that won their mythical championship on Saturday night and just couldn't duplicate that kind of effort or quality 48 hours later.

We'll never know, of course. Sports is sports because of that: we never know. Lots of people probably thought Baylor was a good wager last night. But you'd be hard pressed to find anyone, anywhere, who would have taken Baylor (-15.5) last night. You never know what's going to happen, but you knew, for sure, Baylor wasn't winning by 16 points. Until they did.

The spotlight, unfortunately, will be cast far more on Gonzaga than Baylor. Given a chance to finish 32-0 and win their first title, the Bulldogs had no bite. None at all. And that, whether they like it or not, will be the focus of Monday's night stunning performance.

The Orioles get to play again tonight. Heck, for all we know, they might knit together a nice 4-2 win in the Bronx and roll on after suffering their first defeat of 2021 on Monday evening.

Gonzaga won't play again until next November. Their next chance to win won't happen for seven months. That's a long time to have to think about losing.

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enter our 2021 masters contest!


You don't have to like golf to win our Masters contest! That's the best thing about it. Even better, if you do win or finish as one of the two runner ups, you'll get to enjoy a great meal at Glory Days Grill!

Similar to our March Madness contest, we'll let the computer do the work for this year's Masters contest here at #DMD.

Here are the entry details. We are taking entries only via Twitter. You must "follow" my Twitter account -- @itsahooded4iron -- and send a tweet to me with the words "Masters Contest" in the tweet. That's your entry.

On Wednesday evening, you'll receive four golfers. We have set up the computer to choose your four players as follows: Every one who enters receives one Masters champion from 2010 through 2020. The other three players are then chosen at random by the computer, except we have eliminated all players over the age of 50 except for two; Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. In other words, you won't be receiving Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam, both of whom are playing this week but have zero chance of winning.

Scoring works as follows: Your "total score" will be the cumulative total of your four players over the four days. If all four of your players make the cut and finish 2-under, 4-under, 6-under and 8-under par, your score will be 20-under par. If three of your players make the cut and finish 4-over par (missed cut), 2-under, 4 under and 6-under, your score will be 8-under par.

If your player fails to make the cut and shoots, say, 7 over par for two rounds, that's the score you count when compiling your scoring.

In the event of a tie for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, the player with the lowest round breaks the tie. If that's tied, the player with the most birdies in Sunday's final round breaks that tie. Then on to Saturday if you're still tied, etc.

The winner gets a $100 gift card to Glory Days, 2nd place gets $75 and 3rd place gets $50.

Remember, you can only enter one time. Multiple entries will result in you being DQ'd. And no one wants to be DQ'd from the Masters.

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masters top 10


Cue the music, it's here.

The 2021 Masters is on the horizon. This year's event will take place April 8-11 at Augusta National Golf Club. The defending champion is Dustin Johnson, who won the oddly-placed 2020 Masters in November. The last time they played the Masters in April was 2019 and, well, a guy in black pants and a red shirt won the event for the 5th time.

After a T2 finish at last November's Masters, Sungjae Im arrives at Augusta National this dreaming of a green jacket.

This year's tournament is one of the most anticipated of the last decade. Even without Tiger Woods, there are countless storylines that create interest and excitement. Can Rory McIlroy finally win a green jacket and complete the career grand slam? Is Justin Thomas ready to break through and establish himself as a dominant world player a few weeks after winning the Player's Championship? Can Patrick Reed capture his 2nd career Masters title? Is Dustin Johnson going to win twice in six months at Augusta?

We'll go through our top 10 here and feature a different player on our mythical leaderboard until we reveal the winner on Wednesday, April 7.

#10 was Kevin Kisner. #9 was Tony Finau. #8 was Dylan Frittelli. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Paul Casey. #5 was Louis Oosthuizen. #4 was Jon Rahm. #3 was Jordan Spieth (would have been #1 if not for winning the Texas Open on April 4).

#2, Sungjae Im -- There's nothing about his career thus far that points to Sungjae Im being ready to win the Masters. He's only played the golf tournament once (2020) and he only has one win on the PGA Tour (2020 Honda Classic).

But don't let those two facts fool you. Sungjae Im is a great player who is ready for something big. And after his impressive debut Masters performance last November, where he finished T2 behind Dustin Johnson, we are loving his chances to win a green jacket this week.

Golfweek wrote about Im earlier this week: "He's a modern day Iron Byron," referring to the machine that was once built to test golf balls and struck every ball right in the middle of the clubface. "If ever a player could go through a round of golf without missing a shot, it's Im," the magazine wrote.

Drive it straight? Im does that. Hits his irons flush? Im also does that. Putts it well? Of course. How hard is it to putt when you 15 feet for birdie on every hole?

The 23 year old might very well be the best "unknown player" in the world right now. Golf enthusiasts know him, of course, but no one else does. Not yet, anyway. But they might know a lot more about him next Monday morning.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

soccer: americans abroad


This weekend American players featured in several of the biggest games around Europe with league titles and Champions League places on the line.

A few of the players that missed out on the US friendlies got important minutes for their clubs while one that featured for the US carried the momentum from his stellar international appearance into his club team. This Tuesday the Champions League resumes with the quarterfinals where there are three US players remaining in the competition for the biggest trophy in Europe.

Americans were involved in the two matches with the biggest title implications in Europe this weekend. In Germany, Tyler Adams started at center midfield for second place RB Leipzig as they took on leaders Bayern Munich. Adams had the difficult task of trying to contain savvy veteran Thomas Muller, but he acquitted himself well, putting in a solid performance. Adams provided a strong defensive presence in the middle of the field and passed the ball efficiently.

American Tyler Adams continues to play well for German team RB Leipzig.

In the end, it wasn’t enough, as Bayern got a goal from Leon Goretzka in the first half and Leipzig was unable to crack their defense and fell 1-0. The win puts Bayern seven points ahead and makes them a near lock for their 9th straight Bundesliga title.

In the battle for the French league title, the top two contenders, Lille and Paris St. Germain, faced off on Saturday, entering tied at the top of the table. Tim Weah was not in the starting lineup for Lille, but he did get an early substitute appearance when he came on for an injured Jonathan David in the 35th minute. David had just scored a goal to put Lille up 1-0 before coming off. PSG maintained most of the possession throughout the game, limiting Weah’s chances in front of goal, but the young American defended well from both the striker and wing positions and made the most of a counter attacking opportunity in the second half. Weah hit a nice pass to set up a teammate for a golden chance on goal but the shot was saved by the keeper.

The missed opportunity did not come back to haunt Lille however, as they proved too difficult for PSG to break down and they saw out an enormous 1-0 victory to move them three points ahead in the league lead.

In the Austrian Bundesliga, Brenden Aaronson continued his momentum from his US appearances, starting for RB Salzburg and providing a beautiful assist in a 3-1 playoff win to get them one step closer to the league title.

Aside from European title races, several Americans played in decisive games this week in the competition for spots in next year’s Champions League.

In the English Premier League, Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea as they looked to solidify their hold on the fourth and final Champions League spot. Pulisic played well in the first half, creating a few dangerous chances, including a foul drawn on the edge of the box to set up a free kick. He was then on the spot to tap in the rebound on the ensuing free kick and put Chelsea up 1-0.

Unfortunately that is where the good news ended for Pulisic and Chelsea.

The American star was forced to leave the game at halftime with tightness in his hamstring and Chelsea collapsed in the second half, falling 5-2 to relegation bound West Bromwich. The loss is a bad one for Chelsea, but they remain two points ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham in the race for the last Champions League spot. They will need to shake it off quickly with a big Champions League quarterfinal against Porto looming this week.

In Germany, one American’s loss was another’s gain. Fifth place Borussia Dortmund was looking to gain ground when they took on fourth place Eintracht Frankfurt. Gio Reyna subbed on for the last ten minutes for Dortmund, but was unable to help them get the win they needed as they fell 2-1 on a late goal from Frankfurt. The loss dims their faint hopes of the Champions League next year, as they now sit seven points behind Frankfurt with just seven games remaining.

Benefiting from the Dortmund loss was US center back John Brooks and his Wolfsburg team. Brooks led the Wolfsburg defense in another clean sheet performance in a 1-0 win over Koln. The win maintains Wolfsburg’s third place position and coupled with the Dortmund loss puts them eleven points clear for the Champions League place, making them a near lock to be a part of next year’s competition.

Elsewhere around Europe, Daryl Dike started for Barnsley in games on both Friday and Monday and got a goal in the 2-1 win over Luton Town on Monday that keeps them in the promotion playoff picture. Chris Richards started in Hoffenheim’s 2-1 loss to Augsburg. Luca de la Torre started for Heracles in a 3-0 loss to PSV in the Dutch league. Sergino Dest was in the starting lineup for Barcelona’s Monday afternoon matchup with Real Valladolid which had not started at the time of writing.

The Champions League continues this Tuesday and Wednesday with the first legs of the quarterfinal round. Two of the remaining three Americans in the competition will see their teams face off on Tuesday when Gio Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund take on Manchester City and Zack Steffen. Steffen will be on the bench, backing up starter Ederson, while Reyna will likely see some playing time either as a starter or impact sub.

Dortmund will be missing star winger Jadon Sancho and they will need all the attacking power they can find against the dominant Manchester side. Man City continue to steamroll all competition as they come into the matchup nearly 7-1 favorites to advance. Led by midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and dynamic fullback Joao Cancelo they will be a big test for this inconsistent Dortmund team. Dortmund do feature the breakout player of the season, Erling Haaland, who has proven himself to be one of the top young talents in the world this season. He will need to come up big in this matchup for the German side to have any chance.

The other game on Tuesday is a true clash of the Titans and a rematch of the 2018 Champions League final, Real Madrid against Liverpool. Neither team has been quite their dominant selves this season, but both have a load of talent and have been in good form over the last few weeks.

Liverpool are the slight betting favorites to advance, coming off a comprehensive 3-0 win over Arsenal this weekend. The battle to watch in this one will be in the midfield where talented Liverpool duo, Thiago and Fabino come up against one of the top midfield trios in the game in Madrid’s Casemiro, Kroos and Modric. While Liverpool have been missing key center back Virgil Van Dijk all season, Real Madrid recently lost captain and star center back Sergio Ramos to an injury and will miss him in both legs. This could be the deciding factor as the Madrid defense is not nearly as stable without their captain.

Wednesday brings the matchup of the tournament thus far with a rematch of last year’s final between Bayern Munich and Paris St. Germain. Bayern Munich enter this game on a roll, coasting to their 9th straight Bundesliga title. While not quite at the peak form they were last year, the reigning champions are still one of the top teams in Europe and are favored to advance. PSG have not been as dominant this season and are in danger of failing to win the French league for the first time in four years.

However, they finally have stars Neymar and Mbappe fully healthy coming into this game. Meanwhile, Bayern will be without the top European scorer, Robert Lewandowski, who was injured during the international window for Poland and will likely miss both legs of this round. Stars Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller will need to pick up the slack for the Bavarian side in what should be the marquee matchup of the round.

The final matchup of the round involves American star Christian Pulisic and Chelsea against Portugues side Porto. Chelsea are fairly heavily favored to advance despite their 5-2 debacle over the weekend. Aside from that, they have been defensively stout under new manager Thomas Tuchel and have found goals when they need them. They can’t afford to take Porto lightly though, as Juventus learned the hard way in the last round.

Porto will aim to sit deep defensively and force Chelsea to attack them, hoping they can pounce on mistakes against the more talented English side. The approach has been successful thus far for Porto in the Champions League and it means that this matchup will likely be a low scoring affair that hinges on one or two key moments.

Pulisic will be a question mark for Wednesday’s game as it's unclear how serious his injury was on Sunday morning. He may have more of a chance to make an impact in the second leg the following week.

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Monday
April 5
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the 3 best words in sports -- "it's masters week"


If you follow me on Twitter (@itsahooded4iron) you already know my Masters "secret" by now.

I was going to pick Jordan Spieth to win this year's event -- which starts this Thursday -- in Wednesday's edition of #DMD. I had settled on Spieth a few weeks back, right after he fired and fell back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"The only way I won't pick him," I said to myself, "is if he wins the week before the Masters at the Texas Open."

Alas, Spieth did just that yesterday, posting a two shot victory for his first win in 83 tournaments. It had been the dry spell of all dry spells for the former #1 player in the world, but he has clearly found his game again.

Back in the winner's circle...four years later!

As I noted on Twitter late Sunday afternoon, Spieth's win in San Antonio was so popular amongst his fellow players and media members that I can only think of two other wins on TOUR that could have eclipsed it in terms of popularity or value; Tiger winning his 83rd career tournament or Rickie Fowler capturing that elusive first major of his career. Other than those two things happening in the world of professional golf, Spieth returning to the winner's circle is the circuit's most treasured moment these days.

So, now I'm in a quandry. I do still feel like Spieth can win this week at Augusta National. But it's so hard to win on successive weeks on the TOUR, let alone win a major championship as the second of the two victories in a row. It's just not as probable now, in my mind, as it would have been had Jordan not won yesterday.

We're down to the final 3 players in my Masters Top 10. I'll keep Spieth on the leaderboard, but he'll slide in at #3 today and I'll shake up my list a bit and come up with a new winner for Wednesday's edition. There are gobs of guys who can win the event and I do feel really good about four players in total. I love Spieth's chances this week and I'm really high on Collin Morikawa, as well.

Spieth's 2021 resurgence puts into motion a serious turn of events for U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker, who back in early February wouldn't have even remotely considered using one of his six "free picks" on Jordan Spieth. Now, despite being nowhere near the top 12 in points, Spieth has to be a consideration for Stricker, particularly if he wins another event between now and the end of August or -- gulp -- wins one of the four majors this year.

Ask yourself this: Who would you rather have face an 8 foot putt at Whistling Straits during the Sunday's singles matches that could decide the Ryder Cup -- Spieth or Tony Finau? Spieth or Kevin Kisner? Spieth or Matt Kuchar? Stricker will have six captain's picks to make and there's no doubt that yesterday's win in San Antonio has added Jordan Spieth's name to his list of considerations.

On a personal note, Spieth's triumph on Sunday helps coaches like me who continually reinforce to our young players how important it is to keep putting in the work. I used Spieth as an example with my own team a month or so ago when his game started to show legitimate signs of recovery after a few top 10 finishes.

"Jordan personifies the adage of 'stay in it'," I told my group of 12. "All he does every day is put in the work to figure out what it's going to take to get back to playing the type of golf he's capable of playing. No one gets better at golf by sitting on their couch."

Spieth did, indeed, "stay in it" for the better part of four years. His last win was in July of 2017 at the British Open. As he mentioned last night during an interview on The Golf Channel, he wasn't sure if he'd ever get back into the winner's circle. But he also never stopped trying.

"I never gave myself much time to worry about whether I could win again," Spieth said after Sunday's win. "Look, I obviously knew I wasn't playing well and I was definitely searching for something, but I knew if I just kept looking and kept working, eventually something would click. I never lost hope."

From a guy who couldn't win to a Masters favorite...all in about six weeks time. Spieth is in Augusta today renewed with confidence and ready to begin the climb back in the direction of the world's top ten. I counted him out before, but I won't count him out again.


You can't win all 162 unless you start 3-0. Am I right? Yes I am. And don't look now, but our Bawlmer Orioles are 3-0 to start the season after an impressive weekend sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

OK, yes, the Red Sox are lousy. I get it. But I'm not sure that matters one iota at this point. The Orioles were supposed to be lousy as well. So, to me, 3-0 is 3-0 is 3-0.

And it would be one thing if the Birds won the three games with their bats. That wouldn't be a total shock, given that pitching is likely going to be the team's weakness in 2021 and hitting could be a strength of sorts. But the O's won 2 of the 3 games over the weekend by pitching well. The bats got going in yesterday's 11-3 win, but overall, the 3-game sweep was far more about throwing the ball than hitting the ball.

I wrote in my season preview I thought the O's were going to be better than people think (thought) and I mentioned they were closer to a 70-win-team than a 50-win-team. I picked them smack dab in the middle of that equation at 60-102 -- and they very well might still win 60 games, of course -- but you can see the fruits of Mike Elias' labor starting to sprout.

If nothing else, this 2021 campaign is going to be interesting. There will be decisions made at some point on guys like Trey Mancini and John Means and, perhaps, even Maikel Franco, who could be a trade chip along with the other two if he hits with power in the first 80 games of the season. We all know one thing about Elias: he's not afraid to make a move -- any move, really -- that could possibly help the team win in 2022, 2023 or 2024. He's the chess player who moves his knight now because he wants to move his rook four moves down the road. He sees the board differently than the rest of us.

That's why the word of the season for the O's is "interesting". There's a plan in place, which is all anyone can really ask of Elias and his front office crew. How many wins that plan yields in 2021 is anyone's guess, but there will be moves made throughout the next six months that create discussion and discourse and keep the Orioles relevant during what we all assume will be another losing campaign.

Just because they're losing doesn't mean they're not growing. And, at this point, they still haven't lost a game that matters. If they come home from New York at 6-0 after a 3-game sweep of the Yankees, you can start really dreaming about that aforementioned 162-0 campaign.

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enter our 2021 masters contest!


You don't have to like golf to win our Masters contest! That's the best thing about it. Even better, if you do win or finish as one of the two runner ups, you'll get to enjoy a great meal at Glory Days Grill!

Similar to our March Madness contest, we'll let the computer do the work for this year's Masters contest here at #DMD.

Here are the entry details. We are taking entries only via Twitter. You must "follow" my Twitter account -- @itsahooded4iron -- and send a tweet to me with the words "Masters Contest" in the tweet. That's your entry.

On Wednesday evening, you'll receive four golfers. We have set up the computer to choose your four players as follows: Every one who enters receives one Masters champion from 2010 through 2020. The other three players are then chosen at random by the computer, except we have eliminated all players over the age of 50 except for two; Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. In other words, you won't be receiving Sandy Lyle or Ian Woosnam, both of whom are playing this week but have zero chance of winning.

Scoring works as follows: Your "total score" will be the cumulative total of your four players over the four days. If all four of your players make the cut and finish 2-under, 4-under, 6-under and 8-under par, your score will be 20-under par. If three of your players make the cut and finish 4-over par (missed cut), 2-under, 4 under and 6-under, your score will be 8-under par.

If your player fails to make the cut and shoots, say, 7 over par for two rounds, that's the score you count when compiling your scoring.

In the event of a tie for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place, the player with the lowest round breaks the tie. If that's tied, the player with the most birdies in Sunday's final round breaks that tie. Then on to Saturday if you're still tied, etc.

The winner gets a $100 gift card to Glory Days, 2nd place gets $75 and 3rd place gets $50.

Remember, you can only enter one time. Multiple entries will result in you being DQ'd. And no one wants to be DQ'd from the Masters.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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


consider this


I mentioned the 2009 North Carolina team coached by Roy Williams the other day in this space. I swear I had no idea that he’d up and retire a few hours after that.

You could argue that Williams only trails John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski in the pantheon of college basketball coaches, though he’d never put himself above Dean Smith, from whom he learned most of what it meant to be a coach, I assume.

The numbers are more than comparable with Smith, though. Dean was a head coach for 36 years, all at North Carolina, and won 879 games. Roy was a head coach for 33 years, 15 at Kansas and 18 at UNC, and won 903 games. Williams won three national championships as North Carolina’s coach, more than Smith did in twice as long a tenure in Chapel Hill.

Williams’ numbers in NCAA tournament games were staggering—nine Final Fours in 30 appearances. When the Tarheels lost to Wisconsin this year, it was the first time one of his teams had lost in the first round of the tournament. Maybe that alone was enough to make him think it was time to go.

From a basketball standpoint, as much he continued (and even surpassed) what Smith had done, he brought something new to the table. His North Carolina teams were in a hurry. They ran, whether you missed or made the shot on your end. At times, it might have looked like they were just out there playing without much discipline, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

They still looked like North Carolina—pushing for an easy fast-break basket first, then continuing on with the “secondary” break that Smith made so famous—but they did it at an incredible rate of speed. There was clearly a focus on great physical conditioning, something that most teams strive for but few actually achieve like his teams.

I’ll always remember Williams for a moment when he was still the Kansas coach, but had coached his final game with the Jayhawks. His team had just lost a tight national championship game to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse in 2003 when CBS reporter Bonnie Bernstein did the obligatory “losing coach” interview outside the locker room. Bernstein, being the good reporter she is, eventually asked Williams the obvious question about the open North Carolina job, one he’d turned down three years earlier.

Maybe he didn’t realize he was live on national television, or maybe he didn’t care. In that moment, all Williams could say was “I don’t give a sh** about North Carolina.” Classic stuff, and nothing the CBS production truck could do about it.

It was only a couple weeks later that Williams left Lawrence behind and headed back to Chapel Hill, where he’d been an assistant for 10 years. He did care about North Carolina—a lot—but I’ve always appreciated his sentiment from that difficult moment after losing the NCAA championship game. Right then, he really meant what he said.


A television executive named Stanley Ross once wrote an “open” to a broadcast that became a national catchphrase, thanks partly to the narration of Baltimore’s own Jim McKay. Sports brought you “the thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat.” Cue Slovenian ski jumper here…

That’s the thought that came to mind on Friday at the end of the NCAA tournament women’s semifinal between South Carolina and Stanford, a game in which I had no real interest besides the fact that it was on television.

The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat. In some games, they’re far apart. Maryland’s NCAA tournament loss to Alabama comes to mind. But not in this one…

Losing by one point, South Carolina had the ball in the final 30 seconds with a chance to win, only to needlessly throw the ball away. The Gamecocks then had to foul—twice—to put Stanford on the free-throw line. But the second foul attempt instead ended up as a clean steal. South Carolina had a fast break, only to miss a layup and then an easy putback as the buzzer expired.

The television production immediately flashed to the player who missed that putback, Aliyah Boston, a star player who is always noticeable anyway thanks to the multiple colors in her hair and her 6-foot-5 frame. Boston is 19 years old, and she was crying. And I could totally understand it.

The Gamecocks might have lost the game by seven after keeping it close most of the way. They might have lost by three after fouling and then two Stanford free throws and then having missed a decent three-point shot attempt at the buzzer. But Boston, who made the steal too, was about to turn a likely defeat into a certain victory, only to miss a shot she makes 95 percent of the time.

Women—playing sports and otherwise—get ridiculed for being too emotional. More than a few of them have been told to “be a man,” whatever that means. High-level athletes of both sexes are usually taught to keep an even keel, and to react to every situation as if they’ve seen it before and will see it again. You’re going to miss a lot of shots, no matter when they are in the game, so you better not act out every time you do.

This time, though, I could really feel the incredible swing between sure victory and sure defeat. I doubt that Boston, who certainly has made plays at the end of many games to help her team win, had ever been in that exact situation.

She couldn’t believe what happened. Stanford couldn’t believe that they’d almost thrown the game away when all the other team was trying to do was foul. The announcers went almost silent for a few moments.

The thrill of victory…and the agony of defeat. They sometimes are only seconds apart, and often what you’d assume is going to be one of them turns out to be the other.


And speaking of the thrill of victory, we had been waiting for an NCAA tournament game that came even close to Duke-Kentucky in 1992, the 104-103 Duke victory in Philadelphia that came thanks to Grant Hill’s long pass and Christian Laettner’s jump shot.

And we got it. UCLA-Gonzaga was the one. Considering Saturday’s game was in the Final Four and that famous game 29 years ago was in the regional final, this one may have been even better.

Gonzaga’s 93-90 overtime victory at the very least should be considered the best game in the history of the Final Four, and there have been lots of great ones, including Kris Jenkins’ game winner for Villanova in the title game against North Carolina five years ago.

There are some interesting similarities between the Gonzaga-UCLA game and that Kentucky-Duke game at the now-demolished Spectrum. Here’s one—UCLA and Kentucky are two of most successful programs in history, yet in each case here they were significant underdogs. Turns out UCLA coach Mick Cronin once worked as an assistant coach for the Kentucky coach at the time, Rick Pitino, though they worked together at Louisville years later.

Their opponents were also in somewhat similar situations. Duke wasn’t undefeated like Gonzaga but was trying to win consecutive national championships, and had been the prohibitive favorite to win it all since the beginning of the season.

The games themselves were both of the highest-quality offensively, though not exactly the same. 29 years ago, Kentucky had to come back from a big second-half deficit to send the game to overtime. Saturday night, neither team led by more than seven points.

Some questions come out of Saturday’s instant classic. How did UCLA lose nine games before the NCAA tournament, including four straight entering the tourney? Sure, those four losses came against four other NCAA tournament teams—Colorado, Oregon, USC and Oregon State, but still...

Can Gonzaga play the same way it did on Saturday and beat Baylor today? How did Kentucky (which finished 9-16 this season) let Johnny Juzang get away? Would the game have been even better if there were 70,000 people watching in person, as there typically would be, or was it better in 2021’s quainter atmosphere?

The biggest question now, of course, is whether Baylor can be the team that derails Gonzaga’s perfect season. The Bears might have done that a long time ago—a scheduled game between the two teams was cancelled earlier this season—but now they have the chance on the biggest stage.

On paper, this is the best matchup in recent history in the title game. Gonzaga is 62-2 the past two seasons, while Baylor is 53-6. Were it not for a COVID-related pause that could have easily derailed Baylor’s whole season, this could be a matchup of two undefeated teams.

Something tells me that, after experiencing what it did on Saturday, Mark Few’s team isn’t going to let its undefeated season get away. If that does happen, it certainly won’t be a big upset.

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Sunday
April 4
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#2414


happy easter!


The most amazing part about the Easter weekend, for me, is that Jesus prophesized the entire three days. The more I read and understand his crucifixion and resurrection, the more impressed I am at how he knew everything that was going to happen, allowed it to happen, and then rose from the dead just as he told his disciples he would.

During the last supper he told the group of 12 men seated with him at the table that one of them would betray him and hand him over to the ruler of the land. He then mentioned he knew precisely which one of them would do it, and yet, he still washed Judas' feet and fed him bread. I wonder how many of us would be capable of doing the same thing to our archest-of-enemies?

And, as he knew all along, Jesus then left the tomb on Sunday, fully risen and alive yet again.

The story of "doubting Thomas" completes the death-to-life event. Jesus would appear throughout the village over the next 40 days, ministering to those he knew, including his disciples and his mother, Mary. At one point, Thomas, a non-believer, said he wouldn't believe Jesus was once again living unless he saw him with the holes in his hands and feet from being nailed to the cross.

John 20:24-29 says:

(24) Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. (25) So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

(26) A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

(28) Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

(29) Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Today, throughout our world, there are people just like doubting Thomas. Because they can't see, they don't believe. They are your co-workers, your friends, your neighbors. You, if we're being honest, might be one of those in doubt.

But blessed are those who have not yet seen and yet have believed.

Happy Easter to all of you. Jesus is, indeed, alive and well. Very alive and very well, in fact.


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sunday notes


You can't win all 162 of them unless you win the first two and that's precisely what the Orioles have done in Boston thus far in 2021. The Birds are 2-0 after Saturday's 4-2 win, which featured a competent outing from once-promising-right-hander Matt Harvey (4.2 IP, 2 earned runs, 4 K's, 1 BB) and solid bullpen work from Plutko, Tate and Valdez.

"I like the way we've battled in the first two games," says O's skipper Brandon Hyde.

"No reason to get excited", as we heard in the great song All Along The Watchtower...

But 2-0 is 2-0 and what we assumed would be the O's downfall in 2021 -- pitching -- has been their saving grace thus far. Cedric Mullins and Pedro Severino are both hitting .500 and everyone else is...well...not hitting. Two games. Two games. I keep reminding myself of that when I marvel at well the Orioles have pitched thus far at Fenway.

I'm one of those guys who thinks this about sports: It's always better to win than lose. I realize that's the dumb statement of the day, but there are people, even this year, who want the Orioles to lose so they can snag an outstanding college pitcher with the first or second pick in the MLB Draft later this summer. No, no, no.

You win when you can win. If the Orioles can win 73 games this season, it's better than winning 63. So, keep winning, team.


The term "instant classic" in sports is oft-overused, mainly because we're anxious to label a game as such so we can say "I saw it happen!"

But Saturday night's Gonzaga-UCLA college hoops semifinal was beyond an instant classic. It will go down as one of the most memorable big-time sports contests of our lifetime. It was that freakin' good.

This wasn't a typical 69-66 college game that featured some good play, some shoddy play and a buzzer beater. This was both teams playing at an extraordinarily high level, shooting 58% from the field and taking one another's best punch and getting up off the floor to answer the call time and time again.

That Jalen Suggs' 40-footer banked in to win the game for Gonzaga, 93-90 in overtime, is just part of the story. The win not only kept the Bulldogs' title hopes alive, it moved them to 31-0 on the season. Only once in 2020-2021 has Gonzaga experienced anything remotely close to a "tough game". Every single win except for one -- vs. West Virginia, a 5-point victory in December -- was a double-digit victory. So the question looming in the post-season was the obvious one: "How will Gonzaga react if they're pushed to the brink?"

The answer is also obvious this morning: "They'll push back. Hard."

The only team left standing between Gonzaga and history? Baylor, another #1 seed, who dismantled Houston in Saturday's other semifinal. Fittingly, these two teams were supposed to meet back on December 5 but the game was canceled due to Covid-19. So, now, they'll get together on Monday night with something meaningful on the line. It's hard to imagine the game tomorrow night can be better than the one we saw last night, but I think we're all going to watch just in case, right?


Jordan Spieth is "there" again. It's becoming old hat lately for the 3-time major champion.

For the 4th time in his last 7 events, Spieth has a chance to once again enter the winner's circle, as he shares the 54 hole lead at the Texas Open with a score of 12 under par. Spieth's back nine on Saturday was remarkable, as he carded a 5-under 31 after spending most of the day four or five shots off the pace.

He starts today's final round in a tie with Englishman Matt Wallace. Charley Hoffman is two shots behind after a back nine rally of his own.

A win for Spieth would be his first since mid-July, 2017, when he captured the British Open in a nailbiter over Matt Kuchar. Since then, swing issues and putting woes have dropped the former University of Texas star all the way down to 100th in the world rankings. But something clicked earlier in 2021 and Spieth is looking more like a 3-time major champion with each passing tournament.

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masters top 10


Cue the music, it's here.

The 2021 Masters is on the horizon. This year's event will take place April 8-11 at Augusta National Golf Club. The defending champion is Dustin Johnson, who won the oddly-placed 2020 Masters in November. The last time they played the Masters in April was 2019 and, well, a guy in black pants and a red shirt won the event for the 5th time.

Jon Rahm is looking for his first major victory and his short history at Augusta National says this year's Masters could be a special one for the Spaniard.

This year's tournament is one of the most anticipated of the last decade. Even without Tiger Woods, there are countless storylines that create interest and excitement. Can Rory McIlroy finally win a green jacket and complete the career grand slam? Is Justin Thomas ready to break through and establish himself as a dominant world player a few weeks after winning the Player's Championship? Can Patrick Reed capture his 2nd career Masters title? Is Dustin Johnson going to win twice in six months at Augusta?

We'll go through our top 10 here and feature a different player on our mythical leaderboard until we reveal the winner on Wednesday, April 7.

#10 was Kevin Kisner. #9 was Tony Finau. #8 was Dylan Frittelli. #7 was Collin Morikawa. #6 was Paul Casey. #5 was Louis Oosthuizen.

#4, Jon Rahm -- If ever someone had the "look" of a multiple-occasion winner at Augusta National, it's Jon Rahm. The 26-year old Arizona State product has played the event four times in his career and he's finished T27, 4, T9 and T7. That's called "knocking on the door", friends.

We think his chances of busting through the door are great in 2021.

Spanish-born players have had remarkable success at Augusta National, most recently with Sergio Garcia winning in 2017. Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros both won two green jackets and Rahm, honestly, could win more than two. His complete game, tee-to-green, rivals all three of his fellow countrymen.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.

Josh     May 07
Bowling for me. League bowling is awesome, especially if there’s a team in your league that you don’t like! Way different than “Rock n Bowl”...

Rick     May 07
I played Little League as a kid for a few years, and soccer for a few years too. The one thing I played the most and stuck with was duckpin bowling, as I grew up around the corner from the Patterson bowling alley.

Billy     May 07
Great read by David today. The media always seems to slurp Rodgers but to me he's always seemed like a bit of a jerk

Jason M     May 06
John Means Business! Not to bad for a guy that was considering hanging up the cleats a few years ago. Good on Ya John, perhaps a nice ray of sunshine from Ray Miller? RIP Ray.

David Rosenfeld     May 06
We've talked many times about baseball traditions here at #DMD. Unwritten rules, etc. Many of them are ridiculous. Honestly, I find the superstitions about no-hitters to be great. I also find it sort of respectful of broadcasters to follow the rules of the dugout, where they avoid the pitcher and his ongoing no-hitter like the plague.

It's 2021. We're all going to get our ESPN notifications and Tweets. I think it's fun that the old tradition still exists to a degree.

Congrats to John Means. Watched the last few innings of the game and his stuff was just nasty.

TimD in Timonium     May 06
Means didn't have a great Spring, I think I called it "concerning," but he's shown nothing but excellence since the opener in Boston. Is there a better pitcher in the AL at this point? I agree, @DF, keep him as the staff ace for years to come.

unitastoberry     May 06
So glad it wasn't April or they would have pulled Means in the 7th. Thank goodness for May.Tommy Phoebus and Jim Palmer approve of this.

unitastoberry     May 05
I just watched the interview with Alejandro Villanueva on the Ravens website. I probably have heard a thousand plus of these type welcome to the team interviews in my life. I don't think I have ever heard a guy speak more eloquenty about football and life than this guy. He's like Bill Curry on steroids. O lineman need to be smart and play under control not like D lineman. He will fit in and do well imo if he stays healthy. The fact he had a handshake agreement for 2 weeks and didn't go running around to some other team or even back to Pittsburg is admirable. I'm liking what EDC and staff are doing more and more daily.You get rid of guys who don't want to be here, the dead wood, and you have a plan for the future at the same time. Fluker pulled one over on them last year in FA....not this guy.

JOHN     May 05
Game analysis. The pitcher was pretty good.

table class="dmdtable2">Saturday
April 3r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2413

it's a slippery slope...sports


Major League Baseball announced yesterday they will move this year's All-Star Game from the city of Atlanta in response to the recently-passed Georgia voting law that some say restricts voting access for people of color.

The decision by Major League Baseball comes after several days of pressure from players, owners and voting rights organizers. A new location for this year's mid-summer classic will be announced shortly.

"Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views," Manfred said in his statement. "I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year's All-Star Game and MLB Draft."

Late last week several organizations in the U.S. attempted to apply similar pressure to the organizers of next week's Masters tournament, but the event is going on as scheduled.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Friday this year's All-Star Game will be moved out of Atlanta in the wake of Georgia law SB202.

There will be other future events either moved from Georgia or simply not held there, you can bet on that. Concerts, festivals, national sporting games, etc., will also fall to the outside pressures that are applied in circumstances like these.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law last week a sweeping, Republican-sponsored bill that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. The bill, which also prohibits volunteers from distributing food and water for voters waiting in line, was finalized on March 25.

The new voting law, SB202, came in the wake of the first Democratic victories in presidential and Senate elections in Georgia in a generation, which triggered repeated unproven assertions by former President Trump that the state's election was fraudulent. Supporters of the new law have said it merely ensures election integrity and stamps out potential fraud, while critics have described it as a voter-suppression tactic that would make it more difficult for minorities, particularly people of color, to vote, citing how it reduces ballot access in urban communities that lean Democrat.

It's indeed a slippery slope when sports teams, colleges, and leagues start intentionally "siding" with one side of the political ledger. Whether they're on our personal side of the political spectrum is always what makes the argument work or fail, obviously. In the case of SB202, Major League Baseball is clearly leaning on the side of the Democratic party. If you're a Democrat, you applaud their decision. If you're a Republican, you side with the folks who run the Masters, who are obviously not going to cave in to the pressure of moving their prestigious golf tournament in response to a state-passed law.

Me? I don't "lean" in either direction on this particular issue, other than to say I think the number one goal of any election, for any office, local or national, is to ensure the election is, indeed, "fair". I'm not suggesting at all that I believe the Georgia Senate race was "unfair" and I'm not suggesting that the results from the presidential election in Georgia were "unfair".

I do know, though, that one of our country's hidden philosophies has always been, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Our nation has been built, in some ways, on that very statement. We're hard working people. And I'm not naive enough to believe that it's entirely impossible for an election -- on any level -- to be tainted in some way.

Again, I'm not suggesting any election in 2020 was tainted, but I'm certainly not going to say it was impossible that some results, somewhere, weren't on the up and up. Anyone suggesting that our country (or another country) isn't sophisticated enough to manipulate election results hasn't been paying attention over the last decade or so.

We here in the U.S. will do anything to win, whether that's in business, politics or sports. We'll bring up people's past, we'll trample on their character, we'll go out of our way to humiliate someone for the sake of winning. We'll even occasionally spread false testimony about people...all in an effort to get our way.

So...what I am saying is that all elections should be fair and any rules, regulations or laws that are created should at their very core be centered on making sure the election results are correct, fair, and not tainted or contrived in any way.

I haven't read up nearly enough on Georgia law SB202 to know the merits of it, but any law that helps to guarantee an election is fair seems reasonable to me. I suppose those opposed to the law would abide by the old theory of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and I can see the legitimacy in that argument as well. That said, just because a previous election hasn't been fraudulent doesn't mean we shouldn't be working hard -- as a government -- to ensure that future elections don't become fraudulent.

On a personal note...and this has nothing at all, really, to do with SB202, I'm amazed at our voting process and how, in 2021, we still haven't refined it to an almost flawless practice. That we have arguments and debates about the mail-in process is embarrassing. That we can't do elections totally online in 2021 and work to ensure those results can't be altered or changed is laughable. We can send a rocket to Mars and relay information and pictures back to our country but we can't get the election process right? Seems backwards to me.

I was beyond stunned in November when I went to vote and took my driver's license out upon presentation at the information table and the volunteer put his arms and hands out and said, "No, no, no. I do not need to see your I.D. Please put that away."

He then asked me for my personal information, which I gave him. Here's the odd thing. I also happen to know several of my close friends' full names, political affiliations, home addresses and birthdays. Unless they had previously voted, there would have been nothing stopping me from going to several different voting locations and giving their information to the voting volunteer and voting in their name.

I'm not naive in the least. I realize me going to a voting location and voting in the name of Brian Hubbard or Dale Williams, to name two, wouldn't have swayed the election in any way. I'm merely pointing out a flaw in the process itself. If I don't have to present a piece of identification at the polling location, how on earth does anyone there know who I am...really?

My small blip-on-the-radar-screen story from Towson, MD has nothing at all to do with SB202 in the state of Georgia, but it does speak to a bigger issue in our country. Why are we concerned about "offending" someone once every four years during the most important process our country goes through? If I'm offended by the fact that my identity needs to be confirmed before I'm allowed to vote, that seems like a personal problem. But I digress...

I don't care one way or the other that the All-Star Game won't be played in Atlanta this summer. Heck, maybe they'll move the event to Baltimore and we'll reap the benefits of yesterday's decision by Major League Baseball.

But these slippery slope decisions by teams and leagues are interesting, indeed. If I were all of them, I'd be very careful. They might wind up -- wait for it -- offending someone in the process of trying to do what they consider to be the right thing.

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masters top 10


Cue the music, it's here.

The 2021 Masters is on the horizon. This year's event will take place April 8-11 at Augusta National Golf Club. The defending champion is Dustin Johnson, who won the oddly-placed 2020 Masters in November. The last time they played the Masters in April was 2019 and, well, a guy in black pants and a red shirt won the event for the 5th time.

A win at Augusta National would be well deserved for Paul Casey, who has had an exemplary career on the European Tour.

This year's tournament is one of the most anticipated of the last decade. Even without Tiger Woods, there are countless storylines that create interest and excitement. Can Rory McIlroy finally win a green jacket and complete the career grand slam? Is Justin Thomas ready to break through and establish himself as a dominant world player a few weeks after winning the Player's Championship? Can Patrick Reed capture his 2nd career Masters title? Is Dustin Johnson going to win twice in six months at Augusta?

We'll go through our top 10 here and feature a different player on our mythical leaderboard until we reveal the winner on Wednesday, April 7.

#10 was Kevin Kisner. #9 was Tony Finau. #8 was Dylan Frittelli. #7 was Collin Morikawa.

Editor's note: We skipped our Masters Top 10 on Friday, so today's edition features our #6 and #5 players.

#6, Paul Casey -- It might wind up that Paul Casey turns out to mirror the career of someone like Colin Montgomerie or fellow Englishman Lee Westwood. Caesy could fail to win a major championship, just like those two, despite having "the goods" to be a major champion multiple times over.

I love Casey's chances next week at Augusta National. He has five top 10 finishes at the Masters since 2004 and, despite last November's T38 finish, he shared the first round lead with an opening tour of 65 (7 under par). Casey's game is perfect for Augusta National. He's not overly long off the tee, which is fine, but his iron game is precise and he's a deft chipper of the ball, which comes in very handy at the Masters.

Casey went three straight years on the top of the leaderboard, finishing T6 (2015), T4 (2016) and solo 6th (2017). I suspsect there's a really good chance we'll see him on the leaderboard next week. And I wouldn't be shocked in the least to see PAUL CASEY, 2021 MASTERS CHAMPION, on the CBS broadcast next Sunday night.

#5, Louis Oosthuizen -- The sweet-swinging South African hasn't posted a decent Masters finish since losing to Bubba Watson in a playoff back in 2012, but he's made every cut but one since '12 and is seemingly one of those guys who always does something flashy over a couple of rounds at the Masters before falling off.

I'm thinking that perhaps this year is the occasion where he he hangs around for more than one round. I'm thinking this could be the year Oosthuizen wins the Masters.

The biggest knock on the 38 year old South African is his spotty putting. But it was once good enough to blitz the field at the British Open and he almost won in 2012 at Augusta National. As I always say about PGA Tour players -- "There are no bad putters on TOUr. You're either a great putter or a good putter. Louis is a good putter. But on any given week, he can roll the rock as good as anyone out there.

Don't be surprised to see a green jacket on Oosty's shoulders next Sunday night.

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#dmd comments








Marty O’     May 09
The O’s are working with the under-achieving snarky administration residing @ 100 Holliday St to set policy. You don’t think for one second that attendance policy will be based in logic or reality???? It’s based on the premise that doing the opposite of state @ national recommendations keeps the Woke crowd content as the over-matched mayor seeks the next political office. Everyone that follows local sports knows the owners political leanings are hard left and maybe enough so to choose ideology overs fans in seats...

Kevin     May 09
I agree with @DR, what's to analyze? Can't wait to get down to Bowie for a glimpse of the future, when analysis can commence again.

DR     May 09
Carter must be new here. "Analysis" of the O's isn't allowed this season.

Carter     May 09
O's lose again. SMH.



This team sucks at the the plate.



Can't wait to read Drew's "analysis" tomorrow. Like putting lipstick on a pig.

Billy     May 09
Some day people will understand "paid attendance" smh.

Actually Kyle Bradish showing some promise but let's not let facts get in the way of group think hate.

And how about that Bob Baffert? Any retractions from the Baffert is The Man crowd???

Dave Caper     May 09
Orioles are probably afraid to increase the crowd size because 8K when there are 22K seats up for sale is lame. I went on Friday night vs. Boston. They announced 7,800 but they must have been counting fingers because there's no way 7,800 were there!



If they keep on selling 11,000 tickets they don't look bad when only 7,800 show up on a Fri night against their arch rival!



Once they increase it to 22,000 they will really be exposed!

J.C.     May 09
@CJ, they got 4 minor league pitchers in exchange for Bundy, none of which are ever going to amount to anything. But Bundy needed to go. He had given up in Baltimore.

CJ     May 09
Speaking of D. Bundy, what did the Orioles get for him in return?



How's that trade working out for us?

Miles     May 09
I agree it seems weird to still only be allowing 11,400 in Camden Yards. How long are we going to do this in Baltimore?

DR     May 09
Not to incite @Barry Holtby but I'm pretty sure @Drew said he wouldn't be comfortable sitting in the stands with 70,000 other football fans. Big difference between that and relaxing Covid seating restrictions. But keep up your snark it's what you do best.

lou@palo alto     May 09
in '66, i went to 42 games but not that one tho i still remember Tiant who came in hot; my senior yr at City, we got out at noon--amazing gift to hv that season then!

George     May 09
@UnitasToBerry -- Great memories. Frank knocked down by a pitch. Gets up and dusts himself off and knocks the very next pitch into the stands. Probably happened five times but it seems like 50.

JC     May 09
@JEFWEL Ain't that the truth.

Where are all those "fans" beating up the O's for "trading Bundy" now??? No worries, they can shift the snark to Gausman, always something to moan about. Just ask the guy "down the dial", he still tweets "they are not even trying to win games". Guess the concept of a rebuild eludes this lifelong "my fake cousin is in HoF" baseball fan.

The most important note outside the Wiz winning that game last night was Beal got hurt late, could not even play the OT. Just like the Caps and Ovi, if Beal is out, Wiz be toast.


Barry Holtby     May 09
Someone must have hit Drew in the head with a golf ball. A few months ago he was saying he wouldn’t be comfortable sitting in a stadium with other fans. Now, he’s snarky about the restricted fans rule. (Eye roll) which one is it?

unitastoberry     May 09
@MFC....close to 50000 people in Baltimore in 1966 at the house Unitas built. That's quite a bit for a no giveaway game and non playoff game. It was a real doubleheader scheduled and 2 games for 1 price. I know the legend has grown over the years but I will take a lie detector test. I was there. A bright bushy eyed 9yr old kid with my Oriole hat on and little league glove for foul balls.

MFC     May 09
I know there are now 200,000 say they were there for Franks homer on Mothers Day but I was there, lower box, first base side. My mother took my grandmother along with my brother. What a great memory I have of this day.

Jeffwel     May 09
Has anyone else noticed that foul smell coming from somewhere on this website?

I think it's from the dead horse that Drew keeps beating.

When do the OTA's start, anyway?

unitastoberry     May 09
Mothers Day 1966. Doubleheader with Indians. Luis Tiant makes Frank Robinson look bad in his first at bat. Next at bat he sends a baseball an estimated 540 feet out of Memorial Stadium into the parking lot fair. I saw the entire trajectory of the ball because we had seats upperdeck behind the plate. People on the 3rd base side could not see the ball exit over the bleacher seats they used to call Birdland. There is no film or video that I know of of this super human feat. No steroids or human growth hormone just a 6 ft 1 inch about 200 lb man with a swing from heaven. There was close to 50000 fans there who went bonkers. At first there was a ooooha type sound then insanity for I would say 5-6 minutes. It did not end until Frank did a curtain call from the dugout. My uncle Marty was with my dad and two cousins plus me. My uncle was in his 60s and lived in NYC. His first comment to my dad was... I never saw the Babe it hit out of Yankee Stadium.



Moral- Don't ever show up Frank Robinson at the plate and expect to get away with it. RIP Mom and all the other mothers no longer with us and of course Frank.

Josh     May 09
Tom Saguto is the man! I couldn’t play golf at all before watching his videos (shanking everything except the driver). He does a great job getting you to focus on one or two simple swing thoughts

KJ     May 08
Miley is not a stiff but definitely "just a guy". Sort of takes the shine off the Means no no, but Means has plenty of legit stats outside the fluke no no to show he is on track to not be "just a guy". Will be interesting to see what Elias decides to do re: Means.

Season projections based on performance as of May 7 never end well BTW.

James     May 08
I agree that the O's look like a team that could win 70-75 games but there's a lot of baseball left. Thanks for the "analysis" today. Good to see you're back at it.

Mark in Perry Hall     May 08
All kidding aside I'm hoping to see some Capitals playoff analysis from you this week. They aren't saying much about Ovi's injury but we all know if he can't go the Caps are done. Are you hearing anything? Boston looks the best to me but I wouldn't rule out the Islanders.

unitastoberry     May 08
Wade Miley threw a no no lmao. Guy was a stiff here.

J.J.     May 08
It had to drive you nuts to see the Flyers beat the Caps in an important game last night!

Love the O's but agree with Kennedy and others. The bullpen will implode at some point and we're destined for another 60 win season at best.



Are your golf playoffs a best of 3 or just one game winner take all? Either way good luck on Monday vs. The Dons!

Kennedy     May 08
Don't flatter the O's too much Drew. They're going to be a 65 win team by the end of the season. Their bullpen will never hold up.

WJB     May 08
Good article today. I agree with you the O's are going to be a surprise in the East. Not in the playoffs or anything but better than everyone expected.



When will the stadium open up and more than 10,000 people be allowed in? Any news on that?



I didn't realize until a few days ago the Blue Jays aren't playing in Toronto. Any update on their status for the season? Will they be able to play in Canada?

Steve in Hunt Valley     May 08
A few predictions based on the first 20% of the season.

Orioles finish with 70 wins.

Tigers won't win 52 games.

Angels finish last, trade Trout in the off-season.

Dodgers don't make the playoffs at all.

Cardinals go to World Series in NL.

Paul T.     May 08
Hey DF, as a Red Sox fan thanks for the love for J.D.

He is having a great start as you noted. I don't see this continuing for much longer but it's good to see the Red Sox playing well to start the season. I'm sure the Yankees will be on top soon.

JK     May 08
Didn't realize De Grom had a 0.57 WHIP. That's roughly 5 base runners per-9 innings!!!

Jeffwell     May 08
@DF Regarding your Orioles analysis, I guess thin skin is better than no skin at all.

Steve of Pimlico     May 08
Wade Miley a true journeyman pitcher throws a no no last night.Mediocre would be kind describing his O's career.The wonder of sports,you never know when you'll see something remarkable.

Garry M     May 07
This is a quality article, and the kind of stuff that has made DMD a must read.

Rob Marvel was just one of those guys who was a natural athlete. Not big, but had great instincts. And I'd guess that if he lives another 30 years[he is in great shape] he and his bride will hold the world record for length of marriage. I think he has been married for about 50 years already and he isn't 60 yet.

I played club lacrosse with Paul Woody. He picked up some weight in his twenties....other guys would say "When he sits around the crease, he SITS AROUND[entire] the CREASE. A good egg.



I read that the baseball coach retired a couple of years back. A long timer at GBHS. And a nice guy.




Carmen     May 07
Go Hall! Good luck in the playoffs Drewski!

K.P.     May 07
7 sports for me as well. Swimming, volleyball (both in high school), L.L baseball, football (hated it), basketball, soccer and gymnastics (one year in college). Swimming and gymnastics were my faves. Still swim 3x a week. Thanks for the story today it was fun to take a trip down my memory lane.

Tom     May 07
@DF

I saw the article on Varsity Sports about the playoffs for MIAA golf. Good luck to you and the Cardinals against the Dons next week!

lou@palo alto     May 07
baseball rd-12 grade; golf in HS &4 yrs div 3 open course; 2 yrs touch football college--finals both yrs amounts 50 teams; bowling church league in middle school; softball-church league HS; squash 10 yrs Boston--all fun. only golf still--maybe 100 tourneys over the yrs w 7 wins n played in NY state am--none last decade or so but still play avidly

BO     May 07
Good article today Drew. I was under the 4.6 average. Played 8 years of baseball, 7 years of football and 7 years of basketball. Never kicked a soccer ball. Played golf later in life but never competitively.

CJ     May 07
I played 5 sports "full time" basically. Basketball (my best), soccer, baseball, football and lacrosse. I gave up lacrosse after 2 years. Too much politics for me and my family. Wound up playing DIII hoops in New York and loved every minute of it. Great education and great sports memories.

DF     May 07
5/7/21 - 10:00 am

@Brian Jessup, Thanks for the note. I also like constructive criticism. I hand it out, privately, to my golfers every day during the season. If you -- or anyone else, for that matter -- has constructive criticism for me, I'd love to receive it. My email is: 18inarow@gmail.com

As for you "liking the banter", that's great. The problem is...I don't like it. I prefer the commentary here be reasonably good natured. When I see something that isn't good natured, I don't like it. You don't have to agree with that philosophy but that's my goal for the comments section. Come in, have your say, and try not to offend people. I enjoy having decent people contributing to the website.

That said, I encourage you to build your own website and your own platform. If you build your own website, you can then oversee the "banter" to your liking.


Pratt     May 07
@UNITASTOBERRY - Well said. Our son is learning these lessons now. Academically he is extremely strong and accomplished. However, as parents we see many valuable lessons learned in his 'team environments' that can never be taught any other way.

unitastoberry     May 07
I played high school football and track maily field events. I used track to stay in shape for football and be able to use the weight room. I earned a starting spot on jv and v football.Best thing I have ever done to this day. I was not big enough or fast enough to play college ball. I was not going to play Rudy either although a teammate of mine walked on at U of M and was Rudy there. He got a job after graduating with Carl Peterson and the Baltimore Stars then on to KC Chiefs then to Dallas in the front office since Jerrah bought the team. I used to carry him up hills during two a days.Football lessons and friends can fuel a mans life. Best sport on Earth.