Sunday
July 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 23
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duquette says o's are buying at deadline


I doubt anyone in Baltimore is seriously surprised to hear Dan Duquette's comments from a Saturday "meet and greet" with Orioles fans at Camden Yards.

I'm sure not.

Paraphrasing here, Duquette said the Orioles are going to try and add some quality to their roster this coming week. He added that he believes the Birds aren't out of the playoff race yet and thus, making a move or two to improve the team could enhance the club's chances of making the post-season in 2017.

Look, there's a chance -- a slim one, I'd say -- that Duquette might be right. If the Orioles could add a good pitcher or two in the next week, perhaps they could make a run at 88 wins and sneak into the playoffs.

But there's a far better chance of the O's not being able to produce a post-season run this year. Last night's 8-4 loss to the Astros puts the Orioles at 46-51. To reach 88 wins, they need to go 42-23 from here on in. Even if the second wild card team gets in with 86 wins, that would still require the Birds to post a 40-25 mark over the remainder of the season.

I'm not sure what Duquette sees that the rest of us don't see. I admire his confidence, or, maybe it's more grit than confidence, but I just don't understand how the team's GM looks at the club in its current state and believes in his heart they're capable of going 40-25 over the last 65 games. And one or two pitchers aren't going to alter the club's "current state", in case that's what you're thinking.

My guess on this is that Duquette received some internal pressure from the veteran players not to give up the ship with two months left in the season. Even last night, when the O's erased a 1-0 deficit with a 4-run fifth inning, you could see the joy in the dugout as the players reveled in 2-run homers from Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop. They're having fun, still, despite the team's losing record through two-thirds of the season.

I can certainly understand where the likes of Jones, Schoop, Davis, Trumbo, etc. wouldn't want to play out the string over the last 60-or-so games. If you think losing in May or June is dreadful, imagine what it's like to get clobbered three out of five games in August when there's nothing at all to play for except your bubblegum card.

That said, it's the players' job to play. They're not there to run the club. And even though it might be hard to tell Adam Jones you're breaking up the team and essentially throwing in the towel on the 2017 campaign, it's something you have to do occasionally in order to re-boot the system and prepare for the next five years or more.

Here's the other funny thing: For years, Orioles fans were clamoring for a winner, having endured awful baseball from 1998 through 2011. Once the laughingstock of the league, the Birds spent more than a decade as an afterthought in the American League East. Their fan base deserved better. And in 2012, the O's gave it to them.

You'd think at this point, the baseball fans and ticket buyers in Baltimore would be spoiled to the point where they'd reject an intentional white-flag-waving at the trade deadline. The Orioles have, after all, won more games than any other American League team over the last five seasons, albeit without a trip to the World Series to show for it.

Instead of demanding the team buy, buy, buy at the trade deadline and make yet another run at a deep playoff run, most of the knowledgeable baseball fans in town are more than OK with the team shipping off some veteran players at the deadline in return for a handful of high quality prospects who can become the Trey Mancini's of the future in Baltimore.

Not that Duquette should use the fan's opinions as the barometer for his decision(s), but there aren't many people in town who would scream to the heavens if the O's went into "sell mode" this coming week. People get it. This organization is flawed, not just at the major league level, but in the farm system as well. When you get a chance to improve your minor league offerings with a few well-thought-out trades -- also known as "fleecing" -- you bite the bullet and do it.

There have also been several well-respected and prominent national baseball writers who have suggested recently that the O's "sell" at the deadline. That's not the only reason the O's should do it, of course, but it doesn't hurt to have a couple of people of stature supporting the thought that the time has come for your organization to start re-tooling with an eye to the future.

Duquette, instead, says the O's are going to buying, not selling.

It doesn't make much sense to me.

Maybe they'll get beat by the Astros today and lose five of six at Tampa Bay and Texas this week and Duquette will scramble as the deadline approaches and trade the likes of Britton, O'Day and Smith and get something decent in return. That seems a longshot at this point given what Duquette said on Saturday, but if the O's are, in fact, 47-57 by next weekend, the writing on the wall should be enough to pressure the GM into a change of heart.

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spieth has a shot at “tiger history" today


Winning major golf titles is important.

But when you’re a 23-year old kid in 2017, doing something on the golf course that Tiger Woods never managed to do is a very worthy accomplishment.

Jordan Spieth has that opportunity today at Royal Birkdale. If Spieth holds on to his 3-shot lead heading into the final round, he’ll become just the second player to have won three major titles before his 24th birthday.

Jack Nicklaus did it.

Tiger Woods didn’t do it.

In his early 20’s, Woods made it a point to try and beat any Nicklaus record put before him. The biggest challenge of all, Jack’s 18 major titles, would have been easily erased had Tiger been able to stay healthy and had his personal life not dissolved.

Nicklaus was Tiger’s main model of comparison.

For Spieth, he grew up wanting to win golf tournaments in the same way Woods won them. Tiger is to Spieth what Nicklaus was to Woods. And today at Royal Birkdale, Spieth can do something Tiger never managed to do.

But he has to finish the job today, much like he finished Saturday’s third round with a birdie at the 15th and 18th holes to extend a narrow one-shot lead to three as the leaderboard was overflowing with low scores on a sun-splashed Saturday at the British Open.

When Spieth is hitting his tee ball reasonably well, he’s nearly impossible to beat. His iron game is sublime and his putting is almost always razor sharp. Unlike most right handed players who prefer “hook” putts (right to left) over “cut” putts (left to right), Spieth is perhaps the best cut-putter ever.

No right handed player has ever stroked the left-to-right putts with the same precision and authority as Spieth.

He was also pretty good on the hook putts on Saturday, including a 20-footer on the 18th green that tumbled in on the last roll to move him to 11-under par for 54 holes. Right to left or left to right, it doesn’t matter all that much for Spieth. He’s the best putter on the planet right now – and it’s not even close.

A win for Spieth today would give him three of the four majors in professional golf. He’d lack only the PGA Championship to complete the career Grand Slam, and with next month’s PGA taking place at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, Spieth – and the rest of the field – will be playing a golf course he’s seen plenty of times in previous years.

Spieth was likely not much of a Nicklaus follower when he was growing up in suburban Dallas, but when you get the chance to equal a mark that “The Bear” set, you dive in with both feet forward and try to make it happen.

It’s unlikely Spieth will win 18 major titles like Jack managed to do, but winning three majors by age 23 would be a very respectable merit badge. And a victory today would also wipe away any remaining heartache from Jordan’s 2016 Masters collapse, when he frittered away a 5-shot lead on the final day and made a quadruple bogey “7” at the 12th hole.

The losses always out-linger the wins, which is another reason why today’s final round at Birkdale is so critical for Spieth. Not being able to polish off this British Open would give him two “blown” majors, a trait you’d rather not develop, for obvious reasons.

More important than winning, perhaps, is the only opportunity Spieth has to join Nicklaus in the "Under 24 Gang".

Spieth turns 24 next week, so a win today cements his spot next to Nicklaus. And it gives him an achievement that the great Woods himself couldn't even pull off during the early stages of his amazing career.

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dempsey sparks u.s. to gold cup final


Maybe American coach Bruce Arena has found his "super sub".

It just happens to be the guy who now shares the all-time goal scoring record for the United States soccer team.

Clint Dempsey's 57th career goal last night vs. Costa Rica ties him with Landon Donovan for most goals ever by a U.S. men's national team player.

Clint Dempsey came off the bench in the second half on Saturday night in Dallas and set up the first goal of the game and later added one of his own as the U.S. shut out Costa Rica, 2-0, in the semifinals of the Gold Cup. The Americans will play in the Final against the winner of today's game between Mexico and Jamaica.

Both teams had several quality scoring chances in the first half last night. The Americans hit the post less than a half-minute into the game and Costa Rica had a pair of opportunities in the box that were snuffed out by goaltender Tim Howard, who has probably once again established himself as the team's #1 'keeper with his performance in this Gold Cup.

Dempsey's performance on Saturday night wasn't the only glittering moment for the U.S. Darlington Nagbe was terrific, as he continues to set himself up for a starting role in the remaining World Cup qualifying games and Russia 2018 if the American side does, in fact, qualify for next year's World Cup.

Kellyn Acosta acquitted himself well, as did midfielder Paul Arriola. Both of those guys are scratching hard to try and work their way into the "full" American team that will continue qualifying for the World Cup in September. Arriola was particularly effective on Saturday night, showing the best form we've seen from him over the last year.

This team is playing without its star, remember. Christian Pulisic is not being used in the Gold Cup as coach Bruce Arena seizes an opportunity to give other players a chance to shine. There's some speculation that Arena could call Pulisic in for the Final, but that seems remote at this point.

One thing for certain. This American squad under Bruce Arena is starting to make some noise. After a lackluster start to World Cup qualifying that saw the team go 0-2 and coach Jurgen Klinsmann lose his job, the U.S. has turned it around completely under Arena, moving into 3rd place in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings and advancing to the Final of the Gold Cup.

And with Dempsey still kicking butt and taking names, things are starting to look good for the red, white and blue.

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#dmd comments


John Pusateri     July 23
Speith might be the Don Stanhouse of golf.



And a fresh Dempsey coming onto the pitch against a tired defense is just what the doctor ordered in last night's win for the USMNT. Pulisic, Nagbe and Dempsey might be the only guys who can create offensively for the US.

eric     July 23
the O's should be selling faster than Randolph and Mortimer but Drew is clearly missing a major point- all the guys these teams want are signed thru next year. Come December more teams have payroll flexibility and the desperation to make a splash and sell season tix. Not to mention every year we see quality players dealt after Aug 1st. No problem with Duquette telling teams hey we're buying so either knock our socks off now or pay thru the nose in December. I'm guessing somebody like LA blows us away for Britton on the 31st

unitastoberry     July 23
Interesting state of the Orioles yesterday. But not an interesting outcome with the Astros they are good they could win it all. I have opined that O'Day is O'Doules now a couple of time this season. I think age is creeping in on him at 34. But the at bat where he gave up the pinch hit home run was after a long injury time out when a foul ball hit that guys eye. By the way how is that guy? He needed to go to the hospital asap thats for sure.

BJ     July 23
Do you really want DD telling his potential trade partners what his intentions are? And just last week didn't slimebag Rosenthal breathlessly "report" that PGA gave DD "permission' to trade veterans? And it's a laughable notion that any GM listen to "prominent national baseball writers", those guys look for twitter hits as desperately as the Little Fella

Bob from Hereford     July 23
Dan is saying what Peter wants him to say!!!!!!!

Uncle leo     July 22
What, no soccer coverage??

Aaron     July 22
How's that Fleishman guy doing?

Brien Jackson     July 22
I don't in principle have a problem with trying to bunt for a hit IF YOU'RE A REALLY GOOD BUNTER. Not just "can make contact and put it in play" good but someone who is actually better than average at putting a bunt in a particular spot. Adam Jones does this every now and then, he's pretty good at it, and it works reasonably well. That's totally fine.



But there's long been this idea that if these power hitters would just stop swinging for the fences and put one on the ground they'd be getting on base all the time, and that just ignores that you still have the pitcher and catcher there to field a bunt that isn't perfectly placed. So not only are you conceding extra bases, but even if you get the bunt down it's still going to be an out somewhere around 80-90% of the time. The way to beat the shift is hitting the ball to the outfield and making it irrelevant.

DR (the original)     July 22
This isn't totally related to Davis last night, just my opinion.

In the American League in the year 2017, there is only one situation where I think it's ok for any player to bunt for any reason:

You are at home, in a "walk-off" situation, and you have runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out and want to sacrifice. And even then, I want it to be somebody that's at least moderately proficient as a bunter.

In the AL, you never play for one run, except in that situation.

If you bunt for a hit unsuccessfully, or sacrifice bunt, at any point before the 8th inning, the kangaroo court should fine you.

Brien Jackson     July 22
Bunt it's not just "get a bunt down" and success. The ball still has to be placed down the line and make it past the mound tavoid the pitcher and catcher making the play. If placing bunts was that easy EVERYONE should do it when the 3B is playing deep.

BJ     July 22
Just to show how fair and balanced I am, I totally AGREE with Brien on Davis bunting. To me, I hear his quote as "I felt like I was going to get out anyway, why not try something different.

unitastoberry     July 22
If I can bunt and theres nobody at third base I dont care if I'm the Babe its going down there on the correct occasions. Its called baseball and its a kids game its not rocket science like so many young people want to make it out to be.

Brien Jackson     July 22
Bunting against the shift as a power hitter is an awful play that advantages the defense and has a low chance of success anyway. It should never be done.

unitastoberry     July 22
Davis tried to bunt early in the game which was good. But he clearly has problems laying it down. Keep practicing Chris. Nice rally in the 9th but bottom line is we got Ubaldoed yet again. There is no quit in the Showalter Orioles.

BJ     July 22
You all realize EVERY MLB teams has homer announcers these days, right? Do you ever check out other team's broadcasts on MLB network? Not saying it's not totally unprofessional, embarrassing and annoying as hell, just saying it's not unique to the O's. Palmer does mildly criticize at times, which is refreshing, but like OVERDON, hate when he comes out with his catch phrase "there you go"

Ron K.     July 22
I love how people will criticize Jim Palmer, yet, they tolerate guys like Jim Hunter, Mike Bordick, and Rick Dempsey who tend to blame every Oriole loss on umpires, rain, the Trump administration, global warming, Putin, Hillary's emails, the Baltimore police force, etc.

mike from catonsville     July 22
I screamed at the tv and lit up my friends with texts when Davis tried to bunt. We paid him $160 mil to hit hr's not bunt. Like Chazz Reinhold would say "what an idiot".



Looks like Phil may need to put a call into Bones.

Beulah     July 22
I’m 97 years old. I live on the third floor [or maybe it’s the fourth, I don’t know] of an old-folks home in central Florida. I’ve been declared incompetent by the court and am no longer responsible for my debts. I’ve been stripped of my right to enter into binding contracts. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know what day it is and I don’t know or even care who the president is. But when that nice young man named Bobby comes every morning to advise us on what sports to watch on TV, and who asks if we would like to invest in which team will win that day, I have to smile. Even if I have no teeth. There is a team on the West Coast, or maybe it’s the East Coast, called the O’s, and for whom a player named U. Jimenez pitches. When I see that he is in the lineup, I tell Bobby that I want to invest in the other team. Bobby tells me that I have to invest a lot more than I might get back. I used to understand math many years ago. But I’ve forgotten anything I ever knew. All I know is, when I invest in the other team, I almost always win. The next day after a game, Bobby always seems mad when he gives me my profit, even though it was he who told me how much I had to invest. Bobby is a nice young man. But sometimes I think he is not real good at what he does now. Maybe he’ll give up trying to fleece the public, and get a real job for which he's qualified, like as a general manager of a baseball team.

over40Don     July 21
At this point there have to be a couple guys in the minors that can pitch 3-4 innings and not give up 5 runs. Heck they might go 4-5 innings giving up a few runs. Ubaldo and Miley have to GOOOOO!!!!

Vince     July 21
I didn't have a problem with Vick's comments. If CK can't be a starting QB anymore DUE TO HIS SKILLSET or lack thereof, he needs to market himself another way. As a backup, he would need to be a good locker room guy and one who can help a young QB learn the NFL and how to be a good pro. An idiot who just wants to attract attention to himself for whatever platform he chooses to support is not a good fit for either of those tasks. I think he would be a sufficient backup for a good many years, but he comes off as a locker room cancer and a magnet for press. Not ideal for a team looking for role players. That being said, I support him speaking out for what he thinks is wrong and I applaud him taking a stand (or a knee). I'm sure he's weighed what it might cost to do so and chose to do what he's done. The problem with that is, you just need to accept the consequences when they come unless you are being treated unfairly. I don't think he is. If a team wants to pay you to play football, concentrate on being the best football player you can be. I'm not sure he's given himself the best opportunity to do that with all the constant distractions every time he steps on a field or in front of a camera or microphone.

Brien Jackson     July 21
1. I'm 99% sure the Ravens plan all along has been for Alex Lewis to replace Wagner just as Wagner replaced Oher, and unless someone unexpectedly gets cut they're not even thinking about signing a tackle right now. A center/guard if anything.



2. To state the obvious, the problem with Michael Vick's comments is that he's a convicted dogfighter who's admitted to hanging, drowning, mutilating, and otherwise torturing and brutalizing animals. Him tsk-tsking others for their hair, clothes, whatever without a hint of self-awareness is pretty irritating.

Karl in Idlewylde     July 21
Please, dear God - trade Manny while we still can get value for him. The last four games were nice, but they're going to have to have one heckuva hot streak to be truly"in" this thing. I look at the first wild card as viable, but not the second, and 5 1/2 to Tampa is a lot to make up, never mind the other competition.

TimD in Timonium     July 21
Drew, great podcast. Who doesn't think that beer and sports go together? Looking for some Lawn Dart today.

unitastoberry     July 21
Having watch most of the Orioles games this season I can tell you Texas was the worst team we have faced in 2017 and for sure the worst overall pitching. They look like they have packed it in . The good news is the As are maybe just as bad and we have yet to play them. I'm still a seller of a few pieces.

ray ray     July 21
George you let that fish get away. didn't set the hook.You should have allowed him to run with the line for a while before pulling him up short.

George     July 20
@Brien -- Let's have some long-term fun with this. Tell me what the BOOPBOOPBEDOO tells you Mancini will hit (average) in his regression year of 2018. When you send that, I'll craft a wager you can accept or reject.

mike from catonsville     July 20
@The Other Guy- I never offered any bet, merely accepted the offer but I don't remember who it was that was trying to call me out on Trumbo NOT hitting 40 "jumbos" this year. They (whomever) were insistent enough to offer some type of wager. But....they have never owned up to challenging me. Why? Don't know, embarrassed maybe?



BTW, hows that working out for me, although I wish I were proven wrong.

KVV from SP     July 20
I have no trouble listening to Palmer, at least he calls it like it is. I don't think Dave's statement about Bordick is joke either, that guy bleeds orange!! Next time he's on try to count how many times he says..."in the zone" and "great" drives me CRAZY!!!

Chris in Bel Air     July 20
I don't understand the point on the Mancini debate. I see him hitting the ball hard to all fields. He has decent power and gets on base. He's nice young player for the O's - something they desperately need. Will he sustain this same level of performance next year and years beyond? I don't know. Even if does come back to earth some, what does that mean? He is a bum and not worth being in a line up because he is hitting .270 instead of .300?

over40Don     July 20
Am I the only one here that has trouble listening to Palmer say 50 times a broadcast "then again" or "again" ? Jim Palmer was tremendous to watch as I grew up and pretended to be grown up, but I find his monotone delivery and constant use of the above monotonous.

I think David R. would make a fine peacemaker or diplomat, great article.

Theotherguy     July 20
We need MFC and Brien to hook up somehow so they can place these phantom internet comment board "bets" against each other

that guy     July 20
So the fancy pants metrics tell us Mancini will not be the next Hank Aaron? Phew, good thing we have all that insightful data to tell us, otherwise we’d be starting on his plaque already.

On the other hand, these same metrics apparently tell us Joey Votto is one of the “greatest hitters of all time”. Gotcha.


Brien Jackson     July 20
To be clear I'm not talking about this season. Mancini's underlying peripherals are unusual but not unheard for a single season by any stretch (Josh Hamilton had a .390 BABIP in his 2010 MVP season, 8 guys had a BABIP of .370 or higher in 2015, 6 did it last year, and 13 guys have hit that mark this season. But out of 27 people in that grouping, there's no one who's on the list more than once. Joey Votto came close, going from .371 to .366 from 2015 to 2016 but a) he's one of the best hitters to ever play and b) his BABIP is .286 this year.



So tl;dr you can definitely sustain Mancini's current performance for a single season, but it's basically impossible to do it over two or three seasons.

DR (the original)     July 20
Listened to Monty on the Open coverage this morning with Mike Tirico. I thought he was pretty good. Funny and pretty insightful.

George     July 20
@Brien - I truly commend you for having the courage to back your opinion with cash! So few do.

What odds are you giving that Mancini will not finish this regular season hitting .280 or above; and .290 or above; and .300 or above?

Ron Mexico     July 20
Much like Ellis Boyd Redding, I am rehabilitated. There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. I look back at the way I was, a young stupid kid that committed that crime, I wanna try to talk some sense to him. But I can't. That kids long gone and this old man is all that's left.



On another note, "I'd still hit it".

George     July 20
@David Rosenfeld -- Good column. I say that sabermetrics are garbage. We have been presented with a prediction they make: that Trey Mancini will "regress" because his BEBIMBOP is too high or too low or too something.

I disagree, based on a generalized gut feeling. I say Mancini will hit .300 or close to it for his career, or at least the next five years.

So here we have number crunching that wants to be a science, and human instinct that everyone knows is NOT a science, and each makes a prediction. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.


Brien Jackson     July 20
@George



My offer to bet on Mancini's future performance still stands.

Tom J     July 20
Love Ben on the broadcasts. I have to disagree with you Drew. I listened to Dave Johnson the other day driving home and he was horrible....JMO. Monty is a miserable sour puss douche...!!!!! Observed him for 3 days at the Senior Players and i don't know how he didn't die in that heat carrying all of that weight.

H     July 20
Palmer was far and away the best pitcher on that 1975 staff. as well as the best pitcher in MLB. But without that defense Torres may have had an ERA of 3.56, Cuellar 4.16, and Grimsley 4.57.

unitastoberry     July 20
Looks like Ron Mexico is now giving out free advice for losers by losers. He needs to crawl back under his rock.

Bordicks much better now than when he first started out on the air. He has his moments especially when he's with Hunter .I'm not crazy about McDonald either. None of these guys even Palmer can entertain like Eckman did in the booth.

Don't start thinking the Orioles are coming out of a deep sleep trade Britton for at least 3 prospects one being a hi level one.




John Pusateri     July 20
Apologies DF, but the statement of "..."here's what you're going to wear all four days of the British Open and we're going to publicize it", I think I'd have to pull rank on them at that point. " make it sound like you are "pulling rank on them" for both of their requests.


Seymour Greene     July 20
Since Mike Bordick was mentioned I have to vent. Why must he always say "punch out" instead of "strike out". It is beyond annoying. Besides "punch out" is only slang for a called strike 3 anyway but he uses it for all strike outs.

Pat     July 20
Agree with you Drew on the golf clothes. Remember when they brought the Super Bowl trophy to the Ravens complex the week before Super Bowl 47 and Ray Lewis told everyone they weren't allowed to touch it? Showing what golf clothes you're going to wear for Sunday's final round a month before the tournament seems really strange to me.



Don't know that I agree on the Pirates though. The Cubs are going to run away with that division now.

DF     July 20
@Steve in Vero and @John Pusateri -- you guys need to read better.



I didn't say I would object to what they picked for me to wear.



I said I would object to them PUBLISHING in advance of the tournament what I was going to wear for all four days when I'm not guaranteed to play all four days.

Davey     July 20
@H: You cite Palmer's 1975 ERA of 2.09 as being misleading because he had a great defense behind him. Brooks, Belanger, etc. But if the great defense explains it, why didn't the other starters have great ERA's that year? Torres, Cuellar, and Grimsely had ERA's of 3.06, 3.66 and 4.07, respectively, with the exact same defense. And yet Palmer's ERA was one full run lower than the 2nd best pitcher on the team that year. I give that credit to him.




Steve from Vero Beach     July 20
@ Drew, You are not pulling rank on NOBODY !!! If you made what Under Armour is paying Jordon Spieth to wear there line of clothes you would not complain at all. Drew, you talk a good game but, if Under Armour had a line of toilet paper, guess what, you would be wiping your butt with it for 4 days !!! These guys make more from there sponsors than they will ever make hitting a golf ball, nice try !!!

John Pusateri     July 20
Come on Drew. If Nike and UA were signing multi-million dollar checks and asked you to wear a pink tutu,you'd say "which day". ;)

George     July 19
These predictive sabermetrics may just be right after all. I note their use by some here to predict a slide in Trey Mancini’s future production.

Mancini’s average has plummeted since the All-Star break, from a lofty .304 to a dismal .309.

His OBP, although it has climbed, is only a measly .352, dead last on the team except for all the other regular players.

How anyone could stay in the bigs with a pathetic OPS of .887, again dead last on the team but for all the other regulars, is a mystery.

I guess you could rightly and truly say that Mancini is to the better Orioles as Mt. Pleasant is to other local golf courses.

Because, as sophisticated and knowledgeable sports fans who recognize and know quality, we can ignore what our eyes see and our experience and actual statistics tell us, and substitute unsupported opinion, arrogant arguments, and voodoo science.

-----

Trey Mancini is the real deal.

DR (the original)     July 19
It's great if Towson and Morgan want to play every year. They are the only two who play football. It makes total sense, as you say.

In basketball, it doesn't make as much sense. Morgan and Coppin play in the same league, so they would never be in a tournament together. If you want to add Navy (same league as Loyola), UMES (same as Morgan/Coppin) and the Mount (longstanding rivalry with Loyola almost always played on the same weekend in December) it makes it even worse.

Plus, the schools have no interest in it. MEAC schools have to play a lot of guarantee ($$) games...playing 2 or 3 local games cost them a lot of money. Loyola, UMBC and Towson have been pretty good about playing each other recently, and that should continue. Navy might be in Annapolis but it's not really a MD school...their view isn't local. They host a tournament where they bring in Ohio State and UNC, etc; what would possess them to want to be in a local tournament?

Saturday
July 22
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win streak over, o's 9th inning rally falls short


That would have been a comeback for the ages last night at Camden Yards.

Instead, it turned out to be just another 8-7 loss, as the Houston Astros improved to a remarkable 34-11 on the road this season with a win in the 3-game series opener at Camden Yards.

But there for a minute in the bottom of the 9th, the O's looked like they might produce one of the most stirring comebacks in franchise history.

Ubaldo Jimenez gave up three earned runs in the first inning on Friday night as the O's fell to Houston in an 8-7 loss that snapped the team's 4-game winning streak.

Houston led 8-2 heading to the O's final at-bat. Caleb Joseph flew out to start the 9th. Ho hum...

Ruben Tejada was up next. He drew a walk.

As a side note: When you walk Ruben Tejada, you probably should be lifted from the game right then and there. It was, indeed, a sign of bad things to come for the Astros.

Hyun Soo Kim -- yep, he actually still IS on the team -- then roped a double to the left field corner to give the O's a pair of base runners. Adam Jones followed with his own double and it was quickly 8-4.

Manny Machado's single put runners on first and third. Jonathan Schoop then homered to right and it was 8-7, just like that.

Then, one of the weirdest plays of the year took place.

Representing the tying run, Chris Davis tried to lay down a bunt against the shift. The ball bounded harmlessly to the pitcher, who tossed it to first for the easy out.

Why would Davis bunt there?

He apparently made the decision on his own.

"I wasn't seeing the ball real well all night," the first baseman said after the game. "I saw them move over in the shift and decided it might be good to lay one down and try and get on base."

Davis finished the night 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Down to their last out, the O's watched Mark Trumbo strike out to end the game. The loss dropped the Birds to 46-50 on the year.

Houston raced out to 3-0 first inning lead on Ubaldo Jimenez, then extended the margin to 5-0 in the second.

Jimenez managed to hang around into the 6th inning, but permitted 11 baserunners along the way, as Houston nicked him for six earned runs to raise his ERA to 7.19 on the year.

It's no surprise that Jimenez delivered a clunker on Friday night. That's pretty much his style. Every 5th or 6th start he'll throw in some more-than-representative just to remind you he's capable of doing it, but for the most part, you're losing when Ubaldo takes the mound.

Oh, and Houston, in case you haven't noticed, is really good.

The Astros own the best record in the American League at 64-32 and trail only the Dodgers (66-31) for the most wins in baseball.

There's nothing they can't do. The Astros can pitch, hit and field their position(s). Anything can happen come playoff time, but Houston will enter the post-season as the favorite to come out of the American League and reach the World Series.

For eight innings last night, they humbled the Orioles.

But in the 9th, the Birds showed some guts before their spirited comeback was snuffed out.

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spieth just 36 holes away from a third major title


Suddenly, Jordan Spieth looks like Jordan Spieth again.

And the rest of the field at the British Open is predictably on notice that the soon-to-be-24-year-old is in command of the season's third major after a 65-69 start gave him a 2-shot lead at Royal Birkdale.

Friday's scoring average at windy, wet Birkdale was just over 75. Spieth, playing in the worst of it, somehow managed a one-under round of 69. While the rest of the field struggled to maintain their position, the 2015 Masters champion actually improved his score by a shot.

Jordan Spieth and his caddie discuss a tee-shot into the wind and rain at Royal Birkdale on Friday, where the 23-year old claimed sole possession of the 36-hole lead with a 6-under par total.

He's not going to stroll to the Claret Jug presentation, though. There are plenty of guys trailing him who have the game to make a 36-hole run, including Rory McIlroy, who moved back into the tournament with his own two-under par round of 68 to finish at 1-under par for two days.

Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar are both just two shots behind at 4-under par.

There will be a handful of players further down the leaderboard who put together a solid round today and wiggle back into contention. It always seems to happen like that at the British Open, where weather conditions often dictate the quality of golf -- sometimes on an hour by hour basis.

But the tournament, at this point, is under the control of Spieth, who nearly won the 2015 "Open" before falling one shot short of joining the 3-way playoff involving Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman.

"I still think about St. Andrews in 2015," Spieth said after Friday's round. "I wanted to win that tournament so much. And I was right there, but I just couldn't make birdie at 18 to get into that playoff."

Spieth cited lessons learned along the way. "I think you learn and retain more from the British Open than any other major tournament," he said. "You learn about patience, dealing with the weather, how to handle a bad break or two...it's tough sometimes, but also very rewarding when you handle all of those things well and play solid golf."

Overshadowed over the last year by Dustin Johnson and the emergence of guys like Koepka, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm, Spieth needs another major win to squelch some of that discussion and put himself back near the top of golf's world rankings. He has the game to do it.

Never one of the best drivers of the golf ball, Jordan has made his meal money with an impeccable short game and putting wizardy unmatched by anyone in professional golf today. He's probably one of the best ever at putting left to right putts (for right handers, that's the toughest putt), as he demonstrated on Friday with a 15-foot eagle at the 15th hole that momentarily moved him to 7-under par.

When Spieth is hitting greens in regulation, he's also making birdies by the bushel. That's what's happening thus far at Birkdale. He's rolling in a lot of putts.

And the field at Royal Birkdale is on notice.

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westwood, rahm rules issue carries over to round two


It was a quiet day in the group involving Lee Westwood and Jon Rahm in Friday's second round of the British Open. Not much was said.

It's become an all-too-familiar sight. Jon Rahm surrounded by a rules official.

Rahm was involved in a rules controversy on Thursday that involved Westwood, and when questioned about it on Friday, Westwood didn't want to comment. "I thought the vine he (Rahm) moved was attached to the ground," Westwood said. "He said it wasn't. I don't have anything else to say."

Rahm admitted to moving a vine from behind his ball in Thursday's opening round, but said it was loose and not attached to the ground. Had the vine been attached, Rahm could have been penalized.

"It wasn't even in the path of my swing," Rahm said afterwards. "It didn't affect me at all. I just saw that it was there and decided to move it."

Westwood didn't see it that way, calling over a Rules official after he believed the vine was in the ground.

This is the second time in less than a month that Rahm has been questioned about a potential rules infraction. Three weeks ago at the Irish Open, he mismarked his ball on the 6th green in the final round, but wasn't penalized by the on-course rules official.

That one was much easier to see than Thursday's (apparent) snafu. There were no TV cameras following Rahm in the opening round, so there's no documentation of the incident involving the vine he moved.

It all came down to Rahm's word. He said the vine wasn't in his swing path and wasn't attached to the ground. Westwood differed. Rahm's assertion of what took place is what matters most.

Either way, Rahm, currently at +3 in the tournament, is quickly earning a reputation in golf as a guy who doesn't know all of the rules. Or, at the very least, doesn't play by them.

And that's not a good way to start your professional golf career.

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Friday
July 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 21
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this, that and the other


Any way we can petition to have the Texas Rangers moved to the American League East?

And we thought our starting pitching was bad here in Baltimore.

Whew...the Rangers' pitching stinks.

If the Cubs came in to Baltimore last weekend at precisely the wrong time for the Birds, the Rangers showed up here at exactly the right time this week. The Orioles were on the verge of falling off the map in the A.L. playoff chase after that 3-game sweep at the hands of the defending world champs, but a 4-game romp over Texas has the O's playoff-heartbeat flickering again at 46-49.

The Birds trailed Cole Hamels and the Rangers 5-1 in the 5th inning, but the bats came alive for the O's over the next two innings and they eventually led 9-5 before Zach Britton made things interesting. The Rangers scratched out two runs and nearly hit a game-tying two run homer with two outs in the 9th before Britton could record the final out.

Mark Trumbo's 16th homer of the season was one of four long balls from the Birds on Thursday night in the 9-7 win over Texas.

Wade Miley wasn't all that good last night, but what's new, right? Still, the pitching performances from Monday (Bundy), Tuesday (Tillman) and Wednesday (Gausman) were more than enough to give some hope that perhaps the Birds are in the beginning stages of a summer rebound.

As we know, it always comes back to pitching for the Orioles. From mid-May through the All-Star break, the team's work on the mound was inept. Over the last four days, they've looked like they know what they're doing. And they've won four in a row. As Charley Eckman used to say, "It's a very simple game."

I'm still very much of the mindset that the Orioles should be looking to "sell" at the deadline, but winning games is sure as heck more fun than losing games. Let's see how the O's fare against the Astros this weekend before we start saving up for playoff tickets.

Michael Oher was released by the Carolina Panthers yesterday, so the natural first-level speculation is that the Ravens would potentially be interested in Oher for their right tackle position.

I hope not.

Oher's best days are behind him. And while it's true he has plenty of NFL experience, the Ravens best move would be to groom a younger player at that position or wait for an August training-camp cut to find someone a little more reliable than Oher.

Too many penalties, too many "off" games and just too much overall ineffectiveness. That's my summary of Oher's play. He's a decent second stringer at this point.

Yes, offensive left tackle is a critically important position and the Ravens are in good hands there with Ronnie Stanley manning that spot. But right tackle is also important and it's paramount the Ravens find a suitable replacement for the now-departed Rick Wagner. One of the keys to Joe Flacco's success in 2017 will be the play of the offensive line. I hope Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta look long and hard at someone other than Oher for the team's right tackle spot.

Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick remains in the news as he tries to soft-peddle his way around comments he made earlier this week about Colin Kaepernick. Vick visited The Dan Patrick Show yesterday to reiterate that he was not saying Kaepernick's hair was the reason no NFL teams have signed him so far in the off-season.

In case you missed it, on a radio show this past Monday, Vick suggested that Kaepernick cut his hair and "go with the clean-cut look" in an effort to repair and enhance his image with NFL owners and team decision makers.

Vick can dance around it all he wants, but he obviously thinks Kaepernick has an "image" issue that goes above and beyond his political stance against the national anthem last football season. In a day and age when I'd say 90% of NFL players sport multiple tattoos on their body and player arrests are as frequent as Chris Davis strikeouts, I can't imagine for one minute that a NFL team is all that concerned with how a player "looks", whether it's body art, haircut, piercings, etc.

It sounded to me like Vick was brushing up against the idea of playing the race-card with relation to Kaepernick's inability to get a job, but only went as far as to suggest that the former 49'ers quarterback clean up his "image" by cutting his hair.

This is what happens when you have a former quarterback who is hesitant to criticize a current (unemployed) quarterback for a drop-off in his play. He goes for the "cut the hair" angle instead, only it makes matters much worse when no one can figure out why a better haircut would increase Kaepernick's chances of securing a job.

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british open: americans on top, but mcilroy's comeback was the big story


Jordan Spieth threw the equivalent of a no-hitter on Thursday in the opening round of the British Open, as the two-time major champion made 13 pars and 5 birdies en-route to a 65 that left him tied for the lead at Royal Birkdale.

No bogeys on any golf course is quite a feat. Doing so in the British Open is pretty remarkable.

Another outstanding day off the tee helped U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka reach the top of the leaderboard after day one of the British Open on Thursday.

Spieth, per his typical style, didn't drive the ball all that great in the opening round, but his pinpoint iron work and terrific putting made the difference. If not for a missed ten footer at the 18th hole for birdie, Jordan would have led the tournament after day one.

If he can avoid a big number that typically comes as a result of a wayward drive or two, Spieth should stay in the hunt for the next three days. He'll have to hit more than the five fairways hit on Thursday to claim his first British Open, though.

Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar made it a three-way American deadlock on top of the leaderboard. Koepka and Kuchar are about as opposite as Felix and Oscar from the 1970's TV show The Odd Couple. Koepka hits it 330 yards off the tee and overpowers the course into waving the white flag. Kuchar simply moves the ball around like it's a game of chess, eventually forcing the course to surrender to the torture. Both are very effective strategies given each player's strengths.

But the big story on Thursday came from Rory McIlroy, who was five over par after six holes and on his way to an 80 and even more questions about not only his play, but his love for the game.

TV broadcaster Nick Faldo knows something no one else does, but refuses to say it on the air. Instead, yesterday, Faldo continued to say, "If the stories we're hearing via the grapevine are true, Rory has some things on his mind that are taking away from his golf." Perhaps that's true. But it would be nice to know what those things are so we can make that judgment for ourselves.

On the 6th hole yesterday, things changed for McIlroy. And it all came full circle after a brief conversation with his caddie.

"You're Rory McIlroy. What the f*** are you doing?" his caddie asked.

I guess after watching his player beat it around for the better part of five months with little to no interest in actually competing, McIlroy's caddie got tired of it and spoke up.

It worked.

McIlroy played the back nine in four under par to finish at 71 for the day. From five over par and making Friday night flight reservations to being back in the golf tournament. Just like that.

He has a long way to go to play well enough to contend this weekend, but McIlroy's presence on the leaderboard would create some extraordinary excitement. The world of golf has been waiting for a Rory-Spieth rivalry to blossom, but McIlroy's play over the last couple of years hasn't allowed for it.

Maybe we'll get a taste of it this weekend. Spieth isn't likely going to back up, so McIlroy will have to catch him. As we've seen over the last couple of years for Rory, that's easier said than done.

Perhaps McIlroy's caddie has another tongue lashing prepared for round two.

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the best 34 minutes of the week


We veered off the beaten path a little bit for this week's edition of "The Best 34 Minutes of The Week", but if you're interested in beer -- and who isn't? -- and a discussion about the finer points of craft brewing, #DMD has a special podcast for you.

I checked in with Brandon and Brian at DuClaw -- taste-tested some beers "on the air" (so to speak) and spent an interesting 35 minutes with them talking about beer, brewing and what DuClaw has going on right now.

The podcast is brought to you by Jerry's Toyota and The Baltimore Tent Company.



PODCAST



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Thursday
July 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 20
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fact and opinion rolls on like the red sox


FACT: The Red Sox finally gave Pablo Sandoval his release on Wednesday after they failed to find a trade partner for the struggling third baseman. Sandoval reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Giants -- his former team -- after the Red Sox sent him packing. Boston owes Sandoval $49.5 million.

OPINION: There are lots of differences between the Orioles and Red Sox -- three World Series rings for Boston would be a "difference" -- but Sandoval's release is one of the biggest. The Orioles wouldn't part company with Ubaldo Jimenez during his earlier struggles this season and they owed him $12.5 million. Sandoval was stinking it up and the Red Sox gave him the heave-ho despite owing him nearly $50 million. In Baltimore, we hang on to our mistakes and let them keep bringing us down. In Boston, they eat your salary and try to get better some other way.

FACT: Lonzo Ball won the NBA Summer League MVP award and the Lakers won the mythical "Summer League title" in the 6-game season played by rookies, draft picks and free agent signings.

OPINION: It was amazing to watch ESPN unfurl their promotional flag for Ball and the Lakers. This was, honestly, the equivalent of spring training baseball, yet ESPN treated the whole thing like it was the NBA Finals. Ball performed well overall, although he had plenty of spotty moments in his first foray into professional basketball. Then again, Ball should perform well. He was the 2nd pick in the Draft -- and he was going up against a lot of half-scrubs who will never step foot on a NBA court for a "real" game.

Polo published the clothing choices of Justin Thomas for this week's British Open, even though Thomas might not play all four days. Weird? You bet.

FACT: The Orioles occasionally trot out a group of former players to take on the radio color analyst duties when Joe Angel goes on vacation and Jim Hunter is forced into a full-time play-by-play role. This week's series with the Rangers has showcased Ben McDonald in the booth doing color with Hunter.

OPINION: For some reason, pitchers make outstanding color analysts. Erstwhile O's hurler Dave Johnson is very good, and McDonald has been outstanding this week during his stint with Hunter. McDonald mixes an exceptional understand of pitching with an even better look at the hitters and what they're facing given the in-game situation. The Orioles should figure out a way to get McDonald involved in their TV or radio broadcasts on a more regular basis.

FACT: The Yankees picked up Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the White Sox on Tuesday. They needed relief pitching help and they got it, plus Frazier is a legit big-league bat.

OPINION: The Bronx Bombers are going to have to add at least one decent starting pitcher -- if not two -- before next weekend's trade deadline. If they don't, they can't make the playoffs. Their current group that includes Tanaka, Sabathia and Severino is nowhere near good enough to stay alive in the Wild Card race. Losing out on Jose Quintana hurt them, but perhaps Brian Cashman sees the big picture and figures not even Quintana would have been enough to get New York back to the post-season.

FACT: No fewer than six players competing in this week's British Open had their respective apparel companies publish their projected "outfits" for all four days. Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler were among those who did it.

OPINION: I understand some (or most) of this is done by the likes of adidas, Nike, Under Armour, etc. but if I'm a professional golfer and you tell me "here's what you're going to wear all four days of the British Open and we're going to publicize it", I think I'd have to pull rank on them at that point. I'd remind the folks of this: "I'm actually not guaranteed to play Saturday and Sunday...so why don't we hold off on that until I make the cut and play all four rounds?" Golfers being the superstitious lot that they are, I'm amazed some of those guys sign off on pre-publishing their apparel choices. I wouldn't.

FACT: The Dodgers have now won 11 straight games after last night's 9-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago. L.A.'s road record (27-18) is pretty solid. But how about their home mark? The Dodgers are 39-11 in Los Angeles. Oh, and there's this: The Dodgers have held the lead at some point in 44 consecutive games. That's a new major league record.

OPINION: With 67 games remaining, the Dodgers have a legit chance to win 110 games. They have 66 wins now. They'd need 44 more in their final 67 contests. Can they go 44-23 to close out the season? Seems reasonable to me. 110-52 would be a pretty good regular season, huh?

FACT: Michael Vick suggested earlier this week that embattled (former?) NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick should cut his hair in order to present a more "clean cut image" that could perhaps endear him to a NFL suitor.

OPINION: I know Vick wasn't trying to do this, but any reference or mention of something OTHER than football when discussing Kaepernick only serves to cloud an already-murky situation even more. Kaepernick isn't employed in the NFL because no team wants to sign him. Why they aren't signing him isn't really anyone's business, last I checked. It's amazing that this is still a story to me. If I owned a NFL team, I wouldn't employ Colin Kaepernick. And I don't need to tell anyone why I wouldn't. And no, it's not because of his hair.

FACT: The Pirates are now just four games behind Milwaukee in the National League Central and the red-hot Cubs -- winners of six straight after the All-Star break -- are now just one game behind the Brew Crew.

OPINION: Chicago is starting to make the move we all expected of them, but I would keep a close eye on the Pirates as well. If their good, young pitching comes through for them in the final third of the season, they can definitely overtake Milwaukee and perhaps even challenge the Cubs for the division title. At the very least, Pittsburgh has a good chance to squeeze their way back into the Wild Card picture.

FACT: Colin Montgomerie is doing some in-studio work with The Golf Channel for this week's British Open. In the early stages of Thursday's opening round, they aired a 3-minute retrospective on Greg Norman, a two-time British Open winner who also contended in 2008 at Royal Birkdale, site of this week's championship.

OPINION: Montgomerie made a comment about Norman's "inability to close things out" in 2008 when he led by two shots heading into Sunday's final round before posting 77 on the last day to lose to Padraig Harrington. Ummmmm, Colin? Not sure if you remember this -- but you never closed out one major, my friend. I love when guys get in the booth and tell other golfers how to win a major championship when they didn't do it themselves.

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thursday sports with 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 Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


"What we've got here, is a failure to communicate" -- The Captain, in the 1967 movie "Cool Hand Luke"

The fight between sabermetric statistics and 1950s-era box scores isn’t really a fight between young and old, though it’s easy to see why it’s been framed that way. After all, there’s never been a generation that didn’t think it understood the world better than its kids, or a generation that thought its parents had it all right, in baseball or otherwise.

As Brien Jackson said the other day at #DMD, the divide between using the kind of statistics that show what did happen and using ones designed to predict what will likely happen is a very real one.

But I’m not sure if there’s really all that much of a fight about that. Even if you’re a person who’d rather depend on RBI and batting average, it shouldn’t take you long to understand where advanced statistics are coming from, at least on a general level. More importantly, if you’re a fan of a team and would like that team to succeed, you probably can at least understand why your front office might be interested in them.

And I don’t think the fight is really about what you see when you watch the game on TV. I think Trey Mancini has an outstanding swing -- quick, level and powerful -- and it’s been fun to watch him play this season. I’m sure every other Orioles fan feels the same way, whether or not they preach analytics. If Mancini slumps, or if his BABIP regresses to the mean next season (there, I said it), that will remain the same.

I think the problem is about communication, the inability of one side to talk to the other in a way that can lead to a mutual understanding. Or maybe it’s about the fact that there don’t have to be only two sides.

There’s a place for learning about something anew and adding it into your knowledge bank, as opposed to simply getting validation for something you already believe.

Baseball, and sports in general, are actually really good places for that nuance, because it’s not a matter of life and death, even for the participants.

So how do we start? Maybe by clearing up misconceptions, including ones that have appeared recently on this website.

First, I think it’s preposterous to say that sabermetric analysis has no “soul.” The people who first analyzed the game that way, and the ones who do now, love baseball more than anyone. Why else would they spend so much time thinking and even obsessing about the game?

Sure, none of them (except for Billy Beane, I guess) played in the Major Leagues; they can’t tell you what it’s like to stare down Zach Britton with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth down by one run. But they’ve never pretended that was their goal.

It’s equally wrong, I think, to suggest that sabermetric analysis is a quest for “perfection.” At its heart, it’s a quest to better explain certain aspects of the game. A player seems good, but why is he good, and for how long might he be good?

A team seems to be outplaying its statistics and talent, or vice versa; for what reason? Most important, I think, is that analytics asks hard questions about the “value” of a player, both on his own and in relation to his team and league.

And the idea that “wins” aren’t valued by modern analytics? That’s only true in the sense that wins (and losses) are obvious; in every game, one team wins and the other loses. Analytics dive deeper, intending to help predict why teams will win or lose. It’s a valuable exercise, one that can help teams get better and help fans understand the game, even if they can’t predict how Manny Machado is feeling that day or if today is going to be the day that one of Caleb Joseph’s softly-hit bloopers falls in for a single instead of landing lazily in the second baseman’s glove.

Is everything in baseball explainable? Certainly not. Is the goal of analytics and modern baseball statistics to explain everything that happens (or will happen) in baseball? Certainly not.

Predictive does not mean perfect, and the use of mathematical concepts doesn’t mean that every explanation is scientific. I really don’t think even the most ardent sabermetrician would disagree.

As far as communication goes, I think a good place to begin would be to watch the game differently, maybe even starting tonight.

That doesn’t mean you have to watch the game sabermetrically, which I’m not sure is really possible. Baseball has rules and a daily narrative, and statistics are only one way to tell the story. If you’re on the other side, I’m not suggesting you jot down that Adam Jones seemed really gutty in that at bat or that Wade Miley could be ok if he just had a little more toughness.

I’m just saying that you should notice something new, maybe that you didn’t think about before. How hard is the other team hitting the ball, and does that correlate at all with the score of the game? If you are at the stadium, pay attention to the positioning of one particular fielder throughout the entire game. Did that make any difference in the number of runs scored?

If you’re watching on TV, might I suggest you turn the sound off completely so you don’t have to listen to Mike Bordick making an excuse for every botched play.

Ok, that last one was a joke. Sort of…

As for writing about the Orioles and baseball in general in a statistical way, I think we need to mix it up.

Since we know that even the best predictive analysis isn’t always right, it’s ok to leave it out sometimes. In fact, we’d like to hear about the players about whom you disagree with the stats, no matter how much you believe in analytics. I was willing to listen to the sabermetric analysis that suggested Nick Markakis was a poor defensive outfielder for the Orioles, for instance, but I never believed it for one second.

Baseball is a sport that has a particularly historic and special relationship with its statistics. The current era of advanced analytics ought to make that relationship even better, not worse. Let’s use them in a way that brings baseball fans together as opposed to breaking them apart.

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the best 34 minutes of the week


We veered off the beaten path a little bit for this week's edition of "The Best 34 Minutes of The Week", but if you're interested in beer -- and who isn't? -- and a discussion about the finer points of craft brewing, #DMD has a special podcast for you.

I checked in with Brandon and Brian at DuClaw -- taste-tested some beers "on the air" (so to speak) and spent an interesting 35 minutes with them talking about beer, brewing and what DuClaw has going on right now.

The podcast is brought to you by Jerry's Toyota and The Baltimore Tent Company.



PODCAST



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Wednesday
July 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 19
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towson, morgan state get it right with football rivalry renewal


I remember the first time I saw Rob Ambrose at his introductory press conference back in December of 2008. It was on that day when he stood at the podium in a room overlooking the football field at Towson University and said, "We're going to win here -- and we're going to win big."

I recall thinking to myself, "This dude's nuts. But I like big dreamers."

Ambrose fulfilled that end of his initial promise, as the Tigers have won and won big over the last decade, advancing to the FCS title game in 2013 before losing to perennial powerhouse North Dakota State.

Rob Ambrose and his Towson University football team will play host to Morgan State on Saturday, September 2nd.

Now, the Towson coach is on to another dream. I really hope this one works out, too.

Yesterday, Towson and Morgan State announced the development of "The Battle for Greater Baltimore", a once-a-year football meeting between the two schools, beginning this upcoming season when the Bears will visit Ambrose and his Tigers on Saturday, September 2nd.

The two schools haven't met since the 2011 campaign.

Now, they plan on facing one another this season and again in 2018, when the game will shift to Morgan's home stadium.

That's the way it should be.

Ambrose has a dream about the Towson and Morgan State game. “My goal is well beyond this game — and it should be yours, too — that by the time we’re a little bit older, the venues that we own won’t hold this game and that this game gets played at M&T [Bank Stadium] in front of the entire city of Baltimore so that for one day and for one day only, it’s our city, it’s our football teams — the way it’s supposed to be — and it’s our community.”

Ambitious? Sure. After all, Towson can't fill their 11,000 seat stadium right now and Morgan State only averages a couple of thousand people per-home game. How will it one day come to pass that the game becomes big enough to move into a 70,000 stadium in downtown Baltimore?

I don't know the answer to that, but I know Ambrose is the kind of guy who doesn't just say stuff to say it. I'm sure he'll be working hard to put people in the seats for this September's game in his stadium.

The local schools in Baltimore should find a way to face one another in every sport, not just football. That our city doesn't have a "Battle of the Beltway" basketball series is laughable. There's no reason why Towson, UMBC, Coppin State, Morgan State and Loyola can't face each other in men's and women's basketball -- in a tournament style setting.

Right now, most of the schools do wind up playing one another at some point, but what's really needed is an early-season, pre-conference-play tournament over two or three days where all the local teams gather to compete and celebrate basketball in Baltimore.

I'm sure the biggest discussion would center on the venue. Towson and Coppin State both have relatively new buildings and UMBC is about ready to open their new arena later this year. The host school could change every year for that matter. Pick a place, start it out there, and move on to another school once the event has blossomed.

In the case of football, Towson and Morgan State are the only two local Division I schools with a program, so putting the series together wasn't all that difficult once they both decided to play one another.

But getting people interested in the game and the series between the two schools won't be as easy.

With the Ravens so embedded into the weekend sports culture in Baltimore, it's difficult to get area football enthusiasts to set aside anywhere from one to six Saturdays for either Towson or Morgan State. That's why scheduling the "Battle" game on a Saturday when the Ravens don't play at home the following day is very important. It's hard enough to get one all-day kitchen pass to go watch the Ravens at home. Getting a Saturday kitchen pass followed by one on Sunday, too? Tough to do.

This year's date is a good one in that it doesn't buck up against the Ravens, although it does fall on Labor Day weekend, when a large number of Baltimore area families are typically enjoying the unofficial final weekend of summer at the beach.

There's an onus on the local sports community to step up and support these local "rivalry games", but getting people in Baltimore to go watch Towson or Morgan State play football -- particularly if you didn't graduate from either school -- is always a challenge. The level of football you'll see when watching either school play is fairly high. Is it akin to watching the Big Ten? Of course not.

But Towson has gone up against the likes of Maryland before and held their own. And they're always in the hunt in the ultra-competitive Colonial Athletic Association, which many believe is the best FCS football conference in the country.

With their students already back in school, Towson should have a decent following available to attend the September 2nd game. But will they come? Or are most of them heading back home for the long weekend?

And how many fans will Morgan State bring five miles up the road to see the Bears play their crosstown rivals?

I don't know what to expect, crowd wise, but I know Ambrose will be out and about trying to drum up interest in the game. Someday, maybe even while he's still coaching, perhaps enough people will be interested in the Towson-Morgan State game that his dream of playing the "Battle of Greater Baltimore" at Ravens Stadium will come true.

I doubted Ambrose once. I don't think I'll do it again.

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the best 34 minutes of the week


We veered off the beaten path a little bit for this week's edition of "The Best 34 Minutes of The Week", but if you're interested in beer -- and who isn't? -- and a discussion about the finer points of craft brewing, #DMD has a special podcast for you.

I checked in with Brandon and Brian at DuClaw -- taste-tested some beers "on the air" (so to speak) and spent an interesting 35 minutes with them talking about beer, brewing and what DuClaw has going on right now.

The podcast is brought to you by Jerry's Toyota and The Baltimore Tent Company.



PODCAST



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appoval in hand, duquette now free to wheel and deal


Orioles owner Peter Angelos has apparently waved the white flag. Or, at the very least, raised it enough so it's visible.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports on Tuesday, Angelos has given Dan Duquette permission to seek trade partners for Oriole relief pitchers plus soon-to-be-free-agent Seth Smith.

Orioles GM Dan Duquette has been given the blessing to make some trade deadline deals, but he might have to act sooner rather than later, as teams are starting to move players now, ten days in advance of the deadline.

It's not known whether Duquette would have to go back to Angelos for approval on a deal involving a starting pitcher, but with rumors persisting that Colorado has an interest in Kevin Gausman and/or Dylan Bundy, Duquette might be making that call to the owner sometime soon.

Whether the Orioles wind up trading away the likes of Britton, O'Day, Bleier or anyone else out of the bullpen, the mere fact that Angelos is willing to bust apart the team in late July is yet another sign that the longtime franchise owner is quietly starting to understand the importance of taking advantage of a "down" season by re-stocking the team's farm system.

It seems like a "major" deal involving the likes of Manny Machado, Adam Jones or Mark Trumbo probably isn't going to happen. But the Orioles can still pick up some nice pieces if they do decide to part ways with Britton, Brach or O'Day. And Seth Smith should fetch something reasonable, particularly if a team is desperate for a fairly reliable left handed bat.

The Orioles aren't going to add Top 5 prospects, like the White Sox just did when they sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, unless they give up something big -- like Britton, for instance -- but just knowing that Duquette is free to make a deal is good enough for me.

And with some teams -- like the Yankees last night -- starting to trade now instead of waiting for the deadline, it's prudent for Duquette to get on the phone ASAP and start trying to line up suitors for the pieces he's willing to move.

New York acquired Todd Frazier and former Yankee David Robertson from the White Sox on Tuesday. Perhaps the Birds didn't want to deal within the division -- and maybe the Yankees would prefer not to do that as well -- but missing out on the chance to send a relief arm to the pitching-starved and prospect-heavy Yankees might be regretted down the road.

Let's see what Duquette does now that he's been given the green light to make some deals. The O's are evaluating Duquette at this point, remember, and how he starts to re-tool the franchise might have a lot to do with whether or not his tenure in Baltimore continues past this season.

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"and your winner of the gold medal and the champion golfer of the year..."


The British Open starts tomorrow at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. It marks the third of the four golfing majors in 2017 and returns the event to one of the best golf courses in England, where any number of players seem poised to potentially break through and capture their first major title.

I gave my "bottom five" players on the leaderboard yesterday. I expect to see these five guys among the leaders as everyone tees off on Sunday: Lee Westwood, Jordan Spieth, Tyrrell Hatton, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose.

Now, for my "top five" and eventual winner of the 2017 British Open.

A playoff loss at St. Andrews back in 2015 was a close call for Marc Leishman. Can he take it one step further in 2017 at Royal Birkdale?

Rickie Fowler is now, officially, "the best player without a major title". Let's hope he doesn't take as long as Sergio Garcia did to shed that label. Fowler is primed to win a major championship, but until he does it, there will be plenty of questions surrounding the snazzy dresser with the active social media following. His record in majors speaks for itself. He gets "there" on Sunday -- now he just needs to win one. I think he'll be in the hunt this time around, too.

Australians have had a solid track record at Royal Birkdale and I think that carries over to 2017, which is one reason why I like the chances of Adam Scott this week. Scott has settled into a career of good golf, but with his immense talent and ball striking skills, there's no way he's going to win just one major championship in his career. He's had a shot at the British Open before but squandered a late 4-shot lead at Royal Lytham back in 2012. This is a great tournament for his qualities. I have an inkling this could be a special week for him.

Shane Lowry said this week it was "love at first sight" when he toured Royal Birkdale for the first time in a practice round. That's not the only reason I like Lowry's chances this week, but it never hurts to see a golf course and have it appeal to your eye and your golfing heart. Lowry is an extremely solid player from tee-to-green. If he gets his putter to cooperate, he has a really good chance to win.

After almost two decades of not winning a major title, how funny would it be to see Sergio Garcia win two majors within three months of one another? That could happen this week, for sure. Garcia is now able to play worry-free golf after capturing The Masters and it's that kind of monkey-off-the-back freedom that might help him win this week at Birkdale. That...and an amazing track record in the British Open, make him a scary-good pick. Expect Garcia to be on the leaderboard all weekend and well into Sunday.

But they're all going to be chasing an Australian on Sunday afternoon. It's time for Marc Leishman to break through and win his first major championship. The 33-year old has a pair of top five finishes at the British Open in the last three years -- including a playoff loss at St. Andrews in 2015 -- and has made the cut in the event four of the six times he's played in it. He's already enjoying a quality PGA Tour season, with a win at Bay Hill back in March against one of the better fields on TOUR in a non-major setting.

Leishman is the real deal. He just needs a major championship to prove it. He gets it this week at Royal Birkdale. Good on ya, mate.


Tuesday
July 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 18
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it's funny the way we see things


I perused the comments last night while watching the end of a rare Orioles win and noted that #DMD writer Brien Jackson was in the midst of a back-and-forth with several commenters about Trey Mancini's value and the use of some analytical baseball data to suggest that Mancini will likely regress over the next couple of years.

I wrote on Sunday that if I ran the Orioles, there would be three players I wouldn't trade -- Mancini, Schoop and Jones -- and everyone else in the organization could be had for the right player or package of players.

Brien, as you'll see below in his piece today on trade deadline possibilities, is open to trading Mancini. I'm not.

It's funny how the generations see sports differently. I saw things differently than my Dad, for example, and I now see things differently than those twenty and thirty years younger than me. Statistics most certainly have a lot to do with it.

When I was growing up, the pitcher's win total was just as important as his ERA. It was a big deal -- a really big one, in fact -- to win 20 games back in the 1970's and 1980's. If you won 20 games in a season, you were legit.

Then along came Rick Helling of the Rangers in 1998, who went 20-7 but posted a miserable 4.41 ERA. And, suddenly, 20 wins didn't mean that much anymore.

It all changed 20 years ago or thereabouts, as bullpens became more and more valuable and starting pitchers who threw complete games were more of a rarity than an Orioles 3-game winning streak in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw has the most wins in the majors (14) right now. Does that make him the best pitcher, though?

Jim Palmer pitched 211 complete games in his career. Yes, that's correct, but you can go ahead and look it up if you'd like. He pitched 211 complete games.

If you're evaluating pitching greatness, a guy like Palmer with 268 career wins, 211 complete games and 2.86 career ERA has to be on anyone's top 25 list. Right? But if you ask someone to list the best 25 pitchers of all-time, you probably wouldn't see #22's name.

Fast forward to 2009, where Felix Hernandez of the Mariners was voted the American League Cy Young winner with a 13-12 record and 2.27 ERA. It might have just been a down year for the A.L. pitching market, but how on earth can a guy who went 13-12 win the award for the best pitching season? Easy answer. No one really cares all that much about pitching wins anymore. They care much more about how many batters you allow on base, how many strikeouts you record and how many walks you surrender.

The generations just see things differently.

Here's what I care about when it comes to hitting: How many times do you get a hit?

I realize walks are sorta-kinda important, too, because getting on base is crucial. A hitter's on-base-percentage is also a critical stat. But when you get up to the plate, your goal is to get a hit. There are times when a hit isn't necessarily needed, like last night in the 6th inning when Jonathan Schoop drove in the O's first run with a sacrifice fly to right field. But Schoop was only modestly successful in that plate appearance. He knocked in a run, yes, but he also recorded the second out of the inning.

I understand that new-age statistics can tell us a lot more about a player's performance than we might have otherwise known a decade or two ago.

But some of those statistics rob you of your ability to see the game play out as your eyes tell you it's being played.

Mancini is an interesting example of that, I'd say.

I see a kid in his first full major league season with lots of potential. I don't look at stats and data that tells me what he might do in the future. I look at what he's doing now, with little experience in the league, and figure there's a pretty decent chance he's only going to get better. I don't think Trey Mancini's going to the Hall of Fame or anything like that. But Nolan Reimold he's not.

Brien (and others of the new generation who understand stats and data far better than me) talks about juiced baseballs and how how many line drives a guy hits, how many fly balls he produces and his batting average on balls in play and tries to look ahead to say, "Those kind of numbers can't continue and here's why". I get it. That's what statistics and data can do if you allow them to.

I watch Mancini hit and I say, "Every ten times he gets up to the plate, he gets a base hit of some kind. That's plenty good enough for me."

I mentioned earlier that Mancini isn't going to the Hall of Fame. Well, if he goes his entire career going 3-for-10, he actually might earn himself a spot in Cooperstown. I don't suspect he will, but that's the difference between "great" and "good". A .300 hitter is great. A .260 hitter is good.

When it comes to pitching, I have one simple stat I follow: How many earned runs did you give up?

A pitcher's goal is to take the mound and not allow the other team to score any runs. That's the way I see it. I do understand that a pitcher can't be knocked -- entirely -- for allowing unearned runs to score, but ERA is the most important statistic available to determine a pitcher's effectiveness.

If Chris Tillman puts 13 runners on base in six innings but allows just one earned run, he has pitched better, in my opinion, than a guy who puts five runners on base but allows three earned runs.

I don't care how many runners get on base as long as they don't score.

Now, I think we're all smart enough to know there's a direct correlation between how many baserunners you allow and how many (earned) runs you give up. The fewer men you allow to reach base, the better chance you have of them not scoring.

But the only statistic that really matters in pitching is how many runs you give up on your dime.

That's the way us old guys see it. The younger generation doesn't agree.

By the way, baseball isn't the only sport that's gone stats-mad. Golf has as well. There are a bunch of new statistics in golf that are deemed to be very important, including "strokes gained putting", which tells a player how many strokes he gains on the field once he reaches the green.

Because putting is everything on the PGA Tour, any sort of data that tells a player how much better or worse he's putting than everyone else seems to be a reasonably interesting piece of data. But it's still not the most important golf stat to me.

The most important statistic in golf still remains this: What was your score today?

If I make 9 birdies and 7 bogies and shoot 2-under par and you make 15 pars and 3 birdies, who played better? I made six more birdies than you. But you shot 69 and I shot 70. Who played better? You did.

There's a saying in golf: "There aren't any pictures on the scorecard". What that says, essentially, is it doesn't matter how the ball gets in the hole, it just matters how many strokes it took to get it in there.

Baseball is very similar. I don't care how hard you hit the ball, what the "exit velocity" was, how many fly balls you hit, or any of that other stupid stuff. I just care about this: When you came up to the plate, you wanted to record a base hit. Did you? If so, you succeeded. There might be an occasion, like I mentioned above, where only a sacrifice fly was needed, thus a hitter would succeed on that occasion without the benefit of a hit.

But all in all, I judge a hitter based on whether or not he did, in fact, record a base hit or, at the very least, reached base via a walk.

We go back to the old strikeout argument again. To me, the worst thing you can do is strikeout. It's total failure. That's why Chris Davis stinks, in my opinion. Once a game, sometimes twice, he strikes out. What value can you possibly have to my team when you're hitting .225 and striking out 210 times a season?

Yet, there are probably statistics in baseball that suggest Davis is a better "hitter" than Mancini, for example. Or Adam Jones. Or Mark Trumbo.

No, no and no. Davis is NOT a better hitter than Mancini, Jones or Trumbo. He hits more home runs than those three, perhaps. But those three guys are going to get more "hits" than Davis every year because they're better hitters.

I'll take Jones on my team. You take Davis on your team. I then know I at least have one better player than you.

I still think pitching wins matter, but that's just me. I understand the antiquated nature of pitching wins as a meaningful statistic given today's reliance on bullpen use, but Clayton Kershaw doesn't really need the bullpen because he's always ahead 6-1 in the 7th inning.

I'll take Kershaw on my team. You can take Dylan Bundy on your team. My team will beat you nearly every time those pitchers oppose one another.

The generations see things differently. That doesn't mean anyone's right or wrong, specifically, but it does mean we put certain values on accomplishments that some before us or after us might not see the same way.

Give me a guy who hits and a guy who doesn't allow the other team to score any runs. You can have everyone else.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports media work with ESPN, CBS and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.

Despite some wishful thinking that they were still in the wild card hunt coming out of the All-Star break, the humiliating three game sweep the Orioles suffered to the Cubs over the weekend dashed any such illusions. Before Sunday's game was over, multiple national reports indicated that the Orioles' stance had changed (or, at least everyone below Peter Angelos, anyway) and the brain trust was open to being sellers at the deadline.

But "selling" can mean a number of things, from a complete rebuild to a short-term reshuffling of assets with an eye on staying in contention in the near term. By all accounts the Orioles (reasonably) are eyeing the latter scenario, and still expect to be title contenders next season.

With that strategy in mind, here's a ranking/evaluation of the Orioles' trade chips, in order of how essential moving them is to the 2018 Orioles. In other words, the ranking metric here isn't the trade value of the player, but how badly the team needs to trade them this month.

If the Orioles move Darren O'Day and Zach Britton at the trade deadline, Brad Brach might be left behind to anchor the Orioles already beleaguered bullpen.

1. Welington Castillo/Seth Smith: Smith and Castillo are the "supporting cast" players who aren't under the Orioles' control for next season, and thus the sort of assets that simply have to be dealt off in any sort of rebuild, major or minor.

Castillo isn't playing up to the career best pace he started the season on, but his performance to date is extremely similar to his production from 2016, which means he's still likely to opt-out of his player option and seek a deal with more than $7 million in guaranteed money.

Smith, by contrast, is a free agent outright after this season.

Neither is going to bring back a top 10 prospect from anyone's system, but as a decent hitting catcher and a solid platoon hitter, each should still find a market in the next two weeks. Ideally, Duquette would get back a fringe pitching prospect who could bolster next season's bullpen or provide some rotation depth in the near term. But ultimately, if the O's are basically conceding the 2017 season, neither Castillo nor Smith have any value to the franchise any more and need to be moved.

2. Darren O'Day: Zach Britton and Brad Brach get the bulk of attention in this discussion, but the relief arm the Orioles need to, erm, relieve themselves of is O'Day.

In maybe the best example of how foolish the team has been in handing out inflated contracts to their own free agents in the past few years, O'Day is being paid like an elite reliever despite career splits against left-handed batters that are good, but not great. To make matters worse, the 34 year old sidearmer has struggled with injuries and an increasing walk rate since signing the new contract, logging just 65 innings pitched in 2016-17, and he's owed $9 million in both 2018 and 2019.

O'Day is basically worthless in terms of prospect value, but what the Orioles need to get from trading him is salary relief.

3. Zach Britton: In terms of moving veterans for prospect talent, Britton is the O's big fish. We've seen the market for relievers at the deadline explode in the past few seasons, as teams who are obviously contenders seek to load up the backend of their bullpens to exploit the playoff schedule that lets you lean hard on your best relief arms.

The Dodgers, for example, are making noise about wanting to add Britton to the league's best team and form a dominant relief duo with Kenley Jansen. It's reasonable to suspect that every other team that views themselves as a serious contender for the World Series would also like to add Britton, especially considering that he's controllable for the 2018 season as well.

That gives Duquette a lot of leverage, both because he'll have a number of teams bidding against each other for his closer, and because he'll be able to walk away from the table if he can't get the to 15-20 prospect he needs in return, safe in the knowledge that, in the worst case scenario, he'll have another crack at dealing Britton for a strong return this time next year.

4. Brad Brach: The third leg in the Orioles' trifecta of relief chips, Brach is also the guy who seems to get most of the trade attention from Orioles' fans on social media, but also the one I see as most likely to stay in town for the 2018 season.

Like Britton, he's still controllable through arbitration for next season, but his salary is likely to come in at less than half of Britton's. And while he's a very good, maybe even great, reliever, he's probably not perceived as being in the elite tier like Britton is, or like Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller were in 2016.

Because of that, I don't think another team is going to be willing to part with the sort of prospects Duquette is likely to want for Brach this year. If the team is looking at a short-term rearranging of the roster and not a full on rebuild, meaning they plan on contending next season, Brach is a very affordable option to be the team's closer and, like Britton, Duquette will get another crack at trading him next July if things don't work out.

I think given his druthers, Duquette would trade Britton and O'Day for a boat full of prospects and salary relief, and keep Brach around as the bullpen's anchor.

5. Trey Mancini: This one will be controversial, but looking long term the team would do themselves well to think about swapping their breakout rookie for a youngster with higher positional value. With Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo around Mancini becomes a player largely relegated to left field duties, and the Orioles are quietly amassing a decent stockpile of outfield prospects, and may well end up adding a top outfield prospect if they trade Britton and/or Brach this month.

Meanwhile, below Mancini's top line numbers are a bunch of red flags. He strikes out nearly 5 times as much as he walks, his BABIP is at five all-time levels, and he's hitting fly balls out of the park at roughly the same rate that Barry Bonds did over his entire career (and despite that fact, his slugging percentage is only .522 entering play on Monday).

There isn't a need to trade Mancini by any means, but with a number of contenders looking to add outfielders (in particular all 3 of the NL West teams are reportedly chasing Tigers' slugger J.D. Martinez) and Mancini's cost and controllable status making him uniquely attractive, the team might be able to find a bonanza of a deal that returns the pitching/infield prospect they desperately need right now.

6. Chris Tillman: In most years, Tillman would be one of the top rental pitchers available at the deadline. This year, thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness, he's essentially untradeable. The team still needs to listen to offers on him, obviously, and there's at least a theoretical possibility that some playoff bound team thinks he'll get right by the time October rolls around and would be a usefull 4th starter type for them.

But realistically, Tillman's value at this point is in the fact that the Orioles can make him a qualifying offer after the season and his past performance means that won't preclude him from finding a contract anywhere else. The supplemental first round pick that will bring back is worth more than anything the O's can get in a trade for Tillman right now.

7. Manny Machado: Yes, in your most fevered dreams you can imagine Machado being traded for a franchise defining prospect haul that forms the foundation of the club for the better part of a decade. He's certainly valuable enough to justify asking for that kind of haul.

But the thing is, those kinds of trades just don't happen, as no one is ever willing to give up that kind of "Herschel Walker haul" in practice. But from the Orioles' perspective, they can't settle for any less than that.

Any team that hypothetically acquired Machado wouldn't just be getting a player who can help them win next year, but an MVP candidate for 2018 and the right to exclusively negotiate a long term extension with him for 15 months. The O's have around $60 million in payroll scheduled to come off the books after this season, and may free up more if Britton/Brach/O'Day are traded. That gives them a lot of flexibility to take a real run at locking Manny up for the long term this winter, and if that isn't doable they'll have a lot of room to add free agents for a reloaded run next season.

In the worst case scenario the team has a legitimate shot at contending in 2018 with Machado, and if next season goes like this one has they can still get a sizeable return on him at next year's deadline. But there's basically no way the team could trade him this year and not regret the move five or six years down the road.

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british open top ten


Yes, I know, it's no longer called "The British Open".

Except in the U.S., that is.

Over there, they simply call it "The Open Championship" because they just assume everyone else in the world knows they're playing a significant golf tournament somewhere in the U.K. in the third week of July.

I call it "The British Open" because that's what it was before they got all pretentious on us.

He hasn't missed a cut in a major since 2014. Jordan Spieth seems poised to play well at Royal Birkdale in this week's British Open, where he would be three quarters of the way to the career Grand Slam with a win.

This year's tournament is being played at the best course I've personally ever played, Royal Birkdale, in Southport, England. People always ask me what my favorite course is (that I've played). I've been fortunate enough to play Pine Valley, Bethpage, Plainfield, Royal Lytham and a few others that have hosted significant events or major championships, but none have ever been as good as Royal Birkdale.

If you look back at recent British Opens there, long hitters aren't required for winning. Ian Baker Finch won at Birkdale in 1991. He couldn't hit it out of his shadow. Same goes for Mark O'Meara, who won in 1998 and was always "middle of the pack" in driving distance. And Padraig Harrington was the most recent winner at Birkdale back in 2008 and he's never been a big bomber.

Length coupled with accuracy never hurt anyone, just ask Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka, the two most recent U.S. Open winners, but this week at Birkdale, you just need to put the ball in play in the fairway and get it on the green in regulation. A few putts here and there will then make the difference.

With that, it's a wide open field. I'll give you five players to watch in today's edition of #DMD and five more -- plus the projected winner -- tomorrow.

I've been putting Lee Westwood in my Masters and British Open top 10's for a few years now and I guess I'll continue to do so until he retires. At some point, I believe Westwood is going to break through and win his first major. It could come this week at Birkdale. Much like Darren Clarke did back in 2011 when he won his first (and only) major at Royal St. George's, Westwood might just have one of those weekends where it all comes together for him. He drives it straight and has a terrific iron game. Putting and chipping have been his nemesis over the years. The time might be right for "Westy" to break through, finally.

I didn't have Jordan Spieth in my U.S. Open top ten last month and he made me look good by slogging it around Erin Hills and never really factoring in the event. I don't see him struggling this time, though, unless he gets the bad end of a crappy weather draw. Spieth won last month at The Travelers in Connecticut and looks to have his putting straightened out after some early season woes with the flat stick. Expect him to be on the leaderboard heading into the weekend. And don't be shocked if he's in the final group or two on Sunday.

There's always an Englishman or two on the first page of the leaderboard that you don't know much about at the British Open and I suspect this year won't be any different. Enter Tyrrell Hatton, who is ranked #23 in the world and seems primed to shine on the big stage at some point very soon. We don't know much about him here in the U.S., but he's a very talented player with impressive numbers thus far in 2017. He finished T4 in the U.S. in both the Honda and Bay Hill back in February/March and posted a nice 10th place showing in the WGC event in Mexico in March. He's the real deal.

Brooks Koepka hasn't done much since winning the U.S. Open last month, but that doesn't mean he can't win this week at Birkdale. He most certainly can. If Koepka's able to drive it this week the way he did at Erin Hills, we might be looking at back-to-back major wins for the American. The thing is, he doesn't even have to hit it that far to win this week. Accuracy matters more than length at Birkdale, but if Koepka's pounding it 335 yards in the middle of the fairway, that sort of game travels well anywhere.

You have to think Justin Rose has a great chance to win this week. There's nothing suspect about his game, he has a major win (U.S. Open) under his belt, and he nearly won this year's Masters before losing to Sergio Garcia in a playoff. Oh, and he's English. He knows how to play courses like Birkdale. This, in fact, is his 3rd British Open at the course, as he also played in 1998 and 2008. If you have some money to spare and you'd like a solid betting choice, this is one of the guys to go with.

Glory
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#dmd comments


John Pusateri     July 23
Speith might be the Don Stanhouse of golf.



And a fresh Dempsey coming onto the pitch against a tired defense is just what the doctor ordered in last night's win for the USMNT. Pulisic, Nagbe and Dempsey might be the only guys who can create offensively for the US.

eric     July 23
the O's should be selling faster than Randolph and Mortimer but Drew is clearly missing a major point- all the guys these teams want are signed thru next year. Come December more teams have payroll flexibility and the desperation to make a splash and sell season tix. Not to mention every year we see quality players dealt after Aug 1st. No problem with Duquette telling teams hey we're buying so either knock our socks off now or pay thru the nose in December. I'm guessing somebody like LA blows us away for Britton on the 31st

unitastoberry     July 23
Interesting state of the Orioles yesterday. But not an interesting outcome with the Astros they are good they could win it all. I have opined that O'Day is O'Doules now a couple of time this season. I think age is creeping in on him at 34. But the at bat where he gave up the pinch hit home run was after a long injury time out when a foul ball hit that guys eye. By the way how is that guy? He needed to go to the hospital asap thats for sure.

BJ     July 23
Do you really want DD telling his potential trade partners what his intentions are? And just last week didn't slimebag Rosenthal breathlessly "report" that PGA gave DD "permission' to trade veterans? And it's a laughable notion that any GM listen to "prominent national baseball writers", those guys look for twitter hits as desperately as the Little Fella

Bob from Hereford     July 23
Dan is saying what Peter wants him to say!!!!!!!

Uncle leo     July 22
What, no soccer coverage??

Aaron     July 22
How's that Fleishman guy doing?

Brien Jackson     July 22
I don't in principle have a problem with trying to bunt for a hit IF YOU'RE A REALLY GOOD BUNTER. Not just "can make contact and put it in play" good but someone who is actually better than average at putting a bunt in a particular spot. Adam Jones does this every now and then, he's pretty good at it, and it works reasonably well. That's totally fine.



But there's long been this idea that if these power hitters would just stop swinging for the fences and put one on the ground they'd be getting on base all the time, and that just ignores that you still have the pitcher and catcher there to field a bunt that isn't perfectly placed. So not only are you conceding extra bases, but even if you get the bunt down it's still going to be an out somewhere around 80-90% of the time. The way to beat the shift is hitting the ball to the outfield and making it irrelevant.

DR (the original)     July 22
This isn't totally related to Davis last night, just my opinion.

In the American League in the year 2017, there is only one situation where I think it's ok for any player to bunt for any reason:

You are at home, in a "walk-off" situation, and you have runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out and want to sacrifice. And even then, I want it to be somebody that's at least moderately proficient as a bunter.

In the AL, you never play for one run, except in that situation.

If you bunt for a hit unsuccessfully, or sacrifice bunt, at any point before the 8th inning, the kangaroo court should fine you.

Brien Jackson     July 22
Bunt it's not just "get a bunt down" and success. The ball still has to be placed down the line and make it past the mound tavoid the pitcher and catcher making the play. If placing bunts was that easy EVERYONE should do it when the 3B is playing deep.

BJ     July 22
Just to show how fair and balanced I am, I totally AGREE with Brien on Davis bunting. To me, I hear his quote as "I felt like I was going to get out anyway, why not try something different.

unitastoberry     July 22
If I can bunt and theres nobody at third base I dont care if I'm the Babe its going down there on the correct occasions. Its called baseball and its a kids game its not rocket science like so many young people want to make it out to be.

Brien Jackson     July 22
Bunting against the shift as a power hitter is an awful play that advantages the defense and has a low chance of success anyway. It should never be done.

unitastoberry     July 22
Davis tried to bunt early in the game which was good. But he clearly has problems laying it down. Keep practicing Chris. Nice rally in the 9th but bottom line is we got Ubaldoed yet again. There is no quit in the Showalter Orioles.

BJ     July 22
You all realize EVERY MLB teams has homer announcers these days, right? Do you ever check out other team's broadcasts on MLB network? Not saying it's not totally unprofessional, embarrassing and annoying as hell, just saying it's not unique to the O's. Palmer does mildly criticize at times, which is refreshing, but like OVERDON, hate when he comes out with his catch phrase "there you go"

Ron K.     July 22
I love how people will criticize Jim Palmer, yet, they tolerate guys like Jim Hunter, Mike Bordick, and Rick Dempsey who tend to blame every Oriole loss on umpires, rain, the Trump administration, global warming, Putin, Hillary's emails, the Baltimore police force, etc.

mike from catonsville     July 22
I screamed at the tv and lit up my friends with texts when Davis tried to bunt. We paid him $160 mil to hit hr's not bunt. Like Chazz Reinhold would say "what an idiot".



Looks like Phil may need to put a call into Bones.

Beulah     July 22
I’m 97 years old. I live on the third floor [or maybe it’s the fourth, I don’t know] of an old-folks home in central Florida. I’ve been declared incompetent by the court and am no longer responsible for my debts. I’ve been stripped of my right to enter into binding contracts. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know what day it is and I don’t know or even care who the president is. But when that nice young man named Bobby comes every morning to advise us on what sports to watch on TV, and who asks if we would like to invest in which team will win that day, I have to smile. Even if I have no teeth. There is a team on the West Coast, or maybe it’s the East Coast, called the O’s, and for whom a player named U. Jimenez pitches. When I see that he is in the lineup, I tell Bobby that I want to invest in the other team. Bobby tells me that I have to invest a lot more than I might get back. I used to understand math many years ago. But I’ve forgotten anything I ever knew. All I know is, when I invest in the other team, I almost always win. The next day after a game, Bobby always seems mad when he gives me my profit, even though it was he who told me how much I had to invest. Bobby is a nice young man. But sometimes I think he is not real good at what he does now. Maybe he’ll give up trying to fleece the public, and get a real job for which he's qualified, like as a general manager of a baseball team.

over40Don     July 21
At this point there have to be a couple guys in the minors that can pitch 3-4 innings and not give up 5 runs. Heck they might go 4-5 innings giving up a few runs. Ubaldo and Miley have to GOOOOO!!!!

Vince     July 21
I didn't have a problem with Vick's comments. If CK can't be a starting QB anymore DUE TO HIS SKILLSET or lack thereof, he needs to market himself another way. As a backup, he would need to be a good locker room guy and one who can help a young QB learn the NFL and how to be a good pro. An idiot who just wants to attract attention to himself for whatever platform he chooses to support is not a good fit for either of those tasks. I think he would be a sufficient backup for a good many years, but he comes off as a locker room cancer and a magnet for press. Not ideal for a team looking for role players. That being said, I support him speaking out for what he thinks is wrong and I applaud him taking a stand (or a knee). I'm sure he's weighed what it might cost to do so and chose to do what he's done. The problem with that is, you just need to accept the consequences when they come unless you are being treated unfairly. I don't think he is. If a team wants to pay you to play football, concentrate on being the best football player you can be. I'm not sure he's given himself the best opportunity to do that with all the constant distractions every time he steps on a field or in front of a camera or microphone.

Brien Jackson     July 21
1. I'm 99% sure the Ravens plan all along has been for Alex Lewis to replace Wagner just as Wagner replaced Oher, and unless someone unexpectedly gets cut they're not even thinking about signing a tackle right now. A center/guard if anything.



2. To state the obvious, the problem with Michael Vick's comments is that he's a convicted dogfighter who's admitted to hanging, drowning, mutilating, and otherwise torturing and brutalizing animals. Him tsk-tsking others for their hair, clothes, whatever without a hint of self-awareness is pretty irritating.

Karl in Idlewylde     July 21
Please, dear God - trade Manny while we still can get value for him. The last four games were nice, but they're going to have to have one heckuva hot streak to be truly"in" this thing. I look at the first wild card as viable, but not the second, and 5 1/2 to Tampa is a lot to make up, never mind the other competition.

TimD in Timonium     July 21
Drew, great podcast. Who doesn't think that beer and sports go together? Looking for some Lawn Dart today.

unitastoberry     July 21
Having watch most of the Orioles games this season I can tell you Texas was the worst team we have faced in 2017 and for sure the worst overall pitching. They look like they have packed it in . The good news is the As are maybe just as bad and we have yet to play them. I'm still a seller of a few pieces.

ray ray     July 21
George you let that fish get away. didn't set the hook.You should have allowed him to run with the line for a while before pulling him up short.

George     July 20
@Brien -- Let's have some long-term fun with this. Tell me what the BOOPBOOPBEDOO tells you Mancini will hit (average) in his regression year of 2018. When you send that, I'll craft a wager you can accept or reject.

mike from catonsville     July 20
@The Other Guy- I never offered any bet, merely accepted the offer but I don't remember who it was that was trying to call me out on Trumbo NOT hitting 40 "jumbos" this year. They (whomever) were insistent enough to offer some type of wager. But....they have never owned up to challenging me. Why? Don't know, embarrassed maybe?



BTW, hows that working out for me, although I wish I were proven wrong.

KVV from SP     July 20
I have no trouble listening to Palmer, at least he calls it like it is. I don't think Dave's statement about Bordick is joke either, that guy bleeds orange!! Next time he's on try to count how many times he says..."in the zone" and "great" drives me CRAZY!!!

Chris in Bel Air     July 20
I don't understand the point on the Mancini debate. I see him hitting the ball hard to all fields. He has decent power and gets on base. He's nice young player for the O's - something they desperately need. Will he sustain this same level of performance next year and years beyond? I don't know. Even if does come back to earth some, what does that mean? He is a bum and not worth being in a line up because he is hitting .270 instead of .300?

over40Don     July 20
Am I the only one here that has trouble listening to Palmer say 50 times a broadcast "then again" or "again" ? Jim Palmer was tremendous to watch as I grew up and pretended to be grown up, but I find his monotone delivery and constant use of the above monotonous.

I think David R. would make a fine peacemaker or diplomat, great article.

Theotherguy     July 20
We need MFC and Brien to hook up somehow so they can place these phantom internet comment board "bets" against each other

that guy     July 20
So the fancy pants metrics tell us Mancini will not be the next Hank Aaron? Phew, good thing we have all that insightful data to tell us, otherwise we’d be starting on his plaque already.

On the other hand, these same metrics apparently tell us Joey Votto is one of the “greatest hitters of all time”. Gotcha.


Brien Jackson     July 20
To be clear I'm not talking about this season. Mancini's underlying peripherals are unusual but not unheard for a single season by any stretch (Josh Hamilton had a .390 BABIP in his 2010 MVP season, 8 guys had a BABIP of .370 or higher in 2015, 6 did it last year, and 13 guys have hit that mark this season. But out of 27 people in that grouping, there's no one who's on the list more than once. Joey Votto came close, going from .371 to .366 from 2015 to 2016 but a) he's one of the best hitters to ever play and b) his BABIP is .286 this year.



So tl;dr you can definitely sustain Mancini's current performance for a single season, but it's basically impossible to do it over two or three seasons.

DR (the original)     July 20
Listened to Monty on the Open coverage this morning with Mike Tirico. I thought he was pretty good. Funny and pretty insightful.

George     July 20
@Brien - I truly commend you for having the courage to back your opinion with cash! So few do.

What odds are you giving that Mancini will not finish this regular season hitting .280 or above; and .290 or above; and .300 or above?

Ron Mexico     July 20
Much like Ellis Boyd Redding, I am rehabilitated. There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. I look back at the way I was, a young stupid kid that committed that crime, I wanna try to talk some sense to him. But I can't. That kids long gone and this old man is all that's left.



On another note, "I'd still hit it".

George     July 20
@David Rosenfeld -- Good column. I say that sabermetrics are garbage. We have been presented with a prediction they make: that Trey Mancini will "regress" because his BEBIMBOP is too high or too low or too something.

I disagree, based on a generalized gut feeling. I say Mancini will hit .300 or close to it for his career, or at least the next five years.

So here we have number crunching that wants to be a science, and human instinct that everyone knows is NOT a science, and each makes a prediction. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.


Brien Jackson     July 20
@George



My offer to bet on Mancini's future performance still stands.

Tom J     July 20
Love Ben on the broadcasts. I have to disagree with you Drew. I listened to Dave Johnson the other day driving home and he was horrible....JMO. Monty is a miserable sour puss douche...!!!!! Observed him for 3 days at the Senior Players and i don't know how he didn't die in that heat carrying all of that weight.

H     July 20
Palmer was far and away the best pitcher on that 1975 staff. as well as the best pitcher in MLB. But without that defense Torres may have had an ERA of 3.56, Cuellar 4.16, and Grimsley 4.57.

unitastoberry     July 20
Looks like Ron Mexico is now giving out free advice for losers by losers. He needs to crawl back under his rock.

Bordicks much better now than when he first started out on the air. He has his moments especially when he's with Hunter .I'm not crazy about McDonald either. None of these guys even Palmer can entertain like Eckman did in the booth.

Don't start thinking the Orioles are coming out of a deep sleep trade Britton for at least 3 prospects one being a hi level one.




John Pusateri     July 20
Apologies DF, but the statement of "..."here's what you're going to wear all four days of the British Open and we're going to publicize it", I think I'd have to pull rank on them at that point. " make it sound like you are "pulling rank on them" for both of their requests.


Seymour Greene     July 20
Since Mike Bordick was mentioned I have to vent. Why must he always say "punch out" instead of "strike out". It is beyond annoying. Besides "punch out" is only slang for a called strike 3 anyway but he uses it for all strike outs.

Pat     July 20
Agree with you Drew on the golf clothes. Remember when they brought the Super Bowl trophy to the Ravens complex the week before Super Bowl 47 and Ray Lewis told everyone they weren't allowed to touch it? Showing what golf clothes you're going to wear for Sunday's final round a month before the tournament seems really strange to me.



Don't know that I agree on the Pirates though. The Cubs are going to run away with that division now.

DF     July 20
@Steve in Vero and @John Pusateri -- you guys need to read better.



I didn't say I would object to what they picked for me to wear.



I said I would object to them PUBLISHING in advance of the tournament what I was going to wear for all four days when I'm not guaranteed to play all four days.

Davey     July 20
@H: You cite Palmer's 1975 ERA of 2.09 as being misleading because he had a great defense behind him. Brooks, Belanger, etc. But if the great defense explains it, why didn't the other starters have great ERA's that year? Torres, Cuellar, and Grimsely had ERA's of 3.06, 3.66 and 4.07, respectively, with the exact same defense. And yet Palmer's ERA was one full run lower than the 2nd best pitcher on the team that year. I give that credit to him.




Steve from Vero Beach     July 20
@ Drew, You are not pulling rank on NOBODY !!! If you made what Under Armour is paying Jordon Spieth to wear there line of clothes you would not complain at all. Drew, you talk a good game but, if Under Armour had a line of toilet paper, guess what, you would be wiping your butt with it for 4 days !!! These guys make more from there sponsors than they will ever make hitting a golf ball, nice try !!!

John Pusateri     July 20
Come on Drew. If Nike and UA were signing multi-million dollar checks and asked you to wear a pink tutu,you'd say "which day". ;)

George     July 19
These predictive sabermetrics may just be right after all. I note their use by some here to predict a slide in Trey Mancini’s future production.

Mancini’s average has plummeted since the All-Star break, from a lofty .304 to a dismal .309.

His OBP, although it has climbed, is only a measly .352, dead last on the team except for all the other regular players.

How anyone could stay in the bigs with a pathetic OPS of .887, again dead last on the team but for all the other regulars, is a mystery.

I guess you could rightly and truly say that Mancini is to the better Orioles as Mt. Pleasant is to other local golf courses.

Because, as sophisticated and knowledgeable sports fans who recognize and know quality, we can ignore what our eyes see and our experience and actual statistics tell us, and substitute unsupported opinion, arrogant arguments, and voodoo science.

-----

Trey Mancini is the real deal.

DR (the original)     July 19
It's great if Towson and Morgan want to play every year. They are the only two who play football. It makes total sense, as you say.

In basketball, it doesn't make as much sense. Morgan and Coppin play in the same league, so they would never be in a tournament together. If you want to add Navy (same league as Loyola), UMES (same as Morgan/Coppin) and the Mount (longstanding rivalry with Loyola almost always played on the same weekend in December) it makes it even worse.

Plus, the schools have no interest in it. MEAC schools have to play a lot of guarantee ($$) games...playing 2 or 3 local games cost them a lot of money. Loyola, UMBC and Towson have been pretty good about playing each other recently, and that should continue. Navy might be in Annapolis but it's not really a MD school...their view isn't local. They host a tournament where they bring in Ohio State and UNC, etc; what would possess them to want to be in a local tournament?

Monday
July 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 17
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vollerthum cashes in on once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with mccarron


This story could easily be turned into a feature film.

It's that good. And that improbable.

Scott McCarron won Sunday's Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley by one shot over Bernhard Langer and Brandt Jobe. It was McCarron's fourth Champions Tour win and his first major title.

The victory helped overshadow a controversial week for McCarron (and Langer), who was forced to issue a statement last Monday in response to a critical piece authored by The Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee about McCarron's use of the long putter and the application of the "anchoring rule" that goes along with using a putter of that length.

Caddie Evan Vollerthum of Fallston smiles at the trophy presentation after Scott McCarron's win at Caves Valley on Sunday.

McCarron somehow overcame the whispers and hung around the leaderboard long enough to take advantage of two rare mistakes from Langer, who was seeking his fourth consecutive Senior Players title. Langer hit his tee shot in the water at #17, then missed a four foot bogey putt, and lipped out a six foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have sent the tournament to a playoff.

But wait...we haven't even reached the "good stuff" yet.

McCarron's caddie for the event at Caves Valley was a 33-year old Fallston native who spent six years in Los Angeles caddying at Bel Air Country Club before returning home in April to re-establish himself in his hometown and caddie at Caves on a regular basis.

Full disclosure: Seven years ago, Evan Vollerthum caddied for me in a Maryland Open qualifier at Rolling Road Golf Club.

Yesterday, he caddied for the winning player in the Constellation Senior Players Championship.

That's quite a difference in caddie experience, I'd say.

Evan got the call on Wednesday morning after McCarron's regular caddie had to return home following the death of his father. At first, Vollerthum was scheduled to caddie only in Wednesday's Pro-Am, but by the time they reached the 8th green, McCarron had offered him the full tournament gig.

"Initially he told me I'd just have the bag for the Pro-Am and that his wife, Jenny, was going to caddie in the tournament itself," Vollerthum told #DMD last night via phone. "I didn't fuss about it when he said that, but I knew I could convince him I was the right guy for the job and suddenly after the 8th hole, he offered me the bag for the next four days."

McCarron could see right away that Vollerthum knew his way around Caves Valley. "He had me helping out on 12 to 14 greens a day," the caddie said last night. "I gave him a really good read on Friday after the thunderstorm. He made a 35 footer for par on the 18th green and it was the first time in the two days I gave a little fist pump. I felt like I had made a contribution with the read I gave him and he nailed the putt. That was big for us."

With Langer at 18-under heading into Sunday's final round and McCarron at 12-under, Vollerthum assumed his player would need something short of a miracle to get back in the hunt. "We figured the worst Langer would shoot would be 68. That would get him to 22-under. We'd have to shoot 62 to get there and force a playoff. It can be done, but we knew it was a longshot."

Langer didn't make a putt of any length all day and was only a couple of shots under par, while McCarron started making front nine birdies and climbing up the leaderboard. "We birdied 9 and 10 and we were a couple of shots behind at that point and I thought, 'Here we go...we might be on to something,'" Vollerthum said.

When McCarron was on 18 green, they were alerted to the fact that Langer had just made double bogey at #17 after hitting his tee shot in the water. "We just kept plugging away, trying to put the best score up we could," the caddie remarked. "It all worked out."

Vollerthum's pay for the five days of work remains a secret, but the typical caddie pay scale is 5% of a player's earnings for the week plus a flat "fee" of roughly $1,500 for the entire week. If a player finishes in the top 10 the percentage goes up to 7% and if he happens to win, the payment is 10% of the earnings.

"The money's nice, I won't lie about that," Vollerthum said last night. "But the most important thing is the validation of all the years of caddying that I've done just to get to this point. And to get Scott's bag and be there for his victory is really special."

Vollerthum won't have much time to celebrate. He'll be on a Monday morning flight for Alabama, where he'll caddie this week in the PGA Tour event that's playing opposite the British Open. He'll be on Frank Lickliter's bag, whom he has caddied for over the last several years at various stages of Lickliter's career on the PGA and Web.com Tour.

Such is the life of a professional caddie. To make a living, they need a bag to carry and a player to help. Yesterday it was McCarron, today it will be Lickliter. If nothing else, though, Vollerthum promises to be quite the attraction at Caves Valley for the remainder of the summer.

"I had so many friends out there this week cheering me on, wishing me well...it was something I'll always cherish," Vollerthum said.

After carrying Lickliter's bag this week, Vollerthum will return to Caves Valley to caddie starting next Tuesday, July 25th. When asked if he thought perhaps he might get a special parking spot or anything else of note from the club for his win with McCarron, Evan shrugged it off. "I don't know. I think it all worked out great for everyone. I don't need anything else. This was like a dream come true for me. That's good enough."

Any professional caddie knows the player hits all the shots and gets most or all of the credit. But a professional golfer knows a quality caddie can help with a shot or two during a round that might make the difference between winning and losing.

"What a crazy week," Vollerthum said. "How do you explain it? I was just in the right place at the right time with a guy who was playing great. I'm just thrilled to play a small part in it."

Let's start casting the movie and hiring a producer. That was one hell of a final scene on Sunday.

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among whispers they're "selling", orioles get embarrassed by cubs (again)


With several national baseball writers indicating the Orioles are going to be "sellers" at the trade deadline in two weeks, the Birds continued to give themselves every reason to begin a rebuilding era by getting blanked by the Cubs on Sunday at Camden Yards, 8-0.

Chicago hit 10 home runs in the 3-game series.

The Cubs won all three games, naturally, and outscored the O's 27-11 along the way.

Are the Orioles willing to part with one of the game's best closers and begin the rebuilding process? Some industry experts are saying "yes, they are".

No Orioles starter made it to the 6th inning over the weekend.

It's beyond ugly, now.

The Birds are now a season-worst seven games under .500 at 42-49. Oh, and here come the Texas Rangers for four games and then the Houston Astros arrive to pile on for three more games this coming weekend.

If the reports are true that the Orioles are interested in "selling", we'll have to see how the story plays out given the cryptic nature of quotes attributed to Dan Duquette. "Pending approval from ownership" was the sentence that caught everyone's eye. That means, of course, that Duquette is likely of the mindset that the time is right to move some veteran players and restock the team's depleted farm system with some quality prospects -- but owner Peter Angelos might not be thinking the same way.

The Orioles, meanwhile, continue to lose games with the very players they're afraid to deal to another team. Weird, right?

Ubaldo Jimenez was useless on Sunday, but no worse, really, than Wade Miley on Saturday or Kevin Gausman on Friday. All three of them stunk. And the Cubs' starter on Sunday, Jose Quintana, was terrific. That's never a good formula -- your pitcher can't get anyone out and the other team's pitcher gets everyone out. You're losing most of the time when that happens.

Whether or not the Orioles do wind up "selling" at the deadline, the 2017 campaign is two or three weeks from being over. Once they're 48 and 60, which they probably will be, you can start getting your ten Ravens tailgate parties organized and decide who brings the food and drinks to the stadium.

In fairness to the Birds, we haven't seen this sort of collapse from them in a long time. They've been competitive every season since 2012, which can't be overlooked or downplayed given how awful they were from 2000 through 2012.

This kind of season was always a possibility. A mixed-bag in the starting rotation, some wear and tear on a few veteran players, and a "home run or bust" offensive philosophy -- it all adds up to the Orioles "profile" finally catching up to them.

But while we're disappointed to see them implode in 2017, let's remember they've done a lot of winning over the five seasons previous to this one.

That's one of the reasons why I'm on board with a major "selling" spree. I see where they've been and I appreciate the "rebirth" -- if you will -- of the franchise over the last five years. But this team, with this roster, and this talent, isn't beating anyone of note.

So, it's time to ship off a few valuable pieces, perhaps begrudgingly, and start over again.

I'm good with it.

After all, we're not winning with the current 25-man roster anyway.

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dechambeau wins one for those who "do it differently"


Bryson DeChambeau birdied the 17th and 18th holes on Sunday to win his first PGA Tour event, capturing the John Deere Classic and earning one of the final available spots in this week's British Open.

That DeChambeau won isn't a complete shock. He's been a "winner" in golf for the last three years, capturing the NCAA Individual title and the U.S. Amateur within three months of one another in 2015, then capturing a late-season Web.com event last Fall.

With a win at yesterday's John Deere Classic, Bryson DeChambeau is now exempt for all four major championships in 2018.

But his short time on the PGA Tour has been met with disappointment. Until yesterday, that is.

DeChambeau stormed past Patrick Rodgers on the back nine, hitting a remarkable 3-wood from 260 yards out on the par-5 17th to set-up a two-putt birdie, then rolling in a 14-foot birdie putt at the final hole. The final hour of play confirmed that DeChambeau's recent work with his swing and his putter are both paying off.

He's mostly known for his analytical, stats-driven style that includes a devotion to a long-ago published book called The Golfing Machine by a little known swing guru named Homer Kelley. And DeChambeau is the only player on the PGA Tour who plays with irons that are all the same length (a standard 6-iron length).

His golf swing is remarkably consistent. While there are some things about his clubs, putting and golf philosophies that might be a tad "different", one thing that isn't odd is his swing. He's one of the game's best ball strikers already, at 23 years of age.

“People may think my golf swing is really weird and funky, but I think it's one of the most consistent swings out here," DeChambeau said in Sunday's post-round press conference. "If you look at in its entirety in slow motion, there are not very many moving parts."

Like most players looking to break through, putting has been what's held him back as a professional. He tried the long putter with no success, then went to side-saddle style before running into an issue with the USGA earlier this season.

"I've worked hard on every component of my game," DeChambeau said yesterday. "But let's face it. The guy who makes the most putts wins. That was me today. I'm beyond blessed."

DeChambeau wants the win to mean something to amateur golfers who are still trying to figure out the game. "I want them to know how important it is for you to find your own style, your own pace, if you will, and just go out there and work on it until you perfect it," he said. "That doesn't mean you have to find the perfect swing. You have to find the swing that's perfect for you. There are lots of different ways to do it. I want people to know that."

While watching yesterday's senior tournament with me at Caves Valley, my friend Dale Williams asked an interesting question as we observed Jose Maria Olazabal putting out on the 16th green.

"I'd love to ask those guys how much better their golf was once they won on Tour, established themselves, and started making enough money that they knew their income wasn't a concern. How much better did they get once they knew they could provide for their family, buy a nice house, live a comfortable life..."

I thought of that last night while watching the replay of the John Deere Classic and seeing DeChambeau win the title and then break down in tears at the trophy presentation.

How much better is he going to be now, knowing he has exempt status on TOUR for the next two seasons? How much better will he be with millions of dollars flowing into his bank account?

Some players win once and can't find it again.

It's hard to believe DeChambeau is going to fall into that place. He's been winning significant golf tournaments for a while now, and yesterday's triumph at the John Deere confirms what a lot of people already knew: The golf ball doesn't know who's hitting it, where they're from, how old they are, or how much money they have. If you can strike it well and putt it well, the ball will obey you.

DeChambeau will win again, maybe sooner rather than later. He's figured out how to do it "his way". It's a great lesson for everyone out there.

JERRY'S
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Sunday
July 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVI
Issue 16
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jones, mancini and schoop stay -- everyone else is available


With a little more than two weeks before the trade deadline comes and goes, the Orioles really need to face reality.

It was a nice little run for five years, but it's time to start re-tooling for the future.

This 2017 edition of the Orioles can't win. And there's nothing other than blind optimism that would suggest they could win next year with this current roster.

Last night's 10-3 pasting at the hands of the Cubs was just another one of those nights where Baltimore's starting pitching was a complete wreck. Sure, it didn't help that Jake Arrieta made his return to Camden Yards and shut down the Birds on two hits in 6.2 innings of work, but this one, again, was all about the O's lack of quality mound work.

He hasn't had a great 2017 campaign to date, but former Oriole Jake Arrieta tamed his former team last night on just two hits in 6.2 innings as the Cubs blasted the Birds, 10-3.

This time, Wade Miley was the victim. He didn't make it out of the fifth inning, the ninth straight game in which an Orioles starter has failed to reach the 6th inning. That's a very eye opening stat and might be as telling as anything you could produce about the ineffectiveness of Baltimore's starting staff. They've now gone nine straight games without a starter giving them six innings of work (repeated for emphasis).

The loss dropped the Birds to 42-48 on the year, still tied with Toronto for fourth place in the East, but sinking more quickly than Kathy Griffin after a bad photo opportunity. Since starting the season 22-10, the O's have gone 20-38. And there's nothing to suggest it's going to get any better.

The Orioles hopefully paid attention to last week's Cubs-White Sox deal and saw for themselves how difficult it is to obtain a quality player in a mid-season trade. The White Sox gave up one of their best starters -- Jose Quintana -- but fleeced the Cubs for four prospects, including two of the better ones in baseball. The Cubs are loaded with talent, as we've seen over the last two nights in Baltimore, so it's a tad easier for them to part with some cornerstone youngsters while they try and play their way back into the post-season for a shot at a second straight title.

The White Sox got a lot better last week when they dealt Quintana. It won't be reflected this year, or perhaps not even next, either, but sometime soon down the road, expect Chicago's "other" team to be back on track.

The Birds would be very smart to follow the White Sox lead and deal early and often as the trade deadline approaches.

I don't run the club -- but if I did, my message to the other 29 teams would be simple. "We're keeping Adam Jones, Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop. Everyone else is available."

I realize no one is going to take Chris Davis, but in the unlikely event someone needs an overpaid left handed hitter who strikes out one and a half times a game, he can be had. I'd even help pay some of that salary I promised him until 2037. How's that for being nice?

Machado, Brach, Britton -- all three are available, but not for a song. Someone's going to have to step forward with an awfully big wheelbarrow full of players and prospects before I'd bite on that trade offer. But if I'm the O's, I don't enter this next two weeks with fear. I enter it with hope. And with the right deal or two, the O's could be contending again by 2019 or so.

In fairness to Jones, who is a certain Orioles Hall of Famer someday, I'd probably go to him privately and let him in on the strategy. I'd even go as far as giving the centerfielder the opportunity for a "buy out" of sorts. If he'd rather not endure another couple of years of dreadful losing (he and Chris Tillman are the only two who are still here from the real "dog days", circa 2008), I'd give him the right to approve a trade as well.

But make no mistake about it: I don't want to trade Adam Jones if I'm the Orioles. He's not a "great" player. But he's a "great" employee. He stays -- unless he wants to go.

I'm not giving up Mancini or Schoop. Both have the potential to be outstanding players. Sure, Mancini's still raw and not yet firmly entrenched as a potential star in the league, but the signs are there that he could be a franchise-type player.

Jones, Mancini and Schoop are staying. The rest can go.

By the way, it's interesting to watch the Cubs play in person. I was there last night and watched them intently throughout the game. Maybe it's just a renewed energy after the All-Star break, but they ran hard and played hard from the first pitch until the last one.

Every fly ball they hit was met with the batter sprinting out of the box and rounding first base with pace. It's unlikely a major league outfielder is going to drop a routine fly ball, but if the O's would have bungled one last night, the Chicago hitter would have been standing on second base, not first.

There wasn't a ground ball hit that they didn't run out -- hard.

And when they did manage a hit or a run-producing plate appearance, the Cubs' dugout was alive and celebrating.

In fairness, they were winning throughout the game, so life's a bit more relaxed under those conditions, but you can tell the Cubs are taking their craft very seriously. I guess that's one of the reasons why they won the World Series last year.

It's hard to figure out why they're barely above .500. The usual culprit is mostly responsible -- shaky starting pitching for one -- but they have some outstanding hitters on their roster and their infield defense is terrific. That was my first time seeing Anthony Rizzo play first base. That kid is really freakin' good.

Anyway...

Let's hope Ubaldo Jimenez can somehow stymie the Cubs today and give the Birds one win in the three-game series. The Texas Rangers come to town starting on Monday and the O's haven't always had the best of luck against that ballclub in the regular season. And then the Astros make their only appearance of the season to Camden Yards for a weekend series (July 21-23). You might have heard of them. They're the best team in the American League.

I don't see many wins on the horizon, unfortunately.

I realize the Orioles don't want to throw in the towel. I respect that, even.

But baseball being what it is -- a 162 game grind where you know by the 80 game or thereabouts if you have what it takes -- the signs are just too prominent to ignore. This team isn't going anywhere. And they could really help themselves in the future by facing that fact, dealing away some quality, and adding some good, young players who can be part of an exciting future in Charm City.

As a guy who plunked down money for a 13-game plan back in February, I can say with ease and certainty I would much rather see the Orioles acquire some good, young players at the deadline than sit through another two months of 10-3 losses...just to be able to say, "We tried all the way until the end".

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no shock here: langer on top of senior leaderboard with 18 holes to play


It's one thing to be among the sport's best players and always be hovering around the leaderboard, even occasionally winning a tournament or two.

It's an entirely different story when you're expected to win -- and you do.

Bernhard Langer doesn't have his fourth straight Constellation Senior Players Championship sewed up just yet, but he's entering the final furlong with the lead, as the 9-time senior major champion has a one-shot advantage over Brandt Jobe and a five shot cushion over Scott McCarron and Corey Pavin.

Langer is 18-under par after three rounds thanks to a tidy bogey-free round of 66 at Caves Valley on Saturday.

Those three words aren't heard very often out at Caves: "Tidy bogey-free", that is.

That Langer continues to play well isn't a surprise. He's been dominating the Champions Tour for the last five years or so. But that he shows up and everyone says "It's his tournament to lose" is a true testament to just how much quality his golf game is producing these days.

Golfers are a mercurial bunch. The ones playing professionally or at a high level on the national amateur circuit always think they're one new swing thought away from never shooting over par again. Most players enter a tournament thinking they have a chance to win if they play their very best golf.

Rarely, if ever, will a high-level golfer (or any athlete for that matter) concede defeat before an event begins.

But on the Champions Tour, nearly every player is now saying, "If Langer plays well, I can't beat him." That's very Tiger-esque, as everyone in the field circa 2000-2004 knew they weren't winning if Woods teed it up on Thursday. Tiger didn't always win, mind you, but he was thought to be the winner on every occasion before the first tee ball was hit.

Langer is in the same zone now. If he's playing, he's winning -- until someone proves otherwise. And lately, they haven't been able to prove otherwise.

Jobe would have been leading by a handful of shots had he not butchered the 17th and 18th holes on Thursday and Saturday. He's four over par on those two holes for the tournament, while Langer has played them in even par. There's the difference in the tournament.

And that Langer continues to play well despite the on-going controversy about the use of his longer putter is also somewhat of a miracle. Golf is an extraordinarily difficult sport to play when everything is lined up just right for you, let alone when your mind is preoccupied with other stuff. That Langer can put aside the continued whispers about the "anchoring" issue and beat everyone in the field week after week is a real testament to his fortitude.

It's not a slam dunk that Langer's winning today. Jobe was very solid in the recent U.S. Senior Open and has been knocking on the door for a while now. His play this week shows he's ready to break through and win a major on the senior circuit.

But the smart money goes on the German. If the players themselves were allowed to bet, you know who they'd be wagering on today. And that says it all.

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local product mccarthy in the hunt for web.com victory


If you're looking for a good weekend wind-down tonight and can appreciate a potentially-career-changing local story, check out The Golf Channel from 6pm to 9pm for the final round of the Web.Com Tour's Utah Championship.

Takoma Park's Denny McCarthy, in his second season on golf's top "minor league tour", is just one shot out of first place heading into today's final round. The former Walker Cup star and University of Virginia All-American fired rounds of 69-63-64 to put himself in position to win for the first time on the Web.Com circuit.

The Web.com Tour is the country's best professional golf tour that isn't the PGA Tour. The field in every tournament is filled with former PGA Tour winners and young, upstart former high ranking college players and amateurs, like McCarthy, who are trying to earn enough money to secure their PGA Tour card for the following year.

The top 25 money winners from each Web.com "regular season" are guaranteed their PGA Tour card for the next season. McCarthy is currently at #46 on the money list. A win today wouldn't guarantee him his card for 2017-2018, but it would come awfully close to doing so. Even a top three finish this week would go a long way in his quest to get out on the big TOUR.

McCarthy is no stranger to pressure when it comes to playing golf. Besides playing at Virginia, he reached the semi-finals of the 2014 U.S. Amateur, made the cut and played all four days at the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, and has been a consistent cut-maker on the Web.com Tour over the last two years.

The only thing missing from the Argyle Country Club member's resume is a victory. He just might get it today.

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O's SCOREBOARD
Saturday, July 22nd
Orioles
4

Astros
8
WP: F. Martes (3-0)
LP: D. O'Day (1-3)

HR: Schoop (21), Jones (18), Gurriel (13), Bregman (9), Gonzalez (18)

RECORD/PLACE: 46-51, 4th place

breakfast bytes

A.L East: Judge hits 32nd homer but Yankees lose at Seattle in ten innings, 6-5.

Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays all lose on Saturday.

Astros' Moran hospitalized overnight after foul ball hits his eye.

British Open: Grace becomes first-player ever to record a 62 in a major championship.