Monday
October 25, 2021
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#2618


exposed...by the bengals?


Well, that didn't go very well.

There was good news and bad news on Sunday as it related to the Ravens getting run out of the gym by -- of all people -- the Bengals.

Good news: I didn't see one minute of it. I didn't have to suffer along with the rest of the purple faithful.

Bad news: I didn't see one minute of it. So I have no real idea what happened in the 41-17 loss. I'm certainly not going to come here today and act like I watched it, because I didn't.

I am in Florida playing in a golf tournament and during Sunday's round, I wasn't able to follow along. I stole a sneak at my phone on the 15th tee and saw it was 13-10 at the half and thought to myself, "OK, no problem there. I thought it would be close for a half, anyway. No worries."

The next time I checked my phone it was 34-17 in favor of the Bengals.

One week after scorching the Chargers defense, Greg Roman and Lamar Jackson whiffed on Sunday at home vs. the Bengals.

I spent lots of time sifting through a few hours worth of Twitter posts to see what the fans thought of the whole thing. And then I read both accounts of the game from the Baltimore and Cincinnati newspapers.

So while I don't have much to offer in terms of the nuts and bolts of the loss (others will do that below), I can say this and don't even need to have watched the game to say it: It's one game. In a 17-game season, you're bound to have a stinker along the way. It happens to everyone. Just ask the Chargers.

And as I posted yesterday on Twitter, let's be honest about something else. The Ravens were extremely lucky to be 5-1. They pulled a rabbit out of their hat against the Chiefs, produced a stunning, improbable victory over the Lions in Detroit and then engineered a miracle against the Colts. Anyone who has followed the team all year knows their 5-1 record was a smidgen misleading.

But losing to Cincinnati? At home? And getting blistered by 24 points? Yikes...

It is important, though, to keep in mind that it's just one game. Sure, the Bengals now own the tiebreaker with their 5-2 record and their win over Baltimore, but there's a lot of football remaining.

In the aftermath of getting smashed like that, it's important for the Ravens (and their fan base) to remember the NFL is very much a week-to-week league. Cincinnati barely beat Jacksonville at home, you might remember. A month later, they took the Ravens to the woodshed in their own building. Last Sunday the Ravens dismantled one of the most efficient offensive units in the entire league. Seven days later, the Baltimore defense was borderline awful. It's a weird, weird league.

Because I wasn't able to watch the game, I leaned on some football savvy folks from -- where else? -- Twitter to give you (and me) the real lowdown on exactly what transpired on Sunday in Baltimore.

@e23plumer -- Let's see...old RB's got 0 yds in 1st half. Mekari got hurt and Lamar sacked 5 times. Defense forgot how to tackle. And at 27-17 a 39 yd Lamar run got called back and Ravens quit at that point, rare for a Harbs team.

@terp96 --No running game. Defense, the secondary in particular, looked lost and still can’t tackle to save their lives. Harbaugh had a clunker, game and timeout management and a frivolous play challenge. And just a game where Lamar tried to do too much.

@schultzy8897 -- Marlon Humphrey and the secondary were thoroughly embarrassed. Ravens offense was one dimensional all day. Line didn’t protect well enough and passing offense wasn’t good enough.

@joepolek --Offensive Line gave no holes for RBs and no time for Lamar. Lamar held onto the ball way too long too many times. Humphrey played awful. Ravens couldn't tackle. Harbaugh punted twice instead of trying 57 yard FGs. All around bad day.

@goin2CHURCH -- All the same issues got exposed today. 1. Poor tackling 2. Zero run game besides Lamar. 3. Wink never does this but his game plan called for Chase to be shadowed by Humphrey and he lost on that big time. 4. Blitzes didn’t get home - when defense plays poor blitzes don’t convert.

Seems like the Ravens issues were almost unanimous: no running game, offensive line wasn't great, Lamar was forced to do too much, defensive tackling was sub-par, the secondary wasn't very good and Harbaugh eschewed two opportunities where he would normally send Tucker out and punted instead.

Does that about it sum it up?

OK, well, 41-17 is the exact same thing as 24-21 in OT. It's a loss. One game. Sure, it feels like it counts a hair "more" than just a loss because it came at home against a divisional opponent, but in the standings it's just one loss.

I didn't see the game (you know that by now, I guess) but hearing that John Harbaugh elected to punt when his offense had the ball around the Bengals 40 yard line seems really, really odd. Justin Tucker isn't reliable enough to try a couple of 57 yard field goals?

Now, here's what we don't know. Maybe Tucker himself told Harbs the kick was out of his comfort zone. Wind issues? Footing issues? Did Tucker tweak something on a kick-off? Did he eat a bad turkey burger on Saturday night at the team's downtown hotel and wasn't feeling himself? We always feel like we know the coach messed up...but we also don't know the ins and outs of what exactly transpired when Harbaugh sent Sam Koch out there twice.

On the surface, though, you would have expected Tucker to trot out there and give those two kicks a whirl unless there were circumstances we're not aware of.

But those kicks probably wouldn't have made a dramatic difference in the outcome. The Bengals -- the data and stats say -- thoroughly dominated the game, particularly the second half. The Baltimore defense, flying high a week ago when they completely muffled Justin Herbert and the Chargers' offense, got a significant kick to the family jewels yesterday. They were humbled by Joe Burrow, a second year quarterback. Totally humbled.

Now, we play this little game virtually every week and it's worth playing again right now.

Did Sunday's Bengals win in Baltimore tell us more about them -- or more about the Ravens?

It probably tells us that Cincinnati is legit. It certainly doesn't tell us that the Ravens aren't legit. As long as they have Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have a chance to win every game. But yesterday was "prove it" day for the Bengals and prove it they did. They beat the Ravens. In Baltimore.

When you leave Charm City with a win, you're usually the real deal.

As for John Harbaugh's team, their number one goal during the bye week is simple: get as many injured players healthy as possible. Some of the guys who can't come back in 2021 are obviously key figures; J.K. Dobbins, Marcus Peters and Ronnie Stanley, just to name three. But if they can get Nick Boyle back and healthy...and if Derek Wolfe eventually comes back...and if Sammy Watkins is just dealing with a minor injury and can return for Minnesota on November 7...those three would definitely help after the bye.

It's also easy to say "the Ravens need to fix the run game" but barring a trade at the deadline, that appears to be a long shot. They have what they have, which is to say, they have three aging running backs and an offensive line that's just so-so at run blocking. Sure, the quarterback's an incredible running threat, but as you saw on Sunday vs. the Bengals, Lamar can't do it all.

The loss to Cincinnati comes at a really good time. The Ravens get a week to heal up, they can watch a bunch of tape, and both Greg Roman and Wink Martindale can go into their respective labs and figure out how to improve on the weaknesses within their departments.

That Bengals loss is just one game. The Ravens will return on November 7, beat up on Minnesota, then go to Miami the following Thursday night and clobber the Dolphins and be 7-2 *just like that*.

There's a lot of football left...

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around the nfl in 2 minutes


Green Bay 24 - Washington 10 -- I didn't even realize the Packers were 6-1 until I heard Aaron Rodgers say it after the game. Washington might just be entering the calm before the storm...that is, if you believe some of the underground rumors that are starting to percolate about the ownership of the club and some, ummm, changes that might be on the horizon.

Atlanta 30 - Miami 28 -- Matt Ryan gets beat up a lot. His whole career pretty much changed when the Falcons defense collapsed and couldn't maintain a 28-3 third quarter lead in the Super Bowl. But Ryan can still occasionally shine, like he did on the game-winning drive yesterday in Miami. Somehow, by the way, the Falcons are 3-3. I have no idea how.

New England 54 - NY Jets 13 -- I don't think the Patriots have themselves another Tom Brady. I mean, let's hope not, right? But that Mac Jones kid looks like he could be the real deal. And remember, he's pretty much throwing to no one up there in Foxborough. Wait until a few good free agent receivers decide to make the move to the Patriots. As for the Jets...yeah, they're really bad. I thought they'd improve under Robert Saleh, but not so much.

NY Giants 25 - Carolina 3 -- This one tells us something we suspected all along. The Panthers are lousy. I realize they're missing McCaffrey and he's their engine, but when you lose 25-3 to the Giants, that's more than just missing one guy. In horse racing terms, the Panthers have been eased.

Derrick Henry ran for 86 yards and threw for a touchdown on Sunday. Pretty good for a running back.

Tennessee 27 - Kansas City 3 -- OK, so it's time for all of us to realize the Titans are going to be a problem in 2021. Their defense, which most NFL followers deemed "suspect" at the beginning of the season, has actually been OK. If they get some healthy players back on offense, Tennessee could be a 13 win team. As for the Chiefs -- it's just not happening for them. Mahomes is having an "off" season and their defense is atrocious. At this point, the Chiefs are going to have to fight hard to win 11 games and make the playoffs.

L.A. Rams 28 - Detroit 19 -- This game was in the balance until the final 5 minutes and then Jared Goff threw the ball to the wrong team in the end zone and that was that. The Lions are so "in between" it's not even funny. They can look great for a series, lousy for a series, great for a series, lousy for a series. As for the Rams, they did what they had to do to win. It was like being 6 shots ahead with 3 holes to play and intentionally playing for bogey at 17 and 18 just so you didn't do something dumb and lose.

Las Vegas 33 - Philadelphia 22 -- The Raiders are pretty good. Their defense isn't all that great but they're making up for it with offense. How on earth they lost to the Bears a few weeks back in Las Vegas is anyone's guess. At this point, they have as good of a chance of winning the AFC West as either K.C. or the Chargers. The Eagles might challenge for a NFC playoff spot now that Seattle's cooked. Wait, I just looked at the standings. Philly's 2-5. They're also cooked. Never mind. But they are better than their 2-5 record. Maybe? No? OK, forget it.

Arizona 31 - Houston 5 -- It seems perfect that the Texans managed just 5 points. Not 6. Not 7. Not 10. But 5. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are now 7-0. And don't look now, but after they host Green Bay this Thursday night, they then have San Francisco (away), Carolina (home), Seattle (away) and Chicago (away). I highly doubt the Cardinals get off to a 12-0 start, but their schedule is pretty easy after this Thursday.

Tampa Bay 38 - Chicago 3 -- I'm not sure what's more strange. That Chicago beat the Raiders in Las Vegas earlier this season or that Tampa Bay needed to hang on for dear life to beat the Patriots in New England a few weeks back. Either way, what happened Sunday wasn't a surprise in the least. The Bucs are really good and their offense has a variety of different ways to beat you. And the Bears are...well...not very good in general.

Indianapolis 30 - San Francisco 18 -- The Colts actually look somewhat legit at this point. Had they not collapsed in Baltimore two weeks ago, they'd be on a 4-game winning streak. Alas, they're 3-4 after disposing of Jimmy G and the 49'ers last night. Here's the thing: I'm not sure you'd want to face Frank Reich's team in the playoffs. I have no idea if they're going to make it, mind you, but they still have three games left against Jacksonville (2) and Houston (1), so there's three wins right there. If Indy somehow sneaks into the post-season, I might want to avoid them in the first round in January.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 7


Sunday — October 24, 2021
Issue 2617

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-6.5)


let's see what'cha got...bengals


Sunday has arrived and it's another one of those "prove it games", only this time the burden's not on the Ravens to show what they're made of.

The Bengals are the ones who get to showcase themselves today in Baltimore. We already know the Ravens are really good. But we're still not sure about Cincinnati.

We'll find out more today.

Can Joe Burrow direct the Bengals to a big win in Baltimore today?

The Bengals come into town in unfamiliar territory. They're above .500 and it's nearly November. But they've accumulated their four wins mostly against scrubs; Pittsburgh, Detroit, Jacksonville and Minnesota. Sure, you play who they put in front of you and all and beating those four is better than losing to those four, but Cincy's two toughest games to date (at Chicago, at Green Bay) were both losses.

So, yes, we need to see them step in class today in Baltimore if we're going to give them the credit they're due. It's one thing to beat up on the Lions in Detroit. It's another thing entirely to come to Baltimore and win, like we're asking Cincinnati to do today.

Throughout the week, I had a number of people ask me if I thought the Bengals were "for real". I told everyone the same thing.

"I think their quarterback is definitely for real," I would say. "That kid's really good. He obviously links up well with Ja'Marr Chase, the draft pick. Those two are definitely legit."

That's about as far as I'll go in predicting anything about the Bengals. Joe Burrow is good. Ja'Marr Chase is good. The Cincinnati defense appears to be improved. Their offensive line, one of the worst in the league a year ago, is also on the uptick, although today's visit to Baltimore will give them an opportunity to see just how much progress they've made in that department over the last 12 months.

Make no mistake about it, today's game will show the Bengals a lot about their team. Are they ready to step up in class or are they still a pretender?

We know what the Ravens are. They're right there with Buffalo and perhaps Tennessee as the AFC's best teams. Los Angeles and Kansas City might have something to say about that in January, but right now it's Baltimore, Buffalo nad Tennessee. The Bengals though, with a win today, could start chipping away in the direction of that top AFC rung. Not many teams come to Charm City and win, after all.

The Chargers came buzzing into town last week fresh off of a couple of nice wins over Kansas City and Cleveland. We learned more about the Ravens in their 34-6 win than we did the Chargers, I thought. John Harbaugh's team is on the upswing and they aren't going to lose many games in 2021. The Bengals come in today needing a win to show they're worthy of respect.

Is Cincinnati really any good?

We'll know right around 4:15 pm.

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how drew sees today's game


Hey, when you're wrong you're wrong.

And I was definitely wrong last week.

Rashod Bateman catches his first career NFL touchdown pass today in Baltimore.

I thought the Chargers would man-up and do themselves proud last Sunday in Baltimore. Instead, they rolled over like a dog wanting his tummy scratched. I certainly didn't see that one coming.

I suspect we'll see Cincinnati hang tough for a half today, but not much more than that.

The Ravens jump out to quick 7-0 lead on their first offensive series, with Lamar hitting Rashod Bateman for his first career TD from 25 yards out. But the Bengals get the ball and go right down the field themselves as Burrow runs it in from 5 yards to tie the score at 7-7.

In the second quarter, Lamar again finds Bateman on a long gainer, then goes back to back to Mark Andrews from inside the 20 to put the Ravens on the goal-line. Jackson scampers into the end zone from there to make it 14-7.

The Bengals hit a field goal as time expires in the second quarter and the teams head to the locker room with Baltimore up 14-10.

But it's all Ravens from there. Jackson hits Andrews on a 15-yard TD throw midway through the 3rd quarter, then an interception by Marlon Humphrey on the next series gives Baltimore the ball on the Cincy 33 yard line. From there, Jackson does his thing, running it in from the 8 yard line a few plays later to make 28-10.

The Bengals get a Burrow to Chase TD throw in the last four minutes to make it 28-17 but that's it...the Ravens improve to 6-1 with a fairly comfortable, never-really-had-to-sweat 28-17 win over Cincinnati that drops the Bengals to 4-3.

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choose the expensive countertop


The home builder will be coming by this week to start ordering stuff for the kitchen. Any good beach house needs a phenomenal kitchen. I mean, you're buying this place at the beach in part because you like to entertain, right? Spare no expense when it comes to the kitchen, I say.

Fortunately, after today's slate of games, you'll feel great about up-spending on the granite countertop. Go ahead and splurge. We have five expected winners for you today. Place the order. Go ahead...do it.

Despite last week's toe-stub, we're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet. Our 15-15 mark on the campaign doesn't show in any way how much we've figured out the NFL. Just hang in there with us and you'll be thinking about a place in Port St. Lucie, too.

Here's who we like today. Frankly, we wish we could give you ten games here at #DMD. We like today's slate of games so much, we're thinking 10-0 is a legit possibility. Alas, here are the five games that will get you a 5-0 mark.

JETS AT PATRIOTS (-7.0) -- Seven points to a division rival is a lot. Seven points when you're starting a rookie QB is also a lot. Seven points when you're 2-4 and the other guy is 1-4 seems like a lot, too. But we have a feeling today might be the official breakout party for Mac Jones as he lights up the Jets in a 32-17 Patriots win. We'll take New England give the points here.

#DMD likes Derek Carr and the Raiders today at home over the Eagles.

EAGLES AT RAIDERS (-2.5) -- I had to do a double take on this one. The Raiders are only favored by 2.5 points? Is their entire offense out or something? I checked around. It seems like a normal Sunday for Las Vegas. Unless I missed something, don't the Eagles stink? Anyway, this is our way of saying we're going with Las Vegas and giving the 2.5 points here, as Derek Carr leads the Raiders to a 30-20 win over Philadelphia.

LIONS AT RAMS (-16.5) -- The football gods are in play here, big time. Are they going to permit Matthew Stafford the opportunity to just annihilate his former team in their first match-up since the trade? Or will they give poor Jared Goff a smidgen of good fortune in a otherwise dismal move to Detroit by having Goff stun his former team and coach in his return visit to L.A.? You just know one of those two situations is going to play out today. And the Rams are really good and the Lions are terrible, don't forget. We'll go with one of those "gut feelings" and take the Lions and the 16.5 points in L.A., as Goff acquits himself well in his return but the Rams win 33-23.

TEXANS AT CARDINALS (-18.0) -- 18 points is a lot of points to give away in a NFL game. But the Texans are lousy. Beyond lousy, really. And while I'm not sure Arizona is as good as 6-0 might indicate, I know they're much, much better than Houston. This one starts slow and has Cards backers worried, but it's eventually a blowout. We'll take Arizona and give 18 points (unreal) in a 38-16 romp over Houston.

BEARS AT BUCCANEERS (-11.5) -- We're slowly starting to buy a little bit of stock in what they're doing in Chicago. It might take another year or two, but the Bears are on the upswing. That said, they're going into the lion's den today. Well, Tampa Bay isn't exactly the toughest place to play or anything like that, but they're facing the G.O.A.T. in his own building on a sunny Florida day. We're going with TB12 and the Bucs here, as Tampa Bay gives 11.5 and wins by 13, 34-21.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We like the Raiders at home giving 2.5 points to the Eagles as our best bet. We're still looking through the internet to see how many Las Vegas starters are missing and we can't find anything. Something's fishy with that point spread, but we're in knee-deep on the Raiders today nonetheless.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 0-5

OVERALL THIS SEASON: 15-15

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 3-3

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Saturday
October 23, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2616


i wish...


Last night was the Wizards' home opener in D.C. against the Indiana Pacers. Because it was Friday night and I had a relatively light evening planned, I surfed over to the game in between checking out The Golf Channel and an awesome 1985 movie, The Falcon and the Snowman, starring Sean Penn and Timothy Hutton.

The good news? The Wizards posted a thrilling 135-134 OT win to start their season at 2-0.

Plenty of good seats were available last night in D.C. for the Wizards home opener.

The bad news? A crowd of 15,000 saw it happen. The arena holds 20,000.

What happened? I mean, it was Friday night in The District. Perhaps folks work late down there on Friday night? It was a nice October night, too. Maybe one glass of happy hour wine led to two or three and those who thought about arriving late to the game just never made it?

Whatever it was, it sure seemed odd to me that the team's home opener, on a Friday night no less, was met with scores of empty seats. I realize the Pacers aren't an "A" draw or anything like that...but still, it's the home opener.

And, so, it got me to thinking.

I wish we had a NBA or NHL team in Baltimore. I know what you're probably thinking: "Dude, we draw 10,000 people to 60 of the 81 home baseball games every season. What on earth would we do with a basketball or hockey franchise?"

I'm not suggesting the NBA is an easy sell. I'm sure it's not. But I really wish somewhere along the way we inherited one in Baltimore -- with a new arena, of course -- so we could actually be in the position to try and sell out the home opener on a Friday night in October.

And if we couldn't get the NBA, perhaps the NHL would set up shop in Baltimore? I totally understand the realities of that happening. While the Capitals and Wizards are both in D.C., there's little chance at all that Baltimore would get a team in either league. But could we sell out an 18,000 seat venue every night for a NBA team? Or a NHL team? Could we?

I think the easy answer -- and probably the right one, sadly -- is "no, we couldn't sell out every NBA or NHL game in Baltimore." The Wizards have had some difficulty selling tickets in D.C., while the Caps haven't had that much of an issue, but most of that is tied into Alex Ovechkin and the team's status as a "hot ticket" in The District.

But I sure wish we had the chance to prove it. Seeing all of those empty seats in D.C. last night was a sad sight. Sure, it could have been a one-off thing, but it still left me wondering. Just imagine scoring a ticket to a big game in Baltimore for a Friday night NBA or NHL game. Spotlights flicking back and forth out front. Traffic everywhere. Ticket peddlers hawking seats.

I've wished for a lot of things in my sports life. Nearly all of those wishes went unanswered. But it would be really cool to buy tickets to see the Baltimore Claws or the Baltimore Clippers someday down the road. I wish we all would get that chance at some point.


I saw a Twitter thread last night from a high school football game in Ohio, where there were 12,000 fans in the stadium to see two undefeated teams play for the county championship.

It was Twitter and all, so the pictures and videos weren't professionally done or anything like that, but the site of the full stands and the raucous atmosphere was pretty cool to see.

High school football in Ohio is a big deal. According to the Twitter account I was following, people had camped out on Thursday night to get the right to buy tickets to the game last night. They actually added 2,000 seats to accommodate the visiting fans. And, get this: the visiting team was only 8 miles away!

I wish high school football was that important in our neck of the woods. Sure, the annual Turkey Bowl between Calvert Hall and Loyola draws upwards of 12,000 people every year, but that game is a tradition that has stood the test of time. What I wish is that any normal Friday night game between, say, Parkville and Dundalk, could draw a few thousand people. How cool would that be?

As I followed the account of last night's game in Ohio, it really got me to wondering. Why do they draw 12,000 to a football game? I mean, really, why is high school football so important there? Is it because it's the only thing to do on a Friday night in Northeast Ohio? You either watch the local high school team play or you sit on your front porch and watch the folks drive to the game. Is that it?

Calvert Hall has drawn a few nice crowds this year. They'll pull in somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 for a Friday night home game against virtually any opponent. But in general, it feels like Baltimore doesn't care all that much about high school football. I wish they did. No matter if you have a dog in the hunt or not, it would be cool to head out the door at 6:40 pm on a Friday night and walk down the street (or drive) to the high school in your area and catch a game.

I wish I knew why they care about high school football so much in Ohio. And I wish we cared about it in Maryland the way they care about it out there.


I wish baseball would do one thing in the off-season that would, in my opinion, make their sport a whole lot better.

I really wish all of the stadium dimensions were the same.

The more I think of it, the more I'm actually shocked that we're in 2021 and teams are still playing in stadiums of varying sizes. It seems like sometime back in, say, 1999, smart baseball people would have said, "Hey, wait, we can't have one stadium's shortest left-field distance be 328 feet and another stadium's shortest left-field distance be 344 feet."

What harm would it do to have all the dimensions be the same across the board, throughout the league? Sure, there are some stadiums (Fenway and Wrigley are the two most obvious) that would need to be grandfathered in. But there's no reason at all why the fences in Baltimore are different than they are in Pittsburgh, Washington, Cleveland, Detroit, etc.

How can you claim someone is the leading home run hitter when he plays, say, in Fenway Park? He plays 81 times in a stadium that is pretty much about the size of a big barn. Meanwhile, other guys play in a cavernous facility like the stadium in Oakland. And that's fair? How?

I wish all the dimensions were the same. A home run in Baltimore would be a home run in Kansas City would be a home run in Seattle. I don't know. I might be nitpicking, but it just seems like a no-brainer to me to have the stadium sizes be similar across the board.


I wish we had a real, living "Battle of Baltimore" for our men's and women's college hoops teams. Old timers like me will remember "The Battle" existed back in the early 1990's. But as local coaches needed more non-conference wins against people like Hood and Goucher to offset the money-game drubbings they signed up for at Oklahoma, DePaul, UCLA and elsewhere, the games against their Baltimore neighbors fizzled.

Wouldn't it be cool to have an official "Battle of Baltimore"? You have Towson, Loyola, Coppin State, Morgan State and UMBC. Each year, one of those teams would sit out the event and you'd always have a 4-team tournament of sorts. Some folks would say "add Navy or Mount Saint Mary's", but, as you know, neither of those two are really in Baltimore or known as Baltimore schools.

You could do the tournament over 5 days, with each team playing the other three. Tuesday night, it's Towson vs. UMBC and Loyola vs. Morgan State. Thursday night, it's Loyola vs. Towson and UMBC vs Morgan State. And on Sunday, it's Towson vs. Morgan State and Loyola vs. UMBC. See? Done.

I already know what the arguments are against "The Battle". Playing those three games means there are three less opportunities to take to the road in November or December and pick up a check for $300,000 for getting beat by 22 points at West Virginia or Florida or Clemson. There's also a fear from local coaches when it comes to recruiting. "What if we go 0-3 in the games against the other Baltimore teams? How can we go into the city and county and chase after basketball players?"

I know it's pie-in-the-sky, but I sure wish we had a true "Battle of Baltimore" to kick-off the local hoops season. The coaches and athletic directors could make it happen if they really wanted it to happen. It's just not all that important to everyone in town, obviously.

But I sure wish it would happen.

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Friday
October 22, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2615


8 questions


1. Do all of you play fantasy football? I saw something recently that said 34% of all NFL fans who attended a game in 2019 play fantasy football. That seems like an awfully high number to me. But then again, if 70,000 people are in Baltimore for a game, is it reasonable to think that 22,000 or so of them play fantasy football? I guess not. I don't even know how that information came to light. Was there a survey of some kind? 34% sounds like a high number to me, but anyway.

For the record, I don't play fantasy football. I haven't played in probably 5 years. I would routinely forget to change my team (bye weeks, injuries) and lose 104-39. So I don't play. But I certainly don't begrudge anyone who plays. It's fun if you pay attention.


2. Will the Dodgers win the next two games in Atlanta and come back from 3-1 down to win the NLCS yet again? Remember, they did this exact same thing last year. They lost the first two, won Game 3, lost Game 4, won Game 5, 6 and 7. Last night, Chris Taylor hit 3 home runs in an 11-2 romp over the Braves in L.A. Atlanta's not going to gag away this 3-1 lead again, right?

I'm guessing Atlanta finishes this off and wins Game 6 tomorrow night. But if they don't then, yes, L.A. will win both games because I can't see the Braves losing Game 5 and 6 and then somehow getting their act together for Game 7. Officially, though, I'm thinking the Braves clinch their World Series trip tomorrow night. And all of this, remember, without one of the best players in baseball, Ronald Acuna, Jr., who got hurt in mid-season.


Will Rickie Fowler win a PGA Tour event in 2022?

3. How many NBA games will you watch in the regular season? And by "watch", I mean "appointment viewing", like, you look at the schedule and see xxxx is playing xxxx at 7:35 and you say, "I'm watching that tonight." How many? 0? 3? 10? 16?

I saw the Warriors were playing the Clippers last night in the home opener for Golden State and decided to check it out. I'm glad I did. Steph Curry scored 25 points in the first quarter (yes, first quarter) and finished the night with 45 as Golden State nipped Los Angeles, 115-113. It won't be the last Golden State game I watch in '21-22. Curry's just awesome. By no means am I'm a legit NBA fan, but I'll watch a dozen or so Golden State games this year, I'm guessing.


4. Can the Ravens go 16-1 in 2021? It seems improbable. For starters, going 16-1 means they'd finish the season on a 16-game winning streak, which is hard to do in the NFL. And it also means they'd beat the likes of the Packers and Rams (both in Baltimore), who figure to be their two toughest tests in the remainder of the season. Cleveland in Cleveland could be a game, but the Browns are starting to get battered injury-wise. They'll be lucky to finish with 10 wins at this point. The Bengals? Not ready to buy their NFT just yet. We'll learn more about them this weekend. 16-1? Seems improbable. But it's certainly not impossible.

I'm guessing the Ravens lose at least once between now and January 9. Maybe Green Bay? Maybe the Rams? It just "feels" like 16-1 and a 16-game winning streak is a tad too ambitious, even for a really good team like the Ravens. I wouldn't be shocked if they somehow lost two games, actually. I'm thinking they're going to finish either 14-3 or 15-2.


5. Will you buy some sort of Orioles ticket plan in 2022? This thought crossed my mind last night as I watched bits and pieces of Braves/Dodgers. I'm asking you that question because I'm currently asking myself the same one. Will I renew my 13-game mini-plan next season? The team should be better, after all. (I know what you're thinking -- they can't be worse. They'll be better by default). Adley Rutschman is likely going to play most or all of the season in Baltimore. In their master plan, I assume the O's were gunning for 2022 as the season they started to look like there might be hope on the horizon. Are you in? Or out?

I'm in. I'm renewing. I think we've seen enough good stuff from the core of young players to feel like things have started to turn the corner. I'll be making my deposit for my 2022 13-game plan soon. Now...about that pitching.


6. Will Rickie Fowler win a tournament in 2022? I noted earlier this week where my buddy George scoffed at the notion that Rickie Fowler might "be back" because, George contends, in order to be back you have to have been there previously. Well, Fowler -- despite no championships -- at one point rose to #4 in the world rankings. I don't know enough about how the world rankings to understand how a guy with no majors can rise to #4, but rise he did. At one point, those rankings suggested Fowler was the 4th best player in the world. To me, "back" would be to win at least one golf tournament for starters and contend in majors, like he did last May at the PGA Championship when he had a chance to win on Sunday at Kiawah. Fowler hasn't won since January of 2019. Will he win a tournament in 2022?

I sure hope he does, because I found Fowler at 12:1 to win in 2022 and gobbled it up earlier this week. I do think he'll win in 2022, somewhere. It's not easy to win out there, obviously, and he and his wife are expecting a baby girl soon, which will also change his life and his priorities, but Fowler has too much talent to just flatline the way he has the last couple of years. Golf is a weird game. You can be really good this week and lousy next week. Heck, in some cases, you can be really good for this nine holes and really bad for the next nine holes. The TOUR is the same way. You can be really good this season and not-so-good the next season. Ask Mike Weir. I think Fowler will win in 2022. I'm vested him to do that, you might say.


7. Is this the year Maryland basketball finally breaks through and makes it to the Final Four under Mark Turgeon? The Terps are getting a lot of pre-season hype, in case you haven't started following that sort of thing just yet. Donta Scott is getting some national All-American love and a couple of the transfers are being heralded as "key additions" by national hoops exerts. We'll lean our resident #DMD basketball writer, Dale Williams, for his full assessment of the Terps early next month, but the folks around the country who follow college hoops are bullish on Maryland this season.

I hate to be "that guy", but I have no trust in a Maryland team going to the Final Four with Turgeon at the helm. Sorry. I feel like something always happens, whether it's a bad second round match-up in the NCAA Tournament or a key injury at the wrong time. My guess on October 22 is that Maryland doesn't make it to the Final Four. Not the men's team, anyway. The women? Quite possible.


8. Would you pay $4,000 for a Super Bowl ticket next February if the Ravens are playing in Los Angeles? I saw an article on Tuesday of this week indicating that $4,000 is apparently going to be the "get-in" price for a seat, with prime seats going for upwards of $10,000-$12,000 each. And that's not counting if the Rams happen to be the NFC representative. Would you fork over $4,000 to sit in the nosebleed section and watch the Ravens in the Super Bowl?

Quick answer from me, in case you care: No. I'm a fan, yes. I'd even consider myself a "reasonably big fan" of the Ravens. But in no way, shape or form, would I plunk down 4k to see a football game of any kind, anywhere. You also have to keep in mind that it's not just the $4,000 ticket you're facing. You have to get out there ($500 minimum, probably more like $750), stay somewhere ($300 a night at a minimum with 3 night minimum anywhere within 40 miles of L.A.) and eat out there ($75 a day, minimum, if you're lucky). It's insane how expensive it will be to go to the Super Bowl in 2022.


So there's your eight questions. I gave you my 8 answers. What are your answers?

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faith in sports


This week's edition of "Faith in Sports" features an awesome 5 minutes with Major League Pitcher Adam Wainwright, who details his struggles with expectations and injuries and how his faith helped him navigate a very difficult time in his life. In the amount of time it takes you to have a cup of coffee today, you can watch Wainwright's story below and learn more about how his faith in Jesus was instrumental in his recovery.

Our thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our Friday "Faith in Sports" segment.


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Thursday
October 21, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2614


thursday things


You might have noticed the NBA season has started, which means that TV network that calls themselves "the sports leader" will suddenly look like a promotional arm for the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, etc.

I get it. The NBA is "sports", after all. And ESPN is married to the league, hence the overwhelming amount of coverage they give the players, teams and games.

But on Wednesday, both the American League and National League Championship Series were played and neither of those games could earn top billing on the ESPN website. Instead, this morning, a picture of a Knicks player I've never heard of (which, by the way, is my fault...I only know about 20 players in the league, total) was the featured "front page" story while the Astros win over Boston and the Braves win over Los Angeles was relegated to "below the fold" status, if you will.

Steph Curry and the Warriors opened their season on Tuesday night with a win over the Lakers.

I have no idea who makes the content decisions at the ESPN website and I understand it was opening night around the league on Wednesday (and Tuesday, when Golden State's win over the Lakers was their "above the fold", front page story), but we're talking about Major League Baseball's two championship series' here.

And it's not like ESPN isn't also wedded to MLB, because they air a game on Sunday night throughout the season. Sure, their association -- no pun intended -- with the NBA runs much deeper than their relationship with Major League Baseball, but still...you're a national sports leader (supposedly) and you believe the opening night of basketball is more critical than the "final four", if you will, of baseball? I don't get it.

Rant over.

I mean, I don't really care one way or the other. I just skip past the Knicks beating the Celtics in double overtime (or was it the other way around? did Boston win?) and move my cursor down the page to the Braves/Dodgers story and go on with my day.

But relegating baseball below basketball seems like a whiff to me.


Speaking of whiffs, poor Bob Huggins up in Morgantown, West Virginia had one yesterday. Bob thinks the NCAA tournament should no longer include small schools "who only put 200 people in the gym". Well, to be specific, the Mountaineers head basketball coach believes the time has come for the NCAA tournament to feature two separate events; one for the big boys, and one for the little guys.

"They're doing it in football," Huggins said on Wednesday at Big 12 media day. He was alluding to the fact that college football now features regular "bowl games" for the OK teams and the playoff for the real powerhouse teams.

"Why wouldn't they do it?," Huggins asked reporters. "The presidents and athletic directors that have all the juice, why wouldn't they do it? Makes no sense why they wouldn't do it. I think it's more 'Why wouldn't they?' than 'Why would they?' And then, the other people, they can have their own tournament."

Ahhh..."the other people". He's talking, of course, about the Towson's of the world. And the UMBC's. And the Bucknell's. You know, those schools where school comes first and athletics comes second.

Calling them "the other people" was actually perfect, because that's exactly the way Huggins and the various other big-time college coaches think about mid-major schools.

You can just hear Huggins now, directing one of his assistant coaches to help him configure next season's schedule.

"OK, we'll get 10 or 11 wins in the conference," Huggins will say. "We need to get to at least 20 wins though to make sure we get a March Madness invite. Let's call a bunch of those small schools and give them $250,000 for the privilege of coming to Morgantown and losing by 24 points in early December."

"Call Towson down there in Atlantic City and see if they'll play us," Huggins says.

"I think they're in Baltimore, coach," the assistant will say.

"Whatever," Huggins continues. "Just call Pat Kennedy and tell him I need him to come up. He'll do it. They need the money."

"I think Coach Kennedy's long gone," the assistant will state. "Pat Skerry is there now."

"OK, fine," Huggins says. "We just need some games here. Call around and offer a bunch of them 250 grand, but don't call UMBC. Aren't they the ones that beat Virginia? We don't want them coming up here with their hair on fire and beating us."

I'm sure Huggins isn't the only coach in the country with his nose in the air about the way smaller schools compete with the bigger schools every March. You can almost hear the "how dare them?" in Huggins' voice if you listen to the audio feed from Wednesday's press conference.

Huggins wants the schools who pack their arenas to have their own event and then people like UMBC and Towson and Bucknell can play against one another in their own tournament.

"Those Cinderella schools are putting 200 people, at best, in their gym," Huggins said on Wednesday. "We're putting 14,000."

That is true, of course. Towson and UMBC have home games where they draw "hundreds" while West Virginia routinely hosts crowds of 14,000.

Remember the great Bruce Springsteen song, "Blinded by the Light"?

Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun. But mama, that's where the fun is."

Huggins knows those "little schools" are willing to look into the eyes of the sun every March. And, so, the best way to avoid having someone like, say, Loyola of Chicago, beat the prestigious West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round of the NCAA tournament is by......you guessed it.....not allowing Loyola of Chicago into the tournament in the first place.

If you're scared, Coach, just say it.

Someday, by the way, Huggins will get his way. You can feel it coming at some point in the next decade. The top 16 teams in the country will play their own made-for-TV tournament and "the other people" will get to play their own event. You know it's bound to happen.

The UMBC win over Virginia a few years ago? That was the moment that got people like Bob Huggins very concerned. He'd rather avoid those situations moving forward so schools like West Virginia can rake in all the money and the likes of UMBC can keep drawing 200 people to the games and then play with the rest of the "other people" in March.

#clownshoes


Ronnie Stanley is done for the year, as you probably know by now. Stanley underwent a second surgery on his ankle two days ago, almost a year to the day he first injured himself midway through the 2020 campaign.

Ronnie Stanley's 2021 season officially ended on Tuesday when he had surgery to repair his injured ankle.

Talk radio in town was filled with doom-and-gloom on Wednesday but I don't feel that vibe at all.

Would the Ravens be better with a healthy Ronnie Stanley? Of course. There's no use in denying that...when he's 100%, Stanley is a top-tier offensive tackle.

But the Ravens did fine without him last season and they're doing fine without him this season (yes, he played 68 snaps in Game 1 in Las Vegas, but that's all he's played). Last I checked, John Harbaugh's team has the best record in the AFC at 5-1.

Here, though, is something I heard (and read) from a bunch of people on Wednesday.

"The Ravens need to figure out what they're doing at left tackle because Stanley is "soft" and "can't be counted on".

Huh?

A guy gets his ankle snapped in two, gets it surgically repaired, works for 10 months to come back, actually does make it back and plays in a game and ----- he's "soft"??

People are unreal sometimes.

Something's not right with Stanley's ankle. Whether the first surgery and subsequent rehab didn't "take" all the way or he somehow reinjured the ankle in practice or that Las Vegas game, it's clear that something's wrong. Hence, the second surgery on Wednesday that ended his 2021 season.

But suggesting the man is "soft" and "can't be counted on"??? Come on people, be better than that.

This isn't a pulled hamstring or strained quad. While both of those injuries can also be serious, it's rare they keep someone out for the better part of two seasons. If Stanley missed 10 games in 2020 and 16 of 17 games in 2021 with a pulled groin.....now that would be a story worth discussing.

The man broke his ankle and had surgery...twice. Soft he's not. And the last time I checked, your ankle and the mobility it helps provide are fairly important to all athletes, particularly offensive lineman.

I totally understand how people are and the "shock value" they're occasionally looking to create with their commentary. I get it. I get it. I get it.

But anyone who rolls in with the "Stanley is soft" opinion needs to be dismissed. You have no idea at all what you're talking about.

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Wednesday
October 20, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2613


percentages


Yesterday afternoon, I saw The Stats Nerd's weekly piece (below) sitting in my e-mail inbox. I had a few minutes of down time so I pulled it up and started coding it for insertion into today's edition of #DMD.

I hope you'll agree that The Stats Nerd has been an awesome addition to our writing staff. Sports has always been about "new ideas" or evolution, if you will, and perhaps the biggest development of the last 10 years has been the use of statistics, advanced data and analytics to evaluate player and team performance. With all due respect to old folks (I'm one of them, remember), if you're fighting the fact that data and analytics are now a crucial part of sports, you're the one on the outside looking in. They're here to stay.

Something happened yesterday afternoon, though, that made me smile. Members of our goal program at Calvert Hall (both varsity and junior varsity players) gather occasionally in the fall to play golf together after school. This is not a "practice" or a "tryout" or anything like that. No evaluations are made. It's simply an effort for the guys to get together at our home course and knock the ball around for 12 holes. Yesterday, we had 7 players get together to play.

Editor's note: Because I know how people are, I'll answer the question now: Yes, yesterday's gathering was "legal". Thanks for your concern.

On the 3rd hole at Country Club of Maryland (a short, devilish 320 yard par-4), one of our younger players faced a troubling greenside shot for his third shot, where his ball was perched on a downhill lie near a sand trap and the pin was only about 12 feet over the bunker. It was, honestly, a shot that the most accomplished player would be incredibly challenged to get within 20 feet of the pin. For this player, I'd put his odds at hitting it within 20 feet at roughly 5%. To show how hard the shot was, I'd say the odds of him even keeping the ball on the green were only 20%. A low handicap player's odds of keeping it on the green? Somewhere around 50%.

The smart play would have been to actually play the ball backwards, intentionally away from the green, back into the front part of the fairway that runs up to the green. A ball played to the back of the green would have left an extraordinarily difficult two putt. Any ball chipped short or over the green would have left a delicate short shot back to the hole. This was an occasion where intentionally trying to make a bogey was, by far, the best decision facing the player as he evaluated the shot he was facing next to the bunker.

The player took about 10 seconds to survey the situation, took a few practice swings and then promptly did exactly what I assumed he would do. With the ball well below his feet and his stance not properly addressing the angle he needed to take, he bladed the ball over the green about 20 yards or so. His next chip was short. He chipped on to about 15 feet from there. And then two-putted. He took 7 on a hole where he was greenside in two shots.

And that's when my old school analytics kicked in. I have always used this theory in golf, dating back to when I first started to really understand how to play, circa 2000. If you put 10 balls down there, how many times would (xxxxxxx) happen?

I approached the player after golf was finished and brought up the 3rd hole situation.

"Let's look back at what happened there and figure out where things went wrong," I started.

"The first question I would ask you is this: On a scale of 1-to-10, assuming your goal was to make a par there, how hard would it have been to get that ball up and down from where you were? 1 being easy, 10 being hard."

"I don't know. 5 maybe," he replied.

It took everything I had not to laugh. "No, that was a "10", for sure," I said. So part of the problem in that situation was his lack of experience, in general, and not being able to quickly see he was in big trouble with the shot he faced. The only way to gain that sort of shot recognition is to play more golf. Nothing really replicates live golf except...live golf.

"So now let's look at the shot you faced," I continued. "Once you saw where your ball was, the very next thing you should have done was figure out the odds of making a par vs. the odds of making a bogey. At that point, those should have been the only two scores that were, in your mind, acceptable for that hole."

I've always used the 80% rule in golf. The Stats Nerd might agree with that number or not, and I'm not even really sure where I first came up with it, but I've always used it. If I'm confident in "something on the course" happening at an 80% clip, it seems worth trying to me. Once it gets below 80% (in my estimation), I have to carefully consider if it's worth attempting. There might be a situation where a shot that's only 50% has to be tried because, for instance, you're 2 down with 2 to play in match play and your opponent is already near the green in two shots and you have 240 yards to the hole on a par-5 and you need eagle to keep the match alive. Even if you stand over your ball and say, "I can probably only hit this on the green 50% of the time", you have to try that shot at that point.

So the shot facing my player yesterday fell way, way below my 80% rule. But simply chipping the ball out to the front part of the fairway (assuming that could have been done correctly, which, 80% of the time, it would have) would have given him a puncher's chance of either putting or chipping the ball in for par and would have almost guaranteed him a bogey-five at worst.

The summary: By playing the ball away from the flag and back to the front of the fairway, my player would make par or bogey 80% of the time. Frankly, he probably makes par or bogey 90% of the time. But the whole shot fell easily within my 80% rule.

Alas, without that kind of information at his disposal and lacking the experience to understand how to plot his way through the shot, the young player made a triple-bogey.

Afterwards, though, when I explained it to him, he genuinely seemed to understand. "Your first step was to evaluate the difficulty of the shot you faced," I said to him. "Once you realized how hard it was going to be to make a par, your next step was to figure out how to gurantee yourself a bogey. Bogey actually became your par, if that makes sense."

And then I explained, in depth, the 80% concept. "If you stand over that third shot and can't say to yourself, "I expect to get this up and down 80% of the time", it's not the right shot at that moment," I said. "Once you figure out it's not 80%, now you have to come up with a shot of some other kind that does fit the 80% rule."

I use 80% all the time in golf. If I have a difficult lie in the rough and I'm 190 out, I'll say, "If I drop 10 balls here, can I honestly expect to get 8 of them on the green?" If the answer is "no", (and being honest with yourself is a huge part of playing good golf), you have to then figure out what shot you're going to hit that fits within the 8 out of 10 balls theory.

"If I dropped 10 balls here and played them all wide right to the front of fairway, 20-30 yards short of the green, how many of those would I hit to that spot? And from there, assuming I do it successfully, how many of those would I reasonably think I could get up and down for par?"

I think the answer to both of those questions would be: "8 out of 10 times."

That conversation and the math conversions have to be done quickly. In my case, having 30 years of golf tournament experience, I can quickly assess the shot(s) I'm facing. "If I just hit this out to the front of the green 20-30 yards short, I'll get this up and down for par. Could I make birdie here from 190 out? Of course. But I would probably only do that 2 out of 10 times given the rough, the lie and the back left pin over a greenside bunker." That's the kind of conversation you have with yourself on virtually every shot in golf.

So I had to smile yesterday afternoon when I was driving home and thought about The Stats Nerd and his analytical approach to football and other sports. I've been doing that same sort of stuff for a long time as well. It's just not as sophisticated or "smart sounding" as his, but percentages and analytics and data have always played a huge role in my golf playing and my golf coaching.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


Last week in the aftermath of the thrilling Monday night Raven’s win over the Colts, Drew said something to the effect that this was no longer a "defense first team." Basically from 2000 until Lamar’s arrival, the Ravens were known locally and nationally as defensive stalwarts. Sure some years were better than others but generally the defense was the straw that stirred the drink here in Charm City.

In fact, over that time there were arguably only 2 or 3 Ravens all timers that played on offense: Jon Ogden, of course, along with Jamal Lewis and Marshall Yanda. Probably only one of those is going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and he’s already in (I suppose Yanda may eventually get in).

On defense, the likes of Ray, Reed, Suggs, Ngata, Woodson, Boulware, etc. became legendary Ravens. The national media absolutely ate up the black and blue nature of the Ravens/Steelers rivalry and both teams were identified as defense first, tough, physical football teams.

And that legacy to some extent or another still seems to stick to these teams. Listening to commentators talk about the Ravens they talk about the aggressiveness of Wink’s scheme. The defensive mentality embodied in “Play Like a Raven” is often espoused. But our eyes show us a different picture. This is, and has been for the last several seasons, an offense first team led by it’s quarterback. And it’s unlikely that will change in the near future.

But are defenses relatively worse now across the league than they were, say, 10-20 years ago? It sure seems that way. Points are steadily rising year after year. 2020 saw the highest average points per game in the history of the NFL. 2021 is trending to break that record again. But what is the best way to measure the slip in defense over the last decade or two?

Expected Points (EP)

Enter EP. Similar in some ways to more advanced analytics in other sports, EP attempts to quantify the offense’s chance of scoring on each play and how much a particular play adds or negates that chance of scoring. The chance of scoring is, of course, a function of how far the team is from the opposing team’s end zone AND what down it is. So 1st and 10 from the opponents 40 will have a higher EP than 2nd and 12 from the teams own 18.

Expected Points Added (EPA)

Once we know the team's EP based on a particular starting field position, we can calculate the EPA of that drive. For example, if the EP of starting on the team’s own 40 is 1.8 and that team goes 3 and out and punts, the EPA of that drive is -1.8. If the team drives to the opponents 20, stalls out and kicks a field goal the EPA of that drive is 1.2 (3 points scored less 1.8 of EP). Then those fractional EPA amounts are aggregated over the course of a game to determine the team’s EPA per game (note this calculation is done for every play in a drive but for simplicity I’m only showing it in per drive format). Obviously, negative is good for the defense but not for the offense.

How is this helpful when evaluating defenses? Well it’s entirely possible that a defense could be playing quite well even if they give up a lot of points. Basically it largely comes down to field position. If a defense is consistently having to defend a short field due to turnovers or special teams play, it’s logical that they are going to look bad on the scoreboard. But if a defense comes on the field facing an offense on their own 40, giving up a field goal is NOT the same as giving up a field goal starting at the opposing team's 5 yard line. EPA attempts to quantify the difference in those 3 points from an expectation perspective.

Expected Points Added Per Play (EPA/Play)

Generally analytic types will break this down further into EPA/Play. Why you ask? Well breaking this down into per play results allows us to better see how consistently well the defense is playing. Think of it this way: if the defense comes on and gives up a 12 play TD drive that is far different than a defense giving up that same touchdown on 3 quick plays.

So what does this all have to do with the defenses of today vs. yesteryear? Do the stats support the thesis that defenses aren’t as good as they were in past? Let’s take a look.

The Best Defenses

In 2006, the top 5 defenses averaged -.1422 EPA/Play (I only selected 2006 since that was such a great Raven defense). Over a standard game of 75 snaps, those defenses allowed over 10.5 FEWER points than expected given their opponent’s starting field positions. In 2019, the top 5 defenses averaged -.0872 EPA/Play. Over that same 75 snap game those defenses allowed only 6.5 fewer points than expected. That means that the best 5 defenses in a given season have given up roughly 4 more points more than expectation from 2006 to 2019. That’s a pretty big shift. (Note that EP is based off of historical data so the average EPA in a season is not zero).

Defensive Consistency

A lot of analytic types believe that defenses revert to the mean statistically from year to year. In other words, gone are the days of consistently dominating defenses that are the best in the league each yearr. The Steelers of the 1970’s, the Bears of the 1980’s, the early 90’s Giants and the 00’s Ravens were all legendary, dominant defenses virtually year after year.

Is it possible to build a defense like that anymore? It certainly doesn’t appear so. Over the full seasons of 2017-2020 and the first six games of the 2021 season, 20 different teams have been in the top 8 of EPA/Play in one of those periods. Only 2 teams have been in the top 8 for 4 out of 5 of those time periods: Baltimore and Minnesota. And none of the EPA/Play values were anywhere close to the EPA/Play values for the early 2000’s leaders.

Why has this Happened?

Well everyone has a theory on why and I think most of those theories carry some weight:

* Offenses are more sophisticated and diverse

* Offenses use more of the field on every play by definition requiring the defense to defend a larger space

* Quarterbacks are generally better and can do more to defeat the defense with both their arms and legs

* Quarterbacks are more protected now than in the early 2000’s and before

* Receivers and ball carriers are more protected particularly across the middle of the field

* Coaches are making better decisions and thus extending drives particularly on 4th downs

I’m sure there are other reasons that account for some of the tilting of the field in favor of offenses. Will this trend continue? My guess is yes. The talent at QB from the last 3 or 4 years is arguably better than it’s ever been in my lifetime. Couple that with better schemes and offensive play calls and I think the trend will continue to show less defensive success relative to historical defenses.


The Dallas Cowboys are in a really strange spot. They are 5-1 and have the look of a Super Bowl contender from the NFC. Their offensive weapons are as good as any in the league and their QB is among the best 4 or 5 at his position. The defense is not great but has improved tremendously and features one of the hottest young corners in the league in Trevon Diggs. But there is increased grumbling that Mike McCarthy is simply incapable of managing a game.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has been criticized for clock management decisions all the way back to his days in Green Bay.

To be fair to McCarthy, he seems more often than not to get the 4th down decisions right. But his time management is a potential ticking time bomb. Google McCarthy game management and you will see a litany of articles and talking head snippets sounding a warning about the issue.

Sunday’s game was the latest, perfect illustration that he seems not to understand situational football. Dak hit his receiver on 3rd and 25 for a 25 yard gain to the New England 31. That left a 4th and 1 which McCarthy decided to eschew instead deciding to try the game tying FG. OK fine, the decision models slightly favored Go For It but not enough to jump up and down about. But inexplicably he immediately ran to the official and called time out with 24 seconds left!

What is the point of that time out with that much time left? I guess the only way it could make sense is if he isn’t sure whether he wants to go for it or not (Dallas still had one additional timeout left). But absent that, calling a timeout which leaves New England time for a nice return or long completion makes no sense. If you are going to kick it, let the clock run down to 3 seconds or whatever and then call your time out. Are either of those LIKELY to occur? No but why give them any chance even if that chance is, say, 5%. It’s taking on unnecessary risk with no real reward at all.

Now, this decision could, of course, be explained. Perhaps he wasn’t entirely convinced that kicking was the right call. Maybe he wanted to consult with Dak or his coordinators about that decision. But given his history of questionable decisions in prior years, this year and, frankly, earlier in that very game I think the assumption that he made a poor decision is a fair one.

But what I think makes this all so interesting is everything going on in Dallas. Their offensive coordinator is the current hot young mind, Kellen Moore. He is likely to be pursued for whatever head coaching vacancies are available after this season. The defensive coordinator is former Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn. Although that experience deteriorated quickly, there is no question that Quinn has turned around that Dallas defense from it’s laughably bad 2020 ranking. They may not be the best in the league but they may not need to be either.

Both of these men call all the plays for their respective groupings. McCarthy’s only job is to be the game manager, CEO type and that performance is probably questionable at best. I read an article by a Cowboys analyst that questioned whether McCarthy should be relieved of his duties and those duties granted to Moore. What??? They are 5-1 and likely amongst the best 2 or 3 teams in the NFC!

So while I think all of that is crazy talk, I wonder what happens if McCarthy botches a series of late game decisions or the team goes on a 3 game losing streak. Jerry Jones has not been one to make rash decisions. He held on to Jason Garrett, who was FAR worse than McCarthy at these game management decisions, for far too long. But I wonder if the desire to retain a hot young coach coupled with any obvious poor decisions by McCarthy that costs the Cowboys games could change Jones' stance.

It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on Big D for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs.


Rory McIlroy had a nice weekend in winning this past weekend’s CJ Cup out in Vegas. He and Rickie Fowler were essentially tied for first in SG Off the Tee for the week. He was 5th in SG Putting and 5th in SG Around The Green. But oddly he was 67th out of 77 in SG Approach to the Green. That is a strange collection of rankings. My guess is that in a full field event, Rory would not have won with these statistics.

I usually preach that ball striking is the key to winning consistently on the PGA Tour. And clearly the evidence points us in that direction. But in any given week the stats can look a little funky. I would wager that no winning players for the remainder of the season will be in the bottom 15% of either SG ball striking category.

I also wouldn’t put too much weight in the results from just one event giving a clear picture of Rory’s trend. His driver has ALWAYS been his best weapon. He is arguably one of the top 5 or so drivers of the ball ever on the PGA Tour. His iron play, while not as sharp as his driving, has fairly consistently seen him ranked in the 30’s.

With Rory it has always been about the putting. When he has had good putting weeks and years he can be close to unbeatable. More often when he has struggled with the flat stick he occasionally looked lost on the golf course.

But I certainly hope he gets his game together and starts contending in majors. Rory moves the needle probably more than any other golf figure post-Tiger. For the last 4 or 5 seasons it seems something or other has always held him back.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


USMNT Stock Watch


After picking up two wins in three games through the World Cup qualifying window, the US men resumed their club seasons this weekend. It was a quieter weekend than most as several key Americans got a rest after the journey back to Europe.

With two sets of qualifiers in the books we have a good idea who makes up the core of the US roster. So going forward I’m changing the format of this weekly review a bit. Instead of just highlighting the key American performances from the weekend, I’ll frame it in the context of the evolving roster and which players have improved or hurt their stock for selection going forward.

Stock Up

After two outstanding performances for the US last week, Sergino Dest carried his strong form back to his club team, Barcelona. During the qualifying window, Dest demonstrated why he is one of the most critical players on the US roster. On Sunday he showed that he can be a key performer for a young Barcelona team this season as well.

Sergino Dest enjoyed a nice game for the U.S. vs. Costa Rica last week and promptly continued that fine play wit his club team, Barcelona.

Dest started at right wing back in Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Valencia. When attacking, Dest was pushed up very high, essentially becoming the right winger for Barcelona. From that spot he had a sizable impact on the game. He created a good chance early on with a nice passing sequence that progressed the ball nearly the length of the field. Towards the end of the first half he played another nice combination in the box to set up a good shot for his teammate. Late in the game he made an overlapping run into the box, beat a couple defenders and squared a pass that Philippe Coutinho easily scored to put Barca up 3-1 and seal the victory.

Dest’s fullback partner for the US had a strong return to his club as well. Antonee Robinson subbed on midway through the second half of Fulham’s 4-1 win over Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. The American left back had an immediate impact on the game, helping to set up one goal then capping the game off with a goal of his own in the final minutes. Robinson currently has locked down the left back spot for the US, so his strong club form is a good sign for the team moving forward.

Gianluca Busio also continues to improve his standing with the team. The young midfielder made a good impression in his substitute appearance to see out the Costa Rica win. On Monday he returned to the starting lineup for Venezia and was a key contributor in a 1-0 upset win over Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A.

The fact that Busio was inserted right back into the starting lineup was a positive sign on its own, but the teenager picked right up on the impressive form he displayed before the international break. Busio was poised on the ball and delivered several beautiful passes in behind the Fiorentina back line. The best of which found his teammate streaking into the box and opened up an easy square ball for the only goal of the game. In addition to his passing, Busio demonstrated his improving defensive edge, making several tough tackles to snuff out opposition chances.

With mediocre performances from several veteran midfielders in October, Busio is quickly climbing up the US depth chart. Busio flashes a passing eye and touch that no other midfielder in the US pool can match. If he can continue to progress and round out his game against top European competition, he could be a real asset to the US team by the time they head to Qatar.

One more player who improved his stock this weekend was Gyasi Zardes. Off the back of an uneven performance for the US, Zardes hit the ground running with the Columbus Crew, scoring two headed goals in a 4-0 rout of Inter Miami. The striker position has been in constant flux for the US, so it is critical that those options are contributing for their clubs in between the international breaks. Zardes is a fairly known commodity and provides a baseline that other American forwards need to exceed to get in the team.

Stock Down

After missing the cut for a call up to the October qualifiers, Josh Sargent hoped to start earning his way back into the squad by impressing for Norwich CIty. He got the start as one of a striker pair in their 0-0 draw with Brighton over the weekend. While it wasn’t all bad for Sargent, he squandered several good opportunities with poor touches in a game where his team desperately needed someone to step up and score. He is always a hard worker when on the field and he got himself into good positions in this game, but with both club and country he needs to become a more clinical finisher to have an impact on games. The good news is he appears to still be in the good graces of his coach and should continue to get minutes to improve his standing.

Stock Unchanged

Zack Steffen got a rare start for Manchester City right on the heels of his start for the US. With starting goalie Ederson forced to quarantine after his time with the Brazilian national team, Steffen stepped in and performed admirably in a 2-0 win over Burnley. He was not tested often, but he did come up with one big save when an attacker got behind the Man City defense one on one with the keeper. Steffen may get another big opportunity to start in City’s Champions League matchup on Tuesday with Belgian champs, Brugge.

Yunus Musah had a strong window for the US, staking a claim to be one of the first choice midfield options. The teenager made a late second half substitute appearance in central midfield for Valencia in their loss to Sergino Dest and Barcelona. Despite the limited minutes, Musah did produce one signature moment, dribbling through several defenders to burst down the side and draw a corner for Valencia as they tried to claw back into the game. From a US perspective it would be great to see Musah continue to get extended minutes for his club, especially if those minutes can come in more central midfield positions rather than out wide.

Another busy week lies ahead for the Americans abroad. The Champions League resumes on Tuesday with a plethora of US players set to take part in the game’s top competition. Zack Steffen and Tyler Adams are likely to start in this afternoon’s games, with Sergino Dest, Brenden Aaronson, John Brooks, Jordan Pefok, Tim Weah, and Weston McKennie all probable to see the field on Wednesday.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Tuesday
October 19, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2612


just say "i was wrong" and move on


Part of the enjoyment of seeing the Ravens run (and pass) roughshod over every team in their way is watching, hearing and reading the backpedaling on Monday morning from national and local sports media professionals.

It's more fun than the team winning, in a weird kind of way.

In the old days on the radio, we had a friend from Indianapolis (maybe? probably not?) who would call my show promptly at 8:30 am every Monday following a Ravens loss. It was a running gag for, oh, I don't know, the better part of 10-12 years maybe, and "Merton" built himself quite a following of angry Ravens fans when he would call the show and laugh about their misfortunes from the day prior.

I thought it was funny, personally. In fact, I would often remark while sitting next to Glenn or Ray or Luke in the pressbox during the waning minutes of a Ravens loss, "Well, at least tomorrow morning will be fun..."

These days, the same logic goes for the Ravens, except it involves wins and not losses. I love getting up the next morning and watching the morning sports shows or listening to talk radio (or reading the internet) to see how many people backtrack or ask silly questions in the wake of yet another solid performance from either the Ravens or Lamar Jackson.

Is Lamar elite? That's like asking if the sun is hot.

To wit, yesterday, here was one headline being discussed on TV by three former NFL players, all of whom should know better: "Are the Ravens for real?"

Here we are in week #6 and thus far in '21 the Ravens have defeated Kansas City, battered a previously unbeaten Denver team in their own stadium, and absolutely demolished a supposedly-strong Los Angeles Chargers squad. Oh, and they also staged a comeback from death's doorstep that would have made The Undertaker proud, scoring 16 fourth quarter points and an overtime touchdown to stun the Colts in Baltimore.

The Ravens are 5-1. They are what their record says they are, just like they would be if two or three of those wins would have turned into losses. But they're 5-1 and just embarrassed the poor Chargers and people are still wondering if they're "real" or not? #clownshoes

The other topic, though, is even more hilarious.

This one popped up yesterday afternoon, as predictable as the Caps getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs: "Is Lamar Jackson elite?"

There it is. The "E" word. Is Lamar elite? Well, where do we start? He's 35-8 in his career (regular season). In a 16-game season, that would be nearly three full years of playing football for him. 35 wins. 8 losses. He won the MVP award in 2019 and the vote was unanimous in his favor. He's played three years in the league and the Ravens have made the playoffs in all three, albeit in 2018, he actually had to rescue the team from a disastrous first half start in order to navigate his way into the post-season.

Is Lamar elite? People are really still asking that? And hoping for an argument? #moreclownshoes

Of course he's elite. All the guy does is win football games. If he's not elite, what, then, is he exactly?

These supposed experts are in quite the quandry. They've stood on the hill and said, "The Ravens can't win with Lamar at quarterback" and/or "Lamar Jackson isn't an elite NFL quarterback."

The time has come.

What time is it, you ask?

The time has come for people to just say, "I was wrong."

It's easy to do. It's not always comfortable to do, mind you, but it's actually fairly easy to do.

Now, granted, today's sports media world is largely built on people making a call on something and then sticking with it through thick and thin. In 2021, saying "I was wrong" is really taboo. You make your "hot take" and then you put those cement shoes on and stand there and refuse to budge. That's why you don't hear many folks say "I was wrong". You spent all that time telling everyone you were right, only to say later, "I wasn't right"?? Not good form.

Ask Curtis Strange how easy it is to say "I was wrong." After interviewing Tiger Woods the week he turned professional in August of 1996, Strange told a Golf Digest reporter who watched the interview, "If that young man thinks he's coming out on TOUR and beating our brains in, he's in for a rude awakening."

The following April, a week after the '97 Masters that Tiger won by something like 30 shots, Strange confessed: "I was wrong. He's going to be an amazing player out here."

It's easy to do.

In fact, I'll do it right now. I was wrong about Sammy Hagar. When the guys from Van Halen sent David Lee Roth packing, I didn't think there was any way the band could survive without the California front man. "It's over for them," I declared.

When they hired Sammy Hagar to replace DLR, I laughed. "That dude? No way..."

I was wrong. Van Halen was excellent with Hagar on lead vocals. I know some folks -- like me -- still think the DLR version was better than the Hagar version, but I know others who feel like the band's sound was more polished and powerful with Hagar singing instead of Roth.

Either way, though, I was wrong about Hagar. He was an excellent addition to the band.

I was also wrong about Major League Soccer. When they announced plans for the new outdoor league in 1994, I laughed at the notion that our country was yet again going to try and pull off a national outdoor soccer league. I was running the Baltimore Spirit (nee Blast) at the time and the outdoor concept was intriguing to a number of my players.

"Go ahead and sell your soul to that outdoor league," I thought. "You'll be back in the indoor game in a year or two once no one goes to the games in San Jose, Miami, Washington, Chicago and so on."

I was wrong.

MLS has been around since 1995 and today gets $200 million for an expansion fee. Pretty good for a league no one thought would survive, huh?

I didn't see outdoor soccer surviving and thriving in the United States. Soccer had been a popular "participation sport" but it hadn't -- as of 1995 -- figured out a way to become a "spectator sport" as well. MLS figured it out.

I was wrong about MLS.

See how easy that was? You just say, "I was wrong." It happens all the time. I thought I could get a pitching wedge to the 2nd green from 131 yards on Sunday up at Jeffersonville Golf Club outside of Philadelphia and it turns out the most I could get out of it was about 126 yards. Wrong club. Wrong shot. Wound up leaving myself with an impossible short-side up and down opportunity. I should have armed a 9-iron up there instead of the hard pitching wedge. I was wrong.

I signed Branko Segota -- the legendary former member of the San Diego Sockers -- in 1996 to play with the Spirit, bad knee and all. I figured Segota would play half of the 40 regular season games and then be ripe for the playoffs. I was half right. He played roughly 20 of the 40 regular season games. But I was wrong about the playoffs. He was OK in the post-season, but he certainly didn't perform like the Segota we all knew from the San Diego days. It was, as it turned out, the wrong signing.

These NFL talking heads and sports media "professionals" should just get it out of the way now, before they embarrass themselves any further.

"I was wrong about the Ravens. They're really good."

"I was wrong about Lamar Jackson. He's an elite quarterback."

It's so easy to just say it and get it over with.

Anyone refusing to say it now will wind up looking more dumb in January than they already look for not saying it in October.

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rory and rickie...are both back?


OK, so one tournament does not a revival make. I get it. And last weekend's CJ Cup in Las Vegas wasn't exactly a major or The Players or heck, even The Memorial or The Honda Classic.

Back in the winner's circle.

But the event did feature a really good field and Rory McIlroy picked up his 20th career win with a 25-under par total that nipped Collin Morikawa by one shot.

Not that it mattered in the end, because T3 finishes on TOUR are like free bus passes when you're a millionaire, but Rickie Fowler was in the hunt all weekend and actually owned an early 3-shot lead on Sunday before his putter faltered and he finished up tied for third.

Fresh off of a 2-day visit with former coach Butch Harmon, Fowler's golf swing looked like the one he employed to rise to 4th in the world a while back. He's back to the flatter, rotational move and the quick-firing hips. He was hitting plenty of 320 yard drives out there but missing too many putts in the 6 to 10 foot range. While it would have been great to win, Fowler has to be thrilled with his overall play. We're guessing he'll win something, somewhere, before next April's Masters. The golf gods have tortured him long enough.

McIlroy, meanwhile, is still the sport's biggest puzzle. He has a great golf swing and -- generally -- a remarkable head on his shoulders. While he's not the best putter out there, he makes enough of them to always look like he could run away with any event. Something's been missing over the last few years though. He still wins occasionally, just enough to remind us of how great he is, but he's no longer the dominant force he was circa 2014.

Other than Tiger, who obviously isn't returning, there are probably two players in golf who can lift the sport in the same manner as Woods; McIlroy and Fowler. Both are huge needle movers, both in terms of local interest and ticket sales and within the corporate world, although Fowler's commercial and sponsorship haul far exceeds anything McIlroy has done.

We got one much-needed-triumph out of the way on Sunday when McIlroy won. Now if we can only get Fowler into the winner's circle, all will be perfect in the golf world heading into 2022.

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JOHN DARCEY
on the Ravens and the NFL


Baltimore native John Darcey follows the Ravens on a daily basis and vows to "tell it like it is" here at #DMD in 2021-2022.


A week ago at this time, some local bloggers and media members were criticizing CBS for sending their fourth rated broadcast team to cover the Ravens / Chargers game or the fact that the game was being played at 1pm. Well maybe CBS knew something no one else did, because the Ravens absolutely destroyed the Chargers on Sunday.

This wasn’t some bad Chargers team either. This was a team that just laid 47 on the Browns the week before, went into KC and beat the Chiefs and were sitting atop the AFC West with a 4-1 record. This is a legit playoff team that the Ravens manhandled in all three phases of the game.

But what really made me say wow, was not the defense holding a high powered offense to 208 total yards, it was how the Ravens offense put up 34 points in a not so flashy way.

#DMD's John Darcey says Jimmy Smith and the Ravens defense have to slow down the Bengals this Sunday in Baltimore.

A week after Lamar Jackson set the franchise record for passing yards with 442 against the Colts, he was a very pedestrian 19/27 for 167 yards with one TD and two INT vs. the Chargers. It was a far cry from Monday night, yet the offense still put up 34 points.

Think about this, the Ravens are actually at a point offensively where they can pick and choose how to beat a team. Whether it is attack an opponent’s secondary like Monday vs. Indy or run right at the rush defense like Sunday, this offense is clicking like never before. In a six-day span, John Harbaugh’s team went from throwing the ball all around the field like the ’99 Rams to going back to their roots and controlling the clock and running the ball to win a game. This type of diversity for the offense is something that the Ravens have never had, which could make them the scariest team in the entire NFL in 2021.

Look at last year’s playoff loss to the Bills. Buffalo, in essence, planned entirely to stop the run and make the Ravens one dimensional and throw the ball. The game plan worked...the Ravens could not execute and they were sent home. Now imagine the Bills imploring that same game plan this year? No way that would work against this version of the Ravens offense. It has truly become a ‘pick your poison’ scenario for other teams. And really, it is just a matter of what poison you want to lose by.

Other thoughts on the game…

* Chalk me up as someone who is not ready to declare that the defense is back after their win on Sunday. Yes, they held a very high-powered offense to six points, but the Chargers offense just looked out of sync the whole game. Herbert was not completing passes that he handled all year, Mike Williams couldn’t catch a cold and Austin Eckler was held in check. I have always been big on the notion that a west coast team coming east for a 1pm game puts that team at a huge disadvantage. Well, that surely seemed to be the case. Don’t get me wrong, Wink Martindale totally outcoached the Chargers, but the Chargers just completely looked like a different team than they had the previous five weeks. Let’s see how the Baltimore defense handles the Bengals on Sunday before we declare the defense is “back”.

* Huge credit needs to go out to Anthony Averett. After just an abysmal game on Monday, he shrugged it off and went back to work. Averett responded with a solid game and did not let last week set him back and proved how mentally tough he is. After a game like the one he had against the Colts, many young corners would be on a downward spiral for a few weeks. Ton of props to ‘Double A’ for not letting that happen.

* I really hope Latavius Murray’s injury is not that serious. While Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell both scored on Sunday, I don’t think I want either of them as my lead back if Murray is to miss substantial time. With Ty’Son Williams seemingly in the dog house and all the other good running backs from 2016 already on the team, it could be Nate McCrary time!

* Rashod Bateman hauling in four passes for 29 yards was a good start to his career. What was more impressive were all four were for first down and three of those came on third down. It was nice to see Lamar targeting the rookie in big spots and trusting him to make the plays.

* Though the pick by Jackson when he stared down Bateman was horrible, it seemed like that play call was designed specifically for Bateman to get his first catch. Lamar never saw the linebacker and should have just looked elsewhere on that throw instead of forcing it.

* Why did John Harbaugh wait so long to pull Lamar from the game? It was clearly over well before the fourth quarter started. And I am not saying pull him at the start of the fourth, but it should have been before the two-minute warning. And it’s not like he couldn’t re-enter the game if “you know what” hit the fan. In games like that, take the chance to give the man a rest.

As much as the Ravens dominated the whole game, an assist has to go to Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. I understand they have been very successful on going for it on fourth down this year and that is what analytics tells you to do, but what in the world was he thinking going for it from their own 39 and 19-yard line?! In case he didn’t realize, the Ravens have Justin Tucker and a pretty impressive offense. It was like just giving points away to the Ravens.

* Speaking of head scratching calls, what was John Harbaugh’s reasoning for trying to challenge Keenan Allen’s catch? It was clearly a catch. Now I understand with the Ravens completely in control, there is no worry in losing a time out, but why? And before someone wants to say it was a ‘strategy’ move to give the defense a breather, they didn’t need one. The Ravens really need to look into who is advising Harbs on their challenges.

* Not only is Devin Duverney carving out a nice role for himself in the offense, he is also becoming a serious threat in the return game. Duvernay leads the NFL in punt return yards and had an excellent kickoff return as well. The Ravens may have their best returner since Jermaine Lewis.

* Welcome back De’Shon Elliott, who had a sack and beautiful interception after missing some time. Very curious to see if the team tries to extend him before the end of the season.

* The job Patrick Mekari is doing on the right side of the line is not something that is talked about enough. All-Pro Joey Bosa was a non-factor all game, causing very little disruption. He has done an outstanding job over there and I really wonder what happens when / if Ronnie Stanley comes back. Do they leave Mekari there and bench Alejandro Villanueva or bench Mekari?

* Should we just start calling Josh Bynes ‘The Fixer’? In 2019, when the Ravens had issues at inside linebacker, they signed Bynes and he helped the whole group. And he is doing it again in 2021. It even seemed like Patrick Queen played a little better with Bynes in there with him. Crazy to think that Bynes was on the 2012 Super Bowl team and this is his third stint here. Does he go down as one of the truly under-rated Ravens?

* I know the season is only a third of the way through, but after six weeks and barring a major injury, I just can’t envision a scenario where the Ravens and Bills aren’t facing off in the AFC title game.

On to next week…

At home vs the Bengals. This game should be fun. Joe Burrow is playing really well and Ja’Marr Chase looks like he is well on his way to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. If the Baltimore defense can dominate this Cincy offense, I will be ready to say they are back. But this won’t be a walk away game for the Ravens. Stressful football returns this week. But with the Ravens eyeing their bye week and a chance to enter it 6-1, they pull away late. Ravens 31 - Bengals 24

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Monday
October 18, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2611


who we clobberin' next?


Because I'm the kind of guy who likes to plan ahead, there are exactly 13 flights per-day from Baltimore to Los Angeles International Airport and another 8 that go from Baltimore to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

You might need that information if you plan on attending the Super Bowl in Los Angeles on February 13.

As for hotels in L.A., you should start saving now. I already checked most of them out. You either can't get a room during Super Bowl week or they're -- sit down for this one, please -- $799 a night with a 3 night minimum.

But it's the Super Bowl. It's supposed to be expensive, right?

Who can stop this duo? Well, we know the Chargers can't.

The Ravens continued their methodical march to the big game by exposing another ne'er do well yesterday, as they ripped the Chargers, 34-6, in Baltimore.

The game was so lopsided the only thing left for the locals to do on social media was complain that John Harbaugh still had Lamar Jackson on the field in the 4th quarter of a 34-6 contest. And, because it's what people do, complain they did. Harbaugh did finally insert Tyler Huntley for mop-up duty, by the way, but that didn't quell the critics.

As everyone anticipated, the Ravens ran up, over and through a hapless Los Angeles defensive front. Baltimore couldn't gain 100 yards on the ground against Indianapolis last Monday night but they had 100 on the ground in the second quarter yesterday. And there was nothing the Chargers could do to stop it. It was almost varsity vs. junior varsity stuff, if we're being honest.

The Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead, eventually posted a 17-6 halftime advantage, then poured it on in the 2nd half to rout the vistors, who went quietly back across the country with their tail between their legs late yesterday afternoon. That MVP talk about Justin Herbert? It might have been a tad too soon for that, come to think of it.

But the MVP chatter for Lamar Jackson is gaining steam, for sure. Because it's almost always a quarterback, you have four guys currently on the leaderboard who can make a case thus far: Jackson, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott and the ageless one, Aaron Rodgers. We won't show our home bias here by ranting and raving for Jackson. Not yet, anyway.

Oh what the heck, let the home bias shows: There's no question he's the most valuable player in the league at this point. The Ravens go wherever Lamar takes them, with all due respect to Tyler Huntley.

I like to ask the question "Who does this tell us more about?" after a big showdown fizzles because one team was far superior to the other. Typicall in those situations, I tend to say the losing team gets exposed most of the time, but in yesterday's romp, I think we found out more about the Ravens than we did the Chargers. We discovered that the 31-26 OT win over Indy was a one-night thing for the Baltimore defense, who stood tall yesterday against a Los Angeles offense that had previously been shredding teams almost at will. I'm not here to say the Ravens defense is going to morph into a version that reminds us of the 2000 team or anything, but they're far better than they showed against the Colts a week ago tonight.

And not that we care, because the Chargers are in L.A. and we couldn't really care less about them, but it will be interesting to see how they rebound from that woodshed-treatment they received yesterday in Charm City. Maybe it was Omar's whistle that scared them. Either way, they looked like the moment was far too big for them, which is strange given that they won two weeks ago in Kansas City. They have New England next Sunday in L.A., in case you're wondering.

As for the Ravens, what lies ahead will be even more fun than yesterday's roasting of Herbert and the Chargers offense. Guess who comes to town next Sunday? The Bengals.

Don't look now, but Cincinnati, after thrashing Detroit yesterday, now sits at 4-2 on the year. They're actually in 2nd place in the AFC North and they have a better record than both Cleveland and Kansas City (3-3) in the early stages of the season. If the playoffs started today...

Cincinnati might be 4-2 but their schedule hasn't exactly been difficult. So far this season, they have wins over Minnesota (not very good), Pittsburgh (lousy), Jacksonville (terrible) and Detroit (extra terrible). Don't forget, they also lost to the Packers in overtime in a game they shoulda-coulda-woulda won if they had a real kicker. But there's no question the Bengals haven't yet posted a win that makes people go, "Wow! Really?" They'll get that chance next Sunday, like the Chargers got that chance yesterday.

And here's the good news for the Bengals. While the flight home for the Chargers was 6 hours with their tail between their legs, the flight home to Cincy will be 90 minutes next Sunday afternoon -- with their tail between their legs as well.

I don't know much but I know this: The Ravens aren't losing to the Bengals in Baltimore. Who knows what the spread will be, but take the Ravens and give the points. Do it quickly. It won't be close next Sunday.

As we say here all the time, any thoughts about January football in Baltimore have to include the statement, "As long as Lamar stays healthy..."

So here's a thought about the Ravens...as long as Lamar stays healthy. No one is beating them in January.

After next Sunday's win, the Vikings come to Baltimore on November 7 to complete the bizarre 4-game in-season homestand. That win will leave the Ravens at 7-1. Then it's a 30 point win in Miami, followed by a 10 point victory at Chicago. The Ravens will be 9-1 by the time the next "prove it game" comes along; November 28 vs. Baker Mayfield and the Browns, who got roasted at home yesterday by Arizona.

And if we're being honest about it, the Browns might not even be a "prove it game". Not for the Ravens, anyway. It might be that kind of game for Cleveland, though.

There are, by our standards, three tough games remaining for the Ravens; away at Cleveland, where Baltimore seems to play a lot of close ones, home vs. Green Bay home vs. the the Los Angeles Rams. If Lamar stays healthy...the Ravens are looking at a 14-3 campaign at this point, maybe better.

Oh, and one more tip from the top. Consider flying into John Wayne Airport instead of LAX next February. I'm telling you, it's much easier to get in and out of and, depending on where you stay out there, you might even wind up closer to your hotel by flying into Orange County.

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around the nfl in two minutes


A crazy league got even more crazy yesterday, as teams that weren't supposed to cover the point spread did and teams that should have crushed the spread rolled over and played dead. There was a graphic bad beat in New England, where Belichick and those rat finks gave up late field goal in regulation and a touchdown in overtime to go from covering a 3.5 point margin to losing by six.

Anyway, enough about people's gambling woes. You win some, you lose some and then, usually, you lose a few more because casino owners need a bigger house. Here's what happened on the field yesterday.

JACKSONVILLE 23 - MIAMI 20 -- The Jaguars hit a 53-yard field goal at the buzzer to break a 20-game losing streak. We've yet to hear how Urban Meyer celebrated the victory, but since the game took place in London, we assume he flew home with the team. The Dolphins...yikes. They're now 1-5 and they lost to the Jaguars. I'm not sure which of those two facts is worse.

GREEN BAY 24 - CHICAGO 14 -- Aaron Rodgers threw for a pedestrian total of 195 yards but the Packers rolled to 5-1 with a fairly easy 10 point win in Chicago. The Bears seem like they're getting better -- remember, they just beat the Raiders in Vegas last week -- but just when they have the opportunity to prove it, they lose to an upper echelon team.

Joe Burrow beat the Lions yesterday. Next week he faces a real test when the Bengals visit Baltimore.

CINCINNATI 34 - DETROIT 11 -- Joe Burrow threw for three touchdowns and the Bengals kept the Lions winless. This one represented one of the three or four games Detroit could have won this season. They might threaten 0-17 at this rate.

INDIANAPOLIS 31 - HOUSTON 3 -- Give the Colts some credit. I realize it was Houston and all, but they rebounded nicely from that collapse in Baltimore on Monday night. The Texans could be worse than the Lions, actually. How on earth are they going to win another game this season? Wow.

LOS ANGELES RAMS 38 - NY GIANTS 11 -- I guess this tells us a little something about the Rams, who flew across country for the always-dangerous 1 pm game and throttled New York. I called a Baltimore vs. Rams Super Bowl at the start of the season and I'm stil feeling extra-confident about that prediction.

KANSAS CITY 31 - WASHINGTON 13 -- I didn't think of this until yesterday, but how come "Chiefs" is an OK team nickname but "Redskins" isn't? Oh, never mind. I don't care, really. The Kansas City's got back on the winning track yesterday in D.C., although Patrick Mahomes continues to sorta-kinda struggle. There's been a running joke on social media for the last four weeks; maybe the league has figured out Mahomes. Well, perhaps they have, a little bit.

MINNESOTA 34 - CAROLINA 28 OT -- In a game between two teams going pretty much nowhere, Minnesota earned a road OT win over the Panthers. I get it, someone has to play these kinds of games, but a pair of 2-3 teams desperately trying to get to 3-3 isn't all that exciting. I do like Minnesota's away uniforms, though, if that matters.

ARIZONA 37 - CLEVELAND 14 -- The Cleat of Reality left the Chargers locker room and grabbed a quick flight to Cleveland in time to visit with the Browns in the aftermath of their 23-point home shellacking to the Cardinals. Can you imagine the Ravens ever losing a home game 37-14 to anyone, let alone Arizona? Holy cow. Arizona remains the only undefeated team in the league (6-0), which is a sentence I never thought I would have to write.

LAS VEGAS 34 - DENVER 24 -- It's been a wild week for the Raiders and they responded with a nice road win at Denver. We told you three weeks ago the Broncos were imposters when they were 3-0. That proclamation has now officially been confirmed. Meanwhile, the Vegas offense is still difficult to deal with on any given Sunday.

DALLAS 35 - NEW ENGLAND 29 OT -- New England had this sewed up, gave it away, sewed it up again, gave it away, got the ball first in overtime and......still managed to lose. Give Dallas credit. Their offense is pretty freakin' good. I'm not sure if their defense can stand the test of time -- they gave up 29 points to the Patriots, after all -- but Dak Prescott and Cee Dee Lamb are a dangerous duo for sure.

PITTSBURGH 23 - SEATTLE 20 OT -- The Steelers beat Russell Wilson-less Seattle in overtime and to hear Cris Collinsworth after the game, you would have thought the Black and Gold clinched the AFC North. Here's a quick summary of Pittsburgh: They're lousy. They're now 3-3, which means they have secured 3 of their 7 wins for the 2021 season. Nothing more, nothing less. And, honestly, I'm not 100% sure they can win 7. Seattle's season is over, of course, without Wilson at the helm.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 6


Sunday — October 17, 2021
Issue 2610

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-2.5)


The Ravens have yet another one of these "prove it" games today, the third they've faced so far in 2021.

"Think you're good? Let's see how you deal with the Raiders in Las Vegas on the opening Monday night game of the year."

"Want to be considered a threat to win the AFC title? You'll have to beat Kansas City in week #2 to prove it."

Justin Herbert and the Chargers could present a problem for the Ravens defense today.

"The Chargers are flying high at 4-1 and already have wins over the Chiefs and Browns this season. If you're any good, you'll have to beat them in Baltimore in week 6."

The Ravens, of course, got a couple of early-season freebies from the schedule maker, but nearly coughed both of those up, needing a miracle record-setting field goal in Detroit to nip the Lions and then staging a wild comeback on Monday night in Baltimore to beat the Colts in overtime.

So, today's match-up with the Chargers is certainly worthy of the hype. L.A. comes to town with a juggernaut offense led by one of the brightest bulbs in the league, quarterback Justin Herbert. But much like the Ravens, the Chargers defense doesn't come close to having the same level of quality as their offense. This one could be a 40-something to 40-something result, obviously.

If the Ravens can handle their business today, they'll certainly move into the second spot in the AFC, assuming Buffalo handles their business vs. Tennessee on Monday night in Nashville. The Chargers, likewise, would probably move up as well, although their could be an argument given who they beat thus far they'd be the #1 team in the AFC with a win in Baltimore this afternoon.

And there's always the pesky tiebreaker to consider when it comes to these kinds of games. A win today for the Ravens gives them the edge if the two teams wind up tied somehow heading into the post-season. So there's more to this one than just in-season power rankings and such. This game matters now and, perhaps, again in January.

There's no way to know in advance what Ravens team is going to show up today. Five games into the season we mostly only know one thing for certain: Lamar's going to do his thing and mostly play well for 60 minutes and Odafe Oweh is going to be a formidable presence off the edge. Oh, and Justin Tucker's going to make every kick that comes his way. Those three things have surfaced as "definites" in 2021 and other than that, we don't know much about the Ravens.

We also know the Chargers don't defend the run very well. The Ravens -- much to Vic Fangio's chagrin -- have the ability to run the ball effectively, although the Colts did a nice job of quieting that part of the Baltimore offense last Monday night. If the Ravens can gouge the L.A. defense today with their running attack, this one might not play out as the high scoring affair we're all assuming it will be.

But if the Chargers can get a lead and make the Ravens play from behind, as the Colts did last Monday, the Baltimore offense might be prone to more throws than runs. While Lamar has certainly progressed as a passing quarterback, the best Ravens offensive games are ones where they run the ball well to set up the pass, not the other way around.

The Chargers most certainly present a tough challege this afternoon. Herbert and the offense have been as good as anyone in the league between the 20's, maybe the best in the league actually. Their early-season red zone troubles were well documented, but two successive wins over Kansas City and Cleveland have helped squelch those concerns a bit. Today's game could, in fact, come down to red zone effectiveness by each offense. Field goals might almost be looked at as "victories" for the respective defensive units this afternoon.

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how drew sees today's game


I don't have any sort of historical data to support this, but most of the time when two high powered offenses get together and a guns-blazing-shootout is expected to ensue, it winds up being nothing like that.

A lot of people think the Ravens are due for a toe-stub today at home, but #DMD doesn't see it that way.

That said -- this is going to be a shootout.

But I'm not so sure it's going to be close in the end.

I see the Ravens going up early 10-0 and the Chargers coming back to make it 10-7 early in the second quarter. The Ravens extend their lead to 17-7, L.A. cuts it to 17-10, but Baltimore gets a late TD before the half to make it 24-10 at the intermission.

The Chargers score on their first possession of the second half and then add a field goal to make it 24-20. Baltimore goes back up 31-20 just before the end of the third.

A pick six for the Ravens makes it 38-20, but L.A. doesn't quit. They score with 10 minutes remaining to make it 38-27, then recover a fumble and kick a field goal with 5 minutes left to make it 38-30. But Lamar and the Ravens put together a 60 yard drive after a nice kick-off return and they finalize the scoring with a late field goal of their own. Baltimore wins the highly-anticipated showdown, 41-30.

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every beach house needs an in-law suite


At this rate, we might have enough left over cash to build an in-law suite on the left side of the property and one on the right side of the property as well.

I'll leave it up to you if you charge them room rental when they come in for the holidays.

In case you're new here -- and, if so, the answer is "no", not all of the commenters are snarky know-it-alls -- we're building a beach house with the winnings from this year's NFL pick 'em contest here at #DMD. After another winning week last week, we're now 6 games to the good and rolling along like Cedric Mullins in August. It's almost getting "too easy", if we're being honest, but we know there's always an off week lurking somewhere along the way.

We'll do our best to avoid that off week this week.

By the way, the sunrise goes right into the bedroom window of the in-law suite to the left of the outdoor putting green. We call those "development quirks". It's up to you whose parents stay on which side of the beach house, by the way. We're not getting involved in that one.


BENGALS AT LIONS (+3.5) -- Bengals at Lions...get it? Kind of cool if you ask me. Like the Eagles vs. Cardinals, only Bengals and Lions are more mean. Or is it "meaner"? Anyway. I just don't see the Lions failing to take advantage of this fairly benign match-up. I know the Bengals are decent. And the Lions probably aren't. But let's not forget they nearly beat the Ravens and Vikings already this season. We're taking the Lions and the 3 points here and we think they might even win outright by 26-23 in OT.

TEXANS AT COLTS (-10.0) -- I don't know what to make of the Colts. I thought they stunk and all and then they needed to produce an epic collapse in Baltimore or they would have won on Monday night over the Ravens. I sense they come back to earth a bit today, mainly because they're ravaged by injuries, and it seems like Houston might man-up with a performance that looks like an NFL team. We think Indy wins here, but we'll take the Texans and the ten points in Indy's 30-21 win.

Can Baker Mayfield and the Browns improve to 4-2 today and knock off the undefeated Cardinals in Cleveland?

CARDINALS AT BROWNS (-3.5) -- I think I have this one figured out. I really want to take Cleveland. But I know that's a mistake. So I'm going to take the Cardinals. They're undefeated and all, you might know. But when I take the Cardinals, the Browns wind up crushing them 34-13 and I then say, "Why didn't I just stick with the Browns in the first place?". So, I'll take Arizona here and the 3.5 points on the road. Except I'm not...because that's the double reverse of what I should do and I'm not getting lured into that. Cleveland wins with a late touchdown and covers the 3.5 points, 27-23.

COWBOYS AT PATRIOTS (+3.5) -- Dallas feels like the play here. But I'm thinking New England is ready to show they're actually almost on the uptick with Mac Jones at quarterback. The Cowboys don't "need" this one, but a win here would go a long way in showing they're a legit NFC contender. A loss to the Patriots with a kid at quarterback wouldn't show that, would it? We'll take New England and the 3.5 points but suspect Dallas pulls one out late 26-24.

SEAHAWKS AT STEELERS (-5.0) -- The disrespect for Pittsburgh, huh? Seattle comes to the Steel City minus Russell Wilson and 'dem Stillers are only 5 point favorites? Something smells fishy here, but we'll take the hook nonetheless. Pittsburgh wins and covers the five points in a 30-13 win.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Has to be Pittsburgh, right? They're at home, where they occasionally show their stripes, and Seattle's offense is suffering from the loss of their terrific quarterback. We'll go with the Steelers and the five points as our "Best Bet" today.

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

OVERALL THIS SEASON: 15-10

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 3-2

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Saturday
October 16, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2609


right or wrong?


Over the last few days, I've seen several scenarios presented by media members and social media enthusiasts that are worth pondering here at #DMD.

One of them has a local angle, so we'll start there.

At the Ravens' home opener against Kansas City and then again last Monday night vs. Indianapolis, the team played a well-known whistle prior to introducing the team. That whistle -- known to most of us as " The Farmer in the Dell" - was used in the TV show "The Wire" and was connected to the character named "Omar", played by actor Michael K. Williams, who died of a drug overdose last month.

There was a strong push from social media in Baltimore for the Ravens to use the whistle as part of the team introductions and the team complied at the home opener. The approval from the fans in the stadium was so strong the club continued the whistle before the Colts game. We can only assume it will be used again this Sunday afternoon although there's definitely an angle that suggests it's far more appropriate during a night game than a day game.

Anyway, recently there have been some folks criticizing the team for using the whistle. Their contention? The whistle was made famous by a criminal in a TV show that largely framed Baltimore in a very negative light. And by extension, using the whistle prior to a Ravens home game is highlighting the character -- Omar -- and his criminal ways. There are now fans asking for the team to discontinue the whistle.

Right or wrong? -- Should the team continue to use "the Omar whistle" as part of their pre-game entertainment package or discontinue it due to the connection it brings to crime?

As will be the case in most of these scenarios I present today, I can see both angles on this one.

I understand the character played by Michael K. Williams was not someone Baltimore should necessarily be proud to endorse. By using "the whistle", which was typically a signal in the show that Omar was on the street, the Ravens are simply trying to say, "trouble's brewing in the stadium." So, I see how people would connect the two situations and say, "Is that really how we want our team portrayed to 70,000 people in the stadium?"

I also understand the sensitive nature of Williams' drug-related death last month and how some people might not appreciate having the Ravens connected to him, even in passing.

But here's the deal -- it was a TV show. And, yes, while it did come close to portraying a very accurate picture of Baltimore City, the reality still remains that it was a TV show and nothing more. And the whistle itself was used mainly to offer up a signal of sorts. And that's pretty much what the Ravens are trying to do with it as well.

I do see both sides of this one, but if the Ravens gave me the final vote, I'd vote to keep the whistle. I think it's a unique way to initiate the Ravens' pre-game player introductions.




In case you haven't heard, the Giants-Dodgers game on Thursday night ended in controversy when the first base umpire called strike three on a check-swing that was pretty clearly not even close to a "real" swing. Now, would anything have changed if he would have ruled the check-swing was OK and issued a ball instead of a strike? We'll never know. But we do know he called strike three and it wasn't strike three.

The uprising after the game was predictable. People immediately called for Major League Baseball to once again initiate a study into having computers or a robot rule on balls, strikes, check swings, etc. Just as they've done in tennis over the last 20 years, removing a lot of the human error in officiating would hopefully create less drama and fewer controversial plays and games as well.

Right or Wrong? -- Should MLB consider adding an "eye in the sky" or a computerized robot of sorts that makes balls and strikes calls and can rule on a check swing breaking the plane of the plate, etc.?

Nothing in sports is more aggravating than having a game -- particularly a playoff game -- impacted by an obvious bad/wrong call. The NFC championship game a couple of years ago between the Saints and Rams comes to mind right away, of course. There was also the perfect-game-that-wasn't in Detroit a decade ago that was ruined with 2 outs in the top of the 9th inning when first base umpire Jim Joyce called a runner safe who was clearly out at first base. While that wasn't a playoff game, it was a huge moment in baseball that was marred by an awful call.

Oddly enough, the one thing I would say in defense of first base umpires (or third, if it's a left handed hitter) is that it feels like they get almost all of the check swing calls right. Maybe it's just easy to see the bat head pass the hands from their angle, but it seems like the umps get check swings right almost every single time.

Unfortunately, the umpire didn't get it right on Thursday night in San Francisco.

I'm all for umpires and officials "getting it right", and if that means there has to be some sort of electronic component to getting calls right, I'd sign off on it. There's nothing worse than seeing a pass interference call made or not made that clearly impacts the result of a game. There's too much money on the line for the franchises, players and gamblers to not have the calls be made correctly. I don't know that I want all balls and strikes handed over to a robot or computer program -- but I see the need to give the officials some kind of assistance so that calls -- in football, baseball, basketball, hockey etc. -- are made correctly.


On Glenn Clark Radio earlier this week, CBS play-by-play man Greg Gumbel suggested Ravens fans will give Ben Roethlisberger some sort of an ovation when he leaves the field for the final time on January 9, 2022 in Baltimore.

A stadium wide ovation for Big Ben on January 9? In Baltimore? For a Steelers player?

Most NFL followers feel that the 2021 campaign will be the final one for Big Ben. If nothing else, though, his days in Pittsburgh are coming to a close. He might pull a Philip Rivers and play somewhere else next season before Father Time officially closes the book on his Hall of Fame career, but it's almost a certainty -- if he's healthy and plays, of course -- that Ben's final game as a Steelers QB will take place in Baltimore on January 9.

Right or Wrong? -- Should Ravens fans offer Roethlisberger an ovation at the end of the game on January 9? Or, should the Ravens organization offer some sort of quick message prior to the game, perhaps?

This is a slippery slope, because a lot of what the team and/or fans might consider doing will be directly connected to the score of the game. If the Ravens are winning 33-13 with 3:03 remaining and Roethlisberger comes out for a series and then leaves the field with 1:05 left, might it be appropriate for a quick message of some sort on the video board? Sure. That would be the "good sport" thing to do. But if the game is somehow in the balance and the result matters to the Ravens, there's no way you can stop or interrupt the game to even lightly honor the opposing team's quarterback.

I'm going to vote "no" on this one. I respect -- greatly, in fact -- Roethlisberger's career in Pittsburgh. He will forever be part of the early days of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, which was the best in the NFL for the better part of a decade or more. But I don't think the team should prepare any kind of message complimenting him on his career and I don't think Ravens fans should be under any obligation at all to organize some sort of stadium-wide ovation for Big Ben when he leaves the field on January 9. The Ravens have a football game to win. They can hug and kiss and pray with Ben at midfield afterwards if they like, but not during the game.


In the wake of last Monday's firing (err, sorry, "resignation") of Jon Gruden and the on-going investigation into the 650,000 e-mails that were part of the investigation into the Washington Football Team, there have been some on social media calling for the players in the NFL to stage a one-game "sit out" in an effort to force the NFL to publish all of the e-mails.

You've seen recently some acts of mass protest work to a degree; Southwest Airlines pilots all got sick at the same time recently as they protested the airline's Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Roughly 12,000 Chicago police officers did the same thing late this week as they sought to ease vaccine mandates in their profession.

The NFL's investigation into the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team offices has been bungled from the start. First off, it probably took place two or three years to late. Despite industry rumors and human resources filings that suggested something wasn't right in D.C., the league moped along and didn't do anything until their hand was forced. And even though they're now saying nothing in the 650,000 e-mails is worthy of publishing and punishing (other than the Gruden firing), we are all skeptical of that and rightly so.

What are the players trying to gain by pressing for the release of the e-mails? Do they want to know for sure the league conspired against Colin Kaepernick? Do they want to know about league-wide minority hiring practices? Or is this looked at as just an opportunity to pinch the owners and the league office and remind them that anything they put in writing could come back to haunt them in the future?

Right or Wrong? -- Should the players threaten to sit out one game if they don't get to see all 650,000 e-mails?

A sit-out would be wrong, for starters, and it wouldn't happen, either, because the players wouldn't get paid for any unplayed games. And the last thing you need in the season is strife between the players and the league. Oh, and let's be serious for a second and pull back the curtain: there's almost no doubt there's something in those remaining 650,000 e-mails that could be picked apart and scrutinized and "held against the owners". But the only thing that information could do in the long run is hurt the league, the teams and the players.

This one almost falls under the category of: "Don't ask for it, because you might get it." The players want to see how screwy and nefarious the owners are? Yikes. Do you really want to know that? Or wouldn't you rather just keep making your $2.2 million a year? If you want to use your bargaining power as a union, use it on something you can strongly benefit from. Don't use it on this exercise, where we're basically going to find out what we already know. Most of the NFL owners are sketchy in some way, shape or form.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


With the second three game round of World Cup qualifiers in the books, we take a look at where the United States men's national team stands, what they learned from these games and what to look for in the next window.

Qualifying Status --

With two wins from the three games the US maintained their 2nd place standing in the eight team group. This keeps them on pace to qualify for the World Cup, though not as comfortably as they would have liked. Standing three points above the cut line for automatic qualification the US hasn’t given themselves much of a cushion and will need to continue to add points in the upcoming windows.

It's important to remember the ultimate goal is not just to make the World Cup but to make a competitive run once they get there. There has rightfully been a heavy focus on qualification after the disaster in the last World Cup cycle, but merely making the tournament is the minimum expected. That is why the team should be striving to win as many points as possible even if they move comfortably above the qualification cut off.

The World Cup draw is based on pots of eight teams, grouped based on the FIFA rankings next April. The US stood at 13th in those rankings entering October, which puts them in the second pot. A great showing in the qualifiers could have seen them move into the top pot, but that is unlikely now. Going forward they will want to ensure they don’t fall down into the third pot of teams, because that could land them in a very tough World Cup group if they qualify.

Berhalter Watch

After a wildly successful summer that saw the team win two regional trophies, qualification has been a bumpier ride. Coach Berhalter has come in for some harsh criticism after poor performances against El Salvador, Canada, and Panama. Each time his job has come in question, the team has bounced back with a strong performance to right the course. After the latest win in Costa Rica there is little doubt that Berhalter will be the coach throughout qualification and the World Cup.

In this window, the team managed two solid performances against some of the weaker teams in the qualifying group, and one poor performance on the road with a rotated lineup. They did well to keep on pace for qualification despite missing three of their best players.

Berhalter’s tactics have generally given the team a solid defensive foundation but have at times struggled to generate offensive production. The passing and movement in the Costa Rica game were a step in the right direction towards a coordinated team attack and the Sergino Dest goal was a good example of what the team is capable of when everything clicks. It is clear that the players are behind Berhalter and they fight hard for him, often producing their best games when a result is needed the most.

The biggest factor holding Berhalter back to this point has been his sometimes perplexing roster and lineup decisions. He seems to have a reluctance to trust talented young players, even when they have proven themselves at high levels for their clubs. This often leads him to stick with trusted veterans far too long after it has become apparent they are not the best solution.

His reticence with younger players is strange given the breakout stars of the last few cycles have been teenagers such as Ricardo Pepi and Yunus Musah. Perhaps he will start to shake this tendency after the youngest US team ever to start a qualifier came away with a big win against Costa Rica.

Player Stock Report --

Stock Up

Yunus Musah

The 18 year old Valencia midfielder had a great window as the only player to start all three games in midfield. Musah isn’t a flashy player and often doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but he is strong on the ball and brings needed athleticism and hustle to midfield. He was a standout performer in the two wins and though not at his best against Panama, he was one of the few players pushing the ball forward into attack. His ability to hang on to the ball and dribble past defenders to get into attack is critical for a US midfield that lacks great progressive passers.

Walker Zimmerman

The former MLS defender of the year proved his value in this window as a solid backup option at center back. He may not be quite the passer John Brooks is or quite the athlete Miles Robinson is, but he does everything well and provides a reliable option in the center back pool.

Chris Richards

The 21 year old Hoffenheim center back came into the camp on a run of strong club performances. It was a bit surprising that he didn’t get on the field until the final game, but he acquitted himself well in the win over Costa Rica. He showed good aggression, stepping out of the back line to win balls and push the ball into the attack. He is solid on the ball passing and dribbling out of the back and doesn’t make many unforced errors. He needs to win more aerial battles, especially when the US plays teams lumping long balls all game, but right now he provides another reliable option at center back with an immense upside.

Antonee Robinson

The Fulham left back was already considered the top option for the US at his position. However, in this window he raised himself to a new level, putting to rest any doubts about his importance to the team. He was a key threat getting forward in attack in both of the wins and he also demonstrated his excellent recovery speed to break up counter attacks and regain defensive shape. His ability to lock down the left side also puts an end to the experiments with Sergino Dest in that position, allowing him to excel on his preferred right side.

Stock Down --

Shaq Moore and George Bello

The two fullbacks from the Panama loss may not be back with the team any time soon. The drop off from the Robinson/Dest pairing to Bello/Moore was devastating. Of the two, George Bello probably has more of a future with the team, given his young age. Currently he shows promise, but has too many mental lapses and doesn’t provide consistent quality in the attacking end to help the team. Shaq Moore looked rusty from a lack of playing time with his club and is not nearly sharp enough for national team duty. He needs to sort out his club situation before he can be an asset to the US.

Sebastian Lletget

The LA Galaxy midfielder has been one of the most consistent faces in the team under Berhalter. Oftentimes he has popped up at key times to make plays and score goals. Lletget has been off his game for the US since the summer and he seems to be trending in the wrong direction. In this window he proved that he can only be effective when he’s surrounded by more talented players like McKennie, Adams and Pulisic or Reyna. When tasked with being the main cog against Panama he fell flat. He is not completely out of the picture, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him left off the roster in November to give players like Gianluca Busio more of a chance to prove themselves.

Zack Steffen

Matt Turner has been impressive for the US since his great run in the Gold Cup. Turner’s form, combined with a Covid quarantine, kept Steffen from taking the field in September. In this window he got a chance to get back on the field and he didn’t seize the opportunity. Steffen rarely plays for Manchester City and he seems to always have one or two shaky moments when he starts for the US. The Costa Rica game was no different as he was partially responsible for the early goal. Right now, whatever advantage Steffen provides with his passing, is dwarfed by Turner’s superior shot stopping ability.

Kellyn Acosta

The Colorado Rapids midfielder remains a mainstay in the team, but this window showed some of the inconsistency that has plagued his club and US career. When he brings his A game, Acosta can be one of the best players on the field, but his career has been hampered by his inability to reproduce that consistently.

Looking Ahead --

The US men will reconvene in November for a showdown with rivals Mexico in Cincinnati. They follow that up with a road game against Jamaica. The November window only contains two games. This should relieve Berhalter of some of the lineup rotation headaches that hurt the US in October.

Barring injury, the US should be able to roll out strong lineups in each game. It will be interesting to see how they approach the Mexico game, as they will be the most talented opponent the US has faced. Unlike Canada, Mexico will look to take the game to the US, pressing and trying to control possession. It’s entirely possible this will play into the Americans strengths. The US often struggles to break down disciplined and compact defenses. If Mexico presses them, they will need to maintain focus and avoid sloppy mistakes at the back, but if they do, it could open up space to attack behind the Mexico back line. The US midfield will need to control the ball under pressure and work hard to win it back quickly when Mexico gains possession.

The US should now have a good idea of where they have strong depth and where they need to rely on their strongest players to succeed. They will hope to get both Pulisic and Reyna back for November, as each is nearing a return for their club. The team will hope to take at least three points from the window and anything more would put them in great position moving forward. A win against Mexico would certainly go a long way to securing their qualification status and could push them ahead of their rivals in the FIFA rankings.

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Friday
October 15, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2608


friday stuff


The problem with a 17-game NFL season is nothing is "even". With 16 games, you had the quarter mark after four games, the halfway mark after eight games, etc. How do you divide up 17 games? Just another reason why increasing the schedule to 17 games was dumb, right?

Anyway, there are lots of things that are obvious and lots of things that might not be so obvious as far as the Ravens are concerned. Five games into the season, we know this:

It's very obvious: Lamar Jackson is, barring injury, going to be in the hunt for a 2nd MVP award at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign. That would be 2 MVP honors in 3 seasons, in case you don't remember that he won his first in 2019. I saw something yesterday from one of the talking heads where they noted their top 3 NFL quarterbacks were Mahomes, Herbert and Allen. A homer I'm not, but it made me laugh out loud to see the omission of Lamar Jackson from that list. It's almost as if these folks who once said "Lamar will never be any good" just can't say now, for the record, "I was wrong. Jackson has turned into an outstanding quarterback."

John Harbaugh and the Ravens have a couple of worry-spots; their running backs, Patrick Queen and how to stop opposing offenses.

It's not very obvious: You might not realize it, but Marlon Humphrey isn't having a great season thus far. He's no Frank Walker or anything like that, but Humphrey is certainly playing at a diminished level from 2019 and 2020. While he has consistently been a hard "hitter" in the NFL, his tackling skills have always been a tad sub-par. He favors the "punch out" move more than the standard wrap-up tackling technique, which turns out great on the rare occasion he forces a turnover. But more and more these days, Humphrey is failing to bring a man down at the initial point of contact and it's simply not a great look for him.

It's very obvious: The Ravens have an issue at running back that can only be addressed one of two ways. They can either stand pat with their current veteran trio of Murray, Freeman and Bell or they can try and trade for a veteran at the deadline. Ty'Son Williams figures to get some carries as well, but he's still an unproven commodity. Whether the Ravens can pry someone like Marlon Mack away from the Colts remains to be seen. They might very well need Mack or someone of his ilk to boost the running game for the second half of the season. Their current crop of ball carriers aren't good enough.

It's not very obvious: Eric DeCosta might have to consider drafting more linebackers next April if both Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison continue to struggle. Both of those 2nd year players have plenty of time to turn things around, of course, but there's also a train of thought that you shouldn't be regressing 20-some games into your NFL career. Queen is particularly concerning given that he was a first round draft pick. If his 2021 season doesn't improve, the Ravens will have to start thinking about drafting his replacement either in '22 or '23, at the latest.

It's very obvious: John Harbaugh's team has a legitimate chance of a deep playoff run, even with their struggling defense. Was the Colts game an outlier or a sign of things to come? We'll know more this Sunday when the Chargers come to town. If Carson Wentz and the Indy offense can produce a 500-yard game on the Baltimore defense, what are people like Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers and Baker Mayfield going to do? But no matter what the defense does, the Ravens will be a tough out in January because of the quarterback and his ability to change the game at any given moment.

It's not very obvious: Bradley Bozeman has quietly put together a nice campaign at center thus far. The versatile offensive lineman has become quite a key piece for Greg Roman and Company. If you remember the Buffalo playoff game, snapping the ball wasn't exactly a highlight for the Ravens. Bozeman has moved seamlessly from guard to center this season and the offense, as we see it, is better for it.


I saw the Tom Brady "NFT" commercial last night during the Bucs-Eagles game and it not only made me laugh, but it made me think: Has any player ever gone from totally geek to totally chic in one year like Brady has since he showed up in Tampa Bay in 2021?

Editor's note: I borrowed the "totally geek to totally chic" line from a great movie called "Can't Buy Me Love". If you've never seen it, hustle out to your local Blockbuster and rent a copy this weekend. What? There's no more Blockbuster? Who knew?

Brady was pretty easy to dislike in New England. Now, granted, the biggest reason why no outside of Massachusetts liked him was because he and the Patriots won all the time. But there was more to it than just the winning and the MVP awards and the cozy relationship with Jim Nantz. Brady seemingly got all the breaks. He was smug. He was...well...you know...he was Tom Brady. A whiner. A complainer. And he seemed too good to do all that stuff, but yet he did it anyway.

But something happened to him when he got to Tampa Bay last year. He became, to me at least, easy to root for. He left Bill Belichick, after all, and said, "I don't need you in order to win. I'll do it on my own." And that's what he did with the Buccaneers. And now, a year later, we're seeing him in commercials for sandwich shops and digital currency and we're seeing a guy with a quirky sense of humor and the ability to make fun of himself at the same time.

Tom Brady didn't need to be well liked in order to get into the NFL Hall of Fame, obviously. But this stop in Tampa Bay has done something to his image and brand that we otherwise wouldn't have witnessed had he stayed in Foxborough.

It's hard to believe, but it's true: Tom Brady seems like he might have been a good guy all along and we just needed to see him away from the Patriots to find that out for ourselves.


It didn't have the greatest ending ever, but last night's Game 5 series finale between the Dodgers and Giants was a showcase of two extraordinary teams. Unfortunately, one of them had to break out the golf clubs after last night's game and it turned out to be the Giants who are on the tee today after a 2-1 Los Angeles win.

Cody Bellinger was the hero with a 9-inning single that drove in the game-winning run, but the contest didn't end without some major drama, as the 3rd and final out in the bottom of the 9th was a check-swing-called-a-strike that almost everyone would agree shouldn't have been the third strike of the at-bat.

Whether that incident triggers another flurry of calls for some sort of computerized (robot) umpiring system remains to be seen, but the supposed check-swing will be talked about all over the country today, tomorrow and, at least in San Francisco, for a long time to come.

Max Scherzer, acquired by the Dodgers from the Nationals at the trade deadline, came in for the 9th inning to earn his first career save. Mookie Betts, the erstwhile Boston Red Sox outfielder, had 4 hits for Los Angeles. The Dodgers will now face the Braves in the NLCS.

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faith in sports


Today's edition of "Faith in Sports" showcases former University of Missouri basketball player Michael Porter, Jr., who suffered an injury while at Mizzou and used his faith to help stay on the right path during his recovery. Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of our Friday segment, "Faith in Sports".


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Thursday
October 14, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2607


back on track


I wrote here yesterday that the soccer rumor mill was swirling about a change at the goalkeeper position for the U.S. men's soccer team, who hosted Costa Rica last night in a key World Cup qualifying game in Columbus, Ohio.

"Don't do it," I warned head coach Gregg Berhalter.

I was not able to see the first half of the game due to a Calvert Hall Golf event, so imagine my frustration just after 8 pm when I received a score notification on my cell phone: Costa Rica 1, USA 0, 1 minute.

Sergino Dest had a goal and an assist last night for the U.S. men's soccer team in their 2-1 win over Costa Rica.

"One minute into the game? They scored on us one minute in?" I said to myself. I had seen the starting lineup twenty minutes prior and knew that Zack Steffen had, in fact, replaced Matt Turner in the U.S. goal. The rumor mill had been correct and my concerns about Steffen were apparently also correct. He gave up a soft goal one minute into the game.

Sometimes you'd rather be wrong than the right. This was one of those occasions.

Fortunately, that would be the only goal Steffen would surrender. The U.S. would come back to tie and eventually take the lead, then hold on for a critical 2-1 win over Costa Rica. By the time I settled in front of TV set, the game was into the 50th minute. But the last 40 minutes I saw featured some outstanding soccer from the Americans, a far cry from the fiasco of Sunday night in Panama.

Someday, maybe, we'll hear the whole story from Berhalter on why he chose such a marginally inferior lineup for that game against Panama, which resulted in a 1-0 loss and, at least for a few days, had U.S. soccer supporters worried sick. But in the aftermath of last night's win over Costa Rica, let's simply rejoice and move on.

So the Americans have off for a month, but they're now firmly in second place with 11 points in 6 games. They'll reach the halfway point of qualifying when they host standings-leader Mexico on November 12. Four days later, they'll play in Jamaica, who posted a somewhat surprising 2-0 win at Honduras last night.

Last night's win erased most of the bad taste from Sunday's debacle in Panama. Six down, six to go, as the Americans (3 wins, 2 ties, 1 loss) look to return to the World Cup next summer in Qatar.


I was talking with a rabid Ravens fan-friend yesterday who presented the question a lot of people have been pondering in the wake of the shabby defense and improved offense the Ravens are sporting thus far in '21.

John isn't a huge Lamar Jackson fan, I should point out. He's not a basher, per se, but he hasn't bought stock in Lamar just yet.

Editor's note: I feel at this stage that any who still poo-poos Lamar Jackson is just trying to save their pride. If you can't watch that kid and see that he's an extraordinarily gifted football player, you should probably watch reruns of Hill Street Blues on Sunday afternoons. He's the real deal. Just go ahead and admit it. We won't think less of you.

"Would you rather see the team win 13-10 or 17-16 like the old days or see them lose 35-31?" he asked.

I laughed.

"Answer the question," John pressed. "Win 16-13 or lose 35-31? Which is better?"

"You're funny," I replied. "Since the Ravens started employing Jackson as the starter midway through the 2018 season, please go back and look at their results and tell me how many 35-31 games they've lost. I'll be here sipping my Royal Farms coffee...waiting for you."

John stuttered and stammered for a second or two so I dove right back in.

"The obvious answer is you would always rather win than lose," I confirmed. "A dummy knows that. So your question was kind of stupid."

Editor's note two: When you're friends with someone for 35 years and they ask a stupid question, you can just say, "that's a stupid question" and your friendship stays intact. Unless, of course, it's your wife asking the stupid question. Then...maybe don't say "stupid question".

"But here's the deal," I continued. "If you're asking me if I'd rather know that the team can definitely only surrender, say, 17 points per-game or potentially score 30 or more...I'd rather have the team that can score 30 or more. You can take your 17 points per-game and try and scrape together enough offense to make the playoffs. I'll take my 30 or 35 points on offense and see you in January for sure."

The Ravens have won far, far more "shootouts" with Lamar at the helm than they've lost. They've already won two this year, in fact, although it's fair to point out the offense was pretty pedestrian for 42 minutes on Monday night before unleashing a scoring barrage on the Colts in the last 18 minutes and overtime.

Anyone who sat through Scott Mitchell, Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright (I left 8 other guys out, sorry) knows all too well what I'm talking about when I say "give me a competent offense with a dialed in quarterback and I'll suffer along with a mediocre defense."

I'll take my chances with this stinky Baltimore defense and this future Hall of Fame quarterback we have right now. We might occasionally lose 35-31, sure. But guess what? Even that will be exciting. It will be much more entertaining than, say, losing 17-16 or 16-13 or 20-10. I'll swap one or two 35-31 losses along the way if I can also accept the dozen or more 35-31 wins that come with the package.

I'm going to enjoy these days as a Ravens fan, in other words. It's so much better than what we endured for the better part of ten years or so. You remember those games, circa 2004, when the Ravens played the field position game and hoped for a 4-for-4 day from Matt Stover. Was the winning nice? Sure. Were the games boring? Indeed they were. VERY boring, in fact.

In this case, in 2021, I'll take Lamar and the offense and see you in January.


Earlier this week, the local high school sports community suffered a terrible loss when 17-year old Mervo football player Elijah Gorham passed away as a result of an injury he suffered during a game on September 18.

The state medical examiner said this past Monday that Gorham passed away from cardiac arrest, multisystem organ failure, a traumatic brain injury and accidental trauma.

Gorham, a transfer from Reginald Lewis High School, was excelling at Mervo, taking Advanced Placement classes in addition to the hours he spent on the football field. He was a bright light to those around him.

Baltimore City school board chair Johnette Richardson said of Gorham, “Elijah was caring and kind and he was always willing to check in on his friends, teachers and coaches to make sure they were doing OK” Richardson said. “He had an enigmatic smile and charisma that touched everyone who met him.”

Gorham’s family says he’ll be remembered for his charismatic and caring spirit. He was the first to help his fellow students when they had a problem, or offer a winning smile.

Playing football was “what he loved to do,” Gorham’s brother, Donta Allen, said Monday. “And he loved to be around his friends and family.”

If members of the Drew's Morning Dish family are interested in helping the Gorham family with funeral expenses for Elijah, a Go Fund Me page has been set up. Please visit the page right here.


You might have noted in the comments below a quick blurb from me yesterday that I wanted to publish here for all to see.

I'm asking that you all move away from phrases like SOD and KOS and anything else that commenters and readers here might feel is disparaging to them. No one should have to come here, post an opinion, and then get ridiculed for it.

So...those days are done.

If you feel it necessary to offer a rebuttal to someone's comment, simply refer to them by the name they use to post under. No more general references to these fictious and derisive "groups" that have somehow germinated here. I put up with it for a while, but when other commenters start getting attacked, it's time to shut it down.

I'm sure you understand. If you don't, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail and I'll explain it to you in a more clear, concise manner. And if the suggestion that you shouldn't use those kinds of references takes you away from #DMD, well, we'll miss you.

We're trying to step it up a bit here. Do your part to help. Thank you.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


u.s. 2 - costa rica 1


The US entered the final game of this qualifying window with their backs against the wall once again. After a road loss in Panama on Sunday, the US desperately needed to get three points against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio.

The US fielded the strongest lineup available, which also happened to be the youngest starting lineup for a World Cup qualifier in USMNT history at an average age just under 23. By contrast, Costa Rica relied heavily on older, experienced veterans.

The only relative surprises in the US lineup were Zack Steffen in goal and Tim Weah starting on the wing. Steffen was always likely to get rotated in for one start in this window but it was a little surprising that Berhalter sat Turner in such an important game. Initially, Paul Arriola was slated to start on the wing but he picked up a groin injury in warmups and had to be replaced by Weah. Both of these lineup changes had a significant impact on the game.

Despite giving up a first-minute goal last night, Zack Steffen picked up the win as the U.S. nipped Costa Rica, 2-1.

Aside from those surprises, Chris Richards replaced Walker Zimmerman at center back alongside Miles Robinson. Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson returned at full back and Adams, McKennie, and Musah returned as the three man midfield and Ricardo Pepi started up top.

The game could not have started any worse for the young US team. Just a minute in, Costa Rica caught the US out of position on a broken play and an open runner at the back post hit a weak shot past Zack Steffen for a quick goal.

The play was a bit controversial because the US thought a Costa Rican attacker who last touched the ball was offside, but Sergino Dest had gone out past the end line and was keeping him onside. Zack Steffen seems like he should have done a lot better to save the weak shot, but he may have been wrong-footed by the last touch.

While the player on the goal line was not offside, on replay it did look like the player who initiated the sequence was offside, forcing Zack Steffen out of the box for a header that scrambled the defense and led to the goal. Either way, Steffen could have done better on both the clearance and the shot.

We have repeatedly seen this team play their best ball when battling against adversity and tonight was no different. After the early goal the US recovered well and took hold of the game. Surprisingly, Costa Rica came out pressing the US a bit and did not just sit back in a defensive block. This probably helped the US to get back in the game, opening up space for their talented midfield to dominate.

The US took advantage and created a flurry of chances between the 12th and 23rd minutes, mostly exploiting space down the wings to set up dangerous crosses. There were two beautiful passing sequences on either side, the first between Dest, Pepi and Weah and the second between Aaronson, McKennie and Pepi, that led to good chances. Another Antonee Robinson cross found Pepi in the middle of the box but the young striker mishit the header.

In the 25th minute the US found the equalizer that had been coming through a Sergino Dest left footed rocket to the upper corner. The goal was set up by an exquisite thirteen pass sequence that started all the way back near the US end line. Eventually, Tim Weah switched the ball across the field to Musah, who laid it off for Dest, who took a touch inside on his left foot and blasted it past the keeper.

After a truly dominant spell, the US had a slight let up after the goal and it nearly cost them dearly. Late in the first half a bad giveaway by McKennie in the US end was followed by an unlucky deflection off Musah that put a Costa Rican forward in on goal, but Chris Richards came up with a huge sliding tackle to break up the chance.

A couple minutes later Costa Rica had another shot in the box after the US failed to completely clear a corner kick, but this was easily saved by Steffen.

The US caught a fortunate break at halftime as Costa Rica was forced to replace one of the top players in the region, goalkeeper Keylor Navas of Paris St. Germain, due to an injury. The US came out dominant once again in the second half. They kept near constant pressure in the Costa Rica area but were lucky to not be punished for a couple sloppy mistakes.

The most notable was in the 56th minute when Miles Robinson hit a weak pass that was intercepted by Costa Rican captain, Bryan Ruiz, luckily for the US Ruiz is an old man and Robinson easily caught him and stole the ball.

About ten minutes later, the dam finally broke for Costa Rica and the US scored to take the lead. After a Costa Rican defender misplayed a poor pass from Weston McKennie, it fell to Sergino Dest near the top of the box. Dest played a deft pass in for Tim Weah, who hit a hard first time shot that bounced off the post and off the keeper for an own goal. It was a nice, hard shot from Weah, but its likely Navas would have saved it if he were still in there.

The goal seemed to zap most of the spirit from the aging Costa Rica team as they started to look fatigued all around the field. The US had several more dangerous chances that they couldn’t quite find the final ball on, including a sharp cross from Antonee Robinson that nearly forced an own goal. Despite maintaining the upper hand for much of the half the Americans still had a few nervous moments when forced to defend several free kicks in the final minutes. In the end they cleared the danger and prevailed with a deserved 2-1 win.

Despite the close score this was a game the US mostly dominated and the individual performances were nearly all positive. Zack Steffen had some shaky moments early on the goal and with some poor passes, but he improved as the game went on. Miles Robinson had his shakiest performance in a US jersey, but in several moments he also displayed the athleticism that makes him so vital to the team. Ricardo Pepi provided solid hold up play and combined well in passing sequences, but his finishing came back down to earth a bit as he missed a few decent chances.

Aside from those, there were strong performances all around. Segino Dest was the Man of the Match with his incredible equalizing goal and the assist on the winning goal. The goal showed why the US must tolerate some defensive lapses from the Barcelona man, because he is one of the few on the team able to produce a moment of individual brilliance like that.

Both Dest and Antonee Robinson were critical to the US attack, providing danger down the wings. It was night and day from the full back duo deployed in Panama and there should be no doubt this is the best combo going forward.

Chris Richards was outstanding in his World Cup qualifying debut. Richards didn’t put a pass wrong all game and was consistently stepping high to pressure and win balls back and push forward into the attack.

The “MMA” midfield trio of McKennie, Musah, and Adams once again showed why they are the preferred selections. What they lack in creative passing they make up with ball winning and ball progression. The trio was active all over the field, consistently winning the ball back when the US lost possession and providing ample cover for the full backs to get high up the field. With the remaining windows all containing just two games, we should see a lot more of this midfield together.

The win in Columbus puts the US back on track for qualification. With Mexico winning at time of writing, the US sits in second place in the group, three points ahead of fourth place Panama for the automatic qualifying spots. This was an impressive effort from a very young team to overcome an early mistake and get a crucial win at home. However, the US still needs to clean up the sloppy turnovers and find more consistency in front of goal to really engender confidence against the better teams they will play. They were a little lucky that Costa Rica was not good enough to make them pay in this one.

Qualifying continues in November when the US will get their biggest test thus far with a home game against Mexico, followed by an away match in Jamaica. Later this week we’ll take a closer look at what the US can learn from this three game window to improve for that showdown with their biggest rivals.

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Wednesday
October 13, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2606


from offensive football to...offensive football?


For most of their life in Baltimore, the Ravens have been somewhat "offensive" if you know what I mean. The quarterback woes, the wide receiver whiffs, the lack of scoring. It was all so lame..."offensive" to a large degree. Defense was the calling card in Baltimore once the Ravens hit the 2000 season.

But the times, they have changed. And people around Baltimore are now asking the question: Could it be possible? Are the Baltimore Ravens -- gulp -- actually now known more for their offense than defense? It seems impossible, right? But it appears to be true.

And I think most of us are digging it.

Greg Roman and Lamar Jackson...will they ever have to buy another meal in Baltimore?

The Ravens were an offensive-minded team when they moved from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996. They had some weapons in the early days and a Hall of Very Good quarterback in Vinny Testaverde. But defense eventually took over in Charm City and when the 2000 team rolled through the playoffs on the backs of guys like Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware and Tony Siragusa, it was etched in stone. The identity of the Ravens was, in fact, defense.

There was a time when Joe Flacco was at the helm behind center when the Baltimore offense was reasonably competent. The Super Bowl winning team from the 2012 season was probably a tad better offensively than they were defensively, but defense was still the team's power button in the years thereafter.

Those days are now long gone, though. With Lamar Jackson directing the offense, it's becoming harder and harder to outscore the Ravens. You score 28, they'll score 30. You score 33, they'll score 35. As long as there's time left on the clock, Lamar and the offense are capable of putting points up in a hurry. Monday's miraculous comeback cemented the notion that the tide has changed in Baltimore. Who needs defense when you're scoring in the mid 20's to mid 30's every game, right?

Of course, that's not exactly true. The Baltimore defense does need to improve, no two ways about it. But the offense is built to score points in bunches and overcome whatever deficiencies the defense is experiencing.

It's been a long, long time since offense was easy to come by for the Ravens. From 2000 through 2018, it was "defense first...and if we can score 17 or more, we have a good chance of winning." Now, the defense is liable to give up 17 per-half, but the offense is built to score 18 or more in each half. With Lamar, anything's possible.

Finally...the Ravens actually seem like a "real" NFL team, capable of running it, throwing it and scoring almost at will. Those days of 13-10 wins are a thing of the past. Thanks, Lamar.


The Jon Gruden story is apparently the tip of the iceberg in the NFL, although the league is going to go to great lengths to make sure the public never learns about the rest of the e-mails that were discovered by investigators who were looking into the workplace environment of the Washington Football Team last year.

There are, make no mistake about it, plenty of e-mails that could incriminate other members of the NFL besides Gruden, who "resigned" on Monday in the wake of the New York Times publishing a number of e-mails he authored with disparaging comments about African Americans, gay players and U.S. politicians. At this point, the league office would be best served to cop a new-fangled-version of the Alford Plea; "We're not willing to admit those e-mails exist but we're willing to admit if they do exist, there's a lot of bad stuff in them."

What do those unpublished e-mails contain? There's no telling. But you can almost feel it...there's likely a lot more in those files other than Gruden writing all the stupid things he wrote. Who would get brought down? Daniel Snyder? Bruce Allen? Other owners, GM's and team executives? Your imagination can run wild and some of it would probably not be that far-fetched.

There isn't much that has slowed down the NFL over the last decade. They've had some negative publicity, of course, but on any occasion they've hit an obstacle, they've been able to move past it. But this situation could, in fact, be something that the league can't just push under the rug. And you know that the powers-that-be at publications like the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Sports Illustrated are chomping at the bit to somehow discover what's in those e-mails and be the entity that breaks perhaps the biggest story in the league's history.

"If there's nothing in those e-mails, why not just publish them all and let the world see it for themselves?" will be the rallying cry from those who want the NFL to self-release the information before the whole thing gets ugly.

The guess here is that all of this will wind up in a high court, somehow, and the league will be under great stress and scrutiny moving forward. They'll be pressured to release the e-mails that were part of the investigation and, naturally, they'd prefer not to release them.

The other guess is that somewhere, buried deep in an e-mail or three, there are exchanges between owners, GM's and executives about Colin Kaepernick. You may remember him. He claimed team owners black-balled him out of the league a few years ago. And, well, what if somewhere in those e-mails we come to find out he was right all along?

This story could rock the NFL in a way it's never before been rocked.


The U.S. Men's soccer team faces a significant opportunity tonight when they host Costa Rica (7 pm) in the 6th of 14 qualifying games for World Cup '22 in Qatar.

What lineup configuration will U.S. men's coach Gregg Berhalter go with tonight when the American side hosts Costa Rica?

The Americans currently occupy 2nd place in the standings with 8 points, but they're coming off a dreadful performance on Sunday night in Panama, where the coach intentionally started a junior varsity lineup just three days after an inspiring win over Jamaica.

Will he go back to the main pieces of that lineup he used vs. Jamaica this evening? To do so would almost admit his failure in Panama on Sunday. But now's not the time to worry about feelings and posturing. Now is the time to put the best lineup you can out there, secure 3 points vs. Costa Rica, and continue the charge towards Qatar next summer.

The first order of business for coach Gregg Berhalter? Start Ricardo Pepi and Brenden Aaronson, both of whom excelled vs. Jamaica last Thursday but didn't start in Panama. Sprinkle in Matthew Hoppe as well, start the likes of Tyler Adams, Miles Robinson and Antonee Robinson, and go from there. These are three critical points on the table tonight. Under no circumstances can the Americans afford to do anything except win tonight.

There are rumors floating around U.S. soccer circles that Berhalter is planning on starting Zack Steffen in goal tonight vs. Costa Rica, replacing Matt Turner, who has played the first five games of the qualifying campaign. That, I'll say before it even happens, would be a mistake. Turner's done nothing whatsoever to merit losing his starting job. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Here's hoping the rumor mill is wrong and Turner stays in net.

The truncated qualifying slate for the '22 event in Qatar has definitely created some interesting elements. Previously teams would play two games in a four or five day period; now they're playing three games in a six day period, which, given the international travel required, does make for a challenge for even the heartiest of athletes. But everyone in CONCACAF faces the same basic travel challenge; home today, on the road four days later, back home three days after. Or, away, home, away, as the Americans faced in the first qualifying cycle in September when they tied at El Salvador, tied at home vs. Canada, then beat Honduras in Honduras.

Berhalter would, under the impact of a truth serum or two glasses of Silver Oak, try and pawn off Sunday's effortless loss at Panama to the rigors of the qualifying schedule and the travel challenges his team faced in getting to Panama. That would all be eye wash. The reality was the lineup he chose was inferior and the ensuing play proved that. Tonight's game in Columbus, Ohio gives him a chance to rebound. If the U.S. doesn't win this evening, the coach will again be under the microscope.

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JOHN DARCEY
on the Ravens and the NFL


Baltimore native John Darcey follows the Ravens on a daily basis and vows to "tell it like it is" here at #DMD in 2021-2022.


My, how the roles have reversed for the Ravens in 2021. What Ravens fan ever thought there would be a day where you trusted the offense more than the defense? Well, that day has come, and I don’t know what to think of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled that the offense has seemingly taken it to a different gear, mainly Lamar Jackson and the passing game. Throwing for 442 yards and four touchdowns on Monday was a thing of beauty. And the Ravens, for the first time since perhaps 1999, seem to have a legit offense.

But the flip side of that is the obvious -- the defense sucks! I mean they just gave up 513 yards of total offense to Carson Wentz and the Colts! Not Peyton Manning / Reggie Wayne / Marvin Harrison’s Colts, but Carson Wentz / Parris Campbell / Jonathan Taylor. That would have never happened in the past. Heck, even the Manning Colts teams didn’t rack up 500+ yards against a Ravens defense.

Is Lamar Jackson headed to his 2nd MVP campaign in just three seasons as a NFL starter?

For years, the fans, including myself, have been praying for a bombs away potent offense that would light up scoreboards and have a QB who routinely throws for 300-plus yards. And it seems we finally have that, which I am very excited about. The offense has finally stepped into the 21st century.

But did we ever think that the defense would be as bad as it is now? The missed tackles, the inability to stop the run and the lack of pressure and sacks on the QB. Jonathan Taylor took a screen pass and went 75 yards for a touchdown, and no one touched him! Did we ever think that a franchise who prided themselves on defensive football, would, dare we say, become pedestrian?

The question now becomes, not "Can the offense come through with a score to help the defense win a game?" but "Can the defense make a stop when called upon to win a game?" Quite honestly, I am not sure. If Indy kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is fully healthy, he probably makes that field goal as time expired and the Ravens are sitting at 3-2 because the defense could not make a play.

Maybe I am just blowing this out of proportion and should instead focus on how explosive the offense has become, what it could be and the fact that the Ravens are 4-1 and atop the AFC North. Or I assumed when the Ravens finally did get this type of offense, the defense would still be its formidable self. Or really, I just never imagined the Ravens defense would cause me this much concern.

Other thoughts on the game...

* An aspect in the improvement of Lamar in the passing game that is not being talked about much is the fact he is now working with Adam Dedeaux. Dedeaux is a private QB coach, who over the years has worked with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan among others. You may recall, Jackson previously worked with Josh Harris. But sometime in the offseason, Jackson moved on from Harris and started with Dedeaux, who he met through James Urban. And what they have focused on is mechanics and footwork. Both are pretty evident and have allowed Jackson to take the next step in the passing game and it shows.

* Hands down to me, Monday night was Jackson’s best game ever. I know must people get caught up in his running ability, which is second to none, but that doesn’t really move my needle. What he did Monday, throwing the ball, that gets me excited. The sheer fact that he threw the ball 43 times and only had six incompletions speaks volumes. His passing ability is getting more and more consistent each week. If it continues to improve, MVP number two could be coming.

* That long touchdown throw to Hollywood Brown...a thing of beauty!

* While the offense did finish with over 500 total yards, that first half was a mess offensively. First off, twice on third down plays, they called a QB run and neither worked. And they weren’t even close to working. Sure, in the first quarter, Jackson tripped over Powers, but the defense was coming. In the second quarter, the defense got him behind the line of scrimmage. I like when Jackson runs, but I like it more when he improvises. Or at least stop calling QB design runs on third downs.

* The drive right before halftime coming out of the two-minute warning could have been a killer. Jackson missed Hollywood Brown on what would have been a walk-in touchdown. Then on third down, he once again missed Brown, when he threw the ball too low. While I realize in the grand scheme it didn’t matter, they had a chance to go into the half either tied at seven or down by three. Which would have been better that the 10-3 halftime score.

* While I will certainly praise Jackson for his passing efficiency, he really needs to work on his ball control. The fumble around the goal line in the third quarter killed a long and efficient drive. What I didn’t understand there, is why not hand it off to Murray? Sure, he has not exactly been killing it in the run game, but the one area he has done well in is goal line situations. Just turn around and hand it off.

* Later they caught a break when it looked like Lamar yet again fumbled at the goal line with the Colts recovering. Fortunately for the Ravens, the refs reviewed it and reversed the decision. It is one thing to fumble at midfield, but another to fumble on the goal line. Those are drive killers and potentially game killers. Hopefully that gets corrected sooner rather than later.

* I really like how each week Devin Duverney is getting more and more involved in the offense. He had four catches for 45 yards Monday. I like how Greg Roman is getting him on the field more and it seems like Lamar is building a trust factor with him as well.

* Speaking of wide receivers, who had game five as the game Sammy Watkins gets hurt? As of now, we do not know the severity of the injury, but it is a hamstring and those can linger. Given Watkins injury history, I will go out on a limb here and say this will be at least four weeks. What I am more curious about, is when or if he does return, what will his role be? Devin Duverney seems to be getting a bigger role, Miles Boykin (don’t laugh) returned on special teams Monday and Rashad Bateman is expected to make his season debut on Sunday. If Bateman does well and Duverney keeps growing each week, you have to wonder how Watkins will fit in upon his return.

* Now, while the offense was great on Monday night, let’s go back to the defense. I am not ready to label Patrick Queen a draft bust, because that is just ridiculous after roughly 20 games. But I will say I am concerned. Queen has seemingly regressed this year and now leads the league with 11 missed tackles and that is only after five games! That is not something you expect or want from a first round pick.

* Anthony Averett had a really rough night. Wentz went at him early and often on Monday and it lasted throughout the whole game. I know Wink loves him, but he got abused. Curious to see if that trend continues Sunday, with Justin Herbert coming to town?

* Odafe Oweh is just a game wrecker and it is great to see. For as many warts as this defense seems to have this year, he has been a true bright spot. Another game, another strip sack. That does not count the multiple pressures he seems to be getting as well. At roughly the quarter mark in the season, he has to be the front runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

* It’s probably not good when a cornerback is second on the team in sacks, but that is exactly what Tavon Young has done. Believe it or not, he is on pace for an eight sack season. His closing skills in getting to the QB are impressive and he also seems to have at least one tackle for loss a game as well, which he had when he busted a run play in the second quarter. After a rough week one against the Raiders, Young has really stepped up since.

* But how dumb was Young's personal foul penalty against Jack Doyle in the game's final minute? Sure, Doyle instigated the whole thing, but that late in the game and at such a crucial part of the field, he needs to control his emotions. And yes, that is easier said than done. But imagine if the Colts make that field goal, all because of better field position due to the penalty?

* There are some guys who just show up every week and do their job and do it well, yet they never get talked about. Calais Campbell is that guy. Not only did he block the field goal late in the fourth quarter, he came up huge the play prior, stuffing Jonathan Taylor on third and short. Campbell is a lunch pail kind of guy.

On to next week…

At home against the Chargers. This game could be a shoot-out, which I would love to see. The question will be, which teams defense can make a stop? Have to say, if this wasn’t a 1pm game, I am probably taking the Chargers. But since it’s not, I am going with the home team. Ravens 38 - Chargers 35

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


It was an extremely busy week in the Stats Nerd personal and professional world so this week’s entry will be rather brief. Just a few odds and ends over the last week that I thought were interesting:

College vs NFL --

A lot of the analytical and game management trends that have become the trendy discussion points originated in college. RPO (run/pass options), jet sweeps, pre snap and at the snap motion, etc. all had their genesis, in large part, in the NCAA. But that doesn’t mean the game management decisions made at the college level are always better. Coaches have historically gone for it on 4th down more frequently in the NCAA but some of the decisions will be far worse. My guess is because the coaches are less versed in this stuff and the resources are obviously not nearly as present in the college game.

This decision, though, might take the cake:

I have a vested interest in Virginia Tech football as I am currently paying tuition there. Last weekend, Tech hosted Notre Dame in a game somewhat similar to the Ravens Monday night game (nowhere near as well quarterbacked of course). Neither team could stop the other. Tackling was atrocious. Receivers were seemingly running free at will. It was not a pleasing watch if you are a defensive purist.

With 2 minutes to go, the Hokies had the ball on their own 27 (referred to as the -27) facing 4th and 1. They had struggled with consistency offensively but had scratched their way into the tie late. Their coach, Justin Fuente, was hired as a supposed offensive/QB guru previously turning Memphis into a relative non-power 5 powerhouse in the early 2010s. But ever since arriving in Blacksburg, his tenure has been marked by mediocrity and poor game management decisions. In particular his use of time outs and 4th down decisions are often questioned. Calls for his head are frequent across social media (to be fair, I saw a post on Twitter from an Alabama fan calling for Saban’s head after their loss Saturday night).

Anyway, this spot, 4th and 1 from the -27 and ~2 mins remaining is absolute no-man’s land. If there were less time or longer distance to go, I suppose a punt could make sense. But, in this case, the models were VERY clear -- GO FOR IT. The difference in WP% was over 16%! The Go For It WP% was over 52%, while the punt WP% was under 36%. I’ve never seen that poor of a decision by a coach from a WP% that I can recall.

Going for it seems risky only because if you don’t get it you almost always lose. But if you do get the first down two things happen: 1) Your team still has the ball, obviously, and can drive down for a game winning score AND (perhaps just as importantly) 2) The other team’s offense , that you have shown no ability to stop, stays on the sidelines holding their helmets. Worst case scenario in all likelihood - you give your team a chance to get into OT and try and win a 50/50 shot.

Obviously, Fuente called for a punt and in spite of a rather solid 48 yard kick, Notre Dame marched down the field into easy field goal range and converted the game winner. Disappointing result.

I think all of the terminology surrounding these 4th down decisions is wrong. Terms like “gambling” and “rolling the dice” make the decisions sound like they aren’t based on anything other than guts and whim rather than statistical outcomes.

I also recognize that these punt decisions are easier to defend after the fact to irate and irrational fans. “Hey I thought our defense could get a stop” is kind of harder to counter than “well I increase my teams WP% by going for it there even though it’s potentially a high variance spot”.

People would have no idea what the heck you were talking about or the basis in the decision if a coach responds with the latter. I also think there is a job security component to these decisions. A string of missed 4th down tries might look bad to the higher ups if a coach doesn’t believe he has full buy-in and support.

But there is not a team in the country that is good enough to give up a 16% edge in that spot. And over the long haul forgoing those edges can be the difference between a mediocre program and a consistent winning program.


Sungjae Im --

I find Sungjae Im to be one of the more interesting characters on the PGA tour. The 23 year old South Korean plays EVERY SINGLE WEEK. He hits it as solid as anyone when he is on and has the look of a player that could do VERY BIG THINGS in golf.

This past weekend he won the Las Vegas stop by 4 over a large group vying for 2nd. He did it with an extremely balanced game that saw him in the top 10 of virtually every strokes gained category for the week. Tee ball-solid, approach play-solid, putting-solid...if there was an ever so slight weakness relative to the field it was in Strokes Gained Around the Green. Even so, he was in the top 15 in that category for the week. Keep your eye on this young man...he is an absolute stick.

But the most interesting part of his story is the back story. He (and all South Korean males) are expected to serve in their military for 18-24 months. The timing of that service seems unknown but his time will come, nonetheless. There are avenues for Im to earn an exemption from service based on winning a major or an olympic medal. But as of yet those exemptions have not been earned. I’m rooting for him to earn one of these exemptions. I think the tour is better off with Sungjae Im as a competitor.


Browns vs. Chargers --

For a person that enjoys watching coaches not even hesitate to make the right game management decisions, the Browns/Chargers game was a pleasure to watch. 4th down attempts, pulling the opponent into the end zone, 2 point tries...it had it all.

Two coaches that absolutely know what they are doing in those spots and their teams executing those decisions are in L.A. and Cleveland. In fact, the only real quibble toward the end was the Chargers not simply taking a knee on the 2 trailing 42-41. To that point, several Browns players said they had practiced that exact scenario previously! Talk about good coaching. They had practiced dragging an opponent into the end zone in certain situations! That would have been unheard of at points in the past.

The Chargers are a problem. Herbert and those receivers are a problem. Ekeler is a BIG problem for a team that tackles poorly (ahem...Ravens). Sunday could be ugly unless they get some of these issues resolved.

Harbs always seems to find a way to get his teams ready. I hope he puts something good together this week because I think Lamar is going to have to stand on his head (to borrow a hockey phrase) to keep up with that Charger offense.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Tuesday
October 12, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2605


from pathetic to electric


Where to start?

The Ravens were lucky to win last night's game, 31-25 in overtime. Yes, that's correct. They were. It likely came down to the flip of the coin to start overtime. First team to get the ball wins. Carson Wentz must have never heard of "tails never fails." He called "heads". It was tails.

The Ravens marched right down the field in overtime and scored a touchdown on the beleaguered Indianapolis defense. That's after they trailed 25-9 in the 4th quarter and scored a pair of touchdowns and added two, two point conversions to knot the score at 25-25.

There's nothing at all wrong with being lucky. Good luck is...good. And the Ravens took advantage of the coin coming up heads. And they took advantage of a weary-legged Indianapolis defense that held up well for 45 minutes before falling apart in the final quarter and overtime.

Lamar Jackson threw for over 400 yards in a game for the first time in his career last night as the Ravens pulled off a miraculous 31-25 OT win over the Colts.

The Colts choked the game away. Oh, yes, they did. And for those of us who endured the move to Indianapolis in 1984, it was a glorious and epic gag job by the boys from Indy last night. Where's my old buddy Merton this morning?

All they needed was to make one defensive stop in the fourth quarter, either in the run of play or on one of the two point conversions. Alas, they couldn't do either of those. A lot of that had to do with Lamar Jackson. We'll get to him in a minute.

The kicking game matters in the NFL. Justin Tucker hit from 66 yards a few weeks ago to steal a win in Detroit. Last night in Baltimore, the Indianapolis kicking game cost them an unlikely win, as they missed an extra-point, had a kick blocked that would have salted the thing away, then missed a 47-yarder at the buzzer for the win. Hilariously inept, to say the least. That is, if you're a Ravens fan. Probably not hilarious if you're a Colts fan.

The Baltimore defense was pathetic. You thought the U.S. soccer team was awful on Sunday night in Panama? "Hold our beer," the Ravens defense said last night. Carson Wentz lit them up for 402 yards and the Colts went over 500 yards in total offense despite losing. It was ugly from the outset and never really got all that much better. The Ravens' best defensive play of the night was a blocked field goal by Calais Campbell in the 4th quarter.

Lamar Jackson was electric. The comeback from 19 points down was the largest of his young career. In the first three quarters, social media experts lit him up for what they considered poor play -- even though the last time I checked, Lamar doesn't play defense. Anyway, Jackson's legs and right arm were the difference when it was all said and done. He willed the team to a win last night when everything else was pointing to a loss.

The throws he made to Mark Andrews in the 4th quarter -- both for the two TD's and two point conversions -- and the game-winning OT toss to Hollywood Brown were all outstanding. He's a professional quarterback, so perhaps he's "expected" to make those throws, but each of them had just the right pace and precision. And, in particular, the two point conversion tosses were really well done. A miss on either one and the game ends in a loss instead of a win.

Here's the secret about Lamar that probably isn't really a secret any longer: He's a winner. He most certainly might not be the prototype "conventional" quarterback, but guess what he does with alarming regularity? HE. WINS. Players play hard for him. He doesn't curl up after a bad mistake. And because of his athleticism, 3rd and 9 is never a lost cause. Lamar won that game for the Ravens last night. Calais Campbell might raise his hand in the corner and say "what about me?", but he'll have to take a back seat to Jackson on this one.

There's still no telling where the Ravens are headed. They're 4-1 on the year and the only game they outright won with ease was in Denver two weeks ago. We won't go through the game-by-game sequence because you all know what went down against the Raiders, Chiefs, Lions and, now, Colts.

But here's what matters: The Ravens are building an impenetrable wall of confidence when they're down and things don't look good. And the teams they'll face between now and the end of the season also know the game's never over with the Ravens...you play them until the clock reaches 00:00 or you'll lose.

It wasn't pretty, as I'm sure John Harbaugh reminded his team after the overtime win last night.

There are certainly some significant concerns on defense. Either that or the Colts just led a charmed life on Monday evening. The Ravens don't tackle well, they don't pressure the quarterback very well and they're prone to giving up the big play. They'll have their hands full this Sunday when the Chargers come to Baltimore, that's for sure.

But in a sport where, like golf, it's not "how?" but "how many?", the Ravens now have 4 wins in 5 games. They have work to do, yes, but a win in September or October is just as valuable as a win in late December. When the playoffs roll around in January and if the Ravens are hosting the Chiefs, Chargers or, perhaps the Browns, that game last night might be one of the reasons why they're in Baltimore and not on the road.

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gruden gone


In almost every instance when a coach gets fired, there are usually folks who think it was the right move and folks who think it was the wrong move.

Jon Gruden is no longer the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone -- with a brain, that is -- who doesn't agree with that move.

Jon Gruden...gone. And good riddance.

Whether he was fired or resigned is neither here nor there. It really doesn't matter, although you would like to think that Raiders' owner Mark Davis saw the New York Times article early Monday afternoon and buzzed right over to the facility to terminate his now-former-coach. It was that much of a no brainer.

We won't publish the comments and e-mails from Gruden here, mostly because you already know what was written and you most certainly know there's no way Gruden could remain employed. He disparaged homosexuals in e-mails and he has a gay player on his team. He disparaged African Americans in e-mails and he was coaching three dozen African Americans on his team. He disparaged the league Commissioner and other NFL executives in e-mails.

That he wrote those e-mails while employed by someone other than the Raiders doesn't matter at all. He made those comments about people that are in the league, right now, and it's simply unacceptable.

Oh, and not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but if you're dumb enough to write those comments and slander people, then hit "send" and distribute the content to folks all over the country, you deserve not to have a job in that field any longer. Who does that? Someone who assumes he'd never be held accountable for his vitriol, that's who.

The NFL has gone to great lengths over the last two years to show the country they're trying to play a role in relationships between different ethnic groups. When the goalposts have "End Racism" written on them and one of your coaches is sending out racially-charged e-mails, he has to go. End of story.

Thanks for the memories, Jon Gruden. May your departure make the NFL a better place for the people you unfairly disparaged.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Monday
October 11, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2604


pathetic


As I write this on Sunday evening, I've yet to see Randy Morgan's post-game report come through via e-mail, so I'll let loose in this space and perhaps his column will be a slightly more sane and calculated effort than my review of the 1-0 loss the U.S. men's soccer team suffered last night at Panama.

In a word: Pathetic.

Another word: Gutless.

One more word: Amateur-hour. (I guess it's only one word if you put the hyphen in there?)

It wasn't just the 1-0 loss to Panama that was so unsettling. It was the whole package, including the starting lineup head coach Gregg Berhalter authored, the incredibly listless play from the Americans, and the total lack of courage they showed in the game's final 10 minutes when it was obvious they were in danger of losing all three points to an inferior team.

To wit, there was a sequence near midfield in the 95th minute (5th minute of injury time) where Brenden Aaronson took 11 seconds to throw the ball in, then dumped it on the ground and allowed another player (Yedlin, maybe?) to throw it in. The entire process took well over 15 seconds of valuable time. It was almost as if the game were 1-1 at that point and the Americans were just trying to kill time and scrape out a point on the road. "THROW THE BALL IN YOU GOOF!" I yelled at the TV screen as Aaronson fiddled with it. That sequence didn't cost the U.S. the game, but it certainly showcased their lack of energy, conviction and attention to detail.

Midfielder Tyler Adams surprisingly didn't start last night vs. Panama, joining the likes of Pepi and Aaronson on the bench before coming on in the second half of a 1-0 loss.

Without question, last night's performance was the worst by a Gregg Berhalter-coached team. And in terms of World Cup qualifying games, it was probably the worst thing we've seen in four years. It was akin to coming to Camden Yards for the final 4-game series of the season and needing only a win to make the playoffs and losing all four games to the 2021 Orioles.

So how did it all go wrong? In a number of ways.

The first hiccup occurred before the first ball was kicked as Berhalter went with 7 new players on Sunday night, just three days after a 2-0 win over Jamaica in Austin, Texas. Of those new players, none of them acquitted themselves well, if we're being honest. Two of the seven were necessary adjustments as Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest both missed the game after suffering injuries in the win over Jamaica. But the other 5 new players? A massive roll of the dice by Berhalter and a complete and utter failure from the players and their coach.

If the 11 starters were, in fact, prepared, they were the wrong men for the job. They certainly didn't play as if they were ready. If the players weren't prepared, then the head coach has to be examined. There are 14 games on the World Cup qualifying schedule. You have exactly 14 opportunities to accrue the necessary number of points to earn your way into the biggest sports tournament in the world. You can't just give away a game or two in that 14-game slate.

Yes, I realize they have a home game on Wednesday night against Costa Rica. You play the Sunday game first, then figure out what you're going to do on Wednesday. Sunday comes before Wednesday on most calendars.

Why on earth would you take the two offensive players who have excelled in the last two games -- Ricardo Pepi and Brenden Aaronson -- and leave both of them on the bench to start the game? Aaronson entered the game at halftime and Pepi came in with 20 minutes remaining and, like most everyone else, the two weren't very effective. But how do you not start the only two offensive players who have been reliable in the last two games? #clownshoes

From the opening whistle, the Americans looked out of touch. Soccer players like to call it "switched on" and "switched off" and that's precisely what the U.S. looked like for nearly all 90 minutes last night -- switched off. It was beyond awful.

Perhaps it was the "newness" of the lineup that mainly contributed to the off-brand of soccer we were forced to tolerate for 90-plus minutes. No one knew where his teammate was or was supposed to be. Balls bounced around aimlessly...marking assignments were missed...passes were off by two feet...it was, if we're being kind, a lethargic, benign effort all the way around.

It's here where we should mention Panama, if at least to acknowledge they won the game by virtue of an own goal that glanced off the head of American forward Gyasi Zardes, who was his usual pedestrian self in his 70 minutes of play. But it wasn't like Panama played great soccer last night. They certainly looked far more energetic than the U.S., but only created a few scoring chances themselves. The hosts then defended like the dickens once they scored their goal in the 54th minute. It was pretty boring, frankly, but a win's a win in World Cup qualifying.

The U.S. now faces Costa Rica on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio and it's entering "can't afford to lose" territory for the Americans thanks to that egg they laid last night in Panama. A loss on Wednesday would be a near-disaster for Berhalter and Company. A tie wouldn't be great, either. A win is almost a necessity, particularly given that this 3-game cycle (Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica) was expected to be the easiest of the slate for the U.S. squad.

After Wednesday's game, the Americans will have played all of their CONCACAF opponents except Mexico. The U.S. is currently in second place in the standings with 8 points (2 ties, 2 wins and 1 tie), but they squandered a great chance to separate themselves last night in Panama.

Let's see what Wednesday night brings before we pile on any more. A victory over Costa Rica and the Americans will sit at 11 points and be in decent position to qualify for the '22 World Cup in Qatar with 8 games remaining.

There's no use in beating the dead horse about last night's loss any longer. It was terrible. Pathetic, really. End of story. On to Wednesday.


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how drew sees tonight's game


These 8:15 pm Monday games aren't good for working folks who have to be up early on Tuesday.

But the guess here is you'll be in bed by 10:30 or so if you're the kind of guy or gal who doesn't have to watch the whole game if one team is comfortably ahead.

#DMD sees two touchdown catches for Mark Andrews in tonight's easy win over the Colts.

By 10:30 tonight, the Ravens should be ahead 24-6. And you can head to bed.

There's not much hope for the Colts tonight. If the Ravens run the ball with any effectiveness at all, it will wind up being a blow out, in fact. Indy's defense isn't terrible, mind you, but they're going to be on the field so much that they'll eventually wilt.

We're thinking this one starts off with the Ravens up 10-0 after the first quarter. Indy kicks a field goal in the 2nd quarter but Baltimore rebounds with another TD and it's 17-3 at the half.

The Colts collect another field goal in the 3rd quarter and then Marlon Humphrey gets in the act with a interception return for a touchdown to make it 24-3.

You can hit the sack at that point, if you so choose.

The Colts rally for their only touchdown of the game midway through the 4th quarter and the Ravens counter with one of their own late in the game's final 3 minutes (we're not sure how Vic Fangio will feel about that one...) as Baltimore improves to 4-1 with a 31-10 win over the Colts.


around the nfl in two minutes


ATLANTA 27 - NY JETS 20 -- Atlanta won a game? Really? I don't care that it happened in London. It's still a win. I assume the Jets feel really lousy about losing to Atlanta.

PHILADELPHIA 21 - CAROLINA 18 -- We knew Carolina did it with mirrors the first three weeks. They're no good. The Eagles might not be much better, honestly. Their two wins have come in Atlanta and in Charlotte.

GREEN BAY 25 - CINCINNATI 22 OT -- This one was wild. The Packers and Bengals both had kicking woes but Mason Crosby atoned for his miss by hitting the game-winner in OT to give the Packers the win. Cincinnati falls to 3-2, but with each passing week they're looking more and more like a real team.

Derrick Henry ran for 130 yards and 3 TD's in Tennessee's easy win over Jacksonville.

NEW ENGLAND 25 - HOUSTON 22 -- Bill Belichick doesn't lose to rookie quarterbacks. He just doesn't. The Patriots aren't any good, really, but they're definitely better than the Texans. If New England wore the old "Pat the Patriot" helmets, they'd never lose. You've probably heard me say that before.

TENNESSEE 37 - JACKSONVILLE 19 -- The Urban Meyer head coaching gig is on the 17th tee. That's 0-5 on the season and 20 straight losses for the Jaguars. At some point, you have to fire the coach, right? And Meyer probably doesn't want to be there, anyway. The Titans will feast on that awful AFC South.

MINNESOTA 19 - DETROIT 17 -- The Lions lost again on the last play of the game, this time on a 54 yard field goal. It was so heartbreaking that head coach Dan Campbell actually shed a tear during his post-game press conference. Now that's devotion. Dude loves his team so much he cried when they lost. Someone better get Campbell a full box of tissues. The season's still young.

PITTSBURGH 27 - DENVER 19 -- So the Steelers won again, but don't worry, they won't do much more of that in 2021. They beat a terrible Broncos team, whooop-deee-doo.

TAMPA BAY 45 - MIAMI 17 -- You thought Tom Brady might have a letdown after last Sunday's nailbiting win in New England? Nope, not him. Not Tom Brady. Not the G.O.A.T. Brady threw for 5 TD's as the Bucs blasted poor Miami.

NEW ORLEANS 33 - WASHINGTON 22 -- Thanks a lot Washington, you bums.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 47 - CLEVELAND 42 -- Both of these teams look legit. The Browns have now lost twice this year, both on the road, to Kansas City and the Chargers. The Chargers only loss was at home to Dallas. If their QB's stay healthy, Cleveland and L.A. could see one another again in January at some point. Justin Herbert could be on the verge of an MVP season in Los Angeles. The dude's really good.

CHICAGO 20 - LAS VEGAS 9 -- So much for the Raiders being any good. They lost to the Bears. At home, no less. Yikes...

ARIZONA 17 - SAN FRANCISCO 10 -- The Cardinals are now 5-0 and the only undefeated team in the NFL. The 49'ers are in trouble. If Arizona stays healthy, they could be heard from in January. But they're still the Cardinals. They might not have the same (bad) luck as the Lions or Browns, but the Cardinals are always capable of being the Cardinals again. You just never know when.

DALLAS 44 - NY GIANTS 20 -- There were almost as many injuries as points scored in this one. Dallas rolls on, now 4-1, and looking very much like a team who could make a deep playoff run if their QB and WR's stay healthy. Dallas' offense is big time good. Dak Prescott is making an early case for NFC MVP honors.

BUFFALO 38 - KANSAS CITY 20 -- Buffalo showed their muscle on Sunday night and Kansas City revealed they're in trouble. As we noted when the Chiefs were in Baltimore in week two of the season, the Chiefs' defense is really lousy. Buffalo toyed with them for most of the night and their defense certainly rattled league-poster-boy Patrick Mahomes. The Bills are legit. Kansas City? Maybe not.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


panama 1 - u.s. 0


The US men traveled to Panama on Sunday night carrying positive momentum from a dominant win on Thursday. Unfortunately they continued a disturbing trend of the Berhalter era, with one step forward, one step back. Falling 1-0 to Panama, the US followed one of their best performances with one of their worst.

From the moment the lineup was announced it seemed that this team was not approaching the game with the urgency it required. It’s understood that lineup rotation is a necessary part of these compact three game windows in order to manage player fatigue with international matches in the midst of a busy club season. However, as soon as I saw this lineup I feared the US would struggle.

Puzzling line-up decisions have U.S. men's coach Gregg Berhalter in the crosshairs after a 1-0 loss to Panama.

Coach Berhalter made seven changes from the lineup that beat Jamaica, effectively crushing any momentum or cohesion that could carry over from that game. With nearly every key player from Thursday’s win missing from this lineup, it was hard to discern where the US would generate their possession and attack from. It's not clear if this was arrogance from the US, expecting that the bottom of the depth chart could compete in a road qualifier, or if it was a calculated move to punt on this game to save legs for Wednesday’s home game against Costa Rica. If it’s the latter, then it is a huge risk to force the team to once again come through with their backs against the wall.

The US lined up with three changes on the backline. Only Walker Zimmerman returned as a starter, with George Bello at left back, Shaq Moore at right back and Mark McKenzie as the other center back. In midfield only Yunus Musah remained, with Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget replacing Adams and McKennie. In the front line it was Arriola returning with Tim Weah and Gyasi Zardes replacing Brenden Aaronson and Ricardo Pepi.

Some of the weak spots in this lineup harken back to the puzzling decisions Berhalter made in the roster selection. It was baffling that Shaq Moore, who has struggled for playing time on his second division Spanish team, was selected over Joe Scally, a starter for a good German first division team. Other effective players such as Jordan Pefok were left home as well.

Even among the players available there were questionable decisions. Berhalter seems to favor Moore over the more experienced Deandre Yedlin. He left a center back having a solid Bundesliga season in Chris Richards on the bench today and opted for the workmanlike Paul Arriola over a more creative option like Matthew Hoppe.

All of these decisions conspired to make this game more difficult than it needed to be. One has to wonder why some of the first choice players weren’t held out against a weak Jamaica team to provide more balance in the two lineups if fatigue was this big of a concern.

As far as the game goes, there was not much to speak of. In the first half the US never looked like they had any cohesion. Their attacking moves often broke down before they could get anywhere near goal and they had several mental lapses that Panama took advantage of to force Matt Turner to bail them out.

The introduction of Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson at halftime provided a little spark, but that was all undone by another momentary lapse on a Panama corner kick, conceding the game’s only goal. A combination of poor marking and what seemed to be a Zardes own goal, allowed Panama to score off a corner kick. Following the goal the game became very disjointed, with more time spent stretchering players off the field than actually playing soccer.

The US played impatiently down the stretch, trying to hit longer balls behind the defense that were not connecting. Neither team generated much danger after the goal and there were several long breaks for injuries and a lot of time wasting from Panama.

There were not really any positive performances to highlight in this one. Matt Turner made some key saves in the first half and wasn’t much at fault for the goal. Walker Zimmerman delivered a solid game in the backline and Yunus Musah was the lone midfield starter progressing the ball into attack.

The rest of the team ranged from poor to indifferent. Sebastian Lletget was often invisible on the field and when he did pop up he was usually hitting an errant pass. Paul Arriola provided his usual hustle and defensive effort, but his limitations as an attacker with poor touch were laid bare as numerous attacking movements broke down. After standout performances from Antonee Robinson and Sergino Dest against Jamaica, the lack of attacking threat from the full backs was apparent in this game.

With all the lineup changes, it was hard to tell if Jamaica was just that bad on Thursday, if Panama was better than expected, or if this game just stretched the US depth too far. Either way, it was clear that Berhalter did not put these players in the best position to get a result on Sunday. If he knew he was going to use such a limited and inexperienced lineup, perhaps he should have considered playing a more defensive style to try to steal a point with a 0-0 draw.

The only good news for the Americans were the results from the other games. Canada surprisingly tied at home against Jamaica and Costa Rica beat El Salvador. This leaves the US second in the eight team table, three points behind Mexico and one point above 4th place Canada.

The team can still salvage the window and keep themselves in good position with a win over Costa Rica in Columbus on Wednesday. Once again, they have forced their backs against the wall, where they seem to deliver their best performances. Hopefully the return of most of the first choice starters, along with a supportive home crowd, will help them get back to the form they showed against Jamaica.

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Sunday
October 10, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2603


sunday news and notes


I assume by now you saw the joke about Maryland football that was making the rounds on social media last night.

NEXT SATURDAY: Bye 27 - Maryland 13.

The Terps don't play next week and people think "bye" could beat them and --- oh, never mind, I guess you have to read it to think it was humorous.

Maryland and Mike Locksley need more games against Howard and Kent State and less games against Iowa and Ohio State.

The season has unraveled a bit on Maryland, in case you haven't noticed.

Eight days after getting blistered at home by Iowa, the Terps went to Columbus, Ohio yesterday and got taken to the woodshed by Ohio State, 66-17.

It was 35-10 at the half and 56-17 after three quarters. The only silver lining from an otherwise dreary day? That Ohio State didn't reach the 70's.

Maryland fell to 4-2 on the year with the loss to the Buckeyes, but calmer seas are on the horizon. The Terps are off next Saturday, then return to action on October 23 at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have played just twice in the Big Ten thus far in '21, going 1-1. They'll play Nebraska next Saturday before facing Maryland on the 23rd.

On October 30, Maryland hosts Indiana. So, yes, they get a bit of a breather before ramping it up again in November with games against Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Rutgers.

A 6-win season is still in the offing for Maryland, but the enthusiasm level for a bowl game has definitely waned over the last two weeks. The games at Minnesota and home vs. Indiana will determine their bowl eligibility fate.


Breaking news: Tiger Woods was seen with a golf club in his hand, standing on his own two feet. Yes, I know that doesn't seem like something that should appear across the bottom of the ESPN screen, but there it was on Saturday afternoon. Woods was apparently watching his son, Charlie, hit golf balls at a practice range in Florida and Tiger was holding a club in his own hand.

Baby steps, right?

There's no telling if Woods will ever play competitive golf again (the bet here is he doesn't), but he does have a soon-to-be-teen-age son who appears as if he might be a prodigy like his father was in the early 1990's. So even if Tiger doesn't ever tee it up again on the PGA Tour, he's going to be around golf for a long time, still.

There is one very interesting situation looming as it relates to Tiger. Is there a possibility he would petition the PGA Tour and/or the United States Golf Association for the right to use a golf cart in their respective competitions? If so, that would surely be a captivating case. The greatest player of the last 30 years, in need of a motorized golf cart in order to play, bringing in millions and millions of TV viewers if, in fact, he ever does tee it up again in formal competition.

I'm not saying Woods deserves a cart, by the way. I'm merely bringing up the question of whether he'll actually have to go down that road eventually if he wants to return to the TOUR. The golf cart issue was fairly simple to understand when the courts got involved 20 years ago. A player had to have a medical condition from birth in order to qualify for consideration. Woods' current health issues were the result of a traffic accident, not a birth disability.

But those TV ratings. And those ad dollars. And the media coverage.

What's one little golf cart hurt, right?

It all remains to be seen, but the story would be a massive one if Tiger elects to petition either or both governing bodies for the right to ride in a cart while everyone else is forced to walk the course.


The U.S. men's soccer team heads to Panama tonight (6 pm) for the 5th (of 14) World Cup qualifying contest for the '22 event in Qatar. The Americans are riding high after Thursday's 2-0 win over Jamaica, their second straight victory in the qualifying series. Panama lost at El Salvador, 1-0, on Thursday night, so they come into tonight's game in desperate need of a favorable result.

Ricardo Pepi looks to continue is outstanding play of late when the U.S. visits Panama tonight for a crucial World Cup qualifying contest.

The American side got a smidgen of bad news on Friday when midfielder Weston McKennie was left home to nurse a sore hamstring. The thought was to have him ready for next Wednesday's home showdown vs. Costa Rica.

The U.S. are already missing Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna (both injured) from the lineup, so the absence of McKennie further reduces an already-dinged 11-man lineup. It's worth noting, though, that McKennie missed both the Canada game (1-1) and the win at Honduras last month due to a violation of team rules, so the U.S. have played -- and won -- without him in recent weeks.

A win tonight over Panama would be huge. A tie of any kind is fine, also, but if the U.S. can somehow come out of this one with three points, they could start to put some distance between themselves and numerous other CONCACAF sides. The top 3 (out of 8) automatically qualify for Qatar '22 and the 4th place finisher moves into a playoff for a spot in the tournament.

The story tonight will center on Ricardo Pepi, the 18-year old phenom who scored both goals vs. Jamaica and had a critical goal and assist in the 4-1 win over Honduras in September. It's a little too early to say "as he goes, the American team goes", but there's no doubt Pepi has emerged as a vital component to Gregg Berhalter's offense.


These five-game baseball playoff series' are intriguing as all get out, particularly when the visting team wins one of the first two on the road. That's the case right now in three of the four rounds, with only the Astros winning both games in Houston against the White Sox.

The Dodgers blew out the Giants, 9-2, last night in San Francisco to forge a 1-1 tie in that series. Earlier in the day, the Brewers fell to Atlanta in Milwaukee, 3-0, as the Braves head home needing just two wins to move to the NLCS.

Boston won a game in Tampa Bay to knot that series at 1-1. The Rays will have to win at least once at Fenway Park to keep that series alive.

I'm on the record as vehemently disagreeing with the one-game wild card series. I think it's stupid to play 162 games, earn your way into the playoffs, then face the potential of your season ending in one game. Dumb, dumb, dumb. But in contrast, I like the 5-game series and the importance of keeping home field in the the first two games. If you lose either the first or second game and the series is tied 1-1 when you head to the road, you're facing an elimination game if you don't win game 3.

I'm not saying that baseball should abolish the best-of-7 format, but I think there's something to be said about the best-of-5 and how it really brings out the best in both excitement and strategy.

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the beach house quest rolls on


If we keep on cleaning up here every Sunday, you might have to think about adding a wine cellar to the beach house. Even if you don't drink wine, you still need a temperature-controlled wine cellar for parties and guests. I'm trying my best to sophisticate you...bear with me.

We went 3-2 last week to improve to 12-8 on the campaign. Only a few raggedy bad beats are holding us back at this point. We're about to erupt with a few 4-1 or 5-0 weeks. You can just feel it.

Oh, and don't forget, anytime you add a wine cellar, you have to invest in a dozen really nice wine glasses. They'll set you back $20 each, but you've got the money, so why not spend it?

Here we go with today's five winners.

We're going to call this "against the grain" Sunday. It seems reasonable to think there are five games out there today that will not go anywhere near like most people think. It's the NFL, after all. Our quest is to simply find those five. If you're puzzled by our selections below, just remember we're intentionally going against the grain.

And don't forget, I'm a Cabernet Sauvignon fan.

PATRIOTS AT TEXANS (+8.0) -- I saw the Patriots fight the Buccaneers tooth and nail last Sunday night and New England's defense seems fairly legit, but those were extenuating circumstances on Sunday and New England's offense is pretty stinky. I think they win today, but we're going with Houston to cover the 8 points at home in a 20-13 Patriots win.

Can Dak and the Cowboys handle a 7-point home cover vs. the Giants today?

LIONS AT VIKINGS (-10.0) -- Ten points in a division game seems pretty hefty, don't you think? But we are talking about the Lions here and they are occasionally prone to laying a complete egg and losing 37-3 to someone. The Vikings are hot and cold. They'll either feast on Detroit or barely squeak out a last second win. We're going with the latter and taking the Lions, as Detroit scrapes together a decent performance and covers the 10 points but Minnesota comes out on top 27-23.

GIANTS AT COWBOYS (-7.0) -- Admittedly this one's a big of a gamble, but we just have one of those weird feelings the Giants might be in the midst of a 3-week "uptick". And Dallas is probably bound to come back to earth a wee bit, even though we still really like the way Dak is playing. We'll take the Giants and the seven, as Dallas scores late to win, 31-25.

BRONCOS AT STEELERS (-1.0) -- It sure pains us to do this, but there's just no way Denver's going to Pittsburgh and winning. That said, the Steelers are lousy. The Broncos just happen to be more lousy. Ben and the offense get untracked a bit today. We'll take Pittsburgh and give up the point in a fairly easy 30-17 win.

SAINTS AT WASHINGTON (+2.5) -- We love, love, love Washington today. New Orleans isn't going on the road and beating anyone. The guys in Vegas know Drew Brees is no longer the QB there, don't they? I realize Washington's offense isn't all that great, but they'll do more than enough today. We'll take Washington and the 2.5 points in a 33-23 win over the Brees-less Saints.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We like Washington at home getting 2.5 points as today's Best Bet. We just can't see New Orleans going on the road and doing it right.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

OVERALL THIS SEASON: 12-8

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 3-1

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Saturday
October 9, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2602


all of these questions need answers


Dale Purcell asks -- "OK, right now, October 2, 2021 (date of the e-mail), who are the best 3 golfers in the world? In your opinion."

DF says: "Number one is easy. It's Jon Rahm. Best control of his swing, doesn't hit it crooked in the least, really good putter. And now that he knows he's great, he's really going to win a lot. What more could you want? He's the best player right now. I think DeChambeau is #2. Drives it great, hits his irons reasonably well, putts it decently. Needs work on his wedge game, for sure, but the combination of what he does well separates him. I would say Xander Shaufffele is 3rd. Amazing driver of the ball, hits his irons with out-of-this-world- precision. Very good putter. I think he's due for a 2 or 3 year period where he wins a few majors. He can win on any course."


M.R. asks -- "For your Q & A column at Drew's Morning Dish. Put on your Ravens GM hat and tell me what deal you'd offer Lamar Jackson to keep him long term. Assuming you think he's a long-term option."

DF says: "He's definitely a long-term option. Have you seen the NFL? The teams with lousy quarterbacks don't win any games. The teams with good quarterbacks win a lot. As for what I'd offer him. You have to understand you're almost not in the position to decide that...the market decides it for you. I think I'd throw this at him: $300 million for 6 years with $180M of it guaranteed. That's a better package than Josh Allen received from Buffalo, which is a bit of the benchmark at this point. We can quibble over the details; years, money, guaranteed total, etc., but I think that's the general value of a Lamar contract moving forward."


One more win for Phil? Wouldn't that be awesome?

Pete asks -- "Hey Drew, I love your Question and Answer segment at Drew's Morning Dish and was hoping you'd use this in the future. Can you complete these three thoughts? "I'm really surprised (blank) didn't win more." "I'm surprised (blank) won as much as he/she did." "It would be great to see (blank) win again someday." Thanks Drew!

DF says: "Love it, Pete! Easy answers. First one would be: "I'm really surprised the Atlanta Braves of the mid 1990's didn't win more." Of course, I'm referring to World Series titles. They actually "won" a lot, but it's still pretty shocking they only won one World Series with that pitching staff they assembled. Second would be, "I'm surprised Ken Dorsey won as much as he did at Miami." I get it, the Hurricanes had great teams back then, but it's hard to believe Ken Dorsey quarterbacked a team to 33 straight wins at the highest level of college football in our country. Unreal. And last, "It would be great to see Tiger Woods win again someday." That seems to almost be a fairy tale at this point, because I can't even imagine he'll play a TOUR event again, let alone win. If you want a more realistic answer to that question, let's exchange Woods for Mickelson. After seeing the way the crowd responded to his victory at Kiawah last May, it would indeed be cool to see Mickelson win one more major title."


J.C. asks -- "I'm sure you've answered this a hundred times over the last couple of months but what was the biggest "take away" you took from playing in the U.S. Senior Open?"

DF says: "I was really impressed with how few really poor shots those guys hit. Not every shot is perfect, mind you, but they rarely ever hit a totally disastrous shot, particularly with their irons. Their driver might occasional be non-compliant, but if a Champions Tour player has an iron in his hands from 200 yards and in, he almost never hits a terrible shot from that position. They just hit far fewer bad shots than the rest of us. Sounds simple, but it's not."


Mark Lattisser asks -- "OK, Drew, how about a NFL quarter season "hot take" from you for the Morning Dish? Maybe one from each conference?"

DF says: "Sure thing. Arizona will finish 13-4 and have the best record in the NFC (or at least have the #1 seed) and then lose in the Divisional Round at home. In the AFC, the Jaguars will start 0-10 and fire Urban Meyer. I'm not sure that's a "hot take"...no one expects him to finish the season as it is. I think Jacksonville could go 0-17."


C.J. asks -- "Which organization in baseball and football would you consider the most "puzzling"? Thanks. Go Hall!"

DF says: "Quite the "puzzling" question, C.J. I don't know what you consider "puzzling", so I'm just going to give you the two teams that first popped into my head. The Atlanta Falcons in the NFL and the Los Angeles Angels in MLB. Both have the same problem. They have good players in key positions but they don't really do much winning. The Falcons, of course, had the catastrophic collapse in the Super Bowl a while back and I think it's safe to say they've never really recovered from that. The Angels, despite having the best player in baseball for the last decade, have done next to nothing, and it's not like Mike Trout is the only quality player on their roster. They have quality...they just don't win. The Falcons and the Angels. There's your answer. Good question!"


Pat asks -- "Hey Drew, I'm only a couple of years younger than you so we grew up with the same kind of music. I was wondering what you think of these three musical artists; Cheap Trick, The Police and Dire Straits. Thanks!"

DF says: "Cheap Trick was very underrated. Their song "Surrender" is a top 25 song of my lifetime. The Police were extraordinarily good. Out of this world good, actually. Zenyatta Mondatta was brilliant and Synchronicity is one of the top 20 best albums of my life. I thought the Dire Straits were good, but most of their music didn't resonate with me. Mark Knopfler is one great guitarist, though. No two ways about that."


Carl in Owings Mills asks -- "For a future Q&A: I'm not much of a golfer myself, but a friend of mine who is a golfer wanted me to ask you what you think the toughest hole is in Baltimore. So I'm asking you. ????"

DF says: "This is such a hard question, because there are just so many difficult holes and some of the difficulty stems from what tees you play that specific hole from. I've said this here before: I think #16 at Rolling Road is a really, really hard hole to par. Now, I'll also say this. It's not a "great hole" by any means. It's borderline unfair, frankly. The approach shot has to be perfect and the green is insanely difficult. If you make a par there, you've really accomplished something. I've always thought #4 from the back tees at Woodholme CC is very difficult. 450 yards, second shot plays uphill plus-6 to a very narrow green. #14 at Country Club of Maryland is also very tough to par. It requires a perfect drive and perfect approach shot and then you have a multi-tiered green that's hard to read. I can't really pick one, but those are three of the toughest holes in Baltimore for sure."


John Means gets a "B-" from #DMD for his 2021 campaign.

Keith M. asks -- "I haven't seen an Orioles report card from you so I was just wondering what grades you'd give the four M's; Means, Mountcastle, Mancini and Mullins. Thanks!!"

DF says: "Means is probably the toughest one to grade of them all. He got off to such a great start and then that arm injury in May seemed to really derail him. That said, his ERA (3.62) was well below the league average and he averaged almost one strikeout per-inning (134 K's in 146.2 IP). I'd give him a grade of "B-". He was an "A" through May and then a "C-" in the second half once he returned. I'd say he had a "good" season although it's hard to ignore some of those bad starts in August and September. Mancini earned a "B". His average (.255) wasn't great, but he hit 21 HR's and added 77 RBI. Decent enough in the field. Great guy to have in your clubhouse. Would like to see him become a .275 hitter with 30 HR's. Then we'd have something. Mountcastle gets a B+, given his HR number of 33 and his RBI total of 89. Needs to work on getting on base more, but that will come as pitchers respect him more. Still not a great defensive player, but his work with the glove got better as the season went on. Mullins, of course, gets an "A". He didn't have a great September, but the first 5 months of the campaign were extraordinary. If he can duplicate that season in '22, the O's might have a legitimate player in their midst."


Craig Blassingame asks -- "I've seen you do this before at the Dish and was wondering if you'd entertain the following scenario in one of your Q & A columns in the future. If you had a crystal ball and it said, "Orioles win the 2022 World Series but Ravens fail to make the playoffs in 2022, 2023 and 2024", would you be willing to accept that?"

DF says: "Ohhh, man. Dicey one here. But I'm going to say "yes!" to the scenario you presented. The Orioles haven't been to a World Series since 1983. If the crystal ball said they win the World Series in '22 but the Ravens don't make the playoffs in '22, '23 and '24, I'd sign off on it. The Ravens have been great over the last 25 years. The Orioles have mostly been terrible. I'd like to see the win a World Series again in my lifetime, even at the unfortunate expense of the Ravens."


Art asks -- "Kind of a weird question that maybe you can answer someday in your Q & A. How do you think the Orioles fortunes would have changed back in 2008 if they would have signed Mark Teixeira?"

DF says: "Great question! It's hard to say if the Orioles would have gone to the playoffs sooner than 2012 with "Tex". He obviously had some very good years in New York, but he also had a lot of good players around him. The O's didn't really start attracting decent talent until after the Bedard trade to Seattle. I think Teixeira would have helped, for sure, but probably moreso by letting other free agents see that Baltimore was a worthy destination."


James P. asks -- "What's one album you've never heard anyone say a bad word about?"

DF says: "U2's "The Joshua Tree". I'd put it in my all-time top 5 and, depending on the year and my mood, it could be the best album I've ever heard. And I don't know of anyone who has ever said, "That album stinks." It's just a remarkable piece of music. Here's my favorite song from that album."



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Friday
October 8, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2601


wally pipp'd?


Our resident soccer expert, Randy Morgan, handles all of the heavy lifting from last night's U.S. soccer win in his piece below. It was a nice night for the Americans and Randy will take you through all 90 minutes of it.

But I can't let the game go. Not the result itself, but the *way* the U.S. moved the ball, even in the first half when they were unable to score on Jamaica but still controlled nearly all of the action from goalbox to goalbox.

I said last night as I opined on the game that you have to consider the opponent first. Yes, it was Jamaica. They are not very good, although it's also worth noting they nearly tied Mexico in Mexico last month before the hosts scored the game-winner in injury time. In other words, they might not be one of CONCACAF's best, but they're still a worthy foe if you don't take them seriously.

18 year old Ricardo Pepi scored both U.S. goals in last night's 2-0 win over Jamaica.

Alas, something interesting happened last night while the U.S. missed their top two offensive playmakers due to various injuries; Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna. They actually played *better* soccer. The ball moved with more crispness, the pace of the game was much more free flowing and, in general, more players were involved in the offensive end of the field.

And I couldn't help but wonder -- and I'm still wondering -- just how much of that was about Pulisic and Reyna (but mostly Pulisic) not being in the lineup?

Christian Pulisic is a wonderful player, don't get me wrong. I wrote "Wally Pipp'd" in the headline above just as an eye-catcher, really. He didn't lose his role as a starter last night or anything like that. At least I assume he didn't. But I do think there's some film watching that needs to be done by Gregg Berhalter to try and ascertain just how it came to pass that without his top offensive playmaker his team produced its best all-around offensive game of the last two months.

Pulisic is indeed gifted, but the thought here -- for a while now -- is perhaps he likes the ball at his feet just a wee bit too much, which tends to keep other U.S. players from touching it and also puts too much of the onus on the Chelsea star, who is an inviting target for hard tackles and rough play from opposing defenders who get tired of watching him dance on the ball every time he gets it.

18-year old Richardo Pepi stole the show with two more goals last night, and had he been left in the game instead of being subbed out in the 68th minute, he would have probably scored one or two more goals. Gyasi Zardes flubbed at least three golden opportunities to score when he came on as part of the sub package that included Pepi. But that's certainly not "new news". Zardes is as hot and cold as they come.

Winger Brenden Aaronson continues to establish himself as a "must play" in Berhalter's offensive scheme. He goes for goal with pace, has decent enough skills on the ball to make defenders pay attention, and he's also a reasonable finisher if given a scoring chance. Those two -- Pepi and Aaronson -- have to be part of the starting 11 moving forward.

Berhalter likely won't have to worry about the Pulisic-Reyna situation for a while, as the two will miss Sunday's game in Panama and next Wednesday's game against Costa Rica. He'll roll with Pepi and Aaronson for the time being and the U.S. might actually be better for it, believe it or not.


I noticed a lot of comments activity yesterday with regard to the Urban Meyer situation. I must say, first, that last night around 9:45 pm I had to remove one comment due to objectionable content. I underlined "one" because it impressed me that I only had to remove a single comment from the list. It's good to see people debate without writing stupid stuff.

I noted where MFC went to great lengths to harangue me about my position regarding Meyer's incident last weekend in Cincinnati. I thought I was clear, but apparently -- at least to him -- I wasn't.

The situation Meyer put himself in was certainly regrettable. I can't imagine the level of embarrassment he felt once those photos hit the internet. Unless he and his wife have an agreement that permits such behavior (and there is a lot of that in our country, you probably know), there's no doubt he was wrong, which explains why he apologized to his team and the organization.

But, as I wrote here yesterday, I don't see Urban Meyer's behavior in a bar in Cincinnati as a "sports story". I believe Meyer not flying back with the team from Cincinnati is a sports story. The coach should never stay behind like that, unless there's some sort of family emergency he or she is attending to. John Harbaugh would never stay back and let the team fly home to Baltimore without him. It just wouldn't happen.

Meyer ditching his team in Cincinnati: a sports story.

Meyer and a woman enjoying close company in a bar: not a sports story.

By the way, if you're outraged by what Urban Meyer did and you want to take to your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts and vilify him, have at it, as Coach Billick used to say. You have a computer. Put him on blast if you so choose.

To me, the only reason the story had any legs at all is because of the prickly nature of the media and their daily search for someone new to beat up. It's funny how that works. I have no reason to share details of the numerous occasions I've witnessed "less than stellar" away-from-work behavior by media members; yes, the same folks who write or otherwise opine on how awful of a human being Urban Meyer is. But I've seen more than one instance where the pot wound up calling the kettle black, let's just say that.

That same ESPN talking head who was roasting Meyer a few days ago? I seem to remember that time at the Super Bowl when he was, let's say, very "active" at the Tuesday night media party. His memory must not be that good. Mine is, though. However, that particular night wasn't a "sports story".

As for the notion that Meyer "lost the locker room" with that episode in Cincinnati? I had to laugh at that one. An 0-4 football team with a coach in hot water is perfect for the players. It glosses over the fact that their lack of on field quality is the primary reason why they haven't yet won a game.

More than likely, the truth is Urban Meyer never "had" the locker room in the first place. He seemed a bad hire far before the Jaguars started 0-4. Nearly everyone who follows football said that in May, June, July and August. That players would leak that sort of commentary ("he has really lost the locker room") is more about the team being 0-4 than it is anything else. When the team is 4-0, it's the players who are playing well. When the team is 0-4, the coaches stink and some or all of them have "lost the locker room."

We see this every week in Baltimore. Greg Roman is a bum when the Ravens lose. Lamar Jackson is the greatest quarterback in the league when the Ravens win.

When Troy Polamalu knocked that ball out of Flacco's hands in Baltimore and the Steelers won a big game, Flacco was hammered for "fumbling the ball at the worst possible time."

When Terrell Suggs knocked the ball out of Tom Brady's hands, "Suggs is a monster."

We always see things through our lens. If it fits the narrative we most appreciate or support, we'll go with that angle. The Jaguars are 0-4 because they have an inexperienced NFL coach, a rookie quarterback, and 52 other players who aren't really all that good. You could send John Harbaugh down there and I'm guessing they'd still be 0-4...or perhaps 1-3.

As for Meyer, the word "condemn" seems a bit harsh for a society of sinners like we all are. I think he was wrong, he likely knows he was wrong and his wife probably made sure he understands how wrong he was. The story in Cincinnati is between Urban Meyer and his wife. It's no concern of mine in the least, in the same way it wouldn't be a concern of mine if similar pictures of John Harbaugh surfaced.

But if the Ravens were 0-3 and John Harbaugh stayed in Detroit for the weekend instead of flying home with the team? Now...that...I might have an opinion on, for sure.

In the meantime, let's all keep the windows of our glass houses as clean as we can.


From the "bird in a tree" file, we have this. I'm hearing the O's are becoming increasingly fond of Buck Britton, the 35 year old who is/was mostly recently the manager for the Bowie Baysox.

With the O's firing Norfolk skipper Gary Kendall this week, don't be surprised if Britton gets the promotion to the AAA team.

And from what we're hearing, the Birds are keeping a close eye on Britton for, let's say, "future opportunities" within the organization, as someone told me.

The minor leaguers are apparently extremely fond of Britton and his style. It would, then, make sense for the O's to promote him along the way and spend time with those players as they work their way up the system to the big league club. And, yes, Brandon Hyde does have a contract for 2022...but he doesn't have one for 2023 and beyond.

Buck Britton...just remember that name.


As some of you noted yesterday, issue 2,600 of #DMD hit your computer yesterday morning. That's 2,600 consecutive days of publishing, which is indeed mind-boggling to me. I don't know if there's anyone who has actually read all 2,600 editions of #DMD, but if so, I'd like to incorporate you into a column I'll be writing on November 9.

Feel free to post your name in the comments section if you've read every #DMD since we started on August 25, 2014 or email me and provide the same information. Either way, though, please know I'll be using your name in the column -- a matter of public record, if you will -- on November 9.

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faith in sports


inky meets the bucs


A few weeks ago here at #DMD, we showed you an awesome video from former University of Tennessee star Inky Johnson, who suffered a career ending injury after a freak hit in a game.

We're back this week with an awesome visit Johnson had a few years back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If you watched the video we published last month, you'll certainly enjoy this one today. And if you didn't see last month's video here in "Faith in Sports", please take 17 minutes today to watch Inky Johnson. He's a great man.

As always, thanks to our friends at Freestate Electric for their support of #DMD and our regular Friday feature, "Faith in Sports."


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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


u.s. 2 - jamaica 0


The US men opened their second three-game World Cup qualifying window with a much needed, comprehensive win on Thursday night. In a game they dominated from the opening whistle, the Americans came away 2-0 winners over Jamaica in Austin, Texas.

Jamaica was disorganized throughout the game and consistently flustered by the US pressure. Despite the 0-0 halftime score, the game was far from even. The US was just missing the final ball for much of the first half and they found the precision needed to put up two goals in the second half.

Without several of his regular starters, Gregg Berhalter lined the US up in their most common, 4-3-3 formation. There weren’t many surprises in the starting lineup. Paul Arriola getting the start over Tim Weah was slightly unexpected but not shocking that Berhalter opted for the veteran. Yunus Musah got the start in his first game back with the team since the Nations League and veteran Walker Zimmerman got the call to pair with Miles Robinson in the back line.

Matt Turner and the U.S. produced another clean sheet last night in Austin, Texas, and the Americans now lead the CONCACAF points table with 8 after a 2-0 over Jamaica.

The US took the game to Jamaica from the opening whistle, hitting them with a quick counter off the opening kickoff that forced a blatant foul from a Jamaican defender to stop a Paul Arriola breakaway. The foul should surely have been a red card but the referee was lenient and let Jamaica off with a yellow.

From there, the Americans kept the pressure up, anchored by their hyper athletic midfield trio of Adams, McKennie and Musah, along with the active center back pairing. Jamaica was unable to play the ball through the US and resorted to desperate long balls whenever they gained possession, which were easily dealt with by the US defense.

Brenden Aaronson and Antonee Robinson were both constant threats down the left wing, often combining to open up the Jamaican defense. It was Aaronson who created the most dangerous chance of the half when he pressured Jamaican center back Damian Lowe into a turnover then received a through ball from Arriola behind the defense, forcing a desperate foul from Jamaica. This was another foul that is usually deemed a red card offense, but again Jamaica got off with a yellow.

Matt Turner made a confident save the one time he was called upon late in the first half and the teams went to the locker rooms scoreless. Though they were unable to get on the scoreboard in the first half, the US was consistently moving the ball through the Jamaica defense and finding acres of space on the wings. It seemed just a matter of time until they found the final ball to score a goal.

It did not take long for that moment to arrive in the second half. Just three minutes after the break the US strung together a nice sequence that led to Sergino Dest wide open on the right flank. The Barcelona right back hit an accurate cross into the box and found an open Ricardo Pepi, who deftly headed it into the net.

The US struck again about fourteen minutes later through another nice sequence of passes. Tyler Adams threaded a pass from deep in midfield out wide to Antonee Robinson, who played a through ball into the channel for Aaronson where he found himself in ample space to pick out a low hard cross that Pepi easily finished past the keeper. It was once again that dangerous combination down the left side opening up the Jamaican defense and Pepi making the most of his opportunities in the box.

The Americans generated two more chances on similar moves later in the half through subs Tim Weah and Kellyn Acosta, one that just missed Gyasi Zardes and another that Zardes just couldn’t slot past the keeper.

The US emerged with a 2-0 win and could easily have added on a few more down the stretch. Jamaica hardly ever threatened the US box and the US closed out the game for a strong win. The two goal lead allowed Berhalter to sub out Aaronson and Pepi midway through the second half to preserve them for Sunday’s road game in Panama. The only concern from this one was Sergino Dest leaving late in the second half with a leg injury.

There wasn’t a bad performance on the night from the American players and many could be singled out for their positive efforts. Ricardo Pepi earned the vote for man of the match for his two goals. In addition he had a few other nice passes, including the ball that set up Paul Arriola on the opening sequence. While Pepi drifted out of the game for long stretches, his ability to capitalize on his chances is exactly what the US has been missing from the striker spot. The 18 year old has now been involved in all five US goals since making his debut, scoring three of them himself. His emergence couldn’t have come at a better time for a team struggling to find the net. He should be the top striker option until proven otherwise.

Among the other standouts, Brenden Aaronson stepped up to take on the playmaking burden with Pulisic and Reyna injured and provided the spark the US needed. In addition to his contributions on the ball, he was critical to the US press, constantly hounding the Jamaican defenders. Antonee Robinson combined well with Aaronson and covered his defensive responsibilities when called upon. He is proving himself the best option for the US on the left side of defense.

Walker Zimmerman and Yunus Musah both had strong performances in their returns to the starting lineup. Whether or not they are the top choices at their positions, they showed tonight that they are viable depth options the US can rely on.

Tyler Adams is such a consistent performer that he can sometimes be taken for granted. He didn’t have any flashy moments in this game but he was consistently disrupting the Jamaican attack, winning the ball back and initiating counters for the US. He is an invaluable piece at the center of midfield.

This was a big win to get the window off on the right foot and to boost the confidence of this young US team heading into the second two games. The Americans will get a much stronger test on the road against a solid Panama team on Sunday.

The win, combined with a draw between Canada and Mexico, moves the US up to the top of the qualifying table with eight points. A win over Panama could earn the US some breathing room, potentially putting them six points clear of fourth place. It will be interesting to see how Berhalter handles the squad rotations in the tight turnaround. The ability to get several starters an early rest should definitely help keep them fresh for the road game. It’s likely we’ll see some changes at center back, full back and winger for the Panama game, with Chris Richards, Deandre Yedlin, and Tim Weah possibly in line to get a start.

The US has been at its best under Gregg Berhalter with their backs against the wall. Hopefully they can build off this strong performance and take the game to Panama with the chance to gain a strong foothold in qualification.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Thursday
October 7, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2600


thursday stuff


On numerous occasions over the last 12 months or so, I've extolled the virtues of the U.S. men's soccer team and their chances for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

While boasting about their improved play and imminent entry into the World Cup, I always offered a cautionary statement: "As long as Christian Pulisic stays healthy..."

Pulisic, you might know (or not), is the crafty offensive player who has risen through the ranks not only in this country, but in Europe as well. He currently plays for English Premier League power Chelsea Football Club. Pulisic is the main U.S. weapon in terms of establishing an offensive identity. His availability and health are critical to the continued development of the men's national team.

The loss of Christian Pulisic (#10, pictured) for tonight's game vs. Jamaica means someone else gets to step up and show their worth to coach Gregg Berhalter.

Tonight in Austin, Texas, the U.S. will be without Pulisic, as he continues to recover from a lower body injury he suffered during the last qualifying game against Honduras on September 8. The visitors from Jamaica will no doubt be excited to see the U.S. minus Pulisic tonight. They go from having not much of a chance to having a chance because the top American player won't be playing. He's that big of a deal, is Pulisic.

But the Americans can't let his absence turn tonight's game into a setback. After registering 5 points in the first 3-game cycle (2 ties and a win), the U.S. now gets two home games in this next set of 3 games, starting with tonight vs. Jamaica. A minimum of two home wins is almost mandatory at this point, and a tie -- at a minimum -- at Panama on Sunday night would be an asset as well.

But can the U.S. perform well without Pulisic? That's the big question tonight. They're also missing midfielder Gio Reyna, but he's not nearly as important to the offense as is Pulisic. That said, missing one key player is bad. Missing two key players is really bad.

If the U.S. were going to have to face three teams without Pulisic and Reyna, this 3-game cycle and these 3 opponents are the ones you'd choose; Jamaica is a physical team that lacks the overall polish to give the top CONCACAF teams trouble, Panama is hot and cold, although they're occasionally a tough out at home, and Costa Rica (next Wednesday in Columbus, OH) is going through a rebuilding period that has left them vulnerable in this 14-game qualifying series.

With Pulisic in the lineup tonight, the Americans would have been fairly heavy favorites. Without him, the scales balance out a bit. The U.S. should still win. In fact, the U.S. better win tonight, even with the lineup they're sending out there. You simply can't lose to Jamaica at home, no matter what star players are playing and what star players aren't playing.

So we'll get to see how much depth this American program has tonight, Sunday in Panama and next Wednesday vs. Costa Rica. Injuries happen, of course, and you can't allow the absence of one or two players to stall your drive for the World Cup. But make no mistake about it, these are significant losses for the U.S. side. They need a "significant" step up in class from a handful of players over the next week to ensure their quest for Qatar continues to proceed smoothly.


It appears Urban Meyer has dodged a bullet in Jacksonville, where the embattled coach has been forced to apologize, apologize again, and remind everyone how sorry he is for the "incident" last weekend in a Cincinnati bar.

There were some who thought Meyer was going to get fired in the wake of the story, but the Jaguars have stayed the course with their first year coach despite the embarrassing scene in the Cincinnati bar and the team's 0-4 start of the 2021 season.

When I say I'm glad Meyer wasn't fired, I certainly don't want that to sound like I'm approving of what he was doing in that Cincinnati bar last weekend. I'm actually not doing anything, meaning I'm not approving or disapproving of the incident. What happened in the bar is between Meyer and his wife. I'm not really sure how football gets mixed into it, other than the obvious embarrassment it caused not only the coach, but the Jaguars organization as well. That said, I don't know that I see a direct connection between his ability to coach football and what happened in the bar.

Did it look awkward? Of course.

Was it appropriate behavior? Nearly all of us would say "no", but that question is really more for Meyer's wife to opine on than us.

Is it something that should result in him losing his job? I don't think so. He's a football coach. If he coaches football well enough, the momentary lapses in judgment will be overlooked. If his coaching stinks, he won't be around, no matter what kind of stand-up man he is...or isn't. And let's call it like it is: If every player or coach who put himself in a compromising position in a bar, nightclub, etc. was fired, half the league would be looking for jobs every couple of years.

I'm certainly not advocating for Meyer and his behavior. But what I think about it is neither here nor there. If his wife found the incident troubling, that's really all that matters. Even if the media didn't think it was a big deal but she does...then...it's a big deal.

We do this a lot in 2021. We take things that aren't really any of our business and make them our business because social media drives home the point that everyone and everything is fair game. If you think Urban Meyer is the first football coach to hang out at a bar and entertain a female's advances, you're not thinking straight. 20 years ago, no one would have known. Social media has changed our world. It's a red-light camera on steroids. Do something wrong and you're not only caught, but it gets broadcasted to anyone and everyone who wants to see it.

The subject of Meyer coaching the Jaguars and returning them to a competitive team is well worth discussing. The jury is definitely still out on whether he was the right man to hire. But the Jaguars should be able to figure that out without having to worry about Meyer's off-field behavior. A reprimand and some kind of "formal notice of future discipline" should suffice as punishment. Anything more would seem like overkill at this point.


I told you back in the summer I smelled a rat when it came to the rift between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, and this week's news that the two are planning a November 26 exhibition match leads me to believe my instincts were right all along.

From feuding with one another to helping the other guy make money. Weird how that works...

They've gone from "apparently" hating one another to hugging it out at the Ryder Cup to, now, playing a 12-hole match for charity and, we assume, some hefty bragging rights for the short term.

Is it possible they really did have a feud that got patched up at Whistling Straits once they both realized how silly they looked belittling one another like they were in 5th grade? Of course. Maybe at some point they had coffee or a cocktail together in the Ryder Cup team room and each guy realized the other one wasn't a demon after all. That's possible.

But it's also possible that most of the nitpicking and viperish barbs were heightened because the two realized it kept their name and face in the news. That's my best guess on why the friction between the two got ramped up over the summer and into September. They don't really despise one another. They just play the character on TV.

It's fair to point out, too, that loosening the grip on their feud will likely make both guys more popular than they are right now. It was really starting to become a tired scene...DeChambeau would say something, Koepka would chirp back, Bryson would fire off another vague swipe, Koepka would come back with more vitriol, etc. The whole thing had become quite boring.

At least on November 26, they'll have a golf match to play that will help settle the score, if that's what you want to call it. Both players are obviously extraordinary competitors; what better way to generate off-season excitement than to tee it up against an arch-rival, right?


You'll notice in today's masthead we're at issue #2600 here at #DMD. We have some big plans for November 9, let's just say that. You'll also notice below our friend Mark Suchy writes a poignant piece about the Colts and their return to Baltimore this Monday night. I'd echo a lot of what Mark says...that over time I've learned to move on, but there's always a small piece of me that sees those awesome helmets and uniforms and thinks about how terrible it is they're still not called the BALTIMORE Colts.

That said, over the last 20 years my dislike for the Irsays and the franchise has dwindled in light of the way we got the Ravens here in Baltimore. Sure, we left Cleveland the colors and the name and all that jazz, but we took their team from them (or it was moved here, whichever semantics you want to use, feel free) and left them without football for a short time. It wasn't necessarily "right" when Indianapolis did that to us and it wasn't right when we did it to Cleveland, either.

But it's always funny to see the Colts come to down and watch a game with my-now-teen-age-son, who has absolutely ZERO idea about the Colts in Baltimore. All he's ever known is the Ravens. The Colts are Indianapolis to him. I try to get him to "feel" what it would be like for the Orioles to move to, say, Nashville, and the stadium in Baltimore be empty and the Nashville Orioles tee it up the following spring. But that's not the sort of thing you can understand until it actually transpires.

Alas, the Indianapolis Colts will come here on Monday night and the Baltimore Ravens will host them and, to some, that's the way it has always been. There are others of us, though, who still see it in a different light. And it will, I assume, always be that.

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SUCH
a sports fan

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


why does it still bother me?


The Baltimore Colts left on that infamous snowy night of March 29, 1984, headed for Indianapolis, and never looked back. The franchise took the name, the uniforms, the logo and the history and dropped it in the middle of Indiana and simply began a new chapter.

So why is it still so difficult for me to let it go completely?

It’s been 37 years now, which is longer than the Colts actually called Baltimore home. The Ravens relocated here in 1995 from Cleveland and have spent the last 26 years becoming as integral a part of the fabric of Baltimore sports as the Colts were. Maybe even more so.

All these years later...it still hurts.

But next Monday night, that team from the Midwest that I called my own as a boy will take the field wearing those classic all white uniforms with that horseshoe on the helmet, and my heart will break a little more once again. That’s just my truth.

It might sound a tad extreme, considering that it’s just a professional football team I’m discussing here, but there’s this element of grief that will simply never leave me when it comes to the Colts. Allow me to elaborate a little.

I believe that we respond more emotionally to the past than to just about anything else in our lives. Memory is a powerful force. It holds us and warms us and helps us recall people and places and situations that are long gone but brought us great joy. And as much as the Baltimore Colts stunk up the joint on 33rd Street over their last six years there, they still brought me immense happiness.

As a young boy who was crazy about sports, growing up in Baltimore in the 1970s was a treat. Legends abounded in my town. The Orioles had future Hall of Famers dotting their roster. Following baseball every day was an obsession for me. Plus, they were managed by a legendary character in Earl Weaver, and we all knew back then that he would go into Cooperstown someday too.

When football season rolled around, I would go to Colts games with my parents and watch an aging Johnny Unitas and listen to the old timers around me tell stories of his incredible feats. As I grew up, there was Bert Jones and Lydell Mitchell and The Sack Pack. Those teams won three consecutive AFC East division titles. I was all in.

Even as the team descended in the dreadful Frank Kush era, I was on board. One of the perks of a bad team was that tickets were plentiful and there was room to roam around Memorial Stadium in search of a better vantage point. If you looked hard enough, you could usually find seats somewhere close to the field, and that was a great vantage point to better appreciate the speed of Curtis Dickey when he got outside the end and turned the corner. That dude was some kind of fast.

Those last few seasons were tough to watch as a fan. But even through all of the losing, I was still a fan. The Colts were from Baltimore, and so was I. Better days would come, and when they did, we would all be able to look back at the days when Art Schlister played quarterback and have a good laugh at our own expense.

Part of the grief I still feel about the Colts has to do with the associations I always make about going to their games with people who are long gone from my life. Loved ones and old family friends and high school buddies who I lost contact with years ago. Going to football games on Sundays is a communal experience. I get melancholy at times when I think about specific games or moments shared with those folks while sitting in all kinds of weather watching our Colts. It might have been long ago, but when I close my eyes, it seems like only a moment has passed.

Baltimore occupies a unique position in NFL fandom. We’ve been on both sides of the franchise moving coin. I know some folks who have never embraced the Ravens simply because we “stole” them from Cleveland, and they could empathize with the pain that Browns fans felt. I know a few guys who still root for the Colts passionately, because that was their team and to them it didn’t matter where they moved, they were going to hold onto them.

But for me, when the Mayflower vans pulled out of Owings Mills that night, they took my childhood with them. They took a little slice of my soul. I renounced my allegiance for good in September of 1984 when I watched, still in a small state of shock and disbelief, as they kicked off against the New York Jets in the Hoosier Dome.

So much has changed in 37 years that it seems kind of silly for me to hold any more bitterness in my heart over the Colts being in Indianapolis. Resentment is a dangerous thing, and I know I’m not resentful about it anymore. I don’t resent Bob Irsay or Jim Irsay (but I sure did for a long, long, long time). I certainly don’t resent the good people of Indianapolis or any Hoosier, because I know that none of them had anything to do with the move.

I can vividly remember jumping around with tears of joy streaming down my face when the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl 35 on January 28, 2001. I remember yelling something absurd about how we fans in Baltimore were better than anyone in Indy because we won a Super Bowl before them. How childish is that? I was still processing my anger and bitterness on a night when I should have simply been happy that my new team won a championship.

It took my oldest son to finally drop some clarity and wisdom on me a few years later. He had to endure my diatribes about the Colts and what they meant to me and how much I hated them for moving when I was 17. One day as we were watching the Colts play, he declared that Peyton Manning was his favorite player and that he wanted his jersey for Christmas. I just smiled and laughed and shook my head. What was I going to do, argue with my 9-year-old son?

So, I bought him that beautiful blue #18 jersey with the stripes on the shoulders, and damned if it didn’t look awfully sharp on him. He’s outgrown it, but it’s still in his dresser drawer, and his Manning poster is still on his bedroom wall. He swears he’s going to frame it and put it in his den when he buys his own house someday.

The Christian theologian Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Heavy stuff, especially when we’re talking about something as trivial as a professional football team. But it seems apt to me even now.

This Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts will meet for the 17th time since 1996. It’s reaching a point where it really is almost just another game. Almost.

But I’ll look at those uniforms and that horseshoe and a little part of me, somewhere deep inside, will still grieve. But only for a moment, and that moment will be gone, just like the memories of a childhood spent in Baltimore, a wonderful place and a wonderful time to be a kid.

All right, let’s make some picks. As usual, I take 15 seconds to look at each matchup and pick the winner. I’ve got pasta cooking, which is far more important than who the Texans are trying to trade Deshaun Watson to this week.

LAST WEEK: 9-7

SEASON: 36-28

Los Angeles Rams (3-1) at Seattle (2-2): I will always go against Matthew Stafford playing on the road, on a short week, against a better quarterback, in a place as loud as that stadium. It won’t be long before all the talking heads are asking what happened to the Rams? I’ll tell you what happened: Matthew Stafford. Seahawks 27, Rams 16

New York Jets (1-3) at Atlanta (1-3) in London: On behalf of every American football fan, let me apologize to all you Brits for exporting this travesty to your country. If the NFL had relegation like the EPL, these two teams would be moving down after this season. Sorry, chaps. Jets 18, Falcons 16

Aaron Rodgers isn't really going to lose to the Bengals, is he? #DMD's Mark Suchy says "yes, he is."

Green Bay (3-1) at Cincinnati (3-1): I suppose this is when we begin to find out if the Bengals are really for real. I honestly have no earthly idea who wins this one. If Cincy wins, it’s fair to begin calling them a threat in the AFC North. Bengals 25, Packers 23

Detroit (0-4) at Minnesota (1-3): “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” Captain Dan Campbell. Vikings 34, Lions 13

Miami (1-3) at Tampa Bay (3-1): Don’t look now, but the AFC East is horrible. Horrible. I will continue to apologize for picking the Dolphins as a dark horse contender. Just remember, I’m pretty stupid. Buccaneers 28, Dolphins 15

Denver (3-1) at Pittsburgh (1-3): I’m here for every second of Big Ben’s Final Ride. Every. Second. This promises to be ugly. Can’t wait! Steelers 22, Broncos 21

New Orleans (2-2) at Washington (2-2): For the love of all that’s good and holy, can I ever pick a Saints game correctly? Probably not. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, can that team ever pick a nickname? Probably not. Snyders 20, Saints 17

Philadelphia (1-3) at Carolina (3-1): I honestly don’t believe either of these teams are any good. Let’s go with the slightly better one playing at home. Panthers 23, Eagles 19

Tennessee (2-2) at Jacksonville (0-4): It might shock you to learn that the Titans lead the AFC South at 2-2. It definitely won’t shock you to learn that Jacksonville does not. Urban Meyer asks Derrick Henry after the game if he has any NCAA eligibility left and if he’s ever been to Southern California. Titans 30, Jaguars 20

New England (1-3) at Houston (1-3): Do you really even care? Patriots 25, Texans 17

Chicago (2-2) at Las Vegas (3-1): The Raiders’ unraveling continues. I like Justin Fields in spite of Matt Nagy. Bears 30, Raiders 22

Cleveland (3-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-1): Progressive should make Justin Herbert their spokesman after this season. He’s so much better than Baker Mayfield as a quarterback. When will everyone catch on? Mayfield is overrated. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson can’t get a flag when dudes hit him in the back of his knees two seconds after he’s released the ball. For a touchdown, by the way. I’m getting close to ranting here so I’ll save it for another week. Chargers 31, Browns 17

New York Giants (1-3) at Dallas (3-1): Here’s what a bad football fan I am at times: Saquon Barkley destroyed the Saints last week, and I simply forgot he was back, active and healthy. Never ask me for fantasy football advice. Dallas 33, Giants 30

San Francisco (2-2) at Arizona (4-0): Speaking of franchises that moved, the Cardinals have been in 3 cities over their existence. In fact, the last time the Cardinals were the lone undefeated team in the NFL was in 1935 when they played in Chicago. (I just made that up, but who knows, it might be true.) Meanwhile, the Niners better get it in gear or they’re going to disappear in the NFC. Cardinals 30, 49ers 25

Buffalo (3-1) at Kansas City (2-2): This game could have huge implications when playoff seedings are set. If the Chiefs don’t want to visit Buffalo in January (and let’s be honest, who does?), they need this W. A terrific Sunday Night Football matchup. Chiefs 39, Bills 26

Indianapolis (1-3) at Baltimore (3-1): How cool is it that the two greatest quarterbacks in Baltimore football history both played at the University of Louisville? The current one goes off in prime time and gives all of us old Baltimoreans some satisfaction. Ravens 34, Colts 20

Have a great weekend everyone, and remember to let go of the past. There’s nothing back there but memories. Go make some new ones.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Wednesday
October 6, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2599


next labor day


So this wasn't my idea.

Well, OK, it was "my idea", but the genesis of it came from a tweet I stumbled on yesterday. It read: Orioles win total in 2022: 57 games.

I responded to it with this: "By Labor Day!!! Book it!!

And, so, it got me thinking about other things that are going to happen between now and next Labor Day. You'll note on your calendar that today is October 6 and that 2022 Labor Day is September 5. So, we're basically 11 months away from Labor Day and......here goes.

Yes, I believe that the Orioles will, in fact, have at least 57 wins by September 5. No, smart guy, I'm not including spring training wins. I'm just talking regular season games. The O's will have at least 57 wins on September 5, on their way to, I believe, 70-win campaign in 2022. Book it!

A 58 and a major title in '22? Look for both of them...before Labor Day.

By the time Labor Day rolls around next year, someone on the PGA Tour will have posted a round of 58 in a TOUR event in '21-22. There's only been one of them, coming from Jim Furyk (who also has a "59" as well) back in 2016. There are always 59 scares every year...and occasionally someone produces golf's magic scoring number, but I'm telling you there will be a 58 before next Labor Day on the PGA Tour.

I know what you're thinking...what good is telling us someone's going to shoot 58 by next Labor Day without giving us a name? OK, I'm not that good, but I'll take a stab at it. It's the guy you would expect. Bryson DeChambeau. There will be a course where he makes a couple of eagles on par 5's and chips in for an eagle on a short par 4 and makes a bunch of birdies to shoot 58. There, happy now?

The Ravens will have a brand new offensive tackle to showcase in 2022 and his name is.......Rasheed Walker, the talented lineman at Penn State. He will be Baltimore's first pick in the draft next April. As an added bonus, he's a local kid, hailing from Waldorf, Maryland. The Ravens need offensive line help in a big way and the big guy will give them plenty of that. By next Labor Day, he'll be in purple.

A 40-goal season in '22 will give Alex Ovechkin 770 career goals, still far away from Wayne Gretzky's all-time record.

By Labor Day 2022, Alex Ovechkin will have 770 goals in his career, but the Caps will endure a fairly lackluster regular season and make the playoffs on the final weekend of the campaign only to lose to the Islanders in the first round of the post-season. Ovechkin starts '21-22 with 730 goals and adds 40 to his career total, but still trails Wayne Gretzky (894) by 114 goals after the season.

By next Labor Day, Adley Rutschman will be on the fast track to the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2022. I'll go ahead and say he comes north with the team from Sarasota next March and I'll even say he homers in the opener vs. Toronto on March 31 in Baltimore. But more than that, he'll put up 24 HR's, 88 RBI and hit .277 in his rookie campaign. I know we had similar visions for Matt Wieters a long time ago and he never panned out to be anything other than a "good" Major League player, but Rutschman's going to be different. He's a 'keeper.

When Labor Day rolls around next September, there will be a new QB in Pittsburgh and it will be a familiar face. His name? Aaron Rodgers. The future Hall of Famer will roll out of Green Bay after another outstanding regular season and a disappointing home playoff loss to the Cowboys this January and he'll end up in the Steel City. Green Bay...Pittsburgh. They're both pretty much the same thing. Cold, drab, dreary, good football towns. I assume he'll wear #12 in black and gold.

And, finally, by next Labor Day, all four 2022 golf majors will be in the books and your winners will be: Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas and Christiaan Bezuidenhout. Who wins which tournament? Well, you'll have to come back next spring for that. We're not going to spill all the beans here right now, but those four will be your major winners in '22.


I can't even believe I'm saying this, but watching the last out of the game from Fenway on Tuesday night led me to feel sorry for the Yankees.

No, I don't have a fever. I'm completely healthy and sane (insert pun here).

I realize one of the two teams in the National League will face the same fate tonight, too. Their season will end with one, nine-inning baseball game.

It just *feels* wrong. Yes, yes, yes, I know that's the format and the Yankees knew that going in and the Dodgers and Cardinals know that tonight as well. I get that. I'm just saying it's wrong. Big time wrong. Your entire baseball season coming down to one game is just stupid.

I realize football does it that way, but football also follows their season format in the playoffs. You play a game on Sunday. Then you play the following Sunday (usually). And you have 16 (now 17, which is also very stupid) games in four months. You're familiar with playing one game, so when you make it to the playoffs and you have one game to live or die, it's not abnormal at all.

Baseball, as we know, is different. You play baseball in various series' over the course of six months. You usually play three game series' but occasionall you'll play four and sometimes you might only play two games against an opponent. But in baseball, you're conditioned to play three games in a row against a team. And almost without question, if you win 2 of 3 games in every series you play, you're going to the playoffs.

So to have the playoffs come down to one game is just really, really dumb. All of this is, of course, a by-product of the baseball season being too long in the first place. The reason they don't want to play a 3-game wild card series is because it would push the playoffs closer and closer to November. So they just have the wild card teams play one game and the winner moves on and the loser watches the rest of the post-season with the teams who didn't even win 60 games in the regular season. It's a joke.

There's an easy fix, but they'd never do it. Make the season 140 games. Start the campaign in mid-April, end it the weekend after Labor Day, make the wild card series best of 3 (all in the stadium of the team with the better record) and then roll on with the LDS and LCS after that. Easy peasy.

Instead, the Yankees, who played the entire season and had the exact same record as Boston, wind up watching the rest of the playoffs.

We all get a perverse sort of glee from seeing the Yankees suffer, but we also know, like we saw in 2016 when the O's season ended with one game in Toronto, it's a totally unfair method of trying to figure out who has the best team. But it's baseball...and they're not exactly rocket scientists up there in Manhattan.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


I too get a little bored of the “Go For It” questions every single week, so I wanted to bring up a topic that is a little different. This is one of my favorite analytics decisions that pops up a few times each season. That is going for 2 after a touchdown.

Specifically, the situation is in the 4th quarter. Team is down 14 points and scores a touchdown to cut the lead to 8. Now the decision is whether to kick the extra point or to go for 2...what would you do? Most analytics types believe this should almost always be a go for 2 spot. Why you ask?

Ever since the change requiring a 33 yard extra point at the start of the 2015 NFL season, the expected value of an extra point and the expected value (EV) of a two point conversion are approximately the same (it’s actually a few percentage points in favor of 2 points). For simplicity we will assume that the EV is 1 point. That is, all extra points are made and exactly 50% of the two point tries are successful.

Back to the situation described above. You have just scored a touchdown (TD1) and are now down 8 in the game. Obviously regardless of what you decide your team is going to have to score another touchdown (TD2) and, thus, will be faced with the same decision. So you think about it and say to yourself “well the safe play here is to kick the extra point.” So you kick it and then score TD2 a few minutes later...run the kicker out, kick the next extra point and off we go to overtime.

But the object of the game is NOT to get to overtime. The object of the game should be to WIN. Assuming teams are equally likely to win in overtime, all you have done is given yourself a chance to win 50% of the time. So does kicking the extra point or going for 2 give you the best chance to win?

The better option is to go for 2 after TD1. If you are successful, you are now only down 6. Obviously, this is a better result than being down 7. If you are able to score TD2, you send your kicker out for the go ahead point. If you are unsuccessful on the initial 2 point try, you still have the ability to go for 2 after TD2 is scored. In theory, your expectation over the 2 scores is that you will score 14 points regardless of the decision. BUT if you are successful in the initial 2 point conversion your expectation is now 15 points with the go-ahead extra point.

Of course, there will be times when you miss on both 2 point tries and lose the game. And the fans on social media and talk radio and in print will give you the business. But you will have made the right mathematical decision and because of some variance you were unsuccessful. Your expectation was that you would have 2 points of value. You got 0.

A situation somewhat similar to this occurred recently where I think the coach actually made a poor decision but because the decision “worked” he looks like the hero. You likely saw this on ESPN or on social media a few weeks ago (if you haven’t seen it Google Hamilton-Bishop Gorman comeback). A HS game involving Hamilton (AZ) and Bishop Gorman (NV). With a little over 1 minute left in the game Hamilton kicked a medium length field goal to cut into Gorman’s lead 24-10 (I actually think kicking on 4th and 4 down 24-7 might be an error but disregard that).

On the ensuing kickoff, Hamilton successfully recovered an onside kick. A few plays later with 30 seconds left, Hamilton scored TD1 on a short pass from the 1. In this case, the coach elected to kick the extra point. 24-17 Gorman

Incredibly, Hamilton recovers the second straight onside kick with 27 seconds left. With 14 seconds left and 1 timeout, Hamilton’s QB hits his tailback in stride on a seam route and the back gets in the end zone for TD2. Place goes bananas! Kids are excited, fans are loud, announcers are beside themselves. The coaches decide “We are going to end it here!” QB rolls out to his left...no one open. But he narrowly gets around the corner and finds his way into the end zone for a ridiculous come from behind win. 25-24 Hamilton

Now this is high school. I have no idea what the coaches experience is or what the skill level of the kids is (they look pretty good). I also get that the coaches and kids got caught up in the emotion and that probably led to the decision being made by the seat of their collective pants in real time. But to me if I am going to try and win in regulation, going for 2 after TD1 is a far better approach. As the game was actually played, the team went for 2 in a spot where they either convert and WIN! Or don’t and LOSE. Going for the 2 point play after TD1 gives the coach the chance to go for 2 again after TD2 to send the game in overtime. As it is, everything rides on that one play. That seems like pretty poor planning ahead of time.

Of course, the odds of coming back from 14 and winning late in a game are pretty low to begin with. So this exact scenario may only show itself a few times a season in an NFL season. But if it does and your favorite team lines up for 2 after TD1, you can be assured that your coach is sharp. He is making this decision in advance and not just in the emotion of the moment.


Odds and ends:

* Last week, Joe Judge, Head Coach of the New York Giants, answered a reporter’s question critically about the use of analytics. His response: "It’s nice to look at the numbers and how they go through the flow of the game, but the analytics change based on the opponent, based on who you have available for the game and how the flow of the game is going, too. You can look at a stat sheet all you want, I promise you if Excel was going to win football games, Bill Gates would be killing it right now.” This is basically the response of a person who has no idea what he is talking about and is not interested in understanding what goes into analytics or how to utilize them to best improve your team’s WP%. Can analytics overcome a poor talent roster? Of course not. Can it help the coach optimize his win rate, whatever that roster talent might be? I believe so. But the Giants are a poorly run organization from it’s GM to it’s head coach to it’s offensive coordinator. Comments like this are laughable. Judge is likely on borrowed time unless things turn around in NYC.

* I know I said no 4th down decision discussion but I do have to give a demerit to Rams head coach Sean McVay. McVay is a real conundrum. Young, offensive genius who ticks a lot the analytics boxes (high use of pre snap motion, play action, etc). But he just has an absolute blind spot for game management decisions. In Sunday's loss to the Cardinals, McVay had 3 of the Sunday’s 6 worst 4th down decisions, kicking a field goal from the 3 down 11, punting on 4th and 2 from the opponents 49 down 11 and kicking another field goal from opponents 23. No other coach had more than 1 decision amongst the top 10 worst. Yikes!

* If we needed another nail in the Drive For Show, Putt For Dough myth, Sam Burns drove the hammer in last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship. Burns is an excellent young player who I suspect will make his share of US teams in the future. This week he ranked 1st in Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 2nd in Strokes Gained Approach to the Green. He ranked 57th of the 68 players that made the cut in Strokes Gained Putting. Oh I forgot to mention...he won the tournament. Ball striking clinic.

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Tuesday
October 5, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2598


as jim morrison once said...


"People are strange..."

That was the title of an outstanding Doors song, you might recall. And an appropriate transition into today's primary topic.

I mean, this *thing* that happened in Denver on Sunday afternoon is one of the strangest examples of fake outrage I've ever seen in the world of sports.

It was a national sports story on Monday. Forget about the goofs in Denver whining about it. Heck, you can dismiss the goofs in Baltimore who are also whining about it -- and there are lots of those people, far more than I ever would have imagined, frankly. But there were actual "professional" (in quotes for a reason) national sports broadcasters and writers spending large parts of their day chastising John Harbaugh and the Ravens for their 5-yard run on the last play of the game.

Arizona beat Los Angeles on Sunday to improve to 4-0 and hand the Rams a shocking home defeat.

The Giants and Jets both won their first games of the season, against teams they were expected to lose to, no less.

John Harbaugh and Vic Fangio saw the final play of Sunday's game differently. Harbaugh said it was "meaningful", Fangio called it "bulls..t".

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers went into New England -- stop me if you heard this one already -- and beat the Patriots on Sunday night.

But those occurrences took second place to "Record Gate", as the Ravens were grilled, turned over, and grilled some more for having the audacity to continue playing the game on Sunday afternoon even though the outcome was already in stone.

Leave it to Harbaugh himself, though, to give the most eloquent and meaningful commentary on the subject in his Monday press conference.

"It (the record) was obviously more meaningful to us than it was to them."

And that's it. There's the story in a nutshell.

Along the way in sports, there are things that are meaningful to "Team A" that aren't nearly as meaningful to "Team B".

Let's go back to last October 11 in Baltimore, when the Ravens beat the hapless Bengals, 27-3.

Fans with good memories will recall that the Ravens pitched a shutout in that one all the way to the very end, but Randy Bullock hit a 38 yard field goal with 32 seconds left to spoil the whitewashing.

Afterwards, predictably, people in Baltimore were miffed that the Bengals would stoop to the lowest-of-lows. Kicking a field goal with the game already over, just to avoid getting shut out.

I have no idea if this conversation existed, by the way, but play along, please. There's a tie-in if you'll hang in there with me.

John Harbaugh to Zac Taylor (Bengals coach) at the midfield post-game handshake: "Hey, nice job today. Kinda weird what happened there at the end. Kicking that field goal and all. I won't go as far as calling it bush league, but that was pretty lousy of you guys after we worked 59 minutes to shut you all out."

Taylor: "Yeah, I get it. But we didn't want to get shutout. 3 points with 30 seconds left is just like 3 points in the first minute of the game. It was meaningful to us that we didn't get shut out."

Harbaugh: "Well, the shutout was meaningful to us."

Taylor: "Understood. Not getting shutout was meaningful to us. I think I said that already."

Was Taylor wrong for having his kicker put three points up on the board in the game's final 32 seconds? Not. At. All. The Ravens could have, you know, blocked it, if they were that outraged at the late field goal that took their shutout off the board.

What's meaningful to one team might not matter one iota to another.

I have a very recent personal experience with that exact theme.

Follow along closely here, because there are a lot of moving parts to this one.

A few years back as we neared the end of our Calvert Hall golf season, we were locked into our playoff position and couldn't help or hurt ourselves in our final match of the season, which happened to be at home against, let's say, "Team A".

Team A was one win behind "Team B" in the playoff race and the final match of the year would determine where those two played in the one-game semifinal playoff. They were already set to play one another -- that was a done deal. But if Team A beat us, they got to host the playoff match and if we beat Team A, Team B would host the playoff match between the two.

Here's an added twist. Team A and Team B played the previous week in the season's penultimate match and Team A won. So, now, Team B needed us to beat Team A in the final match. Got it so far? Good.

In our high school matches back then, there were no substitutions allowed. The six players who started the match played the entire match in its entirety. We're one of the few sports like that. So it came to pass that in the final match of the season, when we had nothing at all on the line, I decided to play two seniors who had both only played once in the previous 11 matches. Neither of them would play in the playoffs and this was their final chance to play for Calvert Hall in their high school career. And neither were "bad" players -- or else they wouldn't have been on the team in the first place.

We lost to Team A that day. Funny enough, one of the seniors got 2.5 out of 3 possible points and the other one got 1.5 out of 3 possible points. They actually did their job(s) for the most part. Our other starters didn't fare as well, though, and Team A beat us and got to host the playoff game against Team B.

All was fine until a Team B parent reached out to me via social media and -- having heard about our lineup through the golf grapevine -- questioned why I played that particular lineup in a match "that meant so much".

"The match didn't mean anything to us," I replied.

"But it meant something to us," the parent countered.

"Well, it was far more important to me that those two young men get to play one more time in their high school career than it was to worry about what lineup you wanted me to play," I said.

"It's a terrible message to send to our kids," he said.

"Your kids? I'm not worried in the least about your kids. You guys had a chance last week to settle home field and you lost. Depending on us to help get you in is really lame. Do your own dirty work," I shot back.

And it went on for another 5 or 10 minutes. He was upset and I couldn't care less.

It was important -- or "meaningful" as Harbaugh said to me -- that my two seniors got to play that day. It wasn't meaningful in the least to help Team B play a home match against Team A. And even if I would have played my "regular" lineup against Team A, we still might have lost. Team A played great golf that day and beat us fair and square.

What happened on Sunday in Denver was completely acceptable.

The Broncos tried to score a touchdown with 10 seconds left, trailing 23-7.

Some would say to the Denver coaches and players..."why are you guys still trying to score when the game's over?"

And their reply would have been, "Because it's meaningful to us to score again and cut the final deficit to 23-14." (Or 15, since they would have undoubtedly tried for the 2-point conversion).

The game was over, but Denver still wanted to score. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that. If this is Pop Warner and it's 49-0 or a high school game and it's 42-0 and you're still trying to score with 8 seconds remaining, that could be construed as a bit much. I get that.

But in the NFL, where people are paid based on performance and stats, you don't need to stop until the clock reaches 00:00. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just saying that to say it.

Now, let's keep in mind this is a totally separate argument than the one about whether or not it was smart to have Lamar Jackson lugging the ball around the end on that final play. If you want to take exception with that, you can. I'm not worked up about it because I saw it as a very low-risk, protective play, where the Broncos weren't even trying in the first place and once Lamar got the five yards, he curled up like Hollywood Brown after a catch across the middle.

But for anyone to suggest the Ravens were out of line for still trying to play at the end, you're just dead-red wrong. And for anyone not associated with the team to suggest the record isn't/wasn't/shouldn't be important, you don't play for the team and it's not your record to be concerned about.

The record was meaningful to the Ravens. It might not have been meaningful to the Broncos to try and stop it. And then when it happened, they cried "foul" because it took a lot of the heat away from the fact they just got boatraced in their own building, 23-7.

Vic Fangio bellyached about it on Monday and all he did was embarrass himself. It's professional football, Vic. The other team tries, too, chief.

Ask the Lions how it goes...if you don't want the other team kicking a 66-yard field goal to beat you, you shouldn't let them catch a 4th and 19 pass for 36 yards.

If you don't want the other team to tie a league record for 100 yard rushing games, either stop them on the final play or just kneel on the ball yourself with ten seconds remaining so the Baltimore offense doesn't get back out on the field.

Ironically, the end of games like the one in Denver is called "garbage time". You know, those minutes down the stretch where nothing that happens really matters or impacts the outcome.

As it turns out, "garbage time" was certainly appropriate on Sunday. Those complaints from the fans in Denver and Baltimore? Garbage.

The Denver players and Vic Fangio crying about it? Garbage.

People sure are strange...

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play (october) ball!


Thirty percent of the teams in baseball -- 10 of 30, in fact -- make the post-season.

Of the 20 who don't make it, several of them try to win and make the playoffs and come up short. A smattering of teams, including one we all are familiar with, don't even fancy the dream of playing in October. They're just along to collect the TV money and give away bobbleheads and fanny packs.

Max Scherzer will get the start for the Dodgers tomorrow night in their one-game wild card playoff against St. Louis.

For the 10 teams who made the post-season, October baseball puts them on center stage. Six months of hard work gets rewarded with do-or-die games, including the crazy-but-worthwhile one-game wild card playoff, which begins tonight in Boston where the Red Sox host the Yankees. One of those two teams will have no more games to play on Wednesday morning. Tomorrow in Los Angeles, the Dodgers and Cardinals will dance the same dance.

Every sports league's post-season is captivating in its own way, although October baseball is second only to playoff hockey in terms of excitement and "must-see" TV. That's my opinion, any way. And for those of us in cities where our local nine are pretty much eliminated from the playoffs by Memorial Day weekend, the baseball post-season is our chance to watch baseball played the way it was meant to be played.

Editor's note: Yesterday was the 5-year anniversary of the last time our beloved Birds were in the post-season. It was a game in Toronto. Went to extra-innings. Our best pitching arm watched the game-winning three home run sail into the stands. Except he wasn't pitching. He was, ummmm, in the bullpen. Anyway...that was five years ago yesterday, for those who find those kinds of things important.

So it's the Yankees and Red Sox tonight and the Dodgers and Cardinals tomorrow. We're going with both home teams to prevail, for those interested in the occasional baseball wager.

Tampa Bay will host the Yankees-Red Sox winner and the White Sox and Astros will play in the other ALDS. We're partial to the White Sox around here because our friend, Gavin Sheets, plays for Chicago. The Astros had that nasty cheating thing a couple of years ago, you might remember. Join us in cheering for the White Sox, won't you please?

The Brewers and Braves will play in one NLDS while the Giants will entertain the Dodgers-Cardinals winner. It seems kind of weird for a 107-win team (San Francisco) to potentially be playing a 106-win team (Los Angeles) while the other two (Milwaukee and Atlanta) fight it out, but that's the way it worked out. We've always liked the Dodgers because of our fondness for Chavez Ravine, their gorgeous stadium in Southern California. We're not changing now. Here's hoping for a White Sox-Dodgers World Series.

You might recall at the beginning of the season we made our predictions for the post-season. We touted a White Sox-Padres World Series, which looked like a possibility until San Diego totally threw a shoe in the second half of the season.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


us soccer faces critical 3-game qualifying set


The US men in Europe had a packed schedule this week with many participating in both Champions League and domestic league matches. Several American attackers are riding a good wave of form as they head into camp for this week’s World Cup qualifiers. A couple of young players continued strong starts with new teams as they make their case for a spot on the roster.

This week we’ll incorporate the weekly recap into a preview of the upcoming qualifying window. The US is set to open their second three-game set of qualifiers with a game against Jamaica in Austin, Texas on Thursday. They follow that up with an away game in Panama on Sunday and then close out the window back home in Columbus, Ohio next Wednesday against Costa Rica.

Gregg Berhalter and the U.S. men's soccer team face three more important World Cup qualifying games this week and next.

The US enters this week in a three way tie for second in the eight team group. Mexico sits in first place with seven points with the US, Canada, and Panama all at five points. As a reminder, the top three will automatically qualify for the Qatar World Cup next November, with the fourth place team entering a playoff against teams from other regions for the last spot.

Coach Gregg Berhalter initially called 27 players into the camp for these three games, but John Brooks has since been ruled out with an injury. The roster consists of the following:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Atlanta United), Sergiño Dest (FC Barcelona), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Gianluca Busio (Venezia), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

FORWARDS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Matthew Hoppe (Mallorca), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Tim Weah (Lille), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

In goal the only question is whether Matt Turner will start all three games or Zack Steffen will get a shot. This could be complicated by current English Covid quarantine rules that may prevent Steffen (as well as Antonee Robinson) from traveling to Panama. Sean Johnson was chosen as the third keeper over Ethan Horvath because the latter has not been getting regular minutes for his new team in the English second division.

The back line will now be without its two most veteran players with John Brooks out injured and Tim Ream withdrawing to tend to family matters. The good news is that Miles Robinson has continued his career year with Atlanta and looks plenty capable of anchoring the line. Chris Richards will likely get the first call to start next to Robinson, as he enters on a strong run for Hoffenheim to start the German Bundesliga season. The young combo of Robinson and Richards make a highly athletic center back pairing that should provide a lot of cover when the full backs get forward. The US will miss the passing distribution of John Brooks, but the young pair have each made great strides in this aspect of their games, which may make the drop off less severe.

At the fullback spots both Dest and Antonee Robinson enter in strong form. Sergino Dest has been one of the few bright spots for a struggling Barcelona team. Playing mostly at left back, Dest has been a critical piece in the Barcelona attack while holding his own defensively. He started at left back in both their Champions League loss to Benfica and their 2-0 loss to Atletico Madrid this week. With some of the top attacking options out for the US, having Dest in his top form will be critical and the cover provided by the center backs along with Tyler Adams should provide Dest the comfort to get forward offensively.

Antonee Robinson has been one of the better fullbacks in the English second division for Fulham this season. The US is at its best when Robinson starts on the left and Dest on the right and it’s likely that is how they’ll line up against Jamaica. The big question is what Berhalter does in the Panama game if Robinson is unavailable. George Bello is talented but still very raw, and his defensive lapse was a big factor in the goal the US conceded to Honduras. It seems more likely the US will move Dest to the left for that game and start Deandre Yedlin or Shaq Moore on the right.

This brings us to the most puzzling omission from this roster. Borussia Monchengladbach full back Joe Scally has been one of the most consistent Americans in Europe early in this season. The 18 year old initially got a shot in the lineup due to injury but has seized a starting role with his stellar play. He continued with a strong game this weekend in Gladbach’s 3-1 win over John Brooks and Wolfsburg. Scally capped off the game with a great individual effort to score his first Bundesliga goal, winning a header at midfield, then chasing down the loose ball and hitting a well placed shot past the keeper.

Scally has played both right and left back for Gladbach in both four and five man defensive lines. His versatility could have been a huge asset during this three game window that will likely test the team’s depth. Berhalter commented that they wanted guys who had more experience, but it remains a curious decision, given that the breakout star from last window was Ricardo Pepi, who had no international experience before the Honduras game. Shaq Moore was solid over the summer but he has been buried on the bench of a second division Spanish team this season and does not inspire confidence if called upon in a critical moment.

In the midfield the US will have its full complement of first choice players available in this window. After missing a game last week for RB Leipzig due to injury, Tyler Adams returned as a sub in their 2-1 loss to Brugge in the Champions League and then started and was a key contributor in their 3-0 win over VFL Bochum this weekend. Adams will lead the midfield line and likely captain the team. The US will need him on the field as much as possible to get the most from this window.

The other big news from this roster release was the inclusion of Weston McKennie, who is back with the team after being sent home early in the last window. McKennie has not been at his best this season but he is still getting regular minutes for Juventus. He subbed on in the second half to help see out an impressive 1-0 win over Chelsea in the Champions League and then played the full game in a 1-0 win over crosstown rival Torino on Saturday. He is likely to get the most minutes alongside Adams for the US.

The congested three game schedule will force Berhalter to rotate his midfielders, so each will need to contribute. Gianluca Busio is back in the roster after being left out in September. Busio provided the highlight of the weekend for the US, putting in a man of the match performance and scoring a dramatic injury time goal to seal a point for Venezia in a 1-1 draw.

The American teenager played as the more attacking of two center midfielders and showed great poise and passing touch throughout the game. On the goal, Busio made a good run on a counter attack, received the ball near the penalty spot then cut back and hit a hard shot that deflected past the goalie. He has shown steady improvement early in his first Serie A season and will now look to carry that over to the US team.

The other new face in midfield is Yunus Musah, who returns after missing the September window with an injury. Musah has been getting consistent playing time for Valencia in the Spanish league and provides the US another energetic and technical option in midfield.

The most concerning area of this roster is certainly the forward line. The two most dangerous American attackers are both out as neither Christian Pulisic or Gio Reyna have recovered in time from the injuries they picked up in September. For a US team that has struggled to generate danger in attack even when fully healthy, these injuries will place a huge burden on the backups.

The hope is that last window’s breakout teenager, Ricardo Pepi, will continue his stellar form into this set of games and provide a focal point for the offense. Pepi has carried his goal scoring momentum from September through the last month with FC Dallas and should get the bulk of the time at striker. The other two striker options from September, Josh Sargent and Jordan Pefok, have been dropped, with Gyasi Zardes and Matthew Hoppe called in as replacements.

The good news is that two of the backup wingers are playing their best soccer of the season heading into this important week. Both Brenden Aaronson and Tim Weah enter off a good string of appearances for their clubs.

Brenden Aaronson has been outstanding for RB Salzburg this season as they have cruised to the top spot in the Austrian league and surprised with good results in the Champions League. He was a key contributor, setting up a play that led to a penalty kick goal along with several other chances in their 2-1 Champions League win over Tim Weah’s Lille. He then picked up another assist in their Austrian league win over the weekend.

Tim Weah started in that Champions League game for Lille and has produced two assists in his last two French league games, including a 2-0 win over Marseille over the weekend. Weah had a slow start to the season for a Lille team struggling to replace some of their main contributors from last year, but in recent weeks both Weah and Lille have started to produce better results. Weah is a versatile attacker who can line up on either wing or at striker for the US. Getting the most out of him and Aaronson will be crucial for Gregg Berhalter in this three game stretch.

The US opens the window with a home game against Jamaica on Thursday. It will be critical to get a win in this game to start the window off on the right foot. Jamaica has a talented veteran roster, led by one of the top goalies in MLS, Andre Blake, along with English Premier League star Michail Antonio and several other players from the English second division. Despite this talent, they have failed to produce effective performances on the field, taking just one point from the first three games. They will also be without their top winger, Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey, who is out with an injury.

The US will need to be careful not to take this team lightly, as Jamaica will have their backs against the wall and will be desperate for a result. However, they should look to apply heavy pressure to take advantage of a team lacking cohesiveness.

Creating turnovers high up the field and capitalizing on set pieces could be the best opportunities for the US to score in this window. Without several of their top offensive talents, the Americans will need to rely on their solid foundation in defense and midfield while hoping Pepi can continue to finish his chances at a high rate and Aaronson and/or Weah can carry over their club form. With their possible lack of offensive firepower, the US will need to bring maximum effort and maintain focus to avoid giving up any cheap goals that put them behind the eight ball.

Even with several star players out, this team is still more talented than any of the opponents they will face. The September window was certainly a wake up call and there won’t be many illusions of a “nine point” window this time around. It would not be surprising if the US is forced to grit and grind out some close results in these games.

Given the circumstances, the US should hope to get away with at least two wins in this round. Six or seven points would keep them on a good pace to qualify, meanwhile, anything less than the five points they picked up in the first window would be a troubling outcome.

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Monday
October 4, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2597


better...by a mile


That one wasn't even a sweat-breaker for the Ravens yesterday.

As we suspected, the Broncos were frauds. Gifted a 3-win start by the NFL schedule makers, Denver was eventually going to have to go from 6 furlongs to a mile-and-a-quarter. And when that race came along, they weren't up for the task.

The Ravens fell behind 7-0 and then got serious, outscoring Denver 23-0 from that point onward. Lamar Jackson threw for over 300 yards for the second time in his career and hit Hollywood Brown with a terrific TD throw as well.

Not bad for a quarterback, huh?

Lamar Jackson hit the 300 yard mark in passing yards for just the second time in his career on Sunday but it was a last second five yard run that had people talking afterwards.

The game was so "blah" and listless that the biggest story was actually a non-story. The Ravens ran one final play to gain five yards and tie the NFL record for consecutive games rushing for 100+ yards at 43. It came after the Broncos used all of their timeouts to try and score a touchdown in the final minute of a 23-7 game, including a pass into the end zone with 5 seconds left. The Ravens, needing three yards to reach 100 for the day, had Lamar run a protected quarterback keeper around the left edge to pick up five yards and then he hit the ground without being touched.

Because people like to complain about silly things, the internet lit up with vitriol for John Harbaugh and the Ravens, including some supposed complaints from Broncos players who were irate that the Ravens didn't just take a knee at the end of the game.

The Reisterstown under-13 youth football league isn't even that soft.

This is akin to baseball teams complaining when someone steals a base when they're leading 9-2 in the 9th inning. Your pitcher is still throwing heat and your catcher is still framing pitches when they're losing 9-2, but that's OK, apparently.

It was OK for the Broncos to try and score in the game's final 30 seconds even though the game was "over", but it wasn't OK for the Ravens to keep playing football when they got the ball back? That's how it works? Got it.

#clownshoes

I saw nothing at all wrong with trying to get three yards there and tying the league record. I had zero issue with Harbaugh's decision. Players and coaches take great pride in individual and team records and accomplishments. And, so, after 42 consecutive games of 100+ yards rushing and faced with needed three measly yards to tie a long-standing NFL record, I totally understand the urgency to get the three yards.

Now, I will say this: I'm not so sure running Lamar on that particular play was all that smart. Yes, I know he was in a protected position and didn't even take a hit on the play. And I also know the Broncos weren't really expecting it and, thus, weren't even going full steam on the play. I get it. His chances of getting injured were very minimal there. But I would have given the ball to a running back there.

If Lamar Jackson gets hurt on that play and the Ravens season is impacted because of it.....well.....you just know how terrible that would be. And let's face it. The Ravens are Lamar Jackson. Without him, they're the Steelers. Or worse.

So I think running the ball on the last play of the game was fine. Personally, I would have given the ball to a running back there, but I'm not going to overreact to Lamar lugging it for five yards. It was a low-risk move and everything turned out just fine. Nothing to see there, really.

But because the game was so drab in the second half, people needed something to bellyache about afterwards. I get it. It's silly to be upset about it, but I get it.

Meanwhile, the Ravens improved to 3-1 with the win and have played three of their first four on the road. They have a lay-up next Monday night at home against the Colts to get to 4-1. Then the Chargers come to town for what should be a quasi-marquee-game on October 17. After that it's the Bengals and the Vikings. That sure looks like either 7-1 or 6-2 to me. Maybe the Ravens stub their toe against the Chargers, but the other three games are pretty much stored away in the win column already.

And don't forget, Harbaugh's team is doing this with a patchwork group on both sides of the ball. The running backs are still introducing themselves to their teammates, the offensive line is a constant shuffle of personnel and two of the team's wide receivers (Boykin and Bateman) haven't played a down yet. They're using a past-his-prime right tackle at left tackle while the left tackle figures out if he can even play another game this season. And yet they're still 3-1. Sure, as we've noted here a dozen times, they could easily be 2-2 or worse, but they're not. They're 3-1.

The Broncos, by the way, aren't very good. We all know how they won their first three games. And the bet here is they'll be hard pressed to win more than 7 games this season. They "look" like a 7-10 team, at best. Their defense is OK, but their offense is pretty lousy. They got the Cleat of Reality yesterday in a big way.

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around the nfl in two minutes


Washington 34 - Atlanta 30 -- The Washington's are a weird team. One quarter they look good, the next quarter they look terrible. Yesterday, they were fortunate to play a team that looks terrible in all four quarters. The Falcons...are....really.....bad. The Matt Ryan era is on the 18th tee box.

Buffalo 40 - Houston 0 -- The Bills have now won two of their three victories by scores of 35-0 and 40-0. The Texans could still be playing today and they wouldn't score. Buffalo is obviously good, but we'll see how good they *really* are next Sunday when they take on the Chiefs in Kansas City. We don't need to see the Texans next Sunday. We know what they're going to do.

Josh Allen and the Bills trounced the Texans on Sunday, but next Sunday night's showdown in Kansas City will tell the tale about the Bills.

Green Bay 27 - Pittsburgh 17 -- The Steelers' offense is so bad Kyle Boller and Travis Taylor could help them. Green Bay looks like they've righted the ship after that season opening loss to the Saints in Jacksonville. The Steelers aren't totally done yet, but if they were playing "H-O-R-S-E" they would now have "D" and "O". They halfway to being done and it's the first week of October. You hate to see it.

Chicago 24 - Detroit 14 -- A lot of gamblers were all over the Lions in this one after they nearly scraped together a win over the Ravens last week. And, well, they lost. Again. Did you see the play where the ball was snapped to Jared Goff and he wasn't looking and it hit his shoulder pad and bounced right into the hands of a Bears defensive player? Lions gonna Lions.

Dallas 36 - Carolina 28 -- The Panthers were ahead at the half, 14-13, but got shellacked in the second half. The Cowboys -- if they stay healthy -- might have a puncher's chance of making some noise in the NFC this season. Sure, Arizona's 4-0, but they're the Cardinals. It's still anyone's conference to win, including -- gulp -- the Cowboys.

Indianapolis 27 - Miami 17 -- The Colts were bound to win one at some point and the Dolphins are in trouble without Tua at quarterback. Those throwback jerseys the Dolphins wore were nice. I will give them that, at least.

Cleveland 14 - Minnesota 7 -- What a snoozer this one was. Cleveland scored one touchdown, along with a two point conversion, and kicked two field goals. Baker Mayfield had a whopping 155 yards of passing. But the Browns defense stepped up in a big way to move Cleveland to 3-1. Don't get worked up about the Browns just yet, though. They're always gonna Browns at some point.

NY Giants 27 - New Orleans 21 OT -- Drew Brees had to be laughing up a storm at this one. In New Orleans, against the winless Giants, and the Saints still couldn't win. I suspect this one told us more about New Orleans than it did the Giants.

NY Jets 27 - Tennessee 24 OT -- The Titans were wrecked with injuries and still managed a last second TD to send the game to OT before losing to the previously-winless Jets. Tennessee is still the easy favorite in the AFC South, but they need to get healthy in order to maintain their division dominance. As for the Jets, that was one of their five wins. I hope they enjoy it.

Kansas City 42 - Philadelphia 30 -- So much for the Chiefs' demise, although that Eagles defense is really lousy. 42 points against Philly is about "normal". K.C.'s defense isn't all that great, either, but that quarterback and wide receiver they have? I heard they're both pretty good.

Arizona 37 - Los Angeles 20 -- This...was a blow out. The Cardinals went into Los Angeles and -- with all due respect to Nuke LaLoosh -- "announced their presence with authority". It's still way too early to tell if Arizona is legit or not, but that was certainly a very impressive win for them on the road.

Seattle 28 - San Francisco 21 -- The 49'ers season might be in jeopardy if the Jimmy Garoppolo calf injury is serious. In reality, the 49'ers season is already in jeopardy with Garoppolo at quarterback. Anyway, that was a big time "gut check" win for Seattle, who was in danger of falling to 1-3 with a loss. Never count Russell Wilson out.

Tampa Bay 19 - New England 17 -- Not sure if you heard, but Tom Brady went back to New England last night to take on the Patriots. And, here's the deal: he got outplayed by a kid who was the starter at Alabama this time last year. But give Brady credit, when he needed to put together a late drive for the go-ahead-field-goal, he was able to do it. New England might have themselves a legit QB in Mac Jones, though. All is not lost up there, even though Brady beat Belichick in his own building.

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one game in fenway? sure!


OK, so the Yankees wanted it *this way*. And......they got it.

With a nailbiting 1-0 win over the Rays yesterday, coupled with Boston's 7-5 win over Washington, the Yankees and Red Sox finished with 92 wins each. And that means they'll play the one-game American League wild card game this Tuesday at 8:08 pm at Fenway Park.

Aaron Judge played the hero role on Sunday when he knocked in the winning run to get the Yankees into the playoffs.

Here's what's funny. Earlier in the day, when given the opportunity to choose their opponent in the event there was a 4-way tie for the A.L. wild card spots, the Yankees decided they'd rather go to Boston than Toronto, so they chose the Red Sox as their "sudden death" opponent.

Alas, they avoided the playoff-to-get-into-the-playoff with yesterday's win, but you have to assume the Red Sox took notice of it nonetheless.

"You wanted us? You got us."

So Boston hosts New York, with the winner there facing the Rays in the 5-game ALDS. Chicago and Houston will face one another in the other ALDS.

In the National League, the 106-win season of the Dodgers gets a one-game test against the surging Cardinals (Wednesday). The winner there gets the Giants, who went 107-55 on the season. The Braves and Brewers will meet in the other NLDS.

As for our Orioles --- well, the best thing to say is: "It's over."

There were plenty of bright spots in 2021, but the season as a whole was awful. The Birds finished 52-110, which represents the second worst season in franchise history. Along the way, there were two losing streaks of 14 and 19 games and an August and September meltdown in the bullpen that was really tough to stomach if you're an ardent Orioles supporter.

As expected, there won't be playoff baseball in Baltimore this season. Or next, probably. Maybe by 2023, though, the O's will start to resemble a competitive club. Hope springs eternal. They'll gather in Sarasota on February 15 to start all over again.

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Open Again


Sunday
October 3, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2596


who gets the cleat of reality today?


Unless today's game in Denver ends in a tie, someone's going to get put in their place.

It might be a tad too early to start calling games "season defining" and all, but the Broncos and Ravens both have something to prove this afternoon.

Is Denver "for real"? They've started the campaign 3-0 but they've also played an easier schedule than Calvert Hall's MIAA slate thus far in 2021. Denver's wins and dominating defensive performances have come against the Giants, Jaguars and Jets. You can stop giggling now.

What kind of day will these two have in Denver this afternoon as the Ravens take on the undefeated Broncos?

Meanwhile, the Ravens are a complete mystery. They had the season opener in Las Vegas on lockdown, then allowed the Raiders to tie the game on their final offensive drive and lost that Monday night contest in overtime. Six days later they authored a comeback of their own, aided by a late fumble by the Chiefs and a gutsy 4th and 1 call in the game's final minute that sealed the deal. And then last weekend in Detroit, Justin Tucker hit a game-winning field goal from Toronto to give Baltimore a 19-17 win.

The Ravens could be 0-3, 1-2, 2-1 or 3-0. Really, you can make an easy argument for any of those three scenarios and all would be logical. But their current 2-1 mark really doesn't tell us anything. We *think* the Ravens are a quality team. But we're still not sure.

We'll find out a little more today in Denver. Either the Broncos or Ravens are getting the old cleat of reality this afternoon.

As we noted here earlier in the week, Denver's season will hinge largely on how they fare against their three Western Division rivals. But a win today would go a long way for them. It would not only prove their 3-0 record wasn't only about playing three of the league's weakest teams, but in the event the Ravens and Broncos somehow finish tied for a wild card spot, the winner of today's game would get the tiebreaking nod.

The Ravens, meanwhile, are in the middle of what should be a nice little romp through a fairly easy part of their '21 schedule. They had the Lions last week, Denver today, the winless (thus far) Colts in Baltimore next Monday night, followed by home games against the Chargers, Cincinnati and Minnesota to close out October. We don't like putting the cart before the horse, but if the Ravens really *are* a high quality team, they're looking at a minimum of a 6-2 mark there...and potentially 7-1.

But which Baltimore team shows up today?

Which Greg Roman shows up today?

Which Hollywood Brown shows up today?

And which Ravens defense shows up today?

All of those questions are critical and will need to be answered in a positive way. Will Roman go back to allowing Lamar Jackson to run the ball a dozen times or will he insist on keeping Jackson in the pocket for most of the day?

Will Hollywood recover from last Sunday's epic stinker in Detroit? With Boykin and Bateman still out, the heat will be on the former #1 pick to come through against the Broncos. And you just know Lamar's going to go to him right away to try and get thoughts of last Sunday dismissed from his mind.

The Baltimore defense has been fairly disappointing thus far. Granted, they've been slammed with injuries, but other than a respectable 4th quarter against the Chiefs, the Ravens' defense has been suspect throughout a large part of the first three games.

Teddy Bridgewater's no John Elway, of course, and Denver is dealing with their own injury woes, but the Broncos are averaging over 400 yards per-game of total offense. They're a team that deserves respect today, despite their easy schedule.

Something has to give today. Either the Broncos aren't nearly as good as their 3-0 record suggests or the Ravens are more like the team that needed a miracle to beat the lowly Lions than the squad that beat the Chiefs two weeks ago.

The cleat is waiting...


Well, the Yankees and Red Sox are now both just one win away from the post-season, although things have shifted a bit in the A.L. race after Saturday's turn of events.

With New York losing and Boston winning, the two teams are now tied at 91-70 with Sunday's final game remaining. If the Red Sox and Yankees both win on Sunday, the Red Sox will host the wild card game. Toronto and Seattle are both at 90-71. If they both win today in their respective season finales and the Red Sox and Yankees both lose, you'd have an incredible finish of four teams at 91-71.

There would be two tiebreaker games just to get to the point where there's a one-game wild card playoff game. How crazy would that be?

Of all four teams, the Yankees are the ones kicking themselves the hardest. They were coming off winning three straight at Fenway and two of three in Toronto and had Tampa Bay at home to finish the season. All they needed/need was one win over the Rays and they were in the post-season. Two would have guaranteed them the home game in the wild card contest. Alas, they've lost the first two to Tampa Bay and now have to win today to assure themselves of making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Dodgers could also be facing a playoff game to determine who wins the N.L. West and who hosts the wild card game. San Francisco still owns a one-game lead with one to play, but their 3-2 home loss to the Padres on Saturday kept the Dodgers alive into the final day of the regular season.

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how drew sees today's game


Lamar wastes no time getting Hollywood Brown back on track, completing a pass to him on Baltimore's first offensive play and then hitting him again on the opening series before Le'Veon Bell punches it in from 3 yards out to give the Ravens a quick 7-0 lead.

Drew sees the Ravens going into Denver and winning today by a fairly comfortable margin.

The Broncos counter with a field goal late in the first quarter to make it 7-3, but Jackson takes the Ravens back down the field with ease again, only to have the drive stall on the 14 yard line. Justin Tucker's 31 yard field goal makes it 10-3.

It stays that way until the final three minutes of the half, when Marlon Humphrey picks off a Bridgewater pass and returns it to the Denver 20. Tucker connects again, this time from 35 yards, and it's 13-3. But the Broncos get a huge kick-off return and Bridgewater throws three completions to put Denver on the 2 yard line and on the half's final play, he scampers into the end zone. The ensuing extra point makes it 13-10 Ravens at the half.

Midway through the 3rd quarter, Lamar hits Mark Andrews on a 16-yard TD throw and it's 20-10 heading into the 4th quarter.

The Broncos cut the lead to seven with a field goal with 11 minutes remaining in the game, but Jackson engineers a 10-play, 6 minute drive that culminates in Tucker hitting a 40 yard field goal to make it 23-13.

And that's how it ends in Denver, as the Ravens improve to 3-1 with a 23-13 win over the Broncos.


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add a practice putting green at the beach house


I mean, if you're going to have the ultimate beach house, why not add one of those fancy backyard putting greens, right?

Pricing varies, but the really good ones will run you about $25,000. Have no fear, after we shellacked The Man last Sunday you have plenty of spare change for that putting green. Who knows, after we roar through five more games for you today, you might be able to build a replica of Pebble Beach's 7th hole, like Jim Nantz did at his house. That'll run you about 100k, in case you're planning for it.

By now you've probably started breaking ground on the beach house in Delaware (no state taxes, remember). Congrats. We'll do our best today to allow for even more upgrades as the building begins in earnest.

Let's get going with those week four games. The quicker the money comes in, the quicker your putting will improve.

PANTHERS AT COWBOYS (-4.0) -- Carolina's 3-0 start is nice and all, but they're imposters. Dallas could easily be 3-0 and looks like a real team for once. The savvy bettor might look at this one and say "Dallas, at home, a favorite = not a good bet", but we disagree with that. In fact, we're all over the four points here. It should be more like -6.5 points, we think. The Cowboys cover the four points -- easily -- and improve to 3-1 with a 31-17 pasting of the Panthers.

Ben Roethlisberger and the battered Steelers go into Green Bay today to take on the Packers.

STEELERS AT PACKERS (-6.5) -- OK, so the 6.5 points worries us. Not because it's 6.5, but more because it probably should be 9.5 points. That 6.5 number is almost too enticing. We smell a rat. But we've also seen the Steelers and there's just no way they're going to hang tough in this one with a handful of their top players (including Chase Claypool) ailing. Big Ben's on the 18th tee of his career. It's almost over. We're going with Green Bay in a thrashing, as the Packers cover the 6.5 and roll to a 34-17 win.

COLTS AT DOLPHINS (-2.5) -- I honestly have no idea at all why I'm playing this particular game. Indianapolis is 0-3 and injury riddled. Miami has no quarterback, their offensive line is terrible, and there's no reason to suspect they're going to get any better moving forward. But they somehow pushed the Raiders to the brink last Sunday with (checks the internet) Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. There's no formal research going on here. We're simply feeling something that says Indianapolis goes down there and wins outright, as the Colts gobble up those 2.5 points and hit a last second field goal to pull out their first victory of the season, 23-20.

GIANTS AT SAINTS (-7.0) -- There's no way the Giants are *this bad*, right? They can't be. At some point, because their players get paid, too, New York's going to shock someone. Right? Right! But it won't be this week. New Orleans covers and wins this one in pretty easy fashion, 27-13.

SEAHAWKS AT 49'ERS (-2.5) -- This is an interesting game. Are the 49'ers able to overcome that disastrous finish last Sunday night at home against Green Bay? And can Seattle recover from two straight losses and get themselves back into the NFC West race? This one goes down to the last minute and the 49'ers hit the game-winning field goal at the buzzer. We're going with San Francisco to cover the 2.5 with a 30-27 victory.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Not even a second thought about this one. Borrow whatever you can from your Aunt Mildred (promise to pay her back on Tuesday with a little something extra coming her way for loaning you the money) and put it all on the Cowboys minus 4.0 at home against the Panthers. You and Aunt Mildred will be thrilled tomorrow night.

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

TOTAL RECORD TO DATE: 9-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 2-1

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Saturday
October 2, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2595


maryland crumbles


That big thud you heard south of Baltimore around 9:30 pm last night was the Maryland football program crashing back to earth. Their impact left a mark, let's say.

#5 Iowa rolled into College Park last night for a huge Big Ten game, one where the Terps were going to show people across the country they're a force to be reckoned with in 2021. Aided by two nice wins over West Virginia and Illinois, Maryland was ready to show the Hawkeyes a thing or two.

Final from College Park: Iowa 51 - Maryland 14

Maryland coach Mike Locksley saw his Terps fall behind 34-7 at the half en-route to a 51-14 defeat to Iowa last night.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was on the outskirts of the Heisman Trophy discussion prior to last night's tilt. Five interceptions later...not so much any longer. Taulia threw four picks in the first half alone as everything went right for Iowa and wrong for Mike Locksley's team. The Terps did forge an early 7-3 lead and were actually leading after the opening 15 minutes, but the floodgates opened in the second quarter and Iowa led 34-7 at the intermission.

A crowd of just over 45,000 showed up in College Park, hoping to see a signature win for Maryland as the program continues to rebuild under Locksley. A lot of them headed for Route 1 by halftime. While the loss wasn't totally unexpected, the final margin of victory and the way Iowa produced the win were somewhat surprising. Their offense hasn't been all that great this season and Maryland's offense had been percoloating under Tagovailoa. Neither of those panned out on Friday night as Iowa's offense generated 428 yards of offense and Maryland mustered just 271.

The season's not over for the Terps and they'll still have a couple of opportunities for significant conference victories throughout the next two months, but Friday's chance was a biggie that went unanswered. A Friday night home, on the Big Ten network, against one of the best teams in the country. College coaches call that "fertile recruiting territory", but I can't imagine Locksley and his assistants will be including the Iowa game in any information they distribute to high school players looking at Maryland for football.

If getting to travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State can be looked at as an opportunity for redemption, that's what Maryland faces next Saturday afternoon. They'll take on the #11 Buckeyes with a chance to show everyone -- including themselves -- that last night's embarrassing loss was an outlier.

The other big negative from Friday night for Maryland -- besides getting shellacked at home in a game that was over at halftime -- was packing 45,000 into their stadium and delivering an epic egg-lay like that. For a school desperate to garner more local attention from football fans in D.C., Northern Virginia and Baltimore, losing 51-14 to "Iowa" is a bad, bad look. Yes, Iowa's #5 in the country and apparently deserving of that ranking. But it's not like Maryland lost 51-14 to Ohio State or Michigan or Penn State. When outsiders who don't pay much attention to the Terps football see they lost 51-14 to Iowa...it's hard to think Maryland is worthy of your hard earned money as a ticket buyer.

But here's the good news: A bowl game is still well within reach for the Terps. They weren't going undefeated, obviously. They can still win six or seven games, although an injury to talented wide receiver Dontay Demus, Jr. in last night's loss could impact Maryland's offense in a big way moving forward.

Friday evening's big game with Iowa was Maryland's chance to show the nation they were starting to make great strides in the Big Ten. Instead, all it really showed is how much better they are than the likes of Howard and Kent State.


There continue to be rumors floating around town that Lamar Jackson hurt his back two weeks against Kansas City when he did a forward flip into the end zone following his 4th quarter go-ahead touchdown.

Did Lamar Jackson suffer an injury on this play last month against the Chiefs?

The Ravens aren't going to confirm that, of course, and it stands to reason that if, in fact, Jackson did hurt his back on the flip, he's already been told time and time again to never admit that to the media.

But the rumors persist that Jackson told some people at a midweek event at a local watering hole he was missing practice (the week after the KC victory) because he hurt his back as a result of doing the flip. If that story is indeed true, Jackson learned a valuable lesson: Don't. Talk. About. Your. Injuries. To. Anyone.

This could also be made-up and totally untrue. I'm sure if asked about it now, Jackson's going to deny it anyway, so we'll never really know the truth. But here's what can't be denied or debated: Doing a forward flip into the end zone on a touchdown is silly. You might have other words for it (dangerous, unnecessary), but "silly" sort of encompasses all of them.

Dismissing what Jackson's absence could/would do to the Ravens, think about what some sort of freak'ish injury could do to him. It's bad enough when you're Ronnie Stanley and you get hurt actually playing football and the injury was so bad you're still struggling with it almost a year later. If the injury happens in football, you can understand that. It can happen to anyone and everyone.

But imagine being on the cusp of signing a $500 million contract and doing a flip in a game, landing awkwardly, and doing something weird to your hip or back and that injury winds up debilitating you somehow. Think Bo Jackson, if you will. He didn't hurt himself doing something "weird", of course, but the freaky hip injury he suffered essentially ended his career.

I have to assume Harbaugh has already talked to Lamar about the whole thing, whether the back injury story is legit or made up.

"Lamar, listen," Harbs would say. "I love you. You know that. I love how you play, I love your enthusiasm for the game and I love that you enjoy entertaining people. But be smart. That flip you did against the Chiefs? That's not smart. I know you were excited. Throw the ball in the stands if you want. We'll pay the $500 fine for you. Do the Ray Lewis dance or something like that after you score. Anything is fine by me except something where you could potentially hurt yourself. Deal?"

It's natural for players to want to show excitement. Football's an emotional game. But as he gets ready for the Ravens to show him the money, Lamar should think about better ways to show that excitement.


Things are really getting tight now in the American League playoff race, as both the Yankees and Mariners lost last night and the Red Sox and Blue Jays won. Toronto beat the Orioles, 6-4, by the way, as the Birds fell behind 6-0 and then rallied in the 8th to cut the deficit to 6-4.

The Yankees lost at home to Tampa Bay, 4-3, as New York trailed 4-1 in the 9th before launching a spirited rally that nearly netted them a wild, improbable victory. But Gary Sanchez and Rougned Odor struck out with two runners on base to end the game and New York's hopes of clinching a playoff spot were doused.

Future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw left last night's game with foremarm tightness and appears to be finished for the season.

Despite the loss, New York still leads Toronto and Seattle by two games and they maintain a one-game edge over the Red Sox, who won in Washington D.C. against the Nationals to maintain a one-game lead for the second wild card berth.

But it's going down to the wire, for sure, which seems almost impossible given a 162-game baseball schedule. You mean to tell me, after a six month season, one team is going to make it by a single game? Yes, that's exactly what's going to happen. Heck, it might even take a one-game playoff just to decide who gets to play the one-game wild card playoff game.

New York - 91-69

Boston - 90-70

Toronto - 89-71

Seattle - 89-71

The National League West race continued along the same path as it has for the better part of five weeks now, as the Giants (106-54) clinched at least a tie for the division title with a 3-0 win over the Padres while the Dodgers (104-56) turned back the visiting Brewers, 8-6.

But Los Angeles got some bad news, as Clayton Kershaw exited the game with forearm tightness and afterwards said his season is likely finished. L.A., of course, has plenty of pitching to go around, starting with Max Scherzer, who will start the wild card game if the Giants on and win the division title. The Dodgers also have Walker Buehler (15-4, 2.49) and Julio Urias (19-3, 3.01), who will go for his 20th win of the season tonight against the Brewers.

And it's worth noting that 2021 Clayton Kershaw isn't close to 2015 Clayton Kershaw. He can still pitch, mind you, but you're no longer getting those dominant, 8-inning, 3 hits allowed, 10 strikeout games from him that you routinely did five or six years ago.

If you're a baseball junkie, this weekend's pretty cool. And once the playoff lineups are set, there will be some intriguing match-ups to follow as well. One of these days, we might even have a real reason to follow the playoffs again here in Baltimore. Wouldn't that be something?


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Friday
October 1, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2594


friday nuggets


A friend checked in on Thursday with three points about this Sunday's Ravens game in Denver.

"Where's your Stats Nerd dude?" he asked right away. "I have three wagers for him and I need odds."

"I bet the Ravens score more points in one half than the Broncos score the entire game," he said emphatically.

Editor's note: This is a take-off from one of the best baseball prop bets ever invented. "Will the winning team score more runs in one inning than the losing team will score in the entire game?" Not that I ever made that wager. But, uhh, a friend of mine used to love it.

Can the Ravens contain Teddy Bridgewater and the 3-0 Broncos on Sunday in Denver?

"Keep going," I said to him.

"Denver won't exceed more than 359 yards of total offense," he stated.

I quickly went to the internet - where else? - to see that Denver's averaging 402 yards per-game thus far in 2021.

"The Ravens will win this game by more than 15 points," was his final declaration.

Sounds like my buddy thinks it's the Ravens in a cake-walk on Sunday.

I see the logic. Denver has played three teams - Giants, Jaguars, Jets - who have yet to win a football game in 2021. Two of them, maybe even all three, would be fighting for 3rd place in the SEC. You play who they put in front of you, of course, but there's no denying the Broncos have played a schedule that the Little Sisters Of The Poor would likely accept with a smile.

This Sunday's game doesn't represent a landmark opportunity for Denver to establish themselves in 2021. They will, after all, have six opportunities to go head to head with three apparently-good teams; the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders. Those six games - not this one on Sunday vs. Baltimore - will ultimately determine their AFC West fate.

But the Ravens do represent a step up in class, for sure, and in the "just in case" department, what if Denver and Baltimore finish the season with the same record in the wild card race? So the Broncos can not only beat a quality opponent instead of a bottom-feeder, but they can also get a leg-up in the tiebreaker format if necessary.

I don't know what to make of Sunday's game. As we've noted here this week, the Ravens are a mystery -- as are several teams at this juncture. They could be 3-0 if they don't let the Raiders move down the field late in the game and again in overtime in the season opener. They could also be 0-3 if the Chiefs don't cough up the ball in the game's final two minutes in Baltimore and if Tucker doesn't hit the longest field goal in the history of football.

Anyone who says they "know" the Ravens in 2021 isn't telling the truth. I'm not even sure the Ravens know the Ravens yet.

But I have a weird feeling my overzealous friend is, in fact, overzealous. Denver's not the easiest place to play, no matter the quality of either team. And the Broncos defense, albeit against three raggedy offensive units, has been pretty decent thus far. They have a guy named Von Miller and he's really good at chasing the quarterback. He could be a problem on Sunday.

I used to say this on the radio all the time; "the team that thinks they're really good is often times more dangerous than the team that actually is really good." My guess is Denver probably "thinks" they're really good. And I suspect they'll stick around for a while on Sunday before finally caving in.

I wouldn't make those three bets my friend is proposing. Maybe the Stats Nerd will read this and post some odds in the comments section just for kicks and giggles. Of the three, the one I could possibly see happening is the "scoring in the half" wager. I could see the Ravens leading 14-10 at the half and scoring 10 points in the second half and winning 24-10, thereby scoring more points in one half (14) than Denver managed in the game (10). That...could happen. The others I wouldn't touch.


There are still two baseball playoff races left to be decided and this weekend should offer some exciting action in both the National League and American League.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees are *this close* to hosting the wild card playoff game in the American League.

The Giants are in control in the N.L. West after a 9th inning win over the Diamondbacks last night. San Francisco (105-54) remains two full games ahead of the Dodgers, who continue to win but look destined to host the wild card game despite their current record of 103-56. L.A. finishes the season at home against Milwaukee while the Giants host San Diego this weekend.

The bad news for the Dodgers? They're going to face the reddest-of-red-hot Cardinals, who have won 18 of 19 games, in the one-game wild card game. All one-hundred-and-something-wins could be a waste for L.A. if they can't win one nine-inning baseball game. But the good news is they'll be starting Max Scherzer in the wild card game. He's been outstanding since coming over from the Nationals at the trade deadline.

The American League wild card race is still very much up for grabs. The Yankees are in the driver's seat after last weekend's 3-game sweep at Fenway and winning two of three in Toronto this week.

New York (91-68) has a 96.68% chance of making the post-season but they'll need at least one win vs. Tampa Bay -- at Yankee Stadium -- this weekend to sew up their playoff spot. Boston and Seattle are next at 89-70 each. The Red Sox finish in Washington D.C. and Seattle hosts the Angels. Toronto (88-71) is still hanging on but it looks like they'd need a Justin Tucker-miracle to make it now. They'll host the Orioles this weekend to close out the season.

The Red Sox have to be the most frustrated of all the teams still vying for a wild card spot. They were swept in their own stadium last weekend by the Yankees with the playoffs virtually on the line, then came to Baltimore and lost two to the lowly Orioles. Dropping 5 of 6 games at a critical time will no doubt leave a bad taste in their mouth over the winter if they fail to make it. And they still have to beat a pesky Nationals team three times this weekend in order to guarantee themselves at least a tie and a one-game playoff for the additional wild card spot.


Bryson DeChambeau went from belting long drives at the Ryder Cup to belting long drives at.......the Professional Long Drive Championship. DeChambeau traveled to Mesquite, Nevada on Monday to tee it up with the longest hitters in the world and was able to navigate his way through the first couple of stages before making it to the Sweet 16 of the event on Thursday.

That he was able to work his way through the elimination rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday was impressive enough. He had just spent the better part of two weeks at Whistling Straits playing in the highest-pressure event of his life and then had to switch gears and start hitting 400 yard drives within a fairway grid that's roughly 55 yards wide. But to now make it to the last 16 guys standing, out of the 140 who started? That's pretty impressive.

I don't think Bryson can win the Long Drive title, but mostly because there are too many guys who only compete in those kinds of competitions and it's what they do best. DeChambeau might be the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, but on the Long Drive circuit, he's just another guy hitting the occasoinal 400+ yard drive.

But......I certainly think there's an argument that DeChambeau is a better driver of the golf ball than any of those guys on the Long Drive tour. Some of them will only hit 1 or 2 balls (out of 8) in the grid. Sure, those two might travel 425 yards each, but the six or seven they miss will be wildly off course. Snap hooks, massive wipe-blocks, poorly struck shots...most of their drives wouldn't actually be "playable" in real golf.

What I saw of Bryson in the Tuesday and Wednesday stages was impressive. He hit a lot of 380 or 390 yard drives, he smashed one 412 yards (on Tuesday) and, for the most part, drove the ball the same way he would in a TOUR event. He found the grid a lot. He hit the ball far a lot. He's become a great driver of the golf ball.

If he dials in his wedges the way he did at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot or at the 2021 Ryder Cup, Bryson can be a thoroughly dominant player on the PGA Tour. What's "thoroughly dominant"? I'd say it's 20 wins in five years, including four majors in that span. I do believe he's "that good" right now. If they would have played a stroke play event at Whistling Straits instead of the Ryder Cup, DeChambeau -- based on the way he drove the ball and wedged it in his three rounds -- would have won the tournament going away.

He's "odd", for sure, although the public does seem to be softening on him a bit. That he comes across as a mercurial personality isn't all that strange. Folks who knew him growing up and speak on the record say he was always a tad different than the rest of the kids, but not really in a "bad" way.

There's no doubt, though, that Bryson has found something in golf that not many others have been able to do. He can hit it long, longer and longest...and straight. At Whistling Straits, he hit a drive that was in the air for 8.854 seconds. Just for kicks, go to your phone's clock app and see what 8.854 seconds is like on the stopwatch. It's unreal that a golf ball can be in the air that long. And find the middle of the fairway, too.

If he ever gets his wedge game even close to as good as the rest of his golfing skill sets, watch out.


I wrote earlier this week about the Orioles and their need for pitching in 2022. In the projected starting rotation, there's John Means, for sure, and then a bunch of question marks. I'm sure guys like Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer and Zac Lowther will get the ball often in Sarasota next February and March, but there's no way at all of knowing if any of those three will be improved enough to start and stick with the O's throughout next season.

So how will the O's field a starting staff in 2022?

Here are five guys I think might fit the team's profile next season. Please note, I'm not advocating for their signings; I'm merely saying these five are the "kind" of pitcher the O's routinely sign in the off-season.

Mike Fiers (37 years old in '22, currently with Oakland) -- Fiers is currently not on the A's active roster while battling elbow problems, but the issue apparently won't require surgery. He's cheap, at just $3.5 million in '21. If no one takes a flyer on him in the off-season, I could see the O's sniffing around next February.

Ian Kennedy (37 in '22, currently with Philadelphia) -- He's morphed into a late-career closer for the Phillies but could possibly be intrigued by the O's waving a starter's role in his direction. Worst case, he tries to start and then moves back to the bullpen, although the Birds seem set on having Tyler Wells close for them in '22. Kennedy is also cheap, making just over $2 million this season.

Danny Duffy (33 in '22, currently with L.A. Dodgers) -- He was brought in when Kershaw was on the injured list throughout most of the summer. He showed up in L.A. with a bum elbow but the Dodgers thought he'd be OK by mid-August. Turns out he's not OK. He's currently way out of the O's price range at $15.5 million, but there's a chance no one's going to back up the Brinks truck for him this winter and maybe the O's could coax him into a one-year "show me" deal in the $10 million range. A lot depends on the severity of his injury. If he requires surgery, 2022 is probably "out" for him. He might even opt to retire.

Jordan Lyles (32 in '22, currently with Texas) -- Hasn't been all that great with the Rangers over the last two seasons and will likely be allowed to move on after the '21 campaign. Made $8 million in '20 and '21 (each year) but could be had for two years/$12 million if the O's are willing to guarantee him a multi-year deal. Certainly not the most attractive free agent pitcher on the market but he's the kind of guy the O's might be able to snag if no one else wants him.

Jose Quintana (33 in '22, currently with San Francisco) -- Like Ian Kennedy, he has started and worked out of the bullpen in '21. Might be the kind of guy the O's woo to town with the promise of a starter's role and if that fails, he can always move into the relief role. He's on $8 million this season and stands to make far less from someone next season.

So none of those guys are potential Cy Young Award winners, obviously. Is that what you're thinking? Duffy would be a possibility if not for the lingering issues about his elbow. Of the five, Lyles is the one guy who has pitched steadily throughout '21 and looks to still have something left, even if he's not going to remind anyone of Roger Clemens in his prime.

Yes, there are better free agent pitchers available this winter. Greinke, Stroman, Kershaw, Verlander -- all available to the highest bidder. But none of those guys would entertain pitching for the Orioles and the Birds wouldn't entertain the thought of forking over big bucks for any of them, either.

What the O's will do, of course, is try and sign the Jordan Lyles' and Jose Quintana's of the world and hope they catch lightning in a bottle at a good price.

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faith in sports


Today's edition of "Faith in Sports" features veteran baseball player Andrew McCutchen, who came up through the Pirates organization and now plays for the Phillies. McCutchen talks openly about the disappointment he experienced in not making the Pirates when he thought he was ready and how his relationship with God helped him achieve his goals and eventually earn the N.L. MVP award.

As always, we appreciate the continued support of our friends at Freestate Electrical, proud sponsors of our weekly "Faith in Sports" segment.



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September 30, 2021
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pray for mia


By the time most of you read this today, the Calvert Hall community will have gathered at the football stadium for a critically important morning prayer service.

The teenage daughter of longtime CHC head athletic trainer, Chris Zinn, is fighting a rare form of cancer. The school is getting together to pray for her today at 8:00 am and I'd ask that all of you reading this take a minute out of your morning to recite the following prayer, please:

"Lord God, I ask today for your mercy and healing on Mia Zinn and all those afflicted with illness and disease. I ask for wisdom, skill, patience and determination for all medical professionals who humbly give their time and service to treating those with illness and disease. Please watch over them as they treat Mia Zinn and those who are sick or suffering. I'm coming to you, Lord, asking for your grace and mercy in returning Mia to her family as a healthy young woman. In your honor, Lord, we ask this of you today. Amen."

Prayer works.

If you would take a minute today to recite that prayer and ask for God's help, the entire Calvert Hall community would greatly appreciate it.

Additionally, a Go Fund Me page has been established to help the Zinn family take on the extraordinary financial burden that exists with cancer treatments like Mia is facing. If you have it in your heart to donate anything to help the Zinn family, please do. You can click here to reach the Go Fund Me page that's been established for Mia.

Thank you for those that pray and for those that donate. You're helping!


A friend of mine caught my interview with Stan Charles on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday (Stan was filling in for Glenn) and shot me a quick text.

"Hearing you talk about the Orioles you'd think they're going to win 90 games next year. They'll be lucky to win 70."

I was apparently a little too enthusiastic for my friend Steve's taste as I talked about the positive steps the club has made in 2021. Sure, there weren't many. But there were some, for sure.

70 wins in 2022 would be quite an improvement on its own, of course. I mean, they're a 53-win team this year (maybe), so getting to 70 would require nearly one more win per-week over the course of the 6-month season. That's not impossible, but also not a slam-dunk, either.

John Means will be back as a starter in '22, but what will the rest of the O's rotation look like in April?

I never gave Stan a number for next season, so I'm not sure where my friend Steve came up with the 90/70 thing, but I don't think it's a stretch to say the O's could win 70 games next season. 90? Well, that's not happening. But somewhere around 70-75 isn't out of the question.

The Orioles are in dire need of better pitching. Everyone knows that, including Brandon Hyde and Mike Elias. How they get it, though, is the challenge. As I said to Stan on Wednesday, one of the issues facing the O's in terms of free agent pitchers is very few legitimate guys want to come to Camden Yards and pitch, A) for a team that stinks, and B) in a ballpark that is notoriously hitter-friendly.

So what winds up happening is career-crisis pitchers like Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Wade Miley, et al take the Orioles money because they can't get a better deal from the Braves, Cubs, Astros, Phillies, etc. And then they wind up flatlining in Camden Yards and the O's are back to square one.

It's easy for me to say, "Get more pitching", but the reality is there just aren't that many quality arms willing to set up shop in Baltimore.

Now, there are some farm system arms who appear like they might be able to help, but we all know how that goes. If you bring up 5 of them, one will be good, one will be barely-acceptable and the other three will get knocked around and look lost at the big league level. That's not necessarily a great recipe for improving your pitching staff.

As we've said here before, the O's have at least four legitimate Major League pieces moving forward; Mullins, Mountcastle, Mancini and Hays. You can lock those four in for next season and they're going to be productive contributors.

If Santander stays healthy, he can definitely help. He's hot and cold at the plate, but his power numbers are decent enough. He just needs to get better, which usually means "he needs to play more."

I'm not sure where Ramon Urias should play full-time, but his bat was more-than-acceptable in his half-a-season with the Birds in 2021. He wound up hitting .279/.361/.412 and had 7 HR and 38 RBI in 85 games. Stretch out those numbers over 150 games and you have a competent player.

Urias floated mostly between shortstop (48 games) and second base (32 games) in '21. He did make 12 errors in those 80 games, which won't remind anyone of Belanger and Grich, but he's not going to get worse with the glove moving forward. Give the guy one position (personally, I like him better at 2B) and let him roll. By the way, oddly enough, Urias played 10 games at third base in '21 and didn't make a single error. So there's that.

I think it's safe to say Adley Rutschman is coming north with the ballclub next spring...at some point. If the Orioles want to play that silly "service time" game and keep him out until late May they can do that, but that might not necessarily be the best way to kick-off their relationship with the future star of the franchise. Either way, though, it's cool. Rutschman either makes the club out of spring training or he winds up here at the 40 game mark.

I know the Birds need pitching. But I think their offense will hold its own next year.

Now, about the fan base. I realize no one's going to the games this year, but I still think a lot of that is a Covid-related issue. I probably sound like I work for the team, right? But remember, they didn't even sell half the stadium capacity until June this year.

I'm not saying folks are going to go back in droves next season. The home opener will be sold out and then the following game will be 11,944, like always. But I suspect if they're competitive early on and Rutschman comes in by late May, people will start wandering back in to Camden Yards. I think they can average 18,000 per-game next season, which is a far cry from the 25,000 they were averaging six years ago, but it's a start in the right direction.

You might have heard by now that Brandon Hyde's 4th year was exercised last off-season and he'll return to manage the club in '22. I don't have a problem with that decision at all. I will say about Hyde what I've been saying for a year now: I have no idea if he's a good manager.

Hyde's never had any real players to work with until this season. Let's see how he does next year before we decide to keep him or boot him for the next (anticpated) phase of the rebuild.

The only other thing still looming is the ownership situation. There's no telling at all what's going to happen there once Peter passes away. I don't see the team leaving Baltimore, but I'm not 100% sure the Angelos family will continue to own the club once Peter is gone. It might take a year to put the sale of the team together and finalize everything, but I suspect there will be a new ownership group in place at some point before 2025.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Adam Jones and Cal Ripken Jr. both involved in some capacity when/if a new ownership-management group is put together. I'll just say that and let it linger...


The U.S. soccer team distributed some unsettling news on Wednesday, announcing that Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna -- the team's first and second best offensive players, arguably -- will not be available for the next three-game cycle of World Cup qualifying games. Both players suffered injuries in the September 3-game cycle and have not played since.

The U.S. men's soccer team will miss its top offensive player next month, as Christian Pulisic will miss three games due to injury.

That bad news was offset by a sliver of good news, as U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter announced he has reinstated midfielder Weston McKennie after his 2-game suspension for violating team rules in September. McKennie did not play in the 1-1 tie against Canada or the 4-1 win over Honduras and returned to his German team, where he has remained until getting the call-up from Berhalter this week.

The loss of Pulisic and Reyna might be tempered by the fact the Americans will play two of the next three at home, starting with Jamaica in Austin, Texas on October 7. They'll travel to Panama on October 10, then return home to face Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio on October 13.

The away game at Panama will not include Tim Ream, Zack Steffen or Antonee Robinson. All three of them play for U.K. based teams and Panama is a "red-list" country which means anyone entering the U.K. from Panama must self-quarantine for at least 10 days.

Among those missing from the roster for the October cycle was forward Josh Sargent, who struggled in the September slate of games. He was effectively replaced by veteran Gyasi Zardes, who was unavailable in September due to injury.

The Americans are hoping for at least 7 points (2 wins and a tie) in the next 3-game cycle. Anything less than that would probably create another stir around Berhalter, who was under enormous scrutiny after the first two games of the 14-game qualifying series before a 4-1 win at Honduras settled things down for him.

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SUCH
a sports fan

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


this and that


A few random thoughts and observations from around the world of sports before I get to my Week 4 NFL picks:

* The Ken Burns documentary series on the life and career of Muhammad Ali was outstanding, in keeping with all of Burns’ filmmaking. The interviews, the grainy footage from some of Ali’s early fights, the walk down memory lane of the trilogy of the Ali-Frazier bouts, and the jarring video of Ali, shaking from his Parkinson’s disease while holding the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996, made me realize again what an impact he had on the world.

* I was a young boy when Ali fought his most memorable foes. I can clearly remember him losing his title to Leon Spinks. I recall being filled with sadness when Larry Holmes had his way with him in Las Vegas. So it was enlightening to see the footage from his Olympic victory in Rome in 1960, and to realize just how dominant a force Ali was as a boxer when he was young and on the rise. He had a combination of speed and grace that was unique for a heavyweight.

* The series left me pondering some heavy questions about the relationships we create in our heads and hearts as fans, and what we demand and expect of our sporting heroes, and the terrible price that our more violent sports extract from those who play them. No matter what you thought about Muhammad Ali’s politics and religion, you had to feel compassion and sorrow for what boxing did to him as a human being.

* One other aspect of Ali’s life is worth remembering: He was an exceedingly generous man. There are numerous recollections of acts of random kindness throughout the documentary. He simply gave to people, whether it was his time or his money, without asking for explanation or demanding anything in return. It was just who he was. We can all learn a little something from his example.

* The whole thing is well worth watching if you’re a sports fan. Burns captures the intensity of the era and the sport of boxing in his usual outstanding way. The documentary is a knockout (I know, I know, too easy…).

*While we’re all still marveling at Justin Tucker’s heroics in Detroit last Sunday (and rightly so), and everyone is pointing to the 4th and 19 conversion from Lamar Jackson to Sammy Watkins (again, rightly so), I’d like to call to your attention the play before the 4th down. It’s one of those plays that’s easy to forget when we try and process the craziness that occurred, but it was important on several levels, and it showed Jackson’s value as an elusive young quarterback.

On 3rd and 13 from their own 22-yard-line, after a 1st down sack and a 2nd down incompletion, Jackson dropped back into the pocket and was almost immediately pressured. It looked for a moment as if he was about to be pulled to the ground by his shoulder pads. Yet somehow, some way, Jackson shook loose from the defender’s grasp, rolled out to his right, and ultimately ran out of bounds, stopping the clock.

As the play was unfolding, it looked certain that Jackson was going down. Had he be unable to shake loose, and had the Lions sacked him in bounds, the clock would have continued to run, and the whole crazy sequence that followed never happens. Dan Campbell never calls timeout (which gave the Ravens offense time to catch their collective breath), the clock ticks faster and faster to zero, and the Ravens have to attempt a desperation 4th down without the benefit of a huddle and a stopped clock.

That 4th and 19 will be long remembered around these parts, and with good reason. But don’t forget about what happened on 3rd and 13. Sure, it might have been a sack, but it could very well be the best sack that Lamar Jackson never takes in his career.

* I had the pleasure of watching the Ravens – Lions game at a friend’s house, enjoying wonderful food and conversation with about 20 other folks. And it occurred to me as I drove home that I hadn’t watched any football outside of my own house since 2019. That’s strange and kind of sad in its own way.

Football, more than any other game we watch, is meant to be enjoyed collectively. There’s the tailgating and the roar of the crowd and the laughing and joking and sharing the experience with friends and family that make it all so uniquely American.

As I drove home I thought about watching every Ravens game last year from my own couch. Remember Lamar to Hollywood on that Monday night in Cleveland? Or Lamar’s touchdown run in Nashville in the playoffs? Somehow, being in a group text as those plays happened just isn’t the same as being together and cheering wildly.

I assure you that I will never forget the moment that Justin Tucker’s kick bounced through those uprights. I will always remember jumping around with my friends in disbelief, laughing and hugging and shouting and basically losing our collective minds. It was pure joy. And it was so great to share that joy together.

When we talk about returning to normal (whatever that is), that is what is normal to me. Watching the Ravens with friends and family. We’re social creatures. It’s nice to be social again.

* I watched Cedric Mullins hit his 30th homerun last Friday night to become the first-ever Baltimore Oriole to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season. I’m glad I saw it.

* For all their woes (primarily pitching-related, obviously), it’s great to see Mullins break out into a bona-fide star this year. I believe he’s only going to get better. The foundation for the future is beginning to come into focus, and Mullins will be a big part of what the Orioles hopefully become.

It seems odd that I’ve watched so much of their games these past few weeks, but I think part of the reason is that guys like Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays are giving me hope. They’re legitimate major-leaguers. They deserve to be a part of a winning team, here in Baltimore.

Can we spend a little money on some pitching this offseason and see if that makes a difference?


Let’s make some picks. As always, I take 15 seconds (or less) and provide my less-than-expert analysis on every NFL game. Because honestly, aside from the Ravens, I don’t really care enough about the other teams to give them more than 15 seconds of thought.

LAST WEEK : 10-6

SEASON: 27-21

Jacksonville (0-3) at Cincinnati (2-1): Mad props to the Bengals for making me look smart and beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Can you believe Cincy is going to be 3-1? I can’t either, but here we are. Meanwhile, Urban Meyer’s people are reviewing the USC contract as we speak. Bengals 27, Jaguars 20

Baltimore (2-1) at Denver (3-0): I’m not exactly sure what the Ravens can do to improve upon all the drama we’ve seen in the first 3 weeks. How about Lamar hitting Hollywood Brown for a 99 yard TD, then, with 8 seconds left, Lamar goes 99 yards through the prevent defense of the Broncos to pull out a 1 point win? Or maybe Justin Tucker could just nail a 67-yard field goal at the gun. Whatever works, I say. Ravens 26, Broncos 25

Will Baker Mayfield and the Browns go into Minnesota and improve to 3-1 this Sunday?

Washington (1-2) at Atlanta (1-2): How long until the NoNames sign Cam Newton? What is taking them so long? Tyler Heineken is the 21st Century Stoney Case. Falcons 22, Whatevs 12

Houston (1-2) at Buffalo (2-1): I had to double-check the standings to make sure the Texans had actually won a game. God, they’re dreadful. Bills 44, Texans 13

Detroit (0-3) at Chicago (1-2): Out of sympathy, I’m going to root for the Lions the rest of the season. To celebrate his first win as an NFL Head Coach, Dan Campbell headbutts every Lions player until he passes out. Meanwhile, every Bears fan calls in to local sports talk radio on Monday and demands Mike Ditka return, or if he’s unavailable, at least Marc Trestman. Lions 23, Bears 9

Carolina (3-0) at Dallas (2-1): The magic ride officially ends for the Panthers. Meanwhile, I’m beginning to think the Cowboys might present a legitimate threat to the rest of the NFC. They’re going to cruise in that awful NFC East. Cowboys 33, Panthers 18

Indianapolis (0-3) at Miami (1-2): I remember as a child when the BALTIMORE COLTS would go to South Florida and get curb stomped by the Dolphins. Times change, results don’t. Dolphins 30, Colts 16

Cleveland (2-1) at Minnesota (1-2): Are any of the NFC North teams any good? I’m not really sure. As much as I dislike Kirk Cousins, I have no choice but to pull for him this week. I’m going to try a little reverse jinx here. Browns 31, Vikings 30

New York Giants (0-3) at New Orleans (2-1): I obviously have no idea how to correctly pick a Saints game, but I’ll keep trying. This should be easy, because the Giants stink on toast. Saints 34, Giants 17

Tennessee (2-1) at New York Jets (0-3): Derrick Henry rushes for 375 yards. C.J. Mosely retires at halftime. If they weren’t from North Jersey, I’d almost feel sorry for the Jets. Almost. Titans 41, Jets 6

Kansas City (1-2) at Philadelphia (1-2): How long do you think Eagles fans will boo Andy Reid for? 60 seconds? 60 minutes? 4 hours? Maybe they should just boo their own guys. They probably will when this one ends. Chiefs 38, Eagles 24

Arizona (3-0) at Los Angeles Rams (3-0): Everyone in St. Louis hates this game. Rams 36, Cardinals 32

Seattle (1-2) at San Francisco (2-1): The loser of this one will be in a very difficult spot in the NFC West. I think the Niners are a little bit better. 49ers 29, Seahawks 27

Pittsburgh (1-2) at Green Bay (2-1): Sometime back in the Pleistocene Era, these teams met in a Super Bowl. It’s almost hard to believe they both still employ the same starting quarterbacks as they did back then. Big Ben is almost fossilized at this point. It ain’t pretty any more in the Steel City (not that it ever was). Packers 33, Steelers 15

Tampa Bay (2-1) at New England (1-2): Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to re-introduce you to the Bill Belichick who coached the Cleveland Browns! Buccaneers 38, Patriots 12

Las Vegas (3-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (2-1): One of the more entertaining storylines of this season will be watching how the Raiders squander a 3-0 start and miss the playoffs. Let the downward spiral begin! Chargers 30, Raiders 25

Have a great weekend and enjoy the games. And get together again with your football families.

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September 29, 2021
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#2592


ryder cup clean-up


I apologize for not including this in yesterday's edition of #DMD. I had it all but done and then, well...there's no reason to explain what happened because in the end it doesn't really matter.

Throughout the weekend, several of you here and via e-mail asked Ryder Cup-specific questions that I wanted to answer.

"The Stats Nerd" offers some great insight below on the events that transpired at Whistling Straits, in case you need more Ryder Cup fuel for your tank.

I'll just go ahead and answer these six questions that were thrown at me and then we'll put a bow on the stomping the Americans gave Rory & Company over the weekend.

D.J. asks: "Was Rory crying on TV as silly looking to you as it was to me?"

DF says: "I didn't find it silly in the least. I think it showed a raw, emotional side of a guy who knew the entire team was counting on him and his play was so inferior they benched him on Saturday morning and played far less capable players instead. One of the reasons why the Ryder Cup is so special to the 24 guys who play is because they almost never, ever get to play golf in a "team format" during the rest of the year. And a lot of those guys -- and Americans, too -- grew up playing team sports and enjoyed that aspect of athletics. So when they get to play within the framework of a team once every two years, they get reminded how special it is. And when they let their teammates down, it bothers them. As it should."


Sergio Garcia was a captain's pick by Europe's Padraig Harrington and turned in an outstanding performance in a losing cause at Whistling Straits.

Craig D. asks: "Did the European captain screw up by not asking for more than three captain's picks? It seems like that's how the U.S. won, because the six picks all played great."

DF says: "The easy answer, now that they lost 19-9, is "yes, Harrington screwed up." But they had a process they followed and they were trying to reward their players for playing more events on the European Tour instead of jumping all over the world and playing half the time in America in the months leading up to the Cup. I don't think Garcia, Poulter and Lowry were bad picks at all. Garcia played great, Lowry held his own, and Poulter was saddled with having to babysit McIlroy on Friday and Saturday. When he got to play his own ball on Sunday, he looked like the Poulter of old.

Would six picks have helped? Maybe. Weisberger made it on the final day of qualifying and bumped Justin Rose out in the process. Who would Europe have rather had in the trenches last weekend; Bernd Wiesberger or Justin Rose? We all know the answer to that one. Same goes for Francesco Molinari. He didn't play well enough to make the team outright, and with only three captain's picks, Padraig couldn't use one on him. So Molinari, who went 5-0-0 in 2018, didn't get to play in 2021. In the end, what really crushed the Europeans was the golf course, the set-up and the fact that 8 of the top 10 players in the world are from the United States and played on the team.

There were 79 par 5 holes played at Whistling Straits. The U.S. won 44 of them and Europe won 12. Therein lies the difference. Not all of it. But a lot of it. Europe got beat by better golfers who were a (much) better fit for Whistling Straits."


Butch asks: Watching the Ryder Cup matches on Saturday morning in the alternating shot format, I noticed that once on the green the partner's player is not helping read the putt(s). Only the player that is to make the next stroke (and his caddie) look over the putt.

It was the same on both teams - Is that a rule?

And, in that format - when DJ finishes the hole - who tees off next? Colin or DJ? Is that part of the alternate shot format - whomever takes the last putt on a hole - the partner MUST tee off on the next hole?"

DF says: "No, it's not a rule. In general, the players don't really know much about the putting styles of their playing partners. One guy -- DJ is an example of this -- might like to die in his mid-range (10-20 feet) putts while someone like Spieth has a more direct approach to his putts and doesn't mind trying to ram them in and take less break.

A player's caddie knows his style and knows how he likes to hit a putt. If DJ has a 15-footer, he and his caddie might read it two balls to the right while Spieth, because of his putting style, might say "it's a ball to the right". It's much more comfortable for a player to putt his way with the least amount of opinions involved as possible.

As for alternate shot -- or "foursomes" as it's called -- the players determine before the round who will tee off on the even holes and who will tee off on the odd holes and it stays that way throughout the 18 holes. It doesn't matter who putts out...if DJ plays the tee ball on the odd holes, he tees off on those no matter what happened on the previous green."


Trey asks: "A lot was made about the European Ryder Cup just wanting to win more than the Americans and I'm wondering if the U.S. team got tired of hearing that narrative and decided it was time to put up or shut up? Your thoughts?"

DF says: "I would disagree about the semantics of "wanting it more" but here's what I would say. And I don't think this is really all that debatable. I do think the Ryder Cup is more important to European golfers than American golfers. I'm not saying once they get on site -- no matter the year or venue -- that the Americans don't "want to win" because they definitely do. But I think Europe looks at the Ryder Cup much differently than we do here in the U.S. and, frankly, there's nothing really wrong with that.

We've always looked at the Ryder Cup as a cool bi-annual event where we show up and play to the best of our abilities. The Europeans look at it like an event that helps create their individual player legacies. No one in the U.S. -- but me, perhaps -- will remember that Boo Weekley was a member of the 2008 winning Ryder Cup team and beat some dude named Oliver Wilson in his Singles match. 93% of American golf fans don't even know what year Weekley made a Ryder Cup team, let alone that he played well in the 2008 event.

But if you ask European golf fans to play name recognition and say "Philip Walton", they'd all say, "He beat Jay Haas at Oak Hill in 1995 in the next-to-last Singles match to help us win the Ryder Cup on foreign soil."

There's the difference in the way Europeans look at the event and Americans look at it. That one Singles win defined Philip Walton's career in Ireland. Boo Weekley is just another journeyman pro golfer in the United States.

I don't think European golfers want to win more. But I do think they value the Ryder Cup differently than we do, for sure."

Editor's note: The Stats Nerd gives his own take on "wanting it more" below. I don't think we disagree on it. I think we just define it differently.


Dennis asks: "Hey Drew, a Ryder Cup question for your next Q&A. All of those vice captains and hangers-ons like Steph Curry and Michael Jordan. And the texts from Tiger Woods. Was that all necessary? Why so many vice captains and what, exactly, do they do? Thanks, Drew!"

DF says: "Based on the way they played, maybe the U.S. needs eight "assistant coaches" !! Sure, I get what you're saying. It did seem a bit overboard, but you have to remember two things. When you have 12 players, the lead guy -- the captain -- can't be everywhere during the two weeks of practice leading up to the event. So he brings in four or five guys and assigns each of them to watch and observe a few players. He can then get feedback from the assistant captain on pairing possibilities and other vital information. There's also the issue of grooming the next captain or two as well, so that's why you saw guys like Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson get tabbed as vice captains. They're potentially the next two guys to lead the U.S. team. I know it seems like a lot of guys just hanging around, but they really all do have a role within the administrative level of the team."


Patrick asks: "What did you make of the American team being under the influence of alcohol throughout their press conference on Sunday night? Not a good look for the kids watching at home, was it?"

DF says: "Well, I've read and heard a lot about that for the last two days and I think it was a bit overblown. The only two guys were had clearly been over-served by 7:45 pm were DJ and Xander and it wasn't like they were slurring their words or anything. And with all due respect to "kids watching", I'm not sure they could tell. My 14-year old son watched it with me and he didn't say, "Gee, Dad, looks like Dustin Johnson is hammered up there."

Now, could they have done it better/differently? Sure. That kind of thing probably should have been done right away. But there were fans still lingering around, emotions were high, and the players wanted the fans to celebrate with them. So in that regard, I understand the delay. And, again, I really don't think anyone up on the stage was blotto-drunk. They were feeling good, but no one said anything derogatory or completely out of line."

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nfl quick hits


We're three weeks into the NFL season and things are already starting to take shape, believe it or not.

Sure, it's likely someone's QB will get hurt in week 8 and their entire season will unravel, but that's not something we can predict right now. We just assume it will happen to one or two teams, unfortunately.

NFC East -- This division's over, pretty much. I mean, the Giants will win 4 games, max. Washington wins 7, max. Eagles? They might win 9 only because they play DC and NY twice each. But Dallas is your division winner going away.

Not another one of these...not again...please.

NFC South -- It's Tampa Bay's division, obviously, but the Saints *might* be on to something with Jameis Winston at the helm. We put *might* in asterisks for a reason, of course. Atlanta stinks and Carolina might be better than we thought but they're not going to threaten Tampa Bay.

NFC North -- Anyone who thought Aaron Rodgers didn't or doesn't care about winning in Green Bay didn't see his reaction when Mason Crosby hit the game-winning field goal at the buzzer on Sunday night. Green Bay might win more games than Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota combined. OK, maybe not. But it's still another yawner for the Packers, who will probably cruise to 13-4 before losing to a team they shouldn't lose to in the post-season.

NFC West -- Now this......this is a division worth following. The Rams are really good, the Cardinals might be really good and the 49'ers might also be really good. The Seahawks are now 1-2 and always capable of winning as well. I picked the Rams to go to the Super Bowl before the season started so I'm not changing my tune at this point. There's something going on out there in L.A., Matthew Stafford and all.

Watch out for them, they might be real: Of all the 1-2 teams thus far, the Vikings could be someone to watch. They get the Browns in Minnesota this Sunday. If they're legit, they'll figure out a way to beat Cleveland.

Don't worry about these guys, they're pretenders: It just doesn't seem like the Panthers (3-0) can possibly be a potential playoff team in the NFC. They did put a pretty good beating on the Saints in Charlotte, but let's see what they do this Sunday in Dallas. I think they get lit up.


AFC East -- Buffalo isn't on cruise control yet, but they're approaching 65 MPH and they're about to hit the "cruise" button on the steering column. The only team that could have potentially hung around in the division was Miami, but without Tua they have zero shot. They only had about a 30% shot with him...but without him, they're done. New England? Done. Jets? Completely done.

Sitting at 3-0, Derek Carr and the Raiders go to L.A. this Sunday night for a showdown with the Chargers.

AFC South -- Another division that's basically a snoozer. The Titans are better than everyone else. The Colts are OK if/when Wentz is healthy, but they're not going to beat Tennessee. Houston stinks. Jacksonville doesn't even stink yet. They have no smell at all they're so bad.

AFC West -- Ohhhh, the times might be a changin' out West. OK, so we're not ready to pronounce the Chiefs dead just yet, but they're not looking like the 2019 and 2020 edition of the Chiefs at this point. That defense...yikes it's bad. The Chargers could be really good, as we've been suggesting here at #DMD, but they don't have the pedigree of Kansas City when it comes to big games in December and January. Las Vegas? Are they legit? We'll find out this weekend when they're in Los Angeles to take on Justin Herbert and Company. And let's not forget the 3-0 Broncos, who are likely going to get the Cleat of Reality from the Ravens this Sunday. A Denver win, though, and suddenly they're walking around like they're King Tut.

AFC North -- Everything in this division depends on Lamar. If he stays upright and healthy for 17 weeks, the Ravens win the division. But if he misses 3 or 4 games for some reason, Cleveland might sniff around. As it is, the Browns might be tough. Their pass rush could give Baltimore fits. The Bengals are going to wind up being better than Pittsburgh. Whether Cincy can hang with Cleveland and Baltimore is a different story. The Steelers are like a horse that led the race for 3/4 of a mile and then stopped running. They're being "eased" at this point.

Watch out for them, they might be real: They're in a tough division, but the Raiders could be a surprise in '21. If they get a healthy running game, that offense could be a handful.

Don't worry about these guys, they're pretenders: I hate to pile on, but it's over for the Steelers. Big Ben is washed up. Their defense is suspect. They're a 7 win team, max. Buh-bye...

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


My family and I were out of town visiting my daughter at college this past weekend so I didn't get to watch much football.

I didn’t see a whole lot of The Ryder Cup either, with the exception of some highlights. But it’s clear the US team played much better and dominated the competition from start to finish. But the narratives and hot takes leading up to the competition were positively exhausting.

I realize that columnists need to write a column and TV analysts need to fill their segments but I would love for one of these people to try and be honest and tell us what is going on….there’s a lot of variance in any match, session or full Ryder Cup. But if you put a gun to my head and ask me to give you a hot take here it is:

The matches were super close on paper in most of the last 25-30 years. In fact, in hindsight the Euros should have been a favorite in several of these matches. The US team wasn’t the favorite most here in the States think they were.

One person who did try to explain the recent European dominance in terms of variance is Patrick Cantlay (this is in response to a question about that dominance over the last 25 years or so):

Patrick Cantlay provided an interesting answer to the question -- before the Ryder Cup -- that centered on the European team's recent dominance.

"So, I've read a few gin books. Let's see if I get it right. If you play enough gin hands, a 1-or 2-percent difference in skill translates to almost an assured win over many, many, many hands of gin."

"But you could have a big difference between somebody, maybe a 60-to 40-percent skill level difference, and gin is still chancy enough to where you could play 10 hands and lose six or seven of the hands than someone that's much worse than you skill-wise."

"Really there's only two – these matches are only played every two years, and golf is very chancy. So would it surprise you if the U.S. went on a similar run to what Europe has been on for the next 20 years? Wouldn't surprise me. You go to Vegas and you play roulette and the chances are 50/50, but skewed toward the house a little, it could hit red six times in a row, but that's not abnormal. You flip a quarter it would be weird if the quarter flipped tails, heads, tails heads, tails, heads. Then you would think something trippy was going on."

"I try to take a very long-term view on things like that. Who knows? The captains are different every year. The players are different every year. The venues are different every year. The weather is different every year."

"You're really going to ask a question like that and think you're going to get the right answer? I don't have the answers to that. This is my first one."

This is a great response from Patrick. Of course, the social media mobs roasted him for his response. But from my perspective he is absolutely right. I may have phrased it a little differently as variance rather than “chancy” but the message would be more or less the same. This is NOT to say that the reason the Euros won is because of LUCK. Luck is a component of variance but not all variance is because of luck.

But the social media responses show the lack of understanding of basic statistics in society. You may recall after the 2016 Presidential election there was a lot of hand wringing and navel gazing about polls and predictions. The winner of that election was given a 10-25% chance of victory depending on who’s model one referenced. When he ended up winning the collective response was more or less “YOU WERE WRONG AND ARE A VERY BAD PERSON” (I may have added that last part). But inherent in any statistical model or projection is that there are a range of possible outcomes...there always are.

If you walk across the street there are a range of possible outcomes. In that case, the outcomes are generally that you make it across the street-GOOD! or you get hit by a car-VERY BAD! But there is a range nonetheless. The street crosser and the driver generally have incentive to achieve the GOOD outcome so they do all they can to avoid the BAD result. But that doesn’t mean that the BAD outcome isn’t part of the range of possible outcomes.

So what does this have to do with what Patrick said you ask? Well he spells it out. Even if one team is a favorite, the other team has a chance. We can quibble over what that percentage chance is but it exists nonetheless. Cantlay uses the example of a 60/40 favorite but I suspect many of the matches have been much closer to 50/50. If we assume that the matches are close to a coin flip each time, variance will be a huge part of the results. The difference in scoring average per round between 1st and 66th is roughly 1.5 shots. Over a 4 round tournament that is a HUGE 6 shot difference. But over a single round 1.5 shots isn’t a lot.

As I said, variance does not mean luck. Sure luck, or rub of the green in golf parlance, is part of variance. Your ball hits a soft spot in the green and sucks back off the green 30 yards into the fairway. Your opponent’s perfect drive ends up in an old divot. The wind gusts unexpectedly just as you strike your ball and it drifts into a bunker. Happens in every round you play. Sometimes it favors you and other times you are cursing the golf gods.

But there are other types of variance that have more impact on a round of golf. Your opponent plays the round of his life and beats you. You sleep poorly or wake up with a stiff neck. Or most common of all even at the highest level, you simply don’t have your A game that round or that week.

We see these players and expect that they will just perform at their best during Ryder Cup week because it is a big event and we want them to play well. It doesn’t work that way. Golf is very hard, even at the peak of the game. The week before the Ryder Cup, Jon Rahm missed the cut by 2 at a third rate PGA tour event in Napa. Inarguably the best player in the world trunk-slammed seven days before the first ball in the air at The Ryder Cup. Then he was a beast the first 2 days of the Ryder Cup. Who knows why?

Now as the sample size gets larger the expectation is that the better team will prevail long term. But even so, if we believe one team is a 55% favorite that inherently means the other team will win 45/100 matches. Not exactly a pushover.

Having said all of this, if you had asked me in 1995 if I thought the Euros would win 9 of the next 12 Cups I would have laughed at you. “Not a chance” I would have said. “Tiger and Phil are coming” I would have reminded you. And yet...here we are. In hindsight, I would offer that 5 of those 12 matches were 14.5-13.5 affairs. Hardly dominating efforts, though wins all the same. There were probably less than 10 shots in those Cups that separated winner from loser.

So back to Cantlay’s response, do I expect the US to go on a similar run over the next 20 years? I doubt it even though I think the US team is set up to be stronger than it’s ever been (at least in the immediate future). But if I write a column like this in 2041 and the US has won, say, 8 of the last 10 Cups I wouldn’t be shocked. Pit two teams close in skill, throw in a little variance over a single weekend and who knows what might happen.


Following were the most overused hot takes and narratives for why the Euros won for all those years according to the analysts and columnists:

They Wanted It More - These are collectively 24 of the best 50 or 60 players in the world. They have gotten that way through skill development, practice, smarts, hard work, etc. Do we really think they don’t “want it”? Laughable.

They Play more Foursomes (alt shot) in Europe - Last I checked it’s still golf even if the format is different. You hit your ball and go find it and then hit it again. This is not rocket science. If Drew and I go play foursomes every day together for a year and then play Morikawa and Bryson in a foursomes match, guess who is going to win (hint: not the 2 guys that have “played more foursomes”). Another dumb one.

They Have a Better Process - I think the captain and the processes used for selection are highly overrated. These guys are pros. They all know and play with each other week after week. There may be some meshing of personalities that the captain can help with. But I generally think this stuff is WAY overthought.

They Have More Fun - This one certainly “seems” true. But they don’t win because they have more fun. They have more fun because they win. Chicken and egg thing. Installing a ping pong table is fine but I don’t need to hear another story about how this brought everyone together and let the players have more fun.


Lastly, I’m thinking of doing a periodic check in with a couple of tour players to assess why they are doing well or poorly, what they are working on, etc. My thought is to take a top tier player (say Bryson), a journeymen tour player (perhaps local boy Denny McCarthy) and a fledgling Korn Ferry graduate (unknown player) and following their results, perhaps monthly. I will point out, based on statistics and analytical measures, where I think their weaknesses are holding them back or what they are doing well to ascend. Feel free to comment on what you would like to see below.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


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


americans abroad


Last week brought another packed schedule for Americans in European leagues, with many getting a double header of league games between the week and weekend. All in all, fourteen different American players started games in the “big five” European leagues this week, with several others making big contributions in some of the mid-tier leagues.

Among the highlights this week were two young US national team players getting big tests against a couple of the best clubs in Europe. There was a promising performance from a US winger who is working his way back to top form and could be a key piece in October. A veteran US defender helped his team to a stunning upset over the reigning league champions and another key US starter continued a good string of performances.

Some injury concerns arose over the weekend with Tyler Adams a late scratch in RB Leipzig’s 6-0 win and Christian Pulisic still missing for Chelsea from his injury in Honduras. The US can hardly afford to lose either of these key players for October, especially with Gio Reyna nearly certain to still be out.

American Sergino Dest continues to see regular playing time for Barcelona and expects to play a key role for the U.S. in next month's next set of three World Cup qualifying games.

We’ll start this week out in Spain, where Sergino Dest has been on a good run of games for a weakened Barcelona team. The American full back started both the midweek 0-0 draw with Cadiz and Sunday’s 2-0 win over Levante at left back. Despite being played outside of his preferred right back position, Dest was a key player for Barcelona in each game, especially Sunday’s win.

He was one of the standout players in La Liga this weekend, providing a constant threat down the left wing and combining well with forward Memphis Depay to create chances for Barcelona. Dest made a nice pass to assist the second Barcelona goal early in the first half. He drew several fouls to set up dangerous free kicks and put in multiple accurate crosses. He had another nice moment late in the second half where he fought to win a ball at midfield, then dribbled past two defenders and took a decent shot from the top of the box that forced a save.

Dest has sometimes struggled to translate his club form with Barcelona to the US National team, especially when played on the left side. These performances are encouraging from a US perspective, as getting Dest to the top of his game could be a crucial factor for success in October.

Another American got a big test in Spain this week. California native Matthew Hoppe got the start at striker for Mallorca in a tough midweek game against league leaders Real Madrid. While the game did not go well for his team, Hoppe delivered a solid performance going up against some of the best defenders in the world. He showed good ability to come back for the ball and connect play with the midfielders. This was highlighted by his assist on the lone Mallorca goal in the 6-1 defeat. Hoppe received a pass with his back to the goal and provided a delicate one touch layoff to teammate Lee Kang-In, who did most of the hard work to bury a long range shot.

Hoppe did not get a ton of touches but he worked hard to move off the ball and to do his job in defense. He is clearly on an upward trajectory for his club and it seems likely that will translate to a US call up in October.

Another American in Spain who improved his stock this week was center back Matt Miazga. The veteran has quickly solidified a starting spot on his new team, Alaves and helped them keep a clean sheet for a huge upset win over reigning league champions Atletico Madrid. Miazga was solid in the back line and in the air as Alaves defended a fourth minute lead to win 1-0. Miazga has been just outside the National team picture the last few windows, but if Gregg Berhalter calls in an expanded squad for October Miazga has a good case to make for inclusion.

Over in France, Tim Weah started in each of two wins for Lille this week. The American attacker delivered his best performance of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Strasbourg. Lille has usually deployed Weah as a right wing or right outside midfielder, as he was in the midweek win over Reims, but on Saturday he was used as part of a striker pair alongside Canadian Jonathan David.

Weah seemed to thrive in this role, getting much more involved in the game than he has for most of the season. Midway through the first half Weah picked up an assist with a great hustle play to track down a long ball and out-fight the defender for the ball, which he then squared for David to finish. Early in the second half he got on the end of a thru ball into the box and cut back on the defender, drawing a foul for a penalty kick that put Lille up 2-0. He set up another good chance with a nice cross in the 70th minute. It was a breakout performance for Weah, and landed him in the Ligue 1 team of the week.

With Gio Reyna out injured and Pulisic’s status still in doubt, Weah could be a key player for the US in October. The three game window will require some rotation of players so Weah will be in line for some important minutes if he remains healthy.

In Italy, young midfielder Gianluca Busio had another strong week for Venezia. On Wednesday, Busio started against title contenders AC Milan in a tough 2-0 loss. Though Venezia was outmatched in the game, Busio held his composure under heavy pressure from a highly talented Milan team. Venezia was forced to defend for much of the game and Busio did a good job staying disciplined in his role. He delivered another solid performance on Monday to help his team earn a 1-1 draw with Torino. Busio has a good chance to get called back in for the US in October, especially if there are questions around Tyler Adams availability.

Finally, on Saturday in Germany, Joe Scally continued his impressive start to the season for Borussia Monchengladbach. The young full back started at right back against Borussia Dortmund and helped his team to an important 1-0 win. Scally got the better of his battle with Dortmund’s star Portuguese left back, Raphael Guerreiro. He also got forward to contribute in attack, hitting several nice through balls and drawing a foul that got Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud sent off and gave Gladbach the advantage. The 18 year old Scally has started the season strong and needs to get a call in to the US team in October. He has shown the versatility to play on the left and the right in a four or five back system. He should provide good cover for Sergino Dest and Antonee Robinson in the full back spots.

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Tuesday
September 28, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2591


ryder, ravens round up


Our resident Ravens columnist, John Darcey, does all of the heavy lifting on Sunday's improbable 19-17 win over the Lions in his weekly piece below.

He breaks down the good, bad and ugly in excellent fashion, so there really isn't much more to add to it from my perspective.

The only remark I have to make about the game is something that I notice over and over whenever I watch any sport, let alone football. The amount of luck and good fortune it takes to win a game is unreal. Things change with one play, one missed call, one botched opportunity or one wacky bounce of the ball.

I remember once -- and this is a lengthy trip down memory lane, trust me -- when an entire Blast season changed on one play.

It was January 29, 1984, the year we first acquired Stan Stamenkovic from the Memphis Americans. He was supposed to hand deliver a championship to us, except our record on that cold day in Pittsburgh was 13-11 at precisely the halfway point of the season. The media in town was starting to get antsy that perhaps "The Magician" didn't have his act together and Bernie Rodin, the team owner, was starting to spend a little more time around the team...if you know what I mean.

These two continue to lead a charmed life in Baltimore, one helping the other win games and keep pace in the AFC.

The game in Pittsburgh was a close one and we trailed 5-4 with less a minute left in the game. Heinz Wirtz had been inserted as our 6th attacker/goalkeeper as we desperately tried to tie it and send the contest to overtime. With 30 seconds remaining, a loose ball reached the corner and a Pittsburgh defensive player got to it first. Had he knocked the ball back to the goalkeeper there, the game would have probably ended. They would have chewed up 10 seconds, called time-out, then played the ball all the way down the field when the re-start occurred.

Instead, the Spirit player wanted a bit of glory for himself and tried to score into the empty net. The shot was true and rolled right towards the middle of the goal, but Wirtz sprinted all the way down the field and literally knocked the ball away when it was one foot from entering the net.

Moments later, Stamenkovic collected a pass from Wirtz and found Paul Kitson at the far post for the tying goal. In overtime, the same connection hit again, as Kitson tipped in the game-winner and we pulled off a miracle, posting a 6-5 victory.

From there, the Blast went 21-3 to end the season, finishing the campaign at 34-14 and running away with the division title. We then eliminated New York and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference playoffs and defeated St. Louis to win the title, 4-games-to-1.

Now, perhaps things would have still turned out the way they did even if Wirtz wouldn't have chased down that empty-net-goal-to-be. Maybe we lose that game to fall to 13-12 and still wind up at 34-14 or 33-15 somehow. Who knows?

But here's what I do know. If the Pittsburgh player would have knocked the ball back to his goalkeeper instead of trying to score a goal from 140 feet away, we probably lose that game. I know that for sure. And I also know that he didn't do that...and the ensuing chain of events led to an improbable win and a run to the MISL Championship.

You can call it whatever you want. Luck, good fortune, a favorable bounce of the ball, smart play, or a bit of all of that combined. Whatever it was, that moment, where we tied the game, changed the Blast's season.

I have gobs of other examples I could use, both from my own experience in golf, and from watching sports for the better part of the last 50 years. Luck plays a huge role in everything, sports and otherwise.

The Ravens got lucky on Sunday in Detroit. If you want to argue that with me, you can, but you're just denying the reality of it all. Everything that needed to go right for them in the final minute did -- plus some great "technical" football by Lamar and Tucker -- and they were able to parlay their good fortune into a miraculous win.

The Lions? Not so lucky. There's an old adage that says: you create your own luck.

I think that's true. But you create your own good and bad luck, I'd say. The Lions created their own on Sunday. They didn't get any good fortune when they needed it, but part of the reason why was on them.

I remember once, circa 2000 or so, I played an opponent in the Maryland Amateur golf tournament who had a far better record and pedigree than I possessed, yet I somehow squeaked out a narrow win over him in the match play portion of the event.

As we shook hands on the 18th hole, I said to him, "Great playing today. I led a charmed life out there. Every good break went my way. I was just a lot luckier than you were." My caddie lit me up while we ate lunch and waited for the afternoon match.

"Don't ever say you were lucky or had a charmed life," he said. "That's garbage. You beat that guy straight up fair and square."

I don't remember the exact details of the match, but I think he hit 12 or 13 greens and I hit 8 or 9. I made a 50-foot eagle putt on the 13th hole when my opponent was in tight for birdie, I chipped in from 10 yards off the green for a birdie of my own on the 16th hole, and I got up and down out of a greenside bunker on the 18th hole nursing a one-hole lead at the time. I didn't play very good golf that day, but I cobbled together a decent back nine and then luck sort of went my way on three key holes coming down the stretch.

I didn't see anything wrong at all with admitting luck was on my side. I had faced the other end of the spectrum on numerous previous occasions, where I thought I had outplayed my opponent but didn't get any lucky breaks, while he got a half dozen moments of good fortune sent his way.

The Ravens could easily be 0-3, 1-2, 2-1 or 3-0. You can make any kind of argument you want about those scenarios and I'd buy stock in any of them. The Raiders had lots of luck on that opening Monday night and the Ravens countered by piling up a cord of their own good luck against Kansas City and Detroit.

Would you rather have good luck -- or bad luck? That's always the question I ask people whenever they bristle at the notion that "luck" was involved.

I'd much prefer to have good luck. The Ravens, thus far, are enjoying a lot of their own good fortune. And that seems way better than suffering through bad luck, if you ask me.


You might have heard of Justin Tucker. He's the kicker for the Ravens. He hit a 66-yard field goal at the buzzer on Sunday in Detroit to give the Ravens a 19-17 win.

Even if you haven't heard of him, perhaps you like coffee?

If so, our friends from Royal Farms have quite the deal for you this Wednesday. You see, it's "National Coffee Day" on Wednesday, September 29 and the folks at Royal Farms make a great cup of coffee.

Editor's note: I'm not an expert on much. Some folks would say I'm not an expert on anything, although I'd say I'm an expert on the Masters and Bruce Springsteen. And I'm pretty close to an expert on coffee. I know when coffee is "great", "good" or "bad". And I can tell you, for certain, that Royal Farms makes great coffee.

Justin Tucker and the Ravens have been involved in a partnership for five years now. You might have seen the ads here at #DMD and on local television.

So this Wednesday, Royal Farms is celebrating Sunday's 66-yard record-setting field goal by offering you a cup of their great coffee for ----- you guessed it ------ 66 cents.

I don't know what's better: Tucker making a 66-yarder to win the game or Royal Farms selling their great coffee for 66 cents.

I'll be there on Wednesday to get mine!

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ryder cup grades and percentages


We'll put a bow on the 2020 (2021) Ryder Cup today with our grades for all 24 players plus we'll list the percentage chance that they'll make the 2023 Ryder Cup team for their respective countries. Note: The word "make" is important. The percentage listed is for an automatic spot on the team, not a captain's pick inclusion.

The U.S. romp over the weekend was equal parts great talent, outstanding pairings and a golf course that was totally suited for the long-hitting Americans and a terrible fit for the short-hitting Europeans.

It's completely fair and justified to do what Stricker did, which is to say, make the course play 7,500 yards, put most of the pins in the back of the greens to make the course play even longer, and then tuck a bunch of pins on the right side of the greens to counter the Europeans "draw bias" iron players. Make no mistake about it: Whistling Straits was the perfect golf course for the U.S. and one of the worst --- ever --- for Team Europe.

The captains will obviously be different in Italy in two years. The bet here is that either Tiger Woods or Zach Johnson gets the nod on the road. Woods' selection might depend on whether he comes back and plays on TOUR again. If he doesn't -- or can't -- the PGA of America might look at his captaincy as a way of getting him/keeping him back in the game. If Woods does come back to play, it would make sense to give Johnson the captain's role. He served as a vice-captain under Steve Stricker at Whistling Straits. The European captain is all but a done deal: Lee Westwood is likely the guy who will get the reins in Rome.

Team Europe grades and percentage of making the '23 team

Rory McIlroy (D-) -- It's hard to give him an "E" based on his spirited play in Sunday's singles and the raw, emotional interview after his win over Xander Schauffele. But there's no denying Rory's play on Friday and Saturday was lousy. He was a huge letdown for the European team. 80% chance he makes the '23 team.

Jon Rahm's magical U.S. Open win in June set the stage for even better play from him at Whistling Straits over the weekend.

Jon Rahm (A+) -- We're not even going to ding him for the loss to Scottie Scheffler because the American played incredible golf on the opening nine holes. Rahm was, in a word, sensational, over the three days at Whistling Straits. He's the #1 player in the world with a bullet right now. There's no weakness in his game. 100% chance he makes the '23 team.

Shane Lowry (C) -- Had a lot of fun but his play was unsteady. Seemed a bit overwhelmed by Cantlay's great play and enthusiasm and was boatraced in their Sunday's singles match. 20% chance he makes the '23 team.

Sergio Garcia (A) -- Turned in a string of virtuoso performances on Friday and Saturday before finally getting derailed by DeChambeau in the singles, but even in that match he still played spirited golf until the 16th hole. Embodies the spirit of the event and will no doubt be a captain at least once, maybe twice, when his career is complete. 20% chance he makes the team '23 team.

Viktor Hovland (C-) -- Certainly didn't look overmatched or out of his element but also didn't have his best golf with him in Wisconsin, either. Alternate shot was particularly a problem for him, something other European captains might have to look at in the future. 80% chance he makes the '23 team.

Paul Casey (E) -- If Harrington could have DFA'd him, he would have done it. A great player and all, but Casey had nothing for three straight days. Fought DJ hard in the singles but a final hole bogey doomed him. 40% chance he makes the '23 team.

Bernd Wiesberger (E) -- Another guy who would have been benched if not for the fact no one else was really playing worth a hoot. Had some good stretches of golf on Saturday, but looked like he was a bit overwhelmed most of the weekend. 20% chance he makes the '23 team.

Lee Westwood (D) -- His golf game is suffering but he has more heart than just about anyone on either Tour. The length of Whistling Straits got to him. If that was his final Cup as a player, he'll go down as one of Europe's all-time best. 5% chance he makes the '23 team.

Ian Poulter (C) -- Got saddled with Rory and his spotty play in two of the better ball matches and was never really a factor. Did put it all together to beat Finau in the singles on Sunday. Still a gritty competitor at age 45 and a future Cup captain for sure. 10% chance he makes the '23 team.

Tommy Fleetwood (D) -- Brought nothing, had nothing and showed nothing. It was a dismal three days for Fleetwood. 80% chance he makes the '23 team.

Tyrrell Hatton (C+) -- Got run out of the gym by red-hot Justin Thomas on Sunday, but his overall play on Friday and Saturday was better than most of the Europeans. He could be the Ian Poulter of the next ten years...a guy who doesn't play all that great in the "regular season" and then lights it up in the Ryder Cup. 60% chance he makes the '23 team.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (E) -- Looked like the student-manager that got inserted into the lineup because two of the back-ups tested positive for Covid-19 before the game. He was lost for all three days. Couldn't even snag a half-point from Daniel Berger in the final match when Berger was only half-trying for the last hour. 30% chance he makes the '23 team.



Team USA grades

Dustin Johnson (A+) -- Who woulda thunk it? The stoic, meandering Johnson was the only American to play all five matches and just the fourth player ever to go 5-0-0. His putter was cold throughout most of the '21 season, but it caught fire over the weekend. The only thing we didn't get out of him was a singles match with Rahm, which would have been epic. 80% chance he makes the '23 team.

Justin Thomas (B) -- Might have been bothered by the absence of his father (health reasons) but was a complete stud on Sunday in his singles win over Tyrrell Hatton. Tried to keep Spieth upright in the better ball and foursomes events, which wasn't the easiest of tasks. A total gamer. He's Patrick Reed without the cheating. 90% chance he makes the '23 team.

Ryder Cup rookie Collin Morikawa didn't lose once in four matches and looks like a mainstay in the event for the next two decades.

Brooks Koepka (B) -- Didn't drive it his best but was still a formidable foe and seemed to partner well with Berger despite the fact neither had their total-package game in Wisconsin. The on-mic argument with the rules official on Saturday was a terrible look for him. 60% chance he makes the '23 team.

Patrick Cantlay (A) -- What a two-month stretch he's produced, huh? Won the FedEx Cup and then turned in a magnificent debut performance in the Ryder Cup, teaming up with Schauffele to form the best American duo and then clobbered Lowry in the second match out on Sunday in the Singles. Has firmly established himself as a top worldwide player...now can he win a major next? 80% chance he makes the '23 team.

Jordan Spieth (C) -- Was probably the most "off" of any U.S. player but still mostly held his own, although his short putting woes on Saturday were a lowlight. Failing to beat a mostly-listless Fleetwood in the singles didn't really matter, but it ended his weekend on a sour note. 30% chance he makes the '23 team.

Bryson DeChambeau (A) -- His drive on the par 5 on Friday and the drive-and-eagle on the 1st hole on Sunday were the two biggest moments for the American team at Whistling Straits. The golf course fit him better than any American player and his wedge game -- often the weakest part of his arsenal -- was better than when he won the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. The pairing with Scheffler was magical and he rolled past Garcia in the Singles event. 95% chance he makes the '23 team.

Xander Schauffele (A-) -- Other than losing to an inspired McIlroy in Singles, "X" was nearly flawless for three days. Formed a lethal combination with Cantlay and will be naturally paired with him for years to come. Any question about his status as a top American player is now long gone after his performance at the Olympics and the Ryder Cup. 90% chance he makes the '23 team.

Tony Finau (B) -- Played better than any American in the Friday four-ball match and was, predictably, very solid off the tee. Had to lug Harris English around, which wasn't easy to do given his sporadic game. Got clobbered by red-hot-putting Poulter on Sunday but still fought gamely. 20% chance he makes the '23 team.

Scottie Scheffler (A) -- Turned out to be a monumental captain's pick, pairing with DeChambeau and then shredding Rahm in the Singles. Whether he makes the next Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team on points, he'll always be a darkhorse consideration for a captain's pick based on what happened at Whistling Straits. If he wins a tournament or two in '21-22, he could start to emerge as a top American performer. 30% chance he makes the '23 team.

Collin Morikawa (A) -- If winning the PGA and British Open didn't convince folks this kid is the real deal, then his stone-cold demeanor and out-of-this-world play at Whistling Straits confirmed it. Tee ball and iron game are as good as anyone alive. When his putter behaves he's one of the ten best players in the world. 90% chance he makes the '23 team.

Daniel Berger (B) -- Didn't play great, but acquitted himself well in his Ryder Cup debut, forging a nice partnership with ex-college teammate Koepka and then turning back Matt Fitzpatrick in Singles. Certainly didn't play like a rookie. Deserved his captain's pick when all was said and done. 20% chance he makes the '23 team.

Harris English (C) -- Couldn't ride the late-season hot streak into Whistling Straits and was one of the few Americans who didn't hit on all cylinders. Made a mess of the final hole in Singles to lose to Westwood, but the outcome had long since been decided. 20% chance he makes the '23 team.

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JOHN DARCEY
on the Ravens and the NFL


Baltimore native John Darcey follows the Ravens on a daily basis and vows to "tell it like it is" here at #DMD in 2021-2022.


Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. The Ravens were certainly that on Sunday afternoon as they escaped Detroit with a win. And I don’t know about you, but I definitely didn’t walk away from the game all that happy.

Sure, EVERYONE on social media blew up about the NFL record 66-yard field goal that Justin Tucker made to win the game. And rightfully so. It was an amazing kick. But the game should have never come down to that.

The Ravens are a far more superior team than the Lions. They are more experienced, have better personnel and proved just last week that they can go out and beat the best teams in the NFL. There is no reason this game should have gone down to the wire with the Ravens winning on a miracle kick.

Justin Tucker and Sam Koch have done some great stuff in Baltimore but nothing tops what the two combined to do in Detroit last Sunday.

The game should have, and could have, been over by halftime. Instead, it reminded me of a typical Ravens game, circa 2014. You know the ones, where the Ravens would be favorites over a lesser team, only to have the Ravens play down to their competition and barely squeak the game out or worse, lose!

That is something the Ravens have actually gotten better at over the past two years, especially since Lamar has taken over. John Harbaugh's team is now winning games they should win. I am not quite sure what happened on Sunday. Maybe they were looking past the Lions, still hungover from beating the Chiefs, or whatever. But the bottom line is the Ravens didn’t deserve to win that game in Detroit.

The offense was sluggish and just didn’t seem to be on the same level as it was against the Chiefs. Defensively, maybe we are just spoiled here in Baltimore, but I have not been overly impressed in the first three weeks. Even with four guys out yesterday, you would think, against the Lions, the front seven could generate a pass rush, but that was not the case.

Our linebackers don’t seem to be able to tackle or cover anyone. While the season is young, there are still a ton of questions about this Ravens team going forward.

I am not saying all of this to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ and I do realize they still won the game. But when you are supposed to be an upper echelon team, not just in the AFC, but in the NFL, these are the games that should be blow outs. I am looking at the bigger picture here in what this team projects to be down the road. Yes, the Chiefs and Bucs both lost Sunday, but they lost to other quality teams, not a team who is rebuilding.

And let’s be real, if the Lions had a real QB or a coach who doesn’t make bone headed decisions, the Ravens are sitting at 1-2. And the flip side to that is the Ravens overcame a late go-ahead-score and still pulled out the win, and that is what really good teams do. Or maybe sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.


Other thoughts from the game…

* Let’s get this out of the way first. There should have been a delay of game penalty called against the Ravens on the final drive where Lamar threw the ball out of bounds prior to the kick. While the play clock on TV is not official, once the clock hit zero you could count at least two seconds before the ball was snapped. That should have been a five-yard penalty, which pretty much would have sealed the game. Again, sometimes it is better to be lucky.

* I honestly forgot that Tyus Bowser was even on the team. I remembered the Ravens re-signed him in March, but outside of that, I literally can’t recall hearing his name at all in the preseason or the first two games. Then when you finally hear his name it’s because he dropped an easy walk in pick six.

* I thought the defense was going to be the strength of this team? Now I get they were missing four players, but this defense been disappointing. As well as I thought they played against KC the week before, they still gave up 28 points. Does anyone have real faith in this defense so far?

* Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison...I really hope they aren’t preseason stars and just average Joe’s during the season. So far, it looks that way to me.

* Loved the two sacks from the secondary, by Clark and Young. Hey, the front seven can’t do it, why not try the guys on the back end?

* It seemed like we saw the Lamar from the Vegas game in the pocket Sunday as opposed to the Lamar in the pocket from the Chiefs game. In Vegas and in Detroit, it seemed as if he was reluctant to run when no one was open and the offense as a whole seemed sluggish. Against KC, he would take off and that makes the offense so much better. You could clearly tell the difference from last week.

* It was nice to see Devin Duverney and James Proche get involved in the offense. Proche has a nice catch on the sidelines and Duverney with a TD grab in the back of the endzone. While he was wide open, he still had to go up and get it and did a nice job of making sure both feet got down. While this may seem like nothing, notice how many veteran receivers fail to do that. It was nice to see a second year guy have the presence to do it.

* I'm curious to see how Hollywood Brown bounces back from that game in Detroit. First, the ball he dropped in the end zone was possibly the best pass I have ever seen Lamar make. He put it between two defenders and in a spot where only Brown could get it and #5 could not reel it in. The second one, a deep shot where Brown was wide open and had an easy TD, would have made the game 17-0 at half with the Ravens getting the ball back to start the third quarter. They could have easily put the game away there. The third drop, again, was pretty routine. I don’t remember Lamar targeting him at all in the second half, so it will be interesting to see what happens next week in Denver.

* What happened to the run game in Detroit? Did Greg Roman just decide that it wasn’t a useful part of the offense anymore? The running backs combined for just 15 rushing attempts. Why?!? Where was the RPO that was so effective the week before? This is what I was talking about with Roman trying to get too cute instead of sticking to what works.

* Last week, Roman made the comment that in the NFL these days, it is more running back by committee (RBBC). And I totally get that for the most part. No back is going to consistently rush the ball 25 times a game. But come on, Ty’Son Williams only gets five carries this week? He has been your best RB the past two weeks and you only call his number five times? Also, I have seen enough of Devonta Freeman and why do they keep running him to the outside when he is a north/south runner?

* The third down play calling was horrible on Sunday. Too many times they played conservatively and settled for a field goal or punt. It was like Roman used all of his play calling abilities in the KC game and had no clue how to call this one.

* Kudos to Devin Duverney after he fumbled on the punt return. Once the penalty against the Lions wiped out the fumble and they kicked again, he did not just call for a fair catch. He had enough confidence in himself to try and return the redo. Many times, after those situations happen, the returner will just fair catch it and walk to the sidelines. Good on him for not letting that one play get in his head.

* Really wish John Harbaugh would hire someone who’s only job is to tell him when to challenge a play and when not too. The challenge flag he threw in the fourth quarter seemed like it was more out of desperation than the fact that it was a questionable call. It was clearly a catch. Not only was it a wasted challenge, it cost the Ravens a timeout, which they would have loved to have on that final drive. I would love to know Harbaugh’s win percentage in challenges throughout his career, because I don’t think it is very good.

* Why in the world did Dan Campbell call a timeout prior to the 4th and 19? Then he only rushed three and dropped eight, yet none of the eight were protecting the first down marker? Again, better to be lucky than good.

* Sammy Watkins should have watched tape on Mark Andrews getting out of bounds last week before the half against the KC. Would have liked to seen a better effort on the 4th and 19 play considering no one was within 5 yards of him when he made the catch.

On to next week…

The Ravens travel to the Mile High City and take on the undefeated Broncos. Not sure what to make of this game. Which Ravens team shows up? Mainly which offense shows up? The Broncos have been on a roll as well, but have started to feel the impact of the injury bug, losing players to the IR, including two more last Sunday in K.J. Hamler and Graham Galsnow. Let’s go with the more battle tested team to pull this out, but it's close. Ravens 19 - Broncos 16

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Monday
September 27, 2021
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#2590


a miracle and a blowout


There are teams that seem to figure out a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Routinely.

Our own beloved baseball team has been afflicted with that ailment this season, including a half dozen or so times since the All-Star break. The bullpen blows another 8th or 9th inning lead, the Birds lose, and some folks sigh and say, "Orioles are gonna Orioles."

The NFL has two of those teams. They're both perennial losers. They are, of course, the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions.

On opening Sunday three weeks ago, the Browns were poised to knock off the Kansas City Chiefs when Cleveland's punter inexplicably dropped the ball deep in his own territory and the resulting turnover led to a critical K.C. touchdown that proved to be the difference in the game.

"Browns are gonna Browns", people said.

Yesterday in Detroit, the Lions said to the Browns, "You think that's a bad way to lose? Here, hold our beers."

The Lions somehow coughed up a game they had all but won, allowing for an unthinkable 36 yard completion on 4th and 19 that put the Ravens near midfield and allowed for Justin Tucker's game-winning 66-yard field goal at the buzzer as John Harbaugh's team stole a 19-17 win.

Lions gonna Lions.

And the Ravens, who could easily be 0-3 or 3-0, settle in at 2-1 and have to feel good about pulling out a miracle win when it looked like a lost cause in the Motor City.

There wasn't much to like about Sunday's game, other than Lamar Jackson's play and the game-winning kick from Tucker. Hollywood Brown had a disastrous afternoon, dropping two sure-fire touchdowns, and the tackling by the Baltimore defense was abysmal, save for a decent performance by Calais Campbell.

If Jackson's receivers were competent on Sunday, he would have enjoyed one of his best days ever throwing the ball. That pass on 4th and 19, while strangely "allowed" by the Lions, was a touch of class. If Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger makes that throw, Cris Collinsworth screams into the mic, "And that's why (name) is going to the Hall of Fame someday!" It was a standard throw that was even more impressive given the moment and it showed the progress Lamar has made throwing the ball over the last few years.

Not bad for a running back, huh?

The only thing that counts, though, is the result. It's filed under the "win" category in the standings for the Ravens, despite the fact any real team in the NFL would have figured out a way to not the let Jackson complete a 4th and 19 pass for 36 yards. But the Lions, as we suspected before the game, aren't a "real team".

There were so many moving parts that nothing specific can be pointed to as the reason why the game was closer than it should have been or turned out the way it did. The officiating was scrutinzed heavily by the media, including a very rare public "dig" by Al Michaels, who said last night during the Packers-49'ers game, "And in Detroit today, a missed call by the officials on the game's final offensive play proved to be the difference..."

Editor's note: In last night's game between the Packers and 49'ers, a missed helmet-to-helmet call on the 49'ers in the 4th quarter prompted Michaels to say, "It's been a rought night here for the officials."

It's pretty rare the lead guy at NBC takes a swipe at the refs. I sense a mid-week memo or e-mail coming Al's way.

In the end, the Lions have no one to blame but themselves. Their fan base (insert joke here) was on fire after the game because of the missed delay of game penalty with 7 seconds left, but they should have been outraged more at their head coach and defensive players, both of whom stubbed their toe late in the contest.

On 4th and 19 with the game on the line, Detroit head coach Dan Campbell called time-out. He explained afterwards "we had a personnel issue that needed to be corrected" but game film review showed the same 11 players lining up for the 4th and 19 play after the time out as they had on the field prior to calling the time out. Either way, the time-out gave the Ravens time to catch their breath and draw up a downfield play, which worked to perfection when Lamar hit Sammy Watkins for the big 36 yard gain.

Why call time-out there and allow the Ravens, clearly on the ropes and in need of the perfect play, time to set something up? Even if Lamar and the offense somehow reeled off a 21 yard play there, that would have probably ended the game. The only thing they couldn't do was allow Baltimore to get around midfield, which, of course, they did.

Lions gonna Lions.

And what more can be said about Justin Tucker that hasn't already been said? He's not only the best kicker in the game's history, he's also the best Ravens player ever. Yes, I said it. I actually said that a year or two ago but it bears repeating now. He's "better" at kicking than Ray Lewis was at linebacker and Ed Reed was at safety. Justin Tucker is better at his craft than anyone else in Ravens history.

So the Ravens escaped with one of the more improbable wins you'll ever see. Whether they parlay that into a division title or better remains to be seen, but one win at the end of the year could be the difference between hosting a playoff game or starting on the road in January.

That's two improbable wins in a row -- and an improbable loss -- if you're counting at home. Nothing has been easy for the Ravens thus far in 2021, but it's nothing if not entertaining.

It wasn't pretty, as a lot of Ravens wins tend not to be. It was a scratch-and-claw affair with a team that really had no business being in the game. And while there might have been a call or two that didn't go favorably for both teams, the reality is the game came down to one play -- 4th and 19 -- and the Lions gave up 36 yards.

When the Ravens needed to make a play, they did. When Detroit was one stop away from a win, they couldn't do it. Those are the facts.

Yesterday's win was precisely how good teams manage to scrape together two or three wins a year and go from a team that probably deserved to finish 10-7 and instead finishes 12-5 or 13-4. A "bad" Ravens team would be 0-3 at this point. Alas, they're not 0-3 and, as the saying goes, they are what their record says they are.

The Ravens are 2-1 and can't really play all that much worse defensively than they've played in September. If you're looking for a silver lining, there it is.


Notice was officially served at Whistling Straits over the weekend: the tide has turned with the Ryder Cup. The American squad set a new scoring record with a resounding 19-9 thumping over a completely overmatched European team, including an 8-4 win in yesterday's singles matches.

It was so out of hand by mid-afternoon that Rory McIlroy's tearful interview after his win over Xander Schauffele was probably the highlight of the day. McIlroy wasn't crying because he was happy, mind you. He was in tears because of the importance of the Cup and the fact he and his eleven teammates had been put on blast by the Americans. It was only the 3rd time in the last 10 Ryder Cup competitions that the U.S. managed a victory.

But the 19-9 triumph was far more than just a "victory". It was a full-out throttling. You want a football comparison? A 19-9 Ryder Cup win -- considering you're talking about 24 of the world's best 40 players competing against one another -- is like a 54-10 Super Bowl victory. It just doesn't happen very often.

How exactly did it happen? Well, it all started on Friday when the U.S. started off with 3-1 wins in the foursomes and better ball events. That 6-2 margin put the Europeans on their heels and loosened the American squad. When they went out and scored a 3-1 win again on Saturday morning, it was all but over at that point. The more matches the U.S. won, the more confident they got. The more confident they got, the more risky golf they played. And the breaks always seemed to favor the American team.

They won because, for once, the U.S. players thoroughly out-putted their European counterparts. A decade or more ago, guys like Pouter, Westwood, McDowell, Rose, Kaymer and Stenson seemingly never missed a crucial putt. This time around, it was Dustin Johnson with the magic putter, along with guys like Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay. Whenever the Americans needed to make a putt, they did.

And all that speculation before the Cup about why Europe seems to care more and why the Americans can't make the big putt when it mattered? Both of those went out the door rather quickly last Friday. Justin Thomas danced around more than Ray Lewis and Patrick Cantlay barked at the crowd all the weekend, rallying them into a frenzy every time he rolled a ball in the hole.

Johnson finished the Cup going 5-0-0, a remarkable feat for the oldest American player (37). Morikawa, DeChambeau and Cantlay never lost, and rookie Scottie Scheffler capped off an impressive debut at the Ryder Cup by drilling Jon Rahm 4&3 in Sunday's singles event.

The only two American players who had spotty performances on Friday and Saturday played well on Sunday, as Jordan Spieth halved his match with Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel Berger beat Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, who had a dismal three days overall.

The U.S. win was so well received that DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka actually shook hands and did the man-hug thing not once, but twice. That tells you all you need to know about the team atmosphere at Whistling Straits and the job captain Steve Stricker did in bringing all 12 guys together for the better of the team.

Yes, the tide has indeed changed as far as the Ryder Cup goes. The Europeans are getting older, the Americans are getting younger. The U.S. team hasn't won on foreign soil since 1993 at The Belfry. That will likely change in two years when Italy plays host to the competition. The Americans are about to go on a winning rampage with their collection of young talent. You can feel that coming.

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a one minute trip around the nfl


Here's what happened on Sunday in the NFL.

Bills 43 - DC'ers 21 -- Looks like the Bills have recovered from that opening Sunday loss to the Steelers. D.C. is in trouble. Looking at 7 wins max.

Browns 26 - Bears 6 -- Chicago had 68 yards of passing and gave up 67 yards of sack yardage. Flyers fans don't need to rush for their calculators. That's one total yard of passing offense for the Bears. Cleveland improves to 2-1.

After losing their opener to Arizona, Derrick Henry and the Titans have now won two straight.

Titans 26 - Colts 15 -- Derrick Henry ran for 113 yards. The Colts still haven't won a game. As a Baltimore native, I find that to be particularly thrilling.

Chargers 30 - Chiefs 24 -- Kansas City might be in trouble. The Chargers might be for real. I wouldn't mind seeing Kansas City stink it up this season. I assume you wouldn't mind, either.

Saints 28 - Patriots 13 -- Just what Bill Belichick needed; getting punched in the mouth by Jameis Winston one week before Tom Brady returns to Foxborough and throws five TD's in a 38-17 romp.

Falcons 17 - Giants 14 -- Atlanta wins a football game. I guess it still counts even though it took place against the Giants, right?

Bengals 24 - Steelers 10 -- Big Ben is teeing off on the 18th hole of his career. It's just about over. When you lose to Joe Burrow in your own stadium, it's time to start packing up.

Cardinals 31 - Jaguars 19 -- Poor Trevor Lawrence. He better get used to losing. Under normal circumstances he'd call his old college coach and ask him how he should handle losing, but Dabo has problems of his own in 2021.

Broncos 26 - Jets 0 -- Are the Broncos that good or are the Jets that bad? We're guessing the Jets are that bad. We'll find out more about the Broncos next Sunday when they host Justin Tucker.

Raiders 31 - Dolphins 28 OT -- This one was weird, as both teams kicked one field goal in overtime before the Raiders hit the game-winner at the buzzer. Las Vegas also kept me from a perfect 5-for-5 day in the "Beach House" quest, those rat finks.

Rams 34 - Buccaneers 24 -- Matthew Stafford outdueled Tom Brady? Well, Brady is 53 years old or something like that. The Rams are definitely for real, though. So too is Tampa Bay.

Vikings 30 - Seahawks 24 -- Seattle falls to 1-2 and now trails both Los Angeles and Arizona in the NFC West. I don't think Minnesota's any good, but they did manage to finally get a win on Sunday.

Packers 30 - 49er's 28 -- An unreal finish. The 49'ers actually scored too early at the end of the game. They gave Aaron Rodgers 37 seconds and he promptly took Green Bay down the field to set up a 51-yard field goal by Mason Crosby to win it. Those kickers, man. Give 'em a raise.

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#dmd comments








Ray     October 25
Lamar Jackson is now, and will always be [until age catches up with him in a few NFL years], what he was in high school, college, and his first seasons in the NFL, an electrifying runner whose exploits made his teams sometimes competitive. But he won’t ever be dominant against the best of the best, just as his teams have never been in the past. The 2021 Ravens could be, benefiting by good bounces, 6 and 1. They could also be 2 and 5. If the Ravens drop a quarter or a third of a billion dollars on Jackson, the agony by Weeks 6 of the next decade’s NFL seasons at M & T Bank Stadium will be grim. Recent writing here speculated on whether the Ravens could win 16 in a row. Maybe the next piece will focus on where the team can qualify for the playoffs.

MFC     October 24
Talk about a bounce back birdie after a bogey. Epic week! 5-0



Our mythical $1,000 bet.

YTD ($!500)

Win 5+ $5,000

Lose 0

Week total +$5,000

YTD Total +$3,500



Fantastic week. 50 games to go plenty of time to get that down payment and measure drapes.

RC     October 24
LMAOOOOO!! DF went 5-0!!!

MFC     October 24
"Fairly comfortable", just had the teams backwards.



Random thoughts on a beautiful yet ugly Sunday. You're never as good as you think when you win and never as bad as you think when you lose. Such as shame to throw the clunker in, at home, going into a bye week. Talk about lost opportunity. But if truth be told we have been a "lucky" team this year. It just ran out. Detroit, Indy, KC were all " lucky to win". You need some luck but that can't be the strategy.



Defense: Must have read and believed their press clippings this week. They forgot LA came in after a tough game, traveled west to east, got in on Saturday night and played a 1 PM game. That's tough to overcome and they didn't put up a fight.

Averitt to coach, " they're picking on me". Coach Harbs to Averitt, " no stuff maybe because you can't cover or tackle". Like the kid in bball that says he' open, yes you are there's a reason!.

The backs can't cover nor do they tackle. That's been evident all year.

Maybe taking the photo isn't a good idea when you've been run out most of the day. Not a good look. Did you pose after the game???

You had the momentum after taking the lead then coughed it up in 3 plays and then all hell breaks loose.



Offense: O-line is hurting, Captain Obvious. Lamar tried to put on supermans cape but wasn't allowed to get going, hurried and sacked all day.

Our RB's are really slow hitting the hole.



Coach: Why waste a time-out if you're punting? Another 5, big deal. That made no sense. The challenge, ok, you had to try something however your "staff" should have said keep the flag in your pocket.



Ref: That hold after Lamars big game was "possibly" a gamechanger. It's a play you see all the time and this time he throws the flag. You never know but it was a 2 score game to tie or lead and boom we're done. That's no excuse for our Defense or Offense for that matter but at the time it was big.



Let's go to the numbers. 5-2, bye week. 10 games to go, play .500 and we have 10 wins, enough, who knows. Right now we're not KC.




allan     October 24
Yea baby, also spot on with his never having to sweat Ravens win vs Bengals!

Roman and Harbs back to "worst coaches ever" status here in Baltimore. Throw Wink in too, ie "does he not teach tackling??" lol.

Aaron     October 24
Patriots (-7) was spot on. Thanks Drewski!!!!!!

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
1st half makes a strong case that a Ravens team without Stanley, Mekari, Peters, Boyle, top 4 RB's, Wolfe and LJ Fort just not as talented as Cincy. Can Lamar and coaching staff steal this game?

John W.     October 24
Which Ravens team shows up today? I sure hope that it's the one with the strong D and hot offense. More runs or passes today? I guess that's up to the Bengals D.

I try desperately not to feed the t#@%%*, but there is one "site contributor" that gets on my last nerve, even as I try to skip over his comments. Like his hero, he seems to have an extremely high opinion of himself. Nothing wrong with confidence, but geez... "Not that I'm for disrespecting the......."

kj     October 24
I know a certain returning commenter rubs some folks the wrong way, but I actually like the MFC Missives. Regardless if you agree with him or not he usually throws out some interesting tid bits to peruse.

Gotta agree with Eric on MD needing beef in the trenches, especially on the OL. No idea if Lockesly can coach or not, lets face it, he's only been HC for bad teams in bad situations right?

SFA still playing national schedule no? No idea what the record is. But regardless, just like any top HS or college program, money dries up, talent pipeline dries up too right?


Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
"Great recruiter"? Uhhh he's a great skills position recruiter. But no MD coach since they moved to the Big 10 seems to understand it's a trenches league. Every year it's the same story.... our quality RB's and WR's stand around and watch our OL and DL get pushed around or our skill talent gets hurt and team falls apart in Mid October and limps home 5-6 or 6-5 at best every year

unitastoberry     October 24
Good day for me Saturday as long as Penn Pedo St loses. 2 in the loss column now that should eliminate them from any national championship and they still have OSU and Michigan to play. Hope they keep Franklin around his teams usually bomb out. Lots of joy for this x Baltimore guy now in PA. Go Ravens if the D shows up even in the second half only it looks good to me.

TimD in Timonium     October 24
@MFC, good questions, hadn't seen much this season about the St. Frances Academy football program. But even without any MIAA games, they're still considered by some to be the best team in MD high school football. Check out the analytics site Massey Ratings.

MFC     October 24
"We're still in great shape and we're not even halfway home yet", the site owner attended a Dale Carnegie course over the weekend, our mythical $1,000 bet is currently ($1500). But I like the golf mentality, it's not the last shot it's the next one that matters. There are 55 games remaining, including today, hope it turn around.



The Locksley era may be just about over, if they had $$$$ to buy him out but that's expensive. Now it's a "pride" thing, really? Now you're going to put the blame on the kids??? What about your coaching abilities. Good recruiter, terrible coach.



Not sure if anyone noticed but the pre-game pageantry at Navy yesterday had the sky jumper land at mid-field and if you noticed the huge flag attached landed on the ground and was dragged a few feet. Where are the "flag" is sacred people? This is the Naval Academy. It didn't bother me but I'm not one of those zealots that never miss an opportunity to bash folks for disrespecting the flag. Not that I'm for disrespecting the flag, don't get me wrong.



HS football, wait, what happened to the "evil empire"? Now that Poggi took his wifes millions to Michigan for one last shot at big time glory, where are those supporters. Haven't seen or heard much from the "program" recently. There's plenty of good HS players out there. Meanwhile Gilman definitely retreated from the arms race getting blasted 47-3 by Spalding. Is that good or bad, not sure, but they are definitely back on a normal playing field.



As expected the TV/baseball gods played a horrible trick on the WS. No LA/Boston, we get the cheaters vs hotlanta. Meanwhile props are due for Atlanta, what they lost due to injury and patched it together to get there is nothing short of a miracle. Give that manager a raise! They were a .500 in August! There's hope O's fans.



Where's Chris or Barry?


Delray Rick     October 24
RADIERS WALLER a late scratch..

Delray RICK     October 24
Great article on LAMAR IN NY POST by SERBY.He's the best in football.Thats right.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 24
Its looking like D Waller out today. Take Eagles in upset. I said in Aug Cincy would split with us and Cle and finish 3rd. Drew laughed and laughed. Hopefully he right

Billy     October 23
Is a "dead arm" anything like the"twistys"??

We gonna call Scherzer a quitter too??

Dan     October 23
Thanks KJ. This time, unlike your first message, you were actually clear as to what you were trying to say. You're learning on the fly obviously. Nice job.

kj     October 23
Thanks Dan, but that was not the point. At. All. What "keeps coming up" is why no one cares about either. I'm all for talking about sports, its why I read the site.

Just a thought.

Dan     October 23
Maybe Maryland football and high school football keeps coming up because this is a sports website? Just a thought.

kj     October 23
15k for a Wiz game is a "big" crowd. When is the last time the Wiz have been even modestly relevant? Not to mention "season opener" in NBA is hardly a big deal. And 5k empty seats is hardly "scores" either. 35k empty seats at OPACY, that's "scores".

Not sure why the topic of high school football, or U of MD football keeps coming up. Its no mystery, DMD even touched on it, in parts of the country where HS or college football matters, there is nothing else to do on a Fri or Sat night. Despite Baltimore being an exception size wise, the "Northeast US" is dominated by big cities which come with lots of interesting things to do. As @UTB says, in these small "football towns", there's nothing else to do. Not just pro sports teams, but activities of all kinds.

Loved the old Battle of Baltimore event back in the day, but again problem is simple here too. No one can make money off of the event - not the schools, not the arena, no one. Even local TV didn't really want to cover the games (like MASN and spring training lol). Don't get me wrong, would love for the schools to do it and not worry about revenues, but all of them have full slate of conference games and the economic realities force them into big name road game pay days. In that vein, makes Bob Huggins points seem pretty on point no? If big boy schools played amongst themselves, one of many ripple effects might be events like Battle of Balto might come back, no?

Mad Max begging out of biggest game of year with a "dead arm"?? Thought he was such a "gamer"? Saving arm for Game 7 or WS is great, unless your team does no get there lol


unitastoberry     October 23
Ohio,Texas,PA and many more states are ga ga over high school football. Been that way since forever. Why not in Maryland except for a few games like Calvert Hall and Loyola and state finals etc? I have opined this here before and I think its several reasons. Maryland is a tiny state. Lots of the above states are farming, x manufacturing, and mining towns seperated by bus rides and the towns have long since shut down the factories where stuff was made ans now it's outsourced to China and Pacific rim. But the tradition of football still goes on and guess what the towns may be dead but they have pretty nice stadiums and bright lights for you guessed it football.Not by coincidence those are the state high schools that also feed the colleges that are annually in the top 15 D1 schools in the country. When Overlea High plays Milford Mill High in Baltimore County you get Grannie and Uncle Bert plus the parents to watch litte Jr. When Masilon Ohio gets together with Canton Ohio you have to buy tickets in advance because both towns empty out and head over to the stadiums. Oh the starting players at those schools would probably beat most Baltimore County teams by 50. Now you have all these high school factories for football like this St Francis here in Baltimore they travel out like college teams but it's not the same. Unfortunately thats the way it's going as money and college becoming a pro league is shaping the future. I don't like this at all but then there lots about todays world I don't like but I have no control so I go fishing. Oh and then there's lacrosse here in the land of pleasant living.

Vince     October 23
Kenny,



You are right, DC has produced some good talent, but in the trenches this area does not produce enough talent. This is a Northeast issue. It is also a culture issue. I have been to several games in the SEC and all it takes is to pick up the local fish wrap and see the importance of high school football. Maryland can't win on Maryland talent alone.

Eric in Gaithersburg     October 23
Everybody from DC will tell you at its core its a basketball town. But when you havent won 50 games since 1979 its hard to get people excited. Thankfully they finally have a quality GM but unless he can magically get 2 superstars to join Beal theyll never contend for titles and win over the young generation in DC

Kenny G     October 23
Vince - the DC metro area produces a ton of quality football players. It’s just very few go to Maryland, a DC not Baltimore school. For example, the starting RB at Michigan and the starting QB at Oklahoma are DC metro players. Big time programs.



I love college football and travel to many games a year. When people ask me who is my team, I tell them Maryland does not have football. It starts with the lack of high school interest which transcends to college. It is really a northeast US issue for some reason.

Delray RICK     October 23
Forget getting big crowds here in trouble BALTIMORE. CITY now 3rd in murders..

It couldn't support basketball or now baseball in the city of crime. If DEM O'S had one decent pitcher they would won 62-65 games and everybody would say " da is back".

Vince Fiduccia     October 23
One of the reasons Maryland isn't a good college football program is that nobody cares about high school here. Big-time high school produces big-time players. It builds excitement. Players who play in front of 12,15 or 20,000 in high school are more prepared for college. Our high school talent is vastly overrated. I mean we produce a few great players, but not the quanity as states like Georgia, Alabama, Lousiana. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas are another level above this.

Harry Elementary     October 23
When one in every 2,000 residents of Baltimore are murdered every year, nobody is going to want to move there, let alone establish a business that requires sports fans to come to a stadium or arena.

Erick     October 22
34% seems awfully low-67 percent not playing? seems low. Not buying Orioles- Matt Wieters was future, now Adley is? Great if it works- but hes in minors……love the Os but seems like those that posture overly optimistic today based on little stats- are just posturing for a future “i told you so” no matter how many years it takes- win or lose- they are my team but i cant over sell them- Like the Wolf of Eutaw Street…

James - Dundak     October 22
We have a family Fantasy League (Me , my wife, kids, kids spouses.) Its all in fun. My wife lives for the draft but, lets me make decision on her team weekly. I've won once, came in second twice, last a few times too lol. My best payers always seem to end on IR.



I will probably buy individual game O's tickets, pick the games I want.



Maryland BB , Still not a big fan of Turgeons in game decisions. They make 2nd round, I would be surprised with a sweet 16



Don't watch NBA



Watch Superbowl on TV. Been to LA you aren't kidding about the pricing.



The Ravens have 1 or 2 losses in them . Maybe a bad weather game like last year in NE or some bad breaks that lead to lost points.






Howard     October 22
If Captain Smith were John Harbaugh, he would have realized that a 23% chance of success, as per analytics, beats a 0% chance of success maintaining course any day. Sounds like Captain Smith was following the logic of Mike McCarthy.

George     October 22
ON THE TITANIC:

First Mate: Captain! We’re headed directly toward an iceberg at full speed!

Captain: What’s your point, son?

First Mate: We have to turn, sir.

Captain: Negative. Helm, maintain course and speed.

First Mate: But sir, we’re going to crash!

Captain: Well, my boy, you have a good point there. But analytics says turning has only a 23.46285% chance of success. So we’ll have to think of something else.

Howard     October 22
Analytics is not magic or mystery. It is the ANALYSIS of years of data that allow the determination of the chances of success or failure of a decision given particular circumstances. Your gut/common sense works well for extremes. For example, most would go for it if it is 4th and inches on the 50, and most would punt if it is 4th and 40.

But.suppose it is 4th and 2 or 3 or 4 or 5?

The head coach can use the probability of success overall and then tweak it for factors such as field conditions, weather, personnel, game situation, etc. in order to make a more informed decision.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Keep in mind that if football were just invented, there would be no analytics for football since every situation would have no historical data to use

George     October 22
Good bet on Fowler. I expect, if he wins, he'll go on a tear and win three or four this year. He's got the talent, the problem is the gremlins in his head. In the last few years, when he's been near the lead, you could bet he'd find water. Last week, with the lead, he got run over by the top 20 guys. I think their average scores were between six and seven under, and there were some minus eights, nines, and tens. Rickie's one under was one of the worst scores of the day.

I still object to calls that Rickie's "back." He simply just ain't never been there. Guys like Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson can come "back," because they HAVE been there.

TimD in Timonium     October 22
@DelrayRick, did I see correctly on-screen last night that Cleveland had signed Case Keenum to a 3 year, $18M contract? Not too shabby. For him. Is there an NFL team he HASN'T played for yet?

DF     October 22
10/22/21 - 10:00 am --

Just a friendly reminder that we are being much more vigilant on posts here that are intended to disparage or ridicule other posters. I'd like to thank the 95% of you who post without disparaging other commenters.

But I should point out, having removed two comments this morning that used monikers/nicknames that are no longer allowed here, that your published comments here can not disparage or ridicule other commenters.

If at any time you need a clarification or further explanation of the small set of rules we use here in an effort to maintain a basic level of decorum, you're welcome to e-mail me and I'll be happy to explain it to you: 18inarow@gmail.com

Thanks again to those of you who post (regularly, semi-regularly or rarely) and do so within the framework of our rules. You're much appreciated.



- DF -

Chris in Bel Air     October 22
1. I do play FF. Just another reason to socialize with some long time friends. 2. ATL will win one. 3. NBA? zero 4. I hope the Ravens don't go 16-1 (see 2019). It's just not likely then can win out in regular season AND then continue through in playoffs. 5. Highly doubtful I'll subscribe to O's season tickets next year. Last one I did was in 2014. I will attend a game. Maybe more if there is some beacon of light to see on the field. 6. I don't know if Rickie will win but I know it will be hysterical if he does somehow win a major. I don't know what is funnier, George's ripping of Rickie or Drew's disdain of the Flyers. 7. MD in the final 4? Not buying that hype at all. 8. I'm trying to figure out how much I would need to make before I would plunk down $4K for a ticket.

@DelRay Rick - If Browns are smart, yes. But he makes plenty from his insurance commercials anyway. Problem will be if Brownies get dumb and offer Baker the big money first. That will only raise the price for Lamar.

MFC     October 22
Instead of the beach house with an in-law suite maybe a more realistic opportunity with the Sunday morning guesses would be a trip to the SB. The mythical bet is ($1500) YTD. Need to rally but there are 55 regular season guesses to make, time is on your side.

unitastoberry     October 22
No on Orioles tickets price of everything is up up up and yields on investments are down down down. NBA? I think I watched some finals games when Jordan was playing other than that no NBA for me since Abe Pollin went Irsay on Baltimore. 4000 for a SB ticket plus flight and hotel are you kidding me? Maryland BB in the final 4 that would be awesome but I'm not a Turgeon fan and I don't know one player. Back in the Lefty days I knew the whole team and was a big fan. Mild fan with Gary. Move to big ten really did it in for me those tobacco road games where a war. Ravens have some more losses coming lets hope not after New Years. I think Braves win that series unless Dodgers pull a Pirates on them. If I didn't come here to read everyday I would not know who Ricky Fowler is lol.My idea of Fantasy has something more to do with Charlies Angels rather that plunking down money on stat bets lol. Oh and one more from me. Who will be the first head coach to be fired in the NFL this year?? Vic Fangio

Delray RICK     October 22
Early reports on BAKER...Needs a shoulder operation because broken bone also found. DA IS DONE!! Now we have to put PITTSBURGH out of its misery. BAKER only had a 26-25 record. If he gets new contract next year it wil be HALF what LAMAR gets.

Stats Nerd     October 21
@Joe P I did say you don't know what you are talking about. When someone's first interaction with me is that what I wrote is "insanity...barely usable"... well I don't think your opening salvo was fair or reasonable.

Anyway, do you think I am making up that all of the NFL teams have analytics teams/departments? Do you think I do zero research before I write about what is going on in the NFL wrt analytics? I get it, you aren't interested. That's fine. But that doesn't mean because Joe P isn't interested it doesn't actually happen.

As to your assertion that it's after the fact data. I agree. But do you not think after the fact data can help. Example: suppose a team is running a play...pick any play. Let's say they are running a TE drag play. And they discover after the fact that the play yields on average an extra 3 yards if it is coupled with play action. Is that useful information? I would think it is. That's all analytics tries to do...find ways to marginally increase expectation...whatever that expectation is. That's it.

And of course human talent and the human element will ultimately prevail. Analytics is meant to improve the odds of that happening. In some cases that improvement is marginal and in others it can be material. That's it. Virtually no one thinks an analytical scheme or approach, in of itself, determines winners and losers. To say so is a strawman.

George     October 21
@Joe P -- I doubt the Stats Nerd wrote that comment about not knowing what he's talking about. No doubt someone used his handle. His writing reflects he knows how to engage in argumentative discussion at a level beyond third grade.

I'm an old guy, but would like very much to learn this new science. Hopefully we'll learn in future pieces on #DMD. My questions concern applications in real-world situations, and I'd like to understand how stats decisions are made BEFORE the fact. And I'd benefit from learning what a Stroke Gained Off theTee really is.

Joe P     October 21
If "everyone" is suckling off the immutable, untouchable, sacrosanc stats, then the games would be as boring as watching a chess match between two grand Masters. They know all the moves, counter moves. There are just so many squares on a board. The "human" element trumps all. And the interpretation of the data presented is the random in the equation. What I meant to say(clarity or comprehension is unknown) is this. Statistical models after the fact have use, but the way and the lack of clarity in presentation is the gripe. People with high confidence and high achievement would never write "you have no idea what you are talking about". It's silly and not dignified.

Example of a brilliant plan devised by me in the mid 90's. I had 65 salesman working for me. At a conference that was full of my industry leaders and people in my position and higher, I got some information that wasn't meant to see my eyes and ears. Drunk braggarts say the most interesting things. With this info I was able to put forth a plan that made us untouchable in price and service. We captured so much new business, that we leased 14 new trucks. We increased total sales by 40% and in this particular segment by 140%. The owner was happy. Using various statistics and going for it hard, we were just sitting in a great place. Then.....randomness hit. We had this segment locked up. But sales started dropping. We weren't losing SKU's but the volume was way off. A HORRIBLE year in Flu deaths. We were selling to nursing homes....and some of these homes were losing 30-50% of their residents. Took us 2years to ramp it to where it was and my brilliant plan was copied by others. Our "window" of dominance was derailed by a severe flu season.

A failed play or should of done this or that can be derailed by a communication issue or the center got his hand stepped on the previous play.

Stats Nerd     October 21
Sorry forgot that info re: analytics departments was from an ESPN article in June

Stats Nerd     October 21
@George I'll agree that not all teams use analytics efficiently but as of June 2021 every team in the NFL had at least 1 staff or senior person whose primary job was to "perform data analysis or build analytical tools". The last team to fill a role like that was Tenn last spring. Obv there is a massive difference in output when CLE and Bal have a staff of 7 and 6 respectively and many teams only have 1 or 2 staffers

On the golf thing, I just disagree that laying up "isn't a strategy". i think your premise is poor. I certainly agree that both options kinda suck but the idea that laying up only gives you a chance at par is flawed. I don't know how that says something about someone's character as you intimated...lol. There is no metric per se for the question you posit. It's all about expected score calculations.

JohnInEssex     October 21
To accentuate Drew's point even more about ESPN, regular season NBA is billed over PLAYOFF MLB. Playoffs, in any sport, have WAY more at stake, and a different game really, compared to regular season any sport.

George     October 21
I think it's crystal clear that not all teams use metrics. If they all did, there wouldn't be the TV, radio, and print commentators who point out that coaches' decisions were "right" or "wrong," metrics-wise.

George     October 21
@Stats Nerd -- The question was formulated to see what the metrics say in a situation where there is a character issue. Chipping out and then trying to hole out from the fairway is nothing but hope, which my wife tells me, “isn’t a strategy.” So the only chance for the birdie to tie is to attempt the long fade to try to get on or near the green where you can chip in or hole a putt. It’s low-percentage, but the ONLY chance you have to win the tournament. Chipping out gives you a reasonable chance at par, where you’d be tied with the gaggle in second place. I wonder how metrics deals with this and other similar issues? Do the numbers tell whether to lay up even when that will [all but] guarantee a player won’t win, but will finish higher up in the money than if attempting the crazy shot that offers the only chance to win?

allan     October 21
Stanley contract was bad cause he got hurt two days after it was signed? Ok genius.

Huggy Bear is a nut job, but he ain't wrong.

Delray RICK     October 21
Articles already in ATLANTA on websites for world series being moved because of voting law. Can baseball do that. ALL-STAR was moved and GEORGIA could lose out. Come ON DODGERS !!

Sunday
September 26, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2589


yard work by 2:30 pm?


If things go the way they should, you might have rake in hand by about 2:30 this afternoon.

The Ryder Cup should be in the bag by then and the Ravens should have the Lions put away at that point.

But........

Sports is weird, ya know. And the one thing that's predictable is that nothing's actually predictable.

The oldest American player (37), Dustin Johnson, is the only member of the U.S. team who will play all five matches in this year's Ryder Cup. Johnson is a perfect 4-0 thus far.

The U.S. Ryder Cup team leads the Europeans 11-5 in one of the all-time great romps, with the only fireworks on Saturday coming from several controversies and flare-ups that at least made day two worth watching. The Americans need only 3.5 points today to get to 14.5 overall and bring the Cup back on U.S. soil.

Make no mistake about it: if the U.S. were to cough up a 6-point lead and this Ryder Cup, it