December 15
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issue 15
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ravens, orioles face defining weekend

By this time on Monday, there's no telling what kind of news we'll be writing about here at #DMD.

I shudder to think about the worst of the headlines we might read.



Just writing both of those headlines made me itchy.

The good news is I don't suspect either of them will happen. The bad news? They could.

It's really hard for a NFL team to go 0-16. At some point, the law of averages alone says you have to win a game. I suppose Cleveland's most premium opportunity came just last weekend when they faced Green Bay and their lousy quarterback, Brett Hundley, but the Browns squandered a 21-7 second-half lead en route to a 27-21 overtime loss.

Despite Cleveland's 0-13 record, this Sunday's game is far from a "lock" for Baltimore.

Let's keep these poor folks sad for at least one more week, right?

And what makes me the most nervous is the method by which I think the Ravens are going to have to win.

Cleveland's run defense is pretty stout. They rank 6th in the entire NFL against the run, allowing 1248 yards in 13 games. Their 3.3 yards-per-attempt average is tied for the best in the entire NFL.

Meanwhile, the Browns are 21st in the NFL against the pass. They allow 232 yards per-game to opposing quarterbacks.

See where I'm going with this?

The Ravens are likely going to win the game on Sunday based on whether Joe Flacco has a good game -- or not.

I get nervous these days when I think about those conditions. Joe and the receivers haven't exactly looked like Montana and Rice this season, in case you haven't noticed.

If you're the Browns, particularly after watching Alex Collins trample over and through the Steelers on Sunday night, wouldn't you just load the box and play the Baltimore receivers in single coverage?

Collins might still do some damage. I can't see the Browns turning him into chopped liver just because they over-play the run. But if Cleveland keys on the running attack and forces Flacco and Company to beat them in the air, I don't have an enormous amount of confidence in Joe being able to pull that off.

Don't get me wrong, the Ravens should win the game no matter the defensive alignment Cleveland chooses to play on Sunday.

They're the freakin' Browns, remember. The 0-13 Browns.

But the Ravens have the ability to throw in a clunker occasionally, as we all know. This, of course, would be the ultimate gag job if they go to Cleveland and somehow lose. But putting the game in the hands of Flacco and the receivers is unsettling to me.

Now to the other big story that might percolate and close over the weekend.

The Orioles are apparently fielding lots of offers from teams interested in acquiring the services of Manny Machado.

Depending on which national baseball writer you believe, the White Sox emerged as a viable trade partner on Thursday but won't include their top pitching prospect in the deal. The Cardinals also have keen interest in Machado and have a deep minor league system to sweeten the pot, but nothing emerged on Thursday that said they were ready to do that.

Meanwhile, Dan Duquette isn't downplaying the fact that Machado is on the market. I guess it's hard to do that when every national writer at the winter meetings in Orlando had plenty of inside information on the proposed deals that were coming Duqette's way.

There's still the final door to close on any deal involving Machado and it's the one that leads into the office of Peter Angelos. At some point, Duquette will have to take a final trade offer to the owner for his approval. There's no telling how that's going to go.

If Angelos does approve a Machado trade, it will mark a significant change in the landscape of the Orioles in 2018, particularly if all they receive in exchange for the third baseman is a slew of prospects and no major-league ready players.

Add to the Machado deal the fact that Duquette selected three players in yesterday's Rule 5 draft and you can see the shapings of a young team next season. The Orioles don't have to keep all three of them, obviously, but if any of the three they selected yesterday don't stay with the big league club all season, they're returned to their former team.

And don't forget, Anthony Santander, a Rule 5 pick a year ago who was "injured" last spring and was therefore exempt from the regulation. He might be coming north with the team as well, effectively replacing Joey Rickard in right field.

So, right now, the Orioles have three Rule 5 players who must go with them to Baltimore and start the season on the opening day roster next March. That means the team would have 21 "real" players and four guys with little to know major league experience.

And, potentially, no Manny Machado at 3rd base.

Is Baltimore ready for a season of 65 wins in 2018?

My position on a Machado deal has been clear from the start. I see it as completely necessary given his desire to reach free agency next winter. I don't see the Orioles paying him $300 million anyway, but with his looming "available to the highest bidder" position a year from now, there's no way the Birds should hold on to Machado for the 2018 campaign.

It's still going to hurt to see him go, though. If they move him to the Yankees, it's going to hurt 18 times a year, in fact.

This weekend, we could have two painful stories in our city.

If the Ravens somehow stumble and lose to the lowly Browns...

And if Manny Machado gets traded away...

Monday won't be fun in these parts.

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things we're working on for 2018

As we near the end of 2017, #DMD is busy creating our 2018 "calendar of events".

Some things are already in place and moving along nicely. Our Masters trip (April 2nd) is almost sold out (now just four seats remain) and we have a concert trip to see ELO in Philadelphia on August 24, 2018 that's also available.

Here are a few other things we're going to be formally announcing soon. If you're interested in any of these and have a friend or two who might want to join us, please reach out to me via e-mail ( and let me know in advance so I can better plan for the on-sale launch.

Our annual duckpin bowling event where you bowl and try and raise money for your favorite charity is likely going to be March 4. We'll have details on that shortly.

We're putting together a trip to see the Orioles play the Braves in Atlanta in June (22-23-24) and combining that with a small golf event (similar to what we did in Nashville this past November).

We'll be organizing some kind of Ravens playoff trip in January but that ultimately will be decided based on who they play.

I've had a lot of people reach out to me about doing a trip to see the Eagles and James Taylor at Nationals Park next July. If you're interested in that, please let me know. I do have access to tickets, but don't know how many people are interested.

A Caps and/or Hershey hockey trip is also being scheduled for February or March.

And more to come...

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

After another underwhelming card in the mid-week, which kicked off just over forty-eight hours following the conclusion of the weekend action, Matchday 18 of English Premier League gets underway tomorrow morning and leaves little doubt that we are now officially in the midst of the busy festive fixtures, with every club squeezing in five matches over the next twenty days until a much deserved break just after the New Year. There will be plenty of action to keep up with throughout the Holidays, so be sure to tune in and catch it all live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, December 16 (all times eastern)

10am – West Ham United @ Stoke City – bet365 Stadium, NBC Live Extra

After wallowing near the bottom of the table for much of the season, and three games over the last three weeks against the top teams in the league – Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal - that could have broken the east London outfit, West Ham United concluded the daunting stretch with a respectable four points following a 0-0 draw with the Gunners in the mid-week. They still find themselves in the relegation places and one point from safety due to an inferior goal differential but none the less full of confidence when they travel to the bet365 Stadium to take on Stoke City.

While things are maybe starting to turn around for the Hammers it is the opposite at Stoke City, as the Potters lost for the fourth time in their last five (W1) to slump to fifteenth in the table and put manager Mark Hughes firmly on the hot seat, likely needing a result at home against their relegation rivals to guarantee at least another week in charge following a 1-0 defeat to Burnley on Tuesday. Unbeaten in their last eight in the league (W3 D5) and the last four times they have welcomed West Ham to the bet365 Stadium (W2 D2), he will be confident of getting the result that he needs.

It's not even January and Pep Guardiola could be on the verge of locking up his first Premier League title as Man City continues to roll through the league.

12:30pm – Tottenham @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC

While we are reluctant to hand Manchester City the title with just over half the campaign yet to play, they took a major step last weekend to lifting a third Premier League trophy in their history when they beat Manchester United 2-1 and then following it up on Wednesday with a 4-0 dismantling of the now cellar dwelling Swansea City to set a new league record with fifteen consecutive victories. With an eleven-point cushion over United, they could for all intents and purposes wrap up the title with a positive result when they welcome Tottenham to the Etihad Stadium in Saturday’s primetime fixture.

Tottenham halted their month long slide down the table last weekend before getting past Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday 2-0 to move back in to the top four, holding the edge over Liverpool and the surprise Burnley on goal differential. If there is one side that could end City’s win streak and begin to bring them back to the pack it would be Spurs, who after dropping four in a row and eight of their last nine against the Citizens (W1), have won three of their last four (D1), although they have struggled in their trips to the Etihad Stadium, dropping five of their last seven (W1 D1).

Sunday, December 17 (all times eastern)

9:15am – Manchester United @ West Bromwich Albion – The Hawthorns, NBC Sports Network

Manchester United bounced back from the disappointing result to their arch rivals, which ended their forty-match unbeaten run at Old Trafford, and consolidated their hold on second place with a hard fought 1-0 win over Bournemouth at the historic footballing ground. They will face another difficult test when they kick off the limited Sunday slate with a trip to The Hawthorns to face the increasingly desperate West Bromwich Albion, who drew for the fourth time in their last five games 0-0 with Liverpool but left the Baggies still searching for their first win since all the way back in August (L7 D8).

The poor run of form has already seen Wet Brom part ways with long serving manager Tony Pulis and Premier League veteran Alan Pardew brought in to stem a slide that has seen them drop to just outside the bottom three thanks only to a superior goal differential. In a season littered with negatives, they can take a positive from keeping a clean sheet against the high flying Reds although it doesn’t get any easier with the visit from United, who have lost only one of their last ten trips to The Hawthorns (W7 D2) and just three of their last twenty meetings in the league with the Baggies (W12 D5).

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#dmd comments

Theotherguy     December 15
BTW, Hundley is NOT a "lousy QB"

DELRAY RICK     December 15
HERMAN-----RAVENS still have a good D and will be better nex year. Look up the year they won both SB'S they got blown out 2 times. BUT with SMITH out it hurt.

George     December 15
How can you call a game between the 21-8 Cavaliers and the 10-17 Lakers a “showdown?” It seems your Rickie Fowler Syndrome has worsened, and now manifests also when LaVar’s son Lonzo is on a TV screen.

mike from catonsville     December 15
@Idiot Caller,Jason,Dave K

First, you admit you listen, ok for "comedy" but you listen. My point is made, many of the commentators listen. I don't care why, you listen.

Second, when is it ever a good time to fire people? Steve Davis has a couple of kids either in college or ready to go, think his firing was a good time? Owners make decisions because they are the owners, it's their name at the bottom of the check. Did the timing cause extreme anxiety, I'm certain it did but again tell me when is the best time to fire someone because you can always say "it's not right because.."

Cheap or frugal. Jonathan Ogden was and is notorious for being frugal with his money I'd love to see you call Ogden cheap. I'ts also interesting that you expect the pay scale of a 5,00 watt station to be equal to that of a corporate giant of 50,000 watts with stations across America. Yeah that makes sense to all of us. Many a current broadcaster owes their start, cutting their teeth at that little 5,000 watt station. In the words of the great Col. Jessup, " I would rather you just said "thank you", and went on your way."

Historical Edge     December 15
If History tells us anything, any team is beatable. One and done for the Ravens in the playoffs? It has never happened in the Harbaugh era. Here is another historical fact. It only matters what you are playing like at the end of the season. A case can be made that since Brady has been hurt(injury list the past 3 weeks) he has been close to awful( 44% completions, 3 picks). Pittsburgh's defense is close to being below average at THIS point. And Tomlin gets blistered in his own town..much like Harbs does here.

Now here is the rub, the Ravens need to get in. I think that are playing well AT this point in the season. The defense has 3 shutouts. Is that who they are or the team that got shredded by Ben and Brown? They've been blown out twice this year(rare in the Harbaugh era) so that goes against the Historical Edge.

If they win out and Brady continues to struggle(Joe has outplayed him the past 3 weeks...take that Flacco haters) and Pittsburgh shows that crap defense.....the whole AFC is a crap shoot. Hell, the best, most complete team might be Jacksonville!! or The Chargers!! or get this gloom and doom, misery laden fans....The Ravens!!!

Prediction for this week? All of these "the ravens better show up", "better not overlook the Browns". The Ravens can just throw their helmets out there and win comfortably. The Browns will never be in it. Why? because they are playing well and the QB is finally in shape. And the Josh Gordon factor? He is a certified DOG, with little care about the game. He doesn't give a red rats butt about the game. Will disappear. That is a historical FACT and an edge for the Ravens.

unitastoberry     December 15
One has to hope that the Orioles have been scouting the USA the last year for minor league pitchers they would covet for Manuel. Then again it's the Orioles. Lets hope they don't pull a Glenn Davis here but a Frank Robinson. Either was he's outta here.

Ravens key to playoffs is Alex Collins and no turnovers.

HERMAN     December 15
Losing to the Bears at home, and falling short this past week in a gut-wrenching game has put the Raven's in a tough position in having to win out. The schedule has given them a gift of three bad teams to beat, but it's the NFL, where "any given Sunday".

There was actually talk on this site earlier in the season, after a very good start by the D, that this was "the best Raven's D in it's history". Well that 500 yard plus performance last week against them was historic. How you let a receiver torch you for 200 plus yards without making in-game cover changes is beyond my comprehension.

I think they can run the table and get a wild card, but they are one-and-done potential absent playmakers.

Idiot Caller     December 15
Echoing Radio Guy's comments from of a couple of days ago: I too listen to the "station down the dial" on occasion, but only for the unintended comedy,

Steve of Pimlico     December 15
Cleveland covers Sunday with a surprise 24-13 win as Ravens come out flat and Josh Gordon goes off on Raven's secondary.

Jason M     December 15
Thoughts to ponder on our tilt with the Browns...Browns are 1-28 under head coach Hue Jackson. Let that sink in for a moment. 1 win in the Jackson era. No playoffs since 2002. 15 long seasons. No playoff wins since 1994. They are the anti Patriots. In a league of parity they are beating the odds every Sunday by being this bad. The law of averages does not hold with them, there is no return to the mean over time.

I say this and note that Billick got canned when we lost to an 0-14 Miami team. Their won loss record is ghastly, but the prospect of losing to them is also.

Rory from DE     December 15
The Ravens are hitting their stride. There will be no let down this week. 31-10 Ravens

Book it

In the Know     December 15
I hate to burst the bubble of one of DMD's supposed "experts", but @Brien Jackson couldn't know less about Mr. Angelos when he writes what he wrote on December 14 (below).

I'll say it before and I'll say it again: The Orioles' problem is that Peter Angelos is completely incapable of thinking about the team beyond the year at hand, is obsessed with his perception of what "fans want," and uses the most ill-informed, reactionary radio callers as his cross-section for determining fan sentiment.

I can tell you from first hand experience that Mr. A doesn't give a hoot what the fans or radio callers want.

I know that FIRST HAND.

Now, go back to being an expert but know that you are dead wrong on that take, Mr. Jackson.

Steve from Cape Coral     December 15
Of course I want the Ravens to win Sunday but, I'm sure liking the Browns and the points (7). I think it's coming down to Justin Tucker winning it !!!

Mike From Reisterstown     December 14
@Brien Jackson

Ok, Britton was hurt, but I thought there was a deal with Houston or Texas, I can't remember...still we had Brach and O'day to deal for prospects. I hear you on position players but don't you think the haul would be better than as opposed to now?...when teams are in the hunt? We have nothing now in terms of prospects...Tanner Scott maybe soon but he needs some more time.

I will not capitalize "yankees" or "red sox" because I'm an Oriole fan.

Brien Jackson     December 14
I think his worst actions dovetail with common sentiments expressed from the fanbases id, and pretty clearly. There's "get starting pitchers!" turned into deal for former All-Stars Ubaldo Jimenez and Yovani Gallardo, "spend money to keep your free agents" becomes dumb extensions for Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, and J.J. Hardy, and now "Don't trade Machado to the Yankees!" is apparently not only a dictate to Duquette, but Angelos is perhaps not even willing to trade Machado on the fear that the Phillies or White Sox might flip him to the Yankees.

As for the deadline, the market on Britton was barren thanks to his injury status, and you don't typically see position players bring back the kind of haul you would want to get for Machado at the deadline. That usually only happens when teams have the flexibility of the offseason to work with. It's really only pitchers who command that kind of midseason premium.

With Ohtani, the Orioles were limited by the international signing pool, and were apparently one of three teams that didn't even chase him. Which ends up being fine because they never had his interest anyway and didn't waste their time with it like, say, the Yankees did.

Mike From Reisterstown     December 14
@Brien Jackson

Maybe your right, but I don't think PA cares about radio callers. He's just plain stubborn. No moves at the trade deadline this year. July was the time to move guys including Manny, Britton, Brach (maybe Adam Jones even though I would hate to see that)

We have 2 starting pitchers that can compete in MLB. I'm with you, lets take out as many yankee top pitching prospects as we can get.

And how the hell did they miss on Shohei Ohtani. That's got to be worth taking a chance on. He went cheap (cheaper than Kim I think).

Brien Jackson     December 14
I'll say it before and I'll say it again: The Orioles' problem is that Peter Angelos is completely incapable of thinking about the team beyond the year at hand, is obsessed with his perception of what "fans want," and uses the most ill-informed, reactionary radio callers as his cross-section for determining fan sentiment.

Will trading Machado hurt business in the short term? Sure it will. You know what else will hurt revenue? Not trading Machado, losing him to free agency, and finishing in last place for multiple years in a row. You know what probably won't sell tickets either? Signing Machado to a long term extension and finishing in fourth or fifth every year because you have an awful starting pitching rotation.

The best play from every angle right now is to trade Machado for a package of multiple top prospects, getting at least one top pitcher in return, and they need to take offers from all-comers. Ruling out the Yankees is as close to the epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face as you're ever going to see.

Bob from Hereford     December 14
Listening to Chris Russo on the MLB network this afternoon, he said that Manny wants to "play in New York". The plan is for him to play for the O's or for whom ever they trade to next year; become a free agent and sign with the Yanks for 2019. This means that the O's will not get a big return for him unless they trade with the Yanks. A 1 year rental limits his trade value. He questions the wisdom of Peter to not trade with the Yanks where he may get more in return since he end up in New York anjhow.

Chris in Bel Air     December 14
Yeah, it would stink for Manny to go to NY and see their team be even better. But as long as the O's get some real players in return, I'm ok with it.

Really interesting article from Davis today. Looking back at the last 15 years, I would say the two teams definitely belong in the same division. Their likenesses are many and I just don't see the same excitement coming from either the South or the East.

unitastoberry     December 14
The longer you wait on Manuel the less you get. When his agent went to the press to negotiate the 400 plus million it should have been over then knowing that PA would never go any place near that. At that time we could have gotten a whole minor league pitching staff for him now its down to a lot less unless the team he's traded to wants to pony up the long term money his agent wants up front. If any trade is nixed now we potentially could be one injury away from getting nothing ala Mike Mussina. Who cares if its in our divison get the best pitching prospects from any team. Will history repeat itself here?

Casual O     December 14
It’s a given PA needs to sign off on a deal involving the team’s best player. And despite what the failed radio mogul says, that’s normal protocol. Where the dysfunctionality of the O’s comes in is if PA is going to veto a deal to certain teams, or any team at all, why the hell wouldn’t he call DD into his office and tell him that? Is he really letting DD ran around having discussions, knowing he’s just gonna nix any proposed deal? That would be insane (but sadly, not surprising). Now maybe DD decides to field calls anyway, just in case someone “blows him away”, but if this source claims to know what PA is going to do, why wouldn’t DD also know?? If true, this organization is as F’ed up as some critics think it is. Assuming a trade is remotely possible, I agree waiting until the July deadline diminishes the potential return, but not sure I see the need to do the deal “now”, as long as it’s done before the season starts (or preferably before spring training). I have zero sources of any kind, but I’d put the “PA is not on board” % at 95%, my hope is just that he communicated that to the GM.

Tim D in Timonium     December 14
Anyone BUT the Yankees. Anyone. Enjoyed the note that PA feels the same way. Others are interested apparently. Read a story online that listed the White Sox, the Phillies, and even the Cards as possible suitors. But what would it take sign Manny? $450M for 10 years? No way PA opens the checkbook that wide.

Steve     December 14
Reading lots of national writers saying just because Duquette has a deal with someone doesn't mean Angelos is going to OK the deal. Good work today Drew!

HERMAN     December 14
It would make perfect sense for the NFL to re-align teams geographically. It would upset the old timers that Dallas-DC would no longer be a hated rivalry, but a Baltimore-DC twice a year contest would eventually create the same bad blood. And be much less expensive on travel costs. Baltimore-Philly-DC really should be in the same division. From the standpoint of travel to away games you'd be an hour-and-a-half to see your team on the road with 3/4 of the division. Fantasy football has torn at the old ties of historic rivalries with younger fans. It makes no sense that Miami is lumped with NE, Buffalo, and the Jets. Less that Dallas is playing three Northeast teams.

Another Guy     December 14
Doesn't it make the most sense to trade Machado to the Red Sox or Yankees? Stripping our rivals of their best prospects makes them a tad weaker in the long run. Taking assets from a division foe makes good "talent depletion" but not "fan feelings" regarding Manny. And to be clear I am very cognizant of his immense talents, but not of his overall attitude when it comes to basic hustle and care. Pete Rose was a joke and his fake hustle was part of his persona(and not in a good way), but Manny doesn't give it his all on plays that he should. Adam Jones and Chris Davis are good examples of how to run out plays. I remember Luke Scott being run out of here for being like a ton of major league ball players by turning doubles into singles and lolly gagging around. But Luke was no Manny, but Buck running him off set a clear example of the new Oriole way. In those dark years he was one of our biggest talents, that he was, showed that the O's had very little talent in the bad years.

Glad to see the Brien is still on Planet Brien. "I have toyed with the idea that commissioner....." Wow, who knew that he was so important. Must be all those writing gigs that are listed in his by-line that can not be confirmed by simply googling his name along with those web sites. The "proof" that the Marlins traded these players for "nothing" has yet to be determined.

And David R. is a column not to be missed. Always thought provoking and "deep". Good addition and we want more.

My gut feeling is that the Orioles sales team needs a change or a revamp. I don't see much salesmanship going on. I have 2- 81 game plans and go out about 60 times/year, and have such good seats that I appear on TV often. I am able to give my seats to clients, I just ask them not to wave and make a fool of themselves on TV. I am never solicited for MORE tickets. If they ain't asking I ain't buying. As far as their advertising? Tired ad campaigns, mostly done on their own channels, which get almost zero viewership in the off season. It is odd. Angelos gets a lot of flack about cheapness(which I don't agree), but he may be too loyal to long term employees. They need a new approach.

Attorney J.D.     December 14
FWIW, a partner in my firm knows P.A. very well and he (P.A.) has indicated there's no way he'll approve a trade to either the Yankees or the Nationals. Didn't say anything about the Red Sox. But it's a 'no' with NY or Washington.

Todd     December 14
I hope this source of DF's isn't the same one who told him the Yankees were going to get Stanton. That person has a good track record with me.

DR (the original)     December 14
What happened to the Orioles last year, and what's happening with the Yankees right now, has made this season different than what we thought it might be 2 or 3 years ago.

It's not the last hurrah of a good team before things change. It's an (at best) average team that has once again fallen far behind. Whether we have a future HOFer on the team or not.

The O's desperately need to get as much value for Machado as possible, and they need to do it now.

Unitastoberry     December 14
Maybe Angelos will wait until the last second and have a meeting at some dinner with Manny and throw in a big screen TV or a sports car . Somewhere a retired pitcher up in Montoursville PA will smile when he reads this. Like I said I have no faith for the Orioles to handle this the right way.

David from Westminster     December 14
Good article from David R today.

It would be a shame if the Orioles botched this opportunity to trade Machado and get some value for him. If Peter (and everyone else) thinks of this as just a 1 year rental for the opposing team, maybe he will understand better - regardless if it is to the BoSox or Yankees. There is no guarantee he is going to stay longer than one year to that team if traded. He is definitely going to solicit his value in free agency.

James - Dundalk     December 14
Good read by David. Had the Ravens been placed in The AFC East would they have been a pain in the side for the Patriots? We seem to have their number more times than none. Would the Pats road to the Super bowls have been as smooth if hey played the Ravens twice every year instead of the Bills,Jets,Dolphins of the last 20 years.

James     December 14
It's an interesting point about losing fans because of trading Manny.

Your column predicted 3000 fans per game.

Could it be more? I don't know I'm just wondering.

Could they lose 5000 a game or more?

That's a pretty significant hit.

That Guy     December 14
Good article on Peter and the trade. Not as much of a slam dunk as everyone probably thinks it should be. I think that's the point you were trying to make.

ray ray     December 13
A record that will probably never be broken: Most seasons in the major leagues with one and only one team – tie, Brooks Robinson and Carl Yastrzemski (23). Stan Musial would have tied the record, but he served in the Navy in WW II and missed the 1945 season.

Free agency is a great thing for the players, a cute come-uppence and hilarious expense for owners whose historical greed made it inevitable, but a radical shift in the outlook of fans because their only interest can be in their team making the playoffs, since they can’t invest loyalty in players who might be gone the next year.

Brien Jackson     December 13
At this point I expect that the Orioles will turn down a substantial package from the Yankees, and then Machado will sign with them as a free agent after the season anyway. Because that would literally be the most Peter Angelos thing ever.

DELRAY RICK     December 13
MANNY is much better player then CAL and if MANNY played here his entire career his stats would pass BROOKS by a mile. BUT NOT MORE POPULAR THEN BROOKS. The way sports is today if you do not pay the bucks you don't get the (STARS). Its to bad we are going to lose a real SUPER STAR but thats BALTIMORE. Still think MANNY goes the DODGERS.

Dave K.     December 13
Nestor fired Glenn Clark a month before his wife was giving birth to their baby. He's not only cheap but mean too.

Jason     December 13
Nestor might not be lazy. But he's cheap.

Which is really funny because that's what he always criticizes his favorite target for. Mr. Angelos of course.

Ask anyone who knows Nestor. He's as cheap as they come.

Which is actually why he doesn't have any employees anymore.

Too cheap to pay anyone so they're all at 1057.

mike from catonsville     December 13
@Radio Guy, we can agree to disagree on the talent, that's why they make vanilla and chocolate.

To the "lazy" comment, you just wrote approximately 520 words in probably 3 minutes or less, maybe 4. The owner of this site writes about 1,000 , maybe , a day, 7 days a week and as I stated earlier that may take 2 hours for each one. Some more, some less. While Biff does not repeat, his actual contribution of the written "work" may be 14 hours/ week. I wouldn't call Biff lazy, not in the least, but by your standard you would. So why put that moniker on Nestor. I also stated there's so much more than just the written word and behind the scenes work, in both professions.

How many 105.7 on-air personalities go to away games? Or home games? How many actually go to a Caps game? You can argue content all you want , lazy is not an adjective I would use to describe Nestor.

We will just agree to disagree on this one.

Radio Guy     December 13

I can understand a bit your support of that entity. But let's be fair, he is a lousy broadcaster and from all accounts very lazy. 8 hours of content/week is way less than working hard. And since he drones on about himself in most of the interviews, it isn't informing. He doesn't book his guests, one of his part timers does. He is not the lead on sales calls, he has a COO who also is salesman, station cleaner, driver, email reader and wears lots of hats. We've heard first hand that he is NOT a hard worker and never has been.

He records ads...but even though he is told that they are recorded incorrectly, he just leaves them in the rotation. It is so lazy to not take out an ad for a business that is closed!

To be fair I listen at times JUST for the humor of the delusion. I might be odd, but I find his delusion that A. He is great at his craft. B. That he has any relevance. C. His constant mistakes. D. The ads with the many mistakes. E. His constant bashing of the competition. F. That he thinks that he is clever, funny and important, it is all just hilarious. I don't patronize any of his sponsors like I do here, in fact when he says something I find offensive I will give a shout to a sponsor to point it out, that they sponsor a hateful, spiteful man.

Add to this his usual rant about not taking phone calls. He knows the truth(there will be NO action in receiving calls) but came up with an excuse that is antithetical to his mission statement of this new, insane format. He claims to "do" radio this way to bring on the smartest, best informed and most relevant guests for his SMART radio listeners, "that is what is demanded in today's climate"......but those same listeners are "too stupid" for me to take their calls. It just doesn't jibe.

No doubt if he HAD ratings he would crow about them....when you don't? Bash the system in place. And have you read any of his "books"? They are all you need to know about his "talent". Remarkably poorly written and just are proof that he is lazy.

But his delusion has a place in Baltimore.....all of the other journalist's in town, they know what not to do. He is a joke amongst his peers...and that is a fact. He is truly Rodney. No one respects him.

Recently I was with 3 local sports guys at a function recently and the LF walked by. I asked "what's his story"? 2 laughed and the third rolled his eyes and said..."insane".

mike from catonsville     December 13
@OC Pat, nothing really, except that he gave them their start. Perhaps many of them owe him a debt of gratitude because if he didn't give them a chance they might be selling 13 game plans for the orioles, who knows.

Michael Jordan scored more in the pros than he ever did at Carolina, what's that tell you? I guess El Deano was a lousy coach?

Your comment makes no sense.

OC Pat     December 13
Drew and the rest of the radio voices who are no longer at "that station" are all doing better now than they were back then. What's that tell you?

Bob     December 13
@Brien re: bad NFL rules

I have a few that irritate me…

The auto 1st down on 5-yard defensive holding/illegal contact penalties that can turn 3rd and forever into 1st downs. They usually take place away from the play and at times have no effect on the receiver. If you want to penalize this action, make it 10 yards and replay the down unless the penalty enforcement results in a first down.

Combining live ball/dead ball penalties and offsetting them. Only in the NFL can a live ball penalty like face masking on the D be offset by a dead ball penalty by the O. Everywhere else they are enforced separately…and if the same team commits both a live ball and dead ball foul they are also enforced separately…ex: Artie Burns pass interference Sunday combined with what should have been an USC for removing his helmet should have resulted in both penalties being enforced (they never flagged him for removing his helmet) instead they will normally give the offended team an option on which to enforce.

Allowing the QB to throw the ball away (out of bounds) if he is out of the tackle box, yet penalizing him if he fails to throw it in play near a receiver… how is throwing a ball 10 rows into the stands not intentionally grounding the ball, last time I checked nobody in the stands is a player…IMO, it shouldn’t be allowed.

I am sure there a more…but that’s what I have…pet peeves and subject to debate of course.

Lee in Canton     December 13
Is that Ken W of local radio fame checking in?

JJ     December 13
Depending on your own opinion, we're talking about, possibly, the best baseball player in the history of the team. Best. Player. Ever.

That's what DF wrote today. It was him who used the word "possibly".

dan from virginia     December 13
I don't want to put words in Drews mouth but I don't think he is saying Manny is the best/greatest "Oriole" ever. I think he is saying he is the best baseball player the Orioles have had. I think you need to have an extended career in one city to be one of that teams greats, but you can be a great player that played on a certain team.

I don't think the Orioles will resign Manny so the most logical way to proceed is trade him now. In my opinion I think they should have tried at last years trade deadline. Even as great as he is or could be he only has one year left on his contract, that may deter some teams from offering more. Yes, I would cringe everytime I saw him in pinstripes if he was traded to Yankees but if they have the best overall deal that can truly help the Orioles for years to come it may be what has to be done. My biggest worry is I don't know if I have faith in whoever is making this huge decision for the clubs future.

Tom     December 13
Props to @Ken W. That's a funny line.

Rich     December 13
@Just Another Guy doesn't read very well. @Such said Manny wasn't "possibly" the best Oriole ever. That's the word we're debating: possibly. Yes, Machado "possibly" is the best O's player ever. There's no doubting that.

just another guy     December 13
@Rich@TG Manny may have more physical talent than Brooks, Frank, or Eddie (Cal is not in this conversation at all), but I agree with Such, that does not make him the best Oriole player ever. Let’s see Manny sustain the excellence for at least 10-12 years before we go with “best Oriole player ever”. Is he the most talented we’ve seen to date? Probably. I would say definitely better than Brooks or Eddie, but Frank Robby was one helluva talent, and, most importantly, he hustled every second he was on the field. To me, that has to matter for something. As does making all the routine plays, Manny “usually” does, Frank “always” did.

Ken W.     December 13
@I Like this Web site: How do you know WNST gets the best guests? They never get to say anything.

December 14
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duquette might say "yes" but what about peter?

Depending on which media member you believe, the Orioles might be on the verge of finalizing a deal for Manny Machado sometime soon.

Rumors were swirling on Wednesday night. "Five teams are interested and putting together an offer" was the most juicy of the speculation from Florida yesterday.

Five interested teams would be good. Really good. It would give Dan Duquette some leverage. Can you imagine calling the Red Sox and saying, "Well, unfortunately your offer isn't quite as intriguing as the one the Yankees just gave me..."?

But there's something no one is talking about. And it's the final piece of the puzzle that could very well negate all of Duquette's work at the winter meetings.

"I think people in town should be prepared for Peter to veto a Manny trade," a source associated with the club told #DMD on Wednesday. "For Peter, it always comes back to one thing: ticket sales. His biggest concern with a Machado deal would be losing the fan base. And seeing a drop in tickets. And lower revenues," the source said.

On the surface that might make sense, but how much, really, would the Orioles be losing if they shipped Machado off somewhere and the attendance went down by, say, 3,000 fans per-game?

At a $20.00 average ticket price, that's $60,000 a game or roughly $5 million a year in lost ticket revenue. Sure, those folks also buy beer, hot dogs and merchandise, but how much of that goes directly into the O's pockets anyway?

What's going to happen when Dan Duquette takes a bonafide trade offer for Manny Machado and puts it on the desk of owner Peter Angelos. "People should be prepared for Peter to veto a Manny trade," a source tells #DMD.

So, Peter Angels is really going to disapprove a Machado trade for the sake of five million bucks?

"I'd say it's 80/20 Peter wouldn't approve a trade," claims the source.

Why, then, would Duquette even be shopping the All-Star third baseman? Wouldn't he know going into the meetings that Machado would be an inviting trade piece at the meetings?

"Dan will claim the clubs called him first, which might be true," the source continues. "And by taking the trade to Peter's desk, Dan will be able to say to him, 'I'm just doing my job for you, Peter, but it's ultimately your call on the deal.'"

There's also the issue of sending Machado to an A.L. East contender, something the source says most certainly won't sit well with the owner.

"It's one thing if they were to trade him to Arizona or anyone out west," the source explains. "But I don't think Peter would ever O.K. a trade of this magnitude with the Yankees or Red Sox. He just can't knowingly help either of those two teams beat his team. It's just not the way he works."

Dealing him now would most certainly affect the team's off-season ticket plan push, which typically kicks into gear right after the holidays. Season ticket renewals might be impacted as would the sale of new full and partial plans.

It wouldn't bother me enough, personally, to consider not renewing my 13-game plan. I'm in whether they trade Machado or not. But I'm just one person. Others around town might feel differently if the club deals away their best player.

Actually, I'd probably be more disappointed if I (we) learned Angelos nixed a deal for Machado at the witching hour. But that's because I'm pro-trade at this point and think it's the best, smartest move the club could make. If Angelos stamps "NO GO" on the deal, I'd definitely frown at that news.

By waiting until the trade deadline next July to deal Machado, Angelos and the Orioles would have all that season ticket money banked and spent already. They'd likely not get the same haul for Machado next July as they would this week, but that's not really something the owner is concerned about. His biggest worry is losing ticket revenue for an entire season because of a December trade.

The other small part that might play into Angelos' decision would be corporate sponsorships and TV ad sales. Those elements will already be a tough enough sell this off-season after the club bottomed out and finished in last place in 2017. How much more difficult will it be to sell the Orioles in 2018 sans Manny Machado?

You're out of touch with reality if you think the Orioles will sell the same number of tickets and generate the same amount of corporate and TV revenue in 2018 after dealing Manny Machado this month.

It most certainly will impact the team's revenue next year.

There's a solid argument that the on-field product needs a Machado deal to happen, not necessarily for 2018, but 2019, 2020 and beyond. The Orioles simply can't afford to have Machado hang around for one more season, sign elsewhere next winter, and then get a 2nd and 5th round draft pick in exchange for his departure. They can't get better that way.

But trading him away is going to leave a dent in their revenue stream, at least for the time being.

This is where baseball meets business.

We, as baseball fans, say, quite easily, "Trade Machado and get some good young players for him..."

We're not paying the bills, though.

And it's not surprising that the guy who IS paying the bills sees a Machado trade much differently than all of us do.

Either way, Angelos will get torched. If he approves a Machado trade, the business end of the operation is impacted. If he nixes the deal and holds on to Machado, people bellyache about the owner getting involved and usurping the authority of his baseball people.

Baseball meets business. It's not as easy as it looks.

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As another classic (ahem) between the Ravens and Steelers rolled toward the end late Sunday, the NBC guys who produced and directed the game must have been happy with the graphic they displayed three hours earlier.

Prior to Sunday night, since 2002, the teams had played 34 times. Baltimore had 17 wins. Pittsburgh had 17 wins. The difference in scoring in those 34 games was a grand total of seven points.

Make it eight…

Astonishing, really, and made even more so by the relative success of each team compared to much of the NFL. Entering the 2017 season, the top seven NFL teams by total wins since 2002 came from seven different divisions; it’s the Ravens who were next.

Yes, the Steelers now have 164 wins since 2002, compared to 142 for the Ravens, but those numbers are somewhat skewed by the last three seasons, where Pittsburgh has 32 wins compared to only 20 for Baltimore.

The Ravens-Steelers rivalry has coincided nicely with the Harbaugh-Tomlin era, with each coach winning a Super Bowl and the NFL showcasing their AFC North battles on national television quite regularly.

Besides a couple of Super Bowls, two things have come to define the Ravens. One, of course, is defense. The other is the rivalry with the Steelers.

In a world where the “new” Cleveland Browns still look like an expansion team 18 years later, and the Cincinnati Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, the teams have really needed each other, to be honest. Even on the other side, though they’d never admit it.

Actually, they do sort of admit it, if you listen to the whole “we respect the Ravens” and “we have no respect for the Bengals” thing from Ben Roethlisberger and others last week.

And to think…it might not have been that way.

The Ravens, only six years old and still a bit of a pariah in 2002, were almost free agents when it came to divisional realignment.

When the expansion Texans joined the NFL that year, the league realigned into its current eight-division structure. That remains the format today, with the only difference being that both the (San Diego) Chargers and the (St. Louis) Rams now play in Los Angeles.

As part of an NFL settlement with the city of Cleveland, the new (1999) Browns were required to be in the same division with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati should any realignment occur. As for the original Browns, now wearing purple in Baltimore, there was no such requirement.

Geographically, Baltimore could have been placed in the East, like the Baltimore Colts were the day they left town. The Ravens easily could have been switched with Buffalo, a three-hour drive from both Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

Buffalo, no doubt, was keen on maintaining those rivalries that had existed since those days of the Baltimore Colts. The biggest one might have been with the Dolphins, particularly during the Dan Marino-Jim Kelly years. Those were the big AFC East games of my teenage years, not ones involving the Patriots.

And so, they stayed. And that hasn’t really worked out for them, thanks mostly to a sixth-round draft pick from Michigan and the failed coach of the Cleveland Browns.

I suppose I wouldn’t feel so bad if I were the Bills, since it hasn’t really worked out for the Jets or the Dolphins either.

With so little history, the Ravens easily could have been placed in new AFC South. Anybody that followed the team from the beginning knows that the biggest rivals from the AFC Central in those first six seasons were really Jacksonville and Tennessee, not Pittsburgh.

The Steelers had a 22-26 record from 1998-2000. Their quarterbacks were Kordell Stewart, Mike Tomczak and Kent Graham. As Baltimore was improving, Pittsburgh had a brief rough stretch. Mark Brunell and his receivers in Jacksonville and Steve McNair and Eddie George in Nashville were the guys to beat.

Geographically, Baltimore would have made as much sense in the “South” as Indianapolis. And Indianapolis’s rivalries, such as they were, were with the East, since the Colts hadn’t left that division after they stole out of Baltimore in the middle of the night.

I wonder what the history of the Ravens would look like if they’d spent the last 16 seasons in a division with the Titans, Jaguars and Texans. And what would those teams have done without fighting against Peyton Manning for so many years?

As for the North, when realignment came, did the Browns and Ravens really want to be in the same division? Did they really want to keep alive something that was painful on both sides?

I suppose, by that time, the answer was yes. They’d already been in the AFC Central together for three seasons; the Ravens, by winning the Super Bowl with their historic defense, had certainly developed an identity of their own.

At that point, the Browns probably thought they were on their way. They made the playoffs in their fourth year, beating the Ravens in Baltimore in the second-to-last week of the season. Fans in Cleveland had no reason to believe they’d be spending the next generation so far behind.

The Ravens, I’m sure, wanted to be in the same division as the Steelers. They knew what it would mean if they could be competitive with America’s second-favorite team.

Obviously, despite the last few years, they’ve held up their end of the bargain.

Like the Steelers, they’ve been stable. Since 2002, Pittsburgh’s had two coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin. The Ravens have also had two coaches, Brian Billick and John Harbaugh.

Cowher and Billick did enough in their coaching careers to become television stars; Tomlin and Harbaugh have been better.

In 2006, NBC debuted its Sunday Night Football package. Since then, Baltimore and Pittsburgh have played in that exclusive window seven times, including six years in a row from 2009 through 2014.

Sure, it would be great if the Ravens were chosen to play on Sunday night as often as the Cowboys, Steelers or Packers. But the Sunday night games against the Steelers have been some of the most important and most highly-rated in the 12 years of the package.

People have watched because it was a real rivalry, and they’ve continued to watch because the game often lives up to its billing, whether the Ravens or the Steelers are the ones who kick the game-winning field goal.

And it all might have been different, since the Ravens had no guarantees from the NFL.

You can’t debate the Ravens’ current mediocrity, and you can’t debate the Steelers’ current offensive juggernaut.

Tomlin’s team is better, whether Chris Boswell made that field goal or not last Sunday night.

You must admit it’s been kind of fun, though.

And don’t let the rest of the country or your local inferiority complex get in the way: The Ravens have had just as much to do with that as their mortal enemies in Western Pennsylvania.

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The Miami Marlins are standing the baseball world on its head.

They've already reshaped the balance of power in the A.L. East dramatically by shipping reigning N.L. MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees in exchange for a song and Starlin Castro....who is already being shopped around by Marlins' management.

Yesterday the St. Louis Cardinals filled one of their biggest holes when they picked up star outfielder Marcell Ozuna from Miami and gave up essentially nothing for it, despite having one of baseball's deepest farm systems.

The Marlins are no stranger to big sell-offs of course, but this one is uniquely indefensible. In 2012 the Fish moved quickly to shed contracts signed the year before in a misguided attempt to make a splash in free agency, but their 2011 team hadn't been very good and it was clear that guys like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle weren't cornerstones that could be built around.

Keeping them just for the sake of it wasn't going to help them win, and they weren't big enough stars to draw crowds just to see them play either.

After the 2003 World Series the Marlins dealt away essentially all of their key contributors, but they also got back a good many highly rated prospects, highlighted of course by multiple time All-Star Hanley Ramirez. Even their oft-maligned fire sale after winning the 1997 World Series was actually pretty defensible. People forget that the 1997 team had finished 9 games out of first place in their division, and the Braves went from winning 101 games in 97 to winning 106 games in 1998.

Giancarlo Stanton is now a member of the Yankees. Derek Jeter played his entire career with the Yankees and now helps run the Miami Marlins. And this isn't a "fishy" story?

The defending champions weren't a particularly good bet to even make it back to the postseason, let alone make another title run, and Kevin Brown was entering his walk year. They didn't ultimately get a lot back in those deals, but tearing the team down and attempting a rebuild actually made quite a bit of sense.

There's no such argument in 2017.

Miami had a good, young lineup in place, and only needed a middling starting pitcher or two to have a real shot at a wild card spot in the National League. And there isn't even the pretense of a baseball justification for these trades.

The Marlins aren't stockpiling young talent, they didn't acquire a single prospect in Baseball America's Top 100 list in exchange for Stanton or Ozuna. And they aren't even pretending that the payroll savings from moving Stanton's contract is going to be reinvested in the team.

Everyone is being perfectly open that the Marlins' ownership group has to cut salary (and not just player salary either, the Sherman and Jeter are so desperate to save cash they fired a scout with cancer while he was laying in a hospital bed last month) in order to repay their "investors," which in this case is just what really rich people get to call their creditors.

This is simply a disaster and an embarrassment for the game, and it's hard to imagine how the Miami market won't be killed off entirely by this episode, which will create its own set of problems in the not so distant future as the Marlins are locked into a brand new stadium deal. Marlins fans were briefly excited for the possibility of the days of Jeffrey Loria treating the team like a glorified ATM and baseball's revenue sharing payments as guaranteed profits...but it turns out that the Jeter-led group has already made Loria look like Art Rooney.

A number of people have suggested potential remedies the game should take, some of them extreme, but for the most part they're lacking because they don't focus on the real root of the problem.

I have toyed with the idea that commissioner Rob Manfred should have vetoed the Stanton trade given the Marlins' explicit motivation for the deal, and at least forced them to eat enough salary to get a legitimate prospect or two in return for him.

But that probably pushes the franchise into a cash flow situation it can't manage, and while I have less than no sympathy for Sherman/Jeter that will just create its own set of problems that would ultimately put most of the burden on Miami fans and taxpayers.

One local writer suggested that baseball should prohibit teams from sending "cash considerations" in trades, and instead require the acquiring team to take on all of the existing contract. But eating a portion of the sunk costs is an important tool for teams looking to trade a veteran who isn't helping them win, or at least won't be productive long enough to be a part of their next contending team.

What's more, eating larger amounts of salary is typically a way of commanding better prospects in return, and thus is an important tool for teams engaging in a legitimate rebuilding process.

But there is something that baseball should have done to prevent this months ago, and should do in the future to keep this from happening again: They should have refused to approve the sale of the Marlins to Sherman and Jeter in the first place.

Buying and selling a baseball franchise is a complicated mess, but basically all prospective buyers have to submit bids and the details of their finances to the league office for approval beforehand. That means that Manfred, and by extension, the other 29 ownership groups around the league were well aware that Sherman and Jeter were undercapitalized and couldn't afford to buy the Marlins for $1.2 billion.

A lot of commetators have made statements to the effect that the problem here is that the Marlins signed Stanton to a deal they couldn't afford, and that simply isn't true. The Marlins franchise absolutely could afford Stanton's contract, and Jeffrey Loria could afford the $295 million deal when he signed it.

What's changed is the team's ownership, and that the new owners cannot afford both Stanton's salary and the cost to pay off the piles of debt they incurred to buy the team, while making the level of short term profits they want to take (while also paying Jeter a $5 million salary as a team employee).

And that's on Manfred and the other owners' short-sighted recklessness. Because what rejecting the "winning" bid for the Marlins would have done was force the sale price to come down, likely ending up well below $1 billion before any interested party could honestly afford it. And that would mean every other franchise's valuation getting adjusted downward thanks to a disappointing sale price, which would endanger the massive bubble in franchise valuations owners in all of the major sports are currently riding.

The end result here isn't a lot better, and mark my words it's going to cost the rest of baseball A LOT of money to dig the Marlins out of the hole they're creating for themselves right now, but at least the owners have preserved their own perception that they can cash out on their own franchises for a massively inflated price before the bubble pops.

And then we'll go through this same routine in another major league baseball city.

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They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America. Note: 18 of the seats have been sold. We only have SIX seats remaining.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me:

December 13
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machado, orioles and baseball -- all to blame

Sometime late yesterday afternoon, a meme circluated on Twitter that had Manny Machado standing at third base, poised to receive a ground ball. But some wise guy had photoshopped a Yankees uniform on Machado.

That one stung a little bit.

On day one of baseball's winter meetings in Orlando, plenty of stories circulated about Machado, none of which were particularly thrilling if you're an Orioles' fan.

Machado wants to play shortstop, informed Buck Showalter of that at the end of last season -- OK, that's not a shock. But he knows that would create a litany of issues for the Orioles, so perhaps some pot-stirring would facilitate a trade somewhere else.

Orioles listening to offers for Machado -- Well, of course they are. That's what the winter meetings are for, after all. But Machado? Anyone but him...

The Orioles are apparently fielding trade offers for Manny Machado. And the worst part of it all? It's probably their best and only option at this point.

Duquette hasn't talked about a long-term deal with Machado's agent in a few years -- This one was probably the most unsettling to read, but it's not at all surprising. I'm sure several years ago Duquette inquired with Manny's agent about a long-term extension and was told, flatly, "We're going to free agency. Don't ask again."

This is quite a quandry the Orioles are in with regard to Machado.

Depending on your own opinion, we're talking about, possibly, the best baseball player in the history of the team. Best. Player. Ever.

And they're getting rid of him? At age 25? Say it ain't so...

But in all reality, the only thing the Orioles can do, at this point, is trade Machado. Nothing else really makes sense. I know, I know, "the Orioles should just give him $300 million and keep him."

Signing Machado isn't a possibility at this point. Mainly, there's no real indication he'd sign in Baltimore right now. It's one thing to say, "Give him $300 million", but Machado could simply say, "No thanks. I'll wait and see if I can get $350 million next winter."

And we're not even discussing whether or not the Orioles should fork over $300 million for Manny. (Side-bar: I say "no" to giving him $30-$35 million a year. But that's just me. I'll lay that all out for you some other time if you're interested.) The discussion topic is whether or not Machado would sign with the Orioles right now, before he reaches free agency.

I don't see any reason for Machado to sign a deal with the Orioles, or anyone, before he reaches free agency. And my guess is his agent has convinced Manny of that, too.

That's my guess as to why Duquette admitted yesterday the team hasn't discussed a long-term deal with Machado (through his agent) "in a few years". They were told, without question, they weren't interested in an extension and were headed to free agency. That's what the tea leaves are telling me.

So, if that's the case, there's only one thing left for the Orioles to do at this point.

They have to trade him.

Waiting this out and having him play in Baltimore for all of 2018 and then losing him to the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox or Tigers next winter is a dumb move. All the O's would get from that charade is a lousy draft pick. That's the worst of the angles the Orioles could play.

Sure, one more summer of watching Machado impersonate Brooks at third base wouldn't be a bad thing, but given the current structure of the roster and no real hope for major improvement this off-season, we'll be watching one of the best players in the league play for a 72-90 team in 2018 and there's not much joy in that, friends.

The Orioles have to deal Machado this winter.

It's just the way it is.

Peter Angelos will get a lot of heat for it. Gobs of fans will take to Facebook and Twitter and vow permanent disassociation with the franchise. "I'll never be an Orioles fan again!" they'll swear publicly.

But in this case, there's not really much Angelos can do or could have done to avoid this whole thing. The player has to want to sign a long-term deal. Machado doesn't want to do that.

Sure, Peter could say, "Make it $400 million!". But he's not doing that and neither is anyone else in baseball.

This is all about Machado doing one of two things: Getting the most amount of money he can and having the freedom to choose where he wants to play baseball for the next 5-10 years.

And you're lying if you're not willing to say you'd love the exact same set of circumstances to confront you in your life. Wouldn't you love to be in a position today where you -- satisfied at your current job but always interested in a better life for you and/or your family -- were presented with the option of shopping yourself to the highest bidder in your industry and knowing full well that you might quadruple your salary overnight and have it guaranteed for the next decade?

That's all Machado's doing with his eventual foray into free agency. I can't blame him for that.

Baseball created this possibility. Without a salary cap (forget that silly luxury tax thing, it works, a little, but the teams who want to spend $250 million still do it) or a way to artificially keep teams from "loading up", the clubs with the best TV deals and highest levels of revenue are always going to have the ability to fork over the most money for big-time players.

Industry sources said on Tuesday that the Yankees were interested in obtaining Machado.

You can't possibly be surprised by that, can you? They're the Yankees. They want all the best players. And the rules in baseball don't really prohibit them from thinking that way. The rules guide you away from spending $250 million on your roster, but they don't prohibit you from doing it.

So don't be surprised to see Machado wind up in pinstripes for 2018.

I'll admit it: That one would be tough to swallow.

But how many clubs out there are going to be willing to pass along two or three contract-controllable major league players (and really good ones) for one-year of Machado's service?

I have a feeling this is going to get quite messy. Somehow. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but my gut tells me this whole situation with Machado might get ugly.

That picture of him in a Yankees uniform yesterday was ugly enough.

Sadly, for the Orioles, they have to look at every option at this point.

And they have to make a deal.

Let's just hope it's a trade that makes the Orioles better.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

wednesday morning quarterback

It's hard to lose a game in more devastating fashion than the Ravens did on Sunday night, but we've seen that movie before, haven't we?

And conversely the shoe has been on the other foot, and Steelers fans only have to conjure up images of Torrey Smith reeling in a game winning touchdown to remember what it feels like to be on the other side of this particular coin.

It was a wild and crazy game where the Ravens showed off an ability to do a lot more than I think most of us thought they could, and though the Steelers are now the AFC North champions I think the Ravens still have to feel confident about their position.

Oddly, my feelings the day after the game were much higher after this loss than they were after the wins against the Packers and Texans.

Winner: The NFL

Boy, the NFL sure needed a game like that in a primetime slot, didn't they?

Pretty much everything went right for the scriptwriters: The game was close throughout but rather than a defensive slog filled with field goals the two offenses put up a bonanza of points. The game was extremely hard hitting and vigorously fought by a pair of bitter rivals with playoff dreams to defend, but it never degenerated to dirty or dangerous play like the previous weeks Steelers-Bengals game did.

Heck, I don't really remember the game ever getting chippy. Even when Sean Davis bodyslammed Ben Watson after the whistle everyone just kind of got up and went on with their business like they were giving him the benefit of the doubt that he hadn't seen Watson drop the ball and was just finishing the play. The score was a lot higher than we're used to, but that game was the Ravens-Steelers rivalry at its best, and Roger Goodell went to bed a very happy boy after that one.

Winner: Walt Coleman's fantasy owners

Well, almost everything went well for the NFL. The officiating in this game was just downright terrible, and Walt Coleman provided another data point for the theory that certain referees are throwing flags for the sole purpose of getting themselves more camera time, especially in primetime games.

The pass interference calls in particular were all over the map, and by the third quarter it looked like the refs were alternating between perplexingly confusing calls and bad calls to make up for the previous ones. The way the officiating detracted from what was otherwise one of the three or four best games the NFL has seen all season really should be a clarion call to the NFL to put the highest priority possible on fixing this issue before next season.

Giving up 39 points to the Steelers is understandable in some ways, but Ravens defensive coordinator has been getting major heat this week for the way his scheme defended Antonio Brown on Sunday night.

Loser: Dean Pees

I've mostly defended Dean Pees and think he's a pretty good defensive playcaller...but I have no idea how he can justify leaving Brandon Carr in one-on-one coverage with Antonio Brown of the Steelers' final drive after the way Brown had humiliated Carr throughout the rest of the game. I don't understand John Harbaugh's subsequent defense of it either.

I know the Ravens don't like to move cornerbacks around to match up with specific receivers, and Harbaugh is right that that tells the offense right away that you're in man coverage. But....the Ravens were in man coverage! And it wasn't particularly well disguised either, as Tony Jefferson immediately turned his hips to the middle of the field, giving Roethlisberger a single read of man coverage outside, at which point he just chucked it up for Brown to go get. Maybe Jefferson blew his assignment on the play, or maybe Pees thought he could catch Roethlisberger assuming the Ravens couldn't actually be stupid eough to leave Carr on an island with Brown and fool him that way.

Those are the only explanations I have that don't add up to an inexplicably stupid decision on the part of the defensive coordinator.

Loser: Tony Jefferson

Jefferson, on the other hand, doesn't get that much sympathy, because he's been a bust for nearly the entire season. But yet again I'm left wondering what exactly Jefferson is supposed to be doing well for this team. He broke down in coverage repeatedly, both in man and zone coverage, and was even made to look ridiculous in covering Roosevelt Nix, a fullback with a grand total of 5 catches over the past 3 seasons.

And yet again, he was the offender on more than one crucial missed tackle, and then seemed to get hung up in no man's land by misreading the play on Le'Veon Bell's second touchdown run. Jefferson has had a couple of good games so far this season, but on balance he's been the team's biggest disappointment and a major defensive liability.

Loser: Brandon Carr

First of all, let's acknowledge that Carr has been pretty darn good this season. He was signed to be a supporting cast member and he's lived up to his billing as a durable and reliable player. But in the past three weeks we've seen him look helpless against two of the NFL's best receivers, and by "helpless" I mean that he didn't look like he even belonged in the NFL. Watching Carr try to cover Antonio Brown in the second half was legitimately embarrassing, though that was at least mixed with feeling bad that he was being tasked with an assignment he clearly just couldn't handle.

Winner: Alex Collins

Another nationally televised game, another chance to shine for the breakout running back. Scored a touchdown to go with his 120 yards on the ground and continues to develop into a real weapon in the passing game with two catches, one going for a scintillating 37 yards.

Loser: C.J. Mosley

Yeah, there's going to be a lot of defensive players in this category, and Mosley earned his keep. Turned in a nice game in run defense to be sure, but he continues to be a massive liability in pass coverage, as he has for most of his career. Pittsburgh just abused the Ravens' defense with the tight ends and Bell working the middle early, which played a big role in forcing the Ravens to take some attention away from Antonio Brown.

Mosley's not the only reason for that, but as a former first round pick and a so-called star of the unit he really needs to be better at it. Stopping the pass is paramount in today's game, and the Ravens have a huge hole when it comes to routes and zones that have to be covered by linebackers. And at this point, it seems like a given that Mosley is going to be the next homegrown Raven to get a big contract extension that would have been better spent on a more valuable skill set.

Winner: Joe Flacco

Loss or no loss, it's hard to find much to fault Flacco for in Sunday night's performance. There was one bad interception early, but Joe rebounded from that to not only not turn the ball over again, but to make several nice throws and big plays as well. The touchdown pass he threw to Chris Moore, in particular, might be the best ball that Flacco has thrown all year.

So far, Flacco has responded to an incredibly bad performance against Houston with two outstanding efforts against playoff contenders in Detroit and Pittsburgh, which is a really encouraging sign for the team's chances of closing out the season with the three straight wins they'll need to punch a playoff ticket.

Winner: Matt Skura

The entire offensive line was excellent...again, but Skura really stood out for the work he did on the interior. He's grown into the right guard quite quickly since being forced to step in for Yanda, and assuming he slides over to the left guard slot when Yanda returns the Ravens might project to have the league's best offensive line next year. The unit just missed a second straight week without a single sack allowed before T.J. Watt ended the game by bringing down a desperately rolling Joe Flacco.

Loser: Jeremy Maclin

It's easy to forget that Maclin was actually pretty productive when he was able to play over the team's first 6-8 games....because he looks anything but over the last several weeks. It's really crazy how out of sync Maclin is with Flacco this late into the season. It's enough to make you wonder if there's something else going on behind the scenes between the two.

Winner: Chris Moore

On the other side of things, Moore is really starting to look the part of an NFL wide receiver. It started, believe it or not, with his role in catching passes from Sam Koch. On both of those plays he ran really nice timing routes and showed good fundamentals in hauling in the catch. Over the past couple of weeks he's started to show the same flashes with the regular offense, and as stated above his touchdown catch was a really nice play. He's not a "number one" guy, but he's turning into a viable third guy on the depth chart in his second season, and might even have a shot at the title of "best wide receiver ever drafted by Ozzie Newsome."

Winner: Marlon Humphrey

A quiet night for the most part, outside of one fantastic open field tackle, but that's usually a good thing when you're talking about corners. Really held his own in his biggest test to date as a professional, and should do a more than adequate job of filling in for Jimmy Smith against the Browns and Colts, at least.

Winner: Tyus Bowser

I remarked early in the game that Bowser (and Tim Williams) was another example of an Ozzie Newsome early round linebacker making no impact at all....and about 5 minutes later he sacked Ben Roethlisberger. Played a nice game, and with the team's limitations covering over the middle it would really be nice to see him get more reps inside on passing situations...even if it means taking Mosley off the field.

Loser: Dumb NFL rules

I mentioned this in the comments, and it seems like the refs did apply the rule correctly, but why should an offense have to forfeit a timeout for an injured player when the clock is already stopped? It makes sense in a situation where you might fake an injury or deliberately jump offsides to force a clock stoppage, but an incomplete pass had already done that when Jeremy Maclin stayed on the turf and required medical attention.

It's a little thing, I guess, but the NFL has a lot of dumb little rules like this that pop up here and there, and they really should take them more seriously. Imagine how much more intriguing that last 30 seconds would have been if the Ravens had that timeout and a realistic chance of getting into Justin Tucker's range thanks to the ability to use the middle of the field.

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stop by jerry's toyota tonight, please

It's that time of year where we do a lot of begging here at #DMD.

We need you and your help. And your winter apparel.

For the 8th straight year, I'm involved in a project that will benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. How can you help? I'm glad you asked.

Just go through your closet(s) and grab any jackets, coats, sweaters or sweatshirts you no longer wear and bring them out to us tonight at Jerry's Toyota, 8101 Belair Road in Fullerton. I'll be there from 5-8 pm to greet you and collect the apparel, and our friends at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square will be happy to give you some free Chick fil-A food coupons for your participation in our annual event.

There's a rumor floating around that my old radio buddy Glenn Clark might stop by at 5 pm tomorrow night to greet you as well.

We'll also be collecting apparel next week, too, at Glory Days in Towson on Monday, December 18th and at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh next Tuesday, December 19th.

Please come on out tonight and say "hi" at Jerry's Toyota and bring that winter apparel with you!

And here's a look at last year's event and the video that accompanied the entire Winter Apparel Drive.


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December 12
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issue 12
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fact and opinion, ravens style

FACT: In their last 12 meetings, the Ravens and Steelers have each won six games. And both teams have scored the identical amount of points -- 275 -- in those 12 games.

OPINION: Don't let those numbers fool you. Pittsburgh, currently, has a much better team than the Ravens. The records (11-2 vs. 7-6) tell you that and your eyes also tell you that. But here's the thing: The Ravens could go to Heinz Field in January and beat the Steelers there on a one-off occasion. It's the NFL. Weird stuff happens every week.

FACT: Jeremy Maclin coulda, shoulda, woulda caught the biggest pass of the game late in the 4th quarter on Sunday night, but he stepped out of bounds before hauling in a nifty sideline throw from Joe Flacco. A completed catch there and the Ravens would have been in position for a game-winning field goal attempt by Justin Tucker.

OPINION: That was an inexcusable mistake by Maclin. If he's not engaged in the game enough to make that kind of simple play, the Ravens probably should look for another wide receiver in the off-season. Antonio Brown makes that catch ten times out of ten. A shameful lack of professionalism from Maclin there, and perhaps the difference in Baltimore going to New England in the second round of the playoffs or back to Pittsburgh for a rematch (pending a first round win, of course).

FACT: Ravens All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda has missed most of the season with a broken leg.

OPINION: Yanda's replacement, Matt Skura, has quietly stepped in and done an admirable fill-in job for Yanda. He did miss some time with injury, but since returning to the lineup he's played well. And he's a center by trade, remember. As one team staffer said to me last week, "He'd be a starter for a lot of teams in the league."

On the Ravens' current roster, Terrell Suggs is one of just three players who is a virtual "lock" for the team's Ring of Honor someday.

FACT: The Ravens haven't inducted someone into the team's Ring of Honor since Ed Reed went in back in 2015.

OPINION: There are only three current members of the team who are definites based on the criteria established by the organization; Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda and Justin Tucker. Joe Flacco is as close to being in as he can get, but if the Ravens stick to the qualification-mandate of being named to at least one Pro Bowl, Flacco is not yet a qualifier.

FACT: The Ravens are 7-6 but have the easiest schedule of all the remaining AFC teams who are vying for a playoff spot. The combined record of the three teams they're facing to end the season is 8-31.

OPINION: There is actually a crazy way the Ravens could finish 10-6 and not make the playoffs. I guess this part is a "fact" and not an "opinion". If the Bills finish 10-6 and Tennessee and Jacksonville both finish 10-6, the Ravens would miss the post-season. At least that's what ESPN's "Playoff Machine" says, anyway. Oh, and my "opinion" is that Buffalo's not finishing 10-6 and the Titans and Jags aren't both finishing 10-6, either. So, basically, if the Ravens can end the campaign at 10-6, they're in the post-season. Unless...

FACT: In the Ravens' last five games, tight end Ben Watson has 14 catches for 127 yards. That's a five-game total. On Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the Steelers' two tight ends combined for 14 catches for 149 yards.

OPINION: The Ravens need some better tight ends. And please don't tell me about Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams.

FACT: In Sunday night's loss to the Steelers, the Ravens got Danny Woodhead involved in seven total plays. He ran the ball twice for 7 yards and was targeted on five throws, catching four of them for 29 yards.

OPINION: It's such a shame the Ravens can't use Woodhead the right way. He'd be a valuable asset for Flacco and the offense if they'd involve him more.

FACT: Cornerback Brandon Carr was torched most of the night on Sunday in Pittsburgh. That sounds like an opinion, but it's a fact.

OPINION: He's been getting a lot of heat over the last couple of days, but Carr wasn't brought to Baltimore to be covering Antonio Brown one-on-one in a mid-December game with the Ravens playoff hopes on the line. The guy is basically a complimentary player at best. I didn't quite understand John Harbaugh's explanation at the Monday press conference, re: why Humphrey wasn't shadowing Brown more during the game. Carr was really struggling. Why not give Humphrey more of the Brown marking assignment? If Martavis Bryant burns Brandon Carr and Bryant winds up beating you, so be it.

FACT: Linebacker Matthew Judon has enjoyed a breakout second season with the Ravens in 2017.

OPINION: Unfortunately, Judon has a little bit of C.J. Mosley's "cover-itis" going on in that he's not very adept at staying with his man in passing situations. Mosley still struggles with it and he's a 4-year veteran. Hopefully Judon picks it up faster than Mosley has.

FACT: The Ravens are heavily favored to beat the Browns this Sunday, initially installed as a 7.5 point favorite in Vegas.

OPINION: It's really hard for a team to go 0-16 in the NFL. That's a bothersome note if you're a Ravens fan looking ahead to this Sunday's game in Cleveland. You can close your eyes and see this one developing: Josh Gordon has a couple of wild touchdown catches, Alex Collins fumbles a ball deep in Cleveland territory and the Browns keep themselves in the game, almost by accident. The Ravens offense sputters, a couple of ill-timed penalty flags get thrown, Flacco has an off-day, and suddenly the Browns are clinging to a 17-16 lead with two minutes left. The Ravens have the ball on their own 21 yard line. You can fill in the rest...

stop by jerry's toyota tomorrow night, please

It's that time of year where we do a lot of begging here at #DMD.

We need you and your help. And your winter apparel.

For the 8th straight year, I'm involved in a project that will benefit the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. How can you help? I'm glad you asked.

Just go through your closet(s) and grab any jackets, coats, sweaters or sweatshirts you no longer wear and bring them out to us tomorrow (Wednesday) night at Jerry's Toyota, 8101 Belair Road in Fullerton. I'll be there from 5-8 pm to greet you and collect the apparel, and our friends at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square will be happy to give you some free Chick fil-A food coupons for your participation in our annual event.

There's a rumor floating around that my old radio buddy Glenn Clark might stop by at 5 pm tomorrow night to greet you as well.

We'll also be collecting apparel next week, too, at Glory Days in Towson on Monday, December 18th and at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square in White Marsh next Tuesday, December 19th.

Please come on out tomorrow night and say "hi" at Jerry's Toyota and bring that winter apparel with you!

And here's a look at last year's event and the video that accompanied the entire Winter Apparel Drive.


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Todd Schoenberger promises to deliver provocative commentary on the world of Baltimore sports. His no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style of writing is certain to leave readers debating and disputing, but always thinking. Be sure to follow Tuesdays with Todd!

Twitter: @TMSchoenberger

There is nothing wrong with mediocrity.

Living an average life has enormous benefits. For one, you don’t have the relentless demands of wanting more for yourself and being expected by others to outperform.

You’re basically even-Steven.

In the world of sports, playing at par is perfect. You’ll win some, and you’ll lose some. But you’ll almost always be satisfied with the result.

Are you tired of all those titles yet, Boston?

For example, can you even possibly imagine being a fan of the New England Patriots? Before every season, the Pats are always the favorite to win the Super Bowl. And, sure, they have a handful of Championships, but those expectations have to get old.


Being elite is not all that it’s cracked up to be. So, it’s good we’re fans of our awesomely-average Baltimore Ravens. Giving a solid effort and trying really, really hard is all we want from our boys.

Anything more in the form of success is sure to bring on a series of raised-eyebrows as we begin to wonder what the team’s real motivation is. Ravens Nation seems happy with a good old-fashioned football game where the players sip on Capri Sun and snack on orange slices after the game.

It’s all Kumbaya, baby!! And likely the new normal for the pro football franchise representing Charm City.

OK, here's the truth: I don’t like it, and I’m sure you don’t either.

There’s an element of civic pride we show on our sleeves when the Ravens win; and everyone expects greatness. However, after listening and reading the Ravens’ beat of journalist’s take on the loss to the Steelers, the casual fan may begin to think the defeating result was satisfactory on the streets of Baltimore.

For example, WBAL’s Keith Mills said — repeatedly — how the fans should be “optimistic” because the offense was able to score 38 points. Never mind that Pittsburgh was missing a crucial piece to their defense. In Mills’ mind everything is great because the offense actually played, well, offense.

The gurus on 105.7 The Fan were quick to point out on Monday how the Ravens can end a two-year playoff drought by winning their final three regular-season games, which they’ll “obviously” be favorite in.


Under Coach Harbaugh, the Ravens are 5-4 in games following a loss to Pittsburgh. The team is depleted—emotionally and physically. And now we have to travel to Cleveland; back-to-back AFC North road games.

And don’t even give me that nonsense about the Browns being winless, which makes this Sunday a “lock.” We all know there are no guarantees in the NFL and this weekend may be the toughest of the final three for the Ravens.

The Steelers loss, though, is crystal clear evidence how the Ravens cannot compete against the squads in the upper echelon of the NFL. I’m not speaking about this season; but all time. Baltimore is inferior when it comes to championship caliber teams like the Patriots and Steelers. The fans want the Ravens to win, but deep down we know it’s always going to be a long shot.

How many of you are concerned about Sunday’s game against Cleveland? Based on the calls coming in to the Baltimore sports talk shows yesterday, the feeling is many in Ravens Nation are deeply worried the team will lose to the Browns.

In New England and Pittsburgh, it’s doubtful you would ever find a fan base so petrified of playing Cleveland. Yet again, the Ravens are average and being worried about losing to an 0-13 team is typical of a mediocre culture.

Down the stretch in Sunday’s game, I was wondering if it was Mornhinweg or Marchibroda calling the plays. Talk about choking? Teams that play it safe and take their foot off the gas pedal are attributes found in teams hoping to win; not expecting to win.

And, finally, the lack of situational awareness by the coaches and players - you know, the guys who are supposed to be professionals in the sport of football — should be a valid reason for termination. Why is it the starting quarterback and head coach were unaware of the running clock rule when the ball was fumbled out of bounds? In my mind, there is no excuse for that kind of negligence.

However, careless mistakes by so-called leaders are normally discovered on average teams in the NFL, aren't they?

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the electric light orchestra next august!

One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

The great Jeff Lynne of ELO, coming to Philadelphia in August!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

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December 10
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issue 10
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that one will leave a mark

So, #DMD went a perfect 5-0 in "Show Me The Money" yesterday. Just in time to help you out with some extra Christmas shopping money.

What, you'd rather me chronicle yet another heartbreaking Ravens loss to the Steelers? Really?

OK then, I will.

"Heartbreaking" might be a kind way of putting it.

But it's the easiest, quickest way to summarize last night's 39-38 loss at Heinz Field, where the Ravens held an 11-point lead entering the fourth quarter and somehow squandered it with equal parts poor coaching and poor play.

Where to start?

Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger shredded the Baltimore defense for 505 yards in the air on Sunday night as he rallied the Steelers from a 38-29 fourth quarter deficit to win, 39-38.

Let's do this first just so we're not accused of failing to give credit where credit is due.

Ben Roethlisberger had a virtuoso performance on Sunday night, going 44-for-66 for 506 yards in the air. He's the first quarterback in league history to throw for over 500 yards in three games. Not that he needed more fuel for his Hall of Fame fire, but throw a half-dozen logs in the pit for last night's effort.

Antonio Brown is virtually unstoppable. He had 11 catches last night for 213 yards. As crazy as this sounds, he might very well be the MVP of the National Football League this year. Seriously.

Le'Veon Bell had his moments, too, but the night belong to Roethlisberger and Brown. If you're one of those people who can't see fit to ever compliment the other team, you're having an especially tough time today. If you understand the number one axiom in sports -- "the other team tries, too" -- you have to tip your hat to the quarterback and wide receiver in Pittsburgh. They're all world.

Now -- to the team and players we care about, the ones who arguably deserved a better fate last night after a stirring comeback and second half rally had them thinking about the possibilities of securing the #5 seed in the AFC playoff race.

All the sudden now, the Ravens are once again in a dogfight just to reach the post-season.

It all fell apart in the fourth quarter. Some will say the Ravens choked. Those words hurt, but they might be true in this case. Up eleven points early in the fourth quarter and then up by nine with 6:44 to play, the Baltimore defense just had no answer down the stretch for anything the Steelers sent their way.

Sadly, despite scoring 38 points, the Ravens offense and coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are going to get their fair share of blame today as well. And it's actually somewhat justified.

We'll get to that shortly.

Excuses are for losers, of course, but the absence of Jimmy Smith crushed the Ravens. Sure, not having Ryan Shazier obviously hurt the Steelers last night as well. With Smith and Shazier both playing, that final score might have been more like 27-26. But no Jimmy Smith in the secondary was the fatal blow for Baltimore.

Brandon Carr got beat so much last night the Ravens have already listed him as doubtful for next Sunday's game in Cleveland with second degree burns. It was ugly. He tried hard, as John Harbaugh will no doubt remind us today at his press conference, but he looked like a JV call-up playing with the big boys for the first time.

Dean Pees started the game with an obvious game plan. Double team Antonio Brown on every snap, which seemed smart but clearly limited the team's ability to send defensive backs and linebackers in on blitz calls.

When the Steelers started dinking and dunking at will because Roethlisberger had so much time, Pees made a halftime adjustment and started sending pressure in the third quarter. It worked for a while, but eventually the failure to double team Brown in favor of more outside defensive pressure caught up to the Ravens. It was only a matter of time.

C.J. Mosely was again sharply out of his element in pass coverage situations. The two Pittsburgh tight ends -- Jesse James and Vance McDonald -- combined for a whopping 14 catches for 149 yards on the night. Not all of those were Mosely's responsibility, of course, but he was definitely picked on throughout the game and was rarely up to the task.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the Ravens tight ends -- whoever they are -- combined for one catch for one yard. That's true, you can look it up.

The game really came down to the final six minutes.

Baltimore led 38-29 after a Buck Allen touchdown run and it looked like a win was in the books. Just get a defensive stop on the ensuing Pittsburgh possession and that's all she wrote. Right? Wrong.

Despite the Baltimore offense ringing up 38 points on Sunday night, Marty Mornhinweg and John Harbaugh will face questions about the team's next-to-last offensive series.

The Steelers marched right down the field on an 8-play drive that took all of 3:15 and it was suddenly 38-36. No problem, though. All Flacco and the offense needed to do was pick up a first down or two and kill the clock.

Easy, right? Apparently not.

Here's how the final few minutes unfolded: The Ravens got the ball back with 3:29 left in the game. Pittsburgh had all three of their timeouts remaining. How they would have used them is conjecture, so we won't do that here.

On their first play from scrimmage, the Ravens went to the air. Why? No one knows. I'm sure Harbaugh and Mornhinweg, when pressed today, will say "We were trying to win the game", which seems like a reasonably smart thing to say.

Why not give the ball to Alex Collins on first down to see if he could do what he had been doing all night -- gouging the Pittsburgh defensive interior for chunks and chunks of yards?

They actually did do that on second down and he picked up seven easy yards.

But on first down, Flacco went to the air and missed his target, stopping the clock and allowing the Steelers to hang on to their valuable time-outs.

After the Collins 7-yard run on second down, Flacco threw another incomplete pass and the Ravens had used up exactly 64 seconds of valuable game time.

Giving Roethlisberger and his cast of weapons the ball back with 2:25 to play in a one-point game is akin to giving Elton John a piano and saying, "Sing me a song." You know greatness is coming next.

Why the Ravens didn't just call three running plays there and feed Collins the ball is a great mystery to me. Worst case scenario you get nothing and force Pittsburgh to use their time-outs. Best case you get a first down and the game is nearly salted away.

Either of those was far better than what the Ravens wound up doing: Throwing two incomplete passes, stopping the clock in the process, and giving the Steelers plenty of time to work their magic.

Following a Sam Koch punt, Pittsburgh faced an immediate major hurdle after a sack by Tony Jefferson and Terrell Suggs set up a 2nd and 19 situation. Roethlisberger then threw a short dump off pass that picked up six yards just before the two-minute warning, leaving them with a 3rd and 13 at their own 14 yard line.

The next play was the beginning of the end. Big Ben found Jesse James in the seam, with Tony Jefferson and Matthew Judon both failing to get themselves in good position, and the Steelers had their much-needed first down and some breathing room with just under two minutes to play.

They'd eventually get into field goal position thanks mostly to a 34-yard completion to Brown, and even then, the Steelers bungled the final minute of play, as they threw a pair of senseless passes that were both incomplete, helping the Ravens get the ball back with 42 seconds remaining in the game after Chris Boswell's field goal put Pittsburgh up by a point.

Had the Steelers run the ball three straight times after the long catch by Brown, they would have been able to get the game clock down to roughly ten seconds before their final game-winning kick attempt.

Instead, Joe Flacco got the ball back with 42 seconds to play, needing a field goal to pull off the win.

They managed five plays in that time span, including a long throw to Jeremy Maclin on the sideline that would have been more than enough to trot out Justin Tucker. Alas, Maclin stepped out of bounds before hauling in the pass. I'll say it since I know you're thinking it: Antonio Brown would have made that catch every time. Every. Single. Time.

On the very next play, T.J. Watt knocked the ball out of Flacco's hands and the clock expired. Ballgame. The Ravens, up 11 points in the fourth quarter, had somehow once again squandered a critical game in Pittsburgh.

That was a long-winded way of saying this about last night's game: Pittsburgh's offense, particularly at home, is a devastating unit. They have three likely Hall of Fame players in Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown. Beating them over 60 minutes is a tall, tough task.

In order to overcome them, you have to be on-point in virtually every aspect of your game. The Ravens were in it until the very end, but the loss of Jimmy Smith, in particular, was just too much for them to work around.

And now, John Harbaugh's team has to play error-free football over the final three games of the regular season. One mistake, one slip-up, one loss to a bottom feeder like Cleveland, Indianapolis or Cincinnati and, well, I don't think I want to consider what the fallout might be from that kind of scenario.

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here's what the afc looks like

It's all going down to the wire. I think we know that.

The Ravens can likely secure the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs by simply winning their final three games. And let's call it like it is: If Baltimore can't beat the Browns, Colts and Bengals, they don't deserve to make the post-season.

But what about the others? Here's where they stand and who the play. Right now, Tennessee owns the 5th seed and Buffalo is the 6th seed.

Tennessee (8-5) -- at San Francisco, vs. L.A. Rams, vs. Jacksonville

Buffalo (7-6) -- vs. Miami, at New England, at Miami

Kansas City (7-6) -- vs. L.A. Chargers, vs. Miami, at Denver

L.A. Chargers (7-6) -- vs. K.C. Chiefs, at NY Jets, vs. Oakland

Oakland (6-7) -- vs. Dallas, at Philadelphia, at L.A. Chargers

For the Ravens, it's mostly all about Buffalo at this point, but there's still a chance that Baltimore could leapfrog into that 5th seed. Tennessee's schedule isn't all that easy, with the suddenly revitalized 49'ers up next and home games against the Rams and Jaguars to close out the season.

The Bills would have to win out, which means they'd need to go into New England win in two weeks. And that's obviously not going to happen.

One of the three AFC West teams is getting in as the division winner and the other (because they play one another) will have at least seven losses, so they can't beat out Baltimore as long as the Ravens run the table and finish at 10-6.

For the Ravens, three straight wins gets them in. Two wins probably has them on the outside looking in. And if they can manage to win their final three and something weird happens in Nashville, the Ravens could win up as the five seed and play the AFC West winner in the opening round of the playoffs.

Los Angeles in January sounds kind of nice right about now. Anyone up for a road trip?

KELLY banner ad

we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Please note this change to the Chick fil-A drop off-date: Tuesday, December 19, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

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Week 14

Sunday — December 10, 2017
Volume XXXXI — Issue 10

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

8:30 PM EST

Heinz Field

Spread: Steelers -4.5

ravens have done it before at heinz field

Sure, the number of critical wins at Heinz Field during the Harbaugh-Flacco era favors the Steelers. There's no need to chronicle them all here.

But the Ravens have done their fair share of damage in Pittsburgh since 2008, winning both in the regular season and playoffs.

And this evening would be a great time for the Ravens to once again come out on top in the Steel City.

A victory tonight would do a number of things for Baltimore.

It would keep them alive in the AFC North division title race, for starters. A Ravens win moves them to 8-5 and drops the Steelers to 10-3. Baltimore will then likely finish out the season with three wins, beating the woeful Browns in Cleveland next Sunday and then ending the campaign with home wins over Indianapolis and Cincinnati. That gets the Ravens to 11-5.

A win in Pittsburgh tonight would virtually guarantee the Ravens a playoff spot, which would make this man very happy.

Pittsburgh hosts New England next Sunday, then travels to Houston and finishes the season with a home game against Cleveland. Pittsburgh could easily finish 11-5 as well, although it's not likely.

Tonight, then, is huge...if the Ravens harbor any hopes of winning the division, that is.

A Pittsburgh victory this evening and that's it for the AFC North. The Steelers clinch the division by beating the Ravens.

Other than that, the game tonight isn't really all that critical for the Ravens. Really, it isn't.

A loss tonight and three wins to end the season will put them at 10-6 and should be enough to snag the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture.

Would it be nice for Baltimore to win tonight? Of course. But it's not 100% necessary.

Try telling that to Terrell Suggs, right?

A win this evening also gives the Ravens some real momentum heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. It would start to look and feel a lot like 2012 around here, when the Ravens finished 10-6 before winning four straight post-season games en route to the Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

A win is a win in the NFL, but the Ravens have been beating up on JV teams the last few weeks. They smashed a quarterback-less Green Bay team on November 22, beat a barely mediocre-Houston squad eight days later and embarrassed the woeful Lions last Sunday in Baltimore. Hardly a murderer's row of opponents there.

Tonight would be akin to beating the Kings of Leon in a "Battle of the Bands" event. The Steelers are legit, even without Ryan Shazier and JuJu Smith-Schuster, America's new favorite player for that ferocious hit he put on Vontaze Burfict last Monday night.

If the Ravens can go into Pittsburgh and win this evening, they can start considering themselves a potential playoff threat in the AFC.

Alas, it won't be easy.

The Steelers boast perhaps the two best skill position players in the NFL in wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell. As the familiar saying goes: You can't stop them, you can only hope to slow them down.

For the Ravens, it's their own offensive production that will matter most tonight, one would think. Unlike the old days, when a typical Ravens-Steelers encounter might finish up at 13-10 or 17-13, this one will likely require the winner to score at least 24 points. For the Steelers, that's not an overwhelming task, especially at home.

The Ravens have scored over 23 points on the road just once in six tries thus far in 2017.

They'll need to put on their best offensive display to get this one in the win column tonight.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has lots of reasons to take this one ultra-seriously tonight.

They could still finish with the top seed in the AFC and host all playoff games. A visit from Tom Brady and the Patriots looms next Sunday that will ultimately tell that story, but a win tonight keeps them in prime position for playoff football at Heinz Field in January.

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keys to the game

For the Ravens --

Run the ball, extend drives, shorten the game -- You might think that's three "things" there, but it's really all tied into one element of the game: Keeping Pittsburgh's offense off the field. Thus, the Ravens need to run the football (successfully). They'll need to be effective on third down. And they'll need to do their best to keep the clock moving and shorten the game. Of course, scoring points in the midst of all that also helps.

Use the middle of the field when throwing -- It's never a bad idea to take some deep shots on that wobbly Pittsburgh secondary, but the main effort when throwing the ball tonight should be using the middle of the field to take advantage of Shazier's absence. Those throws are best made in the pocket, though, and often happen quickly, so protection for Flacco has to be on point. And Joe has to get rid of it quickly, which is typically hit or miss with him. Ben Watson should be a favorite target of Joe's tonight. I can't even believe I'm saying this, but short throws across the middle are actually sensible for -- you sitting down? -- Breshad Perriman. Whatever the case, the Ravens need to use the middle of the field this evening.

Take Brown out of the game if you can -- It's "pick your poison" with the Steelers. If you try and shut down Antonio Brown, you might be exposing yourself to damage from Le'Veon Bell. And vice versa. But the way the Steelers play, especially at home, your best effort should be made to keep Brown from being the difference in the game. That's obviously going to be much harder for the Ravens to do to tonight with Jimmy Smith out, but a double-team on Brown whenever he's on the field is the obvious way to attack him.

For the Steelers --

Mix up the passing game -- The smartest thing for the Steelers to do is get the ball in everyone's hands. Brown, Bryant, James, even Eli Rogers, if he can figure out how to catch it. The Ravens will have to double Brown, so they can only afford single coverage on the other two receivers if they play three of them at the same time. That means a linebacker has to be on the tight end, James, which isn't a favorable match-up for the Ravens.

Convert on 3rd down -- Keeping the Ravens defense on the field is critical for the Steelers. To do that, they'll need to be successful on 3rd down. The Ravens have showed time and time again that their formula for winning is directly tied into how well they handle 3rd down situations on defense.

Throw on first down -- The Ravens typically have Brandon Williams in the game on first and second down, then take him out on 3rd down, particularly if it's an obvious passing play. Pittsburgh would be smart to throw a bit on first down and take advantage of Williams -- a terrific run stopper -- being on the field when they're throwing the ball. Williams can change the game with his run-stopping abilities but against the pass, he's much less adaptive.

how drew sees today's game

Do I think the Ravens can win tonight? Of course.

There's a significant talent gap on offense, but Baltimore's defense is better than Pittsburgh's. And as we saw a few weeks ago when a feeble Green Bay offense put up 28 points on the Steelers, you can definitely attack their defense.

If the Ravens can somehow contain Antonio Brown tonight, their chances of winning increase dramatically. How's that for "dumb statement of the day"?

The Ravens have done it before at Heinz Field, so it's not like they don't have some amount of history working in their favor.

I most certainly wouldn't be shocked to see John Harbaugh's team win tonight.

But I don't see it happening, unfortunately.

In the end, I don't think the Ravens can handle Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell. They might be able to muffle them, but they won't be able to keep them quiet all night long.

It will stay close throughout and I'm expecting Joe Flacco to have a step-up-in-class game tonight, with passing totals near 300 yards and a touchdown throw. Alex Collins will rush for 95 yards and scamper in for a score of his own.

The Steelers will turn the ball over just enough to keep the Ravens in it and interested. Roethlisberger will do what he usually does; he'll make some great throws and he'll have a ball or two get batted up in the air at the line of scrimmage and the Ravens will pick one of those off, at least.

Ultimately it will come down to Brown and Bell. And they'll do just enough to give the Steelers a 27-23 victory at Heinz Field.

I sure hope I'm wrong.

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show me the money

For those of you who have played the #DMD picks over the last month, I hope that new beach house in Florida is treating you well. I expect an invitation to your member-guest in 2018.

Another 4-1 effort last Sunday has "Show Me The Money" on a scorcher of a hot streak now, as we've moved above .500 for the season, not to mention operating at .675 clip since early November.

We're sort of like the Patriots now. We win every Sunday...

We owe this continued money-grab to our "Super Expert Insider", who rescued us in early November and is now in the lead for #DMD Employee of the Year honors.

On we go to this week's slate of games, where we'll now work on funding that new built-in-pool you and your family have been craving for so long.

49'ERS AT TEXANS (-3.0) -- In terms of least amount of combined wins, this stinker of a contest is tied with the Cleveland/Green Bay game with a grand total of 6. Here's the easy part of this one: Jimmy Garoppolo gives the 49ers a fighting chance. Maybe not so much with his talent, but with the fact that the game means something to him. I expect the 49'ers to play hard again today and we're going with San Fran and the three points with Houston winning a tight one, 21-20.

COLTS AT BILLS (-3.0)-- The Bills won’t take many chances today if Peterman has to play, so look for a heavy dose of LeSean McCoy against Indy. With Pagano a virtual lame duck, and Buffalo’s playoff chances still slim but alive, I have to believe the Bills give a solid effort. Indy's going nowhere and they'll play like it today as the Bills cover the three points in a 24-20 win.

RAIDERS AT CHIEFS (-4.5) -- With KC having such a lousy defense, giving 4.5 points away to Oakland doesn’t seem to be a sound decision. But this game is KC’s Super Bowl. Their season relies on the outcome of this home contest. The refs took a win away from KC the last time these two met. They won’t leave it up to the zebras this time around, as the Chiefs cover the 4.5 points and win outright, 34-27 to stay alive in the AFC West.

BEARS AT BENGALS (-6.5) -- This game features the two worst offenses, in terms of yards per game, in the NFL. It could be a let-down week after the grueling Bengals-Steelers game on Monday night. Burfict, Vigil, Jones and Mixon are all out. Cinci’s season is over, and it’s goodbye to Marvin Lewis. We'll take the Bears and the 6.5 points, as they beat the Bengals 23-20.

COWBOYS (-3.5) AT GIANTS -- This is a game Dallas has to have in order to stay alive for the post season. The Giants have a long list of injuries and the quarterback issue doesn’t help. Is this game a bit too obvious? When everyone is on one side (and that side is the favorite) Vegas usually cleans up. That being said, New York can’t score enough to win this game, as Dallas covers the 3.5 points in a 26-13 road victory.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- We'll take the Cowboys and the 3.5 points they're giving the Giants in today's Best Bet wager.




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we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Please note this change to the Chick fil-A drop off-date: Tuesday, December 19, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

December 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxi
issue 9
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

ravens-steelers won't be the same once big ben is gone

Savor this one tomorrow night, folks.

Who knows? It could be the last time the Ravens and Steelers meet up with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback for Pittsburgh.

And that would be a shame.

In some ways, it wouldn't be a shame. The Ravens will be happy to see Roethlisberger exit the scene, finally, after a Hall of Fame career that has featured a bunch of big wins over the Ravens.

But the permanent removal of Roethlisberger from the rivalry will most certainly take it down a few notches. Simply put, Ravens-Steelers won't be the same without Roethlisberger behind center.

Roethlisberger hinted last spring that he might retire prior to the 2017 campaign, but he found his way back and has led Pittsburgh to a 10-2 mark thus far. But the wear and tear on his tires is quite evident now, and there's little doubt his run is nearly over. Perhaps he comes back for a 2018 swan-song, or maybe this is it.

Could tomorrow night's game in Pittsburgh be the final time the Ravens see Ben Roethlisberger?

If 2017 is his final campaign, though, you suspect he would have announced that prior to the start of the season. Roethlisberger, as the folks in Pittsburgh will tell you, enjoys a slice or two of drama-pie on his plate. Not announcing his retirement prior to the season would have robbed him of four months of farewell talk, which most people who follow him and the team believe he would like to hear and read.

But who knows how something like what we saw with Ryan Shazier last Monday night affects Roethlisberger or any player(s), for that matter. They might witness an injury of that nature and say, "You know, that's a sign that it might be time for me to step away..."

And Roethlisberger has had his fair share of knocks over his career. Injuries take their toll on everyone.

So, while I'm guessing that 2018 will mark the final season of his career, there's always a chance he finishes 2017 and says, "Big Ben's had enough." Some of that decision could be based on what the Steelers accomplish this season, too. If (gulp) Pittsburgh were to somehow win the Super Bowl this February in Minneapolis, it would be a lot easier for Roethlisberger -- or any aging veteran on the fence about retiring -- to walk away at that point.

That's exactly what happened with the Ravens' Matt Birk back in 2013. He was thinking about getting out of the game following the 2012 season. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in New Orleans, that was the final motivation he needed to put a cap on his career.

There's no telling what Roethlisberger is really thinking, but the bet here is he comes back for one more season if Pittsburgh doesn't win the Super Bowl in a few months.

But given that there's always a chance of any player saying "enough is enough", savor tomorrow night's battle in Pittsburgh. Like him or hate him, Roethlisberger has been a monster competitor for the Steelers since 2004.

If you love the rivalry, you can't help but respect what Roethlisberger has done to help make it great.

One thing for sure: Ravens vs. Steelers won't be the same once he's no longer behind center in Pittsburgh.

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this, that and the other

Don't look now, but the Washington Capitals are engaged in their annual December surge-up-the-standings, as the Caps won their fourth straight last night, beating the Rangers in D.C., 4-2.

Washington concluded a 5-game homestand by beating four solid teams in succession; Columbus, San Jose, Chicago and the Rangers. The Capitals are now tied with Columbus for the Metropolitan Division lead at 37 points, although Washington has played one more game than the Blue Jackets.

The Caps face the Islanders in Brooklyn, NY on Monday night, return home to take on Colorado on Tuesday, travel to Boston for a Thursday night encounter, and host Anaheim next Saturday. That's four games in six nights. That's a lot of hockey.

Alex Ovechkin is off to a terrific start in 2017-2018. Sure, he scored 7 of his current total of 21 goals in the first two games of the season, but #8 has played well throughout the campaign.

Last season, Ovechkin tallied 33 goals in 82 games. He'll likely have that many by the middle of January this season. And, most importantly, a year ago he only scored a dismal 16 "even strength" goals over the course of those 82 games. This season? He already has 15 even strength tallies.

Here's the disclaimer, though, and you know it's coming. What the Caps (and Ovechkin) do in the regular season doesn't matter at all. Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. That's the only important thing for the Capitals. Sure, they have to get there first, but no one cares any longer about what Washington does in the regular season. It's all about the post-season and the pursuit of the organization's first ever Stanley Cup title.

Towson University coach Pat Skerry has his Tigers off to a 9-1 start and receiving votes in the AP Top 25.

Towson University men's basketball is off to a great 9-1 start and they even received a vote in the AP Top 25 last week after their successful tournament win in Ireland. They host UMBC today at 2 pm at SECU Arena in what should be a high scoring, entertaining afternoon of basketball.

UMBC features one of the best natural three-point shooters in the country in Joe Sherburne, who last season was among the top five in national three-point shooting percentage throughout most of the regular season. Through ten games this season, he's connected on a whopping 46.7% of his 3-point shots. That's. Really. Good.

The Retrievers come into the game at 6-4 on the campaign, with a couple of losses against SMU and Arizona to highlight an opening pair of games against top opponents.

Towson, meanwhile, will be a contender in a very-tough CAA this season. Both College of Charleston and Elon are formidable foes in the conference and Hofstra is also expected to make some noise. But Pat Skerry has himself a solid combination of experience, size and strength. Whether Towson can shoot the ball well enough from the perimeter is an on-going question, but you won't find many teams in the country who work harder and use their power like the Tigers.

Mike Morsell and Zane Martin are the offensive leaders for the Tigers, but Brian Starr has also emerged as a timely contributor at both ends of the floor. Towson's biggest advantage? They can go nine or ten deep. Their bench is extremely valuable.

The Tigers' current RPI is 35. RPI is a rating used to evaluate a team's overall strength given their opponents, results and overall strength of schedule. A ranking of 35 out of the 300-plus Division One basketball teams is obviously very strong.

The Yankees are now apparently in hot pursuit of Marlins power hitter Giancarlo Stanton, after Stanton used his no-trade clause to negate deals that would have sent him to St. Louis or San Francisco.

I mentioned this last August here at #DMD and people laughed me out of the room, but it's worth noting here again, now. A Yankees source mentioned to me in the latter stages of last season that New York would wind up acquiring Stanton from the Marlins. What package of players and money they'll put together to acquire him is still the missing piece, but rumors on Friday have the two sides working hard to complete a deal after Stanton said "no" to trades with the Cardinals and Giants.

There are little things still up in the air like "where would he play in New York?" since Stanton plays right field and so, too, does Aaron Judge, but there's a thing in the American League called the designated hitter and, well, Stanton would probably fit in just fine at that spot.

Yankees fans are no doubt salivating at the thought of having Stanton in New York. He might hit 18 home runs a year just in the Yankees' nine games in Fenway Park.

Judge and Stanton on the same team seems almost unfair. If it winds up happening, I'd bet the "over" a lot next season when it comes to wagering on the Yankees.

KELLY banner ad

we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Please note this change to the Chick fil-A drop off-date: Tuesday, December 19, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

December 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxi
issue 8
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

playoff trip means marty's back in 2018

I assume you're rooting hard for the Ravens to beat Pittsburgh this Sunday night.

And why not? A win would virtually guarantee that John Harbaugh's team would make the AFC playoffs, and it would also keep them alive as a longshot contender for the division title.

But here's what else would be part of a Ravens win on Sunday night and a trip to the post-season: Marty Mornhinweg will return as the team's offensive coordinator in 2018.

Still rooting hard?

Even with a loss on Sunday night, as long as Baltimore gets to the post-season -- which, I think we all assume, they will -- Mornhinweg's gig is all but a certainty to continue next season.

A trip to the playoffs for the Ravens would also likely guarantee a return next season for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

You can just hear Harbaugh now at the season-ending press conference: "With what we had to deal with injury wise, we were really pleased with what we saw from the offense, especially in the second half of the season."

Harbs will point to the fact that Joe Flacco didn't have a month of training camp to prepare for the season.

He'll mention the injury to Danny Woodhead, which kept him out of the first half of the campaign.

He probably won't zero in specifically on Breshad Perriman, but the coach will hint at that situation by saying, "We spent a lot of the season looking for more consistency at the wide receiver spot."

And at the end, he'll say, "So, I thought Marty did a really solid job given all of those circumstances."

If you're one of those people who look at the bigger picture and don't isolate stats and data, it will be hard to argue with Harbaugh.

There are rumors floating around that Dean Pees is going to step down after the 2017 campaign, no matter what the Ravens do in the regular season and playoffs. If that's the case, could Pees' departure go even further in helping Mornhinweg's cause?

Would Ozzie, Harbaugh and the organization really want to start 2018 with a new offensive and defensive coordinator?

There have even been national stories floated recently about Jerry Rosburg's potential candidacy for a vacant head coaching position this off-season. Stranger things have happened.

So, Harbaugh might be faced with replacing two of his three coordinators. All the more reason to keep Mornhinweg around.

The proof will be in the results, of course. If the unthinkable happens and the Ravens somehow squander this cakewalk-path to the playoffs by losing to the Browns, Colts or Bengals, then perhaps Harbaugh's hand gets forced by the powers-that-be and Mornhinweg is relieved of his duties.

The NFL is crazy and all, and you never know from week-to-week how teams are going to win or lose, but someone would have to pay for the price for a Ravens collapse down the stretch and it likely wouldn't be the head coach. But that scenario only exists if the Ravens don't get in or, Flacco gets hurt this Sunday night and Ryan Mallett can't negotiate the final three games against teams with nothing at all to play for.

If the Ravens make the playoffs, Marty Mornhinweg will almost certainly return next season.

Still rooting hard for the Ravens this Sunday night?

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

points to ponder

The college football playoff selection committee came this close to their dream scenario.

With Oklahoma and Georgia winning earlier in the day last Saturday, had Wisconsin managed to pull of an upset in the Big Ten, the committee would have had an undefeated Wisconsin team and three one loss Power 5 champions to put in the playoff, and there would have been no debate on the matter.

Instead they ended up with a worst case scenario of choosing between a two loss conference champion and a one loss Alabama team that was number one all year before they lost on the road to the SEC West winner. On the one hand there was no wrong answer there, as both teams are very good and had strong cases. But paradoxically that means there was no right answer, as whichever team was left out was equally deserving of getting in.

And not only does Ohio State have a case that they got jobbed, so does one loss Wisconsin and, definitely, undefeated Central Florida.

The Golden Knights had about as a good of a season as a non-Power 5 team is going to, finished undefeated, and weren't even treated as a serious candidate by the committee. The idea that smaller conferences were going to get a chance to compete for it all under a playoff system has officially been made a mockery least until the NCAA does the right thing and increases it to eight teams. Or at least bring back the BCS computers, if not the bowl format.

Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes were left wondering what they had to do to earn a post-season spot after beating previously undefeated Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game last weekend.

Speaking of Wisconsin, every football coach in the country should have to watch that game for a clinic on fourth down management.

Specifically, why PUNT TO WIN tactics don't work. Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst passed up multiple fourth down opportunities on Ohio State's side of the field throughout the game, and his reward for playing the field possession battle was a 4th and 20 on his team's last drive.

On the possession immediately before that, Chryst opted to pass up a 4th and 3 from his own 38 in favor of punting with 3:20 left, which is definitely the right call going "by the book." But the thing is the book is really outdated.

Not only did circumstances play out such that Wisconsin needed to gain 17 more yards to convert a fourth down play, but because Ohio State also has a strong legged punter Wisconsin started that next drive on their own 29 yard line....or 9 yards behind where they were before.

And in this case playing field possession made little sense to begin with: Ohio State has much more speed than Wisconsin, and their three touchdown drives went for 96, 75, ad 82 yards, with individual plays of 84, 57, and 77 yards, while their field goal kicker is only 1-4 on the season in terms of kicks over 40 yards.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Chryst should be shamed for months over this or lose his job or anything. Then again, I did once come very close to getting a Script Ohio tattoo, so maybe Wisconsin should take my feelings with a grain of salt.

So Roger Goodell got his new contract with minimal drama, after the other owners threatened to strip the Cowboys from Jerry Jones is he didn't stop making trouble over it. That's quite the downfall for the guy several commentators were asserting really ran the NFL just a month or two ago, huh?

The MLB hot stove has been more like an ice box so far, but I'd expect it to heat up dramatically at next week's Winter Meetings. That typically marks the beginning of the real action in the offseason, if only because all of the GMs, major scouts and executives, coaches, and agents are all in the same place and everyone is looking to conduct business.

Plus, with a decidedly mediocre class of free agents and a whole lot of chatter about how more and more teams are seeing that free agency is a bad bargain for building a club (plus the Astros winning the World Series right on schedule!), the "middle class" free agents that make up this group are probably starting to sweat a little bit, and there's got to be some pressure just to get a deal and secure employment for next season.

How will this affect the Orioles? Well it's always hard to say what they'll do, and it's hard to know what to make of the market.

It seemed like things might actually be pretty lean for a while, but then the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood to a $38 million contract despite a history of arm injuries and the fact that he just walked me on five pitches. Guys like Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are probably going to find four or five year deals somewhere, and even if they're not for high annual salaries that will probably scare the Orioles off.

But in terms of their payroll space, and if we assume that MLB Trade Rumor's free agent projections end up being close to accurate, the Orioles have plenty of room to sign Cobb, Lynn, AND one of Chris Tillman or Jason Vargas if they decide to be aggressive with the rotation.

Speaking of the Orioles, what's up with the blue ribbon baseball writers in town stirring the pot regarding Austin Hays and Chance Sisco's roster status?

I've seen more than one of the biggest names covering the Orioles suggest that the Orioles should sign a veteran catcher, despite the apparent Sisco/Caleb Joseph tandem they have in place, and everyone is tossing around the idea that the Orioles need another outfielder, specifically a left-handed one. I just don't get it.

Hays and Sisco both look ready, or at least ready enough that throwing money at a free agent to block them would be absolutely insane. Arguing that they can't be trusted is basically arguing that no rookie this side of Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg should ever be trusted. Leave the kids be, let them play, and save the cash for pitching and/or a new contract for Manny Machado.

Finally, another era has closed on the Cleveland football franchise with the firing of general manager Sashi Brown. This isn't shocking or anything; someone was going to get fired for the Brown's massive failure to get the paperwork in on a trade for A.J. McCarron in time, the Browns have one win over the past two seasons, and widely respected head coach Hue Jackson has been in nearly-open war with the front office at least since they released Joe Haden before the season.

Still, I don't really expect it will turn the Browns around, if only because I expect that they'll overlearn the lessons of Brown's failure.

I'm already reading a bunch of arguments about how the Browns proved "tanking" doesn't work and you can't do protracted rebuilds in the NFL like you can in MLB or the NBA, but I just don't think that's what did Brown in.

Rather, what the Browns' front office always missed was that teams like the Astros and 76ers "tanked" to get high draft picks in order to have the opportunity to pick the highest impact prospects. Guys like Carlos Correa or Ben Simmons. The Browns front office, on the other hand, took the concept of draft picks as "lottery tickets" to the extreme, and were obsessed with having a bunch of them rather than using them to draft impact rookies high in the draft.

It never seemed to occur to them that when a stud fell into their grasp they needed to take advantage of it, and thus they passed on the chance to draft both Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the name of stockpiling picks. Give them either one of those picks back to get their franchise quarterback and the conversation around the Browns is a lot different today.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

There will be a full slate of games tomorrow to kick off Matchday 16 of the English Premier League that should help you cope with a limited college football schedule for the first time since the end of the summer, but it will be the super Sunday card that will get our full attention as two of the biggest Derbies in the top flight highlight the action and should make for exciting morning. Be sure to tune in and catch all of the action live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Sunday, December 10 (all times eastern)

7am – Arsenal @ Southampton – St. Mary’s Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Arsenal saw their twelve-match winning run at home come to an end when, despite peppering the Manchester United backline and goalkeeper David de Gea with a total of thirty-three shots, fifteen of which were on target, they were only able to get one past the Spaniard, whose fourteen saves tied a Premier League record for the most ever in a match, as they fell to Manchester United 3-1. The loss left them in fifth place and on the outside looking in at the top four when they travel to the St. Mary’s Stadium to take on Southampton, who came from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth.

The loss was the first for Arsenal in their last four in the league and just the second in their last seven (W5), as they continue to push for a spot in the top four at the expense of teams in the bottom half of the table. They will have the chance to do so again when they open up the Sunday slate against a floundering Southampton side, who have won only two of the last fifteen meetings between the two in the league (L8 D5) but can take a glimmer of hope with both of those wins coming at the St. Mary’s Stadium, where the Gunners have failed to pick up all three points in their last five visits (L2 D3).

9:15am – Everton @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

Everton made sure new manager Sam Allardyce’s tenure got off to a flying start when they won for the second time in three days and secured back to back wins in the league for the first time this season after getting past Huddersfield Town 2-0. They will face a much stiffer test in Sunday’s second fixture when they make the one mile journey across town to Anfield for the Merseyside Derby against arch rivals Liverpool, with the Reds gearing up for the local showdown by handing Brighton & Hove Albion their first home defeat since the opening day of the season 5-1 to move back in to the top four.

The win made it five from their last six in the league and with just one loss in their last ten (D3), Liverpool will be confident of making sure they hold on to fourth place regardless of Arsenal’s result earlier in the morning, and more importantly at least in the short term Merseyside bragging rights, as they have dropped only one of the last twenty-two with the Toffees (W12 D9) in the league and are currently enjoying a thirteen game unbeaten run against their rivals (W6 D7), failing to walk away empty handed against their neighbors at Anfield since a defeat all the way back in 1999 (W9 D8).

11:30am – Manchester City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

While the Merseyside Derby will be a nice appetizer to get the day started, the main course and the biggest derby of them all will close out the day and the weekend when Manchester United entertain Manchester City at Old Trafford in the Manchester Derby. The absolutely magnificent display from de Gea kept United within sight of City ahead of their one versus two matchup after the Citizens restored their eight-point cushion when, for the third time in as many weeks, a goal in the game’s final ten minutes proved the difference as they equaled the Premier League record of thirteen wins in a row.

The string of late victories, along with their eight month long twenty-eight game unbeaten run across all competitions that came to an end in the mid-week when a much changed City side, with one eye clearly on the weekend Derby and their place in the next round already secured, fell 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in a throw away Champions League game, has potentially exposed some vulnerabilities of a City club that have won only one of their last six with Manchester United across all competitions (L3 D2) and just one of the last five times they have made the trip across town to Old Trafford (L2 D1).

ABC banner

we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Please note this change to the Chick fil-A drop off-date: Tuesday, December 19, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

December 7
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issue 7
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goodell's new deal is least of nfl's worries

Roger Goodell got his contract extension settled yesterday. This time around, he's "only" going to haul in $200 over the next five years.

Poor Rog...he wanted ten years, but could only squeeze the owners for five.

There will be fallout in the next few days, presumably from an "unnamed source" or "an owner who wishes to remain anonymous". You can bet there wasn't a 32-for-32 landslide "yes" vote in that owner's room.

But the truth of the matter is this: Who else could run the league and at the same time make the kind of money Goodell has made for the NFL over the last decade?

There might be someone out there who could do it, but Goodell has the track record. And, like him or not, he's still an All-Star in the eyes of most owners.

I look at Goodell like this: When he first came on board, he was a hotshot rookie who hit .302 in his first big-league season. Against all odds, his stats actually improved. He became a .320 hitter who commanded the big bucks. He even tossed in one or two years hitting .331 just to show that he wasn't a fluke.

Now, he's settled back down to earth. He's a .278 hitter who has battled an injury or two along the way. He'll still show occasional signs of high quality and go through a homestand or two where he hits .400, but for the most part these days you're getting a guy who is going to hit .280 on a regular basis.

That's my loose analogy that suggests Goodell is still good at what he does, but perhaps not great anymore.

Some of that, frankly, isn't his fault.

For starters, let's all be concrete-firm on one thing. What Roger Goodell makes in annual pay isn't "his" fault. He makes $40 million a year because he can get it. He's either, A) earned it, B) shows a skill set that says he warrants it in the future or, C) both of those.

If you in your current position at work suddenly became ten times as valuable to your company, would you grimace if they paid you ten times more?

Right. Of course you wouldn't.

I hear and read a lot of anomysity towards Goodell for his salary. That's not his fault. Blame the owners for caving in and giving him $200 million. Don't blame Goodell.

The reason he's "worth" $200 million is simple: He's generated the the league a lot of revenue and has saved the owners a lot of money over the last ten years. It's that simple. If nothing else, he's a master negotiator.

And that skill set comes with a price tag. A hefty one, apparently.

But there is an issue with Goodell's new deal and how it connects with the issues the NFL is having these days. Folks are going to expect him to "fix" the league. And I'm simply not convinced Goodell has the wherewithal to do that.

Frankly, I'm not sure there's any one person out there who is capable of "fixing it".

How is Roger Goodell going to stop George Iloka from hitting Antonio Brown in the head on Monday night and nearly causing him serious injury?

The league has been trying for years to get the players to put a halt to their reckless style of play, but every single Sunday, we see more evidence of it still existing.

Fines haven't worked. Suspensions haven't worked. What will work? I don't know.

The players (really, the ex players) were involved in a lengthy court battle pertaining to concussions. They even won $765 million. But that hasn't stopped them from trying to injure one another.

It's hard for me to feel any sorrow or mercy for the players when I see Rob Gronkowski do what he did last Sunday in Buffalo or the aforementioned attempt-to-injure authored by Iloka on Monday night.

If those nitwits can't stop spearing one another with their helmets, why should I be worried when one of them gets concussed?

How does Goodell serve as judge-and-jury for that stuff on a weekly basis when the players themselves aren't willing to correct their behavior?

OK, I'll admit, in my eyes, that Goodell completely missed the boat with the on-going friction from the players on the issue of the national anthem.

On the very first day that Colin Kaepernick failed to stand in San Francisco, Goodell should have immediately suspended him. End of story. We all know it wouldn't have been "end of story", for legal papers and press conferences and lawsuits would have likely followed, but the league's integrity and value with the paying customer has been greatly tarnished over the last year because of the national anthem saga and Goodell's inability to act swifty and decisively.

Goodell whiffed on that one, big time.

And at this point, I'm not sure anyone can fix it. The league is pouring money into a "racial and social equality campaign" to try and satisfy the players, but my guess is the players will never be satisfied. If the league gives them $100 million, they'll say, "It should be $200 million". And so on.

But the kneeling situation is a very complicated matter. It goes far, far beyond football. At this point, it's more about how much money the owners and the league bring in and how "little" of that actually streams down to the players.

The players can yap all they want about social injustice, but the reality is the chasm in the league is caused mainly by one thing: money.

Just last week, the owners and Goodell agreed to funnel $100 million to the players and they immediately complained. Gracious? Nope. Angry that it wasn't more? Yep.

It's always about money. Timothy 6:10 says: For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

Goodell is facing that double-edged sword now, as his salary is far and above more, annually, than any player in the league.

And the guys in the uniforms can't come to grips with that, I'd guess. "How does he make more than us when he never steps foot on the field?" You can hear that question asked over and over in any NFL locker room today, tomorrow and next week.

The NFL's current ledger of issues and problems go far beyond Roger Goodell.

It's not his fault college football isn't producing enough adequate quarterbacks or offensive linemen to feed the NFL teams every spring via the draft.

It's not his fault people would rather pay attention to their fantasy team(s) while they're in the stadium (supposedly) watching the live game in front of them.

It's not his fault scores of players in the league can't stay off the police blotter.

It's not his fault dozens of players thought it was smart to piss off the fans and corporate sponsors by failing to stand for the national anthem.

But it's his job to control those things and, where applicable, fix them.

I'm just not sure those are fair expectations.

I don't know if anyone could do it. So, in this case, the league was probably smart to let Goodell keep on coming to the plate with a bat in his hand.

He was a .300 hitter at one point in his career. Maybe he can find the magic again.

A note about the comments section: Due to an unkown issue, the comments section was "down" all day yesterday. We are thankful to our friend Sri in India who probed through the guts of the website and figured it out sometime overnight. If you had a comment pertaining to yesterday's edition of #DMD, please feel free to throw it in there today. Otherwise, everything seems back to normal and we're thankful to Sri for figuring it out. George and I racked our brains for hours on Wednesday and the solution avoided us. DF

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

I looked up the other day and it was December. Then I looked up and saw that Duke occupied the No. 1 spot in this week’s Associated Press college basketball rankings.

Turns out this week is a particularly notable one in that regard for the undefeated Blue Devils, who’ve been ranked No. 1 every week this season. Duke is now tied with UCLA for the most weeks (134) ranked at No. 1 since the AP poll began in 1949.

After dispensing St. Francis (PA) by 57 points on Tuesday, and with mediocre Boston College on the schedule this weekend, it’s almost certain the Blue Devils will be No. 1 for the 135th time next week. They’ll continue to add to a related record they already have, the most games played while ranked No. 1.

Under Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s record as the No. 1 team is 204-29, an 88 percent success rate. His teams that have been ranked No. 1 have, for the most part, deserved it.

As Kevin Bacon said in A Few Good Men, “these are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.”

I’ve never disliked the Dukies because of that success, an accusation Duke fans like to throw out there. Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, after all, have equally historic programs. More recently, programs like UConn and Villanova and even Gonzaga have vaulted toward the highest levels.

Their coach hasn’t been very likable for the last 20 years or so, but I’ve never disliked them for that; his record speaks for itself. I’ve never really detested the Cameron Crazies; I have way more disdain for the thousands of people around the country who are crazy about Duke without any connection to the school at all.

I don’t even dislike Duke because the admissions office wait-listed me 26 years ago. I’m still more upset at my parents for opening the envelope before I got home from school.

I was watching Duke play recently, and I realized I don’t hate them at all.

Fifteen years ago, when Duke and Maryland temporarily had the best rivalry in the nation, I suppose I hated Duke. During Maryland’s first Final Four season in 2001, the teams played four times, and familiarity breeds contempt. Duke won three of them, including the national semifinal, where Maryland blew a 22-point first-half lead, and the famous January game in Cole Field House where the Terps blew a 10-point lead in the final minute and lost in overtime.

That was then, though, and this is now. And the biggest thing now is that it’s not really Duke out there at all; it’s just a bunch of guys wearing a uniform that says Duke.

It’s true. The NBA’s age limit rule, the “one-and-done” phenomenon, has done the impossible — made Duke harder to hate.

This year’s Duke team features four freshman starters: Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Trevon Duval and Gary Trent. They are rent-a-players who’ve been recruited to wear a Duke uniform for one season, and maybe even go to class for only one semester.

Every one of them is a better player than any of Maryland’s starters, some of whom are really good. The 6-foot-11 Bagley is averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds per game. He might be the most talented player I’ve ever seen play for Duke, which is saying something.

But I can’t hate them. I’ll never see them again after March, after all. Their connection to Duke is incredibly thin. Because of injury, Kyrie Irving only played 11 games for the Blue Devils. Does anybody really associate him or Austin Rivers or Brandon Ingram or Jahlil Okafor with Duke?

Duke’s descent into the one-and-done world of college basketball was inevitable. For years, Coach K and his staff sought the best players and got most of them. Nothing has really changed, besides the fact that those players aren’t going to be around for as long as they might have been before.

There’s more to the lack of animosity than just the one-and-done factor.

When the ACC was a nine-team conference, before the football-centered expansion of the mid-2000s, it was easy to hate Duke. And not just for North Carolina, or for Maryland when the Terps had their great run.

Every team got Duke at home. Every ACC matchup was a rivalry, since every team played the other eight teams twice, home and away. It was compact and it was perfect, until football screwed it up.

Duke will always have its rivalry with North Carolina. But conference realignment really changed Duke’s relationship with the remaining ACC teams, and that will never be replaced by a game against Louisville or Syracuse or Notre Dame.

Sometime around 2007 or so, I had the occasion to work with Pete Gillen, who was transitioning to a television career after Virginia fired him as its head coach. Gillen is a quotable character with a list of one-liners, and he repeated one to me. Duke, he said, “is on TV more than Leave it to Beaver.”

That’s still true, but it’s also true for 75 other teams. Maybe there was a time when Duke played on national television more than Villanova, but those days are long gone. The Big Ten Network is just as much of a national network as ESPN.

In many ways, thanks to John Calipari and his reliance on one-and-dones before Krzyzewski ever got to that point, Kentucky has become a more ubiquitous program than Duke.

Coach K gets more publicity now for being the coach of the Olympic team than he does for coaching at Duke. And were you really going to root against the Olympic team? Plus, he was “coaching” them about as much as you need to coach LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry, which is to say very little.

I know, I know. Grayson Allen still plays for Duke, and he trips people for fun apparently. But I’ve been watching basketball for 35 years and he’s the first and only player I’ve ever seen do that. It’s sort of funny that he plays for Duke, which makes him easier to dislike, but I’m not going to blame his behavior on the uniform he’s wearing.

As for Bobby Hurley, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, they’re all in their 40s now. Each of them has his own program to run, at Arizona State, Northwestern and Marquette, respectively. They’ve moved on to making their own legacies, with Collins having led the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tournament bid last year.

And I’ve moved on too.

For various reasons, I’ve met all three of them, and I even liked all of them. Sacrilege, I know…

Even the flopping and the floor slapping seem to be gone; Duke’s players are too good to fuss with any of that nonsense. That’s a relic of a time long ago when Duke saw itself as some sort of underdog, about as relevant today as the floppy disk.

The best we can hope for is that one of Duke’s incoming classes just isn’t that good, and their team full of freshmen falls on its face. And we can hope for Maryland to get back to the highest level, where the Terps might play Duke in an important game.

Duke isn’t just another program, not with 134 weeks at No. 1. But the Blue Devils just don’t mean as much as they once did.

Maybe one day, they’ll be completely irrelevant. A man can dream…

KELLY banner ad

we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Wednesday, December 20, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

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December 6
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issue 6
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is flacco a "winner"?

I don't know the answer to that question and, really, there probably isn't a right or wrong answer, anyway.

Is Joe Flacco a "winner"?

The comments section lit up on Monday when someone said he was -- or wasn't, I'm not sure how it all started, exactly.

It's an interesting question: Is Flacco a winner?

Well, here's what I'll say about that: He's not a loser.

As for whether or not he's a "winner" in the traditional sense that we like to talk about in professional sports, I think that's certainly a worthy topic to debate.

I don't even know how we do the calculations to figure out if an athlete in a team sport is a winner.

It's easy to do in golf or tennis. You're playing against the other player. If you beat him or her, consistently, that makes you a winner.

Tiger Woods? Winner.

Roger Federer? Winner.

Jordan Spieth? Winner.

Rafael Nadal? Winner.

See? It's easy to put the "winner" label on those four guys.

Do championship rings make you a winner? Or do you earn them because you're a winner?

I imagine every single person reading this would agree that Tom Brady is a "winner". Winning is pretty much all he's ever done in the NFL. If he's not the greatest quarterback to ever play, he's top three at the very least.

But is Flacco a "winner"?

That's hard to say.

His critics would argue that if not for one hail mary pass in Denver in January of 2013, Flacco would be without a championship ring and wouldn't have nearly the cachet he's had since the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.

That's a fair statement. Whether it's fair to judge a guy's career on one play that worked out in his favor is an arguable point, but it's certainly fair to note that a major part of Flacco's career hinged on a fluke play.

But is Flacco a winner? I'm still here, still asking.

My personal opinion on Joe is that his personality makes it very difficult for those of us on the outside to make an accurate assessment of him.

Back in his rookie season, I ghost-wrote a blog for Joe on the radio station's website. I found him to be easy to like. But about six weeks into the season, I also found him to be unattentive and distracted.

"Just write whatever you want," he said to me one day in the locker room. "I trust you. Just don't get me in hot water with the team or the league."

That's his personality, basically. "Eh...whatever."

And I think because of that, he's not always the easiest guy to read.

We look at Roethlisberger, Brady and Rivers, for example, and we see three fired-up, intense personalities who look like they'd rather eat a rattlesnake than lose a football game.

Flacco hardly ever shows any emotion. That's just his nature. But that lack of obvious "fire in his belly" doesn't mean he's not a winner. Everyone's personality is different.

So, we're left to look at his play on the field for more direction and, hopefully, an answer to the question.

Most NFL experts -- and when I say "NFL expert", I'm talking about a guy who played the game and now has a microphone or keyboard -- would tell you that Flacco's technical skills have declined over the last couple of years.

Whether that's wear and tear, a physical limitation of some kind, or just a 10-year quarterback worth a gazillion dollars who isn't quite as motivated as he once was, folks with discerning eyes say Joe's skills have eroded a bit.

I'm on that side of the fence when it comes to evaluating his performance of late. The Joe of 2016 and 2017 isn't as good as the Joe of 2012-2013-2014. But anyone who thinks Joe is the sole reason why the team hasn't made the playoffs in three of the last four years is silly. Or just not very smart about sports. Either one works.

The Ravens have a lot of issues -- and have had them for quite some time. Last year, despite the outcry against Flacco, it was the defense that couldn't get off the field on 3rd down late in a handful of losses. The offense -- the one with Flacco at the helm -- staked the Ravens to late leads against the Redskins, Raiders, Giants and Steelers, only to see the defense give it right back with game-changing drives near the final whistle.

But that was last year.

This year, Flacco and the offense haven't been very good, with their scoring totals artificially sweetened by two home outbursts against Miami and Detroit.

It's safe to say that the quarterback bears some of the responsibility, yes.

But the team's 7-5.

Doesn't he also get credit for that? Some of it, at least?

And, to me, that's the biggest challenge I see from the Flacco bashers.

They simply can't recognize that he occasionally does do something well. Or, if they recognize it, they refuse to applaud him publicly.

When the team wins, it's because of someone else. Or the defense. When the Ravens lose, Flacco gets hammered.

In either case, it's out of balance. It's always "Flacco stinks, Flacco sucks and Flacco's no good." Then when he connects with a receiver for a touchdown or a long gain, it's the receiver who made the play, not the quarterback.

Most fans make an opinion on something and then stick to it for one reason: They want to be right. Flacco bashers would rather see the team lose and have Joe be at fault than have the team win because he throws four touchdowns. They want to be right about their anti-Flacco position.

The truth of the matter is this: Flacco, like most quarterbacks in the league, has his good moments and bad moments. We can have a healthy debate on which of the two he has more of, but to suggest Flacco doesn't do anything right is just plain wrong.

But is he a winner? We're back to that question again.

There's no sports definition book to perfectly clarify what a "winner" is, particularly in team sports, so I'll just give you my very loose interpretation of what I think a winner is: "If he moved on to a new team that was losing consistently, would the new team suddenly start winning?"

You can pick that apart, obviously, but as I said, it's a loose interpretation. Would, say, the Redskins be a winning team if Tom Brady went there next season and was the starting quarterback? Would Ben Roethlisberger make the Denver Broncos into a winning team next season? If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers acquired Aaron Rodgers, would they have a winning record?

My opinion? Yes. Yes. And yes.

Those three players would transform those three teams. Maybe not into Super Bowl champions, mind you. But all three would be better in 2018. They'd win.

I don't think you can say the same thing about Joe Flacco. I don't think he'd make the Redskins, Broncos or Buccaneers into a winning team.

That's just my hunch.

But that's how I see it.

I'm not saying he's a loser. But I'm not sure the data suggests flat-out that Flacco's a winner, either.

Oh, and that doesn't make him a bad quarterback. At times, he's still a good quarterback. Give him boatloads of time, like he got on Sunday vs. the Lions, and Joe can still do some serious damage.

As you can see, I'm pretty much down the middle with Flacco.

I like him. I'm "pro Flacco" if there is such a thing. But I think he's limited. And I'd like to think his better days are still ahead of him but I doubt very much that's true.

For now, though, he's the starting quarterback in Baltimore and the Ravens would be smart to get some quality players around him for the next couple of years.

Without those quality players, Flacco can't be a winner.

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no longer having a ball (thankfully)

And just like that, UCLA's problems went away.

LaVar Ball announced on Monday that he was pulling his second oldest son, LiAngelo, out of UCLA and away from the men's basketball team.

I'm sure Steve Alford went into a private room somewhere and did the "Willie Mays Hayes dance", you know, the one Wesley Snipes' character did in the movie Major League after he found out he made the big league club in spring training.

Alford's life just got a whole lot easier with Ball's kid out of the picture.

LaVar Ball suggested on Tuesday that his son's shoplifting spree in China was connected to the fact that his college coach "makes enough money".

And that's a shame, sort of, because the young man might have turned into a decent college basketball player over time.

Instead, his career at UCLA looks like this: Games played: 0 Points: 0 Assists: 0 Steals: 1

OK, I borrowed that from Twitter, but it's still funny nonetheless.

But seriously...

The Ball-Alford-UCLA relationship was never going to work, mainly because the father is a maniac. Some will point to the fact that the father is involved in the boys' lives and say that's a good thing and I completely agree with that. Without getting into a societal discussion, it's certainly a benefit to the three ball-playing-Ball-boys (yes, that's mine) that they have a father in their lives who cares about them.

But that doesn't make him any less irrational.

Yesterday, he had the audacity to suggest that Alford was in part to blame for his son LiAngelo's careless shoplifting spree while the UCLA team was in China last month.

"There's no accountability to them?" LaVar said. "Let's stand up to bat (for the players) and say you're the coach," he added. "Coaches are making enough money. They've gotta hold some accountability."

That he tried to steer the spotlight away from his son's crime isn't shocking. Ball downplayed the incident from the start, suggesting it was "just a small thing" and "no big deal" in the days after his son and two other players were detained in China for stealing expensive sunglasses from a mall while the Bruins were there to play Georgia Tech in the season opener.

Now, Ball is suggesting that the coaches are to blame because they make enough money. He said in an interview on Tuesday that Alford should understand that the kids see the coaches making a lot of money and feel like they're getting the short end of the stick as student-athletes.

So, in Ball's distorted view, they steal sunglasses to try and "make up the difference".

He might be a good Dad, but he's a nut.

And the message he's sending to his son in this case is dangerous and completely backwards.

But that's LaVar Ball.

He'd never march to the beat of a different drummer. He'll only march to his own beat.

He pulled his 19-year old son out of UCLA on Monday and claims he's going to get him ready for the NBA draft next June by "taking him down to the hood and getting him some real competition."

I'm sure NBA GM's are going to eagerly be checking the internet and social media for the scores of those games in the coming months.

What's sad is that the three Ball kids are all competent basketball players. Lonzo is a rookie with the Lakers and enjoys the occasional bright moment, like most rookies do, and LiAngelo would have been a starter at UCLA by his sophomore year, most likely. The youngest, LaMelo, a high school senior, has already committed to UCLA, but is currently under NCAA investigation due to involvement with his Dad's shoe company, Big Baller Brands.

It's OK if you laughed at that. I did, too. The kid is a senior in high school and he's already under investigation with the NCAA. He should have just gone to Kentucky in that case...

So, while the boys are talented and capable of playing basketball at a high level, it's pretty clear their father is going to do his best (or worst) to hold them back.

In the case of LiAngelo, his father now blames the coach for his son's shoplifting charge in China. And the result of it all? He yanks the kid out of school (where apparently he was doing well) and kills his college basketball career without the kid ever playing one game.

But in a weird kind of way, Steve Alford's lucky to get off that easy.

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we need coats, jackets and winter apparel!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We have three drop-off events planned for later this month. Please stop out and say "hi" and bring whatever you can for the men at Helping Up Mission. We'll have some Chick fil-A free meal cards and other goodies for those of you who will take time to come out and see us.

Wednesday, December 13, 5-8 pm at Jerry's Toyota

Monday, December 18, 5-8 pm at Glory Days Grill

Wednesday, December 20, 5-8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

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December 5
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issue 5
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and you want your kid to play football?

The NFL and ESPN wanted it.

And they got it.

In the pre-game show last night, the great Jon Gruden bragged, almost, about the fact that "these two teams just plain hate each other".

"You're going to see some hitting tonight," he said, with a twisted glimmer-tone in his voice.

Well, ask and ye shall receive.

The Steelers and Bengals played a ferocious football game last night. It was, by anyone's standards -- soft or barbaric -- a bloodbath.

Ryan Shazier was injured on the Bengals' first offensive series of the game. His injury might be serious. Very serious, in fact. And while it wasn't a dirty play, per se, the Steelers linebacker lowered his head on a tackle attempt and collapsed to the ground, motionless.

The physicality continued all night.

Roughed up all night by the Bengals defense, Ben Roethlisberger survived and led the Steelers to an improbable 23-20 win over the Bengals on Monday evening.

The Bengals took a handful of cheap shots at Ben Roethlisberger, finally drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty on the Steelers' game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.

JuJu Smith-Schuster laid out Bengals' headhunter Vontaze Burfict with a wildly dangerous hit to the head on a blindside block, which garnered him a 15-yard penalty.

And Antonio Brown was targeted on a helmet-to-helmet hit on his game-tying touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. How he got up from that, I have no idea.

ESPN and the league should have known better than to put that game on in prime time. All that did was put Super Unleaded fuel in everyone's bodies. That said, if you like seeing grown men try and decapitate one another in a sporting event -- and the league sorta-kinda hopes you do -- last night was your bread and butter.

I turned to my wife after Smith-Schuster smashed Burfict in the face and said, "And that, right there, is why thousands of parents won't ever let their kids play football."

But is that fair? Should we take the on-field behavior of supposed-grown-men and run in fear, not allowing our children to participate in sports of their choosing?

Burfict tried on several occasions last night to take a cheap shot at Antonio Brown, connecting once without being flagged and nearly connecting a second time and then hustling over to the referee to make sure he wasn't called for it.

Later, after he was clobbered by Smith-Schuster, I wondered if for one second, Burfict looked up into the Cincinnati sky and thought to himself, "Live by the sword, die by the sword..."?

As for the game, the Bengals did what they always do. They figured out a way to lose.

And the Steelers did what they usually do. They figured out a way to hang around just long enough to steal a win.

Cincinnati led 17-0 in the second quarter before allowing the Steelers to kick what was then a meaningless field goal to make it 17-3 at the half.

It was 20-10 in the fourth quarter before the Steelers came alive and the Bengals predictably wilted.

Pittsburgh connected on a TD throw from Ben to Brown, then forced the Bengals into a quick 3-and-out and got the ball back with almost three minutes left in the game.

After working their way downfield, the Steelers were able to get themselves into field goal position with about a minute remaining. Cincinnati had two time outs left. They used one to stop the clock with 0:37 to go. Then, for some bizarre reason, they used their final time-out with 30 seconds remaining, even though it couldn't change the fact that the Steelers could run the clock down before their imminent field goal attempt.

The Steelers ran a play, let the clock get down to three seconds, and called their final time-out to set up Chris Boswell's game-winning field goal.

Not that freezing the kicker works all that much in the NFL, but the brilliant Marvin Lewis (that's sarcasm, folks) didn't have a time-out to use at the end of the game because he burned his final stoppage for no reason with 30 seconds left in the game.

And Pittsburgh won, 23-20.

It was a wild, scary night in Cincinnati.

More guys went down than in the last 20 minutes of The Departed.

Just remember: The NFL and ESPN put this on in prime time because they wanted everyone to see it.

It should have been rated "R".

Yes, it was that bad.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

tuesday morning quarterback

What a difference a week can make.

This time last week the Ravens were coming off a win that moved them above .500 and put them in the driver's seat for a playoff spot, but it sure felt like they'd been outplayed by the Texans and bailed out only by the crappy ball protection of a bad backup quarterback in Tom Savage.

This week the Ravens are sitting at 7-5 and now only need to beat three bad teams to reach the 10 win mark and almost certainly earn themselves a ticket to the tournament. And only one of those games is on the road, but it's at Cleveland.

Best of all though, while it felt like the Ravens beat the Texans and the Packers by default in their last two games, and maybe even deserved to lose considering how bad the offense was in both of those games, their victory over the Lions was thoroughly convincing, and then some.

Baltimore put together a complete game in all three phases, as John Harbaugh would say, and completely outplayed a healthy, playoff contending opponent in every way from start to finish.

For the first time since Week 2, the Ravens look like a team that might have a chance to get deep into the playoffs, instead of one that's likely to back in thanks to a weak AFC and an even weaker schedule.

It's only one game, of course, and a clunker of a game against, say, Cincinnati at the end of the season could undo all of that, but right now Owings Mills has to be a much more positive place for everyone in purple.

The standouts:

At just the right time, Joe Flacco stepped up with his best game of the season on Sunday in the 44-20 win over Detroit.

Winner: Joe Flacco

Give credit where it's due: Flacco needed a to bounce back from an awful performance against Houston, facing an opponent with both a winning record and a respectable quarterback, and he turned in what was easily his best performance of the season.

He finished with 269 yards and 2 touchdowns on 36 attempts, and hit passes at every level of the defense, ranging from his clearly prepared 66 yard bomb to Mike Wallace to a well-executed screen(!) to Nick Boyle. Flacco wasn't "perfect," and at this point I'm beyond hoping that Joe is ever going to learn to move up in the pocket, but this was arguably the most important game left on the Ravens' schedule, one that might end up making the difference in going to the postseason, and Joe came through with a great performance.

Winner: Alex Collins

The bloom had started coming off of the Irish rose a bit in recent weeks, but a good game from the Ravens' passing offense finally opened up some room for Collins to work with, and he churned out 5 yards per carry and 2 touchdowns. Also added 23 receiving yards on 2 catches, and he's steadily finding his footing in the passing offense as well.

Winner: The offensive line

The offense's scapegoats turned in another great game, dominating the Lions in both the rushing and passing attacks. Didn't allow a sack all game, and in fact kept Flacco basically unpressured all game if you don't count the times he tried to roll out of the pocket rather than step up into open lanes. That's as good as you're going to see a unit play at the professional level.

Winners: Wide receivers

It wasn't a perfect day for anyone here, really, but on balance it was a solid day for a unit that needed some positive plays. Jeremy Maclin had an awful drop early in the game but bounced back to make a couple of really nice grabs. Chris Moore made some mistakes but also found himself making some solid plays, including on the quick snap that possibly prevented a Detroit challenge. And Mike Wallace racked up 116 yards on 5 catches and was finally able to connect with Flacco for a home run play.

Loser: Jimmy Smith

The only one on the day. His popped Achilles was immediately apparent on replay, as was the fact that his season was going to be over. To pile it on, we learned on Monday that Smith had been busted for PED use already and was in the process of appealing the suspension. So just like that he goes from an All-Pro candidate to a candidate to get cut in the spring, especially if Marlon Humphrey and Maurice Canady continue to play well in his absence.

Winner: Marlon Humphrey

Speaking of, I'm going to go ahead and put Humphrey in the win column. Yes he got burned on multiple deep balls, which was a big weakness on his pre-draft scouting report, but I was really impressed with the way he bounced back to come up with a crucial interception. And not just because he put a mark on the stat sheet either; Humphrey did a really nice job of trusting his safety help and playing the ball without letting his eyes drift to the receiver. That takes a lot of confidence for a rookie who's having a rough stretch and being picked on by a veteran quarterback, but Humphrey didn't seem the slightest bit intimidated by the moment.

Winner: Ozzie Newsome

A lot of people turned their noses up at Ozzie for picking Humphrey instead of an offensive player in real time, and even as Humphrey has played well as a rookie there's still people in Baltimore who contend he should have picked Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (who isn't really having any kind of special rookie season, by the way).

But now that Jimmy Smith has gone down to injury, again, just before a match up with Antonio Brown and the Steelers, Humphrey gets a chance to step into the exact role he was drafted to fill; depth on the outside of the secondary and an insurance policy on the brittle Smith. Humphrey's already done a nice job of vindicating Ozzie's eye for defensive talent, and if he plays well on Sunday night he'll validate the GM's roster building approach as well.

Winners: Eric Weddle and Terrell Suggs

The defensive ageless wonders continue to come on strong as the season goes along. Suggs added another sack to push his total for the season into double figures, while Weddle was the defense's player of the game with both a sack fumble and a pick six on the afternoon.

Winner: John Harbaugh

This game had disaster written all over it coming in, and I think we all know that. The Ravens were working on a short week after a nationally televised game in which the offense played so badly that it was actually easy to forget they'd even won the game. Especially with all the purple seats showing in the stadium.

Plus, while most coaches and players will never admit to either watching the standings or considering the implications of being big underdogs in Pittsburgh, everyone knew this was a must win game for the Ravens' hopes of making it to 10 wins and securing a likely postseason berth, especially with the Chargers and Raiders gaining ground in the West.

Oh, and the Lions really needed a win to help their postseason chances too. That could have easily been a recipe for turmoil and distraction during the week, and an early hole to dig out of during the game. Instead, just like always, the Ravens were prepared for the moment and gave a representative effort in a crucial contest. That's not to say the Ravens always win these games, or even that they don't get beat solidly by teams that are just better than they are.

But there's a difference between getting beat by a team with no talent and blowing a critically important game because you're just not adequately prepared for it, and the Ravens just never fall into the latter category under Harbaugh. That might seem like a minor thing, but there's plenty of fanbases out there who can attest that it's not something you can take for granted.

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Todd Schoenberger promises to deliver provocative commentary on the world of Baltimore sports. His no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style of writing is certain to leave readers debating and disputing, but always thinking. Be sure to follow Tuesdays with Todd!

Twitter: @TMSchoenberger

Let’s be honest. All the debate and drama surrounding the fourth and final pick of the college football playoff is warranted, but not the complete story.

Either way you look at it, the selection committee wasn’t going to be praised with either pick. Alabama and Ohio State each come with their own share of pros and cons. And aficionados of the sport can easily justify either team participating in college football's most sought after playoff system.

So, what do you think was the final item persuading the Committee that the Crimson Tide were more worthy for Final Four consideration than OSU?

Both teams were relatively even in strength of schedule and did not share a common opponent, so there wasn’t much of an edge there.

Ohio State did have two losses, compared to Alabama’s one loss. However, Ohio State did play one extra game, which happened to be the Big Ten Conference Championship Game; and the Buckeyes prevailed and knocked off the number four team in the country.

Nick Saban and his Alabama Crimson Tide return to the college football playoff again after posting an 11-1 regular season record.


So far, this looks like Ohio State should have been chosen over Alabama for the final spot. Was it politics? I mean, after all, there is a Republican in the White House and the state of Alabama has always favored the GOP. Whereas, Ohio…well, let’s just say the state has a history of leaning to the left.

I doubt politics would be involved, though.

Perhaps it was Playboy Magazine’s 2016 “hottest” college girl rankings, which placed the University of Alabama at a very impressive number five. Whereas, the girls from Ohio State couldn’t crack the top twenty five.


But something tells me this couldn’t have been the deciding factor either considering the current Matt Lauer state of affairs taking place in America today.

No. The real reason has to do with the conference. The SEC is, by far, the best college football conference and the Big Ten is simply an afterthought. You can look at facts, if you wish, and you’ll see how the SEC had a better winning percentage (.604) compared to the Big Ten (.565) in 2017.

The numbers actually widen when compared to non-conference games, as well, with the SEC nearly one hundred points higher against teams outside of their conference.

The facts don’t lie. Sure, the Big Ten has some quality teams representing, but the elite squads happen to reside in the south.

All of this brings me to my favorite subject: The laughingstock of a football team in College Park.

Taking into account the weak data points branding the Big Ten (can we call it the Little Ten or has that joke already been used), one has to begin to question how bad the Maryland Terrapins must be.

I mean, after all, if the Terps wrapped up a four win season in the blockbuster SEC, we’d still be able to show our faces to the world. But now, the Big Ten receives little to no respect and our flagship college football team can’t even compete with a bunch of has-beens!

I know what you’re thinking: you feel duped. You feel like DJ Durkin sold you a lemon on the used car lot. You feel awful about yourself because the one and only team you’ve looked up to your entire life is nothing more than a flag football intramural squad.

I feel your pain.

I wish I could tell you the future is bright in College Park. However, breaking news here, it isn’t. Maryland football will get worse and may never be competitive again.

The mother’s milk of college football is recruiting and Maryland (i.e., DJ Durkin) is horrible at attracting quality players. One, he can’t recruit. Two, he can’t coach because the players he recruits likely picked Maryland over some community college program from the Dakotas.

According to the most recent recruiting rankings, which were released yesterday, Maryland is currently sitting at a very respectable 17.

That’s pretty good. However, with early recruiting day coming up on December 20th, most of the marquee teams in the country haven’t received their final commitments.

Teams like Alabama, USC and Florida State currently rank behind Maryland. However, once the 20th comes around, look for these teams — and so many others — to move ahead of the Terps and leave DJ Durkin wondering why he left the turntables behind at the Buffalo Wild Wings on Pulaski Highway.

To throw salt in this wound, the Maryland Terrapins have already lost four games next season. The Terps have matchups against Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. I can tell you right now, Maryland will not win any of these contests. Throw in games versus Iowa and Michigan State, and Maryland is already staring at a minimum of six losses.

One more defeat and DJ Durkin is going to have to explain to the Maryland faithful why they have to spend the holidays at home. Again.

I’m sorry to be a Bah Humbug for you Maryland fans, but I do believe it’s in your best interest to accept reality rather than be delusional. Merry Christmas!

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please help us this holiday season!

Once again this year, I'll be teaming up with my old radio friend, Glenn Clark, to oversee our Winter Apparel Drive to support the outstanding men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This is the eighth straight year we've been doing this. The very first time we tried it, there were 440 coats and jackets piled up in the radio station. Glenn and I thought we had struck gold.

Last year, we took almost 5,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! 5,000 pieces!!!!

We're very excited to have several partners helping us out again this year.

Jerry's Toyota, Kelly and Associates, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square and Glory Days Grill are part of the 2017 team!! We're excited to be joining forces with them.

We'll be publishing the complete list of drop-off events and dates tomorrow here at #DMD.

For now, we simply ask for you to go through your closets or storage boxes and pull out a few new or gently-used jackets, coats, sweatshirts and sweaters. Since most of the men who are in Helping Up Mission will be there through the holidays, they might not have the opportunity to holiday shop for their children or loved ones. So...if you have children's clothing, we can put that to good use as well.

So please go ahead and put together a bag of clothes for us if you can. We'll publish the drop off events tomorrow here at #DMD. We'll be out and about next week and the week after, so I'm sure you'll be able to find a date that works with your busy holiday schedule.

Thank you so much for once again helping us make the holiday season a little brighter for the men in Helping Up Mission!

December 4
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issue 4
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ravens inch closer to playoff spot with win over hapless lions

Because it's the NFL and nothing is ever a done deal until the final whistle of the very last game, the Ravens can't help but be pleased with their position now.

They're one broken foot or sprained knee to either Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger from having a puncher's chance to make some REAL noise in the post-season. And here's the thing: The Ravens aren't even all that good.

But, as I tried to stress to folks here four weeks ago when I said they were in good shape to make the playoffs and people bit off my head, the schedule always has a way of balancing out. You go through a 4-game stretch where you play tough teams and you get the benefit of a 4-game stretch where the opposition isn't all that formidable.

Lately, the Ravens have been playing patsies. And beating them.

Mike Wallace had a huge afternoon for the Ravens in their win over Detroit, with 5 catches for 116 yards.

Sunday's 44-20 throttling of Detroit wasn't a surprise. The Lions stink. And the Ravens took full advantage of a completely inept Detroit defense to win for the third time in four games and maintain their grasp on the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC.

As the #6 seed, they'll likely face the AFC South winner, which will be either Jacksonville or Tennessee. Yes, both of those teams beat Baltimore earlier this year. So what? The Ravens could overcome either of them in a one-game scenario in January.

Now, New England or Pittsburgh would be a different story. I think we all know that. But you never know if those teams will be at full strength when you play them -- so you keep on lining up every Sunday, win as many games as possible, and see where that takes you.

My opinion of the Ravens hasn't changed much, even with yesterday's win.

They've beat up on mostly bad teams for their seven wins. And they've lost to the decent teams they've faced, with the exception of Chicago.

But they're a deserving 7-5 team. And if things shake out like I assume they will, the Ravens are going to finish 10-6 and finish as the #6 seed, with a very remote possibility of being the #5 seed if things really get wacky with Tennessee, Jacksonville, Oakland, K.C. and San Diego.

Sure, the Jimmy Smith injury hurts them. But they were going to lose next Sunday in Pittsburgh even with him in the lineup. Only now, instead of losing 23-17, they'll probably lose 33-17.

They'll still beat Cleveland, Indy and Cincinnati with Smith on the sidelines.

But losing Smith for the post-season is a big blow, no doubt.

It was good to see Joe Flacco have a commendable game on Sunday. If nothing else, it got the blowhards on Twitter to shut their pie hole for an hour or so. I finally figured out what's more frustrating than Flacco's inconsistent play: People on Twitter who blame EVERY EFFING THING ON HIM.

And it was pleasing to see Mike Wallace get involved in a major way on Sunday. He'll probably get two balls thrown his way next week in Pittsburgh, but for a day, anyway, he looked like a legit pass catching threat.

What wasn't pleasing was the attendance.

Another sun-splashed day of 15,000 no-shows at the stadium simply reinforces what we already knew: People aren't coming to the games, in droves. I'm sure the Ravens are concerned. If they aren't, they bloody well should be. It's embarrassing, now.

So we're down to the final four games of the regular season and the Ravens are in the driver's seat. A 3-1 record down the stretch should be more than enough for them to capture a playoff spot. We already know Joe Flacco's coming back for 2018. But three wins in the last four games means John Harbaugh will be back next year, too.

And I'll go ahead and say it now so you can start pulling your hair out: If the Ravens finish 10-6 and make the playoffs, who wants to bet that Marty Mornhinweg comes back for another tour of duty in 2018? I'd LOL at that one, but it's not all that funny.

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fowler won, but finished second

The history books will show that Rickie Fowler won the 2017 Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

What they won't show is that Fowler's final round 61 and four-day total of 18-under par was the second best story of the weekend.

Tiger Woods posted a 4-day total of 8-under par to finish T9 and, for one tournament at least, put to rest any concerns about his surgically-repaired back. Anyone who watched him hit the ball on any of the four days could see the obvious: Woods is healthy again.

A message to his critics, perhaps?

You could see it in his swing, his demeanor, his walk and his eyes. This time last year, Woods was 40 but looked like he was 45. Over the weekend, he was 41 going on 35.

And the shots he hit confirmed what our eyes were suggesting to us. Woods is healthy. His back is better. Is it 100%? Who knows. But for four days, at least, he looked like a man with a back that's in fine working order.

And if your eyes didn't tell you, the raw data did. His ball speed and clubhead speed numbers were equal to or better than virtually everyone who played in the event. He hit 13 of 14 fairways on Sunday with an average ball speed on those drives of 175 miles per-hour. Justin Thomas, his playing competitor and one of the longest young bombers on TOUR, averaged 171 mph.

Woods, on average, hit the ball 14 yards past Thomas on the holes where both used driver off the tee.

The numbers don't tell the complete story, of course, but in this case, the data backs up the point about Tiger's health. He's swinging at full speed now, something he wasn't doing a year ago when he tried comeback #3. Last year, his ball speed numbers were in the mid 160's.

If not for a sketchy third round of 75, Tiger would have thrust himself into the hunt on Sunday with his opening nine score of 31. Nearly everyone saw their scores balloon on Saturday as the prevailing wind turned around and the players faced shots they hadn't before seen on the seaside layout. To wit, the lowest score on Saturday was a 2-under par 70.

But the third round 75 couldn't take away from what Tiger did on the other three days. He played solid golf. Pain free. With a smile on his face. And after each round, he was none the worse for wear.

Ultimately, as I said here over and over last week, the only thing that mattered for Woods was to finish four rounds and get up on Monday (today) and be able to go play again. Winning or losing wasn't nearly as important as establishing that he's healthy again.

Now, in much the same way that TV analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo were forced to admit they were surprised at Tiger's stellar play, I'll do the same thing here. I didn't see him throwing three under-par rounds together, for sure. I'm happy to be wrong about his scoring ability.

But this was a small-field event with no cut on a course that offered little resistance of its own, instead needing Saturday's troubling winds and weather to keep the scores down. While it was still tournament golf, the Masters it wasn't.

It was, however, a fair test for Tiger. And he passed every part of the exam with flying colors.

The next question, of course, is the biggie: "Can Woods win again?"

There's an easy answer for that one. "He can win again IF HE STAYS HEALTHY."

I'd say there's little doubt at all about that situation. The swings he produced for four days looked as good as anything he's done since 2013. Better, in fact. He's staying down in the shot much better than he did circa 2015/2016 when he was ailing, and his turn away from the ball is producing a wider arc and increasing the length of his swing, which is why he's hitting the ball so far.

His short game and putting will be his meal ticket going forward, though, like they've always been. Remember, even after his personal issues of 2009, Woods still won on TOUR at an alarming rate in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He just didn't win any majors. His inability to capitalize on the par 5's and some shaky putting were the two biggest reasons for his failures.

Only time will tell if he has the goods to win a major again. It takes four days of great golf to win a Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA. Tiger can play great golf again, as he showed this past weekend in the Bahamas. But can he play great golf four days in succession?

He took a big step in that direction at the Hero World Challenge.

Some guy named Fowler won the tournament.

But Woods was the biggest winner of them all.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.

Last night in Champaign, Illinois, the Maryland Terrapins won an overtime basketball game against Illinois in which they turned the ball over 25 times, gave up 49 second half points, and failed to get even one stop during the five minutes of extended play.

I’ll say that one more time: The Terps outscored Illinois 17-16 in overtime, and Illinois scored on every possession. It was extremely fortunate for the Terps to leave the State Farm Center with a 92-91 victory.

Every individual hero for Maryland was also a goat at some time in the game, but the game was finally decided when Anthony Cowan was fouled while shooting by the Fighting Illini’s Mark Alstork with the game tied and .6 seconds remaining on the clock.

Cowan calmly made the first free throw, and missed the second intentionally, thus denying Illinois the opportunity to throw a long pass, without time running off the clock, for a potential game winning shot.

Maryland's Anthony Cowan had a huge game vs. Illinois on Sunday night, with 27 points and the game-winning free throw as time expired in overtime.

Terp head coach Mark Turgeon decided to start the game with a big lineup. By moving Kevin Huerter to the two spot and Justin Jackson to the small forward, it left room to put Ivan Bender and Michal Cekovsky at the 4 and 5 positions. The move paid off early as Maryland scored all 10 of its points in the paint before the first media timeout. When you combine those easy buckets with five early Illini turnovers, you get a 10-0 Terp lead at the 15:57 mark of the first half.

The frenetic pace was much to Maryland's liking and the bigs under the basket were either scoring or getting fouled. It was a good early recipe for success for Maryland.

And Illinois didn't help their cause with poor shooting, either.

Six consecutive Illini possessions resulted in six three-point attempts and six misses. Meanwhile, Maryland continued their torrid shooting. A time out by Illini coach, Brad Underwood, temporarily halted the onslaught, but Maryland had built a 36-20 advantage.

The Terps stayed in the zone for the remainder of the half and used it to grow the lead to 45-26 at the break. Maryland shot an impressive 73% from the floor during the opening 20 minutes.

Maryland came out in a man-to-man defense to start the second half and were able to push the lead to 22 points.

But the game changed quickly. Maryland went over three minutes without scoring from the floor, turning the ball over four times while watching Illinois narrow the lead to 11 points. During that stretch they turned the ball over 4 more times, helping Illinois cut the lead to 11. A layup by Trent Frazier and 2 threes by sharpshooter Aaron Jordon trimmed the Terp lead to 6 with 9:41 remaining.

Leron Black started working one on one against Bruno Fernando and was having success. Fernando looked a bit timid as he nursed his three fouls. Maryland, who was having a hard time running good offensive sets, hit another 3-minute scoring drought, from 8:21 to 5:06, and it cost them most of their lead.

Illinois gained their first advantage of the entire game, 74-73, on an Alstork 3 pointer with 1:51 left.

The two teams would then combine for an astonishing eight turnovers before another point would be scored. Some of the turnovers were totally inexcusable. None more than Cowan failing to cross half court in the allowed 10 seconds, without being pressured. He simple walked up too slowly.

There were about 18 seconds left when Maryland’s Darryl Morsell had his shot rejected and the ball eventually reached the hands of Illinois guard, Te’Jon Lucas. Lucas was immediately fouled and went to the foul line where he made only one of two free throws, extending the Illinois lead to 75-73.

There were 17 seconds left for the Terps to tie the game or perhaps take a lead with a three pointer. The ball never left the hands of Cowan. Cowan drove the ball to about one step inside the foul line and attempted to get off a floater but his arm was locked down by Alstork in what should have been a very obvious foul. But this game was in Illinois and no whistle sounded. The ball drifted out of bounds and, after a referee review, was given to the Fighting Illini under their own basket.

Down two, with Illinois in the double bonus, Maryland needed a miracle, or two. They got both of them.

Da’Monte Williams inbounded the ball with a long pass down court that sailed out of bounds without anyone having touched the ball. As per the rules, the ball was awarded to Maryland at the spot of the previous throw in attempt.

Dion Wiley got the throw in into the hands of Huerter for a clean look at a game winning 3 from the left corner. The shot looked good but was a bit short. The ball hit the rim, bounced over it, and wound up in a position where miracle number 2 could happen.

Bruno Fernando had established weak side position and was in the perfect spot to control the rebound and tip it in, from 5 feet away. He did just that, never coming down with the ball but controlled it with one hand and tipped it in one motion. The buzzer-beating shot was good and the game was going into overtime.

Maryland controlled the overtime tip, but failed to convert when a Wiley three was way off the mark. It would be the game’s last possession without a score. I won’t give you the play by play, but in a nutshell the next five minutes consisted of Illinois scoring and Maryland answering with a score of their own.

Maryland was able get the ball with a chance to win it because of two three-point plays. One was a Cowan old fashioned three, the other was a clutch Huerter jumper from behind the three-point line with 39 seconds left.

With 17 seconds remaining, and the game tied courtesy of an Alstork layup, the ball was again in the hands of Anthony Cowan.

Without ever passing, Cowan dribbled away most of the 17 seconds before driving hard to the right side of the key. The shot was blocked but Cowan was fouled hard by Alstork. The game ended when Cowan hit the first shot, giving Maryland a one point lead, and then intentionally missed the second shot. Illinois never had a chance to answer.

It would be easy apply the “Hero of the Game” tag to Anthony Cowan for his 27 points and game ending play, but he turned the ball over seven times tonight (including that totally inexcusable 10 second call) and failed to get his teammates into their offensive sets when the tides were turning midway into the second half.

Huerter hit some really big shots, but he too had some bad turnovers included in his 5 for the night.

Bruno Fernando’s tip in kept the Terps from losing in regulation, but he got lit up by Black (8 for 11 from the field) in the second half.

The Terps were so hot in the first half, and Illinois so cold, that you couldn’t reasonably expect the huge Maryland lead to be sustained.

However, when the tides turned and Illinois got hot, I thought Maryland showed a bit of “panic”.

They could benefit greatly from having a second true ball handler, but that guy isn’t in the program right now. Teams will continue to pressure the ball against the Maryland dribblers, and the Terps will need to learn how to handle it.

They won’t win many games committing 25 turnovers. There was not one player on Maryland’s team that had more assists than turnovers. That might never happen again in any other game this year.

Maryland overcame a lot in order to get this victory. You can include a bit of “home cooking” into the list. They will continue to learn and continue to get better.

Maryland now has a month of non-conference games before retuning to Big 10 action against Penn State on January 2nd in the XFINITY Center.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the electric light orchestra next august!

One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

The great Jeff Lynne of ELO, coming to Philadelphia in August!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

Week 13

Sunday — December 3, 2017
Volume XXXXI — Issue 3

Detroit Lions vs. Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium

Spread: Ravens -3

Another Sunday, another "really-need-to-win-this-one" for the Ravens.

They did it to themselves, of course. That's what starting 4-4 will get you.

The Detroit Lions come to town today for a big game, although dropping a decision to a team from the NFC isn't nearly as potentially-crippling as losing to an AFC side.

Still, in a conference where 9-7 might be good enough for a playoff spot and 8-8 likely won't, you can't afford to lose many when you're 6-5 with five weeks left.

So, the Ravens need this one today.

Detroit comes in with the same sort of body of work as the Ravens in 2017.

Can Terrell Suggs continue his fine play of late with another wrecking-ball game against the Lions today in Baltimore?

They're also 6-5 on the year and they've established a pretty easy-to-figure-out routine thus far in the regular season. They beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones, mostly.

Here's a list of the Lions' wins this year: Cardinals, Giants, Vikings, Packers (without Rodgers), Browns and Bears. You and I could put a team from the old neighborhood together and go 4-2 against those six teams.

Detroit's losses: Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Steelers and Vikings. All five are above .500 and in prime playoff position heading into December.

So, the big question is this: Are the Ravens a good team or a bad team?

Following the formula above, if the Ravens are a good team the Lions are losing today in Baltimore. If Baltimore's a bad team, Detroit leaves with a win.

Much has been made this week about Matthew Stafford's passing numbers in 2017 and how the Ravens are going to have their hands full with him today.


But this is Baltimore. And even though the Ravens aren't as tough to beat at home as they were five years ago, it's still an uphill battle to come to town and outscore the Ravens in their own building.

Oh, and just in case you haven't noticed, the Ravens' defense has stepped up in class since Brandon Williams returned to the lineup last month. With Williams playing, the Ravens allow less than 80 yards per-game rushing. When he was out for four weeks, the defense was allowing roughly 150 yards per-game on the ground.

So, yes, Brandon Williams has made a difference.

And the Lions can't run the ball for jack-squat, which puts even more pressure on Stafford and his receivers today.

The other quarterback on the field will be feeling the heat as well. Joe Flacco is the lowest rated "regular quarterback" in the league in 2017, which isn't all his fault, as we've outlined here at #DMD many times over the last six weeks or so.

But Flacco's in charge and the game today will be put in his hands, for better or worse. I don't see him losing at home to Matthew Stafford, but stranger things have happened.

And a win today would send the Ravens to Pittsburgh for next Sunday night's showdown in fairly good position to secure a playoff spot. Even a loss next week wouldn't crush them, as long as they finish off the season with expected wins at Cleveland and at home over Indianapols and Cincinnati.

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keys to today's game

For the Ravens --

Joe Flacco vs. Matt Stafford today in Baltimore. Can Flacco outplay his NFL counterpart?

No turnovers on offense -- Simply put, the Texans lost last Monday's game because they turned it over three times and the Ravens didn't turn it over once. It's a simple formula, really. Protect the ball when you're running with it, don't throw it stubbornly into traffic when you do have to air it out, and try and win the turnover battle by forcing a couple yourself. For the Ravens, if they can finish with no more than one turnover, that should be enough to get the job done.

Force Stafford out, not in -- When the Ravens come off the edge and pressure Stafford, their goal should be to force him outside the pocket. When he's reading the play well, Stafford will actually step in to avoid the pressure and that extra bit of time with his feet set is all he needs to make good, accurate throws. If they Ravens can force him to run outside the pocket, they stand a really good chance of limiting his success rate.

Get something out of the run game -- How about 30 total carries for 140 yards? Do those numbers work? That's what Marty Mornhinweg and the Ravens should be trying to do this afternoon. Control the clock, pile up the rushing yards, and open the passing game for Flacco. The Ravens tried running the ball on Monday night against Houston and it didn't work all that well. Hopefully they can change things up today and generate some yards and production on the ground.

For the Lions --

Score first and early -- As Houston did on Monday night, the Lions can go a long way in keeping themselves in the game for the duration by scoring first. When the Ravens open the scoring, they tend to go on and win easily. When they don't score first, they typically lose. In fact, last Monday night was the first time all year the Ravens won after the opposing team scored first. The Lions need to strike early and start the ball-control game.

Throw at anyone but Jimmy Smith -- Sure, DeAndre Hopkins had some success going head-to-head with Jimmy Smith on Monday night, but that's DeAndre Hopkins -- he's one of the top five receivers in the NFL. The Lions would be well served to avoid Smith at all costs today. All you're doing by throwing the ball in his direction is setting yourself up for frustration and failure. If Marlon Humphrey is still hampered by injury, that could really help Detroit's potential for a win.

Get the Ravens into 3rd and long a lot-- The Ravens are miserable on 3rd down. If the Lions can work hard on downs one and two and put the Ravens in a bunch of 3rd and 6 situations, Detroit will get the ball back quite often. The 3rd down stat might very well decide today's game.

how drew sees today's game

This one's going to require the Ravens' full attention today.

The Lions are good enough to put up 27 points or more. And if they do that, I'd be surprised if the Ravens could produce 28.

I certainly wouldn't be shocked to see John Harbaugh's team lose today. They're playing a team with the same record as them. Neither team does anything great that could offset the other team's biggest weakness.

These are too "OK teams" going at it today. It's basically a coin-flip game.

But I'm going with the Ravens to win a thriller, 23-20 in overtime.

They'll get a scoop-and-score by Eric Weddle in the first half and a Flacco TD throw to Mike Wallace for their other touchdown.

Justin Tucker will kick two field goals in regulation, including one late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.

Tucker then hits from 44 yards in OT to give the Ravens a much-needed victory.

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show me the money

We almost got back to .500 last week.

If not for Denver failing to cover at Oakland, #DMD would have thrown a perfect 5-0 mark at 'em last Sunday.

Alas, the 4-1 record gets us oh-so-close to level, and my guess is we'll be in the black for the season by the time the 4 pm games roll around today.

We'll go back to our Super-Expert-Insider, who is making everyone's Christmas a lot brighter these days. Whatever you're thinking of wagering today, double it. The man is red hot.

TEXANS AT TITANS (-6.5) -- Earlier this year, Tennessee was embarrassed by Houston (with DeShaun Watson) to the tune of 57-14. Things won't be quite as easy for the Texans today, as the Titans try and stay alive in the AFC South. We're taking Tennessee to win and handily cover the spread in a 30-17 victory over Houston.

PANTHERS AT SAINTS (-5.0) -- Look for the Panthers to run the ball more effectively than they did earlier this season when the Saints won the first match-up. Carolina is primed to show they're for real and today's game in New Orleans is a great opportunity. We're taking the Panthers plus the five points and even calling a Carolina upset here, 31-28.

COLTS AT JAGUARS (-9.0) -- Many folks call this a "trap game", with the Colts getting a whopping nine points on the road in a divisional contest. Jacksonville should be able to handle this one today and their defense is just too good for the Colts. Jacksonville wins and covers, 23-10, although it might take a late score to wrap it up all nicely for you.

GIANTS AT RAIDERS (-8.0) -- I might be feeling my "DMD oats" with this one, as my successful run over the last month has me reaching into my bag of tricks for a real 5-star shocker today. So here goes. I'm going with the Giants to cover here, mainly because I feel like they're due to put up a premium effort and the Raiders just aren't really all that good. Oakland still wins, 24-20, but the Giants cover the eight points.

PATRIOTS (-8.5) AT BILLS -- Any team giving up 8.5 points to the home side in a divisional game is a risky wager, but this isn't "any team". It's the Patriots. And despite the fact that this is the game that might or might not put Buffalo in the playoffs, New England just has too much firepower. The moment is never too big for them. We're going with the Patriots here, 33-24, as they beat the number by a mere half-point.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- We're taking the Panthers in New Orleans -- getting five points -- as the "Best Bet" today. Look for Carolina to play 'em hard down there.




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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.

terps face illinois on the road tonight

As the Michael Bublé song goes, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life…and I’m feeling good”.

I’m not so sure they are feeling that good yet in Champaign, Illinois, but there is a whole lot of “new” in the State Farm Center these days. The Fighting Illini have a new coach, a few new players getting minutes, and a new style of play.

Entering his rookie season as the head coach at Illinois, Brad Underwood took the job after leaving Oklahoma State only one year into his contract.

Everywhere he's gone, Brad Underwood has been a winner. Expect the same for him at Illinois. Hopefully it doesn't begin tonight when the Terps come to town.

Prior to his stint in Stillwater, one that ended with a heartbreaking 92-91 first round NCAA Tournament defeat to Michigan, Underwood had three successful seasons at the helm of Stephen F. Austin’s program. Those three years produced 3 Southland Conference Championships, 3 NCAA Tournament appearances and two trips to the round of 32 after first round wins against VCU in 2014 and West Virginia in 2015.

The guy can coach.

Underwood brings with him a more energetic and aggressive tempo on both ends of the court.

You can expect more pressure from the Fighting’ Illini defense this year and more push on offense. You’ll also see Underwood’s team run better sets than they did last season under departed coach John Groce. Groce was let go after 5 unproductive seasons and a 37-53 record.

Not only did Illinois replace their coach, but they all needed to replace the four players who played the most minutes for them in 2016-2017.

Gone from the roster are Malcolm Hill, Maverick Morgan, and Tracy Abrams who all graduated. Also, Jalen-Coleman Lands elected to transfer to Depaul. That leaves a ton of minutes available.

Some of that available playing time has gone to graduate transfer Mark Alstork. The 6’5” Alstork is much traveled in his 5 years of college basketball. After a freshman year at Ball State, he transferred to Wright State where had had an outstanding two season career after sitting out the required one year. An All-Horizon League selection last year, he scored over 1000 points while wearing the Wright State uniform.

Alstork has yet to find his shooting touch at Illinois, but is a solid contributor on the defensive and has started all 8 games for the 6-2 Illini.

Another newcomer, freshman Mark Smith, is a big guard at 6’4” and 225 pounds and has earned a starting role while getting 22 minutes per game. He is an energetic defender but his offensive game has yet to live up to his consensus four-star, top 100 high school recruit rating.

Last year’s “Mr. Basketball” in Illinois is shooting 39% from the field and 16% from the three-point line. He is gifted physically, especially for a freshman and puts you in mind of a young ex-Terp, Sean Mosely, at the same stage of his career.

The starting five is rounded out by three returnees from last year’s team. Te’Jon Lucas, Leron Black, and Michael Finke all saw about 20 minutes per game last year.

Lucas, a 6’1” guard who started 15 games last year, led Illinois in assists per game in the 2016-2017 season. Three-point shot have been trouble for him also. He has hit only 8 of 50 attempts. He’s a high energy guy and likes to play chest-to-chest defense.

Leron Black is the best overall player on this Illini team. He is big and strong at 6’7” and most of his 230 pounds are muscle. The junior missed a season with meniscus surgery, but looks to be in top form now. He leads his team in both scoring and rebounding. After chasing Vince Edward around for 40 minutes, the Terps Justin Jackson will now have the chore of bodying-up Black. The former Mr. Basketball Tennessee has solid numbers offensively, hitting 52% from the field, 37% from long range, and 85% from the foul line. He’ll need to continue with that type of output for Illinois to enjoy any type of success this year.

The remaining starter for Illinois is the slender center Michael Finke. At 6’10” and only 235, Finke is much more likely to hurt you from the perimeter as opposed to posting up his man and beating him in the paint. More than half of Finke’s field goal attempts have been from beyond the three-point line. He’s adequate from there, hitting a respectable 36%.

Although Underwood will play a bunch of different combinations (9 of his players get 17 minutes or more per game) the only one of note in Aaron Jordan. Jordan is statistically the top long-range shooter in college basketball. He has pumped in a scary 66% of his threes. 20 of his 30 attempts have found their mark thus far this season.

So what can we expect tonight at Illinois?

For sure you can expect pressure defense in the half court from Illinois. They like to get right up into your chest and cause issues with you running your half court sets.

You can also expect them to occasionally give up an easy bucket as a result of their overly aggressive style. They don’t guard the interior very well, especially during the minutes when Black is on the sidelines.

Look for them to push the ball on offense. They have a tough time dealing with a zone defense during their loss to Wake Forrest, but we shouldn’t expect Mark Turgeon’s Terp to deviate from their standard man-to-man defense.

Maryland should, and will, exploit the week interior of the Illinois defense.

I expect the Terps to get 50 points, combined, from the 3,4, and 5 spots. The matchup for Maryland’s Anthony Cowan is not very favorable for his scoring, but his assist numbers could take a solid uptick as he will continually find bigger Terps inside for good looks and easy points.

It won’t be easy for Maryland, as Illinois has capable athletes, but Maryland’s inside size and overall skill level should prevail in what promises to be a tightly contested ball game in Champaign.

The line has been set with the Terps favored by 2.5 points. Let’s go 69-65, with Maryland winning in a relatively low scoring affair.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the electric light orchestra next august!

One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

The great Jeff Lynne of ELO, coming to Philadelphia in August!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

December 2
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issue 2
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woods claims "surgery was successful" and his golf so far validates it

I wrote it earlier this week.

There was something in the way Tiger Woods looked in the lead-up to the Hero World Challenge that told me he knew something we didn't.

In the past, the question was always: "Is Tiger's back going to hold up?" and he would always say, "We'll see, I hope it does." And then, on at least three occasions, it didn't hold up.

This time, as I wrote on Tuesday, it looked a lot different. And then Thursday and Friday, Woods even sounded different in his post-round interviews.

He didn't sound like a man who was worried. There wasn't concern in his voice or on his face.

“No issues at all, none,” Tiger said when asked how his body was holding up after his second round 68. “That's one of the reasons I went out and played nine straight days before (this event). My body's accustomed to playing now. It's a little different playing tournament golf with tournament speed and hitting certain shots, but the body's good.”

"The surgery was successful," he concluded. "I'm good to go."

The scene last February when Woods teed it up in Dubai and was unable to play two full rounds before withdrawing.

And there you had it. Woods, at the podium, essentially confirming -- at least for now -- that he's on the fast track to being 100% healthy, something most of us thought was next-to-impossible just six months ago when the 14-time major champion was arrested for driving under the influence in Florida.

Admittedly, that was a bad, bad scene. How Woods went from that moment in late May to hitting driver, 3-wood to 20-feet on a 609 yard hole yesterday is mind-boggling. In February, he couldn't hit a wedge shot from 100 yards to within 20 feet of the flag.

I told a friend this yesterday when we were talking about Tiger and his 69-68 (7-under) start to the tournament: If you just flew in from Pluto on Friday and hadn't been on planet Earth for the last ten years, you'd have no idea -- by watching him play now -- that he's essentially been on the shelf since 2015.

Other than a few wrinkles near his eyes (and a shortening hair line that you can't see under his hat, anyway), you wouldn't notice Tiger looking any older. You'd never be able to tell that he had been ailing if you saw him hit a golf shot on Friday in the Bahamas.

As Brandel Chamblee noted again on Friday: "It looks like 2008 all over again."

That's not to say that Tiger's going to return to his 2008 golfing form right away. He won't, in fact.

But this transformation he's undergone is miracle-like.

I wouldn't go as far as to call it suspicious, but there are some things about his comeback that don't quite line up. Unless, plain and simple, Woods is Superman.

He hasn't played tournament golf since last February. Every other player in the field has played, on average, 30 events over the last 10 months.

Yet there's Woods, going toe-to-toe with all of them, outperforming 75% of the field, and forcing people like Chamblee and his fellow TV analyst Frank Nobilo to do a complete "360" on their pre-tournament opinion of his return to the sport he once dominated.

How on earth is all of this possible when we just saw a video of him at the end of August, where he was gleefully hitting a 60-yard wedge shot for the first time since his surgery?

Remember that?

A month after the wedge shot, we saw him hitting a driver on a social media video he published.

A few weeks later, he revealed "the stinger" video for everyone.

That was in late October.

In late November, he was playing golf again like he never missed a day.


Super surgery?

I don't understand it, honestly.

And the look of joy on Friday after a second-straight pain-free day of golf and a round of 68.

And that's why I wrote what I wrote earlier this week when I indicated that something about Woods looked "different" this time around.

"It's as if he knows he's healthy again and that he's going to be able to compete," I wrote on Tuesday.

He was in on the secret all along.

I don't know how long he's known it. But Woods knows. His back is better. Somehow. And even though you can't replace lost time, there are still years left for him to chase down golf records.

I always said the biggest reason why Tiger couldn't do it anymore was because of his health. He never lost his ability to play golf. But his health wouldn't allow him to practice, prepare and play enough to get back to the championship level he was seeking.

I -- like Chamblee and Nobilo -- was apparently wrong.

If these first two days in the Bahamas are a true reflection of his health (not his golf game...his health), then he has turned back the clocks, through the efforts of a surgeon, and he very well might be able to step back into the spotlight again in 2018 and complete for wins and major championships.

I don't see him winning this tournament in the Bahamas. In fact, if I had some extra money to wager, I'd probably thrown a buck or two down on a round of 75 or higher on either Saturday or Sunday this weekend. Fatigue will set in soon. He'll make a couple of loose swings. And he'll have one of those days like every other mere mortal has at some point.

But that won't take away from what we've seen thus far.

All that ever mattered in this event was for Woods to play four days pain-free. That's it, period.

The 68-69 start is nice and it makes for good copy and some interesting hot takes. "Can Tiger get to 20 majors now?" I saw a national golf columnist ask on Friday, in the jumping-the-gun question of the day.

But this tournament isn't about winning for Tiger, and I'm stressing that point even if he somehow comes back to win this weekend.

It's about playing.

It's about recovery.

It's about being healthy again and getting ready for 2018.

I have no idea how he's done it, but Tiger looks like he's ready for a "real" return to the PGA Tour next year.

If so, we're very lucky to have him back.

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terps fall at home to purdue in big ten opener

The Maryland Terrapins never said “die” last night, right up until Jared Nickens had missed a three that would have tied the game with 13 seconds remaining.

Nickens had a good look from the left corner but was way off the mark and the Terps suffered an 80-75 home defeat to the Boilermakers of Purdue.

It was a game that saw Purdue build double digit leads in both halves only to have Maryland fight back each time. However, the better team won as Purdue was just too big, too seasoned, and too much for the Terrapins to handle.

All five starters for Purdue scored at least 10 points led by Isaac Haas with 21 and Dakota Mathias with 18. The two combined to shoot 17 of 23 from the floor. Anthony Cowan had 20 for Maryland while Kevin Huerter poured in 19.

Perhaps still fighting the NBA flu, Justin Jackson has experienced a miserable start to his sophomore campaign after deciding not to enter the pro ranks last summer.

In the first half, only a late run fueled by offensive rebounding allowed the Terps to overcome the size of Isaac Haas and the torrid shooting of Dakota Mathias.

Haas made 6 of 7 shots from the floor, all inside the paint, while Mathias hit all seven of his attempts from the floor including 4-4 from behind the three-point line. Between the two of them they tallied 30 of Purdue’s 43 first half points.

Haas, and his fellow 7-foot Boilermaker Matt Haarms, blocked 5 shots in the half and altered nearly every other Terp attempt to score from close range.

Purdue built a 38-24 lead with only 3:29 left in the half before Maryland managed to get to the foul line, hit a few threes, and cut the lead at intermission to only six points. Ten first half offensive rebounds, including four from Justin Jackson, kept the Terps within striking distance.

For the half Maryland held an 18-14 rebounding advantage.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon elected early to allow his post defenders to handle Haas without help. That strategy worked well…for Haas.

The big 7’2” 290 pound center feasted on whatever defender attempted to guard him one on one. It wasn’t until Maryland began to bring help that Haas could no longer make his one or two dribble move to the bucket for an easy two points.

But, kick-outs to Mathias were just as effective. Mathias never missed a three pointer in the first half going a perfect 4 for 4 from behind the three-point line. Actually, Mathias never missed at all in a first half that saw him connect on all seven of his shots.

Haas and Haarms blocked 5 shots in the first half (seven overall), including 3 of Darryl Morsell’s first 5 shots. There were many times when Maryland players chose not to even attempt a shot from close range for fear of it being rejected. At other times a Terp would put up an adjusted shot that had no chance of going in the hoop. It’s the reason they shot 33% in the first half and only 35% for the game.

The second half started with an up and under by Morsell followed by a ferocious fast break dunk by Fernando that quickly cut the Purdue lead to 43-41, and forced Boilermaker head coach, Matt Painter, to call a time-out only 56 seconds into the half.

Huerter then hit a three to give Maryland their first lead. A short two-footer by Hass immediately returned the lead to Purdue.

At the 17:39 mark of the second half, two questionable calls against Maryland got the best of Mark Turgeon and he was hit with a technical foul that wound up giving Purdue two points from the foul line.

Turgeon called a time out but the momentum had swung to Purdue’s side. A three by Vince Edwards gave Purdue a 6 point lead, 50-44, and by then, the Terps had already been charged with 5 personal fouls. There were none whistled on Purdue at that point. Goaltending by Huerter after a poor Maryland offensive possession pushed the Boilermaker lead back to double digits at 54-44 with 15:49 remaining in the half.

Both teams then hit a bit of a dry spell offensively, and Purdue held a 57-51 advantage with 11:35 left in the game.

However, during this time, the refs decided to even up the foul situation a bit. When play resumed after the sub-12-minute TV timeout, Maryland had moved into the bonus and Anthony Cowan was going to the foul line. He hit both and the lead was down to just four points.

Morsell did a little shake and bake while going to the rim for a nifty runner and the lead was down to 2 with 10:40 left and the loud crowd was going nuts. When Haarms missed a jumper, Maryland had a chance to take their first lead of the second half.

Unfortunately for the Terps, Nickens missed a three and Morsell turned the ball over on the next possession. Four of the next five Terp trips down court ended with Morsell misses, with the lone conversion being a Huerter three pointer.

Purdue was nursing a four point lead when Huerter connected on the first of two foul shots. The second one missed but ended up in the hands of Justin Jackson on the low right blocks. In what was a pivotal sequence, Jackson backed into his defender committing an offensive foul. Purdue went to their go-to guy, Haas, who made a layup while being fouled by Jackson. The old fashioned three-point play by Haas gave Purdue a six point lead that eventually grew to nine on another easy basket by Haas.

An Anthony Cowan seven-point burst (a four-point play followed by a three-point play) in only 10 seconds cut the Purdue lead to three with 42 seconds remaining.

Incredibly, Cowan stole a pass in Maryland’s ensuing full court press. The Terps had new life, but Nickens, after a Purdue time out where they evidently decided not to foul, couldn’t get the game tying three to go down.

Morsell and Jackson had horrible nights offensively.

Morsell was a woeful 3 for 16 from the field. He missed all 4 of his three point attempts, but did go 3 for 3 from the foul line. I can’t decide if it was tenacity or stupidity that made him continually drive the ball inside and float shots for Haas or Haarms to swat away.

Perhaps he had never played against that kind of size, but Morsell far too often found himself in a no-win situation close to the basket.

Jackson suffered the same fate on most of his attempts at accumulating points in the paint. He was 1-8 from the floor and 0 for 3 from the three-point line. This continues his disappointing offensive season that has seen him convert on only 33% of his shots overall, and just a concerning 22% of his three-point attempts.

That was a quality Purdue team that beat Maryland on Friday night.

Their seniors get an overwhelming majority of the playing time, they shoot the ball very well, they have great size, and their guards are steady. Combined, the starters hit over 80% of their attempts from the free throw line, making comebacks against them even more difficult.

They defend well, too.

Don’t be surprised to see them in the Sweet Sixteen or even Elite Eight if their matchups are favorable.

There were some positives to take away from the loss. Maryland managed to cut down their turnovers, committing just 7.

Huerter was impressive and Cowan was also.

Bruno Fernando had 12 points in 24 minutes to go along with 7 rebounds, although he needs to improve defensively for Maryland to win against quality opponents.

The Terps are so young and they are still learning.

Friday night, we may have found out how good Purdue really is. I’m not sure we yet know how good Maryland can become.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the electric light orchestra next august!

One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

The great Jeff Lynne of ELO, coming to Philadelphia in August!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

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December 1
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issue 31
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who was that guy looking just like tiger woods?

In moments like the one we saw unfold yesterday in the Bahamas, I immediately start looking for the critics to see what they have to say.

That's the real barometer worth gauging, for if they're going to break down and say something complimentary, that tells you that perhaps your eyes didn't deceive you after all.

So that's what I did late Thursday afternoon after Tiger Woods completed his first professional round of golf since last February.

I went looking for the critics.

I know what I saw. It was -- for one round -- far better than I could have imagined, particularly given that the golf course didn't roll over and yield a bunch of wildly low scores. Yes, 15 of the 18 players broke par yesterday, but six-under is a fairly benign leading total for a PGA Tour event that features the high-quality field boasted by the Hero World Challenge.

He was all smiles yesterday. Playing in just his fourth golf tournament in 27 months, Tiger Woods kicked off the Hero World Challenge with an opening round 69 that had the golf world buzzing.

Tiger Woods started his "comeback" with a solid, tidy three-under par round of 69, leaving him three shots behind leader Tommy Fleetwood. And Woods bogeyed two of the course's five par 5's in shooting that 69.

But what did the critics think? We'll get to them in a second.

I wrote here earlier this week that I sense something different about Woods this time around. That I can't exactly put my finger on it only adds to the mystery, I suppose. But there's something in the way Tiger "looks" that tells me he's in on the secret.

Others noted that yesterday and earlier this week, including guys who know far, far more than me.

"You can see it in his step, the way he's walking around the course, hitting shots, needling the guys. He's healthy again," said Jim "Bones" Mackay, who now works as an-course analyst for NBC and is on site this week.

That's sorta-kinda what I tried to write earlier this week, in a nutshell. It's as if Tiger knows this time is different because he can feel it in a way he couldn't before.

And yesterday's golf supported that theory. I'll repeat again, more for my sake than anything else: It was one round of golf. Tiger's "comeback" is just beginning. If he gets through all four rounds of this golf tournament pain-free, he can move on to the second inning, so to speak.

But for four hours on Thursday, Woods looked remarkably on point.

And now, to the critics, including perhaps the harshest one of them all, Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel.

"It's the best I've seen Tiger swing the golf club since all of his injuries and the ugly incident in 2009," Chamblee said early last evening on the "post-game show".

Chamblee saying that about Woods is akin to me saying something complimentary about the Philadelphia Flyers.

By the way, I'm delighted to report that the Flyers go gunning for their 10th straight loss tomorrow afternoon at home vs. Boston. But I digress...

"The speed of the swing, the way he's staying in the shot, the length off the tee. It all points to someone who is completely healthy and not feeling any ill effects of a serious back injury," continued Chamblee.

"If he can continue to swing the club like that and work on the short game stuff and get that straightened out, he can absolutely win again out there," Chamblee claimed.

Chamblee noted that Tiger misplayed two chip shots around the green, which was a fair part of the post-round analysis. Indeed, Woods did misplay two short shots, but so, too, did Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. The sticky, wet bermuda grass didn't just confound Woods on Thursday.

Frank Nobilo of The Golf Channel said last summer he couldn't see Woods coming back and playing well again. "Regrettably, I'm saying 'it's over' for Tiger," Nobilo said. "The injuries are just too much to overcome."

Nobilo changed his tune yesterday. "I was wrong about that, obviously," he said. "He looks like a new man out there. He's Tiger again."

I don't know about that statement. I don't think you can say "he's Tiger again" based off of one round, but the shots he hit yesterday were certainly gentle-but-obvious reminders of days gone by, when Woods would tomahawk a drive 340 yards in the middle of the fairway and scorch a 3-iron from 250 yards to within twenty feet of the cup to set up a routine two-putt birdie on a 590-yard par five hole.

But if Chamblee and Nobilo can bubble over with enthusiasm about Woods, that tells me almost as much as yesterday's good golf did.

Chamblee would rather eat a nail than compliment Tiger. But he's a professional and an extraordinarily fair and honest analyst of both the golf swing and the people on TOUR who make them. That Chamblee lauded Woods yesterday was really all the support the 14-time major champion needed.

It was great to see Woods back on Thursday.

Where this comeback effort takes him is anyone's guess, still. If he can maintain his health -- which is still very much a question -- he might be able to get back in the mix again and compete.

But on Thursday, at least, someone looking a lot like Tiger Woods showed up in the Bahamas and took us back in time.

And even the critics seemed happy about it.

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local hoops showcase is worth seeing

The 3rd annual Shirts vs. Skins Basketball Classic kicks off tonight at Coppin State and runs throughout this evening and again all day Saturday at Coppin State University.

My friend Brian O'Shea has done a remarkable job of putting this event together and this year's edition promises to be his best effort yet.

For starters, if you've never been to the new athletic facility at Coppin State, that's worth the trip all on its own. The building is one of the best in the area.

O'Shea has once again brought several of the East Coast's top high school basketball teams to town for a packed schedule of games over the next two days. If you're a fan of top-notch high school basketball players, with Division I candidates littered throughout the rosters of the participating teams, than you have to make the trip to Coppin State sometime this weekend.

The games begin tonight at 5 pm (three H.S. contests tonight) and continue on Saturday with seven games (starting at 11 am), including local Catholic League powers Mount Carmel (7:00 pm) and St. Frances Academy (8:30 pm).

#DMD is always proud to support well-organized events like this one that showcases local high school sports. In addition, we're excited to help O'Shea with his dream and vision of putting together a high quality event that showcases Baltimore and its ability to draw some of the best basketball powerhouses in the mid-Atlantic and beyond.

For the complete schedule of games Friday and Saturday, please go here.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.

maryland kicks off big ten play tonight

The Maryland men’s basketball team (6-2) will begin their fourth Big Ten season in unprecedented fashion as they take on two conference foes before December is even one week old, beginning with the Purdue Boilermakers (6-2) tonight at 7PM in College Park’s XFINITY Center.

The Terps travel to Illinois for a Sunday night game in just two days, but I expect the tough Boilermakers to get Maryland’s full attention tonight.

Despite the beat-down that the ACC put on the Big Ten in the ACC /BIG 10 Challenge this week, Purdue represented their conference well by defeating Louisville 66-57 in West Lafayette, Indiana. They also handed #2 ranked Arizona a sound whipping, 89-64, in a recent holiday tournament played in the Bahamas.

#DMD's Dale Williams says expect Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter to have a game tonight vs. Purdue down in College Park.

This Purdue team has some nice talent and they can hit shots.

The Boilermakers have four players averaging double figures in points per game.

The leader of this group is 6”1” sophomore guard Carson Edwards and his 17.4 points/game. Edwards plays tough and has been hitting 46% of his field goals, 37% of his threes, and he connects on 84% from the foul line. He is shifty when going into the paint and reminds me of Maryland’s Anthony Cowan.

Edwards is prone to the occasional rushed, or forced shot, but he’ll be a tough match-up for Maryland’s Darryl Morsell or Dion Wiley, assuming that Cowan goes against Purdue’s other smaller guard, 5’10” senior P.J. Thompson.

Thompson is a grizzled Big 10 vet that started all of Purdue’s games last year. While he may be the fifth option on the Boilermaker offensive side, he is ultra-efficient shooting 49%, 51%, and 91% from the floor, three point line, and foul line respectively. His ratio of 16 assists against 4 turnovers is consistent with his 3.92 assist/TO ratio from a year ago.

As a team, Purdue boasts a solid 1.46 assist/TO ratio while Maryland’s is a dismal .84. Thompson can defend too.

The third guard in Purdue’s starting group is another senior; 6’0” 200 pound Dakota Mathias. Mathias has hit 56% of his shots overall, and a whopping 53.5% of his threes find the bottom of the net. His numbers from the floor are so good that one has to believe they can’t be sustained, although he shot 45% from the three point line last year. He has a reputation as a hard worker on the defensive end, with good footwork and active hands. But I expect him to struggle a bit tonight defensively.

More on that in a minute.

Purdue’s starting forward position is manned by yet another senior, Vince Edwards. Edwards is the only active player in America with 1,000 career points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 made 3-pointers.

He is a hard-nosed 6’8” 225lb, competitor who will give Justin Jackson all he can handle. If the Terp’s Jackson wants to impress the NBA scouts with his ability to defend, tonight is a showcase night for him. In addition to Edwards being far and away the Boilermaker’s top rebounder, he can shoot too. 40% of his threes are successful and he is money on the foul line at 92%. Edwards is sure to draw interest from the professional ranks.

Purdue has two look-a-like centers in Senior Isaac Haas, and Freshman Matt Hamms. While similar in appearance, there’s a glaring difference in weight between the two. Haas is big and thick, standing 7’2 and tilting the scales at 290 pounds while Haams is big, and a relative stick, at 7’3” and 250.

Haas is a better scoring option, where once inside he can use his size advantage to get easy looks. Both centers have produced good numbers with Haas hitting 59% from the floor and Haams knocking down 55%. Haas won’t shoot a three and Haams of 0-2 from long range.

It’s a no-brainer to say that Maryland must do a better job protecting the ball if they want to compete in the Big 10. Tonight will be a challenge for them, as all of the Purdue guards like to defend and deny passes. But I can see the Terps being successful is several areas with the most glaring mismatch being at the 3, or small forward position.

Keven Huerter has too much length for Mathias to defend in, and around the paint. Mathias may be able to defend to perimeter, but Huerter can score from anywhere on the court. I look for Maryland to frequently exploit this mismatch.

While Haas and Haams are both big, neither is very quick inside. Combine that with the inside arsenal that Bruno Fernando possesses, and that spells trouble and fouls for the Purdue bigs.

I have yet to see either Purdue center consistently deny the ball from getting inside, instead, opting to contest shots with their height and wing span. Bruno Fernando, even with his inexperience, will exploit the slower foot speed of either Boilermaker center. I look for him to have a big game for Maryland.

Maryland should also have an exploitable size differential at the two-guard position. Wiley and Morsell should have no problem getting off mid-range jumpers against Purdue’s preferred man to man defense. Tonight we will see, when compared to Maryland, a more seasoned, tougher, better shooting Purdue team try to hand the young Terps an opening day loss. If this game was in Indiana, at this early point of the season, I’d expect Purdue to be too much for them.

From position one through five, the Boilermakers have more experience than Maryland and in college basketball that can mean the difference between winning and losing. The odds makers must see that too, as they have installed Purdue as an early two point road favorite. Recent Terp loses to St Bonaventure and Syracuse have pushed away many would be Terp bettors.

That’s a mistake tonight. Opening night in College Park has brought a rare Friday night Big 10 game for the rowdy Terp students and loyal fans. There will finally be an excitement in the air that has been missing from previous home encounters so far this year.

Maryland will pull out the win tonight behind stellar performances by Huerter, Fernando, Morsell, and Justin Jackson’s work on the boards.

It won’t be easy, and the turnovers might again be troublesome, but Maryland has enough to prevail in their home gym. Mark Turgeon's team may not get style points, but the Terps hold on for a 70-68 win.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

With over a third of the season gone when Matchday 15 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning, would it be crazy to say that Manchester City has already locked up the title? They continue to tumble records on a weekly basis and run rampant at the top of the table, with the hopes of any other side catching the runaway league leaders growing slimmer by the week, even with two thirds of the campaign still to go. City will wrap up the weekend action on Sunday but be sure to tune in before then with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, December 2 (all times eastern)

10am – Tottenham @ Watford – Vicarage Road, CNBC

After having almost won the league the last two seasons only to come up short in the final weeks on both occasions, Tottenham can almost assuredly dismiss any hope of making a third run in as many years after they fell to a third straight defeat away from home and dropped sixteen points back of Manchester City following a 2-1 defeat away at Leicester City. They now have only one win to show for their last five outings in the league (L3 D1) and have slid down to seventh in the table, four points adrift of the top four and just one spot above Watford, whom they will visit on Saturday at Vicarage Road.

Although Watford were unable to pull off a miracle second half comeback in the mid-week against Manchester United, the Hornets and Marco Silva find themselves firmly entrenched in the top half of the table and could pull level on points with a victory over Tottenham, although Spurs will like their chances of ending their run of poor form and slide down the table after going unbeaten in their eight all time Premier League meetings with Watford (W6 D2) and taking all three points in their last seven meetings with the Hornets across all competitions, including in their last four trips to Vicarage Road.

Not the best of friends by any means, Arsene Wenger (left) and Jose Mourinho (right) match up this weekend as Wenger and Arsenal look for a big home victory.

12:30pm – Manchester United @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC

After benefitting from some good fortune last weekend with a deflected effort the difference in a 1-0 victory at home over the upstart Brighton and Hove Albion, Manchester United avoided dropping a third straight on the road for the first time in over twenty years when they were three goals to the good by the halftime whistle before holding on in the second half for a 4-2 win over Watford to stay within sight of neighbors Manchester City at the top of the table. They will renew one of the oldest rivalries in English football when they travel to the Emirates Stadium for a showdown with Arsenal.

A four goal second half flurry helped ease the Gunners past the overmatched Huddersfield Town 5-0 and extended their winning streak at the Emirates Stadium to twelve games. They could trim the gap with second place United to only a single point if they are able to continue their streak on home soil in Saturday primetime where they have won the last two in the league and dropped just one of the last five they have welcomed the Red Devils to the capitol (D2), including only one of the last six times the English giants have squared off across all competitions (W3 D2).

Sunday, December 3 (all times eastern)

11am – West Ham United @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Despite being far from their clinical best, and in fact they were downright sloppy throughout much of the contest, Raheem Sterling continued to repay the faith that manager Pep Guardiola has shown in the England international so far this season with his curling effort in the dying seconds of injury time giving Manchester City a 2-1 win over Southampton and extending their win streak to a remarkable nineteen games across all competitions. They will wrap up the weekend action when they welcome relegation favorites West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium which will lead you right into NFL kick off.

The Hammers were humbled in a 4-0 defeat on the road at Everton, making a Toffee offense that has been struggling for form all season look like world beaters against the leakiest defense in the top flight. Sitting in the bottom three and two points from safety, the London club looks destined for a relegation fight throughout the year and, still looking for their first three points on the road this year (L5 D3), head out on the road to the league leaders where they have lost eight of their last nine visits (W1) and have won only two of the last seventeen meetings between the two across all competitions (L12 D3).

breakfast bytes

NHL: Chiasson's two goals lead Caps to 5-3 win in Boston.

NBA: LeBron, Cavs win first showdown with Lakers and Ball, 121-112, as James records 59th career triple-double.

NFL: Broncos outlast Colts in Indy, 25-13, in Thursday Night snoozer.

MLB: Twins sign veteran closer Fernando Rodney to 1-year deal.