August 14
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coaching stuff

I'm enjoying yet another proud coaching moment today. Those kinds of moments seem to come at me far more than my own personal "playing moments" any longer, but that's OK. This is one occasion where I'm thrilled to report on a coaching win rather than a personal playing win.

Lorenzo Sanz, a rising junior who plays for me at Calvert Hall, won a significant junior event in Baltimore yesterday, as he captured a 54-hole tournament held by the American Junior Golf Association. The AJGA is the country's top junior circuit, with hundreds of events staged year-round all over the country.

Among other things, college golf coaches use AJGA results and rankings to help them sift through the country's top amateur golfers -- boys and girls -- for recruiting purposes.

Calvert Hall's Lorenzo Sanz posted a 3-day total of 9-under par at Hillendale to win this week's AJGA event.

Sanz, who grew up playing golf at Pine Ridge, shot 68-67-72 for a 3-day total of 9-under par en-route to his win at Hillendale. Before the win, Lorenzo was #85 in the entire country for his high school class (2022) and was #1 in the state of Maryland.

When you're coaching high school athletes, one thing clearly sticks out about all of them: How hard do they practice?

The best players, even those with extraordinary talent, are also the ones who practice the most. Weird how that goes hand-in-hand, right?

Lorenzo is one of those young golfers who practices hard. In my eight seasons at Calvert Hall, I've had some diligent practicers and extra-hard-workers and Sanz is on that list. He can outwork anyone.

Earlier this year, he won the Bob Benning Junior Invitation in Virginia with rounds of 71-65. If that tournament put college coaches on alert, yesterday's AJGA win gave them official notification that the Maryland native is the real deal.

Prior to the start of second-round play, I sent Lorenzo a quick text. "Play smart. You can't win the event today. Just keep hitting smart shots and stay in it." Sanz responded with a four-under 68 and a 5-shot lead, then wrapped up the tournament with a steady even par round of 72 on Thursday.

Golf being an individual sport for the most part, the majority of gratification comes from a player's tournament results. Our spring MIAA season is, indeed, a "team season", but I enjoy breaking off in the summer and watching my young players get their battle scars on the local and national tournament circuit.

I just had a dad approach me on Monday night at Pine Ridge and asked for a suggestion on how to better prepare his soon-to-be-8th-grader for the rigors of high school golf.

"Get him in as many golf tournaments as you can," I replied. It's the same thing I always say. "Golf tournaments..."

As I've noted here on a number of occasions, anyone can be a range rat and stripe balls on the practice tee. I've seen a lot of players in my day hit drivers over the big tree at Pine Ridge some 275 yards away, then not be able to hit a fairway during an actual round of golf.

Range rats are good. Practice hard is important. But nothing beats playing in golf tournaments if you're trying to get better.

For Lorenzo Sanz, yesterday was another breakthrough moment for him. He had produced several other solid AJGA results before yesterday's win, but that victory at Hillendale puts him on the map in a big way.

There's nothing better, as a coach, than watching your players grow and immerse themselves in the process of improving and then seeing the results unfold right in front of them. And best of all, players who excel and prosper in the event(s) are doing it largely on their own, as caddies (and parents, friends, onlookers) aren't allowed to communicate with them while they're playing.

Lorenzo Sanz has a great support group in his parents, his coaching instructor and his teammates at Calvert Hall.

And there's also one very proud high school golf coach watching from the sidelines and enjoying it all.

Speaking of local golf and tournaments, we previewed the Maryland Amateur here a few days ago, which was using Green Spring and Mount Pleasant for the qualifying portion of this week's event.

Unfortunately, rained wrecked the 2-day qualifying portion, so the entire thing was reduced to 18 holes. With 31 qualifying spots remaining for the match play portion of the event, which begins today, 16 players who shot +1 or better at Green Spring made the field. At Mount Pleasant, 12 players shot even par or better to make it and 7 players fired 1-over par to earn their way into a playoff this morning that will yield three spots.

Thanks to George's superior stats-keeping-skills, we know that the qualifying players at Green Spring shot an aggregate total of 14-under par while those who will qualify from Mount Pleasant posted an aggregate of +1.

But the event now leaves Mount Pleasant and will conclude at Green Spring over the weekend.

Oh, and I'll have another Calvert Hall connection vying for the state Amateur crown, as Michael Crowley ('20) -- who is headed to Loyola University to play college golf for my friend Chris Baloga -- posted even par 71 at the Mount to make the Amateur field.

Last month, Crowley won the Maryland Junior title (all boys/girls under 19 years old) at Greystone.

All of these coaching moments remind me of how fortunate I've been over the years to coach some extraordinarily talented players. Austin Steckler ('20) is headed to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Patrick Hurdle ('19) is playing his college golf at Roanoke College. Finn McGinnis ('17) is finishing his senior season at Fairfield University. Before that, guys like Doug Grem, Nick Smearman and Jimmy Grem played at Towson University.

Coaching rewards come in ways you can't imagine, but watching one of your golfers win a tournament -- and knowing the work that went into that victory -- is one of those "second to none" kind of feelings.

And with that...I'm off to play in my own golf tournament this morning, a 3-day event called the Western Maryland Amateur. I haven't worked nearly as hard at my own golf game as have the likes of Sanz and Crowley, so while my expectations might be low, my level of enthusiasm for tournament golf remains at an all-time high.

As I tell my players all the time: The only way to know if you're getting better is to play a golf tournament.

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#dmd comments

Bo L.     August 14
@Steve From C.C. , just curious, name of your old softball team and best player besides yourself in the Baltimore area Back then??

Howard     August 14
Glad to hear that the Terps football team has had 0 Covid cases. That tells me that it will be safe for them to play an intrasquad game tomorrow

Steve from Cape Coral     August 14
Back in my playing Major A softball in B-more, it wasn't how many league games you won, It was all about winning the weekend tournaments !!! See, winning a tournament gave your team status and recognition among the other teams. In a tourney you play the best teams from other states. H.O.F. 2018 !!!

Chris in Bel Air     August 14
@SteveofPimlico - good one. That Alberto is a hit machine. For the O's fans that believe only former O's players go to another team and blossom. Alberto is an example of one that has come here and hit his stride. Previous career in Tex he batted .192 in 3 seasons in which he played sparsely (182 AB). Since coming to B'more - 601 AB and a .311 BA.

Hope the Caps show some more mettle tonight. That 3rd period on Wed was a downer. They need to skate and play with some fire.

Tom J     August 14
@UTB.....haha, true story about Castro and Givens. Their nicknames should Gas Can and Fire.

Jason M     August 14
@Herman - Odd but understandable with the weirdness of the virus. I don't begrudge the dominance of golf coverage, it's a sport that's actually beinbg played now. I'm a little surprised there's not more O's coverage, but I get the feeling DF is warming up to the Thing so who knows, maybe we'll see that shift a bit. Look at it this way, it's mid August and the O's are in the hunt!

For the Ravens, some say we're the most complete team in the league and stand to benefit by whupping up on less complete teams that need the practice and preseason more to evaluate personnel. There are some personnel questions, interior Oline and RG especially, but every team has at least a couple of those heading into the season.

unitastoberry     August 14
Imagine if Mancini was healthy and producing now too? They got to a former Oriole turned Cy Young winner last night. Back with DC and their great pitching today. Lets hope it continues. Castro and Givens will try their best to crash the party I am sure.

Josh     August 14
“Sanz, who grew up playing golf at Pine Ridge, shot 68-67-72 for a 3-day total of 9-under par en-route to his win at Hillendale.“

Congratulations! Geez, those kids can play!!

BW     August 14
@Carl. Not sure if you are trolling or what but lol at Brandon a gimmick course. It’s a GREAT golf course. In fact the whole facility is phenomenal. Arguably the best such destination in the country. The golf is pure and weather is certainly a factor. That the wind is an important part of the golf is a feature not a bug.

I’ve played @ Bandon and I’ve played @ Pebble and there is no comparison... Bandon is considerably better

Rick     August 14

Steve of Pimlico     August 14
Alberto,Santander,Iglesias,Ruiz,Severino,Nunez seem to have something in common I can't quite put my finger on.

Carl Spackler     August 13
So the caddy in the US AM touches the sand in a match tied on the 18'th hole, what an idiot.Loss of hole and the match. Dumbest move ever.

The US AM is not proving the best AM but the best wind player. The course is interesting but not worthy of a major.It's a gimmick course.

Ben S.     August 13
Florida reported a record 276 new Covid-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths in Florida to 8,553.

Rick     August 13
PALM BEACH POST this am lists all states with CHINA VIRUS and MARYLAND is way ahead of FLORIDA in deaths per 100,000 with DELAWARE just ahead of MARYLAND. Plus NEW YORKS total of just nursing homes total is same as FLORIDA'S total deaths. Florida's total population is over 22 million.

Tom J     August 13
Anyone remember when Mark Grace used to talk about having to get a “slump buster” to get out of a bad slump..?? Well one that looks like Nancy Pelosi wouldn’t even help Davis with this slump. I don’t know he can even face his team mates like walking back to the dugout after striking out AGAIN with runners on base. No way they have any confidence left for him.

N.McGurgan     August 13
Davis, Is he lost or has he lost it? Probably both. Been watching baseball for a long time. He misses by feet on some of his swings. He gets a few foul balls but the ones that show that you are close are the bullets fouled straight back. He never seems to have any of them.

He looks like the 10 year old playing in the 10-12 Upper league when there is a lower league for the not so talented. But he plays RF for two innings because his Dad is the manager and his older brother is 12. He is over matched by everyone. Getting a hit is an upset. "Bring it in" is what the opposing manager says to that 10 year old. But the opposing managers put on a shift that Davis hits into when he does make contact.

His body language shifts from not interested to frustration to disbelief in the same at bat. Often he looks like he cannot fathom that he can't do this anymore. He sometimes goes up to the plate with a look of determination and when he is fooled, his whole stance changes and he is beaten.

However, he would be a fool to quit. The absurdity of suggestions that he "give it up" "good and honorable" to quit. Why? No one would burn up 40 million no matter how much you have. All of your embarrassment ends when the bank balance is checked every other week.

And to the O's just cutting him? Sunken cost is an argument. But if you have a quirky piece of equipment in your factory and it's not completely paid for and the warranty is up, but it still can be put to some use. You don't throw away a 140 million dollar machine. You tinker with it. You hope that someone can fix it. I wonder what Hyde really thinks. He is just part of the command structure. I would probably go to the higher ups and plead for the ability to bench him.

Maybe they are trying to get him to quit.

All through this Davis seems to have been a decent soldier. No whining in the press, his charity work is strong. Nice guy who just can't do it any longer.

HERMAN     August 13
Is it just me or is it very odd to be in mid-August with zero discussion about the Ravens. We have the most electric player in the league and his upcoming season prospects are generating zero articles, comments, or chatter.

I realize the very idea of the season itself is in jeopardy. Although "Jerruh Jones" just claimed his team will play in front of a full stadium in just a few short weeks.

But of all the cities in the country one would expect that the one with the marquis player, whose team prospects are touted as the best in the league potentially, would be a daily discussion full of excitement.

Aren't we supposed to be less than a month away from kick-off?

JohnInEssex     August 13
Chris Davis hasnt been the same ever since the league went after him multiple times for the drug(s) he was legally taking for his ADHD (?), whatever he has going on.

And there are all those former Oriole big bats around him in the lineup GONE (Jones, Manny, Schoop).

And like almost everything else, there could be more to this story that we all dont know about.

Jason M     August 13
How about the web gem from Rio Ruiz last night? Starting to get pretty fun watching these kids find ways to win! Different guys like Ruiz and Cisco last night finding ways to contribute, and they seem to be having a lot of fun. I'm also fascinated by Davis and root for him although I understand U2B's position, and it's hard to talk about his performance without the elephant in the room, the Albatross of a contract.

C.I.K.     August 13
If Davis opts out (quits), he not only loses the money guaranteed over the next two years, but he also loses all the deferred money. Realistically, the only way out of this is the sides come to some kind of buyout agreement. If I am Chris Davis, I aint taking a buyout and I aint quitting either. You can cut me....but you’re gonna pay me too

Josh     August 13
Davis is being paid like he’s one of the best. He probably is the worst. I’m still pulling for him, but, at this point he’s only still here because of the money. It would be good and honorable for CD to retire and just admit he can’t do it anymore. I guess there’s a measure of honor in showing up and fulfilling your contract?

unitastoberry     August 13
The Davis thing is so embarrassing. I don't how Hyde doesn't get on the phone and tell someone above him to DFA him or he's outta here. He's not a major league player now for years. I know it's not my money but the stench from the warehouse smells so bad even ESPN rings a bell if he gets a hit. But then again remember this is an organization that once said they don't believe in paying pitchers all that money to play once every 5 days. If they let Davis go I promise I won't say anything bad about ownership for the rest of the year.

johnny B     August 12
That's not how baseball works, at any level. You try to make a play and miss, as long as the ball does not hit your glove, it's not going to be an error. Saying "he dove when he shouldn't have" is just not an error. Never has been, never will be.

Now fair to question IPHR for sure. The guy fell when he got to the ball, and then lobbed it somewhat back towards the infield. I never saw any wide angle that showed Hays could have reached home regardless, but sure seemed like that was debatable. So you wanna have some angst, have it on that part of the ruling. Lamenting to call of "base hit" has zero legs.

HERMAN     August 12
There is a real feeling of disconnect to the sports seasons unfolding before us. I was at the beach in OC all weekend and there was no room to move. Umbrellas and tents running the length of the beach, people everywhere. Meandering between themto get to the ocean social distancing felt like an impossibility. Getting out of the water it was difficult to zig-zag past the children romping around the surf as they ran and played totally unaware of you making every attempt not to enter their space. The restaurant Saturday night was more of the same, crowded and full. Life being lived as if Covid didn't exist.

Then you get home and turn on TV and no one is in the stands for the baseball game. There is no crowd for the major golf tournament. Sports websites debate the opening of new seasons, pro and college due to the scourge of Covid. The same Covid that apparently meant nothing to the beach, or restaurant crowd just witnessed. There are two worlds, one where Covid is all powerful, able to shut down life as known before. And one where life exists as if there is no Covid at all.

Living with one foot in both is odd and disconcerting. Sports exists but doesn't seem real, as if it's all pre-season, real, but pretend.

It's going to be an odd Fall on weekends, absent college football saturdays, or with NFL Sundays changed, perhaps beyond recognition.


Paul D     August 12

Awesome article. I thought the most important part was the statistics of who goes on to play college sports. It, basically doesn't happen. But parents are the most delusional. I coached and many parents thought that saving money for college was a fools errand because their kid was "such a good athlete". I always asked "how does he do in school?" I got weird looks. There are not many Moses Malone's out there. Unless you have pro talent and there are many guys who have similar talent, the partial scholarships will go to the best students. No one wants dumb lacrosse/football/basketball players. All teams in the power conferences are looking for students who can boost the team GPA when it comes to 9th 10th 11th guys. And not even going to mention what the real purpose of the guys who only play when at home and leading by 30.

Sad that the AAU model is so prevalent. But it makes sense. Grouped talent. Schools with limited scouting budgets. Tamir Goodman throwing down 55 on short un-athletic Jewish kids might never happen again. HE was D3 talent. Could have had a great college career at the right level. My nephew loved basketball and played for years. AAU and club ball as a reserve. His HS was a powerhouse. My brother said. He might not be able to play in HS, but maybe he could play D3. I was around a local D3 team at the time and told him he was nuts. All of these guys[including the end of the bench guys started in HS]. D3 hoops is better than everyone thinks. Not as much height or speed or power as D1. But those 3 things are in good supply at that level.

When I go back to play in my alumni college game every year. I talk to the guys. Have fun, remember everything. I would give up a lot just to go back and go to practice. It was so much fun being on a team that meant something.

And as a political contribution. Playing sports is a good antidote for seeing things as fair. When playing sports you are often outmatched, You feel the pangs of disappointment. Trying hard and losing is good lesson, There are better teams than yours. There are better players than you. Makes you less entitled in seeing everything as unfair. Sometimes you get beat.

Jason M     August 12
I guess in this regard DF and I are cut from the same cloth - I was reading the game recap early this AM and saw there was an IPHR top end the game - watch it and my first reaction is wait, they scored it wrong. Error on the CF!

Josh     August 12
Played the Mount a couple of days ago and it was in not too great of shape. I’m surprised they’re playing any kind of tournament there

Chris in Bel Air     August 12
I watched the last half of the O's game - and it was ugly. A note on the IPHR. Garceau and McDonald stated they thought it would be an IPHR because the CF never touched the ball. Seems silly but it appears they knew what the ruling would be. Btw, I am a huge of Thorne and Palmer but am liking Garceau and McDonald. In addition to the misplayed liner leading to Hays IPHR, the game also featured Castro giving up a lead with two taters. Some other guy for the O's I never heard of wasn't much better in the 9th and allowed the Phils to tie it with nobody on and 2 out. Prior to that, the Phils 3B/1B also misplayed a pop-up to the pitchers mound that scored 2 runs for the O's. Another guy on the O's I never heard of was thrown out trying to steal home. All in all, I felt like I was transported back in time and was watching my son in his 13-15 year old rec league. But hey, the good guys won.

Does a golf coach at a major University really make $350K a year? What the

Unitastoberry     August 12
The covid exhibition season Orioles never quit.

Kenny G     August 12
Eric: if the Russian vaccine is as effective as vodka, I am all in!!! LOL

Difference with baseball is the drafted players are not expected to contribute in the year they are drafted. May go to a low minor league for a month or two. NFL teams expect and need drafted players to contribute in the same year. You also hear NFL player talk about the second year bump as they worked hard to prove themselves for the draft which affected their first year playing.

eric     August 12
KennyG: Putin claims to have the vaccine so all is well. But baseball does it's draft during college world series I would bet the NFL would rather draft during college playoffs then not have a season at all to evaluate players

eric     August 12
I hope people are following the latest Deadskins scandal because it's a doozy. About a month ago before the Wash Post dropped their bombshell there was a flood of reports about Dan Snyder and Epstein, plus sex parties with J Gruden and bribing of referees. Snyder has now filed a lawsuit claiming his former executive assistant was heading a smear campaign against him. But the bombshell is she supposedly was getting discounted luxury apartments from Dwight Schar who happens to be a Redskins minority owner. Snyder claims that was in exchange for this smear campaign. He is also suing an India based media company that she was funneling this info too.

Kenny G     August 11
Spring football for college does not work, even with a vaccine, at the major college level. First, their bodies can not withstand 8-9 months of impact from training, camps and games in a 12 month period. Second, no one draft worthy will play in the spring with the NFL draft (and the NFL will not adjust). Third is the strain on the college staffs and facilities to add not only football (only game in town on a Saturday limits campus use) but all the other fall sports (even with a vaccine, do you expect it to be better than the flu vaccine and have kids from multiple sports crammed into the weight and training rooms and not get sick?)

The better question is how do athletic departments even survive in this environment, cause the golden goose is about to disappear? And don't say endowments cause most have sever restrictions on usage.

Jeffwell     August 11
Apparently Moats is one of the those know it all guys. You know the type.

Bryan     August 11
Well we know Moats watches Fake News

Rick     August 11
IN FLORIDA 65% with VIRUS are Latinos and blacks.20% are over 65.

Craig     August 11
I don't see anything wrong with the idea of college football in January. What are the pitfalls?

DR     August 11
I like Herman's takes most of the time but this is definitely a weird hill to die on.

Skip Falls     August 11
Covid-19 cases in Florida have increased by 137% over the last four weeks for CHILDREN under age 18. Last week, 436 children in Florida were hospitalized with Covid-19. Just in case anyone wanted to believe Mr. Herman's misguided post.

CJ     August 11
Actually, @DF provided correct information. As he wrote, it's not just about college athletes. What about the teachers they come in contact with? The coaches? People who serve food on campus? @Herman clearly didn't read @DF's whole column, which shouldn't be a surprise given his longtime disdain for the "site owner" as he calls him.

Moats     August 11
Well we know Mr. Herman watches FOX News.

Hal     August 11
Dr. Herman, how about all the heart related issues people are now discovering 4 to 6 months after having Covid? And it's not old people only so please stop with that misinformation. People who didn't even know they had Covid are dealing with heart issues.

Lisa V.     August 11
My 24 year old niece got Covid in June and is still battling it 8 weeks later. I will let her know about Herman's stats. That should make her all better.

HERMAN     August 11
At this point I believe absolutely nothing said about Covid in the major media. Nothing. Even the site owner participates stating to the effect "The virus doesn't care if you are a 26 year old nurse, or a 33 father of two."

We live in a world where such pap is promulgated without embarrassment.

The virus does indeed show a preference, for the old and infirmed over the young and healthy, for those with pre-existing conditions. The examples listed above are misleading, disingenuous.

If we are down to the morbid suggestion of betting over Covid infection how about I take 40 football players from Alabama, but you only get to pick your 40 from nursing homes in greater NY.

Cancel everything until the election is over, even the local blog participates in disinformation.

Steve from Cape Coral     August 11
If they cancel college football this year, then every junior & senior player should become a free agent !!! That way they can play in the NFL, XFL, or go to Canada and play football there.

unitastoberry     August 11
My guess is more college football players end up in the hospital from broken bones and torn ligaments than Covid. Everyone is a betting lot here lets anti up?

Mark in Perry Hall     August 10
Boy, @KJ sure is a snarky one eh?

George     August 10
@Hal -- One should never let facts get in the way of a good insight.

Rich     August 10
@Drew called this college football story back in May.

Hal     August 10
Uh, George, your Rickie hate got the best of you there. David was referencing Tiger.

August 13
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the davis files

Chris Davis got a hit last night and it was hilarious.

He was completely fooled on a pitch, endeavored to check his swing, and the ball hit his bat. It dribbled ever so slowly down the third base line and Davis had himself a single.

Maybe that's the one that will turn Davis's career around.

OK, probably not.

Will we ever see anything close to the once-really-good version of Chris Davis?

For reasons I can't explain, I've become much more interested in what Davis does during this 2020 thing*. I pay more attention to his at-bats and delve more deeply into the stats. But I have no idea why it interests me. I already know the outcome of almost every at-bat.

Davis is hitting .150/.209/.225 at the 16 (or is it 17?) game mark.

He has twice as many strikeouts (12) as hits (6).

Tuesday night in Philadelphia, with Davis at the plate, the Orioles tried stealing home. If that doesn't tell you something, nothing will.

Oh, and his fielding isn't even all that great any longer. Once a reliable, at-times-outstanding defensive first baseman, Davis is now closing in on being just another guy with a glove. He made his second error of the thing* in last night's 5-4 win.

Maybe all of that stuff -- the embarrassing average, strikeouts, errors -- is why I find myself watching Davis more and rooting for him in a way I haven't done before. I'm genuinely curious about Davis now. I'm hoping he still has something left in the tank.

I will say I didn't buy in for one minute that Davis was going to be new and improved in 2020, despite a handful of solid spring training games back in March. I remember comparing an exhibition baseball game to a pre-tournament practice round in golf.

I didn't buy in when Davis and Brandon Hyde talked about his potential resurgence, either. Talk, talk, talk. None of it matters. It's a numbers game. Let's see what those are.

I don't buy in on Davis any longer because I think it's safe to say his days as a competent player are over. What's happened to him isn't a slump, unless you can figure out a way to wiggle "slump" into a 3-year tailspin. Slumps last six games, not six hundred at bats.

But I'm more curious and hopeful for him than ever before. I realize that seems like a distinctly odd juxtaposition. I've given up on him and yet at the same time I'm really curious and hopeful that he turns it around. But it's true.

At this point, Davis has two options. Keep playing, keep collecting his year salary, keep trying to find the groove again -- or -- walk away from the game, end the torture, be thankful for the money he's made and give back the 2-plus years remaining on his contract.

Truth? I think I want Davis to keep playing. I mean, there might come a time when Brandon Hyde has to sit him if the games wind up mattering in mid-September. But for now, as the thing* nears the one-third mark, the O's might as well just keep trotting Davis out there.

I wish he could hit again. Just for a month. I wish the baseball gods would give Davis one month of something that resembled his old self, just so he can remember what it felt like, one more time. Just a month of hitting .277 with seven home runs in a 28 game stretch.

I believe Chris Davis might even deserve good fortune. How's that for weird?

I have no idea why a guy who can't hit his weight any longer interests me so much, but it's the first thing I check in the box score every day.

I just want Chris Davis to figure it out. I know he probably won't, but I'm really hoping he does.

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finding the right words

It doesn’t really matter that somebody was inevitably going to do it…cancel fall college sports in the Power Five, which really means cancelling football, because volleyball is great, but let’s be serious. All signs were that the Big 10 Conference might be the first to make that leap, and that’s what happened. There should be no surprise there.

Still, just because it isn’t a shocker doesn’t mean other words don’t describe this.

How about incredible? “The” Ohio State University is not going to play football in 2020. No offense to the Blue Jackets or the annual Ohio State Fair or the Memorial Tournament at Jack’s golf course in the suburbs, but what exactly is Columbus without Ohio State football?

How about historic? Games get cancelled all the time, tragedy strikes individual teams or the cities and towns in which they play. This time, we’re talking about an entire season wiped away, with some vague promise of a spring season that probably can’t happen. It’s like 1944 or something, only without that kind of war and with disinformation coming from social media instead of radio.

How about life-changing? Through no fault of their own, mostly, some college freshmen will be unable to play after spending much of their youth and adolescence, not to mention their parents’ money, preparing for the opportunity. There’s a definitive mental health aspect to that, and who can say if schools and families are ready for that.

I’d also use the word “amateurish” for this week’s Big 10 announcement—not to be confused with “amateur,” which is the word the NCAA would love for you to use, even for football players that help bring in many millions of dollars. It was last week, literally, when the conference announced a modified 10-game football schedule. Five days later, there was no season. Downright silly, isn’t it?

There are some other words that have been thrown out there, however, that don’t describe this at all. Unfortunately, too many people believe them. Or, if they don’t actually believe them, maybe they’re politicians playing to what they think their supporters believe.

Take the word “need,” for instance. America “needs” college football. Um, no. America wants college football. Most of America loves college football. You know you’ve hit some kind of jackpot when ESPN’s College Gameday says it’s “comin’ to your city.” Spending a few hours at a tailgate on a lovely October day with the leaves changing colors is a great Saturday, for sure, no matter the outcome of the game for your team.

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that even at lower levels than the Power Five, college football is a good deal. For fans, there’s excellent football even if the players are more anonymous. For the players, the 5-foot-8, 210-lb., high school linebacker who isn’t nearly big enough or fast enough to play on television gets his chance to keep playing.

All great. Please don’t tell me that we need it though. We need a vaccine that works, that can be easily distributed and that people will take. We need to act in certain ways right now in order to mitigate a health crisis, so that the college football we want will return as soon as possible. We need the maturity to understand the situation and the risks at present and in the future.

I’ve also heard the word “disaster,” which might be even worse. As in “America with no college football is a disaster.” Or, it’ll be a disaster if “insert college town here” goes an entire fall with no football games. Um, no.

There has been an actual disaster here. Go ahead and quibble about the scope of it if you want, but it’s definitely worldwide. Go ahead and talk about the economic “disasters” caused by COVID-19, which is what’s really being said about no college football in Lincoln, Neb., or Iowa City in 2020. Are they somehow more important than individuals losing their jobs and health insurance, or small businesses gone forever?

There’s been a new word since the Big 10 decision on Tuesday—“disappointed.” That’s the word the Nebraska athletic department used when discussing the conference’s decision to cancel fall sports. Apparently, according to a leaked initial vote of school presidents, Nebraska and Iowa were the only two schools out of the 14 in the conference to vote to play this fall.

The Huskers’ brass said in a statement that they were disappointed because “they have been, and continue to be, ready to play.” They said that while “safety comes first,” their belief is that the safest place to be is “inside the structure and support provided by the athletic department.” Finally, the leadership group said that they’d continue to evaluate the situation with medical experts, with “the hope that it may be possible for student-athletes to compete.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin, which plays in the Big 10 West Division in football alongside Nebraska, was subject to the same Big 10 decision as the Huskers. And yet, the school’s statement was completely different. Barry Alvarez, the former football coach and now athletic director, said that the conference decision was the “correct” one. It was made with “the best interests of athletes, fans and staff at its core.” Alvarez said that playing the season “would pose risks that we think are not acceptable.”

Nebraska says incorrect, we’re safe and it’s best for everyone if we play. Wisconsin says correct, we probably aren’t safe and it’s best for everyone if we don’t play. Not exactly a united front. Maybe it’s the first salvo in Nebraska leaving the conference to return to the Big 12, from whence it came 10 years ago. A subject for another time.

Is Nebraska’s disappointment with the conference legitimate? Hard to say. The school says it’s ready to play, but so is every other school that’s been using similar protocols. Coach Scott Frost insists that a quasi-bubble will make his team safe, but he’s a football coach. I wouldn’t want him making decisions here anymore than I would about whether an injured player can return to the field. And don’t even start with the belief that somehow Nebraska should be able to play a season as some kind of free agent. Who are they going to play, exactly?

This fall season without college football, if not in all of the Power Five conferences then in some of them, will be unusual. There will be something missing, a rite of American life, and not just in Lincoln and State College and even College Park. Personally, I’ve become a bigger fan of college football in the last 10 years than I was before. There’s something magical about the big games and seeing the enthusiasm surrounding them.

This fall season without college football, however, is not the end of all the fun that ever existed in the universe. While there will be something missing, most people will find something else to worry about, just like they have since March. And when the games do come back, there might even be something more magical about those days than there was before. Something about absence making the heart grow fonder.

These points are clear, though. There are things we need, and things we want. There’s the world as we’d like it to be, and the world as it is. When the Big 10 made its decision, as others did previously and will do in the future, they were just making those distinctions.


August 12
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wednesday stuff

The Men's Maryland Amateur golf championship begins today with a unique format due to Covid-19. The event will use two courses for qualifying: Green Spring and Mount Pleasant. After the two-day qualifying event, the low 32 players will head to Green Spring for three days of match play golf to determine a winner.

200 players or so will be teeing it up; half the players take on Mount Pleasant today, the other half heads to Green Spring. And then they reverse that on Thursday.

The 205 yard par-3 17th at Mount Pleasant has trouble on the left and a bail out area on the right..."Amateur Alley" as it's known to regulars.

It's been a long time since Mount Pleasant hosted a prestigious event. I chatted with George for 45 minutes yesterday and reminisced with him about our favorite public course, which once held the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play in early July every year (different event than this version of the Maryland Amateur, which is run by the Maryland State Golf Association.)

Back in the "old days", the Stroke Play was not only the Mount's best event, it was one of the top 54-hole amateur tournaments held in the Mid-Atlantic. Sadly, the event disappeared around 2005 or so and it never returned. But for 20 years or so, it was a great, great, great golf tournament.

I'm a little sad that I'm not playing today and tomorrow at the Mount (and Green Spring), but I am playing in a different tournament this week that I've played in for the last 20 years and I wouldn't miss it for anything golf-related, not even the Maryland Amateur at Mount Pleasant.

The two courses are similar in that neither is particularly long. Green Spring is a touch longer, playing to a par-72, but after the first four holes, players won't really have anything other than a 9-iron or wedge into most greens. I played there a month or so ago and wedged it around throughout the back nine and I'm by no means "long" off the tee. Green Spring has a unique way of getting to its 72 par. It features only three par 3's (#1, #5 and #18) and three par 5's (#6, #16 and #17), with 12 par 4's, ranging in length from 295 yards to 460 yards.

Green Spring has always been one of my favorite courses in Maryland and it's most certainly on my top 3 in Baltimore. They also have a ferocious wine list in the bar, if that matters.

Mount Pleasant will play to a par 71, with just two par 5's (#1 and #10) and three par 3's, (#6, #11 and #17), with 13 par 4's, including the only two real "hard" non par-3 holes on the course, #9 and #14, both of which require a decently hit drive of 275 or more and then a 6 or 7-iron into the green.

My long history at Mount Pleasant always yielded the following formula: Your score can almost always be directly attributed to the par 3's and the 9th and 14th holes. If you can play those holes in even or one over par, say, you're bound for a good score. But if those five holes grab you, you're in trouble. You can easily play those five in four or five over par and do nothing wrong, really, except not make a putt or miss a green by a yard or two.

I can't wait to see how the old girl treats some of the state's best amateur golfers over the next two days. I know George has his Mount Pleasant history book at his side and he'll no doubt have some thoughts once the scores start coming in.

I didn't see any of the Orioles-Phillies thriller last night but I saw the boxscore this morning, and I as always do, took a quick glance to see who did what. When I saw that Austin Hays hit an inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning to give the Orioles a 10-8 lead, I was intrigued. Other than a no-hitter and/or perfect game, the inside-the-park homer is perhaps the rarest of all "normal" in-game accomplishments. So I went to the highlights to see how Hays managed to do it.

I hate to be that guy but I will: It was not an inside-the-park home run. I know, I know. Who cares? The Orioles won 10-9.

I care. It was an error on the centerfielder, who completely misplayed the line drive and let it get past him to the wall. I'm not an official scorekeeper type, but it drives me insane to see those guys (or gals, perhaps) give hits when errors are applicable and justified.

If you really want to be legit about the play, Philly centerfielder Roman Quinn made two errors within about 10 seconds of one another. The first was when he dove for the sinking liner and missed it. The second occurred when he got to the wall and fell in the process of trying to pick it up and throw it.

I don't know why it irks me so, but it always has. Twenty or thirty years worth of aggravation, in fact. When a major league baseball player misplays a ball (and that's precisely what Quinn did -- he misplayed it) that's an error. E.R.R.O.R.

Why the scorekeepers insist on taking it easy on these guys is beyond me, but they do.

Now perhaps the truncated thing* the players are currently playing has led to more gambling and attempting to make wild plays they might not normally make. I have no idea why Quinn dove for that ball like that. But I do know this: A major league centerfielder, in that specific situation, has one obligation: Do not let the ball get past you. And if you do allow it to get past you, that's an ERROR, not a hit.

Rant over.

Until the next time.

As you know by now, Maryland football will not play this fall after the Big 10 canceled the season yesterday due to Covid-19.

You can't possibly be surprised.

More will follow, of course. Actually, someone already did follow. The Pac-12 announced they, too, will not play this fall.

But it's now a game of "who will?" and "who won't?". The SEC seems to be the one conference bound and determined to play in September and beyond. The ACC is moving forward as well, jazzed by the addition of Notre Dame to the football schedule this fall.

Much like the baseball thing* will have an asterisk, so, too, will college football 2020. Without the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, and others, the upcoming campaign isn't a "real" season. Alabama will claim that it is, but when you take away a half dozen high quality programs, it's not the same.

Oh, and don't discount a Big 10 or Pac-12 team breaking rank and playing on their own in 2020. I have no idea if that's something either conference would permit (I doubt they would), but Nebraska's athletic director hinted earlier this week that the Cornhuskers would consider playing an independent schedule in 2020 if the Big 10 canceled the season.

But of all the Covid-19 related situations involving college football, here's the biggie: How will yesterday's announcement -- and any other conferences who cancel as well -- impact the non-revenue sports of the Big 10 and Pac-12 schools? Will volleyball survive at Penn State? Will golf survive at Maryland? Will gymnastics survive at Oregon State? Those student-athletes are the ones most folks fail to consider in situations like these. Football will continue at Ohio State next year, we know that. But what about swimming and diving? Or tennis? Will they survive or will those sports go bye-bye because the schools no longer have the money to bankroll them?

This, of course, is the dirty little secret (that's pretty well known) about big time college athletics. Football and basketball pay for just about everything else. Yes, sure, the coaches make $5 million or more and that seems really out of whack. But maybe it's not when you take into consideration those football and basketball coaches are not only trying to help generate the most amount of money they can for their respective programs, they are also keeping most of the non-revenue sports alive as well.

Let's be honest. Without football at Illinois, for example, how could the school afford to pay its men's golf coach $350,000? Answer: they probably can't.

So the real story from all of this will the impact on the non-revenue sports. Will men's and women's soccer get cut? Men's and women's swimming? Men's and women's golf? Tennis? Track and field? They might all go away. And that would be terribly, terribly sad.

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fantasy golf, greensboro

The PGA Tour heads to Greensboro, NC this week for the Wyndham, the final event before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs next week.

There are lots of "horses for courses" playing at Sedgefield CC this week. A significant number of TOUR players have played well at the course, so picking six guys for this field isn't going to be easy. This is definitely a week where daily fantasy players will want to put together a half dozen lineups or more to try and squeeze the right combination into a six-man team.

As Patrick Reed gears up for the FedEx Cup playoffs, could he be a winner in Greensboro this week?

We had a modestly successful week at the PGA Championship, but not enough success to buy a membership at Shinnecock or anything like that. As is usually the case at the majors, the cream rose to the top. It was getting those three back-end players right that made you money or sent you home eating Ramen noodles for a few days.

Here's one of the teams we'll play this week, along with a dozen other considerations we'll also play in some form.

Patrick Reed has enjoyed great success at Sedgefield and is coming off of a decent week at Harding Park. And we know how much he enjoys the FedEx Cup events. In other words, August is Reed time and we're high on him this week, even at $10,700.

We've been using Harris English a lot in 2020 Draft Kings and he rarely disappoints. The feeling here is that English is playing well enough to win on just about any given week, so we're sticking with him until he lets us down. He's a tad expensive this week at $9,300 but we're still on him.

Si Woo Kim has really started to shine of late. The former Players champion hasn't missed a start since the TOUR kicked in again in early June. Fatigue doesn't appear to be a factor. Even at $8,600, we still like him this week.

Now we get to the back three. Obviously all six of your players need to make the cut, but the "back three" are typically more hit/miss than your first three.

Maverick McNealy needs a decent finish to cement his spot in the FedEx playoffs. Sedgefield CC seems to play perfectly into his hands and the lighter field might help him squeeze into the Top 20 this week, if not better. He's made 15 of 20 cuts this year. We think he's a good investment at $7,600 based on those numbers.

We've been high on Henrik Norlander for a month now and he's been a solid addition to our lineup. We see no reason to lay off of him now. He's made 13 of 21 cuts in 2020, including 8 of 9 recently. At $7,300, he's a fair addition.

We had to dip down to the $6,500 players for our final guy, and we're going with C.T. Pan in this slot. He's a former TOUR winner and is one of those "plays well for a few weeks" kind of player. He's only made 8 of 18 cuts, so this is admittedly a bit of a gamble, but we just have a feeling this could be one of his up weeks.

That team costs exactly $50,000.

Others to consider: Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Tommy Fleetwood, Kevin Kisner, Doc Redman, Harold Varner III, Jim Furyk, Sepp Straka, Stewart Cink, Denny McCarthy, Keith Mitchell, Adam Schenk.


a sports fan

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

hoop dreams

I miss Pittsburgh.

Now that I have your attention, allow me to explain myself. I don’t want to be accused by the loyal DMD commentariat as some kind of turncoat Baltimore sports fan.

What I miss is my usual springtime weekend in Pittsburgh. Also, my usual springtime weekends in Hampton, Va., Providence, RI, Capitol Heights, Md. and Albany, NY.

Those weekends have been a staple of my life since 2015. That’s when my sons’ journeys in the world of AAU Basketball began. And those towns have been host to large tournaments every year. Until 2020, of course.

These thoughts were front and center in my mind this past Saturday and Sunday morning as I traveled to Manheim, Pa., just outside of Lancaster, to watch my youngest son Charlie play in the Hoop Group Summer Jamfest. Charlie is what the college coaches describe as a “rising senior”. Depending upon what the powers that be determine, he may or may not have a senior season of basketball at Hereford High School. Like so many other things in our world, that decision is entirely out of our control.

But the return of the Summer Jamfest gives me, and Charlie too, a measure of hope. After all, if kids can play in a controlled environment in August, hopefully they can do the same in January or February next year. We shall see.

The thing that was really on my mind, though, was that after five years, this part of my life with my sons is drawing to a close. These tournaments, and the sometimes lengthy road trips, have provided memories that have strengthened our bonds as a father and sons. There has been music and conversation and laughter and meals and college visits and talks with college coaches.

And there has been basketball. Lots and lots of high-quality basketball.

I am an admitted basketball junkie. As I’ve written here before, no sport has ever captured my imagination and my attention quite the way it does. I played it, I coached it, I did high school basketball play-by-play on the radio, I even refereed it way back in the early 1990’s when I was living in Garrett County, MD. (My apologies again to that kid for missing an obvious foul call at the end of a Mountaintop League playoff game. You still would have had to make both free throws, though.)

Our journey into the world of summer basketball tournaments began in 2015, with my middle son Mark. (Just to clarify, my eldest son, Thomas, is a soccer goalkeeper. He had his own journey through high level soccer camps and club play.)

So when Mark was asked to join Chick Webb Elite, in East Baltimore, he jumped at the opportunity. And that season was an introduction to playing basketball against competition that just can’t be found throughout the high school season. That competition was also evident in their practices. To put it bluntly, that team was loaded. It was a valuable experience and lesson for Mark, to go from being the best player on his local Hereford travel team to 10th man on a team of extraordinary talent. It pushed him to improve and to understand exactly what he needed to work on to elevate his game.

Here’s how good that team was: As 14 year olds, they went to the AAU Nationals for 15 year olds and finished 4th. And they should have won their Final Four semifinal game. They had Adrian Baldwin of St. Frances (going to VCU) and Justin Lewis of Poly (going to Marquette) and Isaiah Todd, who were all 13 years old then. Todd just recently de-committed from Michigan to play one year in the NBA G League before entering the NBA Draft next spring. He’ll be a top 10 pick, guaranteed.

After that experience, the hook was set. Mark was committed to continuing that journey. He saw and understood that this was the best path to follow to realize his dream of playing college basketball. His younger brother Charlie saw it, too, and began his own journey the following summer.

Let me pause here for a moment and address the issue of summer teams and sports and the coaches, parents and kids involved. I understand what a hot-button issue this is around these parts. I’ve spent some time previously in the comments section trying to explain and defend the realities of AAU basketball, club lacrosse, club baseball, etc. The truth of the matter is that if a kid has the desire and the ability to play collegiate athletics, the best way to be seen by college coaches is through these teams and these tournaments. That’s just the way this process works in 21st Century America.

I know people decry this and defame the coaches and the teams and the sponsors as rigged and selfish and corrupt. And I’ve never seen anything to suggest any of that over the past five years of my experience.

Want some cold, hard reality? Only 7% of all high school athletes went on to play any sport at a varsity level in college in 2020. And only 2% went on to play a varsity sport at the NCAA Division I level. Any parent who wants to be honest with themselves and their child’s ability should remember this truth.

Speaking personally, as a parent, of course I had dreams of all my sons playing scholarship sports in college. The fact that two of them are varsity players at the Division III level makes me extremely proud. It puts them in a very distinct group of athletes. They’ve earned everything they’ve gotten, both academically and athletically.

Alright, I’m off my soapbox. Rant over.

In 2017, we were blessed to become a part of the York Ballers. The Ballers have a mission and a history of developing talented young basketball players and helping them find colleges that fit their academic and athletic abilities. Founded in 2004 by Pat McGlynn, the Ballers have provided my sons with a wonderful basketball experience. We’ve made countless friends and the boys have provided incredible basketball memories. They play at the highest level that Hoop Group offers. The competition has been outstanding at times.

Which brings me back to Pittsburgh.

The reason I miss that trip, and so many others, is because those venues have been the hosts to such large gatherings of basketball for a weekend. There’s nothing quite like the excitement and the spectacle of bracket play at those tournaments. Beginning on Friday night, it’s wall-to-wall basketball for 24 hours.

You can walk around the Pittsburgh Convention Center all day on Saturday and see some of the top talent in the country performing. You’ll recognize quite a few of the coaches as you wander around. And you can sense the pressure and the intensity of the games. Win, and your team moves closer to the center courts for Saturday evening’s Sweet Sixteen games. Lose, and you’re relegated to the courts way in the back.

In 2017 and 2018, Mark’s Ballers team made the Final Four in Pittsburgh. Just like March Madness, they had to win four games to reach that point. Unlike March Madness, they had to win those four games in about 36 hours. It’s remarkable how resilient and determined and tough those boys had to be to get there. Those teams also reached the Elite Eight in two other Hoop Group tournaments, as well as winning the championship of a tournament in 2017 in Albany.

Even more than the wonderful basketball memories, though, are the opportunities those weekends provided for all of the families to bond. Sharing meals, sitting in the hotel lobbies chatting, giving rides to other players, just getting to know one another through the gift of our sons’ basketball talents, those are the things I miss this year. This is the last year for us. There won’t be any moments like those.

So this past weekend, Charlie and I left for Spooky Nook just after sunrise both mornings. There is no bracket play this year at these events. Teams play two games one day, and one game the next, or vice-versa, depending on the pool they’re seeded in. You go in, you play, you leave. There are no brackets hanging on the wall of the lobby to see how teams are faring. The anticipation and excitement of winning and moving on to the next round doesn’t exist. There’s no wandering around the facility to watch other games, to go check out the other Ballers age groups playing, to run into old friends or make new ones.

There are still college coaches there, but not any you see on ESPN on a mid-winter night. This year it appeared to me that most of the coaches were from regional Division III schools. For everyone at every level of NCAA sports, recruiting is upside down right now. Nobody knows whether their schools will be open, or for how long, or if there will even be a basketball season. It seems like everyone is operating under the hope that sooner rather than later life and basketball and school will be like we used to know.

The games went on as scheduled, and Charlie and his Ballers team played very well. They managed to go 2-1 in their pool play, defeating a talented team from the Philadelphia-South Jersey region in overtime; losing a close one to a team from North Jersey; and pulling away yesterday morning for an 18 point win against a team from Northeast Pennsylvania. Charlie had 17 points and 15 points respectively in the two wins. He rebounded aggressively and defended well. He keeps getting better with every practice and every game.

After yesterday’s game, two college coaches approached him and expressed their interest in him and invited him to spend a day on their campuses. He had made three 3- pointers in a span of about two minutes late in the game to ice the win. He demonstrated the nerves and steadiness that coaches at any level are always seeking in a prospect. The ability to rise to a moment and carry a team is a rare trait.

Looking back over the past half-decade, it’s all been an eye-opening and enjoyable experience. To watch all of my sons pursue their athletic dreams has been one of the greatest joys of my fatherhood. To see them compete against high level talent, and now in their colleges’ uniforms, brings me a pride I never imagined. And to help Charlie in the next few months, no matter the format for the games, is going to be bittersweet knowing he’s the last one in line. He’s got a great opportunity to join that 7%.

And in the springtime of the future, you will find me sailing. It’s much quieter and definitely more relaxing than driving to Pittsburgh.

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August 11
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college football...on the clock

The biggest domino has yet to fall in the NCAA, but if it comes to pass that later today the Big 10 decides not to pay college football this fall, the avalanche will begin to roll.

Several smaller conferences have already tabled football while the fight against Covid-19 continues, but the Power 5 are still intact. Rumors were swiring on Monday that an announcement would come as early as today, perhaps, from the Big 10. If they bail on the fall season, others will soon follow.

In an interesting twist, college football players are now leading the charge for a season. Down in Clemson -- you know, the school where last month dozens of members of the football team attended a Covid-19 party so everyone in attendance could "get it over with" -- they're working the internet with the #LetUsPlay hashtag. They should have thought about that back in July before they all started sipping from the same jug of beer, huh?

Alabama's Nick Saban says #LetUsPlay.

Coaches are coming out, too, and talking about playing the upcoming season despite Covid-19 still lurking. "I'll know I'll get criticized for this," said Alabama's Nick Saban. "I'm sure someone will say I don't care about player safety and what not. But players are a lot safer here with us than they are at home."

I'm not sure where Saban comes up with that, but I'm sure if someone in the Tuscaloosa media pressed him, they might get an answer. And they also might lose their media credential.

Saban and the rest of the Alabama athletic department stand to lose upwards of $90 million if there's no football in 2020. Nebraska yesterday said they'd lose $100 million if the season gets canceled and added, for emphasis, "we might not ever recover from it." I don't know anything about the balance sheet of the Nebraska athletic department but I realize football is an important part of it. And therein lies the rub for these schools.

They say they'll keep the players safe, but we know -- having watched baseball's thing* implode over the last three weeks -- that's unlikely, unless a NHL-NBA type of bubble is developed.

So in the end, the picture is quite clear. These big conferences are willing to risk the health and safety of their college athletes in order to appease the 100 schools or so that really matter. And to that end, the NCAA is also culpable. They could step up -- as they've done with other fall sports -- and say, "Football's canceled." But they won't do it.

It wasn't "worth" the gamble to have soccer and golf and gymnastics this fall. The NCAA did the smart thing there. But football? Now that's a different story.

Meanwhile, people will start trotting out statistics about the flu, again, in an effort to poo-poo the Covid-19 situation. All of it disguises the truth, though. The coronavirus is still here, still taking lives, and not really worried at all whether the person is a football player at Alabama or a 26-year old nurse or a 33-year old father of two.

This really should be simple. If the college (and or the entire conference) isn't opening its campus with full classes, there's no need to have fall sports and endanger anyone's life. Remember, it's not just the football players we're talking about here. It's the coaches, the trainers, the bus drivers, the chefs...anyone at all associated with the team. They all have families, too.

Sure, it's a mess.

And schools are going to lose a lot of money if there's no fall football.

But, as I wrote here back in May and June, there is a potential solution. Some conferences are still talking about it, in fact. The fall schedule should simply be moved to a mid-January start, when, if things keep going as planned, a vaccine might be available and our lives could maybe start returning back to normal. To squeeze the season into the January through April window, this might be the year where you play "conference only" games. But you have 12 weeks to get your 10 conference games in and then you can have your playoffs and what not. Bowl games might have to be tabled for a year, but that's just collateral damage. They can always be restored in 2021 and beyond.

Playing in January, February and March is a no-brainer. Will it be cold in large sections of the country? Of course. Last I checked, football can be played in the cold. Stadium issues? None, really, as nearly every school has its own facility. Conflicts with college basketball? A few, perhaps, but the schools and conferences control the scheduling. They're smart people, they'll figure it out.

Endangering those kids in September is silly. And dangerous. It makes zero sense, particularly when you take into account all of the other fall sports have been canceled. By playing football, you're merely showing everyone what they sorta-kinda already know: health of the kids be damned, we have money to raise and a profit to make.

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caps playoff chances? who knows?

I don't know what to make of this thing they're calling the NHL playoffs. Like baseball, it feels more like a thing* to me instead of the actual playoffs. I mean, some of the games are going to be played at 3 pm. That's not playoff hockey. But this year, it is.

The Capitals will meet up with the New York Islanders in a best-of-7 series that starts tomorrow. I'd say the Caps have "home ice advantage" by virtue of their 3 seed (over New York's 7 seed), but all of the games in this series are at a neutral site in Toronto. So, it's just hockey, with no fans, no home ice edge and so forth. In a weird kind of way, I like that, actually.

The Capitals will needed goaltender Braden Holtby to step up with big post-season performances if they want to advance in the NHL's playoff bubble.

We all know about the Caps' history in the post-season. Save for a magical run back in 1998 and their Stanley Cup triumph in 2018, the playoffs have always meant one thing for Capitals fans: misery.

In April of 2019, Washington lost a dramatic Game 7 at home to Carolina in the opening series of their title defense. If you thought that was a surprise, you haven't followed the Caps very much. They disappoint more often than not in the post-season, which makes this year's match-up with the Islanders even more intriguing. Could the neutral site, August campaign actually take pressure off of Washington? Maybe. Every April when the playoffs roll around, the Caps have to put up with a week or two of coverage about all of their other post-season failures. This time around, it's, well, "neutral", if you will. People are just happy to have the playoffs. There's not much else to write about at this point.

So can the Caps get past the Islanders? Well, they should. The biggest x-factor in the series isn't even a player, it's Islanders' boss Barry Trotz, who coached the Capitals during their Stanley Cup winning campaign and knows how to coach against them as well as anyone, you'd assume. The guy behind the Washington bench now, Todd Reirden, isn't going to look like the second coming of Scotty Bowman anytime soon. So, from a coaching standpoint, the Islanders have the advantage. But that might be their only edge.

In order for the Caps to get past the Islanders (prediction: Washington in 5 games) and make some real noise in the post-season, they'll need these three things to happen.

1. Defenseman John Carlson has to be healthy and 100%. Carlson missed the 3-game "seeding event" with an injury suffered in a scrimmage/exhibition game against Carolina in late July. Although he's practiced regularly and skated well, his status for Game 1 against New York is still up in the air. Carlson will likely play tomorrow (3 pm start) against the Islanders but if he somehow isn't 100% healthy for the entire post-season, it's unlikely the Capitals can go far. He's their best defenseman and a key component of both their power play and penalty killing units. No Carlson-no chance.

2. Stellar play from Braden Holtby. Sure, Ovechkin and Kuznetsov were superb back in 2018 when the Caps won the Cup, but they won more because of Braden Holtby than anyone else. Two years later, Holtby once again has the bullseye on his back. If he can deliver four series' worth of outstanding goaltending, Washington has a puncher's chance. It's that simple, really. Playoff goalies have long been the difference in moving on or going home to play golf and this time around is no different. If Holtby's up to the task and can put the Caps on his back, they might make some noise.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov has to come through. This is the biggest question mark of the three. Carlson's going to play, Holtby will likely be solid...but can Kuznestov show up for the next month and be the dominant player he's capable of being? That's the $64,000 question for the Caps. Ovechkin is going to do his thing. Oshie will be prominent. Backstrom, if he stays healthy, will shine. But Kuznestov and his extraordinary skillset can take over games and series'. But he can also lay four eggs in seven games. Or, four eggs in five games, if you know what I mean. If Kuznestov plays at or above his standard, the Caps have a great chance in any series. If he stinks it up, they're in trouble.

History says we're all going to be disappointed again. We know that. I suspect Washington gets through the first round and then struggles thereafter. I hope I'm wrong, but I've been watching that team and organization since 1975.

I only have one wish: Just please, please, please...don't have the Caps and Flyers match up at any point. I can't handle that.

Caps vs. Islanders --

Game 1, Wed., Aug 12, 3 pm

Game 2, Fri., Aug 14, 8 pm

Game 3, Sun., Aug 16, 12 noon

Game 4, Tues., Aug 18, 8 pm

Game 5, Thurs, Aug 20, TBA

Game 6, Sat., Aug 22, TBA

Game 7, Sun., Aug 23, TBA


Euro Soccer Recap 8/10

Champions League

The UEFA Champions League returned this weekend after its long COVID related shutdown. The tournament will conclude the 2019-2020 European season over the next few weeks and crown the European Champion. On Friday the competition resumed with Real Madrid at Manchester City and Lyon at Juventus. Saturday had Napoli at Barcelona and Chelsea at Bayern Munich.

The featured matchup was Friday’s Man City v Madrid clash, the most high profile pairing of the competition thus far. Real Madrid came in needing at least a one goal victory to overturn the first leg.

Messi scored an amazing goal in last Saturday's Champions League win over Napoli, as Barcelona won 3-1.

Man City began the game pressing high and was able to disrupt Madrid in the 9th minute when Gabriel Jesus forced an uncharacteristic errant pass from Raphael Varane in the Madrid box, leading to an easy goal for Raheem Sterling. Karim Benzema evened the score with a headed goal later in the first half. Then, with the game in the balance, another horrendous gaffe from Varane gifted Jesus a goal in the 68th minute. It was a shocking night from Varane, one of the best center backs in the world. Man City were able to hold on to the 2-1 lead to advance to the quarterfinals. Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker were both instrumental in the Man City victory as well.

In the second match on Friday, Lyon traveled to Turin to take on Italian champions Juventus. The Italians needed to win by two goals or more to overturn the first leg result and advance. In the first half, both Juventus and Lyon were both awarded dubious penalties and converted them for a 1-1 halftime score. In the second half, Cristiano Ronaldo produced a left footed wonderstrike from just outside the box to put Juventus up 2-1. For long stretches after the goal, it seemed Lyon was hanging on by a thread and Juventus would get their third goal at any moment. However, Lyon was able to hold them off and see out the 2-1 loss (2-2 aggregate score), enabling the French side to advance on the away goals tiebreaker (one away goal for Lyon to zero for Juventus).

On Saturday, Napoli traveled to Barcelona with the teams sharing a 1-1 draw from the first leg. The Spanish side grabbed an early lead when Clement Lenglet headed home a corner kick in the 10th minute. Barca wouldn’t look back, as Leo Messi added an incredible goal in the 23rd minute, ghosting past three Napoli defenders then placing a curling shot around the keeper while falling to the ground. Messi nearly added another minutes later but it was called back for a questionable handball by VAR. However, Barcelona added a third goal just before the half when Messi stripped Napoli center back Kalidou Koulibaly and forced a foul for a penalty kick. The Catalans held on to win 3-1 and advance to face Bayern in the quarterfinals.

The final game of the weekend was the least dramatic, since German champions Bayern Munich carried a 3-0 win from the first leg into their home match with Chelsea. Chelsea was also missing several key players due to injuries, including American Christian Pulisic. The Bavarians returned to their impressive form from the end of the domestic season and eased their way to a 4-1 win led by two goals and an assist from Bundesliga player of the year, Robert Lewandowski.

In tomorrow’s edition of #DMD, Randy looks at the U.S. men’s national team and their plethora of attacking players who might be part of 2022 World Cup qualifying.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

Duclaw banner
August 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

the bully goes down at the pga

It wasn't just one guy that punched Brooks Koepka in the mouth on Sunday at the PGA Championship.

It was about 10. Maybe even more.

One day after trolling the entire first page of the leaderboard with a snarky jab about his recent history and the accomplishments of those around him, Koepka laid a final round egg in the quest for his 3rd straight PGA title. Koepka's collapse didn't overshawdow the brilliant play of winner Collin Morikawa, but it certainly created a separate headline for those looking to remind Koepka of his Saturday evening comments.

Collin Morikawa now has as many major titles (1) as missed cuts (1) in over a year as a PGA Tour player.

As for Morikawa, he has arrived. If anyone thought otherwise before yesterday, the debate has been settled. He's on his way to being among the best American players by the end of 2020. Could he be the #1 player in the world before the end of 2021? That's entirely possible based on what we've seen from him over the last three months.

If Koepka was the bully who finally got what was coming to him, Dustin Johnson was the day's other big shot who couldn't get the job done under the gun. Sunday marked the fourth time in his career that D.J. held a 54-hole lead at a major championship and didn't come out on top. He wasn't terrible on Sunday, mind you. This wasn't a repeat of the 2010 U.S. Open, when he blew a 3-shot lead after 54 holes en route to an 82 on the final day. Yesterday, he was merely good when he needed to be great, posting a two-under round of 68 for a share of second place with Paul Casey.

Johnson, as Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel pointed out last night in a scathing 3-minute review of his final round play, is simply not a closer. "He has some Greg Norman in him when it comes to producing on a Sunday afternoon," Chamblee said, referring to the Australian's propensity for final round failures. There might not be another criticism as painful as a comparison to Norman, but in the case of Dustin Johnson, it looks like it fits.

Morikawa? He appears to have the closing gene.

After missing the green at the par-4 14th hole, he calmly chipped in from 15 yards to move into a tie for the lead at -11. Two holes later, he hit one of the great shots in major championship history, a 295-yard bullet to the shortened par-4 16th, setting up a 7-foot eagle putt and the outright lead. When the former Cal-Berkley All-American rolled that one in, it was over.

Of those who fired and fell back on Sunday, Bryson DeChambeau likely had the biggest gripe. He drove the ball worthy of a major champion and putted like one as well. But his short iron play, particularly anything from 150 yards and in, was simply not good enough to warrant holding the Wanamaker Trophy at day's end. The 18th hole was the most glaring example, as he piped a 348 yard drive into perfect position in the fairway, needing a birdie to finish T2. When he left himself with a 54 foot birdie putt, 2nd place was gone. DeChambeau finished T4 after Johnson made birdie at the last to join Casey at 11-under.

If nothing else, this week's event showed how stacked the U.S. Ryder Cup team is going to be over the next decade and a half. Morikawa, DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler (T4, -10), Matthew Wolff (T4, -10), Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau figure to be the core of the team moving forward, with "old guys" like Koepka, D.J., Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland filling in nicely over the years.

Oh, and the real winner from the weekend was the golf course itself. TPC Harding Park was a majestic backdrop for golf's first major of 2020 and provided an incredible test for the best players in the world. It was just hard enough to create some train wrecks and it rewarded the guys who could hit fairways and greens. And, as the champion showed on the 16th hole yesterday, it also rewarded the player who was willing to take on the hard shot when the situation called for it.

The Olympic Club is the venue that routinely hosts a U.S. Open in San Francisco, but USGA officials would be wise to consider Harding Park for future national championships. Tighten the fairways another 6-8 yards, grow the rough another inch or two, keep the greens firm and......voila!!! have a U.S. Open circa 1990 on your hands. I hope they do it.

Back to Morikawa: As we've noted here on numerous occasions since he turned professional last June, he is the absolute real deal. He drives it great, for starters, and his iron play is impeccable. David Duval noted on Friday's ESPN broadcast that Morikawa's impact position and overall iron game is the best he's seen since the heyday of Tiger. When David Duval compares you to Tiger Woods, that's saying something.

Oh, and here's the "other" deal on Morikawa. He's just a regular 23-year old California kid. It's unlikely you'll hear any smack talk from him. Unlike Koepka, it's probably a good bet Morikawa won't be involved in any feuds with his TOUR brethren. He's great at golf, but perhaps not so good at snark. If that's your style, you have yourself a new golfing hero, it would appear.

As for Koepka, he got what was coming to him on Sunday. The sport is far too fickle to be tempting the golf gods with jabs and snickers about other people's inability to play under the gun, which is precisely what Brooks did on Saturday evening when he tried to dig at Johnson and the others around him on the leaderboard.

Some players took notice, too.

"I was watching the coverage back at the hotel," said Rory McIlroy after his round on Sunday. "And I have to say, I was quite surprised by what Brooks said. I was taken aback, honestly. I just thought that was an interesting thing to do in our game, you know, pointing out that some of the guys on the leaderboard hadn't accomplished as much as you have. Maybe this is the way golf's heading, I don't know. I just thought it was kind of odd to take that approach."

Koepka's final round 74 was his worst closing round in a major in five years. It doesn't mean he's chopped liver or anything. He will be heard from again, perhaps as soon as next month at the U.S. Open or in November at the Masters. In fact, the bet here is that Koepka enters the final round of one of those tournaments, if not both, in one of the final two pairings on Sunday with a chance to win his 5th major.

Don't be surprised if you see Collin Morikawa in that same position as well, as he starts his rapid rise to the top 5 in the world.

There might be a new sheriff in town, folks, much to Brooks Koepka's surprise.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

consider this…

400 words on golf, on a few subjects…it’s nice to see these major championships played on public golf courses like Harding Park, and not just because you can go to the course website right now and book the 9:20 a.m. tee time for your foursome as early as 10 days from now.

Not to sound silly, but the golf course looks like a golf course. The fairways are nice, but they don’t look like some kind of perfect magic carpet. The rough is thick and penalizing, but not to the point where it’s impossible to advance the ball. The greens aren’t ridiculous; it’s not necessary on any green to aim at a 90-degree angle to the hole or hit a 30-foot putt with a light tap. The bunkers are in play, but none of them are 20 feet below the level of the fairway or green.

According to TV commentators, Tiger's putting stroke looks good, although he didn't putt well at the PGA Championship. You figure it out.

They make it hard by making it as long as possible and having lush grass off the fairways, and by placing flags in difficult spots. It’s hard enough that a guy like Bubba Watson, who can hit the ball as far as he wants, can play four rounds and finish four strokes over par. I like it.

Meanwhile, on a sore subject around here, I happened to be watching the “featured group” coverage online during one of the first two rounds of the PGA Championship. You can guess one of the guys in the featured group, though Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy were the others so that was no slouch either.

At one point, the other guy in the group with Thomas and McIlroy hit a good approach to 10 feet or so. When it was his turn to putt, he lined it up and missed it to the right. It didn’t lip out or anything. He just missed it. It happens to all of us, even to him.

And after it happened, there was a brief pause before the on-course commentator said what absolutely nobody else was thinking — “man, I’ll tell you what, that putting stroke looks solid though." Come on now…

Finally, I’ll say it again. There is absolutely no difference in the television experience of watching a golf tournament when there are no fans on the course. It’s actually better — you can see more of the course, and I don’t remember hearing anyone say “bababooey Howard Stern” after anyone’s tee ball.

400 words on baseball, on a few subjects…the Orioles have now played 15 games, a full one-quarter of their 2020 season. The Cardinals have played only five, after their weekend series against the rival Cubs was postponed.

St. Louis was supposed to play in Milwaukee last weekend…didn’t happen. From there, the Cardinals were playing four games against Detroit, home-and-home…didn’t happen. Then came this past weekend. St. Louis hasn’t played since July 29. Today was supposed to be the day the Cardinals returned, at home against Pittsburgh. It’s not happening…

There’s a page on entitled “MLB announces scheduling updates.” This page keeps getting updated as often as necessary, which has been quite a bit. It’s one hell of a page, almost enough to require a translator to understand.

For the Cardinals, for instance, those four games against the Tigers are going to be made up as two doubleheaders, one this week in Detroit and another in St. Louis in September. By the way, for the Orioles, there are a couple changes. Next Wednesday, the 19th, they’ll be hosting the Blue Jays in the afternoon instead of the evening. Meanwhile, the Yankees were supposed to be here this past Wednesday, not the Marlins. That game will now be played in September, as part of a doubleheader. Got it?

Here’s a question. If the Orioles repeat their 8-7* mark for each quarter of this season, will a 32-28 record mean a postseason berth? Almost certainly, I’d say.

(*I know yesterday’s game was suspended by the stupid tarp thing. I’m giving us the win.)

As a reminder, eight teams from each league will make the expanded playoffs. Each division winner will be there, as will the second-place team in each division. There will also be two wild cards from each league.

Unlike in years past, the division winners won’t “rest” while the wild card game decides a postseason berth. There will be four best-of-three Wild Card series, an eight-team seeded tournament as it were. The division series will then be best-of-five, and then continuing on as in the past with the LCS and the World Series.

As for the Orioles, it’s easy to say that a winning record after 15 games in a surprise. But it isn’t, really. It’s only 15 games, and even really bad teams play like mediocre ones for short periods of time, maybe even 30 or 40 games. The big surprise is that a Marlins team wracked by COVID won four straight in Baltimore last week.

400 words on college football, on a few subjects…especially now that the Mid-American Conference (MAC) has announced the cancellation of all fall contests. The MAC is one of the “Group of Five” conferences that play football in Division I (also the American, Conference USA, Mountain West and Sun Belt), as opposed to the other five, the “Power Five”: the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC.

The MAC — Bowling Green, Akron, Kent State, et al — decided they’d be the first. Somebody had to be, and they made the decision. They certainly won’t be the last in major college football; the only real question is when one of the Power Five makes the call.

The postponement of this college football season is inevitable, isn’t it? There’s still too much that we don’t know when it comes to the health of the players. According to ESPN, some team physicians are noticing cases of inflammation of the heart muscle among athletes who have contracted COVID-19. These are potential heart problems that go way past a few days or weeks of being under the weather.

Maybe the Power Five has more resources when it comes to testing, and maybe that would give those schools a better chance of playing. But the optics would certainly be interesting, wouldn’t they?

Meanwhile, there reportedly was a heated exchange on a recent conference call of the Big 10 football coaches. Michigan coach and noted crazy person Jim Harbaugh interrupted the Ohio State coach, Ryan Day, to accuse him of violating NCAA rules by having on-field drills and coaching when it hasn’t yet been allowed for this season.

In case you weren’t aware, the Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines eight years in a row, including all five years of Harbaugh’s tenure in Ann Arbor. The scores the last two years have been 62-39 and 56-27. Going back to 2001, and including a 2010 win that OSU later had to “vacate” due to violations, Ohio State has won “The Game” 17 times in the last 19 years.

So the rivalry is apparently better off the field these days than it is on it, on phone calls and such. If the teams do get to play this year, it will be in October, not on the final weekend of the season as usual.

And once again, it’s worth noting, we ended up with the normal Harbaugh here in Baltimore.

Discover the Difference
August 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

leaderboard insanity!

Well, this was definitely worth the wait.

The PGA Championship is down to its final 18 holes and at least a dozen players have a legitimate shot at the Wanamaker Trophy.

And while someone will hoist the trophy around 10:00 pm EDT tonight, the real winner of the weekend is the golf course, TPC Harding Park, which has been more than a formidable foe for the best golfers in the world. Pars aren't easy, birdies and bogeys are both possible on every tee box, and anyone who can't putt falls by the wayside.

We'll take a moment here to mention that 15-time champion Tiger Woods has been humbled by the greens at Harding Park. Woods, once the greatest putter in golf, has looked like a 10-handicap on the putting surfaces for three days. He's statistically one of the worst putters in the field (of those who made the cut) and is on the verge of posting his worst putting tournament in 24 years as a professional.

But there are others on the first page of the leaderboard who can putt, which is why they have a chance to win today.

Let's look at the big names who could win today:

Dustin Johnson leads at 9-under par and it's Johnson's putting that has given him the opportunity to win the 2nd major of his career. For the event, he's at 4.925 in strokes gained putting, which basically means he's five shots better than everyone else on the greens based on the distance of the putts he's made and missed. Less than a month ago, Johnson was posting rounds of 80-80 at Muirfield Village. Now, he sits 18 great holes away from the PGA Championship. Johnson has always been one of the game's best drivers of the golf call, but it's the flat stick that has led to a number of final round collapses. Today might be different.

Scottie Scheffler is one shot back with 18 holes to play at the PGA Championship.

Scottie Scheffler is tied for second at 8-under par. The 3rd year professional has never challenged at a major championship, so this is indeed new territory for the former University of Texas star. Like Dustin Johnson, Scheffler shot up the leaderboard on Saturday with a five-under round of 65. How is he in this position? Because he's hit a whopping 77% of the greens in regulation, that's how. While he has the pedigree to win a major championship on the TOUR, it would be a bit of a shock to see him hold off the list of veteran players on the first page of the leaderboard.

Cameron Champ is tied with Scheffler at 8-under par. Champ used his prodigious length off the tee (328 yards on average in this event) to battle Harding Park. Only an opening round 71 has kept him from leading the tournament. Like Scheffler, he's major championship material, but a win today would be a bit of a surprise given who he's going up against.

Brooks Koepka birdied the 16th and 18 holes on Saturday to finish at 7-under in his quest for a 3rd straight PGA Championship. Three straight bogeys on the back sent Koepka tumbling down the leaderboard, but a late flurry leaves him just two shots behind heading into the final day. If anyone in the top 10 is capable of a final round 65 today, it's Koepka, who always seems to ramp up for major championships.

Collin Morikawa -- at 7 under par -- shot up the leaderboard with his own 65 on Saturday, making birdie at 15, 16 and 17 to give himself a great chance at his first major title today. His approach and putting stats for the week are mind-boggling. He's hitting 77% of the greens thus far and is at 4.566 strokes gained putting through 54 holes. One of the TOUR's best players since the restart in June, don't be surprised if he's holding up the Wanamaker Trophy later today. This kid can do it all.

Paul Casey posted a 3rd straight round in the 60's and is also at 7-under in search of his first major title. Casey's biggest issue this week has come on the greens, where he's actually -0.429 in strokes gained putting. If his flat stick would have cooperated at all in the first 54 holes, he could be winning by a couple of shots. Casey's time might have finally come. He needs one more great round.

Bryson DeChambeau made an improbable 95-foot putt on the 18th hole to finish at 6-under par. That putt, and a bunch of others he made, left BDC at 5.125 in strokes gained putting! Known more for his length off the tee than his work with the putter, DeChambeau has only hit 50% of the greens through 54 holes. If he can hit 65% or 70% of the greens today, he could be the winner.

Jason Day is also at 6-under par, along with Justin Rose, Daniel Berger and Tommy Fleetwood. Like DeChambeau, all four of those players have a shot at the championship today if they can produce a stellar final round of 64 or 65. Of those four, Rose and Day have major titles (one each). Expect one of those two to be in the hunt -- if not both -- on the final nine holes.

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sunday notes

Don't look now, but the Orioles are basically 25% of the way through the 2020 thing* and they're a .500 baseball team.

If they can avoid the Marlins for the next two months, who knows what might happen, right?

The battlin' Birds put up a 5-spot in the 8th inning last night to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, as Brandon Hyde's team clobbered three homers in that inning, including a 3-run shot from Anthony San-tan-DARE. The win was the 2nd straight over the Nationals, who are experiencing the predictable post-World-Series-blues.

For those of you keeping score at home, Chris Davis went 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts and is now hitting .125 for the 2020 thing*.

The O's go for the sweep this afternoon, facing Stephen Strasburg, who has yet to make a start in the thing* because of nerve damage in his right hand.

The Orioles will head to Philadelphia for 3-games starting on Tuesday, then return home for a weekend series against the Nationals.

25% of the thing* is complete and the O's are sniffing the playoffs. As the great Al Michaels once said, "Do you believe in miracles?"

The Capitals and Boston Bruins finish up the NHL's "re-seeding event" today and there's a lot at stake for the Caps.

With the worst franchise in the history of sports securing the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference yesterday, the only thing left for Washington is to determine who they'll play in the playoffs later this week.

Editor's note: For newbies here, the Philadelphia Flyers are the aforementioned "worst franchise in the history of sports".

If the Caps beat the Bruins today, Washington will face the New York Islanders in the first playoff round. If they lose, they'll take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Both match-ups aren't particularly favorable for Alex Ovechkin and Company. The Islanders are led by former Caps head coach Barry Trotz. If anyone knows how to temper the Capitals, it's Trotz. The Hurricanes are the team the Caps probably least wanted to face, if possible. Carolina eliminated Washington in 7 games last spring and their speed at both ends of the ice could be troubling.

Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR race in Michigan yesterday. How do I know? I watched it. I did, really. I didn't watch it from start to finish, but I did stick with it over the last 45 minutes or so.

Yes, the PGA Championship was on at the same time. And, yes, I really did watch NASCAR while a professional golf major was on at the same time.

NASCAR is a fascinating sport. I'm a complete novice, but my brother-in-law has worked on several NASCAR crews in the last 20 years and he gives me a crash course in understanding the nuances of auto racing when we're together for family events.

Yesterday, for example, I learned that you better have all five lug nuts on your four tires when you finish the race or the crew chief gets fined and/or penalized. Who knew? (Who cares?).

Here's something else I learned yesterday. Draft Kings has "fantasy NASCAR". I don't have the bug yet, but I'm studying the drivers just in case.

Because of their 2020 schedule being Covid-19 disrupted, NASCAR will race again today at Michigan International Speedway. Harvick has won 3 of the last 4 races there. It seems reasonable to assume he'll be in the hunt again this afternoon, huh?

OK, what the heck. Here's the team I just entered in Draft Kings. (That didn't take long, huh?).

Kevin Harvick, Matt DiBenedetto, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bubba Wallace.

August 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

saturday points to ponder

Shame on Here's the headline they attached to the box score from last night's 11-0 Orioles win over the Nationals.

Even Davis gets 2 hits as O's total 19 in 11-0 win at Nats

Geez, the guy finally does something worth a hoot and he still gets needled.

I didn't see any of Friday night's game so I have no commentary to offer other than to say it's always good to win one after you've lost four straight at home.

Wait...technically only two of them were at "home". The Wednesday doubleheader nightcap and the Thursday loss were Miami "home games" even though they were in Baltimore.

But we all know the truth: They were all "home" games for the Orioles. And they lost all four. So it's nice to win and get that losing streak off their minds.

Now back to that ESPN headline. Maybe it was funny in the back office. "Hey, did you guy see what I did with that Orioles box score tonight?"

But it was a pretty low blow, if we're being honest. Maybe it falls under the category of "You can't make fun of our teams but we can", but it was questionable at best for ESPN to publish that headline.

Michael Clarke Duncan was nominated for an Academy award for best supporting actor as John Coffey in the movie, The Green Mile.

I haven't watched every movie in the history of movies, but I've watched a couple hundred, I'd say. And while I'm not an acting expert, either, I feel like I know a remarkable performance when I see one.

For instance, I know Leonardo DiCaprio was amazing in "The Revenant".

And Philip Seymour Hoffman was outstanding in "Doubt".

Dustin Hoffman was exceptional in "Rain Man".

And Anthony Hopkins was, no pun intended, scary good in "Silence of The Lambs".

But I wonder if any of those performances were as good as Michael Clarke Duncan was as an executed-killer-who-didn't-kill in "The Green Mile"?

Have you ever felt more sorry for a movie character?

Tom Hanks once said that he had to stop twice while shooting the final execution scene when John Coffey said, "I'm tired, boss. I'm tired of being on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain." Hanks said it was so emotionally moving he couldn't remember his next line(s).

I'm so glad there's going to be an asterisk next to the Stanley Cup winner for '19-20 because I'm starting to worry that perhaps that team from Philadelphia might just wind up winning it all.

I sure do hope I'm wrong, but I said from the start of the season that I thought the Philadelphia team was potentially a dangerous one.

As for the Caps, their first-round (or is "next round"?) playoff opponent has yet to be determined. They have one game left in the seeding event, vs. Boston on Sunday, and once that result is known, the Caps post-season schedule will be known.

You know what I'm going to say. I don't care who wins the Stanley Cup as long as it's not that team from Philadelphia. Anyone but those creeps.

In fact, here's what I'm willing to do as a trade-off for the Philly team not winning. I'll make a deal. If the hockey gods will eliminate that team from Philadelphia before the Finals, I'll sign off on the Yankees winning this year's World Series. Fair trade?

I know what you're thinking. I'm a bad guy. Right?

I mentioned earlier I'm not an expert on actors but I know a great role when I see one. I'd like to think I have a little bit more "status" when it comes to judging and/or grading sports broadcasters, reporters and so on. I've certainly been around a lot of them in my life and have been privileged to work with some along the way.

I'll do my best to not make this seem like hyperbole, but is there an argument that Scott Van Pelt is the best sports media personality of the last 25 years?

I'm not sure there is an argument, actually. I think he might be the best by eight lengths. His studio work has always been sublime and over the last couple of years he's become very adept at "tower work" at golf tournaments, like we're seeing from him this week on ESPN's coverage of the PGA Championship.

There's just something about SVP's style that is remarkably smooth. He doesn't let the moment overwhelm him, no matter what it is, and he seems to have keen knowledge about whatever subject he's tackling at that moment. Baseball, college basketball, golf, the NFL -- the guy can do it all.

The late Stuart Scott had the same kind of cache, I thought. He was amazing in the studio and could shift to "hosting work" and handle the transition with ease. Those two, Scott and Van Pelt, could have been one of the great sportscasting duos of our lifetime.

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pga championship -- day two notes

Haotong Li.

He's the leader of the PGA Championship through 36 holes, sitting at 8-under par, two shots ahead of a bunch of big names like Rose, Koepka and Fleetwood.

Haotong Li. You've probably never heard of him, huh?

For those who think he's a fluke, he's really not. Li is a terrific player. While he doesn't yet have a PGA Tour win, the 25-year old does own two European Tour victories and was part of the International Team in last December's Presidents Cup.

Do I think Li is going to hold on and win the PGA? I do not. But if he does somehow manage to win the Wanamaker Trophy, it wouldn't be nearly as shocking as the victories by guys like Rich Beem and Shaun Micheel in the 2000's.

Brooks Koepka is just two shots back at Harding Park as he looks to win his 3rd straight PGA Championship.

Haotong Li is a legitimate big time player. We just don't know much about him here in the States. Not yet, anyway.

The leaderboard is littered with big names. With the course expected to toughen up over the weekend, this PGA is going to more closely resemble a 1990's U.S. Open. A great player is going to wind up winning, someone that can handle the stress of the four inch rough and the unpredictable nature of the greens.

The cut line fell at 1 over par and the story of the second round became who made it to the weekend and who didn't.

Tiger Woods made it, but his putter probably won't see the light of day on Saturday. One day after making every putt he looked at, Woods couldn't make a thing on Friday, shooting 72 and finishing at even par for the opening 36 holes. There's no hiding what's wrong with Woods. He just doesn't have the finely tuned overall game he once possessed. When he drives it well, he can't make a putt. When he putts lights out, he can't hit enough greens to turn 68 into the 65 or 66 he would have shot with his eyes closed 15 years ago.

Pre-tournament favorite Justin Thomas made a nice up-and-down on the last hole of Friday's second round to finish at 1 over par and secure his spot on the weekend. He's still in it, although he'd need two rounds of 66 to have a puncher's chance of winning.

Jordan Spieth is also at 1-over par so technically his shot at the career grand slam is still alive.

Rickie Fowler is heading home after posting 2-over par for 36 holes. Fowler missed a 6" inch putt on Friday, "whiffing" a tap-in that led to a double bogey on the back nine. That one stroke turned out to be costly for Rickie, as he missed the cut by a single shot.

The players you expected to see on the leaderboard are right there, led by 2-time defending champion Brooks Koepka at 6-under par, along with Jason Day, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Daniel Berger.

Xander Schauffele is right there at 4-under par, along with Dustin Johnson. Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed are 2-under par and still very much in the hunt as well.

If the conditions get really tough over the next two days, something like 6-under could be the winning score. Honestly, anyone who made the cut still has a shot at winning the season's first major championship at TPC Harding Park.


August 7
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penn state knows customer service

You have to hand it to the Penn State Athletic Department.

The Covid-19 pandemic hasn't zapped them of their audacity.

In an e-mail to their athletic supporters and ticket holders yesterday, Penn State outlined the details of the upcoming athletic season. In short, right now, the Nittany Lions aren't sure any spectators will be allowed to attend PSU football this fall. So they've outlined what the process will be for those who have prepaid for their 2020 tickets.

Don't you dare have the nerve to ask Penn State for your money back...

Here's the first thing you need to know about Penn State. They'll do nothing at all to make the whole situation go smoothly. If you want a refund for your unused tickets, you can have it. But -- are you ready for this? -- by claiming and receiving a refund you will not be guaranteed your same seats or parking for the 2021 football season.

You read that right. You are punished by the Penn State Athletic Department if you ask them to give you your money back for a product you will not be able consume.

There's more.

Penn State essentially wants you to let them keep your money and have it serve as a donation to the school's "Levi Lamb Fund", whatever that is. If you're willing to do that, Penn State will like you. They'll like you a lot, in fact. Here's what you receive for that generosity: You will not be subject to a ticket price increase in 2021, should one occur.

So let's say you've purchased $5,000 worth of Penn State football tickets for 2020. Before even doing that, of course, you have to be a "donor" to the athletic department. That's another $5,000. Or $10,000. Or, perhaps, even $25,000. All for the privilege of seeing Penn State football. But if you bought $5,000 worth of tickets for 2020, your "gift" for donating that money back to the school is you won't face a ticket price increase next year.

There's still more.

If you decide to just let Penn State keep your money but roll it over to your 2021 seats, they're still going to convert your football "seat contribution" (seems like a dopey way to say "Personal Seat License") into a donation to that aforementioned "Levi Lamb Fund".

So, you have three options if you're a Penn State football season ticket holder.

One, you can just tell them to keep the money and convert the whole thing into a tax deductible donation to ----- themselves...

Two, you can tell them to keep the money but roll it all over to next year's season tickets. They'll do that, but the 2020 seat contribution you gave them will become a donation to ------ themselves...

Third, you can ask for your money to be refunded. But if you do that, you are no longer guaranteed those same seats in 2021. And that parking you've loved for all those years you supported Penn State football? That won't be guaranteed, either.

Here's what Penn State's Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics, Sandy Barbour, had to say in an e-mail to ticket holders on Thursday:

Penn State Athletics has always and will always put the health, safety and education of our students as our top priority. The current COVID-19 environment is no exception. Your support and generosity have always been the cornerstone of our ability to provide our coaches, staff and students with the resources necessary to meet our students' needs in those areas. You have ALWAYS supported our students at our times of the most acute need. This is one of those moments.

Editor's note: Now Sandy, I guess I'll be the one to remind you -- Penn State Athletics hasn't always put the health and safety of its students as a top priority. You see, there was this football coach...

Regardless of whether we play or don't play, our revenue losses will be in the high eight figures, reaching nine figures in the case of no competition. We cannot let this pandemic stall or wipe out all of the incredible work and progress that, with your help, our students and our programs have been able to achieve in the classroom, in our community and, of course, in our competitive venues.

Editor's note: You have revenue losses because of the pandemic? Welcome to the club. Lots of us belong.

On March 12, 2020, when the NCAA Winter Championships were cancelled and our spring sports were halted, your Nittany Lions were in position to complete one of the best years in our history. All this with record-setting academics as the backdrop. We need to be in position to come out of the pandemic with a running start, and we need your support to do that.

Editor's note: Thanks for the reminder and the gentle nudge you provided, re: the on-field success of the Nittany Lions in '19-20. I guess we probably should just donate that money after all.

We have taken many steps to minimize our potential losses by implementing salary reductions across the department for this fiscal year, restricting travel and reducing operational budgets, and pushing some projects and initiatives to a later date. These steps have allowed us to avoid the tough decisions other schools have already had to make, like eliminating sports or laying off employees. But our financial challenges will be immense, and I know as proud Nittany Lions, you will show your pride and support in as many ways as your individual, family and business situation will allow. We Are…grateful!

Editor's note: Yep, they sure are grateful. They're so grateful, in fact, they're not going to make easy for you to renew your seats in 2021 if you have the nerve to ask for your money back.

It's seeing things like that e-mail that make people dislike college athletics.

And it's seeing that Penn State logo on one of those e-mails that tells us the Nittany Lions have already forgotten about that story from a few years ago where they asked their longtime supporters to stand beside them during a horrific situation within their athletic department.

Short memories in Happy Valley.

Really short.

But at least you won't face a price increase in 2021 if you let them keep your money.

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pga championship: day one notes

The value of the early-late tee-time rotation was very evident on Thursday, as nearly every player on the first page of the leaderboard was out in the morning wave, playing in calm, mostly sunny conditions.

Those who did play early on Thursday will have the advantage of a lazy morning on Friday before heading to the golf course around noon (PDT) for their round two tee-time. Of course, the weather could be good this morning and get unsettled in the afternoon, and the greens will definitely be a little chewy for the afternoon players today, but on day one, at least, those who played early received a big advantage.

The projected cut is +1, but if conditions start off benign and get tricky as the day goes on, +2 for two rounds might be good enough to make the weekend.

Jordan Spieth continued to struggle off the tee in round one of the PGA Championship and later spent the better part of four hours on the practice range after his opening round of 3-over par 73.

It's all over but the shouting for Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, who both shot +3 on Thursday and will need some stellar round two play just to make the cut. Spieth went out in the morning, Fowler played in the afternoon, and both were wild off the tee.

It's not a complete shock that Spieth stunk it up, particularly with the driver. He's been out of sorts for a couple of years now, although he rallied to have a decent performance in Memphis last week. Fowler, though, had enjoyed great success in round one of majors in recent years, so his Thursday play was somewhat surprising. In seven straight majors prior to yesterday, Rickie had posted an under par score on day one.

So unless there's some sort of historic turnaround from either of them, Spieth will have to wait until next year to chase down that elusive fourth and final major win to achieve the career grand slam and Fowler will wait a month before teeing it up at Winged Foot in the U.S. Open in search of his first major victory.

Four years ago -- with Tiger out of the picture due to injury -- those two were the face of American golf. Now, guys like DeChambeau and Wolff and Morikawa are moving up the ranks while Spieth and Fowler continue to tumble.

Tiger Woods was one of those players who went out early yesterday and he was able to put together a 2-under round of 68.

Don't kid yourself, though. Despite shooting in the 60's in round one of a major for the first time since 2014, Woods did not play all that well on Thursday. He managed to hit just 7 fairways. He did, however, putt the lights out of the ball, making 115 feet of putts over 18 holes. And since putting has been his biggest issue over the last two years, Tiger followers had every right to be enthused after his 68 on Thursday.

But it's very unlikely the 15-time major can putt like that again today. If he somehow does, and if he can straighten out his play off the tee, Woods could be hanging around the leaderboard through 36 holes.

TPC Harding Park wound up playing easier than the experts figured it would on Thursday, but don't let all of those -4's and -3's lull you into a false sense of security. The golf course is going to wind up playing like a bear over the weekend, particularly the greens. You'll hear all about it by Sunday, I assume, as the TV broadcasters are going to make a big deal about how difficult the San Francisco public course can play.

You can expect the winning score to be somewhere in the 10 under to 12 under range, as long as it firms up and stays dry over the next three days.

Brendan Todd actually out-putted Tiger on Thursday, as he made 124 feet of putts to share the first round lead with Jason Day at 5-under par.

Todd is an interesting story. Three years ago, he hit a 4-iron shank at an event in Hawaii and essentially lost his golf-game for the better part of two seasons. But he's led or co-led more rounds in 2020 than any other player on TOUR, which is quite a feat for someone that no one really knows anything about. He won twice in late 2019 and was in the hunt last week in Memphis as his play on Thursday at the PGA was not a shock at all.

Oh, and for all the talk about TPC Harding Park playing into the long hitter's hands, Todd is one of the shortest guys on TOUR in terms of driving distance.

When you make 120 feet worth of putts in one round, how far you hit it off the tee doesn't matter. But, as earlier suggested with Woods, the possibility of Todd putting like that for the next three days is very unlikely.'s the PGA. And some other guys no one had ever heard of before figured out a way to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy, including a guy named John Daly in 1991, plus Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Keegan Bradley. "Brendan Todd" would be as unlikely as any of them, but he is certainly have a season worthy of competing for a major championship.

August 6
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thursday thoughts

This thing* the Orioles are playing is going to leave them in quite a quandry if the starting pitching continues to shine. Alex Cobb and John Means were both excellent against the Marlins and even Wade LeBlanc has looked decent thus far through a couple of starts. If you're Mike Elias, do you hold on to those three -- Cobb and Means in particular -- and hope they can be part of the "getting better" team we expect to see in a couple of years? Or do you ship them off on August 20 and try and stockpile more young prospects and "players to be named later"? Means has picked up 5 MPH on his fastball from a year ago, and mixed with that nasty change-up of his, is blossoming into a potential top of the rotation guy if he continues to progress.

One inning of work from Max Scherzer on Wednesday night was quite deflating for fantasy baseball enthusiasts.

Talk about a bad fantasy baseball beat, the author experienced one of those and then some last night. Heading into the slate of night games, I was sitting in 30th place (out of 12,300 entries) after getting some good production from several Phillies and Yankees in their doubleheader opener. First prize in the game was $25,000. As it was, 30th was netting me a $200 prize (on an $8.00 entry) and if I could just move to 20th, I'd be looking at $1,000. I had two players left to perform for my team. Carlos Correa of Houston was one of them. He went 2-for-4 in Houston's 14-7 loss to Arizona. I just needed the other guy to have a big night. And that was a slam dunk...his name was Max Scherzer. And ----------- Scherzer left the game after one inning with hamstring troubles. My take when the night ended? $44.00. If Scherzer would have gone 5 innings, recorded 15 outs, and struck out 8 batters without allowing more than an earned run or two (both of which are "routine" for him), I probably would have won somewhere around $5,000. But hey, I won $44, so I have that going for me, which is nice. Thanks, Max.

Since the NBA and NHL started playing actual games in their bubble(s), the two leagues have not had a positive Covid-19 case. Baseball, meanwhile, has a mess on its hands with the Marlins and Cardinals both causing a major ripple in the truncated 2020 campaign. Football is back at it right now, with training camps taking place all over the country. So far, so good, but you just know it's a matter of time before someone has to shut down their camp because of one or more positive tests. I think the cosmetic appearance of the two "bubble" sports is lousy. They can cover up the seats or put cardboard cut outs in them, but the whole thing looks bizarre. But at least they're playing. And all games are going off as scheduled. I still say the NFL would be best served to create a "bubble season" of its own, perhaps in Dallas, Arizona and Detroit, maybe?

Speaking of the NHL and its bubble, the Capitals play the Flyers today at 4:00 pm. I don't care much for the Flyers, you might have heard. And even though this game doesn't really mean anything except for seeding purposes for the next round, the Flyers are vastly improved from a year ago and have been gaining confidence all year. Despite the five month hiatus, they picked up right where they left off in the first "seeding game" by beating Boston, 4-1. Dare I say it? The Flyers are potentially a real threat in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Yikes. That's far, far worse than the Yankees winning the A.L. East or the Steelers winning the AFC North. Far worse. The Flyers are the worst franchise in all of sports. In the world. C'mon Caps, humanity needs you today.

The Orioles entered Wednesday's series opener with the Marlins sky high after a weekend sweep of the supposedly-really-good Tampa Bay Rays. And with the Marlins coming to town for their first live baseball in nine days, the Birds were on track to perhaps start the thing* at 9-3. Heck, after that 3-game sweep of Tampa Bay, ESPN's computer said the O's had a 36% chance of making the expanded MLB playoffs in 2020. 36% chance!! And -------- they've now lost three straight to the Marlins, scoring only one run -- one run -- in those 3 games. From 5-3 to 5-6. Of course, a 30-30 record at the completion of the 60-game thing* will likely get a team into the post-season, so the O's are still on pace for a playoff run, but you have to make your move against teams like the Marlins. Or so we thought, right?

One of the on-going aggravations on Twitter is watching Baltimore football fans constantly defending Lamar Jackson whenever others around the country troll the Ravens quarterback for being 0-2 in the playoffs. It's hilarious to watch the back and forth from folks. Kansas City people making fun of Jackson's 0-2 mark and Ravens fans bragging about Lamar's MVP award. I never involve myself in those threads, but I do amuse myself by reading them. And while I'm not a huge fan of internet trolls, those Chiefs fans know they have the upper hand right now as both the defending Super Bowl champs and owners of (arguably) the best quarterback in football. Meanwhile, Ravens fans have to live with Jackson throwing up duds against the Chargers in 2019 and the Titans in 2020. There's nothing we here in Baltimore can say to change that. It is what it is, to borrow that term that drives people crazy. Until Jackson wins a playoff game, he's going to hear and read that stuff.

If you believe in golf gods, and I most certainly do (how else can you explain Nicklaus at the '86 Masters?), one of three things will happen at this week's PGA Championship. Tiger will win and capture not only his 16th major, but his 83rd career win, giving him the all-time record. I always said Woods could truly start thinking about catching Jack's mark of 18 majors once he got to 16. Until then, it was still a far-reaching accomplishment. A win at Harding Park would put him there. The golf gods could also reward Jordan Spieth for three years of hanging in there and fighting his swing and his game by giving him a win and completing the career grand slam. Spieth has been on a real downturn since winning the British Open in 2017, but one win at a major could potentially get him back on track. Surely the golf gods have seen the way Spieth has handled himself over the last three years. How about a win for the Texas kid? And finally, it would be great to see the golf gods usher Rickie Fowler into the winner's circle. Even if he winds up winning just one major, a victory at the PGA Championship would be a career statement for Fowler and might allow his golf game to "free up" a bit in the second half of his career. As someone noted in the Comments section recently, Phil Mickelson didn't win his first major until he was 34. So Fowler could win one here and then win one next year and then, who knows, he too could win up with four or five by the time he's 50. Or......he could win zero, which would be a shame. C'mon golf gods. We know you're watching. Tiger, Jordan or Rickie. Any of those three this week, please.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

my day at the pga

I met my friend Greg Parassio at the scenic Metropark train station in that part of New Jersey that gives the state a bad name. No worries, since we were headed to a slightly more bucolic place. In 30 minutes or so, we’d be at Baltusrol Golf Club, home of the 2005 PGA Championship.

This was a good deal, the VIP treatment. My colleague Michael Cross, now an athletic department bigwig at Penn State, had a bunch of tickets to give away. His sister worked for the PGA of America (1), which runs the tournament. I chose Friday, the second round, to make it a long weekend.

There was no offsite parking at a commuter station five miles away next to the town diner (every town in New Jersey has a diner) and then a shuttle bus to the course. Not for us. We pulled off the main road, then a side road, then made a couple of turns in a tree-shaded neighborhood. At a dead end, we were ushered through an open gate to a parking space that was literally on a golf course.

Phil Mickelson was the winner of the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol, the second major title of his career.

Turns out it was the adjacent Upper Course at Baltusrol, the one they weren’t using for the tournament. I wondered how much a week of parking cars ruins a golf course, and how much the PGA paid the club for the damage. I told Greg to remember that we were parked in what appeared to be the middle of the 12th fairway, maybe 165 out. A big 7-iron for me (2). Off we went.

The other good news? Our tickets were special ones, with access to one of those corporate tents. In our case, it was the PGA of America’s own monstrous tent, located in a prime spot next to the 17th hole. The tent was air-conditioned, and the outside temperature reached close to 100 degrees at one point. Get the drift? Also they had food. I believe I remember crab cakes and some excellent buffalo wings. Anyway…

The 17th at Baltusrol is some kind of spot. In 2005, it played at 630 yards. In 2020, the club lists the championship tee yardage at 647 yards. The green is on a hill. 99 percent of the field, assuming they hit a good drive, attempts to hit a good second shot to the bottom of the hill, about 110 yards from the green.(3)

I actually saw Tiger Woods go for the green in two shots. He was annoyed after shooting 75 on Thursday, I think. Or maybe he was suffering from heat stroke. I didn’t have a great view, but he took a mighty lash at it. I lost sight of the ball, and wasn’t interested in chasing his next shot with thousands of my new friends. We bolted back into the tent, where we saw on the broadcast that his shot had actually finished behind the green in a bunker.

Woods, you probably don’t recall, finished his tournament at -2 on Sunday. Thunderstorms forced the conclusion until Monday morning, but he didn’t stick around for a potential playoff even though he’d end up only two shots off the -4 winning score of Phil Mickelson (4).

This was close to the height of Tiger-mania. He’d won The Masters in April, the one with his famous chip-in from off the 16th green. Just a few weeks before the PGA, he’d gone wire-to-wire in winning the Open Championship at St. Andrews. He wouldn’t turn 30 until December of that year.

And I must say, as fan attending a golf tournament on a scorching day, I found the whole thing annoying. I could barely see him. The only time I got close was when he was walking up a fairway after hitting a tee shot. Steve Williams, his caddie, was eating an apple, and he was nice enough to toss the core into a trash can as opposed to the ground. Good on him, mate.

Chris DiMarco, the guy who Tiger beat in a playoff at Augusta that year? There was nobody watching him. We followed him for a couple holes. Michael Campbell (5), who had won the U.S. Open in June, finished a shot behind Woods at Baltusrol with very few people watching.

The crowd control seemed a little lax, actually, with the exception of Woods and Mickelson and a couple others. Greg and I traversed a fairway on one of those crosswalks that was wide open. As we reached the center, we were approached by the Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy, who had apparently just teed off. He was surprised to see us, I think. We said “g’day, mate” and headed back toward the tent.

Ogilvy neglected to tell me that he would win the U.S. Open the following year, thanks to double bogeys on the 18th hole at Winged Foot both by Mickelson (6) and Colin Montgomerie. If I were a betting man, I could have won a few quid on him. The Open returns to Winged Foot this year, by the way. As the crow flies, it’s only about 50 miles from Baltusrol. In typical New York traffic, allow three hours.

The Lower Course at Baltusrol is one of those annoying layouts where the 9th green does not come back to the clubhouse (7); in fact, the par-3 9th is about as far away from the first tee as any other point on the course. I’m not sure how the PGA shuttled players back to the clubhouse or out to the 10th tee for the two-tee start; they might have used some of the closed-off neighborhood roads to avoid the crowds. No worries for DiMarco, though…he and his caddie could have walked the two miles back to the practice green with no bother at all.

I’ve written this before, but it comes back to me every time a big golf tournament returns, which thankfully is happening today: going to the course isn’t really a great way to watch the golf. I can appreciate wanting to be right next to Justin Thomas to hear what it sounds like when he makes contact with the driver, or maybe being a few feet away from Mickelson when he hits some kind of ridiculous short-sided flop shot. But I’m 47 years old, and I can barely see my own tee shots after about 125 yards (8). Being at the course among thousands makes it difficult to actually follow the ball, and the narrative of the entire tournament gets lost when you are but a speck on hundreds of acres.

Certainly there’s the actual setting of a famous golf course, but Baltusrol isn’t Pebble Beach. I’d certainly like to be invited to play there one day (9), but it wasn’t a place I walked around gaping at the scenery. It’s an old, traditional club for really rich people; I think it was only within the last 10 years or so that you were allowed to wear shorts on the course.

That Friday at the 2005 PGA remains the only time I’ve been to major championship round that counted; the #DMD Monday at the Masters in 2018 doesn’t count, though it sure was great. I suppose I was fortunate to be there during the prime of the Mickelson-Woods “rivalry,” and I certainly appreciated the VIP access. On some level, simply being on a golf course with so many people is a unique experience, the exact opposite of the typical golf experience.

When they play the PGA starting today in San Francisco, there won’t be anybody there watching. For lots of reasons, that’s a shame. Those players make money because they are public performers, not just great golfers. As for me, however, I’ve been fine with the television broadcast ever since I had the chance to be there.

Notes --

(1) - The PGA of America is the organization of club professionals, not to be confused with the PGA Tour. They also help run the Ryder Cup.

(2) - Ok, maybe a 6. Smooth.

(3) - As great of a hole as it is, it’s also sort of boring. Everybody hits a shot to the same spot, and then tries to hit a wedge as close as possible. It’s basically the longest par-3 in the world.

(4) - Mickelson won by making a birdie on the par-5 18th hole, hitting a great chip/pitch from heavy rough next to the green to about two feet from the cup.

(5) - Campbell, who is now 51, played the British Masters a few weeks ago and was only one shot out of the lead after the first round. He said after the round that he hadn’t played in eight months and only started practicing two weeks prior.

(6) - Said Mickelson. “I still am in shock that I did that. I just can’t believe that I did that. I am such an idiot.”

(7) - The Black Course at Bethpage State Park, site of the 2019 PGA, is also like that.

(8) - When I had to get progressive addition lenses about five years ago, it took a while to figure out how to hit a golf ball with them.

(9) - Jim Nantz grew up in New Jersey; I think I once heard that he was (still is?) a Baltusrol member. Drew, you know Jim, right? Help me out…


champions league preview

The flagship European club competition, the UEFA Champions League, resumes play this Friday. When the COVID shutdown went in place in March, half of the round of 16 had been completed, leaving four teams qualified for the quarterfinals and four more matches to play to determine the remaining quarterfinalists.

That is where it will pick up, with two quarterfinalists determined Friday and two more on Saturday. The quarterfinals will begin Wednesday August 12th and the competition will be a single elimination tournament from there with all games being played in Portugal.

The US TV rights for the competition have been transferred from Turner to CBS, however it appears they will not air any matches on the main CBS channel, instead airing most on CBS Sports Network or their CBS All Access streaming service.

American Christian Pulisic (left, in red) will miss the Champions League quarterfinals for Chelsea after suffering a leg injury last week.

Friday’s headline match involves Spanish champions Real Madrid visiting English Premier League runners up Manchester CIty. Man City are currently the betting favorites to win the entire competition. They won the first leg in Madrid back in March 2-1 and thus have a sizable advantage coming into this home match. They will have their work cut out for them however, as Real Madrid have been one of the best clubs since the return from shutdown, storming through La Liga to overtake Barcelona for the Spanish title.

The other Friday match sees Lyon travel to play Juventus. The Italian champions lost the first leg 1-0 to the French side and will need to overturn that score to advance. Despite the deficit, Juventus are the slight favorites to win the match and advance. Juventus are coming fresh off the conclusion of their season while Lyon has played only one competitive match since the French league shut down in March.

The winners of the two Friday matches will play each other in the quarterfinals next week in Portugal. Likewise the winners of the two Saturday matches will meet each other next week.

Saturday sees Spanish runners up Barcelonaat home against Napoli. The teams drew 1-1 in the first leg so Barcelona will need a win or 0-0 draw to advance while Napoli can advance with a win or higher scoring draw. Barca are the heavy favorites to advance from the match despite their lackluster finish to the Spanish season. Napoli suffered a potentially devastating loss on Saturday when top attacker Lorenzo Insigne went with a leg injury that could keep him out.

The other Saturday match has Chelsea traveling to Bayern Munich. Bayern is another of the heavy favorites to win the competition, having destroyed the German Bundesliga post-restart. There is a good argument that Bayern has been the best club throughout the 2019-20 season. In addition to that, Bayern carry a 3-0 win from the first leg, meaning Chelsea will require a colossal comeback to overturn the result. If that weren’t bad enough, Chelsea will likely be without their top attacker, Christian Pulisic, and their captain, Cesar Azpilicueta, who were both injured in last weekend’s FA Cup Final.

The two quarterfinal matches already set for next week are Atalanta vs Paris SG and RB Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid. Paris were one of the top clubs before the shutdown, but have only played two competitive matches since March. This draw has done them a lot of favors by placing all of the other favorites (Man City, Bayern, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid) on the opposite side of the bracket. On talent alone PSG would be heavily favored over Atalanta, but the Italian side have been one of the hottest teams since the restart and play a high energy game that could disrupt a rusty PSG.

In the last matchup, Atletico Madrid are slight betting favorites against Tyler Adam’sRB Leipzig. Atletico are always tough in cup competitions due to their organized and diligent defending. This isn’t a great matchup for Leipzig since they like to press teams high and force turnovers to create scoring chances. Atletico will force Leipzig to have more possession and the German team will need to find ways to break down the difficult defense while preventing quick counter attacks.

The quarterfinal draw has produced quite an unbalanced bracket. On one side the teams have a combined 25 Champions League trophies compared to zero on the other. This sets up a good chance of seeing a Cinderella team in the final as well as some drama filled matchups of Europe’s biggest clubs in the upcoming rounds.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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August 5
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is it tiger's time?

When the PGA Championship begins tomorrow at Harding Park in San Francisco, Tiger Woods will be bundled up like it's a late January day at Torrey Pines.

And, well, if you follow golf you'll know he's had a pretty nice run at that course on the outskirts of San Diego.

He played well at the Presidents Cup back in 2009 when it was held at Harding Park.

Oh, and when the PGA Championship released their tee-times for this Thursday and Friday, Woods got the favorable end of the draw, playing early (8:33 AM PDT) on day one and 1:58 pm (PDT) on day two.

It's all shaping up well for Woods, huh?'s not.

Patrick Cantlay, from Long Beach, California, is #DMD's pick to win this year's PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

While it's true he's played well in California throughout his career, his brief record at Harding Park is good, and he got the preferred tee-time rotation on Thursday and Friday, you won't be seeing Woods holding the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday evening.

I'd be surprised if Tiger finishes in the top 10, honestly.

The course doesn't set up well for a guy with a bad back who will have to face 4 to 6 lashes out of four inch rough, per-day, assuming he hits 8 (or so) of the 14 fairways, which is roughly what we've come to expect from him in the latter stages of his career.

And while it would be silly to write him off completely, the thought here is this is not the venue, weather or "time" for Tiger to claim his 16th major title and 83rd career win.

So, to answer the headline, it's not Tiger's time.

But it very well might be time for Patrick Cantlay to finally break through and win the first major championship of his career. He's our predicted winner at Harding Park this week.

As we wrote here yesterday, several key statistics come into play when evaulating this week's event and Cantlay checks most of those boxes in a big way.

He's top 60 in nearly every "shots gained" stat, including 4th on TOUR in what might be the most important piece of the data heading into the week: shots gained, approach the green. That statistic basically shows where a player ranks against the rest of the field in getting his ball on the green AFTER his tee-shot. Only 3 players on TOUR rate higher than Cantlay in this all important statistic.

Cantlay hasn't won a major championship, but he's been in the hunt enough to know what it's like. He briefly led the 2019 Masters before making a bogey at the 16th hole on Sunday and he finished T3 at Bethpage in May, 2019. This year, he's 9-for-9 in cuts made.

And if you put any stock in "California kids" knowing how to navigate their way around California courses and handle the bentgrass greens, then Cantlay is a good fit.

As you'll see in our fantasy lineup(s) below, we are touting a number of big name players this week. 16 of the last 20 PGA champions won an event earlier in the calendar year and 18 of the last 20 finished T-30 or better in the most recent event they played leading up to the PGA. While Cantlay doesn't fit either of those formulas, it's worth remembering he's only played in 7 events all year due to the Covid-19 shutdown.

More than anything, though, we think the time is right for Cantlay to finally show that he's one of the game's best players. The stats point in his direction, for sure. Now, all he has to do is follow through on what the data says he's capable of doing.

handicapping "others"

So what about the big names we aren't favoring this week? What do we think about those guys? Glad you asked. Look, any of the top 50 players in the world could win, but the stats and data numbers don't favor some of those players. As in...

Dustin Johnson -- It all depends on how his putter behaves. Tee to green, he's having a terrific year. And it looks like - based on his play in Memphis last week -- that he shook off the dismal performance at Muirfield Village. But his "shots gained, putting" stat for 2020 is lousy, as he ranks 139th on TOUR at (-.112) in that category. You can't win a major championship putting poorly. Odds of a win this week: 25-1.

Can Patrick Reed hit enough fairways to be a threat at this week's first major of the 2020 PGA Tour season?

Jason Day -- Much like Tiger, a guy with a bad back in cool, fall-like temperatures doesn't figure to prosper very well. Like Tiger, though, he did get the favorable early/late tee-time draw. But his driving accuracy and greens in regulations numbers are lousy in 2020. Unless those change drastically starting Thursday, he'll be hard pressed to make the cut. Odds of a win: 30-1.

Patrick Reed -- Not surprisingly, his best stats are all connected with his fabulous short game. Always one of the best putters, he'll only be in the hunt if he drives it better than he has in 2020. Could sneak up the leaderboard if he finds 70% of the fairways or more, but that's probably out of his reach this week. Odds of a win: 30-1.

Adam Scott -- Some folks are thinking the sweet swinging Australian could sneak up on people this week, but it's hard to think a guy who hasn't played a golf tournament in 5 months could suddenly "find it" at a major championship. He does have a win, back in February at the Genesis, but he's hit just 54% of the fairways this year. That stat alone should scare away anyone looking to wager on him. Odds of a win: 35-1.

Jordan Spieth -- Nothing about Spieth's 2020 campaign says he's closing in on a return to form, but it's fair to note his scoring has improved over the last month. Still, his stats are all so-so. Doesn't drive it straight and, not surprisingly, doesn't hit a lot of greens in regulation. And his putting -- once other-worldly -- is just "good" these days. It would be awesome to see him complete the career Grand Slam this week but it's highly unlikely. Odds to win: 45-1.

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fantasy golf lineup - pga championship

Because there hasn't been a PGA Tour stroke play event at TPC Harding Park in 17 years, there aren't really any "horses for courses" to consider at this week's PGA Championship.

Make sure Xander Schauffele is on your fantasy golf roster this week at the PGA.

Rory McIlroy won the Match Play Championship there five years ago and most of the quarterfinalists and semifinalists are still playing this week, but this isn't a tournament where there are years of history to look back on when putting together your fantasy golf lineup(s).

Most of the people who take fantasy golf seriously are using stats to put their team(s) together for the first major of the PGA Tour season. And that's the way we've done it as well, although we do lean a little more in the direction of recent form and who played well in July rather than who hits more fairways or greens in regulation.

Here are two teams we'll be playing this week, plus another twelve players you can fiddle around with and piece together into a team that gets in under the $50,000 salary cap. We'll be playing all 24 players you see below, in some way, hoping to get a handful of teams go 6-for-6 in making the 36-hole cut.

Team 1 - Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Henrik Stenson, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak.

This team costs $49,800.

Thomas is almost a must-play on any team you put together. We love Morikawa's chances this week as well. He's played the course a couple of hundred times, he says, going back to his college days. Stenson is a terrific long-iron player, which should be an important attribute at Harding Park this week. Glover and Kokrak are long enough off the tee to make some noise and are strong "back end" guys that are always necessary, especially when you go top heavy with three big (expensive) names like we did.

Team 2 - Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Harold Varner III, Nick Taylor, Denny McCarthy.

Koepka might have us all fooled, but he played great in 3 of 4 rounds in Memphis last week and looks like he has a legit shot at winning a 3rd straight PGA this week. We love Schauffele's chances. Big time. Webb Simpson was #3 on our Top 7 this week and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see him win. Varner III was #6 on his list and might be ready to atone for last year's final round meltdown at Bethpage. Taylor is a very talented Canadian player who won at Pebble Beach earlier this year. And McCarthy, the Bethesda, MD product, is the TOUR's leading putter in the 2019-2020 season.

This team costs exactly $50,000.

Others we'll be playing: Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Matt Wallace, Rickie Fowler, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Chez Reavie, Sungjae Im, Richy Werenski, Max Homa, Joel Dahmen.


a sports fan

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

be ready

What’s the most difficult role for an athlete to play?

I’ve been pondering this question lately as sports has returned to our viewing landscape (thank the Gods above - I’m pretty burned out on Guy’s Grocery Games and Simpsons reruns and Blue Planet, as much as I enjoy those diversions). Watching the return of basketball, hockey, golf and baseball, even in their empty arenas and stadiums, makes me feel like there’s some sense of normalcy to my summer routine. I need my fix.

So while my sons and I were watching the Mavericks and Rockets play, and set defensive basketball concepts back about 30 years in the process, we began discussing that question. Almost unanimously we agreed that the hardest role for an athlete in any sport is that of a backup (or a benchwarmer if you prefer).

Think about it: You put in all the same work, always at practice, always competing, yet not starting. At the highest level in any sport, surrounded by the best athletes in the world and considered one among them, you’re just not…quite…good enough to be considered a regular. Yet you must remain ready at all times for that call from the coach to get in the game and produce, usually at critical moments.

That’s a lot of pressure. It requires a deep reservoir of physical, mental and emotional strength to perform at the level of the starters. It takes a lot of patience and humility to handle that kind of role.

Whether it’s a bench player in basketball, a second or third string lineman in football, or the backup goalie in hockey, the mentality and the strain are the same. Always ready at a moment’s notice to get in the game, but sometimes never getting the opportunity. At the professional level it’s a tough way to make the team and keep a roster spot.

But for me, the most difficult backup role in all of sports has to be a pinch hitter in baseball. Those men are usually called upon in late inning situations of close games to deliver a crucial hit. Typically the pitcher they have to face is a reliever throwing mid-90’s fastballs who has been called upon because he’s fresh and he throws harder than anyone else on the team.

Is there anything more difficult in sports than hitting a baseball? You’re swinging a round bat at a round ball and the coaches tell you to hit it square. To say nothing of the velocity and movement that major league pitchers impart to the ball.

And for a lot of pinch hitters, they only get a few plate appearances a week, but they’re still expected to produce in the clutch like a cleanup hitter would. The pressure has to be immense.

Here in Baltimore, there has never been a longer tenured or more successful pinch hitter for the Orioles than Terry Crowley. Over the course of 12 seasons as an Oriole, Crowley hit .253 with 40 homeruns and 194 RBIs. For an everyday position player, those kinds of numbers can be compiled in 2 seasons ( hold all steroid and HGH jokes, please). But for a player like Crowley, who had an uncanny ability to stay ready to be called upon in the clutch, they’re a testament to his longevity as one of the premier pinch hitters of his generation.

His manager, Earl Weaver, certainly trusted in him and believed in him. If he was worthy of that respect from Earl, he earned it through his performance. Nobody ever played for Weaver if they couldn’t perform.

Consider that in an average major league season, a regular position player will accumulate somewhere around 550 at bats. The Crow, as Crowley is fondly nicknamed, never had more than 247 at bats in a season, coming in 1972. Perhaps hinting at what he might have been able to produce in a full-time role, Crowley had 10 doubles, 11 homeruns and 29 RBIs in that campaign. In 1980 he accumulated 233 at bats and rewarded Weaver’s faith in him with a .288 batting average, 12 homeruns and 50 RBIs.

But those years were outliers. Crowley usually averaged between 90 to 125 at bats a season. That averages out to playing once every 8 games or so. That’s a hard way to earn and keep a roster spot in the big leagues.

Terry Crowley was a damned good major league hitter.

Just as the Baltimore Orioles under Earl Weaver were loyal to Crow, he was loyal to the organization. He spent 16 seasons as the team’s hitting coach, from 1985 to 1988, and again from 1999 to 2010, serving under 11 different managers. Quick sidebar here - 11 managers? Is it any wonder the franchise has struggled for so long? He was also a roving minor league hitting instructor for the organization until 2018.

Several years ago I was at Sunday Mass at my local parish with my three sons (I know, I know, I can’t really believe it either). As we were exiting the church a familiar looking gentleman was in the lobby. He looked at me and extended his hand and said, “I’m Terry Crowley. I was sitting behind you and your sons and I wanted to tell you how much they reminded me of my own sons at that age.” Suddenly I was a starstruck 13 year old Orioles fan again. I gathered my composure and introduced my sons. Terry was gracious and sincere and talked with the boys at length about their studies and their sports. Of course, on the way home I subjected the boys to my stories and memories of all those great Orioles teams and seasons of my youth. They seemed to humor me. They know when their old man is reverting back to his childhood and they do a nice job of tolerating those moments.

That chance introduction has led to several meetings over the past few years. The Crowleys live in my area and from time to time I’ll see Terry and he always gives me some time to chat. He calls me Such, which makes me feel like we’ve been lifelong friends. We talk baseball, of course, but also about our families and our children’s lives. The last time I saw him my sons and I were shooting hoops at the local school playground. The Crow was walking his dog and it was approaching dusk. I skipped out on shooting and went over and talked with him. He gave me his thoughts and insights on some of the Orioles minor league prospects. Then he told my boys to keep working on their games.

After all, you never know when the coach will call your name. You better be ready.

Note from DF: It's my pleasure to announce that Mark Suchy is joining our #DMD writing staff and will contribute a weekly piece here every Wednesday. Mark knows as much about the history of Baltimore sports as anyone I know. Not only that, he's an outstanding writer. And I think you'll quickly grow to enjoy his unique look on the world of sports. He's a former athlete, he's coached high-level basketball, and he remains an ardent follower of the Orioles, Ravens and Terps. Welcome to #DMD, Mark! We're very excited to have you on board with us.

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August 4
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your questions, my answers

J.R. asks -- If you could take any one athlete from the four major sports and put him on your team, who would be your overall #1 selection?

DF: -- Great question. Holy cow. No one from hockey stands out, really. I'd throw a basketball wild card in there and say I think James Harden is the one guy I'd consider for this question. All that guy does is play great basketball and help his team(s) win. Everyone is going to point to Mahomes in football, naturally. And in baseball there's Trout, Bellinger, Yelich and Betts, I suppose. This is a tough question! I'll go chalk here and pick Mahomes, but I almost feel guilty doing it. But that kid is just so good.

Rob Maravich asks -- As I write this, the Orioles are 5-3. You picked them to go 21-39 in the regular season. After eight games, are you ready to amend your original prediction?

DF: -- No, not yet. One big reason I'll stick with 21-39 is because if they continue to play well and get to 13-7 at the 1/3 mark of the thing*, they'll probably trade away Cobb, Nunez, Ruiz, Alberto or anyone else halfway responsible for their success. But I would say, at this point, they'd have to really fall apart to not win at least 22 games. They have 5 wins already. They have to be able to win 17 more between now and the end of September, right?

Could you stop a penalty kick from Messi?

Cabbie Mike asks: -- Settle a bet between friends please. Rank these things in terms of their difficulty for an amateur athlete to do: kick a 40-yard field goal, hit a golf ball straight 275 yards, hit a baseball thrown at you 90 mph or stop a penalty kick by Messi.

DF: -- This gets our "question of the day" award! I'll be back in 15 minutes with my answer. OK, I'm back (15 minutes later). All four of them are incredibly difficult. Each one could be #1, honestly. I mean, people have no idea how hard it is to kick a football 40 yards. Remember, it has to get up in the air and stay up there for a few seconds. Hitting a golf ball straight 275 yards is nearly impossible for a non-golfer to do and 30% impossible for golfers to do. 275 yards is a long way. If you've never seen a baseball thrown at 90 mph, you won't understand how difficult it is just to make contact, let alone hit the thing. But if you time it right, you can at least make contact. Stopping a penalty kick by Messi is nearly impossible for the best goalkeepers in the world, let alone an amateur just standing in the goal. Wow. OK, here goes. For just your "average Joe", I'll say stopping the penalty kick by Messi is #1. He could take 20 and you'd never get a finger on one of them. #2 is hitting the baseball. #3 is the football field goal. #4 is the golf shot over 275 yards. I've seen 20 handicap golfers with no idea at all how to play hit one 100 yards off the tee and then on the next hole, hit one 275 yards. It's rare, but it happens.

Kevin asks: -- What's the one sporting event you've seen in person that you believe everyone should see at least once?

DF: -- Finally, a lay-up! This is the no-brainer of all no-brainers. I went with my dad to see a NASCAR race in Dover circa 1980 or so and I was blown away by the whole thing. If you've never been to a live NASCAR race, you are missing one of the greatest "spectacles" you'll ever see. It's beyond description how fast those cars are traveling and how close they are to one another. Dare I say it? Auto racing drivers are among the best athletes you'll find anywhere.

Marc Serio asks -- Hoping you can help with a coaching question. My 14 year old played in his first junior tournament at our club on Saturday. He shot 41 on the front and was leading by 4 or 5 shots and then imploded on the last five holes. He shot 53 on the back nine and wound up finishing third. Needless to say he was really crushed after and didn't say a word on the car ride home and was really quiet yesterday. I was wondering if you have any fatherly/coaching advice I could pass along to him after that collapse?

DF: -- Good question. And an important one. Here's what I tell all of my tournament players. If you start a golf tournament, finish it, and post a score -- no matter what it is -- you have already "won". Tell your son this: Never a failure...always a lesson. If he played, finished and posted it, that was not a failure. But I'm sure he learned a lesson or two along the way. Ask him what he learned. Ask him how he felt when he started to struggle on the back nine. Did his breathing change? Did his pace of play quicken? Was he fully focused on the next shot or was he still fretting over the most recent shot he played? Just tell him to remember this: Never a failure...always a lesson."

Tom asks: -- You mentioned a few weeks ago that your most surprising concert experience ever was Duran Duran. What has been your worst?

DF: -- Well, I didn't get to see The Beatles live, so that rules them out. I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers live once and they were dreadfully awful. I like some of their studio stuff -- not a lot of it, but enough to appreciate them -- but in concert, they were really bad. They were just overly loud, Anthony Kiedis couldn't hit a note, and they were "off". Maybe it was a bad night, but they were lousy. Note: I just texted a friend who saw The Beatles and he said they were terrible. As I figured.

Craig Pelhke asks: -- Other than Tiger winning the PGA and getting his 16th career major win and 83rd victory, what would be the biggest "winning story" this week at the PGA?

DF: -- Good one. There are three really strong options for this question. In no order, Fowler winning his first major, Spieth completing the career grand slam, and Mickelson winning a major at age 50. I mean, one of the PGA club professionals in the field winning would be one of the biggest stories in the history of golf, but that's not going to happen. Of those three, though, Spieth winning and completing the career "slam" would be the biggest story. And, honestly, it would be the most surprising, too.

James asks: -- Is there any Oriole you wouldn't trade?

DF: -- I'm pretty sure the answer is "no", but I'm not even 100% sure I know all the players. In fact, I know for sure a couple of guys played against the Rays and I had NO IDEA they were on the Orioles roster. I'm not as trade-hungry as Elias is, but I don't think there's anyone on the team I'd be afraid to trade. I do like the make-up of their roster though, and wouldn't be shipping off guys like Alberto and Nunez for a bag of peanuts or anything.

B.P. asks: Give us an underrated NFL team for 2020 and an overrated NFL team for 2020.

DF: -- Overrated, for sure: Pittsburgh. They're just about ready to be flipped over and seasoned. In terms of underrated: I'll go with Buffalo. The road is paved for them to win the AFC East now that New England is finally going to stink.

Frank asks: -- I know you're a uniform and logo freak. What's the best logo/uniform combo in each of the 4 major sports?

DF: -- The Milwaukee Brewers logo that's a baseball glove AND a "M" and "B" is unbeatable. Their colors are good, too. In hockey, I've always liked the Carolina Hurricanes uniforms and logo. It's simple. Their logo is a hurricane-whirling-thing and a hurricane warning flag flapping in the wind. In football, nothing beats the horseshoe and the blue and white of the...Colts. I don't really know all the logos in the NBA but I would say Boston's is pretty good.

Corey asks: -- Name the five best golfers of your lifetime and put them in order of how they would finish in a horse race.

DF: -- This will be fun. Nicklaus isn't really "in my lifetime" so I won't include him. I mean, I was 16 or so when he was at his peak. He'd be #2 if I counted him, but I won't. For purposes of this exercise, "my lifetime" is any player whose peak was from roughly 1985 and beyond. #1 is Tiger and he wins by 10 lengths. Here are the rest and how far behind Tiger they finished. 2. Mickelson (10 lengths), 3. Ballesteros (15), 4. Singh (17), 5. Norman (20).

new comments protocol

As I noted in the Comments section this past Saturday and posted again here yesterday, there is a new policy at #DMD.

Anyone publishing a comment must use a name or initials of some sort or their comment will be removed.

You may use your first name or your last name. You may use both your first and last names. You may also use your initials. You may identify yourself from whatever part of town you reside if you so choose.

But the days of "Anonymous" or "Some Guy" or "Casual Observer" are over here, I'm sorry to say. For that you can blame the funny guys (or gals, maybe) who insisted on putting offensive names in their comment(s) on Friday and Saturday.

So from here on out, use a name or initials when you post or your comment won't stay up. Easy peasy.

If you don't want to do that or simply can't go along with it, we'll miss you.

We are grandfathering one "nickname" in because he's been here since day one using "UnitastoBerry". So he can continue to use that moniker. Otherwise, all others are to use names and/or initials.

You can be mad about this if you want and that's fine, but it's the way it's going to be moving forward. Please don't litter the comments section below with your objections or snarky thoughts. If you're hot and bothered about this change in protocol and want to lash out at me, here's my email:

As Brian Billick used to say..."have at it". I'll happily reply if you craft a reasonable note and send it off to me.

I guess this is also a good time to remind everyone that your comments will be edited and/or deleted if you insist on writing derogatory things about the owner of the radio station where I worked for 12 years. I will not allow those posts to remain up.

Just come in, tell us who you are, offer something fairly sensible about the topic(s) of the day, and -- as the Ravens remind you prior to every home game -- do your best to not be a jerk. If you can manage to do that, I'll be thrilled.

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pga championship - top 7

Six down and one to go.

We're at #2 on our list of #DMD's projected Top 7 at this week's PGA Championship. Tomorrow we'll provide two 6-man fantasy lineups for you, plus another handful of players to consider playing in your teams this week.

Our PGA projections have been as follows thus far: #7 was Jim Furyk, #6 was Harold Varner III, #5 was Collin Morikawa, #4 was Rickie Fowler and #3 was Justin Thomas.

Could Webb Simpson add the PGA Championship to his already stellar career?

We've been relying heavily on some key statistical data in preparing our fantasy lineups for this week's PGA Championship. Four categories are vitally important at the 7,400 yard TPC at Harding Park. Strokes gained, approach to the green. Strokes gained, putting. Strokes gained, around the green, and Proximity to the hole, 200+ yards. Those four categories represent the complete player at this week's course. How close you can hit it, how many strokes it takes you to get the ball in the hole, how quickly you can get it in the hole if you miss the green, and where you hit it if you're 200+ yards away from the green.

Our #2, Webb Simpson, is in the top 50 on TOUR in all four categories.

If he can control his occasionally balker driver this week, he has a great chance to win. And with several of the par-4 holes at Harding Park playing under 400 yards, that's where he'll be able to feast. The longer holes figure to be treacherous for all players, but Simpson is not one of the longer hitters on TOUR, so that's where his short game and putting will have to separate him.

As he showed when he won the U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 2012, Simpson can grind it out on the tough courses with the best of them. If the weather holds form and the rough doesn't get cut, 12 under par could be the winning score, which is a perfect four day setting for Simpson.

We love, love, love his chances this week in the PGA.

In fact, there's only one guy in the field we think will beat him. And we'll tell you his name tomorrow.


euro soccer recap 8/4

FA Cup Final --

With the major European leagues concluding their seasons, the English FA Cup Final took center stage this weekend. The final featured Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea against Arsenal in a showdown of London clubs.

Chelsea took an early lead via a Christian Pulisic goal in the 5th minute. Pulisic received the ball on the turn in the center of midfield and fed a perfectly weighted pass into the box for Mason Mount. Mount cut the ball across the box and found Olivier Giroud who touched it on to Pulisic continuing his run into the box. Pulisic was able to quickly gather the ball, evade a defender and then chip the goalie to open the scoring.

The lead did not last long, as Arsenal equalized in the 28th minute. Arsenal left back Kieran Tierney lofted a long ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who sped past Cesar Azpilicueta and was pulled down in the box for a penalty. Aubameyang calmly converted the penalty to even the score.

Pulisic produced two more solid chances for Chelsea, forcing a good save from the Arsenal keeper in the first half and then racing past the defense for a shot early in the second half. Just before shooting, Pulisic pulled up with a hamstring injury and placed the shot wide. He was forced to leave the game with the injury. Hopefully the injury is not too serious and he will be able to return for the start of the new season in September.

Without Pulisic, Chelsea struggled to generate attack and Arsenal grabbed the game. In the 67th minute right back Hector Bellerin burst through the midfield to set up Aubameyang in the box. Aubameyang was able to juke the Chelsea defense and chip the ball over the keeper to put Arsenal up 2-1. Shortly after the goal, Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic picked up his second yellow card and was ejected from the game. Playing a man down and without their top attacker, Chelsea could not mount a comeback and Arsenal was able to hold on for a 2-1 win to take the Cup.

USMNT Roster Overview - Fullbacks --

This week we take a look at the full back position for the USMNT. This position poses one of the biggest lineup questions for Coach Berhalter due to the wealth of options at right back and the relative dearth at left back. Among this group there is only one sure starter. Beyond that, Berhalter will have to decide whether to favor getting the best talent on the field or the best fits for his system.

The sure starter at fullback is 19 year old Sergino Dest. The Ajax right back is the best option for the US at both right back and left back, where he has occasionally played for Ajax. Dest had a meteoric rise this season, from the Ajax youth team to regular starter for the perennial Dutch champions. He has been linked with a move to some of the biggest teams in the world this offseason with Bayern Munich and Barcelona both showing interest. The best spot for Dest is right back, where he can provide a dynamic attacking option both up the flank and drifting into the midfield.

However, Dest may end up at left back since the second best full back option is right back Reggie Cannon and the left back pool is the weakest position on the team. The biggest issue with starting Dest at left back is that he is right footed and likes to cut inside into some of the same spaces that Christian Pulisic occupies.

If Dest starts on the left then Cannon will likely be the starter at right back. Cannon has been a standout for FC Dallas in MLS and has shined in his appearances for the USMNT. He has been rumored with a move to several different Bundesliga teams for next season. One possibility to get both Dest and Cannon on the right side would be a 3-4-3 formation with Cannon at right center back and Dest at right wing back, but this is not a formation we’ve seen from Berhalter before.

If Berhalter decides to keep Dest at right back and opts for a left footed left back there are several options. The top current option is Antonee Robinson, who just completed a very successful season in the English second division. He has interest from several Premier League teams and is likely to move before next season. Robinson brings pace and crossing ability that would give the US a similar attacking option down the left flank that Dest and Cannon provide on the right. The additional benefit of Robinson is that he can overlap down the flank into the area Pulisic vacates when cutting inside. This keeps the defense honest, forcing them to account for Robinson’s crossing ability as Pulisic cuts in to create chances.

If Berhalter wants a more defensive minded left footed left back he may look to Tim Ream. Discussed in the center back overview, Ream has played left back at times for the US, but he does not have great pace to match up with speedy wingers and does not provide much in attack.

The next two options are Colorado Rapids 21 year old Sam Vines and Minnesota United 24 year old Chase Gasper. Both are left footed options that are solid defensively but don’t offer much in attack. FC Dallas left back, Ryan Hollingshead, has been a consistent performer in MLS, but has never received attention from Berhalter.

On the right side, there is a depth of quality options behind Dest and Cannon. Deandre Yedlin had a down year for Newcastle United but is still talented enough to deserve a spot on the US roster as a backup option. Timmy Chandler has been out of the US picture for some time but delivered some impressive performances for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. Several others have been solid MLS performers and could find a spot on the roster if others aren’t available: Kyle Duncan (NY Red Bull), Hasani Dotson (Minnesota United), Nick Lima (SJ Earthquakes), and Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy).

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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August 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

one week in...

Lots of things stand out after a week (OK, technically 11 days) of the 2020 baseball thing*.

And here they are...

Calling it a thing* instead of a season (thank you, Mark Viviano) is more than spot-on. Not only is the thing* 60-games instead of 162, but MLB has already said if a team doesn't play all 60 games, their winning percentage will be used to determine their final resting spot in the standings.

There's no telling how many games each of the 30 MLB teams will actually wind up playing, but it would take a miracle of sorts for every club to play the entire 60-game thing*. And you just know, sadly, that another MLB team will come down with the team-wide coronavirus this week or next. It's as inevitable as a Chris Davis 3-strikeout game sometime in the next 7 days.

I'll just keep reiterating what I've been saying for the better part of two months now. I hope they get the entire thing* in, but I just don't see how it's going to happen. I'd love, love, love to be wrong.

In case you didn't know, the Phillies and Marlins have both played just 3 games thus far. Several teams have played 10 games. Miami has yet to play a home game, while the Phillies haven't played on the road.

The Marlins (2-1) should just stop playing now, finish .667, and move right into the post-season in October.

Cleveland's Shane Bieber will make his third start of the season tomorrow night in Cincinnati.

Clayton Kershaw made his first start of the thing* yesterday and it was a good one, as he went 5.2 innings and allowed just 3 hits in a 3-0 Dodgers win over Arizona. There was a time when Kershaw was undeniably the best pitcher in baseball. But the future Hall-of-Famer no longer owns that title. It belongs to Cleveland's Shane Bieber, who is off to a 2-0 start with the Indians and has recorded 27 strikeouts and a 0.57 ERA in those two outings. He was 15-8 a year ago with the Indians and had 259 K's in '19. The 25-year old is the real deal, sports fans.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati's Sonny Gray has an impressive under-the-radar-screen streak going. He has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or less. Yes, Sonny Gray. I couldn't believe it either.

The extra-innings idea is actually pretty cool and I'm not just saying that because the Orioles won a game in that fashion on Saturday night.

Look, no one really likes extra-inning baseball in the first place. Sure, it's kind of like overtime in football and there's a certain amount of intrigue when a game goes past regulation, but baseball is already slow and tedious enough without making us sit there for another 30, 60 or sometimes 90 minutes.

So, just putting a guy on second base and forcing both teams to figure out a way to get a run or runs across is a good way to handle extra innings. If professional baseball players and managers were willing to use the bunt more, there'd almost never be a 10th or 11th inning where runs weren't scored.

Bunt or no bunt, the new extra-inning format is one MLB should consider keeping for 2021 and beyond.

Baseball being a thing* in 2020 instead of a real, legitimate season, maybe these 7 inning doubleheaders aren't such a big deal after all. It will drive stat nerds nuts, of course. What if a guy throws a 7-inning perfect game in the opener or the nightcap of a doubleheader? Still considered a "perfect game" or no?

But if you think 7-inning doubleheaders are goofy (and they are), here's a thought: While MLB is already busy changing the way the game is played in the middle of the thing*, why not use something akin to the Elam Ending for the second game of the doubleheader? Play 9 innings for the opening game and thereby make it a "real" baseball game...then use the Elam in the nightcap and say the first team to score 5 runs wins (with the home team getting a final at-bat, of course), unless the game reaches 6 full innings. Once the game enters the 7th inning, you then use the "extra innings" formula.

Trust me, the Elam Ending will be the new hot thing in basketball (and maybe even hockey) over the next year or two. Baseball should consider using it, even if only temporarily, in an effort to get teams to try and score runs in the nightcap of doubleheaders.

The teams everyone assumed would be good are off to solid starts. The Yankees are 7-1 after rallying to beat Boston last night. Minnesota (7-2), Atlanta (7-3) and the Dodgers (7-3) are rolling along as expected. The surprise team thus far is probably in Chicago, but it's not the team some folks thought would be moving up the leaderboard this year. It's the Cubs (7-2) who are off to a great start, while the White Sox are only 5-4, albeit winners of four straight.

The Astros were wrong for cheating in 2017. There's no doubt about that. But these pitchers still throwing baseballs at Houston players is clown shoes stuff. Enough already. Joe Kelly of the Dodgers was suspended for 8 games last week and he didn't actually hit anyone, but there was no doubt at all he was trying to "send a message" to the 2017 champions.

Oddly enough, Kelly wasn't even with the Dodgers in '17 when they lost 4-games-to-3 to Houston in the World Series. He was, though, part of the Red Sox staff who lost to the Astros in the ALCS.

Other than getting lit up on opening night in Boston back on July 24, the Orioles bullpen has been really good in 2020. On Sunday in the 5-1 win over Tampa Bay, Castro, Phillips and Sulser (quick quiz: without Google, what are their respective first names?) retired the final 12 Tampa Bay hitters in succession to make a winner out of Tommy Milone. The team might not have a legitimate, dependable closer, but when you're only slated to win 20-25 games, who cares about a closer?

The Birds' starting pitching has been pretty decent, too, other than Milone's opening night 3-inning dud and Wojo and John Means stinking it up vs. the Yankees last week in Baltimore. Alex Cobb and Wade LeBlanc have both been very sharp in their two starts. There's no telling if they'll each finish the 2020 thing* in a Baltimore uniform, but they're certainly creating valuable trade interest if nothing else. Cody Carroll's shocking 162.00 ERA notwithstanding, the O's have pitched fairly well through 8 games.

Speaking of the "Baltimore" Orioles, what's the deal with the away uniforms in 2020? They didn't wear them once during the Boston series, if I recall correctly.

Is the team not going to use the familiar road gray jerseys with the Baltimore script across the front in 2020? I thought I heard Scott Garceau mention something on one of the broadcasts recently that the pitcher making the start gets to choose the team's uniform combination for that day/night? Is that true or did I dream that? That would be cool to do for a weekend or something. But it's not cool to do for the whole season, especially if the gray "Baltimore" away jerseys aren't going to be put into rotation.

Aaron Judge homered in his 5th straight game last night, becoming the first Yankee to do so in 13 years. I can't even believe I'm going to say this, but is it possible that Judge isn't getting the attention and media coverage we'd expect the game's top slugger to receive?

His second homer last night traveled 468 feet, a mammoth shot that had the ESPN broadcasting crew in need of an underwear change. I mean, that thing was absolutely clobbered at Yankee Stadium.

I assumed after his 2017 Home Run Derby eruption that we'd be "Aaron Judge'd out" by 2020. But we're not. Or, at least, I'm not. Now maybe it's because baseball isn't very good at marketing their elite performers (see: Trout, Michael), but it sure seems to me like we don't hear or know all that much about Judge and he's not crammed down our throats the way you'd expect a superstar who plays for the Yankees would be.

I don't know. I just feel Judge doesn't get his due. As I wrote above, I can't believe I'm even writing that.

Note: Those Orioles relief pitchers we mentioned above? Their first names are Miguel Castro, Evan Phillips and Cole Sulser. Don't feel bad, no one else knew them all, either.

new comments protocol

As I noted in the Comments section this past Saturday and posted again here yesterday, there is a new policy at #DMD.

Anyone publishing a comment must use a name or initials of some sort or their comment will be removed.

You may use your first name or your last name. You may use both your first and last names. You may also use your initials. You may identify yourself from whatever part of town you reside if you so choose.

But the days of "Anonymous" or "Some Guy" or "Casual Observer" are over here, I'm sorry to say. For that you can blame the funny guys (or gals, maybe) who insisted on putting offensive names in their comment(s) on Friday and Saturday.

So from here on out, use a name or initials when you post or your comment won't stay up. Easy peasy.

If you don't want to do that or simply can't go along with it, we'll miss you.

We are grandfathering one "nickname" in because he's been here since day one using "UnitastoBerry". So he can continue to use that moniker. Otherwise, all others are to use names and/or initials.

You can be mad about this if you want and that's fine, but it's the way it's going to be moving forward. Please don't litter the comments section below with your objections or snarky thoughts. If you're hot and bothered about this change in protocol and want to lash out at me, here's my email:

As Brian Billick used to say..."have at it". I'll happily reply if you craft a reasonable note and send it off to me.

I guess this is also a good time to remind everyone that your comments will be edited and/or deleted if you insist on writing derogatory things about the owner of the radio station where I worked for 12 years. I will not allow those posts to remain up.

Just come in, tell us who you are, offer something fairly sensible about the topic(s) of the day, and -- as the Ravens remind you prior to every home game -- do your best to not be a jerk. If you can manage to do that, I'll be thrilled.

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pga championship - top 7

We're now down to our predicted top 3 in this week's PGA Championship and the names are starting to look more and more familiar.

While the leaders fizzled on Sunday, Justin Thomas raced to the top of the leaderboard with a final round 65 to win $1.8 million in Memphis.

Rickie Fowler was at #4 yesterday, and although his final round 73 (what's new?) at TPC Southwind was a downer, it was exactly the kind of ho-hum performance Fowler needs heading into this week's first major of the year.

Jim Furyk was #7 and he just won yesterday on the Champions Tour, where he was making his debut as a 50-plus professional.

Harold Varner III was at #6, still looking for his first win, but ready to tackle TPC at Harding Park this week. We like his chances.

TOUR hotshot Collin Morikawa was at #5.

And here we are at #3...

It's really hard to win back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour, but we loved Justin Thomas before his win yesterday in Memphis and we're not changing our tune now. Thomas most certainly can win this week's PGA Championship.

He's 13 wins into his career now and the time has come for Thomas to prove that #1 world ranking isn't just a statistical feat. He really might be the best golfer in the world today. A few weeks back when Jon Rahm ascended to the top of the world ranking, I said, "He might be ranked #1 but I'm not so sure he's the best player in the world, yet." Thomas is the opposite. He might be the best player in the world who also happens now to have the #1 ranking to go with it.

Other than the back-to-back wins thing, which is hard to do, there's no reason at all why he can't claim his second PGA and second major this week in San Francisco.

Oh, and here's one other reason to love Thomas this week at Harding Park. Phil Mickelson's elite, former caddie, "Bones" MacKay, was on J.T.'s bag in Memphis and will stay on it this week at the PGA Championship. "He's worth at least one shot a round," Thomas declared after Saturday's third round in Memphis. Four shots in a golf tournament is the difference between T20 and 1st place. Bones is definitely a major asset -- no pun intended.


"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

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

consider this…

The NBA and its “bubble,” the NHL and its dual Canadian tournament sites, MLB and the question of whether the shortened season continues. These are interesting stories, in many ways some of the most fascinating ones in the long history of these historic American sports leagues. There must be a million tidbits in there, and they go way past the story of how a guy added velocity since March or what the Utah Jazz do to fill up their time on Tuesdays.

You know what’s not an interesting story? People standing up for the national anthem, or not standing up for the national anthem, or locking arms with teammates, or what LeBron James wears during warmups, and how that might be different than what Kawhi Leonard is wearing, or whether teammates can really get along if they decide to do different things. I could go on…

We’ve come to a certain point now. Maybe it’s just enough time passing. Or maybe there’s too much else about which to worry. Whatever it is, it’s time to move on. These seasons have (re)started. Things that go on off the field, off the court and off the ice are back to meaning what they used to mean, or at least they should.

Somebody stood up, though most didn’t. Some referenced the Gospels, and others referenced Black Lives Matter. Players wore whatever they wore on their jerseys. To sum it all up, everybody exercised their right to make a statement, or not make a statement. Or whatever.

Great. Let’s move on. I say that to everyone, including “the media” who get blamed for everything, as if asking a question about a player’s motives is grounds for a lashing. Even they should know better, though. The story is over.

Like on the playground, the sides have been chosen. Some say that you must not vilify a man for not doing what everyone else is doing, while others say that you ought to be vilified if your statement is clearly the wrong one. Some choose to do the exact opposite thing as another person even though they give the same reason behind it.

That’s what this is, or has become. Unlike the games themselves, this story doesn’t change from night to night. There really isn’t much new ground to cover. We get it, and we know what it’s about by now. And we’re tired of it.

Whether the season is 60 games or not, Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde has an interesting job. To put it frankly, his bosses do everything they can to make his job as difficult as possible, and he can’t do anything about that.

The Orioles play in the Majors, last time I checked, yet have no current interest in becoming a better Major League team. In fact, any proven Major League player is high on the list of those about to be sent away.

It all leads to paradoxes such as reliever Richard Bleier, who was traded to Miami for the proverbial player to be named. Bleier, noted Hyde, “was our only arm in the bullpen who could reliably throw strikes.”

But, you know, we’re happy to lose him and everything. We wish him well and hope he stays away from the virus down there.

Let’s assume this season goes on as planned. It’ll be interesting if the Orioles keep winning enough to be in playoff contention, which you’ll remember this year means more than half (8 of 15) of the teams in each league.

The team will get to 10-6, let’s say. Well, it’s time to trade Mychal Givens, right? What about when the record gets to 15-11. Exciting times. Well, it could be for Alex Cobb, who will likely get traded after a good start.

It goes without saying that this year’s Major League Baseball season is different. But that really masks a real difference that has nothing to do with COVID.

Everything is a transaction now, isn’t it? There is a small group of star players, the Mike Trouts of the world, who operate on a distinct level. Otherwise, players are pawns in a game where the present day, no matter how successful, cannot get in the way of the future. Ever.

The Orioles will play the Marlins four times this week. Miami will feature minor leaguers and some pretty rusty veterans. By Friday, Hyde’s team could easily be 9-3, having won seven games in a row. That would already be 20 percent of the season gone. Maybe his team will finally have some luck, any luck at all, against a Yankees team to whom they’ve now lost 18 times in a row.

But none of that matters to the bottom line. Right now, what’s happening on the field isn’t as important as what’s happening in Mike Elias’s office.

Oh by the way…the Ravens are in training camp, just like they’d always be this time of year. Something does feel a little different, I guess. Can’t put my finger on it…

Anyway, the biggest news from preseason camp, if you ask me, came from the NFL offices on Park Avenue. Thankfully, and properly, the league and the players’ association came to an agreement to officially cancel all preseason games.

Not surprisingly, the team spun the news in the best way possible. “The Ravens’ preseason winning streak will remain intact until at least next year.” Touché, fellas.

For a minute, I’m going to imagine that training camp just started as normal, and fans have made their way out to Owings Mills already, and the NFL Network is visiting every camp for some non-distanced interviews, and the Orioles are 35-65 with two months left in the season. Put yourself in that place too. I’m sure many of you have already.

Are you there yet? Good. Here’s all you need to know. This Ravens team is special.

When the Ravens demolished the Houston Texans last November at M&T Bank Stadium to move to 8-2 on the season, they unofficially cemented themselves as the league’s best team. In the following six weeks, they did nothing to allow anyone to surpass them. In the offseason, the general consensus is that they got better, even with the retirement of Marshal Yanda.

The Ravens have won the Super Bowl twice and made the playoffs 12 times since the turn of the century. They became known for being a defensive-oriented unit fighting against the rising tide of the modern game. Then, they took a chance at developing an offense that might change the game, thanks to a game-changing player.

What does it all mean? Now, for the first time ever in August, the consensus is that the Ravens are probably the league’s best team, even though a team they haven’t beaten recently just won the Super Bowl.

The Ravens, for whatever reason, didn’t handle the prohibitive favorite role very well in January. It’s not an easy place to be, especially when your franchise is so used to playing the opposite role. That has to change one day, and I believe it will.

In the meantime, I’ll bring you back to the real world. We have no idea if any of this will matter in 2020 or not.

I Am Catholic
August 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

standing for the anthem is now a headline

It was definitely a headline worth giggling over. That is, if you could avoid throwing something at your computer screen.

As seen on ESPN's website last night:

Miami Heat's Meyers Leonard chooses to stand during national anthem

Hilarious, right?

Orlando's Jonathan Isaac stood during the national anthem on Friday night and was labeled a "protester" by Yahoo! Sports.

ESPN made a headline out of an NBA player choosing to stand during the Star Spangled Banner.

They also noted that Leonard wasn't the only NBA'er to have the audacity to stand during the anthem. Orlando's Jonathan Isaac stood on Friday night.

In case you care or it matters -- which, to me, it doesn't -- Leonard is white and Isaac is African American.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and his assistant, Becky Hammon also stood during the anthem on Friday night.

Those two had some nerve, huh?

Leonard had to go to great lengths to explain himself after the game. Imagine that. A citizen of the U.S. having to answer questions about why he stood for the national anthem.

"I think I can be a beacon of light ... not only for my voice or platform and action, but in everything I'm doing," Leonard told Marc J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated after the game. "I certainly support Black Lives Matter. ... I am very aware of what is going on. But I can be both. My patriotism runs deep."

Leonard, who has a brother who served two tours in Afghanistan, continued to explain himself when pressured about the potential for criticism as a result of his decision to stand.

"I was aware of some of the backlash that could happen. I understand. However, I believe in my heart that I did the right thing," Leonard said. "I understand that [kneeling during the anthem] is not about the flag and the military, but to me, it is. Based upon real-life experiences and real raw emotion that I've had in my life, that is what that means to me."

Isaac talked about his faith when peppered with questions after Friday's game where he stood for the anthem.

"I believe that for myself, my life has been supported by gospel, Jesus Christ, and everyone is made in the image of God and that we all forge through God's glory. I believe that Black Lives Matter. A lot went into my decision, and part of it is, I thought that kneeling or wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt doesn't go hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives," Isaac said.

"So I felt like I wanted to take a stand on, we all make mistakes, but I think that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that there's grace for us," Isaac continued, "and that Jesus came and died for our sins and that if we all come to an understanding of that and that God wants to have a relationship with us, that we can get kept all of the things in our world that our messed up, jacked up."

Naturally, with a significant portion of the American population afraid of Christianity these days, Isaac was roasted in the media.

Yahoo! Sports crafted this nifty headline:

Jonathan Isaac's protest could have been applauded if his explanation wasn't nonsense

Yes, they really wrote that and published it.

His protest? The man stood up for the national anthem. How on earth is that a "protest"?

And his explanation was...nonsense? You mean the one where he interjected God, Jesus and the gospel? That explanation?

Nonsense, eh?

Little by little, right before our eyes, the cracks in our country are widening. And here's the deal. More than the people, it's the media responsible for the cracks. They're the ones who continually fan the flames and write/broadcast idiotic stuff.

Two men stood for the national anthem. They weren't "protesting" anything. They weren't "against" anything. They were merely standing up for the national anthem, the way anyone should in our country.

And for that, they were singled out and their efforts publicized as if they were somehow in the wrong.

The whole thing is just incredibly sad.

new comments protocol

As I noted in the Comments section late yesterday afternoon, there is a new policy here effective today, August 2nd, 2020.

Anyone publishing a comment must use a name or initials of some sort or their comment will be removed.

You may use your first name or your last name. You may use both your first and last names. You may also use your initials. You may identify yourself from whatever part of town you reside if you so choose.

But the days of "Anonymous" or "Some Guy" or "Casual Observer" are over here, I'm sorry to say. For that you can blame the funny guys (or gals, maybe) who insisted on putting offensive names in their comment(s) on Friday and Saturday.

So from here on out, use a name or initials when you post or your comment won't stay up. Easy peasy.

If you don't want to do that or simply can't go along with it, we'll miss you.

We are grandfathering one "nickname" in because he's been here since day one using "UnitastoBerry". So he can continue to use that moniker. Otherwise, all others are to use names and/or initials.

You can be mad about this if you want and that's fine, but it's the way it's going to be moving forward. Please don't litter the comments section below with your objections or snarky thoughts. If you're hot and bothered about this change in protocol and want to lash out at me, here's my email:

As Brian Billick used to say..."have at it". I'll happily reply if you craft a reasonable note and send it off to me.

I guess this is also a good time to remind everyone that your comments will be edited and/or deleted if you insist on writing derogatory things about the owner of the radio station where I worked for 12 years. I will not allow those posts to remain up.

Just come in, tell us who you are, offer something fairly sensible about the topic(s) of the day, and -- as the Ravens remind you prior to every home game -- do your best to not be a jerk. If you can manage to do that, I'll be thrilled.

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pga championship - top 7

Our look at next week's PGA Championship at Harding Park has thus far yielded three pretty unlikely candidates; 50-year old Jim Furyk, who is playing his first-ever Champions Tour event this week, at #7.

Harold Varner III, who is still looking for his first PGA Tour win, at #6.

Collin Morikawa already has two PGA Tours in a little more than one full year as a professional.

And the oft-maligned Rickie Fowler at #5, he of the five career wins and no major titles.

Following form, we're taking another major-less player at #4, although this guy certainly has the game to get the job done at one of golf's four major championships. If any of the TOUR's young guns are going to compete next week, and we suspect they might, look for Collin Morikawa to be the one who rises to the first page of the leaderboard by Sunday.

Like Fowler, Morikawa is playing a semi-home-game next week, as he grew up in Los Angeles.

His stats and data from 2020 make him a credible choice, despite only playing in his second season on TOUR. He lost in a playoff in Fort Worth last month and then won the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village a few weeks ago.

This kid can do it all. He's long off the tee, his iron play is impeccable, and his putter is more cooperative than most. He's going to win major titles on the PGA Tour. It's not "if" but "when".

And we're thinking next week at Harding Park might be "when" for the 23-year old.

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August 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

it's the same old ocean city...

In another lifetime, perhaps, I'd live in Ocean City.

And I'm not even all that fond of the beach and the water.

But I do love the ocean air and the breeze and the sun and the hustle and bustle of a 3-month "season" followed by the downtime that lets you catch your breath.

I've always loved Ocean City, even with all of its bits and pieces that expose her flaws.

My family just returned from a week "down the ocean" and I'm equally thrilled to be home and sorry to have departed. It's almost always a conflict like that.

Ocean City, Maryland.

I ran into old friends this time around, which, it seems, becomes more and more a highlight of the 130 mile trip. It's one thing to talk to Mark Suchy over a coffee at our Tuesday morning men's faith group in Baltimore. It's another thing entirely to be sitting on a deck 70 yards from the ocean and sharing a burger and Gatorade with him as we catch up on sports, current events and life in general.

Give me the deck and the beach view every time. For some weird reason, the breeze enhances the conversation.

I got to tee it up with friends on successive days while we were down there. A lifelong friend, Bill White, was in town for a few weeks before returning home to Myrtle Beach. Steve Crum, whose son, Evan, played for me at Calvert Hall, set up a round of golf at Glen Riddle on Tuesday and our foursome toured the War Admiral course. I hadn't played it before, so I was excited to see a new layout in Ocean City. The verdict? Good golf course. Design wise, the front nine was OK, but the back nine was outstanding, with a variety of different holes and looks off the tee. It was a little worn out in some areas, but the friendship and fun was far more important than the condition of the course. And the cold beer afterwards was, well, very cold.

On Wednesday, one of my good Baltimore friends, Jesse Roberts, offered an invitation for me and my son to join him and his Calvert Hall-bound son at Lighthouse House. I hadn't played that golf course in 20 years, probably. I didn't remember just how great it is. Much like War Admiral, I thought the front nine was OK, but the back nine, in terms of playability, difficulty and shot value, was borderline spectacular. The front nine views were remarkable, but for playing golf, the back nine was as good as any you can play anywhere.

And playing golf with your the beach...on vacation...well, it also doesn't get any better.

The trip started off in grand fashion last Saturday when we barely made it on to I-95 before my 10-year old daughter said, "Dad, can you put in Bruce Springsteen's Western Stars CD?" Sometimes, as a parent, you wonder if you're raising them right. Hearing that request made me realize we're doing OK with her.

We made a one-day trip to Chincoteague to relive some of my wife's childhood memories at Tom's Cove campground and to spend the afternoon on the beach there. Chincoteague is Ocean City at 25 MPH. It's slow and slow and, well, slower. But it's a nice getaway for a day and the spirit of the people who run the stores and shops in Chincoteague takes you back to the 1970's. You know, back when folks were actually pleasant to one another.

Because it's just something you do, I guess, we ventured down to the Boardwalk yesterday before departing for home. There were flashing streets signs everywhere imploring visitors to wear a mask on the Boardwalk. Every store had a "Wear a Mask" sign situated at its entrance. It couldn't have been more clear to people on the Boardwalk -- Wear a Mask.

At one point, my family and some friends from back home shared a stroll through a candy store, I got bored and decided to count the next 100 people to walk past me and see how many were wearing masks. The number? 37.

Some of the 63 who weren't wearing their mask had one on, fixed around their neck, but not in use. Others, though, had nothing resembling a mask on their body, anywhere. One guy had a tee shirt that read, "Real men don't wear masks". I wondered why someone would wear a shirt in public that so clearly identifies them as goofy, then I remembered that people wear Beatles tee shirts all the time.

The Boardwalk, for the most part, is still the same Boardwalk that it was in the 70's, 80's, 90's and so on. You see all slices of life on the Ocean City Boardwalk. And I do mean all.

We shall return, as the saying goes.

My family loves Ocean City and, as I wrote in the opening sentence above, in a different life, I'd own a family-run coffee shop in Ocean City or even Dewey Beach and try to make ends meet while raising my children to appreciate the breeze and the sunshine and the "work hard/play hard" lifestyle that typically accompanies a resort town existence.

For now, though, we're back home. And happy to be here.

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pga championship - top 7

You might have noticed something with our first two players in the PGA Championship Top 7. Both were sorta-kinda longshots. 50-year old Jim Furyk was #7 on the list and #6 was Harold Varner III, who not only doesn't have a major win, he has yet to win at all on the PGA Tour.

We won't be listing any longshots in the top 5, I can assure you of that.

Could Rickie Fowler finally break through and win a major next week in San Francisco?

It's a home game of sorts for Rickie Fowler, who grew up between Los Angeles and San Diego, some 500 miles from Harding Park in San Francisco. If ever a player fit the mold of winning his first major at the PGA, it's Fowler, who is #5 on our list.

Let's get all of the reasons why he won't win out of the way first.

1. He's never won a major.

2. Prior to this week's event in Memphis (which he still could win, mind you), he was playing lousy.

3. Fowler isn't known as a "closer", which doesn't bode well for a guy in major championships. Why has Tiger won 15 of them? Because he's a closer. Why hasn't Fowler won one yet? Because he's not a closer.

But then there's this.

If you go back in history and look at players who were once situated in the Top 10 of the world rankings for any significant length of time, nearly all of them won a major title, particularly the American players. Worldwide, you'll have guys like Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Hideki Matsuyama and Luke Donald who will stand out as Top 10 guys who never won a major. Americans with the same "accomplishment", if you will, include the likes of Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker.

The guess here is that Fowler is going to win one, and perhaps only one, and the PGA Championship seems like the one he'll win, although he's actually fared well in all four majors at some point in his career.

Next week could be the week he sneaks up on everyone, particularly if he continues to play well in Memphis and finishes up in the Top 5 there. My history with golf is that players typically "find it" for three weeks. Fowler might just be in the beginning stages of his "finding it" period.

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Thursday, August 13

WP: T. Eshelman (1-0)

LP: J. Arrieta (1-2)

HR: Ruiz (5), Severino (4), Realmuto 2 (6, 7)

RECORD / PLACE: 10-7 (2nd)

breakfast bytes

Birds bats continue to sizzle as O's sweep Phillies, 11-4.

Betts clobbers three home runs in Dodgers' romp over San Diego.

Backstrom (concussion) questionable for Caps-Islanders Game 2 tonight.

PGA Tour: Varner III (-8) shares first-round lead in Greensboro, still looking for first TOUR victory.