September 22
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issue 22
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duquette apparently stays

The architect of this remarkable 2018 Orioles team has evidently done enough to warrant a contract extension.

Dan Duquette is staying put.

That's what veteran baseball reporter Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the Birds recorded their franchise worst 109th loss of the season, 10-8, to the Yankees.

Nightengale reports the Orioles plan on keeping Duquette but bidding manager Buck Showalter farewell at season's end. Those sorts of departures are tricky when the person in question doesn't have a contract for the following season anyway. The Orioles won't actually fire Buck, since he technically doesn't have a gig for next season at this point. But they won't be continuing his employment either, which, to most people with a brain, means you've been fired.

So maybe the O's can do a "Celebrate Buck and Adam Day" next weekend when the Astros come to down for the final four games of the regular season. Or perhaps, in traditional Orioles fashion, they'll let those four games go by without saying a word about either of those two men.

If Nightengale's report is accurate -- and his track record is pretty solid -- there will, of course, be a prevailing thought that Duquette won the tug-of-war with Showalter. Reports surfaced throughtout the last few years that the two didn't exactly get along, and it was thought for a while that Buck might someday move upstairs to the front office and Duquette would shuffle off to his next stop.

Instead, it's Duquette who is staying and Buck who is leaving.

It's not a surprise that Showalter won't be back in 2019. While he's left an indelible mark on the Orioles during his tenure in Charm City, the argument against hiring him in the first place is part of what's leading to his departure. Folks close to baseball hinted way back in 2010 that Buck's the kind of guy who endears himself to you at the outset, then wears you out after four or five years.

More than that, though, it's simply hard to bring back a manager who in part helped author a 110-plus loss season. I'm not sure how you explain that one to your ticket buyers.

But what the Orioles are going to have to explain to their fans is this: The guy who orchestrated the 2018 team is returning in 2019, with a new contract no less. The man who wanted to jump ship and go to Toronto in the winter of 2014-2015 is not only still here, but getting a new deal once the dust settles on this horrible 2018 campaign.

The deadline deals at the end of July apparently sealed it for Duquette. The organization trusted him enough to put those trades together, so it makes sense, from their standpoint, to give him the reins for another few years.

Personally, I'd rather have Showalter than Duquette, but I can see where Buck grates on people after a while. And there's still discontent in the air within the Orioles locker room over "BrittonGate" from the 2016 wild card playoff game in Toronto.

But if you asked me to pick one to stay and one to go, I'd keep Buck and bid Duquette farewell.

Most of us thought all along Showalter and Duquette would be gone at season's end. How do you keep two guys around who engineered a campaign in which you won't win at least 50 games in a 162 game season?

Somehow, the Orioles are doing it.

Well, one of them is staying, at least. And as a result, I'm sure you're thinking right now about how many 13-game mini-plan packages you're going to buy for next season.

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woods in good form, others not so much

Golf is a weird game, so it's probably not a good idea to overreact when you look at the bottom of the leaderboard at the TOUR Championshp and see three American Ryder Cup players at the very bottom.

T27 - Patrick Reed (+6)

T27 - Bryson DeChambeau (+6)

30 - Brooks Koepka (+7)

Oh, and Bubba Watson (T21, +2) and Phil Mickelson (T25, +5) aren't exactly lighting it up, either.

Five of the U.S.A.'s twelve Ryder Cup players are over par at East Lake GC in Atlanta. This time next week, they'll be facing off against Europe in the bi-annual event in Paris, France. In other words, there's not a lot of time left to get things straightened out.

Tiger's 18th hole birdie on Friday gave him a 7-under par total for two days, tying him with Justin Rose at the top of the leaderboard.

The good news?

Tiger Woods appears ready to take on the world. Woods is tied for the lead with Justin Rose at 7-under par, the first time he's led or co-led an event after 36 holes since 2015.

Woods actually had a two shot lead late in the round on Friday before a double bogey at the 16th hole dumped him from 8 under to 6 under. Until that fiasco, Tiger was hitting on all cylinders -- again -- and looking a lot like the Tiger Woods of old.

Justin Thomas (-4) and Rickie Fowler (-3) are hanging around the leaderboard as well. Those two will be playing next weekend in France as well.

For what it's worth, good golf from week-to-week is not automatic even for PGA Tour players. The game comes and goes faster than David Lee Roth's last reunion with Van Halen. One week you have it, the next week you don't. Heck, there are occasions when you "find it" for nine holes and then immediately lose it for the next nine holes.

But at the highest level, there's no disputing you'd rather be playing well going into a major event than not playing well. DeChambeau, for example, has to be sick about frittering away the $10 million first-place check for the FedEx Cup playoffs, but he needs to get himself in gear and be ready for next weekend in France.

Mickelson has two career goals remaining on the table. Win a U.S. Open. And win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. While it won't be a career-crusher if he goes to Paris next week and lays an egg, he most certainly doesn't want to go there and stink it up as a captain's pick. You've let everyone down at that point, including the guy who went out on a limb and selected you.

Koepka's last place standing at the halfway point isn't very surprising. He doesn't actually like golf all that much. Or that's at least what he's said on numerous occasions over the last few years. When he's playing well, he stays engaged. When he isn't, he slides off the map.

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#dmd comments

Ron Mexico     September 23
Tiger’s Wood = Great for National & International TV ratings

Tiger’s Wood = DEPLORABLE Human Being

Here’s to hoping he runs into a similar iceberg on Sunday like the one that sunk the Titanic. POS.

George     September 22
American college basketball is suspect, and every few years a point-shaving ring is exposed. Tennis is fraught with fixing and improper retirements. In international soccer, referees depend on bribes to make ends meet, and seek out the teams facing relegation because they pay the best.

I don't think a 30-man field could be manipulated to guarantee a winner in PGA golf. The way golf could be manipulated , if you were so inclined, is to seek out one of the players offered as a betting match-up against another single player, within a tournament, and make him an offer that would insure he didn't win the match-up. Nobody looks at or cares whether a golfer in 47th position on Sunday shoots 65 or 75, unless you have money on or against him.

Blue Tee Golfer     September 22
No wise cracks from Herman today about "The Messiah". Wonder why?

Peanut gallery     September 22
If you can fix the NFL, you can fix golf, right? Much easier in games with individuals, ask any Mob guy

Idiot Caller     September 22
Tiger is BACK! Probably going to win this tournament and go into the Ryder Cup on a roll! Look out European Team!

Better golf through chemistry!

Brien Jackson     September 22

Given the rest of the schedule I'd absolutely say it's a "must win" game, at least in the sense that if they don't win then they'll need to win a "not supposed to win" game later on to make the playoffs. And given the state of the O-line right now I'm not sure I'd take the Vegas line on the Ravens this week.

HERMAN     September 22
The prevailing mood seems to be that the Ravens can "handle their business" this weekend and beat Denver. We have fared much better at home than on the road. But if the past form of recents seasons holds, and we struggle, or even lose to Denver, a cold wind is going to blow into town come Monday morning. With Pittsburgh looming in an absolutely season critical game the next week, doesn't that make Denver a must-win?

I don't want to spend the season just enjoying Pittsburgh's problems, schadenfreude only gets you so far. Let's hope we return to our best form, take care of business at home, and go into Pittsburgh with some confidence that the Cincy game was an aberration.

And @George, it disgusts Fowler fans no end that he can't stay focused and grind it out and go from 5 under, to 9 under and seize control. His modus operandi is to sink from 5 under to 2 under and fall back out of contention. He is good enough to be on the leaderboard in the top 30, bad enough he just can't get over some imaginary hump to win consistently.

Brien Jackson     September 22
From my perspective the only thing that really matters about the Duquette question is something that's basically unknowable to us: How handcuffed he really was by Angelos. If he wasn't allowed a normal level of control for a GM, didn't want to sign the Davis contract, etc. then given his overall resume I see no reason at all to think you can find a better GM than him.

You could make a similar sort of case for Buck, but personally I don't think he's the guy to rebuild the team after the 2012-16 run. It's really pretty rare for any manager to do that. And like I said yesterday: At some point he's got to be held accountable for failing with Arrieta, Gausman, Bundy, Tillman, etc.

Tom J     September 22 the PGA Tour can "orchestrate" Tiger winning to boost ratings???? Oh please tell us how they do that?

Fireball Roberts     September 22
The Orioles organization is like North Korea. The only difference........we know who is in charge in the DPRK.

DELRAY RICK     September 22
GEORGE,,,,You got to be brain dead. You must listen to the "suck ups "for "the chosen one". Hope he loses.

Tom     September 22
@PGA, Tiger isn't winning. Did you read the story?

unitastoberry     September 22
In typical Angelos family fashion number one they let the fans find out via the press and number two they make the wrong move. I don't like Duquete either and I would have gone with a brand new front office . It's like the K-Mart merger with Sears. The only news that possibly could reverse this is that Joe Giardi would be coming here as manager. Otherwise they might as well lay off staff in advanced ticket sales.

Chris in Bel Air     September 22
I'm a Buck fan and will be sorry to see him go but I understand. The team had a total collapse beginning in Sept 2017 and that carried over to this year's record breaking number of team losses. Change needs to occur.

PGA     September 22
Woods is winning? Seems kind of "orchestrated" to me, ala the NFL. I'm sure Ryder Cup ratings go up if Tigers goes in on a high note....

George     September 21
Listening to the Golf Channel announcers give excuses for Rickie Fowler's bad round, and hearing them sympathize with him, makes my skin crawl.

mike from catonsville     September 21
Interesting article in prep section today about CHC playing Condordia, a MIAA C school. On paper it's a mismatch but Concordia is the best team in the C. BUT and and very big BUT why , after all of the hoopla, would CHC schedule them. According to the paper the Concordia coach asked to play them because Friends did not field a team and they had an opening as did CHC from the SFA cancellation.

IMHO that was a huge PR mistake by CHC. You shouldn't be playing "C"teams when you claimed "safety".

Fireball Roberts     September 21
I remember the Colts linebacker Vernon Maxwell chasing John Elway all over the field that game. I think Vernon was trying to collect on the bounty.

unitastoberry     September 21
I was a Jr Oriole in 1966. The best season in teams history. They were so good that spring and summer we would go to even more games than on the Jr plan. I was present for the "Here" game a double header on Mothers Day in which Frank put the ball fair into the parking lot. No replay or film exists of that.

In football my most memorable game was the last home game of Unitas career. He came off the bench cold for an injured ? Mary Domres and throws a td to Eddie Hinton who put on a heck of a YAC into the end zone. Then exits the game to the longest and loudest roar I have ever heard in public to this day. I swear you could have heard that crowd all the way to Towson.

Jason M     September 21
Good for Cleveland and Hue Jackson. Baker Mayfield looked the part at QB, and they got an immediate life when he came in. They were looking very Browns before that.

David Rosenfeld     September 21
The NFL schedule was weird back then, so the Colts actually played the Broncos twice in 1983. Both had finished in last place the year before.

Elway and DeBerg split time early in the year in Baltimore, but Elway was the starter by the time the second game happened in Denver. Colts led 19-0 but the Broncos scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Also, in present news, as cliche as this sounds, the Browns really could be 3-0!

Such     September 20
I’m showing my advancing middle age. I thought that game was 1982, not ‘83, but I respectfully defer to David here. Although it was hot in that upper deck that day! Regardless of what the official record says! That was the same year that Elway and the Broncos visited Memorial. I was there for that game too. I’ll always remember the Elway sucks chants. But I think the Colts lost that game (not surprising).

It’s so great reading these other comments about Memorial Stadium. What a special place and time that was. I’ve always felt so fortunate to have grown up as a Baltimore sports fan. We’ve been really blessed here.

Donald Kroner     September 20
Tough place to land.

The Old Gal     September 20
Loved Memorial. We were Junior Orioles and my Mom would cook up 25 hotdogs, big bags of popcorn or peanuts and a giant thermos with 3 gallons of lemonade. First row of the left field bleachers....and a fantastic team...and about 10k fans.

That same thermos was used in my teens for BEER that we poured into it and brought in. Always had a slight aftertaste of pink lemonade.

The stage for some of my greatest memories.

HERMAN     September 20
Love when people reminisce about Memorial Stadium, it was a real throwback to a completely different era, even in those later years.

Had a friend who worked at a chicken place on Joppa Road, he'd call and tell me to meet him at the game, I'd get a cooler and fill it with 7 oz pony beers, he'd raid the workplace and fill a cooler with chicken. We'd go to some mid-week game, spread out in the upper deck with not another fan within fifty feet, drink 7 oz buds and eat fried chicken and watch some darn great Orioles teams, all for about $ 5.50 a ticket.

One night a guy came up, sat about thirty feet from us with a tape recorder. He said his name was Brent and he'd just started working games as a broadcaster, and wanted to practice. We gave him a beer, sat and listened to him record play-by-play the entire game. It was Brent Musberger who went on to a fantastic broadcasting career, but what did we know, he was just another idiot at a mid-week Summer game sitting in the bleachers, doing his thing.

Back then twelve thousand was a big attendance. You could find space in Memorial Stadium made you feel you were the only one there.

Today they wouldn't let you within 100 yards of the stadium with coolers full of beer and food, and they certainly wouldn't let you sneak 7 oz bottles in, stuffed into a round cooler with a spout.

The End     September 20
I went to every Colt game that last year. They were bad, but improving, lots of young talent and a "Lombardi type coach". Had a blast, was right out of college, on my own, making money and bought individual tickets to every game. Put a deposit down for the '84 season in SUPER nice seats[well what we considered nice as a 22 year old]. We got our deposit back in July of the following year. I think it was about $120....and that is what I pay for each seat NOW.

I'll never forget Curtis Dickey standing on the field and waving goodbye to the fans at that last game. I had HOPE that they would be back next year. Misplaced. That team had an excellent kicking game. Stark was a beast.

I liked Mike Pagel and hated Mark Herrmann.

Sad day when they left....but my first thought was "how am I going to get back that deposit?".

Idiot Caller     September 20
@Such: My buddies and I were at that 1983 Colts-Bears game too! (19 years old). With our own Igloo cooler of beer! Good Times! Although, I think there were actually 35,000 there that day. ;-)

That is the game where Mike Ditka punched a locker afterward and broke his hand!

I too miss good old Memorial Stadium! It wasn't much, but it was ours!

Thrifty Footballers     September 20
Rare that young guys with plenty of dough hold on to it.

3 come to mind who about it was said "they still have the first nickel they ever made".

Doug Williams. My buddy lived 2 doors down from him in Reston, Va when he was with the Skins. Drove an old "beater" car, rented a townhouse...fairly cheap, sparsely appointed and wore regular clothes. He used to tell the young guys in the eighty's "live now like you are making 35k/year and after you turn 35, you will be able to live like WHAT you are making now for the rest of your life". He made a lot less than his net worth now.

Barry Sanders. Another cheap skate who bought a small rancher in suburban Detroit. He might still own it. He lived in a house worth about 150k during his entire career. After taxes he probably made 15 million...and is worth twice that.

John Ogden was a notorious cheap skate. Has multiple homes and has most of his football money. Rumor has it, that he is so conservative with his money, he just gets passbook interest.

Those guys are rare...and Marlon is right. 80k can slip through your hands pretty quickly. Look at Micheal Irvin, he works on every show on NFL network as he supports over 100 of his family members.

David Rosenfeld     September 20
@Such, I was at that game (10 years old) too, in 1983. That was Allegre's rookie year.

For some reason, Payton ran only 3 times for 4 yards. I assume he was either hurt during the game or beforehand.

Memory is funny. The official game book says that it was 68 degrees...sunny and pleasant. Actually quite cool for a September game in Balmer!

marlon     September 20
UtoB A decent strip club with moderately fresh product will run through your 80 g's in a week.

such     September 20
David's mention of Raul Allegre took me back to one of my favorite Baltimore Colts memories. It was a hot September afternoon in 1982 and my best friend and I ventured from his house in Homeland over to 33rd St. and bought the cheapest upper deck seats available (and there were lots of them available at that time - the Colts were coming off the 0-8-1 season, or was it 0-9-1? Whatever, they stunk).

The opponent that day was the Chicago Bears, led by the great Walter Payton and coached by Mike Ditka, who was in his first year in charge. Neither team was very good to put it kindly. I can't remember exact details of the game, but I do recall it was rather poorly played and pretty low scoring.

The game went into overtime and the Colts were in field goal range. We were sitting in the closed end of the upper deck right in the middle of the horseshoe, about 5 rows or so from the brick wall at the top of the seats. Raul Allegre kicked the game winning field goal straight through the middle of the uprights, unleashing shouts of "RAAAAHHHH-OOOOOOOLLLLLL" in Bawlmerese throughout the 25,000 or so of us gathered to watch this historic moment. The image I'll never forget followed the kick: a group of 20 something year olds were seated several rows below us and had been drinking lots of beer that day. These were the days when fans could still bring their own coolers into NFL games (seems impossible doesn't it?). These guys had one of those really big coolers that you would normally use for a week long camping trip, and it was full of beer, and when RAAAAAA-OOOOOOOLLLL made that field goal someone accidentally kicked that cooler over, unleashing a tidal wave of what had to have been warm suds all over the rows below them. Needless to say a brawl ensued. Good times.

We still laugh about the "Brew Tsunami" to this day. And we still yell "RAAAAAHHHHH_OOOOOOOLLLLL" every time we bring it up.

I miss Memorial Stadium. What a place.

unitastoberry     September 20
So the NFL pension is 80000 a year for life after 3 years on a team? So your 22 and make a team and 25 you get cut and no one wants you so your done. You got the minimum league salary which is 480000 in 2018 times 3 and thats 1440000 minus taxes for a nest egg and on top of that 80000 a year for life? If your not an idiot, live below your means, make safe investments, take a coaching job, become a phys ed teacher your set for life. Stop whining NFL players.

Chris in Bel Air     September 20
Drew, in your poll yesterday for "the best thing about the Orioles 2018 season", you forgot the true top choice - it will all end soon. All sarcasm aside, it is really hard to put a positive spin on the 2018 O's. I guess you could consider Mullins a bright spot but to me he is just the latest minor league call up that had a decent start. Long way to go before we consider him a reliable every day player. Villar? He seems like a decent player but after giving up one of the best 2B in the game, you would hope they received something of value in return. Any comparison of this team to the Astros of several years ago is mistaken. The talent isn't there yet. I think the O's are a long way from ever sniffing the top of the standings. I hope I'm wrong but I am not seeing it.

DELRAY RICK     September 20
BEEN a ORIOLES fan since 1954 and ist year ever I hardly watch anymore' Looked at yesterdays box score and "who are these guys?" Wait til next spring when we get a roster and see whats happening .

Tom J     September 20
Agree 100 percent Drew!!! When I watched the HOF ceremony this year for Ray (and that's the only reason I watched), I couldn't have cared less about the other guys sitting up there. I don't watch the HOF inductions any other year anyway. These guys have lost their collective minds. Maybe it's the CTE after all.

Upside     September 19
Buck has a new idea that will speed up games. Just like the new intentional walk where all you have to do is signal for it, Chris Davis walks to the plate and immediately walks back to the dugout, as Buck signals to the umpire "I'll take the strikeout here". That will save about 58 seconds at this time, as Davis doesn't even look interested at all.

Guys like the LF make the implication that the O's WILL move. It just fits with the narrative with all things negative. This is a good baseball market. Just need to get better players. And since so many said that the 5 years of success were not really success[because they didn't win it all] this year of success by the Yanks, Stro's,A's, Sox, Indians.....with that thinking, ONLY one of those teams will have a successful season, the rest? Just like THIS years Orioles....LOSERS.

And it never ceases to amaze that the attendance problems that have been here since a team moved less than 40 miles away are always minimized. Even a conservative estimate that 25% of O's fans came from the DC Area[probably higher], there can be LITTLE/NO doubt that Angelos got the best deal possible[TV deal] do anything less would have been Ownership Malpractice. He gave up fannies in the seats. And fan support to THEIR market....not only translates into less attendance, but the intrinsic value of those that follow along, and could be motivated to go to a few games, buy crap and watch/listen on various platforms. Things would be quite different if the Nats never existed. It set off a bunch of explosions all over the warehouse...and make no mistake, the O's management guessed wrong or implemented all of the wrong ways to fix it.....until they didn't and got better players.

Got to be straight all down the line. Only one team will have a successful year.

What is going on in Pittsburgh? I've known for years that Tomlin catches MORE crap than Harbaugh does here in that town. A "dear friend" who lives in Pittsburgh said that Harbs is considered a vastly superior coach to Tomlin, who gets "outcoached, weekly" and is lucky to have Ben, Antonio and Bell. Can you imagine things said are worse in Pittsburgh than here?

They don't look very good. The Refs made some calls that put them back in the game against the Chiefs, but they still got rolled.

Joe of Bel Air     September 19
The Orioles are now 60 games out of first place. The only other team in the last 70 years who was that far out of first place was the 62 Mets who lost 120 games. This season is not only bad but historically so

unitastoberry     September 19
So it was Trumbo who got the pie in the face halted? That dirty rat. Seriously, I don't know how Buck is keeping it together mentally or physically this year. He must not be a drinking man ot he would have pulled a Hal McRae by now.

Brien Jackson     September 19

If the Nats get more MASN money then the Orioles franchise does too. The big impact there is that the Angelos family likely sells their interest to Fox or Comcast.

And I get why people worry about the O's moving, but it's not happening. MLB is not approving a move out of Baltimore to a market that's likely to be weaker for baseball when they're looking at expansion and already have 10-12 teams in weaker markets than Baltimore. The real concern should be that they end up like the Marlins: With new owners who paid an inflated price for the team and have to gut baseball operations to pay off their loans.

HERMAN     September 19
While Baltimore bemoans a tough loss from last week and looks toward a rebound, just out to the West they are one loss at Tampa from a Chernobyl meltdown. With Bell sitting out, and their best wide receiver going all Diva, the coach is perilously close to losing the team.

You think Baltimore fans are uneasy over this start, log onto some PPG online and read about Yinzer discontent.

It's a wonderful thing.

If we can meet them at 0-2-1 and take them down, we could be down to just Cincy to overcome.

And that's really a wonderful thing.

Bob from Hereford     September 19
Readers, please excues my tipos.

Bob from Hereford     September 19
Reading Ken Rosenthal's article on the Athletic, leads me to believe that their are bigger issues for Oriole fans to worry about than who will be the manager next year. With the the pending hearing on the MASN deal with the Nats in November, the current lease with Camden Yards coming to an end and the Orioles not talking to the Stadium Authority about extending it, the question about who will own the Orioles when Peter passes, and the erosion of attendance numbers, I am conermed. Will they have the resources to rebuild with major league players who are stars that will capture the fans interest? Will the new owner be an Angelos, or will it be sold to someone who might move the Team?

I can't see The MASN deal going the Orioles' way. Will the loss of the income handcuff the team?

Until these issues are resolved it is hard for me to feel good about the future who ever the manager and general manger are.

Davey     September 19
Gotta admit, I'm a little surprised @David. Thought he understood sports.

David Rosenfeld     September 19
There's something called the "4th Down Bot," which is based on many years of data analysis. The bot recommends that, on 4th and 2, a team should go for it anywhere beyond their own 28-yard line.

Don't flame Brien about this. Read about it. It's right here in the failing @NYTimes.

marlon     September 19
Agree with Brien. What good is a punt that pins the opponent at his 4 yard line when all he needs to do is drive 96 yds. for a touchdown. From what comments forum did Seatle get their coach??????

The wiz     September 18
@Brien is a flaming idiot, that's no theory, it's a fact

Brien Jackson     September 18
More fun with bad punting: After punting on 4th and 2 from Chicago's 44 yard line on their first drive, the Seahawks didn't get back into Chicago territory until the end of the first half. But at least they got good field position....that 96 yard touchdown drive by Chicago was highly entertaining!

Jake     September 18
Not hearing much from @Brien today after he's been proved wrong by George.

Chris in Bel Air     September 18
I'm not sold on the Ravens as contenders yet. I want to see them win a couple road games first. That start against Cincy was not the performance of a contender.

HERMAN     September 18
I don't buy the Ravens as contenders just yet. Going down 21-0 last week and losing a game that could prove costly when week 14 rolls around and we have to run the table to make the playoffs with no room for error.

In two games so far they look like the same team from the last 3 years. Worrisome to me, yet I don't read anything about it, is that in short yardage situations they don't ground and pound like a team that knows they can get two yards anytime they really need it, they resort to the short pass all too often. Playoff teams ram it home from the 3 without getting all cute with dink passes.

As for all this talk about game theory and dice probability I'm still not sure I believe it's 1 in 20 rolls to get a 12. Odds are the 12 will come up once every 36 rolls on average. Over time. Unless you are getting 2-1 odds it should also randomly come in the last 1/3 of the 36 rolls as easily as the first and second third. So at even money you should lose betting the 12 coming up 1/3 of the time, over time. Anything can happen in a single set of 36 rolls. But over time it's a 1 in 36 or 35-1 proposition. 1 in 36, not 1 in 20.

September 21
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issue 21
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hooray for cleveland

This historically bad season of Orioles baseball has done something I previously thought was impossible.

It has -- wait for it -- made me feel good for Cleveland.

Actually, I'm not really anti-Cleveland, truth be known. I have a lot of great memories of Cleveland from my days in the soccer business. The Blast and Force had a fierce rivalry in the 1980's, followed by the Spirit and Crunch in the '90's.

I always looked at Cleveland a bit like I saw Pittsburgh. There's more of Baltimore in those two cities than we care to admit here in our neck of the woods.

But I've always followed along with the crowd when it came to not liking Cleveland in the years after the Ravens moved here. Understandably, the folks out there said some pretty nasty things about us when we stole the Browns. So it was just always easy to make Cleveland jokes and snicker at their bad football team when the occasion was appropriate.

Full disclosure though: I never really disliked Cleveland all that much.

Who needs Josh Gordon, especially when you're playing the Jets?

So, last night when the clock hit 00:00 and the Browns won a football game, I actually smiled. I felt good for players. I felt really good for Hue Jackson, who was always professional and nice to me when he was in Baltimore and I was on the radio covering the Ravens.

Most of all, though, I felt good for the fans.

For going on three years now, they've been paying major league prices and watching minor league football in Northeast Ohio.

You think it's bad to pay $120 to watch the Ravens while spending another $40 on parking and at least another $40 on food and drinks in the stadium? Try doing that when you know walking into the place that the home team is going to lose.

At least if you spend $200 this Sunday you have a pretty decent chance of seeing the Ravens beat the Broncos.

Those people showed up in Cleveland eight times a year and knew from jump street they were likely going to see a loss. The Browns won one game in 2016 and zero games in 2017. Try putting yourself through that kind of football season here in Baltimore. It's not for the faint of heart.

On a side note, I'm often confused when it comes to "feint of heart" and "faint of heart". Since faint of heart implies timidity, we're using "faint" today.

So having spent most of the last six months watching the Orioles play the worst baseball in franchise history, with little expectation that it's going to drastically improve in 2019 or 2020, I connected with those folks in Cleveland last night as the final whistle blew and the Baker-Mayfield-led 21-17 win was in the books.

They deserved to be ecstatic.

They deserved to be proud of the their team, the one that hadn't won a football game since December 24, 2016.

Heck, they even deserved free beer, which a lot of people got in Cleveland last night thanks to smart promotion by a local beer distributor.

I see a lot of Baltimore when I go to Cleveland.

Last night, I couldn't help but think that someday soon, we'll react to an Orioles win the same way those people reacted to their football team winning.

It might be a long, long time before the Orioles win a significant game again. When they do, we all have permission to go crazy like they did last night in Cleveland.

It's been a long time coming. They deserve it.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The Orioles have already set a franchise record for losses in a season, so it'd be understandable if you have checked out on the baseball season altogether.

If you haven't been paying attention, however, there's a lot of reasons to start paying attention again as the season winds to a close and we barrel towards the playoffs. Here are some general observations and passing thoughts as we play out the stretch an impatiently waiting for October.

-The National League Central is the most interesting division in baseball. The Cubs have the best record in the NL, and might end up as the senior circuit's only 90 win team, but as is popular to say, they sure don't feel like it. Meanwhile the Brewers have hung around all season after their off-season upgrades and the Cardinals are suddenly back in the mix after firing Mike Matheny, though they're too far back to have a realistic chance at winning the division. If you like old fashioned pennant races, that's what you want to watch.

-If that's not crazy enough, when you throw in the Dodgers and Rockies it's possible that the season will end with four teams all tied. In that case the Dodgers and Rockies would face off to determine the NL West championship, and BOTH wild card spots would be in flux. All before the actual postseason officially kicks off. Yes please.

Mike Trout of the Angels is having yet another outstanding season despite his team floundering around .500 for most of the campaign.

-The American League by contrast just needs Cleveland to finish the season 6-5 to have all 5 postseason teams boast 90 or more wins. That's impressive and yet so very boring by comparison.

-Speaking of the Indians, at 85-67 they're the AL's weakest division leader, worse than the two wild card teams, and even with the Rays. And yet boo other team in that divisions will finish above .500 and three of them have already lost 90 games. You know what's even more incredible? If the Indians can get everyone healthy they might be the strongest team in all of baseball in the postseason format. October is awesome!

-Want another reason why fans should want younger players to get paid more? If they were, you might actually get to watch Jacob deGrom pitch in the playoffs to cap off one of the greatest seasons a pitcher has had in recent history. The woeful Mets tried to shop him but, of course, contenders who needed starting pitching didn't want to give up prospects who are virtually certain to never be as good as deGrom. Why not? Because they'll be cheap for the majority of the next decade. That's an absolutely terrible reality for an industry that's supposed to be in the entertainment business.

-Mike Trout is so good at baseball it's going to be decades before we fully comprehend it. Watch him play as much as you can because you'll probably never see anyone else that good in your lifetime.

-How about one more reason that young players should get paid more? The Yankees are paying less than $12 million to Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, Didi Gregorious, Gary Sanchez, and Miguel Andujar *combined* this year. And Gregorious is making over $8 million of that figure.

-Speaking of the Yankees, my money is on them losing in the playoffs because Aaron Boone does something stupid, but good on Boone for turning a team that went to the ALCS last season and his working relationship with the media into a weirdly widespread view that he's done a good job of managing this season. Meanwhile with the Cardinals job gone, Joe Girardi's future is suddenly one of the more interesting off-season stories in a market loaded with stars.

-And finally if you haven't looked recently, Kevin Gausman is now 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 54.2 IP for the Braves. Weirdly enough his strikeout rate is down markedly and his walk rate is virtually identical to what it was in Baltimore. His hit rate is way down though, suggesting he was being hurt by the Orioles awful defense, and even more importantly he's cut his home run rate in half. And you can't just pin the turnaround on moving to the National League either. Using ERA+, which adjusts for park and league effects, Gausman was 4% worse than the average AL pitcher in Baltimore. In Atlanta he's 55% better than the average NL pitcher. That puts him on par with Colorado's Kyle Freeland, who's likely to finish 4th in Cy Young voting.

Gausman joins Jake Arrieta as a pitcher who went on to perform at a very high level after leaving Baltimore, as well as others who improved but didn't reach quite such a high standard. Maybe Dylan Bundy will be next. There's going to be a lot of arguments over Buck Showalter's future in Baltimore soon, but to me this should be the primary consideration in deciding whether or not he comes back.

Too many other staffs are fixing issues with these young pitcher's that Buck and his staff can't, and haven't been able to since he got here. That's been a huge drag on the team since 2012, really, and doesn't argue that Showalter's is the ideal candidate to lead a total rebuild going forward.

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watch and be amazed

Truth serum: I had never watched one episode of America's Got Talent until this season when I knew magician Shin Lim was scheduled to be on the show and I wanted to see how far along he could get.

I'm just not a TV show junkie anymore, so AGT wasn't on my radar until this season's edition.

But I love card tricks and magic, and Lim entered the season as America's #1 magician. He's even "defeated" Penn & Teller -- twice -- in a special show they do called "Fool Us!"

I assumed there was no way Lim would win the $1 million first place check for being the leading vote getter on AGT, but as the weeks wore on and he stayed alive -- and the tricks got better, which is almost impossible -- I started to think he might have a chance.

On Wednesday night, Lim won the one million dollars. Of all the singers, dancers, comics and anyone else who dared to appear on the show, it was a card-trick professional from Boston via Vancouver who got the most votes from the viewing audience.

Too bad we can't hire Lim to make 50 of the Orioles 108 losses disappear, huh?

The trick you'll see below was actually from Wednesday's final show, so it didn't factor in the voting at all. The votes were cast on Tuesday night and then all of the ten finalists returned for the announcement of the winner on Wednesday night.

I've watched the replay of this trick at least a dozen times and I can't for the life of me figure it out. That kid is truly performing "magic" right in front of us!


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September 20
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lol at eric dickerson

In case you haven't heard, a contingent of NFL Hall of Fame members are threatening to boycott the very place where they're annually recognized for their football achievements.

Led by Eric Dickerson, the former players are demanding they receive lifetime health insurance and a yearly salary in exchange for showing up at the August Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and allowing the NFL and the Hall of Fame to use their name and likeness in marketing opportunities and events.

Yep. They're threatening to boycott the festivities every August if their demands aren't met. Pretty professional, huh?

Dickerson said on Wednesday that $300,000 per-player "seems about right" in terms of a yearly salary for the Hall of Fame members.

Talk about living on another planet...

For starters, all NFL players with more than three years qualify for the NFL's pension plan, which currently provides close to $80,000 in annual benefits. If a player is fortunate to accrue ten years of service, he receives an additional bonus that's delivered as an annuity in addition to his pension amount.

Dickerson thinks Hall of Fame members deserve more money and better benefits or he and those who signed an official letter to the NFL earlier this week say they won't show up in Canton next August.

Let 'em stay home, I say.

Former NFL running back Eric Dickerson is spearheading an effort to get NFL Hall of Fame members both lifetime health insurance and a yearly salary in exchange for participating in Hall of Fame events each August.

Dickerson and the HOF'ers fall back, of course, on the easiest claim of all. "The NFL makes more than enough money these days. They should give it to the guys who helped make all of this possible."

The slippery slope that Dickerson fails to realize is the obvious one: Every player who steps on the field is part of "paving the way" for the success of future players. It's not just about Hall of Fame football players.

And while it's true that the Hall of Fame has prospered financially off of all of their inductees, the reality is this: 90% of the business the Hall does each year stems from new members being inducted. It might even be more like 95%.

In other words, if the induction ceremony was privately held in, say, June, and then the Hall of Fame had a "celebration weekend" in August where all the players showed up in their gold jackets and meandered around a bunch of banquet halls meeting and greeting football fans, no fans would bother going.

When's the last time you went to the internet to see how you could meet Joe Namath, John Elway or Michael Irvin?

But you'll consider going next year to see Ed Reed get inducted.

The Hall of Fame is only an attraction now, as in, when your team has a former player who is getting inducted.

If you're a Ravens fan, are you going to spend $1,500 to go see Ben Roethlisberger get inducted in 2025? Of course not.

No one cares all that much about Eric Dickerson, Carl Eller, Jerry Rice or any of those others who signed off on the letter this week. If you went to a Hall of Fame event back in August when Ray Lewis was inducted and Eric Dickerson wasn't there, would you care at all? No, you wouldn't.

There's something to be said for players having some sort of access to league-provided health insurance, but it certainly shouldn't be extended to them free of charge for the rest of their life.

Name a business that provides former employees with a lifetime health insurance package at no cost to them.

I'll wait...

The NFL has a lot of money. That is true. But the players also have to realize they're not the only ones who helped fill the coffers. There have been some extraordinarily talented marketing and sales people who have cut a number of mammoth media and promotional deals over the last 20 years that have helped get the owners to the point where they can afford a salary cap of $170 million a year.

Sure, the players are the show.

But they're just a piece of the puzzle.

And there's no way Hall of Fame players deserve a bigger slice of the money pie -- now -- just because at one point years ago they happened to be among the best to ever play the game.

Oh, here's the real message to pass along to Dickerson and those who signed the letter with him: If they do boycott the 2019 ceremony, the show will still go on and no one will care at all about their absence.

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it's dechambeau's $10 million to lose

The final event of the 2017-2018 PGA Tour season kicks off today in Atlanta, where 30 players battle for a $10 million FedEx Cup Playoffs check in addition to the $1.6 million first-place money.

One tournament...$11.6 million at stake. Sounds like a good four days of work to me.

Bryson DeChambeau is the points leader heading into this week's final PGA Tour event of the season at East Lake GC in Atlanta.

Bryson DeChambeau leads the point standings and has a variety of ways he can bring home the $10 million for winning the season long FedEx Cup. He's most certainly in the driver's seat. Everyone else looking to win the big money needs help. Some guys, like Patton Kizzire, who comes in at #30, need lots and lots of crazy things to happen in order to win the big prize.

Tiger Woods comes into the event looking for his first win of the season. Woods is currently 20th on the points list, so it would take a long list of things to happen for Tiger to capture the FedEx Cup and the $10 million, but it has happened before. Bill Haas was at #25 on the points list when he showed up at East Lake GC in Atlanta back in 2011, but his victory and a slew of others above him played poorly enough that Haas was able to win the $10 million prize with a victory in the Tour Championship.

I think Woods has a great chance to win the event this week but I don't see any way he climbs past 19 others to win the $10 million.

For kicks and giggles, I'd wager on DeChambeau to come out on top. He's won two of the three playoff events thus far and is in great form heading into this week's season finale.

After this week's tournament, the American team playing in the Ryder Cup hops on a plane and heads to Paris for next week's big clash against the European side. While there's no prize money at stake next week, the golf played in France will yield far more from a historical perspective than anything we'll see in Atlanta.

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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.

I don’t remember wanting to be anything when I grew up—firefighter, race car driver, astronaut, doctor, President. None of that.

Except for one thing. I wanted to be a placekicker.

Obsessions weren’t my thing, then or now, but I came close with kicking. Remember the black one-inch kicking block for extra points and field goals, outlawed in NCAA football in 1989? I had one of those. Of course, I had the two-inch orange kickoff tee that’s still ubiquitous today.

I practiced all the time, using the goalposts at the schoolyard or in my backyard, with a huge oak tree serving as the goalposts. On a visit to the last training camp of the Baltimore Colts, at Goucher College in 1983, I spent the whole time next to one of the side fields watching Raul Allegre, the kicker, and Rohn Stark, the punter.

There was only one problem — I just wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t have the strength. I never played soccer, where I might have developed my skills at—you know—kicking a ball. In retrospect, the idea that I might have been calm with 11 bigger guys rushing at me is sort of comical.

In the world of real kickers, a lot has changed since the days of Allegre. These guys aren’t just specialists; they’re special talents. They’re strong, incredibly accurate and possess technique groomed by years of instruction and repetition.

So much is expected of NFL kickers, in fact, that they can’t have more than a couple slip-ups or they’re gone.

The Ravens' Justin Tucker is currently the most accurate kicker in NFL history.

We’ve already lost two of them after the first two weeks of the year: the Vikings’ Daniel Carlson, who missed one field goal in regulation and two in overtime against the Packers, and the Browns’ Zane Gonzalez, who missed both an extra point and a field goal late in regulation against the Saints and had a potential overtime game-winner against Pittsburgh blocked.

It makes sense, I suppose. It’s a kicker-eat-kicker world out there. Still — and maybe it’s the old (wannabe) kicker in me — it’s painful how little respect these guys get.

Yes, it’s ok to be mad at the kicker. No, it’s not really ok to treat the kicker as if he’s incompetent when you’d never do the same for any other player on the team.

The Vikings’ head coach, Mike Zimmer, had the following exchange with a reporter earlier this week. In part due to Carlson’s misses last Sunday, Minnesota and Green Bay played to a 29-29 tie.

Q: What went into the decision to let Carlson go?

A: Did you see the game?

Q: Was it an easy decision?

A: Yep, it was pretty easy.

Fine, Zimmer got right to the point, I guess. Next question. On to Buffalo. Still, would a coach have talked about any other player in that way?

The opposing tight end runs free for the game-winning score. “We missed an assignment there. Gotta look at the film and clean that up.”

The stud rush end swim moves the left tackle and strips the quarterback; they can kneel on it after you were driving for the game-winning score. “Great play by him. That’s why he’s a Pro Bowler. You just hope that doesn’t happen in that situation.”

The so-so quarterback makes bad play after bad play, one misread after another. Sure, I get it — quarterbacks just don’t get released immediately. Still, I can hear the coach. “I like our quarterback room. Our guys are excited to play with whomever our starter is.”

When the kicker misses an uncertain number of times, in certain situations, it’s his fault and he’s on thin ice. In those other situations, that’s everyone’s fault. Or it’s nobody’s fault, just a play that somebody made or didn’t make.

Even in 2018, kickers get no respect. They get no benefit of the doubt. Rookie or inexperienced kickers get no time to get more comfortable in their roles. Some of that is the nature of their jobs, but some of it is the fact that nobody thinks their job is worthy of respect to begin with.

The Vikings traded two draft picks to move up to the fifth round to pick Carlson, from Auburn. Sure, fifth-round guys are no guarantees to make rosters, but I have no doubt that Mike Zimmer had no interest in his team making that pick. I mean, did you see the game?

We have analytics staffs, nutritional coordinators, and more quality control coaches than should be humanly possible, but nothing’s changed with the kicker. He’s not treated as a football player.

The Ravens, of course, have the most accurate kicker in NFL history on their roster. Justin Tucker is currently the only kicker in NFL history to have made more than 90 percent of his field goal attempts. Since 2014, inside 50 yards, Tucker has missed three times in 116 attempts. He’s never missed an extra point. In 2016, he made all 10 of his attempts from outside 50 yards.

When Tucker was still kicking in college at Texas, the Ravens had a kicking problem. After serving as the team’s long-range kicker and kickoff specialist the year before, Steven Hauschka took over the full-time duties in 2009.

Hauschka, unfortunately, didn’t make it through the entire 2009 season in Baltimore. He was released in November, the day after he missed an extra point in a win at Cleveland. A few weeks earlier, in Minnesota, his 44-yard miss on the final play let the Vikings escape with a 33-31 win, a game in which the Ravens had come back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Why does Steven Hauschka in 2009 matter? Because in 2018, Steven Hauschka is still playing, unfortunately (for him) in Buffalo.

In Seattle, where he spent most of his career, they started calling him “Hausch Money.” On that list of career leaders that Tucker heads, you don’t have to look too far down the list to find Hauschka. He’s fourth, with a success rate of better than 87%.

Interestingly, Ozzie Newsome predicted Hauschka’s eventual professional success. On the day he was released, Newsome said in a statement that “while we need better right now, we do believe Steve will kick successfully in the league eventually.”

Maybe Newsome said that because he meant it. Maybe he said it because, unlike Carlson, Hauschka wasn’t a draft pick, just a former Division III kicker picked up off the waiver wire.

What Newsome couldn’t have known? Two years later, almost to the day, Hauschka would make all five of his field goal attempts for the Seahawks in an upset win over the Ravens.

It’s possible that neither Zane Gonzalez nor Daniel Carlson will become successful kickers in the NFL. It’s probable that, as young as they are with the college pedigrees they have, they’ll both get chances with other teams. The question for them, and others like them, is if they’ll ever be judged by anything but the plays they didn’t make.

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mullins and "nothing"

You're a tough group, I'll say that.

Wednesday's #DMD poll asked you to choose "the best thing about the Orioles 2018 season".

The Orioles appear to be in good hands next season with Cedric Mullins in centerfield.

I know...that's a loaded question. They are, after last night's win, 44-108 with 10 games remaining. There's not much good that can come out of that.

In fact, 38% of selected "Nothing" as your answer to the question. That answer turned out to be the leading vote-getter.

"The arrival and play of Cedric Mullins" was the second place finisher with 33% of the vote. While Mullins hasn't in any way eased the pain of this terrible season, he at least gives you comfort that the centerfield spot won't be up for grabs next spring in Sarasota.

"Jonathan Villar", acquired from the Brewers at the deadline, came in at 12%.

"The second half emergence of Alex Cobb" garnered 9%.

And the "deadline deals for minor league prospects" was an 8% vote getter.

Seems about right to me. I voted for Jonathan Villar, if you want to know, but I definitely understand the voting results. There's not much to get excited about from the 2018 campaign.

September 19
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issue 19
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the worst...ever

Right around the same time magician Shin Lim was making a handful of playing cards disappear before our eyes on the TV show America's Got Talent last night, the Orioles were making an early four-run lead vanish at Camden Yards en-route to a 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays.

For his efforts, Lin might wind up winning a one million dollar prize. With that loss, the 2018 Orioles are now, officially, the worst team in franchise history.

Inevitable met reality last night in Baltimore.

We've known this was going to be the Orioles' fate since the All-Star break. It would have taken a mammoth change in fortune and performance for this Orioles team to not lose at least 108 games and surpass the 1988 edition that went 55-107.

But it still stung to see that final out last night -- a Corban Joseph groundout for those who care about such historical facts -- and know that the 2018 version of the Orioles is the worst team the organization has ever put on the field.

No one likes to lose. No one likes to endure a long, losing season. But this, in 2018, is historical in nature. It's the first time since the team originated back in 1954 that they've lost this much.

Dylan Bundy became the first Orioles starter to reach the 7th inning since August 25th last night, but it all fell apart in that inning as the Blue Jays won, 6-4.

To put this year's record into its proper perspective, remember this: The 1988 Orioles started the season 0-21. They went 55-86 thereafter which, while not all that good, was a far better winning percentage than what the O's will produce in all of 2018.

This year's team now sits at 43-108. They have eleven games remaining, with only one obvious goal left in front of them. They need to figure out a way to win at least seven more games and not end the season with 40-something wins.

The Birds finish up the campaign with one more home game tonight against Toronto, then three road games in Boston and New York, and a four-game home series with Houston.

They have to go 7-4 in those 11 games to finish at 50-112. I'm thinking the same thing you're thinking, presumably. "Ain't gonna happen..."

Over the last two nights, a couple of thousand hearty souls braved warm, damp conditions to go down to Camden Yards and watch the Orioles lose. To their credit, the organization did those folks a solid by allowing them to move down to the lower deck and watch the torture up close and personal.

Maybe they should have stayed in the upper wouldn't have looked so awful from up there.

To dissect what's happened to this year's team would take a week's worth of #DMD. Yes, they essentially threw in the towel in late July when they shipped off Machado, Gausman, Schoop and Brach, but the team wasn't going anywhere before those deadline deals were made. Without those trades would the team currently be 43-108? Probably not. But they wouldn't be a whole lot better, either.

There are some in the organization who think the derailment began way back in October of 2016 when the O's lost that playoff heartbreaker to the Blue Jays. More than one player has whispered that the locker room lost faith in Buck Showalter that night after he bungled the Zach Britton game-entry decision. Others cite the team's refusal to make long-term offers to the likes of Machado and Schoop as indicators that the front office had no real direction.

Believe it or not, there's even a story circulating about Mark Trumbo demanding the front office make Adam Jones stop his post-game "pie in the face" ritual late last season. Some players have even pointed to that moment -- when Jones was told by a front office exec to stop doing it -- as the start of the team's downfall, saying Trumbo violated an important locker room rule by going above the players and the manager.

Oh, and the talent on the field wasn't very good to start the 2018 campaign. They brought three Rule 5 players with them to Baltimore to start the season. Pedro Alvarez, a journeyman with almost no value league-wide, was the team's opening day left-handed power bat. At Manny Machado's insistence, Tim Beckham became a third baseman. Or tried to become one, I should say. That experiment was a complete flop. Not only was Machado merely good-but-not-great at shortstop, but Beckham was terrible at third base.

Schoop, Trumbo and Davis all stunk it up in the first three months of the season. The Oriole catchers couldn't hit for squat, no matter who was back there on any given day. And the two critical off-season additions -- Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner -- both labored through April, May and June.

That about sums it up, although there's much more detail to it all that can't be covered in just one recap.

Nothing went right. Nothing.

Someone asked me on Tuesday what I thought the most positive thing about the Orioles has been in 2018.

I consider myself as ardent a fan of the team as anyone. And I couldn't come up with an answer for that.

With a little more time to consider that question, I suppose I might say that Jonathan Villar looks like a keeper at second base and Cedric Mullins, in a very brief amount of time, has displayed some promising talent both at the plate and in centerfield.

Oh, and Trey Mancini turned around a fairly pedestrian first half of the season to actually put up pretty decent overall numbers in 2018.

But overall, there hasn't been a whole lot of "promise" this season.

If all of those trade deadline deals yield the quality we hope they do, maybe we'll see the fruits of this "labor" in 2020, 2021 and so on. I heard well-known Orioles fan Roy Firestone say this week he thinks the team might be seven or eight years away from competing for a playoff spot. I sure hope it doesn't take that long, but nothing would surprise me.

The first order of business in a few weeks will be for the Orioles to disclose what most of us already know. Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette will not be returning in 2019. Once those dominoes fall, the rebuilding plan can start taking shape.

Who's going to manage this outfit next year? That's anyone's guess.

Who will run the club's baseball operation? We assume it's going to be Brady Anderson, but remember, this is the Orioles we're talking about. There's no telling what they're thinking.

I'll leave you with some good news. Remember you heard it here first. There's no way next year's team will have a worse record than this year's team. I mean, they could. But they won't. Things will, slowly, slowly, slowly, start to get better.

We'll give you a chance to answer that same question I was confronted with yesterday. Good luck...

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What ranks as the most promising thing about the 2018 Orioles season?
2nd half emergence of Alex Cobb
Jonathan Villar
Arrival and play of Cedric Mullins in Sept.
Deadline deals for promising minor leaguers.
Email address

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and the biggest "pretender" is...

#DMD apparently believes in the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals.

But not the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins -- with wins over Tennessee and the Jets thus far -- were the run-away winners in our reader's poll yesterday. We asked you to pick the biggest "pretender" out of the following 2-0 teams: Cincinnati, Miami, Kansas City, Denver and Tampa Bay.

Miami was the easy pick.

The Dolphins received 56% of the vote.

Tampa Bay received 22%.

Denver received 20%.

Cincinnati received 2%.

Not one person out there voted for Kansas City. Their road wins over the L.A. Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers must have convinced everyone they're not a pretender.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The Cleveland Indians entered play Tuesday night at 83-66 and just this week clinched their third straight AL Central title. They're the first team to do that this season, and as of this writing only the 103 win Red Sox have a magic number of less than 6 to claim their division crown.

The Tampa Bay Rays were also 83-66 when they took the field on Tuesday, but they're not even really in the playoff picture.

Despite having as many wins as 3 division leading teams and the National League's current second wild card leader, the Rays are nowhere near the Red Sox and Yankees, and also sit 7 wins behind Oakland for a wild card berth.

There is perhaps something to be said about the fairness of divisional play in that fact, but for now I simply want to focus on what an achievement that is in its own right. To be 17 games above.500 in September is always an achievement in it's own right but it's extra impressive for Tampa Bay because, to employ a cliche, no one expected them to be anywhere near this good.

Not only were they expected to lose more games than they won, they were held up as a poster child of the scourge that is tanking. Yes, a whole bunch of experts thought the Rays were deliberately trying to lose as many games as possible to get the number one pick, and increase the owner's profits in the process.

So how did the Rays do the unexpected? Well they've got players who were better than a lot of us realized in March, obviously. More notably they've deployed every on field strategic advantage they can find. That includes the controversial practice of "bullpenning" or using an "opener," in which the Rays use a reliever at the beginning of the game to exploit matchups and then either work through a planned bullpygame or bring in the guy who is supposed to be the traditional starting pitcher after the first inning.

The odds-on favorite to win the A.L. Cy Young award, Blake Snell is a big reason why the Tampa Bay Rays are on the upswing.

The opener debuted when the Rays had Sergio Romo start a game against the Angels, then brought the scheduled starter in in the second inning. By doing that they let the "starter" get his innings in without having to face the dangerous right-handed batters at the top of the Angels' order three times, and made sure that the righty specialist Romo faced that segment of hitters in one turn through the lineup.

The Rays aren't doing this in every game by any means, and they're still using their good starters in traditional fashion. Cy Young candidate Blake Snell, for example, hasn't entered a single one of his 28 games in relief. Neither did Chris Archer before he was traded to Pittsburgh, nor Tyler Glasnow, who the Ray's got in return for Archer and actually converted into a regular starter. After pitching 34 games in relief for the Pirates Glasnow has thrown 44.1 innings over 9 starts for Tampa Bay.

But they have been using it to help out their weaker starting options, and it has been quite successful. It's also been quite controversial. There are A LOT of people who openly don't like what the Rays are doing, no matter how well it's working, for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps the most honest of the bunch is NBC's Craig Calcaterra, who just flat out admits that he dislikes it from an asthetic standpoint and doesn't find bullpenning to be entertaining baseball.

I don't agree with that.

I think it's absolutely fascinating that after over a century of playing the game, a team can be so much better than expected in large part because they used a strategy no one ever thought of before, and that that makes a 162 game season played by 30 teams far more entertaining. But I respect Calcaterra's stance, and wouldn't argue that it's wrong. If something doesn't entertain you, then it doesn't entertain you!

I can't say the same for Calcaterra's NBC colleague Bill Baer, who dislikes bullpenning because of its labor implications.

Baer isn't the only one who has floated this theory, which posits that because starting pitcher's make more money than relievers in arbitration, by having starters enter a game in "relief," the Rays are suppressing their arbitration salaries. Not to put too fine of a point on it: This is the silliest thing I've ever read about labor issues from someone taking the pro-player side.

Arbitration isn't a computer program you plug factors into and have a number spit out, if you have a hearing then the player's agent argues his case in front of human decision makers. If the union can't ensure that their arbitrators are buffaloed by such an absurd argument, then the players deserve to lose money over it.

But silly as it might be, it's part of a line of silly arguments that a lot of baseball writers who think of themselves as pro-labor have been making since the off-season. Tanking was one, and that hasn't really worked out so well. In addition to the Rays, the Pirates are just above.500 after they were supposed y losing on purpose and, as previously mentioned, they acquired Archer at the trade deadline in an attempt to make the postseason.

Meanwhile the worst team in baseball is the one who signed two of the top free agent starting pitchers. Speaking of free agents, remember when we were casually throwing around accusations of collusion because someone like Alex Cobb suddenly couldn't get a $100 million contract? Well don't look now but it's almost October and nearly all of the guys who were inexplicably not getting offers havent been all that good this year.

What a mystery!

Then there's the idea that a team's interest in winning isn't served by delaying the free agency of a player like Vlad Guerrero Jr. and the only reason to hold him down is lower payroll costs.

The problem is that, in addition to being wrong (and wrong headed) all of these ideas flow from one dangerously incorrect premise: That the Major League Baseball Players Association bears no responsibility for any of this, and can't be expected to have to do anything to fix it or otherwise show agency in any way.

And I do mean that this is a dangerous viewpoint to adopt. There are a lot of problems here that need to be addressed for the betterment of the game and to the best interests of everyone, fans included. Fans want to see great young players in the big leagues, not Triple-A, and the union should care about that too and THEY should be taking a leading role in changing the rules to disincentivize keeping top prospects in the minor leagues for longer than necessary.

But to do that, they need to understand their own role in creating the same problems in the first place!

It's far from clear that Tony Clark or anyone around him understands that, and it's not even clear that they care about it. The union is still dominated by veterans, and as such they're still entirely focused on free agent salaries.

If you actually care about changing the landscape in baseball for the better, you need to call the union out for that and demand they do a better job!

Constantly making excuses for them, denying the ways in which their own eagerness to screw over young players, especially top prospects, has helped to create the current problems, and acting as though they have no agency to fix anything isn't making anything better and isn't helpful to anyone.

Least of all the players themselves.

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September 18
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issue 18
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suspend this goof

Last Friday night in Atlanta, a scene took place that needs to be handled immediately by Major League Baseball.

They likely won't do anything, of course, but that's par for the course when it comes to umpire protection.

Laz Diaz, a veteran major league ump, got into a spat with Bryce Harper of the Nationals. Harper wasn't pleased with a strike call early in Friday's game and the two had an on-going battle of sorts through the first few innings.

Then, in the 5th inning, with Harper some 80 yards away out in centerfield, Diaz continued their beef by stopping the game and admonishing Harper because the Nationals star was "making gestures and acting out" after calls Diaz was making at home plate.

"Making gestures and acting out", Diaz said afterwards, as if that was his biggest concern calling balls and strikes. Really? That's where you're mind is when you're behind the plate umpiring in a major league game, one that had possible playoff implications for at least one of the teams?

Baseball umpires have to be the biggest babies in all of sports.

They apparently can never be wrong, never be challenged and never even be a smidgen out of line with their overreactions to bad or missed calls.

Here's the video of what happened on Friday night in Atlanta.


Kudos to Nationals' manager Dave Martinez for calling it exactly right. "The game's right here," Martinez said and gestured to Diaz, telling him, essentially, to pay attention to what's going on at his station...home plate.

These thin-skinned umpires are dopes.

It's important to keep in mind that most of them do a terrific job night in and night out on what might be one of the hardest professional officiating circuits in the country. Even Diaz is a well-liked umpire, although he definitely needs a class in how to handle criticism.

But they're far from perfect. And the players, too, are far from perfect. Given those two spectrums, both parties need to understand that mistakes are made and the other should have a little wiggle room when it comes to showing their frustration.

Players get none of that wiggle room. If they as much as look the wrong way after a close call, they get yelled at for "showing me up", a favorite term of officials everywhere.

Diaz should be suspended by major league baseball, if for no other reason than to remind others in his profession that the game is at their station, not 80 yards away in centerfield because someone looks like they might be making gestures and acting out after you miss another call.

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pretenders and contenders

Let's jump to a bunch of conclusions after just two weeks of the NFL season.

That's always fun, right?

We'll do this every few weeks and see if anyone's status changes from one to the other.

Dallas Cowboys -- PRETENDER. They can't finish .500. But they might not finish last in the NFC East.

Washington Redskins -- CONTENDER. I thought the Redskins were going to be terrible. I might be wrong on that. Alex Smith makes them a little bit legit.

NY Giants -- PRETENDER. Have to be better than Dallas, although they weren't on Sunday night.

Philadelphia Eagles -- CONTENDER. They'll be there when the dust settles in late December.

Green Bay Packers -- CONTENDER. Could be 2-0, could be 0-2. Instead, they're 1-0-1, which is probably fair.

Minnesota Vikings -- CONTENDER. I picked them to win the Super Bowl, so I'm partial to them, of course. But they're definitely for real.

Detroit Lions -- PRETENDER. It's looking like a tough year in Detroit.

Are Pat Mahomes and the 2-0 Chiefs a contender or pretender?

Chicago Bears -- CONTENDER. Maybe Khalil Mack does make that much difference, huh?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- PRETENDER. I'm not buying it yet. Sorry. Two nice wins, yes, but they'll be .500 by mid-season.

Atlanta Falcons -- PRETENDER. I thought they were going to be really good. I'm not so sure anymore.

New Orleans Saints -- CONTENDER. They're off to a sluggish start, but they'll figure it out.

Los Angeles Rams -- CONTENDER. Might be the best team in the NFC this season. Easy schedule so far, but they're crushing people.

San Francisco 49'ers -- PRETENDER. I thought these guys were going to be good. I'm not so sure now.

Arizona Cardinals -- PRETENDER. Can't win five games.

Seattle Seahawks -- PRETENDER. I know it's two road losses to start the season, but they don't look right.

New England Patriots -- CONTENDER. Don't let the Jacksonville loss fool you. They're still the team to beat in the AFC.

New York Jets -- PRETENDER. Last Monday in Detroit was an aberration. They're no good.

Miami Dolphins -- CONTENDER. They "only" beat Tennessee and the Jets, yes, but there's something about them that seems impressive.

Buffalo Bills -- PRETENDER. Might not win a game.

Kansas City Chiefs -- CONTENDER. I can't see them winning big games in January with that defense but between now and then they are going to score a lot of points if nothing else.

Denver Broncos -- PRETENDER. Let's see what happens this Sunday when they play in Baltimore. Two home wins doesn't automatically mean they're a contender, in my mind.

Oakland Raiders -- PRETENDER. They're probably better than they've looked thus far, but it's going to be a long four months in Oakland.

Los Angeles Chargers -- CONTENDER. Getting thumped by KC in their home opener might have been just the tonic they needed.

Tennessee Titans -- PRETENDER. Can't duplicate last year's success, unfortunately. Hard pressed to win eight games.

Houston Texans -- CONTENDER. I'll buy stock in the Texans even though they didn't look very good in the loss to Tennessee on Sunday. I could be wrong on this one. But something tells me they'll turn it around.

Indianapolis Colts -- CONTENDER. Their division is fairly soft. If something happens to the Jaguars, the Colts can finish 9-7 and host a home playoff game in January.

Jacksonville Jaguars -- CONTENDER. Only a significant injury or two can keep them from winning the division. Might be a 12-win team.

Cincinnati Bengals -- CONTENDER. If Joe Mixon is able to come back and he's healthy for the rest of the season, Cincy has a real chance to win the division.

Pittsburgh Steelers -- PRETENDER. Too much turmoil, a flimsy defense, and just time for a role reversal for our friends up in Pittsburgh. Welcome to 8-7-1. Or 7-8-1.

Cleveland Browns -- PRETENDER. Better than they were a year ago, but they almost had to be, right? They'll beat some teams this season.

Baltimore Ravens -- CONTENDER. That first win against Buffalo gave everyone a false sense of security, but the Ravens aren't going to give up 21 points in the first quarter again in 2018. They'll be there in late December fighting for the division title.

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What ranks as the most promising thing about the 2018 Orioles season?
2nd half emergence of Alex Cobb
Jonathan Villar
Arrival and play of Cedric Mullins in Sept.
Deadline deals for promising minor leaguers.
Email address

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still nothing from the o's

As far as I can tell, the Orioles haven't developed any sort of Adam Jones-specific event for the final home series against Houston the weekend of September 28-29-30.

The clock is ticking.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago, then followed up early last week, saying the same thing on both occasions: "We're not hearing anything yet..."

They're finishing up a 9-game homestand tonight and tomorrow...wouldn't it have been smart to announce a Jones-related appreciation game before that homestand so they could promote it over the last week and a half?

Maybe they aren't promoting it because the idea doesn't exist.

There are lots of rumors and whispers floating around about the current status of the relationship between Jones and the team.

Are the Orioles really going to let the Baltimore career of Adam Jones expire wtihout a proper "Apprecation Game"?

It might be -- to borrow a well-known term these days -- fake news or it might be legit, but there's a thought that perhaps the Orioles are "sticking" it to Jones as a payback-of-sorts for his refusal to accept a trade deadline deal to Philadelphia.

I personally don't believe that, but I'll at least admit the way the Orioles have handled Jones' playing time over the last six weeks is puzzling.

But they're the Orioles -- they have a master's degree in puzzling.

We're still back to the original issue though, and it's not going away in the next ten days. The Orioles need to have some sort of special night of appreciation for Jones when the Astros are in town for the season's final series.

I'll qualify that by saying the same thing I've said over the last few weeks anytime I've brought the subject up here at #DMD. If the Orioles asked Jones if he'd be OK with "Adam Jones Appreciation Day/Night" and he said "no", then I can understand if it doesn't happen.

But other than that, the Orioles better honor Jones in a big way during that final series.

Maybe they're already planning something for that final weekend and they just haven't announced it yet. Fair enough...but people have to get their schedules together, you know? It would be good to hear something from the Orioles about their plans to celebrate the Orioles career of Adam Jones.

He deserves it.

Sure, at some point down the road he'll be an Orioles Hall of Fame member and might have some other form of recognition in/around the ballpark, but that shouldn't be considered right now, in 2018, when the organization is trying to determine if they should recognize him next weekend.

The fans need the opportunity to come out to the ballpark and show Jones the gratitude they have for him.

I get nervous any time the Orioles are asked to do the right thing, because their track record in that department isn't spectacular.

Honoring Adam Jones falls under the category of "the right thing".

I sure hope the Orioles don't foul this up.

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September 17
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issue 17
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two weeks in...and it's already crazy

The NFL has its warts but one thing is certain: It's the most unpredictable sports league there is, by ten lengths.

Some of that is by design, I suppose, and some of it comes from the rules and the calls that we see every week. But the only thing consistent about the league is the inconsistency. You can't figure out the NFL.

The Browns coulda, shoulda, woulda be 2-0, with wins over Pittsburgh and New Orleans that, instead, turned into a tie and a loss. OK, so some things do remain the same in the NFL. The Browns can't beat anyone. Not yet, anyway.

Kansas City has surrendered 65 points in two games thus far. But they're 2-0 and looking like a team to reckon with in the AFC West if they can just figure out a way to stop the other team from scoring. Pat Mahomes threw six touchdowns against the Steelers yesterday, giving him 10 in two weeks of action, the most anyone has ever thrown after just a pair of games.

Indianapolis lost at home in week one, then won on the road in week two. They beat a team, the Redskins, who won on the road in week one, then came home and lost seven days later.

The same formula sticks to the Jets, who beat the Lions in Detroit on Monday night, then laid an egg at home against the Dolphins yesterday.

Despite putting up 37 points vs. Kansas City on Sunday, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers dropped their home opener to the Chiefs, 42-37.

Tampa Bay is 2-0 with a road win at New Orleans and a home victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles yesterday. And Ryan Fitzpatrick is the MVP of the 2018 season thus far.

Can I stop now?

The league is completely nuts.

But there's more to it than just the games.

Green Bay had a win stolen from them yesterday because of a horrible roughing-the-passer call late in the 4th quarter. The same thing happened to Clay Matthews last Sunday night, too, except his late hit on Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky was actually a good call. Yesterday's call was awful.

Maybe Matthews is targeted by the league because of his reckless style of play, but that call on the interception that sealed the game (momentarily) for the Packers was one that makes the NFL look bad.

They are getting some things, right by the way. For the second straight week, a player was rightfully ejected for a hit to the helmet. But for every correct call they make, along comes another awful call that impacts the outcome of a game.

And fans continue to show their apathy for the NFL product by staying away. Empty seats galore were seen in Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Washington, where the Redskins drew just 57,000 to their home opener. Remember when the Redskins had a 30-year waiting list for tickets and you had to marry into a D.C. family just to have a chance at a seat? Well.....those days are long gone. The team was advertising on Twitter last week looking for ticket buyers to Sunday's game with Indianapolis.

There might still be a smidgen of push-back from last year's kneeling debate, but I don't see or feel much of that any longer. Oh, sure, it's always a bubbling issue that can boil over on any given Sunday if a handful of grandstanders decide to push their agenda again, but for the most part I think people aren't holding that grudge this season.

There's just a general malaise concerning the NFL that seems to have blanketed the country. Yes, I know all about the TV ratings and how they're still "really good". They're also "really down", too. Whether it's the kneeling, the officiating, the rules or the occasionally lackluster level of play, less people appear glued into the NFL like they were, say, five years ago.

I love sports. I'd say I really like the NFL. I watched the first series of last night's Cowboys-Giants game. I was football'd out by 8:30 pm. But that's just me. You might have locked into that one until the final whistle from Dallas.

I did watch bits and pieces of the Pittsburgh-K.C. game and the Minnesota-Green Bay game. There were lots of points scored and plenty of drama, which made for interesting viewing. But in both games, the referees were involved in potentially impacting the outcome, although it wound up not hurting the Chiefs in the end.

I have a friend who is convinced the NFL is orchestrated. He's not a newcomer to the party, either. He's been saying that for three or four years now. He believes the referees are assigned to games with cause and reason and believes it's their job to make sure "certain things happen" during the game.

I constantly laugh at him when he brings up this subject. I tell him he's nuts.

He sent me a text after the Green Bay-Minnesota game that said: "You can tell the league wants Minnesota to win this year."

I didn't know what to say to that one, but for once, just once, I caved in a little bit: "Maybe you're not as crazy as I think you are!" I texted back.

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you could be $2,000 ahead right now!

Just think, if you would have wagered $1,000 per-game on my ten picks so far this season, you'd be ahead $2,000! Yes, yes, I know, there's the 10% juice and all...just keep it simple and take your $2,000.

Thanks to a late collapse by the 49'ers, I "only" went 3-2 yesterday, matching my record from week #1 in "Show Me The Money".

But a win is a win is a win and I'm now 6-4 to start the season, although the Jets did ruin my perfect record in "Best Bet of The Day" when they lost at home to the Dolphins.

I won on the Chiefs (+6.5), the Rams (-13.0) and the Raiders (+6.0) and lost on the Jets and 49er's.

I'm also 2-0 thus far on the Ravens, as I had them covering against Buffalo in week #1 and failing to cover in week #2 at Cincy. And did I see that right last night...the Ravens are 5.5 point favorites over the Broncos on Sunday? Wow. They're dying for you to take Denver, huh?

Just for kicks, although not official, here's a freebie for tonight's Monday Night thriller. Take the Seahawks (+4.5), although I see Chicago winning a squeaker, 24-21.

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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.

afc north edition


A.J. Green

The Bengals’ wide receiver, who just turned 30, is a seven-time Pro Bowler. Much has been said about his performances against the Ravens, and how they’ve gone a long way toward those Pro Bowl appearances. Is that really true, though? Has Green truly been that much of a thorn in Baltimore’s side?

Green has played in 11 games against the Ravens. Of those, only four would truly qualify as big-time performances, and Thursday’s game does only because three of his five catches were for scores. I get it. Three touchdowns is a big deal. But...

In the last four games between the two teams, Green has caught a total of 16 passes, for an average of about 12 yards per reception. Whether it’s been injury, attention paid by the Ravens or something else, he hasn’t been as dynamic recently against Baltimore.

Green has played in 13 games against the Steelers. Like he has against the Ravens, he’s recorded three games with more than 100 receiving yards, one of which was for more than 200 receiving yards. His yards per catch against Pittsburgh is slightly lower, though he’s been targeted more in games against the Steelers.

The big difference? As usual, it comes down to wins and losses.

Cincinnati has won seven of those 11 games against the Ravens and won just three of the 13 games against the Steelers.

A.J. Green is a stud, and both the Ravens and the Steelers would have been better off if he’d never put on a Cincinnati uniform.



One week after a stunning home win over Chicago, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had a stunning home tie with the Vikings, as both team's kickers missed game-winning field goal attempts.

So the Browns and Steelers played to a tie in Week 1 and yesterday Green Bay and Minnesota ended up in a 29-29 deadlock.

Ties in the NFL are quite uncommon, of course, despite one in each of the first two weeks this year. Since 1974, when the league instituted sudden-death overtime, there have been only 24 tie games.

In case you forgot, by the way, the overtime rules that began in 2012 were further modified before last season, with the overtime period shortened to 10 minutes instead of 15. With no tie games last season, the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game was the first to end in a tie with the shorter period.

Also, in case you weren’t paying attention, both teams missed field goals that would have won the game in the final two minutes of the 10-minute OT. Chris Boswell missed a 42-yarder wide left just after the two-minute warning, while Zane Gonzalez had his 43-yard attempt blocked with 13 seconds on the clock.

The play-by-play of the overtime reads like a game involving the Browns. Cleveland went three-and-out on its first three possessions, going essentially nowhere each time before punting. Then, given a gift by their defense, the Browns ran one play and then spiked the ball only to miss the field goal.

The Browns, of course, ended a 17-game losing streak with the tie, so they’ve got that going for them.

In other random minutiae, the game was the first tie in the season’s opening week in the 45 years of sudden-death overtime. The Ravens, meanwhile, have played one tie game in 23 seasons, a 10-10 tie against the Eagles on a chilly day at Memorial Stadium in November 1997.


M&T Bank Stadium

10-plus years into his career, with the 2018 Ravens having played one game at home and one on the road, Joe Flacco has now started 78 games at home and 78 games away from home.

The performance differences for Flacco are pretty stark, in a way that’s more like college basketball home-court (dis)advantage than the more antiseptic road NFL experience.

Flacco’s record is 59-19 at home. He has more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, and his home passer rating of 90.6 would rank among the top 15 all-time if it encompassed his entire career.

On the road, Flacco’s record is 34-44. He’s thrown 80 interceptions, which simple math would tell you adds up to about one per game. He’s been sacked a lot, and his road passer rating of 78.3 would rank behind Matt Cassel if it encompassed his entire career.

Anecdotally, it seems like some of Flacco’s struggles on the road can be attributed to his team falling behind early, whether that was his fault or not. This past Thursday’s game is just the latest example.

Whomever the offensive coordinator, he has to abandon the run and put every play in the quarterback’s hands. In the same number of games, Flacco has thrown 178 more passes on the road than he has at home.

After next Sunday, the Ravens play three straight road games, the first two of which are divisional games. That’s not necessarily the schedule that will keep Flacco off and running like he’s been early.



We know that, since the NFL divisional realignment in 2002, there are 12 intra-divisional games (per division) every season. More recently, ten of those games get spread out over the season’s first 16 weeks, with every game in Week 17 now a divisional game.

Obviously, every team plays four more games against teams from outside its division than it does within the division. If you slip up inside, there’s certainly opportunity to make up for it outside. A win is a win, before you get to tiebreakers anyway.

And yet, in the AFC North, only once in 16 seasons has the team with the best divisional record not won the division outright or won the tiebreaker. That was Cincinnati, five years ago.

The Bengals didn’t just win the division with a 3-3 record against the Browns, Ravens and Steelers, they won it by a comfortable three-game margin. Pittsburgh had the best divisional record, 4-2, but finished tied with the Ravens at 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

So, it’s possible to do what the Bengals did, but not probable.

Another way of looking at it…it’s very unlikely that a team will win the division with more than two divisional losses. Right now, the Ravens are the only team in the AFC North that has one.

Without sounding overly obvious, a team that finishes 6-0 or 5-1 in its division is probably just a really good team. 4-2 is a playoff team, and after that all bets are off. Most of the time, anyway.


It’s a QB League

Ben Roethlisberger, age 36, has been slinging the ball and his body around the field for the Steelers since 2004.

Joe Flacco, age 33, has been a stoic presence, if not always an all-star one, for the Ravens since 2008.

Andy Dalton, who’ll be 31 at the end of October, is in his eighth year already in Cincinnati. The second-round draft pick started his career there in 2011.

I guess what that means is…regardless of the results of any individual game…you kinda know what you’re gonna get, right?

There’s only one other division that can match that quarterback consistency, and that’s the NFC South. Drew Brees, now 39, has been the starter in New Orleans since 2006. 33-year-old Matt Ryan of Atlanta was taken well before Flacco in 2008, while Cam Newton has, at only 29, been in a Panthers uniform since 2011.

Who wins there? At first glance, maybe you’d pick the NFC South. Brees and Big Ben are both certain Hall-of-Famers, but Ryan beats Flacco statistically and in the eyes of most fans. Newton is a more exciting player than Dalton (or almost anyone), but their career records as starters are nearly identical.

So, maybe it’s kind of a wash, on second thought.

As has been noted here before, the Ravens have had very little trouble against those three NFC South teams and those quarterbacks. The only loss was a Thursday night game in Atlanta in 2010, the one where Ryan threw a long TD pass to Roddy White with less than 30 seconds left to win the game for the Falcons.

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September 16
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issue 16
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to gordon or not to gordon?

There's a funny scene in the movie Friday where Craig, played by rapper Ice Cube, admits to his friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) that he was called into his place of employment on his day off and terminated for stealing boxes.

"You got fired on your day off?" Smokey asks him. "How the heck do you get fired on your day off?"

I thought of that scene yesterday when Josh Gordon's friends started reaching out to him after the news broke that the Cleveland Browns were parting company with him.

"You're getting cut by the Browns? You can't even stick with them? They haven't won a game since President Obama was in office."

Gordon's nine lives finally ended in Cleveland yesterday when the Browns announced they are parting ways with the talented but unreliable wide receiver.

The Browns will now seek a trade partner for Gordon, who has been up and down more than Eminen's career during his six year tenure in Cleveland.

If they don't find a willing trade companion, the Browns say they'll release Gordon, which means he'd immediately become a free agent based on his years of service in the NFL.

Should the Ravens try and cut a deal for Gordon?

Cleveland plans to trade or cut wide receiver Josh Gordon by Monday.

As is always the case anytime you're making a trade in the NFL, the salary cap comes into consideration. And in the Ravens case, there's a lot more on the table than just the team's salary cap position.

Is it worth bringing in the talented but mercurial Gordon? Don't the Ravens already have a new receiving corps that has handled themselves fairly well through the first two games of the season? Would Gordon's suspension history be a distraction in Baltimore?

There's no telling what the answers might be to those three questions, but the reality of the situation is this: Gordon is very talented. He's also very unreliable.

Case in point is what just happened to him in Cleveland. According to reports, Gordon somehow injured himself on Friday during a promotional photo shoot that the club knew nothing about. He then showed up at practice on Saturday in some sort of "odd condition" and complained of the injury.

That, apparently, was the final red flag in Cleveland. After six years of sticking with Gordon through thick, thin and multiple drug-related suspensions, the Browns finally got wise and kicked him to the curb.

But his departure in Cleveland doesn't necessarily mean Gordon can't go on and help another NFL team this season. He certainly has the skill set to make a difference on any given Sunday. There's no doubting his talent.

But there is reason to doubt his brain. And there is reason to doubt his ability to stay dedicated to his employer. And, sadly, there is more than enough evidence in place to suggest Gordon is never going to come full circle and conduct himself in a professional manner.

Someone asked me last night: "Should the Ravens take Gordon and try and turn him around?"

My response was complicated: "He's never going to change. There's no sense in trying to turn him around. That's not happening. If you think you can somehow squeeze 14 good games out of him in 2018, go ahead and consider him. But understand this: He's never going to change. You're kidding yourself if you think Josh Gordon is going to come to Baltimore and suddenly become a model citizen."

breakfast bytes

Birds battle back from early 6-0 deficit, lose to Yankees in NY, 10-8.

N.L. playoffs: Dodgers lose at home to Padres, Rockies win in Arizona; L.A.'s lead down to 1.5 games.

Report: McNair went almost one hour without proper medical treatment after his collapse during Maryland football practice.

Browns coach Jackson says he's "undecided" on starting QB in Cleveland.

And that's it in a nutshell, really. If you're willing to put up with the aggravation that's sure to follow him wherever he goes next, then Josh Gordon might be a good fit for your team. But you enter your relationship with Gordon knowing without question that he's going to foul-up at some point, probably sooner rather than later, and leave you regretting your decision to join forces with him.

There will be lots of people around the country, and perhaps a handful of NFL teams, even, who think all Gordon needs is a change of scenery. They'll suggest maybe he was merely poisoned by the Browns. Those folks will just assume a move from Cleveland to elsewhere will be the tonic Gordon needs to become a successful, contributing member of a new team.

Here's the truth. It's harsh, but it's the truth: Josh Gordon is incorrigible. That doesn't mean he wouldn't make a bunch of nice catches at some point this season and haul in a big touchdown or two. He very well might do that. But when the dust settles, Gordon will be a problem wherever he goes. He's been that way for a decade. Nothing about his history says that's due to change.

I don't think the Ravens need Josh Gordon. Could he help them? Maybe. But he's not a must-have guy, that's for sure. If they were desperate for a wide receiver, the Ravens might be forced to take a look. But they're far from desperate.

And at some point, Gordon's going to flame out and cause trouble again. You can bet on that happening with the same comfort level you'd wager that Chris Davis will strike out at least once today when the Orioles play the White Sox.

So I'll go back to what I told my friend yesterday: "If you think you can somehow squeeze 14 good games out of him in 2018, go ahead and consider him." But it's caveat emptor, for certain.

And even if you do check the goods for quality and suitability, you know at the time of purchase you're likely going to want to return the item and get your money back.

There's no getting around it with Josh Gordon. He's a talented player who can't stay out of trouble.

One final piece of advice to the new team that takes a chance on him: Make sure you keep the receipt.

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show me the money, week #2

After a 3-2 start in week #1 and a win on Thursday night (Bengals +1.5), "Show Me The Money" is off to a decent start.

The early part of the season is always tough to predict. Take today's Chargers-Bills game in Buffalo. There's very little about the Bills that suggests they can cover 7.5 points today against Los Angeles. But it's the NFL...

The league is so crazy and so unpredictable that Buffalo could win 20-10 today and I wouldn't be at all surprised. Likewise, the Chargers could win 38-13 and I wouldn't be shocked at all.

Are the Bucs for real? What about the Jets? They sure looked good on Monday night winning at Detroit.

But our job here is to help you get an early start towards that extra Christmas shopping money you need this December.

Let the winning continue.

DOLPHINS AT JETS (-2.5) -- This could be a mistake, buying stock in the Jets after only one season opening win, but maybe they'll be one of those teams that gets off to a 4-0 start before falling back to earth in October and November. Either way, we love the Jets today, to the tune of 23-20.

RAIDERS AT BRONCOS (-6.5) -- That number (-6.5) seems pretty high for a Denver team that doesn't figure to have much in the way of offense this season. Sure, Oakland's defense is pretty shabby, but shouldn't they be able to put some points up themselves? In a low scoring game of sorts, we like Oakland to cover but the Broncos to pull out a 22-17 victory.

Can Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers hold off the high-flying Chiefs today in Pittsburgh?

CARDINALS AT RAMS (-13.0) -- Based on week one, this should be a blowout, right? Arizona was hapless at home vs. the Redskins and the Rams went to Oakland and blew out the Raiders. We're doing the double dipsy-doo with this one. It smells like a blow out which means it's more likely than not that Arizona keeps it close. But we're going with the original thought and sticking with the Rams to win easily, 30-13.

CHIEFS AT STEELERS (-6.0) -- It feels like the betting total in this one should be 69.5 or something like that. Neither of these teams has any idea how to play defense. In a game of "he with the ball last wins", we'll take the Chiefs and the six points as the Steelers steal a win with a late drive and field goal, 36-34.

LIONS AT 49'ERS (-6.0) -- Can Detroit's defense be as bad as it looked on Monday night? Maybe. Either way, the 49'ers have a decided edge in this one, playing at home with an extra day of rest. We like the 49'ers in a big way here, as Detroit falls to 0-2 after San Fran clobbers them 33-17.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We'll buy some early stock on the Jets and go with New York (-2.5) at home over the Dolphins.





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September 19 podcast: Drew looks back at his spring training baseball predictions for 2018.

Friday, September 21

WP: C. Sabathia (8-7)

LP: Y. Ramirez (1-7))

HR: Wynns (4), Nunez (6), Stewart (2), Gregorius (27), Hicks (25)

RECORD/PLACE: 44-109, 5th (of course)

breakfast bytes

Birds battle back from early 6-0 deficit, lose to Yankees in NY, 10-8.

N.L. playoffs: Dodgers lose at home to Padres, Rockies win in Arizona; L.A.'s lead down to 1.5 games.

Report: McNair went almost one hour without proper medical treatment after his collapse during Maryland football practice.

Browns coach Jackson says he's "undecided" on starting QB in Cleveland.