September 30th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 30
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birds flying, jays falling -- at just the right time

It might all come down to who gets the home game next Tuesday when the American League wild card is settled in a one-game winner take all affair.

But even if the Orioles have to go back to Toronto for that one, they'll do so armed with the confidence that in two virtual "must win" games, they came out on top this week, polishing off a series with with last night's easy 4-0 victory over Josh Donaldson and Company.

Yes, I know, there's still lots of baseball left to be played, and the Mariners and Tigers still might have a say in things, but it's looking more and more like the Orioles and Blue Jays are going to face off again one more time before the 2016 baseball calendar closes.

Toronto has the same record (87-72) as the Birds, but they're really still one game ahead because if two teams finished deadlocked on Sunday, the wild card game would be hosted by the Blue Jays on the basis of their 10-9 season series win over the O's.

The Orioles got a huge outing from Ubaldo Jimenez on Thursday night as he went 6.2 innings and allowed just one hit in Baltimore's 4-0 win over the Blue Jays.

There's also a lot of crazy stuff that could happen involving the Tigers, who were rained out on Thursday and now head to Atlanta to finish their season, with the prospect of having to play game #162 at home on Monday against Cleveland -- if it matters in the wild card race.

And Seattle is still alive, too, but they're trailing by two games with three to play, although last night's 3-2 win over Oakland kept them alive for another night at least.

Thursday night's Orioles win in Toronto was just about as easy as they come, with the Blue Jays mustering little offense against Ubaldo Jimenez and the O's scratching out a pair of early runs to take the lead and never looking back.

Given up for dead after the top of the 7th inning on Wednesday night, the O's used a 3-run rally to win that game and then cruised to a much-needed win last night. I wonder if the Toronto faithful are labeling their team "quitters" after their pedestrian performance on Thursday?

And speaking of given up for dead, Ubaldo Jimenez continued his magical late-season rebound with a one-hit performance over 6.2 innings on Thursday, with Donnie Hart and Brad Brach finishing things off with 2.1 innings of shutout work from the bullpen.

It was about as easy of a win as you'll see in a crucial situation, particularly on the road.

What's essentially become playoff-baseball continues tonight in the Bronx, as the Orioles take on a Yankees team that has been officially eliminated from the post-season despite their 83-76 record. I don't suspect the Yankees are going to lay down or try any less given their status, but it's certainly human nature to ease off the gas pedal a tad when you're playing for nothing but pride over the last three games.

I wouldn't mind at all if New York elects to not put up much of a fight this weekend, but they'll want to do something special for Mark Teixeira, who brings his career to a close over these final three games. Don't expect anything less than the Yankees' A-effort against the Birds.

Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley and Kevin Gausman will get the starts in New York, but it's the Baltimore bats that will make or break them in New York, I suspect. If the O's can put together a weekend of success at the plate, they'll be just fine. If not...

Toronto heads to Boston and if the Red Sox have any pride at all, they'll go out of their way to make sure the Blue Jays don't do any celebrating on their home turf. There's no love lost when any team plays Toronto (or Boston, for that matter), so I assume the Red Sox are going to try and win just for the sake of making things miserable for Gibbons, Bautista, Donaldson et al.

The Blue Jays would have their playoff fate all but secured if not for two bullpen meltdowns in the last five games, as they squandered a 3-2 home lead to the Yankees in the ninth inning on Monday night and a 2-1 9th inning advantage to the Orioles on Wednesday evening.

The Orioles, meanwhile, don't cough up games like that, which is why they're 87-72 and headed back to the playoffs providing they take care of business in New York over the weekend.

help our friends at primary residential mortgage with their "feeding america" campaign

Our corporate partners at Primary Residential Mortgage are heading up a worthwhile endeavor and we here at #DMD are not only going to get involved, we're asking that you, too, lend your support if you can. Primary Residential Mortgage is heading up a campaign to provide financial support to Feeding America, a national organization that is working hard to stamp out hunger in our country.

Feeding America has 200 member food banks who work with 60,000 food assistance agencies, such as, food pantries and soup kitchens to provide over 3.7 billion pounds of donated food annually to those who struggle with hunger.

By raising funds for Feeding America, Primary Residential Mortgage is trying to do their part to help provide meals for the 48 million people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to help out and make sure no one is hungry, both in Baltimore and around the country.

#DMD is donating $100 to Primary's "Feeding America" campaign and we'd ask that you take a minute today to make any kind of donation you can to help this worthwhile organization.

It doesn't take much: A $1 donation will provide 11 meals for those facing hunger. A $5 donation will provide 55 meals! If you have $5 to spare, that would go a long way in helping those less fortunate enjoy their holiday season. Please go here to make your donation and help feed America

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reed, spieth get it started today in the ryder cup

Well, so much for easing into the start of the 41st Ryder Cup matches.

The two captains elected to blow the doors off the event with the very first match, as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed will face Europe's Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose in the opening foursomes match that kicks off at 8:30 am.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III said Patrick Reed asked to be first off on Friday morning and the captain complied.

"Foursomes" is better known as alternate shot, with each player deciding ahead of time who is going to tee off on the odd/even holes and then they simply alternate shots from there. So, if Spieth tees off on #1 this morning, he will then tee off on all of the odd holes from that point forward and Reed will tee off on the even holes.

U.S. captain Davis Love III is clearly trying to win that first match and establish momentum right from the start, a theory duplicated by European captain Darren Clarke, who is sending out his stud-pairing of Stenson and Rose, who have enjoyed success together in previous Ryder Cup matches. Prediction: U.S. wins, 2-up.

The rest of the pairings for Friday morning's alternate-shot format are:

Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler (U.S.) vs. Rory McIlroy/Andy Sullivan -- An interesting match-up for sure, with Fowler getting the nod to play with Mickelson, who hasn't always been known as the easiest guy to play with in the alternate shot format. McIlroy, meanwhile, evidently asked for Sullivan specifically and captain Clarke complied. Prediction: Europe wins, 3 and 2.

Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson (U.S.) vs. Sergio Garcia/Martin Kaymer -- It seems odd that captain Love III would send out Zach Johnson in this format, as they'll need to use his drive on nine of the tee shots on a long, wet Hazeltine layout. To me, J.B. Holmes was the man for this pairing, but Walker and Johnson are good friends and compliment one another's game quite well. Garcia is one of Europe's Ryder Cup stalwarts and Kaymer, though not particularly strong in 2016, is always capable of putting together a solid round. Prediction: Europe wins 2 and 1.

Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar (U.S.) vs. Lee Westwood/Thomas Pieters -- Johnson and Kuchar are perhaps the U.S.'s best alternate shot team on paper, which makes them a big favorite in this match. Westwood is a longtime Ryder Cup success story and Pieters, according to those on the scene at Hazeltine this week, has been Europe's best ball striker in the practice rounds. Expect Johnson and Kuchar to win here, but it won't come easy. Prediction: U.S. wins 1-up.

Sitting out for the U.S. in the morning foursomes: J.B. Holmes, Ryan Moore, Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.

Sittng out for the Europeans: Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood, Danny Willet and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The afternoon "better ball" matches kick off at 1 pm (EST) and both Love III and Clarke have already confirmed that the pairings will be much different in the afternoon.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

Matchday 7 of the English Premier League once again gets underway a day early, with Friday’s kickoff the first of three days chalked full of action, including a one versus two showdown on a full Sunday card, before teams enjoy a brief rest for the second international break of the season.

Call it a short week at the office and settle in for a long weekend that will run you right up to the Ravens kickoff on Sunday, with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Friday, September 30 (all times eastern)

3pm – Crystal Palace @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

After starting the Ronald Koeman era unbeaten in their first five league games (W4 D1), Everton failed to take points for the first time this season when they fell behind and were unable to get back on level terms against Bournemouth in a 1-0 defeat. They will kick off Matchday 7 when they welcome Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on Friday, with the Eagles flying high on the back of three straight league wins after Christian Benteke’s header in the final seconds of injury time completed a remarkable comeback from two goals down with just thirty minutes to play to overtake the snake bitten Sunderland 3-2.

While it may be little shock that the Black Cats once again find themselves at the bottom of the table, fighting for their Premier League survival just two months into the season, Everton and Crystal Palace have so far been two of the biggest surprises of the young season, sitting in the top half of the table in fifth and seventh place respectively after dismal showings in last year’s campaign. With just one loss in their last six encounters (W2 D3), and with wins in two of their last three visits to Goodison Park (D1), Palace will to hope to pull themselves level with the Toffees on points following the weekday clash.

Sunday (all times eastern)

7am – Stoke City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes goes up against his former club on Sunday and it might be "must win time" for Stoke City and Hughes.

Any notion of an early season crisis was emphatically put to rest on Saturday when Manchester United steam rolled Leicester City, with four goals inside the first forty-five minutes easing the Red Devils to a comfortable 4-1 victory over the defending league champions. They will welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford to kick off the busy Sunday slate, with the Potters still trying to gather themselves after conceding an injury time header to split the points with West Brom, as they remained winless on the year and with just two points from their first six league games, second from the bottom in the table.

After successive ninth place finishes over the last three seasons, the poor run of form to open the current campaign has kept Mark Hughes as the bookies favorites as the first manager likely to get the sack this season. He is unlikely to find any sympathy this weekend from the club that he made over three hundred appearances for as a player where, despite splitting the season series with United in each of the last two seasons, Stoke have lost twelve of their last sixteen meetings overall (W2 D2) and have failed to take points in any of their last nine visits to Old Trafford.

9:15am – Manchester City @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

A brace from Sergio Aguero on either side of the halftime whistle was more than enough for Manchester City to see off Swansea City for the second time in a three-day span and remain perfect on the season, with six wins from six putting the Citizens comfortably at the top of the table. They will face their stiffest test to date when they travel to White Hart Lane for a one versus two showdown with Tottenham, who moved four points behind City with Son Heung-Min’s two first half goals just enough for the undermanned Spurs to squeak past Middlesbrough 2-1.

It was a crucial three points for Spurs who faced and passed their first test without striker Harry Kane, with last season’s Golden Boot winner facing at least a month on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury. They will need similar contributions from Heung-Min and summer signing Vincent Janssen on Sunday if they hope to keep pace and pressure on City, who are averaging three goals a game so far this year and, despite failing to take points in their last two meetings, have won eight of their last twelve encounters (W8 L3 D1) with the Lily Whites.

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only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.

September 29th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 29
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they may be a lot of things, but "quitters" isn't one of them

I wound up having the last laugh on Wednesday night.

I'd be fibbing if I said it wasn't fun.

After another series of frustrating at bats in the top of the fourth inning left two men aboard, the Orioles trailed the Blue Jays, 2-0, and the snipers came out on Twitter.

"I'm done," said one loyal supporter. "This team has quit."

Another chirped in with a similar message: "These guys quit last week after Boston steamrolled them. Same s**t, different day now."

After Hyun Soo Kim shocked the Rogers Centre crowd with 2-run homer in the 9th inning last night, Zach Britton made easy work of the Blue Jays in their final at-bat, retiring the side in order for his 47th straight save this season.

That theme -- quitting -- was a mainstay on Wednesday evening.

I called it "about the dumbest thing you can say" in one of my tweets aimed at those knuckleheads who claimed the O's had quit. I could have been more harsh, I suppose, calling them something worse than dumb, but that seemed kind of senseless at the time. Just labeling them "dumb" was accurate enough for me.

So, as the game waned on and more failed at-bats piled up, so, too, did the "quitting" accusations.

Me? I just continued to watch the game and hoped -- admittedly, hoping a lot -- that someone would come up with a hit or a big at-bat that might change things around.

It took three swings of the bat to do just that.

Mark Trumbo's solo home run in the 8th inning cut the Toronto lead to 2-1.

Jonathan Schoop contributed a one-out single in the top of the 9th.

And Hyun Soo Kim lashed a 3-2 pitch just over the right field wall in the very next at-bat to give the Birds a 3-2 win.

Funny enough, I didn't see those folks who earlier in the night called the O's "quitters" come back around to get their comeuppance.

This edition of the Orioles is a lot of things.

They were comfortably secure with their playoff position about three weeks ago, but now, they're in a dogfight, thanks mainly to their own poor play and a September resurgence from Seattle, Detroit and New York.

The other teams try, too, remember.

Yes, their approach at the plate is maddening, and that's a nice way of putting it.

They're terrible - over the last 35 games or so -- at driving in runners in scoring position and creating "big innings" with one or two productive at-bats.

Defensively, they've been more cold than hot recently, including last night's Keystone Cops episode early in the game that gifted Toronto an early run.

We can nitpick a lot of things about the Orioles, much like the folks in Toronto can bellyache about their wobbly bullpen that has now coughed up two ninth inning leads in the last three games.

But the Orioles didn't make it this far -- 86 and 72 with four games left -- by being "quitters". The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure, these last 15 games are critical and it stinks to not play all that well when the calendar hits the home stretch.

Just remember, though, the games in April and May count just like those in August and September.

And also remember this, kids: Every playoff team has an achilles heel or two.

There's an old adage in baseball, "Every team wins 60 and loses 60, it's what you do in the other 40 that defines your season". Well, the Cubs might not lose 60, actually, but would you bet $1,000 they're going to make it to the World Series in October? Yeah, me neither.

The Orioles are a lot of things, but "quitters" isn't one of them.

They're frustrated.

They're making some boneheaded mistakes at the worst possible time.

They're up there hacking away at pitches that have little possibility of providing them with something positive.

And even the manager has had an off-night or two recently.

But they are NOT quitting.

Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Schoop and Hyun Soo Kim proved that late in last night's game. Pedro Alvarez, Matt Wieters and Trumbo, again, proved that last Friday night in what might have been a season-saving 3-2 home win over Arizona where the Birds also trailed 2-0 heading into the 8th inning at Camden Yards.

It's always fun getting the last laugh when it's coupled with something dramatic, like Wednesday's 3-2 thriller in Toronto.

All the negative nillies come running back, thrilled to be part of such a memorable occasion.

And I'll be there again, tonight, watching and hoping for something good to happen. I expect I'll see it.

But if I don't, I won't be calling anyone quitters, that's for sure.

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four quarters of college football

Our college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with a mid-week look at what's going on across the country as conference play starts to heat up.

First Quarter: Unbalanced - The recent college football conference expansions were driven by two key financial factors. First the economic models pointed to expanded regional coverage. For example, the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers to capture the Washington, DC and New York markets, respectively.

Second, by adding teams and forming divisions, a conference championship game was created. The networks came with more money for this premium game; what have not come are great match-ups. One division of the four Power 5 conferences has dominated the title game (the Big 12 does not have divisions or a championship game – yet).

The imbalance in division strength also influences the weaker division champ and the title game due to the inter-division schedule. A team who is unfortunate and plays the other division’s stronger teams has a harder time winning their division as all conference games count in the standings.

This weekend’s top games could already set the tone for the eventual conference champions.

Second Quarter: Pac-12 North – Since the Pac-10 became the Pac-12, either Stanford or Oregon, representing the North, have won all five titles by a 20 point average margin of victory. Each year, Stanford and Oregon have battled for the North title, before easily defeating the South representative.

This year, it looks like Stanford again – the same Stanford winning formula (power running with a few big pass plays), two wins already over Pac-12 South teams (USC and UCLA), and Oregon’s and Cal’s lack of defense. If the Cardinal can defeat the up and coming Washington Huskies on Friday night, the rest of the regular season could be a victory lap.

Third Quarter: ACC Atlantic – Before the season, everyone eyed the Halloween clash between Clemson and Florida State as the battle for the ACC supremacy. After Louisville dominated Florida State, the Cardinals might be the scariest team. A victory at Clemson this Saturday would give Louisville essentially a two game lead on both of the preseason favorites.

Either Clemson or Florida State has won the ACC title over the last five years, but in fairly close games as three games were decided by one score. After this weekend, Louisville could use the next two months to prepare for the Coastal winner.

Fourth Quarter: Big Ten West – It’s not worth discussing the SEC West dominance as Alabama is probably on track to win their four division title during the West’s streak of eight straight conference championships (average margin of victory – 21 points). It is fun to discuss this year’s imbalance schedule impact to Wisconsin.

It’s one thing to face one or two tough inter-division foes. The 2016 Badgers are going for the trifecta - they play the top three teams from the stronger East division in back-to-back-to-back games. Last week Wisconsin traveled to East Lansing and beat Michigan State. This week the Badgers go back to Michigan to face the Wolverines. The last game of the trifecta is Ohio State – at least it's at home and after a bye.

Win two of three and Wisconsin could be representing the Big Ten West in the conference championship game.

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ryder cup preview: team usa

The 2016 Ryder Cup starts this Friday at Hazeltine GC, with the American team a slight favorite (somehow) over the European side that has lost the bi-annual event just twice since 1995.

Yesterday, we took look at the 12 players who comprise the European team, with Darren Clarke serving as their captain.

Today, let’s preview the American team, captained by Davis Love III.

Their best four --

Dustin Johnson -- His final round of the TOUR Championship aside, DJ comes in as the hottest player on the U.S. team. No one in golf drives it farther and straighter off the tee and his iron game is sharp. What's plagued him over the years has been inconsistency around the greens and with the putter. Those two things held up well for him in June during his U.S. Open win and throughout the FedEx Cup playoffs, but can he continue that fine play under the microscope of Ryder Cup play this week? Number of matches he'll play (out of a possible five): 5

While he hasn't won since last spring, Jordan Spieth will be one of the top U.S. performers at this week's Ryder Cup. We hope...

Jordan Spieth -- Didn't have a particularly great season and still won two tournaments. Has battled a balky driver for most of 2016, which affected his ability to get the ball on the green reasonably close enough to let his outstanding putter do the work it's capable of doing. One thing he does have, though, is "grit". He should be a Ryder Cup hero as his career unfolds because he's always on the verge of making a handful of putts that change the complexion of matches. Number of matches he'll play: 5

Phil Mickelson -- His crybaby act at yesterday's press conference -- where he lamented about Hal Sutton's captaincy in 2004 -- won't endear him to the PGA of America, but Mickelson is still a veteran Ryder Cup performer who is potentially a terrific partner for one of the long bombers like Koepka, Reed or Walker. Given that the U.S. has lost every Ryder Cup but two since 1993, Phil's career record of 16-19-7 is actually pretty decent. I expect he'll play well this week. Number of matches he'll play: 4

Patrick Reed -- Reed could the U.S. team's version of Sergio Garcia in these matches as his career blossoms. His fiery demeanor and willingness to stoke the European crowd could be a positive for the Americans this week, or it could create animosity. When he putts well, Reed is a tough guy to beat. It always comes down to his flat stick. He has the game to compete at this level, but needs to prove it again at Hazeltine. Number of matches he'll play: 4

And the rest...

This American team is far more experienced than the European side, which should play a huge role in the 3-day event that starts tomorrow. The U.S. team has more overall talent, too, but the Ryder Cup is usually more about "will" and less about "wins".

Jimmy Walker is coming off of his first major title at the PGA in late July and is potentially one of the team's unsung heroes. He hits it a long way and can get red-hot with the putter, as everyone saw at Baltusrol. Brooks Koepka is making his Ryder Cup debut, but an unflappable disposition and the ability to bomb it 330 off the tee should help calm any Ryder Cup nerves he might have come Friday morning/afternoon. Zach Johnson basically made the team off of his fine play in the summer of 2015 and a smattering of decent finishes in early 2016, but it's safe to say he's probably the American player who comes in playing the least impressive golf over the last four months. Still, he's a veteran in this competition and has an enormous amount of pride, which should keep him in every match. Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker are both cut from the same cloth, basically. They just go about their business, hitting fairways and greens and trying to make a putt or two along the way. They COULD be a formidable pairing in the alternate shot competition on Friday and Saturday. J.B. Holmes was a captain's pick and a deserving one, for sure, as he was as good as anyone in the majors who didn't win one of four big tournaments in 2016. His record in match-play competition (Walker Cup, Ryder Cup, President's Cup) is excellent, which should bode well for him this week.

The two x-factors for the U.S. team might very well be Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore. Both were added to the team as captain's picks by Davis Love III and each player joins the team with varying degrees of pressure. Fowler was a reasonable, yet perhaps controversial addition in that he didn't win a tournament all year and didn't even make the final event of the FedEx Cup at East Lake. He's a fine player, capable of winning on the international level, but his form over the summer wasn't anything special. Moore, meanwhile, basically took the last spot from Bubba Watson, who finished 9th in the point standings and narrowly missed making the team on his own, then got snubbed twice by Love during the captain's pick process. He's a solid player is Moore, but this is the Ryder Cup, not the John Deere Classic. The play of Fowler and Moore could be vital for the U.S. side this week.

Overview --

The American team has everything going for them. They're playing at home, with more experience, and two of the world's top three or four players (Spieth and Dustin Johnson) are on their team. The PGA has mowed the course down to its nubs, so there's not much rough and plenty of access into the dangerous Hazeltine green complexes. The "bombers" on the U.S. roster should have a field day as long as they can keep their ball on the course. While I won't go as far as saying it would be a shock if the Americans lose this weekend, I will say they SHOULD win and, perhaps, even comfortably. I'll make a few predictions in tomorrow morning's edition of #DMD, but safe to say, I'm picking the U.S. to win the event.

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only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.

September 28th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 28
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

buck says birds “weren’t engaged” in series opener loss to toronto

Like any good coach or manager, Buck Showalter wasn’t about to name anyone in particular after last night’s 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays dropped the O’s two full games behind Toronto in the wild card race.

But he certainly offered a rare public “swipe” at his team during a brief post-game interview with MASN’s Gary Thorne.

”We weren’t engaged in the game early on,” Showalter explained.

Kevin Gausman worked six innings on Tuesday night in the series opening loss to Toronto, but it was a first inning two run homer from Josh Donaldson that got his evening off to a rocky start.

Whether that was meant as a dig at Kevin Gausman, who walked the first batter he faced and gave up a 2-run dinger to Josh Donaldson moments later – or the first three hitters of his team all striking out in the opening inning – or a throw from Manny Machado somehow getting past Jonathan Schoop at second base and allowing a run to score later on – Showalter was clearly taking issue with something about his team’s performance in the series opening loss.

Toronto starter Aaron Sanchez buzzed through the Orioles lineup with ease on Monday night, whiffing ten while allowing just one run. Sanchez improved to 14-2 on the year with the victory.

Despite the World Cup of Hockey opener being played across the street in Toronto, the Blue Jays faithful came out in droves to the tune of 44,000+ at Rogers Centre. In case you’re counting, that’s double what the Birds drew for last Monday’s series opener in Baltimore against the Red Sox.

That Toronto – what a baseball city, eh?

Chris Davis made a fool of himself on Monday night, striking out three times in four at-bats and watching balls right over the plate without offering even the hint of a swing. He was eventually (thankfully) tossed from the game after striking out in the 7th inning on what was strike three in any league at any level…anywhere.

Rick Dempsey explained it all afterwards on the post-game show, though, telling Tom Davis and all of us still engaged enough to watch that “umpires have treated Davis poorly all season”. Dempsey then suggested the men behind the plate should be “lenient” with Davis given their harsh treatment of Captain Whiff this season.

Some of this stuff, honestly, you can’t make up even if you tried.

In the wild card race, the Tigers (73 losses) picked up a game on the O’s after beating Cleveland last night, but the Mariners (74) stayed two games behind after losing in Houston.

The O’s are still in good shape, playoff wise, but they need to win the next two games in Toronto to have a realistic chance of hosting next Tuesday’s wild card game vs. (apparently) the Blue Jays. Otherwise, the Birds will be back at Rogers Centre for a one-game, winner-take-all battle in the wild card affair.

There’s still the pesky little matter of finishing off this 2016 season with some wins, of course, and holding off Detroit and Seattle.

Tonight’s pitching match-up favors the Birds, as Chris Tillman opposes Francisco Liriano. The key for the O’s, without question, is to get to Liriano quickly enough to see a handful of those wobbly Toronto bullpen arms by, say, the 4th or 5th inning.

If the Birds can chase Liriano early, they’re a solid bet to win.

There is a “but”, though, and it involves those Baltimore bats.

Once again on Monday night, as they’ve done plenty over the last two weeks, the Orioles were sleepwalking at the plate for most of the 5-1 loss.

The O’s 1-2-3 hitters – Jones, Davis, Machado – went a combined 1-for-12 on Monday night, with Jones striking out three times and - I know you’ll be shocked by this – swinging at the first pitch with two runners on and two outs in the top of the 9th inning…and grounding into a game-ending double play.

We already covered Davis earlier. It’s remarkable how many third strikes he’s looked at this season. Whether it’s feeling the affects of the pressure that comes with a $23 million per-year contract or some kind of swing “glitch” or fundamental breakdown, Davis is just not getting the job done offensively.

Machado looked almost disinterested on Monday night. He only saw 14 pitches in four at-bats and was charged with a run-scoring throwing error in the 5th inning that extended Toronto’s lead to 5-1.

On the good side, Mark Trumbo, suffering through a terrible second half average-wise, collected two hits on the night, as did both Matt Wieters and Michael Bourn. Bourn also made a nice defensive play and proved worthy of Buck’s choice to start him over Hyun Soo Kim.

But one run won’t get it done against Toronto. Not last night, anyway.

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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.

Things sure can change fast in baseball, huh? Last Friday morning the Orioles and their fans were reeling from a devastating four game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox that essentially knocked them out of contention for the A.L. East crown. Less than 72 hours later, they were officially been eliminated from the divisional race, but a three game weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks left them leading Detroit for the second wild card spot by a game in the loss column.

And that's where they remain this morning after the Birds fell in Toronto last night and the Tigers snapped a 3-game losing streak by beating Cleveland.

Unfortunately, that's nowhere near the biggest story in MLB over the last few days. On Saturday night, Marlins' ace Jose Fernandez was one of the biggest superstars in the game, a 24 year old stud pitcher who looked like he'd be one of the game's very best players for 10-15 years.

Sunday morning, he was dead. Killed in a boating accident overnight.

On some level, I suppose there's not a whole lot I have to say about the topic. I didn't know Fernandez whatsoever, had never met him nor even been in the same stadium with him, honestly. All I knew of him came from seeing him on television and reading columns about him. An attempt to eulogize him would certainly ring hollow.

And yet, the news still leaves me with a profound sense of loss.

Much of that comes from what we've lost as baseball fans. As I said on Facebook Sunday, pitching often seems like an art form to me, and Fernandez's passing makes me sad for all that we'll never see or get to enjoy.

In much the same way you might lament the loss of new music or novels from a great guitarist or writer, I'm sad thinking about the dominant performances, nasty fastballs, and wicked changeups we'll never see. That pales in comparison to the personal loss, of course, but appreciating a person's work certainly means lamenting its loss.

On another level though I'm sad because Fernandez really does seem to be a pretty exceptional person. He attempted to defect from Cuba four times, and went to prison for the three unsuccessful tries. On one attempt, he jumped into the water to save his mother from drowning after she was knocked overboard.

Every player in Major League Baseball has worked hard and made sacrifices to reach that point, but it's fair to say that Fernandez endured more than most, and he came through it all with a million dollar smile intact.

It was telling, then, that Fernandez often ended up in the middle over baseball's fights over the unwritten rules.

Fernandez's exuberance and happy go lucky attitude often irked the "respect the game" crowd the wrong way, and there's perhaps no better example of how silly that attitude can be in hindsight. I mean, really, does it make any sense for someone like Brian McCann to lecture a guy who literally risked his life multiple times for the opportunity to make it to the major leagues about "respecting" the game because the latter, a pitcher, took an arbitrarily long amount of time to enjoy his first career home run?

Watching the many videos and GIFs of Fernandez's antics people have posted all over social media to day has made me smile several times, and I can't help but wonder about people who can watch, say, his amazed reaction to a Kenta Maeda slider or his uncontrolled exuberance at a Giancarlo Stanton walk off home run and not simply feel infected by his clear love and appreciation for the game.

And finally, reflecting on many of those cultural arguments in light of Sunday's tragic news has left me thinking that, for as much as we invoke the demand to "act like you've been there before," we don't ever really stop to consider the possibility that they may never be there again.

The slugger who flips his bat after a game changing home run in the playoffs may go the rest of his career without ever making it back to the postseason. The linebacker who dances after a sack might break his neck on the very next snap. The 24 year old ace pitcher with a decade or longer career and hundreds of millions of dollars in front of him might not simply be alive one morning.

When we're tempted to grumpily say "act like you've been there before," perhaps instead we ought to remember an equally famous saying to live each day as though it's our last. Because as we learned once again on Sunday, that one actually isn't just a glib cliche.

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ryder cup preview: team europe

The 2016 Ryder Cup starts this Friday at Hazeltine GC, with the American team a slight favorite (somehow) over the European side that has lost the bi-annual event just twice since 1995.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the 12 players who comprise the American team.

Today, though, let’s preview the European team, captained by Davis Love III.

Their best four --

Rory McIlroy-- Comes in on the heels of a 4-hole playoff win over Ryan Moore last Sunday at the TOUR Championship, capturing the FedEx Cup along the way. If his driver cooperates, look for him to dominate. When he’s hitting fairways and averaging 325 yards per-drive, he’s hard to beat. Number of matches he’ll play (out of a possible 5): 5

A former U.S. Open champion and experienced Ryder Cup star, expect Justin Rose to be one of Europe's leading players in this year's Ryder Cup at Hazeltine GC in Chaska, Minnesota.

Henrik Stenson-- Won the British Open in July and played well at the PGA before suffering from some late season back issues. Has plenty of Ryder Cup experience – some of it good, actually – but will only go as far as his on-again, off-again putter takes him. Number of matches he’ll play: 4

Sergio Garcia -- With a career record of 18-9-5 in the event, Garcia is truly a Ryder Cup legend. As good with his irons as anyone in the game, still. But it’s the putter that worries him most. If he putts well, he could be a game-changer for Team Europe.Number of matches he’ll play: 4

Justin Rose -- Without Ian Poulter to make 20 foot putts and act like a crazy man, the new candidate to become Europe's vocal leader is probably Rose, who, like most of the Englishmen, tends to get his game going just in time for three days of wizardry at the Ryder Cup. His strength lies in lack of weaknesses. Rose has perhaps the European team's best all-around game. He's a better putter than McIlroy, which might be the only area where the latter suffers from mediocrity. Rose is a big time player. Number of matches he'll play: 5

And the rest...

The rest of the European team isn't all that imposing, honestly.

Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer hasn't played all that well in the last 12 months but still earned a captain's pick selection, while Danny Willett won the Masters in April and then didn't much of anything thereafter. Willett will be making his Ryder Cup debut, along with Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick, Chris Wood and Thomas Pieters, all of whom will be playing in their first as well. If experience does indeed matter in this event, the American side has a huge advantage heading into the start of Friday's play.

The European team's X-factor might be veteran Lee Westwood, a captain's pick who has played in a whopping 41 career Ryder Cup matches (20-15-6). Westwood is a remarkably gritty player and a perfect example of why the European side has been so dominant over the last two decades. Simply put, he knows how to get the ball in the hole. Not a great putter, not a great short-game owner, but somehow none of that seems to matter every two years when the Ryder Cup comes around. If Westwood is on form this week, look for him to possibly play in four matches at least.

Overview --

If the American squad can't beat this European team, maybe we should change the format to include points for corporate logos on shirts and hats. This year's edition of the European roster is, no matter what Sergio Garcia contends, very inexperienced and ripe for the picking. That's not to say they don't have some unheralded performers. Fitzpatrick, Cabrera-Bello and Sullivan are all sneaky-good and only going to get better, but I just don't see them rising to the occasion in this Ryder Cup and being the difference for Team Europe.

We'll look at the American side in tomorrow's edition of #DMD.

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only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.

September 27th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 27
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you wanted playoff baseball -- and here it is, sort of

From 1998 through 2011, we never had anything even remotely close to what you're going to see tonight in Toronto.

Since 2012, we've had this three out of the last five years.

"It" is called "meaningful last week baseball", and it returns tonight for Orioles fans as the Birds head north to take on the Blue Jays in a pivotal 3-game series that could go a long way in pushing the Orioles into the post-season or driving them out.

The Blue Jays enter tonight's series opener with a one-game lead in the race after blowing a 3-2 9th inning last night to the visiting Yankees and losing 7-5. Seattle also coughed up a 9th inning lead in Houston on Monday night but came back to win the game, 4-3, on Robinson Cano's 11th home run. That leaves the Mariners just two games behind the Birds. Detroit's starting to crumble at just the right time as they lost their 3rd straight last night and now also trail the Birds by two games in the loss column.

So, for the O's, it comes down to this: Three games at Toronto and three with the still-barely-breathing Yankees, who will suffer their own ultimate indigity at some point over the next three nights as the Red Sox are going to capture the American League East on their turf in New York.

I've seen a lot of angst on social media over the last week as far as the O's are concerned. Everyone in town was outraged at the way the Red Sox came to town and thumped Buck's boys last week. I even saw some knucklhead on Twitter call the team "quitters".

The 4-game series loss to the Red Sox extinguished any hopes the O's had of winning the division and gave new life to the Mariners, Tigers, Astros and Yankees. But that's all part of the fun of September baseball, I suppose, as every at bat, every inning and every great play or seeing eye base hit could be remembered as a "season changer".

This all makes what happened last week in Baltimore -- attendance wise -- even more relevant. The Birds had a chance to make the American League East a 3-team race with 10 days left in the season and went winless in those four games. On the field, THEY failed. Off the field, the fan-base failed. I heard over and over and over, "What did the organization do to get people motivated to go down to the stadium?", to which I said, repeatedly, "They won. They were in position with ten days left in the season to win the division and no one bothered to show up for the most important series of the freakin' season."

But, without question, I'd much rather have the Orioles play these kind of games than have them sleepwalk through July and August and then get pounded in September, which was the way things went around here for the better part of a decade in the 2000's.

In those days -- it most certainly looked like a few teams quit with a few weeks left in the season.

But not this year.

We're getting playoff baseball a week early.

No matter what happens over these last six games, I'll take what we have in 2016 over what we had in 2006.

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the best six...and worst six

Every Tuesday here at #DMD, we breeze around the NFL and offer you our own version of "power rankings", where we simply tell you who the worst six teams in the league are and who the best six are, as well.

Anyone you don't see on those lists is situated comfortably in "the middle 20", somewhere.

There's been a shake-up in the Best Six, for certain. The Worst Six, I'm guessing, will look fairly similar every week. There are some bad teams in the league this season. Stinky-poo...

The Worst Six

28. San Francisco (1-2)-- After that season opening win over the Rams, the 49'ers have predictably bottomed out, losing to Carolina and Seattle in back-to-back weeks and getting their defense wrecked on both occasions. Maybe Chip Kelly will get it right out there eventually, but, for now, this team is going nowhere.

28. Tennessee Titans (1-2) -- I'm actually starting to think that the Titans might wind up scratching out a few wins later on in the season. Their defense isn't all that bad, as evidenced by the fact they've allowed just three touchdowns in their two home losses to Minnesota and Oakland. If they can get a little bit of offense, who knows?

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) -- Boy, are they bad. Mistake prone, too many penalties, lack of elite quarterback play. It all adds up to a pretty ugly situation in Jacksonville, where Gus Bradley should start gathering boxes and putting them in the basement for the moving people.

30. New Orleans Saints (0-3) -- Atlanta poured it on them last night, in New Orleans no less. When you're letting the Falcons smash you, that's a bad sign kids. The Saints' defense is horrendous. They can still go up and down the field with Drew Brees at the helm, but they're going to have to score 35 or more every week to win.

31. Chicago Bears (0-3) -- I guess they'll figure out a way to beat a couple of teams this year, but the Bears are setting up to have one of those 3-13 kind of seasons that makes them hit the re-boot button on their entire organization. They're awful. In fact, they could be the worst team in the NFL.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-3) -- Only the Browns could force a fumble in the game's final minute and then squander the 46-yard game-winning field goal attempt at the buzzer. Poor guys. Nothing to seems to fall their way. Against the Ravens, they fell victim to that terrible taunting call and then their kicker gets hurt in practice last Friday and they sign some dude who immediately goes 3-for-6 and costs them a win.

The Best Six

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)-- It was only game, sure, but the Steelers getting lit up like that by the Eagles sends them down the list -- and almost out of it, honestly. It's not a shock they lost to the Eagles, it's losing by 31 points that is the surprising part of it.

5. Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) -- OK, this Carson Wentz kid looks legit. Yes, it's an early sample size, but he's making all of the throws, standing tall, and looking nothing at all like a guy in his third regular season game. I saw someone on Twitter refer to him as "Carson Flacco" because of their respective college careers at the FCS level, but truth be told, Wentz's early play is far superior to that of Flacco's back in 2008.

4. Denver Broncos (3-0) -- I just assumed the Broncos were doing it with mirrors the first couple of weeks, but that win at Cincinnati was an eye opener. Maybe it tells us more about the Bengals than the Broncos, but Denver's defense continues to be stout and they're doing enough offensively to get the job done. I thought Denver was a .500 team in 2016. It's not looking that way.

3. Green Bay Packers (2-1) -- I'm still very bullish on Green Bay, although their defense has been a bit wobbly in two of the three games to date. Still, when you have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the defense can afford to bend a little here and there. It looks like they'll be in a dogfight with the Vikings all season.

2. Minnesota Vikings (3-0) -- I wasn't convinced the Vikings were even close to being legit until they went down to Carolina and whooped up on the Panthers last Sunday. That Minnesota defense is really, really good. If they can get decent QB play from Sam Bradford (which means, of course, he has to stay healthy) and figure out how to run the ball even a little bit without Adrian Peterson, they're going to be tough to beat because you won't be scoring a lot of points against them. They might be in over their heads at the #2 position here, but let's give them a little credit early on. They've been very good.

1. New England Patriots (3-0) -- It's hilarious how good they are up there in New England. No matter what Roger Goodell tries to do to them, Belichick still figures out a way to make chicken salad out of chicken manure. They might have to play this week's game against Buffalo without a quarterback. They'd still pull out a win somehow if that happens.

In the Super Bowl -- New England vs. Minnesota

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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.

Drew said it best in his preview for Sunday's game in Jacksonville: There are no style points when you're playing on the road in the NFL, and the only thing that matters is coming away with a win any way you can get it.

Still, the Ravens pushed that concept to the breaking point, somehow escaping Florida with their unbeaten record intact after one of the ugliest halves of football you'll ever see played at the professional level and despite multiple seeming attempts to give the Jaguars a charity victory. To the bullet points!

To start things off on a positive note, the defense really deserves a gold star for that game. The Jaguars have some legitimate talents at the wide receiver position and a quarterback who can sling the ball around, and for the most part they didn't have that much of an outcome on the game.

Sure Allen Robinson had two touchdown grabs, but if Devin Hester doesn't muff a punt those might have been the only points the defense gave up all day, and even then, holding the other team to 17 points is a winning effort in today's NFL.

The defensive line seemed to go missing for a good stretch of the second and third quarters, especially in the pass rush, but on balance they wrecked a ton of havoc against the run and the pass, the linebackers were ALL OVER the field making plays, and Eric Weddle (and Tavon Young!) continues to be a playmaker in the secondary. Oh, and don't look now, but that questionable secondary is presently part of the league's third ranked passing defense.

People may still be talking about #SwissPees on Twitter during games, but in actuality the defense has been top notch to start this season and is carrying the rest of the team again.

A decisive "C" grade to the special teams in every way. You just can't overlook that crucial muff by Hester and the big kickoff return the unit allowed in the third quarter, but on the other hand Justin Tucker and Sam Koch were an essential element of the victory, and a block kick likely saved any chance of the Ravens having a chance to win in the end.

These are better days for Joe Flacco in 2016, as the Ravens are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2009.

Now...about the offense. I fear that game in Jacksonville might be a good microcosm of what we can expect to see from the unit for the rest of the season, if only because it looks a lot like what we've seen from the offense during most of the Harbaugh/Flacco tenure.

There's no rhythm to the offensive system or playcalling at times, usually because they're either forcing a deep throw or a running play, and there's waaaaaaay too much reliance on field goals and not enough touchdowns scored.

I mean, it's impressive that Flacco threw for 21 straight completions, but it's really, really, not good that none of them went for touchdowns (though the pass that ended the streak very well could have but for a really nice defensive play against Mike Wallace in the endzone) and that an offense that got that kind of efficiency from their quarterback could only put the ball in the endzone one time in the entire game.

Some of that looks like lingering rust from the fact that Flacco just didn't get much time in in the preseason, and some of it is because the running game has been such a non-factor, even a hindrance. But some of that is on design too. The Ravens need to give up the pretense that they're a power running team just because of the logo on their helmets.

It's probably the single biggest factor in getting the offense off schedule, as running for 0-2 yards on most plays puts Flacco in tougher situations on passing downs, and severely limits the number of underneath routes you can work with, and that's predominantly where the team is excelling so far. They just don't have the offensive line personnel to run like that, first and foremost.

That's not to say they have a bad line, per se, but they're just not a group that's going to create a lot of running room against defenses putting 7 guys in the box. And that's fine, really. Most recent Super Bowl champions haven't really been built for that kind of offense either.

The Ravens could do themselves a real favor by taking a page out of the Pats/Steelers playbook and focus on getting the ball to guys like Wallace, Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken (remember him?) etc. in space, with blockers in front of them, to move the ball in bigger chunks on high percentage plays. That will both keep Flacco and the offense in rhythm and force defenses to loosen up their fronts to counter, in turn creating much more room for backs to run in.

It's not a coincidence that the offensive has been at its best this year when letting Flacco sling the ball around.

Speaking of Kamar Aiken, how is he not seeing more of the field a year after putting up 75 catches and 944 receiving yards? I realize there's a lot of talented skill position players vying for playing time on this team, but given how anemic the running game has been, would it really be such a radical idea to use some four receiver sets a bit more often?

Aiken is a good route runner who gets open, particularly when defenses are keyed on other players like Smith, Wallace, and Dennis Pitta, and that's exactly what this offense needs at the moment.

It only seems fair that I acknowledge what a great game Jags' rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey played, and how well he's performed early into his first year. He's certainly making my pre-draft evaluation of his abilities at the position look pretty silly.

So....this ended up being a pretty negative response to a win, didn't it? So to maintain some levity, let's remember that a win is a win, especially on the road and, hey, this could very well be the "W" that makes the difference in making the postseason or staying home in January.

But let's hope there's not too much back-patting going on at the castle, because in a lot of ways the negatives are more important going forward, especially on offense.

19 points and one touchdown might have been enough this week (though even then, it took a boneheaded penalty giving them a mulligan on the end of the first half field goal to even get that far), but it's hard to imagine that doing the job against Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and the Raiders this week, and even moreso once you get in to the actual meat of this schedule and start playing teams that are real playoff contenders.


get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 24 of the 40 seats thus far, so 16 are still available.

September 26th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 26
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

you’ll be thankful for those three wins in december

I know, I know.

The Ravens were lucky.

If Jacksonville didn’t commit a bunch of bonehead penalties and then try to throw the freakin’ ball on 3rd and 6 with 3:10 left in the game, up by a point, the Ravens might be 1-2.

But they’re not 1-2.

They’re 3-0. And even though folks around town want to call them “terrible”, “sorry” and “not very good”, the Ravens are one of only five teams in the NFL who haven’t yet lost this season.

When you play these scrub teams like Buffalo, Cleveland and Jacksonville (one win between them thus far in 2016), you’re supposed to beat them. And, yes, it would have been nice to win 24-3, 24-3 and 24-3, but it’s a crazy league and bad teams – like Cleveland last week and Jacksonville this week – figure out a way to lose just like good teams have a habit of doing whatever they need to do to win.

Two field goals vs. Buffalo, three at Cleveland and four in yesterday's win over Jacksonville. Safe to say, Justin Tucker's the Ravens' MVP thus far in 2016.

It wasn’t a great day for Joe Flacco, despite throwing 21 straight completions at one point in the game. He displayed a rare dash of mobility with a first quarter touchdown scamper but didn’t look all that sure of himself throughout the second half and missed badly on a couple of throws that helped keep Jacksonville in the game.

It also wasn’t a good day for the Baltimore offensive line, who couldn’t run block for squat and spent most of the second half retreating. Ronnie Stanley, Jeremy Zuttah and Rick Wagner were particularly ineffective, as the Jacksonville defense actually stiffened as the game went on.

Fortunately, the Ravens’ defense also tightened up in the fourth quarter, with four sacks of Blake Bortles, including two from Terrell Suggs.

The last Suggs sack was one of the key plays of the game and proof-positive that coaching does matter every Sunday.

Ahead 17-16 and facing 3rd and 6 on the Baltimore 25-yard line, the Jaguars inexplicably called for a pass play, which resulted in Bortles being hauled down for a 9-yard loss by Suggs and turning a 42-yard field goal attempt into one from 51 yards, which was blocked by Brent Urban.

If the Jaguars run it there and just pick up two yards, say, they’re facing what is essentially a chip shot for a NFL kicker – 40 yards. Instead, they lost nine yards and the ensuing blocked field goal set up Baltimore’s short-game-winning drive.

Oh, and those Jacksonville penalties. After being flagged 23 times in their first two games, the Jaguars continued to draw the laundry in the loss to the Ravens.

That’s NOT necessarily coaching, but it’s again evidence of a team that can’t win despite the opposition’s best efforts to help them do so.

The Ravens weren’t great on Sunday. Not even close.

And it’s truly hard to figure out if they’re actually going to be any good come December. Right now – and it’s a small sample size – the offense is pretty dismal and the defense is pretty decent.

The running game should perk up a bit when rookie running back Kenneth Dixon gets back from injury, but it’s also fair to remember he’s a first-year player who will need some time to get acclimated to the pro game.

The offensive line, though, has been very hot and cold, and that’s with all of their horses in there. If there’s one area where the team’s depth would be exposed with an injury or two, it’s in that department.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, the Ravens are just an “OK” team, nothing more. They’re 3-0 based largely on the fact they haven’t played anyone worth a hoot yet.

This time last year, they were 0-3. They started with a brutal schedule. And they got wrecked with injuries fairly quickly.

So far in 2016, they’re 3-0. Calvert Hall has played a tougher schedule in September. And they haven’t had ONE key injury in the first three weeks of the season, although Elvis Dumervil will likely be an asset when he makes his debut sometime soon.

That all adds up to three wins in three tries, which is the best thing you can be at this point.

Sometime in December when they’re 7-5, we’ll look back at those early wins and say, “Sure glad we won those games in September…”

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show me the money in week #3

A 3-3 Sunday has me 9-9 through three weeks of the NFL season, which is a far cry from the 5-10 start I had a year ago (we only “counted” five games per-week last year, but in 2016 I’m counting the Ravens game every week as well).

And, predictably, the mere mention that I should go against the Redskins – but did anyway – came back to haunt me, as Washington covered and won outright at MetLife Stadium vs. the Giants.

The one good thing? My coin flip effort at picking the Chargers-Colts winner went the right way, as Indianapolis scored a late TD to win by four points. So, next Sunday, I’ll flip the coin for TWO games and see how I do.

For the record on Sunday, I was right on the Vikings, Colts and Chiefs and wrong on the Giants, Jaguars and Bengals.

Sunday, September 25: 3-3

Total record to date: 9-9

Ravens only: 1-2

Best Bet of The Day: 1-2

For kicks and giggles, tonight, I’m going with the Saints (-2.5). For entertainment purposes only, of course.

around the nfl in thirty seconds

Bills 33 – Cardinals 18 -- Crazy league. Arizona blows out Tampa, loses at Buffalo in 80 degree weather. Bizarre.

Raiders 17 – Titans 10 -- Oakland’s defense finally showed up. Ravens will have their hands full next Sunday.

Dolphins 30 – Browns 24 OT -- Only the Browns would miss a game-winning FG from 46 yards out at the buzzer. Hilarious…

Redskins 29 – Giants 27 -- Well, now we know the Giants aren’t any good. How on earth did they lose to Washington?

Packers 34 – Lions 27 -- Another field day for Aaron Rodgers against that awful Detroit defense. Not a shock…

Broncos 29 – Bengals 17 -- Does this one say more about Denver or the Bengals? Broncos might be legit after all.

Vikings 22 – Panthers 10 -- That Minnesota defense is the real deal. If their offense turns out to be decent, watch out.

Rams 37 – Buccaneers 32 -- The Rams hadn’t scored a TD in the first two weeks. Then they score 37 at Tampa. The league…is nuts.

Seahawks 37 – 49’ers 18 -- I hope San Francisco enjoyed that season opening win over the Rams.

Chiefs 24 – Jets 3 -- Kansas City’s a weird team. Hot and cold. This week, though, they were hot.

Colts 26 – Chargers 22 -- Indy isn’t very good but it doesn’t appear as if San Diego is any good, either.

Eagles 34 – Steelers 3 -- How are those Antonio Brown fantasy owners doing these days?

Cowboys 31 - Bears 17 -- Not sure how the Bears are going to win any games this season.

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last six games will decide o’s season

It is what it is at this point.

The Orioles’ 2016 campaign has come down to the final six games.

The Birds finished off a 3-game sweep of the Diamondbacks on Sunday with 2-1 win that pushes the O’s to 85-71, good for a one-game lead in the loss column over Detroit and two games over Seattle.

So now, it’s off to Toronto, where the Blue Jays await with the wild card game “hosting rights” on the line for both teams. Toronto currently has two less losses than the Birds at 86-69, with a Monday home game against the Yankees to play before welcoming the O’s to town.

Manny Machado was named the O's 2016 MVP at the regular season home finale vs. Arizona.

After the Tues-Wed-Thur series in Canada, the Orioles finish the regular season in New York against the Yankees next weekend.

Detroit (83-72) has four home games with Cleveland this week, starting tonight, then finishes the season with a 3-game road trip at Atlanta, who has actually played fairly well in September.

Seattle (82-73) and Houston (82-74) play three games this week starting tonight in Houston, then the Mariners finish with a four-game home series against hapless Oakland while the Astros finish at Los Angeles against the Angels.

The Orioles need to get to 89 wins to secure the wild card spot, in my opinion.

88 wins might do it, but 89 is the number they need to reach if they don’t want to sweat things out.

It would be nice to win a couple in Toronto and two or three in New York and try and snatch that wild game home contest away from the Blue Jays, but at this point, just getting into the post-season is enough of a goal to chase.

I love the fact that Boston can’t lose right now, having claimed eleven straight victories after Sunday’s 3-2 win at Tampa Bay. They can’t keep playing like this for the next three weeks. Maybe the Red Sox will be an easy mark come October.

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ryan moore loses, then wins, as ryder cup call comes his way

Ryan Moore broke the cardinal rule last Monday and still got away with it.

When U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III summoned a number of non-Ryder Cup players to Minnesota on September 19 for a practice round at Hazeltine GC, it was thought to be a "audition" of sorts for a number of guys on Love's radar screen as he prepared to make his final captain's pick for this year's U.S. team.

A number of players on the outside-looking-in, like Bubba Watson, Daniel Berger and Justin Thomas, all agreed to play and showed up at Hazeltine ready to impress the boss.

Ryan Moore will make his first-ever Ryder Cup appearance next weekend at Hazeltine after captain Davis Love III added him to the team on Sunday evening.

Moore was asked to make the trip but politely declined, saying he needed that day to practice at East Lake GC in Atlanta and prepare for the season's final event, the TOUR Championship.

Most observers felt that was a mistake on Moore's part, turning down the captain and all, and just about everyone with an opinion scratched him off their short list.

Davis Love III kept him on the list, though, and rewarded Moore for his outstanding play at the event in Atlanta by adding him to the Ryder Cup team last night with his final pick.

Moore lost in a playoff yesterday to Rory McIlroy, who made birdie on the fourth extra hole to win the tournament and the FedEx Cup in the process. Moore got a nice check (tied for 2nd) and an even bigger payout later on when Love III called him to add him to the U.S. team that will Europe starting this Friday.

Love III managed the process well over the last two weeks, holding a luncheon with all the players he was considering and then inviting them to Hazeltine for a practice round to see if they fancied the course and to show off a bit for him, as if he needed to know for certain they were all capable of playing solid golf.

Moore stuck to his own game plan, though, and did his prep work at East Lake, where Love III saw first hand yesterday that his newest team member can operate under the pressure of big time golf.

Who knows? Maybe Moore and McIlroy will see other again next Sunday at Hazeltine in the singles.

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September 24th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 24
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another item gone from the bucket list

There was a time, roughly 40 years ago, when the only college football team that mattered was in South Bend, Indiana.

The University of Maryland wasn’t even on the radar in my neighborhood in Glen Burnie. There was no outreach, no marketing, no nothing. Maryland football basically didn’t exist.

But Notre Dame sure did.

I’d watch the games on Saturday with my Dad and even though we weren’t Catholic, there was something about the Fighting Irish that connected with my family.

Their games were always featured on television which sort-of made them “America’s team”. The annual early winter games against USC were legendary. To me, Notre Dame WAS college football.

As the years went by, I grew less and less interested in Notre Dame, but only because I just had too much other stuff going on in my life to remain devoted to them on a weekly basis.

Another "Bucket List" trip from #DMD will send 20 people to Notre Dame this afternoon for the Irish/Duke football game.

But I always wanted to go to South Bend and see a football game. I just never made it.

Until today.

#DMD makes another bucket-list trip this weekend when 20 of us head to South Bend, courtesy of our friends at Kelly Payroll, to see the Fighting Irish take on Duke at 3:30 pm later today.

We’ll be up at o-dark-thirty to board a first-thing flight for Chicago, then bus 100 miles to South Bend, arriving there around 11 am.

Our group will do the entire game-day experience on the campus of Notre Dame, do some friendly tailgating with food and drinks, then head into the famous stadium to see the Irish battle the Blue Devils.

And we’ll be back in Baltimore before noon on Sunday so everyone has a chance to get home and see the Ravens beat up on Jacksonville.

When #DMD first kicked off in 2014, I never really expected “bucket list travel” would become such a fun part of my venture.

I did a lot of group traveling when I was in the radio business, and remember vividly sitting on a jam packed bus coming back from Pittsburgh or Cleveland and thinking to myself, “If I ever did this…I’d do things a lot differently.”

Over the last 26 months, we’ve gone to Augusta, Phoenix, Washington DC, New England, Pittsburgh, Boston and Philadelphia.

We’ve seen football, baseball, basketball and hockey games.

We’ve toured the famed layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

We’ve watched Springsteen and Adele.

We’ve played golf for five days in Arizona.

And we were privileged to see one of the best Army/Navy games of the last 20 years last December.

We’ve done a lot of really cool stuff.

And today, we add Notre Dame football to that list.

I’m excited to add other “bucket list” events to the schedule in the next calendar year.

We’ll be heading back up to The Palestra in Philadelphia during the upcoming college basketball season. If you haven’t yet made it up there, please make it a point to join us for a wonderful night of basketball on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

We’re hoping to take in both Caps and Wizards action this coming season, plus Ravens playoff action if, of course, they get that far next January.

I’m always up for suggestions from those of you think you might have a great “bucket list trip” to add. We typically require at least 16 people to make the trip a reality, but I’m all ears if you have any suggestions.

This weekend, I’m finally crossing off “visit Notre Dame stadium” from my personal bucket list.

It’s a trip about 40 years in the making.

help stamp out prostate cancer this weekend

Our friends at Summit Insurance, who sponsored last year’s trip to the Army/Navy game in Philadelphia, are doing some outstanding work in our community this weekend and we wanted to pass along their information with hopes you might lend your support.

Marissa Waskiewicz of Summit is involved in the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk this Sunday at Towson University and is running in memory of her father, Gary, who recently passed away due to a rare form of prostate cancer.

If you’d like to make a donation for her efforts in the race, go to:

Marissa is also involved in a project that we'll tell you about here at #DMD on Monday...keep your lunch plans open for Monday, especially if you're in the Hunt Valley/Cockeysville/Timonium area.

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about that steve clevenger suspension

This is probably not a dance for me, but I hear the music and the lights are blinking rapidly, so I might as well make an appearance.

Steve Clevenger, the Mount Saint Joseph high school grad and erstwhile Oriole, was suspended yesterday by the Seattle Mariners for a series of racially-charged tweets connected to the on-going situation in Charlotte, North Carolina.

To say that the Mariners had no choice but to do somethingwith Clevenger is more than accurate. They simply couldn’t stand by without making some type of public statement.

So, they suspended him.

That’s quite a statement.

Too harsh, perhaps.

You can't just say whatever you want these days

But for every action there’s a reaction, and these days – especially in the high profile world of professional sports – you’re always better off over-reacting than under-reacting.

I’m not saying it’s better to over-react in general. No, no.

I’m saying it’s better for the team if they over-react. It shows they’re really trying to drive home the point that they don’t endorse something as negative and lightning-rod’ish as what Clevenger said, for example.

If you look at what Clevenger tweeted in one of the two insensitive tweets, something VERY obvious sticks out.

There were three sentences associated with one of them he posted on Thursday: BLM (Black Lives Matter) is pathetic again. Obama you are pathetic once again. Everyone should be locked behind bars like animals.

What sticks out?

The first two sentences, while certainly flush with opinion and the obvious reality that Clevenger is neither a supporter of the BLM “movement” or the President of the United States, are easily accepted on the basic premise that anyone in this country is entitled to voice their opinion via the “free speech” angle.

Whether any of us agree or disagree with what Clevenger said in those first two sentences, the fact of the matter is that nothing he said there was a violation of anyone’s civil rights.

Those first two sentences were, for sure, acceptable under the standard of “free speech”. You don’t have to like what he said, but you have to at least be OK with the fact that one of the things we do in this country is give everyone the chance to say what they want.

Alas, it’s the last sentence that got Clevenger in hot water. And not even the full sentence, actually. Just the last two words.

Everyone should be locked behind bars like animals.

Game, set, match.

If he would have stopped right there, at “bars”, he probably would have been able to weasel out of the whole fiasco.

Everyone should be locked behind bars.

If he’s referring to looters and protestors who damage businesses, property and, potentially harm other human beings, it’s certainly reasonable to assert – as your OPINION – that those people belong behind bars.

But they shouldn’t be treated like animals.

The Mariners couldn't act as if nothing happened

And that’s where the Mariners had to draw the line, in my opinion.

None of it was any good, of course, because everything that’s said, done or tweeted these days has to be carefully picked apart and thrust into the spotlight so we can determine for ourselves if that person has the “right” to do what he or she is doing.

Colin Kaepernick’s knee-during-the-anthem stunt…

Does he have the right to do that? Absolutely he does.

I’m on record as saying I don’t believe Kaepernick should be doing it while wearing the uniform of his employer, but that’s neither here nor there when it comes to the issue of whether it’s his right to not stand during the playing of the national anthem.

Steve Clevenger offering his opinion on the situation in Charlotte…

That’s his right as well. Without question, Clevenger can speak his mind on the events going on in North Carolina.

But he, too, has to face the consequences of being connected with his employer, just like Kaepernick and others have faced their own, losing corporate sponsors along the way as America is forced to choose sides on an issue that actually has no clear cut winner or favorite.

Clevenger might have been OK if he wouldn’t have thrown in those two words: like animals.

Once he said that, the tone of the message took on something ugly. It became more than an opinion. It just wasn’t a baseball player making a political statement anymore, it was a baseball player going overboard.

The Mariners might not have done the right thing by suspending him, but they did the ONLY thing they could do.

They couldn’t look the other way. Ignoring the situation could have been construed as endorsing it as well.

Their locker room might have been divided, for starters, and they have eight or nine baseball games to win between now and October 2nd in order to possibly steal a playoff spot.

They have African American players, fans and decision makers in corporations who align themselves with the team. Turning away and doing nothing wouldn’t have been much of a show of support for anyone who was offended by what Clevenger said.

The Mariners didn’t have a choice in this case.

That tweet might be Clevenger's "Ray Rice video"

And no matter how much he apologizes, Clevenger will have this episode hanging over his head next spring when he tries to latch on with a new team somewhere.

He’s finished in Seattle, you can make book on that.

Sadly, this might be a career killer for him as well.

This isn’t 1976. It’s 2016. The times have changed.

You’re more responsible for what you say now than ever before.

Steve Clevenger found that out on Friday.

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get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 24 of the 40 seats thus far, so 16 are still available.

September 23rd
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 23
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and the division now gone

This is that piece at #DMD that I hoped I wouldn't have to write.

It took until September 23rd, which is perhaps a small moral victory, but the jury has reached its verdict and I'm here to write it.

At the beginning of the season, I predicted the Orioles would win the American League East in 2016.

I was wrong. They aren't going to win it after all.

The improbable four-game sweep by Boston at Fenway Park South was finished off last night with a 5-3 win over the Birds that not only leaves the Orioles out of the chase for the division crown, but has pushed them to the outside-looking-in of the American League wild card race as well.

Although he said afterwards his right shoulder felt fine, Chris Tillman's start on Thursday was anything BUT fine. He was gone before the Red Sox came to bat in the third inning, allowing five hits and three earned runs in the O's 5-3 loss to Boston.

With Detroit's doubleheader sweep of the Twins on Thursday, the Tigers (82-70) moved ahead of the O's (82-71) for the apparent right to play Toronto in a one-game playoff series.

I never thought the Orioles were anything other than division champions until this fiasco with the Red Sox occurred in Baltimore over the last four nights.

Boston came into the series up by just three games. Anything was possible at that point. If the Birds could have won three of four, the deficit would have been just one game with nine games to play.

If, if, if...

It didn't work out that way. Instead, the Red Sox unthinkably captured all four games.

At least Thursday night's crowd was completely embarrassing, unlike the first three of the series. Almost 28,000 people showed up on Thursday (make that, almost 28,000 tickets were sold...) to see the series finale, but even an average night at the gate couldn't help the Orioles offense wake up, as they generated a total of just six hits vs. three Boston pitchers.

We'll get much more into what happened with this September swoon at a later date, but the numbers and the suspects are easy to dissect.

No one except for J.J. Hardy has hit worth a hoot in the final month of the regular season, and the second half offensive numbers for Trumbo, Davis and Schoop are woeful. If not for the home run, the Birds would probably only have about 18 wins since mid-July.

For as maligned as the starting rotation has been most of the season, this collapse is most certainly not on them. Chris Tillman struggled last night, yes. But the Birds eventually scrambled back to tie the game at 3-3 early enough (3rd inning) that Tillman's poor outing didn't crush them. The bats -- the ones that worked so efficiently in April, May and June -- just went silent in the summer months.

We could certainly nitpick a few things about Thursday's loss, but that might be overkill at this point. Trey Mancini led off the 6th inning with a double and the O's -- trailing 4-3 -- looked like they might be in business to tie game up with a couple of productive at-bats. That situation called for a bunt to get Mancini to third, but Buck Showalter instead sent Jonathan Schoop up there to swing away, which he gladly did, of course.

Schoop grounded out, Hardy flew out and Drew Stubbs -- I hope he rented a place here in Baltimore and didn't buy something -- struck out to end the inning and, perhaps, the Orioles division title hopes.

In the next inning, Showalter went with lefty Donnie Hart to start the inning vs. David Ortiz and that move again paid off as the big guy grounded out to second base to start things off.

Job done for Hart, right?

Wrong. Showalter left him in there to face hot-hitting right hander Hanley Ramirez, and the Boston first baseman promptly parked one over the right field wall to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead.

Prior to September 1st, I guess Showalter could make the argument that he had two left handed hitters coming up in the inning (Ortiz and Shaw) and just needed Hart to get a righty out (Ramirez) along the way.

Last night, though, there were a bunch of right handed arms available to go after Ramirez. He, not Shaw, was the bothersome at bat at that point, but Showalter insisted on staying with Hart in that situation and Ramirez won the battle.

I get it, Hart has been VERY good so far this season and the Ramirez homer was the first run he's allowed in 19 appearances, but when it's post-September 1 and the bullpen is littered with arms, you do the match-up thing as much as you need to in order to hopefully gain the advantage.

Buck's a fine manager, but those two blunders were costly last night.

What was more costly, though, and has been for this homestand where the Birds are 2-6, is Baltimore anemic offense.

First pitch swinging, bad pitch swinging, it all runs together at this point. In the final two games of the series with Boston, the Birds managed just ten total hits. You're not winning games in the American League like that.

Now, the playoffs are in the balance, as Baltimore finishes the season with Arizona (they stink, but they have some very good offensive players and can put numbers up against you) at Camden Yards this weekend and then road visits to Toronto and New York to finish off the season.

So many teams are still alive in the wild card race I won't list their schedules here, yet, until we get to next Monday, but the team slightly ahead of the O's now, Detroit, finishes the season with three at home vs. K.C., four at home vs. Cleveland, and a three game series at Atlanta next weekend to close out the regular season.

I was hoping I wouldn't have to write this piece in September.

Alas, I've written it.

The Orioles fought valiantly, but they are not going to win the A.L. East.

I'm sure glad it's Bruce Springsteen's birthday today or else I'd really be down in the dumps.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

It will be another early wakeup call on Saturday as Matchday 6 of the English Premier League is bookended by two potential table topping encounters with the rest of the weekend, and Monday, set to give us a clearer picture of the bottom table as we move through the first quarter of the season.

As usual, you can catch all of the action live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, September 24 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Leicester City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Man United has lost three of their last four under new manager Jose Mourinho and it doesn't get any easier this weekend as defending EPL champ Leicester City makes their way to Old Trafford.

With goals on either side of the halftime break, Leicester City’s club record summer signing Islam Slimani made quite the impression in his Premier League debut, as the Algerian international’s double helped the Foxes to a 3-0 victory over Burnley. Both Slimani and Leicester will hope for a repeat performance when they travel to Old Trafford and the Theater of Dreams to take on Manchester United, who managed to level after falling behind against Watford but were ultimately done in by two late goals to slump to their second consecutive league defeat and third across all competitions in a weeks’ time 3-1.

While their perfect start to the Jose Mourinho era in the league prior to the international break may now seem like a distant memory for those on the red side of Manchester, they may actually welcome the upcoming visit from the defending league champions who, after losing only three times in the all of last season, have already failed to take points in two of their first five league games so far this year and whose past trips to Manchester have been more like a nightmare than a dream, with only one win in their last eighteen visits (D5 L12) and just one in their last sixteen meetings overall (D3 L12).

10am – Manchester City @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC Live Extra

While the mood on one side of Manchester may be dark and dreary as of late, they are still on cloud nine on the blue side of town as Pep Guardiola and Manchester City remained perfect on the year when they cruised past Burnley 4-0, marking their best start to a campaign across all competitions since 1898. After beating Swansea City 2-1 in their mid-week League Cup clash, they will once again return to Wales this weekend to square off with the Swans, whose third loss in their last four (D1) kept them winless in the league since the seasons opening weekend following a 1-0 defeat to Southampton.

The mid-week Cup loss made it four in a row across all competitions for the Swans, with their early season struggles putting manager Francesco Guidolin behind only Stoke City manager Mark Hughes as the bookies favorite as the first to get the sack this year. He is unlikely to relish the site of another visit from the Citizens, with his side managing only one win in their last twelve league meetings against City (D1 L9) and who will be back to full strength with the return of striker Sergio Aguero, who has scored nine goals in just five matches across all competitions this season, from his three game suspension.

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sports Network

The Saturday slate of games concludes with a primetime London Derby when Chelsea, who suffered their first set back in the league against Liverpool last Friday after going unbeaten in their first four games under new manager Antonio Conte, travel across the capitol to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners grabbing their third consecutive victory following what now seems to be their annual tradition of opening weekend capitulations in a comfortable 4-1 victory over ten-man Hull City to move level in the table on points with the Blues.

While Arsenal will be gunning for their fourth successive league win for the first time in almost two years, they enter another early season crunch match winless in their last five London Derbies at the Emirates and in a poor run of form against their London neighbors, failing to take all three points in any of their last nine league meetings with Chelsea (D3 L6) and, since pulling the double over the Blues during the 2010/2011 season, with just one win in their last eleven encounters across all competitions (D3 L7) where they have been outscored by a staggering seventeen to three goal margin.

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happy 67th birthday to the greatest of them all

”We learned more from a three minute record, baby, then we ever learned in a school.”

That line from Bruce Springsteen’s song “No Surrender” isn’t necessarily true about everyone, but it sure struck a chord with me when I first heard the song twenty-some years ago.

School was never on my “favorite’s list”. I went a lot. In fact, from the 4th grade through the 7th grade I didn’t miss one day. Really. Not one.

On this date in 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey a music icon was born.

But going to school and doing the work? Not my strong suit.

So, maybe I’m the guy Bruce was talking about – “we learned more from a three minute record, baby, then we ever learned in school.”

Lots of things about Bruce’s music have connected with me over the years. I remember where I was the first time I heard a song from “The Boss” and I’ve listened to all 314 of his songs over the last 40 years.

Bruce turns 67 years old today. I’m not eloquent enough to write a 5,000 homage to him, which could speak to my creative limits or it simply might explain part of the mystery behind why I’m such a fanatic. I know how much the music and the lyrics mean to me, but I just can’t say it the right way.

Those of you who have children might understand it a little better. I have two, a boy and a girl. If someone asks you to describe the level of love you have for your children, you simply can’t do it justice.

I can’t describe why Springsteen’s music affects me so much. It just does.

The things he writes and sings about the most are inner-struggle concepts that all of us have likely encountered in our lifetime. Whether that’s work, school, girls (boys), our parents, and other relationship frictions, Bruce has always been able to phrase it in such a way that it comes across as if he’s saying, “I’ve been there, done that, you’ve been there, done that, and somehow, we’re both still doing OK.”

While Bruce’s life certainly doesn’t mirror our life, wealth wise, it most certainly resembles our life in virtually every other aspect. When he’s on the road, touring with the band, he’s working 6-8 hours every day just like the rest of the great unwashed. And it’s work, too. Fun work? Sure. Eurphoric work? Probably, yes. But it’s work in every sense of the word.

A close friend of mine has daughters who are college athletes in the “equestrian” field. Springsteen’s daughter attends an ACC school and rides horses competitively for said college. My friend sees Bruce at various events throughout the school year in jeans, sweatshirt, baseball hat and sunglasses…just like a regular Dad, he is.

It always warms my heart to hear those stories, because we can’t hide from the fact that we tend to view celebrities as something other than “regular people”. On stage, they’re not. At their daughter’s college horse jumping event, they most certainly are.

Bruce has always been “regular people”, save for his gift for song writing and playing the guitar, I suppose. Those things separate him from the rest of us, but the experiences and stories he crafts from his own life and times are as unique as those you’ve been a part of in your own days.

We just can’t write it and sing it like he can, but our own joys, sorrows, ups, downs, triumphs, defeats, struggles and foes overcome are just as interesting as Bruce’s because they’re authentic and memorable.

Therein lies the hidden bolt that connects us to him, I guess. Other than the obvious – big houses, album covers, Grammy Awards and more money than he knows what to do with – he could be us. In some ways, a lot of ways, actually, he has been us. Things just turned out differently for Bruce because he has as a gift.

Admittedly, Springsteen’s music is most certainly compartmentalized under the file of “to each his own”. Some people like the hits, some like the back of the rack stuff. Longtime fans love the early days – Greetings from Asbury Park and the like – while others didn’t discover him until ten years ago and wouldn’t know anything about “Kitty’s Back” unless they stumbled upon it through Bruce’s Sirius channel.

I’m a fan of his career anthem, “Born To Run”, but it’s nowhere near my favorite song. Not even close. Is it his best work, ever? Sure. The music, the instrumention, the lyrics, the theory, the outcome – it’s as magical as anyone has ever produced. But you CAN be a Springsteen devotee and not count “Born To Run” as your favorite song.

And in keeping with that “to each his own” theme, I’ve subscribed to the idea for a long time now that Springsteen’s BEST and most riveting work is the stuff you’re not liable to hear at a concert anytime soon. Like one of Elton John’s best songs ever is the little known “Harmony”, some of Bruce’s greatest musical contributions have been almost-hidden-gems on albums with far greater songs of mass consumption.

I’ve put together a video compilation below of five Springsteen songs that are, in my opinion, as good as anything he’s ever done…and unless you’re a junkie of Bruce and the E Street Band, there’s a chance you’ll watch these videos and hear those songs and say, “Hmmm, never heard that one before.”

Or, at the very least, you’ll hear those songs again and say, “You know, I’ve heard that one before, but never realized just how freakin’ good it really is.”

The first song you’ll hear below is, BY FAR, the best piece of writing he did on his album, “The Rising”, which largely centered on the 9-11 attacks of the Twin Towers in New York City. He wrote it as an ode to the fire and police professionals who perished as the two buildings collapsed, and said, later, that he informally attended the funeral of three fallen firemen and went home to immediately write the lyrics.

While it’s application at that point was connected to the 9-11 attacks, anyone who has lost a family member or a close friend can relate to the theme of “You’re Missing”. Bruce expertly uses the sad, overwhelming tones of violin and organ to create a dark mood on the song which, to me, makes it one of the best things he’s ever done, despite the fact it’s hardly known except to diehards of The Boss.


The next song, “Save My Love”, was originally intended for his late ‘70’s album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, but Bruce pulled it at the last minute because he felt like the album already had a couple of love songs (Prove It All Night, The Promised Land) and was leery of, as he said recently, having it become “too sappy” for the sound he was going for on the record.

It’s over quickly, racing from start to finish in a mere 2:36, and proving to anyone willing to listen that great music doesn’t require five or more minutes to capture you. The pacing of the music to the lyrics is nearly perfect. Nothing’s jammed in there, no words are out of sync….it’s as seamless as you’ll find any piece of Bruce’s sound.


Although he didn’t specifically address the song’s origin in a recent interview where he discussed his 1970’s song writing, he did say, “Some of the stuff I wrote back then, like Save My Love, was sort of a futuristic look at what it might be like to be a rock star and have someone at home waiting for you who isn’t there at that moment.”

Anyone who has ever traveled for a living or otherwise been disconnected from their loved ones for some short or extended period of time can relate to that theme. “Hang in there for me, please. I promise – I WILL return for you, love intact.”

The third song below, “Walk Like A Man”, is Bruce’s effort to embrace his father, with whom he struggled, relationship-wise, but was nonetheless raised to love and adore despite his dad’s lack of public (and private) affection for his son.

”All I can think of is being five years old and following behind you at the beach, tracing your footprints in the sand…trying to walk like a man.”

Every boy blessed with a father in their life – meaning, really IN their life -- can understand those powerful lyrics. We all did it, I assume. Whether your relationship with your Dad turned out to be spectacular or regrettable, there was, I’m certain, a time when you wanted to be just like him. Or, at the very least, follow in his footsteps minus the mistakes he taught you not to make.

Of the songs Bruce wrote over the years that were either intentionally or unintentionally designed to showcase his relationship with his father, this one was the best of them all. It leads the listener on a journey that’s easy to picture, the eerie mention about the beach and the footprints a stark reminder that YOUR feet came from HIS feet and for that, if nothing else, you should be thankful.


The fourth song below – “Roll of the Dice” -- is relatively obscure, but Bruce was somehow able to connect the concept of gambling on love with the effort to find someone that’s truly worth gambling for…as if to say, “You have to gamble to find the right one. It’s supposed to be hard to find the love of your life.”

And, just like gambling, where most people lose more than they win, you have to throw your love-dice on the table and hope they come up right for you.

I can’t stress enough how poignant the opening of the video is, where Springsteen walks on stage at a casino-arena in Connecticut and playfully asks the crowd if anyone in the audience lost any money that day. He follows that up by asking if anyone won any money. And then, he says something anyone who has ever seen Bruce and the band will completely understand and appreciate: “Well, either way, we’re gonna make you feel lucky tonight.”

Although not part of the formal structure of the song, per se, that phrase epitomizes Springsteen’s love affair with his adoring fan base. “I don’t care where you’re from, what color your skin, what you do for a living, what your sexuality is, what your favorite song is and how much money you have -- we’re gonna make you feel lucky tonight.”

And that, I suppose, is the metaphor for “Roll of the Dice” as well. Either way it comes up, good or bad, we’re here for each other.


The last song is my favorite Bruce Springsteen tune – “I’ll Work For Your Love”. There have been many along the way that earned that title – for a while, it was “Badlands”, then it was “Out In The Street”, later it was “Bobby Jean”. But ever since I heard this song off the 2007 album, “Magic”, it’s been my favorite song.

The video below is pulled off of YouTube and is a wonderful “homemade” representation of what the song encompasses. If you didn’t know better, you might think Springsteen himself produced the video. The theme is simple: “I’ll work for your love”, which, perhaps, is what Bruce is trying to say to his legions of followers with those legendary live shows of 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Underneath it all, the lyrics present that of a relationship that has stood the test of time – “Pour me a drink, Theresa, from one of those glasses you dust off”. It‘s likely suggesting the two of them have been at this particular effort for a long time and, like a lot of couples, have experienced a wealth of good times and the occasional bad moment, too.

It’s not the song most representative of Bruce’s sound over the years – that sort of song would be more like “Night” from the “Born to Run” album, where the guitar, drums and saxophone compete with Bruce’s strong voice to create an almost overwhelming three minutes of power.

But “I’ll Work For Your Love” best represents what Bruce is about, which is to say, as he constantly tries to remind us, “You can do anything and accomplish anything if you work hard enough at it”.


Those five songs aren’t any sort of formal overview of Bruce’s career work. They’re likely not on your “Top Five” list, even if you’re a Springsteen junkie. We all like what we like.

But they’re five of my favorites because they’re the best mix of what Bruce’s life was and still is, filled with hope, dreams and the quest to share it all with the people you care about the most.

Happy Birthday Bruce. Here’s to you.

And, yes, we all feel lucky. Thanks for letting us experience that good fortune with you.


September 22nd
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 22
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lots of good stuff going on (here, at #dmd, not at the ballpark)

As I watched the Orioles slumber through another late September loss that all but sealed their hopes of an A.L. East title, I had to work hard to find some sort of silver lining.

It didn't take long.

While reading comments from Adam Jones and Manny Machado about attendance at Camden Yards for this week's Boston series, it dawned on me: We have "attendance" here at #DMD, too. Except they're called readers and corporate partners, not butts in seats.

I'm thankful for our attendance numbers in 2016.

They are better than ever, thanks to you and those who support this website and venture of mine.

We just took 40 people to see Bruce Springsteen on September 1 at Nationals Park. By the way, tomorrow is Bruce's 67th birthday, so expect a "Boss-laden" edition of #DMD on Friday.

We took 60 people to see Adele in Philadelphia eight days later.

Last Sunday at Glory Days Grill, a packed house met Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of Q1370 and we gave away a trip for two to join us on our Notre Dame trip this weekend.

And our Ravens-Jets road trip bus has 20 of the 40 seats already gone...and I'm sure we'll be sold out on that trip as well by the time October 23rd rolls around.

Our readership numbers here continue to grow. We just had our best August ever (visits wise) and September is looking very strong. So, thank YOU, for coming here, whether it's daily, weekly or if you're only an occasional visitor to #DMD.

My recent foray into sports reporting for Q1370 has also brought along some new corporate partners, including Full Circle Tire and Auto, Lynch Construction and Strategic Diagnostics.

If you're at a career dead-end or similar want to see what else might be out for you, there IS hope. Sandy Cormack at Strategic Diagnostics is known around town as "The Career Doctor" and he can help you figure out what's next on your career agenda.

Changing careers is never easy, although more and more people are doing it today as corporate re-structuring and downsizing leaves everyone vulnerable. Even if you're merely just thinking about doing something new with your skills, education and work experience, give Sandy a call at (410) 459-5508 and he'll sit down with you and provide expertise that you won't find anywhere else.

We're happy to have Sandy and Strategic Diagnostics on our #DMD team and hope you use his services if you're at a career dead-end or simply think a change might be worth considering.

So, I just wanted to take a minute to say "thank you" to all of you who support #DMD. Your participation and involvement here is much appreciated.

Now, let's get to the Orioles.

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what's worse, the attendance or o's offense in september?

Well, at least David Ortiz didn't hit another home run.

How's that for looking at the bright side of things?

The Orioles fell to the Red Sox again on Wednesday night, this time by the final score of 5-1, as the Birds managed just four hits on the night en-route to falling a full six games behind Boston in the American League East.

The Red Sox erupted for five runs in the 6th inning, as Chris Davis made a defensive blunder unlike anything we've seen from him in a long time.

It was quite a Wednesday for Adam Jones. First, he took issue with the team's recent attendance woes in Baltimore, then managed to provide one of the O's only four hits and only RBI in a 5-1 loss to Boston at Camden Yards.

With the bases loaded, Sandy Leon armed a soft grounder between first and second that Davis hustled over to grab himself. Could he have let Jonathan Schoop dart in and try to make the play? Sure, maybe. But Davis got to the ball in plenty of time -- only to rifle a throw that zipped past Brad Brach, who was coming over to cover first.

Two runs scored there, and on the first pitch of the next at-bat, light hitting Andrew Benintendi roped a 3-run homer just over the right field wall to make it 5-1 and that, as they say, put the hay in the barn.

The Orioles made three errors on the night, but the story of the game was Baltimore's inability to do anything against career half-a-scrub Clay Buccholz and three Boston relief pitchers. The O's mustered just four hits on the night and have now scored a grand total of five runs in the three-game series with Boston.

Ubaldo Jimenez was decent enough on Wednesday night. As is his custom, he threw far too many pitches (105) for the amount of work he put in (5.1 innings), but Jimenez struck out eight and held the Red Sox scoreless until he departed in the sixth and gave way to Brach.

But it all came apart in a matter of minutes, literally, as the Davis throwing error gave Boston the lead and Benintendi's home run on the first pitch of the next at-bat was the final blow.

Earlier in the day, O's outfielder Adam Jones created a stir when he made a series of lengthy comments about the team's recent attendance woes. A crowd of 20,865 saw last night's game in Baltimore, as the Birds have drawn roughly 60,000 fans for the first three games of this crucial series with Boston.

“We’re going out there busting our tails," he said before Wednesday's game. "The fans’ impact at Camden Yards is unbelievable. I think they know that. I think they understand that. The players understand that. Obviously, this week and this last homestand, this last 11 games, are arguably the most important games of the season. We’ve fought our tails off for 150 games to put ourselves into a unique situation in September. That’s what you say, you want to play important September baseball, and part of September baseball, especially if you’re in the East, is the fans."

Jones added: "There’s a lot of factors to it. The tickets are a little higher, but you can bring in your own food and beverages. You take in the marketing, promotions, I’m sure they’re not the best. I get all that, but I’m saying, the city wanted a winner. The last five years we’ve gotten a winner. I don’t know if they’ve gotten complacent on us from winning. I hope they haven’t, because winning is fun every single year. Being in this race is very exciting every single year."

"Every place you go, the fans are going to be there," Jones said. "You go to Detroit, they were there for them. Boston, which is one of the most desirable places to be at anyway, so they’re there. I know when we go on the road to Toronto, you know they’re going to be there. They’ve been there since the trade deadline last year. I don't know, it's not sad, it's just eerie, I guess, to see the empty seats in Baltimore."

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U. S. Ryder Cup Team Trivia Quiz

Question 1: In the last 10 tournaments in which Rickie Fowler and Kevin Na played together played this year, which one finished higher than the other in nine of those 10 tournaments?

Question 2: In the four majors of 2016, which one finished higher than the other all four times, Fowler or Na?


Question 3: Who had more second-place finishes in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 4: Who had more third-place finishes in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 5: Who had more Top-10 finishes in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 6: Who had more Top-25 finishes in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 7: Who made more cuts in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 8: Who was cut less in 2016, Fowler or Na?

Question 9: What is the first word of the song titled “Hey Joe?”

Question 10: What is the main fodder for horses in the U.S.?

Question 11: What is the English word that has the same meaning as these foreign words: adios, arrivederci, ciao, and sayonara?

Here are the answers, kindly provided in song by the European Ryder Cup team:

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genesis of a legend

Donald William Zimmer was born on January 17, 1931 and died on June 4, 2014. He spent the final 65 of his 83 years in professional baseball.

Don "Popeye" Zimmer, manager of the 1978 Boston Red Sox.

He signed with the Brooklyn organization in 1949 and played for the Dodgers from 1954 to 1959. He also played for the Cubs, Mets, Reds, and Senators. In the Nippon League, Zimmer was a member of the Toei Flyers. He played winter ball in the Cuban leagues, in Puerto Rico, in Mexico, and in Nicaragua.

After his playing days were over, Zimmer coached and managed in the minors, and later coached in the bigs for the Expos, Padres, Red Sox, Yankees, Giants, Rockies, and Devil Rays. He went on to manage the Padres (1972-73), the Red Sox (1976-80), the Rangers (1981-82), and the Cubs (1988-91).

Zimmer’s American friends called him Popeye because of his resemblance to the cartoon character. In the Spanish-speaking countries, they called him El Soldadito, a friendly yet respectful moniker meaning The Little Soldier. It’s an understatement to say that Popeye loved baseball. It might be more accurate to say that baseball was infused in his DNA. Every paycheck he earned in his lifetime came from baseball. Zimmer even married his high-school sweetheart (Carole Jean Bauerle, called Soot) behind home plate before a 1951 night-game in Elmira. They remained married until Zimmer’s death two years ago.

Don Zimmer will be forever remembered in baseball lore for two reasons. The second reason is the basis of this article and the first reason is this: During a minor-league game in 1953, Zimmer was beaned by pitcher Jim Kirk, causing Zimmer to lose consciousness. He suffered a brain injury requiring immediate surgery and the eventual insertion of four large metal screws in his skull. He regained consciousness two weeks later, believing that it was the day after the game. This near-tragic event pushed Major League Baseball to adopt the rule requiring batters to wear helmets.

In mid-August of 1978, manager Don Zimmer’s Red Sox led the American League East by 14½ games. By mid-September, that lead was down to four, and the second-place Yankees were headed to Fenway for a four-game series.

That series would come to be known as "The Boston Massacre." New York won all four games – handily – scoring a total of 42 runs to Boston's nine.

Both teams limped to the finish line. On the last day of the season, Boston was a game behind the Yankees. But on that day, the Red Sox luck changed. The Yankees lost to Cleveland and Boston beat Toronto. The Sox good luck continued – Boston won the coin flip that determined home field for the one-game playoff for the AL East title.

In the playoff game, Yastrzemski homered for the Sox in the second inning to draw first blood. The score stayed 1-0 to the sixth when Burleson doubled, Remy bunted him to third, and Jim Rice singled him home to give Boston a 2-0 lead. In the top of the seventh inning, the Yankees had two men on with two out when Bucky Dent came to the plate. You can watch what happened below, as Dent, batting in the number-nine slot, and who, in 4,512 at-bats would smash a total of 40 home runs in a 13-year career, battled Boston pitcher Mike Torrez:


After the season’s-ending collapse and the soul-crushing loss in the playoff game under the most odds-defying and unforeseeable circumstance, Zimmer was devastated, despondent, and depressed. He took on the syndrome of soldiers who have seen horror in a combat zone, uncommunicative and distant, with his eyes seemingly fixed on some point in the distance — what in the military is called the 1,000-Yard Stare. He of course would not know it then, but this season would be the closest he would come to playing, coaching, or managing in the World Series. His wife Soot insisted that, instead of flying from Boston to their north Florida winter home, they drive the back roads to it. The journey would take several days, and Soot felt that her husband would be soothed by the countryside’s beauty, and more importantly, she knew that he needed to be away from baseball for a while.

They drove for a few hours each morning and stopped by roadside diners for leisurely lunches. After a few more hours of driving in the afternoons, they spent evenings at quiet country inns, dining alone in necessary anonymity.

On the afternoon of the third day of the journey, the couple turned onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockfish Gap, the parkway's northern terminus. The Parkway stretches about 450 miles, from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in southwestern North Carolina. The roadbed consists of two lanes, one in each direction, with no guardrails installed nor other obviously man-made objects in sight. There are almost no signs by the roadway, and of course no billboards. Its track runs generally along the spine of one of the lower of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour. The mile markers are small stones into which numerals are carved, strategically placed to blend with the landscape, and placed so well that it takes a practiced eye to spot them. The road was built by Works Progress Administration workers during The Great Depression in the 1930s. At times the Zimmers traveled for 15 minutes without seeing another car.

Along the Parkway the WPA workers built a series of scenic overlooks, areas where travelers could pull off the main roadway and stop to fully appreciate the beauty of the mountains and their trees, stretching off into the distance as far as the eyes can see. Zimmer had been at the wheel for a while and Soot suggested they pull into an overlook and switch drivers. In a mile or two they came upon one, and Zimmer pulled into it. As they got out of the car to change positions, Zimmer said, “I’m going to stretch my legs a bit. Join me?”

Parkway overlook

“Thank you, no,” replied Soot. “I’m a little chilly. But you take as long as you like.”

In late Septembers, at altitudes of 3,000 to 6,000 feet, the fall color of the leaves along the Parkway is spectacular — every bit as pretty as New England’s and more beautiful than even mankind’s most talented artist could replicate on canvas. The infinitely varied shades of reds and yellows and oranges of the deciduous trees mix beautifully with the greens of the evergreens. Zimmer strolled casually to the edge of the overlook. A mountain off to his right rose 1,000 above him and to his left a valley rolled on until it merged with the horizon. The only other people in the overlook, a young couple, perhaps newlyweds, got in their car and drove off.

Zimmer turned and glanced at Soot as she waited in the car, cocking his head slightly in the way that long-married men do to ask if their wives need or want anything. Soot wasn’t quite certain if he was inviting her to join him or asking if she was ready to go. She knew even this exquisite landscape could not heal the scar rent on her husband's soul, but hoped that it would do some little bit to begin to amend his wound. She smiled at him and gave a little wave, indicating that the way things were just then was fine with her.

Soot watched him as he turned back around to look out into the valley. He stood tall with his hands clasped behind his back and his head bowed. He stood this way for about ten minutes, unmoving. At this point, Soot decided that she would join him.

At the moment she opened the door to get out of the car, she saw her husband’s arms begin to stretch out and raise up from his sides, palms upward, and his face turn slowly up toward the heavens. She saw his shoulders pull backwards, as if he were sucking into his lungs a huge volume of air. And then she felt it in her heart and in her bones as much as she heard it with her ears – her man's id/ego/super-ego induced, blood-curdling, primeval, pain-filled, terrible terrible scream.

Zimmer bellowed at the top of his lungs, outward toward the infinite realm of nature itself, the incarnation of his demon, one not comparable to a fearsome and fire-breathing dragon but to an insignificant and unworthy pissant, one with no conceivable right to have been ordained by the Baseball Gods to vex him so – and this gut-wrenching attempt at catharsis would forever endow an equally pained and curséd city yet another communal means of succinctly describing this latest culprit who further prolonged its unwarranted, unbearably frustrating, and seemingly eternal fate:

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get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 20 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.

September 21st
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 21
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in case you haven’t noticed, the nfl product is starting to dwindle

This isn’t an overnight thing, what’s happening in the NFL.

Truthfully, it’s been in the works for the better part of, oh, about five years now.

The product the NFL puts out every week is slowly starting to erode.

It’s more likely you’ll see a stinker of a game than a barnburner these days.

And even if you are fortunate to see something remotely close to an “exciting” game, there’s a good chance that a bad call, mysterious official’s “review” or some other wacky turn of events will be connected to the outcome.

There are a bunch of excuses for this, I think, but I’m not sure the league will take any steps to change their modus operandi.

Let’s start with the obvious reasons why the product is suffering in 2016.

The games are just too loooonnnnngggg

No wonder the PED of choice in the NFL is Adderall. How are you supposed to pay attention for that long with little to no activity occurring 80% of the time?

For starters, the product AT the stadium is three and a half hours of obligation jammed into about 12 total minutes of action.

If not for the obvious efforts of the home team’s entertainment department, with signs flashing, fantasy football updates and replays on the scoreboard, the game would wobble along endlessly.

With music, video tributes, and other forms of media content displayed throughout the game, you sometimes forget that the sixty minutes of football isn’t close to exciting enough to keep your attention intact.

So, in one regard, kudos to the respective teams around the league for getting a head start on curing your boredom.

This, though, is more about the on-field product than anything else.

It’s just not very good, plain and simple.

At least not to me.

Part of the issue, for certain? The rules. Too many, too confusing, too impactful and far, far too judgmental.

The most important play in the game now is what the Ravens previously referred to – with great affection, I assume – as the “Torrey Smith Special”.

That’s the one where Torrey Smith would line up wide and race down the sideline towards the other team’s end zone. Once Smith got forty or so yards downfield, Joe Flacco would heave the ball in the receiver’s general direction.

If Smith didn’t catch it, there was about a 65% chance he’d draw a pass interference penalty. BAM!! What do you know? A 45-yard “reception” of sorts. Move those chains.

Every team has that play, of course. It’s the easiest way to take three cracks downfield at the end of the game when you’re trailing by six points. Just throw it up for grabs and hope for a flag.

And the league definitely thinks it’s part of their sexy appeal to have every game come down to the last minute or two, and there’s probably some truth to that effort.

But when the game routinely hinges on a pass interference call or some other referee-enabled decision, it takes the spirit out of the whole thing. The game should be won by the team with the better players who execute more efficiently for sixty minutes. But it’s not the way – a lot of the time.

You love the dumb rules when they help your team, but...

It’s funny when it’s YOUR team that benefits from a bush-league call like the Ravens got handed to them at the end of the Cleveland game.

It’s not so funny, though, when you think you’ve won the game only to have the refs call a facemask penalty they shouldn’t have called in the first place and your team loses on a last second field goal.

Week in, week out, the game isn’t won by the team who scores the most points.

It’s lost by the team who makes the last penalty of the game.

The rules in the league are – well – stupid.

They’ve now changed the kick-off rule so that the receiving team gets the ball on their own 25 yard line if they don’t bring the ball out on the kick-off. It doesn’t take a dummy from Glen Burnie or a Flyers fan to figure out why this change was made: “We’d rather you NOT bring the ball out…to avoid collisions and contact…so we’ll reward you for deciding to take a knee in the end zone.”

Fair enough. Just give the receiving team the ball on the 25 yard line after every score of any kind and let’s forget about the kick-off in its entirety. That, alone, would speed up the game by a few minutes. And avoid those collisions.

Makes sense, right?

Speaking of making sense, what’s a catch in the league these days?

And what’s a fumble?

If that guy from Cincinnati’s knee wasn’t on the ground when the ball came out in the 4th quarter on Sunday at Pittsburgh, I’ll donate $1,000 to your favorite charity.

Everyone watching the game saw it. His knee was on the ground. Done deal.

Somehow, though, the people that mattered said it wasn’t.

No one knows what a catch is anymore. Breshad Perriman caught a pass on Sunday in which the ball definitely made contact with the ground as he was hitting the turf…but, the rule now says something about the catch being “complete” as long as the ball wasn’t moving when it made contact with the ground.

Your guess is as good as mine.

I realize the league needs rules. But these replays and challenges are just too much to take. One week, that was a catch. The next week, it’s not.

It all takes away, as I keep saying, from the “spirit” of the game.

The team that wins isn’t the one that plays the best football anymore.

The winning team is the one that got the best break from the refs, the best break from the video official, and the best break from the rules.

And the game itself? Not that good, either.

Maybe it’s just two weeks in and teams still have to get themselves well-oiled.

I guess I can buy that theory.

But some of these teams are dreadful. I know the old adage, “on any given Sunday”, but the Browns, Bears, Titans and Rams might not win as many games combined as the Patriots win in 2016.

Those four teams are awful.

And while I get that someone has to finish last, there’s a difference between a semi-quality team that just falls short ten times a season and a team of posers who are lucky to go 4-12.

Why are they awful?

Well, there’s the salary cap, of course, which every team has to follow.

And, while that’s supposed to put everyone on equal footing, as we’ve seen over the last decade, that’s hardly the case. The same six or seven teams (Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Broncos, Packers, Seahawks) have routinely been in and won the Super Bowl. Everyone else is playing just to play.

Paying the QB's a gazillion bucks hasn't helped the product

Part of the issue within the framework of each team is the fact that quarterbacks demand so much money these days that they gobble up 10-15% of the team’s available cap space in some cases. Mix in another group of $10 million a year players and suddenly, $50 or $60 million of the team’s $155,000,000 is spent on five or six players.

That means, these days, anyway, the younger players turn out to be the most valuable assets a club can have. And, more specifically, anyone making less than $750,000 is a TRUE bonus for a NFL team. The more of them you have on your roster, the better your salary cap looks.

Unfortunately, the more $750,000 players you have, the more your roster isn’t all that good. Or, at the very least, the depth of your team is likely lacking, which the Ravens saw first-hand last year when they had two dozen players on IR and no one to help out once they passed the third level on the team’s depth chart.

As much as it’s a quarterback’s league, and they rightfully get $20 million or more per-season, it’s almost silly to cough up that much money to one guy.

Are the Bills that much better off because they handed Tyrod Taylor a $90 million deal in the off-season? Obviously not.

What you really need your team to pull off is what the Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Seahawks, Panthers and now – perhaps – the Eagles have all managed to do. Draft a quarterback, have him become an almost immediate rock star, and milk a series of playoff/championship runs out of him -- while he's playing for "peanuts" -- before he commands one of those nutty $100 million contracts.

I’m not advocating the Ravens dismiss Joe Flacco in the same way the folks in Pittsburgh wouldn’t be suggesting the Steelers put a lid on the career of Ben Roethlisberger, but Flacco is the one who gets the better of the deal now. Once he finished off that first rookie contract and stepped into “big money” territory, the only way the Ravens could win that deal was to hoist the Super Bowl trophy every February.

So, while the quarterbacks in the league are outstanding in many cases, it’s truly a crapshoot as it relates to the QB’s ability to make their team better. Denver is 2-0 so far this season. Quick – who’s their quarterback? Right. I have no idea, either.

It's the ultimate catch-22. You MUST have a high quality quarterback to win in the NFL over the long haul. Once he gets to elite status, though, you're bound to pay him $20 million a season or more, which winds up hurting your team's ability to juggle the salary cap successfully.

You then have to add younger players to make the dollars work. Those younger guys aren't as good as veterans who command more money. The quality suffers when the young guys wind up owning large chunks of playing time.

I'm not an economist by any means, but my simple suggestion would be this: Your team has a salary cap of (example) $140 million -- excluding the quarterback. He can make whatever you want to pay him. Now, everyone just needs to find one of the best 32 quarterbacks alive in the world today and pay him whatever they feel he's worth. The rest of the team comprises the salary cap.

As for the level of play we're seeing each Sunday, I think it's become watered down over the years, but I'm not sure if anyone in particular is to blame.

I don’t think the players are trying any less. I think, in a lot of cases these days, the players don’t know HOW to try anymore. They’re not sure what’s a legal hit, what’s going to draw a flag, and what might earn them a fine.

I understand the whole concussion saga and players who played in the 90’s stumbling around looking for their dentures…only to realize they don’t actually wear dentures yet.

But the game, for whatever reason, just isn’t as a good today as it was in 2000. Or 2005. Or, maybe, even 2010.

Something has happened in the last half dozen years.

The payroll has gone up.

The quality of play has gone down.

More worries about concussions, a bigger, thicker rule book, and less excitement and quality of play on the field. Maybe there’s not a parallel there; maybe there is.

I’ve listed some of the reasons why the game of football is lacking something at the professional level. There are plenty of others, too.

The first step for the league to fix it? Admitting their quality of play has, in fact, dwindled over the last five or six years.

I don’t think they’ll do it.

But they’re only fibbing to themselves if they contend the quality of the game is still at an all-time high.

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we need a cut man in the orioles' corner, pronto

That's orange blood you're seeing now, as the Orioles are starting to feel the knife being driven into them by the Boston Red Sox.

Another 5-2 win for Boston on Tuesday night before 20,000 at Fenway Park at Camden Yards has the O's all but out of the American League East race, as they now trail by five full games with just eleven to play.

It's not over yet. The season isn't 151 games long; they play 162. But it would take a fairly miraculous turn of fortune for the O's to catch and overtake the Red Sox at this point.

Last night's loss wasn't much different than the one we saw on Monday evening. Boston hopped out to a 2-0 lead, the O's cut it to 2-1, and then David Ortiz sent a 3-run homer over the centerfield fence and that was all she wrote.

Plenty of folks were barking about Buck Showalter's decision to leave starter Kevin Gausman in the game to face Ortiz in the top of the 7th, but let's keep in mind we're talking about the team's best pitcher over the last six weeks. There WERE options galore, though, in the bullpen, so folks taking a jab at Buck have their right to do so, I suppose.

But the Orioles haven't lost the last two nights because of pitching. They've lost because they can't hit.

Honestly? We just can't tolerate another David Ortiz picture here at #DMD. So here's three Red Sox players celebrating another win.

They scored two runs on Monday night, one thanks to an Adam Jones homer. They scored two more runs on Tuesday night, one thanks to a Trey Mancini homer.

Pretty tough to win games in the majors when you score two runs on back-to-back nights.

And, as much as they won't admit it -- but I sure wish someone like Jones or Machado would -- I can't imagine the in-stadium atmosphere has helped the Birds over the last two nights. Working their tails off all spring and summer to get in a position to challenge the Red Sox for the division one shows up at the ballpark.

Playing to a half-empty stadium with the playoffs in the balance has to be a downer for guys like Jones, Machado, Davis, Wieters, etc. who were here in 2012 and 2014 and experienced the electricity in September and October.

Maybe a crowd of 38,000 wouldn't do anything for their chakras or their baseball acumen, but I sure don't think seeing 20,000 in the ballpark -- with 30% of those cheering for the other team -- gets a Baltimore player amped up with excitement, either.

You know me, I'm never one to say the words "must win" until the game that day or night could potentially end your season and/or your chase for a division title.

The Orioles, based on that logic, are not in a must-win situation tonight, but let's also face reality as it is, not as we wish it to be. The Orioles have to win tonight. And tomorrow night.

A split of the series will send the Red Sox to Tampa Bay for three games this weekend in ownership of a 3-game lead over the Birds. The O's host Arizona over the weekend. As we just saw when Tampa Bay played Baltimore to a 4-game stalemate, the Rays aren't mailing it in despite their imminent last place finish.

Tampa Bay could win a couple over Boston and the O's could easily win a pair or sweep the Diamondbacks, who are playing out the string in the N.L. West.

Overly optimistic? Sure, maybe I am.

But these next two games are paramount as it relates to the Orioles' hopes of winning the division. Capture the next two and they're still alive and breathing with nine games left in the regular season. Lose one or both, and it's just about time to start worrying ONLY about the wild card race.

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four quarters of college football

Our college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with his mid-week look at the college scene, as a handful of unexpected teams remain undefeated through three weeks of the 2016 campaign.

First Quarter: Undefeated - As we near the quarter point of the regular season, only 37 FBS teams (out of 128) remain undefeated. Fans of the powerhouse programs expected it. Washington and Tennessee fans see it as justification of their preseason hype (ranked eight and nine respectively). Some fans view their team’s record as validation of recent coaching changes (Maryland, Miami, Georgia to name a few). But to a few others, an unblemished record re-ignites hope for a return to glory.

Second Quarter: 3-0 Army – One of those teams is Army. Their glory days date way back to the 1940s when Army won three consecutive national championships from 1944 to 1946, led by Heisman trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Head coach Earl “Red” Blaik guided the cadets to a record of 67-10-6 during that decade. Since then, the Black Knights have enjoyed little success and have been in the dark ages over the last two decades.

Army has only experienced one winning season in the last 19 years and has lost fourteen consecutive times to bitter rival Navy. Since 2000, the service academy has brought in six coaches to turn their fortunes around. Their latest choice, Jeff Monken, has made the Black Knights competitive again, starting last year with 7 close losses (including the Navy game).

Third Quarter: 3-0 Nebraska – Nebraska has dominated the college football scene twice. The early 1970s produced two national championships (1970, 1971) and a Heisman-winner (Johnny Rodgers) under the direction of head coach and athletic director Bob Devaney. His assistant, Tom Osborne, took over the program in 1972 and continued their winning ways (40 consecutive winning seasons), peaking in the 1990s with three more national championships (1994, 1995, 1997) and another Heisman winner (Mike Rosier). ESPN named the 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers the best college football team ever.

An impressive come-from-behind win over ranked Oregon last Saturday excited the fan base and raised hopes that Nebraska can be more than a 9 or 10 win who plays in a nice bowl game but never fancies themselves a national title contender. Head coach Mike Riley was brought in last year to break that barrier. While the fans may still question if Mike Riley is the right man, the right coach is the way back to elite status.

Fourth Quarter: Coaching – The Cornhusker’s slip is directly linked to television. Today, almost every team gets national exposure as college football generates millions of dollars through television deals. Schools take their share and invest in coaches and facilities. These were the advantages Nebraska exploited when their dominance coincided with the start of televised sports. Without much in-state talent or the advantages of years gone by, Nebraska is going to need top-notch coaching (and that includes recruiting) to return to an elite program.

For Army, the service commitment, height/weight restrictions and academic requirements prevents them from recruiting and competing at a high level. The discipline and precious execution that won games years ago can’t overcome today’s speed and strength. As fewer alumni remember their glory days, a coach that can win the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy (by beating Navy and Air Force) and go to bowl games should make the Army rank and file very happy.

Could this be the year Army rises to the occasion and defeats Navy and Air Force? It just might be.

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September 20th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 20
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the good news? only 18,000 sat through last night’s 5-2 loss to boston

The bad news? About 5,000 of those in the stadium on Monday night were Red Sox fans.

And so it went for the Orioles in the opener of their 4-game series with the division leading Red Sox. They got thoroughly out-everything’d by the Red Sox in front of about 13,000 of the team’s diehards who were in the stadium for the game.

We’ve dissected all of the excuses – some reasonable, some not – about attendance this season, but last night’s crowd for the opener was the game that speaks the gospel about the Birds in 2016.

Baltimore cares about the team. They just don’t care enough to go to the games.

Some would argue that means the city and surrounding suburbs don’t really care about the team. Maybe they’re right.

Off the field, the story was the meager crowd of 18,456.

David Ortiz hit his 35th home run of the season in Monday night's 5-2 Red Sox win. It was Ortiz's 53rd career homer against the Orioles.

On the field, the story was simple: Too much Rick Porcello and two timely home runs from Mookie Betts and David Ortiz.

The odds-on favorite to win the Cy Young Award in the American League –and last night’s masterful shutdown of the Baltimore offense in a crucial late-season game on the road might have sewed it up for him – Porcello was superb throughout the nine innings, changing speeds, getting ahead of the hitters, and allowing the O’s to do a lot of first-pitch swinging which, as we all know, they love to do.

His counterpart, Dylan Bundy, didn’t have much to offer. Again.

In fact, it might be time for the O’s to consider shutting him down if you take a look at what he’s done over the last five weeks.

The team originally structured Bundy’s season to have an innings-pitched limit of 70 based his return from Tommy John surgery two years ago. If you look at his numbers up to that 70-inning limit, he was doing just fine, albeit a large chunk of those numbers came in relief work; 70.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.22 WHIP.

But…since reaching that 70 inning plateau, Bundy has bottomed out, throwing 33.2 innings – all as a starter – with a 6.88 ERA and an alarming 1.88 WHIP.

I’m no Major League manager, but that looks like a guy who has hit the proverbial “wall” and needs to ease into the off-season. At this point, the O’s might be smart to go with Gausman, Tillman, Jimenez, Gallardo (gulp) and hope someone like Mike Wright or even Vance Worley could spot-start if necessary and give them five innings of something decent if necessary.

Yes, that means bye-bye to Wade Miley – as a starter, at least – and Bundy, who clearly has lost his way.

Back to the Red Sox for a second. They might not have the starting pitching to win a World Series, but they sure do know how to put the ball in play and get around the bases.

They have a really good offensive team in Boston and, to me anyway, are equally as dangerous at home as they are on the road.

Betts has tortured the Orioles all season long – particularly in Baltimore – and Ortiz either hits a home run or grounds out weakly to first base. Last night, he contributed a key 2-run round tripper to pad Boston’s lead to 5-1 just an inning after Mark Trumbo drove in Baltimore’s first run to trim the deficit to 2-1.

The win pushed Boston’s advantage in the American League East to four games with 12 games left in the regular season.

It’s not over just yet. But, let’s just say the limousine has pulled up in front of the fat lady’s house and she’s heading to the concert hall.

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the best six . . . and worst six . . . .

It’s time once again to show off our complete displeasure with those silly “Power Rankings” that everyone seems to do by providing – our own version of those same rankings.

We’ll list the BEST six teams and the WORST six teams. The other 20 are somewhere in the middle.

And yes, if you’re wondering, the Ravens are somewhere in the middle. I haven’t taken the time to think about where I’d rank them, honestly, but I’d say at first blush they’re probably 16th or so.

On to the list we go…

The Worst Six

#27 – St. Louis Rams -- I know they won on Sunday in their home opener, but they’re awful. Nine points, total, in two games thus far. It’s a miracle that Jeff Fisher keeps a job in the league. What an imposter.

#28 – Indianapolis Colts -- Maybe they really ARE that bad defensively. Two weeks in and they’ve yet to allow less than 33 points in a game. Is it time for the seat to get a little warm under Chuck Pagano’s rear end?

#29 – New Orleans Saints -- They might actually be one of those teams that starts 1-7 and finishes 7-9, but they’re a very incomplete team at this point. Offense was good in the opener, sorry this week. Defense good this week, sorry in the opener.

#30 – Buffalo Bills -- LOL. They score 31 points on Thursday night and fire the Offensive Coordinator on Friday morning. Just Rex’s way of trying to keep HIS job secure for the rest of the season. They stink. No QB=no chance to win.

#31 – Tennessee Titans -- I don’t care that they won on Sunday. They’re terrible. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Can’t see them winning four more games the rest of the season.

#32 – Cleveland Browns -- What can you say? They’re dreadful. Up 20-0 and still can’t win. Then again, the refs conspiring against them in the final half minute of the game didn’t help matters much. Can’t see them winning more than four games. Maybe three. Or two, even.

The Best Six

#6 – Cincinnati Bengals -- No shame in losing by one possession to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Expected more from them offensively on Sunday at Heinz Field but the weather wasn’t exactly conducive for a high-scoring affair.

#5 – Carolina Panthers -- A dusting of San Francisco was exactly what the doctor ordered for Cam Newton and Company. Not sure if they like giving up 27 points at home, but that’s probably the only time they’ll do that all season. Still my favorite to win the NFC again.

#4 – New York Giants -- Consider this a favor to my friends out there who are fans of the Giants. I don’t think they’re this good, but they ARE 2-0 and they have the look of a team that might be on to something. Improved defense and much better offensive line – at least thus far.

#3 – Houston Texans -- I’m mainly putting there here because of their helmets AND the fact that a couple of other 2-0 teams (Minnesota and Denver for example) are sort of fluky or have too many key injuries to take them seriously. Let’s see what happens when the Texans have to play a road game this Thursday in New England.

#2 – Pittsburgh Steelers -- I have a bad feeling about this team. I’m not one to wish an injury on anyone, but that might be the only way to keep Pittsburgh from making some REAL noise in the AFC this season. They look really freakin’ good thus far.

#1 – New England Patriots -- OK, so let’s just admit it now. If Garoppolo would have played all four games, the Pats would have started the season 4-0. As it is now, with some guy we’ve never heard from NC State at the helm, they’ll probably drop one of the next two and “only” start 3-1 without Tom Brady. Every week…all they do is show up, play hard, and win.

If the season ended today, the Super Bowl would be: New England vs. Carolina.

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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 cardiac kids are back, as the Ravens made us both shake our heads in disgust and keep an eye on our blood pressure in a ridiculously difficult 25-20 win over the hapless Browns on Sunday.

Rather than try to condense every game into a neat and tidy little narrative, I'm just going to share my thoughts on the game in bullet point format.

First and foremost, that's a big win for this Ravens team early in the season. Yes it was the Browns, and you always think you should wax a team like that, but the fact of the matter is that just about everyone plays decently at home in the NFL, and while the Browns aren't going to win very many games, they still have some really good players out there, and at important positions to boot.

Ultimately, coming back from being down 20-2 in the first quarter, and at one point looking like they might get run off of the field, is a huge confidence boost for this group, and something they can draw back on when things get tight in future games.

There were plenty of chances for someone, or everyone, to panic and let that one get out of hand with a bad mistake, but the Ravens kept their composure across the board and clawed their way back into the game. Last year's team loses that game , maybe by 15+ points, so if nothing else this is a real boost to the idea that 2015 was a fluke for the Ravens, and that the page has already been turned this year.

Independent of anything else, I'm super happy that Dennis Pitta had a big game on Sunday. The last time he was in Cleveland, of course, he blew out his hip in open space in one of the most disconcerting injuries I've seen on an NFL field, and very nearly lost his career as a result.

On Sunday, he came back to the scene and only caught 9 passes for 102 yards while also recording some of the game's biggest plays for the Ravens, both in total yardage and moving the sticks in crucial spots.

Pitta looks like he hasn't missed a beat working with Joe Flacco, and I'd imagine he has to feel really good about his reversal of fortune in The Mistake by the Lake.

Speaking of Flacco, if I have one critique of the offense it's that they're still overly reliant on throwing the ball vertically down the sideline, even when the defense is baiting them into it.

His second interception yesterday was a quintessential example: the Browns left Joe Haden in one on one coverage with Breshad Perriman on the outside, Flacco challenged him, and Haden came away with a relatively easy interception that Perriman did a very poor job of contesting.

If you're scoring that at home, that's a veteran and two time Pro-Bowler who is as good as any corner in the league at playing the ball in the air against a guy with 3 games, including the preseason, to his credit. If it's Steve Smith Sr. or Mike Wallace out there with one-on-one coverage then fine, but the Browns wanted the Ravens to throw that pass, and Flacco is going to oblige every single time with no respect paid to the personnel.

Quick praise for the offensive line who, after struggling with a pretty good Buffalo pass rush, really turned in a representative performance on the road at Cleveland.

I don't think I counted more than one or two times when Flacco was seriously pressured when Cleveland brought fewer than six rushers, and at least one of those instances was a classic "coverage sack" where there just wasn't anyone open and Flacco had to hold the ball a bit longer than the line could hold off the rush.

They weren't terribly impressive in run blocking, but then the Ravens were pretty predictable with their run calls, and they at least created enough room to grind some crucial time off the clock on the final offensive drive. Between that and the relative lack of penalties, you'll take a game like that from the O-line every single time you head out on the road.

Switching to the defense, I sure as heck hope that we've heard the very last of local agitators who think that Dean Pees is "too soft" in his defensive calls and are apparently stuck in 2006.

The Ravens came out with exactly the kind of look his critics are always asking for, with a lot of blitzes and man-to-man coverage on the outside...and it was a disaster.

Josh McCown read the defense with ease and got the ball downfield to challenge the Ravens' corners with tremendous success. Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor aren't great receivers at this point, but they're pretty good going downfield and certainly more than Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright can be asked to cover one-on-one.

This is 2016; between the rules and the drastic increase in passing at the college and high school levels, to say nothing of the plethora of quarterback camps all over the country, passing offense is leaps and bounds better than its ever been across the board in the NFL, and "organized chaos" simply isn't going to work as a defense unless you have a pair of top flight corners outside.

The Ravens don't have that.

Rex Ryan doesn't have that either, and his defense got thrashed by Ryan Fitzpatrick Thursday night because his corners couldn't handle the Jets receivers. Pees at least had the good sense to switch back to soft zone coverages, and the Browns didn't score again after that.

It wasn't all great for the Ravens' coaching staff though, as John Harbaugh's game management still continues to perplex in some spots.

Harbaugh's gotten a lot better in recent years at recognizing the benefits of going for it on fourth down, and did so again down 20-2 early in this game...a decision met with much controversy.

I'm somewhat ambivalent on the question of whether or not they should have gone for it or taken the field goal; there's arguments for both sides and the kicker is basically a matter of how you expected the rest of the game to go, which is a matter of pure speculation in real time.

The play call was atrocious, however, and if that was the best they had to offer they should have just brought out Justin Tucker.

What I will complain about, however, is kicking the extra point rather than going for two after their second half touchdown.

Down 20-18 after the 6, there is no benefit at all at to adding one more point and being down by one point instead of two. Everything about the decision smacked of a coaching staff that was rattled by and overreacting to that previous decision to go for it on fourth down, and deciding to play it conservatively in the least defensible of spots.

And sure enough, that one point the Ravens put on the board ultimately didn't figure into the rest of the game at all.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the taunting flag against Pryor that wiped out a big Cleveland gain that would have put them at the ten yard line at the end of the game.

Without exaggeration, that may be the worst call I've ever seen in an NFL game.

Apparently the officials thought the call was mandated because Pryor technically dropped the ball on Lardarius Webb, to which I say “horsepucky”.

The replay clearly showed that Pryor didn't appear to even be paying attention to Webb, and sure looked like he was trying to toss the ball to an official. It's telling that the official in front of Pryor, who he appeared to be tossing the ball to, kept his flag in his pocket while the official coming from behind the play is the one who called the penalty.

Maybe it doesn't change the outcome of the game, and maybe it's just karma (Corey Coleman sure looked like he had a foot out of bounds on his first touchdown catch to me), but if nothing else it's indicative how ludicrous it is that the NFL is all too happy to have officials over-police celebrations and an arbitrary definition of taunting while swallowing their whistles while Cam Newton gets his brains scrambled with repeated helmet to helmet hits.

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September 19th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 19
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we’ll take the win,
but lol at the nfl and “taunting”

I’ve always prided myself on being one of those folks who call it like they see it, a motto I might have learned from my years hanging around with Charley Eckman when he was part of the Blast radio team.

I love the home teams, yes, but I’m also able to separate that affection when it comes to being realistic and honest about the other team, an opposing player or some other issue involving a game or outcome.

The Ravens won yesterday’s game in Cleveland, 25-20, and quickly – like they did after the home opening victory over Buffalo – filed that one away under “a win is a win”.

It wasn’t pretty.

It was, as John Harbaugh says (a lot) these days, “Imperfect… but it’s us.”

But it’s a win and the Ravens are 2-0 for just the 5th time in franchise history.

Nothing beats winning in the NFL.

When you only have 16 games and the goal from the jump is to win at least 11 of them to guarantee yourselves a playoff spot, getting two of those victories out of the way after just two weeks is as good as a team can do.

So, all credit to the Ravens for two wins in two weeks.

But what happened on Sunday to the Browns is a complete disgrace.

Terrelle Pryor's benign "ball toss" to the ref resulted in a critical taunting penalty with 20 seconds left in Sunday's game with the Ravens after the ball nicked the helmet of defensive back Lardarius Webb.

They were poised to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the game’s final thirty seconds until a remarkably horrible call for taunting went against them and changed the course of the final half-minute of the game.

I’ll get all of the hot garbage “But, Drew” stuff out of the way first.

”But Drew, the Browns have no one to blame but themselves. They scored 20 points in the first quarter and didn’t score again.” That’s correct, but that fact had no bearing at all on the awful taunting call.

”But Drew, the first touchdown of the game should have been reversed. The guy’s toe hit the goal-line and he didn’t come down ‘clean’ in the end zone.” Maybe. But there was a review after the scoring play and not enough evidence was found to overturn the call on the field. Right call or wrong call, though, it had no bearing at all on the awful taunting call.

”But Drew, the Ravens get plenty of bad calls every Sunday, it seems.” That might be true as well, but that has nothing at all to do with with the awful taunting call.

The play in question took the Browns to the Baltimore 10-yard line with twenty seconds left in the game. Terrelle Pryor, as he was coming to his feet after being tackled out of bounds by Lardarius Webb, harmlessly tossed the ball in the direction of the referee who was six feet away.

Webb, still on one knee, stayed in that position just long enough to have the ball bounce off of his helmet.

It was one of the rare times all day that Webb was in the right position.

And up went the penalty flag, negating what would have been a 20-yard gain and a huge first down for the Browns.

Now, let’s be clear on two things. First, there’s no telling if the Browns would have scored from the 10-yard line to win the game.

That’s a rather HUGE assumption based on the fact that Cleveland has a long history of the worst thing happening to them at the worst time possible. See last year’s home loss to the Ravens as Exhibit A, when Baltimore’s Will Hill returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown on the final play of regulation.

So, yes, there’s no guarantee the Browns go on to win even if the Pryor penalty isn’t called.

Second, they still had twenty seconds left to make something else happen, except Josh McCown threw an awful pass on the very next play that was intercepted by C.J. Mosely to end the game.

Why all the angst – from me – regarding that game-changing taunting call on Terrelle Pryor?

Because “taunting” in the NFL is as common as the beer man coming through the stands. It happens six times a quarter in EVERY game.

Let’s be serious for a second. Steve Smith Sr. taunts the opposition on virtually every play he’s involved in. EVERY. SINGLE. PLAY.

Who knows what is said, or who is to blame, but nary a play goes by involving #89 where he’s not scuffling with someone, wagging his finger in their face, or spinning the ball at their feet after another eight-yard catch.

Smith, of course, isn’t the only player in the league guilty of taunting. He’s just the one I bring up right away because he’s the one I see do it the most – because I watch him play sixteen times a season.

I’d bet every team has a habitual “taunter” on their sideline. Wide receivers are particularly adept at showboating, as we know, and the league has decided to cut down on their antics in particular.

But with 20 seconds left in the game? When the two players are out-of-bounds? And the ball was clearly tossed in the direction of the referee?

Awful. Just awful . . . .

And the league acts like they’re concerned about it by “beefing up the rules”, yet every defensive player in the league is allowed to hop around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose after a sack of the opposing quarterback.

That’s NOT taunting, apparently.

That’s just . . . ”celebrating” . . . guess.

There’s taunting on nearly every reception in the league. The “first-down-point with the right hand”, the ball “spin”, the ball “drop”. It’s all designed to put a spotlight on the receiver and remind everyone he did something right and the guy guarding him did something wrong.

The entire league is pretty much built on the theme of taunting.

And they call that penalty on Pryor with the game in the balance?

The league should be ashamed of themselves.

#dmd welcomes lynch construction
to the family!

We’re excited to have a new corporate partner on board with us here at #DMD, so please join me in welcoming Lynch Construction to the family.

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If you’ve ever had a new kitchen or bathroom installed in your home, you know all too well that the entire job is out of your hands and all you can do is sit back and hope the work gets done right…the way you want it done.

Lynch Construction will do the job right, according to your specifications.

How do you know that?

Three generations of family ownership prove that Lynch’s work is outstanding and reliable. They wouldn’t be in business today if that weren’t true.

At Lynch Construction, you’re dealing with family members who pride themselves in the Lynch name. This isn’t a national company with the Lynch name on their work clothing. This is a LOCAL company, with employees who live near you, potentially.

You can visit the Lynch Construction website — and see for yourself what kind of work they can do for you and your next construction project.

We’re proud to have Lynch Construction involved with us here at #DMD and on Q1370 radio!

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”Show Me The Money” Week 2

It didn’t take long to have a losing Sunday, wager-wise.

That’s the life of the guy who “wagers” on the crazy world of the NFL, although we’re not actually betting on the games here, as you know.

If we were, though, we’d be reaching into our pocket this morning.

Week 2 saw us go 2-4 and miss both the Ravens game and our “Best Bet” selection, unfortunately.

What two games did we connect on? We took the Chargers to cover over the Jaguars and the Texans to cover over the Chiefs.

That’s two wins.

But we missed on the Titans-Lions game (we noted yesterday this one seemed too good to be true), the Cardinals-Bucs blowout (LOL at Tampa Bay), the Redskins-Cowboys stunner (although, honestly, the Redskins seem to have a penchant for doing dumb stuff like that) and the Ravens-Browns nailbiter.

That brings us to 6-6 on the year after two weeks. Not terrible. But we’re not going to pay for any college tuitions winning six and losing six, either.

around the nfl in thirty seconds

Steelers 24 – Bengals 16 -- Hate to say it, but Pittsburgh looks awfully strong.

Titans 16 – Lions 15 -- Not sure if this one says more about the Titans – or the Lions.

Cowboys 27 – Redskins 23 -- Dallas won without Tony Romo. I wasn’t sure that was even possible.

Giants 16 – Saints 13 -- If the New York defense is this good, they might be on to something in 2016.

Panthers 46 – 49’ers 27 -- Just one of the 12 wins for the Panthers in 2016. Lots more to come.

Patriots 31 – Dolphins 24 -- Was Jimmy Garappolo on the verge of Wally Pipp’ing Tom Brady? Probably not.

Texans 19 – Chiefs 12 -- Another 100-yard day for DeAndre Hopkins. He’s becoming a beast every week now.

Rams 9 – Seahawks 3 -- How could the Rams beat anyone after the way they looked last Monday night?

Cardinals 40 – Buccaneers 7 -- Are the Cardinals that good or are the Bucs imposters?

Chargers 38 – Jaguars 14 -- All of a sudden, Jacksonville’s in “must win” territory next Sunday against the Ravens.

Falcons 35 – Raiders 28 -- Atlanta loses at home to Tampa Bay, wins the next week at Oakland. Just a crazy league.

Broncos 34 – Colts 20 -- Let the Chuck Pagano whispers begin in Indy. Colts can’t stop anyone on defense.

Vikings 17 – Packers 14 -- Two stars are born in the Twin Cities this night.

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o’s scratch out series split with rays

Not that a 4-game series split – at home, no less – with the Tampa Bay Rays is something to brag about, but the Birds managed to salvage the fourth and final game on a Mark Trumbo homer in the 8th inning on Sunday to win, 2-1.

Two of the Orioles last three wins have come as a result of Mark Trumbo game-winning homers, including Sunday's 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay when the A.L. home-run leader connected on a solo shot in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The Baltimore bullpen was the story of the day, throwing five scoreless innings in relief of starter Wade Miley, who left mysteriously in the top of the fifth inning after not throwing one pitch.

Zach Britton nailed down his 45th save of the season with an imperfect 9th inning, as the Rays managed to get a runner to second base with one out before the closer nailed down the final two outs to help the O’s gain a game on the fading Toronto Blue Jays, who were shut out in Los Angeles, 4-0.

28,000 and change attended Sunday’s home game, yet another “average” crowd for the O’s, who topped 30,000 just once in the four-game series with the Rays and generated roughly 107,000 fans in the Thursday through Sunday showdown with Tampa Bay.

I’m sure Mr. Angelos is thrilled with those weekend gate receipts.

And now, speaking of attendance, the Red Sox come to town for the most important 4-game series of the season, starting tonight at Camden Yards.

How many folks will make their way into the stadium over the next four nights?

More than 100,000? Or less?

That’s 25,000 per-game, in case you went to Old Mill High School – or you’re a Flyers fan.

Please tell me we’re going to draw more than 25,000 per-night.

We are, right?

For the record, I say the Birds draw 103,000 in the next four games vs. Boston.

That’s not great, obviously, but it is what it is.

With the A.L. East division chase in the balance, the Birds send Dylan Bundy to the mound tonight to take on Rick Porcello in the series opener.

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get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 20 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.

September 18

Week 2

Volume XXVI
Issue 18
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

1:00 PM EDT

First Energy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio

These kind of lay-up games don’t come along often in the NFL.

That is, unless you’re in the AFC North and you get two meetings with the Browns each season.

The Ravens head to Cleveland today with what essentially amounts to a battle with The Little Sisters of the Poor. Frankly, the Sisters might put up more of a fight than the Browns will this afternoon.

Yes, I know. “The Browns are a professional team”. I’m well aware of that.

Yes, I remember last season when Cleveland came into Baltimore and edged the Ravens in overtime. A blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. Just ask The Beatles.

And, yes, I know all too well the famous NFL motto: “On any given Sunday.”

None of that will matter today.

The Ravens aren’t losing to the Browns this afternoon.

If they do – somehow – fail to win in Cleveland today, it would rank as one of the worst regular-season losses in John Harbaugh’s tenure in Baltimore.

But it’s not happening, have no fear.

It’s not happening because the Browns are terrible. They’ve been terrible for the last five years and will, I assume, be terrible for the next five years as well. They’re the Orioles from 2000-2010, except they play football and they're in Cleveland.

They’re losers.

The final score really doesn’t matter, but lots of folks will look to the margin of victory today as a way of determining if the Ravens are worthy of praise.

Let’s make sure we understand something about road games in the NFL.

All that matters – let’s put ALL in capital letters – when you play away from home in the NFL is winning the game.

Last Sunday’s snoozer with the Bills in Baltimore most certainly lacked style points, I’ll admit that. It was somewhat worrisome to see the Ravens offense sputter and gag like they did, particularly in the second half. And, because the game was played in Baltimore, followers of the team expected more glitter than a 13-7 nailbiter.

Today, though, 13-7 would work just fine.

As you’ll see below, I think it’s going to be a much wider margin than six points, but make no mistake about it, when you’re on the road in the NFL, a win is a freakin’ win, period.

The Ravens will get that win today. You can make book on that.

come see us at glory days grill

If you’re looking for a great place to watch the Ravens game and you’d like a chance at winning our trip to see Notre Dame vs. Duke next weekend in South Bend, please stop out to Glory Days Grill in Towson today from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and enter our contest.

I’ll be there with my friends from Q1370, Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart, and we’ll be watching the Ravens kick some butt and giving that trip away during halftime of the game in Cleveland.

Hope to see you there!

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five ways for the ravens to win

As we do every Sunday here at #DMD, let’s open up the playbook and give you Five Ways For The Ravens To Win this afternoon in Cleveland.

1. Get Ahead Early -- The best way to get a team that stinks to realize they stink is to jump out early and start the onslaught right from the start. With this in mind, if the Ravens win the coin toss, it would be prudent for John Harbaugh to take the ball to start the game. That’s not Harbaugh’s M.O. most of the time, but today, it should be.

And, by all means, take the points early in the game if they’re available to you. Don’t go for it on 4th and 3 from the 31 yard line in the first quarter. Bring Tucker on, get the three points, and roll from there.

2. Go deep, go deep, go deep -- The Ravens had some success stretching the field last week in the first half of the win over Buffalo, then mysteriously stopped going long in the final two quarters. Today, with the Ravens’ receiving corps at full strength (if it’s true that Perriman’s calf is “just fine”), Joe Flacco and Company should be thinking “deep, deep and deeper”.

3. Put pressure on McCown -- There are some quarterbacks in the league – Ben Roethlisberger comes to mind – who are actually more effective if they feel pressure from the outside. Josh McCown is NOT one of those QB’s. He has a strong arm, yes, and, as he showed last year in Baltimore, can make some decent downfield throws if he has time, but the Ravens number one goal defensively today should be to rattle McCown with blitz pressure on obvious passing situations.

The Baltimore pass rush wasn’t anything to write home about last week against the Bills. That needs to change this afternoon in Cleveland. Get to McCown.

4. Let West get his revenge -- Terrance West will have something to prove today. Let him prove it. The former Towson University running back suffered the ultimate kick to the groin at his first stop in the NFL – he was let go by the Browns, of all teams. West will want to show off a bit today, and I say go ahead and let him. Get the ball to West 20 times or more and watch him rack up 100 yards and a couple of TD’s.

5. Stay away from penalties -- Over the years – in the Harbaugh era, that is – one constant theme when the Ravens lose to one of these “chump teams” has been too many penalties. For whatever reason, the Ravens have trouble maintaining their discipline – as a team – against inferior opponents. It’s important for Harbaugh’s team to stay focused today and not the let the Browns draw them into silly penalties.

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who has the edge?

On offense: -- The Ravens are clearly the superior offensive team, but the Browns do have some weapons and a quarterback who has some recent experience with success against Baltimore, albeit on the road and not in Cleveland. The Ravens can run it and throw it. And they’re really good, potentially, at both of those endeavors. The Browns churned out 120 yards on the ground last Sunday in Philadelphia, so expect them to try and establish the run today as well. Edge on offense: Ravens

On defense -- We’re talking one week of course, which is a very small sample size, but the Cleveland defense got mollywhopped by the Eagles’ offense last Sunday both in the air (278 yards allowed) and on the ground (133 yards allowed). Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense was smothering a laughably inept Buffalo offense. Cleveland will need a major defensive upgrade today to hang in there with the Ravens. Edge on defense: Ravens

On special teams -- The field goal battle easily favors the Ravens, as veteran kicker Justin Tucker obviously gets the nod here over Cleveland’s Patrick Murray. The punting department, though, might be a toss-up. Sam Koch has long been a secret weapon of the Ravens, but Britton Colquitt of the Browns is averaging 50 yards a punt so far in 2016. Baltimore still has an unsettled return game in both the punting and kick-off departments, but even those two issues aren’t enough to tip the scales here. Edge on special teams: Ravens

How Will This One Play Out?

The Ravens will jump ahead early 14-0 on the strength of touchdown throws from Flacco to Steve Smith Sr. and Dennis Pitta. The Browns get a late second quarter score to make it 14-7 at the half. Because old habits are hard to break, the Ravens will give up a tying touchdown early in the 3rd quarter, then snatch a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter. Two fourth quarter TD’s will offset one late touchdown by the Browns, and a final pick six from Jimmy Smith will seal the deal as the Ravens win 38-21.

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”show me the money”

We got off to a good start last Sunday with a 4-2 mark in our “for entertainment purposes only” segment here called “Show Me The Money”.

Each week here at #DMD, we choose five games (point spreads listed on and the Ravens game, plus we give one of those six games as our “Best Bet of the Day”.

Last week’s record: 4-2

Year-to-date record: 4-2

Ravens games: 1-0

Best Bet of The Day: 1-0

Titans at Lions (-6) -- OK, so this one looks almost too good to be true, which usually means it is. The Lions, coming off of a nice (surprising) win at Indianapolis, while the Titans falling at home to the Vikings last Sunday. I don’t think Detroit’s for real in 2016, but we know for sure Tennessee isn’t. Let’s take the Lions here in a 28-20 win.

Cowboys at Redskins (-3) -- Yes, I saw what happened to the Redskins last Monday night when they got throttled at home by the Steelers. But Dallas isn’t beating anyone with that Prescott guy at quarterback. Washington isn’t as bad as they looked on Monday night. Take the Redskins and give the points all day long, as Washington wins 26-13.

Chiefs at Texans (-1.5) -- Remember what the Chiefs did to the Texans in Houston last January in their playoff game? That won’t be happening today, I assure you. Let’s buy some stock in the “week after a miracle letdown” and take the Texans to beat the Chiefs in this one, 24-22.

Buccaneers at Cardinals (-7) – That was a bad loss by the Cardinals last Sunday night, as the Brady/Gronkowski-less Patriots went to Arizona and pulled off an improbable win. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, but a beating on the Falcons in Atlanta. The Bucs are for real, as they’re going to show today in their match-up with the Cardinals. Tampa Bay covers and wins in overtime by the final score of 30-24.

Jaguars at Chargers (-3) – I’d normally say a team that blows a lead like the Chargers did last week would have a tough time coming back the next week and getting the job done, but San Diego gets the benefit of Jacksonville coming to town. The Jaguars are going to be improved this year, as the Ravens might very well find out next Sunday in Florida, but they’re not going to San Diego and winning this one today. The Chargers rebound from last Sunday’s collapse in K.C. and beat the Jaguars today, 29-21.

Ravens (-6) at Browns -- As you saw above, the Ravens open up the offense in this one and turn a nailbiter into a laugher with a 21-point eruption in the 4th quarter to pull away and win 38-21.

Best Bet of The Day -- The Redskins aren’t losing to the Cowboys. And since it’s only three points, the easy call here is to take Washington and give the points

get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 14 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.

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September 17th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 17
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why tampa is in last place
and the o’s are almost in first

Zach Britton came within an eyelash of blowing his first save of the season last night, but a perfect throw from Bourn to Machado and a perfect relay from Machado to Wieters cut down Tampa Bay's potential game-tying run in the top of the ninth inning.

Maybe Tampa Bay third-base coach Charlie Montoya figured there was no way Zach Britton would give up three straight hits in the ninth hitting.

Maybe he forgot that a wild pitch or passed ball to the next hitter would have tied the game.

Or maybe that’s what last-place teams do when the games don’t mean anything to them in September.

Whatever the case, the ending of last night’s 5-4 Orioles win was typical of how last-place teams become last-place teams, and clubs – like the Birds – who have a chance to win the division title with two weeks left in the season, are good enough to reach that level.

The Birds got back in the win column last night with a well deserved one-run win that kept them two games behind Boston in the A.L. East and further distanced themselves from the Yankees, who are now just about finished in the Wild Card race with 70 losses after getting beat by the Red Sox on Friday evening.

Zach Britton improved to 44-for-44 in save situations this year, although he nearly coughed up the one-run edge he inherited in the top of the 9th. After giving up a two-out single, Britton was tagged for a double into the left field corner, where Michael Bourn was able to get to it quickly and fire a throw to Manny Machado, who whipped the relay to Matt Wieters in time to catch Tampa Bay’s Mikie Mahtook before he crossed home plate.

The logic there, I assume, was that third-base coach Charlie Montoya figured the Rays couldn’t get another hit off the normally untouchable Britton.

The Rays might not have needed a hit if Montoya had held up Mahtook at third. Britton had already thrown two balls in the dirt during the inning, and even though he is by by no means the “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn on the mound, it’s not out of the question to wonder whether the closer might have thrown one past Wieters with that out-of-this-world sinker he owns.

Either way, holding up Mahtook was the smart thing to do there.

But that’s why Tampa Bay is in last place.

The Orioles execution at the plate in the 8th inning and in the field in the 9th inning is why they’re closing in on their third playoff appearance in the last five seasons.

Although they failed miserably in the clutch on Thursday night, going 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position, the Birds were able to produce two runs in the 8th inning on Friday night and had only one base hit to show for it.

Maybe it wasn’t classic hitting, but it was good enough to get the job done.

And in the 9th, despite Tampa Bay’s foolish base-running blunder, the play to end the game was executed perfectly, with Bourn getting to the ball, firing a perfect strike to Machado, who then rifled a great throw to Wieters for the final out.

Oh, and not for nothin’, but if Hyun Soo Kim is playing left field in the 9th inning instead of Michael Bourn, there’s no telling what happens on that ball hit in the corner by Ramirez.

Here’s what I assumed would have happened: The game would have been tied at 5-5.

Chalk one up for Buck Showalter there, who got a well-timed, terrific outing from Bourn, both with the glove and the bat. His sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 8th put the Birds up 5-4 and capped a comeback from 4-0 down in the second inning.

And let’s give a tip of the cap to Dan Duquette, who whiffed on Wade Miley at the trade deadline and didn’t do much by adding Drew Stubbs late last month. However, Bourn has been proven to be a valuable late-season addition for the O’s.

I think the Orioles will make the post-season by more than one game, but if the Birds do wind up in the playoffs by the margin of just one win, that performance from Bourn on Friday night was well worth the investment of adding him at the end of August.

Last but not least, let’s end this on a down note.

Where on earth were the fans on Friday night?

An announced crowd of 30,094 jammed their way into Camden Yards on a perfect early-Fall night for baseball.

Friday night? Playoffs in the balance? Beautiful weather?

None of that apparently mattered last night.

The attendance discussion has been driven into the ground over the last six weeks, but last night’s woeful crowd was probably the lowlight of all lowlights as far as butts-in-the-seats go.

I don’t get it.

I thought this city liked the baseball team.

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four quarters of college football

DMD’s college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with his thoughts on the opening two weeks of the 2016 campaign.

First Quarter: Week 1, Part 2? – The third week of the college football season is another fantastic series of key match-ups. You could argue it's better than Week 1, with several key conference games and a few one-loss teams facing playoff elimination (and we are still in September).

One of those one-loss teams is Notre Dame, who gets a visit from Michigan State. The Spartans usually beat you with a quality running game, outstanding defense, and a few big pass plays. They did not show much in their opening game against FCS Furman but had a week-two bye to work out the kinks.

The good news for Notre Dame is that Brian Kelly has settled on DeShone Kizer as the team's quarterback. The bad news is that their inexperienced receivers and secondary are weaker due to injuries. Notre Dame should win, but probably won’t cover the 7½ - point spread.

Another one-loss team under the microscope is USC. The Trojans couldn't handle a physical Alabama team in Week 1, and they are in trouble against Stanford this Saturday.  The Notre Dame faithful will be pulling for Stanford in hopes their (potential) win over the Cardinal on October 15th will offset their opening-game double-overtime loss to Texas in the eyes of the playoff committee.

Second Quarter: Big 12 elimination? – The state of Oklahoma has a chance to re-establish the Big 12’s reputation this weekend. Thus far in 2016, the conference is a poor 2-4 against Power Five conference foes, just 9-4 against everyone else, and has only three teams remaining unbeaten (Texas, West Virginia, and Baylor).

One-loss Oklahoma will face Urban Meyer and his untested Buckeyes. Ohio State struggled offensively last week against Tulsa and showed similar trends to 2015 when J.T. Barrett could not get into a rhythm.

In Oklahoma’s loss to Houston in Week 1, the Sooner defense played well on first- and second-down, and forced Houston into four field-goals. However, the Cougars converted on 50% of their third-down plays, including several third-and-long situations. As long as the underdog Sooners remain balanced on offense, the call here is, Oklahoma wins a close game.

Eighty miles away, one-loss Oklahoma State hosts the University of Pittsburgh. The feel-good story of the year is the return of James Conner, the Panther’s running back who overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma and an MCL-tear to start again this year.

Nothing against Conner, but we’re going with Oklahoma State to beat an uneven Pittsburgh team. (BTW, Mike Gundy, the Cowboys’ head coach, should not complain about the officiating in last week’s game because he does not know the rules himself – OSU lost on an untimed Hail Mary and lateral play that should not have happened. And your team should be been beating Central Michigan by more than one score anyway.)

Third Quarter: Newest rival? – Since 2008, Alabama has gone 56-8 in the regular season in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. Only three teams have beaten Alabama more than once in that span.

LSU beat the Crimson Tide in 2010 and 2011, but has lost every match-up since, including the 2011 National Championship game.

In-state-rival Auburn beat Alabama in 2010 and 2013, the latter game now known as the Kick-Six game.

But the newest thorn in Nick Saban’s side is Ole Miss, who have won the last two match-ups with the Crimson Tide and who face Alabama this weekend.

The pressure of this week’s battle with Ole Miss might have surfaced last weekend during Alabama's win over Western Kentucky.  Saban explained a sideline incident with offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin during that game this way: “There were no arguments. Those are called a**-chewings.”

Afterwards he said “I don't know that I've ever been this disappointed after winning a game, maybe ever. We have lots of work to do.” Nick Saban is a great motivator and his outbursts last week were all about beating Ole Miss this week. – Alabama rolls over Ole Miss in this one.

Fourth Quarter: The next Michael Vick? - Louisville will have a major impact on the college-football playoffs later in the season, and possibly might be selected themselves.

The Cardinals play three teams viewed as serious contenders – Houston and ACC-Atlantic-Division-mates Clemson and Florida State. Head coach Bobby Petrino has developed an offensive machine, led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, that will be tested against Florida State this Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Lamar Jackson, a dual-threat sophomore, has accounted for 13 touchdowns and 1,015 yards of offense in six quarters of action. Not impressed because of his competition? In last year’s bowl victory over Texas A&M, he accounted for four touchdowns and 453 yards.

It was recently revealed that Jackson did not study the playbook until the after the 2015 regular season and now understands the offensive schemes. Florida State brings an outstanding defense but will not have their best player, Derwin James.

Seminole fans might flashback to the 2000 Sugar Bowl in which Michael Vick almost single-handedly beat them for the National Championship. However this game will look more like Week 1, where Florida State had to outscore its opponent in a high-scoring affair.

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calvert hall nips curley in
soccer showdown, 2-1

A funny thing happened in Friday night’s cross-town rivalry soccer game between Calvert Hall and Curley.

The team with the bulk of the scoring chances – Curley – came up on the short end of a 2-1 result.

The side with realistically only three or four quality scoring opportunities – Calvert Hall – wound up on the good end of that 2-1 final score.

Ben Alexander’s goal with 23 minutes left in the game was the final tally of the night and gave the host Cardinals a much needed win in front of a raucous, overflow crowd of 3,000 at Kelly Field.

Alexander’s goal was the last time either team would find the net, but it certainly wasn’t the final scoring opportunity of the night.

Curley continued to pepper the Calvert Hall goal in the final 20 minutes and had three glorious chances to tie the game, including an indirect free kick from 12 yards out with two and a half minutes left after CHC goalkeeper Kyle Cooper mistakenly picked up the ball after it had been played back to him off the foot of a Cardinals defensive player.

But the shot from Curley went wide right and their best scoring chance of the second half was wasted.

Calvert Hall opened the scoring in the game’s first minute and Curley scored in the final minute of the first half to send the teams to the locker room deadlocked at 1-1.

”We had a lot of chances to score, but didn’t do a good job of finishing those opportunities,” said Curley coach Barry Stitz afterwards. “We had a number of balls in the corner that we sent into the box, but for some reason we just couldn’t deliver a quality ball in there when we needed it.”

Calvert Hall improved to 5-1 on the season and bounced back from a 2-1 loss at Loyola this past Wednesday. Curley fell to 3-1-1 on the season.

”We needed this one,” Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand said afterwards. “It’s always a tough game against them. We got a nice goal from Ben there that proved to be enough.”

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who wants to go with #dmd to see
notre dame host duke
on sept. 24?

Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play football?

Is it a bucket-list trip for you?

You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 a.m., plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1:00 p.m.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You cannot transfer the trip to someone else! If it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round-trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville; ground transportation; one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!

September 16th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 16
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despite the loss last night, i’m proud

OK, so the headline was a bit of trickery on my part.

I was hoping you’d read the headline above and say, “What on earth is Drew talking about? Proud of a loss? He’s nuts.”

I’m not proud of last night’s loss.

I’m disappointed.

On a night when Buck’s boys needed a win to keep pace with Boston, who pulled off a miracle 9th-inning win over the Yankees, they instead lost a one-run heartbreaker to the last place Rays, 7-6.

Our two big guns came up in the 9th with the tying run on third base and fell flat. Mark Trumbo struck out with one out and Chris Davis whiffed to end the game moments later.

But I’m still proud this morning.

Not of the Orioles, mind you.

I’m proud of Drew’s Morning Dish.

Our columnist, Brien Jackson, takes a stab this morning at perhaps the country’s most polarizing sports topic this morning and nails it the way Counting Crows nailed their debut album, “August and Everything After” in 1993.

I don’t know that Jackson nailed his opinion as much as he nailed the way an opinion should be handled.

What he wrote was well thought-out, reasoned according to some fairly simple logic, and presented in a way that was thought-provoking and intelligent.

I don’t particularly agree with some of the things Brien wrote. Our flag is not just a piece of cloth with some symbols on it. It’s our nation’s emblem, just like your family crest is the heritage of your history and dates back as far as your family’s extension allows it.

I think a person’s place of employment is a poor place to launch a protest of any kind, as it naturally connects your employer with the cause you’re trying to justify.

While Jackson didn’t address that situation, verbatim, his obvious and open support of Colin Kaepernick suggests he’s OK with Kaepernick protesting the national anthem while wearing his “work uniform”, otherwise known as the jersey and helmet of the San Francisco 49’ers.

If, say, any player on any team suddenly launched a campaign favoring, merely as an extreme example here, slavery, and “took a knee” to show his support for that, how quickly would the NFL squash that sort of protest?

And why would they?

Because they wouldn’t want that protest on “their watch”.

This, then, is where it gets sticky.

We can either protest at work – on the NFL sidelines – or we can’t. Does it matter what we protest for or, even, against?

Outside of your place of employment, it shouldn’t matter one iota. In your place of employment, though, unless you’re given specific approval from your employer, you shouldn’t be allowed to protest or rally for a cause that could lead to public scrutiny or embarrassment to your employer who may or may not endorse your viewpoints.

But that’s really my only formal gripe with Kaepernick.

I think everyone should stand for the national anthem.

I think everyone in school should say the Pledge of Allegiance.

And I think everyone won’t do that because, well, that’s just the way we’ve been built in this country.

Everything is worthy of challenge.

I suppose that’s how we get better. As people, as communities, and as a nation.

I applaud Brien’s effort today, which you’ll read below.

It doesn’t mesh with my personal beliefs, but neither does the current tax-system in our country, yet I still send in my returns every April 15th as I'm required to do.

I’m proud of the work we produce here.

I hope Brien’s opinion and the fact we allow ourselves to post thoughts that might run counter to what we believe in, personally, is a reason why you visit this website every day.

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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.

A 22-year-old man walks into a Wal-Mart on a Tuesday afternoon. He grabs a BB gun in the sporting-goods section and continues shopping. As he's walking through the store, talking on his cell phone, he's rushed by police officers and shot within seconds. He's transported to a local hospital, where he dies.

A 12-year-old boy is playing with a pellet gun in a park, and police cars race to the scene to confront him. In less than three seconds from the time the cars arrive on the scene, he's gunned down by the officers. He will die in the hospital the next day, and the local government will send his family a bill for his ambulance ride.

These are the stories of John Crawford and Tamir Rice of Beavercreek and Cleveland, Ohio, respectively.

Both of these incidents were captured on cellphone video, so neither the facts nor timelines are in question. Ohio state law, it should be noted, fully protects an individual's right to carry a firearm openly in public places. There is no room for ambiguity or disagreement with the facts in these cases, and the only reasonable and rational conclusion is that the police gunned down citizens who were violating no laws, and did so in time frames that gave neither victim the opportunity to comply with officers' directives.

Neither Crawford nor Rice could have responded in these situations in ways that don't end up with them being killed by agents of the state.

Grand juries in both jurisdictions declined to return indictments of any of the officers involved in these shootings. The legal system has decided that their actions do not require trials to determine if they violated the law.

Perhaps the faults here lie in the choices Crawford and Rice made before the police arrived on the scenes.

Instead of buying a toy gun at a store that sells real guns, or playing with an apparently realistic toy in public in an open-carry state, Crawford and Rice should have chosen to walk into a church in South Carolina and kill nine strangers at Bible study.

Or shoot 70 people – killing ten – in a movie theater in Colorado.

Or shoot 18 people – including a member of the United States Congress – in Arizona. In all of these cases, the suspected murderers were apprehended alive by law enforcement.

Or walk around a public park in Georgia on Little League Opening Day brandishing a firearm, prompting dozens of concerned parents and park-goers to call the local police.

In that case, police would determine, because Georgia law protected the person's right to carry a firearm openly, that he wasn't breaking any laws, and thus there wasn't anything they could do about it. Heck, even Timothy McVeigh was taken into custody alive.

Of course there's a difference here. I assume it's obvious: All of these guys are white and Crawford and Rice were black.

Maybe this doesn't matter on a primal level. Nonetheless, it's getting awfully damned hard not to notice that a white person has a better chance of surviving an interaction with law enforcement – no matter how many people they've killed – than a young black man who isn't breaking any laws.

I dwell on this because it feels like we need to dwell on this a lot more these days. Amidst a cacophony of gaseous hand-wringing and theatrical outrage over our symbols of patriotism, every now and then it needs to be shouted loudly that this is the central issue in our grand controversy over whether Colin Kaepernick stands for the national anthem.

I've been reluctant to try to compose the totality of my thoughts on Kaepernick's gesture, both because it's not really a sports story and because it's a really big, sprawling, complex issue that is not best adjudicated in the format in which I usually write.

As it stands now, the controversy has touched on everything from the issue of police brutality to the extent to which we're willing to allow expression of the rights we tell ourselves are supposed to be inalienable and, if you really wanted to, you could write a book about the social implications.

But there are two themes that keep cropping up in opposition to Kaepernick's stand (or failure to stand) that I do feel compelled to address.

The first is the notion that, whatever the merits of Kaepernick's position, drawing attention to it by protesting during the playing of the national anthem is beyond the pale, and a transgression in its own right.

There are two distinct issues I have with this argument. The first, and more relevant, is that this form of concern-trolling is a given whenever there's some form of high-profile protest.

You can't name a single well-known protest from any period in history that didn't meet with a bunch of people hitting the fainting couches about how it was all done in the wrong way.

Abolitionists just before the outbreak of the Civil War?


Muhammad Ali in real time?

Dear Lord, yes.

Martin Luther King Jr., now held up as a paragon for his leadership of peaceful protests in American society, met with such hand wringing over his marches against Bull Connor and his demonstrations at segregated lunch counters (which were technically illegal) that he identified (in his Letters From a Birmingham Jail,), those "moderate" whites who agreed with his goals but fretted over how to politely demand, say, the right to register to vote without being lynched, as a larger threat to the success of the civil-rights movement than avowed racists like Connor and George Wallace.

And there are always exceptions to the rule.

Colin Kaepernick's refusal to place his hand over his heart for the presentation of the colors is considered a grave offense, but plastering images of the flag on T-shirts, baseball caps, paper plates, and beer mugs – in direct violation of the American flag code – draws not so much as a furrowed brow.

Nor does the booing of the pre-recorded statement of the President of the United States during a pre-game ceremony honoring first reponders who died on 9/11.

Does anyone doubt there's a healthy overlap between people outraged about Kaepernick and those who either booed the American head of state or who didn't voice disapproval of those who did last Sunday?

Along these lines is the all-too-common tendency not only to normalize a particular, narrow viewpoint, but to universalize it as something with which everyone must agree.

I can understand the viewpoint of someone who sees The Star Spangled Banner as symbolic of the United States, but, to be frank, I don't share that perspective.

With respect to local heritage, The Star Spangled Banner is a mediocre poem at best, written by a crappy human being I'd rather not be celebrating in the 21st century.

Francis Scott Key was a vicious proponent of slavery. As a state prosecutor, he trampled the First Amendment in his efforts to shut down anti-slavery newspapers in the antebellum period. A later verse of his anthem includes a line celebrating the deaths of runaway slaves who were fighting with the British for their freedom from American slavery (that seems an appropriate irony for the modern day, doesn't it?).

The musical tune to which the anthem was set was a traditional drinking song from ENGLAND! Count me as one who firmly believes it should be replaced as the national anthem by America the Beautiful and then dismissed as a relic from an unfortunate period in our country's history.

The flag, likewise, is just a piece of cloth with a particular design on it. Were every single one of them to disappear into the ether tomorrow, not a single thing would change about America.

To me, patriotism and the conceptualization of American greatness is not about anthems or flags, but about the ideals we believe those symbols represent.

What differentiates the United States as an exceptional country isn't the design of our flag but the constitutional guarantee that criticism of the government, no matter how harsh or unsparing, may not be officially punished.

In other words, the right that Kaepernick is being demonized for exercising, and the right that people like John Crawford and Tamir Rice have been outright denied.

When Crawford or Rice – or Oscar Grant or Eric Garner or Walter Scott – can be summarily executed, lines in the anthem verse about "the land of the free" ring hollow in my ears.

And then there is the maddening and borderline Orwellian invocation of "veterans."

Here's the thing: If we dare to talk about veterans as actual people rather than as abstract, dehumanized tools to be used as bloody shirts for the advancement of personal beliefs, then we must recognize that like all large groups, veterans have a multitude of opinions, worldviews, and perspectives, and ascribing to them as a class a singular position removes their agency and objectifies them, and in the process, disrespects and dismisses the perspectives of veterans who disagree with the ascribed position.

To make unwarranted assertions that veterans fought for the flag or that Kaepernick's protest is illegitimate because of how veterans view it is to ignore views expressed by veterans themselves on the #veteransforkaepernick Twitter campaign, or expressed by my uncle Kent, who made a career of military service, and who served in Saudi Arabia and in the Desert Storm campaign, and who wrote on Facebook:

”I feel like I just have to address this, the whole thing about Colin Kaepernick. I'm a disabled retired Army war veteran. Mr Kaepernick just like every other American citizen has the right under the 1st Amendment to express his opinion. The 1st Amendment does not say only smart people with good ideas may express themselves. Although I do not agree with everything he has to say it's his right. I fought for those rights. So all of you civilians who never spent a day with your ass in the grass need to understand how it works. 1st Amendment rights don't stop where your Pathetic Feelings start. Grow up.”

And put simply, if you're making broad-based claims about the opinions of veterans while ignoring the views of those veterans who don't agree with you, perhaps you ought to consider whether you are actually respecting them, honoring the nature of their service as they see it, or extending to them the basic right to speak for themselves. Because, well, you're not.

But now I land in a conundrum because I have no real idea how to transition to a conclusion to this piece that gets across my feelings in the way I want to articulate them.

Mostly that's because a conclusion is supposed to be, well, a conclusion. An end. A declaration of finality.

As it stands now, there's no end in sight to this problem. Colin Kaepernick may stop kneeling for the national anthem, or maybe he'll keep doing it, and eventually we'll just stop caring about it, one way or the other.

There will be another John Crawford, another Sandra Bland, another Philando Castille.

In all likelihood no one will be asked to account for the termination of their lives, and when people get mad about that, they'll be told that they are the problem, and expecting law enforcement officers not to kill people in the streets except in the most extreme cases is simply asking too much.

Unless, it appears, the subject is a well-armed mass murderer who just happens to be white.

Dylann Roof gets his empty stomach filled with Burger King entrees – Tamir Rice got his filled with bullets.

And the one minute it will take you to write your anti-Kaepernick comments is roughly 25 times as long as Officer Timothy Loehmann gave a 12-year-old child to live from the moment he arrived on the scene.

Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Play Ball.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

Now that we have all had a few days to catch our collective breath following one of the most exciting Manchester Derbies since the title decider back in 2012, Matchday 5 of the English Premier League gets underway this afternoon with the second Friday Night Football fixture of the season and kickoffs spread throughout the weekend, including a full slate of Sunday matchups that will take you right up to the Ravens kickoff at 1pm.

As usual, you can catch all of the action live throughout the weekend on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Friday, September 16 (all times eastern)

3pm – Liverpool @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

Liverpool made short work of Leicester City at the remodeled Anfield last weekend, with a brace on either side of a defensive miscue, which Jamie Vardy quickly pounced on, the only blemish in 4-1 victory over the defending champions.

They will travel to Stamford Bridge for the season’s second edition of Friday Night Football to square off with Chelsea who, after losing an early lead, saved a point against Swansea City with Diego Costa’s overhead kick in the game’s final ten minutes making it two on the day and four in four games for the revitalized striker to keep the Blues unbeaten so far on the young season.

While Costa and Chelsea have lost just once in their last eight league matches against Liverpool (W3 D4), they have managed to take all three points from the Reds in only one of their last three encounters at Stamford Bridge and will find themselves shorthanded in defense when the vaunted Liverpool attack, that looks to be growing in confidence with each passing week, comes calling as captain and center back John Terry will miss out through an ankle injury, with deadline day signing David Luiz getting the nod to fill in for his first appearance at the Bridge since he left for PSG two summers ago.

Saturday, September 17 (all times eastern)

10am – Arsenal @ Hull City – KCOM Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Arsenal were hardly convincing at the Emirates Stadium last weekend when they went behind early and needed an injury time penalty kick from Santi Cazorla to steal all three points away from Southampton in a 2-1 victory, with the Saints likely to feel aggrieved by the referee’s decision to award the spot kick on what replays showed to be a certainly soft foul.

They will travel to the KCOM Stadium to take on a Hull City side that similarly left it late but managed to grab another point when Robert Snodgrass’ free kick in the final minute of injury time moved the Tigers level on points with the Gunners in the table.

Newly promoted but already relegated in some circles even before the season’s first kick of the ball, the Tigers have been the surprise team of the early goings, the draw giving Hull seven points and their best joint start to a Premier League campaign in the club’s history, although they face a difficult ask this weekend against an Arsenal side whom they have dropped all three points against in six of their last seven meetings (D1 L6) and have only beaten in three of their of their twenty four meetings across all competitions (D5 L16), including losses in five of the last six at the KCOM Stadium (W1 L5).

Sunday, September 18 (all times eastern)

7am – Manchester United @ Watford – Vicarage Road, NBC Sports Network

After being outclassed tactically in the first half by longtime counterpart Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho’s halftime tinkering brought his Manchester United side back into the game but were ultimately unable to breach a resolute Manchester City, who held on for a 2-1 victory in the 172nd edition of the Manchester Derby.

United will hope to bounce back when they kick off the busy Sunday slate of games with a visit to Vicarage Road and Watford, with the Hornets still buzzing after they over turned an early 2-0 deficit at West Ham United with four unanswered goals to run out 4-2 winners at the Olympic Stadium.

It was a critical three points for Watford who, after running the gauntlet to open the campaign with matches against four teams that all finished in the top half of the table last season, notched their first victory of the season as the $66 million that new manager Walter Mazzarri shelled out during the summer transfer window, including shattering their club transfer record on two separate occasions, is beginning to look like an investment that will soon pay dividends ahead of the visit from United, who have beaten the Hornets in each of their last nine meetings, including the last six in the league.

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who wants to go with #dmd to see
notre dame host duke
on sept. 24?

Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play football?

Is it a bucket-list trip for you?

You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 a.m., plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1:00 p.m.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You cannot transfer the trip to someone else! If it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round-trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville; ground transportation; one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!

get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23

The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 14 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.

please click here to see previous issues of #dmd.

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