November 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 30
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make sundays great again -- tiger returns

This time, unlike back in October, there's no turning back for Tiger Woods.

He's on site in the Bahamas, has played a couple of practice rounds, and looks -- according to those there who have been able to sneak a peek -- "like he's found something".

But there's a difference between playing nine holes with Justin Rose and Derek Jeter (remember him?) and teeing it up on Thursday and competing against Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, the two he's paired with in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge.

Woods, of course, knows that.

You don't win 79 career events and 14 majors without knowing a little something about the realities of golf. As the great Bobby Jones once said, "There's golf and then there's tournament golf. And the two are not at all the same."

So, launching what is likely the final chapter of his illustrious playing career, Tiger Woods faces off against 17 of the world's best players tomorrow for four days in the Bahamas. It's "silly money" for the guys in the field, and no one's feelings get hurt if they finish in last place, but one guy really does have something to play for -- and it's Tiger Woods.

I ordered two of them already. For when the first one gets worn out.

Yes, it's crazy. But the greatest player of the last 30 years has to prove himself yet once again.

Anyone who follows golf closely knows what has happened. Sort of.

Woods once beat everyone in golf like a drum, week in, week out, with his "A" game, "B" game and even the occasional "C" game. It was laughable how much better he was then everyone else.

But that was a long time ago, circa 2012 or so, when Tiger was still winning five or six events a season and essentially picking and choosing when he wanted to play. He could lay-off for five weeks and then jump right back in and beat everyone's brains in at the very next tour stop he played.

In the last two years, he hasn't won anything. Heck, he didn't even play at all in the 2016 PGA Tour "season" while recovering from two neck surgeries.

He's back, starting tomorrow, and this appears to be his final crack at everything he's ever chased.

Tiger is four wins shy of setting the all-time mark (and no, the Hero event wouldn't count) for career victories.

He's also four major victories shy of tying Jack Nicklaus at the top of the career majors list.

And, while it's easier to win four "regular" titles than four major titles, neither are going to come easy for Woods as he reaches his 41st birthday in late December.

There's probably something else driving Woods more than those wins, though.

He's basically been written off.

Nothing says "disrespect" to a champion like a member of the media saying "he's finished".

You'll notice no one in golf -- the players, caddies, etc. -- is saying that about Woods. They know, even if it's a flickering hope, that as long as Tiger is still playing, there's no telling what he is capable of, even at 41, even broken down, and even -- here it comes -- nowhere near the player he once was.

When the media says "that guy is done", you either ARE done or you prove to them that you aren't.

And that's precisely where Woods is these days.

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone willing to say they think Tiger can still catch Jack.

You won't find many folks who think he can win four more tournaments, even.

But you can find lots of people who say Tiger is finished.

My opinion? I think Woods can win again. But only if he's healthy. And only if he can maintain that health over an extended period of time, because there will be a "ramp up" part to his comeback that will require some patience from him as he gets his game back in "Tour shape".

I have no way of knowing at all if Tiger is 60% healthy, 80% healthy or 100% healthy. I'm not even sure he can get 100% healthy again. If he can't, I'm not sure he can win again.

But if Woods is, in fact, back to full health, he very much can win again.

Major titles? Well, far, far lesser accomplished players have captured major titles. They can be "fluky" wins, like Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Keegan Bradley and Ben Curtis. But they all count.

I don't expect Tiger to ever win another major.

But I sure would like to see him do it.

I'm excited to watch him this weekend, just to see what he does with the driver, how his short game holds up, and whether or not he still has "it" on the greens.

Having Woods playing again is MUCH better than having him NOT playing, no matter what he does.

There are 115 credentialed media members at the Hero World Challenge this week.

Last year? They handed out 24 credentials.

No one cared in 2015.

But they all care in 2016.

The great one is back.

Now, let's hope he can -- to borrow a familiar phrase -- make Sundays great again.

What do you think Tiger's going to do this week at the Hero World Challenge? Our #DMD poll below gives you the opportunity to vote on what you think Tiger's finish will be in the event. Please participate! We'll publish the poll results on Friday morning.

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In his radio days, Drew would offer a weekly cheap shot that was designed to be, well, a low blow to the intended target. Who gets the cheap shot today? You will find out below.

Most of what I did on the radio back in the old days doesn't work here.

I played "Raised on the Radio" every morning at 6:07 am to kick off my show, an ode to my days growing up listening to Orioles baseball and Capitals hockey on the radio and wanting to be either Chuck Thompson or Ron Weber when I grew up and got a real job.

I recited the Pledge of Allegience every morning after "Raised on the Radio" because, well, I'm an American and we used to do that in grade school and, back when people were saying the Pledge every morning and believing in the flag and saying "under God", the world seemed like a much better place to me.

Neither the song or the Pledge work here at #DMD.

But some other things that I did on the air might fit, and it's with some excitement that I bring back one of those "oldies but goodies" today in the form of "Cheap Shot From The Bleachers".

If you weren't a listener back then, "Cheap Shots" was pretty simple. It was, essentially, a 3-4 minute "rant" (sometimes longer, yes) that was intended to be a "low blow". I'd always end the opening dialogue by saying, "Please do not call the show and give me a hard time about what you're about to hear being a low blow or a cheap shot. It's supposed to be that way. That's the whole intention. If you finish hearing it and you say, 'That was a real cheap shot', then the segment was successful."

So, with that, here's the #DMD version of "Cheap Shots From The Bleachers". And please, spare me the comments below about this being a "cheap shot" or a "low blow". Please. It's supposed to be that way.

dickerson's wallet -- not his feelings -- is probably what's hurting

Something is really wrong with this situation involving the Los Angeles Rams and Eric Dickerson.

One of the two parties is either outright lying (a possibility) or simply doesn't want to let on that there's more to it than we're being told (also a possibility).

Here's the quick skinny. Former L.A. Rams running back Eric Dickerson is on the record now saying he was told by the Rams -- and specifically head coach Jeff Fisher -- that he's not welcome on the sidelines or at practice after Dickerson was openly critical of the team, the players and their style of play in recent appearances on L.A.-based and national radio and TV shows.

Fisher is saying the exact opposite.

Dickerson says he's been told he's not welcome.

Fisher says he's welcome anytime.

Something doesn't add up.

My guess? What's not adding up is money in Dickerson's pocket.

Now, Fisher might have very well said something like this to Dickerson during their recent phone conversation, the one where the running back swears Fisher said to him, "Don't come around anymore."

"Eric, we want you involved in the team, for sure. You're an icon with the franchise. Please, you have carte blanche to come around every day if you like. Stand on the sidelines with us during games. We want you involved. Just remember, though, what it was like to be a player and hear former players chewing you up on the radio or speaking ugly about the team or the franchise in a public forum. If you're going to be "with us" as an ambassador of sorts, just remember what it was like to be a player."

I can hear Fisher saying that, for sure.

I think most coaches would say something like that. After all, who wants a guy blowing the team up on talk radio and then standing there at practice the next day as if everything is lovey-dovey?

But Dickerson must want something else as part of the deal.

Eric Dickerson (left) and Jeff Fisher (right). Someone's not telling us the whole story. Or the true story.

"He's totally entitled to his opinion, and he has every right to be critical," Fisher said on Tuesday. "As I told him in the conversation, you can't have it both ways. You can't be critical, and then come back and ask for this and ask for that. That's just common sense. And we got it resolved. Again, based on that last conversation I had with him and the text, it was resolved."

What, then, is "this and that"? I'll tell you what I think it is.

When the Rams returned from St. Louis earlier this year, there was enthusiasm for the new franchise in L.A., but I doubt very seriously whether it overwhelmed the Southern California sports community. No one was camping out overnight to get Rams-Seahawks tickets, that's for darn sure.

And my guess is somewhere along the way, Dickerson reached out to the club and "asked" for a role. Or, perhaps, was even offered one without asking.

At some point, seeing an opportunity for a new franchise that probably needed a few sparks of connection to "the old regime", Dickerson likely asked for money.

How much? I have no idea. $25,000? $50,000? Heck, it might be worth $100,000 to have Eric Dickerson going around town talking up the Rams and asking the community to support the new franchise.

I don't know how much, but I'd bet anything Eric Dickerson asked for compensation to "come on board". I mean, let's be serious. Why would Eric Dickerson want to roam around on the sidelines at home games or check in at practice a couple of times a week? Just for kicks and free Gatorade? I doubt that's what was driving him to be involved.

Dickerson wanted to be involved, yes. But he wanted to be paid. You think Ray Lewis would come back to Baltimore for some sort of "ambassador" role for the six month football season and do it for free? There's zero chance of that happening.

In fairness, Dickerson was involved in a rather significant way last summer. He hosted the Rams' rookies at his house over the offseason, was part of the broadcast team during the preseason and attended the groundbreaking ceremony along with a handful of other luminaries.

Perhaps he did all of that free of charge. Maybe it was a "kindness of the heart" thing.

Something happened between September and now, though. My guess? Money DIDN'T happen.

And when Dickerson didn't get a check, he turned into a critical eye. When asked about the team, he said, "They stink". When asked about the organization he said, "They're doing nothing to connect with the Rams of old." When asked about the coaching staff he said, "They don't get it."

He went from hosting the rookies, glad-handing on behalf of the organization, and doing the preseason broadcasts to crushing the team publicly in the media.

Weird, weird, weird.

At some point, trying to soothe whatever wounds existed, Fisher contacted Dickerson and tried to get him over to the dark side, so to speak.

And, yes, maybe the coach reminded him that it would be easier for Dickerson to be part of the fabric of the club if he spent a little less time trashing them publicly.

Dickerson, still peeved over not getting a check, said Fisher told him "not to come around".

I don't buy it.

What I do buy, is Dickerson wanted to get paid and didn't.

And that's when he turned heel.

Which means, to me, he's way better off not being involved with the Rams after all.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2016-2017.

cleat of reality visits terps as pitt claims 73-59 win

With 12 minutes and 25 seconds remaining in the first half of last night's ACC/Big Ten Challenge at the Xfinity Center, the Maryland Terrapins held a one point advantage over the Panthers of Pitt, 16-15.

It was Maryland’s last lead of the night.

Pitt got hot, Maryland turned cold, and the result was a 30-9 run by Pitt that all but finished Maryland for the night. The Terps took way too many outside shots during this stretch while the combination of Jamel Artis and Michael Young dominated the young Maryland defenders. The result was a 21 point Pitt lead at the half 45-24.

The game was all but over at the intermission and Pitt coasted to a 73-59 victory.

Maryland now sits at 7-1 on the year while the Panthers upped their mark to 6-1.

Give coach Turgeon’s Terp squad some credit. They never quit last night and did make a valiant run in the second half, eventually getting the lead down to eight points on a layup by Anthony Cowan with 3:35 left in the game.

However, any hopes they had of another late game miracle ended when Dion Wiley missed a three and Cowan failed to connect on the front end of a one and one a few second later. The Terps just never had enough offense to get them over the hump.

I touted the Pitt tandem of Jamel Artis and Michael Young here in my game preview at #DMD on Tuesday morning. I said they'd be tough to handle. And that they were.

Artis (22 points, 6 rebounds), and Young (25 and 9) were dominant forces that Maryland couldn't answer. They, alone, outscored the Terps 25-24 in the first half.

There were too many instances where the 6’7” Artis found himself matched up against the smaller Maryland Terp guards and worked them for easy baskets. Eventually UM forward Justin Jackson was matched up with the tall slender Panther point guard, but the damage had been done.

Maryland’s ten turnovers in the first half against only five assists didn’t help either.

Offensively for the game, Maryland launched 36 three-point attempts and only connected on ten. You could understand the Terps launching 20 three point tries in the second half considering they were down by as much as 25 points in the half, but the 16 they put up in the first half (hitting only 4) was far too many. They shot only 3 times from the foul line in the opening 20 minutes.

Credit also needs to be given to the often used Pittsburgh zone defense.

They played a very active and aggressive 3-2 formation that forced Maryland to rely on 3-point shots. With no credible low-post presence, and dribble penetration difficult to come by, the Panther zone was effective in forcing Maryland away from the basket.

The second half was a bit sloppy with Pitt running clock and taking some poor shots while Maryland still struggled to score. Melo Trimble led all Terps scores with 13 points on 4-13 shooting. Cowan added 11 while Michal Cekovsky went 4-4 from the field and posted double digit points with 10. Freshman Terp Kevin Huerter pulled down a team high 9 rebounds.

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our holiday winter apparel drive will now officially be a "blast"

For those of you needing a little extra incentive to dig through those closets and storage spaces for your no-longer-worn winter apparel, we have it for you!

I'm excited to announce that the Baltimore Blast is joining with us as a partner in the 2016 "Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota".

Thanks to our friends at the Blast for partnering with #DMD for our holiday winter apparel drive! Bring us ten items of winter clothing and you'll get two free Blast tickets for their January 14th home game.

For those that might not know, my old radio pal Glenn Clark and I have been doing this for six years now, collecting winter apparel for men, women and children and donating it to the fine people at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

This year, we have three public drop-off locations coming up in December, and we're thrilled to have the Blast joining us to help you "dig a little deeper" for that winter apparel.

Anyone bringing us ten (10) articles of winter clothing gets two free tickets to the January 14 Blast home game when they host the Harrisburg Heat at the Royal Farms Arena.

What's an "article" of winter clothing, you ask? Easy: Anything that can be worn in the winter. Coats, jackets, pullovers, sweatshirts, winter hats, gloves, socks, boots, shoes.

And please know this is NOT just restricted to men's clothing, even though it's going to be donated to Helping Up Mission, which is an "all male" facility.

Many of the guys use the women's or children's clothing for holiday gifts to their loved ones. It's a very touching scene down there to see men so excited about finding something to give to a family member or friend when they otherwise wouldn't have been able to do so on their own.

Your participation is so appreciated by them! And we'll be video taping it all and presenting it here for you at #DMD so you can see first-hand what it's like on December 20 (donation day) at Helping Up Mission.

Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Visit Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road from 3 pm to 6 pm on December 15 and donate ten items and receive two free Blast tickets!

Here are our three public drop-off dates where you can get the two free Blast tickets.

Tuesday, December 13, Glory Days Grill on East Joppa Road in Towson. 5 pm to 8 pm (free appetizers for those who come out that night!)

Thursday, December 15, Jerry's Toyota on Belair Road in Fullerton. 3 pm to 6 pm (free Royal Farms coffee for those who come out that night!)

Monday, December 19, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square in White Marsh, 5 pm to 8 pm (a very special guest will join us that night...)

All we need now are your gently used pieces of winter clothing! Please take some time to go through your closets, dressers and storage spaces and give us what you no longer use. You will be making a big difference in someone's life this holiday season.'ll be going to see the Baltimore Blast!!! Absolutely free!!!

November 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 29
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it's a 5-game season now, so how's it all going to end for the ravens?

No matter what happens between now and the regular season finale at Cincinnati, if you're a Ravens fan you at least have to admit this is a whole lot better than the 2015 campaign.

John Harbaugh's team was toast by early November a year ago.

This season, they're likely going to be in the playoff hunt right up until the final whistle of that last game with the Bengals.

And, as you'll see below, I actually have the Ravens making it back to the post-season, courtesy of a couple of losses by the Steelers and a tiebreaker win over Pittsburgh.

Can the Ravens do enough to keep this guy out of the playoffs? The last five games will tell us.

What do you think?

Our #DMD poll below gives you the chance to cast your vote for how the 2016 season is going to play out for the Ravens. Please chime in and participate!

I know enough about the NFL to realize two pretty important things: You can't make it to the Super Bowl unless you first qualify for the playoffs. And once the post-season begins, everyone starts at 0-0 again.

I'm not naive, either. Nor am I a homer.

I don't see the Ravens having much of a chance of making it to the Super Bowl. I'd say, right now, it's probably no better than a 10% chance they can weave their way through three playoff games, two of them coming on the road, and advance to the big game in Houston.

But I do think they have an excellent shot at winning the AFC North.

And as several teams have done in the last decade or so, you can finish as a wild card team and win the Super Bowl.

The Ravens can squeak out the AFC North title and have -- at least -- a puncher's chance of doing some damage in the post-season.

Will they need improved offensive play to win the division? Maybe. Maybe not.

They've managed to win six of eleven games to date with what has amounted to a pretty lousy offense, particularly in the red zone.

Can't they win three of their remaining five by essentially duplicating what they've done on offense and playing the same kind of defense they've displayed for most of the season?

I think so, especially if Justin Tucker continues to hit 55-yard field goals like they're 28-yard wedge shots to a middle pin location.

Will they? Well, if I knew that, I'd bet it.

Here's what I do know, though. Pittsburgh, with much more talent on offense, hasn't distanced themselves from anyone in the AFC North. They're 6-5, too.

And while their schedule features one more home game in the season's final month, it's not entirely all that much different than the Ravens' slate, other than the fact they have an automatic win against Cleveland on January 1st at Heinz Field while the Ravens have to travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals that day.

Because we all like to do this, I'll give you my game-by-game look right here and show you how I think the Ravens are going to beat out the Steelers in the AFC North.

Please note that all of this conjecture comes with one caveat: Both teams stay relatively healthy at key positions over the last month of the season. Without Joe Flacco, the Ravens aren't beating anyone of note. And the same goes for Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger. If he's out, they're done.

Ravens remaining schedule with predicted result --

December 4 vs. Miami (win)

December 12 at New England (loss)

December 18 vs. Philadelphia (win)

December 25 at Pittsburgh (loss)

January 1 at Cincinnati (win)

That gives the Ravens a final record of 9-7, to go with a 5-1 division record.

Steelers remaining schedule with predicted result --

December 4 vs. NY Giants (loss)

December 11 at Buffalo (loss)

December 18 at Cincinnati (win)

December 25 vs. Baltimore (win)

January 1 vs. Cleveland (win)

That gives Pittsburgh a final record of 9-7, to go with a 5-1 division record.

Now the fun begins.

The first tie-breaker in the AFC North would be head-to head games, which would still result in a deadlock with a Pittsburgh win on December 25 giving the Ravens a season split with the Steelers.

The next tie-breaker is the team's record within the division, which would also be deadlocked. The only Baltimore loss within the division would be on December 25. Pittsburgh's only division loss would be November 4 against the Ravens.

That brings us to the third tie-breaker, which is games against common opponents.

The Ravens and Steelers both played these teams in 2016: Cincinnati (2), Cleveland (2), Washington, Philadelphia, NY Giants, Dallas, New England, Buffalo, Miami and the New York Jets.

If it all plays out as I've outlined above (I should get a medal or a large commission check, for starters), the Ravens would finish at 7-5 in those twelve games while the Steelers will finish at 6-6.

And the Ravens would win the AFC North.

So, several things stand out when you look at the remaining schedule. Every game from here on in for both the Ravens and Steelers features a "common opponent". One slip up -- or one unexpected win -- could be huge for either team.

A Pittsburgh win over the Giants this weekend would be big for them because Baltimore lost to Eli Manning and Company.

Likewise, Baltimore wins over Miami and Philadelphia would be especially critical because the Steelers lost to both of those teams in 2016.

Everyone in town keeps pointing to the game at Pittsburgh as "the big one", but the Ravens can lose that game and still come out on top providing they don't lose to the Bengals on January 1st, in particular.

You can join in on the fun below. Tell us what you think. We'll publish the results on Thursday of this week.

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the nfl's best six and worst six

With five weeks left, it's anyone's ball game at the top and the bottom of the NFL. Dallas has the best record right now, but are they the best team? Cleveland hasn't won yet, but are they the worst team? It's a dogfight for those honors. We take our weekly stab at it all below:

The Worst Six --

27. NEW YORK JETS (3-8) -- They get the nod over the Rams at #27 simply because they stayed with the Patriots until the minute of Sunday's loss at the Meadowlands. Somehow, the Ravens lost to these guys, a defeat that could wind up costing Baltimore a playoff spot (along with the other six or seven) come January.

28. LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-7) -- Quick, which NFL team has scored the fewest points this season. No, wise guy, it's NOT the Ravens. It's the Rams, with 170.

29. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-9) -- Like Chicago, they almost pulled off a rare win on Sunday before falling at Buffalo. It's actually somewhat of a compliment to the Jags that they remain competitive in light of the imminent firing of their coach and a complete organizational overhaul that most think is coming in January.

30. CHICAGO BEARS (2-9) -- The Bears take over the #30 spot based mainly on their offensive numbers. I'm not sure they're better or worse than the 2-9 Jaguars, but Chicago has scored 178 points in 11 games and J'ville has 214 points. I feel bad for John Fox. He's better than a 2-9 coach.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS (1-10) -- Oddly, San Francisco might actually be worse than the Browns -- or better than both the Bears and Jaguars. Their offense is actually "decent", but their defense (344 points) is just awful. Like Cleveland, they've played a bunch of tight games but can't get over the hump.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-12) -- Until they win, they'll remain here. Chances of a victory are slimming down for the Browns. It still looks like December 24 at home against San Diego is their best bet to pull off a win and avoid 0-16.

The Best Six --

6. MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-4) -- How can you not put Miami in the top six after six straight wins? I know, I know, that stretch of wins includes beating San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- not exactly a murderer's row. We'll see just how good the Dolphins are this Sunday in Baltimore. My guess? You won't see them on this list next Tuesday.

5. NEW YORK GIANTS (8-3) -- I'm going to be saying this all the way until January rolls around and the playoffs start. New York is the one team in the NFC you don't want to face in the post-season if you can avoid it. Eli Manning, like him or not, has been-there-done-that and he has the tee-shirt, two of them, in fact.

4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-3) -- They get the nod over the Giants due to their point differential (+38, to the Giants +18) and the fact (or opinion) that perhaps they play in just a marginally more difficult division (this season) than New York. After a bad home loss to Tampa Bay two weeks ago, that Sunday night win in Denver was a big one for them.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (9-2) -- Granted, they coughed up a 17-point lead on Sunday to the Panthers, but that was a pretty gritty comeback by Derek Carr and the Raiders to improve to 9-2 with the 35-32 win over Carolina. Like Dallas, we're all still waiting to see if they're real. Oakland's offense IS. But the defense? Not very good.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS (10-1) -- They keep looking the part, week after week. I think everyone around the country expects the other shoe to drop soon, but maybe this is just "their year" and they're going to ride the Dak-Zeke train all the way to the Super Bowl in Houston.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-2) -- I'm still counting the Patriots as having only one "real" loss, since the Goodell-gifted defeat to Buffalo in week #4 was without Tom Brady at the helm.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2016-2017.

terps face tough challenge tonight against visiting pitt

The ACC/Big 10 Basketball Challenge returns to the Xfinity Center in College Park tonight as the undefeated Maryland Terrapins (7-0) take on the University of Pittsburgh (5-1) at 7:00 pm.

Pitt is a big team without big guys.

There are no seven-footers on this squad, but with a starting lineup that ranges from from 6'6" to 6’9" (All-ACC Michael Young), these Panthers provide match-up problems for any team.

Seniors Young and Jamel Artis will be tough for the Terps to defend.

Maryland will have their hands full tonight with Pitt's Michael Young, who leads the ACC in points-per-game thus far with an average of 23.

Young is 6’9" and 235 lbs. but can put the ball on the floor, moves fluidly, and will score from anywhere on the court. He averages an ACC leading 23.3 ppg after posting over 15 ppg last year. He also leads Pitt in rebounds with over eight per-game.

Artis will spend much of his time at point guard for Pitt’s first year coach, Kevin Stallings. (Stallings previously had 15 years as head coach at Vanderbilt). Artis is especially unique with his lanky but strong 6’7” frame and his ability to get to the rim off the dribble.

His mid-range game is solid and you have to respect his three point shot. At just under 20 ppg, Artis is a force offensively and another match-up nightmare for Maryland.

Rounding out the likely starting five of Panther interchangeable parts are seniors Chris Jones (6’6") and Sheldon Jeter (6'8”) along with sophomore sharp-shooter Cameron Johnson (6’8”).

Pitt doesn’t have a particularly distinguishable style of play. They aren’t a fast breaking team nor do they play a grind-it-out style of slow down offense. They lack a low post presence and are pretty standard in the sets they run. They are solid defensively, but don’t force a ton of turnovers or offer much pressure.

Pitt has played a solid 3-2 defense at times and I expect to see some zone tonight against the Terps. The Panthers move well up and down the court and, like the Terps, connect on 73% of their foul shots.

What sets Pitt apart offensively is their ability to get points on isolation plays from Artis and Young. Those two are really good.

62% of the Pitt minutes played are by their seniors. Freshman only see about 9% of the minutes. Compare that to the young Terps who only get 15% from seniors, but 42% for freshman.

The older, more mature, and physically stronger Pitt Panthers offer a tough challenge for the Terps tonight. The overall height and quickness of the Pitt lineup is going to cause problems, especially on the Terps defensive end of the court.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon might be forced into a few unique rotations (more minutes for L.G. Gill?), or even consider lengthy spells in a zone defense in an effort to combat some obvious mismatches. Offensively, unless Maryland can get production from Damonte Dodd and Jared Nickens, I’m not sure they can score enough points to pull out this win.

I look for an entertaining game with the Terps falling short, late, for a tough 75-70 loss.

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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.

Note: This part 2 of Brien's look at college football. Scroll down to Monday's edition of #DMD for Part 1:

While I'm taking coaches to task, I guess I should toss in a mention for Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, who was fined $10,000 on Monday for ripping the refs following Saturday's loss at Ohio State.

Harbaugh certainly didn't do anything as bad as what Herman and Kelly have done, but isn't it about time his act got called out much more frequently?

He was in full-on meltdown mode after his team's loss on Saturday, putting the defeat squarely at the feet of the game's officiating.

Now I'm not going to tell you that the refs were anywhere close to great but, a) Harbaugh ought to start his finger pointing with his own decision to play his injured starting quarterback who single-handedly kept Ohio State in the game with three turnovers, b) the refs were mostly adhering to the "let them play" philosophy NFL fans at least are constantly swearing they want (no estimates yet on the number of people who went from complaining about how nothing was called on Saturday to kvetching about the number of flags thrown on Sunday), and c) the two calls Harbaugh made the biggest deal out of postgame made the entire notion of the rant laughable on its face.

Specifically, Harbaugh was upset that the refs flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct after he went on one his trademark sideline tirades throwing his headset all over the place, and then he took aim at the pivotal decision to award J.T. Barrett a first down on the fourth and one play that set up Ohio State's winning touchdown.

They got a big win on Saturday, but Ohio State's "look" was anything but a victory for the school who shelved their traditional uniforms and helmets for a new, money-grabbing design.

Now, admittedly, replay sure made the Barrett play look like the wrong call, but because of the paucity of camera angles in the college game there was no vantage point available that provided clear evidence for the placement of the ball relative to the line. The original official might have gotten the spot wrong, but he had an infinitely better perspective to make that call than did the replay official, and to overturn the call in the circumstances would have made a mockery of the replay rules.

Again, it's actually not such a big deal in the genre of college coaches behaving badly, but you'd think it would strike more people as something worth being scandalized over in an industry that likes to talk about its role in "developing young men" as an excuse to not, ya know, actually pay its workers.

And finally, there's my own Ohio State University who embarrassed themselves ethically and aesthetically during their big national moment.

For the unitiated, Ohio State's helmets are kind of a big deal, and the Buckeye stickers that adorn it, awarded individually to players for outstanding accomplishments, are one of the program's most famous and enduring traditions, right up there with Script Ohio. So it was certainly shocking to see the traditional gray, striped, domes sidelined during the most tradition heavy game of the year in favor of a black matte alternate that didn't even include the iconic buckeye stickers. Why would the school choose the hideously plain black helmets and endure so much derision and scorn on Twitter?

Cold, hard, dirty cash.

You see, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were in the building, continuing to build Lebron's brand as Mr. Ohio, and fittingly the Buckeyes were decked out in Lebron's brand new red and black sneakers, and the traditional gray helmets just didn't top off the look.

So they had to go. If you turned on the TV in the first quarter and didn't know it was Ohio State playing, you wouldn't have known it was Ohio State playing -- based on those uniforms.

And fine, that's life I guess. Except the broadcast then smacked me in the face with talk of timeless traditions and student athletes and love of the game, all while one of the most iconic uniforms in sports was being actively bastardized in the name of scoring some more apparel money for the school.

I'm old and cynical enough to accept that and not even be remotely bothered by it at all...except for the fact that the 20-something-year-old human beings were actively liquefying their brains while the university who extols the value of "amateurism" for the players involved in their programs like glorified billboards.

Such is the current status of college football and, really, the NCAA more broadly. No matter what it does, no matter how good the games are, it's always overshadowed by the shameless money chasing, sleaze, and slimeballs at the upper reaches of the enterprise. The only person in America who can end a college football Saturday with a positively good feeling is Roger Goodell, safe in the knowledge that as long as the NCAA is around he never has to worry about being considered the least competent, scuzziest person in American sports.

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November 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 28
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smile and say it with me: "a win is a win"

Nope, it wasn't pretty.

Yes, the offense stunk again.

You're right, the Ravens can't keep playing like that and expect to beat good teams in the playoffs.

Heck, Joe Flacco said as much in his post-game press conference.

But the object of the NFL schedule is to win as many times as you can over the 16-game schedule.

They don't ask "how". They ask "how many?"

Now, if only Marvin Lewis coached against the Ravens every week, huh?

Justin Tucker did it again on Sunday, rescuing the Ravens from a lethargic offensive game and kicking four field goals in the 19-14 win over the Bengals.

The Ravens got a huge day from Justin Tucker, a strong second half from Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil returned to the lineup for the first time since week five and made a (potentially) game-saving play on Andy Dalton in the waning moments as Baltimore moved back into a first place tie with the Steelers at 6-5 after a 19-14 win over the Bengals on Sunday.

And Lewis helped out with some strange decisions in the first half as Baltimore jumped out to a 16-3 lead at the intermission. The next time we moan about Buck Showalter costing the Orioles one game, albeit a pretty big one, in the playoffs, we should remember that Lewis has probably cost the Bengals dozens of games in his tenure in Cincinnati.

Flacco's numbers looked good, until you see the one under the "TD" column, which reads: 1.

Once again, the Baltimore offense looked the part between the 20's, but once it came time to put up or shut up, Flacco and the gang went silent and the dependable right foot of Justin Tucker did the heavy lifting, with three field goals over 50 yards and four in total for the afternoon.

At one point during the game, I tweeted out: Those two should switch contracts: Give Flacco $4 million and pay Tucker $22 million.

Cincinnati had no business being in the game, but there they were, IN THE GAME, thanks to Baltimore's offense failing to put them away and a spirited effort from Andy Dalton, who didn't have his usual go-to-guy in A.J. Green, but used Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd to pull the Bengals back into the game after that early 13-point deficit.

Then, as only the Bengals can do, their game-tying drive ended with just over a minute remaining when Dalton had the ball knocked out of his hands by Dumervil. Lawrence Guy fell on it and the Ravens had themselves another unspectacular win.

Because the Ravens can't win a game going away, they were forced to punt with eleven seconds left, but instead of just taking a safety and kicking it away on the game's final play, John Harbaugh reached into his bag of tricks and instructed everyone except Sam Koch to intentionally hold their Bengals opponent while Koch danced around near the end zone and let the clock tick away.

The refs got it right, calling "holding" on virtually every Baltimore player, but no one got to Koch and the clock wound down before he stepped into the end zone for the safety.

And because the game CAN end on an offensive penalty (via the 10-second runoff), it was all over. That rule will be changed, you can bet on that, but for one day, at least, the Ravens coaching staff outfoxed the guys on the other side.

Then again, outfoxing Marvin Lewis is like getting a game-winning hit off Ubaldo Jimenez. It's not hard to do.

There isn't much else to say except "who do we play next?".

The Baltimore offense continued its sluggish "on again, off again" routine on Sunday. Heck, if not for a spectacular grab by Breshad Perriman on the game's opening drive, the Ravens might not have found the end zone at all on Sunday.

And later, when presented with the chance to put the game away with six minutes left, Flacco and Company promptly went three and out, throwing an incomplete pass in the process to give the Bengals the ball back with four and a half minutes remaining in the game.

When they needed to just gain 25 yards and chew up five or six minutes of clock, they couldn't even do that.

But the defense held up its end of the bargain -- again -- and Dumervil's return apparently sparked Terrell Suggs as well. The two played a key role in the fourth quarter, as did everyone else on the Baltimore defensive interior who seemingly blocked or swatted away a Dalton pass attempt on Cincinnati's final offensive series.

And where would the Ravens be without Justin Tucker?

The standing joke most of the season has been that Tucker is perhaps the team's MVP in 2016.

It's not a joke anymore. There's no "perhaps" to it. Tucker IS the team's MVP.

Out of embarrassment-avoidance, the Ravens front office might not "allow" Tucker to win the award, but the truth of the matter is they'd probably be 4-7 without him. Maybe worse.

That makes him the MVP of the team, at least up to this point.

Yes, that's kind of sad. But it is what it is. And, as we know around here, "a win is a win", even when it's the field goal kicker paving the way.

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"show me the money", week #12

Ahhhhhh...the sweet smell of cash.

If I would have bet $10,000 per-game on my six games in Week #12, I'd be up $50,000!!

But I didn't.

Still, my 5-1 performance in Week #12 has me back near the .500 "sniffing point", as I'm now 34-38 on the year against the spread.

I started the week with a win by taking the Redskins plus-7 against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. Then, yesterday, I had the Ravens (-4), Buccaneers (+6), 49'ers (+7.5) and Saints (-7.0).

Only that rat fink Philip Rivers and the Chargers kept me from a perfect 6-0 week.




Since I have a hot hand, let's take an unofficial stab at tonight's game. This is pretty much do-or-die tonight for the Packers (4-6), who desperately need a win and a bunch of other things to go right for them to get back in the NFC North playoff picture. The same goes for the Eagles, who are in need of about 1,000 things to go right for them in order to make the post-season. I like the Eagles to win tonight, but I'll take the Packers plus four points, as Philly wins 26-23.

around the nfl in thirty seconds

TITANS 27 - BEARS 21 -- Tennessee led 27-7 with eight minutes left in the game and then tried to give the game to the Bears, only they wouldn't take it. Joshua Bellamy dropped a perfectly thrown ball in the end zone in the game's final minute and the Titans held on to improve to 6-6. Reason #106 why you don't bet on NFL football.

BILLS 28 - JAGUARS 21 -- Buffalo found themselves in a ballgame but the better team prevailed, as Jacksonville dropped to 2-9 on the year. Buffalo is hard to figure out. One week they're good, the next week they stink. Heck, you could say that about 20 teams in the league, I guess.

FALCONS 38 - CARDINALS 19 -- Matt Ryan and the Falcons stayed on top in the NFC South at 7-4 after an easy win over the Cardinals. I still think one of the NFC wild card teams can give Atlanta all they can handle in the playoffs, but the Falcons are pretty dangerous in their own building, that's for sure.

GIANTS 27 - BROWNS 13 -- New York did what they needed to do to win, although this was a one-score game well into the fourth quarter before a late Giants TD put it away. Cleveland is now 0-12 and speeding directly to 0-16. They might beat the Bengals in a couple of weeks and they could squeeze out a win over San Diego on Christmas Eve. Other than that, it's 0-16.

SAINTS 49 - RAMS 21 -- Speaking of teams that are good one week and stinky the next, I'd like you to meet the New Orleans Saints. I know, they were "only" playing the Rams, but 49 points in the league is a lot of points. New Orleans can still score with the best of them. But they can't stop anyone.

A third quarter finger injury scared everyone in Raiders Nation, but Derek Carr came back to lead a late drive for Oakland that helped them beat Carolina and stay on top in the AFC West at 9-2.

DOLPHINS 31 - 49'ERS 24 -- Don't look now, but the Dolphins have won six straight and are headed to Baltimore for a huge game next Sunday. I always say this: "A team that thinks they're good is usually more dangerous than a team that actually is good. This might fit Miami to a tee right now. They actually think they really ARE good.

CHARGERS 21 - TEXANS 13 -- Houston finally loses at home and the Chargers keep their flickering playoff hopes alive with a huge win to move to 5-6 on the season. Gotta give it to Philip Rivers, I suppose. That kid is a warrior. Never count San Diego out, even if they don't wind up winning the key game very often. Yesterday, they did.

BUCCANEERS 14 - SEAHAWKS 5 -- Speaking of teams that "think they're good", Tampa Bay fits that mold right now. They are coming on strong, with a road win at Kansas City last Sunday and a solid effort at home yesterday against a decent-to-good Seattle team. The Seahawks offense has now failed to score a touchdown in three of their eleven games to date.

PATRIOTS 22 - JETS 17 -- I don't know how Tom Brady does it, but he does. With Rob Gronkowski sidelined for the entire second half -- and no one available to play tight end -- Brady still picked apart the New York defense in the final ten minutes and New England held on to win. Patriots keep pace with Oakland atop the AFC at 9-2.

RAIDERS 35 - PANTHERS 32 -- Speaking of the Raiders, they coughed up a 24-7 lead, came back to tie the game at 32-32, then Derek Carr drove them the length of the field to set up the game-winning field goal with two minutes left. I don't think Oakland's defense is good enough to beat New England on the road in January, but if they get home field throughout the playoffs, they could do enough to win the AFC and go to the Super Bowl.

CHIEFS 30 - BRONCOS 27 OT -- If you stayed up for this one, you saw one of the best games of the season. K.C. tied it up at 24-24 with twelve seconds left in the game, scoring a TD and a two-point conversion to do so. In OT, the Broncos kicked a field goal to go up 27-24 but the Chiefs countered with one of their own on the next series. Then, with five seconds left in OT, the Chiefs won it on another field goal. This was one heckuva of an entertaining game.

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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.

If you're a college football fan, this past Saturday was a tremendous day of action that showcased everything that makes the sport fun. Centuries old rivalries played out anew, wild finishes thrilled us, and the biggest game of the year delivered a highly competitive, heart pounding game (as an Ohio State fan, I think I'm still beating a little bit faster than usual this morning).

It also put the unseemly underbelly of the edifice in the light.

First up, there was the seemingly never-ending saga of Tom Herman finally coming to a merciful close with the most anticlimactic ending ever.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the basics: Herman became Houston's head coach before the 2015 season, and then led the team to a couple of high profile victories, first over Florida State in last year's Peach Bowl and then over Oklahoma in this year's opener.

I highlight those wins and not his 22-4 record because that's pretty clearly what the media lovefest over the guy is built on, and maybe rightly so.

But it remains the case that ever since the very first game this year he's been openly lobbying (through his agents and the press anyway) to get the head coaching job at the University of Texas.

His people even went so far as to put out a story about him being on the verge of accepting an offer from LSU (who burned $10 million to fire Les Miles early this season so they could begin chasing Herman) earlier in the week in an effort to force Texas' hand. And sure enough, it worked!

From "I'm the head coach at Houston and very proud of that" to "I'm excited to be taking over here at Texas" -- all in about 48 hours.

After Texas was embarrassed in their final game, they unceremoniously dumped Charlie Strong (who admittedly was in over his head at that program) and quickly extended an offer to Herman, who now figures to be one of the five highest paid coaches in the country.

Meanwhile his current team, the program presumably actually paying him to coach their team this year, suffered an upset loss to Memphis to close out their regular season, and with their third loss of their year will finish just third in their division in the American Conference.

All three of those losses, by the way, and the team's only loss last year to boot, came to double digit underdogs. For a team that was ranked in the top ten earlier this year and was deemed a near lock for a playoff spot after beating the Sooners, that's embarrassing, and Houston easily ranks as college football's most disappointing team not named Michigan State this year.

I guess none of that matters now though, least of all to Herman, who will have millions of reasons to get over what I'm sure is bitter disappointment at his missed opportunity with the Cougars.

On to Los Angeles, where the stomach churning tenure of Brian Kelly at Notre Dame may finally have come to a close with something those god-fearing administrators care much more about than the lives of students at the school; a 4-8 record.

Kelly of course is a well documented bully with no regard for anyone or anything other than his own career ambitions.

Kelly started out his tenure at Notre Dame by abandoning the Cincinnati team he coached to a 12-0 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance without even coaching them in that game, and has gone through most of his time in South Bend screaming at everyone around him to paper over his own many, many failings.

After playing a game against NC State in the teeth of Hurricane Matthew this year, the guy actually had the nerve to take to a podium in a press conference and explicitly call out his snapper for having a bad game.

Again, they literally played the game in a hurricane!

Kelly kept at it to the bitter end of this disastrous season, keeping his team on the sideline at the end of the first half in Saturday's loss at USC so every camera in the building could get a good shot of him berating the college students who play football for Notre Dame in their spare time away from class, and then went on a long tirade after the game that ended with allusions to "accountability" in the program.

This coming from someone who continues to hold a job that ostensibly involves responsibility for the safety of people under him despite being directly responsible for the death of a student videographer at a practice held in inclement weather is so far beyond offensive that I'm not sure even Shakespeare could invent a word to do it justice.

Herman might have given me fits of indigestion with his unscrupulous behavior this season, but Kelly's mere presence in the game represents an unfathomable moral stain on both the university and the NCAA, and it's well beyond too late for him to be banished from polite society soon enough.


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November 27

week twelve

Issue 27
Baltimore Ravens (5-5) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1)

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: Ravens (-4)

no green, no chance for bengals

You hate to pin it all on one guy, but when it comes to the Ravens vs. Bengals, it’s all been summed up by one guy over the last few seasons: A.J. Green.

To say the Cincinnati wide receiver has been a one-man wrecking crew vs. the Ravens would be an understatement.

In the last five meetings between the two teams, Cincinnati is 5-0 and Green has 32 catches, 591 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.

But he’s not playing today.

And the Bengals aren't winning.

Joe Flacco's career numbers against the Bengals aren't all that impressive, but any sort of decent game today from #5 should give Baltimore a win.

So, the Ravens get a major break from the injury-gods today in their effort to keep pace with the Steelers in the AFC North. With Green sidelined, it stands to reason the Baltimore defense won’t have much to worry about.

If the Baltimore offense has a decent day, all should end well.

Never mind that the Bengals are already done in the AFC playoff race at 3-6-1. Even with that record, if Green were healthy and playing today, the game would be a complete toss-up. Without him, though, Cincinnati just can't hang.

Now, it's fair to mention that Joe Flacco hasn't been much of a Bengal-killer in his career.

In 15 games vs. the Bengals since 2008, Flacco and the Ravens are 7-8. And he’s thrown more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (15) against Cincinnati.

That stat would be worrisome today if not for the fact that Cincinnati will be deeply shorthanded on offense, as injured running back Giovani Bernard is also on the inactive list for today’s game.

That leaves Andy Dalton to beat the Ravens by himself, basically. And it’s not happening. With Green, Cincy could win this one. Without him – nope.

So -- the Ravens and Steelers have now turned this into a five-game season following today’s action.

Baltimore has two home games remaining (Miami, Philadelphia) and three left on the road (New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati).

The Steelers have three home games left to play (NY Giants, Baltimore, Cleveland) and two remaining on the road (Buffalo, Cincinnati).

First team to ten wins captures the AFC North.

The Ravens will get to six today.

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show me the money, week #12

There’s nothing better than picking six games and having one in your pocket already.

That’s where I stand today after successfully taking Washington plus-seven in their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys.

But I need to pick five other games today and work my way back to the .500 level, which, of course, is easier said than done.





RAMS AT SAINTS (-7.0) -- I realize the New Orleans defense is pretty flimsy, but the Los Angeles offense is awful. And even though they might get a bunch of cracks at that Saints defense, I see New Orleans scoring a lot in this one and the Rams getting blasted. I’ll take the Saints in a big way, 31-16.

CHARGERS AT TEXANS (+1.5) – I had to double check this one to see if the spread was right. The Chargers are a ROAD FAVORITE? If they were playing Cleveland or Chicago, maybe. But not at Houston. No way. I don’t think Houston is all that good, but neither is San Diego. Let’s go with the Texans in this one, by a field goal in the final minute, 26-23.

SEAHAWKS AT BUCCANEERS (+6.0) – This is probably dangerous, particularly since Tampa Bay might have saved their season last Sunday with an upset win at Kansas City, but I’m going to take the Bucs and the points in this one, and will go as far as saying I think Tampa Bay wins outright, 27-23.

49’ERS AT DOLPHINS (-7.5) – One of the scrub teams (Jacksonville, Cleveland, Chicago) is going to win today and, yes, it could even be the 49’ers, who have just one win this season. But San Francisco has been pretty competitive in recent weeks and it’s hard to say if Miami (6-4, 4-1 at home) is real or not. I don’t think the Dolphins are losing this one, but I’m going to take the 49’ers to cover the 7.5 points as the Dolphins win, 22-16.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I just don't see how the Rams can score enough to hang with New Orleans. At home, especially, the Saints are going to pile up the points and the Rams don't have enough offense. Let's go with the Saints.

HOW DREW SEES THE RAVENS VS. BENGALS GAME: It shouldn’t require a whole lot of muscle to get the Bengals to wave the white flag today, as Cincy has been terrible on the road this season and they’re without their two most important offensive weapons (Green and Bernard) today. Look for the Ravens to come out quick, score on their first series, and go up 10-0 before Cincy breaks a sweat. Baltimore leads 13-3 at the half, ups that lead to 19-3 after the third quarter, and tacks on one more touchdown to counter a 4th quarter score by the Bengals in a 26-11 Ravens victory.

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The marquee college football game of the day between Ohio State and Michigan turned out to be quite a thriller, as the Buckeyes come out on top 30-27 in double overtime. That win gives #2 Ohio State a reasonable chance of making the NCAA 4-team playoff, but in a strange Big Ten standings quirk, Ohio State will not play in the conference championship game, as their earlier loss to Penn State puts the Nittany Lions in the Big 10 title contest against Wisconsin.

Yesterday's game was one for the ages, with Michigan scoring in overtime on a 4th and 5 play to stay alive and tie the game at 24-24 after the successful extra point. The Wolverines then went ahead on a field goal and Ohio State got the ball on the 25 with their chance to tie it or win it.

On 4th and 1 from the 16, Urban Meyer elected to go for it instead of attempting a tying field goal, and they picked up the first down by inches -- or did they? There will long be a debate about whether it really was a first down (My opinion, without a dog in the hunt at all? He came up short.), but the refs reviewed it and awarded Ohio State a first down and on the very next play, a 15-yard touchdown run gave Ohio State the win.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was on full blast after the game with a critical review of the refs, but he was doing that with the scoreboard already reading 30-27. In other words: game over.

Maryland football is headed to some sort of meaningless bowl game after a 31-13 win over Rutgers ended the Terps campaign at 6-6. Ty Johnson had 168 yards on 11 carries for the Terps, who finished the season at 3-6 in the Big Ten.

While it's nice to see Maryland look respectable record-wise, the two games that stick out like a sore thumb were the 59-3 loss at Michigan and the 62-3 drubbing at home to Ohio State. The program can beat up on the likes of Rutgers all it wants, but facing off against the Big 10 big boys and hanging with them for four quarters is next on Maryland's bucket list.

Looking a lot more like the freshman who took the NCAA by storm, Melo Trimble had another huge basket for Maryland in their one point win over Kansas State last night.

Maryland basketball survived yet another close-game scare last night, as Melo Trimble's lay-up with six seconds left pushed the Terps past Kansas State, 69-68. Trimble led Maryland (7-0) with 18 points, but it was the play of Michal Cekovsky that played a critical role for Mark Turgeon's team as he finished with a career-best 16 points on the night.

I've been saying this for a couple of weeks now. This Maryland team is potentially as solid "all around" as last year's squad that had so much Final Four promise, lacking only the length and interior presence that Diamond Stone and Robert Carter Jr. provided. If Damonte Dodd and Cekovsky fill those roles adequately enough in the defensive end, Maryland has enough offensive weapons to compete with anyone.

Even with freshman guard Anthony Cowan only contributing two points last night, the biggest stat for him came in the turnover department. Cowan played 35 minutes and didn't have one turnover. The other two freshman starters, Justin Jackson (11 points) and Kevin Huerter (8 points), continue to improve with each game.

The Capitals produced one of their typical lackluster performances on the back end of a two-games-in-two-nights swing, as they fell in Toronto, 4-2.

It's become somewhat of a trend for Washington over the last couple of years. Play well in the first game, stink it up in the second game. Barry Trotz even tried a little tactical move, playing Philip Grubauer in Washington on Friday night and saving rock-star netminder Braden Holtby for the Saturday evening affair in Toronto. Typically, Holtby would play the first game and Grubauer would get thrown to the wolves in the second one.

That didn't work, either, but through no fault of Holtby's. The Caps offense was stinky-poo through two periods, finally getting on the board in the 3rd period on a Nicklas Backstrom goal that cut the Toronto lead to 3-1. Marcus Johansson finalized the scoring late in the game after the Maple Leafs went up 4-1.

One night after an amazing 30-0 run in a romp over Stony Brook, Towson University coughed up a late lead and fell to Robert Morris, 67-66, at SECU Arena on Saturday night.

Prior to their win over Hampton in the tournament opener on Friday in Baltimore, Robert Morris was winless at 0-5, while Towson hung tough with both Maryland and Boston College while beating George Mason in their season opener.

And when Towson led 50-41 with eight minutes left last night, it looked like a sure thing for Pat Skerry's team. Not so fast, though. Robert Morris went on a 12-2 run and finally took the lead with 1:35 left in the game.

As much as Skerry had to be happy with the efforts at College Park and Boston, this one, last night, was definitely a bad loss for a Towson team that has visions of competing for the CAA title.

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November 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 26
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is it almost time to stop beating that dead (nfl) horse?

I almost fee like this is piling on, now.

Part of me says, "There's nothing to see here, so move along please".

But I'm starting to wonder if we might be witnessing the beginning stages of some sort of massive crumbling of the NFL and their product as we know it?

I hope that's not the case. I have friends who work in the league and they've all put their heart and soul into the product over the respective careers. In nearly every case, they've each made the NFL product better, not worse.

Josh Norman (left) and Dez Bryant (right) locked up in a heated battle on Thanksgiving Day that had both looking like turkeys when the game was over.

But something is going on these days.

And it hasn't just happened in the last three months, either. This has been building up for a while now. I don't know exactly when it started, but the crumbling and erosion of the NFL is not an overnight thing.

The latest episode came, ironically enough, on Thanksgiving Day, when the Cowboys and Redskins locked horns in Dallas.

It turned out to be a heckuva game, with the Cowboys prevailing 31-26, but the post-game clash between Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant and Washington cornerback Josh Norman overshadowed what was otherwise a pretty entertaining sixty minutes of football.

I understand there are certain elements of the sport where it's very much a one-on-one confrontation. There are other "individual battles" during the game as well (offensive tackle vs. defensive tackle, etc.), but none are in the spotlight quite like the receiver vs. the defensive back.

Bryant and Norman have a recent history attached to their on-field relationship, as Norman had some disparaging words for the Dallas receiver after his then-team, Carolina, beat up on the Cowboys in last season's Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas.

So, what we saw brewing and exploding on Thursday in Dallas was a year in the making.

You've probably seen the highlight clip twenty times by now, but for the uninitiated, Bryant sought Norman out in the traditional post-game gathering at midfield and the two exchanged words and shoves before teammates separated the two of them.

It then spilled over to the respective locker rooms, where the two were asked by reporters to comment on the exchange and their relationship.

And that's when Norman became the latest NFL player to say something dumb in front of the media: "Where I'm from, we unload the clip," he remarked. "So pretty much whatever you want to do, I'm not the guy that sees a challenge in my face who backs down. That's not me. That's not what you're gonna get."

"We unload the clip..."

There are probably a lot of definitions that can be attached to that statement and it might not mean what it appears to mean, but it's pretty easy to decipher that Norman could be saying, "We use guns to settle our differences..."

My nine-year old doesn't log on to the internet yet to read about sports, so I'm safe from having him learn about this latest Bryant-Norman dust-up. But plenty of 12, 16 and 18 year old boys and girls read about sports on the internet and they watch television highlight shows.

"We unload the clip..."

Where I'm from, there was always an easy way to settle a dispute between me and a guy from the other team.

If my team won, and he wanted to jabber back and forth after the game, I'd say, "Scoreboard".

Back in the old days, that settled it. My team beat your team. And, after all, that's why we were gathered together on the court, the field, the rink, etc.

"Scoreboard" was what we used to say.

Not any more.

Granted, these NFL players are playing for big, big money and the spotlight is awfully bright. And the NFL has gone out of its way to give the offensive player every advantage over the defensive player. The cornerback's nerves are frayed before the game even starts, for he knows the rules are stacked against him from the opening whistle.

But comments like "Where I'm from, we unload the clip" have no place in the game, even if the urban definition is something more akin to "giving everything we have" or "emptying ourselves on the field".

It's a bad look for the league when players are talking about guns and violence, even in the grayest of terms.

This was on Thanksgiving Day, to boot.

Rather than be thankful for their $60 million contracts, players are fighting with one another on the field after the game.

Maybe I'm wrong. I definitely could be in the minority on this one. Perhaps most of America enjoys seeing that kind of friction in the game and after the game.

I can admit that maybe I'm the one not "getting it".

But if I'm right, the NFL should be concerned.

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Say one thing for Maryland basketball, they're nothing if not tough down the stretch. For the third time this season, the Terps turned back an upset bid from a mid-major last night in New York, as Maryland was forced to overtime before disposing of pesky Richmond, 88-82.

Maryland actually trailed 70-69 with thirty seconds left in regulation before a foul shot tied the game and sent it to overtime.

In the extra session, the Terps dominated, as Melo Trimble and Justin Jackson each hit 3-pointers to finally put an end to the Spiders upset bid.

Trimble finished with a game-high 31 points on the night, while Jackson chipped in 16 and fellow freshman Kevin Huerter had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Maryland, now 6-0, faces Kansas State tonight in the final of the Barclays Center Classic in Brooklyn. Kansas State (5-0) easily beat Boston College, 72-54, on Friday night.

The Washington Capitals finished off a successful five-game homestand with a 3-1 win over Buffalo on Friday evening, as the Caps won for the fourth time in five games. Philip Grubauer got the win in goal for Washington, who visit the Maple Leafs in Toronto tonight.

Daniel Winnik, Marcus Johansson and Brett Connolly scored for Washington, now 13-5-2 on the season and in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division of the NHL's Eastern Conference.

The biggest concern for the Caps right now is the lack of production from both Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Burakosky has two goals on the season while Kuznetsov has three. When Jay Beagle (four goals) has lit the lamp more times than two of your most talented offensive players, there's reason for worry.

The Towson University men's basketball team came to play on Friday night in their home opener at SECU Arena. The Tigers used an amazing 32-2 run in the first half to turn a 26-18 deficit into a 50-28 halftime advantage en route to beating Stony Brook, 88-63.

The Tigers (3-2) scored thirty straight points in the first half and held Stony Brook (0-4) without a field goal for the final 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the opening twenty minutes. The Seawolves were the America East champion in 2015-2016 and played in the NCAA tournament a season ago.

"It was a good performance for us," Towson coach Pat Skerry said afterwards. "The guys defended and rebounded. I didn't realize we had a 30-0 run and anytime you can have one of those, that's always good."

Mike Morsell led the Tigers with 21 points while Deshaun Morman chipped in 18 for the Tigers, who took Maryland and Boston College down to the final minute recently before losing to each school.

Towson will face Robert Morris this evening at 7:30 at SECU. Robert Morris beat Hampton last night in the late game at SECU Arena to earn their spot against the Tigers tonight.

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get that winter apparel ready for us!

For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.

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November 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 25
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memo to nfl: watch more high school football games

I watched a lot of football on Thursday.

My guess is you probably did as well.

And it took a high school game played by two .500 teams to put me in the proper mood for a day of NFL action.

Alas, by the time I was finished watching the Cowboys and Redskins in Dallas, I was ready for more high school action and less NFL drama.

The NFL should take a copy of the Calvert Hall-Loyola game played yesterday at Ravens Stadium and send it to every team with a simple message: This is how you guys should play the game.

Members of Calvert Hall football celebrate yesterday's Turkey Bowl win over Loyola.

The league would do well to send the same video tape to NFL officials and tell them: This is how you guys should call the game.

On both accounts, players and officials would do well to pattern themselves after the high school product.

Funny the way it is, right?

Every kid on Calvert Hall and Loyola would love to someday be a professional football player, and yet it's the guys making millions who should watch the way those kids treat the game and emulate them -- not the other way around.

Allow me to put this whole thing on pause for just a minute and take you back to the late 1970's in Glen Burnie. I was part of a group of kids in my neighborhood who played street hockey nearly every single day in the fall and winter. On any given day, there were four, five or six of us out in the street on Biddle Road.

We played during the day.

We played under the street lights.

We just played.

When it snowed and the cars would pack down the snow, we'd fill up buckets of water and throw it out on the road to try and make it freeze. Yeah, I know, that was a little hazardous, but we weren't thinking about that when we tried to create an ice rink out in front of my house.

We made our own hockey goal, using wood and a sheet from one of our closets. A few nails to connect the boards and the sheet serving as a net and we were good to go.

We constructed our own goalie equipment back then.

Someone's dad worked for a carpeting company and we had lots of huge pieces of foam at our disposal, so we taped big chunks of foam around our legs to serve as goalie pads. Underneath? Catcher's shinguards.

We also wore a catcher's chest protector and a catcher's mask, which served as a de facto goalie mask.

Blocker pad? Easy. We cut out a piece of thin plywood, about 12" by 10", and drilled four holes through the middle and then took thick string and looped it through the wood and around our hand.

We did actually have a real goalie stick, but that was about the only piece of legitimate hockey equipment we used for the goalie.

And we played hockey like it was the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Pause button off -- and back to football, now.

Those kids at Ravens Stadium yesterday played the Turkey Bowl with the same sort of passion we used to play street hockey in Glen Burnie.

Sure, it was a tad more "organized" than the hockey games we produced and the kids out there on Thursday were playing for potential college scholarships while we were just playing for fun in Glen Burnie.

But their level of enthusiasm for the game was what stood out to me.

Oh, and let's be clear on this, too. I'm only using Calvert Hall-Loyola because it's the game I saw yesterday. High school sports in general have an unbridled enthusiasm about them that the pro game would be smart to try and replicate.

If only they could.

Watching Dez Bryant behave like a complete jerk after every catch yesterday got old by about the 12 minute mark of the 1st quarter.

I remarked on Twitter late in the game that Bryant and Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. taunt the other team after every single catch they make, but the referees don't seem to mind. So, they just keep on doing it, play after play.

But it sure does get old, quick.

You didn't see that yesterday in the Calvert Hall-Loyola game, and there were some outstanding catches in that one, as the teams combined for 61 points in the Cardinals 40-21 victory in the 97th meeting between the two teams.

When the game's best player, Kenny Lewis of Loyola, caught a pass or made a defensive play, he didn't dance around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose. He made the play and went back to the huddle.

And don't tell me those kids don't know any better, because they watch the same NFL games we watch. Heck, my 9-year old wants to "dab" and break into a dance after every catch in the front yard...and does so right up until I admonish him that "we don't play that way".

So, why don't the Loyola Dons or Calvert Hall Cardinals taunt after a catch or a tackle or a long run?

Coaching might have something to do with it. I can hear just hear my friend Donald Davis now: "Guys, that's not what we're about here at Calvert Hall. We play football. We don't taunt."

My guess? If a kid taunts at Loyola or Calvert Hall, they sit the bench for a while.

If that happened in the NFL, some teams would go to their 3rd or 4th string by halftime.

And the refs could certainly do themselves some good by watching high school football, too.

There were a handful of flags thrown during yesterday's Turkey Bowl, but nothing crazy.

In the NFL, a game isn't officially "a game" until the referees put their stamp on it by throwing a few flags that change a drive and potentially alter the outcome of the contest.

Case in point yesterday during the 4th quarter of the Cowboys-Redskins game. A Washington player made a relatively simple, benign tackle in which he "tossed" the Dallas ball carrier to the ground. The referee standing ten feet away threw a flag right away, apparently because he thought the tackle was "too rough".

Cooler heads prevailed and one of the other refs reminded the flag-thrower that the NFL is still "tackle football", but you get the point. The refs in the NFL are just dying to officiate the game instead of just overseeing the game and throwing a flag only when absolutely necessary.

I can't imagine the high school game doesn't include holding or some other infraction on nearly every play, but somehow it's not called except for three or four times a game. Maybe the refs don't know what they're doing. Or, perhaps they'd just rather let the kids play.

The problem in the NFL is that it's big business these days.

For every great catch, there's a dangerous hit that brings the league one step closer to a mega-lawsuit by the players who are doing the hitting in the first place.

And anytime something "great" happens in a NFL game, it's followed by dancing, flexing and general blowhardery. I know, "blowhardery" isn't really a word, but it fits.

It gets old after a while.

If we all had a dollar for every time Steve Smith Sr. caught a pass and spun the ball in his NFL career, we'd have enough money to buy season tickets next year.

I'm convinced Dez Bryant is thinking about what he's going to do after the catch before his number is even called in the huddle.

But we thankfully don't see any of that in the high school game, or at the very least we didn't see it yesterday in the Turkey Bowl.

Those kids just played. It was fun. They were hitting hard, but fair play was paramount.

I sure wish the NFL guys would watch the kids.

Maybe, in the end, they'd try to be more like them -- instead of the other way around.

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filled up with turkey and football

It started at 10:00 am with the Turkey Bowl and ended at 11:30 pm last night with the Steelers spanking the Colts.

That was a lot of football on Thursday.

In the opening game in these parts, Calvert Hall beat Loyola in the 97th playing of the Turkey Bowl, with the Cardinals posting a 40-21 victory that went from blowout, to outcome-in-question, to blowout again.

The Cardinals led 19-0 in the second quarter before Loyola scored late in the half to make it 19-7. The Dons didn't play that poorly in the first two quarters, but their inability to make a big offensive play hurt them.

Calvert Hall, meanwhile, dialed up a huge 57 yard pass for a touchdown on their second offensive play of the game and controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to take that 12-point halftime lead.

The Cardinals extended the lead to 33-7 in the third quarter before the Dons worked their way back into the game. Loyola junior quarterback Will Koras made several excellent throws and then produced a gutsy touchdown run that included a ferocious collision on the goal-line.

With their lead trimmed to 33-20 midway through the fourth quarter, Calvert Hall engineered a 7-play drive and a touchdown run of their own that finalized the scoring at 40-21.

The game marked the end of the coaching tenure of Loyola's Brant Hall, who is stepping aside as the program's head football coach but will remain as the school's assistant athletic director.

In Detroit, the Lions kicked two late field goals to beat Minnesota, as Vikings QB Sam Bradford threw a last minute interception that set up Matt Prater's game-winning field goal as time expired.

The win was critical for the Lions, who now lead the NFC North at 7-4, while Minnesota dropped to 6-5. Better yet for Detroit, they beat the Vikings in both regular season match-ups, which gives them the first tiebreaker should the teams finished tied at the end of the campaign.

The big play in the game came on -- what else? -- a last-minute penalty called on Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson, who was flagged for illegal formation on a 3rd and 2 play that would have resulted in a first down after Bradford found Jerick McKinnon for a six yard gain.

Instead of a first down and the drive continuing, Bradford and the Minnesota offense faced a 3rd and 7 situation. And on the next throw, Darius Slay stepped in front of a pass and picked it off, setting up Prater's game-winning kick.

Ben Roethlisberger threw three TD's to Antonio Brown as the Steelers carved up the Colts on Thursday night, 28-7.

The Dallas Cowboys won their 10th straight game on Thursday, holding off the Washington Redskins, 31-26, as the Cowboys now own the best record in football at 10-1.

Dallas ran the ball like a beast all afternoon, compiling 163 rushing yards on 30 carries, with super-rookie Ezekiel Elliott producing his second straight 97 yard game to go with two touchdowns on the day.

Washington didn't embarrass themselves, though. Not in the least. Kirk Cousins had a whopper of a game for the 'Skins, throwing for 449 yards (41-of-53) and three TD's, as the visitors fell to 6-4-1 on the year.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden wore the Buck Showalter dunce cap in the fourth quarter when he ordered an onside kick down 24-19 with nine minutes left in the game. Dallas gobbled up the kick, drove right down field, and scored the put-away TD to make it 31-19.

Washington did score a late touchdown to give me the "cover" in "Show Me The Money, Week #12", as I went with the Redskins yesterday plus the seven points. But another onside kick turned out unproductive and Dallas ran out the clock.

Depending on whether they even make the playoffs, first, and who they play in the first round, second, I could see Washington giving either the NFC North or NFC South winner a battle and a half in the post-season. The Redskins could beat Detroit or Atlanta, I think.

Dallas, meanwhile, finds themselves in a very solid position at this point, although their schedule down the stretch is anything but a piece of cake. The Cowboys have road games at Minnesota and New York (Giants), home games vs. Tampa Bay and Detroit, and a season-closing contest at Philadelphia.

If the Cowboys can finish with the NFC's best record, they have a great shot at making it to the Super Bowl in Houston.

The Steelers grabbed first place in the AFC North last night with an easy 28-7 win over Indianapolis, who fell to 5-6 with the loss.

Pittsburgh scored the first three times they had the ball, as Ben Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown in the end zone twice in the first half to give the Steelers a 21-7 intermission lead.

The Colts actually squandered two 1st and goal chances that would have made the game much tighter. On both, because no one in the NFL wants to run the ball anymore, Indy opted to throw the ball on 4th and goal from the one yard line. They failed on each occasion.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

Well that didn’t take long. After taking over the top spot in the league just last week, Chelsea jumped over Liverpool with the Reds and Manchester City now only a point behind and Arsenal two points back. With the Blues facing a difficult home test against the now back in contention Tottenham, will there be another change come kick off next week? Tune in to find out with all of the action available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, November 26 (all times eastern)

10am – Sunderland @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

After scoring a combined twelve goals over their last three games Liverpool, the Premier League’s most potent offense (30G), were kept off of the scoresheet for only the third time this season, unable to break down a resolute Southampton in a 0-0 draw with the hosts. They will welcome the all of sudden in form Sunderland to Anfield on Saturday with the Black Cats, after going winless in the first ten games of the season (L8 D2), following up their first win of the campaign over Bournemouth to claim another important three points against relegation rivals Hull City 3-0 to move off the bottom of the table.

While they still have a long ways to go to have any hopes of avoiding the drop by seasons end, the first two victories of the David Moyes era has brought a collective sigh of relief to Tyneside, and the belief that they can somehow avoid relegation from England’s top flight against all odds for the fourth year running. Although they are winless in their last eighteen meetings across all competitions with Liverpool (D9 L9) and have never won at Anfield in the league (D8 L7), they will be gunning for their third consecutive win for the first time since May 2014, when they pulled off their first “Great Escape”.

12:30pm – Tottenham @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC/USA

Mauricio Pochettino leads red-hot Tottenham into Stamford Bridge for a big showdown with Chelsea on Saturday. Spurs have never won there.

After saving a point for Tottenham in the North London Derby the week before, Harry Kane was at it again with two goals in a two-minute span, one in the last minute of regulation and the second in the first minute of injury time, to bring Spurs back from the dead in a remarkable 3-2 comeback victory over West Ham United. They will have little time to savior the unlikely three points, with a trip to Stamford Bridge against the inform Chelsea, who earned another hard fought three points against a lively Middlesbrough side 1-0 to move into first place, pending in their third London Derby in as many weeks.

The win made it six in a row for Chelsea, with manager Antonio Conte continuing to pull the tactical strings that has vaulted the Blues to the top of the table. They will look to continue the run of dominance they have enjoyed against their neighbors who, despite losing just once in their last eleven London Derbies (W5 D5), have won only one of the last fourteen meetings across all competitions between the sides (D7 L6) and who have still never won a league contest at Stamford Bridge, leaving without any points in fifteen of their previous twenty-four meetings (D9).

Sunday, November 27 (all times eastern)

11:30am – West Ham United @ Manchester United – NBC Sports Network

While the unlikely three points has propelled Tottenham back into the title race, West Ham United were once again left to pick up the pieces, with their second defeat in the last three league games (D1) leaving the Hammers just one point above the drop the zone ahead of their trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United, who themselves squandered all three points but managed to hold on for a share of the spoils after Olivier Giroud’s 89th minute header leveled the tie they had dominated throughout against a less than their best Arsenal, in the weekends penultimate kickoff.

As the Hammers continue their brutal stretch of fixtures, that includes matches against Arsenal and Liverpool over the next two weeks, the response that West Ham manager Slaven Bilic is able to muster from his side following last weekend’s capitulation will determine if they can overturn a dreadful run of form on Sunday where, although managing to pick up points in four of their last five meetings (W1 D3), they have managed to win only one of their last thirteen meetings with United across all competitions (D5 L7) and just two of the last twenty-three league matches at Old Trafford. (D1 L20).


November 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 24
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forget about the other stuff today and just be thankful

Today's the day not to worry about all that other junk.

There shall be no fretting over the recently elected President. He'll still be there tomorrow and so will everyone on social media bellyaching about how it all worked out a few weeks ago.

Let's not be overly concerned about the Ravens and their mediocre 5-5 season to date. They'll whip up on Cincinnati this Sunday in Baltimore and will still be in first place this time next week.

I don't know if the Orioles are going to be able to re-sign Mark Trumbo, but I do know I'm not going to worry about it today.

I might worry just a smidgen about the Calvert Hall-Loyola "Turkey Bowl" this morning at 10:00 am, but if the Dons are lucky enough to pull off a victory, I'm not going to eat any less turkey or mashed potatoes later this afternoon.

I won't care about much today, except being thankful for the last year.

I'll spend my Thanksgiving holiday with my wife's family in Western Maryland. I'll have all I need there.

I'm blessed to have a wonderful, supportive, hard working wife and two healthy, funny, loving children. Ethan caught a few touchdown passes in my in-law's front yard yesterday ("Dad, you should have played in the NFL!" he said after one of my long spirals -- all of about 14 yards or so) and Lucy took everyone's drink order for the Thanksgiving feast and created name cards for everyone who will be at the dinner table later today.

I don't need much, you see. A wife, two children, a roof over our head...the rest of it is just icing on the cake.

Well, I could use a few more putts to fall in, but I had my day in the sun a decade ago. If they go in now, it's a bonus. If they don't, I just laugh and go to the next hole.

I'm thankful beyond belief at what I have in my life, including this venture here, which started on August 25, 2014.

I wish I could reveal who said this to me a week or so after a bunch of us were fired at a local radio station, but he'd face some unfair repercussions if I published his name here. Still, I remember it like it was yesterday.

"Getting fired and getting away from that place will be the best thing that ever happened to you," he said when we met for coffee. "Someday, you'll give thanks that it all worked out like this."

I do give thanks. But not necessarily because it "worked out like this", but more because I've had so many people offer their support and friendship since Drew's Morning Dish started in 2014.

I always hesitate to mention specific names, because you know what happens. You inadvertently leave someone out -- and they then feel, well, left out.

But I can say I'm thankful for all of you and everyone who has helped me take this project from the ground up to now, where we are averaging nearly 5,300 visitors per-day.

Two names I will mention, because I can't foul those up, are the two guys who continue to help me every day with the odds and ends associated with running #DMD: Tony Young and George McDowell. I'm eternally grateful to those two.

I'm especially thankful to everyone who has contributed content here and continues to do so as we strive to bring the readers a diverse pool of sports for their enjoyment. I enjoy writing, but this site wouldn't be what it is if I were the only one providing content. So, thank you to those who have made this site better with their contributions over the years.

And I'm over-the-moon thankful to everyone who has been a corporate partner of #DMD since August 25, 2014. We've had 36 local and national businesses join us in some form or fashion since then, and I can say without question that you wouldn't be reading this right now if not for every single one of them.

Have you been to The Masters with us? Fenway Park? Yankee Stadium? Springsteen? Adele? Were you with us to see the Ravens in New England, Pittsburgh or New Jersey? Did you enjoy any of our Caps road trips in the past? The Palestra last February? Arizona in October of 2015?

If you joined us for any of those trips or any other special event we've produced, I'm thankful for you, too.

I know a lot of you visit here every single day. I check our "visits" and Alexa ranking quite frequently and I continue to be amazed -- and thankful -- that so many of you make this a stop on your daily journey.

Those of you who comment regularly -- I appreciate you, as well, and I'm thankful you take time out of your day to share your thoughts and opinions with me and the others who participate in that fashion.

Do you share #DMD with your friends via Facebook or Twitter every day? I'm thankful for you, too. You spread the message, so to speak, and I can't thank you enough for doing that.

Lots of people touch this venture of mine every day and I'm eternally grateful.

I try to come around once every couple of months and remind all of you that I am thankful and I do appreciate you, but today is that day when I go a tad overboard because, well, that's what Thanksgiving feasts are all about!

So I'm thanking all of you, today. Each of you, past and present. Anyone who has read the site, supported the site as a partner, or accompanied us on one of our trips -- thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and may God bless all of you as well as your families.

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feasting on football today, of course

Football, football, football and -- football today.

Along with a lot of food.

The day's football slate kicks off with the 97th playing of the "Turkey Bowl" at Ravens Stadium, as Calvert Hall and Loyola tangle for gridiron bragging rights.

We're very fortunate in these parts to have a game on Thanksgiving Day that means so much, and yet brings our community together in a way that most high school athletic contests simply can't do. Whether you're a CHC supporter of a fan of Loyola, today's the day you root like crazy for your team and then go back to working with one another again on Friday.

Neither team has had a particularly successful season thus far, as the Cardinals are 6-5 heading into today's game and Loyola stands at 5-5.

None of that matters this morning, though, when the kids step out on the field and -- hopefully -- play the game of their lives.

Thanks to the fine folks at Brooks Financial Group, the game will be televised locally on WMAR-TV, Channel 2. I'll be glued to the set for the duration, pulling for Calvert Hall, of course.

I wouldn't feel right making a score prediction for the game, but I have a funny feeling it's going to go the way of the guys in red and yellow. Just a hunch... ;)

But the rest of the games...I'll take a flyer on those, for sure.

VIKINGS (6-4) at LIONS (6-4), 12:30 PM -- I don't think we expected this one to be a big game for both teams six weeks ago, but all the sudden it is, as the Vikings have fallen off after starting 5-0 and the Lions have won five of their last six games including a huge victory at Minnesota a couple of weeks back. If Detroit can win this one today, they'd own the first tiebreaker with the Vikings in the event the two teams finish tied for the NFC North title. I like the Lions to get the job done. They're 2.5 point favorites and I see them winning by three, actually, 24-21.

REDSKINS (6-3-1) AT COWBOYS (9-1), 4:30 PM -- The Redskins really need this one today if they have any hope at all of winning the NFC East. Depending on what happens in the rest of the NFC, this one today could even go a long way in determining if the Redskins make the playoffs as a wild card team. I think Washington is better than they look. I also think Dallas is really good. But the Cowboys might need to lose one soon just to keep themselves in check a little bit. Dallas is favored by seven. I think Washington wins this one, though, 27-25.

STEELERS (5-5) at COLTS (5-5), 8:30 PM -- This is a huge game for both teams, and it got a lot more problematic for the Colts on Wednesday when they announced that Andrew Luck will miss the game with a concussion. That's just the break Pittsburgh needed, although I think the 8.5 points they're favored by might be a bit ambitious. Indy just isn't strong enough on both sides of the ball to compete with the Steelers IF PITTSBURGH PLAYS TO THEIR POTENTIAL. That's a big "if", since we saw the Steelers lay a massive egg in Baltimore earlier this month. I'll go with Pittsburgh in this one, 29-17.

NOTE: Every Sunday at #DMD, I produce a segment called "Show Me The Money" in which I pick six games against the spread. I'm going to use the Washington-Dallas game today as one of my six for week #12, and I'll take the Redskins plus seven points against the Cowboys.

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November 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 23
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lewis apology is nice, but pot has already been stirred

Ray Lewis did a nice thing on Monday.

He apologized to Joe Flacco.

It did start out kind of funny, though, with Ray looking at a camera while seated in a car and saying he wanted to talk with him "man to man".

Now, I'm just a guy who scraped by with B's and C's (and an annual "A" in gym class) at Glen Burnie High School, but wouldn't "man to man" mean it was Lewis speaking to Flacco, only? Is it really man to man when you're posting it on social media for the entire world to see?

I guess it is, in 2016.

It was nice of Lewis to reach out and set the record straight, but those kind of conversations are generally done in private, where the two can have an even exchange and Flacco could share a thought or two with Ray that he might not otherwise want aired to the entire football-loving nation.

In their best of times, Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco celebrated a Super Bowl title together in 2013. Joe sure looks "passionate" in this photo from New Orleans.

Joe will most definitely be asked about Ray's apology today at 1 Winning Drive when the media gets their crack at him, and Joe's likely to say, "Yeah, I saw it. I appreciated it. Everything's fine."

I can't imagine much more will come of it since it's just not in Joe's style to elaborate on much of anything.

I watched Ray's apology several times and still have a hard time understanding exactly what he was trying to do.

Then again, I never quite understood how it was that Lewis got involved in the whole mess to start with.

There was one moment of clarity, though, in Ray's two-minute broadcast on Monday. It was the part where he mentioned that by no longer playing, he was no longer in control of the Ravens. That much, I believe. It's probably still tough for Ray to watch a game and know he's no longer the central theme of the entire on-field product. That's tough, I'm sure.

But the cat's been let out of the bag now, and that whole "passion" theme is going to linger with Flacco for the rest of this season, at least, if not longer.

Before, it was whispered -- "Gee, is it me or does Joe not show a lot of excitement?".

Now, because Ray Lewis brought it up, it's a real topic -- "Does Flacco really want to win? Does he have the passion you need to win?"

I remember in Peyton Manning's heyday in Indianapolis, he would occasionally get mad on the sidelines, throw a helmet or two, look outraged, and people in Baltimore would say, "Look at that cry baby in Indianapolis!"

Some would call that "passion".

They want Flacco to show more of that these days.

I've said this so much about Joe Flacco that I need to start putting a dollar in the "Joe jar" on any occasion I mention it: Joe is what he is. He is NOT changing. The personality you see this Sunday against the Bengals is the same personality you're going to see in week #12 next season when the Ravens play the (insert team here).

He's definitely not happy when he throws an interception or misses a receiver on 3rd and 8, but you're not going to see him explode on the sidelines or get "fired up" like we expect an athlete to do in the traditional sense when he fails to succeed.

We all have our own opinions on things, so here's mine: I'd rather have a team of Joe Flacco's who play hard, go about their business and stay even-keeled most of the time than I would to have a team of Steve Smith's who are always operating on "10", want to fight someone after every play, and can't control themselves emotionally.

That's just me, though. You might like the raving maniac type like Steve Smith Sr. on your team.

Everyone knows how to quarterback, but no one has ever done it.

Listen to any sports talk show in town and you'll hear it over and over: "Joe doesn't go through his progressions", "Joe throws off his back foot", "Joe checks down too much", "Joe doesn't change the snap count enough".

And now, you can add the big one to the list: "Joe doesn't have any passion, Ray Lewis said so."

Never mind that Ray Lewis said "I'm sorry" on Monday. No one hears that. They only hear what they want to hear: "Joe Flacco doesn't have any passion".

Oh, and here's the most important part of the whole thing. Ray's apology rung hollow because he didn't actually correct what he said last week. He merely apologized for saying it.

What a real apology from #52 would have sounded like: "Joe, I'm sorry, my brother. I played five years with you, saw you in the best of times and worst of times. I could cite a bunch of examples here, but I won't. That will remain in the locker room, like it should. But for me to say you didn't have any passion? That was wrong, man. Just wrong. I saw plenty of passion from you, in ways that a lot of people would never understand. I was frustrated last week when I was asked about you and your playing style and said something I shouldn't have said. You have plenty of passion for football, Joe, and I know that."

Now that would have been an apology.

Nonetheless, Joe did get something from Lewis on Monday and, for now at least, that will have to suffice.

But Flacco's critics will have another angle of attack now, as they try to figure out why he can't lead the Ravens to a 16-0 season.

"Joe Flacco doesn't have any passion."

Phooey on that. I've said it before and will say it again. Passion isn't yelling and screaming and acting like a complete lunatic as if that somehow shows how much you want to win. By the way, Ray Lewis had PLENTY of that when he played the game. Those pre-game huddle moments are legendary.

Passion is loving something. Passion is being dedicated to something. Passion is wanting to succeed at something.

Flacco has plenty of passion.

He's not the best quarterback in the league. Far from it, in fact. He's only having an "OK" season, if you ask me. But one thing he doesn't lack is passion.

It's just a shame Ray Lewis didn't confirm that on Monday.

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avoid the 4-letter network and come here for the good stuff

After getting quite a scare from Towson University on Sunday, the Maryland men's basketball team rebounded nicely last night with a 77-63 win over defending America East champion Stony Brook at the Xfinity Center in College Park.

A 21-point night from Melo Trimble helped Maryland improve to 5-0 on Tuesday with a 14-point win over Stony Brook.

Melo Trimble continued his fine early season play with 21 points and is looking more and more like the guy who took the campus by storm as a freshman. Better ball handling, better shot selection, better play, overall, from Trimble. I'm not sure what happened last season, but I'll take this version of Trimble all year long.

Maryland has an interesting make-up in 2016-2017, and while it's safe to say they're going to be in a fight to be a top four seed in the NCAA tournament next March, this edition of the Terps has enough firepower and talent to make it to the Big Dance. The two key factors among returning players: Damonte Dodd and Dion Wiley. Dodd missed last night's game with a concussion, but Wiley was a big factor with 13 points in 13 minutes. Michal Cevkovsky saw plenty of action last night with Dodd out and scored 11 points for Maryland, but Dodd has to step into a bigger role this season for Maryland to be a threat in March.

Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson are college football's top four teams heading into a huge weekend of key games, and one of those four will not be there this time next week because the Buckeyes play the Wolverines on Saturday, with the loser likely eliminated from the playoff scenario.

Alabama hasn't lost yet this season, but their game this Saturday with Auburn isn't going to be a walk in the park by any means. And Clemson takes on South Carolina, which is sort of like that state's version of Loyola vs. Calvert Hall. South Carolina's season gets saved with a win over the Tigers and Clemson stays on path for a playoff berth with a victory over the Gamecocks.

Washington, Wisconsin and Penn State are "next in line" should a couple of the big four fall short this weekend.

Speaking of Loyola vs. Calvert Hall, the annual Thanksgiving Day game takes place tomorrow morning at 10:00 at Ravens Stadium. The game marks the final day on the sidelines for Loyola head coach Brant Hall, who is stepping down at the completion of this season.

Calvert Hall is 6-5 on the year and 1-4 in MIAA A-Conference play, while Loyola is 5-5 overall with an 0-5 mark in the MIAA.

The game marks the 97th meeting between the two teams. Calvert Hall won last year's affair, 6-0, on a first quarter 75-yard touchdown run from TJ Massey.

The Dak Prescott "picking up the cup" video from Sunday's win over the Ravens is drawing some rather crazy attention.

In case you missed it, the Dallas quarterback took a drink from a cup during the 4th quarter of the game and casually tossed the cup behind him in the direction of a trash can a few feet away. The cup missed the can and fell to the ground. Moments later, Prescott got up and put and the cup in the can.

Because everything is on TV these days, an alert camera operator picked up the moment and it was aired by the network.

And now, he's being hailed as the greatest guy on the planet, as social media posts and shares exceeded 100,000 on Tuesday alone.

"More people need to pick up their trash if it was that big of a deal," Prescott said when asked about the moment. "I just simply missed the garbage can and didn't think much of it. Get up and put my trash where it belongs."

I agree with that.

Looks like Prescott has a real "passion" for keeping the stadium clean.

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local women's hoops: towson beats umbc to stay undefeated

After leading by a point at the half, the UMBC women's basketball team fell 59-48 to the Towson Tigers on Tuesday night at the RAC.

Despite out-shooting the Tigers in three out of the four quarters, the Retrievers could not overcome a strong third quarter outing from the visitors. The Tigers remain perfect on the season at 4-0, while the Retrievers fall to 2-2.

Juniors Laura Castaldo and Lakiah Sims led UMBC with 17 points each, as Castaldo went 5-7 from behind the arc. Sims also collected 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Towson's Sianni Martin and Raven Bankston led the Tigers with 14 points, while Raine Bankston collected a team-high eight rebounds.

UMBC led 28-27 at the half, but Towson out-scored UMBC in the third quarter, 17-5, and converted 40 percent of their shooting to extend their lead to as much as twelve at one point. Towson used a 6-0 run early to gain momentum, including layups from Raine Bankston and Martin.

UMBC attempted to close the gap in the fourth quarter, shooting 66.7 percent from the three-point line but could not overcome a 15-point deficit created by Towson early in the period. 12 of the Retrievers' 15 points in the period came off of shot from behind the arc.

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November 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 22
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why no. 2 is actually no. 1

Maybe, as the saying goes, the third time was the charm.

Perhaps the other two times I played Pinehurst No. 2, I wasn’t really considering how difficult the course really was, instead shifting my focus to the Calvert Hall golf team and my group of players and parents who were visiting the resort and playing the course with me.

Whatever the case, I finally figured it out this past Sunday.

Pinehurst No. 2 is the hardest golf course I’ve ever played.

I was in Pinehurst over the weekend for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes annual national scramble tournament, with fifty or so teams from around the country converging on the little North Carolina town for three days of golf, fun and, well, fellowship.

On Friday, the group I made the trip with – which included my friend Brian Hubbard of Kelly Payroll – got to enjoy a “warm up round” at the Dormie Club, a six year old course about ten minutes from Pinehurst that was designed in part by Ben Crenshaw.

Donald Ross lived just off the 3rd green at Pinehurst and would sit on his patio and watch golfers try and two putt the hole and get any if they did. Or so the story goes.

We then kicked off the FCA tournament on Saturday with the hidden gem of the Pinehurst rotation, No. 4, before moving over to play the famed No. 2 layout on Sunday.

It was, as I mentioned above, the third time I’ve played No. 2. The other two occasions I was there with my Calvert Hall golf team, as we use Pinehurst for our annual spring trip each March prior to the start of our MIAA regular season.

I remember the first time we played No. 2, in 2014, I shot a couple over par and made birdie at 14, 16 and 17. I recall strolling off the green at the par-3 17th and thinking to myself, “What’s so hard about this place?”

Well, that round in 2014 was played from the white tees, as was the 2015 round, and as I found out this past Sunday, there is a wildly large gap in playability between the white tees and the blue tees.

Oh, and those blue tees aren’t even close to “the tips” at Pinehurst No. 2. For example, the second hole we played on Sunday was 420 yards. When the men’s U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst in 2014, the second hole measured a whopping 507 yards.

Nearly every tee box is like that at No. 2. The blue tees are “back there”, generally 15 to 25 yards behind the white set of tees. The championship tees, which aren’t even open right now, are in another zip code.

People ask me all the time, “what’s the best course you’ve played?”

I never know how to answer that.

What does “the best” mean, after all?

Does it mean “most memorable”?

That would be Royal Birkdale, in Southport, England.

Does it mean “in the best condition?”

That might be Canterbury CC in Cleveland. Or Plainfield CC in New Jersey.

Does “the best” mean the one place you’d play tomorrow if a buddy called and said, “Pick any course you’ve ever played once and we can go back there again”?

That would probably be Pine Valley, which I was fortunate enough to play a few years ago.

But if “the best” meant the hardest course I’ve ever played, then No. 2 at Pinehurst is the winner.

I haven’t played a lot of the great courses in the U.S. I’ve been to Augusta a half-dozen times but haven’t teed it up there. Haven’t been to Oakmont, Winged Foot, Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits or Seminole.

They’re all on my list, some a tad more ambitious of an effort than others, but I hope to get to all of them at some point.

But I’ve been to Pinehurst enough to know – now -- that I’ve never played a place as hard as No. 2.

There isn’t anything at all easy about the place.

Driving the ball is supremely difficult because you can be one foot off the fairway and have your ball come to rest in a thick, weedy mess and have no chance at all to advance the next shot more than 50 yards.

Fortunately, those kind of bad breaks are few and far between, but if you do manage to miss the fairway at No. 2, you better know how to hit a 160 yard shot out of sand and whispy, wheat like grass.

I love the way Pinehurst looks and plays after your tee shot comes to rest. There is fairway, and then there’s “the rest of the course”. It’s not really rough. It’s not tall grass. It’s just sand, sand and more sand, with some growth of grass littered throughout.

A fly-over view of the 1st fairway and green at Pinehurst. The second hole looms off in the distance.

Honestly, it’s like the whole place is sand and they interfered with it by plopping down huge 300 yard strips of green grass right in the middle of it and called that “fairway”.

It’s different than any traditional major championship course in that the folks who look after the place basically just cut and maintain the fairways and greens and leave the rest of it to mother nature.

I like it that way, actually. It’s like playing golf in your big backyard.

Almost every green at No. 2 has a false front of some kind, which really restricts the player who likes to run the ball up to the putting surface. I mean, you can try that kind of tactic if you want, but you’re going to drive yourself crazy by the sixth hole, as any ball not hit perfectly up to the middle of the green will simply roll back to the front and into a collection area. And any ball hit past the pin with pace will roll off the back of the green.

The designer of Pinehurst, Donald Ross, was one of the first golf course architects to understand the concept of hitting an iron shot flush and putting the proper spin on the ball to keep it on the putting surface once it reached the green.

On a Donald Ross course, "bottom-groovers" who don’t hit their hit irons well are bound to have a five foot bogey putt on just about every hole.

If you can’t compress the ball and give it the appropriate spin to produce “bite” once it hits the green, you’re well on your way to shooting 90.

Once on the green, if you’re fortunate enough for your ball to come to rest there, you’re faced with the next challenge, which is getting it to go in the hole.

The greens at No. 2 aren’t excessively nasty, but they have a lot of pace to them and any putt of twenty feet or more has to be hit with just the right precision or you could be facing a ten footer coming back.

And remember, this was Sunday in November at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes national scramble. The United States open, it wasn’t.

Let’s talk about the length of the golf course for a minute. That’s the factor that makes Pinehurst No. 2 the hardest place I’ve ever played.

My group included four competent players, all of whom have the ability to hit a drive somewhere in the neighborhood of 280-300 yards.

Granted, it was 40 degrees and a little breezy on Sunday morning when we started at 9 am, but here’s a quick rundown on our first five holes.

At the first, 380 yards, we had 138 yards in and all hit 8-irons, a couple of which came up short – although well struck – and two that reached the putting surface. I can normally hit a 9-iron 138 with ease, but not on this day.

At the second, we enjoyed the thrill of a drive that left us just inside 150 yards for our second, then watched in amazement as not one of us could get the ball on the green from there, every shot coming up short and rolling back into a collection area. Maybe I should have hit 6-iron instead of 7-iron.

The third was an easy pitching wedge from 110 yards out, but none of us could coax home the 12-foot putt for birdie. In fact, the first three guys hit the putt (the exact same putt, remember -- we were playing a scramble) ten feet past the hole before I gingergly sent the birdie putt two feet past the hole, missing on the high side for fear of having it miss low and roll down the hill with the others.

Then it got fun.

At No. 4, a 475 par-4, we had 180 to the hole and, once again, we couldn’t get the ball close to the hole. The first three guys in the group all hit five and six irons, short of the green. I tried to half-swing a 4-iron there, catching it almost too perfectly, and it bounded past the pin and came to rest some 50 feet from the hole.

At home at Eagle’s Nest, I’d be hitting six iron from 180 yards.

I hit a chippy 4-iron at Pinehurst No. 2 from the same distance.

Number 5 is a 520 yard par-5, where we had 255 to the hole for our second. No one could get the ball up the hill and close to the green, but we did manage to finally make a birdie after a close sand wedge approach from 70 yards left us a kick-in birdie.

And so it went, all day long.

We’d pipe a drive, or so we thought, only to get out there and find that we still had 144 yards to the hole instead of the 125 we thought we might be facing.

And then, we’d have to add at least one club, if not two, just to make sure we got the ball on the green and away from the dangers of getting “Donald Ross’d” as I called it time and time again whenever someone’s decently-struck shot was rejected by the false front that borders the putting surface.

Golf is hard enough when you face a 160 yard shot and you typically hit a 7-iron 160 yards. It’s even harder when you have to factor in four other things and then hit a 6-iron that same distance but still face the challenge of hitting the ball solidly.

On a handful of holes, we'd have a five or six iron into the green because the length of the course just never stops coming at you. No matter what anyone says, a golf course at 6,000 yards is much easier than a golf course at 7,200 yards. It's easier to score with a wedge in your hand than a six iron, that's for sure.

Our team of four shot a gross 64 on No. 4 on Saturday, a score that put us in the top 10 of the 37 teams in our “open division”.

Those same four guys shot four-under par 68 on No. 2.

Granted, we didn’t make a “team bogey”, which turned out to be more of an accomplishment than you might think, but 68 in a scramble is a pretty lousy score.

But not at Pinehurst No. 2, it’s not.

Here’s the thing, though: Martin Kaymer shot 65-65 to open the 2014 there.

I gently reminded my three friends of that as we walked to the 17th green on Sunday afternoon.

”Martin Kaymer is going to beat us by three shots by himself,” I told them as I added up the numbers and assumed we weren’t going to make the 20-footer for birdie at 17 (we didn’t) or birdie the 18th hole (we didn’t).

And that turned out to be true.

Kaymer, somehow, shot -10 for the first two rounds of the 2014 U.S. Open.

Now, it’s fair to remember that the next best score through 36 holes was only 4-under par and only twelve players shot par or better after two days, so the course showed its teeth to everyone but Kaymer.

Still, how someone shot 10-under par at that beast for two rounds is beyond me.

It’s not the most pleasing place to the eye. There definitely is grass out of place and footprints scattered throughout the vast waste areas of sand and mounds.

You won’t mistake Pinehurst No. 2 for Augusta National, that’s for sure.

But anytime you make a par at No. 2, you’ll know you’ve done something pretty special.

I can’t say that for most of the great places I’ve played.

At Pinehurst No. 2, though, you count your victories by how many greens you hit and how many three putts you avoid.

I’ve never played a harder golf course in my life.

And I’m headed back there in March with the Calvert Hall team to give it a go once again.

It’s one of those places that pulls you back in right after it kicks you in the shins.

Hopefully my bruises are gone by March.

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klinsmann’s dismissal was the only option at this time

Someday in the future, much like Andy MacPhail did for the Orioles nearly a decade ago now, Jurgen Klinsmann will be appreciated for what he accomplished with the United States men’s national soccer team.

But Klinsmann’s U.S. national team career ended yesterday, a sad footnote to an otherwise productive years as the squad’s coach and technical director.

His critics will note that the U.S. didn’t fare well in recent “important international events” like the Gold Cup and Copa America, but the Americans did advance to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup before falling to Belgium in the round of sixteen.

None of that, though, was nearly as important as what transpired on November 11 and November 15, when the U.S. lost the first two games of the final stage of World Cup 2018 qualifying, falling 2-1 to Mexico and 4-0 to Costa Rica.

It’s not going to require a miracle for the U.S. to make it out of “The Hex” as one of the top three CONCACAF teams, but their backs are clearly against the wall now and Klinsmann is catching most of the blame.

As it usually goes anytime a coach is fired, the players haven’t done their part, either.

This, though, was the only move the U.S. Soccer Federation could make at this point.

Former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena is expected to sign on for a second tour of duty this week and hopefully bring some new life into a U.S. squad that is in danger of missing out on World Cup 2018.

If a NFL team goes 4-12, they get a really high draft pick or two and can quickly bolster their lineup…eight months after winning just four of sixteen games.

This U.S. soccer team won’t resume World Cup qualifying until late March, but they’re not finding any new players between now and then. There may be a few guys in the player pool who didn’t make the travel roster for the Mexico or Costa Rica games that the new head coach can work into the team, but he won’t be a “new name” by any means.

And speaking of “new names”, it’s likely that Bruce Arena is going to get the job as Klinsmann’s replacement.

That’s OK by me.

Arena, in case you haven’t followed soccer for the last twenty five years, has been a winner at every level he’s coached.

University of Virginia: champions

D.C. United and Los Angeles Galaxy: champions

U.S. World Cup team (2002): advanced to final eight

But Arena can’t make chicken salad out of chicken manure.

Sure, he might have some different tactical philosophies than Klinsmann did, but he’ll be putting most of the same 11 guys on the field as Klinsmann had at his disposal.

I’m an Arena fan, so I like his hiring, but to suggest the U.S. team was being weighed down by Klinsmann is silly.

It’s not Klinsmann’s fault John Brooks couldn’t put foot one foot in front of the other last Tuesday night in the 4-0 shellacking at Costa Rica.

How is the coach to blame when Michael Bradley pussy-foots around with the ball twenty yards from the goal to essentially give-away the first tally of the 2-1 loss to Mexico?

There’s more to it than that, of course, and the coach does ultimately pay the price for the performance of his players, but the U.S. side is in deep doo-doo right now because of reasons that don’t all link directly to Jurgen Klinsmann.

Someday we’ll all realize that his five years as the U.S. coach turned out to be an important time in the development of our national team program.

For now, though, he’s the guy who took the blame for a couple of losses last week that had more to do with the players than the guy leading them.

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the nfl's best six and worst six

This is starting to get fun, now. It's easy to pick out the two best teams and two worst teams in the NFL, but then the list gets a little tricky. There are some really bad teams in the league and a handful of clubs that are hitting their stride at just the right time and starting to look "December dangerous".

Where do the Ravens rank? Somewhere in the middle, I'd say. Without going into exactly who is better or worse, I'd put the Ravens right around 14 or 15 in the league, which still might be good enough to get them a home playoff game via the AFC North title. As Baltimore and Houston are proving right now, you don't actually have to be good to make the playoffs.


27. CINCINNATI BENGALS -- Let's throw a new team in there, shall we? The Bengals (3-6-1) are now "done" for the season. Is it time for the Marvin Lewis era to end in Cincinnati? I think so.

28. NEW YORK JETS -- I still can't get over the Ravens lost to the Jets. I just can't.

29. CHICAGO BEARS -- A friend of mine had the Giants in his "survivor pool" on Sunday and turned to us while we were having lunch at Pinehurst and said, "Uh oh, the Bears are down six and driving in the fourth quarter." I said, "Is Cutler playing quarterback?". He nodded his head in affirmation and I quickly shot back: "Don't worry, he'll throw a pick here in a minute or two and you'll be fine." Thirty seconds later, Cutler threw an interception and the Bears lost. He stinks and so do they.

30. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- It would be interesting to see the Jaguars play the 49'ers and Browns in back-to-back weeks. I'm not 100% sure Jacksonville would win both games. They probably wouldn't, in fact.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS -- They actually hung in there for 45 minutes with the Patriots before finally succumbing on Sunday, losing 30-17. They're a bad team, too, but the last two weeks, they've been in the game well into the fourth quarter, a small triumph of sorts.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS-- I always start here every Tuesday and work backwards. The Browns are 0-11 now and steamrolling in the direction of 0-16. The players keep saying they WILL win a game. I hope they're right. I don't like seeing a franchise suffer like this, unless it's the Philadelphia Flyers. But I think 0-16 is a real possibility now.


6. NEW YORK GIANTS -- Don't look now, but the Giants are starting to hit their stride as December approaches. They're 7-3 (8-3 if you count next month's gift-win at Cleveland) and looking like a team you might not want to face in January, particularly given their history of winning road playoff games with Eli Manning at the helm.

5. DENVER BRONCOS -- Heck, there's a chance they might not even make the playoffs, but the Broncos have a nice mix of offense and defense and could pose a problem for the AFC South or AFC North winner if they make it to the post-season as a Wild Card team.

4. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- I'd very much like to see a Seattle-Dallas NFL title game. Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense vs. Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas offense. I'd be watching that one.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- Sure, it took them until late in the 4th quarter to finally polish off the Texans last night in Mexico City, but it's not easy to go play in a foreign stadium and produce a victory and Derek Carr and the Raiders did that last night. If they can somehow finish ahead of New England and win the AFC, who knows how far they can go in the post-season?

2. DALLAS COWBOYS -- I realize they "only" beat the Ravens, but Dallas was tested on Sunday and came through with flying colors. That kid at quarterback is legit and so, too, is the rooke running back. And in a league where offense reigns supreme and your defense just has to be "good", not great, Dallas has both ends of that spectrum covered. They're for real.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- It's a toss-up at the top, but I'm going with the team that has the better quarterback and better coach, and that's New England. I do think a Patriots-Cowboys Super Bowl would be one heckuva match-up, as Bill Belichick tries to figure out how to steal enough practice tape to create a good game plan to slow down Ezekiel Elliott.

Chase Fitzgerald
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November 21
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Issue 21
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mistakes, lack of offense again doom ravens in loss at dallas

Only the eternal optimist -- and Joe Flacco, perhaps -- was surprised by Sunday's Ravens loss at Dallas.

Heck, some dummy from Glen Burnie actually picked the exact final score yesterday here at DMD. That's how sure I was that the Cowboys were going to win...I had them coming out on top, 27-17.

The Ravens coulda, shoulda, woulda beat Dallas on Sunday, but too many things had to go right for that to happen and most of those things, unfortunately, didn't work out in Baltimore's favor.

John Harbaugh's team needed to stay away from penalty flags. Instead, they were penalized 12 times for 136 yards.

The Ravens needed to limit Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the two Dallas super-rookies. Prescott threw for three touchdowns and Elliott ran for 97 yards on the day.

You can't blame John Harbaugh for being mad about Sunday's loss at Dallas. It's tough to win when your players get flagged 12 times for 136 yards in penalties.

Baltimore's offense needed to show up in a big way. It didn't. Despite having one more offensive series (10 to 9) than Dallas, the Ravens had nine fewer first downs and fifteen fewer offensive plays.

There's the telling stat of the day: The Ravens' offense had one more possession than the Cowboys and wound up with nine less first downs and ran fifteen fewer plays.

And in the second half, Baltimore stopped running the ball, a familiar phrase to those who have followed the team over the last few years. The Ravens carried the ball just six times in the final two quarters, turning a 10-10 halftime nailbiter into a 24-10 fourth quarter deficit.

It wasn't a bad "performance" from the Ravens overall, but a loss is a loss is a loss.

And again, facing what I think we'd all characterize a "good" team, the Ravens couldn't find a way to come out on top.

Depending on your analysis of the Steelers, here's what Baltimore has done this season when facing a solid opponent.

Oakland: lost

Washington: lost

N.Y. Giants: lost

Pittsburgh: won

Dallas: lost

Here's the good news: everyone has to play the bottom feeders, too, and that's where the Ravens have made their meal ticket this season, beating Cleveland (twice) and Jacksonville for three of their five wins.

But losing games to these good teams is getting to be old hat for the Ravens, who can't seem to come up with the big play on offense when they need it, unless they're playing the Browns.

The other dose of good news? The Bengals are now done, falling to 3-6-1 yesterday and likely losing wide receiver A.J. Green for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. Just in time for Thanksgiving this Thursday and their visit to Baltimore next Sunday, you can stick a fork in Cincinnati. They're cooked.

That leaves the Ravens and Steelers fighting it out for the AFC North title and the home playoff game that comes along with it.

And Pittsburgh doesn't look that much different than the Ravens, as their 5-5 record so indicates.

Dallas, quite clearly, has a very good team. There's no shame in losing to the them, a 9-1 side with the best record in the league.

But once again on Sunday, the Ravens couldn't get out of their own way. They led twice, 7-0 and 10-7, but couldn't tack on an additional score that would have put some distance between themselves and the Cowboys and forced Dallas to play out of its comfort zone, perhaps.

And then the refs got involved, and you know what happens at that point.

I'll stick with what I said this time last week when looking ahead at the rest of the regular season schedule.

We knew yesterday was going to be a loss -- or at least I did, anyway.

The three remaining home games are the critical contests that will keep Baltimore alive and well in the playoff picture. If they beat Cincinnati, Miami and Philadelphia, they'll need to win at least one of their remaining road games, if not two: at New England, at Pittsburgh and at Cincinnati.

They're not winning at New England, obviously.

So that leaves going to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and winning there.

That can be done, for sure.

Flacco and Harbaugh have won a number of times in Pittsburgh and, unlike New England, the Steelers are not one of the league's better teams at this point. The Bengals will be ready to head south for the winter when the Ravens get their for the final regular season contest.

Winning those three remaining home games is what the Ravens need to do to make the playoffs.

Stealing that one yesterday would have been nice, but Dallas is 9-1 now for a reason. They have a very good offense and a pretty decent defense, too, although I think we'll all agree they're going to go as far as Prescott and Elliott take them in January.

The Ravens very much resemble about eight other teams in the league. They're good one week, not-so-good the next week.

It generally depends on who they play.

If the Ravens play "up", they lose.

If they play "down", the win.

Fortunately, they're playing "down" more than they're playing "up" for the rest of the season, with the exception of (possibly) Miami and New England.

The Ravens are still very much alive in the playoff race. I'd say today that I'd bet the Ravens to make it, in fact, as long as Flacco stays healthy.

Hold serve at home and steal a road game or two in the final six weeks.

It shouldn't be that hard.

Fortunately, it will be much easier to do that than it was to beat Dallas yesterday.

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around the nfl in thirty seconds

REDSKINS 42 - PACKERS 24 -- Wow, how the mighty have fallen. Green Bay's defense is just horrible and the Packers (4-6) look like they'll be home in January. Don't look now, but Washington (6-3-1) is poised to make a playoff run over the final six weeks.

STEELERS 24 - BROWNS 9-- Pittsburgh gets one of their two "gift" wins while the Browns fall to 0-10. I said back in week four the Browns could go 0-16 and they're closing in on that, with only home games against the Giants and Chargers giving them a semi-realistic chance of winning a game.

LIONS 26 - JAGUARS 19-- Detroit (6-4) is pretty good, particularly at home, when they're now 4-1 after yesterday's win over hapless Jacksonville. I was one of the guys who thought the Jaguars were going to step up in class this year and be a competitive team. I was one of the guys who was wrong.

COLTS 24 - TITANS 17-- Don't look now, but the Colts are suddenly 5-5 and in the thick of the AFC South playoff picture, especially if Houston loses to the Raiders tonight. That the Colts could make the playoffs shows you bad the league is this season; Indianapolis stinks.

BILLS 16 - BENGALS 12-- I think this one tells us more about the Bengals than Bills, but either way, Buffalo (5-5) is still giving it the old college try despite having no chance to win the division and only about a 25% chance of securing a wild card berth. The Bengals? Their season is over.

BUCCANEERS 19 - CHIEFS 17 -- Kansas City was 17-2 in their last 19 regular season games. And they lost at home to Tampa Bay. You figure it out. And the Bucs are now 5-5 and quietly still with a puncher's chance to challenge for the NFC South title.

GIANTS 22 - BEARS 16 -- Reason #104 that you don't bet on NFL football. Giants favored by 7. Giants kicker misses two extra points. Giants win by six. You can't make that stuff up. Unreal.

VIKINGS 30 - CARDINALS 24 -- A nice, much-needed win for the Vikings (6-4) and just about a season-ender for Arizona (4-5-1).

PATRIOTS 30 - 49'ERS 17 -- This one was actually close deep into the second half before New England broke open a 13-10 lead and won easily. San Francisco remains stuck on one win. That might be as far as they get this season.

SEAHAWKS 26 - EAGLES 15 -- Seattle continues their roll with an easy win over Philadelphia. The Seahawks might be the only team to have what it takes to beat Dallas in Dallas. I know the Giants did it earlier this season, but that was then. This is now. A Dallas-Seattle NFC title game would be a barnburner.

show me the money, week #11

I wrote in yesterday's #DMD "Game-Day" edition that a few of those games looked too good to be true.

And, naturally, they were.

I also got my fair share of "bad beats" on Sunday as well.

Cleveland had a chance to score a late TD and give me a back door cover over the Steelers. They didn't score.

The goofy Giants kicker missed two extra points (against his former team, no less) and turned an 8-point cover over the Bears into a 6-point loser. Oh, and I lost my "Best Bet of the Day" with this one, too. Thanks a lot, Robbie Gould.

The freakin' Bengals couldn't score a 4th quarter TD to win 19-16 and give me a half-point cover, instead losing 16-12. Losers...

So, with that, I produced a 2-4 mark on Sunday, winning on the Cowboys and Lions, and losing on the Bengals, Browns, Chiefs and Giants.





Still trying to get back to that elusive .500 mark.

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stay away from the 4-letter network and come here for the good stuff

I told you in "Fact and Opinion" on Friday that Maryland basketball might have a difficult time with Towson University yesterday and they did, pulling out a 71-66 victory. The game was deadlocked at 66-66 with a minute left, in fact, but Melo Trimble (27 points) and Anthony Cowan hit key foul shots in the game's final sixty seconds to give Maryland the win.

Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto, Towson’s leading scorers this season, accounted for 28 of Towson’s points, though they did so on just 7-for-26 shooting from the field.

I don't know much about the Maryland team yet, but I can tell you, for sure, that Towson is going to be right in the thick of the CAA race in 2016-2017. Could this be the season Pat Skerry finally steers the Tigers to the big dance in March? It sure looks like it, if the early-season games are a fair indicator of things to come.

I'm not a NASCAR follower, but I know enough to know that what Jimmie Johnson did on Sunday is pretty daggone special. Johnson captured the season-ending race in Miami for his 80th career victory and secured his 7th points title at the same time, tying him for all the all-time NASCAR lead with a couple of guys who were pretty good at driving a car around a track; Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

I'm not sure it's quite like Tiger Woods catching Jack Nicklaus at the 18-major mark, but in NASCAR circles, maybe it is. Winning seven points titles? That's some awesome stuff right there, dadgummit.

The Capitals suddenly can't beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, as Washington fell at home on Sunday, 3-2.

A late penalty to Nicklas Backstrom gave Columbus a power play and they cashed in for their second one-goal win over Washington this week. They beat the Caps in overtime last Tuesday in Columbus, remember.

Washington's offense, already not hitting on all cylinders this season, save for Wednesday's 7-goal outburst vs. Pittsburgh, is down a signficant contributor with T.J. Oshie out for an indefinite period with an upper-body injury. Oshie was injured in Friday's 1-0 home win over Detroit.

The Maryland men's soccer team lost one game all season, but unfortunately it happened last night. And it ended the Terps season. Maryland, ranked #1 in the country at 18-0-2, led Providence 4-1 early in the second half of their second round NCAA playoff game last night at College Park, but gave up four goals in the final twenty minutes to lose, 5-4.

In football terms, that's like being ahead 28-7 with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter and letting the other team score four late TD's to beat you, 35-28.

It's always tough to have your season end with a home playoff loss. But when you're up 3-1 at the 70 minute mark of a 90-minute game? A major kick in the family jewels, there.

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get that winter apparel ready for us!

For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.

November 20

week eleven

Issue 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Dallas Cowboys

1:00 PM EST

AT&T Stadium (aka "Jerry World")
Arlington, Texas

Spread: Cowboys -7½
Over/Under: 45

we’ll learn a lot about the ravens today

One way or the other, we’re going to learn a little something about our Ravens this afternoon in Dallas.

Lots of people in town actually think the Ravens are a pretty good team.

Others aren’t convinced of that.

I’m in the latter group, I’m sort of ashamed to admit.

Two weeks ago today, Baltimore was 3-4 and hosting the Steelers with a four-game losing streak hanging over their heads.

Five days after that, the Ravens were 5-4, in first place in the AFC North, and a lot of folks thought the hometown team had turned the corner.

We’ll see about that today in Dallas, where John Harbaugh’s team takes on the club with the best record in the NFL.

I’m not ready to anoint the Cowboys the league’s “best” team, but they do have the best record of all 32 teams in the NFL.

And it’s apparently not a fluke.

Baltimore’s big challenge today will be stopping the Dallas offense, something most of their nine opponents haven’t been able to do with any degree of success so far in 2016.

And, while the Ravens do boast the NFL’s #1 ranked defense, those numbers have been bolstered by two games with hapless Cleveland and a season-opening win over a ragged Buffalo offense.

Oakland and the New York Giants didn’t have much trouble carving up the Baltimore defense in earlier meetings.

But the last two wins over the Steelers and Browns have given the Ravens an injection of confidence they didn’t have during the midst of that 4-game losing skid last month.

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has been virtually unstoppable this season, but the Ravens #1 ranked defense intends to change that this afternoon in Dallas.

Is that enough to overcome the Cowboys today?

Only if the Baltimore offense comes to play.

Given what we’ve seen from the Cowboys in 2016, it’s unlikely the Ravens can completely clamp down on Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas offense today.

The Ravens are more likely to win 27-23 than 17-13.

And that means Joe Flacco will have to come through this afternoon.

The offensive line in front of him is going to have one back-up in a starting role, as Alex Lewis will miss the game with an ankle sprain. And with Marshal Yanda listed as “doubtful”, it’s likely another back-up will have to step in and play right guard.

If that’s the case and the Baltimore offensive line has two newcomers in place today, Flacco is going to be in the crosshairs all afternoon.

Can he overcome that situation and make plays? Game-changing and game-winning plays?

He’s going to need to do that in a big way if the Ravens are going to keep pace with the Cowboys.

This game isn’t all about Flacco this afternoon, but the Ravens can’t win if he doesn’t step up with a big performance.

He hasn’t had many of those this season.

Today would be a good day to produce one.

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show me the money, week #11

Slowly but surely, I’m climbing back near the .500 mark on the season, just in time for Christmas and that long shopping list I’ll need to honor.

For the season, I’m now 27-33 through ten weeks, going 3-3 last week after posting a 5-1 mark on November 6th.

I’m 4-5 in my “Best Bet” games and 3-6 in games involving the Ravens.

One more big week overall, though, and I’ll be right back in the thick of things.

Let’s hope it’s this week.

STEELERS AT BROWNS (+8.5) -- Pittsburgh is reeling. The Browns are terrible. I think the Steelers are going to win, but I don’t trust them at all, not after the egg they laid in Baltimore two weeks ago. I have zero faith that Cleveland can do anything except hang around by accident. I’m going to swallow the Buck Showalter-dumb-pill and take the Browns to cover here, as Pittsburgh win, 24-17.

JAGUARS AT LIONS (-6) -- This one almost seems too easy, as the stinky Jaguars are on the road to face the suddenly-surging Lions. Something about the number seems odd, as six points means all Detroit needs to do is win by a touchdown. Anytime I see a “weird” number, I tend to think it’s there for a reason, but in this case, I’m simply going with the Lions to win and cover, 28-20.

BILLS AT BENGALS (-2.5) -- This is pretty much Cincinnati’s season today. At 3-5-1, the Bengals are in virtually must-win territory. Buffalo is a typical NFL team. Good one week, lousy the next. I’m assuming this is one of their “bad” weeks. I’ll take the Bengals in a tough one, 23-19.

BUCCANEERS AT CHIEFS (-7) -- This one definitely looks “odd”. Tampa Bay isn’t very good and the Chiefs are playing as well as anyone in the league right now. And K.C. is only a one-touchdown favorite? Seems strange. Let’s go with the Chiefs to cover late, as they beat Tampa Bay 26-17.

BEARS AT GIANTS (-7) -- One of these no-brainer games is going to haunt me today, I’m sure, but I don’t think it’s this one. Chicago is awful. The Giants, at home, are pretty decent. I can’t see the Bears scoring enough points to hang with New York, who will score a lot this afternoon. I’ll take the Giants in a bit of a laugher, 34-17.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I’m feeling pretty good about the Lions beating up on the Jaguars, but that Bears/Giants game is even more appealing. One of those two is the best bet. Let’s do the famous coin flip. It comes up tails, so I’ll take the Giants (-7) over the Bears as today’s Best Bet.

HOW DREW SEES THE RAVENS/COWBOYS GAME: I realize the Ravens are coming into this one with two straight wins, but Dallas is better than Pittsburgh (as they showed last week) and, of course, tons better than Cleveland. This is a varsity game for the Ravens, and so far in 2016, those haven’t been to kind to John Harbaugh’s team. Washington? Ravens couldn’t beat them. Oakland? Ravens couldn’t beat them. Giants? Ravens couldn’t beat them. All three of those teams are over .500. If Baltimore’s defense rises to the occasion today, they have a puncher’s chance, but that’s only if Flacco comes through with a big game. And this year, on the road, he hasn’t been able to do that very often. Look for Ezekiel Elliott to continue his outstanding rookie season and Dak Prescott to throw a couple of first-half TD’s to put the Cowboys up 17-10 at the intermission. Dallas makes it 24-10 in the third quarter, the Ravens cut it to 24-17, and the Cowboys tack on a 4th quarter field goal to finalize the scoring. Dallas improves to 9-1 with a 27-17 win.

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Poll Results

Question: Which golf commentator most makes you want to jam ice picks in your ears?

Congratulations to Brandel Chamblee, who was named on 41% of the ballots cast. Here are the complete results:

  • Brandel Chamblee 41%
  • Jim Nantz 36%
  • Gary McCord 11%
  • Johnny Miller 8%
  • Nick Faldo 3%

November 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 19
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let’s not forget, flacco once
took a dig at ray lewis

As soon as I heard the Ray Lewis comments about Joe Flacco, I knew it would fan the flames.

For those who didn’t catch it on Thursday, the former Ravens linebacker discussed Flacco on Fox Sports and had this to say about his former quarterback:

”Gifted? Absolutely. Passionate about what he do? I’ve never seen that. I don’t know what that looks like.”

"I don't know how many times you'll hear somebody just really go out on a limb to defend he's the greatest teammate I've ever had," Lewis continued. "I don't know how many times you'll hear that. Maybe it's because his personality just isn't that personality. He's not a rah-rah guy. He won't say much. But, in the game of football, there has to be some burning fire behind you."

Lewis knows about passion, of course. That was perhaps his biggest benchmark as a player. Great linebacker? Sure. A better cheerleader than player? You’re darn tootin’.

And that’s saying something, obviously, since #52 will be a first ballot Hall of Famer in two years.

In February of 2013, these two were VERY happy to be teammates.

Flacco isn’t Ray Lewis. Period.

Lewis is always in 3rd gear. Flacco has the engine in neutral and he’s drifting.

Ray’s the guy who demands everyone yell “Ravens!” in unison during the pre-game huddle. Joe’s the guy who left the group moments before to go chew on some ice before the warm-up.

The national media made a big deal about Ray’s apparent criticism of Flacco.

That’s understandable. What else are the going to talk about now that Tony Romo has been officially relegated to a back-up?

You know who shouldn’t make a big deal about Ray’s comments?

Flacco, that’s who.

I’m not saying Lewis intentionally waited for this past Thursday to even the score with Joe, but let’s not forget that a few years back during Ray’s famous “farewell tour”, the quarterback took a good-natured — but perhaps accurate — jab at the former linebacker when asked to discuss some of Ray’s more well-known pre-game speeches.

”Yeah, it definitely gets you fired up,” Flacco said. “I don’t know what he’s saying half the time, but it gets you going.”

The media tried their best to make a big deal out of that, too, since anything said about Ray back then that wasn’t 100% in praise was looked at as an attempt to damage his wonderful career.

Flacco’s personality is well-documented.

He is NOT Ray Lewis. Not even close.

I think most people would like to see Joe be a bit more, shall we say, “lively” on the sideline.

But to even remotely suggest that Flacco’s tepid demeanor is keeping him from performing at a high level in 2016 is silly. And Ray should know that.

Flacco has been the same guy you see today since he arrived here in 2008.

He was like this in high school, and at Pitt, and at Delaware.

A leopard’s spots never go away, they just fade a little.

In other words: you are what you are.

If Lewis came back today and played, he’d be the same guy now that he was in 2012.

He’d come out of the tunnel like a madman, hop around in the end zone like Kevin Bacon in Footloose, and yell and scream after every big play in the first quarter, let alone in the last three minutes of a tie game.

That’s just who Ray is.

”Passion” in sports is a dangerous word. We tend to look at it like we saw Ray Lewis for 15 years -- the guy with fire in his eyes and a sound to his voice that says, “That guy really wants to win.”

Passion might also be getting to the facility at 6:30 am on a Thursday morning when the team itinerary says you don’t have to be there until 8:00 am.

Passion could be definied as “staying until 6:30 pm when the day for everyone else ended at 5:00 pm.”

Passion is when you get together with your wide receivers for one hour after practice to work on a select route that has just been put into the playbook for next week’s game and you say to the group of them, “No one leaves until we’ve made this play work twelve straight times.”

Passion isn’t just yelling and screaming.

Passion is, really, just “loving what you do”.

I think Joe Flacco loves football.

I think Ray Lewis did, too.

I see this latest episode as nothing more than Lewis finding the perfect time to perhaps even the score with the quarterback, who once questioned Ray for being “too passionate”, if such a thing even exists.

”Ray’s passionate. I’m just not sure anyone knows what he’s saying…”

”Joe’s not passionate. I’m just not sure he realizes how much that holds him back….”

Both guys were just answering a question posed to them.

I think they both realize the value of the other.

Ray certainly knows how much Flacco meant to his career. Lewis would have been a one-ring guy if not for Flacco’s play in the playoffs and the Super Bowl in 2013.

Lewis remembers losing 19-10 week after week in 2004, 2005 and 2007 when scrubs like Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright and Chris Redman were trying to lead the Ravens to victory and couldn’t.

And Flacco knows that Lewis wasn’t just a great player, he was an icon, a once-in-a-generation performer who made people around him play better.

I think we’d all agree that watching Ray jump around like a goof started to become “old hat” around 2010 or so.

And I think we’d probably all like to see Joe look a little more pissed off after throwing an interception or failing to connect with a receiver on an easy 3rd-and-11 pass across the middle.

But you are what you are.

Flacco’s not going to jump up and down after a missed throw and Ray was never going to go on the sideline and shuffle a deck of cards after missing a key tackle.

It’s just who they are.

The national media tried to stir the pot yesterday when the story made the rounds and Flacco was asked to comment, but even Joe knows the truth about this whole thing.

It’s just Ray being Ray.

Sometimes you have no idea what he’s trying to say.

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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.

In relative terms, the Orioles are flying high in Major League Baseball these days.

No, they didn't win the World Series, but 29 other teams also own that particular disappointment in any given year. But the O's remain one of the game's most successful teams over the past five seasons, and boast three playoff appearances and a division title in that span as well.

But as these things go in today's market, there's a major (and expensive) crisis looming on the horizon.

Specifically, the days Baltimore fans will get to see Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Chris Tillman plying their trade on their pre-free agency contracts are quickly coming to an end.

If no new deals are made, Machado and Britton will be eligible to file for free agency after the 2018 season, while Tillman actually has just one more year of team control left until he's free to sign with the highest bidder. In short, the window to win with this nucleus is rapidly closing, unless Peter Angelos comes up with a sudden influx of cash with which to sign multiple monster contracts to keep this group together.

The realization that these guys may be on the verge of skipping town has provoked some disparate reactions, and plenty are even suggesting the Orioles ought to shop these players around in an attempt to jump start the rebuilding process early.

While I appreciate the desire to think outside the box and look long-term, this is the sort of idea that sounds much better in a blog post or in the comment section at MLB Trade Rumors than in real-life practice.

While the theory is sound, in execution it's almost impossible to get the price to match up between two teams when players of this caliber are involved.

Realistically, two years of Machado at this stage in his career should be worth at least two to four high-level prospects, or maybe one or two young players already making an impact at the big-league level. That's a ton for any organization, even a near-term contender, to give up for one baseball player, and it hasn't happened much in recent history.

Much more common are teams deciding they need to move a player and getting a return that seems like a discount on his perceived value. And this is what's likely to happen if the Orioles look to trade one of their best players this winter: By committing to getting a prospect in return for him, they'll almost certainly bring back an underwhelming return that won't significantly help the club this year.

It's also worth keeping another thing in mind, something that tends to get forgotten when "smart" fans start playing out these just-so perfect trade possibilities: The goal of professional sports is to win championships.

The Orioles have been in that hunt for a few years now, and with the best reliever in baseball, an MVP-caliber player just coming into his prime, and a lineup that will likely be packed with big-power bats once again, they ought to be in that conversation in 2017 as well.

Whether or not the Orioles can resign Machado, or Tillman, or Britton, the primary goal ought to be to win the World Series in the next year or two while they're still here.

Beyond that? Well, things might be bleak . . . or they might not.

By that point the team certainly hopes that Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy will be anchoring the rotation, Jonathan Schoop is an All-Star, and new faces have stepped in to play a productive role and keep the team in the postseason hunt.

Losing big-name players is never fun, but it's hardly unheard of to lose an All-Star or even MVP-caliber talent and remain competitive anyway. And, believe it or not, the Orioles are surprisingly well positioned for a quick rebuild.

Specifically, Yovani Gallardo, J. J. Hardy, and Adam Jones have current contracts that will all be coming off of the books after 2018 at the latest, barring any further extensions, meaning that the team's only significant long-term obligation is Chris Davis.

That means that the franchise will have cash available to add free agents to the roster . . . or maybe even to make a play to keep Machado in town after all, lock down Bundy/Gausman for the long term, etc. If they give up their tendency to sign mediocre-at-best free-agents attached to draft-pick compensation, they might even be able to add to their own prospect base in the meantime.

But that's a long way down the road in baseball terms, and a lot can change. What matters now, though, is that the Orioles know their window, and they need to be focusing hard on doing their absolute best to win it all while Machado and Britton are still under their control.

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Sports Announcing

by George McDowell
(still without his own #DMD masthead)

Baltimore has been blessed with the best sports announcers in the country over the last half century. The Orioles have had Ernie Harwell, Bailey Goss, Herb Carneal, Chuck Thompson, and of course, the best baseball broadcaster of all time, Jon Miller, to call their games.

Miller was so good that he could make listening to rain delays on the radio an enjoyable experience!

Harwell and Thompson also broadcast the Colt games, joined by Bill O'Donnell and John Steadman, until Mayflower moved the Six Tons of Fun out of The World's Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum to someplace called Indiana on that dreary and treacherous night in March of 1984.

The Baltimore Bullets [name changed because politically incorrect] had a most mellifluous voice who was also an adept student of basketball, Jim Karvellas. Karvellas was so good, he was the only one who could describe in anywhere close to real-time the spectacular moves of Earl "The Pearl" Monroe on a fast break. Young readers will dismiss my memories of the good old days as those of an irrelevant man of bygones times, but after watching some of Earl's moves preserved on YouTube, should ask themselves why the sublime individuality of Monroe on a fast break has been "coached out" of all the alleged stars of today. Monroe made Bob Cousy look like a novice. Monroe would make all of today's backcourt heroes look like novices as well.

To me, today, one basketball game looks like another, and every player looks and moves like every other player. The voices that describe what they do all sound the same, too.

Karvellas' skills were recognized by the executives who tried to bring major-league outdoor soccer to the United States. The league paid a tremendous amount to bring an aging Edson Arantes de Nascimiento, aka Pele, to play for New York's Cosmos. In order to make the Beautiful Game's sublime artistry, personified even by an aging Pele, understood and appreciated by the unsophisticated American masses, Karvellas was brought in to announce.

You have read enough of the legendary Charlie Eckman from his friend and colleague on these pages so that anything I say about him would be unimportant. But his voice on a Bullets, Orioles, Blast, and Colts broadcast was distinctive, and riveting. Give me character over accuracy any day of the week!

We've moved, without being aware of the transition, from a local system of broadcasting to a national model. The sports model has followed the model that defines the universe of our modern lives. Virtually everything we buy today is from a national, or international chain. There are no more, or few, local hotels, motels, haberdashers, shoemakers, five-and-dimes, banks, pharmacies, grocery stores, or sub shops. Even strip clubs are franchises. And we are the poorer for it. There will not be another Eckman heard over the airwaves. Feherty and McCord might aspire to individuality, but the Establishment [translation: the Masters chairman and those who worship him] cannot tolerate it, and simply won't allow it. Someone, somewhere, might be offended. And the "brand" would be tarnished.

So all that is left is to rate and rank the "national" broadcasters. The choices are suitably narrowed. Hence this poll. The choices are as limited as the candidates in the recent election for president.


I just looked at the Baltimore Orioles website. It is a generic template, one apparently forced on all the teams in major-league basball. The background is the same for all teams in the majors. The links are identical and universal: News, Videos, Links, Tickets . . . , the only differentiation is the info found in the links. "© 2016 MLB Advanced Media, LP. All rights reserved." Who, other than those with a frontal lobotomy, would want to duplicate ANYTHING on any of these sites?!?!

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November 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 18
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never confuse a useful fact
with a useless opinion

FACT: -- The Yankees traded catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros yesterday. The Astros also signed outfielder Josh Reddick on Friday.

OPINION: -- Both of those Houston acquisitions could affect the Orioles. They were rumored to be interested in Reddick, who is now off the free-agent table, and McCann’s departure means the Yankees need someone to catch in 2017. Could that put Matt Wieters in the Big Apple next season? They could do worse, I suppose.

FACT: -- Max Scherzer won the N.L. Cy Young award on Wednesday, becoming just the sixth pitcher ever to win the honor in both leagues. Who are the other five?


OPINION: -- You didn’t get this one right so I’ll help you out. It’s good water-cooler fodder. The other five: Gaylord Perry (that’s the one you didn’t get, I’m guessing), Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay. Three of those five are already in the Hall of Fame. Halladay will get in sometime soon and Clemens might get in someday when the media forgets about his steroid use. In other words – Scherzer is on the fast track to Cooperstown.

FACT: -- Towson University is off to a 2-0 start in men’s basketball after Tuesday night’s 78-72 win at Morgan State. The Tigers travel to Maryland on Sunday afternoon to take on the Terps.

OPINION: -- Do not be at all surprised if Sunday’s game is a nailbiter for the Terrapins. Maryland is 2-0, yes, but it’s been an unsettled start, with a tough home win over American and a half-miracle comeback victory over Georgetown. Towson IS going to be a challenger for the CAA crown, but they might also be a legit mid-major in 2016-2017. I’m not saying they’re going to win on Sunday at College Park, but don’t be shocked if it’s a one or two bucket game.

FACT: -- Speaking of 2-0, the U.S. men’s national soccer team WISHES they had that record, but instead, they’re 0-2 in the early stages of the 10-game CONCACAF qualifying series.

OPINION: -- U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati continues to insist that coach Jurgen Klinsmann is “safe” and not in danger of losing his job, but sources tell The Washington Post otherwise. If Klinsmann does lose his job, there’s only one guy worthy of replacing him: Bruce Arena. And that’s who would get the gig if Klinsmann gets the heave-ho before the team’s next two-game series against Honduras (March 24) and Panama (March 28).

FACT: -- The Capitals are off to a nice start at 10-4-2, but Alex Ovechkin hasn’t hit on all cylinders yet, with 8 goals and 4 assists in 12 games to date.

It is difficult to play good hockey when injured, and even more difficult to play it with a five-iron.

OPINION: -- I’ve watched 12 of the 16 games to date and something isn’t right with Ovechkin. I’m not sure if he has a minor injury of some sort that’s bothering him or if he and coach Barry Trotz have had a recent spat, but I don’t see the same energy level from #8 that I’ve seen before. And in Columbus on Tuesday night, he didn’t even see 15 minutes of ice time.

FACT: -- Tiger Woods is returning to competitive golf two weekends from now when he tees it up at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. It will be his first taste of “real golf” since August of 2015.

OPINION: -- The field is only 18 players deep, but there aren’t any chumps teeing it off in the event. No bottom feeders, no guys trying to keep their TOUR card, etc. Woods won’t win, but he won’t finish last, either. My official call? Tied for 14th.

FACT: -- Woods hasn’t won a TOUR event since 2013, when he won five times.

OPINION: -- If he’s healthy in 2017 and plays in at least 15 tournaments this coming season, Tiger will return to the winner’s circle in ‘17.

FACT: -- There’s only one team in the NFL with one loss now and that’s the Dallas Cowboys.

OPINION: -- It’s far from a done deal that the Cowboys are destined to play in the Super Bowl in Houston. For starters, they’re the Cowboys. Their recent history suggests they could finish 13-3, earn home ice for all of the playoffs, then lose to Seahawks in the second weekend of the playoffs. Washington and Atlanta could also play the Cowboys tough come playoff time.

FACT: -- Jim Palmer never gave up a grand slam. And Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out of a game.

OPINION: -- The Chamberlain accomplishment is far more impressive than Palmer’s noteworthy stat. In every game Wilt played, it was reasonable to think he could possibly foul out. Palmer could go five starts or more without facing a bases loaded situation.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

We are back from the final international break of the calendar year and we have a new leader at the top of the table as Matchday 12 of the English Premier League readies to kick off with the surging Liverpool, winners of three in a row and seven of their last eight (D1), holding a one-point advantage over Chelsea and two points ahead of both Manchester City and Arsenal.

With over two-thirds of the season yet to run, this will surely not be the last time that the top spot in the league changes hands, so be sure to tune in this weekend, with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra, to see if the Reds can maintain their slight lead at the top.

Saturday, November 19 (all times eastern)

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

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho (right) and Arsenal skipper Arsene Wenger (left) aren't the best of friends, something probably inspired by the fact that Mourinho has never lost to Wenger in 14 lifetime matches.

A busy slate of Saturday games wastes little time getting started with a bang when Arsenal and manager Arsene Wenger, who failed to take all three points for just the second time in their last nine games (D2) in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham in the North London Derby, travel to Old Trafford to renew their longstanding and personal rivalries respectively with Manchester United and Jose Mourinho, after the Red Devils picked up their first win in the league since the end of September in a comfortable 3-1 victory over Swansea City to stay within striking distance of the fourth-place Gunners in the table.

Losers of just one of the last ten league meetings (W6 D3) and taking all three points in seven of the last nine encounters at Old Trafford (D2), Manchester United’s recent dominance over their longtime rivals extends past the pitch and to the touchline where Mourinho, although likely to be without his entire starting backline through injury and without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic through yellow-card-accumulation suspension, is unbeaten in eleven previous league meetings with the Gunners (W5 D6) and head-to-head all time against his longtime rival Wenger (W8 D6), with no love lost between the two.

10am – Manchester City @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC Live Extra

After getting past Spanish giants Barcelona for the first time in six tries in the midweek, Manchester City were unable to replicate their Champions League form when Sergio Aguero’s first-half opener was canceled out by Marten de Roon’s last-gasp injury-time equalizer in a 1-1 draw with near bottom-of- the-table Middlesbrough. The shared points dropped City out of the league’s top spot for the first time since the opening week of the season ahead of their trip to Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace, who continued their dismal run of form in a 3-2 defeat to the up-and-coming Burnley.

Following an unbeaten month of September (W3 D1), their recent four-game skid has once again highlighted the Jekyll and Hyde nature that Crystal Palace fans have grown accustomed to over the last year and a half since manager Alan Pardew took over, as they find themselves just a point above the drop zone. They are unlikely to turn that form around against City this weekend, with the Citizens winners of seven of the last eight league meetings between the sides (L1) and four of the last five at Selhurst Park (L1), keeping the Eagles off of the scoresheet in five of the last six meetings.

12:30pm – West Ham United @ Tottenham, White Hart Lane, NBC/USA

Back from injury and making his first start since the middle of September, Harry Kane from the penalty spot just after halftime pulled Tottenham level and eventually salvaged another point, their fourth draw a row, in the stalemate with Arsenal in the North London Derby. They will have another London Derby lined up for the weekend when West Ham United makes the short trip across town to visit White Hart Lane, with the Hammers earning points for the third time in the last four league games (W2 D1) to maintain their place outside the bottom three in a 1-1 draw with Stoke City.

West Ham have now lost just one of their last six games across all competitions (W3 D2) and, despite sitting only a point above the relegation zone, look to have overcome their shaky start to the campaign just in time for their visit to Spurs, whom the Hammers have beaten in four of the last seven meetings across all competitions (D1 L2) though managing to win only one of their last fourteen league visits to White Hart Lane, which will begin a daunting four-game stretch that includes away trips to Manchester United and Liverpool and a home matchup against Arsenal.

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who are the putative stars of
sports broadcasts — or — why are announcers so certain that we viewers give a rat's behind what they think?

My name is George McDowell. I wrote the following piece. You might have seen some few pieces of mine over the last few years in #DMD editions.

My role in the grand scheme of #DMD operations is that of the second-string scrub, called in off the bench only in garbage time or when the stars are injured. Like, for example, the next three days, when Drew is off cavorting in luxury on the grounds of Pinehurst #4 and #2 in some glamorous golf event, communing with the ghosts of Donald Ross and Ben Hogan while I work my fingers to the bone on a computer keyboard to keep alive an increasingly impressive consecutive-days-published streak. I also do some of the technical work on the website, creating audio and video clips. I code the articles written by Drew and the rest of the front-line scribes, but my own pieces are inserted only when the big dogs haven’t taken up all the space. C’est la vie. And it just ain’t fair.

But I’ve got the keys to #DMD for the next three days, and intend to joy-ride!

I have run my piece through a The-New-York-Times-class adverb-removal program, so to avoid what seems extensive criticism for their over-use, and have proof-read it through a spell-check program and by reading it backward, word-for-word. Truth be told, I dread Commentary criticism, and those issues seem to top the list of negative comments. But there is one thing that I know, for just about damn certain, is that feedback, either positive or negative, improves the product. So please use the Comment section over the next few days, until the adults return, to say what pleases or displeases you about this organ.

I had a dear friend years ago, Big Walt, who had a novel idea. He wanted to create an app that would broadcast his voice while the Masters Golf Tournament was on television. His idea was that folks could watch the video on muted TVs, and listen to his own play-by-play and commentary as he streamed it live in real time onto the Internet. I didn't invest in his idea, in part because Walt's words would likely have gotten him arrested — the profound protections of First Amendment notwithstanding — and in any case would have revealed him to be the world's most profane, racist, intemperate, callous, and vindictive cad. (Ironically, these are all the reasons that we, Walt's circle of friends, found him interesting and provocative, and because of which we called him Sunshine.) Looking back, I wish I had backed Walt's proposal. If so, we'd have an honest and interesting, albeit politically incorrect, audio track to listen to in place of the mindless, obvious, self-serving, falsely-patriotic, superficial, banal, and just-plain-wrong pap our ears are battered with now.

Here's but one of a thousand examples. This is commentary on a putt a solid top-ten player [but not one celebrated for garish clothing or early-in-the-round fist-pumps] is preparing to hit from about 15 feet.

Where's Curly?

Announcer A: This putt breaks left-to-right and must be hit firm.

[Note: there is NO hint in his voice of the possibility that he could be wrong. His pronouncement is one of absolute and uncontraverted fact.]

Announcer B: Have any others golfers made this putt today, A?

Announcer A: Some have, B, some haven't. The ones that missed were either short or long. Or right or left.

[Note: 43 million viewers, in unison: Duh!]

Announcer B: Looks like he's aiming to the right.

Announcer A: Well, he's had trouble finding the line all year long, B. It's kind of sad to see, really. He just can't seem to pick out the right lines anymore.

Announcer B: That's a shame. If he would sink more putts, it's possible he might finish higher up the leaderboards in tournaments he enters.

Announcer B: This putt breaks AWAY from the mountain, doesn't it?

Announcer A: Correct!

The confident golfer strokes the putt gently. It rolls slowly, and with four feet to go, begins a gentle break to the left.

[It appeared to this, admittedly majorless, viewer that the ball broke from HIGHER ground to LOWER ground and thus, the location of the mountain notwithstanding, in full conformity with the Law of Gravity.]

The putt curls perfectly into the center of the cup.

Announcer B [increduously]: Did that putt break right-to-left?

Announcer A: It did . . . I think . . . Maybe . . . I don't know . . . . Perhaps he aimed wrong, or maybe he mis-hit it, or maybe there's a little patch of grain there that threw it in. I guess he just got lucky. That's a left-to-right putt, every single time. I would always play that as a left-to-right break.

Announcer B: I know what you mean. I would always read it and play it that way, too. I roll some putts before I come to work every day, and I agree, that's a left-to-right putt.

Announcer A: Oh, well. Sometimes the golf gods chuck you a bone.

Announcer B: Amen! Sometimes two wrongs do make a right!

Announcers A and B: "Blah, blah, blah . . . "

SHUT UP! For the love of all that is sacred, please just SHUT UP!

Renton, where are you?

Since the cat's away, the mice are going to play. We publish the Poll below. Just maybe, a name on the list will be one of your favorites, and you'll want to carp about his inclusion on such a list. Great! That's what the Comments section is for. I'm happy to fight with you. [And those who think that certain content is spitballingly inserted in order to generate three, or five, or 10, or 20, or 50 extra clicks on the site's Comments to bump #DMD's Alexa rankings are morons — these few clicks simply don't nudge the needle.] Rather, in my view — perhaps and probably Quixotic — the networks might take some notice of this small but independent journal, and adjust their broadcasts in accord with grass-roots opinion. None of the hacks on ESPN have the stones to criticize the networks to which they aspire to be promoted.

I promise to publish the Poll for a day or two more, and to publish a brief piece reporting the results on Saturday or Sunday.

Chase Fitzgerald
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November 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 17
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"mr. mountain, meet mr. molehill"

I like LeBron James.

I think he's one heckuva of a basketball player.

I appreciate the fact he's lived his NBA life free of scandal, police blotter news and 3 am mugshot photos with bloodshot eyes.

And it's well worth mentioning that while he botched "The Decision" to bolt from Cleveland to Miami in 2010, he more than made up for it by the way he carried himself with the Heat and then by returning to Cleveland two years ago to stitch up the wounds he made six years earlier.

I don't own a jersey or anything, but I have great respect for James.

But this week's situation involving Phil Jackson is not only sad, but makes LeBron look more than a tad petty. And it once again shows the ticky-tack nature of professional sports, where athletes are entirely too quick to play the "disrespect" card these days.

It's not good to see two icons of the sport get into a media-driven fight over one word, but that's what happened recently with Phil Jackson and LeBron James.

I'm not sure I'd classify LeBron as a snowflake like thousands of these college kids we're seeing around the country who are so consumed with heartbreak over the recent election that they can't even go to class, let alone take a test.

But if James is truly that outraged over Jackson's use of the word "posse", maybe something really is wrong with our country.

Here's an honest-to-God newsflash about the word: posse.

I thought it meant "a group of people who hang around together".

That might very well be the 53-year old white guy coming out in me, one that hasn't ever watched ONE episode of shows like "Modern Family", "The Sopranos", "Game of Thrones" or "House of Cards". I have a 9-year old and a 6-year old, remember, so my TV for the last decade has filled with cartoons more than anything else.

It may just be that I'm out of touch, yes, I'll admit that.

But I honestly had no idea "posse" was an offensive word in the world these days.

Maybe Phil Jackson didn't, either.

In case you missed it, here's the quick lowdown.

Jackson was interviewed by ESPN The Magazine recently and somehow the topic of James and his move from Miami to Cleveland in 2014 came up. Here's what the former Bulls and Lakers coach had to say, in part, about LeBron:

"It had to hurt when they lost LeBron," Jackson said. "That was definitely a slap in the face. But there were a lot of little things that came out of that. When LeBron was playing with the Heat, they went to Cleveland, and he wanted to spend the night. They don't do overnights. Teams just don't. So now [coach Erik] Spoelstra has to text Riley and say, 'What do I do in this situation?' And Pat, who has iron-fist rules, answers, 'You are on the plane. You are with this team.' You can't hold up the whole team because you and your mom and your posse want to spend an extra night in Cleveland.

James flipped out when he saw that Jackson referred his group as a "posse". So did his business manager, Maverick Carter, who was part of that contingent back in 2014 and was outraged that Jackson use "the p-word" to reference James and his hanger-ons.

"It's the word 'posse' and the characterization I take offense to," Carter said. "If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partners or LeBron and his friends, that's one thing. Yet because you're young and black, he can use that word. We're grown men."

Maybe it's this simple: Maybe Jackson didn't realize "posse" was deemed offensive these days.

I know I sure didn't.

Oh, and here are three "official" definitions that you'll find on the internet:

Posse: a body of men, typically armed, summoned by a sheriff to enforce the law. (OK, we know Jackson didn't mean it like this, since James isn't law enforcement).

Posse: the body of men in a county whom the sheriff could summon to enforce the law. (Nope, not this one either).

Posse: a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation, or purpose. (Hmmm, could be this one. After all, they were all "men" and all involved some way in basketball.)

I realize I'm not as worldly as Phil Jackson and he's far more connected to the lexicon of the NBA than I am, but I thought it was completely fair and non-harmful to refer to a group of people who hang together or travel together as a "posse".

I don't think Jackson would have intentionally used "posse" if he new it was code word for something off-color in the world today.

James and Carter seem to think otherwise, which is their right, but this whole thing might just be one big misunderstanding.

That said, there's a lot of this kind of stuff going on these days in our country.

People are constantly getting overly offended by something someone says. It's getting to the point where you can't really say anything, for fear it's going to sting someone, somewhere.

We've lost our toughness, our thick skin and our ability to say, "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me".

When we get mad now, we take it to Twitter or Instagram.

In the 1970's on Biddle Road in Glen Burnie, if someone said something you didn't like, the most serious reaction they might get is not getting picked until last for the neighborhood football game in Miss Kay's front yard.

In 2016 if someone says something you don't like, you go to Human Resources and try to get them written up, where the company is likely to force the offending party to attend sensitivity training every Tuesday night from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm for six weeks.

Times have changed. Not for the better, either.

Phil Jackson was asked a question about LeBron James leaving Miami for Cleveland and happened to use the word "posse".

He didn't say "thug", "gangster", "wild man", "punk" or "outlaw".

I know what those words mean. Their definitions and connotations are easily deciphered.

But "posse"? I had no idea it was such a heinous term.

Maybe Phil Jackson didn't either.

Heck, I'm such an old-timer, I thought it was kind of "cool" to have a posse. Remember that scene in "Catch Me If You Can" when Leonardo DiCaprio is walking through the airport in his pilot's uniform, with five or six flight attendants at his side? That was his "posse", I thought.

Apparently, "posse" is on the x-list of things we no longer say in the United States.

If we're paying attention, we learn something new every day, huh?

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"people helping people" still going strong with #dmd and jerry's toyota

I was like a proud father last night at Jerry's Toyota on Belair Road in Fullerton.

When I first started this #DMD venture in 2014, one of the concepts I used as a defining element of what we hoped to do here was "people helping people".

I borrowed the phrase from a really funny scene in the movie "Wedding Crashers", truth be told, but what I wanted #DMD to become was a place where people in our community helped other people in our community.

If I, through a daily sports website, could bring those people together, all the better.

Kris Sharrar (left) of Helping Up Mission was on hand last night to accept a generous $2,000 donation from Jerry's Toyota, represented by Bill Bolander (right).

Last night at Jerry's Toyota, I was fortunate enough to see two of "my" people get together and help one another. It was like being the proud dad.

As part of their "New Owner's Celebration" last night, Jerry's kicked off their "Season of Giving" by donating $2,000 to my friends at Helping Up Mission.

Director of Philanthropy Kris Sharrar was on hand from Helping Up to accept the check from Jerry's Toyota marketing kingpin Bill Bolander, who served as the night's emcee and did a bang-up job, as did the fine folks at Silver Spring Mining Company, who provided the food and drinks.

On a side note, I got to talk hockey for 15 minutes with former Capitals forward Gary Rissling, who owns the three local Silver Spring Mining Company restaurants. That was a great thrill for me!

Jerry's Toyota is a wonderful member of our local community. Get this: In 2016, they will donate $300,000 to local non-profit groups, charities and Baltimore County-based civic organizations. There isn't an extra zero in there, friends. It's $300,000.

Whether it's a little league team that needs uniforms, the Overlea-Fullerton 4th of July fireworks display that needs a sponsor, or my friends at Helping Up Mission, Jerry's is right there to help.

They've been involved with my Calvert Hall Golf program over the last couple of years as well, for which we are extremely grateful.

And last night, they gave Helping Up Mission $2,000 to assist with their meal program at the Baltimore Street location.

Jerry's will also serve as a drop-off point for the annual "Winter Apparel Drive" that Glenn Clark and I host every November and December. We'll be out at Jerry's on December 15 with some great stuff to give away for those of you who will bring your gently used pieces of winter clothing to us, which, in turn, will be delivered to the men at Helping Up Mission on Tuesday, December 20.

"People helping people". It's what Helping Up Mission does and it's what Jerry's Toyota does, too.

Last night, Jerry's Toyota did the helping and Helping Up Mission did the receiving.

And I was the proud papa.

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four quarters of
college football

Contributed by #DMD's College Football Reporter

four quarters of college football

First Quarter: Lions – Chaos reigned last weekend with the #2, #3, and #4 teams losing, resulting in multiple scenarios where the playoff selection committee may need to decide between a two-loss conference champion and a one-loss non-champion.

As #2 Michigan lost its first real road test at Iowa, the biggest winner was Penn State. The biggest loser was Ohio State.

If Ohio State beats Michigan, the Nittany Lions capture the Big Ten East with wins over Rutgers and Michigan State (combined conference record 1-13). This would leave Ohio State on the outside of the playoffs for the second consecutive year as a one-loss team.

The Big Ten West winner is likely a two-loss Wisconsin team, which would guarantee a two-loss Big Ten champ.

Another scenario is Michigan beats Ohio State but loses to Wisconsin in the championship game. The committee would have a handful of two-loss Big Ten teams vying for the playoffs.

Second Quarter: Tigers – #3 Clemson suffered the most surprising defeat as defense-less Pittsburgh went into Death Valley and pulled off the upset. Turnovers finally doomed the Tigers, but their path to representing the ACC in the playoffs is still intact.

Clemson is in the same situation as Michigan – win out and a playoff ticket goes to them.

Louisville may be in the same situation as Ohio State – one loss, no conference title, and needing help to get their playoff ticket.

An interesting question though develops if Clemson suffers another defeat – would the committee take a one-loss Louisville over a two-loss Clemson that beat the Cardinals and played in the conference championship?

Third Quarter: Cougars – Washington was undefeated and held the fourth playoff spot for one week before being dominated at home by USC. Now the Pac 12 could produce some strange playoff bedfellows if the Huskies do not win out.

Would the committee pick a team that was defeated by a FCS team? Doubtful -- but Washington State could present that dilemma. After starting the season with two losses, the revitalized Cougars have run the table and only Washington stands in its way to the North title.

The South also has a resurgent team in the Trojans. USC has won six straight after a 1-3 start but still needs help to win the division title over two-loss Colorado or Utah.

The Pac 12 nominees for the playoffs could be even worse than the Big 12.

Fourth Quarter: Oh My – When Oklahoma lost to Houston and Ohio State in September, the Big 12 was basically written off from playoff consideration. Now the conference and the Sooners have hope due to the chaos.

Oklahoma starts their “playoff push” as they travel to third-place West Virginia, before playing second-place and in-state rival Oklahoma State in the Bedlam game to end the season. By winning both, Oklahoma is the conference champ as a two-loss team.

The Mountaineers and the Cowboys have a chance too but more issues to overcome.

If Clemson, Michigan or Washington continues to stubble, the playoffs will have a first – a two-loss team, a non-conference title winner, or even two teams from the same conference.

However it ends up, Alabama will be the #1 seed in the playoffs and cruise to their fourth title in six years.

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get that winter apparel ready for us!

For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.

November 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 16
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gutless performance at costa rica leaves u.s. men's soccer in shambles

For all of the development and glory that United States soccer has seen -- at the national team level -- over the last 25 years, it only took one clump of 90 minutes of horrendous soccer last night at Costa Rica to send everyone back to square one.

And square one is where the Americans are this morning in the wake of perhaps the worst crucial-game performance of the last four decades, a 4-0 thrashing on Tuesday evening that coulda, shoulda, woulda been more like 7-2.

The loss leaves the U.S. side at the bottom of the 6-team "Hex" standings -- tied with Trinidad, who is also 0-0-2 -- and now faced with the task of likely having to win at least five of its remaining eight games in order to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Some say losing 4-0 is just like losing 2-1, but they're wrong.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was given the dreaded "vote of confidence" after Friday's 2-1 loss at home to Mexico, but last night's 4-0 drilling by Costa Rica might change that thought now.

They're wrong when the process to that 4-0 score included some of the worst individual play we've seen from an American team since the dark ages of the 70's and 80's when the men's national team had little to no chance of qualifying for the World Cup.

Thomas Rongen, a former player and championship-winning MLS coach with D.C. United, summed it all up best on the TV broadcast with five minutes left in last night's loss at Costa Rica when he said: "If I'm being honest with you, it's been amateur hour tonight. I'm sorry to say that, but it's true."

Indeed, Coach Rongen, indeed. As I tell my high school golf team at the beginning of every season, the number one responsibility of the coach is to be honest with the players. Some think the number one task of a coach is to get the team ready to play, scout the opponent and create a game plan, recruit and secure better players, etc.

No, no, no. The number one responsibility of the coach is to be honest with the players. And if Jurgen Klinsmann still has a job today -- and it's looking more and more like the U.S. Soccer Federation has a tough call on its hands -- he can easily go around the room, privately, and deliver the gospel to a handful of performers who looked like Saturday afternoon Patterson Park'ers in Friday's 2-1 loss at Mexico and Tuesday's 4-0 fiasco at Costa Rica.

Jermaine Jones: "Sorry, Jermaine. It's over. We appreciate your service, but your legs have left you."

John Brooks: "John, the time has come, my friend. You're a good soldier, but we have to move on."

Michael Bradley: "Captain, you've been a terrific contributor to the program over the last decade, but we have to end it now."

Those are the easy ones, three decisions that stick out like a sore thumb.

There are others, too, like worker-bee Matt Besler who gives it everything he has when pressed into occasional duty, but just isn't good enough for 90 minutes.

Jozy Altidore has had more chances to shine than Nolan Reimold, but for every good game he contributes, there are three forgettable outings.

You get the picture.

The U.S. needs better players, plain and simple.

Tuesday night's drubbing in Costa Rica -- a good team and program, nothing more -- started off reasonably well, as the Americans tried to buckle down defensively and get their feet under them in a country where they had never won a World Cup qualifying game in nine tries.

There wasn't much offense from the U.S. in the opening half, but they weren't going for beauty last night, they were going for points.

Just when it looked like the first half would come to a close and neither team would score, the Americans coughed up the ball at midfield, the play quickly shifted into the U.S. defensive end, and Omar Gonzalez lollygagged his way into the corner, where his man calmly sent a cross into the box that was nodded home for a 1-0 Costa Rica lead.

As he has done time and time again, John Brooks was trailing his guy, a step behind, and the tally in the 44th minute mark could again be hung on the rugged defender, who was also victimized a handful of times on Friday night in Columbus when the U.S. lost 2-1.

Things unraveled in the second half when Costa Rica scored three times, including two goals within a few minutes apart (74' and 78') that featured horrendous individual mistakes from Brooks and Jones.

Klinsmann even participated a smidgen in the puzzling second half display when he removed the team's only solid offensive threat, Christian Pulisic, with 20 minutes left. There for a minute, I wondered if I might see Buck Showalter on the U.S. bench holding a clipboard and giving Klinsmann advice.

The 2-1 loss at the hands of Mexico on Friday night was unsettling, but only because the Americans had seemingly figured out a way to beat El Tris on American soil in World Cup qualifying, having defeated them four straight times in Columbus.

Tuesday night's 4-0 loss at Costa Rica was disastrous on a number of levels and in ways that no one expected.

Losing at Costa Rica? OK, that's not a shock. They're a decent side, for starters, and no one goes down there and plays well, for whatever reason.

Getting run out of the gym and giving up in the final twenty minutes of the game? Unheard of from the Americans, who looked a lot like the 1998 World Cup team that desperately tried to get their coach, Steve Sampson, fired after a pathetic 0-0-3 display in France.

I'm not saying the U.S. was trying to get their coach fired last night. But it sure did look like it.

That will be the big story to come out of Costa Rica. Should Klinsmann stay or go?

To me, the more pressing question -- by leaps and bounds -- isn't about the coach, but the players.

It's always easy to suggest that lineup changes need to be made, but where are the replacements coming from if those changes do occur?

One thing for sure. The roster we saw on Friday night in Columbus and Tuesday night in Costa Rica has no chance of qualifying for World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Go get a new coach if you want, but you better be ready for the same results if the players aren't going to be different on March 24 when qualifying resumes with a home game against Honduras.

Player Grades --

Brad Guzan, 6 -- Seems kind of weird to give the guy who gave up four goals a solid grade of "6", but if not for Guzan, it would have been 3-0 or 4-0 at the half.

Omar Gonzalez, 3 -- From excellent on Friday night to bush league vs. Costa Rica. Just a dreadful outing.

John Brooks, 3 -- Victimized time and time again. A brutal effort, for all the world to see.

Matt Besler, 5 -- Improved from his Friday night debacle in Columbus, but still woefully out of his element.

Timmy Chandler, 5 -- His man beat him on the second goal, but all in all he stuck with it for 90 minutes.

Michael Bradley, 4.5 -- Looked scared to death from the opening whistle, retreating as far as he could to stay out of the spotlight. It's time to move on.

Jermaine Jones, 4 -- Turned the ball over about every four minutes, it seemed. Get that cement out of his shoes, please.

Fabian Johnson, 5 -- Another nice night for Johnson, who earned the right to play in 2017 with his last two outings.

Jozy Altidore, 4 -- Nothing to show for his work. Let his man go on the 4th goal and essentially had no impact at all in the game.

Christian Pulisic, 5.5 -- Showed some life in the first half but no one would give him the ball, so what damage could he do?

Bobby Wood, 5.5 -- Like Pulisic, when given a moment to shine, he did, but never got the chance to be involved.

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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.

orioles need pitching help, but where are they getting it?

It's no secret that the Orioles need help in their starting rotation before Opening Day rolls around next year.

You know it, I know it, heck I'm pretty sure my dog just blinked "Wade Miley stinks" to me in Morse code. Dan Duquette surely knows this, too.

The string-and-rubber band group ended up with some of the worst numbers in the American League across the board, and by the season's last months was essentially an updated version of "Sphan and Sain and pray for rain," with Chris Tillman and Kevin Gausman standing in as a (very) poor man's version of the Braves' famed aces. Dylan Bundy has some room to grow, but Miley, Ubaldo Jiminez, and Yovani Gallardo are more "basket of deplorables" than Nasty Boys.

And yet, Duquette recently told local baseball scribe Dan Connolly that the team didn't anticipate making any major changes to the rotation, or going after any significant additions to the rotation. That brought out some knives on Twitter for the O's GM, but he tellingly left off the other end of the statement; because there aren't any impact pitchers available this winter.

Don't believe me? Go to MLB Trade Rumors, browse through the list of free agents, and tell me who you want to demand the team sign.

Andrew Cashner and Ivan Nova are the only two pitchers even approaching the level of impersonating an impact big league starter, and beyond that you've got a bunch of end of the rotation type arms and guys you've heard of who are either a total mess now or battling back from serious injuries. I'll even jump into Drew's territory here and give you some free betting advice: None of these guys are going to finish in the top five of Cy Young voting in either league in 2017.

That doesn't mean things can't change though. The team is signaling publicly that improved outfield defense is one of their top priorities this offseason, which will help the pitching staff a lot.

Though it wasn't necessarily the plan, last year's additions gave them a glut of corner outfielders whose defensive abilities ranged from bad to atrocious. If Hyun Soo Kim solidifies himself an everyday job in left field there's some limited ability to improve here, but some more range in right field and maybe even replacing Joey Rickard with someone who takes better routes and makes sounder plays in the field could definitely help the pitchers at the margins.

Also of note, the Orioles are somewhat quietly rearranging the approach to pitching on an organizational level.

Pitching coach Dave Wallace has already moved on to Atlanta, and yesterday it came out that organizational pitching director Rick Peterson is out of his job as well. Peterson's diminished role, in particular, could be an important harbinger of a massive change to the pitching development program, as at this point he's most notable for his religious fanatic level of opposition to the cutter, even as more and more pitchers are using it and hitters swear it's a devastating weapon.

For crying out loud, during a World Series pregame show Alex Rodriguez called it the single hardest pitch to hit and Pete Rose(!) agreed that it would have totally wrecked his approach to hitting.

I would imagine that that philosophy played at least some role in this move, and won't be surprised if the cutter starts creeping in to the Orioles staff really soon.

Gausman, in particular, could really benefit from developing one and Bundy's stuff would become near unhittable around the zone with a quality cutter.

And with so few available upgrades there to be had, it's good to see that the organization is taking a serious look at taking the development of their two young studs, and even that larger mass of really unimpressive starters, so seriously.

There won't be any big additions, but there's real, legitimate, room for some pretty big improvement from within, and the outline of a rotation that ought to be good enough to get the team back to the postseason, or at least not make the climb back to October an insurmountable one.

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get that winter apparel ready for us!

For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.

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