Matt Kuchar said it himself on Tuesday when the story broke about the veteran PGA Tour player "only" giving a fill-in caddie $5,000 after Kuchar won the Mayakoba Classic and $1.2 million in Mexico last November.
"I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over this," Kuchar stated.
Fair enough. It's your money. And your reputation. And, well, your sleep.
The money that Kuchar promised his temporary looper, a local named David Ortiz, was initially thought to be $3,000. That's actually more than most players would pay a fill-in bag carrier for one week's worth of work. That turned out not to be the issue, though.
When Kuchar won the tournament and the $1.2 million, Ortiz expected a nice bonus. If you close your eyes and channel your inner Carl Spackler from the great movie Caddyshack, you can almost hear Ortiz now: "How about a little something...you know...for the effort?"
Kuchar did give Ortiz "something" more. Another $2,000.
That brought Ortiz's take for the week to $5,000, good work if you can get it, but far short of what most reasonable folks would think a fair commission would be on a $1.2 million sale.
For those wondering -- and this does matter -- Kuchar would have given his regular caddie 10% of the winning amount, or roughly $100,000. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. "How do I become a caddie on the PGA Tour?" Right? Right.
But rather than fork over 10% to Ortiz, the temp, Kuchar instead gave him $5,000 in cash and said, "Well done. See you around."
And then the story broke. And it hasn't stopped simmering since.
With this week's admission from Kuchar that he did, in fact, only give the Mexican caddie $5,000, the talk shows and national TV talking heads have roasted the golfer. And roasted him some more. "If you ordered your Kuchar steak well done, it's ready for you, sir."
But is all the vitriol fair?
Kuchar, his defenders will point out, made a deal with the caddie on Monday of tournament week. It was $3,000 to carry the bag. That the golfer forked over another $2,000 after winning was a generous move he didn't necessarily have to make.
That's what Kuchar essentially says, too.
Mixed in the story is the mention of another $15,000 that was offered to Ortiz in the aftermath, but for reasons no one has yet explained or figured out, the caddie turned down that additional lump sum.
In the end, Ortiz got $5,000 and was miffed. The story got back to a couple of veteran PGA Tour players, they ratted Kuchar out on social media, and here we are today.
Cheap, rich athlete?
Or fair, generous athlete?
That's a tough one. Winning $1.2 million (granted, the player gets about $760,000 of that after taxes, according to reports) and then giving the sales guy $5,000 of it seems really shabby. I get it. It's easy to spend someone else's money, but we're not really talking specifically about money here. We're talking more about doing what's right.
Here's a scenario I explained to a friend on Thursday and it turned him from pro-Kuchar to anti-Kuchar, even though that really wasn't what I was trying to do. Consider this story for a moment.
You and your wife go to the same high dollar steak house every other Friday for dinner. It's become a ritual of sorts. After years of going in, you established a rapport with a server of your preference, an older gentleman named Carlton. When you make your reservations every other Tuesday for the Friday night dinner, you always mention to the voice on the other end of the phone that you'd like to have Carlton serve you on Friday night.
Your standard tip for Carlton is 30% of the bill, even including the modestly priced $70 bottle of wine you and your wife share over dinner. The bill is almost predictable every time you go. It comes to $180 for your steak, her baked chicken breast, the wine and a couple of side dishes that you both share.
You look at the bill, see the $180.43 total, add the standard $54.00 for Carlton, and off you go. Carlton is pleased to see you, he mentions, and looks forward to your visit in two weeks time.
Two weeks later when you call for your reservation, the voice on the other end explains that Carlton had to leave town to visit his ailing sister in Chicago. He won't be back for another five days. But you'll have a great server on Friday, the voice assures you. "Kenneth" will be serving you and he won't miss a beat.
It turns out all of that was true. Kenneth was great and he didn't miss a beat. Your wife even remarked how pleasant he was and how impressive it is that the restaurant stocks "professional" servers who really understand the nuances of food service. Kenneth was every bit the server of Carlton, for sure.
The bill, as always, comes in almost at $180. This time, though, you and your wife shared a delicious blueberry tart with warm ice cream and you had one after dinner drink that actually hiked the bill to 198.52. A little higher than usual, but well worth it.
When the time came to attend to the bill, though, you decided on that night to only tip Kenneth 15% instead of 30%. Rather than leaving roughly $60.00, like you would have for Carlton, you leave $30.00 for Kenneth. "Tipping on the wine is kind of silly," you reason with yourself as you write down $30.00 next to the "tip amount" line.
So, are you cheap?
Or was it fair to give Kenneth the standard 15% when you would have provided Carlton with double that on any other Friday night?
Was it right to give the "fill in" guy half of what you would normally tip your regular server?
I don't have the answer, by the way.
We get into these conversations about other people's money at our own peril. It seems to me the reasonable thing for Kuchar to have done would have been to give Ortiz $50,000 for his services for the week. That would have been a fair reward, for sure.
But I've never made $46 million to see just how generous I might be with it.
I tend to use the "sports fairy" angle when I'm trying to figure these things out. If the sports fairy would have landed on Kuchar's shoulder on Tuesday of tournament week down in Mexico and said to him, "Look, I've seen one of the scripts for this week. If you're willing to give your temporary Mexican caddie $50,000 on Sunday night, I can guarantee you'll win the golf tournament," would Kuchar have signed up for that? My guess, especially after going winless for four years, is he would have taken that deal in a heartbeat.
Shell out $50,000 in exchange for bringing in $1.2 million? Even a Flyers fan could figure out that's a deal worth taking.
Yes, Ortiz agreed to $3,000 at the beginning of the week.
Sure, in most circles -- unless you're Antonio Brown -- a deal is a deal is a deal.
But when you've won $46 million in your life on the golf course and raked in another Lord-knows-how-much from WorkDay, Skechers and Bridgestone ($10 million, at least?), wouldn't it be kind of easy to just hand the sales guy $50,000 for that $1.2 million job he just sold for the company?
In closing, here's the one thing I haven't heard anyone discuss and it's at least worth mentioning. Did Ortiz do a good job? Was he a solid caddie? It's not nearly as easy as you think. In fact, when someone like me writes "bag carrier" to describe a caddie, it's a massive disservice to the job as a whole.
If Ortiz gave Kuchar some bad information (he was, after all, mostly hired because of his famililarity with the course) over the four days or wasn't able to read a few tricky putts, I could see Kuchar thinking to himself, "No way this guy deserves anything out of the ordinary this week. He gets his $3,000 and that's that."
But I haven't heard or seen anyone write or comment about that topic, so I'm assuming Kuchar got along well with Ortiz and was happy with his work over that week in Mexico.
It's also worth mentioning that in the high-stakes world of the PGA Tour, a player can win $50,000 or lose $50,000 with one roll of the golf ball. And sometimes, it's not even your golf ball that's involved.
Fifty grand to you...and me...and everyone else reading this is a lot of money. It's not something we casually mention.
But when you're tied for 7th on the TOUR with two holes to go and the two players in front of you both miss six foot par putts at the 18th hole, you go from winning $135,000 to $185,000 -- just like that.
Fifty thousand bucks to a guy like Kuchar really is play money. He's made more meaningless $50,000 putts than you and I have made right turns on red in our lives.
So in the end, we're left to wonder.
Is Kuchar cheap?
Or a good guy misunderstood?
One thing we know for sure, because he told us: He didn't lose any sleep over tipping his server less than 1% of the bill.
This one should be fun.
After a couple of "Mount Rushmore" projects that included national athletes and local sports moments, we're going to shift gears around here next week.
We're going from on the field to off the field.
In the wake of O's broadcaster Joe Angel suddenly (and curiously) announcing his retirement from the radio booth earlier this week, I think it's time to take a long look at the Baltimore sports media.
Next week starts a lengthy deep dive into the world of Baltimore sportswriters, TV sportscasters, sports radio hosts and play-by-play callers and analysts.
It might take us all of March, but we're going to honor some people who have been in your living room, your radio and, these days, on your computer, over the last 50 years.
Next week's topic is a good one.
Let's create the "Mount Rushmore" of Baltimore TV sportscasters. You know, those men and women who have brought sports into your living room from either TV Hill (Channels 11, 13 and 45) or York Road (Channel 2) since 1970.
It's not going to be easy. There are a lot of people to consider and only four can make the final list.
I'll see you on Monday.
this weekend in
Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
Hard to believe, with snow on the ground in mid-February, but the NCAA men's lacrosse season is well underway.
As I always note, February lacrosse is often of poor quality as teams have had only a few weeks of preseason practice (usually indoors) along with a few scrimmages. Teams are still figuring themselves against their first real opponents and will probably look very different come May.
Case in point: last week's High Point defeat of Duke 13-9. Nothing against High Point, who earned a quality win against Duke. However, chances are that come mid-May during the NCAA tournament, Duke will most likely be an at-large pick hosting a 1st round playoff game while High Point may very well be watching the tournament on TV.
But there are some intriguing early non-conference match ups that will have an impact on teams' tournament resumes. And none more intriguing than the battle of Charles Street, which resumes tomorrow with #2 Loyola taking on #17 Johns Hopkins. #7 Towson has taken the early lead in the scrap for local bragging rights after beating then #7 Johns Hopkins last Saturday, 17-8, while Loyola took down then #6 Virginia, 17-9.
One would think the Blue Jays are in for another long afternoon versus the Greyhounds after week one. But let's take a deeper look at last week's contests to see if it can give us some perspective on this Saturday's contest.
Blue Jays Run Over: I had the pleasure (yes, admittedly a proud Tiger alum) of watching Towson take down Hopkins last Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium. The contest started out pretty evenly matched with Hopkins getting some better shots than Towson and taking a 4-2 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. However, the Tigers stepped up the intensity and challenged Hopkins all over the field, which resulted in a 9-0 run before the Blue Jays found then net again in the 3rd quarter.
Towson beat Hopkins on the game's ultimate hustle stat, ground balls, by a margin of 43-18. A lot of that was domination at the face-off X by Alex Woodall, who claimed 21 of 28 draws. But Towson's defense forced 11 turnovers. In addition, Towson uncharacteristically played fast on offense including several transition goals in which Tiger defenders tallied twice and chipped in an assist.
Hopkins has had trouble with run-n-gun teams in recent years and Towson's switch to this style of play clearly paid off. Towson also was able to generate 50 shots to Hopkins 34. In a word, the Tigers dominated.
Greyhounds 'Saved': A 17 to 9 win over Virginia seems like another game in which one team dominated the other all around. However, this was just not the case. The Cavaliers out-shot the Greyhounds 45-40 and put more shots on the goal at 27-25. The Greyhounds even turned the ball over 9 more times than the Cavaliers -- 22-13 -- mostly due to their dreadful performance at clearing the ball, going 15-23. Even the face-offs were almost dead even with Loyola winning 15 of 28.
What decided this game was goalie play. Namely the stellar play of Loyola's Jacob Stover, who made 18 saves (66.7%). And on the other side, Virginia's goalkeeping was abysmal, with Cavalier netminders only making 8 saves on the day. However, it also helps having Tewaarton candidate attackman Pat Spencer leading the way on offense with 5 goals and 2 assists.
So, what's going to decide Saturday's game against Johns Hopkins?
Prediction: As noted, I prefer to work with a few more games of statistics before making final game predictions. However, I think there are some things from both teams' first games to help us make a decision. First and foremost, the score of this game will be much closer than the previous scores would lead us to believe. Loyola's Bailey Savio is nowhere near the quality of Towson's Alex Woodall on face offs. And Loyola's poor clearing is the exact opposite of Towson's defensive transition game. Those two factors alone gives Hopkins more than a puncher's chance at a win.
However, it was the trouble that Hopkins' defense had with Towson attackmen Brendan Sunday (6 goals, 2 assists) and Brody McLean (3 goals) that concerns me, as Loyola's attack arguably has more talent with Spencer, Aidan Olmstead and Kevin Lindley. Hopkins' offense, previously known for holding the ball for two or three minutes at a time, clearly had trouble adjusting to the new 80 second shot clock. Hopkins won't be facing that tough of a defense this week, but they will be facing an outstanding goalie in Jacob Stover, who could be one of the nation's best between the pipes.
The Blue Jays should be playing a little more 'inspired' after getting running out of the gym by their kid brother up the street last week, plus this one serves as their home opener at Homewood.
However, Loyola is #2 for a reason. Even if early season rankings are a bit off, Loyola's firepower on attack and an almost impenetrable wall in the cage will make the Greyhounds a bit too formidable for the Blue Jays. Hopkins will make this game interesting, but I see Loyola winning, 13-10.
Those are probably the only two options in Baltimore these days when it comes to chronicling your opinion on the departure of Joe Flacco.
You're either in the popular camp that says "good riddance!" or you're in the other group, the one that still contends to this very day that Flacco was better than his detractors thought.
It's not going to end anytime soon, either, this odd, almost perverted stalking of Flacco. For even next season, his every move in Denver will be evaluated by Baltimore football fans. Every interception will be met with "I told you so", as will every touchdown throw.
If you think you're tired of hearing people bellyache about Flacco now, just wait until next September. He'll generate more social media reaction as a Bronco than he did as a Raven. In Baltimore, that is.
The reality about Flacco is this: His first five years in the league, he looked like a diamond-in-the-rough. Over his last five seasons, he more closely resembled a cubic zirconia.
He was good. Then he was great. Then he regressed. Then he stunk. And as of yesterday, he's gone.
There will always be a group of folks who point to the "Mile High Miracle" and use that as their weapon both for and against Flacco and his glorious Super Bowl run in the 2013 post-season. "Mr. Clutch," some will say. On the other hand, "Lucky", they call Flacco, even now.
Flacco's critics often use the Super Bowl run as the only decent thing he ever did. "He won a Super Bowl for us. Once. That's nice. But what else?"
And then there's the batch of people -- those who support Joe and his play -- who will remind anyone who will listen that in his 11 seasons in Baltimore, the Ravens left Flacco on his own, with barely any offensive help to speak of, particularly in what we commonly refer to as "playmakers".
Everyone's right, by the way.
That throw in Denver? It was lucky. Sure, Flacco has a huge arm -- or at least he did back then. But if that play gets mythically mulligan'd 20 more times, guess how often Jacoby Jones catches that pass and runs into the end zone for a touchdown? Once.
It was lucky, for sure. But that doesn't explain what Joe did in the three other playoff games that season. He wasn't lucky in those. He was friggin' spot on.
But it's people's nature to focus on the one thing that most blends in with their agenda. And for anyone who thinks Flacco wasn't all that good in the first place, they'll always blame Rahim Moore for misplaying that fateful throw with 35 seconds left in Denver.
There's this, though: Other than a Derrick Mason in the November of his career and an Anquan Boldin who played over his head in the 2013 post-season, the Ravens never had any wide receivers really worth a hoot from 2008 through 2018. They've had a couple of terrific tight ends in Baltimore during the Flacco tenure -- Heap and Pitta -- and they got a few good years out of Ray Rice, but all in all, the Baltimore offense was never feared when Joe Flacco was at the helm.
Truth of the matter: Flacco was probably the best offensive player on the roster in most of his 11 seasons. And that's either a testament to his ability or the Ravens' woeful draft record when it comes to offensive selections.
Joe Flacco was a lot like the opera. He was better than you thought. He had to be.
But it must be said that the stats, particularly over the last few years, showed something different. If you're a believer in all of the fancy-schmancy quarterback data that's churned out every week, Flacco was near the bottom of qualifying QB's in virtually every department in 2017 and 2018, until he got injured in week nine last season.
You're either a numbers-believer or you're not. If you subscribe to the fact that computers and the data they spit out don't lie, then Flacco was pretty much a bum in his final two seasons in Charm City. Not a bum as a husband, father, son or brother. But a bum as a quarterback. His skills dropped off greatly.
But I don't think we've seen the last of Joe Flacco. I assume he'll go to Denver and win a few games for the Broncos. He might even beat the Chiefs in Kansas City once...or the Chargers in Los Angeles, perhaps. My guess is Joe Flacco will win a game of importance at some point in his run with the Broncos.
Overall, though, I think Joe's best days are behind him, for sure. And when the dust settles on his NFL career, whenever that might be, he'll have over $150 million in career earnings and a Super Bowl ring and MVP award that can never be taken from him.
Joe Flacco played better and did more than anyone reading this right now thought possible back in April of 2008 when the Ravens picked him in the first round of the NFL Draft.
And that's a fact...
Baltimore owes Joe Flacco a massive "thank you".
That he was Wally Pipp'd by Mr. Fumble Fingers shouldn't take away from what Joe accomplished here over 11 seasons.
All good things come to an end, remember.
For Flacco, what was once good in Baltimore might somehow carry over to Denver for a few years.
And if it does, I'd be perfectly fine with it.
I'd be happy for him, in fact.
"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld
|DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.|
In the News This Past Week…
Bob Costas was in the news this past week when he revealed that NBC took him off the coverage of Super Bowl LII because of his critical observations about the NFL—particularly the relationship between football and brain injury—as well as other on-air commentary ranging from musings about the Redskins’ name to the national anthem controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick.
The fact that the 66-year-old Costas “went public” with his side of the story is surprising. NBC certainly isn’t happy about it, suggesting that private conversations ought to remain private. Having recently left NBC after a 40-year career at the network, Costas obviously felt less reticent about having the conversation with ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
We all know that the NFL likes to refer to Fox, NBC, CBS and ESPN as its “broadcast partners,” indicating that it would prefer that the networks fall in with the company line. Costas, however, brought up something even more interesting than that in his recent interview.
“It’s one of the few relationships where the buyer must continually flatter the seller,” he said. “We deliver the billion dollars in an armored truck, but we hope we didn’t offend you by sending it over in incorrect denominations. And if we did, we’ll immediately correct that oversight and come over and wash your car as well.”
It is a fascinating dilemma. TV pays billions of dollars; in return, it gets to control so much of how the game is presented. Football on television has revolutionized sports broadcasting, with innovations like first-down line technology, and has even changed the administration of the rules, with its technology allowing replay to take such a large role in the game.
The NFL, however, doesn’t see the money or the technological advances or anything else that way. To use Costas’s terminology, the league actually sees itself as the buyer, not the seller. And they aren’t interested in flattering the other side at all.
The funniest thing? The viewing public is on the NFL’s side. They’d much prefer that Costas, or any other commentator, spend no time discussing anything besides football. They recognize the NFL as the seller, but they also believe the seller has a lot of leeway to determine how it should be presented.
It’s similar to The Masters, albeit over months and not four days. Costas has the right to his opinions, but the people that paid him have the right to not be happy with his opinions. And until further notice, the public is on the employer’s side here.
Antonio Brown was in the news this past week when the Steelers wide receiver revealed (kind of?) that he officially wants out of Pittsburgh.
Because it’s 2019, the “news” came out on Instagram, where Brown posted a highlight reel of his greatest hits and thanked “SteelerNation” for nine big years, but that it “was time to move on and move forward.”
Brown’s social media career has been the source of some friction, you may remember. His Facebook Live post of Mike Tomlin’s postgame speech a few years back wasn’t exactly looked upon favorably by Tomlin, or anybody else. In retrospect, it’s really funny. Was the Facebook reveal going to alter the outcome of anything the next week? But it also might have been the beginning of the end for Brown in Pittsburgh.
Brown’s last six seasons for the Steelers must be among the best stretches of similar length for a receiver in league history. He caught more than 100 balls each year. He scored at least 10 touchdowns in four of those six years, including 15 this year. In several of those years he averaged more than 100 receiving yards per game.
The Steelers have put the ball in Ben Roethlisberger’s hands in recent years. His passing numbers, and Pittsburgh’s reliance on the pass, have been off the charts. A big part of the reason they’ve been able to play that way is Antonio Brown.
Still, without being privy to the source of this story beyond Brown’s Instagram post, I don’t see how the Steelers don’t get rid of him in the offseason. I mean…by his actions during the week, he basically just decided he wasn’t going to play in his team’s last game this year, right? And did you notice how close both his team and the Ravens came to losing their respective games?
Off the subject of Brown specifically, and not in any way as a Steelers hater, the fact that Pittsburgh missed the playoffs in 2018 is astonishing. They were 7-2-1. The Ravens had moved on to Lamar Jackson. The Bengals were in complete freefall. The Browns were not really a legitimate threat.
The game can work in strange ways, however. Roethlisberger was intercepted by a defensive lineman on a lucky play near the goal line in Denver. Chris Boswell slipped on Oakland’s lousy field. Lamar Jackson, who didn’t start either game against the Steelers, became Pittsburgh’s biggest nightmare.
And now the stud wide receiver is out the door. The way the world works, that’ll probably be the best thing to ever happen to the Steelers.
Zack (formerly Zach) Britton was in the news this past week when he announced to the press that, going forward for the Yankees, he would be Zack, not Zach.
It turns out that he really should be Zack, since his California birth certificate lists his name as Zackary, and thus his voter registrations and auto registrations have also used his legal name.
For some reason, even though the Orioles always used the correct spelling on any legal documents (a.k.a. contracts), their roster spelling of Britton’s name was always Zach. Perhaps that came from the fact his name was (wrongly) spelled Zachary by Major League Baseball when he was drafted in the third round in 2006.
Anyway, Britton says his parents told him it should be an “h.” Does that mean they should have done it that way at birth and made a mistake? I’m confused…
If he had gone by Zack instead of Zach back in 2016, would Buck Showalter have brought him into the Wild Card playoff game in Toronto? We’ll never know…
In 2007, I traveled with the Princeton basketball team to a tournament in Hawaii. Our starting center was a quiet, talented kid from South Dakota named Zach Finley. Zachary, to use his full name, which nobody ever did.
As always happens before the game, the arena public address announcer came over to check pronunciations. I don’t know if it was because he was Hawaiian, or for some other reason, but when he got to Finley’s name he pronounced it like “catch.” As in “Zatch.”
I corrected him then, and I remember having to correct him again during one of our games when he again said “Zatch.” To me, it seemed obvious to pronounce Zach the same as Zack. If the name had been spelled out in full, would he have said “Zatchary?”
In retrospect, though, English is a strange language, and it can get even stranger when you use an abbreviated version of a name. If you want somebody to be called Zack, with a hard “k,” then why would you spell it Zach? Especially if you don’t actually have an “h” in your name!
According to my research, Zach (not Zack) Finley, who graduated from Princeton in 2010, is now an orthopedic surgeon in New Orleans and a professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine, where he also received his M.D. If you’re interested in having a 6-foot-10 orthopedic surgeon, look him up and tell him that I sent you.
If George and I were playing CYO basketball instead of picking golfers, I'd have to stop running a fast-break offense and defend from behind my own 3-point arc. Heck, my team might even have to take one player off the floor.
I'm now ahead 251-73 after Graeme McDowell earned me 52 points with his T18 finish at Pebble Beach last week. Jimmy Walker stunk it up out there, missing the cut. Somewhere, I think I heard George say, "Walker couldn't break 80 at Mount Pleasant..."
I had to go back to the drawing board this week at the Genesis Open. My initial pick, Jason Day, is not in the field, necessitating yet another "alternate" for my team. I'm running out of those, actually. George has me down for just two uses of an alternate selection, but it's actually three, because I'm counting my McDowell-Cantlay-McDowell selection last week as the use of an alternate pick after Cantlay withdrew on Wednesday and George graciously allowed me to use the guy I picked in the first place (McDowell).
At some point, I'm sure, I'll have to enter a tournament with a player who isn't in the field that week. I'll probably still wind up getting a point or two more than my friend in North Carolina.
So for this week, I'm going with Kevin Na, otherwise known as golf's version of The Human Rain Delay. There's slow. There's slower. And then there's Na. There have been cartons of milk that have turned sour in the amount of time it takes Na to play 18 holes.
This week, though, I don't care about his pace of play. I just care that he plays well. He has a terrific track record at Riveria Country Club, which is why I'm using him this week. I could go with one of the big boys, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Tiger, even, but I have a hunch that Na is going to post something in the top 10 at the very least. And that's good enough for me.
In the space below, we usually hear from George. He'll chime in with his wisdom about letting me get out to an early lead because he feels sorry for me. Or he'll admonish me for counting my chickens before they hatch.
This week when I asked George to submit something, you know what he said in response?
Quick, name the Orioles starting shortstop this season.
Don't feel bad about not knowing his name. The Orioles themselves don't know who it is, either.
There are a few players you'll remember by the time opening day rolls around in late March. Trey Mancini is still on the team. For now, at least. So, too, is Mark Trumbo.
Chris Davis is still around, but mostly because his contract says he has to be. If the Orioles could find someone to take him, they'd most certainly peddle the strikeout king.
There are a couple of other recognizable names -- like Miguel Castro and Dylan Bundy -- but by the the time the vans head north in late March, my guess is 12 of the 25 names will be of the "who's that?" variety.
By now, you're aware of what's going on in Baltimore. It's officially a "rebuilding project", with Mike Elias overseeing the whole thing as the team's new general manager and Brandon Hyde trying to somehow keep the players motivated in what will almost certainly be another 100-loss campaign.
But here's the question: If the Orioles don't sign any players and essentially go into the season with designs on intentionally losing, will you be OK with that? The fancy term these days is, of course, "tanking". The fruit at the end of that (non) labor would be an attractive drafting position in the summer of 2020, which comes one year after having the #1 overall pick this June 3rd.
I can't imagine anyone will actually admit to tanking. Elias will use other buzzwords to deflect the fact that the team would rather lose 110 than win 70. He'll call it "eye opening" and "frustrating" and a "hard lesson", which is all code word for: We know we're going to stink and we're actually OK with it but we can't admit that to our fans.
Hyde keeps repeating the same phrase over and over. "We're going to compete." I believe he wants to compete. And I believe he plans on driving the players hard in an effort to be respectable. But Hyde knows what everyone else knows. This projected Orioles roster has zero chance of doing anything except losing five games a week for six months.
And while neither Elias or Hyde would openly show joy at the prospect of going 52-110, it seems like the natural "first step" for both of them in Baltimore. And let's be honest. Will anyone in Charm City really care all that much if the team wins 52 or 72 games?
The issue, I think, is the whole idea of "intentionally" losing.
Last season was awful. It was, in a word, embarrassing. But Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter didn't put the team together last January, February and March thinking or knowing in advance they were going to win 47 baseball games in the 2018 season.
It unraveled quickly, for sure. And it was a disaster from start to finish. But it wasn't "intentional". The whole mess actually cost both Duquette and Buck their jobs in Baltimore. They expected to win. And didn't.
Elias and Hyde have the luxury of losing this season and getting little to no grief for it. Neither of them like to lose, of course, but they both know it's inevitable with this crew of misfits they'll trot out there starting in late March.
But are the fans OK with it?
What will the average attendance be? Will people watch the games on TV? Listen to them on the radio? Will Baltimore baseball fans care about the 2019 Orioles or will they just save their money for football season?
I don't know what the community will do. I bought my 13-game plan again, but I did that mainly because my son and I love to go to the games, catch a baseball or two during batting practice, and sit outside on a warm summer night.
We probably wouldn't go to any more games if the team was suddenly decent in September and had a chance to finish .500 or something unforeseen like that. We went to eight or nine games last season and I can honestly say I don't remember if the Orioles won any of them except for their opening day triumph over the Twins.
I remember driving home that day and thinking, "You know...this team might be pretty decent this season." But anyway.
Even during the team's Decade of Despair and their 14 straight years of missing the playoffs, there was always a thought that "Maybe this season will be the one where things come together."
Nothing's "coming together" this season. We know that. We're ready for it.
But will the baseball community care about the team losing while the team doesn't care about winning?
We'll know in a couple of months.
When I first started thinking about this last week, I had to work hard to decide on the final two "moments" of the last 50 years.
The first two, Cal's 2131 game and the Orioles and Earl Weaver being honored after the 1982 regular season finale at Memorial Stadium, came to me rather easily. I don't know that we'll ever see two moments like those again here in Baltimore.
The other two didn't immediately strike me. But as I thought about what we've seen in Baltimore since 1970, it became apparent they belonged on the list.
The Orioles have suffered a number of staggering home playoff losses, including losing Game 7 at home -- to the Pirates -- in both the 1971 and 1979 World Series. They lost the 1997 ALCS to the Indians in six games, with the elimination game coming at Camden Yards. It's one thing to lose in the playoffs. It's another to get ousted in your own ballpark. It stinks.
And that's why Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS and Delmon Young's 8th inning double that gave the O's a 7-6 win makes the list of Baltimore's top four greatest sports moments. For once, the good guys rocked the stadium at home and treated their faithful fans to an explosive moment that rocked the stadium. With the Birds trailing, 6-4, in the bottom of the eighth, Young came up to pinch hit with the bases loaded. Everyone who was there that day and had reason to offer a comparison said Camden Yards, in that moment when Young delivered the 3-run double, has never been more loud. The O's held on to win the game, 7-6, then eliminated the Tigers two days later in Detroit.
November 6, 1995. The wait for football in Baltimore comes to an end. Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, stepped up to a podium in a Camden Yards parking lot and confirmed what many in Charm City thought they'd never hear. "Baltimore. You have a football team again." That the team had no name or colors at that point didn't seem to matter. That Baltimore, once left with no team after Indianapolis came along and stole the Colts, had to steal the Browns from Cleveland didn't seem to faze anyone. Football was back. After 12 years, Baltimore was in the NFL once again. With one announcement, the city was alive once more.
dale williams aims
|DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.|
The Maryland Terrapins picked up a big win last night, defeating the 12th ranked Purdue Boilermakers 70-56 at the XFINITY Center. The second half offensive show by the Terp freshmen, who at one point scored 21 straight points for Maryland, proved to be the difference.
After being down by 8 after the first 20 minutes, Maryland outscored Purdue 40-18 in the second half.
Jalen Smith came alive after the intermission, going 6 for 8 from the field to lead the Terps with 16 points for the game.
Eric Ayala had 15 points and Aaron Wiggins pitched in with 11, many of which were key momentum sustaining shots. Maryland was greatly helped by a Purdue team that couldn’t buy a bucket in the second half, going just 6 of 36 from the field, including a mind-numbing 1 for 16 from the three-point line.
The first half belonged to Purdue’s star, Carsen Edwards, who scored 17 points while the Boilermakers built a 38-30 lead at the break. Although Edwards hit just 6 of 14 shots and was 2 for 8 from the three-point line, teammate Ryan Cline was a perfect 3 for 3 from behind the arc while producing 9 points for the visitors in the opening 20 minutes.
The aforementioned Smith had a miserable first half, making just 1 of 7 attempts from the field, gathering just one rebound, and fumbling several balls around the basket. His inability to finish inside, again, hurt Maryland in the first 20 minutes.
Also hurting the Terps in the first 20 minutes were seven first-half turnovers, four of which came from Anthony Cowan.
Bruno Fernando had a real hard time finding room to maneuver in the first half. Just like they did in their first match, Purdue elected to double team Fernando whenever he touched the ball. The result was a half in which Fernando had just one field goal attempt (a lob pass dunk) while his teammates launched a lot of threes.
15 of Maryland’s 27 first half shots were three point tries. Only five connected. The best news from the half for Maryland was that all three of Purdue’s big men collected two fouls and the deficit was only eight at the intermission.
Purdue came out flat and cold in the second half. It was a trend that would hold up for the remainder of the game.
Maryland tied the game at 40-all on a Smith dunk off of a Fernando feed with 15:53 remaining in the game. Purdue would regain the lead and push it to six when Edwards knocked down a triple at the 12:41 mark. From that point on the Terps outscored Purdue 28-8.
Wiggins, Ayala, and Smith produced enough scoring to allow Maryland to capture, and gradually extend the lead, and Purdue did their part by missing almost every shot they attempted from that point on. Here’s a staggering note: Purdue, the 12th ranked team in the nation, made only 3 shots, all lay-ups, in the final 12:40 of the game.
I’ll give Maryland the hard-earned respect they deserve. Yes, Purdue missed shots, but the Terp defense was much better executing their switches in the second half. It forced Purdue to rush their offense a bit and take some low percentage shots.
Also, the Terps shut down the Purdue transition game in the second half. After giving up 14 fast break points in the opening 20 minutes, the Boilermakers were only able to get 2 in the final 20 minutes.
The second half shooting woes for Purdue helped offset a dismal differential in the offensive rebounding stats for Maryland. In fact, a 17-4 advantage for Purdue in offensive rebounds, combined with an 11-4 turnover difference, produced a game where Purdue was able to attempt 71 shots...19 more than Maryland.
Usually when I see that large a disparity in shots attempted, I’ll look for the foul shots taken as a reason. Not in this game. Maryland went to the line 15 times compared to 14 for the Boilermakers. Another wild stat you won’t see repeated very often in Big 10 basketball: Purdue missed one less shot (51) than the Terps attempted in the game (52).
Last night was a huge win for coach Mark Turgeon’s program. They got outstanding production from their ever-improving freshmen and played smart and inspired second half defense against a team that ran out of gas in the final 15 minutes.
They showed some real desire and seemed to want this game more than their opponent. It was an excellent tune-up for their tussle with #6 ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor at noon on Saturday.
The Cleveland Browns scrubbed any collusion discussion connected to Kareem Hunt with yesterday's signing of the former Kansas City Chiefs running back.
And here, we thought NFL teams were conspiring to keep people out of the league.
Hunt will most certainly be suspended for a significant portion of the 2019 season after his December dismissal by the Chiefs, who released him in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident from February, 2018 that was caught on a hotel video camera.
It stands to reason that Hunt might get suspended for six games and plea that down to four. Either way, he won't be able to play for the Browns on opening day next September, that's for sure.
But the Browns might have made themselves the AFC North favorite with yesterday's signing. Games aren't played on paper, of course, but adding the multi-dimensional Hunt to an improving offense isn't going to hurt Cleveland's chances at making the post-season in 2019. They finished 7-8-1 this past season, remember.
Did the Ravens make a mistake in not pursuing Hunt for themselves?
Before we tackle the question, let's at least admit this. The Ravens could most certainly use a player of Hunt's caliber and quality. Talking purely about his football skillset, there's no denying he's potentially a game-changing player.
Now, let's talk about reality. Hunt's also a young man who viciously struck a female in a Cleveland hotel a year ago. And that incident will stay with him this year, next year and, most likely, throughout the remainder of his NFL career.
But other NFL players have been guilty of domestic violence, served a league-issued suspension, and returned to the league. It's not like Hunt has entered new territory by getting signed by the Browns. Cleveland's certainly not the first team to sign a player who was previously involved with a domestic violence issue.
So...again...should the Ravens have been "in" on Kareem Hunt?
This is where I should give you my opinion, I suppose. My answer to the question above is "no", but I'm eager to hear from others, including those who might oppose my line of thinking.
Maybe the Ravens should have been interested in Hunt. Someone with a better eye for football tactics than me could give you the reasons why adding Hunt to the roster would have been a smart move.
I wouldn't have done it, but I can't say I would have been overly surprised if the Ravens, had, in fact, signed Hunt. They want to win, after all. Signing Hunt might have helped them win more.
But there's this pesky little bug on the Ravens shoulder and it's called "The Ray Rice case". During their months of damage control following Rice's dismissal from the team, the Ravens obligated themselves to a cleaner lifestyle in the future. They said, if memory serves me right, that they'd no longer draft players with domestic violence in their past.
"Drafting a player" and "signing a free agent" are two different things, some would say. And on the surface, that's true. But, really, what's the difference? If a 22-year old college senior hit a woman when he was 20, how is he any more or less employable than a 29-year old, six year veteran who is charged with domestic violence and becomes a free agent thereafter?
I have no way of knowing what sort of pushback the Ravens would have received if, in fact, they would have signed Kareem Hunt. I assume they're especially sensitive to fan discontent these days in the wake of the London kneeling incident, but Hunt would have helped them do the one thing the organization believes will help fill the stands again: win football games.
We don't have to worry about it, obviously, but it's certainly worth wondering how the local community would have reacted had the Ravens been the team to give Hunt his second chance.
My position on Hunt, specifically, is really no different than the one I have with respect to Colin Kaepernick. I see nothing wrong with anyone receiving a second opportunity to make good on a bad mistake, and that includes Hunt. But I wouldn't hire either one of them for my organization. If someone else in the league signs them, that's perfectly fine. But my team wouldn't.
That said, I don't own the Ravens. I'm just a fan. And while I assumed all along Kareem Hunt would play again in the NFL, I'm glad it won't be with the Ravens.
Yesterday here at #DMD, I provided my own personal four best moments in Baltimore sports history...the ones in which I was fortunate enough to be in attendance for and witness myself.
Today, I'll start the process of taking a crack at what I think are the four best moments of the last 50 years that took place in our great city.
My personal four and "the real four" are not at all the same, unfortunately. In other words, I wasn't personally there to witness any of the four, but there's no doubt in my mind they shaped the landscape of Baltimore sports, 1970-2019.
In no order, I give you the first two today and the second two tomorrow. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.
Cal's 2131 game -- On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. played in his 2131'st consecutive game, breaking the previous all-time record held by Lou Gehrig. Ripken homered in that game, a 4th inning blast that put the Birds ahead, 3-1. Anyone who was there that night not only witnessed one of the greatest moments in Baltimore sports history, they were witness to an occasion in sports history that might very well never again be repeated. The game was delayed for 22 minutes while Ripken accepted congratulations from both the Orioles and the visiting Angels. He also took a trot around the perimeter of the stadium to accept handshakes and high fives from fans seated near the field.
O's fall to Brewers on final day of '82 season -- In what seemingly was just a matter of showing up and collecting the ransom money, the Orioles faced the Milwaukee Brewers on the final day of the regular season, October 3, 1982, needing a win to capture the American League East and move on to the ALCS. The O's were three games behind with four to play when Milwaukee arrived to town for that final series, but the Birds won the first three games by a combined score of 26-7 to set-up the final day showdown. A sellout crowd of 51,642 filled Memorial Stadium...only to see Jim Palmer and the Orioles lay an egg in a 10-2 defeat to the Brewers. But it's what happened afterwards that everyone remembers. The fans wouldn't leave the ballpark. They stayed and cheered...and cheered... and cheered...until the Orioles and retiring manager Earl Weaver were forced to come out for a tip of the cap. Despite the loss, the crowd on hand that day showed just how much Charm City loved their Orioles.
dale williams aims
|DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.|
It was over two months ago when Purdue handed Maryland a 62-60 loss in the Mackey Arena, home of the Boilermakers. It was a close game throughout, but Purdue took a lead with 6:55 left and never again trailed. It was a good win for a Purdue team that had lost two games before that contest as well as two games after. Since that five-game stretch, much has changed for Purdue.
Right now, the Boilermakers are the hottest team in the Big Ten, if not one of the hottest teams in the country. They have won their last 8 games in a row, including a convincing win over Michigan State. This hot streak has put Purdue just a half game behind Michigan for Big Ten regular season lead.
Purdue has accomplished a lot this season, but one thing they have not done is lose at home. They are a perfect 6-0 at home in their Big Ten games, 10-2 overall in conference, and their two road losses were against Michigan and Michigan State. That impressive resume is why they have been rated as the #9 seed overall in the selection committee’s newly released Top 16.
Considering Purdue’s national respect, Maryland’s two-point loss in West Lafayette doesn’t seem all that bad. In fact, the single bucket margin of victory has been, by far, the closest game Purdue has had at home. Every other home win for the Boilermakers has been by 10 points or more.
In the five conference road games that Purdue has played, they have 2 losses (Michigan, Michigan State), 2 wins in overtime (Penn State, Wisconsin), and a 12-point win at Ohio State. As expected, the road hasn’t been as kind to Purdue as Mackey arena has been. I expect that they will find rough going in the XFINITY Center tonight beginning at 6:30.
Carsen Edwards is the big name for Purdue. He’s on everyone’s National Player of the Year list, and is a strong candidate for Big Ten MVP. He’s a very strong, quick, and shifty 6’1” 200-pound point guard. He leads the conference with 22.4 points per game, but to me, he’s not the key to this Purdue team.
Edwards will get his points. He’ll take a boatload of shots, miss most of them, and get to the foul line a bunch of times. His line against the Terps earlier this season was exactly that. He was 4-15 from the field, just 3 of 9 from the three-point line, and he made all 9 of his foul shots. His point total of 20 looks good, but it’s not all that efficient. Edwards will record these types of stats on most nights, it’s inevitable. What needs to be stopped, if you want to beat his team, are the other Purdue three-point shots.
The Boilermakers hit more threes per game than any team in the Big Ten. Even though their percentage of three’s made is third in the Big Ten, they take so many that they make 2 more per game than any other team in the conference. The Terps must cut off the three-point line.
Edwards hits 37% from deep, but his three pointers can’t be defended. He takes them from so far away, and uses his jumping ability to create so much space, that his attempts are virtually indefensible. There’s really nothing you can do about that except hope he misses, and get a rebound. The other Purdue shooters don’t possess that kind of athleticism and can be defended.
Number one on that list is 2-guard Ryan Cline. Cline had a cold shooting hand against Maryland in December when he hit only 1 of 6 three-point attempts and was just 1-7 overall. For the year, he has made 44% of his threes. He has an odd shooting motion where he starts the ball behind his head. The advantage that style is that it makes the shot much harder to block. Therefore, he needs less space to get off his shot. He must be stopped.
Reserve guard Sasha Stefanovic and starting forward Grady Eifert are both hitting above 40% of their three point tries, but they don’t take too many and I don’t expect them to do much damage tonight. The other guy, besides Cline, that needs to be chased off the three-point line is Aaron Wheeler. Wheeler will most likely come off the bench, and hits only 34.5% of his threes, but he hit 3 of 4 against the Terps in their first matchup, and 6 of 7 from the field overall.
Not allowing those two to get hot is very important if coach Turgeon wants to slow down this Boilermaker train.
Slowing them down is what most teams have been unable to do. When compared to their earlier games, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase to the pace of Purdue’s play. They have multiple players that will push the ball up-court looking for the easy transition basket and they’ll do this all game long. Fatigue isn’t usually an issue for them, as coach Matt Painter has a ten-man rotation with each player getting ten minutes or more of court time.
The quicker pace surely has been a factor in Purdue’s success, but so has the emergence of freshman center, Trevion Williams. Williams has taken minutes from Evan Boudreaux and gives Purdue a much bigger and tougher interior. The center rotation of Williams and the gigantic 7’3” Matt Haarms has been very productive for Purdue. They seldom share the court together and should take turns trying to stop Bruno Fernando.
Stopping Fernando will be a focus of Purdue’s defense. In their last meeting, Coach Painter elected to double team Fernando almost every time he touched the ball. They limited the talented Terp to just 9 points and forced him into 4 turnovers. Anthony Cowan found himself open enough to hoist up 17 shots that day, but he hit only 4.
Both teams are much different now, but I think the Terps have grown up even more than has Purdue. After twice re-watching the Terps 2-point loss, along with viewing four other Purdue games, I see reasons to believe Maryland wins this game, and maybe handily.
The biggest reason I see is that Maryland has the athletes to compete with Purdue. The Terps have trouble with quickness and, outside of Edwards, this Boilermaker team team isn’t overly quick. They’ll run up and down all day, but they are not collectively quick.
The second reason I think Maryland will beat Purdue tonight is just how much growth I’ve seen in the Terp freshmen over the last six weeks. Eric Ayala had 2 points, 3 turnovers, and zero assists in the last game with Purdue. He’s still growing, but that stat line won’t happen again tonight. Ayala is a much different player than the guy Purdue saw 2 months ago.
Ricky Lindo, who played just 2 minutes against Purdue in December, is now a solid contributor on the boards and on the defensive end. Even Serrel Smith is a better player.
Jalen Smith could have a big game tonight. His match-up with Eifert is strongly in Smith’s favor. He’s matured too, and Eifert doesn’t possess the imposing physicality that gives Smith so much trouble. Maryland dominated the boards 39-29 in game one, and I look for even a further dominance tonight.
Bruno Fernando will provide his mega-energy and the crowd will be lively. If the Terps can get a steady performance out of Cowan, this game won’t go down to the wire.
I’m a bit concerned about Purdue’s turnover margin being a league best +3.6 while Maryland has a league worst -4.8. If turnovers get out of hand, anything can happen. A great example of that is Illinois recently beating Michigan State by forcing Sparty into 24 miscues. But that won’t happen tonight.
With Purdue being a 9-point favorite in West Lafayette, and the norm being an 8 to 10-point swing for the rematch in the other team’s gym, it wasn’t unexpected to see Maryland as a 1-point underdog tonight.
But Maryland is better than Purdue and a well-rested Terp team (their last game was on Wednesday) will handle this Purdue squad that last played on Saturday. The home court will be a huge advantage and the revenge should be sweet.
Too many match-ups favor Maryland, and that’s why they’ll win this game 74-64 behind big games from Fernando, Smith, and a 20-point Anthony Cowan effort.
If you were here yesterday (and you can scroll down to Sunday's edition below, if you weren't), you saw that I have a theme of sorts for this week here at #DMD. We're going to take a trip down memory lane.
What are the four biggest sporting moments in the history of our great city? "Moments" is a pretty loose term, mind you. I call it "moments" on purpose, to allow for you to have your own measure of creativity. Was it a play? A celebration? A controversy? A game itself? You decide.
Let me again stress that we're talking only about things that happened in Baltimore and the surrounding area. A few asked about Landover, yesterday, site of the old Capital Centre. No. Landover isn't Baltimore.
I'm sure "College Park" will come up. No. College Park is not Baltimore. Annapolis isn't Baltimore, either.
I have two lists. One, which you'll see today, is the list of four Baltimore sports moments that I personally experienced. That means, simply, that I was there, in attendance. The other list, coming later in the week, is the big one. The big four, so to speak. These are the ones, in my opinion, that serve as Baltimore's greatest sports moments, whether I was in attendance or not.
You might have two lists as well. It's highly unlikely you attended all four of the greatest Baltimore sports moments in person, but maybe you did. That would be pretty special.
Take some time to think about the lists this week and contribute in the comments below. I think we'll find that we've been blessed with a lot of great moments here in Baltimore over the last 50 years.
My Personal Four Best Baltimore Sports Moments
December 14, 1975, "The Fog Game" -- My father and I were regulars at Colt games in the mid 1970's. We didn't own season tickets, but my dad worked in the auto sales business in Glen Burnie and tickets were always floating around. In that 1975 season, I think we made it four or five games. One of them was the famous "Fog Game" against the Dolphins. I know, over time, lots of people in Baltimore claim to have been there. Many probably were, many probably weren't. I was there. It was bizarre, to say the least. I had this discussion with a friend a month or so ago and we both agreed that in today's NFL, the game probably would be delayed. Too dependent on both TV and instant replay, it's likely they wouldn't play in that kind of fog in 2019. I remember a game a couple of years ago (Bears vs. Eagles maybe?) that had a massive fog blanket over it, but to this day, I've never seen a sporting event played in that sort of foggy weather.
Toni Linhart's field goal in overtime gave the Colts a 10-7 win. It would forever be remembered, simply, as "the fog game" in Baltimore. On a personal note, I would later wind up befriending Toni when his printing company did some work with the Blast. He was an ardent golfer, albeit not a particularly good one. Once, at a charity event we were both playing in, I gave him a quick lesson on the practice range at Chestnut Ridge. His left thumb was incorrectly placed on the club. I moved it to a stronger position and, voila!!, he started making much better contact. I remember he remarked, in his Austrian accent, "We're even now. I kicked that field goal for you in the fog and you're going to help me beat Bruce Laird."
June 8, 1984, Blast wins MISL Championship -- I was there for this moment because I worked for the team, serving as the Media Relations Assistant in the 1983-84 campaign. After losing Game 1 of the Championship Series at home, 7-3, the Blast won the next three games, including two in St. Louis, to set up a "win at home" scenario in Game 5 at the then-called Baltimore Civic Center. 12,007 people jammed the building that night. Joey Fink scored five goals for the Blast that night as we cruised to a 10-3 victory. I still own the championship ring that owner Bernie Rodin gave the players and employees. That would be the only title the Blast would ever win in the "old" MISL. It was an amazing night, to say the least.
March 15, 2008, UMBC beats Hartford to earn NCAA bid -- I can't ever shake this day from my mind. It was a truly memorable sports moment for me, as the Retrievers men's basketball team beat Hartford at the RAC, 82-65, to advance to the NCAA basketball tournament. Back in that time frame, I made it a point to have every local college coach on my show, no matter the sport. I welcomed coaches from football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, etc. It didn't matter the coach, sport or school. I wanted to promote local college sports. I even made it a point to have visiting coaches call my show, which didn't always sit well with the powers-that-be at the radio station. In that 2007-2008 season, UMBC hoops coach Randy Monroe called in every Friday to preview his team's weekend game. I got to know him, well, and the players, too. Jay Greene, still one of my all-time favorite Baltimore college athletes, was a junior on that squad. The championship game was in Baltimore on the campus of UMBC because the Retrievers had the best regular season record. I've never seen so many people in that arena in one sitting. It was packed to the gills. The standing joke that morning (the game started at 12 noon because of national TV) was "We're not worried about the fire marshal coming in to check on the attendance...he can't get in the door." From the first tip, it was a madhouse in the RAC. That UMBC won comfortably made the whole thing more like a 2-hour fraternity party than a basketball game. It was an amazing scene.
February 5, 2013, Ravens celebrate Super Bowl win with stadium rally -- I remember in the aftermath of the Ravens' Super Bowl win over the 49'ers, Kevin Byrne of the Ravens said to me, "We're thinking about having the parade end in the stadium on Tuesday. How many people do you think we'll draw? 25,000 maybe?" I laughed. "You think you'll only get 25,000? I think you'll have 50,000 in that place. Maybe 60,000 or 70,000. You have a far better chance of having no seats left than drawing 25,000." I was right. The parade (which I did not witness personally, as I was at the stadium) went through Baltimore and then the final celebration moved into the stadium itself. Little by little, people started filing in. Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, it was completely packed. By the time Ray Lewis gave his famous opening line, "Baltimore! Ballltttiiimmmorrrre! Bbbbaaalllllttttiiiimmmmmoooorrrreeee!" there wasn't seat available anywhere. Looking back now, I'd say, despite the Ravens' best efforts, that there were more people in the stadium than capacity allowed for. Estimates? Some said 90,000 were in the stadium that day!
Tomorrow -- Two remarkable "Baltimore sports moments" that I didn't see personally, but make the all-time list.
"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld
|DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.|
This Week’s Subject: How the Game is Played
Frank Robinson hit 586 home runs; at the time of his retirement in 1976, that was fourth on the all-time list. He is the only player to have won MVP honors in both the American League and the National League. As his playing days were ending, he broke new ground as MLB’s first African-American manager.
Frank Robinson would spike middle infielders while sliding, mostly in retaliation for things done to him, whether real or perceived. He once was brushed back by a pitch, grounded out a few pitches later, and then started a fistfight with the pitcher on his jog back to the dugout. The various tributes to Robinson written this week all had a similar theme: he was a prickly guy, not easily befriended, even on the most superficial level.
For Robinson, everything about the game was a fight. As a few of his former Baltimore teammates said last week after his death, that spirit helped change the Orioles from a promising team to the class of the American League in the late 1960s.
It’s easy to understand why African-American players of that era saw the game that way. They traveled the Minors and even the Majors in segregated America. They overcame a lot, even if they had Hall of Fame talent like Robinson. Their athletic stardom may have paid them well, but it didn’t solve any systemic problems.
Without diminishing those facts of American life, that’s what the game was about back then, whether you were black or white. The game was a fight. Certainly players were friends with players on other teams, but nobody knew that, especially on the field. There were no batting helmets or special equipment designed to make players less prone to injury. The conditions of the fields and clubhouses paled in comparison to those of the 21st century.
In other words, your opponent that day really was an opponent. The game was in many ways harder to play, both physically and mentally. Nobody had a team of agents and managers fighting for them, no matter how good you were. You had to fight for yourself.
That mentality might explain why Robinson had a decent amount of success as a manager with teams that had no business being good. Those teams had to look at the game a different way, because they didn’t have any players like Robinson on them. Every game was a fight for survival.
When men like Robinson pass on, they take that athletic mentality with them, and in today’s game it never gets fully replaced.
If you pay attention, what percentage of the time, would you say, do you see the first baseman and a baserunner chatting away with each other? How about all the conversation that goes on in the outfield in pregame warmups?
The vestiges of Frank Robinson’s baseball stayed around for a little while. In the 1989 classic Major League, Yankees slugger Clu Haywood, portrayed by former Major League pitcher Pete Vuckovich, steps up to the plate and has a brief conversation with Indians catcher Jake Taylor, portrayed by Tom Berenger.
“What are you doing back up here, Taylor?”
“Couldn’t cut it in the Mexican League.”
“How’s your wife and my kids?”
Something tells me that Chris Davis isn’t having those types of conversations. A shame, I suppose, since Davis won’t be able to bring that kind of ad-libbing to the silver screen when his career is over. In all seriousness, though, is there anything really wrong with the amount of fraternization that goes on among professional athletes these days? And even if you think so, what exactly are we supposed to do about it?
In the 21st century, the players on the Yankees and Red Sox don’t hate each other. They can’t even pretend to dislike one another. A lot of them have played with each other, have the same agents, even work out with each other in the offseason.
Many of them are multi-millionaires, the kind of people who can buy Cal Ripken’s house just for the real estate. They have a lot of stuff to talk about nowadays.
These are realities, and no amount of passionate fan dislike of one team by another team’s fanbase is going to make that change.
In the NBA, the friendliness between players has been taken to the occasional extreme with the “superteam” phenomenon. This bothers people for two reasons. One is competitive: shouldn’t the best players want to play AGAINST each other for bragging rights, as opposed to with each other? The second is more about power; for many fans, a player like LeBron James holds too much of it, and he’s supposed to play basketball and not rule the world.
All that aside, however, do the different type of relationships players have with each other nowadays actually affect the game in a bad way? Or do they just make fans annoyed by the whole thing? If it was the former, then it would be something to discuss. I’d say it’s more of the latter, which is really only a problem for us, the suckers who watch all the games.
Major League Baseball management presented a proposal to the players’ association in January. Included was a potential rules change dealing with relief pitchers, requiring them to either finish an inning or face at least three batters before being replaced on the mound. The idea, like the proposed pitch clock, is to help with the pace of play.
More interesting to me than the pace of play issue is the “retro” feeling of the whole thing. Owners are trying to mandate something that was done voluntarily in the distant past.
In Frank Robinson’s day, when a reliever came in, there was a lot better chance that the manager would let him stay in as long as he was effective.
I won’t get into a discussion about common sense, because both sides of the analytic debate believe that they have the right answer when it comes to how relievers are used. Old Man River finds it comical that the manager comes out to get the pitcher who just struck out three guys in a row because he’s supposed to bring a lefty into the game. Young Guy finds it amusing that anyone would question the wisdom of creating the best matchup possible, even if it doesn’t work out in the end.
There is a discussion to be had, I think, about how much certain aspects of the game can be legislated.
There’s are obvious competitive reasons for having rules about roster size. Within that framework, there are common sense realities about how many of those players should be pitchers, though it can vary a little bit. Is it taking it too far, however, if we mandate even a little bit how those pitchers can be used?
Designated hitter aside, there are obvious historical reasons behind having nine fielders on defense. Put simply, the nine guys who hit are the same nine guys who play the field. There have never been any rules as to where you can place the other seven fielders besides the pitcher and catcher. Would that be taking the game too far?
Not surprisingly, the union is balking at stuff like this. The changes they want are generally economic in nature. The only rule change they favor is using the designated hitter in every game, which is really an economic decision that allows more players to make money even if they are defensive liabilities.
My view? Legislating the pace of play is a losing proposition, and it’s one that management will be reticent to implement without full buy-in from the players. I’d bet Frank Robinson would be in agreement with that.
A few weeks back here at #DMD, I profiled Korean golfer Ho Sung Choi, he of the distinct and, some would say, odd golf swing.
He has been a decent player of late on the Asian Tour and his world ranking is somewhere in the 200's. He isn't chopped liver by any means, but he's far, far away from being good enough to compete regularly on the PGA Tour.
Still, Choi is an interesting case study in the value of being different, particularly in the world of golf, where everyone almost looks the same and their cookie-cutter approach is mostly appealing only to those who actually play the sport.
So, when the folks associated with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am offered Choi an exemption into this week's annual tournament on the Monterrey Peninsula, Choi accepted and the ticket sales immediately picked up. The TOUR even got into the act, scheduling Choi's rotation on the three courses used so that he'd finish up on Saturday playing Pebble Beach, where the bulk of CBS's live coverage originates from on the weekend.
As I mentioned here and to others in the days leading up to the event, Choi was a longshot to make the cut. Unlike a typical TOUR event, where players have 36 holes to make the cut, because the Pebble Beach event uses three different courses (Spyglass Hill, Monterrey Peninsula and Pebble Beach), each player has to be given the chance to play at all three venues. Thus, the cut was made yesterday after three rounds instead of the traditional two.
Choi fashioned a 77 yesterday to put him at 9 over par through 54 holes. By the time the final round starts today at 9:00 am Pacific time, Choi will be on a plane heading back home to Korea.
That he failed to make the cut in his first PGA Tour event shouldn't be a shock. It was the first time he ever visited America, let alone played in a golf tournament here. Choi has played before against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth, for example, but he's always done that on his turf.
Expecting him to come here and play well in his first American visit was a little ambitious, although Choi finished one shot better (+9) than I predicted he would through 54 holes.
I love his odd golf swing and his post-contact mannerisms. I think he's a terrific player. But he would be really hard pressed to come to the U.S. full time and make a living playing golf.
The Asian Tour is akin to Triple A baseball. It's filled with guys who can play. A few, even, can play at a higher level. But most guys are in Triple A because that's where they belong.
I'd love to see more of Ho Sung Choi here, because he adds some excitement and interest to the tournament scene. But he'd never win a tournament on the PGA Tour. Never.
There are certain colleges you beat, no matter the sport, where just beating that team means something. Beating Johns Hopkins at lacrosse is an example of that.
If you beat Notre Dame in football, regardless of their record, that still matters. If you beat Maryland in college soccer, that still matters. Heck, the Terps won the national title just this past season, in fact.
Towson University clobbered visiting Hopkins yesterday, 17-8. You probably missed it because it's early February and none of us consider this "lacrosse season".
But college lacrosse sold their soul to television a decade ago and this is what you get. Lacrosse season in football weather. It's stupid, if you ask me, but no one did.
This edition of Johns Hopkins lacrosse isn't your father's edition, that's for sure, but that's mainly because the talent pool has a lot more options these days than they did, say, in the 1980's. Back when I was doing lax color commentary on WJHU, circa 1981, 15 of the of the country's best 20 lacrosse players went to Hopkins and that's just the way it was. Those days are long gone.
Towson's win yesterday was huge. STATEMENT. WIN. Those were the two words Towson's sports information department used when tweeting out the final score. I guess they're right. It was definitely a statement win for the program, who a couple of years back reached the final four weekend and might have very well played in the championship game had their face off specialist not suffered a second quarter concussion.
Shawn Nadelen is an outstanding coach and his teams are always well prepared. That his Towson Tigers won yesterday wasn't a great surprise, although the 17-8 final score might have been. But beating Hopkins in lacrosse still matters. It was, indeed, a STATEMENT. WIN.
What's up with the Washington Capitals? Another crummy team came into DC last night and beat the Caps, as Florida scored a power play goal in overtime to win, 5-4.
The Caps are still in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Islanders (who have played one less game), but they're "only" five points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, who are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff positioning.
I'm not suggesting the Capitals aren't going to make the playoffs. That would be an enormous shock to the system if the Caps somehow didn't make the everyone-makes-it NHL post-season. But five points in the NHL isn't a lot to overcome in two months.
But what is going on with Alex Ovechkin and Company? They lost 7 games in a row just prior to the All-Star break, then returned for a 6-game homestand, where they've already lost twice, with the Kings set to visit tomorrow night to close out the favorable part of their schedule.
Is this what happens after you win the Stanley Cup? Probably. I mean, does anyone really think the Caps are going to repeat as champions? It took them 43 years to win a Stanley Cup. What are the odds they win their second one the season after they won their first one
But they certainly have the firepower to contend for another title. So, why the shoddy play of late? Is it the new coach? An older, slower defensive corps? The post-title hangover?
I'm guessing it's a bit of everything, plus the fact that they're everyone's Super Bowl when the Caps come to town.
The Frank Robinson "Mother's Day Home Run" that many of you spoke of last Friday got me to thinking.
What are the four biggest one-off moments in Baltimore sports history? And to give it some kind of "span", we'll use the time frame we used for the Mount Rushmore endeavor from a few weeks back. We'll go with 1970 to 2019.
And these events had to happen IN Baltimore, meaning, the game/moment etc. took place when a Baltimore/Maryland team was the host.
So, something that occurred, say, at a Super Bowl in TAMPA BAY wouldn't count, even though it involves a Baltimore-based team. Same goes for the University of Maryland. If the Terps had a memorable moment/event in BALTIMORE, that would count. Otherwise College Park, 40 miles away, doesn't count as "Baltimore".
Since 1970, what four moments that occurred in Baltimore stand out as the biggest, best, most exciting, most memorable, most important and so on?
Professional, college, high school. You decide.
The Orioles played World Series games in Baltimore in 1971, 1979 and 1983. Only the '83 World Series worked out in our favor, and as most of you remember, the title-clinching game was in Philly, not Baltimore.
The Colts played some important games in Charm City in the 1970's. The Ravens have played some big games in Baltimore over the last 22 years.
What four moments, within those games, stand out above all the rest?
I'll post my four this week, starting on Monday.
It's like a Mount Rushmore theme, again, except we're talking events and moments instead of individual people.
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. It took me a while to come up with my four. Two were easy. The other two came to me, but not right away.
I hope you'll contribute this week.
Unknowingly, many of you participated in a #DMD experiment of sorts yesterday.
Don't worry, your personal information wasn't compromised or anything like that. In fact, a significant number of you passed the experiment with flying colors.
As several of you noted in the Comments section, I didn't write anything at all about Frank Robinson's death in the Friday edition of #DMD. Neither did any of our other staffers, either, although my guess is their reasoning might have been different than mine.
I didn't intentionally fail to offer commentary on Robinson's passing as a way of downplaying it. I intentionally failed to write something because I simply wasn't sure what I could offer that would be any different than the scores of other things you might have read -- or heard -- from mid-day Thursday until Friday morning.
Frank was before my time as a sports fanatic. For reasons I can't explain, I can vividly remember the likes of Brooks and Boog. I can remember Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins. I definitely remember watching Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally. I have no personal recollection whatsoever of having seen Frank Robinson play baseball.
I'm not telling you that to say "If I didn't see him play, I can't possibly have an opinion on him." Rather, I'm saying it just to stress that I don't have any memories of Frank Robinson as a baseball player in Baltimore.
Truth of the matter: I had two personal interactions with Frank Robinson, circa 2003-2004, and neither of them were all that favorable. I certainly wasn't going to bring that up yesterday and I won't get into any more detail here today. I never mentioned it before and there's no need to mention it now. That's just my way of stressing that, personally, I knew very little about Frank Robinson both as a player, a manager and a baseball executive.
The stats tell us he was a great player. A Hall of Famer, obviously. I can read the stats and the accomplishments and confirm he was a superstar. But writing about what he meant to Baltimore? I don't know, because I was five years old when he was in his Charm City glory.
Plenty of national baseball writers opined on Frank Robinson throughout Thursday and Friday. I read roughly eight pieces on him from folks like Richard Justice, who once covered the Orioles when he was a Baltimore newspaper writer (and a great one, I might add). I learned a lot about Frank over the last couple of days.
But for me to author some sort of column here on Friday about what Frank meant to the city? It would have been really disingenuous of me to do that. I would have been faking it, for sure.
Here, though, is where it gets interesting.
When I popped around the radio on Thursday evening and listened to the callers chime in with their Frank Robinson memories, it dawned on me that these days are when talk radio has its finest moments. The hosts are just there to put logs on the fire. Sure, they have an opinion on Robinson's death and they might have a memory or two, but for the most part, talk radio is there to give people the opportunity to contribute their thoughts and memories.
That's what I always enjoyed about hosting a talk show. I was reminded on several occasions that "callers aren't important" during my 12 years on the air, but I always had -- perhaps I was doing it wrong, who knows? -- an urge to let people call in and talk. I was the log-placer. Callers made the fire burn.
So, I used that philosophy on Friday here at #DMD. I let you call in -- via the comments section -- and talk about Frank Robinson. A number of you wrote some very poignant things about Frank. Memories made with your family were among the touching tributes you all wrote here. A few of you criticized me for not having a headline piece about Frank and I totally understood. You had know idea what I was doing by "ignoring" his death. I didn't tell you about "the experiment". How could you know you were even participating?
No hard feelings, trust me.
But you all (mostly) came through with flying colors. I had to delete one inflammatory comment that touched on things about Frank Robinson that had no business being posted. I don't like censoring anyone here, but that one was over the top. Other than that, though, you all carried the torch yesterday and presented some awesome memories of what Robinson meant to you and Baltimore.
You'll notice, if you're here long enough, that I don't try and buffalo my way around or through things that I don't personally understand. I can't tell you the last time I wrote a lacrosse article here at #DMD. I like the sport. If I didn't have a Calvert Hall golf obligation today, in fact, I'd probably go watch Towson host Johns Hopkins. But even if I did that, I doubt very seriously I'd author a headline article here tomorrow. It's just not my way of doing it.
I've never written about the MMA or UFC. Never. Not once. I don't know anything about it.
If anyone wants to hop on as our lacrosse or MMA writer, there's an opening, obviously!
But the truth is, I stick (mainly) to what I know around here, or at the very least, I write about current events and moments I witness. I just didn't have any kind of formal memory of anything related to Frank Robinson. But a lot of you sure did, which I found fascinating.
Thanks for bringing the logs yesterday. I just sat back and enjoyed the warm fire.
Before I get into the fourth and final "perfect album" that I believe exists, let me just offer one final note of thanks to my friends who participated in this little weeklong effort, along with the scores of you in the comments section below who provided your thoughts on the existence of "the perfect album".
Tony Lombardi, Dennis Schocket and Mark Mussina all took time to provide in-depth commentary on their "perfect album" beliefs. Surprisingly, Lombardi and Schocket both listed Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" as a perfect album. Unbeknownst to me, my wife owns that CD. So I put it on my car the other day and listened to as much of it as I could. It's good music. Tom Petty was outstanding. Was it a perfect album? Not to me. But I respect the fact that others might have thought so.
I found four perfect albums and about 25 "one-hitters". Just for kicks, I'm going to rattle off a handful of those one hitters with some brief commentary on each. U2's "The Joshua Tree" (last two songs stink). Rush's "Moving Pictures" (YYZ is a 4-minute instrumental. Great song. But it makes the album a one-hitter). The Doors' "Morrison Hotel" (Indian Summer is dreadful). The Cars' first album (I'm In Touch With Your World makes it a one-hitter, sadly. What an album!). Pete Yorn's "Music For The Morning After" (Sense brings this one down). Counting Crows' "August And Everything After" (Perfect Blue Buildings was the single up the middle in the 9th inning that ruined the perfect game. Terrible song.)
There are lots of albums that nearly made the list. For me, four did. Steely Dan's "Aja", No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom" and Billy Joel's "The Stranger". And........
Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" album was absolutely perfect.
Here's the funny thing. Born To Run isn't even my favorite Bruce album. I prefer "Darkness on The Edge of Town" or "The Rising". But those two albums aren't perfect. And Born To Run, is.
There's no bad song on Born To Run. There are iconic hits like Jungleland, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out and Thunder Road -- not to mention one of the most popular songs of our generation, Born To Run -- and there are remarkable tunes like She's The One, Night and Backstreets.
Meeting Across The River is a trip into the badlands of the New York/New Jersey underground. If you didn't know better, you'd think Bruce was once involved in it himself.
Eight songs. All of them amazing, both in words and sound.
"Someday girl I don't know when
We're gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we'll walk in the sun
But 'til then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run"
Thanks again for participating this past week! It was all..........perfect!
This little off-season stunt might wind up someday costing baseball owners millions and millions of dollars -- or maybe even billions -- but they're nothing if not resilient.
Here we are on Friday, February 8, and the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Dallas Keuchel remain unsigned.
Spring training starts next week for most teams and those three guys are unemployed. And unless one of them caves in and takes a different offer than the one they've been looking for, there's no telling when they might sign a new deal somewhere.
At this point, Harper is the one that's hardest to feel sorry for, that is if you believe the stories from almost two months ago now that indicated the Nationals offered their former centerfielder a 10-year, $300 million contract that he turned down. I don't care who you are, what you do, how many hits you have, goals you score or touchdown passes you throw, I refuse to feel sorry for you if you were offered THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS and you said, "No thanks."
Personally, I don't know that I believe that story about D.C. offering Harper $300 mil, but if so, that's on him.
Machado might have received a paltry $175 million offer from the White Sox, or not. There's no telling if that story was legit, but either way, Machado's still out there looking for work. Just a guess here, but Manny putting his nose up in the air during last October's National League Championship Series and basically telling teams in advance "don't expect me to hustle" probably didn't endear him to major league owners.
Stripping away your dislike for all of those wealthy owners, it's not all that unreasonable to hear a person say that and then say to yourself, "I wouldn't hire him."
I'm not a baseball owner, and I don't have millions to give to any employee, let alone Machado, but I have common sense. I've long listed Manny's lack of integrity (you can substitute "work ethic" for "integrity", if you like) as the number one reason I wouldn't employ him on my team if $35 million annually was the asking price.
Maybe baseball owners are just catching up to those of us Baltimore who watched him lollygag out of the batter's box or regularly run the Orioles out of innings over the last few summers.
And then there's Keuchel, who reportedly thought he would be getting $175 million over 5 years. Instead, he's still trimming his beard and waiting for a phone call.
Whether or not it's the legal definition of "collusion" is something people much smarter than me will potentially decide in a courtroom sometime in 2020 or beyond, but it's very clear that baseball players have finally priced themselves out of the game. The days of $35 million or even $40 million salaries are, apparently, a thing of the past.
Anti-ownership folks will cry about how the players are getting mistreated, of course, but that's a story only a few people in the "real world" can understand. Anyone with their feet on the ground and a sane mind can't look at someone turning down $30 million annually and say, "Boy, what a shame. They really ripped that guy off."
And that's ultimately why very few people feel sorry for the likes of Harper, Machado and Keuchel. It's silly money. It's not even something any of us, here reading this today, can relate to. If you're offered $30 million to do anything and you say, "I think I'll hold out for something better", there's an assumed risk there that you might not actually get something better.
My guess is one or all of those guys might have to poor-boy it for a year, sign somewhere for $25 million or so, live on Ramen Noodles and Mac-n-Cheese for the next twelve months, and then go through the whole free agent process again next winter. By then, MLB lawyers will tell the owners in no uncertain terms that someone in the league has to fork over "real money" to those guys or the collusion evidence really kicks in.
In the meantime, I'll tip my cap to the owners, since no one else will do it.
They dug in, hard, and wouldn't yield their position.
They might pay for that in the end, but it's been fun to watch millionaire athletes squirm for a bit, if nothing else.
Well, this week, I'm going to beat McDowell by using.......McDowell.
It almost wasn't going to be that way, but the golf gods intervened. More on that in a minute.
After picking up a whopping 87 points (72 for his finish, 15 for winning) when Rickie Fowler waltzed to victory in Phoenix, I waited to hear from George.
I figured on Sunday night I'd get a brief email of congratulations, along with a snide remark about how Fowler was stupid for hitting driver at 17 with a one shot lead and that he'll never learn and he'll never win a tournament that really matters and that Farmer's Insurance sucks anyway.
Sunday came and went. Monday rolled along and still no contact from George.
By Tuesday, I was officially worried, so I checked the local newspaper down there in North Carolina but I didn't see any kind of bothersome headline.
LOCAL MAN, DRESSED IN ORANGE, REFUSES TO LEAVE SPORTS BAR AFTER WRONG GUY WINS GOLF TOURNAMENT
I was worried I might see that, along with a picture of my buddy.
I called him on Tuesday afternoon and there he was, glum sounding, but alive, at least.
So now, we move on. I have a 199-73 lead, which is like being up 3-0 in the top of the second inning, I'd say. There's still lots of baseball left, but my bats are hot and his pitchers aren't.
This week, we hit a snag, and my playing competitor graciously allowed me some wiggle room. On Tuesday, I changed my pick from Graeme McDowell to Patrick Cantlay. I was "going for the jugular", as I wrote to George when I notified him of the change in my line-up.
But then Cantlay withdrew on Wednesday afternoon. So I asked to have McDowell be reinstated. And the other McDowell, the good guy, agree to it.
In fairness -- granted, it's easy to be fair when you're 5-up through 7 holes -- here's what I'll do. I will *count* my alternate pick of Cantlay in the agreed upon FOUR substitution rule we laid out at the beginning of the season. So now, instead of three subs (I used one earlier in the year when Kevin Chappell didn't play) remaining between now and the Masters, I only have two remaining.
My guy (McDowell) posted 4-under yesterday at Pebble Beach while George's player, Jimmy Walker, went around Spyglass Hill in +3 (75). There's still time for Walker to rebound, though. All players in the field play at least three rounds (each course in the rotation gets played by everyone before they go back to Pebble Beach for the final round), so Walker still has 36 holes to improve.
McDowell -- Graeme, not George -- once won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, you might recall. Maybe lightning will strike twice for him out there on the Monterrey Penisula. If so, wouldn't that be something. I'd wind up beating McDowell with his namesake.
If that happens, I'm definitely checking the headlines next Monday.
And speaking of George, it's time to hear from him.
Talk about lightning in a bottle . . .
I lost the first four rounds, and got knocked down by a phantom punch in the fifth. I'm taking an eight-count. The worst thing to do is jump up right away and start swinging wildly. It's a marathon, not a sprint. There's a lotta golf left to predict.
We're rope-a-doping here in Week Six with Jimmy Walker. He should be able to hold off whatever mope you ended up with this week."
Our quest for finding "the perfect album" rolls on today with yet another guest appearance from a friend, and the third of my four perfect albums.
Steely Dan had an amazing run in the 1970's and 1980's. Honestly, there are several of their records that carried no hitters into the 7th or 8th innings. But one of them, was perfect.
Now, there's a small sticking point here, but not a big deal. "Aja" -- yes, it's perfect -- only had 7 songs on it. For those that care, that became my "song minimum" when I was evaluating whether an album was "perfect" or not. That's why Rush's album, "Hemispheres", didn't make the cut. I think that record is perfect, too, but it only has four songs (36 minutes worth of music, but just four song titles).
Anyway, "Aja" has seven songs and every one of them is perfect. It was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2003.
"Peg", "Deacon Blues" and "Josie" were all on that record, although my two favorite songs are two others; "Home At Last" and "I Got The News".
Let's face it, when you can get Michael McDonald to sing background vocals on a record -- any record -- it's almost guaranteed to be perfect. And "Aja".....is perfect.
And now, let's hear from the most famous brother who has ever contributed to Drew's Morning Dish, my longtime friend Mark Mussina -- you might have heard of his brother, he was a pretty good pitcher in his day -- who represents the "hair band" era quite nicely with his commentary below.
BON JOVI – SLIPPERY WHEN WET
Forget the fact that Livin on a Prayer is one of the top five songs of its decade. Forget the fact that You Give Love a Bad Name and Wanted Dead or Alive were monster hits.
Forget the fact that Wild in the Streets and I’d Die For You would have been singles for most other bands but here were left as album filler. Heck, you can even forget that Never Say Goodbye reached #28 on the Hot 100 Airplay Survey and it was never released as a single!
What makes this album perfect is that you simply play it from start to finish over and over and over. It rocks hard. It rocks soft. It tells typical rock-n-roll songs of love, lust, heartbreak, and anthems, but what sets this album, and this band apart is the story-telling that brings these songs to life. You can see Tommy and Gina struggling in Livin on a Prayer.
You can see the girl next door sneaking out of her bedroom window in Wild in the Streets. You can hear the fatigue and determination of the band in Wanted Dead or Alive and you can see every teenage romance ever in lyrics “Remember at the prom that night, you and me we had a fight. But the band they played our favorite song, and I held you in my arms so strong.”
This album simply has everything. Oh by the way, it’s the first 80’s glam/hair band album to have three top ten hits; hits that still work today.
One last thing. The album is thirty years old. Thirty years from now, Livin on a Prayer will still be played and it’ll still be as fresh as the day it dropped.
GUNS-N-ROSES – APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION
What makes this album unique for its era is that it lacked the power ballad that was so quintessential for the 80’s hair bands. The label wanted to put out the most unapologetic, hard rock album of the decade, and they did.
I’m not sure what’s more impressive. That one album (a debut album nonetheless) housed three iconic songs like Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child ‘O Mine, and Paradise City?
That the “fillers” included such gems as Mr. Brownstone, Nightrain, My Michelle and Rocket Queen?
Or that when these guys wrote this collection of masterpieces, they were essentially homeless….and strung out? When the record company says “we need to get these guys on the road and make some money off of them before one of them ends up dead,” that doesn’t paint a promising picture. Well, thirty years later, they’re all still living, and so is the greatness of the album.
KID ROCK – ROCK-N-ROLL JESUS
I actually checked this cd out of the public library one day when I was there with my kids. I like the Werewolves of London/Sweet Home Alabama mix of All Summer Long so I figured I’d listen to the rest of the album. It’s become one of my musical, guilty pleasures.
Kid Rock rocks a little, he raps a little, and he twangs a little. His lyrics go from crude and lewd in So Hott and Sugar to heartfelt in Amen and Bluejeans and a Rosarie..
He takes himself very seriously in the title track, but then pokes fun at himself in Half Your Ageand Lowlife (Living the Highlife). All the while, the music is great, even as he bounces from genre to genre. He even throws in the little Creole Blues on the song New Orleans.
The best song on the album might be Roll On; his retrospective, open letter to himself and his kids. If you’re a parent and you’ve never heard it, do yourself a favor. Go on youtube and take a listen.
Play this album when you’re working out or cruising around town. I promise you, there’s nothing to skip…unless your kids are in the car. Then skip track #5. Trust me. But if you’re alone, you’re going to play it very loud and sing every word.
MEATLOAF – BAT OUT OF HELL
It’s seven songs of sing-along perfection. It’s fast, it’s slow, it’s fun, and it’s honest. Has there ever been a more truthful lyric than “Baby, we can talk all night…but that ain’t getting us nowhere”? Every time Meatloaf sings that line, God says to himself, “I should have put that on a stone tablet and sent it down off the mountain.”
Oh yeah, and it’s sold 700 gazillion copies. What else needs to be said?
Well, I’ll say this. When my daughter was in eighth grade, she’d heard Paradise by the Dashboard Light on “Glee” and wanted to sing it as a solo in the middle school chorus concert. I told her I thought it was inappropriate for the setting. Of course, she didn’t take the “dad must have my best interests in mind” stance, instead going for the “dad is a wet blanket, trying to ruin my life.”
She didn’t understand.
The song was great! Why on Earth couldn’t she sing it? I asked her what she thought “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” was about. She said it was about kids being young and free and enjoying the ability to drive. So I asked her, “then why the lyric ‘we were barely seventeen, and we were barely dressed’”?
The lightbulb went on, her eyes got big, and she ever so eloquently said “ooooooooooooohhhhhhhh.” Do you see how great music can bring generations together, even if it’s in an awkward, parental way?
I recently discovered a quirky rule in a local CYO 8th grade basketball league.
My daughter cheerleads for her elementary school's boys' hoops team, so I naturally go to the games to watch her and the squad perform. As the coach of my son's Under 12 indoor soccer team, I can say, without question, that watching your daughter cheerlead is infinitely more relaxing than coaching.
But a few weeks back, after the regular guy couldn't make it that night, I was asked to serve as the clock operator at the scorer's table for the four CYO games. I agreed.
Now, I was "in the action". And I learned something.
I learned that we're doing it wrong.
For starters, let me say this. I have no idea who made the rules for CYO basketball. I suspect it wasn't one person, rather a room full of folks from various walks of life. Some probably had an athletic background, others perhaps didn't. But no matter who it was or how many of them sat around and made the rules, I can say for sure they missed it.
On that night I was clock operating, one of the teams was far superior to their opponent. Each game is split into two, 16-man halves. Three minutes into the second half, "Team A" was ahead 29-9.
And then it happened...
"Hey Coach," said the league supervisor. "Remember, now that you're up 20 points you can't fast-break. And you have to defend inside your 3-point arc. No pressing."
Moments later, the "Team A" coach, now up by 26 points, started to empty his bench. But instead of letting them go in and play basketball, he had to instruct them to play some other game. They couldn't move the ball up the court the way he coached them to, nor could they defend the way he showed them to in practice. I could tell they were confused as he gave them directions fifteen feet to my left in a time-out huddle.
Their play was choppy, at best. The 26-point lead became 18 points within a few minutes as "Team B" hit a couple of three pointers and took advantage of Team A's relaxed state. A minute or two later, Team A went up again by 22 points and the "new rules" kicked in again.
I watched the Team A coach. His enthusiasm was gone. His demeanor was changed. He was still coaching, but barely.
"What message does it send those kids on the bench, many of whom have been waiting for this very moment for weeks and weeks, when they're not allowed to actually play basketball when they finally do get in the game?" I thought to myself.
This is what it's come to, in 2019. No one's allowed to lose. Or get blown out. Or face someone far superior to themselves. I should say, by the way, that at no time was Team A disrespectful or openly "running up the score" on Team B. They advanced to their 26 point lead because they had better players, were better coached, and better prepared.
How do you coach young men or women and make them "earn their opportunity" to get in the game, then be forced to tell them, "Oh, when you go out there, don't do anything we worked on in practice because we're up 34-12"?
It doesn't make any sense at all.
I'm not here to suggest that we encourage and motivate 8th graders to win 32-minute basketball games by 45 points. I see the issues at hand. I played sports, worked in sports, coached sports and think I have a good grasp on it all.
My first two years coaching high school golf at John Carroll, my teams went 0-9 and 0-8 respectively in MIAA play. I scheduled a couple of C-Conference matches just to give my kids a chance to compete with others of their same quality and we managed to win a couple of those, but in our own A-Conference setting, we never once came close to winning a match in 2011 or 2012.
Without the aid of the official records, I'd say in those 17 matches that we got shutout at least 8 times. Getting shutout in high school golf is very, very rare. We were blanked eight times in two years.
But not once did it dawn on me to go up to the opposing A-Conference coach, many of whom have become personal friends of mine, and ask them to treat us any differently. Occasionally, I'd see their lineup for the day and realize that the coach was using players he normally wouldn't use, perhaps playing his three best players to ensure a win, but allowing three others to play who normally wouldn't play in an A-Conference match.
I wouldn't have ever said to him, "Hey, tell your kids not to make any birdies today or beat any of my players 6-up on either side." What fundamental progress can a golfer make if he's asked to go into a match and then told, "Don't play aggressively today"?
We took our 21-0 losses with our heads up and vowed to try and improve, little by little. In 2010, the team scored a total of just 4.5 points in 9 matches. The following season, with mostly the same players, that same group scored 17.5 points in 8 matches. We got better, even if we were still losing.
I think we're doing it wrong when we create rules in youth sports that don't allow the participants to experience "real life".
I don't want my son's indoor soccer team to lose 9-1 this Saturday, but the reality is, they might. And speaking of indoor soccer, the league my son's team plays in also has a goofy rule. If you fall behind by 5 goals, you're allowed to put an extra player on the field.
In one way, I like that rule, because it gives another kid a chance to play. But in reality, what it's saying is: "You're team is down by five goals and we don't want to see you get blown out, so we'll create an advantage and hope to mitigate the damage." I don't like that concept, honestly.
These CYO basketball teams -- one step away from high school -- are doing it wrong. The coaches are there to make the players better. Do we want every kid to enjoy his or her experience? You bet. But it's a terrible message, and an extremely confusing one, when you say, "OK now. Go in there and play, but forget about everything we worked on at practice last Saturday."
There has to be a better way to do it.
We got it started here yesterday with the first of my "perfect albums", Billy Joel's 1977 release, "The Stranger". My friend Tony Lombardi from Russell Street Report chimed in with his thoughts and his FOUR perfect albums.
As you'll see below, local musician Dennis Schocket adds to the commentary today as he breaks down his perfect album. Tomorrow, Mark Mussina chimes in. He has a few "perfect" albums to introduce to you.
When I first started this project, I found three perfect albums. I've since added a fourth. These are in no order, by the way, although I guess it's safe to say I'm saving the best for last.
My second entry is an amazing record from the band "No Doubt". Tragic Kingdom is a Hall of Fame album. I mean that. If music had a Hall of Fame for albums, this one would make it on the first ballot. There's not one bad song on the record. I've listened to it 1,000 times in my life and I've never skipped a song or discovered one that I didn't like. It's......perfect.
It earned a Grammy nomination for best album in 1995 and featured no fewer than three hit songs; Spiderwebs, Just A Girl and Don't Speak.
My favorites? Happy Now?, Sunday Morning and End It Like This.
And now we hear from the great Dennis Schocket:
Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” is a perfect album and here’s why:
Petty said it was his "divorce album" and 10 years after it’s release, it would also become mine.
Every track is stunning. Some because of their simplicity. Some, their power. Still others because of their emotion. Let’s go through it track by track.
Wildflowers: Gentle. Beautiful and sweet. Perfect for a summer day. With the lyric “You belong among the wildflowers. You belong on a boat out at sea. You belong with your love on your arm. You belong somewhere you feel free”, you’re committed immediately.
You Don’t Know How It Feels: Quirky. Funny, with a smirk. “Let’s get to the point. Let’s roll another joint.” Nothing else need be said after that lyric.
Time To Move On: Divorce means new adventures and new headaches. This song should be played whenever you quit or get fired from a job. Its also beautiful.
You Wreck Me: It just effing ROCKS! Next…
It’s Good To Be King: First, it’s based on a Mel Brooks line so it’s killer already. It’s also a sultry little swamp rocker, perfectly placed on the album. It also rocks hard when it has to.
Only a Broken Heart: Simply put, it’s sad and moody. It’s also gorgeous.
Honey Bee: RAWK!!! And Petty uses a funny hillbilly accent. So its cool.
Don’t Fade On Me: Dropped D tuning that would be comfortable on a pre-Buckingham Fleetwood Mac record. Understated and heartfelt.
Hard on Me: Sweet song of desperation. Chordally brilliant.
Cabin Down Below: Petty’s trying to get some on his boat. Cool guitar riff and great, understated vocal.
To Find a Friend: Saddest song on the album. “In the middle of his life. He left his wife and ran off to be bad. Boy it was sad.” Yep. That’s why it became my divorce album.
A Higher Place: With it’s “Cherry Cherry” chords, it just flat out grooves. It's inspirational.
Crawling Back To You: Expressing years of regret born from settling. Been there. It’s also a really pretty song.
Wake Up Time: Orchestrated perfectly. Song of hope. Great album ender.
"Wildflowers" was the best work of Petty’s career. Hands down.
Yes, it’s a perfect album.
"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld
|DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.|
No doubt all of you read Dale Williams’ comprehensive previews and recaps of Maryland basketball games here at #DMD. Dale’s recent anecdote about an eavesdropping Bruno Fernando was pure gold; I admire the kid’s sense of humor now almost as much as I admire his game.
The Terps, and just about every other Division I team, are now more than three-quarters of the way through their regular season. So here’s a reminder for you—it’s college basketball season! The NCAA tournament begins in earnest six weeks from today.
The Super Bowl is old news. Even if the Orioles weren’t going to lose 100 games, the excitement of the season opener in the Bronx would still be seven weeks away.
So I’m going to try to pay attention, and not just to Maryland. Need a quick refresher on where we are now? Here you go…
I hate to start with Duke, but the following things have been said about Zion Williamson, now entering the final stretch of his short playing career for the Blue Devils.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen individual gifted talent like that come through our building.” – Mike Brey, Notre Dame
“It’s hard to defend him, he’s a physical specimen. He’s like Charles Barkley, except he shoots better than Charles did. I haven’t really seen any player like him.” – Jim Boeheim, Syracuse
“There’s never been anybody like him to play basketball.” – Jay Bilas, ESPN
Notice that none of those men said that Williamson is the best player they’ve ever seen. His teammate and classmate, Canadian R.J. Barrett, may even be drafted ahead of Williamson. Zion is for sure the biggest phenom in recent history, though, and it’s not like he’s not living up to the billing.
22 games into the season, he’s shooting almost 70 percent from the field. He’s averaging 22 points and 10 rebounds per game in just 29 minutes per game. He doesn’t really belong in the college game, but he’s there, and he’s definitely worth watching.
If you’re interested in someone that plays anywhere but Duke, I’d suggest a kid named
Ja Morant, who plays for the less famous Murray State Racers. In 2017, Morant appeared on no watch lists or draft boards, which is quite normal for a recruit headed to Murray State. In 2019, the 6-foot-3, 175-lb. guard is likely to be drafted in the top five. He’s on track to become the first player in 35 years in Division I to average more than 20 points and 10 assists per game.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Tennessee has been ranked No. 1 in both the AP and coaches’ polls for the last three weeks. Yes, Tennessee, a program that has made the NCAA tournament just twice since Bruce Pearl was fired in 2011. The Volunteers have never made the Final Four.
The current Volunteers have lost just once in 22 games, in overtime to Kansas in November, and have a legitimate chance to finish 18-0 in the SEC.
Rick Barnes’ team has two absolute studs in Grant Williams and Admiral(yes, Admiral) Schofield, who combine to score nearly 40 points per game. The Vols have won conference games by margins of 46, 24, and 22, though they still have to play Kentucky twice.
Speaking of the Wildcats, they’re about as under-the-radar as John Calipari’s team has ever been, even though their record is 19-3. It’s Duke that has all the great “one-and-dones” this year, and maybe some people are still spooked by one score: Duke 118, Kentucky 84, in a game in Chicago that took place more than three months ago.
Meanwhile, the Pac 12 may do something unheard of among the Power Six (in basketball, the Big East joins the typical Power Five). There still a good chance that only one Pac 12 team, the one that wins the conference tournament, will make the NCAA tournament.
For now, Washington has distanced itself from the rest of the league; at 9-0, the Huskies are already three games ahead halfway through the conference season. Their résumé, however, is quite spotty. They played four games against likely NCAA tournament teams in non-conference play and lost all of them. Unlike most teams in the major conferences, they only have two games left that are opportunities for “good” wins.
If the Huskies win the league tournament in Las Vegas, will anyone else get in? If the Huskies don’t win the tournament, will they get in as an at-large team? These are questions yet to be answered, which is shocking for the Pac 12 in February.
Back on the East Coast, in the league we formerly cared about, Virginia is on its way to another No. 1 seed, which would be its fourth in the last six seasons. Once again, the Cavaliers might be the best team in the country while also being the team that plays more slowly than anyone. One thing to ponder—if Tony Bennett’s team had the services of De’Andre Hunter against UMBC last season, the Cavaliers probably wouldn’t have lost the game.
Virginia hosts Duke on Saturday, looking to avenge its only loss of the season in Durham three weeks ago, then plays at North Carolina 48 hours later. The Tar Heels are strangely under the radar like Kentucky, but they’ve only lost once in their first nine conference games.
Locally, the aforementioned Retrievers are the only squad anywhere near the top of its league. At 6-3 in America East, Ryan Odom’s team is game behind Stony Brook and two games behind Vermont. A couple weeks back, for the second visit in a row, UMBC won at Vermont, a team that KenPom ranks ahead of most of the teams in the Pac 12. The Retrievers have been buoyed by point guard K.J. Jackson, a transfer from a junior college in Texas.
Quick props to Juan Dixon and Coppin State, now above .500 in the MEAC after beating Morgan State on Saturday. The Eagles lost their first 15 games this season on their typical road trips for dollars.
Getting back to teams that might be able to win a national championship, Gonzaga is even better than the rest of the West Coast Conference than it usually is, as Saint Mary’s has dropped a level this season. The Zags have won conference games by 59, 43, 31 and 30. 6-foot-8 Brandon Clarke is having one of the better individual seasons in Division I. Teammate Rui Hachimura, born to a Japanese mother and a father from Africa, is a future NBA star. When the Zags played Duke in Maui early this season, Hachimura was the best player on the floor.
As for last season’s national champion, Villanova is undefeated in Big East play after an uneven non-conference season; the Wildcats lost to Furman at home and saw a long winning streak in Philly Big Five games end with a loss to Penn at the Palestra.
Baltimore’s Phil Booth, from Mount St. Joseph, is a veteran backcourt presence for Jay Wright’s team; at 23, he seems like he’s been there for a decade. Booth is one of the better three-point shooters in the country this year.
Among the non-Power Six teams that are playing like Power Six teams, Nevada, which made the Sweet 16 last season, is 22-1. Houston, coached by the formerly disgraced Kelvin Sampson, has the exact same record. The fast-paced Bulls of the University at Buffalo have been highly-ranked all year, though they’ve actually lost two conference games and currently sit behind Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference standings.
Finally, in the conference we’re supposed to be watching, Michigan State sure looked like the class of the Big 10, though they’ve now lost three in a row and will have to do without Josh Langford for the rest of the season. Don’t get me wrong, Michigan is very good as well, especially on defense, though I wonder if the Wolverines can match their postseason success of the last two years.
The power rankings would tell you that both Purdue and Wisconsin are great teams, but I’d say they’re just really well-coached teams that each have one great player. The Boilermakers’ Carsen Edwards and the Badgers’ Ethan Happ are certainly among the nation’s top players who don’t play for Duke, but how far each of them takes his team into the postseason is a big question.
The Maryland Terps, big winners on the road last night against a struggling Nebraska team, are going to be back in the NCAA tournament in 2019 after a one-year hiatus. How well they might do there could depend on freshman Jalen Smith, aka Stix, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the win over the Cornhuskers.
If he plays well, Maryland has a unique pair of big men who can cause matchup nightmares for any team in the country.
dale williams aims
|DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.|
The University of Maryland basketball team defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers last night, 60-45, but I’m not sure if the Terps beat Nebraska or if Nebraska beat Nebraska.
In the nearly five-year history of the Pinnacle Bank Arena (better known as the Vault), last night’s shooting effort by the Cornhuskers was the worst ever in that building.
Nebraska connected on just 21% of their shots while making just 6 field goals in each half. Even with Maryland staggering through a poor shooting night of their own (38%), their 60 points were more than enough to coast to Big Ten road win.
It came as no surprise that Nebraska, who will play out the remainder of their season without center Isaac Copeland, had no answer for the Terps front court duo of Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. The two Terp “bigs” combined for 31 points and 30 rebounds. Copeland’s replacement, Tanner Borchardt, gave a valiant effort with his 6 rebounds and no made field goals, but was no match for Maryland’s interior players. He didn’t get much help from his teammates, either.
Isaiah Roby scored 20 points for the hosts, but only 7 of those came in the second half. He was 3 for 10 after halftime and 7 of 22 for the game. The Cornhuskers’ leading scorer, James Palmer, was a woeful 2-13 from the field and 8 of his 12 points came from the foul line.
Glynn Watson Jr went 0 for 10 from the field and has connected on just 5 of his last 32 shots. Nebraska had three starters that combined for a total of 3 points. It was an ugly offensive performance by the ‘Huskers, who lost their 6th straight game.
In the first half, Maryland used a 15-0 run over an 8-minute span to turn a 15-8 deficit into an 8-point lead, 23-15. Nebraska made just one field goal over the last 11:51 of the half. Only a seven to one advantage from the foul line kept the Cornhuskers from going to the locker room in a double-digit hole.
Mount Saint Joseph grad Jalen Smith provided the spark that ignited the Terps’ first half comeback. He produced 11 straight points and was the lone bright spot for Maryland’s first half offense. Smith connected on 5 of 11 shots in the half while his teammates hit just 7 of 21 from the floor (33%) and just 3 of 11 (27%) from the three-point line. The freshman was also the only Terp to go to the foul line, hitting just 1 of 3 foul shots. Nebraska went to the charity strip twelve times, but only could cash in seven times.
Isaiah Roby was the entire offensive show for Nebraska in the first half. He had 13 of his team’s 20 points and accounted for 4 of their 6 made field goals.
When Eric Ayala hit a three on Maryland’s first possession of the second half to give them a 31-20 lead, it looked like the Terps would run away from the Cornhuskers. They eventually did, but not before Nebraska put a slight scare into Mark Turgeon’s young team.
Four consecutive made foul shots by Palmer, a Roby three, and an athletic jumper in the lane by Palmer had Nebraska right back in the game. The 9-0 run was halted by a Turgeon timeout. The score was 31-29 and the crowd started to get excited. The excitement didn’t last very long though.
Immediately following the timeout, Aaron Wiggins hit what I thought was the biggest shot of the game when he buried a deep three-pointer from the left wing. That shot began a 17-4 run that essentially ended the game. The Terps would stretch the lead to 20 points, 55-35, with 6:22 remaining. Without Nebraska possessing the arsenal to score a bunch of points quickly, Maryland was able to drift home from that point on.
Maryland’s big men were so dominant, and Nebraska’s shooting was so bad, that almost forgotten was the 2 for 10 shooting performance from Anthony Cowan. This type of poor shooting is hardly an anomaly, lately, for Cowan. He has managed to make only 30% of his shots over his last 7 games. He’s only made 29% of his threes over the same period.
The Terps will struggle to acquire quality conference wins with that type of performance from their junior guard. It’s no small coincidence that the team has won just 4 of the 7 games played during his slump.
Also masked last night was abysmal Terrapin foul shooting. They made just 9 of 18 foul shots with Smith and Cowan each hitting just 1 of 3. It’s the second consecutive game where the normally reliable Terp foul shooting wasn’t above 50%.
Conference road wins are hard to come by, and shouldn’t be easily dismissed no matter the opponent.
But Maryland caught Nebraska at the right time. Things won’t be so easy next week when Maryland looks to get redemption for their early season loss against a red-hot Purdue team.
The Boilermakers have won 8 of their last 9 games, with 6 of those wins by 10 points or more. Included in that run are double digit wins against Iowa and Michigan State. Maryland takes on Purdue at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the XFINITY Center. Purdue has to face Nebraska this Friday before traveling to College Park.
Some radical changes to baseball are potentially on the way, including several which could drastically alter game strategies in both leagues. These proposed changes aren't official just yet, but it appears some or all of them will be part of on-going discussions between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player's Association.
Without it being said, the rule changes mostly lean in the direction of improving pace of play. Baseball, like football, is hung up on the fact that the game these days is too long, and the young generation they covet so much simply no longer has the attention span to sit through four pitching changes in one inning or a 14-inning game.
There's some truth to the "game is too long" stuff. But, as I've outlined time and time again in football discussions here at #DMD, there are plenty of ways to speed up baseball without having to endanger the integrity of the game. MLB got smart a couple of years ago and started allowing intentional walks to simply be granted with a signal from the dugout, with pitchers no longer required to go through the silly process of throwing four pitches high and outside to execute the free pass.
Here's a quick look at several of the proposed significant rule changes being discussed by the two leagues, with some DF commentary in there for good measure.
A three-batter minimum for pitchers -- This rule would all but eliminate the one-out-left-handed-relief-pitcher. There's an asterisk on this rule, too. A pitcher can come in and face one batter as long as that at-bat ends the inning. I'm not 100% sure I like this one, but it's clear that it would help speed up the game.
A universal designated hitter -- I actually prefer National League baseball to American League baseball, overall, but I also think having one league employ a DH and one not employing a DH is goofy. Figure it out and make it "universal". And in this case, because jobs are at stake, there's no doubt which way MLB and the MLBPA will go.
A single trade deadline before the All-Star break -- This is a good rule. I always thought it cheapened championships when teams acquired rental players for two months. I get it, the All-Star Game deadline isn't that much different than July 31, but it has a "half-a-season" feel to it.
A 20-second pitch clock -- Another rule obviously designed to speed up the game. I guess I'm OK with this. 20 seconds seems like a quick pitch-to-pitch transition, but maybe that's the intention in the first place.
The expansion of rosters to 26 men, with a 12-pitcher maximum -- I couldn't care less about this. But maybe that's because the Orioles almost never have 25 good players anyway. One more middle-of-the-road dude isn't going to change anything. But I understand that the MLBPA would covet having another job made available to their dues payers.
Draft advantages for winning teams and penalties for losing teams -- I love this rule. But it potentially smacks parity right in the mouth if the best teams keep on getting some sort of advantage in the draft and are able to turn that advantage into more winning. I'll wait and see how this one is written out in black-and-white before getting up on that hill and planting a flag, but at first blush, I'm a fan of this one.
A study to lower the mound -- This one is more of a "study" than a proposed rule change. Let's see what the study shows and go from there.
A rule that would allow two-sport amateurs to sign major league contracts -- I don't care at all about this one unless my son suddenly learns how to throw a baseball 98 miles per hour and also becomes a draft-worthy college football tight end. Neither are going to happen.
I like that baseball is trying to do something to get the games into the 2 hour and 45 minute region on a regular basis. I think that's ambitious, but the thinking is solid. But working really hard to get the games near the sub-three-hour-mark, you're well on your way to having baseball take less time than football, which right now routinely sees games take 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete.
Now...about that rule to change or limit the shift.
Which proposed rule change do you like best? Please vote below in our #DMD reader's poll.
There was lots of activity here on Tuesday when we first released the "perfect album" idea. I saw that someone noted they could probably find 70 perfect albums. That seems like quite a lot of perfection to me, but as a number of you noted, "perfection" is in the eye of the beholder...or in this case, the listener.
I think I've found three perfect albums. Now, I'll be the first to say I haven't listened to every album ever made, nor have I heard every album front-to-back that many of you listed below in the Comments section. But my careful evaluation has yielded three perfect albums.
One of them is Billy Joel's 1977 classic, The Stranger.
There's not a song on this album you'd skip, although I think it's fair to note that the album's final tune, "Everybody has a Dream", is appropriately placed at the end of the record. But from start to finish, the nine songs are an extraordinary work of art, including the remarkable story telling of "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" and the poignant "She's Always A Woman".
My favorite song? That's easy. It's "Vienna".
Billy Joel's "The Stranger" is a perfect album.
My friend Tony Lombardi of the outstanding Ravens website Russell Street Report kicks off our series of guest contributors with his thoughts below on the pursuit of identifying "the perfect album".
The perfect album.
Does it exist?
I suppose on some level, that just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is the perfect album to the ear of its discerning listener. But just as everyone defines beauty in their own way influenced by personal preferences, the same music can trigger different levels of enjoyment or disdain, depending upon one’s own tastes.
Music in many ways is the color of sound and everyone has their own favorite color.
When Drew posed the question to me, “Is there a perfect album?”, my knee-jerk response was to say, “Abbey Road” by The Beatles. It’s my favorite album of all time and for me it never gets old. But I have to admit that it’s not the perfect album. An album with Octopus’ Garden can’t be.
So, what is a perfect album?
I thought for a minute of the days when I had my first quality turntable. You’d drop the needle on that carefully buffed vinyl, close the dust cover and make yourself comfortable for the next 25 minutes or so, until it was time to flip the record to Side B. In this kind of setting, the perfect album would be one that you enjoy immensely but did not contain a single song that you’d want to skip over. And in those album listening days, that meant getting up, lifting the dust cover, picking up the tone arm and carefully dropping the stylus in the groove that separated two tracks/songs.
So, is there an album, for me, that may not be my favorite but still be THE perfect album?
I considered U2’s Joshua Tree and as strong as the first 9 tracks are, the last two, “Exit” and “Mothers of the Disappeared”, make me glad they aren’t presented as tracks 4 and 7 because that would mean having to get up and reposition the needle.
Led Zeppelin II was given some consideration but there is one track that loses me given the extensive drum solo by John Bonham – Moby Dick.
I kicked a few others around as well, such as Bad Company’s debut and the follow up, Straight Shooter. There were a few others but ultimately, I landed on four that fit the description of “perfect album”:
4. Hotel California by The Eagles
3. Wildflowers by Tom Petty
2. Who’s Next by The Who
1. Revolver by The Beatles
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to let Revolver spin around for a bit while I turn off my mind, relax and float downstream…
Tomorrow: local musician Dennis Schocket chimes in with his "perfect album".
dale williams aims
The Nebraska Cornhuskers had lost back to back games to Michigan State and Rutgers before the real big blow to their season was delivered in their next game, a loss to Ohio State.
During the opening seconds of the second half against the Buckeyes, Isaac Copeland, Nebraska’s starting center suffered a season ending knee injury. Why he decided to go up for a dead-ball dunk after being whistled for traveling is anybody’s guess. But he did and when he landed awkwardly, his college career was over.
Nebraska followed the Ohio State loss with a home loss to Wisconsin and a road loss at Illinois. They now face Maryland and then 15th ranked Purdue. Kenpom.com still has them ranked as the 27th team in the nation, but 6 of their last 9 games will be played against ranked teams, and they’ll do so without their second leading scorer and rebounder. What once was a very promising Cornhusker season has quickly turn into a nightmare.
The job of stopping Bruno Fernando will fall upon the broad shoulders of Copeland’s replacement, Tanner Borchardt. Against Illinois, in his most recent role as a starter, Borchardt put up some gaudy numbers. He hauled down 18 rebounds (11 offensive) and scored 12 points on 6 for 9 shooting. His performance wasn’t enough to keep the Fighting Illini from beating the ‘Huskers, but those 11 offensive rebounds were mighty impressive.
Fernando had his way with Copeland in their game on January 2nd in the XFINITY Center and I expect an even bigger contribution tonight. His 18 points four weeks ago were mostly accomplished with one-on-one moves in, and around, the paint. Nebraska decided to not double Bruno when he received the ball down low. After seeing what Fernando did to Copeland, I see no way that Nebraska’s head coach, Tim Miles, allows Borchardt to check Fernando by himself.
I think Nebraska would rather see Fernando passing the ball (he had 6 turnovers in the first game) instead of making continued isolation moves close the basket.
Nebraska still has seniors Glynn Watson Jr and James Palmer Jr. They also have the real solid junior, Isaiah Roby. All three players are high caliber, quality pieces, but without the inside presence of Copeland, this team is not the same.
Assuming they don’t get into foul trouble, Palmer and Roby will play almost the entire 40 minutes. Borchardt, Thomas Allen, and Watson all will get over 30 minutes each. The Nebraska bench offers little help or size. Fatigue will be an issue.
The key to Terp success tonight is transition defense. Nebraska, outside of Palmer, doesn’t fare well when having to create their own shot. They need to get down court quickly and score before the defenders can match-up. If Maryland plays solid transition defense, this game is a win for them.
Nebraska has lost 5 in a row and 7 of their last 9 games. They certainly are desperate for a win, but so is Maryland. The Cornhuskers have a solid trio, but little help after that. Their bench is thin and they will throw at Bruno Fernando a player with little experience. They aren’t an exceptional three-point shooting team and their quickness at the guard spot isn’t overwhelming either.
With Maryland’s next three games being #15 Purdue at home, #7 Michigan on the road, and then #20 Iowa on the road, the Terps know the importance of tonight’s contest in Lincoln. Earlier in the year I wrote that Nebraska had more talent than Maryland, without Copeland that changes.
The inside match-up with Fernando and Borchardt is so overwhelmingly in Maryland’s favor, that I see Maryland controlling this game.
The line for this game is a bit odd. With Nebraska being a 1-point road favorite when they played the Terps in Maryland, it would be normal to see a line close to Nebraska -9 for this game in the Cornhusker’s home. But the line came out as Nebraska -1 and then moved to -2. That tells me the odds makers know how important Copeland is to this team. They can’t hang with the Terps without him.
Tonight, starting at 7 p.m., I’d like to see Fernando get at least 15 shots and Anthony Cowan get 10 or less. I’d like to see Maryland play alert transition defense and I’d like to see them run whenever they can. I’d also like to see Jalen Smith finish inside (if only he’d jump hard on his attempts near the rim instead of meekly elevating about 4 inches).
If the Terps can accomplish those things, they will hand Nebraska their 6th straight loss. A score of 70-63 in favor of the Terps sounds about right.
Denny's served everyone in Atlanta free breakfast on Monday morning. That massive egg that Rams' quarterback Jared Goff laid on Sunday night was apparently big enough to feed the entire city.
Goff wasn't the first quarterback to have an "off game" in his Super Bowl debut, mind you. But his performance on Sunday night wasn't "off". It was "awful".
Ben Roethlisberger's ragged 9-for-21 performance in the Steelers' win over Seattle in 2006 looked like a quarterbacking gem compared to what Goff authored on Sunday night vs. the Patriots. And the funny part is, Goff actually threw for 229 yards on Sunday. But his quarterback rating of 57.9 told the true story, not those passing stats that were beefed up by a late flurry helped in part by New England's soft, prevent defense.
Rex Grossman authored a similar gag job in his Super Bowl debut, with a quarterback rating of 68.3 back in 2007 when the Bears lost to the Colts. You probably forgot that Rex Grossman actually started and played in a Super Bowl. So did everyone else.
Goff's performance on Sunday will go down as one of the all-time worst big game stinkers, but here's hoping he gets a chance to clean up that mess and go on to bigger and better things. Before Sunday night, I didn't know much about that kid. I knew he was the #1 pick, I knew he had burst onto the scene with a decent 2017 season, and I saw first-hand on a variety of occasions this past season that he was quickly piling up some impressive stats throwing the ball.
But what I didn't know about him is that he has integrity. And character. I learned that about him after the game on Sunday.
In my years of being involved in sports (17 working in the soccer business and 12 on the radio), I've seen plenty of guys who slithered out of the locker room after a loss, particularly when their questionable play might have contributed to the team's defeat. I saw soccer and football players summon the athletic trainer for a "private meeting" just as the media entered the locker room. I knew the little side rooms at Ravens Stadium where certain All-Pro players would duck into after the game if they didn't want to answer questions. Some of them had windows, so it wasn't all that hard to see those guys, honestly.
Lots of players are eager to talk after a win. There was a long-since-departed Ravens cornerback, a really good one, who was famous for speaking at length after a victory and conveniently "seeing the trainer" after a loss. It became a running joke in the media.
It takes a special athlete to face the music after a loss. Let's be honest, especially in today's social media world where every single word is broken down, analyzed, and inspected, speaking to the media is a dangerous job. And on most occasions, especially if your play impacted the team's inability to win, you're likely getting roasted more than you deserve.
I've been in the Super Bowl post-game-arena before. To say that it's bedlam would probably be just a shade inaccurate. It's worse than that. But bedlam fits. The star players are ushered into a temporary structure that almost resembles one large horse stall, with barriers up to separate the 10 players or so from each team who are asked to speak to reporters en masse after the game. This being the Super Bowl and all, you don't leave until the last question is asked. Oh, and you're still in uniform, by the way. You barely have time to pee and hug a teammate before a PR guy from the team is whisking you to the room to face the media.
When Jared Goff was finishing on Sunday night, roughly one hour after the game, a reporter approached him. "I wasn't able to get over to you," he explained. "Is there any way you can just give me five minutes?"
Goff said, "Come on in," as he opened the locker room door. "I'll tell you whatever I can."
"What really stings for me, especially as a quarterback, is that our defense played so well -- and I wasn't able to deliver," Goff told reporter Mike Silver. "It was me. It was our offense. And we -- well, I -- couldn't do my part."
There are more quotes, more explanations and more words, but you get the picture.
Jared Goff is only 24. I think he'll get back there again. But on this night, when he had the chance to reach football's pinnacle, he failed miserably. What he didn't do, though, was disappear.
Given the opportunity to hide or stand up and take responsibility, he did just that. And not only did he do it, he did it over and over and over. And when he needed to do it one final time because a reporter wasn't able to catch him at a more convenient time, he did it yet again.
"Come on in. I'll tell you whatever I can." It sounds to me like Goff was still searching for answers himself, and by talking about it more, perhaps he'd uncover exactly what had transpired earlier in the night.
Whatever the case, Jared Goff is a stand-up man. He might not be a champion yet, but he's a stand-up guy, that's for sure.
Someday he'll get back to that big game -- maybe next year, even -- and, unless he's facing the Ravens, I'll be pulling hard for Jared Goff.
I'll admit from the start, I'm borrowing this idea from the internet. From Twitter, to be precise.
I saw this thread last week and, for some reason, really got captured by the whole thing. Someone on Twitter asked, "Has there ever been a perfect album made?"
There were thousands and thousands of responses. There were arguments, first, about what "perfect" actually means. Then were album submissions and arguments about those, too. It's the internet...if you're not arguing about something, you're not trying.
So I'm going to make this a week-long project here at #DMD. I've summoned some friends of mine to participate, names you probably know. I've asked Dennis Schocket to be involved, the local musician whose band, Starbelly, is extremely popular. Mark Mussina, brother of now Hall of Fame pitcher Mike Mussina, will hop in with his contribution. I'm hoping we'll hear from Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN.com, a music fanatic like me.
I'm interested to have you get involved, too.
But first, just so you know, here's my own definition of "perfect". Is there an album that you play where every single song can stand on its own and essentially be in the discussion as one of the best songs on the album? Every song. If there's an album (and I'll give several examples this week) with 11 songs and you love 10 of them, but routinely skip past one because it's just not that good, you do not have a perfect album.
Throughout this week, I'm going to use baseball terms when describing my chase for perfection. You'll hear the term "one hitter" a lot, which means, obviously, the album is close to perfect, but someone got a hit in the 8th inning that ruined it.
I'll give you an example of a one-hitter. Live's "Throwing Copper" was a 1992 release that wound up being ranked the 2nd best album of the 1990's by Rolling Stone Magazine. It's a remarkable record. And it's almost perfect. But the first song stinks. "The Dam At Otter Creek" is awful. Why it's the first song on the album is beyond me, but nonethless, it's terrible. And it turns the album from perfection to a one-hitter.
The rest of Throwing Copper was brilliant. But that one song...
I've spent the last five days casually going through my collection and thinking long and hard -- with the help of YouTube -- about this idea of a "perfect album". I have, I believe, found three of them.
I'll reveal my first one tomorrow here at #DMD, along with Dennis Schocket's entry.
I hope you'll play along this week and offer your own thoughts on the idea of a perfect album existing. If you do contribute via the comments section, feel free to write a review of sorts. I'm genuinely interested in your thoughts on this and hope you'll write more rather than less about it.
from the desk of
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.
I don't know when it happened, but at some point I just stopped hating the Patriots and evolved to a not-even-begrudging appreciation for them.
Maybe it's a passing of time thing, or maybe it's just having to devote a lot of time and thought to writing about a variety of sports topics but anymore it seems as though I find myself appreciating great moments and competitors almost as much as cheering on any one particular thing, and its hard to beat Brady and Belichick for that.
Brady just won a Super Bowl at 41 years old. Last year he won the MVP award at 40. That's unprecedented, a word that's close to becoming synonymous with Brady. Yeah he's easy to root against, but it's also good to take in the fact that you're watching someone do remarkable things you'll probably never see again.
The same goes for Belichick, who is quickly putting to rest the idea that there's even a debate as to who is the greatest coach of all time. I actually thought Belichick might be getting burnt out at the end of last year amid reports that he was angry at having to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, was feuding with Brady and pushing away Gronk, and then of course the bizarre decision to hold his best defensive back out of the Super Bowl. And yet, here they are again, hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after another masterful performance by Belichick in putting together a gameplan and executing perfectly timed calls for an entire game.
It's just remarkable what we've been watching for nearly two decades now, and we're never going to see anything like this again.
If you ask me, the real stars of Sunday's game were Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. It's not easy to sell a stinker of a game to an audience and seem genuine in the process, but like just about everything else he does in the booth Romo pulled it off. Yeah his predictive ability is impressive when he's on, but if you ask me the thing that makes Romo a winner as a broadcaster is his enthusiasm. He always manages to come across like he's having fun at any game, that he loves what he's doing, and that there's nowhere else in the world he'd rather be in that moment.
And Nantz has proven to be a perfect sidekick to that persona. Last night they were casually joking and laughing about what a dull game it was which, let''s admit it, is what the rest of us were doing too. I think most broadcasters would have a difficult time balancing acknowledging the lack of action with trying to stay serious and not make you want to change the channel by being overly negative. Well Romo and Nantz certainly found that balance. Their light-hearted joking was refreshingly candid but, at the same time, they conveyed that they were having fun all the same. And why not, right? It's still a football game after all! Not the most exciting one I've ever seen to be sure, but it kept me engaged all the same, and the announcing team had a lot to do with that.
If we need to talk about the lowlights of the game, and we do, can someone explain to me what all the hype over Sean McVay is already? I don't get it. At all.
Don't get me wrong he's a good coach, but to hear some people tell it he's dramatically revolutionizing the game or at least working miracles with the Rams. Again, I don't get it. He's got a first overall pick for a quarterback, and the best defensive player in football in Aaron Donald.
His front office has invested a lot of cap space and future draft capital in stocking the roster in the short term. He's also got one of the best defensive coordinators of all time on his staff. He's doing a good job to be sure, but he's not making chicken salad out of...caca. And last night he got absolutely whipped from beginning to end and in every facet of game planning by Belichick. It didn't even look like he had any idea how to adjust by the time the 4th quarter rolled around.
Speaking of ugly performances, I hope Ravens' fans keep Jared Goff's stinker in mind for no reason other than that Goff is not a bad quarterback. He's a former first overall pick. He's put up big numbers in McVay's offense, which is largely tailored to his skills as an Air Raid quarterback. He's had success in his two years after his rookie year (which coincides with getting away from Jeff Fisher) and he's led the Rams to two division titles and, obviously, a Super Bowl.
But Sunday night he was bad. Reaaaaaalllllly bad. He couldn't find open receivers, was indecisive with the ball in the pocket, and most of all never got a handle on what the Patriots were doing upfront. As Romo continually pointed out, Goff was completely unable to identify which Patriots' were rushing all game long, and that kept him from developing any real rhythm or comfort. Ultimately the game was summed up by his anemic interception that ended a potential game tying drive and effectively clinched the game for New England, as he simply hurled a meager deep ball into the air against an all out New England blitz.
I bring this up because it will be worth remembering if and when Lamar Jackson has a similar clunker of a game over the next season or two. Goff isn't a bad quarterback, he's capable of doing the things he couldn't do Sunday night, but this just wasn't his game. That happens to almost everyone. So if a bad Ravens loss leads to a weak of talking about how things have to be done or an endless relitigation of all of the things Jackson supposedly can't do well....take a second and remember this all-time terrible performance by a former top pick in the Super Bowl.
Is there really an argument over whether Julian Edelman is a future Hall of Famer? That's a real thing, and not people making fun of other people's tendency to overreact to overrated awards like Super Bowl MVPs? In case you haven't bothered to look, Edelman has 5,390 total career receiving yards over 9 total seasons and hes never caught more than 7 touchdown passes in a single season.
If you're argument for Edelman rests on winning Super Bowls then you're merely conceding that he wouldn't have a case if he played for, say, Atlanta instead of New England. I might be willing to give some weight to the postseason stuff as a push over the edge to a close candidacy, but Edelman is nowhere close to being a Hall of Famer. Just stop.
And finally, speaking of the Hall of Fame, how cool is it not only that Ed Reed is the Ravens' third first-ballot inductee, but that he's going in one year after Ray Lewis? That's just fitting.
On the other hand, I want to take a second to lament that Steve Hutchinson and Alan Faneca once again didn't get the call, which is just a travesty. The Hall of Fame voters finally took a step in the right direction by inducting Kevin Mawae, but they fell short yet again in terms of the two guards who made the first team All-Decade team for the 2000's.
Here's a fun stat: Hutchinson has as many first team All-Pro selections in his career as Champ Bailey and Ty Law combined....and Faneca has more. I generally think the Hall of Fame voters do a very good job with their process and certainly take things more seriously than baseball's HoF electorate does, but they continue to do a really poor job of evaluating candidates who didn't play positions that created lots of opportunities to get your name dropped on television, with interior offensive linemen being the most aggrieved.
And if you're a Ravens fan who can't wait to book a trip to Canton for Marshal Yanda's induction well, that's the biggest reason why you might never see that happen.
The Super Bowl was super boring.
The wrong team won. Again.
The commercials, overhyped as always, were definitely hit or miss. Only Gladys Knight's sublime rendition of the National Anthem saved all of the "non football stuff" from being tragically forgettable.
The halftime show was an embarrassment. Travis Scott had more bleeped out words in his four minutes on stage than the Rams had first downs in the opening half. I'm a rap music "fan" of sorts, but if you can't do a 4-minute presentation without having to be censored, that's a sign that it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
And the game was a presentation of punts, 3rd down failures and a coaching job for the ages.
History will show that Julian Edelman won the MVP award in the Patriots' 13-3 victory. But we all know who should have captured that honor on Sunday night. New England coach Bill Belichick, that's who.
Belichick and his defensive coordinator -- and today, Miami Dolphins head coach -- Brian Flores threw a series of different looks at Sean McVay, Jared Goff and the Rams offense. They were confused right from the start and never did figure it out. "There's no other way to say it," McVay said after the loss. "I got outcoached."
McVay will likely take solace in the realization that he's not the first coach to get run out of the gym by Belichick and his cast of characters. It's happened a lot over the years. And, if we're being honest here, McVay might have needed the hammer-of-humility to wack him on Sunday night. He seemed a little too big for his britches at times. A 13-3 Super Bowl loss might get him back to level.
And the Rams deserve credit, too. They developed a masterpiece game-plan to limit Tom Brady and the New England offense and it worked rather well. As he typically does, Brady figured out a way to nickel and dime his way around it just enough to help the Patriots win, but this victory, while not "tainted" in any way, won't be remembered as one of the vintage Brady performances where his legacy balloons in the aftermath.
If you're looking for a reason to be happy that New England won -- again -- I'd suggest you do what I do: Just assume they can't repeat as champions, since that's so hard to do these days. Yes, I know. If anyone can repeat it's New England. You don't have to tell me.
Meanwhile, anyone with 0's and 3's in the office block pool can buy lunch today. And tomorrow. And all week, practically. It was 0-0, 3-0, 3-3 and 13-3. If you had "3-6" in the fourth quarter, you can thank Rams' kicker Greg Zuerlein for your block pool loss. His 48 yard field goal was woefully hooked to the left late in the game, leaving the final fourth quarter score at 13-3.
Who would have thought that the Sunday golf from TPC Scottsdale would have been more exciting than the Goff we saw in Atlanta on Sunday evening? Well, it was.
A few random thoughts from Super Bore 53, as we wrap up the 2018 season.
I'm not anti-Bill Belichick at all, so it makes it easier for me to cast credit his way. So, I will. The thing I admire most about him is that after every Super Bowl win, he says the exact same thing. "This is all about the players. The players did this." He repeated those words again last night, both on the podium after the game and on his ESPN appearance. "A good player can't overcome a bad coach," he said, when Steve Young and Randy Moss were boasting about Belichick's coaching acumen. "But if you don't have good players, I don't care how good of a coach you are. You can't win. Good players win games."
I was happy to see the referees stay mostly uninvolved. They did start to get a little flag happy in the fourth quarter, but for the most part, they let the guys play. I always subscribe to the playoff hockey mentality when it comes to penalties and such in the post-season. Let them play. If it's really, really obvious or directly impacts the outcome of a play, then call it. Otherwise, leave it alone.
The NFL clearly got on the "social justice" issue on Sunday night, devoting several commercials and promotional spots to the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, players working in the community and so on. The ensuing outcry on social media was almost laughable. For the last three years or so, NFL players have been demanding that the league be more urgent in its support of social justice and racial equality. Then, when they heed those requests and, in fact, do more, the league gets berated on Twitter.
"Promoting social justice while they blackball a player out of the league. You're not fooling me," someone wrote.
"Oh, so now the NFL wants to portray Dr. King as a hero," another person authored.
There's no winning on this issue. When you're not doing as much as people expect or want, you get beat up for it. When you finally do come around and take the reins and "do something", you get beat up for taking so long to do it.
I think I'd rather watch a 13-3 Super Bowl snoozer than endure the constant whining and moaning from people about things that have nothing at all to do with football.
I thought Jim Nantz and Tony Romo did a remarkable job of keeping the punt-a-thon interesting. They even injected some humor along the way, poking fun at the pedestrian nature of the game on several occasions, which is typically a no-no during a sports broadcast. "Always make it seem like the game is better than it really is," announcers are constantly reminded. But there was no glossing over how boring Sunday's game was, and Nantz and Romo did great work balancing the boredom with their responsibility to keep you interested.
"We have points!" Nantz said late in the 3rd quarter when Zuerlein tied the game at 3-3 with a 53-yard field goal. It reminded me of the "Fire!!!!" scene from the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away. "Points...points...we....have.....points!!!!"
But there was also a CBS lowlight as well, and it took place after the game. They sent Tracy Woolfson down to the field to get immediate reaction from Tom Brady, which, as you saw, turned out to be a complete fuster-cluck. Brady hadn't even so much as removed his helmet yet, and there was Woolfson and the camera crew, in his face, tugging at his arm, urging him to answer a question or two. Now, Brady's been there before. He knows the drill. So, it's not like he's going to go sprinting off the field without speaking with Woolfson.
It took Woolfson about four minutes to finally corral Brady, as he was routinely met with hugs, high fives and well wishes. I felt claustrophobic sitting in my living room watching it...I can't imagine how Woolfson and Brady felt.
The whole scene made for awful TV.
And speaking of awful. Look, I understand that Marshawn Lynch marches to the beat of his own drum. I get the shtick. But his embarrassing appearance at the pre-game ceremony for the Walter Payton Award winners was an extraordinary mix of disrespect for Payton and his family, along with the other 29 guys in line with him.
I have no idea what he thought wearing that get-up, hat and backpack was going to accomplish, but it showed a true lack of character from a guy who was there in the first place because he apparently has done some quality work in the Oakland community. Why show up looking like a modern day version of the Peanuts character Pig Pen?
And worst of all was Lynch sitting down when they first announced the ceremony and the award winners. So bush league...
You couldn't have faulted Rickie Fowler for imploding on the back nine yesterday and staggering in with a 41 en-route to coughing up yet another Phoenix Open championship. The 11th hole would have done just about any quality golfer in, let alone Fowler.
But then, something happened.
Fowler didn't collapse. In fact, he righted the ship after that 11th hole calamity, getting up from the mat and turning a 1-shot deficit with five holes to play into a 2-shot win at TPC Scottsdale. I'm not sure if an early February win on a course he favors will serve as a catalyst for a big 2019 for Fowler, but the intestinal fortitude Fowler showed on Sunday could bump him to bigger and better things over the next eight months.
In case you missed it, Rickie was leading by 5 shots when his third shot -- a simple pitch to a downhill pin on the par-4 11th hole -- skidded just past the pin, rolled gently off the green, then picked up steam, raced past a bunker, and then dribbled into the lake that borders the left side of the green. That was a bad break in and of itself. The greens were a little frisky because of the light rain that was falling, so Fowler's delicate chip -- which typically would have ended up no more than six or eight feet from the flag -- wasn't able to get enough spin to keep it on the putting surface.
But what happened next was really bizarre. Fowler took his penalty drop after hitting the ball in the water, then headed back up to the green to check out his next shot. While he was standing on the green, Fowler's ball -- stationary at the time -- gently rolled back down the hill and into the water...again. Rickie was hit with yet another penalty stroke, even though he hadn't done anything at all to influence his ball to move.
A few minutes later, he miraculously made a 15-foot putt to stay one shot ahead.
And here's where the golf gods intervened.
There was no outward show of emotion from Fowler.
No cussing on live TV. No barking at TOUR official Slugger White over his rules decision, the way a certain hot-tempered lefty with two green jackets might have done.
No slamming clubs, kicking the grass, swatting at the water and so on.
Our Calvert Hall golf theme for 2019 is "Stay In It". I preach to my guys that no matter what the circumstances, simply "stay in it".
And that's precisely what Fowler did on the 11th and 12th holes on Sunday. He just "stayed in it". He would go on to bogey the next hole, too, and suddenly he was trailing by a shot after Branden Grace made birdie on the 13th green up ahead.
But Fowler would be rewarded for his patience and his gutsy play. He had 252 yards to the center of the green at the par-5 15th hole, and promptly smashed a 3-wood to 35 feet, where the ensuring 2-putt birdie put him back into a tie with Grace.
He coaxed in a 4 foot par putt at the 16th hole with 27,000 drunk golf fans waiting to boo him for missing it, then unleased a 325 yard drive on the par 4 17th, leaving himself with another 2-putt birdie after reaching the green with his tee-shot.
He hasn't won as much as guys like Spieth and DJ and Justin Thomas, but Fowler is everything that's "right" about the sport. While Sergio Garcia was getting DQ'd in Saudi Arabia because he got frustrated with the putting surfaces, Fowler was enduring an almost comical series of events on the 11th hole that would have sent most players down for the count.
But instead of acting like a fool on Sunday, Fowler acted like a champion.
It's pleasing to the soul when a good guy wins.
"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld
This Week’s Subject: Super Bowl LIII
Yesterday (written 1:10 p.m Sunday, pregame)
As best as I can recall, I’m guessing I’ve seen at least a part of every Super Bowl since XIV, played on January 20, 1980, at the Rose Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Rams. The name Vince Ferragamo rings a large bell.
There have been excellent football games at the Super Bowl, and there have been terrible ones. Both LI and LII were thrillers. If LIII proved to be one as well, that would be a little unusual to have three straight good ones. Just the law of averages.
As a fan, as a television watcher, as a party goer, sometimes you remember certain Super Bowls more than others, even if those memories don’t have much to do with the game.
As noted in this space before, I missed much of XXXV traveling home from Buffalo to Baltimore after a basketball road trip. We were beholden to the flight crew to give us second-half updates. By the time our bus was driving through Downtown Baltimore after 10 p.m., people had started to flood the empty streets in celebration.
Ironically, I was just reminded of XLVII this Saturday, when I was at a women’s basketball game at Loyola’s Reitz Arena. The game had to be delayed for more than an hour after the fire alarm blared at halftime. Unlike in New Orleans, the team that had the big lead at half (Loyola) didn’t lose any momentum once the game resumed.
The first Super Bowl party I can remember attending was for XVI, between the 49ers and Bengals. I still recall the 1970s-style club basement in the house of my mother’s cousin, who also happened to be a teacher at my elementary school.
I attended a somewhat raucous Super Bowl party on February 1, 2004, the day the Patriots beat the Panthers in XXXVIII, a good game that’s also the one that had the most Roman numerals. A “friend” and I were having a particularly good time, but she had a bit too much to drink and had to go outside in the snow to…you know…
Speaking of snow, the Rams franchise won a thriller against the Titans on January 30, 2000; an ice and snow storm was raging outside the party at a Towson apartment. A 15-minute drive home afterwards was more like an hour.
These days, I’m kind of an old man, one with a nice 55-inch television and a web column due by early Monday morning. So the best I can hope for is a good game, even if the Patriots ended up the winners.
Today (written 8:05 p.m., halftime)
My friend Manish Mehta, who covers the Jets for the New York Daily News, wrote a column last week in which he described the Hall of Fame discussion surrounding Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman as “ludicrous.”
Maybe it is. Edelman, in 10 seasons in the NFL, has averaged 55 catches and 600 yards receiving a year. In those 10 seasons, he’s scored 30 touchdowns. Those are fine numbers, but they’re not even close to those of Michael Crabtree, let alone a Hall of Fame receiver. Plus, the guy who occupied Edelman’s role before he did, Wes Welker, was a better player with the same quarterback and coach.
If you’re looking to win a football game, however, you need players like Edelman. The job of a receiver is to get open, and he does it better than any receiver in the NFL. His seven catches in the first of half of Sunday’s game were a Super Bowl record.
Edelman runs his pass routes with total precision. He was a college quarterback, and it helps him realize where to go to find the open spot, even if that wasn’t where he was planning on going initially. He isn’t faster or stronger or (certainly) bigger than the defensive backs assigned to him, but they almost always treat him like he is.
Of course, he also has a quarterback who’s never going to miss him when he’s open, and hardly miss him when he’s barely open.
I don’t know what type of career Edelman might have fashioned had he been chosen by a team other than the Patriots. It might have been similar, just without all the postseason opportunities. And you can argue that it’s all the postseason opportunities that are pushing forward his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Still, I’d hardly say he’s a totally replaceable player, a guy playing a position that could easily be filled by almost anybody from free agency or the draft. He’s better than that, as was Welker, even if neither of them will sniff the Hall of Fame unless they visit Canton with their families one day.
Edelman, in case you forgot, missed the first four games of the 2018 season because of a violation of the league’s PED policy. At the end of the season, he was fined more than $64,000 after three separate incidents of unnecessary roughness against the Bills in Week 16. Plus, he plays for the Patriots. None of those things makes him particularly likeable outside of New England.
He’s just good, knows how to get open, and never drops the ball. What else do you want out of a receiver?
Tomorrow (written 10:05 p.m., postgame)
There were a lot of good punts in that game.
Punting has become a real art, with the Ravens’ Sam Koch having taken the lead in that area. Guys knuckle it, drive it, sky it, pooch it. They turn their hips to the right and then punt it back to the left. The one thing they don’t do is what punters did for years—kick high spirals that turn over and are easy for returners to catch.
There was, obviously, lots of good defense played in the game. It was actually on the next level, so to speak—both teams seemed to know exactly what the other team was going to do, especially in the passing game. Early in the game, in fact, it seemed like the Rams had gotten a copy of the Patriots’ first 10 plays.
Sorry, just trying to say something nice.
Tom Brady wasn’t as bad as Boomer Esiason made him seem at halftime, even before the fourth quarter scoring drive where he threw two perfectly lofted touch passes to Rob Gronkowski. He was just a little more rushed than usual for most of the game, and it showed.
Jared Goff was even worse than his pedestrian stats would indicate. The Rams had a great offensive season in 2018, and have a terrific offensive-minded head coach, but Goff seemed nervous and somewhat overwhelmed. Los Angeles was a team with a balanced offense, not one where Goff was going to outduel Tom Brady.
Frankly, I thought the broadcast was surprisingly weak. CBS briefly lost Tony Romo’s microphone early in the game. Romo was sort of goofy throughout, to the point where it was kind of annoying as opposed to endearing. The network paid for both Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn to attend the game as sideline reporters, yet hardly used them.
Fact is, of course, that the Super Bowl is just one of the more than 250 NFL games played every season. There’s no guarantee beforehand that it will be among the best games played all year, nor is there the likelihood that it will be among the worst. The same can be said for the broadcast, even if it includes more cameras than any other game.
Sadly, the worst part of the game for most of the country was that the Patriots won, especially since New England hardly had the kind of dominating offensive performance we expect from them. But at least Gisele’s happy, I guess.
The folks in "the room" in Canton, Ohio yesterday took exactly two minutes and twenty seconds to discuss the Hall of Fame candidacy of Ed Reed.
I suspect it went something like this: "I submit for your consideration, safety Ed Reed."
Someone: "Should we just take it to a vote?"
Someone else: "Yes, let's do that."
Roughly two minutes later, Ed Reed was a Hall of Fame football player.
Not that it matters at all, but the discussion on also-now-enshrined Kevin Mawae took over 25 minutes.
That probably tells you more about Mawae than Reed, but you get the picture.
Reed was a slam dunk the minute he was announced as a finalist last December. And his selection on Saturday now gives the Ravens three first-ballot Hall of Famers. There's something to be said for that, for sure. I get it, a Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer, but three guys getting in on their initial try is a pretty special accomplishment.
There's no telling when the Ravens might have another first-chance entry. Terrell Suggs is a likely Hall of Famer someday but it's doubtful he'll make it as a first ballot guy. Marshal Yanda will "get in the room" someday, I'm sure, but he might not even make the Hall, let alone get in on the first go-round. Justin Tucker is certainly of "Hall of Fame caliber", but it's very rare that kickers make it to Canton.
Other than those three, there aren't really any Ravens Hall of Fame possibilities on the horizon. That's a short way of saying, "Enjoy Ed Reed's induction next August."
I know this story has been hammered at over the last day or so, but there's no doubt Reed was the most mercurial, odd Ravens player I ever encountered during my dozen years on the air and covering the team at Owings Mills.
He wasn't disrespectful, as were guys like Adam Terry and, frankly, Suggs, in his early years. Instead, Reed was just moody. I thought John Harbaugh said it best recently. "If you bumped into Ed in the hallway and his hood was up over his head and he had his shades on, you knew to leave him alone. If his hood was down and he was smiling and laughing, you knew it was a good day to chat."
That was a great summary. There were days when Reed was a joy to work with and other days when, well, you just didn't even approach him.
But the guy could definitely play football.
By the way, Harbaugh has recently admitted that he and Reed often went weeks without speaking during John's early years as Ravens head coach. "He didn't like the way we were doing things early in my time in Baltimore and I didn't like the way he treated me. So we'd sometimes go three weeks without talking," Harbaugh said a coaching conference in early January. But the coach added an interesting detail to their relationship.
"I went up to him once and brought it out in the open," Harbaugh remembered. "I said, 'Look, I'm not all that happy with how you're treating me. I think you know that. I'm disappointed that you're not buying in here. But you know what? I still love you. And I'm still going to coach you and I'm still going to appreciate you and I'm still going to be here for you, no matter what you do to me.'"
On the bus after the team won the Super Bowl, Harbaugh encountered Reed. "Coach, I get it now," Reed said with a smile. "I get it."
There was an early February college football game at North Carolina State yesterday, where Virginia Tech beat the Wolfpack, 47-24.
That must be a new thing they're doing now, trying to keep college football relevant for 12 months. That's not a bad idea, actually. The weekend of the Super Bowl, you trot out two college teams and have them play one another.
Even better, yesterday's clash was a "conference game", if you will. Both Virginia Tech and NC State are in the ACC, so there's a natural rivalry of sorts built in between those two. While I can't assume Saturday's game will count in the 2019 standings, it still made sense to have two known entities facing off.
It was a blowout the whole way. As I look at the boxscore, I see Virginia Tech built a 20-14 halftime lead and then blew the game open in the second half, outscoring NC State, 27-10.
I didn't realize Virginia Tech's offense was that good. 47 points on the road is a pretty solid day of offense.
As for the Wolkpack, the game gave them a sneak-peek at what to work on over the next six months. Their defense apparently needs some work, and 24 points at home is probably a concern for the coaching staff as well.
That was a basketball game?
*refreshes the website again*
Holy cow, that wasn't a football game. It was a basketball game. North Carolina State scored 24 points in a college basketball game.
I take back my assessment of their team. They "only" allowed 47 points to Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack defense doesn't need work. But their offense? Wow........
NC State went 9-of-54 from the field. That's 16.7% for those without a calculator handy, or for those Flyers fans who don't know how to operate the calculator.
Ready for another funny note? NC State is ranked #23 in the country.
So the next time you bemoan the coaching of Mark Turgeon, just remember this: His Terps teams at least score 25 points every game.
They're playing the Super Bowl today, you might have heard.
I don't really have a horse in the race, and as I wrote here earlier in the week, I'm not all that worked up about the game in general. But I'll watch, for sure, although I could be motivated to watch a little bit of The Legend of Bagger Vance on The Golf Channel starting at 8 pm.
Oddly, I sort of hope New England wins, just because it would then become more unlikely that they would win again next year. Yeah, I know, they're the Patriots, they might win four in a row, but if I'm playing the odds, I bet if they win tonight they don't repeat next season.
Whatever happens, I just hope there isn't controversy.
Just give us a good game, with some scoring in the high 20's, and no late penalty flags that help determine the outcome.
And please, nothing stupid during the halftime show. Maroon 5 is already lame enough. I hope they just come out, sing a few songs, give us their only real decent tune (Sunday Morning), and move on.
I suspect something will take place that the sports and news talking heads can talk about for the next week. But I hope not.
As for the game...I know there's a prevailing thought that you don't ever bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I generally subscribe to that. Then again, that theory didn't work out so well last February when the Eagles beat those two in the Super Bowl.
Could the Patriots lose two in a row?
Wouldn't that be something? Nine Super Bowl trips for Brady and Belichick and a pedestrian 5-4 record in those games -- if they lose today.
My gut says the Rams win today. But I'm being pulled in by the "don't bet against Brady and Belichick" theme. I think New England does just enough to win this one. Let's call it 28-24 for the Patriots.
We kicked off our newest feature, #DMD Open Mic, last month during the NFL playoff games, and with the bugs worked out and a good time had by all, we're back today for another open chat room here at Drew's Morning Dish.
We'll open the room at 5:00 pm and stick around throughout the Super Bowl. We can chat about the game, the commercials, the inevitable bad calls that change the outcomea and the bad beat you take when the Patriots score a controversial touchdown with one minute left.
If you're interested in getting involved, just look below and you'll see the link to get in the room. There is a very brief (like, 30 seconds, brief) registration process you have to endure in order to create an ID and get in...but once you've done it, you're good to go.
1. Type your username (make one) in the "Name" block
2. Then click the icon on the right side for "Log In/ Register"
3. Put in the password (make one) for the username in the block that pops up
4. Click "Log In"
5. Once logged in, users can then post
Please make it a point to stop in the Open Mic room today. It's sorta-kinda our version of "live radio", although everyone's welcome, you're never on hold, and you don't get chased off after just one question or statement.
We have a couple of very basic rules that you'll have to follow. 1) No swearing. 2) Don't Be A Jerk.
If you can somehow comport yourself accordingly and follow those two simple rules, you'll have nothing to worry about. If you can't abide by those, you'll be dismissed like "Debo" at the end of Friday. Except we won't hit you with a brick.
Come on in this afternoon and have some fun with us!
It's such a shame my buddy George doesn't have a strong disdain for Tom Brady. Tomorrow could send him to the loony bin.
While George's player, Daniel Berger, frittered away a chance to make the cut with a bogey on his final hole yesterday, my guy, Rickie Fowler, surged to the lead at the Phoenix Open, making birdie on his last four holes to race past Justin Thomas and finish the first two rounds at 13-under-par.
There's still a lot of golf remaining, of course, and George is completely right when he mutters -- sometimes loudly -- that Fowler isn't a "closer", so nothing short of seeing Rickie holding the trophy on Sunday will cement a victory for him at TPC Scottsdale.
But there's no denying that kid is a heckuva player. And while an early February jaunt around a relatively benign 7,300 yard course isn't a major or anything like that, the setting for what Fowler will face later on today and tomorrow is definitely harrowing. The 16th hole has become the TOUR's largest cocktail party and by the time Fowler and his group reaches that tee box this afternoon, the 25,000 circling the hole will be juiced up like a fraternity house heading to a Friday night bon fire.
I assume that George, being the kind, old soul that he is, secretly wishes nothing but the best for Fowler, who has six career wins (4 PGA Tour, 2 European Tour) and well over $35,000,000 in career earnings. But, like a wrestler having to change characters in mid-career, my old golfing buddy also knows what a Fowler victory on Sunday would do for his anti-Rickie-shtick.
You can't keep calling the kid a loser if he suddenly up and wins.
In fairness, though, Fowler has done a lot of this to himself. Good play early in his career caught the attention of marketing professionals, who thought they'd "hop on early" and reap the benefits down the road. Under Armour did that a while back (some have even suggested more than just "a while back") with Jordan Spieth, forking over a sum suspected to be near $40 million to jump on the Spieth train just as it was leaving the station, circa 2013.
But while Spieth has exploded onto the PGA Tour scene with 11 wins and three major championships in six years out there -- thus making Under Armour's marketing decision look smart -- Fowler has lagged behind greatly, with several near-major-misses to go along with his Farmer's Insurance, Puma and Taylor Made relationships, all of whom pay him handsomely, George would remind you, to finish in the top 10 on a regular basis.
So, winning on Sunday in Arizona won't satisfy folks like George, although it might quiet him for a few days. It won't be until Fowler slips on a green jacket (very possible), holds up the trophy at Bethpage Black or Pebble Beach (also very possible) or wins at some place called Royal Portrush this July (as straight as Fowler drives it, the British Open seems like a great opportunity for him every year) that he'll truly be recognized as a great player. While it's true that journeymen like Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, Shaun Micheel and Ben Curtis somehow scraped together enough good golf to once win a major -- proving that occasionally a great player doesn't win that week -- Fowler knows, like Garcia and Stenson knew most recently, that in order to be crowned as a historically great player that you have to win a major title.
But for Fowler, winning this weekend is going to have a major-like feel to it. He'll have to answer questions, win or lose, and he'll either be lauded as a guy who gutted it out and beat everyone or he'll be chided for once again failing to come through under the gun.
It is kind of fun, though, to imagine what it would be like in George's house on Sunday if Fowler and Brady were both holding up trophies. I know...I'm mean.
dale williams aims
The Wisconsin Badgers outplayed the Maryland Terrapins down the stretch last night, outscoring them 15-6 over the last 4:58 to claim a 69-61 win over a Maryland team bothered by foul trouble and again showing their inexperience on the road.
A couple of key, late, three pointers by Aleem Ford set the victory wheels in motion for Wisconsin.
After jumping out to a 36-31 halftime lead, Maryland scored just 25 points in the second half. Much of that can be attributed to the large stretches of bench time that Bruno Fernando received due to foul trouble. Jalen Smith also sat out a good piece of the second half, but I’m not so sure that was a liability for Maryland. In my mind, Smith was terrible last night.
With the Terps leading 55-54 late in the second half, Smith lost contact with Ford, who promptly buried a three to put Wisconsin ahead for good, 57-55. On the Terps' next possession, Smith turned the ball over after collecting an offensive rebound. Two possessions later Smith again let Ford get too much distance and it cost the Terps 3 more points. Those 3’s accounted for 6 of the 10 points that Wisconsin scored during a 2:40 second span, from 4:59 to 2:19 of the second half. That quickly, a tight game that could have gone to either team, became a comfortable Wisconsin win.
The first half belonged almost exclusively to Eric Ayala. He staked Maryland to that 36-31 half time lead by hitting 5 of 6 shots from the field, including 3 of 3 three-point shots. When Ayala wasn’t scoring, Bruno Fernando was. Fernando was 4 of 5 for 8 points.
The Terps failed to score from the foul line in the opening 20 minutes, as they were only awarded one attempt from the charity stripe. As a team they hit 6 of 10 shots from behind the three-point line. Wisconsin played decently in the first half, but not well enough to overcome Maryland’s hot hand from the outside.
The second half was an even battle until the final five minutes when the Terps played like a young team on the road.
To me there were three things that stuck out as the most significant contributors to last night’s outcome. The first, and most prominent, was the foul trouble that Smith and Fernando were saddled with. Without Fernando on the bench in the first half, the Terrapin defense might have held Wisconsin to far less points than the 31 they managed to score. The Badgers found points much easier to come by with Fernando on the bench.
In the second half, the absence of Fernando, and Smith to some extent, totally stymied the Terps offense. Without Bruno's inside presence, the Maryland offense featured a whole host of missed threes. While they connected on 6 of 10 in half one, the second half saw them go 2 for 10. Anthony Cowan himself went 1 for 7 in the second half. For the game, Cowan hit just 4 of 16 shots from the floor. The Terps can’t beat quality teams, on the road, with Fernando in foul trouble and on the bench.
The second biggest factor in last night’s loss was Maryland’s inability to get steals and cause turnovers. Foul trouble to Fernando and Smith, plus the fact that Ivan Bender doesn’t belong in the Big 10, forced Mark Turgeon to go to a small lineup and a zone defense for large portions of the second half. The Terps were able to hold steady during that time, but it also was one of the reasons that they forced zero turnovers in the second half.
I thought Maryland did a nice job defensively in the first half. They were closing gaps on, and away from, the ball. They forced 4 turnovers and even got 2 steals. In the second half, they played way too far from the ball, failed to get much pressure on the ball, and gave up too many easy shots. Perhaps they played that way because of the multitude of quick whistles against them, but their inability to apply consistent pressure has become a real issue for them.
Maryland really need to balance out their own turnovers by creating some on the defensive side. They don’t pressure the ball enough and they don’t contest enough passes.
The last item that really stuck with me was an individual one. It’s time for Jalen Smith to start playing better defense. He’s getting beat on the perimeter constantly. His two miscues last night when guarding Ford, resulting in 6 points on two three-point baskets, might have been the turning point in the game. I need better effort from Smith on defense.
If you ever wonder why coaches all claim its hard to win conference games on the road, take a look at this stat and look no further. When the Terps played Wisconsin in College Park, the Terps shot 29 foul shots while Wisconsin took just 6. The Terps won. Last night in Madison, the Badgers attempted 23 from the foul line, Maryland had just 8 tries. Wisconsin won.
It’s a fact of life in conference games, each team expects, and usually gets, some home cooking. That certainly played a strong role in the outcome of yesterday’s contest. For the Terps to overcome that, they needed to be a little better, and a little smarter defensively.
Maryland now faces another formidable Big 10 team, on the road, when they travel to Nebraska this Wednesday night.
As frequent commenter Herman noted earlier this week, something has happened to the Super Bowl. That "something" feels a lot like we just don't care all that much about the game this year.
It could be as simple as we're tired of seeing the Patriots. And it might be fair to note that folks in places like Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle and Kansas City -- you know, cities with NFL teams who aren't playing this Sunday -- inherently lose a little interest in the game once their team is eliminated. I get that part of it.
There's probably an argument for all of that stuff. I mean, let's be honest. Call it boredom, envy, jealously, dislike or whatever -- but watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick again is really starting to get to be old hat. It's just not "fun". Not to anyone outside of New England, that is.
Personally, I think Atlanta, while a really nice place to visit, isn't a great Super Bowl venue. It's a B-list place when you compare it to the likes of Los Angeles, Miami or New Orleans. But that's neither here nor there, since that issue really only impacts those who are going to the game.
But I suspect there's more to it than our dislike of the Patriots.
The NFL has done this to themselves. They've taken their championship game and turned it from a match-up of the two best teams to a 4-hour spectacle that's mostly about commercialism, style and entertainment and neatly tucked a 60-minute football game in there -- somewhere.
If it's possible to do this, the NFL has done it. They've made the Super Bowl into "too much". Come to think of it, the league itself has become just that: too much.
Five million dollars to run a TV commercial? Are you kidding me? And people do it, too. That's the bizarre part of it all. Oh, and this is probably the coup de grace of the whole thing: Half of the commercials, at least, are awful. You spent five mil and the commercial stinks? Nice job, nacho company.
All in all, the NFL has somehow fouled up the Super Bowl. They've taken their one biggest, brighest moment and turned it into a punchline. It shouldn't be this hard to get it right.
You might not agree, but I find the two conference championship games to be much more appealing and worthy of my time than the Super Bowl. Will I watch this Sunday? Of course. But I most certainly won't hang on every last play the way I did two weeks ago on "final four" weekend.
At some point on Sunday evening, I'll probably flip over to The Golf Channel occasionally to catch their wrap-up shows of the Phoenix Open. That I'd miss parts of the Super Bowl to watch golf analysis and commentary probably says more about my love for golf than it does about any disdain I might have for the Super Bowl, but you get the picture.
The Super Bowl is missing something these days.
And so, too, is the league.
They're missing a little bit of humility. They've turned their league and sport into something more than just football, and I think -- speaking for myself, here -- it's become tiresome.
I don't want or need football players to tell me about "police issues". I just want them to play football. I almost wish someone would employ Colin Kaepernick just so we could get that story out of the news cycle. It's as boring now as reading about JFK, Lee Harvey Oswald and whether or not Cuba was involved. Enough is enough.
I'm "millionaire'd out", if that's even a term. I get it. You make $9 million a year and you're not playing unless you get $14 million a year. I feel for you, pal. But I can't relate to you, unfortunately. If you gave me nine million, just once, you'd never hear a peep from me again.
I've grown tired of reading about the latest player in the league to be accused of domestic violence. Just be good football players and decent, upstanding citizens.
I can't stand these weekly rules controversies and referee foul-ups. Fix that stuff, please. It's starting to look a lot like professional wrestling. The next thing you know, J.J. Watt is going to throw salt in Andrew Luck's eyes.
Those are just four points right there. You probably have others yourself.
So, while I agree that seeing the Patriots in the big game again is boring, it's not anywhere near as off-putting, to me, as Colin Kaepernick, Antonio Brown, Kareem Hunt, Bill Vinovich and, well, even Roger Goodell himself.
Those five guys represent all the things I don't like about the NFL these days.
And unless my team were playing this Sunday, I'm just not all that excited about it anymore.
I suspect you probably feel the same way...
NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.
Harvey Keitel: . . . Where do you live?
Samuel L. Jackson: Inglewood.
Keitel: . . . Move out of the sticks, fellas.
This clip from Pulp Fiction shows what director Quentin Tarantino thought L.A. gangsters thought of the town of Inglewood back in 1994 when the film was shot.
Inglewood is an incorporated city of about 100,000 people hard southwest of Los Angeles. Back in the day, nobody much went to Inglewood except driving back and forth from LAX or when going to the track at Hollywood Park for some very good graded-stakes races.
Things are changing. In 2020, the Los Angeles Stadium will open in Inglewood and serve as the home field for both the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers.
The stadium is the anchor for a $5 billion development project officially known as the LA Stadium & Entertainment District at Hollywood Park. In addition to the 70,240-seat stadium, the 300-acre complex will contain office buildings, shops, restaurants, residential units, hotels and parks. The Hollywood Park Casino, also on site, offers spiritual enrichment before games on Sundays, and has an OTB facility for wagering on races on all tracks in North America. The NFL has contracted to put its West Coast headquarters for NFL Media and the NFL Network within the complex.
In a radical departure from the NFL's socialist policy of building stadiums with taxpayers' money, the LA thing will be 100% privately financed. The Rams owner, multi-billionaire E. Stanley Kroenke (who is married to Walmart heiress Ann Walton), is investing $1.6 billion in personal equity. Kroenke also owns, through personal control of a variety of companies, Premier League football club Arsenal, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer, the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, and the newly formed Los Angeles Gladiators of the Overwatch League (a professional esports league for the video game Overwatch).
The Rams and Chargers require the purchase of stadium seat licenses, or SSLs, in addition to the regular ticket price. The Rams’ SSL prices are slightly more than the Chargers’ prices, ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 per seat, depending on location and amenities. SSLs for club seats cost $15,000 to $100,000. Both teams will refund the full price of the SSLs after 50 years. [This may sound good, and indeed is better than NOT getting the refund, but the fact is, buying the SSL instead of investing (say) 5K in a stock-market mutual fund will cost $245,000 over 50 years.] A little bit of math is enlightening. Assume an average price of an SSL to be $5,000. The stadium has 72,000 seats. That makes $360 million for the Rams and the same amount for the Chargers. Not a bad bank balance to have before the first football is kicked, or even before the first ticket is sold.
The stadium has already booked events in addition to Rams and Chargers games. It will host the 2022 Super Bowl and the 2023 College Football Playoffs championship game. The opening and closing ceremonies of the 2028 Olympics will be held at the stadium as well as some of the 2026 FIFA World Cup matches.
No doubt we'll see Winston Wolfe at some of these games.
dale williams aims
The Terps visit Wisconsin tonight at 9 pm, and I am going to admit something straight up: This game has me a bit perplexed.
After reviewing their last meeting at the XFINITY Center just 17 days ago, with each half producing a separate game in itself, I can’t decide which half rings most true.
In the first half, Wisconsin missed all 8 of their three-point attempts while the Terps hit 5 of 10. In the second half of that January 14th game, Maryland still hit 50% of their 3s, but they only took 6. Meanwhile the Badgers took a whopping 22 three-point shots in the second half, and they hit an impressive 11 of them.
The result of the shooting turnaround for Wisconsin was a 33-15 first half hole, and a second half where they outscored Maryland 45-31. Which half is real?
In that first match-up, the Terps only made 8 field goals from inside the three-point line and they had only 12 points in the paint. Anthony Cowan took 14 shots in that game while Bruno Fernando took just 6. That data will change tonight.
Some of that shot disparity was due to Wisconsin’s constant double teaming of Fernando whenever he had the ball down low. Fernando was kicking the ball out, but it wasn’t leading to open shots and easy points. Tonight, Maryland will look to get Fernando the ball much lower in the post so that he can shoot without giving the Badgers time to bring the double team.
If Wisconsin does get the quick double team on Bruno, then his first option should be a big-to-big pass that gets Jalen Smith an open look inside. If that isn’t available then option two must be a kickout for a three.
I’m usually not an advocate of Maryland shooting a bunch of threes, but if Fernando is double teamed and Smith is covered, that means the lane is full of Badgers. Penetrating the lane in this situation won’t yield good looks. Hit the three and crash the boards.
With Maryland being a strong rebounding team, and with Wisconsin being near the bottom of the Big Ten in rebounding stats, it’s easily assumable that the Terps will control the glass. If they do, especially on defense, then opportunities will exist to run this Badger team. Wisconsin thrives in the slower half-court game and they play real solid half court defense. Maryland had just 7 fast break points against Wisconsin 17 days ago, but they’ll get more tonight by running more frequently.
I have one final observation, and it’s why I’m taking Maryland plus the five points. The Terps bench only scored three points in their 64-60 victory over Wisconsin. With Fernando and Smith controlling the glass, Aaron Wiggins and Serrel Smith are going to get plenty of fast break chances to score.
If Fernando gets doubled down low, all the Terp guards, including Smith and Wiggins will get more chances to score from the outside. Look for the Maryland bench to provide a needed scoring lift.
I also think Cowan will improve upon the 4-14 shooting and 5 turnover game he had last time. These factors bode well for Maryland’s chances to stay in contention from start to finish. This game should be very tight, but Ethan Happ’s foul shooting could be a significant liability for the Badgers.
This one could easily be decided at the foul line, and Maryland should prove to be better from the charity stripe. It won’t be easy, and it may not be pretty, but the Terps have enough talent to survive their trip to Madison and come out with a 65-62 win.