Monday
April 15
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#1694



take that, father time


Just when I thought perhaps I had seen it all in my life.

Along comes Tiger Woods to remind me that I haven't. Not by a longshot.

Woods used experience, skill and luck to win The Masters on Sunday. That he wound up only winning by one shot seemed more-than-fitting. What other way should it have been?

By now, you know the details of what the win means for the 43-year old. It gives him 15 major titles, with almost eleven full years elapsing since his most recent major triumph at the 2008 U.S. Open. It also marked a remarkable 14 years between Masters victories. His last one was in 2005, way before the personal troubles, back surgeries and police blotter appearance all but ended his career.

Prior to Sunday, none of Tiger's major championships had been attained in "come from behind fashion". He had either been ahead or tied for the lead after 54 holes in all previous 14 major victories. The deficit was still two shots after the 10th hole, with Francesco Molinari plodding along nicely and clinging to a lead he had held since early during Saturday's 3rd round.

Then came the experience factor on the 12th hole. Molinari made the mistake of firing for the flag at the tricky short par-3 hole. Woods didn't make the same mistake. Molinari's double-bogey gave everyone a life raft. It was now a six hole dash to the finish. Most birdies wins.

A tradition like no other. Tiger wins the Masters for the 5th time.

And Tiger made the most of his opportunity, with "circles" at 13, 15 and 16.

Others had a chance at the 18th hole, but Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson both missed relatively-simple birdie putts on the final green. Johnson's straight-up-the-hill 15-footer was left all the way and never thought about sneaking right and Koepka's quick-curling 10-footer from just above-right of the cup was woefully left from the moment it left his putter. Nerves? Lack of course knowledge? Golf gods? All three, probably.

Tiger's nemesis over the last decade has been the block-right drive. On the back nine yesterday, he hit two of those right away. First at #10, where he was forced to chip out sideways and make bogey. And then again at #11, where for the second straight day he blew his tee ball way right into the trees only to somehow have a clean, easy look into the green some 150 yards away. But those two drives weren't good signs. And with precision required on all of the remaining driving holes coming in, there was reason to think this one was going to escape Tiger.

But he wound up hitting the best four drives of his life in the final 90 minutes of Sunday's tournament. A smashed draw tee-shot at #13 left him with an 8-iron into #13, where he two putted for birdie from 40 feet. A 320-yard drive right down the middle at #15 gave him a 5-iron to the green, where he again two putted for birdie and the outright lead for the first time all day.

The moment of truth, though, came at 17. After nearly making an ace at 16, Tiger was now up by two shots. Barring anything crazy, he needed only to hit the fairway at 17 and 18 to win. And at 17, he clobbered a 300-yard drive right in the middle of the fairway once again, setting up an easy iron to 12-feet and a two putt par.

At 18 -- two shot lead intact -- he hit a "3-wood squeezer" 290 yards up the right side of the hole, avoiding the big bunkers on the left and not even giving himself a chance to hit one of his infamous "big block" tee balls that could have led to disaster.

A lot of demons were exorcised by Tiger on Sunday, but perhaps the biggest on-course hurdle he overcame was on the tee box at 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18. He hit those drives with both power and precision that he might not have owned back in the 2000-2006 run where he dominated the sport like no one had before.

Tiger Woods, if you can believe it, might be playing better golf now than he did back then. He nearly won last July's British Open before Francesco Molinari out-putted him over the final nine holes. He finished 2nd to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship last August. He won the TOUR Championship in September. And, now, he once again is the Masters champion.

There's a saying that goes like this: "You make your own luck." Eh, maybe you do. Maybe you don't. Luck is just that. It's fortune, either good or bad. And throughout most of the weekend, Tiger had luck on his side. He hit some awful drives on Saturday, including a snap hook into the trees at #13 that could have been distastrous. If that ball crashes off the trees and goes left, Woods makes six or even seven, perhaps. But instead, it caromed out into the fairway, where he was able to make an unlikely -- and lucky -- birdie.

Other bad drives on Saturday -- particularly the one at #11 -- also ended up with fortunate results once the ball came to rest. Bogeys were turned into pars. Rounds and championships were saved instead of lost, perhaps. If the golf gods indeed wanted Tiger to win, they were having a hard time keeping it secret.

And then there was the moment everyone talked about most of Sunday afternoon and evening. After holing out on 18, Woods found a waiting throng of family and friends behind the TV tower, the customary spot where the new champion is greeted.

In 1997, Woods found his father there waiting for him. In 2019, it was a different scene. There, now, were Tiger's two children, his mother and his girlfriend. The story of Tiger's life could almost be written with just that scene.

His father is now long gone. His mother, though, still right there with him. His two children had never seen their dad win a major championship. Their mother had, but she's no longer on the scene. And when Woods embraced his son and daughter after the round, you could sense a palpable release of joy and emotion from Tiger.

"I hope they're proud of their father," Woods said after the round during his press conference. Sometimes that's better than a trophy. Actually, it's not "sometimes". It always is.

The others who tried and failed on Sunday will be heard from again. Molinari played extraordinary golf for 65 holes, then fell victim to one of golf's most puzzling holes. So, too, did Brooks Koepka, who also hit his ball in the water at 12, then immediately bounced back with eagle at 13. Those two will win again, and soon, most likely. Dustin Johnson never really threatened to win throughout most of the weekend, then was suddenly tied for the lead after a birdie at 17. He's bound to win more majors, too. If I'm the jacket-guy at Augusta, I'd keep D.J.'s measurements handy. And the likes of Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler will all also likely win majors as well. They're too good not to.

But on April 14, 2019, it was Tiger's turn.

The old man, as it turns out, can still play. And, as fate would have it, he beat all the young guys on his way to the winner's circle yesterday. The best players in the world fired their best shot on Sunday and it wasn't enough.

Will he win another major? I don't know. But there's no more betting against Tiger Woods now. He could win six more and I guess it wouldn't surprise me.

If you're surprised by anything Tiger Woods does on the golf course, you haven't been paying attention since 1996.



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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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


yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: Who do you think?


Yesterday…

Just a refresher course, because I’m sure some of you needed it before yesterday, considering Tiger Woods hadn’t won a major since 2008. In his first 14 major championship victories, Tiger had never come from behind after 54 holes to win.

In the Masters, he was ahead by nine shots in 1997 after three rounds. He held a one-stroke lead in 2001 and was tied with Retief Goosen for the lead in 2002. In 2005, he went into the final round with a three-shot advantage.

Besides that 2002 Masters, he’d only been tied for the lead two other times on the way to major wins—in 1999 at the PGA, with Mike Weir, and in 2006 at the PGA, with Luke Donald. Both of those PGA Championships were held at the same course, Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

Now that Tiger has won his 15th major, at age 43 and 11 years after his last, it’s amazing to look at how long his career at the top has been. The player who finished second behind Woods during his first major victory, Tom Kite, is now 69 years old. One of the players who finished tied for second this time around was Xander Schauffele, who was only three years old in 1997.

The 2019 Masters was Woods’ 81st appearance in a major, and his 75th major as a professional golfer. In those 75 tournaments, he’s now finished in the top ten 40 times. Of those top ten finishes, all but eight have been top five finishes.

So many of those times, Woods was in striking distance of the lead, but may have been a little too far behind, and forced to play a little too aggressively, or just fallen victim to a great performance from another player. Every once in a while, he played poorly in a final round, though hardly ever so poorly that you’d remember it.

But not yesterday. He played the same solid yet unspectacular round (ok, the shot on 16 was spectacular) he’s often played in the final round of majors, which was usually more than enough to hold onto a lead. This time, it was enough to pass a few players, with a little help from them.

Besides the come-from-behind win, one other thing wasn’t exactly the same as the past. Tiger has always brought roars from the crowds, but the ones on Sunday seemed completely off the charts. Those old pine trees hadn’t ever seen that kind of noise, not even when Jack came from behind to win in 1986.

Today…

I don’t know what Tiger Woods is doing to turn back time, and I don’t know if he’s any better of a person than he was 10 years ago, and I don’t know if he’ll ever win another major.

He just won the Masters 14 years after he last one it, the longest time between wins in that tournament’s history. The idea that he could do the same in the PGA (12 years), U.S. Open (11 years) or British Open (13 years) is actually somewhat far-fetched, if you think about it.

Here’s what I do know. In this last three appearances in majors, he’s finished tied for sixth (2018 British Open), solo second (2018 PGA) and then was the winner in Augusta on Sunday.

He hasn’t had a similar stretch in the majors since 2009 and 2010, when he finished second behind Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA, then had fourth-place finishes in the Masters and U.S. Open the following year despite all that happened between that 2009 PGA and the following season.

I almost forgot that Woods won the season-ending Tour Championship last year, beating the 29 best players in the game in that one.

The verdict, of course: Woods, at 43, is near the top of the game right now, not to mention the top of his game.

The quality of his shots, based on his play at the Masters, is as good as it’s ever been. He still hits the ball far enough that his poor drives often end up in areas that have relatively open looks to the green for a player of his caliber. His pitching and chipping looks like it almost always has; that brief stretch of his “yips” seems like it never happened.

Obviously, you can’t just go off one tournament, even if that one tournament is his fifth Masters victory. Dustin Johnson almost came out of nowhere to win in Augusta. Brooks Koepka is ridiculous, and Bryson DeChambeau is primed to be a factor in lots of majors for years. Rory McIlroy is really just entering the prime of his career, while Francesco Molinari may not have a long time to be one of the best, though his best is awful good right now.

But I’m not sure Woods is very far from being at the very top once again. That’s not just numbers—scoring average or ranking—but the sense that he’s in control of everything about his game. His ability to be in control has always been better than that of any other player.

Tomorrow

Another refresher course…

The PGA Championship has been moved to May, beginning this year. In a few weeks, Woods will head to Bethpage State Park on Long Island in the hopes of winning that tournament for the first time since 2007.

17 years ago, Woods won the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Yes, 17 years is a long time, but he just won the Masters for the first time in 14 years.

A month later, the U.S. Open returns to Pebble Beach. Tiger’s most dominant major victory came there, though that was 19 years ago. Yes, 19 years is a long time, but he just won the Masters for the first time in 14 years.

Finally, in July, the British Open heads to Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland. The course will be hosting its first Open Championship since 1951.

Ok, so Woods wasn’t around for that one. I don’t know if he’s ever played the course. But nobody else in this year’s tournament was around for the 1951 Open either, and I don’t think Tiger had ever played at Hoylake before he dominated the field while hitting only one driver in four days at the 2006 Open.

Is Tiger Woods going to win the Grand Slam? Certainly not. Even he’s never done that, though he did have the “Tiger Slam” of holding all four trophies at one time in 2000 and 2001.

Does the list of courses for this year’s majors seem to set up for him to succeed? Maybe. It would only be better if the Open Championship were being played at St. Andrews, which won’t happen until 2021, in honor of the 150th playing of that tournament.

There’s a good possibility, of course, that Woods is done winning majors now. Only 10 players older than Tiger have won majors, with the oldest being Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA.

There’s also a good possibility, however, that Tiger is going to forever change the list of golfers in their 40s who’ve won majors. He’s already done so many things in the game that no other player has ever done, with the only real exception Nicklaus’s 18 majors he’s still trying to catch.

It’s tempting to say that the British Open is Tiger’s best chance for another major in 2019, though I’d like to see what the rough is going to look like at Bethpage and Pebble Beach before I declare someone else the favorite at either of those events.

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this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


weekend college lacrosse review


The cleat of reality had a pretty busy weekend as several local teams took it on the chin. Let's take stock in this weekend's game.

#11 Towson 10 - #19 UMass 14 - The CAA is a little tougher than it looks as Towson found out on Saturday. The Minutemen, coming off of a tough overtime loss to Hofstra, had some extra motivation and let it show for 3 quarters out-everything'ing the Tigers to take a 12-3 lead into the 4th. Towson finally came to life in the last quarter scoring 7, but could only cut the deficit to 4.

The few bright spots for Towson included Brendan Sunday (4 goals, 1 assist) and Alex Woodall winning 18 of 28 draws. No rest for the weary as the Tigers face the CAA leading Delaware Blue Hens (3-0) who just handled Hofstra 13-7.

#12 Ohio State 14 - #16 Johns Hopkins 13 - Close game as expected with the Buckeyes netting the game winner in the games last minute. This roller coaster of a game saw the Blue Jays taking an 8-2 lead late in the 2nd half. Then Ohio State went on it's on 8-1 run in the 3rd to take the lead at 10-9. Then Hopkins appeared to awake from it's 3rd quarter nap and went on a 3 goal run of its own, only to have Ohio State answer with its own 3 goal run. The teams then traded goals before Jackson Reid of the Buckeyes netted the game winner with 49 seconds left.

Senior Alex Concannon (4 goals, 2 assists) was the big star for the Blue Jays on their Senior Day and Joey Epstein continues to shine scoring 3 goals with 2 asists. Defender Owen Colwell collected 3 ground balls and caused 2 turnovers. Up next for the Blue Jays are what will be the top 2 teams in the country in Penn State and Maryland to close out the season.

Loyola scoring star Pat Spencer was held without a goal on Saturday in Boston University's upset win over the 'Hounds.

Boston U 18 - #2 Loyola 11 - A little more than opposite of my prediction and a head scratcher of a result as the Terriers, after being tied 9-9 at half, out score the Greyhounds 9-2 including shutting them out in the 3rd quarter. Loyola's defense gave up 63, yes 63, shots which did goalie Jacob Stover no favors. The Terriers were clearly the aggressor collecting a whopping 55 ground balls to the Greyhounds 33, due in part to winning 20 of 33 face-offs against Bailey Savio.

The Greyhound offense was led by Aidan Olmstead (3 goals, 3 assists) and Kevin Lindley (4 goals). Another big reason for Boston's win was a complete shutdown of Pat Spencer, who was only able to scrounge up 1 assist.

#3 Maryland 16 - Rutgers 13 - Great comeback win for the Terps who faught their way out of a 5-goal deficit for the victory. There were runs by both teams which saw this game tied early in the 4th quarter. But the Terps went on a 5-goal run in the period to seal the victory. Anthony DeMaio (3 goals, 3 assists) and Logan Wisnauskas (2 goals, 3 assists) paced the Terps offense, while Austin Henningsen had a nice day at the face-off X winning 14 of 22 draws.

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Sunday
April 14
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#1693



"we found your dad"


Sixteen years have passed now, so I don't remember the exact time the call came in, but I vaguely believe it was a few minutes after 10:00 am.

It was April 14, 2003. It was a Monday. I remember that, for sure. I had just finished my radio shift when my cell phone rang and I looked down at the incoming number.

I recognized it as the number belonging to one of the mid 30's women who lived next to my father in Glen Burnie. There wasn't any immediate cause for alarm. They called me often with various stories about their neighbor, my Dad, who was still living in the family house that I shared with him and my Mother, who passed away in 1986.

"Hello there," I said.

I heard a commotion in the background. It was kind of hard to hear.

The voice on the other end cracked a little. "Drew, we just found your dad."

I waited for the follow-up. Found him where, I wanted to ask. But before I could, she continued.

"Your dad has passed away."

April 14, 2003.

I drove to the house. I recall not speeding or driving recklessly. But I don't remember going from Towson to Glen Burnie, either. I just got there. Somehow.

When I pulled up in front of the house, there were several Anne Arundel County police cars there, along with an ambulance.

Several emergency workers came out of the house. Alone.

"Maybe he's not dead," I thought right away. "Maybe they're working on him and he's alive, still."

One of them approached me. "Are you the deceased's son?" they asked.

"Deceased..."

"Yes, I am," I said. I started walking to up the sidewalk. It was starting to sink in.

"I'm sorry," the man said. "You can't go inside. We're bringing him out now."

Minutes later, they wheeled him out, covered of course, right past me.

My dad was gone.

He loved sports, did my father. Orioles and Colts were his favorites. My mom and dad both cried the day the Colts moved out of Baltimore. It didn't hit me quite that hard, but their pain was evident. My dad and I probably went to 40 Colts games together over the years. I didn't know how much I'd miss that aspect of our relationship until the team shoved off to Indianapolis.

Thereafter, my dad never connected with the Ravens. He didn't like that Baltimore stole the Browns. I remember once - I think it was 1999 - when I asked him if he wanted to go see the Ravens with me in the new stadium downtown.

"No," he said flatly.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because I'm not a hypocrite. We stole that team from Cleveland and I'll be damned if I'm going to enjoy someone else's team the way those bastards in Indianapolis are enjoying our team. If I wanted to see Cleveland's team I'd go to Cleveland and watch them."

My dad didn't have much of a filter.

And that was that. I hardly ever mentioned the Ravens again in his presence. The day after they won the Super Bowl against the Giants I called him. I asked if he had watched it. He had not.

We went to baseball games, football games, and hockey games together. Curiously, we never saw a basketball game with each other, but he was never all that much into the college or pro game, as I recall.

We attended a NASCAR race together in Dover and went to a couple of Preakness races together, although it was more a business-related occasion. We didn't share a beer in the infield or anything like that.

When I won my first amateur golf tournament, I drove to Glen Burnie with the trophy to tell him about it. He was happy. We had a beer together. Eventually he asked me, "I don't mean to be nosy, but how much money did you win?"

"It's an amateur tournament," I explained. "I won $500 in money you spend in the pro shop. You don't win any cash."

He didn't say anything for a second, letting it all soak in. "That's OK. You would have just spent the money on golf anyway," he reasoned.

A few years later, I started working on the radio. Because the station's signal was weak south of Baltimore, my dad never got to hear me on the air live. So I had our station GM record several shows on cassette and I'd take them to him so he could listen.

"They're paying you for this?" he asked once as we sat out in the front yard listening to a tape of a show on a warm summer afternoon. When I confirmed they were, in fact, he laughed. "You've been doing this stuff with me in the car and the living room since you were six years old. And now they're paying you to do it? Boy, you're something else."

I thought of that exchange the day he passed away. I was standing in that same front yard. Without knowing anything about the viewing and funeral, I decided right then and there I would go to work every day that week in honor of my sports-loving dad.

And, so, I did. I don't know how I went on the air the next day, or the day after, but I showed up and did the best I could. I can't imagine there was much quality to those shows, but I knew he wouldn't want me missing work for him. That would have made him mad.

There's no good way to die, of course, and there's no easy way to find out that a loved one has passed, but getting "the call" and having no time to prepare yourself for that moment is excruciatingly difficult.

I had just talked with him on Friday night. At the end of the conversation, I told him I loved him. "I love you too, buddy," he said.

If those are the last five words your dad says to you, those are five of the best ones you could ever hear.

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so many stories remain in play at augusta


That golf tournament is something else, huh?

Whatever slice of theater you prefer, Augusta National has it for you.

Who wins today?

It's anyone's green jacket, still.

The guy on top of the leaderboard, Francesco Molinari, hit exactly one "off" shot on Saturday en-route to a 6-under par round of 66 and a two-shot lead at 13-under par. Check this out: Molinari has played 54 holes and made one bogey. That's right...one. It came on #11 in Thursday's opening round.

American Tony Finau let Francesco Molinari and the rest of the European Team get the better of him at last year's Ryder Cup. Finau could exact a huge measure of revenge today at Augusta National.

Even at the 18th hole, when he hit a scruffy 6-iron out of the right rough into the front left bunker, the 2018 Ryder Cup star didn't bat an eye. He promptly hoisted a 25-yard bunker shot to four feet beneath the cup and rolled in the par putt. Ho-hum kind of stuff.

Molinari is 18 holes away from owning the distinction as the world's best golfer. The official rankings might say otherwise if he wins, but the PGA Tour membership would know the truth. A Masters win for Molinari and he's the best the game has to offer on April 14, 2019.

Tony Finau is in the hunt at 11-under par, having whistled through Saturday's front nine in 30 shots. A missed 12-foot birdie putt on the 9th green robbed him of a slice of Masters history. He would have been the first player to shoot 29 on Augusta's opening nine holes.

Finau, who started his professional career after a successful stint on The Golf Channel's "Big Break", is surprisingly in the hunt at the Masters. His low-bullet tee ball and left-to-right ball flight don't necessarily fit well with the design of the course, yet there he sits, two shots off the lead and well within striking distance.

The guy to watch, though, might be sitting three shots behind at 10-under par. His name is Brooks Koepka, current holder of the U.S. Open and PGA titles and owner of the lowest pulse in sports. Nothing fazes Koepka, which is probably the biggest reason why he shows up at golf's biggest events and routinely races to the first page of the leaderboard.

If you're looking for a "media story" this week, it's Koepka. Upon showing up looking significantly leaner, the already-fit 3-time major champion confessed he's recently lost 25 pounds. That prompted Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee to over-amplify the weight loss issue and, to add fuel to the fire, he spent most of Thursday's post-round discussion questioning "how tough" Koepka is on the golf course.

A second straight major championship would prove just how "tough" Koepka is, that's for sure.

If the first three or four guys stumble and don't shoot something in the 60's, that will leave the door wide open for the likes of Ian Poulter (-9), Webb Simpson (-9), Dustin Johnson (-8), Xander Schauffele (-8) and Matt Kuchar (-8). It would take a wild series of events for one of those guys to win, but stranger things have indeed happened.

Poulter would seem the least likely to win out of all of those, while Johnson is the one guy who could smash the four par 5 holes and throw together another five birdies to post a 63 or so.

The target score for Molinari is probably -18. If he shoots 67 to finish on that number, those at -11 would have to shoot 64. to beat him. Not impossible, but improbable. And as well as Molinari is playing, he's just as likely to shoot 64 and set a new tournament record himself.

Two popular players have a way-outside-chance of winning. Rickie Fowler (-7) was milling around the leaderboard throughout his back nine before a final hole bogey derailed him. Adam Scott also sits at 7-under. He spent most of Saturday afternoon missing putts, including short ones at 16 and 18.

Those two would need a miracle to win on Sunday. But it's Augusta National, remember, where strange things happen in the final two hours of the tournament.

And veteran Tiger Woods played well on Saturday, shooting 67 and finishing the third round at 11-under par, giving himself a shot at capturing a 5th Masters title.

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Saturday
April 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1692



maybe the best 36 hole leaderboard ever?


Tiger Woods is one shot off the lead at the Masters.

You probably heard that by now. Unless you live under a rock. And even if you do, my guess is you found out somehow early Friday evening that Woods -- 14 years removed from his last win at Augusta -- is at 6 under par through 36 holes, trailing five other major champions by one shot at Augusta National.

And here's the funny thing. "The old Tiger" would have been winning this thing by five shots or so. But the new Tiger -- the 2019 vintage -- can't quite coax home the birdie putts en masse like he did back in the early-to-mid 2000's.

But he's in it, for sure. And as the holes go by, he's looking more and more like a guy starting to sense that this might be the one. His stride is different. His smile is different. He looks like the Tiger Woods we remember in the old days.

To no one's surprise, Brooks Koepka is once again in contention for a major title. He's tied for the 36-hole lead at The Masters with four others at 7 under par.

This one, though, won't be gift-wrapped for Tiger. There's no chance of that happening. The men ahead of him, and those behind him, even, won't be collapsing and giving Woods a 5th green jacket the way Seve helped Jack in 1986, or Floyd aided Faldo in 1990, or Spieth neatly silver-plattered the 2016 title for Danny Willett.

Tiger will have to beat a half dozen or more of the world's best players to win. And the other guys try too, remember.

For Woods to win, he'll have to produce what effectively is a complete turn around on the greens. In Thursday's opening round, there were two five footers missed at the 5th and 6th holes. On Friday, he missed more putts within ten feet than he might have once missed in an entire season of the four major championships.

But he made a few, too. His eight-footer at the first hole saved par and got his day off to a great start. He rolled in a couple of 15-foot curlers at #4 and #6 for birdie. He conquered the difficult 9th green with a 30-footer straight up the hill. He also ran in a 20-footer at #14 after an incredible escape from the trees, then made a 25-footer on the next hole for birdie after a hooked tee-shot left him unable to reach teh green in two shots.

Those were the good putting moments.

But the misses were plenty. And they were costly. He missed a 10-footer for par at the 5th, an 8-footer for birdie at the 12th, a 10-footer for birdie at the 13th, then finished his day by missing from 10-feet again at 17 and 18. Coulda-shoulda-woulda...

This, though, is the Tiger of 2019. As I've noted here on a number of occasions over the last year or so, the Woods we see now misses more "simple" putts than any top player in the world. Mix in the complex nature of the Augusta National greens and the pressure of trying to win a major for the first time since 2008 and you have a volatile combination that could ultimately be his undoing. You just can't keep missing putts within the flagstick and not eventually have them come back to haunt you.

And that leaderboard...holy cow. Five major champions are at 7-under, including Brooks Koepka, who has won three of the last six majors but hasn't yet finished the deal at Augusta. Francesco Molinari is there, along with Jason Day, Adam Scott and Louis Oosthuizen. Any of those five could win and it wouldn't be a shock in the least.

Lurking with Woods at 6-under par are the likes of Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele, who played splendidly on Friday in carding a 65, the low round (thus far) of the tournament. Johnson is perfectly positioned now, hanging around but under no real pressure to step on the gas yet. He can continue to just bomb away on the par 5's, try to scoop up those four easy birdies, and keep the others ahead of him within eyesight.

A 25 foot birdie putt and vintage Tiger fist pump were on display several times at Augusta National on Friday.

Schauffele is on the verge of breaking out as a truly elite player. A major championship would thrust him into that category, and there's no reason to think he can't post something like 15 under by Sunday evening and have Patrick Reed slip that green jacket on him in the Butler Cabin.

Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm both sit just two shots back at 5-under par. Poulter would be an unlikely winner, but he's been knocking on the door at major championships for a decade now and might finally wind up sneaking through this time around. Rahm, who overcame what he called a "bone rattling" shank on the 8th hole, played solid golf on the incoming nine to stay well within striking distance. He could win the golf tournament and no one would be surprised.

With 36 holes remaining, it's anyone's ballgame that's at 2-under or better. That list is too long to publish here, but anyone in that vicinity needs nothing more than a pair of 66's and some help from those above them on the leaderboard.

But all eyes are fixed on one guy: Tiger Woods.

It's not his tournament to lose, by any means, but Tiger is now in contention in his third straight major. He nearly won the British Open last July, finished 2nd to Koepka at the PGA in August, and now rests just one shot behind the leaders at the halfway point.

More than anything, something about Tiger looks different this time around at Augusta. His body language, his golf swing, his reaction to good shots and missed putts. It all looks eerily similar to the guy we used to watch win tournaments at will a decade or so ago.

He looks like the Tiger Woods we used to know.

And it's Augusta National, where he's won four times.

This wouldn't quite be Nicklaus in 1986. Jack was basically washed up by then. But if Tiger, at age 43, somehow overcomes the quality of players above and around him on the leaderboard, it would be, without question, the greatest win of his career.

Buckle up for what could be one of the greatest Masters weekends ever.

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here's why davis is still employed


A #DMD reader commented on Friday that we (as in, the baseball loving community) have no idea, really, why the Orioles continue to play Chris Davis.

No offense, but he/she must not be paying attention.

There's only one reason why Davis hasn't been released yet.

The Orioles don't want to pay him $92 million to go away.

It's that simple.

He hasn't recorded a base hit since last September 14. He's 0-for-54 this season after recording the game's final out last night as a pinch-hitter.

Unless you're a Davis sympathizer -- and if you are, that doesn't make you a bad person -- you're probably in the camp that says there's no reason to have him on the major league roster any longer. None whatsoever.

But the Orioles owe him four years of salary still (including 2019), so all they get by cutting him is a fairly large "account settlement" letter from Davis' agent.

In some ways, I get it. I've never had $92 million to give away to someone who no longer works for me, but I can imagine it would be a painful thing to do.

It's not $9 million. It's not even $29 million. While both of those are large sums of money to those of us among the great unwashed, $9 million and $29 million is pocket change to a major league team. $92 million, however, is a different story.

Play this game: If Davis had $9 million left on his contract, would the Orioles cut him? Of course. Money wouldn't matter at that point. But when it's $92 million, money does matter. Encyclopedia Brown would have this mystery figured out by Chapter 3.

So, I get it. The hold up is the $92 million. But, as I've written here previously, you're giving Davis $92 million if he hits .260 or .120 (don't we wish?). Davis can go hitless for the rest of April and May and the Orioles are still paying him $23 million this year. Let that sink in...

Or they can release him and pay him $23 million. Either way, he gets $23 million in 2019. And three more years of the deal still remain, of course.

I vote for cutting him loose simply as an indicator that the Orioles are taking themselves seriously. It's hard to do that, in my opinion, when you have Chris Davis playing.

But here's the one thing we all know: The reason he hasn't been released is because the Orioles owe him $92 million. If they owed him $9 million, he'd be long gone.

There's zero doubt about that.

Now, whether or not you agree with the Orioles' decision to keep Davis around is up to you. I'm not here to convince you either way. I'm just here to tell you it's as obvious as it can be. The organization doesn't want to pay a guy $92 million and not make him work for it.

Meanwhile, he's due to get a hit soon. Maybe today, even. Wouldn't that be cool?

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this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


Several meaningful conference games are on tap for the weekend. Rather than dig deep into a single game, let's do a brief look at the better match-ups.

#11 Towson (7-3) vs #19 UMass (7-4) (Saturday 12 pm, Johnny Unitas Stadium) - My Tigers started off hot in the beginning of the year, but have come back to the pack some before reeling off 2 straight CAA wins. The Minutemen were riding a 6-game win streak before Hofstra tripped them up in a comeback overtime win, which has to sting.

Coach Shawn Nadelen and his Towson Tigers need a conference win today to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.

The CAA is pretty wide open with 4 teams in the mix including Delaware and Hofstra with these two. Both teams feature elite face-off units, solid goalie play and decent offense, so this game will be close. However, the Tigers have played the tougher schedule and are home. UMass will have something to prove, so let's give this one to Towson 10-9 over UMass in a nail-biter.

#16 Johns Hopkins (6-4) vs #12 Ohio State (7-2) (Sunday 12 pm, Homewood Field) - Just a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure if the Blue Jays had the stuff to make the B1G tournament and I was ready to pencil in the Buckeyes as the 3-seed at worst. But now, it's Hopkins with a 2-0 conference record and Ohio State (0-2 in B1G) needing to win 2 of their last 3 to hopefully get the #4 seed.

The Buckeyes started out the season strong and have some respectible wins against Hofstra and Notre Dame. But have come back to earth the past few weeks against Penn State and Rutgers, whom the Blue Jays just knocked off. Meanwhile Hopkins has steadily improved and super-freshman Joey Epstein has assumed the leadership role in the offence. This coinflip may come down the the battle at the X and midfield play. The Buckeyes backs are against the wall. But the Blue Jays are playing with confidence. Hopkins 12 - Buckeyes 11 in a pick'em.

#2 Loyola (9-2) @ Boston U (8-4) (Saturday 12 pm, Boston MA) - The Terriers are coming off a big win against Patriot League foe #20 Army and now face a Greyhound team that is on a roll. Boston is currently in 4th place in the Patriot League. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds completely demolished #17 Lehigh and appear to be unstoppable as the league leaders.

If Bailey Savio can continue to be strong at the face-off X with this offense, the sky is the limit. Boston can put up numbers too, but not at Loyola's pace. And not with Jacob Stover in the goal. The Terriers will get their shots. But the Greyhounds will continue to roll, 16-11.

#3 Maryland (9-2) @ Rutgers (6-5) (Sunday 7 pm, Piscataway NJ) - The Terps and the Scarlet Knights are both 1-1 in the B1G. However, Maryland lost to #1 Penn State while Rutgers spotted Hopkins a 6-0 lead before making a spirited comeback. However, Rutgers didn't have an answer on face-offs and their defense couldn't stop Hopkins offense when it needed to. But just the week prior, they appeared to be unstoppable against Ohio State.

The Terps have been a model of consistency with the exception of a few bad starts against Notre Dame and Penn State. Not sure which Scarlet Knight team we will see this weekend. We'll go with the one that beat Ohio State, which should make for an entertaining game. We'll go with Maryland 15-12.

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Friday
April 12
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#1691



phil, tiger lurking, but can they beat the young guns?


If the golf gods have their say, you know exactly what Sunday afternoon at The Masters is going to look like.

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, in the last group, teeing off around 2:30 pm, trying to hold off the likes of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm.

The young guns vs. the old champions.

Jim Nantz and the folks at CBS would be in their glory. And the golf world would be, too. But there are 54 holes remaining and lots of nerve-wracking five footers await the players between now and Sunday.

For one day at least, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were once again part of the leaderboard narrative at The Masters.

Speaking of those nerve-wracking five-footers, two of them missed by Tiger Woods on Thursday cost him a chance at a terrific round of four-under-par 68. Instead, with those misses at the 5th (for par) and 6th (for birdie), Tiger carded a good-but-not-great round of 70. Historians quickly noted that in three of Tiger's four Masters wins, he recorded that exact score -- 2-under -- in Thursday's opening round.

But the older one of the dynamic duo came through in a big way on Thursday, as 48-year old Phil Mickelson thrust himself near the top of the leaderboard with a 5-under round of 67. Mickelson won't ever catch Woods in terms of career wins or major championships. Those two ships sailed from port a long time ago. But with one more Masters win, Phil could equal Tiger's green jacket haul of four, and you know Mickelson is well aware of that. Another major victory of any kind would also tie Mickelson with Nick Faldo at six, and that, too, is probably somewhat important to the left hander.

The odds, though, are stacked against Mickelson and Woods this week, as Father Time flips the page on them and turns them from the hunted into the hunter. If there was ever a place where their nose for golf and grinding could get them through, it's Augusta National. But the players on the leaderboard around them are longer, stronger and have an appetite for winning that quite possibly can't be outscored.

Koepka and DeChambeau both shot 6-under on Thursday, with Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter at 4-under par and Adam Scott and Jon Rahm among those just three behind at 3-under par.

Several pre-tournament favorites failed to ignite on Thursday, including Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose (both with 75), along with Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and defending champion Patrick Reed (1-over 73). None of those guys are out of it, yet, but they'll have to do some serious playing over the next two days to work their way back into it.

DeChambeau wound up being the story of the day.

He was chugging along decently at 1-under par through 11 holes, then played his final six holes in five under par, including birdies at 15, 16, 17 and 18. If not for a bogey at the 14th hole, he'd be the sole leader after 18 holes. His final shot of the day from 180 yards out raced up the slope at the 18th green, belted the pin, and settled 3 inches from the cup. It was quite a final 75 minutes for DeChambeau, who hung around the leaderboard as an amateur for a couple of days in 2016 before fading on the weekend.

Koepka might be golf's most interesting man these days. He's won three of golf's last six major championships, yet has just five total wins on TOUR. He's not a fluke, mind you. Not at all. He just "plays" the regular tournaments and "wins" the majors. It's an interesting approach if you can master it, no pun intended.

Dustin Johnson has positioned himself nicely behind the lead horses at the first turn. Johnson is the one player who could just go 68-68-68-68 and post 16-under par mainly by playing the par 5 holes well. He birdied three of the four yesterday, failing only to make "4" on the 15th hole. If he can continue to birdie three of those par-5 holes every day, you can expect he'll be in the hunt come Sunday afternoon.

Lots of great players were in red numbers on Thursday, but Friday's conditions -- expected to worsen through the day -- might make it more interesting for the afternoon wave of players, which include McIlroy, Rahm, Fowler and Woods, to name four. With the wet weather expected throughout the weekend in Augusta, scoring could definitely be higher over the final 36 holes. Getting two good rounds in on Thursday and Friday could be supremely important for anyone hoping to wear the green jacket on Sunday night.

It's still anyone's Masters. But you just know the golf gods have their two favorites. And a Mickelson-Woods Sunday duel would be one for the ages.

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chris davis: sympathy or scorn?


National baseball writer Ken Rosenthal -- the best in the business -- offered an interesting opinion on Thursday.

He believes O's first baseman Chris Davis -- now hitless in his last 53 at-bats after going 0-for-3 yesterday -- deserves sympathy, not scorn.

Rosenthal made what turned out to be a human plea on Thursday. Stop beating Davis up and try lifting him up instead. It sounded mostly like Rosenthal was directing his comments at the fans, many of whom head to social media every night to laugh, ridicule and throw mean-spirited barbs at Davis. He's an easy target, naturally, mired in perhaps the worst "slump" in the history of sports.

That Davis makes $161 million makes it much easier for fans and media members to poke at him. And while I understand Rosenthal's main point, the money does matter. It's not something any of us can identify with. Making $23 million a year? Can't identify. Making $23 million and being "unfireable"? Can't identify. Making $23 million a year and getting that money no matter how well you do your job? Can't identify.

Still trying hard. Still hitless. Still getting paid.

To me, that's where the story is with Chris Davis.

If, say, this were Trey Mancini at 0-for-53, I can't imagine the feelings for him would be the same as they are for Davis. While he might deserve sympathy in the most human of ways, it's hard for the normal, every day "Joe" or "Jane" to connect with Davis in a human way. We simply can't identify.

The Orioles are to blame, ultimately. Not because they signed him. But because they now refuse to acknowledge their mistake. And, yes, as I've noted here on many an occasion, it's not my $92 million and, yes, $92 million is a lot to fork over to someone who isn't working for you any longer.

But in simple math, it works like this. The Orioles are going to pay Chris Davis $92 million because they owe him that money. They can't get out of it. But what they don't owe him is the opportunity to continue to play. If he plays, or doesn't, they're paying him $92 million.

I'll continue to press on my point of last week. I don't know how the Orioles ask accountability of responsbility of their young, minor league prospects -- or anyone on the big league roster, for that matter -- when they themselves don't have any of it when it comes to Chris Davis.

That Brandon Hyde continues to stick with Davis and say the right things is what a manager should do. Hyde's trying to do what he can to help a player on his roster. Good for him.

But with each passing day that Davis remains employed, the message the Orioles are sending is a bad one. A really bad one. At some point, I think, Chris Davis is going to get a hit again. He might even go 2-for-4 in a game. But this episode with him has spoiled the early returns on the new Angelos-family regime and that, too, of Mike Elias. Elias, of course, might not be to blame. For all we know, he could have suggested releasing Davis a week ago and the Angelos brothers might have told him to stay in his lane.

Everyone gets some measure of blame in the end.

And Rosenthal ultimately might be right. Perhaps Davis does deserve sympathy. But the Orioles certainly deserve scorn.

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Thursday
April 11
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#1690



well...are you still watching?


We're a dozen games into the baseball season, so this seems like a decent opportunity to check your temperature for the Orioles and the baseball season.

Based on the attendance of the three games in the Oakland series thus far (just over 20,000...total), your temperature is probably "cool" at best. But I'll ask anyway.

Are you still watching?

If you missed last night's game, I'll give you the quick summmary. It's all you need to know. Some guy named Dan Straily started for the O's and got lit up. They lost 10-3. Khris Davis hit two home runs. No, not that "Chris" Davis. He's Oakland's "Khris" Davis. Chris Davis of the Orioles didn't start for the second straight night, came in to pinch hit in the 9th, flew out, and is now 0-for-29 to start the season.

I'm not sure why the Orioles insist on playing a guy who hasn't had a hit since last September 14, but they do. If, say, Cedric Mullins had been called up last September 10, collected a hit or two, then failed to get a hit from September 14 until now, he'd be in Norfolk already. Davis, of course, wouldn't accept a demotion to Norfolk, so I suppose the O's will keep trotting him out there to prove a point. What point they're trying to prove, I don't know. But anyway...

Yikes...

Are you still watching?

My schedule has been kind of screwy these first two weeks of the season, so I'm not yet watching with any real regularity, but that's not because I'm less interested now than I was twelve days ago. I just haven't had the chance to plop down in front of the TV or even have it on as white noise while doing something else. Last night was one of those "white noise" occasions and, if I'm being honest here, I fell asleep around the 6th inning or so.

The attendance for the three Yankee games was solid, but one of those was the home opener (which came up 1,000 seats shy of a complete, "real" sell out) and the other two were weekend affairs. The real litmus test has come this week. And the results haven't been good. Even though the weather has been great, the crowds have been embarrassing. And that's "embarrassing" for any team, anywhere, not just in Baltimore. There might not have been 1,500 warm, breathing bodies in the stadium for Monday night's series opener with the A's.

Is this what we're in for in 2019?

We know the team is going to be terrible. But are we in for regular weeknight crowds of less than 10,000 on a regular basis? If that's the case, I can't imagine the TV numbers are going to be respectable, either.

I'm not suggesting Baltimore's "wrong" for not supporting the team. I mean, Mike Elias pretty much told everyone in January that the ballclub is going to lose in a big way this season. What would motivate the casual fan to go out at this point?

But these crowds...holy cow. And remember, the Orioles are not obligated at all to tell the truth about the attendance. They are merely under American League rules to report tickets sold, not bodies in seats. So, for example, that 7,900 last night was likely more in the 4,000 neighborhood, according to my spies-in-the-sky. Even the home opener was a small fib. They announced a "sell out", because A.L. rules say if 96% of the seats are sold, you can announce a sell out.

I don't know about you -- and this is where my limited Glen Burnie H.S. education might play a role -- but when I hear "sell out", I believe that means "there aren't any tickets left to sell." You could have walked up to the box office on opening day and purchased a ticket. You could have done that in the 4th inning as well. They had a great crowd on opening day, but it wasn't "sold out".

The TV numbers will be important, too.

Is anyone still watching this fiasco?

It's hard to tell.

I'm not hearing any buzz on the street, other than for Chris Davis, as everyone wonders when he might get his next base hit.

Other than that, no one seems to even know who the Birds are playing or when the next game might be.

I'm "in", as I've said all spring. I'm going to the games once my schedule allows for it and I'll be watching along the way, although I'd be fibbing if I said I was going to make it a point to watch every single day. That's not happening in 2019.

What about you? What are your thoughts 12 games into the season? Please use the Comments section below and tell us.

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the best four sports days of the year


It's like auto racing's Daytona 500, except it's four days long instead of six hours in duration.

Today starts The Masters.

Of all the golf tournaments in the world -- and there are a lot of special ones -- this is the best of them all.

The course is hard, but playable.

The greens are tough, but negotiable.

Tiger would love to quiet Brandel Chamblee and the rest of his critics this week.

Win and you're in for life.

Here's a quick look at some nuggets for this year's event.

Who wins? -- I love Francesco Molinari this year. He has everything you need to win at Augusta. Since length off the tee isn't a massive pre-requisite, he won't be hampered by his 290 yard drives. I also think Justin Rose is primed to win. He's been close a couple of times and this is now almost his tournament to lose.

Darkhorse candidates -- As I wrote here yesterday, Martin Kaymer looks in great form. He hasn't won much since his 2014 U.S. Open victory, but that's his style. He sort of comes out of nowhere and plays well for a week or three and wins something significant. How about this for a longshot? Vijay Singh has won at Augusta before, played well a month ago in a PGA Tour event, and could easily play his way into contention this week. The course typically gets too much for 50-something former champions, but Singh isn't your typical "old guy". He can still play. And for one more ultra-dark-horse, how about the guy who just won last week, Corey Conners. He hasn't been able to secure many starts on TOUR in the last two years, but when he has made an event he's acquitted himself very well. Last week's win wasn't a fluke.

What will Tiger do? -- I see lots of positives about Tiger's game, but just don't think he can handle the Augusta greens for four days. Those three to six foot putts require some serious nerve. And while he used to have that trait in massive quantities, there's less in the tank than in year's past. I think he'll start slow, like he tends to do, with a 73 today. He'll pop up on the second page of the leaderboard on Friday with 69. Throw a 70 up there on Saturday to sit at -4 heading into Sunday, which will be eight shots behind the third round leader. And he'll finish at -8 after a final round 68, six shots behind Molinari. I wish I had better news to pre-report. I'd love to see Tiger win. All the golfing world would, I think. But it's not in the cards.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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


in case you hadn’t noticed


In case you hadn’t noticed, the best team in baseball so far has been the Seattle Mariners, who are 12-2 on the young season after a 6-5 win in Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Mariners have done what every good team in modern baseball seems to do: hit a lot of home runs. With at least one homer in each of its first 13 games, Seattle was one short of the Major League record, previously set by Cleveland 17 years ago. The Mariners hit a total of 33 homers in their first 13 games, equaling the record set by St. Louis 19 years ago.

Remember the hot start Tim Beckham had for the Orioles when he came over from the Rays in 2017? Well, Beckham is doing it again at the start of 2019 for Seattle, where he signed as a free agent in January. He had 16 hits in his first 40 at-bats, including four home runs and five doubles. His 13 runs and 33 total bases lead the American League, as do his five errors at shortstop. That sounds about right.

Seattle was projected, by PECOTA, to win 75 games this season. The Mariners dealt Robinson Canó to the Mets for five players back in December. Like so many teams in both leagues, it’s questionable whether the Seattle front office is really trying to win in 2019.

Tough luck, I guess. The Mariners might have a hard time trying to be mediocre now, though with their current roster I suppose that’s not out of the realm of possibility.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the 3-9 Boston Red Sox have been one of the worst teams in baseball in 2019. By run differential, at minus-28, only the Rockies have been worse. This is a team that, in 2018, had a run differential of plus-229 on the way to 108 victories, one of the greatest seasons in Major League history.

David Price has allowed eight runs in 12 innings, while Chris Sale has been even worse, allowing 13 runs in 13 innings. Rick Porcello has been even worse than that, allowing 11 earned runs and 16 hits in seven innings.

The defending World Series champions have allowed nearly seven runs per game in their first 12 games. There’s little chance of that kind of stretch continuing for much longer, of course, but it’s not a great omen, even with the experience and history of the pitching staff.

Much has been made already, and will continue to be made, of the Red Sox epic 11-game West Coast road swing to begin the 2019 season. Fans in the Hub are no doubt wondering how the champs, of all teams, can be sent on such a trip to start the year.

Of course, the 2019 MLB schedule was finalized and announced in August 2018, well before any victory parades were scheduled. The 2018 Red Sox finished 51-30 in road games, so they did just fine. It’s quite possible that the Sox front office itself asked MLB to begin the year on the road for at least the first week, considering the likelihood of cold weather at Fenway.

The 2018 season was a bit of an anomaly in the American League with three teams — the Red Sox, Astros and Yankees — winning 100 or more games. Perhaps those teams will end up in similar positions in the standings in 2019, but it’s not going to be with those kinds of gaudy numbers.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Virginia Cavaliers weren’t some plucky group who spent the year and the 2019 NCAA tournament making amends for a devastating loss to some school called the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the previous year’s NCAA tournament.

Here’s the truth, and this doesn’t happen every year, as much as you think it would…Virginia won 35 games, more than any other team. Virginia lost only three games, fewer than any other team. They were probably the best team!

Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers actually only lost to two teams — to Duke in the regular season, twice, and to Florida State in the ACC tournament. More than half of his team’s wins came against squads that Ken Pomeroy ranked in the top “A” tier.

A game at Maryland was one of Virginia’s 35 victories, back in November as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, which still seems weird to say when the Terps play one of their long-time rivals. Maryland, arguably, played better against the Cavs in the regular season than any team besides Duke.

The Terps made 20 of their 33 shots from inside the three-point arc in that game. The problem, like it often is with Virginia, is that Maryland got behind by too many points with too little time remaining in the game. A 17-point lead for the Cavs four minutes into the second half was too much to handle.

Of course, the Cavs had double-digit leads against both Auburn and Texas Tech much later in each game in the Final Four, only to have those leads disappear quickly. There are good reasons that teams end up in the Final Four.

In case you hadn’t noticed, and why would you, the NFL announced preseason schedules on Tuesday. The local 22 will be at home for the first two exhibition games, against Jacksonville and Green Bay. John Harbaugh’s team will have a joint practice with the Jaguars in Owings Mills.

Of course, the Ravens have won their last 13 preseason games. Woo hoo! Let’s keep it going!

In other news, the release of the preseason schedule is only interesting for the fact that it means the regular-season schedule is about to be released. Based on recent history, that will happen on the Thursday the week before the NFL Draft, as in a week from today.

Remember that all we need to know is the dates. Besides the divisional home and away games, the Ravens will play the Patriots, Jets, Texans, 49ers and Cardinals at home, and the Dolphins, Bills, Chiefs, Seahawks and Rams on the road.

Also, I’d bet my yacht that the Ravens and Steelers will be scheduled for a Sunday night game. It will be interesting to see if the “Lamar Jackson Effect” has any bearing on the Ravens’ appearances in those types of spotlight games, which have been lacking in recent years.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, the Stanley Cup playoffs began last night. It hit 80 degrees in Baltimore on both Monday and Tuesday; by the time the playoffs are over, we’ll be wishing it’s that cool and comfortable.

The Capitals are playing the Carolina Hurricanes, starting tonight in D.C. Washington won all four regular-season games between the teams (one was an overtime win), though they finished with very similar overall records, just five points apart.

I have to admit that, the other day, I was taken aback by a headline from the Capitals website, one that said that the team would be playing “a bunch of jerks” in the first round of the playoffs.

I must have missed that, back in February, legendary Canadian hockey commentator Don Cherry referred to the Hurricanes as “a bunch of jerks” because of their unique postgame celebrations after home wins. Of course, a marketing opportunity can never go to waste; it wasn’t 24 hours later that the Hurricanes introduced an officially licensed “Bunch of Jerks” t-shirt, which you can buy for $32. Not surprisingly, the shirts are in high demand, so if you buy one, please allow one to two weeks for delivery.

Probably much longer than the bunch of jerks will be in the playoffs, but you never know…

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Wednesday
April 10
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#1689



postcard from augusta


As our pre-Masters coverage concludes today, we'll take you (almost) live to Augusta National, with plenty of sights and sounds from Tuesday's practice round at the famous North Georgia golf course.

Another spirited group of #DMD enthusiasts made the trip down there this year, and despite an early morning thunderstorm that closed the course for the better part of three hours, a good time was had by all. Once the sun burst through shortly before 2 pm, it was a glorious spring day among the magnolias.

If you're a believer that practice rounds and pre-tournament work matter, here's a look at several individuals I saw yesterday and some thoughts on them.

Do not put Patrick Reed in your fantasy lineup this week. Reed was struggling on the practice range throughout his one-hour session there. The defending Masters champ recently started working with swing instructor David Leadbetter, and any significant change in a player's move takes time to settle in. Leadbetter previously said, "I'm not tearing anything apart. Just making a minor tweak here and there."

If Tuesday's practice round form is a true indicator of what lies ahead, Patrick Reed is in for a quick two-day stay at Augusta National.

If Tuesday's range session was any indication, Reed might be due for a major change. It was scary-ugly.

Of the 30 or so players I watched hit balls for any length of time, three guys stood out to me: Martin Kaymer (most impressive of them all), Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith. Kaymer's game hasn't been the same since he won the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Rahm and Smith are both looking for their first major title. If Tuesday's form is any indicator, they might be in the hunt this week.

Editor's note: I'm not one to put much stock in practice round sessions. Especially at a nuanced place like Augusta National, where experience matters as much as anything about your swing.

There was an interesting side note with Tom Watson. This could have just been a coincidence, but it was interesting all the same. At least a dozen well-wishers stopped by his area on the range and exchanged pleasantries. Nearly every one of those guys (players, caddies, equipment reps) took off their hat as they approached Watson for a handshake. Watson didn't remove his hat for anyone -- for whatever reason -- except: Tiger Woods. I thought that was curiously odd. It could have been nothing more than happenstance, though.

On the putting green by the first tee, Si Woo Kim put on a flat-stick display for 15 minutes that was very impressive. At one point, Kim rolled in 11 straight putts from 15 feet, then moved the ball up to about 8 feet and made 10 more of those in a row. As he showed last week at the Texas Valero Open, Kim's short game and work around the greens is remarkable. His putting on Tuesday was better than that. At one point, a patron said, "Don't you ever miss?" and Kim nodded and pointed to the green and the balls as if to say, "Yes, that's why I'm here."

It was a muddy mess outside the ropes yesterday, the likes of which will take months of recovery time from the 40,000 people who navigated the grounds all day. But if you reached under ropes and touched the fairway, just three feet from you, it was dry as a bone. The sub-air system they use at Augusta to remove any moisture out of the fairways and "first cut" is remarkable. With the predicted wet weather for this Saturday, the massive underground set-up will again be put to the test.

People occasionally ask me what's the one thing about Augusta that you can see on TV and that answer is easy. Anyone who has been will tell you the same thing. You have no idea by watching it on television how much the course goes up and down. Number 10 is like a ski slope going from the fairway to the green and Number 18 is that way in reverse. You could definitely have a great sledding experience going from 18 green down to the front of the tee box.

Look for the now-lengthened 5th hole (495 yards) to be much discussed this week. The bunker you'll see on the left is a 310 yard carry and even some of the game's longest players like Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm were unable to negotiate it on Tuesday. This means players will have to play their drive out to the right for the most part, which lengthens the second shot considerably. You might see some guys hitting utility clubs to that hole if they don't flush their drive at #5.

Francesco Molinari was on the practice green for a good 30-40 minutes. I thought about letting him know he was my predicted winner for this year's event, then realized that might be a smidge too much pressure on him. Better to just let the man play golf.

Tickets for today's round -- which includes the par-3 tournament -- were selling for $3,500 yesterday. Keep in mind, the purchase price of those tickets was $75 each. That's a pretty hefty mark up. I have no idea if people are actually going to pay $3,500 for them today, but the ticket resale business typically works off an easy-to-figure-out equation. If it sells for $500, say, then the next one should be worth $525. I love Augusta National and the Masters tournament, but not $3,500 enough.

I was standing by the 16th tee yesterday when Mark ("please don't put my name out there, my employer doesn't know I'm here") came up to me and introduced himself. He was a former listener and saw my Calvert Hall apparel and wandered up to me. As a side note, I saw exactly eight people I knew yesterday at Augusta National. Talk about "Smaltimore" and a small world all wrapped up in one. Anyway, Mark and I talked radio days for a few minutes and he offered to buy me a beer. I passed on the beer but said I'd take an iced tea. Minutes later, Mark was handing me my first ever Pimento cheese sandwich ($1.50). It was incredibly average, at best. No offense to the fine people at Augusta or to anyone who likes Pimento cheese sandwiches, but it's an acquired taste, I guess.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



With Baltimore's sports attention taken up by the beginning of the baseball season and Chris Davis's, um, historic start to 2019, you might not have noticed that the NFL draft is just two weeks away. And judging by the local chatter on social media, you wouldn't be alone. Normally this time of year is dominated by Ravens talkers on Twitter hyper-focusing on potential picks, arguments about need, draft strategy, trading down, etc. This year that topic has been decidedly more muted, for whatever reason.

But hey, we're talking about it now, right?

As always when the conversation involves the Ravens and the draft, the big elephant in the room is wide receivers. As always, the Ravens need some. In fact, this year they need some more than in any year in recent memory. And not just upgrades or potential stars at the position, this year they need at least one or two more guys who just look like adequate NFL players at wideout.

But on the other hand...they're not good at picking receivers, to say the least. They don't pick that many of them, historically, and they've whiffed on an awful lot of the ones they have chosen. And while the guard has been changed in the GM's office, the new boss was still the old boss's number two guy, so if he wasn't able to reverse those fortunes from that position it seems unlikely that he himself will suddenly reverse the Ravens' record when it comes to picking receivers. Which could create a problem, because there's a decent chance that a crop of high-risk-high-reward receivers could be on the board when the Ravens make their first pick.

With Terrell Suggs now gone and Za'Darius Smith in Green Bay, the Ravens' pass rush is already more thin than this time a year ago.

The Ravens could use some pass rushers too. For the past several seasons now, the team's pass rush has been mostly the same. It's fine, and can even tally sacks in bunches like we saw last year in Tennessee. But it's also got a tendency to be inconsistent on a game to game or even quarter to quarter basis, and it often relies heavily on blitzing to disrupt the opposing quarterback.

While they've got a fairly big group of solid-to-good pass rushers, they don't have anybody who is really good at it. They lack, and have lacked, one or two guys in the defensive front who are truly disruptive pass rushers who have to be accounted for on any given play and might wreck your play or wallop your QB anyway. That lack of consistent playmakers creates the inconsistent results we often see from the defense, especially against teams with a good offensive line or in situations where the opposing offense is able to use tempo or some other factor to force the team out of its blitz packages and into a more basic scheme with a four man rush.

You're simply not going to be a dominant defense if you have to bring 6 guys after the quarterback to get pressure consistently.

Oh, and they still need some offensive linemen too, particularly in the interior. The Ravens mostly had converted tackles playing opposite Marshall Yanda (and as reserves), which was fine for protecting Joe Flacco in the passing game but is ill-suited to the kind of running based offense we're likely to see with Lamar Jackson at the helm. Yanda isn't going anywhere, but realistically the Ravens could stand to make additions at left guard and center to maximize their O-line's value to Jackson's skills.

The Ravens can't fill all of those needs with the 22nd overall pick, obviously. Truth be told they can barely do it through the fourth round, with five picks to work with and anywhere from 6-8 roster spots they need to fill on paper. So where should they look when choices have to be made? What should they prioritize adding to their roster whenever it's ultimately their turn to hand in a card?

Good players.

Seriously, it's that simple. At the end of the day, the Ravens' most pressing need is good players. Well not good players, exactly. They need great players. Really good players at impact positions who can alter the trajectory of the game at any time.

Guys who can, to borrow a euphemism I mostly hate but is apt here, make plays by beating the guy across from them. Or better yet, making them even when the other guy hasn't obviously been beaten. Think about the receiver who snatches a contested ball even though the DB has great coverage on him or the pass rusher whose second move is too good/quick for blockers to stop, even if they've done an excellent job with their initial block.

The fact of the matter is that the Ravens haven't had many players like that in recent years, and it shows. It's not that hard to demarcate the difference between the mostly .500 post-Super Bowl rosters and, say, the two 12 wins groups from 2010 and 2011. Those teams might not have had good offenses, and they may have been lacking for high end talent at skill positions amongst many other flaws you could point out.

But what did they have? Well on the front end they had Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, who were both among the very best in the game at their positions and who could give any offense fits trying to keep away from the quarterback at the same time. On the back end you had Ed Reed, who's instincts and reads were as good as ever at that point, and who quarterbacks had to keep tabs on at all time even while Suggs and Ngata were leading that pass rush. Oh, and Ray Lewis was there too.

And that, in a nutshell, is the difference between a 12 win team and an 8-10 win team. Those teams certainly weren't flawless, and the offensive rosters look even worse now than they did then, honestly. But having a truly great defensive unit made up for a lot, in the same way that, say, last year's Chiefs being outstanding on offense did a lot to paper over a very bad defense.

And the difference between having those kinds of great units that can carry you to 11 or 12 wins and merely having a good to very good unit like the Ravens have had ever since then is having high end talent anchoring it all.

The Ravens do have a lot of positional needs going into the draft, and they're probably going to leave at least one of them unaddressed in the early rounds. That's fine as far as it goes. The main focus needs to be identifying available players who are going to be studs at the next level, regardless of the position, which is something that they just having been doing well enough for a while now. Get that high end talent, and you can make up for a hole or two on your roster.

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Tuesday
April 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1688



and your green jacket winner is . . .


Picking a winner at Augusta National is awfully challenging.

I've done it twice, actually. In 2009, I successfully called Angel Cabrera as the winner. He won a three-man playoff, you might remember, against Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry, who squandered a two-shot lead with bogeys at the 17th and 18th holes in regulation.

In 2017, I predicted that Sergio Garcia would capture his first major championship with a win at Augusta National. He did just that, and, like Cabrera, needed a playoff victory over Justin Rose to earn his green jacket.

I have a great feeling about the 2019 winner, although I'll be the first to say that there are several players I didn't even mention in my Top 15 who could win this year's Masters.

I could see Rickie Fowler winning. I know my buddy George is cackling loudly somewhere in North Carolina as he reads that. [Gagging, actually.] I could see Jon Rahm winning, too, although Augusta usually makes a player experience a painful loss before granting him a delightful win. Want a real wild card? How about 24-year old Haotong Li from China. He's won seven times already in his professional career.

Any of the previous 14 players I've highlighted here at #DMD over the last two weeks could win and it wouldn't surprise me.

Is it Dustin Johnson's time to shine? I think it might be.

Rory McIlroy? The timing definitely seems to favor him.

Justin Thomas? This would really qualify him as one of the top players in the world.

Bryson DeChambeau? Wouldn't shock me at all to see him shoot 70-66-68-69 and win by three shots.

Francesco Molinari on a good day.

But if you're pressing me for a predicted winner, here he is: I think Francesco Molinari will be the 2019 Masters champion.

No player in the world has played better golf than Molinari over the last eight months. He pulled away from the field at the British Open last July, was the best player at the Ryder Cup last September by anyone's standards, won at Bay Hill in early March, and finished third at last week's Match Play championship.

Francesco Molinari is a world class player. And Augusta will serve him well later this week.

His track record at the Masters is far from impressive. He's played in the event seven times in the last nine years, making five cuts. He's never finished inside the top 15, with a T20 and T19 serving as his best performances ever.

But that was then. This is now.

Molinari's golf is world class in 2019. But his stats aren't. By TOUR standards, he's definitely short off the tee, averaging just over 290 yards per drive. His greens-in-regulation numbers (63%) aren't great, either. His scoring average (71.5) won't blow you away.

But the tougher the venue, the better he plays. And the bigger the event, the more you're going to see of Molinari near the top of the leaderboard.

He's ready to win another major.

In fact, I think he's winning this first one of the 2019 season.

Pasta and a nice Chianti for next year's Champion's Dinner? Yes, indeed.

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about that cbs headline


I saw in the comments posted yesterday where someone made specific reference to the headline of Monday's lede story -- "Shame on you, CBS".

In essence, the commenter made a point about religion "shaming" someone who either doesn't believe or believes differently than I do.

In hindsight, I agree the headline was off base.

The original headline -- "CBS doesn't want you to know basketball teams pray and worship God" -- seemed a bit too wordy, so the headline writer went with "Shame on you, CBS". The term "shame on you" wasn't necessarily meant to heap "shame" on CBS, but was rather a quick, playful way to say "you did a bad thing, CBS."

But I can see where "Shame on you, CBS" comes across as anything but playful. I've admonished the headline writer and instructed him to think those things through more carefully next time.

We probably should have just stuck with, "CBS doesn't want you to know basketball teams pray and worship God". That would have been more in line with what we really wanted the headline to read and would have connected better with the story itself.

It wasn't our intention to cross the line. We'll try and do better in the future.

DF

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PGA Tour Pickem Contest

The picks are out for the second half of the Tour's regular season. Drew, reeling from a four-week stretch where he hasn't had a winning tournament, attempts to hold on to a razor-thin 170-point lead during the meat of the season. There are some fascinating picks on both sides. It should be a good battle in Augusta this week, with Francesco against Alexander. The best odds against Molinari are 25-1; the best against Schauffele, 40-1. I just hope the Masters is half as exciting as this year's NCAA Mens Basketball Championship.


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Monday
April 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1687



shame on you, cbs


(Back to Apr. 9 piece)

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard was on his way to the locker room after the Red Raiders big win over Michigan State on Saturday night when the CBS floor cameras high-tailed it behind him. They wanted to be there for the big celebration when Beard met up with his players and staff.

CBS expected to see a raucous scene in the Texas Tech locker room. They were primed for dancing and water squirting and a bunch of young adults acting the fool in the aftermath of the school's big win over Tom Izzo and Company.

It was going to be great television.

But before the dancing and water squirting, Coach Beard pulled a fast one on CBS. Instead of celebrating, he gathered his team together to kneel in prayer.

However, before the first verse was uttered, CBS quickly cut-away from the locker room scene, returning some 45 seconds later when -- you guessed it -- the team's prayer was finished.

I'm not worldly enough to know just when it was that people in our country became afraid of God, but the powers-that-be at CBS must clearly be petrified of Him.

What a sad state of affairs.

Producer: "Quick, hustle behind the coach and follow him into the locker room!"

Camera operator: "Will do. Can't wait to get that footage for you guys and girls in the truck."

Producer: "Don't miss anything. This is a huge moment for those young men and we need to be there to capture all of the revelry. This is March Madness at its best!"

Camera operator: "Umm, they're actually praying first. I guess I'll just ---- "

Producer: "Cut away from the locker room! Cut away!! We can't be showing a prayer on television!"



#DMD HD-TV


CBS, you'll recall, once promptly did the same thing to Dabo Swinney after the Clemson football coach professed on TV the first thing he and the Tigers would do after a big win was "Thank the good Lord above."

Can't have that, Coach. Let's go to commercial, instead.

CBS should be ashamed, but I'm sure they're not. When reached for comment on Sunday, they had none, naturally.

Then again, there's nothing they can say. It's all on video, to borrow a familiar TV term.

With CBS set to televise tonight's national championship game between Texas Tech and Virginia, you can rest assured the inner-office memos and e-mails have been circulating like crazy over the last 24 hours.

"Whatever you do, don't show Texas Tech praying. We can't have that on national television."

It's amazing when you think about it: one of our nation's major TV networks is afraid to show a bunch of people praying.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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


yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: Referees, officials and umpires

Yesterday…

As hard as it is to believe, considering the everything-is-public social media world we now occupy, referees and officials used to be much more famous than they are today.

Some of that was personality-driven. Think about all the umpires of a bygone era, like the late Ron Luciano, Eric Gregg and Durwood Merrill, who once wrote a book entitled You’re Out, and You’re Ugly, Too! There’s no question those men were part of the entertainment, and there’s also no question that taking that role as an official is now seen in a much harsher light.

It seemed like, a generation ago, referees and umpires were actually encouraged to be confrontational. I suppose that it was only human nature; if Earl Weaver ran out of the dugout at you and started cursing you blue in the face, exactly how was an umpire supposed to respond? Certainly, the umpire had the upper hand, since he wasn’t the one who could be summarily ejected from the game.

At college basketball games, it was common practice for the public address guy to announce the names of the officials after the starting lineups. Many of them took the publicity to heart, becoming showmen with whistles, one of the most famous being honorary #DMD contributor Charley Eckman.

There was a gentleman named Dick Paparo, considered a top ref, who worked the biggest Atlantic Coast Conference games for years. Back when the “Cameron Crazies” were relatively new, and the Duke students were actually clever as opposed to annoying, they once responded to a call that went against the Blue Devils the following way…

“You suck, Dick.” And repeat…

Before the next game, at the urging of school officials, Mike Krzyzewski came out of the locker room well before the game and spoke to the students, telling them in no uncertain terms that their language needed to change. Inevitably, Paparo soon worked another Duke game, and at the first bad call the Crazies had their chant ready…

“You suck, Richard…”

Whether you think that officiating and umpiring is better or worse than it used to be, it’s changed a lot either way. Major League umpires and officials in football, basketball and hockey are very much part of the “brand,” and they really don’t sway too far away from the center if they’d like to keep their jobs. In both good and bad ways, instant replay has sometimes turned these men and women into screen watchers.

Take 12,000 people at a big college hoops game, and it’s likely very few of them have any interest at all in the men in stripes. Overall, it’s a net positive.

Today…

The officials honored with calling Saturday’s national semifinal between Auburn and Virginia were James Breeding, Keith Kimble and Doug Sirmons.

The most important foul of the 2019 NCAA tournament came in the final second on Saturday night when Auburn's Samir Doughty fouled Virginia's Kyle Guy on a last ditch 3-point attempt.

I’m not sure whose call it might have been when Ty Jerome performed what was an obvious double-dribble, at least in slow motion. I assume that whomever was watching the play simply thought the ball deflected off the defender, not Jerome himself, before the Virginia player picked up the loose ball and started dribbling again.

But it was Breeding who whistled the foul with 0.6 seconds remaining against Auburn’s Samir Doughty as he defended Virginia’s Kyle Guy. Watching on television, or looking at the Associated Press still photo, you see Breeding standing right there on the baseline, only a few feet away from the play.

Breeding is an executive for Northwestern Mutual when he isn’t traveling the country as an official. This season, he worked 64 regular-season Division I basketball games, starting at Xavier on November 6 and finishing at Seton Hall on March 9. He was then assigned to the first- and second-round tournament site in Salt Lake City, and then to the regional semifinal between Texas Tech and Michigan in Anaheim. Saturday’s national semifinal game marked his first Final Four appearance.

All-in-all, this was the 72nd game Breeding worked this season. He surely made some poor calls in those games, and just as surely got a lot of calls right. This one?

He got it right.

All the positive evaluations and experience that led those in charge of officiating at the NCAA tournament to give Breeding the nod on Saturday in Minneapolis? They were proven right, I think.

The postgame reactions were to be expected. Twitter is great, but it’s a real cesspool in situations like this. Inevitably, video surfaced of an Auburn player screaming that the NCAA needed new refs.

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, understandably, said that if that play was a foul, then it should be called at any point in the game, not just with under a second remaining in a two-point affair. That’s a typical attitude to take, but how could Pearl be sure that a similar foul wasn’t called earlier in the game?

Fans, and coaches, and broadcasters, often say that officials shouldn’t decide games. We know what they mean by that, and for the most part that tends to happen.

But officials have a job, and sometimes that job is to call fouls when they see fouls. So, sometimes they can decide games. If they get it right, however, it’s kind of part of the job description, isn’t it?

Tomorrow

You can make the case that college basketball, even at lower levels, has an officiating problem.

Take Breeding, for instance. He’s a middle-aged guy with a full-time job traveling the South and Midwest via car and airplane, and he goes out there chasing 19-year-olds up and down the court sometimes three times in four days.

From experience, the lower levels of Division I simply don’t get the same kind of experience and talent when it comes to officiating. That’s especially true on Saturdays, when it’s typical for more than 200 teams to be playing.

Professional leagues have their challenges as well. It wasn’t until recently that the NFL made any of its officials full-time. Now, there are 24 full-time officials, who will work on game preparation throughout the year. They’ll also be tasked with developing a pool of future officials, perhaps their most important role.

There seem to be some notable “problem” MLB umpires, in particular Angel Hernandez, and NBA officials have never had a great reputation, though it’s gotten a lot better recently. Hockey seems to be the sport where you hear the least about officiating; I’d bet much of that is a behavioral directive from on high.

The biggest question about officiating in the future, it seems to me, isn’t how we can make people better at it. Some will always be better than others, and some will always be more polarizing that others, even if those perceptions are unfair.

The biggest question is how much automation can and will affect the job.

Baseball might be at the forefront of this question. Last season, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league “was much closer than we were a year ago” to having the technology to actually call an automated strike zone.

Meanwhile, former MLB outfielder Eric Byrnes is a huge believer in the automated system, known as PITCHf/x. In an independent league game, he got behind the plate in full umpire gear and made every ball and strike call as normal, except for the fact that whether the pitch was a ball or a strike was fed to him electronically by the PITCHf/x system.

“It’s coming,” Byrnes said. “Whether it happens in our lifetimes, I don’t know. But it will be implemented.”

The real question, just as it’s been for instant replay, is whether any league should use the best available resources to get calls right. And even with replay, sometimes the answer is still in doubt even with available technology.

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this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


We saw a great weekend of lacrosse for teams from our great lacrosse state as it was a clean sweep of wins for all local teams.

Game of the Week: #2 Loyola 15 - #15 Lehigh 9

While I'd love to take credit for giving Loyola the win and Lehigh's score right, I had no idea of the devastation the Greyhounds were going to unleash in the first 20 minutes of the game.

Loyola's all-time leading scorer, Pat Spencer, tacked on 5 goals and 6 assists in Saturday's win over Lehigh.

Loyola dominated all phases of the game in taking a 9-0 early in the 2nd quarter with over 10 minutes left in the half. As previously noted, the Mountain Hawks were only giving up 8.6 goals per game. And when Lehigh got the ball, they looked like the JV scrimmaging the varsity with 9 first half turnovers.

Lehigh finally settled in and cut the score to within 6 at the start of the 3rd quarter. But that's as close as they would get as the teams traded goals the rest of the way.

Pat Spencer was a man among boys, scoring 5 goals and 6 assists. The Mountain Hawks did hold Kevin Lindley to 1 goal, but Chase Scanlan and Aidan Olmstead picked up the slack with 3 goals each.

Jacob Stover continues to be that shield in front of the cage recording 15 saves. But the player of the game may very well be Bailey Savio who unexpectedly won the battle at the face-off X against Lehigh's Conor Gaffney, winning 16 of 27 in total. The Greyhounds clearly demonstrated why they are one of the best teams in the nation.

Other Notable Games:

Johns Hopkins 15 - #18 Rutgers 13 - The Blue Jays jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, then fought of a furious comeback by the Scarlet Knights who didn't step off the bus until the 2nd quarter. Each late charge in the 4th quarter by Rutgers was answered thanks to Joey Epstein's 5 goals and 3 assists. Big game for FOGO Kyle Prouty winning 21 of 30 draws. Hopkins is now 2-0 in the B1G and in great position to qualify for the conference tournament.

#12 Towson 14 - Fairfield 7 - Figured the Tigers would win in a low scoring game, but someone forgot to tell the attack as Towson got big games from Brendan Sunday (4 goals, 1 assist), Luke Frommert (4 goals, 1 assists) and Brody McLean (3 goals). Midfielder Timmy Monohan scored twice and dished out 3 assists. Alex Woodall won 22 of 25 draws and Tyler Canto recorded 15 saves. Towson sits atop the CAA at 2-0 with Delaware.

#3 Maryland 16 vs Michigan 12 - No fear of the Turtles by the Wolverines in a roller coaster game that required 5 4th quarter goals from Maryland to put this one away. Jared Bernhardt and Logan Wisnauskas recorded 5 goals and 3 assists each. Austin Henningsen won 22 of 29 face-offs.

Navy 16 - Colgate 11 - The Midshipmen get back to .500 (5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Patriot League) with big games from Greyson Torain (5 goals, 2 assists), Ryan Wade (4 goals, 1 assist) and goalie Ryan Kern (16 saves).

Mount St. Mary's 16 - Utah 15- The Mount gets a nice win 3 time zones way in the Rockies against the upstart, 1st year Utes in a see-saw affair. Dylan McCarthy paced the offense with 4 goals and 4 assists and Chris DePretoro added 4 goals. Nice win against a solid Utah team coached by long time UNC assistant Brian Holman.

UMBC 13 - Binghamton 7 - The Retrievers get their first conference win against the winless Bearcats thanks to 3 goals from Ryan Frawley and 13 saves by Tommy Lingner.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

Three consecutive top 10 finishes at the Masters makes Dustin Johnson a favorite in the 2019 event that starts this Thursday.

So, we're here to give you our Masters Top 15 at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) Tommy Fleetwood (8), Bryson DeChambeau (7), Justin Thomas (6), Marc Leishman (5), Justin Rose (4) and Rory McIlroy (3).

Dustin Johnson comes in at #2.

Make no mistake about it, D.J. is ready to win the Masters. They'll be no "getting pushed down the steps" this time around. He's locked and loaded, entering as one of the tournaments big favorites despite having never won at Augusta National in 7 previous tries.

But, as his last three visits show, Johnson has learned how to navigate the course in a way few others have. He finished T6 in 2015, T4 in 2016 and T10 last year. There's nothing that Augusta National has that Johnson can't handle.

The math for a D.J. win is quite simple. Johnson effectively starts each round at least 2-under par simply because he's going to birdie two of the par 4's, if not more. Starting from there, he's 8 under for the tournament on those 16 holes. If he can play the other 56 holes in eight under for four days, there's your likely winner.

His occasionally suspect chipping has always been a concern at The Masters, but Johnson hits so many greens (70%, 25th on TOUR) that he rarely needs to use that part of his game. And in recent years, he's improved enough with his wedge game and chipping to now rank inside the top 30 in one of the Tour's most important stats: shots gained around the greens.

Indeed, it might very well be time to get that green jacket fitted for Dustin Johnson. His important piece of apparel -- at Augusta National -- could be arriving next Sunday.




Sunday
April 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1686



sunday musings


From the file of "just keep playing" comes last night's NCAA Final Four tilt between Virginia and Auburn.

Years from now, coaches will be showing the final 20 seconds of that game in an effort to convince their players to never stop playing until the final whistle is blown.

Referee aided, perhaps, but Tony Bennett and Virginia are headed to the NCAA title game.

It certainly helped Virginia's cause that an apparent double-dribble wasn't called in the waning seconds, but that's all part of "just keep playing" as well. You never know when the official is going to miss a pass interference call, a double-dribble or a third strike on the black of the plate.

But in the end, Virginia won because they played the game out until the end, staying alive by a whisker thanks in part to a missed foul shot by Auburn's Jared Harper with seven seconds remaining.

Then came the improbable ending, where the Cavaliers' Kyle Guy was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer. Still alive...

Guy made the first two. Auburn's Bruce Pearl called his final time out. And then the kid calmly swished the final shot to put Virginia ahead for good, 63-62.

Somewhere, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was probably enjoying the sequel more than the original he starred in back in late January.

Virginia trailed 61-57 with ten seconds remaining in the game.

And won, 63-62.

Just keep playing...or, as I tell my Calvert Hall Golf team every day: Stay In It.

It was only fitting that last night's Orioles game came down, in part, to an at-bat by Chris Davis. Unfortunately, Davis grounded out to end the 8th inning with the bases loaded and the Orioles staring at a 6-4 deficit.

Remarkably, social media lit up with compliments for Davis. A few folks threw out some analytics to prove it was a "great at bat". And they were serious. Others just claimed it was a great at-bat because Davis didn't strike out, didn't cave in after falling behind 0-2 in the count, and hit the ball sharply to New York first baseman Greg Bird.

It wasn't a great at-bat.

It was an at-bat. Only. Nothing "great" about it.

Davis still doesn't have a hit this season, although he did drive in a run last night with a productive at-bat when he forced in a run with a groundout fielder's choice in the 7th inning.

There's nothing at all "great" about having the bases loaded, trailing 6-4, and grounding out to end the inning. That might be deemed "promising" in Little League. But not in the majors.

Davis is going to get a hit sometime soon because the law-of-averages insists that he must. I mean, he can't go 0-for-75. At some point, Davis will perhaps even hit a home run or two. Knowing Davis, those might even come in the same game.

But the sooner the Orioles put an end to this bizarre career-turn-for-the-worse, the better. I'll keep saying this until I don't have to say it any longer. I'm not sure how you preach accountability and professional responsibility to minor league players when they see Chris Davis hitting .000 and still getting playing time and at bats.

You can just hear Coach K now: "I'm not aware of any relationship at all between Nike and the family of Zion Williamson."

Duke is investigating a claim that Nike paid Zion Williamson's mother to consult for them.

I don't have any of the evidence in front of me.

I haven't seen a story yet where everything is laid out in chapter and verse.

But I'm going to make a guess here: Yes, Nike paid Zion's mother to consult for them while her son was "considering" whether or not he wanted to attend Duke in 2018-2019.

How's that for a quick verdict?

Of course they paid her. It's Nike. And it's the nation's top basketball prospect. You think he went to Duke because they gave him a faculty-staff meal card?

Coach K will say, of course, "I have no idea about any relationship between Nike and Zion's mother." And he might even be right there. It's perfectly reasonable for "K" to say to the Nike folks, "Sure would like to have that Williamson kid for a year," and Nike replies with, "We'll see what we can do to help you."

All the sudden, Williamson shows up at Duke and everyone's happy. Except those of you who had them winning it all in your bracket.

I guess the worst part of it all is the "consulting" term. I'd almost rather the kid's mom write a children's basketball book or something of that nature and Nike give her $100,000 for it then to have her be retained as a "consultant". But anyway...

For a long time, NFL fans have bellyached about the favoritism showed to the New England Patriots. Major League Baseball apparently doesn't have the same warm spot for the Boston Red Sox, or the defending World Series champions, for that matter.

The Red Sox start the 2019 season with an 11-game road trip.

They're currently 2-8 after last night's 5-4 loss in Arizona, falling into last place in the A.L. East at the same time. That ties their worst 10-game start in franchise history.

Can you imagine the Patriots winning the Super Bowl and starting the season with some outrageous like three straight road games?

That's sorta-kinda what MLB did to the Red Sox this year. When they return to Boston for Tuesday's home opener against the Blue Jays, over 10% of the Red Sox's away schedule will already be complete.

And in a sport where getting off to a great start can almost lock you into meaningful September baseball, the reverse is probably true for going something like 4-16 to start the campaign. If Boston doesn't win some games soon, they'll be in for quite a battle over the final five months of the season.

I know, no one in Baltimore feels sorry for them. But it's just fascinating to see what the Red Sox are going through on the heels of winning the title last October.

If the Patriots opened on the road against the Chiefs, Dolphins and Saints, the whole schedule-making process would be turned upside down.

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can't get to the masters but want some apparel?


I've done this in previous years and a number of you took advantage of it, so the offer stands again in 2019.

Check in with Drew if you want one of these.

For those who can't make it to Augusta National but still want some awesome Masters apparel, I'll be happy to pick it up for you on Tuesday when I'm down there.

It's not the cheapest hat, shirt or set of ballmarkers you'll ever find, but it's also the only time you can buy Masters swag in 2019. They don't sell it online or anywhere else, for that matter.

Golf shirts typically run in the $90-$100 range. T-shirts are $35. Hats are $30. Flags (I get one every year I go) are $25. Ballmarkers and other commemorative items (key chains, etc.) are $15.

If you're interested in having me pick something up for you, please send me an email no later than Sunday, April 7 (drew@drewsmorningdish.com). We'll go through the approximate costs of the items, shipping details and so forth.

These things make awesome birthday and Father's Day gifts for the golfer in your world. They also make great gifts for ------ YOU!

Please don't be bashful and think, "I don't want Drew to go to that trouble." I enjoy doing it. I'm blessed to be going again and would love to pick some items up for you if you'd like them.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

Playing as well as anyone over the last few months, Rory McIlroy might be ready to finally enter the Masters winner's circle next week.

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) Tommy Fleetwood (8), Bryson DeChambeau (7), Justin Thomas (6), Marc Leishman (5) and Justin Rose (4).

Rory McIlroy comes in at #3

The time might have finally arrived for Rory. This could be the year.

His performance down the stretch at The Players most likely did wonders for his confidence. And even though the only way to shake those back-nine Augusta demons is to stare them down and win the golf tournament, any time you're able to do that -- in any event -- it can only bode well for future opportunities.

McIlroy needs only a Masters victory to complete the career grand slam. And his golf game looks primed for that victory next week.

The key stat for Rory next week will be putting. And, specifically, avoiding three putts. That's been his downfall at Augusta on the occasions when he coulda-should-woulda won the event. He presses a bit trying to make birdie, runs the putt past the hole by four or five feet, and then misses the next one too.

If he can steady himself on the greens, McIlroy has a great chance to win next week.




Saturday
April 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1685



the time has come...


During my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday, the very capable host and I did a deep dive on the subject of -- who else? -- Chris Davis. The O's first baseman is 0-for-17 this season with 11 strikeouts. And this, remember, comes on the heels of Davis spending all off-season "working it out".

I've been steadfast in my opinion on Davis and his contract, with the Orioles still owing him $68 million after this season. That Davis is a devout man of faith makes it an even more sticky situation for me when it comes to rendering a verdict on his playing career.

But the time has come for the Orioles to let him go.

Davis, in Baltimore at least, is finished.

And the organization can no longer continue to play him in an effort to get something out of that remaining $90 million they owe him. The message they're sending by playing him is a bad one, particularly when viewed by a distinguished crop of younger players who hopefully someday soon will be the backbone of the team's rebirth.

Playing Davis because you owe him $90 million might make sense in the accounting office, but it makes zero sense in the baseball office. And, yes, I know the Orioles don't care if they win or lose this season. I understand that part of the deal. But playing Davis has nothing at all to do with winning or losing. They're not winning with him or without him.

And not to go all Tom Izzo on everyone, but Izzo's favorite word comes to mind when I start considering what the Orioles are doing with Davis: accountability.

Chris Davis doesn't yet have a hit in the 2019 season. When will the Orioles finally pull the plug?

How can you convince a kid in Frederick or Bowie or Norfolk, even, to play hard every day, keep their numbers up, improve and earn their way to the big leagues when a guy who is already there and getting paid $23 million per-season can't hit .150?

Where's the accountability the Orioles have placed on Davis? And when will he also understand there's an accountability aspect on his end, too? No one likes a quitter. And in some ways, Davis' refusal to just say "I can't do it anymore" is admirable, particularly when the agony he suffers with each strikeout is probably greater than any of us can imagine.

But sports -- and business, and life in general -- works off of one simple, basic premise. You're asked to do something. And if you do it well, you get rewarded. If you don't do it well, those rewards stop coming to you.

Baseball is different because the nitwit owners decided years ago to give fully guaranteed contracts to players. They eliminated the accountability portion of the deal when they guaranteed someone's entire contract no matter what sort of production followed in the years to come. So, in a lot of ways, Peter Angelos and the Orioles are reaping the seeds they themselves sowed.

The way I see it, now, Chris Davis is getting this year's salary and $68 million more no matter if he hits .150 or .350. The Orioles owe him no more or no less. He gets that money whether he's on the team or off the team. And while I know it would be difficult to send him a check every two weeks while he's playing 18 holes every day somewhere near Vero Beach, the Orioles are hurting themselves in a variety of ways by allowing Davis to continue to play for their organization.

Someone suggested to me yesterday that perhaps all Davis needs is a fresh start. A new stadium. A new hitting coach. Something new. Anything new.

"Maybe so," I replied to the friend who brought that up. "But the Orioles can't let that worry them. If they release Davis and he goes to Cleveland or Boston or Arizona and learns how to hit again, that will be nothing more than the baseball gods interfering and lifting up a man who was once driven into the ground by his athletic demons."

As I see it with my untrained eyes, Chris Davis is finished as a productive professional baseball player. I wish it weren't that way. I have nothing at all against him. In fact, as I noted above, his devout Christian faith makes it difficult for me to even write those words: Chris Davis is finished.

But the Orioles owe it the kids in Frederick and Bowie and so on. They say to those young men every single day, on a bus somewhere near Hickory, North Carolina or Charleston, West Virginia, "If you'll perform above the expectations we have for you, you can be a major leaguer someday. If you're accountable to yourself and your teammates, you, too, can play in Camden Yards. If you'll pledge to learn your craft, you might someday make the big money."

How do you continue to hold those young men to basic standards and then allow Chris Davis to perform at the level he has for the last two years?

It's wrong.

And, sadly, it needs to end.

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this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


weekend college lax preview


Game of the Week: #2 Loyola (7-2) vs #15 Lehigh (7-3) (Saturday 11 am, Baltimore MD & CBS Sports Network)

Both undefeated leaders in the Patriot League clash for conference supremacy this weekend in a game which could very well decide who hosts the conference tournament. The Greyhounds have reeled off 3 straight wins after an earlier setback to Duke, who seems to have Coach Toomey's number. Meanwhile after a dismal 1-3 start, the Mountain Hawks have won 6 in a row including 5 conference wins and a quality non-conference win against #18 Rutgers. Something has to give, so let's see what that may be for today's game.

Getting the Ball - The Mountain Hawks are #3 in the NCAA in face-offs, winning 67.7% of their draws with Conor Gaffney leading the way. Bailey Savio checks in with a 49.2% winning percentage for he Greyhounds. Losing the face-off battle hasn't been an issue against lesser competition for Loyola. But it did hurt them against a ranked opponent in Towson in the beginning of the season and could very well cost them today.

Charley Toomey and Loyola face a huge Patriot League game today against Lehigh.

Scoring Power - Both squads' offenses generate 38+ shots per game. But Lehigh only averages 10.6 goals per game, while Loyola averages 15 goals per game, which is good for #3 in the nation. Obviously one of the nation's best attackman, Pat Spencer (29 goals, 37 assists) averaging 7.3 points per game is a big reason. But line-mate Kevin Lindley (40 goals, 3 assist) is also having a stellar season as the nation's top goal scorer, averaging 4.4 goals per game. Lehigh's defense will certainly have it's hands full. Oddly, the Mountain Hawk offense is putting a good number of shots on cage at 62.9%, but scoring a pedestrian 28.4% of their total shots with opposing goalies saving 55.5% of their shots.

Protecting the Goal - Both squads are holding opponents to less than 10 goals per game with Loyola allowing 9.6 goals per game and Lehigh allowing 8.6 (#5 in the NCAA). The key to Loyola's defense is goalie Jacob Stover and his 60.3% save percentage and opponents only putting 58.5% of their shots on target. But the Greyhounds are also allowing 41.8 shots per game, so Stover needs to be playing well. On the flip side, the Mountain Hawks are keeping opponents off the scoreboard in a variety of ways including holding opponents to just 35.2 shots per game, solid goalie play from James Spense (58.7% save percentage), and collecting 40.6 ground balls per game (2nd in NCAA) thanks in part to dominating the face-off battle.

Common Opponents - Both squads have faced Colgate, Navy and Rutgers. Lehigh's average margin of victory is 4 goals while Loyola's was 11... yes 11. Noted that Loyola faced all 3 at home while Lehigh faced 2 on the road, which is what they are today.

Final Prediction - One could easily look at the common opponents and think the Greyhounds should walk away with this game. And that wouldn't be surprising. But the last time the Greyhounds faced an opponent this stingy on D was against Duke, which ended in a 7-12 loss. The Mountain Hawks will also be getting the ball plenty and the Greyhound D will be letting them shoot. But can Lehigh's challenged offense make good on those extra possessions and against a goalie of Jacob Stover's quality? I tend to think not. The Mountain Hawks will slow down the potent Greyhound attack, but I don't see them bringing enough goals to the party. So let's give Loyola a 12-9 victory.

Other Notable Games:

Johns Hopkins vs #18 Rutgers (Saturday 2 pm, Homewood Field & ESPNU) - Should be a good game as the Scarlet Nights have been a thorn in the Blue Jay's side in recent years. It's also the start of the B1G gauntlet for Hopkins. A win today would setup the Blue Jays for a seat at the B1G tourney table. But it won't be easy against Rutgers who just pummeled recently undefeated Ohio State.

#12 Towson @ Fairfield (Saturday 1 pm, Fairfield CT) - The Stags just took a beating from CAA foe Delaware. The Tigers should also provide the same treatment. But attackman Brendan Sunday needs to show up and can't disappear like he's done in the past few games. Still like my Tigers in this one comfortably, in a low scoring game.

#3 Maryland vs Michigan (Saturday 2 pm, College Park MD & B!G Network) - The Wolverines will be fearing the Turtles. Especially after Maryland took a home beating to Penn State. The Terps should have this one decided by halftime.

#1 Penn State vs #9 Ohio State (Sunday 7 pm, State College PA & B1G Network) - Sunday night games on the B1G Network are becoming "must-see" TV. Thinking the Buckeye's will have a red-A factor going after getting pasted by Rutgers. Look for a spirited effort against the Nittany Lions as Ohio State will not want to start 0-2 in conference.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

can't get to the masters but want some apparel?


I've done this in previous years and a number of you took advantage of it, so the offer stands again in 2019.

Check in with Drew if you want one of these.

For those who can't make it to Augusta National but still want some awesome Masters apparel, I'll be happy to pick it up for you on Tuesday when I'm down there.

It's not the cheapest hat, shirt or set of ballmarkers you'll ever find, but it's also the only time you can buy Masters swag in 2019. They don't sell it online or anywhere else, for that matter.

Golf shirts typically run in the $90-$100 range. T-shirts are $35. Hats are $30. Flags (I get one every year I go) are $25. Ballmarkers and other commemorative items (key chains, etc.) are $15.

If you're interested in having me pick something up for you, please send me an email no later than Sunday, April 7 (drew@drewsmorningdish.com). We'll go through the approximate costs of the items, shipping details and so forth.

These things make awesome birthday and Father's Day gifts for the golfer in your world. They also make great gifts for ------ YOU!

Please don't be bashful and think, "I don't want Drew to go to that trouble." I enjoy doing it. I'm blessed to be going again and would love to pick some items up for you if you'd like them.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

A playoff loss at Augusta National and several other top 10 finishes should indicate that Justin Rose is on the cusp of winning at Augusta National. Might 2019 be the year?

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) Tommy Fleetwood (8), Bryson DeChambeau (7), Justin Thomas (6) and Marc Leishman (5).

Today's player at #4 on our list -- Justin Rose -- could very well be the winner next week. The event is perfect for his golf game.

Rose is having a fine season to date, with six events entered, six cuts made, a win (Torrey Pines) and several other promising finishes, including a T8 at The Players last month.

Rose's record at Augusta National is even better.

He's played The Masters 13 times. He's made the cut in all 13.

He has five top top ten finishes and two runner-up showings, including a loss to Sergio Garcia in the 2017 playoff.

The only blemish on his TOUR stats -- greens in regulation numbers are a pedestrian 65% -- never seems to bother him at Augusta National, where he's hit 68% of the greens throughout his career.

Rose drives it far. Hits it high. Knows the course. And very well might win.




Friday
April 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1684



the other stuff is worse than losing


Sure, the bloom might be off the rose as far as the Orioles are concerned. No worries. It was fun taking two of three in New York to start the season. If that turns out to be our season highlight in Baltimore, so be it.

But the Yankees 8-4 win on opening day at Camden Yards was hardly the worst thing about the afternoon. Even with the half-a-roster they're sporting these days, New York still has a fairly potent lineup and a better than average bullpen.

So what else made opening day lousy? I'm glad you asked.

Social media was filled with outraged patrons who couldn't get into the ballpark until, in some cases, 5:00 pm on Thursday. That's 5 o'clock in the afternoon, in case you're a Flyers fan and don't know what "5 pm" is.

The game started at 3:05 pm.

How on earth is that possible?

Three more strikeouts didn't help the Orioles $23 million man win the favor of Baltimore's baseball faithful on Opening Day.

The game was reportedly a sell out, but the stadium most certainly wasn't filled to the brim with people. How could the Orioles have bungled that so much that thousands of people couldn't get in before the 5th inning was completed?

The Orioles knew the date of the game for six months and had to assume the game was going to be sold out. Why were they so unprepared?

I know there weren't many SRO crowds in 2018 and the organization might not have an abundance of experience handling crowds of 44,000, but not being able to get ticket holders in the door in a timely fashion -- even if thousands and thousands showed up at 2:50 pm -- is minor league'ish.

Once inside, more folks complained about the lines at the concession stands. Could some of the outrage have been connected to alcohol consumption? Sure, people say mean things when they've been drinking. But lots and lots of people were barking about taking 30 minutes to get something to eat or drink.

There has to be a better way to do it.

And then, there's Chris Davis.

You'd think by now Chris would have also figured out a better way to do it, but he hasn't. Davis went 0-for-3 and struck out three times before being mercifully pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 8th inning. He doesn't have a hit yet this season. It's sad.

Naturally, Davis heard the boo birds on Thursday. First during the pre-game introductions when he jogged down the orange carpet towards home plate. And he heard them even louder and longer when he struck out the first time, the second time and the third time.

I'm not here to tell you not to boo athletes. Knock yourself out. But I am here to tell you, specifically, that booing Davis on opening day was stupid. It certainly does him no good to hear it. And it probably doesn't really help the general attitude of the players on the team, either.

I get it. You bought your ticket, you have the right to boo. Blah, blah, blah. I also understand people say and do dumb stuff when they're boozed up. I get that as well. I once had a drink or two too many back in 1982 and told a young lady at Susquehanna University that I thought the Beatles were really good. That was either a sign she was too pretty for me and out of my league or I needed to be cut off from those 7 ounce Stroh's we used to inhale. Probably a little of both.

Davis is well aware he stinks. He hasn't recorded a hit since last September 14. But if you think the way to get him to improve is to boo him, you're silly. The reality is, there appears to be no way to get him to improve. I suspect at some point in the next week or so, the Orioles are going to release him. But booing him in the home opener was bush league.

I don't know how many other useful arms the Orioles have in the farm system, but as I mentioned earlier this week, the current Baltimore bullpen is lousy. Yesterday it was Mike Wright Jr. and Miguel Castro who flamed out, with both pitchers giving up three-run dingers. The good news? John Means came in and once again strangled the Yankees with his 80 mph change-up. The bad news? He can't pitch every game.

I realize we're not expecting much from this team in 2019 and the losses are going to pile up faster than our Mayor's book sales, but Elias and Company have to figure out a way to get bullpen help that works. Sooner rather than later, please.

A positive note or two from Opening Day? Alex Cobb was decent. Joey Rickard went 2-for-4. The schedule magnets were nice.

And the weather was lovely, too.

It was good to have baseball back in town, that's for sure. Even if you didn't get to see half of the game.

Oh, and if you experienced anything good or bad on Thursday and want to tell the #DMD world about it, please use the comments section below.

My RideMyCause banner ad

can't get to the masters but want some apparel?


I've done this in previous years and a number of you took advantage of it, so the offer stands again in 2019.

Check in with Drew if you want one of these.

For those who can't make it to Augusta National but still want some awesome Masters apparel, I'll be happy to pick it up for you on Tuesday when I'm down there.

It's not the cheapest hat, shirt or set of ballmarkers you'll ever find, but it's also the only time you can buy Masters swag in 2019. They don't sell it online or anywhere else, for that matter.

Golf shirts typically run in the $90-$100 range. T-shirts are $35. Hats are $30. Flags (I get one every year I go) are $25. Ballmarkers and other commemorative items (key chains, etc.) are $15.

If you're interested in having me pick something up for you, please send me an email no later than Sunday, April 7 (drew@drewsmorningdish.com). We'll go through the approximate costs of the items, shipping details and so forth.

These things make awesome birthday and Father's Day gifts for the golfer in your world. They also make great gifts for ------ YOU!

Please don't be bashful and think, "I don't want Drew to go to that trouble." I enjoy doing it. I'm blessed to be going again and would love to pick some items up for you if you'd like them.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

With four career wins on the TOUR, Marc Leishman is ready to contend at this year's Masters.

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) Tommy Fleetwood (8), Bryson DeChambeau (7) and Justin Thomas (6).

We're now down to the top 5. And at #5, it's Marc Leishman.

The 35-year old Australian has had an interesting run at Augusta National. He's either been really good or not good at all.

In 2010, in his first appearance, he missed the cut.

He didn't even make the field in 2011 or 2012.

Then in 2013, on his second visit, he finished tied for 4th.

Another missed cut in 2014, followed by "didn't make the field" in 2015, followed by yet another missed cut in 2016.

He played in 2017 and finished T43. Then, last April, he made another top 10 by finishing 9th.

Like I wrote above, either really good or not very good at all.

But despite his topsy-turvy finishes, Leishman is a great player. And if he puts it all together at Augusta, which I suspect someday he will, he can win a Masters title.

He's having a great 2018-2019, with a one, a couple of other top 5 finishes, and a current ranking of 7th in the FedEx Cup standings. His short game is decent-but-nothing more, but when you hit 70% of the greens like he does, you don't need much help saving par.

His temperament is perfect for Augusta. Nothing flashy. Not too high when he makes a birdie putt, not too low when he makes a bogey. He just tees it up, hits it, finds it, and hits it again.

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Thursday
April 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1683



opening day? doesn't excite me...


OK, yes, I "click-baited" you with the headline above, even though there's not really another "click" for you to make. You're already here, obviously.

Opening day doesn't excite me.

But it doesn't mean what you think it means, either.

I love baseball. And despite the organizational crash-and-burn of 2018, I still love the Orioles.

And I love spring. I'm a "seasons" guy, like most folks learn to be in this part of the country. Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. There's something about each of those that has some really special memories for me.

Spring always did coincide with baseball in my life. Little League in Glen Burnie. Hearing Charley Eckman bark at the umpire for a missed call when I was playing on the same team as his nephew. Circling under a fly ball as a left fielder and catching it to end a perfect game for a guy named Rob Marvel on our 13-14 team at Dorsey Park.

I can still rattle off all of my Little League teams I played on, in order: Cardinals, Giants, Phillies, Orioles, Astros, Red Sox, Rangers and Dodgers.

One of the best sights Baltimore has to offer.

In recent years, spring has connected more with golf in my life. When spring arrives, I know the golf season is right around the corner.

These days, if I'm being honest, golf is far more embedded in my life than baseball. In fact, I'm missing today's home opener against the Yankees in order to be at practice with my Calvert Hall golf team, who, I'll proudly add here, have started the season 2-0 after wins over St. Paul's and Archbishop Spalding.

I had great seats today, too, as luck would have it. But our team motto for the season is "Stay In It" and I'm doing just that today by passing on opening day in order to "stay" with my team. And it wasn't a hard decision, either.

It would have been a more difficult decision if my son didn't have a full day of school, I will say that. We went to last year's opening day win over Minnesota and had a blast. Alas, no half day for the school kids today.

Golfers tend to use The Masters as the sign that spring has arrived. It's played on the first FULL week of April every year. The folks at Augusta National go Sunday-to-Sunday when configuring Masters week. And since March 31st was on a Sunday this year, the first FULL week of April is April 7-14. So the Masters runs a tad "late" this year.

An interesting side note for those who care: Schools are closed in Augusta, Georgia during the week of the Masters. And local citizens are "strongly urged" not to drive between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm, so as not to overly crowd the streets and roads in Augusta. Everyone bows to the money machine that is The Masters down there. And with good reason.

I'm quite certain I no longer get overly excited about opening day because of my age. I don't want to say I've outgrown opening day. I've just outgrown getting excited about it, is more like it.

I have no idea how many opening days I've attended in my life. I tried to think about it last night. 25 maybe? I've been there on beautiful days, snowy days and windy days. I remember one year, circa 1990 or so, going over in the 3rd or 4th inning with several Blast players and basically just "talking our way in", all under the excuse of "these guys just wanted to see what opening day was all about."

For the 20-something crowd, opening day has become something akin to St. Patrick's Day. In other words, it's an excuse to sneak out of work at noon and drink beer. One look around the bars near the stadium today at 1:00 pm will probably tell you that the 30-something and 40-something crowds are also doing the same thing. I'm not against having a good time, by the way. Merely pointing out that opening day isn't nearly as much about baseball as it is about getting together with friends and family to enjoy an adult beverage.

For me, in my mid 50's, I don't need opening day to get excited.

I'm excited every day.

It was John Bradford who wrote: "There but by the grace of God go I..." That expression of humility and reliance on God's grace is something we all should embrace these days, whether you're 26, 36, 56 or 76 years old. You're in God's palm. He'll take care of you. And, best of all, he's on duty whether it's opening day, July 4, or November 10.

I was excited on Monday when our Calvert Hall season started with a win over the 3-time defending champion St. Paul's Crusaders, the first time we defeated them since 2015.

I was excited on Tuesday when I went to a 7:00 am men's fellowship group and then played catch in my front yard with my son and daughter later that evening.

I'm excited about being the emcee of an event this Saturday night that my wife has worked long and hard on over the last couple of months.

I'm excited to once again be visiting Augusta National next Tuesday for the day with clients and #DMD marketing partners. There's nothing like it, even when it's your 10th time going. Some people go to the Smithsonian once a year. I go to another museum. It's called Augusta National. Too bad it's not free like the Smithsonian.

I'm excited to see the Capitals in the playoffs again. Could they win a second straight Stanley Cup after going 43 years without winning one? Maybe. I'm excited to see it all unfold.

I'm excited to see my son play golf for the Eagle's Nest PGA Junior team this spring and equally excited to see him and my daughter swim for the club's "Screaming Eagle's" swim team this summer.

I'm excited about going to the beach with my family this summer.

I'm excited about the start of Ravens football and taking my son to training camp at Owings Mills again this August.

I'm excited...

It no longer takes opening day to pump me up. I love baseball. I get the whole "opening day" thing because it used to get me going, too.

Now, every day gets me going.

It might be a mid 50's thing, granted, but I'm excited to get up every morning and do something...

If you're going out to Camden Yards today, have a great time. Enjoy it. Root like heck for the home team.

And remember, "There but by the grace of God go I."

Happy Opening Day!

P.S. Take the Orioles on the moneyline today against the Yankees. I just have a feeling...

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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


time for some balance


Gary Thorne reminded me the other day that the 2018 Orioles finished the year with an 0-10 record at Rogers Centre (1), which is even more terrible than it sounds when you realize that the Blue Jays finished the season with a 73-89 record.

Hearing Thorne’s voice again after six months reminded me of another thing, dating back a few years to when Orioles-Blue Jays games were often key parts of the AL East pennant race. The Oriole play-by-play man was never able to correctly pronounce the name of slugger Edwin Encarnación, always forgetting the “r” and the fact that the “a” sound in Spanish is always the short “a,” like “ah.”

Ehn-kah-nay-see-OHN. Missed it again, Gary. For someone who’s on television six months a year in a sport where three out of 10 players are from Latin America, you can do better. (2)

I won’t bore you any longer with such minutiae, but I can tell you what it comes from. It’s just boring watching the Orioles play the Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays 19 times apiece every season. It was boring when the Orioles and Rays were bringing up the basement of the division every year, and it was boring when those teams finally climbed to respectability and beyond.

It was boring when the Orioles won 96 games in 2014 and when they lost 115 games four years later. It’ll be boring when the 2019 “Why Not 30th Anniversary Team” shocks the world. (3)

Major League Baseball went to the unbalanced schedule in 2001. When the Astros moved to the American League in 2013, the schedule took on its current form: 76 games against divisional opponents, 66 games against the 10 other teams in the league and 20 interleague games.

#DMD's David Rosenfeld wants to see more of Mike Trout and less of Aaron Judge.

Interleague play is a story for another time. I’m sure there are plenty of traditionalists that still wish it would go away, but after more than 20 years it’s here to stay.

Intraleague play, however, is what most needs to change. It’s the large majority of every team’s schedule, almost 88 percent of it, and it’s never seemed right that more than half of those games come against only four opponents.

Since baseball is played in series, unlike any other sport in the regular season, it’s better to explain it that way. The Orioles play three series at home and three series on the road against each of their divisional opponents (4). Against the 10 teams from the AL Central and AL West, the Orioles play only one series at home and one on the road.

Adding it all up to 162 means that the unbalanced schedule is also slightly unbalanced on the individual level. With 19 games against a division opponent, they’ll always be one more game either at home or on the road. Seven of the 10 season series against non-division opponents feature a four-game series in one stadium and a three-game series in the other.

If you were to attend all 81 games at Camden Yards this season, you’d see the Yankees and Blue Jays ten times each. You’d see four teams—the Royals, Twins, White Sox and Astros—only three times each. I don’t like it at all, and while I suppose it could just be a matter of personal preference, there’s something else behind my dislike.

The unbalanced schedule has never really created rivalries, has it? And as far as cementing rivalries that were already there, I can only think of three that really make a difference. (5)

There’s Yankees-Red Sox, of course, but who besides ESPN would rather see those teams play as much as they do? Cardinals-Cubs is another big one, featuring the kind of semi-hatred unusual to normal Midwestern folk. On the West Coast, you have the Dodgers-Giants, an historical rivalry dating back to when those clubs both played in New York City.

That’s it, though I understand that the proximity of cities on the East Coast will always give a team’s fans an easier time making it to a visiting ballpark, if you think that’s a reason for 19 games each season between the Mets and Phillies.

For the sake of those three rivalries, the Orioles and Rays play 19 times. So do the Royals and Twins, and the Rangers and Mariners, and the Braves and Nationals, and the Pirates and Brewers, and the Rockies and Dodgers.

Over 19 seasons, it’s become really stale. If Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball really care about fans, like they always say they do, they’d make it more important to see the great players on every team in the league.

And if the MLB Players Association thinks that two coast-to-coast trips for a team is too much, I’d argue that it’s 2019, and the charter travel for American professional sports teams makes a five-hour trip to the West Coast quite a bit more comfortable than my 35-mile commute to Montgomery County every day. Let’s work something out.

Exactly how do we work it out? That’s for the schedule makers, who probably don’t make as much money as they should. But I’ll throw some ideas out there. (6)

If you want to go really balanced, and assuming the same number of interleague games, there are 14 league opponents for 142 intraleague games. That means 10 games apiece against all but two teams, against which you’d play 11 games. Perhaps those would always be divisional opponents, or maybe they could rotate around the league.

If you’re still interested in some divisional imbalance, how about 13 games against divisional opponents (52 total) and nine games against the other 10 teams (90 total), which would still allow for 20 interleague games? There would be some logistical challenges to that—for instance, would those nine games have to be imbalanced (two series at one park and only one at the other)?

For what it’s worth, back when those original 1989 “Why Not?” Orioles were playing, the schedule was almost completely “balanced.” There were two seven-team divisions in the AL. Teams played the other six teams in their division 13 times, for 78 games, and the seven teams in the other division 12 times, for 84 games. So there’s good precedent for playing 13 games against divisional teams.

We don’t see Edwin Encarnación so much anymore, now that he’s spent the last three seasons with Cleveland and Seattle. We still see too much of the Blue Jays, though, and I don’t think it should be possible for a team to go 0-10 in another team’s ballpark.

What I’d like to see is more of Mike Trout, or even some other guys who aren’t nearly as good as Mike Trout. I still think you’d figure out who the best teams are by the end of the season.

Notes

1 - Hard to believe, but it’s already been 14 years since the place was called “SkyDome.” Also hard to believe: Rogers Centre is now the seventh-oldest MLB stadium, and the oldest of the “modern” parks.

2 - My parents were Spanish teachers, and so is my girlfriend. So maybe I’m biased toward getting it right. The great announcer Jon Miller, who is certainly not Hispanic, always gets it right.

3 - Personally, I still haven’t gotten over the final series of the 1989 season at SkyDome, which had opened that same season.

4 - The schedule-makers can’t always do a balancing act on intradivision games throughout the season, either. For instance, the Orioles play the Red Sox for the final time at Camden Yards this season on July 21; their last two series against Boston come at Fenway Park.

5 - There are others under consideration, I guess. Cubs-Brewers has a certain cachet, but that’s mostly because the fans from the North Side swarm Milwaukee every year. I’m guessing it would be fine if that happened a few times less every year.

6 - I understand that a schedule needs to make some kind of logistical sense, and I admit that I haven’t spent hours researching the subject. But someone can, and probably already has.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

With one major championship already under his belt, Justin Thomas looks to add to his portfolio next week at Augusta.

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) Tommy Fleetwood (8) and Bryson DeChambeau (7).

At #6, it's Justin Thomas.

Man, can this guy play.

Thomas has every tool a craftsman needs to win at Augusta National.

Great driver of the golf ball? Check.

Hits it high enough with his irons to hold the greens? Check.

Touch of a surgeon around the greens, with perfect chipping technique? Check.

Solid putter? Check.

This could very well be his year at Augusta National.

He's played The Masters just three times, but made the cut in all three and bettered his spot in the field all three times, too. He was T39 (2016), T22 (2017) and T17 last year. And it's only going to get better from there.

In my book, other than Dustin Johnson, he's the best American player in the game today.

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Wednesday
April 3
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#1682



blame goes both ways with kuchar, garcia


On a national radio show on Monday, I was brought in to participate in a discussion about the recent rules snafu involving Matt Kuchar and Sergio Garcia. And as fate would have it, I was asked to defend Garcia's position.

For the uninitiated, here's what happened last Saturday in their match during the World Golf Championships event in Austin, Texas. Garcia had an 8-foot par putt -- to win the hole -- on the 7th hole. He missed the putt low to the left and the ball scooted past the cup by 8 inches or so. Garcia, assuming the putt was conceded, clipped the back of the ball with his putter in an attempt to make the short putt (even though with a conceded putt, there's no need to do that) and it lipped out of the hole.

Kuchar, standing about 50 feet away at the back of the green, immediately said, "Sergio, I didn't concede that bogey putt."

When Kuchar said that, the rules official stepped in and awarded Kuchar the hole.

And then the fun began.

To his credit, Sergio Garcia was more than gracious in defeat after losing to Matt Kuchar in a match that included a controversial rules issue that went against Garcia.

Garcia wasn't happy. Instead of tying the hole, in a close match, he lost the hole, in a close match.

Kuchar claimed he didn't like winning a hole like that, which prompted Garcia to come up with a reasonable remedy, in his mind. "You can just concede the next hole to me and we're even," the Spaniard said.

Kuchar didn't like that remedy. And so on they played, with Garcia continuing to harp on the issue for several holes throughout the back nine. Kuchar would go on to win the match, but that rules snafu back on the 7th hole definitely had a bearing on the outcome.

After the match, Garcia took full blame. For a minute or two. But he insisted, despite saying "it was my fault", that Kuchar had "other options presented to him that he didn't like." And that was true, of course. Kuchar did have other options. And he didn't like them. And it was also true that Garcia was to blame for his own violation of the rules.

But here's the deal.

Kuchar was also to blame.

This is now the second time in six months where Kuchar hasn't been engaged in the moment and it's come back to haunt him. Last November, after winning a one million first place check, the former Georgia Tech All-American tried to stiff a local Mexican fill-in caddie who was on his bag that week. Instead of giving him the traditional 10% caddie bonus, Kuchar slipped the guy $5,000. A guy who has made over $40 million playing golf (plus millions more from endorsements) tried to "tip" his caddie $5,000 on a $1 million check.

After a few weeks of getting beat up over it and insisting he had done the right thing with his initial paltry payment, Kuchar gave the guy another $45,000 to make it an even $50,000. That was still 5% less than he should have given him, by the way, but $50,000 is way better than $5,000.

And you thought Warden Norton was being obtuse in Shawshank Redemption, right?

Now, fast forward to last Saturday in Austin.

Kuchar, for whatever bizarre reason, was nearly off the green and headed to the next tee while Garcia was putting on the 7th green. Why he wasn't standing near the hole is anyone's guess, but had he been there and -- here's the important part -- actually engaged and watching what was going on, he would have said, "That's good" after Garcia missed his putt there. Instead, he wasn't there. He wasn't engaged. And it all happened so quickly that by the time Kuchar knew what was going on, Garcia had missed the putt, missed the backhander too, and was now at the mercy of the rules gods.

A lot of TOUR players said afterwards the best and easiest thing for Kuchar to do would have been to just say to the rules official, "I gave him that putt. You must not have heard me say 'that's good' but I did. Tied hole, let's go to #8." And, yes, Kuchar could have done that I suppose.

I used this episode with my Calvert Hall High School team on Sunday at practice. "Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention," I told them. "If you're Garcia, don't backhand the ball like a goof, no matter how far by the hole it is. If you're Kuchar, stay around the activity instead of wandering off to the back of the green and watch what's going on so you can fulfill your duties within the match itself.

Yes, it's Garcia's "duty" to hear a concession, verbally. It's also Kuchar's "duty" to be paying attention and to offer a concession, verbally, after a putt is missed.

Garcia is to blame, because he was the one who violated the rule. When pressed to pin full blame on one and only one player, it has to go to Sergio.

But Kuchar is to blame as well. Just like in Mexico back in November, his inability to stay "in the moment" hurt him in Austin, Texas. He has a responsibility to help facilitate the match because concessions and such are part of match play golf. By wandering off to the back of the green and not really paying all that much attention, he wound up involving himself when he perhaps didn't deserve to be involved.

That a large number of PGA Tour players have backed Garcia in the aftermath of the incident either tells you what they all feel about Kuchar or gives you some insight into the way they all think when it comes to laying out the unwritten rules for match play golf. I'm not sure which it is, frankly, but my guess is it's a little (or a lot) of both.

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#dmd march madness contest up for grabs


We have ourselves a barnburner of a March Madness contest going, friends.

With only the Final Four and Championship game left, I think we have three different people who could actually win.

Two more wins for Tony Bennett and Virginia would be a win for some #DMD readers as well.

Here are the point totals of the 10 people on the top of the leaderboard and their projected national champion. Several people (Joseph Crumbling, Jeff Cernik, Dave Angle, Paul Grantham and Dale Lemanachak) have Texas Tech in the Final Four or winning it all, which is quite impressive. But they don't have enough points built up to win the whole thing, unfortunately.

We don't have anyone remaining with a "perfect" contest entry, but we do have several people who only missed ONE of the five point questions and/or ONE Final Four team. We had six participants pick Auburn as a Final Four team but none of them have the Tigers winning it all.

McCarthy is our leader with 120 points. He has Michigan State winning the title. If the Spartans do win, he can't be caught.

Here's the Top 10.

1. Chris McCarthy, 120 (Michigan State).

2. Dave Parradino, 115 (Virginia).

C.J. Rix, 115 (Virginia).

Robert Mecklenburg, 115 (Michigan State).

5. Paul Grantham, 110 (Virginia).

Dave Angle, 110 (Michigan State).

7. Scott Brown, 105 (Michigan State).

Tim Goddard, 105 (Virginia).

9. T.J. Kremer, 100 (North Carolina).

10. Sean Keehan, 95 (Duke).

Thanks to all of you who participated. I hope you like this "different" type of contest we do. I think next year we'll tweak it and make it even better. We'll award points for the Final Four based on seedings so, as an example, if you have a 4-seed winning the title and they do, you'd get MORE points than if someone had a 1-seed winning and they do.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

With four wins in the last calendar year, Bryson DeChambeau will enter next week's Masters as one of the PGA Tour's most decorated players in 2018-2019.

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10), Brooks Koepka (9) and Tommy Fleetwood (8).

As we move deeper into our projected Top 10, let's look at the guy who I initially thought would win the tournament. At #7, it's Bryson DeChambeau.

I still love DeChambeau's chances at Augusta (I'd bet he'll win at least one Masters someday) but his recent form has been less than encouraging. Still, guys like Sergio Garcia won at Augusta with not-so-great form heading into the tournament, so I don't know how much stock we should really put on that element of forecasting a winner.

DeChambeau got off to a sizzling start earlier in the winter, then cooled off once February rolled around. But his stats still earn him strong consideration at Augusta. He hits it plenty far enough and plenty straight enough. His greens in regulation numbers (67%) are fine. He's just not a great putter. And that's where his chances will lie at Augusta National next week.

He's just enough of a mad-scientist type to figure it all out and blaze through 72 holes without a three putt. Or he's a quacky enough guy to get overly burdened with it all and have a bunch of missed putts en route to a T44 finish.

I think he's a legitimate threat there next week. I've softened on him over the last month, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see him win. He doesn't have a weakness tee-to-green. It all comes down to the flat stick for DeChambeau.

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Tuesday
April 2
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#1681



"do you believe in miracles?"


I'm getting ahead of myself, I know. We're a long way from talking about miracles and division titles and that kind of stuff. But 3-1 is 3-1. It's better than 1-3, if nothing else.

The O's managed to squeak out a 6-5 win in Toronto last night despite themselves. I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of that over the next six months. Not a lot of winning, per se, but a lot of the wins will come despite our Orange and Black shortcomings.

Here are five early -- very early, actually -- observations from the season to date.

Our bullpen is lousy. There might be an occasional night where a couple of guys come in and shut people down. But we're in trouble if we have to turn the game over to the bullpen. John Means was really good on Sunday in New York. But that 80 mph change-up won't be quite that baffling the second time around the league. Givens, Castro, Bleier? Runs waiting to happen, I'm afraid. I'd love to be wrong on this. But by June 1, the bullpen will be in tatters.

It took new manager Brandon Hyde four games to draw the ire of O's fans...

Just let Mancini play first base. You can't possibly give Davis a $90 million golden parachute, so the Hyde-Elias braintrust should just handshake on this deal: Mancini moves to first base and plays every day. Davis DH's against righties and is available to pinch hit other times. Easy peasy. Sure, Davis is an "A" defensive player and Mancini is a "B". Who cares? Mancini should play every day and Davis should be thankful baseball has guaranteed contracts. And if Davis squawks about being reduced to a half-the-time DH, tell him to deal with it or retire.

It's early and all, but maybe Dwight Smith Jr. finally has the bit between his teeth. I like what we've seen of him so far. I know he never lived up to his first round billing and all, but there's something there. Of course, doing it for one week is a lot different than doing it for six months. I get it. Some guys just take longer. Maybe he's one of those guys. I'll say this, and hopefully make it sound like a compliment to Smith. He's better than Joey Rickard. And at this point, he's probably better than Cedric Mullins, who looks a little overmatched thus far in the little we saw of him last season and early on in 2019.

Taking David Hess out last night with a no hitter going was a poor decision by Brandon Hyde. It doesn't make him a terrible manager. It doesn't mean anything at all, other than he made a poor decision by taking him out of the game. If it's 1-0 or 2-0...eh, maybe. It was 6-0. Hess had thrown 82 pitches. And let's be honest. He isn't a first round pick. He's a latter-day version of Dave Johnson, the O's broadcaster. Give him a shot at career glory. In other words: You leave him until they get a hit. A dummy could have figured that out. It was a NO HITTER. Not a shutout. Not a guy going for his first MLB win. He had a NO HITTER going and the manager took him out. Poor decision...

I don't put much stock in first week stuff, but Toronto looks like they're going to stink. That first inning last night was Keystone Cops stuff. Unprofessional, basically. And when I look up and down their roster, it reminds me of the Orioles. I only know three or four players. They have some decent starting pitching in Toronto, but that's about it. The most exciting thing going on up there this season might be "No Flinch Lady" who sits right behind home plate. That's one of the only reasons to watch the Blue Jays every night if you're in Toronto.

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



The Orioles didn't actually release Chris Davis on Sunday night, and as such manager Brandon Hyde was yet again tasked with the unenviable task of figuring out what to do with the former home run hitter again on Monday night.

And he'll face the same impossible choice again dozens and dozens of times in the coming weeks and months.

The Davis Problem barely needs any elaboration at all at this point: Signed to a $150 million+ contract after the 2015 season, Davis' production cratered after only one reasonably good season into his new mega-contract, including a 2018 season that was one of the very worst for a full time position player in MLB history.

To make matters worse, there's no real reason to have any hope whatsoever that Davis is even capable of turning things around. All points where he was supposedly making big changes to his approach correlated to him looking even more lost at the plate, if that were possible.

There haven't been any periods in which Davis went on a true hot streak for anything like an extended period of time. And there simply aren't comparable examples of players who have fallen nearly as far and turned their careers around after the fact in cases that didn't involve an injury of some kind.

#DMD's Brien Jackson says the time has come for the Orioles to part ways with Chris Davis.

And yet here he finds himself, still owed over $90 million and pegged into the Orioles' roster for through the 2022 season.

Paradoxically, the current state of the Orioles franchise should make that virtually irrelevant. Embarking on a deep rebuilding effort where piles and piles of losses are the expectation for at least a year or two, running Davis out there every day really shouldn't make any difference at all, no matter how bad he is.

He's not doing anything to help, of course, but he shouldn't be doing anything to hurt the Orioles this season, either. The money certainly doesn't matter: There is no chance whatsoever that any other team would assume a dime of Davis' contract, so the Orioles are on the hook for the balance of the deal whether Davis stays on the roster or not.

So hey, if you can't save money and there's nothing to gain by dumping him, why not keep him?

Well believe it or not, Davis is actually managing to screw that up too! Or at least he will be. That's because despite a dearth of talent across the roster, the Orioles somehow still manage to find themselves with a lingering roster logjam at the 1B/DH/OF spots, both in the short term and long term.

The long term issue is probably the more obvious one: The O's have a bunch of young outfielders on the cusp of getting big league playing time. Cedric Mullins, D.J. Stewart, Austin Hays, and Yusniel Diaz are among the team's best, and most big league ready prospects. There's a real chance all of them are on the big league roster by the end of the year.

That would likely end Trey Mancini's tenure as an outfielder, forcing the one time Rookie of the Year candidate into a 1B/DH role, one that he'll likely be sharing with Ryan Mountcastle down the road. The Orioles' best hitting prospect is still struggling to show that he can handle an infield position anywhere near adequately, but also continue to be one the very best hitters in the entire minor leagues.

Plug all of those young guys into spots by the end of next season at the latest and it's clear that there's just no room on the roster for Davis, even if he somehow does improve to merely a below-average hitter as opposed to an all-time bad one.

Honestly, even if he produces at an average level (which would be a major shock, obviously) he'd still mostly just be blocking someone else who was a) probably better b) more likely to be a big part of the next winning baseball team in Baltimore.

But there's actually another problem that looms much more imminent for Mike Elias: Mark Trumbo. Presumably the Orioles' general manager would really like to get the former A.L. home run champion traded away at some point this season, a proposition that isn't quite as far-fetched as it might sound.

Unlike Davis, Trumbo carries an expiring contract, so if he manages to be mildly productive at the plate a team in the playoff race could snatch him up before the trade deadline with no commitment to him beyond this season. He won't net any top prospects by any means, but getting a fringey prospect, some international signing funds, or just saving some money on his contract, isn't out of the question if he's hitting well in July.

And here's the thing: Trumbo seems to actually hit better when he plays first base. Particularly when compared to DH'ing. While handling the DH role Trumbo is a .239/289/.411 hitter for his career, but when he's also playing first base he's hit .249/.295/.469. That's not a huge jump outside of the slugging percentage but it's been a defined enough trend for a few years now and the sample size is large enough to matter.

Also those DH numbers don't include his mostly bad time playing for the Diamondbacks in the National League. If the Orioles are going to pray they can get anything in return for Trumbo, anything at all, this year, it certainly makes sense to hope there's meat to those splits.

But that would mean doing....something with Davis. Moving him to DH at the very least, or platooning him in that role with Mancini. Which is completely pointless, of course, and the more you think about it the more obvious the bottom line is: There's just nothing worth doing with Davis. There's no way you can really imagine him helping this team, certainly not in 2-3 years, and for the most part the process of thinking about what to do with him is mostly about figuring out how you can both use him while minimizing the negative impact he has on everything around him.

At some point the Orioles are going to have to release Davis for real. He's unlikely to return to form as a useful big league hitter, and he's going to be blocking the advancement of young players and jamming up the roster. It is going to happen sooner or later.

I, for one, recommend just ripping the band aid off and getting it over with.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood was a Ryder Cup star for Europe last September. Could this year's Masters be his breakout event in the U.S.?

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11), Louis Oosthuizen (10) and Brooks Koepka (9).

As we move deeper into our projected Top 10, it's time to focus on one of the game's up and comers who will certainly win a major title or three in his career. At #8, it's Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

What Fleetwood lacks in Masters experience (2 appearances, one cut made) he more than makes up for in everything else. Simply put: This guy is really good.

He had a terrific 2018, which included a 2nd place finish at the U.S. Open, and has continued to shine in the '18-19 campaign with 7 cuts made in 7 appearances, with three top 10 finishes. That he hasn't won yet on the PGA Tour is not at all concerning. The wins are coming soon, and there will be many of them.

Fleetwood's game is built on driving it well and hitting the greens. His length (40th on TOUR) is standard, so getting to the par 5's at Augusta won't be an issue for him. He's not the greatest putter statistically, but like anyone else, if he gets hot with the blade at the right time that's all that matters.

There are occasionally guys who come along and the feeling after a year or two is "this guy is legit". While Luke Donald was a terrific player and all a decade ago, Donald never quite seemed to be a star in the making. Fleetwood seems like he has "star material". It's just a matter of time before he wins a big golf tournament. It might be Augusta National in 2019.

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Monday
April 1
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#1680



o's show some guts with davis release


Sunday night's news that the Orioles placed Chris Davis on waivers is both the right thing to do and quite surprising at the same time.

It was the right thing to do for the most obvious reason of them all: He can't hit any longer.

But it was surprising because the Orioles are going to have to give him a $90 million going away present once he clears waivers later this week.

Three games into the season was all Mike Elias and Brandon Hyde needed to see, I guess. In their defense, they also saw him in a month's worth of spring training games. And even though they weren't with the Orioles last year, Hyde and Elias know all about Davis and his 2018 woes.

"It just wasn't there," O's general manager Mike Elias told ESPN's Baseball Tonight on Sunday evening when news broke of the Birds releasing veteran first baseman Chris Davis.

"It just wasn't there," Elias told ESPN during their telecast of the Braves and Phillies last night. "We told Chris early on in Sarasota we needed to see him become a productive hitter again. Brandon had a conversation with him a few weeks ago and at that point we basically told him 'we're looking at all of our options' and he knew what that meant, I think."

Davis apparently bristled at not starting on Saturday in New York but Elias said that didn't have anything to do with the team's decision to release him on Sunday night.

"I wouldn't expect any starter to like being out of the lineup two games into the season," Elias said. "But we wanted to get a look at Mancini at first and we also wanted to see if sitting out would maybe put a bounce in his (Davis) step on Sunday."

Instead of putting a bounce in his step, Davis promptly went 0-for-3 in yesterday's 7-5 win. That was the last straw, according to Elias, who called the first baseman minutes after the team got to the airport in New York and told him of his release.

"It wasn't the most pleasant phone call I've ever made, let's just put it that way," said Elias.

Give the Orioles credit. While they're clearly "not trying to win" in 2019, letting Davis go and potentially being forced to eat $90 million in future salaries is a tough pill to swallow.

"We have a long term plan," Elias told ESPN on Sunday night. "And we're not going to rush to judgement on players, young or old. But with Chris, the stats over the last couple of years sort of speak for themselves. We saw enough in spring training and over the weekend in New York to decide that we need to go in a new direction."

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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


yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: The Orioles, right now

Yesterday…

Sure, it’s easy to make a few jokes about the 2019 Orioles and their current active roster of 12 pitchers and 13 position players.

A quick glance shows that only three of those 13 non-pitchers are established Major League starting players, and that’s if you say that Trey Mancini is established and insist that Chris Davis is still established. With Alex Cobb on the shelf, Andrew Cashner leads the way among the pitchers with 46 career victories (with 80 losses!)

One of the rare veteran holdovers from last year's dismal 47-115 team is Trey Mancini, who will now see full-time first base duty after Sunday's release of Chris Davis.

Obviously, if you look back to the beginning of the 2018 season, things were different. In some ways, though, the Orioles’ lineup was pretty ridiculous then too!

Buck Showalter got some kind of analytical advice to bat Davis in the leadoff spot, which seemed insane, though in all honesty in really didn’t matter where Davis was in the lineup. Manny Machado had strong-armed his way into playing shortstop, which you might have noticed is no longer the case in San Diego. In any event, with Tim Beckham moved to third base, it was a decision that hurt the team.

A declining Adam Jones was placed in the cleanup spot. On Opening Day at Camden Yards, Pedro Alvarez and Craig Gentry were in the starting lineup, later to be replaced with pinch hitters Danny Valencia and Colby Rasmus. The starting catcher that day, Caleb Joseph, had only two years earlier gone without an RBI in 141 plate appearances.

Seriously…all of that is completely true.

I suppose the point is that anyone who thought the 2018 Orioles were destined for a good season, or even an average season, would have been way off base well before the team’s historically bad season began. And that’s before you get into who would be pitching.

This year’s team with Rio Ruiz and Dwight Smith Jr. and Hanser Alberto, or eventually some other guys who come from the minor leagues, is unlikely to win more than 35 percent of its games. Last year’s team, however, had way too many guys who had no chance of being players on a winning team either.

The lineup that Showalter and Dan Duquette put on the field in early 2018 was an absolutely terrible one, the final vestiges of the 2012-2018 “Oriole Way” of cobbling together something passable out of almost nothing. It was bound to stop working at some point.

The next step is to find something that works. It will be interesting to see when the next 2012 Oriole season, an unexpectedly great one, might happen.


Today…

I was away from home most of the day on Saturday, but I happened to be by a television when Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde did the obligatory postgame interview with Gary Thorne after his first victory as a Major League manager.

Hyde was beer-(and other liquid) soaked by everyone else in the clubhouse in celebration of his first win. He was smiling ear-to-ear.

Hyde is 45, hardly “young,” yet his youthful presence in the interview was striking in comparison to Showalter, who always seemed older than his age, even when he managed the Yankees in his late 30s.

There’s nothing like your first win; even as a fan, it made me smile, just knowing that someone’s dream of being a manager had become somewhat more official with the typical handshakes from the rest of the coaching staff.

I have a vivid recollection of the first game for Sydney Johnson, then the basketball coach at Princeton and now at Fairfield. His team wasn’t very good, but fortunately neither was its opponent, Central Connecticut. The Tigers held on to win at home by a basket, and there was a neat exchange at the small press conference after the game.

The Central Connecticut coach was Howie Dickenman, a grizzled veteran with more than 30 years in the business, many of them as an assistant coach for Jim Calhoun at Connecticut. He walked out of the room as Johnson walked in, and Dickenman patted him on the shoulder.

“Congrats, Coach,” Dickenman said. “Good win. First of many…”

It was a cool gesture, I thought. The game wasn’t a great one, and Johnson was just another guy on the other team’s bench among the hundreds of other guys Dickenman had seen. But the veteran coach knew the pressure of coaching any game, let alone your first, and I’m guessing he appreciated the weight lifted off a first-year coach’s shoulders with a win.

Johnson has been a head coach for 12 years now, and the numbers show that he’s lost more games than he’s won. The same could be said for Dickenman, who retired a few years ago. I’ll bet that Brandon Hyde ends up the same way, because, well, look at who he’s got for his first few years. Plus, even successful managers like Showalter don’t finish their careers too far above the .500 mark.

Even one win in the Major Leagues is worth celebrating, I guess. The fact that it only took two games to get it made it even more fun.


Tomorrow

This will be fun…

According to a bunch of stories I’ve read, as many as 20 of the Orioles’ top 30 minor league prospects are considered to have a legitimate arrival time in the Major Leagues of the end of the 2020 season, at the very latest.

Yusniel Diaz, an outfielder, is at the top of most of those lists; he was the big prize in the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers last season. Diaz hit over .300 in 36 at-bats in spring training; though he’s at Bowie again to begin this season, he’ll be at Norfolk pretty quickly.

Ryan Mountcastle is on the Norfolk roster for the first time. He’s only 22, and he’s by far the best power hitting prospect in the organization right now. Could he be the Orioles’ first baseman of the (very) near future? Maybe, if he can learn how to play first base at all.

DL Hall is considered the team’s top pitching prospect. The team’s top pick in the 2017 draft, he’ll be at Frederick when its season begins.

Another pitcher, Keegan Akin, who shared the organization’s pitcher of the year honors in 2018, will join Mountcastle in Norfolk. Zac Lowther, with whom she shared those honors, will start at Bowie after ending last season in Frederick.

Ryan McKenna, an outfielder who’s been an excellent hitter at every level, is now in Bowie as well. Dean Kremer, acquired in the Machado trade, seems like the real deal on the mound. His curveball is better than most, though he was injured in the spring.

A couple of more distant prospects will start the year at Delmarva, which is the team’s “Low-A” affiliate. Both are pitchers: Grayson Rodriguez, a right-handed-pitcher who has the talent to make a quicker run to the big leagues, and Blaine Knight, the team’s third-round pick in 2018 from the University of Arkansas who played in Aberdeen last summer.

I say all these names right now because you ought to remember them.

Barring injuries or other unknown occurrences, you’re not going to be much older than you are now when these players will be playing in the Major Leagues, and probably for the Orioles. I’m not exactly sure when it is the team will be trading its prospects for high-priced veterans.

By the way, according to some sources, a good half of the team’s top 25 prospects have come via trade instead of the draft. Perhaps the new regime under Mike Elias will be a better drafting group than the Orioles have been in the past.

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this weekend in
college lacrosse


Contributed by #DMD's college lacrosse analyst
John Pusateri


Game of the Week: #1 Penn State 13 - #3 Maryland 10

In a game of runs, the Nittany Lions came out strong, absorbed a big blow from the Terps and finished strong to close out Maryland for their first B1G conference win of the season.

The Nittany Lions came off the bus firing on all cylinders while the Terps were asleep at the wheel. Penn State outhustled Maryland on ground balls and out worked them on both ends of the field jumping out to an 8-1 lead in the first quarter.

Maryland woke up in the 2nd quarter, shutting out Penn State with goalie Danny Dolan making 5 saves after making none in the 1st. On the other side, Anthony DeMaio found Jared Bernhardt and Lou Dubick for Maryland goals to cut into the lead 8-3 at half.

Maryland continued the run to start the second half, scoring 4 unanswered before Penn State responded with a 2 goal run to close out the 3rd leading 10-7. Then the teams traded goals in the 4th quarter to close out the game.

As expected, faceoffs went a long way to determining the outcome of this matchup. And Penn State's Gerard Arceri was dominate winning 18 of 26 draws against MD's Austin Henningsen. Maryland's defense played pretty strong in allowing the Nittany Lions just 5 more goals after a disasterous 1st quarter. But giving Penn State's offense that kind of edge in possessions is a recipe for a loss.

And when the Terps offense did get the ball, they had a tough day against the Nittany Lion defense, only putting 17 shots on goal out of 35 total shots. Jared Bernhardt led Maryland's offense with 3 goals and 2 assists and Anthony DeMaio finished 1 goal and 2 assists.


Other Local Games

#11 Towson 10 - Hofstra 9 : The Pride came to play and took a 7-4 lead in the 2nd Towson didn't have their best stuff. But a 6 goal Tiger run cemented Towson's first win in the CAA and after 3 straight losses. Brody McLean (3 goals) and Grant Maloof (3 goals, 1 assist) led the way for the Tigers.

#6 Loyola 21 - Colgate 7 : The Greyhounds triple up the Red Raiders behind 10-point games from both Kevin Lindley (8 goals, 2 assists) and Pat Spencer (2 goals, 8 assists). Jacob Stover recorded 13 saves.

#20 Johns Hopkins 14 - Michigan 8 - The Blue Jays capture an all important B1G win against the Wolverines. Joey Epstein's 3 goals and 2 assists paced the Blue Jay offense along with 4 goals for Forry Smith. Kyle Prouty was stout at the face-off X, winning 16 of 21 draws.

Holy Cross 12 - Navy 9 : Had a hunch this would be a challenging game for the Midshipmen as the Crusaders have been playing tough teams close. Goalie Ryan Kern helped keep this close with 15 saves. Ryan Wade lead Navy's 7 different scores with a goal and 3 assists.

UMBC 19 - Lafayette 8 : The Retrievers finally win the face-off battle and explode for 19 goals. Freshman Brandon Galloway (Kent Island) won 20 of 23 draws and the offense was lead by 5 goals a piece from Ryan Frawley and Josh Jordan.

Mount St. Mary's 14 - Sacred Heart 10 : The Mount gets 3 goals from 4 different players (Luke Frankeny, Chris DiPretoro, Brendan Doyle, Brenden McCarthy). But goalie Dylan Furnback comes up big with 17 saves. Don't look now, but Mount St. Mary's sits on top of the Northeast Conference at 3-0.

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the masters: our projected top 15


"Hello friends..."

If you close your eyes, you can hear the voice of Jim Nantz on Thursday, April 11 as he starts the telecast of the Masters on CBS.

"The sun is shining in Georgia today. The azaleas are in full bloom and so, too, is the golf game of Keegan Bradley. Here he is for eagle at the par 5 eighth hole. And he makes it to get to 5-under par and tied for the lead. A birdie at the 13th and then, moments ago, Bradley with this 6-footer for another birdie at the 15th. And he makes that as well! And as we join Keegan Bradley on the 16th tee, he's now in the lead at the Masters at 7-under par."

You can insert any name you want in place of Keegan Bradley. That's just the first guy that popped into my mind.

Either way, we're closing in on the first major championship of the golf season, as the best players in the world head to Augusta National for the Masters on April 11-14. There are a number of storylines out there.

Can defending champion Patrick Reed find his lost golf game in time to win his second green jacket?

Is this the year Rory McIlroy finally conquers Augusta and wins the Masters?

Will Augusta revive Jordan Spieth's game? He's already won there once and coulda-shoulda-woulda won two other times in his young career.

Does Phil Mickelson have another Masters in him? A victory at Augusta would tie him with his longtime rival, Tiger Woods, with four green jackets.

And speaking of Woods, can he win for a 5th time at Augusta and capture that elusive 15th major title?

Over the next two weeks, we'll give you our Masters Top 15 here at #DMD. For those of you who play fantasy golf, we'll culminate our Masters preview with a five man team on Wednesday, April 10 that will hopefully return some summer beach spending money for you.

Thus far, it's been Kevin Kisner (15), Tiger Woods (14), Matt Kuchar (13), Cameron Smith (12) Jason Day (11) and Louis Oosthuizen (10).

In the last seven major championships, Brooks Koepka has won three of them, a run golf hasn't seen since the heyday of Tiger Woods.

As we crack our projected Top 10, we find a guy who has been one of the toughest players to beat in major championships over the last couple of years: At #9, it's Brooks Koepka.

Koepka's career form at Augusta National isn't all that extensive, but he's 3-for-3 in cuts made and he's certainly trending in the right direction. Koepka, the reigning U.S. Open and PGA Champion, finished T33 (2016), T21 (2017) and T11 (2018). If his golf is up to snuff next week, he might very well contend for the championship.

What's he do well? The easier question would be, "What's he NOT do well?"

Answer: Almost nothing.

He bombs it off the tee (15th on TOUR in driving distance at 307 yards) and hits almost 70% of the greens in regulation. Those two numbers bode very well for Augusta National.

That his driving accuracy stats are way down the list (125th on TOUR) is more curiously disconnected with the tournament he's won twice (U.S. Open) than the Masters, where the rough isn't really "rough" at all.

He's not having a great putting season thus far in 2018-2019, but if he hits 7 of 10 greens at Augusta National, he'll figure out a way to sweep in his fair share of birdies.

That's he's 14-1 in Las Vegas is more a nod to his three major championships than anything else. Still, he's a definite threat at Augusta National. Koepka has clearly figured out a way to play "up" for the majors.







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