June 15
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can you still root for rapinoe and u.s. team?

Megan Rapinoe and the United States women's soccer team are in France this month -- and hopefully into July -- playing in the World Cup. It's an event that rolls around once every four years and determines which nation boasts the best female players and team.

The U.S. is a favorite to win the title. Their 13-0 thrashing of Thailand last Tuesday caused some moderate controversy, but it was commentary from one of the team's more popular players on Thursday that has created even more sizzling headlines and social media waves.

During the playing of the national anthem on Tuesday, Megan Rapinoe stood in the player line, stone-faced, hands at her side, while others on the team were caught on camera with their right hand over their heart, singing and smiling as the Star Spangled Banner was played prior to the game.

Rapinoe, who is gay, has openly clashed with what she calls "the Trump administration", vowing a month ago to never again put her hand over her heart while the national anthem is played. Two years ago, after Rapinoe took a knee during the anthem, the United States Soccer Federation quickly created and passed a by-law that states all players must stand at attention during the national anthem while participating in a USSF-sanctioned game or activity.

Megan Rapinoe (far right) refused to put her hand over heart on Tuesday during the playing of the national anthem in France.

Since then, Rapinoe has stood for the anthem. But her comments after Tuesday's game were a clear indication she's not doing any more than that.

“So it's kind of a good ‘F you' to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the Trump administration might have towards people who don't look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing,” added the soccer star.

In the past, Rapinoe has referred to President Trump as "racist", "sexist" and "small-minded".

All of this, naturally, has created water cooler talk about the World Cup and the U.S. women's team. "Can you cheer for Megan Rapinoe and overlook her refusal to honor the Star Spangled Banner?"

It's important to realize that this exact same scenario could easily play out again in three years if the U.S. men's team advances to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There could be a player or players who refuse to fully participate in the national anthem. What then?

This story, of course, goes far beyond just one player on the women's team exercising her lawful right to not participate in a ritual during the national anthem. Activists will say she's doing the right thing. Americans who have fought for the freedoms Ms. Rapinoe possesses say it's wrong.

More importantly, young female soccer players at an impressionable age might be influenced by Rapinoe's stance against the anthem. That's what those who oppose her will point to as well.

But the most critical question, at least for the next three weeks, is the one in the headline: Has Megan Rapinoe impacted your ability to cheer for the U.S. women's team in this World Cup?

A lengthy scroll through social media and the internet would tell you that the country, predictably, is divided. There are lots and lots of "I won't be following along anymore" comments, but just as many, "You go girl!" posts as well.

Me? I think most of you know where I stand on this. When the national anthem is played, you stand up and put your hand over your heart. That's what I was taught, that's what I taught my children, and that's what I believe Americans should do.

That said, I will certainly not allow Rapinoe's lack of appreciation for her country keep me from watching the women's team over the next three weeks. I'll be in front of the TV whenever they play.

Where do you stand? No pun intended...

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u.s. open day two -- woodland charges to the lead

Wait a minute. The stats say Gary Woodland can't putt.

He sure could putt on Friday at the U.S. Open.

Ranked 150th on TOUR in putting coming into this week's third major of the year at Pebble Beach, Woodland produced a stirring round of 65 on Friday to snatch the lead away from Justin Rose and finish the day at 9-under par, good for a two-shot lead on Rose and a three-shot advantage on Louis Oosthuizen.

Gary Woodland rode a scorching hot putter to a second round score of 65 on Friday and a two-shot lead at Pebble Beach.

Woodland rolled in a 15-foot par putt at the 8th hole (his 17th of the day), then made an improbable birdie at his final hole, the 9th, from 30-feet. Woodland drove his ball into a fairway divot on the last hole, then gouged a 6-iron from 217 yards to pin high right on the treacherous 9th green.

Long known as one of the TOUR's best drivers of the golf ball, Woodland has 3 career wins and has never once finished inside the Top 10 in a major championship. To call him an unlikely 36-hole leader might be unfair, but there's not much about his career that suggests this kind of play was looming.

Woodland has made just one bogey through 36 holes. That's tough to do anywhere, but particularly difficult to do at Pebble Beach during a U.S. Open.

Rose, meanwhile, carded a second round 70 to go with his opening round of 65. And Oosthuizen was all over the place for most of the day, making either birdie or bogey for the most part. He will play in the penultimate group this afternoon, in search of his 2nd career major title.

Here are more notes from Friday's second round

The cut fell at +2 for two days (142). The most notable names who won't be around for the weekend are: Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Jimmy Walker, Ian Poulter and Bubba Watson.

Tiger Woods had a sloppy day with the putter and sits at even par for two rounds. Tee to green, Tiger was much better on day two than in Thursday's opening round, but his work with the flat stick left a lot to be desired. Barring some sort of miracle, Woods will not add to his major championship total (15) this weekend at Pebble Beach.

Phil Mickelson will also need a mini-miracle to complete the career grand slam, as he sits at 1-under par after two rounds. Mickelson excited the crowd with a back-nine run that saw him get to 3-under par after a birdie at the 14th hole, but two late bogeys coming in sent him back to minus-1 through 36 holes.

Matt Kuchar produced a second straight round of 69 and is in the hunt for his first major title. Kuchar was the only player in the field to eagle the 18th hole, with a chip-in from above the hole on his final shot of Friday afternoon.

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka duplicated Kuchar's play with a second round 69 to go with his opening round of the same score. Koepka's putter let him down on Friday. In Thursday's opening round, he couldn't find the fairway enough. On Friday, he hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens (tied for 1st among all players), but made just three birdies along the way. If he gets the putter going on Saturday and can duplicate his Friday ball-striking display, watch out.

Rory McIlroy stumbled with a bogey at 13 and an ugly double-bogey at 14, but rebounded with birdies at 15 and 16 and sits at 5-under for the championship. Looking for his second U.S. Open crown and first major title since 2014, McIlroy made a spectacular "3" at the par-4 15th after driving into a fairway bunker. He followed that up with a birdie putt from the first cut of rough at 16.

With the fairways and greens firming up for the weekend, anything can still happen. The likely winning score will probably be in the range of 6-under par, which means anyone at even or better still has a chance, although they'd have to produce two remarkable rounds -- given the conditions -- while those on top of the leaderboard stumble. It's happened before at the U.S. Open, of course.


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June 14
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they'd rather it be the maple leafs

The city of Toronto finally got a long-awaited major sports championship last night when the Raptors edged the hobbled Golden State Warriors, 114-110. That victory gave Toronto a 4-2 series win.

The CFL Argonauts have won several Grey Cup titles in the last two decades, including one in 2017, but the last major-sport title for Toronto came in 1993 when the Blue Jays repeated as World Series champions.

Last night in Oakland, the Warriors fought hard, but lost Klay Thompson to a torn ACL in the 3rd quarter, then couldn't hold off the healthy, battle-tested Raptors in the final 12 minutes. As I noted here earlier this week, losing Kevin Durant was going to be almost impossible to overcome for the defending champs. Not having Thompson available for the most important quarter of the season was simply too much for Golden State to handle.

As I watched the final few minutes, it dawned on me that if the Warriors could somehow steal Game 6 and head back to Toronto for a decisive 7th game, it would set the stage for an epic storyline in the career of Steph Curry. Could he single-handedly win Game 7, in Michael Jordan mode, and add yet another chapter to his already Hall of Fame legacy?

Alas, it wasn't to be, although Curry did have a chance to give the Warriors the lead in the final ten seconds, as Golden State trailed by a point and Curry found himself with an open look and a shot he probably makes far more times than he misses. But on this occasion, the ball didn't go through the net. And Toronto won the title.

Interestingly, the folks in "The North" will celebrate the basketball crown but all the while they'll be wishing it was a Stanley Cup championship, not a NBA Finals title. The Maple Leafs are the darling of Toronto sports, but for now, at least, the Raptors own the city.

And while Kawhi Leonard will never be as popular as Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, he'll be a favorite son of Toronto for a few days while they revel in their basketball championship.

When Lamar Jackson is wearing this uniform in September, that's when his performance should be critiqued.

Lots has been made this week about Lamar Jackson's performance in the team's mini-camp at Owings Mills. Every throw he makes within vision of the media gets reviewed and dissected the moment it goes up on social media. It's crazy.

I hope people get this: What they are doing out there in Owings Mills is not football. It's not even close to football.

It's akin to going to the baseball stadium tonight and watching the Orioles hit homers in batting practice and assume they'll do the same thing in the game itself. Batting practice is not baseball. It's -- batting practice.

When football players don't have equipment on and when they aren't running and operating at full speed, it's not football. Running around on the practice field and throwing passes to other players in shorts and a tee shirt is not a replica of the real thing we'll see next September. It's just not.

Now, if you want to get hot and bothered about something in mini-camp that does matter, you can get agitated with Michael Pierce. The Ravens defensive lineman apparently showed up in camp 25 pounds overweight. You can hide 5 or 10 pounds. But you're not hiding 25, especially when they ask you to step on the scale.

Pierce's condition was such a concern he didn't even make it through pre-practice stretching. Really, he didn't. John Harbaugh sent him inside to do whatever it is you do when you're 25 pounds past your playing weight and it's only mid-June.

Back to Jackson for a second. His grasp of the playbook is far more important right now than any throw he makes in a mini-camp or practice. With Greg Roman taking over the offense for the Ravens, it's critical that Jackson has it all down by the time that visit to Miami comes along in early September. There's no Joe Flacco to fall back on, remember. It's either Jackson or RGIII.

I know lots of people in these parts are very tense when it comes to criticizing the Orioles, so I'll be very gentle with them. I'm not even going to criticize them, actually. I'll just point out they lost last night 12-3 and it appears as if Mark Trumbo is probably not going to play this season.

Now, Trumbo not playing doesn't mean much of anything, except it could be the reason Chris Davis stays with the club for the remainder of the season. Trumbo, by the way, played a handful of games in Norfolk with limited success, but reported that his knee wasn't feeling much better along the way. He came to Baltimore for a visit with team doctors on Wednesday and Brandon Hyde reported to the media on Thursday that Trumbo would take a couple of weeks off to see if that helps.

Davis, meanwhile, has been stashed all the way down to 8th in the lineup now. He did manage a hit last night -- against the shift, no less -- but is still hitting .167 on the season.

I get it. As I've said over and over, it's not my $23 million, so it's easy for me to say this: But keeping Davis around and letting him collect his paycheck while doing nothing at all to earn it is a terrible message to send to anyone else in the organization.

The Orioles are on the hook for three more years of Chris Davis and his $23 million no matter what he does. Releasing him is far better than keeping him around and letting him gobble up playing time you could be giving to someone else. The organizational "shift" has been a pleasure to watch over the last eight months. This rebuild looks like it might actually take hold in four or five years. But keeping Davis around is an embarrassment to anyone and everyone who has a say in the decision making process.

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rose grabs day one lead at pebble beach

Justin Rose sure can putt.

So, too, can Tiger Woods.

The difference in the two? Rose made a lot of great birdie putts on Thursday in the opening round of the U.S. Open. Woods make a lot of great par putts.

Rose birdied his final three holes on Thursday to finish at 6-under par and lead the year's third major championship by a shot over Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele and Aaron Wise.

Woods, meanwhile, is lurking five shots off the pace at 1-under par, although his iron play was so poor on Thursday he could have easily posted something like +2 or +3 with no problem at all.

Here are some notes from Thursday's opening round:

Two players in the field played the first round without making a bogey. They were Graeme McDowell (-2) and Nate Lashley (-4). McDowell, you'll remember, won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and has played better of late as he looks for a mid-career revival. Lashley? You've never heard of him. Neither has, apparently, as he doesn't even have a picture associated with his name on the U.S. Open leaderboard.

Justin Rose already has one U.S. Open trophy. Can he make it two this week at Pebble Beach?

Jordan Spieth hit a couple of errant shots on Thursday and blamed his caddie for both of them. The 8th hole exchange between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller sparked a lot of internet chatter after Spieth hit his tee-shot (with an iron) some 35 yards past Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, into and over a large cliff that cuts into the 8th hole. Moments after his tee shot went over the cliff, Spieth nuked a shot from 160 yards over the pin into the high rough behind the green.

"Two perfect shots," Spieth said. "I hit two perfect shots. You put me in the water with one and over the green with the other."

Afterwards, both parties downplayed the event. Greller told the media he didn't even hear with Spieth said and the player essentially took the blame for "looking bad" but was steadfast that it wasn't meant to be a personal dig at Greller, rather just frustration that the two of them couldn't get the clubs right on both shots.

It sure sounded to me -- and lots of others -- that Spieth was blaming Greller for the errant shots. Spieth finished the day at +1 (72).

Woods drove the ball well, but his iron game was terrible. He finished up hitting just 9 of 18 greens, despite finding the fairway on 10 of the 14 driving holes. Tiger's putter kept him in it, as he needed just 1.39 putts-per-hole, 5th best on the day among all players.

Brooks Koepka started his title defense with a round of 2-under (69), but, like Tiger, he wasn't sharp overall. Koepka's issues were more off the tee than anything else, as he hit just 7 of 14 fairways. He was able to hit 12 greens in regulation, but several of those featured birdie putts of 30 or 40 feet. He's far from out of it, though. And if he can get his play off the tee figured out, you should expect to see Koepka on the first page of the leaderboard by Sunday.

Rickie Fowler was the first guy in the clubhouse at 5-under par. He's never won a major championship, but the former Oklahoma State prodigy has sniffed around all four of them at some point in his decade-long career. He had an almost flawless day, hitting 13 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. If a few more putts would have dropped......Fowler could have threatened an opening round 63. 54 holes of golf remain, but it's easy to say this: Other than Woods or Mickelson winning, there wouldn't be a more popular champion than Rickie Fowler.


June 13
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give us back the "real" u.s. open

I have a few rooting interests this weekend at Pebble Beach.

Tiger or Phil winning would be awesome.

Watching Brooks Koepka make history with his third straight U.S. Open win would also be cool.

I'd love to see Rickie Fowler win and capture that elusive first major championship of his career.

I have "other" reasons for pulling for Martin Kaymer, Jim Furyk, Chez Reavie, Henrik Stenson and Kevin Kisner, if you know what I mean.

Really, though, more than anything, I just want to see the U.S. Open become the U.S. Open again.

While The Masters remains my favorite golf tournament, there's no doubt about which of the four majors is the "best" of them all: It's the U.S. Open. And it's not even close.

Or at least it was, 30 years ago or so, when par was a great score and you strived to shoot anything around 72 or thereabouts. Somewhere along the way, the USGA lost its way. Whether they bowed to pressure from players who didn't like being "embarrassed" by shooting great rounds of 76 or they simply wanted to see more birdies and lower scores, the governing body of U.S. golf screwed up the U.S. Open.

Curtis Strange celebrates a 20-foot par putt in the Monday playoff vs. Nick Faldo at the 1988 U.S. Open; Strange would

Let's hope this weekend they get it right at Pebble Beach.

I can close my eyes and hear it now, the play-by-play and color analysis ringing in my ears.

"Where is it, Rossi?" Jim McKay would say in 1988 when Curtis Strange found the rough in the playoff vs. Nick Faldo at The Country Club.

"It's buried. This might be the worst lie I've seen all week," Bob Rosburg would reply.

And right on cue, Curtis Strange, anger on his face, scratching his head, would then size up a punch out that might -- might -- make it back out to the fairway.

"That's all he had," Rosburg would report, right after Strange chopped his ball from rough to fairway and barely made it out of the thick stuff.

A couple of holes later, Faldo would face a 10-foot par putt.

"He has to be really careful to not three putt here," Rosburg would explain.

I'd say to no one in particular, "Three putt? He's ten feet. Come on man."

Faldo would nurse the putt towards the hole. It would creep along, miss the hole, keep rolling, and stop about 5 feet past the cup.

"That's what he was afraid of," Rosburg would say. "These greens are so treacherous late in the day."

And so it would go. Bad breaks, balls landing in fairway divots, high rough. It all made for "fair" scoring, although the players didn't like having to work really hard just to shoot even par for 18 holes.

The folks at NBC eventually picked up the U.S. Open and did yeoman's work with it, using intrepid reporters like Roger Maltbie and Judy Rankin to take the golf from the course into our homes. Johnny Miller was at his best in mid-June when the U.S. Open rolled around.

Miller was especially poignant during the U.S. Open. He talked often of players and their frayed nerves, mostly because that topic hit close to home for him, personally. "He's losing it," Miller said about Tom Lehman in 1996 when he was trying to win the Open at Oakland Hills in Birmingham, Michigan but couldn't go three holes without making a bad swing.

"The pressure is definitely getting to him," Miller was known to say, about anyone, at any time, as the golf course started to wear down even the game's greatest players.

In the 1990's, you didn't "win" the U.S. Open, you survived it. And that was cool, I thought. It was a true test of golfing acumen and golfing character. Anyone could hit a good shot or two and smile to the crowd. It was the guy who got the bad break and moved on without falling apart that separated himself from the field over 72 holes.

I guess that's why I've always loved the U.S. Open.

It was always difficult, which I appreciated. Once a year, I figured, the fairways should be 23 yards wide and the rough should be 5 inches high. If you can't drive your ball straight off the tee, you're not going to win a U.S. Open (ask Phil Mickelson).

The greens should be firm and treacherous. If you can't strike the ball properly -- in the middle of the clubface -- and apply the appropriate spin once it hits the putting surface, you should be penalized for it. And yes, occasionally even when you do everything right, sometimes the ball won't stay on the green anyway. That's OK, too.

The U.S. Open was always great because it tested everything about your golf game. It was an examination of your swing and your ability to hit the ball straight, high, low, etc. It also tested your mental strength and your internal capabilities and possibilities. Can you double the first hole of the week and still win? Tiger Woods did in 2008.

Sometime in the early 2000's, perhaps after Woods humiliated Pebble Beach, the USGA panicked and starting changing their philosophy on their most prestigious tournament. For a while there, while it was still a major and most certainly a coveted trophy, the tournament itself lost its identity.

Here's hoping this week at Pebble Beach returns the U.S. Open to its glory.

I hope it plays firm and fast and lots of guys get terrible breaks.

I hope the poa annua greens give them fits by the weekend.

I hope six foot putts are not only easy to make, but easy to three-putt as well.

I hope the water surrounding a bunch of Pebble's more beautiful holes swallow up someone's chances on Sunday.

I don't want to see anyone punished. But I do want to see someone get rewarded.

Rewarded for staying in there and fighting the course, even when it looks like she might get the best of him.

Just like in the old days...

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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.

breaking golf

In 2019, something seems to break the internet every other day. That started a few years ago, I guess. Remember the stupid dress from 2015? Blue and black? Or white and gold? Who cares? (1)

As the U.S. Open returns to the awesome Pebble Beach Golf Links, for the sixth time since it first visited in 1972, it’s worth looking back 19 years to the fourth time the tournament was played there. Forget about breaking the internet. Tiger Woods nearly broke golf in the year 2000.

Considering the conditions, the competition, and the course, he played four days of tournament golf better than anyone had ever done.

Woods shot 12-under-par, which was insane, considering no other player finished lower than 3-over-par. Saying it by strokes, it sounds even more ridiculous. Woods made 272 of them, and only six other players played 72 holes in 290 or fewer.

He won by 15 strokes despite making a triple-bogey on a par-4 on Saturday after it took him two hacks to get the ball out of thick greenside rough. (2) He shot three rounds in the 60s when no other player broke 70 more than once.

It was only his third major championship of the 14 he’d win in a 12-season span from 1997-2008, yet it remains the height of his golfing prowess.

There are so many great golf stories involving Woods from that tournament besides the big victory.

Tiger tees off with a 4-iron at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach in 2000.

The 2000 U.S. Open marked the first time that Woods had put his new ball, the Nike Tour Accuracy, into play in the United States. The ball, which was actually developed in Japan by a Bridgestone engineer (3), was a three-piece construction the likes of which had never been created before.

The days of the balata ball that lost its shape after 25 minutes were officially over, and Woods’ victory made sure Nike rushed the ball (same thing with Titleist and its Pro V1) into production more quickly than the company had planned. I went out and got some as soon as I could, even though I knew it wasn’t exactly the same ball that Tiger was playing.

Speaking of that new ball, it came out well after the tournament that Woods had come close to an embarrassing situation — a penalty, maybe even a disqualification? — early Saturday morning. Finishing his second round, he snap hooked a Tour Accuracy into the Pacific Ocean off the 18th tee. Caddie Steve Williams urged him to reload with an iron instead, because Williams knew that there was only one ball left in his boss’s bag. Woods, as happens with any golfer, protested a bit before relenting and smacking a 4-iron down the fairway.

It seems that Woods had taken a few balls out of the bag in his hotel room Friday night to work on his putting (4), and he forgot to put them back before heading to the course in the morning.

On Sunday, Woods decided beforehand that he wanted to play his final round without a bogey, a near impossibility in the U.S. Open, and he actually went out and did it. That was almost as impressive as his final margin of victory.

There’s a YouTube video featuring every shot from that final round, one where Woods parred the first nine holes, went on a birdie binge early in the back nine and then “saved” his non-bogey round with a 15-foot par putt on the 16th hole, celebrating as if he’d made the putt to hang onto a one-shot lead.

He was playing a different game than anyone else that week; that’s been said many thousands of times. There was something else, though…

The 2000 U.S. Open was the first tournament I can remember where the broadcaster, NBC, made the decision to go almost wall-to-wall. They did so because the tournament was on the West Coast, meaning golf could take part of “prime time” on the East Coast. They did so because the internet had started to change the world, and they couldn’t limit coverage to a few hours as happened in the past. They did so hoping Tiger Woods would play well and be in contention for the title.

So, the world was watching that weekend, in a way they’d never watched golf before. The Masters was still limiting its coverage, but this was a chance to watch every shot. A chance to sit in bar late in the evening (5) and watch the greatest performance ever. I did that, and I still remember what it was like.

When Woods the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, another course overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it was great theater, whatever you believed at the time about the seriousness of Tiger’s injury. The 2000 U.S. Open was more like a solo performance, one that happened to take place at one of the world’s most famous and scenic golf courses.

I bring all this up not for another opportunity to lionize Woods; there’s no need for any more of that. I don’t bring it up for any reasons of nostalgia, since something like it is not going to happen again, either by Woods or anyone else.

After all, the story entering the 2019 U.S. Open is Brooks Koepka, not Tiger Woods. Koepka could become the only modern player to win the tournament three years in a row. He could, for the second year in a row, win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year, albeit in the opposite order. He could win his fifth major in 24 months.

Another story could be Rory McIlroy, who shot 61 (6) last Sunday to demolish the field in last week’s Canadian Open. Nobody likes to pick the guy who just won the week before, but don’t forget the last winner of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell, who just two weeks earlier had won in Europe.

I bring it up because, whatever happens this weekend, it’s not going to break golf. These are immediate times, and something big seemingly gets replaced with something else within moments. Everything is big, if someone knows how to make it seem that way.

The 2000 U.S. Open really was big. And nothing has ever truly approached it in golf (7), no matter how hard we try to make something feel that way.


1 - It was blue and black, for god sakes.

2 - All professionals, and a lot of amateurs, would rather a shot go into a bunker than stay in the grass surrounding a bunker. At Pebble Beach, the high grass surrounding the bunkers is almost comical.

3 - The engineer’s name was Hideyuki “Rock” Ishii, who now works for Callaway. And Woods still uses a Bridgestone ball, just one that actually has the Bridgestone label on it.

4 - I wonder if working on my putting on a hotel room carpet would make much of a difference when I get to the course the next day. Then again, I’m not Tiger Woods.

5 - I watched Saturday’s play in a bar in Milwaukee, where I had interviewed for a golf-related job earlier in the day. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get the job.

6 - Is it ok to feel upset about bogeying the last hole when you could have shot 59 by making a birdie? I’ll have to ask Rory one day…

7 - Ok, one thing came close to approaching it…Woods’ eight-shot win at the Open Championship at St. Andrews a few weeks after the win at Pebble Beach.

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June 12
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we've had better moments

To say yesterday's performance from the U.S. Women's soccer team was "disappointing" would be confusing. But it would be very accurate.

Oh, they won their World Cup opener. With ease, in fact. They trounced Thailand, 13-0, setting various scoring records along the way and sending a very clear message to the rest of the world who showed up in France looking to take home the trophy.

But in the midst of sending that message, the Women's team also generated a wave of post-game criticism for running up the score and, probably more importantly, celebrating like fools after several late goals when the game was clearly put away.

I expected more from them, frankly. A lot more.

Predictably, the players and coaches quickly defended themselves with the media after the win.

Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. Women blasted Thailand 13-0 in Tuesday's World Cup opener. But did they go too far with their post-goal celebrations?

Head Coach Jill Ellis was apparently more than OK with the 13-0 result. "This is a world championship, so every team here has been fantastic to get to this point. And I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents. It's a tournament where goal differential is important," Ellis said. "When you get a deluge of goals like that, it's a good feeling. It builds confidence."

I had to LOL at that one. "When you beat someone 13-0, it builds confidence." Eh, maybe it does in Little League baseball. I don't think the ultra-talented women on the U.S. team slept any more soundly last night by winning 13-0 than they would have, say, if the final score would have been 9-0.

Alex Morgan scored five goals for the U.S. side yesterday, tying a World Cup record along the way. She, too, didn't want to hear the criticism afterwards. "We really just came into this game and really wanted to showcase ourselves and what we've been preparing for and what we've been working on," Morgan explained. "I think we did that. Every goal matters in this tournament, and that's what we were working on this game."

Former World Cup star and women's soccer icon Abby Wambach stuck her nose in the fray afterwards via social media. To no one's surprise, she brought up men's soccer in an attempt to deflect the criticism thrown towards the U.S. women's team. From Twitter: "For all that have issue with many goals: for some players this is there first World Cup goal, and they should be excited. Imagine it being you out there. This is your dream of playing and then scoring in a World Cup. Celebrate. Would you tell a men’s team to not score or celebrate?"

I knew that was coming. "Would you tell a men's team to not score or celebrate?"

Yesterday's story, though, had nothing at all to do with men's soccer. Zero. The story was about the women's team and their refusal to take the foot off the gas even as the clock ran down and the final whistle approached. Carli Lloyd scored in the 2nd minute of added-on injury time to make it 13-0.

Now, let's understand that goal-differential matters in this World Cup. It's the first tie-breaker when it comes to breaking a deadlock within your own group. So you need to score as many goals as you can and allow as few as possible along the way.

So, to that end, beating Thailand 13-0 is better than beating them 12-0. Necessary? Not at all. Better? Sure, by one goal.

But what left so many people shaking their heads was watching the U.S. players celebrate each goal like it broke a 2-2 tie with five minutes left in a key semifinal game.

It's one thing to throw out the "respect" card when you're scoring 8, 9 and 10 goals. "If we just played the ball backwards every time we got it and didn't actually play soccer, that would be disrespectful." You can hear U.S. players saying that now. In fact, several did say that, come to think of it.

So if "being disrespectful" is something to avoid, why hop around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose with every goal in the final 15 minutes? The U.S. reached double digits with a goal in the 81st miunute, then added tallies in the 84th, 87th and 92nd minutes. Each one included a celebration.

It was bush league.

The soccer was outstanding, even if Thailand's performance was more like a really good U.S. Division I college team. The American women are very solid, for sure, and Morgan has emerged as one of the best players the women's program has ever developed.

But it was indeed an off-putting sight to see them all jump around and humiliate the Thai players after the late goals.

The only people who didn't realize it was off-putting? The players and the coach. They were too busy defending themselves to see it for what it was.

Let's hope karma doesn't catch up to them in France.

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u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Is Jordan Spieth the man at Pebble Beach this week? #DMD thinks so.

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7. Matt Kuchar is #6. Patrick Cantlay is #5. Adam Scott is #4. Tiger Woods is #3. Brooks Koepka is #2

You'll notice there's no Dustin Johnson on the list. No Rory McIlroy, either. And, no, Rickie Fowler isn't going to win the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jordan Spieth is #1.

Yes, you read that right. We have Jordan Spieth winning this week at Pebble Beach.

Spieth's play of late has been outstanding, for starters. He's reeled off three straight top 10's, including a T3 at the PGA Championship last month. After a year of struggling, it appears as if Spieth has found something. Oh, and his putter has been on fire over the last month.

Statistically, there's nothing at all that stands out for him. He doesn't drive it very far, is incredibly wild off the tee and doesn't hit that many greens in regulation. That trifecta seems like it would prohibit him from winning a U.S. Open. But Spieth knows how to score. And his short game and putting bail him out in the same way they bailed Tiger out back in the early 2000's.

And with the perfect conditions they're calling for at Pebble Beach this week, Spieth will get the chance to putt on perfect poa annua greens for four days. The man never met a 15-footer he didn't like...or something like that.

And so there it is. We're super-high on Spieth this week. Wagering wise, Mickelson is also a great play, as is Kuchar. And if you're looking for a few off-the-radar-screen types that didn't make our Top 10 but are still worth plunking down a buck or two: Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson and Brandt Snedeker.

Finally, when you watch this week's U.S. Open, remember that roughly 50% of the field got there via qualifying. Sure, you're going to see lots and lots of familiar names for four days, but you're also going to see 15 amateurs who qualified and a host of others who started their journey back in April with local qualifying.

One of those qualifiers took place in Alaska, where the USGA holds a local qualifier every spring and awards one spot in the sectionals to the Alaskan winner. The piece below is a great 12-minute mini-documentary about the qualifying event in Alaska. I think you'll like it.


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June 11
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heart on full display

I'm assuming Golden State can't win two more games without Kevin Durant. Toronto is going to wind up claiming this NBA Finals series in one of the last two games.

But last night's 106-105 win for the Warriors, with Durant missing the entire second half, was something special.

"Heart" in sports is often over-used. But not last night. That win by Golden State showed the heart of a champion, even if their title reign will soon come to an end.

Durant spent the last month rehabbing a calf injury and was pressed into duty on Monday night with the Warriors trailing Toronto, 3-games-to-1. Golden State held their all-world player out as long as they could, but finally needed his presence in Game 5. It was win or go home time, and Durant might have made the difference.

With three minutes gone in the second quarter and the Warriors up by 5, he came up lame and was done for the night. Early Tuesday morning, the Warriors confirmed what everyone was already assuming: Durant likely tore his achilles tendon.

Steph Curry had 31 points in Golden State's big win last night at Toronto.

So the final nine minutes of the second quarter and the remainder of the game would be played without Durant. But not before Golden State got a dose of inspiration from some fans in the stands who cheered Durant's injury and mocked him with "bye bye" chants as he was helped off the floor.

"We didn't really need any extra motivation," Steph Curry said after the win. "But they sure did give it to us with the way they treated K.D. there."

DeMarcus Cousins was a little more succinct after the game. "Trash," he said. "Just plain old trash."

From there, Golden State went back to work, knowing their climb would be uphill.

They led throughout most of the rest of the game, until Toronto took over in the 4th quarter. With Golden State looking tired and more vulnerable with each possession, the Raptors built a 103-97 lead with 3:28 remaining. It was almost over.


Back-to-back three pointers from Klay Thompson and Steph Curry tied it at 103. After Toronto's Kawhi Leonard missed a 3-pointer of his own, Thompson connected again to put the champs back on top, 106-103. Golden State held on from there, as Toronto missed a last second shot that would have given them the title.

It was all heart.

In the moment, when the Warriors could have just folded up and rested on their back-to-back world titles, they stayed alive in the series with will, determination and two of the best shooters the league has seen in the last two decades.

And they did it knowing -- or guessing, at least -- that Kevin Durant's season was over.

Golden State's good and all, but it will take a mini-miracle for them to win the next two games. Toronto's just too strong, too athletic and too healthy. The Warriors are running on fumes.

But for one night, at least, it was thrilling to watch a champion stay alive.

Win or lose Game 6 or Game 7, nothing will take away from the intestinal fortitude of the Warriors. They manned up on Monday night in a big, big way.

It was a pleasure to witness it.

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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 Major League Baseball amateur draft has become a bizarre spectacle in recent years.

It wasn't that long ago that not more than 2% of fans even knew it was going on, much less anticipated the event or had insta-reactions to their team's picks, even at the top of the draft. But thanks mostly to MLB Network, the league has made an effort to turn it into a bona fide television event in recent years, and they've had some success just on the back of making it look and feel like the NFL or NBA drafts that people are much more used to following.

Still, this isn't football or basketball. The top prospects are at least a year or two away from being ready to play in the big leagues and, let's be honest, not that many of us are following college or high school baseball in enough detail to have any real idea who any more than 15-20 of these kids are. I'm a big enough baseball fan to read Baseball America regularly and check out highlight packages of some of the more touted amateurs around the country, but even then I couldn't give you a useful scouting report for any more than 25 guys who were drafted last week, and that's probably an optimistic estimate.

#DMD's Brien Jackson believes Adley Rutschman could be playing in Baltimore by September of 2020.

So with that said, I'm not going to offer you a detailed breakdown of the Orioles draft picks because, well, I don't know that much about any of the guys they drafted other than Adley Rutschman. And, frankly, even if I did it wouldn't mean very much because these guys are so far away from big league ready.

My thoughts on the Orioles' performance in this year's draft amounts to two observations. First, they got the best prospect in the draft. Bobby Witt Jr. might be the best athlete in the class and Andrew Vaughn might have been the best pure hitter available, but no one comes closer to being the total package than Rutschman.

His contact skills at the plate are top notch, he's increased his in-game power every year he's been at Oregon State, he's already polished in his mechanics and receiving skills behind the plate, and he's got rare athleticism for a catcher. It would be easier to list his flaws as a prospect, if any were readily apparent. It must be said that there are never any guarantees with draft picks, more so in baseball than the other sports even, but there hasn't been a prospect coming out of college who looked as promising as Rutschman in at least a few years. I won't be surprised if he's catching big league games by next September.

Secondly, Mike Elias focused his early draft picks on good athletes who have played in the middle of the field thus far in their careers, and he got them at positions where they represented good value based on the opinions of outside evaluators. Youngsters with the athleticism to play middle of the diamond positions at lower levels obviously come at a higher premium than players who couldn't handle being a shortstop or center fielder even in high school, so it's always nice to be able to load up on those kind of athletes to restock a system.

In the worst case scenario, it makes it far more likely you'll be able to fin a role for them as a bench player or fringe spot holder down the road, which is actually much farther than the vast majority of draft picks will ever get. And it's also nice that they didn't have to reach down the board very far to get them. There's an argument to be made that given the volatility of baseball prospects you should just draft guys you like and not worry about what anyone else thinks, but there's a limit to that mindset.

The best example I can think of are the Yankees from the beginning of the decade, who confounded some people who expected them to take hard to sign players in the late first round and attempt to buy them out of college commitments (this was before te current CBA) only for them to take guys like Cito Culver and Dante Bichette Jr. with their first picks. Again, there was a certain logic to it, but not only did those guys end up going nowhere in the Yankees' system, the fact that no one else had ever thought that highly of them meant that they were never even a useful trade chip for Brian Cashman.

At the very least, you'd always like to hold open the possibility of turning your mistake of a pick into someone else's painful bust, and that requires getting players that other teams actually want, and that the executives and scouts who will work for your prospective trade partner think highly of.

So on this score, I think Elias and the Orioles did well in the draft. Or, at least, I can't say they obviously could have done better. It's not going to turn the team around immediately, and it's probably not going to have much of an impact on the 2020 season either, honestly, but it's a good start.

And don't look now, but things are currently going well for quite a few of the guys you would consider to be the key assets in the Orioles' minor league system. To just briefly touch the bases:

-Ryan Mountcastle: He's still rough in the field, but at this point his bat is the only thing anyone cares about. And there's no arguing with that aspect of his game, as he's still hitting .308/.329/.536 as a 22 yar old in Triple-A. With those kind of numbers there's very little point in even worrying about whether or not he can be more than a DH. Mountcastle is one of the very best hitting prospects in the game, and the decision on when to bring him up in almost entirely a service time one now because he's clearly ready for a big league callup, at least offensively.

-Chance Sisco: The O's former top prospect had a rough introduction to the big leagues that carried over into his 2018 performance in the minors, but he's bounced back nicely this year. Was hitting .289/.383/.530 with 10 hoe runs in Triple-A before earning himself another crack at the big leagues. Those power numbers were easily the best of his career at any level, and at 24 years old he's not old for Triple-A by any means, so there's good reason to still have confidence in Sisco. And while his skills behind the plate are still rough, the addition of Rutschman and Mountcastle's continued struggles in the field may open the door for Sisco to get a crack at first base.

-D.J. Stewart: The 2015 first round draft pick hit 3 home runs in a big league cup of tea last year, and continued to tear it up to begin this year in Norfolk. A .316/.425/.586 slash line through 43 games earned him an early season call up and a chance to grab ahold of a starting outfield spot for the next several seasons.

-Austin Hays: No one had a rougher 2018 season than Hays, who went from one of the most enticing hitters in the minor leagues to a youngster nursing an ankle injury and an ugly stat line. He's come back from the injury this year, and while his total slash line in Double-A Bowie wasn't anywhere near what he had been putting up prior to last year, he still had 3 home runs and 8 total extra base hits in 14 games. That was good enough for a promotion to Triple-A, where he's hit a home run and a double in his first 9 plate appearances.

-Yusniel DIaz: The centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade is actually having a rough start to his first full season in Bowie, to the point that he was just deoted to High-A Frederick in fact, but he had a nice Spring Training and had a 106 wRC in Bowie last year.

Now you migt notice that there's a conspicuous lack of pitching here, and you'd be right. There's no denying that the ranks of Orioles pitching prospects is still well, not great.

Grayson Rodriguez is having an outstanding season, but he's doing that a long way from the Majors in Low-A Delmarva. Keegan Aikn and Luis Ortiz are at least in Norfolk, but their peripherals (especially their walk rates) are nothing special. And D.L. Hall, who most evaluators had as one of the O's best 2 or 3 prospects prior to the year, is walking 6.5 batters per 9 innings at High-A Frederick. Not great!

But if you're looking for optimism there's plenty of place to find it in the Orioles' system right now. Again, that's not going to change anything this year, and next year things are probably bound to be pretty bleak too, but it's not all dour. The addition of Rutschman and a generally strong draft helps the trend, but good performances from these guys who are already in the organization are what you want to see more than anything, because they're going to be the ones who give you hope that this rebuilding process can be finished in 2-3 years rather than something that drags out for the foreseeable future.


u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Can Brooks Koepka win a 3rd straight U.S. Open title?

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7. Matt Kuchar is #6. Patrick Cantlay is #5. Adam Scott is #4. Tiger Woods is #3.

Brooks Koepka is #2.

You can't possibly be surprised by this, unless you think he should be #1. Koepka has won two straight U.S. Open titles and back-to-back PGA crowns as well. Major tournament wise, no one in golf is better than Koepka.

His track record at Pebble Beach specifically isn't all that special. Then again, Koepka's career in general isn't all that eye opening except for his play in the majors since 2017.

But there's simply no reason to bet against him at this point in the proceedings. He's just been too good over the last two years to ignore.

No one would be surprised in the least if he wins again this week at Pebble Beach.

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June 10
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baseball pitchers...what a lame bunch they are

Baseball pitchers. So classless.

Madison Bumgarner's act on Sunday when Max Muncy of the Dodgers hit a home run off of him is just the latest episode in what is now about a monthly occurrence.

If you didn't see it, the whole thing went like this. Bumgarner thew a pitch that Muncy hit about 450 feet into McCovey Cove. Muncy took about 1.2 seconds to start his home run trot. By then, Bumgarner was already mouthing off.

"Don't watch the ball. Run!" Bumgarner yelled at Muncy as he got halfway down the first base line.

Needless to say, Muncy didn't take it very well. He barked back at Bumgarner as he approached second base. The home plate umpire came out to admonish Bumgarner and keep things under control.

The home run trot took a smidgen longer than normal, which agitated the Giants' pitcher even more. And as he continued to snipe at Muncy, the home plate umpire stayed in Bumgarner's face.

After the game, Muncy said he yelled back at Bumgarner: "If you don't want me to watch the ball, you should go get it out of the ocean."

Baseball pitchers are the worst.

They're allowed to fist pump, hop off the mound like Kevin Bacon in Footloose after a big strike out, drive their fist into their mitt, etc. But if a guy at the plate hits a home run off of them, there's no celebrating allowed.

A decade ago, A.J. Burnett of the Yankees got mad at Felix Pie because he ran around the bases too fast at Camden Yards.

But Burnett could fist pump with the best of them when he recorded a key out in a big moment.

Clown shoes...

Bumgarner should be ashamed of himself.

Rory McIlroy joined some really elite company yesterday with his blowout win at the Canadian Open.

With that victory, he's now won the U.S. Open, the British Open and the Canadian Open. Only three other men have done that since 1935.

Rory accomplished something on Sunday at the Canadian Open that the great Jack Nicklaus never did in his storied career.

Who are they?

You'll know the three names.

Arnold Palmer.

Lee Trevino.

And Tiger Woods.

Woods, of course, doesn't surprise you. He's won everything a golfer could win since 1996.

Palmer probably doesn't surprise you, either, although I'll admit when I saw this item posted yesterday I didn't know Palmer was on the list.

Trevino was a great player who could play on any style course and under any conditions.

And now, there's McIlroy. His win yesterday spikes an already decent season that saw him win The Players back in March. Whether he can win at Pebble Beach next week remains to be seen, but his career achievement list was upgraded on Sunday with the win at the Canadian Open.

I don't know all the ins and outs of why Joe Angel is no longer the Orioles radio play-by-play man.

Seven years ago or so, I played golf with him a couple of times a month, but we didn't really talk all that much about "business". Most of our conversations centered on golf more than anything else.

But I do know this from the rare moment we did talk baseball and broadcasting: Joe Angel loved being the Orioles radio voice. He absolutely loved it.

So when the news came out this past February that Angel would no longer be the team's primary radio play-by-play man, it piqued my curiosity. Timing wise, it seemed strange. Why wait until mid-February to decide that?

I don't know what happened, but I don't buy that he "retired". Sorry, I just don't.

As for the new guy, Kevin Brown...he's "just OK", if that. To me, and I'm a regular Orioles radio listener, the whole broadcast sounds like something you'd find on SIRIUS/XM. Brown is competent, but sounds very "national". Angel, on the other hand, had orange colored skin he loved the franchise so much.

Yesterday in the top of the 9th, the O's actually cobbled together a bit of a late rally, putting two runners on base in a 4-0 game. I get it. The chances of the Birds doing anything of note in that situation were slim. But to hear the broadcast authored by Brown, you would have thought the O's were in the 9th inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates in Bradenton, Florida.

Joe Angel would have sounded excited at the prospects of a remarkable rally, then given off a legitimate twinge of sadness when Rio Ruiz grounded out to end the game.

I miss Joe Angel. I don't know what happened to him, but the radio broadcasts aren't nearly the same without him, win or lose.

And with all the losing we've signed up for, it would be nice to have a friendly familiar voice comforting us along the way to another 100-plus loss season.

Quick. Who won the Belmont on Saturday? No Google search allowed.

Don't worry, only one other person in your neighborhood knows that Saint Winston won the race.

What's that, you say?

Oh, sorry. Sir Winston was the winner on Saturday. My bad.

We were blessed with a couple of Triple Crown winners over the last five years, so perhaps we can't expect greatness from the three late spring races each and every year.

But this year was a complete bore-fest.

First, we had the fiasco at Churchill Downs involving the disqualification of Maximum Security. That kicked off an awful Triple Crown series that included War of Wills winning an extra dull Preakness Stakes.

Saturday's Belmont was a ho-hum affair, although horse racing enthusiasts will marvel -- and rightfully so -- at the expert ride provided by Joel Rosario on board Sir Winston. The race, though, was pretty much a snoozer, with a handful of pretenders and two or three horses capable of winning.

I don't know what horse racing can do to make their sport more exciting. There's no magic formula, obviously. The three big races are only as attractive and interesting as the horses can make them. But in general, the sport of horse racing feels a lot like NASCAR. Something is missing.

Here's one thing I'd offer. I realize not every track can make this happen, but where there's a will (and money) there's a way. I wonder how much more visibility the three races would get if they were run at night?

And by "night", I'm not necessarily talking about 9:30 pm. I mean, more like 8:00 or 8:30 pm.

6:30 pm on Saturday seems like a dead time to me. It's right in the middle of people getting ready to go out and do something on Saturday in the spring. But if you could put those three races on at 8:00 pm or 8:15 pm, perhaps more people would be watching, captivated and.....gambling.

I'm just throwing something out there. Any improvement would help the sluggish horse racing industry, that's for sure.

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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: This and That...


I was thinking about the last time, before this year, that the Orioles had the No. 1 selection in the Major League Baseball June amateur draft.

The pick then, in 1989, was a good ol’ boy from Louisiana named Larry Benard McDonald; an unusual name, so it’s not surprising he went with just “Ben."

You can still hear Ben on the occasional Orioles’ broadcast, though not as often as a more famous Hall of Fame pitcher who played for the team, who apparently is selling his spiffy Little Italy residence if you’re interested. And that brings up some interesting history.

Ben McDonald was “can’t miss.” It would have been wrong to predict that he’d be the next Jim Palmer, of course, but he certainly would have been expected to start more than 198 games in his career, 70 fewer games than Palmer won during his long career.

McDonald, despite his injury-plagued career, showed why he was the No. 1 overall pick. From 1992-1994, he had 16 complete games, which even then was downright impressive. He certainly looked like a Major League pitcher almost immediately, including six appearances in 1989 that came just a couple months after he finished college.

And yet, despite his talents, we can’t say that McDonald was truly “worth” the No. 1 overall pick. Of course, that’s a hard thing to quantify exactly.

You could easily say that the only 1989 first-round pick that was really “worth it” was “The Big Hurt,” Frank Thomas, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame exactly 25 years later. Or, I suppose you could say that all 23 of the 30 first-round picks that played in the Major Leagues were, on some level, success stories.

Or, you could look negatively upon the fact that three of the top eight picks in the draft never played in the majors. Maybe you could look negatively upon the fact that, besides Thomas, the most well-known players in that first round are Mo Vaughn and Chuck Knoblauch, each of whom also had well-publicized struggles.

The 2019 Orioles, as we’ve heard for the last week, apparently took the right guy with this generation’s No. 1 overall pick. He also has an unusual name—Adley Stan Rutschman—and he’s also a college player who ought to make the majors pretty quickly. Like McDonald, he had been a much lower draft pick by another team several years earlier before heading to college instead.

Will Rutschman, like McDonald, be a player that shows why he was No. 1 but only do it in the same limited fashion?


I was thinking about the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT), currently playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. They’ll play their first game in the tournament on Tuesday, mid-afternoon Eastern Time against Thailand. Chile and Sweden are also in the group.

The USWNT is back in a spot it has often been, that of the top-ranked team in the world. Jill Ellis’s team is almost guaranteed to advance to at least the semifinal round of the tournament.

Yet, as has happened often recently with this team, the publicity is coming off the field. As the squad gets ready to compete in France, the players have filed a gender discrimination suit against their own governing body, the United States Soccer Federation.

This is a somewhat complicated issue, I suppose, and I’d hate to speak about it too much while the team is attempting to win a world championship.

There are, however, a few facts to consider…

It’s true that the men’s national team brings in much more revenue than the women’s team. The societal reasons for this can be debated somewhere else.

It’s also true that the players on the women’s national team don’t have the same full-time professional opportunities as the players on the men’s team. And the professional opportunities they do have don’t come with nearly the same monetary rewards.

It’s true that the matches so far in France have drawn average crowds of around 18,000 fans. That pales in comparison to what any World Cup men’s game would draw in a soccer-mad nation like France.

And of course it’s true that the USWNT has been, from its beginning, one of the top teams in the world, while the USMNT didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup and is often quite mediocre considering the size and wealth of the United States.

Here’s an opinion, though, that pops into my head every time I see that last one referenced in a news article or column.

It doesn’t matter. That doesn’t have anything to do with how much money the players on each team ought to make.

How much you are “worth” comes from a variety of factors, doesn’t it? And certainly, when it comes to medical care and coaching and facilities, the athletes on the USWNT are worth exactly what any other U.S. federation athletes are worth.

But the fact that the USWNT is very successful in its orbit, while the USMNT is more middling in its world, is really unrelated to how much money gets in each player’s pocket.


I was thinking about the next great team, mostly as it relates to professional sports.

It sure looks like the too-injured Golden State Warriors are going down in the NBA Finals, though it’s possible that the Warriors’ Kevin Durant might play in tonight’s Game 5 in Toronto.

If Durant does play, it might be his last game with the team. Klay Thompson, the other “Splash Brother” beside Steph Curry, might be somewhere else next year too.

This is the fifth straight year Golden State has made the finals. Six is going to be difficult with some of the team’s core playing elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady will be 42 years old on August 3. I know…pundits have been predicting the end of the Brady-Belichick dynasty for five years or so, but at the very least the large majority of that era is in the past.

It has to be, right? Is he seriously going to be slinging the ball down the field at 46 or something? I can’t imagine it.

So who is the next great team? Is there a dynasty out there, however you’d like to define that term?

The Los Angeles Dodgers are a candidate. They already have a double-digit-game lead in the National League West before Father’s Day. They’re six-and-half games better than the Phillies, who have the second-best record in the NL.

If the Dodgers make it to the World Series this October, they’ll be the first team to make it to the Fall Classic three years in a row since great Yankees teams did it four years in a row from 1998 through 2001. The Yankees, of course, won the first three of those series. So far, the Dodgers have been on the other side.

Two in a row is pretty good in itself, of course. But the last three teams to have the made the World Series in consecutive years--the 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals, the 2010 and 2011 Texas Rangers, and the 2008 and 2009 Philadelphia Phillies--didn’t exactly continue on to dynasty status.

The Yankees haven’t even played in the World Series since 2009; heck, even the Mets (2015) have made it since then. If you were to ask me what team besides the Dodgers would be the next dynasty, however, I’d go back to the Yanks.

There’s always a possibility, of course, that a dynasty like that of the Patriots might not happen for many years. Of course, Tom Brady might play until he’s well into his fifties, so perhaps that’s not worth worrying about just yet.

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u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

A fourth U.S. Open title and second triumph at Pebble Beach for Tiger Woods?

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7. Matt Kuchar is #6. Patrick Cantlay is #5. Adam Scott is #4.

The guy at #3 needs no formal introduction. It's Tiger Woods.

Woods has already won a major championship this year, capturing his fifth Masters title back in early April. A missed cut at the PGA last month set the stage for a return trip to Pebble Beach, where Tiger produced one of his most impressive performances ever back in 2000.

No stats or data driven material is needed here to qualify Woods as a top 3 candidate this week at Pebble Beach. He's Tiger Woods, owner of 15 major championships. Nothing more needs said.

He enters the event fresh off of a decent performance two weeks ago at The Memorial, where he finished T9 and was third in the field in birdies for the week. If his play off the tee is steady this week, Tiger should be lingering on the leaderboard come the weekend.

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June 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

light hitting? i'll show you light hitting

Saturday was a special day. And former Blast goalkeeper Scott Manning didn't even realize it.

I saw Manning yesterday at our Eagle's Nest member-guest tournament and said, "Do you know where you were 35 years ago today?"

He laughed and said, "No, tell me."

I said, "You were winning the first-ever Blast MISL championship."

And then we spent 10 minutes or so remembering that day, June 8, 1984, when the Blast beat the St. Louis Steamers, 10-3, to win the series 4-games-to-1.

Manning didn't play in that 5th game, history buffs might remember. Keith Van Eron got the starting nod after Manning was sensational in Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis. Coach Kenny Cooper went with Van Eron in Game 5 knowing he would have a rested Manning in Game 6 in St. Louis if something weird happened and we lost Game 5 at home.

Nothing weird happened. Van Eron was terrific, Joey Fink scored 5 goals, Paul Kitson added a key shorthanded goal in the 3rd period, and the Blast won going away.

I took out my championship ring yesterday and threw it on for a second just to "officially" commemorate the 35-year anniversary of the championship. I never wear it, but it's kind of cool to have it and "try it on for size" once a year...on June 8. That was a special day in my life and the life of Scott Manning.

I remarked here a few weeks back that I like the early results on Orioles Rule 5 shortstop, Richie Martin. He's outstanding with the glove, but lousy with the bat. "Lousy" might even be a kind term for what he does at the plate.

Richie Martin's 3rd home run of the season gave the Orioles a 3-run cushion in the ninth inning on Saturday as the Birds won, 4-1, in Houston.

Martin is hitting .178 with an equally unimpressive .240 on-base percentage. Yeah, I know. This is where you say, "Chris Davis is hitting the same thing and making $23 million while Martin makes $600,000. Where's the justice?"

But the light-hitting Martin had a 2-run homer in the 9th inning yesterday that helped the Birds shock the Astros, 4-1, in Houston. It was his 3rd home run of the season and just his 6th and 7th RBI, but it marked the second time in five games that he hit a key round-tripper in the 9th inning. He did the same thing on Wednesday in Arlington against the Rangers, tying that game at 1-1.

If the Orioles are willing to stick with Martin -- and I think they are -- they might be on to something. It's likely he'll never be a .275 major league hitter or anything like that, but if he can put up Mark Belanger numbers at the plate (career average: .228, career on-base-percentage, .300), Richie Martin could turn into a useful shortstop in this rebuild.

He'll never make $23 million a year, though.

Winning a golf tournament the week before a major championship is thought by a lot of PGA Tour players to be a no-no. There are a few exceptions over the last 30 years, but for the most part if you win this week, you're not winning next week when it really matters.

That dilemma faces several players who are in the hunt at this week's Canadian Open. Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar are tied for the lead at 13-under-par, with just 18 holes remaining. All three are considered threats to win next week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

One other name to watch is Graeme McDowell, who has played well this week, with rounds of 65-67-70 (8 under). McDowell won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and hasn't really done much of anything since then. Over the last three months, he's talked about gearing up for another run at a major title when the Open returns to Pebble Beach and now, in the lead-up tournament to the event, he seems to be rounding nicely into form. I don't see him winning next week, but McDowell is one of the good guys on TOUR and it would be cool to see him get in position next weekend if nothing else.

As for who is going to win? We'll tell you that this Wednesday here at #DMD. Scroll down for our complete U.S. Open Top 10 preview, including today's #3 prediction.

Tonight at 8 pm, one of the greatest 60 minutes of sports takes place, as the St. Louis Blues host the Boston Bruins with the Stanley Cup on the line. It's must-watch TV if you're a sports fan.

The Blues have had an amazing, storybook run. They were in last place in the Western Conference with the second lowest point total in the entire league on December 26, 2018. And here they are, tonight, with a chance to win the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup.

Think about this series alone. They got shellacked in Game 1 in Boston, came back to win Game 2 in overtime, then got blown out, 7-2, at home in Game 3. Boston hasn't won a game since. The Blues won Game 4, then pulled off a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday night that sets the stage for tonight's potential title-clincher.

Interested in a ticket for tonight's game? You can get one. For about $2,000. That's what the secondary market is selling them for...and that's if you want a nosebleed seat. If you're looking to impress that special client or "someone" in your life, you'll need $3,000 or thereabouts -- per ticket -- to get in the building.

I really hope I'm wrong on this one, but I have a weird feeling the Bruins might win tonight and send the series back to Boston for Game 7. I do hope I'm wrong, though. St. Louis has been a great hockey town for a long time and they deserve a championship, particularly one that's captured in their own building.

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u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Can Adam Scott added a U.S. Open trophy to his Masters green jacket?

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7. Matt Kuchar is #6. Patrick Cantlay is #5.

At #4, it's Adam Scott.

Scott doesn't have a particularly strong record at Pebble Beach. He's only entered the February Pro-Am a handful of times in his 16 year career. But his game is ripe for a championship performance after a near-miss at The Memorial two weeks ago.

The Australian -- with one major title -- isn't the most accurate guy off the tee, but as we've been pointing out here regularly, that might not matter all that much this week at Pebble Beach. The length of the golf course isn't punishing enough to make a big difference. Would you prefer to hit it in the fairway every time? No doubt. But if you miss 3-4 fairways per-day, you can still make a bunch of birdies and post a score in red figures at day's end.

He's made 9 of 12 cuts this year, with a couple of runner-up finishes, including one on the West Coast back in late January at Torrey Pines.

Adam Scott is too good of a player to only win one major title in his career. At some point, he's getting back in the winner's circle. It could be this week at Pebble Beach.

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June 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

worth considering...

Has anyone in sports ever done something as well as Rafael Nadal plays the French Open at Roland Garros?

Nicklaus won at Augusta six times. That was a pretty good track record at The Masters, but hardly anything like what Nadal has done at the French Open. Rafa had made the men's final 11 times before 2019 and, yes, won all 11 of them.

He reached his 12th French Open final yesterday by demolishing Roger Federer in straight sets. It was like the varsity vs. the junior varsity. And Federer, you know, is pretty decent at tennis.

Nadal's not even sure who he'll be playing in the final on Sunday, but it's almost a foregone conclusion he'll be holding the trophy. That will give him 18 grand slam singles titles once he disposes of either Novak Djokovic or Dominic Thiem.

No one in the history of sports has dominated one venue or one event like Nadal has dominated the French Open. No one. Ever.

Rafael Nadal has won 92 of 94 matches contested on the clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris, France.

He's 92-2 at Roland Garros.

Not a typo. 94 matches played, 2 losses.

Federer - with 20 career grand slam singles titles -- has had a remarkable career, but if there's one blip, albeit a minor one, it's that he's never once defeated Nadal at Roland Garros. Roger's only French Open title came in 2009 when he beat Robin Soderling in the Final. Soderling, trivia experts will remember, eliminated Nadal in the fourth round in a major upset.

And despite Federer's remarkable two-decade run, it's also worth noting he's 15-24 head-to-head against Nadal, including an 0-6 mark against Rafa at Roland Garros.

But back we go to the question one more time.

Has anyone, man or woman, dominated one venue or one competition better than what Nadal has done at Roland Garros?

I don't think so.

Federer himself has won Wimbledon on eight occasions. That's really good and all. But it's not 92-2 on the clay at Roland Garros.

Tom Brady has six Super Bowl rings. That's awfully good. But he has three losses in that event, too, remember.

Brady is 6-3 in the Super Bowl. Nadal is 92-2 at Roland Garros and will likely have 12 titles in the event by Sunday afternoon.

Oddly, if only for perspective, it's worth realizing that Nadal has won just one Australian Open title (2009), which happened to be the year he lost to Soderling at Roland Garros when Federer captured his lone French Open title.

Nadal has two Wimbledon titles and three U.S. Open crowns. Those are great accomplishments in their own right, but pedestrian by comparison to what he's done at the French.

No one in sports has ever done what Nadal has done at Roland Garros.

At least that's how I see it.

If you have a challenger, throw it in the comments section and we're kick it back and forth.

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u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Fresh off of his win at The Memorial, Patrick Cantlay is a rising star on the PGA Tour.

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7. Matt Kuchar is #6.

And now...we enter the Top 5.

You'll recognize all five remaining names over the next few days, culminating with our predicted winner on Wednesday of next week.

Patrick Cantlay is #4

Granted, his win at Jack's tournament last weekend might tilt the odds against him since it's hard to win twice in three weeks, but Cantlay is slowly starting to emerge as one of the game's best relatively-unknown players.

He briefly held the lead on Sunday at the Masters after a birdie at the 15th hole, but wilted down the stretch with the green jacket in sight. But he sure didn't wilt last Sunday at The Memorial, where he punished Muirfield Village with a final round 64.

He's first on TOUR in scoring average at 69.1, 15th in driving distance (307 yards) and 39th in greens in regulation (68%). His one weakness, driving accuracy (58%, 163rd on TOUR), will be somewhat offset by the lack of overall length at Pebble Beach. He'll be able to vary what clubs he uses off the tees in some cases.

What Cantlay does well is this: He makes birdies. He's sixth on TOUR in birdies-per-round at 4.43. That's a nice way to start the day, knowing you're making at least four birdies in 18 holes. If he can duplicate those numbers at Pebble Beach, he'll most certainly have a chance to win.

No one on TOUR was surprised that Cantlay beat a quality, major'ish field at The Memorial last week. And no one will be surprised if he wins the U.S. Open next week, either.

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June 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

trey traded? say it ain't so

It's Friday. We need to keep this as simple as possible.

So let's play the old "True or False?" game, shall we?

Answer these 12, honestly. Or as honestly as you can. Beneath the "U.S. Open Top 10" you'll find my own answers. Not that you care. But go ahead and check out my answers anyway.

1. The Orioles will have a 5-game winning streak at some point this season. True or False?

2. By the 2021 NFL season, the league will be playing 18 regular season games.

3. Joe Flacco will throw for at least 3750 yards in 2019 with the Broncos. (Note: He's done it four times previously in his career.)

Aaron Judge and the Yankees will win the 2019 World Series. Or will they?

4. The U.S. Women's National Team will win the upcoming Women's World Cup.

5. Three pitchers (Verlander, German, Ryu) currently have 9 wins. All three of them will win at least 20 games.

6. Either Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods will finish within the Top Five of next week's U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

7. Maryland football will play in a bowl game in 2019 in Mike Locksley's first season as Terps head coach.

8. The Yankees will win the 2019 World Series.

9. The Cleveland Browns will win at least 10 games in 2019.

10. Trey Mancini will be traded by the Orioles this season.

11. At some point this season, Chris Davis' batting average will reach at least .200.

12. Lamar Jackson will not have at least one 3-interception game in 2019.

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u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Matt Kuchar a U.S. Open champion? Maybe. Pebble Beach seems like a great fit for him.

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8. Phil Mickelson is #7.

A year ago, the guy we have at #6 would have been a popular winner of the U.S. Open.

Now, I'm not so sure.

Matt Kuchar is #6.

The reality is this: Kuchar would be a deserving major champion. He's had an excellent career, topped off with several big wins including a PLAYERS title. This year, in particular, he's playing some of the best golf of his life.

But there's been drama. Lots of drama. And most of it has made Kuchar look unbecoming at best, devious at worst. There's no need to go through it all here and beat that dead horse more to death than it already is. Safe to say, though, there would be plenty of folks rooting against Kuchar down the stretch on Sunday at Pebble Beach.

His game, though, is a great fit for Pebble. And it feels like Kuchar is almost "due" to win a major, in the same way Tom Kite, Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger and Davis Love III were finally rewarded for a lifetime of solid play with a major title.

Matt Kuchar has a great chance to win next week. But there would definitely be more popular champions.

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drew's "true or false?" answers

OK, here we go with my answers.

1. False -- I mean, five games in a row isn't all that impossible, even for an awful team. You sweep someone in a 3-game series at home, then win the first two of the next series at home and, voila!, you have yourself a five-game winning streak. Who are we kidding? The Orioles aren't winning five games in a row this season. Ain't happenin'.

2. True -- This one's inevitable. The players are going to whine about playing two more games, of course, but the reality is it's happening, with the pre-season being reduced to two games. I could see a scenario where the schedule gets increased to 18 games and each player has to sit out two of the 18 at some point. But the NFL will be playing 18 games within the next three seasons.

3. True -- Some of this depends on health, obviously, but I'll say Flacco eclipses the 3750 yard mark for the Broncos. They free wheel it in the AFC West, which should bode well for Joe's offensive numbers. One thing for sure: We'll all be watching and following along.

Staying or going? #DMD says he's not going anywhere. At least not this season.

4. True -- Granted, I don't follow the Women's team nearly as closely as I follow the Men's team, but this edition of the U.S. Women's team looks too strong. I just can't see them losing a game that matters.

5. False -- One of those three will come up short, likely Verlander. I can see German winning 21 or 22 and Ryu for sure will win at least 21.

6. True -- It wouldn't surprise me to see both Tiger and Phil be within three or four shots of the lead heading into Sunday's final round. Ultimately, one of them will finish in the Top 5.

7. True -- I know. Seems impossible, right? They need six wins, do the Terps. Here's how they'll get them. Howard, Syracuse, Temple, Rutgers, Indiana and Minnesota. If they drop even one of those, though, they're in trouble. I don't see any other wins along the way. But 6-6 gets them to a bowl game, somehow.

8. True -- Sadly, I'm buying stock. Sure, they lost out on Dallas Keuchel, who went to the Braves on Thursday. But they'll get another arm or two at the deadline, you can count on that. And once their whole lineup gets healthy, forget about it. No one's beating them. Wish I had better news for you.

9. True -- More good news, huh? I hate to say it, but I see 10 wins for the Browns in 2019. Heck, they won 7 last year with a half-a-team and coulda, shoulda, woulda won three others if they had a real kicker. I'm not granting them an automatic Super Bowl berth or anything, but the Browns are going to be a tough out in 2019.

10. False -- Can't see the Orioles trading him. I get it, we're not trying to win this year. But shipping off Mancini at this point would be counterproductive, if you ask me. Is he going to be part of "winning" in 2022? Maybe. If they don't trade him, he very well could be.

11. False -- I know, this was a layup, right? He might get "hot" (for him) again this season and get up to .185 or .190, but I just can't see him ever getting to .200. The good news for Davis? It doesn't matter what he hits. He still gets $23 million.

12. False -- I realize they won't throw the ball a whole lot in 2019, but they'll throw it enough that Lamar will have at least one stinker where he throws three interceptions in the same game.

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June 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

thursday musings

The Toronto Raptors are now up 2-1 in the NBA Finals after smashing Golden State last night, 123-109.

Now, let's be fair. The host Warriors were without Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, as well as Durant's replacement throughout the playoffs, Kevon Looney. Injuries are part of sports, of course, but there's no way Golden State is winning without Thompson AND Durant.

The Toronto victory overshadowed a virtuoso performance from Steph Curry, who poured in 47 points in 43 minutes of action. That kid is something else.

Here's the funniest part of the whole story. If not for Toronto falling asleep in the first 3 minutes of the second half of Game 2, where the Warriors put together an epic 18-0 run to erase a 7-point halftime deficit, this series would be 3-0 in favor of the Raptors and O-V-E-R. As it stands now, the Warriors are likely getting both Thompson and Durant back for Game 4. If they can win there and win Game 5 (also at home), suddenly they're up 3-2 heading back to Toronto for the final two games.

I'm not much on the NBA these days, but this Finals has the makings of an epic finish if Golden State can get their two star players back for Game 4.

The Orioles lost again last night, falling 2-1 in 12 innings to the Texas Rangers. Here's where I should note: But the team treats me great whenever I go out to the stadium, so it doesn't bother me all that much.

Heading back to the dugout...again.

I'm kidding. Not about the team treating me great. They do. I'm just having fun with the idea that because I get treated great at the ballpark, the winning and losing doesn't bother me.

As Martina Navratilova famously said: "Show me someone that doesn't mind losing and I'll show you...a loser."

Anyway, back to Arlington, Texas: One night after scoring 12 runs, the O's, predictably, managed only one run. And that came from the unlikeliest of sources, as soft-swinging Richie Martin homered in the top of the 9th with one out to tie the game at 1-1.

Other than that homer, it was an exercise in futility at the plate for the O's, although they did load the bases with one out in the 5th only to see Dwight Smith Jr. and Chance Sisco fail to deliver a key hit.

Chris Davis didn't start, but was forced into duty because the Orioles suffered three in-game injuries on Wednesday night. Pedro Severino (head contusion), Jonathan Villar (thumb) and D.J. Stewart (ankle) were forced out of the game, which meant Davis had to eventually be used. I guess MASN's Sara Perlman didn't have a uniform available to her.

Davis struck out in the 9th inning (swinging) and then whiffed (looking) again in the 11th. Don't look now, but he's started another noteworthy streak. Davis is now 0-for-his-last 16 and his average has dipped to .162 on the season.

Meanwhile, the Birds got another decent outing from John Means, who has been the team's best pitcher -- by far -- in 2019. Means went six innings, allowed just four hits and one run, and lowered his ERA to 2.67 on the season.

The U.S. Men's soccer team looked pretty dismal in last night's 1-0 loss to Jamaica. The game was a tune-up for the Gold Cup, which starts later this month.

Granted, the U.S. side was without their best player, Christian Pulisic, but last night's performance down in Washington D.C. looked more like a couple of really good Division I schools playing a summer game. Jamaica wasn't a whole lot better, mind you.

The Gold Cup is an important lead in for the U.S., who begin pre-qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in less than one year. The tournament includes teams from North and South America, with the U.S. playing in a group that includes Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago aqnd Panama. You might remember it was Trinidad & Tobago who ended the United States' World Cup 2018 dreams when they beat them in the final qualifying match in December of 2017.

That loss sparked a massive overhaul in American soccer at the top level. Gregg Berhalter was hired as the team's new coach and the player pool was tilted in favor of young 20-somethings with little national team experience. It would be a significant blow to U.S. soccer if the 2022 World Cup comes and goes without representation from the Americans.

The Gold Cup will tell us a lot about the progress of the program and, more importantly, their chances of making the field of 32 in the 2022 event in Qatar.

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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.

it's time for some sports radio

Let’s go to Joe in Denver. Joe, what’s on your mind?

“Listen, man. I’m trying to go out there and play the best football of my life. I’m not worried about developing guys or any of that. My job is to go win games for this football team.”

Thanks for your thoughts, Joe. Appreciate the call. We’re up against a break, but I do have something quick…

The Joe Flacco thing fascinates me right now, even though he’s playing 2,000 miles away and we’re not supposed to care about the travails of the Denver Broncos. I suppose part of it comes from hearing him answer questions in the “I can’t believe you asked me that question” way that he answers them, only in response to an entirely new group of people.

Most of it, I think, comes from the fact that this is something that Ravens’ fans have never experienced before.

Flacco was the starting quarterback here for 11 years, nearly half the team’s history. He didn’t lose his job in the conventional way, if there is such a thing. The team simply gave up on him. He was perfectly fine by mid-December last year, but he never saw the field again.

Before Joe Flacco, nobody could care less if the Ravens’ quarterback was playing for somebody else the next year. After Flacco led the Ravens to the Super Bowl and signed the big contract, most of us assumed that he’d be here forever. Maybe some of us wrongly assumed he’d play at that 2012 playoff level again, but even if he didn’t, he was going to be the guy until it was obvious he wasn’t.

Flacco is 34, two years younger than Peyton Manning was when he left the Colts and went to Denver. He’s got time left, probably enough time for the world to figure out whether the Ravens made the right choice by going to their 2018 first-round draft pick instead. That’s pretty interesting, I’d say.

One last tip of the cap before heading off to Arizona to continue his career.

Looks like we have Adam on the line. He’s in Phoenix. How’s it going, Adam?

“The thing is, I can still ball. If you can play, you can play. And I can still play. I’m just going out there every day and doing it. That’s what I’ve done for 12 years now.”

Love it, Adam. Always appreciate an opinionated caller that can back up his ideas. Thanks for hanging up and listening…

Nobody said that Adam Jones couldn’t play anymore, though I get the attitude. It’s not a bad attitude, because Adam Jones doesn’t have that. It’s the stuff that goes through your proud mind when you spend your last year in Baltimore with one of the worst teams of all time and then it takes forever for someone else to sign you.

Jones, who’ll be 34 on August 1, has played in all but three of the Diamondbacks’ 62 games this season. His current OPS of .828, if it was for a full season, would come close to matching his best season in that category, 2012, when he had 32 home runs and 39 doubles in helping lead the Orioles to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

The Diamondbacks, who signed Jones for one year at the super-low price of $3 million, are a middling unit. They have the bad fortune of playing in the National League West, home of a powerful Dodgers team that could easily make it to the World Series for the third consecutive season. As for the Wild Card, it’s way too early to eliminate Arizona, or almost any other NL team besides the Marlins and maybe the Giants.

Since the Orioles picked first in the 2019 MLB amateur draft, it’s worth noting that Jones also was a first-round pick, back in 2003 by the Mariners. The Orioles picked No. 7 in that year’s draft and chose Nick Markakis. By Wins Above Replacement, Markakis and Jones are by far the most successful players to be chosen in the first round of that draft, and they played together in the outfield in Baltimore for seven seasons.

Lamar’s calling in. He’s on business right now in Baltimore. Lamar?

“Coming in, I didn’t know we would have a totally different offense. When I got here, that’s when I found out. It’s been getting to me a little bit.”

Sorry, Lamar. You were breaking up a little bit. Say that again. Lamar? Oh, looks we lost him. Sorry about that…

I really wonder what Lamar Jackson meant by this.

I assume he was aware that Marty Mornhinweg is long gone from The Castle and Greg Roman is now the Ravens’ offensive coordinator?

I assume that there was some communication between the team and Jackson since January? I mean, I know the NFL has some strict offseason rules, but I didn’t think they were that strict.

What I wonder is if Jackson thought that the somewhat-condensed playbook he had as an emergency starter in 2018 would be similar to what would await him as the full-time starter in 2019.

Jackson proved a lot in his eight starts for the Ravens last season. He is physically capable of playing in the NFL; in fact, he has speed and other skills that rank near the top of the league. He made plenty of good decisions, whether in the running game or the passing game. He’s a difficult matchup to defend, even with all the video evidence opponents now have. He plays bigger, and with more physicality, than his size suggests.

What he’s yet to prove is that he can play the quarterback position in the NFL in a way that provides sustained success. That’s not his fault, of course. Eight games aren’t enough for that.

The “new offense” that Jackson is talking about, whatever it is, is the next step in that process. Jackson is now the quarterback of the Ravens, and that comes with a responsibility that’s different than it was even when he was in the spotlight in 2018.

There aren’t any more “packages” for Lamar Jackson. With the exception of Willie Snead, there’s yet another new receiving corps in town. Jackson had a serious fumbling problem in his first year, the quantity of which could be disastrous over a 16-game season.

So, I hope there aren’t too many more surprises for Lamar Jackson as the Ravens head into training camp this summer. That first one was enough for all of us.

Brooks is checking in from South Florida. Brooks, you’re on the air…

Brooks Koepka could be the first person since Willie Anderson in 1905 to win three U.S. Open championships in a row.

“I’m lucky that I’m physically gifted a lot more than other people and I’m a lot stronger than other people, mentally and physically.”

Wow. Really direct. Some callers just have a lot of confidence. You still there? An interesting voice on him, not one I’ve heard before.

Here’s a good name for the whole conversation about Brooks Koepka. It’s a television commentator, but not the one you think when it comes to the 2019 PGA champion.

Curtis Strange. He’ll actually be on the FOX broadcast of the next major, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, as Koepka looks to become the first player since Willie Anderson in 1905 to win the tournament in three consecutive years.

Strange, of course, was the last player before Koepka to win the U.S. Open in consecutive years, in 1988 at The Country Club near Boston and in 1989 at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y.

That 1989 U.S. Open title was Strange’s last tournament victory. He was only 34 years old. He finished with 17 PGA Tour wins in a span of 10 years and led the money list three times in the 1980s, enough to get elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Certainly Koepka and Strange aren’t similar in playing style; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone pound the ball into submission quite like Koepka does, even among today’s bombers. Each of them has a deeply competitive nature, but so do plenty of other guys in the field.

Koepka, of course, has already surpassed Strange in one way: he’s got four majors. Plus, he’s now the only player to have held the title in consecutive years in two professional majors at the same time. That might be Hall of Fame-worthy right there.

At this point, one might ask where exactly Koepka is heading. Is it toward Strange, he of 17 wins? Or is it to Hogan and Player and Woods and Nicklaus, each with nine or more majors. Considering that four of his six wins so far have been majors, maybe the answer is both.


u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

He's won five times in his career at Pebble Beach. Could any course be more fitting for Phil's pursuit of that first U.S. Open trophy?

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9. Webb Simpson is #8.

If there are two sentimental favorites at Pebble Beach next week, we all know who they are. Tiger Woods is one. And Phil Mickelson is the other. And here's the thing. They both have very realistic chances of winning the golf tournament.

Phil Mickelson is #7 on our list.

This could be it for Mickelson. Meaning, of course, this could be his last great shot at completing the career grand slam. There's probably no other course more fitting for a Mickelson U.S. Open win than Pebble Beach, where he has won 5 times in his career, including this past February.

But the U.S. Open has long been Phil's nemesis. He's been close. A number of times, in fact. And with any luck at all -- and some smart play a time or two -- he'd have three or four U.S. Open crowns. Alas, he still needs to win the U.S. Open to complete the grand slam.

This could be the year.

Mickelson's form heading into a tournament has never really been much of an indicator of how he's going to do in that given week. It's always about the course, the set-up and Mickelson's ability to drive the ball in play.

"Fast and firm" hasn't always been friendly to Phil. Soft and slow has been more helpful to him over the years. If Pebble Beach gets some rain next week, that could help Mickelson's cause dramatically.

But no matter what, "Lefty" has a chance to win next week. He really does.

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June 5
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hey, we won didn't we?

OK, raise your hand if you went to bed once the Orioles made it 11-3 in the 7th inning last night.

Of course you did. That one was in the bag, right?

Final from Arlington: Orioles 12 - Rangers 11.

Yep, 12-11.

It was, in a word, hilarious.

Granted, it's more "hilarious" when the team wins 12-11 instead of losing 13-12 like the Orioles looked like they were going to do. The Rangers scored six runs in the bottom of the 9th and nearly tied the game except Pedro Severino threw a bullet to first base on a dropped third strike to end the wild affair.

Once Mychal Givens came in, I assumed the worst.

For once...the baseball gods didn't torture Mychal Givens on Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas.

And why not, right? I mean, Givens has been victimized so much recently NBC Dateline was going to make him the focus of an upcoming special. When Givens comes in, bad things happen.

Except on this Monday night in Arlington, the baseball gods smiled down on the O's right hander.

But it sure was wild there for 20 minutes in the 9th, as Texas rallied from a 12-5 deficit to narrow the margin to 12-11, with runners all over the place and a crushing loss all but imminent for Brandon Hyde's team. Then again, how "crushing" can this loss be when you're cruising along at 18-41 and in last place?

Because most of you raised your hand and were sawing logs by the time the 9th inning fireworks started, here's how it went.

Oh, and before we start that, you should know Dwight Smith Jr. had six RBI on Monday evening and Pedro Severino clocked three home runs in the win. At least a couple of guys did their jobs, right?

Back to the 9th...

Birds ahead, 12-5. "This one's over..." I said to no one in particular as I had a late coffee and watched the final three outs.

Elvis Andrus led off and got on base via a Richie Martin throwing error.

"No biggie," I said. "Double play coming up."

Josh Lucas (yeah, I know, you've never heard of him) then walked the next two batters to load the bases with no one out.

"Oh boy," I whispered. "I mean, it's a six run lead. I think we're still OK. But yikes..."

In came lefty Richard Bleier. He used to be reliable. Not so much any longer.

Asdrubal immediately doubled in two runs. It was now 12-7.

"OK, they were always going to get a couple of runs once they loaded the bases. We're fine, now," I said. Honestly? I didn't believe it.

Bleier than allowed a run scoring single off the bat of Rougned Odor. That made it 12-8.

Logan Forsythe then pinch-hit for Texas and he roped a double that plated two more runs. It was 12-10. In case you aren't following along all that closely, there are still ZERO outs in the inning.

"Get this bum out of there!" I yelled at the TV as they panned in on a frightened Richard Bleier.

Finally, an out was recorded. But moments later, Forsythe scored on an infield single and it was 12-11.

With a runner on, the winning run was now at the plate.

"Please get this hack out of there and bring in someone to get two outs," I pleaded.

The MASN cameras showed Givens warming up.

"Oh no," I said. "Oh no..."

And in came Givens.

Twitter was breaking into an all-out panic attack at this point.

I'd post some of the more funny and hilarious tweets here, but this is a site young children occasionally visit, so I can't post them.

But they were funny, no matter how profane.

Me? I settled in to watch how Givens was going to blow this one. Even though it really wouldn't have been his fault, per se, Givens would be the guy who was out there on the mound when a member of the Rangers hit a two run homer to win the game 13-12 in improbable fashion.

It never happened.

Givens produced two strike outs, including the aforementioned final out of the game where Elvis Andrus whiffed but the ball got away from Pedro Severino. Severino delivered a perfect strike to Chris Davis to just nip Andrus at the bag.

Ballgame! Theeeee Orioles win...theeeeeee Orrriiioooollllessss win! Or something like that.

For just a second, a weird tinge of disappointment fell over me as I reached for the remote.

"'s not often you see a team rally from 12-5 down in the 9th to win. That would have been kind of cool," I said as I went upstairs.

But not on this night. Not with Mychal Givens out there shutting the door. The O's are 1-0 in the Adley Rutschman era, folks. Let the good times roll.


u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Could Webb Simpson add another U.S. Open trophy to his collection next week at Pebble Beach?

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd. Chez Reavie is #9.

This one is a little off the radar screen, but still a familiar name -- and a major champion. His track record at Pebble Beach isn't all that great, but don't let that disqualify him from your "He could win" list.

#8 is Webb Simpson.

He didn't play this past February's AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am, but that was mainly -- he says -- because of the long, 6-hour rounds most groups endure on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. While it does seem odd that any and all players wouldn't take advantage of a "sneak peek" at Pebble Beach four months before a major, the reality is that the golf course will be set up much differently this week than it was in February.

Webb Simpson can win there.

Simpson's one major championship victory, the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club, came on the west coast (San Francisco) and came on a similar layout, length-wise, to Pebble Beach. That probably doesn't mean much, but it doesn't hurt, either.

So...his most glaring weakness, driving distance, shouldn't be much of a factor at Pebble Beach next week. The golf course is as long right now as it is at any other point. They're not adding 200-300 yards by building new tees or anything like that.

But what he does well might definitely aid him next week. He's 18th on TOUR in greens in regulation (69%) and Simpson's 8th in scoring average at 69.7 per-round. Those are both great numbers for a U.S. Open kind of guy.

Simpson has enjoyed a solid 2018-2019 to date. He's missed just ONE cut in 13 starts with three top tens and eight top 25's. He finished T5 at the Masters and then got swallowed up by the mammoth Bethpage Black course at the PGA, finishing T29 (+5). Still, just the fact that Simpson made the cut at the PGA shows you something about his ability to get the ball in the fairway and make some putts, even on 7500 yard layouts.

Pebble Beach could be a perfect venue for Webb Simpson next week.

At 66-1, you'd get yourself a nice payout on Simpson if he comes through.


June 4
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ok kid, no pressure now

The Orioles have never really had one of these "save the franchise" opportunities, so there's no past history to reflect upon.

But we can say this, for certain: "Adley Rutschman, you better be the real deal!"

No pressure, kid. Just come in and save the franchise, please. And don't take too long to do it, either.

The Orioles made the Oregon State catcher the first pick in last night's Major League Baseball Draft, ending any speculation they might pass on the coveted prospect and go with high school shortstop Bobby Witt, Jr.

In picking Rutschman, general manager Mike Elias shunned rumors and "industry reports" of a shoulder injury for Rutschman, who will likely get a cup of coffee with the Aberdeen Ironbirds later this summer to kick off his professional career. Ironbirds players typically make somewhere around $800 per-month. Rutschman won't have to worry about that. He'll likely draw somewhere around an $8 million bonus from the Birds upon signing his new deal.

Elias hinted last night that Rutschman will not spend his major league career behind the plate. "His bat is too good," Elias explained. "We don't see him catching his entire career."

Smart move. Rutschman's most favorable major comparison is Giants' catcher Buster Posey, and while Posey has been one of the game's top performers behind the plate throughout his career, there's little doubt his longevity has been shortened because of the wear and tear he's endured. Get Rutschman a first baseman's glove and turn him loose in, say, 2022 or so.

This is a major moment in Orioles' history. Scouts and analysts say he's the best major league prospect since Bryce Harper. And the guy doing the building in Baltimore knows a thing or two about turning prospects into gold on the field. Elias can only hope Rutschman does the same thing in Baltimore that guys like Correa, Altuve and Springer were able to do in Houston.

It's a lot of heat to put on one kid, but it comes with the territory of being the #1 selection in the entire draft. Matt Wieters had similar expectations, I suppose, but his pedigree and baseball DNA didn't match what Rutschman's bringing to Baltimore. Wieters was a terrific college player who was thought to be a very solid major prospect. Rutschman is "can't miss".

If Elias and the O's scouts are right, the slow, uphill climb to a World Series champion officially kicked off last night at 7:12 pm when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the Rutschman selection. There will be other players selected, both this year and next, who will also contribute to the foundation, but make no mistake about it...the ringleader will be Rutschman. It's his team.

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baltimore's most underrated sports figure

We had the soft-opening for this topic over the weekend and several of you threw out names of underrated sports figures in Baltimore's sports history.

So we're diving in today with the official "kick off event" and asking you to post additional candidates so we can begin publishing poll questions and voting on potential candidates.

Who is Baltimore's most underrated sports figure ever? And by "sports figure", we're talking players, coaches, media members, and so on. Anyone connected with Baltimore sports, professional or college, is eligible.

Loyola's Charley Toomey has long been an underrated Baltimore coach.

On Saturday, I threw out Dennis Pitta as a player that I thought was vastly underrated for what he did for the Ravens.

Today, I'm adding another name to the candidate list: Charley Toomey, the head men's lacrosse coach at Loyola University. Toomey not only competes in-state for players with legendary lacrosse programs like Johns Hopkins and Maryland, he also has a growing program to deal with just up the street at Towson University. And let's not mention how many local high school players get whisked away every fall to the likes of North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse, Virginia and so on.

Toomey has an extraordinarily difficult job at Loyola. But year after year, he's in the hunt for a berth in the NCAA tournament. Oh, and let's not forget, the Greyhounds won the national title in 2012. Yes, the national title.

And I don't think Toomey's ever received the recognition he's deserved. Yes, the 'Hounds play in the relatively soft Patriot League. That's a fact. But Loyola also plays a punishing non-conference schedule as well. This past year, the best college lacrosse player in the country -- Pat Spencer -- played for Toomey and the Greyhounds.

Names that have been entered thus far in our quest to identify Baltimore's all-time most underrated sports figure include Tom Matte (Colts), Nick Markakis (Orioles), Pernell McPhee (Ravens), Terry Ford (sports radio), Dennis Pitta (Ravens), Matt Stover (Ravens) and, now, Charley Toomey (lacrosse).

Your thoughts are welcome in the comments section below.


u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Chez Reavie has historically played well at Pebble Beach, a fact that could help him secure his first major championship next week.

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day got us started at #10 on June 3rd.

There will be some obvious names in our Top 10 and one or two that might be surprising. #9 is one of those "surprises" -- Chez Reavie.

Chez who?

Chez Reavie is a 37 year old journeyman of sorts, but he's a journeyman who can play. And he plays Pebble Beach well, too.

Oh, and he's having a very good 2018-2019 season as well. He's made the cut in 15 of 19 events entered, with three Top 10's and 6 Top 25's. He doesn't have a win -- yet -- but his golf game is tailor made for Pebble Beach, where he's played very well in the past.

While Reavie doesn't hit it very far off the tee (286 yards on average, in the bottom third of TOUR players), he's 2nd on on the circuit in a more important stat for the U.S. Open -- greens in regulation. Reavie hits 74% of the greens in regulation, which should definitely come in handy next week at Pebble.

And he does everything else well, too. He's a good putter, has a solid short game, and doesn't make many round-changing mistakes. He's a very solid, underrated player.

He's currently listed at 250-1 for the U.S. Open. That's how much odds-makers don't know about him.

But we know about him here at #DMD. And we're thinking he has a chance to play well at Pebble Beach.

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June 3
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old tiger vs. new tiger

He was never going to catch the leaders on Sunday, but for about 13 holes yesterday, Tiger Woods was doing something pretty special.

Woods reeled off 7 birdies in his first 12 holes to shoot from 4-under par to 11-under par and in 4th place at The Memorial. Like I said, there was no way he was going to win -- he started the day 11 shots behind the leader -- but seeing Woods roll in putts from various distances and watching him dial in his iron shots was a trip down memory lane.

Alas, the final round magic wore off and Woods bogeyed two holes coming in for a ho-hom 67 and a T9 finish, much better than the missed cut he suffered at the PGA Championship three weeks ago.

As I watched bits and pieces of the final round yesterday, it dawned on me at several points throughout the afternoon that we're in the midst of a "new Tiger" era. I can't imagine this particular segment of his career will come anywhere close to matching the quality of golf we saw from "old Tiger" -- circa 2002 -- but in some ways the 2019 version of Tiger Woods is far more appealing overall.

"Old Tiger" never seemed to connect all that much with his playing partners. In those days, Woods has a singular focus on the golf course. To beat the stuffing out of anyone and everyone he came up against. And, as you'll recall, he did that almost every time he teed it up.

Tiger greets fans at this year's Masters tournament.

"New Tiger" is much different, for whatever reason. The 17th green moment from the Players Championship back in March where he playfully walked in a short putt to mimic his playing partner, Kevin Na, was one of those moments where we're seeing a different Woods on the course. Yesterday at The Memorial, while his playing partner Keith Mitchell stumbled to a final round 76, Woods spent several holes walking along and chatting with him, at one point giving him a playful fist bump after Mitchell made a lengthy putt.

"Old Tiger" never seemed comfortable discussing his less than stellar golf. His mood after any sub-standard (to him) round was often surly and acerbic. Some would say that's why he was so great in the first place. He didn't accept failure very well. But those post-round "moods" were off putting to many.

"New Tiger" gets it, now. He's 42, not 22. There are days and tournaments -- ones he used to own, pretty much -- where even his best on that day isn't quite good enough. And now, as he basically just tries to rally his game for the four major tournaments each year, he's come to the realization that he's still a great player, but the great moments might be a bit more few and far between. Even after his missed cut at The PGA at Bethpage, Woods stood in front of the mics and reasoned, comfortably, with the gathered throng for seven minutes. "I just didn't play well enough," he said. Right on, Tiger.

"Old Tiger" tore the par 5 holes apart. That was really one of the biggest reasons and ways he won 79 tournaments prior to 2015. If Tiger played a course with four par 5's, he was essentially 10 under par before the tournament started. Now, all he had to do was play the other 56 holes in eight under or thereabouts and he was a winner. His length and short game combination was just too much for anyone else to overcome.

"New Tiger" no longer shreds the par 5's. If there's one part of his game that has clearly diminished over the last few years, it's his work on the par 5 holes. Most of that, to me, comes down to his putting, but even Tiger's wedge game -- from 80 yards and in -- isn't quite up to the level of his play in the mid 2000's. This past weekend at Muirfield Village, for example, Tiger finished the tournament at 9-under par. He played the par 5 holes in 9-under par as well. But he suffered a double bogey on Friday on one of the par 5's and hit the green in two shots on three occasions, only to finish up with two putt birdies. Tiger from 2002 would have made one eagle, if not two.

"Old Tiger" was hit or miss when it came to putting the ball in the fairway. But he hit it so far off the tee that even a 130 yard wedge shot out of the rough could easily be navigated.

"New Tiger" is driving the ball better than he ever has. His fairway wood play off the tee was borderline spectacular on Saturday and Sunday at The Memorial. He still hits some quacky shots with the driver on occasion, but all in all, he's better at driving the ball now than he ever was, even during his heyday.

"Old Tiger" didn't engage with the crowds much. Sure, he welcomed their applause and fandom and flashed that big smile and fist pump when appropriate, but when it came down to actually "engaging" with the folks outside the ropes, Tiger didn't do much of it. "I'm too busy winning," you would have expected him to say.

"New Tiger" seems far more willing to get in there among the masses and connect with people. Twice on Sunday, that I saw, Woods flipped a golf ball to a young fan as he walked off the green. TV cameras showed Woods stopping and signing a couple of autographs prior to his round, a moment that seemed almost impossible a decade ago. Afterwards yesterday, he again signed for a group of kids as he neared the parking lot.

"Old Tiger" was a great player, no doubt. "New Tiger" is as well. "Old Tiger" was easy to dislike. "New Tiger" actually seems easy to like.

I'll take "New Tiger", thank you very much.

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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: Camden Yards


I was recently at the eye doctor in Columbia. At this point, they’re not getting any better, though my brother works in the office, so it’s comfortable getting checked by someone familiar.

I also was recently at a dockside bar in Pasadena, drinking orange crushes, eating steamed shrimp and trying not to listen to the unfortunate live music.

Geddy Lee of Rush was on hand in Baltimore back in sing the Canadian National Anthem at The All-Star Game.

What do these settings have in common with each other? Only one thing. In each place, directly in front of where I happened to be sitting, there was a poster commemorating the 1993 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Camden Yards.

Ok, so maybe the Medical Eye Center and Mike’s Crab House ought to get some new wall decorations. Even so, it’s a night worth remembering, even all these years later.

You recall the game, no doubt. The beautiful new stadium, built to look like an old ballpark, got the national All-Star audience in just its second year of existence. The stacked American League team won 9-3; the AL starting lineup featured future Hall-of-Famers in seven of the nine spots in the batting order.

As the game ended, Mike Mussina threw in the bullpen, but AL manager Cito Gaston never put him in the game. Apparently Mussina warmed up on his own just to get some work in, but the hometown fans didn’t know that. It wasn’t long before t-shirts appeared everywhere in town – “Cito Sucks. Kill the Blow Jays.”

Here’s something I never knew. “O Canada” was performed by the great Geddy Lee, lead singer of Rush. Later in the year, Lee’s beloved Blow (er, Blue) Jays won the World Series for the second year in a row thanks to Joe Carter’s home run.

What a moment in the history of baseball in Baltimore, and not just because somebody from Rush was there. Maybe the end of the game was strange, but the rest of the day was downright orgasmic for both an organization and a city.

Frankly, there have been precious few great moments for the Orioles in Camden Yards, even after 27 years. Think about how many great times there have been for the Yankees, and eventually the Red Sox, in enemy territory.

Ok, so the place hasn’t always sounded like enemy territory to those teams. After almost 30 years, that’s still the most annoying thing about Camden Yards.

Back on July 13, 1993, it seemed like that kind of atmosphere would never come to the stadium. The All-Star Game was an awesome night, and 26 years later we’re still waiting for another one.


Here’s what’s cool about Camden Yards…and it comes from a combination of how it was built in the first place and how we take care of buildings now compared to how we used to do it.

The stadium is just as great as it was on Opening Day 1992, during the 1993 All-Star Game or the 1996 and 1997 playoffs.

HOK Sport (now Populous), who designed the park along with the Maryland Stadium Authority, built it to last. The concourses are really wide, there are so many ways to enter and exit the stadium, and the city skyline will never be a bad backdrop no matter how much it changes.

Plus, we just spend more money these days making sure that places like baseball stadiums keep up with the times. There will be a time in some distant future, probably, when Oriole Park will be replaced, but it won’t be because the stadium will have fallen into some kind of disrepair.

All of which makes you wonder…when exactly will the All-Star Game return to the stadium?

We’ve all heard various reasons why the game hasn’t been scheduled for a return to Camden Yards. Some of them have to do with the Angelos family, in one way or another, including the entirety of the MASN situation between the Orioles, Nationals and MLB.

Nationals Park, opened in 2008, hosted the game for the first time in 2018.

This year’s game will be played in Cleveland, at what’s now called Progressive Field. What was then called Jacobs Field hosted the game in 1997, four years after Camden Yards, and is getting the game again before Baltimore does.

Otherwise, there have been no other stadiums to host the game twice since that 1993 game. The stadiums in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia each hosted for the second time in 1994 and 1996, respectively, but those places have long since been demolished now. Fenway Park hosted for the third time in 1999, and the original Yankee Stadium had the honor in 2008, its last year. The current stadiums in both Anaheim and Kansas City have each hosted multiple times. Next year Dodger Stadium will play host to the game, amazingly, for the first time since 1980.

It’s time for the game to return here, no matter what the world or the locals think of Downtown Baltimore or how the team is going about its rebuilding. Camden Yards would be just as cool for the All-Star Game in 2023 as it was in 1993.


What is the next generation of stadiums and arenas, I wonder? I’m talking about that distant future, not the “neomodern” Marlins Park, whatever that means exactly.

Maybe it’s a silly thing to think about, considering everything will one day happen in virtual reality, not actual reality, and e-sports will become many times more popular than even the most popular spectator sports of today.

In 2019, you can sit in front of your 70-inch television and have an enjoyable experience watching the Ravens. In 2069, you’ll just instantly place yourself in whatever situation you’d like to be, and an NFL football game will seem like it was played by the cavemen, I suppose.

Anyway, back on solid ground, if you haven’t seen the stadium in Miami, it’s exactly the opposite of every “retro” park every built since the early 1990s. If those places were built to look like baseball parks of the past, then Marlins Park was built to look nothing like a baseball park at all. It’s basically an example of abstract contemporary art, and has a second use as a baseball stadium.

Besides the question of whether that stadium should ever have been built at all, it seems like almost a “one-off” as far as architecture goes. The place was supposed to be “quintessentially Miami,” but how many other American cities can really say they have a “quintessential” kind of architecture?

Recently, I actually found myself wondering where the next baseball stadium in Baltimore might be built. Memorial Stadium, of course, wasn’t really a baseball park at all---the original Municipal Stadium from 1922 was certainly meant for football. It was built where it was precisely because the land there was still relatively undeveloped. Over time, of course, the area became quite developed, and it wasn’t long before the stadium was very out of place in the crowded residential area that it occupied.

When the Orioles and the city built the new stadium downtown, it was honestly a bit of a gamble. The area was several blocks away from the harbor, and the new park would be depended upon to create an atmosphere, not to take its atmosphere from the neighborhood.

So where is the next spot, exactly? It’s hard to say, since I’m not exactly sure what city planners will be doing in 50 years, or even if city planning will exist as a profession. Will the stadium be built in a suburb, or exurb, because that’s the only place that makes sense? We’ll never know...


u.s. open top ten

They're headed to Pebble Beach on June 13-16 for the U.S. Open.

One of the country's most recognizable and storied layouts gets yet another national golf championship. The last time it was played there (2010), Graeme McDowell was the winner. Tiger Woods (2000) won there as well. So, too, did Tom Kite (1992) once upon time.

The golf course is familiar to most everyone in the field, as the PGA Tour plays an annual event at Pebble Beach in early February. But that tournament also includes other courses (Cypress Point and Spyglass Hill) besides Pebble Beach. The U.S. Open will be contested only at Pebble.

Looking for his second major Jason Day.

It's important to look back at who has played well at Pebble Beach specifically when trying to come up with a list of players who could win this year's U.S. Open. Some players play well at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am each year, but some of their best play comes at the other courses in the rotation.

On we go to our projected leaderboard for the 2019 U.S. Open.

Jason Day is #10.

While Day has never won at Pebble Beach, he has played well there over the years, including a T4 at this past February's event. And he has twice won at Torrey Pines, so good golf on the west coast isn't uncommon to the former world #1.

Day has one major championship -- a PGA -- to his credit. It seems he's simply too good to not be a multiple-major winner.

This could be the year.

He's finished in the Top 25 in nine of the ten events he's made the cut in, with a T5 at the Masters in April. Most of his numbers are really good, except for driving accuracy, but the lack of length at Pebble Beach should offset any issues he has with finding the fairway. He, like many players, will hit irons and fairway woods off of several tees at Pebble.

Right now, Day is 25-1 at Pebble Beach. Gobble him up at 25-1, friends.

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June 2
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now they really have the blues

Folks in St. Louis haven't seen a Stanley Cup Finals game in their city since 1970, so they were predictably amped up for last night's Game 3 between the Blues and Boston Bruins.

And.......Boston jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and throttled St. Louis, 7-2, to take a 2-1 series lead.

I don't have the data in front of me, but that seems like it happens a lot in sports. "Team A" takes forever to reach the championship series or round, finally does it, then gets blown out in their first home game. It happened to the Caps back in 1998 when they finally reached the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to Detroit in four straight games, including losses in D.C. in games 3 and 4.

The St. Louis fans were in a complete tizzy to start the night. I thought the roof might blow off of the arena. But the Bruins quickly diffused them and cruised to the victory.

I don't think St. Louis is out of it yet, but Game 4 is a virtual "must win" for them on Monday night.

The much-discussed newest professional sports league in the U.S. kicked-off yesterday, with the Premier Lacrosse League taking their traveling circuit to Foxborough's Gillette Stadium for opening weekend.

Paul Rabil's Premier Lacrosse League kicked off on Saturday with two exciting games but low attendance at Gillette Stadium.

The lacrosse seemed pretty decent. In fact, both games went to overtime. Ex-Calvert Hall star Stephen Kelly scored the league's first-ever goal 12 seconds into the game. But there was no one in the stadium to watch it. NO. ONE.

I've searched long and hard for the "official attendance" from Saturday's event, but can't find it anywhere. Here's what I'm guessing it was: 400.

And "400" might be generous.

Oh, and Foxborough has a history of drawing well for men's college lacrosse, with 48,970 attending the Division I championship game back in 2008.

But no one was there yesterday for the inaugural two games in PLL history.

I have no idea if league creator Paul Rabil is worried about the attendance numbers -- or not. He has a gazillion bucks of venture capital money behind his start-up league and NBC Sports is putting every game on one of their TV or video platforms, so exposure and promotion aren't lacking.

But it's hard to take a league seriously when 400 people show up. Then again, perhaps this is what you're going to get when your league teams don't have a "city" attached to their name. Instead, they just pack up the teams (Archers, Atlas, Chrome, Chaos, Redwoods, Whipsnakes) and move them from town to town throughout the summer.

Let's see if more folks get out there for today's game in Foxborough.

The Orioles lost again, falling to the Giants on Saturday, 8-2. I can't imagine you're surprised. Or, perhaps you're no longer even following along on a daily basis. That's what you have us for, I suppose.

The only bright spot was another home run by Renato Nunez, his 15th of the season and 8th in the last 12 games. I can't imagine he's making himself into a valuable trade commodity, but if, somehow, he has 25 home runs by mid-July, some team in need of a right handed power bat might give up a mid-range prospect for him at the trade deadline. Remember: Joey Bautista took a while to turn into a home run hitting machine.

On the mound, David Hess got blistered again.

You remember Hess, he's the guy who had a no hitter going back on April 1st in Toronto but got pulled because his pitch count was rising.

I'm sure glad his arm got "saved" up there two months ago. He doesn't have a victory since that game.

Hess, like several others, is very fortunate the Orioles don't have anyone else worthy of a big league call-up down in Norfolk. He'd be gone if someone in Triple-A deserved a shot.

Oh, and speaking of deserving a shot, Giants' outfielder Mike Yastrzemski has done well since his call-up to the big leagues a week or so ago. The ersthile Oriole farmhand is hitting .280 in his first foray in the majors after spending parts of seven seasons in the minor leagues.

On Friday night at Camden Yards, he homered and tripled in his first two at-bats, sending up "cycle alert" flares all over town. But he failed to get a hit in the remainder of the game. He went 1-for-3 with a RBI on Saturday in the Giants' 8-2 win.

Tiger Woods won't win the Memorial this week, but a guy we haven't heard from in quite a while might find the winner's circle. Martin Kaymer, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, owns a 2-shot lead over Adam Scott heading into today's final round in Columbus, Ohio.

Woods signed for a second straight round of 2-under par 70, but played much better than his score otherwise indicated.

Kaymer has had an interesting career on the PGA Tour. While he owns 9 career victories on the European Tour, the German has just three wins on the PGA Tour, and none of the three have been "regular" golf tournament triumphs.

Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship, the 2014 Players, and the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

It's been a strange few years for Kaymer since he won the U.S. Open, but a win today would get his name thrown in the mix for a spot on the 2020 European Ryder Cup.

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who is baltimore's most underrated sports figure ever?

We're going to need your help on this one.

But we thought it might be a fun exercise.

Dennis Pitta was a favorite target of Joe Flacco's...but was he underrated?

Over the next two weeks, we're going to delve into Baltimore's rich sports history and try and identify five finalists for the honor of being named "Baltimore's Most Underrated Sports Figure" ever.

We used "sports figure" because it's wide-ranging and all encompassing.

It could be a player.

A manager or coach.

A member of the local sports media.

Our "only" rule is this: The person must have plied his or her trade in Baltimore. And before you ask, no, Annapolis, College Park and Washington DC don't count. They're not in "Baltimore".

We have lots of teams and schools to choose from, as well as a few dozen reporters, writers, TV anchors, radio hosts, etc.

We're looking for "underrated".

To get the party started, #DMD will throw out a name for everyone to chew on today.

Was Dennis Pitta underrated? If so, where does he rank? Pitta was a favorite target of Joe Flacco's for several years before a hip injury (or series of them) ended his career. Pitta, you'll recall, was a vital part of the 2012 Super Bowl team.

He always struck me as an underrated performer, still playing in the shadow of Ring of Honor tight end Todd Heap.

Thoughts on Pitta?

Other names for us to consider over the next two weeks?

Use the comments section below, please.


June 1
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is drake really "necessary" for the nba?

I'm not all that motivated -- yet -- to watch the NBA Finals from start to finish, although I'll admit to peeking in on several occasions Thursday night when Toronto beat Golden State in Game 1 of the series.

If I'm being honest, I tuned in more to see what tomfoolery Drake was up to during the game. Sure, the score mattered, but I was far more interested in the rapper's "involvement" in the game and whether he'd become part of the story.

And, of course, he did. Sort of.

Drake (Raptors jersey) gives Golden State's Klay Thompson an earful in Thursday's NBA Finals opener in Toronto.

For the uninitiated, and that's probably a lot of you, Drake has become the Raptors' "Super Fan" and, thus, is front and center in each and every playoff game. He loves it, naturally, and the Raptors don't seem to mind it either.

But the NBA? At first, I thought they probably didn't like it. Visiting teams have complained about Drake's "role" during the game. To that end, he's nothing more than a loud, obnoxious fan grinding the gears of some of the NBA's best talent when they're in Toronto. But visitors have noted he has special pre-game courtside access and has seemed a little too close to the action during the game itself.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver met with Drake and the Raptors before Game 1 to make sure everyone was clear on what he could and couldn't do during the Finals. Recently, during a playoff game, Drake approached the Raptors' bench during a time-out and essentially "joined in the huddle". That's a no-no. During another playoff game, he tried getting the attention of Toronto's head coach by leaving his seat and grabbing the coach by the shoulder to address him. Silver smartly told Drake in no uncertain terms that involving himself in the team's huddle and touching a coach or player during the game was expressly forbidden. I assume he told the Raptors that as well.

Following Thursday's Game 1, Drake and Golden State's mercurical standout Draymond Green exchanged words. While Green said afterwards it was more "playful" than anything, the incident turned into a headline maker.

Drake, Green exchange words as Raptors beat Warriors in Game 1

How's that for entertainment? The headline of NBA Finals Game 1 was about a rapper bickering with another player from the losing team.

But the more I watch -- and read -- the more I'm starting to assume that Silver and the NBA are actually not that worried about Drake and his role as the team's "global ambassador". In fact, they like it.

It looks a little like professional wrestling to this writer, but it's certainly getting the NBA some much-needed attention as they go up against the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, the French Open, and Major League Baseball.

It's no secret that the NBA is largely made up of African American players and Drake, a rapper, fits a genre of music you hear played in every NBA arena before, during and after virtually every game. Casting him aside with a forced removal from the arena would undoubtedly cause friction and garner the league several days of unwanted bad publicity.

But how much longer can this guy steal the headlines from the actual basketball that's being played? Therein lies the rub. Drake and his antics are now "the story". Kevin Durant and his calf...are not. The Warriors and their chance for a 3-peat...are not. A rowdy, obnoxious rapper has become the focal point of the most important two weeks of the NBA season.

Adam Silver might secretly like the whole thing. "Somewhere, some goofy guy in Baltimore or Toledo or Topeka with no real connection to the NBA is paying attention to us because of this Drake situation," he might be thinking to himself.

In the end, though, it makes the NBA look like pro wrestling. Too many distractions, too many side-stories, too many heels and baby faces. And not nearly enough high quality basketball.

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kuchar digging a deeper hole

Matt Kuchar has had a rather strange 2018-2019 PGA Tour season.

I'm not talking about his two wins and runner-up finish in the Match Play Championship. He played great golf, not strange golf, to win twice earlier in the season.

But almost everything else has been strange.

First was the "caddie controversy", where Kuchar tried to give a caddie who just helped him win $1 million a $5,000 payment. After months of getting pressured and embarrassed to do the right thing, Kuchar finally relented and forked over $50,000 in total to the caddie.

Then, during the aforementioned Match Play Championship, Kuchar was involved in a saga with Sergio Garcia after Garcia picked up his ball before Kuchar could concede a short putt. Kuchar won that hole, and the match, and many observers and followers thought the 9-time PGA Tour winner should have figured out a way to appease Garcia's request for a "free hole" to help even the score after the 8th hole rules snafu.

But nothing is as bizarre as what happened on Thursday during the first round of The Memorial, where Kuchar spent almost eight minutes bickering with two different rules officials about an imbedded ball in the fairway.

We'd show you the entire video here, except for this: After being up on the TOUR's website for almost six hours on Thursday afternoon/evening, the video was abruptly taken down from that site and any of the golf-media sites (Golf Channel, Golfweek, etc.). SiriusXM reported on Friday that Kuchar's representatives demanded the video be removed and the TOUR apparently complied.

So, at risk of getting snagged by the TOUR for showing this 3-minute clip, this, as much as we can tell, is the only remaining online version of what happened on Thursday. It's only three of the eight minutes, but you'll get the idea. Click here for the video. I hope it's still up by the time you click.

Kuchar has lost his mind.

I'm not sure why he simply didn't contend that the pitch mark his ball finished up in was his pitch mark all along. Suggesting that the ball bounced a foot or two in the air and then made a "secondary mark" was about the dumbest thing he could have said. And then to stand there and whine about it like a 4-year old at a carnival? Completely bush league.

The dude has made $43 million playing golf and probably another $10 million peddling golf shoes, golf balls, watches and human resources software. You're in the first round of a mid-season golf tournament. Your ball landed in a pitch mark. Just play the friggin' thing and let's try and finish before dark, Matt.

Some of Kuchar's bad press this year wasn't all of his own doing. Some of it was. Thursday's episode was entirely on his shoulders. It was amateur hour stuff.


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