Thursday
August 15
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#1816



nfl work stoppage? yeah, that's smart


Some things you see or hear and, as the kids say these days, you SMH. That's short for "shake my head".

I read that the NFLPA is distributing a "Work Stoppage Guide" to its players and I definitely SMH.

Really? Have you people been paying attention over the last few years? You're preparing to go on strike?

Unless a new collective bargaining agreement is in place sometime in 2020, it looks like a fairly good bet that the NFLPA will strike when the current CBA expires in March of 2021.

Could Roger Goodell and the NFL owners be looking at a player strike in 2021?

TV viewing: down.

Fans in the seats: down

Overall interest in the NFL: down

Seems like a good time to strike to me.

Or not.

Then again, unions typically don't consider much of that outside stuff. They just say "Strike!" and that's that.

This particular strike, if it happens, might ultimately benefit the unionized players, but it certainly won't improve an already-strained relationship between the fans and the league. It's not only about the whole "taking a knee" thing, but that's certainly been one of the driving forces, in addition to the games taking too long and the officiating impacting too many games with bad or ill-timed calls.

And with a Presidential election looming in 2020, more and more NFL players will almost certainly come out in support of anyone who goes up against the incumbent next year. And that, too, will probably cause a rift between a large segment of the American football fan base and the players.

In case you care, here's what the NFLPA is telling its players to do over the next 18 months in preparation for a work stoppage (that's a fancy word for: strike) in March of 2021:

Save at least half of each paycheck, if not more. If your current expenses are too high to save this much, you should look at ways to change your spending habits and reduce financial commitments.

Try cooking at home instead of eating out as much.

Designate one day a week as "no spending day".

Take care of major home repairs now.

If you're in the market for a new home, consider renting instead of buying for now.

Find renters for your unoccupied homes or bedrooms.

Consider selling a car you have not driven in the past six months.

Avoid signing a long-term lease on any rental property that you rarely use.

Learn to say "no" -- or at least, "not now" -- to friends and family asking for money.

Consider selling clothes you have not worn in a year on Poshmark, Thredup or Tradesy.

Seems to me like they're serious. One day per week as "no spending day"? Wow.

There's lots of time between now and March of 2021, so I wouldn't be all that worried at this point. I mean, we have at least two more New England Super Bowl wins to celebrate before the strike looms. But following that 2021 game, we potentially might not see football for a while.

I've always been "pro owner" going back to my days in the soccer business, so there's little doubt at all which way I'll be leaning in 2021 when it comes time to formulating a more formal opinion on the looming strike.

The league and the sport of football in this country would certainly be hurt by a work stoppage in 2021. I'm not sure the players really care about that all that much...they haven't in the past, of course. And perhaps they're looking at this particular moment in time as critically important to the next decade or so.

No one asked me, but here's my advice to the NFLPA. Figure out a way NOT to go on strike.

Everyone's life will be a lot easier, including yours.

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the yankees make everything worse


From 2011 through 2013, the Houston Astros were the worst team in baseball. The Astros won, over that three-year span, exactly one-third of their games. They lost 106, 107 and 111 games, respectively. Their awfulness even switched leagues with them when the club moved to the AL West from the NL Central in 2013.

As fans of the Orioles, we know all about this, of course. What’s going on now in Baltimore—with the former Astros’ scouting director now in charge—is supposed to be the same thing. Someday soon, maybe the Orioles will be like the 2017-2019 Astros, who’ve won nearly two-thirds of their games, on their way to their third-straight 100-win season.

Until then, the biggest problem for the Orioles isn’t really themselves. What Mike Elias will attempt to do has become a tried-and-true formula, and not just in baseball. It’s not the only way, but it can work.

The biggest problem for the Orioles is the Yankees. It’s a problem that the Astros never had to deal with, no matter what league they were playing in.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees beat the Orioles 16 straight times to close out the 2019 season series.

And it’s going to make it a lot harder for the Orioles to do what the Astros have done.

Right now, the “problem” is at what I can only assume is its worst. Gleyber Torres made Gary Thorne’s head explode the other day, followed by Paul O’Neill bolting from the YES booth next door to rub it in (I mean…I know he was just trying to be funny, but f*** him. Think he got lucky to get traded from Cincinnati to New York, where he suddenly transitioned from a good player to some kind of superhero? Again. F*** him. Go destroy a few more water coolers…).

Anyway…like I was saying…it’s a low point. The Yankees always operate on a different level than the Orioles, which makes the disparity between the teams even more noticeable when the Orioles have a bad team. When the Astros were bad, it didn’t feel the same way with the Cardinals or Rangers.

The Yanks averaged just shy of eight runs per game against the Birds in 2019 (thankfully, the season series is over) and beat the Orioles in all 16 games after Brandon Hyde’s team won two of three in the Bronx to open the season. The Orioles have now given up nine or more runs 27 times, and seven of those games are losses to the Yankees.

The ball is juiced or smaller or whatever, home runs are flying around like never before, and it happens to be the year when the difference between the teams is at an extreme, maybe even more than it was during the late 90s Yankee dynasty. Certainly, the quality of the Orioles’ pitching staff was much higher then.

There was a precursor to this two seasons ago, when the Yankees actually averaged more runs per game against the Orioles than they did this season. And most of those big-run games for New York came before the Orioles’ September collapse. They were doing it while the Orioles were basically a .500 team and still had lots of quality Major League players on their roster!

Now that’s not the case, and it seems exponentially worse, and not just to Gary Thorne.

Look, we all enjoyed the Orioles’ temporary competitiveness with New York. 2012 was fun, despite the defeat in the Division Series. 2014 was wonderful—that year, amazingly enough, the Orioles’ pitching staff held the unusually punchless Yankees to just three runs per game.

Three! In 2016, the Orioles’ celebrated the Wild Card on the season’s last day after winning at Yankee Stadium.

But…you just knew the Yankees were on their way to something special. And you knew that the Orioles weren’t going to keep up, even if they looked like they were trying to do so, as it seemed before both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

The Yankees were going to get there. There was no doubt. You knew it when they traded Aroldis Chapman, their star closer, to the Cubs in 2016. In return, they got Torres, a can’t-miss guy. After the season, Brian Cashman re-signed Chapman, who’s still the Yankees’ star closer.

The Cubs got a World Series, and the Yankees basically got Gleyber Torres for nothing. That’s what the Orioles are fighting against, in a way that the Astros never did.

What the Yankees do, and who they are as a franchise, doesn’t only affect the Orioles, of course. The Red Sox have to play the foil, and by World Series championships they’re winning the battle. But they’ve also had strangely bad seasons. (Ok…so I won’t feel too bad for them. And I’d be remiss not to mention Mookie Betts, who had a somewhat similar season against the Orioles a couple years back as Torres is having now.)

The Rays, meanwhile, seem like they’re trying to change baseball entirely with their “bullpen” games, and I can’t help but think that the Yankees are part of the reason for that. They can’t compete with New York in any traditional manner.

As for the Blue Jays, well they’ve started their youth movement already; the fact that three of those youths are the sons of great Major League players, two of them Hall of Famers, makes for an interesting story. The decision was made that there’s simply no choice but to let them play.

Here in Baltimore, Elias doesn’t have the likes of Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., and Bo Bichette to bring to Camden Yards, at least not yet. Needless to say, it’s probably not position players like them that need to get here first anyway; none of the guys playing in the field for the Orioles are the ones giving up all those home runs, except for Stevie Wilkerson.

At some point, like with the Astros, the Orioles will put their young players out there. Maybe there will be enough of them to use as trade material for quality Major League players. There will be a day when you’ll look out on the field and see a lot to like.

I trust that will be the case. The Yankees can’t stop another team from developing talent or creating a deep farm system. They can take good players in the draft, but they won’t have the definite advantage of a No. 1 or No. 2 pick. They always know that, someday in the near future, one of their biggest rivals is likely to have a couple of power arms that can shut any team down.

They just give me a lot of pause. The Orioles don’t have to get better than an Oakland franchise that does it with mirrors or an Angels team that’s wasting one of the best players in the history of the game. They don’t have to surpass Seattle and Texas teams that can’t sustain excellence.

The Orioles are going to have to get better than the Yankees. And it’s going to be hard.

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Wednesday
August 14
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#1815



the "nashville orioles"? i'm not buying it


Former Baltimore TV talking head and newspaper writer Michael Olesker fanned the flames earlier this week with a story in the Baltimore Post-Examiner about the Orioles potentially moving to Nashville.

#DMD reader and Twitter follwer @fitzer1201 asked me to opine on it yesterday via social media.

So, here we are.

I first broached this subject back in the early spring when word first started to leak around town that the Angelos family would consider asking MLB for permission to move the team to Nashville if the team's current lease situation can't be favorably concluded sometime in the next year.

The "story" about Nashville has been out there for the better part of year now. Depending on who you know, who you listen to and who you believe, the Angelos boys aren't as "married" to Baltimore as their heritage might suggest. But moving the Orioles isn't like moving your snowball stand from Joppa Road to York Road. There's a lot more to it.

For starters, here's what I think. If I'm wrong, that day will come and I'll be forced to say, "Well, I didn't believe this was possible."

The Orioles aren't moving.

Period.

It's one thing if Major League Baseball loses the franchise in Miami or Tampa Bay. I mean, there's no real baseball history in either of those places. Sure, those respective cities wouldn't like losing their team, but life would go on in either or both places...and it would "go on" quickly, too.

Baseball "failing" in Baltimore (and when a team moves, it "failed" in its city, no matter what you think) would be a massive black eye for the league.

It's not happening. The Orioles aren't moving. They're not going to Nashville or anywhere else.

But that doesn't mean we're not going to worry about it over the next year while the two sides hash out a new lease agreement. The Angelos boys are not dumb, trust me. They know in order to have a successful negotiation, they'll need some leverage. And moving the team to a new city that will welcome them with a sweetheart lease deal is, in fact, the best leverage you can get.

It won't matter, though. It's like those two detectives in Beverly Hills Cop falling for Eddie Murphy's banana-in-the-tailpipe trick. No one falls for that. Wait, I'm not sure what that movie scene has to do with this. Anyway, no one with a brain is falling for "We'll just move the team to Nashville" trick.

But we're going to hear it. Olesker's story, of course, was clearly an Angelos plant. There are no two ways about that. He's been a longtime friend and confidant of Peter Angelos and I'm sure he has some sort of relationship with John and Lou Angelos as well. And when they say, "Hey, Mike, we have a scoop for you," he's surely going to listen. Honestly, I have no idea what the "Post-Examiner" is, but Olesker's name -- media wise -- still carries some weight in town, so when he writes it, people pay attention.

Trust me, the Orioles aren't moving to Nasvhille.

Now, are the Angelos boys interested in a sweetheart lease deal? Of course. But their lease isn't crippling them now, anyway. What's crippling them -- if that word can even be used for a business worth in excess of $1 billion -- is no one is going to the games. And, again, that "loss" isn't really all that impactful anyway.

Now, some folks are going to suggest that MLB's longtime adversarial relationship with Peter Angelos could, in fact, make it easier for the league to say, "Let the team move out of Baltimore, that will be the way Angelos is remembered there..." but I don't see that happening, either. I do think MLB will work hard to help locate a favorable owner who may or may not live in Baltimore/Maryland, but they're not letting the team leave Baltimore.

I'm also willing to say this, just because we all know it's true: Anything is possible. While I'll say "the Orioles aren't moving to Nashville", I'm also smart enough to know it is possible that it could happen. Because, anything's possible, as we saw in Baltimore back in 1984 or the folks in Montreal found out 15 years ago when they lost their baseball team.

Just because it's "possible", though, doesn't mean it really has a chance of happening. And while it's certainly "possible" the Orioles could move -- to anywhere, really -- I'm here to say it won't happen. There's simply too much for baseball to lose by allowing it to happen.

Now, new owner? Sure. Olesker listed a bunch of potential candidates in his story, but anyone that's lived in Baltimore for 40 years knows the names. Jimmy Davis, who pays for dinner when he and Bisciotti go out, can certainly afford to buy the team if he wants. But he's already a small owner in St. Louis and that probably satisfies his baseball itch. My guess is Davis is more interested in becoming the President of Augusta National someday (where he's been a member for ten years) than owning the Orioles.

Chip Mason and Bill Miller? Same old names. They would both be "interested", I'm sure, but that doesn't mean when the time comes to make the deal that they have the cash to get it done.

Cal Ripken Jr. is wealthy, but he's wealthy compared to you and I. Cal doesn't have anywhere close to $1.2 billion. You can scratch his name off the list.

In the end, an out-of-town group could wind up buying the Orioles. That wouldn't be the worst thing to ever happen. And just because they might be from Portland, Las Vegas, Birmingham, Charlotte or -- gasp -- Nashville, that doesn't mean the team is moving out of Baltimore.

Color me skeptical, folks. I don't see it happening. I think we have a better chance of the Orioles somehow winning 60 games this season than we do the team moving to Nashville in our lifetime.

By the way, they're 39-81 after getting shellacked again last night in New York. That means, to get to 60-102, they'd have to go 21-21 over their last 42 games to end the campaign at 60-102.

They'd do that before they'd move to Nashville.

And, yes, it's nearly impossible for them to finish at 60-102.

So that tells you about their odds of moving to Tennessee...

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It's always good to have someone else looking out for you. That's exactly what "Mr. Eyes" does for #DMD. While he's making big bucks working for a Baltimore media entity, "Eyes" does some moonlight Ravens reporting for #DMD and takes short-game lessons from Drew instead of a paycheck.


Last week here, I listed Mark Andrews as the most impressive Raven in the first two weeks of training camp. A week or so later, I'm ready to give you a new name of the most impressive player in camp thus far: Lamar Jackson. Time and time again, he's making throws we never saw him make last August or during his 7-game stint at the end of the season. The other players are talking about it too. They pay attention. And even they're impressed. I realize it's preseason football but Jackson has been extremely productive in camp.

2nd year quarterback Lamar Jackson continues to impress in Ravens training camp.

I mentioned here last week that Jimmy Smith hasn't had a particularly impressive camp thus far. No, he isn't being traded to the Texans. But I'm hearing the coaching staff are planning on working him harder over the last three weeks of camp to make sure he's ready for the September 8 opener. Smith missed a day earlier this week, which might have been the reason that word trickled out to members of the media.

There was some growing "chatter" around the facility that perhaps Sam Koch was feeling pressured by Kaare Vedvik, the kicker-punter who was traded to the Vikings over the weekend. Koch is a favorite in Owings Mills and is still one of the league's best punters, so it would make sense for the Ravens to do what they needed to do to keep him upbeat and happy. I'm not suggesting it was Koch who said, "Trade Vedvik now", but every game the 2nd year kicker nailed a few long field goals and dropped in a couple of punts it only served as a reminder to John Harbaugh and his staff that they had other options at the punter position. And Vedvik was known more around the league for his kicking leg than punting leg, yes, but Koch wouldn't have fetched the team a 5th round pick via trade, either. It was a good move all the way around for the Ravens.

I'd say the player making the biggest jump over the last week or two has been wide receiver Jaleel Scott. After spending the 2018 season on injured reserve, Scott has come back on the scene with a purpose in August. You can see his confidence growing with every practice, it seems, and unless my eyes are failing me, I see Lamar Jackson and Scott having a nice "connection" in almost every training camp session. It's like the two of them have a Flacco-Pitta thing going. I'd say Scott is about 90% certain to have one of the six wide receiver spots locked up at this point.

The leader of the Ravens in 2019 is going to be Earl Thomas. No two ways about it. Perhaps that's made easier with the departure of veterans like Suggs and Mosley, but it's been very evident from day one that Thomas is the guy "in charge" of the defense. And he most certainly likes that role as well. Marlon Humphrey might be the Vice President, but Thomas is running the show. He works hard every day, forces the other players to match his work rate, and isn't afraid to snap at someone when they're not doing their job.

If you're looking for one thing to nitpick about "Hollywood" Brown, I think it could be his health. He has obviously been brought along slowly in camp due to his foot injury from earlier in the year, but even since returning to practice, he seems to be one of those guys who could be, let's say, a tad "brittle". There's no telling how he's going to react to the big hits in the NFL. He might be fine. Or they might take their toll quickly. All I can say is I've heard more than one Ravens staffer whisper some concern about his toughness. And it's only training camp.

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Tuesday
August 13
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#1814



can anything at augusta national be overrated?


My man Nick Smearman liked the pressure of the #DMD spotlight so much last week, he's back again for another edition of "Overrated and Underrated".

"I'm going to make you think this time," Smearman wrote to me. "No layups today."

So...off we go.

Wait, before I start, I should probably give a quick refresher course. This is called Overrated and Underrated, a segment I used to do regularly on the old radio show. You throw out names, I rank them: Overrated. Or Underrated. And there's no in between, either. You're one of the two.

Now...off we go.

Rickie Fowler: Oh, wow. A 477 yard par-4 right out of the clubhouse. This one's tough. But only because I actually like Fowler. I think he's a great player and maybe even a better guy. He's certainly wonderful for the game of golf. But -- he is massively OVERRATED. I mean, maybe as overrated as any big name professional on the TOUR today. Why? Simple? He doesn't win enough. End of story. I'm not even talking about majors per-se. A bunch of GREAT players (Couples, Pavin, Love III, Rose, Scott) all only won one major. I'm talking about winning in general. He just doesn't do enough of it.

Notre Dame football: I'll admit that my answer is definitely jaded by the fact that I finally made it to South Bend for a football game a few years ago. Had I not done that, I don't know what my answer would have been to this one. But having been there, seen the campus and experienced a football game, I can say without question Notre Dame football is UNDERRATED. Now, that's the entire experience, remember. As for the 2019 on-field product...well...check back with me in mid October for that one.

Another in a long line of dangerous weapons at Tom Brady's disposal...Julian Edelman - is he overrated or underrated?

Julian Edelman: The first semi-slam-dunk of today's proceedings. Julian Edelman on any other team would be a #3 guy...used occasionally, worth 5-6 touchdowns a year, and a "decent" contributor if nothing else. But with the Patriots, he's part of the glue that keeps that offense together. Sure, the quarterback's pretty good and all, but he can't throw it AND catch it, as his wife once famously reminded everyone after a Super Bowl loss. Edelman is big time UNDERRATED. He's a warrior. Throw the ball to him...and he catches it.

Jalen Smith: Ooooh, another toughie. I like Smith's game. I saw him a bunch at Mount Saint Joseph and have to admit I was a bit puzzled when Maryland announced he'd be going there. And early on last season, I thought he really looked overwhelmed. But my late January or so, he started to really look the part. I know there are some rumblings that he might test the NBA waters after this coming season, but I'd cool the jets on that talk for a while. For now, though, I think the kid is UNDERRATED and expect a big year from him in '19-20.

Dean Pees: I have a theory about coordinators in the NFL. If you give them 11 really good players, they can do a really good job. Simple, right? I thought Pees had some "really good" years for the Ravens, but late in his tenure something was missing. By his own admission, Pees liked to play soft in the final few minutes games. "We don't want to give up the big play," he'd remind everyone who asked. In the meantime, of course, the Ravens defense wound up giving up a lot of small plays that turned into the same result as a big play (see Cincinnati, 12/31/17). For the way it all unraveled on Pees in the last few years in Baltimore, I'm going with OVERRATED on this one.

Brett Favre: Eh, I always kind of wondered what all the uproar was about with Favre. Was it because he was small and ran around a lot and risked his life against 6'7" defensive ends who could squash him? I get it, he's a Hall of Famer and all. And by no means am I suggesting he shouldn't be in Canton or anything like that. But I always thought Favre was more of a fair haired boy type with the media and that played in to his overwhelming popularity. This one might be a head scratcher, but I think Favre is OVERRATED.

Chris McAlister: Yikes. This one's tough, too. I always thought CMac was a really good player. Despite his proclivity for getting burned by the Steelers too many times to remember, I thought he was a reliable cover corner and most certainly should be strongly considered for the Ravens' Ring of Honor. Slam dunk? No. But he should be considered, if he hasn't been already. That said, I was around him a lot back in my radio days and I'll say this: He was the king of wanting to talk to the media after a good game and disappearing quickly after a bad game. "Chris is in the trainer's room getting looked at," was a familiar refrain from the PR staff. I don't care for guys who aren't there for the good AND the bad. McAlister is OVERRATED.

Silver Oak wine: This one made me LOL. There are certainly better bottles of wine than Silver Oak, but there are none more perfectly matched with a great steak EVERY TIME than Silver Oak. Just make sure you get the Napa Valley bottle and not the Alexander Valley bottle. It's $50 more, but worth it. Silver Oak is significantly UNDERRATED.

Augusta National's Pimento Cheese sandwich: Oh, this is easy. I don't like Pimento Cheese sandwiches to start with. And this one is nothing special other than you pay $2.00 for it (it might be up to $2.50 now). Anything that's decent that you pay $2.00 for in 2019 is almost always bound to be highly regarded. I've had the sandwich. Once. It was OK. It was probably "really good" for $2.00, but it's just a sandwich, trust me. Augusta National's turkey and cheese on wheat is WAY better. The Pimento Cheese sandwich is OVERRATED.

T.J. Oshie: I have to admit I always thought Oshie was kind of a softee when he was in St. Louis. "Great in the regular season, a no show in the playoffs," was what folks said about him. But since arriving in D.C., I think he's been a major contributor to their success. I'll take him over Kuznetsov any day of the week, if it came down to keeping one of the two. I think you saw how valuable Oshie was in last April's playoff series loss to the Hurricanes when he wasn't around for the final few games. Oshie is big time UNDERRATED.

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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.



On Sunday, Drew's column left me asking myself a simple question: is it fair to say that the Orioles aren't trying to put out a good product?

Now to state the obvious, they certainly aren't putting out a good product in a big picture sense. The team has the second worst record in baseball, is almost certainly going to end the season having given up more home runs than any team ever, and probably doesn't even have 10 players who would honestly stick on the average big league roster as anything more than 4-A filler types.

It's a team that could give up 15-20 runs on any given night. Quite often their games aren't even worth watching by the time the 3rd inning roles around.

But on the other hand, they have their moments, as we saw this past weekend at Camden Yards. A 23-2 embarrassment was followed by a thrilling 8-7 walk off win in which the Orioles actually got the better of Houston's Justin Verlander (although even that was filled with plenty of cringe inducing foul ups).

Saturday night's 21-run loss might have been a snoozer not even worth watching, but Sunday was a quite entertaining affair. Plenty of games this year have been like that, even when the Orioles haven't won. The team recently set an MLB record for most consecutive games with two or more home runs amidst an extended streak of playing downright decent baseball.

The roster may be lacking in stars, but it's full of decent players who are playing their butts off to prove that they can stick in the big leagues in some capacity. It's a very easy team to root for in that respect, and you can count me as someone who thinks this team is, on the whole, a lot easier to watch than last year's Orioles were.

O's General Manager Mike Elias was charged with the task of building from the ground up and #DMD's Brien Jackson says the early returns are positive.

But that doesn't really answer the question, does it? Are the Orioles deliberately not trying to be better than they are? I'd say that the accusation is true, but not necessarily fair.

Baseball is in a bit of a touchy spot on this issue right now because, honestly, a whole bunch of teams aren't really trying. The trade deadline just reminded us that even a bunch of good teams aren't willing to actually spend anything on trying to get better, and will absolutely settle for being eliminated in the Wild Card game, or even missing out by a game or two, over going to the LCS or further if it takes, say, $5 million extra to get over that hump.

Teams that had decent rosters last year didn't make an effort to improve on that over the offseason, instead deciding to "rebuild" by tearing themselves down without even trying. The Orioles, to their credit, don't belong in that group. The 2017 Orioles were right in the thick of the wild card race at the beginning of September, and they followed that season up by signing two of the top four or five available starting pitchers.

They shopped Manny Machado and Zach Britton, but ultimately decided to keep the rather than accept the highest offer at that point. The 2018 Orioles were a team that came into the season thinking that they were making a real attempt to get back to the postseason at the very minimum.

Of course it didn't work out that way. In fact, that team was really, really, bad. Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner were busts, and the remaining core of players from the 2012-17 period were mostly well into a decline phase. The 2018 team was, in fact, among the worst teams in Major League Baseball history. There was no executive decision to tear things down and rebuild, that was a decision forced on the team's decision makers by the reality that their roster was just really, really, bad.

Could they be doing more? I honestly don't see what that would be. Baseball is a difficult sport to rebuild in because there just aren't many ways to turn things around quickly. You can't draft a Baker Mayfield or Andrew Luck before the season and go from terrible to at least decent just like that. You can't sign a couple of superstars like Paul George and Kawhi Leonard and become instant championship contenders. Individual players just don't have that kind of outsized impact on the games.

If the Orioles could have added Mike Trout and Mookie Betts before the season, they'd project to add about 15 wins to their total over the course of a season. That doesn't get them to .500, and maybe doesn't even get them to 75 wins. Playing around for second and third tier free agents leaves you essentially trying to get to 65 wins.

And maybe there's value in that. It would probably result in fewer nights where the team is just unwatchable, and might even reduce the feeling that this years group is altogether a waste of time. But it wouldn't move the ball much either.

It wouldn't help them push back to playoff contention now or in the future. It would require resources that otherwise could be used expanding amateur scouting, building up the team's presence in Latin America, scouting the lower levels of other teams' farm systems, etc.

Those activities don't provide much entertainment on Friday nights, but they do ultimately help to create a winning team and a durable organization, and they do come with an opportunity cost.

But what I would keep going back to is the fact that the Orioles didn't choose this. They made a real, genuine effort to win last season, with moves that quite a few people cheered on and felt good about at the time. And then the bottom fell out of the team completely. It happens. It's happened to the Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs, and Angels, all of who spent really large amounts of money to have some very bad teams at times in the last 10 years.

The Orioles are bouncing back from hitting rock bottom now, and that's just not an easy process. But even then, they've shown a rather unique willingness to bring up young guys that they could otherwise keep in Triple-A for no reason other than manipulating service time, and it seems quite possible that Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle will also find their way to the majors before the season ends, maybe for good.

There's no real easy way to grind out a situation like this as a fan, so my suggestion is simple: Don't. Don't feel the need to watch the game if it's one of those nights where they're down 11-2 in the 5th.

Flip over to a Law & Order rerun or see whats on AMC or something. Don't feel like a game like Sunday's is meaningless just because the team is already well out of the playoff race. Take it for the moment in time that it is and let yourself enjoy the baseball on that day and that day only.

Let yourself get excited by Rio Ruiz hitting a walkoff against arguably the best team in baseball. Cheer on guys like Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino as they try to carve out a big league role for themselves with an opportunity they maybe didn't think they were going to get. And if they get clobbered tomorrow night? Watch something else.

I know that's a bit glib, but there's really no other way to go about it. That's just the reality of trying to turn around a bad team in baseball. But if its any consolation, you could do worse than getting into following the team's minor league affiliates. Most of them are having exciting years, and they're all filled with genuine prospects who are having successful seasons.

The team's farm system is as good as it's been in a very long time, including the pitching. That's no guarantee that the rebuild is going to be a success or that you can print your 2023 World Series Champions t-shirt now, but so far all signs are good.

And that's the best that Mike Elias and everyone else can really deliver at this point.

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Monday
August 12
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#1813



what did we learn over the weekend?


It's August 12. There are still 40-some games remaining in the baseball season, depending on your team's schedule. And here's what we know.

The team that won it all last year is done. That's the Red Sox, in case you forgot. They are cooked. At 62-58, they're 8.5 games behind the Rays, who would be the 2nd wild card team in the American League if the season ended today.

Something tells me the odd team out in the A.L. Central Division title race is also going to be the odd team out of the wild card race as well. It's hard to say if that's going to be Minnesota or Cleveland, but my guess is whichever one of them finishes 2nd will not win enough games to beat out Tampa Bay and Oakland. I'd actually like to see both of them make it out of the Central, so I hope I'm wrong.

It's hard to imagine that the Mets are "really for real", but they've been on quite a tear over the last three weeks. They are firmly in the Wild Card race in the National League. But they had to play way over their heads over the last 20 games to get back in it. One wonders how much gas they'll have left in the tank come mid-September.

There's a crazy stat in the N.L. Central. Milwaukee has a record of 62-57 and their run differential is (minus) 20. The Reds are 56-60 and their run differential is (plus) 39. And even more weird...Cincinnati has six fewer wins than the Brewers while allowing 94 less runs? I don't understand...

Patrick Reed won a golf tournament on Sunday, his first victory since the 2018 Masters.

14 months after the biggest win of his career, Patrick Reed won another "biggie" on Sunday to open the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The victory not only cemented Reed's spot in the last two FedEx Cup playoff events (he's currently 2nd in the standings), but makes him a viable candidate for one of Tiger Woods' four Presidents Cup captain's picks should Reed (currently 12th in the those standings) not do enough over the last two tournaments to secure an automatic berth in the December competition.

And with all due respect to the likes of Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler, there's no way Woods can select one of those two -- or both -- without picking Reed.

Woods basically has to pick Gary Woodland if he doesn't qualify on points. The U.S. Open champ is presently 9th in the standings.

And Reed is too good to pass up as well. There is that pesky little Ryder Cup issue from last Fall that might still be an issue for some American players, but Reed isn't on the team to win friends and curry favor with people. He's on the team to make birdies and beat the International team.

Then who? Finau and Fowler? Eh, not so quick. How about Chez Reavie and Kevin Kisner? Both have wins in 2019. And I like how those two guys battle under the gun.

Let's see how the last two FedEx Cup events go, but right now, unless the standings drastically change, I'm saying Tiger should go with Woodland, Reed, Reavie and Kisner.

It's really amazing to see Baltimore's ongoing infatuation with Joe Flacco in Denver.

Interestingly, I don't feel any amount of public interest in what Manny Machado is doing in San Diego or Adam Jones is doing in Arizona. In fact, I don't really know. So I'll do a fun exercise right here (you have to trust me, I'm really doing it) and guess what their numbers are as of August 11.

I'll say Machado is hitting .278 with 25 HR's and 77 RBI. His OBP is .349.

Jones is hitting .273 with 16 HR's and 66 RBI. His OBP is .325.

(Machado is hitting .277/.336 with 26 HR's and 70 RBI. I was close...)

(Jones is hitting .265/.313 with 13 HR's and 51 RBI. I was sort of close.)

Anyway, I don't feel like anyone in Baltimore cares what Machado and Jones are doing. But I feel like everyone will be following along with Flacco and the Broncos.

I know one of the reasons: Fantasy Football. There will be folks who follow everything Flacco does because he plays on their fantasy team or against their fantasy team on a given week. So fantasy football matters. No one really plays fantasy baseball, so we're just not locked into what baseball players are doing on a daily basis.

That said, there's another factor, too.

It's simple. The "pro-Flacco" people will want to say "I told you so" whenever he has a good game. And the "anti-Flacco" folks will want to say "I told you so" whenever he has a bad game.

Of course, smart people know that anything Flacco does in Denver has zero connection at all to what he might have done in Baltimore. Different teammates, different schedule, different opposing defenses, different weather, different coaching. Get it? Everything's different.

But that won't stop people in Baltimore from flying the Flacco flag or stomping on it this coming season. It's hilarious, really, to read the stuff on social media from supposed intelligent people who continue to rake him over the coals or send him to the Hall of Fame.

By the way, not that I know or anything, but I heard a rumor the Broncos open the season on Monday night, September 9 in Oakland. It's on TV, in case you care to watch.

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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: The NFL Preseason

Yesterday…

Many of you will certainly remember this, though I was either not yet alive or too young to recall…

For eight seasons, from 1970-1977, the NFL season consisted of 14 regular-season games and six exhibition games.

Six!

Think about that. There were nearly half as many fake games as there were real games. The current 25 percent ratio is a godsend compared to that.

I won’t get into a discussion of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the NFL’s antitrust exemption and what each of those have to do with the NFL preseason. That’s a little complicated for me.

Like everything else, though, the six preseason games from the 1970s were all about the money. For the owners, anyway…which is no different than the four preseason games played now.

Then, as now, the players just got a per diem for an exhibition game, like any other day of training camp. Then, as now, the players didn’t get paid their salaries until the regular season.

There were certain teams, like the Dallas Cowboys, that used their exhibition season as a type of barnstorming tour, not unlike professional teams might have done much earlier in the 20th century. The Cowboys once played preseason games (in one month) in Seattle, San Antonio, Louisville and Pendleton, Ore. Cities and municipalities invited them, and the Cowboys would have been silly to turn them away. They were a touring spectacle, making towns happy and the owners rich. The games created some kind of occasion, something for fans somewhere to be excited about.

For a while, even after the schedule changed to four preseason games in 1978, some of those games would still head to neutral sites. I remember being in the crowd of 60,000 at Memorial Stadium on August 28, 1992, when Dan Marino (briefly) and the Dolphins played the Saints.

Both coaches (Don Shula and Jim Mora) once served as head coaches for teams in Baltimore.

Was the football better than any of today’s preseason games? I’m sure it wasn’t. I’m quite positive that neither team really wanted to be there. At the very least, though, there was something interesting about it.

Today…

Of course, NFL players do a lot better now in terms of sharing revenue and have an expertly-negotiated collective bargaining agreement.

The world can be an amazingly lucrative place for an NFL player, even if it’s only for a few years. But he still doesn’t get paid for paying in preseason games!

So, that’s one thing. It’s not right to say the players are out there “for free,” but it is right to question their motivation to be there, especially for the 90-ish percent of the roster that already knows it’ll make the team.

Back to the Sherman Act…more than a few fans have sued the NFL in recent times, alleging that making a customer pay for preseason games in order to buy season tickets is in violation. You know—why do I have to pay full price, or any price, for something that’s not the same thing? None of those lawsuits has gone anywhere, as far as I know.

So, that’s another thing, and it’s a big one. Even Roger Goodell knows that what the fans are getting is, um, crap, though you must remember who his bosses are and what makes the world go ‘round.

The biggest problem with the NFL preseason, though, is that’s it’s simply outdated.

As noted before, coaches and the front office are making their decisions on players separately from performance in these “games.” Does a sixth-rounder kick a second-rounder’s butt sometimes in the preseason? Sure. Does that sixth-rounder usually make the team? No.

What’s the most important discussion surrounding the NFL in recent times? Well, it’s the physical toll the game takes on the life of the men who’ve played, and the studies that attempt to quantify that. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but one thing’s for sure…there’s no appetite for more hitting, more head trauma, or more opportunities for serious injury. And yet, the preseason games go on.

None of these things is enough to balance out the money made by teams from these exhibitions, but they’re still worth mentioning.

Tomorrow…

There are many questions about the future of the NFL preseason, though two stick out in my mind.

One is whether the owners would agree to two preseason games, likely only if the number of regular-season games went to 18, thus keeping the same number of $$$ opportunities for each team at 10 per year.

The other is if the “joint practice” thing will start to become a bigger deal than it is now. I’m one that believes it should.

That’s my preseason idea for the NFL. Each team plays two preseason games, and each team has two joint practices, each of which takes two days. The joint practices would take place during the weeks in which teams are not playing preseason games.

Maybe a joint practice in what’s now preseason Week 1, followed by a game the next week, then another joint practice in Week 3, followed by the second preseason game in Week 4. Unlike what happens now, the joint practice wouldn’t be with the team you’re playing in a couple days, though I don’t see why the Ravens couldn’t hold a joint practice with the Redskins on Monday/Tuesday of Week 1, and then play the Redskins on the Thursday of Week 2.

For the teams that have fans at training camp, perhaps there’d be a way to jazz up the experience for the group that happens to be there on joint practice days. It won’t be the experience of a game, but the intimacy of it might be pretty fun.

I understand that not everyone loves the idea of joint practices. The Packers’ had one the other day for the first time in 14 years, and Aaron Rodgers said he wasn’t a fan of the whole thing. Besides that, there are some coaches that are best buds, and others who have issues, the kind that would keep them from agreeing to hold a joint practice unless it was forced on them.

It’s just an idea, is all, a way to allow teams to evaluate their players against outside competition, and one that can be scripted and controlled in ways a regulation football game can’t.

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Sunday
August 11
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#1812



what else can you do but laugh?


I know, I know, I know. "What did you expect? We're in a rebuilding year."

I can hear (read) it all now, people defending another night of embarrassing "professional" baseball by the Orioles, who lost to the Astros on Saturday night, 23-2.

"But you were the guy who signed up for this back in March," I'll be reminded time and time again. "Remember, you wrote that on your website. You were OK with tearing it all apart and starting over."

That's right. I was. And I'm not saying it was the wrong way to go about it now, either. That said, I had no idea we were going to lose 23-2, 15-1, 14-3 and so on.

And just like people who are OK with losing like that have the right to look the other way, folks have the right to cringe and say, "This is garbage."

We're starting to understand how those folks in Cleveland felt...

This is garbage.

As Bruce Springsteen wrote in one of his epic lyrical masterpieces -- Rosalita -- "Someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny..." And I'm hoping that's true. (I almost wrote "I'm praying that's true" but a lot of the country gets offended these days when the words pray, prayer or praying are used).

I do hope that day comes when we can look back on all of this and say, "Remember back in 2019 when the Orioles were routinely losing by double digits? That was a real hoot, wasn't it?" We'd be saying that, of course, at the World Series parade in 2023 after the O's beat the Phillies, 4-games-to-1.

For now, though, the dreams of a World Series are distant. I mean, really distant. As in, boy, I don't know if it's really going to happen.

Yes, we have Adley Rutschman and a bunch of other kids in Bowie and Frederick who are hopefully going to pan out and be the real deal. And there's a reason to be excited for the future.

But in the meantime, what we're left with is this collection of misfits (mostly) who, at least once a week, get their hats handed to them in a way that reminds us all what happens to a sports organization when they intentionally put out an inferior product.

And please don't be that Sunday Morning Moron who says "They're not intentionally putting out an inferior product." Yes, they most certainly are. And if that's what "rebuilding" is, that's all well and good. But if the Orioles were on trial and the charge was "putting out an inferior product", their attorney would suggest they take the Alford plea and beg for the mercy of the court.

Get this: It's August 11 today. The Orioles have allowed 10-plus runs in 22 games this season. They'll easily allow 10 runs or more in 30 games by the time the season ends.

And this is coming from a team that beat the Indians 13-0 on back to back nights last month. Remember those days? They were a blast.

By the way, just for kicks and giggles, I checked on the Tigers, who have the worst record in baseball at 35-79. They've allowed 10-plus runs on only 12 occasions this season. That seems almost impossible. Really good teams allow double digits a dozen times a season.

So, yes, I signed up for the rebuilding. I knew we were going to be bad. But I don't think I would have believed you had you told me the Orioles were going to be this rotten. I mean, this is Cleveland Browns circa 2015 kind of terrible. Maybe worse, if that's possible.

23-2 isn't a loss. It's a throttling. It's the varsity vs. the junior varsity. The men against the boys. It's...embarrassing.

You might say, "Who cares what the scores are? A loss is a loss is a loss. Maybe. But there's something about turning the TV on in the 4th inning and seeing a 10-1 score vs. turning it on and seeing a 3-1 score. One game you watch...the other, you don't.

Then again, when it got to 20-1 last night, I quickly flipped the game back on, thinking "tonight might be the night when the Astros throw up a 31-spot on the O's and win 31-1."

We'd all be able to laugh at that someday, too, hopefully.

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the guy who says he doesn't play slow...


I've been around a lot of slow golfers in my day and there's almost one thing they all do equally. When a discussion ensues about slow play, they're generally the first ones to say, "I know I don't play slow..."

Now, I'm the first to admit that I play quickly. And, if I'm being honest, I probably play too fast. That's been an issue for me for a long time. I'd like to take longer -- and should -- and better prepare myself for the shot I'm about to hit, but I'm just not able to do it.

So when I get ready to roast Bryson DeChambeau here in just a second, it's coming from a guy who plays fast. I'm noting that ahead of time.

I like DeChambeau as a player. I think he's one of our better young Americans. But his slow play on the PGA Tour has become so outrageous that it's time for the TOUR to do something. Like, now.

DeChambeau's latest brush with taking forever happened on Friday during the second round of The Northern Trust. He took nearly two full minutes to hit an 8-foot putt (see video below). That was just one example. There were several others.



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Predictably, the former U.S. Amateur champion defended himself on Saturday as the social media buzzsaw nipped at him. TOUR players Eddie Pepperell and Ian Poulter had a go at him, as did former PGA Champion Rich Beem. DeChambeau sniped back.

“When people start talking to me about slow play and how I'm killing the game, I'm doing this and that to the game, that is complete and utter you-know-what,” DeChambeau said after Saturday's round. “The TOUR defines it as the amount of time it takes to hit a shot. But the problem with that is that there's people walking and other people in the group that are walking to the next shot and there's other people that are getting numbers, right. It takes them time to do stuff.”

Spoken like a guy who plays slow and wants to talk about other players that he thinks play slow.

Here's how I see this now.

DeChambeau is so flagrantly running up against the letter of the law as it relates to slow play that he's really, really close to cheating.

Yes, cheating.

It's not cheating the way it would be if you move your ball in the rough after discovering you have an awful lie. But it's cheating in that DeChambeau knows he's slow, know he's taking too long, and knows his fellow competitors aren't able to play at a more comfortable pace because he's taking too friggin' long.

He's not technically cheating...but he's awfully close to it.

And here's the thing. I think DeChambeau does a lot of this slow play stuff because he's trying to cement his status as one of the TOUR's most celebrated "deep thinkers". He's done a good job of branding himself as "a mad scientist"...and playing slow and lining up putts for two minutes connects well with that theory. After all, who else takes two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt but someone who knows more than everyone else, right?

In the end, I can't imagine for a second that playing slow is actually helping DeChambeau. Sure, he's probably always been on the slow side and he was a great college player and highly decorated amateur before joining the TOUR three years ago. In other words, playing slow didn't hamper him back then. But it's one thing to be playing college golf against Northwestern and Vanderbilt and something completely different to be teeing it up for a million bucks every week. And, let's not forget, everyone else is playing for that same money.

So if DeChambeau's slow play is indeed impacting other golfers, there's only one thing left to do. The TOUR has to start penalizing him. He can complain (which he will), show video clips (which he will), blame stuff like his caddie (which he will) and the wind (which he will) and all it means is he's trying to deflect the criticism away from the guy who deserves it -- him.

And here's the last thing he needs to realize. Unless he's an automatic (via points) member of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams in the future, captains are going to think twice about adding him as a pick. When no one else on the team wants you, you're in big trouble.

Good golf or not, DeChambeau is teetering on becoming a villain on the PGA Tour. I don't think he wants that. And while "villain" might be too strong, it is what it is. He's the circuit's most disliked guy at this point.

And that makes Patrick Reed happy, if nothing else.

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Saturday
August 10
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#1811



saturday musings


There's no way Antonio Brown is telling the truth, right?

The Oakland Raiders wide receiver is reportedly going to sit out the 2019 NFL season if he's not allowed to wear the helmet of his choice, one that he was permitted to wear a season ago but might not be on the league's "approved list" in 2019.

I had no idea there were even different kinds of helmets, frankly. I mean, I know the facemasks are shaped differently depending on your position, but I didn't know the frame of the helmet wasn't uniformed across the league.

And Brown apparently prefers the one he wore in 2018 so much he won't play in 2019 unless he can use it.

I'm sure Jon Gruden is thrilled with his new talent.

"OK, so here's the list of the guys not practicing today, coach," says the trainer.

"Smith, groin. Johnson, hamstring. Jones, shoulder. Brown, helmet."

It will be interesting to see how long Brown plays this game. I'm sure he's dedicated to the cause, that is right up until he starts losing money. Then, I'm guessing, he'll get with the program.

If he sits out, I'll be back here to say I was wrong. I can't imagine the Raiders are overly concerned. Antonio Brown isn't missing a football game because he doesn't like the helmet the league is making him wear this season.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns are one of the NFL's pre-season heart throbs.

They are really getting worked up about the Browns in Cleveland after just one pre-season game. Baker Mayfield and Company beat the Redskins on Thursday night, 30-10.

Mayfield threw one touchdown on his only drive of the game, a fact Cleveland football fans reveled in for nearly an hour afterwards on Twitter.

I get it. After two decades of pretty awful football, the Browns look like they're on the uptick again. And, for once, it appears as if they made the right call by selecting Mayfield in April of 2018.

But Browns fans are acting like it's a done deal they'll be playing for the AFC title in late January. To read their work on social media, you'd think the AFC North is already locked up.

I think Cleveland will be a thorn in everyone's side this year. I'm guessing they're going to contend for a playoff spot, in fact. But by no means am I ready to just hand them the division...especially after just one pre-season game where hardly no starters saw more than a couple of series' of action.

I wonder if Ravens fans are that cocky and sure of themselves? I don't see that kind of bravado in my circle of friends, but there might be people out there who just presuppose the purple birds are a slam dunk to play January football.

And I definitely don't put any stock in "exhibition football", despite the fact the Ravens have now won 14 straight pre-season games dating back to 2015.

I mean, if the pre-season mattered, Jacksonville football fans would already know they don't have to save for playoff tickets this season. The Jaguars were pathetic on Thursday night. But August football games have no bearing on September games, as Browns fans would be well served to remember.

Just for kicks, I took a look at the Browns schedule. And here's what I see:

Titans (W), @Jets (L), Rams (L), @Ravens (L), @49er's (L), Seahawks (W), @Patriots (L), @Broncos (W), Bills (W), Steelers (W), Dolphins (W), @Steelers (L), Bengals (W), @Cardinals (W), Ravens (W), @Bengals (W).

That's 10-6. Might be good enough to make the post-season. Or not.

One thing for sure...they're not going 12-4 or 13-3, no matter what the Clevelanders chirp after a meaningless pre-season win over the Redskins.

It appears the tiff between Chris Davis and Brandon Hyde is already a thing of the past. Both men spoke to the media prior to the Orioles loss to the Astros on Friday (I assume they lost...I'm actually writing this at 6:45 pm on Friday evening. The game doesn't start for 20 more minutes) and they came out of it saying the right things.

Short version: "We're all frustrated. We're sorry it happened. We really regret that it occurred in the dugout in full view of fans and TV cameras."

That's really all they need to say.

Chris Davis, despite his on-field woes, is a good man. We know more about him that we do Brandon Hyde, naturally, but it seems like Hyde comes from good stock and the players seemingly get on with him well.

What happened on Wednesday night was just wrong-place, wrong-time kind of stuff. Davis was apparently irritated with his failure to come up with an errant Jonathan Villar throw that led to two runs. He came into the dugout like a wild man, throwing stuff and pitching a fit. Hyde, for whatever reason, didn't appreciate Davis' outburst and said something to him about it. Davis didn't like what was said and, well, you saw the rest.

It was one of those moments where both men probably got up on Thursday morning and said, "What the heck did I do last night?"

Hyde said he texted Davis on Friday morning after the team's off-day on Thursday and asked him to come in and chat. Later, the two emerged from that meeting smiling and saying all the right things.

That's the way it should be. We all do dumb stuff occasionally. Hyde, as the manager, should have taken Davis in the tunnel, out of sight, to admonish him for his outburst. Davis, of course, should have known better than trying to go after his manager in the dugout, no matter the reason. There are just some things you don't do, and putting your manager on the spot like that is one of them.

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tiger's "wd" closes the books on his season


Tiger Woods said after withdrawing from The Northern Trust on Thursday that he's "hopeful" of playing next week's BMW Championship in Chicago.

Color me skeptical. I don't see how a guy who just pulled himself out of an event with a "mild oblique strain" is going to be well enough to tee it up again in six days.

And that's assuming he doesn't play any practice rounds at Medinah before next Thursday's FedEx Cup event.

Here's the skinny: Tiger's season is over.

Tiger Woods grimaces as he hits a shot in Thursday's opening round of The Northern Trust.

It was almost over anyway, of course. There are only two events left after this one...and Woods would have to play well next week in Chicago just to make the field at East Lake for the Tour Championship that starts August 22.

But Tiger's done for 2019.

And, ultimately, it will be remembered for one thing and one thing only. His win at The Masters in April.

Other than his 5th green jacket, though, the 2019 campaign was a collossal failure for Woods. And that's not meant to downplay his 15th major title at The Masters. That was, perhaps, the sports highlight of the year by any athlete in any sport. But once you get past that win, there was nothing else positive about Tiger's campaign.

And it's now very fair to wonder if what we saw at Augusta was his going-away party. Someone noted to me on Twitter yesterday that "Tiger had nothing left in the tank after Augusta." I don't buy that at all. I get it. Winning at Augusta took something out of him, sure. But maybe for a week or two...three tops. It certainly can't still be impacting him now, four months later. Sorry, I buy a lot of things about injuries and surgeries and stuff like that, but I won't buy that the rest of Tiger's 2019 season was "ruined" because he won at Augusta.

I sensed something weird was going on with Woods when he looked so bad at the British Open during the practice rounds. He then labored for 36 holes at Royal Portrush, packed his bags, and told the media, "I can't wait to get home. I'm really tired."

Tired? From what? Two weeks in Thailand with his family in late June couldn't have wiped him out that much, could it?

I understand the complexities of time change and the like. Traveling from the states to Ireland takes some adjusting to, sure. But it's not like Woods is a first-time global traveler. He's been doing that stuff since 1996.

Hearing him whimper, "I'm really tired" was concerning. It tells me he's not into it, for whatever reason. It tells me what he's been doing for the last couple of months was more a labor of love than anything else. It tells me that perhaps Tiger just physically can't bring himself to playing high quality golf any longer.

I'm sure we'll see him again at some point in 2019, whether that's in Japan in October or at his event in December just prior to the Presidents Cup.

But what we don't know is if we'll ever see Tiger play good golf again. A lot has changed since the Sunday afternoon at Augusta four months ago.

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Friday
August 9
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#1810



we already knew this, but anyway...


OK, so I'm pretty sure we knew this before last night's pre-season opener. But I'm bringing it up again today because it's really the only thing from last night's Ravens 29-0 win over Jacksonville that stood out to me.

The NFL has to get rid of pre-season football.

It's awful.

I mean, it's not "awful" because the football is terrible or most of the players you'll see over the four games are fringe guys at best.

It's awful because you have to pay to watch it, pay to park, pay to drink beer, pay to eat chicken tenders and pay for anything else. No, no, no, I'm not going Bernie Sanders on you and suggesting it all be free of charge. I'm simply saying the juice isn't worth the squeeze when it comes to pre-season football.

Lamar Jackson saw limited duty on Thursday, threw a touchdown pass, and got out of there healthy. That's a pre-season "win" if there ever was one.

It's a lousy, lousy product for what you pay for in return.

The players certainly have little interest in playing, particularly the 50 or so guys who have a roster spot already locked up. It might be beneficial for that 23-for-3 battle that goes on among guys trying to get a paycheck for the upcoming season, but other than that, pre-season football does nothing for nearly everyone on the team.

But, just like the players wouldn't want two or four games removed from their salaries, owners don't want two home games taken away from them, either.

Somehow, though, there has to be a new idea floated that eliminates these games, or reduces them at the very least.

The teams use the two pre-season games as "operational dry runs", so they do see a benefit from August football. It's where they'll tie up loose ends at the entrances, work on the pre-game introductions, and, in general, tighten up everything about the game presentation for the eight home games that matter.

But other than that...there's just no value to playing football in August and charging people money for it.

Last night's crowd reflected a malaise for August football that's been around for several years now. The stadium was 75% empty at kick-off, but long lines at the entrance gates were the cause of that. By the end of the first quarter, 60% of the seats were filled.

Not many people, ticket owners or not, were interested in going last night on what amounted to a perfect late-summer evening in Baltimore. And who can blame them?

I realize I'm howling at the moon. The owners aren't giving up two home games anytime soon. They might reduce pre-season football from four games to two games -- and that would be a good start -- but they're not losing $30 million in revenue because August games are boring and without fanfare. They're just not taking that leap.

My one suggestion might be this: Do more of the team vs. team week-long practice sessions and charge people money to come and see those. Frankly, I'd rather fork over $50 or $60 to bring my son out to one of those events than I would a game, anyway. It won't equal $30 million, though. And that's the problem.

But the real problem is this: No one likes pre-season football. We all just endure it while we wait for Labor Day and the real thing to come around.

And for reasons I can't quite explain, we don't have this same "blah" feeling about spring training baseball. Maybe it's because the tickets for a spring training game are $10, $15 and $25 instead of $15, $35 and $85. Perhaps it's the celebration of winter ending and spring arriving. I don't know. But I know this: We like spring training baseball and don't like pre-season football.

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augusta was great, but the rest...not so much


It might have been fitting that a weather-related scheduling quirk meant that Tiger Woods played the first nine holes on Thursday in front of no gallery.

He didn't produce any golf worth seeing in the first two hours.

Because of a series of bad storms on Tuesday night that caused substantial damage to the facility at Liberty National, the TOUR wanted to make sure everything was safe before allowing fans onto the property. Rather than opening the gates at 8 am, they decided to open them at 10 am, which meant players in the "morning wave" would be playing in front of no one for their opening holes.

By the time people starting trickling in on Thursday morning, Tiger was shooting four-over par on the opening nine holes and digging himself a ditch that would have been big enough for Jimmy Hoffa.

A first-round score of 75 has Tiger near the back of the pack in the opening FedEx Cup event.

And that's how he ended the day (+4, 75) on a course that was primed for low scoring thanks to daily rain throughout the week. Four over when the leader is nine under...means you're pretty much done on day one.

That's pretty much how Tiger's golf has gone since he won the Masters back in April. Lots of so-so golf, some puzzling periods of horrible golf, and a short game that wouldn't impress the club champion at Baltusrol, let alone the best 120 players on the PGA Tour.

On Thursday, he missed three straight greens from inside 140 yards. Add to that a few missed putts within four feet and you have a guy who is on the verge of a quick exit in these FedEx Cup playoffs.

So what's happened to Tiger? How did a guy who won the TOUR Championship last September and then captured his 5th Masters title in April fall this far off the rails? We'll give you five reasons.

1. Scheduling quandry -- Tiger has spent most of the season picking and choosing his tournaments, and he's done far more "resting" than "playing" since winning at Augusta. And he says it's intended to be that way, citing an arduous schedule in the summer and fall of 2018 as a learning lesson about playing too much.

And therein lies the rub. The less he plays, the more his golf game erodes. The more he plays, the higher the chances of re-injuring his surgically repaired back. It's quite the catch-22. He needs to play more to stay sharp, but the more he plays, the risk of injury is greater.

2. Too many par 5 bogeys -- From 1998 through 2008, Woods made birdie on a whopping 67% of the par-5 holes he played. In 2018 and 2019, Tiger birdied 34% of them. That's an eye opener, to say the least. That could be traced to his poor wedge play, bad putting, or a combination of both. In any case, his inability to make birdie on par 5 holes has really set Woods back over the last two years.

Golf wise, this is the thing that has changed in Tiger's game. Whether he lost his putting nerve during his 3-year "downtime" (2015-2017) or his back won't hold up under the pressure of bending over for the short wedge shots, Woods has really labored on the par 5 holes over the last two seasons.

3. Physical issues? -- There's no doubt Tiger 2019 isn't anywhere near as healthy as, say, Tiger 2012. He just can't do the same things now, at 43, that he could at 33 or 36, even. While he typically doesn't make any public declarations about his health, he gives off enough hints to show that he's certainly nowhere near 100%.

The interesting thing about Tiger's golf game in 2019 is this: Length off the tee is not an issue for him. He drives it fine these days, as the TOUR kept stats show. You'd think a guy with limited physical ability and a sketchy back would see his length off the tee diminish, but that hasn't been the case with Woods. It's the shorter clubs that are hurting him the most.

But this, to me, seems to be the most significant issue Tiger is facing: I think he's hiding the severity of a current injury he's dealing with, whether it's just by-product of those four back surgeries or something new.

4. When all you mainly focus on are the majors... -- There's no doubt Tiger's sights these days are mostly on the four major championships. Sure, he still likes to compete for the other "big ones" like The Players or The Memorial and he'd love to win a third FedEx Cup title just to say he did it. But he's essentially creating his season-long golf schedule around the four majors. And when you do that, the odds of you winning *something* significantly decrease.

Gary Woodland tries too, you know. So does Shane Lowry. And Brooks Koepka. It's hard enough to win any tournament on the TOUR, let alone one of the four. Remember this...these GREAT players (and they're among the 10 best players in the world) all only have one major title: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott and Justin Rose. In other words, it's hard for them to win a major, too. So when Woods puts all of his winning eggs in four baskets, he's really running a high risk of losing four times.

5. Maybe Augusta is "it" now -- It's definitely possible that Tiger's best chance for winning any tournament, major or otherwise, will come around every April at Augusta. They've lengthened it about as much as they can, save for a planned 25 yard extension at #13 sometime soon. Woods will always know those greens, always know the quirks and bounces, and, for the most part, can compete there well into his 50's providing he stays healthy.

This year is proof positive of that, basically. He didn't do much of anything in February or March. Then he won the Masters. Didn't play again until the PGA, where he stunk it up. Sat out until The Memorial, where he played decently, but didn't really contend. Then played OK at Pebble Beach but was again bothered by a ragged short game. Stunk at the British Open. And fired a shabby 75 yesterday in the first FedEx Cup event.

It could be this simple: Augusta might be his zenith every year. And he could definitely win there a couple of more times. But can he win anywhere else? That's really the question...

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Thursday
August 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1809



oh, so now davis finally wants to hit something?


Well, that happened.

The Orioles not only lost to the Yankees on Wednesday night, 14-2, but they became a trending subject on Twitter and a national sports story when Chris Davis and manager Brandon Hyde were involved in a skirmish in the bottom of the 5th inning.

"Skirmish" seems like a fair way to characterize what happened in the dugout. Davis had made a less than stellar effort on a throw in the dirt at first base in the top of the 5th. Later in the bottom half of that inning, Hyde said something to him, Davis was immediately irritated, and the first baseman had to be restrained by teammates as Hyde walked down the dugout tunnel.

It's rare to see a manager and player go at it like that during the game, in full view of everyone, so naturally folks around Baltimore and the national baseball scene are making a big deal out of it.

Here's the thing: It's not really a big deal.

The Orioles are 38-76 after last night's 14-2 smashing, which saw the Yankees hit five home runs. My guess is Brandon Hyde has had his fill of these weekly double-digit beatings. I mean, if you're losing 4-1 or 7-5 that's one thing. But the 10-3, 14-2 and 15-6 thrashings have become commonplace this season and I'm sure Hyde is tired of seeing it.

Brandon Hyde and Chris Davis let their emotions get the best of them in Wednesday night's 14-2 Orioles loss to the Yankees.

Davis, of course, is enduring a second consecutive awful season. In fairness to him, the lackluster effort on the ball in the dirt last night is one of the rare times this season he's been out of sorts defensively. But at the plate, he's baseball's version of Charlie Brown trying to kick a field goal. The harder he tries, the worse he gets.

So you have a manager in his first big league season who has a 40-man roster that has -- and I'm being generous here -- eight real Major League players. They're on pace to lose 110 games. He sees a guy making $23 million a year who has fewer hits than Vanilla Ice. And in the midst of another game where his pitching staff gives up a home run every inning, he sees said 23 million dollar guy half-jake a throw to first base. Result...the skipper finally snaps.

And who can blame him, really? I mean, do you want your manager scuffling with players in the dugout? Of course not. But at some point, if you have any pride at all, you simply can't tolerate the kind of garbage the players produce on a nightly basis.

After the game, Hyde said he was embarrassed that the episode was caught on camera. He said the right things, using the words we imagined he would: "tempers boiled over", "frustration" and "hopefully this brings us closer".

Former MLB cacher J.P. Arencibia lashed out at Hyde on Twitter after last night's incident, claiming the players can't be thrilled at hearing their manager openly criticize them in post-game press conferences and media sessions. To wit, Hyde earlier this week said, "Look, these other teams are just much better than us. There's no other way to say it." Arencibia took issue with that, for some bizarre reason. What's the manager supposed to do...lie? At some point, the players have to own a measure of accountability. The manager can't just keep saying, "You know, we have some really good men in this locker room."

Davis, of course, is probably the most frustrated guy on the team. He made it a point in the off-season to talk about a new approach and vowed to turn things around after a horrific 2018 that saw him hit just .168 with 12 home runs. Nothing much has changed in 2019. The first baseman/DH is hitting .182 with 9 HR and 31 RBI to date. Finishing the campaign above .200 would be nearly a remarkable accomplishment. For $23 million a year, remember.

It's easy to pile on Davis because of the money and the guaranteed contract, but getting pinch hit for in the middle of the game is almost always not going to sit well with a major leaguer, .182 average or not. And then when the skipper throws a one-liner at you in front of the team...well, that might be too much for anyone to accept.

So you have two incredibly frustrated competitors...and something finally had to give. Davis would be well served to watch the video of the ball he -- ahem -- "tried" to field in the top of the 5th. It looks, shall we say, suspicious at best. It was the kind of effort that earned Roger Dorn a visit from Jake Taylor in the movie Major League.

And once Hyde saw that fifth inning effort, he finally blew a gasket.

I'm sure the skipper regrets having the whole thing exposed on television, which then means it gets over-exposed on social media. But then again, it might not be all that bad for the manager to snap once in a while, just to show the boys in the dugout that he really is paying attention.

In the end, what happened on Wednesday night is nothing when compared to the current 38-76 "product" we've been watching all season. I mean, seriously, what's worse? Davis and Hyde blowing up on each other or David Hess getting shelled for the 19th time this season? I don't see anything more "regrettable" than, say, this dude Tayler Scott who has a 14.29 ERA and gives up so many home runs at Camden Yards that Boog's Barbeque had to take out an additional insurance policy. If you're mad at Davis and Hyde, I'd love to know your emotional reaction to Mychal Givens and the eight games he's given away this season with late-inning meltdowns.

Last place stinks. Hitting .180 does, too. At some point, the people involved in those two situations were going to crack. It was only a matter of time. That it took this long to boil over is really a testament to everyone's professionalism and patience.

It seems like just yesterday the Orioles were wheeling Brandon Hyde around in a shopping cart in the locker room at Yankee Stadium after the O's gave him his first managerial win back in March.

Now...they're fighting with that same man in the dugout.

Baseball is a long, long season.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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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.


words matter


I offer this to you today not so much as a political or social commentator — of which you can find many — or as an expression of grief — of which you can find too many to count these days — or as some kind of call to action — because many (most?) of you do more good for the world than I’ve ever done.

I offer it to you only as a writer, and as a reader, since I’ve never met a decent writer who got that way without being an observant reader first.

Words matter.

Yes, the words of the President — from the first to the 45th — matter. So do the words of teachers and coaches, parents and grandparents, our friends and acquaintances, even the great fiction writers from William Shakespeare to John Grisham. I try to choose my words very carefully — you’d be surprised how much each one matters to me — yet I often wish I’d chosen differently after it’s too late.

This issue came alive yet again late last week in Annapolis, in a seemingly harmless newspaper piece written by Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette. The Navy football captains get to decide on a motto—a slogan, really — for each season. This year’s foursome, Wagner wrote, decided on a three-word slogan as one of their first orders of business this summer.

“Load the Clip.”

Navy football players created a slogan for 2019 that was met with resistance last week. To their credit, they quickly changed it.

These were three words…just three. A “clip,” in case you don’t know, is a device used to store multiple rounds of ammunition as a unit, allowing easier loading or reloading of a firearm.

These words were decided upon by four young men looking to inspire their teammates, many of whom will join the Marine Corps after graduation and while doing so will carry a powerful automatic weapon. Some of them will no doubt work in law enforcement after leaving the military. Clearly, these words were meant as a metaphor, one about a team coming off an unusually poor (3-10) season being better prepared for the fight in 2019.

And yet, they were the wrong words.

Now, the response to “Load the Clip,” once it became public, was swift and somewhat predictable. By the next day, the new Academy superintendent announced that it had been dropped as the team motto. The athletic director and head coach each talked about lessons learned. The captains themselves gave a quick and sincere apology and said that “Win the Day” was the new choice of motto. On to Holy Cross in four weeks.

In all likelihood, none of that would have happened without Wagner’s piece, so go ahead and blame the media if you want. In his defense, five of his friends were killed last year at the newspaper office down the street from the Navy Marine-Corps Stadium. Also, in his defense, his was a straight news piece that quoted coaches and players; he made no attempt to editorialize.

Like I said before, though, I’m not going to try to get inside anyone’s head. I want to talk about words.

Words are powerful, even just a few of them. They can mean different things to different people of different ages, backgrounds and educations. Words can be, no pun intended, “loaded.” Just one wrong word can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. I think most of us would agree on all that.

As a writer, however, what I’ve learned is something more important, and maybe even more controversial…I’m not only accountable for what I’m intending to say, but also for how my words might be perceived.

The Navy football captains learned it the hard way.

Maybe that wasn’t fair to them; they were just coming up with a few words of fighting spirit, right? They’ve been doing that in Annapolis since 1845, after all. And go ahead and comment about political correctness all you want; as I said, I’m not talking about that here.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

You can be careless and lazy with words, even if you’ve never used an expletive or slur in your life. Understand that and take it to heart.

If you have the time, you ought to think about the context or situation you’re in before you say anything, or before you react to something said.

You can use words and phrases incorrectly without even knowing you’re doing so. Sometimes, you need another person to tell you that.

And finally, it’s a good habit to consider all of that before you speak or write, for a public audience or otherwise. Why wouldn’t you want what you’re meaning to say to be as close as possible to what the other person is hearing or reading?

There are no fail-safes, of course. No matter how much you think about the words you use, you’ll never be able to control other people’s reactions, especially in the moment.

So, go ahead and do the best you can, and remember another reason why words matter…

Words, of course, lead to actions.

Certainly, you’ll hear that from religious people all the time, perhaps the power of a devotional or sermon to spur a listener or congregant on to some change in his or her life. In the workplace, the best leaders always seem to find the right words to motivate groups and individuals to be more productive.

Taking it back to sports, some of our favorite movie scenes — whether based on real life or entirely fictional — are those where inspirational words provide the impetus for incredible feats. Norman Dale took his team out onto the court at Butler Fieldhouse, Ollie got up on Strap’s shoulders with a tape measure and Coach Dale said, “I think you’ll find these exact same measurements at our gym back in Hickory.”

Remember Kurt Russell as the late Herb Brooks? “If we played ‘em ten times,” he told his guys in Lake Placid, “they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.”

Goosebumps every time. All great, even if they were embellished a bit for entertainment purposes. But this isn’t all about remarkable speeches and sporting triumphs, or eminent leaders and religious awakenings.

It’s about everyday life. The words that people read and hear every day influence the decisions they make from the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep.

“Load the Clip” was supposed to be something internal, of course, a team motto that might have gotten onto a t-shirt but was never meant for public consumption. And there certainly was nothing sinister behind Navy’s team captains continuing a recent tradition. They did nothing wrong.

It’s better, however, that those three words saw the light of day. It was a reminder that words don’t exist in a silo, cut off from the rest of the world. They matter more than that, and all of us should try to remember that every day and with everything we say.

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Wednesday
August 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1808



depending on who you believe...


We've written here before about The Athletic and its potential for success. A few years of publishing later -- and with $90 million filtered through since 2015 -- it would appear they might be on the verge of really "making it".

In case you don't know, The Athletic is a subscription-based internet sports website that publishes both national and territorial stories. The Baltimore Athletic site obviously provides in-depth coverage of the Ravens and Orioles. "Subscription-based", in case you're wondering, is the fancy way of saying "pay to read".

The website costs you roughly $50 a year if you buy it in advance. Or if you want to pay for it monthly, it can run you $5.00 for 30/31 days of reading.

And the athletic is advertiser free, by the way.

All of it adds up to this: The Athletic now says they're reaching a profit-making stage in many cities across the country. Analysts, however, don't see how that's possible. So, the cat-and-mouse game begins, as the website claims they're doing great to keep investors happy, while people who follow those things for the investors are wondering if it's all being done with smoke and mirrors.

The head honchos at The Athletic say they've reached 500,000 subscribers, which we can only assume are "paid" readers. In that case, given simple math that even a Flyers fan could (probably) do, it's safe to assume that the sports website is bringing in roughly $2.5 million monthly, or about $30 million annually.

But industry sources suggest the website is now well over $50 million annually in expenses, which, again, using basic math (Flyers fans are welcome to reach for their calculators at any time -- we won't judge you), says The Athletic has to add 400,000 new subscribers at $50 each to make up that $20 million annual deficit.

Launched in 2015, The Athletic now offers territorial coverage across the country.

And they have to add those 400,000 new folks without increasing their expenses, remember. Otherwise, if expenses go up, more new subscribers will be needed.

It took them four years to get 500,000 people to sign up and buy their product. With that in mind, how long would it take to add another 400,000 readers?

Who knows...

The key to their "success" -- if you want to call it that -- hasn't been the subscribers. The key has been the $90 million that The Athletic has been able to secure from venture capital folks all over the country. With that kind of money to burn, how can you goof it all up?

Personally, I'm not a subscriber. But that has nothing to do with not wanting to pay $5.00 monthly to a website that writes about sports. $5.00 is a fancy cup of coffee at you-know-where. Or one less beer at Eagle's Nest every month. It's not about the $5.00. It's more a case of simply not having enough interest in what I perceive is being offered. Which is, mostly, just the same old stuff you'll find throughout the day at some other site that doesn't charge $5.00.

It's the same reason I gave up my web-subscription to The Sun. They were rarely writing something that I didn't already know or couldn't get free of charge elsewhere. You can call it "shabby reporting" if you want. I'm not 100% certain that's exactly what it was as far as I was concerned. But I found myself reading stuff on The Sun website and saying, "I already knew this happened..."

"Free" is still better than "paid", any day. If you walk into Royal Farms this morning and put your coffee up on the counter and the woman behind the counter says, "It's free today", that's far better than you giving her $2.00. Right? Right.

People still to this day ask me why I don't charge $1.99 or $2.99 a month for #DMD. "Everyone's doing it," a friend said to me last month when we were discussing our respective businesses. Maybe "everyone" is doing it (newspapers, online magazines, ESPN.com, etc. all have a pay-to-read part of their enterprise), but I still think "free" beats "paid", so free we're going to stay. I know this for certain. If The Sun website was free to click on and read, I'd do that every single day. Case in point, in guess.

But the one thing The Athletic does have that most certainly gives value to their $5.00 monthly fee is an elite stable of writers. They have some of the best in the country, whether it's daily "beat" reporting of your favorite team or long-form writing and feature'ish kind of stuff.

For that alone, just the quality of their writers, I'd guess you get your money's worth if you give them $50 a year.

The question still looms, though: Will enough people in the country (likely around one million) pay $5.00 every month to read sports coverage? Thus far, the numbers suggest 500,000 subscribers is roughly 60% of what they need. Where are the other 400,000? And don't forget, if 25,000 people go away at the end of the year because of whatever reason(s), now you have to bring in 425,000 new people instead of just 400,000.

It's a daunting task. It always was, of course. But I still say The Athletic has a puncher's chance of success based solely on their ability to hire the best writers. Content is king, as the saying goes in the media world, and if you build it, they will come.

I also think some of their success or lack thereof can be tracked on a city-by-city basis. Baltimore, for example, doesn't have much to write about, really. But New York? And Boston? And Chicago? You have 40 sports teams and major colleges in those three markets. There's plenty to cover and write about there, plus a larger potential reader/subscriber base from which to draw.

In Baltimore, you write about the Ravens, Orioles and maybe the Terps, although my guess is the Terps are mostly covered by The Athletic - Washington D.C.. In Philadelphia, you write about the Phillies, Eagles, 76'ers, the last place hockey team, the MLS Union, Villanova, St. Joseph's and Temple.

$5.00 in Baltimore to read about two teams? Might be fair. $5.00 in Philadelphia to read about all of their teams? Definitely fair. But I'll say it again. The writers make a huge difference. Jeff Zrebiec covers the Ravens for Baltimore's version of The Athletic. He's an outstanding reporter and equally capable writer. But you better like the Ravens or the NFL...because that's all you get from him.

In the end, the jury's still out on The Athletic. One thing for sure, though: No one else has come along and tried to duplicate or rival what they do at The Athletic. That either shows just hard it is to make it work...or how afraid everyone else is of going toe-to-toe with them...especially when they don't have $90 million in the coffers waiting to be spent.

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MR. EYES
on the ravens


It's always good to have someone else looking out for you. That's exactly what "Mr. Eyes" does for #DMD. While he's making big bucks working for a Baltimore media entity, "Eyes" does some moonlight Ravens reporting for #DMD and takes short-game lessons from Drew instead of a paycheck.


Things are changing at camp these days, as jobs are now on the line, players are coming and going, and the coaching staff spends a portion of each day pointing out guys who aren't doing their jobs the right way.

Tomorrow night's first pre-season game vs. Jacksonville probably won't tell us much. Coach Harbaugh won't even say who is starting yet. But the last ten days of camp have been revealing in several ways I'll highlight below.

Through my lens, Jimmy Smith is not having a great training camp. He was beat several times on Tuesday by Jacksonville receivers in the combined practice session out at Owings Mills. Maybe the veteran cornerback is just pacing himself and trying to avoid one of those nagging August injuries, but I haven't been overly impressed with him over the last week or so. It seems almost every day he's getting beat by a throw across the middle or down the field.

Hayden Hurst got off to a slow start but he has enjoyed a nice camp since the calendar flipped from July to August. He made a couple of nice catches last Friday in practice and did so again on Tuesday. He looks leaner than he he did last year, which might explain some of the separation we've been seeing him get this week. His hands look improved as well.

Could Mark Andrews be on the verge of a breakout season in his 2nd year with the Ravens?

If you asked me right now who is having the best camp of any player on the roster, I'd say "Mark Andrews" without hesitation. I'm not saying he's going to be the next Rob Gronkowski or Tony Gonzalez, but I'll make a prediction: I think Andrews will be an All-Pro tight end within two or three seasons. And I wouldn't be shocked to see him make the Pro Bowl in 2019. Seriously. I haven't seen him do anything except excel throughout this entire training camp. He's a great route runner, will fight for every ball, and has very natural instincts.

I'd say Lamar Jackson has been good throughout training camp, with patches of "really good" along the way, mixed in with an occasional poor throw or decision. But let's be clear: He is so much better right now than he was at this time last year. His throws are more precise, more confident and definitely more professional. And despite his reputation as a running quarterback, it's also very clear that Lamar enjoys throwing the football and wants to throw it. He'd rather throw than run, I believe.

Michael Pierce has gone from the doghouse to the penthouse. After being expelled from mini-camp 8 weeks ago for being about 50 pounds overweight, he has more than made up for that by returning in much better shape and working hard over the last two weeks. In my eyes, he's been the team's best defensive performer in camp thus far.

Maybe it's me, but I don't see Chris Moore making much progress. The veteran wide receiver figures to have a roster spot locked up, but day after day I don't see him do anything that makes him stand out. I'm not predicting he might be a surprise late August cut, but I also wouldn't be totally shocked if that happened, especially if an inexpensive veteran receiver gets sent packing elsewhere as camps come to a close in a few weeks.

And last but not least, all the rave reviews you've been hearing about Pernell McPhee are true. He's been very good thus far in camp. But as one Ravens staffer said earlier this week. "It's only a matter of time before he runs out of gas. He always does."

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Tuesday
August 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1807



"you're either overrated or underrated..."


Back in the old days on the radio, one of the regular parts of my show was a segment I called "Overrated and Underrated". It's as simple as it sounds. I'd be given a list of names and my task was to assign them a label. They were either overrated. Or underrated.

The tricky part of the game is that you have to choose one or the other. There's no in between. You can't say, "You know, that person is rated just perfectly."

Daily #DMD reader Nick Smearman checked in over the weekend and asked if he could nudge me into doing "Overrated and Underrated" this week. My reply was, "Sure. You give me the names and I'll tell you if they're overrated or underrated."

And just like that, I got ten names yesterday. So "Overrated and Underrated" is back for a day, here at #DMD.

So let's get started...

Jon Rahm -- Look, there are a lot of really good, young golfers on the PGA Tour these days. A large number of them are American kids. But international golf is also providing a few as well. None of them are better than Jon Rahm. The 24-year old is ranked #7 in the world and is having a monster season with 15 cuts made in 17 events. And, get this...he's finished in the top 10 in 10 of those 15 events where he's made the cut, with a win earlier in the year and a T3 at the U.S. Open in June. I have a bad feeling this kid is going to be a thorn in our Ryder Cup side for a long time. He'll win multiple major championships in his career, including at least one Masters green jacket to join fellow countrymen Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia. Jon Rahm is not only UNDERRATED, I could create a new category and say he's "wildly" underrated.

Jim Harbaugh -- Smearman threw me a knuckle-curve with this one, and I'm a fastball hitter. In other words, I'm having trouble coming up with an answer. I love the Harbaugh family. I obviously know John much better than any of the others, although I shared a coffee and a bagel with his dad, Jack, once at the combine in Indianapolis and found him to be a very interesting man. The Harbaugh family is one of the great American football families in our country. But back to the lecture at hand, as Snoop said in Doctor Dre's "Nuthin' But a G Thang". I've never been overly impressed with Jim Harbaugh as a coach. He obviously came within a whisker of winning a Super Bowl in San Francisco, but that's really all he's done, other than make a gazillion dollars. I might be forced to change this opinion of him if Michigan wins a national title someday, but at this point, I think it's clear: Jim Harbaugh is OVERRATED.

C.J. Mosley -- It will probably seem like piling on a bit now that Mosley is in New York, but I was never a huge believer in him. I thought he was a good player, but not really much more than that. I get it. The guy who follows in Ray Lewis' footsteps is bound to have a problem living up to expectations, but Mosley never did it for me. I used that term a lot -- "he's a good player, but nothing more." Now, because even "good" players get paid $50 million in the NFL these days, Mosley took his talents to the free agent market in the off-season and found a willing taker in the Jets. And good for him, I say. But let's not be afraid to call it like it is here. Mosley is most certainly OVERRATED.

Christian Pulisic -- I finally got a fastball from Smears. This one's a breeze. For people who don't follow soccer, you won't really get this. But imagine, if you will, that none of these six modern day NFL quarterbacks ever existed: Dan Marino, John Elway, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Think about the void in the NFL since the 1970's if none of those six played a down in the NFL. And then, consider the impact ONE of those six would then have playing right now as a #1 draft pick. That's precisely what has happened with U.S. Soccer and Christian Pulisic. Since the U.S. first started qualifying for the World Cup on a regular basis back in 1989 (for the '90 World Cup), they've pretty much made 7 of 8 of them with patchwork lineups, really good goalkeeping and one or two outstanding offensive players. But they've never had a world class, international star -- until now. Christian Pulisic, at age 20, is the best American born soccer player this country has ever produced. And it's not even close. Oh, and yes, he's extraordinarily UNDERRATED.

Mark Turgeon -- Oh, man, this one's gonna hurt. I love all coaches. Coaches are, by far, my favorite group of people in all of sports. And I understand that filling the shoes of the great Gary Williams was always going to be a tough task. But I haven't thought highly of Turgeon since the second he arrived in College Park. And not much has changed since then, unfortunately. I think he's had some very talented teams in College Park -- most of which he put together -- with nothing really to show for it. This one's short and sweet. Turgeon is OVERRATED.

Melvin Gordon -- These NFL running backs crack me up. It's like they haven't paid attention to the league for the last 15 years. Running backs are like sand wedges in your golf bag. While they're shiny and new and still have the grooves intact, they're a valuable weapon. Once you've had the same sand wedge for 2 or 3 years and the grooves get worn out, it's time to get a new club, no matter how many great shots you hit with the other one. Melvin Gordon is a sand wedge. He's a terrific running back. But his career span in the NFL is short. He'll have three great years, two good years and a year or two of just hanging on because he's Melvin Gordon. And if he winds up not playing for the Chargers this year because of this silly contract dispute, they'll still figure out a way to win 10 games without him. Sorry to say it, but Gordon's OVERRATED.

Draymond Green -- This was the first one that made me waffle a bit. Smearman's throwing a pretty good game thus far. I like the kind of player Draymond Green represents. He's tough, he's feisty and every week or two, he comes up with a big game and scores 25 points just to remind everyone he's more than a brass-knuckles cheap shot artist. In some ways, I think every championship team needs a Draymond Green. Then I wonder just how his absence would impact the Warriors if he would have gone elsewhere rather than just sign that 4-year $100 million deal. And I think they would have survived just fine. Every quality player makes an impact in his own way, of course, and Green has carved out a nice niche for himself out in Oakland. But he's a part that can be replaced, if necessary. And for that reason, I'd say he's OVERRATED.

Jimmy Smith -- A much needed layup, here. I look at Jimmy Smith the same way I valued C.J. Mosley. He's a "good" player. But not much more than that. Aside from the injuries and the suspensions and getting torched by A.J. Green over the last seven years, Smith has been an important part of the Ravens' defense. But I still don't think he's really become an "elite" cover corner in the NFL. Maybe those are just few and far between these days, but you'd like to think your first round draft pick should be a perennial Pro Bowl player. And Smith's just never been that good. You know where this is heading, of course. He's OVERRATED.

Maroon 5 -- This one's almost unfair. There is no way on this earth that any band with Adam Levine as its lead singer can be anything but UNDERRATED. Someday soon I'm going to do a "Top 10 Male Voices in Music" piece here at #DMD and Levine will be on that list -- and likely high up, too. I know their musical direction has changed a bit over the last decade while they put money in front of achievement, but make no mistake about it, Maroon 5 is, and has always been, underrated.

Royal Farms Fried Chicken -- Wow. Really? Forget the fact that they've been a #DMD marketing partner since day one. I'd call it like it is if you asked me to rank a Wendy's cheeseburger and you won't find their logo here. There are few things in this world that ring the "quality" bell as loudly as does the fried chicken at Royal Farms. I don't know how they do it. I have no idea what it is that makes it so good. But that is darn good chicken right there. Clearly, it's UNDERRATED.

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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.



It's a rough time to be the NCAA right now.

They threatened to basically exclude California schools from postseason competition, at least, if the state legislature went ahead with a bill to give athletes the right to profit from their name, likeness, and image, and the threats seem to have only accelerated the bill's pace. No one seems to really believe the NCAA will follow through with their threat, and no one puts much stock in their claims that they are so working on solving just that problem for their "student athletes." Mark Emmert's term has resulted in an organization that is simultaneously recognized as perfidious and a punchline.

So it's nice that at times like this, the collegiate sports world can come together to celebrate the career of someone as accomplished and monumental as Lou Anna Simon. The former President of Michigan State announced she would be retiring from the faculty this year after a long and distinguished career. Simon became Michigan State's President in 2005, and over a decade later had risen to become one of the highest profile educators in that position….and one the very highest paid as well. Her retirement reflects that, with annual payments over the next three years paying out roughly $7 million to cap her nest egg, a parade of honorific titles being extended as a going away present, and the right to purchase primo seats at all MSU sporting events.

Wait, excuse me, I seem to have buried the lede: Simon is best known as the President who oversaw Michigan State's downright complicit response to former athletic trainer Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of dozens of young women and girls through the gymnastics program. Indeed, Simon's misdeeds extend so far that she's been charged with felony counts of lying to investigators probing Nassar's crimes.

Which is somewhat funny in a "if I don't laugh my head will explode in anger" sort of way, because lying to the cops, while a crime, is one of the milder things Michigan State did to protect Nassar under Simon's watch.

The horrific story of Larry Nassar and the cover-up at Michigan State is still in the news with the recent resignation of the school's longtime President.

The university and its athletic department pulled out all of the stops to defend the man now convicted of multiple child pornography counts and known to have molested hundreds of young gymnasts. A Title IX inquiry was stacked with friends of Nassar, the gymnastics coach, and Nassar's close friend, pressured victims not to report Nassar's misdeeds, and in what remains the single most unbelievable aspect of this whole case to me, a panel of medical personnel, when called on to review Nassar's "treatments," actually signed off on the notion that digital vaginal penetration was a real treatment for knee pain.

There's simply no question that quite a few people at Michigan State knew damn good and well what Nassar was doing and, at best, willfully turned a blind eye to it, At worst, they knew what he was doing, or at least had a good idea, and actively decided to defend him rather than his victims. In any case its unconscionable, to say the least, and it all happened under Simon's watch.

I continue to maintain that what happened at Michigan State was worse than the Jerry Sandusky saga at Penn State, to the extent that you can even parse degrees of wrongness once you hit that level. The number of victims was greater, the number of people who knew, or should have known, what was going on was larger, the institutional coverup by the university of Nassar's behalf was larger (even if make the most negative assumptions about Paterno, there were at least half a dozen different high ranking Michigan State officials who fielding reports of misconduct against Nassar or were aware of them), and Michigan State has done far less to accept responsibility and show remorse for their failings, or even to show compassion to the victims they're responsible to.

Simon's retirement is another great example of how people in power in East Lansing are not only using their clout to evade accountability, but flouting it in the process. Simon could have slithered off quietly under the circumstances, but no, part of the "agreement" was an official press release that would be agreed to by all sides. And in addition to all of that money, Simon actually demanded that the university laud her "service" to the school, as well as the financial donations she and her husband have made.

But the school does reserve the right to not display her Presidential portrait if she's convicted of the criminal charges pending against her.

That will teach them.

This is all par for the course for Michigan State right now, alas. The university's response to the victims of Nassar, including the ones who were assaulted in their own facilities, has been shockingly negative, and even hostile. Former interim President John Engler had to resign after several months for, among other things, accusing Rachael Denhollander, Nassar's first public accuser, of getting kickbacks from her lawyer for additional victims coming forward (Engler used the word "manipulate") and saying the the assaults victims were "enjoying" the spotlight. His tenure was marked by an aggressive legal campaign against Nassar's accusers, and several hundreds of thousand if not millions of dollars spent on public relations consultants to manage the brand's crisis.

Between that and Simon's sendoff for retiring in total disgrace, it's no wonder they're afraid of paying the victims!

Meanwhile, because the NCAA has nothing left if not for their exquisite timing, the day after Simon's retirement was announced, a bipartisan Senate panel announced their findings that the FBI, US Gymnastics, US Olympic Committee, and Michigan State all had opportunities to stop Nassar but "failed to do so." The report goes on to explicitly note that, because of those failings, "dozens" of additional women were abused by Nassar. You would think that basic reality might give everyone at Michigan State, and everyone who associated with them in the Big Ten or even nationally, a bit of pause. If not for condemnation and outrage, than at least for reflection, self-examination, and shame.

But the NCAA has no shame. It can't. Shame would bring the entire enterprise that is 21st century collegiate athletics crumbling down on itself. Participating in the programs, from recruiting to fundraising to spending gobs of money on facilities while the athletes struggle to buy food, requires the ability to suppress any latent sense of shame a person might have in order to actually do the job.

And for the worst of the wretched lot, they don't even have pangs of conscience that keep them up at night. Someone like Lou Anna Simon doesn't even have the common sense or decency to want to keep her name out of the papers despite how horrible the things she's best known for are. Quite the contrary; she wants the attention! She wants you to know how much Michigan State has to pay to be rid of her, wants to hit you over the head with all of those titles, wants to force the school into publicly, laughable, lauding the "good things" she's done. Maybe she'll end up being convicted in court, but she clearly doesn't think so.

And whether she's right or not, Simon will almost certainly get a slap on the wrist, and not even have to suffer a mild delay in enjoying those millions of dollars she just secured.

Oh, and the NCAA itself? Nothing much of consequence to say, or do, about Michigan State. They're too busy trying to make sure that basketball players can't sell their autographs to pay attention to something minor like the ongoing failure of a member university to seriously address this circumstance, and make at least a semblance of redress to assault victims whose assaults they were directly responsible for.

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Monday
August 5
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#1806



you had questions, i have answers


I get lots and lots of questions. Most of them, thankfully, are about sports, although there is a question below about the Dave Matthews Band that I hadn't really thought of myself until Jeff asked it.

So we'll go with #DMD "Q and A" today. I hope you enjoy it. And by all means, when a question pops in your head for me, send it along (drew@drewsmorningdish.com).

Chris R. asks: Had an interesting bar discussion at the beach last week and thought I'd reach out and get your opinion. Who is the most underrated superstar in sports today? (I know that sounds weird. But if you have one, please let me know.)

DF: This one's easy. It's Tom Brady and it's not even close. It seems like every year we find some guy (or maybe it's even a woman) in the media who goes for that ultra-hot-take by claiming that Brady isn't really all that good. "It's an easy division" is the one most commonly used, which, of course, doesn't explain how Brady beats everyone's brains in during the playoffs. Anyway, it's Tom Brady. He's underrated, if that's even possible in today's world of groveling at the feet of our athletic superstars. No one has done what that guy has done in New England. And yet, people still somehow rag on him constantly.

Paul S. asks: Everyone assumes DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak is one baseball record that won't ever be broken. What's another one in baseball you think can't be topped? A nice bottle of wine rests on your answer. Two co-workers and I have a running bet on this one and your answer will help.

Tom Brady underrated...with six Super Bowl rings? Indeed he is.

DF says: I love a good wine bet! I'm going to qualify this by saying I don't think Cal's consecutive games streak will be broken, but I'm giving you one that involves accomplishing something of statistical merit, if that makes sense. I don't see anyone ever winning more than the 31 games Denny McLain won for the Tigers in 1968. I know lots of other guys won more than that in one season, but for the "modern era" (in my book), McLain's record will always stand. Someone might get to 25 or so (Strasburg has 14 right now...he could have won 25 this year, really) but no one will get to 31.

Dennis H. asks: What happened to the Red Sox this year?

DF: Another easy one. What happened is this: They won the World Series last year. It's pretty much that simple. It's really hard to win the championship in any sport. It's about 5 times more difficult to win it in back-to-back years. I guess that's what made Golden State's run in the NBA so interesting, although it's safe to say baseball has more parity than the NBA by a mile. Anyway, it would be really hard for Boston to do this year what they did last year. I'd say if you're looking for a "reason" why they aren't as good, it probably has to do with their pitching. Sale and Porcello have both been really bad.

Anthony asks: A while back I remember you posted something at The Dish about golf and you mentioned a swing tip you had received that worked really well. I was wondering what's the best tip you ever remember getting and if you still use it today?

DF: I don't remember that swing tip specifically that I wrote about here, but I'd say the best "tip" I ever received was really more like a theory. If you're hitting bad shots or playing poorly, it's almost always going to circle back to one of three things: Your grip, your stance (alignment) or your posture. It's not really your "swing". It's one of those three things that's keeping you from making the swing you're capable of. I tell that to my high school team all the time. "This is not about your golf swing. It's either your grip, your stance or your posture." All three of those are critical, but to me "stance/alignment" is the most important one of them all.

Pat G. asks: When Scott Garceau's role as Baltimore's Hall of Fame voter comes to an end, who will succeed him? It won't be Mike Preston, will it?

DF says: It certainly could be Mike. He's working on 3 decades of NFL coverage now and the Hall of Fame likes that kind of "legacy", if you will, but I'd say the odds-on favorite to replace Scott Garceau is WBAL TV's Gerry Sandusky, who has been the team's radio voice for 13 (or so) years now. I can't imagine he's not next in line. But Scott might very well be the city's voting representative for another decade. Who knows...

Marshall C. asks: Just wondering what you think of the Dave Matthews Band without Boyd Tinsley? I've seen them three times this spring/summer and I know you're a big fan and was curious what you think about the full time keyboard guy in place of Tinsley and the violin?

DF says: GREAT question! Honestly, I think they miss Tinsley. Or, should I say, they miss the violin sound in their music. Their live stuff from the early 2000's is as good as anything any rock band ever did. EVER. And Tinsley was a huge part of that, I thought. I'm not saying the keyboard player hasn't added "something", because I think he has, but if you gave me the choice of Tinsley/violin or the keyboard in the band, I'm going with the violin.

Taylor B. asks: Any thoughts on Towson football and whether they're going to be any good this season?

DF says: I have no idea, but Rob Ambrose is an Eagle's Nest member and anytime I see him out there and ask, "How we looking this year?" he always says, "I think we're going to surprise people" and smiles that smile that says, "I know stuff that the other teams and coaches in the league don't know." He has the luxury of another year of Tom Flacco at quarterback, so that can't hurt. My guess is Towson will be fighting for the CAA title again.

Is the Dave Matthews Band better or worse with violinist Boyd Tinsley no longer with the band?

Paul B. asks: Who's the best player on the PGA Tour that no one knows about?

DF says: That's a tough one, because that likely means the player hasn't yet won on TOUR. And most of the really good up and comers have won. I'll give you a guy who I think has a great future ahead of him, who did win a tournament earlier this year, but is still largely unknown: Corey Connors of Canada. He's a long hitter off the tee, great with his irons, and as he showed in Texas back in April, he can roll the rock on the greens. I really like his game, even if he's not yet a household name. I think he could win a major championship someday. Maybe even more than one.

James asks: I'm in a survivor pool where you have to take two road teams within the first ten weeks of the season. I'm thinking of taking the Ravens in week #1 at Miami. Thoughts?

DF says: Do it. I think it's one of the safer road bets of the year for the Ravens. They always win in Miami under Harbaugh (I think) and the Dolphins are going to be some kind of stinky this year, it seems. I can see the Ravens going down there and winning a borefest like 17-0 or 20-0, where there's not a lot of offense, the defense creates a turnover-and-TD, etc. I don't see any scenario where the Dolphins win.

Joe G. asks: Will Bryce Harper win a World Series in Philadelphia before Manny wins one in San Diego?

DF says: Seems you think they're both going to win at least one in each of their current cities. My guess is Harper wins one for sure. As for Manny in San Diego...that one seems a bit of a long shot given how good the Dodgers and Giants have been over the last decade. But Philadelphia will keep pouring money into their player payroll to complement Harper, and at some point they'll get it right and win a World Series. I'll go with Harper winning one before Manny.

Rich asks: Who is the Orioles' MVP this season?

DF says: They only have three candidates, right? Alberto, Mancini and Nunez. This one's actually tough for a team that's going to win 52 games or so. Alberto has had a terrific year overall, Mancini is going to establish (and already has in some cases) career numbers and Nunez has come out of nowhere to produce a very solid major league season. My guess is it goes to Mancini out of two-thirds production and one-third popularity. But Alberto definitely deserves some strong consideration, as does Nunez.

Patrick K. asks: I saw last week where you had a round of golf where you hit all 18 greens in regulation. I'm wondering what's more difficult in your mind, hitting all 18 greens or bowling a 300 game in ten pins?

DF says: I have no idea on this one, honestly, but I'm guessing it's bowling a 300 game. I mean, that's a "perfect" game of bowling, whereas hitting all 18 greens in regulation is very difficult (I've only done it 3 times now), but you can hit an off-shot and still be on the green by one inch and it's a green hit in regulation. Bowlers might disagree with me on this, but I assume rolling a 300 game is really, really hard to do. I assume you can bowl a game of 220 or 240 with your eyes closed, kind of, but 300 is really special.

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yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: Homers

Yesterday…

One of the most famous moments in Orioles’ history, the real beginning of “Orioles Magic,” also marked what has to be one of the great “homer” radio calls in Major League annals.

It was the night of June 22, 1979. The Orioles had won six straight, and 12 of their last 13, but trailed the Tigers 5-4 with two outs in the ninth. That was when Doug DeCinces, on a 1-1 count, hit a two-run homer to win the game, with the late Charley Eckman screaming “get outta here, get outta here!” like he was a fan in the upper deck.

That was followed by the more famous postgame sendoff from the late Chuck Thompson, “And now, this is Chuck Thompson for Bill O’Donnell and Charley Eckman saying ‘ain’t the beer cold, baby!’”

I was but six years old at the time. I certainly didn’t hear either call live, yet they remain indelibly lodged in my brain 40 years later.

It makes no difference that the powers of pre-1990s political correctness led Thompson to eventually stop using “ain’t the beer cold”—it promoted drinking, for god sakes!—and also “go to war, Miss Agnes,” which was seen as somewhat insensitive in the wake of the Vietnam War.

And it makes no difference that Eckman did everything a color commentator isn’t supposed to do—not only overtly cheer like a fan, but also talk over play-by-play man O’Donnell as if he wasn’t even in the booth anymore. Play-by-play guys live for those moments, make their careers off those moments. “Do you believe in miracles” anybody?

And yet, both at the time and in retrospect, all of it made total sense.

The team had sold its radio rights to WFBR, a 5,000-watt rock-and-roll station, in part to make the Orioles seem more exciting in a time of falling attendance and a poor economy. And then, as if on cue, the team kept winning games in dramatic fashion.

“What a great moment in Baltimore baseball history,” Thompson said when DeCinces came out of the dugout for a postgame curtain call. It was a moment that called for something different on the radio, “homer” or not.

Today…

Yesterday, in the fifth inning of game between two teams a combined 60 games below .500 played in front of an announced crowd of 18,837 at Camden Yards, the Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio hit a relatively soft grounder to first baseman Chris Davis. The big man scooped it up and shoved the ball with his glove to pitcher Tom Eshelman, properly covering first base. Routine play for a Major League ballclub.

Extolling the virtues of a major leaguer who just made a routine play is one of the ways a broadcaster gets labeled a "homer". Mike Bordick does this kind of thing fairly regularly on MASN.

That is, unless you were listening to the Orioles’ television broadcast team of Jim Hunter and Mike Bordick. “Wow, what a play!” said Hunter, referring (I assume) to Davis’s choice to flip the ball to the pitcher directly with his glove, as opposed to taking it out of the glove and flipping it with his right hand.

On the replay, Bordick then lauded Davis for cleanly fielding the grounder well out in front of his body, as opposed to letting the ball get too close and booting it, I guess?

I realize that Bordick and (especially) Hunter have a reputation for, um, positivity, that doesn’t exactly mesh with the current state of the Orioles, or the state of the team from 1998-2011. And I also realize that these men are “with the team.” In fact, yesterday Bordick mentioned that Blue Jays’ rookie pitcher Yennsy Diaz was born in the same year, 1997, in which Hunter joined the O’s broadcast team, at which point Hunter mentioned that was also the year that Bordick first joined the organization as a player.

But c’mon, guys. Do you honestly believe your enthusiasm for routine plays is getting the fans excited about the team these days?

Bordick, with 91 career home runs, was a defense-first guy. He was good enough as a shortstop for the Orioles’ to sign him and move a Hall-of-Fame player, Cal Ripken, Jr., to third base. Of all people, he should be the last guy to offer praise for a major leaguer for simply playing a grounder out in front.

As for Hunter, he’s way past the point of unintentional comedy these days. Now in his third decade in town, however, he’s probably the one laughing all the way to the bank.

Tomorrow...

So, are we too smart in 2019 for “homerism” to really have an effect on us, or do we actually enjoy it just as much as we did in a simpler time?

I mean…have you watched ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball recently? The broadcast team of Matt Vasgersian, Alex Rodriguez and Jessica Mendoza take any enjoyment the viewers might take from baseball and eliminate it with analysis that can only be described as “just keep talking, even if you’re not really saying anything.”

That’s a national broadcast, of course. No matter what fans of each team think—and this applies to the NFL too—nobody is truly rooting for anything but a good game.

Even so, it’s a broadcast that makes you long for Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, who officially retired from his White Sox gig after last season. In 2010, GQ magazine named the White Sox TV crew of Harrelson and former Oriole Steve Stone the worst in baseball. At the same time, Harrelson also won five local Emmy awards and two Illinois Sportscaster of the Year awards.

So which is it, right?

Fact is that the entertainment in sports broadcasting really comes from the local side…whether it’s a loudmouth like Ken Harrelson, a former player for the organization screaming and yelling as the color guy for an NFL team or a play-by-play guy all on his own during an NBA game spending most of the game talking about the refs.

And look…I like Jim Nantz. He’s possibly the most successful sports television play-by-play man ever. He can talk his way into anything and out of anything. Even his “moments,” however, are really scripted these days. He’s being self-referential every time a line comes out of his mouth.

In a time when every game is on television, and highlights of an NFL play are available a few minutes after it happens, we don’t really need much analysis anyway. We can see for ourselves, and make our own decisions.

There’s something missing, though, when we no longer hear those “homer” calls. They’re part of the fabric of sports broadcasting, even if Jim Hunter ought to take it down about 12 notches.

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Sunday
August 4
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#1805



reed's ceremony was just about perfect


A week at the beach.

Arrived home at 9:00 pm last night.

Plunked down to see the Ed Reed induction speech with bags and luggage and birthday gifts (not mine, my children's) everywhere.

Up at 6:00 am this morning to get #DMD done and off to church for the 8 am service.

I'm officially pooped.

I need a vacation to recover from the last day of vacation and the return home. I'm sure you've been there yourself.

So I'll take the owner's liberty this morning and offer a rare "shortened" version of #DMD just so I can get my life back in order for a day. Think of it as a holiday edition. Oh, and we're still having issues with our quirky comments section, which has been down a couple of times this week for reasons we can't quite figure out. We'll see what today brings. Hopefully we've fixed it for good.

Like a lot of folks in Baltimore last night, I was glued to the TV around 9:30 when Ed Reed took to the stage in Canton, Ohio for his Hall of Fame induction speech. It was, as I suggested it might be here yesterday, an unpredictable 40 minutes.

"Thank you Baltimore," Ed Reed said last night. "I played as hard as I did because of all of you who filled Ravens Stadium."

Reed strolled out to meet his new Hall of Fame brothers in his gold jacket with a gold rimmed brown hat -- and a cigar in his mouth. The cigar, thankfully, was unlit and more of a prop than anything else, but it summed up Ed's approach to the night very nicely. "I'll get a little dressed up for this, but I'm still going to be me," he seemed to say. Bingo.

It was clearly an emotional night for the former Ravens safety, who wept several times during his speech. My guess on the Hall of Fame induction thing is most players are emotional because they're not only reaching the highest-of-heights in their career, but they're probably also realizing there's nowhere else for them to go that will be any better than this.

I was warmed, personally, by Reed's opening prayer and the inclusion of God in his first remarks. In a time when most people criticize athletes for a "me first" mentality, Reed took a moment to thank God and all of his power and glory. That was an interception return for a touchdown on the first series of the game in my book.

But #20 stumbled early on, too, somehow saying, "I'd like to thank coach Belichick and his staff, and coach Harbaugh and his staff..."

He meant to say, of course, "Coach Billick" and his staff. Social media lit up with (mostly) laughter and (some) scorn for Reed on that one. I mean, how could you screw that one up, right?

The rest of the speech was vintage Reed, though. He took everyone from his first days in Shrewsbury, Louisiana, all the way through high school, to the University of Miami and finally, to the NFL. He worked hard to create the picture of who he was: A kid with a not-so-great childhood, filled with crime and danger in his neighborhood, so much so that Reed opted to move out of his family home in his high school years and move in with a white family not too far away. "I needed a change," Reed said last night. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to reach my goals growing up in that environment I was in at home."

Not many high school kids have that sort of wisdom. And not too many young African American men would -- as the term goes in the inner city -- "sell out" like that and move in with a white family, either. Reed always was a gambler on the field...now we've learned, perhaps, where he first picked up that kind of attitude.

That decision by Reed shaped the rest of his life, as it turned out. He improved his studies in high school, got a scholarship to the University of Miami and now he's a Hall of Famer. There's a lot more to it than that, of course. There was plenty of great football in there as well. But once he moved in with his new family, Reed's talents began to sprout.

The speech definitely dragged on a bit too long, but guess what? They all do. No one gets up there for 15 minutes. After all, this is their one shot to stand up on that stage and tell their story. And once the initial nervousness and trepidation disappears, most guys get a second and third wind. And Reed definitely got his.

He also took the opportunity to touch on a couple of topics regarding the interaction with police and the need for more friendship and civility in our world today. We didn't need the two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the last 24 hours to remind us, but this is an unsettled world we live in today and Reed's comments were necessary, even if somewhat ill-fitting married against the backdrop of a football celebration.

And, so, speaking on that for a minute. It was indeed sad to wake up this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting, this one overnight in Dayton, Ohio. That, coupled with the horrific details from El Paso, Texas earlier in the day, made August 3, 2019 a sad day in our nation's history.

There will be lots of discussion over the next few days about guns and mental health. The President, naturally, will get blamed, as if he's the first President to ever have a mass shooting take place on his watch. Gun control lobbyists will be out in full force asking for a "ban" on the sale of guns to stop these things from happening. Others will talk about the need for a more focused approach to our everyday mental health. Social media warriors will again point out that the young man in El Paso published "warning shots", if you will, that went completely ignored until he fulfilled his promise a few days later.

And there will be people, like me, who will suggest that the best remedy can be found in church. I don't know all of the details of the personal lives of every mass shooter this country has ever had, but I'd be willing to bet everything I own that none of them had a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. I could be wrong, but I don't think any of the mass shooters were believers in the word of the Bible. They might have been forced to go church as a kid, perhaps, but as an adult, there's simply no way they know God and the teachings of his son, Jesus. For if they did, it would never occur to them to do something as awful as kill 20 innocent people.

So while others campaign for tighter control on guns and a deeper dedication to mental health (and discussions on both of those issues should be had and heard, by the way), I'll campaign for everyone to do something even more simple and more meaningful. Dig into church and the Bible.

Just like Ed Reed last night, I have a message, too. I'm certainly not here to suggest it will solve all of our problems as a society. But I believe it will solve a lot of them.

And with that, at 7:07 am, I'm off to church myself. Have a great Sunday, everyone.

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Saturday
August 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1804



hall of fame musings


I'm sure Ed Reed's Hall of Fame induction tonight will be a hoot. He's nothing if not unpredictable, which should make this evening's festivities very memorable. No offense to Ray Lewis and his speech in Canton, but you could have written a lot of that yourself.

With Reed tonight, there's no telling what he might say. My hunch is that it will be a showstopper speech, one that will make people who don't know much about the former Ravens safety say, "Wow, that dude's really smart!"

Hall of Fame inductee, 2019, Ed Reed.

He has that way about him, and it's kind of hard to sense unless you're around him enough to get him to open up. One thing Reed always enjoyed talking about were his days at Miami. If you could get him into a discussion that somehow circled back to "The U", you were bound to hear something interesting.

In my 12 years around the team, there's no doubt Reed was the most mercurial personality in the locker room. There were other guys who were hot and cold -- Chris McAlister and Adam Terry were two very memorable personalities -- but none could match the highs of Ed and the lows of Ed. But I can say this, too: He was never disrespectful. If he didn't feel like talking, he'd just say, "Not today, man," and that would be that. He didn't shout it, he wasn't confrontational and he wasn't trying to be a jerk. Some days, he just wasn't into it.

And unlike some veterans who had the PR guys do their hard work for them, it was always Reed who would handle his own business. If he wasn't in the mood to talk, he didn't go off hiding or have someone from the front office send you away from his locker. Reed was there when he felt like speaking to the media and he was there when he didn't feel like it.

On the field, he was, of course, remarkable. To me, quality wise, he's the third best Raven ever, trailing Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden, but easily ahead of Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and the aforementioned McAlister. Reed's a Hall of Famer for a reason. He wasn't just an all-time great Raven, he's an all-time great in the league. The whole league.

I remember after the AFC title game loss at New England in 2012, Reed was one of the guys who comforted Lee Evans in the locker room after the "drop" in the end zone that likely cost the Ravens a trip to the Super Bowl. We couldn't get near the two of them as Reed talked with Evans, but as #20 pulled away to head to his locker, he clearly said to the wide receiver, "Don't beat yourself up. That ain't helping anything."

That was a summary of the way Ed Reed was, and still is, I assume. After a loss, he was always OK. To wit, I never saw him get overly excited after a win and he was never down-and-out after a loss. He just played the game and took whatever came his way. More times than not, though, Reed was a winner.

Ray Lewis was the guy who did it with heart. Ed Reed did it with style. Ray was Marvin Hagler. A fighter. A scrapper. He'd just out-gut you. Reed was Sugar Ray Leonard. He'd move around, hide for a round or two, and then unleash a flurry of quality at just the right moment. Reed's best plays always seemed to matter when the game was in the balance. He just had that knack.

In the same way there'll never be another Ray Lewis, chances are there won't be another Ed Reed, either. No one currently in the league has his game, even though some have said current Raven Earl Thomas is in Reed's vicinity. And as far as an up and comer someday being on Reed's level. Well...they better be awfully, awfully good.

They better be a Hall of Famer, for starters. Ed Reed sure is.

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messi index rating system


The USMNT pool encompasses players from at least 15 different leagues in 9 different countries. This diffusion makes it difficult for the average fan to compare the relative ability and current form of players across the pool.

In an attempt to simplify these comparisons I have created a rating system to provide a baseline number for comparison. The system uses a formula consisting of player game rating scores, strength of league and club, minutes played, transfer value, and national team caps (official appearances).

The overall score is then indexed against Lionel Messi’s score (the GOAT) to give a rating out of 100. So you could think of a Messi Index rating of 50 as a player that is 50% of Messi.

Any type of rating will have its flaws and I will continue to tweak this formula going forward. In ranking the players I have used the Messi Index rating as a basis for comparison but made some editorial changes based on my own observations and other extenuating circumstances such as injuries limiting recent appearances.

Top 35

Over the last four days, we've identified the top 35 players currently in the USMNT regardless of position. They are separated into the following tiers: World Class, Strong International, Solid International, Promising International, Solid Domestic. Players are shown with their position, current age, Messi Index rating and their age at the 2022 World Cup.

Today, we'll look at a critical part of the ranking list: The "World Class" group. There aren't many, unfortunately.

World Class --

World Class players have the ability to make an impact at any club in the world and are stars of most national teams. There is a level above this that would encompass the most elite world class players, but the USMNT does not currently have any players at that level.

Christian Pulisic is now at Chelsea in the English Premier League.

Christian Pulisic is already the most accomplished US player of all time at club level at only 20 years old. With his move to Chelsea this summer he will be playing for one of the biggest teams in the world and will be expected to contribute right away. He is the centerpiece to everything the USMNT looks to accomplish offensively and should continue to be for many years in the future. Pulisic’s Messi Index rating is the highest by a wide margin due to his record shattering transfer fee for an American and many Champions League appearances.

Tyler Adams’s profile has skyrocketed over the last year after his move to Bundesliga power RB Leipzig last winter. Only injuries prevented his stock from rising even higher. In a limited run for RB Leipzig he asserted himself as an automatic starter and one of their key players. Unfortunately an injury kept him out of the Gold Cup. It's possible he could be even more important to the USMNT hopes in the future with his ability to dominate the field from defensive midfield (or inverted RB) and give attacking mids like Pulisic and McKennie freedom to create in the offensive third. This will be a big year at club for him with opportunities to shine in both Champions League and Bundesliga and build on his excellent start in Europe.

Let's take a look at the players in the World Class category and assign them a Messi Index Rating.

Player ratings (name, position, current age, Messi Index Rating, age at World Cup 2022)

Christian Pulisic, Midfielder/Winger, 20, 59.07, (24)

Tyler Adams, Midfielder, 20, 40.35, (23)


About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area, graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. Randy is an avid sports watcher and recreational participant, plus a devoted Ravens, Orioles and US soccer supporter.

Randy also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. He played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary is typically mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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Friday
August 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1803



let's hope tiger, lamar and elias ignore the noise


Man, there sure is a lot of noise out there.

None of it is unexpected, of course, because that's what happens when someone has success. The noise-makers come along and try and upset the apple cart. But in the case of Tiger Woods, Lamar Jackson and Mike Elias, the noise is starting to get loud.

Let's hope all three of them can ignore it and keep doing what they're doing.

Social media erupted on Wednesday when Mike Elias and the Orioles didn't do anything of substance at the trade deadline. And, no, sending Dan Straily to the Phillies for $100 isn't "something". But, notwithstanding that deal and the mid-July trade of Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox, Elias didn't do anything of note.

And that's OK.

You see, it's pretty rare that bottom-feeder teams make up a whole lot of ground at the trade deadline. And I don't mean making up ground this season, I mean, for the long haul. Really...what were the Orioles going to get for Mychal Givens anyway? Or Miguel Castro? A prospect or three? And probably Single A guys at best.

The other teams in the league have the internet too. Givens isn't very good. Castro is a tick-and-a-half better, but he's not going to confuse anyone into thinking they're getting Bruce Sutter, that's for sure.

Jonathan Villar might have fetched a prospect or two as well, but nothing more. And, yes, perhaps Trey Mancini would have garnered something decent, but his numbers over the last 40 games drove his asking price way down, I'd assume.

In the end, Elias didn't do anything because nothing was really there to be gained. People can howl at the moon all they want, but you can't get blood out of a stone. "I thought Wonder Boy was good at this stuff?" someone barked on Twitter late Wednesday night.

Well, Elias might be good at it...someday when it matters. Right now, what matters is getting the roster ready for 2020 and that means playing some guys who may or may not be part of the everyday lineup next season. In fact -- and this guy was a Duquette pick-up, remember -- it's starting to look like Anthony Santander (.294/.335/.492) might be an everyday player in 2020. Let's keep seeing him and the others in August and September and figure out if they have what it takes to really be part of the rebuilding process.

Look, the jury is still out on Mike Elias, in the same way it's still out on Brandon Hyde. They've been on duty for less than one year. But there's nothing at all about the trade-deadline-inactivity that suggests the 35-year old general manager is in over his head. On the contrary, I think he knows exactly what he's doing.

I hope Elias ignores the noise.


With every "off" throw in training camp, the naysayers come out and Lamar Jackson is raked over the coals.

Lamar Jackson hears a lot of noise with almost every throw he makes in training camp. It's insane to follow along on social media and see how the fans react with every "duck" or any interception Jackson throws during practice. It's like he has to be perfect on every play.

Part of this, of course, is the further development of social media and how much more savvy regular old folks are these days with their cell phones. Ten years ago, only the "kids" knew how to post stuff. These days, everyone has a handle on how to become a quasi-reporter, complete with pictures, videos and so forth.

Case in point: Jackson threw an interception in practice a couple of days ago that Earl Thomas took back to the end zone. It only took a few minutes for the eruption:

"Jackson stinks!"

"This guy was a first round pick? He can't throw a NFL ball!"

"Lamar has had six months to get better. What happened?"

All of it, of course, was an overreaction to one throw. But it happens all the time. On every occasion that Jackson throws a poor pass or someone picks it off, the doomsayers show up with their fangs out.

It's just practice. I hate to sound like Allen Iverson, but that's the truth. Now, if he throws those kind of balls in games, we'll show some concern. But in practice? Not so much. And please don't give me that line about "Well if he can't make a throw in practice, how's he going to make it in a game?"

No one is operating at full speed in practice. They mimic the game situations as much as they can, but practice is practice. Guys are trying, of course, and there's some evaluation that goes on in practice, but just like I'm not going to award Jackson with the MVP trophy when he connects on three touchdown throws, I'm not benching him when he makes a mistake or two.

Oh, and let's not forget this: He's in his first full season as a varsity quarterback. Last year was nice and all. He picked up some much needed experience. But now, he's not only the full-time guy behind center, he's also expected to be the leader of the team. Those two duties won't come easily, even for a former Heisman Trophy winner.

Please, Lamar, ignore the noise and just keep getting better.


With four months still until the President's Cup, Tiger Woods is hearing lots of chatter about the team he's going to captain in Australia. A 12-man group that could, in fact, include himself.

Woods is currently in 12th place in the standings, which means he'd have to leapfrog four other guys to earn one of the automatic spots on the team. If he wins one of the three FedEx Cup playoff events, that might squeeze him past those guys, providing one of those four don't also win an event.

Here's the deal, though. Woods shouldn't play in Australia. He should just be the Captain and that's that.

I hate to say it like this, but I will. It's the President's Cup. It's nothing at all like the Ryder Cup, no matter how hard the PGA Tour tries to push and promote it. It will always be more like an exhibition than the Ryder Cup, which has turned into a legitimate bragging-rights-affair every two years.

And because it's only the President's Cup, Tiger should use it primarily to get the TOUR's young stars some experience in international events. In other words, yes, he should use the President's Cup to prepare them for the event that really matters...the Ryder Cup.

I don't have to see any more golf in August to tell you that Woods should absolutely select Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa with two of his four picks. The other rookie hotshot, Viktor Hovland, is from Norway, and thus, unavailable for selection. But Wolff and Morikawa are going to be fixtures on the U.S. Ryder Cup team and Woods would be smart to throw into them fire in Australia in December and let them get a taste of it.

There's already a lot of media and internet chatter that suggests Tiger should add Phil Mickelson (14th in points) as a sort of "career achievement gift", since he's never missed a President's Cup or Ryder Cup team as a professional. Phooey on that, I say. And I'm betting Woods doesn't bite on that apple, either. He's not adding anyone "just to add them".

Jordan Spieth will be another popular name come captain's pick time (Woods gets four of those), but his play in 2018-2019 has been terribly erratic and there's nothing at all to suggest he deserves a spot on the U.S. squad.

I trust that Tiger won't add anyone just for the sake of popularity. Now, if Mickelson or Spieth or Rickie Fowler plays well in the upcoming playoffs and moves themselves within the top 12 (Fowler is already there...in 11th place), I can see potentially adding them. I mean, what good are the standings if you don't use them for something, right? But failing an August surge by any of those three, I say Woods should go with the hot hand(s) -- Wolff and Morikawa, and then perhaps sprinkle in two veterans like Chez Reavie and Charles Howell III, both of whom have had outstanding 2019 campaigns.

The President's Cup wouldn't really mean anything to Phil and Jordan -- they've been there, done that, got the tee shirt. But it would really be a big deal to the likes of Reavie and Howell III...and their 2019 play suggests they've earned it.

I just hope Tiger ignores the noise about Phil and Spieth and doesn't bring them along because he assumes they'll suddenly find their golf games Down Under. Give those two spots to kids like Wolff and Morikawa who will benefit from the experience when it matters most: Next year when the Ryder Cup is played at Whistling Straits.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



The Major League Baseball trade deadline has officially passed, and like an increasing number of these milestones in the MLB calendar it was marked with very little action and a depressing lack of urgency from too many teams.

A blockbuster sending Zack Greinke to the Astros kept it from being a total snoozer, but for the most part the story was the deals that didn't happen and how, as has become an increasingly disturbing trend, a bunch of teams passed up on chances to make themselves better.

Looking locally, the Orioles can certainly said to have not done much, though I don't think anyone ought to be surprised by that. Trey Mancini was the only asset with any particular value they had to argue, and it's rare to see a big leaguer with more than 2 years of control left moved like that. It's just hard to get two sides to match up on what they perceive as fair value.

After a terrible 2018 and equally unimpressive 2019 (so far), Dylan Bundy wasn't on anyone's radar screen when the trade deadline ended this past Wednesday.

Mychal Givens and Dylan Bundy could have been dealt as well, but with the way they've pitched and with multiple years of team control left it makes sense that Mike Elias would want to give them a chance to improve their performance and at least get a chance at getting more in return for them than he likely would have this week.

Honestly Jonathan Villar is the only player I'm actually surprised it still here, and all of those other non-moves makes sense on their own terms.

But looking around baseball, it's just depressing how few non-moves there were from contending teams, and it does nothing to dislodge the impression that too many teams care more about keeping payroll down and maximizing the bottom line than they do about trying to win.

Chief among that group, amazingly, is the Yankees. The Yankees have maintained the impression that they're financial juggernauts thanks to moves like acquiring Giancarlo Stanton and signing Masahiro Tanaka before 2014, but the truth is that they haven't actually thrown around their weight since the 2008-09 offseason. In fact, they've been working on cutting payroll over the past few seasons, and at the moment they're clearly working on a tight self-imposed cap. You could make the argument that their 7.5 game lead in the division isn't likely to be overcome this late in the season, but their rotation is in shatters which makes it at least feasible that the Rays or Red Sox could catch up, and certainly doesn't leave them matching up favorably with the other AL playoff teams in October.

I can understand the Yankees not wanting to deal off too many of their top prospects but a) they've got a young core in place already, and b) they could have signed Dallas Keuchel as a free agent, who now has a 3.86 ERA in 49 innings over 8 starts, but somehow lost out on the bidding to the Braves. The Yankees were supposedly the runner up in multiple trade sweepstakes as well, which tends to make you think that their "interest" isn't for much more than show these days.

Down the 7 Line, the Mets might have had the best trade deadline in the league if not for the Astros last minute coup. For the price of a couple of single-A lottery tickets, the Mets landed coveted Toronto ace Marcus Stroman, and also took him out of the clutches of the crosstown Yankees if you believe the latter were serious bidders. In adding Stroman to an already strong rotation, the Mets have an outside shot at making up the 4 games they trail in the wild card race. If they don't, Stroman is under contract for next season as well, so the Mets will be a better team heading into 2020.

Oddly, they almost had a good trade deadline by accident, as even after acquiring Stroman they were still trying to trade away either Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler, which would have made the deal a lateral one at best. I can't even guess at what the logic there was supposed to be.

Also making a bold move was the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds probably won't make up the 6 games they trail in the playoff race this year but, like Stroman, Trevor Bauer is under contract for next season and will help his new team out in 2020. Meanwhile the Indians took a big swing at fixing a major hole in the roster, moving their third best starter this season in exchange for adding two power threats to what had been one of the worst hitting outfields in Major League history.

Of course, the Indians might not have had to do that if they'd been a little bit more willing to sign an outfielder or two in free agency, but I'm sure this was more palatable to the bean counters.

And....that's pretty much it. The league's landscape doesn't look that much different now than it did on Monday, mostly because the contending teams didn't really make any big effort to make themselves that much better. That's where baseball is now.

There's been no shortage of baseball writers freaking out about the lack of action this deadline and through the previous two offseasons, and I don't think its at all unwarranted. This just isn't good for the sport. Alas, I think the problem is a complex one with multiple causes. One is that the second wild card has made more teams plausible playoff contenders at this point in the calendar.

Everyone thought for sure that Madison Bumgarner was going to be dealt this summer, but the Giants enter play on Thursday 2.5 games out of the wild card and one of the hottest teams in baseball, even if there's plenty of reasons to believe that they're not a particularly good one. How do you sell a fanbase on selling off parts and giving up in those circumstances? In fact, only two teams in the National League are more than 8 games out of the wild card.

Another problem is the increasing recognition that the postseason is nearly a total crapshoot. If you're 7.5 games ahead in your division like the Yankees are, you're essentially adding players only for the benefit of the postseason, and there's a very good chance that that player just won't matter that much.

Zack Greinke may only pitch once in the ALDS, and if Mookie Betts and JD Martinez heat up they may just beat up guys like Wade Miley or Gerrit Cole or the Astros bullpen even if Greinke is great in his start and the defending champs knock Houston out in four games or something. There's definitely an argument to be made that a team that's way ahead in the standings already is playing a mug's game trying to add talent just for the postseason.

But then there's the increasingly obvious factor: Prospects are cheap, and big league owners and executives love cheap big leaguers more than anything.

Except, ironically, for the Astros. The Astros often get blamed for introducing the current strategies of "tanking" and doing a rebuild on the cheap while coveting young, controllable talent, but for the second time in three years they've gone out and made the biggest acquisition of the summer.

And unlike 2017, when they mostly just agreed to take Justin Verlander's contract from Detroit, they parted with some real prospect value to get not only Greinke, but Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini as well. And they acquired Gerrit Cole last offseason as well. They haven't quite gotten to level of "surplus spending" that was theoretically possible on this side of the rebuild, but Houston has been among the most aggressive teams at making themselves better during their window of being championship contenders.

If you're a baseball fan and your team is out of contention, you might consider rooting for these Astros to win it all again this year. MLB needs that kind of aggressiveness to be rewarded, and more pressure put on other teams to make the kind of aggressive moves that make the league interesting.

Prospect hoarding and payroll management might make good sense, but it sure doesn't make for a very entertaining professional sports product, least of all on the heels of the NBA's head-spinning offseason earlier in the month.

If Rob Manfred is genuinely looking for reasons why some fans seem to be losing interest in the league, he doesn't have to look much further than this.

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messi index rating system


The USMNT pool encompasses players from at least 15 different leagues in 9 different countries. This diffusion makes it difficult for the average fan to compare the relative ability and current form of players across the pool.

In an attempt to simplify these comparisons I have created a rating system to provide a baseline number for comparison. The system uses a formula consisting of player game rating scores, strength of league and club, minutes played, transfer value, and national team caps (official appearances).

The overall score is then indexed against Lionel Messi’s score (the GOAT) to give a rating out of 100. So you could think of a Messi Index rating of 50 as a player that is 50% of Messi.

Any type of rating will have its flaws and I will continue to tweak this formula going forward. In ranking the players I have used the Messi Index rating as a basis for comparison but made some editorial changes based on my own observations and other extenuating circumstances such as injuries limiting recent appearances.

Top 35

Over the next three days, we'll identify the top 35 players currently in the USMNT regardless of position. They are separated into the following tiers: World Class, Strong International, Solid International, Promising International, Solid Domestic. Players are shown with their position, current age, Messi Index rating and their age at the 2022 World Cup.

Today, we'll look at an important part of the ranking list: The "Strong International Group".

Strong International --

Strong International players have the ability to contribute in any league in the world, though not necessarily for the top teams. They are important players for their national teams and sometimes stars for those teams.

John Brooks had a solid season for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga in 2018-19. He moved to Wolfsburg last summer for what was, at the time, the largest transfer fee for a USMNT player (shattered by Pulisic’s Chelsea fee). Brooks is a key player for Wolfsburg, a mid to upper table Bundesliga team, who is only hampered by an inability to stay healthy. He burst on to the USMNT scene in the 2014 World Cup with his dramatic header goal to beat Ghana. He has cemented himself as the first-choice CB for the USMNT, however he has often faced injury issues which have kept him out of important games.

Weston McKennie flashed at the Gold Cup what he has demonstrated for Schalke in the Bundesliga. He is a hard worker, aggressive in tackles and in the air and possess a good passing eye and touch from midfield. At 20 years old he cemented himself as a key player for Schalke last season. He was used as a swiss army knife, playing CM, RB, CB, ST, and W. For the USMNT he is a solid CM and should form a great partnership for many years with Pulisic and Adams.

Let's take a look at the players in the Strong International category and assign them a Messi Index Rating.

Player ratings (name, position, current age, Messi Index Rating, age at World Cup 2022)

Weston McKennie, Midfielder, 20, 46.60, (24)

John Brooks, Defender, 26, 43.01, (29)

In tomorrow's edition, we'll look at the last two players in the pool: The World Class.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area, graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. Randy is an avid sports watcher and recreational participant, plus a devoted Ravens, Orioles and US soccer supporter.

Randy also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. He played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary is typically mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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Thursday
August 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1802



maybe next year...or the year after that


I'll admit to a smidgen of jealousy yesterday afternoon as the Major League Baseball trade deadline was in full gear and the Orioles weren't involved.

That's not a criticism. I mean, you can only trade with teams who want to trade with you. And, apparently, no one really wanted Jonathan Villar. Or Miguel Castro. Or Mychal Givens. Or maybe our asking price was too high.

Whatever the case, not being good enough to get actively involved in the trade deadline is a bit of a bummer.

The Diamondbacks packed in their chances for a wild card spot in the N.L. by shipping Zack Greinke to the Astros on Wednesday.

Then again, the Yankees didn't do anything either, and they have a good team. Imagine how the folks up there must feel. General Manager Brian Cashman said he spoke with every team except the Red Sox, but in the end, they couldn't agree on a deal with anyone.

Meanwhile, the Astros did precisely what the Yankees needed to do by adding potential Hall of Famer Zack Greinke to their already-loaded starting rotation. Give the Astros credit...they don't mess around.

The Red Sox didn't really do much of anything, either. That's either a concession from them that this isn't their year and they can't really be helped or they must think the Yankees are going to fade down the stretch due to their ragged rotation. Either way, Boston decided to keep their roster intact instead of adding a guy or two or selling off a few pieces as some folks thought they might.

Cleveland is still trying to wiggle past the Twins, and they've decided it's more important to bolster their anemic offense than to out-pitch other teams. The Indians gave up perhaps their best current arm -- Trevor Bauer -- but got two big bats with the addition of Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes. If the Twins don't hold on and the Indians make the post-season, they could be a tough out if that offense percolates in October.

The A's made some moves, too. They know they can't catch the Astros, but they figure they're plenty good enough to snag one of the two wild card spots. As it stands now, they're a half-game behind the Rays. Watch out for Oakland. They "do it with mirrors" better than any organization in baseball. In fact, they might do more with less than any team in sports, period.

While Houston clearly comes out as the favorite in the American League, the Dodgers didn't really have to do anything in the National League to maintain their presence at the top. They're going to win the West by 25 games and own home ice throughout the entire National League playoffs and World Series. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for them, having lost two straight years in the Fall Classic.

It's sad to not be mentioning the Orioles in all of this trade discussion, but those days are yet to come under Mike Elias and Company. At some point down the road, our Birds will be back in the spotlight and the last week in July will bring some anticipation and excitement. Until then, though, we just have to watch other teams get better.

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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.


my two cents...summer edition


Best wishes to Larry King, who suffered a serious heart attack in April and spent much of May and June in a California recovery center. According to tabloid reports, visitors to the hospital several months ago were “terribly concerned” and worried that the famous interviewer was near the end. King, 85 years old, is now back at home, though he apparently is requiring the use of a wheelchair at least some of the time. His internet talk show, which airs on Hulu (and is really quite good), has been led by a succession of guest hosts over the past few months.

Here’s hoping that the legend can recover well enough to get back on the air soon. In his honor, we now present a few random thoughts, #DMD style, like King did for years in USA Today.

The Ravens play the Dolphins and Cardinals in Weeks 1 and 2 of the NFL season. This Joe Callahan guy could start both games and the Ravens would still win both…The Orioles finished 12-12 in July and averaged more than five runs per game…I understand the power of sponsorship, but “Korn Ferry” Tour?...Tom Brady turns 42 on Saturday. How long can this go on?...Under Armour makes terrible shoes. The designs are ugly and the quality pales in comparison to Nike…There are plenty of decent public golf courses in Elijah Cummings’ district. You might want to grab your cart key and take it with you onto the 12th tee at Clifton Park though.

Some pre-season college hoops polls have Mark Turgeon's Terps ranked as high as #5.

Exactly how is it going to work with Russell Westbrook and James Harden in Houston?...Why would anyone want Yasiel Puig on their team? Not sure the Indians made the right call there…We’re at the point now where reporters ask NFL head coaches about “Madden” ratings. Not lying…Speaking of that, Le’Veon Bell apologized to fantasy owners for not playing last year. No apologies to Steelers’ fans, it appears…Somebody told me the Baltimore Brigade will host an Arena Football League playoff game on Saturday at 7:00, if you’re looking for something to do in the 7th congressional district…The Orioles have 36 wins in 107 games. Last year they had 32 after 107 games.

The Chargers’ temporary home in Carson, Calif., is now known as ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park. That’s worse than Korn Ferry Tour…Jill Ellis is making the right move stepping away as coach of the USWNT. Best to go out on top, both personally and professionally…So, a New Orleans judge actually scheduled depositions for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and three refs from last season’s NFC championship game. Good luck with that!...The Orioles play 10 straight at home starting today, against Toronto, the Yankees and Houston. Just a reminder…Camden Yards, at 333 W. Camden Street, is actually in the 3rd congressional district represented by John Sarbanes.

Shout out time...Played golf with this website’s owner the other day and he shot 67 while hitting all 18 greens in regulation. Not bad…The Orioles, known for setting futility records lately, recently hit multiple home runs in 10 straight games, the first team in MLB history to do so. Also not bad…Brooks Koepka finished fourth or better in all four golf majors this year, including his win at the PGA. Pretty good…The Premier Lacrosse League has already taken its traveling show to Boston, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Denver. Kind of cool…Maryland men’s basketball has been ranked as high as No. 5 in preseason polls. Sounds great…let’s see what happens.

Non-sports, non-politics thoughts…MTV had its first broadcast 38 years ago today. Does anyone else wish they still played music videos?...Call me crazy, but I like George’s songs better than John’s, and almost as much as Paul’s. Ringo finishes behind the mysterious fifth Beatle…There is really no modesty anymore on the beach. I guess we’re all naked underneath…I’ve driven both the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 a lot in the last couple weeks. Go with the CR-V…Anybody else looking forward to that first morning with temperatures in the 50s?...Been 25 years since the release of “The Shawshank Redemption.” I still say the line “vanished like a fart in the wind” several times a month.

Back to sports…This website’s owner insists that, the day before he shot 67 while hitting all 18 greens in regulation, he lost to his son in putt-putt while actually trying…The PGA Tour is reducing its 36-hole cut size from 70 and ties to 65 and ties. Doesn’t sound like much of a difference, to be honest…Franmil Reyes, who hit a long home run for the Padres against the Orioles the other day before being traded to Cleveland, is known as “La Mole,” the Beast…Meanwhile, Fernando Tatis. Jr., now playing next to Manny Machado in the Padres infield? Maybe they’re both Hall of Famers…I don’t care if your name is Madison Bumgarner. “MadBum” is a stupid nickname.

Mike Trout update…His OPS is 1.088, and he’s also on pace to lead the league in those old school categories of home runs and RBI. Next Wednesday is his 28th birthday…I miss watching Ed Reed play way more than I miss watching Ray Lewis play…Why are people on campus having such a cow about Maryland’s Friday night game against Penn State? It’s one day for a few hours…I honestly saw Manny Machado running hard the other day. It was to third base from second base, not from the batter’s box to first. Still waiting there…Former Terps coach D.J. Durkin is serving as a guest coach at the Falcons’ training camp. Hopefully he won’t open his mouth to speak too often.

Finally, on the opinion front…Maryland football will make a bowl game this year under new coach Mike Locksley…The Orioles will win at least 70 games during the 2020 season…Somebody other than the New England Patriots will win the Super Bowl next February. Hey, that gives me 31 out of 32 teams…Jalen Smith, aka “Stix,” will be an All-American in 2020…At least two NFL head coaches will be canned during the season, and Jay Gruden will be one of them…Nathan Peterman (seriously) will start another NFL game this season, for Oakland…and finally, Tiger Woods, who won the Tour Championship in 2018, won’t even make the tournament field in 2019.

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messi index rating system


The USMNT pool encompasses players from at least 15 different leagues in 9 different countries. This diffusion makes it difficult for the average fan to compare the relative ability and current form of players across the pool.

In an attempt to simplify these comparisons I have created a rating system to provide a baseline number for comparison. The system uses a formula consisting of player game rating scores, strength of league and club, minutes played, transfer value, and national team caps (official appearances).

The overall score is then indexed against Lionel Messi’s score (the GOAT) to give a rating out of 100. So you could think of a Messi Index rating of 50 as a player that is 50% of Messi.

Any type of rating will have its flaws and I will continue to tweak this formula going forward. In ranking the players I have used the Messi Index rating as a basis for comparison but made some editorial changes based on my own observations and other extenuating circumstances such as injuries limiting recent appearances.

Top 35

Over the next three days, we'll identify the top 35 players currently in the USMNT regardless of position. They are separated into the following tiers: World Class, Strong International, Solid International, Promising International, Solid Domestic. Players are shown with their position, current age, Messi Index rating and their age at the 2022 World Cup.

Today, we'll look at an important part of the ranking list: The "Solid International" group.

Solid International --

Solid International players have the ability to play in any league in the world, though not always as starters and often for lower-tier teams. They are solid, reliable players on any national team.

This group consists of USMNT players who are performing well in the prime of their careers (age 24-30). Included in this group are the USMNT top two goalies as well as the competition for the other first choice CB to go alongside John Brooks.

Despite having a number of quality goalkeepers in the player pool, the U.S. National Team appears to be in Zack Steffen's hands for World Cup 2022 qualifying.

The most promising of these players is Zack Steffen, who at 24 was just bought by Manchester City and will be playing on loan in the Bundesliga this fall. He has the opportunity to be a mainstay as the USMNT starting GK for the foreseeable future.

Jozy Altidore is still the best USMNT striker when he is in form and healthy. However, he is currently 29 and will likely decline too much by the 2022 World Cup to be relied on as the first choice by then.

Deandre Yedlin’s Messi Index rating would indicate he belongs in the group above, but his rating receives a large boost from being a starter in the EPL. That status is in jeopardy this summer after a mediocre season for Newcastle. This will be an important season for him to either re-establish himself as a starter or perform for a new club. He still looks like the best USMNT option at RB, but may not be as far ahead of the competition as in the past.

Zimmerman, Long, and Miazga all look to be solid 2nd CB options to pair with Brooks or start when he is injured. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Despite a lower Messi Index rating, Long has shown at the Gold Cup that his athleticism puts him just above the other two. All three may have a chance soon to take the next steps in their club careers, Miazga with a permanent move from Chelsea and Long/Zimmerman with potential moves to Europe. Long has been generating interest from English Premier League teams during this transfer window.

Let's take a look at the players in the Solid International category and assign them a Messi Index Rating.

Player ratings (name, position, current age, Messi Index Rating, age at World Cup 2022)

Deandre Yedlin, Defender, 25, 41.63, (29)

Ethan Horvath, GK, 24, 37.16, (27)

Walker Zimmerman, Defender, 26, 34.16, (29)

Zack Steffen, Goalkeeper, 24, 33.92, (27)

Matt Miazga, Defender, 23, 30.41, (27)

Jozy Altidore, Midfielder, 29, 29.99, (33)

Aaron Long, Defender, 26, 27.70, (30)

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