Thursday
December 31
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Issue 31

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"just rub some dirt on it"

If you grew up playing sports, particularly anything that included contact, you likely had a manager, coach or parent say to you on more than one occasion after an injury, "just rub some dirt on it, you'll be fine." And most times, as long as you didn't have a broken bone or torn ligament, rubbing dirt on the affected area coincided with the pain subsiding -- but not because the dirt had anything to do with it, of course. Or did it?

Earlier this week here at #DMD, I authored a brief piece about the Peyton Manning "HGH story" and in the follow-up, a discussion ensued about athletes, team doctors and treatments that are holistic in nature. I mentioned at that point I would share a memorable and incredibly eye-opening story about a soccer play from the 1990's that was cured -- albeit perhaps temporarily -- by something akin to the "rub some dirt on it" theme.

I won't use any real names at all in this story because I'm not interested in researching the bells and whistles of the HIPAA act to know if I'm setting myself up for some sort of gazillion dollar lawsuit if I reference people by their actual names when discussing their medical history and/or the treatment they were provided. So, as the saying goes, the story is real but the names have been changed to protect those involved. But what you're going to read happened. I should know. I was there.

I was running the Baltimore Spirit (nee Blast) indoor soccer team in the 1990's and our medical affiliate at the time provided us with world class doctors and the latest treatment center for sports injuries at their downtown location. We employed a full-time trainer, of course, but some of Baltimore's best doctors -- recognized around the country for their expertise in sports medicine -- were available to our players for help with their injuries. We were truly blessed to have such a dynamic sports medicine team on our side.

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The wonders of modern medicine.

We were scheduled to start a playoff series on a Friday night in April. The team gathered at our practice facility in Canton on Monday morning to begin preparations. I got over there about midway through practice and when I made my way to the stands to watch the action, I noticed one of our veteran players sitting there with a bag of ice on his right knee. Concerned, naturally, I approached him.

"Uh oh, what's up?" I asked.

"Tom (team trainer) isn't sure," Dave (the player) said. "I felt a little bit of pain last week and then in the game on Saturday night, the pain was excruciating. It bothered me yesterday at home so I iced it all afternoon and then today, I stretched with the guys and tried to run, but I can't. It hurts too much."

This guy was one of our toughest competitors. I could tell by the tone of his voice and the look on his face that he was not only struggling, but worried, too.

After practice, I sat down with the trainer and our head coach and we talked about Tom's condition. "Let's keep icing it today," the trainer said. "It's not all that swollen, so I don't think it's overly serious. If it's still bothering him tomorrow, I'll get him over to see one of the docs."

The next morning, the trainer called me just after 11 am with an update. "Hey, I'm going to take Tom over to the hospital at 1 pm to see Doctor Fitzpatrick. He can't run. He literally ran around for a minute today when practiced started and just hobbled off right away. I'm not sure what's happening, but if I'm betting, I think he has a really bad case of tendonitis."

Tendonitis sounded a heck of a lot better than the normal things you hear associated with knee injuries in sports -- torn ACL's, meniscus tears, etc. -- so I was somewhat relieved to hear the trainer's "tentative diagnosis". I agreed to meet them at 1 pm at the hospital.

Doctor Fitzpatrick was the best of the best. Known throughout Baltimore, he had not only treated many of Charm City's great athletes in the '80's and '90's, but men and women from around the country sought him out for surgical procedures. He was that good. So, naturally, I felt pretty good (especially since it wasn't MY knee, right?) as the three of us waited in a room at the hospital for Doctor Fitzpatrick to come in and check on my player. He arrived with a smile, we chatted briefly about the season and the upcoming playoffs, and he dove right in, saying, with a smile, "Let's see if we can avoid having to cut this guy's leg off so he can play for you on Friday night."

After ten minutes or so of discussion between doctor and patient and a physical exam of his knee, Doctor Fitzpatrick broke the news. "OK, here's the good stuff. Your knee is stable. Your ACL is fine (Dave had an ACL injury about four years ago, I should have mentioned previously) and I'm not sensing there's any cartilage damage at all. So, there's nothing to worry about in terms of an injury to your knee that requires surgery or anything of that nature."

You could immediately sense the weight of the world lifted off of Dave's shoulders. He smiled, the trainer smiled, and I smiled. Until...

"But, there's some bad news," the doc continued. "I think you have a really bad case of tendonitis in there. Just from the way you pulled back when I applied pressure in certain areas, it tells me that's what's going on. We can x-ray it just to make sure nothing's broken around the kneecap, but I'm 99% sure we're dealing with tendonitis here and nothing else. The bad news is that this kind of situation takes a while to go away. It's not like a cold, where it's gone in three or four days. In athletes, particularly with you, a guy who stops and starts and turns a lot when you're running, this is an injury that takes some time to heal."

"Will I be able to play on Friday?" Dave asked.

"My guess, right now, at 1:45 pm on Tuesday, is you probably won't. You just need to stay off of it, keep icing the devil out of it, and take some anti-inflammatory pills for 72 hours to try to get the inflammation to settle down a little bit. But, I'm sorry to say, this typically won't go away in three or four days. And even if it does, you'll be right back to where you were if you go running around on Friday night playing soccer."

Our collective moods sunk as the three of us shook hands with the doctor and prepared to leave. We headed out of the office and pushed the elevator button. No one said a word. While the news wasn't horrible, it also wasn't what we were hoping to hear, either. We got on the elevator to head downstairs to the parking lot. As the door closed, Doctor Fitzpatrick came out of the office and quickly made his way to the elevator, putting his arm in the middle of the door to stop it from closing. He got in the elevator, the door closed, and he hit the "stop button" to keep the elevator from moving.

"OK, listen to me," the doc said. "And if you tell anyone that I told you to do this, the relationship between this hospital and the soccer team comes to an end on the spot. You are absolutely forbidden from telling anyone that I recommended this treatment. Is that clear?"

Everyone nodded in agreement.

"Get in your car right now and drive to Chestnut Ridge Golf Course in Lutherville. In the pro shop, they have copper bracelets. Golfers wear them for athritic and tendonitis conditions in their wrists and arms. They work wonders. Go there now, get two of them, and wear one on each arm for the next day or two and see if that helps. I think it will. I know it will, in fact." He again reiterated the importance of keeping this rogue treatment a secret and reinforced that the longstanding relationship between the team and the sports medicine facility would end if any of us revealed the "secret" he shared.

Dave played in the game on Friday night.

The doctor was spot-on with his diagnosis and even more right about the non-conventional treatment of Dave's knee. He wore the copper bracelets as instructed and was nearly pain-free by Thursday. He was able to practice the day before the game and suited up and played a regular shift on Friday in our playoff game.

The wonders of modern medicine, right?

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Terps Spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his second season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2015-2016 and is presented by The Wine Merchant, Baltimore's best source for fine wines and spirits. The Wine Merchant is also a great place to stop for your carry-out lunch and dinner needs. Look for Drew's "Wine Winner" choice when you visit The Wine Merchant!


The Maryland Terps won their Big 10 opener against Penn State last night, 70-64, behind 39 points and 12 rebounds from their likely-one-and-done center Diamond Stone. Stone’s 39 was a record for a freshman at Maryland. In a game where Melo Trimble played what may have been his worst forty minutes as a Terp, where the best Terp outside shooters shot a combined 3 for 17 from behind the 3 point line, and where Maryland continually got beat on one on one moves, they still managed to win. Thank you Diamond Stone. Maryland, who trailed most of the night, used a late surge to beat the Nittany Lions of Penn State. It wasn’t easy.

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39 points from Diamond Stone was the catalyst for Maryland's come-from-behind win over Penn State on Wednesday.

In what was the worst and most lackluster half of Maryland’s season to date, the Terps found themselves behind 31-23 after the first 20 minutes. Shep Garner paced the Nittany Lions with 12 points. Of the 13 made baskets by Penn State, only two were assisted, as Penn State continually broke down the Maryland would be defenders with one on one moves. The Terps were out-rebounded 17 to 10 and out-played in every aspect of the game. The starting five for Maryland played about as badly as one could imagine.

The starters managed to only corral an almost unbelievable 3 rebounds in the opening half and shot four for seventeen. They seemed to settle for bad shots far too often and way too quickly. Melo Trimble looked lost while missing all but one of his five shots and turning over the ball twice against only one assist. Robert Carter Jr matched Trimble’s start with a one for five shooting performance of his own, and grabbed a lone rebound. As a team, Maryland shot 6 for 24 with seven turnovers. The Terps seemed destined for a monumental upset.

To start the second half, Maryland needed only 3:24 seconds to erase the 8 point Nittany Lion lead and take a one point advantage of their own. Diamond Stone was dominant on the inside, but he got little help. Penn State then used a 19 to 5 run over a 7:50 stretch to claim a 13 point lead, 58-45, with 6:19 remaining in the game. Everyone pitched in for the Nittany Lions including 5 points each by Davis Zemgulis, Brandon Taylor (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Donovan Jack. Again, Maryland was getting beat with one on one moves and seemed a step slower than their energized rivals. Only Stone, who scored 32 of his 39 points in the second half, kept the Terps fairly close. The last 6:19 belonged solely to Maryland. They outscored Penn State 25-6 during that stretch.

It all started with a 7 point outburst by Stone in just 45 seconds. The highlight of his run may have been his steal around half court and a finish that included a traditional three point play. Suddenly the Terps had new life and the lead was down to 6. Two foul shots by State guard Peyton Banks were followed by a Melo Trimble 3-pointer (10 points on 3 for 15 shooting), cutting the lead to 5. A Stone dunk and another three by Trimble had the game tied at 60 with 3:49 left. Stone then scored six straight for the Terps who had a 2 point lead with 31 seconds left when Robert Carter Jr delivered a 3 point dagger from behind the line. A foul shot by Stone finished the scoring for the night and sealed the 70-64 Terrapin win.

In summary, Maryland just didn’t play hard enough early on. Once behind, there was an eerie lack of confidence that crept into their game, especially on offense when shots were not falling. They were fortunate to have Stone, who was too big and too strong for Penn State’s interior defenders. It’s a bit unfortunate that this may have been the game to seal the deal on him being a one and done guy. I’m sure the scouts loved his intensity, desire, and 19 for 25 from the foul line. It was Diamond Stone’s show for sure. Welcome to the Big 10 Mr. Stone. I’m sure your stay won’t be long.


do you have springsteen tickets, but don't want to drive?

There's probably nothing that takes the steam out of going to a concert more than having to drive yourself to the venue. I guess the same can be said for an athletic event, too, particularly if you like to relax and enjoy an adult beverage or two while you're at the game.

With no disrespect intended for the building itself, driving from Baltimore to the Verizon Center can be particularly tension-filled and aggravating, especially if you're driving in something even close to rush hour traffic.

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Are you going to see The Boss on Jan. 29? We'll drive you there!

That got me to thinking yesterday. How many people in Baltimore have tickets to the Bruce Springsteen show on January 29 at the Verizon Center? The event is already sold out, 19,000 tickets gone in a matter of minutes, and my guess is a significant percentage of those 19,000 seats will be occupied by folks from our neck of the woods. And who, in Baltimore, wants to get in their car at 5:00 pm and drive down to DC on a Friday night to see "The Boss"? Obviously, you have to get there somehow if you have tickets...but who REALLY wants to drive down there, pay the tolls, fight the traffic, park your car and so on? Oh, and if you're driving, you can't have that beer or two before, during or after the concert, either.

Introducing -- the "Bruce Bus". I'm going to provide a full, 56-passenger luxury motor coach on January 29 for anyone who has tickets and wants to ride down to the show in DC. I don't have access to tickets at this point (although I might get my hands on a dozen or so in two weeks -- and if I do, I'll let you all know) so this would be "bus ride only", but you can ride to DC in comfort on January 29 and leave all the driving worries to us. Oh, and we'll feed you on the ride down, provide unlimited beer, soft drinks and water, and I'll even throw on a Springsteen DVD to get everyone pumped up for the show. We'll drive, you relax and enjoy yourself. Dinner, drinks and safe travels on us. You just go and enjoy The Boss.

It's $49 to reserve your seat on our "Bruce Bus". We'll be leaving the Towson area around 5 pm, which gets us into DC in plenty of time for the show. If you want to reserve a seat or seats on the bus, you MUST e-mail me directly -- 18inarow@gmail.com. That's the only way I'm taking reservations.


#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

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dundalk owls wins holiday tournament

After falling one win short of reaching the 3A state semifinals last year, the Dundalk boys basketball team got off to a slow 1-2 start this year. On Tuesday, however, the Owls won for the fourth consecutive time, dropping Prince Georges County’s Duval High School, a team which did reach the 4A state semis last winter, 58-44, in the championship game of the Green Bracket at the Dundalk Holiday Tournament

Duval, which also won this tournament last year, had to chase the Owls all night after Dundalk (5-2) rolled out to a 17-8 advantage after one quarter.

All but one of Dundalk’s points came from five players who all scored in double-figures. Malik Winston’s 14-points were team-high, while Nick Parrish had 12 and Duron Ball scored 11. In addition Carl Bradley and Keshawn Henry both scored 10 points, with Bradley establishing a new season-high.

The title was Dundalk’s first in the five year history of the event. In addition to Duval, previous winners include Lake Clifton and Centennial twice.

Thanks to our friends at Varsity Sports Network for coverage of this holiday tournament. For more holiday hoops results, check out www.varsitysportsnetwork.com

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2016 fantasy golf preview -- my #8 player to watch

With the PGA Tour season about to continue next week (but it feels like the start of the season, I know...it's weird) and the "real season" set to commence in Hawaii, I thought this would be a good time to start my fantasy golf contributions here at #DMD. Each Wednesday during tournament week, I'll give you four players to watch plus a couple of sleepers that you can use (or not) in your various fantasy golf opportunities. We'll be having our own fantasy golf contests throughout the upcoming year thanks to our friends at Glory Days Grill, so be on the lookout for those later on this winter and into next spring.

For the next ten days, though, I'll give you my own personal list of the Top 10 players to watch for the remainder of the 2015-2016 TOUR season. You will know most of these guys and a couple you might not, but if you pay attention to the PGA Tour, you'll hear from all of them at some point over the next ten months or so.

Number 8 -- Louis Oosthuizen

He's won a lot around the world but hasn't yet become a household name on the PGA Tour, but I think that's going to change in 2016. Watch out for Louis Oosthuizen. For starters, let's get you pronouncing his name correctly: It's Loo-eee Oooost-hazen. There, now you're rolling. As for his golf, Oosthuizen is one of the most talented players in the world. He already has a British Open title and has now lost twice in major championship playoffs. He fell to Bubba Watson at the Masters in 2012 when Watson pulled a rabbit out of his hat on the first playoff hole and then lost last summer's British Open playoff at St. Andrews, eventually won by Zach Johnson.

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The man with the silky smooth swing and great putting stroke will have himself a big year in 2016.

Oosthuizen is the complete player. The only small blemish on his game might be around the greens, but when you hit it in the middle of the fairway and knock it on the putting surface 15 times a round, your short game doesn't need to be all that sharp. When his putter is on, he's a world-beater, as we saw last fall at The President's Cup. Watch for Louis to have a huge year on the PGA Tour in 2016. In fact, I'm calling it now: He wins one of the four majors in '16.


another "bucket list" trip coming up -- we're heading to The Palestra

This trip, I'll admit, is close to my heart.

Sure, our bus trip to see the Caps and Flyers on January 27 and Golden State Warriors-Washington Wizards on February 3 will be fun. Our April 5 pilgrimage to Augusta National and the Masters practice round will be memorable for everyone. And our summer baseball trip to Boston and Fenway Park will be an absolute blast. I'm not downplaying any of those trips at all when I brag heavily about what we're going to be doing on February 20.

We're going to "The Cathedral of College Basketball", otherwise known as "The Palestra" on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. What's there, you ask? Only the greatest college basketball venue on the east coast, that's what. And it's 90 minutes away. Penn will be taking on Yale that night (7 pm) and #DMD is packing a bus full of people to take it all in. Best of all, we're just about as close to courtside as you can get, just a few rows up from the floor, packed in there on a Saturday night to witness not only a game, but to experience the building that still, today, is on every high school and college basketball player's personal "bucket list". If you play in The Palestra, you've made it.

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You have to see a game in there at least once: The Palestra on the campus of UPenn.

Officially, here's The Palestra: The Palestra, often called the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 235 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927. The Palestra has been called "the most important building in the history of college basketball" and "changed the entire history of the sport for which it was built."

The arena originally seated about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game.

Since its inception, the Palestra has hosted more games, more visiting teams, and more NCAA tournaments than any other facility in college basketball.

I've been to The Palestra twice. If you haven't yet been, make this trip with us. I promise, you'll leave the building with goosebumps.

We're doing the whole trip for $69 per-person. Here's what you get: Round-trip motor coach transportation from Towson to Philadelphia. A delicious Palmisano's sub and other snacks, along with beer, soft drinks and water on the ride up to Philadelphia. A lower level, near-courtside seat for the Penn-Yale game. And a commemortative, limited-edition "I saw The Palestra!" tee-shirt.

All of that for $69 per-person. I was only able to get 30 tickets, so at this point, that's all we're taking. I'm working on more tickets in the event demand warrants it, but if you want to be one of the first 30 to get on the bus and go to Philly, we'd love to have you.

Just click right here to reach The Palestra page, make your payment and secure your spot on the trip.


my new wine winner is available at the wine merchant

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Your one-stop shop for wine, beer and spirits.

Just in time for New Year's Eve, I'm back to give you a red-hot tip on a great bottle of wine that you can pick up at an affordable price ($15.00) from my friends at The Wine Merchant in Lutherville. And, going against my preference for reds, I finally have a white wine as my "winner". And there's a back story to this, so settle in for a minute.

When the Super Bowl was played in Phoenix back in 2008, I did my morning radio show from the downtown convention center out there. It was a four-block walk back to my hotel, and on the first day of my show, Monday, I slugged my way back around 5 pm ready to take a quick nap before the evening's festivities. As I entered the lobby, someone saw my media credential and approached me. "We have a media Happy Hour every day this week from 5 pm to 7 pm," he said. "Come on in and have a drink on us."

That was perfect, of course. An end-of-the-day drink (or two) was just what the doctor ordered. When I got into the main bar area, someone else approached me with a tray of wine and said, "Would you like red or white?" And so it began. I would quickly learn that Kim Crawford Wines was sponsoring the Happy Hour and the wine available at the bar that week was all from Kim Crawford. And that's when I discovered Sauvignon Blanc. It was truly the first white wine I had ever really liked and now, eight years later, it's still the only one I'll purchase (for myself) and drink.

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Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for your holiday get-togethers.

So last weekend when I ventured into The Wine Merchant to choose a new "winner" to promote here at #DMD, I went looking for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. And, of course, they have it there. And it's affordable, as all of their wine offerings are, I should remind you. The KC Sauvignon Blanc comes from an area in New Zealand -- Marlborough -- that is famous for producing great grapes that help create awesome bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. The taste, to me, is MUCH different than a Pinot Grigios or Chardonnay. It's less buttery, less "bubbly" and far more complimentary to foods than either of the other two white wines I just referenced. It's a personal taste-thing, of course, but I just think Sauvignon Blanc is an overall better experience than anything else white.

In the bottle you can find at The Wine Merchant, you'll taste a hint of lime and even what I think might be a dash of grapefruit. It's awesome with any sort of fish and especially friendly with salads, deli meats and other appetizer-tray set-ups you find around the holiday season.

Visit The Wine Merchant and ask for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. You'll see my "Wine Winner" card right there on the box!


Wednesday
December 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 30

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if cespedes is so good, how come he's unemployed?

That's a legitimate question.

If you're merely a casual baseball fan or a stats-geek who believes things like fWAR, wOBA and ISO are critical to determining a player's true value, there's one thing you both likely agree on: Yoenis Cespedes is a baller. For simple comparison sake -- and please don't spend a lot of time combing through this statement, it's just a broad-brush overview -- he's Adam Jones without the bubblegum, which is to say he's essentially able to do everything our talented centerfielder can do, although, as we saw in the World Series, he's a tad more prone to the defensive lapse than Jones.

In general, though, Cespedes is the same kind of player as Jones; he hits for average (.271 to Jones' .278), gets on base (.318 OBP to Jones' .319) and has power (averages 30 HR to Jones' 26). With the bat, he's very dangerous. His right arm is part-muscle, part-cannon. Go to YouTube and just type "Cespedes throw" into the search bar and see what comes up.

There are plenty of people who make a living talking, following and studying baseball who have said over and over this winter that pound-for-pound, Cespedes is the best player available this off-season. He's the hidden gem. Jason Heyward got the big contract from the Cubs and Justin Upton is the manager's dream, but lots of folks say if you strip them to their core, Cespedes is the best of the three.

So why isn't he employed?

And before you say, "Because he wants $300 million", I'll caution you to not say that. Because that ISN'T why he doesn't yet have a team. You'd think, given his age (30) and blossoming stats that Cespedes would have 15 teams at his door, all shoving an extra year, an extra five million and extra "whatever he wants, we'll provide" at him. But he doesn't. As Gene Hackman said over and over at the end of The Birdcage -- I don't understand.

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Someone should tell Cespedes that wearing #52 in Baltimore is a privilege...

It's been reported that the Mets passed on re-signing Cespedes because he wants $150 million over six years and they were only willing to go three or four years for him. Don't laugh when I say this, even though it IS comical, but $150 million over six years is one of those just-what-the-doctor-ordered contracts for most MLB teams. These days, to REALLY show a player you want him, clubs need to pony up seven and eight year contracts. Cespedes is willing to settle for six years at $25 million per. Heck, his press conference (when he eventually signs somewhere) should be at Ollie's.

I bring up Cespedes this morning because the Orioles and White Sox are apparently/evidently the two finalists for his services. That news surfaced yesterday, which must mean the O's -- if the story is true -- are fully and completely read to pass on re-signing Chris Davis. If Cespedes joined the Orioles, he either plays left field and newcomer Hyun-soo Kim shifts over to right field or vice versa. One thing for sure: Adam Jones isn't going anywhere. A Cespedes signing would likely also mean one of two things; Mark Trumbo gets time at first base (along, perhaps, with Steve Pearce?) or the O's get a bargain basement first baseman until they figure out a better solution. I think we all know Cespedes and Davis can't fit on the same payroll line.

So, about that unemployment status...

He's had FOUR teams -- FOUR -- since defecting from Cuba and joining the Oakland A's in 2012. That's not a typo, friends. He came to this country in 2012. It's now (almost) 2016. He's had more teams (four) than most of you have had family vacations since his arrival. And he's not a scrub, either. He's a very good player. Oakland had him originally, and probably because getting rid of good players is just what they do, they sent him packing to Boston in 2014. He stayed with the Red Sox for a few months, then they shipped him off to the Tigers last winter. Detroit peddled him to the Mets last summer. Four teams in four seasons. Something's not adding up. And yes, I'm aware the Tigers moved him last summer because they were bottoming out and the Mets wanted him...but four teams is four teams. It's not a low blow...just a fact.

Add to all of that the fact it's now nearly January and he still doesn't have a team for 2016. I know, neither do Davis or Upton, but that's mainly because they've priced themselves out of the league for the time being. Cespedes, if the numbers we read are true, is begging for a team to take him. And yet, no one has. I don't understand.

I'd love to see the Orioles get Cespedes. He'd beast-up at Camden Yards, much like we all think Mark Trumbo has the ability to do next summer. But, just like I was skeptical with the Trumbo trade for a bag-of-balls and a dozen round-trip airline tickets, I'm wondering why Cespedes hasn't already been scooped up by someone else? Do the Yankees not need another solid outfielder who can make them better? Why aren't they after him? I know why Boston and Detroit aren't after him...they had him once and tossed him away -- quickly. Don't the Cardinals need a quality player to take the place of Heyward? The Royals seem like they're a good fit for anyone who can get on base, why aren't they the landing spot for Cespedes? None of it adds up.

Maybe in the end it's just the constant back-of-the-brain thing I have about the Orioles signing any high quality free agent. Why Baltimore? Why are we the ones who win your services, since we're rarely, if ever, a player in that game? The Orioles...getting Yoenis Cespedes? I don't understand.

I hope it's just one of those right-player-right-price issues that have left Cespedes unemployed this long. I mean, it IS fair to note that Chris Davis and Justin Upton are both still without a team, but I'll reiterate that I'm sure that has more to do with their asking price and less to do with anything about their character, skill set or flaws. Cespedes doesn't fit that model. He's willing to sign a reasonable deal (it's OK to giggle when I write that and you read it) with anyone. But four teams in four years isn't something to overlook. It's concerning, to me at least, and most certainly worth looking at very closely before handing the guy $150 million.

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Terps Spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his second season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2015-2016 and is presented by The Wine Merchant, Baltimore's best source for fine wines and spirits. The Wine Merchant is also a great place to stop for your carry-out lunch and dinner needs. Look for Drew's "Wine Winner" choice when you visit The Wine Merchant!


It has been said that in college basketball there are three “seasons”. The first season, the collection of games that teams play prior to their conference games, is now complete. Tonight, the Maryland Terrapins (11-1), begin season number two when they welcome the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4) into the Xfinity Center in College Park for the regular season Big 10 opener for both squads. Season three, the post season tournaments, should be vastly different for these two teams meeting tonight.

The 15-point underdog Penn State team will have much to overcome if they want to contend against the much more talented Maryland Terrapins. Besides being much smaller than Maryland, they only shoot 41% from the field, 30% from the 3 point line and have more turnovers than assists. Penn State has some nice pieces, but they don’t always come together to be an efficient and productive unit. 6’6” senior forward Brandon Taylor is Penn State’s leading scorer with 16 per game, and their leading rebounder with an average of 6.2. At 37%, he can be dangerous from the 3 point line and can score inside when not guarded by a bigger defender. He is a husky 225 lbs, but does not play “long” and is a bit undersized at the power forward position. Sophomore guard Shep Garner can get real hot from the outside as evidenced by his 30 point explosion against Boston College (including 8 threes). Although only a second year player, he is clearly the leader on this team but struggles with consistency.

PSU freshman Josh Reaves excels in the role as a slasher/scorer, but has only converted 3 of 28 three point attempts. If he adds an outside shot to his arsenal, this 6’4” guard could enjoy success in the Big 10. He is real aggressive and quick going to the basket, and does not shy away from contact. Sophomore 6’10 forward Julian Moore is going to be a good player in this league, but right now he lacks the seasoning of more polished interior defenders. He is long, athletic, and nimble around the basket on offense. Senior center 7’1” Jordan Dickerson may get the start, but he is virtually lost defensively and should provide little resistance to Maryland’s inside game.

As individuals, Taylor, Garner, Moore, and Reaves are descent pieces. As a group, they lack the defensive skills and size to stop the Terps. Penn State frequently is slow to retreat, often giving up easy baskets. Lastly, they really don’t have that one true ball handling point guard that can settle a team down and effectively run an offense. As a result they often seem sloppy and careless with the ball. Good pieces, average team. The Nittany Lions, I believe, are one year away from jumping into the next tier in the Big 10. Next year, when they add a stellar recruiting class to the improving players that will return, they should upgrade the expectations in State College. For this year, while they have enough talent to contend on most nights and win on some, their lack of size, ball handling, and cohesiveness will continue to haunt them.

Defensively, Penn State has played extended stretches in a 3-2 zone. However, no one will confuse this zone with the zone played by Syracuse or the one played by some of John Chaney’s Temple teams. This zone has holes that can be exploited by good ball movement. The Terps should enjoy an abundance of good looks from the perimeter, inside, and from entry passes to the foul line area. The Terps, and coach Turgeon, surely remember the two hard fought close wins against Penn State last year. They won’t take this opener, at home, lightly. Penn State is way overmatched here and despite Nittany Lions head coach, Pat Chambers’ ability to get his teams to play hard for 40 minutes, this will be a big win for Maryland. Penn State won’t score enough, or defend enough, to keep this from being a blowout. The Terps have five players averaging double digit points and that could easily happen tonight. My score prediction: Maryland 82-Penn State 62.


my new wine winner is available at the wine merchant

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Your one-stop shop for wine, beer and spirits.

Just in time for New Year's Eve, I'm back to give you a red-hot tip on a great bottle of wine that you can pick up at an affordable price ($15.00) from my friends at The Wine Merchant in Lutherville. And, going against my preference for reds, I finally have a white wine as my "winner". And there's a back story to this, so settle in for a minute.

When the Super Bowl was played in Phoenix back in 2008, I did my morning radio show from the downtown convention center out there. It was a four-block walk back to my hotel, and on the first day of my show, Monday, I slugged my way back around 5 pm ready to take a quick nap before the evening's festivities. As I entered the lobby, someone saw my media credential and approached me. "We have a media Happy Hour every day this week from 5 pm to 7 pm," he said. "Come on in and have a drink on us."

That was perfect, of course. An end-of-the-day drink (or two) was just what the doctor ordered. When I got into the main bar area, someone else approached me with a tray of wine and said, "Would you like red or white?" And so it began. I would quickly learn that Kim Crawford Wines was sponsoring the Happy Hour and the wine available at the bar that week was all from Kim Crawford. And that's when I discovered Sauvignon Blanc. It was truly the first white wine I had ever really liked and now, eight years later, it's still the only one I'll purchase (for myself) and drink.

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Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is perfect for your holiday get-togethers.

So last weekend when I ventured into The Wine Merchant to choose a new "winner" to promote here at #DMD, I went looking for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. And, of course, they have it there. And it's affordable, as all of their wine offerings are, I should remind you. The KC Sauvignon Blanc comes from an area in New Zealand -- Marlborough -- that is famous for producing great grapes that help create awesome bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. The taste, to me, is MUCH different than a Pinot Grigios or Chardonnay. It's less buttery, less "bubbly" and far more complimentary to foods than either of the other two white wines I just referenced. It's a personal taste-thing, of course, but I just think Sauvignon Blanc is an overall better experience than anything else white.

In the bottle you can find at The Wine Merchant, you'll taste a hint of lime and even what I think might be a dash of grapefruit. It's awesome with any sort of fish and especially friendly with salads, deli meats and other appetizer-tray set-ups you find around the holiday season.

Visit The Wine Merchant and ask for Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. You'll see my "Wine Winner" card right there on the box!

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2016 fantasy golf preview -- my #9 player to watch

With the PGA Tour season about to continue next week (but it feels like the start of the season, I know...it's weird) and the "real season" set to commence in Hawaii, I thought this would be a good time to start my fantasy golf contributions here at #DMD. Each Wednesday during tournament week, I'll give you four players to watch plus a couple of sleepers that you can use (or not) in your various fantasy golf opportunities. We'll be having our own fantasy golf contests throughout the upcoming year thanks to our friends at Glory Days Grill, so be on the lookout for those later on this winter and into next spring.

For the next ten days, though, I'll give you my own personal list of the Top 10 players to watch for the remainder of the 2015-2016 TOUR season. You will know most of these guys and a couple you might not, but if you pay attention to the PGA Tour, you'll hear from all of them at some point over the next ten months or so.

Number 9 -- Paul Casey

After a three-year injury-riddled downfall that basically took him off the world golf map, Paul Casey stormed back on the scene in 2015, healthy and showing signs he's ready to once again rise to a Top 10 player in the world. Expect him to make that sort of progress in 2016. He's back.

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Expect Paul Casey to be a significant factor on the PGA Tour in 2016.

The biggest story involving Casey in 2015 might not have been his return to form, but the fact that in late November he announced he wouldn't compete on the European Tour in 2016, instead opting to focus fully on his PGA Tour campaign. That decision essentially eliminates any chance he'll have of making the Ryder Cup team next fall, which means there's one less quality player for Europe to bring to Hazeltine when they face off against what should be a supremely talented U.S. squad. Casey is a dynamic player when he's healthy and "on", which was on full display throughout the second half of last year when he moved back into the Top 50 and made 20 of 24 cuts with a pair of runner-up finishes and eight Top 10's overall. When his putter is hot, watch out. That's why Darren Clarke will miss him the most at Hazeltine. Casey has always been a fiery competitor and, much like fellow countrymen Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood, the Ryder Cup seems to bring out the best in him.

Watch for him to contend at the majors in 2016 and don't be at all surprised if Paul Casey wins one of "the big four" in 2016. He's ready to reign supreme again.

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another "bucket list" trip coming up -- we're heading to The Palestra

This trip, I'll admit, is close to my heart.

Sure, our bus trip to see the Caps and Flyers on January 27 and Golden State Warriors-Washington Wizards on February 3 will be fun. Our April 5 pilgrimage to Augusta National and the Masters practice round will be memorable for everyone. And our summer baseball trip to Boston and Fenway Park will be an absolute blast. I'm not downplaying any of those trips at all when I brag heavily about what we're going to be doing on February 20.

We're going to "The Cathedral of College Basketball", otherwise known as "The Palestra" on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. What's there, you ask? Only the greatest college basketball venue on the east coast, that's what. And it's 90 minutes away. Penn will be taking on Yale that night (7 pm) and #DMD is packing a bus full of people to take it all in. Best of all, we're just about as close to courtside as you can get, just a few rows up from the floor, packed in there on a Saturday night to witness not only a game, but to experience the building that still, today, is on every high school and college basketball player's personal "bucket list". If you play in The Palestra, you've made it.

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You have to see a game in there at least once: The Palestra on the campus of UPenn.

Officially, here's The Palestra: The Palestra, often called the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 235 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927. The Palestra has been called "the most important building in the history of college basketball" and "changed the entire history of the sport for which it was built."

The arena originally seated about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game.

Since its inception, the Palestra has hosted more games, more visiting teams, and more NCAA tournaments than any other facility in college basketball.

I've been to The Palestra twice. If you haven't yet been, make this trip with us. I promise, you'll leave the building with goosebumps.

We're doing the whole trip for $69 per-person. Here's what you get: Round-trip motor coach transportation from Towson to Philadelphia. A delicious Palmisano's sub and other snacks, along with beer, soft drinks and water on the ride up to Philadelphia. A lower level, near-courtside seat for the Penn-Yale game. And a commemortative, limited-edition "I saw The Palestra!" tee-shirt.

All of that for $69 per-person. I was only able to get 30 tickets, so at this point, that's all we're taking. I'm working on more tickets in the event demand warrants it, but if you want to be one of the first 30 to get on the bus and go to Philly, we'd love to have you.

Just click right here to reach The Palestra page, make your payment and secure your spot on the trip.


Tuesday
December 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 29

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rosenthal, crasnick change their bonds and clemens tune, but i haven't

Two of the best baseball writers in the country stepped forward recently with admissions that bode well for the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as both Ken Rosenthal (FOX Sports) and Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) say they've each voted -- for the first-time ever -- for Bonds and Clemens on their 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.

This, of course, is significant because Rosenthal and Crasnick could lead a new wave of voters who have previously refused to vote for Bonds and Clemens -- and others -- because of their ties to PED's and steroids.

Because writing is at the root of what both men do for a living, Rosenthal and Crasnick both made their decisions public recently. It also gave each of them a chance to breathe normally again, I suppose, and remove the stigma of "the high and mighty baseball writer" now that they've admitted a change in course. Both writers pretty much said the same thing when they wrote their respective pieces on why they changed their minds and voted, specifically, for Bonds and Clemens.

Rosenthal: I remember writing in Dec. 2012, the first year Bonds and Clemens were eligible, "The thought of a user giving his acceptance speech at Cooperstown makes me cringe. Yet I also remember saying in the first sentence of that Hall of Fame column, "I'm wavering." I never dismissed the arguments on the other side. And I'm not necessarily embracing them now that I'm reversing course. I'm simply fulfilling my vow to stay open-minded and make the best decision possible each year.

I voted for Bonds and Clemens. I might vote for other alleged and confirmed users in the future. Honestly, I'm no more content with my current ballot than I was with my previous ones. But at the same time, I no longer could justify snubbing two of the greatest players of this era."

More Rosenthal:

"I still believe that those who use the uncertainty to justify voting for "everyone" are copping out, acting almost as if nothing inappropriate had ever happened. And I still don't buy the argument that those who withhold votes from alleged users are self-righteous "moral gatekeepers." The Hall instructs voters to consider "integrity, character and sportsmanship" as well a player's performance. Voters are free to interpret those instructions however they see fit.

In reversing my position with Bonds and Clemens, I'm simply acknowledging that I no longer am comfortable performing the mental gymnastics necessary to submit a ballot without their names. I also believe that both have paid enough of a penalty — and will continue to pay a penalty in the future, whether they are elected or not."

Rosenthal went on to comment on something relative to acknowledging PED and steroid users, but I'll save that for a little later, because it dovetails directly with my longtime thoughts on allowing guys like Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, etc. into Cooperstown.

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Jerry Crasnick's 2016 baseball Hall of Fame ballot showed a change of heart.

Crasnick echoed much of what Rosenthal wrote, although he clearly showed more of a personal disdain for Bonds and Clemens: "Since steroid use and PED allegations became a factor in Hall balloting, I've tried to walk a more discerning middle ground, judging players case by case and waiting for time to provide some clarity. I believed that clear-eyed detachment would win out in the long run and that the process of culling the real men from the shortcut-takers would become less onerous every year.

The joke was on me. For all my dilatory tactics, the passage of time has proved clarity is a mirage, and we just alternate between lighter and darker shades of gray.

Even without their turbo-charged ascents into statistical fantasyland, you can make the case Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Famers if they had only quit while they were ahead. In 1998, at age 33, Bonds was a three-time MVP who ranked 34th on The Sporting News' list of 100 greatest players. He had already accumulated a Wins Above Replacement of 94.6 -- more than Al Kaline, Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson and several other outfield greats amassed in their entire careers."Is it troubling that Bonds and Clemens were so narcissistic or tone deaf to perception to destroy their legacies? Of course. But they were also a product of their era. And it's delusional to think we, as baseball writers, can uphold some quaint notion of the Hall as a bastion of competitive purity while fans who trek to Cooperstown each summer just want to visit a museum and see the game's history on display with all its complicated messiness."

Crasnick added: "Where's the dividing line? Does a prospective Hall of Famer need to flunk a test (Rafael Palmeiro), get misty in front of Bob Costas (Mark McGwire), appear in the New York Times for a positive test result (Sammy Sosa) or earn a mention in the Mitchell report (Gary Sheffield) to be disqualified from consideration? And what about amphetamines? Do we simply wink at that transgression and move on? While debating these and other questions through the years, I've split more hairs than Vidal Sassoon.

Both Rosenthal and Crasnick made sound, well-reasoned arguments for their shift in thought(s). Sure, it's a caving-in of sorts, and I'll admit I'm more surprised at Rosenthal's decision than Crasnick's, although perhaps Rosenthal's ever-evolving role as one of baseball's best writers and in-game TV reporters made him realize, finally, that fighting-the-fight gets more difficult when you make such a hard stance against the history of the game and its long list of great players. I'm stopping far, far, short of calling either of them a sell-out, please know that. I completely understand that it's possible to change your stride after a decade, or more, because I've done that on numerous topics involving sports, including the very topic of discussion here and now -- steroids.

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The debate about the various levels of cheating that has gone on in baseball forever and how each can be justified -- or not -- is part of the problem. Gaylord Perry, an admitted spitballer and, thus, cheater, is in Cooperstown, for example, and my Dad and your Dad would snicker and giggle when they come across his plaque, explaining to you in ways you probably couldn't understand how "Gaylord threw something none of them boys could hit and it drove 'em all crazy..." Plenty of guys who relied on amphetamines are in the Hall of Fame, as Rosenthal and Crasnick both referenced, but they were welcomed in with open arms. If taking speed pills didn't "help their game", why did they take them in the '70's and '80's? We all know that answer. Because they did help. They enhanced their performance.

So, it does get gray -- or darker -- when discussion about Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, Sosa comes along and the likes of Gaylord Perry aren't (retroactively) brought into the discussion. But I have a solution for that. Rosenthal went as far as to even loosely bring up -- and shoot down -- my idea, which I've been touting for years, so the thought of detailing a player's career and his related involvement with PED's and steroids has been broached on a broader level than just some random guy in Baltimore talking about it.

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This is what a "normal" plaque looks like in Cooperstown.

I say "let the steroid guys in", which is a change in direction for me, too, because seven years ago, I would have preferred to keep them out. But, as both Rosenthal and Crasnick alluded to, "keeping them out" just doesn't work. Their numbers are their numbers, their quality of play is unarguable, and the impact they had on the game needs to published, which falls short of saying their impact on the game needs to be honored. Someone walking through the halls of Cooperstown needs to know about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and, yes, even Rafael Palmeiro. But, and here's MY solution, they should know THE WHOLE STORY. Thus, it's my contention that the likes of Bonds and Clemens should have their rightful position in Cooperstown, with a plaque that briefly but fully explains their role in the game.

Because we're in 2016 (nearly) and everyone who is anyone has a Wikipedia page, here's a slice from Bonds' page that would easily serve as the notation on his Cooperstown plaque:

Barry Lamar Bonds (born July 24, 1964) is an American former professional baseball left fielder who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. Bonds received seven NL MVP awards and 14 All-Star selections, and is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Bonds was regarded as an exceptional hitter, and finished his regular season career with a very high on-base percentage (.444) and isolated power (.309). He holds many MLB hitting records, including most career home runs, most home runs in a single season (73, set in 2001) and most career walks. He also received eight Gold Gloves for his defense in the outfield. He is ranked second in career Wins Above Replacement among all major league position players by both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.com, behind only Babe Ruth.

Bonds led a controversial career, notably as a central figure in baseball's steroids scandal. In 2003, Bonds first became embroiled in a scandal when Greg Anderson of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), Bonds' trainer since 2000, was indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and charged with supplying anabolic steroids to athletes, including a number of baseball players. This led to speculation that Bonds had used performance-enhancing drugs during a time when there was no mandatory testing in Major League Baseball. Bonds declared his innocence, attributing his changed physique and increased power to a strict regimen of bodybuilding, diet and legitimate supplements. In 2007, he was indicted on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to the grand jury during the federal government's investigation of BALCO. The perjury charges against Bonds were dropped, and he was also initially convicted of obstruction of justice, but that was overturned in 2015.

And there you have it.

I'm not sure at all what would be wrong with having that passage attached to Bonds' plaque in Cooperstown. That's precisely HIS story. If, for some reason, Bonds objected to that and threatened legal action, I'd simply tell him, "OK then, you're in the Hall of Fame, and will be recognized as a Hall of Famer, but no plaque will go up in Cooperstown." That, too, would be simple to justify. If baseball's Hall of Fame is indeed designed to honor, commemorate and "tell the story" of the players who were great enough to gain admission, what would be wrong with telling the Bonds story that way?

Clemens would get the same treatment: William Roger Clemens (born August 4, 1962), nicknamed "Rocket", is a retired American baseball pitcher who played 24 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for four teams. Clemens was one of the most dominant pitchers in major league history, tallying 354 wins, a 3.12 earned run average (ERA), and 4,672 strikeouts, the third-most all time. An 11-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion, he won seven Cy Young Awards during his career, the most of any pitcher in history. Clemens was known for his fierce competitive nature and hard-throwing pitching style, which he used to intimidate batters.

Clemens debuted in the major leagues in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox, whose pitching staff he anchored for 12 years. In 1986, he won the American League (AL) Cy Young Award, the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, and the All-Star Game MVP Award, and he struck out an MLB-record 20 batters in a single game. After the 1996 season, Clemens left Boston via free agency and joined the Toronto Blue Jays. In each of his two seasons with Toronto, Clemens won a Cy Young Award, as well as the pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Prior to the 1999 season, Clemens was traded to the New York Yankees where he won his two World Series titles. In 2003, he reached his 300th win and 4,000th strikeout in the same game. Clemens left for the Houston Astros in 2004, where he spent three seasons and won his seventh Cy Young Award. He rejoined the Yankees in 2007 for one last season before retiring.

Clemens was alleged by the Mitchell Report to have used anabolic steroids during his late career, mainly based on testimony given by his former trainer Brian McNamee. Clemens firmly denied these allegations under oath before the United States Congress, leading congressional leaders to refer his case to the Justice Department on suspicions of perjury. On August 19, 2010, a federal grand jury at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., indicted Clemens on six felony counts involving perjury, false statements and Contempt of Congress. Clemens pleaded not guilty, but proceedings were complicated by prosecutorial misconduct, leading to a mistrial.[ The verdict from his second trial came in on June 18, 2012. Clemens was found not guilty on all six counts of lying to Congress in 2008.

Rosenthal noted in his piece he wouldn't include steroid references on player's plaques: "The Hall need not chronicle an alleged user's misdeeds on his plaque. We all know the stories. We all have our opinions. The debate over such players will continue, and that debate will be healthy, even enlightening. The scarlet "S" for steroids, at least for the foreseeable future, will not go away.

I agree with Rosenthal on the general premise that "we all know the stories". But should Roger Clemens be afforded the same treatment, if you will, as guys like Jim Palmer, Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan, just to name three? Is it fair to those three guys that Clemens gets in the Hall of Fame without even the mere mention of the black eye he gave the game of baseball? That's a question to be pondered at length on another day, I suppose, but I think it's incredibly naive to just blindly say, "Eh, Palmer, Gibson and Ryan were probably on something too, so let's just lump them in together." We don't know that about Palmer, Gibson or Ryan. But we know PLENTY about Clemens, as his Wikipedia biography tells us and his plaque should, too.

And then, finally, there's always the trailing but present thought that we can't "offend" the great players like Bonds or Clemens by bringing up their PED connections in such an open, public way. As our country becomes more liberal, more open to anything-that-doesn't-kill-you (and in some cases, killing is acceptable these days) and more adopting of the mindset "Eh, what the hell, better to give in than to get sued", it's becoming more natural to just sweep guys like Bonds and Clemens into the Hall of Fame and treat them both as if nothing ever happened.

I don't disagree with Rosenthal and Crasnick. Bonds and Clemens should probably get all of our votes. But their role in the game and the manner in which they climbed to the top should always be noted. It's then up to you to make your own decision on how their respective careers stack up against the other greats who grace the halls and walls of Cooperstown.

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another "bucket list" trip coming up -- we're heading to The Palestra

This trip, I'll admit, is close to my heart.

Sure, our bus trip to see the Caps and Flyers on January 27 and Golden State Warriors-Washington Wizards on February 3 will be fun. Our April 5 pilgrimage to Augusta National and the Masters practice round will be memorable for everyone. And our summer baseball trip to Boston and Fenway Park will be an absolute blast. I'm not downplaying any of those trips at all when I brag heavily about what we're going to be doing on February 20.

We're going to "The Cathedral of College Basketball", otherwise known as "The Palestra" on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. What's there, you ask? Only the greatest college basketball venue on the east coast, that's what. And it's 90 minutes away. Penn will be taking on Yale that night (7 pm) and #DMD is packing a bus full of people to take it all in. Best of all, we're just about as close to courtside as you can get, just a few rows up from the floor, packed in there on a Saturday night to witness not only a game, but to experience the building that still, today, is on every high school and college basketball player's personal "bucket list". If you play in The Palestra, you've made it.

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You have to see a game in there at least once: The Palestra on the campus of UPenn.

Officially, here's The Palestra: The Palestra, often called the Cathedral of College Basketball, is a historic arena and the home gym of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers men's and women's basketball teams, volleyball teams, wrestling team, and Philadelphia Big 5 basketball. Located at 235 South 33rd St. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, near Franklin Field in the University City section of Philadelphia, it opened on January 1, 1927. The Palestra has been called "the most important building in the history of college basketball" and "changed the entire history of the sport for which it was built."

The arena originally seated about 10,000, but now seats 8,722 for basketball. The Palestra is famed for its close-to-the-court seating with the bleachers ending at the floor with no barrier to separate the fans from the game.

Since its inception, the Palestra has hosted more games, more visiting teams, and more NCAA tournaments than any other facility in college basketball.

I've been to The Palestra twice. If you haven't yet been, make this trip with us. I promise, you'll leave the building with goosebumps.

We're doing the whole trip for $69 per-person. Here's what you get: Round-trip motor coach transportation from Towson to Philadelphia. A delicious Palmisano's sub and other snacks, along with beer, soft drinks and water on the ride up to Philadelphia. A lower level, near-courtside seat for the Penn-Yale game. And a commemortative, limited-edition "I saw The Palestra!" tee-shirt.

All of that for $69 per-person. I was only able to get 30 tickets, so at this point, that's all we're taking. I'm working on more tickets in the event demand warrants it, but if you want to be one of the first 30 to get on the bus and go to Philly, we'd love to have you.

Just click right here to reach The Palestra page, make your payment and secure your spot on the trip.

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2016 fantasy golf preview -- my #10 player to watch

With the PGA Tour season about to continue next week (but it feels like the start of the season, I know...it's weird) and the "real season" set to commence in Hawaii, I thought this would be a good time to start my fantasy golf contributions here at #DMD. Each Wednesday during tournament week, I'll give you four players to watch plus a couple of sleepers that you can use (or not) in your various fantasy golf opportunities. We'll be having our own fantasy golf contests throughout the upcoming year thanks to our friends at Glory Days Grill, so be on the lookout for those later on this winter and into next spring.

For the next ten days, though, I'll give you my own personal list of the Top 10 players to watch for the remainder of the 2015-2016 TOUR season. You will know most of these guys and a couple you might not, but if you pay attention to the PGA Tour, you'll hear from all of them at some point over the next ten months or so.

Number 10 -- Justin Thomas

OK, it might be a little unfair to pick Thomas since he already has a huge win in Malaysia two months ago, where he edged Adam Scott by a shot, but Thomas is the real deal, as you'll see in 2016.

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After finishing 2014-2015 ranked 32nd in FedEx Cup points, expect Justin Thomas to be in the Top 15 or so this season.

It might be risky picking him at this lofty level, since there ARE nine better players than him on TOUR, but I think he breaks through in a big way over the next ten months. True, it's his sophomore season on TOUR and players are prone to that second-season slump, but I don't see this kid taking a downturn. He's going to remind you -- dare I say it? -- of Jordan Spieth, a guy who puts together several great weeks in a row and then busts through with a win -- or two -- over a 2-month period. In 2014-2015, he made 30 starts on TOUR, made the cut in 23 of them, and had seven top 10 finishes...and then won in his second event of the '15-16 campaign in Malaysia.

You'll see plenty of him in the majors in 2016 and, I'm almost certain, a lot of him in the Ryder Cup next fall at Hazeltine in Minnesota.


we still have seats left on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com


ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june
-- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

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Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow at gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


Monday
December 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 28

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as harbaugh, tomlin both showed -- coaching still matters

Coaching.

It still matters.

On a day Baltimore will remember for a long, long time, the Ravens delivered a bag of Christmas coal to Mike Tomlin and the Steelers on Sunday, beating them 20-17 with a mismatched group of offensive players and a quarterback three weeks removed from watching the games on television like the rest of the great unwashed. It won't be made into a holiday movie anytime soon, but we witnessed a live version of "Miracle on Russell Street" yesterday. And coaching -- on both sidelines -- made a difference.

For the good guys, the Ravens' win supports the work that's been put in by John Harbaugh and his staff in the wake of the team's worst season in nearly two decades. Simply put -- the home team played for their coaches yesterday and the visitors couldn't match that effort and intensity. Harbaugh, strangely maligned by a group of people in town with short memories, hasn't wavered once this year, despite an onslaught of injuries, bad calls and awful luck. Each week after a loss, he'd stand in front of the media and say, "We're going back to work...and we're going to get better." Lots of folks scoffed at those words. But "getting better" happened on Sunday when the Ravens beat the Steelers and for one Sunday, anyway, Baltimore remembered what it was like to win a football game that mattered.

On the other sideline, Mike Tomlin officially has a monkey-on-his-back and it's dressed in purple. Not only can the Steelers not beat the Ravens these days (Baltimore is 8-3 over the last five seasons plus a playoff win) but Tomlin chokes like a freshman asking a senior cheerleader to the prom. For whatever reason, he just can't pull the right strings against Baltimore. He's a good coach, don't get me wrong. I'd take him if Harbaugh and a couple of others weren't available for MY team. But something weird happens to Tomlin when the Ravens are on the other side.

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Yep, coach, look up at that scoreboard one more time. Remember it...

Tomlin gift-wrapped the game in Pittsburgh back on October 1st with a series of strange coaching calls, including, most importantly, an overtime decision to punt the ball away when a field goal (from 50 yards) would have won the game for his team. He started gagging right from the start yesterday, eschewing three points on the opening drive when he had his offense go for it on 4th and 1 at the Baltimore 25 yard line. Instead of marching down the field, kicking a field goal, and being "off and running" in the expected rout of the undermanned Ravens, Tomlin gave the Baltimore defense -- and the crowd -- reason to get excited when Pittsburgh didn't pick up the first down.

Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley bit perfectly on the bait dangled in front of them by Harbaugh and Dean Pees. Knowing they somehow needed to shorten the game, Pees had the Ravens play a front six and dropped five guys into coverage, opening up early running lanes that Pittsburgh gladly welcomed. Sure, they gouged the Baltimore defense early on and picked up running yards the way Adele will pick up Grammy's in February. But running the ball keeps the clock ticking...and unless you're scoring touchdowns from it, the game has a tendency to stay within anyone's grasp, which it did on Sunday. Tomlin inadvertently admitted his error at halftime when he was asked, point blank, "Why did you run the ball so much in the first half?" The coach replied: "We took what they were giving us. They gave us holes to run through so we took it."

Running the ball is precisely what the Ravens wanted Pittsburgh to do. It turned a 16-offensive-possessions affair into a 10-possessions contest (not counting the final play of the game as a possession) because the game got shortened by the Steelers' decision to run the ball. Bad coaching on one sideline, great coaching on the other. Again, Tomlin spit the bit against the Ravens.

Much will be made of Ryan Mallet's performance on Sunday and rightfully so. He stepped into a hornet's nest and came out with not even a red mark, let alone a sting or a welt. It helped, of course, that Pittsburgh's defense is laughably inept. How they've won nine games with a defense that pourous is beyond me. Mallet had a remarkable first half, then went back to being a guy who used-to-be-good in the second half, but by then, the Steelers were in trouble and all the Ravens had to do was not throw up on themselves and they were going to win. The good things about Mallet -- arm strength, staying in the pocket, reading the protections -- make him the odds-on favorite to be Flacco's back-up in 2016. Oh, and please don't be "that guy" who has visions of Mallet unseating Flacco for the starting job in 2016 based off of what you saw yesterday. There's being bold and there's being clown'ish. If you think Ryan Mallet is a better quarterback than Joe Flacco, go get yourself a pair of size 22 shoes.

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Looks like she needs an aspirin.

Yesterday's win was once again an epic demonstration on why you play the game -- from both teams. The Steelers, with their playoff lives on the line, were badly out-maneuvered, out-coached and out-hearted by a team far inferior to them. Everyone just assumed the Steelers were going to win, including the Steelers. The Ravens, with nothing to play for but pride, produced their best overall half of football all season (first half) and one of the most gratifying regular season wins in Harbaugh's eight-year tenure in Charm City. And much of it was connected to coaching, where the team responded to the voice they've been hearing all year, the one that kept saying, "We still have football left to be played and we're still going to accomplish something great this year."

Sunday, December 27 WAS great. It was a couple of days late, but it was the best 2015 Christmas gift Baltimore could have received.

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the manning hgh story is a true disgrace

Any media entity anywhere that published accounts of Saturday's story from Al Jazeera story linking Peyton Manning to HGH should have their printers shut down for one year.

Then again, if that happened, we'd have nothing to read until the end of 2016, because just about every media outlet in America picked up the story and went with it, mainly because they didn't want to be late to the party if, in fact, the future Hall of Famer took HGH to help speed up the healing process from his 2011 neck surgery.

Manning didn't use HGH, of course. The report cited a man named Charlie Sly, who allegedly spoke to an undercover reporter working for Al Jazeera, and identified himself as a former employee at a medical facility in Indianapolis where Manning received treatment after his neck injury. Sly would later admit he fabricated the entire story in an effort to determine whether the reporter "was legit" or not. Al Jazeera -- swimming in waters completely out of their depth -- decided they'd go ahead and run the blockbuster story anyway, implicating Manning and a few other prominent major league baseball players including Ryan Howard of the Phillies.

In some ways, Al Jazeera is no different than the mainstream American media, the same ones who found the Duke lacrosse team guilty and the same ones who put Richard Jewell's face on the front page and labeled him "The Olympic Bomber". They thought they had a story, so they ran it. Others around the country dove in, predictably, because someone's boss at every newspaper, website and radio station in the country undoubtedly panicked and said, "We can't get beat on this story...let's run it and then find out what the hell's really going on."

What's REALLY going on is -- nothing. There is no Peyton Manning-used-HGH-story. But that didn't stop everyone from acting like there was on Saturday. Hell, even a guy with a sports website in Baltimore sent out a tweet about it, although I credited the Huffington Post (which is where I first saw it), which was one of the first U.S. based media sources to run with the story. Once I read the story in detail, including the recantment from Sly, I could clearly see there was nothing to see. Another witch hunt, or at least the makings of one, just like they did to the kids at Duke and just like they did to Richard Jewell.

We should be better than that.

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put your money
where your mouth is

Well, that just about finishes me off for 2015. Unless I pull off a Ravens-like miracle in the final week of the regular season and then throughout the playoffs, I'm going to "lose money" this season in this little thing I do each week. I went 2-3 yesterday, but the Chiefs and Seahawks badly let me down, and both playing at home no less.

Here's my Monday in review, where you can see what I thought yesterday and then how it all played out.

Here's how I see today's five games:

BROWNS AT CHIEFS (-11.0): This could be the blowouts of all blowouts. Cleveland is horrible, Kansas City is good, and the Browns might just stop trying by the second quarter when they're losing 17-0. Unless something weird is going on here (and it's the NFL, and gambling drives the league), the Browns have as much chance of winning (not much) as they do of covering (not much), so I'm going with the Chiefs to win comfortably in this one, 37-17.

RESULT: Thought I had this one in the bag, but Cleveland manned-up and the Chiefs played scared, but still won anyway. But I lost.


PANTHERS (-7.0) AT FALCONS: I wouldn't be completely surprised to see Atlanta win here. Carolina can't keep pulling these rabbits out of their hat, as they've done on numerous occasions this season, but until they lose a game, you have to figure this might just be that one special season some team gets every decade or so. I'm going to take Carolina to win 27-23, which means I'm going with the Falcons to cover despite losing.

RESULT: Picked up a "W" here, as I had the Falcons covering. As I noted above, it's not surprising that Atlanta won. Carolina was all out of last-gasp miracles.


PACKERS AT CARDINALS (-4.5): That's just too many points to give the Packers, I think. I like Arizona a lot and they're my choice to play in the Super Bowl from the NFC as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy, but I can't see Green Bay getting beat by more than five points today. I'm taking the Packers to cover in this one, but Arizona wins, 26-24.

RESULT: Who got punked worse in this one? Me? Or Green Bay? Holy cow. Arizona looks real and Green Bay looks like they can't step up in class.


RAMS AT SEAHAWKS (-12.0): St. Louis has traditionally played the Seahawks tough, even in Seattle, but that's not going to happen today. Seattle is rolling and the Rams are reeling, so let's go with the Seahawks here, who win easily 34-13.

RESULT: Another shocker. St. Louis has completely stunk for the last eight weeks and the Seahawks were riding high going into the game. "On any given Sunday..."


GIANTS AT VIKINGS (-7.0): This one became a much easier game to decipher once the Redskins won last night. The Giants will have nothing at all to play for and the Vikings are still alive for both a wild card berth and division title, so look for them to win. I'm taking the Vikings to win 31-21.

RESULT: I was saved by the Sunday night game, which put me at 2-3 for the day when Minnesota blasted the Giants.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: Has to be the Chiefs, right? They're playing the Browns. Enough said.

RESULT: Can't believe I lost to Johnny Manziel. Wow.


RECORD TO DATE: 36-42-2

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-3

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 8-7-1


we still have seats left on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com


ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june
-- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

There will be little time to celebrate victories or dwell on losses with Matchweek 19 of the Barclays Premier League kicking off for most teams less than forty eight hours after the conclusion of Matchweek 18. With the quick turnaround time, be sure to double check your fantasy squads or your betting slip before you lock them in, with managers likely to rotate their teams in an attempt to keep their players fresh. As usual, you can catch all of the action this week live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Monday, Dec. 28 (all times Eastern)

10am – Tottenham @ Watford – Vicarage Road, NBC Live Extra

Following their 2-1 defeat to Newcastle United in Matchweek 17, their first loss since the opening weekend of the current campaign which ended a run of fourteen games unbeaten (W6 D8), Tottenham made it two wins in a row with a 3-0 defeat of Norwich City on Saturday at White Hart Lane. They will travel to Vicarage Road to take on an in-form Watford side who picked up a point in a 1-1 draw at the weekend away at Chelsea, and who have not lost in their last five games (W4 D1), having picked up points in seven of their last nine (W6 L2 D1) to climb to up to seventh place in the league table.

The Hornets, who have kept six clean sheets in their nine league home matches this season, will be looking to win their third straight top-flight home fixture for the first time since 1986, when they won four in a row. To get that done, they will continue to rely on the strike partnership of Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who have accounted for nineteen of Watford’s twenty three goals this season, against a Spurs side that have lost only once on the road this season (W3 L1 D4) and who the Hornets have failed to beat in the last twenty years across all competitions (L5 D2).

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Without a win in their last six outings and needing a result to likely save their manager’s job, Manchester United faltered at Stoke City on Saturday, conceding two first half goals which proved to be the difference in a defeat to the Potters where they barely registered a response after falling behind early. They will welcome rivals Chelsea to Old Trafford on Monday, who missed a golden opportunity to get new manager Guus Hiddink’s second spell in charge at Stamford Bridge off to a winning start when Oscar missed a late go ahead penalty kick in a 2-2 draw with the in-form Watford.

Historically one of the biggest match ups of the entire season, Monday’s tussle has lost some of its usual shine as Chelsea have struggled from the get go this season, sitting only two points above the relegation zone while the twenty nine point haul from their first eighteen games is now officially the worst start that Manchester United has ever had in the Barclays Premier League. With so little time between games it looks like United manager Louis van Gaal will get one last chance to save his job, though after the lackluster effort they turned in at Stoke his sacking should be a mere formality come Tuesday.

Tuesday, Dec. 29 (all times Eastern)

2:45pm – Manchester City @ Leicester City – King Power Stadium, NBC Sports Network

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Facing Leicester City without defensive star Vincent Kompany could mean trouble for Manchester City on Tuesday.

Manchester City could pull level with Leicester City at the top of the Barclays Premier League table, and go ahead on goal differential, when the two sides meet in primetime on Tuesday night at the King Power Stadium. City easily dispatched of bottom dwellers Sunderland at the weekend to claim all three points in a 4-1 victory while Leicester failed to score in a game for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss away at Liverpool, which ended a ten game unbeaten run (W8 L2) that has against all odds propelled the Foxes into the thick of the title race in only their second season back in England’s top flight.

In a stroke of managerial genius, or possibly insanity, Claudio Ranieri substituted leading goal scorers Jamie Vardy (15) and Riyad Mahrez (13) while trailing on Saturday with an eye clearly to Tuesday’s monumental clash. That decision, for the time being, looks like genius as City are set to be without captain and defensive stalwart Vincent Kompany, who suffered a reoccurrence of the calf injury that had kept him out of City’s previous eight matches in Saturday’s win. City have kept seven clean sheets in eight games with Kompany in the team this season and only one in nine games without him, which will bode well for both Vardy and Mahrez to find the scoresheet as the Foxes will have to counter the Citizens embarrassment of attacking riches if they hope to maintain the league’s top spot.


Sunday
December 27
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 17
Issue 27
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD


Today's expected misery involving the Pittsburgh Steelers actually commenced on Saturday.

For the first time in 32 years yesterday, the Capitals, Wizards and Redskins all won on the same day.

The Caps (winners over Montreal) and Wizards (winners at Brooklyn) I can handle. But the Redskins beating the Eagles last night and winning the NFC East is especially rotten for fans of the Ravens. Not only are Baltimore football fans suffering through the longest season in almost 20 years, but now we can't even make fun of our friends 50 miles to the south, who somehow, miraculously, are going to host a home playoff game in two weeks.

And the coup de grace will likely come today in the form of a blowout loss to the Steelers, who come to town in desperate need of a win to keep their own post-season hopes alive.

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, but it's hard to believe we've sunk this low, this quick, and can't even rely on the old whipping boy -- the Redskins -- to get us through a dark patch or two. Hats off to the Redskins, I suppose, who did provide a small moment of comic relief last night by winning the division title in Philly. First, you have to love the fact that folks in Philadelphia had a bad night's sleep after their Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs. Anytime the city of Philadelphia is miserable, that's a win for all mankind.

Second, remember a couple of weeks ago when the powers-that-be at NBC shifted today's Ravens-Steelers battle from the nationally televised 8:30 pm slot to a 1:00 pm game so they could push Minnesota and the NY Giants into the prime-time spotlight? They did so because they assumed both of those teams would be in the playoff hunt and the game would take on added importance. Well, not so much, now...the Giants were eliminated last night. So, go ahead and snicker a little if you want. It's always good to see the brain trusts get it flung back in their face a little bit.

None of that will ease the pain we're expected to feel for three hours today when the Steelers pound the Ravens by whatever-they-want to whatever-they-want. I hope I'm wrong, and would love to see the tables turned on Mike Tomlin and Company, but there are Christmas miracles and then there are Christmas miracles -- and a Baltimore win today would be more surprising than Santa Claus actually coming down your chimney on Christmas Eve. It's just not going to happen. On either account, I'm sorry to report.

The only thing I'm hoping for is some sort of reasonable final score. I wouldn't mind 27-10 or 34-17, even. Just don't let it be one of those once-in-a-lifetime humiliations like the Orioles once suffered when they lost 30-3 to the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards. By that, I mean, I'll be OK with any sort of final score as long as Pittsburgh doesn't throw up a 50 or -- gasp! -- 60 point day on us. I don't think that's going to happen, mainly because once Pittsburgh leads 45-10 in the 4th quarter, Tomlin will yank his QB and a WR or two to keep them healthy for next week's finale in Cleveland. But that's really my only fear today. I don't mind losing today. I expect the Ravens to lose. But just don't let it be one of those 55-17 thrashings, that's all.

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today's main storylines:
ravens vs. steelers


*What can Ryan Mallet do? -- For reasons no one has yet figured out, the Ravens have quarterback Ryan Mallet under contract for next season already. Yes, yes, a contract in the NFL is about as flimsy as Hillary talking about her role in Benghazi, but the fact remains that Ozzie Newsome thought so highly of Mallet that he signed him for 2016 and he hasn't yet played a down in 2015. That should change today, though, unless John Harbaugh throws in the old sneak-a-roo and gives Jimmy Clausen another start behind center against the Steelers. There's no telling what Mallet might do, particularly given that he's basically been in the building for two weeks. I'm not really all that sure why Clausen isn't starting given his somewhat decent play over the last two weeks, but these are live games with real battles to be won and I assume the Ravens want to see what Mallet has under the hood so they have a better idea of what to do with the back-up QB spot this off-season.

*Memo to Marc: run the ball -- Jimmy Clausen threw the ball 45 times last week. Putting the ball in the air on 45 occasions is a recipe for losing when Joe Flacco is the QB, and he actually knows what he's doing. Having Clausen (or Schaub, or Ryan Mallet) throw the ball 45 times is going to fail, unless of course you're playing the Browns and they let you block a field goal and return it for a TD on the game's final play. Anyway...the Ravens need to run the football today. And, yes, that means they need to try and run it even if they're not successful at it early on. If I'm Harbaugh, I grab a coffee with Marc Trestman before the game and tell him to run the ball 45 times today. Give it to Buck Allen 30 times and Terrance West 15 times. Let's run the ball. Let's see what those two guys can do. (This is funny. What you just read was my comment from LAST WEEK'S GAME and it stays up this week, again, because the freakin' Ravens threw the ball 45 times against Kansas City while getting hammered at home last Sunday.) Please run the ball today against Pittsburgh. At least enough to keep them honest.

*Keep Ben in the pocket with pressure -- On any given Sunday, the general defensive philosophy is to pressure the QB and get him to move out of the pocket. That's NEVER the case with Ben Roethlisberger, who thrives on that sort of bedlam and chaos. In fact, the best way to limit Ben's effectiveness is to come from the outside and force him to step up into the pocket and closer to the line of scrimmage. If he goes inside, he can be subdued. If he gets outside of the pocket and is allowed to run and make plays, that's when he does the most damage. The only problem? The Ravens can't do much blitzing with the corners and safeties today because Pittsburgh just has too many weapons. That means guys like Courtney Upshaw, Elvis Dumervil and even Za'Darius Smith are going to need to have big days in order to keep Roethlisberger in check.

*Tackle, tackle, tackle -- The Ravens are a bad tackling team, particularly in the secondary, and that's exactly the sort of thing Pittsburgh's receiving corps feasts on. For the Ravens to be successful today, they have to do a good job of wrapping up their man after the catch. Antonio Brown in particular is especially adept at shaking loose from a would be tackler or two and turning a short gain into a huge play.


Here’s how Drew sees today's game:

I wish I could figure out a way to craft a scenario that has the Ravens winning, but I can't. Obviously, if something happened to Roethlisberger early on, that could change things dramatically, but everything being equal and Pittsburgh's key players staying healthy should make for an easy afternoon for the Steelers.

I can see the Baltimore defense hanging tight for a quarter or so. They'll be energized enough to keep it close and Mallet might even have a little beginner's luck on his side. Pittsburgh leads 10-7 after the first quarter and then 17-10 at the half. It's respectable for a while. But a big third quarter for Pittsburgh takes the game away from the Ravens and it's 34-10 before the points fly in the 4th quarter and Pittsburgh eventually wins, 45-24.

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percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game vs. Pittsburgh and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

84% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the Steelers win today?"

37% - Chances of the Steelers holding the Ravens to under 250 yards passing?

90% - The chances Ben Roethlisberger throws for over 300 yards?

41% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 130 yards?

64% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

3% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?


put your money
where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only," although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

This is my BIG week. If I harbor any hopes of finishing at .500 or better for 2015, I need to make up some ground this week. I'll only have next week's five picks and then the playoffs to make up any deficit, and the playoffs are harder to pick than the regular season, so today's the day I have to get going. And I'm going back to something that worked well for me a few weeks ago when I went 4-1. I'm going with the obvious today. I'm not reading into anything, not going against-the-grain, etc. I'm taking the obvious winners and hoping it holds true to form.

I went 2-2-1 a week ago and have continued to inch closer and closer to elusive .500 mark, as I'm now 34-39-2 on the season. I need a big day today.

Here's how I see today's five games:

BROWNS AT CHIEFS (-11.0): This could be the blowouts of all blowouts. Cleveland is horrible, Kansas City is good, and the Browns might just stop trying by the second quarter when they're losing 17-0. Unless something weird is going on here (and it's the NFL, and gambling drives the league), the Browns have as much chance of winning (not much) as they do of covering (not much), so I'm going with the Chiefs to win comfortably in this one, 37-17.


PANTHERS (-7.0) AT FALCONS: I wouldn't be completely surprised to see Atlanta win here. Carolina can't keep pulling these rabbits out of their hat, as they've done on numerous occasions this season, but until they lose a game, you have to figure this might just be that one special season some team gets every decade or so. I'm going to take Carolina to win 27-23, which means I'm going with the Falcons to cover despite losing.


PACKERS AT CARDINALS (-4.5): That's just too many points to give the Packers, I think. I like Arizona a lot and they're my choice to play in the Super Bowl from the NFC as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy, but I can't see Green Bay getting beat by more than five points today. I'm taking the Packers to cover in this one, but Arizona wins, 26-24.


RAMS AT SEAHAWKS (-12.0): St. Louis has traditionally played the Seahawks tough, even in Seattle, but that's not going to happen today. Seattle is rolling and the Rams are reeling, so let's go with the Seahawks here, who win easily 34-13.


GIANTS AT VIKINGS (-7.0): This one became a much easier game to decipher once the Redskins won last night. The Giants will have nothing at all to play for and the Vikings are still alive for both a wild card berth and division title, so look for them to win. I'm taking the Vikings to win 31-21.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: Has to be the Chiefs, right? They're playing the Browns. Enough said.


RECORD TO DATE: 34-39-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-2-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 8-6-1

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ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june
-- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


we still have eight seats left on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

Saturday
December 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 26

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would you give back all of those gifts...for a win over the Steelers?

Santa Claus has come and gone again and, as always, there's much appreciation in my household for all the hard work the jolly old man put in to "get it right" this Christmas season.

But I can think of one more gift.

It's so outrageous to ask for that it doesn't even make sense to do it, for you know there's simply no way Santa Claus could deliver this one, albeit a couple of days late. That said -- if you're reading this Santa, and the sleigh can still make one more trip to Baltimore, how about a win for the Ravens on Sunday when they host the Steelers?

In all honesty, I'd like a win tomorrow for reasons that don't really have much to do with the Steelers and have a lot more to do with the Ravens. Sure, it would be funny to see the 20,000 or so Pittsburgh fans who make their way into the stadium have to leave in misery at the thought of their playoff hopes being punctured by one of the worst teams in the league. I actually like Mike Tomlin as a coach, but I'll also admit it would tickle me a little bit to see him squirm in the post-game press conference when he was to face the reporters and media members who will undoubtedly press him in the wake of a loss to the lowly Ravens.

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It sure would be nice if that bag on Santa's shoulder had a Ravens win over Pittsburgh in it.

But I want the Ravens to win for the Ravens. For John Harbaugh. For Marc Trestman. For Dean Pees. And for the players -- those still healthy enough to play and those who can't -- who have gone through one of the craziest seasons in recent NFL history, let alone in the 20-year run of the Ravens in Baltimore. Just like the Carolina Panthers will never again experience a season just like this one they're going through in 2015, the Ravens will never again go through something like the 2015 campaign. This is once-in-a-lifetime kind of stuff. Sure, they might go 4-12 again some year, but never in the way they've done it this year, with a dropped TD pass on opening day from their most reliable receiver, the refs botching a game-ending play against Jacksonville, and season-ending injuries to their best linebacker, wide receiver, quarterback and running back.

At least the punter stayed healthy. And he's finally headed to the Pro Bowl, after years of close calls.

A win on Sunday would be the ultimate present for John Harbaugh, who is finally suffering his first losing season as a head coach after seven years of winning. Along the way, he's pressed forward with amazing clarity and dignity. Yes, if you and I were both getting $6 million to coach a sports team, we might have an extra slice of clarity and dignity, too, but losing -- in anything -- brings out the worst in people. And through fourteen games this season, I haven't seen "the worst" of anything as it relates to John Harbaugh. Oh, yes, he's made some crazy play calls and 4th down decisions, but nearly all of those were a by-product of desperation, not of going off the deep end. He's hung in there and looked at the camera as the losses piled up and said, "We're going to be alright" even when he knew the Ravens were no longer a threat. The refusal to cave in and admit the obvious was seen as a massive dish of dishonesty to some, but for those that understand sports, it was Harbaugh saying what any quality coach would say: "You're going to have to prepare well, play well and finish well to beat us; we're NOT quitting."

Alas, most of this is dreamer's stuff, because barring some sort of bizarre interference from the football gods on Sunday, December 27th, 2015, the records will show the Ravens got blasted by the Steelers in Baltimore. It's as inevitable as LeBron's hairline receding with each Christmas day game we see. The Ravens are getting blown out tomorrow unless something really weird happens, but as the Bengals saw two weeks ago in Cincinnati when their quarterback got hurt in the first quarter, things can change awfully quick in the NFL. With Roethlisberger and his incredibly talented wide receiving corps intact tomorrow, the Steelers are a better bet to score in the 50's than they are to score in the 20's. But -- if the QB or a couple of those receivers get nicked up early, anything can happen in the aftermath.

I'm grasping at straws now, of course, because that's about the only way the Ravens can stay in the game on Sunday. They need everything to go right for themselves and nearly everything to go wrong for Pittsburgh. And while "market correction" happens all the time in the NFL, you certainly can't count on it. You just have to take it when it comes your way and say "thanks".

I think we're going to say "thanks" on Sunday, but that won't come until right around 4:10 pm or so when the final whistle blows. Fans of the Ravens who still have the courage to remain in their seats for the final home game of the season will likely mutter to themselves "thank God that's over" as the teams gather at midfield for their post-game handshake.

Unless...Santa doesn't mind one more trip to balmy Baltimore.

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warriors move to 28-1 with win over lebron and the cavs

I'm greedy, I know, but why did Golden State have to lose to Milwaukee two weeks ago and end their perfect season?

Had they won that game on December 12, yesterday's Christmas showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers would have reached an epic level of excitement. Don't get me wrong, the 27-1 Warriors hosting LeBron and Company -- the team they beat for the NBA title last June -- still had plenty of showcase-strength, but it just wasn't quite the same as it would have been if Golden State had an undefeated season on the line against the Cavs.

It predictably wound up not having much, if any, drama or nail-biting moments, even though Cleveland kept the affair to a one-score contest well into the game's final minute. Golden State won, 89-83, improving to an amazing 28-1 on the season as they now start to take dead aim on Chicago's NBA record of 72-10. You can do the math. Golden State is currently 28-1. 73-9 or something better is looking very possible at this point, but a lot has to go right over the final four months of the regular season.

The Warriors beat the Cavs on Friday without the typical monster-game from Steph Curry, who was bothered in the first quarter with a calf injury and wound up only producing 19 points on the night. A handful of those buckets came late in the 4th quarter, though, as LeBron James did his best to propel the Cavaliers to an unlikely win. When Golden State needed Curry, he came through, just as LeBron did for Cleveland, but in the end it was too much Draymond Green with a sprinkling of help from Curry and Klay Thompson as the Warriors pulled off the win.

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Who knows what Golden State's record will be when they visit D.C. on Feb. 3rd? But #DMD will be there and so can you!

If you're interested in seeing the Warriors in person on on February 3rd at the Verizon Center in D.C., we still have room for you on our bus trip to see the Warriors-Wizards game. It's Golden State's only visit to Washington D.C. this season, so if you'd like to see Steph Curry and Company, join us on the 3rd for a great night, all presented by our friends at Glory Days Grill. We'll meet at Glory Days before the game, have some beverages and snacks on the way down to D.C., and then there's a full buffet and unlimited beer, soft drinks and water throughout the game.

Ticket prices for the game have gone through the roof, predictably, but we're still able to do the entire trip for you for $149, which offers different benefits than our first bus option. With the second bus -- now on sale -- you get a pre-game "Burger and Beer" at Glory Days before the bus leaves at 5:30 pm. You get beer, soda and snacks on the bus ride to the game, plus an upper level seat with others on the bus at the Verizon Center. The in-game buffet and open bar is NOT offered on the second bus. If you're interested in joining us on the 2nd bus to D.C. for the February 3rd Warriors-Wizards game, e-mail me: 18inarow@gmail.com


three questions, three answers

I skipped "Three Questions" in yesterday's edition of #DMD, but it's back today. You should know the drill by now. You e-mail me a question and I answer it, here. Pretty simple stuff.

Dave asks: With Tiger Woods turning 40 and lots of stories out there about his health and his ability to compete against the best players in the world, I'm wondering what you see for him in 2016 and how many, if any, tournaments he might win. Thanks!

DF: "That's a tough question to answer with Tiger's health up in the air like it is. When he spoke to the media back in December, it sounded like he wasn't sure when he was going to return to the PGA Tour. He sounded down, defeated, and almost accepting of the fact that his back might not ever be strong enough again. But I'm guessing some of that was for show...and at some point in 2016 he'll return and compete. The most likely scenario would be Augusta, of course, because it's a major championship and, as he showed last April, he can still "feel" his way around the course and put himself in contention on the weekend. I don't see him winning any tournaments in 2016, majors or not. I'd love to be wrong on that one. But with his health a question mark like it is, I think the odds are he doesn't win a golf tournament next year.

Sam asks: I didn't see your opinion on Maryland's hiring of D.J. Durkin and was curious what you think of him?

DF: "I don't follow college football closely enough to know if the defensive coordinator from Michigan has the tools to be a good head coach in the Big Ten. But...from the reports I've read on Durkin, folks seem to like his prospects. And I know from reading last week that he's hired some top flight coaches for his staff, which shows he not only knows what he's doing but others around the country must believe in him as well. I don't have to tell you or anyone else about the uphill battle they face in College Park as far as the football program goes. It would take a miracle for the Terps to become a staple program in that conference. But maybe Durkin is the guy to get that job started."

Patrick asks: Make your call right now. Carolina is 14-0. Do they finish the regular season 16-0 and then go 3-0 in the post-season, win the Super Bowl, and finish 19-0?

DF: "I think they're going to finish 16-0 in the regular season, yes. But I do not think they're going to the Super Bowl. I think Arizona is going to beat them in the NFC title game."

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our 2015 winter apparel drive

For the last six years, I -- along with my former radio pal, Glenn Clark -- have called on you to help give a holiday gift to the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. Once again this year, through the countless hours of devotion from those of you who donated, to our sponsors, friends and families, we were able to provide winter clothing to over 400 men at the facility. The video below summarizes the 4-week event and serves as our final "thank you" to everyone who was involved with us this year.

#DMDTV

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ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june
-- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


we still have eight seats left on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

Thursday
December 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 25

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merry christmas!

For those of you who celebrate the birth of Jesus and the Christmas holiday, I hope you enjoy this wonderful season and today's special occasion.

We'll be carrying on our daily edition of #DMD with limited, but important content today. As I mentioned yesterday, today's edition of #DMD contains the 12-minute video of this year's annual winter apparel drive and it gives the viewer a glimpse into the smiles and the lives of the men at Helping Up Mission. I'd rather say (write) less and simply allow you to enjoy the video, so that's what I'm going to do.

Also in today's edition of #DMD is our regular Friday feature from our English Premier League reporter, Matthew Carroll, as he looks at important weekend in English soccer. Many thanks to Matthew for contributing his piece today and fulfilling his purpose to the many #DMD readers who rely on his expertise to get them through another weekend of soccer.

I hope all of you have a great day on this Christmas holiday, 2015.

BARCS banner ad

our 2015 winter apparel drive

For the last six years, I -- along with my former radio pal, Glenn Clark -- have called on you to help give a holiday gift to the men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. Once again this year, through the countless hours of devotion from those of you who donated, to our sponsors, friends and families, we were able to provide winter clothing to over 400 men at the facility. The video below summarizes the 4-week event and serves as our final "thank you" to everyone who was involved with us this year.

#DMDTV

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

It's Boxing Day in England on Saturday, and Matchweek 18 of the Barclays Premier League will kick off the busy Christmas period that will see every team in the league play three games over a span of only eight days. While other leagues take off for a winter break, the Barclays Premier League puts its teams through a grueling test of endurance that has undone many once promising starts in seasons past. Tune in to catch all of the action live over the next several days on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, Dec. 26 (all times Eastern)

7:45am – Manchester United @ Stoke City – Britannia Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Following their 2-1 defeat to the newly promoted Norwich City at Old Trafford last weekend, which followed a defeat to Bournemouth by the same score line only the week before, Manchester United have now lost three in a row and are without a win in their last six matches across all competitions to drop out of the top four for the first time this season, travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on former Red Devil Mark Hughes and his Stoke City side in Saturday’s early kickoff, with the outcome of the meeting likely to determine the future of Louis van Gaal as the head man in charge at United.

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Louis van Gaal could be looking for a new gig if Man United can't defeat Stoke City on December 26.

United have won eighteen of their last nineteen fixtures on Boxing Day (W18 L1) and eleven out of their last fourteen against Stoke (W11 D2 L1), but if they don’t add to that tally on Saturday it is likely that van Gaal will be given his walking papers, their recent run of poor form and their early exit from the group stages of the Champions League his ultimate undoing. Ironically it is van Gaal’s close friend, whom he worked with at Barcelona and who was just last week sacked by arch rivals Chelsea, Jose Mourinho who has made it known that he would like to take the job should van Gaal be shown the door.

10am – Crystal Palace @ Bournemouth – Vitality Stadium, NBC Live Extra

Thanks to an 88th minute stunner from midfield substitute Lee Chung-Yong, Crystal Palace earned all three points on the road last weekend at Stoke City. Following a promising start to the season and with only one loss in their last seven games (W4 L1 D2), the Eagles have jumped up to sixth place in the league table, level on points with Tottenham and Manchester United who sit in fourth and fifth place respectively, and will look to climb into the Champions League spots when they travel to take on a suddenly in form Bournemouth side at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday.

After earning promotion to the Barclays Premier League for the first time in the 125-year existence of the club last season, Bournemouth looked set for a short stay in England’s top flight following long term injuries to record summer signings Tyrone Mings and Max Gradel, along with leading goal scorer Callum Wilson in the opening weeks of the season. But the Cherries, who have lost only one of their last eight Boxing Day matches (W5 D2 L1), have against all odds managed to pull themselves out of the relegation zone for the time being, thanks to wins in three of their last five (W3 D2) which includes triumphs over league giants Chelsea and Manchester United.

10am – Leicester City @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

With their 3-2 victory over Everton last weekend, their third win in a row and eighth in their last ten games (W8 D2), Leicester City ensured their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League at Christmas with a two-point advantage over second place Arsenal. Only once has a team leading at Christmas finished outside the top four and five of the last six teams that have been top of the table at Christmas have gone on to eventually win the league title, and the Foxes will look to continue that trend when they will visit historic Anfield to take on Liverpool on Saturday.

Following losses in two of their last three, which realistically could have been three if not for an injury time equalizer from Divock Origi in a come from behind draw against West Bromwich two weeks ago, and stuck in the middle of the table on twenty-four points the honeymoon period is officially over for Jurgen Klopp as manager of Liverpool and it’s time to start getting results to close the gap on the Foxes and the rest of the league. Having never lost at home on Boxing Day (W5 D3), and with four wins in their last six against Leicester, Klopp and the Reds will like their chances to start doing just that.

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fenway park and augusta national are "must do" moments

Before I go into my Christmas Eve rant about how great Fenway Park and Augusta National are, let me first handle some housekeeping. I mentioned in yesterday's edition of #DMD that we'd have our official "Winter Apparel Drive" video up for you today. It's not here. It's done, though, and you'll see it in this space tomorrow, for sure, but we simply weren't able to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed -- not to mention trying our best not to violate YouTube's growing set of rules and regulations -- in time for today's edition. My apologies -- but I promise you'll like the finished product on Friday when you see it. And since many of you won't be visiting #DMD on Christmas Day, it will run again over the upcoming weekend.

Now...let's talk about Fenway Park and Augusta National.

In my own nerdy, sappy way, I wanted to present the Fenway Park trip next June 14-17 as my own "holiday gift" of sorts to the #DMD community. I know not everyone who reads this page regularly or even stumbles onto the site by accident is a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan. In the event you're only luke-warm about baseball or the Orioles, a 3-game series in Boston next June might not be all that appealing. But if you ARE a baseball junkie or an Orioles die-hard, a trip to Fenway Park is a must-do moment in your lifetime. If you've never been to Fenway, you simply have to visit that baseball stadium at some point in your life. If you've been to Fenway before, that's OK, too. You've never been to Fenway Park on June 14 through 17, 2016, that much I know for sure.

There are iconic facilities in our country that store some of the greatest memories in sports. As time goes on and everything we do is seemingly centered on "bigger and better than before", places like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, the Palestra in Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden and others are going by the wayside. One needs to look no further than "old" Yankee Stadium, which is now a huge amateur athletic complex, directly across the street from the out-of-this-world magnificent "New Yankee Stadium". Sadly, though, if you never took the opportunity to see the "old one", you never will.

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The Orioles face the Red Sox for three games, June 14-16, 2016. You can be there and experience Fenway Park!

Someday -- and honestly, I'm stunned it hasn't happened yet -- Fenway Park is going bye-bye. It's a testament to the folks in Boston and the political powers-that-be that be that the stadium is still standing, still useful and still home to the Red Sox. In this day and age where greed rules, simply replacing a 34,000 seat stadium with a 50,000 seat stadium, especially in a city the size of Boston, would be more than justifiable. Somehow, the people in Boston haven't allowed that to happen. Hats off to them.

So, before Fenway Park gets bulldozed, get up there. If you can't make our trip next June, that's OK. You still need to make it a point to get to Fenway Park at some point in your life.

Now -- let me sell you on next June's trip. Here's why you should go with us. Biggest and easiest reason? I do all the work. Other than ironing your clothes and running your bath water (I know, it's 2015, no one takes baths anymore...but you know the picture I'm trying to create so bear with me), I'll handle all of the necessary duties to make sure your trip is enjoyable, memorable and stress-free. We're flying to Boston, for starters, and I have the airline tickets handled. We're flying from BWI to Logan on Tuesday morning, June 14. I'll take care of getting the group of 30 from the airport to our downtown Boston hotel. I've booked the rooms already. There are two huge conventions in Boston the week of June 13, so rooms were at a real premium as I started researching the trip, but I found rooms and the hotel is within walking distance of Fenway Park. It's four minutes away, in fact. No need to rent a car. You can walk or use public transportation to your heart's delight. I have the game tickets handled as well. All 30 of us will be sitting together; on June 14, we're right above the Green Monster in left field. On June 15, we're in the right field area, which gives you an amazing view of the entire stadium, and on June 16, we're back up top again, behind the Green Monster.

It's never cheap to spend three nights in a major city, but the package I've been able to assemble through both the process of early purchase and contacts I've made over the years has helped tremendously with the price of the trip. A group of two sharing the same room will be able to do this entire trip for $799 each. I know, you're thinking "Come on Drew, what's the catch?" There isn't one. You can check out the full pricing menu above on the main menu where it says "2016 Fenway Park Trip" and you'll see the prices for single, double, triple and quad occupancies. I'll do all the work and you'll have a great time. And it's Fenway Park. And the Orioles are playing the Red Sox. You'll have a great time.

I'm going to make the same appeal to any of you reading this who are golfers and care enough about the professional level of the sport to know how important the Masters is to the history of the game. If you've never been to Augusta National in April to see the Masters, it's simply a must-do event in your lifetime. Trust me, you'll never watch the tournament the same way again.

There are things in life we can do and can't do. Sadly -- unless local golfing prodigy Denny McCarthy is a #DMD reader -- no one reading this is ever going to play in the Masters. Nearly everyone reading this will never get the opportunity to play golf at the tournament's home, Augusta National Golf Club. I've never played it, although I know some who have. But I've been there, five times in fact, and I'm going again this April and if the good Lord allows for it, I'll be going again in 2017, 2018 and beyond. I treat Augusta National the same way people treat the Smithsonian Institute, which is to say, I go as often as I can, which works out to be every April when the Masters is played there.

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Your chance to see Augusta National with your own two eyes comes once a year. Join #DMD for the one-day trip of a lifetime on April 5, 2016.

Now, unlike a trip to say, Boston or New York, a journey to Augusta National isn't easy. Tickets for the event are extremely difficult to obtain at a reasonable price unless you somehow win their ticket lottery. I'm 0-for-7, by the way. It's not an easy destination to reach, either, as Augusta is situated not-so-conveniently about 150 miles from both Atlanta and Charlotte. Columbia, SC is also a flight destination but the arrival and departure times don't work for our trip. You can fly directly into Augusta, if you own your own plane, which I don't. And while some major airlines do fly to Augusta, the pricing and timing of those flights don't blend well at all with a one-day trip like we're taking next April 5, 2016. So, that requires a lot of work on my part, getting the flights to either Atlanta or Charlotte, booking ground transportation and, most importantly, coming up with 30 full-day passes for the Masters practice round on Tuesday. But I've perfected the art of the Masters trip -- or at least I'd like think so -- and 30 people are going next April 5, 2016. You might be one of them.

I have 12 seats left on our Masters trip for 2016. If you've never been to Augusta National, and you love golf and the Masters, you have to make that trip to Augusta at some point in your life. Expensive? I think so. But the market -- meaning those who control the tickets to the event, mainly -- is out of our control and we either deal with it or don't go. You might not be a candidate to go every year, but you should go once. Augusta National is Fenway Park and Fenway Park is Augusta National. They are two places you should see with your own eyes in your lifetime.

And there's one more place you should go in your life and it's 80 miles away and we're going on February 6th: The Palestra in Philadelphia. We're heading up there on Saturday, February 6th to see an Ivy League showdown between Penn and Harvard. I'll tell you more about the Palesta next week, but if you're at all a fan of college basketball, you simply have to see a game in The Palestra at some point in your lifetime. I'll have full details next week, but circle the date of February 6th. We'll leave Baltimore around 4pm for the 7pm tip-off. The whole trip is going to run you $60 and you'll get a great seat, dinner and drinks on the bus ride up and a night you won't soon forget. To me, the Palestra is the most historic "local" (as in something we can drive to) basketball venue with the obvious exception of Madison Square Garden. Philadelphia is steeped in high school and college basketball tradition and a trip to The Palestra is a must-do event.

Please join us for any of those three trips I've highlighted above. And bring your friends and/or family, please.

Thursday
December 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 24

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fenway park and augusta national are "must do" moments

Before I go into my Christmas Eve rant about how great Fenway Park and Augusta National are, let me first handle some housekeeping. I mentioned in yesterday's edition of #DMD that we'd have our official "Winter Apparel Drive" video up for you today. It's not here. It's done, though, and you'll see it in this space tomorrow, for sure, but we simply weren't able to get all the i's dotted and t's crossed -- not to mention trying our best not to violate YouTube's growing set of rules and regulations -- in time for today's edition. My apologies -- but I promise you'll like the finished product on Friday when you see it. And since many of you won't be visiting #DMD on Christmas Day, it will run again over the upcoming weekend.

Now...let's talk about Fenway Park and Augusta National.

In my own nerdy, sappy way, I wanted to present the Fenway Park trip next June 14-17 as my own "holiday gift" of sorts to the #DMD community. I know not everyone who reads this page regularly or even stumbles onto the site by accident is a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan. In the event you're only luke-warm about baseball or the Orioles, a 3-game series in Boston next June might not be all that appealing. But if you ARE a baseball junkie or an Orioles die-hard, a trip to Fenway Park is a must-do moment in your lifetime. If you've never been to Fenway, you simply have to visit that baseball stadium at some point in your life. If you've been to Fenway before, that's OK, too. You've never been to Fenway Park on June 14 through 17, 2016, that much I know for sure.

There are iconic facilities in our country that store some of the greatest memories in sports. As time goes on and everything we do is seemingly centered on "bigger and better than before", places like Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, the Palestra in Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden and others are going by the wayside. One needs to look no further than "old" Yankee Stadium, which is now a huge amateur athletic complex, directly across the street from the out-of-this-world magnificent "New Yankee Stadium". Sadly, though, if you never took the opportunity to see the "old one", you never will.

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The Orioles face the Red Sox for three games, June 14-16, 2016. You can be there and experience Fenway Park!

Someday -- and honestly, I'm stunned it hasn't happened yet -- Fenway Park is going bye-bye. It's a testament to the folks in Boston and the political powers-that-be that be that the stadium is still standing, still useful and still home to the Red Sox. In this day and age where greed rules, simply replacing a 34,000 seat stadium with a 50,000 seat stadium, especially in a city the size of Boston, would be more than justifiable. Somehow, the people in Boston haven't allowed that to happen. Hats off to them.

So, before Fenway Park gets bulldozed, get up there. If you can't make our trip next June, that's OK. You still need to make it a point to get to Fenway Park at some point in your life.

Now -- let me sell you on next June's trip. Here's why you should go with us. Biggest and easiest reason? I do all the work. Other than ironing your clothes and running your bath water (I know, it's 2015, no one takes baths anymore...but you know the picture I'm trying to create so bear with me), I'll handle all of the necessary duties to make sure your trip is enjoyable, memorable and stress-free. We're flying to Boston, for starters, and I have the airline tickets handled. We're flying from BWI to Logan on Tuesday morning, June 14. I'll take care of getting the group of 30 from the airport to our downtown Boston hotel. I've booked the rooms already. There are two huge conventions in Boston the week of June 13, so rooms were at a real premium as I started researching the trip, but I found rooms and the hotel is within walking distance of Fenway Park. It's four minutes away, in fact. No need to rent a car. You can walk or use public transportation to your heart's delight. I have the game tickets handled as well. All 30 of us will be sitting together; on June 14, we're right above the Green Monster in left field. On June 15, we're in the right field area, which gives you an amazing view of the entire stadium, and on June 16, we're back up top again, behind the Green Monster.

It's never cheap to spend three nights in a major city, but the package I've been able to assemble through both the process of early purchase and contacts I've made over the years has helped tremendously with the price of the trip. A group of two sharing the same room will be able to do this entire trip for $799 each. I know, you're thinking "Come on Drew, what's the catch?" There isn't one. You can check out the full pricing menu above on the main menu where it says "2016 Fenway Park Trip" and you'll see the prices for single, double, triple and quad occupancies. I'll do all the work and you'll have a great time. And it's Fenway Park. And the Orioles are playing the Red Sox. You'll have a great time.

I'm going to make the same appeal to any of you reading this who are golfers and care enough about the professional level of the sport to know how important the Masters is to the history of the game. If you've never been to Augusta National in April to see the Masters, it's simply a must-do event in your lifetime. Trust me, you'll never watch the tournament the same way again.

There are things in life we can do and can't do. Sadly -- unless local golfing prodigy Denny McCarthy is a #DMD reader -- no one reading this is ever going to play in the Masters. Nearly everyone reading this will never get the opportunity to play golf at the tournament's home, Augusta National Golf Club. I've never played it, although I know some who have. But I've been there, five times in fact, and I'm going again this April and if the good Lord allows for it, I'll be going again in 2017, 2018 and beyond. I treat Augusta National the same way people treat the Smithsonian Institute, which is to say, I go as often as I can, which works out to be every April when the Masters is played there.

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Your chance to see Augusta National with your own two eyes comes once a year. Join #DMD for the one-day trip of a lifetime on April 5, 2016.

Now, unlike a trip to say, Boston or New York, a journey to Augusta National isn't easy. Tickets for the event are extremely difficult to obtain at a reasonable price unless you somehow win their ticket lottery. I'm 0-for-7, by the way. It's not an easy destination to reach, either, as Augusta is situated not-so-conveniently about 150 miles from both Atlanta and Charlotte. Columbia, SC is also a flight destination but the arrival and departure times don't work for our trip. You can fly directly into Augusta, if you own your own plane, which I don't. And while some major airlines do fly to Augusta, the pricing and timing of those flights don't blend well at all with a one-day trip like we're taking next April 5, 2016. So, that requires a lot of work on my part, getting the flights to either Atlanta or Charlotte, booking ground transportation and, most importantly, coming up with 30 full-day passes for the Masters practice round on Tuesday. But I've perfected the art of the Masters trip -- or at least I'd like think so -- and 30 people are going next April 5, 2016. You might be one of them.

I have 12 seats left on our Masters trip for 2016. If you've never been to Augusta National, and you love golf and the Masters, you have to make that trip to Augusta at some point in your life. Expensive? I think so. But the market -- meaning those who control the tickets to the event, mainly -- is out of our control and we either deal with it or don't go. You might not be a candidate to go every year, but you should go once. Augusta National is Fenway Park and Fenway Park is Augusta National. They are two places you should see with your own eyes in your lifetime.

And there's one more place you should go in your life and it's 80 miles away and we're going on February 6th: The Palestra in Philadelphia. We're heading up there on Saturday, February 6th to see an Ivy League showdown between Penn and Harvard. I'll tell you more about the Palesta next week, but if you're at all a fan of college basketball, you simply have to see a game in The Palestra at some point in your lifetime. I'll have full details next week, but circle the date of February 6th. We'll leave Baltimore around 4pm for the 7pm tip-off. The whole trip is going to run you $60 and you'll get a great seat, dinner and drinks on the bus ride up and a night you won't soon forget. To me, the Palestra is the most historic "local" (as in something we can drive to) basketball venue with the obvious exception of Madison Square Garden. Philadelphia is steeped in high school and college basketball tradition and a trip to The Palestra is a must-do event.

Please join us for any of those three trips I've highlighted above. And bring your friends and/or family, please.

Have a wonderful Christmas Eve everyone and thanks as always for giving me the gift of your support, loyalty and friendship.

DF

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


It is Steelers Week in Baltimore, but it sure feels different.

For one, the game has been flexed out of prime time. The networks usually love Ravens-Steelers, which is why so many of the meetings end up in prime time. But there's not much about this year's Ravens team that is must-see-TV. For another, M&T Bank Stadium could turn into Heinz Field East on Sunday. The specter is certainly there for Steelers fans to descend by the thousands and overtake the Ravens roost on Sunday by snatching up tickets that Ravens fans are all too willing to part with in the final days of a lost season.

Coach John Harbaugh on Monday made clear he expects to see plenty of purple on Sunday. "We understand they’re coming in here with a lot at stake," Harbaugh said, "and I’m sure a lot of their fans are going to be trying to get in the stadium as well. But I’m sure our fans will be up to the challenge as well."

The Ravens are in the unique position of playing a game against Pittsburgh with nothing at stake, but the coach doesn't think that matters much. "It’s our home game, so I expect most of our fans to be there. I think they’ll be fired up," Harbaugh later said. "We have great fans. ... It’s a rivalry game. It doesn’t change. It’s one of those games where they’ll say the records don’t matter. I think our fans are going to approach it that way. That’s the type of fans they are.”

It's easy to say the records don't matter in a rivalry game, but for the Steelers, the record matters a lot; If the Steelers win and the Patriots beat the Jets, the Steelers clinch a playoff spot. So Steelers fans could be doing some extra celebrating at M&T, an especially bitter prospect for Ravens fans. And oh by the way, they will be one tough out in the playoffs. Remember, two of their losses (including to the Ravens) came with Michael Vick or Landry Jones at quarterback. A healthy Big Ben changes everything.

Here's another thing -- like a good pro wrestling storyline, this series has had some outstanding villains on both sides over the years. But the best of them -- Ray Lewis, Heinz Ward, Terrell Suggs and Troy Polamalu among them -- won't be anywhere near the field on Sunday. Heck, Steelers fans won't even have Joe Flacco or Steve Smith -- who's relatively new to this rivalry but sure fit right in -- to hate on Sunday. (Though coaches Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh draw plenty of ire in their own right from the opposing fan base.) So even if Sunday's game will be missing a little zing, you can bet both fan bases will somehow find plenty to hate. True, the Ravens are stumbling this year, and the Steelers have had some hiccups as well, with back-to-back 8-8 seasons in 2012 and 2013. But these are also two of the best-run organizations in football, and both will be vying for playoff contention more often than not. Don't worry, this rivalry isn't going away anytime soon.


we still have twelve seats left on our caps-flyers bus, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 28 seats thus far. 12 seats remain on the trip.


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umbc hoops: retrievers fall to hot-shooting towson

The UMBC Retrievers got another 20 point-performance from Jairus Lyles, who poured in 24 points overall, but that wasn't nearly enough to offset the hot shooting of crosstown rival Towson University, who defeated UMBC, 91-65, yesterday afternoon at the SECU Arena. The Retrievers fell to 3-10 on the year with the loss, while Towson improved to 9-4.

The opening half saw the Tigers come out strong in the game's first three minutes. Lyles came off the bench early; hitting his first two shots to cut the Tiger lead to 11-8 at the first media timeout. Lyles' scoring streak would continue as he scored 10 of the 12 points the Retrievers scored over a four-minute stretch. UMBC would tie the game at 15-15 midway through the stanza.

From there the Tigers would hold the Retrievers at bay, keeping UMBC without a field goal for just over nine minutes. Junior Ben Grace knocked down a trey with the shot clock winding down to break the streak to make it 39-23 Towson. The Tiger would end the half with a 47-26 lead. Lyles scored 14 points in the opening half, going 7-10 from the free throw line. The Retrievers shot 36% from the field, including 33% from beyond the arc.

Half number two saw much of the same, as Towson pushed their lead to as many as 29 early on in the final 20 minutes.

Lyles finished with a game best 24 points and four rebounds. Freshman Ishmail Jabbie added nine for the Retrievers who shot 41% from the field for the game.

Mike Morsell led the Tigers with 17 points, going 7-10 from the field. Towson shot 57.6% from the field for the game.

The Retrievers will have a short holiday break before returning to the hardwood for a home game against UMES on Thursday, Dec. 31. The New Year's Eve tilt with the Hawks begins at 1 p.m. at the RAC.


Wednesday
December 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 23

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i wish you could have been there

Yesterday, for the 6th straight year, I made the trip downtown to Helping Up Mission to watch 400 men come through the room for THEIR Christmas. It was quite the scene.

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Brad Foxwell of Advanced Heating and Cooling helped distribute clothes yesterday at Helping Up Mission.

With me, as he has been for each of those six years, was my old radio partner Glenn Clark, who has done yeoman’s work in pushing our winter-apparel drive to new heights. We were joined yesterday by my friend Brad Foxwell of Advanced Heating and Cooling, who performed one of the most important jobs of all…he loaded 40 bags of clothes into the back of his vehicle and by 11:30 am, we were pulling in to Helping Up Mission. And to capture everything via the camera’s eye, we again utilized the expertise of my friend and Helping Up “graduate”, Tony Young. It was Tony who first introduced Glenn and me to HUM six years ago and now, here he is, back at the facility working with us on the clothing donation project.

We’ll have a video up tomorrow that will take you through the morning. We do that to give you some sort of glimpse into the final product. After all, you all made it possible by donating 3,500 pieces of winter apparel this year. I want you to see what it all looks like since you can’t be there to see it in person. Look for that video here tomorrow at #DMD.

I also thought it would be a good idea to just share one story with you about a young man who is currently staying at Helping Up Mission and doing his best to rebound in life. When we collect clothes and distribute them at HUM every holiday season, there are a variety of men in the facility for a myriad of reasons. One common theme amongst them: They had no place else to turn and they had reached the bottom. And they wanted to get to the top somehow.

James
Before
James
After

The picture of James you see on the left was taken in November of 2014 in Santa Cruz, California. He had just been arrested on theft charges and was about to serve time in prison for his crime. I said to him yesterday at HUM when he shared the two pictures below with me: “You don’t look so hot in that one on the left…” and he replied, “Yeah, that was a pretty bad moment in my life.”

The photo on the right is James, this past November, in a photo session at Helping Up Mission in Baltimore. Just prior to his release from prison in California earlier in 2015, he discovered Helping Up Mission during an internet search. He got himself to Baltimore, walked in the doors on his own, and said…”I need help.”

And that’s what they do at Helping Up Mission. They help. As Barry Burnett of HUM said to me yesterday, “Not all the guys make it here…some stay a while and then one day, they leave and they’re gone. But the ones who do stay and finish the program are in much, much better shape than they were when they arrived. They walk in here with nothing but the clothes on their back most times. And when they leave, they have a new suit and a new outlook.”

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400 men at Helping Up Mission got a holiday gift or two at our annual winter-apparel drive on December 22nd.

The clothes you donated this year might often be the first “new” thing a man has received since he made the decision to enter Helping Up Mission. The facility has strict rules about visits, leaving to visit, and interaction with the outside. Often times, they’re at HUM for the holidays and literally can’t see family or friends. So, by the extension which is your clothing donation, you, in fact, become their family and friends. You cared enough to give them your clothes. And, as I see every year, they appreciate it greatly.

For those who can see family and friends during the holiday season, the donation of children’s and women’s clothing gives them the opportunity to provide a gift or two to their loved one(s). That makes them feel “real” again and gives them a great boost of confidence. It also enhances their relationship with their family members when they can give a gift, since so many of the men in HUM hurt their families while they were on their downward spiral.

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I wish the HUM building allowed for all of you to come in and experience for yourself how meaningful your clothing donations are, but that’s just not possible. So, I try to give you the next best thing: a written description, some photos and, tomorrow, a video of it all. If you look at James above one more time and see his picture on the left and his picture on the right, you can see the kind of work they’re doing at Helping Up Mission. They’re truly “helping up”.

Thanks again to everyone who came through with clothing this year. I wish I could list all of you but I can’t. Just know that your clothes made a difference this holiday season. And thanks again to our primary sponsor, Jerry’s Toyota-Scion, along with our friends at Glory Days Grill, Charles Nusinov and Sons and Chick fil-A Nottingham Square. Also a final thank you to Joe Calogerro and the people at The Traffic Group for their large office-wide donation this year.


Just a reminder for those of you still looking for that last minute holiday gift; you can visit Charles Nusinov and Sons today and on Christmas Eve if jewelry is on your “to get” list. You can also check out Nicole Makhnichenko’s Avon page right here at #DMD and get any last minute gift items overnighted to you! Just click on her ad on the right side of #DMD and it will take you right to her page. I did “the Avon thing” this year and loved how easy and affordable it was! And if I can do it . . . .

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Terps Spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his second season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2015-2016 and is presented by The Wine Merchant, Baltimore's best source for fine wines and spirits. The Wine Merchant is also a great place to stop for your carry-out lunch and dinner needs. Look for Drew's "Wine Winner" choice when you visit The Wine Merchant!


2015-2016 Big Ten Preview

With the Big 10 regular season starting next week, here is my mini-preview of each team and an expected order of finish.

Top Tier

Maryland – They have the best playmaker in the league with Melo Trimble. They have a solid front court led by Robert Parker Jr and Diamond Stone. To top that off, they have other necessary pieces. Off guard Rasheed Sulaimon adds some fire and toughness, 3 man Jake Layman adds finesse, and reserve big men Demonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky could start for many Big 10 teams. Maryland has the bones to make things exciting in not only late March, but early April as well.

Getting a bit more physical as a team will be the key to a deep run.  Jake Layman tends to disappear against athletic, physical teams. He needs to step up and prove he can handle a rougher game and that he can defend physically gifted opponents. If he does, and the Terps show they can play stretches without Melo at point, Maryland can make a serious play at a title. They should win the Big 10 regular season crown. The Big Ten Network (BTN) writers agree with me.

Michigan St- The Spartans need to replace both their leading scorer (Travis Trice 15.3 ppg) and leading rebounder (Brandon Dawson 9.1 rpg) from last year’s Final Four team. They may have found the answer in just one player, 6’5” senior guard Denzel Valentine. Valentine, a potential national player of the year, can score from anywhere, shoots it extremely well from the 3, and brings a physical presence that is the hallmark of coach Tom Izzo’s teams. Expect this squad to play hard, aggressive defense and attack the glass on both sides of the court. Senior Bryn Forbes (Cleveland State transfer) is playing his second, and last, season as a Spartan and adds a pure shooter to a team needing to add a scorer to go along with Valentine. He is currently averaging 45% from beyond the arc.

Perhaps the key to Michigan’s success is the effectiveness of center Matt Costello. Without him, Michigan State becomes vulnerable inside. This could provide opportunities for teams with effective big men. This team is very deep and poised to make a splash late in the season. Picked to finish fourth by the BTN.com writers, I’ll go with second. Getting Gavin Schilling back (turf toe) will help them.

Note: Denzel Valentine is out two to three weeks with a mild knee injury requiring arthroscopic surgery.

Purdue – Get to know freshman forward 6’9” 260 lb Caleb Swanigan. He won’t be at Purdue very long. Already possessing a pro body, he had a career high 25 points in a loss against Butler that included 3 for 4 from behind the three point line. The only blemish in his 25 point, 11 rebound performance, were his seven turnovers (a problem that has surfaced in many of his starts). When you add in big man, A.J. Hammons, and Purdue’s top scorer, 7’ center Isaac Haas, you have a very dangerous (and big) front court.  Coach Matt Painter has been playing a lot of guys so far this year, (10 players average over 10 minutes a game).  If he can find the right combinations and get steady production from Vince Edwards and P.J Thompson, this team could win a fair share of games. BTN has them 3rd, I’ll agree.

Iowa– In what may be a bit of a reach, I’m going to place the Iowa Hawkeyes as my number 4 team in the Big 10. The writers say they’ll finish #9, but I say the writers are wrong. Senior forward, Jarrod Uthoff, is legit.  He is a solid scorer from anywhere, can shoot it from deep, and has great basketball IQ. Uthoff is a certain All Big 10 selection.  My concern for Iowa is focused mainly on their defense. Can they get enough stops and can they grab enough rebounds to win tough road games? As a team they shoot it so well, and play under control, but are they tough enough to steal a couple of quality wins on the road?

If they can keep games close, Iowa’s foul shooting may be able to preserve some victories. This team has the ingredients to surprise some people.


Second Tier

Indiana – This team essentially returns the same cast of characters as last year’s scrappy squad. They can really shoot it (40% as a team from beyond the 3 point line) but are not real big. Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon Jr lead this team of quick guards and forwards who last year led the Big 10 with 77 points per game and 319 made three point shots (25 more than Michigan State). The Hoosiers will need to improve their defense if they want to improve their chances in the Big 10 regular season, conference tournament, and NCAA Tournament.

They will score enough points, especially at home, to win a bulk of their games, but I have real doubts about their interior defense, and because of that, can only place them 5th. The BTN writers think enough of Indiana to place them second.

Ohio State – It’s hard to overlook a team that this year beat Kentucky, but it’s also hard to put much stock in a club that has losses to UT-Arlington, Louisiana Tech, and a 20 point drubbing by UConn. But such is life in college hoops when you lose your top three players and replace them with raw and unproven (yet talented) freshmen. D’Angelo Russell, Sam Thompson, and Shannon Scott have all moved on, but there may be enough talent in JaQuan Lyle and some other young guns for this team to shock some people (just ask UK). This has to be the youngest team in the country. Their roster includes only one senior, one junior, four sophomores, and a whopping seven freshmen.

I usually resist putting much stock into such a young team in a tough conference. Road games will be hard on them, but they may have enough raw talent to steal a few here and there. Let’s give leading scorer, junior Mac Loving, and the rest of the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt here.  I say they finish 6th, the writers have them at 7th.

Northwestern – Perhaps another sleeper, the Wildcats bring back their top five players in minutes played and added 6’8” freshman Aaron Falzon.  Point guard Bryant McIntosh had a stellar freshman season last year and looks to direct his teammates to a possible tournament berth.  Senior Alex Olah is a huge presence in the paint at 7’ 270 lbs. while Tre Demps is their returning scoring leader.  A year older and a year wiser may be enough to change last year’s close losses into this year’s victories. I look for coach Chris Collins and the Northwestern Wildcats to play solid, but not spectacular ball, and creep in at #7 in the big 10. The BTN writers place them 10th.

Wisconsin – The big story with Wisconsin is the sudden retirement of longtime coach Bo Ryan just a few games into the season.  New coach Greg Gard will have his hands full trying to get the Badgers back to the lofty level of being in the D1 Championship game. Without NBA players Frank Kaminski and Sam Decker, this Badger team has already lost 5 games but did manage to beat Syracuse and VCU. Even with early season patsies sprinkled throughout their schedule, Coach Gard is still playing Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koening 36.6 minutes each, while Zac Showalter gets 34.3. Wisconsin is not very deep and not real big. This year will be a struggle to even get back into the NCAA Tournament. I have them on the outside looking in with an 8th place finish in the Big10. BTN writers are little more encouraged and have placed them 5th.


Third Tier

Michigan – Last year Michigan was the worst team in the Big10 in rebounding margin, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and blocked shots. Their field goal percentage was next to last. That points to having no inside game, and things don’t look too much better in the paint for the 2015-2016 team. They were outrebounded by an astounding 45-20 margin in their blow-out loss to SMU on December 8th.  In UM’s other two losses (UConn, and Xavier) they were equally dominated inside.  The help just is not there this year. Michigan’s top guard, Caris LeVert, can score in bunches, but Zac Irvin has yet to find his stroke. They get no help from their bigs and will need to rely on their athleticism to defend and create scoring opportunities. A tie for 9th would be a solid season for them. The writers give them more credit, placing them at the 6 slot.

Illinois – I really wanted to like this Fighting Illini team, and then they lost to North Florida to open up the season. Rayvonte Rice has moved on to play in Italy, but I think there may be some talent to replace him. If senior center, 6’11” Mike Thorn, freshman forward 6’10” Mike Finke, and 6’10” center Maverick Morgan get give Illinois any production at all, they could make my tie for 9th prediction look bad. The writers think I missed here, but not by much, placing them 8th.


Bottom of the Barrel

Penn State – The Nittany Lions may be the best of the rest. Brandon Taylor can play, Shep Garner is nice, Payton Banks is OK, but then the drop off in production is dramatic. They will really miss the leadership and skills of D.J. Newbill (playing in Europe).  Add to that no real size, troubles getting shots to fall, and more turnovers than assists, and you have a recipe for a disastrous season.  They play hard though, a Pat Chambers trademark. 11th, writers say 13.

Nebraska – I must confess, I loved watching Nebraska play last year. Terran Pettway took more bad shots in a game than Rhonda Rousey did in her last fight. He jacked it from anywhere and his shooting percentages showed it. This year’s team should shoot it much better with the addition of 6’7” Kansas transfer Andrew White. Of all the teams in the conference, I would not be surprised to see Nebraska much improved, making a liar of me with my 12th place finish prediction. BTN writers say 11th.

Minnesota – The Golden Gophers are looking to replace their leading scorer and leading rebounder from last year’s team. 6’9” senior forward Joey King might be able to replace the scoring, while freshman Jordan Murphy has been supplying the rebounds, averaging almost 9 per game. However, this team does not shoot well enough to be a consistent winner in this league. Poor shooting has been an issue in most of their early season losses. 13th – BTN writers say 12th.

Rutgers – They may have played the hardest early schedule in D1 hoops…and lost against every tough opponent. Gone from last year’s team are former leaders Mack and Jack (Myles Mack, Kadeem Jack) and leading rebounder Junior Etou transferred to Tulane. We all agree that it will be difficult for them to finish anywhere but last.

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today's guest contributor:
brien jackson

In late November, I publicized an announcement that #DMD was looking to hire another writer and a sales-marketing professional as we begin our 2016 planning. Twenty-one people sent in their information and asked to be considered for the writing position, so I thought one way to help sort through them would be to actually SEE their work, here, live. So, I've been posting the writings of some of the candidates here over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so as they come in. Today's piece is from Brien Jackson.

just what is the market for chris davis?

Whatever the true status of any outstanding or rescinded contract offers, it's pretty clear that the defining story of the Baltimore Orioles offseason right now is Chris Davis. Retaining him is apparently such a priority that Peter Angelos himself is involved directly in the process, and the team's opening offer would easily be the biggest contract the franchise has ever given out. And while there are certainly theoretical alternatives like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton available to replace at least a portion of Davis' power output, the team has yet to be specifically connected to any such player.

But what's just as clear is that the market for Davis right now is, well, very much unclear. The gap between the reported $154 million the Orioles offered and the $200 million agent Scott Boras is looking for is huge, but we've also yet to hear of other teams being directly linked to negotiations for Davis' services in 2016. Complicating things even further, there really haven't been any other players like Davis on the market recently to give us a concrete idea of what we should expect the going rate for him to be.

The two players who most come to mind when I look for comparables to Davis are Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder. Both were power hitting first basemen who were among the stars of their free agent classes, and both got huge deals. Teixeira got $180 million over 8 years all the way back in 2008, while Fielder topped $200 million and got 9 guaranteed years just four years ago.

Davis compares very favorably to both in terms of advanced metrics like weighted runs created (essentially, a number that factors total offensive production and then adjusts them for park and league effects), and the amount of money flowing through the industry has increased substantially thanks to the windfall of new local television contracts, as well as larger national television deals that every team gets a share of. All else being equal, the basic laws of economics should dictate that, if Davis is a comparable player to Teixeira and Fielder and the available money supply has drastically increased, we should expect to see Davis get more money than those two players did when they were on the market.

But, of course, everything is not equal, and this is where trying to figure out where Davis may land gets very messy. First and foremost; there's really no obvious opening for him on any of the traditional big spending teams' roster. The Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees all have a glut of players at the 1B/OF/DH areas, and the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Tigers have already made major additions to their clubs (and the latter two would need to pay Davis to play the OF as they already have better players at first).

Worse still, there are real holes in Davis' resume, chief of which is the absolutely atrocious 2014 season he's just two years removed from. No other major free agent in recent memory has any such disaster of year in such recent proximity to his free agent year. Less importantly, but still possibly an issue; Davis strikes out a lot, roughly a third of his at bats to be precise, and the hot trend in baseball is the sort of high contact offense the Royals have ridden to back-to-back pennants.

Still, it can't be understated how much money is floating around the league these days with all of the new television agreements pumping it cash at an unprecedented rates and the owners taking home a larger share of the league's revenue than they've seen in decades these days. With that in mind it only takes one team to feel left out of the carousel in mid-January to decide to dive into the Davis market head first and upend everything. The Nationals, who have yet to make a substantial move and reportedly offered Jason Heyward a $200 million contract, come to mind immediately as a team that may wake up one morning and decide to back up the money truck to a guy you figure on being able to pencil in for at least 40 home runs next season.

So with that in mind, I have a lot of trouble seeing Davis getting less than the $180 million Teixeira got, and probably over 7 years so as to earn a higher average annual value. That puts the annual salary number at just over $25 million, and considering the Orioles seem likely to have a 20-25% increase in payroll even without a new contract for Davis and would still have major holes to fill in the outfield and starting rotation, that may well prove to be too much for the Dan Duquette to manage. While Davis seems to be the big fish the team covets, it may well be time to start kicking the tires on those alternatives a little harder once the new year comes around.

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ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june
-- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


only two days left to get seats on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 18 seats thus far. 22 seats remain on the trip.

Tuesday
December 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 22

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today's the day your generosity pays off

My old radio pal Glenn Clark pulled off a "Delmon Young" last night and the result generated about 1,500 more coats and pieces of winter apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission. That Clark kid is something else; and so, too, is local musician Zach Merrick of the band All Time Low who flew in from Milwaukee to give us a last-minute push at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square on the last night of our winter-apparel drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota-Scion.

Clark and Merrick have been friends for several years and our 2014 "drive" to benefit Helping Up Mission included a similar event at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, where Merrick posed for pictures, signed autographs and recorded voice-mail greetings for his fans -- with one caveat. In order to meet him, you had to bring some winter apparel for our campaign that benefitted Helping Up Mission. It was a HUGE success and we gathered much more clothing than we would have if, say, two not-all-that-strikingly-handsome-ex-radio-guys would have stood there and tried to drum up clothing from our adoring "fans".

This year's "drive" took us to Glory Days (twice), Jerry's Toyota-Scion and Charles Nusinov and Sons earlier in December and we were doing just fine in terms of donated items. We had plenty of pieces of clothing to distribute later today when we head downtown to Helping Up Mission, but, like always, we wanted more if we could get it. Enter Clark and his "Delmon Young moment", the equivalent of a bases-clearing three-run double in the bottom of the 8th inning.

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Zach Merrick (gray shirt) of the band All Time Low gave three hours of his time last night to make sure our Helping Up Mission event was a success.

Glenn called me on Monday morning and said, "Umm, I think I have something cooking for tonight that you're going to like." He then proceeded to tell me that he had been in contact with Merrick, who now lives in Hawaii but was in Milwaukee over the weekend playing a show with the band, and that Merrick had flown into Baltimore to help us with the coat/winter-apparel drive. Enter our friend Steve Pavlosky of Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, a #DMD corporate partner since day one. Clark hastily arranged for Pavlosky to make room for us at his White Marsh restaurant and by the time Merrick arrived shortly before 6 pm, people were waiting in line with bags of clothes and their autograph books in hand.

Bases cleared, three runs in, and Helping Up Mission wins.

That brought on a new set of problems. We initially had a vehicle big enough to take the clothing to Helping Up Mission today...until Merrick's appearance increased that load by about FIFTEEN full industrial-sized plastic bags. We now had nearly 50 bags of clothing to get from point A to point B. So we needed another vehicle, a bigger one, and the search commenced for someone to help out at the last minute.

Another #DMD partner came to the rescue, as Brad Foxwell of Advanced Heating and Cooling stepped up with his personal truck and he'll be helping what is now a massive operation on Tuesday afternoon when we take -- ready for it? -- over 3,500 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission! Foxwell, by the way, is a double contributor to this year's apparel drive, as he came out on "opening night" to Glory Days with several bags of clothing as a donation. Remember the central theme of #DMD that I included as part of my venture's mission statement back in August of 2014? People helping people. Foxwell and Advanced Heating and Cooling epitomize that theme.

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Add 1,500 more pieces of winter apparel when Zach Merrick shows up at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square and meets his fans!

So...once again this year, you all have come through with flying colors. I say this every December -- and so does Glenn: All we do is facilitate the event. You're the ones who make it happen. This is our 6th year of the coat and winter-apparel drive and each and every year all of you out there come through like Cam Newton in the 4th quarter (I'd usually use a Ravens/Joe Flacco reference but...well...you know). The men at Helping Up Mission will benefit today, and throughout the upcoming winter, because of your warmth and generosity and I can't thank you enough. We'll take pictures and video today and post it here tomorrow at #DMD so you can see for yourself how grateful the men are as they receive their new clothing. It's the next best thing to being there and I want you to see it unfold as it happens.

The list of those receiving "thank you" shout outs is long, but meaningful: Thanks to our friends at Jerry's Toyota-Scion for their generous support of this event for 2015, and to Glory Days Grill in Towson, Charles Nusinov and Sons and Chick fil-A Nottingham Square. All four of those #DMD partners opened their doors for us and gave us a place to call home for a few hours while clothes piled up in their respective locations. Thanks to every single one of you for coming out and bringing your clothing to donate. Without you, we're not going to Helping Up Mission today.

Thanks to Glenn Clark and Tony Young for their work in making the whole event fly without a hiccup. I'm especially proud of Clark, who in between apologizing for Gary Williams losing to Morgan State -- at home no less -- has helped carry on the tradition he and I started six years ago when we did a radio show together in Baltimore. He gets it. I suppose we'll continue to do this annual December winter-apparel drive until Clark makes it big sometime soon and heads off to wherever the next chapter of his broadcasting career takes him...but then again, like Merrick did for us on Monday, I bet Glenn figures out a way to fly back in on a whim to lend a hand and put us over the top.

And thanks to that crazy rock star, Zach Merrick, for flying in from Milwaukee on a moment's notice to give us one final, last push that put us WAY over the top again this year. Last but certainly not least -- a big "thank you" to my family...for allowing me to be away from home for four nights during the month of December to be on location at the respective collection events that #DMD and Glenn Clark hosted.

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if you sell your tickets to steelers fans...

Look at virtually any forum of social media today and you'll see someone with an opinion on selling your tickets to Steelers fans in advance of this Sunday's anticipated 40-point blow-out at home vs. Big Ben and Company.

"You're a bad fan if you sell to Steelers fans" is a familiar cry.

Maybe. But maybe not.

In fact, you're probably NOT a bad fan if you can't go or don't want to go this week and your tickets somehow wind up in the hands of a supporter of the black and gold.

This is not 1985. It's 2015. If you -- meaning, you, the reader -- want to go see the Ravens play an away game, you can ALWAYS get a ticket to that game. ALWAYS. To that end, if you want to go see Bruce Springsteen or Adele at the Verizon Center in 2016, you can ALWAYS get a ticket to that event, too. There's this thing called the internet, now. It's coming on pretty strong. And if you're a Ravens fan and the team plays in Dallas (which they do, next season) and you want to see the game, those tickets are readily available to you.

Yes, there's a difference between a secondary market sale and someone in Baltimore putting their tickets up for sale this week and KNOWINGLY selling them to a Steelers fan. I get that. But here's the deal -- and if you deny this is true, you're just saying it to say it. If you decide you're not going to be a party to Pittsburgh people slithering in the football stadium on Sunday afternoon, all you're doing is NOT selling your tickets. Those folks are STILL getting in and that's a guarantee. They're just not getting in with YOUR tickets. It's OK if you make a stand and say, "Nope, not selling to Pittsburgh people" but just know that you're not keeping them out for long.

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Whether or not you sell this guy YOUR ticket, he's getting in on Sunday.

And if you really want the truth, I'll give it to you. I've traveled to Pittsburgh over a dozen times for Ravens-Steelers games and I've been to those games here in Baltimore, too. Guess what? Those people who root for the Steelers are no more on the a-hole list than Ravens' fans. It all depends on how much they drink, how long they've been drinking and how much grief they get in the seats. In all of my years going to Pittsburgh guess how many times I've been threatened or felt in fear for my safety? ZERO. And that's because I'm sane (go ahead, question that) and don't go to the games looking to fight. That scenario will play out a lot on Sunday in Baltimore as well. Steelers fans will show up at the stadium and just be there to watch the game and get home safely afterwards. Will there be idiots among those dressed in black and gold on Sunday? Of course. Here's a news bulletin for you: There will also be idiots in the stands on Sunday dressed in purple. Guaranteed. You will find a revealing blend of Pittsburgh fans on Sunday; some who are good, friendly people and some who are clowns. That same blend can be found with folks wearing purple on Sunday. Sorry...that's the truth.

So, go ahead and play the "you're a bad fan" card if a friend is selling his tickets to just anyone, but the whole-truth-and-nothing-but-the-truth is if you plunk down $100 a seat for ten games, pay $9.00 for a beer, spend $30-$40 to park your car, and buy a $99 purple jersey to wear to the stadium; there's nothing after that -- unless you're a jerk who gets drunk and makes the day uncomfortable for others around you -- which can make you a "bad fan". That's just me and my opinion, but that's how I feel.

Now...if you ever sell your Caps tickets to a Flyers fan...you deserve to have your radiator punctured the next time you're at the Verizon Center. But we'll tackle that one some other time.

I'm kidding, of course. You can go ahead and sell your tickets to Flyers fans because they're getting in no matter what you do. And some of them -- not all, but some -- are guaranteed to be jerks. But they're your seats and you own them, so do what you want with them.

And for anyone saying, "Drew, you're talking out of both sides of your mouth, you'd NEVER agree with someone selling their Caps-Flyers tickets to a Flyers fan", let me give you the gospel. I organized a bus trip to Philadelphia last February to see the Caps and Flyers at Wells Fargo Center and I took freakin' Flyers fans with me! In fact, a good friend of mine, Mike Bowers, came on the trip and wore a ratty, stinky looking Bobby Clarke jersey. So, yes, I would "sell" to a Flyers fan. I simply would prefer the stadium not be filled with jerks, frankly. It can be filled with half Ravens-half Steelers fans or half Caps-half Flyers fans as long as people (no matter what team they like) aren't jerks.

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ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june -- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click here for details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations two blocks from Fenway Park for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $599 to $799 per-person.

Yes, you read that right. You can fly to Boston, stay in a downtown hotel, go to three games and have an amazing trip to see Fenway Park -- for less than $800.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). You can also click here to see the details and payment options there. A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


only two days left to get seats on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people have reached out to me recently asking if I'm putting together a Caps bus trip in 2016. I love the Caps, of course, so it's certainly "in my blood" to get a trip organized and take a bunch of folks down to the Verizon Center to see Alex Ovechkin and Company live and in person. If you've never been to a Caps game, it should be on your "must do" list. It's a wild two-and-a-half-hours of sports fun and entertainment.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

So...the #DMD Caps trip is happening. And who better to see the Capitals bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 18 seats thus far. 22 seats remain on the trip.


Monday
December 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 21

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when you're 4-9, you don't think clearly (just ask tim jernigan)

I can remember when it all started, actually. The Ravens were already 0-1 on the season and lollygaggying through a listless first half in Oakland and John Harbaugh rolled the dice and went for it on 4th and 1 at the BALTIMORE 29 yard line, trailing 17-10. Yes, the head coach went for it on his own 29 yard line...and it worked, by the way. The following week at home vs. Cincinnati, the first Ravens' TD of the game was scored on a 4th and 4 gamble at midfield.

So, because of their record, mostly, Harbaugh has definitely gambled more this season than any of his other seven previous campaigns in Baltimore. I get it. When you're trying desperately to make something happen, you do crazy stuff. Most of the time this season when Harbaugh has "gambled", I've understood it and mostly agreed with it. I see the need for crazy stuff when you're 1-6, 2-7 and 4-9.

Calling for a fake punt on 4th and 9 from your own 17 yard line in the second quarter actually constitutes "SUPER crazy stuff".

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The Ravens head coach took responsibility for his blunder on Sunday...too bad Timmy Jernigan didn't do the same thing.

And when it didn't work yesterday, the 50,000 in the stadium and even the 20,000 not there were howling about it. I get it. It was dumb. The funny thing, though, was Sam Koch actually took the wrong route through the line or he would have made it. Watch the replay -- as Koch tucks the ball in and starts his run, if he reads the blocking scheme correctly and runs to his right, he has 20 yards of daylight in front of him. Instead, he ran left and was tackled five yards later. I don't bring that up to say "it was the right call, it nearly worked...", rather, I bring it up to point out that any call, at any point, is always subject to something the coaching staff doesn't control -- player execution.

I like that Harbaugh took ownership of the dumb call after the game. That's what a coach should do, although I guaran-friggin-tee you that both he and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg will look at the film today and point to the fact that the play could have worked had Koch seen the field better on his scamper with the ball. In the end, though, it was a bad idea at a bad time in the game, with the Ravens only trailing 14-7 and Kansas City looking -- to me, at least -- like a team that could be had if things fell into place correctly.

It would have been much easier for the coach to just say afterwards, "Look, we're 4-9...we're trying to make anything happen that we can. We thought the Chiefs might be taking us for granted at that point, so we tried to mix it up on them a little bit. It wasn't smart, but we're 4-9...if we were 7-6 or 8-5, we wouldn't have tried that play at that moment in the game." And that, of course, is the entire truth. At 7-6 or 8-5, you'd never, ever, ever try a fake punt on your 17 yard line in the second quarter when you were trailing 14-7 and playing for your playoff lives.

You'd also never wear those gold pants if you were 7-6 or 8-5 and vying for a post-season berth. Holy cow...those duds made Rodney Dangerfield's golf attire in Caddyshack look good.

Back to things that matter: I'll fault Harbaugh much more for the Buck Allen benching than I will for the ill-fated fake punt. I get it, you can't be fumbling the football. Turnovers are a killer in the NFL and when you give the other team the ball and they pick it up and run it back for a score, that's a dagger in the back. But how is what Buck Allen did any different than the quarterback throwing the ball to the other team and having them run it back for a TD against you? Let's be honest now -- how is it different? And yet, Matt Schaub wasn't benched in Cleveland or Miami for any of those "pick six" throws he made.

I understand completely that Allen's a rookie and you're trying to reinforce ball security to him, but sitting him on the bench for three quarters? Nah, that's not the right way to "teach" him in my opinion. He lost the ball at the bottom of a dogpile on the other team's 25 yard line. It's not like he was carrying it "like a loaf of bread" (as my Dad used to say) and had it knocked out of his hand. I very well MIGHT understand telling Allen to take a seat on the bench if he had developed that bad habit and wasn't doing anything to correct it. In this case, though, he was falling to the ground and one of the seven guys on top of him knocked the ball loose, perhaps one of his own players, even. Benching him? Not for me.

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This is the guy who should have been benched in yesterday's loss to K.C.

That said, Timmy Jernigan did deserve Harbaugh's wrath and also -- much more than Buck Allen -- deserved to be benched for that idiotic 15-yard penalty that led to K.C.'s first TD of the afternoon. Here's the deal on that: What Jernigan did is just like a turnover. The Ravens stopped the Chiefs on 3rd down and were going to get the ball via a punt on 4th down. The game would have remained tied 0-0 at that point. Instead, Jernigan hits K.C. quarterback Alex Smith when he was clearly out-of-bounds and the ball stays in Kansas City's hands and they score a touchdown three plays later. That. Was. A. Turnover. It's just not recorded as one. And it's not like that was the first time Jernigan earned the yellow laundry for such a stupid decision. He's Bernard Pollard II, it seems, doing dumb stuff on a all-too-frequent basis for reasons only he knows.

Oh, and then later on in the game, trailing 27-14, Jernigan's dancing around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose after a tackle behind the line-of-scrimmage. Clown shoes...

If anyone deserved to be benched on Sunday, it was Jernigan, not Allen. I'm not sure if that thought went through Harbaugh's mind, but the Jernigan penalty was far, far more egregious than Allen's miscue. And then, after the game, Jernigan whisked the media away from his locker with a defiant "I'm not apologizing for that one...if the quarterback is going to run on the sideline like that, I'll hit him every time."

No wonder the team's 4-10.

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ever been to fenway park? we're going next next june -- and so can you!

If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know by now one of the spokes in our wheel has become bucket list sports trips. In fact, we'll be launching www.bucketlistsportstrips.com in January and doing trips-specific marketing in 2016 designed to capture sports enthusiasts around town who want to see places like Augusta National Golf Club, the Army-Navy game and other iconic events/venues. By the way, if you're interested in going to the Masters next April 5, we only have 8 seats left on our trip (click on "Trips" above in the main header of the website for more details).

X
Join us in Boston, June 14-16, and experience Fenway Park!

I'm very excited about the newest addition to our sports trips menu. We have an outstanding trip planned for next June that many of you will no doubt be interested in...particularly if you've never been to Fenway Park in Boston. Even if you've been there, this is a great summer trip, but for those longing for the experience of Fenway Park, we're taking in a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series June 14-16, 2016.

Here's how we're doing it: We'll be flying from Baltimore (BWI) to Boston on Tuesday morning, June 14. We'll be staying at a downtown Boston hotel and seeing the Orioles play the Red Sox on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and then we'll fly back to Baltimore on Friday morning, June 17. Your package includes round-trip airfare, game tickets for all three games (with the rest of the group, not seats scattered all over the park) and hotel accommodations for three nights. Pricing varies depending on the number of people in your hotel room, but it ranges from $729 to $849 per-person.

This trip is limited to only 30 people, so if you're interested in seeing Fenway Park and the Orioles next June, please reach out to me right away via e-mail (18inarow@gmail.com). A $150 deposit is required at the time of your reservation and the rest isn't due until May, 2016.


only three days left to get seats on our caps-flyers bus trip, jan. 27

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 14 seats thus far. 26 seats remain on the trip.


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put your money
where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only," although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

I went 2-2-1 yesterday, so my climb to .500 was stalled. I had gone 6-4 over the last two weeks and thought yesterday might be the day I inch closer to the elusive "even money" mark. Alas, the late Steelers TD and San Francisco failing to cover at home did me in, somewhat.

Here's how I saw yesterday's five games:

BEARS AT VIKINGS (-5.5): I'm not sure what's happened to Minnesota of late, but this game is critical to the playoff hopes as they come in at 8-5. Maybe that pounding they took at home to the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago left a welt, but they haven't been the same since. I'm completely unsold on the Bears, who win in Green Bay one week and then lose at home to the 49'ers the next week...so I'm going with the Vikings to win comfortably in this one, 30-17.

RESULT: Nailed this one, almost on the nose, as the Vikings won with ease, 38-17.


FALCONS AT JAGUARS (-3): Here's how crazy the 2015 NFL season has become: I'm betting (not really, but you know what I mean) on the Jacksonville Jaguars to actually WIN a football game today. Atlanta is complete disarray, while the Jags actually look like they might have figured something out with Blake Bortles at QB. Bizarre, I know, but I'm going to go with the Jaguars, 33-27.

RESULT: Fell to 1-1 on the day after the Falcons pulled off a 23-17 win. Never figured Atlanta could hold Jacksonville to 17 points...


BRONCOS AT STEELERS (-7): This is a huge game for both teams today, as Denver needs to sew up the West and continue to work at getting either the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC, which could give them enough time to get Peyton Manning healthy. The Steelers need to keep winning because it looks like both the Jets and Chiefs are going to finish 11-5. A loss today and Pittsburgh might be in real trouble, playoff-wise. I'm taking Denver to cover in this one, but Pittsburgh wins, 30-26.

RESULT: I was already spending the money I was going to win when the Broncos were up 27-13 at the half. Reminder: Never spend the money you think you're going to win until you've actually won. Pittsburgh scores late to cause a "push" in this one, but it felt like a loss to me.


BENGALS (-5.5) AT 49'ERS: Cincinnati might very well have to finish out the season with A.J. McCarron at QB, so today will be a decent test to see if he can hold up his end of the bargain. The 49'ers aren't very good, but they're steady enough to put up a fight in this one. I don't think they can stop the Bengals' offensively, but McCarron is now in a situation unlike any other he's experienced before in the NFL and it could get dicey for Cincinnati today if he can't handle the pressure. I'll take the Bengals to win, but the 49'ers cover in a 23-20 Cincinnati victory.

RESULT: Hats off to A.J. McCarron and the Bengals. San Francisco isn't very good, but when you go in to ANYONE'S stadium with a QB who still has training wheels on and you beat them by 10 points, you've done well for yourself. I'm 1-2-1 heading into the final game on my list.


TITANS AT PATRIOTS (-14): I know New England has some issues at running back and they're not overloaded at wide receiver right now, but that shouldn't matter today against a really bad Tennessee team. If New England went into Houston and won 27-6, what are they going to do at home against a terrible Titans team? I'm taking the Patriots in a laugher and giving the points in a 35-16 win.

RESULT: Wow, I almost hit this one perfectly, as New England won 33-16. Better yet, I also nailed my "Best Bet" with this one.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: Gotta go with the Patriots as my "Best Bet". It seems highly improbable that they can win by 14 points or less against Tennessee.

RESULT: Should have doubled down on this game. It was too easy.


RECORD TO DATE: 34-39-2

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-2-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 8-6-1

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umbc women's basketball stays red-hot with win over loyola

Don't look now, but the Lady Retrievers of UMBC are on quite a roll early in their 2015-2016 campaign.

Phil Stern's team used critical foul-shooting down the stretch and Taylor McCarley finished with a game-high 18 points to help the Retrievers hold off Loyola, 52-46, in non-conference action at Reitz Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The Retrievers picked up their sixth straight victory and their eighth win in the last nine games to improve to 8-3 on the season, while Loyola fell to 3-7 overall.

UMBC used a quick 5-0 run in the fourth quarter behind a trey from McCarley and a long jumper from Pandora Wilson to escape a 37-37 tie and get the distance it needed to finish the game at the free throw line, hitting 10-of-14 shots at the charity stripe in the final 2:14 to hang on for the victory.

McCarley added five rebounds and three assists, while junior forward Pandora Wilson added 13 points and seven rebounds and senior guard Capree Garner chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in the win.

UMBC's next home game is Saturday, January 2nd at 1:00 pm vs. Vermont at the RAC Arena.


Sunday
December 20
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 17
Issue 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD


This, today, is a regular season game unlike any other the Ravens have ever played under John Harbaugh.

They're playing a game that doesn't matter.

Sure, last week's home game with Seattle was unimportant, too, but technically - since the Ravens were 4-8 going into it - a bunch of crazy stuff could have happened in the final month and Baltimore could have still made the playoffs if they would have finished 8-8 and a few other teams hit the skids to finish 8-8. Improbable? Of course. 98% chance it wouldn't have happened? Probably 99%. But, the Ravens didn't get the "y" (eliminated from playoff competition) next to their name in the standings until Seattle's 35-6 win was in the books.

Today, the Ravens are officially out of it. This has never happened to John Harbaugh in eight years in Baltimore. Even back in 2013 when the club missed the playoffs one season after winning the Super Bowl, the Ravens' playoff fate went down to the final game in Cincinnati. It's hard to believe, but in seven seasons prior to this one, the Ravens played 112 regular season games and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has mattered.

This one, today, only matters to the Kansas City Chiefs and my guess is there will be plenty of holiday shoppers disguised as empty seats at the stadium when the ball gets put in the air at 1:00 pm.

So, go ahead and brood about the season, and the injuries, and the bad calls, and the coaching staff. Do that if you must. But just remember that over the last seven years, you've never once walked into that stadium with the game having zero importance to the Ravens.

That's one helluva track record.

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today's main storylines:
ravens vs. chiefs


*Can the QB -- who knows which one? -- stay healthy? -- I'll admit I'm somewhat puzzled by John Harbaugh's reluctance to name a starting QB this week. I guess it has something to do with "coaches integrity", as Harbaugh wants to do his very best to treat this game like he would if the Ravens were 7-6 and battling for a playoff spot. He doesn't want to show any favoritism to Andy Reid, I suppose, who could game-plan much more effectively if he knew the Baltimore starting QB ahead of time. That said, it's either going to be Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen starting...and I'm not sure Reid and his coaching staff are at all concerned about either one. But, one of the keys for the Ravens today will be keeping the starter upright and in the game. If Schaub starts, how fit and active can he be after sitting out practice leading up to the Seahawks game and then missing the game itself? If Clausen starts (and I say he will), can he stay healthy for sixty minutes? While the Ravens are likely to lose no matter who plays at QB today, one of the only ways that Baltimore can win this game is if the QB and receivers build a rapport and get into a nice rythym.

*Memo to Marc: run the ball -- Jimmy Clausen threw the ball 45 times last week. Putting the ball in the air on 45 occasions is a recipe for losing when Joe Flacco is the QB, and he actually knows what he's doing. Having Clausen (or Schaub, or Ryan Mallet) throw the ball 45 times is going to fail, unless of course you're playing the Browns and they let you block a field goal and return it for a TD on the game's final play. Anyway...the Ravens need to run the football today. And, yes, that means they need to try and run it even if they're not successful at it early on. If I'm Harbaugh, I grab a coffee with Marc Trestman before the game and tell him to run the ball 45 times today. Give it to Buck Allen 30 times and Terrance West 15 times. Let's run the ball. Let's see what those two guys can do.

*Put pressure on Alex Smith -- The Ravens let Russell Wilson pick them apart last week, but he's a very good quarterback with a solid offensive line and a plethora of guys who can catch the ball. We will not mistake Alex Smith for Russell Wilson today. So, the Ravens need to dig in and get some pressure on the Chiefs' QB and try to rattle him for 60 minutes. A couple of turnovers here and there and the Ravens might find they have a chance to win. Unlikely? Yes. But I'm looking for any way the Ravens can keep this one close and getting Smith to make mistakes is one of the ways.

*Win the field position battle -- While Sam Koch isn't going to win the team's MVP award (that would be the ultimate embarrassment, the punter being the MVP), there's little argument he's been better at what he does than anyone else on the team for the first 13 weeks of the season. And he could factor in today's game, particularly if the Ravens generate some offense but stall around midfield like they tend to do. If Koch can flip-the-field and pin the Chiefs deep in their own territory, the Ravens could parlay that field position into turnovers or points.


Here’s how Drew sees today's game:

I whiffed on last week's game with the Seahawks, as I thought Seattle would win (20-10) but I figured the Baltimore defense would step up and go toe-to-toe with Russell Wilson and Company. It didn't happen that way. I think it will happen that way today against the Chiefs.

The Ravens are depleted, yes, but they got the blow-out loss out of the way last week and it's hard to imagine they'll get run out of the gym at home two weeks in a row. Kansas City is playing well of late, yes, but they're coming off a ten point output -- albeit in the rain -- in a narrow win over the hapless Chargers last week in K.C. They're offense is decent-to-occasionally-good, but nothing more than that. The Chiefs will lead 14-7 at the half and the Ravens will narrow that margin to 17-13 heading into the 4th quarter. Alex Smith will find Jeremy Maclin for a TD early in the final quarter and the Chiefs will tack on a late field goal to win 27-13.

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percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game vs. Kansas City and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

74% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the Chiefs win today?"

49% - Chances of the Chiefs holding the Ravens to under 250 yards passing?

54% - The chances Alex Smith throws for over 300 yards?

42% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 130 yards?

44% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

3% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?


put your money
where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only," although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

I went 3-2 a week ago -- for the second straight week -- and have continued to inch closer and closer to elusive .500 mark, as I'm now 32-37-1 on the season. I need a big day today.

Here's how I see today's five games:

BEARS AT VIKINGS (-5.5): I'm not sure what's happened to Minnesota of late, but this game is critical to the playoff hopes as they come in at 8-5. Maybe that pounding they took at home to the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago left a welt, but they haven't been the same since. I'm completely unsold on the Bears, who win in Green Bay one week and then lose at home to the 49'ers the next week...so I'm going with the Vikings to win comfortably in this one, 30-17.


FALCONS AT JAGUARS (-3): Here's how crazy the 2015 NFL season has become: I'm betting (not really, but you know what I mean) on the Jacksonville Jaguars to actually WIN a football game today. Atlanta is complete disarray, while the Jags actually look like they might have figured something out with Blake Bortles at QB. Bizarre, I know, but I'm going to go with the Jaguars, 33-27.


BRONCOS AT STEELERS (-7): This is a huge game for both teams today, as Denver needs to sew up the West and continue to work at getting either the #1 or #2 seed in the AFC, which could give them enough time to get Peyton Manning healthy. The Steelers need to keep winning because it looks like both the Jets and Chiefs are going to finish 11-5. A loss today and Pittsburgh might be in real trouble, playoff-wise. I'm taking Denver to cover in this one, but Pittsburgh wins, 30-26.


BENGALS (-5.5) AT 49'ERS: Cincinnati might very well have to finish out the season with A.J. McCarron at QB, so today will be a decent test to see if he can hold up his end of the bargain. The 49'ers aren't very good, but they're steady enough to put up a fight in this one. I don't think they can stop the Bengals' offensively, but McCarron is now in a situation unlike any other he's experienced before in the NFL and it could get dicey for Cincinnati today if he can't handle the pressure. I'll take the Bengals to win, but the 49'ers cover in a 23-20 Cincinnati victory.


TITANS AT PATRIOTS (-14): I know New England has some issues at running back and they're not overloaded at wide receiver right now, but that shouldn't matter today against a really bad Tennessee team. If New England went into Houston and won 27-6, what are they going to do at home against a terrible Titans team? I'm taking the Patriots in a laugher and giving the points in a 35-16 win.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: Gotta go with the Patriots as my "Best Bet". It seems highly improbable that they can win by 14 points or less against Tennessee.


RECORD TO DATE: 32-37-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

BEST BET OF THE DAY (SEASON): 7-6-1

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our caps-flyers bus trip is now on sale!!

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 10 seats thus far. 30 seats remain on the trip.


Saturday
December 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 19

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should they stay...or should they go?

In today's edition of #DMD, our guest contributor -- Brien Jackson -- tackles the evaluation of the Ravens' two main coordinators, Marc Trestman (offensive) and Dean Pees (defensive). It's a well-written piece filled with opinion and fact and since I don't want to give any of its contents away, I'll stop commenting on it now. You can read it all below.

Brien's piece got me to thinking about Trestman and Pees. A few weeks back I tackled the Trestman topic on a more generic level by simply saying it's tough to make a change at offensive coordinator because of Flacco, mainly. Can you really hand a (next season) 9th year quarterback his FIFTH coordinator in five years and expect to have the offense chugging along smoothly next September? Oh, and let's not forget, Flacco won't be able to actually run and do anything until late summer 2016, at the earliest. I think Trestman's departure would be more damaging than having him return. I'm not 100% sold on him as a coordinator, but I'm 100% sold on the fact that I don't think letting him go helps all that much.

Pees, to me, is the more interesting of the two, because he's been here the longest and the data on him is by far more complete. The Ravens are going to finish 4-12 this year and their defense will be a significant reason for that downfall. Injuries? They've mattered, no down about it. I'm fairly certain the team wouldn't finish 4-12 if Suggs played all the games. I'm not sure they'd be 8-8 with Suggs in there -- he's not a "4 win player" -- but I'm fairly confident they wouldn't have finished 4-12 if #55 would have played all the games. Then again, if the refs get that call right against Jacksonville, the Ravens finish 5-11 instead of 4-12. But anyway...

The big question as it relates to Pees is "Can the Ravens do better and find a more competent defensive coordinator than Dean Pees?" Yes, that means I'm asking, "Should the Ravens fire Dean Pees?". I'm thinking about that one these days and I'll have my answer sometime next week, I think. People around town like to fire coaches left and right as soon as the club hits a bump in the road. I'm a little more cautious when it comes to upheaval and disruption. In the meantime, Brien Jackson will tell you what he thinks in his piece below.

Oh, and since there are still games left to play, our Ravens reporter, Bo Smolka, takes you through tomorrow's Ravens-Chiefs game in today's edition of #DMD. Happy Saturday everyone!

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


It’s pretty remarkable that Sunday’s game will be the first in John Harbaugh’s eight-year Ravens tenure in which the team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They face a Chiefs team that, like the Ravens, began with a 1-5 record. But very unlike the Ravens, the Chiefs have not lost since, reeling off seven straight wins to move squarely into the playoff picture.

The Ravens are left to play spoiler, and really, they’d like nothing more than to end the season with a few wins and spoil playoff plans for their remaining opponents – especially Pittsburgh and Cincinnati over the final two weeks. First things first, though. John Harbaugh faces his old Eagles compatriot, Andy Reid. Can the Ravens end the Chiefs’ seven-game winning streak? Here’s what they’ll need to do for that to happen:

*Stay away from third-and-long

The Ravens need to commit to the run, mix the run and the pass and keep the Chiefs guessing. The Ravens do not want to get into the position where they obviously need to throw. The Chiefs lead the AFC with 18 interceptions, including three that have been returned for touchdowns. Let’s see -- a team that thrives on pick-sixes against a quarterback who hands them out like candy on Halloween. What could possibly go wrong? Yet another reason the Ravens should start Jimmy Clausen at quarterback even if Matt Schaub is healthy enough to play.

*Move the chains

On a related note, the Ravens need to be able to move the ball and convert on third down. What's with Ravens receivers so often running third-down patterns 2 and 3 yards shy of the first-down marker? It's one reason the Ravens rank 27th in third-down conversion percentage. True, the pass rush sometimes forces a quick throw, but the Ravens need to show better field awareness. And they need to get the tight ends involved, even if Crockett Gillmore is out; last week against the Seahawks, the Ravens didn't throw a single pass to a tight end.

*Contain TE Travis Kelce

Tight ends have killed the Ravens all season. Linebackers and safeties just have not been able to cover them, and now here comes Kelce, one of the best in the league. Kelce has 59 catches for 749 yards, which ranks fifth in the NFL among tight ends, and four touchdowns. They Ravens need to communicate and cover, and when Kelce does catch the ball, tackle. They haven’t done any of those things consistently.

*Defend the run

The Chiefs have lost Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles for the season with a torn ACL, but they are 7-1 without him with a read-option offense that features Charcandrick West as well as quarterback Alex Smith as one of the running threats. The Chiefs average 123.7 rushing yards a game, seventh-best in the league, and Smith ranks fourth in rushing yardage by a quarterback (366). The Ravens have allowed 137 and 123 rushing yards in their past two games, and need to tighten that up.

*Make a special teams play

Sam Koch's punting helped flip field position last week and indirectly set up a field goal, but the Ravens could use a scoring play on special teams. Kaelin Clay has one punt return touchdown and has come close to breaking another, and he might take kick return duties as well now with Raheem Mostert cut. The kick block team has been active all year, and the Ravens could use another. Six special teams points could be a huge variable. It would also help if Justin Tucker could snap out of his 50-plus slump; he's just 2-for-8 from that distance this season.

Prediction: These two teams are headed in opposite directions, and given the personnel, there's no reason to think that will change this week. The Ravens shorthanded offense again faces a top-10 defense, and although the Chiefs offense isn't spectacular, it is efficient and for the most part error-free. That will be enough. Chiefs 23-Ravens 13.

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today’s #dmd guest contributor: brien jackson

In late November, I publicized an announcement that #DMD was looking to hire another writer and a sales-marketing professional as we begin our 2016 planning. Twenty-one people sent in their information and asked to be considered for the writing position, so I thought one way to help sort through them would be to actually SEE their work, here, live. So, I've been posting the writings of some of the candidates here over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so as they come in. Today's piece is from Brien Jackson.

The Ravens' first losing season of the Harbaugh-Flacco era has, predictably, brought on a lot of angst amongst Ravens' fans, and with that angst naturally comes calls for changes going forward and consequences for those deemed responsible. Arguably no one in the organization has born the brunt of those criticisms more than coordinators Dean Pees and Marc Trestman.

This isn't esepcially surprising, as criticism of coordinators has been a staple in town since Harbaugh was hired. The only two coordinators who haven't been subjected to notable criticism were Chuck Pagano and Gary Kubiak and, coincidentally, both of them served only a single year in the role before taking a head coaching job elsewhere. All of the others, even the one's with Superbowl rings, have provoked the ire of the purple and black faithful at some point. Of course, the condemnation isn't universal, and there's been some mild defense offered up of the Ravens' coaching staff, mostly centered around the idea that you can't judge any coach in the face of the sheer amount of injuries the team has had to deal with this year. Well let me offer up a more full-throated defense of the two assistants: They've been dealt as tough a hand as you could ask for in 2015, and they've both done a pretty outstanding job all things considered.

Let's start with Trestman, who's probably the harder of the two to evaluate as it's only his first year with the team. This is a guy who's been handed a guy of “who's that?” players at wide receiver, in a league that's increasingly built around passing offense, but has made productive receivers out of Kamar Aiken, Crockett Gilmore, and Nick Boyle on a game-to-game basis. He seems to get along well enough with Joe Flacco, most likely because he came into the picture with the attitude that he needed to adapt to the franchise quarterback, not vice-versa. In a year that's otherwise a total washout I think that's at least a strong sign that there's potential for the future here, and there certainly hasn't been any kind of egregious failing that would lead me to believe there's no hope of success with Trestman in the way, for example, that I began to feel about Cam Cameron sometime in 2010.

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With the Baltimore offense now in the upper half of most NFL stat categories, has Marc Trestman done enough to quiet the Charm City critics?

In a more X's and O's perspective, Trestman's calling card has always been his creative route designs and ability to get receivers open consistently, and on that front any fair observer has to acknowledge the Ravens have done an outstanding job this year. They may not be catching the ball consistently enough or making the big plays, but this rag-tag receiving corp has been operating with more space and seperation than we've seen, arguably, than at any other point in Flacco's tenure. And as we saw earlier this season when Steve Smith Sr. was still healthy, giving a legitimate playmaker that kind of space in which to catch and run can be a huge factor for an offensive looking to make big plays.

Add in the fact that firing Trestman would mean asking Flacco to come next season with his fifth different coordinator in as many training camps while he's also trying to rehab from a torn ACL, and I think it's tough to argue that you could clearly add more than you lose with any realistic replacements at this point.

But the guy who gets the most criticism from Ravens fans week in and week out is defensive coordinator Dean Pees. And look...I get it: Pees wants to run a pretty vanilla scheme that's not nearly as fun to watch as, say, Rex Ryan's blitz happy scheme. But asthetic preferences are not the same as objective assessments, and just because something isn't super exciting doesn't mean it's not effective.

And Pees is certainly effective. In his first season, the team won the Superbowl despite major injuries to Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, and Lardarius Webb and because, in many ways, of Pees' playcalling in the Superbowl. In 2013 and 2014 the team had the 12th and 8th best defenses in total yards, respectively, and despite Pees' reputation for conservative pass rush calls ranked second in the league in sacks in 2014. This year they've continued to generate good pressure for most of the season despite another injury to Suggs, but the overall effort has been hampered largely by a secondary that I think just about every Pees critic would have to concede is severely lacking in talent.

Mostly though, I think a big portion of the Pees criticism is a result of many fans losing perspective on the pecularities that so benefitted this franchise during the first decade of the 21st century. Yes the Ravens were consistently better on defense in the years before Pees than they've been during his tenure but, a) the league has been changing, both in rules and in talent distribution, in ways that make the sort of defensive domination the Ravens showed from 2000-06 virtually impossible to reproduce now and, b) those teams had the benefit of putting Ray Lewis and Ed Reed on the field at the same time.

This isn't meant as a dig in any way, but I really get the sense sometimes that a lot of Baltimoreans don't yet fully appreciate how blessed they were to have two of the very best of all-time on the same unit at the same time, and how that sort of success just isn't going to be replicated on a team that's not going to be combinging two inner circle Hall of Famers with the likes of Chris McAllister, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata.

Now, none of this is to say that changes don't need to be made if things are going to get better. The technique and communication in the secondary has been beyond dreadful all year, but that's on the position coach to a much larger degree than it's on the coordinator, and Chris Hewitt is likely to be the big scapegoat for the failed season when Black Monday finally rolls around. Organizationally the team also needs to seriously examine why they simply have not done a good job of evaluating and obtaining good defensive backs for some time now, and must figure out a way to infuse a ton of talent into the secondary very quickly.

It's tempting to chastise them for the continued lack of game breaking talent at the receiver position as well but, in fairness, they did draft a receiver in the first round of last year's draft (and a tight end in the second to boot), and it's no one's fault, per se, that he got hurt before he even played a game. But any evaluation that happens needs to be measured, objective, and needs to take into consideration what factors were outside of the control of the coaches. If the team fires either of their coordinators it certainly won't be the end of the world, but in and of itself it won't fix won't ails Steve Bisciotti's franchise either.

And in the meantime, Marc Trestman and Dean Pees both deserve a tip of the cap for doing as good a job as anyone could expect with what fate has handed them in 2015.

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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

brought to you by
Greg Marsh

pulliam, eibner win local soccer honors

The two most significant awards of the local high school soccer season have been handed out and neither honor is a surprise, as Curley's Tre Pulliam was named Player-of-the-Year and Perry Hall head coach Pete Eibner earned his first Coach-of-the-Year selection.

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29 goals in 20 games was more than enough to earn Curley's Tre Pulliam Player-of-the-Year honors.

A four-year starter, and All-Metro first-team selection, Pulliam led the Friars to a 17-9 record and a spot in the MIAA title game against McDonogh. In Curley's 2-1 win at Calvert Hall in the MIAA semi-finals, Pulliam notched a key goal just before halftime and then set-up the game-winning tally in the final 30 seconds as the Friars moved on to face McDonogh. In the championship game, he notched the game's first goal in what would wind up being a 2-1 Curley loss. Overall in 2015, Pulliam scored 29 goals and added 11 assists, scoring in 20 of the 24 games he played in. While his soccer skills stand out, his confidence and leadership proved just as important in the team's successful season.

The UMBC commit scored 74 career goals — three shy of Giuliano Celenza's all-time program mark — and added 25 assists.

“As a coach, Tre really spolis you by the fact you can really rely on him to put the ball in the back of the net," Archbishop Curley coach Barry Stitz told the Baltimore Sun. "He’s one of those special players that every time he touches the ball, you know something special can happen to help the team."

Meanwhile, at Perry Hall, Pete Eibner led the Gators to the program's first Class 4A state title with a 1-0 win over Meade to finish #3 in the state with a 17-3 record. Eibner, who is 61-20-9 in five seasons, got the most from a hard-working team that was led by a dedicated senior class.

A 1-0 loss to Catonsville in the Baltimore County championship was avenged with a 2-1 win over the Comets in the North region playoffs, setting the stage for Perry Hall's run to the title game against Meade, where they finally captured the elusive state crown after four previous losses in the championship contest.

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. Be sure to check in next week for more local High School sports coverage and be sure to check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs too. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.


our caps-flyers bus trip is now on sale!!

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 10 seats thus far. 30 seats remain on the trip.


Friday
December 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 18

subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

thanks for proving that #dmd works!

Every month or so in these parts, I feel the overwhelming need to brag. Frankly, I should do it a lot more, because so much good is happening in our community that I have an obligation to bring it to light more often that I do. That might just be my first resolution for 2016...share the good work of the #DMD community with more regularity.

Someone asked me on Thursday to describe what it is that Drew's Morning Dish "is". I had to think about it for a few seconds. "It's a sports website," I said. "So, a blog?" they replied. "No, not a blog," I quickly shot back. "I mean, there's a lot of writing, like a blog..." I explained. "But it's a website. With sports commentary. And then there's another part of it where readers contribute and we ask those who visit the site each day to participate in our community projects and support our corporate sponsors."

I didn't necessarily "bristle" at the thought of calling #DMD a "blog", but I think its blossomed into much more than that. I know our place, too. I mean, we're not the Wall Street Journal or The Huffington Post...we're just a Baltimore-based sports website that offers something different than the daily newspaper provides. And we try our best to do it fairly and without much lean one way or the other. That said, it's no secret that I want the Ravens and Orioles and Terps to win...and there are occasions when this site benefits from that. Last January, we generated revenue when the Ravens played football games in January in Pittsburgh and New England. We won't be making that money this January. So, everything we do here is readily transparent.

There are exciting things happening at #DMD these days. We've hired a new sales associate and we'll officially welcome him next week. You've seen a couple of different "guest contributors" and you're going to read two more in the next two days; today it's Matt Hamilton and tomorrow, Brien Jackson. Both are excellent writers who might very well find their way into more permanent roles with #DMD. We have a lot of people to evaluate over the next 2-3 weeks, but, as you'll see for yourself, they're both VERY talented.

Next Tuesday, I'll be heading down to Helping Up Mission (along with my former radio cohort, Glenn Clark) with a truck-load of winter apparel for the men who are living in that facility. This is the 6th year we've asked you to donate your unwanted or unused winter clothes and it's the sixth straight year you've come through for us with flying colors. I'll take pictures on Tuesday and you'll see how happy those men are with their new clothes.

But the real reason I brought this up today comes in the form of an e-mail I received on Wednesday. Yes, it's just one e-mail. But it's representative of the community at #DMD and the corporate partners we've assembled here. I always say, "These are GOOD people who are supporting Drew's Morning Dish." And I know that because I know THEM. I know Frank Schilling (Royal Farms), Shawn Shannon (Unison), Joe Orlando (Orlando Products), Frank Locke (Chase Fitzgerald), Robbie Davis (Robbie's First Base), Len Callahan (CSI Bonds), Steve Pavlosky (Chick fil-A), Sydney Nusinov (Charles Nusinov and Sons), Craig Creamer (ABC Rental Center of Rosedale), Jim Biggar (Summit Financial), Bill Bolander (Jerry's Toyota), Joe Ciletti (Wine Merchant), Matt Crow (Harpoon), Chris Saffer (Saffer Plumbing), Dave Smearman (Palmisano's), Greg Marsh (Marsh Insurance), Vic Biscoe, Dean Johnson and Devon Gallagher (Primary Residential) and Luis and Mary Jo Villafania (Advanced Heating and Cooling). Those men and women are business owners -- right out front -- who are available when you stop in their place of business. I know them all and consider them all friends. Here's the best part -- by your connection to #DMD, they're YOUR friends, too.

Here's the e-mail I received:

Drew,

I just wanted to pass along something that I experienced recently along with a note of thanks. I had been banking with the Susquehanna Bank for several years until a few weeks ago. They were one of the last local banks around and I enjoyed banking there. I knew the tellers and many of the managers by name. They knew my name too.

As a huge fan of what you do at Drew’s Morning Dish, I often thought about switching to SECU, one of your long time advertisers. I was a listener to your radio show and remember they were on the air there as an advertiser and liked the fact that they followed you over to your new enterprise. I thought that showed great loyalty from them. I didn’t switch to SECU for two reasons though. Reason one – Because I was treated wonderfully at my bank, why fix it if it ain’t broke? Reason two – Even though I was sure that your bank, SECU, was a great as you said, I just didn’t believe that SECU could be better than my bank.

Then it happened. An enormous national banking group bought Susquehanna Bank. I gave them a chance. I stopped in last week to make a minor change to my account. In the past, I would have to wait for five minutes to speak to someone. The last day I banked there I was still sitting in the lobby forty five minutes after I had arrived. To pass the time I struck up a conversation with the women in line ahead of me. Like me, she was a long time customer. She was there to roll over a Jumbo IRA, worth $100,000. She said, while still in line for almost one hour, she decided that she was going to cash it out and put it in another bank.

As soon as she said that, I made my decision. I told the lady in front of me that I know of a great bank, and told her everything that you ever said about SECU. Then, determined not to wait any longer to close out my account, I got out of line and into my car and drove to SECU in Towson off of Joppa Rd. I walked in and a gentleman named Isaiah Smith asked if he could help me. I told him, “Drew Forrester sent me here to open an account.” Fifteen minutes later, I had a new checking account and savings account. Isaiah explained to me the differences between a credit union and a regular bank. He set me up for online banking, made sure I could use it from my phone, and handed me my new ATM card, and then made sure that I had his phone number if I had any problems.

Then Isaiah took me over to Mrs. Pat’s office. She set up my business account, was able to answer every questions I asked, and made sure that I had everything that I wanted. Mrs. Pat had me set up and out the door, back to work in fifteen more minutes.

Drew, you are right. SECU is the best bank in town. I only have two regrets, one, that I have to go back to my old bank and wait in line for God only knows how long to close out my accounts. Two, that I did not make the switch to SECU years ago, like you said. I’ll be banking at SECU until I die or I run out of money. Sincerely, Randy

My friends at SECU gained a new customer this week and SECU gained another "voice" in the community for the outstanding work they do. I brag about them every chance I get and now someone else will be out there bragging about them, too. We also have someone in our community (name withheld in case his wife is a #DMD reader) who stopped at Charles Nusinov and Sons jewelers on Thursday to buy jewelry for a holiday gift. One of our #DMD readers recently contacted Saffer Plumbing about a plumbing job and was thoroughly satisfied with their work. Primary Residential Mortgage has done work with our #DMD readers, too. I suspect every #DMD partner has felt some sort of impact from their partnership with us, but it's always good to get e-mails like the one I received from Randy above.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and reading that (if you did). I like to share good stories and I thought that was a good one. As a reward, there's a new Podcast for you below! Thanks for being a part of our community and thanks for your continued patronage of this venture of mine and the corporate partners who make it all go.


a new "3140" podcast is here, with football, orioles and the greatest band to ever come out of canada


#DMD 3140 Podcast
December 18, 2015
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gimme three questions,
gimme three questions, baby...

Wasn't that the name of an old Lynyrd Skynyrd song? Oh, right, that was "Gimme three steps". Anyway, three questions is back and you know how it works. You e-mail me a question and I answer it for you. It's pretty simple. Here goes:

Phil asks: Drew, any truth to the rumor that was posted on DCRTV that you and Glenn Clark are going to be doing a show together on 105.7 in the near future?

DF: "Glenn and I shared a laugh about this at our event at Glory Days Grill last night. No, it's not true. I'd love to work with Glenn again -- OK, maybe "love" is too strong, ha ha -- but a radio show at 105.7 is NOT in the works or part of the plan. I received several e-mails when that rumor was posted earlier this week so I even sent in a statement of sorts to the guy who runs DCRTV and asked him to post it so I could personally refute it. I know the drill...sometimes when you refute a rumor it's thought you're simply trying to put it to rest temporarily, but I refuted it because it's not true and I didn't want any of the good people I know at 105.7 in any way worried that this was happening behind their back, which is what happens in radio. Long after I was fired at my former place of employment I found out the station actually told sponsors of my departure weeks in advance of it happening. Radio and the people who run it can be cold, mean people. The ax falls without warning. But, no, I'm not going to 105.7 to work with Glenn Clark and I wanted to make sure the people at 105.7 knew that, too."

Jason asks: In keeping with the theme of the Ravens 20 year anniversary and to shine some light on this season what would be your All Ravens Team?

DF: "Wow, interesting question! And I'm going to do this next week, maybe on Tuesday. I'll put my entire starting 22 up for everyone's dissection and evaluation. But, so I can give some sort of an answer here, now. Flacco would be my QB, Jamal Lewis would be the running back and one of the wide receivers would be Derrick Mason. The other 19 will come next week! Great question."

Cheryl asks: If the Orioles sign Chris Davis will they raise ticket prices and by how much?

DF: Another good question! I don't know the full answer, obviously, because I don't work for the club, but I'd almost guarantee that ticket prices would go up (why haven't they announced their prices and distributed season ticket info yet? It's almost January...) and my GUESS is they'd go up between 5% and 7.5% across the board. Just a hunch. "You all wanted Chris Davis...well, you have to help us pay for him, too." That's what they'll wind up saying."


today’s #dmd guest contributor: matt hamilton

In late November, I publicized an announcement that #DMD was looking to hire another writer and a sales-marketing professional as we begin our 2016 planning. Twenty-one people sent in their information and asked to be considered for the writing position, so I thought one way to help sort through them would be to actually SEE their work, here, live. So, I've been posting the writings of some of the candidates here over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so as they come in. Today's piece is from Matt Hamilton.

It’s an exciting time of the year, I have to admit. Not just because Christmas is around the corner and I’m at least five-deep in Hallmark original Christmas movies, but because we’re in the peak of the MLB free agent frenzy.

Usually I watch the high-profile players slowly work their way to our rivals and the mid-tier to low-tier free agents to the Orioles. I’ve accepted that we simply don’t have the payroll, or refuse to use it, to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs of the world. That’s OK.

This free-agent period has been different, though. One of our own, Chris Davis, is out there as a high-profile player. And get this, we’re one of the teams offering nine digits. Watching the Orioles negotiate with Scott Boras and Co. got me thinking: this isn’t the Orioles of old. Then I heard this from Dan Connolly: “O's have a two year offer out to LH hitting Hyun-soo Kim. He certainly fits an Orioles need: plate discipline.” This really does have the makings of a unique offseason.

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In need of a lead-off hitter and guys who know how to get on base, the O's have landed hot-hitting Korean outfielder Hyun-soo Kim.

Plate discipline? That hasn’t been part of the Orioles’ formula for success, minus Nick Markakis, for some time. Heck, they finished 20th in batting average last season. And just this past Wednesday night, we signed Kim. What could it mean for this Orioles roster? Much of what we’ve heard out of the Orioles fan base this month is that we can’t do without Chris Davis’ power. “We need more power in this lineup!” “What will we do without his home runs?” I’ll give fans some credit. It’s extremely hard to replace the league leader in home runs. We found that out last season when we tried to fill the Nelson Cruz hole with Delmon Young, Travis Snider, Alejandro De Aza and a few more failures.

However, let’s just take some time to think about this “power” that some suggest the Orioles need. In Davis’ two best seasons (53 HRs in 2013 and 47 HRs in 2015), the Orioles didn’t make the playoffs. In his worst with the Orioles (.190 average with 26 HRs), they made it to the ALCS while he watched. Remember who swept us in that ALCS? The eventual 2015 World Series champion Kansas City Royals. In the past two seasons, the Orioles have hit 428 home runs to Kansas City’s 234. Yet, the Royals have made two straight World Series appearances. This tells me two things: the Orioles don’t need MORE home runs and the Royals CAN win a World Series title without hitting for power. So why is this deal important? Kim fits what I think is the Orioles second-biggest need (first being an ace, which we know we can’t get)

Let me run through his stats in the Korean Baseball Organization:

Kim began playing professionally at 18, and by 20, he led the league with a .347 batting average. He also was fourth in runs (83), first in doubles (34), fifth in RBI (89), first in OBP and fourth in slugging. He took the Olympics by storm in 2008, batting .370 for the gold medal South Korean team. The guy just hits. Last season, his power numbers increased, which isn’t even part of his game. He hit for a .326/.438/.541 clip with 28 home runs, 103 runs, 121 RBI and a career-high 101 walks.

If these numbers translate equally to the MLB, he’d have more home runs than Adam Jones, an average that would rank fourth in the league and more walks and a higher OBP than Mike Trout. Obviously, Korean League competition is not comparable to the MLB, but even if these numbers dropped, he could still lead the team in average and OBP.

Here’s the even more exciting aspect of the deal with Kim: he costs $7 million over two seasons. Davis’ $154 million offer would strap the Orioles financially, putting the emphasis in the wrong place. Maybe Kim will make an immediate impact. Maybe it will take some time. However, like I hear often during this time of year: “It’s the thought that counts.”

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have getting on base in their heads. We can’t have Manny Machado leading off forever. He belongs in the middle of the lineup. If the Orioles don’t get Chris Davis and his hefty contract, all is not lost. For the price they’d have to pay for Davis, they can afford Kim, more power and another on-base option (and pitching for that matter) in the outfield/first base market.

Guys like Austin Jackson, Denard Span, David Murphy, Justin Morneau and even Gerardo Parra pair with Kim for a nice platoon in an outfield spot. Then you have Yoenis Cespedes (who could get close to Davis money), Marlon Byrd and Justin Upton (again slightly more affordable) for power. There are even players that can hit for power and average that could come cheaper than Davis. Think Dexter Fowler (albeit not best BA last season) and possibly Alex Gordon.

I know Orioles fans may be scared at the idea of filling a large hole with lesser players, but I don’t believe they need 200+ home runs to be successful. We need players on base for Machado/Jones/Wieters and whoever else the team decides to sign. Maybe Hyun-Soo Kim is the guy. Maybe it’s a combination of different free agents. But I think the Orioles have a chance to be a better team using the money they offered Davis.

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

Matchweek 17 of the Barclays Premier League kicks off with one of the biggest clubs in the world with an unexpected or possibly overdue change at the top and a matchup of potential title contenders that could go a long way in determining who lifts the league trophy come the end of May. Tune in live to catch all of the action on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, Dec. 19 (all times eastern)

10am – Sunderland @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

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They don't take losing well at Chelsea. Six months after leading Chelsea to the EPL title, Jose Mourinho is gone.

While it has been clear now for a number of weeks that defending league champions Chelsea would not be putting up much of a title defense this season, no one expected them to be just a single point above the relegation zone almost halfway through the current campaign. The Blues, who have now lost five out of their last seven following their 2-1 defeat to current league leaders Leicester City on Monday, will welcome fellow relegation candidates Sunderland to Stamford Bridge on Saturday and they will do so with a new manager at the helm following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho.

Following a dominating tenure that filled the Chelsea trophy case with another Premier League title and a run of ninety nine consecutive home games without a loss, Mourinho had clearly lost the locker room and losses in four of their last seven at Stamford Bridge was enough to force the Chelsea board and owner Roman Abramovich to do what only months ago would have been unthinkable and move on from the Portuguese manager without one final chance to save his job against a Sunderland side whom Chelsea have won eighteen of their last twenty one against (W18 L2 D1).

10am – Leicester City @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Live Extra

The dream season continued for Leicester City as they dispatched defending champions Chelsea 2-1 on Monday Night Football to once again take over the top spot in the league. With Manchester City and Arsenal just behind them in the league table and squaring off this weekend, the Foxes will look to extend their lead over two of the league’s biggest sides when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton, who will still be smarting from their draw with Norwich City, their fourth draw in the last five, in a game in which they squandered three points despite dominating from start to finish.

Leicester are unbeaten in their last eleven away league matches, winning seven during that run, but have struggled against Everton as of late, with only one win in their last eighteen league meeting with the Toffees (W1 D13 L4) and none in the last eleven (W0 D9 L2). Everton will hope to keep their run of recent success against the Foxes alive, having failed to lose to a side in the bottom half of the league so far this season (W5 D4) but failing to replicate the same form against teams in the top four of the league with losses already this season to Arsenal, Manchester City, and Manchester United.

Monday, Dec. 21 (all times eastern)

3pm – Manchester City @ Arsenal – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

The stars will be out on Monday Night Football when Manchester City travels to the Etihad Stadium to take on Arsenal in what is not only the marquee matchup of Matchweek 17, but also one of the biggest and most anticipated matches of the entire season. Both teams entered the current campaign as perennial title favorites and, unlike Chelsea, so far neither has disappointed as each side has spent the entire season at the top of the table or within the top four, with Arsenal currently in second place and City only a single point behind in third.

Arsenal have lost only one of their last eighteen league home matches against Manchester City (W11 D6 L1), who are without a win in their last four away fixtures, failing to score in the last three. City looks set to have striker Sergio Aguero back in the fold as the Argentinian international should make his return following a four match absence with a heel injury while Arsenal star man Alexis Sanchez will face a late fitness test to prove his health to manager Arsene Wenger has he tries to recover from a hamstring injury that has cost him the Gunners last three matches.

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our caps-flyers bus trip is now on sale!!

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

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Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 10 seats thus far. Thirty seats remain on the trip.

Thursday
December 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 17

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arenas is screwed up...mostly because of the mixed message

I've followed the NBA so little this last decade or so that I honestly had to go to Wikipedia yesterday to see if Gilbert Arenas still plays in the league. That's the truth. Oh, sure, I'm completely over-the-top nutso about the Golden State Warriors and we have a full bus going to D.C. on February 3rd to see Steph Curry and the Warriors play, but as for the rest of the NBA, I'm lost. I know LeBron plays in Cleveland and Kobe's calling it quits at the end of the year and the owner in Dallas is on some TV show that gives venture capital to start-up businesses. And I think Philadelphia (glory for this!) is like 1-24 to start the season.

But I know nothing at all about Gilbert Arenas these days.

It turns out that Arenas is retired now. He was a good player in his day and at one point strung together enough solid seasons to earn a $66 million contract with the Wizards. So, unless he figured out a way to squander all of that (and he might have...), he's rich. And, apparently, bored.

Arenas started a firestorm on Wednesday when he posted a series of social media messages that initially were aimed at the women who play in the WNBA. I'll spare you the video that accompanied the first Arenas messages on Instagram, but as you read below, just picture a handful of attractive, young women playing basketball in revealing black athletic/swim-wear. A video of such accompanied what you see below:

gilbertpettyarenas - NOW this is what america was hoping for when they announced the #WNBA back in 1996... not a bunch of chicks running around looking like cast members from #orangeisthenewblack...dont get me wrong, they have few #cutiepies but theres a whole alotta #beanpies running around hahahahahaha if #skylardiggins came out like this, I dont care if she missed every layup..imma buy season tickets and I dont even know where the f**k #tulsa is hahahaha #2016newwnbaoutfitPLS and if u think this is sexist,9 times out of 10 u the ugly one and we didnt pay to come see u play anyway #donkeykong ...smdh #thiswillbeawesome #soldouteverywhere

Wait, it gets better.

Instagram has since removed the follow-up message Arenas posted after fielding negative reaction for a couple of hours, but he picked an interesting scenario the second time around when he posted a message featuring women playing in the Lingerie Football League.

There, he has a point. But we'll get back to that.

Reaction to the first post was predictably one-part outrage and one-part arenas-is-an-idiot. Several former and current WNBA posted their own social media messages, including perhaps my personal favorite female athlete, Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne), the former University of Delaware star who is now in Chicago and one of the WNBA's best players. Her tweet:

Women were not put on this earth just for men to look at. We are people. We have a purpose. We are role models. I am an athlete first and foremost. #ByeGilbert

"Well done, Elena" -- and necessary, too -- most around the country said on Wednesday. There were other similar expressions from female athletes on Wednesday. They want to be recognized for their skills and contributions on the court and their work in whatever community they play for and represent. As they should be.

So, while Arenas went overboard in his initial Instagram message, there's a sub-story in there that gives what he said enough merit for everyone in sports -- league officials, marketing folks and individual team management personnel -- to consider what it is they're promoting every time a whistle blows and a game begins -- somewhere.

Arenas tried to separate attractive WNBA players (#cutiepies) from those who might be considered less attractive (#beanpies). That was wrong. Regardless of looks, figure or their overall appearance, skill level and the ability to play basketball has always been the primary way an athletic female reaches the WNBA. It's a highly-skilled women's basketball league. You can look great all you want, but if you can't play basketball at a high-level, you're not getting in the league. Arenas wasn't suggesting to stop letting "less attractive" women in the league, mind you, but he was pointing out that if Skylar Diggins (I have no idea who she is, so I looked her up) wore revealing athletic/swim-wear when she played in the WNBA, he'd buy season tickets.

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So, for kicks, I went to Google Images and looked for photos on Skylar Diggins. Below are two that popped up in the first couple of rows of pictures. One is apparently her "team headshot" and the other is a photo of her appearing in the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition in 2014.

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Sklyar Diggins in her basketball gear.
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Sklyar Diggins as she appeared in S.I. in 2014.


I'm not criticizing Diggins at all for her obvious personal decision to market not only her basketball skills, but her looks as well. No one put a gun to her head to force her to pose for those S.I. bathing suit pictures. She did it to capitalize on her looks and her body and many before her have done the same thing and many after her will, as well. Whether or not that makes her "eligible" to be objectified, fawned over and spotlighted more for her looks than for her basketball is a personal opinion, but it's obvious Diggins is attempting to gain notoriety for both. And there's no blame there. It's just the way it is.

Now, Arenas should be smart enough to know that the REAL reason you'd buy season tickets to see Skylar Diggins is because she's an outstanding basketball player. How she's dressed shouldn't really impact his decision to buy tickets. If you're a fan of high quality basketball, you're buying a WNBA ticket to go see those women play the game -- on the court. Does it help if one or more players on either team you're about to watch are attractive? Certainly not, in the same way there are likely female NBA fans over the years who made it a point to go see Rick Fox when the Lakers came to town in the early 2000's. But on the whole, men are typically not buying WNBA players "just for the look".

Arenas contends he'd buy season tickets if Skylar Diggins came dressed in next-to-nothing, and maybe HE would, but would the rest of us? Would you? I can say with absolute 100% certainty if Elene Delle Donne dressed scantily for her WNBA games that it wouldn't make me at all interested in going to see her play. I went to see her play, by the way, both at Towson (as a visiting player) and Delaware during her college career when she was fully dressed in a real basketball uniform. I don't attend WNBA games -- or NBA games -- simply because it's just not on my "hot list" of things to do these days. It has nothing to do with what the women wear -- or wouldn't be wearing.

But -- that brings us to the other part of Wednesday's round of volleys fired off by Arenas. Smartly, he brought up the women's professional football league that has their players dress in lingerie while they're playing. I've never seen a game live (I think Baltimore had a team once -- or twice?) and have zero interest in seeing one live, no matter what the team attire might be. No offense, but in the same way I'm not interested in watching two people play a "live" chess match, I'm simply not interested in watching professional women's football. And I don't care what they wear.

But why DO they wear that stuff when they play? Why not dress those women in traditional football clothes like the NFL and College players wear? Do I need to give the answer to that? I don't think I do. Attendance in the league has ranged from woeful (200 per-game) to plentiful (6,000), but on the whole, there are far more empty seats than filled seats in virtually every city, according to a quick look at on-line data. What the women wear on the field hasn't been nearly enough of a driving force to get people to go to the games. Yet, it's very fair to ask what the crowds might be if, in fact, the women playing in that league wore actual football uniforms instead of lingerie. Simple logic tells us the crowds wouldn't be as "high" as they are now...some percentage of those attending are doing so simply for the cosmetic appeal the women provide to the fan base.

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Let's also face THIS reality. Nearly every TV ad you see during a sporting event somehow connects the viewer with either a female or a sexually provocative theme that is designed to weld together the company's ad you're watching with some sort of heightened experience in your mind. The next time you see an advertisement for a beer commercial and it features a female, you'll notice she looks a lot more like an ex-college cheerleader than a 42-year old mother of three who is starting to show the normal wear and tear that we all start to display in our 40's. I'm not telling you anything new and I'm certainly not breaking any news when I reiterate that companies everywhere, in every city, are trying to use the female body and the general theme of "sexy" to sell their product(s). And that goes for men appearing in commercials, too. They're almost always right out of GQ Magazine. When's the last time you (or me) were asked to appear in a nationally televised car commercial? Right...

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The Lingerie Football League is selling good looks first, and football second. They can say they aren't, but they are. Hats off to the WNBA for NOT making it the central theme of their league, but I'm sure league execs were quite thrilled to have Diggins appear in the S.I. Swimsuit Issue a couple of years ago. "We've arrived," they probably said behind closed doors. "Our product is sexy now..." Maybe. That might be right. But is anyone coming to the games because of it? I doubt it. And that's where Arenas was off-the-mark on Wednesday. Again, HE might buy season tickets to see Skylar Diggins in a swimsuit playing basketball in Tulsa, but would 4,000 extra people show up out there 20 times a year to watch her play? I just don't think so.

This whole firestorm could be a positive, though. It might engage those running female-based sports leagues to take a hard look at how they market their product and how they attempt to make the athletes themselves more "attractive" to the community, but not attractive as in good-looking-attractive, but attractive as in we-want-you-to-pay-to-watch-her-play-attractive. The dirty little secret, of course, is that the theories espoused by Arenas on Wednesday are shared by MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of men across the country, yet I don't think any of them would go to the games if WNBA players suddenly started dressing in lingerie. And, even if they did, would the 10,000 people who go to the games now continue to go or would they turn in their tickets and say, "I'm not going if that's the way the women are going to dress"?

It's hard to be over-the-top angry with Arenas when he has the Lingerie Football League to fall back on as one of his main argument points. There's a reason why the league powers-that-be have those women dress like that. And, let's be fair here, the women in the league are OK with it or they wouldn't be playing. Unlike Elene Delle Donne, who wants to be recognized first and foremost as an athlete, it's my guess the women in the Lingerie Football League are perfectly fine being recognized as a woman who plays in a football league where the players wear underwear and a bra and not much more. Everyone has to make a living.

Arenas made his living playing basketball in a legitimate uniform. So, too, does Elene Delle Donne. What she wears or doesn't wear has no bearing at all on whether she's worth watching at an arena near you this winter. As the girls in the Lingerie Football League continue to show, the action on the field has to be worth the price of admission or people aren't going to take it seriously.

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tonight is our final winter apparel "collection event"

Our fourth and final winter-apparel-collection event takes place tonight, Thursday, December 17, at Glory Days Grill in Towson. I'll be there from 5-7 pm to collect coats, sweaters, jackets, gloves, etc. Literally any gently used clothing will be accepted. I also hear a rumor about a guy named Glenn Clark showing up tonight as well. Yep, Batman and Robin, back together again. We're going to be taking all of the clothing we've collected this month to Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore next Tuesday, December 22nd. Over 400 men live at the facility and all of them will be there over the holidays, so your clothing goes a long way in brightening up their days ahead.

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In addition to serving as the title sponsor of this year's Winter-Apparel Drive, Jerry's Toyota-Scion on Belair Road helped us collect over 500 pieces of apparel on December 7!

We now have well over 1,500 total items take to Helping Up next week. We've had three collection events thus far; at Glory Days on November 30, at Jerry's Toyota-Scion on December 7 and at Charles Nusinov and Sons on December 14. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated items thus far!

Anyone donating five or more items on tonight at Glory Days in Towson receives two free UMBC basketball tickets, and a free appetizer coupon from our friends at Glory Days.

Please come out tonight, December 17 from 5-7 pm and say "hi" -- and donate your gently used coats, jackets, sweatshirts, shoes, hats, etc. Anything that keeps someone warm in the winter, we'll take. And we promise to put it to good use!


our caps-flyers bus trip is now on sale!!

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 9 seats thus far. 31 seats remain on the trip.


for the adam jones fan in your family!

Robbie's First Base, a #DMD partner since our inception in August of 2014, has a building full of GREAT sports memorabilia items. I should know. I'm in there often, looking for things that I can use for the various events and dinners I'm involved in both personally and through my duties at Calvert Hall.

X
Complete with his autograph and "certificate of authenticity", this makes a great holiday gift for that Orioles fan in your family.

The photo on your right is of an actual piece that's in Robbie's First Base right now. You can literally walk in the store this morning and pick it up. It's one of their marquee items featuring All-Star Adam Jones, with an official game jersey, photo and his autograph on the shirt itself. There aren't many like it available around town, so if you're a collector or someone who likes "one-of-a-kind" items, this is perfect for you.

For pricing and pick-up details, call Robbie Davis Jr. today at Robbie's First Base: 410-560-3200. Tell him you saw it here at #DMD!



Wednesday
December 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XVII
Issue 16

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in at least one way...be glad you're not chris davis

Imagine this scenario for a minute and put yourself in the middle of it all.

You're in sales, working for the Peart Mop Company in Baltimore. You sell lots and lots of mops over a 3-year period. You're doing well. You could always be doing better, naturally, but you're doing well. You decide one day the time is right to speak with the boss about a pay increase. He says, "Let me check out the numbers and get back to you."

One month passes. You don't hear from him. You're feeling a little bit neglected. A friend of yours call you one afternoon. He's a VP for the Lee Mop Company in Pittsburgh. You've been friends and competitors for a long time. "Hey, Bob Snagglefoot just retired over here," he explains. "We're looking for someone to take over his territory." The VP goes on to routinely explain the salary, benefits and other compensation opportunities at the Lee Mop Company. It's roughly 30% better than what you're currently getting at the Peart Mop Company.

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Imagine if you will...you sell mops for a living.

Word somehow leaks out that you're sniffing around for a new job, which perks the interest of the VP at the Lifeson Mop Company in Chicago. He reaches out to you, surprisingly, and says, "I don't know what they're paying you at Peart and I have no idea what they offered you at Lee, but we'll match the best offer and then upgrade it by 25% if you'll come to work for us here at Lifeson."

You're running the numbers quickly as the Lifeson VP speaks on the other end of the phone about the position. At present, you're making $75,000 selling mops, plus another $20,000 in bonuses/commissions, etc. It's hard work, and there's lots of travel, but it's a good living. The Lee offer was for $98,000 a year, plus a better commission structure that could net you $130,000 by year's end. This new offer, from Lifeson, is for $122,500 plus all the other goodies. You're making $75,000 now and you could be making $122,500 tomorrow.

You go home and tell your wife the great news. All those years of hard work have paid off. Someone has finally come through with the big bucks you not only need, but deserve. This, to you, is a no-brainer of a move.

Your wife doesn't see it that way. "I like it here, the kids like it here, this is where we live," she explains. "The cost of living in Chicago is higher than in Baltimore. It costs more to park your car at the airport. We have to move. Houses are more expensive. What if you don't like it? What if we don't like it?"

Those were all things you never really thought of, but they're all true. It's not the "no brainer" move you first considered it to be. The next day -- either by accident or because he's heard some rumblings that his number one mop salesman might be looking around for a new gig -- your boss at Peart calls with the "good news". They're going to give you a 10% pay increase, effective with the start of the New Year, bringing your salary up to $82,500. You quickly note to yourself that's still about $15,000 less than the Lee offer and exactly $40,000 lower than what Lifeson offered you. But you're happy that Peart came through with something and you tell your boss you need to run it past your wife and you'll get back to him tomorrow. He quickly says, "Tell you what, just make it $85,000. You've been a great employee here. Tell your wife we're giving you $85,000 and upping your commission percentage from 7% to 9%, too."

"Thanks so much," you reply. "I love it here at Peart. Let me just make sure she's OK with it all and I'll stop in your office first thing tomorrow to wrap everything up."

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You're five minutes into your ride home when the phone rings. You don't recognize the number, but you're in sales, so you answer it.

"Hey Ralph, this is Wally Tomlinstinks, how are you? I work for NUMS, the National Union of Mop Sales. You remember us, right? You joined back in 2008. We're the ones who got you your full pay when that crate of mops fell on you two years ago and you had to miss three months of work. We represent you and all the other mop sales people in the country."

Wally goes on to explain that he knows all about the "big offer" Lifeson made to you yesterday. "You'd be the highest paid mop salesman in the whole country if our records are correct," he says. "And we keep awfully good records here at NUMS."

That's nice, you say to him, but you're staying at Peart. They've given you a raise and you like it in Baltimore and you're perfectly content to stay there and work for them. You know there's more money at Lee and Lifeson, but you're staying with Peart, you explain.

"Well, Ralph, that's a noble gesture on your part," Wally says. "But it doesn't really work that way. You're going to have to take that job in Chicago, my friend. You see, that's how it works these days in the mop selling business. We're a union. We work hard today so the next guy gets a better job tomorrow. You don't know Phil Battle, but he had your job at Peart back in 2000. He was at Lifeson for 13 years, making $45,000 at one point, and Peart came along and offered him $65,000 and he took it. The reason Peart paid you $75,000 and has now offered you $85,000 is because of people like Phil Battle. He understood how it all works. And now you've benefited from that."

"I'm not leaving Peart," you say. "They've been very good to me. We love Baltimore. I know the other offers are better, but they're treating me great at Peart."

Wally starts to get more firm, now. "No, Ralph, you ARE leaving. You don't really have a choice. I mean, you DO have a choice, but you won't like the fall-out and the repercussions if you don't take Lifeson's $122,500 offer. You're taking that job. And then, someday, when you're long gone and a guy at Lifeson gets offered $150,000, you will have completed your full duty to the union and the mop sales industry like others have done for you. Start looking at houses in Chicago, pal. And buy a bunch of heavy coats, too.

Wally...is Chris Davis. The mop companies...are baseball teams.

Chris Davis wants to stay in Baltimore. He likes it here. The Orioles -- and more specifically Buck Showalter -- have done more for his career than his previous employer (Texas) did. He appreciates that. Whether or not you believe the Orioles offered Davis $154 million or not is irrelevant at this point. They offered something to re-sign in Baltimore, perhaps as much as $100 million over 5 years. He'd be going from $12 million a year to $20 million a year if those numbers were true. That's a fair, legit pay raise and Davis himself knows that.

But the Player's Association won't let Davis take a deal like that. I mean, he COULD take it, but he and his agent would get crucified by the union if they allowed that to happen. Davis, by thrusting himself into the dirty, greedy world of baseball free agency, has essentially surrendered his right to "free movement". He's free to sign anywhere, sure...but that "anywhere" has to be for the biggest, best, craziest deal he can find. He can't just use the system to get more money from Baltimore and then take that deal without regard for the other, better offers that have come his way. It just doesn't work that way.

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I guess this is what Scott Boras looks like when the Orioles call and say, "We can only offer Chris Davis $23 million a year."

So, if Chris Davis made that call to Scott Boras and said, "Let's just take the Baltimore deal," Boras would say in reply. "We can't do that. Detroit (example) has already offered us $177 million. I'm trying to get you $23 million more from the White Sox and we're going to sign there." Davis might explain to Boras at that point that he doesn't really want to go to Chicago and Boras would then lay the law of the land down on Davis.

"Miguel Cabrera hates cold weather. He didn't really want to stay in Detroit four years ago. But they gave him $30 million a year for ten years and he had to take it. He did that for you, Chris. So, someday, you'd get your $25 million a year like you're about to get."

Chris Davis is a free agent, yes, but he can't just sign wherever he wants, no matter what our traditional thoughts of the term "free agent" might be. He has to go to the highest bidder now. Some of that is his fault, of course. He hired Scott Boras, and this is what you ALWAYS get when you're aligned with Boras. It becomes a circus of sorts. He had the chance to re-sign with the Orioles back in 2014 and didn't do it, instead opting for the free agency route. Now, he can't just take the Orioles "paltry offer" of (supposedly) $154 million unless no other team, anywhere, is willing to go above and beyond those numbers.

Chris Davis is a free agent -- but not really. His agent, directly connected with the mandates of the The Player's Association, dictates what deal he takes and what deal he doesn't take.

That's what's wrong with baseball.

It might be better to just be a mop salesman. At least you're not owned by a bunch of guys in New York City who don't have the same restrictions you have but take no issue at all with telling you where you're going to live for the next seven years.

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today’s #dmd guest contributor: mike herman

In late November, I publicized an announcement that #DMD was looking to hire another writer and a sales-marketing professional as we begin our 2016 planning. Twenty-one people sent in their information and asked to be considered for the writing position, so I thought one way to help sort through them would be to actually SEE their work, here, live. So, I've been posting the writings of some of the candidates here over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so as they come in. Today's piece is from Mike Herman.

Random thoughts on sports, and life, for a two-minute read…

I know that the subject of paying college football players touches a real nerve, but my own opinion has evolved on the subject. The argument that “but they get a full free ride to a great college, and a free education” just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Players in the top programs don’t get an education, they get railroaded into a watered down curriculum, are abused by a tyrannical training and practice schedule, and discarded without a thought after their eligibility is all used up. To see a buffoon such as Lee Corso make millions clowning it up each Saturday, while the star running back can’t afford to order a delivery pizza to eat while watching his own highlights on the same network paying Corso, well, it’s a glaring example that the system is rotten.

A game plan that calls for the second string quarterback to throw 46 times to win a ball game, against a team with a 30TH ranked run defense, is a losing game plan. This, of course, happened to the Ravens in Miami a couple of weeks back. Add in the fact the second string quarterback is on a streak for throwing pick six’s, and it’s a losing game plan absent common sense. The players deserve better than to have to struggle to win while being handicapped by coaching ineptitude. Please, spare me the refs robbed us argument, throw 46 times with that quarterbacks talent level, and receiving corps, and you are going to lose the game.

From the "I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’ department"; Have you seen an interview, or photo of James Harrison lately, the former Raven, long-time Pittsburgh Steeler? His head size is getting very “Barry Bonds” in appearance. Do they have reporters in that locker room? Is there no sports writer that wanders in there, sees the man in person, and doesn’t question this?

There are two NFLs today. Six to eight teams that have a quality quarterback that can play the game well, week-in and week-out. And the rest of the league that has little chance to even get to the playoffs, much less go deep in them. If I woke up in early September with a Ryan Tannehill or Tyrod Taylor as my starting quarterback for the year, I think I’d take up golf, fishing, boating; find a new hobby.

Cranky old curmudgeon time; I lived over forty years before I began hearing waiters use the phrase “panko breaded”. I lived over fifty years before hearing about “quinoa” with every meal. Oatmeal was a basic staple that didn’t need to be enhanced by being “steel cut”. My kids asked me this week if I wanted an “Acai bowl” for breakfast. No. No I do not.

If I was the GM in Cleveland I’d have Johnny Manziel sit down for a long lunch with Ryan Leaf, Maurice Clarett, and Matt Leinart, for a discussion on “wasted potential”. It may not help Manziel, he appears to be extremely immature, but I think he’s at a crossroads where he could either resurrect a career in football, or join Ryan Leaf as one of the top draft busts in history. If I were “Johnny Football” I wouldn’t want my name associated with Ryan Leaf.

Sports stat that appears to only impress me; in 1927 Baltimore’s own Babe Ruth hit sixty home runs. No other team in the league, no total roster, hit sixty combined. Has there ever been a domination of one’s peers so overwhelming in sports? No roster of twenty-five men could accomplish what Ruth did alone. It completely boggles my little mind that one man could so dominate his own contemporaries.

Two teams I wouldn’t want to face in the playoffs are Seattle and Pittsburgh. As bad as they’ve looked in some individual games this year they have the players and coaching to be a formidable opponent on that “any given Sunday”. Kansas City may be making a run, but I’ve seen the Andy Reid show in the playoffs, his decisions don’t really give a team that edge you need to go all the way.

It’s time for a positive column on Tiger Woods and his dominance of the game during his prime. There was a time when he was winning 1 out of every 4 tournaments he entered. Which is just astounding in an individual sport. I think that’s been lost of late and it’s been all bad news on Tiger in the mainstream media. It’s time for a more balanced perspective on his career. He is singlehandedly responsible for increasing tournament payouts tremendously and the tenor of the articles I read on him do not reflect any appreciation for that. Side note; his new restaurant in Jupiter is fantastic.

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tomorrow is our final winter apparel "collection event"

Our fourth and final winter-apparel-collection event takes place tomorrow night, Thursday, December 17, at Glory Days Grill in Towson. I'll be there from 5-7 pm to collect coats, sweaters, jackets, gloves, etc. Literally any gently used clothing will be accepted. We're going to be taking all of the clothing we've collected this month to Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore next Tuesday, December 22nd. Over 400 men live at the facility and all of them will be there over the holidays, so your clothing goes a long way in brightening up their days ahead.

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In addition to serving as the title sponsor of this year's Winter-Apparel Drive, Jerry's Toyota-Scion on Belair Road helped us collect over 500 pieces of apparel on December 7!

We now have well over 1,500 total items take to Helping Up next week. We've had three collection events thus far; at Glory Days on November 30, at Jerry's Toyota-Scion on December 7 and at Charles Nusinov and Sons on December 14. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated items thus far!

Anyone donating five or more items on Thursday at Glory Days in Towson receives two free UMBC basketball tickets, and a free appetizer coupon from our friends at Glory Days.

Please come out tomorrow, December 17 from 5-7 pm and say "hi" -- and donate your gently used coats, jackets, sweatshirts, shoes, hats, etc. Anything that keeps someone warm in the winter, we'll take. And we promise to put it to good use!


our caps-flyers bus trip is now on sale!!

A number of people reached out to me over the last couple of weeks (ever since #DMD launched the Golden State vs. Wizards bus trip) and asked me to put together a bus trip to see the Capitals play.

X
Giroux vs. Ovechkin on January 27. Join #DMD for our Caps bus trip and see it in person!

Well...it's happening. And who better to see the Caps bury than the worst franchise in all of sports -- the Philadelphia Flyers. So, we're heading to DC on Wednesday, January 27 to see the Caps host the Flyers at 8:00 pm.

Here's what you get as part of our trip: Round-trip bus transportation from the Towson area, a pre-game "Happy Hour" at Glory Days in Towson, dinner on the bus ride to DC from Chick fil-A at Nottingham Square, snacks and drinks on the ride to DC, plus a LOWER LEVEL TICKET to the Caps-Flyers game. The per-person cost is $175, with a $75 deposit due at the time of your reservation and the remaining $100 due no later than Jan. 15, 2016.

If you're interested in getting seats on the Caps-Flyers bus, e-mail me today: 18inarow at gmail.com

As is our custom, we're only taking 40 people on the bus. We've sold 9 seats thus far. 31 seats remain on the trip.


for the adam jones fan in your family!

Robbie's First Base, a #DMD partner since our inception in August of 2014, has a building full of GREAT sports memorabilia items. I should know. I'm in there often, looking for things that I can use for the various events and dinners I'm involved in both personally and through my duties at Calvert Hall.

X
Complete with his autograph and "certificate of authenticity", this makes a great holiday gift for that Orioles fan in your family.

The photo on your right is of an actual piece that's in Robbie's First Base right now. You can literally walk in the store this morning and pick it up. It's one of their marquee items featuring All-Star Adam Jones, with an official game jersey, photo and his autograph on the shirt itself. There aren't many like it available around town, so if you're a collector or someone who likes "one-of-a-kind" items, this is perfect for you.

For pricing and pick-up details, call Robbie Davis Jr. today at Robbie's First Base: 410-560-3200. Tell him you saw it here at #DMD!


RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.