Thursday
September 15th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 15
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so, just who is the orioles’ mvp in 2016?


This is always good discussion for a place like this, since just about anyone who follows the Orioles will have an opinion on it.

Some of your opinions might actually be solid.

Before we delve into the topic at hand, let me apologize for the tardiness in delivering this morning’s edition of #DMD.

I’ve never been late for a tee time and don’t like being late here, either, but I was always in control of my pre-tournament schedule and warm-up session. I have found over the last three years that I’m not necessarily in total control of the computer that helps me produce #DMD every morning.

This morning, my computer was rendered about as useless as the Boston bats last night at Fenway Park.

So, we’ve gone to Plan B and here’s your Morning Dish, albeit 45 or so minutes later than I would have liked you to have it.

Is it too late to nominate Kevin Gausman for O’s MVP this season?

I ask that in jest, of course, but over the last four weeks, he’s been the team’s best pitcher…at a time when they desperately needed him – or someone – to step up and become a shutdown force on the mound. Don’t forget, Gausman’s emergence came right around the time Chris Tillman went on the disabled list, which made it even more important that the former #1 pick turned his season around.

Ubaldo Jimenez has been much better of late, too, but he hasn’t shut out the Red Sox in Boston, 1-0, like Gausman did last night. Eight innings of spectacular work against perhaps MLB’s best offensive team – what more can you ask for, right?

Alas, Gausman is NOT a candidate for the team’s MVP award in 2016, but one pitcher is and we’ll get to him momentarily.

Below, you’ll see our #DMD Poll for today. We’d love for you to participate today and tomorrow and we’ll have the results ready for publication in the Saturday morning edition of Drew’s Morning Dish.

I can make a case for a few of those listed below, for sure.

Adam Jones, to me – and Jones might like this reference to Reggie Jackson – is the “straw that stirs the drink” for the Orioles.

This isn’t about which guy on the team is the “best baseball player”. It’s about which guy on the team is the most “valuable” player. Any team can win a handful of games or go 8-7 while a guy is on the disabled list.

But could the Orioles win 90 games if, for example, Jones missed the club’s final 120 games with a knee injury?

I don’t think they could.

Granted, the same could be same about the team’s fortunes without the likes of Machado, Trumbo, Davis and Britton. But there’s something about Jones that makes him more unique than those other four, in my opinion.

I’m not saying I’d vote for Jones. I’m saying he most certainly deserves consideration based on the season he’s having. And, as we know, he’s done a lot of that while injured this season.

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His batting average isn't great, granted, but Chris Davis has continued to supply the Orioles with a lot of home runs and great, Gold Glove-caliber defense in 2016. Could he be the team's MVP this season?

Chris Davis strikes out more times in a week than you make right turns on red over the same 7-day period, but he’s also a home run threat every time he’s at the plate and his defensive work is as good as any first baseman in the game, period.

He’s not a great hitter, obviously. There’s perhaps even an argument he’s not a “good” hitter. But he can power the ball out of the park with the best of them and his eye at the plate gets him on base once a night because opposing pitchers are leery of giving up a 400 foot home run to him.

If I were making a case for Davis as the team’s MVP, I’d point directly to his defense more than anything else. I have no way of telling you how many runs he’s saved the team this year, but it’s easily in double digits at this point.

J.J. better buy Davis a Rolex at the end of the season…just sayin’.

Manny Machado is at third what Davis is at first, obviously, and his bat works a lot better than Davis’. Machado has quickly blossomed into one of the game’s best overall players. Yes, Trout is really good. So, too, is Bryce Harper, although he’s having a season to forget in 2016.

There are others in baseball who fit that bill of “best young player in the game”, but Machado’s name is now firmly in that discussion for sure.

I think it’s safe to say the Orioles wouldn’t be on the verge of winning the A.L. East if not for Machado’s outrageous 2016 season. I think there’s certainly a possibility he gets thrown into the A.L. MVP race as well. He’s been that good.

Who saw this coming from Mark Trumbo? Yeah, sure you did. None of us did, including nearly every other Major League GM who passed on Trumbo last winter when the Mariners wanted to give him away for some airline tickets and gift cards.

Trumbo’s 2016 campaign will make him a lot of money in 2017 and beyond, but it also might propel the Orioles to the World Series next month. As we saw last night in Boston, he can change the game – or win it – with one swing of the bat.

Defensively? Not that good. “Adequate”, I suppose, would be a fair term for him, which is why he’s essentially now the team’s full-time DH.

But at the plate, he’s a beast, and not just a power-hitting beast, either. He’s a better overall hitter than Davis, for sure, and there’s little doubt he’s been critically important to the O’s in 2016. It would be very easy to make him the team’s MVP.

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A closer as the team's MVP? Maybe. After all, how much better than "perfect" can Zach Britton be in 2016?

And then, of course, there’s Zach Britton, who last night continued his perfect season with his 43rd save in 43 attempts in the 1-0 win over Boston.

Our own Brien Jackson has made a very strong and presentable case for Britton to win the A.L. Cy Young Award in 2016, which, to me, means he’s also a candidate for the team’s MVP honor.

You can do this exercise with a number of players, but if the Orioles wind up winning the A.L. East by, say, two games, and Britton finishes the season going 51-for-51 in save opportunities, that’s undoubtedly “MVP stuff” from the left-handed closer.

Over the years, baseball junkies have debated the value of closers, but there’s no debating how good Britton has been in 2016.

He hasn’t been “good”. He’s been “perfect”.

So far…

I’ll tell you who I’m voting for in tomorrow’s edition of #DMD.

In the meantime, please participate in today’s Poll below and tell us who YOU think should be the team’s MVP in 2016.

Oh, and please don’t give me the “there’s still 17 games left in the season” garbage as a reason for not participating. We’re not REALLY voting. Your selection isn’t going to actually influence the team’s choice.

We’re just having fun.

What, you’d rather break down how the Ravens are going to pound the Browns 38-13 this Sunday in Cleveland?

Right, me neither. That’s why I’m voting and you should too.

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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loyola stuns #1 ranked calvert hall
with late game-winner

Arch-rivals Calvert Hall and Loyola renewed their soccer rivalry on the pitch at Blakefield Wednesday and the sixth-ranked Dons stunned the top-ranked Cardinals with a pair of late goals, including the game-winner by Ben Gallagher, with just 29 seconds left, to produce a 2-1 MIAA A Conference victory.

Calvert Hall had the better of play for most of the afternoon, but could not capitalize on its opportunities, as the sides played a scoreless first half and remained in a stalemate until the 66th minute.

Calvert Hall (4-1, 4-1) broke the ice, but not the Dons’ spirit, when Zack Urbanski headed home a goal early in the second half after the ball had been cleared and then flicked back in to the penalty area by a CHC player.

Loyola responded with the tying goal with 4½ minutes left, after Andre Bearzi was taken down by a Calvert Hall player on his way to goal. Marcei Desormeaux stepped up and scored on a wonderfully placed free kick from from 20 yards out, which found its way into the upper right corner of the net.

The Dons (2-2, 2-2) then claimed the victory with 29 seconds left when Alex Reed flicked the ball to Gallagher at the far post and he poked it into the goal to set off a big celebration.

Chris Karpovich had eight huge saves in the Loyola goal and Kyle Cooper had four saves for Calvert Hall.

Both teams will be back in action on Friday as Loyola travels to John Carroll (4:00 p.m.) and Calvert Hall returns home to host No. 2 Archbishop Curley (7:00 p.m.) in the annual Rief Alumni Cup battle between the Friars and Cardinals.

Tickets for Friday night’s Curley-Calvert Hall game will be available at Russo Stadium beginning at 6:00 p.m.

This contribution to #DMD was provided by Varsity Sports Network, the area leader in high-school sports coverage. To learn more about Varsity Sports Network, visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com.

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who wants to go with #dmd to see notre dame host duke on sept. 24?


Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play football?

Is it a bucket list trip for you?

X
You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 a.m., plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m.).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1:00 p.m.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You cannot transfer the trip to someone else! If it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round-trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville; ground transportation; one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!


get your seats now for our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 14 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.


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Wednesday
September 14th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 14
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if taking a knee is the issue, i know how to make kaepernick stand up


The story you’re about to read is true.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Or, in this case, the guilty.

Before we get to the story, though, let’s quickly re-establish what’s happening currently in the world of sports.

Colin Kaepernick is still taking a knee when the national anthem is played.

He has at least one teammate joining in now.

There will be others, I’m sure, who decide to do the same thing.

The merits of Kaepernick’s protest are still being discussed even to this day, despite the fact that the now-back-up quarterback for the 49’ers has gone out of his way to show some true conviction to his belief that “things” need to change.

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#DMD provides a solution this morning for Colin Kaepernick's recent decision to take a knee and not stand while the National Anthem is played.

He met with law officials, donated some of his own money and, for the most part, has gone out of his way to show this is all more than a guy just grandstanding for the sake of grandstanding.

I’m still not of the belief that Kaepernick’s public stance is acceptable given that it’s occurring at his place of employment, but that’s a story and a debate for another day.

But I do think I know how to stop him from taking a knee during the national anthem, if that’s what we’re worried about – as a country.

In the mid 1990’s, I was running the local indoor soccer team in town, at that time known as the Baltimore Spirit.

Early in one of those seasons, a newcomer to the team wore a hat to the airport as the team departed for a road trip. This was a violation of our club rules. The head coach didn’t have many rules, but “no hats allowed” was one of them.

Our team captain approached me during a layover on the departing flight.

”Hey, look, some of the guys are asking if (“Mr. Smith”) is going to be wearing that hat on every road trip?” he asked. “They’re miffed.”

I knew it was going to be brought up at some point.

”I’ll talk to him,” I said. “He probably didn’t read the club rules.”

A couple of days later when we were flying back to Baltimore, I approached Mr. Smith and ushered him away from the group so we could have a quick, private chat.

”So, the club rules don’t permit anyone to wear hats when we travel,” I said. “I’m sure you didn’t know that. So, just do me a favor and don’t wear it on the next trip.”

There wasn’t much follow-up discussion, if I recall. He mumbled something, gave a nasty stare at the direction of the guys who were sitting around playing cards and getting ready to board the flight, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

The following weekend, we had another road trip.

Mr. Smith showed up at the airport -- wearing a hat, again.

I didn’t say anything at first. Frankly, I was a little surprised at his open defiance, and figured it was best to let it simmer a bit before I brought up the issue with him.

It didn’t take long for the team captain to approach me.

”I guess we can all wear hats now, huh?” he said in a tone that definitely showed his displeasure..

No, I explained, the rules hadn’t been changed. Hats were still not allowed on flights.

”Well, how long are you going to let him break the rules like this?” the captain asked me.

”I’m on it, OK? I’m handling it. Let’s just go win a soccer game,” I half-snapped as we walked through the airport.

Now I was starting to get agitated. I had one player openly breaking the team rules and I had another player who was rightfully angry about it but was holding ME accountable for getting it corrected.

”Hey, come on now,” I said to Mr . Smith when I saw him a few minutes later. “I told you about the hat. You’re not allowed to wear hats on the road.”

Smith immediately shot back: ”I read the club rules. It says my first violation is a warning and the second violation is a twenty five dollar fine. Third violation is a one hundred dollar fine. Fourth violation is a suspension,” Smith explained.

His attitude bothered me. It was as if he knew I didn’t really feel like pursuing this issue but had to do it anyway. I felt like he was intentionally trying to put me in a bad position with the rest of the team.

”Well, I warned you last week,” I said. “So, today, it’s a twenty five dollar fine.”

”No problem, you do what you have to do. I think that’s crap, but you do what you think is fair,” Smith replied.

”What’s fair is for you to obey the club rules that the rest of the team obeys,” I said to him as I walked off.

I reported back to the team captain that Mr. Smith was being fined for his second violation of the club rules.

”Yeah, I’m sure he’s getting fined,” the captain replied sarcastically. “This guy’s a joke.”

Now, I had the captain of the team questioning whether or not I was actually enforcing the club rules. And I had a guy on the team directly violating those rules.

I was beyond angry with the whole situation.

A couple of weeks later, Mr. Smith again wore a hat to the airport as we headed off for a road game.

That was it. Forget the fine…forget the discipline. I was bound and determined to figure out a way to get Mr. Smith to respect the club rules like every other player on the team.

I spent a significant amount of time thinking the whole thing over and trying to come up with a way to get Mr. Smith – who was an important player on the team, by the way – to fall in line.

Finally, it hit me.

When we returned home from the road trip, I called my assistant into the office.

”We’re making a change in the club rules,” I said to her. “I need you to type up a new clause on a separate sheet of paper and include a place for me to sign it and each player to sign it so they acknowledge they’ve received it.”

Later that day, I took the new clause with me to practice and distributed it to all the players and asked them to sign it on the bottom of the page.

It read: Effective immediately, all players are required to wear hats on all road trips, whether the team travels by bus or airplane. Any player failing to wear a hat is subject to a $25 fine per-violation.

A couple of the veteran players gave me a playful pat on the back or a sly grin once they realized what I had done.

A week later, the team met at BWI Airport to board a flight to St. Louis.

Mr. Smith? He showed up at the airport. But he wasn’t wearing a hat.

It took me about six weeks, but I finally won. Mr. Smith obeyed the club rules. Sort of.

My guess about the 49’ers? All they have to do is mandate that every player on the game day roster this Sunday take a knee prior to the game when the national anthem is played.

If they demand all of their players take a knee, I’m fairly certain you’d see Mr. Kaepernick standing up during the national anthem.

There are lots of ways to skin a cat…

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drew's views on the
baltimore orioles

Covering the Orioles throughout the season is an important part of #DMD's service, so who better to take on the assignment than #DMD's founder? DREW FORRESTER will tell you why the Birds won or lost, who was responsible, and what to look for in upcoming games. It's brought to you by our friends at KELLY, the area's expert in all aspects of payroll service.


homers pace birds to big win at fenway


You saw that headline above -- Homers pace birds to big win at Fenway -- and said to yourself, "What? Jim Hunter, Rick Dempsey and Mike Bordick all played for the Orioles on Tuesday night in Boston?"

Yeah, the headline was a bit misleading.

I'm talking home RUNS, folks, three of 'em, in fact, as the Birds secured another one of those "big" wins with a 6-3 victory over the division leading Red Sox last night.

J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold homered in the second inning as the O's scored five times, then held on from there, getting terrific bullpen work from a host of relief pitchers to climb to within two games of the division lead.

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A more-than-acceptable start from Dylan Bundy on Tuesday night helped the Birds turn back the Red Sox, 6-3 at Fenway Park. Bundy improved to 9-5 on the season with the victory.

Toronto was a 6-2 home loser to the Rays while the Tigers got pounded by the Twins, 8-1. That draws the O's even with the Blue Jays for the top spot in the A.L. Wild Card and puts two full games between the Birds and Tigers. The Yankees are also two games back in the wild card race after a 3-0 win.

Dylan Bundy got the start for the O's and while he wasn't "great", he was certainly tons better than Wade Miley was on Monday night in that 12-2 thrashing at Fenway. Bundy allowed 10 base runners in just 5.1 innings of work and walked four Red Sox hitters, but when he needed to battle his way out of jams in the 2nd and 5th innings, he was able to do it and get out relatively unscathed.

In the 6th, 7th and 8th innings -- with the score 5-3 -- the Red Sox were able to get a base-runner and bring the tying run to the plate, but Tommy Hunter, Donnie Hart, Brad Brach and Zach Britton were all able to induce big outs.

Jonathan Schoop's 9th inning home run gave the Birds a 6-3 advantage and Britton threw a perfect 9th inning for his 42nd save of the season.

It's Kevin Gausman and Rick Porcello tonight in the series finale, and then the O's return to Camden Yards for three series' (Tampa Bay, Boston and Arizona) to end the home portion of their 2016 schedule.

This one, tonight, is as big as they get. A win and the Birds climb to within one game of the division lead with 17 games remaining in the season. A loss puts them three back. There's a big difference between the two when you're trying to make up ground with two weeks left in the season.

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here's why rickie fowler makes sense for the u.s. ryder cup team


Yesterday here at #DMD, our friend George McDonnell made a compelling argument against the selection of Rickie Fowler to the U.S. Ryder Cup team by team captain Davis Love III.

Not only was it compelling, but it was funny, interesting and well reasoned.

Sort of like this commentary you're about to read here that tells you why Fowler's addition to the team makes sense.

OK, let's first start with this. I wrote a few weeks ago that my advice to Love III as he was preparing to make his captain's picks was simple: Get. Younger.

And, by "younger", I was talking more about experience than I was age, per se.

X
Making his third Ryder Cup appearance, Rickie Fowler has been a hot button topic in the world of golf this week after he was added to the team by captain Davis Love III despite not having a tournament in 2016.

I felt -- and still do -- that veteran players who have been there done, done that and got the tee shirt might not be as excited and "privileged" to play in the Ryder Cup as a guy who hasn't played in the event before.

I realize it's a high-pressure competition and lots of players say "it's the most nervous I've ever felt" and, thus, might not be a great environment for a "rookie". I call shenanigans on that notion.

Nervous? Sure, EVERY player will be a tick nervous on that Friday morning when they tee it up for the first time. But they won't be so nervous that they can't play.

So there it is. My advice to Love III was to "get younger". Had I been blessed with making the three picks this past Monday, I would have added Justin Thomas, J.B. Holmes and Daniel Berger. With that fourth pick that Love III gets in two weeks, I likely would have added Matt Kuchar, but I still have a couple of weeks to figure that out.

All that said -- Rickie Fowler makes sense as a pick for one reason. Well, two reasons, actually.

First, he's one helluva player.

Is he as good as Dustin Johnson or Jordan Spieth? Nope. But that's not to say he can't beat them on any given Thursday or, perhaps, even in a tournament or two along the way.

Has Fowler won as much as those two over the last couple of years? Not hardly. Then again, neither have any of the other guys on the team, either.

Fowler MIGHT be overrated, yes, but so, too, might Zach Johnson and Brooks Koepka fit that definition. It can be argued that those two players -- each made the team via the automatic qualification process -- are basically more like "point collectors" rather than hot-as-a-firecracker golfing wizards. Johnson, of course, won the British Open in the summer of 2015, which all but secured his spot on the team, then labored through a mostly forgettable 2016.

Here's why Fowler was chosen, though, and why it's not a bad thing to add him to the team.

The Ryder Cup is a team event, mostly. There are five events played over three days and four of them are "two-man" competitions on Friday and Saturday, with only the Sunday singles matches forcing a player to play his own ball all the way through 18 holes of golf.

It's not easy to pair golfers together in two-man team competitions.

I've played in probably 100 or more amateur two-man events in my modest amateur golf career and I can say, for certain, some of those pairings turned out to be glorious and some, unfortunately, didn't work out so well.

Some of those pairings that didn't work out so well had nothing at all to do with our respective personal and golfing personalities. Some of them had to do with the way we each played golf, treated certain shots and, mainly, viewed the "best way to get the ball in the hole".

And a few of the really good pairings just "clicked" because we both had the same general philosophy and attitude about the way to approach the next shot at hand.

Fowler was added to the team because his personality meshes well with those in the locker room who will be his U.S. teammates at the end of this month.

It's as much about the rest of the guys on the team as it is, say, specifically about Fowler.

A number of the guys on the roster clearly pressed Love III to add him, much like I assume they also pressured the captain to strongly consider adding Matt Kuchar, which he did on Monday as well.

Kuchar is a lot like Fowler, actually, just 15 years older. He's a highly skilled and accomplished player who has won a bunch of tournaments and made gobs of money, but he hasn't yet captured a major title. Ironically, both Fowler and Kuchar boast a victory in The Players as their biggest victory ever...golf's so-called "5th Major".

I don't believe Fowler's addition to the team had anything at all to do with sponsors, corporate alignment or anything "business related". None of those sponsors can be worn on his Ryder Cup clothing anyway, and corporate sponsors of all players must "buy their way in" to the Ryder Cup the same way they do on the PGA Tour.

I think Love III added Fowler to the team because he's a solid player who gets along well with a handful of the other eight (now eleven) guys on the team who might need to be his partner in either the better ball or alternate shot competition on Friday or Saturday.

The pressure will be on Fowler and the other captain's picks to perform, that's for sure, but all four of them are more than capable of steadying themselves for the nerve-wracking three days of golf at Hazeltine CC in three weeks.

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who wants to go with #dmd to see notre dame host duke on sept. 24?


Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play college football?

Is it a bucket list trip for you?

X
You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30, plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6am to 9am).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1 pm.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You can not transfer the trip to someone else and if it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville, ground transportation, one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 pm on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!


Tuesday
September 13th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 13
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


the best six and the worst six


I put zero value in those silly power rankings that every mainstream sports website does these days.

I mean, really? How can you tell the difference between the 21st best team and the 24th best team after they’ve each played one game?

So, I see those rankings after week one of the NFL season and I laugh.

Which brings me to – the first-ever edition of the #DMD “Best Six and Worst Six”.

I refuse to call them “power rankings”.

Instead, each Tuesday here at #DMD, I’ll give you the top six teams and the worst six teams in the NFL.

That leaves the other 20 teams in the league somewhere in the middle.

But all we really care about are the BEST six and the WORST six, right?

Sure, it smells a little bit like "everyone else is doing it, so why don't we?", but you have to feed the monster, right? I know you're curious about my power ran -- oops, almost said it. I know you're curious about my thoughts on the best and worst teams of the league, so every week I'll produce them here for you.

Without further adieu, let’s start off with the worst six this week and work our way to the top.

#27 – Atlanta Falcons -- At some point, they’re going to figure out in Atlanta that Matt Ryan is a bum. Right? A home loss to Tampa Bay to start the season doesn’t bode well for them. Here comes a 6-10 season.

X
After Philip Rivers staked the Chargers to a 21-3 halftime lead on Sunday, the San Diego defense melted in the final 30 minutes. And Rivers' head blew off in the locker room afterwards.

#28 – San Diego Chargers -- Up 21-3, laughing and giggling on the sidelines, only to lose, 33-27 in OT at Kansas City. Philip Rivers will battle every Sunday, but he can’t play defense. Chargers won’t win six this year.

#29 – Los Angeles Rams -- A 28-0 blasting last night by the 49'ers gets them the honor of a spot on the list. How on earth does Jeff Fisher keep a job in the NFL? It's amazing.

#30 – Chicago Bears -- I have a feeling the Bears won’t be in the bottom six in a few weeks, but for now, this is where they rest. Gave the Texans a fight for 45 minutes before calling it a day.

#31 – Tennessee Titans -- The good news? They didn’t allow the Vikings to score an offensive touchdown on Sunday. The bad news? Minnesota’s defense scored more TD’s than Tennessee’s offense. They’re bad. Still.

#32 – Cleveland Browns -- No doubt about this one, right? Somehow, they get worse year after year. If they win more than four games, it would be akin to the U.S. beating the Soviet Union at Lake Placid in 1980.

And now…to the top.

#6 – Carolina Panthers - Yes, I know they lost their opener. Their field goal kicker missed a game-winning kick. Big deal. They’ll be there when the dust settles in January, that’s for sure.

#5 – Oakland Raiders -- Their defense might be shaky, but that offense is going to pile up yards and points. Beating New Orleans isn’t a monumental win like it would have been 3-5 years ago, but a win on the road – and a comeback win at that – is a great way to start the season.

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It was quite an opening night for these three on Monday in D.C., as Tomlin, Brown and Roethlisberger had a field day on that awful Redskins defense.

#4 – Cincinnati Bengals -- Another team with a come-from-behind win on the road to start the season. If Dalton and A.J. Green both stay healthy all season, they have eight wins in hand already. Is their defense good enough? We’ll see about that.

#3 – Pittsburgh Steelers -- I guess a 38-16 dismantling of the Redskins in D.C. doesn’t have the shock value it once did, but that was a thrashing they put on Jay Gruden’s team last night. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown were in mid-season form and the Pittsburgh secondary actually looked almost representative. Oh, and when they get Le'Veon Bell back from suspension...

#2 – Green Bay Packers -- They have the best quarterback in the league, with weapons galore (as long as they stay healthy), and what appears to be an improved defense. What’s not to like about Green Bay? Gonna be tough to beat them in 2016.

#1 – New England Patriots -- Everyone was crowing about the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, but Bill Belichick and The Cleat of Reality delivered quite a message to the rest of the league on Sunday night. No Tom Brady...no Rob Gronkowski…no problem. They just keep on winning. It’s amazing.

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umm, about that wade miley signing


In the days following Wade Miley’s acquisition just before the trade deadline, O’s head honcho Dan Duquette was interviewed on one of the local radio shows and said something like, “I’ve been interested in Miley for several years now and this was finally our best chance to make that call and acquire him.”

Too bad the Mariners answered the phone six weeks ago.

Miley got the start at Fenway Park last night and was in the shower before the sun set over Boston, allowing nine base runners while recording just four outs in the Orioles 12-2 loss to the Red Sox.

There are some nights when a pitcher gets roughed up and some of it isn’t really his fault.

There are other occasions where the guy on the mound completely stinks and it’s all on him.

Last night was on Miley. He was terrible.

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Orioles killer Mookie Betts produced his 103rd and 104th RBI's last night in Boston's 12-2 pasting of the O's at Fenway Park.

And so, just as if they would have lost 3-2, the Birds dropped back into 3rd place in the American League East, as Toronto scratched out a 3-2 home win over Minnesota with an 8th inning home run proving to be the difference in that one.

The Tigers also won -- by a 4-2 score -- to climb to within a game of the O’s in the battle for the second wild card berth in the American League.

Here’s where I’d write all of the good things that happened to the Orioles on Monday night.

There wasn’t much good that happened, save for solo home runs from Chris Davis and Manny Machado that saved the O’s from a whitewashing.

How much longer can Buck Showalter go with Miley?

He’s now made eight starts with the O’s since his arrival and has managed to pitch seven innings or more a grand total of ONE time.

He’s allowed four earned runs or more in five of his eight starts.

He has one win.

And last night’s fiasco was the second time he’s failed to make it out of the second inning since joining the Birds.

He’s just not that good…but I think most of us sort of knew that when he showed up here. That’s why he was available at the deadline from a team that was still remotely in the playoff hunt at that point.

The good news for the Orioles is that Ubaldo Jimenez has apparently figured out how to pitch again, so what was an automatic loss when he took to the mound is now nothing of the sort.

Except when Miley pitches, that is.

The Birds aren’t winning any games when he’s out there.

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none dare call it reason

Let us use Davis Love’s selection of Rickie Fowler for the Ryder Cup team as a teaching moment for the next generation. Let’s use it to illustrate for them the painful and deflating reality that we ourselves have come to understand but would rather not admit. Let us prepare those kids for the world as it is, and not the reasonable and logical place we wish it to be. Let us tell them a truth that will dishearten and sadden them, but nevertheless prepare them to walk with wisdom on the earth among their fellow men:

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This image has nothing to do with the article. Honest! I just like the painting. It's called "The Card Players," painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in 1594. [Click to expand.]

Money talks and merit walks.

After yet another loss to the European team in 2014, the Ryder Cup committee re-aligned the wild-card/captain’s-pick selection process. The number of automatic qualifiers was reduced from nine to eight. The time for making the captain’s selections was extended, with the Americans making three of their 2016 selections two weeks after the European leader made all four of his picks. The final American selection is to be made two weeks after that, on September 25th, at the conclusion of the FedEx Cup Championship, and a scant five days before the Ryder Cup matches begin on the 30th.

The single purpose of the selection realignment was to allow the captain and his advisors to have more time to evaluate and select players not already on the team who were playing the best during this extended window.

On September 12 Love did in fact pick players with hot hands for the team: J. B. Holmes and Matt Kuchar. He also picked Rickie Fowler.

In 2014 Tom Watson bowed to enormous and extended pressure and made Keegan Bradley a captain’s pick. In doing so, Watson passed over, among several others, a rock-solid Chris Kirk, and a red-hot Billy Horschel, both of whom had far superior golfing records over the preceding year and over the preceding few months. Nevertheless, Bradley was a media star and because of that, a fan favorite. Above all he had many sponsors. Thus the choice was “popular.”

Join with me now in re-living the 2014 Ryder Cup. In the last-day singles matches, the highly popular [among Americans] and very emotional Bradley was matched against Jamie Donaldson, a solid but unheralded European Tour journeyman from a place called Wales. Bradley holed some good putts in the early going, and celebrated these putts with loud screams, wild gyrations and extended fist-pumps. The American fans loved it! Donaldson played on, walking and talking quietly with his caddy.

On the 15th hole, Donaldson hit a mid-iron from long-range to real-close. So real-close that Bradley, by this time down four holes, would have to hole out to extend the match. He didn’t. Jamie Donaldson’s victory clinched the Cup for the Euros, their third team-victory in a row, and eighth of the last ten matches. Donaldson doffed his cap politely, as professionals do, to acknowledge the cheers of the crowd for his 5-and-3 win.

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This image is provided for the numismatists among #DMD readers. It is a bill last printed in 1945 and officially discontinued in 1969. Technically, though, the bill is still legal tender. [Click to expand.]

Somebody tell me why on God’s green earth Rickie Fowler was selected for this team! He hasn’t won a golf tournament in over a year. [In fact he has won only thrice in seven full years on Tour.] He was cut at the Masters. True, he did have a T4 back in early May, but followed that up with missed cuts at the Players, at Arnie’s Memorial, and at the U. S. Open. He was T46 at the British Open, and T33 at the PGA Championship. He was closer to last than to first in the Olympics, and was no factor at the Wyndham.

Coming into the window where the current strength of players’ games was to be evaluated, Rickie choked away a win at the Barclays. With the 54-hole lead, he was run down by six guys and caught by two more, posting one of the highest rounds of the day. He followed that up with a lackluster T46 at the Deutsche Bank, and closed out his abbreviated run at the FedEx Cup with a miserable 59th-place finish at the BMW.

“Well,” the weak-minded will ask, “how could Davis Love not be impressed with those performances?”

I think Love was indeed impressed, not with golfing prowess, but with the more important considerations in today’s world of sports. He simply had to be impressed that a 27-year-old golfer, who maybe, at his best, is a cut above the average Tour player, could build himself a financial empire as large as Rickie’s. Love was besieged by agents and reps of Puma, Crowne Plaza Hotels, Mercedes Benz, Wheels Up, The First Tee, Rolex, Quicken Loans, Cobra Golf, Farmers Insurance, Titleist, etc., etc., begging and cajoling him to select Fowler for the team? And perhaps Love just couldn’t resist picking Fowler, thinking and hoping that some of that Rickie magic might just rub off on him.

Television golf commentators, although none will admit it, enjoy the times that golfers choke away a lead on a Sunday afternoon. They become like cable-tv reporters at a train wreck, vividly describing the carnage, displaying the victims, and heaping vituperation upon anyone they deem even remotely responsible. They pretend to sympathize with the player, but their words about him are savage. It’s sometimes hard to stomach the vitriol heaped on these poor golfers when they go from on top down the board.

That is, unless the golfer has the magic! As Rickie was choking away the lead on the back nine of the Barclays, somebody [my uneducated guess is that it was Frank Nobilo] got a text, with talking points for the announcers to use while discussing Fowler on air. The instruction said something like, “Say they want him on the Ryder Cup team because ’he’s good in the clubhouse.’ “

And sure enough, that’s just what the crew did. Instead of piling on this choker as they have done to other golfers, frequently, they prattled on to one another about how Rickie is “good in the clubhouse,” each repeating the phrase, verbatim, at least once, and proceeding from there to predicting how his mere presence would lead the U. S. team to victory.

None of them mentioned last year’s Sports Illustrated poll of PGA Tour members that had Fowler tied with Ian Poulter as the most overrated golfer on Tour, nor did they question how Rickie’s never having won a Ryder Cup match, team or singles, was supposed to inspire his ‘mates in the ‘house.

We shouldn’t discourage this next generation from beating balls on the range. They must do that to have a chance to get on tour. But we should advise them to stop cultivating that tired old I’m-a-PGA Tour Pro-and-you’re-not attitude, and instead be friendly with their pro-am partners. Call them by their first names. Be respectful. Compliment their wives. Ask for advice.

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Yet another painting with no relevance to the article. This one's also by Caravaggio, titled "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist," painted around 1608. [Click to expand.]

Cultivating influential friends is one of the elements of true success. We should also advise the young to pick out a distinctive color, and have their sponsors load them up with non-traditional apparel made in Day-Glo brightness, sufficient so that little kids can easily identify them, even at 500 yards away. When that stratagem begins to lose its allure, they can grow long hair, which will always earn a remark or three from the TV people, and in emergencies, they can grow mustaches. Commentators can wittily remark on mustaches at great length, and those remarks provide viewers a welcome respite from bland descriptions of other players’ great shots, birdies, and victories.

We should tell the next generation that top-three finishes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and that consistency is way overrated. Tell them that coolness under pressure isn’t a prerequisite, and most importantly, tell them than winning is for losers. For confirmation, they can ask these American PGA Tour members who won tournaments in 2016, all but one of whom will watch the Ryder Cup on TV: Smylie Kaufman, Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Vaughn Taylor, Tony Finau, Jim Herman, Charley Hoffman, Brian Stuard, James Hahn, William McGirt, Daniel Berger, Billy Hurley, and Ryan Moore.

This contribution to #DMD was provided by our friend George McDonnell, who always has a view that makes you stop and think...and reason...and wonder...how is one man this freakin' wise?

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who wants to go with #dmd to see notre dame host duke on sept. 24?

Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play college football?

Is it a bucket list trip for you?

X
You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30, plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6am to 9am).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1 pm.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You can not transfer the trip to someone else and if it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville, ground transportation, one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 pm on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!


Monday
September 12th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 12
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it’s time to start the “a win is a win” file for 2016


Ravens offense = stinky.

Ravens defense = really good.

Special teams = the difference in the game.

The Ravens kicked off their 2016 season on Sunday with a not-so-impressive 13-7 win over the visiting Buffalo Bills, as Justin Tucker made both of his field goal tries and Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter missed his only attempt in the third quarter that would have tied the game at 10-10.

Go ahead and say it with me, please: A win is a win.

And that’s the truth, actually, when you play just sixteen regular season games. Every time you win one, you’re that much closer to the post-season.

It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure, but it was decent enough, given that a couple of key offensive players didn’t play a down together during the pre-season and quarterback Joe Flacco hardly broke a sweat in August.

Yes, there’s a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball.

And chances are the Baltimore defense won’t be quite that stifling against the likes of the Bengals, Steelers, Patriots and Raiders.

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Ravens QB Joe Flacco made his first regular season appearance since a mid-season knee injury in 2015 and looked sharp at times and rusty at others in Baltimore's 13-7 win over Buffalo on September 11.

But the Ravens did something yesterday – win the opener – they hadn’t done since 2012, and a couple of players on the defensive side of the ball that you probably didn’t expect to stand out did just that, as Shareece Wright and Zachary Orr were spotlight grabbers on a day when the Bills generated just 176 yards of total offense.

Wright, who struggled throughout pre-season, led the team with 11 tackles and was involved in several pass break-ups in the secondary. Orr, who got his chance to shine with Elvis Dumervil out of the lineup, had a quarterback hit and six tackles himself.

The Baltimore offensive line wasn’t all that great on Sunday, allowing Joe Flacco to be sacked four times and paving the way for just 83 yards on the ground, including 41 from Justin Forsett, who ran hard all afternoon.

Flacco was good enough for a 99.9 quarterback rating, with his highlight moment coming in the second quarter when he found Mike Wallace for a 66-yard touchdown strike that gave the Ravens a 10-0 lead.

It was a tale of two halves for the Ravens quarterback.

In the opening thirty minutes, he was mobile, dodgy and willing to go deep to Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who collected his first career catch on an amazing leap and grab that had the stands buzzing and social media on fire.

In the second half, though, Flacco looked fatigued, unsure of himself and doing his best to just not make a mistake. Marc Trestman lost his play-calling nerve, too, and the result was one of the more pedestrian halves of offensive football we’ve seen from a Flacco led-team in the last few years.

The biggest play of the fourth quarter for Flacco was a gambling throw in the middle of the field on a timing play with Dennis Pitta, who turned and collected a ball in the middle of his chest for 27 yards to help set up Tucker’s final field goal and a 13-7 lead.

The Ravens got plenty of help from the Bills offense all afternoon – thankfully -- as Tyrod Taylor missed a handful of easy dump-offs out of the backfield and Rex Ryan’s use of timeouts resembled something you’d see in Pop Warner football.

Carpenter’s missed field goal from 49 yards out in the 3rd quarter was the big blow, as the Bills were on the verge of establishing a smidgen of dominance in the second half as the Baltimore offense fizzled.

Unlike last year, when the Ravens were wretched at closing out games – particularly at home – they didn’t give the Bills a chance to pull off a miracle in the late stages of Sunday’s opener.

Flacco and Company got the ball back with 4:29 to play, nursing a 6-point lead, and the Bills never again touched it on offense, despite the replay official conspiring against John Harbaugh’s team on an obvious first down that had been picked up by Justin Forsett.

When Terrance West was able to plunge forward for three yards on 3rd and 1 after that botched review, the game was done and the Ravens were 1-0.

It wasn’t pretty. But it was the way the Ravens tend to play against an inferior opponent.

And, above all else, it was a win.

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"show me the money" results from week 1


So, we're in the black to start the 2016 campaign. That's a plus, right?

I picked five NFL games plus the Ravens game in the Sunday Game Day edition of #DMD, and went 4-2 overall, plus I hit on the "Best Bet of the Day" as well.

My winners were the Texans (-5), Dolphins (+10.5), Giants (even) and Ravens (-3).

I stupidly picked the Browns to cover (and win outright) and they didn't, and I missed on the Cardinals (-7) in last night's Sunday evening thriller with the Brady-less Patriots.

My "Best Bet" was Houston beating Chicago by more than five points, which they did.

2016 totals:

Overall: 4-2

Best Bet: 1-0

Ravens against the spread: 1-0


around the nfl in thirty seconds


Green Bay 27 – Jacksonville 23 – 199 yards in the air for Rodgers and they win? Weird.

Houston 23 – Chicago 14 – The first of 12 losses for the Bears, I think.

Philadelphia 29 – Cleveland 10 – Carson Wentz was great, RGIII wasn’t. No one’s surprised.

Tampa Bay 31 – Atlanta 24 – Four TD’s from Winston; Bucs are gonna be good this year.

Minnesota 25 – Tennessee 16 -- Two defensive TD’s got the job done for the Vikings.

Cincinnati 23 – New York Jets 22 – A.J. Green had 180 yards receiving on the day. Wow...

Oakland 35 – New Orleans 34 – Gutsy call from Jack Del Rio pays off; Watch out for the Raiders.

Kansas City 33 – San Diego 27 OT – Chargers led 21-3 at the half. There goes one of their four wins.

Detroit 39 – Indianapolis 35 – Wild game. Colts need defensive help, big time.

New York Giants 20 – Dallas 19– Really should count as a loss for the Giants.

Seattle 12 – Miami 10 – Seahawks escaped with a win; Dolphins deserved better.

New England 23 - Arizona 21 - Patriots pull another rabbit out of their hat without Brady and Gronk.

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captain love makes ryder cup picks today


The Ryder Cup is less than three weeks away now, and today’s the day U.S. captain Davis Love III makes three of his four available add-on selections to the American team.

One good thing for Love III as he contemplates his captain’s picks is the fact that Dustin Johnson, who won yesterday’s BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth are all playing reasonably well in September and appear to be in good form heading into the matches against Europe.

Who will Davis Love III add today?

Well, if you believe any of the rumors that were swirling around Crooked Stick over the weekend, it seems like the picks have been in for a while, or at least three of the four, anyway.

If that’s the case, you have to wonder if J.B. Holmes gets the call or if he’ll have to play his way in as the final pick, which is made in two weeks following the Tour Championship. Holmes finished 4th in the BMW and most certainly did enough to warrant a selection, but if the three picks announced today have already been made, you have to question if Holmes is one of them.

Conventional wisdom has Love III taking Matt Kuchar today. He played well at the BMW and was a bronze medal winner at the Olympics in Rio, a testament to both his play and his ability to play for something other than money and a trophy.

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Have Bubba Watson (left) and J.B. Holmes (right), pictured here in the President's Cup, both done enough to warrant a Ryder Cup captain's pick by Davis Love III?

While Kuchar’s Ryder Cup record isn’t all that great, let’s be honest: The U.S. has won the event just twice since 1993. No one has a good record in the Ryder Cup that’s played for the American team in the last two decades.

And, just as important as his Ryder Cup pedigree is Kuchar’s relationship with those already on the team. He’s well liked, a good man in the locker room, and serves a nice compliment to a gambler like Mickelson, Reed or Dustin Johnson.

And this notion that Kuchar is just an OK player is silly. He just hasn't won a major, that's all. Neither have Sergio Garcia or Lee Westwood and they're both terrific players.

I’m OK with a Kuchar selection today and expect he’ll be one of the three picked.

Rickie Fowler hasn’t been on his game throughout the summer and won’t be playing in the Tour Championship after finishing 31st in the FedEx Cup standings (and the top 30 advance to East Lake), but he’s a huge favorite of those already on the team and Love III and his assistant captains have said publicly they’re allowing those already on the team to have a hand in who gets added today.

But can you really add a guy without a win this season who isn’t even in the Top 30 in the standings heading into the FedEx Cup finale in two weeks?

I don’t think so.

I think Love III is going to surprise some people today and add 23-year old Daniel Berger, who has a win in 2016 and hasn’t missed a cut in his last 16 TOUR events – almost six months ago.

Love has said several times recently that he’s not putting much stock in Ryder Cup experience, which bodes well for guys like Berger, Holmes and Justin Thomas.

I’m going with Berger as one of Love’s picks today.

So, who gets the final spot from Love III this morning?

I think it’s going to Bubba Watson, who finished 9th in the Ryder Cup standings and, thus, was the “odd guy out” of the automatic selections. While Bubba hasn’t played all that great of late, he’s still in the mix for the FedEx Cup title, although a lot would have to happen in his favor in order for Watson to win it.

I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Justin Thomas or J.B. Holmes get the nod today over Watson, but I think those two – along with Ryan Moore – are going to fight it out at East Lake for the 4th and final captain’s pick.

There’s also a train of thought that says waiting until the week before the Ryder Cup to add a fourth player is a dangerous gamble if, in fact, the added player is a rookie with no team event experience.

It’s hard enough to play in the Ryder Cup when you know three weeks ahead of time that you’re in the team. I’m not sure it’s favorable to pick a rookie on Sunday night, September 28, and tell him he’s playing for his country five days later.

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who wants to go with #dmd to see notre dame host duke on sept. 24?

Have you ever been to South Bend to see Notre Dame play college football?

Is it a bucket list trip for you?

X
You can win a trip for two to see a college football game at Notre Dame, courtesy of #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 radio.

Well, #DMD, Glory Days Grill and Q1370 are giving away a trip for two to join me and others on September 24 and 25 when Notre Dame hosts Duke.

That's right...the trip is in two weeks.

And you might be going!

You just need to show up at Glory Days Grill in Towson (1222 East Joppa Road) this Sunday for a Ravens Game Day viewing party, hosted by me and Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of the "Rouse And Company" morning show on Q1370 (shameless plug alert: I'm doing the sports there every day at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30, plus handling "analyst" duties on Monday morning with Steve and the gang from 6am to 9am).

We'll be giving away the trip to one lucky person who joins us this Sunday starting at 1 pm.

Please note this important detail: If you win the trip, YOU and a guest must join us. You can not transfer the trip to someone else and if it turns out you can't go, we'll pick from a list of alternates who will then go instead.

The trip to Notre Dame includes round trip airfare (leaving first thing Saturday, September 24 and returning early AM on Sunday, September 25 in time for you to see the Ravens/Jaguars game from Jacksonville, ground transportation, one night's hotel room and two game tickets for the Notre Dame/Duke game at 3:30 pm on Saturday, September 24.

We'll have more details this week, but make plans now to come out to Glory Days Grill this Sunday and join us as we give away the sports trip of a lifetime!

get your seats now for our “ravens/jets bus” on october 23


The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 14 of the 40 seats thus far, so 26 are still available.


Sunday
September 11
#DMD GAME DAY

Week 1

Volume XXVI
Issue 11
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

The Ravens and Bills kick off their respective 2016 seasons today in Baltimore, with a pair of ex-members of the Ravens organization coming to town to try and spoil opening Sunday in Charm City.

Rex Ryan (head coach) and Tyrod Taylor (quarterback) return to their old stomping grounds, although it's fair to note that Taylor was never really a factor during his time in Baltimore. He shouldn't have an axe to grind.

Ryan, of course, was by-passed during the Ravens' coaching search of 2008, as Baltimore instead went with John Harbaugh while Rex huffed and puffed off to the Meadowlands. Three AFC title game appearances and a Super Bowl trophy later, it's safe to say Ravens fans are happy with Steve Bisciotti's choice for head coach after Brian Billick was dismissed on December 31, 2007.

A quick note: For those of you not going to the stadium for the game -- or for those who have another favorite team they'd like to watch on TV today -- my friends at Glory Days Grill in Towson have an awesome Game Day celebration played today and every Sunday during the NFL season. Food and drink specials plus every game around the league on TV! They're located at 1222 East Joppa Road in Towson. And that's where I'll be next Sunday when the Ravens play in Cleveland, along with Steve Rouse and Tracy Hart of Q1370, giving away a trip to see Notre Dame and Duke on September 24th with the #DMD crew!

Today's game marks an interesting dichotomy in offensive styles from 2015, where the Bills were the top rushing team in the NFL while the Ravens were enjoying a successful season in the air until Joe Flacco's November knee injury ended his campaign. Expect both teams to try and employ similar styles this season, with Tyrod Taylor posing a dual threat as both a passer and runner. Flacco has two new weapons at his disposal in Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace, so the Ravens will have a variety of passing options this afternoon.

Here are Five Ways For The Ravens To Win this afternoon's opener vs. Buffalo.

1. Flacco throws for over 300 yards -- This is generally a telling stat for the Baltimore offense. When Flacco eclipses the 300 yard mark, there's about an 80% chance the Ravens win the game. I'll take those odds. With the two new "field stretchers" in Perriman and Wallace, expect Flacco and Company to go over the 300 yard mark today. For fun, let's call it 329 yards for the Baltimore QB.

2. Limit Shady McCoy to less than 80 yards on the ground -- Another easy way to limit what Buffalo does offensively is to try and contain running back LeSean "Shady" McCoy. Anything under 80 yards should be looked at as a successful afternoon for Dean Pees and his Baltimore defense. While the Bills do have the ability to generate running yards from other sources, keeping McCoy under wraps is critical. Home opener, fresh legs, lots of time to scheme -- all of those things work in the Ravens' favor today. McCoy finishes with 77 yards on 21 carries.

3. Don't get wrecked by Sammy Watkins -- This is the one area of concern that Pees and his staff have to be particulary aware of today, as Watkins has the ability to beat just about any cover corner in the league, including Baltimore's Jimmy Smith, who has a tendency to get down in the dumps if things don't go his way early on. On a team with a more capable quarterback, Watkins has the potential to be an elite receiver. He'll get his yards today -- 91 overall, on 9 catches -- but will only find the end zone one time.

4. Give Anthony Levine some playing time and good things happen -- Levine was one of the stars of the pre-season for the 4-0 Ravens, and he's expected to be in the secondary today on obvious passing situations. He might play more of linebacker-type role in the nickel defense, though, rather than a tried-and-true defensive back, but either way, Levine is a ball hawk who keeps his man in front of him and plays solid one-on-one coverage. We're predicting an "impact" game for Levine, with a couple of pass break-ups and a late-game defensive play that turns into a key moment.

5. Perriman shows off in his debut -- Call it beginner's luck or simply the football gods smiling down on Breshad Perriman, but the former 1st round draft pick makes his regular season NFL debut today and we're expecting him to be dressed and active. And...we see a TD in his future as well, as Flacco connects with Perriman in the 2nd quarter and the game ball gets tucked away in an equipment bag somewhere. On the day, he'll make four catches for 49 yards, including the aforementioned 11 yard TD toss from the QB.

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who has the edge?


On offense: It's a tale of two different offenses today, with the Ravens looking to spread the field and attack with the likes of wide-outs Aiken, Perriman, Wallace, Smith Sr. and the tight ends. Buffalo will likely try and establish the run, which then helps open things up for Tyrod Taylor in the passing game, because he can not only throw it, but run with it too if the opportunity presents itself. Baltimore should be able to run the ball, too, but all things being equal, Buffalo's running strength narrows the gap here. Edge on offense: Ravens

On defense: Part of the issue in Buffalo stems from Rex Ryan's arrival; he took a highly rated defensive front seven from 2014 and produced mediocre results in 2015. The Baltimore defense isn't all-world either, although there's always been a big difference between a "home" defense and "road" defense under Dean Pees. Without Dumervil in the lineup, the Ravens will likely rely on rookie draft pick Matt Judon and Za'Darius Smith to apply some pressure on Taylor and the Buffalo passing game. The key factor today? Baltimore's ability to stop the run, or limit it, at least. Edge on defense: Ravens

Special teams: The Ravens will almost never lose this category in 16 weeks of regular season play. They have one of the best five field goal kickers in the league as well as one of the top punters in the league. Week in and week out, Justin Tucker and Sam Koch make contributions that help the Ravens win games. Sometimes they're obvious, sometimes they're not. Edge on special teams: Ravens

Intangibles: Rex Ryan will have his team foaming at the mouth by the time they take the field just before 1 pm. He'll play the disrespect card with Tyrod Taylor, he'll throw out a few stories about the 9-11 attacks, and he'll convince his squad that today's game is one of those that "really good teams" win. If nothing else, Ryan has the intangibles category on his side. John Harbaugh, meanwhile, will likely treat this one just like he'll treat a game in week 4, week 8 or week 12. Harbaugh knows it's just another game. Edge on intangibles: Bills


And here's what happens...

The Ravens don't lose home openers to teams like the Bills. Bengals? Steelers? Patriots? Sure, one of those three could come to Baltimore and steal the opener, but the Buffalo Bills aren't doing it. Look for the Baltimore offense to come out firing and a first-half onslaught aided by a couple of critical Buffalo turnovers will give the Ravens a 21-7 halftime lead. That lead eventually balloons to 27-10 before the Bills close to within a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Ravens get a big third down catch from Kamar Aiken in the final two minutes and hang on from there to open the season at 1-0 with a 27-20 victory.

Ravens Player of the Game: Joe Flacco goes 19 for 34 for 329 yards and two touchdowns.

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the #dmd game-day poll


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address

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"show me the money"

Each week here at #DMD, we'll take five games, plus the Ravens game and a "Best Bet of The Day" and offer our wagering insight given the point spreads that are listed at ESPN.com.

A reminder, of course, about the dangers of gambling on sports. The only person who wins, usually, is the guy taking the bet. Proceed with caution.

Bears at Texans (-5) -- On paper, this looks too good to be true. The Texans appear to be a legitimate threat to win the AFC South and the Bears might be one of the five worst teams in the entire NFL. Nothing about this game gives any indication that the Bears can win, which typically means they'll pull off an overtime upset. I'm going with the favorite here, as Houston wins 33-17.


Browns at Eagles (-3) -- Why wait until the 2nd week of the season to make an obviously-stupid pick? That's MY philosophy, anyway. This is precisely the kind of game the Browns win. With little hope at all of being any good, the reverse-lock comes into play and Philadelphia stubs their toe on opening day and people in Cleveland start talking about how to save up for playoff tickets. It's completely against the grain of anything sensible, but the Browns cover AND win outright in RGIII's debut, 20-17.


Dolphins at Seahawks (-10.5) -- That 10.5 number got my attention, so Vegas did a nice job of setting the hook in my cheek. I think Seattle wins, 28-23, but let's take the Dolphins to cover that 10.5 number in a game they lead most of the way before Russell Wilson completes a late-game TD pass for the Seattle win.


Giants at Cowboys (Even) -- No chance Dallas wins, right? They can't. That New York offensive line isn't any great shakes, so perhaps the Cowboys keep this one close for a while, but I just can't see Dallas having enough on offense to win this one. We're taking the Giants to win here, 28-17.


Patriots at Cardinals (-7) -- Another no-brainer. There's just no way New England can go to Arizona and win, given they're without Brady AND Gronkowski. This one's over early, and the guys at NBC spend most of the second half trying to keep the nation tuned in. Arizona wins in an opening night laugher, 34-13.


Bills at Ravens (-3) -- Baltimore jumps out early, Buffalo comes back late, but the Ravens win AND cover, 27-20.


Best Bet of the Day -- Houston (-5) should beat the pulp out of Chicago, so let's take the Texans minus that five point number and get this season off to a rousing success.


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Saturday
September 10th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 10
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"rumor has it" orioles are in a real dogfight now


OK, I'm not up on my Adele songs enough to have a lot of chances for a clever pun, so I got my best one out of the way in the headline above.

Adele was aweswome on Friday night in Philadelphia, where 60 #DMD travelers took in a sold-out show courtesy of our friends at SECU.

The Orioles weren't awesome on Friday night in Detroit, losing 4-3.

OK, time for the truth serum.

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A Friday night hero: Adele

I made the trip to Philly last night but never managed to set foot in the Wells Fargo Center. And, no, it had nothing at all to do with the fact I couldn't stand to be in the building that the Philadelphia Flyers call home.

Unlike Baltimore, you see, where it's apparently forbidden to have two events play within hours of one another at the respective two outdoor stadiums -- let alone at the same time -- Friday night in Philadelphia saw Adele at the indoor arena and Bruce Springsteen across the street at the baseball stadium.

I wound up taking in a couple of hours of Bruce once I got our travelers into Wells Fargo Center for the Adele show. I literally popped over to the stadium at 7:55 pm and got in for $40 thanks to a friendly guy on the street who said his brother missed his flight from Chicago earlier in the day.

And here's the real funny part. I had no idea Springsteen was even playing there until Thursday of this week. I stumbled on to that fact by looking up the setlist from Wednesday's show in Philadelphia and saw "Next Show: September 9, Citizen's Bank Park".

So, nearly by complete accident, I took in Bruce show #26 last night in Philadelphia, on a sweltering evening that saw him once again play for close to four hours.

I didn't see the final 90 minutes of the concert, as I retreated back to the parking lot to greet our Adele-show spectactors.

But that was a whale of a night, I'll tell you.

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Also a Friday night hero: Bruce Springsteen

Reports from the folks who made the #DMD trip to see Adele were all similar in nature. The English-born singer was sensational on Friday night, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed her career. Everything she's touched has turned to gold over the last seven years.

Springsteen was his usual spectacular self as well last night, opening again with "New York City Serenade", just like he did in D.C. last Thursday night when we took a busload of Bruce fans down to Nationals Park.

I'm the biggest Bruce fan in the world, but I'm allowed a criticism or two, I think, and one of the only ones I have is that the setlist over the last few years has become a little too cookie-cutter for my taste.

But, I'm smart enough to know that the band is trying to give the audience what they want, and most of the folks would rather hear "Hungry Heart" and "Kitty's Back" (again) than, say, "Roll of the Dice", "Walk Like a Man" or "I'll Work For Your Love".

He did tear through a strong (rare) version of "I'm Going Down" from the "Born in the USA" album, plus "Candy's Room", something I haven't heard him play in a while. So there's that...

I'm also smart enough to know that last night's Orioles loss was a tough one to take.

The Birds trailed 3-0 early, tied it at 3-3 in the eighth, but Brad Brach gave up a home run in the bottom half of that inning and Detroit won the series opener, 4-3.

The O's and Tigers now have identical records (76-64) and the freakin' Yankees won again to move to within one game of Baltimore and Detroit in the wild card race.

I didn't see the game, obviously, so I can't say much about it, other than "that's a tough one to lose."

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And, sadly, one final Friday night hero: Victor Martinez, who hit the game-winning HR for the Tigers.

The good news about these September games is that on any given night, you're gaining ground on a handful of teams if you win YOUR game because everyone is playing everyone else. Last night, for example, Toronto hosted Boston (Red Sox won 13-3). The Birds were gaining ground on someone there if they could have pulled out a win over Detroit. Alas, they didn't.

We'll turn our fortunes over to Ubaldo Jimenez tonight in the Motor City. Don't laugh...he's actually been decent his last few times out. Market correction says he gets blasted tonight, but let's see what happens.

Meanwhile, Adele will be back in Philly this evening for another show, and she's heading to DC on October 10 and 11 for two more shows in the area. I'm thinking about -- key words: thinking about -- putting together a trip to DC for one of those two shows. We'll see how much sense that makes to me on Monday morning.

Our trip to Philadelphia was wildly successful thanks to a number of people: SECU, our presenting sponsor of the trip, Harpoon Beer (everyone loves that White UFO!), Chick fil-a of Nottingham Square, and Palmisano's of Baldwin, who supplied our travelers with a hearty turkey or italian cold cut sub upon arrival to the Wells Fargo Center.

And we went to Philly in style thanks to our friends at Triangle Limousine, who provided us with a limo bus for a handful of #DMD corporate partners who made the trip on Friday night.

All in all, it was a great night, except for the Orioles result, of course.

Everyone on our bus had a blast, Adele was terrific, Springsteen was equally outstanding, and no one got hurt.

Except for the Birds, that is, who really need a win tonight in Detroit after squandering that comeback last night.

Oh, and speaking of the Philadelphia Flyers, I saw a guy in the parking lot last night with a Flyers #27 "Giroux" jersey on, and he was giving everyone high fives.

He gave me one, in fact.

I said, "What are you so excited about?"

He held up a puzzle box and said, "While we were sitting here having a beer before the Adele show, I finished this puzzle in 25 minutes. And on the box it says: 3 to 6 years."

I'm here all week folks...tip your bartenders, please.

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four quarters of college football


With the 2016 college football season now full bloom, #DMD continues its coverage with a look at what's happening across the country in the game college game. This contribution was provided to #DMD by Ken Greeley, who will favor us with his insights and opinions on college football through the coming months.


First quarter: Big Bullies - One way to start your season is to pay a small football school to be your week one scrimmage. The small school wants the money to fund their athletic program. In exchange, the big bad national football school will beat the pulp out of them. Without a preseason game, it's logical for coaches to want to scrimmage another team.

The benefits are numerous: an almost guaranteed win, another evaluation of the two-deep, game experience for backups, and less injuries (hopefully) -- all while still collecting money for concessions, parking, etc. The offensive numbers put up by Baylor, Louisville, and Texas Tech, to name a few, were outrageous even though their starters basically played only the first half.

Second quarter: Big Changes – But not all mismatches are a bad thing. Take Maryland, who faced Howard at home to open its season and the D.J. Durkin era. The Terps were dealing with changes throughout its football team. Last Saturday was about seeing how everyone -- from the coaches to the players -- performed on game day. The Terps had a lot to work on and Howard was the perfect opponent. Three quarterbacks ran the offense, 9 players carried the football and 9 players caught a pass.

You can count the lay-up over Howard as a win in both the record books and team development. And the Terps continued their early season success story last night, as Maryland pounded Florida International, 41-14.

Third quarter: Big Risks - SEC schools do not often travel north (or anywhere outside the south) for out-of-conference games. LSU made an exception and played Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. Not that the locale affected their performance, but offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and quarterback Brandon Harris could not muster any offense and the Tigers were outmuscled, outgained and lost in the biggest upset of the opening weekend.

LSU was not alone as the SEC went 7-7 over the first weekend, including several losses after blown large leads and narrow victories over weak competition. Is the SEC dominance over? Alabama may be the only SEC team in the national title hunt. They risked playing a true freshman quarterback and crushed USC as Jalen Hurts could be Nick Saban’s first talented quarterback.

Fourth quarter: Big Rewards - They say everything in Texas is bigger and this weekend the big winners were three Texas schools who had something to prove. And all three did it against AP Top 20 foes. Could Houston have asked for anything better? By dominating #3 Oklahoma, the Cougars took the inside track to one of the four playoff spots and beat the pre-season favorite of the conference they are trying to join.

Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M has disappointed the fan base since Johnny Manziel left in 2013. Their win over #15 UCLA in overtime may prove he's found a defense to be competitive in the SEC West again. The best game though was a classic that you will see on the Longhorn Network for years to come. Texas outdueled #10 Notre Dame in double overtime and re-ignited the discussion of the Longhorns finally returning to their glory days under Darrell Royal and Mack Brown.

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mark your calendars for september 29 and come out for a great day of golf with me!


OK, friends, I need your help.

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Once a year, I make this plea. If you’re a golfer, and you have golfing friends, I’d love for you to join me on Thursday, September 29 for my 12th annual Charity Golf Outing at Eagle’s Nest Country Club, presented by Jerry’s Toyota.

This year’s event will benefit the great people at Best Buddies Maryland, who have a special place in my heart because the man who runs the organization, Vince Fiduccia, once worked for me in the indoor soccer business.

To learn more about Best Buddies Maryland and what they do for our community, please visit their website.

This is NOT just a “hit and giggle” charity outing like you’ve probably played a hundred times over the years.

This is a fun, legitimate four-person “Captain’s Choice" competition, with prizes in the gross and net divisions. We have a putting contest with a cash prize for the winner, plus on-course contests for closest-to-the-pin and long drive.

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Unlike most outings, who just let you buy as many mulligans as you want (and, therefore, you just keep trying to make that putt until you actually make it), everyone gets the opportunity to buy ONE mulligan before my outing and that’s it. There’s no string, no “throws” or anything like that in this event. It’s a four-person scramble, but it’s a fair, evenly played charity golf outing.

Everyone who has played the event loves it. The pace of play is great – we limit the field to just 24 foursomes – and the prizes and awards are even better.

It’s a handicapped tournament, meaning you can bring a 5, a 10, a 15 and a 20 if you want. You’ll get your shots accordingly and the competition will be fair across the board.

And we’ll be raising money for a great cause!

The entry fee for the tournament is $750, which includes four playing spots and two (2) promotional tee signs for the company or business of the designated team leader. It’s basically $150 per-player and $150 for the signs, the proceeds of which all go to Best Buddies Maryland.

The schedule for the event is: Lunch and practice range access at 11:30 am. Golf begins at 1:00 pm. Awards, prizes and dinner starts around 5:30 pm.

If you’re interested in playing in my 12th Annual Charity Golf Outing, please send me an e-mail: drew@drewsmorningdish.com -- so I can reserve your team a space in the field.

We need all the golfers we can get! I promise you this will be one of the best outings you’ll play in this year!

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Friday
September 9th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 9
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if they stay healthy, expect ravens to return to post-season in 2016


Football is back.

Next thing you know, Christmas will be here and I'll be writing about Orioles spring training.

In the meantime, though, the NFL season is officially underway with last night's 21-20 thriller in Denver, where the Broncos edged the Panthers to kick off the 2016 campaign.

The Ravens, of course, host the Buffalo Bills this Sunday in their season opener, as Rex Ryan and former Ravens back-up QB Tyrod Taylor come to town with hopes of pulling off an upset.

They'll leave disappointed. But we'll talk more about that on Sunday in our game day edition of #DMD.

This morning, I'll tell you who will win the divisions, the playoff games and, ultimately, the Super Bowl. You can take that information and do with it what you choose. You might be inclined to make a modest "investment" with one of the reputable gambling houses in Las Vegas. If you do, keep me in mind next February when you redeem your winning tickets.

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This is what Joe Flacco looked like in 2015.

Most people who do these sort of predictions like to wait until the end to focus on the Ravens and the AFC North. They like dragging out the suspense for as long as possible.

I figure you're likely to read along anyway, so, what the heck, let's start with the Ravens and their division and go from there.

The good news in the AFC North is that you only have to consider three teams, as the Browns are, as always, a non-factor. It's getting more and more funny each season to watch the Browns stumble and bumble like Charlie Brown. I keep waiting for them to go 0-16 one season. Maybe this will be it.

The Bengals were poised to perhaps make a Super Bowl run last January but just couldn't do so without Andy Dalton behind center. As long as he and A.J. Green stay healthy, Cincinnati has a puncher's chance at winning the division, but I feel like it's time for Marvin Lewis' team to take a step back and finish 8-8 this season.

Yes, I've read all the reports about how great the Steelers offense is going to be and it's hard to argue with the experts on that note. Antonio Brown is one of the league's most dangerous receivers and if running back Le'Veon Bell can stay off both the weed and the injured reserve list, Pittsburgh has a lethal combination of passing and rushing to compliment Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They'll win the division at 11-5, I'm sorry to report.

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This is what Joe Flacco will look like in 2016.

That leaves the Ravens, who have never missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons under John Harbaugh. We all know what happened last year. They got off to a horrible start, injuries wrecked them around mid-season, and it was just a lost year from jump street as the Ravens finished 5-11 and watched the post-season from the comfort of their living room.

They won't be watching from their living room this January.

I have the Ravens going 10-6 and claiming one of the AFC's two available wild card berths.

Why am I optimistic?

I like the make-up of Baltimore's offense, where Marc Trestman has a variety of options in the passing AND running game. I know it was "only" pre-season, but the three-headed monster in the backfield (West, Allen and Dixon, when he returns from injury) should be able to churn out at least 125 yards per-game. West is strong in short yardage situations and Dixon showed some explosiveness on the outside in the pre-season games.

It's a passing league, yes, but running the ball is still part of the game and the Ravens will do that well.

Joe Flacco has a couple of new weapons to toy with in the passing game, and while both Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman have question marks surrounding them, expect the quarterback to get the best out of both of them if they can stay healthy in 2016.

I'm not putting much hope in Steve Smith's successful return from an achilles injury, so anything he gives the club is icing on the cake. But, I do expect a lot from Kamar Aiken, who had a breakout season in 2015 and could become an 80-catch receiver if he's healthy all season.

The Ravens' defense won't be as productive as the Ravens' offense, but it should be good enough to get the job done.

Biggest strength? I don't think teams will run the ball all that much against Baltimore. The Ravens' front seven is solid against the run -- or should be, at least -- which means defensive coordinator Dean Pees just needs to keep the opposition from throwing for 300 yards per-game.

I'm not convinced the Baltimore secondary is all that solid. If they have a weak spot, that's it. But, if the Ravens can put pressure on the quarterback, that makes the secondary a tad better almost by accident.

I'm cautiously optimistic that the Ravens are set for a solid regular season. Their travel schedule is nothing like that brutal thing the NFL handed them last season and, let's be honest, it's highly unlikely they'll get the slew of injuries in 2016 they had in 2015.

I'm calling it, officially, a 10-6 regular season and a return to the post-season for the Ravens.

In the AFC East, I'm naturally going with the Patriots, who play in the easiest division in all of sports. I think the Jets could be decent again in 2016, but that's about it. Expect New York to be in the playoff race well into December while both the Bills and Dolphins bite and scratch just to finish .500.

I don't know what to make of the AFC South. Because it's a passing league and he has some weapons to work with, I'm going to say Andrew Luck and the Colts get back to the post-season, but don't be surprised if Jacksonville gives them a fight for the top spot in the South. Same with Houston, who have the best helmets in football, if that means anything. Oh, and it's not the Titans time to return to glory just yet, so they'll labor at the bottom of the division again.

In the West, I think anyone not named the Chargers could win the division. San Diego will be hard pressed to win five games. But the other three? All of them could be strong. I'm bullish on the Raiders this season, and the more I see what they did in the off-season, the more I'm on them as a darkhorse team in the AFC. Let's take the Chiefs to win the division, with Oakland snagging the other wild card spot in the AFC. Denver will be good because their defense is decent, but they'll miss out on the post-season.

In the NFC, I like the Redskins to win the East. Their offense is well-rounded and Kirk Cousins looks like he might have swallowed the "quality QB pill", but this season will confirm whether or not he did.

I'll take the Packers to capture the NFC North, with the Vikings and newcomer Sam Bradford doing enough to earn one of the NFC's two wild card spots.

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Cam Newton and the Panthers are #DMD's pick to win this season's Super Bowl.

It's a two-team race in the NFC South. I'll go with the Panthers to finish 11-5 and win the division, followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who return to the post-season under the productive arm (and legs) of Jameis Winston.

Everyone is buying into the Arizona Cardinals, which means they'll somehow fall short and miss the playoffs. Lots of weapons? Yes indeed. But they're still the Cardinals, and something always seems to go wrong just when you thought it wouldn't. Give me the Seahawks to win the division.

How does it all shake out in the post-season?

Carolina beats the Packers in the NFC title game to return to the Super Bowl for a second consecutive season.

And the Chiefs -- yes, the Chiefs -- beat New England in the AFC title game to get to the big game in Houston.

Super Bowl winner? Panthers 27 - Chiefs 23

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

We all know that computers, by which we mean advanced metrics, hate the Orioles, right?

They always predict them to under perform and it's more proof that Baltimore "don't get no respect". It's not really true, for the most part we think we understand why teams like the Orioles "break" most projection systems, and that's because teams with great bullpens/defense and really good managers tend to do much better than average in terms of winning close games, so projections built on the foundation of run differential will always underrate them.

It doesn't really invalidate either the projections or the team, it's just an instance where pulling off a pretty unusual feat creates "glitches" in the computer model. But still, it's fun to kvetch about these things every February/March I suppose.

Ironically though, there's one advanced metric right now that favors one Oriole in a big, big way. That's a number called Win Probability Added (WPA).

WPA is based off of win expectancy, a metric I talked about recently that calculates how likely a team is to win a particular game from any given scenario within that game, and does so by calculating the results of every other MLB game from that scenario over a given year.

So, for example, you would calculate that the win expectancy of a visiting team leading 1-0 going in to the bottom of the first inning based on the results of the past ten years at 52.36%. Or, in other words, away teams that score one run in the top of the first win the game 52.36% of the time. Again, there's no fancy math here: You're only using the computer to process raw game data too voluminous for any human to do so...at least in a timely manner.

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The stats don't lie. In fact, the stats are saying more and more that Zach Britton should be the 2016 A.L. Cy Young award winner.

Here's how WPA derives from that. Every single subsequent outcome of an at bat will change that win expectancy in one direction or another. Outs bring you closer to the end of the game, more runs for the visiting team puts the home team further in the hole, a three run home run in the bottom of the first inning rather obviously changes the game situation, etc.

WPA is the difference in a team's win expectancy after each at bat, scored for both the batter and the pitcher. So, to stick with our above example, if the leadoff batter for the home team hits a home run, tying the game at 1-1 with no one out, the home team now has a win expectancy of 59.64%. So the home team has gone from a 47.64% chance of victory (0.4764) to a 59.64% chance of victory (0.5964). The difference of these two numbers, 0.12, is that batters WPA for that at bat (and -0.12) goes to the pitcher for allowing the home run.

To calculate a full season total, you just add up a player's number for each and every individual plate appearance. Obviously, the further above 0.00 you get, the more a player added to his team's chances of winning during the season.

So, by now I'm sure you're probably a little bit bored with the tutorial and wondering what the heck any of this has to do with the Orioles in September 2016.

And the answer is: It's a very important data point in the increasingly strong Cy Young candidacy of Zach Britton. That's because, at a cumulative total of +5.2, Britton leads all MLB pitchers in WPA, and does so by a considerable margin.

Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw, and Andrew Miller all sit behind Britton at 4.2, and that full 1.0 margin is equal to the difference between those three guys and Aaron Sanchez, who's 9th (all stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, via Twitter, and current entering play Thursday night).

Now, one single stat does not a Cy Young winner make, but in Britton's case this is an extremely crucial number because the case for dismissing his claims on the award center around the notion that relievers are less valuable than starters because they pitch fewer innings. While this is generally true, it's certainly theoretically possible that relievers can be so good as to make up a substantial part of that difference, and relievers are often pitching in higher leverage situations (that is, parts in the game, usually late, where indivudal at bats will yield extremely high fluctuations in win expectancy), which makes many of those outs they're getting more "valuable" than some of those starters' innings.

And this is basically the case for Britton; he's been so good, and so crucial to his team's success, that he makes up the gap between his innings count and that of guys like Rick Porcello and Chris Sale. And WPA adds a really compelling piece of evidence to bolster that case by proving that, if we define valuable as increasing your team's chances of winning, Britton really has been the most valuable pitcher in all of baseball, and it's not really that close.

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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL

A closer look at the top teams in the English Premier League and where we think they will finish in the table by seasons ends concludes today with the focus on the city of Manchester, where both clubs look to be the class of the league this season as they prepare to meet ahead of the 172nd Manchester Derby.

Make sure you set that alarm for bright and early on Saturday morning to catch all of the action of one of the most anticipated Derby’s in history live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

7:30 am, Saturday, Sept. 10 - Manchester City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, USA/NBC Sports Network

The atmosphere at Manchester United has been anything but settled since longtime manager Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013. After David Moyes, his handpicked successor, lasted only ten months on the job, an uninspiring two year run with Louis van Gaal at the helm came to a premature end at the conclusion of last season when the Dutchmen was relieved of his duties with a year left to run on his contract, an FA Cup title and the joint best defensive record in the league last season overshadowed by a lack of Champions League football and a playing style deemed boring and unfit for United.

With thirteen league titles under their belt, the most successful club in Premier League history had to make a statement with their new hire and they did just that with the appointment of Jose Mourinho, whose win at all cost mantra has led to stops at some of the world’s biggest clubs including Porto, Chelsea (twice), Inter Milan, and Real Madrid, where he delivered eight league and two Champions League titles combined since 2002, although often wearing out his welcome shortly thereafter as we saw last season with his dismissal at Chelsea only seven months after his latest triumph.

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This doesn't quite look like a "handshake of respect" between Pep Guardiola (left) and Jose Mourinho (right), does it?

The Portuguese coach, who holds the highest winning percentage of any manager past or present in Premier League history at 66%, has set out to restore United's preference for a free-flowing, attacking style of play and looks to have done just that, with a summer spending splurge that has reunited him with the aging but still commanding Zlatan Ibrahimovic, playmaking midfielder and reigning Bundesliga player of the year Henrikh Mkhitaryan, young center back Eric Bailly who has already impressed this season, and of course smashing the world record transfer fee to bring midfielder Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford.

Mourinho, however, is not the only new guy in charge in the city of Manchester this year, and he is likely to cringe just a little bit on Saturday when he looks across the touchline to see his familiar foe Pep Guardiola standing close by, who after years of speculation finally made his long anticipated foray over to England and the Blue side of Manchester having already conquered Spain, where he departed with fourteen trophies in four seasons with Barcelona, and Germany, where he grabbed seven more pieces of silverware including four successive league titles, in his four years in charge at Bayern Munich.

The two managers have a long and increasingly rocky history, first from there time together as assistants under the legendary Dutchmen Johan Cruyff at Barcelona in the 1990’s, where they were reportedly still on good terms, and then later in their epic yearly clashes in charge at Barcelona and Real Madrid in El Clasico, which eventually lead to a souring of their relationship that has since turned bitter in the years to follow, as Guardiola has so far gotten the best of his onetime friend head to head, earning seven wins to Mourinho’s three in their previous sixteen meetings.

Despite the likelihood that the Spaniard will have all of his summer signings at his disposal this weekend for the first time all season, with Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane set at some point to see their first Premier League minutes after overcoming early season injuries, Nolito on the wing and John Stones just in front of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, it will be who is not in the starting lineup and how Guardiola decides to deal with that loss that may determine if that run of dominance will continue, with striker Sergio Aguero missing as he serves the first of a three game ban for violent conduct.

Without the diminutive Argentinian, who has the best goals-per-minute record in Premier League history, Guardiola must choose between a like for like switch and hand young striker Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored eight goals in seven starts last season, the chance to lead the line or he could also choose to dip into City’s embarrassment of midfield riches and a false nine role, with Raheem Sterling, who looks to finally have settled at City following his big money move from Liverpool last summer with at least a goal or an assist in every game so far this season, the likely candidate to takeover that duty.

While neither side will be winning the Premier League title in September, with both sides at the top of the table on nine points having won their opening three league games in the same season for only the second time in their history and looking as if they are a cut above the rest of the league, his decision could give one of the Manchester clubs a crucial three-point advantage as we make our way through the long season. It’s United vs. City, it’s Mourinho vs. Guardiola, this is the Manchester Derby!

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get your seats now for our “ravens/jets bus” on october 23


The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 12 of the 40 seats thus far, so 28 are still available.

Thursday
September 8th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 8
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


tortorella, washington women's soccer team fire back


I guess it depends on which side of the fence you're on with "Anthem-Gate", but if you're one of those who think Colin Kaepernick was out of line, you're thrilled with the lastest reaction from both hockey coach John Tortorella and the Washington Spirit women's soccer team.

Me?

Well, let's just say I already have a clean place on my wall for that Tortorella poster I just ordered.

Tortorella is the head coach of Team USA, who will be competing in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, and he made it sound pretty simple this week when talking about his side's obligation to honoring their country as the games get set to begin on September 17.

"If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game," Tortorella said.

Seems pretty direct to me.

There was, naturally, the predictable backlash from folks who cried out about robbing someone of their right to express themselves by not standing for the Star Spangled Banner.

"They have the right to not stand up for it," Tortorella countered. "And I have the right as the coach to bench them."

On Thursday night, the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League, welcomed the Seattle Reign to town, complete with U.S. National Team member Megan Rapinoe, who took a knee last Sunday prior to the national anthem as, she said, a show of support for Kaepernick.

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Professional women's soccer player Megan Rapinoe planned to take a knee during the national anthem last night but the Washington Spirit soccer team had other ideas.

Rapinoe, who is gay, said her sexual orientation has led to situations of discrimination throughout her career and wanted to bring up the point that it's not just racial inequity that needs to be addressed in the nation today.

"I think it's actually pretty disgusting the way he (Kaepernick) was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn't. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country," Rapinoe told the website American Soccer Now after Sunday's game in Chicago.

She went on to say, "Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it."

Prior to last night's game between Washington and Seattle, the Spirit not only moved up the national anthem so it would take place while the teams were still in the locker room, they admitted that it was all done intentionally to buzz-kill Rapinoe's expected attempt to "hijack" the national anthem with her refusal to stand for it.

"We decided to play the anthem in our stadium ahead of schedule rather than subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent," the Spirit said in a statement. "We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise."

Then the team threw in the word that has created a firestorm today: hijack

"To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to millions of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves," the Spirit said in the statement.

Rapinoe fired back after the game, saying to the Washington Post: "It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say I tried to hijack this event."

Some would use that word -- distasteful -- in describing what Rapinoe, Kaepernick and others have done lately with regard to their position on the national anthem.

The league's commissioner, Jeff Plush, who wasn't informed of the team's pre-game plans, had to step in and appease Rapinoe, naturally, with a soft-peddle position that made it look like he'd prefer teams like the Washington Spirit not actually think for themselves but rather just follow along and play nice.

"I would have preferred to have had an honest dialogue of what we wanted to do, what their goals were, and then work through it," Plush said. "I don't suggest I have all the answers, but it's better to talk about it. I'm disappointed."

That's code word for: "If the Washington team would have told me in advance of the stunt they were going to pull, I would have demanded they not do it. But they didn't tell me they were doing it and now I have an issue on my hands."

Well, you have an issue on your hands only if you believe it's OK for one of the players in your league to not stand for the national anthem.

After all, that's really what the entire story is about here.

I don't think there's anyone in the country who is against "freedom of expression" as it relates to addressing issues in the country that are unfair or discriminatory in nature. Those should be discussed and, hopefully, improved upon and corrected.

But should not standing for the national anthem be part of your demonstration? Is that OK? Is it acceptable?

My guess is you either think it's OK to not stand up or you think it's not OK to stand up. It's black and white, to me.

I have no problem at all saying I think it's distasteful and wrong, actually, to not stand up and show respect for the country during the national anthem.

That's my position. When the national anthem is played, you stand up.

I'm sure the Washington Spirit would rather have the Washington Post writing about their game, but playing the anthem while the teams were in the locker room and robbing Rapinoe of her grandstanding opportunity are far more juicy of a story than who won the soccer contest.

Funny enough, the main story on the women's soccer page at ESPN.com is all about the Spirit's national anthem decision and nowhere in that story, complete with quotes from everyone involved, is the final score of the game given.

You'll be happy to know, perhaps, that Washington clinched a playoff spot last night with a 2-1 win over Seattle.

And Rapinoe's brief reign (yes, pun intended) as the doer of all things fair and reasonable was put on hold for a night.

Meanwhile, Tortorella, the hockey coach, says several of his players came to him after his comments were made public on a national radio show and pledged support for his announcement that any player not standing for the anthem wouldn't play in the game.

"They understand," Tortorella said yesterday. "We're playing hockey for our country. We're proud to be doing that. We have an obligation to honor the men and women who fight for it. And that's what we'll do."

I can't wait to get that poster up on my wall...

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

When you write the story of the Baltimore Ravens franchise, one of the biggest lines of demarcation that stands out as clearly defining "eras" of the team's history is the decision to hire John Harbaugh as head coach following the 2007 season.

Making it an even bigger decision was that Harbaugh's principal competition for the job (not counting Jason Garrett, anyway) was the guy who will be leading the Buffalo Bills into town to kick off the 2016 season this Sunday: then-incumbent defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

Odds are I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but it's worth revisiting every now and then to remember how big, and shocking, a decision this was. Ryan was widely regarded as one of the league's better defensive coaches, the latest in a line of successful defensive coaches to come out of the Ravens' organization, and was extremely well liked by the team's players.

He certainly seemed like the logical choice to succeed Brian Billick, and when it was announced that a special teams coach named John Harbaugh was getting the job, my first reaction was "they didn't think they were hiring Jim Harbaugh, did they?"

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This picture probably best sums up Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a fiery competitor who loves to challenge his players to rise to greatness.

Nearly nine years later now, this all seems all so obvious in hindsight, and the divergent paths the two coaches have taken make it hard to believe the genesis of their careers as head coaches are so closely mingled. Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have enjoyed the most successful period in team history.

The few years surrounding the 2000 team may be remembered more fondly, but you simply can't find any 7-8 year stretch before Harbaugh that can make the continued success of six winning season/playoff appearances with at least one victory, three AFC Championship game appearances, and a Superbowl championship as the cherry on top.

Ryan too started out quickly, with back to back AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons with the Jets, but it's been all down hill, and quickly, from there. Ryan has yet to go back to the postseason since that AFCCG loss in Pittsburgh prior to Superbowl 43 and, combined with his penchant for over the top boasting has made him something of a laughingstock among fans and the media, generally seen as a clown whose trash-talking outstrips his ability.

Honestly, I think most of this perception has gone too far, and people don't really appreciate how good of a coach Rex is. That's understandable; he chose to play the role of loud-mouthed heel, and you're supposed to boo that guy, delight in his failures, and generally dislike him.

But a fair reading of Rex's time in New York reveals a guy who can clearly coach professional football.

His defenses in those first two seasons were legitimately very good, and he scored big playoff victories against Tom Brady and Peyton Manning mostly on their backs. The team's decline coincided with a new GM who neither worked well with his head coach nor did a good job of drafting talent in his own right, and by the end that roster was bleak. And while Ryan is often derided for being a "player's coach," with either the implication or outright claim that this directly leads to undisciplined play by him teams, even this seems to be mostly false.

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And this picture probably best sums up Rex Ryan. Or does it?

Last year's Bills were one of the most penalized teams ever, yes, but with the Jets his teams were generally around the middle of the pack in the league and, on the whole, were basically average to below average in terms of being penalized. On the other side of that coin, you can't deny that he inspires the kind of admiration and loyalty in players that makes them want to go out and play hard for him.

For the best example of this, compare the way his teams played in the last two weeks of the 2014 season, when all they had to play for was the slight possibility they might save their head coach's job, with the way the Falcons quit on Mike Smith that same year with a chance to win their division in hand.

Now that's not to say that Ryan his perfect and, frankly, his tenure with the Bills already risks becoming the sort of slef-parody that could end his career as a head coach altogether. Last year, in his first season with the team, the Bills went from being one of the league's very best defenses the year prior and fell all the way to 19th in total defense, and just 11th in sacks. That's not bad, mind you, but you'd think that a team with Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Marcell Dareus, and Ryan calling blitzes would have put much more pressure on the quarterback.

Instead they finished with just 42 sacks, with no individuals player getting more than five sacks. Williams, who had 14.5 sacks in 2014 had had hit double digits in all all of his seasons with Buffalo prior, is an especially egregious example. He wasn't happy with the amount of times he was being asked to drop into coverage in Ryan's system, and now the Pro-Bowler and best pass rusher Rex had is playing for division rival Miami after Buffalo had to cut him.

Meanwhile the penalties kept piling up at an historic pace, and Ryan often times seemed to be defending his team's mistakes. Still, I'm fairly confident in saying that I think the Ravens still would have been pretty good if they'd hired Ryan and everything else roster wise worked out more or less the same (that is, they still draft Joe Flacco).

But I don't think you can say that they'd be better than they have been under Harbaugh. That's just too high a bar to clear. Maybe you haven't liked Greg Mattison or Dean Pees. Maybe you want Harbaugh to throw a few more guys under the bus and sound a little bit more like a radio show host in his press conferences.

Almost a decade later I'm not sure we're gaining any ground still having those arguments. But ultimately you simply can't argue with success: The Ravens are among the very best in the league in terms of wins, and playoff wins under Harbaugh, and have a nice shiny Lombardi trophy to show for it.

Even if I still believe that Rex is a coach who can win a Superbowl if he finds himself the right quarterback, I'm still quite confident that Steve Bisciotti picked the right guy for the job eight years ago. And I'll bet you the Ravens win more games than the Bills this year to boot.

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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL

Our English Premier League team previews continue as we break into the top four with a closer look at the two teams that we believe will lock down the season’s final two Champions League spots. Tune in tomorrow as wrap up our team previews just ahead of the Manchester Derby.

Tottenham

After just missing out on a spot in the top four in two of the last three seasons Tottenham finally got over the hump, chasing their first league title since 1961 and challenging Leicester City to the closing stages, eventually notching their second highest point total in Premier League play (70) and their highest ever finish in the table (3rd) to earn the coveted Champions League spot, a final day drubbing against the now relegated Newcastle United taking only a little sheen off of their impressive campaign, the loss guaranteeing that Spurs would once again finish below rivals Arsenal for the 21st consecutive season.

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Can coach Mauricio Pochettino and Harry Kane team up to once again challenge for the top spot in the English Premier League?

It is somewhat hard to believe that manager Mauricio Pochettino’s appointment three years ago was highly criticized, with the Argentinian’s high pressing, counter attacking, we will outrun and outwork you style turning the North London outfit into perennial title contenders. With an offense led by golden boot winner Harry Kane (25G) and the defensive center back pairing of countrymen Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen who, along with goal keeper Hugo Lloris, combined to concede the fewest goals in the league, it is easy to see how front to back this Spurs side are built to make another run at the title.

Pochettino’s satisfaction with his current squad was evident by their lack of activity in during the summer transfer window where, despite the additional demands of Champions League football pending, they moved precisely and efficiently, with the additions of Dutch striker and the Eredivisie’s top scorer last season Vincent Janssen to provide cover and a strike partner with Kane, Victor Wanyama to shore up the defensive midfield, and Moussa Sissoko on deadline day to add to an already solid squad that will likely once again fall just short of the league trophy, but have no trouble locking down at least 4th place.


Chelsea

After the reaching the summit of the English Premier League for the fifth time only the year before, Chelsea fell back to earth quicker than any previous reigning champion before them, with their worst start to a season in over fifty years precluding a mid-table finish and officially the most inept title defense in league history. Once Jose Mourinho was relieved of his duties and Guus Hiddink was appointed on only an interim basis, owner Roman Abramovich was sure to make a high profile appointment and he did just that by handing the reigns over to the well-respected Antonio Conte.

The Italian got right to work, bringing in young Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi (17G, 7A) from Marseille and then turned his focus to the defensive side of the ball, where he pried away the do it all defensive midfielder N’Golo Kante, who led the league last season in tackles and interceptions, from Leicester City before closing the window with moves for Marcos Alonso and a surprising reunion with Brazilian David Luiz with the hopes of shoring up a defense that kept only nine clean sheets the entire season and conceded a total of 53 goals, 30 of which came at the fortress once known as Stamford Bridge.

Going from reigning league champions to mid-table also-rans in a matter of six months can only be explained as a one off, with too much talent littered throughout the squad for Chelsea to suffer a similar fate this season. With bounce back seasons from world class talents such as Diego Cost and Eden Hazard who, after failing to score in twenty-six league appearances after taking home the player of the year award the year before has already produced a goal or an assist in all three outings this year, it looks like Chelsea is primed for a return to form and will finish just outside the top two in 3rd place.

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get your seats now for our “ravens/jets bus” on october 23


The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 12 of the 40 seats thus far, so 28 are still available.


Wednesday
September 7th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 7
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


ownership situation will dictate machado's future in baltimore


The more I watch Manny Machado make fools of opposing pitchers, like he did last night with a grand slam that helped the O's pound the Rays, 11-2, the more I'm starting to believe he won't be around after the 2018 season.

But, that's not because he's so good and so talented that he'll just take a gazillion dollars from the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs or Tigers and be done with it all.

I think Machado's price tag is going to be so high and so out-of-this-world that the Orioles owner simply won't be interested in paying it.

"But wait, Drew, you don't even know who is going to own the team in 2019." Is that what you're thinking?

You're right. And that's sort of the issue at hand for Machado and the Birds. It all has a lot more to do with ownership and not much to do with wanting to keep Machado in Charm City.

We've discussed here on several occasions what the contract for Machado is likely to look like when he enters free agency in the winter of '18-19. He'll have an asking price of somewhere around $35 million a year, maybe more, since that's what Mike Trout's contract calls for in 2019.

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Expecting to command $35 million per-season (or more), Manny Machado might simply be the sort of inherited expense a new owner of the Orioles doesn't want on the books come 2018-2019.

You can make any argument you want about "no ballplayer being worth $35 million a year" but the fact of the matter is that's what they'll be getting then -- if not more like $40 million a year.

Back to the O's ownership situation, though, which is the key to the entire picture.

It's unlikely that Peter Angelos will still be in daily control of the organization two years from now and, if he is, he'll likely have turned over the day-to-day stuff to one of his boys, John or Louis. Would one of those two want a $350 million albatross hanging over their neck while they're running the team?

Maybe. But I suspect they wouldn't.

We've all pre-supposed for years that Angelos would be willing to sell the team, or would at least listen to a reasonable purchase offer, but nothing of the sort has happened. The biggest reason why? The team is for sale, but the TV network isn't.

Therein lies the biggest issue with the club. Angelos has now figured out that it's not the baseball team that actually generates the healthy, buy-anything-you-want-twice sort of profit he's been making for about a decade now. The TV network makes the money. The baseball team just comes along and orders wine from the captain's list.

But rumors have swirled for a few years now that Angelos has told anyone willing to listen it's the team ONLY that's for sale. The MASN TV empire he created is NOT part of the bargain.

Who wants the baseball team and not the network, too? No one, I figure.

Oh, and who has the dough in these parts to fork over $500 million for the ballclub if, in fact, they'd be willing to buy the baseball franchise only?

The first name everyone throws out there is Under Armour big wig Kevin Plank, but people close to him have said for years now he's not interested in owning a baseball franchise.

Michael Lund Petersen, the Pandora jewelry kingpin, is another name you've heard bandied about as a guy who has the kind of money it would take to own a MLB team, but, like Plank, he's much more interested in horse racing than he is baseball.

There are others around town with lots of money, yes, but how many of them would give Peter Angelos $500 million and then have to sit across the table from him and negotiate a TV contract?

All of that is eyewash, though, compared to the issue of Machado's contract and how it could impact the sale of the organization.

The 20-second conversation would go something like this:

"So, look, I'm definitely interested in selling you the team."

"Great, how much?"

"Well, $500 million is the asking price. Plus, you owe Manny Machado another $350 million over the next 8 years."

That's one scenario.

The other is that Angelos can peddle the team to someone before 2018 and the new owner can hyperventilate at the thought that his (or her) first order of business will be letting the team's marquee player walk out of town and sign with the Yankees or Red Sox.

Either way you look at it -- or any way you look at it -- it appears that Machado's asking price of somewhere around $350 million will be too much, too awkward and just too messy. That's not to say he isn't worth it, mind you. Some baseball nerd with a calculator and Will Hunting-like math skills will tell you Manny's a "bargain" at $35 million per-season. But the math nerd isn't forking over $35 million a year, either.

Oh, and I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect Machado doesn't give a hoot whether or not he plays in Baltimore, New York, Detroit, Sioux City or Tuscaloosa. And that's not a criticism, in the same way you probably don't care if you work for Company A, Company B, or Company C, as long as you make your $100,000 a year. If you were making $50,000 at Company A and Company B had a position open at $100,000, you'd be sending out farewell e-mails over a glass of champagne.

I think Chris Davis genuinely wanted to stay in Baltimore. I don't know why, per se, but I think it was important for him to remain in Charm City, where the pressure is light and the right field porch is short. Davis might not have received the mega-offer he thought he was going to get, but all in all, I think staying in Baltimore was a big priority for him.

I think Machado's priority is to cash in.

I can hear him now: "I want to be the highest paid player in the game. Ever."

That doesn't sound a lot like, "I really want to stay in Baltimore, more than anything else."

Conjecture on my part? Sure. But having watched him grow up over the last few years and knowing a little about his personal lifestyle from some "business owners" in downtown Baltimore who have befriended him, the picture that Machado just wants the money -- and lots of it -- is gaining steam in these parts.

And, please, that doesn't make Machado a bad guy in any way.

If he's one of those who says, "I'm going to the highest bidder", that's his right as a (pending) free agent. He's under no obligation -- none at all -- to stay with the Orioles "just because".

It would be nice if the Orioles could fork over the money and keep him around.

They're hopefully going to make him some sort of offer this winter -- maybe a 3-year extension of some sort that keeps him around until age 28 or thereabouts -- that at least prolongs his stay in Baltimore and yet pays him the money he's earned and deserves.

I just don't think it's in the cards to keep Machado around if, in fact, he goes the traditional route and plays out his rookie contract and enters the free agent market after 2018.

Too much money for the current owner.

Too much money for a new owner, if one even exists.

Just too much money...

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does u.s. soccer have its first true star player?


Years from now, maybe a decade or more, we might all remember the evening of September 6, 2016 as the night Christian Pulisic announced his arrival on the United States soccer scene.

A lot has to happen between now and then, but the soon-to-be-18-year-old who grew up in Harrisburg, PA stole the show last night in Jacksonville as the U.S. dominated a completely disinterested Trinidad and Tobago side, 4-0, to earn a spot in CONCACAF's final qualifying stage for World Cup 2018.

Pulisic was the best player on the field by a mile. Heck, he even made Jozy Altidore look good, which is quite the accomplishment in and of itself.

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Could this soon-to-be-18-year-old be American's soccer's Michael Jordan? Finally? Maybe? It appears he might.

The winger buzzed through the Trinidad defense like a knife through hot butter. As I noted on Twitter after he set up Altidore's second goal of the game midway through the final half, Pulisic's showing on Tuesday night might have been the best performance we've seen from an American offensive player in a decade or more.

Frankly, I don't know when I've seen a U.S. player do the things Pulisic did last night. He kept the ball at his feet, went straight to goal with it, beat defenders with ease, slid the easy, smart pass when it was called for, and created chance after chance in the penalty area.

Two of his ventures led directly to U.S. goals and even when he was snuffed on a goal scoring chance of his own by an outstanding save from the bewildered Trinidad goalkeeper, the ball wound up in the back of the net moments later off the foot of Paul Arriola.

The win also secures an important start for the American team, as they'll host Mexico in the first game of the 10-game qualifying stage on November 11. Getting Mexico early, and at home, is important for the Americans as they look to secure their trip to Russia for the 2018 World Cup.

Pulisic will be in the lineup on November 11, of that you can now be certain.

Throughout the spring and summer, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann addressed the younger's imminent availability for the national team by preaching "caution" and "bringing him along slowly".

Well, that's no longer an option. Nor should it be.

Pulisic is in the team now, as a starter, and could very well be the true, polished American-born offensive player that our country's soccer team has needed for over two decades now.

This is not hyperbole for a kid who might have just had one of those nights last night in Jacksonville.

No, no, no.

Last night in Jacksonville wasn't a fluke or an outlier.

Christian Pulisic is the real deal.

It feels good to think we might finally have one of those on OUR team -- for once.

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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL

The second day of our top tier English Premier League team previews continues with two squads who could very well find themselves fighting for a spot in the top four with a couple bounces of the ball going their way.

Liverpool

Less than eighteen months after taking Liverpool to the cusp of their first Premier League title in 24 years, Brendan Rodger was sacked after a horrendous start to last season’s campaign and German Jurgen Klopp was installed to lead the Reds back to the ranks of European elite. The former Borussia Dortmund boss made the best of what he had to work with after succeeding Rodgers in October, with runs to the finals of the Capital One Cup and the Europa League the silver lining to an 8th place finish in the domestic campaign, their joint-lowest in the Premier League alongside the 1994 and 2012 seasons.

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Jurgen Klopp is the man in charge at Liverpool and it's through him that the Reds hope to return to one of the premier soccer team in Europe.

While the play under Klopp was far better than Rodgers could inspire, the true effect of his work with one of England’s most storied clubs would only be realized after a full season in charge and with players of his own choosing. He has wasted little time bringing in players of his mold this summer, with Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum joining the already established Phillipe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Adam Lallana in the midfield, defender Ragnar Klavin set to partner Dejan Lovren in the center of defense, and Loris Karius, once healthy, in goal to replace the mistake prone Simon Mignolet.

Will that be enough to return Liverpool back to the Champions League for only the second time in the last eight years? It could certainly be possible, especially given the lack of European fixtures to worry about this season. A great deal however will rest on the health of striker Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool’s top goal scorer with 13 in all competitions last season, who has missed a total of 76 games through injury since joining the Reds in 2013. A 6th place finish looks likely unless Sturridge can stay healthy all season long which, given his recent history, looks very unlikely.


Arsenal

Despite jumping ahead of their North London rivals Tottenham on the season’s final day to secure their highest finish in the table since 2005 (2nd) and locking down Champions League football for a staggering 20th consecutive year, Arsenal fans were left to rue what might have been when, after starting the New Year two points above eventual champions Leicester City at the top of the table, they squandered what was likely their best opportunity in recent memory to lift their first Premier League trophy since 2004, with untimely injuries and a lack of depth throughout the squad contributing to their ultimate demise.

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Could Arsene Wenger's two decade run at Arsenal be on the verge of ending if he can't earn a Premier League trophy in 2016?

While injuries may be for the most part unavoidable a notoriously frugal Arsene Wenger, the Premier League’s longest serving manager who enters the season in the final year of his contract, was left to shoulder the blame for any deficiencies throughout the squad. That looked to be changing this summer when he immediately brought in the Under Armour endorsed Granit Xhaka, who will bring a much needed physicality to their star studded midfield, but the additions of defender Shkodran Mustafi and striker Lucas Pérez just hours before the close of the summer transfer window wreaked of panic.

Despite a reported $250 million in the transfer bank, it has been the frugality of Wenger while rivals such as Manchester City, Manchester United, and Chelsea spent freely, and a distinct lack of progress from year to year that has left fans unhappy and demanding a change at the top. They will finally get their wish following the conclusion of the campaign, as Arsenal will miss out on a spot in the top four for the first time since he took over in 1996, with a 5th place finish and another uninspiring Champions League run finally bringing an end to his time in charge at the capital club.

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dont' forget, i'm on the radio every day


Back on the radio again.

No, I won't be blabbing for four hours like I did for 12 years when I was on a local sports talk station.

I don't have that "in me" these days, I'm sorry to say.

But this new gig with Q1370 AM is precisely what I'm looking for at this point, so I'm excited about starting with "Rouse and Company" and hanging with Steve, Tracy and the gang. I'll be doing morning sports at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 am each weekday, giving particular attention to local high schools and colleges -- you know, the people who get largely ignored by mainstream media and local sports talk.

Here's something else I know I'll enjoy: On Monday following Ravens football, I'll be in studio throughout the morning (6 am to 9 am) to give more extensive coverage to the game from the day before. It will be sort of like doing sports talk radio again, except I won't have to sit around for four hours and have someone call in who tells me he knows more about football than the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

So, if you would, please, tune in (1370 AM) to "The Q" and give it a listen. And, by all means, if your son or daughter plays high school sports in the area, e-mail me those scores or important upcoming games (drew@drewsmorningdish.com) and I'll throw it all in the sports reports each morning, along with the latest on the Orioles, Ravens, Terps and more.

My daily sports reports on Q1370 are brought to you by Full Circle Tire and Auto and UMBC Athletics

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Tuesday
September 6th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 6
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fact is, the u.s. soccer team would suffer the worst “bad beat” ever if they don’t qualify tonight


FACT: The United States men’s soccer team plays Trinidad and Tobago tonight in the final game of the first round of World Cup 2018 qualifying. Barring a complete miracle, the American side is through to the final stage, which starts in November. The only way the U.S. can NOT advance tonight is by losing to Trinidad and having Guatemala beat St. Vincent and the Grenadines by 12 or more goals in a game also played this evening.

OPINION: The U.S. has qualified for every World Cup since 1986, but reaching the 2018 edition is going to be a tough challenge once they advance tonight. Their defense is just not “World Cup caliber” at this point and there’s nothing that suggests it’s going to get markedly better in the next year. Their offense IS better, though, but I’m not sure it’s going to be good enough to overcome their defensive inadequacies.

FACT: Chris Tillman hasn’t pitched since getting clobbered by the Astros, 12-2, back on August 20. Since then, though, the Birds have gone 8-7 and the rumored demise of the club with Tillman unavailable to start every 5th day was greatly exaggerated.

OPINION: Had Tillman not been injured, he would have won 20 games this season. I know, I know, “pitching wins don’t matter anymore”, but there’s still something mystical about collecting 20 wins in a season.

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The Ravens have never missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons under John Harbaugh. Now in year nine in Baltimore, Harbaugh faces a tough test with the Ravens in 2016.

FACT: Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens have never gone back-to-back seasons without making the playoffs.

OPINION: They’ll be challenged to get back to the post-season this year, mainly because of their secondary. They face a lot of pass-happy teams in 2016 and will need to up the ante defensively or we could see a lot of 28-24 games. Then again, as long as they’re on the good end of 28-24, that’s fine.

FACT: Megan Rapinoe of U.S. Women’s soccer fame “took a knee” (during the national anthem) on Sunday while playing with her U.S. based-league team and said she did so as a show of support for Colin Kaepernick. It immediately became headline fodder at ESPN and other national sports sites.

OPINION: I get it, but the reporting of these “acts” is a little silly if you ask me. Is it really worth publicizing, promoting and commenting on every occasion when someone makes a statement of some sort or supports someone else’s plight? Just let them do their thing in peace.

FACT: Bruce Springsteen once turned down $12 million from the Chrysler Corporation in exchange for the car company using “Born in The U.S.A.” as part of a marketing campaign.

OPINION Not many people would turn down $12 million for anything. $12 million…that’s a lot of money. Oh, and “Born in the U.S.A.” wasn’t even a good song.

FACT: The NFL season starts this Thursday night when the Panthers take on the Broncos in a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl.

OPINION: Two of these six teams will be in this season’s Super Bowl: Patriots, Chiefs, Raiders, Panthers, Packers, Redskins.

FACT: The Red Sox are 76-61 and the Orioles are 75-62. Yet, ESPN has the Red Sox as having an 82.6% chance of making the playoffs while the O’s are at 43.4%.

OPINION: I realize a computer is doing all of the calculating and much more goes into it then just “the standings”, but how can one game separating two teams result in a nearly 40% difference in their chances of making the playoffs? I should have taken some advanced math classes at Glen Burnie High School back in 1981.

FACT: Looks like the Ravens are going to re-sign Justin Forsett on Tuesday, likely at a salary reduction off the $3 million he was supposed to make in 2016. And, better yet, by putting him on waivers over the weekend, the Ravens were in a win-win situation. By cutting Forsett on Saturday, that meant John Harbaugh’s team kept their other younger running backs and didn’t have to expose any of them to the other 31 teams. And Forsett comes back to them cheaper than his original $3 million deal.

OPINION: I still say Terrance West will be the odd guy out by week six or so. Once Kenneth Dixon comes back, he’ll split the workload with Buck Allen and Forsett will be the guy who hangs around to help out when called upon. Now, if West really shows well between now and mid-October, things might change, but I don’t see him being a stand out.

FACT: Towson University kicked off their football season on Saturday night in Tampa, losing 56-20 to South Florida. OK, that’s a stomping, right? But wait…the Tigers had 20 first downs to South Florida’s 22. And, ready for this? Towson won the time of possession battle 37 minutes to 23 minutes. The Tigers lost by 36 points but had the ball 14 more minutes than the team that beat them. Weird…

OPINION: Rob Ambrose was pretty stoked about his team when I saw him at a member event at Eagle’s Nest this summer. They didn’t go down to Tampa to win, obviously. I mean, they wanted to win, but they were basically going down there to pick up a check and try and kick some butt in the CAA this season.

FACT: Jim Furyk missed the cut at this weekend’s FedEx Cup playoffs event at TPC Boston. That could damage his chances for being a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup, which is played later this month in Minnesota.

OPINION: Furyk is already a “Vice Captain” for Davis Love III at this year’s Ryder Cup, along with Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods. There should be a rule or policy in place that prohibits Vice Captains from being named captain’s picks. If they play their way on the team, fine, but once they accept the Vice Captain’s role, that’s where they should remain unless they qualify on points.

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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL

#DMD's English Soccer columnist, Matthew Carroll, checks in this week with team-by-team previews of the top sides in the EPL.

Leicester City

After winning seven of their final nine games to ensure survival in their first season back in England’s top flight following a decade’s absence, Leicester City completed one of the greatest stories in sports history when just twelve months later they overcame 5,000-1 odds and some of the biggest clubs and wallets of the footballing world to bring home their first Premier League title in the 132 history of the club. With a target now squarely on their backs, the Foxes will not only have to cope with the added pressure that the defending champions tag will bring, but also against the continents best in Champions League play.

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Leicester City teammates Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez shocked the soccer world by staying on board with Leicester City. Both turned down offers from some of the world's biggest clubs.

Needing to maintain and then bolster their squad ahead of the rigors that European football demands, manager Claudio Ranieri was against all odds able to convince Riyad Mahrez (17G) and Jamie Vardy (24G) to snub the advances of the world’s biggest clubs to stay on with the Foxes but was unable to do the same with N’Golo Kante, as the midfielder made the big money summer move to Chelsea. Ranieri will look to summer addition Nampalys Mendy to fill the Frenchmen’s shoes while Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa were brought in to bolster the Foxes lethal and efficient counter attacking style.

So will we see our first repeat champions since Manchester United’s three-year reign from 2006-2009? Not this year. Leicester City have done well to keep the core of their squad together and the additions in attack, specifically the pace of Musa and the ability of Slimani, who if you remember ran circles around Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, combined with Vardy and Mahrez will continue to cause defenses havoc throughout Europe, but the Foxes used up a lifetimes worth of good karma last season and the increased demands of Champions League will see them drop to 8th place this season.


West Ham United

If not for the improbable heroics of Leicester City, West Ham United would have likely been the darlings of the English Premier League in their final season at Upton Park. As the Hammers said goodbye to the ground that they had called home since 1904, first year manager Slaven Bilics’ bunch registered memorable victories against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City in route to their highest top flight point total in 30 years (62) and highest ever finish in the table (7th), with only a few questionable referee decisions near the end of the year keeping them from a real shot at a spot in the top four.

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Can Slaven Bilic repeat his first-year success with West Ham in 2016-2017?

Bilic and the West Ham board have seized on the momentum of last year’s success and the move to London’s Olympic Park to improve a squad that they and their 50,000 season ticket holders, the second highest tally in the league behind only Manchester United, will expect to compete for a place near the top of the table year in and year out. They twice broke their transfer records this summer with the additions of Simone Zaza from Juventus and Andre Ayew from Swansea City to add additional firepower around the revelation that has been Dimetri Payet since his move last summer to the claret and blue.

Will West Ham continue their surge and push for a spot in the top four? Not likely. The addition of Zaza took the Hammers summer spending past the $80 million mark, but it was a move that had to be made given the early season laundry list of injuries they have had to work around - including early season injuries to Payet and Manuel Lanzini, Diafra Sakho and summer signing Sofiane Feghouli out until after the international break, Andy Carroll out until October and Andre Ayew out until Christmas - preventing the Hammers from climbing higher than 7th again this year unless they can get healthy quickly.

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get your seats now for our “ravens/jets bus” on october 23


The #DMD travel squad hits the road again on Sunday, October 23rd when the Ravens take on the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

We’ve secured both lower deck and upper deck seats for this game, and your tickets will be grouped with others on the trip (depending on how many seats you buy) regardless of whether you’re in the upper or lower deck.

This is a premium road game to attend! The weather will still be decent, Met Life Stadium is an outstanding venue, and the Jets and Ravens are both hoping to contend for an AFC playoff spot in 2016.

As we do with all of our road trips, everything you could possibly want is handled by our able-bodied #DMD staff. We provide an outstanding luxury motor coach with only 40 passengers on board to give everyone a little extra room to stretch and relax.

There’s coffee and food on the way to New Jersey, plus beer, water and soda for the trip up I-95. Once we arrive at Met Life Stadium (around 9:30 or 10 am), we’ll have a few hours to tailgate -- with more beverages -- plus lunch will be provided by our great friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin.

You just sit back, enjoy the ride, fill your stomach with food and drink, and enjoy the game with other Ravens fans in the stadium.

Click on the “Ravens @ Jets” link at the top of the #DMD menu above and you’ll get all the payment information and any additional details you might need to make a decision to join us.

NOTE: We have sold 12 of the 40 seats thus far, so 28 are still available.


and…speaking of new york…who wants to see billy joel at the garden?


OK, so some of the #DMD trips are truly “bucket list” for me, too. Like, for example, the Notre Dame football trip we’re taking in a couple of weeks. I’ve never been to South Bend, so it will be a first for me, too.

Billy Joel in New York is NOT a bucket list trip for me. I’ve seen him twice at Madison Square Garden in the last 16 months…but I’m going again on Wednesday, November 30.

Who wants to go with me?

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#DMD is heading to New York City on November 30 to see the legendary Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden. If you're a fan of The Piano Man, this is a must-see show!

If you’re a Billy Joel fan, this is MUST-DO event in your lifetime. There’s just something about seeing him at the Garden that is especially great.

For starters, his band is absolutely spectacular. It’s Billy Joel’s show, sure, but the band he’s assembled, including saxophonist Mark Rivera, is simply spectacular.

He plays all of his hits in the 2.5 hour show – there likely won’t be a song you don’t know throughout the evening.

Best of all? I got my hands on some stage-side seats in the lower concourse, so you’ll have a great view and vantage point of Joel and the band.

We’ll be getting the information up in the next day or two, but in the meantime, if you’d like to reserve seats, e-mail me, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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starting today, i'll be on the radio every day


Back on the radio again.

No, I won't be blabbing for four hours like I did for 12 years when I was on a local sports talk station.

I don't have that "in me" these days, I'm sorry to say.

But this new gig with Q1370 AM is precisely what I'm looking for at this point, so I'm excited about starting with "Rouse and Company" this morning, Tuesday, September 6. I'll be doing morning sports at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 am each weekday, giving particular attention to local high schools and colleges -- you know, the people who get largely ignored by mainstream media and local sports talk.

On Monday following Ravens football, I'll be in studio throughout the morning (6 am to 9 am) to give more extensive coverage to the game from the day before. It will be sort of like doing sports talk radio again, except I won't have to sit around for four hours and have someone call in who tells me he knows more about football than the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

So, starting today, tune in (1370 AM) to "The Q" and give it a listen. And, by all means, if your son or daughter plays high school sports in the area, e-mail me those scores or important upcoming games (drew@drewsmorningdish.com) and I'll throw it all in the sports reports each morning, along with the latest on the Orioles, Ravens, Terps and more.

My daily sports reports on Q1370 are brought to you by Full Circle Tire and Auto and UMBC Athletics

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Monday
September 5th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 5
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


no matter what happens, this is still a better september than most


So, I guess I’ll be that guy who reminds you today that no matter what happens with the Orioles this month, it’s still a lot better than what we all endured for a decade or more in the 2000’s.

I can see the eye rolling going on right now.

But it’s the truth.

We need to keep this whole thing in its proper perspective. It could be worse. We could be fans of, say, the Padres or Phillies. Those teams have been out of the race since Memorial Day.

Maybe your memory isn’t that good or perhaps you weren’t even an Orioles fan circa 2005 when the team was routinely eliminated from the playoff picture by June 1st or thereabouts.

It was freakin’ dreadful, I’m here to tell you.

But this September won’t be dreadful.

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Even if this October doesn't see the O's celebrating with champagne, the final month of baseball is infinitely more exciting and interesting than anything we saw a decade ago in Charm City.

Sure, the last 26 games might not go their way and the Orioles could miss the playoffs, but at least this month of baseball will be interesting.

Nothing about the 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2010 seasons was interesting, I can assure you of that.

It was losing, followed by losing, on top of more losing.

There was no reason to go to the games back then and, predictably, no one went. Well, except for fans of the Yankees and Red Sox, who would routinely jam 10,000 or more of their own supporters into Oriole Park to make for an absolutely unbearable three hours of baseball, followed up by a 9-2 thrashing of the Orioles on most nights.

It got so bad around here that the only joy we could take from September baseball was when the O's interfered with another team's chances for the playoffs, like in 2011 when the Birds beat the Red Sox on the final night of the regular season to eliminate them from post-season play.

These days, though, the Birds are a playoff contender year in and year out. Even in 2013 and 2015 when the club missed the post-season, September baseball still mattered in these parts.

Maybe we're actually getting spoiled, which could explain why no one decided to show up at the ballpark earlier this week for a critical series against the Blue Jays. Perhaps some people -- hopefully lots of them -- are saying to themselves, "I'll get tickets when the playoffs roll around."

ESPN lists the O’s playoff chances right now at just a shade over 37%. I can deal with that. I like those odds, in fact.

Here’s what else I know. If the Orioles DO get in the post-season, there’s no telling how far the ballclub might go in October. Remember, as I try to remind all of you about once a week, the team that wins the World Series only has to go 11-8 in the post-season to win the whole ball of wax, assuming they're a division winner in the regular season.

These Orioles are as unpredictable as the next Bruno Mars album. They might go 18-8 in the last 26 games and cruise into the post-season or they could finish the campaign 11-15 and miss the playoffs altogether.

But it will be exciting – and interesting.

And just the mere fact that games will matter in September is worth the price of admission.

Now, if only some of you would actually "admit yourself" to the games downtown...

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division races, cy young and mvp award still up in the air

Let’s take a quick look at the American League and see how the respective post-season races are looking with less than a month remaining in the regular season, plus the Cy Young and MVP picture.

A.L. East -- This remains a division that’s totally up for grabs with four weeks left in the season. Toronto has the upper hand, but Boston and the Orioles are both capable of going on a nice run and challenging the Blue Jays for the division crown. What’s working against the Orioles? That’s easy…their play on the road this season has been less than stellar (29-37), and their remaining road series’ are difficult to say the least (at Tampa Bay, at Detroit, at Boston, at New York and at Toronto).

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Can Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays hang on and capture their second straight A.L. East crown?

A.L. Central -- The Indians have a 6-game lead in the loss column and look to be in charge unless something wacky happens. The Tigers, though, are pressing the Orioles for that second wild card spot in the American League and could be a tough out in October if their starting rotation pitches to its capability in the post-season. The Royals are still hanging around, too, but they have 66 losses now and have some ground to make up on the O’s and Tigers.

A.L. West -- This division is a done deal. In fact, Texas (82 wins) is on the verge of clinching the best record in the American League and owning home field throughout the A.L. post-season. The Astros are still in the wild card race but need some help from the O’s and Tigers in order to sneak in. This race comes down to one simple fact: Texas is 13-3 against Houston so far this year. If they're 8-8, the race is for grabs. But it isn't.


This week's schedule:

Blue Jays: at New York (3), home vs. Boston (3)

Red Sox: at San Diego (3), at Toronto (3)

Orioles: at Tampa Bay (3), at Detroit (3)

Yankees: home vs. Toronto (3), home vs. Tampa Bay (3)

Cy Young: -- Boston's Rick Porcello has started to pull away with this over the last three weeks, but that doesn't mean he's a lock to win it. Porcello is now 19-3 on the year with a very impressive WHIP (walks/hits allowed per inning) of 1.02 to go with his 3.23 ERA. Chris Sale is having a solid season, but a brief stretch where he got knocked around a bit bumped his numbers up and he's been trying to recover ever since. His WHIP is the same as Porcello's but his ERA now is all the way up to 3.76. You don't win the Cy Young award giving up 3.76 runs per game these days.

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There are other candidates who might have more impressive numbers, but what David Ortiz has done this season at age 40 is truly remarkable. But is it MVP worthy?

MVP: -- As much as I think Jose Altuve of Houston deserves the award, I have a bad feeling it's going to one of the two guys from Boston -- Betts or Ortiz -- because, well, you know why. Altuve has enjoyed a monster season and the Astros would be about 20 games out of first place if not for him. Get this: Altuve is hitting .402 on the road so far in 2016. That's pretty good. He did suffer a calf strain on Saturday that could limit him for a week or two, in which case those guys from Boston would get to pile up more numbers. It SHOULD be Altuve's award, but my "official" prediction is Ortiz gets it as a career going-away present. Wouldn't that be fun?

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starting tomorrow, i'll be on the radio every day


Back on the radio again.

No, I won't be blabbing for four hours like I did for 12 years when I was on a local sports talk station.

I don't have that "in me" these days, I'm sorry to say.

But this new gig with Q1370 AM is precisely what I'm looking for at this point, so I'm excited about starting with "Rouse and Company" on Tuesday morning. I'll be doing morning sports at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 am each weekday, giving particular attention to local high schools and colleges -- you know, the people who get largely ignored by mainstream media and local sports talk.

On Monday following Ravens football, I'll be in studio throughout the morning (6 am to 9 am) to give more extensive coverage to the game from the day before. It will be sort of like doing sports talk radio again, except I won't have to sit around for four hours and have someone call in who tells me he knows more about football than the Ravens' offensive coordinator.

So, starting tomorrow, Tuesday, September 6, tune in (1370 AM) to "The Q" and give it a listen. And, by all means, if your son or daughter plays high school sports in the area, e-mail me those scores or important upcoming games (drew@drewsmorningdish.com) and I'll throw it all in the sports reports each morning, along with the latest on the Orioles, Ravens, Terps and more.

My daily sports reports on Q1370 are brought to you by Full Circle Tire and Auto and UMBC Athletics

.
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Sunday
September 4th
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 4
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


forsett’s departure not a surprise, but butler deserved better


The Ravens got down to their league-required 53-man roster on Saturday, with only a couple of surprises among those who were given their walking papers.

And, honestly, Justin Forsett wasn’t one of the surprises. At least not to me.

If you recall a few weeks back in my Ravens training camp preview, I mentioned that Forsett might very well be on the bubble and in danger of getting cut prior to the start of the season.

It all made too much sense. He'll be 31 years old next month and, quite frankly, is just another running back. And he would have made $3 million this season.

By cutting him yesterday, the Ravens wind up taking a $700,000 cap hit, but save themselves a boatload of money as well.

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Justin Forsett's career in Baltimore came to an end on Saturday when the Ravens cut the popular 30 year old running back, saving themselves $2.3 million in the process.

The NFL is a passing league these days, in case you haven’t noticed. And, unless you have one of the premier backs in the league like Adrian Peterson or Le'Veon Bell, the only real need for a running back is in short-yardage situations.

Twenty years ago, anything under three yards was a “running situation”.

Today, 3rd and 2 is a passing down about 90% of the time. Why have a three million dollar running back hanging around to carry the ball 15-20 times a game?

Teams have now figured out it’s simply better to have two or three running backs on the roster at a low, minimum-salary sort of set-up…and give each of them 6-8 carries per-game. You’ll likely get the same results that you would have generated using a 31-year old guy who makes $3 million.

The departure of Forsett was very likely one of the toughest decisions John Harbaugh has had to make in his nine years at the helm in Baltimore. Forsett is a first-class guy, an outstanding teammate, and a decent player, too.

And there's that issue with Forsett coming back off of a broken arm that sidelined him for nearly half of last season. Teams always cringe when they have to release a guy the season after he comes back from an injury and spends all that time re-habbing and getting prepared for a season. It's not dirty pool, per se, but it's close.

Harbaugh puts a lot of stock in character and personality, and Forsett hit a home run in both of those categories. But the coach is a big fan of winning – and letting Forsett go shows just how much Harbaugh wants to come out on top.

Forsett’s departure likely means former Towson University star Terrance West will get the starting nod next Sunday against the Bills. It’s been quite a run for West with the Ravens – no pun intended – after his first two stops in the NFL with Cleveland and Tennessee were less than impressive.

Buck Allen will get plenty of work, too, and once Kenneth Dixon returns from his MCL injury in a few weeks, the running game will feature three able-bodied guys who can do the work that Forsett might have provided.

And Forsett will likely have a job somewhere by the time you read this on Sunday morning.

You have to feel a twinge of sadness for wide receiver Jeremy Butler, who led the club in pre-season catches but was cut again for the third straight training camp.

Sure, Butler’s team-leading catch total was skewed by the fact he played more than the incumbents, but how do you release a guy who did everything that could have been asked of him by the coaching staff?

If Butler would have performed poorly in the four pre-season games and dropped a couple of passes per-game, letting him go would have been a no-brainer. After all, he wasn’t someone who stood out in previous training camps, which is probably something Harbaugh pointed out to him in 2014 and 2015.

“Jeremy, we like you as a player and you have the ability to play in the NFL – but you have to be more consistent in these pre-season games. Work on your hands, make a few more catches, and come back and see us next August.”

So, Butler did just that. And he came back in August and kicked some ass. But, he heard the same speech from Harbaugh again: “We’re not keeping you…”

That's most certainly what bothers Harbaugh about this move. How is the coach supposed to look the next guy in the eye and say, "If you get better, you have a job here"?

Butler, truth be told, is a fringe guy in a league with lots of them. He's good enough to be a pro player. He looks the part. He's only going to get better, too. But, he evidently needed to do more in order to stick around.

It should be noted, too, that Kamar Aiken was one of those fringe players for a couple of years before breaking out with a nice campaign a year ago. Yes, some of that was prompted by Steve Smith's injury, but all the same, Aiken blossomed in 2015.

Butler might be able to the same thing, although it could be in another city.

The other cuts yesterday weren't overly surprising, although the Terrence Brooks termination was a bit of an eye opener considering that Matt Elam still has a few weeks left before he can return from his pre-season injury.

Brooks, the former 2nd round pick, never really made an impact in the secondary. Elam, it can be argued, hasn't made much of one, either. Without hearing it from Harbaugh himself, I have no idea why the club went with a guy who can't play the first couple of weeks of the season over someone who could have -- but losing Brooks isn't that big of a deal either way.

Another former draft pick, Arthur Brown, also got his walking papers on Saturday. Honestly, it's probably a year too late for Brown, who only played a couple of defensive snaps over the last two seasons and just wasn't able to practice well enough to earn playing time in the games.

And the only 2016 draft pick to be cut was former Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, who tried to make it as a wide receiver and kick returner with the Ravens in training camp.

They'll hope to sign Reynolds to the practice squad, but even then, he's available to any other team who wants to grab him during the regular season. I'm sure Harbaugh wanted Reynolds to over-perform in the pre-season so he could find a spot for him on the 53-man roster, but it never materialized. Reynolds was a terrific college quarterback who just doesn't have a role in the bigger, stronger NFL.

There will be some more roster shuffling today, as the Ravens scour the list of available players from yesterday's cut-down day and hope to snag a useful player or two. Former Bears kick returner Devin Hester is in town and working out with the team and most followers of the Ravens feel like they'll sign him today or early this week.

If Hester does sign, someone else has to go, either by being cut or through the popular "injury settlement" process a lot of teams use these days to give players they care for a nice going away gift when they end their employment with the organization.

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it's official: the yankees are on the ropes


Earlier this week in Baltimore, the Orioles faced a supremely important game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

I never call them "must wins", as you know, but Tuesday night's home game with the Jays -- after falling four games behind by virtue of Monday's 5-1 loss to Toronto -- was a "virtual" must win for the Birds.

A loss there would have moved them five games behind and would have given Toronto a chance to sweep them on Wednesday to drive the O's six games back.

Baltimore responded on Tuesday night with a 5-3 win thanks to an 8th inning two run homer from Matt Wieters.

Well...the Yankees face that same scenario this afternoon at Oriole Park.

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Another sterling effort from Kevin Gausman on Saturday night has the Yankees on the ropes in today's series finale at Oriole Park.

They're in a "virtual" must win situation today.

If New York loses today's game, that will put them at 66 losses, five more than the Orioles have at this point.

They won't have that "x" next to their name in the standings (x - eliminated from post-season play) if they lose this afternoon, but they might as well have it.

The Birds blanked the Yankees again last night, 2-0, as Baltimore hasn't allowed a run in 18 innings of baseball this weekend at Oriole Park.

Kevin Gausman also hasn't been allowing any runs of late. His effort on Saturday night was the third straight start he's made without surrendering an earned run, as the former #1 pick lowered his ERA on the season to a very respectable 3.58.

Chris Davis had a run producing single and Adam Jones hit his 25th home run of the season to account for the O's scoring on Saturday night.

It's Michael Pineda (Yankees) and Wade Miley (Orioles) on the mound in today's series finale. Pineda is capable of doing just about anything on the mound. He could go 7.1 innings and allow five hits and one earned run or he could be in the showers by the the 4th inning, trailing 6-1.

Miley isn't all that much different, truth be told. He's been less-than-impressive since coming over from the Mariners at the trade deadline and was victimized by the long ball in his last start, a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays in Baltimore last Monday night.

It's go-time for the Yankees today. If they don't win this one, their 2016 playoff hopes are just about extinguished.

The Orioles, of course, just need to keep winning. With Detroit's loss on Saturday, the Birds now occupy that 2nd wild card spot all on their own, but a road trip to red-hot Tampa Bay looms and then the Birds face the Tigers in the Motor City next weekend in what now turns out to be a pivotal September series.

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Saturday
September 3rd
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 3
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washington times piles on as o's attendance suffers


I'm not 100% sure why the Washington Times would even care enough about the Orioles to write about the team's on-going attendance issues, but there it was on Thursday, from longtime journalist Thom Loverro: Orioles disastrous business decisions show at turnstiles

Well, the genesis of the piece by Loverro was fairly accurate. The Orioles, in a number of ways, have done this to themselves. But shouldn't our city be willing to forgive and forget at this point?

As I always do, I'll point you in the direction of the referred article (www.washingtontimes.com) but won't link it here. Once they start linking #DMD on a daily basis, maybe then we'll have a nice, tidy reciprocal relationship.

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Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his organization were raked over the coals by The Washington Times recently, mostly for their struggling 2016 attendance at Oriole Park.

The Times getting involved in the Orioles' attendance woes is somewhat puzzling, but Peter Angelos isn't exactly the fair haired boy over in D.C.

Remember, he spent years and millions of dollars trying to keep baseball OUT of Washington D.C.

I know newspapers, magazines and other forms of media are supposed to be "fair and balanced" no matter the subject, topic or person involved, but Angelos has made a lot of enemies in The District over the last decade or more.

As Loverro pointed out in his article, it was Angelos himself who once opined: "Washington D.C. doesn't have any real baseball fans."

That will create an enemy or two for sure.

Sadly, these days, it looks like it might be Baltimore that doesn't have "real" baseball fans.

24,000-plus showed up last night for the first game of the Yankees series at Oriole Park (an 8-0 win for the Birds).

Angelos and his front office folks must have been taking gas looking out at all of those empty seats.

I'm not even going to ask "where is everybody?" anymore. It's evident they're not coming. Not now, anyway.

Here's the thing, though: If the Orioles do make it to the post-season, "Baseball Fever" will suddenly hit Charm City and all of the people who thought about going to a game or two this year -- and didn't -- will decide that October is a beautiful month for baseball.

That's some hot garbage right there. You're either going to the games now, when the team needs you in the stadium to help create an atmosphere that can suffocate the other team, or you should continue sitting home when the playoffs roll around.

I'm serious about that. If you can't go to a game NOW, you shouldn't be allowed in LATER.

I realize that's pie-in-the-sky thinking and there's no way to police such a thing, but it's at least the general concept the Orioles should follow: Don't come around now begging for tickets to Game 2 of the playoffs if you weren't at the ballpark once a month or so during the 2016 regular season.

24,000 at the stadium on Friday night in September with the Yankees in town.

Seems almost impossible, if you ask me.

I figured this would be a 95,000 attendance weekend in Baltimore.

The only way they'll draw 95,000 downtown for sports this weekend is if the Ravens suddenly pick up a home game on Sunday evening and welcome 65,000 or so to the stadium.

Unless Saturday and Sunday run opposite to what we've been seeing, the Birds will draw somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000 for the three games with the Yankees.

That's just not good enough, if you ask me.

We can play that blame-game again, but I'm afraid the answers are going to be the same.

Yes, the unrest in the city has probably led to some concerns from folks departing the stadium late at night.

But "safety" is not keeping 20,000 people away on a Friday night in September when the Orioles and Yankees are locked in a fight for an American League playoff spot, I don't care what the survey says.

During my weekly stint with my old pal Glenn Clark on his show yesterday (www.GlennClarkRadio.com), Clark suggested the Orioles, not the fans, are the ones to blame for the attendance malaise. Clark believes the team hasn't created enough of an incentive to get people to the stadium, for one, and he also feels that ticket prices remain too high for the "average" fan.

Here's the incentive the team has created: Winning games.

When the Orioles were getting mollywhopped 95 times a year during their decade of despair and no one was going to the games, it was hard to blame the people for not showing up. The team did NOTHING in the off-season to warrant any early season interest and by the time August rolled around, the club was 20 games out of first place and the Ravens were getting ready to start another one of their (successful) seasons. In other words, no one went to baseball games back then because the product wasn't any good and the team wasn't worth supporting.

But now?

The Birds made the playoffs in 2012 and 2014, engineered a decent run last year before petering out in September, and are now involved in what looks to be another last month playoff chase this year.

If you didn't go to the games when the team stunk and you're not willing to go to the games now, when the team's good...

When, then, are you going to go to the games?

Look, I realize not everything's perfect with ticket prices, concession costs and safety might very well be an issue for some group of people who feel like it's not worth the gamble going downtown. The games are on TV, so that's a built-in excuse for not going. But this attendance issue is NOT on the ballclub. It's just not.

If you're not willing to go to the ballpark on a Friday night or Saturday night to see the Yankees and Orioles in a meaningful game with playoff implications, something's wrong.

Dare I say it? Could attendance at home games be connected to signing Manny Machado in the future?

I sure hope not.

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four quarters of college football


Our college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in today with a look at what he believes are the four top teams in the country heading into the start of the 2016 campaign.

First Quarter: Alabama – If the opponent can’t score, your offense doesn't need to do much to win. While the Crimson Tide had four defensive players drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, every player on this year’s starting unit played in every game last year except one (Minkah Fitzpatrick only played in 14 games!). This is due mainly to Alabama’s incredible recruiting - ranking first for the last six years. As we watch one of the best defenses in the last decade, the impact of losing defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and an inexperienced quarterback should be minimal. Alabama’s schedule is slightly easier than in previous years with the SEC West weaker than usual (LSU has the talent to compete but Alabama will outcoach them again this year!).

Second Quarter: Notre Dame – Last year, a pair of two-point losses on the road keep Notre Dame out of the playoffs. Their 2016 roster is bolstered with the return of several key players from injuries. While my other playoff participants lack proven quarterbacks, the Fighting Irish have two – Malik Zaire (returning from injury) and DeShone Kiser. Hopefully, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly doesn't mess this up as Urban Meyer did last year with the Cardell Jones / J.T. Barrett situation at Ohio State. This year’s schedule will work in their favor as they 1) play 9 home games, 2) avoid ACC heavyweights Clemson and Florida State, and 3) play enough historically strong programs (Texas, Michigan State, Stanford, and USC) to influence the selection committee. If the Irish defense holds up its end of the bargain, Notre Dame’s selection will cause at least two conferences to miss the playoffs.

Third Quarter: Michigan - Michigan will be 7-0 after they beat Illinois on October 22nd. Then the Wolverines face three challenges on the road in the last month of the season. The best way to win on the road is to have a very good defense – coaches love to say “defense travels”. Lead by All-American Jabrill Peppers and a dominate defensive line, Michigan will have take their chance against three over-ranked teams. Michigan State is rebuilding and Michigan has an ax to grind after how they lost to the Spartans last year. Iowa was not able to beat a quality team last year (see conference playoff and bowl game) and brings back the same team. Ohio State is replacing too many parts and relying on J.T. Barrett to return to his 2014 form with a new cast of characters. Weakness? Michigan needs to find another quarterback that can develop to take advantage of the receiving weapons. Despite Jim Harbaugh’s strong recruiting in his two years, lack of depth will not allow the Wolverines to overcome injuries.

Fourth Quarter: Florida State – The Seminoles’ head coach, Jimbo Fisher, is recruiting at a Nick Saban / Urban Meyer level, which has restored the program to the levels it experienced in the 1990's during Bobby Bowden’s rise to the top. Defensively, they may be inexperienced, but they are very talented and very deep. Other than at linebacker, the most difficult job for defensive coordinator Charles Kelly will be finding the right combination. The offensive line has quality throughout its two-deep depth chart. Dalvin Cook is one of the top five running backs in the country. And the last time they started a red-shirt freshman Florida State won the national championship. The ACC title will come down to the game against Clemson, which is in Tallahassee this year. With two games against SEC teams (Ole Miss and Florida), the schedule strength allows the Seminoles a good chance to get in the playoffs with a loss. And if the Big 12 and Pac 12 champ has two losses, Florida State could even squeeze in with two defeats.

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friday night lights: loyola hammers b.l.


#DMD's coverage of local high school football kicks off with Friday's season opener for Loyola and Boys' Latin.

Ritchie Schell, head coach of The Boys’ Latin School, made the short trip up Charles Street with his Laker squad to take on the Dons at Loyola Blakefield yesterday afternoon.

Will Koras, the Dons junior quarterback, went right to work after the opening kickoff. Koras engineered a ninety yard drive for Loyola that featured a sixty yard run by senior running back Azende’ Smith. The Lakers defense, led by 6’2”, 245 lbs. senior defensive lineman Victor Dimukeje, dodged a bullet however, when they forced a Smith fumble inside of the one yard line. Dimukeje, a stand out in the classroom as well as on the field, is being heavily recruited by thirty five schools.

Even though they were pushed around on the opening drive, B.L. escaped an early deficit and took over deep inside their own territory.

Boys’ Latin QB, junior Brenden Crouse, who has already committed to the United States Air Force Academy for lacrosse, caught the Dons by surprise when he came out throwing on the Lakers first possession. The Dons defense regrouped quickly, led by defensive lineman Evan Boozer, a 6’5”, 240 lbs. junior, and forced a Laker punt.

Then the flags started to fly.

Boys’ Latin was hampered by key penalties that nullified several much needed big plays. Loyola head coach, Brant Hall, had to have been concerned with every one of the ten personal foul flags that the Dons amassed on the day. Penalties and mistakes determined the outcome of this game.

Taking possession again at his own ten yard line, Loyola QB Koras put together another ninety yard drive that began with an Azende’ Smith twenty five yard run and ended with a Smith one yard rushing touchdown. A Tommy McLaughlin extra point gave the Dons a 7-0 lead. The Lakers answered on the their next series with a Sam Grace field goal as time ran out in the first half to close the Loyola lead to 7-3.

Boys’ Latin began the second half at their own twenty five yard line and had some success, moving the ball to the Loyola forty yard line. But the Dons forced a fumble that was initially recovered by the Lakers but fumbled again and recovered by Loyola LB Trevor Henigan at the Boys’ Latin eleven yard line. The swing in field position was over fifty yards. That mistake proved too much for the Lakers to overcome.

Two plays later, Loyola scored on a six yard rush by Smith.

Loyola amped up the defensive pressure in the second half when senior LB Omar Whiting added a seventy yard pick six on a tipped ball and the Dons later added a safety when they blocked a Laker punt in the end zone.

Final Score - Loyola Blakefield 23 - Boys’ Latin 3.


Players of the Game --

Loyola Blakefield

Offensive – Azende’ Smith

Defensive – Evan Boozer

Special Teams – Tommy McLaughlin

Boys’ Latin

Offensive – Brenden Crouse

Defensive - Victor Dimukeje

Special Teams – Sam Grace

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Friday
September 2nd
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 2
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my 25th time seeing "the boss" didn't disappoint


Sorry for not quite meeting my self-appointed #DMD publishing time of 7:25 am this morning.

As Jeff Spicoli said to Mr. Hand when he was asked why he was late to class: "I just couldn't make it on time..."

Unlike Spicoli, though, my excuse this morning wasn't a "full crowd scene at the food line".

You can blame my tardiness today on the great Bruce Springsteen, who played for 3 hours and 45 minutes last night in Washington D.C.

Yes, I missed Breshad Perriman's debut and another night of Colin Kaepernick being disrespectful, trading that stuff in for another night with The Boss.

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Bruce Springsteen and The E Street band put on another legendary show on Thursday night at Nationals Park, offering hits like "Born To Run", "Dancing in The Dark" and "Jungleland".

Our group of 42 Bruce junkies didn't make it back to Towson until just after 1:30 am, but it was worth getting up this morning and feeling like a truck had run over you.

At least it was for me.

Last night was my 25th Springsteen show and the 2nd time I've seen him at Nationals Park, which is all-in-all a pretty decent place to see a show. Unlike most baseball stadiums, you can leave your seat and head to the concession stands or bathroom (if you're sitting downstairs) and still see the action on the field from the main concourse , which is a pretty cool little benefit of the facility.

It was an interesting set list, I thought, as Bruce eschewed the playing of The River album front-to-back and instead hopped around from album to album and gave the 35,000 in attendance a slice of his early career with songs like "New York City Serenade", "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?", "Growin' Up" and "Kitty's Back".

Bruce even stopped in the middle of "Spirit in the Night" to take a few gulps from a fan's beer. You'd think a guy earning $2.8 million last night would bring his own, right?"

I long ago stopped worrying about the setlist and what songs I get to hear and don't get to hear. It is what it is. For everyone like me who wanted to hear stuff from "Magic" and "Wrecking Ball" (and didn't) there were gobs of other Springsteen nuts who left Nationals Park last night thrilled to pieces with the setlist they got from Bruce and The E Street Band. I did get to hear "Bobby Jean" last night, which was the 34th and final song of the evening, as a light drizzle pleasantly cooled off everyone down on the field who had worked up a big time sweat for nearly four hours.

Big thanks to our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin for the great pre-show food on the way down to D.C., as well as Harpoon Beer and Glory Days Grill.

As I've said a lot over the last few years, I make it a point to see Bruce whenever I can now because...well...you just never know. I mean, none of us know how long we're going to be here anyway, but with Bruce -- still going strong at age 66 -- starting to get up there in years, I'm never quite certain when the next show I see might be the last one.

Of course, I've been saying that to myself since about show number 18, I think, and here we are, four or five years later, and Bruce is still rockin' like a 26 year old.

I met up before the show with my friend Glen Gulyas from one of our great #DMD corporate partners, "The Cause Network.Com", and he grew up just outside of Springsteen's childhood home in Freehold, New Jersey. We, naturally, got to talking about Springsteen and his impact on us over the years and Glen told an awesome story about growing up near the shore in New Jersey, which is the basis of a large number of early songs in the Springsteen catalog.

"I'm telling you this," Gulyas said, as we shared a pre-show cocktail. "I can listen to Thunder Road, close my eyes, and the picture Bruce paints in that song is EXACTLY what life was like on the shores of New Jersey in the early 1970's. It really is like watching a movie of your childhood through a song."

I think we all have our own "movies" we can play by listening to any number of Springsteen songs. I know I smiled for a second or two last night when Bruce belted out a scorching rendition of "No Surrender" and came to the line, "We learned more from a 3-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school..."

How true that was, for me.

So, another Bruce show in the books for me and another fun "Bucket List" trip for about 30 people on our bus who had never before seen "The Boss" in concert.

More and more now, I love putting together these special trips for the sole purpose of taking folks somewhere that they've always wanted to go, but couldn't make it happen for whatever reason.

The bus ride down was loud and filled with chatter, laughter and a few people singing along to the Springsteen DVD we played heading down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

The ride home? Much more quiet.

That alone told me everyone had a great time.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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


Tim Tebow had almost carved out a useful role in the sports world, free of controversy and comfortably situated in a role that was well suited for him.

As a college football analyst for ESPN, Tebow was legitimately good and fairly enjoyable to watch, with a really bright future ahead of him. He's got a pleasant, telegenic demeanor, strong charisma on camera, and his level of insight is at least adequate for someone early in their broadcasting career.

If he sticks with the job, it's not hard to see Tebow moving to the top of the industry pretty quickly, and carving out a very lucrative second career for himself as college football's top color commentator or analyst on College Gameday.

But it's never that easy, and there's always more lucre to be had if you're shameless enough.

In case you missed the news, the big Tebow story of the past month or so is that Timmy wants to be a baseball player now, and to that end he put on a special "showcase" earlier this week that was attended by scouts representing at least 20 different MLB franchises.

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At least 20 different Major League Baseball scouts and team officials showed up for Tim Tebow's baseball workout earlier this week. What they saw was a player with raw talent who is probably too past the learning-curve years to make it to the majors.

The general reaction to the whole thing has been one of amused derision. Tebow might be a fantastic athlete, but he's a 29 year old who hasn't played baseball since high school, roughly 12 years ago, and professional baseball is a game built on the finest of technical skills, skills that take even accomplished college players take years to hone in the minor leagues.

There's essentially no chance that Tebow can actually make himself into a legitimate MLB player, in other words, and if it does happen it will take at least a couple years of toil in the minor leagues to make it a reality. However, Tebow's people quickly put it out that the former NFL quarterback wasn't really interested in spending much, if any, time in the minors and that only teams who wanted to fast-track him to the big leagues should seriously inquire about signing him.

For the most part, there was a general belief that the tryout was mostly a publicity stunt, and Tebow didn't exactly do much to counteract that assumption.

ESPN predictably over-covered the topic, and the fact that Tebow now worked for the network added an extra layer of unseemliness to their latest round of Tebow fixation. Most damning, it was announced shortly before the tryout that Tebow had signed an endorsement deal with Adidas, and would be wearing the brands gear during his tryout. This was apparently something that had been in the works for awhile, and the scheduled tryout accelerated the process. Ca-ching.

But then a funny thing happened...Tebow wasn't actually that bad!

The general scouting consensus was that Tebow flashed "80" power, the highest possible grade on the 20-80 scale MLB scouts use.

He also showed a 60 grade, or average, in speed, and was only a 40-50 grade (below average) with his arm.

Those are the numbers of a highly rated prospect if you're 18-20 years old, and that kind of raw power always gets plenty of opportunities to fail. Tebow was knocked pretty heavily for his contact tool and fielding, showing a rough swing that was completely overmatched by secondary offerings from a journeyman minor league pitcher and taking routes in the outfield that were reportedly putrid, but these are the kinds of things that can be fixed with coaching, while the power and athleticism he showed are the stuff of God-given ability.

So, as it so happens, when all is said and done Tebow can probably find himself a contract and an opportunity to work his way to the big leagues...if that's what he wants.

And here it's probably instructive to really understand the nature of his departure from the NFL.

Tebow could probably still be in the NFL if he had been willing to try converting to tight end or running back. He didn't want to do that, though, insisting he'd only play quarterback, where he was plainly not good enough to anyone not drawing a paycheck from ESPN.

Even Chip Kelly, who briefly flirted with the idea of finding a specialized role for him in Philadelphia last year, ultimately concluded that he just couldn't make it work. And even as a backup, Tebow was basically useless, as he couldn't run a normal NFL offense, and most teams aren't exactly interested in developing an entirely different offensive scheme to tailor for their backup quarterback.

Add in the fact that signing Tebow guarantees that you have to deal with the headache of Skip Bayless, ESPN, and Tebow's rabid fanbase constantly demanding more playing time for him and you have someone no NFL team has an interest in bringing into their organization.

But the money on the paid speaking circuit was certainly there for Tebow, and only moreso the more the NFL rejected him.

Specifically, Tebow certainly capitalized on cozying up, if not overtly embracing, the somewhat popularly held theme that NFL teams are staying clear of him because of his overt religious beliefs, and not because he simply isn't good enough to be an NFL quarterback and doesn't want to play any other position in the league. All of which generally made it hard to believe that Tebow really wanted to go through the work and rigor of life in the minor leagues in the longshot pursuit of actually making the big leagues, when an easy payday from ESPN and Adidas was already in hand.

But the generally positive reviews for Tebow's baseball workout seem to have been a possible watershed moment.

Basically, every evaluator agrees that, based on what he shows, Tebow is worthy of a spot in anyone's minor league system.

Genuine plus-plus power, and Tebow hit multiple balls over 400 feet in batting practice, always has a place in someone's development program, and there's a decent possibility of picking up a solid platoon/bench player if someone can figure out how to tame his swing and tap into that power in two or three years.

And for his part, Tebow's tune seems to be changing as well.

Where his agents were previously implying he should head more or less straight to the majors, now word is being put out that Tebow wants to sign quickly so that he can participate in fall instructional ball and winter league play.

So who knows, maybe Tim Tebow as a baseball player is really something that's on the verge of happening, and maybe he really will want to put in the work and he'll be in the bigs sometime in 2018-19.

Maybe it will turn out he missed his real calling all along.

Or maybe that Adidas contract will prove to be enough, and he'll decide he'd rather check his bank account from behind the College Gameday desk, rather than a long bus trip through the International League.

Until I see otherwise, that's the outcome I'll be betting on.

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drew's views on the
baltimore orioles

Covering the Orioles throughout the season is an important part of #DMD's service, so who better to take on the assignment than #DMD's founder? DREW FORRESTER will tell you why the Birds won or lost, who was responsible, and what to look for in upcoming games. It's brought to you by our friends at KELLY, the area's expert in all aspects of payroll service.


huge home series with yankees starts tonight


Every series the Orioles play now is probably the one that can break their back if they're not careful.

Such is life in September, and such is life when your once 5.5 game lead in the A.L. East has turned into a 4-game deficit, which is where the Birds are this morning as the Yankees come to town for a huge three-game weekend series.

Both teams are still well in the American League playoff race, although the Yankees would probably need a mini-miracle to somehow scrape their way past three or four other teams and play well enough this month to steal one of the Wild Card spots. I like what the Yankees have done, so this isn't "anti-New York" positioning, but I just don't see them having the horses to go something like 21-9 in their last thirty games, which is probably what it will take for them squeeze in.

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The Orioles could use a quality start from Kevin Gausman on Saturday night when he opposes C.C. Sabathia in the second game of the three-game series with the Yankees at Camden Yards.

The Orioles need to go 18-11 the rest of the way to reach that same 90-win mark.

That's why the Birds can ill afford losing all three to the Yankees this weekend. If that happens...

Even losing two of three would be harmful, particularly with division leading Toronto in Tampa Bay against the last place Rays this weekend.

The Birds get to trot out two young arms to start the series, as Bundy goes tonight and Gausman is scheduled for Saturday. The Yankees, meanwhile, don't have much to counter with, sending Chad Green to the hill this evening in the opener and then C.C. Sabathia gets the Saturday evening start for Joe Girardi's team.

This isn't 2008. Sabathia doesn't have it anymore, as his performance on Saturday will likely reveal.

Edge to the Orioles in the first two games of the series.

There's lots of scoreboard watching going on now, which means not only are you worried about what you're doing, but what the others in the pennant race are doing as well. Some nights, like earlier this week when the Yankees were in Kansas City, one of those two teams is going to keep pace or gain ground simply because one of them has to win a game when they oppose one another.

That situation is in effect tonight in Kansas City, where the red-hot Royals host the Tigers. Both of those teams are scratching and clawing for one of the two Wild Card spots, right there with the Orioles.

For the Birds, the solution is simple: Win games.

Taking two of three or sweeping the Yankees is paramount, not only because the Birds need to hang on in the race, but it would start to push the Yankees out to sea, as well.

Let's just hope Oriole Park isn't overrun with Yankees fans this weekend.

I have a bad feeling it's going to be, unfortunately.

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Thursday
September 1st
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVI
Issue 1
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the wrong team won two out of three


When the Blue Jays showed up here on Monday night for three games at what mysteriously became Rogers Centre South, the Orioles really needed a three-game sweep but, at worst, had to win two of three against the first place team from Toronto.

Well, someone DID win two of three but it wasn't the Orioles.

And with last night's 5-3 loss, the O's are now officially involved in a fight for the second wild card spot in the American League rather than a chase for the Eastern Division pennant.

The division crown is still within reach, yes, but the Birds wake up this morning and find themselves deadlocked with the Tigers (72-61) for that second wild card spot, while the likes of the Astros (62 losses), Yankees (63) and Royals (64) are still well positioned to make a last ditch playoff push.

Wednesday's 5-3 loss was highlighted by a first-inning struggle from starter Yovani Gallardo and another night where the Baltimore bats just couldn't get anything going against Toronto pitching. On Monday night, Marco Estrada looked like Cy Young in a 5-1 Blue Jays victory and last night it was Aaron Sanchez who baffled the home team for seven innings, allowing just one unearned run while improving to 13-2 on the year.

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A 9th two-run home run from Jonathan Schoop was the only fireworks for the Birds in Wednesday night's 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

The O's acquired a couple of veteran outfielders on Wednesday to help with their playoff push, but let's be realistic about both Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn. They wouldn't have been shipped out by their former teams if they were a valuable asset. Think of it like this: If the Orioles traded Nolan Reimold on Wednesday, what would the other team really be getting?

Stubbs is a career .244 hitter who actually had a few OK seasons in 2012, 2013 and 2014 when he was with the Reds for two seasons and the Rockies for one. Lately, though, he's been in decline, which is why the Texas Rangers put him on waivers earlier this week.

Bourn was once a high profile base stealer who has spent most of his career in the National League. Like Stubbs, his best days are behind him.

Those two players were brought in for insurance and an upgrade over Nolan Reimold, who has tried his best to fill in admirably for the injured Adam Jones. Stubbs can play right field and give Buck Showalter the freedom to use Mark Trumbo exclusively as the team's designated hitter for the rest of the season.

Team speed has long been the enemy of the Orioles. Bourn at least gives the O's someone with wheels on the basebaths. Now -- we just need to get him on base late in the game to see if his speed can make a difference a time or two.

The Jones injury has clearly changed things for the O's. They're 2-4 since he left last Friday's game in the first inning and even though it looks like he'll return for this weekend's home series with the Yankees, it's likely the All-Star centerfielder won't be 100% healthy for the rest of the season. It's tough to win these big games against quality teams WITH Jones in the lineup, much less with him sitting on the bench unable to play.

Let's also point out something that's obvious, but sounds like excuse making. They just faced the Blue Jays without arguably the team's engine-room catalyst (Jones) and by the quirk of starting rotation-scheduling, the three pitchers you'd LEAST like to see on the mound against Toronto in a huge late-season series.

I get it. You pitch who comes up next on the clipboard, but the Birds trotted out Miley, Jimenez and Gallardo for three straight nights against one of the best hitting teams in all of baseball. Losing two out of three was almost inevitable, truth be told.

The good news? This weekend, the first two starters against the Yankees -- Bundy and Gausman -- are the ones we'd MOST like to see in there right now, given that Chris Tillman is unavailable due to his shoulder injury.

Oh, and don't look now, but the heavy rain they're calling for in the Mid-Atlantic on Saturday could make things very interesting on Sunday should the need arise for a doubleheader.

There's still lots of baseball left -- 29 games in fact -- and all it takes is winning six of seven and someone losing five of seven and suddenly, your place in the standings greatly improves.

For the O's, though, winning two of three at the very least against the Yankees is absolutely paramount. That would push New York back to 65 losses and send the O's to Tampa Bay and Detroit on a solid note. The Rays won't be a pushover in Tampa Bay next week, though. They just gave Boston fits at Fenway and are never an automatic win, despite not having many good players.

And that series in Detroit next weekend will now be supremely important for both teams, as the Tigers have worked their way back into playoff contention since the All-Star break.

The Stubbs-Bourn additions on Wednesday were nice efforts by Dan Duquette, but unfortunately neither of those guys represents the most pressing need for the Orioles which, of course, is another good starting pitcher. They're not easy to find this late in the season, which is another reason why the club should have invested in a quality arm last off-season rather than gambling on the crew they brought north from Sarasota last March.

Let's all admit something that we most certainly would rather keep to ourselves: Toronto is a really good team. On Monday and Wednesday in Baltimore, they looked (turn away from the page for a second, you won't like this) like a team that could win the whole thing in October. Their bullpen isn't spectacular, granted, but their offense is wildly impressive and their starting pitching is very solid.

Losing two of three to the Blue Jays isn't a disgrace. It's just that the O's needed to win two of three themselves -- and just couldn't do it.

Now, the crowds in Baltimore the last three nights? Disgraceful. But that's been covered already.

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ravens wrap up pre-season tonight with perriman set to debut against saints


Sometime shortly after 8:00 pm tonight, a monumental moment will occur in New Orleans, Louisana.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman is expected to play a game in the NFL after missing his rookie season (2015) with a knee injury.

Yes, I'm thinking the same thing you are: I'll believe it when I see it.

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This is still the most significant photo of Breshad Perriman's NFL career. That changes tonight when he finally steps on the field against the Saints.

It's true, evidently. Perriman has been cleared to play and will make his debut tonight against the Saints, where the Ravens look to finish off a perfect pre-season that has been mired with injuries.

The final pre-season game is usually the one where no one of any true value plays more than a series, but in New Orleans tonight, the Saints are going to play their starters for at least the first quarter, which will give John Harbaugh and his staff the chance to evaluate some of their rookies and "bubble players" against a group of legit NFL performers.

For the Ravens, the biggest moment will come when Perriman enters the fray. He hurt his knee on the first day of training camp in 2015 and never made it onto the field. He was brought along slowly in 2016 and has been a source of frustration with Ravens fans everywhere, but the team and front office have remained steadfast that he'll be a major contributor once he gets healthy.

Tonight, hopefully, we'll get to see a glimpse of that elite-receiver speed Perriman possesses.

A receiving corps of Perriman, Mike Wallace and Kamar Aiken -- along with whatever Steve Smith Sr. pitches in -- could be decent-to-good in the AFC North this season. Toss in Crockett Gillmore, Max Williams and, potentially, even Dennis Pitta, and all the sudden Joe Flacco has a handful of reputable folks to throw to this season.

Speaking of Flacco, it's quite possible at this point that he'll get in the huddle against the Bills on September 11 and be looking at two rookies who will protect his blind side, in Ronnie Stanley (tackle) and Alex Lewis (guard). Both have been superb in pre-season, and with Flacco not getting much game action in the pre-season, it will be especially important for those three to be in lock-step when the season kicks off in ten days.

Other questions loom with tonight's pre-season finale.

Can wide receiver Jeremy Butler produce another solid performance and secure an opening day roster spot?

Which defensive back benefits from Kyle Arrington's season-ending concussion?

Can defensive end Matt Judon continue his stellar pre-season and press the coaching staff for extended playing time in the regular season?

The fourth pre-season game in the NFL is usually a bore-fest, but tonight in New Orleans will be a little different.

Tonight, we get to see Breshad Perriman.

We'll get to see, hopefully, what all the excitement is about in Owings Mills.

It's certainly been a long time coming.

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tonight i see "the boss" for the 25th time


I'm not asking for a four-hour event tonight when Bruce Springsteen steps on stage at Nationals Park.

But that would be an awesome way to celebrate my 25th lifetime Springsteen show.

Earlier this week, Bruce and the E Street Band played a pair of four-hour shows in East Rutherford, NJ. I'm not expecting that this evening, but I'm looking forward to the whole experience nonetheless.

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After playing a pair of four-hour shows earlier this week in New Jersey, what tricks will Bruce Springsteen have up his sleeve tonight for the show at Nationals Park?

We're taking a busload of fellow Bruce nerds to the show, leaving Baltimore by luxury motor-coach at 4:00 pm. My great friends from Palmisano's of Baldwin are feeding everyone with their awesome subs and sandwiches and we'll be enjoying ice cold Harpoon Beer on the ride down I-95.

Oh, and there's even a pretty tough Springsteen trivia contest on the way to the show, complete with a $100 cash first prize.

Ready to play along in the trivia contest, at least for one question?

True or False? Springsteen once turned down $12 million from the Chrysler Corporation in exchange for their use of the song "Born in the USA" on TV and radio commercials.

I intentionally avoided peaking at the two set-lists from the New Jersey shows earlier this week, but I'm hoping to hear three songs tonight, two of which I might, and one that I'm quite certain I won't, unfortunately.

"Bobby Jean".

"My Love Won't Let You Down".

And my all-time favorite Springsteen song, "I'll Work For Your Love".

I have a decent chance to hear the first two above, but he has only played "I'll Work For Your Love" (from the 2007 "Magic" album) a handful of times in concert and tonight in D.C. doesn't strike me as one of those nights where he'll dust it off "just because".

I'd also love to hear "Roll of the Dice", but that's not happening either.

I'm just thrilled to be seeing Bruce again. I started pressing myself around 2011 or so to see him everytime he came around because I started to wonder how much longer he'd be doing these tours.

And with musician deaths happening regularly as the years go by, I'm always concerned that this show might the last time I see him. I guess if someone COULD live until he's 110 it would be the ageless man from Freehold, New Jersey, but at some point, the lights will go out and the stage will be empty.

It won't be empty tonight in D.C. though!

It's time to rock-n-roll with the E Street Band.

Oh, and the answer to the trivia question above? It's true, Bruce did turn down the Chrysler Corporation.

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O's SCOREBOARD
Sunday, October 1st
Orioles
0

Rays
6
WP: B. Bell (5-7)

LP: K. Gausman (11-12)

HR: Casali (1)

RECORD/PLACE: 75-87, 5th place
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.

breakfast bytes

NHL: Chiasson's two goals lead Caps to 5-3 win in Boston.

NBA: LeBron, Cavs win first showdown with Lakers and Ball, 121-112, as James records 59th career triple-double.

NFL: Broncos outlast Colts in Indy, 25-13, in Thursday Night snoozer.

MLB: Twins sign veteran closer Fernando Rodney to 1-year deal.