Saturday
August 15
2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 15

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machado's homer lift birds after britton's blown save

All it took was David Lough being DFA'd to wake up an Orioles offense that was no-hit two days earlier in Seattle. Talk about a scare tactic.

OK, so perhaps Lough's dismissal on Friday wasn't the catalyst for last night's offensive eruption and 8-6 win over the Oakland A's, but you have to believe all of these DFA's of veteran players have to be affecting someone on the roster. Manny Machado—he's one of the guys NOT worried about his job—finished things off with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Birds a much needed win on a night where virtually everyone else in the American League Wild Card chase lost. Machado's homer rescued Zach Britton, who entered the 9th inning with a 6-4 lead and coughed up two runs to send the game to extra innings.

So, here's the pressing question. Who's next? What player currently in that Orioles locker room might be getting the bad news sometime soon?

As hard as it is to believe given his amazing first half, Jimmy Paredes is the guy most likely to either develop a "sprained ankle" or get his DFA (designated-for-assignment) walking papers. In May, we were talking about the Orioles finding Paredes with the same fortune you'd find a needle in a haystack. Now, we're asking ourselves, "Is this dude EVER going to get another meaningful hit?" Paredes came on as a pinch hitter in last night's game and wound up getting a pair of at-bats, both of which resulted in strike-outs.

Jimmy Paredes
His sweet swing was well oiled in the first half of the season, but Jimmy Paredes has dropped off considerably over the last two months. Is he next on the O's chopping block?

In the season's first half, Paredes played in 68 games, hit 10 home runs, and produced a .299 batting average and a .332 on-base-percentage. Those are solid numbers. The Orioles thought they were on to something with Paredes, who doesn't have the greatest glove in the game but—at least in the first half—looked like a guy you'd want coming to the plate four or five times a night.

But the second half has told a different story on Paredes. And it's not a good one. He's played just 19 games, with no home runs, three doubles, and a .176 batting average to mesh with a woeful .211 OBP. You want the REAL ugly numbers? Paredes is 2-for-his-last-24, 9-for-his-last-60 and in his last 112 at-bats, he has 19—yes, 19—hits, with one home run and 5 RBI in that span. No one's asking him to be David Justice up there, but we'd like him to be a tad better than David Newhan. At this point, it's ugly.

Last night's 16-hit eruption, albeit in 13 innings, got the O's offense untracked, but none of those hits belonged to Paredes and, when he came to the plate twice in the late stages with the game on his bat, so to speak, he didn't put a ball in play, let alone get on base.

With the impending call up of Henry Urrutia from Norfolk, Paredes is likely the next guy with one of those curious but well-timed "injuries" or he'll just get his walking papers like Parmelee and Snider both did earlier this month. He might just be going through baseball's proverbial "rough patch," but something has clearly happened to Paredes once he made the trip through the American League. He can't get a hit, now, and is starting to look a little overwhelmed at the plate.

Lough, meanwhile, never really got it going in Baltimore in his two campaigns at Camden Yards. He tries hard and the girls like him because of his washboard abs, but he's paid to hit, and get on base, and those two things just weren't happening for him. Decent enough with the glove and fleet of foot kept him here into 2015, but with the O's offense struggling throughout the second half of the season—and two weeks or so before rosters expand to 40 players—Dan Duquette couldn't wait any longer. It wasn't Lough's fault the team got no-hit on Wednesday afternoon in Seattle, but you figured someone had to bear the brunt of that embarrassment and it turned out to be Lough.


SATURDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
C. BASSITT
(1-4, 2.48)
M. GONZALEZ
(9-8, 4.45)
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS



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weather delay halts pga championship but day still shines

A massive late-afternoon storm rolled through Kohler, Wisconsin on Friday and brought a sudden halt to second-round play in the PGA Championship, but we've seen enough to know what's going to shake down over the weekend. Jordan Spieth—who fired a second round 67 to vault himself up the leaderboard—is going to be right there come Sunday, Dustin Johnson will figure out a way to play the par 5's and get himself in contention, too, and Jason Day and Justin Rose are both playing great golf and primed to make a run at this major title.

Day, it seems, is the player most eager to rid himself of that "never won a major" tag. He's currently tied for the lead at 9-under-par and has to finish his final four holes of the second round early Saturday morning before embarking on his quest to finally have a weekend of glory that nets him a major championship. Fellow Australian Matt Jones is right there with him at -9, the typical unheralded, off-the-radar-screen kind of guy who routinely surfaces at the PGA. Rose (-8 thru 17), Harris English (-7 thru 15) and Tony Finau (-7 thru 13) will finish their second rounds, like Day, and then head back out for round three in the early afternoon on Saturday.

Matt Jones
The Australian we all expected (Jason Day) is right there, but so is this Aussie—Matt Jones.

Dustin Johnson was superb on Thursday with an opening round 66, but his habit of tossing in a clunker showed up again on Friday, as he bogeyed three of the easiest holes on the course and has fallen back to 5-under-par with three holes left to play in his second round. Spieth, meanwhile, returned a 67 on Friday, that saw him birdie five of his final 12 holes. Rory McIlroy produced his 2nd straight round of 71 to get through 36 holes at 2-under par, well inside the projected cut line of +2, but nowhere near close enough—yet—to be considered a weekend threat.

Some guy you've never heard of named Hiroshi Iwata became the 27th player in major championship history to shoot 63. No one has ever shot 62 in a major, that is unless you count Roy McAvoy's sparkling 62 in the second round of the U.S. Open during the movie "Tin Cup".

As for the guy who used to dominate major championships, Tiger Woods, he's likely headed home on Saturday morning unless he pulls off a mini-miracle and plays his final five holes in two under par. Woods, at +4, does have a couple of easy holes left, including a par-5, but these days he's just fortunate to make a par on a hole, let alone a couple of birdies down the stretch with his weekend survival on the line. Tiger is so desperate for FedEx Cup points and a spot in the opening playoff event at The Barclay's in a few weeks that he actually signed up to play in the Greensboro event next week. Tiger, lowering his standards to play in an event one week after a major—my, how the mighty have fallen.

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friday night in the american league

The Orioles helped themselves quite a bit on Friday night, as they made up ground on the Blue Jays, Angels and Rays with their 8-6 extra-innings win over Oakland at Camden Yards

Carlos Beltran
The ageless Carlos Beltran came up big for the Yankees last night, hitting a 3-run home run in the 8th inning to help give New York a come-from-behind 4-3 win in Toronto.

The Yankees pulled off the stunner of the night. They trailed David Price and the Blue Jays, 3-0, before scoring four times in the 8th inning—three of those runs coming on a Carlos Beltran home run—and escaping with a 4-3 win that ended Toronto's 11-game winning streak. The game featured a tense bottom of the 9th inning, as the Blue Jays had runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out, but Andrew Miller struck out Ben Revere and Troy Tulowitzki to end it and move the Yankees back into first place in the American League East.

Texas beat Tampa Bay, 5-3, while Kansas City rolled on, knocking off the L.A. Angels, 5-1. The Royals (69-51) have the best record in the American League and have opened a whopping 12-game lead in the A.L. Central.


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pope francis bus trip seats on sale now

In conjunction with the Baltimore Catholic Review, Drew’s Morning Dish is pleased to be organizing a one-day bus trip to Philadelphia on Sunday, September 27 to be part of Pope Francis’ visit to America. Pope Francis will conduct a late afternoon public mass on the 27th, and our buses will arrive in Philadelphia in mid-morning to give our pilgrims a chance to get settled in before mass.

Pope Francis waving

Buses will depart from various places in and around Baltimore, including as far away as Frederick and Davidsonville, Maryland.

Pilgrims making the trip with the Baltimore Catholic Review and #DMD will receive a seat on a luxury motor-coach to and from Philadelphia, a commemorative hat and rosary, and bottled water while on the bus and on location in downtown Philadelphia.

If you are interested in purchasing seats on our Philadelphia bus to see Pope Francis, go here → www.francisinphilly.org – You will see general information about the trip and a ticket-sales link (www.regonline.com/papalvisit). That sales link is the only way you can purchase tickets for the Pope’s visit through The Catholic Review and Drew’s Morning Dish.




Friday
August 14, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 14

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bo's eye view

ravens vs. saints pre-season opener

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

The final score of a preseason game is rarely the story, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more exciting finish than the Ravens’ 30-27 win over the Saints last night.

The 3,000-or-so dedicated souls who stayed at M&T Bank Stadium until the end saw Ravens' third-string quarterback Bryn Renner dive into the end zone on a rollout keeper for the game-winning touchdown with two seconds left to cap an 80-yard drive in the final two minutes.

The drive was extended when rookie tight end Maxx Williams hurdled a tackler and broke another tackle for an improbable 22-yard gain on fourth-and-20. You better believe coach John Harbaugh loved to see that effort in the final minute of a pre-season game.

Granted, Renner probably isn’t making this team, but hey, he’s got a highlight for the ages, and good for him. And if backup quarterback Matt Schaub doesn’t start playing better, who knows?

But before Renner’s game-winning drive, the Ravens had largely been spinning their wheels after jumping to a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

The good: The Ravens first-team offense was impressive, marching down the field on an effortless, 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Lorenzo Taliaferro (12 carries, 36 yards) hammered home a one-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-goal. Joe Flacco hardly broke a sweat, finishing five-for-six for 33 yards. The Ravens defense held the Saints offense—minus Drew Brees, mind you—to two straight three-and-outs to open the game. The Saints ran just six offensive plays in the first quarter.

The bad: When the starters left, the Ravens sputtered. Granted, Schaub did throw a nice 45-yard, catch-and-run touchdown to Michael Campanaro. But Schaub was also picked off once, although in his defense, receiver Jeremy Butler didn’t put up much of a fight to contest the catch by the Saints’ Damian Swann. And the Ravens defense gave up all of a two-touchdown lead—didn’t this happen in their last game, too?—and trailed 27-23 before Renner’s and Williams’ heroics in the last minute.

It’s worth noting that starting cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith did not play, nor did starting defensive linemen Chris Canty and Timmy Jernigan. So the Ravens defense was definitely short-handed, but this gave the coaching staff some good game-film of their young players.

And that, in fact, is much more important in pre-season Week One than the final score.

NOTES: Ravens backup TE Allen Reisner suffered a broken ankle or lower leg, Harbaugh said after the game. CB-KR Asa Jackson left the game with a knee injury. Jackson has dropped down the depth chart at cornerback, but was on the field as the team’s first kick-returner. Kamar Aiken appeared to tweak his ankle, left the game, and did not return. His injury didn’t appear to be serious. The Ravens will be holding joint practices with the Eagles for three days next week before meeting the Eagles in Philadelphia next Saturday night.


one day left to get the $215 price for our ravens trip to pittsburgh on oct. 1

If you’re thinking about making the trip to Heinz Field on October 1st to see the Ravens and Steelers, you still have one day left to save $25 on the #DMD price. We have room for 40 people on our bus to Pittsburgh, and 28 seats have been secured thus far. Twelve seats remain. If you purchase your seat(s) before close-of-business TODAY, you’ll pay just $215. On Saturday, the trip cost goes back to its regular price of $240.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fans on October 1st in Pittsburgh.

Our trip offers you a relaxing and comfortable ride on a luxury motor-coach, with only 40 of the 56 seats occupied. That gives you room to relax, stretch out and enjoy your ride to Pittsburgh. On the trip up, we’ll have lunch provided by our friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin, plus ice-cold Harpoon beer, water and soda, too. Tailgating is difficult in Pittsburgh due to the proximity of our bus drop-off to the stadium, but we’ll find a way to enjoy a cold refreshment together before everyone heads in for the 8:25 p.m. kick-off. Your game ticket(s) will be an upper-deck seat grouped with others from our bus trip. You will not be sitting alone.

This is a GREAT road game in Pittsburgh to attend. The weather should be sensational and the two teams always put on a special show when it’s a nationally-televised night game. October 1st should be no different. If you’d like to reserve a seat or seats on the bus, e-mail Drew right away: 18inarow at gmail dot com.

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orioles face critical 10-game homestand

You know me, I’m always looking at the schedule, checking out stretches of the season, putting wins and losses to them – and basically looking ahead to try to figure out how the Orioles can keep themselves in the American League playoff race.

At this point, here’s what the O’s need to start doing: winning. And by winning, I’m talking about winning eight of 10; 16 of 20; etc. They need to go on a run, and the perfect time to do that is right now, with the A’s (four games), Mets (two) and Twins (four) coming to town. Somehow, by hook or crook, the Birds need to go 8-2 in this stretch. If they do that, I can’t see how they’ll be any farther behind the Yankees and Angels in the Wild Card hunt. In fact, I think if they can go 8-2, they’ll gain ground on one or both of those teams.

The Birds just handled Oakland twice in three games on the West Coast, so it’s with no hesitation that I think “sweep” when the A’s show up here tonight. Here are the pitching match-ups with team edge included.

Date Team Pitcher Edge
Friday Athletics TBD
Orioles Jimenez X

Date Team Pitcher Edge
Saturday Athletics Bassitt X
Orioles Gonzalez

Date Team Pitcher Edge
Sunday Athletics Graveman
Orioles Chen X

Date Team Pitcher Edge
Monday Athletics Brooks
Orioles Tillman X


blue jays now 14-1 since tulo’s arrival

Toronto won again on Thursday, edging Oakland, 4-2, and winning their 11th game in a row and 14th in 15 tries since Troy Tulowitzki was acquired in a trade with Colorado before the end of July. Oddly enough, Tulo didn’t even play on Thursday, but the Jays didn’t need him, scoring four times in the 2nd inning and using a seven inning gem from Mark Buehrle to improve to 64-52 on the year and 39-21 at home.

The Yankees now head to Toronto for a three-game series with the Jays, facing David Price on Friday night, Marco Estrada on Saturday afternoon, and Drew Hutchison on Sunday afternoon.



FRIDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
J. CHAVEZ
(6-11, 3.73)
U. JIMENEZ
(9-7, 3.79)
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS


Logo Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
Behind
Yankees 62 - 51 49 +2 ½
Angels 60 - 54 48
Rays 58 - 56 48 2
Orioles 57 - 56 49 2 ½
Twins 57 - 57 48 3
Rangers 56 - 57 49 3 ½
Tigers 55 - 59 48 5


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no surprise at pga – dustin johnson leads at whistling straits

Just like I wrote when he led the at the midway point of the British Open, Dustin Johnson still has a lot of golf to play at Whistling Straits. But it’s no coincidence that D.J. is “there,” again, sitting atop the leaderboard at a major championship where the course looks like a perfect fit for him and his power-golf game. Johnson finished Thursday’s first round at 6-under 66, leading David Lingmerth by one shot and a host of others by two, including Jason Day, Matt Kuchar and Danny Lee.

Johnson started off going birdie-birdie (at #10 and #11), then eagled #16 and made birdies at #1 and #2 to dip to six under. Meanwhile Thomas Bjorn and Hideki Matsuyama hovered in the five- to six-under range for the better part of a couple of hours before both faded, Bjorn posting 69 and Matsuyama checking in at 70.

Reigning Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth played in the same group with Rory McIlroy on Thursday and they posted identical one-under 71’s, with playing partner and British Open titleist Zach Johnson at 75 filling out the threesome. Tiger Woods shot a first-round 75 and will now need a round likely in the 60’s on Friday to make the cut.

My pre-tournament pick to win, Rickie Fowler, got it to -3 at one point before making bogey at his 16th and 17th holes to shoot a disappointing 1-over par 73.

Quick Takes on Round One

Dustin Johnson — Showed he’s going to be tough to beat on a course with four par-5’s, as he went birdie, eagle, birdie, par on those holes in round one.

Rory McIlroy — Didn’t look like a guy who missed five weeks with a foot injury; got better as the round went on but a final-hole bogey left him tied with Spieth

Bubba Watson — Probably the surprise score of the day was Watson’s opening-round 72 in which he only birdied one of the four par-5’s. Can’t win like that.

Jason Day — In every major that rolls around, his name is near the top of the leaderboard; opening-round 68 puts him in great position.

Jordan Spieth — Got more out of his round than he deserved, but a couple of late birdies put him in the red, which always qualifies as a decent round in a major.

Tiger Woods — More of the same for Tiger, who simply didn’t play well enough to threaten shooting even-par. Birdied two of the par-5’s, but made bogey at two sub-400-yard par-4’s, #7 and #14.

Zach Johnson — The British Open champ hit it all over the map in round one and escaped with a 75 that leaves him in dire need of a huge round on Friday or he’ll be home for the weekend.

David Lingmerth — He’s had one heckuva summer and it might be getting better in a few days if he can match his Thursday performance a few more times. Hitting it close and making lots of putts. That’s a good combination.

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Thursday
August 13, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 13

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how will o’s rebound from
being no-hit?

There’s no sense in beating up the Orioles for Wednesday’s embarrassing no-hitter in Seattle. They’re humbled enough without having me go after them. Plus, it’s only one loss in the standings. Embarrassing, yes, but only one loss in the standings nonetheless. If you’ve followed the club at all this season, you can’t be completely surprised by yesterday’s turn of events. Over the last 50 games or so, the Birds have been a less than sound offensive team. Too many runners left on base, too many big innings squandered, and too many major league baseball players who look like minor leaguers at the plate. A handful of those guys—Snider, Parmelee, De Aza—are long gone, so it’s not like Dan Duquette has completely ignored the team’s woeful work at the plate. The facts are, though, that the Orioles just aren’t all that strong of an offensive team on a game-to-game basis.

Let’s go back to the no-hitter for a moment and give it a reality check. Imagine being four under par through 17 holes and making double bogey at the last hole to shoot 2-under. You would have felt WAY better about your round if you would have made double bogey at the first, then followed it up with four birdies, but the reality is—either way, you shot 2-under par. If the O’s would have been no-hit in the series opener at Oakland, then bounced back to go 4-5 on the trip, we would have been nodding in semi-approval. It’s not good being embarrassed like the O’s were yesterday, but it’s just a loss.

You want a silver lining from the trip? I’ll give you one. It wasn’t 2-7 or 1-8 … it was an almost-respectable 4-5 that included two extra-innings losses along the way. It was the kind of trip that could have decided a season. If the O’s would have won once in nine games, let’s say, they might be six or seven games back at this point and starting to fade. As it stands now, even with yesterday’s no-hit loss, they’re a four-game winning streak away—coupled with a few losses by the Angels, Jays or Yankees—from being in the lead for one of the wild-card spots.

The upcoming four-game home-series with Oakland is a chance for the birds to get fat, as the A’s limp into town with their season on life support and having just lost two of three to the Birds in Oakland last week. The recent road trip showcased the talents of the team’s three best offensive players; Jones, Davis and Machado, but also put a spotlight on the club’s lame bottom of the order. If the O’s are going to make a move in the playoff race, they’ll need more from the likes of Wieters, Paredes, Hardy, Schoop, Flaherty and Reimold. Schoop, actually, is the most reliable of those three at the plate these days, but his emergence has been offset by the woeful offensive campaign of Hardy and a recent tailspin authored by Reimold. I think the last time Ryan Flaherty got a hit, the Stanley Cup playoffs were still on TV. On any given night, the 7, 8 and 9 hitters combine to go 1-for-11 with five strikeouts. Davis, Jones and Machado (and Parra in a short sample size) are reliable; and that’s about it. And that’s not good enough to pass teams like Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Houston.

The one thing that the Orioles have going for them now—if they play their roster card right—is a bona fide bullpen that includes an ultra-secure duo of Darren O’Day (8th inning) and Zach Britton (9th) to sew up leads in the final two innings. It’s not quite Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, but it’s good enough to not be a concern for the Orioles going forward. Mychal Givens looks the part and Brad Brach has quietly put together a very good campaign in relief. If the Brian Matusz who pitched well in support of Chris Tillman on Tuesday night is the Brian Matusz Buck gets for the final 50 games, that’s all the more reason to like the Orioles’ chances come late September. If they can take a lead into the 7th inning, the Birds should win 85% of those games, maybe more. It’s getting a lead that has been an issue since the All-Star Break.

I’m not giving up on the O’s yet. Yes, yes, I know, they were no-hit yesterday, you don’t have to remind me, but they’re liable to pile on 21 runs against the A’s in the upcoming four-game series. I still think they have one more good run left that will propel them close enough to the A.L. East lead that it will make mid-September games VERY interesting. They still have two more series encounters with the Blue Jays AND Yankees, so they’ll get plenty of shots at the two teams ahead of them over the next seven weeks. I’ll admit, Toronto’s two big trade-deadline picks-up (Tulowitzki and Price) look like they’re game-changers for the Blue Jays, but there are plenty of ways to sneak into the post-season, win a Wild Card game, and go to the World Series. Just ask the two teams who made it last year, Kansas City and San Francisco. That’s how they got there.


two days left to get the $215 price for our ravens trip to pittsburgh on oct. 1

If you’re thinking about making the trip to Heinz Field on October 1st to see the Ravens and Steelers, you still have two days left to save $25 on the #DMD price. We have room for 40 people on our bus to Pittsburgh, and 28 seats have been secured thus far. Twelve seats remain. If you purchase your seat(s) before close of business this Friday, August 14, you’ll pay just $215 instead of the regular price of $240. Beginning this Saturday, the trip cost goes back to $240.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fans on October 1st in Pittsburgh.

Our trip offers you a relaxing and comfortable ride on a luxury motor coach, with only 40 of the 56 seats occupied. That gives you room to relax, stretch out and enjoy your ride to Pittsburgh. On the trip up, we’ll have lunch provided by our friends at Palmisano’s of Baldwin, plus ice-cold Harpoon beer, water and soda, too. Tailgating is difficult in Pittsburgh due to the proximity of our bus drop-off to the stadium, but we’ll find a way to enjoy a cold refreshment together before everyone heads in for the 8:25 p.m. kick-off. Your game ticket(s) will be an upper deck seat grouped with others from our bus trip. You will not be sitting alone.

This is a GREAT road game in Pittsburgh to attend. The weather should be sensational and the two teams always put on a special show when it’s a nationally-televised night game. October 1st should be no different. If you’d like to reserve a seat or seats on the bus, e-mail Drew right away: 18inarow at gmail dot com.

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a spieth win at the pga would be legendary stuff

His chance for the grand-slam came up a stroke short at the British Open, but Jordan Spieth can still put the capper on a remarkable, historical season in golf if he can pull off a win at this week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Jordan Spieth
Chasing after his third major of the year, Jordan Spieth looks to enter some very rare company this week at the PGA.

Winning major titles in golf is hard, capturing two of them within a five-month span is even more difficult. Over the last twenty years in golf there have only been a handful of players who have won two majors in a single season. The list is quite small; much smaller than you might think. How about this? Since 1995, only FIVE players have won two majors in the same season; Mark O’Meara (1998), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2005, 2006), Padraig Harrington (2008), Rory McIlroy (2014) and – Spieth, who won this year’s Masters and U.S. Open.

OK, so the two-wins-in-a-season air is rare, but it’s been done a bunch. What HASN’T been done a lot is THREE major wins in a season. Woods did it in 2000 when he won the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA. No one else has done it since, and only one other professional—Ben Hogan in 1953—has won three majors in a year. Woods and Hogan, the (unlikely) dynamic duo. Woods, powerful and magnetic, with a remarkable penchant for holing key putts, and Hogan, elegant and stand-offish, who thought a well-struck iron shot from 160 yards to three feet should count more than a holed 3-foot putt. That there, Hogan and Woods, is elite company and only Jordan Spieth has a chance at joining those two this week at the PGA. Should he win, that would give him as many career majors (3) as Vijay Singh, Nick Price, Padraig Harrington and the late Payne Stewart, each of whom captured three in their respective careers. Spieth, with a win at Whistling Straits, would do it over the course of five months—some of those guys took 10 to 15 years to accumulate their three major titles. That’s perspective on what Spieth has accomplished thus far in 2015.

I’ve been saying this about him all season long: It’s NOT a fluke, this season Spieth’s having. He’s a remarkable player, particulary given that he’s not wildly impressive off the tee and he’s not a guy prone to ball-striking rounds that leave him with six kick-ins on the greens the way Woods would have done it back his run of the early 2000’s. Spieth IS a great putter, yes, but he’s also very, very streaky. He’ll have an off tournament with the flat-stick every now and then, but by and large his excellent putting rounds far outnumber his poor ones.

Lastly, like fellow Texan Hogan was, Spieth’s a thinker. He’s not afraid to lay back and turn a 150 yard shot into a 185 yard shot because he knows he can flush his 7-iron to 10-feet regardless of giving up 35 yards off the tee. His short game is excellent, which requires a quiet mind and lots of creativity, and his approach to major golf is one of a plodder who takes what the course gives him. If it’s the Masters and he needs to make 22 birdies to win, he can do that. If it’s the U.S. Open and four days worth of pars and a dozen birdies will do the trick, he can make that happen, too. He’s not going to overpower Whistling Straits, but he might outmaneuver it.

If you’re a fan of golf history, you’re rooting for Spieth this week. He’s an easy guy to support, and not just because of his connection to Baltimore via his association with apparel king, Under Armour. He plays the game the way you would want your son or daughter to play it. He shows up on the first tee, smiles, shakes your hand, and gets down to business. Along the way, he hits some great shots and reacts as if he hasn’t done anything special. When he hits a bad shot, there’s nothing coming out of him that’s going to show up later on Deadspin. He’s a pro’s pro—and on the verge of making golf history at age 22.

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o’s don’t hit – or score – in 3-0 loss to mariners

Hisashi Iwakuma threw the fourth no-hitter in baseball this season on Wednesday afternoon, striking out seven and walking three as Seattle blanked the Orioles, 3-0. The loss drops the Birds to 57-56 on the season and 25-36 on the road.

Iwakuma
It's been a tough season for the Mariners, but Hisashi Iwakuma has continued to be a bright spot.

Baltimore was no-hit for the seventh time in franchise history and the first since Boston's Clay Buchholz did it in 2007. The Orioles' best chance at getting to Iwakuma came in the fourth inning after Manny Machado walked to lead off and Gerardo Parra chopped a grounder in the hole between first baseman Mark Trumbo and second baseman Robinson Cano. Quickly moving to his left, Cano tracked down the grounder in shallow right field and threw across his body to get Parra at first.

Kevin Gausman got the start for the O’s and was decent enough, going seven full innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. He struck out eight, walked two, and certainly pitched well enough to deserve a better fate. Then again, there’s not much you can do when your team doesn’t get a hit for you. Brian Matusz worked a scoreless eighth inning for the Birds.


— — NO GAME THURSDAY — —
FRIDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
J. CHAVEZ
(6-11, 3.73)
U. JIMENEZ
(9-7, 3.79)
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS


Logo Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
Behind
Yankees 61 - 51 50 +2 ½
Angels 59 - 54 49
Rays 58 - 56 48 1 ½
Orioles 57 - 56 49 2
Twins 57 - 56 49 2
Rangers 55 - 57 50 3 ½
Tigers 55 - 59 48 4 ½
Primary Residential banner



Wednesday
August 12, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 12

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contrary to the belief of some, you can call a “bad trade” a “bad trade”

In yesterday’s edition of #DMD, I authored a piece about Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, who has now put together two excellent seasons in the Windy City after being traded by the Orioles back on July 2, 2013.

I didn’t bash Dan Duquette, call him a “horrible” GM or ask for his termination because the Cubs got the better end of the deal that sent Arrieta and Pedro Strop to Chicago for Scott Feldman. In fact, the piece was much more about how Arrieta has finally blossomed into a legitimate major league pitcher after a few years of laboring with control problems in Baltimore. Strop was no great loss … and I barely referenced him in the piece yesterday. Feldman came and went faster than the Caps stay in the playoffs every spring and Arrieta left Baltimore and became a real pitcher in Chicago. That’s the crux of the story. It turned out to be a huge win for the Cubs and a bad trade by the Orioles.

Andy MacPhail
Not all of Andy MacPhail's deals were productive, but remember him the next time Chris Davis hits another home run for the Orioles.

Our in-house instigator, commenter “pgav,” fired off a lengthy reply to the piece in yesterday’s “Comments” section and while he never mentioned me, specifically, he uses terms and words like “experts,” “idiots” and “non baseball watchers” to dance around the element of actual finger-pointing and naming names. In short, his claim was that no one knew Jake Arrieta would turn into an excellent pitcher and, therefore, you can’t really cry about the deal, two years later. On this planet, of course, evaluating trades for better or worse is what EVERYONE does. How you go about it might be subject to discussion, but it’s perfectly reasonable to take a look at any trade in sports and say, “Did that deal work out for us or not?”

Is there anyone in Texas who thinks the 2011 trade that brought them Koji Uehara for Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis was a “good deal” for the Rangers? Uehara wasn’t much of a factor in Texas, while Hunter and Davis turned into big-time contributors for the Orioles. Hunter’s tenure ended two weeks ago when he was sent to the Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake, but Davis has emerged as one of the American League’s best power hitters over the last three years and will command a multi-year deal in the range of $100 million or more this off-season. Uehara is in the November of his career in Boston these days and was just shut down for the season due to injury. As much as the deal to send Arrieta to Chicago was a flop, the trade with the Rangers for Davis and Hunter was a remarkable deal for the Birds.

The facts about Jake Arrieta are simple to recall. While in Baltimore, he showed flashes of brilliance, but on more occasions than not, he was wild, ineffective and certainly not representative of a fifth-round draft pick. The team finally gave up on him, shipped him to Chicago, and there, over the last two seasons, he has become an outstanding pitcher. Would he being doing that in the American League? That’s a great question. He had that chance for a few years and couldn’t get the job done, so the Orioles assumed he had run his course. It’s no secret that it’s easier to pitch well in the National League than it is in the American League, but that in no way changes the fact that the Orioles gave up on a guy who has blossomed into a terrific pitcher in exchange for a guy (Feldman) who hung around three months and then left the club for Houston.

No matter what any so-called “armchair general manager” wants to tell you, that’s the truth. It doesn’t make Dan Duquette a bad general manager. It just means he whiffed on a deal with the Cubs a couple of years ago, that’s all.


a gentle reminder about #dmd corporate partners

If you’re a longtime reader of #DMD, you know by now I like to do this once every month or so. “This” is, simply, reminding you about our outstanding corps of corporate partners we’ve assembled here at Drew’s Morning Dish and asking you to support them whenever the chance presents itself. As we approach our one-year anniversary here, it remains critical that our group of corporate partners is appreciated for their involvement with this website.

Like most of you, I’m a daily reader of the internet and have several “favorites” bookmarked on my browser. I’m constantly being hit with ads, pop-ups, videos and other assorted reminders of corporate sponsors who have pledged their support to a company or product through innovative website marketing. While we haven’t gone down the sophisticated road of pop-ups and videos, for example, we’re certainly hoping you’ll take a minute each day (that’s literally ALL it takes) to check out the corporate partners who have ads on the right side and within the content itself here at #DMD. Best of all, if you do seek them out, our list of corporate partners will go above and beyond the call of duty for you.

We have a diverse group of corporate partners here. If you’re in need of a new bank, please give my friends at SECU a chance to earn your trust. I switched over to SECU 28 months ago and couldn’t be happier. Everything we do these days somehow involves our computers, whether it’s at the office, at home or on our laptops. When your computer needs service, ranging from general clean-up to major repair, please consult with Novak’s Computer Services for the work that needs to be done. John Novak will personally handle your job and make sure you’re satisfied. If you’re in need of a high-quality plumber, please call Chris Saffer and Saffer Plumbing, our local plumbing experts who have made many a trip to the Forrester household over the years. Four years ago, Vic Biscoe at Primary Residential Mortgage cut EIGHT YEARS off of my mortgage and our re-financing effort saved my family roughly $100,000! Check in with Vic and see if he can help you, too!

One of the best things about doing business with ABC Rental of Rosedale is once you’re finished using their piece of equipment, you return it to them and they store it, they keep it and they continue to own it. You merely rent it from them, whether it’s a wood chipper, wet-vac or snow blower. Craig Creamer runs ABC Rental of Rosedale and he’ll be happy to help you with your equipment rental needs. Need Heating and Air Conditioning support and/or maintenance at home or work? We have an awesome LOCAL company on our team here at #DMD—Advanced Heating and Cooling, located right in Reisterstown and available for your emergency on a moment’s notice. If your business is in need of a new (or improved) piece of office equipment—printers, copiers, scanners, etc.—Shawn Shannon will take care of it for you at Unison Business Solutions.

Joe Orlando of Orlando Products has built one of the nation’s top packaging companies right over near Lansdowne. If you own a business that requires a mass-packaging project, Orlando will handle it all with great care and success. Our preferred commercial bonding company is CSI Bonds, with Len Callahan on call to make sure your next development project is safely bonded and insured. Doug Gorius, Attorney at Law, can handle any of your tax or financial legal issues, including bankruptcy. No one likes to be involved in a legal issue—that’s why it’s important to turn to an experience professional like Doug Gorius and get him on YOUR side right away. City Wide Maintenance, Chick fil-A of White Marsh, Royal Farms—all three are #DMD partners you can literally use EVERY day. Your morning coffee and gas fill-up can be handled by Royal Farms, of course. Steve Pavlosky at Chick fil-A of White Marsh would love to see you in his store on Campbell Blvd. at lunchtime. Tell him you’re a #DMD reader and watch him smile from ear-to-ear. He is, too!

Robbie’s First Base will take care of your sports memorabilia needs. We encourage you to visit and support the Bowie Baysox, who offer an outstanding family product at very reasonable prices as the Orioles Double-A affiliate. Harpoon Beer is the “Official Beer” of #DMD and one that we enjoy on all of our sports trips throughout the year. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home or property, please turn to Frank Locke at Chase, Fitzgerald Realtors. He’ll guide you through the whole process with great care and a smile on his face! Dave Larkin of the Baltimore Tent Company is where you turn for all of your tent and canopy needs. If your next event requires a large catering effort, consider using Palmisano’s of Baldwin, where #DMD goes for our large-scale sub and sandwich needs.

Finally, our Signature Corporate Partner at Drew’s Morning Dish is Jerry’s Toyota-Scion on Bel Air Road, just north of Beltway exit 32 near the corner of Bel Air and Rossville Blvd. Whether your vehicle needs are new or pre-owned, Jerry’s Toyota-Scion has everything you need, on site, or they’ll help you find it elsewhere and get it delivered for you. Service and maintenance of your vehicle is handled by Jerry’s as well … it really IS a one-stop shop for you and your family.

It’s important to me that you’re aware of everyone who makes #DMD a reality, and the partners you’ve just read about are the very reason we exist here. If you have the opportunity to patronize them, please do. They’re all people and companies I know personally and/or use for my family’s needs. I promise you—you’ll be pleased with the work they do for you, too.

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birds lose extra innings heartbreaker in seattle

Presented with the opportunity to pick up ground on both the Angels and Yankees, the Birds rebounded from a 5-2 deficit to send Tuesday's game in Seattle to extra-innings. It was the kind of win the O's desperately needed, particularly against an under-achieving Mariners club that seems ripe for the pickin' these days. Alas, it didn't work out for Buck Showalter's club, as the hosts loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th inning and promptly scored the game-winning run on an Austin Jackson single to post a 6-5 victory.

The record will show T.J. McFarland as the losing pitcher, but it was Chris Tillman's woeful start that set the table for the loss to the Mariners. Tillman gave up four runs in the first inning, a single run in the second, and couldn't make it out of the third, handing the ball over to Brian Matusz with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. Matusz escaped that jam to keep the Birds in the game and gave the club 2.1 innings of excellent work on his own. Adam Jones (#19) and Chris Davis (#31) would homer later on to the game at 5-5 and the O's had the potential winning run on 2nd with one out in the 9th, only to see to Nolan Reimold and Manny Machado both strike out.



Logo Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
Behind
Blue Jays 62 - 53 47 +2
Angels 59 - 53 50
Orioles 57 - 55 50 2
Rays 57 - 56 49 2.5
Twins 56 - 56 50 3
Rangers 55 - 56 51 3.5
Tigers 54 - 59 50 5.5


baseball history was made on tuesday night

Only the historians and gamblers will be interested in this, but it's a pretty remarkable statistic from Tuesday night in Major League Baseball.

For the first time in Major League history when all 30 teams played on the same day, EVERY HOME TEAM won. That's right, not one road team won a game yesterday.



FRIDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
K. GAUSMAN
(2-3, 4.56)
H. IWAKUMA
(3-2, 4.41)
3:40 PM EST
SAFECO FIELD


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drew’s two favorite fantasy golf teams for this week’s pga championship

If you’re playing one of the popular internet-based fantasy golf sites this week, you might need some help compiling your team and keeping it under the $50,000 roster limit. Worry no more. I’ve put together two teams for your use this week. These teams are so good, I’m playing them in MY pay-for-play fantasy league.

PLAYER COMMENT
FIRST TEAM
Rickie Fowler Expect him to be near the top, making birdies.
Paul Casey Cut-makers are important. Casey is one of those.
Zach Johnson Drives it straight, flushes his irons, knows how to win.
Webb Simpson Very consistent, a perfect fit for a major.
Bubba Watson Lost in a playoff at Whistling Straits in 2010, ready to win now.
David Lingmerth Having a phenomenal summer of 2015, a true “sleeper.”
SECOND TEAM
Jordan Spieth Need a reason? I didn’t think so.
Henrik Stenson Has to win a major soon, might be this week.
Danny Lee Playing as well as anyone over the last two months.
Kevin Na Stats-wise, he’s a stud. Just needs to win.
Steve Stricker Don’t let his age (48) fool you. He can still play.
Cameron Tringale Very steady and ready for “the next level.”

Kevin Na
Kevin Na has been steady all year and is a solid choice for your fantasy golf team this week.

baltimore junior golf tour showcases area's best young golfers

The Baltimore Junior Golf Tour wraps up its season next week with its final two "tour stops" – Monday at Mount Pleasant and Tuesday at Pine Ridge. The tour, featuring four age classifications for ages 5 through 17, holds weekly tournaments throughout the summer, rotating through each of Baltimore's "Classic Five" municipal courses – Clifton Park, Carroll Park, Forest Park, Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge.

This past Monday at Clifton Park, Ronak Patel shot a 5-over 76 to win the boys championship division event (ages 15-17), edging Michael Waugh by one shot. It was Patel's first BJGT title of the season.

In the boys flight of the sport division (ages 12-14), contested over nine holes, Matt Smolka picked up his third win of the year with a season-best 39. That was 2-over on the par-37 layout at Clifton Park. Meanwhile, in the girls sport division, Rhianna Stitt remained undefeated, winning for the seventh straight week with a 5-over-par 42, one shot better than Megan Miguel.

Christopher Kilduff (3-over 40) and Chiara Hollingshead (14-over 51) won the boys and girls flights, respectively, in the player division for ages 9-11.

Next Friday, Aug. 21, the tour will hold Tim Sanders Junior Golf Day at Forest Park. The event, renamed in memory of Sanders, the former Forest Park PGA pro who died this past spring, is open to all junior golfers who took part in any junior golf program at one of the Classic Five courses. Junior golfers will enjoy a complementary 9-hole round, and parents can play for $17.50, with a shotgun start beginning at 2:00 p.m. There will also be skills competitions, refreshments and prizes, along with tour end-of-season awards. For more information, check out classic5golf.com or contact the pro shop at one of the courses.

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Tuesday
August 11, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 11

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it’s finally rickie fowler’s turn to break through

There are lots of names—maybe 20, at least—that I could have picked to win this week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. In fact, I’ll probably figure out a way to weave all 20 of them into a handful of teams in my pay-for-play fantasy golf league.

They’re the usual suspects. Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott—any of those guys can win this week, for sure.

Rickie Fowler
The flashy clothes on Rickie Fowler used to be all you'd notice, but not anymore. He's a big-time player now.

But … Rickie Fowler is going to win the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. It’s already been a breakthrough year for Fowler, who triumphed at The Players, which is as close as you can get to winning a major without actually capturing one. His game has ascended to the ranks of “always a threat” thanks to a swing change authored by Butch Harmon a few years back that has him swinging the club much more upright and down the line. He’s made the cut in 13 of the 16 PGA Tour events he’s entered this season and has five finishes in the Top 5.

Most importantly with Fowler, it’s simply his time to win a major. He’s ready, able and well within his rights to expect to win at Whistling Straits. Part of the puzzle up-and-coming players have to figure out is not only how to win a major, but crossing over to a new area where they expect to win. Tiger obviously had that in overflow a decade ago and Mickelson did, too. It’s not an easy thing to learn, but Fowler SHOULD be at the point now where he enters a tournament and says, “I should win this week if I play up to my capabilities.” He’s that good.

He has the length to compete at Whistling Straits, averaging 297 yards off the tee in the 2014-2015 PGA Tour campaign. While his accuracy numbers aren’t great (he hits 63% of the fairways), his putting data continues to improve and the intangible—being in the hunt, hitting big shots and making key putts—works in his favor now after a few years of being the fair-haired runner-up.

Tomorrow here at #DMD, I’ll give you three fantasy-golf rosters (using the $50,000 player limit) for your consideration this week.


speaking of golf, we have one spot left on our phoenix golf/ravens trip in october

Cardinals logo

We’ve put together a really awesome trip to Phoenix this October 23 to 27, and it just so happens to include four great days of golf and a Monday-night football game between the Ravens and Arizona Cardinals. We’ll be taking 16 of us out there—and I’m looking for one more team of two to join us. You and your golfing partner will share a room at our Phoenix-area resort and team up for four days (five rounds) of golf against others in our group. Any golf handicap is acceptable. We’re traveling with players ranging from handicaps of scratch to 20, so don’t worry about what you think you might shoot. It’s about golf, golf, golf—and football. The package includes round-trip airfare from Baltimore to Phoenix, four nights in our hotel, four days of golf, an upper-reserve ticket to the Monday night Ravens/Cardinals game, and a lot of great fellowship and fun. It’s $1395 per-person.

If you’re interested, please send Drew an e-mail today: 18inarow at gmail.com.

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davis, chen lead birds to 3-2 win at seattle

The Orioles started their 3-game series in Seattle with a 3-2 victory on Monday night, as Chris Davis (#30) and Adam Jones (#18) both homered to support the pitching of Wei-Yin Chen, who won for just the second time since July 1st.

Jones homered in the first inning, Davis put Baltimore on top with a RBI single in the 4th, then extended the O's lead to 3-1 with a home run to centerfield in the 6th. Chen worked 7.1 innings, finally giving way to a rested Zach Britton, who worked 1.2 innings for the save. Seattle scored their second run in the bottom of the ninth when Caleb Joseph's passed ball on strike three to Austin Jackson (with two outs) allowed Franklin Gutierrez to reach home plate.

Five of Baltimore's nine starters went hitless on Monday night; Parra, Hardy, Lake, Schoop and Lough. Hardy's average dipped to .235 with his 0-for-3 performance, lowering his on-base percentage to a woeful .264 at the same time. Newcomer Junior Lake got the start in left field and went 0-for-4. He's now hitting .125 in Baltimore.

Prior to the game, the Birds placed pitcher Chaz Roe on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis and recalled Mychael Givens.


a.l. wild card standings
top two teams qualify


LOGO TEAM RECORD G.R. G.B.
Blue Jays 61 - 52 49 +1
Angels 59 - 52 51
Orioles 57 - 54 51 2
Rays 56 - 56 50 3.5
Rangers 55 - 55 52 3.5
Twins 55 - 56 51 4
Tigers 54 - 58 50 5.5




TUESDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
at
SEATTLE MARINERS
C. TILLMAN
(8-7, 4.35)
T. WALKER
(8-7, 4.67)
10:10 PM EST
SAFECO FIELD




arrieta blossoms into an ace, much to o’s chagrin

If you haven’t paid much attention to the developing career of Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, you’re probably going to be quite surprised with what you’re about to read. The erstwhile Oriole, quite simply, has emerged as one of the top right handers in the entire National League over the last two seasons.

Jack Arrieta
Once a highly prized O's prospect, Jake Arrieta is finally showing all of that promise—but in Chicago, not Baltimore.

Arrieta was a 5th-round pick of the Orioles back in 2007 and was drafted with great promise out of TCU and Weatherford College (TX). He had a plus fast-ball, a dancing breaking ball that made hitters look foolish, and a very public helping of bravado that really made him “look the part.” There were times during the early stages of his Orioles tenure when it all came together and the club—and its fans—would salivate with anticipation for what the future might hold. Sadly, hitters started to salivate, too, as Arrieta’s command became iffy, his fastball flattened out and things officially took a turn for the worse in 2013 when he made five starts and carried an ERA of 7.23 along with an embarrassing WHIP (walks and hits allowed per-inning) of 1.775.

Dan Duquette and the Orioles gave up on him on July 2, 2013, as they dealt Arrieta and relief pitcher Pedro Strop to the Cubs in exchange for Scott Feldman, who would spend only three months with the club before signing in Houston as a free agent in the winter of 2013. It would turn out to be an awful trade for the Orioles.

Arrieta finished 9th in National League Cy Young voting a season ago, going 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA and a remarkable WHIP of 0.989. Gone was the trademark wildness that plagued him in Baltimore. He struck out 167 batters last season and walked just 41 in 25 starts. Some assumed it was a fluke. The National League, they said, can do that to a pitcher. All he’s done this season is more of the same, as the Cubs—sparked by the arrival of manager Joe Maddon—have worked their way into playoff contention thanks in large part to a superb campaign-to-date from Arrieta. He’s currently 13-6 with a 2.38 ERA and his WHIP continues to dwell under the magic 1.0 mark at 0.991.

Teams give away prospects at the deadline all the time. It’s part of the gamble that accompanies making a post-season run, something the Orioles didn’t do at all from 1998 through 2011. Finally breaking through in 2012 with a Wild Card berth, a one-game win over Texas and an excruciating 5-game loss to the Yankees in the ALDS, Duquette had a responsibility to the fan base to try to duplicate that success in 2013. It didn’t work. The club sputtered in the second half, missed the playoffs, and to make matters worse, Feldman signed elsewhere in the off-season. And now, Arrieta has exploded in Chicago, moving to the top of their rotation and earning the “ace” label while the Orioles still try to produce one of their own, now two full years later.

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bo's eye view

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

good for steve smith sr.

Good for Smith that he is walking away from the game on his terms, with peace of mind, no regrets and the desire to spend more time with his family. Good that he's leaving while he knows he can still play, and that he won't be one of those players who hangs on too long (ahem, Ed Reed …).

Steve Smith
Few players in Ravens history have become fan favorites as quickly as Steve Smith. He is treasured by the team's loyal supporters.

And good for the Ravens that they will get one more season with this feisty, outstanding receiver who quickly became the emotional heart of the offense upon his arrival in Baltimore.

Smith on Monday announced that this coming season, his 15th in the NFL, will be his last.

"I’m retiring after this (season)," Smith said. "Go home and be Dad, look back and enjoy things. I just feel like it’s time. My body feels great, but not everybody gets the opportunity to kind of have this opportunity. I feel like God has given it to me, so I’m going to take it.”

It has been a remarkable run for a 5-foot-9 spark plug who was the 74th player taken in the 2001 draft, selected in the third round by the Carolina Panthers. (To put it in perspective, Joe Flacco was a high-school sophomore when Smith was drafted.)

Smith spent 13 season with the Panthers, but when they released him in a somewhat messy divorce, the Ravens pounced. And Baltimore proved to be a perfect landing spot for him. One year after trading Anquan Boldin, the Ravens found themselves sorely in need of some swagger and bravado on offense, and Smith—who has been known to taunt opponents and teammates alike—quickly brought both, along with Pro Bowl credentials.

The Panthers might have been worried about Smith's declining production in his mid-30s, but he didn't show that with the Ravens last season; in his first season in Baltimore, Smith led the team in both catches (79) and receiving yards (1,065). That, by the way, was his eighth 1,000-yard season.

“He’s going out playing at the top of the game,” coach John Harbaugh said.

And don't think Smith doesn't still love the game. When many veterans sat out voluntary OTA workouts this spring, there was Smith, who turned 36 in May, running around in the heat with players 10 years younger, making tough catches and finishing them with his trademark ball spin.

Smith, Harbaugh said, will "force you to practice every single day, or he is going to humiliate you. It’s as simple as that. He’s going to force you to bring your ‘A’ game, or you’re going to look really bad, and he doesn’t apologize for that."

It's been that way for 14 years, and it will be that way for one more.

"I’m not really a big gambler or whatever, but now, just all my chips are on the table," Smith said. "So, we’re going to see what the dealer gives me.”


who's going to pittsburgh with us on oct. 1 for ravens vs. steelers?

Ravens Steelers logo

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally-televised 8:25 p.m. game between the Ravens and Steelers. We leave Baltimore at 12:30 p.m and arrive in Pittsburgh about 5:00 p.m. We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches to take with us when we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but we'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip).

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fans on October 1st in Pittsburgh.

We're now taking reservations for the trip. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale.

I'll offer everyone an early-bird discount of $25 until Friday, August 14. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $240. Just reserve your seat(s) on the trip before August 14 and you'll pay $215 instead of $240.

How do you reserve your seat on the Steelers trip? E-mail me directly – 18inarow at gmail.com – and let me know how many seats you want. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.

UPDATE: We have reservations for 17 seats thus far. Only 23 remain.

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Monday
August 10, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 10

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pga championship gives woods final shot at glory in 2015

For years, the PGA Championship, golf’s final major of the year, has been the one most folks tend to diminish. The field includes 20 club professionals who earned their way into the event via the PGA Professional National Championship, so experts argue the tournament doesn’t contain the strongest roster of participants. I’m jaded, but I think the inclusion of club pros is a great touch. I know two Baltimore-area PGA members, Mark Evenson and Dave Hutsell, who have played in the PGA Championship, and it’s a great reward for guys like them who work in golf’s trenches, teaching the sport, running the shop, etc. Much like the everyday man can earn his way into the U.S. Open via local and sectional qualifying, so too can the PGA professional play his way into HIS national championship. I love it.

The experts ARE right, though. The inclusion of 20 club professionals waters down the field, but that doesn’t change the fact that the PGA is a major, and the player who wins the event goes down in history as a major champion. Obscure guys like Mark Brooks, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel and Y.E. Yang have won it, and greats like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have also captured PGA titles. When the tournament gets played, the course has no idea which player is hitting the ball, making putts, and so on. The lowest score wins. It could even be a PGA pro who wins someday. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Tiger Woods
Tiger would love to silence his critics this week with a win at Whistling Straits.

Speaking of “being cool,” wouldn’t it be awesome to see Woods in contention this week at Whistling Straits? If you’re a Tiger hater, your answer to that is, “not in the least.” But it would be great for the game of golf if Woods somehow put together 54 holes of solid golf and played his way into contention for Sunday’s final round. I’m not counting on it, mind you. Tiger hasn’t won a golf tournament since 2013 and, if we look at it honestly, hasn’t had a chance to win one since then, either. It would be one thing if Tiger had worked his way into contention and failed several times over the last two seasons. We’d then likely subscribe to the theory of, “it’s going to happen at some point soon, you just know it.” But his last two seasons have been dreadful, and his 2015 performance is likely to leave him OUT of the upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs, unless he produces some magic this week at the PGA Championship. Imagine that—Tiger Woods unable to participate in golf’s cash-cow-playoff-series because he isn’t one of the top 144 money earners. Wow!

Unless he has found a cure for his disobedient driver, it’s unlikely Woods will contend this week at Whistling Straits. It’s a course that requires a moderate degree of driving distance AND accuracy, and Tiger’s data over the last few years has revealed a sharp decline in both those areas. While trying to hit it straighter, he’s lost his length (compared to the big hitters on Tour like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, et al.). And when he does try to air one out and add some distance, he can’t keep the golf ball in the fairway. It’s a bad combination, one that has plagued him for a long time, but in his past, a remarkable short game and almost mystical putting ability paved the way to 14 major championships between 1997 and 2008.

Those in Tiger’s inner circle have hinted over the last few years that his back-nine loss to Y.E. Yang in the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine was a defeat from which Woods never recovered. True, it was the first time someone ever came back on HIM and turned the tables to wrest away a golfing major, but anyone in an advice-offering position to Tiger should have reminded him that he wasn’t going to go his entire career without being run down by a surging player. Still, Yang’s upset win in 2009 was the last we’ve heard from Tiger in major-championship competition. Wouldn’t it be ironic if Tiger’s return to glory came at this year’s PGA?

His play at the Quicken Loans National two weeks ago was inspiring. Woods made the cut and was on the first page of the leaderboard when play began Saturday morning, but a third-round 74 ended any hopes of Tiger winning at Robert Trent Jones GC in Northern Virginia. It was, though, the best he’s played for four days in 2015 … tournament-wise, that is. Could that carry over to this week’s PGA? I doubt it. RTJ is an easy golf course for the professionals to navigate. Whistling Straits is not. In 2010 Woods shot 71-70-72-73 to finish in a tie for 28th place. That year, the cut was +2 (146). Just for kicks and giggles, let’s bump it up and say this year’s cut is +3. Can Tiger shoot three-over-par for 36 holes at Whistling Straits, given the current condition of his game? I don’t think so. I’d love to see him contend. I’d be over-the-moon with excitement if he entered the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win. Sadly, I think he shoots 73-75 and misses the cut.

I’d love to be wrong.


join #dmd on sept. 25 at the tastebuds event at horseshoe casino

Drew’s Morning Dish is proud to be working with Best Buddies Maryland on an amazing night of fine food, friendships and cocktails called “TasteBuds.” By attending, you’ll experience some of the best dishes from many of Baltimore’s finest dining establishments as they team up with Best Buddies program participants on Friday, September 25 at the Horsehoe Casino.

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Each restaurant will be matched with a buddy pair, who will serve as the sous chefs for the evening. These delectable dishes will be accompanied by Hanger One Vodka™ and Dobel Tequila™ cocktails. With your help, Best Buddies’ goal is to raise more than $100,000 for Best Buddies Maryland to spread their mission of friendship and inclusion for individuals with disabilities. Every dollar raised ensures that individuals are involved in one-to-one friendships, leadership development, and integrated employment through their many life-changing programs. By supporting this event, you are helping develop and expand Best Buddies programs throughout Maryland.  Best Buddies Maryland serves more than 5,500 people in Maryland through their signature-event programs.  They have programs in more than 90 schools statewide.

To purchase tickets, just visit the TasteBuds website. #DMD will be there on Friday, September 25. Come on out and join us!

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birds lose extra-inning affair in anaheim, drop 2 of 3 to angels

David Murphy’s 4th RBI of the afternoon in the 11th inning gave the Angels a 5-4 win over the Birds on Sunday, giving Los Angeles the series win, 2-1, and sending the O’s to Seattle in dire need of at least two wins there this week. Buck Showalter rolled the dice in the 11th, intentionally walking Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to get to Murphy, knowing he already had three runs knocked in on the day. The move backfired when Murphy belted a ball over left fielder David Lough’s head to plate the winning run.

David Murphy
Trout and Pujols didn't beat the Orioles on Sunday. David Murphy did.

Gerardo Parra and Chris Davis homered for the O’s in the 6th inning to help the Birds rebound from a 4-2 deficit. It stayed that way until the 11th when Murphy’s hit ended things. Miguel Gonzalez gave up seven hits and four runs in 4.2 innings of work, adding to his recent collection of ineffective outings.

The Orioles head to Seattle for three games starting on Monday night when Wei-Yin Chen gets the starting nod. He’ll be followed on Tuesday by Chris Tillman, with Kevin Gausman throwing in Wednesday’s series finale. The Birds return home for a weekend series with the A’s following the 3-game set with the Mariners.



MONDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
at
SEATTLE MARINERS
W. CHEN
(5-6, 3.32)
V. NUNO
(0-1, 2.52)
10:10 PM EST
SAFECO FIELD



blue jays hold yankees to one run in three games, sweep bronx series

We’ve got ourselves a full-fledged dogfight in the American League East now, folks. Toronto shut-out the Yankees for the second straight day on Sunday, winning 2-0 and sweeping the weekend series in New York and allowing just one run in three games vs. Joe Girardi’s team. The sweep moves Toronto to within 1.5 games of the Yankees (three in the loss column), while the Orioles are now five games behind New York and 3.5 behind the Blue Jays. Toronto has won eight straight games and produced back-to-back shutouts of the Yankees for the first time in their history on Saturday and Sunday.

This week in the American League East:

  • Yankees (61-49) at Cleveland (Tue-Thur), at Toronto (Fri-Sun)
  • Toronto (61-52) vs. Oakland (Tue-Thur), vs. New York (Fri-Sun
  • Orioles (56-54) at Seattle (Mon-Wed), vs. Oakland (Fri-Sun)
  • Tampa Bay (56-56) vs. Atlanta (Tue-Wed), at Texas (Fri-Sun)
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lowry gets first pga tour win at firestone cc

I’m certainly not suggesting guys like Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk and Justin Rose laid down on purpose Sunday afternoon at Firestone CC and allowed Irishman Shane Lowry to win his first PGA Tour event. All things being equal, you take a win—and the big check—whenever they come your way. But there IS a reality about winning the week before a major that suggests you’ve likely eliminated yourself from winning the big one the following week.

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry's been telling people for a couple of years that he's one of the world's best players. His win on Sunday at Firestone CC cements his opinion.

Lowry fired a final-round 66 on Sunday to capture the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, besting Bubba Watson by two-shots and 3rd-round leaders Furyk and Rose by three. It’s a hallmark win for Lowry. While not a major, it comes against a very strong field and moves him into a different category now … that of a guy who stared down the likes of three major champions on Sunday and played his best golf down the stretch to boot.

Because all three guys are extraordinarily wealthy, losing Sunday’s event won’t bother Watson, Furyk or Rose. In fact, privately, they’re probably glad they didn’t win. Their strong play at Firestone gives them a surge of confidence heading into next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, but doesn’t put the pressure that would accompany endeavoring to win in back-to-back weeks.

Reigning Masters and U.S. Open titleist Jordan Spieth enjoyed his best round of the weekend on Sunday, matching Lowry’s 66 to finish at 4-under par for the tournament. He’ll head to Whistling Straits gunning for his third major of the season next week and 5th win of the year overall.


drew's pga championship preview

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In narrowing down my PGA Top Five, I went with four guys who are "tried and true." At #5, I went with Paul Casey, who, despite not having a major title yet, is a former Ryder Cupper and a player most capable of capturing a major now that his health is good and his game is back on track. Dustin Johnson was #4 and Bubba Watson was #3. Both of those guys can dominate Whistling Straits—or any course for that matter—and both, of course, were right there in the 2010 PGA. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see D.J. or Bubba win this week. My #1 guy—the predicted winner—will be revealed tomorrow. You've heard of him, for sure.

Today, though, at #2, I'm going with someone who wasn't on TOUR when the PGA last visited Whistling Straits. You've heard of Brooks Koepka, no doubt, but you might not be all that familiar with him. Study up. He's on the verge of becoming a show-stopper in professional golf.

Brooks Koepka
Could Brooks Koepka tame Whistling Straits this week and capture his first major title? Absolutely he could.

Koepka (pronounced Kep'-ka) is one missed cut away from having a perfect season on the PGA Tour, as he has played in 16 events in the 2014-2015 campaign and his only missed cut was at The Players in May when he shot 78-67 and didn't play the weekend. Other than that, he's a check collector week-in-week-out, with a victory (Phoenix) and three other Top 10 finishes this season. He's eighth on the TOUR in driving distance (308 yards). His driving accuracy numbers aren't great at all (142nd), but he's 14th on the TOUR in greens in regulation at 70%, which tells me his fairways missed aren't putting him in bad positions off the tee. And his putting numbers are outstanding, ranking 10th in strokes gained.

When you have a guy who hits it long off the tee and then hits the green in regulation, you have a dynamic player who simply needs to become a great putter in order to start winning regularly. Koepka's putting numbers have improved throughout the season and it's just a matter of time before his weekend of glory comes along and he wins a major championship. The PGA has a tendency to showcase players like Koepka, who are close to breaking through and just need the "right course, right week" theory to play out for them. This could be the week it all comes together for the 25-year old. I love his chances.

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Sunday
August 9, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 9

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with blue jays surging, should orioles look for help?

It might be too late, I know, but there looms a question with regard to the Orioles and their playoff hopes. Do they need to make a deal with someone in an attempt to keep up with the Blue Jays AND the Yankees? Toronto has now won seven straight games and blanked the Yankees in New York on Saturday, 6-0, behind a pitching gem from recently acquired David Price. New York has played well all season, of course, and still leads the A.L. East, but even they have to be concerned about the surging Blue Jays at this point.

Markakis
Could Nick Markakis be on the radar screen for the Orioles via a trade with Atlanta?

What’s Dan Duquette supposed to do? There are NINE, yes, count ‘em, nine, teams in the American League with a reasonable chance of grabbing one of the five post-season berths. New York, Toronto and Baltimore in the East, Kansas City, Minnesota and Detroit in the Central, and Houston, Los Angeles and the suddenly-revamped Texas Rangers in the West. If you want to throw in the likes of Tampa Bay and Chicago—both of whom are essentially the same as Texas and Detroit—make that eleven teams for five spots. So, what do the Orioles need? And do they have anything at all to give up in pursuit of that player or players that might give them an edge in September? Deals made in August almost always involve a veteran player who no longer produces at a level worthy of his salary. That’s basically how Mike Napoli wound up back in Texas this week. The Red Sox wanted him gone and Texas agreed to pay $1.5 million of his remaining salary for the final two months of the season. I’m not saying the Orioles should have pursued Napoli. I’m just pointing out that’s the kind of player you’re going to be obtaining at this point in the season.

The Phillies would beg, borrow and steal to find someone willing to take Ryan Howard from them, but I can’t see the Orioles doing that, even if Philadelphia would handle a large portion of the remaining $48 million owed to him in 2016 and 2017. There have been rumors floating around that Atlanta might be looking to move Nick Markakis, particularly now that they’ve acquired Nick Swisher. Would the Orioles take him back? If the stories we heard in the off-season were true, the Birds and Markakis failed to connect on a deal because Nick demanded a fourth year and the O’s wouldn’t budge. Well, having now spent a season in Atlanta, his four-year contract is suddenly a three-year deal, just like Duquette wanted in the first place. Markakis would obviously re-patrol right field in Baltimore and recently acquired Gerardo Parra could move to left. Again, though … what would the Birds have to give up to get Markakis and would they be willing to take on over $30 million in salary for the next three years?

Unless this is just a wild hot streak and not something they’ll keep up for the remainder of the year, you have to believe Toronto is in it to win it, now. Their acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price was HUGE. They were already a powerful offensive team and adding Tulo was a stroke of genius. Pitching WAS an issue for the Blue Jays, but Price (already a winner in both of his Toronto starts) gives them a true game-changer into the post-season. Even though the Yankees have lost two straight to the Jays this weekend, they’re likely not going to nose-dive between here and the finish line. So, if you’re the Orioles you’re going to have to overcome at least one of those two teams in the East and then hope your final record is better than some combination of the Angels, Twins, Rangers, Tigers and anyone else that scares the 86-87-88 win mark.

If you’re asking me, I say the Birds need to add another player or two—and no, Junior Lake doesn’t count. I’m not sure exactly who that is, honestly, but this recent surge by the Blue Jays should serve as a wake-up call to Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter.


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bo's eye view

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

The Ravens are now a week-plus into training camp, with the pre-season opener scheduled for Thursday night against the Saints at M&T Bank Stadium. After just eight practices, there are already reasons for both optimism and concern. Here are five of the top storylines coming out of the first week of training camp.

Breshad Perriman sidelined

Perriman
Sidelined for nearly all of training camp thus far, Breshad Perriman has some work to do before the season opener in Denver.

The Ravens expect big things from their rookie first-round draft pick, but the receiver has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury on the first day of camp. Coach John Harbaugh described it as a bruise and said a week ago that Perriman was "day-to-day." But Perriman has not practiced since, and it's fair to wonder how all this lost time might hurt his development early this season. The sooner he can return, the better.

Kamar Aiken, other receivers step up

Not only is Perriman sidelined, but receiver Marlon Brown has also been hobbled by a back injury. Harbaugh said Brown got an MRI on his back, and although the results have not been disclosed, 'MRI' is not usually something anyone wants to hear. With those two sidelined, Kamar Aiken has taken over as a starter alongside Steve Smith Sr. Watching the confident Aiken make catch after catch, it's hard to believe he spent three years bouncing around practice squads without so much as an NFL reception. Michael Campanaro, whose health in the past has been a huge question mark, also has looked strong in camp, as has receiver Jeremy Butler. Then there's 6-foot-6 receiver Darren Waller and speedster DeAndre Carter. There won't be enough room for all of them on the Ravens 53-man roster, and this remains perhaps the most fascinating battle of camp.

Elam done for the year, Urban might be, too

The skeptics will say that's no loss after Elam's thoroughly disappointing 2014 season. But publicly and privately, the Ravens felt Elam had turned the corner as he prepared for this third NFL season. He reported to OTAs in the best shape of his career and appeared highly motivated after being publicly called out this offseason by general manager Ozzie Newsome. Then Elam suffered a torn biceps in practice, and his 2015 season essentially is over before it began. Elam was not expected to start this year—Will Hill has looked outstanding in camp—but Elam would have been a factor if he finally played to potential. Second-year DE Brent Urban suffered a torn biceps muscle in the August 8th practice and is feared out for the season. He missed his entire rookie campaign after sustaining a training-camp knee injury

The cornerback position is better

Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are finally on the field together again. They started just three games together last season, with Smith suffering a season-ending injury just about the time Webb was returning to form from his preseason back injury. But both—for now—are healthy, and Kyle Arrington has added a veteran presence in the slot. Proof that the corner bar has been raised: Asa Jackson, who started six games last year, is pretty much a third-stringer now, behind both Arrington and Rashaan Melvin. Many Ravens remember Melvin getting lit up by Tom Brady in the playoffs last year, but the Ravens like his size (6-2) and his toughness.

Life after Ngata appears OK

The Ravens lost their defensive anchor in Haloti Ngata, but you could do a lot worse than having Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan plugging the middle of the defense. Those two have been a handful against the Ravens strong offensive line during training camp, and the likes of Chris Canty and Lawrence Guy, who was impressive in a small sample size last season, give the Ravens solid play at defensive end. Sure, the Ravens would like to have Ngata. But no need to hit any panic button. This defensive front is good, young and deep.





who's going to pittsburgh with us on oct. 1 for ravens vs. steelers?

Ravens Steelers logo

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally-televised 8:25 p.m. game between the Ravens and Steelers. We leave Baltimore at 12:30 p.m and arrive in Pittsburgh about 5:00 p.m. We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches to take with us when we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but we'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip).

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fans on October 1st in Pittsburgh.

We're now taking reservations for the trip. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale.

I'll offer everyone an early-bird discount of $25 until Friday, August 14. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $240. Just reserve your seat(s) on the trip before August 14 and you'll pay $215 instead of $240.

How do you reserve your seat on the Steelers trip? E-mail me directly – 18inarow at gmail.com – and let me know how many seats you want. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.

UPDATE: We have reservations for 17 seats thus far. Only 23 remain.

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jimenez superb in 5-0 win over angels

The good Ubaldo Jimenez showed up in Anaheim on Saturday night. Make that, the REALLY good Jimenez showed up, as he held Mike Trout and Company to two hits in eight innings of work and the Birds got a much needed 5-0 victory.

Jimenez carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the 6th inning before Kole Calhoun stroked a 2-out double to put an end to the no-no dreams. He improved his record 9-7, lowered his ERA to 3.79, and once again gave the Birds hope that he’ll be able to earn that $12.5 million annual salary over the next two seasons. Darren O’Day surrendered three hits in the bottom of the 9th but Mike Trout was thrown out at home to preserve the shutout.

Manny Machado (#24) and Caleb Joseph (#10) homered for the Birds, who got at least one hit from every starter with the exception of Gerardo Parra (0-for-5) and Ryan Flaherty (0-for-4).

Baltimore picked up a game on the Yankees with the win. Toronto and Tampa Bay also both won on Saturday.



MONDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
at
SEATTLE MARINERS
M. GONZALEZ
(9-8, 4.32)
V. NUNO
(0-1, 2.52)
10:10 PM EST
SAFECO FIELD


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rose’s game in full bloom with third round 63 at firestone cc

Someone needed to put together a terrific third round to make up ground on 36-hole leader Jim Furyk and it turned out to be Justin Rose who did the deed, as the 2013 U.S. Open champion fired a Saturday round of 7-under-par 63 to match Furyk’s 9-under-par total heading into Sunday’s final 18 holes at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC. Furyk posted a one-under round of 69 on Saturday and will play in today’s final group with Rose, who made four birdies on the incoming nine yesterday to grab a share of the lead.

Shane Lowry
Can Ireland's Shane Lowry by-pass both Jim Furyk and Justin Rose today at Firestone CC to capture the WGC event?

Shane Lowry of Ireland is right there at 7-under-par, followed by Steven Bowditch, who matched Rose’s 63 on Saturday, Ian Poulter, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson, all of whom are four back at 5-under-par.

I’ve been on Justin Rose’s bandwagon throughout 2015. Simply put, the dude’s a beast. If you pressed me for my own personal world-rankings right now, he’d be #2 behind Jordan Spieth. The only negative to Rose possibly winning today at Firestone? It would likely mean he WON’T win next week’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He COULD win, of course, but the likelihood of someone besting two high-quality fields two weeks in a row is pretty slim. I’m sure Rose isn’t thinking that way, which is one of the reasons why he’s playing today at Firestone and I’m sitting here writing about him. Don’t count out Furyk, though. As I wrote yesterday here at #DMD, he wasn’t going to put together four rounds of 66 and shoot 16-under-par for the event. There’s always a round of even-par or so waiting for a 36-hole leader and Furyk found his yesterday. He’s VERY capable of a 65 or 66 today that would give him the title.




drew’s pga championship preview

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I’m not usually one to fawn over the long-drive monsters on the PGA Tour. Because of that, I’ve never been completely enamored with Bubba Watson, who owns eight career wins on the TOUR—but half of those have come at two venues (Augusta National and TPC River Highlands). But, there’s little doubt he’s among the favorites at next week’s PGA at Whistling Straits. For starters, he narrowly missed winning there at the 2010 PGA, as he lost to Martin Kaymer in a playoff after posting 11-under-par for 72 holes. There’s a “horses for courses” theory that plays out almost every week on TOUR. Certain guys play certain places well—and even though Whistling Straits is a piece of property the players only see once every half a decade or so, it’s worth looking back at who played well—and why—when trying to predict who might handle the course with ease this time around.

Watson
After a runner-up finish at Whistling Straits in 2010, it's reasonable to think Bubba Watson might be able to hoist the trophy there next week at the PGA.

Watson is a terrific driver of the golf ball. Not as precise as Dustin Johnson, but a tad longer, if that matters, and reasonably accurate, too. He has a terrific short game and, when his putter is on—and overall it should be noted he’s NOT great with the flat stick from week-to-week—the combination of his driving length, short game and touch on the greens is a championship combination. I see him playing well again next week at Whistling Straits and shooting 10-under par for four rounds to finish in 3rd place.

Saturday
August 8, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 8

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in harbaugh and flacco, ravens have two winners

By now you’ve seen the sign someone flashed in the background of Thursday night’s pre-coverage of the Republican debate.

Elite sign

Is Joe Flacco a elite (sic) quaterback (sic)?

Two things immediately jumped out at me. First, how can anyone with such an awesome sign and the perfect chance to get on every website in America be so dumb as to write “a elite” instead of “an elite,” and fail to spell "quarterback" correctly? That kind of stuff drives me nuts. Second, how is it possible that people are, in fact, still even debating that question?

I know why it’s being debated, still. It’s a question that sort-of has no REAL answer, because you can always substitute the word “elite” for something else that’s more accommodating and more reasonably close to the description of your choosing. “He’s not elite, but he’s very good,” some will say. Fair enough. If you’re a word cruncher, that works, too. “He’s not elite, but he’s definitely had some outstanding seasons,” others will opine. Yep, that’s accurate as well. Like the year the Ravens won the Super Bowl, for instance.

If you pressed me to join the “elite” or “not elite” crowd—with no wiggle room for any other word usage—I’m calling Flacco “elite.” Guys who come into the league and quarterback their team to the playoffs in six of their first seven years, advance to three conference title games (all on the road) and win a Super Bowl are, in my mind, elite.

That said, I have a word I much prefer to use for Flacco: winner.

In fact, if you polled any athlete in any sport—even individual sports like golf and tennis—and asked them if they preferred to be known as a “great” (elite) player or a “winner,” 90%, I’d bet, would say, “I’ll take winner …” When you’re labeled a “winner” in sports, it oftentimes suggests you have something others in your sport don’t possess. It’s mystical, almost, as if you do it with powers beyond your athletic capabilities. I’ve said for a long time the quarterback in Pittsburgh fits that description to a tee. Is Ben Roethlisberger the most gifted quarterback in the league? Not hardly. Does he make a lot of mistakes? You bet. But … he’s a winner. Somehow, when the dust settles and the clock reaches zero, he wins. Not every time, of course. No one wins every time (except Ronda Rousey). Roethlisberger, though, wins more than he probably should, frankly, and that’s because winning is in his DNA. It’s NOT in Mark Sanchez’s DNA, as an example, but Big Ben sure has it in bunches.

Flacco is cut from the same cloth as Roethlisberger. He’s a winner. It isn’t always pretty. It might take a second-half rally. The field-goal kicker might have to hit one from 52 yards at the buzzer to win it. But … when he’s sitting in front of his locker after the game, Flacco’s answering questions as the WINNING quarterback.

Oddly enough, it seems people in town—and I think it’s a relatively small percentage—almost resent the fact that Flacco wins, wins and wins some more. After years of watching ne’er-do-wells like Blake, Boller, Redman and Wright throw the ball to the other team and do interviews as the LOSING quarterback week after week, you figure football fans in town would embrace a guy like Flacco who has delivered wins, glory and a championship. Somehow, though, what he’s done hasn’t been good enough for some. I’ll never understand it.

We’re also blessed in Baltimore to have a coach who is a winner. Never was that more evident than earlier this week when John Harbaugh invited the guy he replaced, Brian Billick, to address the Ravens during training camp. Always looking for an edge, something new, or an angle that might reach a player who previously wasn’t playing to his potential—those are hallmarks of a winning coach. I’d even use the words “elite coach” but … well … we don’t want to open that can of worms, do we? Harbaugh is a winner, plain and simple. Like every other coach in the league, his in-game record isn’t 100%. It’s always important to remember that when scrutinizing the quality of the coach or the manager. NO ONE is 100% with their in-game decisions, mostly because there are human beings on the other end who have to do their part to make those decisions pan out. Harbaugh, though, is a winner regardless of that failed challenge in the 2nd quarter of the opener in Denver next month. He’s a winner because he’s always looking for ways to improve the team. And they’re not “dumb” ways or far-reaching methods, either. They make sense, like the sleep study he commissioned all of his players to undergo in the off-season, hoping to find that little sliver of “extra” that helps the Ravens win a game or two more in 2015. Another winning touch was having Brian Billick speak to the team this week. Billick wasn’t chopped liver, you know, and Harbaugh is most certainly aware—having done it himself—that anyone raising the Lombardi Trophy will ALWAYS have something to offer.

Flaco and Harbaugh
All these two have done since they showed up in Baltimore is … win.

It’s not a coincidence, rather just a stroke of impeccable timing, that Flacco and Harbaugh have grown together since both arrived in Baltimore back in 2008. As one has grown, so, too, has the other. Harbaugh put his trust in Flacco right away, admittedly under odd circumstances with the pre-season injury to Boller and illness that affected Troy Smith, and the quarterback responded by leading the club to the AFC title game in Pittsburgh. Flacco grew, learned the position, and despite working with three different offensive coordinators from 2008 to 2014, he was able to repay Harbaugh for his display of faith by showing up for work every day, learning the system du jour, and generally playing the role of “good company man” despite being told something different time and time again.

In the end, Flacco was able to rise above the chaos and win games. Save for an ugly 2013 season when the Ravens experienced the inevitable Super Bowl hangover and yet still came within fifteen minutes of making the playoffs, Flacco has won a road playoff game in each of his six post-season campaigns. Last January, he riddled the Steelers in Pittsburgh and twice had the Ravens up by two touchdowns in New England before the Patriots started using trickery, odd line-up formations and a magnifying glass on Anthony Levine to pull out the playoff victory. He beat Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and (again) largely outplayed Brady in New England.

Once August rolls around and training camp starts in Owings Mills, I like to remind myself that John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are in charge of our football team. It calms me greatly, for I know, barring something unforeseen, we’ll all be gathering somewhere in January to watch the Ravens in the playoffs again. That’s NOT something they’re saying this morning in places like Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, etc. We can say it here, though. We have two winners running the show. They’ll figure out a way to win. Watch and see.

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orioles drop series opener to angels, 8-4

On a night when starter Kevin Gausman was both outstanding and ineffective – often times within the same inning – the Birds squandered a couple of early leads and fell to the Angels in Los Angeles, 8-4. The defeat dropped the Orioles (55-53) further behind the surging 2nd place Toronto Blue Jays (59-52), who won for the 9th time in 10 games on Friday evening with a 2-1 victory at the Yankees (61-47).

Gausman gave up a first-inning home run to Mike Trout, then settled in nicely for a couple of innings while the O’s grabbed a 3-1 lead thanks to a Jonathan Schoop two-runner homer in the fourth. That lead lasted about ten minutes, though, as Los Angeles evened things up in the bottom half of the inning on RBI hits from David Murphy and Johnny Giavotella. The Birds went back on top in the 6th on a Matt Wieters home run, but the Angels bounced right back to take the lead on a two-RBI double from light-hitting catcher Chris Iannetta and that was the last we saw of the Orioles on Friday night.

Gausman suffered the loss, allowing six earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. He wasn’t horrible by any means, but the Angels can put their bat on the ball and time and time again they battled through at-bats and finally got to the 24-year old. The bullpen foursome that followed him wasn’t great, either. Brian Matusz and Brad Brach both allowed earned runs, while we saw the return of Rule 5 pitcher Jason Garcia, who threw a scoreless eighth inning.

The game in Anaheim featured the debut of Junior Lake, who was acquired from the Cubs in the Tommy Hunter trade last week. He got the nod at DH and was 1-for-4 on the night. Manny Machado (3), Gerardo Parra (2) and Jonathan Schoop (2) combined for seven of the twelve Baltimore hits on Friday evening.



SATURDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
at
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
U. JIMENEZ
(8-7, 4.04)
G. RICHARDS
(11-8, 3.46)
9:05 PM EST
ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM




duquette’s 2014-2015 off-season looking more and more like a flop

The good news for Orioles VP Dan Duquette? Despite an off-season of ineffectiveness and nearly $22 million of salaries belonging to guys no longer on the O’s roster, the club still has a very real shot at making the 2015 playoffs.

Dan Duquette
Perhaps flirting with the Blue Jays for six weeks wasn't the best thing for Duquette's off-season heading into 2015.

If they do make it, though, they’ll be doing so without the likes of Travis Snider, Chris Parmelee and Wesley Wright, players signed by Duquette last winter and brought to Baltimore with hopes for more than an occasional contribution. Add to those names guys like Bud Norris and Alejandro De Aza, both of whom played for the club in 2014 and were part of the A.L. East Championship team after being acquired during the regular season, and it’s fairly evident this hasn’t been the best ten months of Duquette’s Orioles tenure.

Snider was never a factor after the first two weeks of the season. He got off to a terrific start, but quickly ran out of steam and was never able to fully secure the rightfield spot vacated by the departure of free agent Nick Markakis. It was so bad, in fact, Buck Showalter shoved Chris Davis out to rightfield for most of June and July because Snider couldn’t get a hit and any ball launched in his direction had odds of 75/25 that he would get to it and make the catch. And, if he did get to it, making a major league throw was also a challenge.

By now, we all know who the Orioles lost last winter (Markakis, Cruz and Miller) – and those that replaced them, even loosely, simply haven’t done the job. Snider is now gone, Steve Pearce, the guy they assumed might have a big year and temper the loss of Cruz, has been unproductive and injured, and they never really added a legitimate bullpen arm to replace the outstanding contribution of Miller. Duquette will get the criticism, since he puts the team together, but it’s still worth noting—as I did above—that despite the VP’s poor off-season, the Birds are on the verge of being a playoff contender for the 4th straight year.

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furyk owns four-shot lead at firestone cc

Don’t say I didn’t tell you about Jim Furyk. I did.

I like Jim Furyk's chances at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has a handful of Top 5's over the summer including a 4th place finish at the Canadian Open two weeks ago. He also has three straight Top 15's at Firestone CC. Knows the course, hits it right-to-left off the tee, which helps just about everywhere except #16, and should be a factor come Sunday afternoon.

Jim Furyk
He hits it straight off the tee, throws it close to the pins, and makes a lot of putts. That's how he's 8-under at Firestone CC through 36 holes.

The comment above comes to you from last Wednesday’s edition of #DMD, where I gave you my top three picks for this week’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, including Jordan Spieth (-2), Keegan Bradley (-1) and the 36-hole leader, the aforementioned Jim Furyk, who produced a second straight round of 66 on Friday to take a commanding four shot lead at the halfway point of the event at Firestone CC.

It’s still anyone’s tournament, of course, and odds are high that Furyk won’t shoot 16-under par for four days, but he’s put in himself in position to be a Sunday afternoon contender with his play on Thursday and Friday. Shane Lowry, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson are tied for 2nd at 4-under par, with Graeme McDowell, Danny Lee and Henrik Stenson next at 3-under. With no cut in this event, anyone at two over par or better still has a realistic chance of winning, but Furyk and the others would all have to stall in order for someone around even par to rally and win. My guess is 12-under will win the tournament, which means those behind Furyk would have to post something like 66-65 over the weekend to reach that figure and hope the leader doesn’t continue his torrid play over the first two days. There’s plenty of golf left, but right now, it’s Jim Furyk’s event to give away.


drew’s pga championship preview

PGA logo

On Friday, I started off my PGA preview by offering up a non-major winner, Paul Casey, and giving you some reasons why next week’s event at Whistling Straits is a good fit for him. It was mostly about the 2015 season he’s having, coupled with the fact that he’s an outstanding driver of the golf ball. It’s one of those gut feelings I have about Casey. He’s ready to break through.

Dustin Johnson
He's going to win a major at some point. Guaranteed. It could be next week at Whistling Straits.

”Ready to break through” is probably an unfair term to use for my #4 pick at next week’s PGA Championship, but, like Casey, the career profile of Dustin Johnson doesn’t include a major championship. He’s had more shots at winning a major than REO Speedwagon had hit songs, but he’s still 0-fer, with his most recent gulp-job coming at the U.S. Open in June when he three-putted from 12 feet on the 18th hole to hand Jordan Spieth the title. There have been other near-misses, including the 2010 fiasco at Whistling Straits when he arrived on the tee of the 72nd hole with a one shot lead, but incurred a two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a fairway bunker and missed the Watson-Kaymer playoff by one stroke.

Despite his ever-growing reputation as the Tour’s version of Charlie Brown—the tough luck loser who figures out a different way to mess things up a few times a year—I’m not giving up on Johnson. In fact, I’m just the opposite. He’s GOING to win a major, perhaps next week at the PGA, and I still think when it’s all said and done and his career is complete, Dustin Johnson will have three or four major titles to his credit. He’s simply too good, too strong, too athletic and too “everything” to not win. Can he putt better? Of course. So can just about everyone else in professional golf NOT named Jordan Spieth. But, there are very few guys in the world capable of driving the golf ball as well as D.J., and that dynamic alone makes him a quasi-favorite in just about every tournament he enters.

If you believe in the Golf Gods—and I do—you have to believe they’re going to hand Johnson a big win sometime soon. They owe him one. Or two. Or three, even. That first one might just come next week at Whistling Straits.

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who's going to pittsburgh with us on oct. 1 for ravens vs. steelers?

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On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally-televised 8:25 p.m. game between the Ravens and Steelers. We leave Baltimore at 12:30 p.m and arrive in Pittsburgh about 5:00 p.m. We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches to take with us when we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but we'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip).

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fans on October 1st in Pittsburgh.

We're now taking reservations for the trip. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale.

I'll offer everyone an early-bird discount of $25 until Friday, August 14. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $240. Just reserve your seat(s) on the trip before August 14 and you'll pay $215 instead of $240.

How do you reserve your seat on the Steelers trip? E-mail me directly – 18inarow at gmail.com – and let me know how many seats you want. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.

UPDATE: We have reservations for 11 seats thus far. Only 29 remain.

Friday
August 7, 2015
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Issue 7

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davis and boras starting to look smart

Scott Boras is a gazillionaire because he knows how to play the game. For starters, high-profile agents don’t generally take on scrubs as clients. Then, once they have a quality player in their portfolio, they convince the guy (or gal) to let the agent be the guiding light. “I’m the smart one with the experience in THIS arena,” I can hear Boras say. “You’re the ballplayer. You play ball. If you do it well, I’ll make you rich. But you gotta hang in there with me and let me play the game.”

Chris davis
Much like Joe Flacco did a few years back, Chris Davis gambled that he'd have a big season in his free-agent year. And he was right.

It would appear Boras rolled the dice with Chris Davis, as Orioles VP Dan Duquette has said on multiple occasions that he offered the first baseman a new contract throughout 2014 and 2015 and was rebuffed each time. Offering Davis something last season was actually a gamble on the Orioles part. He predictably suffered a major drop off from his 2013 53-home run campaign and suffered the ultimate power-hitter’s-indignity last September when he was suspended for 25 games for failing a PED test earlier in the summer. Though Davis claimed it was simply an Adderall prescription gone-bad sort of thing, the failed test and suspension was a tarnish on Davis’ reputation. The fact he turned down a new deal last year, given all that happened, was a huge risk on his part.

Now, it looks like Boras and Davis made the right decision. His grand slam on Wednesday vaulted him into the RBI lead in the American League at 79 and gives him 28 home runs on the year. While 50 dingers is probably a little too ambitious, it’s reasonable to think he’s going to end up with somewhere around 42 HR’s and 110 RBI by season’s end. He continues to flash a terrific glove at first base, even though his manager dumped him out in right field for the better part of two months while the Orioles – I assume – auditioned a bunch of guys at first base in the event the club became sellers at the trade deadline and moved Davis to a willing trade partner. In short, Chris Davis has set himself up for a big haul this off-season when he finally becomes a free agent for the first time in his major league career.

He does have some offensive warts, like most power hitters. He strikes out too much, is prone to series-long slumps, and occasionally goes through stretches where he almost has a “give up look” at the plate. But, Davis is also an outstanding teammate and a valuable, experienced guy in the locker room. His PED suspension aside, there haven’t been any rough waters for him since coming to Baltimore in 2011.

The last two months probably won’t do a whole lot to his value. He’s made his money by now, I’m guessing. Even if he tails off between now and October and finishes with, say, 37 HR’s, he’ll still be hotly pursued this winter. I have a really bad feeling those folks in Boston are going to be chasing him around with their checkbook, and if the Yankees can sway him to play right field, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them make a run at him as well. Both of those teams have to be thinking, “If we get him, we take him from Baltimore. It’s a double win.”

The Orioles will be under enormous pressure to re-sign Davis this off-season. He’s become a fan favorite, particularly with the female followers, and the club has marketed him rather aggressively over the last few years. It’s likely going to take a contract in excess of $100 million to keep him, a figure the Orioles have never once forked over for a baseball player. If they lose him, people in town will criticize them for not moving the first baseman at the deadline and bringing in a haul similar to what Detroit obtained from Toronto for David Price. While they’ll get a compensatory pick if he signs elsewhere in the off-season, it won’t be the same as getting three or four quality young players like the Tigers received for Price. At this point, though, that’s water under the bridge. The Orioles felt like they were in a good position to contend for a playoff spot – and they’re right, they are – and giving away the likes of Davis, Matt Wieters and Wei-Yin Chen might have been too much white-towel-waving for the fan base to handle.

The trouble now? The fan base will want Davis back in 2016 at ANY cost. And that’s generally been uncomfortable territory for the Orioles over the years.

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danny lee trying to prove he’s legit this week

Anyone can win on the PGA Tour. And by that, I mean, anyone who is PLAYING on the PGA Tour can win an event. It’s one thing to win an event. It’s another to win again. And it’s really a big deal if you win a World Golf Championships tournament, for that’s where you’ll find a star-studded field competing for a title that is not that far removed from capturing one of golf’s majors.

Danny Lee
Danny Lee held his first TOUR trophy a month ago. Winning is contagious. He could win this week at Firestone CC, too.

I mentioned Danny Lee on Wednesday in #DMD when I gave my picks for this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio. He was one of my “also worth playing” guys, with the notation that he seems to be contending on an almost weekly basis now. Well, if you placed him on your fantasy roster this week, you’re happy with the points he picked up for you on Thursday, as he produced a tidy opening-round 65 that gives him a one-shot lead over Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk.

The leaderboard is a Who’s-who of big timers, including Rickie Fowler (-3), Justin Rose (-3), Paul Casey (-2), Lee Westwood (-2) and Henrik Stenson (-2). McDowell and Westwood are particularly curious names to be hovering near the lead; both have vanished off the world golf radar over the last two years and would be thrilled to have a chance to win the event come Sunday afternoon. Fowler and Rose are contenders every week, it seems, while Casey is on the upswing after injuries derailed him for a few years. Lee, though, has been en fuego over the last month or so, winning at The Greenbrier, finishing T3 the following week at the John Deere, then placing 4th in last week’s Quicken Loans National at Robert Trent Jones GC in Northern Virginia. He’s no fluke, as I alluded to on Wednesday here at #DMD.


drew’s pga championship preview

Starting today, I’ll go through my predicted Top Five in next week’s PGA Championship, finishing up with the winner on Tuesday, August 11. Next Wednesday, I’ll offer up my six-player fantasy golf team for those of you dabbling in that these days.

Paul Casey
Paul Casey's 2015 form will reward him with a 5th-place finish at Whistling Straits next week.

I like where Paul Casey is these days. He’s had a very good 2015 and just needs a win to stamp himself officially “back” as one of the game’s top 20 players. The PGA Championship might be a perfect venue for Casey to do two things; get that long awaited victory and claim his first major title as well. Casey makes sense at Whistling Straits for a couple of reasons. He played well there back in 2010, for starters, and the golf course is most definitely one of those places you either love because you play it well or despise because you can’t make a birdie to save your life. Anyone who played well in 2010 will show up next week with good vibes and Casey fits that profile. He’s also an exceptional driver of the golf ball, ranking in the Top 20 in the TOUR’s total driving stat (the combination of length and accuracy), which should really bode well for him next week at Whistling Straits.

The PGA Championship remains the one major where first-time major winners seemingly surface far more than at The Masters, U.S. Open or British Open. Going back nearly twenty years, you’ll see names like Davis Love III, David Toms, Steve Elkington, Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, Shaun Micheel, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner; all guys who won their first (and only) major championship at the PGA. Casey fits in with those guys. Don’t be surprised if he’s hanging around next week at Whistling Straits.

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with lowly seattle up next, birds need big weekend in anaheim

It’s probably not wise to look ahead like this, but who cares…I don’t play for the team. With next week’s series in Seattle presenting the Birds with a great chance for two of three or perhaps a 3-game sweep, this weekend’s series in Anaheim against the Angels is a big one for Buck Showalter’s team. Having started the 9-game series at 2-1 after winning a pair in Oakland, the Birds could set themselves up for a GREAT road trip by winning a couple of games over Mike Trout and Company this weekend.

Mike Trout
If you want to beat the Angels, you have to figure out a way to stop this guy.

That, of course, is easier said than done because of the guy I referenced above; Mike Trout. Right now, let’s call it like it is: he’s the best player in baseball, period, and a true, legitimate “game changer”. When you beat the Angels these days, you’ve likely shut him down, too, which is a rather large accomplishment. The Angels, like the Orioles, are trying to scratch their way into the post-season by either grabbing one of the two available wild card spots or winning the division outright. This is a big weekend for BOTH teams.

The pitching rotation shapes up well for the O’s, as they’ll send Tillman, Gausman and Jimenez to the mound over the weekend. Tillman should be well rested after missing a start, Gausman has been very good over the last four weeks and Jimenez has been hot and cold, but the “hot” Jimenez has been exceptional.



FRIDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
at
LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM
K. GAUSMAN
(2-2, 3.97)
A. HEANEY
(5-1, 1.97)
10:05 PM EST
ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM


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Thursday
August 6, 2015
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Issue 6

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i took two hours yesterday and read even more deflategate stuff

Yes, you read the headline right.

A glutton for punishment, I am. I took nearly two hours yesterday to sit down and read nearly every word of the transcript from Tom Brady's June 23rd "hearing" with the NFL and a substantial part of the Wells Report, again. It's an amazing circus, with lawyers, experts, Brady himself and even Roger Goodell, who -- I know you'll be shocked here -- looks almost as foolish in this fiasco as he did in the latter stages of the Ray Rice saga.

Here's my summary of everything I read yesterday. It comes in two parts.

Tom Brady insists he knew NOTHING about the psi of the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game. He likens gripping the football to gripping a golf club. "You don't squeeze the football," he said at the hearing. "You grip it. Lightly. Just like you do a golf club." Tom Brady said at the hearing he didn't direct anyone to alter the psi of the footballs. I don't see how that's possible, given the mountain of evidence that speaks to the contrary (like, for instance, one equipment guy calling another "the deflator"). Brady emphatically said he didn't know the footballs had been deflated.

Part two? After reading everything, I don't see any possible way anyone can say for sure Brady DID know about the psi of the footballs. That's how messed up the whole thing is...it's practically impossible to prove the guilty guy guilty.

And this is coming from someone -- me -- who absolutely thinks, without a shadow of a doubt, that Brady was well aware of the condition of the footballs. I've thought that from day one and I still think that today.

But, I also have to admit that the NFL and Ted Wells, their hired gun, have fumbled this thing so badly that you read through the entire transcript and eventually say to yourself, "Hmmmmm..."

brady
There might not be a caption suitable for this photo. Presented without comment.

In some ways, DeflateGate is far more difficult to navigate, research and ajudicate than the Ray Rice case because the famous "elevator video" wound up doing all the talking. With DeflateGate, you actually had forensic experts testifying about weather, barometric pressure, humidity and a bunch of other climate-related garbage that shouldn't REALLY matter, but evidently did. It's all legal mumbo-jumbo, I get it, but there are some things so obvious even a dummy from Glen Burnie can figure it out. Brady NEVER once had a conversation in private with the two equipment guys prior to the AFC Championship Game, then called them into a meeting in the "quarterback's room" two days after the Patriots beat the Colts and all hell broke loose with the story about deflated footballs. Somehow, that's not an angle the NFL beat in to the ground when they started pestering Brady about his role. "So, Tom, just explain why you would go five years and never once meet with those two guys, then suddenly you call them into a private meeting in your "quarterbacks only" room two days after DeflateGate broke?"

I'm not suggesting you take a couple of hours to read the testimony, but if you're bored and need to enlighten yourself, by all means google it and read away. You'll be shocked at how foolish they make NFLPA honcho Troy Vincent look. You'll be stunned at how Brady answers SOME questions with great recollection and then uses the famous "I don't recall" when asked others. And you'll wind up shaking your head at the end of it all and saying, "You know what, I have no idea what really happened."

And you'll say that even though you KNOW what happened. Just like in the movie, "A Few Good Men", we knew all along Colonel Jessup ordered the code red. Hell, Demi Moore figured it out 30 minutes into the movie but we had to see another 90 minutes of Tom Cruise before it all came out in court. Just like Colonel Jessup, Brady ordered the balls to be deflated to the psi of his liking. Sadly, though, no one at the NFL has been able to actually prove that yet beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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another davis dinger gives birds big win in oakland

OK, I'm guilty of writing that headline and putting those two words -- "big win" -- in there. I shouldn't have done that. A win on August 5th isn't "big". It's just another win. But that 7-3 victory yesterday WAS important, if that's a better way to describe it. It gives the Birds two wins on their 9-game road trip and means they just need to win three of the next six to come home from the trip with a winning record. A 5-4 road trip would be fine. 6-3 would be awesome. With two wins already, they'd have to REALLY stub their toe to do any worse than 4-5.

davis
"Dude, did you see that ball I just hit? They served a meal on that flight."

Come to think of it, looking at those numbers above, maybe Wednesday's series finale victory WAS a big win after all. The O's came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie it, then held on until the 10th when Davis pounded a 3-2 fastball over the left field wall for a grand slam -- his 28th home run of the season. He now leads the A.L. in RBI with 79, and in his last 15 games, Davis has 9 HR and 26 RBIs. That's called "a hot streak".

The troubles of Wei-Yin Chen got glossed over by the Davis game-winning bomb, but the left-hander was pretty bad on Wednesday, going five innings and allowing three earned runs while walking four. He escaped a major jam in the bottom of the 3rd when he loaded the bases with no outs but wound up surrendering only one run that inning. The Orioles bullpen came to the rescue, as Brach (1.1 innings), O'Day (1.1) and Britton (2.1) finished things off without giving up another run. On the surface, Britton working part of the eighth, all of the ninth and all of the tenth might be a little concerning, but the Orioles are off on Thursday and he has until Friday night to rest his left arm. No harm with Buck's decision there, as long as the closer safely handles the 21-pitch outing on Wednesday.

The Birds now spend the weekend in Anaheim, where the L.A. Angels await. They're involved in a division dogfight of their own, so there won't be any lay-ups in Southern California over the next three games.

Fri night pitchers: Tillman (BAL) vs. Heaney (LA)

Sat night pitchers: Gausman (BAL) vs. Richards (LA)

Sun afternoon pitchers: Jimenez (BAL) vs. Shoemaker (LA)


American League East Round-Up

Yankees (60-46) lost to Boston, 2-1 -- tonight vs. Boston

Blue Jays (57-52) beat Minnesota, 9-7 -- tonight vs. Minneesota

Orioles (55-52) beat Oakland, 7-3 -- idle today

Rays (54-55) lost to Chicago White Sox, 6-5 -- idle today

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Drew's Views on Ravens camp

I'll try to make this a regular Thursday feature throughout training camp, as I'll provide a few tidbits I've picked up as the team continues to prepare for the pre-season opener against the Saints next Thursday, August 13.

*Flacco looks great, Schaub...not so much -- Not that anyone's surprised by either of these revelations, but everyone is glowing about Joe Flacco's camp thus far. And no one is thrilled with what they've seen from (expensive) back-up Matt Schaub. The Ravens are seeing for themselves why the Houston Texans finally gave up on him. The only problem? 3rd stringer and local product (Edmondson HS) Jerry Lovelocke has been worse than Schaub.

buck
The Ravens are very impressed with their 4th round draft pick, Javorius "Buck" Allen

Running back Buck Allen can run AND catch -- The Ravens KNEW (or at least thought they knew) that USC running back Buck Allen was a legit dual threat...but they've seen it firsthand early on in camp. Not only can he hit the holes and make people miss, he can block, wiggle out into the flat, and catch the ball, too. He's not ready to take Justin Forsett's job -- yet.

Terrell Suggs and Flacco have a healthy rivalry -- This isn't to suggest that Suggs and Flacco don't like one another. Not in the least. But they do tend to chirp "extra hard" at each other when the 1's face off against one another in practice. This isn't new, someone reminded me on Tuesday. They've always enjoyed ribbing each other, but this year it seems a little more biting. A little more "personal". A little more like a "game" and not "practice".

Will Hill looks the part -- The second year strong safety has the job in the palm of his hand following the Matt Elam injury. Now he just needs to make the most of it. I'm hearing Hill reported to camp in good shape, has been a "plus defender" in the first week and looks like he's going to fit in nicely in the secondary. Of course, this IS training camp. But by all accounts, Will has been one of the team's better performers overall.


ravens announce changes to game-day experience at m&t bank stadium

The Ravens made public several important changes to their game-day protocol on Wednesday.

Enhancements for the 2015 season, which starts with the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints next Thursday (Aug. 13), include a $6.5 million investment in an expansive Wi-Fi system, a revolutionary 3-D video system called freeD that shows replays from every possible angle, and new safety measures to ease fans’ entry into the stadium and ensure top-of-the-line security for everyone.

“We are continually looking for ways to make our fans’ home-game experience at M&T Bank Stadium the best in all of professional sports,” Ravens president Dick Cass said.

“Our good fortune is that every game in Ravens history has sold out, and we want to make sure that continues. We compete for families’ entertainment dollars, and that includes watching our games from the comfort of homes,” Cass explained. “Along with a consistent winning team, we must continue to give fans reasons to come to our home games. These improvements extend our efforts to make Ravens games the best.”

With increased use of mobile devices – most importantly smartphones – fans demand stronger, faster and free Wi-Fi at stadium events. “We’ve done a lot of research in this area and believe we’ve found the best service for our fans,” Roy Sommerhof, the Ravens’ senior vice president of stadium operations, said about a partnership with Extreme Networks, Inc. and PCM Inc. Almost 800 access points and antennas, both outside and inside M&T Bank Stadium, have been added to better serve Ravens fans.

This Wi-Fi project includes a full wired, wireless and management software networking solution from Extreme Networks and a data center built by PCM. (PCM designed the Wi-Fi coverage model.) The new Wi-Fi at M&T Bank Stadium is presented by Verizon.

“Fans use mobile devices as a regular part of their lives. They go to our website for updates, look for videos and play fantasy football. They want the NFL RedZone and more statistics. They want to use their social channels, take pictures and video and let their friends know what they are experiencing. It’s part of a great gameday experience. We recognize that,” Cass added.

Sommerhof added that Wi-Fi coaches, who will be clearly identified, have been hired to roam the stadium, helping fans connect to and receive the maximum usage from the new system.


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Wednesday
August 5, 2015
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Issue 5

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a note from a #dmd reader is local sports magic

I've never done this before here at #DMD, but as the saying goes: there's a first time for everything. I'll do it more, too, if people have a great local sports story they share with me that I think will be appealing to the masses. Mark Suchy's story is one of those, and here it is.

Dear Drew, As you're aware, I'm a daily visitor and sometime commenter on your site. I think it's terrific and I enjoy your content and style. You and Tony have done an amazing job and I look forward to many years of #DMD being a staple of the Baltimore sports scene.

I know you like to place an emphasis on local sports and high school sports. I wanted to share the success of the Chick Webb Elite Boys' 14U basketball team with you. My middle son Mark has been playing with them this Spring and Summer. It's been an awesome experience.

Chick Webb Elite won the 40th Annual Ocean City Classic AAU tournament this past Father's Day weekend. They went undefeated in winning that championship, beating teams from New Jersey, Connecticut and Hagerstown, Md. en route to the title.

suchy
The Chick Webb "Elite" team

This past weekend in Hampton Roads, Va., Chick Webb Elite "stepped up in class" and played in the 15U Division III National Championships, which featured 44 teams from all over the country. Playing against teams that had players one and two years older, CW Elite claimed a spot in the Final Four before losing to Chattanooga (TN) Elite, 59-54. CW Elite couldn't quite grasp the bronze medal, losing to Pittsburgh Force by 8. (I know, a Baltimore team losing to a Pittsburgh team...) But for a team comprised of 14 year olds and two 13 year olds, it was a wonderful run and a tremendous accomplishment. All of us associated with the program are extremely proud of the boys. They earned all of their success. On top of that they're all fine young men that any coach would be proud to have. Several of them are headed to high schools like Gilman, McDonogh, Mt. St. Joe, City, St. Francis and Hereford.

I want to thank Head Coach Gerald Stokes for inviting my son and my family to become a part of such a wonderful organization. While there are many well-documented stories of corruption and unethical behavior related to AAU sports, Coach Gerald does everything the right way. His primary interest is in seeing the boys become better players and better people. It's been a great Summer of basketball glory.

Thanks Drew. I just wanted to share this in a forum where sports lovers might appreciate it.

I wish you and #DMD continued success,

Mark Suchy

Thank YOU, Mark, for sharing this great local story with us. Youth sports have become both critical to the physical development of young boys and girls, but can also be filled with tension, strife and a general loss of athletic "spirit" as coaches put an over-emphasis on wins and don't do nearly enough teaching and mentoring. Anytime I see someone giving praise to a youth coach, it makes me smile. Mark's final thought said it all: "His (Coach Stokes) primary interest is in seeing the boys become better players and better people." That's one awesome coach.

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bo's eye view

Bo Smolka is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet.

Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.

Matt Elam has rightfully earned the wrath of a lot of Ravens fans with disappointing play in his first two NFL seasons, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him after he suffered a season-ending torn biceps injury in practice on Saturday.

Without a doubt, Elam has been a frustrating disappointment for the Ravens. The first-round draft pick hasn't nearly lived up to that status. He came into the NFL with a reputation as a big hitter, but his tackling has been abysmal. He led the Ravens with 16 missed tackles last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and he only played roughly 60 percent of the defensive snaps. (And that total was just for the regular season; it doesn't count his swing-and-a-miss on Danny Amendola's touchdown catch in the playoffs.) Elam lost his starting job to Will Hill last year and looked lost at times as the Ravens shuttled him from free safety to strong safety and even to nickel back in their constant search for answers.

As Elam met with reporters in the Ravens locker room at the end of last season, he spoke in hushed tones barely above a whisper. He looked downtrodden, as if the season had beaten him down, stripped away all his confidence. Over the winter, Ozzie Newsome turned up the heat, declaring at the "State of the Ravens" news conference that "Matt Elam has to be a better football player for us next year. He has to be." By all accounts, Elam got the message.

He reported to OTAs this spring in the best shape of his career. He seemed to have a renewed focus and energy. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees declared after one OTA workout that Elam was having the "best camp he’s had, bar none, not even close."

And now, in the third practice of training camp, his season has come to a crashing halt. "I feel bad for Matt, just because he was doing so well," coach John Harbaugh said after the Ravens stadium practice on Monday night. "I think he really had been determined to change."

Pees has been around the NFL for 12 years, and he has said that he has seen many players who need a few years to mature and reach their potential. So he was not closing the door on Elam, who by the way, is still just 23. "I know they’re some critics out there, but I’m just telling you, I think (Elam) is going to be a good football player," Pees added.

Maybe it took Elam two years-plus to figure it all out. The problem is, now it will be another whole year before he gets to show whether that's true.

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o's at oakland: can't win if you score zero runs

Failing to get to rookie pitcher Chris Bassitt early, the Birds fell into third place in the A.L. East last night after losing 5-0 to the A's in Oakland. The O's (54-52) had a base runner in each of the first five innings but couldn't push a run across, while Oakland was scoreless until the 5th when they scored their first run of the game. Marcus Semien then hit a 3-run homer off of Chaz Roe in the next inning and the Birds went quietly until the 9th when they had two runners on with one out, but Caleb Joseph (strike out) and Jonathan Schoop (fly ball out) ended it for the visitors.

semien
Marcus Semien's 10th home run was the back breaker last night.

Miguel Gonzalez was decent enough until the 6th inning, but Billy Butler (double) and Brett Lawrie (triple) forced him out of the game and Roe eventually allowed Semien's big blow to put the game out of reach. Gonzalez worked 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs.

Following today's finale in Oakland, the Birds head down the coast for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels that starts on Friday night.

Elsewhere in the American League East on Tuesday night, the Yankees (60-45) beat Boston, 13-3, Toronto (56-52) edged Minnesota, 3-1, and Tampa Bay (54-54) clobbered the White Sox in Chicago, 13-3.



WEDNESDAY'S MATCHUP
at
OAKLAND
W. CHEN
(5-6, 3.24)
K. GRAVEMAN
(6-7, 3.84)
3:35 PM
O.co Coliseum, Oakland




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expect the big boys to shine at firestone cc this week

Most weeks when I go through the field and make my handful of selections for the upcoming PGA Tour event, I throw in a Top 100 player in addition to a couple of obvious favorites. Week in and week out, someone you'd wouldn't have otherwise figured to play well winds up hanging around for three days or so. Look no further than last week, when unheralded Troy Merritt beat a "decent" field at the Quicken Loans National in Gainesville, Virginia.

Don't expect an unknown to be hanging around on the back nine this week when Firestone CC hosts the World Golf Championships Brigestone Invitational. Nineteen of the last twenty champions at Firestone have won major championships, so this is typically NOT a place where an also-ran wins out of nowhere. One thing for sure: Tiger Woods isn't winning this week. He didn't qualify for the event. Read that again for confirmation: Tiger Woods didn't qualify for this week's WGC event at Firestone. My, how the mighty have fallen.

What I will do, in addition to giving you my three favorites and the winner, is give you a couple of guys you might get for a decent price in your fantasy golf league. I'm not saying a guy like Russell Henley CAN'T win, because he could. He just doesn't fit the profile of a guy who wins at Firestone. Nevertheless, I'll dig in and give you three "good money" selections, too.

You're just foolish if you don't have Jordan Spieth on your roster this week. He's suddenly become a legitimate threat to win every time he tees it up and this week shouldn't be any different. While he might struggle with the length of next week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, he should be able to navigate the 7200 yards of Firestone's South Course without much difficulty. I don't need to reach into the stats book to show you what he's done at this event in the past. All that matters is now. When Spieth is in the field, he can win. Play him.

I like Jim Furyk's chances at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He has a handful of Top 5's over the summer including a 4th place finish at the Canadian Open two weeks ago. He also has three straight Top 15's at Firestone CC. Knows the course, hits it right-to-left off the tee, which helps just about everywhere except #16, and should be a factor come Sunday afternoon.

keegan
A past winner at Firestone and a major champion -- makes for a good pick this week.

I'm going to take a true "flyer" on the winner this week and go with Keegan Bradley, who won the event in 2012 and was T2 in 2013 and T4 in 2014. He has not played all that well this summer, but he'll get some good vibes on Thursday when he tees it up in round one. It's just like him to win this week. Hasn't been heard from for most of the summer, pops up and wins when you don't expect it. A bit of a longshot, yes, but you can't ignore how well he's played the course.

Others worth playing:

Ryan Palmer has played the WGC-Bridgestone twice and has a T2 and a T3.

David Lingmerth has played VERY well over the last six weeks. Might be having a breakthrough year.

Danny Lee has been exceptionally strong since winning last month. Weekly, he's a threat now.

Tuesday
August 4, 2015
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Issue 4

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ravens already implementing their "next man up" theory

Yesterday's update on Matt Elam's injury, as expected, wasn't good news. Elam will miss the entire 2015 season after suffering a torn biceps muscle in Sunday's practice. The status was confirmed after a MRI confirmed the tear.

As I offered in Monday's #DMD -- before the "season ending" announcement came -- please don't think for a minute the Ravens are a better team WITHOUT Elam on the active roster for the regular season. While it's not a blow in the way it would be if, say, Joe Flacco or Terrell Suggs went out with a similar injury, it's still going to create a challenge for the team's depth chart and now means Will Hill is the favorite to start at strong safety in 2015. He's a decent player, nothing more, and with Elam out, the options start to really drop off if Hill gets hurt during the season.

Elam was facing the most important campaign of his still-young career in 2015. He was a work in progress in 2013 as a rookie, then clearly regressed in 2014. His downturn was so obvious and troubling to the Ravens coaching staff and front office brass that Ozzie Newsome publicly mentioned Elam as a player who "needs to get better" during a press conference last spring. When soft-spoken Ozzie mentions you by name -- especially to the media -- you know you're at a crossroads.

I had the occasion to spend some time with Ravens coach John Harbaugh back in mid-June, away from the football field. Relaxed, chatty and open, Harbaugh was genuinely impressed with the work Elam had put in during the spring months and thought he had, perhaps, turned the corner. I've become fairly adept at picking up "coach speak" over the years, but my sense when talking to Harbaugh was that he was legitimately optimistic about Elam and the progress he had made since the 2015 playoff run ended last January.

hill
Will Hill figures to be the incumbent at strong safety with Matt Elam out for the year.

Elam's absence isn't going to suddenly make the Ravens any less of a Super Bowl contender, but losing someone at the top of your depth chart isn't a great way to start camp. That said, the optimist might point out that if you're going to lose a key figure, lose him in the first week so others have plenty of time to assert themselves and make a case for playing time. That's a fair way to look at the likes of Will Hill, Anthony Levine and Brynden Trawick. They each now have the better part of five weeks to work their way into the starting lineup and do so not by default, but by picking up the system, working hard and separating themselves from the others.

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who's going to pittsburgh with us on oct. 1 for ravens/steelers?

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally televised game between the Ravens and Steelers at 8:25 pm. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arriving in Pittsburgh at approximately 5:00 pm. We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches for everyone to take with them once we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but you'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240.00, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip). We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fan on Oct. 1 in Pittsburgh.

We're now taking reservations for both trips. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to either New York or Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale.

I'll make everyone an early-bird discount offer of $25.00 until Friday, August 14. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $240. Just reserve your seat(s) on the trip before August 14 and you'll pay $215 instead of $240.

How do you reserve your seat on the Steelers trip? E-mail me directly -- 18inarow at gmail.com -- and let me know how many seats you want. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.

UPDATE: We have reservations for 11 seats thus far. Only 29 remain.

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west coast trip starts with an o's blowout

You can't win all nine of 'em on the road trip unless you win the first one.

The Orioles kicked off a crucial 9-game road swing with a 9-2 pasting of the Athletics on Monday night in Oakland, hopping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a Chris Davis home run and never being threatened from there. Tyler Wilson was recalled from Norfolk to make the start in place of an ailing Chris Tillman and picked up the win, going 7.2 innings and allowing just two earned runs. Mychal Givens worked 1.1 innings and struck out three to finish up what Wilson handed him.

Every Orioles starter except for Matt Wieters (0-for-5) had a hit on Monday night, with Adam Jones and Jimmy Paredes (3 hits each) leading the way.



TUESDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
at
OAKLAND
M. GONZALEZ
(9-7, 4.28)
C. BASSITT
(0-4, 3.10)
10:05 PM
O.co Coliseum, Oakland




monday night american league east recap

Yankees (59-45), idle - home vs. Boston tonight

Orioles (54-51), 9-2 W over Oakland - at Oakland tonight

Blue Jays (55-52), 5-2 W over Minnesota - home vs. Minnesota tonight

Rays (53-54), 5-4 W over Chicago WS - at Chicago WS tonight

Monday
August 3, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 3

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everyone's talking about
ronda somebody or other —
so i checked her out

Anyone that knows me can tell you I have almost ZERO interest in MMA or UFC fighting. It's not that I'm against it per se. In my days on the radio I'd regularly interview John Rallo, the local promoter of MMA-style fighting, and found him to be an impressive man with a unique mix of sports marketing and fight marketing to his credit. I've watched a few MMA/UFC fights and it's just not my thing. But I'm not a hater. I just don't follow it.

This past Friday night, after the Orioles-Tigers game, I happened to stumble upon a made-for-TV special promoting Saturday night's showdown between two female fighters, Ronda Rousey and Bethe Correira. It really served more as white noise than anything. I was doing some work and would occasionally look up to catch a minute or two of the show. In short, I figured out Rousey was the champ who was going to the challenger's home country of Brazil to fight her on Saturday evening. Correira said some things about Rousey's deceased father that could have been interpreted as either a gross misuse of a phrase or an intentional jab at Rousey's past. Either way, Rousey didn't like it and that wound up being a focal point of the final 15 minutes of the show. The champion talking about beating the smack out of Correira while the challenger yapping about how Rousey was in for some rude treatment on Saturday night.

No, I didn't pay for the fight like millions of Americans did. That's not what this is about. Had I forked over the money for it on pay-per-view, I'm sure I would have been frustrated. The introduction of the two fighters lasted longer than the actual fight itself. Rousey pounded her for fifteen seconds, knocked her down with a couple of vicious strikes to the face, and that was all she wrote. Ballgame.

rousey
This is one tough young lady. More heart than anyone on the Philadelphia Flyers, that's for sure.

I'll admit I'm a MMA-neophyte, but Rousey is a marketer's dream. Not that men like me who DON'T like MMA fighting will suddenly gravitate to it because someone like Ronda Rousey is making headlines, but let's put it like this: I don't know the name of one MALE fighter in the MMA or UFC but I know Ronda Rousey's name. And her face. I'm not a likely candidate to buy her next fight, simply because I don't see the promise of getting my money's worth since it's likely she'll once again smash her next opponent in under a minute. But I'm interested, now. I don't know how long female fighters go between fights but whenever it occurs, I'll be following it.

That's one mean girl, by the way. She could scare you into buying the fight on pay-per-view.

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a series split with that sorry detroit team isn't what the O's needed

A 5-2 homestand isn't anything to be disappointed over, but Sunday's 6-1 loss to the Tigers adds four more days to the calendar where the O's didn't really generate any new momentum as the final two months of the season commence. The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Sunday and waltzed in from there, as the Birds looked listless, disinterested and basically, just not into it. Even Buck Showalter fell victim to the Sunday Snooze, as he eschewed a first-inning walk to red-hot J.D. Martinez and pitched to him with runners on 2nd and 3rd—and Martinez promptly deposited his 29th home run into the seats and that was that. Showalter could have put Martinez on first and had Ubaldo Jimenez face catcher James McCann. But he didn't. And Jimenez didn't get Martinez out.

martinez
It was no surprise when J.D. Martinez homered in the first inning on Sunday—he crushes O's pitching at Camden Yards.

Interestingly enough, just based on the fact the Orioles trailed 7-0, 6-0 and 3-0 in three of the four games vs. Detroit, a split of the series is probably more than acceptable. Sadly, though, the Tigers squad that flew out of Baltimore late Sunday night is in mop-up-land now, having dealt away their top pitcher and best outfielder before Friday's trade deadline. They were ripe for a four-game battering at OPACY, but the Birds could only get one decent outing from a starting pitcher and Detroit salvaged a split with Sunday's win.

This is a huge nine-game road trip for the O's that starts tonight in Oakland. The Birds face an A's team and a Mariners squad that are all but removed from the playoff race before concluding the trip in Anaheim next week. It's not quite time to start labeling a series or two as "must win," but a 5-4 road trip would be a success and 6-3 would be superb. I'd say something about 7-2, but that might be getting greedy, so I'll settle for 5-4 and hope for 6-3.


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here's what the american league east looks like as august begins

Yankees (59-45) – New York continues to roll, now enjoying a full 6-game lead in the East over the Orioles and Blue Jays. Here's their scheduling benefit: the Yankees have played 47 home games thus far—and 57 road games. When you look at that stat alone, you might start getting a little worried if you're in Baltimore or Toronto. This week – Home vs. Boston (3) and Toronto (3).

texeira
Anyone but this guy, right? Anyone.…

Orioles (53-51) – The Birds have played the exact same number of home games (52) as road games, but they're 21-31 away from Camden Yards, which must be a concern for Buck Showalter as the season draws to a close. This week – Away at Oakland (3) and Seattle (3).

Blue Jays (54-52) – They went "all in" at the deadline by acquiring David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Now, we'll have to see if it pays off for Toronto. Like the Orioles, they've played the same number of home games (53) as away games. This week – Home vs. Minnesota (4), Away at New York (3).

Rays (52-54) – Still hanging in there, but they don't have the horses to by-pass the three teams above them in the East, particularly now that they've lost power hitter Steven Souza for 4-6 weeks with a broken hand. This week – Away at Chicago White Sox (3), Home vs. New York Mets (3).

Red Sox (47-59) – Get out the fork. Stick it in them. Done.

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elam injury, believe it or not, could hurt ravens

If Ravens safety Matt Elam is indeed out for the season with a torn biceps, don't discount that as "addition by subtraction" like a lot of purple enthusiasts were shouting yesterday when news about the injury surfaced out of Owings Mills. Elam has clearly been less-than-effective in his two seasons in Baltimore, but two years of experience is always better than two years WITHOUT experience. It does count for something.

All you have to do is remember how Jimmy Smith wallowed through his first couple of years in the league. True, he was hurt in his NFL debut (on the opening kick-off no less) and his rookie season was pretty much lost at that point, but it took Smith a few years to get his feet under him and start looking like a first-round draft pick. I'm not saying the exact same path is going to be followed by Elam, but he was a first-round selection for a reason. He has a skill set that can come in handy, particularly given the less than physical nature of the rest of the Baltimore secondary.

If the early "guesswork" about Elam's injury and MRI are true, he's done for the year. That would be a shame for him, personally, as this could have been a breakthrough season if things fell into place for the former University of Florida safety.

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Merritt goes one way, Chappell the other, at Quicken Loans National

Two players without a PGA Tour win shared the 54-hole lead heading into Sunday's final round of the PGA Tour event at Robert Trent Jones GC in Northern Virginia. Could Troy Merritt or Kevin Chappell ward off the demons that usually accompany a player on the verge of his first career victory? Or would the two fall apart under the immense pressure of winning and collecting the various treasures that go with it? — entry into WGC events, the upcoming PGA Championship, and next year's Masters.

chappell
This is what a final round 77 looks like when you had a chance to win and shot 41 on the back nine.

Sadly, Chappell fell apart on Sunday. Merritt did not. He captured his first title with birdies at 16 and 18, winning the event by three shots over now perennial-weekly-contender Rickie Fowler. Chappell fired a final-round 77 that dropped him to 18th place. The day started horribly for him, as he made bogey at the first two holes, but three front-nine birdies helped him make the turn at even par 36 and still -14 for the tournament. A disastrous six-over-par 41 on the back nine crushed his chances of winning for the first time on Tour.

Merritt, meanwhile, got off to a calming start with a birdie on the first hole and an opening nine of 33 to take the lead. He made an early back-nine bogey before nearly making a hole-in-one at 16 and settling for an easy birdie and a two-shot lead. His birdie at 18 only helped folks like me who had him on our fantasy-golf teams, and Troy Merritt hoisted a PGA Tour trophy above his head for the first time in his four-year career.

Tiger Woods rebounded from his lackluster Saturday round of 74 to post a 68 on Sunday and finish at 8-under par and tied with Chappell and several others in 18th place. Woods said all the right things on Sunday following his third under-par round of the tournament, but that ugly 74 on Saturday must still be sticking in his craw. I will say, though, his swing and short game look much more in line with what we used to see from the 14-time major champion. I won't be picking him to win at Whistling Straits (PGA Championship) in a few weeks, but he just MIGHT be trending up as the FedEx Cup Playoffs approach.

Oh, that's right. Tiger's not actually IN the FedEx Cup Playoffs yet. He will likely need a high finish in the PGA Championship to make the playoffs. He is NOT eligible for next week's World Golf Championships event at Firestone CC, so the last chance for Woods to make it could be the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro the week after the PGA at Whistling Straits.


if you didn't see the roddy piper/chris thomas story yesterday, here it is

A Sunday in August is one of our lighter viewership days, so I'm going to run yesterday's piece about Roddy Piper again this morning just in case you didn't see it yesterday. I think you'll find it wildly entertaining and a great salute to Piper.



"...and i'm all out of bubblegum"

Way back in the days when professional wrestling was about character, entertainment and creating a scenario that had you forgetting it was all staged, the great Roddy Piper was as good as they came. Without question -- and in the 1980's I was probably a "9" as a wrestling fan -- he was my favorite grappler of all-time. Stone Cold Steve Austin was a phenonemal personality during his hey day of constant friction with Vince McMahon and Rick Flair was as good as anyone at making you laugh, but Piper had it all. He was the guy who could talk-the-talk AND walk-the-walk.

piper
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, one of wrestling's kingpins.

Piper's death on Friday at age 61 isn't so much a blow to wrestling, since at most he was ceremonial these days, buzzing around the country picking up ten grand here or there for a card show appearance or a night at an indie wrestling event. It's a heart-hurting loss, though, to those of us who have entered life's back nine and can remember with great fondness those nights in front of the TV when Piper would act the fool, hit a guy with a coconut or a chair and proudly stomp around like he was the cat's meow.

"I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum," Piper would scream into the TV camera as he bloodied another challenger. "And I'm all out of bubblegum."

During my days in radio, I would tell this story once a year or so whenever Piper's name came up or an occasional light day of content left me with time to fill and laughs to spill. If you've heard it, you probably won't mind reading it one final time. If it's your first time hearing the "Piper/Chris Thomas story", grab a snack and a drink and settle in for a few minutes. It's worth it.

Those of you who were in Baltimore in the 1980's no doubt remember a sportscaster at Channel 11 named Chris Thomas. He was hell-on-wheels, often times hanging out at P.J. Cricketts or Peter's Pub on a Friday night until right around 10:30 pm -- with a TV sportscast to do up off of 41st Street at 11:20 pm. There were PLENTY of nights when, ummm, shall we say, Chris made it to the set on time, but wasn't in the best of conditions when it came time to deliver the scores. Thomas was a huge pro wrestling fan back then, which was also an oddity, because most "mainstream" sports folks would never lower themselves to admitting they liked "fake" athletic events. I was working for the Blast in the mid 1980's when, on a Friday afternoon, Thomas came barging into my office in the then-called Baltimore Arena and proudly proclaimed, "I got Roddy Piper coming on with me at 5:30 tonight!" The WWF (WWE) was in town for one of their main event national TV shows and Piper was wrestling in one of the showcase matches. Thomas was like a kid in a candy shop, giddy with excitement, pacing around the Blast offices, flirting with the female employees, yapping with his good friend Kenny Cooper and bouncing around like a 7-year old drinking warm Pepsi at the family picnic.

piper2
No one could play the heel with the smile and (supposed) kindness of the great Roddy Piper.

There's the framework of this great story, which goes like this:

Thomas set up the Piper interview through the WWF public relations folks and right around 5:15 pm or so, Roddy bounded on the Arena stage as Thomas thumbed through his notes for the sportscast. Beer in hand, dressed in his kilt and "Hot Rod" t-shirt, Piper introduced himself and the two exchanged small talk for a few minutes.

Finally, the wrestler said, "OK, what time are we doing this?"

"We go on at 5:38," Thomas replied.

Piper shot back, "OK, exactly 5:38, right? Not 5:40. 5:38? I don't want to be standing around. If it's 5:38, that's fine."

"Yep, we hit at exactly 5:38," confirmed Thomas.

"Great, I'll see you then," said Piper as he exited the stage and headed off to wherever a wrestler goes four hours before the curtain goes up.

At 5:35, Thomas started looking for Piper but he wasn't around. He started to get nervous, but with the sportscast just minutes away, he needed to get himself prepared to deliver three and a half minutes of content. At 5:37, there was still no Piper. Thomas assumed the interview wasn't happening. Back at the studio, the anchor threw it to Thomas by hinting about the Piper segment. "We hear Chris Thomas has a very special guest down at the Baltimore Arena, Chris...take it away."

With no Piper on hand, Thomas didn't really know what to say. He took a second to compose himself and said, "Well, we were hoping to ha --"

He never got the word "have" out of his mouth. Piper darted from behind the curtain next to the stage, hit the TV sportscaster in the head with his forearm, knocking Thomas down to the ground. It was "fake", but it was hard. And Thomas wasn't pretending when he fell to the Arena stage. Piper grabbed the microphone Thomas had been holding and started stomping on him, spitting, cackling, kicking and yelling all kinds of craziness. "That's what I'm going to do tonight, right here in Baltimore!" yelled Piper. "I'm gonna pound on Jimmy Snuka just like I'm pounding on this TV chump!"

He kicked Thomas a few more times, threw a half-empty beer can on him, and walked off. Thomas, in pain, but breathing still, picked the microphone off the floor, looked at the camera and said, "I think we'll send it back to you guys."

Thomas got up, looked to his right, and there was Piper, beaming like he just found out he won the lottery. He strolled over and said, "How was I? Pretty good? I thought it went great."

The same line could be used for Piper's career. It went great. Thanks for the memories, Hot Rod.

Sunday
August 2, 2015
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Issue 2

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"… and i'm all out of bubblegum"

Way back in the days when professional wrestling was about character, entertainment and creating a scenario that had you forgetting it was all staged, the great Roddy Piper was as good as they came. Without question—and in the 1980's I was probably a "9" as a wrestling fan—he was my favorite grappler of all-time. Stone Cold Steve Austin was a phenonemal personality during his heyday of constant friction with Vince McMahon, and Rick Flair was as good as anyone at making you laugh, but Piper had it all. He was the guy who could talk-the-talk AND walk-the-walk.

piper
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper, one of wrestling's kingpins.

Piper's death on Friday at age 61 isn't so much a blow to wrestling, since at most he was ceremonial these days, buzzing around the country picking up ten grand here or there for a card-show appearance or a night at an indie wrestling event. It's a heart-hurting loss, though, to those of us who have entered life's back nine and can remember with great fondness those nights in front of the TV when Piper would act the fool, hit a guy with a coconut or a chair and proudly stomp around like he was the cat's meow.

"I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum," Piper would scream into the TV camera as he bloodied another challenger. "And I'm all out of bubblegum."

During my days in radio, I would tell this story once a year or so whenever Piper's name came up or an occasional light day of content left me with time to fill and laughs to spill. If you've heard it, you probably won't mind reading it one final time. If it's your first time hearing the "Piper/Chris Thomas story," grab a snack and a drink and settle in for a few minutes. It's worth it.

Those of you who were in Baltimore in the 1980's no doubt remember a sportscaster at Channel 11 named Chris Thomas. He was hell-on-wheels, often times hanging out at P.J. Cricketts or Peter's Pub on a Friday night until right around 10:30 pm—with a TV sportscast to do up off of 41st Street at 11:20 pm. There were PLENTY of nights when, ummm, shall we say, Chris made it to the set on time, but wasn't in the best of condition when it came time to deliver the scores. Thomas was a huge pro wrestling fan back then, which was also an oddity, because most "mainstream" sports folks would never lower themselves to admitting they liked "fake" athletic events. I was working for the Blast in the mid 1980's when, on a Friday afternoon, Thomas came barging into my office in the then-called Baltimore Arena and proudly proclaimed, "I got Roddy Piper coming on with me at 5:30 tonight!" The WWF (WWE) was in town for one of their main event national TV shows and Piper was wrestling in one of the showcase matches. Thomas was like a kid in a candy shop, giddy with excitement, pacing around the Blast offices, flirting with the female employees, yapping with his good friend Kenny Cooper and bouncing around like a seven-year-old drinking warm Pepsi at the family picnic.

piper2
No one could play the heel with the smile and (supposed) kindness of the great Roddy Piper.

There's the framework of this great story, which goes like this:

Thomas set up the Piper interview through the WWF public relations folks, and right around 5:15 p.m. or so, Roddy bounded on the Arena stage as Thomas thumbed through his notes for the sportscast. Beer in hand, dressed in his kilt and "Hot Rod" T-shirt, Piper introduced himself and the two exchanged small talk for a few minutes.

Finally, the wrestler said, "OK, what time are we doing this?"

"We go on at 5:38," Thomas replied.

Piper shot back, "OK, exactly 5:38, right? Not 5:40; 5:38? I don't want to be standing around. If it's 5:38, that's fine."

"Yep, we hit at exactly 5:38," confirmed Thomas.

"Great, I'll see you then," said Piper as he exited the stage and headed off to wherever a wrestler goes before the curtain goes up.

At 5:35, Thomas started looking for Piper but he wasn't around. He started to get nervous, but with the sportscast just minutes away, he needed to get himself prepared to deliver three and a half minutes of content. At 5:37, there was still no Piper. Thomas assumed the interview wasn't happening. Back at the studio, the anchor threw it to Thomas by hinting about the Piper segment. "We hear Chris Thomas has a very special guest down at the Baltimore Arena. Chris—take it away."

With no Piper on hand, Thomas didn't really know what to say. He took a second to compose himself and said, "Well, we were hoping to ha --"

He never got the word "have" out of his mouth. Piper darted from behind the curtain next to the stage, hit the TV sportscaster in the head with his forearm, knocking Thomas down to the ground. It was "fake," but it was hard. And Thomas wasn't pretending when he fell to the Arena stage. Piper grabbed the microphone Thomas had been holding and started stomping on him, spitting, cackling, kicking and yelling all kinds of craziness. "That's what I'm going to do tonight, right here in Baltimore!" yelled Piper. "I'm gonna pound on Jimmy Snuka just like I'm pounding on this TV chump!"

He kicked Thomas a few more times, threw a half-empty beer can on him, and walked off. Thomas, in pain, but breathing still, picked the microphone off the floor, looked at the camera and said, "I think we'll send it back to you guys."

Thomas got up, looked to his right, and there was Piper, beaming like he just found out he won the lottery. He strolled over and said, "How was I? Pretty good? I thought it went great."

The same line could be used for Piper's career. It went great. Thanks for the memories, Hot Rod.

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don't look now, but here come the birds

Winners of seven of eight and now within five games of the Yankees, the Orioles might be starting to percolate at just the right time. Last night's 6-2 breeze over the Tigers featured a stellar pitching performance from Kevin Gausman and a ten-hit attack that included a two-run homer from Caleb Joseph.

joseph
While #DMD watched his brother, Corban, at last night's Bowie game, Caleb Joseph socked a 2-run homer for the Birds.

Newcomer Gerardo Parra made his orange-and-black debut in left field and collected a hit and a walk in four plate appearances. Baltimore has one more home contest with the suddenly-hapless Tigers and then it's off to the West Coast for nine games, where the O's get to meet up with a couple of teams (Oakland and Seattle) who have more or less packed it in for the 2015 campaign.

While the Birds were winning on Saturday, the rest of the division took it on the chin. The Yankees were routed in Chicago while Toronto and Tampa Bay both lost as well.



SUNDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
D. NORRIS
(1-1, 3.86)
U. JIMENEZ
(8-6, 3.73)
1:35 PM
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

a great time was had by all at last night's baysox game

Unfortunately we didn't get to see a Baysox victory, but 40 #DMD enthusiasts took in Saturday night's Bowie-Trenton game (a 6-4 win for the visitors) and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The kids had a blast. It was "Super Hero" night in Bowie, with over 25 super-hero and comic-book characters on hand to meet and greet the youngsters, pose for pictures, and take part in between-innings fun and frolic on the field.

bowie
Patrick Lund, right, of Orlando Products, had a blast with us at last night's Baysox game.

Several #DMD corporate partners joined us, including friends from Harpoon Brewery, Advanced Heating and Cooling, Jerry's Toyota-Scion and Orlando Products.

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If you haven't been to a Baysox game this season, you owe it to yourself to get down there during the month of August. It's a terrific night (or day) for baseball and access in and out of the ballpark is a walk-in-the-park. It's literally two minutes off Route 301, parking is free, and you're within 200 yards of the front door of the stadium no matter where you park. Tickets are affordable, the food and drink selections are varied, and it's a nice place to watch a baseball game. Trust me, if you go once, you'll go back a few times each season to take advantage of the many promotional nights they put together down there.

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saturday was "moving day" for tiger, but he went the wrong way

That went just about as I expected it would for Tiger Woods in round three of the Quicken Loans National at Robert Trent Jones GC in Northern Virginia. Actually, in Saturday morning's edition of #DMD, I predicted Woods would shoot 72 in the third round. I was wrong. He shot 74. Tiger, for as much as it appears he might be starting to make real, discernible progress with his golf game, can't shake those Saturday blah's, as he once again failed to break par for a Saturday round on the PGA Tour. In his last four tournaments—dating back to early May at The Player's—Woods has posted rounds of 75, 85, 71 (par 70) and 74 in round three.

merritt
Troy Merritt has never won on the PGA Tour. He's 18 holes away from possibly doing that at the Quicken Loans National.

Excellent golf was played on Saturday, though, as a host of players produced low rounds to create quite the logjam at the top of the leaderboard heading into Sunday's final round. Troy Merritt shot 61 on Saturday to share the 54-hole lead at 14-under par with Kevin Chappell. Rickie Fowler (-13) sits one behind those two, with Jason Bohn, Whee Kim, Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth just two behind at -12 for the tournament.

Sunday is a big day for the two co-leaders. Merritt has only made 11 of 24 cuts this year and is winless in 95 career events on the PGA Tour. Chappell is cut from the same cloth, with 13 cuts made in 22 events and no wins in 135 starts on the TOUR. For either of those two, a win on Sunday would be a monumental occasion in their career.

Saturday
August 1, 2015
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Issue 1

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let's see what a day of wheeling and dealing gets the O's

In yesterday's edition of #DMD, I offered the thought that Friday, July 31 would be Dan Duquette's day to shine. Or not. Like a number of other GM's in the major leagues, Duquette was playing the ultimate game of front-office poker. He balked at giving up a hot prospect like Mychal Givens and waited out potential trade partners until someone blinked. Now, we get to see who made the right move.

The ten-second recap of Friday's activity goes like this:

Bud Norris, gone. The O's designated Norris for assignment, which essentially means they don't want him giving up two or three runs per-relief-outing any longer. They have ten days to trade him or they'll have to release him outright. Having watched that horrendous, Double A bullpen of the Tigers for the last two nights, I can't believe for a minute Detroit couldn't use Norris. Either way, though, his Orioles tenure appears to be over.

Chris Parmelee, gone. The O's also designated him for assignment on Friday. My guess is no one rushes to his agent to bring Parmelee on board. It wouldn't shock me at all to see him back in Norfolk at some point.

hunter
Tommy Hunter thanked the fans, the club and his teammates after Friday's trade. He went out with class.

Tommy Hunter, gone. Traded to the Chicago Cubs in the midst of what was, for the most part, a relatively productive season for the bulky right hander.

Zach Davies, gone. A minor league pitcher with impressive progress reports, but not one of those "must keep" types. He's headed to Milwaukee.

Gerardo Parra, here. Acquired from the Brewers, he'll play one of the corner outfield spots and likely hit lead-off for the time being. He's having a very good season at the plate and flashes a consistent glove defensively.

Junior Lake, here. A 25-year old outfielder acquired from the Cubs, he'll likely come up in September when the rosters expand and then have a legitimate chance to earn a starting spot in spring training next March.

Those are the main principles of Duquette's busy Friday. I was VERY surprised that the club cut bait with Norris, since his $8.8 million contract for 2015 is guaranteed, no matter what he does or for whom he pitches over the next two months. I'm not saying it was the wrong move. Norris couldn't get anyone out if he was starting. And he couldn't get anyone out if he was working out of the bullpen. But just sending him packing is a pretty extreme move. The Parra deal is interesting when you consider he's a free agent at the end of the season. I wrote back in mid-July that I thought Parra would be a nice addition if the O's could swing a deadline deal and I'm sticking with that thought now that they've done it. There's always a transition coming from the National League to the American League, but he's having a heckuva offensive season and could be just what the Orioles need as they start to enter the stretch run. If he signs with somenoe else in the off-season, the O's wound up giving away Zach Davies for a two-month rental. I think they'll survive.

parra
If the Orioles are going to make a playoff run, newcomer Parra has to produce.

I wish Duquette's summer trading track record was more impressive—if it were, I'd be a little more comfortable with the two deals he made on Friday. Looking back at his tenure, Duquette has been active in July and August, but none of the players he acquired for immediate help ended up being a major contributor the following season. Scott Feldman, Michael Morse, Bud Norris, Andrew Miller, Alejandro De Aza—just to name five. All came in with hope—and cost something to get—but none stuck around long enough to make the trade a slam-dunk "win" for the Orioles. Such is the nature of deadline deals. They're always about the moment and rarely about the future. You're looking for an immediate spark, mainly, or a glaring hole to fill. In the O's case this season, the Parra deal fits both ends of that quest. Notwithstanding the pounding of the hapless Tigers pitching staff over the last two nights, the Orioles offense needs some help. They need a spark. They need someone to get on base, create some energy and, hopefully, produce more runs. Perhaps Parra can do that.

I'm always in favor of getting good players. Parra is a good player, perhaps even a VERY good player. He's definitely better than either Nolan Reimold or Travis Snider, the two guys he figures to displace when he starts tonight's game against Detroit. I don't mind giving up Zach Davies, because he wasn't going to help right now. Parra could help the Birds reach the playoffs again, and as the Giants and Royals both proved last year when they made the Wild Card game, won that one-game affair, then proceeded to play in the World Series—just getting there is all that matters. Once you're in the playoffs, you never know what's going to happen.

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birds continue to feast on horrible detroit pitching

When did the Tigers get this bad? I know, they've been without Miguel Cabrera for nearly a month, but he's an All-Star OFFENSIVE player—he doesn't pitch. Then again, he might be better than some of those scrubs the Tigers have sent to the mound in the first two games of this series in Baltimore, where the Birds have produced sixteen runs. The O's came back from a 6-0 deficit on Friday night to win 8-7, thanks in large part to another evening of bullpen follies from Detroit and some excellent relief work from Mychael Givens, Darren O'Day and Zach Britton. Adam Jones (3-run) and Manny Machado (2-run) hit homers for the Birds, who have experienced their only pitching problems over the last two nights. Miguel Gonzalez got rocked in Thursday's opener and Wei-Yin Chen was blistered on Friday night, allowing six earned runs in 3.1 innings of work. Things are going to have to improve, starting-pitching-wise, if the Birds are going to make a run at the Yankees (and Blue Jays, perhaps) over the next two months. They'll never beat decent teams allowing six earned runs in four innings like they gave up on Thursday and Friday.



SATURDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
A. SANCHEZ
(10-8, 4.61)
K. GAUSMAN
(1-2, 4.20)
7:05 PM
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

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could this be tiger's return to glory?

Don't look now, but his name is on the first page of the leaderboard again. True, we're only 36 holes into a 72-hole event, but Tiger Woods is again lurking at a PGA Tour event, searching for his first win since 2013 and 80th career victory. There's a lot of golf left, but there's no denying that this is the most dangerous Tiger has looked in a long, long time. Perhaps it's the familiarity of the Robert Trent Jones course in Northern Virginia. Maybe the somewhat weak field is helping Tiger's cause. Or, maybe, just maybe, all that talk about "being close," "getting better" and "needing more reps" was all on the up and up. Woods sits at 8-under-par through two rounds, just three shots behind midway-point leader Ryo Ishikawa.

tiger
We haven't seen that smile in a long, long time. Eight-under-par after two rounds will do that to a man.

There's no denying that Tiger's return to the front page of the sports world is GREAT for golf. Whether or not he wins this weekend, his Thursday-Friday performance is precisely what Woods needed to re-assure himself that all the work he's put in over the last year might pay off sometime soon. With the PGA Championship coming up in two weeks, Tiger needs a tournament like this to ready himself for a shot at winning his 15th career major and first since June of 2008. If you're pressing me for a prediction, I'll say Woods shoots 72-67 on the weekend and finishes in 12th place. I'd LOVE to see him win, honestly, but I'm not sure his swing is ready to hold up under back-nine pressure on Sunday.

My three picks from last Wednesday's #DMD are all in great shape with 36 holes to play. Rickie Fowler (-10) is in second place, Pat Perez (-8) is right there, too, and Justin Rose (-5) is only one low round away from being in the hunt on Sunday.

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orioles and ravens trips are now on sale!

I'm excited to announce two upcoming #DMD trips for those of you interested in taking a one-day journey with us to support our Baltimore teams.

yankee
If you haven't been to Yankee Stadium, you have a chance on Sept. 8.

On Tuesday, September 8, we're heading to the Bronx for a late-season battle between the Orioles and Yankees. Game time is 7:05 pm. It's an "up-and-back" trip. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arrive in the Bronx at roughly 4:00 pm, and have time for a pre-game tailgate party (provided as part of your cost) before checking out the game at Yankee Stadium. We'll head back to Baltimore after the game. The per-person price for this trip is $110.00, which gets you an upper reserved seat in the stadium, a safe, relaxing motor coach ride, lunch on the way up to New York, and pre-game food and beverages once we arrive at the stadium parking lot.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fan on Oct. 1 in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally televised game between the Ravens and Steelers at 8:25 pm. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arriving in Pittsburgh at approximately 5:00 pm. We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches for everyone to take with them once we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but you'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240.00, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip). We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We're now taking reservations for both trips. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to either New York or Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale now.

I'll make everyone a special offer for the next two weeks. Beginning today, and running through Friday, August 14, your "early-bird" purchase for the Orioles/NY trip is $99 and the Ravens/Pittsburgh trip is $215. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $110 (Orioles) and $240 (Ravens).

How do you register for one or both trips? E-mail me directly -- 18inarow at gmail.com -- and let me know how many seats you want and for what trip. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.


Friday
July 31, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XII
Issue 31


today's the day for duquette to shine -- or not

Unless he's out-foxed everyone and the players he's wanted all along are still available, Dan Duquette might not be Baltimore's favorite son by this time tomorrow. For weeks, Orioles fans bickered back and forth on the concept of the Birds "buying" at the trade deadline -- or selling off several free agents as an admission of concession that the club's best hope for future success aren't in the dugout right now.

While several other American League teams have actively endeavored to improve themselves over the last week, the Orioles haven't done a thing. They haven't added anyone and they haven't sent anyone packing, either. That could change today, of course. Duquette still has time to work some magic, albeit with the clock ticking fast, but it's safe to say he's not going to be able to improve the Orioles nearly to the degree the Blue Jays bettered themselves this week with the addition of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. It's also fair to remember that this time last year, Oakland had a 2-game lead in the American League West and then went out during deadline-week and added pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel. What happened to them? They bottomed out in September and wound up losing the one-game Wild Card playoff to eventual A.L. Champion Kansas City. In other words: just because you add a quality player or two, there's no guarantee at all you're going to reap the benefits of those moves.

duquette
Is the O's GM going to buy, sell or stick with what he has?

I wrote last week here at #DMD that NOT knowing if you should be buyers or sellers is far worse than knowing which of the two positions you should take. I still think that's been the biggest obstacle for Duquette as he evaluates his team, its future and whether or not they're good enough this year. Every other week, the Orioles look terrible. The "in-between" week displays a different team, one very capable of reeling off five straight wins. When they're busy losing 15 of 20 like they did in mid-to-late July, you're quick -- and right -- to say, "This team doesn't have the firepower to make the playoffs and contend for the title this year. We need to move some pieces out of here, re-stock the farm system, and go get 'em next April." Then they go a week and only lose one game and you say, "You see, if we just add another decent bat or two and maybe one more reliable left hander in the bullpen, we could be dangerous in September."

There's no telling what has kept Duquette from trying to make deals. Maybe he really DOES believe this current edition of the Orioles is good enough. He might be subscring to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" theory even though the ballclub has hovered around .500 now for the better part of a month. There's a chance he fielded lots of calls about his players and wasn't able to pry enough quality away from an interested team to make the deal(s). And there's also a chance he wasn't willing to part company with the likes of Mychal Givens, Dylan Bundy or Dariel Alvarez in an effort to land a guy like Carlos Gomez, Ben Zobrist or Yoenis Cespedes. It's also hard to tell whether Duquette and Buck Showalter are working in concert with one another or does one of the two have a different belief than the other? Does Buck think they should stand pat and try to win with this group of players...and Duquette doesn't abide by that theory? Or is it vice versa? Buck's keen on saying, "I like our guys", but he can't possibly be in favor of trying to beat the Yankees and Blue Jays with guys like Nolan Reimold, Travis Snider and Chris Parmelee occupying three roster spots out of the 25 he's dealing with on a daily basis.

Who knows? By the time you read this on Friday morning, Duquette might have pulled off an overnight deal or two and the Orioles could have some new weapons for tonight's game with the Tigers. Perhaps a deal gets pulled off sometime late this afternoon. Or, this might just be what we're going to work with for the rest of the season. It's tough to swallow when you see the Blue Jays and Yankees both adding guys this week, but you can only do what you can do with the parts you have. I would have probably "sold" on guys like Wieters, Davis and Chen, mainly because I'm 95% sure all three are gone this winter via free agency, but I most certainly wouldn't have just given them away for the sake of doing it. But I don't run the team, Duquette does, and I'll still say the biggest hurdle he's faced is not REALLY knowing if the Orioles are good...or not good.

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drew's take: ravens on the pre-season hot seat

As is always the case in training camp, there will be several players on the proverbial roster bubble between now and the end of August when the 2015 53-man roster is set. I can't imagine there will be any earth-shattering personnel moves, but I'll give you three familiar names that need to break a sweat in camp, stay healthy and KEEP their roster spot before someone swipes it from him.

reid
He's dodged a number of pre-season bullets...can Jah Reid do it again?

OL, Jah Reid -- In what has seemingly become an annual rite of passage for Reid, he needs to have a solid training camp in order to stick around when the rosters are set. At some point, just "knowing the system" isn't going to be good enough to maintain his employment and I think this might be the year Reid gets the heave-ho. He needs to have a really good camp.

LB, Arthur Brown -- It's time for Brown to step up or step out. It's been a learning process for the linebacker over the last two years, but his appearance on the inactive list week after week tells the story. The coaching staff doesn't trust him and, as is often the case with "role players", he's not able to make an impact on special teams, either. Could become a training camp casualty if a guy like Zach Orr has a really good month of August.

DE, Lawrence Guy -- Guy actually made a contribution last year, but his role could be limited this season if Brent Urban is healthy and works his way into the rotation. His best bet, and I'm certainly hoping this DOESN'T happen, is an injury to another defensive end during training camp. With his experience and knowledge of the system, Guy is an easy player to keep around as long as there's not more quality elsewhere

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o's lose one the tigers wanted to give them

Talk about a weird game. The Orioles lost last night, 9-8, in a game that felt both like a win and a crushing, heartbreaker of a loss. Down 7-0 and 9-2, the Birds chipped away at a laughably pathetic Detroit bullpen, eventually cutting the lead to 9-8 heading to the 9th inning. Unfortunately, the comeback ended with the meat of the O's order unable to deliver, as Adam Jones (ground out), Chris Davis (strike-out) and J.J. Hardy (fielder's choice) couldn't come through with late-game magic. Hardy's game-ending out came with David Lough on first base representing the tying run.

The goat of the night for the Birds was starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who couldn't get out of the 4th inning after allowing 10 hits and five earned runs in 3.1 innings of work. Alfredo Simon got the win for Detroit, but he wasn't all that hot, either. In fact, he was so out of gas by the 5th inning he started throwing 65 mile per hour eephus pitches and actually got hitters out with them. It was like Eddie Harris of Major League-meets-Charlie Brown of Peanuts.


pga tour: birdies, birdies and more birdies in northern virginia

goosen
After a strong showing at the British Open two weeks ago, Retief Goosen fired a 63 on Thursday.

There for a minute on Thursday, I thought they moved the Quicken Loans National to Clifton Park. Every time I checked the leaderboard, I saw guys at -6, -7, -8 etc. And they're playing at Robert Trent Jones GC down in Northern Virginia, the former site of the President's Cup and a place where I didn't think guys would be firing 63's and 64's like you and I shoot 74's. 2-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen posted an 8-under 63, as did Ryo Ishikawa of Japan. Ernie Els, Kevin Chappell and Justin Leonard each shot 64 to sit one back after round one.

The golf course was so easy, even Tiger Woods broke par. Woods posted a 3-under par 68 despite rumors he has parted company with his relatively-new swing coach Chris Como, a story Tiger refuted at the end of the round.

My three picks from Wednesday's edition of #DMD all fared well on Thursday. Justin Rose (-5), Rickie Fowler and my winning selection, Pat Perez (-4) are all very much in the hunt with 54 holes remaining.

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orioles and ravens trips are now on sale!

I'm excited to announce two upcoming #DMD trips for those of you interested in taking a one-day journey with us to support our Baltimore teams.

yankee
If you haven't been to Yankee Stadium, you have a chance on Sept. 8.

On Tuesday, September 8, we're heading to the Bronx for a late-season battle between the Orioles and Yankees. Game time is 7:05 pm. It's an "up-and-back" trip. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arrive in the Bronx at roughly 4:00 pm, and have time for a pre-game tailgate party (provided as part of your cost) before checking out the game at Yankee Stadium. We'll head back to Baltimore after the game. The per-person price for this trip is $110.00, which gets you an upper reserved seat in the stadium, a safe, relaxing motor coach ride, lunch on the way up to New York, and pre-game food and beverages once we arrive at the stadium parking lot.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fan on Oct. 1 in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally televised game between the Ravens and Steelers at 8:25 pm. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arriving in Pittsburgh at approximately 5:00 pm. We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches for everyone to take with them once we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but you'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240.00, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip). We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We're now taking reservations for both trips. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to either New York or Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale now.

I'll make everyone a special offer for the next two weeks. Beginning today, and running through Friday, August 14, your "early-bird" purchase for the Orioles/NY trip is $99 and the Ravens/Pittsburgh trip is $215. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $110 (Orioles) and $240 (Ravens).

How do you register for one or both trips? E-mail me directly -- 18inarow at gmail.com -- and let me know how many seats you want and for what trip. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.





Thursday
July 30, 2015
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XII
Issue 30

two great #dmd trips are now on sale

If you would have told me last August -- in the days after I was fired from a local radio station -- that by the summer of 2015 I'd be knee-deep in the "sports travel" business, I would have said, "You're reading the wrong script about me."

Here I am, on July 30, 2015, and guess what? I'm knee-deep in the sports travel business. And I love it.

In the event you've recently discovered #DMD and don't know what we've been doing at Drew's Morning Dish, let me just give you a very brief rundown. I'm doing this mainly so you see that we're not neophytes at the sports travel concept; far from it, in fact. I actually did a lot of sports traveling -- and organized much of it -- when I was in the professional soccer business back in the 1980's and 1990's. Later, while working at a Baltimore radio station, I again got involved, although it was mainly as "traveler" and not as the organizer. Without going into great details, because that's not the point of this, there were lots of things about the travel I did with the radio station that I didn't really care for and/or approve of. Crowded buses -- all 57 seats filled, for example -- game tickets just thrown together on a whim, with no regard for who was sitting where, the occasional movie that I thought might have been somewhat inappropriate for all ages -- and lack of quality food and drink options were among the things that bothered me. But, it wasn't "my" business. So I didn't really say much. I just went along for the ride, so to speak. I did, however, make a lot of mental notes and said to myself on more than one occasion, "If I ever did this...here's how I would do it."

Well, I'm doing it now. And I've instituted a lot of those thoughts and concepts with the #DMD travel portion of this sports website. Since last January, here's where we've been:

Pittsburgh, for Ravens playoff football

New England, for Ravens playoff football

Hershey, PA for AHL hockey game

Philadelphia, PA for Caps-Flyers game

Augusta National Golf Club for Masters practice round

New York City, for Orioles-Yankees series

Since last January, we've welcomed over 350 people on our #DMD trips. Our two football playoff trips to Pittsburgh and New England had the most inexpensive price in town, period. We pride ourselves on putting together the highest-quality trip at an affordable, fair cost to you, the traveler. And we do it all by not "over-selling" the bus, for starters. We will put only 40 people on each #DMD bus, leaving sixteen seats empty so people can stretch out and relax, do work, etc. Your game tickets are always in a group with others on the same bus/trip as you. And our food and drink offerings are fresh and varied.

I'm excited to announce two upcoming #DMD trips for those of you interested in taking a one-day journey with us to support our Baltimore teams.

yankee
If you haven't been to Yankee Stadium, you have a chance on Sept. 8.

On Tuesday, September 8, we're heading to the Bronx for a late-season battle between the Orioles and Yankees. Game time is 7:05 pm. It's an "up-and-back" trip. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arrive in the Bronx at roughly 4:00 pm, and have time for a pre-game tailgate party (provided as part of your cost) before checking out the game at Yankee Stadium. We'll head back to Baltimore after the game. The per-person price for this trip is $110.00, which gets you an upper reserved seat in the stadium, a safe, relaxing motor coach ride, lunch on the way up to New York, and pre-game food and beverages once we arrive at the stadium parking lot.

heinz
Go into the lion's den with other Ravens fan on Oct. 1 in Pittsburgh.

On Thursday, October 1, we're off to Pittsburgh for a nationally televised game between the Ravens and Steelers at 8:25 pm. We'll leave Baltimore at 12:30 pm, arriving in Pittsburgh at approximately 5:00 pm. We'll have lunch and refreshments on the bus ride to the game, plus sandwiches for everyone to take with them once we arrive. Due to our drop-off point in Pittsburgh, tailgating isn't always an option, but you'll have plenty of food and drinks available throughout the trip. The per-person price for the trip is $240.00, which includes your game ticket (grouped with others on the trip). We'll return to Baltimore immediately after the game.

We're now taking reservations for both trips. Remember, we're only selling 40 seats per-bus, so once those 40 are gone, we're booked up. If demand warrants a second bus to either New York or Pittsburgh, we'll make that happen, but the best way to ensure you're going with us is to get on the first bus, which is on sale now.

I'll make everyone a special offer for the next two weeks. Beginning today, and running through Friday, August 14, your "early-bird" purchase for the Orioles/NY trip is $99 and the Ravens/Pittsburgh trip is $215. On August 15, we go back to the original, full price of $110 (Orioles) and $240 (Ravens).

How do you register for one or both trips? E-mail me directly -- 18inarow at gmail.com -- and let me know how many seats you want and for what trip. It's that simple. I'll get you a confirmation e-mail right away and you're all set.


we now have "comments" up and running

You'll notice in today's edition of #DMD that our "Comments" option has returned to the site. You'll find it at the bottom of the page, ready for your commentary, insight, opinion, agreement or disagreement. I apologize for the length of time it took to get it re-installed to the site, but we've had a lot of work to finish over the last couple of weeks and sometimes something has to go on the back burner while other things get finished. Please feel free to comment at your leisure about today's #DMD topics. I don't have many rules here, but there are some that are non-negotiable. Foul language -- from you -- isn't cool. You can have civil discourse here, even get mad if you want, but "f-bombs" and general foul language in your comments will be removed. I'm not a "censoring kind of guy", but I can't have foul language on the web-site. That's just about all I'll worry about. Please also note we're still fine-tuning the comments section now that it's up and running. Allow us a day or three to work out the bugs, if, in fact, we find any.

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boy, the braves really stink

The Atlanta Braves played 29 innings of baseball in Baltimore starting on Monday and ending with last night's 2-0 loss to the Orioles. In those 29 innings, the Braves scored a total of four runs and were shut out in 26 of those 29 innings. That's right, they only scored in three innings -- in three games. That's bad baseball. Frankly, it's kind of hard to laugh at Atlanta. They look just like the Orioles did from about 2005 through 2010. I remember those days. They were tough.

The Orioles needed a win or three to keep pace with the red-hot Yankees, so we'll gladly take that sweep of the Braves -- but the O's are going to need more offense in August and September if they fancy themselves American League playoff contenders. As bad as Atlanta was, the Birds scored two runs on Monday and Wednesday...along with seven on Tuesday evening. The trade deadline is fast approaching and there's still no sign of movement from Dan Duquette. It's fair to say, though, that it would appear the O's are NOT going to be sellers over the next 48 hours. They're either going to buy or stand pat.

Standing pat wouldn't be a terrible decision FOR NOW, but it might haunt the team next winter if the likes of Wieters, Davis and Chen run off to a new team via free agency. If Duquette holds on to those three and decides this team as its currently shaped can make the post-season, he better hope he's right. Not making any moves, failing to make the playoffs, and then losing those three players next winter would not make for a warm, fuzzy fan base in Baltimore. Buying a couple of bats and perhaps another starting pitcher wouldn't be a horrible thing, either, but it's all based on what the O's have to give up in return. There have been whispers that some teams might take a gamble on Dylan Bundy, who has been a complete flop thus far during his organizational tenure with the Birds. That would make for an interesting decision by Duquette. Once thought to be untouchable, Bundy could wind up going somewhere else in the next two days. I wouldn't count on it...but sometimes, where there's smoke, there's fire.

tillman
Another nice outing from Chris Tillman in Wednesday's 2-0 win.

Speaking of pitching, Chris Tillman took advantage of an inept Braves offense to improve his record to 8-7 with last night's 2-0 win. Tillman fell one out shy of a complete game, but his 4-hit, shut-out effort on Wednesday helped set up the Orioles bullpen for an upcoming four-game home series vs. Detroit. Jonathan Schoop and J.J. Hardy contributed solo homers for the O's, who have now won five straight games.

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Bo's headline goes here

No drama, no problem, as far as the Ravens are concerned.

As the Ravens veterans rolled into the Owings Mills complex Wednesday to officially kick off 2015 training camp, a slew of media was on hand to document their arrival. But it was nothing like last year, when the national media descended en masse on Ravens training camp with the Ray Rice controversy percolating -- and that was even before the infamous elevator video surfaced.

No, this year, things are noticeably more quiet as camp begins.

"Last year it was kind of, it was very uncomfortable," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "A lot of us ain't been in that type of situation like that before, but it’s good to come into camp with no major negative storyline concerning us."

The storm this year is centered over New England, which is just fine with the Ravens.

"You know what? All I can say is it’s fortunate that’s not a Baltimore Raven problem, and we’re going to let them handle it and answer their questions," Suggs said, without ever mentioning the Patriots or his nemesis Tom Brady by name. "We really only focus on Baltimore Raven football and Ravens Nation. So, I don’t really care too much about that."

Oh, sure, there will be a lot of storylines to document in the coming month: Who will return kicks? Will top draft pick Breshad Perriman become a starter right away? Is the secondary better? Will Dennis Pitta play? But as camp opens, here's what the Ravens don't have to deal with: They have no quarterback controversy. There are no raging contract disputes. They return all five starters on the offensive line. There are a whole lot of familiar faces in familiar places.

And they have the same head coach, again. John Harbaugh is entering his eighth season with the Ravens, which already makes him the seventh-longest tenured coach in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately NFL. (And one of those above him, the Saints' Sean Payton, had that whole year-away thing...) Harbaugh appeared tan, rested and relaxed on Wednesday, eager to welcome his players to another camp and excited at the construction of this Ravens roster. The Ravens hit the practice field for their first full workout Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.

NOTE: Remember that the Ravens will hold their free, open practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night (Aug. 3) at 7 p.m. Lots open at 4 p.m. (cold tailgating only), with gates open at 5:30. The workout will be followed by an autograph session for ages 14 and under as well as a fireworks show.

O's SCOREBOARD
Wednesday, August 16th
Orioles
6

Mariners
7
WP: T. Zych (6-3)
LP: U. Jimenez (5-8)

HR: Beckham (17), Alonso (23), Martin (3)

RECORD/PLACE: 59-62, 4th place