Saturday
October 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 15
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woods' withdrawal – right or wrong?


Tiger Woods was scheduled to play in his first PGA Tour event in 16 months this week in Napa, California.

He announced his return Friday a week ago, officially registering for the Safeway Classic just before the 5:00 pm deadline.

Things then got crazy in Napa, and not because Joel Gott was releasing a new Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tiger was back.

And everyone wanted to be part of it.

Ticket sales soared over the weekend, the media was arriving in droves, and interest in an otherwise sleepy season-opening event was at an all-time high.

And then, suddenly, Tiger dropped out.

Calling his game “vulnerable”, Woods published a short statement on his website, apologizing and trying to explain his thinking.

Explain away, Tiger, but you should have been there in Napa last week.

How can a PGA Tour player – of any caliber, let alone the greatest player of the last 25 years – sign up for an event on Friday afternoon and then pull out on Monday and say “I’m not ready”?

It’s one thing if he gets hurt over the weekend while practicing.

But Woods registered on Friday at 5:00 pm. Three days later, claimed he wasn’t ready to compete.

I don’t get it.

I’m not even sure I believe it.

There is a pretty interesting rumor floating around the golf world that Woods and a few other deep-pockets businessmen are about to announce they’ve purchased one of the sport’s more well-known equipment companies. And they wanted to announce Woods’ involvement last week as a lead-in to the Safeway Classic.

X
"Can't those damn accountants and lawyers do ANYTHING on time? This makes me SO . . . vulnerable.

But when the deal didn’t get put together in time, Woods didn’t see the need to play in the Napa event.

Frankly, that would make a lot more sense than Tiger saying his game is “vulnerable”.

Then again, if Woods needed an “explanation” for a sudden withdrawal, he could have just made up an injury excuse.

Things aren't adding up.

Woods, according to insiders and folks close to him, was in great form leading up to the event, shooting a bunch of really good numbers in some low key outings and casual rounds in Florida in the weeks prior to the Safeway Classic.

And this was the perfect starting point for him, against a relatively middle-of-the-road field on a pretty benign golf course during the sport’s “off-season” with the rest of the country focused on football.

Friday at 5:00 pm, he was good to go.

Monday at 11:00 am, he pulled out.

I’m not buying it.

I will say this, though. If Tiger did suddenly discover his golf game was “vulnerable”, that’s not an excuse for withdrawing three days before the tournament.

All of those tickets were purchased because of his anticipated appearance.

Sure, there may have been four people in Napa who wanted to see Webb Simpson — but the other 24,000 wanted to see Tiger Woods.

And even though a significant contingent of the media would have been there anyway, all of the major golf-news outlets dispatched their best-of-the-best to Napa to cover Tiger’s return.

Tiger should have played, plain and simple, unless he was hurt.

He could have used his Tuesday press conference to further explain the status of his golf game. Rather than withdraw, he could have mentioned that he was using the event much like a pro baseball player uses two games at Double-A to get ready to return from injury.

I think we all would have bought that angle, and rightfully so.

No matter how much of a golfing god you are, it’s realistic to think after being away for sixteen months that you will need a tune-up event or two to get things oiled and moving smoothly again.

If Tiger’s game was in fact “vulnerable”, he could have said that to the media in Napa.

And he could have also hammered home the point that he was sticking it out and playing despite knowing that he’s likely not going to be able to compete for a title of any kind until he gets a few tournaments under his belt.

Anything would have been better than the stunt he pulled last Monday.

At least that’s what I think. I’m not sure what you think, which is why we have a “Comments” section below. I’m interested to see your opinion on it.

I realize a lot of folks aren’t able to put aside their personal feelings for Woods and will blast him just to blast him, but I’m hoping you can do that and simply look at the whole story and give your honest assessment.

Me? I’m a big fan of Woods, the golfer, and think the sport has sorely missed him over the last two years or so.

In some ways, the sport will never be the same without him.

But I’m also even-keeled enough to call his move last Monday “bush-league”.

He signed up on Friday at 5:00 pm.

There’s just no way his game became “vulnerable” in two days.

I’m not buying it.

But…even if he did start getting the chipping yips again (another popular “theory” that some are suggesting), that’s not an excuse for withdrawing from the tournament.

You show up out there and do your best.

That’s my opinion, anyway.

What’s YOUR opinion?

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help our friends at primary residential mortgage with their "feeding america" campaign


Our corporate partners at Primary Residential Mortgage are heading up a worthwhile endeavor and we here at #DMD are not only going to get involved, we're asking that you, too, lend your support if you can. Primary Residential Mortgage is heading up a campaign to provide financial support to Feeding America, a national organization that is working hard to stamp out hunger in our country.

Feeding America has 200 member food banks who work with 60,000 food assistance agencies, such as, food pantries and soup kitchens to provide over 3.7 billion pounds of donated food annually to those who struggle with hunger.

By raising funds for Feeding America, Primary Residential Mortgage is trying to do their part to help provide meals for the 48 million people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to help out and make sure no one is hungry, both in Baltimore and around the country.

#DMD is donating $100 to Primary's "Feeding America" campaign and we'd ask that you take a minute today to make any kind of donation you can to help this worthwhile organization.

It doesn't take much: A $1 donation will provide 11 meals for those facing hunger. A $5 donation will provide 55 meals! If you have $5 to spare, that would go a long way in helping those less fortunate enjoy their holiday season. Please go here to make your donation and help feed America

KELLY
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only two seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have two seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 38 of the 40 seats thus far, so just TWO are still available.


STECCO
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please click here to see previous issues of #dmd.

Thursday
October 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 13
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


caps start tonight . . .
and we already know
how it’s going to end


You can pin this edition of #DMD up on your refrigerator for safe keeping and yank it down next April or May to see how right I was way back on October 13.

X
Is this the season Alex Ovechkin and the Caps finally lift that elusive Stanley Cup trophy?

Barring some kind of unexpected injury to Alex Ovechkin or Braden Holtby, the Washington Capitals will take everyone to out to the woodshed again in the regular season and then flop in the playoffs.

It’s as guaranteed as Trump saying something stupid this weekend.

The Caps start their 2016-17 campaign tonight in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins will be without superstar Sidney Crosby and the Capitals will be without a Stanley Cup title since joining the league in 1974.

And this time next year, they’ll be without one, still.

In case you haven’t noticed, the Capitals are the NHL’s version of the Chicago Cubs. Actually, over the last decade at least, they’ve been better than the Cubs, but they have as many titles as Chicago during that time.

Zero.

The Cubs might actually change that this year, as they appear to be a solid contender for the World Series title.

The Caps are always contenders, but eventually become pretenders. Every. Friggin’. Spring.

You can set your watch to it, kids.

The Caps will steamroll through the Metropolitan Division of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, finishing in the top three at the very least and looking like a team poised to make a Stanley Cup run next April.

There are other teams in the division who are equally as capable. The Rangers are always a threat as long as Henrik Lundqvist is in goal and the Islanders have been on-again, off-again over the last couple of seasons. And the Eastern Conference’s best team might actually be in Tampa Bay.

But the Caps will be there because they have one of the game’s elite scoring stars and a superb goaltender, plus a coach who understands the grinding nature of the NHL’s long season.

None of that will matter next April though, or May, perhaps, if the Caps are fortunate enough to escape the first round of the playoffs.

Last year was their year, as the Caps accumulated the most points in the NHL and looked like they were finally, finally, finally ready to hoist that first Stanley Cup trophy.

Except, of course, they didn’t hoist it.

After beating the Flyers in the opening round of the playoffs, the Caps were eliminated by the Penguins, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup in June.

Anyone who has followed the team for any length of time knew that was coming in the same way they know what’s coming this Spring.

More heartache.

I sure would like to be wrong.

The Caps winning the Stanley Cup would literally be a dream come true for me.

But, like baseball fans in Chicago, I’ve stopped thinking about it. In fact, every April, I just automatically assume they’re losing any playoff series they play in and I’m never left disappointed when they’re shaking hands at the end and the Caps are headed to the golf course.

They have the talent to win the whole darn thing.

But they won’t.

I’d love for you to pull this down from your refrigerator next June and show me I was wrong, but I won’t be.

Sadly, I’ll be right.

Again.

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four quarters of
college football


Contributed by #DMD's College Football Reporter
KEN GREELEY


Our college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with his weekly look at the college game and this weeks he focuses on what’s going on with teams in the state of Maryland.

First Quarter: Maryland – Everything was going to plan until the Terps traveled to State College to face Penn State last Saturday. Maryland beat a very easy opponent (Howard) in week 1, and subsequently won the next three, playing increasingly better competition each week.

The Terps’ last was a 43-point margin of victory over Big Ten doormat Purdue.

But against the Nittany Lions last Saturday, Maryland lost 38-14, as they could not contain Penn State’s offense, which rolled up over 500 yards.

The disappointment was not the final score -- but how Penn State dominated the game after the last two match-ups were decided by a single point. Penn State has been a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team the last few years. The Terps will find out soon how they rank.

To become bowl eligible, Maryland will need to beat a couple of Big Ten teams similar to Penn State in the next three weeks - Minnesota, Michigan State and Indiana.

The return of quarterback Perry Hills and playing two games at home will help. Without two wins in the next three games, the chances of a bowl appearance will diminish quickly as the Terps face three consecutive top-ten teams in November.

Second Quarter: Navy – Historically, Navy's season was geared towards the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, which Navy has won 10 times in the last 13 years.

While bowl eligibility and the chance to upset a national program were also annual goals, there is nothing like beating Air Force and Army each year.

Last year, the Midshipmen joined the American Athletic Conference – the first time in their football history they’ve had a conference affiliation. This added additional goals of division and conference titles. In pursuit of their 2016 goals, the program swung from the trough to the crest over the last two weeks.

First, Air Force shut down the Midshipmen’s option running attack, and soundly defeated Navy. The team was disappointed, knowing that the winner of this match-up has won the last 19 Trophies.

Navy rebounded last weekend by beating conference foe and sixth-ranked Houston. The victory puts Navy in the driver’s seat to win their division and play in the conference championship game.  An added bonus - classes at Navy were cancelled on Tuesday.

Third Quarter: Towson – Will the Tigers turn it around this year like they did in 2015? After a 2-3 start, Towson won 5 of the last 6, led by strong defensive play and the running of Darius Victor and barely missed the FCS playoffs.

2016 might, unfortunately, be different.

This year’s record through five games is one-defeat worse than at the same point in 2015 and it’s a conference loss that is the difference. The early schedule was tough with road games at ranked Villanova and Richmond, which were both defeats.

The season killer was the defeat at the hands of Stony Brook last weekend. In all three games, Towson was within one score in the fourth quarter, only to lose each time.

With the chance to get only one quality win (vs. #25 New Hampshire), this season has quickly turned into playing out the string.

Fourth Quarter: Mike the Tiger – Since we are discussing the tigers, Mike the Tiger died this week from cancer. Mike was the sixth tiger to serve as LSU’s live mascot, with the tradition starting in 1934.

Mike VI arrived in 2007 as a 2-year-old from a rescue facility and moved into the $3 million habitat built next to the football stadium.

Each week before an LSU football game, his keepers lay out the tiger’s meal in the form of the next opponent’s logo, before he devours it. On game day, the tiger’s cage is wheeled into the stadium and parked next to the opponent’s locker room. Opposing players pass by the live tiger as they enter the field of play.

Live animal mascots and their traditions are part of what makes college football so interesting.

KELLY
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only two seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have two seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 38 of the 40 seats thus far, so just TWO are still available.


Royal
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Wednesday
October 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 12
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


how i would fix the nfl


This is the fun stuff, writing about something like "fixing the NFL" which would never, ever gain an inch of traction in the real world.

But that doesn't mean what you're about to read isn't sensible and well-reasoned.

I'm assuming a lot of you will have your own ideas on how to fix the NFL. I welcome you to add your thoughts in the "Comments" section below.

In order to "fix" something, you first have to identify what needs fixing.

Where's the repair order for the NFL? Or should one even exist?

Depending on how much you believe out of their offices in New York City, the league is operating at an all-time high these days in terms of the only thing that really matters to all 32 owners; franchise value.

True, the TV ratings are down by 10% or so across the board, but revenue in the league -- if you believe them -- continues to soar. And that's really all they're concerned about.

That said, what I'd try and fix is the actual on-field product.

X
Too many of these in NFL games have started to spoil the product.

I think it's suffering from something, I'm just not sure what, exactly, although I think I have a few solid ideas.

The TV product is excellent. If you're in front of your television, watching in high def, with plenty of inexpensive drinks and snacks at your side, there's really no way to argue that what you're watching isn't worthwhile. No lines for the bathroom, no crazy prices for food and beer and, if the game stinks in the 3rd quarter, you can just pack it in and go out to rake leaves or get in a quick nine holes before dark.

In the stadium? The experience is FAR from excellent.

Too much down time, too many time-outs, too much of everything except actually playing football.

That said, if the game were better, the in-stadium experience would also be better.

And how do you make the actual game better?

I'm glad you asked.

First rule, not by importance or anything like that, but because it's something I've thought about for a long time:

Field goals inside of 32 yards are worth 2 points.

Field goals from 33 to 49 yards are worth 3 points.

Field goals from 50 to 59 are worth 4 points.

Anything outside of 60 yards gets you 5 points if you make it. And before you say, "Teams will just start taking delay of game penalties on purpose to get outside of a certain distance to earn more points", there'd be a simple rule that says, simply, "You can't do that". If you're on the 32 yard line and you get a delay of game penalty, you get moved back five yards but the kick is still worth the original distance...2 points.

The two-point conversion (now called the multi-point conversion) gets modified as well...it's now worth 2 points from the 2-yard line and 4 points from the 5-yard line. Take your pick.

Under these rules, teams down by twenty points are still in a "two-possession game".

The pass interference call changes, too. It would no longer be marked at the spot of the foul. That's a joke. It's become the league's best "go-to-play" in the waning minutes of the game. "Just throw it deep and hope we catch or the refs call interference."

Instead, it's a 20-yard penalty (or half the distance to the goal-line inside the 20) and the third time a DEFENSIVE player is called for pass interference in a game, he's ejected.

So, the penalty isn't as severe, yes, but if one of your players can't stand being alone on that island, he'll be gone soon enough. If anyone gets two P.I. penalties, the coach is likely to sit him for a series or two, the way a basketball coach sits a player who is a foul or two shy of fouling out.

"But wait, Drew, won't coaches just send in a scrub late in the 4th quarter to get a pass interference penalty?" you ask.

They might...if we didn't have a new rule that says a team is only allowed to be penalized for P.I. four times in a game. Once they receive that 5th one, the penalty is 35 yards instead of 20 yards.

This, by the way, works the same way for offensive players, except they need only get TWO offensive pass interference calls during the game and they're gone.

Three for defense, two for offense.

For years now, the odds have been stacked against the defense in the NFL. We're going to try and balance things out a little more and see if that doesn't make things more interesting. Just heaving the ball down the field and praying for pass interference isn't "interesting". It's awful.

In general, this rule is designed to do two things; reward the better players who don't get penalties, and diminish the impact the referees have on the actual flow of the game, instead penalizing the player more than his team.

I see plays EVERY week that are flagged for P.I. and I say to myself, "How the hell is someone to supposed to defend a guy in the league anymore?" While this P.I. rule I'm suggesting might increase the burden on ALL players, offensive and defensive, it will ultimately be looked at as a softer version of the rules we have today. They're still penalties, mind you, but you're not throwing the ball from your 30 to the other team's 20 and getting a massive, game-changing penalty out of it. Unless, that is, you've been mistake-ridden the whole game. If that's the case, and you just can't hang with the other guy, you'll be handled accordingly if you've piled up a bunch of flags.

I've never quite figured out this infatuation with "sudden death", but overtime in the regular season and playoffs will simply be one more quarter of football. Forget who scores first, who kicks a field goal, etc. It's 15 more minutes. Everyone gets a possession or two, you'd think, and it's the best way to solve a regular season game when you only have 16 of them in the first place.

Here's another one: On pass plays, there is NO such thing as holding -- until the quarterback releases the ball. Defensive players should be able to use any means necessary to stop the other guy, including holding him, as long as the ball isn't in the air. This isn't entirely different than the current rule, but just a more open, easier-to-call version. If the quarterback is in the pocket, you can hold the DEFENSIVE players trying to come through and the OFFENSIVE players trying to break out. If he's holding the ball, anything is fair game. Hold to your heart's delight. But once he throws the ball, your hands are off of your opponent.

Be careful...we don't want you picking up any pass interference calls.

Oh, and that idiotic rule about "leverage"and not using a teammate to try and block a kick?

That rule is gone.

You can do ANYTHING you want to try and block a kick. That's the concept. "We're kicking this and you're going to try and block it." Well, anything a team can do to try and block the kick should be within the rules. Get creative...stack 3 guys on top of another...who friggin' cares?

One last thing. Actually, two last things. Easy peasy. Wide receivers only need to have one foot in bounds and the clock stops after every first down within the last three minutes of the fourth quarter.

Makes sense, right?

It keeps the game and the rules similar to the one they used in college and, NEWS FLASH!!!, the college game is probably "better" than the NFL game, truth be told.

Oh, and one last thing for real. About all those penalties.

Any referee crew that throws more than 12 flags in a game is suspended for one week.

Stop throwing freakin' flags every series, please. It's outrageous. In the Duke-Notre Dame game I attended back on September 24, I think there were three or four total penalties. It was glorious.

There were 13 penalties in last Sunday's Ravens-Redskins game. That crew would be working on their golf games this weekend. Stop calling so many freakin' penalties.

OK, so that rule about suspending the refs is a little bit overboard, but the concept is worth looking at, for sure. These guys in the striped shirts are NOT the game. But they sure act like they are.

My preference? I'd like every regular season football game (and playoff game) to be just like playoff hockey.

"Are you dead?" the refs ask during playoff hockey.

"No, I'm alive," says the guy who has a 3-inch gash over his eye.

"Well, if you're not dead, let's play on." the refs say right before the drop the puck.

The NFL isn't that much different. Let the guys play football. Maybe if they held each other a little more they wouldn't feel compelled to crack a guy in the helmet at 30 mph in the middle of the open field.

That's not to suggest the league should steer clear of the concussion issue or anything like that. Lord knows that's the number one fear running these days, and I'd say they're overwhelmed with it but doing what they can to at least make steps in the right direction.

I'm talking about "penalties" and "rules", not concussions.

The rules are set up these days to make it nearly impossible to defend someone.

I'd like to see there be enough leniency that defensive players feel like they have a puncher's chance of at least "competing" with a guy and, let's be fair, offensive players get away with a lot more stuff than defensive players do, for whatever reason.

Overall, the game is TOO officiated, in my opinion.

Maybe if there were less things to call, the whole product would be better.

ABC
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if you can't root for the cubs...


I'm assuming by the time this is all said and done, we'll probably figure out a reason to dislike the Cubs, sort of like we did with the Royals a few years back when they won the World Series.

Some of that's jealousy, of course. We haven't been to the World Series here in Baltimore since the Colts were in town, so it's easy for us to see a team, any team, and say, "What a bunch of jerks those guys are" while they're celebrating something we haven't seen since Reagan was the President.

But this Chicago Cubs team -- I don't know how you can dislike them, other than Dexter Fowler looks like he made the right decision last March.

X
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the bottom of the 9th last night and the Cubs completed a wild comeback with a 6-5 win over the Giants that sends Chicago to the NLCS.

The Cubs staged one of the most improbable rallies in baseball playoff history last night, scoring four times in the 9th inning to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 win and a trip to the National League Championship series, which starts on Saturday against the Dodgers/Nationals winner tomorrow in D.C.

They were done, were the Cubs. Cooked. Headed home to face the Giants, who before last night had won 10 straight games in which they faced elimination, one of the greatest "team" records in modern baseball history.

Ahhh, but they weren't done.

The Cubs scored four times without the benefit of a home run -- I hope Dan Duquette was watching -- and then turned things over to Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the 9th, where he struck out all three S.F. hitters he faced to send Chicago into a frenzy.

It's only a shame the game wasn't in the Windy City...but doing it on the road like that really shows the resolve of the Cubs, who would have endured a restless couple of days if they would have needed a 5th and final game at Wrigley Field tomorrow.

Instead, they'll sleep well for a few days knowing they produced one of the great comebacks in the history of baseball.

And, for now at least, we're all starting to become fans of the Chicago Cubs.

KELLY
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only two seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have two seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 38 of the 40 seats thus far, so just TWO are still available.


ABC
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Tuesday
October 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 11
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


For the first time in his 9-year tenure in Baltimore, John Harbaugh is, likely, under the gun.

I say "likely" because no one knows what Steve Bisciotti is thinking except for the man himself. He might be charmed with the Ravens' 3-2 record thus far in 2016 and might be even more supportive of his head coach now that's he parted company with Marc Trestman.

Or, for the first time in nine years, Harbaugh might be starting to feel the heat.

That’s actually a pretty nice run, truth be told. Most coaches don’t last nine years in one place before their hind quarters start to get warm.

But, it seems to reason that with yesterday’s firing of offensive coordinator Trestman, Harbaugh is the guy Steve Bisciotti will be watching now.

And if the losses continue to pile up and the Ravens miss the playoffs for a second straight season, that might not be a result from which Harbaugh can recover.

X
Don't expect to hear much from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti as it relates to John Harbaugh's status. That "vote of confidence" he gave Brian Billick in 2007 didn't work out so well.

Don’t expect to hear anything from the Ravens owner anytime soon about the team, the coach or his confidence level that things are going to turn out OK.

The last time Bisciotti opened his mouth and told the fans “I'll say it now, the coach isn’t going anywhere”, he turned heel and fired Brian Billick six weeks later.

Lesson learned, I’m sure. Bisciotti isn’t saying anything to anyone this time around.

Harbaugh doesn’t really need that vote of confidence. He has a contract through 2017 and knows two things: 1) No matter what Bisciotti says about “not firing John”, he can still be fired. 2) If he does get fired, he still gets paid.

So, it’s just best for the head coach to carry on and keep-on keeping-on, which is sort of what he did yesterday by canning Trestman and promoting Marty Mornhinweg.

But if the Ravens don’t turn this around soon, Harbaugh is probably in the December of his Baltimore run.

I’ve always been up front about my affection for Harbaugh, both personally and as a coach. He’s an outstanding man and his record in Baltimore speaks for itself.

Talk radio is filled with nitwits claiming “Harbaugh had nothing to do with that Super Bowl we won”, “Harbaugh chased out all the vocal veterans” and “Harbaugh is a terrible in-game coach”.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Harbaugh has been excellent since arriving here in 2008. End of story.

But, like any coach without a quarterback named Tom Brady, the need to re-invent yourself every summer gets more and more difficult. It’s very much like a marriage. As time goes on, you need to put in MORE work to keep it new, not LESS work.

And because of the salary-cap driven world in the NFL, 30% of your roster turns over every year. Coaches have to learn new players, new attitudes, new work ethics and new ways to reach everyone. It’s not for the meek of heart.

There are plenty of reasons why the Ravens are struggling offensively and most of those have very little to do with the head coach.

The team's gazillion dollar quarterback has played “decently” so far in 2016, but nothing more than that. There are reasons for that, too, and some of them don’t involve Joe Flacco.

In the two most recent losses, injuries to key members of the offensive line have certainly changed the dynamic of the pass protection afforded to Flacco. As we saw last year when the team was wrecked with injuries, once you go three and four deep on the depth chart, you’re asking for trouble – and losses.

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These two have been through a lot together in nine years, but this, now, is the most important twelve weeks of their relationship coming up.

Marc Trestman’s role in the whole thing can’t be understated, as he’s the guy who was formerly calling the plays. Yes, I know, “coaches coach and players play”, but the NFL is an extremely sophisticated enterprise and the other team spends 60 hours a week studying your habits in an effort to know what you’re going to do on Sunday before you know what you’re going to on Sunday.

Trestman was easy to figure out, apparently.

But the reality is this: The head coach is the guy who ultimately owns the responsibility of fixing things when they go bad.

And he’s also the one who hired the offensive coordinator who just got fired.

It’s never a good thing to have to let someone go that you brought in to the company. It’s easy for fans to yell and scream and say, “Trestman has to go!” but that’s not a good reflection on the organization or the head coach when they have to make such a critical personnel decision in the middle of the season.

In Harbaugh’s case, now, this is the second time in the last four years that he’s had to make this kind of unsettling move during the course of the regular season.

Something tells me he doesn’t have any more of those bullets to fire.

While it might have been the only remaining option to jettison Trestman, the decision will be a good one or bad one based solely on the team’s final regular season record.

If the Ravens turn this around and make the post-season, like they did in 2012 when Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron in December and the team won the Super Bowl seven weeks later, the coach’s seat will definitely cool off.

But if this spirals out of control – which it looks like it could, most definitely – and the Ravens fail to reach the playoffs for the second consecutive season, I’m guessing Harbaugh and Bisciotti will be having that tough talk in early January.

That’s Bisciotti’s history.

And when you’ve been with a team for nine years, you’re always one bad patch away from looking for work.

I’m pulling for Harbaugh and the Ravens to turn this thing around and get back on track.

I’d rather Bisciotti not get involved again, because that brings tension and turmoil…plus pink slips.

But it’s all about wins and losses, which is why Marc Trestman isn’t around anymore and John Harbaugh’s looking over his shoulder.

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the best six and worst six in the nfl


Every Tuesday here at #DMD, we produce a list of the most noteworthy 12 teams in the NFL.

Rather than bore you with the list of teams ranked 1-32, we simply invigorate you with a list of the worst six teams, followed by the best six teams.

Now that we're well into the season, the list is actually getting harder to do, not easier. I think we all know who the best team is, but putting the others 2-6 isn't as easy as it might seem. But it's all there for you below.

THE WORST SIX --

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- I don't care that they won last night over Carolina, this team got bad real quick. I think most people thought the Bucs were a team on the rise, but they look listless and haven't showed any of the spark of 2015 when Jameis Winston burst onto the scene and looked like their savior. I do believe they're better than they've showed to date.

28. New Orleans Saints -- I know they picked up their first win a couple of weeks ago in San Diego, but they're not doing that very often this season, trust me. They try and fix their defense every year and it always worse than the season before, somehow. This is a bad team.

29. San Diego Chargers -- They've lost in almost every way possible in the 4th quarter this season. Blown leads in all four of their losses, including last Sunday at Oakland, where they also botched the snap on a late field goal attempt that might have sent the game to overtime. They look better than they are, I think, but they're just not very good.

30. San Francisco 49'ers -- The 49'ers have lost four straight since that season opening win over the Rams and don't look like they're going to win many more this year. Nothing much to say. No quarterback, no wide-out threats, no offense. No good.

31. Miami Dolphins -- The good news for the Ravens? They play the team currently at #31 (Miami) and #32 (Cleveland) later on this season, so that's two wins in the bag, at least. Miami is awful. When you lose at home to Tennessee, you've officially hit rock bottom. I hope Adam Gase is only renting a nice house in South Florida. The bell is about to ring on him, I'm afraid.

32. Cleveland Browns -- I haven't even looked at the schedule yet to see who they're losing to this Sunday, but they're losing (unless they have a bye, and even then, it's a pick 'em game) for sure. They don't have a quarterback. Literally. All of their quarterbacks have been injured. They're awful. 0-16 is a very real possibility.


THE BEST SIX --

6. Dallas Cowboys -- I'm not sure they're better than Denver, who would have been #6, but Dallas looks like they're on to something offensively with Ezekiel Elliott running the ball and giving Dak Prescott another pass catching option out of the backfield. And their defense seems MUCH improved, holding a pretty good Cincinnati offense to just two TD's on Sunday. I'm not 100% sure they're legit, but the Cowboys are 4-1 and deserve some recognition, so here it is.

5. Green Bay Packers -- They're sort of doing "just enough to win", but the fact is they're 3-1 and their defense seems to be getting better as the weeks go by. And when you have Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, you can win every game. They'll be there in the end, don't you worry. Minnesota still has to deal with them for the next three months.

4. Atlanta Falcons -- I can't even believe I just typed in "Atlanta Falcons" there. But it's true. A 23-16 win at Denver earns them a place in the Best Six, and with the rest of the NFC South stinking up the joint, the Falcons have a chance to put together a really solid year and potentially earn the NFC's top seed. Maybe this is the year Matt Ryan finally puts it all together.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Like New England, they just need their offensive weapons to stay healthy and for Roethlisberger to go through the season unscathed and they're going to skate to twelve wins at least. Their defense might actually be a tad improved, which is kind of unsual to say about the Steelers.

2. Minnesota Vikings -- Granted, they beat the Texans, but Minnesota's win on Sunday without Stefon Diggs was a pretty telling victory for the Vikings. Sam Bradford continues to find ways to win and that Minnesota defense is definitely legit, allowing 63 points in 5 games thus far. They're the only undefeated team left in the league.

1. New England Patriots -- Kind of a bummer they lost to Buffalo a couple of weeks ago because they might have put on a nice little run in the direction of a 16-0 season if not for that hiccup. As long as Brady and his offensive weapons stay healthy, they're going to be very difficult to beat. They're the best team in the league right now by four lengths.

SUPER BOWL PREDICTION: New England vs. Minnesota

KELLY
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from the desk of
brien jackson

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


tuesday morning quarterback


A 3-0 start with a) three games against not very good teams and, b) quite a bit of good luck obscured a lot of things going wrong for the Ravens to begin this season. Now, two games later against a couple of teams who could legitimately contend for division crowns this year, the Ravens are 3-2 and, frankly look a lot like we expect teams like the Browns and Jaguars to look, always finding ways to lose the game. The drill's not changing now, here come the bullet points!

Before getting into the game itself, I'm compelled to comment on some of the officiating/rules issues, because this game managed to squeeze in almost all of the very worst rules/enforcement thereof in the NFL.

In the first quarter, the Redskins were called for pass interference on a 3rd down attempt to get the ball to Dennis Pitta where the linebacker made no meaningful contact with the tight end, but didn't turn his head to "make a play on the ball." This of course gets called just about every time in today's NFL, but remains absurd: If there's no contact that merits a call, it shouldn't matter where the defender is looking.

After that, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins got away with two different instances of throwing the ball away to no one from the pocket, but because there was "a receiver in the area" intentional grounding wasn't called, even though in both cases there was no chance to catch the ball whatsoever. The NFL really needs to adopt a "know it when you see it" policy if only because of the play where Cousins threw it at the feet of Terrell Suggs because the play was busted.

It's fine for the quarterback to want to avoid a sack, but they ought to have to eat the affect of the sack anyway.

From there the rules issues got far more impactful, particularly when C.J. Mosley fell victim to the single worst rule in the NFL: the fumble out of bounds in the endzone.

Now there's no knocking the refs here; Mosley did fumble, it did go out of bounds in the endzone, and by rule that's a touchback for the other team.

But there's also no defense for the fact that this rule even exists. If that play happens anywhere else on the field, it's Ravens ball at the spot of the fumble. Just because the ball rolled out in the endzone instead of at the one yard line shouldn't change that, and it's WAY past time for the NFL to change this asinine rule.

Then, at the end of the game, the always nebulous replay standards reared their ugly head again when a called touchdown to Breshad Perriman was overturned. Now, yes, it sure looked like Perriman might not have gotten both feet down in bounds, but based on the views provided on the broadcast (which supposedly are the same views the referees get) I defy anyone to tell me, with certainty, that Perriman didn't drag his toe. And if there's not "conclusive evidence," the call is supposed to stand, but this becomes a moving target in the last two minutes of the game.

Now, onto the game. First and foremost, it ought to be stated that this was a game of missed chances to make a play. Mosley's fumble is the most jarring example: a huge play that could have swung the game but ended up as a debacle because Mosley tried to extend his arm with a tenuous grasp on the ball rather than securing possession and, at worst, setting up his offense on the goal line.

Earlier in the game, Perriman had a shot at the end zone when he beat the defense deep and Joe Flacco delivered a perfect pass into his hands...that the receiver just couldn't reel in. To not put too fine a point on it; that's two touchdowns that should have gone on the board given away, and either one of those plays should have put the game away.

Now, to continue the theme of the last week and a half...we have to talk about the coaching. Which is odd because, after the Ravens' first possession, I expected to be writing about what a great game plan the coaches drew up. And that drive was just about perfect! The offense ran the ball aggressively at a defense struggling to tackle and play strong at the point of attack, mixed in play action and intermediate passes effectively, and went right down to score.

Even the first half in general was rather effective, as the Ravens had 196 offensive yards in the first half and Flacco completed nearly 73% of his passes.

But otherwise, there's nothing good to say about the coaching on the offensive side of the ball.

The first crack came when Harbaugh elected to pass up a chance at a field goal in favor of a fake attempt. Now, I'm a fan of aggressive coaching in those circumstances, but play-calling matters too, and this was a great illustration of that concept.

To wit, the play actually "worked" as designed, with Crockett Gilmore opening up plenty of room to catch the pass. But because you had your kicker throwing the ball instead of an actual quaterback, Tucker bounced the throw off of the helmet of the Washington defender rather than going high and into the hands of the leaping tight end.

It's fine enough to go for the touchdown in that situation, but you need to actually put your offensive personnel on the field then, rather than putting your fate on the arm of a kicker. That was maybe the most egregious poor decision on Harbaugh's ledger, but it wouldn't be his last, or necessarily his most impactful.

That distinction probably belong to Harbaugh's decision to run a play at the end of the first quarter rather than kneeling the ball. The situation would have called for a Hail Mary or some other desperation play, and ended with Flacco being sacked and right tackle Ricky Wagner suffering a leg injury that would keep him out for the entire second half.

Granted the Ravens have been booed by fans for kneeling on the ball in similar situations before, but today was a perfect illustration of the very reason you do it anyway: The likelihood of success is low, and the possibility of disaster too high to merit a desperate play.

Wagner's injury, though unforeseeable to a certain extent, would play a huge role in the rest of the game. Then in the second half Harbaugh wasted two of his team's two timeouts in completely incomprehensible fashion. The first came after the Mosley fumble, when Harbaugh appeared to be doing nothing more than considering a challenge to the call even though a) there was no doubt the right call had been made, even if the rule is stupid and b) all turnovers are automatically reviewed anyway and thus unchallengable.

Then, with the team facing fourth down at the end of the game and the clock stopped on an incompletion, Harbs used the team's last timeout, I guess to set up a play. Which is fine on some level, but drastically limits what you can do on the next play because you don't have any timeouts left.

As it happened the play was incomplete anyway, but had it been caught over the middle the team would have had to rush to the line to spike the ball and, if someone didn't get set, the game would be over due to the ten second runoff that would have resulted from an illegal procedure penalty. It's not the biggest deal in the world given the outcome, but as a part of a day full of blunders it's a pretty big one given that they should have had a fourth down playcall ready to go without the need for a timeout in that circumstance.

Now I hate to seem like I'm piling on Harbs, because I'm most definitely not one of the local Harbaugh haters. His record since coming to town speaks for itself, and I'm one of those people who said he did one of his best coaching jobs last year, when he motivated a 5-11 team to show up and be competitive week after week after week.

But there's no two ways about it: He's done a terrible job on Sunday afternoon to begin this year, and keeps putting his team in bad spots. Maybe some of that is going outside of his comfort zone: He has the look of someone who has absorbed the notion that it's a losing proposition to kick field goals or punt on fourth and short, but he doesn't fully seem to know how to handle it from that point.

In the biggest instances, we've seen him allow for a run into the teeth of the defense on 4th and 2 in Cleveland, and then called for the fake kick on Sunday vs. Washington. Just because the odds of success of converting 4th and short situations are quite good doesn't mean that the quality of play-call doesn't matter, and these are really atrocious calls indicative of a coach who isn't fully confident in his own decisions.

Now, for the offense, which is a completely separate matter. Again, the team sure look like they had it figured out and then...everything fell apart. The running offense nearly vanished after working so well on that first drive, which is completely indefensible given the way that Terrance West pounded the Washington defense in the first quarter and the fact that the Ravens led for the entire first half.

If ever there was a time to lean on the running game in the NFL, this was it! Still, the Ravens' offense performed fairly admirably in the first half, but everything fell apart after halftime.

Some of that is beyond their control, as with Wagner leaving the game the team was left without both of their starting tackles. That forced the starting guards outside and left them with Ryan Jensen and John Urschel playing guard, so it's somewhat understandable that the offensive line struggle from there on out...but in what has become a running theme on the season the coaching staff had no adjustments to offer to take pressure off the offensive line.

This has been such a cotinuing problem through the season that I don't even know what to say about it at this point. A team with Steve Smith Sr., Mike Wallace, and Breshad Perriman on the roster ought to be using wide receiver screens as a bread and butter play, to say nothing of calling a few when the opposing pass rush is completely pinning its ears back to come after the quarterback on every single play.

Of course mixing in a few run plays might have helped too, especially since Washington never did truly stop the Ravens' ground game. All in all that's a clinic in bad game-calling.

The special teams unit continues to be a major source of problems for the Ravens, particularly the punt coverage team.

This week it was a return for a touchdown against a unit that's given up some big chunk plays rather consistently, and ranks as one of the team's worst units. Devin Hester gave away quite a lot of field position as well...simply by not catching punts and letting them take Washington bounces instead. The rest of the unit was it's usual solid self, but punt returns simply can't continue to be the adventure they've been through the first five games.

The defense wasn't perfect by any stretch; Jimmy Smith was badly burnt for a Pierre Garcon touchdown catch and the pass rush struggled without using a blitz package, but if you look at the body of work it's hard not to give the unit good marks. One touchdown allowed in the game is more than strong performance in today's NFL, and that should win games for you everytime.

When all is said and done though, it's worth reiterating that for as much as we've focused on the coaching errors and as much as we're going to continue to discuss them this week, the plays were there. The two Perriman near misses and the Mosley fumble represent three touchdowns there for the taking, all of which could/would have swung the outcome in the Ravens' favor.

It's easy for fans and the media to dissect and pick apart coaching decisions and blunders, but it's important to remember that what happens between the whistles matters a whole lot too. The Ravens' coaching staff had a terrible day on Sunday, but that game was still there to be won. The loss is at least equally attributable to all of the missed opportunities to make a game changing play by the players as it is to the guys wearing the headsets.

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woods changes course, withdraws from season opening event


And just like that, no one cares about this week's Safeway Classic, the season-opening event on the PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods was set to make his much-anticipated return to golf this Thursday in Napa, California, but after registering for the tournament last Friday just before 5 pm, he promptly withdrew on Monday, claiming his game "still needs work" and is "vulnerable".

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We'll have to wait until December to see how Tiger Woods fares in his return to professional golf, as he withdrew from this week's PGA Tour event on Monday.

So, Woods will now wait until early December to return, playing in the event he hosts in the Bahamas for a limited field of the world's best players.

And the Safeway Classic will revert back to "just another tournament".

There's nothing else to say about Tiger's return that hasn't been said already.

If, as he claims, his health isn't an issue, he must just not feel ready for the big stage, golf-wise. And that only proves how much of a difference there is in shooting 66 with your friends in Florida and believing you can do that on the PGA Tour against real competition.

No matter what he claims about being "close" to returning, Woods must not be nearly as sharp as his friends have let on recently. Or, simply, he's gun shy about returning and knows every swing, every shot and every reaction are all going to be highlight material for TV, radio and social media.

I guess he figures, "I've waited this long, why not just put it off another two months and get even more work in?", but at some point, Woods will have to return to the course and do it for real.

I was hoping it would be this week, but it's not.

So, like everyone else, including Woods, I'll continue to wait it out.


only three seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have three seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 37 of the 40 seats thus far, so just three are still available.


Monday
October 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 10
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ravens at a crossroads with trestman, offense


You’ll have to forgive Buck Showalter if he smiled a bit while watching the Ravens drop that 16-10 decision to the Redskins yesterday.

”Maybe that will get everyone in town off of MY back,” Buck might have said to himself as Mike Wallace failed to catch that 4th down pass from Joe Flacco with twenty seconds left in the game.

Well, Buck, you’re spot on there. Folks in town are no longer interested in your gaffe in Toronto six days ago and are now railing against Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, who had a miserable afternoon on Sunday in Baltimore’s loss to the Redskins.

Trestman didn’t lose the game all by his lonesome on Sunday, mind you. There were lots of other factors and reasons behind the Ravens second straight home loss.

The Ravens allowed a punt return for a touchdown and another long return on a kick-off later on in the game. Sam Koch had a rare bad punt that gave the Redskins prime field position in the 3rd quarter. In other words, the special teams unit wasn't so special on Sunday.

Baltimore’s offensive line was again spotty, with first round draft pick Ronnie Stanley missing his second straight game and generally-reliable right tackle Rick Wagner have a blinder of a bad game on Sunday vs. Washington until he left with a thigh injury.

Steve Smith’s first-half injury seemingly zapped some energy out of the home team, not to mention costing the club yards and, possibly, points on the scoreboard.

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Another lackluster offensive effort has Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman on the hot seat -- with the fans at least.

That dumb fake (failed) field goal attempt – where the Justin Tucker lined up approaching the ball from the left side instead of the right – was just another unnecessary attempt to do something out of the ordinary when, in reality, it would have been smarter to just have Joe Flacco stay out there and throw the ball on 4th down, if, in fact, the Ravens weren’t going to attempt a field goal in that situation.

I get John Harbaugh’s philosophy that the Ravens are going to continue to be “aggressive” on offense. I don’t disagree with it, honestly.

But in that circumstance, who has a better chance of throwing a complete pass for a first down and/or touchdown – Justin Tucker, the kicker, or Joe Flacco, the quarterback?

That’s where I think the Ravens outsmart themselves. Just keep Flacco out there and go for a first down, if you’re that self-obligated to doing something outside the box, that is.

The game also changed on a play that didn’t involve Trestman, Harbaugh or Flacco.

With the Ravens down 13-10, C.J. Mosley had a touchdown in his hands late in the 3rd quarter after he intercepted a ball deep in Washington territory, but he somehow managed to fumble it before reaching the goal line and the Redskins got the ball back on their own 20 yard line.

That was a back-breaking mistake from Mosley, but it was a by-product of effort, not negligence or stupidity.

It was, though, a huge point in the game that went against the Ravens and helped Washington pull off the win.

Afterwards, though, most of the focus was on Trestman, the second year offensive coordinator who is clearly under the gun now after the Ravens managed to score just one offensive touchdown for the third time in five games in the 2016 season.

As the fan base tends to do in these parts when things go bad for a few weeks, they're calling for Trestman's head this morning. And while in-season firings are the last thing a coach ever wants to do, this time around the smart move might be to make a change in the offensive coordinator position.

There's just nothing there on offense...no feel for the game, no shots downfield every third or fourth series, at least, and most certainly no dedication to running the ball even when they do run it successfully.

But will Harbaugh pull the trigger on a Trestman firing this early in the season?

History says no.

But logic says he might have to do it.

This Ravens offense looks pretty dismal.

The quarterback is starting to sound like he’s not happy. When asked after the game if the team needs to make "changes" in the offense, Flacco said, "I'm not going to get into that."

That, of course, is code word for: "I'm not going to be the guy who suggests we fire the offensive coordinator five games into the season..."

If this keeps up, it won’t be long before Steve Smith Sr. says something dumb to the media.

And if they go to New York twice in the next two weeks and come away empty handed, the Ravens – 3-4 at that point – will be in big trouble given the difficulty of their second half schedule.

The biggest issue Harbaugh has to contend with, of course, isn’t firing the offensive coordinator, but replacing him.

The only natural in-house selection if Trestman gets canned is quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg, who has previous experience as a coordinator with the 49’ers, Eagles and Jets, but hasn’t been actively pursued by a NFL team for that role since 2013.

Mornhinweg hasn’t been regarded as a top NFL mind for a long time, but he has enough experience to patch something together if Harbaugh gives him the nod and a new gig.

Flacco would have to sign off on it, presumably, but there’s nothing to suggest that those two – Mornhinweg and the quarterback – couldn’t work well together.

All that said, Mornhinweg isn’t the answer.

But he might be the only option Harbaugh has at this point.

Unless the coach still has Cam Cameron’s number handy. Or Jim Zorn's. Zorn and Flacco got along famously when he was here, but Cameron felt threatened by Zorn's role and relationship with the quarterback and he was sent packing after the 2010 season, much to Flacco's (public) chagrin.

Zorn hasn't coached in the league since 2012, so he's probably more of a gamble than Mornhinweg would be, but there's another name for your water cooler discussion today and one that Flacco would absolutely jump for joy over, too.

This scenario facing Harbaugh isn’t one of John’s strengths. He’s wildly devoted to his coaching staff, and sending Trestman packing at this early stage of the season would be a massive personal defeat for the head coach.

Harbaugh will no doubt reflect on the final month of the 2012 season when he canned then-offensive coordinator Cameron and gave Jim Caldwell the reins for the remainder of the year, including the Super Bowl.

But that was then, this is now. And Caldwell was highly respected around the league and was an immediate hit at the Castle in Owings Mills. Mornhingweg is just a guy hanging around imparting some occasional knowledge and trying not to get in the way.

And just because it worked like a charm in 2012 doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work again in 2016.

If Harbaugh is as aggressive as he says he is – and some of his coaching decisions this season confirm that he is, at the very least, aggressive – the 9th year coach might not be all that afraid to pull the trigger on Trestman’s dismissal.

But what if that move backfires?

What if the Ravens produce another lackluster season?

Is Harbaugh next on the hot seat?

One thing for sure: Trestman’s seat is warm. And another Sunday of dismal offense next week in New York might spell the end of his run in Charm City.

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around the nfl in thirty seconds


Patriots 33 - Browns 13 -- I'll keep saying it every week until they win one. Cleveland might not win a game this season. Frankly, only losing by 20 to New England is a moral victory of sorts.

Lions 24 - Eagles 23 -- Sort of predictable here, as the Eagles were due for some market correction and the Lions, at home at least, are a team that can compete with anyone. Philly still looks "real", though. They weren't going 16-0, after all.

Colts 29 - Bears 23 -- Indy really needed that one. If they would have lost to the Bears in their own building, that might have been the end of the Chuck Pagano era.

Titans 30 - Miami 17 -- One good thing about this one; it confirms the Ravens have at least two wins left on the schedule. At Cleveland and home vs. Miami. The Dolphins are really bad. Wow.

Vikings 31 - Texans 13 -- I got worried when I saw Stefon Diggs was inactive, but the Vikings rolled to 5-0 with an easy win. They've allowed 63 points in six games thus far.

Steelers 31 - Jets 13 -- If Roethlisberger stays healthy all year -- and that's a big "if" -- the Steelers aren't going to lose more than three or four games. They're just too good offensively.

Falcons 23 - Broncos 16 -- OK, the Falcons are legit. Maybe this is the year -- out of nowhere -- where Matt Ryan finally fulfills all of that promise. Atlanta has something going on in 2016.

Cowboys 28 - Bengals 14 -- They're not really going to give Tony Romo his starting job back in a few weeks, right? Dallas is 4-1 with this Prescott kid at quarterback and their defense actually looked pretty decent yesterday against Cincy.

Bills 30 - Rams 16 -- The Rams are tough to figure out. Won at Arizona and Tampa Bay, lost at home to the Bills. Weird, strange, crazy league.

Raiders 34 - Chargers 31 -- San Diego had a chance to tie the game with a 38-yard field late in the 4th quarter. And...they botched the snap. Philip Rivers' head is going to blow off on the sidelines one of these weeks real soon.

Packers 23 - Giants 16 -- The Packers always just do enough to win. I would have preferred seeing the Giants pull off the upset last night to make them more vulnerable for the "let down" game vs. the Ravens next Sunday in NY. Alas, it didn't happen.


show me the money -- week #5


Well, as I noted in the Sunday edition of #DMD, I felt "great" about my six selections for week #5 of the 2016 NFL season.

I don't feel so great about them this morning.

I went 3-3 on the day, winning on the Colts, Steelers and Vikings games, while losing on the Eagles, Bengals and Ravens.

No wonder folks who bet on the games don't have in ground swimming pools and the people who take the bets do.

By the way, I've used the Redskins in four games this year and have lost every single time I've involved them, although in fairness to me, yesterday I had to factor them since they were playing the Ravens.

I did hit on the "Best Bet of the Day" though, going with the Vikings over the Texans. So there's that...

RECORD FOR THE SEASON: 14-16

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 3-2

RAVENS ONLY: 1-4

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what do you think tiger's going to do?


Tiger Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour this week when he tees it up at the Safeway Classic in Napa, California, starting on Thursday.

It's Tiger's first event on TOUR since August of 2014.

Reports out of Jupiter, Florida are all promising, where Woods has been playing and practicing with PGA Tour players and Champions Tour players over the last month.

It stands to reason that Woods, from a health standpoint at least, is primed and ready for action. But how will his golf be this week?

We've put together a poll for you at #DMD. Tell us what YOU think the great one will do:


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Which of these two is the better "winner"?
#1 seed, Tiger Woods
#3 seed, Michael Phelps
- x
- y
- z
Name
Email address
STECCO
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only three seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have three seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 37 of the 40 seats thus far, so just three are still available.


Sunday
October 9
#DMD GAME DAY

week five

Volume XXVII
Issue 9
Washington Redskins (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: Ravens -4


With an imposing schedule in December, the Ravens are in a situation throughout October and November where they’ll need to pile up as many wins as they can in an effort to reach double digits in victories and return to the post-season.

One of those opportunities comes today against the visiting Redskins, a team the Ravens should beat.

This is where it’s fair to say, “Weren’t they supposed to beat the Raiders last Sunday?”

Yep, they were.

But this Washington team isn’t as good as Oakland. And the Ravens should win this game today.

A significant element of today’s game revolves around the same issue that blossomed last Sunday against the Raiders: the health of starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley.

As everyone saw a week ago, the drop-off from Stanley to James Hurst is huge. If Stanley can’t play today, that levels the playing field for sure. And, even if he does suit up, how valuable can he be without practicing this past week?

X
It could be an entertaining afternoon in Baltimore if Steve Smith Sr. and Redskins' CB Josh Norman lock horns all day.

And, much like the Ravens exhibit quite regularly, there’s no telling which Washington squad shows up in Baltimore this afternoon.

Is it that Redskins team that got molly-whopped at home by the Steelers on the opening Monday night of the season?

Or is it the Washington team that went to New York and lit up the Giants two weeks ago?

And how will the Ravens offense attack the Redskins’ defense?

Some of the Baltimore game-plan might be weather related, of course, but all things being equal, will John Harbaugh and Company try and attack the Redskins through the air or on the ground?

Kenneth Dixon is expected to make his NFL debut today and if the rookie running back shows the same sort of ability he displayed in two pre-season games, the Baltimore ground game might be the catalyst for this afternoon’s contest.

But someone has to block for Dixon and Terrance West, remember. And Marc Trestman's offensive game plan then needs to try and actually establish something, be it a heavy dose of running plays that soften the Redskins for the occasional downfield throw or a pass-happy scheme that forces Washington to add another defensive back and opens up their front seven for more opportunities on the ground.

It's always dangerous to have the game hinge on the play calling of Trestman, and perhaps hinge is too strong of a word, but the point is that Baltimore's offensive coordinator is more of a hit-and-miss proposition than we'd like to see.

If the Ravens attack through the air, Joe Flacco will no doubt have to contend with Redskins’ corner back Josh Norman, who has a long history with Ravens’ wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. dating back to their days together as members of the Carolina Panthers.

Expect an entire afternoon of pushing and shoving from Smith and Norman, who will snipe at each other more than Archie and Edith used to do in All in The Family. Whether or not Norman actually draws the assignment of defending Smith, those two will somehow get drawn to one another, you can guarantee that. Smith Sr. is nothing if not predictable, and he knows the TV cameras are on the Washington defensive back with every snap of the ball.

Flacco might also have to run for his life like he did a week ago against the Raiders when James Hurst and Ryan Jensen patrolled the left side of the offensive line. That sort of unsettled situation isn't a strength of Baltimore's 9-year quarterback. He's a gamer, yes, but not always the most productive when the offensive line isn't offering him maximum protection.

Then again, this Washington defense you’ll be seeing today has given up an average 413 yards per-game so far in 2016. They’re ranked 28th out of 32 teams. In other words – the Redskins’ defense isn’t very good.

Even with a patchwork offensive line, Baltimore should be able to pile up some yards and points on Washington today.

As long as they produce one more point than the Redskins, that’s all that matters.

The Baltimore defense got bruised by Derek Carr and the Raiders last Sunday, but that offense was much better overall than Washington's, although it's fair to note that the Redskins average more yards per-game in the air (287) than Oakland (265).

Expect the Redskins to try and execute a game plan similar to the one produced by Oakland a week ago. Lots of downfield throws, make the game a bit of a shootout, try and rattle Flacco and don't let Steve Smith Sr. have a field day. If Washington can make those four things happen with success, who knows what might happen?

The Ravens will be challenged today, but they're not losing at home to the Redskins.

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show me the money – week #5


OK, so I liked nothing about last week’s schedule of games and it was reflected in the 2-4 record I compiled.

This week, though, has a far better schedule of games from which to choose and I fully anticipate returning to the winner’s circle in a big way today.

LAST WEEK’S RECORD: 2-4

OVERALL THIS SEASON: 11-13

RAVENS ONLY: 1-3

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 2-2


Today’s picks:

BEARS AT COLTS (-4.0) -- I don’t think either of these teams are any good, but Indianapolis, at home, should be able to handle the Bears with ease. If Indy can’t beat Chicago, it’s probably time to jettison Chuck Pagano. But that won’t happen – this week at least – as Indy rolls to an easy 33-16 win over Chicago.

EAGLES AT LIONS (+3.5) -- Is Philadelphia for real? After a two-week layoff, will they be the same Eagles team that pummeled the Steelers in Philadelphia or could today be the proverbial “trap game” that coaches fear when they’re facing an inferior opponent? Detroit is 1-3 and just lost to Chicago. The Bears are bad. The Lions might be worse, believe it or not. Let’s go with the Eagles here in a game that’s closer than most might anticipate 22-17.

JETS AT STEELERS (-7.5) -- If Pittsburgh’s high-powered offense demolished Kansas City last Sunday night, what should the Steelers do to the Jets this afternoon? It could get ugly at Heinz Field today unless the New York running game is able to shorten the contest by holding onto the ball and keeping Roethlisberger and Company off the field. It won’t matter. Pittsburgh smashes the Jets in this one, 32-17.

TEXANS AT VIKINGS (-7.0) -- We keep giving the Vikings a chance to stumble and show their true colors, but it doesn’t happen. And it’s not going to happen today, either. Even though Houston has the ability to put up some points, they’re facing a ferocious Minnesota defense this afternoon and a suddenly prolific Vikings passing game. This one gets out of hand quick and stays that way, as the Vikings continue to impress with a 24-12 win over the Texans.

BENGALS AT COWBOYS (+2.0) -- One of these two teams isn’t truly representative of their current record, as the Bengals sit at 2-2 and the Cowboys are 3-1. I’ll go with the visitors in this one, as I’m guessing Cincy is able to put some points up on that Dallas defense. Let’s take the Bengals to win in a close one, 27-23.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Has to be the Vikings (-7.0) at home vs. the Texans. I just don't see how Houston can score enough points. And that Vikings offense is good enough to pour it on if need be.

How Drew sees today’s Ravens-Redskins game, with Baltimore favored by 4 points.

There are a couple of factors working in the Ravens favor today, most notably a nice little nugget about NFC teams making the trip to Baltimore. In John Harbaugh’s previous eight seasons in Baltimore, only two NFC clubs have won at M&T Bank Stadium; the Packers in 2013 and the Seahawks in 2015. Other than that, the Ravens don’t lose to NFC teams in Baltimore…ever. If that’s not good enough for you, just go back to the notes above and take heed of Washington’s woeful defensive numbers so far in 2016. They’re giving up 413 yards per-game. And their offense, while statistically better than Baltimore’s, isn’t high powered or proficient enough to overcome their not-so-good defense. Look for Baltimore to mix the run and pass with effectiveness this afternoon and do a better job of protecting Joe Flacco than they did a week ago against the Oakland. Baltimore improves to 4-1 with a 29-23 victory that isn’t as close as that score might indicate.

KELLY
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my orioles attendance take


A few weeks back here at #DMD, one of our commenters asked ME for my opinion on why the Orioles attendance numbers were down in 2016. After that Boston series and the dismal showing in the stands, much discussion ensued here -- and elsewhere around town -- about the crowds and someone wanted to know what I thought, specifically, about all of it.

I casually referenced the Ravens as a factor, noting that once football season starts in these parts, a certain segment of sports fans in town are far more inclined to just shut baseball off or, at the very least, not spend any more of their discretionary income on baseball UNLESS IT'S A PLAYOFF GAME.

That, though, is a small part of why no one came to the games against the Red Sox. It's much bigger than that.

I'm not sure I buy Dan Duquette's contention at last week's post-wild card press conference that the team's failure to get season ticket notices out in a timely fashion was responsible for the 2,500 per-game drop off, but I definitely think it had something to do with it.

Remember, 2,500 season tickets is actually only about 800 accounts, assuming each account "averages" roughly three season ticket seats per-transaction. Most "people" buy two season tickets, most businesses buy four.

X
This wasn't quite the showing at the Red Sox series in September, but home crowds were down in Baltimore by 2,500 per-game in 2016 and a late season series against the Red Sox featured three dismal nights of attendance.

So, the Orioles might have very well lost out on 800 accounts by not distributing their season ticket info until after the Chris Davis signing, but I don't think it was quite that much.

I don't buy the "afraid to go downtown" theme, either, except when it comes to fans who from the "outskirts" who would previously come to anywhere from two to four games per-season. The folks in Lancaster, Smyrna DE, Fairfax VA, etc. -- the ones who watched the rioting in 2015 on cable TV and thought, "Holy cow, Baltimore is unsafe" -- might have been swayed by the bad publicity, but anyone actually living in and around Baltimore likely wasn't affected all that much.

There is a train of thought, though, that suggests anyone even thinking about going to a home game always has the ability to ask themselves, "Do I really want to go down there and spend $100 or would I rather just stay home and watch it on TV?" And that question can also be tied into the "safety" angle. Why risk it when the game is on TV?

I do think all of those things above matter. The Ravens matter. Late season ticket information matters. Safety matters. But not in an overwhelming way.

The two biggest factors in my opinion?

It's expensive to go to a baseball game.

And all of the games are on television.

Let's get this out of the way first: You most certainly CAN go to a baseball game for $10 if you catch the right night and take advantage of one of the ticket discount opportunities. And you can go to that game and not eat or drink one thing in the stadium.

You can have a friend drop you off and pick you up -- that's a GREAT friend, by the way -- and not pay for tolls or parking.

It's possible to see an Orioles game for $10, yes, but you'll be higher than Laremy Tunsil when you settle into Section 386 or whatever other nether-region your $10 ticket puts you in.

Not many people want to actually sit up there if they can avoid it. The only folks sitting in 386 are the ones who only want to pay $10 for a ticket.

But very few casual fans are doing that.

That's not reality as it relates to attending a game at Oriole Park.

The reality is this: You're going to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on a ticket.

You're going to pay at least $10 to park, if not $20.

If it's just you and one other person (and you're doing the buying), you'll rack up at least $30 in food and drink costs.

I'm not going to reference novelties and souvenirs because I go to plenty of games with my son and we don't buy anything from the novelty stands.

But if you're going to an Orioles game, expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 per-person for your ticket, parking and food/drinks.

That's $120 for two, $240 for four.

That's what you were paying in mid-September during that Boston series.

And why do that when you can watch the game on your TV set at home and pay nothing, except the $3.50 a month Uncle Pete nicks you for without your approval?

All of the games televised on MASN most certainly contributes to diminishing in-stadium numbers. I don't think anyone would debate that point.

There is one other thing worth discussing, and I don't have the marketing data to back this up, but I personally know LOTS of people in this category.

Thousands of people who were ardent Orioles fans throughout the 1990's and into the early part of the 2000's, even, are no longer supporters of the team at the turnstile.

They're gone.

I mean, they're still here, but they're no longer ticket-buying customers, having been turned off by the team's management style in the mid 2000's and vowing never to return.

I have a very close friend who owned four season seats near the first base line for eleven years and he gave them up in 2008 and said, "I'll never give that man another nickel of my money" and hasn't, in fact, ever since.

There are others like him out there, too. Now, that might not directly explain the drop off from 29,300 to 26,800 (2015 to 2016), because he didn't go in 2015 either, but it might explain why the team couldn't make up that gap with NEW SALES in 2016.

Baltimore is filled with folks who simply won't go to the games anymore.

For a variety of reasons.

But none of that excuses the baseball fans of Charm City for their woeful showing during the Boston series in September.

At the moment of truth, the fan base choked, sort of like the team's manager did last Tuesday night in Toronto.

When needed most, for the biggest series of the year, the fan base said, "Nah, I'll pass on this one...I'm sure everyone else will be there anyway."

And "everyone else" wasn't there.

Glory
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only four seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have four seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 36 of the 40 seats thus far, so 4 are still available.


Saturday
October 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 8
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


do buck, harbaugh deserve "kid gloves" treatment?


While making my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday, my former radio co-host brought up an interesting question in the aftermath of "Buckgate".

"Based on what he's done here with the Orioles, should we give Showalter a pass for his managerial toe-stub in Tuesday night's wild card loss at Toronto?" Clark asked.

This, of course, presupposes that you believe Showalter erred by leaving Ubaldo Jimenez in the game in the bottom of the 11th inning in the 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

If you don't believe that to be a mistake, Clark's question posed to me doesn't really connect with you and, accordingly, you can now go get another morning cup of coffee while the rest of us debate Clark's question. No offense intended, but we don't need you in the room for this one if you don't think Showalter screwed up.

If you do, however, believe the Orioles' skipper made a mess of things, join in on the discussion.

X
How much of a pass do we give Buck for his managerial blunder(s) on Tuesday night in Toronto?

Is it fair -- and the right thing to do -- to give Showalter a pass for Tuesday night's blunder(s)?

As in, "You know, Buck's been one hell of a manager here in town for us. The great ones all make mistakes. I'm not going to beat him up over this one."

Or, should he get raked-over-the-coals and then doused with water just before he starts to suffer burns?

The same question was also mutually attached to Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh, who himself had a couple of head-scratchers in last Sunday's loss to the Raiders.

Nine years in Baltimore, a Super Bowl title, three trips to the AFC title game -- is that all enough to Harbaugh the same kind of "pass" when he makes a "coaching mistake" in a critical situation during a game?

The answer to the "pass" question? It's easy for me. Managers and coaches should be judged on the totality of their work and it largely involves two things; winning, and enjoying post-season success.

Marvin Lewis, for example, has done a significant amount of winning as the head coach of the Bengals, but he hasn't won jack squat in the playoffs. If I ran that team, we would have endeavored to upgrade a few years back based on that issue alone.

Some would say Buck Showalter isn't all that far removed from someone like Lewis. He's been an outstanding manager, has done lots of winning over the years, but in the post-season, for whatever reason, the results just aren't the same.

The natural reaction for anyone willing to deep-dive on the subject is this: "You're not always playing teams equal to or better than you in the regular season, but you're almost ALWAYS playing a team of comparable ability in the post-season." In other words, you're going to lose more in the playoffs because the opponent is more worthy.

Showalter has done an outstanding job in Baltimore since 2010.

The three principle figures to the recent upsurge in Orioles baseball are easily Buck, Dan Duquette and the long-ago-departed Andy MacPhail.

But that doesn't excuse Showalter for what happened on Tuesday night. In other words, as I told Glenn Clark on Friday morning, Showalter doesn't get a "pass" or kid gloves treatment because we're willing to offset his time here with an enormous in-game managerial decision that could have cost the Orioles a chance to go to the World Series.

Do I think the Birds were going to the World Series, even with a win over Toronto? I do not. That said, had they won on Tuesday, they certainly could have gone to the World Series. It was, statistically speaking if nothing else, a possibility.

And Buck can't be waved through the Harbor Tunnel without paying just because he's been a model citizen all these years.

I'm not suggesting we keep a sheet of paper in our briefcase and put this on the right side underneath the headline "Things Buck has done that could lead to his firing", but what happened Tuesday will tarnish Showalter's legacy here for certain unless the Orioles someday win a World Series with him as the club's manager.

Remember Billy Cundiff?

He had a GREAT run for the Ravens as the team's kicker, rising from a journeyman who couldn't keep a job to having a wildly successful brief tenure in Baltimore.

What's Cundiff's legacy in town?

Right...

He was tarnished forever for one mistake. One bad kick. One chance to go to the Super Bowl dashed, one Wikipedia page updated. Cundiff's a bum.

X
Like Showalter, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is constantly under scrutiny for his in-game work. Based on his success, do we look the other way when he gets it wrong in a critical situation?

I'm only bringing up Cundiff to discuss the issue of "legacy", not the magnitude of the mistakes made by the kicker and the baseball manager.

Showalter will always be remembered as the manager who left a guy with an 8.17 ERA as a relief pitcher on the mound and left a guy with a 0.54 ERA in the bullpen in the biggest game of the year.

And he should be held accountable accordingly for that blunder, not given a "pass" as if to say, "Well, Buck, you've been so freakin' good here in Baltimore and we're so thankful for your service that we're going to act like you didn't do that on Tuesday night."

Fireable offense? Not even close. A check mark in the column that says, "Why can't Showalter get to a World Series?"? Maybe, yes.

Harbaugh, to me, is in a bit of a different boat in that he's been here longer than Buck and just by the natural extension of how football coaching works, it's sometimes harder to determine which mistakes, honestly, should be put on the head coach.

Last Sunday, for example, Harbaugh was evidently swayed to take that 3rd down penalty in the Raiders game by his defensive coordinator, who said, "Back them up...we'll stop them on the next play, I got this one handled."

Except he didn't have it handled and Harbaugh looked foolish a few plays later when the Raiders scored a key touchdown after the Ravens' coach gave them an extra down.

That's just one small example. Football coaching and baseball managing are much different. Football moves a mile-a-minute for the most part while baseball is slow enough that the manager can take a leak in between batters and not miss anything.

So, here's the summary: Buck did a great job and made a huge mistake and that error simply can't be swept under the rug.

Any key mistake made by Harbaugh -- one that we can all agree on and point to, that is -- should be filed away as such for him, too.

These guys coach and manage because they're great at what they do.

But there has to be some sort of checks and balances element to it that defines if they're still "a viable person to run the team".

The white elephant in the room with Showalter is, of course, his inability to get to the World Series as a manager. He's never done it.

He's either wildly unlucky (because he's had more than a handful of very good teams in his career) or something is amiss with the way he manages in the post-season.

And, yes, I know, "the other team tries, too". I patented that statement a few years back and it's one of my favorite "Drew'isms" if you will.

But what happened on Tuesday night can't be forgotten. Forgiven? Perhaps. Tarnished legacy? Quite possibly.

At some point soon, Showalter is going to have to manage a World Series game as an Orioles manager in order for us to be convinced he's actually capable of putting it all together in the playoffs.

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woods "looks like new" as final chapter is set to begin


Tiger Woods returns to golf next Thursday in California as he will play in the PGA Tour's season opening event to their 2016-2017 campaign.

It's Tiger's first tournament since August of 2015, when he succumbed to a back injury that required two surgeries thereafter and kept him out of competition for the entire 2015-2016 season.

This Thursday, he's back.

Or is he?

A few weeks ago, rumors circulated througout South Florida that Tiger was taking everyone's lunch money at Medalist GC, where he and a large group of PGA Tour players are members. There was a story that he shot 65-66 in a one-day "outing" of some wealthy Florida businessmen that included professionals in each group (sort of like a pro-am).

You can't put much stock in that sort of golf since the TV cameras aren't on, the patrons aren't there, etc., but 65-66 from the tips at Medalist is really strong.

Former PGA Tour player Jesper Parnevik lives in Jupiter and has played with Woods recently and said earlier this week, "Tiger is striping it...hitting it as good as he ever has before. He looks like new."

X
Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour this Thursday after a 16-month layoff. Can he return to the winner's circle at some point in the 2016-2017 season or has the sun set on one of the greatest players in golf history?

I'll take Parnevik's word on that one since he has a discerning eye given his successful career on the PGA Tour. He knows if someone's "striping it" or not.

But none of that matters, really.

The only thing that matters for Tiger is what he does this coming Thursday and Friday in Napa, California.

Does he make the cut?

Is he in the top 10 heading into Sunday?

Will he have a chance to win on the back nine of the final round?

People will always judge Woods differently because, well, he's Tiger Woods, or at least he used to be before his career hit a brick wall in 2014.

Anyone else coming back off of two back surgeries and not playing in a tournament for 16 months would be given a little leeway upon returning to the scene.

Woods won't be given any leeway.

He better make the cut. Failing to do so will be deemed a "failure", for sure.

The field at the Safeway Open is decent enough that if Woods should play well and be in the hunt, he won't have to hear "Well, no one worth a hoot was playing..."

There are a bunch of former major champions playing this week and Tiger will have to beat some really, really strong players if he somehow manages to -- gulp -- win the event.

I'm not expecting that, mind you. I don't think Woods is going to win. But I do think this time, unlike the other "returns", he's ready.

This is it for him. It's the final chapter of one of the greatest careers in the history of sports, let alone golf.

It will make golf interesting this week, that's for sure. Let's face it, none of us would be checking our phones on Thursday afternoon to see who is winning the Safeway Open if Tiger Woods wasn't playing.

I'd love to see him win, personally.

More than anything else, though, I just want to see him playing again.

KELLY
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only four seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have four seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 36 of the 40 seats thus far, so 4 are still available.


Friday
October 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 7
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


notre dame, fenway added to my "must do" list for all sports fans


Things have been so hectic in these parts over the last couple of weeks -- Orioles, Ravens, Ryder Cup -- that I haven't had a chance yet to tell you all about DMD's trip to Notre Dame a couple of weekends ago.

Today's the day for that.

I've been to two places in 2016 that I hadn't previously visited; Fenway Park in June, with a group of 20 from #DMD for a 3-game Orioles-Red Sox series, and Notre Dame for a Fightin' Irish football game with 20 more #DMD travelers on September 24 when the hosts were stunned by Duke, 38-35.

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Put this one on your 2017 "must do" list and join #DMD next year when we travel to Notre Dame for a college football game.

The good Lord willing, I'll be back back in those two places again in 2017.

And maybe you'll join me.

The Notre Dame trip might have been one of the greatest one-day sports experiences of my life. It was greatly enhanced by the fact I was able to take my 9-year old son and friends like Brian Hubbard of Kelly Payroll and our football writer, Ken Greeley, were able to make the trip with us. The experience was simply amazing.

And I don't think you have to be an over-the-top college football fan to go there and enjoy the whole thing. The campus is breathtaking, whether you're strolling along and just taking in all the architecture or stopping for mass at one of the several churches on campus. A pre-game or post-game visit to The Grotto is a must as well, which is an almost surreal outdoor spot on the far end of campus where people quietly gather for a moment of reflection and prayer.

The football stadium? As memorable as you can imagine that it would be. All the history, all the great players, all the legendary coaches...right there in front of you as you and 80,000 others watch a college football game at a facility planted right there on the actual campus itself.

We'll be going again in 2017.

It's now on my "annual to-do-list".

If you've never been, please consider making the trip with me next season.

Back in June, I experienced my first-ever game inside of Fenway Park.

I'll be going back there every year, too.

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The city, the stadium, the experience: A trip to Fenway Park is a must if you're a baseball fan of any level. #DMD will head back there in 2017 and you can -- and should! -- join us.

We were fortunate to secure rooms at the Hotel Buckminster, right behind the left-field wall, basically, so the trip was uber-convenient (actually, it wasn't "uber-convenient", if you know what I mean) from a walking/travel standpoint.

The ballpark? Magical.

Sure, it's built more for 1976 than 2016, but that's part of its charm. It's like driving around in a 1957 Ford Fairlane. It's supposed to "feel" old...that's the whole idea.

The seats are cramped, yes. There are plenty of poles in the lower deck that get in your way. But for the pure "baseball viewing" part, Fenway is, to me, unmatched.

It helped that the Orioles took two of three in that series, too.

But everything about Boston, the city, is worthy of praise. Much easier to navigate than New York, for starters, and the downtown area there is open, refreshingly welcoming, and you're always a 20-minute train ride from any other part of the outskirts you want to experience, including Cambridge and Harvard.

I just wanted to take a second today to pass that information along, as I know some of you plan your lives out far in advance. Within a few weeks, I'll publish the travel dates for next year's Notre Dame trip and our visit to Fenway Park for an Orioles-Red Sox series.

I'd love to have you and your family with us.

You'll never forget it, I promise.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The NFL is on notice; Tom Brady is coming back, rested, focused, and no doubt ticked off after missing four games to a suspension and having his name dragged through the mud by the league he's helped make a ton of money for over the last fifteen years.

And his team is already 3-1 without him and in the catbird seat in the AFC playoff picture.

As much as I instinctively dislike any team from Boston and any player who went to Michigan, and as much as I want to see the Ravens taking home another Superbowl title this year, it would legitimately warm my heart if this season were to end with Brady and Pats owner Robert Kraft resisting the siren call to be bigger men and refusing to accept the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell.

It would certainly be a fitting end to the latest installment of the ongoing drama of the sports world's living embodiment of the idiot son principle.

A scientist says the footballs weren't even deflated

It's also fitting that, in the week Brady is set to return to action, Sports Illustrated publishes a column by a professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT who concludes that, based on the information provided by the NFL and its own contracted scientific experts, the footballs that set off this monumental sports and legal scandal were never even deflated in the first place!

It's worth backing up here and noting that, as much as we might hate the Patriots and want to root for their downfall, "Deflategate" has always been a crock from the word go. All you ever needed to know about the so-called scandal was this: the referees who checked the weight of the balls used two different pressure gauges with different calibrations, and neither made sure that they checked each ball with the same gauge prior to the game at halftime nor even wrote down the recorded weights of the balls.

If we were holding the "evidence" in this case to any sort of scientific or judicial rigor this would be absolutely all you need to know.

The prosecutor/NFL can't say how much of any discrepancy is attributable to the simple possibility that the weights were checked with different gauges, and thus we have no way to establish that there was any cheating at all. There were a multitude of reasons to dismiss this as a non-story, including a) that plenty of people have acknowledged that every team was taking liberties with their gameballs to suit their quarterback's preferences and b) the fact that the Patriots whomped the Colts even more soundly in the second half after the balls were presumably pumped up even more soundly than they had before halftime, but this was the original flaw in the process that made any other argument completely superfluous.

In a world where the NFL league office was run by a competent person, this never would have been a story. A competent person would have countered the erroneous reporting disseminated by ESPN and other outlets concerning the weight of balls that fueled the early parts of the story.

A competent person would have added to those corrections by making sure it was "leaked" that the Colts were just being a bunch of whiny babies, salving their wounds from getting a savage butt-whooping in the AFC Championship game by a vastly superior in every way team and franchise. A competent person tamps down the initial outrage and then, when science suggests that it's certainly not obvious that the balls were manually deflated, declares the whole thing a non-story and moves on, and ultimately everyone forgets about it until the Patriots almost inevitably stomp the tar out of their team as well.

But if there's one thing Roger Goodell is most certainly not, it's competent in his job.

Far to the contrary, after basically a decade of Goodell's reign of error, a consistent pattern of handling these circumstances has emerged. Goodell is absolutely incapable of handling the presence of ANY kind of controversy. Almost from Day One, we've heard of his obsessive focus on "The Shield," which is his euphemism for the image of the NFL.

On-field or off-field controversy cannot be tolerated, and specifically the appearance that he, The Commissioner, is not in control of EVERY aspect of the league, its franchises, and its players at every moment of the day simply cannot be tolerated.

Goodell's heavy-handed act is wearing thin

When controversy or scandal breaks out, Goodell is quick to assert his "authoritah," (South Park reference) and when his initial ham-fisted, bumbling reaction only serves to make things worse, he attempts to ratchet things up even further which a) pleases no one and b) antagonizes basically anyone that matters.

His response to Deflategate is as textbook an illustration as you can get. Faced with no actual evidence that any rule breaking occured, Goodell first sat idly by (or provided the source material) while ESPN inaccurately reported that multiple balls were as many as 2 PSI underweight.

While you would think the league might have an interest in quickly investigating the matter given how many people were talking about disqualifying the Patriots from the Superbowl and other radical proposals, the NFL sat around and waited until weeks later to even begin looking into the matter. That's especially ridiculous given the likelihood that whatever deflation did occur is explainable by the laws of physics. You would think the league's interest would be in determining that ASAP, and quickly saying that no rule-breaking occured.

But to think that misunderstands the fundamental nature of Roger Goodell, and fails to take into account his own prior failure in "Spygate."

Remember, in that case, Goodell responded to allegations of rule breaking by the Patriots by levying an unprecedented punishment against the franchise and head coach Bill Belichick...and then ordered the destruction of the evidence in the case.

This was ample fodder for conspiracy theorists who assumed whatever was on the tapes was so bad Goodell simply couldn't allow it to be seen, and somehow came to the conclusion that the punishment leveled was actually lenient towards the Patriots. A common refrain from "league sources" was that Goodell was deeply stung by these allegations, and that the four game suspension of Brady plus the even stiffer penalty for the franchise was something of a "do-over" from Goodell to other owners who thought the Pats got off easy.

Of course, the real world doesn't work like this, and Goodell's reckless attempts to fix his previous screw ups has only made everything worse.

The litigation fallout from both Brady's case and the several cases involving domestic violence that proceeded from Goodell's attempt to rectify his embarrassing decision to suspend Ray Rice a mere two games for punching out his future wife in a casino elevator have been disastrous for the league. Yes they ultimately "won" the battle, but the mere fact that it reached federal appellate court in the first place is a huge embarrassment and setback given the reality of the law on arbitration awards.

Simply put, the law is heavily stacked in favor of the winning party in arbitration (at least assuming the two parties are on reasonably equal footing). The court system WANTS to push these kinds of disagreements into arbitration, and so the grounds for appealing decisions is extremely narrow. It's not enough to say that the arbitrator got it wrong, you have to prove that they were either corrupt or grossly misapplied the contract at issue and, as such, the vast majority of appeals don't even get a hearing, let alone affirmative support from half of the federal judges who rule on the matter.

And this comes on top of both judges and independent arbitrators overruling Goodell in the cases of Rice, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson, to say nothing of former commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacating the "Bountygate" discipline entirely after a federal judge all but ordered Goodell's removal from that matter entirely.

And while none of this really matters to most fans, that fact that the NFL's position in the legal proceedings was completely absurd likely will matter in the not too distant future.

Specifically, if nothing changes with respect to the owners' relationship Goodell between now and then, the league's conduct during this process essentially guarantees a work stoppage over Goodell's disciplinary powers during the next round of CBA negotiations and, frankly, the union would be guilty of malpractice if they didn't go to the limit demanding a reigning in of the commissioner on this point after watching Goodell ignore both the most basic reading of the CBA and the rules of the arbitration process this past year.

Luckily, perhaps, there have been scattered reports of various owner groups already working on undercutting the commissioner on this point and compromising on the issue of the commissioner's authority, but should that fizzle and should Goodell maintain his unbreakable insistence on exercising his right to act as a tinpot dictator when he feels like it.

And there's little reason to think anyone will reign Goodell in until outright disaster strikes, because nothing else has to this point, even before Goodell rose to the game's top position.

How does the Commissioner get away with this stuff?

That apparently includes even an instance of outright assault against one of the league's other top executives, if you believe the account of former referee boss and current media gadfly Mike Pereira. A few weeks ago, reports emerged of a recounting of a story of an interaction between the two involving the infamous "beer bottle" game in Cleveland where a controversial, but correct, refereeing decision provoked massive controversy and friction between the two league officials.

Pereira, acknowledging that mistakes were made but also being a well adjusted adult with a feel for handling public controversy, wanted to demerit referee Terry McAulay and move on. Goodell, unable to drown out the public controversy and feeling heat from the Browns franchise, wanted to make a show of suspending McAulay, possibly without clear authority, a position with which Pereira would not acquiesce to and Goodell, not yet commissioner, could not force over his rival's objection. By Pereira's account, Goodell became so enraged at not getting his way that he physically shoved Perreira right in the latter's office, in front of witnesses and hard enough to hurt Pereira's shoulder.

It's impossible to understate how unbelievable it is that Goodell kept his job after that incident, let alone that he went on to become Commissioner. For most of us, laying hands on a colleague like that would get us fired, let alone precluding promotion to senior management.

But Goodell ascended anyway, and the league/owners have gotten exactly what they deserved for entrusting stewardship of the sport to the sort of overgrown child who knows no other way to deal with problems but to make showy, unfounded punishments of employees and physically assaults his peers when he can't force his way. There have been many awful commissioners in the history of American professional sports, but it is truly difficult to think of anyone in a similar position less adequate to meet the demands of the position and answer the call of its time than Roger Goodell.

The NFL is, at its best, something that can bring families and communities together and foster a sense of civic goodwill, but it's presently beset through legitimately existential crises stemming from decades of ignoring the physical tolls it takes on its players and papering over injuries by encouraging the massive abuse of painkiller medications.

Beyond the substantial risk that the reality of the physical danger football poses to the game, fan discontent with the quality of play is at a high mark in recent history, and short sighted decisions to cater to television networks and advertising partners at all costs are beginning to prove that the league's television position isn't as bulletproof as everyone thought. It's truly a dangerous moment for the National Football League as an enterprise, and they need a sober, rational, competent manager guiding the ship.

Unfortunately they've chosen to cast their lot with Roger Goodell instead.

KELLY
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four quarters of college football


#DMD's college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in today with his thoughts and looks at several brewing coaching stories as the college season really heats up in October.

First Quarter: Les Miles – Last week, after 12 years of diminishing returns, LSU fired their head coach. Les Miles’ overall resume was impressive – one BCS national championship in two title game appearances which followed each of his SEC championship years. He won 77% of his games while competing in the toughest college football conference.

The first reason for his dismissal was his lack of success since 2011, seemingly starting with their domination by Alabama in the championship game. In his four full seasons since, the Tigers have not beaten SEC kingpin Alabama and lost at least three games each year, despite highly ranked recruiting classes.

Second, Les Miles was stubborn. At the end of last season, the school tried a head coach coup. It failed as the athletic director could not lure former assistant Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. Unfortunately Les keep the status quo despite the troubling signs.

Cam Cameron remained the offensive coordinator and the offense continued to struggle this year as the Tigers went 2-2. (Interim head coach Ed Orgeron fired Cam and the team responded with a school record for offensive yardage in a SEC game).

Second Quarter: Tom Herman – The current Houston head coach is the top up-and-coming head coaching candidate and probably the third reason why LSU made a mid-season coaching change.

In two seasons, Tom has made the group-of-five member a top tier team by compiling an 18-1 record. Previously, he was the offensive coordinator for Ohio State when they won the 2014 national title using two backup quarterbacks.

LSU and Tom Herman are in a similar situation to Florida and Urban Meyer in 2005. Florida fired their head coach mid-season and had the inside track to Urban Meyer, who had turned two programs (Bowling Green and Utah) into winners within three years. When Notre Dame expressed interest, it was too late. Urban was already on his way to be the next Gators’ head coach, where he won two national championships, including one in his second year.

Third Quarter: Charlie Strong – From day one, Texas and their head coach seemed headed for a divorce. When hired by the previous administration in 2014, a large vocal booster group did not approve. Charlie had to establish control over an undisciplined team by releasing a lot of players.

Many of his recruits have left the program. The offense has been inconsistent. Charlie has already changed defensive coordinators and this week announced he is taking over defensive play calling. Even the special teams have lost a handful of games.

Now after two and one-half years, Charlie’s 13-16 record at Texas is validating the boosters claim and forcing the new athletic director to make a decision.

Fourth Quarter: Mike Perrin – The interim Texas athletic director released a statement this week subtly indicating Charlie Strong will be evaluated. His statement had more to do with Tom Herman and less to do with Charlie Strong.

His message - Texas is moving on from Charlie Strong and the Longhorns are interested in Tom Herman’s services. Texas does not want to be caught in a LSU coup type of situation. While Texas did not go the LSU route of a mid-season firing, Mike Perrin did his best to remind Tom Herman and his agent not to commit too early.

His action also put Texas ahead of other potential suitors (USC? Oregon? Notre Dame?).

It’s interesting what Urban Meyer’s instant success at Ohio State has done to the college coaching carousel.

SAFFER
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only four seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


We almost have ourselves a sold-out bus for the Ravens-Jets game!

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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along. But we only have four seats left!

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 36 of the 40 seats thus far, so 4 are still available.


Thursday
October 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 6
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birds face some tough decisions - and no, buck isn't one of them


The fur is still flying in Baltimore as Orioles fans are still boiling about Tuesday night's wild card loss to the Blue Jays, so maybe today isn't the best moment to quickly re-hash the 2016 campaign and move forward to 2017.

People around town are still in piling-on mode, which seemingly every caller on talk radio was doing all day Wednesday.

I'm not going to pile on. I'll just make some valid points.

Let me get my opinion out of the way first -- which doesn't mean a hill of beans to Buck, Duquette or the Orioles, admittedly -- and then move on to a couple of topics about the recent season and next year as well.

Showalter screwed the pooch on Tuesday night, period.

And it wasn't just the Zach Britton issue, either, although we can certainly all agree -- I think -- that not having Britton in there to face Edwin Encarnacion (or Bautista if you think Buck would have intentionally walked EE there) was a mistake.

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Yes, Buck had an off night on Tuesday in Toronto? Fire the guy? No, that's not the answer.

It was a mistake for one big reason. Nothing about that situation told you Jimenez was the man for the job, given what had just happened to him with the first two batters he faced.

It would be akin to Van Halen bringing back David Lee Roth for a Summer 2017 Tour. It's just not going to work.

Jimenez, in that situation, was the wrong lead singer for the band.

He nearly decapitated the first Toronto hitter he faced -- on the first pich, no less -- and with two swings of the bat, there were runners on first and third and just one out. He had no velocity, no movement, no...well...no nothing. And while perhaps we had a better viewpoint of his face, watching on TV, then Buck did from the dugout somehow 110 feet away, you could see "anguish" on Jimenez's face.

I don't know about you, but when Buck went out there to meet with Jimenez, I just assumed he was done and Britton was coming in.

"OK, there is a God," I said to myself as Showalter trotted out there.

Instead, as we all know now, Jimenez stayed in the game and the Blue Jays stayed in the playoffs.

Britton was the call there. End of story. How Buck left a mediocre arm like Jimenez in the game to face Encarnacion with the best left-handed relief pitcher in baseball clipping his nails in the bullpen will go down -- no hyperbole here -- as one of the worst managerial/coaching decisions in the history of Baltimore sports.

That's not a low blow, it's just a fact.

I've heard this a lot recently: "What if you bring Britton in there and he throws 20 pitches, gets out of the inning unscathed, and then we score in the 12th to take the lead...who closes the game in the 12th?" Britton closes the game, that's freakin' who.

For all we know, Britton might have induced a double play, and the Orioles might have scored five runs in the top of the 12th. Charlie Brown could have come in at that point to close the game.

Zach Britton is -- or was, up until his season ended on Tuesday -- fully capable of throwing to five, six, seven batters, etc.

Point being this: In the bottom of the 11th inning, with the game in the balance and the winning run on 3rd base, the 12th, 13th, 14th innings do NOT matter. What matters is getting there. And to get there, potentially, you needed to avoid giving up a run in the bottom of the 11th.

Who better to do that? Britton? Or Jimenez?

If you honestly think it's Jimenez, you're silly.

Buck's other blunder? Playing that stiff Nolan Reimold in extra innings. Sorry, that's harsh, I know, but taking Kim out of the game and inserting Reimold was such a bad move that Buck almost deserved to lose the game just to show how dumb that decision was.

Yes, yes, I'm aware that Kim doesn't fare well against left-handed pitching. I know that because every time the team faced a left handed pitcher, Kim didn't get a chance to play.

Would you rather have Nolan Reimold at the plate or Hyun Soo Kim? I don't care what hand the pitcher throws with...who do you want in there?

If you say "Reimold", the local Little League team you managed last summer just checked in to say you're now their previous manager.

And that's not even bringing up that horrendous bobble in left field of a routine ball hit to Reimold in the bottom of the 11th that put the winning run at 3rd base.

Reimold didn't put himself in the game. Buck put in him. Just an awful decision.

And before any of YOU pile on, please know that I haven't yet -- and won't -- say the reason why the Orioles lost on Tuesday night was specifically because of the Britton and Reimold decisions.

The Orioles lost because they scored two runs and the other team scored five. They had more hits than we did. The Toronto offense produced more than the Baltimore offense.

Oh, and yes, the Orioles also lost because the manager made one of the worst decisions EVER with regard to his pitching move(s) in the 11th inning and a guy who didn't belong in the game at that juncture bobbled a ball every kid at Calvert Hall would have collected with ease and tossed back into the infield.

One last thing about Tuesday night. And this really ticked me off when I saw the top of the first inning.

What clown in the Orioles organization decided to eschew the team's standard gray road uniforms with BALTIMORE on the front of the shirt for those black shirts with ORIOLES on the front?

Bush league...

The team is in the playoffs, on national TV, and you're going to wear a bland, benign "don't want to offend the folks in York, PA who might be watching" piece of crap shirt with ORIOLES on the front?

Outrageous. No wonder 22,000 people per-game showed up for the biggest series of the year against Boston.

OK, that's off my chest.

A few notes about the season, in general.

I'm not making excuses for the team when I point out a few of these things. These are facts.

The Orioles approach at the plate is/was terrible. I don't see how anyone would disagree with that. Too much first-pitch swinging, too many balls in the dirt hacked at, and just too much reliance on the home run and not enough "produce a run" mentality, or ability, perhaps.

The O's tried to fix that in March when they signed Dexter Fowler. He would have helped in that department big time. And they thought they had him, right up until he french kissed the Cubs behind our back.

Losing Fowler hurt.

Yes, I know, waiting until March to sign him wasn't a great idea, but that's neither here nor there. He was a free agent, the Orioles wanted him, got him, and then he left before ever stepping foot in Sarasota.

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Chris Tillman's injury cost the Orioles a home wild card playoff game. That's the difference, perhaps, in the Orioles playing today in Texas and watching from their living rooms.

Joey Rickard's injury hurt them in that he, like Fowler, is a guy who can "make things happen". I'm not saying he was going to be an MVP candidate, but he was decent enough in right field -- certainly more dependable than Trumbo -- and at times was more than adequate with the bat. And he wasn't looking to hit a home run every time he came up, unlike just about everyone else on the roster not named Wieters, Hardy or Flaherty.

At least having Rickard available would have helped balanced out some of the team's "hit a 3-run homer" approach.

Chris Tillman's September injury that cost him a handful of starts was damaging. It probably, maybe even half-definitely, cost the team the wild card home game. And that, we know, is a big deal.

Lingering questions that will need to be answered soon (and I'll take a poke at answering them here, now):

What to do with Matt Wieters? As it looks like there's a chance the qualifying offer concept might not be in play this November, we'll have to see if that's even an option for the O's. If it IS an option, I'd still pass on Wieters for 2017. I'm not sure who you bring in to catch -- and it's likely not Caleb Joseph, full-time, but I think it's time to let Wieters get that $90 million five-year deal somewhere else.

What to do with Mark Trumbo? I say "don't make the same mistake you made with Nelson Cruz". In other words, you try to sign him. If the qualifying offer is still part of the negotiating landscape, that's probably the best route to go with Trumbo. Make him "do it" one more time before you have to decide to fork over big bucks. My guess is that the Orioles are going to pass on Trumbo, thinking ahead a little bit to having to pay Manny (and Tillman, and Jones) within the next few years, but if you're asking me "should he stay or he should go?", I say keep Trumbo around.

Is there any team dumb enough to take the Chris Davis contract off of our hands? Answer: No. But maybe there's someone out there who will go halfsies with us. We pay $11.5 million, they pay $11.5 million.

I know, I know, I have a better chance of singing for Van Halen than that happening, but I'm done with Davis. The Orioles might not be, but I sure am.

Outstanding defensively? Yep. As a hitter? Not what I prefer. Hits a lot of home runs, he does. Strikes out more times in six months than you make right turns on red in a year.

And, maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't ever see it changing with Davis. He's just not going to blossom into a consistent .260 hitter. He's just not.

When you're bored one snowy day this winter, look up his numbers in "critical" situations; runners in scoring position, tying/winning runs on base in the 7th, 8th or 9th innings. Go ahead...

The numbers are -- or were in 2016 -- horrendous. Hits a lot of homers, yes indeed. Most of them don't have an impact in the game(s). When called upon to deliver a big hit, he rarely does it.

Try to move Davis in the off-season, I say, although I know that's probably a longshot based on that albatross-contract of his.

In the end, the 2016 season was a good one. It was a great one until that one week period in September when the hapless Rays took two out of four in Baltimore and the Red Sox beat us up and stole our lunch money in that 4-game sweep at Camden Yards in the very next series.

Losing in the wild card game turned it into a good season, nothing more.

It's all still remarkably better and more interesting -- and better for our city's economy -- than anything we saw here from 1998-2011. Always keep that in mind.

But the end was so painful, so heartbreaking and, most of us believe, so avoidable that it's hard to take much solace in the fact that the team is actually trying to win now unlike those 14 seasons where we didn't sniff the playoffs.

We'll run this thing back again next year. Hopefully, a tad more balanced offensively than we were in 2016.

And next time, when our excellent manager gets a chance to put his stamp on a crucial game, let's hope he doesn't crack like he did on Tuesday night in Toronto.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

There's no good way to lose a post-season baseball series.

Dropping a one and done barnburner in extra innings is heartbreaking, but getting swept over a best-of-seven is a long, slow, form of torture that slowly eats away at your hope things can turn around until you're watching the last game in despair than anything else.

And because the playoffs are such a fundamentally different beast than the way baseball is structured to be played (162 games in six months), there really aren't any grand theories of how to win these games or obvious in the moment fixes to things going wrong. For the most part, you try to create the best situation and then hope the baseball gods or luck dragon or the umpire's eye prescriptions are on your side that night.

Much of that principle was on display Tuesday night, with a number of those elements that don't follow the script but, in fact, happen all of the time in individual baseball games.

Two teams with big offenses and some of the best home run hitters in the game, playing in one the league's most home run friendly parks, combined for just four runs through 10.5 innings.

Toronto's much maligned bullpen shut down the Orioles' lineup completely, in part because the O's hitters helped them at times, but mostly because they made some quality pitches that beat the opposing hitters and, yes, sometimes they got lucky.

One ball hit a smidgen differently changes the game on Tuesday

Consider this: if Mark Trumbo's bat tracks through the zone just a 1/4 inch higher in the 9th inning, he quite possibly launches Roberto Osuna's 96 MPH fastball into the bleachers for his second home run, dramatically altering the course of the game. Instead he ends up with a harmless foul tip, and the event is such a routine occurrence that no one even notices the monumental moment in the game they just witnessed.

This is the essence of baseball: Fractions of an inch and fractions of a second, doled out in events and "decisions" by players that are really as much learned reactions as anything else. It's why the worst team in the game has a much better chance of beating the best in any individual contest than you see in any other sport; limit your sample to a mere 54 outs and there's no telling how these small moments will break, when you'll catch a good one, and what its impact on that game will be.

The difference between the best teams and the worst teams are just a few less of these near misses every game or two, and it takes 150+ games to really absorb the cumulative effect.

And so the playoffs are, practically speaking, really random events in much the same way a game of poker is. You can play percentages and bet smart all you want, but there's no controlling for those times when the one card that can beat your great hand does come up on the river, and the guy who played a 10-2 offsuit has a hand every bit as good as a royal flush in the end.

This is why, ultimately, tactical in-game decisions are an extremely overrated part of a Major League manager's job description and, perhaps paradoxically, even moreso in the playoffs. Pushing all of the right buttons is all fine and good, but ultimately that 1/4 inch between a game changing 400 foot bomb and a meager foul tip is all but outside of anyone's control, let alone the guy filling out the lineup card.

Now with all of that said, let me be blunt: Buck Showalter's decision to turn to Ubaldo Jimenez before Zach Britton in the bottom of the 11th inning Tuesday night is probably the single worst tactical decision any manager has ever made in the 100+ year history of professional baseball.

I'm even limiting this specifically to the 11th inning because I think earlier decisions to rely on Brad Brach and Darren O'Day before turning to Britton were defensible, even understandable. Both of those guys are All-Star relievers, and arguably elite level performers when given the platoon advantage.

Both guys were deployed in the sort of situation you'd think you'd plan to use them for in a game like Tuesday night's, and so I don't actually think it was all that surprising that those moves worked out. Really good players were put into positions they were ideally suited for, and the breaks went Buck's way.

All of that only serves to highlight how badly handled the 11th inning was, however, because "putting good players into ideal situations" most certainly does not describe what happened then, at least once Buck turned to his long embattled starter.

Buck's decision to use Jimenez? A head scratcher

For one thing, Ubaldo wasn't even playing within his usual job description. Yes he has some experience coming out of the bullpen, but ultimately the guy is a starting pitcher, and he's been a starting pitcher for the past several weeks coming into the game. Trotting him out mid-inning to face the top of Blue Jays dangerous lineup is already a suboptimal position to be in. And why was Ubaldo coming in mid-inning anyway? Because Showalter apparently didn't trust him enough to pitch to the left-handed hitting Ezequiel Carrera, preferring to make Brian Duensing a LOOGY instead.

The mere fact that Showalter wasn't fine with Ubaldo facing the number nine hitter because of a platoon disadvantage but was okay with him facing Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and (presumably) Jose Bautista is very nearly self-refuting.

And as is often the case, the mistake was compounded with a healthy dose of course determination, with Ubaldo left in to serve up the game winning home run even after being hit hard by Edwin Encarnacion even after giving up hard singles to Donaldson and Devon Travis. Even if you try really hard to give Showalter every benefit of the doubt, to leave Britton in the bullpen when your entire season all but required a strikeout or groundball with one of the game's best all-around hitters at the face is the managerial equivalent of malpractice.

Yes, Britton is THE CLOSER, and that means that he and only he can get the last outs of the game if his team is winning to some people. This is nonsense, of course, both statistically and in terms of game theory.

In terms of the former, actual analysis of real life game results has pretty conclusively shown that, while the rise of relief specialists has drastically altered the game, the specific role of "ninth inning specialist" has had decidedly little impact.

Throughout baseball history, teams going into the ninth inning with a one run lead have won around 90% of the time. The contemporary era defined by the existence of the close job has produced no measurable increase in that number, and even the very best relievers only raise that number by a factor of about one win every season or two. There may be an argument in favor of demarcating specific bullpen roles for the purpose of navigating the 162 game regular season, but in the case of individual games the notion of saving your best reliever for a point at which you already have the lead is very nearly the single most useless thing you can do.

On the theoretical end of things, the theory once again falls apart, at least in the case of extra innings games on the road. I mean, if you simply can't trust the Tommy Hunters or Ubaldos in your bullpen to close out a game you're already winning and, historically, have a 90%+ chancing of winning on average, how in the world can you be okay with using them in a spot where giving up just one runs ends your season right then and there?

And just to layer it on, the real icing on the cake is that Showalter should know all of this as much as anyone in the game. It was Buck, after all, whose Yankees were eliminated in the famous Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS when Showlater chose to send out Jack McDowell to face the Mariners version of Murderers' Row (he actually pulled Mariano Rivera after one batter to do it, but in fairness Mo wasn't MARIANO at that point, though he'd been damn good in that series) with his closer, John Wetteland available. 1995 John Wetteland wasn't 2016 Zach Britton, but he was still one of the game's best relievers at that point and was certainly MUCH better than McDowell.

Anyway if you're a baseball fan you know what happens next: the Mariners win in one of the most famous endings ever and Showalter is ultimately fired, missing out on a chance to helm the Yankees' great late 90's dynasty teams. That Showalter essentially repeated the biggest mistake of his career 21 years later is actually pretty troubling in its own right.

In-game managerial decisions are somewhat overrated

But here's the kicker: None of this really matters. Even making all of the right calls is no guarantee of success. Nowhere close to it really.

That's because all of those 1/4 inches spread across all of those micro-moments that make up a baseball game, or inning, or at bat give us a range of potential developments to the game that are nearly infinite, and span approximately from Ubaldo throwing 9 shutout innings in relief to Britton giving up the same home run on his first pitch.

Any notion that Showalter should be fired ove Tuesday night's game is completely ridiculous, and can only come from someone with a lack of appreciation for what baseball is and what goes into building a successful team. Pitching changes make for great argument fodder on the radio, but MLB managers play an important role in talent evaluation and development, organization building and management, coordination with minor league coaches and instructors, strategic management of resources over MLB's uniquely challenging 162 game schedule, and dozens of other things fans never think or know about.

Showalter excels in these areas, and it's why he's built successful teams in so many different places, and why he even managed to turn the Baltimore franchise around in relatively little time. These are the factors that build 90 win teams,and the sorts of things you need to prize in a manager. Unlike in football or basketball, tactical management just isn't even that important to playoff success. Heck, Ned Yost has managed the American League team in back to back World Series and last year was opposed in the championship round by Terry Collins, and these guys are two of the absolute worst tacticians in baseball.

Joe Torre was a famously awful tactician who was borderline overruled at times by Don Zimmer when Zim was the bench coach for those Yankee championship teams. Torre's teams? Pretty good, you might remember.

The point is, making good in game decisions is important, but it's not that important compared to most of the other things managers are responsible for.

You always want to put your team in the best position they can be in, especially in the playoffs, and Buck failed in that task miserably in the 11th inning on Tuesday night. But baseball is a fickle game when played in short doses, and as great as October baseball is, it's not what teams go about designing rosters for. You need to find and appreciate the guys who can build and manage teams through that 162 game slog to get you in that position in the first place, because they're the ones who are few and far between and, ultimately, the one's who are going to have playoff success, if only because they're the only ones with the opportunity.

Because but for 1/4 inch, Zach Britton is pitching the 9th inning with a 3-2 lead, and all of this never happened.

Ain't baseball awesome?

KELLY
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only eight seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 32 of the 40 seats thus far, so 8 are still available.


JERRY'S
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Wednesday
October 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 5
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birds lose as bats, britton both remain silent


It's almost unfair for someone as beloved as Buck Showalter is in Baltimore to make that big of a mistake.

He'll never be fully forgiven for it, I suspect.

And, the truth of the matter of this: Buck's decision to not use Zach Britton in Tuesday night's season-ending wild card loss to the Blue Jays might not have cost the Orioles the game.

Hell, for all we know, Britton might have started the 11th inning and given up the game-winning homer right then and there. Likely? No. Possible? Of course. Anything's possible.

There were several factors connected to the Orioles loss on Tuesday, but no matter how many times Showalter defends his decision to not use Britton, reality and statistics say otherwise.

Ubaldo Jimenez was a terrible decision to enter the game with one out in the 11th inning after Brian Duensing recorded a strikeout to get things started in the 11th. How terrible? Like, 8.17 ERA terrible, which was what Jimenez posted as a relief pitcher during the regular season.

Yes, he had been very good for the O's in September, had Jimenez. As a starter, though. Not in relief.

Showalter will live with this simple statistic all winter, all spring and, honestly, maybe forever. He went with a guy with an 8.17 ERA over a guy with an 0.54 ERA.

All of Buck's early pitching moves worked out perfectly

There were folks around town who were puzzled at Buck's decision to go with Chris Tillman as Tuesday's starter.

Buck won that battle, as Tillman was decent-to-good until the Jays nicked him for a run in the 5th and Showalter hustled out there to bring in Mychal Givens.

Givens was beyond awesome in his 2.1 innings of work. Seven batters faced, seven retired. Showalter pulled the right strings there, too.

He'd give both Brad Brach and Darren O'Day a longer leash than most thought was sensible -- and both of those pitchers rewarded their manager with shutout pitching.

"Showalter always knows more than us," was a familiar cry on Twitter after O'Day got out of the 10th inning undamaged.

Not using Britton in the 9th? Odd, but understandable, perhaps. Remember, although we could spend 20-30 minutes looking up all of the extensive data on Toronto hitters vs. Baltimore pitchers, Buck and his staff have that information right there in dugout.

No Britton in the 10th? That seemed awfully strange given how good he had been and how dangerous a tie game is in that ballpark, where -- ahem -- one swing of the bat could end it.

But even then, O'Day's ability to get out of the inning unscathed left Buck smiling and left those of us watching bowing down in a sign of respect to the veteran manager.

"Buck's just a friggin' baseball genius," you might have thought to yourself as the teams headed to the 11th inning.

But to not start Britton in the 11th? A move Showalter will regret forever, it's easy to say now.

You deserve to lose when you only have four hits in 11 innings

Let's pause for a second to stop beating that dead horse and take our weapon of choice over to the Orioles offense and bloody that animal for a second.

Where in the actual hell was the offense on Tuesday night?

The Orioles recorded four hits.

All night.

You're not winning baseball playoff games with four lousy hits, none of which came after the sixth inning, you might remember.

Adam Jones, Michael Bourn, Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado had the Baltimore hits. Only three of those actually left the infield. Machado, who almost looked disinterested at the plate over the final three weeks of the season, managed to scratch out an infield hit, which is even more alarming when you consider he rarely runs out anything hit in the infield.

Four hits.

And that's how you lose in a one-game playoff.


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Oh, and let's not forget that Toronto manager John Gibbons actually helped -- or so we thought -- the Orioles put out their best lineup by opting to start right hander Marcus Stroman over lefty Francisco Liriano. But Hyun Soo Kim and Bourn didn't do much at the plate as it were, so maybe Gibbons won that battle despite our gut feeling telling us otherwise.

Showalter's other potential mistake in the 11th never got the chance to materialize after Edwin Encarnacion's game-winning homer landed somewhere near Buffalo.

Why wouldn't Buck have walked Encarnacion there, with runners on first and third, to face Joey Bautista? It would have loaded the bases, sure, but who cares at that point?

A few minutes after I asked that question on Twitter -- "Why not walk EE there and go after Bautista with Britton? Get a double play grounder and move on to the 12th." -- Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez was asking the same thing on the TBS post-game show.

Jimenez was clearly rattled, having allowed two straight hits, and Nolan Reimold didn't help matters by juggling a ball hit directly at him in left field that allowed - I think - the potential winning run to go from first to third. I say "I think" there because I never saw a conclusive replay that showed whether the runner was staying at 2nd all along until Reimold's bobble.

At that point, though, why not walk Encarncion, bring in Britton and go to work on Bautista?

Showalter stuck with Jimenez and one pitch later, the Orioles season was over.

And Baltimore erupted.

Is that why Showalter hasn't won a World Series?

Lots of folks immediately went with the hot-take that this -- having a good team fail to reach the World Series -- is precisely why Showalter is only a good manager and nothing more.

Yes, naturally, there were folks calling for Showalter's dismissal after the loss. You knew that was coming.

It was ugly on social media well into the wee hours of the morning. And will continue to be, I suppose.

Oh, yes, we should also at least mention here that Jimenez wasn't exactly Cy Young in the 11th inning. I guess that's the whole point in a nutshell about Buck's curious decision to go with him in the first place, but the players have to do their part too, and Jimenez didn't earn his paycheck last night.

Showalter, it should be mentioned, defended his decision in the post-game press conference, but if you stayed up to watch it, I think you saw the signs of a man who sorta-kinda knew he might have just made a colossal mistake and hadn't yet figured out how to admit to it.

He was calm as he explained his reasoning and defended his position with the normal Buck'isms -- "I trust our guys in that situation", "Ubaldo's been great for us in September", "That's an awfully good lineup they have over there and we did great to get it to the point that we did" -- but there was something in his face that I thought looked remarkably telling, even as he spewed those answers to the media gathered at Rogers Centre.

"I just lost a game in the 11th inning and the best pitcher in the league this season, with one of the best seasons ever recorded, statistically, watched the game from the bullpen," was what Showalter's face was saying to me.

I'm not a professional body language reader or anything, but that's what I saw.

Buck knew, then, what most of us were screaming about thirty minutes before.

Britton not pitching in the 10th or 11th inning was a huge blunder.

And who is to say Britton was only a one-inning guy in that situation? He might have been able to work through two innings. Who knows?

Lots of blame; Buck, Jimenez and the offense

Yes, the bats not doing anything all night -- except for Trumbo's homer -- was also a big reason why the Orioles are on the first tee today and the Blue Jays are flying into Dallas-Fort Worth Airport later this afternoon.

Machado? Nothing.

Jones? Nothing.

Davis? A bunch of strike outs, of course.

Schoop? Nothing.

Wieters? Hardly made contact.

You can't win with four lousy hits.

But that game will ALWAYS be remembered as the night Zach Britton sat in the bullpen with his 0.54 ERA while Ubaldo Jimenez served up a meatball to Encarnacion that Sabatino's would put on the menu.

Buck's a tough guy and he's been down this road before, but this is going to be a long winter for him.

Baltimore's a fairly forgiving town, so I suspect our overall love for him won't change all that much, but his status in Charm City was dented last night, for sure.

The season is over.

The best pitcher on the team never saw the field in a situation made perfectly for him.

And the manager let it happen.

KELLY
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help our friends at primary residential mortgage with their "feeding america" campaign


Our corporate partners at Primary Residential Mortgage are heading up a worthwhile endeavor and we here at #DMD are not only going to get involved, we're asking that you, too, lend your support if you can. Primary Residential Mortgage is heading up a campaign to provide financial support to Feeding America, a national organization that is working hard to stamp out hunger in our country.

Feeding America has 200 member food banks who work with 60,000 food assistance agencies, such as, food pantries and soup kitchens to provide over 3.7 billion pounds of donated food annually to those who struggle with hunger.

By raising funds for Feeding America, Primary Residential Mortgage is trying to do their part to help provide meals for the 48 million people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to help out and make sure no one is hungry, both in Baltimore and around the country.

#DMD is donating $100 to Primary's "Feeding America" campaign and we'd ask that you take a minute today to make any kind of donation you can to help this worthwhile organization.

It doesn't take much: A $1 donation will provide 11 meals for those facing hunger. A $5 donation will provide 55 meals! If you have $5 to spare, that would go a long way in helping those less fortunate enjoy their holiday season. Please go here to make your donation and help feed America

Chase Fitzgerald
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only eight seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 32 of the 40 seats thus far, so 8 are still available.


Tuesday
October 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 4
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fact is, both teams had better choices to start tonight’s wild game


FACT: At the beginning of the baseball season here at #DMD, I picked the following teams to make the post-season: Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, Kansas City (WC) and Texas (WC) in the American League. Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis (WC) and Arizona (WC) in the National League. I had Houston beating the Cubs in 7 games in the World Series.

OPINION: It’s looking like the Red Sox are just going to be too tough to beat in the American League. Porcello has finally figured it out, Price has a spotty post-season history but has been really good in the second half, and their offense is undeniably the most well-rounded in baseball. In the National League, I have a weird feeling this is the year the Dodgers finally make it to the World Series. They went more than two months without Clayton Kershaw and didn’t bat an eye. The Cubs? Just too much pressure on them. Give me Boston in six games over the Dodgers. Sure hope I’m wrong…

FACT: New England went 3-1 without Tom Brady, as the NFL conveniently gave them just one away game during Tommy’s four-game suspension.

OPINION: If their primary offensive players (Brady, Blount, Gronkowski and Edelman) stay healthy, no one’s beating the Patriots when the chips are down. They’ll go 13-3 or 12-4 or whatever they need to finish to get home ice in the AFC and then cruise to the Super Bowl, unless Pittsburgh can somehow match them TD-for-TD in January, which hasn’t happened before in the post-season.

FACT: Chris Tillman gets the start tonight for the O’s and Marcus Stroman is on the mound for the Blue Jays. Both, I assume, will be on a very short leash in the one-game wild card contest.

OPINION: Tillman isn’t a bad choice to start the game, but he hasn’t looked all that sharp since coming back off the disabled list. He hasn’t been awful, but his velocity is down and there’s not much movement on his fast ball. Seems the popular choice among the experts (fans) was Ubaldo Jimenez, who shut down Toronto last Thursday night, 4-0. Stroman, on the other hand, is a curious selection by John Gibbons as it almost guarantees that both Hyun Soo Kim (LF) and Michael Bourn (RF) are going to be in the lineup and Trumbo will DH. I think the lefty, Liriano, would have been a better choice for Toronto. But I’m not the manager…

FACT: The United States won the Ryder Cup, 17-11, on Sunday, which is a fairly large margin of victory in that 28-point format.

OPINION: If you think the 2016 U.S. team was stacked with talent, wait until you see the 2018 squad in France. Expect the likes of Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Bryson DeChambeau or Harris English to make the squad, plus perhaps someone like Kevin Chappell or Jamie Lovemark. Gone will be long-in-the-tooth campaigners like Kuchar, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, etc., and it will REALLY be a dogfight to make the next team. I’m telling you – Europe isn’t getting that fancy little trophy back anytime soon, watch and see.

X
Orioles closer Zach Britton had one of the best seasons in Major League history, going 47 for 47 in save opportunities with a 0.54 ERA. Will it be enough to win the A.L. Cy Young award?

FACT: Zach Britton finished the season going 47-for-47 in save opportunities and compiling an almost unthinkable 0.54 ERA. I believe I heard this stat on the radio Sunday afternoon – that he allowed just 14 balls to be hit out of the infield in 2016. If that’s correct, that’s amazing.

OPINION: As much as I think Britton is a viable candidate for the Cy Young award and should DEFINITELY receive votes, I think the sensible selection is going to be Rick Porcello of Boston. He went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and walked just 32 batters in 33 starts. His WHIP was 1.009. He had a terrific season. By the way, my pre-season pick in the A.L. for the Cy Young was – Chris Archer.

FACT: Manny Machado finished the regular season with 37 home runs, 96 RBI and a batting line of – .294/.343/.533. Prior to the season at #DMD, I said Machado would do the following in 2016: 38 HR, 97 RBI, .297/.367/.524

OPINION: Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while.

FACT: Maryland’s football team is 4-0 to the start the season under first year coach D.J. Durkin.

OPINION: I hear people saying the Terps are on the verge of possibly being ranked in the Top 25. If that’s true, college football has really taken a turn for the worse. Maryland in the Top 25? In football? No way…

FACT: I chose Clayton Kershaw to win the National League Cy Young award back in April, but missing 13 starts in the summer crushed his chances.

OPINION: Looks like Washington’s Max Scherzer is going to use that August and September run of his to earn the Cy Young in the N.L. He finished 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. His WAR (6.2) was higher than any other starter in the N.L. Yes, Jon Lester’s ERA was a half-run better (2.44) but Scherzer struck out 87 more batters than Lester.

FACT: There are now only three undefeated teams left in the NFL now that New England lost on Sunday. Minnesota (4-0), Denver (4-0) and Philadelphia (3-0) have perfect records intact thus far.

OPINION: Could it be a Minnesota-Philadelphia match-up in the NFC title game in three months? Sam Bradford against the team that gave up on him so they could gift-wrap the starting job to their college hotshot, Carson Wentz? That would be cool. Plenty of storylines to go around. By the way, I don’t see that happening. Someone else – Seattle, Green Bay? – will sneak in there and be the NFC’s Super Bowl representative.

FACT: I chose Manny Machado (A.L.) and Andrew McCutchen (N.L.) to win their respective MVP awards in 2016. Neither of those are going to happen.

OPINION: The American League award is going to Mike Trout, of course, who continues to dominate the game in a way we haven’t seen from someone in a long time. I’m assuming Nolan Arenado of Colorado is winning in the N.L. but I’d listen to your argument in support of Daniel Murphy of the Nationals.

FACT: Until those last two games in Toronto a week ago, the Birds looked all but defeated at Rogers Centre before the first pitch was even thrown. That 3-2 win over the Blue Jays last Wednesday night did something to their psyche.

OPINION: I’m calling a 7-4 Orioles win tonight in the wild card game. Home runs from Machado, Schoop and Alvarez (pinch hit) and 5.1 innings of decent work from Tillman (2 runs, 7 hits). On to Texas we go……..

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the best six and the worst six


Each week here at #DMD, we eschew the sports blogging ritual of ranking all 32 NFL teams because, honestly, who really cares who the 13th, 17th or 23rd best team is in the league?

So, here every Tuesday, we simply tell you who the BEST six are and who the WORST six are.

The Worst Six --

27. Indianapolis Colts -- Boy, how the mighty have fallen. The Colts are so bad, they lost to the Jaguars. Granted, the game was in England, not Jacksonville, but if you saw that game, you know just how bad the talent level is in Indy these days.

28. San Francisco 49’ers -- Remember how jacked up they were after that opening night blowout of the Rams? Well, I hope they have that game on VHS, because there won’t be many of those again in 2016. They are TERRIBLE. I assume Chip Kelly is tight with the owner – or at least I hope he is.

29. Chicago Bears -- I know they won a game, finally, but they’re still one of the four worst teams in the league. I’ll say it again this week. They won’t win five games all season.

30. San Diego Chargers -- They could be #31 actually. They’re now 1-3 but they’ve blown three leads in the fourth quarter against K.C., Indy and New Orleans. The loss on Sunday at home to the Saints was epic; in the fourth quarter, up by 13 points, they threw an interception AND fumbled the ball away with the game on their racket.

31. Tennessee Titans -- How on earth are they 1-3? Oh, that’s right. They played Indianapolis once already.

32. Cleveland Browns -- Laughably inept. I’m starting to think Charlie Brown could actually help them. I suspect they WILL beat someone this year, but looking at their schedule, I’m not sure who it’s going to be.


The Best Six --

6. Green Bay Packers -- I’ll keep buying stock in them until someone outside of the NFC North beats them. They’ll get a decent test from the visiting Giants this coming Sunday night. That will tell us something.

5. Philadelphia Eagles -- I guess they have to go in here at this point, right? I know they’re “only” 3-0, but they sure do look the part thus far, for sure.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers -- Yes, I’m aware Philadelphia is at #5 and Pittsburgh is at #4 and the Eagles demolished the Steelers two weeks ago. I saw what Pittsburgh – with Le’Veon Bell – did to Kansas City on Sunday night. They’re much better than they showed against Philly, as we saw against the Chiefs.

3. Denver Broncos -- I have no idea how they’re doing it, but Denver is 4-0 and curb stomping people in the process. Sure, prior to the season their first four games looked REALLY tough (Carolina, Indy, Cincy and Tampa Bay) and now, four weeks in, those four teams have as many wins combined (4) as Denver does (4). Still, though, they look awfully solid at this stage of the season.

2. Minnesota Vikings -- That defense. Holy schnikee. They've allowed just 50 points in four weeks and they've faced a couple of pretty good offenses (Green Bay, Giants). And it appears as if Sam Bradford is a cut above “game manager” status at this point. They might be a few spots too high here, but they’re 4-0 and they’re suffocating opposing offenses week in and week out.

1. New England -- Don’t let that loss with the JV quarterback at the helm fool you. The Patriots are still the best-of-the-best, as they’ll show starting next week when they smash the daylights out of the Browns in Cleveland in Tom Terrific’s return to action. That is, if he plays. Bill Belichick said on Monday he's not sure yet who will start on Sunday. Yeah, right, that's like The Doors saying they might not have let Jim Morrison back in the band if he would have re-surfaced in 1973.

KELLY
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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

Well, the Ravens' drive for 19-0 ended in ignominious fashion at the hand of Derek Carr and the Raiders who, for the second year in a row, beat the Ravens with the benefit of last second dramatics. Some semi-connected thoughts on the game:

If we're going to begin the conversation with the biggest factor in the game, then we need to have a serious conversation about the offensive coaching and game plan coming into this game, because it was completely indefensible.

To set the stage, the Ravens had both starters on the left side of the line injured and out of the game, and Khalil Mack lining up on the other side, and yet spent the entire first half playing as though their line was going to dominate the Oakland front.

When attempts to run into the teeth of the Raiders' front seven didn't work, they went to a bunch of dropback passes and the Raiders' pash rush absolutely pinned their ears back and teed off on Joe Flacco. It was an absolutely dreadful approach and, predictably, the Ravens didn't score a touchdown in the first half.

What they needed were screen passes on other means of getting the ball out on the edges and taking pressure off of the line to defend straight up but, as always, those plays were nowhere to be found. If you believe that coaching and gameplanning matters in the NFL (which it does), then the Radiers were 2/3 of the way to a win today before either team got to the stadium. I remember the Cam Cameron era vividly, and that's up there with any of his worst games for the worst offensive coaching job of the Harbaugh era.

It isn't just me who thinks that either, as Flacco himself called the slow start out as a reason for the loss, noting how hard it is to consistently need to perform to such a high level as an offense in the second half so often.

He's right, of course, and I'd like to simply use the starting quarterback as affirmation of my own observation, but in truth Flacco really needs to take a long, hard, look in the mirror before he starts throwing anyone else under the bus. Because for as much as my Twitter feed and various blog/Facebook comment sections want to put the blame for the underwhelming offense on coordinator Marc Trestman, it simply must be pointed out that what we're seeing now is NOT the offense Trestman has called previously in his career, including when he was running the whole show in Chicago.

It looks a whole lot like the offense we've seen the Ravens run ever since Harbaugh and Flacco came to town, with the possible exception of the one year Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator. That's not necessarily an indictment, by the way. The team has had a lot of success in that time period!

But if everyone is getting frustrated by the lack of offensive efficiency, we might as well note that what really kills the team's momentum is the constant string of inside tackle runs and deep balls against man coverage. The latter, especially, are becoming an even bigger problem than they've always been.

Yes, Flacco has the arm to out throw any coverage, but it's a tall order for any receiver to beat that coverage consistently when the other team knows exactly what's coming. And make no mistake, the opposing corner knows exactly what route they have to defend, because the Ravens quite literally don't throw any other route when they've identified that the defense is in man coverage.

It's all the more infuriating because John Harbaugh has surely watched lots of film of Mike Wallace torching opposing defenses on short crossing routes when he was in Pittsburgh, but here in Baltimore he's just running "9" routes against man coverage.

In terms of game management, on the other hand, Harbaugh had a bit of a mixed bag. His decision to go for two after the team's first touchdown put them at a deficit of just 14-12 was well received by me, but met with a lot of controversy from other corners.

I don't really want to litigate these things every time, but I will point out that the "don't go for two until you have to" argument suffers from a really obvious logical flaw. That is, if failing to convert proves that going for two is the wrong call, why you would want to wait until the very last possible opportunity to HAVE to convert a two point conversion makes very little sense.

If converting two is especially hard, it makes much more sense to go for it at the earliest possible chance, and give yourself more time to adjust to the situation otherwise. On the other hand, accepting an unnecessary roughness penalty on 3rd and short in the third quarter turned out to be a disastrous decision, as Oakland nearly converted on 3rd and 16, then got it when Terrell Suggs jumped offsides on 4th and short, en route to an Oakland touchdown that made the score 21-12.

In theory, there's a reason to decline the penalty there, as stopping Oakland entirely would have left you with the ability to kick a field goal to take the lead. Indeed, Harbaugh defended the decision after the game by declaring that he thought the game would come down to a field goal in the end.

There's just one problem with this thought process: Accepting the penalty pushed a potential field goal back to 47 yards (before any gains on third down), which is easily within Sebastian Janikowski's range. It was a head scratching move at the time, ended up being a huge factor in the final score, and without exaggeration might be the single worst in game decision Harbaugh has made in his tenure with the Ravens.

Defensively, the game was also a bit of a mixed bag. They were generally very good for most of the game, with a couple of touchdowns coming on short fields, but they didn't put any meaningful pressure on Derek Carr all game and ultimately coughed up a lead with less than 2 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

The takeaway here is that this is a defense built on getting after the quarterback, and if you can't get to someone like Carr you're going to have a tough time making stops when it matters. Predictably enough my Twitter feed wanted to blame Dean Pees for the game winning touchdown, but in actuality Shareece Wright bit hard on an out-and-up by Michael Crabtree, leaving the receiver wide open for an easy throw.

If he maintains his "soft" coverage, than Crabtree is double covered and Carr has to find somewhere else to go with the ball. Suffice to say, it's long been my point that you can't blame Pees for the fact that his secondary, especially his cornerbacks, just aren't very good, and if you want to find fault with the defense you need to start with the front office that just hasn't been able to build a very good group of corners in a league dominated by the passing game.

But for the most part, I thought the defense generally played well in context of the whole game.

Special teams was again hot and cold. The kicking game was great, Devin Hester broke off a big return, but the coverage game was rough, including one long punt return allowed that gave Oakland one of those short field touchdowns. It's nice to be able to execute in the kicking game to be sure, but the kick/punt coverage has been a real liability through a quarter of this season, so obviously needs to be a focus going forward.

On paper, there's some things to like in this game. The Ravens were competitive again, taking the game down to the last possession.

They finally got some semblance of a running game, with Terrance West getting the bulk of the action and going for over 100 yards.

Someone other than Joe Flacco or Mike Wallace scored a touchdown!

But in the end, that disastrous first half was just too much to overcome, and the problems with the offensive rhythm continue.

What this game shows you is that that's going to be a major liability when you stop playing Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Cleveland, and starting playing real playoff contenders with good quarterbacks who can make plays of their own.

3-1 is still good positioning for over the quarter mark of an NFL season, though, so if this game and Flacco's postgame comments can provide the impetus for an adjustment to the offensive approach, the loss on Sunday could prove to be a major building block for the team going forward.

SECU
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help our friends at primary residential mortgage with their "feeding america" campaign


Our corporate partners at Primary Residential Mortgage are heading up a worthwhile endeavor and we here at #DMD are not only going to get involved, we're asking that you, too, lend your support if you can. Primary Residential Mortgage is heading up a campaign to provide financial support to Feeding America, a national organization that is working hard to stamp out hunger in our country.

Feeding America has 200 member food banks who work with 60,000 food assistance agencies, such as, food pantries and soup kitchens to provide over 3.7 billion pounds of donated food annually to those who struggle with hunger.

By raising funds for Feeding America, Primary Residential Mortgage is trying to do their part to help provide meals for the 48 million people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to help out and make sure no one is hungry, both in Baltimore and around the country.

#DMD is donating $100 to Primary's "Feeding America" campaign and we'd ask that you take a minute today to make any kind of donation you can to help this worthwhile organization.

It doesn't take much: A $1 donation will provide 11 meals for those facing hunger. A $5 donation will provide 55 meals! If you have $5 to spare, that would go a long way in helping those less fortunate enjoy their holiday season. Please go here to make your donation and help feed America


only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.


Monday
October 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 3
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two out of three ain’t bad, but that ravens loss was a bummer


OK, I’ll admit a couple of things.

First, if you would have told me before the day started I could swap a Ravens loss for an Orioles win and a U.S. Ryder Cup victory, I would have signed off on that in a heartbeat.

So, I got my wish there, you could say.

Second, I didn’t watch much of the Ravens game “live”, as I was glued to the events taking place at Hazeltine GC, where the American team finally put it all together on a Sunday and knocked off the Europeans in the Ryder Cup for just the third time in the last 11 meetings.

But I know what happened with the Ravens and how they went from a 27-21 lead with 3:36 to play – at home, no less – to losing to the Raiders, 28-27.

There were coaching blunders, defensive blunders and offensive blunders. And lots of penalties, none of which were on the coaches.

You get the message there? EVERYONE screwed up.

Oh, and Oakland isn't chopped liver anymore, either.

X
Two questionable decisions by John Harbaugh played a role in Baltimore's 28-27 loss to Oakland on Sunday.

John Harbaugh will get the bulk of the grief for a couple of his decisions, namely going for two points after cutting Oakland’s lead to 14-12 in the third quarter and taking a penalty in the 4th quarter that gave the Raiders a 3rd and 17 rather than forcing them into a 4th down situation that would have mandated a field goal attempt by Sebastian Janikowski.

As fate would have it, the Raiders would pick up 16 yards on the next play and then Baltimore's Brandon Williams jumped offsides on 4th and 1, gifting the visitors a huge first down.

Three plays later, Derek Carr threw his third touchdown of the afternoon to put Oakland up 21-12.

OK, so it was a bad call from Harbaugh on the 3rd and 1 situation where Oakland was penalized 16 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. You decline the penalty there and the Raiders are facing a 42 yard field goal with a 14-12 lead. Or…you take the penalty, push them back to the 36 yard line, and if they don’t pick up the first down on the next play, Janikowski is kicking from somewhere around the 50, most likely.

But if the Ravens make a defensive stop on 3rd or 4th down, the Harbaugh gaffe doesn’t matter.

They couldn’t, though. In fact, they didn’t even get the chance to make a play on 4th down, because Williams jumped offsides.

The Ravens battled back though, and eventually took the lead at 27-21, only to see Carr drive the Raiders right down the field in the game’s final three minutes and put up a quick touchdown to go back ahead, 28-27.

Remember that 3rd quarter decision to go for two instead of take the near automatic one via a Justin Tucker extra point?

Right…that proved to be a major decision in the game.

Then again, as they did later in the game when Flacco and Wallace converted on a 2-point conversion, had the Ravens connected on that 2-point attempt after making the score 14-12, the home team wins by one – potentially – instead of losing by one.

It always comes down to “plays made” in games like that. Who makes the big play at the critical moment or two? On Sunday, it was mostly the Raiders who made them or, in some cases, the Ravens who didn’t.

On the game's final drive, Flacco hit rookie wide receiver Chris Moore right in the hands at the Oakland 40, but he dropped the ball. That was a killer mistake at the worst possible moment. Two plays later, the game was over.

There were lots of other factors involved in the outcome, namely the woeful performance from a makeshift Baltimore offensive line and a whopping 105 yards in penalties accrued by the Ravens.

Look, you CAN win a game when you get penalized for 105 yards, but you probably SHOULDN’T win when that happens.

Alas, the Ravens didn’t win on Sunday, partly because their inexperienced offensive line kept drawing penalty flags while trying to keep Joe Flacco upright.

In all fairness, the Ravens probably deserve to be 3-1 at this point given the gift-wrapped-by-the-refs victory in Cleveland they were handed two weeks ago. They were better than Buffalo and better than Jacksonville…but the Browns probably outplayed them a tad on September 18 and still managed to lose.

So, if you believe in the whole “you are what your record says you are”, then the Ravens are a 3-1 football that SHOULD be a 3-1 football team.

They lost to what appears to be a pretty decent Oakland squad who can definitely put some yards and points up, and they fell by the narrowest of margins with a woeful offensive line and a couple of coaching blunders that weren’t helped by fundamental breakdowns from players who should know better.

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around the nfl in 30 seconds


Buffalo 16 – New England 0 -- I can’t wait until Brady and the Patriots go to Buffalo later this season and win by 24.

Washington 31 – Cleveland 20 -- 0-4 for the Browns. I’d say the “0-16 watch” is officially underway.

Seattle 27 – New York Jets 17 -- Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 9 interceptions in the last two weeks. And people in Baltimore think Flacco stinks.

Jacksonville 30 – Indianapolis 27 -- The Chuck Pagano-era has to be coming to an end soon, right? They lost to the Jaguars…

Houston 27 – Tennessee 20 -- I guess the Texans can win a game without J.J. Watt. I wasn’t sure they could.

Atlanta 48 – Carolina 33 -- One of my Super Bowl picks is already done, four weeks into the season. That Panthers defense is woeful.

Chicago 17 – Detroit 14 -- One of Chicago’s four wins for the season. Can’t believe the Lions couldn’t figure out a way.

Los Angeles 17 – Arizona 13 -- I refuse to believe a Jeff Fisher-coached team is for real, even though they’re 3-1. So, I won’t.

Dallas 24 – San Francisco 17 -- Tony Romo getting Wally Pipp’ed by Dak Prescott is pretty hilarious.

New Orleans 35 – San Diego 34 -- Chargers led 34-21 with seven minutes left and lost. And Philip Rivers’ head blew off afterwards.

Pittsburgh 43 - Kansas City 14 -- I guess Le'Veon Bell does make a difference, huh?


”show me the money” – week #4


Well, we have one of those weekends once or twice a year.

I said in yesterday’s edition of #DMD that I didn’t feel particularly good about any of the games I selected.

I was right on that note, for sure.

I went 2-4 yesterday to fall to 11-13 on the season, winning with Buffalo and Atlanta and losing on the Ravens, Browns, Buccaneers and Jets.

I did manage to connect on the “Best Bet”, though, as I had Buffalo covering (+7) over the Patriots.

It’s on to next week.

Better days are ahead. I hope.

KELLY
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saturday loss cost o’s a home game, but they’re still alive and headed to toronto

The Orioles will face the Blue Jays in Toronto on Tuesday in a one-game wild card contest to see which team draws the Texas Rangers in the American League Divisional Series.

Baltimore got there in Game 162 by virtue of a 5-2 win at Yankee Stadium, while Toronto secured the home game and their spot in the post-season with a tense 2-1 win at Fenway Park.

The Orioles finished the season tied with the Blue Jays at 89-73, but Toronto hosts the wild card game by virtue of their 10-9 season series win over the Birds.

One game…one win…meant the difference between playing in Baltimore on Tuesday and playing in Canada on Tuesday.

X
When the Orioles desperately needed a quality start from Kevin Gausman, they got it on Sunday in New York, as the O's are headed back to the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.

There are literally a dozen games the Orioles gave away during the season and, likewise, a dozen the other team(s) gave away to the O’s, but Saturday night’s squander-job in New York is the one that haunts the Birds the most.

Ahead 3-0 in the fifth, the O’s gave away the lead in the 7th and then saw the Yankees score four times in the 8th to put the game away and leave the Birds needing help from the Red Sox on Sunday.

It didn’t happen.

And, so, the O’s will head to Toronto for a one-game, winner-take-all battle with the team that has now become perhaps their most heated rival.

The good news? The Birds just took two of three from the Blue Jays in Toronto last week. They know they can win at Rogers Centre.

The bad news? I’m not sure there is any, actually. Would you prefer to play at home? Of course. But I like our chances on Tuesday.

The Orioles are fully capable of winning 9-5 there tomorrow night, with three home runs and a shutdown start from Ubaldo Jimenez or Chris Tillman, one of whom will get the nod from Buck Showalter sometime today.

I can say this for certain: I wouldn’t bet Tuesday’s game, either way. It’s that much of a toss-up.

I’m not sure I fancy the O’s chances against the Rangers -- if they get that far -- but I’d like to give it a go nonetheless.

LYNCH
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u.s. young guns lead 17-11 ryder cup victory


About a year or so ago, for reasons I don’t even remember, I authored a piece here at #DMD where I predicted the Ryder Cup dominance of the European team was going to be coming to an end soon.

”We have a bunch of young bombers who are going to be part of a dominant run for the U.S. team,” I opined at the time.

Let the dominance begin.

The United States ended eight years of frustration yesterday at Hazeltine GC by pouring it on in the singles competition, winning the Ryder Cup, 17-11, behind a sensational performance from Patrick Reed and magical golf from the likes of Phil Mickelson, Ryan Moore and Brandt Snedeker.

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A 3-0 record in the Ryder Cup showed Brandt Snedeker can indeed play on golf's biggest stage.

Mickelson actually shot 63 and didn’t even win a full point, as he was halved by Sergio Garcia, who birdied the last four holes for the European side.

Reed and McIlroy produced golf’s version of a heavyweight fight, with each guy throwing haymakers in the opening nine holes. It was almost too crazy and too good from the two of them, each guy making birdie, screaming at the top of their lungs and gesturing at the crowd as if to say, “If you want more, we’ll give you more.”

Predictably, the two couldn’t keep up that kind of pace and McIlroy even admitted afterwards that all the hootin’ and hollerin’ might have actually zapped some golfing energy out of him.

It was a birdie-fest for all 24 players right from the start, as the PGA of America set up the course like it was a layout for a Pro-Am.

Pins were inexplicably stuck in easy, middle-of-the-green locations and the two teams feasted on the benign set-up, which was already semi-easy based on the U.S. team’s decision to cut the rough down to 1.5” in most areas just off the fairway.

Whatever the case, it was a Ryder Cup won by United States side rather than lost by the European team.

In past years, Europe won because they putted better.

This time around, it was the Americans who rolled in more putts, starting with Reed, who made 24 of 26 putts from four-to-ten-feet over the three days, 14 of them for birdie or eagle.

Every American player scored at least one point over the three days, and a couple of key team partnerships were birthed, including Reed and Jordan Spieth, plus Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.

The Europeans were no slouch, mind you, but they went to the well with six guys (McIlroy, Pieters, Garcia, Cabrera Bello, Stenson and Rose) and their other six were essentially no-shows.

A 17-11 margin of victory is a pretty sound beating, but the Cup might have been won by virtue of the respective captain's picks that were made last month.

The American add-ons, J.B. Holmes, Ryan Moore, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler, all factored in several wins, while two of the three on the European side (they have 9 automatic qualifiers), Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer, were dismal. Only Thomas Pieters' fine play saved Darren Clarke from a complete raking-over-the-coals by the European media, but he'll probably get toasted anyway based on the performances of Westwood and Kaymer.

Here's the player-by-player report card for the 41st Ryder Cup:

UNITED STATES --

Patrick Reed (A), Nothing else can be said. It was one of the greatest Ryder Cup performances by a U.S. player, ever.

Brandt Snedeker (A), 3 matches, 3 wins. Brought a hot putter to Hazeltine, which is all Davis Love III wanted out of him.

Phil Mickelson (B+), Under heavy pressure, Mickelson played his best Ryder Cup ever.

Brooks Koepka (B), Looked a little overwhelmed on Friday, but was really good in his singles win over Danny Willett.

Rickie Fowler (B), Didn't play great on Sunday, but still beat one of the world's best (Rose) for a big singles point.

J.B. Holmes (B), Ran into the red-hot Thomas Pieters on Sunday, but was a solid better-ball partner with Moore.

Ryan Moore (B), Putted misbehaved a bit on Friday and Saturday, but had a huge win on Sunday.

Jordan Spieth (B-), Lost his golf swing on Saturday, but was solid on Friday and hung tough against Stenson on Sunday.

Matt Kuchar (B-), Won a big match with Mickelson, but other than that he was just OK.

Jimmy Walker (C), Love III got out of him about what was expected. Solid play, but nothing dominant.

Zach Johnson (C), He and Jimmy Walker scored a big Friday morning win and he beat an overmatched Fitzpatrick in the singles.

Dustin Johnson (C), Saved by his singles win. Just doesn't seem like the Ryder Cup gets him excited.


EUROPE --

Rory McIlroy (A), Nearly single-handedly kept Europe in it for three days with spectacular, all-world play.

Thomas Pieters (A), They've found themselves a new star, it would appear. What a player...

Sergio Garcia (B+), For a guy who supposedly can't putt, he sure rolled in his fair share over the weekend.

Rafael Cabrera Bello (B), Like Pieters, a new name to watch for years to come.

Henrik Stenson (B), Their version of Dustin Johnson; just doesn't look like the event suits him.

Justin Rose (C+), Expected a lot more out of him. Looked fatigued in his loss to Fowler.

Lee Westwood (C-), The short misses on Saturday hurt him, but came back to play well on Sunday.

Chris Wood (C-), He wasn't terrible by any means. Fought DJ hard in the singles on Sunday.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (C-), Showed some positive signs, but was in a little too deep it appeared.

Martin Kaymer (D), Don't let his singles win over Kuchar fool you, he was dreadful all three days.

Andy Sullivan (D), He'll be heard from again, but this wasn't a memorable debut for him.

Danny Willett (D), Never recovered from his brother's stupid comments mid-week. Better than he showed.


Top Five Players Overall--

1. Reed -- Incredible.

2. McIlroy -- As tough as they come.

3. Pieters -- Remarkably impressive.

4. Mickelson -- Showed he can still do it.

5. Garcia -- Showed up, big time.

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only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.



Sunday
October 2
#DMD GAME DAY

week four

Volume XXVII
Issue 2
Oakland Raiders (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (3-0)

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: Ravens -3

In what should be their toughest test to date, the undefeated Ravens (3-0) welcome the high-powered Oakland Raiders (2-1) to Baltimore today with a chance to take a giant step towards the post-season with a victory.

Since 1995, 92% of the teams who started the season 4-0 went on to make the playoffs.

I like those kind of numbers.

And while the schedule so far has been soft – to say the least – the goal of every team is to reach at least 10 wins, if not 11 or more. Any way you get to 10 is acceptable. You take the wins when they come.

The Oakland offense vs. the Baltimore defense is the key story today, as the Ravens look to quiet Derek Carr and Company. The Raiders have scored 80 points in three games thus far, while the Baltimore defense has surrendered just 44 points in 2016.

X
Can Mike Wallace continue his fine early season play against a weak Oakland secondary today in Baltimore?

On the flip side, the Ravens offense hasn’t been all that good, but neither has the Raiders defense, as they’ve allowed 79 points in three games.

It’s going to come down to which defense steps up today.

Both offenses have a reasonable chance of shining, but one of the two teams will need to play a little defense in order to come out on top.

Can the Ravens quiet Carr and his plethora of receiving options?

Can Oakland defend Flacco and Company and not allow the Baltimore running game to establish itself at the same time?

It will come down to defense, I think. And based on that, I like the chances for a fourth straight win for John Harbaugh’s team.


”show me the money” in week #4


This is a weird weekend in the NFL. Lots of “could go either way games”, which is the way the league – and the bookmakers – prefer it.

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many games where I could make a case for both teams.

So, without much confidence, admittedly, here are my six picks for today.

First, though, the standings through three weeks:

RECORD TO DATE: 9-9

LAST WEEK’S RECORD: 3-3

RAVENS ONLY: 1-2

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 1-2

And now, my picks:

Cleveland at Washington (-7.5) -- I know this is a mistake, involving the Redskins after two weeks in a row of getting them wrong. For some weird reason, I think the Browns are going to hang around in this one. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if they won, mainly because they have to win sometime and this seems like the perfect time for the Redskins to lose after winning in NY last week. I’ll go ahead and do it – let’s go with Cleveland to win outright in a stunner, 24-23.

Seattle at New York Jets (-1.5) -- The Seahawks return to the scene of their Super Bowl romp over the Broncos, which might give them the warm and fuzzies when they step on the field, but won’t do much for their chances once the game kicks off. We all know the history of West Coast teams coming East; it’s not good. And it won’t help the ‘Hawks today, as the Jets win at home, 21-19.

Buffalo at New England (-7.0) -- Rex Ryan isn’t one-fifth the coach of Bill Belichick, but Ryan’s record against the Patriots isn’t awful. With New England’s quarterback situation still unsettled, this sets up well for a Buffalo challenge this afternoon at Gillette Stadium. I don’t see Buffalo winning, but I think the Bills keep it close and cover, barely, as New England wins a tight one 23-17.

Carolina at Atlanta (+3.0) -- OK, I’m going to do something very dumb here and buy stock in the Falcons. This sets up as a huge game for both teams, with the Panthers now at 1-2 and the Falcons at 2-1. Is Atlanta for real? Is Carolina having one of those post-Super Bowl toe-stubs? We’ll see today, but I’m taking the home team and those three points. I’ll take Atlanta outright in this one on a last second field goal, 27-24.

Denver at Tampa Bay (+3.0) -- Another home team getting three points, although this one is easier to call than the game above. Tampa Bay just got romped at home by Los Angeles, while Denver went into Cincinnati and pulled off a win over the Bengals. It’s turn-around time this week, as the Bucs get back on the winning track, 20-16.

Oakland at Baltimore (-3.0) -- I’ll make this one simple. I’m going with the West Coast-team-traveling-East theory here. Nothing more, nothing less. Oakland’s not flying across the country and beating the Ravens. Let’s take the Ravens, 33-24.

Best Bet of The Day -- I don’t feel all that great about any of these games today, frankly, but if I have to take one as my “Best Bet”, I’ll go with Buffalo to cover the 7-points in New England.

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o’s give one away, but get help from braves and a's


Over the course of a 162-game baseball season, there are bad losses – and then there are bad losses.

And, occasionally, there are BAD losses, in all caps, symbolic of a loss that could wind up being memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Saturday at Yankee Stadium, for the Orioles, was a BAD loss.

Facing a Yankees team playing for nothing except not-to-get-hurt, the Orioles squandered a 3-0 fifth inning lead and lost, 7-3, putting them on the brink of failing to qualify for an American League wild card berth if things don’t right in today’s season finale in the Bronx.

Everyone around town is blaming Buck Showalter for allowing starting pitcher Wade Miley to come out for the top of the 7th with a 3-2 lead.

Miley gave up a game-tying home run to some guy named Tyler Austin and the 3-0 lead was a thing of the past.

Some folks are pointing to the top half of that inning when the team’s MVP -- Manny Machado, officially -- committed yet another base running blunder and was tagged out at 3rd base after a Mark Trumbo single would have put 90 feet away from an important insurance run.

Brad Brach and Oliver Drake didn’t help matters either, as they surrendered four runs (all charged to Brach) in the bottom half of the 8th inning.

There was lots of blame to go around, that’s for sure, as the O's now face three post-season options heading into today's game with the Yankees.

They are guaranteed at least a 163rd game -- of some sort -- but a win today for the Orioles would send them into the wild card game later this coming week.

The Orioles and Blue Jays currently have identical 88-73 records. Detroit, a 5-3 loser in Atlanta on Saturday night, sits at 86-74. The Mariners were eliminated last night when they lost at home to Oakland, 9-8 in 10 innings.

If the Orioles and Blue Jays both win today, Toronto will host the wild card game on Tuesday.

That's the simplest of the playoff equations.

There still remains a possibility that Baltimore, Toronto and Detroit could all finish with identical 88-74 records and then a crazy situation would unfold that we'll explain if/when that actually occurs.

If the Orioles lose today, Toronto wins, and Detroit wins, the Tigers will have to play a Monday home make-up game vs. Cleveland. Should they win that game, the Orioles would host a one-game "play-in" game against the Tigers for the 2nd wild card spot, then travel to Toronto later in the week for the one-game wild game.

So, do you see how much that loss on Saturday affects things?

Then again, Toronto can say the same thing, having blown two ninth inning leads earlier in the week against the Yankees and Orioles.

It all comes down to game 162 for the Orioles, with Kevin Gausman on the mound in New York.

Win -- and they're in.

I like their chances today. A lot.

KELLY
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three point lead far from safe for u.s. ryder cup team


After jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the 41st Ryder Cup, the U.S. team was on the verge of giving it all back until Patrick Reed and Lee Westwood got busy late Saturday afternoon at Hazeltine GC in Chaska, Minnesota.

Thanks to Reed’s heroics and Westwood’s remarkably poor putting, the Americans almost have that 4-point lead intact heading into Sunday’s singles, as they own a 9.5-6.5 advantage with 12 points still remaining to be claimed today.

Reed effectively beat the dynamic European duo of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose on his own, making six birdies and an eagle, while partner Jordan Spieth hit it all over the planet and was hardly a factor in the afternoon better-ball match.

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The MVP of the Ryder Cup so far? Not even close. It's Patrick Reed of the U.S. side.

Those two coughed up a 4-up lead with six to play earlier in the day in the alternate-shot format, but captain Davis Love III rolled the dice that they would acquit themselves in the afternoon – and Reed did, at least.

He made putt after putt and even holed out for eagle from 79 yards for good measure, all while trying to follow one of Spieth’s wayward drives with one of his own in the fairway.

It was as bad as Spieth has played in a few months, but it didn’t rival what happened to Lee Westwood down the stretch.

Playing with Danny Willett and trying to thwart another one-sided duo of J.B. Holmes (solid) and Ryan Moore (not solid), Westwood made a handful of lengthy birdie putts early in the round, then stumbled down the stretch and missed three putts within five feet, including a 33 inch birdie putt at the 18th hole that would have given the European’s a critical half point.

There’s a huge difference between 9-7 and 9.5-6.5, and that’s what Westwood’s gaffe at the 18th hole created for the Europeans, who are still alive in the event largely on the backs of Rory McIlroy, Thomas Pieters, Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera Bello.

The sub-story of the day, sadly, was the borderline-horrific behavior of the American crowd. One rowdy patron was kicked out for yelling an obscenity at Rory McIlroy, another was confronted by Justin Rose on the 12th tee, and some complete moron yelled “NOONAN!” in Westwood’s putting stroke on his pivotal 18th green miss.

The golf was simply too great on Saturday to excuse or allow people to disrupt the players with bad behavior WHILE THEY ARE TRYING TO PLAY.

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Showing the form that earned him the TOUR Championship last weekend, Rory McIlroy partnered with Thomas Pieters and went 3-0 with him in this year's Ryder Cup.

Shouting, cheering, etc., in between shots, as players are leaving the green, etc., is part-and-parcel of the event. But nowhere in golf should fans (of either team) yell something/anything while a player is making his swing.

Not only is it bush league, it served to fuel players like McIlroy, who clearly played better on Friday and Saturday when the fans lit him up.

”It was vulgar at times,” McIlroy said afterwards. “It was always going to be rough out there, we knew that, but the yelling and things that were said while we were trying to play was a little much.”

”The more they yelled, the better I played,” Rory continued. “It fueled me, for sure.”

Whether it’s simply American golf fans not having the brains to be even semi-respectable or just a by-product of too much booze, it’s a shame a wonderful event like the Ryder Cup has to be tarnished like that. The players – all of them – deserve better.

At the end of the two days, though, the Americans have played better golf, by the slimmest of margins, and own a nice but not-very-secure 3-point lead heading into today’s singles.

The U.S. needs five points out of the twelve matches today in order to win the Cup for the first time since 2008. Seems easy enough, right?

I predicted a 16.5-11.5 U.S. victory before this event started and I’ll stick with that now. Dustin Johnson secures the winning point for the American side on the 17th hole.

Here are today’s singles matches along with the predicted outcomes:

Match #1 – Patrick Reed vs. Rory McIlroy (Reed wins, 3&2)

Match #2 – Jordan Spieth vs. Henrik Stenson (Stenson wins, 5&4)

Match #3 – J.B. Holmes vs. Thomas Pieters (Pieters wins, 1-up)

Match #4 – Rickie Fowler vs. Justin Rose (Fowler wins, 2&1)

Match #5 – Jimmy Walker vs. Rafael Cabrera Bello (Walker wins, 4&2)

Match #6 – Phil Mickelson vs. Sergio Garcia (match is halved)

Match #7 – Ryan Moore vs. Lee Westwood (Westwood wins, 2-up)

Match #8 – Brandt Snedeker vs. Andy Sullivan (Snedeker wins, 5&4)

Match #9 – Dustin Johnson vs. Chris Wood (Johnson wins 2&1)

Match #10 – Brooks Koepka vs. Danny Willett (Willett wins, 4&2)

Match #11 – Matt Kuchar vs. Martin Kaymer (match is halved)

Match #12 – Zach Johnson vs. Matthew Fitzpatrick (Johnson wins, 3&2)

U.S. wins the Ryder Cup, 16.5-11.5

STECCO
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only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.



Saturday
October 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 1
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it's okay to say "thank you" to david ortiz


Come Sunday night -- assuming these games today and tomorrow wind up getting played -- when the Orioles finish off a weekend sweep of the Yankees and claim the top wild card spot in the American League, there will be plenty of folks to thank.

Hyun Soo Kim.

Ubaldo Jimenez.

Mark Trumbo.

And David Ortiz.

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You probably didn't think you'd be sending this guy a Christmas card, did you?

Someone else might do something special for the Birds over the next two games to earn a spot on that list, but come Sunday night, you best be writing sincere thank you cards to those four.

"Wait, Drew...what's Ortiz have to do with it?" you ask.

He was a one-man wrecking crew of the Blue Jays last night in Boston, as the Red Sox did what the Orioles needed them to do -- they beat Toronto, 5-3, to push the Orioles one game ahead of their Canadian rival in the race for the top wild card spot and the home game next Tuesday in Baltimore.

Big Papi had an early RBI single and then a 7th inning two-run homer that proved to be the difference in the game and send the reeling Blue Jays to their 3rd straight loss.

Looks like Baltimore -- not Toronto -- will be the site of next Tuesday's one-game wild card contest.

And there's more good news about that wild card game.

If you didn't buy your tickets late this week when they went on sale, don't fret it. The game didn't sell out. So, hit that website, get out your credit card, and scoop them up today and tomorrow.

There's still the business of getting past these last two games for the Orioles, but if last night's 8-1 shellacking of the listless Yankees is any indication, that's just about a mere formality at this part. Joe Girardi's team looked as interested in winning last night's game as Trump would be interested in taking a Diversity class at the local university.

The weather didn't help the Yankees. Not only are they "playing for nothing" at this point after a spirited effort over the last 40 games to make the post-season, but they had to endure a meaningless game in a damp, chilly rain that hung around the ballpark virtually all night.

The good news? It's probably going to be like that again this afternoon at 4 pm when the teams tee it up again at Yankee Stadium.

It's been a few weeks since the Orioles controlled their own destiny, so it will certainly be interesting to see how they react today with the wild card spot on "their racket" as they say in tennis when someone is serving for the match.

The O's have played with an obvious freedom since Kim's 2-run homer on Wednesday night all but saved their season. They dusted the Blue Jays the next night, 4-0, then cruised past the Yankees on Friday evening in a game that was also never close once the Birds took an early lead.

If they can keep that approach going for the last two games, they'll be hosting Toronto or Detroit (both with 73 losses now) or, perhaps, Seattle (74) next Tuesday.

How funny would it be to see Toronto completely fall apart and not even make the wild card game? I'd LOL at that one.

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u.s. squanders great chance on day one of the ryder cup


All of the pundits said the same thing on Friday evening.

"If you would have told the U.S. team they were going to lead 5-3 after day one of the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, they would have gladly taken it."

That might be true. But what if you told the team they would lead 4-0 after the morning foursomes? How would they feel about that 5-3 lead then?

The opening day of the 41st Ryder Cup featured some terrific golf and a couple of surprising results, and when the sun set last night in Minnesota, the U.S. had earned a narrow 2-point margin after day one, 5-3.

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In a surprising move, Captain Davis Love III is sitting Dustin Johnson in Saturday morning's alternate shot format. Johnson and Matt Kuchar went 1-1 on Friday, but the U.S. Open champ will take a seat on Saturday morning.

It was, quite clearly, a tale of two formats, and surprisingly, the results were flip-flopped from what previous Ryder Cups provided.

The U.S. has struggled in the alternate shot format for a long time, but they sure didn't struggle on Friday morning, as all four matches went to the Americans, including a surprising victory for Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson, who steamrolled Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, 4&2.

But the U.S. side couldn't sustain that momentum in the afternoon.

Ahead 4-0, the Americans could have almost made the event's result a foregone conclusion if they would have gone 3-1 in the afternoon better-ball matches, as that would have given them 7 of the necessary 14.5 points they would need for victory. Alas, it didn't go that way.

Europe rallied for a 3-1 win of their own, as Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose made 9 birdies in 14 holes to beat the American hotshot team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, 5&4. For those unsure of what Ryder Cup scoring is equivalent to in, say football, losing 5&4 is like getting beat 38-17. It's pretty much over at halftime.

Reed and Spieth didn't play poorly in the afternoon, and they're going back out again on Saturday morning in the fourth and final pairing of the alternate shot format, but they couldn't keep pace with 9 birdies in 14 holes.

The tide turned on two matches on Friday afternoon; the aforementioned stomping of Reed and Spieth and a poor performance from Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar, who were solid in the morning but unsteady in losing in the afternoon to Rory McIlroy and Thomas Pieters, 3&2.

Johnson, surprisingly, will not play in Saturday morning's alternate shot event, and Kuchar, along with Ryan Moore and J.B. Holmes will also watch from the sidelines.

Whether or not Captain Davis Love III intended all along to sit Johnson at least once is neither here nor there now, but it's somewhat surprising to tell the 2nd best American player to take a seat and let Rickie Fowler tee it up on Saturday morning.

There hasn't been much room for controversy this week, but Love inherited some second guessing late Friday evening when he released his pairings for Saturday morning and they didn't have Dustin Johnson in them.

Europe's captain, Darren Clarke, made good on his pre-event promise to have everyone playing by Saturday, as he'll send Ryder Cup rookies Matt Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood out on Saturday morning. Sitting for Europe will be Danny Willett, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood and Andy Sullivan. None of those four played well on Friday, with Westwood missing a couple of key putts and Sullivan looking somewhat out of place while partnered with McIlroy in a match they lost Mickelson and Fowler.

It's anyone's Ryder Cup now, but there for a while on Saturday, the Americans were poised to make it a run away. If only they could have produced the same kind of golf in the afternoon they were able to play on Friday morning.

Better yet, if only the Europeans would have stunk it up again in the afternoon.

But they didn't, and we have ourselves a dogfight, as expected.

I still like my initial prediction of a U.S. win, 16.5 to 11.5, but the U.S. will need to have at least 9.5 points after today to make that score possible, I'd say.

Saturday morning foursomes --

Match #1 -- Fowler/Mickelson (USA) vs. McIlroy/Pieters

Match #2 -- Snedeker/Koepka (USA) vs. Stenson/Fitzpatrick

Match #3 -- Walker/Z. Johnson (USA) vs. Rose/Wood

Match #4 -- Reed/Spieth (USA) vs. Garcia/Cabrera Bello

KELLY
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help our friends at primary residential mortgage with their "feeding america" campaign


Our corporate partners at Primary Residential Mortgage are heading up a worthwhile endeavor and we here at #DMD are not only going to get involved, we're asking that you, too, lend your support if you can. Primary Residential Mortgage is heading up a campaign to provide financial support to Feeding America, a national organization that is working hard to stamp out hunger in our country.

Feeding America has 200 member food banks who work with 60,000 food assistance agencies, such as, food pantries and soup kitchens to provide over 3.7 billion pounds of donated food annually to those who struggle with hunger.

By raising funds for Feeding America, Primary Residential Mortgage is trying to do their part to help provide meals for the 48 million people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

With the holiday season approaching, now is a great time to help out and make sure no one is hungry, both in Baltimore and around the country.

#DMD is donating $100 to Primary's "Feeding America" campaign and we'd ask that you take a minute today to make any kind of donation you can to help this worthwhile organization.

It doesn't take much: A $1 donation will provide 11 meals for those facing hunger. A $5 donation will provide 55 meals! If you have $5 to spare, that would go a long way in helping those less fortunate enjoy their holiday season. Please go here to make your donation and help feed America


only ten seats remain on our
“ravens/jets bus”
on october 23


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

And we want YOU and your friends to come along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: We have sold 30 of the 40 seats thus far, so 10 are still available.



please click here to see previous issues of #dmd.

RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

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

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

breakfast bytes

A.L. East: Yankees give up two runs in bottom of the 9th, lose to White Sox, 4-3.

Red Sox move into first place with 9-2 win over Minnesota; Rays win 4-2 at Pittsburgh.

NBA: Phil Jackson/Knicks to part ways today.

Nationals steal team-record 7 bases off of Arrieta/Montero as Cubs lose in D.C., 6-1.