Tuesday
November 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 15
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orioles in a jam with trumbo


This one falls under the category of "be careful what you wish for".

For the second time in the last three years, the Orioles are in a tough situation with a reclamation project of sorts, one who came to the team on borrowed time, performed above expectations, and now will be wanted by a host of other clubs in Major League Baseball.

It happened with Nelson Cruz in 2014 and now, after one season with the O's, it's happening again with Mark Trumbo.

Trumbo turned down his one-year qualifying offer of $17.2 million yesterday, officially kick-starting his free agent clock.

With the free money being thrown around the league for halfway-good players these days, expect Trumbo to really cash in with one of the many power-starved teams in the league. He's easily going to garner something in the $75-$90 million range from someone not afraid to give him a five year deal.

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Should the Orioles be worried that slugger Mark Trumbo could wind up in Boston or New York if they're not able to meet his multi-year contract demands?

I guess I'd also turn down $17.2 million if I thought $90 million might be on the table in a few weeks time.

What do the Orioles do now?

Should they get involved in the bidding process and try and keep Trumbo in Baltimore? 47 home runs is hard to replace. His defense in 2016 wasn't anything to write home about, but his power numbers were impressive, even considering that he tailed off significantly in the final 70 games of the regular season.

The Orioles can easily find someone else to play right field. And play it better than Trumbo, even.

But where are they getting that kind of offensive production in 2017? And please don't tell me it might come from Trey Mancini, the minor league hotshot who came up at the end of the regular season and enjoyed a dose of beginner's luck at the plate.

Mancini might very well be a bonafide big league hitter someday -- and I'd say chances are good he plays a lot in Baltimore in 2017 -- but he's not stepping in and hitting 40 home runs and producing 100 RBI next season. It's just not happening.

The Orioles are in a roster-makeup quandry these days. Every piece of relevant data tells the club they have to get more guys on base, more often. Home runs are nice, but as they saw in high-def last season, when the long ball goes silent, losses typically mount up.

Then again, "data" didn't help Buck Showalter on that memorable Tuesday night in Toronto when he left Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound to get chewed up by Edwin Encarnacion.

Sometimes, you go with the smart play. And, in this case, the "smart" move for the Birds might be to cough up the big bucks for Trumbo and keep the power-train rolling into 2017.

Maybe the Orioles should just stick with what they have, which is a team that hits a bunch of home runs and stays in virtually every game because of that fact.

Or, as the "data" suggests, perhaps the O's should seek better "hitters", get on base more as a team, and drive in runs simply by getting more guys to be productive at the plate, power be damned.

But they already played this game with Cruz a couple of winters ago and got burned, failing to make the designated hitter a reasonable enough offer after his one bang-up season in Baltimore.

And to think they could have Cruz for something in the $65 million range, if only they would have played hard at the negotiating table.

Will they give Trumbo the $75 million or more he's likely going to command?

Should they?

Those are the two pressing questions.

And they are different, complex questions indeed.

Which Mark Trumbo are they likely to see more of in the next 4-5 years if they DO sign him?

The one who was as productive as any power hitter in baseball in the first half of the season in 2016? The one who hit .288 with 28 homers in the first half (87 games)?

Or will they get the second half (72 games) Trumbo? The one who only managed to hit .214 with a .288 on-base percentage, to go with just 19 homers?

There's no way to predict that stuff, obviously, so you make your best bet, roll the dice, and hope they come up smiling at you.

But it's an expensive roll of the dice, for sure.

It's all muddied by the fact that the O's are going to need some big, big bucks in the not too distant future for three integral pieces of their current roster: Chris Tillman and Manny Machado will reach their free agent status after the 2018 campaign and Zach Britton will reach his after the 2019 season.

Oh, and there's also Jonathan Schoop. He's pretty good. But he won't require big bucks until after 2020.

And Adam Jones is a free agent after the 2018 season.

I'm not sure the Orioles think that far ahead, but they likely do in some way. So, giving Trumbo $75 million now might be taking away some of the money they'd hand over to Tillman later, for example.

What if Trumbo leaves Baltimore and goes to Boston or New York and clobbers 51 homers next season? Just like they did with Cruz, the Birds will be known as the team that did the repair work on a power hitter and then got him all dolled up nice and pretty for some other team to pay -- and enjoy.

But can they pay Trumbo and still forge ahead with their (apparent) plans to keep Machado, Tillman, Jones, Britton, et al?

We'll find out soon.

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the nfl's best six and worst six


The Worst Six --

27. Los Angeles Rams -- Hey, a win is a win, but beating the Jets 9-6 is almost always going to get you some ridicule and a spot on the "Worst Six" list, so here they are. How does Jeff Fisher keep a job year after year?

28. New York Jets -- Played the Rams on Sunday for the right to be #28 on the #DMD "Worst Six" list and lost, so here they are. I still can't get over that the Ravens went up there to NJ and lost to those bums.

29. Chicago Bears -- Went down to Tampa Bay and got blasted, 36-10. And Tampa Bay isn't any good, remember. And now Alshon Jeffrey is suspended for four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The hits just keep on comin'.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars -- They might, right now, be just as bad as San Fran or Cleveland. The cycle will continue this off-season in Florida. New coach, new staff, new philosophy...here we again.

31. San Francisco 49'ers -- Nearly won a game on Sunday at Arizona, but I think that says more about the Cardinals. Oddly, the 49'ers actually have a few good players, but they still can't get out of their own way. Maybe it's the coach.

32. Cleveland Browns -- How on earth did they even score a touchdown last Thursday in Baltimore? So, so bad. But there's hope. They play the Steelers this week, who suddenly can't beat anyone, either. Seriously -- the chase for 0-16 is officially "on" now. Look for San Diego to gift the Browns a win on December 24.


The Best Six --

6. Denver Broncos -- That was kind of a fluky win at New Orleans, but road victories are hard to come by in the NFL. And New Orleans came into the game playing well of late, so holding them to 23 points -- at home -- was fairly impressive.

5. Seattle Seahawks -- When you go into New England and beat them, with their full roster intact, you're moving up the #DMD "Best Six" ladder, and here they are. I still can't figure out how they scored six points against Arizona last month and then put up 31 on New England this past Sunday, but that's football. This team looks like they're hitting their stride at just the right time.

4. Kansas City Chiefs -- Coming back from 17-0 on the road at Carolina and winning? Only really good teams do that, I think. Don't look now, but K.C. has put together a pretty nice run over the last two seasons, particularly when you remember they started 1-5 a year ago and finished with ten straight wins. That means they've now won 17 of their last 19 regular season games, sports fans.

3. Oakland Raiders -- We'll get to see them in prime time next Monday night when the Raiders host Houston, but right now, they're as good as any team in the AFC other than, perhaps, New England. Can score points in bunches, but can they stop the other team? That's the big question.

2. Dallas Cowboys -- Make no mistake about it, they are hitting on all cylinders offensively right now. Doesn't the other shoe have to drop at some point soon, or is this the long-awaited Cowboys trip-to-the-Super-Bowl we've been fearing for a decade or more? Jerry Jones at the Super Bowl. Help us, Lord.

1. New England Patriots -- Yes, they're still here. I'm not allowing their first "real" loss of the season to knock them off their perch. Their defense, though, certainly looked a little suspect on Sunday night against Seattle. They're suddenly in a fight with Oakland and KC for the best overall record in the conference, though, and that COULD be important come mid-January.

KELLY
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u.s. soccer faces huge test tonight at costa rica


Tonight would be a perfect night to break a 9-game winless streak at Costa Rica for the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, who play game #2 of their 10-game World Cup qualifying series this evening at 9:05 pm.

On paper, this one doesn't look all that promising. Lifetime at Costa Rica, the U.S. has played nine times, with eight losses and one tie to show for their work.

But the U.S. has their backs against the wall, and it would be a big surprise if they don't come out fighting. They need at least a tie tonight, if not the full three points for a win, after losing at home to Mexico last Friday night, 2-1, in the kick-off match of their bid to qualify for World Cup 2018 in Russia.

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Five months removed from his high school prom, 18-year old American Christian Pulisic is expected to start again tonight for the U.S. as they take on Costa Rica in a critical World Cup qualifying game.

The top three teams from this CONCACAF 10-game series automatically qualify for WC 2018 and the fourth place finisher plays in another 2-game qualifier against a yet-to-be determined opponent for the right to play in Russia.

This one, tonight, is critcal for the Americans, who will be without goalkeeper Tim Howard, who suffered a groin injury in Friday's loss to Mexico and is out for the next four months.

That turns the netminding duties over to Brad Guzan, who was an integral part of the team's success in the first-stage of qualifying that ended earlier this past summer. He entered Friday's game late in the first half and played decently, but was the man in goal for Mexico's game-winner in the 89th minute.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann doesn't have many roster options available, so you can expect the same group that started on Friday to be back out there tonight. Defender Geoff Cameron, who missed Friday's game with a knee injury, could see limited duty tonight, but it's unlikely he sees the field. That means Matt Besler, who was a step behind throughout the 90 minutes vs. Mexico, will again be pressed into duty by the American side.

Klinsmann, disappointed with his midfield play on Friday, might opt to get Graham Zusi into the lineup, but who hits the bench? Michael Bradley? That would be deserved, but the two don't typically play the exact same position, with Zusi a tad more offensive minded. Fabian Johnson? He's coming off one of his best games ever on Friday vs. Mexico.

No matter who plays tonight, the Americans need at least a tie, if not a win.

They can ill afford to go pointless in their first two games, although it's safe to say they're facing two of the better teams right out of the gate in the qualifying process in both Mexico and Costa Rica.

This is a big one tonight at Costa Rica.

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Monday
November 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 14
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is it "playoffs or else" for john harbaugh?


During my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio last Friday, Glenn touched on the subject of the future of John Harbaugh, wondering what I thought Harbaugh had to do in 2016 to ensure he returns to coach the team in 2017.

"Making the playoffs would guarantee it," I told him. "I suppose perhaps an 8-8 record where they just fall short at the end of the season might earn him one more year, but I think John has to make the playoffs to guarantee he's returning."

OK, let's be mindful of the situation at hand regarding Harbaugh so we paint an accurate picture of the whole scene.

Harbaugh is under contract for 2017 -- the final year on his current deal -- so he already has secure employment through next season. If that employment is stripped from him, Steve Bisciotti will have to write Harbaugh a (roughly) $5 million going-away present, which sure beats the $18 million check he stroked to Brian Billick back in 2008, but a free check is a free check is a free check. No one likes writing them, including Bisciotti.

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They've had a wonderful owner-coach relationship, but Steve Bisciotti is a "results driven" individual and John Harbaugh might need to produce some results in 2016.

I've heard more than one person in the community tell me that anytime Bisciotti is asked about John's future in any kind of informal, private setting that he is always quick to use the "Well, you know, ten years with the same team is a long time" line as a way of soft-peddling his answer.

Ten years certainly hasn't been "too long" for Bill Belichick.

But there are exceptions to the rule, obviously.

And that "ten years is a long time" thing we hear quite a bit during coaching discussions is a bit of a silly statement.

Who, right now, is left from the Ravens team in 2013 that failed to make the playoffs one year after winning the Super Bowl?

Without even going to "Google", I'll take a crack at it myself, just for fun: Flacco, Yanda, Pitta, Suggs, Webb, Jimmy Smith, McLellan, Cox, Koch and Tucker.

Am I missing anyone? If so, they weren't key players on that Super Bowl team, that's for sure.

The point?

If Harbaugh's message IS getting stale with veterans, there are only a handful still around four full seasons later.

What's getting stale is losing.

If John Harbaugh's message is getting stale with guys who were added to the team in 2014, 2015 and 2016, perhaps the issue is more about the player and less about the coach.

John's coaching style was perfectly fine from 2008 through 2012. Oh, I know, I've heard it before: "Harbaugh only won because of Lewis and Reed", or, "Harbaugh won because his quarterback had the best four playoff games of any quarterback in recent history", and, "The team won in 2012 despite Harbaugh, not because of him".

Phooey on all of that.

Harbaugh was an integral part of the Super Bowl run, which started in 2008 when the team came within a late-hit out-of-bounds of advancing to the title game in his rookie coaching campaign.

But, as Snoop Dog said in the song, "Nuthin' but a G thang", back to the lecture at hand: Harbaugh's contract status.

There's no way Harbaugh will enter the 2017 season without some sort of extension to his deal. I assume Bisciotti is smart enough to know that it's simply "bad business" to have a lame-duck coach running the team next September.

That doesn't mean the owner has to hand over a three or four year extension after this season, but he'll at least have to give him two additional years or he'll be right back in the same situation this time next November.

And giving Harbaugh only one additional year -- while nice -- basically says to the coach, "You're on a year-by-year deal here...", and that's not very rewarding, particularly for a guy who helped rescue your franchise from a horrible situation back in 2008.

This isn't even a debate about whether or not Harbaugh deserves a multi-year extension. We can have that one, too.

This is more about the standard protocol in the league -- or any major sport -- that says you can't allow a coach to run the team in the final year of his deal. It just doesn't work. The unsettled situation isn't good for the players or the rest of the coaches, not to mention the head coach himself.

And if that protocol is followed by Bisciotti, which I have every reason to believe it will be, he's either going to give Harbaugh a contract extension after this season or the Ravens will be looking for a new coach.

I say it's "playoffs or bust" for the Ravens and Harbaugh.

If they make the post-season, which, right now, looks like a fairly decent bet as long as they beat Cincinnati, Miami and Philadelphia at home, Harbaugh will get a couple of additional years on his deal.

If they don't make the post-season, I think he's probably gone. That will mark three failed seasons in four years since winning the Super Bowl. There are plenty of excuses for that downfall, some of them having NOTHING at all to do with Harbaugh, but results are results and that's what coaches are judged on, mostly.

Don't buy the "ten years is a long time" stuff and all of that rhetoric about Harbaugh's message "getting stale".

This is about winning and losing. Nothing more.

If the Ravens don't have the right players on the roster, that's one thing.

If they have the right players on the roster and Harbaugh can't get them to play, that's another.

And if they DON'T have the talent on the roster to compete at a higher level, Bisciotti needs to look more deeply into that process.

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around the nfl in thirty seconds


Unlike any other sports league, the NFL is completely crazy. Com. Plete. Ly.

A month ago, Seattle scored six points in one of the worst games ever in the league, a 6-6 tie with Arizona that was dreadful to watch.

Last night, they went to New England and won, 31-24.

Nothing that happened yesterday matters next Sunday, that's for darn sure.

Here's what DID happen yesterday, in case you missed it.

TITANS 47 - PACKERS 25 -- I've been saying this for two decades now: The toughest thing to do in sports is to stop losing. Green Bay can't stop doing it. The Packers are now 4-5, losers of three straight, and were embarrassed in Nashville yesterday. Don't look now, but the Titans are coming.

REDSKINS 26 - VIKINGS 20 -- The Vikings also can't stop losing, they've now dropped four straight after starting 5-0. The Redskins might be legit, but they're not better than Dallas, that's for sure.

BUCCANEERS 36 - BEARS 10 -- This one tells us more about the Bears than the Bucs. Chicago is terrible, no one in the Windy City cares. Their baseball team is pretty good, you might have heard.

CHIEFS 20 - PANTHERS 17 -- A huge win for the Chiefs, who trailed early on 17-0. K.C. is now 8-2 and in great position to win the AFC West or make the playoffs, at the very least.

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Tommy's run to five rings might involve the Seahawks again, and last night in New England, Seattle reminded Brady they aren't to be taken lightly.

EAGLES 24 - FALCONS 15 -- This was a good game between two good teams. Not sure either of them have the horses to hang with the Cowboys (no pun intended) but they both look like they're "playoff caliber".

RAMS 9 - JETS 6 -- I'm sure John Harbaugh loves seeing that result from the Meadowlands. The Jets beat the Ravens, and three weeks later, lost at home to the Rams, who stink. The league is crazy.

BRONCOS 25 - SAINTS 23 -- The NFL wanted the extra-point to "mean something" and yesterday in New Orleans, it decided the game. The Saints tied the game at 23-23, then the PAT was blocked and returned by Denver for two points and a win. Wild finish...

TEXANS 24 - JAGUARS 21 -- Houston isn't very dangerous-looking, but they did what you're supposed to when you play a league bottom feeder. They won. Jacksonville is as bad as any team in the NFL right now.

DOLPHINS 31 - CHARGERS 24 -- Miami is suddenly winning and looking like they might be legit after capturing their fourth straight game. That loss sticks a fork in San Diego. They're done. They might even lose at Cleveland when they face the Browns later this season.

CARDINALS 23 - 49'ERS 20 -- Not sure how this one got so close at the end or what that says about the Cardinals, but a win is a win is a win. Arizona hits a FG at the buzzer to improve to 4-4-1 on the season.

COWBOYS 35 - STEELERS 30 -- Lots of folks around the country snickered last spring when Dallas selected Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th pick in the draft. They're not snickering now. Holy cow, Dallas is good. That offensive line is superb. The Steelers can't stop ANYONE. Trouble in Pittsburgh.

SEATTLE 31 - PATRIOTS 24 -- Sure, that might have been pass interference on Kam Chancellor on the game's final play last night. Who cares? The league wants it that way. That's New England's first "real" loss of the season, remember. BTW, that Russell Wilson kid for Seattle? Pretty daggone good.

KELLY
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show me the money, week #10


I'm back among the living now in my year-long "for entertainment purposes only" segment called "Show Me The Money", where I select six NFL games each week (including the Ravens) and give you my expert analysis in those games, against the spread.

I went 5-1 last weekend and stayed in the hunt for a money-making season with a 3-3 mark yesterday.

I hit on the Ravens (Thursday night), Dolphins (called the outright win there, too) and Redskins, and said Washington would win 27-20 and they wound up winning 26-20. I know, I know, you don't get extra points for hitting the score right on the button, but it's fun to be "that right".

I lost on New England, Green Bay and New Orleans. Oddly enough, the games I lost all featured Hall of Fame quarterbacks on the LOSING team.

My "Best Bet" game was also a loser, as I had the Saints beating Denver in that category.

SEASON TO DATE: 27-33

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-3

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 3-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 5-5

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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

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Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


Sunday
November 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 13
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another chance to gain some ground


I like this type of Sunday, the one where the Ravens can win simply by not playing.

While the Ravens rest today, the Steelers are home to the Dallas Cowboys, who, in case you haven't been paying attention, own a 7-1 record so far this season.

Pittsburgh could definitely lose today.

The Bengals don't play until tomorrow night when they visit the New York Giants, but that's another iffy game for Cincinnati (3-4-1), who still have to play the Ravens twice in the last seven weeks of the regular season.

If both the Steelers and Bengals lose, the Ravens are in the driver's seat in the AFC North. It's not the most comfortable of seats, mind you, but being 5-4 while others are 4-5 and 3-5-1 would certainly constitute "breathing room" at the very least.

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The Ravens get to do some good old-fashioned scoreboard watching today when the Steelers host the Cowboys at 4:25 pm.

Pittsburgh's second half schedule gets easier while the one facing the Ravens is definitely more difficult.

The Steelers have the Browns both home and away in their final six games, plus they host the Giants and Ravens.

They have remaining road games at Buffalo, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

It might all very well come down to that December 25th game in Pittsburgh between the Ravens and Steelers.

The Bengals are hanging in there, but they need some real help, and a bunch of wins, starting with tomorrow night's game at the Meadowlands, which is critical for Marvin Lewis' team if they want to return to the post-season.

Cincinnati has remaining home games with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Buffalo, plus road games at Houston, Baltimore and Cleveland.

Scoreboard watching is always fun when you already have a win in your pocket and your job is done, which is exactly the scenario in Charm City today after the Ravens knocked off the Browns, 28-7, on Thursday night.

And sitting around saying, "they're gonna win there, win there, lose there", etc. is also difficult, although in the NFL it's much easier to at least correctly predict who is actually going to win the game outright hours before kick-off.

Picking against the spread in the NFL? Very difficult.

Just saying, "I think the Ravens are beating the Browns tonight"? You could make a nice living if that was the only wagering game in town.

But, as we saw yesterday in college football, where the #2, #3 and #4 teams in the country each lost, even guessing the winners sometimes is difficult because the ball isn't round and it bounces in weird directions.

Let's hope it bounces weird for the Steelers and Bengals this weekend.

Yes, I know, the Ravens just need to "take care of their own business". I get that. But this is a season different than some others in recent history.

The Ravens need a little help this time around.

It doesn't hurt to ask for the Cowboys and Giants to pitch in and help out with wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

What's one of the great marketing lines of all time? Ask for the sale.

So, I will.

"Hey Cowboys and Giants -- how about helping us out today and on Monday night with a couple of wins?"

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show me the money, week #10


My week number ten already got off to a decent start when I took the Ravens (-10) on Thursday night and they delivered a 28-7 win in Baltimore.

That takes me to 25-30 and gives me a chance to get back to .500 on the year if I can do the improbable and sweep the five games you'll see below.

PACKERS AT TITANS (+2.5) -- OK, it's "stock buying" time, and I know the Packers have been reeling a bit of late, losing at home last Sunday to a pretty dismal Indy team, while the Titans look like they're very much an improved team sitting at 4-5 on the season. Green Bay starts a stretch of three straight road games today and, at 4-4, can't afford to fall farther behind the Lions and Vikings. I'm buying stock in Aaron Rodgers today. I don't think it will be a thing of beauty, but I'm taking the Packers to squeeze out a 25-21 win at Nashville.

VIKINGS AT REDSKINS (-1.5) -- The Redskins have been off for two weeks, having last played in London back on October 31st, while the Vikings are officially "reeling" at 5-3 after starting the campaign at 5-0. I'm buying stock in Washington today. I think their offense is better than that of the Vikings and they're a pretty decent home team these days. Give me the Redskins to win, 27-20.

BRONCOS AT SAINTS (-3.0) -- I don't know what to make of the Saints. Earlier in the season, they looked like a league bottom feeder that couldn't stop anyone. And the Broncos, even with some guy you've never heard of at quarterback, looked formidable again this season. But New Orleans can score. And the Broncos offense is suspect. I'm buying stock in Drew Brees today, at home, with a post-season spot now a potential reality for New Orleans if they can string together some wins down the stretch. Give me the Saints to win at home today, 28-20.

DOLPHINS AT CHARGERS (-4.5) -- Both of these teams are still on the outside-looking-in, playoffs wise, but a win for either today gives them hope. Miami (4-4) has rebounded from a terrible start to the campaign and can suddenly run the ball better than any team in the league, while the Chargers (4-5) are equal parts hot and cold and never a sure bet to do anything except frustrate their fans. I'm buying stock in Miami's running game today, as the Dolphins cover AND post a 24-23 win over the host Chargers.

SEAHAWKS AT PATRIOTS (-7.5) -- Not that the Patriots ever really need an opportunity to put their stamp on the league and show teams they're for real, but tonight at home vs. Seattle, they get that chance. The Seahawks will probably score some points this evening because New England will be in command throughout and Seattle will need to step on the gas. I'm buying stock in Tom Brady, as you might have thought. If Buffalo can go into Seattle and score 25 points, the Patriots can certainly score 35 in their own stadium. Let's go with the Patriots to win 37-27.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I'm not feeling all that warm and fuzzy about ANY of the five games above, honestly, and I'm kicking myself for not making the Ravens my "Best Bet" team this week since I knew they were going to clobber the Browns. I'll take the Saints, at home, giving Denver three points as my "Best Bet" this week.


SEASON TO DATE: 25-30

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 5-1

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 3-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 5-4

KELLY
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forget about the 4-letter network, just come here for the good stuff


Tough times down at College Park for D.J. Durkin and his Terps football team, who were throttled yesterday by Ohio State, 62-3.

That's Maryland's second straight smashing, as they fell 59-3 last Saturday in Ann Arbor to a Michigan team that scored just 13 points yesterday in a 14-13 loss at Iowa.

In fairness, the Buckeyes are on quite a heater since suffering their first loss of the season at Penn State a few weeks ago. They held off a spirited Northwestern team, 24-21 on October 30th, then posted consecutive 62-3 wins over Nebraska (and they are actually pretty good) and Maryland as Ohio State looks to climb back into the NCAA playoff picture.

Ohio State will move up in the polls this week, for sure, but looming to close out their schedule are Michigan State (away) and Michigan (home).

The Buckeyes are on the fast track to a championship game date with Alabama if they can close out their Big 10 schedule without a blemish and win the conference title game in Indianapolis on December 3rd.

Maryland, meanwhile, is finding out in a hard way what life in the Big 10 is like when you can't run with the big dogs.


The Capitals turned in perhaps their worst performance of the season to date last night, losing 5-1 at Carolina to a Hurricanes team that had just three wins entering the game.

Evgeny Kuznetsov gave Washington a first period lead, but that's all they had in the tank.

Washington looked satisfied with a weekend road split of their Chicago/Carolina trip, having nipped the Blackhawks in overtime on Friday night, 3-2.

No one played worth a hoot offensively on Saturday night in Raleigh, and Washington's defensive effort in front of Philip Grubauer was shaky to say the least.

Comcast Mid-Atlantic hockey analyst Alan May went after the Caps pretty hard in the post-game show last night, but you're going to have a half dozen or so of those kind of "stinker" games over an 82-game schedule, particularly when you played the night before in Chicago and didn't get into Raleigh until 3 am.

It's one game. No big deal.


Why was no one talking about Mount Union's 112-game winning streak in college football before yesterday's loss? I know what you're saying right now. "Who the heck is Mount Union?"

They're a Division III school in Alliance, Ohio who had an unthinkable 112-game winning streak snapped yesterday with a home loss to John Carroll.

Here's an amazing note about Mount Union. They are now 222-2 in their last 224 regular season games. They won 110 straight games from 1994 to 2005, and after an Oct. 22, 2005, loss to Ohio Northern, rattled off 112 more consecutive wins entering Saturday.

No one cares because they're a D-III school, obviously, but 222-2 since 1994 is a pretty remarkable stretch, I'd say.

Funniest part about losing yesterday? Mount Union loses out on the conference title and the automatic bid in the D-III playoffs, so they now have to hope for an at-large bid to make the post-season.


Pat Skerry and his Towson University hoops staff are quietly VERY confident about their team in 2016-2017, and the Tigers got off to an impressive start on Saturday night with a 67-61 win at George Mason.

This isn't the same George Mason program that dominated the CAA back in mid 2000's, but going to Mason and winning is still a feat and Towson did just that last night, with Mike Morsell chipping in 21 points and 9 rebounds in the victory.

Skerry has had a couple of teams worthy of capturing the CAA tournament but still hasn't done it, yet. This team, though, might represent his best chance.

The CAA is still somewhat "down" as a conference, which is a good thing for the squads at the top of the ladder, and Skerry's Towson team has plenty of guys who can score AND defend, something they haven't always had in recent years.


ABC
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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


Saturday
November 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 12
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u.s. world cup hopes staggered by huge loss to mexico


There are "bad" losses.

There are "unlucky" losses.

And there are "damaging" losses.

The United States men's national soccer team suffered one of the "damaging" variety on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio when they fell to Mexico, 2-1, in the opening game of the 10-game series (known as "The Hex") that will determine whether the team advances to the 2018 World Cup in Russia or misses the event for the first time since 1986.

Yes, there's a long way to go. Nine more matches, in fact.

But Friday's night's loss was a big one.

The U.S. soccer federation picked the site -- Columbus, Ohio -- specifically because the United States had previously defeated Mexico four straight times at the stadium that plays home to the Columbus Crew in MLS.

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Did a formation change implemented by Jurgen Klinsmann contribute the U.S. loss to Mexico on Friday night in the opener of the "Hex"?

Not only would Mexico have to come to U.S. soil and win, they'd have to do so in a venue where they hadn't won a game OR scored a goal in four previous trips.

Consider that curse broken.

The game featured a strange formation change from U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who started the contest with 3 defensive players, 4 midfield players and 3 forwards, although one of those - Christian Pulisic -- had no "true" position or territory to cover. He was sort of free-roaming, which, honestly, might have helped the 18-year old in his debut in a "Hex" match.

The only problem? The lineup apparently didn't help anyone else, particularly the midfield players, who were sliced and diced by the skilled Mexican midfielders throughout the opening two dozen minutes or so, or right up until Mexico took advantage of a silly cough-up from Michael Bradley to go ahead 1-0 on a Layun goal that just avoided the outstretched hands of Tim Howard.

Let's start with Bradley, and get back to the game in a little while.

His time is over -- or should be, at least -- as a starting player for the U.S. team.

Throughout his career, Bradley has typically generated two types of performances; he's been either really good or not very good. There haven't been many "in between" outings for him over the last decade.

These days, if we're going to be honest about our U.S. player performances, he's "not very good" nearly every time out, particularly when the game actually counts for something.

Friday night in Columbus, he was directly involved in the first goal, failing to win an easy ball (with his man basically on the ground) twenty yards out, and nearly involved in another goal later on in the first half as his man easily shoved him aside and laid off a nice pass for a decent close-range shot that was blocked by U.S. defender John Brooks.

And on the offensive side, Bradley contributed nothing.

It's time to raise the curtain on his national team career. End of story.

Following that Mexican goal, Klinsmann switched back to a more familiar formation with four defensive players patrolling the backline and things settled down nicely thereafter, as the American side controlled the final twenty minutes of the opening session.

So the teams headed to the locker room with the U.S. trailing 1-0 at the half, but it could have been 2-0 or even 3-0 with a smidgen of luck for El Tris in the early stages of the game.

Then again, the Americans could have also put one or two on the scoreboard, but Jozy Altidore missed a chance right on the doorstep -- as per his custom of having a good opportunity go by the wayside anytime he plays -- and Pulisic, who was a handful all night for the Mexicans, failed to one-time a ball from fourteen yards out in the 35th minute and produced a heavy touch that sent the ball harmlessly into the penalty area for an easy clear by a defender.

The second half was a completely different story.

The Americans came out with energy five minutes into the second half, Bobby Wood finished a close-range chance with a nifty move to his left foot in tight space and it was a 1-1 game and the magic of Columbus was apparently once again playing out.

X
Bobby Wood's outstanding early 2nd half goal gave the U.S. hope last night in Columbus, Ohio.

The next thirty five minutes or so featured some decent back and forth play, although Mexico's forays into U.S. territory always looked more dangerous than those orchestrated by the Americans.

Fabian Johnson -- who had one of his best games ever -- cleared a ball off the line, essentially, in the 70th minute and John Brooks, who was a step slow most of the night, headed a shot away that might have found the upper right corner in the 80th minute.

Omar Gonzalez had a gift of a header opportunity fall easily into the Mexican goalkeeper's arms to represent one of the few really good scoring chances for the Americans while the game was still 1-1.

Wood produced a wonderful touch-and-spin move and planted a hard shot on goal in the 75th minute, but the Mexican goalkeeper was Johnny-on-the-spot there for a routine save.

Then, in the 89th minute, with Mexico poised to secure an all-important road point via a tie in Columbus, the Americans allowed an awful goal and were home losers in a World Cup qualifier with Mexico for the first time since 1972.

Layun's well placed corner kick found the head of Rafael Marquez, who was left alone by Altidore. Marquez deflected the ball backwards -- with pace -- and no American player was stationed on the far post, a traditional formation for all defended corner kicks in international play.

Klinsmann said afterwards he believed it was John Brooks' assignment to be there.

Whatever the case, poor marking from Altidore (hands on his hips, waiting for the play to come to him instead of staying with his man, Marquez) and a momentary lack of effort from Brooks led to the ball easily beating U.S. 'keeper Brad Guzan, and Mexico was ahead, 2-1.

There was still the formality of playing the final three minutes of extended (injury) time, and a couple of late-game skirmishes added a minute or so to that, but the Americans never really had a chance to threaten the Mexican goal for the equalizer.

And so, the chase for a spot in World Cup 2018 is off to a terrible start for the U.S.

Some will say, "there's lots of soccer left" and that's true.

But losing at home now means Tuesday night's road game at Costa Rica is one of those "must get points" affairs, and the Americans haven't been all that successful at Costa Rica in recent years.

At the very least, the U.S. needs a tie on Tuesday night. A win would essentially erase the Columbus fiasco and put the Americans back in good position with the next series of games slated for March.

There were whispers that Klinsmann's fate might rest with these two opening games.

Would the Federation make a coaching change if the U.S. loses on Tuesday at Costa Rica?

And if so, who gets the job?


U.S. PLAYER GRADES


Tim Howard, 5.0 -- Forced out of the game in the first half with a groin injury. Some say "there was nothing he could do" on the first Mexican goal but I disagree.

Brad Guzan, 5.0 -- Steady in replacement of Howard, but why didn't he have Brooks or someone on the far post on the Marquez goal?

Matt Besler, 4.5 -- Just not good enough. Too many fouls, not enough pace. Tries hard, but he's a substitute at best.

John Brooks, 5.0 -- Rough, rough night. Beat for speed on several occasions and wasn't stationed right on the game-winning tally.

Omar Gonzalez, 6.0 -- One of his better games. Marked well, played the ball smartly. Could have done better with his scoring chance, though.

Timmy Chandler, 6.0 -- Struggled in the first half but was better as the game went on.

Fabian Johnson, 7.0 -- His best game in a long time. Delivered several dangerous crosses and did his work defensively, too. A big bright spot.

Michael Bradley, 4.0 -- No factor. Suspect on the first Mexican goal. Nothing else to show for his work all night. A liability.

Jermaine Jones, 4.5 -- Coming back off injury and looked like it. Tried hard, but didn't present anything dangerous for 90 minutes.

Christian Pulisic, 6.0 -- Was dazzling at times and certainly didn't look afraid or in awe. He'll regret that first half chance he botched.

Jozy Altidore, 6.0 -- Directly involved in the Wood goal with a nice touch and slick pass, but didn't do much else. Hands on his hips on Mexico's game-winner.

Bobby Wood, 7.5 -- Best player on the field for the U.S., with a terrific goal and a self-produced chance later on that was hit right at the Mexican 'keeper.

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forget about the 4-letter network, just come here for the good stuff


The Capitals gave-up a late goal to send the game to overtime, but Marcus Johansson's tally in the extra period was good enough to give the Caps a 3-2 win in Chicago on Friday night.

Jay Beagle scored twice for Washington, who now head to Carolina tonight for a Saturday evening battle with the Hurricanes. The Caps are 9-3-1 on the season thus far.

Melo Trimble had 22 points and the Terps held off pesky American on Friday night in their season opener, 62-56.

Freshman Anthony Cowan, Jr. had an impressive debut with 12 points and 9 rebounds and freshman wing Kevin Huerter -- who started, along with Cowan -- hit a pair of late 3-pointers after American had climbed back into the game.

Cowan and Huerter became the first two Maryland freshmen to start in the same season opener since Joe Smith and Keith Booth did it against Georgetown in 1993-94.

It wasn't all good for the Terps. Senior center Damonte Dodd finished with three points, no rebounds and no blocked shots against the smaller Eagles, while Jared Nickens, who scored 17 points in the preseason game last week against Division II Catawba, missed all five shots he attempted, four of them 3-pointers. Nickens failed to score in 15 minutes of action last night.

#11 Indiana and #3 Kansas locked up in doozy of season opener in Honolulu with the Hoosiers winning 103-99 in overtime.

The overtime thriller boasted 17 lead changes and neither team ever enjoyed a double-digit lead in the game.

On the PGA Tour, Gary Woodland is the halfway leader at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico. Woodland fired opening rounds of 64-65 to finish at -13 through thirty six holes, one shot ahead of Webb Simpson.

Woodland is currently the 54th ranked player in the world with two career victories, the last coming in 2011. He's one of several long-hitting young American players who is close to breaking out and becoming a top 25 player. All he needs to do is win -- more.

KELLY
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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


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Friday
November 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 11
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


and now, the heavy lifting begins


That went about like I expected it would last night at M&T Bank Stadium.

I told you here in this space yesterday the Ravens weren't losing to the freakin' Browns.

OK, maybe I didn't think John Harbaugh's team would actually be trailing the Browns at halftime, 7-6, but in the end, a 28-7 win was roughly what I anticipated yesterday morning when I called it 26-9 in favor of the Ravens.

The Ravens might not be all that good, but they are much, much better than Cleveland.

The Browns are awful.

They're not "unlucky" or "hot and cold" or "better than you think". They're really awful, as bad of a team as we've seen in the league in a decade at least.

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Joe Flacco threw three touchdowns and two interceptions in last night's win over Cleveland, but the boo birds were flying low in the first half in Baltimore.

For those guys to win a game this season, some other team is going to have to be crushed with injuries or Buck Showalter is going to have assume the coaching duties for them and butcher the final three minutes of a close game or something like that.

Cleveland can't possibly win a game this season on their own merit. Some other team is going to have to collapse to hand them a victory.

Thankfully, it didn't happen last night in Baltimore.

The Ravens weren't great, mind you, although the defense again stood tall, albeit against the equivalent of a local MIAA A-Conference All-Star team.

The offense wasn't any great shakes either, particularly in the first half, but they did produce a whopping three touchdowns.

And Joe Flacco even made some good throws, including a couple to the other team, hooking up with three different receivers (Waller, Smith Sr., Perriman) for touchdowns and playing reasonably well in the second half of the easy win.

The Ravens wake up this morning at 5-4 and on top in the AFC North.

And now, the race to nine wins begins.

There's a pretty decent chance that reaching nine wins is going to be enough for the Ravens -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to claim the division title and host a home playoff game.

But getting to nine isn't going to be easy.

Let's do what we always do as sports fans and go through the remaining schedule:

Next week in Dallas is a loss. I think we all know that.

That drops the Ravens to 5-5.

They then have remaining home games with Miami, Cincinnati and Philadelphia. Just for kicks and giggles, let's call those wins. I do believe there's a pretty good chance the Ravens can win those three, although Miami might come in on a heater and be sniffing the playoffs in December.

If those three are wins, that's eight in the "W" column.

Where's the other win come?

On the road, the Ravens are at New England, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. They'd have to win one of those to get to 9-7.

Here's the good news: The Bengals will likely be out of the playoff picture on the final day of the regular season when the Ravens travel to Cincinnati.

The bad news: The Ravens have had a tough time beating the Bengals anywhere in the last few years, including Cincinnati.

But the task to win nine games might not be as daunting as it looks if the Ravens can accomplish just one thing: Win each of their remaining home games.

In fact, I'd bet today (not sure what the odds are, but I'd bet it) that if the Ravens sweep their final three home games, they'll figure out a way to win a game on the road somewhere and finish at 9-7 and win the AFC North.

Those three home games are the key.

There for a while last night, I hoped those nitwit protesters out in front of the football stadium might start a "They're not MY football team" chant.

It was that ugly -- offensively at least -- for the first thirty minutes of the game.

The boo birds came out.

The Ravens trailed 7-6 at the half.

And then, the inevitable market correction took place and the game righted itself and the better team won handily.

I was never really worried, but the thought did cross my mind to put up a #DMD poll here this morning: What was the bigger upset this week? Trump over Clinton or the Browns over the Ravens?

Thankfully, no such poll is needed.

We do need nine wins though.

Let the chase begin...next Sunday in Dallas.

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u.s. hosts mexico tonight as world cup qualifying kicks off in columbus


Longtime rivals and the class of the CONCACAF region will kick off the final round of Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying when Mexico travels north of the border tonight to take on the USA at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Tonight's game marks the third time in the last five qualifying cycles the two sides have met on US soil to begin “The Hex” – a six team, ten game double round robin format that will play out over the next ten months with the top three teams booking an automatic place in Russia and the fourth needing to get past the Asian region fifth place finisher in a two leg home and away playoff to punch their ticket to the summer of 2018's World Cup.

X
The U.S. men's soccer team is 4-0 all-time vs. Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, site of tonight's World Cup qualifier for the 2018 event in Russia.

Both sides enter the final round in good form, with the USA building on their performance in the Copa America Centenario this past summer, where the hosts made a somewhat surprising run to the semi-finals before they were knocked back down a peg by Lionel Messi and world number one Argentina in a 4-0 defeat, to win three of their last four games (D1), while Mexico has bounced back from their worst ever competitive defeat, a 7-0 quarterfinal shellacking from eventual Copa champions Chile, to also win three of their last four games (D1) and, like the US, finish atop their fourth round qualifying group.

Despite holding a decided edge in the all-time series, losing only fourteen times in sixty-five previous meetings (W18 D33), Mexico have won just one of the last seven encounters (D3 L3) vs. the U.S. and just how far El Tri and manager Juan Carlos Osorio have come since that historic set back, their first since the Colombian took charge last fall (W12 D2), will be put to the test at Mapfre Stadium, which has become a fortress for the U.S. men’s national team and the disdain of El Tri over the years.

The Yanks have won eight of their previous eleven matches in Columbus (D3), with seven of the victories coming in World Cup qualifying, including the last four against Mexico by the now infamous “Dos a Cero” score line.

In charge for just over a year now, Osorio is well aware of El Tri’s recent struggles in the Buckeye state, and with a second difficult road test pending midweek against Panama in Panama City, has chosen quite possibly the strongest side he could assemble, declining to call up any player without previous national team experience while handing spots to thirteen players in the twenty-five man squad who currently earn their paycheck across the Atlantic in the top leagues of Europe.

The Mexican team you'll see tonight is a veteran laden, attack minded bunch, loaded with talent from front to back and with a point to prove, eager to end their Columbus hijinks.

By naming only one true fullback to the twenty five man squad, Osorio is likely to opt for his preferred three man back line, with team captain and thirty-seven year old national team mainstay Rafa Marquez anchoring the defense, Andres Guardado looking to boss the game from midfield, and a wealth of attacking options at his disposal to pair with the goal poaching Chicharito up front, including the recently recalled Giovani dos Santos, promising youngster Hirving Lozano, the in-form Marco Fabian, or Jesus Corona to play in from the wings and behind the former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker.

The U.S. back four will have to be at their best as they go searching for their fifth consecutive clean sheet against El Tri in Columbus, however manager Jurgen Klinsmann has already been dealt a blow as Geoff Cameron, who played every minute of all four World Cup qualifiers and all six Copa América games this year to form a formidable partnership with John Brooks in the center of defense, will miss out through injury.

Cameron's absence leaves the German several experienced, yet mistake prone choices, to fill in for the Stoke City man, with either Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler the likely favorites to try and fill his boots.

On the other end of the pitch, Klinsmann is likely to pair Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood, who have combined for ten goals in the six games they have started together, at the top of his 4-4-2, while Michael Bradley will take up his usual midfield general role just behind Sacha Kljestan, with a place somewhere in the starting eleven for eighteen year old Borussia Dortmund playmaker Christian Pulisic.

Expect Fabian Johnson and Deandre Yedlin bombing forward on the wings from their full back spots, and Tim Howard reclaiming his starting spot in goal, as Klinsmann knows this first game at home is a critical one to win and all hands must be on deck.

With a pending trip to Costa Rica on Tuesday, where the US has managed only two points from ten visits (L8), losing all five of their previous Hexagonal matches in San Jose, Klinsmann, like Osorio, has chosen an experienced group, one which may lack the star power of their Mexican counterparts, but who come stocked with plenty of big game experience.

Tonight's U.S. lineup share a combined 915 international caps throughout the squad, with fifteen players having been a part of previous U.S. World Cup rosters and twenty who have World Cup Qualifying experience under their belt, including nine against El Tri in Columbus.

Will it be enough though for the Americans to continue their dominance over Mexico in Columbus and avoid the daunting trip to Costa Rica in danger of sitting at the bottom of the table, potentially six points off the pace after only two games?

Against a loaded and almost foaming at the mouth Mexico side, eager to erase the memories of their last four visits to the Buckeye state and with the dynamic attacking options they are sure to throw against an unsettled U.S. back line, it could very well be a long night and possibly forgettable three days for Klinsmann and the U.S. national team.

This article was provided by #DMD soccer contributor Matthew Carroll, who provides weekly coverage of the English Premier League here at Drew's Morning Dish.

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.


"hot stove season" is officially underway


While the MLB offseason isn't like the opening of the NFL league year, with a flurry of top free agents all signing right away, the Hot Stove season did officially begin this week with both the opening of free agency and the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their free agents.

Without an early CBA adjustment, the status quo for this system has prevailed, and this year it entails a one year guarantee of a $17.2 million salary, and any player that refuses an offer will subsequently cost the signing team a first round draft pick, while the player's former team will get an additional supplemental first round pick.

For the Orioles, there were qualifying offer decisions to make on two players, and neither were all that hard.

X
The decision to offer Mark Trumbo the one-year contract at $17.2 million was an easy one for the Orioles, but will the power hitter take it or find a new home via free agency this winter?

First there was the league's reigning home run king, Mark Trumbo, who was extended an offer by the team. Trumbo isn't an elite offensive player by any stretch, with just a .256 batting average, .316 on base percentage, and 170 strikeout to 51 walk ratio last season, but 47 home runs is still 47 home runs.

Offering Trumbo a qualifying offer is a no-lose proposition, and presents three advantageous scenarios for the team.

First, Trumbo could accept the offer, and the Orioles could certainly make due with bringing back the slugger on a one year contract. That's not particularly likely to happen, though, as Trumbo's quasi-breakout year will probably give him the leverage to get a deal that's at least slightly better deal than the QO on the open market, in which case the Orioles will get an extra draft pick, and signing pool money, which will help them build up their farm system. And, also quite possible, because it will be cheaper on a dollar per dollar basis for the Orioles to re-sign Trumbo than for any other team to bring him in, extending the offer could actually even help them keep their incumbent DH in town.

On the other side of things, the Orioles did not extend the offer to catcher Matt Wieters.

Wieters got the qualifying offer last year, and became one of the first players to actually accept it. If the Orioles had decided to go the other way on this one, Wieters almost certainly would have done the same this year as well, after hitting just .243/.302/.409 and playing in only 124 games in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery.

There's simply no way Wieters is going to get better than a guaranteed $17 million salary on the open market, let alone with draft pick compensation to him.

And even if there were sentimental factors involved, the Orioles simply can't justify devoting that much payroll space to the switch hitter at this point. While there was once an argument that Wieters was quietly among the games best at the position thanks to his defense and durability, last year he finished just 14th in the league in wRC+ amongst catchers with at least 400 plate appearances, and his defense only brought his fWAR up to 11th.

That's obviously not bad, but it's also not in and of itself worth that kind of financial commitment. Even if you end up with Caleb Joseph as your starting catcher, the difference is surprisingly small enough that it could easily be made up and then some by sending $17 million at another position. And of course, not offering Wieters a qualifying offer doesn't mean the Orioles can't offer him any contract, and there's still at least an outside chance Wieters isn't actually going anywhere this winter.

Of course, it's more likely than not that Trumbo and Wieters have both played their last games in an Orioles uniform, and that frees up two starting spots that need to be filled, and just shy of $25 million in last year's payroll with which to do it. Where should the Orioles look to improve the American League's second wild card team, and how should they proceed strategically this winter?? More on that in this space next week.

LYNCH
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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.


Thursday
November 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 10
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let's get this started on the right foot


There's nothing like being first in, I suppose. So, maybe before our new President gets overwhelmed with things on his "to do list", I can get this to him and he can work on a few important items in the sports world that would make my life -- and your life, too -- a little better.


Dear President-Elect Trump:

Congratulations on your win, sir. There's nothing in sports better than seeing the underdog knock off the favorite. And that you did.

But I'm not contacting you today to gloat about your win or beat you up for the campaign you ran. I'm not here asking for a high-paying cabinet position.

I'm here to ask you to help facilitate a few simple changes in sports. While you're busy trying to build that wall (and, I suppose, get funding approved for it) or negotiate peace with Russia, these things can be checked off your list with the snap of a finger and an e-mail or two.

After all, you're the President-Elect of the United States. If you call baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and tell him something is getting changed in the sport, I'm guessing he's going to put the wheels in motion to get it changed.

As you'll see below, these changes are really common sense. They're not outlandish or silly by any means. You'll read the list and say, "That's a pretty smart guy in Baltimore, that Drew's Morning Dish guy."

So, let's get started.

X
That's a pretty nice finish on the President-Elect's golf swing, but how about spending more time FIXING the sport than playing it?

I'm going to start with the sport nearest-and-dearest to my heart -- and one close to YOUR heart, too -- and that would be golf.

It's become the new trend, even at a couple of your courses, Mr. President-Elect, to stretch the layout to something in the 7,000 yard figure. And that's just from the "standard" tees. If you're brave enough to take it all the way and play the "blue" tees, it can stretch out to 7,400 or more.

The easiest way to lengthen the courses these days is to make the par 3's over 200 yards, a par 4 or two over 500 yards, or a par five or two over 600 yards.

Stop the madness, Mr. President-Elect. Just stop it. Please rule, as of next January when you take office, that no new course can have a par 3 over 200 yards, a par 4 over 475 yards and a par 5 over 575 yards.

And while we're at it, please also establish a rule that says EVERY course must have a par 3 of 130 yards or under and two par 5's of 520 yards or shorter. Us short knockers need a chance to reach the green in two shots on those par 5's.

One last new golf rule, sir. Please eliminate the "stroke and distance rule" for out-of-bounds. Think about it like this: You're on the first tee at Trump National in New Jersey. You swing and miss at it -- a complete whiff. You're now hitting your second shot.

On the other hand, you can pound a drive down the left hand side, carry it 275 in the air, nick the edge of the cart path, and have your ball come to rest out of bounds by five inches. And for that, you're back on the first tee hitting your THIRD shot.

It's the dumbest rule in golf, sir.

Please get that one changed, too.

On to baseball, Mr. Trump. Have you watched any of the games recently?

There's a lot of goodness in the game, as we just saw during that World Series between Chicago and Cleveland, but a growing problem needs to be fixed, now, and you're just the man to do it.

The umpires have gotten completely out of friggin' control. If you so much as look back at them and say, "Little outside there, boss", they take off their mask and huff and puff in your face. If it happens again, you're tossed from the game.

So, here's the deal. Just like a bee dies once it stings you, an umpire should also be ejected if he throws a player or manager out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Only he has to sit out the next game -- without pay -- wherever that might be.

We have to get these umpires to stop thinking the people are in the stadium to watch THEM.

You, sir, can do that.

Just mandate that any umpire who throws a player or manager out for arguing balls and strikes is also suspended for one game without pay.

On to football, now.

There are lots of things wrong with the NFL. Far too many to concern yourself with in your new position. But if I could pick ONE thing to change, it's simple. Please tell the NFL to squash the defensive pass interference rule that gives the offense the ball at the spot of the foul.

It's a joke. The biggest and easiest offensive play in the book now is "throw it long and act like you're being interfered with..."

Just continue to make "illegal contact" a five yard penalty and pass inteference can be fifteen yards, like it should be.

Oh, and get the Browns to put a logo on their helmet, please. I guess that's two things I'd ask you to change.

I think that's enough for now. You have your hands full, for sure, but these changes are 3-minute phone calls, basically.

Good luck with everything else on your plate.

P.S. Have them speed up the greens at Trump National. When I was there over the summer, they were painfully slow.

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"i don't care what you say...they're not losing to the browns"


This all started a decade ago or thereabouts when I was hosting a morning sports talk show in town and my producer at the time, Glenn Clark, was discussing the Maryland-Duke football game down in Durham.

As I egged him on about Duke's chances of upsetting the Terps (something I didn't think had any real chance of happening), Clark got more mad by the second. I reminded him of how bad Maryland's program was (true) and how Duke had lost a few close games recently (true) and basically tried to create the illusion that Maryland could go down there and lose.

"I don't care what you say," Clark yelled. "Maryland's not losing to Duke in football!"

Maryland lost that Saturday...to Duke...in football.

And born was a phrase I've used a lot since then.

X
No photo sums it up better than this one.

"I don't care what you say, they're not losing to (insert team)."

And I'm saying it here today, about tonight's game in Baltimore between the Ravens and Browns.

You can tell me all you want about how the Ravens offense stinks (true).

You can tell me all you want about how some teams have been able to throw the ball on the Ravens defense (true).

You can tell me all you want how our return game is non-existent both in kick-offs and punts (true).

You can tell me the Ravens are a 4-4 team and that they're not very good (might be true).

None of that stuff matters tonight.

I don't care what you say, the Ravens aren't losing to Cleveland tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.

Yes, I'm aware they lost LAST year to the Browns in Baltimore. That was last year. This is this year.

The Browns are 0-9 for a reason. They stink.

They've had a close call or two, yes. They were a blocked field goal away from beating the Dolphins in Miami last month and nearly beat the Jets in Cleveland two weeks ago.

The Ravens trailed 20-0 in Cleveland in week #2 before waking up and winning.

But none of that matters tonight.

The Ravens are winning, quite easily, in fact. I'm aware that 22 of the last 24 Baltimore games have yielded a one-score result. Nearly every game over the last two and a half seasons has been "close" at the end.

This one, tonight, won't be close at the end of the 4th quarter.

Cleveland might not score an offensive touchdown, in fact.

The Ravens are favored by ten in this one. I'll take Baltimore in a laugher, 26-9.

"I don't care what you say...the Browns aren't beating the Ravens in Baltimore."

KELLY
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four quarters of
college football


Contributed by #DMD's College Football Reporter
KEN GREELEY


four quarters of college football


First Quarter: Big Bowls – This year the Peach and Fiesta Bowls will host the college football playoff’s semi-final games. They are part of a six-bowl, three-year rotation to host the playoffs, known as the “New Year’s Six”.

The other four hosts are the Rose, Sugar, Cotton, and Orange bowls. When it is not part of the playoffs, they host traditional bowl games to showcase the next seven (?) best teams in the country.

One spot is reserved for the highest ranked, conference winner from the Group of Five – the five small Division I conferences (Sun Belt, Conference USA, Mountain West, Mid-American, and the American Athletic). Currently, Western Michigan from the Mid-American Conference is positioned to play in the Cotton Bowl.

The Group of Five also receives 27% of the broadcasting revenue. This arrangement was made to appease their claims for revenue and bowl access.

Second Quarter: Small Bowls – Outside of the New Year’s Six, there are still 34 bowl games to be played from mid-December to New Year’s Eve. ESPN arranged for the creation of most of these bowl games to fill its programming schedule with set conference tie-ins.

From the team’s perspective, “going bowling” is a mix bag. A bowl game is a reward for a successful season, allows extra practices and is beneficial in recruiting. The players receive a few benefits as well – gift bags, visits to tourist attractions, and possibly travel to beautiful locales.

Conversely, these bowl games are usually money-losing trips for the school. In addition to travel and accommodations, each team is required to buy a certain number of tickets, which are difficult to resell to fans during the holidays.

And is it all worth it if your team played .500 football or worse? Do you really want to go to Detroit or Shreveport during the holidays?

Third Quarter: Empty Bowls – For the remaining 48 Division I teams, you are in one of three situations:

Continue the rebuilding. A coaching change was made in the last year or two. The administration is looking for progress – on-the-field performance, recruiting status, increased fan interest.

Start the rebuilding. The administration has to admit it made a mistake with the previous hire and needs to find the right coach or assistance to ensure a bowl appearance the follow year.

Keep the status quo. Certain teams like Rice and Kansas are borderline Division I programs where the sport is not a priority. As long as the school is not embarrassed, they take what it gets without a major investment.

Fourth Quarter: No Bowls – The other divisions of college football are well versed in a playoff system.

In 1973, both Division II and III switched from a regional bowl structure to a national playoff. The Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, previously known as Division 1-AA) has had a playoff since its inception in 1978.

And these divisions have more teams in their playoffs – ranging from 24 to 32 teams.

The current Division I postseason structure is better the prior systems of national polls and BCS computer rankings. But another two to four teams in the playoff chase would enhance the current model and hopefully eliminate a few of the lesser bowls.

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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Wednesday
November 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 9
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


i wouldn’t have voted for him, either


I’m sure I’m one of the few in Baltimore with this opinion, but I wouldn’t have voted for Zach Britton as the American League Cy Young Award winner.

I know. I’m in the minority in these parts.

My reasons for not voting for Britton – who wasn’t even named one of the three finalists – has more to do with status than anything else.

Britton is, simply, a part-time pitcher.

The Cy Young Award should go, in my opinion, to a full-time pitcher. That, of course, is a bit of an oxymoron since pitching in and of itself isn’t “full-time”.

X
Was Zach Britton's 2016 season Cy Young Award worthy? Or should that award go only to starting pitchers?

But you know what I mean. A relief pitcher, particularly a closer or any kind of specialist, is “part-time”. At least a starting pitcher, if he makes 30 starts a year, throws somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 innings.

Let me be clear on one thing: Zach Britton had a remarkable year. Nearly perfect, in fact. He wasn’t perfect as in “unblemished”, but he didn’t blow one save all season, posting a 47-for-47 mark in 2016.

Zach Britton was the best relief pitcher in the American League last season. And it wasn’t even close.

But that doesn’t mean he should have been the winner of the Cy Young Award. He probably didn’t even deserve to be on the ballot of finalists, either.

That’s another part of the argument I’m hearing that I don’t quite get.

”I understand that he probably didn’t deserve to win, but he should have at least been a finalist,” some have said.

I don’t get that. If he didn’t deserve to win the award, why be a finalist in the first place? Just for kicks? That makes no sense to me.

Let’s play the “what if?” game for a minute to clarify why Britton didn’t deserve the award as a “part-timer”.

What if someone was a pinch-hitter for the Cleveland Indians and he was inserted into 54 games in 2016 and managed to go 40-for-54 with 6 home runs, 23 runs batted in and 11 “walk-off” game-winning hits.

Would we consider him for the MVP award?

After all, that would be one helluva season, albeit as a “part-timer”, right? 40-for-54 is .740, something no one has ever come close to hitting in a month, let alone a season.

And if that “part-time hitter” produced 11 game-winning hits, some baseball nerd somewhere would tack a fancy statistical definition to that accomplishment and we’d have a new way to measure a pinch hitter’s impact on the game.

But would he be an MVP candidate? I doubt it.

Designated hitters are considered by some to be “part-timers” – like David Ortiz – but they have a much better chance at being a MVP winner because they typically hit just as much as anyone else who also happens to play defense in the field.

And we know that defense sorta-kinda doesn’t matter.

Let’s look at two examples of a third baseman, for instance. Third baseman “Bill” goes the entire season and doesn’t make ONE error. Bill hits a decent .262 with 16 home runs and knocks in 66 runs on the season.

Third baseman “Joe” makes 12 errors in the field but hits .299 with 32 home runs and knocks in 105 runs.

Who had the better “season”?

Right…

The MVP award is about offense by a full-time player. Defense might matter, but only a smidgen, if at all.

The Cy Young Award is about pitching by a “full-time” pitcher.

Zach Britton was great in 2016, no question about that.

But was he better than Rick Porcello of the Red Sox?

Porcello: 22-4 win/loss record, 223 innings pitched, 3.15 ERA, 1.009 WHIP.

In the American League, as a starter, that’s a terrific season.

Britton was terrific, but he pitched 67 innings from April through October.

And the save rule being what it is, not all 47 of Britton’s saves were truly “game-saving” efforts. Stats can be bent in any direction you favor to support your argument or position, but it’s only fair to note that not all of Britton’s success was of the “nailbiting” variety.

The argument against Britton is pretty simple, though. He’s a part-time player who had an amazing 2016 season.

But he was a part-time player.

Let’s not forget that part-time players DO get rewarded, as Britton already has via the “top reliever” award he captured last week.

But the Cy Young Award is reserved for full-timers, or it should be, I say.

And that’s why I haven’t bellyached this week at Britton’s failure to be nominated as one of the three Cy Young finalists.

Zach had a great, great season.

But he doesn’t deserve the award over Porcello, Kluber or Verlander, the three who were nominated by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

They were full-timers. Britton was a part-timer.

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get that winter apparel ready for us!


For the seventh year in a row, I’ll be involved in a great holiday project that requires YOUR help.

Back in the old days when I was on the radio, my pal Glenn Clark and I started a winter apparel drive to benefit the good men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

That first year, we took 400 coats, jackets, hats and gloves to HUM.

Last December, six years later, we took nearly 5,000 pieces of clothing down there.

X
Our friends at Jerry's Toyota will once again serve as the title sponsor of our Winter Apparel Drive. Look for drop-off dates soon at Jerry's Toyota at 8001 Belair Road where you can donate your unused winter clothing and receive valuable coupons and merchandise just for helping out!

Helping Up Mission is a wonderful facility in Baltimore where men go to get their life back together. While they are there for a variety of reasons, their goal is the same: Get back on their feet, get themselves straightened out, and return to their family and friends a better man, free of the issues that brought them to the facility in the first place.

Our Winter Apparel Drive provides the men with clothing and items for themselves, but also gives them a chance to have a gift item or two for a family member during the holiday season.

That, perhaps, is the best thing about the drive. The men who are there have little chance – almost none at all – to provide their loved ones with a gift during the holiday season.

Each man visits a pre-arranged room with the clothing we (you) donate and is allowed to pick out 3-4 items. Most of them select an item for themselves, and several items they can use as gifts for the holiday season.

We are proud here at #DMD to have our friends at Jerry’s Toyota serving as our title sponsor of the Winter Apparel Drive for a second straight year.

Last year, Jerry’s Toyota donated over 500 items themselves and will once again have a drop-off location at their store at 8001 Belair Road.

We’ll also have several “public” events in early-mid December where you will be able to visit and donate your unused winter apparel.

We will have events at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Glory Days Grill, and other local establishments who are also excited to be involved with the Winter Apparel Drive.

My pal Glenn Clark is still involved and continues to be a driving force with this effort. I couldn’t do this without him, for sure.

And we can’t do it without you, too.

Please take a few minutes one of these days to go through your closets, dressers, etc. and grab as many pieces of winter clothing as you can – that you no longer use, of course.

We’ll take jackets, coats, sweaters, hats, gloves, shoes, socks, etc.

And, yes, we’ll take men’s clothing, women’s clothing and children’s items.

We’ll have more details on the Winter Apparel Drive shortly.

Let’s make this a great holiday season for the men at Helping Up Mission!

KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


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Days banner ad
Tuesday
November 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 8
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


should we laugh at mark ingram -- or be angry with him?


There's probably a more pressing national story today, November 8, 2016, but I'd rather not discuss which of those two imposters is going to win our Presidential election.

So, I'll stick to sports.

This, though, is a touchy topic. Not quite as touchy as who wins the election, which will not really yield a winner no matter who comes out on top, but still a delicate story nonetheless.

After much thought, I decided NOT to post the video of Mark Ingram from Sunday's game in San Francisco, where the Saints running back used a racial slur after a touchdown run.

At one point yesterday, as I prepared this piece, I was inclined to include the unedited video for all to see.

Then, I decided I'd just insert the edited video that the NFL website eventually posted late Sunday evening, conveniently bleeping-out the offensive words from Ingram.

"Why would I do that?" I asked myself later. That's like not including the foul language in the final scene of the movie Training Day, where Denzel Washington lashes out at an entire neighborhood in an expletive-laden outburst that won him an Oscar for his portrayal of crooked L.A. cop Alonzo Harris.

I decided, in the end, that I don't need to put the video up here at #DMD in order for us to discuss what happened on Sunday and whether or not we should laugh at Ingram or be outraged with him.

That said, if you need to see the video to make your judgment on Mark Ingram, you can find it on the internet in about 4.4 seconds, max.

Should we treat sports different than "real life"?

Truth serum time: When I first saw the video, I laughed. Part of my fixation with what happened is that Ingram is apparently yelling at no one in particular when, after his touchdown run against the 49'ers, he screams (within easy earshot of NFL on-field mics), "What's wrong with these n-----s?"

It wasn't one of those moments where you think you heard a guy say the "n-word". No, no, no. This was, clearly, Mark Ingram saying, "What's wrong with these n-----s?", an apparent jab at a handful of 49'ers who couldn't bring him down on his long touchdown gallop.

I laughed at first.

But the NFL clearly didn't think it was funny. They originally tweeted out Ingram's outburst -- accidentally, I assume -- as part of their in-game highlight package on Twitter, then quickly removed the tweet once it was brought to their attention that Ingram blasted the n-word in front of their on-field mics.

This is one of many polarizing topics when it comes to racial strife in our country these days. As a nation, we're learning more and more about how harmful words, phrases and slurs can be to those who are offended.

But are they really that offensive when they're freely tossed about in the manner Mark Ingram did on Sunday? Or do we wipe that one away and use the "heat of the moment" excuse?

It's confusing, to say the least.

It goes without saying -- but I'll say it anyway for definition and understanding -- that if a white running back (or any white player, for that matter) would have said that after a touchdown run, he'd likely be suspended by the league, particularly if the incident was caught on tape.

I think we'd all agree with that, right? And if he wasn't immediately suspended, there would be a large public/media outcry for a suspension. Yes?

And if that player happened to be a Raven, I'd probably shrug and nod in agreement when the league announced he was being suspended for a game for his outburst.

You can't have white players running around calling opposing players (the n-word) in 2016. It just doesn't fly.

So, why is Ingram different? Is it only because he's African-American? Is it OK for him to use that word simply because of the color of his skin?

The NFL has recently admitted that their 2016 crackdown on post-touchdown celebrations is due in large part because of their belief that young football players across the country are mimicking NFL stars and "picking up bad habits" for lack of a more polished term.

I don't know that I like the league getting ultra-involved in stuff like that, but I do get their thinking as it relates to kids and young adults picking up those habits.

My 9-year old son catches a pass from me in the front yard and spikes the ball and breaks into a dance or "dabs". That's the truth. You know where he got that from? Playing the "Madden" video game and watching Cam Newton, Odell Beckham Jr. and others every Sunday on TV.

So, the NFL is trying their best to clean up the game a little bit and it's understandable to a degree.

What then, should they do about Mark Ingram's outburst on Sunday?

Is it something that's easily laughed off, like I did originally?

Or should we be over-the-top angry that any player in the league would aim that sort of remark and racial slur at ANYONE on the playing field, regardless of the color of their skin or the person they were directing it towards?

I don't know the answer.

I just know it's not a good look for Ingram or the league.

Do we really care what football players say to one another?

I'm also smart enough to know that kind of language occurs "in the real world" every day. But it might not fly in your place of employment or the company you own.

In 2016, we're desperately trying to clean things up in this country so everyone feels like they're an equal, not an outsider or "different".

Maybe we shouldn't treat the NFL like it's part of that effort to improve relationships between the races in our country.

That could be the easiest way to handle this. There's the NFL -- and then there's the rest of the country. What happens in the NFL, stays in the NFL. That sort of thing.

But try explaining that to your 9-year old son or the 17-year old high school football player who hears Ingram use that word. I don't think they'd understand why it's OK to use that word in the NFL, but not OK to use it in their world.

I feel guilty now, having laughed at the video when I saw it.

"Mark Ingram's crazy..." I said to myself as I watched it again, a second, third and fourth time.

Now, it's not so funny after all.

I wonder, though. Is everyone else laughing? Or outraged?

Or, should we just not care?

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the best six and worst six in the nfl


The Worst Six --

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- What happened to these guys? They were an up-and-comer this time last year, but they're suddenly one of the league's bottom feeders. I know Atlanta's offense is good, but that Tampa Bay defense was torched last Thursday night. Holy cow.

28. Chicago Bears -- Still basking in the glow of that Monday night win over Minnesota, but all the sudden that doesn't even look so impressive with the Vikings now having lost three games in a row. One week they get good play from Cutler, the next week, he's a bum again.

29. New York Jets -- Don't let those three wins fool you. Two of them came against the Ravens and Browns. They're not very good, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick possibly out now with a knee injury, they might be looking at a four or five win season.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars -- The Gus Bradley watch is officially "on" down in Jacksonville. They'll be looking for a new coach come January 2nd. Who are the suspects? Will they go "new", like a Josh McDaniels type, or how about a name or two from the past like -- ahem -- Brian Billick?

31. San Francisco 49'ers -- They're really, really bad. Might lose two of three to the Browns, that's how bad they are. They were just in the Super Bowl in the 2012 season, remember. What the hell happened?

32. Cleveland Browns -- Still there, dead last, at 0-9 and about to be 0-10 after this Thursday's 24-6 loss to the Ravens. About an 80% chance they're going to finish 0-16.


The Best Six --

6. Detroit Lions -- Don't look now, but the Lions are suddenly 5-4 and their recent work has included wins over Philadelphia and Minnesota, both of whom were sporting solid records before running into Matt Stafford and Company. I'm not sure Detroit is the 6th best overall team in the league, but right now, they're a tough team to beat. Here's the deal: They might actually win the NFC North.

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Could Oakland quarterback Derek Carr be a MVP candidate in 2016? At the halfway point of the season, he sure is.

5. Kansas City Chiefs -- I don't think the Chiefs are any kind of real threat to work through the AFC playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl, but Andy Reid is going to get there again at some point, right? Just by odds alone, he has to make it back to the big game. Maybe this is that year?

4. Atlanta Falcons -- I know their last win was against Tampa Bay, but that Falcons offense is starting to border on "something special". I don't think they have the defense to hold up in January, but for now, they're putting up points on just about everyone they face.

3. Dallas Cowboys -- I like how they went into Cleveland and pasted the Browns. None of that 23-20 escape-job kind of stuff from the Cowboys. They won 35-10, going away, like a good team should when they're playing the worst team in the league. If Dallas gets home field throughout the playoffs, they're going to the Super Bowl.

2. Oakland Raiders -- What can you say? They're 5-0 on the road, they just blasted the Broncos and that outstanding Denver defense, and the Raiders are 7-2 and challenging New England for the top spot in the AFC. Derek Carr? He's for real, folks. Very much so.

1. New England Patriots -- It's going to be a shame if they go 15-1 and their only blemish was an early season game they lost to Buffalo because no one was available to play quarterback for Bill Belichick's team that afternoon. I don't think they're going 15-1, by the way. Just saying it would be a shame if they did.

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


The Ravens put a month of hard feelings and miserable results in the rear view mirror Sunday by ending a four game losing streak AND beating the Steelers on the same day.

Add in the fact that the win moves them into a tie for first place, and suddenly people are going from talking about the season turning into a looming disaster of the highest order to wondering if this team won't be hosting a playoff game after all.

And certainly the takeaway from the first 9 weeks is that no one in the AFC North looks like an unambiguously good team, and anything can happen when you're in that kind of division. Thoughts from this week's game:

First and foremost in the wake of two bad losses in New York, it deserves to be pointed out what a HUGE difference getting so many key players back from the inactive list made.

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Steve Smith's return to the lineup after missing three games was a blessing for the Ravens, but the offense still struggled in the 21-14 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley made big plays on defense, Steve Smith had some key catches and drew attention just by being on the field, and Marshall Yanda and Ronnie Stanley (plus shifting Alex Lewis back to guard) significantly improved their pass protection, even against a much better pass rushing team than the Giants and Jets.

Ultimately winning and losing comes down to who makes plays at crucial moments, and when you're missing as many of your best playmakers as the Ravens were in their last two losses, you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back in many ways.

The defense, in particular, really was excellent all game long. Ben Roethlisberger was pretty clearly still hobbled by injury, even beyond his normal drama queen routine, but even accounting for that the Ravens' defenders played at a very high level.

The Steelers ran for just 36 yards on 2.0 yards per carry against a defensive front that was absolutely dominant in the trenches from beginning to end.

Antonio Brown was mostly bottled up through the games first three quarters, and the secondary did a phenomenal job of executing the gameplan to keep him in check. Really the entire Steelers offense was just a total non-factor until the Ravens went up 21-0 and called for the prevent defense in the fourth quarter.

That made the game look a lot close on paper, but it wasn't, and the Ravens were still playing fantastic even when the Steelers were scoring touchdowns. Everyone hates the prevent defense, and not always without merit, but that was a textbook example of a situation that called for exactly that strategy.

The clock was the Ravens' best friend, and Pittsburgh's only hope of salvaging a win was to hit a least one or two BIG plays. The Ravens simply didn't give them that, keeping the lid securely on the offense and forcing the Steelers to bleed a lot of clock to move the ball. By the time they pulled within a single score of Baltimore, there were only 48 seconds left on the clock, the Steelers had no timeouts, AND they needed to recover an onside kick to stay alive.

Sometimes fighting a war of attrition with the clock really is the best thing you can do, and this was one of those times.

Special teams continues to be the biggest wildcard area for the team. Once again, Justin Tucker and Sam Koch were outstanding and the unit came up with a blocked kick and a touchdown. But Devin Hester also continues to cost the team field position by not adequately fielding punts, and there haven't been many big plays in the return game to make up for it.

Now, win notwithstanding, it has to be said that the offense was once again awful. We already covered how bad the Steelers offense was on Sunday. Well the Steelers ended the game with more first downs (15) than the Ravens (13), and four of the Ravens' first downs came via penalties.

The Ravens somehow ended up with the same yards per play (4.3) and fewer yards per rush (1.7) than Pittsburgh as well.

The run game, in particular, has to be a concern, as this offensive line just isn't capable of opening up running lanes consistently at all. Joe Flacco again threw an unspeakably bad interception, this time in the red zone, and his mechanics and decision making are still a hot mess.

Take away the 95 yard touchdown "throw" to Mike Wallace and Flacco is 17-29 for a measly 146 yards. If Roethlisberger had played just a little bit better in the first three quarters, the Ravens probably lose this game because they still aren't even a respectable offensive unit.

For as fun as the game ended up being, there was a stretch in the first half where the penalty flags made it nearly unbearable. Ultimately the teams combined for 23 accepted penalties, and in defense of the referees, very few of these were "judgment" calls where they could have chosen to keep their flags in their pocket.

There were just a bunch of illegal formations, offsides, false starts, and at one point the Steelers had 12 men on the field on a Ravens' field goal attempt. The referees simply HAVE to call that stuff everytime, but it's also an absolute joke that you can have so many of those types of issues in one game, from both teams, at the professional level.

When people say that the quality of the on-field product has taken a dive in recent years and this is why people aren't watching as much football, this is what they mean.

If Roger Goodell doesn't want to go down as the guy who killed the NFL golden goose (or has the self-awareness to realize that there's even a problem), he needs to stop worrying about who he's going to fine for excessive dancing or who is going to hear disciplinary appeals and start figuring out how to get owners and players working constructively on changes that will elevate the talent level on the field once again.

STECCO
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Monday
November 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 7
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ravens use swarming defense, semi-pro play from big ben to beat steelers


It wasn’t pretty, but these days, a Ravens win rarely is a thing of beauty.

But make no mistake about it, the NFL is not taking that one back.

The Ravens beat the Steelers, 21-14, on Sunday in Baltimore and even though Mike Tomlin’s team contributed greatly to their own demise with three quarters of the worst offensive football we’ve seen in a long time, the truth of the matter is the Ravens outplayed Pittsburgh from start to finish yesterday.

The game looked a little bit like something played by the Ravens circa 2000. The defense was outstanding, both against the run and the pass, as Pittsburgh entered the third quarter with just two first downs and more penalty yards than offensive yards on the afternoon.

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Joe Flacco once again got the last laugh on the Steelers, something he's done quite often during his 9-year NFL career.

Whether Ben Roethlisberger was rattled because of Baltimore's stout defense or he was rusty after three weeks off due to knee surgery, that was about as bad as the Pittsburgh quarterback has looked against the Ravens since he entered the league in 2003. And here, I thought the key to the game was Roethlisberger suiting up and playing.

The Ravens offense wasn’t all that good as well, but that’s nothing new these days. Joe Flacco and Company – per their weekly standard – manged to score one touchdown in sixty minutes, while the Ravens special teams unit accounted for the other end zone entry.

But the story of the game was Baltimore's defense suffocating Pittsburgh's offense. The Steelers didn’t even pick up their third first down of the game until four minutes were gone in the fourth quarter. There’s inept, and then there’s that.

In short, the Ravens won yesterday because they produced a huge play on a pitch-catch-and-run from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace in the second quarter, then upped their lead to 21-0 in the 4th quarter on a blocked punt for a touchdown and a two point conversion.

And then, because nothing comes easy for the Ravens, the Steelers weaseled their way back into the game as Ben Roethlisberger suddenly figured out how to play again.

Pittsburgh struck for a pair of touchdowns in the 4th quarter and then had an onside kick attempt with 0:48 left on the clock, but Steelers kicker Chris Boswell swallowed the same dummy pill ingested by Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon during the recently completed baseball playoffs.

You know, The Dummy Pill: Something you take that keeps you from doing the obvious, smart thing, and instead makes you do the wacky, dumb thing.

Boswell, because, well, he’s a kicker and they’re not always confused with Rhodes Scholars, decided to try some goofy trickery with his feet on the onside kick and wound up essentially kicking the ball into the back of his right leg.

An onside kick is difficult enough to pull off without the kicker trying chicanery to throw off the receiving team. And, like bunting with two strikes, there’s zero room for error when you’re attempting an onside kick. If it doesn’t go at least ten yards, you lose the football.

Here's the video of Boswell's ill-attempted kick. Your guess is as good as mine...



So, who on earth knows what Chris Boswell was thinking about, but the botched onside kick took all the steam out of Pittsburgh’s last ditch comeback effort and dropped the Steelers to 4-4 while the Ravens improved to 4-4.

Oh, and Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley must have chomped on half of that dummy pill if he thought running the ball on the Ravens was the way to move up and down the field.

Then again, Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t complete a pass to a guy in white until about eight minutes were left in the game. And by then, it was basically too late.

All in all, it was a good win for the Ravens. When you’ve lost four in a row, any win is a good win, but this one was particular impressive given that Pittsburgh’s offense was essentially stymied by the Baltimore defense for the better part of fifty minutes.

At the halfway point of the season, it’s fair to say we’ve seen enough of the Ravens offense to know they’re very limited. The running game isn’t all that great, the passing game isn’t much better, and Joe Flacco still looks rusty and confused at times. You'll see a #DMD Reader's Poll below regarding Flacco. Feel free to participate.

But the defense, with everyone healthy, can be formidable on any given Sunday, as they were yesterday against the Steelers.

The Ravens will move to 5-4 this Thursday night once they easily dispose of the winless Browns, and then the heavy lifting begins for the final seven weeks of the campaign.

It’s looking more and more like nine wins is going to earn some team the AFC North title, and the Ravens schedule is just reasonable enough to have them win at least eight games (Cincy, Miami and Philly – all at home) between now and the end of December.

They’ll need at least one more win at Dallas, at New England, at Pittsburgh or at Cincinnati to reach that elusive nine win mark.

If they play defense in those final seven games like they played on Sunday against the Steelers, they just might threaten that nine win total.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Which of these two is the better "winner"?
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#3 seed, Michael Phelps
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around the nfl in thirty seconds


Cowboys 35 – Browns 10 -- Dallas is for real. Cleveland, not so much. Really starting to look like the Browns are going 0-16.

Chiefs 19 – Jaguars 14 -- K.C. won with Nick Foles at quarterback. That tells you something about them, even if it was Jacksonville they beat.

Dolphins 27 – Jets 23 -- Don’t look now but the Dolphins, who stink, are 4-4. And they can really run the ball. But they’re not beating anyone of substance.

Giants 28 – Eagles 23 -- Carson Wentz is looking a lot more like a rookie QB these days. And what fan in the stands caught Odell Beckham Jr.’s head when it got blasted off his shoulders on that helmet-to-helmet hit that wasn’t called?

Lions 22 – Vikings 16 OT -- Remember when the Vikings were 5-0 and headed to the Super Bowl? The Lions are now 5-4 and the Vikings are 5-3. And no one wants to win the NFC North.

Panthers 13 – Rams 10 -- The Panthers just need W’s. Doesn’t matter how they get them. They’re 3-5 now, but need a massive second half surge to get back in the post-season.

Saints 41 – 49er’s 23 -- There’s a chance, a slight one, granted, that the 49’ers might be as bad as the Browns. San Francisco is 1-7 and looking like they might not win again this season.

Chargers 43 – Titans 35 -- Don’t look now, but the Chargers are suddenly 4-5. They won’t win the AFC West, but they’re not going to be easy to beat over the last two months.

Colts 31 – Packers 26 -- Indy’s offense came alive at just the right time and the Packers are now officially in trouble; they’re 4-4 and have three straight road games coming up.

Raiders 30 - Broncos 20 -- Oakland might wind up being the team New England doesn't want to face come mid-January. Denver isn't chopped liver, and the Raiders handled them with relative ease on Sunday night.


show me the money, week #9


It looks like it was bounce-back week for the Ravens and #DMD.

I was able to put together a much-needed 5-1 record yesterday, my best Sunday of the season by far, winning with the Lions, Colts, Cowboys, Raiders and Ravens and losing only on the Titans, who got roughed up in San Diego.

Just think, had I wagered $5,000 per-game yesterday, I would have won a cool $20,000.

I even hit on the "Best Bet" offer, as I had Oakland beating Denver.

I feel like John Harbaugh this morning. I mean, I really, really (third really, coming up), REALLY needed that Sunday performance to help get my record back to a somewhat respectable level.

SEASON TO DATE: 24-30

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 5-1

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 2-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 5-4

KELLY
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calvert hall stuns curley with two late goals to capture miaa soccer crown


The word "instant classic" is overused a lot in sports, but we're going to throw it out there one more time to describe last night's MIAA A-Conference soccer title game between Calvert Hall and Curley.

It was, truly, an instant classic.

Calvert Hall scored with fourteen minutes left to tie the game, took the lead four minutes later, then held on for dear life down the stretch to turn back Curley, 3-2, and win the school's first soccer championship since 2003.

An overflow crowd of 2,500 jammed Anne Arundel Community College on a gorgeous weather night to see the battle between the two rivals.

Calvert Hall went up 1-0 midway through the first half on a long goal from senior Chris Carroll, who drove a bouncing ball into the penalty area from 35 yards out that somehow eluded the Curley goalkeeper.

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Senior co-captains Brady O'Connor (left) and Ben Alexander (right) hold up the MIAA A-Conference soccer trophy after Calvert Hall's 3-2 win over Curley.

Curley would tie the game at 1-1 late in the first half and then take the lead ten minutes into the second half on a long-range goal from their star forward, Alejandro Arbelaez.

Arbelaez, unfortunately, would also be involved in a critical play five minutes later that changed the entire complexion of the final twenty five minutes.

Ahead 2-1, the Friars were peppering the Calvert Hall goal and a loose ball found the foot of Curley's Ben Stitz, who calmly chipped over Calvert Hall goalkeeper Kyle Cooper to a waiting Arbelaez, stationed roughly eight yards from the front of the net. For reasons only he knows, the Curley star tried to pound the ball into the wide open goal instead of just soft-touching it in, and the shot caromed off the goalpost and out of harm's way.

“I thought not getting that third goal when we had a chance was, obviously as it turned out, a big part of the game. If we got that third one, we may have been able to close them out,” said Curley head coach Barry Stitz.

Energized -- and fortunate, honestly -- the Cardinals mounted their rally. After Ben Alexander was stopped on a one-on-one break with seventeen minutes left, the senior forward made up for it with a tremendous goal after a long feed from Brady O'Connor. Alexander's perfect header with just under fourteen minutes remaining tied the game at 2-2.

But Calvert Hall, and O'Connor, weren't done.

A long throw in from James Rosa was nodded backwards by O'Connor, who was facing away from the goal at a severe angle, but the ball's perfect trajectory was just enough to sneak under the crossbar and give Calvert Hall the lead at 3-2 with nine minutes left.

And then it was "hold on" time for the Cardinals, who split two games with the #1 seed Friars during the regular season and were handled rather easily, 3-1, in the final showdown between the two teams almost three weeks ago.

Curley drove the ball into the Calvert Hall end time-after-time in the final nine minutes, but didn't have many quality opportunities to tie the game, and Calvert Hall did what they needed to do to come out on top, 3-2.

“I just can’t say enough about all of our seniors,” said Calvert Hall head coach Rich Zinkand. “Ben Alexander, getting that equalizer, from Brady and then Brady getting the game winner. I don’t think you could have written a better ending for us this year, with those two. I didn’t want to add any pressure to the boys. It’s been 13 years since we’ve been here, but they knew, they understood it, and what an effort. I am so proud of them,” he added.

For Curley, it marked their second straight one-goal defeat in the A-Conference title game, having dropped a tough 2-1 decision to McDonogh last season.

“It’s gut wrenching," Stitz said afterwards. "I told them at the end, it hurts so bad because you put so much into it. When you put so much into it and you don’t get the result, you feel like the world is going to end. But, when you put that much into it, and you get the win, you feel like (Calvert Hall) did down there. That’s part of being a competitor and playing.”

Content from this story was provided in part by Varsity Sports Network, the area's leader in high school athletics coverage. For complete coverage of all fall playoffs throughout the state, visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com.

LYNCH
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Sunday
November 6
#DMD GAME DAY

week nine

Volume XXVIII
Issue 6
Baltimore Ravens (3-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: pick 'em


healthy and rested, ravens in good spot to beat steelers today


This is yet another one of those games where folks around town are calling it “must win” as the Ravens host the Steelers today at 1:00 pm at M&T Bank Stadium.

Nope. It’s not “must win”. The Ravens could lose today and still make the playoffs.

But it’s awfully close to must-win territory when you look at the team’s final seven games following this Thursday’s laugher-in-waiting at home against the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens need this one today, badly, and all signs are pointing to John Harbaugh’s club being in prime position to pull off a win against their AFC North rivals.

Several of the team’s key injured players are returning today, including All-Pro offensive guard Marshal Yanda. Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Ronnie Stanley were listed as “questionable” on Friday but all three look like they’ll play this afternoon.

Those four guys represent a critical component in today’s match-up with the Steelers. The team got off to a 3-0 start when Stanley started at left tackle earlier this season and Mosley was showing improvement against the pass throughout the early part of the campaign before he was injured a few weeks ago.

The Ravens could still lose even with those four starters back in the lineup (plus others, too, like Steve Smith Sr., who might return today), but it would definitely be a tall task without them.

The other injury that will dictate the outcome of today’s game has nothing at all to do with the Ravens.

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Originally thought to miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is listed as "questionable" for today's game in Baltimore against the Ravens.

Will Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger play? That’s the biggest question of the day, and the one that will do more to decide today’s game than anything else.

Roethlisberger suffered a knee injury three weeks ago today against Miami, then underwent minor knee surgery three days later and hasn’t played since.

He returned to practice this week and is officially listed as “questionable”, although most people feel he’s going to start today’s game vs. the Ravens.

As late as Saturday night, the Steelers were saying today’s starting quarterback will truly be a “game-time” decision.

This is akin to, let’s say, trying to get Edwin Encarnacion out in a critical situation with Ubaldo Jimenez or Zach Britton. With Jimenez, it’s likely Encarnacion will beat you. With Britton, it’s likely he won’t.

With Roethlisberger at quarterback today, it’s likely Pittsburgh wins. With Landry Jones at quarterback today, it’s likely Baltimore wins.

It really is that simple.

Now, could the Ravens beat Roethlisberger? Of course. They did it last year with half-a-team in late December in Baltimore, shocking the Steelers and Big Ben, although black-and-yellow apologists will remind everyone that Pittsburgh didn’t have Le’Veon Bell that day.

Either way, the Ravens beat Roethlisberger on a day when they had no business doing so given the respective records of the two teams last December.

It could happen again today, but the Baltimore defense will have to stiffen and that Ravens offense, listless as all get-out against the woeful Jets defense two weeks ago, will need to start percolating this afternoon in a big way.

This one really will come down to the two quarterbacks. If Roethlisberger plays (and I’m not as sold that he’s playing as everyone else is…) the odds shift in favor of Pittsburgh. If Landry Jones starts, the Ravens become clear favorites.

Either way, though, the Ravens have to win the game today.

Falling to 3-5 at the halfway point is one thing; but with an incredibly difficult second half schedule looming, the Ravens will be hard pressed to win seven games if they can’t pull this one off today.

And by the looks of the AFC North, 9-7 might very well be enough to win the division this year.

Not to look ahead, but that’s what we do here: A win today gets the Ravens to 4-4 and then they’re 5-4 on Friday morning this week after a pounding of the Browns on Thursday night.

That leaves them with seven chances to win four games to get to 9-7; home against Cincinnati, Miami and Philadelphia – away against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Dallas and New England.

There might be four wins in that group of seven. But the Ravens have to win today against Pittsburgh to get that ball rolling.

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show me the money, week #9


Much like the Ravens, I’m nearly in “must win” territory today.

After yet another 2-4 week in NFL week #8 last Sunday, I’m now 19-29 on the season against the spread. That’s not good.

Even worse, I’m 1-6 in games involving the Ravens.

I am a decent-enough 4-4 in my “Best Bet of the Day” selections, but you can’t put steak on the grill going 4-4 picking NFL games.

So, with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, let’s attack Week #9 and get some wins under our belt. And some steaks on the grill.

COWBOYS AT BROWNS (+7.5) -- I’ve been reading about it for two days now. “Trap game” the experts are writing, as the Cowboys visit the lowly and winless Browns. Really? Can the Browns stay within a touchdown of the Cowboys? I don’t see how, not with that awful Cleveland offense, although they did put up 28 points on the Jets last week. I’m going with Dallas here, in a semi-romp, 27-10, as the Browns fall to 0-9.

TITANS AT CHARGERS (-4.5) -- I want to take the Chargers here, but something tells me the Titans are a team on the uptick. And this is precisely the kind of game where they start to show themselves. I think Tennessee has enough variety on offense to get the job done today, so I’m going with the Titans to cover and win on the road, 28-23.

COLTS AT PACKERS (-7.5) -- Everything points to a Green Bay blowout here, right? Indy’s offensive line is terrible, the Packers can get after the quarterback, Green Bay’s offense is solid, Indy’s secondary is suspect, etc. But as much as I’m not 100% certain which Colts team shows up today, I’m also not sure which Green Bay team makes an appearance. I think Green Bay wins, but I’m going to take the Colts to cover here as the Packers score a 30-24 win.

LIONS AT VIKINGS (-6.5) -- A division game with a 6.5 point spread is always intriguing, especially if you like taking the underdog. In this case, the 4-4 Lions might be worth considering, especially since the Minnesota offense looks to be in shambles after two straight listless performances and Norv Turner “leaving” as their offensive coordinator. That’s enough to sell me on the Lions, so I’ll take Detroit to cover in a Minnesota 23-21 win.

BRONCOS AT RAIDERS (-1.5) -- This is the game of the week. A pair of 6-2 teams, one trying to back-up a title from a year ago and the other trying to show they’re worthy of title consideration this year. For some reason – and I know they lost at home to KC a few weeks back – I love the Raiders here. This is THEIR game to show they’re real, and I think they’re going to do it. I’m taking Oakland over Denver in this one, 24-21.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I love, love, love Oakland tonight in the Sunday Night game with Denver. I think the Raiders offense figures out a way to get the job done in that 24-21 win.


HOW DREW SEES THE RAVENS/STEELERS GAME – The game clearly hinges on the availability of Ben Roethlisberger and my guess is he does NOT start. If you’re Mike Tomlin, wouldn’t you go with Landry Jones at the outset to see how it goes and, only if needed, insert Big Ben at that point? Maybe I’m wrong and maybe Roethlisberger jogs out there at the start looking like a million bucks, but why risk your Hall of Fame quarterback in week nine three weeks removed from knee surgery?

All signs point to the Ravens getting their injured players back en masse today, which should really give them a huge boost of confidence. It’s easy to say “If Big Ben plays, Pittsburgh wins and if he doesn’t, Pittsburgh loses”, and that’s sort of the way I look at it, but my call today is the Ravens figure out a way to steal this one with Landry Jones playing most of the game and Roethlisberger coming in during the second half to try and pull off the comeback. Baltimore snaps their 4-game losing streak with a 26-20 win.

KELLY
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stay away from the 4-letter network and just come here for the good stuff


Maryland football now knows what Bluefield State's women's basketball team felt like earlier this week in a 146-17 loss to the Lady Terps. You read that right. Maryland won by 129 points.

The Terps got smashed in Ann Arbor yesterday, losing 59-3 to the #3 ranked Michigan Wolverines, as Michigan poured it on in the 4th quarter even when they were up 45-3.

I understand a little more why Michigan would win by 56 than why Maryland's women's team would feel compelled to beat someone by 129 points. The Maryland-Michigan game was an actual regular season contest, with national championship hopes involved -- for the Wolverines, that is.

The Maryland women's basketball game was a pre-season affair. Afterwards, coach Brenda Frese called it a "good tuneup" for her team, which I guess makes sense if one of your goals was to humiliate the opposition.

That said, and for the record, I'm against "running up the score" at any level of sports except professional, I also have to wonder why Bluefield State took the game in the first place. I know why Maryland football played in Ann Arbor yesterday. The Terps took a big check to be in the Big Ten and occasionally they have to step up in class and get smacked around by the likes of Ohio State and Michigan. But why would Bluefield State visit one of the nation's best women's teams and go into the game knowing they were going to lose by 100?

Other than a nice bus ride to Washington D.C. during indian summer and the chance to play in a "real" arena like the Xfinity Center, why on earth would the coach of Bluefield State schedule that game in the first place? I just don't get it.

My buddy Phil Stern at UMBC has the Lady Terps on his schedule this December, in College Park, as well. I plan to be there for the big upset...

Back to Maryland football for a second -- they've made some progress under first year coach D.J. Durkin, that's for sure. But we probably shouldn't use yesterday's fiasco at Michigan to judge just HOW MUCH progress they've made. Yesterday, they looked like Big Ten bottom feeders.


The Capitals got off to a slow start last night and were actually trailing the visiting Florida Panthers early in the third period, 2-1, but goals from Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie gave Washington the lead and they added an insurance goal to win, 4-2, at Verizon Center.

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T.J. Oshie had two goals for the Caps in Saturday night's 4-2 win over Florida which improved Washington's record to 8-2-1 on the young season.

That's not the biggest story to come out of D.C. this week, though, as Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis bellyached to the Washington Post about how bad of a deal his two main tenants have at the Verizon Center, located in Chinatown in downtown D.C.

Leonsis said his building deal "is among the worst two or three in all of sports" and cited the interest on his $36 million mortgage as one of the reasons he would look at moving the two teams to another building somewhere in the Capital district if one gets built sometime soon.

His WNBA team, the Mystics, will be moving into a 4,200 seat arena in D.C. in a couple of years, as Leonsis looks to get them into a better financial situation.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention about Leonsis and the Verizon Center "deal". Guess who owns the arena?

Leonsis.

He's complaining to the Washington Post about a mortgage situation involving a building HE owns.

This, of course, is code word for "I want the taxpayers to pay for a new building and then I'll get a sweetheart deal from the city in order to have my teams play there" -- sort of what the Orioles have had at Camden Yards for the last twenty five years. But hearing (in this case, reading) Leonsis complain about a $36 million mortgage on a building HE owns is hilarious.


Back to college football for a second, Alabama dodged another bullet last night with a 10-0 win at LSU, as the Crimson Tide won for the 21st consecutive game to maintain their stranglehold on the #1 spot in the nation.

Alabama football really IS amazing. They can beat you 46-42 or 10-0.

As much as Nick Saban has been maligned for some of his "tough ways", there's no doubt at all about his ability to coach young football players. Those kids come to Alabama and they play hard for him, every freakin' Saturday.

Saban has a lot of great quotes associated with his coaching and leadership skills, but here's my favorite: "We kind of have a generation now that doesn't always get told "no". They don't always get told, 'This is exactly how you need to do it.' So they have this illusion they have all these choices. But the fact of the matter is, if you want to be good, you don't really have a lot of choices, because it takes what it takes."

What it took on Saturday night at LSU was for Alabama to score just ten points. And hold the Tigers to zero points.

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Saturday
November 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 5
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has ravens-steelers lost its "juice"?


Once again yesterday during my weekly visit with my old radio pal Glenn Clark, we stumbled onto a subject that gave us fifteen minutes of some solid sports pondering: Has the Ravens-Steelers rivalry lost its juice?

Clark brought up the question earlier in the week during his show and then threw it at me early on yesterday to garner my opinion. "What do you think?" he asked, "Does it feel like anyone in town this week is worked up about the Steelers visit on Sunday?"

The answer is "No, it doesn't."

One need only to look at his/her Facebook page to see how many folks are dumping their tickets to this one. That's a great (or not) barometer for judging how the masses feel about a game. And there are Ravens everywhere unloading their tickets at face value for this Sunday's game in Baltimore.

There are a variety of reasons why this is the case, but none probably make more sense than the most obvious one: The Ravens have lost four games in a row, went 5-11 last year, and look as if they might once again post a sub-.500 season in 2016. In short: the team might not be any good and people are less interested in a team of that nature.

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Anytime the teams meet, fans of both the Ravens and Steelers attend the game, but does this week's contest in Baltimore "feel" like a typical Ravens-Steelers showdown?

Even when the Steelers are in town, the game doesn't have the same "juice" if they both aren't playing good football.

That's one theory. It's not the only theory, mind you, but it's the one that carries the most weight, in my opinion.

I think part of it rests with the fact that the folks in town who follow the Ravens rabidly, still, would be a lot more jacked up about the game if they knew, for certain, that Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was going to play on Sunday.

Yeah, yeah, I know, "Ben's playing, Drew, you know that..." but that's not what I mean. I think he's playing on Sunday, no matter what the injury report ("Questionable") reads coming out of Pittsburgh. But I'm not 100% certain he's playing.

Any Baltimore-Pittsburgh game NOT involving Roethlisberger is boring, plain and simple. The win counts the same, if the Ravens pull it off, but the game lacks an abundance of cachet without Big Ben behind center.

If Roethlisberger had been playing all season uninjured and was buzzing into this Sunday's game healthy and primed for the showdown with the Ravens, I think the game would be more interesting to us here in Baltimore.

It would be to me, at least.

And, as I told Clark yesterday, I think there's a general malaise about the league and the sport of football right now that also has folks listless about not only this week's home game, but any home game for that matter.

The Ravens-Steelers rivalry might have lost its juice, but it hasn't lost nearly as much juice as the entire NFL has over the last 12 months.

Maybe that's just the way we feel here in Charm City because our team has been stinking it up.

Perhaps the folks in Dallas are wildly in love with the Cowboys and the NFL. Same in New England. Maybe the fans in Oakland are excited about their team again with the emergence of Derek Carr and a chance to make the playoffs.

This definitely could just be a "Baltimore thing".

And, for all I know, maybe a win tomorrow over the Steelers will get our city "juiced" about the Ravens again.

Nothing gets everyone back on the bandwagon like beating Pittsburgh, with or without Roethlisberger.

But something's not right. It's just not the same. It doesn't feel like this Steelers visit is any different than, say, a home game with Miami or Kansas City.

When you can check a friend's Facebook page and get a good ticket in the upper deck for $75, you know something's wrong.

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#dmd sports i. q. test
question one


Query: What honor did Ben Hogan receive that Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods have never received?

X

This is a tough question. For those perceptive enough to glean the answer, there should be some meaningful reward. So if you come up with the correct answer before reading it below, just tell Drew that you did, and he will treat you to a glass of wine or buy you a beer.

Clue #1: Ben Hogan has been honored with this award once. But that is not the most times the award has been bestowed. Bobby Jones was feted twice, once in 1926 for his wins in the U.S. Open and Open Championship and again in 1930 after he won all four titles in what was then styled the Grand Slam.

X

Clue #2: The award is not some arcane honor that has long been discontinued. It is still bestowed in this “modern” time, and its name will be immediately recognized by almost everyone.

Tough indeed, yes?

Clue #3: Perhaps knowing the venue of the award will help. This requires a brief, off-topic digression.

In 1935 Douglas Corrigan, an aircraft mechanic, wanted to make the first non-stop flight from New York to Ireland. He bought a plane and outfitted it with extra fuel tanks. But the U. S. aviation authority of the time refused to certify the aircraft for the flight. Corrigan re-modified the plane but was still unable to get it certified. Two more times he applied for certification – twice more was rejected.

X

In 1938 Corrigan gassed up his second-hand 1929 Curtiss Robin OX-5 monoplane, filed a flight plan stating his route to be Long Beach, California to Bennett Field in Brooklyn, then back again to Long Beach. After landing in Brooklyn, Corrigan had a steak, took a shower, then jumped in his plane and flew 28 hours non-stop to Baldonnel Aerodrome in Dublin.

When Corrigan returned to America, he reported [with a straight face] that he had become disoriented because of fog on takeoff, causing him to misread his compass, and that he only realized he was headed east instead of west when more than halfway across the Atlantic. The authorities, along with everyone else on the planet, knew that Corrigan had purposely flown to Ireland — but Corrigan didn't admit it and they couldn’t prove it. [Corrigan never did admit his true intention—even his autobiography is titled “That’s My Story . . .”] The New York Post deemed him “Wrong Way” Corrigan, and began the tongue-in-cheek clamor for him to be awarded the honor.

In this age, “Wrong Way” would be blown out of the sky by F-15s, and if he survived, would spend decades in federal prison. Times haven’t changed but people have. Cosmopolitan citizens of the Big Apple, with their wry senses of humor and healthy and refreshing disdain for paternalistic and pompous authority, joined the Post’s clamor for Corrigan to be feted. He was, on August 5, 1938.

The previous clue should have been enough for you to name the award. But we’ll give one more (so you can win that glass of wine or beer) before giving the answer.

X

Clue #4: The recipient need not be a person, or even a living thing, to receive the honor, and need not be present at the award of the honor.

These criteria were established informally on the first bestowal of the award, on October 28, 1886. On this day the Statue of Liberty was dedicated, and it was she who was accorded the inaugural award. President Grover Cleveland and dignitaries assembled on a stand to review marchers from all over America. The route was marked out from from Madison Square to Battery Park to Manhattan by way of Fifth Avenue. All along the route, office workers threw confetti on the marchers, and the greatest amount of confetti was thrown by workers at the New York Stock Exchange, who threw hundreds of miles of torn up ticker tape. [Young people should ask their grandparents what a ticker was, and why it required tape.]

And so began the grand tradition of the Ticker Tape Parade!

Many men and women of note, both Americans and foreigners, have been accorded the honor of a ticker tape parade. Foreign royalty and heads of state, military heroes, and sports champions have been so honored. Admiral Richard Byrd, a hero of two wars and an intrepid explorer, has been thrice feted. Two-time honorees are George Fried (sea captain who twice valiantly commanded rescue missions of passengers and crews of sinking ships), Bobby Jones, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post, Dwight Eisenhower, Charles de Gaulle, Haile Selassie, John Glenn, and Alcide De Gasperi (prime minister of Italy from 1945 to 1953).

X

In 1953, Ben Hogan had won the most important American tournament [the U. S. Open, his fourth – the Masters was just another tour stop back then] and then traveled to Carnoustie to win Europe’s most prestigious event. [Even had Hogan been physically able to play in the PGA Championship, he couldn't have done so, because dates of The Open and the PGA overlapped.] After his return on the luxury passenger-liner SS United States, Hogan was given a ticker tape parade. In addition to the certificate presented by New York Mayor Vincent Impellitteri at the ceremony held at the end of the parade, Hizzoner proclaimed Hogan to be the best golfer in the world. James Dodson, in his book, Ben Hogan: An American Life (New York: Doubleday; 2004), eloquently described the scene:

Golf's original Grand Slam had been so named by O. B. Keeler, who borrowed the term from the game of bridge, meaning a hand in which a team contracts to win all 13 tricks. Keeler was ostensibly a reporter for the Atlanta Journal but was primarily the agent, bagman, and bootlegger for Bobby Jones. When Jones in 1930 won the U.S. Amateur, the British Amateur, the U. S. Open, and the British Open, Keeler glorified his client in an article in which he wrote:

"This victory, the fourth major title in the same season and in the space of four months, had now and for all time entrenched Bobby Jones safely within the 'Impregnable Quadrilateral of Golf,' that granite fortress that he alone could take by escalade, and that others may attack in vain, forever."

In mid-June of 1960, after Arnold Palmer had won the U.S. Open, Palmer's agent and pitchman, Cleveland lawyer Mark McCormack, conceived the idea of increasing his client's popularity and marketability by publicizing Palmer's attempt to capture golf's mythical Grand Slam. Since Palmer was a professional, he was ineligible for the two amateur events that comprised half of Keeler's "impregnable quadrilateral." Therefore it fell to McCormack to name the three tournaments, in addition to the U.S. Open, that would comprise the modern Grand Slam, and which Palmer would have to win to take the granite fortress by escalade.

In 1960, the PGA Championship was universally considered a "major" championship. Also in its favor was the fact that it had been converted from a match-play event to stroke play in 1958. Therefore that championship was required to be a part of McCormack's modern Grand Slam. Because Ben Hogan was honored with a ticker tape parade after his 1953 win in the British Open, that championship too had to be considered a part of the modern Slam. Thus McCormack had to designate one more tournament to be part of his brainstorm.

Although McCormack was a full-time agent, he still had a lawyer's heart. He figured, if he had to name a tournament his client must win, why not pick a tournament that Palmer had already won? That would make things a little bit easier! In 1960, Arnie was on fire. In addition to the U.S. Open, he had already won the Palm Springs Desert Classic, the Texas Open, the Baton Rouge Open, the Pensacola Open, and the Masters Tournament. The events in Palm Springs and Baton Rouge were more clambake than golf tournament, so McCormack quickly crossed them off his list. The Pensacola Open was without tradition – it was first played in 1956 – so that too could be eliminated. That left either the Masters Tournament or the Texas Open as the fourth leg.

The Texas Open had a much longer tradition than the Masters, and until recently had paid its winners more than the Masters did. The Texas event was held at clubs near San Antonio, a big city, while the Masters was held at Augusta, a town where not much happened and the main draws for the touring pros were visits with Bobby Jones, good corn whiskey, and the chance to watch the caddies' free-for-all fistfights in the evenings. And everyone knew Jones' days were numbered. But Palmer was chasing Hogan's legacy, and in Hogan's parade year of 1953 when he won the British Open and the U.S. Open, he had also won the Masters. So McCormack, with Palmer's input and blessing, "announced" that the Masters was one of the four "major" tournaments that made up the modern Grand Slam.

The sweating crowd erupted in applause and cheers as Hogan accepted [President Eisenhower's] telegram and stood blinking at it in the bright filtered sunlight falling through canyons of concrete and steel. For a lengthy moment, even after the crowd had quieted back down, he was unable to find his voice. Finally he motioned [his wife] Valerie to his side and draped an arm around her shoulders.

"It would take me forever to tell you what was . . . in my heart right now," he began, then cleared his throat. "Only in America and New York City could such a thing happen to a little guy like me." He paused again and glanced at Valerie. She beamed encouragingly at him.

"I have a tough skin," he resumed, his voice cracking with emotion, "but I have a soft spot in my heart . . . and . . . and . . . this tops anything that has ever happened to me. Right now I feel like crying. This is the greatest moment of my life."

'Then Ben choked up,' wrote Associated Press reporter Will Grimsley. 'Nobody had ever seen Ben Hogan choke up before. But he did. This was the grim and hard-bitten master of the fairways — rawhide and cold steel, the man without nerves, the mechanical man, they called him. It was just too much for the Fort Worth, Texas, blacksmith's son.'


(click an image to enlarge it)



Ben Hogan would not win another of what we call today "major" championships. He finished second in the Masters in 1954 and '55, with his putting becoming an embarrassment.

He three-putted away the 1954 U.S. Open in a windy and rainy third round, scoring 76 and ultimately losing to Ed Furgol by five strokes.

In 1955, he was soundly beaten by Jack Fleck in a playoff for the U.S. Open title.

In 1956, a three-putt at the 71st hole left him a stroke behind the winner, Cary Middlecoff, in another National Open disappointment.

In the 1960 U.S. Open a disastrous miscalculation allowed Arnold Palmer to win his only U.S. Open title. Playing with Nicklaus in a group ahead of Palmer, Hogan (correctly, as it turned out) determined that he needed to birdie the par-5 71st hole to win. On their third shots, Hogan watched Nicklaus do what Hogan knew he would do – pitch to the center of the green, then eventually three-putt from above the hole. Then Hogan hit what would have been a perfect shot on 98% of the golf courses in the world, a soft pitch to hole-high. But this was Cherry Hills in Denver, 5,280 feet above sea level, and at that altitude, the reduced atmospheric resistance didn't take as much spin off the ball as Hogan had sensed it would. He watched his "perfect" shot hit hole high, then suck back the five or six feet he expected. But the ball kept rolling backwards, slowly, until it hit the edge of the bank and rolled into the creek fronting the green.

Hogan would win only one more tournament in his career, although from 1954 to 1967, he was rarely out of the top ten in the few tournaments he played. He won the 1959 Colonial National Invitation Tournament in extremely windy conditions. A spectator who followed Hogan through most of the holes in the four rounds said he never saw Hogan hit a shot higher than 25 feet above the ground.

Although Colonial was the last of Hogan's wins by date, his record was officially updated in 1995 to include his win at the 1953 British Open Championship. The PGA Tour made the adjustment in retroactive recognition of the general acceptance of Mark McCormack's public-relations pronouncement that the Open was a "major" championship.

The ticker tape parade has lost almost all of its traditional national luster in the last 25 years—parades have been held almost exclusively since 1991 to fete mere local New York professional sports teams that have won league championships.

The two bright exceptions to this quarter-century trend have been the honoring of the U. S. Women’s Soccer Team in 2015 and a parade for the crew of Space Shuttle Discovery in 1998.

It is sad, and symbolic because of its absence, that either our country feels it has no heroes worthy of recognition or doesn't have the time, energy, or inclination to recognize them. I'd like to see a facetious parade for someone with credentials similar to those of Douglas Corrigan — Buck Showalter, for example — but that's too much to hope for in this politically correct, uncompromising, cynical, and self-consciously serious time. But, after suffering through this mind-numbingly uncivil, guttersnipe vs. dirtball election campaign, it would be uplifting to have someone to turn our lonely eyes to, — — woo woo woo.


KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


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Friday
November 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 4
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you'll always remember where you were (if you stayed up that late for the finish)


As a nation of sports enthusiasts soaked in the glory of the Cubs finally winning the World Series, I thought about something on Thursday: I'll never forget where I was when Kris Bryant gobbled up that grounder, smile on his face and all, and rifled a throw to first base that ended 108 years of misery.

I was in my living room, my 9-year old son having tuckered out by the seventh inning or so, watching it all unfold from the cozy comforts of a reclining chair. Only I was standing for the final out.

I'm not sure why, but my instincts told me to get up, so I did. I got out of their chair and stood upright after the second out was recorded (by the way, I'm not 100% sure Rizzo's foot was on the bag when he caught that ball for out #2, but no one said anything...).

And I was standing when the final out was made and the celebration commenced.

I'll never forget it.

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One of those rare sports moments you remember forever.

So, on Thursday, I thought for a few minutes about some other iconic sports moments in my life that DIDN'T involve hometown teams that I was rooting for and/or supporting.

I remember quite vividly watching the Orioles win the '83 World Series and I was at Memorial Stadium well after midnight when the team arrived back at 33rd Street.

I was working for the Blast the following June when we captured the MISL title at the Baltimore Arena and recall standing in the corner on the Howard Street side of the building, peering through the plexi-glass as the final seconds ticked off and Charm City had its own soccer champion.

I remember where I was when the Ravens won their first Super Bowl and I was in the building in New Orleans for the second one.

But those should be remembered, of course. They involved my teams.

The moments I reflected on yesterday were those with no direct connection to me or my fandom, other than I love "big moments", "championship games" and those games that stand out as once-in-a-lifetime circumstances.

My other three most memorable events that I've witnessed in no specific order (yet):

I was a youth hockey player and ice hockey was probably my best sport growing up, so the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey win over the Soviet Union still stands out to me as one of those moments I'll never forget. I remember watching it with a high school girlfriend of mine in Glen Burnie, with her parents and brother in the room as well, everyone screaming at the TV set as Al Michaels launched into his famous last-second call, "Do you believe in miracles?"

Some folks forget that game wasn't for the gold medal. It was actually a semi-final affair that got the Americans into the final against Finland.

We remember it so much for both the political and sports impact that we tend to overlook the fact that the U.S. team still had an even bigger game to win a couple of days later, which they did.

But I definitely remember where I was that night.

I also recall where I was the night Bill Buckner let that ground ball go through his legs as the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, 6-5.

Once again, that wasn't the final game of the series. It was Game 6 at Shea Stadium.

I had been at a party in Severna Park earlier that evening and when a friend and I cut out early, we stopped at a place that I think still exists just south of Millersville on Route 301 called "Northway Liquors".

There was a bar attached to the liquor store, and we sat down in the 7th inning and watched the rest of the game from there. I distinctly remember my buddy Jack Schmidt saying after the second out in the bottom of the 10th inning, "Let's roll on out of here..."

And I said, "Wait...I want to see the celebration after the third out. That's always fun to watch."

The third out never happened, of course. The Mets mounted a crazy rally aided by Buckner's fielding gaffe and won Game 6, then won Game 7 to capture the title.

The other moment I remember like it was yesterday was the 2005 Masters when Tiger Woods made one of the most spectacular shots in the history of golf on the 16th hole in Sunday's final round.

We had just finished a Maryland State Golf Association "A-Team Match" at Mountain Branch and the whole team was gathered in the bar to watch the back nine at Augusta National.

I was in the second seat at the beginning of the bar, nursing a beer and watching Woods turn back DiMarco, who played out of his mind for the first three days of the event and then got a visit from the Cleat of Reality -- and Woods -- on Sunday afternoon.

Folks might not remember DiMarco led after each of the first two rounds and if not for a Saturday rainstorm that halted play, might have very well led through 54 holes as well.

But when Sunday's play began and they finished the final nine holes of what should have been Saturday's third round, Woods went for the jugular and wound up leading by three shots as the fourth and final round began shortly after 3 pm.

With Tiger ahead by one shot in the final round, both he and DiMarco made birdie at #15. Woods then hit his tee-shot on #16 long and left, prompting one Mountain Branch regular, a known anti-Tiger guy, to scream out, "That's a bogey boys!!!"

Ummmmm...not quite. In fact, he didn't even make par.

Woods holed perhaps the greatest shot in major championship history, from the standpoint of technique and playing the shot to perfection, that is. It's one thing if he half-blades it back there and it strikes the pin and goes in, the way Tom Kite's shot did at the U.S. Open in 1992 at Pebble Beach when he holed out at #7 from off the green. You'd simply say, "That's golf, weird stuff happens when the pin gets in the way."

Tiger hit that shot perfectly...

And I remember rising up from the chair as it sat on the edge of the hole, and then roaring with everyone else in the bar as it fell in for birdie.

Tiger, some don't remember, would bogey #17 and #18 to fall into a tie with DiMarco, but would later win his 4th (and to this point, final) green jacket on the first playoff hole after DiMarco nearly chipped in from off the green in front of him.

Below is a video recap of those three moments above. I'd put the Cubs winning the World Series in there, too, but something tells me you've seen that moment about 134 times in the last two days if you've watched TV or logged on to the internet since early Thursday morning.



An old girlfriend's house...Northway Liquors...and the Mountain Branch bar. I remember those places and the sports history I watched unfold there, in the same way twenty years from now I'll remember standing up in my living room at 12:46 am on November 3, 2016 and watching the Chicago Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

And what about you? What sort of memorable sporting events do you recall with the same kind of clarity that I outlined above? Throw 'em in the comments section below, please.

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curley, calvert hall will meet for miaa soccer title this sunday


It turns out the third time was the charm for Calvert Hall.

After losing twice to #2 Mount Saint Joseph during the regular season, the #3 Cardinals scratched out a 1-0 road win on Thursday afternoon to advance to Sunday's MIAA A-Conference boys' soccer title game against Curley, who knocked off visiting McDonogh on Thursday, 3-1.

Sunday's game begins at 5:30 pm at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, MD.

The two title game finalists split a pair of games during the regular season, with Calvert Hall winning 2-1 at home in September and losing 3-1 at Curley just sixteen days ago.

At Mount Saint Joseph yesterday, Calvert Hall senior Chris Carroll scored a terrific goal with 16 minutes remaining, taking a give-and-go from Ben Alexander and pounding a shot from 20 yards out into the upper right corner of the net for the game's only tally.

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Good friends Barry Stitz (Curley, right) and Rich Zinkand (Calvert Hall, left) will coach against one another in Sunday's MIAA soccer title game.

Carroll, known more for his work in the midfield as a playmaker, not a goal-scorer, was the game's best player by far on Thursday. He jammed up the middle of the field well, played several effective balls down the line into open space to help create Calvert Hall goal-scoring chances, then capitalized on a rare scoring opportunity of his own.

Senior and University of Kentucky bound-Alexander was an offensive threat in the box throughout the 80 minutes and freshman Ben Bender was an impressive workhorse in the midfield until he was subbed with ten minutes to play.

Both teams looked satisfied with playing more defense than offense, but the Cardinals were clearly better going forward when the chances were there for them.

Mount Saint Joseph, a junior-laden team who had a superb regular season, just didn't have their engine operating on all cylinders on Thursday. Gone was the solid one-touch soccer they played at Calvert Hall two weeks ago in a 1-0 win -- and most of the second half saw them sending harmless balls into the Calvert Hall defensive end hoping for a miscue by a player in red and gold.

Each goalkeeper did manage to make a couple of nice stops, but after Carroll scored with 16 minutes to play, the Gaels didn't produce anything dangerous to speak of in their offensive end, a testament to Calvert Hall's defensive effort in the game's final quarter hour.

At Curley on Thursday, the #1 Friars jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on #4 McDonogh and went on to finish off the Eagles 3-1, in a rematch of last year’s championship game. Junior Ben Stitz led the way with a goal and two assists.

Senior Matt Brummet, with an assist from Stitz, put the Friars on the board with a goal with 25 minutes to play in the opening half. Stitz made it 2-0 for the Friars when he drilled a shot off the post and into the net, in the 25th minute, with senior Alejandro Arbalaez assisting.

McDonogh got one back, with eight minutes left in the opening half, and it remained a one goal game until the clock ticked down to 5 minutes to play in the second half. That’s when Curley's Arbalaez, again with Stitz assisting, iced the victory and Curley’s second consecutive trip to the MIAA A final with a goal.

“We played really well today,” said Curley coach Barry Stitz. “We are at a good place right now with the way we have been playing the last 2-3 weeks. We get a little better each game and if we keep playing like this, I like our chances.”

On Sunday, Curley will be seeking its fourth MIAA A-Conference championship and its first since 2006. Calvert Hall has won four league titles, but none since 2003.

“They are a very good team,” Stitz said of Calvert Hall. “They have some of the best players in the league. We know its going to be a tight game and it’s going to come down to which team makes the plays.”

Zinkand -- close personal friends with Stitz -- had similar thoughts on the final.

"It's going to be an exciting final," said the Calvert Hall coach. "Two good teams with great soccer traditions. It should be fun."

Content above was contributed in part by Varsity Sports Network, the area's leader in high school athletics coverage. For comprehensive coverage of all local fall high school sports championships going on in the area right now, please visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com.

KELLY
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this weekend in
english soccer


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

With four of the top five teams in the league claiming maximum points, and the top five teams separated by only three points, the log jam that began to take shape at the top of the table last weekend is showing few signs that it will begin to break apart anytime soon as we approach Matchday 11 of the English Premier League. Enjoy this while you can, and tune in this weekend to catch every game live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, November 5 (all times eastern)

1:30pm – Everton @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC

Romelu Lukaku’s ninth goal in as many games against West Ham United ended the Hammers two match winning streak and sent Everton on their way to their first league win since late September (D2 L2), with the Belgium’s assist to Ross Barkley late on making it 2-0 to officially put the game to bed. They will travel to London’s Stamford Bridge for Saturday’s primetime fixture hoping to close the four-point gap the in-form Chelsea currently holds two spots above them in the table, after the Blues eased past Southampton by the same score line to grab their fourth consecutive league win.

Everton will not have fond memories of their recent trips to the capital. In a streak that dates all the way back to 1994, the Toffees have failed to take all three in points in their last twenty-one league visits to Stamford Bridge (D10 L11). To break that trend, they will have to solve Antonio Conte and Chelsea’s 3-5-2 formation, which has been the catalyst for the Blues rise up the table and which Everton struggled against earlier this season in their visit to Manchester City, where they somehow managed to salvage a 1-1 draw but were thoroughly dominated throughout, fortunate not to get run out of the stadium.

Sunday, November 6 (all times eastern)

7am – Tottenham @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sport Network

Arsenal remained unbeaten on the road since February of this year (W5 D5) when three goals in a seven minute second half span saw the Gunners leave little doubt against an increasingly doomed Sunderland side 4-1. They will kick off the busy Sunday slate when they welcome arch rivals Tottenham to the Emirates Stadium for the North London Derby, with Spurs maintaining their perfect start to the season (W5 D5) but once again failing to keep pace with their neighbors and the rest of the top of the table after they were unable to hold a first half lead and dropped points in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City.

Despite enjoying their best ever start to a Premier League campaign, a third draw in as many weeks has left Tottenham dangerously close to falling off the blistering pace that the top three sides in the table have been setting, with a potentially insurmountable six point deficit staring them in the face if they falter at the weekend against the Gunners, who enter the Derby in fine form, having clinched their passage to the knockout rounds of the Champions League in the mid-week, and who are unbeaten in the league since their opening day defeat to Liverpool, winning seven of their last nine games (D2).

10am – Manchester United @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC Sports Network

X
Former U.S. National team coach Bob Bradley has his hands full at Swansea, where his new side has claimed just one tie in his first three matches as their new head man.

Despite tallying a video game like thirty-seven shots throughout, eleven of which were on goal, Manchester United failed to find the back of the next for the third game running, with former United academy product Tom Heaton stopping everything they threw his way in a 0-0 stalemate with Burnley. They will hope to break their scoreless drought when they travel to face the struggling Swansea City, who remained winless since the opening weekend of the season after losing for the seventh time in their last nine games (D2) in a 3-1 defeat to the surging Stoke City (W3).

The poor run of form has already led to the dismissal of manager Francesco Guidolin, and the pressure is already starting to build on his replacement, former USA national team manager Bob Bradley. The first American to take charge of a Premier League side, Bradley has managed only one point from his first three matches as the Swans sit second from the bottom and five points from safety ahead of their visit from United, who themselves are winless in their last four league games (D3 L1) and have lost four of their last six matches against the Welsh side, including their last two visits to the Liberty Stadium.

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Thursday
November 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 3
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that was the best night of sports i've ever seen in my 53 years


I don't even know what to say.

I'll do my best to not use too many adverbs or adjectives to describe last night's "incredibly dramatic" World Series Game 7 in Cleveland, but just about anything I write here won't do that game justice.

It was the best baseball game I've ever seen, for sure.

Go ahead and use "greatest" if you prefer. I'd buy that, too. Others around the country are already saying it.

"Best", of course, has a variety of definitions in this case. It wasn't the "cleanest" game ever played, as there were errors and fundamental mistakes, but from the standpoint of entertainment and emotionally connecting to both the winner and loser, Wednesday night's 8-7 win by the Chicago Cubs was the best game I've witnessed.

X
The picture you see here hasn't been shot since 1908. It shows the Chicago Cubs celebrating a World Series title.

It left two of the most respected journalists in the country -- Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci -- with tears in their eyes as they interviewed players in the immediate on-field aftermath. I didn't cry as I sat there watching it all, but I sure could have.

The whole thing was that freakin' good.

The Cubs put the lid on 108 years of frustration by pulling out a game they probably deserved to lose based simply on the overwhelming gambles their manager took with his pitching staff throughout the final five innings.

Then again, coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the series and winning the final two games on the road to win the World Series would make any team deserving of a title, let alone that franchise in Chicago which hadn't won a World Series since 1908.

You can use any sports cliche you want and they fit: "No one deserved to lose that game", "The real winner was the game of baseball", "The Indians have nothing to be ashamed of". True, true and true. Sure, the Indians are disappointed (and, maybe, somewhat ashamed) at squandering a 3-1 series lead, but just like getting 27 outs in a game is designed to be difficult, so, too, is winning four games in a series.

Lots of teams win three games in a series. Only the champions win four.

The Cubs might have won last night's game because of a rain delay, funny enough.

It wasn't long -- roughly 24 minutes from start to finish -- but it provided them with enough time for Jason Heyward to gather the National League Champs in a weight room and remind them of just how good they were all season and in the playoffs.

"I didn't stand there and tell them we needed to win, because they knew that already," Heyward said after the game. "I just reminded them of who they were as players and how good they all had been throughout the season, starting back in March in spring training. I just told them to let that player come out in the 10th inning or the 11th inning or however long it took us to win the game."

Much like the lights going out in New Orleans in the 2013 Super Bowl gave the 49'ers a chance to re-group, the rain delay prior to the start of the 10th inning gave the Cubs a chance to catch their breath after a wild 20 minutes saw them cough up a 6-3 lead in the 8th inning.

As I watched it unfold, I didn't think the Cubs could recover from that kind of body blow. You just don't rebound from being four outs away from winning the World Series -- with three runs to spare, no less -- and then having it all crumble right in front of you.

But they did recover.

The victory certainly saved Joe Maddon from a winter of scrutiny, as he made curious-pitching-decisions like Trump makes ill-advised-remarks about women.

The Cubs' manager panicked and lifted starter Kyle Hendricks in the 5th inning when Hendricks clearly had plenty left in the tank. John Smoltz, who was outstanding throughout the series as FOX Sports' lead analyst, summed it up perfectly: "Never make a pitching change that leaves the other team happy."

Even though his replacement, Jon Lester, performed more than admirably in his three innings of work, the early hook on Hendricks would later lead to a chain of events that included removing Lester too early and then, throwing everything into one bold decision, Maddon went with his closer, Aroldis Chapman, in the eighth inning.

As I tweeted right after Rajai Davis 9-ironed a game-tying 2-run home run in the bottom of the 8th off of Chapman, Maddon went from never having to buy another meal in Chicago to never being allowed to buy another meal in Chicago.

You think the folks in Baltimore were bat-s**t over Buck Showalter falling asleep in Toronto in the 12th inning and leaving Ubaldo Jimenez in the game to expedite the end of the season in the wild card game? Maddon's name in the Windy City would have been mud if not for their 10th inning heroics last night.

But...as fate and destiny would have it, the rains came, a meeting was held, and order was restored. And when Kyle Schwarber led off the 10th inning with a base hit, you could sense what was coming next.

Series MVP Ben Zobrist, who won a ring last year with the Royals, delivered a run scoring slapper down the third base line and the visitors tacked on another run to lead 8-6.

Three outs to go...

In true Cubs fashion, it did get interesting in the bottom half of the 10th. The Indians didn't go away quietly, much to their credit, as Davis again played hero with a base hit to score a run and trim Chicago's lead to 8-7.

X
If you didn't believe in miracles before this baseball season, you probably do now.

And Maddon was almost out of pitching options, which made the whole thing even more delicious.

He had plenty of pitchers to use, mind you, but none that he trusted, a point made clear in Game 6 and Game 7 when he used Chapman despite the circumstances perhaps saying he shouldn't.

Somehow, though, the Cubs finally recorded that elusive 30th out on a ground ball to Kris Bryant and that, at long last, brought an end to the greatest sports drought we've seen in our lifetime.

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night.

They won the greatest game ever played in the process, and reminded us all of why we watch sports in the first place.

We're not watching because we're eager to see which goof on the sidelines takes a knee during the national anthem, writes some sort of inspirational phrase on his shoes or celebrates a score by shooting a bow and arrow up at the sky.

Phooey on all of that garbage.

We're watching sports to see men and women perform at a level they've either never before reached or, in some cases, didn't know they could reach.

We're watching to see how those performances ebb and flow commensurate with the level of pressure attached to the game or the moment at hand.

We're watching to see history made.

Last night was the greatest game -- in any sport -- I've ever watched that didn't involve my own emotional connection to a Baltimore sports team.

I'll never forget it.

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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.


nfl more worried about shield than product


It's no secret that NFL national television ratings are noticeably down this year, and everyone has a theory as to why.

The most common threads running through various complaints is that there are too many penalties, the games are a less entertaining slog and, in general, the quality of football being offered just isn't as high as it was 3-5 years ago.

I think there's something to this, and would add another observation: The NFL is decidedly lacking in star power.

As the previous generation of stars like Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning have brought their careers to an end, the next generation of stars have not reached the same levels of cultural relevance as the last group. And the league hasn't helped at all in this regard, choosing to promote "the shield" instead of particular players, betting that promoting the league itself as a commodity would make the game's business model more consistent.

Roger Goodell is now learning the same lesson Vince McMahon and WWE have learned in recent years after trying the same model: Selling people on the company logo as the attraction just doesn't work to bring in any more than the most commited of viewers.

Your casual fans want to watch the stars, not interchangeable parts with "NFL" slapped on the marquee.

To make matters worse, there aren't any great teams anymore either. Recent years have seen a group of 6-8 obvious heavyweights duking it out for supremacy, and now you have the Patriots and maybe the Cowboys and Seahawks who look like top contenders, and then a big group contenders who really just look an undifferentiated mass of 9-7 nobodies.

"Parity" has gone from the notion that any team can quickly go from being bad to the playoffs with one good draft to a reality where most of the league is simply a large offering of mediocrity.

This might not be a problem if you were at least getting consistently great football games from that second tier grouping, but it's safe to say that's not what's happening. Nearly every NFL game these days follows the same basic script, outcomes swing more on mistakes or penalties than great plays, and penalties in general really are going up.

In particular, it's exactly the two culprits you'd expect it to be from any brief viewing of any random NFL game these days. As Sally Jenkins reported in a column this week, offensive holding calls have increased 43% since 2011, and defensive pass interference calls are up 45%. Those are staggering increases, but it's not a coincidence that 2011 is the beginning point for this sharp uptick in penalties and a steady decrease in quality of play.

What else happened in 2011? The most recent lockout and, as a result, a new CBA that drastically restricted earnings for players at the beginning of their careers. This has had a tremendous impact on the NFL labor market, and it's no surprise that the result of this is a noticeable erosion in the on field product.

The logic behind the wage scale was both simple and wrong: By capping rookie earnings, players thought, there would be more money going to "deserving" veterans instead of "unproven" rookies. But as anyone who paid attention in Econ 202 could tell you, smart teams don't pay for past production, but rather expected future production.

As such, that extra money flowed to the game's "elite" quarterbacks and top players at other impact positions, and veteran role players were actually the ones most hurt by the system.

With salaries ballooning at the top, teams needed cheap players to round out their rosters, and now those veteran journeymen were too expensive relative to young players to find roster spots. The immediate impact was so severe that Dwight Freeney accused the owners of collusion during free agency before the 2012 season due to his difficulty finding anyone willing to meet his asking price.

Five years later, NFL rosters look much different than they did prior to the rule change.

Per a widely cited article on the problem published by The Ringer, the average age in the NFL was 26.6 in 2015, down from 27.2 in 2006. And this trend comes at a time when college football is looking less and less like the pro game, meaning that most players are entering the league less prepared to contribute as a pro than they were 10 years ago when the pro style offense dominated the college game.

John Harbaugh even went on the record in the article outlining the challenges this presents for coaches. "Everything from defensive linemen not knowing where their eyes should be looking, not knowing where blocks are coming from,” said Harbaugh. “Defensive backs not recognizing routes, not knowing how to burst, stop, start, and change direction so they don’t tear their ACLs. Offensive linemen not knowing where blitzers are coming from. Just not a lot of technique anywhere.”

The conundrum is that there's no way out of this from a salary cap perspective with quarterbacks being so vital to a team's success, so any team with a franchise QB who has played out his rookie contract is going to be forced to put a bunch of unprepared young players on the field to round out their roster. The end result is more guys on the field who just aren't ready or even very good, and a boring, penalty ridden game that's turning off viewers in droves.

KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


SECU
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Wednesday
November 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 2
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you can't beat tonight's game 7 for drama, delight and disappointment


Someone's going to be elated tonight and someone's going to be crushed.

No matter how you slice Game 7 in Cleveland this evening, all of the emotional elements will be seen and felt.

If the Cubs win, it will be that franchise's first World Series title since 1908. And they will have rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to do so.

Should the Indians win, it will not only give them their first crown since 1948, but it will help avoid a winter of discussion on how they managed to squirrel away a 3-1 series lead and lose both Game 6 and Game 7 at home.

Either way, tonight's the night for one of the teams after Chicago pounded Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin last night and won with ease, 9-3, to force tonight's one-game "Super Bowl of Baseball".

I don't know about you, but I've loved this series from the start.

X
Have these two left the ballpark yet after last night's 9-3 win by the Cubs robbed Cleveland of the chance to celebrate a World Series title?

When you don't have a horse in the race -- and, in baseball, our horse hasn't been in the race for 33 years now -- you watch the games differently. I've watched these games with great delight, just hoping for good baseball and feeling blessed for the people fortunate enough to score a ticket for any of the games.

I told a friend yesterday that I thought Chicago was going to win the last two games in Cleveland. Not sure why I "felt" that -- I had that same gut feeling about the Super Bowl last February when everyone thought Carolina was going to trounce Denver and I had the Broncos winning the whole time -- but I did, right after the Cubs won Game 5 on Sunday night.

The Indians are good, but the Cubs have all the same parts, only the sum of those is just a tad better than what Cleveland possesses. If you believe in such things, all the pressure tonight is on Cleveland. Well, OK, maybe not all of it, but just about all of it, anyway.

The Indians were up 3-1 in this series heading home. Surely they were going to win either Game 6 or Game 7, right?

Maybe they will. They have Corey Kluber on the mound, after all, and he's been lights-out in this World Series thus far.

But destiny might be waiting for the Cubs to show up and take their spot on top of the baseball world. There might not be anything the Indians or Kluber can do about it tonight - this might very well just be "The Year of the Cubs".

I can see where the boys from Chicago might be feeling a little extra heat, too, as they ponder their place in sports history as members of the first Cubs team to win a World Series since 1908. Too much thinking about that will have them bouncing off the walls before batting practice even begins.

But the Cubs -- to borrow a familiar phrase -- are playing with "house money" in this one. They were once down 3-1 and it's now 3-3. They've turned this into a one-game World Series. And they're on the road, where there's not nearly as much pressure since most folks expect the home team to win.

And how about the ticket prices for tonight's Game 7?

$1,500 or thereabouts for upper deck nosebleeds and as high as $15,000 for a really good lower deck seat.

I realize the folks owning those are probably in an office somewhere in Los Angeles or New York and couldn't care less about going to the game, but if you owned a ticket to this evening's historic Game 7, wouldn't you want to be there yourself?

This isn't the Red Sox and Cardinals, remember. I could see how you might want to peddle that ticket, even for a Game 7.

It's the Indians (haven't won since 1948) and Cubs (haven't won since 1908) playing for all the marbles. You'd rather sell your two tickets for $1,500 each than be in the ballpark?

Like I wrote above, I get it: a ticket broker just wants to sell the ticket, he/she doesn't care who buys it.

And who will pay $10,000 to see ONE baseball game? Probably someone who has $10,000 sitting around, that's who. But $10,000 for one game? Crazy stuff...

Which brings us to today's Poll Question here at #DMD. Be honest, if you can. How much would YOU pay per-ticket (just to get in the stadium somewhere) to see the Orioles play a World Series Game 7 at home?


 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

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maddon laughs at criticism he's used chapman "too much"


Cubs' manager Joe Maddon went to his closer Aroldis Chapman in the 7th inning of last night's Game 6 win, leading 7-2, no less.

After the game, he was asked about it by the media and couldn't help but laugh as reporters questioned the move in the wake of the 9-3 Cubs win.

X
Joe Maddon of the Cubs has rolled the dice twice in the last two games with his closer Aroldis Chapman and he's come up smelling like a rose both times. Can Maddon and Chapman do it again tonight in Cleveland in Game 7?

"It was a 7-2 game and they had runners on base and the heart of their order coming up," Maddon said. "I wanted my best guy in there right then to make sure nothing happened."

Chapman wound up throwing 20 pitches on the night, and that came two days after he recorded eight outs in the Game 5 win at Chicago.

"These guys are fully capable of throwing twenty, thirty or even forty pitches if they have to," Maddon said after last night's game. "We don't ask them to do it much, but that doesn't mean they can't do it. And Chapman has a big arm. He can do it."

Those of us watching the game in Baltimore can only cringe when we hear stuff like that, as our best relief pitcher never made it into a 12-inning game at Toronto in the one-game wild card affair that the O's lost in Toronto, 5-2.

Maddon used his best guy (albeit, leading both times) in the 7th inning, twice in two days, and left him in there to battle the Indians over multiple innings, while Buck Showalter let Ubaldo Jimenez face Edwin Encarnacion while Britton sat in the bullpen and read through Bruce Springsteen's new autobiography, Born to Run.

And Maddon quickly made sure everyone last night knew that Chapman would be fine to go again tonight in Game 7, if needed.

"I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring," Maddon said after the game on Tuesday night. "I just know that if we didn't win (tonight), we weren't coming back here tomorrow. So we got that job done and now we'll be back. And if Chapman has to go again on Wednesday, he'll be just fine."


orioles still mulling over wieters, qualifying offer decision


A number of national outlets are reporting that Dan Duquette and the Orioles are still considering making Matt Wieters another "qualifying offer" for the 2017 season that would net the veteran catcher $17.2 million if he accepts it and returns to Baltimore for another season.

There still stands a chance that the qualifying offer process isn't going to be used this off-season. The MLB Player's Association is still discussing the option internally and expects to meet with Major League Baseball executives sometime next week to determine if, in fact, the process will be used this winter.

If it is used, the Orioles have the option of either signing Wieters to a new multi-year contract, tendering him the qualifying offer, or simply letting him walk away as a free agent.

The positive about the qualifying offer? You're locked in to the player for one year ONLY and his salary is $17.2 million.

The negative? The player might actually take the $17.2 million and you're then stuck with a player -- Wieters in this case -- who might not be worth that kind of dough.

That's what happened last winter, when Wieters and a few others in the league shocked the system by accepting the qualifying offer ($15.8 million) and eschewing the traditional path of free agency.

To make matters worse, Wieters then produced one of his worst offensive seasons ever, hitting .243 with a .302 on-base percentage. He did manage 17 HR's and 66 RBI -- and ONE stolen base, don't forget.

But $17.2 million for that kind of (assumed) production just isn't worth it.

Then again, who's going to catch if Wieters doesn't return?

I realize his 2016 season was a bit of an outlier, but Caleb Joseph had as many runs batted in last season as YOU and your neighbor -- combined. Zero.

Is Chance Sisco ready to come up after a successful season at Bowie? Unlikely.

So, should the Orioles just bite the bullet, play Joseph 140 games, take his .225 batting average, and stick it out for a year or so?

What about Francisco Pena? He had a cup of coffee with the club last summer when Joseph was hurt and on the disabled list. Not much with the bat (.200), but that was a very small sample size and he certainly can't be worse than Joseph with the lumber. Can he?

Here's my two cents: It's time to let Wieters walk. No need to make the qualifying offer, even. I get it, you could potentially lose a draft pick (or, not "get one") by not making him the offer, but Wieters is likely to snag that $17.2 million option and say, "I'll see you in Sarasota in February."

I'd move on from Wieters, find a reliable catcher without high expectations for anything other than decent defense and an occasional offensive contribution, and I'd spend that $17.2 million on a right fielder and/or a left-handed starting pitcher NOT named Wade Miley.

KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


LYNCH
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Tuesday
November 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVIII
Issue 1
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as you watch baseball tonight, keep this in mind...


While you're sitting there watching the World Series tonight as it moves into November, keep this in mind: The Orioles could be there this time next year.

Yes, I know, that's probably a pipe dream. So what? You think fans of the Indians and Cubs really thought they were getting there this season?

I mean, the Cubs were close a year ago and have a roster loaded with talent -- not to mention one of the game's best managers -- but most folks in their fan base just assumed something wacky would happen, as it always does (or did) to them, and the Fall Classic would again avoid them.

The Indians, meanwhile, were "just another team" who finished 81-80 in 2015 (yes, they played one less game a year ago) and entered spring training as a side that most folks figured would be hard pressed to finish second in the division, let alone be one game away from the World Series title.

X
We've waited 33 years now for a World Series to return to Baltimore. These folks in Chicago waited 71 years!

I'm not taking anything away from these two teams; they're clearly the best clubs from both leagues, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the Cubs pull off two straight wins in Cleveland and do the unthinkable -- and present Chicago with its first World Series title since 1908.

But as I watch tonight, I'll continue to cling to the fact that this could be US next October/November, scrambling for tickets, planning parties, and watching the Orioles try and win their first world championship since 1983.

You can laugh and snicker all you want, but the Indians haven't won one since 1948. And here they are, with two chances to do it at home this week.

And do you really think Cleveland's roster from top to bottom is that far superior to the one we have in Baltimore?

I don't.

The Indians have a different make-up than the Orioles, obviously, but pound-for-pound, I don't see how anyone can say their "team" is designed all that much better than the Orioles.

Here's a news flash: The Orioles went 5-1 against Cleveland in the regular season.

I realize that's not the barometer by which we judge head-to-head quality, but the teams met six times and the Orioles won five of those six games. Take that for what you will.

The biggest difference in the teams is their approach, obviously. The Orioles rely on power, the Indians rely on putting people on base and getting them to home plate however they can. Baltimore hit 253 home runs in 2016; the Indians had 185.

Six players had 20 or more homers for the Orioles; three had 20 or more for the Indians.

The pitching was better in Cleveland, no doubt, as the Indians compiled a team ERA of 3.84 and a WHIP of 1.24 while the Birds had a team ERA of 4.22 and a 1.36 WHIP.

But Baltimore's "bad" pitching -- if you're prone to call it that, which I'm not -- still got them to the 89-win mark, and anyone who watched the team with even half-a-discerning-eye in September knows it was the bats, not the arms, that kept the team from beating out the Red Sox for the division title.

All I'm pointing out here is something pretty simple; you never really know which team's "model" is going to work in any given season.

Typically, as we've seen in this World Series, really good pitching always figures out a way to overcome really good hitting. It's been that way for a long time, although the Atlanta Braves had three of the best pitchers on their roster for a decade or more and only won one World Series with those three on the mound together in October.

It does seem to work that way, though. The team who pitches the best usually wins. And, by the way, that's not to say that Cleveland's pitchers are better than Chicago's pitchers. If you look at the current World Series rosters, it sure looks to me like -- quality wise -- you'd take the Cubs over the Indians from a pitching standpoint.

But the games have told a different story.

Cleveland obviously made a huge move at the trade deadline picking up Andrew Miller, but Chicago did themselves a solid by getting Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees in late July.

I would have expected Lackey, Lester and Arrieta to shine over Tomlin, Bauer and Kluber, but it's been the other way around. And don't forget, both teams are missing quality arms in this series; the Cubs are without Jason Hammel and the Indians are missing Danny Salazar.

Those of us who watched the Orioles in 2016 knew they were somewhat of a flawed team, yet they were one big hit or simply keeping the manager awake in the dugout from possibly going on to the World Series themselves. Who knows what would have happened had the Orioles, not the Blue Jays, won that wild card game in Toronto?

At the beginning of the season, fans of the Indians and Cubs hoped their respective teams might have gotten this far, but I don't think any of their supporters would have bet you big money it would happen.

I don't know what the Orioles are going to do in the off-season to get better, but if they do (and they DO need to get better), they could be playing next October.

Heck, 20 of the 30 teams in the big leagues probably have the general roster quality to make the same statement. It all comes down to who gets it right from a chemistry standpoint, who makes the right trade deadline pick-up or two, and who gets the quality pitching in September and October when it's needed most.

So, tonight, I'll either watch the Indians celebrate or the Cubs stay alive, and I'll know, at the very least, there's a legitimate chance the Orioles could be in the same position as either of these two teams we see tonight in 2017.

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the best six and worst six in the nfl


This is starting to get a little harder, now, with good teams losing and bad teams winning.

What did last night tell us, for example? Are the Vikings that bad that they couldn't squeeze past a sorry Bears team or are the Bears better than we thought?

We'll do our best to sort it out for you below.


THE WORST SIX --

27. BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-4) -- A win over Pittsburgh this Sunday would get the Ravens out of this spot, but based on what we've seen over their last four games, John Harbaugh's team deserves this placement at #27. We've been watching some really bad football over the last month or so. Injuries have hurt them, yes, but the record is what the record is.

28. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (3-5) -- Blown out at home by the Chiefs. Wow. And here's the thing about this year's team in Indy; Andrew Luck has been relatively healthy. They just have no offensive line to support the guy and the defense in Indy is awful. Time for a new coach, I suspect.

29. CHICAGO BEARS (2-6) -- It's going to take more than one win over a Vikings team to change my mind on the Bears. For one night, yes, they were decent. But all in all this season, they've been pretty bad. I still see them as a four or five win team, tops.

30. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-5) -- Not much is changing these days in Jacksonville. Coaching woes, quarterback woes and winning woes. They'll be starting all over again next spring, albeit with a handful of talented receivers, but not much else.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ers (1-6) -- The good news? They didn't lose this past Sunday. The bad news? That didn't change their ranking here at #DMD. The 49'ers are terrible.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-8) -- This one is easy. After Sunday's home loss to the Jets, Cleveland is really in danger now of not winning a single game this season. They have two home games remaining that COULD net them a victory; the Giants and Chargers both visit Cleveland later this season. Other than that, it's looking like 0-16 is a real possibility.


THE BEST SIX --

6. ATLANTA FALCONS (5-3) -- This one came down to either Atlanta or Kansas City (6-2) and I went with the team who had the most impressive win this past Sunday and that was Atlanta, for sure, who beat Green Bay in a thriller, 33-32. The Falcons actually look legit on offense; it's their defense that might not be good enough come playoff time.

5. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-2) -- Last night's loss to the lowly Bears might have told us something about the Vikings, but they're still a 5-2 football team who hasn't lost at home yet this season.

4. DENVER BRONCOS (6-2) -- Another AFC West team at 6-2, but without the offensive firepower of Oakland. What they do have, though, is a high quality defense, and typically in playoff football, the team with the defense that can get after the quarterback is the one left standing. If the Broncos continue to get decent QB play, they're going to be a tough out.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-2) -- This could be any of a number of teams at #3 on the list, but when you're 5-0 on the road, you deserve some accolades. Oakland's offense is definitely legit, but their defense is not. Still, 6-2 is 6-2 and the Raiders are looking like a team you might not want to face in January if they have all of their weapons healthy.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS (6-1) -- It took overtime, but a win over the Eagles firmly has the Cowboys at #2 here. There's still the chance that Dak Prescott wakes up sometime soon and realizes he's a rookie quarterback who shouldn't be leading his team to the playoffs, but for now, anyway, Prescott looks like the real deal and the Cowboys' offense is responding accordingly.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-1) -- A dismantling of Buffalo only increased the marging between the #1 "best team" and the rest of the gang in the league. They still have to get through the season with Brady and Gronkowski healthy, but failing that, there's no reason to think they aren't headed back to the Super Bowl.


four quarters of college football


Our college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with a look at the final month of the regular season.

First Quarter: November Rain – November is a bitter sweet month for college football. The regular season is nearing its end while there is a lot at stake in the final month – conference titles and playoffs. In its third year of existence, the College Football Playoff selection committee could have its easiest job yet.

Four playoff openings could be filled from four different Power 5 conferences with four undefeated teams – Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, and Washington. (West Virginia and Baylor fell from the undefeated ranks last weekend and eliminated the Big 12 from playoffs consideration.)

The only problem is the season does not end in October. Over the next three weeks, several tests await – Alabama faces a reinvigorated LSU, Washington gets a streaking USC, and any road game can be a trap, as Ohio State found out a couple of weeks ago at Penn State.

The biggest tests though will come on Thanksgiving weekend with the traditional "rivalry games".

Second Quarter: Civil War – Rivalries are one of the best parts of college football. The team and fans alike have a deep passion against a certain opposition where one game decides the bragging rights for the next 364 days. (Oregon – Oregon State is actually known as the Civil War.)

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Nick Saban's Alabama team looks destined for the National Championship game, but they still have a heated rivlary game with Auburn to navigate later this month.

For the undefeated teams, three match-ups involve a conference rival, who also has a chance to win the division title and play in the conference championship.

The Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn could settle the SEC West division. Washington and Washington State face off in the Apple Cup with the winner claiming the Pac 12 North title. Michigan travels to Ohio State for the Big Ten East crown in what was recently ranked by ESPN as the best sports rivalry.

Clemson has the least challenging final four weeks, including the Palmetto Bowl against in-state rival South Carolina.

Third Quarter: You Could Be Mine – If each of the undefeated teams survives the next four weeks of the regular season, conference championship games await. While these games have been mostly duds, a few intriguing clashes might be in the offing.

Virginia Tech is the likely opponent for Clemson in the ACC championship. Led by Bud Foster’s fourteenth ranked defense, the Hokies are balanced with an effective offense. Bucky Hodges and Isaiah Ford are NFL-caliber receivers and quarterback Jerod Evans is a dual threat.

The Big Ten East winner (Michigan or Ohio State) could have a re-match against Wisconsin in the championship game. The Badgers lost both games by a touchdown earlier in the season. A ground-and-pound offense and stingy defense (ranked ninth) always makes for close games.

Fourth Quarter: Knocking on Heaven’s Door – One upset of an undefeated team would open the door for other teams' entrance into the playoffs.

Texas A&M and Louisville only have one loss, both coming against one of the undefeated teams (Alabama and Clemson, respectively). But neither are likely to play in its conference championship.

One-loss Florida will most likely be the SEC East winner and would be playoff-worthy with an SEC championship. Nebraska is in a similar situation in the Big Ten but their road is much more difficult.

A sole defeat on the record of Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington would keep those teams -- currently with one loss -- in consideration.

Enjoy the final month of the regular season.

KELLY
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miaa soccer playoffs: calvert hall, mcdonogh both win at home to advance


Calvert Hall, stymied most of the afternoon by Loyola's goalkeeper, Chris Karpovich, finally broke through midway through the second half with a pair of goals and went on to beat the Dons, 2-0, on Monday to advance to the MIAA A-Conference boys' semifinals this Thursday.

The Cardinals will travel to Mount Saint Joseph, a team that beat them twice by 1-0 scores during the regular season.

Despite constant pressure in the offensive end throughout the first half, Calvert Hall could not solve Karpovich until senior Brady O’Connor flipped a direct kick over the Loyola wall and inside the right post, from 18 yards out, in the 63rd minute.

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Senior Brady O'Connor's direct kick goal with 17 minutes left was enough to lift Calvert Hall to a 2-0 win over Loyola on Monday in the A-Conference quarterfinals.

Four minutes later, Ben Bender stole a pass to the left of the box, dribbled forward a few yards and then crossed it back into the center to a waiting Ben Alexander who one-timed a 1-on-1 opportunity, again inside the right post for the 2-0 advantage.

Calvert Hall (11-4-1) had dominated Loyola, 5-1, in a home match late in the regular season, but the Dons (6-11) did knock off the Cardinals earlier in the year, giving them a measure of confidence heading into the post-season.

Loyola looked overwhelmed in the game's first 20 minutes, but the Dons picked up their energy after Karpovich made several outstanding saves to keep the game tied at 0-0. Loyola actually controlled the second half of the opening 40 minutes and played better soccer than the hosts well into the second stanza before O'Connor's well-struck free kick put the Cardinals on top.

Alexander's goal a few minutes later was the back-breaker and Calvert Hall eliminated a spirited Loyola squad.

In Monday’s other A Conference quarterfinal, fourth-seeded McDonogh dispatched fifth-seed Gilman, 3-2, in Owings Mills, in an overtime thriller.

McDonogh will travel to top seeded Curley on Thursday afternoon in the other MIAA A-Conference semi-final.

Luke Davis scored the golden goal with just 3 minutes, 37 seconds to play in the first overtime, as the No. 4 Eagles avoided what may have been a difficult loss after building a 2-0 lead.

Aidan Welsh gave McDonogh a 1-0 advantage late in the first half, scoring off of a free kick, and the Eagles (14-6) doubled their lead when they were awarded a penalty kick, early in the second half. Casey Settleman buried the opportunity into the net, after Brian Lenzer was fouled in the box.

Gilman, however, won a pair of penalty kicks later in the half, the second with just 8 minutes to play, and freshman Teddy Ndje converted both of them to help the Greyhounds (9-6-4) earn overtime.

Thursday’s winners will meet in the MIAA A Conference title game this Sunday, November 6 at Anne Arundel Community College. The opening kick is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m.

This story was produced in part from information provided by Varsity Sports Network. For comprehensive coverage of local high school sports in the area, including Baltimore County, please visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com.

STECCO
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


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.