Saturday
December 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 31
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fact: another year is in the books, opinion: 2016 was a really good year


FACT: Giving up more points than you score is usually an indicator that you're a losing team. It doesn't always work that way, of course, but for the most part, you need to score more than you allow to be successful. Unless the Houston Texas win 43-0 on Sunday, they're going to win the AFC South and will have allowed more points than they've scored in the 2016 regular season. Every other division winner in the NFL will score more than they allow this season.

OPINION: Houston will be the four seed in the playoffs and faces an interesting post-season situation. If Oakland winds up as the wild card team and travels to Houston, the Texans could beat a Derek Carr-less Raiders. But if the Raiders hold on, win in Denver this Sunday, and Kansas City is the wild card team, the Chiefs will blow the Texans away in the first round of the playoffs. You can't blame Houston for rooting for the Broncos on Sunday. It will make their life a lot easier in that first round.

FACT: Only two players in NBA history have recorded thirty triple-doubles in one season: Oscar Robertson (41) and Wilt Chamberlain (31). Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City currently has 15 through 33 games in 2016-2017.

OPINION: The triple-double stat really helps identify who the best all-around player is in the NBA. It's not the tell-all, for sure, but it's awfully close, as the stats define players who can score, pass, rebound, block and steal. It's going to be tough for Westbrook to reach 41 triple doubles this year, but he should easily pass Chamberlain at some point in March. Is there a better all-around player in the NBA right now than Russell Westbrook? Probably not.

Old school Pittsburgh Penguins uniforms and the original jersey worn by the Buffalo Sabres made the 2008 "Winter Classic" uniforms stand out.

FACT: The NHL's "Winter Classic" will be played on Monday, January 2nd this year instead of New Year's Day because NFL football reigns supreme this Sunday. This year's outdoor game pits the St. Louis Blues hosting the Chicago Blackhawks at Busch Stadium.

OPINION The annual outdoor game the league came up with back in 2008 is still the best thing they've done from the standpoint of taking the game of ice hockey back to its roots – "pond hockey". As someone who played at Lake Waterford in Pasadena throughout the 1970's and early 1980's, I can attest to just how memorable those days and nights were, picking up teams, using logs for goals, building a fire, and playing until you couldn't skate anymore. Oh, and the uniforms for the Winter Classic all always cool, too. The picture above shows the best uniform combination I've seen since they started the outdoor game.

FACT: Alabama meets Washington and Clemson faces Ohio State today in the two NCAA semi-final playoff games. The Crimson Tide are 14-point favorites over Washington, and Ohio State is a 3-point favorite over Dabo Swinney's Tigers.

OPINION: I can't imagine Alabama losing, but something tells me the Huskies are going to hang around long enough in this one to cover the 14-points. Alabama wins 32-20. As for the other game, I look at Clemson as a bit of a paper tiger, no pun intended. Well, wait, maybe it is pun intended? Anyway, Clemson lost at home to Pitt and should have lost at home to N.C. State if that kid hits a chip shot field goal on them at the buzzer. I think Ohio State wins rather easily, 37-28.

FACT: Since winning the Super Bowl in 2012, the Ravens have posted a regular season record of 31-32 heading into tomorrow's regular season finale at Cincinnati.

OPINION: It's not a 31-32 overall mark that haunts them, though. What's kept the Ravens from making the post-season in 2013, 2014 and 2015 was their play away from Ravens Stadium. Over the last four seasons, Baltimore is 10-21 on the road, with three of those ten wins coming at Cleveland and two of them coming at Pittsburgh. Think about that. Over the last four seasons, the Ravens went 5-3 vs. Cleveland and Pittsburgh on the road and 5-18 against the rest of the NFL. That's how you miss the playoffs, kids.

My personal favorite album of all-time sold 8 million copies. Live's "Throwing Copper" was released in 1992 and was ranked the 2nd best album of the 1990's by Rolling Stone Magazine.

FACT: What's the number one highest selling album of all-time? Do you know? Would you believe it's "The Eagle's Greatest Hits, 1971-1975?", which sold 29.6 million copies?

OPINION: If you don't count a "greatest hits" compilation as a real album (and for the record, I don't), then Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is actually #1, as it comes in at #2 overall, selling about 300,000 less copies than The Eagle's Greatest Hits album.

FACT: One year after running away with the President's Trophy, then predictably flaming out in the second round of the NHL playoffs, the Capitals find themselves in 5th place in the Eastern Conference as the New Year approaches. That would still easily put them in the playoffs if the season ended today, but of the top 10 teams in the Eastern Conference, the Caps have the lowest goal total (91) of all.

OPINION: Sure, that goal total number is skewed a bit by the fact that the Caps have played less games than everyone in the top 10 except for Columbus, but there's no denying that Washington's offense hasn't hit on all cylinders at the 34-game mark of the season. And here's the thing. They've mostly been healthy throughout the season, save for a small stretch where T.J. Oshie missed a week of time. Who knows? Maybe this is the year the Caps meander through the regular season, finish 6th in the Eastern Conference, then steamroll everyone en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. What's that? No, I haven't been drinking. OK, maybe I have.

FACT: The Orioles have an overload of starting pitching at this point, if, in fact Dylan Bundy is going to start 2017 as a member of the rotation and not a bullpen arm. That leaves the Orioles with Bundy, Gausman, Jimenez, Miley, Gallardo and Tillman as starters.

OPINION: So, who is the odd guy out? You have to have a lefty in the rotation (although they didn't have one until August last season), so Miley appears safe. Bundy, Gausman and Tillman are definites. They owe Jimenez $12 million and they owe Gallardo roughly the same amount. And we know Jimenez isn't a relief pitcher. I don't know what's going to happen, but I imagine Jimenez has been offered to every team at least twice this winter. Gallardo might be next on the offering table.

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a look ahead to what's in store in 2017


Typically I would save this sort of feature for New Year's Day, but since the Ravens are playing tomorrow and there are NFL games on tap, we'll go ahead and do our "look ahead" predictions edition of #DMD today, December 31.

For starters, just to quickly look back on 2016, let me say on a personal note it's been a pleasure interacting with you all over the last year and I appreciate the continued support you show to Drew's Morning Dish. Over 5,000 of you are coming here every day now, which I'm more grateful for than you can possibly know.

If you pinned me down and made me pick one sports moment that stood out over all the rest of them in 2016, mine would be an easy choice. It was the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

Easily the best moment in all of sports in 2016. It reminded us all that dreams really do come true -- even if they take 108 years to materialize.

Having not seen the Orioles play in one since 1983, I can only imagine what it was like in Chicago this October when the Cubs not only finally reached the Fall Classic for the first time since 1945, but won the title for the first time since 1908.

As I wrote on the morning after their Game 7 win, I literally stood up in my living room when they had recorded two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning in Cleveland, knowing I might be on the verge of seeing something that generations of folks in Chicago never got to witness.

The word "epic" didn't do it justice.

I was equally thrilled for Dustin Johnson, who won the U.S. Open at Oakmont CC last June to capture his first major golf title.

Johnson had become a semi-Charlie-Brown-figure in major championship competition, finding several odd ways to lose trophies that were apparently well within his grasp.

And even this time around, he had to dodge a mid-round rules controversy and then, in the middle of the 18th fairway, a low-battery alarm went off on an NBC camera just as he was at the top of his backswing on the 72nd hole of the tournament.

Neither of those issues kept him from winning, though, and after a bunch of near misses and a well-publicized "hiatus" from the game a couple of years back, Dustin Johnson was finally a major champion.

Now...let's move on to 2017.

This is hard, of course, because we still have no idea what the Orioles are going to do in the off-season since, per the usual routine, they haven't yet made any significant moves and we're roughly seven weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting.

Likewise, there's no telling what the Ravens are going to do in the off-season, either. Will they go after an Alshon Jefferey or DeAndre Hopkins to give Joe Flacco a legitimate playmaking pass catcher?

There are still baseball free agents to sign which will greatly impact the landscape of the 2017 season. Who gets Mark Trumbo, for instance? Jose Bautista? Matt Wieters, even?

What winds up happening in the NFL draft? Who goes where?

I'm pointing out those qualifiers simply to remind you that it's hard to make these "calls" in January -- which is a nice way of asking you to not to bring this up next December unless I was right on a bunch of these predictions. ;)

So, without further adieu, let's give it a whirl.

2017 World Series winner -- I gotta go with Boston over the Dodgers next October. The Red Sox pitching is just too good and I'll keep picking either the Dodgers or Nationals until one of them proves me right. My first-blush guess on the Orioles? Assuming they're not re-signing Trumbo, I say they finish 82-80 and in 3rd place in the A.L. East.

2017 NFL season -- It's hard to make this pick until we know what happens this year. But I'll play along, anyway, and say Pittsburgh beats the New York Giants in next year's Super Bowl, which represents the 2017 campaign, of course. If the Steelers somehow win the Super Bowl this year, that means they won't win in 2018 and this pick gets tossed aside. As for the Ravens, they'll be back in the playoffs next year after finishing the regular season at 10-6.

2017 NCAA basketball -- If any team is built to go back-to-back, it's Villanova, but I'll say the Wildcats return to the Final Four before falling to the eventual champions. I have Kentucky beating Duke in the Final this year, much to the delight of everyone in America. Unless you despise both programs, which is perfectly reasonable.

One year after giving away what would have been his 3rd major title, Jordan Spieth will collect the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale next July.

2017 Daytona 500 -- Give me Matt Kenseth to complete the career hat trick at the Daytona 500. He would surpass Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, both of whom have two wins in the race, and tie Jeff Gordon, who finished with three victories in the February event.

2017 Masters -- I'm very excited about this year's Masters, as Tiger Woods is set to return with apparent good health on his side. It would be great to see Jordan Spieth win so he could erase the memory of last year's collapse, but I'm going with Rory McIlroy to complete the career grand slam at win at Augusta in April, by two shots over Dustin Johnson and J.B. Holmes.

2017 U.S. Open -- The event is at Erin Hills, a place with no major championship history to reflect upon. That, I think, opens up the field somewhat, so I'll go with someone a tad bit obscure and say Kevin Chappell, the former UCLA star, wins his first major championship. A funny story about Chappell. I actually picked him to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Merion. At the Tuesday practice round, I happened to stumble upon him in a bunker at the practice range, working on his sand game. I broke the silence of his work by saying, "Hey Kevin, what's up? I picked you to win this week!". He stopped, looked up at me, and said, with zero emotion, "Great. Thanks." and that was it. He went back to hitting sand shots and never looked my way again.

2017 British Open -- They're heading back to Royal Birkdale for this year's "Open Championship" (known to everyone else as The British Open), where Americans have won six of the nine times the event has been played there. Make it seven of ten, as Jordan Spieth gets the third leg of his own career grand slam by beating Adam Scott in a playoff.

2017 PGA Championship -- Another new course to the major rotation -- but not the PGA Tour in general -- comes into play this year when Quail Hollow in Charlotte hosts the year's final major championship. The PGA has a thing about first-time winners, like last year with Jimmy Walker, the year before with Jason Day, and so on. So, keeping with that theme, it's about time J.B. Holmes gets in the winner's circle, and as a previous winner there, he can smell success when he steps on the first tee on Thursday.

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our trip to london to see the ravens is the most affordable in town!


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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Friday
December 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 30
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keion carpenter's legacy will live on


Baltimore lost a native son yesterday morning at 6:47 am, when former Woodlawn High School star Keion Carpenter passed away in Miami after suffering a head injury on Wednesday when he fell while playing with his son on vacation.

He was 39 years old.

As I wrote here at #DMD on Thursday (scroll down to see the content from yesterday's edition), Carpenter was one of Charm City's not-so-secret treasures. After a successful 8-year career in the NFL, Keion came back home roughly a decade ago and rolled up his sleeves to make his community better.

It was difficult reading the news we all feared yesterday morning, but the sadness was diminished throughout the day as I read countless messages on Facebook and Twitter from those in Baltimore who, like me, had befriended Carpenter through his philanthropic and charitable endeavors.

Perhaps the most notable thing I can reiterate today about Keion Carpenter is this: He made it his work to enhance the lives of young people in Baltimore, whether it be a youthful athlete looking to excel on the field and in the classroom or a 20-something couple eager to own their first home and make their footprint in the community.

The legacy Carpenter leaves behind is as indelible as the impression he made on me when he sat in my radio studio circa 2010 and talked about the dreams he had for making Baltimore better.

Some people dream. Some people act on those dreams. Keion did both.

Baltimore was a much better place when he decided to come back home and act on his dreams.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to do my own small part to honor Carpenter's work in town. I'm not sure what that's going to be just yet. But I'll know what it is when it comes to me and I'll give you the details here at #DMD.

If you believe in such things, you simply have to accept that God wanted Keion working more closely with him on bigger projects than we can imagine here on Earth. Somewhere in heaven today, Carpenter is once again rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever is asked of him, just like he did as a valued teammate in the NFL and then, even more proudly, in his own community.


on a brighter note, let me share a story about secu


The corporate partners you see on this website and those associated with my venture here at #DMD are all companies or people that I know first-hand or have worked with myself.

I know I say this a lot, but it always bears repeating. I recommend these marketing partners to you because they've proved their worth to me, personally. Chris Saffer has done countless plumbing jobs at my house, Vic Biscoe handled my mortgage re-financing, my wife and I own a Toyota van, Dave Buchanan has serviced my family vehicles and Kelly Payroll handles my employee benefits and payroll here at #DMD.

And that's just naming a few. I've utilized every single one of the corporate parnters you see here. That's for sure.

SECU has been my credit union since 2012. How I got there is an interesting story.

After thirteen years with one of those big -- ahem -- "American" banks, I needed a small loan to cover some home improvements and other assorted expenses that were popping up. They turned me down.

After hearing the news, I got in my car, frustrated, and drove to the SECU branch on LaSalle Road near Calvert Hall High School.

Ninety minutes later, I was a SECU member, was moving my money from the big bank into their credit union, and, ready for this? They approved a significant loan for me that same day and the money was in my account roughly 48 hours later.

And I've never looked back.

I now have three separate accounts with SECU, both personal and business, and the effort they put in there to provide the highest quality of customer service you can find is simply unmatched.

This week, I again had the pleasure of receiving first-class treatment from SECU. I visited the LaSalle branch and met with Prerna, who has been my "contact" there since I joined four years ago.

After helping me with an international wire transfer, I asked Prerna to pull up my three accounts, take a look at them, and see if anything stood out to her that might need some "tweaking".

She reviewed my/our various monthly payments (mortgage, car, insurance, etc.), plus our line of credit and credit card debt, and quickly came up with a plan to merge those items into one comfortable total that we could manage a lot more easily.

I left the branch paying less per-month for several monthly responsibilities than I was paying when I walked in!

As I said to her, "Every time I come here, I feel like I'm getting over on you by the time I leave."

I can't help but feel like the big bank would have given my account a 30-second cursory review followed by a statement of: "No, Mr. Forrester, everything looks good on this end."

Prerna took time to review everything, asked me several questions about my family's monthly financial obligations, then showed me a way we could save money in the long run by consolidating several items.

Changing banks is never easy. I know this.

But I also know if you give SECU a chance to earn your business, it will be a decision you'll never regret.

If you go into a local branch and ask them to show you in 30 minutes how they can help you manage your money better, you'll wind up being a SECU member. I promise you that.

Visit their website at www.secumd.org for branch locations and general information.

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about the ravens and this game in cincy on sunday


I've read and heard a lot of chatter this week about the Ravens trip to Cincinnati this Sunday and how the team should play the game given the fact that it means nothing at all except the difference between finishing 8-8 and 9-7.

Winning the game will put the Ravens somewhere around 20th on the draft board - give or take a spot - and losing will put them in the vicinity of 12th or so.

That's a huge difference.

Lots of armchair GM's and Coaches in town are calling for the team to essentially "play the JV" and let the chips fall where they may. No one is saying "lose the game on purpose", but plenty of folks think playing the starters and regulars in a meaningless game is silly.

"I thought we weren't trying as hard today, Carlos!"

I heard one (supposed) expert on the local airwaves Thursday say, "The players don't really care if they win or lose on Sunday. They just don't want to get hurt."

I disagree that the players don't care about winning or losing on Sunday, but I do agree their chief concern is finishing the game and the season healthy enough to enjoy what little off-season they have these days.

But none of that matters.

What matters is the Ravens play a 16-game schedule and winning always, always, always trumps losing.

Nothing good comes from getting your ass kicked by the Bengals on Sunday.

You can play the "what if?" game with Joe Flacco all you want. "What if Flacco gets hurt on Sunday playing in a meaningless game?"

He could get hurt water skiing in Bermuda next month, too.

What if Brandon Williams gets hurt on Sunday? He's a free agent this spring. What if he tears his ACL in the fourth quarter?

If anything, shouldn't a guy like Williams beg out of the game at Cincinnati in order to protect himself for the free agency period?

He wouldn't think of doing it.

And there is a train of thought that actually suggests you're putting players in danger of getting injured if others around them aren't as talented or capable of handling the work load.

If you lined up your JV offensive line against the opposition's varsity defensive line, doesn't that increase your quarterback's chances of getting hurt?

Twenty two players have to line up and "start" on Sunday. Go ahead and play the best players you have until there comes a time in the game when you can sprinkle in others if, in fact, you're trying to get some other players valuable game experience.

Oh, and by all means if it becomes 27-7 either way and you want to take out the starters in the fourth quarter so some guys can play who otherwise wouldn't, that makes sense as well.

Just don't throw the game away from the very start because you're afraid of an injury or because you're trying to improve your draft position.

Finishing 9-7 IS better than finishing 8-8, no matter what you might think while you're sitting on your couch with the remote control in your hand.

If the Ravens finish 9-7, they will have missed the post-season by the narrowest of narrow margins. One stinkin' game. One catch. One dropped ball. One, as it turns out, stretch at the goal-line with nine seconds left in the game.

If you'd rather finish 8-8 then 9-7, you're not a professional athlete nor do you have the mindset to be one.

At the beginning of the season, they laid out 16 games and told you to win as many of them as you could.

They didn't tell you to win eight of the first fifteen and then stop caring in the final week of the season.

You're paid to play and you're paid to win.

If there's a game on the schedule, you should be trying to win it.

Losing is...well...losing is for losers.

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and the winners (and losers) for 2016 are...


From the "everyone does it so why shouldn't we?" file, here are some winners and losers from 2016.

Feel free to add your own in the "Comments" section below.

Best Ravens player -- I'm not going to be that guy who poo-poos the field goal kicker, since everyone knows I'm a huge fan of NFL kickers. But the best Raven in 2016 was linebacker Zach Orr. He led the team in tackles, had several noteworthy interceptions, and was doing all of that while playing as a starter for the first time in his career. I know Justin Tucker had a whale of a year, but -- yes, I'm going to say it -- "he's just a kicker". Orr came into the season with 25 tackles in 2014 and 2015 combined, and now has 91 tackles in 2016 alone. It's been quite the coming out party for Orr in 2016.

When the sun sets on 2016, it will be remembered as the year of perfection for Orioles closer Zach Britton, who went 47 for 47 in save opportunities and posted an impressive 0.54 ERA.

Best Orioles player -- Has to be Zach Britton. Manny Machado had a wonderful year, yes, but he wasn't perfect. Britton was perfect. Unless he catches lightning in a bottle two years on the run and goes 40-something for 40-something in save opportunities in 2017, Britton's 2016 campaign will stand on its own as one of the best single season performances in Orioles history.

Best Baltimore sports moment -- Michael Phelps and his gold medal run in Rio. Every time they flashed his name on the screen and underneath it read, "Baltimore, Maryland", I could feel the city swelling with pride.

Worst Baltimore sports moment -- With all due respect to the Antonio Brown "stretch" and the playoff-ending loss to the Steelers last Sunday, the Ravens would have still needed to beat the Bengals this Sunday to make the post-season. The worst moment of 2016 was, of course, the Edwin Encarnacion 3-run homer in the 12th inning of the wild card game in Toronto that ended the Orioles' season. I can still see Matt Wieters getting up and walking towards the dugout as the ball was in mid-flight. He was already at the steps when the ball finally landed.

Best local sports story -- Former Mount Saint Joseph star Phil Booth scored 20 points for Villanova in their NCAA title win over the University of North Carolina. On the biggest stage in college basketball, Booth stole the show.

Worst local sports story -- Despite winning the most games of any team in the American League over the last five years, attendance at Camden Yards dropped by roughly 3,000 fans per-game in 2016. The Orioles were so concerned they launched a mid-season study to learn more about the attendance drop-off.

Best national sports story -- Without question, it's the Chicago Cubs. I know LeBron and the Cavaliers delivered the city of Cleveland a championship for the first time in forever, but what the Cubs did -- coming back from 3-1 to win the World Series -- was beyond magical. Penn State's rebound to national prominence in college football was also a noteworthy 2016 story.

Worst national sports story -- This one is easy -- and sad. The Baylor football sex scandal is one of the worst examples of college sports gone wrong that you'll ever see. The story actually dates as far back as 2014, but the presentation of the evidence and findings finally surfaced in 2016. The fact that Baylor is still playing football is shameful.

Best player story -- Can't believe I'm saying this, but it's David Ortiz. Doing what he did at age 40 in the 2016 season...wow. Dustin Johnson's win at the U.S. Open receives strong consideration here, both for the fact he finally polished off a major title with an impressive final round after several near misses and because the USGA tried to take it away from him with a silly back nine ruling after they thought he caused his ball to move on the 5th green.

Worst player story -- Jordan Spieth's 12th hole blow-up at The Masters. He got to the 10th tee ahead by four shots and walked off the 12th green trailing by one after going bogey (#10), bogey (#11), quadruple bogey (#12). Some guy named Danny Willett, who will never win another major championship, was the benefactor of Spieth's collapse and captured the green jacket.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

With the top six teams each taking maximum points at the weekend, there was no change at the top of the table as we enter the back to back Matchday 19 and 20 of the English Premier League. There were however, changes at the bottom as Crystal Palace, with only one win in their last twelve games (L8 D3), decided to part ways with manager Alan Pardew while American and former USA National Team manager Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties at Swansea City only 85 days after becoming the first American assigned a head job in the Premier League and further setting back the reputation of American soccer on the global stage. Will it be enough for both teams to avoid relegation by seasons end? Tune in to find out with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, December 31 (all times eastern) 12:30pm – Manchester City @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC

Jurgen Klopp (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) face off on Saturday at Liverpool as Klopp's Manchester City side looks to break a 3-game losing skid vs. Liverpool.

With Chelsea continuing to set the pace at the top of the table, second place Liverpool will welcome third place Manchester City, just a point behind the Reds, in what is sure to be a raucous atmosphere at Anfield for the marquee matchup of the weekend. Liverpool made it three wins in a row as they scored four unanswered goals to overturn an early hole and easily navigate past Stoke City 4-1 while Manchester City overcame a lackluster first half against bottom of the table Hull City to ship three goals in the game’s final twenty minutes past the relegation favorite Tigers in route to a 3-0 victory.

Facing a potentially very winnable home visit from the middle of the table Stoke City at the weekend, both Liverpool and Manchester City will be wary of dropping points as both title hopefuls continue to chase runaway league leaders Chelsea. The Reds will like their chances of staying within striking distance of the Blues, having won their last three league meetings against City and four of their last five, which has included a run of absolute dominance over the Citizens at Anfield, where they have lost just one time in their nineteen all time Premier League meetings (W13 D5).

Monday, January 2, 12:15am – Manchester United @ West Ham United – London Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After welcoming Middlesbrough to Old Trafford and traveling to defending champions Leicester City respectively only forty-eight hours before, Manchester United will visit the London Stadium to take on West Ham United with both sides enjoying a run of good form prior to their Saturday excursions, as United have won four in a row to remain unbeaten in their previous nine league matches (W5 D4) and their sights set squarely on a spot in the top four while West Ham have won three in a row since surviving a four game stretch against the top sides in the league which included a 1-1 draw with United.

Despite only picking up two points from a possible twelve during that brutal stretch, the Hammers have used it as a springboard to their recent surge in form heading into the New Year which has also coincided with them getting healthy throughout the squad after a rash of injuries to begin the campaign. They will have to hope that form can continue on Monday as United have lost only once in the last their last fifteen meetings with West Ham across all competitions and have failed to take points from the Hammers in just one of their last sixteen Premier League meetings (W11 D4).

Wednesday, January 3, -- 3pm – Chelsea @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

The busy Christmas period will come to a merciful end when Chelsea travel across town to take on Tottenham in what is shaping up to be an absolutely massive London Derby. Prior to their Saturday visit from Stoke City, Chelsea have reeled off twelve wins a row as they continue to threaten to run away at the top of the table as we head into the New Year while Tottenham, winners of three in a row and four of their last five (L1), are dangerously close to falling off the torrid pace their neighbors have been setting since September with one slipup likely leaving them an insurmountable climb to the top.

Chelsea have lost only once in their last thirteen Premier League meetings with their cross-town rivals, including taking all three points in this seasons matchup back in November at Stamford Bridge and failing to come away with points in only one of their last seven visits to White Hart Lane across all competitions (W2 D4). On the fringes of the top four and with Manchester United nipping at their heels, Tottenham is unlikely to get a better chance in the mid-week to toss their hat back into the title race however a similar result to their November meeting will make even a spot in the top four a tough ask.


Thursday
December 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 29
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praying for keion carpenter


This is one of those things I should have done a while back and didn't.

And now, this morning, I write it with a heavy heart.

There's a valuable lesson here. When you see someone doing valuable work or you need to show your appreciation for someone's efforts, do it then and there.

You never know when it might be too late.

Baltimore native and former NFL player Keion Carpenter is fighting for his life in a Florida hospital this morning.

I don't know much other than what I've been able to gather through the internet and social media, but Carpenter is in a coma after collapsing while exercising on Wednesday.

Shortly after 7 pm last night, reports surfaced that he had passed away. Former Baltimore sports reporter Aaron Wilson -- now with the Houston Chronicle -- reported that news initially and others, including Carpenter's former college coach, Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech, published their condolences.

In a crazy 90 minutes thereafter, we learned from family members that Carpenter hadn't passed away, but was instead in a coma.

"We're waiting for a second opinion," I was told when I reached out to someone who was in contact with Carpenter's family in Florida.

It doesn't sound good, unfortunately.

Keion Carpenter is 39 years old.

For those that don't know his story, Carpenter played high school football at Woodlawn, attended Virginia Tech, then played 8 NFL seasons with Buffalo and Atlanta.

Over the last decade, Keion has become a tireless worker in Baltimore's inner city, joining forces with other former Charm City NFL players like Antonio "Buttons" Freeman and Tommy Polley to create youth-based programs and projects that give children in the community an opportunity to see what sort of impact hard work and dedication can have in their lives.

Like my friend, Van Brooks, Carpenter is a recognizable figure in Baltimore because he has given back to his community in a way few people do.

Someone last week at Helping Up Mission asked me about Carpenter, noting that he had worked with Keion on a program in West Baltimore. "If you ever need someone to help you distribute clothing and stuff to kids, 'Kee' is there to help," he said.

I first met Carpenter in 2010 or so when I was on the air doing sports radio in Baltimore. My producer and co-host, Glenn Clark, would routinely stay in touch with Carpenter, Polley, etc. and we'd have them in studio once or twice a year to help promote their work in the community.

I remember once, when Tommy Polley was doing a weekly Ravens-themed show with me, the former Dunbar star saying to me off the air, "Keion's the one out of all us who dreams the biggest."

It's no surprise, then, that Keion recently opened the "Carpenter House", his grandest project yet. Its mission statement: The vision of the Carpenter House is to support the development of healthy homes and environments for low income children to thrive and reach their highest potential for academic success. Achieved through a holistic approach that provides access to outstanding mentors, enriching activities and organized sports to youth while creating a gateway to deliver multigenerational resources, such as nutrition and financial literacy, that aim to break down barriers to creating healthy homes. Our goal is to invest in, build and inspire communities of change.

Carpenter has also been involved in a campaign to stress accountability to young fathers, many of whom themselves -- like Carpenter -- grew up without a father figure in their life.

"Keion is passionate about wanting men to take accountability as fathers," Glenn Clark told me yesterday.

"When I told him two years ago I was going to be a father for the first time, he went out of his way to reach out and offer encouragement about how important this was going to be," Clark continued. "Having grown up without a father, it's his passion to help children from having to experience the same situation."

I remember once when Carpenter was in studio, I asked him about the end of his playing days and how he handled being ushered out of the NFL. "Both times, I knew I wasn't in their plans," I remember Carpenter saying to me with a smile. "I was the one that should have been thanking them, instead they brought me in and thanked me before letting me go. I got the better end of that deal. A boy from Woodlawn high school playing eight years in the NFL? I can't be mad at anybody."

How many professional athletes do you hear say that when they're told they've been released or cut?

In a world where athletes rarely do anything anymore without a fee or payment of some kind, Carpenter -- as well as Freeman and Polley -- never asked the radio station for a nickel. He just wanted the chance to come in and talk about his work, his vision and his community. That was payment enough for him.

I was stunned to read the news of Carpenter's death on Wednesday night, then followed along for a couple of hours as family members posted on social media that he hadn't passed away, but was in a coma in a Florida hospital.

It was a strange scene, to say the least.

Hoping for a miracle is what everyone is doing at this point.

Too many times, we gather after the fact to heap praise on someone who has done more than their fair share of hard work in our community.

Keion probably wouldn't want to read this today, saying he was just doing what God has pushed him to do, but the fact of the matter is there are kids in Baltimore whose lives have been impacted by Keion Carpenter.

Young boys have turned into teenagers and then, into men, and are growing up as responsible adults because of Keion's work with them.

While most former athletes try and lead a life of luxury when their career is finished, Carpenter went the other way. He went back to work. He went back to his community.

I'm saddened by Wednesday's turn of events and holding out hope that perhaps God decided at the last minute yesterday, "Maybe I'll send Carpenter back down there to continue his fine work."

Either way, no matter the end result, nothing will change the legacy of Keion Carpenter in Baltimore.

To learn more about Keion's community work in Baltimore and The Carpenter house, please visit: www.carpenter-house.org

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avoid the four-letter network and come here for the good stuff


While he left himself a little wiggle room yesterday ("I'm 89% sure I'm retiring"), it looks like Steve Smith Sr. is playing his final game on Sunday when the Ravens finish up in Cincinnati. While he won't finish his career with a Super Bowl ring, Smith's play in Baltimore over the last three years likely cemented his inclusion in football's Hall of Fame someday.

While I've personally grown tired of Smith's in-game "act", what the fans think about a player has nothing at all to do with their real greatness. It's what the guys in the locker room think, and how they've been impacted, that matters most. I can't imagine there's a player in the Ravens organization, past or present, who played with Smith and doesn't have wild respect for him as a competitor.

Sixteen years is a long time in any position or workplace. Smith is as dangerous on the field now as he was in his first year. While he might not run quite as fast, the rest of his game is almost oddly "better" with each passing season. He hasn't defeated father time, but it's a tie game with a minute left, you might say.

And, here's the thing no one is thinking about in Baltimore. With Smith gone next season, that leaves a huge hole to fill at wide receiver.

I suppose we'll hear names like Alshon Jeffery and DeAndre Hopkins in the off-season. Both of those guys are very capable receivers and would potentially fit in nicely with Joe Flacco and the offense.

Jeffery has some baggage -- he missed four games for a PED violation this season - but is a free agent this spring. Hopkins has one year left on his deal and reports out of Houston say the Texans likely won't be able to sign him when his contract expires after 2017, so they might be willing to deal him this off-season.

Either of those guys would help in Baltimore.

Despite last night's road loss at Virginia Tech, the UMBC men's basketball team is off to their best start in program history at 9-4.

Under first-year head coach Ryan Odom, the Retrievers have a road win at Duquesne and a home victory over The Citadel, the nation's highest scoring Division I team, plus narrow losses to Richmond of the A-10 and Towson of the CAA.

If you haven't seen the Retrievers play, yet, they are WELL worth checking out this season. Jairus Lyles is perhaps Baltimore's best college basketball player in 2016-2017, and sharp-shooting Joe Sherburne is in the Top 20 in the nation in 3-point shooting accuracy. Former Dulaney standout Will Darley is enjoying a superb senior season to date, and newcomer K.J. Maura serves as a more-than-useful point guard for UMBC.

They begin America East conference play next Thursday, January 5, at home vs. Binghamton. Make it a point to get out to the RAC this winter and see UMBC play basketball. It's well worth your time and the $5 admission price.

The Washington Capitals are back home tonight, taking on the New Jersey Devils, with New Jersey coming in with the worst record in the Eastern Conference (33 points).

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals have a great chance to gain ground on the New York Rangers this week with two games against the last place New Jersey Devils.

The Caps have fallen five points behind the Rangers, with Washington currently occupying fourth place in the Metropolitan Division with 44 points, although New York has played four games than the Caps at this point in the season.

With that in mind, tonight's game and Saturday's reciprocal contest at New Jersey are -- or should be -- an easy four points waiting to be claimed for the Caps. There's no reason at all they shouldn't win both of these next two games.

Washington's offense continues to be somewhat perplexing. The Caps are ranked 14th in the league in goals-per-game (2.7) and the real worry comes on the power play, where Washington, at 18.3%, is ranked 15th in the NHL. No team with Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov should be ever be ranked 15th on the power play.

Kuznetsov continues to be a mystery. He now has just 3 goals in 33 games this season and, while his assist total (15) ranks him second on the club in that category, you can basically get an assist in the NHL for sneezing on the puck at the right time. Three goals in almost half a season from one of the game's most delightful offensive talents is terrible, to be blunt.

Ovechkin leads the team in goals (16) but doesn't look quite as sharp as he has in years past. That said, nothing he does in the regular season matters, anyway. It's "Cup or bust" for #8, and his play next April or May will tell the story of his 2016-2017 campaign. If he can't get the Caps to the Stanley Cup Finals, his season is a failure.

I don't quite understand all of this shock and outrage at former NBA coach George Karl's new book, where he openly bashes several former players, including Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin. Karl couldn't say those things when he was coaching and those guys were still playing. He's not THAT dumb.

And, if you can't publish a book and include a few dirty tales and secrets, what good is publishing the book in the first place?

It's the NBA, not the Boy Scouts of America. There are egos, money, stature, and legacy involved with every player and every coach. Getting players on the same agenda as the coach? Nearly impossible in any sport, including "The Association".

I'm not defending Karl, per se, merely pointing out that anyone who writes a book as a "tell-all" has to actually wind up "telling" something that we didn't already know, or at least give greater detail to it.

Carmelo Anthony was a selfish, egotistical, non-defense playing brooder when he played for Karl in Denver? Gee, who knew?

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just four seats left on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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Wednesday
December 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 28
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with harbaugh safe, that's one piece of drama removed


So, John Harbaugh will be coaching the Ravens in 2017.

And, perhaps, beyond that, even.

Harbaugh's last reported contract extension was in 2014, locking him in, contractually, through the 2017 campaign.

Yesterday, a source told a national media outlet Harbaugh is actually signed beyond the 2017 season, so obviously a more recent extension was handed out to the head coach by owner Steve Bisciotti.

How much past 2017 is Harbaugh signed to? Who knows?

But he won't be entering the '17 campaign as a lame duck coach -- not that he ever would have -- and that's one major piece of the Ravens' puzzle going forward that is already in place.

They might be making a change at offensive or defensive coordinator, but they're not replacing the head coach.

Set to return for a 10th season in Baltimore, John Harbaugh's next order of business -- after Sunday's finale in Cincinnati -- will be making decisions on the Ravens offensive and defensive coordinator positions.

"Without a doubt, he's returning," a team official confirmed to me on Tuesday.

Bisciotti, it's fair to note, does have history of saying one thing and doing the other, going back to his days with Brian Billick. In late November, 2007, Bisciotti was quoted on the team's official website that Billick was "safe" and returning for the 2008 campaign, then abruptly changed course on December 31 and fired him after Baltimore's 5-11 season.

This situation with Harbaugh, though, seems different.

As I wrote here last weekend, Steve Bisciotti's relationship with Harbaugh is much different than the one he had with Billick, whom he inherited as his coach/employee in 2004 when he took full control of the team from the late Art Modell.

While it wasn't easy to fire Billick, particularly when he had to write him an $18 million going-away-present, Bisciotti didn't have to concern himself with looking an employee in the eye that he brought on board and saying to him, "I can't keep you here any longer."

That day will come with Bisciotti and Harbaugh, of course. You can't coach somewhere forever.

But it's not happening any time soon, and one of the reasons it's not occurring now after a fairly disappointing four-year post-Super Bowl run is because of Bisciott's overwhelming affection for Harbaugh both as a football coach and a man.

I can attest to the latter, for sure.

While I'm nowhere near as close to Harbaugh as Bisciotti is and have nothing at all invested in the coach, personally or professionally, he is, without question, one of my favorite people that I've ever met in sports.

You'll find no finer man, father or son than Harbaugh, anywhere. He's a person of incredibly high character, faith and integrity. Simply put -- they don't make 'em like that anymore.

Last year when his team was struggling, I sent the coach a quick note and included a scripture I thought he would enjoy: 2 Corinthinans, 4:8-9 -- 8) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9) persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

He took a moment later that day to reply with a brief, friendly note. That he took a minute out of his schedule to get back to me reminded me, even though I didn't need it, that he's a kind soul who also happens to be a helluva football coach.

As our own Brien Jackson noted in his piece here at #DMD yesterday, nothing speaks more highly of a coach than seeing how much effort his team puts in when there's nothing left to play for in the season. The 2015 Ravens squad played hard to the very end, despite essentially knowing in mid-November they weren't going back to the playoffs after making it in 2014. That's a testament to all of the coaches, not just Harbaugh, but any notion the team wasn't willing to play hard for their leader was erased with their effort in the season's final month a year ago.

Perhaps that was the point where Bisciotti rewarded him with the latest contract extension we're just now learning about? It seems reasonable to think the owner was impressed by what he saw, effort wise, in a season where all hope was lost before Thanksgiving.

So now, with any drama at all about Harbaugh's return in 2017 a non-story, the next two issues will center on the team's offensive and defensive coordinator positions.

My guess? It's 90% that Marty Mornhinweg won't return as the team's offensive leader. The only way that would be possible, I'd think, is if Joe Flacco campaigned heavily for Mornhinweg. Flacco, remember, lost the fight a few years back when the team relieved quarterback's coach Jim Zorn of his duties. He wasn't happy about Zorn's departure and voiced his displeasure, albeit with nothing to show for it.

If Flacco really, really wanted Mornhinweg back in 2017 as the coordinator, I could see that having an impact on Harbaugh's decision, perhaps. Failing that, though, I think the team is in the market for a new coordinator immediately.

Two names from the west coast that will undoubtedly surface will be former Redskins coach Norv Turner and current but perhaps soon-to-be-unemployed San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy, who likely sealed his departure this past Saturday when the Chargers lost to the then-winless Cleveland Browns.

Lots of people in San Diego and Chicago are speculating that McCoy will head to the Windy City to work with Bears coach John Fox. The two had success together in both Carolina and Denver before McCoy, 44, took the head gig with the Chargers.

If he doesn't immediately go to Chicago, the Ravens might very well interview McCoy for Mornhinweg's position if, in fact, it becomes open as most of us expect it will sometime soon.

Turner is available, but some close to him are suggesting he won't be returning to the NFL. He resigned abruptly from the Vikings back on November 2nd after three years in Minnesota, and in a league where consistency is critical, Turner's resignation during the season might not cast him in a favorable light with owners and coaches.

Baltimore's one of the few places Turner's never worked, actually. And with his prior head coaching experience, Harbaugh might look at Turner as a valuable resource who can help beyond just offensive play-calling and scheming.

The bet here is that the Ravens would be more interested in McCoy than Turner.

The prevailing thought around Owings Mills is that Dean Pees is going to return as the defensive coordinator if he elects to do so. He and Harbaugh have forged a close relationship over the years and while some of his late-game "prevent schemes" have been criticized in these parts, the truth of the matter is most defensive minds in the league play the same way when their team holds a lead with under three minutes remaining -- endeavoring not to give up chunks of yards or "the big play" late in the game.

Under Pees' leadership, the Ravens have seen several young players -- Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Zach Orr and Lawrence Guy -- flourish over the last few years. There have been some noteworthy defensive draft misses, for sure, but it's fair to note that Pees has done well with a number of the team's mid-round selections, including defensive back Tayvon Young, who had a solid rookie season in 2016.

With Rex Ryan now unemployed, there will naturally be links to a Ryan return in Baltimore, but I don't see that one happening.

If Pees doesn't want to return -- or the Ravens part company with him -- you might hear the name Gary Gibbs circulating as a possible replacement for him. Gibbs has been in the NFL for 15 seasons and was formerly a defensive coordinator in New Orleans before moving over to Kansas City, where he has been the Chiefs linebackers' coach for the last eight seasons.

Gibbs was also the head coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1989 through 1994. His obvious connection to Harbaugh would run through K.C. head coach Andy Reid, who also has another longtime friend of Harbaugh's on his staff, co-offensive coordinator Brad Childress.

With Harbaugh's (unreported) extension taking him beyond 2017, the final piece of the team's administrative puzzle now involves general manager Ozzie Newsome. How much longer will Newsome stay on board? And once he's gone, will he have any sort of role with the team or will all of it be turned over to GM-in-waiting, Eric DeCosta?

Look for Newsome to make a statement about his future at the team's annual "State of the Ravens" press conference sometime in January.

One thought is that the Hall of Fame tight end announces a one-year "exit plan" where the club elevates DeCosta into the GM position effective in 2018 and Newsome stays on board for one final season to provide for a more seamless transition period as his two decade tenure in Baltimore comes to an end.

It's been suggested by those who know Newsome that he doesn't want to leave on the heels of a bad season, and even though (potentially) 9-7 isn't necessarily "bad", any campaign not resulting in a trip to the playoffs is considered a failure by NFL execs, coaches and players.

Look for Newsome to stay through at least 2017 with the hope of ending his run on a more positive note than the 2016 campaign.

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the nfl's best six and worst six


Only one week left now.

It just seems like yesterday that the Ravens were squeaking past Buffalo, 13-7, on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon in Baltimore back in early September.

So, with one week remaining, who are the league's top six teams and who are the NFL's bottom six?

You know where to find those two answers. Right here.

The Worst Six --

27. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -- I'm not at all surprised that the Chargers lost to the Browns. I said for several weeks there was definitely a chance that San Diego would go to Cleveland and lay an egg on Christmas Eve. That loss probably sealed the fate of head coach Mike McCoy. When you're the team that lost to a 1-15 squad, you're usually looking for a job at season's end. Just ask Brian Billick, circa 2007.

28. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- That was a nice win for them over a Tennessee team that came in to last Saturday's game as one of the league's hottest teams. They're going to be torn apart in a week or so once the season ends -- new coach and all -- but the Jaguars might be one of those bad teams that just needs some new direction and a couple of good drafts and they could be competitive again.

29. NEW YORK JETS -- Heck, these guys might very well be the worst team in the league right now. After getting shellacked at home by the quarterback-less Dolphins two weeks ago, they went to Foxborough and completely caved in, losing 41-3 to the Patriots. Todd Bowles won't have to worry about getting hammered by New England next season, that's for sure.

30. LOS ANGELES RAMS -- Lose at home to the 49'ers and you're lucky you're not #32 on this list for at least a week. There might be bright days in store for the Rams down the road, but for the next couple of years at least, they're going to be a bottom feeder in the NFC.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ers-- Their win over the Rams in L.A. was more of an indictment on Los Angeles than a feather in the cap of the 49'ers, but a win is a win and San Francisco now has two of them this season -- both against the Rams, remember.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS-- It figures that on the week they win their first game, the 49'ers win their second. That San Francisco did it on the road last Sunday means I have to begrudgingly keep the Browns where they've been all season. At #32 on the list.


The Best Six--

6. GREEN BAY PACKERS -- When they were 4-6, Aaron Rodgers told the Green Bay media he thought the team could "run the table" and finish 10-6 and win the NFC North. Well, they're one win away from doing that. If Green Bay beats Detroit on Sunday night, they'll be a tough out in January.

With a couple of weeks to rest before Pittsbugh hosts a playoff game the weekend of Jan 7-8, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers are taking dead aim at the Patriots in the AFC.

5. PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- They'll be talking about "The Stretch" for a long time in Pittsburgh, that's for sure. They went from needing help in week #16 from the Bengals to owning a home game in the post-season AND potentially earning themselves a trip to Oakland to see the Derek Carr-less Raiders in the second round of the playoffs. Any team with Ben, Bell and Brown is capable of winning four post-season games. Watch out for Pittsburgh now.

4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -- They're actually better than Oakland now that Matt McGloin is behind center for the Raiders, but we have to give McGloin at least one regular season game to prove that point. If K.C. somehow wins the West and gets the #2 seed, things change dramatically in the AFC playoff picture.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- Carr's broken leg is such a terrible tragedy for the Raiders, who were poised to give New England a run for their money in January with their dynamic offense and wildly unpredictable defense. I'm not expecting much from Matt McGloin.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS -- I have to admit, that was an impressive performance on Monday night in their 42-21 romp over the Lions. With nothing at all to play for, and plenty to lose, the Cowboys treated the game as if they were the ones needing to win to secure a playoff spot. I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop with these guys all year, but maybe it's not going to fall after all.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- I'm almost amused now with watching the Patriots decimate teams week after week, despite seemingly losing a key player with every game they play. Some people are bored with New England's success, but the more I watch them, the more intrigued I become with them.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2016-2017.


terps pound disinterested illinois, 84-59


The misnomer of the year might be “Fighting Illini” as the visiting Illinois men’s basketball team had absolutely no fight in them while being dismantled on Tuesday by the Maryland Terrapins in front of a spirited crowd at College Park. The final score of 84-59 pretty much tells the whole story.

Maryland jumped to an early lead and never looked back. The scoreboad advantage hit double digits at the 12:43 mark of the first half and grew to 17 a few minutes later.

The Terps were ahead by 16 points, 39-23, when the first half ended.

The play by play for the half was pretty simple and very repeatable. A Terp guard dribbles, blows by the Illini defender, and makes a layup. Every once in a while the penetrator would dish to a wide open trailer for an easy chip shot. There wasn’t much resistance put up by the porous (no use of "fighting") Illini defense.

Maryland freshman guard Anthony Cowan played 34 of 40 minutes in last night's Big 10 conference opener, an 84-59 Terps win. He finished with 12 points and just one turnover on the night.

It mattered little that the Terps had 8 turnovers in the first half, or that they surrendered 8 offensive rebounds to Illinois, or that they made only 3 of their 12 three point attempts.

None of that matters when your opponent shoots 26% from the field, goes 1 for 10 shooting threes, and allows 26 points in the paint in only 20 minutes.

Maryland connected on 14 of its 19 attempts inside the arc. For the most part those baskets were layups with an occasional dunk thrown in.

The second half was almost a mirror image of the first.

The Terps' lead grew to 31 with seven minutes remaining as Maryland poured in another 22 points in the paint.

With coach Mark Turgeon’s options limited due to injuries to his two big men, (Damonte Dodd with a knee, and Michal Cekovsky with a foot/ankle) he went small for long stretches. Freshman guard Anthony Cowan logged a team high 34 minutes and responded with 12 points and 6 assists against one turnover. Jaylen Brantley had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Melo Trimble led all Terps with 20 points in 28 minutes.

The Terps quickness on the perimeter made the Illini defense look woefully inept.

Inept may be too kind of a word for the Illinois offense last night.

With an offensive game plan worse than anything I’ve seen since the Ravens had Cam Cameron, the Illiois often took quick difficult shots or three pointers that weren’t close to being on the mark. The most effective and efficient offensive sets they ran were low post sets for their huge center Mike Thorne Jr. who finished with 10 points on 5-9 shooting. But he only was on the floor 19 minutes and was hardly ever the first option on offensive sets.

With as much trouble as the Terps had defending Thorne, it’s puzzling why Illini coach, John Groce, didn’t go to him far more often. I realize Malcolm Hill is the star, and he did tally 21 points on 6 of 10 shooting, but the ball clearly needed to be worked inside out through Thorne. Why that didn’t happen is a total mystery when you consider Maryland’s lack of a big rim protector.

Of course, Maryland deserves some credit for the big win. They exploited the defensive weaknesses of Illinois and out-hustled their opponent for the entire 40 minutes. With a few exceptions, they took high percentage shots while beating Illinois to the paint off the dribble.

It was a guard oriented victory where Turgeon used what he had to exploit a deficiency he saw in the Illinois defense. It worked.

Next up for Maryland (13-1) is a New Year’s Day game at home against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

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just four seats left on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Tuesday
December 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 27
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the ravens just need better players and...they'll be better


Everywhere you look, people have an opinion on how to get the Ravens back into the upper echelon of the AFC.

"Harbaugh has to go" many are saying on social media.

"We need a new quarterback!" others are claiming.

"Dean Pees is the biggest problem. Get rid of him and improve the defense!" is a familiar rallying cry following Sunday's 31-27 loss to the Steelers.

"Ozzie needs to find some playmakers!" is also something you're seeing a lot of now that we've witnessed the Ravens get shredded by Pittsburgh's Killer B's (Ben, Bell and Brown).

Because it's our specialty here in Charm City, nearly everyone in town is overreacting in the wake of the loss at Pittsburgh on Sunday. It's one of the things we do best in Baltimore when it comes to managing our sports emotions.

We panic.

So, let's sit back, take a deep breath, and look very realistically today at what the Ravens really need to get back into the playoffs in the AFC. Remember, there's a big difference between what we want (22 "great" players) and what we what need.

The first thing we need is the ability, simply, to stay cool. In other words, don't panic. No knee-jerk firings, player cuts, etc. Take a deep breath.

Let's first look at where the Ravens are. I think we'd all agree it doesn't matter to us what they do in Cincinnati on Sunday, but the team, coach and players would like to win the game and finish at 9-7. I have great respect for that decision and effort on their part.

If there's a football game being played and you're in it, you should either want to win or you shouldn't be in the league any longer.

The answer to the Ravens' woes? It's not firing this guy, it's simply getting better players for him to coach.

Win or lose, though, nothing really changes about the way the Ravens should proceed in the off-season. Finishing 9-7 or 8-8 is the same in that regard.

Either way, though, no matter what happens in Cincinnati on Sunday, it's important to remember the Ravens were essentially an outstretched arm away from finishing 10-6 and winning the AFC North. Sure, they would have still needed to win in Cincy to complete the season-ending three-game winning streak, but it's important to remember that the Ravens might very well have missed out on the playoffs by about, oh, twelve inches or so.

In other words: They're not that far away.

Because everything starts at quarterback, let's go there first. Joe Flacco will be behind center in 2017. There's no way around that, whether or not you like #5 or think he's a scrub. His contract locks him in, for starters, although it wouldn't surprise me to see the Ravens draft a quarterback in the first four rounds this spring if they thought he was capable of starting in a few years.

The Ravens can win with Flacco at quarterback, folks.

Yes, he occasionally throws off his back foot.

Sure, he has wildly inconsistent games, sometimes looking like Kyle Boller in the first half and Peyton Manning in the second half.

And, like every other quarterback in the league not named Tom Brady, he makes plenty of head scratching decisions and throws in a 16-game season.

You want to know how crazy people are about quarterbacks? There are folks in Pittsburgh who think Roethlisberger stinks and that the Steelers would be better off with someone else under center.

The dude's going to the Hall of Fame some day and has pulled more rabbits out of his hat than David Copperfield and every time he has a bad game or two, people in Pittsburgh want him gone. Amazing, really.

The Ravens can win with Flacco, in the same way the Lions are on the doorstep of the playoffs with Matthew Stafford, the Cowboys are poised to perhaps go to the Super Bowl with a rookie behind center, and the Dolphins were guided into playoff contention by career underachiever Ryan Tannehill.

Quarterbacking is a lot like baseball pitching. It often "comes to you" in odd times in your career.

Anyone remember when Rick Porcello was drafted by the Tigers in the first round back in 2007? He was going to be the next great right hander in Major League Baseball.

His first five years in the big leagues, his ERA hovered around 4.50 or so. He couldn't figure it out.

In 2015, he was traded to the Red Sox and his ERA ballooned to 4.92, tying his career high.

Last season, he went 22-4, posted a 3.15 ERA and won the American League Cy Young Award.

Moral of the story?

Players peak at different times.

Some guys find it early, lose it for a while, then get it back.

Often, there's no way of knowing exactly why an athlete went from top-to-bottom back to the top again. It's sports. Everything's weird.

Flacco isn't a bum. Not by any means. There are a dozen teams in the league who would take him as their quarterback, just like their are a dozen teams in the league who would take Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford.

The Ravens, unfortunately, do have a handful of bums who need replaced, and that, as always, is easier said than done.

Bum, I'll remind you, is code word for: "not good enough anymore". It's not a reflection of the player's character, but more his on-field performance.

The Ravens need better players, period.

That doesn't mean they shouldn't look to improve their coaching staff, mind you. I personally don't think firing John Harbaugh is the answer. That's my own endorsement, if one is needed, for Harbaugh returning as the team's head coach in 2017.

Finding and drafting a tight end of Rob Gronkowski's ilk would do Joe Flacco a lot more good than, say, firing the head coach.

I think it's obvious the club needs a new offensive coordinator.

But to go with that, they need better offensive players, too.

Kenneth Dixon certainly looks like a "keeper" at running back. Terrence West is good enough to hold a roster spot, although I think one more quality running back wouldn't hurt, either.

The Ravens' offense, in my opinion, needs two things desperately.

They need a legitimate, All-Pro type center.

And they need a legitimate, All-Pro type tight end.

Sure, they need play-makers at wide receiver, but they have three guys right now (assuming Steve Smith retires) in Aiken, Wallace and Perriman that can all catch 50-60 passes next season. All the Ravens need are two more good receivers and they can make do with what they have at the receiver position.

But they can't bring in scrubs there. Their receiving additions need to be high quality.

Paramount to their improvement, though: A center and a big, strong, Gronkowski-type tight end. And no, I'm sorry, Crockett Gillmore isn't "that guy". Neither is Maxx Williams. Nor is Nick Boyle.

The Ravens need a new offensive coordinator, yes, but what they REALLY need are 4-5 better players.

The same goes for the defense.

Is there some dead wood on that side of the ball? Of course. Age, injuries and salary have caught up to guys like Webb, Dumervil, Suggs and Elam.

They brought in a 32-year old safety last off-season -- Eric Weddle -- and despite the fact that he "plays like a Raven", he wasn't exactly the second coming of Ed Reed back there this season.

Brandon Williams is a free agent this spring. He'll command big bucks and likely leaves for the highest bidder. That's a big hole to fill, too.

This off-season for the Ravens is most certainly going to be about signing a few free agents and having a whopper of a draft. It's the only way to get better in the NFL.

The Ravens need better players, folks.

They don't need 25 better players. They're not the Browns or the Rams.

They need, honestly, eight to ten significant upgrades in quality in order to compete for another title.

They can add those players through the draft, through free agency, or, maybe someone like Carl Davis ('15 draft pick) finally gets it together and becomes a contributor.

Let's look at one more thing about this whole "we've missed the playoffs in three of the last four years" issue.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012.

They missed the playoffs in 2013. I'd say that's almost a given for any team winning the Super Bowl who doesn't have Tom Brady as their quarterback.

If we all knew why it happens that way, we'd bottle it up and sell it to the NFL for a gazillion dollars. But, it invariably happens a lot. You win the Super Bowl, you miss the post-season the next year.

Denver and Carolina played in last year's big game and neither are back in the post-season this January.

So, the Ravens missed the post-season in 2013. Who cares? They just won the Super Bowl the season before, right?

The following year, they went back to the playoffs and beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh before losing to the Patriots in New England the following weekend.

No shame there.

Last year, they gave away the first game in Denver when Steve Smith dropped a likely game-winning TD pass in the end zone with less than a minute remaining, got off to a slow start thereafter, were wrecked with injuries, lost their quarterback near mid-season and -- well, you know what happened from there.

OK, those things happen to every team not in New England.

And then, this season, they lost the AFC North, perhaps, by the length of a football on the final play of the game in Pittsburgh.

The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011 and returned to the playoffs for the first time since then this season. They went FOUR years without getting back into the post-season.

It happens. You don't want it to happen to YOUR team, but I have news for you, unless you're New England, it's likely happening to your team at some point soon.

Every time you go back-to-back years and fail to make the playoffs, the answer isn't necessarily firing everyone.

The answer is, I believe, "get better players".

Anyone know what Bill Belichick's record was when he coached the Browns in the '90's? He was 36-44 in five seasons, making the playoffs once.

Once he got to New England and accidentally discovered a 6th round draft pick named Tom Brady, things got a lot better for Belichick.

Sure, he's a terrific coach. And they've built a wonderfully successful, consistent franchise in Foxborough.

But it's mostly been about Brady, if we're being honest.

Belichick wouldn't have four rings if, say, Jay Cutler would have been his QB from 2001 through 2016.

The Ravens are going to potentially finish 9-7 and one game out of the playoffs.

Several other teams are going to meet the same fate, basically, in 2016. Tampa Bay might finish 9-7 and not get in. Same with Denver. Tennessee as well.

That's not excusing bad losses to Oakland, Washington or the Jets.

Actually, even given those ill-timed defeats back in October, the Ravens still nearly made it back to the post-season.

They aren't as far away as you think.

In nearly every loss, one key play turned the game against them. Once in a while, that might have been a coaching mistake or blunder. But more times than not, the other team -- remember them? they try, too -- had a better player than we did at a critical moment in the game. See Odell Beckham Jr. with a minute left at the Meadowlands or Antonio Brown at Heinz Field for Examples A and B.

The Ravens need a handful of better players and they'll be just fine in 2017.

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brien jackson

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


When the Ravens and Bengals kickoff on Sunday, it will mark an historic occasion for quarterback Joe Flacco; the first time he's played an NFL game with no chance left to make it to the Super Bowl.

The Ravens were in that position last year, of course, but not until after Flacco had joined the long list of injuries that plagued the team en-route to a 5-11 finish.

Amidst a the pain of a heartbreaking loss in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day and the disappointment of missing the playoffs for the third time in the four seasons since Super Bowl 47, it's worth stopping to consider how consistently competitive this franchise has been in the nine years since Flacco and John Harbaugh came to town.

Don't undersell the level of the accomplishment either.

While eight and nine win seasons aren't terribly impressive in isolation, for the Ravens -- under Harbaugh/Flacco -- it's effectively been their floor for victories.

Why mess with the head coaching position when you already have a good one? The Ravens have a good one. Their problems run much deeper than John Harbaugh.

In nine years, it took a season with a truly absurd number of significant injuries to starters, including the quarterback, to push this pair below the .500 mark in a single season. In a league built on parity, where the bottom can fall out on teams at any given time, that really is a remarkable fact.

Just look at the Panthers, who in the span of one offseason went from the league's best team and a Super Bowl participant to a group that's struggled to get to 6-9 going into the season's last week. In recent history, only the Patriots, Steelers, Seahawks, and Packers have matched the Ravens track record of being consistently solid, provided they stayed reasonably healthy.

All of those teams have one thing in common: They hold claim to a top tier quarterback and/or head coach. It might be cliche, but a lot of cliches are true, and the NFL is a league where success is built on quarterback play and good coaching.

The Ravens can't honestly claim that they have a top tier quarterback in Flacco, which leaves the obvious inference that John Harbaugh is one of the league's three or four very best head coaches, a claim that I'd very strongly defend.

Harbaugh's track record speaks for itself.

In nine seasons, he's had only one year below .500, and with a win this week will have seven winning seasons. He's one of the league's most successful playoff coaches ever, with a truly remarkable record of winning on the road in January.

He has as many Super Bowl titles as he does losing seasons in nearly a decade at the helm, and three times as many AFC Championship appearances. And even in that awful 5-11 season, with the injury bug claiming starter after starter after starter, Harbaugh kept his team playing hard to the bitter end, staying within striking distance in nearly every game.

That we even have to seriously consider whether or not a head coach with that level of success is going to keep his job going forward speaks to the degree to which fans in this city have gotten fat on their own level of success, and have begun to act like a parody of the most entitled fanbases in sports.

Harbaugh's not without his flaws by any means, but the important question to consider when assessing the degree of these flaws is -- compared to what? Harbaugh gets a lot of criticism for clock management, but any honest assessment of the other coaches in the league would have to conclude that Harbaugh is easily above average in that regard.

The Ravens can almost always be counted on to burn a timeout with the play clock running down at some point in the second half, right? The same is true of literally every other team. Meanwhile, Harbaugh basically always has his 53 players ready to play, has grown to be one of the best coaches in the league at having a handle on the scoring situation (when playing it safe with points doesn't do you any good), and keeps his teams motivated every single week.

You've never seen a team quit on Harbaugh, even when there was ostensibly nothing to play for, and you've never seen a Harbaugh team suddenly look like a hapless squad going nowhere. Even this year, national analysts have been saying for weeks that the Ravens were a potentially dangerous team if they could make it into the playoffs, and they came within inches of claiming their own destiny Sunday evening.

But, Harbaugh's detractors would say, he's been the beneficiary of a talented roster, and great leaders in the form of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

This is ridiculous, and defies that laws of the NFL. Anyone who watches the league regularly knows that coaching matters, and matters in a big way. Great players, great on-field leaders, simply don't overcome coaches who are in over their head and don't get their teams prepared on a weekly basis. Success over a period of time as a head coach speaks for itself, and a couple of current coaches prove that nicely.

The first example is Andy Reid.

Reid was Mr. Philadelphia for a time, and it wouldn't have been surprising to see him spend an entire career running the Eagles. But after finishing 4-12 in 2012 (only his second losing season in Philly, not counting his first year) the Eagles let Reid go. He was immediately snatched up by Kansas City, where he's led them to winning seasons in each of his four seasons, making the playoffs in three of them.

The Eagles, meanwhile, played in just one playoff game under Chip Kelly, who replaced Reid as one of the hottest coaching prospects in recent memory before getting fired after decimating the organization in just three seasons.

In his first year as the head coach in San Francisco, Kelly enters Week 17 with the inside track on the first overall pick in next year's draft.

Reid has been much maligned for his deficiencies as a head coach, and not without some merit. He's a terrible game/clock manager and hasn't won a playoff game in Kansas City, but he did win 130 games with the Eagles, and made it to four NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. It turns out that you have to be a pretty good coach to have that level of success, and that that level of talent translates into being able to turn another team into a perennial playoff contender as well.

The other, more decisive, example is Jim Caldwell.

As the head coach of the Colts, Caldwell went 24-8 and made the Super Bowl in his first two seasons, but then fell to 2-14 when Peyton Manning missed all of 2011. That campaign cost him his job, as he was widely maligned as a mediocre at best coach who was only successful because of Manning.

But lo and behold, he came to Baltimore and won a Super Bowl as a QB coach/offensive coordinator the next season, and, since taking over the Lions in 2014, he's gone 27-19 and is poised for his second playoff appearance in three seasons.

This for a franchise that went 11-21 in the two seasons before Caldwell got there. The lesson here is that coaches who win at a high level are good coaches basically by definition, and that these men will do well wherever they are. The hot new coaching prospects, meanwhile, are hit or miss at best.

What the Ravens require more than anything at the moment is a bit of perspective.

They had a terrific five year run from 2008-12 that was capped off with a Super Bowl title. Since then they're been in a quasi-rebuilding phase, and even now they have some pretty glaring holes in key areas that I'll address at greater length in the coming days.

But all the same, they've been able to hover in the 8-10 wins range (again excepting the injury riddle 2015 season), and even won yet another road playoff game during that period. That's truly remarkable for the NFL, where even good teams/coaches tend to go through a much leaner period when transitioning from one roster era to the next.

It would be a mistake to exclude Harbaugh from the credit for this 9-year run that 20-some other franchises would kill to enjoy, or to somehow imagine that the Ravens, as a franchise, enjoyed this level of success before Harbaugh got here.

Harbaugh has his flaws, but he's a winning coach on the biggest of stages, and those aren't easy to come by. Maybe the team could find a replacement who would hit the right notes to take them to the next level immediately, but that's extremely unlikely.

More likely, if the Ravens do make the drastic move to fire their head coach, they'll be hiring the next Chuck Pagano or Chip Kelly, while they watch John Harbaugh coach the Bengals to the AFC North title and AFC Championship game next season.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in 2016-2017.


terps face bigger, stronger illinois tonight


Big Ten Conference basketball returns to the XFINITY Center this evening when the much improved Fighting Illini invade College Park to take on the Terps for a rare 5 p.m. contest.

Illinois has a 10-3 record and is coming off of solid wins against BYU (75-73) and Missouri (75-66). Maryland enters with a 12-1 mark.

This season wasn’t looking promising for head coach John Groce’s team after they suffered an overtime loss to Winthrop followed by an 89-57 blowout loss to West Virginia and a 72-61 beat-down handed to them by Florida State on Black Friday. The Fighting Illini were 4-3 and still had to play NC State, VCU, BYU, and Missouri before heading into conference play.

But Illinois reversed their fortunes and turned it up a notch while winning all four of those games, and also beating two lesser opponents. They roll into today’s ESPN2 televised game against Maryland with a six game winning streak and a bundle of confidence.

This Illinois team, like many Big 10 sides this season, should be vastly improved.

The Terps need a strong shooting and ball handling night from Melo Trimble in the Big 10 opener this evening against an improved Illinois team.

Illinois has talent throughout their senior laden line-up, but they rely heavily on their 6’6” senior guard Malcom Hill. Hill, a 2nd team all BIG 10 player last year, averages a team leading 18.4 ppg and grabs a little over 6 rebounds per game. He has a strong 225 pound frame that allows him to get inside against defenders that aren’t quite as physical, but his 42% three point shooting doesn’t allow a defender to play off of him to protect against the drive. Hill will draw more than his share of attention, but is not the only weapon for the Fighting Illini.

Guard Tracy Abrams is back for his sixth season after having back to back years that were ended by injuries. His 2015-2016 ended with a torn Achilles tendon and the season prior to that he was derailed by a torn ACL.

Maybe he did nothing but work on his shot during the last two years because he is currently hitting almost 60% of his three point attempts (he is a career 27% shooter) while averaging almost 12 ppg. Abrams also adds a bit of speed and some ball handling abilities to the Illini starting five. He and Hill have started every game this year.

Illinois will also present some inside problems for Maryland defenders. They have two not-so-polished interior threats who aren’t shy to put the ball up.

Their 270 pound sixth year senior Mike Thorn will use his big frame and near 7’ height to attack in the paint. He is not the most fluid post-up player in the league, but he likes to turn to his right to shoot the baby jump hook. When Thorn is taking a breather, Maverick Morgan (another senior), will bring his 6’10” and 240 pound body into the paint looking for easy put-backs and the occasional short jumper. Morgan averages 9 ppg in 21 minutes of playing time.

Both Morgan and Thorn have very little range and don’t venture far from the basket. The other big man for Illinois, Michael Finke, is just as likely to shoot a 3 (39 attempts) as he is to shoot a 2 point shot (40 attempts).

Rounding out the likely starters for Illinois are 6’7” forward Leron Black and Jalen Coleman-Lands. Both of these sophomores were national Top 50 recruits and both have no hesitation when it comes to launching shots. Coleman-Lands set a freshman record last year for three point shots made while Black’s meniscus surgery made him just another injured Fighting Illini who missed notable time last year.

Despite having talent, sometimes this Illinois team just doesn’t get it done. Their turnovers, streaky shooting, and tendency towards undisciplined and sloppy play keep them from being in the upper tier of Big 10 teams.

This Illinois team plays mainly a man to man defensive style but are far from a lockdown unit on the defensive end of the court.

The interior size and rebounding ability of the Illinois front court could very well be the difference in this game. Hill is going to get his points, but it’s the easy buckets inside that need to be stopped if Maryland is going to emerge victorious tonight.

For the Terps it’s a familiar recipe, they need to force turnovers and hit threes. The question becomes, can they shoot well enough to offset their bigger and stronger Big 10 foe? The linesmakers say, "Yes they can" as the Terps are a 4-point favorite.

I have to take the points here. I just don’t trust Maryland's ability to overcome their lack of muscle. Illinois may be picked by some to finish 11th in the Big 10 regular season, but they get the job done on the road tonight. Let’s go with a 71-68 upset of the Maryland Terrapins tonight in College Park.

Hughes Mechanical
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just four seats left on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


your christmas gift to helping up mission is here in living color!


Earlier this month, we held our 7th annual Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota. My old radio pal Glenn Clark and I have been doing this since 2010, going from a donation of 440 pieces of clothing in year one to over 5,000 (145 large trash bags full) articles of clothing in 2016!

The video below tells the whole story. The sound quality isn't the greatest, unfortunately, but if you'll bear with us and stick with it for nearly 30 minutes, I think you'll enjoy what you see.

Special thanks to #DMD superman Tony Young, who produced the entire piece and arranged it in such a way that you get a wonderful sense of the three week project and how grateful the men are from Helping Up Mission when they see us each December.

Again, a final word of appreciation to all of you who donated items, plus our friends at Jerry's Toyota, Glory Days Grill, Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Kelly Payroll, Hughes Mechanical and the Baltimore Blast.

Enjoy the video and Merry Christmas from all of us at #DMD to all of you!



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Monday
December 26
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Issue 26
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one out-stretched arm ends baltimore's playoff hopes in pittsburgh


One team lost their season by the length of a football and the other earned a home playoff game and a potential chance to play in the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, it was the Ravens who came up on the bad end of that deal.

One length of the football decided the season for John Harbaugh’s team.

Obviously, a lot more than that went into the Ravens losing Sunday’s 31-27 thriller in Pittsburgh, but it all came down to that Antonio Brown touchdown catch with nine seconds left.

And a lot more went into the Ravens not making the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. We all know that as well.

There were those four straight losses in October, two at home and two on the road, including a laugher in the Meadowlands against the hapless Jets that likely wouldn’t have happened had Baltimore not knocked New York quarterback Geno Smith out of the game in the second quarter.

Not many teams lose four games in a row in a 16-game season and make the playoffs.

Joe Flacco's best game of the season went for naught on Sunday in Pittsburgh, as the Ravens defense couldn't protect a 10-point fourth quarter lead in a season-ending 31-27 to the Steelers.

And it’s rare that you give up 21 points in the fourth quarter and still figure out a way to win – and while they nearly did it on Sunday at Heinz Field, the Ravens’ failure to make a defensive stop on any of Pittsburgh’s final three offensive possessions was their death knell.

If there’s any blessing at all, it’s that Joe Flacco produced an “elite” performance on Sunday and wasn’t at all to blame for the season-ending defeat. At least we won’t have to hear that all off season; “Flacco stinks, he played like a bum with the season on the line in Pittsburgh”.

But Sunday’s loss at Heinz Field will sting for a long time, as the Ravens shoulda, coulda, woulda beat the Steelers to set up a “win and in” scenario next Sunday vs. the Bengals.

The minutiae of it all is nearly too much to outline here, but we'll spotlight a handful of the many turning points that potentially changed the outcome of the game – and the season.

For starters, not having Jimmy Smith healthy and available on Sunday was a burden the Baltimore defense couldn’t overcome. One player does not a loss make, granted, but Smith’s absence was mega-costly. Not an excuse – not the reason why the Ravens lost, but a critical element of the game.

Baltimore made five trips into Pittsburgh territory in the first half, yet produced just two field goals for all of their offensive work. Those failures to reach the end zone would come back to haunt the team later on.

Down 7-3 early in the second quarter, Flacco found Dennis Pitta a step from the end zone, but the normally sure-handed tight end wasn’t able to come down with the ball and a 10-7 lead was gone.

Two plays later, a once-a-season mistake by holder Sam Koch resulted in an aborted field goal attempt and the Ravens failed to get any points on the drive.

In a game they’d eventually lose by four points, the seven points they lost when Pitta didn’t complete that catch turned out to be vitally important.

Ahead 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, and with the Steelers reeling and wobbly, Flacco found Darren Waller in the end zone and the Ravens were about to be up 24-10 – except Waller couldn’t hold on to the ball and Baltimore was forced to kick a field goal to extend their margin to 20-10.

It wasn’t nearly as critical as the Anquan Boldin late-game drop in the 2011 playoffs at Heinz Field or the Lee Evans “strip” in the 2012 AFC title tilt, but it changed the momentum of that offensive series and gave the Steelers a smidgen of life despite the ten-point deficit.

Six minutes later, Pittsburgh led, 24-20, as the Baltimore defense started to shrivel up.

There was some unintended drama when the Ravens went ahead, 27-24 with 1:18 to play in the game. Kyle Juszczyk scampered into the end zone from ten yards out to give Baltimore the lead, but if he would been taken down on the two or three yard line, as it appeared he might, Baltimore might have been able to chew up more clock and force the Steelers to use their final two time outs.

Instead, the fullback rumbled in to give Baltimore the lead, but he also gave the Steelers offense more than enough time to fleece the beleaguered Ravens defense on the game’s final drive.

I saw folks on Twitter beating up Juszczyk for not intentionally falling down short of the goal line so the Ravens could wittle the clock down, but that’s not the smart play there, particularly when you need a touchdown to go ahead. All you need is a holding call, a sack, a fumble, etc. – assuming Juszczyk purposely came up just short of scoring – and you go from leading to losing, because you opted not to score when it was there in front of you.

Let’s make sure everyone understands that Juszczyk did exactly the right thing by scoring. But it might have benefitted the Ravens had the Steelers somehow tackled him short of the goal line – assuming Baltimore would have scored a TD, of course, which wasn’t a guarantee.

After a less than stellar first three quarters, Ben Roethlisberger turned in a virtuoso performance in the fourth quarter on Sunday, culminating with a game-winning 75 yard drive in the final 1:09 of the contest.

On the final touchdown that gave Pittsburgh the victory, Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown near the goal-line and he was able to stretch his hand and the ball out to break the plane and earn the six points.

But if just one Baltimore defender hits Brown a half-yard earlier…and he isn’t able to get that TD, the game would have likely ended right then and there. I don’t think the Steelers would have been able to get to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball to stop the clock in eight seconds.

If – and they have a lot of playing to do in January to get to Houston – the Steelers somehow get to the Super Bowl, that stretch by Brown to get the TD will go down as one of the greatest plays in league history in a game that mattered.

Let’s give Roethlisberger his due. As I always like to say, “The other team tries, too”, and he showed why he’ll be in Canton someday with his performance in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t all that great in the first three quarters – minus that early TD throw on their first series which was textbook-perfect – but he was large and in charge in the final fifteen minutes when he rallied the Steelers from that 20-10 deficit.

Big Ben’s life was made easier on Sunday because both Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs failed to appear for the showdown at Heinz Field.

As I noted in #DMD on Saturday in my game-preview, the two Baltimore pass rushers would be critically important to the outcome. Sadly, neither came through with anything close to a vintage performance, as Roethlisberger was virtually untouched for most of the afternoon.

Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh was more about the defense than offense, yes, but it was really a “team effort” in the way the Ravens offense kept the Steelers in the game with their first half shortcomings and, then later on, a failure to produce a knock-out blow on the Waller dropped pass in the end zone with the score 17-10.

No one player or any one thing cost the Ravens the game and their playoff hopes on Sunday.

Some of it went back to that home loss to the Raiders, where the Baltimore defense got torched by Derek Carr and Company.

Some of it went back to that away defeat to the Jets.

Each loss matters, which is why every single one of them contributed to the situation in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day.

And every mistake on Sunday was tied into the way it all played out in the final 1:09 of the fourth quarter.

Too many missed opportunities on offense.

Not enough quality in the secondary on defense.

And no pressure on a Hall of Fame quarterback, who had all day to find one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers (Bell) for the go-ahead touchdown and the most dangerous receiver in the game (Brown) for the game-winner.

The Steelers best players showed up in the fourth quarter on Sunday when their season was on the line.

The Ravens? Everyone tried hard, but it wasn’t good enough. And for the third time in four years, they’ll be watching the playoffs from home in January.

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and now...the real drama begins for ravens in owings mills


If you think Sunday's Ravens-Steelers game was drama-filled, wait until you see what goes on at 1 Winning Drive over the next few weeks as the Ravens settle themselves into the off-season and try and figure out how to get pack into the post-season after failing to get in for the second straight campaign in 2016.

The sting of starting 3-0 this season and not making the playoffs won't be dampened by the fact that a bunch of other teams (Denver, Philly, Minnesota) did the same thing. Those four straight losses in October will loom large as Steve Bisciotti evaluates his franchise moving forward.

Bisciotti's first order of business will be making whole with head coach John Harbaugh, who has one year left on his contract. As I've noted on several occasions recently here at #DMD, there's no chance the coach will enter the 2017 campaign as a "lame duck". That means Bisciotti really only has two options; end Harbaugh's 9-year tenure in Baltimore or give him some sort of contract extension.

After failing to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years, John Harbaugh's fate now lies in the hands of the guy who hired him back in 2008, Steve Bisciotti.

My guess? Sunday's 31-27 loss to Pittsburgh was more than enough for the owner to see that the team still plays hard for Harbaugh. Maybe if the Ravens lose that one 34-13 in blowout fashion, Bisciotti looks at the whole thing differently, but when cooler heads prevail, he'll see it all for what it was: Despite the injuries earlier in the campaign and the ups and downs that go into a regular season, his team wound up losing the AFC North because of an out-stretched arm at the goal-line on the game's final play in Pittsburgh.

It's also fair to point out that Bisciotti and Harbaugh have a different relationship than did the owner and Brian Billick. Steve inherited Billick, and there were numerous accounts of those two having more than one personal run-in or flare-up in the infancy of Steve's tenure as the team's sole owner in the 2004.

Bisciotti -- after a proposal to Jason Garrett that was turned down -- hired Harbaugh on his own watch in January of 2008. There's a fondness for one another that might be hard to tear apart, even in times like these where the Ravens haven't done much of anything since winning the Super Bowl in February of 2013.

I'd be surprised if Harbaugh isn't back in 2017. Most certainly, Bisciotti won't tolerate a third straight season of missing the playoffs in 2017, a point he'll make very clear to Harbs behind closed doors, but I don't see Bisciotti firing the coach at this point.

Then again, how weird is it going to look when Bisciotti announces he's giving a 2-year contract extension to the coach who hasn't made the playoffs since 2015?

I've been saying this for a couple of months now...the whole "Harbaugh contract situation" is a very slippery slope for Bisciotti.

All that said, there's really no telling how the owner's mind works in moments like these. Remember, it was Bisciotti who once publicly said on November 27, 2007, "I'm not firing Brian Billick" and then two months later, went back on his word and fired him anyway.

Two of the team's three coordinators are most certainly on the hot seat, although Harbaugh's retention and contract extension -- if that happens -- would likely mean Dean Pees will return, if he wants.

There have been some whispers over the last two months that Pees is considering retiring, which might just mean he leaves before he gets fired, but Harbaugh is nothing if not loyal to his people, and it seems reasonable to believe if Harbaugh returns, so, too does Pees as long as that's his wish and desire.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, mind you. I'm just saying that's likely how it all plays out.

I'll never profess to being of the same able mind as Dean Pees when it comes to running a NFL defense, but that Ravens unit he led this season might have looked like they were #1 in the league because statistics do goofy things, but the Ravens have allowed 20 or more points in eight of their fifteen games to date. New England, on the other hand, has allowed more than 20 points just four times in fifteen games and, as we know, the Patriots have never been known for being great defensively.

His defense wasn't up to the task in the fourth quarter of Sunday's showdown in Pittsburgh. How much will that fourth quarter collapse hurt Dean Pees and his potential return to the Ravens in 2017?

Speaking of New England, keep your eyes and ears open -- if the Ravens make any kind of head coaching change, Steve Bisciotti's first two candidates will be Josh McDaniels (offensive) and Matt Patricia (defensive), currently employed by Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

It's not a secret that Bisciotti cherishes what the Patriots have built in New England and he might see McDaniels -- who was the head man in Denver for a few years circa 2009 -- as "smarter the second time around" in the same way Belichick went from disliked loser in Cleveland to perhaps the second greatest coach in league history in New England.

Patricia is the defensive mind in New England and if Bisciotti wants to re-build the Ravens using defense as the central theme, the Patriots' defensive coordinator will be tops on Bisciotti's list.

But that's all getting ahead of ourselves. There's nothing right now pointing to Bisciott making a change at head coach.

However, there are coaching changes in the organization that are all but done. It's a foregone conclusion that Marty Mornhinweg was only a short-term fix as the club's offensive coordinator and won't be back in the same position in 2017. And that has nothing at all to do with "the play call" against the Eagles on December 18 that nearly cost Baltimore a huge game in the playoff race.

Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, et al will be hiring their 6th offensive coordinator in ten years this off-season, not the best of details for a franchise that prides themselves on consistency.

In fairness, two of their former OC's (Caldwell and Kubiak) left for head coaching jobs, but the reality is the Ravens haven't been able to keep a talented, successful offensive coordinator in the John Harbaugh era. Then again, they couldn't do it in the Brian Billick era, either, which leads one to wonder what's in the water at 1 Winning Drive?

These are critical decisions looming for Steve Bisciotti and, presumably, John Harbaugh, and will certainly mold the face of the franchise going forward for the next several years.

If Harbaugh is kept on, his first order of business is "coordinator hunting". They're out there, of course, but getting the right one at the right time who blends well with the personnel you have coming back is easier said than done.

That's why the Harbaugh contract extension is also important. Very few talented, "hot shot" coordinators are going to pack up and move on to Baltimore unless they know the guy hiring them has his own security. It's important for Bisciotti to paint the picture of "all is well" during his annual meeting with the media in January, as prospective coaching additions and their agents will no doubt point to the owner's public portrayal of his satisfaction with Harbaugh as a reason why they might, or might not, sign on with Harbaugh and the Ravens.


show me the money, week #16


And with that Ravens six-point "cover" on Sunday in Pittsburgh, I've reached the elusive .500 mark on the season at 47-47-2.

I enjoyed a 5-1 mark in week #16 of NFL action, winning on the Ravens, Cardinals, Browns, Packers and Raiders. Only the Buffalo Bills cost me a perfect 6-0 record.

Just for kicks, and since I'm hot and you likely need some "free money" this Christmas season, I like Detroit (+7) tonight in Dallas. The Cowboys have nothing at all to play for and the Lions are just one win away from clinching at least a wild card spot in the NFC.

Not sure how it plays out, win/lose wise, but I'll take the Lions to keep it close and cover the seven points. Wouldn't shock me at all to see Detroit win the game, even.

OVERALL RECORD TO DATE: 47-47-2

GAMES INVOLVING RAVENS: 7-7-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 7-9

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


boxing day showdowns highlight epl action today


Chelsea made it eleven wins in a row and ensured they would be top of the league when we kickoff Matchday 18 of the English Premier League, where seven of the last ten teams that sat top of the table on Boxing Day eventually going on to win the title by seasons end. With the Blues well clear at the top for the time being, it looks like it will be a five team chase for next seasons remaining three Champions League spots while at the other end of the table there are six teams separated by only five points that will battle it out to avoid the drop and relegation to the Championship division. As usual, you can catch all of the action throughout the Holiday live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Monday, December 26 (all times eastern)

10am – Everton @ Leicester City – King Power Stadium, NBC Live Extra

One of those teams sitting a little too close to the bottom for comfort is defending champion Leicester City, whose roller coaster of a domestic campaign took another wild and crazy turn last weekend when, after going down to ten men following a questionable straight red card on striker Jamie Vardy, battled back from two goals down to earn only their second point from nine tries on the road this season in a 2-2 draw with Stoke City. They will welcome an Everton side to the King Power Stadium hoping to bounce back from yet another setback against crosstown rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby.

The Toffees had managed to stifle the vaunted Liverpool offense for much of the game but conceded just minutes from the final whistle, dropping points to continue their languish in the middle of the table, sitting closer to the bottom three than they are the top four. The Foxes pulled the double over Everton last season but prior to that had won only four of their previous seventeen all time Premier League meetings while the Toffees have lost only two of their last thirteen league matches against a reigning champion (W6 D5) and are unbeaten in their last four away matches on Boxing Day (W2 D2).

10am – Sunderland @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Sunderland's David Moyes returns to Old Trafford for his first visit since being fired by Manchester United.

Sunderland is another who have taken up their customary position near the bottom of the table although they have begun to show signs of life in recent weeks, after they got past Watford for their fourth win in the last seven to pull themselves out of the cellar although still in the drop zone, a point behind Crystal Palace. They will travel to Old Trafford where manager David Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson’s handpicked successor following the legends retirement in 2013, will return for the first time after lasting only ten months on the job before getting the ax against to take on the inform Manchester United.

United won for the third consecutive week and remained unbeaten in their last eight league games (D4) when they comfortably handled the surprisingly top half of the table West Brom 2-0. Manager Jose Mourinho has seemed to settle on his first choice starting eleven just in time for a second half of the season top four push, and they will be confident of closing the gap on the top four against Sunderland and Moyes, where they have lost only two of their last twenty-eight league meetings with the Black Cats, taking all three points on twenty of those occasions and in five of the last six at Old Trafford (L1).

10am – West Bromwich Albion @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Live Extra

After going unbeaten in their previous fourteen league games and primed to make their first real title challenge in more than a decade, the ghosts of Christmas past have once again surfaced as Arsenal slumped to a second straight defeat and to the fringes of the top four when they were unable to hold a one goal advantage for the second week running in a 2-1 loss to Manchester City, who jumped ahead of the Gunners in the table and leaving them desperate for a result when they welcome West Brom to the Emirates Stadium if they are to have any hopes of mounting a title charge after the New Year.

West Brom had taken points from four of their previous five games (W3 D1) to vault from their customary mid-table also rans up to seventh place before the setback to United left the Baggies with only a single point from their previous five meetings against the current top six teams in the league entering the matchup with Arsenal, who have failed to take all three points in only three of their last twenty-nine meetings with the Baggies across all competitions (D6) and just once in their last ten top flight meetings (D1), including the last five at the Emirates Stadium.

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just four seats left on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


your christmas gift to helping up mission is here in living color!


Earlier this month, we held our 7th annual Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota. My old radio pal Glenn Clark and I have been doing this since 2010, going from a donation of 440 pieces of clothing in year one to over 5,000 (145 large trash bags full) articles of clothing in 2016!

The video below tells the whole story. The sound quality isn't the greatest, unfortunately, but if you'll bear with us and stick with it for nearly 30 minutes, I think you'll enjoy what you see.

Special thanks to #DMD superman Tony Young, who produced the entire piece and arranged it in such a way that you get a wonderful sense of the three week project and how grateful the men are from Helping Up Mission when they see us each December.

Again, a final word of appreciation to all of you who donated items, plus our friends at Jerry's Toyota, Glory Days Grill, Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Kelly Payroll, Hughes Mechanical and the Baltimore Blast.

Enjoy the video and Merry Christmas from all of us at #DMD to all of you!



#DMD HDTV

Sunday
December 25
#DMD GAME DAY

Week 16

Volume XXIX
Issue 25
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

4:30 PM EST

Heinz Field
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Spread: Steelers (-6.0)


ravens now in "must win" territory


People are always claiming this game or that game is a "must-win". In a lot of cases, they're confused with the term "we really need to win this game".

There's no confusion about today's game vs. the Steelers. For the Ravens, fifteen games into their 2016 schedule, they're facing a must-win situation this afternoon in Pittsburgh.

Thanks to Buffalo's horrendous defense and off-target field goal kicker, the Miami Dolphins are poised to claim one of the two AFC wild card spots...and the Ravens now must win their last two games to secure a spot in the post-season.

A Ravens loss today would mean the best Baltimore could finish - by beating the Bengals next Sunday - would be 9-7. Both Miami and Kansas City have already reached the ten win mark, leaving the Ravens on the outside looking in for the 3rd time in four seasons following their 2012 Super Bowl victory.

So, it's now or never in Pittsburgh this afternoon.

What's working in Baltimore's favor? Well, in their last seven games vs. the Steelers, John Harbaugh's team is 6-1, and they've won three straight times in Pittsburgh, including a playoff win in January of 2015. That's certainly a good statistic.

What's working against the Ravens? Plenty, unfortunately.

The Ravens haven't been any good on the road all season, barely beating both Cleveland Jacksonville in weeks two and three of the season, then losing four straight away from Baltimore.

In order to make the post-season, it's likely the Ravens have to win their last two games at Pittsburgh and Cincinnati (there is a way the Ravens could win today, lose next Sunday in Cincy and still get in -- but Pittsburgh would have to lose at home to Cleveland in order for that scenario to play out), which is something they've done just one time in the same season since 2002.

Baltimore's primary defensive specialist, cornerback Jimmy Smith, is out today, which means someone will need to corral Pittsburgh's uber-talented wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Steelers don't have many other pass catching weapons, but Brown's availability in contrast to Smith's absence tilts the wheel heavily in favor of Mike Tomlin's team.

And the Ravens run defense, which enjoyed periods of excellence earlier in the season, has hit tough times recently, including last Sunday at home when Ryan Mathews of the Eagles rang up 128 yards rushing on his own. No disrespect to Mathews, but Le'Veon Bell is a step up in class this afternoon and the Ravens have to figure out a way to minimize his production.

There is something else that works in Baltimore's favor today, and it's one of those intangibles no one can quite figure out.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has enjoyed a lot of success since arriving in the Steel City. Like John Harbaugh, he has a Super Bowl ring to show for his efforts in Pittsburgh, and most folks agree Tomlin is one of the league's top leaders.

But something happens to Tomlin's coaching acumen when he faces the Ravens. There have been several "toe-stubs" by Tomlin over the years when Baltimore and Pittsburgh face off, including last season's regular season home loss to the Ravens where he eschewed the chance to win the game in overtime with a 50-yard field goal and then watched the Ravens move down the field in the extra session and win the game on a Justin Tucker kick.

Today, though, will be more about the players than Tomlin or Harbaugh, most likely.

This one, a must-win for the Ravens, will probably come down to the Ravens' ability to limit Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. If they can somehow keep those two in check -- or even "mini-check" -- Baltimore has a solid chance to win.

If Brown and Bell romp around Heinz Field for sixty minutes, it could get ugly.

One thing for sure: If the Ravens don't beat the Steelers and the season ends in Pittsburgh around 7:30 pm tonight, it WILL be ugly.


show me the money, week #16


If not for the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, I would have enjoyed a banner day. A perfect one, actually.

But ol' Rex Ryan couldn't beat the Dolphins, at home, with Miami employing their JV quarterback. Thanks a lot, Rexie.

I finished Saturday at 4-1, losing only the Bills-Dolphins game. I hit on the Packers (-7.0), Browns (+4.0), Cardinals (+8.0) and Raiders (-3.5).

I did lose the "Best Bet" game (Buffalo-Miami), falling to 7-9 on the year in that category.

I've now climbed to within a game of the .500 mark after being nine games below "even money" five weeks into the season.

OVERALL TO DATE: 46-47-2

GAMES INVOLVING RAVENS: 6-7-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 7-9


HOW DREW SEES TODAY'S RAVENS-STEELERS GAME -- Like most of the experts, I see this one being close. Pittsburgh is a six point favorite at home, but I'm taking the Ravens and the points in "Show Me The Money". Now, let's look at how I think it plays out: While it's not out of the question that we see a defensive battle and something like a 16-13 score, I'm guessing the ball will be in the air a lot and the pace will be frantic. The Ravens have a tendency to play "steady" in Pittsburgh, meaning they get off to a good start and keep themselves in the game throughout, which I expect to see this afternoon. Both teams score in the first quarter, the Ravens add a field goal, then another TD, before Pittsburgh scores just before half to make it 17-14 Baltimore at the intermission. Pittsburgh goes ahead 21-17, the Ravens cut it to 21-20, then Baltimore takes the lead on a Flacco to Waller TD pass early in the 4th quarter to lead 27-21. A late Steelers drive is aided by -- what else? -- a curious penalty flag or two, and a Bell touchdown run with under two minutes left gives Pittsburgh a 28-27 win and the AFC North crown.

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your christmas gift to helping up mission is here in living color!


Earlier this month, we held our 7th annual Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota. My old radio pal Glenn Clark and I have been doing this since 2010, going from a donation of 440 pieces of clothing in year one to over 5,000 (145 large trash bags full) articles of clothing in 2016!

The video below tells the whole story. The sound quality isn't the greatest, unfortunately, but if you'll bear with us and stick with it for nearly 30 minutes, I think you'll enjoy what you see.

Special thanks to #DMD superman Tony Young, who produced the entire piece and arranged it in such a way that you get a wonderful sense of the three week project and how grateful the men are from Helping Up Mission when they see us each December.

Again, a final word of appreciation to all of you who donated items, plus our friends at Jerry's Toyota, Glory Days Grill, Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, Kelly Payroll, Hughes Mechanical and the Baltimore Blast.

Enjoy the video and Merry Christmas from all of us at #DMD to all of you!



#DMD HDTV

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#DMD's
Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD


Night

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Rosalita

Bobby Jean

Roll of the Dice

Walk Like a Man

The Rising

One Step Up

Long Walk Home

We Take Care of Our Own

What Love Can Do

Racing In The Street

Lonesome Day

I'll Work For Your Love

Jungleland

Play All 15 Songs Consecutively

Happy Holidays !



Saturday
December 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 24
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


the gift doesn't matter, just keep giving


That thought, above, would be my only Christmas message to everyone.

The gift doesn't matter, just keep giving.

This holiday season, and throughout 2017, make that your vow. Be a giver, not a taker.

You'll find, because things tend to work this way, that the more you give, the more you'll wind up getting.

So, in whatever way suits you, be a giver.

Many of you were "givers" recently when we held our annual Winter Apparel Drive, as we donated over 5,000 pieces of clothing to the men at Helping Up Mission.

As you'll see in the video, which will be presented here tomorrow and throughout next week, this truly has become a gigantic team effort involving a lot of giving people. It's the best thing we do here at #DMD all year, I believe.

I'd like to figure out how to do more, not just for Helping Up Mission, but for others less fortunate in our community.

I'm also trying to figure out how to give more to my family and friends. I need to give more love, more support and more friendship.

The best gift you can give this weekend is more of yourself. More kindness, more affection, more of you.

Jesus would certainly approve of your renewed spirit.

Your family and friends will, too.

And, you'll find that right around the corner goodness will come your way if you're a giver first and a taker second.

Merry Christmas to all of you and thank you for your gift of "giving" to me this year, whether through your dedication as a daily reader/visitor here at #DMD, one of our corporate clients, someone who traveled with us during 2016, or as a person or family that donated clothing during our recent apparel drive.

Thank you for giving to me.

Merry Christmas to everyone! Have a great weekend!

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with jimmy smith out, ravens need suggs, dumervil to step up


I'll admit I don't have a good feeling about tomorrow's game in Pittsburgh, and that was before yesterday's news was delivered about Jimmy Smith missing his second straight game with an ankle sprain.

It's most certainly a game the Ravens can win. They're 6-1 in their last seven meetings with the Steelers and, if that classifies as "having your number", the Ravens have something over the Steelers throughout the last three seasons.

But, what happened in 2014 and 2015 doesn't have much bearing on tomorrow's game.

The Ravens will need a superb effort from Terrell Suggs on Sunday in Pittsburgh if the Ravens expect to slow down Big Ben and the Steelers offense.

This season matters more, and there's just not much about the Christmas Day game at Heinz Field that points to the Ravens winning.

Baltimore has two road wins all year. They came in September, at Cleveland and Jacksonville. And because "a win is a win" -- particularly on the road -- and we don't care how the chef cooks the meal, as long as it tastes good, we won't get in to how those two victories were compiled. They were wins, period.

But a 2-4 road record with the "two" being victories over Cleveland and Jacksonville is just not very impressive.

True, they had a chance to both games in New York, and didn't. They were up early in Dallas and couldn't hold on. They even had a puncher's chance in New England despite being thoroughly outplayed by the Patriots.

I just don't know if they can win in Pittsburgh tomorrow given what we've seen from them on the road in 2016.

I hope they do, though.

With yesterday's news that Jimmy Smith won't play, the spotlight shifts on the Baltimore defense. If Smith would have been able to suit up, he would have drawn the assignment of marking all-world receiver Antonio Brown and then we'd let the chips fall accordingly and hoped that Smith could hold his own -- which I feel he could have.

Without Smith, the Ravens will likely have to devise some sort of bracket coverage on Brown that includes rookie Tayvon Young and veteran safety Lardarius Webb. That scheme might work on limiting Brown, but he's not the only guy in black and gold who can catch the football.

Pittsburgh clearly has a versatile offense, in that they can run the ball as well as anyone with Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, and Ben Roethlisberger remains one of the game's best quarterbacks and the master of "making something out of nothing".

Who, then, needs to step up for the Ravens defensively and thwart the Pittsburgh weapons on Sunday?

Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, that's who.

Suggs has become much more proficient at stopping the run in recent years. While his quarterback-chasing skills might have diminished a smidgen with age and injuries, his effort against the run has actually improved as the seasons have come and gone.

He'll need to man-up tomorrow afternoon against Bell and try to reduce the running back's impact in the game, which, of course, is easier said than done.

And with Suggs doing his part on the inside, Dumervil will have to step up on the outside and pressure Roethlisberger in every series.

There are others on defense who will have to chip in, but the two guys with the most experience and the two guys who get paid the most need to step to the head of the class tomorrow and prove their worth. That brings Suggs and Dumervil up front.

Those two need big days on Sunday.

We'll go through more tomorrow in the Game Day edition of #DMD, but that's the early, pre-game thought about stopping Pittsburgh's offense.

The Ravens need their big game players to have big games tomorrow.

They need Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to step up.


show me the money, week #16


We're nearing the stretch run now, and I need my horse to make a late charge to the finish line.

Twelve games left to pick in the regular season, plus eleven in the post-season and that's it for the year.

There's not much time left.

I'll save my Ravens prediction for the Sunday edition, but here are my five picks for the Christmas Eve NFL games.

OVERALL TO DATE: 42-46-2

GAMES INVOLVING RAVENS: 6-7-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 7-8


DOLPHINS AT BILLS (-4.5) -- I realize the Bills don't have anything to play for and Miami does, but I just don't see the Dolphins as a very good road team, despite their thumping of the Jets in NY a few weeks back. If Ryan Tannehill was healthy, it might be a different story today. I'm taking Buffalo to win here, and cover, 26-20.

VIKINGS AT PACKERS (-7.0) -- This NFC North games are a lot like any AFC North game not involving the Browns -- they're dogfights. Seven points is a lot to yield, even if the game is in Green Bay. But the Vikings have thrown in the towel, as evidenced by that home thumping they took last week against the Colts. Let's go against the grain in this one and take the Packers in a romp, 37-17.

CHARGERS AT BROWNS (+4.0) -- There's no way San Diego is letting Cleveland win a game, right? I just can't see it happening. But I can definitely see the Browns hanging around long enough to throw a scare into San Diego, which is more of an indictment against the Chargers than it is a testament to Cleveland. For reasons I can't figure out, I'm going with the Browns to cover, but lose, as the Chargers pull out a 23-20 win with a late field goal.

COLTS AT RAIDERS (-3.5) -- If Indy had a defense that could contain Derek Carr and Company, I would take the Colts in this one. But they don't, so I won't. Oakland does what they usually do, which is fall behind, give up a bunch of points, then go nuts in the second half to pull away late, 38-31.

CARDINALS AT SEAHAWKS (-8.0) -- There's no reason to pick against Seattle in their building, so I won't. But Arizona typically plays the Seahawks tough no matter the venue, so I'll take the Cardinals and the points in a 22-17 Seattle victory.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- I just can't see Miami going up to Buffalo and winning today. Four and a half points is a lot, admittedly, but I like Buffalo to win 26-20 and I'll take them as today's "Best Bet".

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umbc improves to best-ever 9-3 start with road win at james madison


It's starting to look like the UMBC Retrievers are going to be heard from when America East conference play starts in a couple of weeks.

The Retrievers improved to 9-3 on the season -- the best start in school history -- with a 62-61 win at James Madison on Friday night, their second straight win after losing a tough home game vs. Towson last Saturday evening.

UMBC junior guard Jairus Lyles scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, leading the Retrievers to the victory.

Another 20 point night for Jairus Lyles, his 7th of the season, led the Retrievers to a win over James Madison of the CAA on Friday night.

Sophomore forward Joe Sherburne added 18 points for UMBC. The nation's second-best three-point percentage shooter hit 5-of-7 shots from behind the arc.

With the game knotted at 27-all at the half, Lyles quickly scored the opening basket of the second half and added two more field goals to provide the visitors with a 36-30 advantage just 3:08 into the period. The Dukes cut the deficit to 39-35, but junior guard K.J. Maura knocked down a pair of threes around another Lyles jumper and UMBC surged out, 47-35, at the 13:12 mark.

The Retrievers would lead by as many as 13 points at 52-39 at the mid-point of the half, and were still in command, 62-50, after a Lyles trey with 5:33 remaining.

But UMBC would not score again and had to withstand a furious rally down the stretch by JMU. The Dukes' Dimitrije Cabarkapa nailed a trey with 37 seconds remaining to cap a late 11-point surge and pull the Dukes to within a point.

On the enusing possession, up 62-61, Lyles drove to the basket and had his attempt rim out with 12 seconds remaining. JMU collected the rebound, but without a time out available, Joey McLean pulled up for a jumper, which was just short, and the 5'8" Maura snared the rebound and drew a foul with 1.3 seconds to go.

But it was only the fourth team foul on JMU and, after a UMBC time out, they got the ball inbounds to the speedy Maura, who ran out the clock.

The Retrievers are back in action next Wednesday night when they travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on Virginia Tech of the ACC at 7 pm.

UMBC opens conference play vs. Binghamton on January 5th at 7 pm at the RAC.

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#DMD's
Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD


Night

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Rosalita

Bobby Jean

Roll of the Dice

Walk Like a Man

The Rising

One Step Up

Long Walk Home

We Take Care of Our Own

What Love Can Do

Racing In The Street

Lonesome Day

I'll Work For Your Love

Jungleland

Play All 15 Songs Consecutively

Happy Holidays !


Friday
December 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 23
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


this, that and the other


I don't have one thing on my mind today. I have a bunch of things to touch on as we wind down the week and prepare for Christmas on Sunday.

I was happy to see that Carmelo Anthony didn't take the bait yesterday when quizzed by reporters about George Karl's comments regarding Anthony in a "tell-all" book that's due to hit the newstands soon.

Typically -- *ahem*, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith, *ahem* -- the scorned athlete can't help themselves anytime their name is mentioned in a negative light. They have to lash out, have to say something and, more times than not, wind up digging more of a hole for themselves than a few pages in a book should produce.

Anthony though, didn't bite. He made a few benign comments, but took the high road all the way around.

Karl, in case you missed it, cited Anthony as a player that was hard to deal with when he coached him in Denver. He mentioned Anthony's reluctance to play defense and called him "a condundrum", which is a nice way of saying you couldn't ever figure out on any given night if you were getting "Good Carmelo" or "Bad Carmelo".

"Carmelo was a true conundrum for me in the six years I had him," Karl wrote in the book. "He was the best offensive player I ever coached. He was also a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it."

The former Towson Catholic star said on Thursday, "I hope Coach Karl finds happiness..."

That's a good answer. There's no use in giving in, throwing a bunch of shade Karl's way, creating three or four days of headline stories and, most likely, helping the guy who slammed you sell more books.

It also stands to reason that Anthony might sees himself "guilty as charged" with some of the things Karl wrote and figures, "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

Either way, I was impressed with the way Anthony handled things on Thursday. Given the chance to lash out, he played it cool. Good for him.

The balance of power in the A.L. East just shifted again with Edwin Encarnacion's new deal in Cleveland.

With Edwin Encarnacion heading to the Indians on Thursday for $60 million over three years, it would appear Mark Trumbo was smart to turn down the Orioles reported offer of $50 million over a four-year period.

And with Toronto recently signing former Oriole Steve Pearce (are they REALLY going to replace EE with Pearce and think that's a reasonable swap?), Trumbo's suitors might now only include the likes of the Orioles and the Texas Rangers, who were eager to add Encarnacion if they could. Oh, and erstwhile slugger Jose Bautista is also available, although we already know Dan Duquette told Bautista's agent the O's weren't interested in the right fielder because "the fans in Baltimore don't like him."

Lost in this is the fact that Encarnacion gives the Cleveland offense a major lift, although Mike Napoli certainly had a productive 2016 campaign for the American League Champs. And Cleveland's upgrade is Toronto's loss, as the Blue Jays lose one of their most reliable, powerful offensive players.

The Orioles, of course, stand to lose a lot, too, if they can't keep Trumbo around. And if the Texas Rangers really ARE in the hunt as recent reports suggest they are, Trumbo's value in Arlington just went up with the Encarnacion deal at $20 million a year. Trumbo won't command $20 mil per-season, but he's probably more like a $17 or $18 million player now.

As for the Birds -- well, they still have Nolan Reimold's phone number in their Rolodex.

The Washington Redskins lost at home to Carolina this past Monday night falling to 1-16 in Monday Night Football home games since 1998. Amazing, right? They've played 17 Monday Night home games in the Dan Snyder era and are 1-16, yet they are 4-3 on the road in MNF outings in that same period.

Here's a funny note: Tom Brady has played 116 home games in his career and he has lost just -- you guessed it -- 16 games total.

Hail to the Redskins, who, with that loss to the Panthers, might be sitting at home watching the playoffs next month. In Baltimore, that's a reasonable note of optimism in the event the Ravens fall short of the post-season.

At least our various social media timelines won't be filled with the Redskins faithful rubbing it in come playoff time. Washington football fans are right up there with Duke basketball fans for their ability to get under your skin. And, as we know, the Redskins haven't won jack-squat in about 25 years. If nothing else, Duke fans have championships to hold over all of us.

Idaho beat Colorado State in last night's "Famous Idaho Potato Bowl", 61-50. That's 111 points scored, the third highest total ever for a bowl game. If you didn't see the game, you'll like this question. What do you think the scoring was when spread out over the four quarters? In other words, how many points were scored in each quarter?

You're trying to figure out how 111 points were scored in four quarters. Ready? Go.

Let's work backwards, shall we? There were 56 points scored in the fourth quarter (CSU 36-ID 20), 28 scored in the 3rd quarter (ID 21-CSU 7) and 27 scored in the 2nd quarter (ID 20-CSU 7).

So, how many points were scored in the first quarter? ZERO.

Can you imagine taking the "under" in the game, which was 65, and watching a scoreless first quarter? You probably bought a few extra Christmas gifts on-line after the opening fifteen minutes.

The two teams didn't score in the first quarter, then scored 27, 28 and 56 points in the final three quarters of play. And here's the funny thing: If you did bet the "under", you were still in the money until the fourth quarter. Weird...

Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg met with the media on Thursday and, naturally, was asked about "the play call" from last Sunday's near-loss to the Eagles, when he dialed up a passing play with Baltimore on the Philly 11-yard line with six minutes remaining in the game.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game "it was the worst play call ever" and admitted he should have vetoed it before allowing Joe Flacco to return to the huddle.

“That’s not the worst call I’ve ever made,” Mornhinweg said after Thursday’s practice. “I’ve made some real bad ones, and sometimes you get away with it, you know what I mean? And the players tend to cover that thing up. Look, that’s not the first time. Really, when you’re trying to stay aggressive and score some points, it pays off typically tenfold throughout the course of a game or a season or certainly a program."

I'm not sure I like hearing Mornhinweg admit "that's not the worst call I've ever made." That would be like a Flyers fan going to their company holiday party and having someone say to him, "Boy, that's the ugliest girl I've ever seen you bring to this party" and having the Flyers fan say, "No, no, no...I've brought uglier girls than this one to the party before."

I get it. The game's over, the Ravens won and the standings don't publish "how?", they just publish "how many?". But hearing Mornhinweg admit he's made dumber calls than that one on Sunday tells me he's not the guy for the job in Baltimore.

Some honesty is good, sure. There's nothing worse than a coach who won't admit he's not Vince Lombardi. But I think I would have preferred that Mornhinweg simply say, "We were points-hunting there and probably shouldn't have been at the juncture of the game. In hindsight, ball protection was paramount. I made a mistake with the call."

It would have also been good this week to hear Joe Flacco say something similar. "I shouldn't have thrown the ball, period. I got the play on the sideline and thought it was kind of weird that we were throwing in that situation. I should have checked out of that play and we should have just run the ball there."

Everyone's to blame. Fortunately, Philadelphia's coach lost his mind at the end of the game and went for two instead of just kicking the extra point and going to overtime, where the out-of-breath Baltimore defense would have been under the spotlight in a huge situation.

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just four seats left on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve seats remaining.

We've now received a commitment for eight seats already from #DMD readers, which leaves us with only four that are still available.

We're taking a $500 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and those are their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining four seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

JERRY'S
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and the "bruce holiday CD" is now complete


Fifteen days later, it's ready for release.

The final song on my Bruce Springsteen "album" is below, and with that, you can now listen to the entire production, first song to last song, as my holiday gift to all of you.

I hope you don't mind that I didn't wrap it.

When I started this project a couple of weeks ago, I knew three things from the outset: I wasn't going to include "Born To Run", my favorite song ("I'll Work For Your Love") would be included, and the last song would be the one you're going to hear today.

I didn't know the order of the songs when I started, but I did know the last song, for sure.

Several of you e-mailed me "suggestions" on what songs to include and I appreciate the back-and-forth we shared. Springsteen enthusiasts are a passionate bunch.

I will say, before we get to today's final song, that I initially had about 30 songs on my "list" and wittled them down to the final 15. Four songs just missed the cut, if you're interested in such trivial matters.

They were: "Valentine's Day", "Hunter of Invisible Game", "Jackson Cage" and "Save My Love".

A few quick notes about the 15 songs you've heard: I didn't choose one song from "The River" album, even though I really like four or five songs from that double album. It just didn't work out that any of them made the final cut.

I didn't include anything from "High Hopes", either, although "Hunter of Invisible Game" was nearly included on my CD in lieu of "Roll of the Dice". I guess you could say, in a game of musical chairs, that "Roll of the Dice" sat in the last available seat and "Hunter" was left standing.

Someday, I might do a similar CD of just Bruce "B sides" or previously unreleased material, so I didn't really include any of the songs from Tracks, The Promise, etc., although I did consider adding "Save My Love", but opted for another song instead.

And with that...

"The Rangers had a homecoming, in Harlem last night

And the magic rat drove his sleek machine, over the Jersey state line

Barefoot girl sittin' on the hood of a Dodge

Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain

The Rat pulls into town, rolls up his pants

Together they take a stab at romance

And disappear down Flamingo Lane

---

Well, the Maximum Lawmen run down Flamingo

Chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl

And the kids 'round there live just like shadows

Always quiet, holding hands

From the churches to the jails

Tonight all is silence in the world

As we take our stand

Down in Jungleland

If the song "Born To Run" made Springsteen a household name, "Jungleland" -- from the "Born to Run" album -- made Springsteen a song writing icon in his early 20's. This was his Picasso from that album, which is saying a lot when you have great song writing efforts on "Thunder Road", "Backstreets" and, of course, the title track.

None of those songs, though, reveal Bruce as a song writing artist -- in the true sense of "artist" -- like Jungleland did.

The midnight gang's assembled

And picked a rendezvous for the night

They'll meet 'neath that giant Exxon sign

That brings this fair city light

Man, there's an opera out on the Turnpike

There's a ballet being fought out in the alley

Until the local cops, Cherry-Tops, rips this holy night

This song also featured, as Bruce has said so many times, the best piece of saxophone work in the esteemed career of the late Clarence Clemons.

Here it is...

Below that, you'll find all 15 songs in order, plus the ability for you to play all of the songs in succession and enjoy the gift in "album form". I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas to you all!


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #15



#DMD's
Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD


Night

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Rosalita

Bobby Jean

Roll of the Dice

Walk Like a Man

The Rising

One Step Up

Long Walk Home

We Take Care of Our Own

What Love Can Do

Racing In The Street

Lonesome Day

I'll Work For Your Love

Jungleland

Play All 15 Songs Consecutively

Happy Holidays !


Thursday
December 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 22
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


who would you rather have than flacco?


A couple of armchair GM's sitting behind me at last Sunday's game at Ravens Stadium had it all figured out in the second quarter when Joe Flacco had the ball batted out of his hands deep in his own territory.

"We need a new quarterback," I heard one of them say. "There's fifteen guys in the league better than Flacco. It used to be he was top five."

They prattled on occasionally during the rest of the game, but had thankfully bailed minutes before Joe's pick with six minutes left that turned a laugher into a nailbiter.

Throughout the afternoon, it took everything I had to not wheel around and say to one of them, "Why don't you name the fifteen guys you'd take, RIGHT NOW, to replace Flacco, knowing also that you'd be going with that other guy NEXT season as well."

I didn't do it. But I should have done it.

Funny the way it is, though, the whole thing got me thinking a bit on the ride home from the stadium.

Exactly who WOULD I take to replace Flacco if I had the chance to do that right now?

"One Super Bowl title, a Super Bowl MVP award and three trips to the AFC title game in eight seasons. Who would you rather have than me, sports fans?"

And remember, this isn't a "trial" or anything like that. You'd be, for all intents and purposes, trading Flacco to a new team in exchange for their quarterback.

So...I did the exercise. You can, too, if you want, and provide your thoughts and commentary in the "comments" section below.

I don't want to go through all 30 teams, because there's obviously zero chance I'd take the guy quarterbacking in Cleveland, Chicago, Jacksonville, Houston, and the Jets -- over Flacco.

But, if the game we're playing is, swapping quarterbacks right now for at least the 2017 campaign, here's how I see the other QB's in the league.

Tom Brady -- Yes, I'd make that swap. Brady, at 39, still has life left. He can play two more years at a high level, for sure.

Aaron Rodgers -- Yes, in a heartbeat.

Ben Roethlisberger -- Yes, also in a heartbeat.

Russell Wilson -- Yes, Flacco for Wilson I'd do.

Derek Carr -- Yes, he's the best of the "new bunch" at this point.

Those five are definites.

As for Cam Newton, I think I'd do that deal, but would like to list Newton as "probable" until I have time to confer more with my staff.

I'd give consideration to a few others; Mariota, Stafford and Brees are the three I'd potentially swap for Joe. You can throw Eli Manning in there, too. That's four guys on the "maybe" list.

Matt Ryan is on the "maybe" list too, although not nearly as interesting to me as the four above. Ryan hasn't won jack-squat in his nine-year NFL career.

Today, right now, I wouldn't trade Flacco for Andrew Luck. Some might...and I'm not sure I'd overly argue if you would make that deal, but Luck hasn't blossomed the way the experts thought he might, I think we'd all agree with that.

I don't think I'd flip Flacco to Tampa Bay for Jameis Winston. I'm not convinced on Winston, yet.

I don't think I'd send Joe to San Diego for Rivers, either. Don't see that as much of an upgrade, although I like Rivers as a QB.

I did like some things I saw from Carson Wentz on Sunday, but I'm not ready to take the Eagles QB and ship Joe to Philly, although Flacco would probably like that.

Tannehill (Miami) and Taylor (Buffalo)? No thanks. Those guys will never be better than Flacco.

Andy Dalton? Nah. If I'm trying to upgrade at QB, I don't think Dalton for Flacco accomplishes that mission.

Kirk Cousins? Get back to me when he wins something. If Joe's still in the league at that point, we'll talk.

Dak Prescott? See above. He's having some serious beginner's luck in Dallas, but is that going to hold up over a decade?

Alex Smith? Again, if I'm trying to upgrade, I don't know that the KC quarterback is a definite improvement over Joe.

Some people like to make deals just to do it, but at the quarterback position especially, you'd better be sure you're doing the right thing.

Sending Flacco to KC for Alex Smith is not a DEFINITE upgrade.

Definite upgrades would be adding Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Wilson and Carr. Those, to me, can't be debated.

That's five -- which is a far cry from fifteen.

Now, if you want to add the "probable" and "maybe" guys in there, that's eleven. But those six are not definites, hence the term "unsure" applied to them.

Go ahead and do the exercise yourself. Your opinion will likely vary from mine.

What's the moral of the story? Flacco most certainly might have regressed a bit in 2015 and 2016, but he's still better than half the quarterbacks in the league for sure.

And, if push came to shove and we had to trade him away, there aren't many QB's in the league we could bring in and expect better results than what Flacco might very well provide for the Ravens given his career resume and pedigree.

There are lots of quarterbacks out there, remember, who WISH they had enjoyed as much success since 2008 as Flacco has had in Baltimore. Keep that in mind.

I think Flacco will be in the league for at least five or six more seasons, although I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ravens perhaps draft a quarterback this spring with the thought that he might be "the next man up" for the day when #5 is no longer in purple.

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an update on our trip to see the ravens in london


There are still lots of moving parts with regard to the Ravens game in London next season. We know the two possible dates are 9/24 and 10/1. We just don't know which one of those will be the Ravens-Jaquars game.

The Ravens don't know, either. The league has told them the final schedule won't be released until April.

If you're interested in seeing the Ravens in London next season, #DMD has the area's most affordable trip on the market!

With that in mind, we've gone ahead and firmed up plans for both dates, securing airfare and hotel rooms for either week. We'll get game tickets, too. Those, frankly, are the least of our worries.

So, here's the skinny for those who are interested.

We have 24 "trips" available at this point. Exactly half were secured by our #DMD corporate partners. That leaves us with twelve seats remaining.

We've received a commitment for four (4) seats already, which leaves us with eight that are still available.

We're taking a $500 per-seat deposit at this point, with the remainder of money due in the summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast, a one-week "tube/bus" pass, a Saturday night "pep rally/pre-game party" and your Ravens-Jaguars game ticket at Wembley Stadium comes in at $2,045.00 (double occupancy in the room).

Before you pay $3,200, $2,500 or $2,200 elsewhere in Baltimore -- go ahead and check out the competitors and those are their prices -- think about joining us in London!

People keep asking me when I think the game will be played.

Here's what I know.

The Orioles are home on September 24th against the Rays, so the Ravens would NOT be playing at home that day. They could, of course, play at home on Monday night, September 25th, but the league would never make a team play a Monday night game and then travel to London for a game the following Sunday.

The Orioles are AWAY on October 1st, so that would likely have been a home date for the Ravens if not for this London issue.

Most teams take their bye week after the London trip, but if the Ravens were to do that after playing over there on September 24, they'd be giving up a home date (Oct. 1st).

The Ravens could elect to push their bye week back further into the season (teams have that choice) and play in London on September 24 and then back home on October 1st.

If you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd bet the Ravens play in London on September 24th. But that's just a guess based on the same simple research anyone with a computer can do.

Either way -- September 24 or October 1 -- we're going to London to see the Ravens and there's still time for you to join us.

If you're interested in securing one of those remaining eight seats, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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drew's holiday gift -
song #14 on the "bruce cd"


Only two songs remain on my holiday "Bruce CD". We're at #14 today, and with #15 coming tomorrow, December 23rd, we'll be finished and you'll have time to slip the CD in someone's stocking on Christmas day!

Today, I'm including my favorite Springsteen song of all-time.

No, it's not "Born To Run". Remember, please, that I wrote at the very beginning of this project that "Born To Run" would not be on this CD for obvious reasons. You've already heard it a million times, even if you aren't a Springsteen fan. I love the song, yes, but I've heard it so much I don't need it on another Springsteen CD I've burned.

Over the years, I've had several "favorite songs" from Bruce. I was a huge fan of "Bobby Jean" for a number of years, loved "The Rising" as well, but when this song appeared on Bruce's 2007 album, "Magic", I was smitten right from the start.

"Magic", by the way, is Bruce's most underrated work, ever. There are only a couple of forgettable songs, and the tunes on "Magic" that stick with you do so in a way that's actually quite odd. I can literally sing each of my favorites in my head and they roll through like I'm hearing them live. I hear every drum beat, every guitar "twang" and the way Bruce's voice works through the paces of the lyrics in gems like "Gypsy Biker", "Last to Die", "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" and one of the songs that made this holiday CD, "Long Walk Home".

But none of those songs stick with me like "I'll Work For Your Love" sticks with me.

As he has the ability to do, Bruce writes a song about a topic that can easily be attached to any number of people, situations or scenes.

There are those who believe "I'll Work For Your Love" is about a bartender in a small town who has served the community drinks for a long time and has established deep friendships that even occasionally spill over into the "love interest" category.

"Pour me a drink, Theresa, from one of those glasses you dust off

And I'll watch the bones in your back, like the stations of the cross

'Round your hair the sun lifts a halo, at your lips a crown of thorns

Whatever the deal's going down, to this one I'm sworn."

Sure sounds like a bartender and a customer, right?

After all, the bartender is often the problem-solver (halo) and, occasionally, the one with the potty-mouth too (thorns), and the secrets shared by customer and bartender often require a certain "pact".

But could it be about something else?

Springsteen commented after the album was released it was a song about "lust coming home to roost, and understanding that age and longevity are parts of a relationship that can never be minimized, because something has to keep the candle burning."

So, perhaps "I'll Work For Your Love" is meant for any spousal relationship, and the bartender-customer theme is just a natural reaction to "pour me a drink, Theresa".

It could be Springsteen singing to his own wife, substituting "Patty" for "Theresa", of course, and studying her frame and the way she's aged as she pours him a drink and they talk about the roads they've traveled together.

It might just be Bruce reminding her, again, that he realizes there's nothing easy in life...nothing free...it all comes with a price, which, in this case, is the work that gets put into any successful relationship, whether that's with your wife or the neighborhood bartender.

But here it is for you, below. It's not the most hard rocking, guitar blaring, Springsteen-yelling "anthem" you'll ever hear, but on an album where Springsteen touched on a variety of heartfelt subjects, "I'll Work For Your Love" was the best blend of music, lyrics and thought that he's provided us over the last forty-plus years.


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #14


Sadly, I've seen Springsteen roughly a dozen times since 2007, and I've never heard "I'll Work For Your Love" live. It remains, I think, the only missing piece of my own personal Springsteen puzzle.

Maybe someday I'll hear it live...

Hughes Mechanical
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Wednesday
December 21
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Issue 21
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in wake of sherman's talk and other stuff, maybe less media access is best


For years now -- more than a decade at least -- the NFL has gone out of its way to make life easy for the media.

Access every day to team practices, conference calls with opposing players and coaches, weekly mandatory press conferences with the head coach...it all adds up to an overload of information gift-wrapped to the media, locally and nationally.

And for what, really?

Content, of course, is the number one thing, but it goes much, much deeper than that. The NFL is, first and foremost, a "business". Their number one goal, as a league, is to sell their product.

The more they can dominate every landscape they touch, the better. At least that's what they believe. Part of it, they'll never mention, is their goal to stay above the other major sports in our country in terms of popularity, corporate dollars and TV exposure.

The NFL is, as most of you know, a 12-month enterprise now. That hasn't happened by accident. They've created that year-round product very carefully, and it's media coverage that helps turn that wheel on an almost daily basis.

Richard Sherman has never shied away from the microphone during his NFL career, but on Tuesday he threatened to have a media member shut down in the wake of a series of questions he didn't like from the reporter in Seattle.

Does anyone really believe, in their heart of hearts, that Joe Flacco standing around in shorts and a tee-shirt throwing passes to Kamar Aiken in the middle of May in the Ravens' "passing camp" makes one morsel of difference in September when the season kicks off in earnest?

I sure don't.

It's just a made-for-media occasion, and helpful to the teams, too, since they get to see their players a couple of times in March, April and May when they otherwise wouldn't be able to keep tabs on them if not for those silly OTA's, passing camps, kicking camps, etc.

But does the media have too much access?

Do they know too much?

Is their quest for more information counter-productive at times?

I guarantee you every head coach in the league believes the answer to those three questions is "yes", "yes" and "yes".

No coach in his right mind wants to stand up at the podium 14 minutes after a game ends and talk to the media about what just happened on the field. Win or lose, it's an almost impossible assignment, particularly in a business where "the eye in the sky never lies" and game film review is far, far more important than a knee-jerk post-game reaction about why a certain play failed or why a time-out wasn't called at that point in the game.

Brian Billick authored the best line I ever heard about the post-game coach's press conference: "Whoever invented the concept of the post-game press conference never had to do it."

Then, on Monday, the coach has to do it all again, facing the media and fielding questions that almost routinely could be filed away under the category of "That's really none of your business."

Every time John Harbaugh is asked a question by a reporter, his internal messenger asks this: "If I answer this question truthfully, is there any way the (insert team here) could use that to beat me this Sunday?"

When the answer there is "yes", Harbaugh immediately goes into side-stepping mode. And rightfully so. He only has ONE priority as a coach. Just one. It's called "winning". Anything that gets in the way of that is of no use to him.

And when the media is asking about player injuries, strategies and in-game decisions, they're clearly "getting in the way".

Press clippings, talk shows and TV interviews all help sell tickets, sponsorships and merchandise, both locally and nationally. They're a necessary evil to the backdrop of competition, though.

Richard Sherman of the Seahawks hit the national newswire on Tuesday afternoon when he got salty with a local Seattle radio host who asked the Seattle cornerback about his sideline eruption during last Thursday night's win over the Rams when the Seahawks threw the ball from the one-yard line instead of trying to run it into the end zone from three feet away.

After a terse exchange with the radio host, Jim Moore, Sherman told him "I'll ruin your career."

When pressed by Moore for clarification, the player shot back, "I'll make sure you don't get your media pass anymore."

Shades of Peter Angelos, huh?

Sherman would later apologize via Twitter, but the die was already cast at that point. Here was a player who, even for a moment or two, really thought he might have the power to go to team officials and have Jim Moore's media credential revoked.

And why would the cornerback believe he owned that sort of authority? Because he's an All-Pro player who swings a big stick in Seattle, that's why.

But it also reveals a level of disdain for the media that exists throughout both the NFL and most major sports these days.

Why the frustration?

Too much access. Too much coverage. Too much honesty. And, in fairness to the players, too much power from a group of people who by and large never played the sport at the same level as the guys they're critiquing on a daily basis.

I could hold my own in a golf discussion with Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler or Jordan Spieth. I haven't won The Masters or The Players, but I've played at a reasonably high enough level of golf that I wouldn't be out of my element talking with them or covering them in a major championship.

But when I used to sit down next to Ray Lewis and listen to him talk about football, I quickly realized I wasn't even on the same planet as that man.

Sherman probably felt the same way when Jim Moore questioned him about his sideline display last Thursday night.

But telling Moore he'd have his press credential revoked was bad form from Sherman. Apology accepted and all -- I suppose -- but the strife between those two symbolizes a deeper problem in the NFL.

They've brought this on themselves, mind you, but they're guilty of over-saturation, plain and simple.

The coaches can't make a move without having ten people question them on it.

And the same goes for the players, who play a sport that requires an incredible amount of skill, speed and predicting within a nano-second what the guy steaming at them five yards away is going to do in the very next moment.

When that tackle isn't made or that pass isn't caught, there's someone with a notepad and a pen after the game, wondering why.

It's all part of the business, yes. But we probably wouldn't like it much if someone not all that experienced in doing what we do showed up at our office every afternoon at 3:30 and asked us to explain ourselves.

In the NFL's case, they've just gone too far with it all.

And because a large portion of the players are making millions and millions of dollars, they've developed a false sense of their own importance to their team and the league.

The media, meanwhile, feeds the monster.

Everyone's happy. That is, until someone isn't happy.

And then they fight for a while, until they both realize they can't survive without the other.

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the nfl's best six and worst six


Well, we're getting down to the nitty gritty now. Just two weekends left in the regular season before we annoint the "Best Six" and "Worst Six" for the 2016 campaign.

Can the two at the top of their respective categories -- New England and Cleveland -- hold on to their positions? The Patriots would love to do that, but the Browns...not so much.

Here we go with this week's list:


THE WORST SIX --

27. CHICAGO BEARS (3-11) -- Despite only having three wins, I still contend Chicago is better than teams like the Rams and Jets, both of whom have more victories. The Bears rebounded from a 17-point fourth quarter deficit against the Packers last Sunday, only to lose on a last second field goal. I'm not sure that says more about Chicago's offense or Green Bay's defense, but it was impressive nonetheless.

28. NEW YORK JETS (4-10) -- That was a pretty nasty home shellacking they were handed by the Dolphins on Saturday night. I realize New York doesn't have a "real" quarterback, but neither did Miami.

29. LOS ANGELES RAMS (4-10) -- Right now, today, they could be in the mix for "worst team" honors given the way they've thrown in the towel over the last month. Those folks in St. Louis must be laughing their hineys off watching that mess week after week.

30. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-12) -- Somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Houston last Sunday after building an early lead, then fired their head coach with two games remaining so he could, according to the owner, "relax and enjoy the holidays with his family". LOL

31. SAN FRANSICSO 49'ers (1-13) -- I'll say this over and over. I'm not sure they'd win a best-of-3 series against the Browns. I'm just waiting for Cleveland to win a game so I can put the 49'ers at #32 for the final rankings.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-14) -- They have two chances to win their first game (and perhaps "only") game this season. This Sunday at home vs. San Diego and January 1st at Pittsburgh. If the Steelers beat the Ravens this Sunday to win the AFC North, I guess Pittsburgh could sit all of their good players in the finale and the Browns would have a puncher's chance at Heinz Field, but even then, that's a longshot. They need to beat the Chargers this Saturday to avoid going 0-15. I don't see that happening.


THE BEST SIX --

6. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-5) -- I'd love to see Pittsburgh knocked off that #6 perch Sunday at Heinz Field, alas, I don't think it's happening. Pittsburgh, sadly, is getting hot at the right time, with two straight road wins over Buffalo and Cincinnati putting them in prime position to win the division. If they stay healthy over the last couple of weeks, they could be a tough out in the post-season...if they get there.

5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-4) -- Losing to a good Tennessee team isn't a terrible thing, but it's the fact they lost at home and that they coughed up a late lead that might be concerning for Andy Reid and the Chiefs. At 10-4, their trip to the post-season is likely secure, but they need to finish strong to have momentum heading into January.

4. NEW YORK GIANTS (10-4) -- They're licking their chops at the thought of getting into the playoffs and eventually having to meet up with the Cowboys again. I doubt Dallas is equally as eager to see Eli Manning and Company. I've said this for a month or so now. The Giants are the team no one wants to face in the post-season.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (11-3) -- I still think the Oakland defense is vulnerable and could be the reason they get bounced out of the post-season, but your defense better be good enough to contain Derek Carr and the Oakland offense or you're going to get run out of the gym. If they somehow get home ice throughout the playoffs, that would help their quest big-time.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS (12-2) -- For a team heading into the game at 10-2, that was a fairly significant win for Dallas on Sunday night over a red-hot Tampa Bay team. It got the wolves away from the door for a week, gave Dak Prescott a chance to breathe, and showed everyone around the league that the Cowboys have a "bounce-back" factor after that loss at New York the week before.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-2) -- I wasn't overly impressed with their 16-3 win at Denver, because I don't think the Broncos are any good, but a road win is nothing to sneeze at, and holding the Broncos to just three points in their own barn was impressive, for sure. If the Patriots finish up with the AFC's best record, it's going to be tough for an opponent to win in New England in January.

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thanks to you, 5,000 pieces of winter apparel were delivered yesterday!


Our first year of the winter apparel drive, back in 2010, we took 440 pieces of clothing into Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

Glenn Clark and I thought we were the cat's meow that day.

Yesterday, it took three vehicles and a truck to get everything down to Helping Up Mission, and when we opened up 150 bags of clothing, we were able to lay out over 5,000 jackets, coats, shirts, sweaters, gloves, shoes, etc. and give the 500 men at Helping Up Mission a wonderful Christmas.

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Our friends at Jerry's Toyota once again served as this year's title sponsor of our annual Winter Apparel Drive and helped us donate over 5,000 pieces of clothing on December 20 to the men at Helping Up Mission.

All of the credit goes to you.

Without your donations and generosity, we couldn't do it.

Clark and I started this effort when we were on the radio together in Baltimore. It started, almost, as a radio skit of sorts, where I suggested Clark drive a pick-up truck and I sit in the back with coats and jackets and toss them out to Baltimore's homeless right before the holidays.

"I like where your head's at," Clark said on the air that day. "But I think we can do it better than that."

The next thing you know, coats and jackets were piled up in the radio station's front lobby and we were taking 25 bags of stuff down to Helping Up Mission.

And an annual program of giving was born.

To see the men come through the room at Helping Up Mission and pick out items both for themselves and their loved ones is quite a special sight. Most guys are more quick to pick out something for a family member than they are themselves. As they're unable to get out and shop on their own during this holiday season, the only way they can give a gift is through the donated items we provide each year.

So, your generosity benefits the men at Helping Up Mission in ways you simply can't imagine.

One of the guys I saw yesterday is a complete "Mission" success story. You might remember last year, I chronicled a Helping Up resident, James Wentworth, who had gone through some difficult times in California and Tennessee and found his way to Baltimore with the last dollar he had in his pocket.

Yesterday, he proudly told me that not only did he graduate from his one-year stay at the Mission, but he's now fully employed as a Peer counselor at Franklin Square hospital. You'll get to see James and other Helping Up staffers when we publish our video recap of the whole day later this week here at #DMD.

James Wentworth went from picking out clothing at last year's event as a resident of Helping Up Mission to walking into the room yesterday as an employee at Franklin Square Hospital. A true "Mission" success story!

It's one thing to see the guys come into the room and pick out their clothing. It's another to see a guy like James walk through the doors, smiling, walking proudly, and telling you his success story. One year ago, he was in the room picking out clothing for himself. Yesterday, he was talking about his job at the hospital and looking forward to the rest of his life with great promise.

People have asked me on occasion why I'm so enthusiastic about supporting the efforts of the people at Helping Up Mission.

That's an easy answer: Because any and all of us could be in that building as a resident at some point in our life if things just took an unexpected turn for the worse and we didn't have the means or capabilities to deal with it all in that moment. The men you meet in there are, trust me on this, just "regular guys" who came upon hard times in their life and needed a new, fresh start.

It's a wonderful place.

A special thanks to everyone who helped the event reach new heights this year. Our title sponsor, Jerry's Toyota, was represented yesterday at the event by marketing director Bill Bolander and general manager Matt Bukowski. Jerry's has been a wonderful supporter of Drew's Morning Dish and this year alone, will donate over $300,000 to local charity and civic groups in the Baltimore County area.

Thank you, as well to Glory Days Grill and Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square, who served as drop-off locations for two of our events this year. And to the Baltimore Blast for donating tickets to their January 14th home game for those who donated ten or more items (and a lot of you did that!).

Our friends at Kelly Payroll helped out, too, donating over 100 items this year. Thanks to my friend Brian Hubbard for organizing things on Kelly's end.

And thank you to my longtime buddy Brad Foxwell from Hughes Mechanical, who again this year loaned us his vehicle and his time, plus helped distribute the clothing at yesterday's event at Helping Up Mission.

And, finally, big thanks to Glenn Clark and Zack Merrick. Clark gets it. He realizes, like I do, that this event has to get better each and every year and he does his part to make sure we hit new heights with the Winter Apparel Drive. It's through his relationship with Merrick that the band member from All Time Low comes out each year and helps us with the drive by appearing at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, where we did over 2,500 items alone this past Monday night!

Those two guys really ARE rock stars. Merrick is even a rock star in "real life", but he's also a guy that gets it. A local kid made good, playing music all around the world, flying in from his home in Hawaii to help our cause again this year. Amazing stuff...

And finally, again, thanks to all of you who donated items. Without you, there's nothing to give the men at Helping Up Mission. Without you, there's no event.

Look for the video of the entire three week "campaign" later this week at #DMD.

Thanks again to all of you and God Bless You.

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drew's holiday gift -
song #13 on the "bruce cd"


Bruce's most powerful album ever, I thought, was "The Rising". A number of the songs were written and recorded by Springsteen in the wake of the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.

Some of the songs, "You're Missing" and "My City of Ruins" were two that stand out, were actually written before 9-11, but seamlessly fit in with the album's concept and were recorded after the attacks with a new emphasis on the fitting nature of their lyrics.

"Lonesome Day" is one of Bruce's best song writing efforts on that album, and when I was putting this project together and had to figure out 15 "Bruce songs" to use, I knew there were two from "The Rising" I was going to include: the title track, and "Lonesome Day".

The song deals with a number of issues surrounding those 9-11 attacks, including the quest and even possible "need" for revenge and the thought that once you've exacted your measure of retribution, there's still the element of "what next?" that applies to it all.

One quick note on the song you'll hear below. It's NOT the version from "The Rising" album, but rather something that sounds very similar, recorded in different parts of Springsteen's studio with some of it actually taking place outside, giving it a more "hollow" sound which, Bruce has since noted, was his intention.


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #13


Hell's brewin' dark sun's on the rise

This storm'll blow through by and by

House is on fire, Viper's in the grass

A little revenge and this too shall pass

This too shall pass, I'm gonna pray

Right now all I got's this lonesome day

---

Better ask questions before you shoot

Deceit and betrayals a bitter fruit

It's hard to swallow, come time to pay

That taste on your tongue don't easily slip away


#dmd comments


DELRAY RICK     October 22
GEORGE---Its more like what are the odds "DRAMA QUEEN" can even make the first tee. Start reading the scores right.

George     October 22
Still waiting for an offer of odds against Tiger Woods winning the 2018 Masters. Don’t need anyone speculating whether I’m a fanboy or sycophant or other irrelevant drivel, nor a reminder that the cops took a mugshot of him like they do of every chump who gets locked up for drunk driving. I’m looking for a financial transaction on a sports proposition. If you think Tiger won’t win the Masters, and have the financial courage of your convictions, quote the odds you offer.

Steve in Hunt Valley     October 21
BJ, the passive-aggressive thing looks good and you play it off well but you never actually write a complimentary word about DMD or the stories. You'll write something vague and play it off a compliment when you're questioned on it but I read your comments and shake my head all the time. You obviously have a personal axe to grind with either Drew or the writers. It comes across loud and clear. But I'm sure Drew appreciates the fact that you visit.

H     October 21
After seeing who the Ravens have on IR and who is currently on the injured list, I am amazed that the Ravens are 3-3.

BJ     October 21
@TG Since you're not trying to pick a fight....I said "I consider #DMD a notch above the 4 letter network". I read #DMD most every day, never read any of the "content" on ESPN. Point being ESPN fawns all over this Ball guy (judging by the headlines I see), I come here to avoid that prattle. But it's ok, CJ/PGAV/MONK needs someone to take some of the heat of off him/them ;)

That Guy     October 21
@BJ, you'd have to point out the "compliment" in your OP. I don't see one. Not trying to pick a fight here with you but you do come across as a DMD hater.

BJ     October 21
@Aaron If you could read and comprehend, that was a compliment. If I was just a hater, I'd not be surprised to read about this Ball guy right?

SOD is tough, some of the same guys saying Pees should shut up and be able to handle criticism without lashing out, are the first to bash anyone who dare post even the mildest of "criticism" out here. Interesting

Aaron     October 21
Been coming here for a year now and still can't ever remember "BJ" writing one complimentary word about the site. Always have to wonder why he/she visits. Must be a plant from the old station, just piling on the hate.

BJ     October 21
No idea if the Lakers won or lost last night, but that seems like it'd be easy to look up?

As for being Ball'd out, whose fault is that? Certainly not the goofy Dad, he can't cover himself. Yup, it's those idiot media types flocking to sh*t like flies. Mentioning his name here is puzzling. Who in Baltimore cares about this clown show? Call me crazy, but I consider #DMD a notch above the four letter network and am disappointed this "story" is being covered at all. All things considered, I'd rather see more video of Tiger practicing in his backyard.

BTW, Holland is as bad , if not worse, than Miley. If CC were cheap, he might be decent space filler (pun intended), but I agree with @Brian M, they need to get younger, not older

unitastoberry     October 21
A one year rental on 37 years old CC is right up the Angelos style I would agree with that. But I think they need a miracle or a new owner to ever win the championship again.

DELRAY RICK     October 21
FAKE NEWS ON THIS SITE. Who ever wrote the LAKERS lost last is WROOONG! What a DUMMIE!

Brian M.     October 21
Drew,

Sorry but I do not want Sabathia here and not because he's a Yankee but in the December of his career and we need youth.

Dave W.     October 20
Not a Tiger fan but I agree with Al. Tiger's mug shot doesn't parallel with his attempted comeback IMHO.

Tom     October 20
@Al, You must be new in these parts. Herman has a very clear disdain for people like Tiger, if you know what I mean.

AL     October 20
I'm still not sure what Tiger's mug shot has to do with his golf game. I see people saying they don't like Tiger and that he's a bad guy but I don't know how that connects to his golf game.

DELRAY RICK     October 20
HERMAN----RIGHT ON BOUT PHONY "DRAMA QUEEN" every month he lets the die-hards know , "i am still around". He will embarrass himself just like the mug shot. He's been on drugs for years and the PGA is really on drug testing this year. Hope he gets caught AGAIN.

clayton     October 20
AL------ I think the term role model has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a quaint and outmoded concept. It has been replaced by “brand,” where the currency among athletes is the ability to get your fans to buy the crap that is identified with you. In case of an unfortunate arrest, there are plenty of spin doctors out there who, for a large fee, will tell the public what to think, and they are very good at what they do.

AL     October 20
What does Tiger's mug shot have to do with his golf game? Half the NFL has a mug shot. Doesn't seem to bother them.

HERMAN     October 20
I'm amazed how quickly the Tiger sycophants climb back onto the bandwagon. Look, he's changed his swing, it's easier on the body, he's coming back, he's coming back! He can play again, oh joy!

Did they forget that mug shot that fast?

Tiger manipulates his public better than anyone. The fanboys jump for joy, articles about how he might now be a contender next April amongst the azaleas, forget that only 10% of majors have been won by golfers past 40.

And apparently, forgetting that awful mug shot.

Steve from Pimlico     October 20
Don't say coaching doesn't matter .Look at the Rams with an offensive minded coach. Goff,called a bust last year,now looks like a rising young star .


Tom J     October 20
I finally figured it out.....after hearing the M and T commercial for the millionth time, The Ravens need to tell Joe that he's going shopping with his Ravens debit card at 1pm on Sundays as that generates way more excitement and passion from him than we ever see on the football field.....also, I'm glad I left my seat Sunday so I didn't have to see that pathetic defensive effort from Loudmouth Pees defense. He's clueless. Way to endear yourself to the fans even further coach. First, the players commenting about the fans, now the coaches.......clueless

Brien Jackson     October 19
The "opinionated players" story has been debunked over and over and was only ever a story that was pushed by Preston and Youness. And no one has ever claimed Ozzie doesn't retain control of roster moves. Ever.

the other that guy     October 19
@Kevin Yeah, cause nothing guarantees a good football team more than some "strongly opinionated players" lol.

And as for leadership "on and off the field", I read everywhere what a great "leader" Eric Weddle is, but he can;t tackle fer crap.

DR (the original)     October 19
Can't agree with everything you said there, Brien.

Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta were excellent players, in each case the security blankets for QBs who didn't have great WRs. Ed Dickson is still a starting player in the NFL. A little too early to totally diss Maxx Williams, no?

I'd argue that Anquan Boldin was a pretty good goal line target. Remember the AFC Championship Game? Yes, he came from somewhere else. Not disputing our poor WR draft choices.

Kevin     October 19
Brien-

The head coach has been largely to blame for the makeup of the roster, changing the attitude, style and leadership both on the field and off. The changes in the types of players in recent "Ozzie's" drafts notably changed with the appearance of the new coach as well. The Ravens have drafted non-strongly opinionated players and great special teamers who cannot reach the level of play that game changers can. Those game changers do not fit the mold of the Harbaugh era, except to win a Super Bowl.

HERMAN     October 19
I didn't know fruit could speak or vote.

MOE     October 19
@Jake Swallowed up?? How so?? The video is still there, as are Drew's insightful comments. Everyone can still go watch and hear for themselves (and enjoy), how does anything in the comments section distract from that, much less "swallow it up"?

I'm thinking people criticize Brien cause his writing is horrible and they wish we had more David and George, and less Brien and Todd. That and the fact Brien overwhelms the comments sections at times with his overzealous attempts to make sense out of his nonsense.

Brien Jackson     October 19
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Hyperbole+definition

Jake     October 19
It's a shame Drew's outstanding video analysis of Tiger gets swallowed up by all of the Brien bashing. I don't understand why people feel the need to constantly criticize him.

Curly     October 19
Just Another Guy Did you notice they were “different” articles, so he didn’t just read one article thirty-six times, or three articles twelve times each. Syllables, man. The more you can put in your sentences the more authoritative you sound.

just another guy     October 19
“I must have read 3 dozen different articles demanding a new offensive coordinator already this season.”



So what Brien is saying is, there were at least 36 “journalists” out there “demanding” Harbs dump Marty? Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe 36 reporters would a) care enough about the situation to write an article and b) saying “The Ravens should hire a new OC right now” is NOT the same as “demanding”. Why would any reporter, even a local beat writer, “demand” anything?

Unless by “articles” Brien means, I don’t know, facebook posts? Tweets?

This encapsulates very nicely the style and quality we get from this guy. I try to read his stuff because, sometimes, if you read between the oh so many lines, he might make an interesting point, but it gets harder and harder to ignore stuff like the sentence above. Why not just say “some have said” and leave it at that??

And the point is not about grammar, it’s about not throwing crap out there that is clearly not true. Pretty ironic, cause that’s the same issue that guy Brien loves to hate has, and gets ripped for, by the likes of Brien and the other serial fabricator, the Little Fella (you know, the tweeter in chief). This is a common practice by people with zero credibility trying to pretend they have some (and interesting that Brien throws that same accusation at people who “watch film”, yet he does exact same thing).

And yes I know, the core audience does not care, I’ll get shouted down as a hater. After all, this is the blog equivalent of talk radio, why be so picky, right?


Fact Check     October 19
The "expert" is wrong again. He slams folks who say they watch the ALL 22, yet can't refute any of the observations directly.



But for all of the lousy writing and having "Fact Check" fact check his dubious credentials. I've found NO articles with is by-line on NPR, ESPN nor CBS sports, they only 2 things I've found is grass cutter and some writing on some 8th rate website.

Expert???? Micheal Clayton instead of Mark Clayton?? I guess he has urges for George Clooney.



Way out of his depth. Went to the LF school of "good" writing. Just shout a lot and call yourself an expert. Ozzie has 2 Super Bowl rings. If the "expert" would have been running the Ravens? Every single year they would win it all.


Tom J     October 19
Well, I can finally agree with Brien on one thing, Ozzie is a huge part of the Ravens problems. I've been saying this to people for years but no one ever wants to call him out because he seems to get a hall pass for the 96 draft. Yes, he has drafted some incredible players but when was the last great draft? They've had one Pro Bowler from the first 3 rounds since around 08. And to all of the Flacco supporters, read the article in The Sun where his pears voted him the third most overrated QB in the NFL. It's one thing when the "know nothing fans' say this but when you pears speak, that says volumes.

James - Dundalk     October 19
@ STEVE FROM PIMLICO, Remember Ramon Harewood the "O" line guy Ozzie picked at 194. Guess who was picked at 195. Antonio Brown

Bill     October 19
Thanks for the Tiger Woods swing insight Drew. Interesting to say the least. I can definitely see on the last video with the red shirt where, as you say, he's standing taller and not nearly as hunched over as in the 2011 video. I don't know much about the swing but I would assume the 2017 version is putting less stress on his back.

Mike from Reisterstown     October 18
@ ANDYMTH3 sounds like Bob From Parkville in reverse.

Brien Jackson     October 18
@Chris K



I'm 99% sure that Machado isn't even on the Yankees' radar. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar excelled at Double-A this year and figure to move to 3b/2b. They might be in on Harper since Gardner's getting older (Clint Frazier is their CF'er of the future btw), but like Drew said it's pitching that they really need. In the rotation AND in the bullpen as well.

Tom     October 18
I can make this argument easy.



Popovich is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



Trump is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



I don't have a dog in either hunt and I can vouch for both statements. Both of them are nuts.

James     October 18
@Herman. Nicely played sir. Funny stuff.

That Guy     October 18
@Andysmyth3,



I'm not picking on you independently. I see this a lot on internet forums everywhere when someone takes exception with a writer, author, blogger, etc.



I find it funny in a weird way. I wonder if you even know you wrote it.



You wrote: "You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think."



You're clearly pointing out that you believe the writer is a "nobody" and "nobody really cares what you think."



That's fair and it's your right to make that observation.



If you don't care what he thinks why did you take the time to even respond?



I see that sort of thing a lot and it makes me laugh.



BTW, Popovich is kind of crazy. I think you'd even admit that if you weren't so mad about Drew calling him crazy.

HERMAN     October 18
@Andymth3



Gregg Popovich got where he is due to his white privilege. Didn't you hear Obama? "you didn't build that"!

He should immediately resign his position as he is taking the job of a more well deserving minority who didn't get their job through white privilege. It is almost criminal that he is a white man lording over a black majority team in a black majority league. All due to white privilege.

I call on Gregg Popovich to immediately resign his position, give it to a more deserving minority being held down because Gregg holds the job that the minority deserves more, and further, to contribute the salary he didn't earn to BLM.

Championships? Popovich didn't earn those, it was on the backs of minorities. He should return all his hardware, and resign, allowing for a minority to move up, and apologize for all his white privilege.

interested thrid party     October 18
@Andymth3 Nice post. You must be new, the meat of this site is low brow humor and spitballing, how dare you pay attention to the written word! Be prepared for some lambasting from the SOD. But some of us appreciate well thought responses such as yours.

Andymth3     October 18
Gregg Popovich "crazy"? We all should be so crazy. This is a man that graduated from the Air Force Academy, served his country in the armed forces, in intelligence no less, has been one of the greatest basketball coaches in history winning 5 NBA championships, but he is crazy? Why? Because he had the temerity to call the president what he is, a "soulless coward"? Because he speaks forcefully and eloquently about race, and injustice, and inequity? You're right with your I only graduated from Glen Burnie High School schtick. You are way out of your league taking shots at him. I get it, he is a liberal and you are a conservative, you do not agree politically, but that does not make him crazy. I have read your obligatory free speech references, which I am not sure if you actually believe, but here is someone exercising his right to free speech, and he is doing it an a way that does not interfere with games, or national anthems, or your other precious forums, and yet he is crazy because he expressing his opinion. Is this what America has come to now? You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think, but when an NBA coach actually says something that you do not agree with, how dare he? It is easy to be patriotic and American when everybody agrees with you, but heaven forbid they have a different point of view, them clearly they are crazy. I thought you were smarter and more broad minded than that. I guess I was wrong. I must be crazy.

DELRAY RICK     October 18
Just heard on the radio HILLARY IN LONDON says it is OK to knee for anthem. She will go opposite of TRUMP no matter what. THATS IT! You now can stand on your head if you want. What bunch of crap.

George     October 18
What odds am I offered against Tiger winning the Masters next year? I wish to put my money where my mouth is.

Brendan     October 18
One theory is that Anderson was not let go because of the other Atheltic Directors that have been fired related to the FBI investigation at other schools. Maryland is free and clear of that landmine, but had Anderson been let go at the same time as those others, accusations would be made. I think it is as simple as Loh does not like him and fundraising issues. But he is getting 6 months paid for the move to the Big Ten, which went well.

JohnInEssex     October 18
THANKS Drew for the write up on the MD AD situation. Good stuff!



Watched the Dodgers/Cubs last night - I laughed hysterically to myself as I watched the Cubs pitcher walk the Dodger pitcher on 4 straight balls with the bases loaded. The batter was doing the old fake a bunt and lean out over the plate thing that we all did in Little League, and it worked! During that at bat, the catcher talked to the pitcher twice and the pitching coach came out once. The color commentator (Ron Darling?) was spot on saying all this talking to the pitcher about pitching to the pitcher was just making matters worse for the Cubs pitcher. He also said there is a difference between pitching in the regular season compared to pitching in the playoffs. The sweet Cubbie fans rained down a thunderstorm of BOOS for their pitcher at the end of the inning.



Earlier in the game, the leadoff guy for the Dodgers (Taylor?) managed to get a triple on a ball hit down the third base line. Don't recall ever seeing that happen.

HERMAN     October 18
@robintowson makes a great point, Korea is golf crazy and starved for a sanctioned event. In addition to the purse I'd like to see the "guarantees" paid out to top players in appearance fees and other opportunities there where they can make a killing. Firms there would easily pay a top player a half million to play with the CEO and attend the big company dinner.

Leadership of the tour should be applauded for what they have done with the schedule. The various "runs" make total sense, opening in Hawaii, a run through California, off to Florida, and so on. This three week Asian run is genius.


Steve from Pimlico     October 18
If the Ravens had an Antonio Brown and a Leveon Bell,Joe would be more than adequate at QB.

Look what he did with Ray Rice and Anquan Bolding.

The modern game of football has passed Ozzie by ,sadly.Three of his beloved Alabama picks Cody ,Upshaw and now Williams have hardly been impactful players.

The QB positions new young stars all have mobility which forces defenses to account for their escapability.

James - Dundalk     October 18
@ Pratt. I always admired the knowledge of Phil Savage when he was director of college scouting. Since he left for the Cleveland GM years ago it IMO our college scouting has dropped off. I've stated before our Undrafted player seem to make more impact then the drafted ones.

Tuesday
December 20
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Issue 20
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harbaugh, ravens deserve better from flacco, coaches


I don't need to write "I'm a John Harbaugh fan" any more than I already have over the last 30 months here at #DMD to remind you that I am, in fact, an unabashed supporter of the Ravens' head coach.

He can coach MY team in the NFL any day.

There are plenty of others around the NFL who think the same way. Whenever the day comes that Harbaugh is no longer the coach in Baltimore, he'll have two or three job offers in the league before the sun sets on his first day of unemployment.

He's been an outstanding coach in Baltimore, by any measuring stick you wish to use. I hate to say things like this and be ultra-blunt, but it's the Glen Burnie coming out in me, I guess. If you don't think John Harbaugh has been a terrific addition to the Ravens since coming here in 2008, you're just not very smart.

But these are tough times for Harbaugh, as the Ravens fight for a playoff spot and, possibly, help him keep his job in Owings Mills. I've said all season that I think John's tenure with the Ravens might be in serious jeopardy if they don't make the playoffs in 2016.

They've been joined at the hip for nine years now, winning and losing together. Can Joe Flacco deliver two quality performances for his coach and move the Ravens back into the playoffs?

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, 2017 is the last year on his current contract, which means at some point between now and February, Steve Bisciotti will have to give Harbaugh at least a two-year extension if not more. No owner in his right mind allows the coach to run the team in his "lame duck season" and a one-year extension would be disrespectful to someone like Harbaugh, a 9-year coaching veteran with a Super Bowl ring and three AFC title games to his credit.

So, it could all come down to these last two games for Harbaugh. A pair of wins, another AFC North crown, and Harbaugh would likely get another two years added to his deal. That doesn't mean he couldn't be fired, of course, at any point in those three years. But he wouldn't be looking for a job in February, that's for sure.

The Ravens face a tall task in the next two weeks. To capture the AFC North, they need to win both of their remaining games. Since 2002, the Ravens have defeated both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati on the road in the same season just one time (2011). In other words, if you believe that history repeats itself, don't expect the Ravens to go two-for-two in their final pair of games.

They could still make the playoffs by finishing 9-7, but that's not a certainty by any means and entering the post-season as a wild card team means you have to win three straight road games (unless you're the #5 seed and wind up playing the #6 seed in the conference title game) to make it to the Super Bowl.

It's either win-two or bust for the Ravens, most likely.

And what does Harbaugh need in order for that to happen?

He needs Joe Flacco to come through for him.

That might be too much pressure for Flacco, who has had a very on-again, off-again 2016 campaign. For whatever reason, Joe's play has slipped this season. Maybe it's the knee, maybe it's the 5th offensive coordinator in five seasons, maybe it's just "the other team tries, too", but something is "off" with Flacco in 2016.

Greg Norman once said, "There's nothing wrong with my golf game that three birdies in a row won't fix."

I could say the same thing for Flacco: "There's nothing wrong with his quarterbacking skills that two wins in a row won't fix."

The only problem? I'm not sure Joe can pull it off.

The fiasco in the 4th quarter of Sunday's game was troubling on a variety of levels, but I look more at Flacco and his decision to follow through with Mornhinweg's play-call as the most head-scratching event of the entire sequence.

Nine years into the league, with a Super Bowl MVP trophy at home, should give Flacco every right to take the play from his offensive coordinator, get out to the huddle, think it over for a second, and say to the other ten guys, "Marty wants to throw the ball here, but that seems awfully dumb to me...I'll take the heat for this one, but we're going with the 34 right edge pitch to Dixon here. Let's run this thing a few times, kill some clock, get some points, and head to Little Italy for a nice meal."

Instead, Joe opted for the throw, tossed it right to the Eagles, and a blowout became a nailbiter in the span of about four minutes and some change.

Oh, it's also worth remembering that the Baltimore defense was battered throughout the afternoon and didn't put up much resistance to the Eagles on their final two drives of the game, so they had a hand in the near-loss as well. But the whole collapse started with that interception in the red zone.

Flacco is a varsity letterman at this point in his career. He should have known better than to throw the ball in that situation, no matter what his "boss" told him to do.

He's not necessarily one for throwing shade or pulling rank, but Flacco should have called off the pass, went with a running play and then, if questioned, simply said to Harbaugh and Mornhinweg, "Look, I understood the play call but I didn't feel it was the smart thing to do given the circumstances. You guys pay me $22 million a year to win you football games. I thought throwing it there was too risky. I think I'm owed a little bit of latitude having been in the league nine seasons. I'm not chopped liver, you know."

If Flacco, after nine years in the NFL, didn't have that card to play, his relationship with Harbaugh isn't nearly as strong as it should be.

And Harbaugh, who has been joined at the hip with Joe since 2008, should also respect the fact that his quarterback has earned the right to steer his own ship in times like those.

Why Flacco didn't do that, I have no idea. And that, more than anything, would worry me if I'm John Harbaugh.

There are times in a game when the quarterback has to simply be the caretaker. Most of the gunslinger types (and Flacco definitely fancies himself one of those) in the NFL want to throw the ball on every down, fire a dozen deep balls per-game, and rack up the yards the way Hall and Oates racked up number one hits in their glory years.

There's a time and place for that mentality. There's also the occasion when the quarterback simply says, "We need to salt this game away and being smart and safe is the best way to do that right now."

Flacco failed miserably in that area on Sunday.

So, too, did Mornhinweg, but his shelf life in Baltimore was already limited. He's the interim offensive coordinator with a capital "I", a nice guy and a nice company man, but not the long-term answer for the Ravens. Then again, "long term answer" doesn't often apply to those occupying the offensive coordinator's office in Baltimore for whatever reason, dating all the way back to the Brian Billick era, in fact.

That's another story for a wintery day in Charm City. Like a guy who dates eleven women seriously over a decade or so but doesn't marry any of them, something is embedded deeply in the Ravens' organizational skin that keeps the team from identifying, hiring and keeping a quality offensive coordinator. It's not a "Billick thing" or a "Harbaugh thing"...it's more complex than that and, at some point, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and, if he's going to stick around, John Harbaugh have to figure out why it is that the Ravens can't latch on to a quality guy as the leader of their offense.

Some will say Harbaugh also failed on Sunday. Many have wondered, "Why didn't Harbaugh himself veto the play call when it was handed down?"

That's a fair question. The video below is the first two minutes or so of John's press conference yesterday in Owings Mills, where he addresses the play-call by Mornhinweg.

He takes responsibility for the mistake, which he has to do, even if it wasn't actually his fault, but we're left to wonder what the protocol is for play-calling with six minutes left in a 27-17 game where things appear to be running along smoothly until the ball gets thrown to the other team.



Remember, this wasn't a 4th and 1 play from the 23 yard line with thirty seconds left in the game, where Harbaugh would likely be ultra-concerned about the play-call and seeking some sort of involvement in the situation at hand.

This was, essentially, "just another play-call" with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, except that moment and that series, in particular, called for ball protection and clock usage, not wild throws and a pile-on-the-points mentality.

My guess here -- and I haven't yet heard anyone ask John this question directly -- was that he didn't know a pass play was being called. The play was relayed from Mornhinweg to Flacco, not from Mornhinweg to Harbaugh to Flacco.

Harbaugh admitted afterwards that he "should have" vetoed the call, but never actually admitted to knowing the call before it was delivered to Flacco.

Nonetheless, even if Harbaugh DID know it, Flacco still should have rationalized it all and changed the play in the huddle.

Some folks will say, "If the Ravens would have scored a touchdown there, everyone would have been bowing down to Marty for his gutsy, outside the box play call."

Not really. Throwing the ball there was dumb. It made no sense given the tenor of the game and the fourth quarter in general, as the Eagles continued to hang around despite themselves.

A bad decision is a bad decision. If it happens to work out, that's all well and good, but most times bad decisions turn into bad results. That one sure did on Sunday.

But, again, the person ultimately responsible for making it a "good" play-call -- the quarterback -- should have known from jump street it was a bad risk to take at a critical time in the game. Anyone with a brain knew the formula there; run, run, run. If you get a first down, keep running. If you don't get a first down, kick a field goal.

These last two games might determine Harbaugh's future in Baltimore.

It would be nice to see the team rally around that scenario and produce a pair of successful efforts for him.

And it would be particularly nice to see the quarterback step up and deliver two "elite" performances for the coach and the team, something he certainly owes the organization after a less than stellar season to date.

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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.

Whenever things go wrong in sports, fans almost always turn to blaming coaches.

It's understandable: Few of us actually have the knowledge to tell the players how to do things better on the field without sounding like kooks, but we all figure we could make better play-calling or pitching change decisions, right?

So here we are again, after a roundly panned play-call resulted in an interception that almost blew a solid lead against the Eagles on Sunday. Even John Harbaugh called it an all-time bad decision. But all of this focus on the "pass over run" call obscures the person who REALLY should be getting the heat over the near debacle.

Joe Flacco.

Let's acknowledge one thing straight away: Nothing about calling a passing play REQUIRES the quarterback to throw into coverage. Flacco could have just as easily sailed the ball safely out of bounds, which would have preserved a chance for more points even if it annoyingly stopped the clock. Ultimately, all of the blame for not seeing the defender, as Flacco claimed, and actually turning the ball over rests entirely on the shoulder of the quarterback who threw the football.

Criticism of Flacco in this town is a tough needle to thread. The guy got way too much (ridiculous) hate early in his career, and then he won the team a Super Bowl.

Now though it seems that criticisms get filtered back through that prism and it's hard not to listen to yourself and hear people who wanted Joe run out of town on 2010 or 2011. But there is, or should be, a difference between a quarterback in his second or third year and a nine year vet being asked to be THE franchise player, and in Flacco's case there just hasn't been that kind of progression. He still has the same poor mechanics, makes the same bad decisions, and plays the same style now as he did six years ago.

At 8-6 and in danger of missing the playoffs for the second straight season, Flacco won't be laughing if things go poorly in Pittsburgh this Sunday.

Paradoxically, that Super Bowl title and historic playoff run looks like it might have been one of the worst things that could have happened to Flacco and the Ravens, because from where I'm sitting it looks like it legitimately convinced Flacco and Harbaugh that all criticism of Joe is crazy talk and that he really is one of the very best quarterbacks in the league.

Love him all you want, but if you think Joe Flacco is a top 5 quarterback on par with Brady or Rodgers then Hawk Harrelson is embarrassed by what a homer you are. But that's not even really a criticism, because you don't NEED to be on that level to win, and Flacco has certainly proven he's a Super Bowl caliber quarterback despite being decidedly non-elite.

But a big part of making that possible is understanding your own limitations and playing in a way that mitigates them, and that's where Flacco has gone off the rails in the last four years.

Game in and game out, he continues to play like he honestly believes there's nothing he can't do with his arm and no mechanical flaw in his game that he needs to fix, no matter how glaring.

The next time you watch the Patriots play, check out how Brady moves up and climbs the pocket against edge pressure. Then pick out some of the other top quarterbacks in the league and see how they do it, too. Then fire up a Ravens' game and try to compare how Flacco does it. Chances are you won't even see him doing it, because Joe's response to pressure is to drift back further and further, helping the pass rush or leaving him throwing from his back foot.

After nine years it's just flat out ridiculous that Flacco STILL hasn't improved on such a basic aspect of the position, and time aftet time this specific defect kills drives for the offense.

The simple fact is that, contrary to a popular narrative, this Ravens' team is better than they look.

Outside of a stretch where they had a lot of injuries, they've gotten some great performances from a deep cast of contributors on both sides of the ball. Their problem is that quarterbacks have a disproportionate effect on outcomes in the NFL, and their quarterback has been their biggest anchor all season, with Sunday being just the latest example.

John Harbaugh covered for Joe on Sunday because that's what he does publicly.

Marty Morninwheg never really had a shot at becoming the permanent offensive coordinator, so he can be safely tossed under the bus in that situation. But somewhere in the Castle, somewhere soon, the coaching staff and personnel guys need to have an honest, tough talk about Flacco's play over the last four years.

And they need to find a new offensive coordinator like Gary Kubiak, who will both coach to Joe's strengths AND demand a greater degree of accountability from the quarterback. And Harbaugh himself needs to demand Flacco start working to fix these flaws.

There's a fine line between confidence and unwarranted arrogance, and Joe Flacco is getting mighty close to crossing it. Priority number one for his head coach needs to be pulling him away from that threshold, and recovering the Flacco from 2010-12 who was much more realistic, on the field, about his own abilities and limitations.

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today's the day we visit helping up mission!


Thanks to all of you, the Christmas season is about to be spruced up for over 400 men at Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

Our third and final drop-off event for our Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota, was held last night at Chick fil-A in Nottingham Square, and once again, my old radio buddy Glenn Clark and his pal, Zack Merrick of the band "All Time Low", knocked it out of the park.

That's Glenn Clark on the right, Zack Merrick in the middle and, of course, the Chick fil-A cow on the left. All three were part of our big night at Chick fil-A on Monday evening to gather winter apparel for the men at Helping Up Mission.

Merrick hung out for more than two hours, welcoming over 150 of his adoring fans and posing for pictures, signing autographs and helping us collect over 2,000 pieces of clothing last night alone. We'll have the final total of donated items later today when we distribute everything at Helping Up Mission, but we should be close to 5,000 total pieces of apparel, the most we've ever accumulated in the seven years we've been doing this.

Our Monday got off to a great start yesterday when I visited my friend Brian Hubbard at Kelly Payroll in Sparks and picked up over 100 items that were donated by the fine folks at Kelly. That was just the beginning of a great day, as the Chick fil-A location in White Marsh was packed by the time Merrick arrived at 6 pm.

Today at 11 am, with help from our friend Brad Foxwell at Hughes Mechanical, we'll load up all of the clothing in a truck and get it downtown for the distribution event. We'll have a video recap for you here at #DMD later this week so you can see for yourself how gratified the men are with the kindness you all have provided them this holiday season.

These are men who have fallen on hard times. They're trying to recover and rebound. Many of them entered the Mission with no clothes except what they wore when they stepped into the facility. Nearly all of them have nothing to give relatives or friends at Christmas.

Your donation of winter apparel helps them in ways you'll never know. Whether it's outfitting them, personally, or giving them the opportunity to present a gift or two to a loved one, you truly are making their Christmas special and memorable.

We started this, Clark and I did, way back in the old days when we were on the radio together. I remember that first year, we had thirty or so bags of clothing laying in the station's main office and a Grinch in the place scoffed and said, "What are all of these bags doing here cluttering up the place?"

Tomorrow, we'll be taking over 120 bags of clothing into Helping Up Mission. It will be, for a while anyway, quite a "clutter" in the room at Helping Up Mission. But, as the saying goes, it's a good clutter.

Thanks, again, to our friends at Jerry's Toyota for their support, as well as Glory Days Grill, the Baltimore Blast, Chick fil-A of Nottingham Square, Glenn Clark and Zack Merrick. Everyone played a crucial role in this year's event, including those of you who took the time to donate clothing.

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drew's holiday gift -
song #12 on the "bruce cd"


There's no way I can put this "Best of" Bruce CD together for all of you without including one of Springsteen's most compelling songs ever.

It comes from his deepest, most disclosing album ever, "Darkness on the Edge of Town", and is one of those songs that actually might sound better live, because Springsteen, after all these years still, sings it like the events in the song are happening in his life to this very day.

"Racing in the Streets" is a wonderful testament to Springsteen's two youthful loves; cars and women, weaving a tale of a drag racer with a car he built from scratch, who chases down an opponent and not only wins the race, but wins the other guy's girl, too.


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #12


I met her on the strip three years ago

In a Camaro with this dude from L.A.

I blew that Camaro off my back

And drove that little girl away

But now there's wrinkles around my baby's eyes

And she cries herself to sleep at night

When I come home the house is dark

She sighs, "baby did you make it all right"

Their relationship becomes tenuous when she realizes the car is more important than she is, though, and Springsteen continues to race despite having this woman at home, waiting for him, needing him and expecting all along this wouldn't be the way things turned out for her.

Finally, he too realizes the car and that "need for speed" he probably doesn't quite understand have won out over the woman he brought into his life. And he gives it up, for her.

She sits on the porch of her daddy's house

But all her pretty dreams are torn

She stares off alone into the night

With the eyes of one who hates for just being born

For all the shut down strangers and hot rod angels

Rumbling through this promised land

Tonight my baby and me, we're gonna ride to the sea

And wash these sins off our hands


#dmd comments


DELRAY RICK     October 22
GEORGE---Its more like what are the odds "DRAMA QUEEN" can even make the first tee. Start reading the scores right.

George     October 22
Still waiting for an offer of odds against Tiger Woods winning the 2018 Masters. Don’t need anyone speculating whether I’m a fanboy or sycophant or other irrelevant drivel, nor a reminder that the cops took a mugshot of him like they do of every chump who gets locked up for drunk driving. I’m looking for a financial transaction on a sports proposition. If you think Tiger won’t win the Masters, and have the financial courage of your convictions, quote the odds you offer.

Steve in Hunt Valley     October 21
BJ, the passive-aggressive thing looks good and you play it off well but you never actually write a complimentary word about DMD or the stories. You'll write something vague and play it off a compliment when you're questioned on it but I read your comments and shake my head all the time. You obviously have a personal axe to grind with either Drew or the writers. It comes across loud and clear. But I'm sure Drew appreciates the fact that you visit.

H     October 21
After seeing who the Ravens have on IR and who is currently on the injured list, I am amazed that the Ravens are 3-3.

BJ     October 21
@TG Since you're not trying to pick a fight....I said "I consider #DMD a notch above the 4 letter network". I read #DMD most every day, never read any of the "content" on ESPN. Point being ESPN fawns all over this Ball guy (judging by the headlines I see), I come here to avoid that prattle. But it's ok, CJ/PGAV/MONK needs someone to take some of the heat of off him/them ;)

That Guy     October 21
@BJ, you'd have to point out the "compliment" in your OP. I don't see one. Not trying to pick a fight here with you but you do come across as a DMD hater.

BJ     October 21
@Aaron If you could read and comprehend, that was a compliment. If I was just a hater, I'd not be surprised to read about this Ball guy right?

SOD is tough, some of the same guys saying Pees should shut up and be able to handle criticism without lashing out, are the first to bash anyone who dare post even the mildest of "criticism" out here. Interesting

Aaron     October 21
Been coming here for a year now and still can't ever remember "BJ" writing one complimentary word about the site. Always have to wonder why he/she visits. Must be a plant from the old station, just piling on the hate.

BJ     October 21
No idea if the Lakers won or lost last night, but that seems like it'd be easy to look up?

As for being Ball'd out, whose fault is that? Certainly not the goofy Dad, he can't cover himself. Yup, it's those idiot media types flocking to sh*t like flies. Mentioning his name here is puzzling. Who in Baltimore cares about this clown show? Call me crazy, but I consider #DMD a notch above the four letter network and am disappointed this "story" is being covered at all. All things considered, I'd rather see more video of Tiger practicing in his backyard.

BTW, Holland is as bad , if not worse, than Miley. If CC were cheap, he might be decent space filler (pun intended), but I agree with @Brian M, they need to get younger, not older

unitastoberry     October 21
A one year rental on 37 years old CC is right up the Angelos style I would agree with that. But I think they need a miracle or a new owner to ever win the championship again.

DELRAY RICK     October 21
FAKE NEWS ON THIS SITE. Who ever wrote the LAKERS lost last is WROOONG! What a DUMMIE!

Brian M.     October 21
Drew,

Sorry but I do not want Sabathia here and not because he's a Yankee but in the December of his career and we need youth.

Dave W.     October 20
Not a Tiger fan but I agree with Al. Tiger's mug shot doesn't parallel with his attempted comeback IMHO.

Tom     October 20
@Al, You must be new in these parts. Herman has a very clear disdain for people like Tiger, if you know what I mean.

AL     October 20
I'm still not sure what Tiger's mug shot has to do with his golf game. I see people saying they don't like Tiger and that he's a bad guy but I don't know how that connects to his golf game.

DELRAY RICK     October 20
HERMAN----RIGHT ON BOUT PHONY "DRAMA QUEEN" every month he lets the die-hards know , "i am still around". He will embarrass himself just like the mug shot. He's been on drugs for years and the PGA is really on drug testing this year. Hope he gets caught AGAIN.

clayton     October 20
AL------ I think the term role model has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a quaint and outmoded concept. It has been replaced by “brand,” where the currency among athletes is the ability to get your fans to buy the crap that is identified with you. In case of an unfortunate arrest, there are plenty of spin doctors out there who, for a large fee, will tell the public what to think, and they are very good at what they do.

AL     October 20
What does Tiger's mug shot have to do with his golf game? Half the NFL has a mug shot. Doesn't seem to bother them.

HERMAN     October 20
I'm amazed how quickly the Tiger sycophants climb back onto the bandwagon. Look, he's changed his swing, it's easier on the body, he's coming back, he's coming back! He can play again, oh joy!

Did they forget that mug shot that fast?

Tiger manipulates his public better than anyone. The fanboys jump for joy, articles about how he might now be a contender next April amongst the azaleas, forget that only 10% of majors have been won by golfers past 40.

And apparently, forgetting that awful mug shot.

Steve from Pimlico     October 20
Don't say coaching doesn't matter .Look at the Rams with an offensive minded coach. Goff,called a bust last year,now looks like a rising young star .


Tom J     October 20
I finally figured it out.....after hearing the M and T commercial for the millionth time, The Ravens need to tell Joe that he's going shopping with his Ravens debit card at 1pm on Sundays as that generates way more excitement and passion from him than we ever see on the football field.....also, I'm glad I left my seat Sunday so I didn't have to see that pathetic defensive effort from Loudmouth Pees defense. He's clueless. Way to endear yourself to the fans even further coach. First, the players commenting about the fans, now the coaches.......clueless

Brien Jackson     October 19
The "opinionated players" story has been debunked over and over and was only ever a story that was pushed by Preston and Youness. And no one has ever claimed Ozzie doesn't retain control of roster moves. Ever.

the other that guy     October 19
@Kevin Yeah, cause nothing guarantees a good football team more than some "strongly opinionated players" lol.

And as for leadership "on and off the field", I read everywhere what a great "leader" Eric Weddle is, but he can;t tackle fer crap.

DR (the original)     October 19
Can't agree with everything you said there, Brien.

Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta were excellent players, in each case the security blankets for QBs who didn't have great WRs. Ed Dickson is still a starting player in the NFL. A little too early to totally diss Maxx Williams, no?

I'd argue that Anquan Boldin was a pretty good goal line target. Remember the AFC Championship Game? Yes, he came from somewhere else. Not disputing our poor WR draft choices.

Kevin     October 19
Brien-

The head coach has been largely to blame for the makeup of the roster, changing the attitude, style and leadership both on the field and off. The changes in the types of players in recent "Ozzie's" drafts notably changed with the appearance of the new coach as well. The Ravens have drafted non-strongly opinionated players and great special teamers who cannot reach the level of play that game changers can. Those game changers do not fit the mold of the Harbaugh era, except to win a Super Bowl.

HERMAN     October 19
I didn't know fruit could speak or vote.

MOE     October 19
@Jake Swallowed up?? How so?? The video is still there, as are Drew's insightful comments. Everyone can still go watch and hear for themselves (and enjoy), how does anything in the comments section distract from that, much less "swallow it up"?

I'm thinking people criticize Brien cause his writing is horrible and they wish we had more David and George, and less Brien and Todd. That and the fact Brien overwhelms the comments sections at times with his overzealous attempts to make sense out of his nonsense.

Brien Jackson     October 19
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Hyperbole+definition

Jake     October 19
It's a shame Drew's outstanding video analysis of Tiger gets swallowed up by all of the Brien bashing. I don't understand why people feel the need to constantly criticize him.

Curly     October 19
Just Another Guy Did you notice they were “different” articles, so he didn’t just read one article thirty-six times, or three articles twelve times each. Syllables, man. The more you can put in your sentences the more authoritative you sound.

just another guy     October 19
“I must have read 3 dozen different articles demanding a new offensive coordinator already this season.”



So what Brien is saying is, there were at least 36 “journalists” out there “demanding” Harbs dump Marty? Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe 36 reporters would a) care enough about the situation to write an article and b) saying “The Ravens should hire a new OC right now” is NOT the same as “demanding”. Why would any reporter, even a local beat writer, “demand” anything?

Unless by “articles” Brien means, I don’t know, facebook posts? Tweets?

This encapsulates very nicely the style and quality we get from this guy. I try to read his stuff because, sometimes, if you read between the oh so many lines, he might make an interesting point, but it gets harder and harder to ignore stuff like the sentence above. Why not just say “some have said” and leave it at that??

And the point is not about grammar, it’s about not throwing crap out there that is clearly not true. Pretty ironic, cause that’s the same issue that guy Brien loves to hate has, and gets ripped for, by the likes of Brien and the other serial fabricator, the Little Fella (you know, the tweeter in chief). This is a common practice by people with zero credibility trying to pretend they have some (and interesting that Brien throws that same accusation at people who “watch film”, yet he does exact same thing).

And yes I know, the core audience does not care, I’ll get shouted down as a hater. After all, this is the blog equivalent of talk radio, why be so picky, right?


Fact Check     October 19
The "expert" is wrong again. He slams folks who say they watch the ALL 22, yet can't refute any of the observations directly.



But for all of the lousy writing and having "Fact Check" fact check his dubious credentials. I've found NO articles with is by-line on NPR, ESPN nor CBS sports, they only 2 things I've found is grass cutter and some writing on some 8th rate website.

Expert???? Micheal Clayton instead of Mark Clayton?? I guess he has urges for George Clooney.



Way out of his depth. Went to the LF school of "good" writing. Just shout a lot and call yourself an expert. Ozzie has 2 Super Bowl rings. If the "expert" would have been running the Ravens? Every single year they would win it all.


Tom J     October 19
Well, I can finally agree with Brien on one thing, Ozzie is a huge part of the Ravens problems. I've been saying this to people for years but no one ever wants to call him out because he seems to get a hall pass for the 96 draft. Yes, he has drafted some incredible players but when was the last great draft? They've had one Pro Bowler from the first 3 rounds since around 08. And to all of the Flacco supporters, read the article in The Sun where his pears voted him the third most overrated QB in the NFL. It's one thing when the "know nothing fans' say this but when you pears speak, that says volumes.

James - Dundalk     October 19
@ STEVE FROM PIMLICO, Remember Ramon Harewood the "O" line guy Ozzie picked at 194. Guess who was picked at 195. Antonio Brown

Bill     October 19
Thanks for the Tiger Woods swing insight Drew. Interesting to say the least. I can definitely see on the last video with the red shirt where, as you say, he's standing taller and not nearly as hunched over as in the 2011 video. I don't know much about the swing but I would assume the 2017 version is putting less stress on his back.

Mike from Reisterstown     October 18
@ ANDYMTH3 sounds like Bob From Parkville in reverse.

Brien Jackson     October 18
@Chris K



I'm 99% sure that Machado isn't even on the Yankees' radar. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar excelled at Double-A this year and figure to move to 3b/2b. They might be in on Harper since Gardner's getting older (Clint Frazier is their CF'er of the future btw), but like Drew said it's pitching that they really need. In the rotation AND in the bullpen as well.

Tom     October 18
I can make this argument easy.



Popovich is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



Trump is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



I don't have a dog in either hunt and I can vouch for both statements. Both of them are nuts.

James     October 18
@Herman. Nicely played sir. Funny stuff.

That Guy     October 18
@Andysmyth3,



I'm not picking on you independently. I see this a lot on internet forums everywhere when someone takes exception with a writer, author, blogger, etc.



I find it funny in a weird way. I wonder if you even know you wrote it.



You wrote: "You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think."



You're clearly pointing out that you believe the writer is a "nobody" and "nobody really cares what you think."



That's fair and it's your right to make that observation.



If you don't care what he thinks why did you take the time to even respond?



I see that sort of thing a lot and it makes me laugh.



BTW, Popovich is kind of crazy. I think you'd even admit that if you weren't so mad about Drew calling him crazy.

HERMAN     October 18
@Andymth3



Gregg Popovich got where he is due to his white privilege. Didn't you hear Obama? "you didn't build that"!

He should immediately resign his position as he is taking the job of a more well deserving minority who didn't get their job through white privilege. It is almost criminal that he is a white man lording over a black majority team in a black majority league. All due to white privilege.

I call on Gregg Popovich to immediately resign his position, give it to a more deserving minority being held down because Gregg holds the job that the minority deserves more, and further, to contribute the salary he didn't earn to BLM.

Championships? Popovich didn't earn those, it was on the backs of minorities. He should return all his hardware, and resign, allowing for a minority to move up, and apologize for all his white privilege.

interested thrid party     October 18
@Andymth3 Nice post. You must be new, the meat of this site is low brow humor and spitballing, how dare you pay attention to the written word! Be prepared for some lambasting from the SOD. But some of us appreciate well thought responses such as yours.

Andymth3     October 18
Gregg Popovich "crazy"? We all should be so crazy. This is a man that graduated from the Air Force Academy, served his country in the armed forces, in intelligence no less, has been one of the greatest basketball coaches in history winning 5 NBA championships, but he is crazy? Why? Because he had the temerity to call the president what he is, a "soulless coward"? Because he speaks forcefully and eloquently about race, and injustice, and inequity? You're right with your I only graduated from Glen Burnie High School schtick. You are way out of your league taking shots at him. I get it, he is a liberal and you are a conservative, you do not agree politically, but that does not make him crazy. I have read your obligatory free speech references, which I am not sure if you actually believe, but here is someone exercising his right to free speech, and he is doing it an a way that does not interfere with games, or national anthems, or your other precious forums, and yet he is crazy because he expressing his opinion. Is this what America has come to now? You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think, but when an NBA coach actually says something that you do not agree with, how dare he? It is easy to be patriotic and American when everybody agrees with you, but heaven forbid they have a different point of view, them clearly they are crazy. I thought you were smarter and more broad minded than that. I guess I was wrong. I must be crazy.

DELRAY RICK     October 18
Just heard on the radio HILLARY IN LONDON says it is OK to knee for anthem. She will go opposite of TRUMP no matter what. THATS IT! You now can stand on your head if you want. What bunch of crap.

George     October 18
What odds am I offered against Tiger winning the Masters next year? I wish to put my money where my mouth is.

Brendan     October 18
One theory is that Anderson was not let go because of the other Atheltic Directors that have been fired related to the FBI investigation at other schools. Maryland is free and clear of that landmine, but had Anderson been let go at the same time as those others, accusations would be made. I think it is as simple as Loh does not like him and fundraising issues. But he is getting 6 months paid for the move to the Big Ten, which went well.

JohnInEssex     October 18
THANKS Drew for the write up on the MD AD situation. Good stuff!



Watched the Dodgers/Cubs last night - I laughed hysterically to myself as I watched the Cubs pitcher walk the Dodger pitcher on 4 straight balls with the bases loaded. The batter was doing the old fake a bunt and lean out over the plate thing that we all did in Little League, and it worked! During that at bat, the catcher talked to the pitcher twice and the pitching coach came out once. The color commentator (Ron Darling?) was spot on saying all this talking to the pitcher about pitching to the pitcher was just making matters worse for the Cubs pitcher. He also said there is a difference between pitching in the regular season compared to pitching in the playoffs. The sweet Cubbie fans rained down a thunderstorm of BOOS for their pitcher at the end of the inning.



Earlier in the game, the leadoff guy for the Dodgers (Taylor?) managed to get a triple on a ball hit down the third base line. Don't recall ever seeing that happen.

HERMAN     October 18
@robintowson makes a great point, Korea is golf crazy and starved for a sanctioned event. In addition to the purse I'd like to see the "guarantees" paid out to top players in appearance fees and other opportunities there where they can make a killing. Firms there would easily pay a top player a half million to play with the CEO and attend the big company dinner.

Leadership of the tour should be applauded for what they have done with the schedule. The various "runs" make total sense, opening in Hawaii, a run through California, off to Florida, and so on. This three week Asian run is genius.


Steve from Pimlico     October 18
If the Ravens had an Antonio Brown and a Leveon Bell,Joe would be more than adequate at QB.

Look what he did with Ray Rice and Anquan Bolding.

The modern game of football has passed Ozzie by ,sadly.Three of his beloved Alabama picks Cody ,Upshaw and now Williams have hardly been impactful players.

The QB positions new young stars all have mobility which forces defenses to account for their escapability.

James - Dundalk     October 18
@ Pratt. I always admired the knowledge of Phil Savage when he was director of college scouting. Since he left for the Cleveland GM years ago it IMO our college scouting has dropped off. I've stated before our Undrafted player seem to make more impact then the drafted ones.

Monday
December 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 19
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ravens are lucky to be 8-6, but that’s what they are (lucky and 8-6)


Maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be for the Ravens.

Things didn’t go all that great in the 2012 regular season, remember, but John Harbaugh’s team got hot at the right time and rode a 4-game playoff winning streak to the Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

Who knows how this is going to end in 2016?

Maybe they’re going to squeeze their way into the post-season somehow and put it all together again like they did four years ago.

Nothing would surprise me with this team. They could lose their last two by 17 points in each game and I wouldn’t be shocked. Or they could win them both.

Here’s what I do know, though.

I’ve never seen a team be more fortunate to have an 8-6 record than the current edition of the Ravens.

They’re friggin’ really lucky.

I know, I know, folks in sports always take umbrage with the word “lucky”, but in this case, it fits the Ravens like a glove.

Side note: I never quite understood why people get so ticked off when they hear the word "lucky". If you make a 50-foot putt and the guy you're playing with calls it "lucky", who cares? It went in, let's go to the next hole. If you win a game, say, because the other team's manager left a stinky pitcher in there and gift-wrapped the game for you, who cares if it's a "lucky" win, you're moving on in the playoffs and the other team isn't. Look at it this way: Would you like to be "lucky enough" to win PowerBall someday? Yeah, me too.

OK, back to the lucky Ravens.

They were fortunate the Eagles visit came on December 18 and not November 18, because that might have been the difference in winning and losing.

Joe Flacco and Company escaped yesterday’s 27-26 win over Philadelphia because the Eagles – at 5-8 – had nothing to play for in the game’s waning seconds. So, when they scored a touchdown with four seconds remaining to pull within a point, head coach Doug Pederson decided they’d either win or lose, right there.

An all too familiar pose for Joe Flacco in 2016.

And C.J. Mosley made a play that saved the game, might have saved their season, and could have, even, saved John Harbaugh’s job.

It was strange that Mosley and the defense came up big at the end, because they spent most of the afternoon getting gouged by Philadelphia's supposedly poor running game. Ryan Mathews gained 128 yards for the Eagles and the Baltimore defensive line spent a large part of the day getting pushed back off the line of scrimmage.

Here's a piece of good news on an otherwise dreary day: Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Ravens in the final quarter yesterday, yet they somehow still managed to hang on and win.

Marty Mornhinweg made Buck Showalter look like Manager-of-the-Year with his play-call late in the game and the Ravens up 27-17. Rather than just smartly call run, run, run there – and take whatever the Eagles gave up – the (very) interim Ravens offensive coordinator called for a pass play on 1st down from the Philadelphia 11 yard line.

Flacco didn’t help matters by throwing the ball right to a player in white and green, but Mornhinweg’s call – Harbaugh called it afterwards “the worst play-call ever” – showed an amazing lack of in-game “feel” for a guy who has been around the NFL for 25 years.

Not that he was a shoo-in to roll over into 2017 as the team's offensive coordinator or anything like that, but Mornhinweg sealed his fate for next season with that baffling play call. The Ravens will be utilizing their 6th offensive coordinator in the last five years in the 2017 campaign. That's not a good stat, sports fans.

The Eagles, to their credit, drove down the field after they picked off Flacco and kicked a field goal to make it 27-20, then got the ball back with 1:39 to play after the Ravens went 3-and-out. Give Mornhinweg credit there, at least. He dialed up three straight running plays in that series, albeit unsuccessful ones.

On the ensuing drive, two defensive penalties aided Philadelphia's quest and Carson Wentz’s touchdown scamper with four seconds left brought the Eagles to within a point.

And then, because the visitors weren’t in position to care much about the result at that point, they went for two points to win the game and Mosley made his play that gave the Ravens a 27-26 win.

Lucky.

No one wants to say it, of course, because using that word – lucky – is offensive to people in sports, but the Ravens are the most fortunate over .500 team in the league, by far.

I obviously don't watch every game of the other 8-6 teams in the league, but there's no way the Broncos, Texans, Colts, Buccaneers and Packers are all as lucky as the Ravens, right?

They were lucky to beat the Browns in the second week of the season, getting the benefit of a horrendous taunting call on Cleveland’s Terrelle Pryor in the game’s final minute as the Browns drove for the potential game-winning touchdown.

They were equally lucky to be a shorthanded Cincinnati team last month in Baltimore, getting a huge play from Elvis Dumervil as the Bengals approached the end zone for the game-winning score.

Heck, they needed a 53-yard field goal from Justin Tucker in the final two minutes at Jacksonville just to beat the Jaguars in week three. The Jaguars...

And the Ravens were beyond fortunate to beat the Eagles yesterday. Had you flown in from Pluto just before the game and didn’t know the standings ahead of time, you would have sworn the team in white was 7-6 and the guys in black were 5-8.

But they’ve been pulling rabbits out of their hats all season long have the Ravens. And with two weeks left, they’re on the verge of returning to the post-season, lucky or not.

And that brings us to next Sunday in Pittsburgh.

That one might be a blowout, I'm sorry to say.

I know the stats say the Ravens are 6-1 vs. Pittsburgh in the last seven games overall. That doesn't mean squat. Not next Sunday, anyway.

Their luck has to run out at some point, right? I'm afraid so.

That said, would you bet $1,000 on the Steelers to win outright next Sunday?

Yeah, me neither.

The Ravens, as we've seen all season, have a way of getting the job done despite their own ineptitude.

Look no further than yesterday's win over Philadelphia as a prime example.

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lots of empty seats in baltimore on sunday


I'm pretty good at guessing things like this. I'd say there were about 7,000 no-shows at Ravens Stadium yesterday for the game against Philadelphia.

And, perhaps, at least 5,000 Eagles fans in the place. In my section (151) alone, there were probably 20-30 Eagles fans in the rows in front and behind me.

The latter, I understand. It's an easy trek down I-95, tickets were available at face value or less, and even though the game didn't really mean anything for Philly, it's a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

But where were all the Ravens fans yesterday?

There were gobs and gobs of purple seats still open midway through the first quarter, as I noted on Twitter.

Some folks are going to blame the weather. OK, sure, it's safe to assume some people stayed home because of the forecast, but I have to say it wasn't bad at all, save for one three-minute rain shower and some colder temps that came in around halftime.

It was, actually, "football weather".

This wasn't a throw-away game for the Ravens, by the way. This was a critically important contest that, had they lost, could have ended their season.

It wasn't a playoff game, but it was close. Where the hell was everyone?

Oh, and here's the real issue. People started leaving in the third quarter. And by the middle of the fourth quarter, there might have been 40,000 people in the stadium.

I understand leaving early if the game looks locked up with a couple of minutes left. Heck, I chronicled my own story last year when the Jaguars were in town and I left with 1:45 remaining in the game because the Ravens had just secured a first down and, in my mind, "couldn't possibly blow this one if they tried".

But that's different than gathering your stuff and leaving with ten minutes to go in the game. And last year, the team stunk. Heck, I'm shocked anyone stayed until the end of those November and December games.

Yesterday was a quasi-playoff game, and people were bolting for the exits like it was Christmas Eve and there were presents to unwrap at home.

I don't get it.

We'll delve more into this later in the week, perhaps, but that was a troubling site yesterday afternoon. The Ravens might not care, per se, because the tickets are all paid for, but people not showing up to a critical game has to be an area of concern for them.

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show me the money, week #15


Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Thanks to the Ravens and their fourth quarter collapse, I finished the day 3-2-1, winning on the Buccaneers (+7), Patriots (-3) and Bills (-10) and losing on the Ravens (-5.5) and Chiefs (-5.5). I pushed on the Chargers (+3).

I did manage to hit on the Best Bet (Buffalo), so that was nice.

Overall now, I'm 42-46-2 on the season.

I'm 6-7-1 in games involving the Ravens.

And 7-8 in "Best Bets".

If I can string together a couple of winning weeks to close out the season and then keep my head above water in the playoffs, I might just have enough money left over for a week at the beach with my family next summer.


around the nfl in thirty seconds


PACKERS 30 - BEARS 27 -- Forget about the game, which Green Bay managed to steal at the end after coughing up a 17-point lead in the 4th quarter. Did you see the hit where the "C" decal on the Chicago player's helmet got knocked off? Holy cow...

STEELERS 24 - BENGALS 20 -- The Bengals have no heart. None at all. The only good news from yesterday's collapse? Their season is over -- and Cincy should be easy pickings for the Ravens in Week #17 if the Ravens need that one to win the AFC North or make the playoffs.

TEXANS 21 - JAGUARS 20 -- I get firing Gus Bradley, but why fire him with two weeks left in the season? What's the difference between going 2-14 and, maybe, 3-13? Weird. Houston might have saved their season by benching Brock Osweiler in that one.

COLTS 34 - VIKINGS 6 -- Example number 1,035 why you don't gamble on NFL games. Who saw this one coming? Right, no one. Minnesota's 5-0 start is officially a thing of the past.

BILLS 33 - BROWNS 13 -- Cleveland is now 0-14, with San Diego coming in next Saturday. That's their last chance for a win, as they head to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale on January 1.

TITANS 19 - CHIEFS 17 -- Ryan Succoup's game-winning kick came after K.C.'s Andy Reid froze him on the first attempt, which, of course, he missed. That's one heckuva win for Tennessee. I've been saying all season they're a team on the rise.

GIANTS 17 - LIONS 6 -- New York is officially the team no one in the NFC will want to face in the post-season. They might have to go the wild card route to get to the Super Bowl, but they've done it that way before. Detroit needs a win in the last two weeks (at Dallas, home vs. Green Bay) or they're in danger of missing out on the playoffs.

SAINTS 48 - CARDINALS 41 -- About the only thing that mattered in this one: Anyone who took the "under" tore up their betting slips by halftime.

FALCONS 41 - 49'ERS 13 -- How's Torrey Smith doing these days?

PATRIOTS 16 - BRONCOS 3 -- I just don't think Denver is really any good. Maybe once Tony Romo goes there next year they'll have a chance to be solid again, but this year's team just doesn't have it, despite their 8-6 mark. The Patriots won the AFC East for the 8th straight season yesterday. Must be nice to be the only team in your division.

RAIDERS 19 - CHARGERS 16 -- San Diego wore the best uniforms in all of football yesterday and still lost, somehow.

COWBOYS 26 - BUCCANEERS 20 -- Did NBC really do a 45-second piece on Jerry Jones' grandson winning the Texas state high school football championship on Saturday? They did, didn't they?

Hughes Mechanical
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drew's holiday gift -
song #11 on the "bruce cd"


As Bruce has aged, his music has shifted from songs about girls, cars, rocky relationships and just trying to survive to things of much more importance, like family, love, personal growth and the ability to succeed in spite of today's troubling economic times.

Springsteen's 2009 album, "Working on a Dream", was seen by a lot of Bruce devotees as an ode to his wife, Patty Scialfa, who, as Bruce admits, essentially raised their three children on her own while The Boss traveled the world singing songs and garnering $350 million.

The tune I'm adding to my Bruce Holiday CD is one of the standout songs from that album, and shows the true depth of Bruce's songwriting in his later years.

The song title, "What Love Can Do" is easy enough to decipher, but it's the message Bruce is sending that seems ultra important to him on a number of "later in life" songs.

There's a pillar in the temple where I carved your name

There's a soul sitting sad and blue

Now the remedies you've taken are all in vain

Let me show you what love can do

Let me show you what love can do

Darling I can't stop the rain

Or turn your black sky blue

Well let me show you what love can do

Let me show you what love can do


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #11


This isn't a song most people know very well. It's certainly not a song you've heard before if you're not an enthusiastic Springsteen listener.

The album, "Working on a Dream" wasn't entirely memorable, mind you, but a few of the songs ("Life Itself", "Kingdom of Days", "Lucky Day") are worthy of inclusion any kind of "Best Of" Bruce album or CD.


meet zack merrick of "all-time low" tonight (and bring some coats!!)


You might know who Zack Merrick is and you may not have heard of the band "All Time Low".

But your teenage son or daughter has heard of them for sure.

We're excited to have Zack Merrick join us tonight at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square for the final night of our Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota.

Merrick, a band member in All Time Low, will be on hand from 6 pm to 8 pm to help collect your coats, jackets, shirts, hats, shoes, gloves, etc. He'll be happy to pose for pictures, sign autographs and just generally be a really good guy.

This is his third year in a row helping us out, and knowing that he now lives in Hawaii and makes it a point to come back every year for this event is especially gratifying to me and my old radio pal Glenn Clark.

Come on out tonight from 6 pm to 8 pm, bring some winter apparel, and help us with this year's collection drive to benefit the men at Helping Up Mission.

By the way, if anyone out there has a flat bed/pick-up truck with room in the back for a bunch of clothes...we could probably use your help tonight. If you're available for an hour or so, shoot me a quick e-mail and I'll give you the details: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Sunday
December 18
#DMD GAME DAY

Week 15

Volume XXIX
Issue 18
Baltimore Ravens vs. Philadelphia Eagles

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: Ravens (-5.5)


ravens need this one today in a big way


This is one of those games that worries a head coach.

Nothing at all beforehand suggests the home team is in danger of losing this one, yet that's the very reason why John Harbaugh might not have enjoyed a good night's sleep at the team hotel on Saturday evening.

The Eagles have nothing left to play for in 2016.

The Ravens have everything to play for, including a possible division title or wild card playoff berth.

The game is in Baltimore, where the Ravens have generally been difficult to beat since Harbaugh took over in 2008. In fact, only four NFC teams (Green Bay, Carolina, Washington and Seattle) have defeated the Ravens in Charm City, as Harbaugh is 13-4 at home vs. the NFC during his tenure.

That's a pretty decent track record, and a likely predictor of things to come this afternoon.

John Harbaugh would like to be this happy -- and so would Joe Flacco -- after today's game with the Eagles. There's a lot on the line this afternoon in Baltimore.

Except for one thing: the weather.

Yes, of course, both teams have to play in it, that's true.

But if the predicted in-game weather comes anything close to what they're calling for (rainy, chilly, more rain, more chill), that could certainly change the way the game gets played.

And it could help the Eagles, who aren't known for doing much of anything ultra-well, but are decent enough defensively that bad weather and slippery conditions could even things up when it comes to Baltimore throwing the ball vs. the Eagles defending the pass.

If the Ravens have to rely on the run today, who knows what result that might yield?

Baltimore could steamroll their way to a 140-yard day on the ground or hit a wall and run for 59 yards. Anyone who has watched this year's team wouldn't be surprised with either of those outcomes.

In perfect weather, or at least something more like what we saw in Baltimore two weeks ago when Miami was in town, the Ravens would win this one by 10-14 points. If it's rainy and yucky and the game slows to a snail's pace, the Ravens might not like that style.

We know Joe Flacco won't like it. The Baltimore quarterback would prefer to gun-sling it all afternoon, but that might not be possible -- or smart -- today.

At home, though, Flacco is typically much more effective and on-point than he is away from Ravens Stadium. And, like Harbaugh, he's been very solid against the NFC in Baltimore, compiling a 13-3 mark lifetime.

One final note about the Ravens in 2016: They're 0-3 against the NFC East, losing at home to Washington and falling to Dallas and New York on the road.

Philadelphia started off great, jumping out to a 3-0 mark before the Cleat of Reality paid a visit to hotshot rookie Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles offense. They're now 5-8 and playing for next season.

One stat of particular interest, though, despite Philly's 1-6 mark on the road: Except for a 32-14 beating at Cincinnati a couple of weeks back, the Eagles have been more than competitive on the road. In their other five road losses, they fell by margins of one, seven, six, five, and eleven points.

The summary: The Eagles tend to give up point totals in the 20's away from home, but manage to score in the 20's as well. And they're not often "out of the game" in the fourth quarter on the road.

They're likely better than that 5-8 overall mark shows, which is something Harbaugh has no doubt tried to impress upon his squad in an effort to make sure they're not looking ahead to next Sunday's Christmas night showdown in Pittsburgh.

And with the crappy weather coming in today, things could get dicey for the Ravens if they're not operating on all cylinders.

This, as anyone knows, is a virtual must-win for the Ravens. If they were to lose today to fall to 7-7, that would almost puncture any hopes they have of securing a wild card spot in the AFC.

They'd then have to scoreboard watch to see what the Steelers do in Cincinnati and hope that the Bengals can figure out a way to knock off Mike Tomlin's team. If Baltimore were to lose today and the Steelers would win, it would make next Sunday's game not nearly as critical for Pittsburgh.

A Ravens loss-Steelers win today would mean all Pittsburgh would have to do is win one of their final two games to capture the AFC North. They play host to Cleveland in their regular season finale, do the Steelers. Enough said there.

This one can't be coughed up today by the Ravens. It's beyond huge.

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show me the money, week #15


Time is running out if I want to make enough money to take my wife and kids on a caribbean cruise through my #DMD winnings.

We have three regular season weeks left and only a handful of playoff games remaining, and I'm five games under .500 after last week's 3-2-1 mark.

Let's get started with this week's games.

OVERALL RECORD: 39-44-1

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 6-6-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 6-8


BROWNS AT BILLS (-10.0) -- The Bills can't possibly be as bad defensively as they looked last week against the Steelers. And the Browns...well, we know they're not very good at anything, except losing. No way Buffalo gets beat today, and it's unlikely that Cleveland can do much against them offensively, although it wouldn't shock me to see this one be a low scoring, boring affair that Buffalo doesn't claim until the 4th quarter. I'll take the Bills and give up 10 points in a 20-9 victory.

TITANS AT CHIEFS (-5.5) -- This an interesting late season match-up. Tennessee really needs to win, but so, too do the Chiefs, who are playing not only for the AFC title, but perhaps even home field throughout the playoffs if they win out and New England stumbles once or twice. The Titans have been surprisingly good, although this one might be a little too much of a step up in class for them. The Chiefs, meanwhile, haven't played since beating Oakland a couple of Thursday nights ago. Let's go with Kansas City here in a close one, 23-17.

PATRIOTS AT BRONCOS (+3.0) -- Not many visiting stadiums seem to spook Tom Brady, but Denver does, as The Great One is just 2-5 in his career in The Mile High City. Denver has its work cut out for them down the stretch if they want to secure one of the two AFC wild card berths. They finish the season at Kansas City and home against Oakland. Who knows, this game today could be their best shot at winning in the final three weeks of the campaign. I'm going with the Patriots to cover and win 26-21, mainly because I think Denver isn't as good as they looked earlier in the season and the Patriots will once again figure out a way to steal a win on the road.

RAIDERS AT CHARGERS (+3.0) -- I'm going against the home underdog in the New England/Denver game, but I'm not biting that apple twice in the same day. I like Oakland's team, a lot, but something tells me this chore today is too much for them to handle. San Diego always figures out a way to show that they're better than their record indicates, which is what they'll do this afternoon at home. I'll take the Chargers to cover and win outright, 27-24 in OT.

BUCCANEERS AT COWBOYS (-7.0) -- Seven points is a pretty disrespectful point spread for a team (Tampa Bay) that has won five games in a row and is 5-1 on the road this season. Dallas, meanwhile, is coming off of dreary 10-7 loss to the Giants last Sunday night that had the Dallas newspapers and radio shows talking about Tony Romo all week because the Cowboys lost for the second time in 13 games. I like Dallas to win this one, but I'm going with the Buccaneers and the seven points, as the Cowboys improve to 12-2 with a 24-20 win.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- This could be Best Bet of the Year. Buffalo (-10) over Cleveland. Easy money.

HOW DREW SEE THE RAVENS/EAGLES GAME: Like I wrote above, in decent December weather conditions, the Ravens would win here 27-14 or something like that. But if it's nasty and rainy and yucky all day, things could definitely be different. The Eagles don't run the ball well and the Ravens have allowed the fewest yards on the ground in the entire league, so the notion that Philly can run the ball is not realistic no matter what kind of weather we see during the game. Philadelphia doesn't have much going on in the passing game, either, but the absence of Jimmy Smith evens things up a tad in that department. I like this one to play out slow-and-steady in the first half, with the Ravens holding a 10-6 edge at the intermission. The Eagles go ahead in the 3rd quarter after a special teams gaffe of some kind by the Ravens, but Baltimore counters with a TD throw from Flacco to Aiken to make it 17-13 heading into the 4th quarter. The Baltimore defense comes up with a big turnover late and the Ravens tack on a Justin Tucker field goal to win 20-13.

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towson stuns umbc with late rally


The paying customer got their money's worth and then some on Saturday night at the RAC, as UMBC and Towson locked up in what became an "instant classic", with the Tigers rallying from a five point deficit in the game's final 90 seconds to win, 73-72. The game was played before an overflow crowd at UMBC, as a large contingent of Towson supporters made the trip around the Beltway to take in the annual contest between the two schools.

Mike Morsell, who was shuttled in and out of the game early on as Towson coach Pat Skerry reamed him out for his defensive shortcomings on several occasions, wound up the hero for the Tigers, muscling in a driving layup with 12 seconds left in the contest that proved to be the decisive bucket.

UMBC did have a final chance to win, but Jairus Lyles, who missed a critical shot from the corner with 24 seconds remaining and UMBC ahead by a point, couldn't get his off-balance ten footer to fall with two seconds remaining in the game.

Towson coach Pat Skerry (right) had a couple of teaching moments with Mike Morsell (left) during last night's game at UMBC, but Morsell came through in the end with a late basket to give Towson a one-point win at UMBC.

The victory improves Towson to 7-4 on the season while the Retrievers -- who dropped their first home game in five outings at the RAC -- are now 7-3.

"I thought we were resilient, on a night when we didn't play our best and UMBC made a bunch of tough shots on us down the stretch," said Towson coach Pat Skerry afterwards on the post-game radio show. "I told the guys afterwards that not every win is pretty. You want them to be, but sometimes you have to grit it out and just do whatever you can to win a game."

UMBC senior forward Will Darley led all scorers with 22 points, while sophomore forward Joe Sherburne added 18. Darley, though, was held to just three points in the second half, a key factor in Towson's rebound from a 13-point deficit at intermission.

In the second half, though, Towson's size and strength started to win out, particularly under the boards, where the Tigers out-rebounded UMBC, 20-9, in the final twenty minutes of the game.

"That was a huge difference, I thought," said Skerry about the rebounding difference. "We seemed to get stronger as the game went on. We worked hard, which I liked to see."

Skerry also pointed to a halftime lecture, not from him, but from one of his seniors, co-captain John Davis. "John went after some guys in the locker room at halftime. He was pretty direct. It seemed to get a few guys energized, that's for sure."

Despite the loss, the 7-3 start to the season still ties UMBC's best in its 30-year NCAA Division I history.

The Retrievers have little time to rest, as high-scoring Citadel (7-5) invades the RAC Arena on Monday evening. The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring, averaging 102.5 points per game.

Towson will head west for a mid-week tournament in Las Vegas, facing Nevada (Wednesday) and Iona (Thursday).

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drew's holiday gift -
song #10 on the "bruce cd"


Over the years, particulary within the last decade, Springsteen has become much politically slanted and open about his governmental and big business preferences.

His 2012 release, "Wrecking Ball", was a direct attack on American companies who frittered away billions of dollars and, in many cases, sent their own customers to the poor house long after their executives and top staffers had stored away millions and millions before watching their company crumble.

"Jack of all Trades", "Easy Money", "Death to My Hometown" and "Rocky Ground" were four great songs on "Wrecking Ball", all written in part about the bank crisis of the mid 2000's and the erosion of even common decency on Wall Street.

The opening track from "Wrecking Ball", though, was one that actually sounded hopeful, and it served as another reminder from The Boss that things can -- and often do -- get better.

But it also contains another meaning, depending on your interpretation. It could be a song that looks at the Wall Street fiasco from the top down, reminding those who were affected and lost their life savings that big business folks "take care of their own", or everyone else in a CEO type position, that is.

I like "We Take Care Of Our Own" a lot. It very easily could have appeared on "Born in the USA", which contained a number of songs about standing tall, fighting back and taking care of one another, in addition to taking a shot or two at the collar and tie crowd in Manhattan.

I think it has a place on this holiday CD for a number of reasons, although Springsteen critics will say his political leanings conflict with the song's message.

"We Take Care Of Our Own" is about the American who trusted his employer, his company's CEO, his direct supervisor, even. And was let down.

It's about big business putting themselves first and the employees second, and doing so in a way that crumbled the so-called "American Dream".

"I been knocking on the door that holds the throne

I been looking for the map that leads me home

I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone

The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone

We take care of our own

We take care of our own

Wherever this flag’s flown

We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans

From the muscle to the bone

From the shotgun shack to the Superdome

There ain’t no help, the cavalry stayed home

There ain’t no one hearing the bugle blowin’

We take care of our own

We take care of our own

Wherever this flag’s flown

We take care of our own

Where’re the eyes, the eyes with the will to see

Where’re the hearts that run over with mercy

Where’s the love that has not forsaken me

Where’s the work that’ll set my hands, my soul free

Where’s the spirit that’ll reign over me

Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea

Where’s the promise from sea to shining sea."

Some of Springsteen's best song writer ever appears on "Wrecking Ball". The song below is one of those tunes.


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #10



we're going to london
to watch the ravens!


This might be the only time I ever get the chance to see the Ravens play a football game in London. It might be your only chance, too.

So, let's go.

I've been to England a lot in my life, making several trips over there in the 1980's and 1990's when I was in the soccer business. Truth? It's a great place to visit. I'm not sure I'd want to live there, but it's a pretty cool place to set up camp for a little while.

We know the Ravens are playing the Jaguars next season at Wembley Stadium, either on September 24 or October 1. No matter which date the game falls on, #DMD is going as part of our "Bucket List" trip series, and you can go with us.

We've secured hotel rooms in London for either scenario, game-wise, and have airfare firmed up as well. We'll get game tickets, too, although the Ravens and Jaguars won't know about ticket allocation on their end until the game date is solidified. We'll get game tickets, though, that won't be a problem.

Our plan right now -- no matter which date the game falls on -- is to leave Baltimore on Tuesday night, arriving in London on Wednesday morning. That gives our group most of Wednesday and all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday to do whatever it is you want to do in London. The game, of course, is Sunday afternoon. We'll return to Baltimore on Monday.

The final price isn't finalized yet, but it will be somewhere in the $2,200 per-person range, give or take a hundred bucks either way. We'll firm all of that up once the game ticket pricing is announced.

That $2,200 includes everything; airfare, hotel (shared room), breakfast each morning, and your Ravens-Jaguars ticket at Wembley Stadium.

We are taking a contingent of #DMD corporate partners on the trip, so our "public availability" is somewhat reduced from other trips we organize. We will, however, gladly take anyone who wants to go as long as we have room to do so.

In fairness to all, we've started a list of those who might be interested in traveling with us to London. If you're one of those who is interested, simply send me an e-mail today and I'll get back to you with confirmation that you're on the list and we'll go through deposit details, etc. (my email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com).

Get your passport ready (or updated) and let's head across the pond for Ravens football!

Saturday
December 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 17
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after watching white sox, o's have to consider dealing manny, britton


The Orioles went so long without having any really good players -- almost completely by their own doing -- that it seems entirely counter-productive to consider trading away not only two of their best players, but two of the best in the entire major leagues.

But, that's the scenario facing the Orioles as they try and figure out what to do with Manny Machado and Zach Britton.

And the more you look at the recent haul brought in by the Chicago White Sox in the deals involving Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, the more you have to think that might be the Orioles' best course of action sometime soon.

Tough to swallow, yes, but the best thing for the Orioles might be to deal Machado and Britton.

Is a closer worth $15 million or more a year? If Zach Britton continues to pitch like he did in 2016, he'll be worth more than that when he reaches free agency after the 2018 campaign.

Teams like the Red Sox (Sale) and the Nationals (Eaton) can make those bold steps because of their plush farm system and wise international signings. If you have ten quality minor league prospects and you have to trade two or three away to get a player who can help you right now, like Sale or Eaton will help their new team(s), it's an easy move to make.

If you're like the Orioles, with almost nothing of real quality in the minors, it's hard to play that game at league meetings when game-changing pitchers like Chris Sale are made available.

So, now we're back to the idea of dealing Machado and Britton.

Let's start with the obvious. It's highly unlikely the Orioles are going to be able to pay both of those players when their contracts expire after the 2018 campaign. Machado might command $350 million or more and Britton, now that we're seeing what guys like Chapman and Jansen just picked up as free agents, could be a $125 million closer by the 2019 season.

In the meantime, the O's have other quality players hitting free agency, too, like Chris Tillman and Adam Jones.

There's just not going to be enough money to go around come 2019.

By potentially dealing Machado or Britton (or Jones/Tillman as well), the Birds would accomplish two things; replenish their farm system with quality prospects who might be able to start and produce by 2018 or 2019, or, just as importantly, give themselves a more beefed up minor league system so that the next time someone comes along and offers a "Chris Sale-type" player, the Birds might be able to play at that table.

We all know the dangers of dealing for prospects. They fail just as often as they succeed, it seems. But over the last decade, as advanced data and statistics tell us more and more about a player's strengths and weaknesses, it's becoming easier for front office and scouting execs to pinpoint and predict a prospect's potential for success.

If the Orioles have the money to sign Machado and Britton, the idea of trading them away makes a little less sense, but you're pre-supposing both players WANT to remain in Baltimore when their contracts expire and you're also taking the risk that some other team doesn't come in and blow your offer away in the winter of 2018-2019.

If Dan Duquette could haul in six or seven players for the two of them -- perhaps one or two current major leaguers and a handful of verifiable, "can't miss" prospects -- he'd be foolish at this point to at least not seriously consider that move.

The fan base would struggle with it, for sure, and the team's on-field performance would likely drop off considerably without Machado and Britton, but it's hard to ignore how well the White Sox are stocked for the future now because they were willing to part ways with Sale and Eaton.

Oh, and here's the thing, too. It was a tad easier to make that move in Chicago because the White Sox haven't won jack-squat with those two guys on their roster. If you can go 78-84, 76-86 and 73-89 WITH Sale and Eaton, you can probably go 72-90 WITHOUT them. And, really, what's the difference?

The Orioles have risen from the ashes to be ultra-competitive over the last five years, making three playoff trips along the way. They're much closer to perhaps stumbling into a World Series or two -- with the roster they had in 2016, let's say -- than the White Sox were, that's for certain.

Chicago being a bad team and trading away two of their best players is pretty easy logic to follow and approve.

The Orioles being a good team and trading two of their best players? Not quite as easy to accept.

But it's about money, really. And a lack of talent in the farm system. Right now, the Orioles have two minor league players who might be able to help at some level in 2017, and that's not even a given.

If the Orioles aren't going to be able to fork over $500 million for Machado and Britton in a couple of years, they might as well bite the bullet now and do the best they can to make a couple of blockbuster deals.

That's a tough one to accept, I know, but it's likely the team's best course of action in 2017.

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college hoops: umbc hosts towson tonight in "battle of baltimore"


Philadelphia has "The Big Five", a mythical conference within the City of Brotherly Love that features five schools who play one another every basketball season. Villanova, Penn, St. Josephs, Temple and LaSalle have been playing the annual in-season event since 1955.

While Baltimore doesn't have a structured tournament setting like Philadelphia does, crosstown rivalries certainly exist in Charm City and tonight at UMBC, one of those games takes place when Towson visits the RAC for their annual showdown with the Retrievers.

Tip-off at the RAC is 7 pm tonight. Tickets are available at the door.

UMBC's Jairus Lyles ranks 18th in the country in scoring, averaging 22.3 points per-game through nine contests so far this season.

Towson has won seven of the last nine meetings over UMBC, but the Tigers will be seeing a vasty improved Retrievers squad tonight at the RAC.

UMBC comes into the game at 7-2, having not played since losing 78-75 at Richmond on December 10.

Towson enters this evening's contest at 6-4, and they too haven't played since last Saturday when they edged Fairleigh Dickinson, 90-87 at SECU Arena.

UMBC features one of the top college players in Baltimore (Jairus Lyles) and one of the best 3-point shooters in the country (Joe Sherburne). The Retrievers are 4-0 at home thus far in 2016-2017.

Lyles averages 22.3 points-per-game, the top average in America East, and the 18th best in the entire nation.

Sherburne averages 54% from beyond the arc (9th best in the country) and 14 points per-game for Ryan Odom's team.

For Towson, Mike Morsell leads the way with 18 points per game and is averaging 5.3 free throws made per game. Senior forward William Adala Moto averages 13 points per contest, while senior John Davis adds 11 points per outing and leads the Tigers in rebounds per game (7).

This Monday night, by the way, UMBC welcomes the nation's highest scoring team to town for a 7 pm game. Who is that, you're wondering? Is Kentucky coming in? Kansas? Duke?

No, no, no, it's The Citadel.

Yep, you read that right. The Citadel leads the nation in scoring so far in 2016-2017, averaging 105 points per-game through 11 contests.

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drew's holiday gift -
song #9 on the "bruce cd"


Springsteen's 2007 album, "Magic", still to this day remains one of my favorites from The Boss.

And it didn't really feature a hit of any kind and Bruce can go a dozen or more concerts in succession without playing one song from the album.

But it had a number of memorable tunes including "Your Own Worst Enemy", "Gypsy Biker", "Last to Die" and, my all-time favorite Springsteen song, "I'll Work For Your Love".

It also featured a remarkable song about a guy going back to his hometown and seeing a new place, a different place and, in Bruce's case, a place he wasn't proud to see.

We'll take a different turn today and play the video for the song, but when we publish the Bruce CD you for next week, it will be there in order for you.



"Long Walk Home" takes Springsteen back to somewhere in New Jersey, where he stands on the steps of an ex-girlfriend's house to start the journey and wonders where it all went wrong.

He then moves you through the streets like you were with him.

In town I pass Sal's grocery,

The barber shop on South Street,

I looked in their faces,

They're all rank strangers to me,

Well Veteran's Hall high upon the hill,

Stood silent and alone,

The diner was shuttered and boarded...with a sign that just said "gone"

The way Bruce slips in that line -- "with a sign that just said "gone" -- so matter of factly reminds you that businesses do, more often than not, just show up one day, close shop, and stick a sign on the door that tells everyone they're no longer available. No longer able to pay wages, support families, or keep the community thriving.

As Springsteen walks the streets of the town, he realizes there are more places to see, more people to visit and more memories to rekindle of good days left behind.

And as he often does, Bruce is able to be include his father in the song as the person who first stressed to him how important it was to have "hometown roots".

My father said "Son, we're lucky in this town,

It's a beautiful place to be born,

It just wraps its arms around you,

Nobody crowds you and nobody goes it alone."

No one can take you to the shores of New Jersey and the small town life that Springsteen experienced like The Boss can.

It's a gift only he has.

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we're going to london
to watch the ravens!


This might be the only time I ever get the chance to see the Ravens play a football game in London. It might be your only chance, too.

So, let's go.

I've been to England a lot in my life, making several trips over there in the 1980's and 1990's when I was in the soccer business. Truth? It's a great place to visit. I'm not sure I'd want to live there, but it's a pretty cool place to set up camp for a little while.

We know the Ravens are playing the Jaguars next season at Wembley Stadium, either on September 24 or October 1. No matter which date the game falls on, #DMD is going as part of our "Bucket List" trip series, and you can go with us.

We've secured hotel rooms in London for either scenario, game-wise, and have airfare firmed up as well. We'll get game tickets, too, although the Ravens and Jaguars won't know about ticket allocation on their end until the game date is solidified. We'll get game tickets, though, that won't be a problem.

Our plan right now -- no matter which date the game falls on -- is to leave Baltimore on Tuesday night, arriving in London on Wednesday morning. That gives our group most of Wednesday and all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday to do whatever it is you want to do in London. The game, of course, is Sunday afternoon. We'll return to Baltimore on Monday.

The final price isn't finalized yet, but it will be somewhere in the $2,200 per-person range, give or take a hundred bucks either way. We'll firm all of that up once the game ticket pricing is announced.

That $2,200 includes everything; airfare, hotel (shared room), breakfast each morning, and your Ravens-Jaguars ticket at Wembley Stadium.

We are taking a contingent of #DMD corporate partners on the trip, so our "public availability" is somewhat reduced from other trips we organize. We will, however, gladly take anyone who wants to go as long as we have room to do so.

In fairness to all, we've started a list of those who might be interested in traveling with us to London. If you're one of those who is interested, simply send me an e-mail today and I'll get back to you with confirmation that you're on the list and we'll go through deposit details, etc. (my email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com).

Get your passport ready (or updated) and let's head across the pond for Ravens football!

Friday
December 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXIX
Issue 16
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


would steve smith behave like that for belichick and brady in new england?


I wasn’t there to witness it personally, but yesterday’s mid-practice temper tantrum from Steve Smith Sr. was evidently one for the ages.

After reading various accounts of it from media members who were there to see it first-hand, I sent a text to one of them and asked if it was as outrageous as the social media reports were making it out to be.

”Only thing missing was a pacifier,” was his reply.

It probably didn’t help that Smith half-scolded the media afterwards – you know, the folks who are paid to go into the locker room and be graced with the privilege of talking to people like Steve Smith.

I get the sense from members of the press corps that they're tired of Smith having a go at them every time he takes the podium. Earlier in the year, remember, he replied to a question about his "unretirement" by saying, "I came back to prove all of you jack-asses wrong."

Just remember, Steve: Every time you point the finger at someone, there are four more pointing back at you.

I mean, you can call the media "jack-asses" if you want -- and there ARE some of those kind out there -- but Smith would be well served to remember one of the best lines ever about dealing with the media: "Never fight someone who has a barrel full of ink when you only have a cup full."

Anyway, back to Smith's latest bad-boy routine.

If you missed it, here’s the quick capsule of what happened in practice on Thursday at Owings Mills:

Joe Flacco overthrew Smith on a couple of deep passing routes. The wide receiver removed his helmet, threw it some 15-20 yards in anger, kicked a football wildly that was on the ground, and stormed off to sit in solitude as practice rolled on.

Smith talked afterwards about the incident and rambled on about tensions running high and practices being feisty, a self-defense mechanism that he’s perfected over the years.

He must not understand that perhaps he’s one of the reasons why practices are tension-filled.

Taking off your helmet and throwing it down the field because your quarterback missed you on a couple of routes? That’s what you want everyone else doing on the occasion when a teammate makes a mistake, huh?

Smith, of course, would counter his outburst by offering tasty soundbites that included declarations of his well-known intensity and how all of this is “the way I’ve always been and I ain’t changing for nobody”.

It's here where I should hit the pause button -- PAUSE -- and take a second to remind everyone that I'm perfectly aware of Smith's excellence on the football field. He's had a terrific career -- might even be a Hall of Famer someday -- and continues to excel week-in-and-week-out, even at age 37. It's duly noted that Smith is an excellent player.

But is he getting close to the stage where the aggravation is starting to outweigh the production? You know, the way it did for other divas like Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Randy Moss, three other supremely talented wide receivers who thought the whole team revolved around them.

I also have to wonder, this…

If times were different and Steve Smith Sr. wore a New England Patriots uniform, would he behave as recklessly as he has during his 3-year stint with the Ravens?

Would he change for Bill Belichick?

The ball spinning skit after every catch, the constant shoving and posturing with opposing players after every play, it seems, and the skirmishes he initiates on even the most harmless of tackles and collisions – would Belichick and Tom Brady accept that stuff from Smith?

I’m guessing no, they wouldn’t.

Would Smith – much like Randy Moss did during his brief stint in Foxborough -- change the way he plays to accommodate the more even-keeled structure that Belichick demands?

I think he would.

Smith might deny that now, here, in the present, and stick to that routine of “I am who I am, I ain’t changin’ for nobody”, but I’d bet you a dozen brand new Titleist Pro VI golf balls that #89 would be on his best behavior with the Patriots.

So, what gives here in Baltimore?

Why so mean? Why so angry? Why such disregard for the efforts of others?

I can hear it now: “I just want to win, man. You people in the media have no idea what’s it like out there on the gridiron. It’s a man’s game. I want to win more than anyone else on the other team.”

Right…we know, Steve. No one wants to win more than you, which is why you threw your helmet down the field and huffed-and-puffed your way to the sideline during practice.

Would Steve Smith take a 10-minute break from practice if he played in New England?

Would he show up Tom Brady like that if Brady had the audacity to overthrow him on a couple of passes in a mid-week practice session?

I doubt it.

Now, some might say that’s a sign that John Harbaugh doesn’t run a tight enough ship in Baltimore.

Maybe. But we don't hear other stories about players getting pissed off and throwing tantrums and sitting out for a few minutes so they can cool their jets.

There are whispers -- and they've been out there a while -- that Flacco and Smith don't have a particularly friendly relationship. That could be part of the problem, too.

Or it could be that Smith simply thinks he’s bigger than the system in Baltimore, whereas in New England, he’d be a piano mover instead of a player player.

That's the scenario I'd say exists.

Whatever the case, the reality is Smith is in Baltimore, not New England, and puffing and pouting like a 12-year old who doesn’t get to take part in the neighborhood sleep-over is a tired routine.

No wonder Carolina kicked the guy to the curb.

It just takes too much energy to keep up with his mood swings.

One thing I’d bet on though: He’d be on the straight and narrow in New England.

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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.


castillo gives o's an upgrade at catcher


The Orioles finally began making moves to shape the remaining edges of their roster for the 2017 season, coming to an agreement with former Diamondbacks and Cubs catcher Welington Castillo on Wednesday.

The deal is being reported widely as a one year pact, but since the second year option is solely Castillo's, it's really a 2 year deal with an opt out clause. But since the $13 million price tag is both fairly low for the open market and just about evenly divided (the 2017 option is worth $7 million), that's not really a big deal for the club.

In a not terribly surprising development, the move is being panned by the "spend all the money!!!" segment of fans and local media personalities. However, in this case, any such critcism mostly misses the mark.

Let's start with the most salient fact: Castillo is an upgrade over Matt Wieters as a regular catcher, if only a slight one, with Wieters mostly being a beneficiary of hometown bias in assessments of his recent value.

Actually, their numbers are remarkably similar. Castillo has hit .255/.318/.416 (91 wRC+) in his career, to Wieters' (.256/.318/.421, (97 wRC+).

However, since 2012 Wieters has two seasons in which his wRC+ dipped below 90, which Castillo's never has, and because of his elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery he hasn't had a wRC+ of 100 (or league average) AND played in at least 100 games since the 2012 season.

Both players are well regarded as defenders, though Wieters definitely moreso, and the big knock on Castillo as far as scouts and analytics go is his poor pitch framing skills.

I also suppose you could knock Castillo for being non-tendered by Arizona, chalking him up as someone else's reject, as I have seen at least a few fans do. But remember; Mark Trumbo ended up on the Orioles because Seattle wanted nothing to do with him either, and he almost certainly would have been non-tendered if the Orioles hadn't offered up Steve Clevenger to keep him off the open market.

The real wild card here is Chance Sisco, the team's top prospect. Everyone is raving about his bat these days, while still having some reservations about his defense.

Personally I'm not someone who believes catchers can really improve their catching once you're as far along as Sisco and, thus, I'm skeptical that he's really the long term answer behind the plate. But if you are bullish on the kid, then the terms of Castillo's contract make him a useful placeholder in the interim.

So really, there's a lot of angles to like this deal from, and very few reasons to hate it. The Orioles have landed arguably the second-best available catcher this winter, and worst-case scenario, you've got a guy who is very similar to Wieters in production at 30-50% of the cost.

This is a shrewd move that frees up some additional cash without hurting the roster on paper, and it's hard to argue with that element of Castillo's signing.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

A run of three games over a seven-day period will come to an end when Matchday 17 of the English Premier League kicks off Saturday morning, with a much needed rest coming ahead of another three-game stretch that begins the day after Christmas and runs us right through the New Year. It’s the busy season, it’s in full swing and, as usual, you can catch all of the action live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra!

Saturday, December 17 (all times eastern)

10:00 am – Leicester City @ Stoke City – bet365 Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After securing their place in the Champions League knockout stages, Leicester City rediscovered their title winning form last weekend when they steam rolled Manchester City but, as so often has been the case domestically this season, it once again went missing shortly thereafter when they failed to get past Bournemouth 1-0 to remain firmly planted in the bottom half of the table. They will make the trip to the bet365 Stadium to face a Stoke City side that survived Southampton a man down for over three quarters of the game to earn a hard-fought point in a feisty 0-0 draw with the Saints.

Given the circumstances Stoke City will be happy with the point and after a slow start to the campaign, which saw the Potters drop four of their first five games (D1) and fail to grab their first three points until the middle of October, they have lost only once in their last four games to take up their customary position in the middle of the table, four points clear of the Foxes who have lost only one of their last four top flight meetings with the Potters (D1) but who have not won in their last eleven trips away from King Power Stadium, including seven of their eight games on the road this season (D1).

Sunday, December 18

11:00 am – Arsenal @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola (left) and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (right) both have the same goal this Sunday -- earn three points for a win and keep on pace with red-hot Chelsea.

A fourteen-game unbeaten run came to a thuderning halt in the mid-week when Ashley Williams 85th minute header revitalized Everton and sent Arsenal to their first defeat in the league since the opening weekend of the season, allowing league leaders Chelsea to widen their gap at the top of the table while Manchester City were able to close within a point of the Gunners ahead of their meeting at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday when they halted a two game losing streak and dealt Watford their third loss in the last four in a somewhat surprising and comfortable 2-0 victory of the Hornets.

Before Manchester City became the financial juggernaut that we all know today, Arsenal enjoyed a twelve-game winning run against their now yearly title foes but the two have broken almost even since, though City have not beaten Arsenal in their last six meetings across all competitions (D3 L3). With Chelsea taking full advantage of the Gunners stumble, as they were able to breakdown Sunderland despite the Black Cats fielding six defenders in their starting eleven to open a six-point advantage at the top of the table, both sides will be wary of dropping points and falling further off the pace.

Monday, December 19

3:00 pm – Liverpool @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

The victory over Arsenal halted for the time being a September swoon that had extended into the Holiday season, with only their second win in their last ten league games offering a glimmer of hope that the Toffees form is starting to turn as they get ready to welcome Liverpool, who had similarly been scuffling albeit for only recently as they searched for their rhythm without Phillipe Coutinho pulling the strings in the midfield but turned in their most complete team performance of the season cruising to a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough, to Goodison Park for the 227th edition of the Merseyside Derby.

The victory moved the Reds back into second place where, along with the rest of the league, they continue to chase the red-hot Chelsea but they are sure to like their chances to keep pace or even close the gap on the Blues against their neighbors, who have managed to share the points in three of their last four and six of their last eight league meetings with their cross-town rivals (L2) but, in a run that dates back over ten years, have won only one of the last nineteen showdowns in the league (D9 L9) and are winless the last six times they have welcomed the Reds across Merseyside to Goodison Park (D4 L2).

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drew's holiday gift -
song #8 on the "bruce cd"


Now we're really getting to the good stuff!

The other seven songs on my Springsteen Holiday CD have been great tunes, mind you, or they wouldn't have made the final cut. But today's song is such a magnetic piece of song-writing with haunting instrumental elements that it's simply a "must have" on any compilation of outstanding Bruce songs.

And it comes from Bruce's "Tunnel of Love" album, which, as I mentioned earlier in the week when I included "Walk Like A Man", features Springsteen at his best, voice- and sound-wise.

Tunnel of Love was not a happy album. Not at all. It was written mostly about Bruce's divorce from his first wife, but the songs can be connected to a myriad of life's other battles – "dirty wars" as Bruce calls them in the song below.

Because his song writing almost always coincided with that moment in his life in which he took pen to paper, 1988 was when Bruce wrote mostly about love and loss, and the effort to stay on track in spite of troubling times.

The song below -- "One Step Up" is about Bruce's sadness that for every step forward, he seemingly took two steps back.

Woke up this morning the house was cold,
Checked the furnace she wasn't burnin',
Went out and hoped in my old Ford,
Hit the engine but she ain't turnin',
We've given each other some hard lessons lately,
But we ain't learnin',
We're the same sad story that's a fact,
One step up and two steps back . . . .

I love how Bruce paints the picture of an early morning somewhere, waking up to a cold home, trying to get it warmed up, "(but) the furnace she wasn't burnin'."

You could easily connect that opening line with Bruce's relationship with his (ex-)wife, only SHE'S the furnace Bruce is referring to when he says -- "Woke up this morning the house was cold, checked the furnace she wasn't burnin'."

Springsteen's admission later on in the song that he's still struggling to impress himself, even, is something many people have felt at some point in their lives.

When I look at myself I don't see,
The man I wanted to be.
Somewhere along the line I slipped off track,
One step up and two steps back . . . .

This is one of Bruce's best song writing efforts ever. It fits perfectly behind "The Rising" (song #7) on my Holiday CD to serve as a reminder that for every "rising", or step forward, there's also a backwards step or two waiting to happen for those who are struggling in some area of their lives.


Bruce Springsteen Holiday CD, Song #8


thank you - again - for your winter apparel donations!


We had another banner day on Thursday as our Winter Apparel Drive, presented by Jerry's Toyota, rolled on with our second of three collection dates.

Glenn Clark and I were at Jerry's Toyota (8001 Belair Road) on Thursday, and we finished the afternoon with 16 bags of clothing that will all go to the men at Helping Up Mission next Tuesday, December 20.

#DMD reader Dan Mathis got us started on Thursday when he brought along roughly 100 items of clothing and plopped it on donation table at Jerry's Toyota on Thursday. It was a great way to start the day!!

I'm pleased to report we're now over 2,000 items of clothing and apparel, with one final collection night still ahead; Monday, December 19, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, where we will be joined by local musician Zack Merrick of the band "All Time Low".

Merrick, it should be pointed out, is flying back from his home in Hawaii to join us, the third year in a row he's helped with this effort, and the third year in a row he pays his own way to come back and be part of our Helping Up Mission project.

Thanks to our friends at Jerry's Toyota for hosting us on Thursday! We cluttered up their beautiful showroom for a while as the bags and boxes piled up, but they didn't mind at all. Our friends at Hughes Mechanical (Brad Foxwell) and Enoch Office Equipment (Rick Donovan) are always gracious with their manpower and vehicles to get the clothing from the drop-off sites to Helping Up Mission's downtown location. We appreciate them, too.

A special thank you to everyone who dropped off clothing on Tuesday of this week at Glory Days Grill and then again yesterday at Jerry's Toyota. And thanks again to the Baltimore Blast for their donation of game tickets to those who donate ten or more items.

We hope to see you on Monday night at Chick fil-A Nottingham Square from 6 pm to 8 pm!



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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

Verlander sparkles as Astros force ALCS Game 7 with 7-1 win over Yankees on Friday night.

NFL: Marshawn Lynch suspended one game for making contact with official on Thursday night.

Ravens: Perriman (concussion) will not play on Sunday in Minnesota; Vikings WR Stefon Diggs also OUT.

MIAA Boys' Soccer: McDonogh beats Mount Saint Joe, 2-1, to stay in 1st place with one game remaining.