Sunday
January 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 15
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give angelos credit, he's spent some big bucks over the last five years


And to think that just five years ago, the Orioles signed Adam Jones to an $85 million contract that, at the time, was the most money the franchise had ever obligated itself to for one baseball player.

Times they are a changin'.

The Orioles handed out mega-million deals like they were scratch-off lottery tickets on Friday, agreeing to one-year contracts (to avoid arbitration) with the likes of Manny Machado ($11.5 million), Zach Britton ($11.4 million) and Chris Tillman ($10 million).

They somehow got away with chump-changing Jonathan Schoop ($3.4 million) on Friday, but his pay day will come soon enough.

For the other three, though, Friday's haul was just a precursor for the near future. Machado will likely command a yearly salary of $35 million when he's a free agent in 2018, Britton should be a $15 million a year closer by then, and Tillman -- with another solid season in 2017 -- could be a $20 million a year starting pitcher when he's available next winter.

In advance of becoming a free agent next winter, the Orioles upped Chris Tillman's salary from $6 million to $10 million in 2017.

I don't know that the Orioles and Peter Angelos will be able to afford those three. There's even an argument as to whether he SHOULD keep them given their respective potential contract demands.

But here's what we do know: Since signing Jones to that $85 million deal in 2012, Peter Angelos hasn't been afraid to spend money on players.

Some would argue -- given the revenue he's raked in from his MASN Network and the money pouring into the Orioles from Major League Baseball's overflowing vault -- that Angelos hasn't spent enough, and it's fair to point out a number of high quality free agents haven't been pursued by the Orioles in the last four years or so.

But Angelos has, without question, spent more money on players since 2012 than he ever spent previously.

Sure, the Chris Davis contract was a whopper of a loser in year one, but Davis has six more seasons to turn that around. And while the Yovani Gallardo deal also turned out to be a flop, the O's only wound paying him $11.5 million before pawning his sorry right arm to the Mariners two weeks ago.

If you play at the big boy table, you're going to lose a few hands you don't want to lose. I said that for a long time when folks used to whine about the Orioles "not being able to risk a bad signing". If you're not willing to make a bad signing or two, you're probably never going to make any really good ones, either.

Angelos and the Orioles are in for a real test at the end of the 2018 season when Machado is a free agent. I'll say this today, January 15, 2017, and you can cut this out and put it on your refrigerator door for safe keeping.

I will never, EVER, begrudge the Orioles for not signing Machado to a $300 million contract in 2018. If he's going to command $35 million per-year deal in 2018, I'd tell the Orioles to walk away from the table and let someone else have him.

I'm sorry, I don't care who it is, he's not worth $35 million a year for eight, nine or ten years.

I feel pretty much the same way about Britton, too. He had a whale of a year in 2016, granted, but $11 million for a closer is about the most I'll go. And Britton, I'm guessing, will likely command an $80 or $90 million contract in 2018 when he's a free agent.

Those numbers better come back to earth for Machado and Britton or they're going to be ex-Orioles, I believe.

In the meantime, though, Angelos continues to open up his wallet, which is a lot more than we can say he did circa 2010 when the Orioles weren't signing anyone who was any good.

And yes, they still have some holes to fill in 2017, but no matter what they do at this point, they'll start the season with seven players making $10 million or more (Jones, Machado, Davis, Britton, Tillman, Jimenez, Hardy) and the combined salaries of those seven -- roughly $96 million -- is a tad MORE than the salaries of their entire 25-man opening day roster in 2013.

If that's not "spending money", I don't know what is: In 2013, the opening day roster was $90 million. This season, they're heading into opening day spending $96 million on just seven players.

And, with the exception of Jimenez and possibly Davis, none of those contracts are "bad", either. Jimenez should have a "." in his salary -- instead of $12 million it should be $1.2 million -- and Davis is vastly overpaid given his on-again-off-again-off-again production level, but other than that, everyone else has lived up to their end of the bargain.

Hardy's best days are behind him, yes, but he's been a fair value at $12 million a season, if you ask me.

They still have some imminent pressing issues to deal with this year, like what to do with Chris Tillman, for example. Depending on how the Birds fare in the first-half of the season, Tillman could be a trade commodity at the deadline unless the Orioles can sign him to a new deal before then, and that seems unlikely given his pending free agent status.

Adam Jones will join Machado and Britton as free agents after the 2018 season. While he'll be in the September of his career (33 years old) at that point, Jones will still command one final Brinks Truck pay day of some sort, whether that's from the Orioles or someone else.

And, honestly, if any player in the last 25 years has deserved to play out his career as an Oriole, it's Jones. He's been a terrific player and an excellent ambassador for the club and the city since showing up here in 2008.

The other pressing matter involves Trumbo and with no apparent takers at his asking price, a situation Davis encountered last off-season, Trumbo might be force to play for peanuts in 2017. That means the Orioles could wind up luring him back to Baltimore for a "discounted price".

I'm not expecting a return to the playoffs in 2017 if the Orioles don't re-sign Mark Trumbo, but I'm more than satisfied with what they've done over the last five years. And I see them spending money to retain their own quality guys, which is just as important as going out and signing someone else's expensive cast-off.

I'd like to see them bring Trumbo back just for consistency if nothing else, but I think the Trumbo of the second half of 2016 is more likely the guy you'd see in Baltimore in 2017 if, in fact, he returns between now and spring training.

My hunch is Dan Duquette agrees with me, which is why the Orioles didn't cough up $85 million for him back in November when his camp first tried to get the O's to bite on a new contract.

Trumbo's a good hitter, nothing more. But the Orioles are better with him on their team in 2017 than they will be if he's not on their team.

There's one final issue about the Orioles that's also going to need to be addressed at some point in the future -- ownership of the team.

Peter Angelos will turn 87 this July. Reports have been circulating for the better part of a year or more that his health is declining. Those close to the situation have suggested that while sons John and Louis have enjoyed their expanded roles within the organization, neither would be interested in owning the team "full time" someday in the future.

Angelos, of course, is the majority owner of both the Orioles and MASN. As we all now know, a baseball team and TV network go hand-in-hand like Will and Grace did on their hit TV show in the late 1990's. The two are dependent on one another.

The cost of acquiring the two together -- the Orioles and MASN, not Will and Grace -- would likely be in the one billion dollar range. Baltimore doesn't have that kind of money. Someone out there does, but he likely doesn't reside in the state of Maryland.

And, no, it's not going to be Kevin Plank stepping up to the plate to pony up $1 billion for the Orioles. He has enough on his plate with an Under Armour brand that is still trying to gain a foothold in the sports apparel industry.

In the near future, though, the Orioles are going to be faced with a potentially serious situation involving ownership of the franchise.

Right around the corner, they're faced with delicate issues regarding star players, their value, and an incredibly mind-blowing amount of money they'll have to pay those guys.

If Peter Angelos thinks he's opened up his wallet a lot in the last five years, wait until he sees what's in store between now and 2019.

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show me the money, sunday, january 15


Another 2-0 Saturday, just like last weekend, has me poised to put together a really nice weekend if the Packers (+5.0) and Steelers (+1.0) can both cover in today's playoff games.

It's a tad concerning, I suppose, that home teams are 6-0 and have covered in every playoff game to date in 2017.

But I'm sticking with the Packers (although I think Dallas is winning) and Steelers today.

Saturday night's game was a gambler's nightmare IF you took the Texans and that whopping 17-points they were getting as late as 5:00 pm on Saturday.

Houston lost, 34-16. That's 18 points for those of you who went to Old Mill.

That means, if you took Houston, you lost the bet by one stinkin' point.

I was on the good end of that disaster, as I took the Patriots (-16.0 when I posted #DMD) on Sunday night.

I'm now 55-51-2 on the season, in case anyone is counting. The only thing I'm counting are the dollar bills from yesterday's perfect day...


the psychology of favorites

This piece is for those who suffered through honorable, decent, healthy, and stimulating childhoods, and who therefore don’t know jack-squat about betting on sports. I discern from Comments over the years that there are more than a few #DMD readers who are well-versed in this venerable science of wagering. This article is not for you – it will teach you nothing you don’t already know well. It is for those dilettantes like the proprietor of this site who, with no credentials other than the general managership of a major-league soccer team and a few thousand interviews of athletes and sports executives under his belt, on reaching the .500 mark on wagers won on NFL teams, crowed about achieving “elite” status in the gambling world. – Lord have mercy . . . ! – For fools such as this, sports books send limousines.

As in any discussion of underworld matters, we begin as Aristotle taught us, by defining our terms. We must have a common language if there is to be common understanding.

DEFINITIONS

1. Favorite – In any given game, the team on which, in the absence of a point spread, the wagering universe will bet more money.

END OF DEFINITIONS

That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

But know it well. If you believe the favorite is the stronger team, the team that has momentum, the team with an advantage because it is playing at home, the team playing a team whose quarterback just found out his girlfriend is pregnant, the team that plays better in cold and snow, the team that always beats the other team, the team playing the team that crooks have bribed to shave points, or any other reason, then you’re an idiot whose mind ain’t right. Go back and read the Definitions. Then read them again. Memorize them. Write them on the back of your hand.

Even if, after learning what “favorite” means, you do not accept the definition, then you are ready for the next step of your education. Which is this: Nobody in all the world cares that you do not accept the definition. Your opinion is as irrelevant as . . . . well, something equally irrelevant. As my sainted grandmother was fond of saying, “You can put kittens in the oven but that doesn’t make them biscuits.”

Students at the Harvard School of Business grapple with the advanced concepts of Bookmaking 404.

We resume. I’ve known a few bookmakers in my time. They are just like other people, except that the business in which they are engaged is against the law. As this great country of ours was founded by men whose businesses were illegal, bookmakers carry on the great American tradition. They must be discrete, versed in psychology, good communicators, know how to win friends and influence people, and understand the arts of gentle and sometimes forcible persuasion. Above all, they must be good mathematicians.

Let’s do a case study of the wagering on a particular game to understand why math is so important to a bookmaker. Let’s analyze the 1969 Super Bowl that pitted the mighty Baltimore Colts against the upstart New York Jets. If the game had had no point spread, almost all the money would have been wagered on the Colts, therefore making the Colts the “favorite” [see Definition 1]. Thus, had the Colts won, the bookmakers would have taken a bath. Had the Jets won, the bookmakers would have won a ton of money.

But bookmakers have no desire to be gamblers, even considering that after the 1969 game, they would all have been flush. They prefer to make a profit — on every game, every day, every week — all through the year. They are businessman.

To accomplish their goal, they employ the point spread. Now, the average know-nothing, happy-go-lucky schmo on the street believes with all his heart that the point spread on a game represents a sports-centric, scientific expression of an analysis of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two teams.

This makes bookmakers laugh.

The sole purpose of a point spread is to come as close as possible to insuring that exactly half of the money wagered on the game is bet on one team, and the other half of the money wagered on the other. For the bookmakers, it is not knowledge of sports that gains them profit, but knowledge of the beliefs, prejudices, tendencies, and habits of their fellow men.

Back to the ‘69 Super Bowl. With no spread, almost all the money is wagered on the Colts. Maybe Namath’s mother and some New York drunks would bet the Jets at even money, but no rational people would. If the Colts are required to overcome a point, then still, 99% of the money will be on them. With spreads of three points, five points, seven, and 10, the bookmakers can whittle the ratio down to approximately 60% of the money on the Colts and 40% on the Jets. But that, for them, is still gambling.

So they keep adding points until that magic point of equilibrium is reached, and it is reached at the staggering number of 18½ points. But so what? It serves precisely its intended purpose. At this number, half the wagering universe, which included all those who wagered on the game, had been induced to bet on the Colts, and the remaining half on the Jets.

Lower thine eyes,
Presume not God to scan.
The proper study of mankind
Is Man.
~Alexander Pope. An Essay on Man: Epistle II

Forget who won the game. The bookmakers don’t care. Whichever team wins the game, the bookmakers will make their profit.

A early and strong supporter of equal rights, Maxie did not discriminate against bettors based on gender or age.

Take the case of our dear but, sadly, deceased friend, Maxie the Taxi, to all appearances a hard-working cab driver, but in fact one whose vehicle was more of a rolling sports book than a metropolitan transportation device. On that disastrous January 12, 1969, Maxie had booked (if he were being truthful, which was always iffy) wagers of $14,000 on the Colts and $14,000 on the Jets. After the Jets had done the impossible, he collected $15,400 from the Colts backers ($14,000 in bets and the 10% vig) and paid off the $14,000 to the winners, leaving a profit of $1,400 (not counting the, say, $65 and tips he made driving his cab that day). Had the Colts won, Maxie would have collected from the Jets fans and paid off the Colts backers. And still walked away with his profit.

And I can tell you this – Maxie knew where Memorial Stadium was, and the best routes to get there at any time of day or night, and that was the sum total and extent of his knowledge of the game of football. He left sports betting to the experts.

This contribution was provided to #DMD by our friend George McDowell, who once teamed up with Drew to win a $5 nassau at Mount Pleasant from two pigeons who showed up, shiny new clubs in tow, and asked the starter if they could get a game. When the visitors trailed 4-down through 12 holes, McDowell quipped, "It's about time for one of them to get a stomach ache. A smart gambler always knows when they're close to the parking lot."

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dale williams aims
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 shock favored illinois, 62-56

In a game that may have set college basketball back 50 years (or more), the University of Maryland defeated Illinois 62-56 on Saturday evening behind a career high 19 point from Terp guard Anthony Cowan.

The Terps also received an outstanding lift from Jaylen Brantley, who scored 12 points in the second half while leading his team back from an early second half deficit of eight points. Outside of that, there wasn’t much to like in this game.

The Fighting Illini seemed poised to turn the tables on Maryland when Jalen Coleman-Lands nailed a three at the 18:03 mark of the second half that gave them an 8-point lead, 37-29.

It was far from pretty, but Maryland scored a road win at Illinois on Saturday, getting 19 points from freshman Anthony Cowan, as the Terps improved to 4-1 in Big 10 play.

Over the next twelve-plus minutes Illinois would make only one field goal while Maryland’s Brantley alone made 5 buckets for his team. By the time Maverick Morgan broke the field goal drought, the Terps had a their own 8-point lead and the game was essentially over.

The low halftime score of 32-27 adequately depicted the slow pace of the game and the poor Maryland shooting that occurred as a result of the Terps horrible shot selection.

Maryland emerged victorious despite hitting only 10 of 20 foul shots, shooting 27% from the three point line, and connecting on only 42% of their shots from the field.

Coleman-Lands of Illinois hit only 2 of 10 three point shots, but he was outdone by Melo Trimble, who hit just 2 of 11.

For the game there were 31 missed three point shots against 13 successful tries. It was bad basketball, friends.

In the first half, Maryland took 14 two-point shots and 13 three-pointers. They fell into their early season habit of settling for three's far too early in the offensive set and their offense sputtered.

In the second half, The Terps were able to erase the 8-point deficit by hitting three triples within a three minute span.

The offense was still much too dependent upon the long ball, but at least they were going in. Outside of that, Brantley and Cowan each made a handful of lay-ups in the second half, but no other Maryland player made more than one shot from the field.

If you are looking for bright spots, the first one would be that the Terps got a Big 10 road win without much of an offensive contribution from Melo Trimble (12 points, 5-16 from the field). Trimble did pick up 3 steals on the defensive end.

Cowan is emerging as a real threat going to the basket and he led all scorers with 19 points.

Brantley played with a ton of confidence in scoring his 12 second half points.

In both of the games between these two teams, there were moments where I was left being skeptical of the Illini effort level. During the almost eight minute scoring slump where Maryland grabbed the lead, Illinois was the team content with taking horrible shots and rushed three's while making no attempt to take the ball to the hoop or fight for an offensive rebound.

With his team now 2-3 in conference and two tough road games (Purdue and Michigan) on the horizon, head coach John Groce faces a very pivotal point in his tenure at Illinois. He has a contract that runs through the 2018-2019 season, but he must be feeling some heat.

His program has missed the NCAA Tournament three years in a row and should they miss again this year it will be the longest the Illini have gone without getting a bid in over 40 years.

The powers that be in Champaign will not look kindly at this recent skid, and lackluster efforts like last night's could seal his fate.

Next up for the Terps is another road test, this time in Iowa City on Thursday night, for a 7 PM battle with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

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we need eight more teams to fill our charity duckpin bowling event!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 14th, six teams have registered, leaving us with 8 spots to fill.


Saturday
January 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 14
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this, that and the other


There's a lot of golf to play in 2017, but it's pretty clear, at least early on, that 23 year old Justin Thomas has "found it".

Thomas followed up his round of 59 on Thursday with a 64 on Friday, becoming the first player in PGA Tour history to back up a round 59 with a sub-65 round in his next time out.

Anyone who has ever had "one of those rounds" knows what's coming immediately thereafter -- a stinker. Heck, I did it in the same day once, shooting 66-76 in the U.S. Amateur qualifier at Bonnie View. Same course, same pins, same day...yet ten shots different just four hours later.

It's like a pitcher who throws a perfect game. Next time he's on the mound, two guys will get on base in the very first inning.

Justin Thomas is two solid rounds of golf away from going back-to-back on the PGA Tour, something that hasn't been done since last March when Adam Scott won in successive weeks.

So, going 59-64 is quite the feat in professional golf. It's never happened before, in fact. That's how hard it is to do.

Look, I get it, it's Hawaii, and Waialae Country Club isn't exactly Oakmont Country Club or anything like that, but 17-under par in two rounds of golf is remarkable, whether you playing at Clifton Park or a 7,000 yard layout on the PGA Tour.

Thomas, as we're starting to find out now, is a winner. And I mean, "a winner" in the way we look at Brady, Rodgers and Roethlisberger as "winners". They are guys who just have it in their DNA to figure out a way to win far more than the average player at their position.

His victory last week was his third on TOUR in two full seasons, but Thomas also won six times in college, too, when he starred at Alabama a few years back. It took him a while to get it revved up on TOUR, but it sure looks like we've found golf's latest rival for Jordan Spieth, who just also happens to be his best friend.

Winning a couple of early season events in Hawaii is nice for the wallet and the sponsors love it, but if you want to show you've really arrived, you do what Spieth did in 2015 -- you win major championships. Thomas will find Augusta National to his liking when he tees it up there in April. His length off the tee will give him a huge advantage and then it just becomes a putting game, but that's a task that many have attempted but few have mastered -- pun intended.

Thomas made the cut in all four majors a year ago, but didn't play particularly well in any of them, finishing T39 (Masters), T32 (U.S. Open), T53 (British Open), T66 (PGA Championship). He did contend at The Players (golf's supposed "5th major) before finishing T3 at TPC Sawgrass last May.

Expect the 2017 "major season" to be a bit different for Thomas now that he's nudging his way up the the PGA Tour ladder of elite young players.

He's not a fluke, I'm telling you. He might not be the next Tiger Woods, but no one, including Spieth, McIlroy, et al will rival Tiger's 79 career wins and 14 major titles (to date). Thomas could be, though, the player who breaks out in a big way in 2017 with a half dozen wins including his first major title at Augusta or elsewhere.

UMBC men's basketball stepped up in class last night and acquitted themselves well with a second-half comeback, but it wasn't enough as the Retrievers fell to 3-1 in America East play with an 81-72 loss at first place Vermont.

The Retrievers trailed by eight at the half and faced a 12-point second half deficit before mounting a charge that would see them pull to within two points at 72-70 with three minutes left in the game.

But that was as close as they would get, as several turnovers down the stretch hurt the visitors and Vermont iced the game with flawless work at the foul line to sew up the 9-point win.

Junior guard Jairus Lyles scored 23 points to lead the Retrievers while Will Darley (Dulaney H.S.) added 22. Darley also had 29 points in Wednesday's win at Hartford.

The Retrievers host Albany this Monday at 1 pm at the Retriever Athletic Center.

The red-hot Washington Capitals are now trending in the direction of white-hot after posting a 6-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks last night at the Verizon Center.

Chicago came into the game winners of four straight, but a 3-0 Caps run in the first period put that streak to bed right away.

Jay Beagle scored twice for Washington, who have now moved comfortably into 2nd place in the Metroplitan Division, four points ahead of 3rd place Pittsburgh and just one point behind division leading Columbus.

The Capitals (along with Columbus and Minnesota) are just one of three NFL teams with single-digit regulation losses in 2016-2017.

And guess who is coming to town next to get their hind-quarters kicked on Sunday at 1 pm? Yes, that's right. The Philadelphia Flyers.

I'm hoping for something like a 16-1 final on Sunday. Let's go Caps!

Like everyone else in town who has covered the Ravens, I was saddened yesterday to learn that former team President David Modell had passed away after a two year fight with lung cancer.

Modell was 56 years old.

I can't confess to having much of a "formal" relationship with Modell, so I most certainly won't write much of anything here today that you haven't already read elsewhere over the last 24 hours.

He was instrumental in the start-up of the Ravens in 1995, working tirelessly with his father, Arthur B. Modell, to re-connect the Colts history with the new era that the Ravens ushered in when the team moved from Cleveland to Charm City.

One of the few conversations I had with Modell took place circa 2003 or so when I saw him in the lobby of the team's old practice facility in Owings Mills. We somehow got into a discussion about indoor soccer and I harkened back to the days of the bitter rivalry between the Blast and Cleveland Force and Modell rattled off names like Keith Furphy, Craig Allen, Kai Haaskivi and Louis Nanchoff, all of whom were prominent players with the Force back in the 1980's.

"Those guys were on the verge of becoming bigger names in Cleveland than Bernie Kosar," Modell said to me. "We were jealous of them at the time."

That he took six minutes out of his day to stand there in the lobby and talk about indoor soccer with me was just the kind of guy David Modell was, in hindsight. He was a man "for the people", who wanted everyone to enjoy the Ravens, enjoy their success and, most of all, enjoy the friendship that football created amongst folks in Baltimore.

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show me the money, playoff style


I'm still above .500 and trending in the right direction as the NFL playoffs reach their second weekend.

After a 2-2 record last weekend, I'm now 53-51-2 for the season, having picked six games in each of the 17 regular season weeks and then all four playoff games last weekend.

As someone pointed out to me on Twitter last week, I'm now 19-8-1 in my last five weeks. I'm wondering how much more winning I have to do before I snuggle up to the "elite" category?

Anyway, here we go with this weekend's picks. I'm listing the betting totals just for kicks, in case you're one of those guys who loves to live-and-die with the parlay, but from a "record-keeping" standpoint, the only thing I'm counting is my selection against the spread.

SEAHAWKS AT FALCONS (-4.5) -- I've been saying all along I don't see Seattle being nearly as strong as they've been in previous years, and with Atlanta having a week off and all, I think the task is too tough for visiting Seattle this afternoon. Expect Atlanta to produce a nice mix of the run and pass, and while they might not reach their regular season average of 33.5 points today, they'll do more than enough to earn the win. The over/under in this one is 52 points. Don't bite that hook. The Falcons win this one with room to spare, 31-20, but you'll come up one point shy if you take the over.

Step one to adding a ring to his already overloaded hands comes today for Tom Brady and the Patriots when they face Houston in Foxborough.

TEXANS AT PATRIOTS (-16.0) -- Holy cow. Sixteen points? That's the second biggest post-season spread ever, and obviously very much justified, as there's just no way Houston hangs around in this game, right? Then again, that's what they said about the New York Jets in Super Bowl III. New England's winning by whatever score they really want to win by, but the question today, simply, is "Can Houston score any points"? If the Texans can somehow score 17 points, they might have a chance to cover in this one. I just don't see that happening, though. New England wins this one easily, 35-13, as they cover and the "over" hits on the total of 44.5 points.

PACKERS AT COWBOYS (-5.0) -- This is now the early game on Sunday since Pittsburgh-K.C. has been moved to an 8:20 pm start. Everyone is touting Green Bay's chances, and with good reason. Dallas has very little pedigree for a game of this magnitude, while post-season games (home or away) are old hat for Aaron Rodgers and Company. I'm going to do what virtually everyone else in the country is doing and that's "take the Packers and the points". But I'm picking the Cowboys to win here, 30-28, in a barnburner that gets decided in the game's final minute. The over/under in this one is 52, by the way.

STEELERS AT CHIEFS (-1.0) -- I don't know if moving the game from 1:05 pm to 8:20 pm affects either team in a good or bad way, so I'm not going to try and dissect what the game time change means. I know Andy Reid is 18-2 coming off a bye week and I've seen Ben Roethlisberger's playoff numbers on the road and, well, they're not all that great. Everything about this game tells me to take Kansas City. Everything. But I have a weird feeling Pittsburgh is going to run the ball effectively, shorten the game a bit, and Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will make a late play that gives Pittsburgh a 17-13 win. The total in this one is 44.5. Take the "under" for sure.

So, there you have it. I like the Falcons, Patriots, Packers and Steelers to cover, and Atlanta, New England, Dallas and Pittsburgh to win.

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dale williams aims
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.


maryland faces big ten road test tonight in champaign


It was only 18 days ago when the Maryland Terrapins dismantled the Fighting Illini of Illinois.

The 84-59 beat down was every bit as bad as the score indicates.

The game was over early and, quite frankly, I saw some “quit” in the Illinois team. To me, it was a shocking result, but one that can happen with young kids playing on the road against a talented and motivated conference foe playing their first Big 10 game of the year.

Prior to the Terp game, while watching tape of Illinois, I was somewhat impressed with what I saw. They aren’t a top tier team, but they do have some talent.

I saw enough in them to predict that they could upset Maryland in that opener. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong, but I still believe in what I saw. Hopefully I’m not just being stubborn, but I’m not backing away from my earlier opinion. Here's why:

Since losing to the Terps, Illinois has beaten a fairly weak Ohio State team, lost to Indiana, and handled the same Michigan team that took Maryland down to the final minute. The Michigan win was at home, but it was an impressive double digit victory (85-69) nonetheless.

Here are some things that happened in the first game that won’t happen this time.

Number one, they will not quit. Illinois will have a home crowd behind them for this 6 PM contest and I would anticipate an energized arena for the game.

Additionally, Illinois guard Tracey Abrams will not shoot 1-10 from the field and miss six shots from the three point line without making even one.

Leron Black will score more than the five points that he totaled in the first game and Jalen-Coleman Lands will get more than four. Illinois will not come out as cold as they did against the Terps when they shot 26% from the floor and made 1 of 10 three-pointers in the first half.

Here ARE some things that will happen again.

Number one, the Terps are going to score. Defense is not strength for this Illinois team. The blow-bys that happened in game one will happen again in tonight's re-match.

Maryland will continue to get points in the paint and the guards will lead the way. Jaylen Brantley had an effective game last time out and I would expect Anthony Cowen and Melo Trimble to continue to get to the basket this evening in Champaign.

Damonte Dodd will return for Maryland after missing the previous Illinois game with his knee injury. In that game the Terps had some trouble with the Illinois center, Mike Thorne Jr. (10 points of 5-9 shooting).

Thorne Jr. was benched in favor of Maverick Morgan for their game vs Michigan earlier this week. Morgan responded with a solid game as he made 8 of his 9 field goal attempts and I would expect him to get the nod tonight. If Dodd can supply the type of defense he displayed against Indiana this past Tuesday it would be a real boost for the Terps.

What does all of this mean?

It means in the world of college basketball, you can throw the past margin of victory right out the window. Despite an early spate of road winners in Big 10 games, the home team in conference games has a huge advantage, and today’s game will be no different.

Illinois has some talent, the home court, and Malcolm Hill. Maryland has some established talent itself, to go along with their blooming freshman class.

I’m still not sold on the Terps being an upper level Big 10 team. A win here might go a long way in changing my mind.

But until then….I think the books are right. Illinois is a 2.5 point favorite and that’s how I see it. In a high scoring and entertaining game, Illinois' work at the foul-line gives them the 83-81 win.

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we need eight more teams to fill our charity duckpin bowling event!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 14th, six teams have registered, leaving us with 8 spots to fill.


Friday
January 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 13
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


chargers leaving san diego marks another sad nfl occasion


It was sad to see the "Breaking News" crawl across the bottom of ESPN yesterday: Chargers announce relocation to Los Angeles, effective for the 2017 season.

I'm saddened any time a team pulls out of a city, in any league, but particularly in the NFL, where we once experienced a great loss when the Colts left in the middle of the night.

Eleven years later, it was shameful the way Baltimore acquired the Ravens in 1995, based on the fact we were once robbed -- and later became the robber.

And please spare me the "Cleveland got to keep their colors and logo" stuff. We stole their team. Plain and simple. They went without football because of us, in Baltimore.

Take out the "B" and replace it with a "C" and that little boy could have been anyone in Baltimore, circa 1984.

That said, the NFL was apparently not going to grant Baltimore an expansion franchise anytime in the near future. I will admit that, at least. So, based on that assumption, the powers-that-be felt the only way to get a team was to steal one.

Still not proud of it to this day...but I understand.

San Diego losing their team after 55 years is equally distressing on a league-wide level. Without a new stadium in the works, the decision was easy for owner Dean Spanos. And, let's be real about it. If the NFL wanted the Chargers to stay in San Diego, they would have helped them out, somehow, with stadium financing.

I realize the league is already leveraged out the wazoo as it is with some stadium financing projects, but you know, for certain, if the league wanted a team in San Diego, a team would still be in San Diego.

After 55 years, the NFL, the owners, the Commissioner -- they all said, "Thanks for everything, San Diego. Buh-bye."

That's a rotten way to do business.

But every owner in that room, or on that conference call, also knows there's always a possibility he/she could need to someday curry favor with the owners when a whopper of a stadium proposal comes his or her way and they need help to either move, or, leverage their own city to pony up money for a new facility.

It's a dirty, dirty business, when you get right down to it.

As someone here noted yesterday, it's upwards of a $250 day when you attend a game in this "era" of the NFL. You can do it for less, sure. Heck, I went to a game this season and folks outside the stadium were selling lower deck seats for $40 one hour before kick-off.

But if you're a ticket buyer and a "typical" tailgater and football fan, you're spending $200-$250 every time you go to a game.

I'm not blaming the NFL or the teams for the ticket prices. They are what they are. The players are making the money they're making because the league is generating so much cash that each team now has a $155 million salary cap to play with -- and it's only going up from here.

As long as the TV networks keep funneling ongodly amounts of money to the league -- and the beer sponsors and fast food places keep giving it to the networks, and so on -- there are no long-term issues with the NFL or the product.

People are always quick to say, "Once the TV networks stop paying the freight, watch out", but none of the major sports leagues in America are getting LESS money for their television product next season or anytime in the near future.

There are lots of quibbles with what's going on in the NFL today; fantasy football has consumed everyone's interest, the "red zone network" has made it more enjoyable to just stay home and take in all the action, and the stadium experience, given that the games are now creeping closer to three and a half hours in duration, has given us all reason to pause and say, "Do I really want to be out there that long today?"

But we still go. And we still watch. And we still look at our phones throughout the game to see how Le'Veon Bell or Matt Ryan or Rob Gronkowski did for "our" team in the early games.

Fans talk a lot about "not going anymore" and a few do, here and there, but they're quickly replaced. It's a bit like picketing at your place of employment. You can do that, if you choose, but you're going to get your feelings hurt when some other guy is at your desk next Monday.

What the teams and the league MUST do, though, is get some kind of plan in place to improve or upgrade the in-stadium experience.

I'm not 100% sure how that even works, honestly, other than to say what I do know is this: There's just too much down time for a sixty minute football game. It's becoming almost like golf when you're at the stadium. Hit a shot, walk 200 yards, hit another shot, walk 200 yards, get to the green, stand around for two minutes until it's your turn to putt.

I wouldn't label the NFL game-experience "boring", but I think it's becoming more of a labor of love than it should be.

It's now mostly a status symbol, attendance wise, rather than a "must-see event". It's no longer a rock concert that you can't miss. It's a Sunday afternoon outing where you feel almost compelled to go, instead of excited to go.

And here's the funny part. Those people in Los Angeles? I'm not so sure they really want to go to the games. If the team wins -- either the Rams or Chargers -- they might get behind the successful franchise of the two, but that's a BIG "might" and a big "if", too.

San Diego wasn't exactly knocking 'em dead at the turnstiles, either, but that's what a delapidated, archaic stadium gets you. Can you imagine what it would be like if the Ravens were still playing at that old barn over on 33rd Street?

And the more the people in San Diego sensed the team was probably leaving, the less engaged they felt. And the less inclined they were to buy tickets...with good reason.

Imagine you're 23 years old and your girlfriend of three years says to you, out of the blue, "Just so you know, it's pretty much a given that I'll be looking for a new boyfriend by this time next year." That's what's been happening to the people of San Diego for the last six years or so.

Best of all? That new boyfriend the Chargers just found in Los Angeles isn't all that excited to get the girl.


and the best nfl storyline of 2016 was?


Our #DMD poll for Wednesday and Thursday asked the question, "What was the best storyline of 2016 in the NFL?

We provided five answers from which to choose -- and we had a runaway winner.

86% of you thought the Dallas Cowboys and their 13-3 season powered by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott was the story of the year in the NFL.

6% thought it was the Patriots going 14-2 with Tom Brady missing the first four games due to a suspension.

6% thought it was the Raiders going 12-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

2% of the votes went to the other options.

Thanks to all of you who voted!

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The Orioles started piecing to remnants of their roster for a new season last week with a "big" trade that sent last season's much heralded free agent acquisition, starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, to Seattle in exchange for journeyman outfielder Seth Smith.

While it didn't take long to see some fans start up the complaining about "Dumpster Dan" Duquette hitting the bargain bin again, this trade really doesn't fit that description at all.

Gallardo was a fresh bust of a bad strategy of signing free agents who lingered in the qualifying offer system, a clear sign that no one really had any faith in him given the premium that pitching is going for these days.

While not precisely a replacement for Pedro Alvarez, newly acquired OF/DH Seth Smith brings a lot of the same characteristics to the O's in 2017 that Alvarez brought in '16.

With Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Bundy firmly entrenched in the rotation already, Gallardo was part of a three man band fighting for just two additional spots, and neither he nor Ubaldo Jimenez or Wade Miley really profile well as relievers, so one of them was going to get packaged up and sent out of town just to release some dead weight.

Gallardo became the odd man out when Duquette found a taker in Seattle.

In Smith, Duquette gets a surprisngly robust return for a player he basically needed to cut loose. A left-handed hitter, Smith is absolutely a platoon hitter who is useless against same-side pitchers, but against right handers he's a very competent hitter who can handle either the DH role or right-field.

With a career .272/.355/.472 line against right handed pitching, and a .256/.351/.431 line last season, Smith has proven to be someone who can handle himself well at the role in a platoon role, and even show a little bit of power that should play up a tad at Camden Yards. In many ways he's a sort of redux of Pedro Alvarez, albeit trading Alvarez's raw power for better on base skills and outfield defense.

Of course Smith isn't an All-Star, and that's ok.

No one has a team full of All-Stars, and competent role players rounding out a lineup is certainly important. But it's also true that Smith doesn't fill either of the O's two biggest offseason needs: Better starting pitching or a big bopper to take Mark Trumbo's spot in the lineup.

The former almost certainly isn't happening, just because the market is so thin on pitching this winter, and the door on the latter definitely isn't closed, with the team being increasingly linked with both Trumbo and Jose Bautista in the past week.

Bringing either of those players into the fold would create a platoon situation with Smith and Trey Mancini, and leave them with a roster that looks a whole lot like the one they played the 2017 season with.

That won't excite many fans as we move into Spring Training, but it certainly wouldn't be a worst case scenario for the Birds' prospects this year. Last year's team made the postseason, after all, and Toronto has definitely taken a hit to their talent level thanks to losing Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion this winter.

The Yankees' farm system is the talk of the baseball world, but if those Baby Bombers aren't quite ready for primetime by the end of the year, a roster of similar talent to the 2016 Orioles would project as at least the second best team in the A.L. East and a clear postseason favorite.

Throw in a couple of better than expected seasons, especially from Tillman, Gausman, and/or Bundy, and you have a team that could find themselves hoisting another A.L. East championship pennant in October.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

Tottenham delivered the top of the table a late Christmas present when they halted Chelsea’s thirteen game winning streak and brought the potential runaway league leaders back to the pack for the time being as we head into Matchday 21 of the English Premier League. The victory moved Spurs into the top four, just ahead of arch rivals Arsenal, with the stage now set for a second half of the season six-team fight for not only a place in the top four but now also the league title. As usual, you can catch all of the action throughout the weekend live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, January 14 (all times eastern)

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Leicester City – King Power Stadium, NBC

Despite the setback, Chelsea still hold a five-point edge over second place Liverpool and will be eager to start a streak anew when they visit Leicester City at the King Power Stadium for Saturday’s primetime matchup, with the defending league champions working through the same title winning hangover the Blues experienced just last year, though the Foxes, like their weekend opponent, have finally begun to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone with points from three of their last four league games (L1) including a 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough their last time out.

There will still be plenty of work to do however to ensure their safety with their European duties set to ramp up with the start of the knockout stages of the Champions League kicking off next month and ahead of the visit from Chelsea, who have lost only once in their last twelve meetings with Leicester City across all competitions (W10 D1) and have failed to walk away with points in only four of their twenty-one all time Premier League meetings, including a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Foxes earlier this season and in three of their last four trips to the King Power Stadium.

Sunday, January 15 (all times eastern)

8:30am – Manchester City @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

After falling to Liverpool in their New Year’s Eve showdown, Manchester City rebounded and kept their dwindling title hopes alive when, after going down to ten men, they shipped two goals past Burnley and then survived a nervy final twenty minutes for a 2-1 victory. They will kick off a juicy Sunday double header when they travel to Goodison Park to face an Everton side who ran out winners for the third time in their last five leagues games (D1 L1) with three second half goals exacting a measure of revenge against manager Ronald Koeman’s former club following their defeat earlier this season.

Everton were lucky to walk away with a share of the points in their first meeting this season, as City failed to convert two separate opportunities from the penalty spot and dominated throughout to remain unbeaten in their last seven Premier League matchups with the Toffees (W4 D3) and with only one loss in their last nine meetings across all competitions however, they have struggled at Goodison Park over the last decade, taking all three points in just three of their last thirteen trips to Merseyside while going home empty handed on eight of those occasions.

11am – Liverpool @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Liverpool could get a boost on Sunday from midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who is back from and injury and potentially in the starting eleven.

While their victory over Manchester City put down their marker as a legitimate title contender heading into the New Year, Liverpool missed their chance to close the gap on Chelsea even further when a second penalty from the ageless Jermain Defoe denied the Reds all three points in 2-2 draw with Sunderland. They will cap off the weekend action when they renew a rivalry that dates back to 1894 against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with United taking full advantage of a questionable red card in the early stages of their clash with West Ham United to take the maximum points 2-0.

The victory made it six in a row in the league and nine in a row across all competitions, with the rich vein of form United has tapped into taking them from the middle of the table to the cusp of the top four, where they can continue to keep the pressure on the sides above them with all three points against Liverpool, who have dropped four of their last five league meetings with the Red Devils (D1) and who have won only one of their last ten trips to Old Trafford across all competitions, failing to walk away with even a share of the spoils in eight of those visits.

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we need eight more teams to fill our charity duckpin bowling event!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 12th, six teams have registered, leaving us with 8 spots to fill.


Thursday
January 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 12
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


umbc now officially "on the rise"


Don't look now, but the hottest men's basketball team in the state of Maryland might not reside in College Park.

They just happen to be located off of Wilkens Avenue on the west side of Baltimore.

The UMBC men's basketball team rolled on last night at the University of Hartford, as Will Darley scored 29 points to lead the Retrievers to an 84-68 win. That gives UMBC a 12-4 mark overall and a 3-0 record in conference play, matching the the America East start of the 2007-2008 team that captured the conference title and advanced to the NCAA tournament before losing to Georgetown in the first round.

I've been saying this since the first basket was made back in mid-November: UMBC has a legitimate shot to win the conference crown this year and make it to the Big Dance. They're that good.

An artist's rendering of what the new arena at UMBC will look like when construction is completed in November of 2017.

Men's basketball isn't the only thing hopping over at UMBC. Construction is about 70% complete on a new state-of-the-art arena, which will be situated just north of the soccer stadium. I was over on the campus last night to watch the UMBC women's team play Hartford and stopped by to check out the new arena as well, which will seat just over 4,500 for basketball.

Construction should be finished by November of 2017 and some men's and women's hoops games could be played in the building by early 2018.

Things are heading in the right direction at UMBC.

Much like Towson did when they vacated the old, dusty Towson Center for a gorgeous new on-campus facility -- SECU Arena -- UMBC athletics will leave behind the cozy, quaint, but out-dated Retriever Athletic Center and move into much nicer digs by this time next year. It will help them recruit better, for starters, and gives the school a chance to also host their own graduation events and other large-scale activities like concerts, trade shows and more.

Back to this year's basketball team.

I've been a champion of every program in the area over the last fifteen years. I've seen a bunch of good, solid teams, virtually from every school, at some point in the last decade.

The aforementioned UMBC team who won America East in 2007-2008, led by Darryl Proctor and Jay Greene, was a solid collection of workers and opportunitistic scorers. They were a joy to watch.

Towson had a very talented team a few years back, only to lose to to William and Mary in the CAA semi-finals at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. They haven't been that close since, but Pat Skerry has a nice group of athletic players this year, although they're struggling (0-4) in CAA play at this point.

Morgan State, Coppin State and Loyola have all enjoyed NCAA tournament appearances in the last decade. I was in the Hill Field House the night Reggie Holmes broke the Morgan State all-time career scoring record. It was one of the best nights of sports -- pro, college, otherwise -- I've ever attended, personally.

I've seen nearly every team in the area over the last dozen years or thereabouts.

This UMBC squad of 2016-2017 is as talented and well-rounded as any I've seen.

Granted, it's America East and not the ACC or Big 10 they're playing in, but UMBC is as competitive right now as any team in the state. They passed a test of sorts last night with a nice road win at Hartford. Yes, the Hawks are "down" this year, but a road win is a road win, especially in conference play.

Three-point sharp-shooter Joe Sherburne is one of the biggest reasons why UMBC currently sits at 12-4 overall and 3-0 in America East conference play.

This Saturday is a big one for the Retrievers. They'll visit pre-season conference favorite Vermont (13-5, 3-0 America East), who demolished Binghamton on the road last night and figures to be UMBC's toughest conference competition this season.

Why is UMBC so good?

For starters, they have terrific guard play, a necessity in college basketball these days.

They also have three kids, Jairus Lyles, Joe Sherburne and Will Darley, who can each be counted on for 15 points a night. There's 45 points before the game starts. If the rest of the team can somehow throw in 25 between them, you have a win on most nights.

Lyles is the best player in America East, Sherburne leads the country in 3-point shooting percentage (54%) and Darley, from Dulaney High School, has become a major force under the basket and on the scoring ledger. Darley had 29 points in last night's win over Hartford.

First-year head coach Ryan Odom has found the right mix of players, and his cool, calm style seems to connect well with this group he's assembled.

Your next chance to see UMBC at home comes on Monday, January 16 when the Retrievers host Albany for a 1 pm start at the RAC.

I'm a fan of every Baltimore school and their various athletic programs, but it's especially pleasing to see UMBC rebound like this after a tough seven-year stretch.

If they stay healthy and keep on improving, the Retrievers could find themselves dancing in March and giving a #2 or #3 seed all they can handle in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

And remember, you heard it here first.

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avoid the 4-letter network and come here for the good stuff


The Washington Capitals are starting to look like the team that won last year's President's Trophy in the NHL, as the Caps jumped out to a 3-0 lead and cruised past Pittsburgh last night, 5-2, down at the Verizon Center. That's seven straight wins now for the Caps, who are now just one point behind first-place Columbus (60 points) in the Metropolitan Division, although the Blue Jackets have played one less game than the Caps.

Alex Ovechkin now has 21 goals after tallying twice in last night's 5-2 home win over Pittsburgh.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice last night, including the opening tally just thirty five seconds into the game. Braden Holtby had another solid night in goal, making 32 saves. When those two are at the top of their respective games, the Caps always have a chance to win. Both were terrific on Wednesday night.

Any time something is written about the Caps in January, it must be presented with the obvious caveat: None of this matters. We've seen this act from the Caps a half-dozen times, at least, in the Ovechkin era. They play great in the regular season, look virtually unbeatable as winter turns to spring and then, BOOM!, they collapse come playoff time and bow out meekly in the first or second round.

It's with that in mind that I won't make any sort of prediction at all on what this Caps team might accomplish. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, sadly, I already know how this year's edition is going to wind up. The Caps, as they always do, will figure out a way, somehow, to neglect the prosperity afforded them in the post-season and lose to someone in April or May that shouldn't beat them. It's just the way it works with the Capitals.

I'm ready for the annual spring collapse. But this last three weeks has been fun to watch.

The San Diego Chargers appear ready to end their 55-year run in San Diego, as the Chargers are expected to finalize a move to Los Angeles in the next few days that will suddenly give the city of Angels a pair of NFL teams after going the better part of two decades with ZERO NFL teams.

That will leave San Diego looking a lot like Baltimore did back in 1984 when the Colts left. A city with just one professional sports team (Padres) to call their own.

It's indeed sad that the city and citizens of San Diego don't think highly enough of the Chargers to build them a new stadium, but much like what transpired in Cleveland with the Browns and their eventual move to Baltimore, there's more to it than meets the eye, I'm sure.

The move to Los Angeles for the Chargers also paves the way for another city to lose their team, as the Oakland Raiders will likely be the next domino to fall. Once the Chargers make their move to L.A. official, expect the Raiders to pack up and head to Las Vegas.

I'm not sure Las Vegas can support a franchise better than San Diego can, but as we all know these days, it's about the stadium. Teams are dying to move into new stadiums, whether that's in their own city or somewhere else that's luring them.

Here's what I do know about the Chargers: They better keep those pretty powder blue uniforms when they move to L.A.

No word yet on the status of the Orioles-Mark Trumbo talks, but word out of Texas is that the Rangers are in hot pursuit of the (former?) Orioles slugger. Trumbo to Texas would, of course, leave a fairly big hole in the O's lineup in 2017.

I guess the Birds are thinking that perhaps some combination of Seth Smith, Trey Mancini and Welington Castillo can come close to generating 40-something home runs, but Matt Wieters has departed, too, and his bat, as inconsistent as it was, will need to be replaced as well.

If the Birds aren't actively pursuing Trumbo at this point, it can only be deducted that money is the issue. And, any sane but hopeful Orioles fan can then only hope the team is starting to think ahead to imminent off-season investments in the likes of Tillman, Britton and Machado.

I'm all for a drop-off in 2017, record wise, if that's what the Orioles are putting together -- a plan for 2018 and beyond. If, by losing Trumbo and Wieters, the Birds revert back to an 82-win team for a year, I'm perfectly fine with that as long as cash is being stored away to hand over to guys like Britton, Machado, Schoop, Tillman, Jones, etc. I'll even take a 75-win "bad season" in 2017 in exchange for ponying up the bucks to keep those guys around for the long haul.

I still think the O's need a power right handed bat in 2017 -- and I really don't think it's Trey Mancini -- but what I really want to see is a major "future investment" in our quality players. If I see that, I'm happy with whatever happens in 2017.

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ten biggest storylines from nfl 2016


So, with the NFL regular season firmly in the rear-view mirror, we ask ourselves: What, exactly, did we see? And how much of it was important? Or intriguing? Or forgettable?

Here are my top ten storylines from the 2016 regular season. We'll give you a chance to vote on your top storyline below.

10. Vikings start off 5-0, quickly fade -- It's hard to start the season 5-0 and then miss the playoffs, but that's what happened to the Vikings in 2016. They went from 5-0 to 5-4 to, eventually, an 8-8 record that left them out of the post-season.

9. Redskins lose final two home games, miss the playoffs -- All the Redskins needed to do in the last three weeks of the season was win two games to make the playoffs. They had Carolina at home, and lost. They went to Chicago, and won. They gagged away their post-season berth with a home loss on the final Sunday of the season, falling to a Giants team that no reason at all to win.

8. Lions lose last three games, squander NFC North -- The Packers needed to win their last three and the Lions needed to lose their last three in order for the NFC North to fall out of Detroit's grasp. And that's exactly what happened, as the Lions dropped their final three games to go from hosting a first-round playoff game to getting throttled in Seattle in the wild card round and sent home early.

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas to a 13-3 regular season record in 2016 and earned the Cowboys #DMD's #1 storyline in the recent regular season.

7. Falcons score 540 points en-route to 11-5 record -- The Atlanta Falcons went 11-5 in the regular season, curiously winning more games on the road (6) than at home (5), but no matter where they played, Atlanta put up points. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring, as they averaged a whopping 33.75 points-per-game in 2016.

6. Chiefs go perfect 6-0 in AFC West to win division crown -- Kansas City won the AFC West on the final day of the regular season after they won in San Diego and Oakland lost at Denver, but it was the Chiefs flawless play in the division that got the job done, as Andy Reid's team went 6-0 againt their AFC West foes while posting a 12-4 mark overall.

5. Inept Browns go 1-15 to secure #1 pick in college draft -- They could have gone 4-12, realistically, but also could have easily gone 0-16. If not for a missed field goal at the buzzer by the Chargers (which would have sent the game to OT), Cleveland might very well have posted an 0-16 mark. Instead, the Browns went 1-15 and own the #1 pick in this April's college draft.

4. Packers start 4-6, win last six to go 10-6 and claim NFC North -- After falling to 4-6, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers stood up at a press conference and said, "No disrespect to the schedule we're playing, but I really think we can run the table and win our last six games." He was right. They did. The Packers won in Detroit on the final Sunday of the season to win the division.

3. Raiders go 12-4, make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 -- If not for a season-ending injury to Derek Carr in mid-December, there's no telling what the Oakland Raiders might have done in 2016. As it was, they still finished the regular season with a 12-4 mark and made their first playoff appearance since 2001 in the process.

2. Patriots lose Brady for four games, still go 14-2 -- Not even a 4-game suspension for Tom Brady could derail the Patriots in 2016. Oh, and they lost Rob Gronkowski ten games into the season as well, but that didn't seem to faze Bill Belichick and Company, either. The Patriots went 3-1 in Brady's absence, then cruised through the rest of their schedule on the way to a 14-2 mark and the best record in the AFC -- again.

1. Rookies Prescott, Elliott lead Cowboys to NFC best 13-3 record -- "The Cowboys took a running back with the 4th pick in the draft? Are they nuts?" That's what people said last April. No one is saying that now, not after Ezekiel Elliott ran roughshod over the entire league in 2016. Add to the mix the superb play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and you have the Cowboys with an improbable 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs.


So, what's YOUR top NFL storyline from 2016? Go ahead and vote in our #DMD poll below. Voting concludes today and we'll reveal the results tomorrow here at #DMD.

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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we need eight more teams to fill our charity duckpin bowling event!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 12th, six teams have registered, leaving us with 8 spots to fill.


Wednesday
January 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 11
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


bisciotti makes it clear -- he likes his guys and flacco's here to stay


Well, if you were hoping to hear Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti take John Harbaugh or Joe Flacco to task, Tuesday's annual "State of the Ravens" press conference was probably difficult for you to digest.

Bisciotti made a lot of points yesterday, but he stressed two of them quite clearly: His reaction to the Ravens lack of success over the last couple of years isn't leading to any kind of mass firings and their immediate future -- on the field, at least -- will be centered on quarterback Joe Flacco.

Short summary -- the Ravens are sticking with John Harbaugh and the staff of his choosing and the organization hasn't lost any sort of long-term confidence in their $22 million quarterback.

In what amounted to mainly an 80-20 event, 80% of the questions were for Bisciotti, 20% for the other three at the head table with him, Bisciotti calmly answered everything thrown his way, repeating consistently that over-reacting isn't his style.

"I'm not a guy who just fires people when I'm disappointed with the results," Bisciotti said early on in the press conference.

He made it abundantly clear he expects an improvement in 2017, but wouldn't even entertain the "what if 2017 isn't a success?" question that was posed to him.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciott on Tuesday: "I didn't get where I was in business by firing people every time I was disappointed with the results."

At one point, he did quip, "The pitchforks are out. They know it." But he didn't pin that statement on any one person in particular and then later tried to soften the comment by mentioning it was the fans who were already carrying the pitchforks.

"Every time we lose, I hear and read the same thing," Bisciotti said. "Fire the coach, fire the GM, fire the offensive coordinator, fire the defensive coordinator. I'm sorry, but that's just not my style. I didn't get where I was in business by just firing people. I think it's a bad model, especially in this business."

It was at that point that Bisciotti almost appeared to be taking a dig at the fan base, stressing that he wasn't going to be influenced by people outside of the organization.

"All I can tell you is I trust my partners," the owner said when asked, again, what it is that tells him the current group running the organization can succeed.

As expected, John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome and Dick Cass had minimal roles in the 70 minute event. Harbaugh reiterated his belief in his coaching staff, including returning offensive coordinatory Marty Mornhinweg, Newsome spoke about needing to add quality depth to the roster, and Cass gingerly danced around the topic of a ticket price increase, which is almost a certainty in 2017.

The owner quickly dismissed a question about signing or drafting players with a domestic violence history or record: "We're not taking anyone with domestic violence in their past." End of story, there, apparently.

He also went out of his way to point out that Thursday night football wasn't "hated" by the players, as many around the country contend is the case. "I've never had one player come up to me and say he'd be willing to give back $250,000 of his salary if we'd discontinue playing on Thursday nights," Bisciotti stated.

And the owner made it quite clear that his organization's wagon is hitched to Joe Flacco.

It also appears Flacco -- as I suspected and wrote here at #DMD -- was consulted in the decision to retain Mornhinweg. When asked if he, personally, was happy with Mornhinweg's return, Bisciotti quickly said, "I know my quarterback is happy with it..."

The owner also made what appeared to be a serious comment about having Flacco join his management team both at the head table and in Jupiter, Florida this week as the team's brass gathers at Bisciotti's home for a series of meetings to review 2016 and preview what lies ahead in 2017.

If I said to Joe, "Hey, look, you're getting a lot of criticism from people, do you want to sit up here with us and take questions and defend yourself? There's no doubt in my mind he would do that," Bisciotti claimed.

He went on to add, "It's probably not a bad idea to invite him down to Jupiter with us, quite honestly. Joe is really invested in this with us and he should probably have a say in how we do things."

Bisciotti also made it a point to praise Harbaugh, Newsome and Flacco for their willingness to take blame for the shortcomings of the 2016 campaign. "Each one of them took the burden of losing upon themselves," the owner said. "They probably took more of it than they deserved to take, quite honestly."

It was, as always, a refreshing look at how someone like Bisciotti, who could hire and fire everyone in the building fifty times, proceeds along much more unemotionally than would most of us "regular folk".

He was even careful not to publicly put Harbaugh and his staff on the hot seat. When someone asked "what happens if you don't win in 2017?", he said, simply, "I couldn't tell you that sitting here today. I'd have to see how we fail before I make any kind of decision."

Of course, what Bisciotti says to the media at an open press conference and what he says in the privacy of his home in Jupiter this weekend are two different things.

That said, and I've claimed this for a couple of years now, I see the owner mellowing with time, and yesterday's press conference again showed a lighter, softer, waggish Bisciotti, making a humorous quip now and again to keep the mood upbeat and yet acknowledging his organization's faults, too.

He spoke plenty about Joe Flacco, but talked about him in an almost revered tone. "There's plenty of good football left in Joe Flacco. We just need to see more of it and he knows that, too. One thing about Joe. He knows he can do more and he wants to do more," Bisciotti said.

In the end, Bisciotti's position was quite clear. It's his organization. He makes the big decisions, and those who work for him are responsible for carving a path of success.

While lots of people in town don't think missing the playoffs three of the last four years qualifies as "success", it's evident the owner looks at it all on a much more granular level than just "Did we make the playoffs...or not?"

The owner, as has become his custom over the last half dozen years or so, stole the show on Tuesday. He was candid, forthcoming and answered any question to the best of his ability.

As I wrote here at #DMD on Tuesday, the Ravens outshine their sports counterparts in town largely because of their willingness to face the music, in the good years and the bad, just like they did yesterday.

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ten biggest storylines from nfl 2016


So, with the NFL regular season firmly in the rear-view mirror, we ask ourselves: What, exactly, did we see? And how much of it was important? Or intriguing? Or forgettable?

Here are my top ten storylines from the 2016 regular season. We'll give you a chance to vote on your top storyline below.

10. Vikings start off 5-0, quickly fade -- It's hard to start the season 5-0 and then miss the playoffs, but that's what happened to the Vikings in 2016. They went from 5-0 to 5-4 to, eventually, an 8-8 record that left them out of the post-season.

9. Redskins lose final two home games, miss the playoffs -- All the Redskins needed to do in the last three weeks of the season was win two games to make the playoffs. They had Carolina at home, and lost. They went to Chicago, and won. They gagged away their post-season berth with a home loss on the final Sunday of the season, falling to a Giants team that no reason at all to win.

8. Lions lose last three games, squander NFC North -- The Packers needed to win their last three and the Lions needed to lose their last three in order for the NFC North to fall out of Detroit's grasp. And that's exactly what happened, as the Lions dropped their final three games to go from hosting a first-round playoff game to getting throttled in Seattle in the wild card round and sent home early.

Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott helped Dallas to a 13-3 regular season record in 2016 and earned the Cowboys #DMD's #1 storyline in the recent regular season.

7. Falcons score 540 points en-route to 11-5 record -- The Atlanta Falcons went 11-5 in the regular season, curiously winning more games on the road (6) than at home (5), but no matter where they played, Atlanta put up points. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring, as they averaged a whopping 33.75 points-per-game in 2016.

6. Chiefs go perfect 6-0 in AFC West to win division crown -- Kansas City won the AFC West on the final day of the regular season after they won in San Diego and Oakland lost at Denver, but it was the Chiefs flawless play in the division that got the job done, as Andy Reid's team went 6-0 againt their AFC West foes while posting a 12-4 mark overall.

5. Inept Browns go 1-15 to secure #1 pick in college draft -- They could have gone 4-12, realistically, but also could have easily gone 0-16. If not for a missed field goal at the buzzer by the Chargers (which would have sent the game to OT), Cleveland might very well have posted an 0-16 mark. Instead, the Browns went 1-15 and own the #1 pick in this April's college draft.

4. Packers start 4-6, win last six to go 10-6 and claim NFC North -- After falling to 4-6, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers stood up at a press conference and said, "No disrespect to the schedule we're playing, but I really think we can run the table and win our last six games." He was right. They did. The Packers won in Detroit on the final Sunday of the season to win the division.

3. Raiders go 12-4, make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 -- If not for a season-ending injury to Derek Carr in mid-December, there's no telling what the Oakland Raiders might have done in 2016. As it was, they still finished the regular season with a 12-4 mark and made their first playoff appearance since 2001 in the process.

2. Patriots lose Brady for four games, still go 14-2 -- Not even a 4-game suspension for Tom Brady could derail the Patriots in 2016. Oh, and they lost Rob Gronkowski ten games into the season as well, but that didn't seem to faze Bill Belichick and Company, either. The Patriots went 3-1 in Brady's absence, then cruised through the rest of their schedule on the way to a 14-2 mark and the best record in the AFC -- again.

1. Rookies Prescott, Elliott lead Cowboys to NFC best 13-3 record -- "The Cowboys took a running back with the 4th pick in the draft? Are they nuts?" That's what people said last April. No one is saying that now, not after Ezekiel Elliott ran roughshod over the entire league in 2016. Add to the mix the superb play of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and you have the Cowboys with an improbable 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs.


So, what's YOUR top NFL storyline from 2016? Go ahead and vote in our #DMD poll below. The results from our Super Bowl 2017 are in, by the way, and two scenarios out-distanced all the rest in your voting earlier this week:

New England vs. Green Bay received a whopping 54% of the vote.

New England vs. Dallas received 39% of the vote.

New England vs. Atlanta received 4% of the vote.

The others received 3% of the vote, total.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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dale williams aims
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 grind out 75-72 win over indiana


Playing a with defensive intensity for a full 40 minutes, the Maryland Terrapins held off the visiting Indiana Hoosiers and come away with an impressive 75-72 win last night at Xfinity Center in College Park.

Indiana shot better from the three point line and out-rebounded Maryland, but couldn’t overcome the 18-8 advantage the Terps held from the foul line or the tenacious Maryland defense. Four UM players scored in double digits, led by Melo Trimble with 18, including 8-10 from the foul line.

Indiana's James Blackmon Jr. had a game high 22 points on 9-15 shooting.

The course of the first half was altered dramatically after only 1 minute and 40 seconds when Blackmon Jr. picked up his second foul and exited the game.

Freshmen Kevin Hueter (left) and Justin Jackson (right) made major contributions in Maryland's Big 10 win over Indiana on Tuesday night at College Park.

Without him, Indiana struggled to execute in the half court. The Terp defense had a little something to do with that, but Blackmon's absence was a critical early turning point. Playing as aggressively as I have seen all year, Maryland defenders jumped passing lanes, played chest to chest on the perimeter, and blocked shots. A lot of shots.

For the half, the Terps blocked 8 Hoosier attempts. Damonte Dodd was super impressive with his work defending Thomas Bryant, holding him to four first half points. More impressively, Dodd blocked 5 first half shots.

During the first 20 minutes, Maryland led by as many as seven and several times had leads of six points. With the Terps in a position to push the lead to double digits, Indiana head coach Tom Crean re-inserted his star guard and the game instantly tightened.

Indiana’s Curtis Jones knocked down a couple of threes and Blackmon started scoring. It took a Melo Trimble layup with 2 seconds remaining for Maryland to avoid going into halftime with a deficit. As it stood, the Terps held a one point lead, 39-38, going into the break. It was a wild and fun, action packed, back and forth first half.

Indiana reclaimed the lead when they scored the first two points of the second half on two free throws by Bryant. They seemed to continue the momentum they had gained in the last minutes of the first half, but were never able to pull away. The lead would change hands a few times before Indiana’s Robert Johnson hit a three with 17:10 remaining to put the Hoosiers up by two, 45-43. It was a lead that Indiana would retain for almost 10 minutes.

A Trimble layup with 7:16 remaining would knot the game at 63-63. The score stayed tied for over two minutes until Kevin Huerter hit a three point shot to put Maryland up, 66-63. The lead was short lived however. Blackmon scored 5 straight points and the Hoosiers had a two point lead.

Dodd tied it at 68 with a put back off of the offensive glass with 2:25 left. Dodd was then hit with a foul on the defensive end and Indiana’s Juwan Morgan calmly hit two foul shots to give Indiana a two point advantage at 70-68.

The next sequence of plays determined the outcome of the game and they featured the same player. First, Kevin Huerter came off a curl to drain a three from the left side and the Terps were up by a point 71-70. Looking to go back ahead, OG Anunoby missed a short jumper that was rebounded by Huerter. The ball was barely in Huerter’s hands when he launched a long outlet to a steaking Anthony Cowan who converted the layup to give Maryland a three point lead at 73-70 with 1:17 left.

It was a brilliant pass by the freshman Huerter and perhaps the play that clinched the win. The final margin of victory was provided by two Trimble foul shots and a ESPN highlight dunk by Anunoby.

It was a true team effort that brought the Terps Tuesday night's victory. L.G. Gill did his part by pumping in 7 first half points in only 11 minutes. Justin Jackson had 9 points in the first half and 11 overall. Cowan pumped in 15 points and Damonte Dodd finished with 6 blocked shots.

The work that Dodd did on the low blocks against Bryant was nothing short of remarkable.

Dodd stayed right on Bryant, absorbed contact, and timed his leaps to consistently disrupt the scoring attempts of the Indiana big man. While the entire team played hard on defense, Cowan was another defensive standout for the Terps. His three steals were tops for Maryland.

Maryland was also greatly helped by shooting 18-22 from the foul line. Of the six Terps that went to the stripe, not one was under 50%.

It was a great win in a great environment. It proved the Terps can beat a bigger, stronger opponent by paying smart and playing hard for 40 minutes. Gary Williams, who was in attendance last night, surely was proud. He won a more than a few games using that same recipe.

Next up for Maryland is a 6pm Saturday contest against an Illinois team that they beat handily just 3 weeks ago.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 9th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 September 24th and October 1st. 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 interested.

We had 24 a total of spots available. Half of those were secured by #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve spots remaining.

We've received reservations for eight spots from #DMD readers, which leaves us with four still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit, with the remainder due in spring and summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast each day, 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 $2,245.00 (double occupancy in the room).

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

This is when I think the game will be played:

The Orioles are at 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 the London game.

Most teams take their bye the week after their 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 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 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, please go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

* * * Please begin the process of applying for or updating your passport now. Under no circumstances will the Department of Homeland Security allow a person without a valid passport to board an international flight. Trying to do so would probably get you clapped in irons and taken away for waterboarding. Here is the website for United States passport information.



Tuesday
January 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 10
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


today shows massive difference in philosophy between ravens, orioles


This was always my favorite day of Ravens season back in my former life on the radio and actively following the football team on an everyday basis.

Today is the annual “State of the Ravens” press conference in Owings Mills.

Any accredited member of the media can show up at The Castle today at 1:30 pm, take a seat, and enjoy it all right there, live and in person. This annual press conference is one of the things that separates the football team and baseball team in town.

One organization understands their responsibility to the fans, through the media, while the other goes out of its way to neglect powerful ideas like the one you'll see today in Owings Mills.

The Ravens have perfected the event over time, but it’s still the most raw, organic thing the team has ever developed and produced. The gathering gives members of the local media unfettered access to the principles who run their organization; Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh.

None of the questions are pre-announced by those who get to ask and everyone who covers the team “regularly” is afforded at least one question during the hour long event, if not two.

It’s as close to a free-for-all as you can get. You’re allowed to ask whatever you want, to whomever you want.

Once again today, the four main principles of the Ravens organization will face questions from the media in the team's annual "State of the Ravens" press conference.

The best part occurs afterwards, when the four men break off into small, private groups and answer additional questions there in a much more informal setting. Can you imagine Peter Angelos or Dan Duquette standing alone in a corner somewhere at Camden Yards, fielding questions from the press with no filter and no PR person there to regulate it all? Me neither.

The Ravens do this every year as a way of providing “closure” to the most recent season. While fans aren’t necessarily afforded the opportunity to ask questions themselves, many of the media members in attendance go into the room armed with a question or two on behalf of the fans.

In my final few years on the radio, I’d take calls on the morning of the press conference and promise to ask one question from the listeners, since I was allowed two questions back in those days.

Those media members who are in the room work hard to develop a “legitimate” question. Stupid stuff like, “How’s come youze guys didn’t run the ball more this year?” are a waste of time. It’s far better to go the intelligent route with something like: “When you all see running backs in the league like Ezekiel Elliott, Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell becoming game-changing offensive weapons, does it make you consider the importance of perhaps drafting a premier running back in the first round this April?”

I remember one year in the private “after session” with a handful of us who hung around long enough to corner him, Bisciotti relayed the profit and loss, to the dollar, of the first five years of his ownership. “People think the owners are bathing in money, but that’s just not true,” he contended. “We each earn a salary of one million dollars as the owner…that’s a rule no one violates,” he said. “The club has ranged from a profit of zero dollars to a profit of $7 million dollars in my time as the owner. I’d be a lot more wealthy if I would have taken my $600 million and just invested it.”

Bisciotti is routinely the star of the event, as this is the one time all year he’ll field questions and give real, direct answers. It’s also one of the few times Ozzie Newsome will speak on the record – about anything – although the GM is not nearly as comfortable with the proceedings as are Bisciotti and Harbaugh.

Ozzie usually starts looking at his watch about twenty minutes into the press conference. He’d much rather be watching game film.

Newsome, I'm sure, will receive some direct questions today about the compilation of the Ravens roster in 2016 and whether or not it was good enough to compete. He might not like the question, but he'll answer it.

With the recent news about the Ravens spending $45 million to upgrade their facility in Owings Mills, this could be one of those years that Dick Cass gets a few questions thrown his way, but most of the people in the room are interested in talking about football, not business. Cass, the team’s President, is more than capable of handling himself, but he’s typically just there as a matter of protocol.

Harbaugh, of course, is a natural, given that he deals with the media three times a week for 20 weeks or more each season. He’ll be under the gun today, I’m sure, but it’s nothing he can’t navigate with ease.

By the way, if I were afforded a question today, mine would be simple and it would be directed to Bisciotti and, perhaps, Cass: “Are the Ravens concerned at all about an apparent drop-off in attendance – not tickets sold, but bodies in the seats – at home games and what steps, if any, are you considering taking if, in fact, you are concerned?” (Yeah, I know, that's sort of two questions, but you have to be smart in the way you ask them and you might slip two in there at once.)

I’m curious to know if the Ravens are seeing and feeling the same things many of us are seeing and feeling these days when it comes to attending the games in person vs. staying home and watching them from our couch and/or man cave?

The Ravens have been doing this event for a decade now, inviting the media in for an hour long give-and-take session that almost never disappoints. They’ll take the questions today, answer them, and do so mostly with a smile on their faces.

The Ravens get it.

This event is a requirement for an organization that is significantly funded by the community, whether that’s a season ticket holder from Parkville or a corporate sponsor from downtown Baltimore.

It’s a shame the Orioles don’t show the same sort of good faith to their fan base and supporters every October.

I don’t know when I last saw Peter Angelos have an open, public discussion with the media regarding the franchise he has owned since 1992. It’s easily been close to twenty years, I think.

No one from the Orioles organization has ever bothered to sit in front of the media and talk about the “business” of the franchise. Honestly, I’m not even sure which person in their front office would fill that role.

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter will “field questions” at the team’s annual FanFest event – and again at a mid-season dog and pony show for season ticket holders only – but none of those questions will be pressing enough to make either man break a sweat.

And, rest assured – since I’ve seen it happen in person – any press conference the team holds includes only questions from the team’s “media partners”, of which there are five or six in town now, including WJZ-TV, CBS Radio, MASN Sports, The Baltimore Sun and MLB.com.

But the baseball team in town would never do what the Ravens are going to do today, which is to allow any and all media members into a room and allow those folks to ask questions that aren’t pre-approved or sanctioned in advance by the organization.

There are lots of reasons to respect what the Ravens have built here over the last 21 years.

Today’s event at Owings Mills is one of those reasons.

Win or lose, the Ravens will answer questions and face the music in a way that the other team in town simply won’t do.

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


That was quite a national championship game last night, as Clemson beat Alabama, 35-31 in the final college game of Deshaun Watson's career. The Clemson QB finished the night with 420 yards in the air and three touchdowns, including a short TD throw with six seconds left that gave the Crimson Tide their first and only defeat of the season.

Clemson's first national title under Dabo Swinney was a sweet one, as the Tigers scored with six seconds left on Monday night to beat Alabama, 35-31.

It was a pretty good football game, even if both defenses were suspect in the fourth quarter. Clemson trailed 24-14 heading into the final period of play, but outscored Alabama, 21-7, allowing Nick Saban's team to score with a little over two minutes remaining, then marching right down the field themselves and winning the game on Watson's TD throw.

The triumph gave Dabo Swinney his first national title and earned the Tigers a small measure of revenge for last season's title game loss to Alabama. The Crimson Tide had themselves a whale of a 2016 campign, going 14-1, but that "1" would turn out to be the game that cost them the national championship.

Watson announced after the game he'll enter the NFL Draft this April. His stock certainly rose on Monday night in Tampa, Florida. Cut from the same cloth as Cam Newton and Jameis Winston, he'll be a force in the NFL someday.

And Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams hauled in several impressive catches on Monday, thus improving his value as well. He sure would look good in purple, but he'll never make it past the 15th pick in April's draft.

The Washington Capitals are playing their best hockey of the season right now, with Monday night's efficient 4-1 win in Montreal giving the Caps their sixth straight victory overall.

The Caps got goals from Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Connolly and Ovechkin on Monday and Braden Holtby had another good night in goal, but he was forced to make just 22 stops as the Montreal offense couldn't get much going against the physical Washington defensive corps. The Capitals are now ranked #1 overall in goals allowed per-game in the NHL, surrending 2.0 per game.

With the win at Montreal last night, Washington moved into a second place tie with Pittsburgh and the Rangers in the Metropolitan division. All three teams have 57 points, although the Caps (40 games) have played two fewer games than the Rangers (42) and one more than Pittsburgh (39). The Penguins are in Washington for a Wednesday night showdown tomorrow night at the Verizon Center.

This weekend's four NFL games are available for football bettors and the New England Patriots are a whopping 15.5 point favorite over visiting Houston. In some places, you can even get the Texans plus 16 points. It's the second highest post-season spread in playoff history. The 49'ers were 19-point favorites over San Diego in the 1995 Super Bowl, and went on to win and cover, 49-26.

Houston, of course, has little chance to win on Saturday in Foxborough, but 15 or 16 points is a lot of ground to cover in the talent-rich NFL. All it takes is the Texans to man-up in the first half and trail only 10-7, perhaps, and maybe New England wins up winning the game comfortably, 24-13, but Houston makes some money for those willing to take a chance that Tom Brady and Company won't blow them out.

I'm in the other camp. I think New England's winning 34-10. Or more. The Texans won't be able to score nearly enough points to keep it close and, while their defense is good, they'll be on the field far too much to have the energy necessary to contain the New England offense for 60 minutes. I'm taking the Patriots and giving the points. More on that later this week.

Atlanta is a 4.5 point favorite over Seattle. This should be a good game, although something tells me the expiration date on the Seahawks defense is right around the corner. I'm not sure where I'm going with this game, yet, but I'm leaning in the direction of the Falcons to win easily.

Kansas City is a 2 point favorite over visiting Pittsburgh. The biggest question of the day will center on Le'Veon Bell and that Steelers offensive line. Will they be able to run the ball on the K.C. defense and keep them honest enough to open up some one-on-one coverage situations involving Antonio Brown? If so, Pittsburgh can win. But the Steelers are a much different team on the road than at Heinz Field. I'm not sure what I'm doing with this one, either, but the Chiefs are a tough out in their building, that's for sure.

And Dallas is a 4.5 point favorite over Green Bay, which tells me the guys in Vegas are just dying for you to take the Cowboys. Either that, or they haven't watched Green Bay for the last seven weeks. I think I like the Packers in this game, but I'm going through the motions of looking at the Cowboys data from 2016 before deciding for sure. Any team that goes 13-3 in the regular season did something right.


it's poll time here at #dmd


OK, with the JV teams eliminated from the playoffs, it's time to look ahead to this weekend's "Final Eight" and figure out who makes it to Houston and the Super Bowl.

The smart money is on New England, although you won't get rich betting the Patriots.

The "best" money would probably go on either Seattle or Pittsburgh at this point.

Well, you could make a boatload betting on the Texans if they were to go all the way, but that's not happening, obviously. Save your money, underdog-lovers.

So, what's the match-up going to be?

The poll below reflects five logical Super Bowl match-ups. Go ahead and vote for the one you think most likely occurs.

We'll provide the results in Wednesday's edition of #DMD.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

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

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dale williams aims
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.


maryland hosts battle-tested indiana tonight


There is no telling which Indiana team shows up tonight in College Park for their 9pm (ESPN) contest against the Maryland Terrapins.

If it’s the team that beat both Kansas and North Carolina in November, then the Terps are in trouble.

If the Hoosier team that shows up is the one that scored only 68 points in its overtime loss to Fort Wayne, then the Terps have more than a puncher's chance.

Vegas must think that Indiana will show up ready to play because the line-makers came out with the Hoosiers as a 2.5 point favorite. The bettors think otherwise, as they have bet Indiana down to a one point underdog.

After a huge offensive game at Michigan on Sunday, Maryland will need an even bigger defensive performance tonight from Damonte Dodd, who will match up with Indiana's 6'10" big man Thomas Bryant.

This is not the same Indiana team that won last year’s regular season Big 10 title. Last year’s team leader, Yogi Ferrell, is gone. Troy Williams, Max Bielfeldt, Nick Zeisloft, and Collin Hartman (out with a knee injury) are all gone too. That’s over 60% of the minutes that Indiana head coach Tom Crean needs to replace.

The court time has been divided between his key returners and a few new additions. Wearing the number 1, and also number one on the scoring sheet, is junior guard James Blackmon Jr. The rugged 6’4” Indiana native is dangerous from long range (44%) and from the foul line (85%). He can take the ball strongly to the basket but is not the most adept ball handler (31 turnovers against 28 assists).

Blackmon, who is returning from last year’s season ending knee injury, averages 17.3 ppg to go along with 5.3 rebounds per contest. He is talented and tough.

“Tough” describes this whole Indiana starting lineup, including former Pitt point guard Josh Newkirk. Newkirk, 6’1” 185 lbs, shoots only 40% from the floor but hits a respectable 38% of his three point shots. He is very comfortable shooting midrange jumpers off of the dribble and leads the team with 57 assists.

On defense, Newkirk, plays with the kind of energy and tenacity that makes him a good fit for this team. The Indiana starting line-up only gets tougher after Blackmon and Newkirk.

6’3” 195 lb junior guard Robert Johnson is second on the team in scoring with almost 14 per game. He is very efficient on the offensive end as indicated by his shooting percentages of 42% from the 3 point line and 51% overall. His strong frame will be a difficult matchup for whatever Terp draws that assignment.

Maryland has no one on their roster that resembles the type of players that the front court tandem of OG Anuoby and Thomas Bryant are. Bryant is 6’10” and will take his 245 lbs outside the three point line where he is hitting 48% so far this year. A true inside/outside threat, he has enough post up moves to warrant extra attention in the interior. Defensively, Bryant can be beat with quick moves, but I’m not sure that Ivan Bender or Damonte Dodd possess the skill or the strength to be successful against him.

Bryant is a legitimate All Big 10 type center.

Anuoby is a unique athlete at 6’8” and 235lbs. He is capable of highlight reel dunks, plays strong, and is fairly selective with the shots he chooses to take. Anuoby might also be vulnerable with quick moves on the defensive end. It will be interesting to see how Justin Jackson attacks him.

As a team, Indiana will show good motion on offense while looking for kick-outs. Occassionally, they will run isolations for Bryant, but ball movement makes their offense go. Their base defense is man to man, but they will drop back to zone if their guards are getting beat off of the dribble.

Indiana beat Kansas by pounding the boards. They beat North Carolina by out-shooting them. But they lost to Nebraska by being out hustled. If Maryland is to beat this Indiana team, they will need to do all three of the above.

It will take a stellar effort on the boards, impressive shooting, and 40 minutes of maximum effort for the Terps to hang with the Hoosiers.

I’m thinking the Hoosiers are too big and too strong for Maryland. If the Towson Tigers pushed the Terps around for 30 minutes in the XFINITY Center, then it’s not out of the question to expect Indiana to do the same, but shoot it better than Towson did earlier this year.

My call: The Terps find the going tough and fall to Indiana in College Park, 74-67.

JERRY'S
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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 9th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 September 24th and October 1st. 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 interested.

We had 24 a total of spots available. Half of those were secured by #DMD corporate partners. That left us with twelve spots remaining.

We've received reservations for eight spots from #DMD readers, which leaves us with four still available.

We're taking a $445 per-seat deposit, with the remainder due in spring and summer of 2017. Our trip package, which includes airfare, five nights hotel, breakfast each day, 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 $2,245.00 (double occupancy in the room).

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

This is when I think the game will be played:

The Orioles are at 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 the London game.

Most teams take their bye the week after their 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 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 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, please go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

* * * Please begin the process of applying for or updating your passport now. Under no circumstances will the Department of Homeland Security allow a person without a valid passport to board an international flight. Trying to do so would probably get you clapped in irons and taken away for waterboarding. Here is the website for United States passport information.



Monday
January 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 9
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maybe that trip to south beach wasn't such a good idea after all


FACT: Justin Thomas won the PGA Tour's SBS Tournament of Champions on Sunday at Kapalua in Hawaii, which is the first "real" tournament of the PGA Tour 2016-2017 season. Thomas beat a really good field of tournament winners from the 2015-2016 campaign, including U.S. Open champ Dustin Johnson, PGA winner Jimmy Walker, his good buddy Jordan Spieth, and the likes of Jason Day and Bubba Watson, too.

OPINION: Thomas is capable of having the kind of season Spieth had a couple of years ago when he won the Masters and U.S. Open ten weeks apart. He actually drives the ball much better than Spieth, but doesn't have the all-world putting stroke of Spieth's, which usually separates the two come tournament time. If Thomas becomes a better putter -- and he sure did roll it well at Kapalua -- he can win four or fives time in '16-17. The dude can really play.

FACT: Ben Roethlisberger left Heinz Field early Sunday evening in a walking boot, although the Pittsburgh quarterback insisted he'll be ready to play at Kansas City next Sunday when the Steelers face the Chiefs in the AFC playoffs. Although no specific mention was made of when Roethlisberger was injured, it appeared he got hurt with a little over four minutes left when a Miami defensive player fell on his right leg while the QB tried to throw a short pass.

OPINION: With the score 30-12 in favor of Pittsburgh and only five minutes left in the game, why would Mike Tomlin have Roethlisberger in there in the first place? Miami was just dying to get one good cheap shot in on the Pittsburgh QB after Bud Dupree nearly decapitated Miami's Matt Moore earlier in the game. Why risk injury to Roethlisberger with five minutes left when the game was over? I just don't understand NFL coaches sometimes.

Steph Curry's points-per-game average is down by about four per-game and the Warriors have four more losses compared to this time last year. Coincidence?

FACT: Golden State's win over Sacramento last night gives the Warriors a 32-6 record to date. They have the same record at home (16-3) as they do on the road. Funny thing, though, San Antonio (30-7) and Houston (30-9) are right on their heels.

OPINION: The Warriors are more talented this year than last, with the addition of Kevin Durant in the off-season being the big boost, but at this point last year they had lost just two games. That just goes to show you how amazing that 2015-2016 Golden State team was, as they finished 73-9 to set the single-season all-time record for wins. I have a weird feeling they're not getting back to the NBA Finals this year. Don't know why -- it's just an "opinion". It's Cleveland vs. Houston in the Finals.

FACT: If you bet the home teams and laid the points this weekend, you cleaned up, going 4-0 against the spread. I went 2-2 in "Show Me The Money", winning both games on Saturday and losing both games on Sunday, although I did have Pittsburgh to win the game, just not cover against the Dolphins.

OPINION: There will not be a 4-0 home sweep next weekend, though, I promise you that. Obviously the Patriots are winning at home over Houston, but the other teams playing at home (K.C., Atlanta and Dallas) are not going 3-0 next weekend. Who, then, is losing? Well...you'll have to come back later this week for that information.

FACT: With Maryland no longer in the ACC, I'm not following that conference nearly as much as I once did, but they currently have six teams inside the Top 25 (UNC, Duke, Florida State, Virginia, Louisville and Virginia Tech).

OPINION: I've seen all six of those aforementioned Top 25 teams play with the exception of Virginia Tech and I can say the most dangerous of them all is -- Florida State. They're the only ACC team with one overall loss still. They beat up on Virginia Tech on Saturday, 93-78. The Seminoles are really good. Watch out for them come March Madness.

FACT: A bunch of New York Giants went to South Beach last Sunday night and into Monday (they were "off work" on Monday) before returning to prepare for their playoff game at Green Bay.

OPINION: It probably wasn't a good idea to do that in the first place, but the worst idea of them all was posting pictures of their trip on Instagram and tweeting out messages of fun and hi-jinks while they were on a boat partying with a handful of cute Miami gals. I guess when you have that kind of money, something inside just forces you to wave it in the face of the great unwashed. The Giants then proceeded to get their ass kicked yesterday in Green Bay. Maybe they should have saved the South Beach trip for after the season.

His price is probably coming down to one the Orioles would like, but Dan Duquette still says the team is going to pass on Jose Bautista because the fans don't like him.

FACT: It's January 9th and the Orioles are still without a right-handed designated hitter type -- and a full-time right fielder, as well, although perhaps the club feels Seth Smith and Joey Rickard can fill that role. Dan Duquette was asked, again, about Jose Bautista in a radio interview yesterday, and, like he did last month, made mention that was initially fearful of pursuing Bautista because of what the fans might think: "I was just trying to make it clear to the agent that we didn't want the Orioles in that conversation because I didn't want the fans to be upset that we were trying to bring Bautista here after we had competed against him for the last six or seven years," Duquette said. "That kind of got blown out of proportion. We are always interested in the market this time of year. There is some good value. We're still interested in a number of players on the market. We'll have to see if there's a match."

OPINION: If the Orioles aren't going to sign Mark Trumbo, Jose Bautista is a reasonable alternative. As I wrote last month, I'm not a huge Bautista fan at this point in his career, but he's worth having if the price is right, just like Pedro Alvarez was worth having last year based on the money the Orioles spent on him. The notion that the Orioles should pass on Bautista because "(we) competed against him for the last six or seven years" is, again, one of the dumbest things Duquette has ever said. The Red Sox didn't seem to mind bringing David Price into their dugout last season and he and David Ortiz openly feuded prior to 2016. Duquette needs to get better players, period. And, please, Dan, stop worrying about what the fans think.

FACT: Tiger Woods has registered for three early season PGA Tour events; January 26-29 at Torrey Pines, February 16-19 at Riviera CC, and February 23-26 at PGA National. He's also sandwiching a trip to Dubai to play in a European tour event in there (Feb. 2-5) and collect a multi-million appearance fee (against the rules...but what they don't know won't hurt them) at the same time.

OPINION: Woods won't face a great field at Torrey Pines at the end of January, but the Riveria and Honda Classic (PGA National) fields will be busting with Top 50 players. If he's going to play well and have a chance to win at one of those venues, it's like Torrey Pines, where he has won a gazillion times in his career. I doubt he wins one of those three, but I suspect he'll be on a Sunday leaderboard in one of them. Oh, and yes, I think Woods will win a PGA Tour event in 2017, although it won't be a major.

FACT: Clemson has a chance tonight to earn a small measure of revenge for last year's NCAA title game loss to Alabama. The Tigers proved they belong in the big game with that 31-0 shellacking of Ohio State last Saturday. Or maybe the Buckeyes just weren't all that good. Either way, Clemson faces Alabama tonight in Tampa, Florida.

OPINION: I find it hard to go against Alabama, but I think tonight's clash has the makings of an "instant classic", with Deshaun Watson taking on a Vince Young/Cam Newton look in this one, where he becomes a virtual one-man wrecking crew. I'm going with the Crimson Tide in a buzzer beater, 30-28.

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it's poll time here at #dmd


OK, with the JV teams eliminated from the playoffs, it's time to look ahead to the "Final Eight" and figure out who makes it to Houston and the Super Bowl.

The smart money is on New England, although you won't get rich betting the Patriots.

The "best" money would probably go on either Seattle or Pittsburgh at this point.

Well, you could make a boatload betting on the Texans if they were to go all the way, but that's not happening, obviously. Save your money, underdog-lovers.

So, what's the match-up going to be?

The poll below reflects five logical Super Bowl match-ups. Go ahead and vote for the one you think most likely occurs.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

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

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crying jordan meme pokes fun at giants


There's no telling who invented the "Crying Jordan" meme, but he/she is basking in the glow of one of the internet's most widely circulated pieces of property these days.

Hardly a day goes by in the world of sports when Jordan's teary face can't be used to depict sadness or disappointment in the world of sports.

In case you haven't been on the internet for the last five years, the "Crying Jordan" meme is actually a photo of Jordan crying at his 2009 induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Jordan's face is then photo-shopped into an existing image of someone else to highlight that person's sadness.

The early leader for "Crying Jordan Meme of the Year" was posted last night just minutes after the Giants lost at Green Bay.

Sure, it's been overplayed and overused since it first was used back in 2012, but there are other times when it has gloriously fit well with whatever occasion it's showcasing.

Last night was one of those occasions. As you see to the right, some genius came up with an all-time champion submission of the Crying Jordan meme, depicting the members of the Giants team who decided to venture to South Beach last week and later posed for a photo on a boat.

It's early in 2017, and there are lots of Crying Jordan memes to come this year, no doubt, but it's going to be awfully hard to beat that one of Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of his New York football teammates.

I'm excited to see everyone try, though. I'm a Crying Jordan meme junkie at this point.

Hughes Mechanical
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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 9th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

upgrades at owings mills facility end
return-to-westminster dreams


When the Ravens moved their pre-season camp from McDaniel College in Westminster to the team’s facility in Owings Mills for the 2012 edition, owner Steve Bisciotti made mention that the team would “re-visit the situation in five years or so” and see if the club felt any different about vacating the tiny college in Carroll County.

We got the answer this week.

They might have re-visited the situation, but nothing is changing. In fact, it’s all but permanently official now. The Ravens will not return to Westminster for training camp. Ever.

With this week’s news that the club is overseeing a $45 million upgrade to their current facility in Owings Mills, the final nail was driven in the Westminster coffin. The Ravens will fly no more at McDaniel College.

They’re adding a thousand parking spaces to allow fans to visit the facility and watch practice, and expanding their office space to accommodate an increase in front-office personnel, so it’s obvious they’re making those improvements to enhance their footprint in Owings Mills, not Westminster.

I don’t like it.

But I get it.

I didn’t particularly care for the decision back in December of 2011 when the Ravens first announced they’d be leaving Westminster for the cozy confines of their own digs in Owings Mills.

But – foolishly, I guess – I always kind of hoped the organization might actually “miss” the bonding and connecting that goes with having a training camp away from home.

When your camp is in a small town like Westminster, it takes on an almost college-like atmosphere. The players basically spend 24 hours a day together, they eat, breathe and sleep football, and then, of course, there’s the aspect of getting to hang out with the fans in attendance, too, which probably makes the fringe guys on the team “feel” like an NFL player, albeit perhaps only briefly.

Having the camp in Owings Mills makes every player feel like he's going to work each morning.

It feels more like “business”, I suppose.

And that, of course, is precisely what it is.

A Ravens official reminded me yesterday that it costs the team roughly $1.2 million to hold 24 days of camp in Westminster.

That’s a lot of money for three weeks of stuff that you could mostly do free of charge at your home facility in Owings Mills.

The CBA has changed dramatically over the years, too, I was gently reminded yesterday as well, and the team doesn’t have as much “control” over the players as they did circa 2010.

”In the old days, when you came to camp, we handed you a daily itinerary of what to expect, hour by hour, and we pretty much dictated your entire day from sun-up to lights out,” the Ravens official said. “Now, we no longer have that type of authority. We still dictate the schedule, but we can’t be quite as demanding as we could in the past.”

In other words . . . without the ability to maintain complete control over the players 24/7, why not just have them show up at Owings Mills – at no cost – instead of spending a million bucks in Westminster?

I still don’t like it.

But I get it.

John Harbaugh and the coaching staff certainly prefer the training camp to be held in Owings Mills.

The field is better, the meeting space is better, the technology is better and – well, you get the picture. Everything is better in Owings Mills.

You can’t have $20 million-a year-employees running around on a Pop Warner football field. The NFL in 2017 is chess, not checkers.

McDaniel College might be a good place to get your college degree and it’s a neat looking campus as you drive by on Route 140, but it’s not suitable for a billion-dollar football franchise.

No disrespect intended, but the NFL and the Ravens outgrew McDaniel.

Yes, some teams in the NFL still do the “camp away from home” concept, including the Steelers, who have held their camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA since 1967.

There’s something to be said for the connection it must provide the fans in Western Pennsylvania.

That Pittsburgh franchise has been around a long, long time. Maybe money isn’t as important to the Rooney family as it is to Steve Bisciotti.

Maybe Mike Tomlin actually likes going to Latrobe, in contrast to Harbaugh, who didn’t care for the “home away from home” camp concept from the day he took over in 2008.

I can’t speak for the Steelers and why they maintain their camp 40 miles from Pittsburgh.

I do know why the Ravens parted company with their annual Westminster camp, though.

Other than hanging out with the fans, there was nothing about the stay at McDaniel College that made sense anymore.

It cost the team too much money.

The CBA was more restrictive and players were guaranteed more “down time” than, say, a decade or so ago.

The field and facility weren’t up to par.

That’s just the truth. What, other than fan interaction, was gained by holding camp in Westminster?

And if the Ravens would have left Westminster and then not planned a series of public events/practices every August to stay in touch with their fanbase and give them a chance to see the players and team “up close and personal”, I think we’d all be howling about it.

But five years ago when they pulled out of McDaniel College, the organization pledged to “stay connected” with the fans every summer via a variety of public opportunities and I think they’ve followed through on that promise.

The Ravens assumed – back in 2011 when they made the switch – that those same people who would go out to McDaniel once or twice during training camp would just as easily head to Ravens Stadium or Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for one of their “open practices” during camp.

And perhaps they have.

If we’re being honest, other than creating a headache for the autograph hounds who went out to McDaniel on a daily basis so they could get stuff signed to sell on eBay, what’s the big difference – for the fans – between going to McDaniel or going to Ravens Stadium?

Not much of one, in my opinion.

As I’ve said for the last five years: I don’t like it. But . . . I get it.

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Well, if there’s any debate at all about how important a “real” quarterback is to a team, the Oakland Raiders silenced that issue on Saturday when they fell 27-14 to Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card playoff games.

The Raiders were 12-2 with Derek Carr as their starting quarterback, then went 0-3 without him, including Saturday's season-ending playoff loss at Houston.

Third-stringer Connor Cook started at quarterback for Oakland and was out of his element from the first series. The Raiders were in the game, score-wise, well into the second half, but they never had a real chance to win because Cook was awful.

Three weeks ago, Oakland looked like they had a puncher’s chance of advancing to the AFC title game. It wasn’t out of the question they had the goods to maybe even give New England a run for their money.

But then everything fell apart when Derek Carr broke his leg in their 14th game and their season ended with a whimper yesterday in Houston.

In Saturday’s win over the Raiders, the Texans got a reasonable performance from their maligned quarterback, Brock Osweiler, and the Houston defense lived up to their #1 ranking, albeit against a quarterback making his NFL starting debut.

If the Steelers beat Miami today, all yesterday’s win earned the Texans was the right to get smashed by 25 points at New England next weekend.


The Towson Tigers basketball team is in trouble, as Pat Skerry’s team fell to 0-4 in conference play last night when they fell at Elon, 72-61. The Tigers were picked to finish 2nd in the pre-season coaches poll in the CAA, but currently sit in last place, having lost three straight games on the road after last Saturday’s home loss to UNC-Wilmington.

In last night’s loss to Elon – who entered the game at 0-3 in the CAA – the team’s top two offensive players, Arnaud William Adala Moto (4 points) and Mike Morsell (9 points) contributed just 13 points between them. Morsell scored just three points in Towson’s loss at College of Charleston on Wednesday night.

The Tigers built a 13-point lead midway through the first half, but wound up trailing at intermission, 33-29.

Elon made more foul shots (19) than Towson (13) attempted.

And the Tigers are officially “desperate” for a win on Thursday night when Delaware visits SECU Arena.

”I don’t know any other way to say it,” Pat Skerry said afterwards on the post-game radio show. “We’re desperate now. We need a win and we need to start playing the kind of basketball we know we’re capable of playing.”


The Washington Capitals got a goal from T.J. Oshie 1:38 into the game and Braden Holtby pitched a second consecutive shutout as the Caps blanked Ottawa, 1-0, on Saturday night.

Oshie suffered a shoulder injury in the second period, returned briefly to continue playing, then sat out the third period of the game.

Washington has now won five straight games and sits comfortably in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, eight points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. And the Caps are just three points behind first-place Columbus, although the Blue Jackets have played one less game than Washington.

After a Monday road game in Montreal (56 points), the Caps will tangle with the Eastern Conference’s other red hot team on Wednesday night in DC, as the Pittsburgh Penguins (four straight wins) come to town.


The Dallas Cowboys didn’t even play on Saturday night and they got a dose of bad news when Detroit lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 26-6, as that result means the Cowboys will host either Green Bay or the New York Giants next weekend.

Had the Lions won in Seattle, the Cowboys would have hosted Detroit, a team they just shellacked 42-21 two weeks ago.

Instead, the Seahawks will head to Atlanta for the next round and Dallas gets to face either the team that beat them twice (NY Giants) in the regular season or a team who will come into Dallas next weekend with seven straight wins under their belt.

On Saturday night in Seattle, the Lions hung around, but the mid-season finger injury suffered by Detroit QB Matthew Stafford continued to limit his effectiveness and the Lions offense just never got anything going.

The Seahawks led early, 10-0, Detroit squeezed their way back into it at 10-6 in the 3rd quarter, but Seattle found the endzone twice in the final period to put the game out of reach.

And Seattle now heads to Atlanta, where the Falcons were only 5-3 during the regular season. The Seahawks have quite the post-season pedigree, with a Super Bowl win and loss in the last three years, while Atlanta is known for post-season failures.

I’m sure the Falcons won't sleep very well this week.

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dale williams aims
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 bounce back to win
at michigan, 77-70

The Michigan Wolverines came into yesterday’s game against Maryland with a history of impressive three-point shooting , but it was the Terps' long-range attack that derailed Michigan and propelled Mark Turgeon's team to a 77-70 Big 10 win in Ann Arbor.

Michigan guard Derrick Walton Jr. hit an off-balance three-point shot as time ran out on the shot clock of the Wolverines' first possession. The acrobatic 19-footer gave Michigan an early 3-0 lead and you couldn’t help but think that it was going to be one of those days when the Terp opponents make everything and Maryland struggles to keep up.

But that wouldn’t be the case at all.

Michigan would make 38% of their three's but it was the Terps, bolstered by Jared Nickens' surprising 4-for-4 effort from beyond the arc, who connected on 66% of their three balls (10-15) and in doing so avoided sustained scoring draughts.

Michigan's D. J. Wilson had 13 points in the game, but didn't score on this effort.

For the game, Maryland shot 52% from the floor. The early 3-0 Michigan advantage was quickly erased and Maryland would stay ahead for the final 30 minutes of the game.

Damonte Dodd and Justin Jackson each scored 15 points to pace Maryland. Nickens had 12 and Melo Trimble added 13.

Jackson and Trimble each grabbed six rebounds and helped contribute to the Terps 33-26 advantage over Michigan on the boards.

Defensively, Michigan began the game with a strategy of cutting off Maryland's dribble penetration. Both Trimble and Anthony Cowen often found their efforts stymied by a Wolverine double-team every time they came off of a screen or attempted to beat their man to the basket one on one.

The trade-off for Michigan was that they left the Maryland big men alone, allowing the Terps' backcourt duo to frequently find Dodd alone underneath for easy buckets and a few dunks.

Dodd, who missed three weeks recently with a foot injury, finished the game with season highs for shots attempted (11), shots made (6), and points (15).

Every time the Terps' offense showed signs of a potential stall, Nickens would hit a three. Maryland was stuck at 14 points, and the game was tied, when he hit his first three. It gave the Terps a 17-14 lead that they never relinquished.

At one point in the second half, Maryland was protecting a one-point lead, but were stuck at 38 points for over two minutes. They were in jeopardy of losing their lead when Nickens buried another three off of a Jaylen Brantley assist with 14:24 remaining.

It was a big bucket for Nickens, who looked much more confident shooting the ball and used his legs a bit more when doing so.

Perhaps the biggest sequence of the game occurred with 1:45 remaining. What had been a seven-point Terp lead was down to four after a Wilson three-pointer.

An offensive foul by Cowen gave the ball back to Michigan. Ten seconds later Dodd fouled Michigan center Moritz Wagner, who went to the line with a chance to cut the lead to two. But he missed the front end of a one-and-one and Trimble hit a big floater from the right side of the lane on the ensuing Maryland possession.

The Terps never looked back after that exchange.

Defensively, Maryland had some difficulty guarding Wagner. The 6’11” center hit two three-point shots and used some nice dribble-drives to tally a game high 17 points. However, on the other end of the court, Wagner was practically invisible but for his two blocked shots.

The Wolverines shot a solid 50% as a team but I couldn’t understand why they failed to get more touches for their nimble 6’10” forward, D.J. Wilson.

Wilson had 13 points and missed only two shots. He deserved to have the ball much more often, especially during crunch time, and was a perfect three-for-three from behind the three-point line.

On the other end, though, much like Wagner, his defense was suspect.

It was a good win for Maryland on the road.

They took advantage of what Michigan decided to give them, but it took 10-of-15 shooting from the three-point line for the Terps to get the win in a game where Vegas posted them as seven-point underdogs.

Next up for Maryland is a Tuesday night 9:00 p.m. home contest against the Indiana Hoosiers.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team-entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click here to reserve your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 6th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


Saturday
January 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 7
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about those ravens coaching grades...


I noted yesterday where several people in the Comments section below made remarks about grading the Ravens coaching staff for the 2016 season.

In the Friday report card I published, I didn't grade Harbaugh, Mornhinweg, Pees or Rosburg.

Most of the folks who provided their own commentary on the coaches yesterday offered mainly criticisms and low grades. That's to be expected, I suppose, when the team goes 8-8.

Grading a coach is much, much different than grading a player.

Let's take for example, the situation at the end of the Eagles game where the Ravens nearly gave away an important victory with a variety of mistakes in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.

We'd all agree, obviously, that throwing the ball on that series where the Eagles trailed 27-17 was silly. Harbaugh called it "the worst play call ever", and while I don't know I'd go quite that far, there's no doubt in anyone's mind the ball shouldn't have gone in the air, there.

So, we're going to blame Mornhinweg for that, right?

Well, what blame does Flacco get? He threw the friggin' ball.

Why didn't Joe take over there like a 9th year quarterback should and get in the huddle and say, "Crazy Marty wants to throw it here, but I'm checking out of that and we're running the ball."?

And then, of course, after that mistake, the Ravens defense couldn't stop Philadelphia on two straight possessions, as the Eagles clawed their way back in the game.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh won't be doing this in 2017. And if his team doesn't make the post-season in 2018, he'll likely be looking for work.

How is it Mornhinweg's fault that the defense couldn't make a stop?

This exercise, of course, can be played out 50 times a game, sixteen times a season.

The coaches direct the players, but the players are ultimately responsible for playing the music.

Ron Rivera had a great season with Carolina in 2015. The Panthers went to the Super Bowl.

Ron Rivera stunk in 2016. Carolina won six games and didn't sniff the post-season.

We all know, of course, that latter statement's not true. Rivera was probably just as prepared, just as methodical and just as "ready" to win in 2016 as he was in 2015.

The other teams try, too, you know.

As for the Ravens and their coaching staff this season, here's their grade: They all get a "B".

But I grade them on my own scale and it's likely not the same one you use.

And that's OK.

Your scale might might connect more closely with the fact the team didn't make the playoffs, or Chris Hogan got behind the defense for the knife-in-the-back touchdown catch at New England in the fourth quarter, or Devin Hester's inability to look like a professional player for fourteen weeks.

You might grade the coaches on results, which is completely fair, but also a tad bit ambitious, given that none of them step on the field and play.

My grade of "B" means my interpretation of the Ravens coaching staff is that they did a "good" job in 2016. They all work 100 hours a week, remember. You just happen to see the three hours that they show on television.

As we say in golf, there's no pictures on the scorecard...just numbers. The Ravens went 8-8. It's hard to give the coaching staff anything higher than a "B" based on the Ravens final record.

But I'm not giving them a "C" either. I don't think the staff did an "average" job. Sorry, I just don't think that's true.

I believe the coaching staff had a number of good moments and are far more deserving of a "B" grade than a "C" grade (or worse).

And yes, I also think they had bad moments -- in the same way I think nearly every single player had a bad moment or two (or more).

Remember the first game of the 2015 season? Joe Flacco hit Steve Smith in the corner of the end zone with under a minute to play to give the Ravens a win over the Broncos, in Denver.

Except Smith, somehow, missed the ball. And the Ravens went on to lose.

That was a huge play in the opening game that was, in a lot of ways, a tone-setter for the entire season. However, that one mistake, even at a crucial time, didn't necessarily mean Steve Smith had a "terrible" season in 2015.

He made a mistake. It happens. You hope the good plays outweigh the bad ones at the end of the season.

How the hell is it John Harbaugh's fault -- or at the time, Marc Trestman's -- that Steve Smith didn't come down with that pass for the game-winning score?

Moving forward to this past season, I don't buy any stock at all in the fact John Harbaugh "was terrible" in 2016, as others around town are contending. The Ravens were in every single game they played except for the final loss at Cincinnati on New Year's Day and I'm not judging that for anything since the game had zero bearing on the season.

In every other game, the Ravens had a puncher's chance to win. Sometimes, like in New England, that chance didn't come along until the fourth quarter, but in fifteen straight weeks, the Ravens always had a chance to win.

If it's the coach's responsibility to get the players to play hard (and, honestly, I'm not a big believer in that, but many people are), Harbaugh succeeds in that endeavor every Sunday.

John Harbaugh wasn't "terrible" in 2016. He made some mistakes, just like his players did. But his biggest task, preparing and organizing the team to play, continued to be his forte.

The Cleveland Browns went 1-15 this past season, but I'd bet you that the players in Cleveland don't think Hue Jackson was "terrible". The Browns, in some ways much like the Ravens, had a lack of talent on their roster that led them in great part to being 1-15.

Hue Jackson knows football. Cleveland didn't roll over for anyone. With any luck at all, they would have won four or five games, easily. Hell, truth be told, if the refs don't make that god awful "taunting" call on Terrelle Pryor in the final minute of the second game of the season, Cleveland likely would have defeated the Ravens that day.

If Hue Jackson's team went 1-15 and he wasn't "terrible", there's no way John Harbaugh was "terrible", either.

I don't always agree with stuff John does. There were things that happened in 2016 that puzzled me, like the fake field goal against Washington, the penalty he accepted against Oakland, and probably several other things I could cite if I really put my mind to it.

But what about all the 4th and 2's the Ravens went for -- against MY better judgment, frankly -- that worked? What about the eight games they won? Who coached in those games?

What about the challenges that were won? If John doesn't get credit for those he wins, you certainly can't bash him for the ones he loses.

I don't think Mornhinweg is a horrible offensive coordinator. I think, much like most teams in the league, he's addicted to throwing the ball. That said, it's a passing league these days.

I feel like Dean Pees plays the same scheme nearly every other veteran coordinator plays. It's called, loosely, "keep the other team's offense in front of you". Some call that a "prevent" defense and that's fine. What it is, really, is an effort to not get beat by the big play.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

If you came here expecting to see a coach basher, you won't find one.

The really good ones are hard to replace.

Even though Buck Showalter threw up all over himself in the Wild Card game last October in Toronto, there aren't many managers I'd swap for him in Major League Baseball.

Sure, I know the drill, he's never been to a World Series. And that, perhaps, will be his scarlet letter when it's all said and done, if he doesn't get there someday, at least once.

But he's a helluva manager and one faux pas, albeit a significant one, isn't a game-changer for me.

John Harbaugh and his staff came within an outstretched arm of playing for the division title in Cincinnati last weekend.

And if they would have won there, they would have dismantled the Dolphins this weekend and headed off to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs for the right to play New England for the AFC title in two weeks time.

The Ravens coaching staff didn't cost them a chance at the playoffs.

The players they have weren't good enough and, more importantly, they didn't have enough good players in the first place.

And the coaches are somehow bearing the brunt of the criticism that goes along with that lack of quality.

They can't coach AND play, friends.

At some point, the guys on the field have to get the job done.

Unless they're simply not good enough.

And in 2016, the players weren't.

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gallardo experiment ends in baltimore


Well, so much for stealing Yovani Gallardo last year in spring training and hoping to find a needle in a haystack.

The Orioles shipped the declining right handed starter to the Seattle Mariners yesterday for outfielder Seth Smith, a journeyman with a decent bat who gets on base a fair amount.

Baltimore will be Smith's fifth major league team since he joined the big leagues in 2007.

Smith, for certain, is just a piano mover.

He's not a piano player.

His once mid 90's fastball gone, the Orioles send Yovani Gallardo back to the A.L. West yesterday and picked up outfielder Seth Smith from the Mariners.

But he'll help the 2017 Orioles, and will certainly contribute more on the whole than I suspect Gallardo would have in orange and black.

The Mariners did the deal because Gallardo has been successful against A.L. West clubs in his career. Two years ago in Texas, he was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts. That's a pretty good season in the American League, truth be told.

Last year in Baltimore, he stunk it up. A lengthy early-season stint on the disabled list and diminishing pace on his fast ball were contributors to a 6-8 campaign with a 5.23 ERA in just 23 starts.

Smith isn't going to confuse anyone into believing the Orioles acquired Bryce Harper, but he's an upgraded version of Joey Rickard, essentially.

And he has experience playing right field, so he won't take at-bats from Hyun-soo Kim, who, as we know, swings from the left-side -- like Smith -- and only faces right handed pitching.

Here's the one concerning note about Smith: He can't hit lefties, either. Not a lick.

Last year, in 33 plate appearances against southpaws, he had five hits. And five RBI's.

Bryce Harper he's not.

But he'll give the team another left-handed bat against right handers and will probably only be a tick of a downgrade when compared -- offensively -- to Pedro Alvarez. And he'll do more for the Orioles than Yovani Gallaro would have, I believe.

I can smell the grass at Camden Yards now...

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dale williams aims
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.


visiting terps need to rebound against michigan today


Teams with matching 1-1 conference records will bump heads at 3:15pm in Ann Arbor today when the Maryland Terrapins take on the Wolverines of Michigan.

Maryland will try to get back on track after the late game collapse against Nebraska last Sunday at College Park.

Michigan came back from a 14 point second half deficit to beat Penn State by three (72-69) at home in their most recent game.

#DMD's Dale Williams calls for Maryland's Melo Trimble to have a big game in today's contest at Michigan.

Michigan can, and will, make three point shots. Their 6’1” senior guard Derrick Walton Jr puts up the most long range shots, and connects on 40% of his tries.

Duncan Robinson, who has one of the purest strokes around, is a 6’8” senior who hits just a shade under 40% of his three-balls.

6’10” junior forward D.J. Wilson connects at a 38% rate and senior big guard (6’6”) Zac Irvin hits 35%.

Even their 6’11” center, Moritz Wagner will shoot threes, and he’s hit 16 of his 34 attempts. That’s just one make shy of 50%.

What makes the Michigan offense unique is that every one of the mentioned deep ball threats, maybe leaving out Robinson, has no qualms with putting the ball on the floor and going hard to the hole. If you foul them, that won’t work out too well either, because the Wolverines lead the Big 10 in foul shooting at 79%.

What keeps this Michigan team from being offensively elite is their inability to rebound a miss. They are last in offensive rebounds in the Big 10 and therefore fail to get many second chance points.

While Irvin is the top scorer for Michigan (13.9ppg), the guy who may present the biggest challenge to Maryland is Wilson.

At a pretty fluid 6’10”, and playing the four spot for the most part, I’m guessing he’ll draw Justin Jackson. The freshman Jackson certainly has the athletic ability to be a quality defender, but his lack of experience may make it hard for him to overcome the three inches that he gives away to Wilson. Wilson has a solid array of post-up moves and can spin to hit the short turn-around jumpers. He’ll be a tough match up.

It’s very obvious that Maryland needs to defend the perimeter on defense, but offensively the Terps must exploit some glaring Wolverine deficiencies if Maryland is add to the growing list of road teams winning Big 10 games this year.

Michigan’s three point defense is the worst of the Big 10 teams as is their overall field goal percentage defense. They are last in defensive rebounds per game too (22.9). Opportunities for Maryland to score should be numerous.

The dribble penetration game that is becoming their signature should be very effective against what I believe to be Michigan guards that don’t possess the quickness of the Terp backcourt. Add that to Michigan’s lack of an intimidating rim protector and it adds up to a potential monster game for Melo Trimble.

I also expect that Justin Jackson’s work on the offensive glass will enable him to hit double digit points at Ann Arbor today.

If Maryland can limit Irvin, continue the Wolverine rebounding woes, and maintain their poise in their first Big 10 road game of the season, I feel a road win is within their grasp.

The odds makers have made Michigan an early 7-point favorite. They seem to be begging bettors to make the sucker play and take the big points. Call me a sucker. I’ll take the points as Maryland's guard play leads the Terps to a thrilling 76-75 victory.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 6th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


Friday
January 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 6
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


uh oh, it's report card time


From the file of "everyone's doing it, so why shouldn't we?" comes report card day for the Ravens.

I'm not going into any sort of lengthy, elaborate explanation for each player, in the same way Ms. Kahn didn't explain why she gave me a "D" in my psychology class in the second semester of my senior year in high school.

"That's the grade you earned," she told me when I asked her about it.

So, Ravens players, read 'em and weep (mostly) and, remember, that's the grade you earned.

Joe Flacco, (C-) -- I might well start with the most polarizing guy on the team and get this one out of the way first. A grade of "D" symbolizes "poor" and I don't think Flacco had a poor season. I think he had an "OK" season and nothing more than that...and by the narrowest of margins I kept him above a "D" by giving him a "C-". It's tough to grade out much higher when your wide receivers are as flat as the ones the Ravens employed in 2016. Oh, and Flacco (and his offense, not just the QB himself) gave the Ravens late leads in eventual losses to Oakland, the NY Giants and Pittsburgh, only to see the defense cough up even later touchdowns and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. On the whole, though, Flacco didn't have a good season. I think he'd even agree with that.

Terrell Suggs, (C) -- Didn't provide the impact that was needed in the final month of the season when his contributions meant the most. Has improved against the run over the last couple of years, but he's paid to tackle the quarterback, not the running back. Starting to show a lot of wear and tear.

Kenneth Dixon, (C+) -- Dixon is a solid, powerful runner who keeps his feet moving as well as anyone we've seen in Baltimore since Jamal Lewis. But he's a terrible blocker and not very good at catching the ball out of the backfield. Lots of promise, but not good enough for anything higher than a C+.

Elvis Dumervil, (D) -- Had one signature moment all season, knocking the ball out of Andy Dalton's hands in late November when the Bengals were down 19-14 in the final minute and driving for the potential go-ahead score. Other than, "Doom" didn't do jack squat. A likely salary cap casualty in 2017.

Only one member of the starting 22 deserved an "A" grade for the Ravens in 2017. There's no better offensive guard in football these days than Marshal Yanda.

Ronnie Stanley, (B+) -- Had a very good rookie season and will only get better with time and experience. Unless something weird happens, the Ravens have the left tackle position on lockdown for the next three years at least.

Zachary Orr, (B+) -- Would have earned an "A" if not for his penchant for picking up dumb penalties late in the season. Led the team in tackles. I don't think he'll be an All-Pro at any point in his career, but he's certainly not a liability.

Steve Smith Sr., (C+) -- Take away the bravado and the ball spinning and the impressive intensity level and Smith is basically just another guy. But he gave his all in 2016 and will be remembered as one of the best competitors to ever wear the purple and black.

C.J. Mosley, (B) -- Quietly produced a decent season for the Ravens and certainly improved in his work against the pass. Not going to the Hall of Fame or anything like that, but he's going to have a solid ten year career in the NFL.

Breshad Perriman (D) -- In what was really his FIRST season in the league, he just didn't show well. Not a good route runner, hands questionable at best, and simply not the game-changing speedster the Ravens thought they were getting in 2016 when they drafted him in the first round. He can run the go-route, though, so the Ravens should throw it to him at least 3-4 times a game just to see if he can make something happen on the deep ball.

Eric Weddle (C) -- Had an over-rated season if you ask me. Involved in several key defensive breakdowns on big, game-changing plays, including the Beckham catch in NY, the Hogan catch in New England and the last gasp grab-and-stretch from Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh. Seems like he "plays like a Raven", but I wasn't all that impressed, if I'm being honest (and I am).

Marshal Yanda (A) -- I guess it's about time to start at least bringing this up occasionally: Marshal Yanda might be a Hall of Famer someday. Granted, it's very difficult for guards to make it, but he's been other-worldly for the last five years of his career. Even dinged up this year, he still produced one of the best statistical campaigns of any offensive lineman in the entire league.

Jimmy Smith (B) -- Hard to give him better than a "B" because he didn't play in enough games to justify a higher grade. Not sure if he's soft, injury prone or a combination of both, but Smith has a tendency to get dinged up and miss time, which keeps him from being recognized as one of the game's top cover corners.

Jeremy Zuttah (D) -- The Ravens need a new center. A better center. Someone other than Zuttah. Sorry, hate to be blunt like that. Time to move on from Zuttah.

Lardarius Webb (C) -- Nothing special from Webb, who is now permamently a safety and one of the league's highest paid, at that. Still dangerous when called upon to blitz, but those are too few and far between to make him an impact player. Good, company man who tries hard, but his career calendar just flipped over to November. Cap casualty, most likely.

Mike Wallace (B-) -- Had one of the quietest 1,000-yards-receiving seasons in Ravens history. Scored three touchdowns early in the season and then went missing for the better part of two months. Drifted in and out of games a lot, would make a big play here and there, but for the most part, he's replaceable.

Brandon Williams (B) -- Enjoyed a really good first half of the season, then slipped a bit over the final eight games, as did the Ravens run defense as a whole. Someone will probably cough up good money for him this spring and it won't be the Ravens. Life will go on. He's a good player, but not a franchise-changing departure.

Dennis Pitta (B) -- It was pleasing to see him return and play an entire season and stay healthy. He's a good tight end. Not a great one. But good enough to be one of the more reliable offensive weapons on the 2016 Ravens.

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The Capitals weren't about to let the Columbus Blue Jackets tie a longtime NHL record on their home ice last night. Playing one of their best games of the season, Washington blanked Columbus, 5-0, ending the Blue Jackets' 16-game winning streak in the process. Pittsburgh (1992-93) holds the all-time record for consecutive wins with 17.

Braden Holtby stopped 29 Columbus shots on Thursday evening to help the Caps win, 5-0, and extend their winning streak to four straight games.

I was almost a little disappointed that Columbus didn't show better last night. I mean, I'm thrilled for a Caps win -- any win, over anyone -- but I wanted to see Columbus in all their glory testing Washington to see what the Caps had in reply.

That "test" never materialized, as Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead and cruised from there. I'm not making anything "extra" out of the win for the Capitals, other than to say it was good to see them play well at both ends of the ice. Everyone who follows the Caps knows any kind of good, better-than-good, or outstanding regular season play from them means nothing, really. It's what they do in the post-season that matters most.

Come April or May, they'll figure out a way to let us down. They always do.


I wrote here yesterday that UMBC men's basketball might have a puncher's chance at being a top team in the America East conference,and for one night, at least, UMBC made me look smart, as the Retrievers beat Binghamton in their conference opener, 85-71. Jairus Lyles and Will Darley both had 17 points to lead the way for UMBC.

UMBC has a very balanced team. They had four scorers in double figures last night, including sharp-shooter Joe Sherburne (14 points), who leads the entire country in 3-point field goal percentage. And when I say "entire country", that means he's shooting 3-pointers better than any kid from Villanova, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, etc.

The Retrievers return home this Sunday at 12 noon against Maine.

While UMBC is rolling along nicely at 10-4 overall, Towson University continues to struggle. The Tigers fell to 0-3 in CAA play last night with a 62-57 loss at College of Charleston, as Towson dropped to 8-8 on the season and lost their third game in less than a week.

The story of the night for the Tigers was leading scorer Mike Morsell contributing just three points on a 1-for-9 shooting night. If Morsell -- who averages 17 points per-game -- just scores ten last night, Towson wins by a bucket.

Towson was picked 2nd in the conference in the pre-season coaches poll. There's a long way to go (they play 16 conference games), but Pat Skerry's team is in trouble early on in the CAA. They really need a win tomorrow night (Saturday) at Elon.


I didn't really offer any sort of lengthy comment earlier this week when the Orioles signed suspended outfielder/first baseman Jesus Montero to a minor-league deal, but it's a move that still bothers me a few days later.

Look, I get it, when you're an organization that looks to pull a rabbit out of your hat (that's a nice way of saying "dumpster diving", I guess) via the Rule 5 draft or taking a chance on someone, like Montero, who seems almost unworthy of that opportunity, you're going to have dance on burning logs occasionally.

I'm not here to preach about Montero testing positive for PED's (again) last September when he was in the Blue Jays organization. And I'm not going to howl at the moon and talk about "what's this teach the kids?" and all that other stuff.

What I will say, though, as someone who has been an Orioles mini-plan season ticket holder for three of the last four years, is that I'm really on the edge of being appalled that this is the way they decided to (potentially) spend the money I've given them as a patron and a customer. Jesus Montero is the best they can do? A juicer, suspended, not even available until a third of the season is compete in 2017. That's the guy they're chasing after this off-season?

And they're sending me e-mails asking me to renew my season tickets?

I might do that -- once I see them sign a real player who can actually suit up in April.

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the chase for houston is underway


There's an empty feeling if your favorite team isn't among the qualifiers for the NFL post-season.

Twenty cities -- including Baltimore -- will experience that very feeling over the next two weekends.

The chase to make it Houston officially commences tomorrow and Sunday, with the "Wild Card" games taking place in both the NFC and AFC.

New England, Kansas City, Dallas and Atlanta will all host games next weekend and each hopes to avoid being that team who had it made on easy street, only to cough up a second-round home game, like the Ravens did in 2006 when the Colts came to town and bored everyone to tears en route to a 15-6 win.

Here's what I'll bet right now.

Those four teams won't all be left standing after next weekend's play.

It just doesn't work that way -- usually.

In the meantime, there are four somewhat interesting games this weekend (well, three and then the Oakland/Houston dud) and we're going to take a look at them from both the competitive standpoint and the wagering standpoint today at #DMD.

OAKLAND AT HOUSTON (-3.5), 4:35 PM, SATURDAY -- It's such a shame the Raiders lost Derek Carr a few weeks ago. And Oakland-New England match-up in the AFC title game might have been a blast. Instead, this game sets up to be one of the worst post-season contests we've seen in a long time, particularly since the winner is only extending their season by one week before heading to Foxborough next weekend to get demolished by Brady and Belichick.

It's hard to imagine that Brock Osweiler gives Houston an advantage in this game, but he does -- because Oakland is starting Connor Cook, the back-up to back-up Matt McGloin, who was injured in last Sunday's regular season finale at Denver.

If Cook could be trusted at all, say to throw a couple of TD's and no interceptions, Oakland could still win this game. The fact that the Raiders were 6th in the NFL in rushing during the regular season (120 yards per-game) bodes well for them if they can keep the game close and aren't forced to play from behind.

Houston really only has one advantage here. They're at home. Other than that, there's nothing at all that says they deserve to be a 3.5 point favorite.

Oakland went 12-4 during the regular season, but those wins were recorded on the arm of Carr. Without him, the Raiders are the San Diego Chargers, which is to say, they stink.

Las Vegas has set the total for this one at 36.5 points. They're telling you the game might finish something like 20-17...or 20-13. Take your pick.

As much as I think Oakland can win this, I don't see how a rookie quarterback -- and a guy that didn't even practice with the second team all season -- can go on the road and win a playoff game. I don't think Houston is going to blow them out, but I have to go with the Texans by default, almost, in a 24-13 victory.


DETROIT AT SEATTLE (-8.0), 8:15 PM, SATURDAY -- The fact that Detroit limped into the post-season is concerning, and when you couple that with having to play in one of the league's toughest home venues, it's double-trouble for Matthew Stafford and Company.

The Seahawks, though, weren't exactly hitting on all cylinders down the stretch, either. But they're battle tested and playoff tough, something the Lions simply don't have in their arsenal.

The Lions would need something close to a monumental performance from their offense in order to give themselves a chance to win. While Seattle's offense fizzled at times during the regular season, most of those struggles were away from home. In their building, like most really good teams, they possess a special kind of magic.

The Seahawks defense is good enough to pitch a single-digit score if Detroit can't throw the ball with effectiveness. The Lions were ranked 30th (there are only 32 teams, remember) in the league in rushing with just 82 yards per-game on the ground. If Detroit's passing game doesn't click on Saturday, they're doomed.

The "total" in this one is 43.5 points. That's a lot of scoring, if you ask me, based mainly on the notion that Seattle can key on the Lions' passing game and potentially overwhelm them defensively.

I love the Lions helmets, but I don't love their chances on Saturday. I think Seattle wins easily, 27-10.


MIAMI AT PITTSBURGH (-10), 1:05 PM, SUNDAY -- Ten points is a pretty direct slap in the face at the Dolphins, who not only went 10-6 during the regular season but blasted the Steelers, 30-15, in their regular season meeting in South Florida.

This is different, though, and Vegas knows it. Miami is out of their element when they step up in class like they will on Sunday, as evidenced by that shellacking they took in Baltimore back on December 4 and the home whacking that New England put on them last Sunday in Miami.

Can the Miami defense, shredded at home by Tom Brady and the Patriots last week, rebound this Sunday against Roethlisberger and his plethora of offensive weapons? The smart money says "no".

The Dolphins are good at beating the Jets and the Bills and the Browns. Oh, wait, they actually almost lost to the Browns if not for the fact that Cleveland's field goal kicker missed a 3-foot putt on the game's final play in regulation. Anyway, Miami is a 6-furlong horse in a 1.5 mile race on Sunday.

But Pittsburgh has been known to throw up on themselves at home in the playoffs, like in 2015, for instance, when the Ravens went into Heinz Field and knocked them off.

Miami will need to run the ball well and try to shorten the game, which would help keep Roethisberger, Bell and Brown off the field and off the scoreboard. The less time Pittsburgh's offense spends with the ball, the better the Miami chances.

The Steelers' defense isn't all that good, but the Dolphins -- other than running back Jay Ajayi -- don't have much going for them when it comes to moving the ball and putting up points.

The betting total is 46 points. That sounds like a lot until you realize Pittsburgh is a really good bet to score at least 31. That means Miami only needs two TD's and a field goal to surpass the total.

I can't see Miami winning, but I'm not convinced Pittsburgh is good enough in all three facets of the game to blow them out, so let's take the Steelers to win, but Miami to cover with ten meaningless fourth quarter points, as Big Ben and Company come out on top, 30-24.


NEW YORK GIANTS AT GREEN BAY (-4.5), 4:40 PM, SUNDAY -- You'd think this is going to be the best game of the weekend, what with the Giants coming in at 11-5 and Green Bay winning their last six games to claim the NFC North at 10-6.

The biggest stat of Sunday's game has nothing to do with this season, even: New York went to Lambeau Field in both 2008 and 2012 and won playoff games in Green Bay en-route to Super Bowl titles.

In other words, the Giants will not be afraid of the Packers on Sunday.

And New York also knows that if they win and Seattle wins, the Giants get to face the Cowboys in Dallas next weekend. Guess who went 2-0 against the Cowboys this season? Right, the Giants did.

So, the Giants have a lot of good mo-jo working in their favor at Lambeau Field. The Packers, meanwhile, are basking in the glow of that six-game winning streak but by no means are they invincible at home these days.

Green Bay does have the league's second best quarterback, but he's going to be tested big time on Sunday by an improving Giants defense that is superb against the pass.

And New York's offense, much like Green Bay's, is capable of striking for the big play at any minute when the ever-dangerous Odell Beckham Jr. has his head in the game.

The betting total here is 44.5, which seems a tad low, particularly when you consider the Miami-Pittsburgh total is 1.5 points higher at 46.

Because I don't think all four home teams are winning this weekend, for one, and because the Giants' pass defense is so good, second, I'm taking New York to win this one outright, 22-20.

Sorry Packers fans...looks like the third time won't be the charm for Aaron Rodgers this weekend.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 6th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Thursday
January 5
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Issue 5
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grayson allen sits for one game and now it's a federal case


Here's my confession: I'm not a Duke hater. Never have been.

I get it, by the way. I see where it's really easy to dislike their basketball program, in the same way it's easy to dislike the Yankees, Red Sox and Patriots.

But I figured I'd say that from the start: I'm just not a Duke hater.

And I'm certainly not pro-Duke, either. I don't give two hoots about Duke either way, win or lose.

In case you missed it, Duke basketball player Grayson Allen returned to the lineup on Wednesday evening after missing one game via suspension for his role in tripping an Elon player back on December 21. It was the third such "tripping offense" levied against Allen in the last year or so.

And everyone, everywhere tore into Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski for allowing Allen back in the lineup so quickly.

The four-letter network and a slew of their analysts were simply aghast at the fact that Allen's suspension was only one game.

Your Thursday reading time will be filled with internet and newspaper columns from "experts" who chastise Krzyzewski for his soft punishment of Allen.

Grayson Allen contributed 15 points for Duke last night in their win over Georgia Tech, his first game since being suspended on December 22 for a flagrant tripping foul against Elon.

It's all overblown. And it's been that way since December 21.

Allen didn't punch a girl in a coffee shop like that Oklahoma football player did.

He didn't steal a bunch of clothing from a Belk department store like that goof from Arkansas did prior to last week's -- ahem -- Belk Bowl.

Grayson Allen didn't commit a crime, cheat on an exam, or embarrass the institution on social media with a photo of a gas mask and marijuana smoke billowing from his mouth.

He tripped a kid in a basketball game.

I've seen far worse flagrant fouls in the heat of the moment in college basketball than Allen's act against Elon a couple of weeks ago.

And, let's all swallow the honesty-pill here and admit this: If Grayson Allen played for Colorado State, Stony Brook or Miami of Ohio, you wouldn't have ever heard of him and his serial-tripping issues.

This is all about one thing: Duke.

Now, this isn't to excuse Allen for his behavior. He has something going on upstairs, some sort of mis-wiring, if you will, that leads him to sticking out his foot or leg to impede an opponent's progress.

It's wrong.

It's a foul, obviously.

And someone, whether that's Coach K, the school or a therapist of some kind, needs to work with the kid to get him to understand his behavioral patterns and why he does what he does.

Oh, and then there's this: The only way you're going to see if time away from the team, the suspension and, perhaps, some professional guidance has helped the kid out is to get him back in there, under fire, and see how he handles it.

It's a small sample size, but Allen's on-court behavior was impeccable last night in his return against Georgia Tech. If that matters at all.

That said -- I've been amazed at how people around the country portrayed the whole scenario as some sort of heinous act when Allen was guilty of tripping that Elon kid right before Christmas. It's like he was brandishing a pair of brass knuckles under the basket and quickly flicked a kid in the family jewels as they jockeyed for rebounding position.

This isn't all that different than DeflateGate and the witch hunt against Tom Brady, truth be told. If the league discovered that Brock Osweiler was deflating footballs for the Texans, no one would have cared. Hell, Aaron Rodgers admitted to the media three days after the story broke about Brady and the Patriots that he actually over-inflates his footballs "and hopes the refs don't catch it" and guess how many people were up in arms over that? Right. Zero.

This is all about Duke and the venom people have for that school and that basketball program. And, like I said above, I get it. They've been a target, an easy target at that, for running on three decades now.

And I'll repeat, so no one mistakes this as me exonerating Grayson Allen: What he's done is wrong, just like it's wrong when you're down by 12 with two minutes left and a kid on the other team goes in for a lay-up and you tear into him like Amanda Nunes battered Ronda Rousey last Saturday.

A hard foul, an intentional foul, a flagrant foul, a "tripping" foul -- they're all cut from the same cloth.

But if Grayson Allen played at Western Kentucky, you couldn't possibly care less about the story.

This is a chance to hold Mike Krzyzewski to some sort of silly standard, as if he's supposed to kick Allen off the team or sit him down for 20 games so the young man can "really learn his lesson".

I see it this way: Every school in the country should be held to a high standard, given the truckloads of money they're importing and the swimming pools and summer homes they're all buying while the kids run around and play football and basketball representing said institution.

So let's not single out Duke here and expect them to suddenly become the staple of decency and morality on a subject like a basketball player tripping an opponent.

Do you think Villanova coach Jay Wright would kick Josh Hart off the team if he tripped three opposing players over the course of a year? Let me verify that for you: He would not.

Every coach in America -- at a big time program like Duke, Villanova, Kentucky, et al -- would likely proceed in the same fashion as Krzyzewski did with Allen. No one in the country is kicking a starting player off their team for something as benign as this tripping situation at Duke.

No one's getting kicked off the team...because college athletics aren't about discipline, conforming and being a model citizen. They're about competing and putting a good product on television. And complying with Title IX to keep the pesky government from getting involved.

Coach K did, by the way, strip Allen's captaincy from him in the wake of TripGate. Who knows how important that designation was to the kid, but give Krzyzewski credit for doing something more than just suspending him for a game.

For all we know, having that captaincy taken away might be the impetus for Allen to get his act together. That's a pretty lofty note in your college bio and I suspect you can get lots of girls in Durham if you're the captain of the basketball team at Duke University.

No matter what he says to the contrary, my friends, Coach K is mostly interested in one thing: Winning basketball games.

He has long since passed the test of time as a coach who "cares" about the education his players receive. Early on in his career, he wore that merit badge well, demanding his players fulfill their 4-year committment and walk across that stage at Duke University.

That ship sailed back in about 2002 or so, though. Coach K might still to this day say he wants them all to graduate and get their degree, but he knows, for the most part, he's not in control of that scenario any longer.

Duke basketball players will finish school and earn a degree if that's what they decide to do. Mike Krzyzewski isn't keeping them in school any more than you and I would or could. He's paid to run an upstanding program (which, he does) and win basketball games (which, he does).

Suspending Grayson Allen for a game (Duke lost that one, on the road at Virginia Tech, remember) was the right thing to do. Will that suspension help calm the kid down? I have no idea, because I don't know why he's tripping people in the first place.

But I also know a mountain was made out of a molehill, which is pretty typical anytime Duke or "K" are in the wrong on an issue.

This is the gospel: If Grayson Allen played at DePaul, you'd be reading something else here at #DMD right now.

Because no one would care about Grayson Allen at DePaul.

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from the desk of
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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.


John Harbaugh shocked a lot of people in town on Tuesday when he announced that all of the organization's incumbent coordinators would return to the team in 2017.

A lot of people took that as a sign that nothing will change with the 8-8 team, but the coaching staff isn't the only thing that can change. There's still an entire offeason worth of roster moves yet to happen, and this represents the biggest chance for real change going forward.

As Drew has said repeatedly; This is a team that needs better players.

While it's easy to for fans to jump all over coaches and demand change for the sake of it, replacing coaches when a mediocre roster plays to an 8-8 record largely amounts to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Coaching matters in the NFL, don't get me wrong, but when the ball actually gets snapped, schemes, designs, and play-calls are only as good as the players executing them.

That "worst play call ever" from the Eagles near debacle? Darren Waller was actually open for a near certain touchdown on the play but Joe Flacco stared down Steve Smith, taking the zone defense right to him, and through it into the arms of an underneath defender he never saw rather than finding the actually open receiver for a big gain.

The reduced impact from Terrell Suggs and other players on the defensive side of the ball is an issue the Ravens must address in 2017.

The defensive failure against Pittsburgh the next week? As Russell Street Report's Tyler Lombardi noted the week after, the Ravens' defense actually did a really good job containing Antonio Brown and the Steelers' passing attack, as they generally do for the most part. That is, right up until the Steelers went into the two-minute hurry up offense, forcing the defense into more vanilla play calls and putting the onus on the players to beat their man and make stops.

And when it's time for the Ravens defense to do that, we've seen over and over since 2012, really, that this team just doesn't have the talent either in the secondary or pass rush to pass the test.

So, that is the main challenge facing this organization in an offseason where they're trying to get back to the postseason and the realm of the league's elite teams: An honest appraisal of the way in which their talent evaluation and personnel decision making has failed over the past 5-7 years, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

The offense has needs, of course, especially for a center who won't single-handedly indict the entire offensive line the way Jeremy Zuttah did this year. But for the most part, improving the offense's production is going to begin and end with improving the play of Joe Flacco.

Adding another good pass catcher or two would be nice, but it's not going to do anyone any good if Flacco is overthrowing open guys downfield from his back foot or tossing gimme interceptions.

Defensively, however, this team has been in need of an infusion of talent for a long time.

That they finished the year 6th in DVOA anyway is a real testament to Dean Pees' ability as a coach, and a pretty clear signal that changing coordinators isn't likely to help them very much.

Ultimately a defensive scheme can only get you so far; you need good players to beat the guy in front of them and make stops, and for the past six years the team just hasn't had enough guys like that in key positions.

The biggest need right now is the same as it was this time last year and, well, this time for each of the past 7-8 years: cornerback. The Ravens are a team that still that imagines themselves winning games with their defense, and it's clear that if you're going to do that in today's NFL, you need really good cornerbacks who can lock down the other team's best receivers consistently and force the opposing quarterback to go deeper into his progressions and throw into even tighter windows.

Seattle, Denver, New England's championship defense: The common denominator here is All-Pro, household names at the cornerback position (and good safeties too for that measure).

Here in Baltimore, Lardarius Webb was a really good cornerback before the knee injuries took their toll, and Jimmy Smith has often fit that bill when he's on the field, though frankly that's just too infrequent to label him as someone you can depend on in this role.

Beyond that, the team has struggled mightily at drafting and developing defensive backs, and they've been particularly bad at finding corners, usually diving into other teams' castoffs to fill openings there. That's just not good enough, and the unit's consistently woeful performance in terms of holding late leads speaks for itself.

The edge rush is in similar straights, and another area where the front office just hasn't had much success at finding new players to fill roles. This year, Kamalei Correa joined the parade of disappointing second round linebackers picked by the team in recent years when the raw, athletic player couldn't even make it onto the field as a situational pass rusher.

The Ravens do deserve credit for developing Pernell McPhee, who has become one of the very best at the position in the entire NFL, but unfortunately they didn't have the foresight to plan on keeping him in town, and couldn't even make a serious attempt to keep him beyond 2014, relying on aging veterans Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil instead. Those guys are still nice players, but at their age they're just not the impact, every down players they once were, and it shows up consistently when the Ravens need to get pressure with only four rushers.

The biggest question here is how to address these shortcomings, and who to blame.

And the most likely answer is also the most uncomfortable one for the decision makers at 1 Winning Drive: General Manager Ozzie Newsome.

I can't bring myself to fully condemn the long time Ravens' GM; he's still very good at evaluating certain positions and he understands value in the draft as well as anyone in the league. That might not sound all that sexy, but it's also why the Ravens have been "rebuilding" with 8-8 seasons since the Super Bowl rather than hitting a period of 5-7 win seasons (barring the injury riddled 2015 campaign, obviously) like most franchises do when their competitive windows close.

Under Ozzie, the Ravens have been pretty remarkable at finding and developing linemen on both sides of the ball, and middle linebackers too. But since the diastrous Sergio Kindle/Terrance Cody draft of 2010, a pretty clear pattern has emerged: The Ravens stockpile these types of players, put an inordinate value on run-defense, and simply do not do a good job of drafting defensive backs or edge rushers at all.

That's a really big problem, because contemporary defense are built around cornerbacks and edge rushers. If the Ravens are going to get back to having championship caliber defenses that don't need an historically great playoff run from their quarterback to make it all the way in January, they're going to have to figure out how to address this problem.

That doesn't necessarily mean they have to fire Ozzie or make sweeping changes to placards in the front office, but if the guys in charge of talent evaluation now just can't identify talent at these key positions, it may require reconfiguring the structure and personnel there in order to bring in executives and scouts who can.

That, much more than swapping out the guys with the headsets and the playsheets, is the kind of "change" this franchise requires in 2017.

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umbc hoops hosts conference opener tonight vs. binghamtom


Remember I told you this come America East conference tournament time in March.

UMBC has a real chance at having a special kind of season in 2016-2017.

I guess it's easy to say that when you look at their 9-4 start -- the best in program history -- but as I see the Retrievers, they're much more about potential and less about what their current record suggests.

Dulaney High School product Will Darley is enjoying a terrific senior year for UMBC, who open conference play at home tonight.

They have three legitimate starters, guys that are going to be forces in America East this season, plus another, Rodney Elliott, who may or may not be part of the team moving forward.

Jairus Lyles is one of the three best offensive players in the entire conference. He won't score 22 every night, but he's going to get you 22 per-game over a 5-game stretch, you can just about bet on that.

Joe Sherburne now leads the country -- that's the entire country, folks -- in three-point shooting accuracy at 55.7%. The kid has a nice game, knows when to shoot it, and works hard to get open for his opportunity.

Three years ago, some skinny, tall kid from Dulaney showed up at UMBC and I thought to myself, "How are they ever going to turn that guy into a legitimate threat?" Today, Will Darley (Dulaney HS) is one of the most improved players I've seen in Baltimore in well over a decade.

He's the 6'8" guy who can shoot a 3-pointer, make it, then block a shot down at the other end moments later.

Those three guys give UMBC a puncher's chance every night.

And if Elliott returns from his "hiatus" and can play to the system set forth by Coach Ryan Odom, UMBC might be a real threat -- I mean, a real one -- to make some noise in the America East conference tournament in March.

The Retrievers open conference play tonight at the RAC against Binghamton. Tip off is 7 pm. I'd go if I were you.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 6th, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Wednesday
January 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 4
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most likely reason harbaugh kept mornhinweg? no one better was available


If you came here today hoping to find me foaming at the mouth and rabid with anger at John Harbaugh for retaining offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, you're going to be disappointed.

I'm surprised, yes, but not angry about it.

I assumed Mornhinweg would be replaced mainly because he was the team's short-term solution once Marc Trestman was shown the door in October. If they would have wanted Mornhinweg to be the permanent offensive coordinator they would have hired him for the gig over Trestman prior to the 2015 season.

So, mostly "just because", I figured Mornhinweg wouldn't return in 2017.

But I understand Harbaugh's position and can make pretty good sense out of his reason for not making the change there, or at the defensive coordinator spot.

Who else is out there that's available right now and ready to come aboard?

And please, don't say something dumb like, "Anyone's better than Mornhinweg or Pees".

That's simply not true.

It turns out those who thought these two wouldn't be together in 2017 -- including us here at #DMD -- were wrong. Marty Mornhinweg and Joe Flacco are both still part of the Ravens organization, John Harbaugh announced on Tuesday.

Harbaugh, perhaps reminded by Steve Bisciotti, who knows a thing or two about hiring and firing personnel and staffers, knows the first rule of thumb when you terminate someone is to have someone else ready to replace them.

I don't see any names out there that would definitively change the Ravens offense in lieu of retaining Mornhinweg.

That's probably more of an indictment on the available talent than anything else.

Everywhere I turned on Tuesday, I kept hearing the name Rick Dennison, the current Denver Broncos offensive coordinator who is likely about to be looking for a new job in the wake of Gary Kubiak's sudden resignation.

Rick Dennison...

How was that Broncos offense this year?

I know, I know, "They didn't have any good offensive players, Drew."

That's right, they didn't. No running game, no "real" quarterback and only a wide receiver or two worth a hoot. Even the "great" Rick Dennison couldn't make chicken salad out of that.

As for Dennison, who's to say he'd come to Baltimore anyway? Maybe he thinks he can get the head coaching job in Buffalo. Or San Diego. Or San Francisco.

And, here's something to seriously consider. How attractive is the Ravens offensive coordinator gig these days? I mean, it pays well and all, and the lunches at The Castle are off the charts, but if the Ravens don't make the playoffs next season, the whole coaching staff is getting the boot.

We all pretty much agree on that, right?

Who wants to uproot their family to walk into that sort of situation?

Will we see this Joe Flacco in 2017 now that Mornhinweg is returning?

Please remember this: I'm not saying the coaches in Baltimore are blameless. They have a job to do and if they can't do it well, changes have to be considered.

But first and foremost, you must have players. If you handed over Brock Osweiler to Bill Belichick tomorrow, New England wouldn't be 14-2.

It's mostly about the players, folks. I guess I'll just keep saying that until next September. If the Ravens want to have a better team next year, they need to improve their roster.

You think the Browns would have been 8-8 with Belichick at the helm this season? Not hardly.

In Harbaugh's case, here and now, he probably sees Mornhinweg's return as a case of "better the devil you know than the devil you don't."

And he definitely looks around the league and doesn't see anyone worth bringing in who is immediately a game-changer for either his offense or his defense.

The head coach might even look at the team's last three games that mattered in 2016 and see an offense that scored 23 (at New England), 27 (vs. Philadelphia) and 27 points (at Pittsburgh) and wonder how much of the blame for the late-season fold-up can be pinned on his team's offense when they scored 77 points in those three games -- yet went 1-2?

Plus, Harbaugh knows for sure that he could bring back the ghost of Vince Lombardi to run the team's offense or defense and if the Ravens fail to make the playoffs next season, Steve Bisciotti is going to be looking for a new head coach.

That's my assessment, anyway.

Harbs is smart enough to see this for what it is. He's on a one-year "courtesy trial" to get this thing fixed in Baltimore. If not for his 9-year pedigree and run of early success that garnered Steve Bisciotti a Super Bowl ring, Harbaugh would have been canned on Monday after a 31-33 record over the last four seasons.

Or will we see more of this Joe Flacco in 2017?

Bisciotti likely believes Harbaugh has earned this pass and one-year reprieve, a gesture of thanks, perhaps, for delivering Charm City a title in 2012.

So, walking this one-year tight rope on his terms, Harbaugh probably wants people around him that he trusts.

Unlike Brian Billick, who had players, assistant coaches and coordinators backstabbing him to the media, owner and front office, Harbaugh has, if nothing else, a group of coaches who believe in him and a group that he, in turn, trusts.

That might not be important to you. But it's important to Harbaugh.

Ask yourself the same question: If you knew, today, your job was in jeopardy, would you rather have people around you that respected you and that you, in turn, trusted and believed in? Or would you rather have someone new to the company with whom you had no real prior working relationship and could only "hope" they'd follow your lead?

By the way, I also have a hunch that Joe Flacco might have had a say in the matter of Mornhinweg returning. Whether it was a full-on endorsement or Flacco's classic shoulder shrug followed by "Eh, it's fine by me if you want to bring him back", I assume Flacco was consulted, albeit perhaps unofficially, by Harbaugh.

In the end, though, the head coach made it clear yesterday that the decision was his and his alone.

"Ozzie and Steve both left the coaching decisions up to me," Harbaugh claimed yesterday.

So, he went with continuity.

Given the alternatives, I feel like that was his best move.

Changing coordinators just for the sake of changing of them is like moving into a different neighborhood because you don't like the fact that the mail doesn't get delivered on your street until 4:00 pm.

You'll ultimately discover something about the new guy (neighborhood) you don't like -- and you're back to square one.

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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.

Anyone in Baltimore expecting big changes from the Ravens organization after another 8-8 season got a big splash of cold water in the face on Tuesday when John Harbaugh flatly announced that all three of the teams current coordinators would be back for the 2017 season.

This wasn't entirely surprising, of course.

Jerry Rosburg was something of a no-brainer, and the special teams unit performed really well all season in every role that didn't involve Devin Hester.

On defense there was some thinking that Dean Pees might have retired, and he is something of a controversial figure in town, but the defensive unit just finished the season 6th in the league in DVOA, Pees is well regarded around the league and in the national media, and there's really no good case to be made that any other coach could do a better job with the available talent.

The offense, though, is a different matter entirely, as just about everyone was shocked that interim coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was given the job on a full time basis. After such a disappointing offensive season it seemed a given to many that the team would look to go in a new direction, and the announcement that the "interim" tag would be removed without even conducting outside interviews certainly set off a flurry of anger and indignation on social media Tuesday.

Can Marty Mornhinweg help re-create this big moment for John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco?

It is worth giving Mornhinweg credit where it's deserved: As Philadelphia's offensive coordinator he ran a top 12 offense every season from 2006-2011, so the implied perception here in Baltimore that he's merely a Harbaugh buddy whose coaching career consists solely of his failed run as Lions' head coach is wrong.

Mornhinweg is a good football coach who has a record of being the guy in charge of highly productive units, even when he's had to work with quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. There's no reason to think he can't build a good unit here in Baltimore, and frankly I haven't seen too many obviously great alternatives discussed in the last few days either. Which is to be expected, as fans seem to generally want change for the sake of change, and seem to be drawn to shiny objects as much as anything.

Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt, and Rick Dennison are all recognizable names, but each comes with obvious red flags of their own. There's no Gary Kubiak out there this year.

Greg Roman, most recently with the Jets, was rejected out of hand by many for the simple and laughable reason that he's spent much of his career working with Jim Harbaugh. That's right: Having connections to one of the 10 or 15 best football coaches in the world, who's had big time success at Stanford, Michigan, and made the Super Bowl with the 49ers, is supposed to be a disqualifying factor for a prospective hire.

That's because the predominant theory is that John Harbaugh only hires "old friends" that he has some sort of familial connection too. Even by the standards of inane Harbaugh criticism this is a particularly unfair line. For one thing, if "connections" is going to be so all encompassing as to include anyone who has worked with either Jim or Jack Harbaugh as well as John, we're going to be disqualifying a lot of coaches, many very good ones, right out of the gate.

For another, most head coaches are inclined towards coaches they've previously worked with in some capacity when hiring coordinators. Most of all, however, it rests on the hopelessly flawed premise that Harbaugh's coordinators have for the most part been failures at the job.

In fact, nearly all of Harbaugh's chief assistants have been mostly successful in the role, four of them (if you count Rex Ryan) have gone on to head coaching jobs elsewhere, and only Marc Trestman can really be called a failure. And even then, the Ravens offense was 20th in DVOA at the end of the season, despite a slew of injuries to key starters up to and including Joe Flacco.

The fact of the matter is that coaching really isn't this team's problem, for the most part.

And to that end, there was a lot more to be concerned about after listening to the coach's presser on Tuesday. The most concerning aspect of the remarks was all of the attention devoted, yet again, to the running game, as well as Harbaugh's stated desire for the team to add yet another running back.

Yes they have Kenneth Dixon AND Terrance West, who both played well this season. And Buck Allen is still on the roster too! But Harbaugh wants a "style" back, because this entire organization is ten years behind the rest of the league when it comes to offense.

It's not that running the ball doesnt matter, necessarily, but how you design effective run plays has definitely changed. It's just too easy for modern defensive players to stop classic straight-ahead run concepts (unless you have a uniquely talented running back-offensive line combo like Dallas anyway). Efficient run games in today's NFL are mostly built on spreading teams out and using lots of misdirection to create space and seams to run/block in or effectively mixing in the occasional run when the opposing defense is concerned about your passing attack.

And above all else, in 2017 in the NFL, having an effective passing game is still crucial to having an effective offense overall.

With the Ravens, on the other hand, we get more usage of the fullback than most other teams (to the point that the fullback got so many snaps it's effectively run Kamar Aiken out of town just a year after he caught 75 passes for a 5-11 team), we get Ozzie Newsome telling us you have to run the ball to win the AFC North every year, no matter how patently wrong that statement is, and then we spend seemingly every year with fans screaming that the rushing attack is terrible, and desperately needs to be fixed.

Oh, and the offensive coordinator should be fired because he didn't call enough running plays!

I don't really want to defend the decision to retain Marty Mornhinweg immediately. Honestly, I didn't like that he got the job right away, and that no one else was even interviewed. But at this point I don't think it matters that much.

Who the offensive coordinator is matters.

It matters a lot.

But it's also clear that it's not the scheme or play-calling that represents the biggest problem for the Ravens' offense, and if Harbaugh, Ozzie, and the rest of the organization really believe that they need a running back more than they need a pass catcher who can be the kind of target who wins enough fights for balls in the air to help them convert a much higher percentage of touchdowns in the red zone, then there simply isn't going to be anything any potential offensive coordinator could do to meaningfully turn around this unit.

On the other hand, if Joe Flacco can improve his performance (something Harbaugh did acknowledge needs to happen) and the team can sufficiently change their outlook on offense to bring in the required weapons, Mornhinweg has enough of a track record that there's no reason to think he can't build a good offense here given the chance to be a permanent coordinator.

Even if he committed the cardinal sin of working with John Harbaugh prior to 2008.

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jerry's toyota, #dmd team up to help essex-stembridge rec and little league baseball


Last summer here at #DMD, we proudly announced a joint effort with our friends from Jerry's Toyota in which local sports leagues and organizations in need of funding were asked to submit their "wish list" for projects that needed to be fulfilled for the 2017 season.

After reviewing the submissions throughout the Fall, a winner was selected: Essex-Stembridge Rec and the Stembridge Hitmen, coached by John Davies.

On behalf of Jerry's Toyota, #DMD presented Davies with a check for $1,500 on Tuesday of this week and Davies will oversee a project to renovate and improve two baseball fields in the Essex area located at Renaissance Park and Martindale Park.

Renaissance Park in Essex.

The fields are used constantly throughout the spring and summer months for Little League and youth baseball, plus Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School calls the Renaissance Park field home for their boys' baseball games every spring.

Because of their uneven nature and longtime wear and tear, the fields are rendered nearly useless for a day or two following one of our typical Baltimore summer thunderstorms.

Upon my trip to the fields on a rainy Tuesday, for example, I found pools of water everywhere and a completely unplayable facility. New dirt and clay -- plus a lot of manpower to put it down and maintain -- will go a long way to helping bring life back to the two fields.

Davies is a longtime coach in the Essex area who knows the fields and their needs all too well.

"Both places need a lot of work," he told me on Tuesday when I visited both locations and presented him with the check on behalf of Jerry's Toyota. "More than anything, they just need to be leveled out in some spots and then reinforced with clay and new dirt, something we don't have the budget for."

Enter Jerry's Toyota, who in 2016 donated over $300,000 to local organizations and civic groups.

"We're so happy to be involved with this project," states Jerry's Toyota Director of Marketing Bill Bolander, who also helped spearhead #DMD's annual Winter Apparel Drive last month that supported the men at Helping Up Mission. "Jerry's Toyota not only wants to give back to our local communities, we feel it's our duty to be involved. Youth sports and Little League baseball are both near and dear to our heart at Jerry's, so this project to help Essex-Stembridge Rec and Stembridge Baseball is very rewarding. We look forward to seeing the renovated fields in April!"

Martindale Park in Essex.

#DMD is equally dedicated to projects like these where youth sports reap the benefits. We'll be holding a summer youth golf camp in 2017, presented by Jerry's Toyota, where area children will learn the game of golf, the rules and basic etiquettes, plus get to understand the "business" of golf and how they can make a career of it in the future.

These kind of projects are just as important to us here at #DMD as is writing about the Ravens, Orioles and local and national sports here at #DMD. Getting to know people in the community like John Davies and rewarding him for his years of hard work are critical. Without people like Davies, our local youth sports leagues wouldn't thrive.

We're looking forward to seeing John Davies and his Stembridge Hitmen play this spring and summer at the newly renovated fields, and hope everyone who plays at either Renaissance Park or Martindale Park enjoys their refurbished facility in 2017 and beyond.

Thanks once again to our friends at Jerry's Toyota for their generosity. They truly are a wonderful "community partner" for all of us.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 3rd, four teams have registered, leaving us with 10 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Tuesday
January 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 3
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the ravens created this monster


A Ravens staffer I communicated with on Monday had an interesting observation about the aftermath of the 2016 campaign and the fervor with which the fan-base reacted to an 8-8 season.

"They expect us to win every game," he said. "And when we don't, they're furious."

Then he added, without hardly taking a breath. "We're exactly the same way. We want to win every game and when we don't, we're beyond furious about it."

That struck me as a funny, but legitimate, overview of what it's like to a fan of the Baltimore Ravens.

Folks in town think the team should win every game. Or at the very least, they sure do come across that way.

The odd thing about it? The Ravens created that monster.

Ravens fans got spoiled early when it took just five years for the team to win the Super Bowl after moving to Baltimore from Cleveland.

The first three years or so of Ravens football were nothing more than a date at the roller skating rink. No one was serious, hardly a kiss was offered, and people in town were just happy to have the NFL back again after having nothing to do on Sunday from 1984 through 1995.

When Brian Billick showed up, everything changed. And then, almost regretably, the Ravens up and won the Super Bowl in their second season under Billick. More people attended a training camp practice on a Wednesday afternoon in Westminster than would show up at an Orioles game later that night at Camden Yards -- circa 2004 or so. This city was completely and madly in love with the Ravens.

Billick's team remained competitive and had a real chance at advancing to the 2006 Super Bowl (played in 2007) before Steve McNair turned into Kyle Boller one Saturday afternoon in Baltimore and the Colts sent the 13-3 Ravens home early en-route to their only championship under Peyton Manning.

Two years later, Billick was gone and John Harbaugh arrived.

Like his predecessor, Harbaugh also captured a Super Bowl title and made two other AFC title game appearances in his first four seasons in Charm City.

Everyone in town got used to winning football from 2000 through 2012.

There were some down years, yes, but they were few and far between. The Ravens weren't a dynasty, but labeling them "perennial contenders" would have been more than fair over that 12-year period.

Since winning the Super Bowl, the Ravens have gone 31-33 and missed the playoffs three out of four years.

And now, the grumbling is starting to get louder, like it did for Billick in 2007 and 2008 before he was finally jettisoned in favor of Harbaugh.

The ticket buyers are getting restless. So, too, are the corporate sponsors, I assume.

This isn't Orioles baseball, where the team went fourteen years without sniffing the playoffs and were largely overlooked around here for the better part of a half-dozen years or so.

The Ravens are used to winning. They eat, sleep and breathe it. Failing to win is eating them up inside.

Losing never seemed to bother the Orioles. So, as it turned out, the fans didn't really let it bother them all that much, either. They just stopped going to the games.

Football fans in this town are the opposite. They react with venom. And anger. In some cases -- well, really, in a lot of cases -- they say a bunch of dumb stuff about the team, the players and the coaches, but that's mostly a by-product of passion, not lack of smarts.

Baseball and football are dramatically different in that probably half the baseball games in a season get played in some sort of obscurity, whether that's a road series in Seattle that you simply don't follow on a nightly basis or a homestand that takes place while you're on vacation in Ocean City.

It's hard to follow all 162 games in a baseball season and have the same passionate "fandom" for each of them. That's six months worth of watching. It's tough to do.

Football, on the other hand is played sixteen times -- almost always on Sunday -- from September until the end of December.

Monday and Tuesday you yap back and forth with your friends and family members on social media about the previous Sunday's game. Wednesday you might take the day off from yapping. And on Thursday and Friday, you're back at it again, talking about how the Ravens need to play more cover-2 against the Bengals this Sunday, or run more crossing routes against the undersized Cleveland linebackers.

It takes dedication to follow a baseball team all season long.

It doesn't take much to be an ardent follower of the local football team.

And because the Ravens have won so much, it's been "fun" to be a fan of them over the years.

From 1998 through 2012, it was dreadful to be a fan of the Orioles. There was nothing in it for you, unless you liked going to the ballpark and seeing the Yankees beat them 11-3 in front of 28,000 fans dressed in Derek Jeter uniform tops and 8,000 Baltimore baseball supporters getting ragged on for being in their own ballpark.

Since 2012, though, it's been "fun" again to root for the Orioles and you're seeing more orange in town than ever before.

Five years after he arrived, John Harbaugh delivered Baltimore another Super Bowl trophy by beating San Francisco in New Orleans.

Interestingly enough, even now, when the Birds remain relatively inactive in the free agent market and do next-to-nothing to try and improve the team, there's not much push-back from the fan base. They're still in that "roller skating rink" dating cycle. Now, if the Orioles continue to win for three or four more years and don't make it to the World Series in the meantime, people in town are going to start getting antsy.

Antsy, like they are now with the Ravens.

As soon as the people start calling for John Harbaugh to be fired, you know they've just about reached their frustration peak.

Two straight losing seasons is enough for the football fans in this town. Sure, it's a little too knee-jerk for my taste, and you likely wouldn't see this kind of over-reaction in New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay or Kansas City, but you either put up or shut up in Baltimore, pal.

Juxtaposed against the tepid outcry from baseball fans in town who didn't really care that the Orioles lost in 2002, 2006, 2010, etc., it's hard to figure out why everyone is so quick to lash out at the Ravens during this "slump" they've been in since 2013.

Then, it dawns on me.

The Ravens have created this monster.

They won too much, too soon, and too easily, really.

People got used to it.

And now, they expect it to happen almost automatically.

This does not mean fans of the Ravens are wrong for being critical of the team's last four years.

It also doesn't mean fans are wrong for asking the team to "fix what's ailing you" in the same way it was never wrong for fans of the Orioles -- what ones were left -- to demand improvement and accountability from the baseball franchise circa 2006.

And it most certainly doesn't mean the Ravens believe they operate in some sort of vacuum that leaves them exempt from the wrath of media, supporters and ticket buyers alike.

What it does mean, though, is this: No one wins forever. You can be great for a few years, stumble backwards for a year or two, and rebound back to prominence. The other teams are trying, too. At some point, no matter how hard you work, you're going to lose.

No one wins forever.

Just ask Tiger Woods.

And while the Ravens are in this down period, don't think for one moment they're not exhausting themselves trying to figure out how to fix it.

You might think firing the GM is the answer.

They probably don't agree with you.

You might think firing the head coach is the answer.

They probably don't agree with that thought, either.

You might think turning the whole thing upside down and starting from scratch is the way to go.

They definitely don't agree with you on that idea.

But they have plenty of thoughts on how to turn it around and here's what I'm going to do this off-season: I'm going to trust the Ravens.

They've proved themselves right far more times than they've proved themselves wrong over the last 21 seasons.

To me, they deserve a chance to turn this around on their terms.

After all, they created this monster.

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contender or pretender in 2017?


It's never too soon to start looking ahead to next year, especially if you're one of the twenty teams that didn't make the post-season in 2016.

So, here's a quick capsule on all 32 NFL teams. Agree? Disagree? Let's us know in the "Comments" section below:

AFC CONTENDERS --

New England -- Duh...

Miami -- Not convinced Tannehill's legit, Ajayi sure is.

Pittsburgh -- Let's hope their defense doesn't improve.

Baltimore -- Have to find players who can chase the QB.

Tennessee -- A player or two away from being a threat.

Houston -- How they went 9-7 without a QB is amazing.

Kansas City -- On a nice 2-year run in K.C.

Oakland -- As long as Carr recovers, they'll be fine.


AFC PRETENDERS --

Cleveland -- Hard pressed to win 5 games next year.

Cincinnati -- If they get a real coach, watch out.

Buffalo -- Look at the mess Rex left them wtih.

New York Jets -- Nowhere to go but up. But when?

Indianapolis -- Need big help on the offensive line.

Jacksonville -- The re-building officially begins.

Denver -- No QB, no chance. And no, "Romo" isn't a cure-all.

San Diego -- They need to rebuild, too. Likely in L.A.


NFC CONTENDERS --

Dallas -- Won't repeat 2016, but they're back.

New York Giants -- Could win it all next year.

Philadelphia -- On the comeback trail in Philly.

Atlanta -- Can they do it two years in a row?

Tampa Bay -- Getting closer every year. 2017 might be it.

Green Bay -- As long as Rodgers is there, they'll win.

Detroit -- Looks like they've turned the corner. Finally.

Minnesota -- Healthy Bridgewater and Peterson gives them hope.

Seattle -- Might be near the end of their run.

Arizona -- Could be a surprise next year.


NFC PRETENDERS --

Washington -- Will take a year to recover from 2016.

Carolina -- Not with that defense.

New Orleans -- See above.

Chicago -- Need a QB and they'll start to rebound.

San Francisco -- Might not win three games next year.

Los Angeles -- They should let Eric Dickerson coach. He knows it all.


Good teams in 2016 who could stink in 2017:

1. Dallas -- No way they can they can go 13-3 again. Watch and see.

2. Oakland -- Until proven otherwise, they're still the Raiders.

3. Atlanta -- They've never been one to enjoy prosperity.

4. Seattle -- Age might start to catch up with them out there.

5. Detroit -- You still never know with them. See last Sunday at home vs. Green Bay.

Bad teams in 2016 who could surprise in 2017:

1. Philadelphia -- 7-1 at home in 2016 shows they're on the rise.

2. Tennessee -- Everyone will be keen on them in '17. They're close.

3. New Orleans -- Give Brees a few more weapons and win every game 50-44.

4. Indianapolis -- If Luck gets some weapons and their defense improves -- maybe.

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where have you gone, joe dimaggio . . . .


Some will ask, "What on earth has this piece to do with sports?" Fair question. There is an insightful sentence in Thomas Boswell's How Life Imitates the World Series: "Baseball is to our everyday experience what poetry is to common speech – a slightly elevated and concentrated form." In that vein, the answer I give, and am gonna stick to, is this: Sports is a microcosm of life.

When Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who would become our 26th president, was a little kid, he was sickly. He had severe asthma. Its frequent attacks left him frail. He had such trouble breathing that he could only sleep while propped up in bed or slouched in a chair. His wealthy parents consulted the best doctors, who advised that the child should be given various then-popular medications and that he be shielded from all physical activity and exertion. Theodore Sr., after but very little consideration, rejected these recommendations and determined instead that his son would take up boxing, rowing, polo, horseback riding, and tennis.

Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders

When the United States was preparing to fight the Spanish-American War, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Understanding that his country would soon be asking its youth to stand in harm's way, Roosevelt, age 40, resigned his prestigious position and joined the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, a unit that would see heavy combat on the front lines of that conflict, and which would become known as the Rough Riders.

Mr. Roosevelt, after serving as president, traveled to Europe, where he gave a speech in France before an assembly at the Sorbonne, one of the world's great universities. One small part of that presentation has become known as "The Man in the Arena" speech.

I remember back a few years ago, when I had the privilege to serve at the premier golf course in Maryland [Mt. Pleasant, of course], talking with another high-level employee (a cart boy, I think) who spoke of the pain of one of his granddaughters. She was the goalie on her middle-school soccer team. The team was not very good. Terrible, in fact. They always lost, and his granddaughter more often than not came home bruised and bleeding after fruitless attempts to stop the onslaught of shots on goal that came her way. She told her grandfather that it was she who bore the brunt of the criticism for the team's poor performance, and that she was thinking of quitting.

"No problem," I say. I suggested that he download Mr. Roosevelt's speech, change the word "man" to "woman" in every instance and alter the gender of the pronouns [Roosevelt gave the speech in 1910 – women weren't yet invented], and read it to his granddaughter. A few days later, he told me that, as he read the words to her, they both cried. I'm sure his tears were caused by intense pride in his son's daughter, and her tears were brought on by the awakening of her feeling of self-worth for participating rather than standing on the sidelines yapping.

I was having dinner with DF after a round of golf that day, and just happened to mention that our mutual friend had persuaded his granddaughter to remain on her soccer team by reading a 100-year-old speech to her. Intrigued, he asked what speech that was, and I told him. "Funny," says he. "I used that same speech as motivation for my Blast team before an important playoff game a few years back."

Times change. Not necessarily for the better. Neither Mr. Trump nor Mrs. Clinton, in this year's election campaign, had the qualities of statesmanship that might have inspired them to hire speechwriters capable of producing words anywhere approaching the beauty of the words you are about to read. Mr. Trump's alcohol-fueled 3:00 a.m. rants consisted of 140-character bits of vitriol posted on Twitter. The "best" that Mrs. Clinton's posse could produce, when asked what her most important asset would be as president, answered, "She's Not Him!" Before them, both President Obama and President Bush, when addressing the nation and the world, could only read from their teleprompters words of jargon and slang, often ungrammatical, and at times, nonsensical.

"Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was, 'civis Romanus sum.' Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is, 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'"

We must go back at least to Ronald Reagan's terms as president to hear words from a chief executive that were both well written and had as their purpose the desire to move us to a higher plane. Before Mr. Reagan, we must go back to John Kennedy. Thank goodness for YouTube. If you want to spend an uplifting and moving evening before your computer screen, pour yourself a tall drink and watch Mr. Kennedy's recorded speeches. When he is standing before the Brandenburg Gate in a divided city, speaking of those who assert that Communism is not an evil form of government, and he says, "Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen [Let them come to Berlin]," the hairs on your arms will stand on end. And maybe you will lament, along with me, that words like these do not now loom on our horizons.

Mr. Roosevelt's speech is long. If posted on Twitter, it would require 349 full tweets. I've put the "Man in the Arena" segment in red in case that's all you have time to read. It begins the seventh paragraph. The speech is too long to publish on this #DMD page, so I made a PDF of it. The link is the speech title below. It is 13 single-spaced pages containing 8,700 words.

We live in divisive times, and are led by those at the head of a system which at this time requires division for them to remain there. Perhaps a child with whom you would share this, or a grandchild, might remember its theses, and choose to live and compete, and even serve, in a more civilized and honorable way.

citizenship in a republic


Our friend George McDowell contributed this masterpiece today.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 2nd, three teams have registered, leaving us with 11 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Monday
January 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXX
Issue 2
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they are what their record says they are -- a .500 team


I saw a lot of people trying to make yesterday's Ravens season finale into something it wasn't intended to be.

Lots of folks on Twitter, Facebook and the internet were bellyaching about how the team "didn't come to play" in Week #17, which turned out to be a 27-10 loss to the Bengals that produced a final record of 8-8 for the Ravens in the 2016 season.

I don't know about you, but seeing the defense get torched like they did in the first half looked eerily similar to a bunch of other games I saw this season. I didn't see a whole of difference between yesterday and, say, the loss to the Raiders, the Giants, the Cowboys, the Patriots or the Steelers.

Cincinnati's offensive players were better than our defensive players. By a lot. Especially in the first half.

Here's what else I think about Sunday's finale:

The Ravens would have lost that game 27-10 whether they were winners last Sunday in Pittsburgh and playing for the division title yesterday -- or losers in Pittsburgh and playing a mop-up game on the final day of the regular season, like they did yesterday.

For whatever reason, Cincinnati matches up well with the Ravens, and that's even if A.J. Green, Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert aren't playing.

You know how the Ravens just seem to match up well against the Steelers year in and year out? That's how the Bengals are with the Ravens. They have Baltimore's number.

So, I might be in the minority in town, but I'm not going to jump up and down and howl at the moon about the Ravens getting their asses kicked yesterday. I'm just not.

Their season was over last Sunday when Antonio Brown's outstretched arm ended their playoff hopes.

They put on a good face all week, said the right things, and obligated themselves to trying to go out on a good note, but human nature took over, as I saw it. They just weren't that interested in competing in the first half.

One of these guys is guaranteed a job in Baltimore in 2017, the other will likely be unemployed sometime this week. Hint: The guy in the red is safe. The other guy is offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

You can blame that on John Harbaugh if you want, but at some point, the men who run on the field have to be held accountable. You're either into it, and good enough, or not into it, and not good enough. Dennis Pitta said afterwards, "We had a great week of practice. We were ready to go in warm ups. Then when the game started, we didn't have the same energy for some reason."

At the end of the day, it's a loss, just like the rest of the losses they suffered in 2016. They all count the same. I'm far more worried about how they got to 8-7 on the season than I am how they finished the season at 8-8.

Had the Ravens won yesterday, 30-10, people around town would have said, "Who cares? The Bengals didn't have half their team. They weren't trying at all."

It was a typical week 17 game where neither team had anything left in their cannons. It was a game, someone won, someone lost, and that was that.

I feel like I have to mention this every week to a lot of the neanderthals in social media who don't quite understand sports, but please keep in mind "the other team tries, too". Everyone acts like the Ravens are playing against a team that doesn't have a coaching staff, a room full of video tape, and players who can play a system devised to slow down or restrict the other team from doing what they do best.

The Bengals wanted to win yesterday. They get paid just like the Ravens get paid.

So, I don't have a whole lot of time for a question like, "How did the Ravens get beat like that by the Bengals?"

The more important question, I believe, is how are the Ravens going to improve on their glaring areas of weaknesses moving forward?

And how will they go about getting better players -- and, perhaps, better coaches -- so they can return to the post-season?

They're going to need better players to compete with the Steelers next season. Pittsburgh's not going down -- they're going up. And if the Bengals can stay healthy all season and add some offensive line help, they'll be improved in 2017 as well.

But, in order to get better players, the Ravens need to look at what went wrong this season and figure out if they can fit a certain kind of player into an area that hurt them in 2016. In other words, are there players out there who can help in isolated situations that were holding them back in 2016?

I see three significant areas that need improvement in 2017.

And each area has a player connected to it, or a type of player, at the very least.

If Houston is willing to trade WR DeAndre Hopkins a year ahead of his free agency -- as many suspect they are -- the Ravens need to make a major play for the talented pass catcher.

To me, the Ravens #1 area of inefficiency in 2016 was red zone offense. That's it in a nutshell.

For whatever reason, once inside the other team's 20 yard line, the Ravens couldn't get the ball in the end zone.

How do they fix that? To me, it has to be a pass catcher, obviously, and if there's one thing the Ravens desperately need, it's a high quality, Pro Bowl type tight end. And no, I'm not holding out hope that Ben Watson can fill that role in 2017 when he comes back from his injury.

I'm talking about someone, perhaps, like O.J. Howard (Alabama), David Njoku (Miami) or Gerald Everett (South Alabama). If you can't sign a prominent free agent tight end -- and the ones you want likely aren't available anyway -- then do your homework and grab one of the legit tight ends coming out of college.

The Ravens need to fix their red zone offense and if there's one style of player than can help them do that, it's a big tight end with good hands.

The 2nd biggest area of inefficiency for the Ravens, particularly late in the season, was getting the defense off the field on third down. Time and time again, the opposition extended the drive by making a key play on 3rd down.

Why did that happen? Because the Ravens couldn't get to the quarterback, that's why. The Elvis Dumervil era is over in Baltimore and it's obvious that Terrell Suggs is in the November of his career, and that might be giving him a month's advantage.

The Ravens need a rush end who can get to the passer and create some havoc on those third down throws. Time and time again in 2016, with no pressure to speak of, the opposing quarterback was able to make the big throw to keep the drive alive. A hard-to-tame, "high-motor" rush end will help turn that around in 2017. This is an area of "must improvement" for the Ravens moving forward.

And third, Baltimore needs a go-to, big-play wide receiver. If the Ravens are going to compete with the likes of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, they need to do a little bit of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em", which means they really need to go all in on a proven, veteran receiver in the league, the way they did with Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith Sr.

If Alshon Jeffery is going to be a free agent, make a play for him. If the Texans are willing to trade DeAndre Hopkins, make Houston a legit offer and try and pry him away from them. Make a deal, somewhere, for a home run hitter.

Kamar Aiken, Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman -- there's some quality there, but not enough to scare anyone in the NFL. The Ravens must go get a quality, proven wide receiver. Drafting a couple is fine, but they don't have time to waste. The Ravens need an impact receiver on the field next year. Or, rather, this year, since it is 2017 now.

There will be some holes to fill on the coaching staff. But "coaching" isn't the biggest issue weighing down the Ravens.

Not in the least.

There will be people whining all spring and summer about Joe Flacco, but he's not going anywhere except to the Jersey Shore for vacation in July.

They can win with Flacco, the same way the Lions are in the playoffs with Matt Stafford and the Chiefs are the #2 seed in the AFC with Alex Smith at the helm.

As I wrote here last week, the Ravens need better football players on their team. Plain and simple.

They need all of their parts working in sync, yes, which means they need the coaches to be hitting on all cylinders and they need their $22 million quarterback to play like one more often than not, which wasn't the case this past season.

But their biggest problems run much deeper than coaching and the quarterback. The Ravens lack serious talent in KEY areas of the field.

Like him or not, Ozzie Newsome said the two most valuable players in the league are these: ones who touch the ball -- and ones who touch the quarterback.

The Ravens need to heed their own sage advice and go get some of those kind of players this off-season.

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ravens 2017 schedule is all set


With the completion of yesterday's final week of the regular season and the associated results and standings now known, here's who the Ravens play in 2017:

At home, the Ravens have: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis and Miami.

And on the road: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Green Bay, Minnesota, Tennessee, Jacksonville (in London) and Oakland.

It's way too early to start looking ahead to 2017, but we'll do it anyway because that's what we do. The home schedule looks very favorable. No one there is all that scary, save for the annual visits by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati which are always dicey.

The road, though, is going to be a tough task in 2017. Green Bay and Tennessee will be pesky challenges. Oakland is one of the toughest places in the league to play, although the Ravens have enjoyed prior success there.

I have the Ravens going 13-3 and getting back to the playoffs.

I'm kidding...

Let's just say it doesn't look like a very friendly schedule at first blush. Go get some better players, Ravens.


show me the money, week #17


Well, well, well. Look who came back from the poor house and made a bunch of money over the last month of the regular season.

And look who finished the season over .500 as well.

With a 4-2 mark on Sunday in the final weekend of the regular season, I was able to post a 51-49-2 record in 2016.

Yesterday, I missed on the Ravens and Buccaneers.

But I was a winner with the Giants (+7.5), Eagles (-5.0), Chiefs (-5.0) and New England (-9.5).

I also hit on the "Best Bet" game to finish 8-9 in that category for the season, as I had the Eagles (-5.0) over the Cowboys there.

I'll have my playoff picks in for you on Friday of this coming week for those who want to win enough money to send your son or daughter to Brown or Princeton.

I can tell you this: I see two games on the schedule that I love, love, love next weekend.

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dale williams aims
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 squander late lead, lose at home to nebraska


If you want to write a book on how to blow a 13-point lead with 6:43 left in a basketball game, while not scoring one single field goal in the process, then by all means watch the final minutes of the Terps 67-65 loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers yesterday at College Park.

So many things went wrong that it’s hard to put your finger on any one cause. But let’s go with this; Maryland has some nice pieces but they are not, at this stage of the season, a very good or complete team.

By the time Maryland had finished taking bad shots, turning the ball over, missing short shots, playing poor defense and putting their opponent on the foul line, a 64-51 lead was a 67-65 loss.

Forwards Kevin Huerter and L.G. Gill were the only two Terps that posted more assists than turnovers.

Maryland freshman Kevin Huerter announced his presence with authority on Sunday, finishing with 26 points in Maryland's 67-65 home loss to Nebraska.

Huerter did make 7 three pointers while scoring a game high 26 points for Maryland. Tai Webster and Glynn Watson Jr led Nebraska with 18 and 17 points respectively.

Getting consistent scoring has been an issue for most of the year for Maryland and yesterday was no different. With the Terp guards not enjoying the quickness advantage that allowed them to dominate Illinois just a few days ago, and with no inside scorers at all, Maryland was left to rely on the sharp shooting efforts of Huerter.

The freshman hit 7 of 11 three point attempts and almost single-handedly propelled Maryland to their second Big 10 win. Absent Huerter’s stellar effort, the Terps hit 29% of their shots and just 4 of their 14 three point shots.

Maryland went through several scoring droughts in the first half. Consider this stat - with a little over ten minutes remaining in the first half, Huerter had converted on three shots from the field and the rest of the team had made only one single shot from the floor (a Melo Trimble layup). There was a bunch of ugly basketball being played by both sides during half number one and when it was all over, the Terps were trailing by four, 34-30.

At the 11:58 mark of the second half, Maryland still faced a four point deficit at 47-43.

But in a 3:21 blink of an eye, Maryland scored seventeen points and held a 13 point lead at 60-47.

The 17 straight points were fueled by two ‘four point plays”. Trimble had one, followed a minute later by one from Huerter. The prosperous times were about to end though, and an epic collapse was about to begin.

I’ll spare you the gory details of the play by play, but the recipe for the demise was simple. First, Maryland kept committing dumb fouls that resulted in points from the foul line for Nebraska. Then, when they didn’t turn the ball over, the Terps were taking horrible shots.

Lastly, the Cornhuskers capitalized on some defensive lapses that allowed them to get into the lane and connect on some fairly acrobatic layups. The deal was sealed by a couple of air-balled Trimble threes.

Credit should be given to Nebraska coach Tim Miles for implementing, and staying with, a 1-3-1 zone defense that gave the Terps trouble during the Nebraska run.

This is a game I believe the Terps would win if it were to be played in another two months. The defensive lapses by the rookies Anthony Cowan, Huerter, and Justin Jackson should become less frequent as the season moves forward.

Each of those three got lost at times and also failed to take proper angles at other times. They will learn and get better.

Granted he’s not the second coming of Shaquille O’Neil, but having Michal Cekovsky available for this game (out with a foot injury) would have been a significant improvement over the slight contributions of Damonte Dodd (no defensive rebounds in 13 minutes) and Ivan Bender (zero points, 4 fouls and little defense in 16 minutes). Dodd did give the Terps some energy on offense, but on the defensive side he was often a major liability.

This Maryland team, regardless of the competition, can hardly afford an off night by Trimble. He wasn’t very good yesterday as his 5-15 shooting and 3 turnovers against 2 assists might suggest.

Also, of concern is his frequent inability to finish drives when his shot is contested. Melo is amazing at dribbling through the smallest seams to get into the lane, but scoring once he’s in there and confronted with taller interior defenders sometimes is an issue.

It’s only going to get harder for Trimble at the next level (wherever and whenever that may be) and he already struggles with it at this level. He doesn’t jump very well and often can’t elevate to get that shot off. He got caught several times yesterday, resulting in a poor shot or a turnover.

If the Terps are going to challenge future Big 10 foes (like Michigan next Saturday or Indiana a week from today) they will need their freshmen defenders to learn quickly and Melo Trimble to be a consistent scoring threat. Kevin Huerter is a welcome addition to the Terp lineup, but he’s not going to drop 26 every night.

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get your duckpin bowling team together and earn money for your charity!


One of my favorite events on the #DMD charity calendar is set for Sunday, February 26 and you and your bowling friends are invited to participate!

It's our annual "Charity Duckpin Challenge", where you and your team of four bowlers can earn money for YOUR favorite charity.

Most charity golf events you play in have a pre-designated charity that everyone in the field is helping raise funds for, but this bowling event we offer is exactly the opposite.

You designate YOUR charity ahead of time, then bowl against 13 other teams for valuable prize money and a donation check at the end of the night!

This year's event will be held on Sunday, February 26 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

The team entry fee is $300.00 and all four bowlers receive the following:

Three hours of bowling, with shoe rental (each team must turn in at least three scores...bowl as many games as you like and take your best three)

Complimentary beer, soft drinks and pizza for everyone.

Participation in our "Deck of Cards" contest where you can win up to $100 cash just by throwing a strike!

We also offer free child care and bowling and pizza for them as well, so bring the kids if you'd like!

First place pays $850!

Imagine handing over a check for $850 to your favorite charity!

We'll also pay the teams finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, so just about 30% of the field gets a donation check.

To register your team, just click on the "bowling" tab at the top of #DMD and get your team a spot in the field of 14.

As of January 2nd, three teams have registered, leaving us with 11 spots to fill.


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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Sunday
January 1
#DMD GAME DAY

Week 17

Volume XXX
Issue 1
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 PM EST

Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, Ohio

Spread: Ravens -1


So, this is it.

Heck, spring training's right around the corner if the Ravens are playing their final game of the season.

And that they are, today, in Cincinnati, against the Bengals.

There's nothing for either team to play for, except pride, and my guess is most of us will be channel surfing throughout the afternoon.

It's been a strange season for the Ravens. Heck, it's been a strange four years, really.

The season after they won the Super Bowl, remember, the Ravens could have made the post-season if not for a season-ending loss -- where else? -- in Cincinnati, where it came down to the fourth quarter before the Ravens gave up 17 points in the final stanza to lose 34-17 to miss the post-season.

The next year, the Ravens led in New England in the second round of the playoffs, 14-0 and 28-14, but couldn't close the deal and wound up on the bad end of a 35-31 defeat.

Last season started off on a terrible note when Steve Smith Sr. dropped a ball in the end zone in Denver in the game's final minute and the refs made a horrendous goal-line call on Will Hill in the final minute at Oakland and the Ravens went from (coulda, shoulda, woulda) a 2-0 start to an 0-2 start just like that. It never got any better, injuries piled up, and it all came crashing down in a 5-11 season.

And then, this year, the Ravens were literally an outstretched arm away from playing for the AFC North title today against a depleted and likely disinterested Cincinnati team.


It's been a wacky four years.

I'll still say this about today's game. Winning and finishing 9-7 is a lot better than losing and finishing 8-8.

At least to the players and coaches, that is.

The fans -- you know, they're the ones NOT playing -- think it's "wise" to lose today and finish 8-8 so the team can get a better draft pick "spot" this spring.

That's why you're watching and the guys you see on TV are playing.

They only think about one thing, ever: winning.

If the Ravens do manage to win today, that will showcase just how narrow the margins are in the NFL. If not for one loss, whether it be the home games they coughed up to the Redskins and Raiders in October, the woeful performance at the Meadowlands against the Jets, the late TD throw to Odell Beckham Jr., or the last gasp catch and stretch by Antonio Brown, the Ravens would be back in the post-season.

It really was.....that friggin' close.

Some folks in town think the Ravens aren't all that good.

I don't agree with that. I think they're just like about 12 other teams in the league. Close enough to be considered "good" and far enough away that they're in no danger of being "great".

But, really, how many "great" teams are there in the NFL? New England, for sure. And based on their 13-2 mark at this point, you'd have to say Dallas is, as well, although this is all unfamiliar territory for the Cowboys and you shouldn't be surprised at all if they spit up on themselves in the post-season and go home early.

The NFL is a crazy league. One year you're good, the next you're not, two years later you win the Super Bowl, the following season you go 6-10 and miss the playoffs.

The Ravens are bound to have a better run here sometime soon. And when they do, it's in their DNA to be a tough out in the post-season.

Playoff football is an acquired taste, which is precisely why the Ravens would have had a puncher's chance this January had they figured out a way to get to ten or eleven wins.

They'll be back next year, primed to fight, and you can imagine, since they've made this Week 17 trip to Cincinnati a regular thing now, that the NFL schedule makers will send the Ravens back to Cincinnati this time next season to finish up the 2017 campaign.

Today wraps up the 2016 season. I'd like to see the Ravens win.

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show me the money, week #17


In case you missed all the excitement in these parts last weekend, I threw together a 5-1 weekend that brings me to the .500 mark for the season at 47-47-2.

You can poo-poo that all you want, but I've come back from 11 games below .500 and the folks in Vegas are scared to death that I'm going to open up my own 1-800 number here pretty soon.

Here's why picking today's games is difficult. There are only a handful of them that matter. And picking winners and losers from games that DON'T influence the playoff standings in any way is tricky business.

You have no idea who is going to play and for how long. Example #1 is the Ravens game. If Joe Flacco is going to play all four quarters, the Ravens are going to win. But if Flacco plays the first quarter and then Ryan Mallett comes in to mop up, who knows what happens then?

So, I'm going to try and go with some games that blend in as "normal" and see if I can't get the right side of it. I'll throw in another one or two, perhaps, that strike my fancy.

PANTHERS AT BUCCANEERS (-4.0) -- Tampa Bay needs several things to work in their favor to make the playoffs, but I'm quite certain they're going to come to play today. This one seems a little odd in that the Bucs are "only" a four point home favorite. Does Vegas know something we don't? Is Doug Martin's absence really that important? I'm taking Tampa Bay in an easy win here, as the Bucs finish strong with a 30-17 victory.

NEW ENGLAND AT MIAMI (+9.5) -- This is a weird game in that New England actually needs to win to make sure they finish at 14-2 and claim the top spot in the AFC for home field advantage in the playoffs. Miami has nothing at all to play for today. Either way, the Patriots are going to romp, here. It might be close for a while, but New England pulls away in the second half to win 33-16 and cover that rather bloated 9.5 point number.

COWBOYS AT EAGLES (-5.0) -- This is also my "Best Bet of the Day". I love, love, love the Eagles in this one. Philadelphia is 6-1 at home this season and, as they showed a couple of weeks back when they nearly beat the Ravens and then did beat the Giants, the Eagles are actually playing well down the stretch. The Cowboys have nothing to do today except stay away from the trainer's table and I can't see how they win here. I'll take Philadelphia to win comfortably, 24-10.

GIANTS AT REDSKINS (-7.5) -- Washington has to win to make the playoffs. The Giants are the 5th seed in the playoffs no matter what. Seems easy, right? Washington wins by whatever they want to win by today, correct? Wrong. This is the Redskins we're talking about. Nothing comes easy for them, especially at home. They'll win, alright, but it will be a nailbiter. I'm taking the Giants to hang around long enough to cover in this one, as the 'Skins get back to the post-season with a 23-17 victory.

CHIEFS AT CHARGERS (+5.0) -- No way K.C. loses today, right? San Diego just lost to the Browns, for cryin' out loud. The Chiefs need a win and an Oakland loss to finish as the AFC West winners and they'd also get the #2 seed in the playoffs. They're not screwing that up, believe me. I'm taking the Chiefs in this one, 30-24.


HOW DREW SEES THE RAVENS-BENGALS GAME: It's hard to say how this one is going to go since we really don't know how long guys like Flacco and Andy Dalton are going to play, but I'm going to play along and assume they're both in for the long haul today as both coaches try and play this one just like they would if the result impacted their playoff chances. That means the Ravens are winning, partially because they're more healthy than the Bengals, and because they're more conditioned to win meaningless games than are the Bengals. Give me the Ravens to cover that one-point number in a 20-17 win.


Yankee Stadium; December 28, 1958. Fullback Alan Ameche (center, head down) rumbles through a yuge hole in the Giants line for the winning touchdown in true sudden-death overtime in The Greatest Game Ever Played. At left, halfback Lenny Moore throws a block on the Giants' #45, Emlen Tunnell. Giants' defensive back Jim Patton (#20) had a shot at Ameche, but didn't have the mass, the velocity, or the angle, to bring him down. John Unitas is at top right, above the scrum that included center Buzz Nutter, left tackle Jim Parker, linebacker Sam Huff and defensive end Andy Robustelli.

There yet remains a rumor that Colts' owner Carroll Rosenbloom had a ton of cash on his team to cover the 3½-point spread. If true it would explain why the Colts didn't attempt field goals on first-, second-, or third-down inside the Giants' eight-yard line in the final series.

Winners' shares were $4,718; the Giants got $3,111 per man. Ameche's bonus from a flush and grateful Carroll Rosenbloom (continues the rumor), who had been shown the money in a restaurant near South High and Fawn Streets, allowed Alan to build the eponymous drive-thru that stood for a long time at the southwest corner of Loch Raven Blvd. and Taylor Ave.

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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 September 24th and October 1st. 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 four 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, go here to reserve, or send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

United States passport information.

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

RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.

breakfast bytes

NHL: Chiasson's two goals lead Caps to 5-3 win in Boston.

NBA: LeBron, Cavs win first showdown with Lakers and Ball, 121-112, as James records 59th career triple-double.

NFL: Broncos outlast Colts in Indy, 25-13, in Thursday Night snoozer.

MLB: Twins sign veteran closer Fernando Rodney to 1-year deal.