Monday
August 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 31

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o's try once again to win with only three hits, lose 6-0 to texas

As if Friday night's 4-1 loss where they only generated three hits wasn't enough evidence, the Birds went back to the well and tried the same stunt again yesterday in Arlington, Texas. This time, it was worse. The Orioles generated just three hits in Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Rangers and finished a potentially season-derailing road swing to Kansas City and Texas with a with a 1-6 mark on the 7-game trip. Not only are the Orioles now 5.5 games behind the Rangers in the chase for the A.L.'s second wild card spot, the Cleveland Indians have moved ahead of the Birds (63-67) with a 63-66 record. Minnesota, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and, now, Cleveland, are all ahead of the Orioles. That's how bad of a road swing it was for the Orioles.

derek
An 11-strikeout gem from Derek Holland on Sunday dropped the O's to four games below .500

Derek Holland, who missed nearly all of the season's first half, looked like a new man on Sunday, throwing a complete-game gem by striking out 11 and walking none, as the Rangers scored twice in the first inning to put the contest out of reach. Miguel Gonzalez got the start for the Orioles, going 5.1 innings and surrendering four earned runs on seven hits. It's been so long since Zach Britton broke a sweat that Buck Showalter trotted the O's closer out there in the 8th inning just to see if he still knew what he was doing. Texas even nicked him for two runs (one of the unearned) to close out the scoring at 6-0. The Orioles offense, particularly on the road, is simply a non-factor. Even the solid offensive players are a liability away from Camden Yards. Chris Davis looks like he got tired of putting food on everyone's table back in early August when he was baseball's hottest hitter for two weeks or so. The first baseman has struck out 19 times in his last 33 at-bats and now leads the majors in K's with 173 in 2015. It's not about stats with the Birds. They're 6th in the A.L. in most team hitting categories, but that's because they generally hit like the dickens at home and stink it up on the road. And their ability to hit with runners in scoring position is atrocious, which leads directly to their 63-67 record.

But -- I'll say it once again as August comes to a close with Tampa Bay in Baltimore tonight to start a 3-game series with the Birds: There's still a lot of baseball left. Sadly, I'm starting to think the O's would rather there NOT be much of it remaining. Now, at 63-67, the Birds have 32 games remaining and likely need to go 23-9 to scratch out the second wild card spot at 86-76. There's probably a higher likelihood they'll go 9-23, if we're calling it like is. I'll play the role of the optimist for a second here and you can laugh out loud if you want. If the Birds can snatch all three from the Rays, they then have a critical six-game series in Toronto (3) and New York (3) that could catapult them back in the playoff race or extinguish them for good. The next nine games could turn the tide for the O's if they'd just generate some offense and win six or seven of those nine games. I told you I was being optimistic.


arrieta tosses no-hitter in 2-0 cubs win at l.a.

Former O's draft pick Jake Arrieta put the finishing touches on a spectacular month of August last night when he threw his first career no-hitter in Los Angeles as the Cubs edged the Dodgers, 2-0. Arrieta, who was traded to the Cubs -- along with Pedro Strop -- for pitcher Scott Feldman back in July of 2013, went 6-0 in August with a 0.43 ERA.

The Cubs are now 74-55 on the year and 5.5 games ahead of the Giants for the N.L.'s second wild card berth. Arrieta improved to 17-6 on the year with last night's win and lowered his ERA to 2.11.

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day wins the barclays, now challenging spieth for world's best

With two major championships and a legitimately close call at winning all four in 2015, Jordan Spieth is going to be the PGA Tour's 2014-2015 Player of the Year. However, he might not have actually played the TOUR's best golf of the year. That honor could very well go to Australia's Jason Day, who blew away the field at the FedEx Cup playoff opener at Plainfield CC and shot 63-62 on the weekend to win The Barclays by six shots over Henrik Stenson.

jasonday
Yesterday's win at The Barclays gives Jason Day three wins in his last four starts on the PGA Tour.

Day is literally doing the best work of his career these days, winning the Canadian Open, PGA Championship and Barclays playoff opener within a recent six week span. His Sunday round was a walk-in-the-park, with 7 birdies and not one bogey on his scorecard. Believe it or not, though, there was drama in the final round, as Day was 16-under par and only up by two shots on Stenson when he blew his tee-shot on the par-4 13th hole into the right trees, narrowly avoiding the out-of-bounds fence three yards to his right. Day had 152 yards to the hole, with a run-up shot not possible due to a pond that borders the entire front portion of the green. His only option was to hoist the ball well up into the air and try to avoid a tree some 40 yards in front of him. At that point, anything could have happened. If the ball hits a branch and ricochets to the right and out-of-bounds, the whole tournament would have changed. Instead, Day nipped the ball perfectly from a less-than-desirable lie, hitting the green and two-putting for par from 35 feet. He then made birdie at the next two holes and that was all she wrote.

The TOUR moves on to TPC Boston next Friday through Sunday for event number two of the playoffs, with only the top 100 players in the standings advancing to next week's event. Nick Taylor and Stewart Cink finished 101st and 102nd respectively and each had a sad story from Sunday's final round that ended their respective seasons. Cink made bogey at the final hole to shoot 72 for the day. 71 would have put him in the event next week in Boston. Taylor was cruising along nicely until he went bogey, double-bogey at 13 and 14. If he plays those two holes in one-over instead of three-over, he, too, moves on to Boston next week.

Spieth lost his world #1 ranking by missing The Barclays cut and is now set to face off against Day over the next three events as the two of them pursue the $10 million winner's check for the FedEx Cup playoffs.


baysox on verge of playoff berth, home tonight vs. altoona

There might not be playoff baseball in Baltimore this October, but it looks like they'll be post-season action in Bowie, as the Baysox have a magic number of one to clinch a playoff berth in the Double A Eastern League. Bowie also owns a 5-game lead in the division, which could be sewed up this week at home when second place Altoona comes to town Monday through Wednesday evening.

Click on the ad below for information on obtaining Baysox playoff tickets. It's a great event for the whole family at Bowie and they're playing solid baseball down there, too, which should make September very interesting for Gary Kendall's team.

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MONDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
C. Archer
11-10, 2.88
W. Chen
8-6, 3.17
7:05PM EDT
ORIOLE PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 72 - 57 33 4
Rangers 68 - 61 33
Twins 67 - 63 32
Angels 65 - 65 32
Rays 64 - 66 32
Indians 63 - 66 33 5
Orioles 63 - 67 32
Sunday
August 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 30

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ravens back-ups get slapped around as redskins roll, 31-13

OK, it wasn't ALL terrible on Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens first-team offense trucked the Redskins for a quarter-and-a-half, jumping out to a 13-0 lead thanks to Joe Flacco (8/13, 137 yards, TD) and Steve Smith (4 catches, 95 yards, TD). It got terrible after that, unfortunately. Plenty terrible. It's one thing to lose 31-13. It's another to look inept in all three phrases of the game, which happened in the second half on Saturday night vs. Washington.

asa jackson
Other than a long kick-off return right before halftime, it was a forgettable night for cornerback Asa Jackson.

Injuries, a woeful secondary, and no one stepping up in the wide receiver department highlighted (or lowlighted, perhaps) the night, as Washington's second and third stringers trolled the Ravens for the final thirty minutes. Timmy Jernigan (knee) and Ryan Jensen (concussion) actually left the field in the first half while DeAngelo Tyson (forearm/elbow) was nicked up in the 3rd quarter. If the Jernigan injury is serious and he misses time, that's a big blow to the Ravens defensive line, as the second year player is expected to fill part of the role previously occupied by now-departed Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata. Depth continues to be an issue for the Ravens and it was VERY apparent on Saturday night that once you get past the team's first-string players, the quality quickly diminishes. That point was driven home in the secondary, where Lardarius Webb (hamstring) missed yet another game and Jimmy Smith was limited to just three series' on the night. Those two issues handed bulk playing time to Asa Jackson and draft pick Tray Walker, and both were out of their element at the cornerback position. Jackson momentarily acquitted himself with a 103 yard kickoff return just prior to halftime, but he later made a poor decision on a punt and coughed up the ball to the Redskins to essentially nulify the earlier return that nearly netted the Ravens a go-ahead score.

Once again, the Ravens lacked any sort of stand-out game from a wide receiver NOT named Steve Smith. Jeremy Butler managed to catch four passes for 32 yards and showed good collection skills on a couple of those, catching the ball in traffic and then taking the immediate hit. Kamar Aiken had a pair of catches, while Darren Waller and Marlon Brown both had one reception on the night. True, once Flacco left the contest the Ravens passing game resembled clown shoes, but the fact remains we're basically two weeks from the start of the regular season and the only wide-out who absolutely knows for sure he's starting against the Broncos is Steve Smith. I wrote this last week at #DMD and I think it's even more possible now: The Ravens are going to pay very close attention to the waiver wire next weekend. If they can get their hands on someone's decent, cast-off veteran wide receiver, don't be shocked if they sign him and send Brown or Butler down the road. The same goes for the secondary. With Webb's constant fragile state, the Ravens might need a little more security at the cornerback position.

I'm not hoping or wishing for anyone to lose their job, but Matt Schaub looks like a liability at the back-up quarterback position. And he's not playing for gift cards either. He stands to make $3 million in 2015 ($2 million salary, $1 million signing bonus) and his salary has already been guaranteed for the upcoming season. Simply put...he stinks. I guess a back-up you never see on the field can't bring you down (see Marc Bulger in 2010 -- and he made $3.8 million that year), but if Flacco misses time in 2015 there's just no way the club can win with Schaub at the helm.

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friction between harbaugh and tv reporter is a bad look for the coach

I always start off any criticism of John Harbaugh by offering a very public, open statement about the Ravens coach: I like him. A lot. I'm an unabashed John Harbaugh fan, both on and off the field.

What Harbaugh did to Comcast's Brent Harris at halftime of last night's game was wrong. It was not only wrong, it was unnecessary. And, for the second week in a row, it made the coach look like he can't handle the heat of the moment. It went something like this:

Harris: "Coach, can you tell us what happened from your perspective on the Steve Smith ejection?" (Smith had been kicked out of the game earlier after an altercation and Harbaugh and Redskins coach Jay Gruden had a heated exchange on the field as the refs tried to restore order)

Harbaugh: "I'm not going to answer that or get into that. If you have a football question for me, though, I'd be happy to answer it."

Harris: "Sure, well, the fumble near the end of the first half, that had to be disappointing, right?"

Harbaugh: "Yep, we don't like to fumble the ball at the goal-line."

Harris: "What about the defense? You gave up a score in the last two minutes of the half out there."

Harbaugh: "We don't like giving up points in the last two minutes of the half, that's right."

It was at that point that Harris waved the white towel and said, "Thanks, Coach" and pulled the microphone away. As Harbaugh started to exit, he said, "If you have any good questions for me, I'll answer those." Then there was a quick staredown between the two and the coach headed off to the locker room.

OK, so here's the skinny. I'm not breaking any news here, but it's worth mentioning to set the stage properly. The Ravens and ComcastSportsNet are BUSINESS partners. For all intents and purposes, Brent Harris is working FOR the Ravens during the pre-season broadcasts, in the same way guys like Gerry Sandusky, Qadry Ismail and Stan White are working for the team. During the regular season, Harris (and the others I mentioned) flies on the team charter to away games. Harbaugh knows that, too. He also knows, I assume, that Harris is going to be standing there at the end of every half waiting to hit up the coach with a couple of questions. John isn't contractually obligated to do it, by the way. He does it because -- wait for it -- the Ravens are in business together with ComcastSportsNet and Harbaugh is a smart, smart guy. He knows it brings the fans at home watching the game a smidgen closer to the action and it also helps the Ravens TV production team put together a better broadcast at the same time.

If John wanted to blow off the question about the Steve Smith ejection, that's fine. Just say, "I haven't really had a chance to look at the tape yet to see exactly what transpired with that, so I'd rather not comment on it."

The "if you want to ask me a football question, I'll answer it" comment wasn't very sporty and then, when he WAS given the chance to comment on the football game, Harbaugh got his dander up over two very reasonable game-related questions. I don't get it. Maybe it's just the heat of consecutive weeks of poor pre-season football from his team or perhaps a personal rift exists between the coach and reporter, but that was a shoddy way to treat Brent Harris last night. He didn't deserve to be embarrassed like that.

And before anyone spouts off something like "those halftime interviews are dumb" and "no one ever asks any good questions, anyway", please know that the design of the whole thing is SUPPOSED to be mindless. Everyone knows the coach doesn't REALLY want to stand there and chat at halftime. And everyone involved also knows the reporter has to ask bland, benign questions. That's part of the deal. You can't ask the coach what they're going to do at defensive line in the opener at Denver if Timmy Jernigan's first-half knee injury is serious. You get in, ask a simple question or two, and get out. Had the Ravens been winning 17-3 at the half, that exchange between the coach and Brent Harris wouldn't have happened.

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another 3-run night, another loss for the birds

It's starting to look like the Orioles don't have a final-month rally at their disposal after all, as the Birds fell to 1-9 in their last ten games with a 4-3 loss to the Rangers in Arlington last night. The win dropped Buck Showalter's team to 63-66 on the year and increased the Texas wild card lead to 4.5 games over the Orioles. The Birds trailed 3-0 early on before scoring three times in the 5th inning to tie it up, only to see the Rangers score the go-ahead and eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the 6th.

manny
With the game perhaps on his bat last night, Machado struck out in the top of the 9th inning with two runners on and two outs.

It got interesting in the top of the 9th, as the O's had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, but Manny Machado struck out to end the game. Chris Davis struck out two more times on Saturday night, giving him 17 K's in his last 30 at-bats. Machado and Gerardo Parra also struck out twice, while Caleb Joseph was the only Oriole with a multi-hit (2) night. Joseph might be doing the best work of his career right now, as the catcher is hitting .248 with a .311 on-base-percentage, plus 11 HR's and 46 RBI on the season.

Ubaldo Jimenez fell to 9-9 with the loss, going 5.2 innings, allowing 8 hits and 4 earned runs. His counterpart for Texas, Martin Perez, went 6.1 innings and allowed 7 hits and 3 earned runs.


SUNDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
in
TEXAS
M. Gonzalez
9-10, 4.78
D. Holland
1-1, 4.73
3:05PM EST
GLOBE LIFE PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 71 - 57 34 4
Rangers 67 - 61 34
Twins 66 - 63 33
Angels 65 - 64 33
Orioles 63 - 66 33
Rays 63 - 66 33


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Saturday
August 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 29

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orioles do their best gin blossoms impersonation, produce three hits in 4-1 loss at texas

"Hey Jealousy", "Allison Road", and "Found Out About You" -- Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Paul Janish. Those were the three major hits of the Gin Blossoms, followed by the three guys on the Orioles roster who produced hits last night in Arlington, as the woeful Baltimore offense continued to stink in a 4-1 loss to the Rangers. The defeat dropped the O's to 63-65, the first time since July 25th the club has been two games under .500. They also lost a game in the standings to the Yankees, Blue Jays, Twins and, of course, Rangers. It's starting to look bleak for the Birds, but they have two more games in Arlington this weekend to try and get things straightened out.

cole
If the Rangers hang on and claim the second wild card spot, their trade deadline pick-up of Cole Hamels will be one of the main factors in their return to the post-season.

The Orioles had a golden opportunity to get the ball rolling on Friday night when they loaded the bases with one out in the 3rd inning, but as has been the case plenty of times since mid-June, they failed to generate a base hit in that crucial situation and only managed to coax home a run when Cole Hamels walked Chris Davis with the bases juiced. That was a game-changer, as Texas would tie the game in the 4th and go ahead to stay in the 5th, handing the Orioles their 9th loss in 11 outings in the process.

Following that treacherous 3rd inning that he worked out of with minimal damage, Hamels looked like he was doing some of the best work of his career, going 8.0 innings on the night, striking out 10 and allowing just two hits and one earned run. Kevin Gausman did what he usually does, which is to say he put up a fight without any assistance from the club's offense, allowing four earned runs and nine hits over 6.2 innings of work. And speaking of doing the best work of his career, shortstop Paul Janish collected another base hit to raise his average to .444 since being called up from the minors earlier this week. The knock on Janish has been "all glove, no bat", but he's making the most of this opportunity and giving Buck Showalter some roster/bench flexibility with J.J. Hardy on the disabled list and Ryan Flaherty apparently going to serve as the team's de facto starting shortstop until Janish was recalled and started generating a little bit of offense to go with his dependable glove.

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o's face interesting dilemma with wieters this winter

It's basically a foregone conclusion that Matt Wieters is wrapping up his tenure in Baltimore, as the veteran catcher will become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Despite his tepid numbers in three of the last four years, someone will fork over righteous bucks to Wieters this winter and he'll become a "former Oriole" in the process.

For sure. Right? Maybe not.

An interesting situation is developing with Wieters and it's one that might wind up turning into a chess match with the Birds at season's end. There exists the possibility that Boras has done some unofficial polling of GM's around baseball and gathered information that suggests perhaps Wieters WON'T command a huge multi-year deal when he goes trolling for a new team in November and December. In that case, the former 1st round pick might want to return to the Orioles in 2016 under a one-year deal, play an entire season in good health, produce quality numbers at the plate, and THEN hit the free agent market next winter.

How would he get that one-year deal from the Birds? He'd get it as a result of the qualifying offer the O's have to make prior to free agency beginning this off-season. The Orioles have to make that offer in order to receive a compensatory draft pick if, in fact, Wieters does bolt for a new team this winter. The issue, obviously, is this: What if the Orioles don't want Wieters back? At all. They can guarantee that happens by not offering him a contract for 2016. If they do that, though, they don't get the comp pick. If they do make him a qualifying offer, he might very well take it. Then what?

Depending on who you ask, it's either a sticky situation or a blessing in disguise. The pro-Wieters camp will suggest that the combination of Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger will not duplicate the offense and defense provided by Wieter. Those who have watched Wieters for the last four years (me, for example) along with Joseph and Clevenger over the last two seasons would likely disagree with that theory. I just don't see much difference -- overall -- in the contributions of solo Wieters vs. the duo of Joseph and Clevenger over 162 games. Not making Wieters a qualifying offer would permanently cut ties with him; making him the offer leaves open the possibility he'd take it and try a parlay a strong 2016 into a three or four year deal in the off-season leading up to the 2017 campaign.

I say don't make him an offer and suck it up. Lose the pick, yes, but that at least guarantees you're not going to have Wieters in town next season, hitting .248 and keeping you yet another year away from fixing your issues at catcher.


SATURDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
TEXAS
U. Jimenez
9-8, 4.26
M. Perez
1-3, 5.30
8:05PM EST
GLOBE LIFE PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 70 - 57 35 4
Rangers 66 - 61 35
Twins 66 - 62 34 ½
Angels 65 - 63 34
Orioles 63 - 65 34
Rays 63 - 65 34


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bo's eye view

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

Yes, it's still the preseason, but when the Ravens face the Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium tonight, at least it will be Week 3 of the preseason. And that means Ravens fans will actually see starters play. The third game of the preseason is traditionally the one true dress rehearsal, with starters usually playing at least the entire first half, sometimes even into the second half.

The Week 4 NFL preseason game might be the biggest ripoff in sports, with virtually no starters suiting up, and fans paying regular prices to see second-, third- and fourth-stringers. So be thankful that for the seventh straight year, the Ravens will be on the road for the final preseason game (at Atlanta next Thursday). But when the Redskins -- with or without RGIII, who now appears to have been ruled out as he recovers from a concussion -- descend on M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens still have some work to do:

They need to find a kick returner. Asa Jackson will again get the first shot at returning kicks and punts, and the Ravens might give a look to reserve running backs Fitz Toussaint and Terrence Magee. They are believed to be competing for a roster spot now that Lorenzo Taliaferro is sidelined for at least a few weeks with a knee injury. DeAndre Carter has dropped a kickoff return in two straight games. We'll see if he gets another chance.

brown
The hot and cold Ravens career of Marlon Brown might need to warm up, quickly, if he's going to play a key role in the team's passing game in 2015.

They need some wide receivers to assert themselves. For all the talk of the training camp battle at the position, the competition has been underwhelming. With Breshad Perriman still out and with Michael Campanaro banged up yet again, some players other than Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken need to show something. Looking at you, Marlon Brown. And at you, Jeremy Butler, who could be playing for a job on Saturday night. The belief is that rookie receiver Darren Waller has all but locked up a spot on the team, and unless the Ravens choose to keep seven receivers, Butler could be on the wrong side of the roster cuts next week.

They need to protect Joe Flacco's blind side. That task will fall on reserves since starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (hand) and guard Kelechi Osemele (Achilles) are not expected to play. The last thing the Ravens need is for Flacco to take a damaging hit. Matt Schaub anyone?

They need to show up on defense, which didn't happen in Philadelphia. The Ravens say they didn't game-plan, didn't spend a lot of time preparing for the Eagles frenetic tempo, but the Ravens starting front seven was manhandled. No, the game didn't count, but the Ravens don't get pushed around like that very often.

Saturday night's game vs. Washington will also mark the final game in a Ravens uniform for several players; the first roster cuts must take place by Tuesday, with the roster trimmed to 53 by next Saturday (Sept. 5).

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bubba takes one-shot lead at barclays -- spieth, scott, fowler heading home early

Following his Tuesday practice round at Plainfield CC, site of this week's FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour, Bubba Watson said he wasn't a huge fan of the golf course. "Too many blind shots," said the 2-time major champion, a criticism authored by several of the top players this week, not just Watson.

If Watson holds on for two more rounds and wins The Barclays, he might be forced to change his opinion on the venerable Donald Ross course in New Jersey. Bubba backed up his opening round 65 with a two-under par 68 on Friday to lay claim to the 36 hole lead by one shot over Henrik Stenson, Tony Finau, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner. The 7-under par total is a testament to the difficulty of the Plainfield CC layout and the four-inch rough the players are faced with this week, and bodes well for someone like Watson who hits it 320 yards off the tee and can take advantage of several short holes on the par 70 course.

spieth
Spieth's three week reign as the world's #1 golfer came to an end on Friday when he missed the cut at The Barclays.

Jordan Spieth admitted earlier in the week the course didn't suit his eye and his rounds of 74-73 supported that thought. Spieth missed the 36-hole cut, as did big names Ricky Fowler (68-75) and Adam Scott (71-73). Spieth and Fowler will both move on in the FedEx Cup playoffs and head to Boston for next week's event, but Adam Scott's season is now complete, as he will not finish inside the top 100 after missing The Barclay's cut.



Friday
August 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 28

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birds drop 3 of 4 in KC, weekend series with rangers awaits

You probably shouldn't expect to do much more than split a 4-game series in Kansas City these days. This, after all, isn't the Royals of a decade ago, the team who would stagger their way through a 67-win season if they were lucky. Unfortunately, the Orioles couldn't even manage a split at Kauffman Stadium this week, as yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Royals gave the Central Division leaders three wins in the four game series with the O's.

It's starting to approach crunch time for the Birds. Yes, I know, every game counts the same, so a loss in April is a loss in July is a loss in September. They all have identical weight. But, now, as Labor Day draws near, the defeats start to take on added significance because the numbers game can be played on a pad and a piece of paper and it all starts to add up. The Orioles -- with a 63-64 record -- have now played 127 games and they're essentially where they were when the season started in April. At ground zero. If we're still going to go on the premise that 88 wins will nab one of the two Wild Card spots (the second of the two, presumably), that means the Birds will need to go 25-10 from here on out to get to that 88-win mark. How hard will that be? Well, here's the O's remaining schedule:

at Texas (3 games), vs. Tampa Bay (3), at Toronto (3), at New York (3), vs. Kansas City (3), vs. Boston (3), at Tampa Bay (4), at Washington (3), at Boston (3), vs. Toronto (4), vs. New York (3)

Unless you're Ollie-The-Optimist, you can't pick 25 wins out of those 35 games. That doesn't mean, though, that every contending team is going to play lights out down the stretch. We all assume the Twins can't keep playing .700 baseball throughout September, and the Rangers and Angels are both as unpredictable as the Orioles, so maybe, just maybe, 86 wins winds up being good enough for a Wild Card spot in the American League. But can the Birds get to 86 when they have 19 of their last 35 games on the road? I don't think so.

That's why this weekend's series in Texas is huge. We're starting to play the magic number game now, and even if you believe it will only take 23 wins (86 overall) to make it, that means the Birds can only afford to lose 12 more games the rest of the season. Every time they lose from here on out, they're inching closer and closer to those 12 losses. Couple that with the fact that for certain, only Boston will have NOTHING to play for when those two teams meet in September, and you have a bunch of games being played with teams jockeying for their post-season lives between now and that first weekend in October. And, even with the Red Sox out of it, there's no way they'll wave the white towel in any of the six remaining games vs. Baltimore. It's just not in their DNA to go away quietly when it involves the Orioles and vice versa, too, as the Birds would rather eat a live snail or listen to the Beatles' White Album than have Boston achieve any type of success at their expense.

"It ain't over 'til it's over", Lenny Kravitz once sang, and I'm going to keep remembering that as September baseball comes rolling in. I know the numbers and I'm a realist -- it's going to take a heroic effort from the Birds to pull off this playoff berth, but they'll be going head-to-head with teams like the Yankees, Blue Jays and Rays...all of whom are essentially in the same position as the Orioles, which is to say, none of those three can suddenly lose their way and drop 8 of 10 or they'll be on the outside looking in if they're not careful.

This is a BIG, BIG series in Arlington. Toronto just took two of three down there. That's what the Orioles need to do, at a minimum.

We might not be all that excited about the Orioles' prospects for a return to post-season play, but #DMD is excited to announce the addition of a new corporate partner, Dan's Automotive in Joppa, MD. Dan's is a complete auto service facility that honors the "personal touch" so many of us want when it comes to handing over our automobiles to someone for service and/or repair. You'll be thrilled with the way you're treated at Dan's. For starters, there really IS a Dan. He owns the place, he's there, he's involved and you'll feel good knowing the guy who has his name on the business is on site and looking after your vehicle. His right-hand man, Rob, knows the auto service industry inside and out and will make sure your car or truck receives the service and price you were quoted. There's a reason why Dan's Automotive has been in business in Harford County for nearly 30 years. They've built a sterling reputation for good, quality work, which is what you need and expect when your vehicle needs service or repair.

dans

Those of you who are familiar with #DMD know of my policy to not include multiple corporate partners in the same category. First Choice Automotive was a year-long client of #DMD's and we thank them for their patronage and support. They've recently undergone an ownership change at FCA and the opportunity arose for a new partner to step in at #DMD in the auto service/repair category and we're very excited to have Dan's Automotive on board with us through the 2015-2016 Ravens season at the very least.

Dan's Automotive is located at 623 Pulaski Highway, about one mile south of Mountain Road, in Joppa. You can reach them by phone at (410) 538-5900 or check out their website -- www.dansautomotiveinc.com. They're running a "Back To School" special right now to get your car ready to handle the rigors of another school year. Whether you're transporting the kids to school or driving to college yourself, you need to get your vehicle to Dan's for their $29.99 "Back To School Special". Be sure and ask for Rob or Dan when you call in and tell them you're a #DMD reader. They'll be happy to add you to the Dan's Automotive family.

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schilling's suspension a stark reminder that he's not allowed to air his opinion on anything other than baseball

In case you missed it this week, former major league pitcher Curt Schilling was suspended from his duties at ESPN for sending out a tweet that compared "extremist Muslims" to the Nazi Party. Schilling quickly removed the tweet, later apologized, and said all the right things in the aftermath of the controversy he created, but the damage had been done and ESPN told him to take a seat for a while.

What damage really was done, though? ESPN hastily sent out their own press release making sure everyone in the (sports) world knew they didn't agree with or condone Schilling's comments. I'll ask the question again, though. What damage did Schilling do with his comments? Did he offend the Extremist Muslim community? Probably. Maybe that's what he wanted to do in the first place. He's a grown man, he can take responsibility for his own words and actions. There are also likely plenty of decent, rational members of the Muslim community who are appalled by the behavior of the extremist element of their religion. Linking them to the Nazi Party is honestly a little bit above my head -- being from Glen Burnie and all -- so I don't really "get" the connection the former pitcher was trying to make, but, again, I didn't put a whole lot of stock in the comments made by Schilling in the first place. He has an opinion, he voiced it, and that's that. Or, at least, it should be. These days, though, you're not really allowed to broadcast your opinion on things unless it fits comfortably into a very precise lay of comfort.

caitlyn
ESPN suspended an employee for his controversial comments but they're no stranger to thrusting themselves into the middle of touchy subjects.

This would be a great time to talk about ESPN's dash-for-ratings-clown-show that was the whole Bruce Jenner-becomes-Caitlyn-Jenner-and-gets-an-award story...and how they had an "opinion" that Jenner's transgender lifestyle was somehow connected enough to sports to be front and center on their biggest night of the year. It had nothing at all to do with sports, but that didn't stop them from diving headfirst into a politically charged story for their own benefit. So, when are they going to suspend themselves up there in Bristol? Oh, that's right, they're exempt from any self-examining.

Back to the Schilling story. My guess is the biggest reason ESPN got nervous and started apologizing all over the place is because somewhere in their advertising-food-chain, a big wig (or two, or three) at one of their major on-air sponsors is of Muslim descent. That's precisely the sort of thing a guy like Schilling doesn't take into consideration when he's getting ready to drop a Twitter bomb like he did on Tuesday. He's "just a baseball analyst", and not at all on the inside enough to possibly know the answer to questions like "Where is the President of Bridgestone from?" or "The guy who is in charge of Five Hour Energy...where was he born and raised?" If you trace this story back, back, back (OK, that was a bad Chris Berman pun...), I'm fairly certain there's a connection to advertising money somewhere near the end of it.

Schilling's mistake, of course, wasn't in actually having an opinion, his mistake was letting people know about it. I'm sure at some point, an ESPN official ushered Schilling into a quiet room, put his/her arm around him and said, "Curt, look...we like you here. You do a great job talking about baseball. But just keep it to that, OK? We don't really care if you dislike Muslim extremists -- just don't tell the world about it." Schilling's apology seemed genuine, but you have to wonder if he was doing that with his heart or with his head? In the end, saying "I'm sorry I said what I said" is only geniune if the person apologizing can also truly say, "I need some help with these long-time, deeply embedded social views I've been dealing with for most of my life." Then again, I'll go back to the same question I've asked several times. Are we all really that offended by Schilling's comments? Does it change your life in the least? Or mine? I don't think so. He's just a guy with an opinion about a religious group and if he wants to believe what he wrote, that's his right. All we seem to do these days is tell people what's right to think and what's wrong to think, what's right to say and what's wrong to say.

In Schilling's case, he was hired by ESPN to talk about baseball and they must have pre-supposed that he understood he was now restricted to publishing or broadcasting any opinions that don't involve sports. Had he made those comments during a baseball broadcast he was working on ESPN -- instead of tweeting them out on his personal page -- I could easily see why ESPN would say, "Woah, there, big boy. You can't be saying that under OUR umbrella." This, though, was an opinion he rendered on his own, personal account. Like it or not, he was representing himself when he hit "send" on that tweet last Tuesday morning. He can be held accountable for his words, of course, because the term freedom-of-speech doesn't mean you can just say whatever you want WITHOUT accountability. You say it, you own it. In Schilling's case, having the opinion is OK, but, apparently, broadcasting it was not.

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birds rally in 9th, but lose 5-3 to k.c.

If only the Orioles could get the type of performance from one of their starting pitchers that Yordano Ventura delivered for the Royals on Thursday, huh? Ventura struck out 11 O's in six innings of work, then turned matters over to that now-famous K.C. bullpen, and even though the Birds nicked the dynamic trio of Herrera, Davis and Holland for three runs, the damage had been done by then and the Royals posted a 5-3 victory.

yordano
Yordano Ventura silenced the O's bats on Thursday with 11 strike-outs, one day after the Birds hit 5 home runs off of KC pitching.

Sixteen hours after the Birds had a breakout night at the plate, clobbering five home runs in an 8-5 Wednesday win, they were back to their old tricks in Thursday's get-away game. Heading into the top of the 9th (down 5-1), the Orioles had three hits on the day. It's tough to win when you've managed just three hits in eight innings of baseball. Three hits in their final at-bat plated two runs and even brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Gerardo Parra (with a man on first), but he grounded out to second to end the ballgame.

Buck Showalter was forced to fiddle with the line-up after Adam Jones left the game following a collision with the outfield wall in the bottom of the first inning. The move actually paid some dividends as both Ryan Flaherty (second home run in as many games) and Paul Janish (2 hits, a handful of sparkling defensive plays) both got to show their stuff, while veterans Parra, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters went a combined 0-for-12 in the loss.

The O's lost a game in the standings to the Rays, Angels and Rangers and a half-game to the idle Yankees, who start a 3-game series in Atlanta tonight.


FRIDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
TEXAS
K. Gausman
2-5, 4.30
C. Hamels
7-8, 3.82
8:05PM EST
GLOBE LIFE PARK


american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 69 - 57 36 4
Rangers 65 - 61 36
Angels 65 - 62 35 ½
Twins 65 - 62 35 ½
Orioles 63 - 64 35
Rays 63 - 64 38


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ravens lock up will hill as secondary concerns continue

Fresh off of an impressive first-season with the Ravens in 2014, safety Will Hill was inked to a 2-year deal on Thursday that gives Ozzie Newsome a little bit of security in the defensive backfield as the season opener approaches in a little over two weeks. With two presumed starters (Webb and Smith) both confronting training camp injuries (Smith's is more about recovery than injury, as he's returning from a season-ending foot injury suffered at last year's mid-way point), Hill's signing gives the Ravens one less thing to concern themselves with as training camp gets set to conclude.

As I've been saying for the last few weeks, depth is going to be critically important for the Ravens this season. Hill's a steady player, not a Pro Bowler or anything, but his signing and position on the depth chart is important at this stage of the team's development. If he stays healthy, the Ravens appear to be pretty well set at safety with Hill (strong) and Kendrick Lewis (free) occupying those two spots to start the season. It's at the cornerback position where John Harbaugh's team could be in trouble. If Webb can't go, and it's looking more and more like that's a real possibility, Rashaan Melvin would likely step in to a starting role and that could spell doom in Denver on September 13 when the Ravens go up against Peyton Manning and Company.

Then again, perhaps Melvin could "Wally Pipp" the oft-injured Webb, who seemingly can't stay healthy anymore and, even when playing regulary, has seen his quality of play drop-off in the last two seasons.

Breshad Perriman continues to sit on the sidelines while nursing his knee injury and it's still not known when he'll be able to resume practicing with the team. Fellow wide receiver Michael Campanaro is also nicked up -- again -- and offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Rick Wagner both missed last Saturday's game with the Eagles due to injury.



Thursday
August 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 27

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fowler, mickelson, spieth, westwood “get it” at the barclays

I spent all day Wednesday in Plainfield, New Jersey at Plainfield Country Club, site of this week’s PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoff event, The Barclays. My best friend from high school is a member at the club, so Wednesday was a great day for me to catch up with him, take in some golf, and laugh about how goofy we were back in the 1980’s as we both started to find our way out of Glen Burnie.

Let me quickly give you the only piece of bad news I witnessed during my ten hours at the golf course yesterday. I literally watched forty TOUR players come off the 9th green and walk through a roped off area near the main clubhouse that was lined with people (70% were kids, 30% were adults) seeking autographs. There were TWO, only two, players who didn’t sign anything during their 20-yard walk past the fans who were there to greet them.

Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson. Those were the two who quickened their pace and buzzed past the autograph seekers. I’ll give Furyk a morsel of credit; at least he said, “I’ll have to catch you guys later, OK?” as he steamrolled right past everyone. Simpson didn’t say a word. Nothing. Nada. He just barreled on by, white sunscreen on his face, caddie making up ground five or so yards behind him. I’ll also give both of them some “potential credit” by mentioning that it’s entirely possible they signed elsewhere on the golf course property when their pro-am rounds were over. I doubt very seriously that happened, but I’ll at least acknowledge there’s a (remote) possibility they both did, in fact, spend some valuable time with the fans after their respective rounds.

That’s a very minimal amount of bad news if you ask me.

The good news, I’m happy to report, far outweighs the bad news. Nearly every other player who came through that area stopped, smiled, looked folks in the eye and signed virtually anything they were handed. Four players stood out as I took it all in throughout the day. Phil Mickelson must have signed for at least 100 people when his round was complete. Just off the 18th green, Mickelson’s meet and greet was cookie-cutter, but still professional enough to be emulated by any of the kids coming out on TOUR who want to learn how to interact with the fans. Look them in the eye (Mickelson did), smile (Mickelson did), answer a question or two (Mickelson did) and keep moving as you sign stuff (Mickelson did).

Fowler

Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood and Jordan Spieth also went the extra mile. Fowler chatted with nearly every boy or girl who approached him, asking if they were having fun, the identity of their favorite golfer (most said it was him), and just went the extra step to connect with them. Spieth literally took off his glove and hat, signed those and threw them into the throng of people waiting for him off the 18th green, then proceeded through the line in an orderly fashion, signing, smiling, signing, smiling and so on. Westwood was out early in the morning and by the time he rolled off the 9th hole and headed to the 10th tee right next to us, there were maybe only about 40 people waiting there. Westwood signed for everyone, stopping for pictures along the way and never getting impatient when someone said, “Ooops, that one didn’t take, get we get another?” When someone asked Westwood how he liked the course he said, “I’d like it a lot better if you were playing with me,” and he smiled and signed a Barclays flag for the young patron.

It was probably fitting that Westwood was a “10” when he encountered the group of fans just off the 9th green because the player before him, Furyk, couldn’t have been less interested or engaging. “What a swell guy,” I thought, as the former FedEx Cup champion left the kids hanging without so much as a hand slap or a fist bump.

Wednesday’s pro-am gave the “regular guy” a chance to tee it up with one of the top 50 money winners in the field at $10,000 per-player clip. The players don’t particularly get anything out of it, other than a chance to see the course on the day before the tournament gets started, and it’s routinely a five to five-and-a-half-hour round that likely wears them out mentally more than physically. Still, though, one of the reasons they’re playing for an $8,250,000 purse ($1,485 million to the winner) at this week’s event in Plainfield is because of the great unwashed with their 14-handicaps and their willingness to shell out $10,000 for the privilege of playing alongside a PGA Tour player for 18 holes. That made Dustin Johnson’s mid-round withdrawal all the more disappointing. DJ literally walked ten feet in front of me—credit given here, he DID sign for everyone who was standing around between the 9th green and 10th tee—and said to a TOUR official, “I’m gonna need to get out of here, I don’t feel well.” They moved further away from us so the conversation could become more private. A few minutes later, DJ shook hands with his group, ducked behind the 10th tee box into the clubhouse, and his day was done. Thankfully, the TOUR pulled David Hearn off the practice putting green and he took DJ’s spot for the final nine holes, but imagine the frustration of forking over $10,000 to play with a player in the field, getting Dustin Johnson, and then having him bail on you mid-round.

It was an awesome day in all, though. It’s easy to see why so many people flock to PGA Tour events to see golf’s stars and get as close to them as they can, albeit if only for a fleeting moment or two. It was also interesting to see the juxtaposition between the younger guys who want the fans to embrace them (Fowler, Spieth) and the older, veteran players who have earned more money in their careers than they could possibly need (Mickelson, Westwood) and yet still stand there, smiling and high-fiving their way from hole-to-hole, signing autographs, posing for pictures and, generally, just being really good guys.

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have home run, will travel; orioles hit five hr in 7-5 win at kc

It was bound to happen at some point, right? The Orioles had gone six straight games with three runs or less (which resulted in six straight losses as well) and the faithful in town were starting to get nervous as August comes to an end and the meaningful month of September baseball approaches. The Birds went back to doing what they know best last night in KC, pounding out five home runs in an 8-5 victory over the Royals. Manny Machado erased an early 2-0 KC lead with his 26th home run of the year in the 3rd inning, followed later by round-trippers from Jonathan Schoop (a monster shot of 427 feet), Chris Davis, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty.

The win helped the Birds pick up a game on the Yankees (6-2 losers to Houston), Texas (12-4 losers to Toronto) and Angels (5-0 losers to the Tigers). The red-hot Twins won again (in Tampa Bay), but other than that, the Wild Card chase got a bit tighter on Wednesday night thanks to the Baltimore home-run barrage

Wei-Yin Chen worked into the 7th, going 6.2 innings while allowing 10 hits and three earned runs. Brad Brach and Brian Matusz both allowed an earned run in their appearances on Wednesday, but Darren O’Day and Zach Britton blanked the Royals as the O’s took their first game in the four-game series that concludes this afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.




american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –



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three picks for this week’s pga tour event

The golf course at Planfield CC isn’t overly long by TOUR standards, but it features long, penalizing rough that more than one player on Wednesday noted was “tougher than the PGA Championship we played a couple of weeks ago.” Look for guys to prosper this week who keep it in play off the tee and can putt the severe, Donald Ross-designed greens.

Robert Streb
Robert Streb

Robert Streb has had a terrific season on TOUR and is in position to chase the big $10 million FedEx Cup champions' check if he continues to play well and sneaks in a win somewhere over the next month or so. I like his chances this week. He doesn’t do anything overly impressive but he’s one of those plodders who bores you to death by hitting the fairway, hitting the green and making a putt or two (or six) over the course of 18 holes to shoot a ho-hum 68.

Marc Leishman had a chance to win the British Open and I have a hunch his strong play will continue this week at Plainfield. He’s a big strong guy who will be able to handle the long rough if need be and he’s putting the lights out of it over the last month and a half. It’s the kind of win he needs to validate his position as one of the TOUR’s up-and-coming international players.

I’m going with Adam Scott to win this week and get his playoff run off to a great start. He’s one of the game’s best ball strikers and his ability to keep the ball below the hole on his approach shots into the tricky Plainfield greens should give him an edge over a majority of the field. If his putter cooperates, look for Scott to hold up the trophy on Sunday afternoon.



pope francis bus-trip seats on sale now

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

Pope Francis waving

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

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

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

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Wednesday
August 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 26

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webb, perriman starting to concern ravens?

One of Ozzie Newsome’s favorite sayings over the years when it comes to player personnel matters is this: “I’m especially interested in guys who touch the ball or touch the quarterback.” From that, you can extrapolate a couple of things, but one thing stands out these days in the pass-happy NFL. The skill-position guys involved in the air game—on both sides of the ball—are critically important.

Having ended the three week “fun and games” portion of training camp, the Ravens are putting the regular-season opener in Denver on September 13 right in their crosshairs. And what they’re seeing from a few different people is concerning as the Redskins come to town this Saturday for that all-important (and, frankly, ONLY important) third pre-season game of the year.

Lardarius Webb
It seems like Lardarius Webb has a bothersome injury every season. The Ravens might be starting to get nervous about this year's ailment.

Lardarius Webb’s hamstring injury that forced him to miss the first two silly-season games has grown into a legitimate worry for John Harbaugh and Dean Pees. What was first thought to be a day-to-day thing (“he felt a little twinge, so he got some ice on it right away and we think he’ll be fine in a couple of days”) has turned into a multi-week respite that doesn’t appear to be healing as quickly as the club and Webb first thought it might.

But it’s not just this injury to Webb that rankles the Ravens. It’s an every-season-thing now, and that’s not to say the veteran cornerback is trying to get hurt or anything…but the harsh reality is he’s been fighting some sort of injury for the better part of the last four years. A pair of knee injuries a few years ago, a back and groin ailment that cost him seven weeks last season, and now this, a hamstring injury that was part of an odd start to camp when Webb failed the team’s initial physical-conditioning test.

Breshad Perriman—like Webb, he’s a guy who “touches the ball”—is the team’s biggest worry because there’s no history with the rookie wide receiver and trainers don’t know what to make of this lingering PCL knee injury that has kept him sidelined for virtually all of training camp. Like Webb, Perriman was initially expected to only miss a few days at most, but the swelling wouldn’t diminish and he spent nearly two weeks treating it without much improvement. A MRI last week confirmed the injury hasn’t worsened, but it’s not getting better, either. And, even though he went through all of the team’s off-season programs, Perriman—unlike Webb, who knows the system—needs every rep he can get with Joe Flacco and the other receivers. Already hampered without a high quality group of pass catchers, the Ravens can ill afford to have Perriman miss any regular season games. By this time next week, if he’s not practicing, it’s time to start pushing the worry button.

So, where does that leave the Ravens? My guess—and it’s just a hunch, but I’d bet a Chinese lunch I’m right—is the club is going to pay very close attention to the waiver wire when teams start to trim their rosters after next weekend. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta consider bringing in a veteran cornerback and another wide receiver if someone of any quality gets released prior to the season opener. They’d likely gamble and wait until after the first game of the season to sign a veteran, as veterans' contracts aren’t guaranteed once week one comes and goes, but if Webb and Perriman are indeed going to be burdened with their respective injuries, the current group of players and the depth they bring simply aren’t good enough.

Depending on how things shake out with those two—not to mention Kelechi Osemele, who might have a more serious Achilles injury than first suspected, also—the Ravens may have to fiddle with their salary cap prior to the season if they do go out and line-up a veteran or two. If they get to the point where they’re really pinching pennies, don’t be surprised if Matt Schaub gets the-phone-call-he-doesn’t-want-to-get the week of the season opener. For starters, the Ravens aren’t all that thrilled with what they’ve seen of him over the last few months. Schaub was available in the off-season for a reason: no team in the NFL thinks he’s capable of competing for a starting job in the league. The biggest reason? He doesn’t have the arm strength anymore. If he were to play in a game because of an injury to Flacco, it would be one of those 40-rush, 24-throw affairs, where the Ravens try to Trent-Dilfer-the-other-team-to-death and not expose Schaub or force him to make 8 to 10 throws per quarter.

Osemele’s injury status is up in the air, but it would appear just from observation alone that it’s not as favorable as we were first led to believe. By his own admission, the offensive guard thought he’d be back on the field by now, so there’s that little piece of evidence to support the idea that it might be more serious than first thought. Those three—Perriman, Webb and Osemele—represent integral pieces of the Ravens projected starting roster and would seriously put a dent in the team’s post-season hopes if all three aren’t available for any significant length of time during the regular season.

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bo's eye view

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

assessing saturday’s pre-season loss to the eagles

There was plenty of teeth-gnashing after the Ravens' 40-17 loss to the Eagles on Saturday, but c'mon, it's the preseason, right? The Ravens don't have anything to worry about, do they? Or do they?

Here are three reasons why the Ravens have no reason to panic after Saturday night's debacle—and three reasons why they do.

THREE REASONS NOT TO PANIC

1. The game didn’t count.

When the regular season begins on Sept. 13 at Denver, the Ravens will be 0-0, and the results of the Eagles game—and the other three preseason games—will be nothing more than a footnote. Can you remember the Ravens' record last preseason? Exactly.

2. The Ravens didn’t really scheme to beat the Eagles.

True, the Ravens looked a step slow and bewildered by the Eagles' fast-paced offense, but coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens never really prepared for that. You can argue whether that is the main reason the Ravens' defense was shredded, but the fact is, teams don't put a lot of energy into drawing up schemes and game plans for Week 2 of the pre-season.

3. Did you see who was playing up front?

The Ravens played most of the game with third- and fourth-teamers on the offensive line. Starters Rick Wagner and Kelechi Osemele didn't play at all, nor did backups John Urschel or Jah Reid. Then backup tackle James Hurst got hurt. So did DeOndre Wesley. Marcel Jones and Nick Easton and Kaleb Johnson were mainstays along the offensive line. Heck, Ryan Jensen played every offensive snap. It won't be that way in the regular season.


THREE REASONS TO PANIC

1. The injuries are piling up.

Forget the score. But when the injury count starts rising, that's a problem. A handful of offensive linemen are banged up, including the top three guards not named Marshal Yanda. The Ravens better hope Kelechi Osemele's Achilles injury doesn't linger into the season. Lorenzo Taliaferro is out for "a few weeks" at least with an MCL sprain, according to John Harbaugh. Lardarius Webb was supposed to be healthy this year, but right now he's not (hamstring). Michael Campanaro, who has had a very good camp, is hurt yet again, this time with what Harbaugh described on Monday as a "soft-tissue issue." And Matt Elam and Brent Urban were lost for at least half the season with biceps injuries. True, every team has injuries. But that doesn't make them any less painful for the Ravens.

2. There are major questions at wide receiver.

Breshad Perriman has practiced exactly once in training camp. Michael Campanaro is hurt again. Halfway through the preseason, the Ravens still have at least as many questions as answers at wide receiver. And without Perriman, the Ravens have no one who can blow by the defense and take advantage of Joe Flacco's huge arm. Against the Eagles, Flacco threw deep to Kamar Aiken, but he was well covered, and the pass was deflected and then intercepted. Marc Trestman's system might rely a lot on short passes to the tight ends and running backs, but ultimately, you need to take some shots downfield. Until Perriman hits the field, the Ravens don't appear to have a legitimate deep threat.

3. Those were the starters that got routed.

True, preseason games are bench-emptying affairs. But the Ravens starters—on both sides of the ball—were the ones who dug a quick 17-0 hole. The starting defense was abysmal. Prepared for the Eagles' speed or not, they looked lost, slow and undisciplined, with penalties galore. The offense fared little better. In three possessions, Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and never got the ball past midfield. The special teams gave up a punt-return touchdown. The Ravens need to be better in all three phases.

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birds lose 3-2, drop 6th in a row to fall below .500

This one was close, but Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Royals sent the Birds to a position in the standings they hadn’t encountered since August of 2011. With last night’s loss, the O’s fell below .500 at 62-63—the first time since August of ’11 that the O’s were below .500 this late in the season. It’s becoming a chore now, as the bats refuse to produce the big blow and the starting pitching can’t deliver one of those stop-the-bleeding-performances where you can wind up winning even with seven hits and two runs.

The Orioles have now gone six straight games without a win and six straight games scoring three runs or less. Those two pieces of data go hand-in-hand. You’re unlikely to win many games scoring three runs or less unless you’re starting pitching is over the moon good. Therein lies the Birds’ problem. Starting pitching … not all that good. Team’s offense … not all that good. Result: More losses than wins.

Buck Showalter continues to have a puzzling month of August. Last night’s lineup featured afternoon call-up Paul Janish at shortstop, which meant Ryan Flaherty got the night off. We all know Flaherty’s limitations, but look real hard at his career numbers and you’ll see an increase in production for him when he plays 15 or more games a month. He’s most definitely not a reliable guy with the bat coming off the bench, but if Flaherty gets to play every day, he’ll figure out a way to make a contribution at the plate over that period of time. Bringing Janish up for defensive protection is fine and understandable: he’s excellent with the glove. But two days after J.J. Hardy goes on the disabled list and Flaherty inherits the position, Showalter is already subbing for him with a guy who has a .214 career batting average and .284 lifetime on-base-percentage. I respect the whole lefty-righty pitcher/hitter thing, but Janish isn’t REALLY a major league player. Flaherty IS, albeit perhaps as the #23 or #24 guy on the current roster.

Buck tried to out-smart the Twins on Sunday in Baltimore and wound up wearing the goat horns after his manipulations landed Jimmy Paredes (at third base) and Manny Machado (at shortstop) in unfamiliar defensive positions. Those two both made 12th-inning errors that led to a Minnesota victory. Monday night in Kansas City, Ubaldo Jimenez was laboring after giving up a 2-run home run that tied the game at 3-3, but Showalter left him in just long enough for the Royals to slap five more runs on the board to win, 8-3. I get it. The manager lives and dies by the performance of his players. If Adam Jones knocks in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning on Sunday, Showalter looks like Einstein based on the moves he made. If Janish hits a 3-run home run tonight and adds an 8th inning sacrifice fly to give the O’s an insurance run in a 6-4 win, Buck’s running for mayor—again. Instead, Janish goes 1-for-3, offers nothing special at the plate, and Flaherty sits on the bench missing out on the chance to get into a rhythm that could increase his production.

It’s never good to lose six straight, but doing so in late August can be severely penalizing. Toronto, the Angels and the Twins all won on Tuesday night, pushing the O’s further back in both the Eastern Division race and the chase for the A.L.’s second wild-card spot. It’s not “must win” territory yet. Not even close. But this losing needs to stop soon. Like, tonight.

tuesday night baseball round up

One way or the other, the Orioles were going to like the result out of Arlington, Texas last night. If Toronto lost, perhaps that would mark the beginning of a cooling off period for the Blue Jays. If Texas lost, the Birds could keep them within easy each in the Wild Card race. The Rangers entered the 9th inning with a 5-4 lead, but an Adrian Beltre error helped Toronto push across two runs and win, 6-5, moving them into first place in the Eastern Division.

Minnesota continued their excellent play of late with an 11-7 win in Tampa Bay, the fifth straight win for the Twins, now 64-61 and tied with the Angels for the second wild-card spot in the American League. The Angels edged Detroit, 8-7, and the Astros lit up Ivan Nova and the Yankees, 15-1, in New York.

The Amazing Mets continue to amaze, as they won in Philadelphia, 6-5, picking up their 5th straight win while staying 5.5 games ahead of second place Washington. Likewise, the Cubs won their 5th straight on Tuesday night in San Francisco while the Dodgers increased their West lead to 2.5 games over the Giants by winning at Cincinnati, 5-1.



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who wants to join us on our ravens trip to pittsburgh on oct. 1?

If you’re thinking about making the trip to Heinz Field on October 1st to see the Ravens and Steelers, you still have time to get your seat(s) on the #DMD bus. We have room for 40 people on our bus to Pittsburgh, and 30 seats have been secured thus far. Your price is $240, which includes a comfortable bus ride, game ticket (with other Ravens fans on our bus), plus food and drinks on the way to Pittsburgh and at our drop-off point across from the stadium.

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

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

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



Tuesday
August 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 25

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birds fall back to .500 and it's probably time to start worrying...at least a little bit

I guess I'll keep saying "there's lots of baseball left" until a dozen or so games remain on the schedule, but despite losing five straight now, the Orioles do, still, have lots of baseball left to play. The only problem? They might not win many of those baseball games. Staked to a 3-1 lead and owning an optimistic mid-game pitch count, Monday's game in Kansas City looked there for the taking for starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez. Then the sixth inning rolled around. Suddenly, it was 8-3 in favor of the Royals. And that was how it ended, as the O's fell back to .500 and lost a game in the standings to the Yankees and a half-game to the others in the American League playoff race, all of whom were idle on Monday.

cleve
Not many guys have been hitting in August, but Mount Saint Joe grad Steve Clevenger contributed again last night with a RBI double to extend his hit streak to 8 straight games.

This, now, is officially a tailspin for the Orioles. What looked to be a promising resurgence last weekend when the O's treated the A's like chopped liver has quickly turned into a miserable seven days, as Buck Showalter's team has lost 6 of their last 7 games and displays the look of a team that is beginning to crack at precisely the worst time of the season. Once again on Monday night, the Baltimore bats were basically a non-factor, as they recorded five hits on the night, none of which came after the fourth inning. It was the 5th straight game the O's have failed to score more than three runs, another stat that doesn't bode well for a team looking to make a late season run and move back into the post-season for the third time in four years.

It would be fair at this point to note that Kansas City doesn't have the best record in the American League by accident. They're a well-oiled machine, particularly in their ballpark, and once their bullpen gets a hold of you, the post-game buffet starts getting put out by the catering folks. There's not much they don't do well. Six of their nine starters on Monday night had a batting average of .270 or better and their glove-work in the field is as dependable as Bradley Cooper taking off his shirt at some point in every movie he makes. Their starting staff is good, their relief pitchers even better, and they have that distinct sense of confidence about themselves that is off-putting to everyone outside of Kansas City but endearing to anyone who likes the club. They're good -- and they know it.

The Orioles, meanwhile -- at least right now -- aren't good. Perhaps that 15-2 thrashing administered at home on Thursday night by the Minnesota Twins is still an open wound. Losing four straight games to the Twins definitely left a mark, particularly when coupled with the fact that the Texas Rangers are suddenly in can't-lose mode and have now moved past the Orioles and Angels and into the second wild card spot in the American League. And, yes, maybe this is just the way it's going to play out in 2015. I thought this team had one solid, three-week run left in them to make September interesting, but perhaps I was wrong on that assessment. A couple of more losses in K.C. and a series loss in Texas this weekend and you might be looking at a month of baseball in September that doesn't really matter all that much.

Fortunately, there's lots of baseball left. The O's just need to win a game to remember what that feels like once again. It's time for baby steps.

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#dmd announces coverage of english premier league soccer

Never let it be said that we don't read your e-mails and heed your suggestions. We can't do EVERYTHING you ask of us, of course, but a large number of readers reached out to me over the summer to ask that we provide some coverage to the English Premier League -- and we're going to do it, starting in September.

EPL
EPL powerhouse Chelsea FC will be featured prominently in #DMD's expanded English Premier League coverage starting in September.

Admittedly, I'm not an outdoor soccer fan, unless it's the World Cup and/or the U.S. Men's and Women National Team(s). I haven't followed or watched a game from England in a decade or more, but that doesn't mean anything when it comes to evaluating whether the content would be a good addition here at #DMD. Those of you who contacted me over the summer did a nice job of convincing me the EPL was something we should cover more extensively … so beginning on Friday, September 10, you'll be getting a weekly preview of the top games for the upcoming weekend plus a look at the current EPL standings and any significant roster moves, injuries, etc. that are important enough to pass on to our soccer followers. Our #DMD correspondent for the English Premier League will be Matt Carroll, who runs his own soccer website and follows the EPL the way you and I follow the Ravens, Orioles, etc. I don't know one player who plays soccer in England; Matt knows everyone's date of birth and what city they're from. He's the man for the job and I'm quite certain you'll enjoy his thorough coverage of the EPL. And if you're not a fan, give it a couple of weeks, read up, and see if you're enlightened. That's what I'm going to do.

I also hear all of the pay-for-play fantasy sports sites either already have or are adding English Premier League to their stable of "events", so check out what Matt has to say before you submit your weekly line-up and perhaps he can add a few bucks to your bank account.


umbc athletics extends partnership with #dmd for 2015-2016

Drew's Morning Dish is also excited to announce the renewal of a corporate partnership with UMBC Athletics that will extend from September through April and offer #DMD readers daily information on the Retrievers as well as promotional support for men's and women's soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. A daily "calendar" at #DMD will provide scores and updates for UMBC teams in addition to promoting upcoming home games for their various athletic teams.

umbc

It's no secret I'm a fan of UMBC sports and a promoter of what they do over on Wilkens Avenue. Pete Caringi has been a friend of mine for 25 years now. I once tried to hire him to coach the indoor soccer team in town. He's an outstanding coach and a true ambassador for soccer in Baltimore and Maryland. Head Women's Basketball Coach Phil Stern is also a friend. I love his passion for basketball and coaching. Behind-the-scenes, Tim Hall, Steve Levy, Mike D'Archangelo and Kevin Gibbons O'Neill work tirelessly to make UMBC Athletics one of our area's premier Division I programs and I'm very happy to be working with them in 2015-2016. I don't just "talk the talk", either. I go to the RAC for basketball games, visit Retriever Soccer Park several times during the Fall and spend a lot of time over there in general because I like the people in the athletic department.

Be on the lookout for #DMD's increased coverage and partnership with UMBC Athletics starting next week.

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machado, suggs -- both should know better

Let me get the easy one out of the way first, because Manny Machado's embarrassing behavior following Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Twins was simply inexcusable. Speaking to the media after his 12th inning error helped open the door for a Minnesota series sweep, Machado dropped the f-bomb twice and threw in a few other bad words as reporters asked him about the game and his fielding miscue. No one in the locker room is a prude, mind you, but Machado's expletive-laden mini-tirade meant some of his post-game comments couldn't be aired on TV and/or radio -- at least not without some creative editing, that is. He's been around long enough to know that doesn't fly in the post-game setting. You don't stand there at your locker and toss f-bombs around into live microphones. I have no idea if the Orioles front office brass cares or not, but it was a very poor look for Machado and certainly worth at least a note from the club to say, "Hey bro, watch your f*(%ing language after the games, got it?"

sizzle
Another reason why pre-season football games are silly. Terrell Suggs made a tackle on Saturday night that would have been perfectly fine in a regular season game, but in pre-season???

The Terrell Suggs blow-to-the-knee on Eagles QB Sam Bradford last Saturday night is a bit more touchy because Suggs, by the rules, made a legal tackle according to the NFL. That said -- it wasn't one of Terrell's finer moments when you take into consideration he's a veteran who knows full good and well his job and playing position are locked up for the 2015 season. It was an overzealous attempt to put the quarterback on the ground, the kind of play you'd expect an unsigned free-agent to make in an effort to impress the coaching staff with his in-game tenacity. Like almost everything that happens in the NFL these days, more was made out of if than needed, but I tend to reverse the roles when things like that happen and wonder how I would feel if someone from the Eagles went after Dennis Pitta's hip in a meaningless pre-season game. Regular season game? All's fair in love, war and NFL Sundays. Pre-season game? No need to try and break someone in two. Suggs wasn't wrong on Saturday, but he wasn't right, either. There's a fine line there, one I'd expect a guy like him to appreciate and respect. He evidently doesn't.

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Yankees nip Astros, Birds fall seven behind NY & Toronto

Carlos Beltran produced a 9th inning walk-off sacrifice fly last night in New York to give the Yankees a 1-0 win over the Astros, pushing the Yanks into a first-place tie in the A.L. East with the Toronto Blue Jays at 69-55. (For simplicity purposes, we've kept the Yankees as the Wild Card leader in the standings below).

The Orioles, meanwhile, are now tied with Tampa Bay for third place in the division at 62-62 following Monday night's 8-3 loss in Kansas City. The Rays host the Twins for three games starting tonight in St. Petersburg before heading to Baltimore next week for an important series with the O's.



TUESDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
KANSAS CITY
M. Gonzalez
9-9, 4.73
D. Duffy
6-6, 4.18
8:10PM EST
KAUFFMAN STADIUM



american league wild card standings (top 2 teams qualify)



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 69 - 55 38
Rangers 64 - 59 39
Angels 63 - 61 38
Twins 63 - 61 38
Orioles 62 - 62 38
Rays 62 - 62 38


Monday
August 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 24

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bats, not gloves, let o's down in four-game sweep by twins

Four games against the Twins -- four HOME games, no less -- and a grand total of TEN runs scored by the Orioles. Ten runs in 39 innings. And four straight losses.

The Birds, now 62-61, go limping into Kansas City for the start of a four-game series tonight, having squandered a 9th inning lead on Sunday and losing 4-3 to the Twins in 12 innings. The Orioles were 54-0 this season when leading after eight innings, but -- as the saying goes -- all good things must come to an end. Two errors in the top of the 12th doomed the Orioles, but the gloves weren't the responsible party for the 4-game sweep at the hands of Minnesota over the weekend. The Orioles bats, as has been the case for a large part of the season's second half, simply can't produce when runners are in scoring position. It's been an issue since late June and continues to plague the team now, as the O's were 2-for-12 with RISP on Sunday. Minnesota's bullpen was the story of the sweep, as they threw 15.2 innings of shut-out ball vs. the Orioles. Baltimore's bullpen was dinged up in all four games, including Sunday's 4-3 loss when Zach Britton blew his third save of the season by allowing three hits and one run in the top of the 9th inning. Britton now boasts an interesting - albeit unproductive - stat. He leads all relief pitchers in the major leagues in infield hits allowed this season at 15.

jimmyp
There's a reason why Jimmy Paredes doesn't play in the field much. You saw why on Sunday afternoon in the 4-3 loss to the Twins.

Lots of people banged on Buck pretty hard after Sunday's 4-3 loss, but the game I was watching didn't have Showalter at shortstop or third base. True, the manager put those two there (Machado at SS, Paredes at 3B), but the balls they both misplayed in the 12th inning were garden-variety major league grounders. Machado's gaffe can be explained away by noting it was the first time he's played shortstop in the majors and the ball probably came at him an angle he's not used to seeing. Paredes just isn't very good with the glove; that's how you explain his costly error that plated the game-winning run.

Now, I'll go ahead and slap the manager around a little bit, since it was his wacky maneuvering in the 8th and 11th innings that put those two in the field at their respective positions in the first place. And I'll also explain how a weird twist of fate that everyone thought was a positive turned into a game-changing negative. First, in the 8th inning, Showalter sent Matt Wieters in to pinch hit for Ryan Flaherty, who played shortstop on Sunday to give ailing J.J. Hardy (groin) a day off. With a runner on second and the O's up 3-2, Wieters grounded out to third to end the inning. That started a chain of events that eventually cost the O's dearly a few innings later.

Flaherty -- the one guy left on the team who can actually play third base a little (besides Machado) -- was done for the day after Wieters pinch-hit for him, so in came Hardy to play shortstop. In the bottom of the 11th with one out, Hardy and the piano-on-his-back somehow legged out an infield single. To say Hardy was struggling to run would be an understatement. Manny Machado flew out and then, the twist of fate appeared. Gerardo Parra apparently made the inning's third out, but Eddie Rosario dropped the foul ball to keep the at-bat and inning alive. As is ALWAYS the case whenever a player drops a foul ball out, it came back to haunt the Twins, as Parra singled to move Hardy to second base. Or did it haunt the Twins? With the injured Hardy now at second, Showalter opted to pinch-run for him, swapping Hardy for Jimmy Paredes -- with Adam Jones coming to the plate. Jones struck out to end the inning, which then necessitated the O's move someone to shortstop since Hardy was now out of the game. Machado scoots over to short, Paredes dusts off his glove and goes to third and...well...you know what happened in the next inning. The weird twist of fate? If Rosario catches that foul ball for the third out, Hardy stays in the game at shortstop, Machado remains at third, and who knows how the game winds up concluding?

Showalter gambled on Jones knocking in the winning run on Sunday and it backfired. That's the story of the game, really. It probably wasn't the smartest move to pinch hit for Flaherty in the 8th inning, particularly given the fact Hardy was on the bench nursing an injury and the Orioles were leading at the time, but all of the moves in the 11th inning were predicated on the manager having faith in his best overall offensive player and that guy, Jones, failing to come through when needed. That's not to excuse Machado and Paredes for their 12th inning blunders; both of those balls were easy pick-ups. But the bats once again held the Orioles back on Sunday...as they've done time and time again over the last 60 games or so.

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ravens need good health, not wins, in pre-season

I know John Harbaugh well enough to know two things: First, I bet the fur was flying in the Ravens locker room at halftime on Saturday night, and it probably carried over to the post-game meeting with the players before they all snuck out of Lincoln Financial Field following that 40-17 loss to the Eagles. Second, I'm quite certain Harbaugh got on the bus, leaned over to Marc Trestman and Dean Pees, and said, "The good thing about this beating -- it doesn't mean a thing."

A coach -- or one worth his salt, which Harbaugh is -- would NEVER watch a shellacking like the Ravens took in the first half on Saturday and not ream a few folks out as a result. The defensive line was awful, the secondary a step slow, and even though it looked like Philadelphia was trying to win and the Ravens didn't care if they won, the Eagles took advantage of every opportunity they could in running up a 24-0 halftime lead. Joe Flacco and the offense weren't any good -- as evidenced by that scoring stat; zero points -- and the special teams unit even got burned, allowing a 68-yard punt return for a TD.

eugene
The Ravens need their offensive line to stay healthy in 2015, particularly their starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe.

The biggest concern from Saturday night? That's easy. If the depth we saw vs. the Eagles is what we'll be working with in the upcoming regular season, the Ravens better hope they stay injury free throughout the year. There's not much hope once we get past the top six on the offensive line. Rick Wagner and Kelechi Osemele were inactive for the game and Eugene Monroe only saw limited action after suffering a minor hand injury. If Wagner, Osemele and one more veteran, Monroe or anyone else, goes down this season, it might not be a pretty sight.

The same goes for the secondary. At face value, the Ravens are decent enough back there, but if something were to happen to Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb (and, let's face it, both have been injury prone in their respective careers), it could get ugly. We already know if something happens to Joe Flacco, the Ravens are cooked, but is there any reason at all to take a serious look at the back-up position and consider whether Bryn Renner is a better fit than aging, declining Matt Schaub? I'm not saying Renner is the answer to ANY quarterback woes the Ravens would have if Flacco were to go down, but I also don't think Schaub is the guy, either. Renner has at least "looked the part" enough to earn some consideration for the back-up spot, in my opinion.

While the wide receiving corps continues to have their moments, they're far too on-again-off-again to be counted on as a strength in 2015. With Breshad Perriman still nursing a PCL injury in his knee, the Ravens are desperate to find a player or two who can compliment Steve Smith. Some days, it looks like that guy might be Jeremy Butler. He's shown flashes of NFL potential going all the way back to last May's passing camp at Owings Mills. Then there's Darren Waller, who caught a TD pass on Saturday night. Tom Nelson, a converted safety, has displayed good route running ability, but does he have the hands and speed to actually make a contribution as a receiver in the NFL? If Perriman's injury continues to bother him, the Baltimore offense will need to do some serious improvising in the first few weeks of the season -- or go out and get a veteran wide receiver who is looking for a job. I can't see the receiving group of Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, Steve Smith and the aforementioned free agents making a dent in the Denver secondary on September 13.

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o's head to k.c. and texas in "really need to win" mode

It's not "must win" time yet, but it's getting close. I'd label this week's Orioles road trip to Kansas City and Texas as "really need to win", as in somehow go 5-2 or, at worst, 4-3, over those seven straight away games. It wouldn't have been quite so necessary had the O's not lost four in a row to Minnesota, but now a 5-2 road trip is almost a mandate in order to keep pace with the teams ahead of the Birds.

J.J. Hardy has been placed on the disabled list to rest his sore groin, so expect Ryan Flaherty to get the bulk of the work at shortstop for the time being. Steve Pearce, on the DL since July 19, will get the call-up to take Hardy's spot on the roster.

In Kansas City this week, the O's will face pitchers Kris Medlen (Monday), Danny Duffy (Tuesday), Johnny Cueto (Wednesday) and Yordano Ventura (Thursday). Looking ahead to Texas, their starters are tentatively slated to be Cole Hamels (Friday), Martin Perez (Saturday) and Derek Holland (Sunday).



MONDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
KANSAS CITY
U. Jimenez
9-7, 3.97
K. Medlen
1st start of 2015
8:10PM EST
KAUFFMAN STADIUM




a.l. wild card spots are truly up for grabs now

All the sudden, the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays are back on top in the American League East and it's the Yankees who now occupy the top spot in the wild card chase with a four-game lead over second place Texas. The Rangers have won 8 of their last 10 to inch 1.5 games ahead of the Angels, who are now deadlocked with the surprising Twins at 63-61. The Orioles and Rays both have 62 wins, so they're far from out of it at this point. It's clearly going right down to the wire the American League, as everyone tries their darndest to not have to play the one-game crap shoot otherwise known as the "wild card game". Everyone remembers, though, that both teams in last season's World Series were Wild Card teams who got hot in October and made it all the way to the Fall Classic after facing an elimination game in their first post-season contest.



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 68 - 55 39 4
Rangers 64 - 59 39
Angels 63 - 61 38
Twins 63 - 61 38
Orioles 62 - 61 39 2
Rays 62 - 62 38


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no sunday love for tiger, but plenty for dliii

The record will show that in the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season, Tiger Woods failed to win a tournament. This was made official around 6:00 pm yesterday when Woods shot a final round 70 to finish at -13, four shots behind winner Davis Love III, who was the surprise winner in Greensboro after a final round 64 got him to 17-under par. Love III nipped Jason Gore by a shot for his first win on the PGA Tour since November of 2008.

For Woods, the sting of a winless season includes failing to make the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs, which start this Thursday at Plainfield CC with The Barclay's hosting the top 125 players from the 2015-2016 money list. Woods entered Sunday's final round just two shots behind Gore and was hanging in there on the front nine with six pars to open his round. He'd wind up making bogey at number seven and triple bogey at number eleven and that was the end of Tiger's dream to capture his 80th career PGA title and earn his way into the playoffs, as well.

davis
It's back to The Masters for Davis Love III, as he returns to Augusta next April after his win in Greensboro yesterday.

Love III, 51, is the third oldest player to win a PGA Tour event. Sam Snead won at 52 years old while Art Wall won at age 51, three months ahead of Love III, who captured his third career win in Greensboro on Sunday and 21st overall. The 1997 PGA champion, Love III is the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain.

For Woods, it's a couple of months off before the next "wrap-around season" begins on TOUR in early October with the Frys.com Open. He'll at least have a solid final tournament to look back on, as it was the first time in more than two years that Woods entered the last round within two shots of the lead. He ended the 2014-2015 season 178th on the money list.


who wants to join us on our ravens trip to pittsburgh on oct. 1?

If you’re thinking about making the trip to Heinz Field on October 1st to see the Ravens and Steelers, you still have time to get your seat(s) on the #DMD bus. We have room for 40 people on our bus to Pittsburgh, and 30 seats have been secured thus far. Your price is $240, which includes a comfortable bus ride, game ticket (with other Ravens fans on our bus), plus food and drinks on the way to Pittsburgh and at our drop-off point across from the stadium.

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

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

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



Sunday
August 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 23

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orioles fall to twins again, 3-2, as "big four" go 1-for-15

OK, it's starting to get a little concerning for the Orioles now. Not only are they in danger of being swept at home in a 4-game series by the Minnesota Twins, but the Birds are about to embark on a crucial 7-game road trip to Kansas City (4 games) and Texas (3) this week that could start to determine their fate in the American League Wild Card race. Baltimore (62-60) now trails 3rd place Los Angeles (63-60) by a half-game in the wild card standings, as Texas has moved into the second wild card spot at 63-59 following their win in Detroit last night.

adamjones
It was another frustrating night for Adam Jones, who went 0-for-4 to lower his batting average to .281.

Saturday night at Camden Yards, it was another late-game uprising from the Twins that pushed them to a 3-2 win, as Minnesota scored twice in the top of the 7th inning to win in Baltimore for the third straight night. The O's managed just seven hits last night and had only one base runner (Clevenger, 8th inning infield single) in their final three at-bats, as the Twins bullpen allowed just one hit in 3.1 innings of work. The story of the game can be told by looking at the O's first four hitters; Machado (1-for-5), Parra (0-4), Jones (0-4) and Davis (0-2) went a combined 1-for-15 on Saturday night. That's a recipe for a loss nine games out of ten. Steve Clevenger was the only Oriole with two hits in the game.

Chris Tillman pitched into the 7th inning, allowing four hits and three earned runs in 6.2 innings. The loss dropped Tillman to 9-8 on the year and his ERA is now 4.51.

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ravens get hammered in philly, 40-17

You can cue the "it's only pre-season" comments and start them....right....now, but Saturday night's pre-season shellacking in Philadelphia was anything but promising for the Ravens, who were gutted on all three sides of the ball in the opening half. True, the Ravens coaching staff didn't actually "game plan" for the Eagles (and that DOES matter), instead opting to run just base packages on offense and defense, but it was still an embarrassment in the first half when the Ravens got pushed around on defense and overwhelmed on offense to the tune of a 24-0 Philadelphia lead.

bryn
Last Thursday, Bryn Renner's last second TD pass beat the Saints. He didn't have that same magic last night in Philadelphia.

Joe Flacco didn't get hurt, but his performance was ailing. Flacco threw a pair of first-half interceptions, one that WAS his fault and one that WASN'T, and the Ravens offense suffered a handful of injuries, although the starters who got hurt (Taliaferro, Monroe) seemingly picked up minor injuries at best. Third string quarterback Bryn Renner went 15-21 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, as free agents Darren Waller (TD catch) and Tom Nelson (2 catches, 20 yards) both looked good again as they try to make the 53-man roster. Waller appears to have the best chance of the two, along with Jeremy Butler, who caught two passes (on five targes) for 14 yards on Saturday night.

3rd year linebacker Arthur Brown had a decent night defensively with three solo tackles and a quarterback hit, while free agent cornerback Cassius Vaughn made five solo tackles. The Ravens defensive line was swamped in the first half, allowing the Eagles to score twice on the ground within a four-minute span in the first quarter. A Kenjon Barner punt return for a TD with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter was a special teams faux pas John Harbaugh will no doubt harp on this week at practice in Owings Mills.

Yes, yes, it's ONLY pre-season. That's very true. But in the opening thirty minutes, albeit with no special schemes in place to offset the Eagles run-and-gun offense, the Ravens were no match for Chip Kelly's team -- on either side of the ball. What you take from the game is simple: Joe Flacco didn't get hurt and a few players vying for roster spots (Waller, Nelson, Butler) saw extensive playing time and were decent enough to show some promise if, in fact, they make the team in a couple of weeks.

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huge week on tap for o's, others in american league playoff race

A home-stand that started so promising with a four-game sweep of the Oakland A's will need to be salvaged this afternoon when the O's host the Twins in the finale of the four-game series at OPACY. Following today's game, the Birds will head to Kansas City to see the Royals, who own the best record in the American League (74-48) and the best home mark as well (42-20).

This week in the American League --

Yankees (home vs. CLEV today) -- home vs. Houston (3), at Atlanta (3)

Blue Jays (at LAA today) -- at Texas (3), home vs. Detroit (3)

ORIOLES (home vs. MINN today) -- at K.C. (4), at Texas (3)

Rays (at OAK today) -- home vs. Twins (3), home vs. K.C. (3)



SUNDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
M. Pelfrey
6-7, 3.62
K. Gausman
2-5, 4.48
1:35 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS



american league wild card standings (top 2 qualify)



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Jays 68 - 55 39
Rangers 63 - 59 40
Angels 63 - 60 39 ½
Orioles 62 - 60 40 1
Twins 62 - 61 39
Rays 62 - 61 39


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the day has finally arrived; tiger has a real chance to win a golf tournament

For the first time since late in the 2013 season, Tiger Woods has a legitimate shot at winning a golf tournament again. Woods stayed in the hunt on Saturday in round three of the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC with a two-under par round of 68, leaving at 13-under for 54 holes and two shots behind leader Jason Gore, who posted 62 in round three yesterday. Woods will play in the next-to-last group on Sunday after bogeying the 18th hole on Saturday to slip into a second place tie with Scott Brown and Jonas Blixt.

jason
Tiger won't be laughing like this if Jason Gore (left) beats him on Sunday in Greensboro.

There's more drama for Tiger on Sunday, as he needs a victory in Greensboro to move on to next week's FedEx Cup playoffs at Plainfield CC in New Jersey. There still exists a remote way Woods could finish second and make the playoffs, but others who are playing on Sunday would impact that depending on their final position. For certain, though, if Tiger wins today at Sedgewick CC, he's in the field next week at The Barclay's in the playoff opener.

This represents the best Woods has played since late August of 2013 when he won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC. Since then, Tiger has battled a bad back, had corrective surgery, hired a new swing coach, and even shot 85 in a tournament this year (Memorial) -- his highest score ever as a professional. He missed three of four cuts in major championships in 2015 and was a surprise entrant at Greensboro this week, as most golf analysts and followers assumed his season was over when he missed the cut at last week's PGA Championship. He showed up in Greensboro, though, shot 64 in round one, and backed that up with rounds of 65 and 68 to put himself in the hunt for his 80th career win.



Saturday
August 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 22

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birds lose again as wild card race tightens

Two games vs. the Twins, two losses in completely different manners. Pick your poison; would you rather trail 5-0 early, never be in it, and lose 15-2 -- or lead 3-1 heading into the 8th, give up three runs late, and fall 4-3? That's how it went for the O's on Friday night in Baltimore, as the Twins scored three times in the 8th inning to pull off a surprising win and guarantee themselves at least a split of this four game series at OPACY.

Just think, if Henry Urrutia doesn't hit that home run on Wednedsay night vs. the Mets, the Orioles could be sporting a four-game HOME losing streak this week.

The good news for the Orioles? The Yankees and Angels both lost on Friday night. More bad news, in addition to that 4-3 loss to the Twins? Buck Showalter's team is now tied for 3rd place in the wild card race with the Texas Rangers and both Tampa Bay and Minnesota are hot on their heels.

mikefiers
Nothing like making your first career complete game a no-hitter, too. Mike Fiers of the Astros pulled that off last night.

Turning to Major League news for a second, Houston's Mike Fiers no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, 3-0, earning his first complete game on the same night he didn't allow a base hit. Houston is now 3.5 games ahead of Los Angeles and in first place in the American League West. Last season -- and a few before that -- they were the laughingstock of baseball. Now, with five weeks left in the campaign, they're poised to win the division and go to the playoffs. Baseball is a funny, funny game.

And on a personal note, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out to me here in the comments section and via e-mail yesterday in response to my one-year anniversary piece that was published here at #DMD on Friday. I read everything all of you wrote. It means a lot, trust me. Thank you.

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woods goes to the top of the leaderboard and people are heard to whisper, "is that tiger woods or some other woods?"

Anyone who actively follows professional golf knew this day would be coming at some point. Personally, I thought it would come much sooner than this, but I, too, expected to see Tiger Woods "in the hunt" at a PGA Tour event sometime this season. That it took until the final event before the playoffs is a surprise, yes, but then again, Woods hasn't always done things by the book.

For the first time since the end of the 2013 season, Tiger Woods shares the lead of a PGA Tour event after 36 holes, posting a 65 on Friday to go with his opening round 64 on Thursday. He's at 11-under par and deadlocked with someone named Tom Hoge (don't worry, I haven't heard of him, either) as the TOUR finishes up their regular season at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro. Woods has to win the event in order to qualify for next week's FedEx Cup playoff opener at The Barclay's in Plainfield, NJ. There is a very complicated way he could make the playoffs if he finishes second, but a lot of other players would have to falter to make that happen. For sure, though, if Woods wins, he's in next week at Plainfield CC.

woods
We haven't seen this smile in a while -- then again, it's been a while since Tiger shot 64-65.

For weeks, even when his scores weren't indicating progress was being made, Tiger has been telling anyone who would listen that he was close to playing well again. On Thursday and Friday of this week, he most certainly hit the golf ball better tee to green, but his trademark putting stroke -- absent for the last two years -- suddenly made an appearance for 36 holes. He rolled in birdie putts, long par putts, made the short ones and...can't believe I'm actually writing this for the first time in two years...essentially looked like "the old Tiger" down in Greensboro. Can he finish it off this weekend? Of course he can.

His critics are going to point to the golf course being relatively easy (they're correct -- 11-under par through 36 holes and the cut coming at 2-under par backs up that claim), the field being weak (they're also correct there -- nearly everyone in the Top 50 is NOT playing this week in preparation for the start of next week's playoffs) and Woods getting the "blind squirrel" treatment as main reasons for his resurgence. I'm not sure about the blind-squirrel theory coming in to play. It's not like Woods forgot how to play golf. He wasn't "due" to have a good 36 holes at some point. He can play the game, still, it's just that his scoring skills have diminished greatly over the last two years. At some point, as he has continually promised, Tiger was going to put it all together, albeit perhaps for only a weekend or two or three.

I don't hide the fact that I'd love to see Tiger win this weekend. I know that all of the bad he's encountered over the last few years has been of his own doing. I realize that. But, like most golfers do when things go south, Woods has gone into grind-mode over the last two seasons to try and get his game back to respectability. I've been there, done that, although certainly not at the level of Tiger Woods or any other PGA Tour player. My tournament golf game has fallen off at times over the last decade and I've had to work hard to polish it up again. It's not easy. Tiger has had to try and re-build his career in the spotlight of the national media. That alone makes it difficult. He's handled it all as well as anyone else would, in my opinion.

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o'day squanders 3-1 lead, o's fall to twins, 4-3

This one looked to be in the books. A Gerardo Parra 3-run home run in the 6th inning gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead and the Twins looked ripe for the taking on Friday night at Camden Yards. They went down quietly in the 7th and when Darren O'Day took over for Brad Brach to start the 8th, most in the ballpark just assumed the home team would buzz through the last two innings and memories of the 15-2 shellacking on Thursday night would be all but gone.

darren
The usually-reliable Darren O'Day wasn't good on Friday night in the 4-3 loss to the Twins, coughing up a 3-1 eighth inning lead.

That pesky lead-off walk got things started in the wrong direction for O'Day. It always happens, right? If you put the lead-off guy on board via a free pass, it somehow almost always comes back to haunt you. In this case, it most certainly did. A single, followed by O'Day hitting Torii Hunter with a pitch, loaded the bases with no one out. Fans started to squirm. You could feel it happening. A sacrifice fly (I wish the Orioles knew what those were...) made it 3-2 and a Kurt Suzuki bloop single plated the tying and go-ahead runs. Just like that, it was 4-3 Twins.

Worse than giving up three runs, though, was the way the Orioles went down in order in both the eighth and ninth hittings. The Birds only had five hits all night (four coming in the 6th inning), but they had all the big boys coming up in the final two innings and didn't produce one base hit or, even, one base runner. In the 9th, Davis, Jones and Wieters all struck out swinging, as Kevin Jepsen mowed them all down for his 6th save of the season and first since coming over from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline.


SATURDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
K. Gibson
8-9, 3.99
C. Tillman
9-7, 4.54
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Jays 67 - 55 41 +4
Angels 63 - 59 40
Rangers 63 - 59 40 ½
Orioles 62 - 60 40 ½
Twins 62 - 61 39 2
Rays 61 - 61 40 2


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ravens face eagles tonight in philly

After three days of practicing against one another, the Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles will be able to actually hit another tonight in the second pre-season game of the year at Lincoln Financial Field. Tempers flared on Wednesday and Thursday, but Friday was calm as both teams had their pre-game walk through session in preparation for tonight's contest.

For the Ravens, the wide receiver position remains the biggest area of concern and tonight's game with the Eagles will give a couple of guys in particular, Jeremy Butler and Darren Waller, a chance to make a favorable impression on head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman.

The running back position is interesting too, given that the club invested in a draft pick on Buck Allen (USC) and returning vets Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro both have enjoyed strong training camps thus far. All three players will, of course, make the 53-man roster, but how much time can Allen get if Taliaferro continues to shine? And, if Taliaferro drops off a notch, can Allen step in and produce at the NFL level right away?

What you'd like to see, tonight, is good, sound play from anyone who plays in the first half. By the time the second thirty minutes rolls around, most of the guys in there will be getting their walking papers in another week or two. In the first half, though, you'll be looking at mostly first and second stringers, with a smattering of guys -- like the aforementioned Darren Waller and safety-turned-wide-receiver Tom Nelson -- who are opening day roster possibilities given training camp injuries to others at their position.

Oh, and the most important thing from tonight? NO INJURIES. But you knew that already.



Friday
August 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 21

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i stayed in the game

One year ago tomorrow, on August 22, 2014, my “radio career” ended and Drew’s Morning Dish was born. Yes, it’s been a year, believe it or not. You know that saying, “It seems like it was just yesterday…”? Well, it does.

I remember leaving the radio station around 10:30 am that morning and being oddly calm, even though I had just been dismissed in the midst of my best overall year (including sales) since joining the station in 2002. I even recall saying to myself, “I wish you (station management) would have pulled this stunt in June so I could have played golf all summer…” Alas, we'd go on to reach an amicable financial settlement, which, in a distinctly ironic kind of way, helped kick-start the beginning stages of #DMD.

fired

Drew’s Morning Dish published its very first edition on August 25, 2014, three days after the axe fell. Royal Farms was the first corporate partner at #DMD. 1700 people clicked on the website that first day. I thought that was amazing. Nine months later, we doubled that number, reaching the 3500 (visits per-day) plateau. By the time football season gets cooking next month, I believe we might reach the 5000 visits per-day mark. I’d be fibbing if I told you I expected that kind of growth. I HOPED for it, naturally. But I had no idea what to expect when the site was launched a year ago.

I probably haven’t gone one month since then without having someone ask me about “that day” and whether or not I’m still mad about how it ended. Truth of the matter -- I wasn’t terribly upset about getting fired. I wasn't doing cartwheels or anything, but I fired a bunch of soccer players during my days running the local indoor soccer team, so I wasn't a neophyte when it came to the harsh reality of termination. It happens. In fact, lots of really talented folks had been canned at the station before I got the boot – my number just happened to get pulled that day, I guess. I didn’t care for the callous, unfriendly nature of my dismissal, but even that dissipated after a month or two. I didn’t have time to be mad. I had to move on and start grinding…again. These days, when someone asks me if I’m still mad about how it all went down, I usually just say, “Eh, it’s all in the past. I’m doing better now than I was a year ago. It all worked out in the end.”

There's an amazing YouTube video of a Joel Osteen TV show titled "Stay In The Game" that I have played hundreds of times over the last year. I played it so much...at home, in the car, on my computer, that my son started asking me to play the "Stay In The Game thing" -- as he calls it. This Osteen sermon, if you will, basically just reminds you to hang in there and keep fighting, even when things aren't going your way. He references ex-Ravens WR Torrey Smith, in fact, remembering that home game against the Patriots a few years back when Smith, grieving over the death of his brother the day before, caught a pair of touchdown passes to help the Ravens beat New England. "Sometimes in life, you gotta play in pain..." Osteen said. I played in a little bit of pain after getting fired, but when the dust settled -- I was in a better position on my own, doing things my way.

If you have thirty minutes today, you should watch this. It's "Stay In The Game". You'll love it, I promise.

Watch the video.

So, I went from an employee who had to answer to higher-ups to starting my own business…all within about three days. I was “drinking from the fire hose” for a month or two as things got ramped up, and even now, I’m still in overwhelm mode most days, but it’s a “good busy”, as they say in the working world. I’ve published Drew’s Morning Dish every single day since August 25, 2014, hopefully capturing a small part of YOUR day along the way, giving you something of interest to read and ponder while you eat your breakfast, grab coffee at your desk, or relax with a cocktail when you get home from work. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, though. We’re very much an unfinished product here.

I visited with a potential #DMD marketing partner on Thursday of this week and he asked me what I thought was the BEST thing about the #DMD website and my venture. “No one else in town is doing what I do,” I replied. “Plenty of people talk, broadcast and write about sports. Lots of excellent websites out there are dedicated to the Orioles, Ravens and Terps. You can find sports at your fingertips 24/7 in Baltimore. But there’s no Drew’s Morning Dish clone out there. For better or worse, it’s us and only us.” He liked that answer well enough – in part – to sign on with Drew’s Morning Dish for football season. You’ll be hearing more about his company/product next week.

None of this would have happened without two critical elements; corporate partners and readers. Lots of people in the business community showed faith in me – and the #DMD product – over the last year. I’m eternally grateful for that. Without them, this venture of mine doesn’t exist. Also -- without you, those reading this right now, #DMD doesn’t exist. I know that, too. A website like this one contains three critical components; content, sponsors/marketing partners and readers. I’m very fortunate to have people in the latter two categories who have supported #DMD in grand fashion since last August 25.

My family and friends have been supportive in ways no one (but me) will ever know. Starting your own business – an untested, unproven one at that – isn’t the smartest thing to do at age 51, but my wife and two children said “do your thing” and my friends joined in with “how can we help?” Without those two circles of support, I’d be out of gas by now, trust me. Last but not least -- two people who have operated with me behind the scenes have been incredibly important and helpful with my endeavor. I didn’t ask either one for their permission to mention names, so I won’t, but “T.Y.” and “G.M.” have both gone above and beyond the call of duty for me and Drew’s Morning Dish. I can’t say thank you enough to those two men.

So – a year later, I’m not here to complain and/or re-hash my termination…or throw mud on the folks who did the deed to me and the other four who got the heave-ho. I’m here to basically just say “thank you, everyone” and recognize the last year for what it is was and what it is: An opportunity to be successful on my own terms, with no one to blame but myself if it fails.

One thing for sure about tomorrow’s one-year anniversary: I’ll still have a job at the end of the day. That’s all anyone who is self-employed can ask for, I’ve learned.

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bo's eye view

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

Here's what our Ravens reporter, Bo Smolka, is looking for in tomorrow night's pre-season game with the Eagles.

As usual, the starters should only get token work; their biggest workload of the preseason traditionally comes in Week 3, which for the Ravens will be next Saturday's home game against the Redskins. But for those further down the depth chart, Saturday's game in Philadelphia should come with an increased sense of urgency; those on the bubble are going to start running out of time to make their case for inclusion on the 53-man roster.

campanaro
2nd year WR Michael Campanaro has a great chance to see time on offense and special teams in 2015 -- if he can stay healthy.

Which receivers step up?

We know rookie Breshad Perriman and his gimpy knee will sit this one out again. The competition at receiver has been well documented, but in their first game action last week against the Saints, the results were underwhelming. Kamar Aiken left with a tweaked lower leg injury. Marlon Brown also sat it out. Jeremy Butler failed to come down with a tough but catchable ball down the sideline against the Saints and was far too passive on an intercepted pass that was intended for him. DeAndre Carter made a couple of catches late after he nearly booted away a kickoff return. Rookie Darren Waller and converted safety Tom Nelson have both had a strong week and are doing what they can to get into the conversation. They each had one catch against the Saints.

Perriman, Aiken, Brown, Steve Smith Sr. and Michael Campanaro -- who has been perhaps the Ravens best receiver in camp now that he's healthy -- should be locks to make the team. That leaves a mad scramble for one, at most two roster spots. Which players will help their chances against the Eagles?

Do the Ravens finally get a kickoff return?

The Saints kicked touchbacks on every kickoff, a puzzling move that had to have left the Ravens frustrated. It gave the Ravens no chance to see their kick return options, and they are still looking for the heir apparent to Jacoby Jones. Asa Jackson was the first man back there against the Saints but then left with a knee injury. Jackson, Michael Campanaro, Carter, and others should get a chance against the Eagles. I'm guessing John Harbaugh and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg have let the Eagles know that they will be putting kickoffs in play and would like the Eagles to do the same.

How does the Ravens secondary look?

Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb didn't play last week, and it's possible they both will sit this one out as well. Webb has been slowed by a hamstring injury, and that's a potentially troubling sign for a player who struggled to stay on the field last year and failed his conditioning test on his first try this year. That will give the Ravens another extended look at Rashaan Melvin, Quinton Pointer, Tray Walker and Asa Jackson, among others. Also, will second-year safety Terrence Brooks, just off the PUP list, see the field at all? And will the Ravens continue to explore veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington as an option at safety?

Who gets hurt?

This is always the overriding fear of every preseason game. The final score never matters as much as the final injury count.

Will it be Tebow Time?

C'mon, admit it. You want to see it...

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woods fires 64, looks like he knows what he's doing again

That guy with his back against the wall? That's Tiger Woods. With only one week left before the PGA Tour's playoffs begin, the 14-time major champion is on the outside looking in, needing a win this week in Greensboro in order to make the FedEx Cup that starts next week at Plainfield CC in New Jersey. There is a way Woods could sneak in by finishing 2nd this week, but a few other guys "on the bubble" would need to miss the cut in order for that to happen. Tiger got started in stirring fashion on Thursday in round one of the Wyndham Championship, chipping in for birdie on his first hole and firing a season-best 64 to trail a trio of co-leaders who shot 8-under par, 62.

william
William McGirt is one of the co-leaders in Greensboro but everyone is talking about that Woods fellow.

William McGirt, Erik Compton and Tom Hoge posted 62, but it was Woods who was the talk of the town, making seven birdies on the day against just one bogey. He was joined at 6-under par by Martin Kaymer, Carl Pettersson and another guy -- like Woods -- who used to be good, Davis Love III. Tiger hasn't won since the 2013 season and remains stuck on 79 career wins, trailing all-time leader Sam Snead (82) by three victories. Two years ago, it looked like Woods might reach 100 victories when the sun set on his career. Now, he's just trying to somehow get to #80 before he starts collecting social security.

Local Timonium resident Brad Miller -- a member at Baltimore Country Club who Monday qualified for the Wyndham -- shot three over par 73 in Thursday's round one and will likely need a round of 65 or 66 in today's second round to make the 36-hole cut.

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gonzalez, birds get blistered by minnesota, 15-2

One night after a thrilling 5-4 walk-off win over the Mets, the Birds were sent back to earth by the Twins, who scored five times in the second inning and then cruised in from there, winning 15-2 in the first of four games at Camden Yards.

Some guy I've never heard of -- Tyler Duffey -- started on the mound for the Twins and was actually pretty decent, but it's probably easy to be decent when you're winning 5-0 eighteen minutes into the game.

Miguel Gonzalez got the start for the Orioles and it went about as well as a Ted Baxter newscast, with the Twins gouging him for seven earned runs in 5.0 innings of work, raising his ERA to 4.73 on the season. Jason Garcia wasn't a whole lot better, surrendering two more earned runs in two innings on the mound, and T.J. McFarland got whacked for seven hits and six runs (five earned) in mop-up duty...long after the O's stopped trying.

The Twins led 9-0 before scoring five more times in the 8th to lead 14-0. In the bottom half of that inning, Gerardo Parra and Caleb Joseph had RBI singles for the O's to avoid the shut-out.


FRIDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
T. Milone
6-3, 3.65
W. Yin-Chen
7-6, 3.20
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

american league wild card standings (top 2 teams qualify)



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Jays 66 - 55 41 +3
Angels 63 - 58 41
Orioles 62 - 58 42 ½
Rangers 61 - 59 42


Thursday
August 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 20

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jury is still out on nfl "joint practices"

The Ravens are in Philadelphia for four days this week, practicing with/against the Eagles on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before teeing it up with them in pre-season game number two on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

My prediction? Nothing good will come out of this sojourn to Philadelphia. In fact, there's a far better chance of something BAD happening than there is something good happening. And I'm not just saying that because of the slew of fights that have taken place thus far in pre-season during these now-popular "joint practices", nor does Wednesday's season-ending injury to Carolina WR Kelvin Benjamin scare me enough to say "abolish those two team practices!" There is, however, a very obvious correlation between the activity and engery level of practices held within your own setting and the ones that take place between two different teams. There are more tangles, shoves, face-mask grabs and fights when "team A" practices against "team B" than there would be if those teams were in their own training camp city, facing off against themselves. That's a fact.

To examine why NFL teams even bother practicing against one another in the first place, all you have to know is a little something about the way NFL rosters work these days. Of the 53 men on any given team's roster, I'm guessing 90% of the teams know 50 of their 53 players before the first ball is thrown in late July. There might be a team or two with 47 or 48 players locked up and five or six available spots, but for the most part, there are usually only two or three roster spots "up in the air" when training camp begins. The way most NFL coaches prefer to judge their players is through game action, obviously. Lots of guys can practice well; can they take it to the game, though? It's the same in golf. Plenty of guys can stripe it on the range and hit 280 yard drives straight as an arrow, but what happens when they put a tee in the ground in a golf tournament? That's ALL that matters. The NFL is no different. Practice well and you catch the coach's eye. Play well in a game and you're at another level.

There's another factor, though, as it relates to pre-season football. It's still not "real" competition. It's a game and all, and the bruises are true, the statistics are meaningful and jobs are won and lost through a player's production, but it's still not a regular season NFL game. So, coaches continue to look for ways to monitor their players and decide who fits best based on several factors, all of which somehow relate to drills, practice time and pre-season games. By heading to Philadelphia this week, John Harbaugh and his staff go one step ABOVE practicing amongst themselves. It's another chance to see how a guy performs against "the other team" and gives the coaching staff more meat to chew on as they make their roster decisions.

Depth is a NFL team's greatest pre-season quest. Every coach knows his team is going to be hit with injuries at some point during the regular season. You hold your breath that it's never your quarterback who gets hurt or your season is likely over. The rest of the players can usually be replaced, albeit not at the same level of quality, and the depth chart your team puts together can go a long way in determining your fate for the season. That makes those three or four available roster spots VERY important by the time the second pre-season game rolls around. In the Ravens case, they're in dire need of wide receivers to step up and make a case for themselves. A guy like Jeremy Butler LOOKS the part, but can he catch the ball when someone OTHER than his own teammate is trying to foil him? That's depth. Butler might not play unless a guy like Marlon Brown can't go. Or Kamar Aiken. Well, Brown's been injured throughout training camp and Aiken hasn't been all that effective, so suddenly Butler is looking like a fairly attractive option for offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. Watching him perform against the Eagles for the better part of four days will help Trestman and Harbaugh make their decision on a guy like Butler.

fight
By the time Saturday night comes around, the Eagles and Ravens will just about be ready to boil over.

Unfortunately, though, there's a downside to these practices held between two teams. It's inevitable that tempers will flare. Fights will break out. The hits will be delivered with a little less concern for who is on the receiving end. And even though they call and conduct the practices as "controlled scrimmages", the intensity builds because the players know, to a man, this isn't "just practice". It's a little more than that, one step away from real football and one step above practicing against yourselves. You often hear a player say, "It's just good to finally hit someone else" and they mean that, sincerely, because you tend NOT to go overboard with guys in your own locker room.

You're also taking players away from the family for four days, something not every player appreciates. Ravens WR Steve Smith made it known on Wednesday he wasn't pleased about it. "I’d rather be at home,” Smith said. “Today’s my wife’s birthday, so I’m not at home. I’m over here doing this bull [crap] and missing my wife’s birthday. That’s my honest opinion." He's likely not the only veteran miffed about having to spend four days away from home for what is obstensibly nothing more than an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate a handful of non-roster guys who are vying for a 2016 paycheck. What's Joe Flacco going to accomplish in Philadelphia this week? Terrell Suggs? Marshal Yanda? The only meaningful thing that could happen to one of those guys would be an injury...because some kid trying to make the Eagles roster takes a pop at a Ravens starter to show the Philly coaching staff "he means business".

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a must-read piece on vikings rb adrian peterson

I don't do this much, but on the occasion when I read something that strikes me as "must read", I like to pass it along...particularly if it pertains to sports.

The folks at ESPN.com recently published a stirring piece about Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, he of the Hall-of-Fame wheels, money-to-burn, and NFL suspension due to child abuse charges that were levied against him last Fall.

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Adrian Peterson and his son, Adrian Jr.

The story you'll read below is both maddening (the guy apparently spent a million bucks or so on a party to toast -- himself), enlightening (lots of people in his camp laud his generosity in the community) and powerful (imagine the pain you'd feel if you were raising your child the best way you saw fit and they charged you with a crime). Peterson's Texas upbringing is a central part of the story, as is his childhood and family structure, both of which were tarnished with tragedy. We tend -- as outsiders looking in -- to simply forget about those things when offering our judgments. "Adrian Peterson hit his son with a tree branch and left marks? He's a scum-bag of a father and he should go to jail!" -- millions of folks in the country either thought, wrote or said something resembling that when the charges against Peterson were made public last year. In Peterson's life, in his community, in his house, firm discipline and no tolerance for disobedience went hand-in-hand. So, too, did physical punishment. (Side note: It wasn't that long ago that paddling was allowed in SCHOOL of all places. Do you know how I know that? Because I got the paddle in 1976 when I was out-of-line at Marley Junior High School. Not even 40 years ago, they were still smacking bottoms in schools in Maryland.)

I hope you take ten minutes today to check the ESPN.com piece out and give the story a chance to marinate before you make your decision on Adrian Peterson. You can read it here.

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urrutia's homer wins it for Birds, 5-4

For the third time on this homestand, the Orioles scraped together a one-run win on a walk-off home run, as Henry Urrutia connected for his first major league round tripper in the bottom of the 9th last night, giving the O's a 5-4 victory over the Mets. Zach Britton (4-0) gave up two hits in the top of the 9th but got out of the inning unscathed thanks in part to a double play, then picked up the win after Urrutia's heroics. Ubaldo Jimenez got the start and was nothing more than "just OK", striking out six, walking four and allowing three earned runs in five innings of work.

Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones also homered for the Orioles in last night's win over the Mets. The Birds now play host to American League Wild Card contender Minnesota for four games starting tonight at 7:05 pm.




THURSDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
T. Duffey
1-1, 6.75
M. Gonzalez
9-8, 4.42
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

american league wild card standings (top 2 teams qualify)



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Jays 66 - 55 41 +3
Angels 63 - 57 42
Orioles 62 - 57 43 ½
Rangers 61 - 58 43 1
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hutsell wins middle atlantic pga golf title

David Hutsell birdied the final hole on Wednesday at Congressional Country Club to win the 90th Middle Atlantic PGA Professional Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes and OMEGA. Hutsell, a PGA professional at Woodholme CC in Pikesville, finished his third and final round with a one-over par 73 to take his 54-hole total to one-under par and win by one stroke over Rick Schuller, PGA Head Professional at Swaders Sports Park in Chester, Virginia and Frank O’Connell, PGA Assistant Professional at Springfield Golf & Country Club in Springfield, Virginia. For his win, Hutsell receives a check for $10,000 and his name engraved on the MAPGA’s Tom Utterbeck trophy.



Wednesday
August 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 19

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it's over now, but ichiro deserves major respect

Father Time has claimed yet another victim, but the inevitable end-of-the-road for Marlins' right fielder Ichiro Suzuki can't possibly diminish his remarkable 15-year run in the major leagues. Remarkable, in all honesty, might be underselling what he's done since showing up in Seattle back in 2001 after a 9-year career in Japan. Last Saturday night in St. Louis, Ichiro produced the 4,192nd hit of his career -- combining his totals in the U.S. and Japan -- and passed the great Ty Cobb in that category. In his 15 big-league campaigns, Ichiro has recorded 2,915 hits to go along with the 1,278 he collected in Japan.

He's not going to reach the 3,000 hit plateau this season...not with 85 hits left to pick up and only 44 games remaining in Miami's 2015 campaign. If he does get 20 more hits this season -- a reasonable number for him, now -- that means he'd have to return in 2016 and ring up 65 hits next season to reach the magic number of 3,000. He only has 71 hits so far THIS season -- in 112 games. In other words, and it's hard to imagine this, let alone write it, there's a chance Ichiro could come back to play next season and have a tough time getting those 65 hits. You can't play forever.

suzuki
In his decade of dominance in Seattle, Ichiro never hit below .300 or had an on-base-percentage under .350.

No matter if he gets to 3,000 hits or not, Suzuki is a slam-dunk, first-ballot baseball Hall of Fame entrant. If you haven't taken a close, hard look at his numbers, I'll run down some of his accomplishments to give you a better idea of what he's done since 2001.

From 2001 through 2010 (ten seasons), he had 200 or more hits in EVERY season, including a career high of 262 hits in 2004. That's basically 1.5 hits per-game.

In those ten seasons, he hit .302 or higher in EVERY season, with FOUR seasons of .350 or better.

From 2000-2010, he averaged just 70 strike-outs per-season and in one of those years (2002), he walked more times (68) than he struck out (62).

He also averaged 40 stolen bases per-season over that decade-long span.

It wasn't all about hitting, either. Ichiro made 28 errors in the field -- in those ten seasons -- and never once had more than five errors in one season. He won a Gold Glove in all TEN years, by the way. All ten. Every season.

The other eye-catcher about Suzuki's career? No tabloid stuff. Never a problem in the locker room. No connection to a failed drug test or PED use. He showed up, played nearly every day, hit the ball like a maniac, caught everything hit at him, and did it all like a true professional. The folks in Seattle who saw him at his zenith were VERY fortunate. He spent a couple of seasons in New York and had a smattering of Big Apple success before heading to Miami in 2015 to complete his career calendar as Marlin-in-December. That he's toiling in the relative obscurity of baseball in South Florida is a tad bit humbling for a guy who deserves a rock-star-variety farewell tour, but it's also fitting. Playing in Seattle all those years made him somewhat of an unknown commodity here on the East Coast, so he's used to not grabbing the spotlight despite all of his years of success. The two-plus years in New York were good, but nothing more than that. He can still put his bat on the ball, but age -- like it does with all of us -- has finally won the battle. Nothing, though, can take away from his greatness. There's an argument to be made that no one on the planet has ever been better at hitting a baseball than Ichiro Suzuki.

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Eagle's Nest Country Club to host Drew's 11th Annual Charity Golf Outing

Formerly known as Towson Golf and Country Club, the newly re-branded Eagle's Nest Country Club will host "Drew's 11th Annual Charity Golf Outing, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota-Scion" on Monday, October 19th, 2015. The event will begin with a 12:30 pm shotgun start, followed by drinks/dinner and awards immediately afterwards. Our October 19th tournament will raise funds for The Bennett Insitute at Kennedy Krieger and will feature a $2,500 prize pool in both the gross and net divisions.

This year's tournament is limited to 25 foursomes and, as of today, 20 have been sold to groups returning from last year's event. The five remaining foursomes are now available to the general public at a cost of $600 ($150 per-player). The format is the popular "captain's choice" or "scramble", and players and teams of all handicap levels are welcome to participate.

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The picturesque 9th hole at Eagle's Nest, overlooking downtown Towson.

I'm excited to be hosting this year's event at Eagle's Nest. I've recently become a member there and can say without hesitation the facility, course and professional staff are among the best you'll find anywhere in the area. When you tee it up at Eagle's Nest, you're in for a great day of golf, whether that's as a member, a guest, or with a charity event like the one I'm hosting on October 19. Those of you who have played in my event in the past will hopefully remember it as an outing that focuses on competitive golf with a significant number of prizes and special awards to keep everyone interested throughout the day. Afterwards, we provide an outstanding meal and a generous array of prizes for both our top teams in the gross and net divisions.

Best of all, though, we raise funds for organizations that are right here in our own backyard. Each of our ten previous tournaments have provided donations to groups in Maryland ONLY, with a specific emphasis on the Greater Baltimore area. Over the years, our golfers have helped raise money for The Fuel Fund of Maryland, The Casey Cares Foundation, Pathfinders for Autism, The Erinn McCarthy Scholarship Fund at Maryvale, The Packard Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital, The H.I.K.E. Foundation, The ALS Association of Maryland, and others.

Additionally this year, our tournament will honor Loyola Blakefield graduate and community activist Van Brooks, who recently opened his very first SAFE Center in West Baltimore. Brooks started his own foundation four years ago and brought #DMD into the fold last November with his involvement in a sleeping bag drive for Baltimore's homeless. We're proud to be associated with Van Brooks and have a special ceremony planned to honor him on October 19 following the golf outing at Eagle's Nest.

If you would like one of the remaining five foursomes, please e-mail me as soon as possible: 18inarow - at - gmail.com. We'll operate on a first-come, first-served basis.


umbc men's soccer earns pre-season conference honor

The UMBC men’s soccer team have been tabbed as America East co-favorites, along with the University of Hartford, in the 2015 preseason coaches' poll, the conference office announced yesterday afternoon. The voting was conducted by the conference’s eight head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

UMBC has won back-to-back America East regular season and tournament championships. The Retrievers, coached by Pete Caringi, have captured three consecutive and four of the league’s last five tourney titles, earning NCAA berths in those years.

Last year, UMBC became the conference's first team to reach the NCAA College Cup and finished the season ranked fourth in the country. Coach Caringi’s young 2015 squad was ranked No. 12 in the nation in the preseason NCSAA poll before making their run in the NCAA tournament.

UMBC kicks off their home schedule on August 28 and 30 with a weekend tournament at UMBC Stadium against Fairfield (8/28) and Central Arkansas (8/30). Five home games highlight their September slate including a match-up with George Mason on the 26th. For ticket information, visit www.umbcretrievers.com.

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orioles rally but fall to mets, 5-3

Mets fans poured into Camden Yards in droves on Tuesday night and they were treated to a 5-3 win for New York that ended the Orioles four-game winning streak and cost the Birds a game in the standings to both the Yankees and Blue Jays. The O's trailed 5-1 in the bottom of the 9th before Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia walked in two runs, sending Manny Machado to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, but the game ended on a ground out to third base. Gerardo Parra homered to account for the only Baltimore run until the 9th inning uprising that had Mets fans holding their breath and the O's faithful clamoring for a once-in-a-season five run last inning comeback.

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Jacob deGrom's solid start on Tuesday night helped the Mets beat the O's for the 9th straight time.

Curtis Granderson homered twice for the Mets, who led 3-1 through eight innings and then scored a pair of runs in the top of the 9th that turned out to be ultra-important when Familia walked in the two runs in the O's half of the 9th.

Jacob deGrom beat the O's for the second time in 2015, as he went 7.2 innings and allowed just five hits and one earned run. Kevin Gausman fell to 2-5 with the loss for the O's, going six innings and surrendering six hits and three earned runs.




WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
N. Syndergaard
7-6, 3.07
U. Jimenez
9-7, 3.92
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS
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Tuesday
August 18
twitter logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 18

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harrison's trophy return -- right message, wrong message?

The issue of James Harrison returning his two sons' "participation trophies" is far more worthy of intense scrutiny than the NFL's other summer-saga, "DeflateGate". If you missed the story-line, it's rather simple. Harrison's two sons played a summer sport (not sure which one...couldn't find that detail anywhere) and were given "Best of the Batch" trophies that were/are nothing more than a symbol -- and reward -- for a youth's participation in the sport. Harrison promptly took to social media to criticize the concept of "participation trophies" and went on to state he was going to return his sons' trophies, which he did over the weekend.

"I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies!" Harrison wrote on Instagram while displaying a photo of both awards. "While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I'm sorry I'm not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I'm not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best...cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better...not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy."

And now the fun begins, along with the scrutiny of both Harrison AND the concept of those participation trophies he railed against. Let me first say this about youth sports in general. And, by youth sports, I'm talking about anything pre-high school years. They (youth sports) have gotten completely out of control over the last decade or so because parents see their son or daughter's ability to play sports at a high level as a meal ticket to avoiding one of the country's great savings-account-eaters -- college tuition. By pushing your boy or girl to excel in soccer, basketball, golf, cheerleading, etc., you might be saving yourself $200,000 or more in CASH when the time comes for he/she to head off to college. My opinion of youth sports isn't necessarily germane to the James Harrison-story, but it does point to a larger problem than the one Harrison encountered last week when his two boys came home with their participation trophies. In short, we put too much emphasis on youth sports, too much is made of winning and losing, and there's far too much pressure on the kids to be superstars in their chosen sport.

Now, to Harrison. First, as a father, he has every right to make the decision he made and, because he's a public figure, if he chooses to publicize his decision, he has to know it's going to go viral and he'll get feedback of approval and disapproval. Because he's a professional athlete, Harrison likely sees things MUCH differently than you, me, your sister, your brother-in-law and anyone else among the great-unwashed who has children playing sports. For James Harrison -- and virtually any other player in the NFL -- the ONLY thing that matters to him is winning. The chase for money and financial security is in the rear-view mirror unless he bought stock in New Coke or mood rings. He has the money, and his own championship ring, so at this stage in his career (and life), winning is all that matters to Harrison. That's not an easy concept to pass along to children, though, because their fragile emotional state might not be able to rationalize winning and losing the way we can as adults. When a 12-year old boy or girl loses a big basketball game, it takes a heroic effort by mom and dad to make them realize the world isn't coming to an end. When James Harrison loses a big football game, he has a meal and a beer on the flight home (unless it's a home playoff loss to the Ravens, then he has a 30-minute drive), checks his bank account, remembers he has about $20 million at his disposal, and suddenly that "big loss" is just part and parcel with being a professional athlete. "You can't win 'em all," he'll say to himself.

harrison
Here's what the fuss is all about. A couple of $10.00 trophies and a Dad who wants to teach his kids about sports -- and life.

So what about "participation trophies"? Are they good for our kids? Or bad? This is a little bit like the whole "build a wall" argument people are having these days about immigration and illegal aliens coming into our country. If you say "build it", people think you're mean and intolerant of immigrants. If you say "don't build it", people think you're a free spirit who doesn't respect the ideology of "paying your dues" (along with your taxes) to earn the freedom this country provides. In the case of participation trophies, if you say "they're good", you're a softee who doesn't grasp the concept of working harder than you thought possible in order to succeed. If you say "they're not good", you don't understand the theory of "making everyone feel like they're part of it". It's a very interesting philosophical topic, and one that doesn't actually have a right or wrong answer.

Here, though, is my answer. It might take a while, but I'll spit it out eventually. For starters, contrary to Harrison's belief, it IS perfectly fine to reward a youth athlete for his or her effort. We should spend more time these days praising our children, honoring our children and reminding them as often as we can that you can't accomplish ANYTHING unless you try to do it. Even something as fortunate as winning the lottery requires effort and/or participation. You have to buy the ticket, at the very least. Kids who participate in sports and give their best should be reminded that effort gets recognized. Simply telling a youngster, "you shouldn't get a trophy just for trying" defeats the entire purpose of building children up rather than tearing them down. If you don't try and don't give your best effort, it's likely you either won't be successful as an athlete or your team won't be successful. That IS an important message to pass along to our young athletes in their formative years. I do understand, though, that handing out trophies here and there with little or no formal guideline for receiving it waters down the whole concept of winning and losing in youth sports. We can now go back to the point I made several paragraphs ago when I said there's too much emphasis placed on winning and losing at the youth sports level. It does start there. That, in my opinion, falls on the coach(es). It takes a special coach to build the bridge between "if we win, we feel good about ourselves and if we lose, we still feel good about ourselves" and it doesn't help when you have parents yelling and screaming about playing time for their kid(s) and any other controversies a coach has to deal with on a daily basis.

I see a lot of different forms of behavior in my role as a high school golf coach. Some of it, frankly, I don't approve of, but I mainly stay busy monitoring the behavior of MY players and don't worry much about what I see from other schools and players. In my first year at Calvert Hall, our second match was against McDonogh at Woodholme CC. One of my players hit a so-so bunker shot on the 11th hole and basically flipped his sand wedge out of the bunker. It bounced around for a second, clanked off of his golf bag, and came to rest on the ground. It definitely wasn't a "club throw", but it didn't look good and was most certainly NOT part of what I was teaching my players. After the match, I approached him, put my arm around him, and whispered quietly: "If you ever toss your club again like you did today on #11, you won't be playing for me anymore." And that was that. He played the rest of that season and his senior year with an impeccable record and became one of our better players. I bring that story up for one reason: To point out the importance of establishing ground rules as a coach and following them, making sure the kids have all the information necessary to make a decision.

So, where are we with these participation trophies?

A large-scale reaction on social media to the Harrison story came in the form of folks who think "we're raising a bunch pansies" by giving them trophies for NOT winning. "By just giving out awards for anything, including showing up, working hard and participating, we're not teaching our young boys and girls that you have to win in order to be recognized and rewarded." That was an oft-tweeted response in the wake of TrophyGate. "We're building a society of young people who think they're entitled," said many people over the last few days.

I don't know about you, but I see a lot of young people (and now, I'm talking more about the 18-24 age bracket) NOT trying much these days. It's an epidemic, almost. Not everyone has that character flaw, but more do than don't. Lazy, unmotivated, corner-cutting and wanting something for nothing are four traits of the common ne'er do well. They're not worthy of a participation trophy because they won't even put in the effort. A 13-year old who practices hard, plays hard and is a good representative for his or her team SHOULD be praised for that. Whether that's verbally or through the presentation of a keepsake like a trophy or a medal...there's nothing wrong with praise and approval, particularly when it comes from a parent/guardian, coach or other adult figure. Harrison noted in his Instagram message that his kids wouldn't get a trophy until they EARNED it. I respect his position as a father, wanting the best for his children and all. The real teaching, though, should come from the Steelers linebacker in the form of reminding his children they DID earn that participation trophy; by showing up, working hard, listening to their coach and giving their best. True, you're SUPPOSED to do that in sports, but, again, we quickly forget these are 8, 10 and 12 year old minds we're dealing with here. They're NOT the well-tuned, highly intelligent NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB athlete who understands that just trying hard isn't nearly enough. You have to do more, play harder, work smarter and be a good teammate. A teen-ager, though, needs to first be exposed to the common theme of teamwork and how it serves as the engine of a well-oiled machine. Participating and trying hard should be praised, not torn down.

And please, by all means, stop with this garbage of "this is what's wrong with our country these days..." There are lots of problems in our country, most having to do with greed and corruption within our governmental agencies, the erosion of the family unit, and a bunch of other stuff that's in no way connected to amateur or professional athletics. Kids playing youth sports and getting a trophy "just for participating" are not ruining our country. Adults are. The kids are doing as well as can be expected given what they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. We need to remind ourselves that they only become what we teach them to become. Which, by the way, is what James Harrison was trying to do with his two sons, and there's nothing wrong with that. How he gets to that point is worthy of debate, but when the dust settles in the Harrison household, he seems to me to be an All-Pro father in addition to an All-Pro football player.

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o's sweep hapless a's, mets come to town for two

Watching the Oakland A's go through the motions last night was painful, even though I'm in no way, shape or form a fan of the Athletics. It was tough to watch because it reminded me of what we had in Baltimore for a decade or so (2000-2010). When I saw the A's botch another play in the field, ground into a double play (again) or offer up gopher balls galore during the 4-game series at Camden Yards, it made me chuckle inside. Then, I remembered that was us, in Baltimore, kicking balls around, playing inferior players, and basically not giving a hoot whether or not we won or lost. It wasn't much fun to be an Orioles fan back then and I can't imagine it's smiles-a-minute these days in Oakland, as the A's have completely packed it in for the 2015 season.

sweep
A sweep of the A's pushes the Birds to five games over .500 for the first time since July 2.

Sonny Gray gave the A's a decent start on the mound last night, but Oakland managed just three hits off O's starter Chris Tillman in a 4-2 Baltimore win that extends the O's winning streak to four games. Steve Clevenger had the big blast, a 3-run home run, while Caleb Joseph added a RBI double later on.

The win keeps the Birds in control of the second Wild Card spot at 61-56. Elsewhere in the American League last night, the Yankees (65-52) scored twice in the bottom of the 8th to tie, then beat the Twins (59-59) in New York, 8-7, with a run in the tenth. The Angels (61-57) edged the White Sox, 2-1. Tampa Bay (59-59) won at Houston, 9-2, while Texas continues to play well, winning 4-3 over Seattle, as the Rangers (60-57) remain just a game behind the Orioles for the second wild card spot.



TUEDSAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
J. deGrom
11-6, 2.03
K. Gausman
2-4, 4.48
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS
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bo's eye view

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

time to be concerned about ravens receiving corps?

The Ravens wide receivers competition has been billed as one of the best in camp, with a dozen players fighting for six, possibly seven roster spots. Yet after one preseason game, this group still has way more questions than answers.

For the time being at least, they have one proven veteran in Steve Smith Sr. to go along with a bunch of players who are largely unproven or injured or both. How soon before this becomes a legitimate worry? First-round draft pick Breshad Perriman remains sidelined by a knee injury that was initially described as a bruise. Perriman was "day-to-day," but that was two weeks ago and he hasn't been seen since. Marlon Brown, who never seemed to mesh with Gary Kubiak's offense last year, has been dealing with back and hamstring issues and also missed the preseason opener on Thursday night.

Kamar Aiken, who appears to have a starting role until at least Perriman is ready, suffered a minor injury against the Saints and left early without making a catch. Michael Campanaro was the big winner of the group against the Saints, with a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown and another grab of 13 yards. Campanaro, who also had one punt return of 10 yards, will be a factor in this offense if he's healthy. He's quick, deceptively strong -- he gave a nice stiff-arm en route to the touchdown against the Saints -- and can be a chain-moving slot receiver.

The other receivers still need to show a lot more. Jeremy Butler has been the talk of camp with one good grab after another. But against the Saints, he failed to haul in a difficult -- but catchable -- ball down the sideline, and he also did not make much effort to come back for the ball on a Matt Schaub pass that was intercepted. Rookie DeAndre Carter finished with two catches for 33 yards, but he also looked like he had a case of the nerves, bobbling and fumbling his first kick return attempt. Rookie Darren Waller, who played 39 snaps, made one catch for 12 yards. He remains an intriguing project at 6-foot-6, and unless he develops the ol' late-preseason injury that lets the Ravens essentially redshirt him on injured reserve, I think he will make the team. I don't see Waller, with this size and upside, making it through waivers to be re-signed to the practice squad if the Ravens cut him. But Waller isn't going to blow by anyone, and neither are these other receivers. Until Perriman comes back, this group doesn't have blow-the-lid-off speed to stretch the defense.

It's well known that offensive coordinator Marc Trestman likes to use running backs and tight ends as primary receivers; on the Ravens' 16-play opening drive against the Saints -- the only one Joe Flacco played -- five of his six passes went to running backs or tight ends. Until this wide receiver picture gets sorted out, you might be seeing a lot more of that.

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now that jason day has his major, who are "the next best five?"

One of the favorite topics in golf is the big question -- "Who is the best player that hasn't won a major title?" Jason Day was in that discussion until around 7:15 pm this past Sunday when he tapped in from 10 inches to win the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. He now has his major, with more to come, I assume. So, who gets the label now? As many players have experienced over the years, it isn't an easy mark to shed. Tom Kite had it for the better part of a decade, as did Davis Love III and Corey Pavin. Some guys -- ahem, Colin Montgomerie -- simply hold that distinction forever, although it's fair to note Monty is a multiple major winner on golf's senior circuit. Who, now, owns the "best to have never won a major" card? Here are the top five as I see them in 2015.

5. Hideki Matsuyama -- Has made 19 of 20 cuts this season on the PGA Tour with an amazing stat of 15 finishes within the Top 25. Bombs it off the tee, hits his irons as well as anyone...but needs to get his putter figured out in order to break through to the next level. Odds he wins a major in 2016: 30-1

4. Henrik Stenson -- He's bound to win a major soon, but his performances in the big events hasn't been all that impressive over the last few years. Plays well in the Ryder Cup and shows flashes of brilliance in Europe, but hasn't necessarily taken that to the PGA Tour. Still, his skills are among the best in golf and he seems a perfect fit for Augusta or a British Open venue. 2016 odds: 25-1

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He's had lots of chances to win a major, but Sergio Garcia still hasn't done it. Will 2016 be his year, finally?

3. Sergio Garcia -- He might be this generation's Montgomerie, but I still think Garcia winds up winning a major (or two) before his career is finished. He's too talented and too great of a ball striker to not win one, but it will take a week of great putting for him to finally pull it off. He's probably a threat mainly at The Masters and the British Open. 2016 odds: 20-1

2. Rickie Fowler -- Having a breakthrough year with his victory at The Players and 14 cuts made in 17 events. An almost certain Ryder Cupper for the next two or three events, at least. As his confidence grows, so, too, will his ability to win. As he has shown over the last three years, his game travels to almost every major venue. None of them are "bad fits" for Fowler. 2016 odds: 15-1

1. Dustin Johnson -- This is the no-brainer of the group of five. It's going to happen for him at some point soon -- as in, perhaps, next year -- and once he wins one, more will follow. He's now become somewhat prone to a "clunker" round in the majors, so he needs to figure out why that's happening and take care of it before 2016. In the end, though, what's holding him back is a very suspect wedge and short game, two of the money-makers for TOUR players. He drives it better than anyone on the planet and his putting, which cost him at the U.S. Open, is actually a strength of his as a general rule. Just needs to tune up his 60-yards-and-in-game. 2016 odds: 8-1


Monday
August 17
twitter logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIII
Issue 17

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spieth makes history, day gets the pga trophy

On a day when Australian Jason Day finally collected his first major title, it was nearly more about what Jordan Spieth accomplished by shooting 17 under and finishing as the runner-up at Whistling Straits. Spieth sputtered on the front nine and never mounted a serious charge at Day, who produced a record-setting score of 20-under par for a major championship and won for the second time in less than a month, having captured the Canadian Open three weeks ago. While it was Day's day to hold the hardware, it was Spieth who vaulted himself to #1 in the world with his second place finish. And it was Spieth who made history by shooting an amazing 54-under par in this year's four major championships, edging Tiger Woods (53 under par in 2000) by one shot for that "unofficial" piece of history. It's worth noting, though, that Woods won three majors in 2000 and Spieth only won two of them in 2015. Spieth's other piece of history links him with Woods (2005) and Jack Nicklaus (1973), as the only three men to have placed 4th place or better in all four professional majors in a single season. That's some serious golf going on there.

Day's win gives him a major title after several "close but no cigar" results over the last three years. It came on a course that wound up being far too easy for a tournament of its magnitude, with 16 players shooting 10-under or better on the par 72 layout. Compare that to the other three majors in 2015 and you'll see the British Open had 12 players at 10-under or better, the U.S. Open had ZERO and the Masters had five. The PGA, as has happened in the past, turned into a glorified version of the John Deere Classic, and while the golf was outstanding and the birdies plentiful, Whistling Straits didn't present enough of a challenge to be taken seriously for future major championships. The final three holes, albeit all with some form of treachery not far out of eyesight, just weren't tough enough to make players squeamish standing on the tee. The par-5 16th was 570 yards of nothing for guys hitting it 325 off the tee, the 17th was a benign par-3 and the 18th, which LOOKS difficult, isn't that hard at all if your driver is cooperating and you know how to hit an iron shot from 180 yards out. I'm certainly not suggesting Whistling Straits is a "bad" golf course. But, it needs to be made more difficult and challenging if it's going to host major tournaments in the future. Then again, for all I know, perhaps the PGA of America likes seeing the winning score of their major be 20-under par. If so, they hit it right on the head last week by making Whistling Straits play more like Clifton Park On Lake Michigan.

Speaking of records and coming close and all that jazz, how about the year had by Justin Rose? Ready for this? Rose shot 34-under par in the four majors, was 14-under par in TWO of them (Masters and PGA) and didn't win one. Of course, his 34-under par total was twenty shots shy of what Spieth pulled off, but 34-under par in FOUR majors combined should be good enough to earn you one victory, at least.

No matter what happens in the FedEx Cup Playoffs that start in two weeks, 2015 will always be remembered as the year Jordan Spieth broke out and laid claim to the title of "best golfer in the world". He came within an eyelash of having a chance to win the British Open and settled for 2nd place at the PGA -- and won the Masters and U.S. Open, of course. Ready for some staggering numbers? In his four major tournaments in 2015, Spieth teed it up against a total of 561 other players. He was beaten by FOUR of them. FOUR. All year. He made 91 birdies in 16 rounds of major championship golf. Think about that one for second. Augusta National, Chambers Bay, St. Andrews and Whistling Straits -- 91 birdies in 16 rounds on those golf courses.

day
After a handful of "major misses", Jason Day finally got that monkey off his back with a 3-shot win at the PGA Championship on Sunday.

Sunday, though, was ultimately about the winner, Jason Day. He did what he needed to do, shooting 67 on a day when he needed it just to thwart the challenges of Spieth, Branden Grace and Justin Rose. He brings golf-crazy Australia another major title and now currently ranks as that country's best player, with all due respect to Adam Scott. He's probably not done, either. Day has the game to compete at Augusta, for sure, and his even-keeled approach makes him a natural early favorite at Oakmont for next summer's U.S. Open. This win at the PGA was always going to happen at some point for Day. He's just too good of a player to go "major-less" and now, with the PGA trophy in hand, he'll never again need to worry about answering that pesky question..."Are you the best player that hasn't yet won a major?"

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birds feast on awful oakland pitching in 18-2 thrashing

There's nothing like a visit from the American League's worst team to get everyone on the roster to fatten up their batting average and on-base-percentage. After a pair of close games that saw the Birds win in walk-off fashion both Friday and Saturday night, Sunday afternoon was a clobber-fest at Camden Yards, with the O's pounding out 26 hits en route to an 18-2 win. Adam Jones had two home runs for the Birds, while Gerardo Parra (5-for-6 on the day) also had one, as did Caleb Joseph.

The win improved the Orioles record to 60-56 on the season and moved them past the Los Angeles Angels and into the second wild card spot in the American League. The Angels coughed up a 3-2 lead in the 9th inning on Sunday night in Kansas City and lost in 10 innings, 4-3.

This week in the American League East

Yankees -- vs. Minnesota (3), vs. Cleveland (4)

Blue Jays -- at Philadelphia (2), at L.A. Angels (3)

ORIOLES -- vs. NY Mets (2), vs. Minnesota (4)

Rays -- at Houston (4), at Oakland (3)


MONDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
S. GRAY
12-4, 2.06
C. TILLMAN
8-7, 4.66
7:05 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

american league wild card standings (top 2 teams qualify)



Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Jays 65 - 54 43 +3½
Orioles 60 - 56 46
Angels 60 - 57 45 ½
Rangers 59 - 57 46 1
Twins 59 - 58 45
Rays 58 - 59 45
Tigers 56 - 61 45
White Sox 55 - 60 47
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guy, taliaferro impressing ravens brass thus far

I wrote here at #DMD two weeks ago that defensive lineman Lawrence Guy might need some help from the training camp injury-gods in order to make the 2015 roster and lo and behold -- albeit sadly -- Brent Urban went down with an arm injury that will likely sideline him for the 2015 season. Guy is nothing if not opportunistic, and he immediately stepped in during last Thursday's pre-season opener with New Orleans and reminded the coaching staff he can get the job done. He saw extensive action and was involved in four tackles agains the Saints' running attack, limiting them to 2, 0, 3 and 0 yards on those occasions. The Ravens coaching staff likes Guy -- all he needs to do now is continue playing well and he'll on the 53-man roster and, perhaps, getting extensive playing time in 2015.

lorenzo
It's only pre-season, yes, but Lorenzo Taliaferro is using it to his advantage thus far.

The other head-turner from last Thursday night's pre-season opener with the Saints was running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, who scored the Ravens first touchdown and showed off some previously unseen quickness as a result of his off-season workout regimen. Perhaps it was the Ravens drafting of USC running back Buck Allen that got Taliaferro motivated over the spring and early summer, but whatever it was, he looks better than he did in his rookie season and is clearly bucking (no pun intended) for more playing time this year based on his opening performance vs. the Saints.

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pope francis bus-trip seats on sale now

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

Pope Francis waving

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

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

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



Sunday
August 16
twitter logo #DMD facebook logo Volume XIII
Issue 16

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davis should call brinks® and order at least one truck for this winter

Last month, 40 #DMD baseball fans took in the Big Apple for a couple of Orioles-Yankees games. In one of those games, Alex Rodriguez hit a screaming, booming home run to straightaway centerfield. It was a prodigious shot, particularly for a 40-year-old in the December of his career. A bunch of Yankees fans around us giggled and sheepishly high-fived each other as the A-Rod dinger landed on Staten Island. I yelled out to no one in particular: "Back on the juice and better for it!"

Chris Davis
Dan Duquette said on Saturday that re-signing Chris Davis will be a priority for the Orioles this winter.

When I watched Chris Davis one-arm a ball off the end of the bat and into the rightfield seats for the game-winning home run last night, I'll admit, here, I got that same "giggly" feeling those Yankees fans had last month when we watched A-Rod send another home run into orbit. I guess it falls under "when it's our guy, we don't care," but if Rodriguez or David Ortiz hits a home run with a half-swing (which they have), we'd be pointing the finger at them for being on the juice (which we have).

It's a touchy subject with Davis because last year's failed test (for Adderall) and subsequent 25-game suspension still loom over him, and with 34 home runs—and counting—this season, eyebrows are going to be raised. I'll confess that I think EVERYONE in baseball is on some sort of PED, especially the power hitters and the guys who muscle balls out the park with what appears to be 50% effort. I don't have any proof of my belief, of course, just a dozen or so years of testing, and players still failing those tests, getting suspended and proceeding to tell us "I have no idea how that stuff got in my system." When I watched Davis one-arm that ball into the seats to win last night's game, I just shook my head in disbelief and snickered a little. If that makes me a bad fan, so be it, but after a decade of nearly every quality offensive player being under scrutiny for steroids and PED's, I gave up worrying about baseball's moral code. I don't care, mind you. I mean, I didn't particularly like when Davis got nailed and suspended last September, but as a general rule, I don't judge a guy differently because he failed a PED test and got suspended. It's part of the game baseball players play. They try to beat the system and most times they do—and about four to six guys a year somehow don't, and they pay the price.

I jokingly wrote on Twitter last night that Davis is making $250,000 on his 2016 contract with each home run he hits now. If he's an $18 million a year player with 34 home runs, he becomes a $20 million player if that number reaches 45 or more by season's end. All kidding aside, the first baseman is making beaucoup bucks for himself as he prepares to reach free agency for the first time in his career this winter. He's likely going to command somewhere in the $100 million range and the Orioles are going to be under intense civic pressure to re-sign him. It's going to make for an interesting month of December, that's for sure.

Last night's 4-3 win was a big one for the Birds, as they've now won the first two games of this series with Oakland. It wasn't a particularly good offensive night for the Orioles, as they only managed six hits, but three of them were home runs. The good news is, of course, that it's not about hits, it's about runs, and the Orioles finished with four of those and the A's only generated three of them.


SUNDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
at
BALTIMORE
K. GRAVEMAN
(6-8, 3.89)
W. CHEN
(6-6, 3.21)
1:35 PM EST
ORIOLE PARK AT CAMDEN YARDS

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american league round-up for saturday, august 15

Give the Yankees some credit. Last weekend in New York, they were swept by Toronto and scored only one run in 28 innings of baseball. They headed to Canada for a weekend series with the Blue Jays, who were in the midst of an 11-game win streak that saw them take over first-place in the A.L. East. All the Yankees have done now is win the first two games of the series in Toronto, with Saturday's 4-1 triumph showcasing the talents of second-year pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. He threw his first major league complete game yesterday, striking out 8 and allowing just one run to improve to 9-9 on the year.

In Texas, the Rangers continued their climb back into playoff contention with a 12-4 home win over Tampa Bay. Adrian Beltre (#10) and Shin-Soo Choo (#15) hit homers for the Rangers, while starting pitcher Colby Lewis improved to 13-5 with the win.

Minnesota knocked off visiting Cleveland, 4-1, and the Twins moved to .500 with the win at 58-58. Brian Dozier hit his 25th home run of the season for the Twins, who are an impressive 37-24 at home thus far in 2015.

In Kansas City, Johnny Cueto, acquired from the Reds prior to the trade deadline, shut down the Los Angeles Angels, allowing just one earned run in eight innings of work as the Royals won, 9-4. Kansas City is now 70-46 on the year and a remarkable 41-20 at Kauffman Stadium. The loss gives the Angels the same number of losses (56) as the Orioles in the chase for the second wild-card spot in the American League.



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spieth in hot pursuit of his third major, but jason day stands in the way

I took great exception to CBS golf analyst's comment late in Saturday's coverage of the PGA Championship that Jordan Spieth had "weasled" his way into Sunday's final group with a back nine 30 on Saturday that sealed the deal on his third-round score of 65.

Branden Grace
Can Branden Grace atone for his late-round stumble at the U.S. Open in June and win the PGA at Whistling Straits today?

"Weasled" would indicate Spieth somehow worked his way into the final group with smoke and mirrors. That was hardly the case. He birdied his last three holes on Saturday, including the difficult 18th, and enters Sunday's final round at 13-under-par, trailing 54-hole-leader Jason Day by two shots. There are others lurking, namely Branden Grace, Justin Rose and Matt Jones, who led by two once second-round play was completed early Saturday. Sadly, Jones faded like Kyle Boller in the second half of a road game over the last hour of play on Saturday and is five shots behind Day with 18 holes to play.

Spieth's surge up the leaderboard is precisely what CBS wanted, as the 22-year-old Texan has a chance to join some very elite golfing company if he can win Sunday's PGA at Whistling Straits. With a victory, he'd be only the third player in history (Woods and Hogan were the others) to win three major titles in one golfing season. That his final-round showdown comes against Day—and not Rory McIlroy—shouldn't change the "must watch" status of the final eighteen holes, as Day tries to finally close the deal and win a major title for the first time.

Quick Takes On The PGA Championship

Tony Finau -- had it going for a while, but missed a couple of short putts down the stretch on Saturday and will need the leaders to stumble badly on Sunday.

Justin Rose -- well within striking distance at -12, and looks to be getting more and more comfortable on the greens.

Dustin Johnson -- posted a 4-under 68 on Saturday and nearly made the first page of the leaderboard at -9—will need a miracle to win his first major on Sunday.

Jordan Spieth -- just keeps on striping it off the tee, flushing his irons and rolling in putts—getting into Sunday's final group was a big deal.

Branden Grace -- will try not to duplicate his late meltdown at the U.S. Open on Sunday at Whistling Straits. Needs to get off to a good start in round four.

Jason Day -- bounced back from a double bogey on the back nine to birdie 17 and give himself a two-shot edge heading into the final round. Hitting his irons better than anyone in the event.

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pope francis bus-trip seats on sale now

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

Pope Francis waving

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

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

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