Friday
March 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 31
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hope i'm wrong, but i see the orioles taking a step back


Opening day is just three days away. Those are seven great words.

I won't be there sadly, as I'm taking a group of 20 to the Masters on Monday and Tuesday, but I'll be glued in throughout the rest of the season and we'll have daily coverage of all things Orioles here at #DMD. If you're going to miss opening day, going to the Masters is a pretty good excuse.

Oh, and I'm a 13-game plan holder ("C plan" -- check in with me via e-mail if you're a C-plan holder and maybe we'll catch a game or two together), so I'll be at the ballpark a lot this season.

In other words, I'm all in.

Last year at this time, I picked the Birds to win the A.L. East. They were in it until late September, but finally relented and wound up a wild card team, where the manager drifted off for a midnight nap and Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball that landed in Detroit and, well, that was that.

Today's the day I put it on the record and give my 2017 prediction for the Orioles. Over the weekend, I'll produce the rest of my divisional winners, World Series teams and eventual champion.

The focus is on the Birds today, though.

I'm worried.

A spring shoulder injury sent Chris Tillman to the disabled list? How many starts will he miss in the regular season and how effective will he be once he returns? Those are two major issues for the Orioles in 2017.

I don't think it's fair to say that last year's team caught lightning in a bottle, but lots of things went perfectly for the O's in 2016. I'm not sure you can honestly predict the same will happen this year, particularly if you're being objective and not wearing the homer-hat, which I'm not sporting.

Chris Tillman is a critical piece for the Birds. He's hurting. There's no telling how long he'll be out or how effective he can be in 2017, but he won't start the season on the active roster and he's one twinge-in-his-shoulder from perhaps missing a lot of time this season.

Tillman's injury is especially crucial in that Dan Duquette didn't add any pitching in the off-season. Sure, I know, the Birds brought in Gabriel Ynoa over the winter and just this week added Alec Asher, but neither of those guys can come close to doing in the A.L. East what Tillman has done. Sorry...they're not the answer.

Wade Miley is starting the season on the disabled list as well. That means the Orioles don't have a left-handed starter of any merit -- at this point. Miley's "just OK", but he can occasionally surprise you and offer a better-than-decent start.

Those two pitching injuries, even in April, aren't leaving me warm and fuzzy. A loss in April counts the same as one in August or September. If you start the season 5-12, you have a lot of ground to make up to finish with 88 wins.

And the two starting-studs, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, are both potential number one pitchers, but let's keep in mind neither of them have ever thrown more than 180 innings in a season. Gausman hit 179 innings last season, while Bundy was at 109. Gausman is clearly the more veteran of the two, but getting him into the 200-210 range and having Bundy hit the 160 inning mark means both will be in uncharted territory.

I'm not saying Gausman and Bundy can't make 34 starts. I'm saying they've never done it before, and with that increased workload comes additional pressure, both physically and mentally. Be careful thinking both of those guys are the next Justin Verlander -- at least not now, anyway.

That leaves -- Ubaldo Jimenez. I don't have to say much there. We know what we're getting with Jimenez. A really good start, three bad starts, a so-so start and -- lather, rinse, repeat. Thankfully, this is year four of his four-year deal. He'll either be pawned off at the trade deadline or he'll be in Atlanta next season pitching for the Braves.

For now, though, with Tillman and Miley out, Jimenez needs to come through. Don't count on that happening.

The bullpen should again be the backbone of the team. If the Orioles can secure a lead heading into the seventh inning, I'd say they have a 90% chance of winning that game. Sure, they'll squander an occasional 7th or 8th inning lead, but it won't happen more than a half dozen times all season.

I don't expect Zach Britton to go 47-for-47 in closing situations like he did a year ago. I'm not saying what happened last year as an outlier, per se, because Britton will certainly be ultra-effective again this year, but he's not going 47-for-47 this time around. There will be a blown save or three mixed in there this season, I suspect.

All in all, though, if the Birds can get a lead through six, they're going to win a lot of those games.

Offensively, we know we'll get a monster year from Manny Machado. That's a given. If Chris Davis would strike out 50 times less and replace those 50 K's with 15 hits and 15 walks and offer a few more "productive at-bats" in there as well, the O's might threaten the upper 80's win total again.

But history shows Davis isn't going to do that. He'll hit 35 home runs, but he'll strike out 210 times. If he could get his batting average up to the .260 mark -- like he did in 2015 -- that would also be a huge help. Maybe his hand-injury-excuse from a season ago was legit. I hope so. If not, he's a $12 million player in a $23 million uniform.

Trumbo will hit a lot of home runs, but can he avoid a second half slump like the one he endured in 2016? I don't expect him to hit 47 home runs this season like he did a season ago, but I think he'll be in the low 40's. Like Davis, if the O's could just squeeze 50 more better at-bats out of Trumbo, that would be a huge bonus. But that's asking a lot.

I'm one that says that O's are going to miss Matt Wieters more than they realize. I think Welington Castillo was a reasonable plug-and-play replacement for Wieters, but only time will tell if Castillo fits in the way Wieters did. Camden Yards should be favorable for Castillo, but there are also 81 away games.

And then, there's the mess in right field and the lack of a left-handed hitter other than Seth Smith, who as Adam Jones noted in January, isn't the most athletically gifted defensive player. But he does hit from the left side of the plate, which means when the O's face right handed starters, he'll likely get the defensive nod and Trumbo will be the DH.

With Buck Showalter confirming on Thursday that both Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard are coming north with the big league club, that leaves the Orioles with three right fielders and two first basemen. Five of their 25 players play two positions in the field!

Mancini was given some right field work in spring training, but he's nowhere near ready to patrol that position on a regular basis. How and when does he play? Are they going to give Chris Davis a day off every week? Is Mancini good enough defensively to trust at first base for 30 or so spot starts during the season?

I like the fact that Mancini made the opening day roster. But poor planning from Duquette has created a lopsided squad of sorts.

For the Orioles to contend for a playoff spot in 2017, three things have to happen in their favor:

1. Tillman has to return sometime in late-April/early-May and pitch effectively for the final five months of the season. The O's might be able to withstand Tillman missing his first four or five starts, but they can't compete if he comes back and stinks it up.

2. Gausman and Bundy have to throw their 190-200 innings and have respectable numbers (3.85 ERA, 1.200 WHIP or less). If those two are ineffective, it's over.

3. The core veteran players have to stay healthy. That includes shortstop J.J. Hardy, who is prone to a stint or two on the D.L. each year, plus the likes of Schoop, Jones, Davis, etc. have to be in the lineup for 155 or so games.

On paper, the Orioles look solid. But a deep dive on their attributes and weaknesses shows something different. The "if" word is used a lot with Buck Showalter's team.

I hope I'm wrong, but I see a team that will look a lot, record wise, like the 2015 edition that played lights out in the final week of the season just to claw their way back to a .500 record.

I see the Birds finishing at 79-83 and finishing 3rd in the division behind Boston and the Yankees.

Feel free to add your predicted finish for the Orioles in the comments section below.

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masters preview: drew's top 12 for 2017


You know spring is officially on the way when you start seeing ads for the Masters during CBS's coverage of March Madness. The music, the yellow Masters flag, the voice of Jim Nantz. It's like therapy, only better.

They'll be teeing it up starting next Thursday, April 6, in the year's first major golf championship at Augusta National Golf Club. Dustin Johnson will enter the tournament as the favorite after his sizzling February and March, but there are others who should be considered as well.

Through April 5, I'll be offering my Masters Top 12, ending on Wednesday the 5th with my predicted winner and a 6-player "fantasy team".

Five top-10 finishes over the last decade at Augusta National prove that Lee Westwood can play the course, and contend. Is 2017 the year he finally captures that elusive first major championship?

I kicked off the series on Monday of this week with Bill Haas at #12 on the list, followed by Matthew Fitzpatrick at #11 on Tuesday, Matt Kuchar at #10 on Wednesday and Louis Oosthuizen at #9 yesterday.

Today, at #8, it's a man who has had several brushes with major championship fame, but still hasn't claimed one yet in his distinguished career: Lee Westwood.

Westwood's record at Augusta National is as good as anyone's over the last decade who hasn't won the title. He's made 10 consecutive cuts at the Masters and has five top-10 finishes, including last year's tie for 2nd and another runner-up finish in 2010.

Funny enough about Westwood, his career nag has been his chipping and putting, yet both of those elements always seem to be on-point at Augusta National, which is distinctly odd when you consider how difficult those two traits are on the wildly unpredictable Augusta layout.

His strength, driving the ball, is what sets him up for success every April when the world's best golfers chase after the coveted green jacket. Westwood hits it as straight as anyone, and even though Augusta National has lengthened some holes over the years, that element hasn't caught up to Westwood. He can still reach three of the par 5's in two, with only the eighth hole presenting more of a 2-shot challenge than the others.

Westwood is gritty, too, which bodes well for him in major championship golf. To wit, he has top-5 finishes in all four majors in his career and coulda-shoulda-woulda have three or four majors at this point. But something always happens...

This could be the year where winning a green jacket is what happens. I'm of the belief that all players who truly have the ability and experience to win a major title will do so in their career. There are obviously outliers in that statement -- Colin Montgomerie comes to mind right away -- but for the most part, at some point, a guy who is due to win a major wins one in his career. Think Henrik Stenson last July at the British Open.

Westwood fits that profile. He's going to win one, I think, at some point, but he's 43 now, and the chances of winning diminish every year when he goes 0-for-4.

Personally, I'd love to see him win this year's Masters. I think he's been a wonderful competitor and a great ambassador for English golf in his 20-year career.

If his recent Augusta track record is any indicator, he has a good shot of being right there on Sunday afternoon when the leaders turn for home.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

With the final international break of the season now behind us, Matchday 30 of the English Premier League will kick off a busy three game stretch over the next eight days where, depending on results, we could for all intents and purposes crown the next league champion and at least one team could almost certainly seal their relegation fate. With all of the weekend action available on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra, tune in to see if who may go top and who may go down.

Saturday, April 1st (all times eastern)

7:30am – Everton @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

The weekend will waste little time getting started with a bang when Everton, who grabbed all three points for the third time in their last four games (L1) when a double from Romelu Lukaku moved the Belgium back atop the race for the golden boot and the Toffees past relegation candidates Hull City, make the one mile trek across town to Anfield for another installment of the Merseyside Derby against a Liverpool side likely happy to split the points their last time out in an action packed 1-1 draw with Manchester City to maintain fourth place and a four point cushion over fifth place Manchester United.

Liverpool knew they would have to fend off United and a sputtering Arsenal to lock down the final spot Champions League spot for next season, but they could not have expected a late charge from their local rivals, with Everton taking an impressive twenty-three from a possible thirty points in 2017 to move six points behind Liverpool ahead of their weekend tussle. Three points would be a must for the Toffees if they are to truly threaten their neighbors, who they have beaten only once in their last twenty top flight meetings (L10 D9) and are winless in their last sixteen trips to Anfield (L8 D8).

Sunday, April 2nd (all times eastern)

8:30am – Middlesbrough @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC Sports Network

The Sunday morning slate will kick off the most important seventy-two-hours in the history of Middlesbrough Football Club when, sitting five points adrift of Swansea City and relegation safety, they travel to the Liberty Stadium hoping to narrow the gap with a Welsh side they will have to overcome if they have any hopes of guaranteeing another year of top flight football. The weekend showdown will be followed only days later with a trip to the KCOM Stadium for a crunch match with Hull City, with the the Tigers themselves still fighting the drop and currently two points above Boro in the table.

Anything but three points in at least one of the fixtures will almost certainly doom Middlesbrough to the Championship next season, with match ups still to come before seasons end against league giants Manchester City, Chelsea, and Liverpool. Still searching for their first win of 2017, they will need to overturn their woeful form on the road, where they have won only one of their fourteen away matches (L7 D6) and, despite taking all the points in the reverse fixture back December for the first time in their last four meetings (L3), have lost three of their last five trips to the Liberty Stadium (W1 D1).

11am – Manchester City @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Arsenal's Arsene Wenger (right) needs three points this weekend to keep Arsenal's 2018 Champion's League hopes alive.

With his contract up at the end of the season, the uncertainty regarding the future of manager Arsene Wenger has proved to be a costly distraction as Arsenal continued to endure their worst run of league form under the Frenchmen when they were unable to cope with West Brom from set piece situations, conceding two from the dead ball and falling to the Baggies 3-1. For all that has gone wrong for the Gunners in 2017, they have one last chance to keep their twenty-year consecutive Champions League run alive when Manchester City visits the Emirates Stadium to wrap up the weekend action.

City will surely take the point but may feel as if they left something on the table from their draw with Liverpool, which has likely cost them a late push at the title although that should be settled once and for all when they face Chelsea in the mid-week. The Citizens are unbeaten in their last seven league games (W4 D3) and will hope to continue their run of form against an Arsenal side they have beaten only once in their last seven meetings across all competitions but have enjoyed a run of success in their recent trips to the capitol, dropping only one of their previous six visits to the Emirates (W3 D2).

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Thursday
March 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 30
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kaepernick not banned, he's just not very good anymore


It's safe to say we all know that varying rules exist in professional sports.

If you're a really, really good player, your freedoms have no boundaries.

If you're a marginal player, you better be prepared to walk the straight and narrow.

That's what's happened to Colin Kaepernick, who, quite honestly, barely fits in the "marginal" player category these days.

Kaepernick is a man without a job and there are whispers coming from his camp and elsewhere throughout sports that he's been "blackballed" by the NFL in large part due to his political stance last season that saw him kneel during the playing of the National Anthem on game days.

It gave the talking heads and national sports writers a few weeks worth of content last Fall and Winter and the line drawn was fairly simple to decipher; If you're "old school" in any way, you likely bashed Kaepernick. If you're more liberal in your thinking, you applauded and believed in what Kaepernick was doing.

It would appear the NFL as a whole didn't believe much in anything associated with Kaepernick, including his ability to play quarterback.

I have no idea if Kaepernick has been the victim of some kind of discreet but well organized plot within the league to keep unemployed. But from an outsider's view, that notion seems rather silly to me.

For starters, getting all 32 owners in the NFL to actually agree to not sign Kaepernick is absurd. There are legal ramifications attached to that sort of activity, for one, and the NFL and its ownership group do not need a "blackball" scandal on their hands. There's no chance the owners would sit in a conference room, bring up the subject of Kaepernick's employment, and actually nod their heads in agreement that he's not to be signed by anyone.

That's just not happening.

There are just too many loose lips in the NFL these days for there to be any kind of formal agreement about not signing Colin Kaepernick.

On the other hand, though, there are probably 32 owners in the NFL who don't want the potential headache that comes with signing him. That, of course, is very much a reality.

And so, when discussing their team's quarterback situation with their head coach or general manager, it's well within reason to think that a club might intentionally distance themselves from Kaepernick because of what he potentially brings to the table, distraction wise.

Even though Kaepernick now says he's going to stand for the national anthem this season, that ship has already sailed. Once a draft dodger, always a draft dodger, in the mind of "old school" folks, anyway. And yes, I know Kaepernick didn't "dodge the draft". I'm merely pointing out that in just about everyone's mind, no matter what he does now, Kaepernick is the guy who once had the audacity to not stand up for the national anthem. That's his scarlet letter.

And, yes, I'm sure some teams have steered away from him because of that issue.

But I'm also 100% certain of this: If Colin Kaepernick could still be a competent, quality quarterback in the NFL, he'd be playing somewhere in 2017.

If Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson did the take-a-knee thing, they would be starting quarterbacks in 2017, mostly likely still in Indianapolis and Seattle, respectively. And, for certain, if either of those teams cut Luck or Wilson, another NFL club would scoop those guys up in a New York second.

Kaepernick isn't on a NFL roster because he's not that good anymore. The league's playing style changes about as often as the current President plays golf. Five years ago, the mobile, free-roaming quarterback was all the rage. Athleticism reigned supreme. Cam Newton sorta-kinda changed the league.

But that style is already outdated in the NFL. Teams want pocket passers now. It helps if you're mobile, of course, but NFL coaches and coordinators want quarterbacks who can drop back, read the field, and throw strikes. If you're just a guy who runs around and "makes things happen", the NFL is quickly passing you by.

Kaepernick is not a quality quarterback. He's a quality athlete, for sure, but he's not Tom Brady.

Some folks have wondered how a guy like Mike Glennon, a career back-up essentially, could garner a $15 million a year paycheck and starting role with the Chicago Bears. I could see where Kaepernick and his supporters would laugh at that situation in the Windy City and use it as Exhibit A in their assessment that Kap has been blackballed.

Glennon has two things going for him that Kaepernick doesn't: A strong arm. And he's never taken a knee during the national anthem and made himself into a nationwide story.

The issue of "distractions" in the NFL is interesting in that every team, every year, has players on their roster who have been "in the news" either in the off-season or during the season. How, for example, is Le'Veon Bell missing games for violating the league's PED policy not a distraction, but Kaepernick's anti-anthem stance was?

That's simple to answer: No player in Pittsburgh was questioned on a somewhat regular basis after Bell's marijuana use. When he came back to the team, it wasn't a national story. It wasn't at all a distraction.

Kaepernick's situation in San Francisco was a topic of conversation around the country, let alone in San Francisco. Players were asked about it, regularly. It became a major "non football issue" that suddenly found its way into the locker room. That's the classic definition of a distraction.

No one in Pittsburgh was going to whiff on a block because they wanted to see Le'Veon Bell get a helmet in the middle of his chest.

Someone in San Francisco might have -- ahem -- "missed an assignment" in part because they didn't mind seeing Kaepernick get drilled.

If there's a potential for distraction, teams are going to steer clear of the player in question. That is, unless the guy is a superstar.

Colin Kaepernick isn't a superstar. He's probably a Grade A back-up at this point, and those are good to have. But they're also a dime-a-dozen in the NFL, where "decent" players are available at the drop of a hat.

Why take Kaepernick when you can just take Ryan Mallett and avoid any potential headaches? It is worth mentioning that while Kaepernick says he's going to stand for the anthem, who knows if that's permanent or not? He might get his feathers ruffled again this November and suddenly start standing on his head during the anthem. Who knows...

Teams just don't see the value in having him around, playing wise, and when you throw in the other stuff, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

If he could play, though, and help some team win 11 or 12 games? He'd be on the field in 2017, for sure.

As the NFL owners just showed with their disgraceful 31-1 approval vote to allow Oakland to move to Las Vegas, the only thing that matters within the league is winning.

Whether that's "winning" by moving a team to another city or "winning" by beating the (insert team here) next Sunday, 31-17, the only thing any NFL team is interested in is -- winning.

Colin Kaepernick can't help anyone win. So -- he's unemployed.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


it's time for baseball


A recent commenter on this forum suggested that the 2017 Baltimore Orioles are not legitimate World Series contenders. Pessimists nodded their heads in agreement, then furrowed their brows and headed out into the cloudy, gray doom that occupies even their sunniest spring days.

Hey, it’s an opinion. According to the projections at FanGraphs (81-81) and especially Baseball Prospectus (74-88), it’s a highly-educated opinion. But we ought to know better.

Not because the Orioles have the best record in the American League over the last five seasons (true), or because William Nathaniel “Buck” Showalter III is some kind of magical sorcerer (not true), or because being an optimist is always better than being a pessimist (up for debate).

It’s just that…there’s no point in worrying about whether the Orioles are good enough to win the World Series, because you have to make the playoffs first if you want to win the World Series. The 2016 Orioles took a five-and-a-half game lead in the AL East on June 29 after crushing the Padres. After that came total mediocrity, a 42-43 record.

A healthy Zach Britton in 2017 would go a long way in giving the Orioles a reasonable chance of making the playoffs for the second consecutive season and 4th time since 2012.

It wasn’t until the last day of the season that a coveted playoff berth was clinched. Yet I remember my immediate thought the second that Zach Britton struck out Brett Gardner in the bottom of the ninth in the Bronx: “Yes, the Orioles have a chance to win the World Series!”

Switch over to football for a minute. Want to know the Ravens’ real organizational philosophy? The smartest thing I’ve ever heard Steve Bisciotti say (he doesn’t say a lot) is that the Ravens aren’t trying to win the Super Bowl every season, but rather trying to make the playoffs every season.

Would it have mattered how much the trio of Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown made the Steelers “legitimate Super Bowl contenders” if the Ravens had held on to win that Christmas Day classic at Heinz Field and then won in Cincinnati, leaving the Steelers outside of the tournament entirely?

So let’s reframe the debate. Are the Orioles legitimate playoff contenders in 2017?

I’m really not sure much has changed from last year; the biggest obstacles getting in the way are still the Red Sox and the Blue Jays.

The Red Sox sure look the part. Their offense last season was borderline incredible; it seemed like they were averaging six runs a game for most of the year. Mookie Betts was so dominant against the Orioles in 2016 that I almost wanted to give him an ovation in grudging admiration. For icing on the cake, Boston added Chris Sale, who might have the best stuff in the American League, to a rotation that includes Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and David Price.

Even with Price potentially out for the first two months of the year, and even without the retired David Ortiz, who in 2016 had a monster year for anyone, let alone a 40-year-old, the Red Sox are a better team than the Orioles.

The Blue Jays have Josh Donaldson, who is great, but they also have Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista, two guys whose greatness is mostly behind them, and no longer have Edwin Encarnacion, whom the Orioles (and Gary Thorne, who simply cannot pronounce his name correctly) will now thankfully only have to see seven times as a member of the Indians instead of 19.

Toronto’s rotation has plenty of talent, but none of the track record of Boston’s group. J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez combined to go 35-6 last season, which seems highly unlikely to happen again. But there’s no denying that those two, along with Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada, make for a staff that’s really the strength of a team that’s been better known for its power hitting over the last few years.

As for the Orioles, what has really changed? They still possess an infield that any team besides maybe the Cubs would love to have. If Chris Davis can hit around .250 with the power he displays, his contract is worth it. Jonathan Schoop is this close to stepping to another level. J.J. Hardy needs to stay healthy and keep catching the ball, and Manny Machado is one of a few players in the league that can carry a team by himself for a stretch of time.

Can it be painful to see Ubaldo Jimenez trudge to the mound? No doubt. Is Wade Miley going to surprise us all by going a solid 6 2/3 innings every fifth day? Not likely. But the antidote could be Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, legitimate power pitchers who are getting close to having the level of experience that could propel them to stardom.

And I’m still pretty calm when the bullpen enters the game in the late innings.

All that being said, it’s time for every sabermetrician and numbers guy to stop reading.

After 444 wins over the last five years, the Orioles are legitimate playoff contenders simply because they’ve figured out a way to win enough games to be there at the end. It’s not unlike the old golf axiom that having some kind of system in preparing to hit a shot, even if it’s a little flawed, is better than having no system at all.

When the Orioles take the field, they’re not guessing about what they need to do to win, or wondering how it’s going to happen. They have complete and total confidence in their winning strategy.

They hit home runs in bunches, catch the ball better than most teams and do a good job of hiding what’s below average. They’ve figured out that Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are just as important to winning games as Manny Machado and Adam Jones.

It’s not Orioles Magic. It’s walking out onto the field not only knowing you have a way to win, but that there’s a good chance it’s going to happen exactly as you’ve visualized it. For the players, and for the fans, it’s been a long enough stretch to make you realize it’s a reality.

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masters preview: drew's top 12 for 2017


You know spring is officially on the way when you start seeing ads for the Masters during CBS's coverage of March Madness. The music, the yellow Masters flag, the voice of Jim Nantz. It's like therapy, only better.

They'll be teeing it up starting next Thursday, April 6, in the year's first major golf championship at Augusta National Golf Club. Dustin Johnson will enter the tournament as the favorite after his sizzling February and March, but there are others who should be considered as well.

Through April 5, I'll be offering my Masters Top 12, ending on Wednesday the 5th with my predicted winner and a 6-player "fantasy team".

With a playoff loss at Augusta and three recent Top 25 finishes, Louis Oosthuizen is a top contender heading into this year's Masters tournament at Augusta National.

I kicked off the series on Monday of this week with Bill Haas at #12 on the list, followed by Matthew Fitzpatrick at #11 on Tuesday and Matt Kuchar at #10 on Wednesday.

Today, at #9, it's a guy who could easily have already won a green jacket once -- Louis Oosthuizen.

Oosthuizen missed the cut at Augusta in his first three appearances, then promptly went to a playoff in his fourth try, losing to Bubba Watson in 2012 after the left-hander hit one of the greatest shots in major championship history on the first playoff hole. Oosthuizen, it should be noted, wound up making five on the hole, so he didn't help himself there, but Watson's improbable shot from deep within the right pine trees was so startling no one playing against him would have made a par.

He missed the cut in 2013, then finished 25th, T19 and T15 in his next three appearances at Augusta National. He's a threat this year, for sure.

Oosthuizen has one major, the 2010 British Open, and the aforementioned playoff loss at the Masters and a playoff defeat again at the British Open two years ago at St. Andrews when Zach Johnson prevailed there.

He's one of those players these days who shapes his entire playing calendar around the four major championships. Oosthuizen is as solid off the tee as they come and is one of the game's best ball strikers. His putter is occasionally balky, but when it's hot, like it was in 2010 at the British Open and 2012 at the Masters, there are few guys who can beat him.

And he's only 34 years old. Injuries have played a role in his on-again-off-again play over the last couple of years, but when the majors roll around, he's going to be heard from as long as he's healthy.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Oosthuizen slipping on the green jacket on Sunday, April 9.

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landmark season finally ends for umbc


Before a boisterous crowd of nearly 1,400, UMBC battled Texas A&M- Corpus Christi, but came up short, falling, 79-61, in the College Insider Tournament semi-finals on Wednesday night at the RAC.

The Retrievers' landmark season comes to an end with a mark of 21-13, while TAMCC (24-11) will host the title game on Friday.

Senior Will Darley (Dulaney H.S.) scored 15 points and finished his career with 552, the fifth-most in a single season in school history. He added a trio of treys and recorded 90 on the campaign, one shy of a Brian Neller's single season record set in 2012-13.

Junior guard Rodney Elliott (John Carroll H.S.), who earned the start in place of injured junior backcourt mate Jarius Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha), scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half. Freshman Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) added 10 points.

UMBC led by as many as 10 points deep into the first half, but the visiting Islanders would score 30 of the game's next 40 points over a 12-minute span bridging both halves to take control.

Trailing 49-39 with 12:56 remaining, UMBC made one final push, as a Darley trey and back-to-back field goals by Lamar cut the TAMCC lead to 52-48 with 7:29 remaining. But the Islanders would respond with a 11-0 run, capped when Kareem South banked in a trey from 35 feet away.

UMBC only converted eight (of 23) second half field goals, while the Islanders hit 19-of-26 (73.1 percent). Just a 33.3 percent and low volume 3-point shooting team entering the game, the visitors converted 8-of-11 in the second half.

Corpus Christi senior forward Rashawn Thomas, the nation's tenth-leading scorer entering the game, scored a game-high 23 points and collected a game-best nine caroms. South hit 8-of-11 shots from the floor and added 20 points for the visitors.

Darley surpassed the idle Lyles (17th place, 1086 points) and moved into 16th place with 1,095 points.

The three CIT victories were UMBC's first in a post-season NCAA Division I Tournament and were the most ever recorded by an America East team.



Wednesday
March 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 29
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


outplayed, but not outscored, u.s. earns valuable point at panama


The U.S. Men's soccer team started play last Friday night in desperate need of at least four points in a quick two-game series against Honduras and Panama in 2018 World Cup Qualifying play.

Anything less would have been disastrous.

The first piece of the puzzle fell into place with a 6-0 thrashing of Honduras on Friday in San Jose, California. It was one of the most comprehensive wins in recent U.S. soccer history and set the stage for last night's contest in Panama City, where the Americans needed at least a one-point draw against the hosts.

And that's precisely what they got, as the U.S. battled to a 1-1 tie with Panama that still leaves them one point outside of the third and final automatic qualifying spot for the CONCACAF region, but much more comfortable than they were this time last week.

Several outstanding second-half saves from Tim Howard on Tuesday night helped the U.S. escape Panama City with a 1-1 tie and a valuable point in World Cup 2018 qualifying.

It wasn't pretty, mind you, and the U.S. side was outplayed on Tuesday night, but a road tie in World Cup qualifying is never a bad thing.

Injuries to defenders John Brooks and Geoff Cameron forced U.S. coach Bruce Arena to shuffle his lineup, with little used Tim Ream earning an emergency start and Graham Zusi, who plays primarily in the midfield, moving to the backline to give the Americans a vetern presence that Ream couldn't supply.

Both players were exposed at times, but each hung in there and fought hard for 90 minutes. Ream was partially involved in Panama's 43rd minute goal when he failed to clear a throw-in into the penalty area, but there were several occasions on Tuesday night where he gamely squared off with a more talented Panamanian forward and more than held his own.

Zusi, likewise, was solid in his spot-start as a defender. He was beat for speed several times but was unwavering in his effort and intensity. Arena made a good choice there.

The U.S. offense was lackluster and out-of-sync most of the night. They got nothing from Jozy Altidore up front and Michael Bradley's superb play in the 6-0 rout of Honduras couldn't be duplicated on Tuesday night in Panama.

If not for some penalty-area razzle-dazzle from Christian Pulisic, the U.S. might not have found the back of the net.

In the 39th minute, Pulisic was able to scoot past his man in the penalty area, fight off an aggressive encounter from another defender, cut the ball away from him, then back, giving Clint Dempsey a moment to race into scoring position 10 yards out. Pulisic slid a perfect pass and Dempsey was able to finish the job with a right-footed shot that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

It was another signature moment in the young career of Pulisic, who stole the show last Friday vs. Honduras. Tuesday's goal was 90% him and 10% Dempsey. It was a play not many forwards in the world could make, but the 18-year old, as we've seen, is potentially something special.

Panama scored four minutes later to finalize the scoring at 1-1.

To the credit of Arena and the U.S., the Americans tried to attack in the second half. They weren't playing for a tie, per se, but if one came their way, so be it.

While their efforts going forward weren't scary in the least, Arena didn't simply tell his team to pack it in with 30 minutes left. They tried to produce some offense -- but it just didn't happen.

Tim Howard was terrific in goal last night, making several outstanding stops to keep the score at 1-1. If we learned two things from these last two World Cup qualifying efforts, it's that the U.S. has found its future star (Pulisic) and Tim Howard is still the most reliable U.S. netminder and should be in goal for the mid-June games against Trinidad and Tobago (home) and Mexico (away).

There's still work to be done, of course, to secure one of the three automatic qualifying spots. Mexico (10 points) and Costa Rica (7) are comfortably on top through four games, with Panama (5) and the U.S. (4) lurking. Honduras also has four points through four games.

But last night's tie in Panama was a crucial point for the Americans and now sets up a similar scenario in June, where the U.S. would love to pick up four points with a home match against last place Trinidad and Tobago and a road affair in Mexico City. Once those two games are in the books, the U.S. will have remaining home games against Costa Rica and Panama and away contests at Honduras and at Trinidad and Tobago.

It might take 15 points to automatically qualify in the 3rd spot for the CONCACAF region. That's the total Mexico needed in 2014 to advance via a third place finish. The fourth place finisher in CONCACAF does have a chance to play in Russia 2018 by virtue of a 2-game playoff against a yet-to-be-determined team, but finishing in the top three automatically secures a berth -- and the U.S. likely needs at least 11 more points in their remaining six games to pull that off.

In a 10-game series where every point matters, last night's tie was productive for the U.S. They clearly had a makeshift defensive lineup that held itself together and they did just enough offensively to put a goal on the scoreboard and tie their hosts in Panama City.

Ties are typically without fanfare, but last night's draw was eventful for Bruce Arena's team.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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


As we barrel towards April in Baltimore it means that two things are on the horizon: Opening Day...and endless rounds of mock NFL drafts. The latter has been surprisingly quiet in the early going though, which seems especially odd in this year.

Here's the skinny: Draft day generally brings out the excitement in Ravens fans, mostly because Ozzie and Co. have one of the best reputations for managing the draft process in the entire league. In terms of getting value for slot the Ravens might very well be the absolute best, and that gives them a great combination of depth and a fairly high number of impact playmakers who get found in the fourth round or later. Think guys like Arthur Jones, Pernell McPhee, Ricky Wagner, and Tavon Young.

But on the flip side, the team hasn't exactly been finding superstars over the past decade.

Much of that is because they've been picking in the later part of the first round more often than not in the Harbaugh/Flacco era, but at other times the braintrust has just flat out missed with their picks. In four drafts since winning the Super Bowl they've had one confirmed first round bust in Matt Elam, and early returns on Breshad Perriman haven't been strong. And on top of that, while C.J. Mosley is certainly good at what he does, middle linebacker just isn't a premium position so even that pick comes with an asterisk.

The Ravens still need wide-receiver help, and Clemson's Mike Williams just might be on the board and available when the Ravens select in the first round next month.

Then there's the inability to consistently find strong production in the second and third rounds, to which we can attribute Arthur Jones, Terrance Brooks, Maxx Williams, Carl Davis, and Kamalei Correa. I'm giving them a pass for now on Bronson Kafusi since he missed his rookie season with a freak injury, which means that they've gotten legitimately strong production from just two of their eight picks from rounds two and three over the past four drafts, and they're both interior defensive linemen.

If you're looking for a reason why this team has been mediocre at best over that time period, their recent picks in the second and third rounds are as good a place as any to start.

This year, the situation is even more tenuous because the Ravens have mostly painted themselves into a corner on draft day. They simply have to come out of day one with either Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams or Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis. Picking in the middle of the first round, being locked in to a couple of players at one position group significantly limits your flexibility, but there just isn't much of an alternative for the Ravens.

The Ravens came up empty in the free agent pass catcher sweepstakes, and now they have a massive hole in that spot. Frankly, they have a massive hole when it comes to offensive playmakers in general.

Now I understand that Ozzie and Eric DeCosta don't think like this, and they won't get boxed in to this kind of decision-making. If someone like Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett falls to them thanks to some reaches for quarterbacks or someone else going unexpectedly high they might take him. They might decide they like one of the offensive tackles a lot at that spot, and pick someone like Alabama's Cam Robinson or Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk over one or both of the receivers. And those guys are good players who can reasonably be listed over Williams or Davis on any big board, so it would be in keeping with the idea of picking the best player available (that mantra is a bit glib, but we'll stick with it for the sake of argument).

But then what? You go into the season with a new pass rusher or a great tandem of offensive tackles protecting Joe Flacco....and you're still missing anyone who can play the role of a big, physical, dependable receiver who can consistently make plays. Without Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers under center, that's not a recipe for success in today's NFL.

And this is where you have to start questioning the logic of the team's moves, if not individually than considered together. After all, the Ravens just let one of the game's best right tackles leave town without much of an effort at keeping him. Resign him and you're not even concerned about those guys in the draft and zoning in on the wide receivers isn't nearly as big a deal. It's also where those recent draft failings really start to bite you in the rear end.

The Ravens traded down before landing Correa last year when, at one point, they could have stayed put and drafted Noah Spence. Spence wasn't an All-Pro or anything last year, but he did flash some real potential on the edge and registered 5.5 sacks. Correa made no impact at all on defense and the coaches weren't even working him at outside linebacker, choosing to move him into the middle instead.

And a big part of the reason the Ravens couldn't keep Wagner is that they preferred retaining nose tackle Brandon Williams...despite the fact that they've taken three other defensive tackles in the first three rounds of the draft in the three years since they picked Williams. If the mantra at 1 Winning Drive is supposed to be "next man up," then that represents a massive failure either of development or of strategic resource management.

All of which is just a long way of saying that the Ravens don't actually stand to feel like they've done much no matter who they pick next month. Receiver is the most glaring need, especially if you're bullish on fourth round pick Alex Lewis taking over the right tackle position the same way Wagner did as a 5th round pick.

It wasn't that long ago that a lot of people desperately wanted them to pick Zack Martin so they wouldn't have to play Wagner in that spot at all. But that's a big if, and it's a tall task to keep trying to reload like that, and it won't help them at all on the defensive edge, where they'll still need someone to help out Terrell Suggs in the short term, and hopefully take over for him in the long run. So maybe the Ravens should just stick with that "best player available" strategy and take whoever they think is the biggest star over the long term at an impact position.

It might mean picking another tackle and/or not getting the receiver everyone wants, but they're just not in a good spot roster wise in the immediate term, and the Ravens are going to have at least one big hole and several question marks no matter what. Will a little luck it might even get them back to the playoffs, where they're just one Joe Flacco hot streak away from another Super Bowl championship.

But from a long term perspective, I certainly hope that there's a growing recognition that the past several drafts haven't been great ones, that too many picks are being concentrated on the defensive line, and that Ozzie isn't coasting on reputation at the castle the same way he is with fans and the media.

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masters preview: drew's top 12 for 2017


You know spring is officially on the way when you start seeing ads for the Masters during CBS's coverage of March Madness. The music, the yellow Masters flag, the voice of Jim Nantz. It's like therapy, only better.

They'll be teeing it up starting next Thursday, April 6, in the year's first major golf championship at Augusta National Golf Club. Dustin Johnson will enter the tournament as the favorite after his sizzling February and March, but there are others who should be considered as well.

Three top-10 finishes in recent Masters efforts make Matt Kuchar a solid pick for next week's first golf major of the season at Augusta National.

Through April 5, I'll be offering my Masters Top 12, ending on Wednesday the 5th with my predicted winner and a 6-player "fantasy team".

I kicked off the series on Monday of this week with Bill Haas at #12 on the list, followed by Matthew Fitzpatrick at #11 on Tuesday.

Today, at #10, it's veteran Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar, believe it or not, only has seven career wins on the PGA Tour. That either speaks to his position as a career underachiever or tells you just how deep the talent is out there when a guy as gifted as Kuchar wins just seven times in 17 seasons.

He doesn't own a major title...yet.

But if he's going to win one, Augusta seems like the natural place for him to do it. He's made the cut at Augusta National seven straight years now, and went three straight appearances finishing in the top ten (T3, T8, T5) in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

While he's not "long" by PGA Tour standards, Kuchar's draw ball flight off the tee helps him pick up some much-needed distance on the touch-and-go par 5 holes at Augusta, particularly the two on the back nine.

He's not one of the game's great putters, but his short game touch around the greens makes up for what he might lack with the flat stick.

The biggest issue for Kuchar? He's never won a major, nor has he ever come down the stretch with a chance to do so. In other words, it's unclear how the pressure of a back-nine lead in a major championship would affect him.

We might find that out next week at Augusta National. Kuchar is one of those guys who, you figure, won't go an entire career without a major title on his resume. But at age 38 now, the years are starting to close in on him and his best chances are likely alive and breathing for only the next couple of years.

I like Kuchar's chances next week at The Masters. Don't be shocked if he's in the hunt come Sunday morning.

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"the best 34 minutes of the week" returns


It's a pretty good Monday when you can sit around at a table, taste some awesome beer, and talk sports with a couple of guys.

That's what I did yesterday, as I had the privilege of visiting with Dave Benfield and Brian Burton of DuClaw Brewery.

Those guys know their beer -- and their sports! And those of you who know me know I'm more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, but I've found some very tasty beers over the last three months since our relationship with DuClaw started back in January.

I'm now officially a fan of "Sweet Baby Jesus", which is DuClaw's awesome porter that has chocolate and peanut butter in it! Or, at least it tastes like it does.

Check out the podcast below to hear some great stories about beer making and a cool event the DuClaw folks are hosting this Saturday, April 1st at their brewery on Yellow Brick Road in Rosedale. I'll write more about the event this week, but all the details are in the podcast below.



PODCAST




Tuesday
March 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 28
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


i hope the move to las vegas fails for nfl


No NFL team is safe, no matter what their owner or the team's lease suggests.

Not even the Ravens, I assume.

I'm not suggesting that Baltimore is in danger of losing its NFL team (again), but if you think for one minute the NFL or the other 31 owners in the league care so passionately about Baltimore that we're exempt from another large-scale money-grab, you're kidding yourself.

As the owners showed yesterday with a 31-1 vote to allow the Raiders to move to Las Vegas, no owner really cares about anything -- except money.

Only the Miami Dolphins owner had the cajones to vote "no" yesterday. The rest of the sheep just checked off the "yes" box when the ballot came around and, voila!, Las Vegas has itself a team in the National Football League.

I'm not bashing Las Vegas, per se. The NFL might very well work out there, although I don't know anyone who actually lives in Las Vegas. As much gambling as the country does on the NFL every Sunday from September through December, the league should have a team in Las Vegas.

But moving a team there?

Breaking another city's heart?

Punishing the fan base because the political powers-that-be can't figure out a way to build a new football (and baseball) stadium to keep the Raiders in Oakland?

It all stinks.

What's wrong with expansion? Put a team in Vegas and give St. Louis another crack at the NFL. There's always been chatter about San Antonio being the "next city up" for NFL football. Add Vegas and San Antonio.

Just don't take a team away from a city, that's all.

I'm guessing the NFL is worried about watering down the game if they add two more new teams. Eh, the game's pretty average now, if you ask me, and there are 32 teams in the circuit. Two more wouldn't make it much worse.

It was disappointing to see Steve Bisciotti and the Ravens vote "yes" on Monday's proposed move from Oakland to Las Vegas. You'd think, based on his own personal history alone, that Bisciotti would be a dissenting vote anytime a team is proposing to move.

He lived through the Colts exit from Baltimore and their transition to Indianapolis.

Of course, Bisciotti is also the grand benefactor of a team move, as the Ravens were once the Cleveland Browns.

Maybe the Ravens owner figured voting "no" would be more hypocritical than voting "yes". Either way, it stinks. Bisciotti knows full well what those folks in Oakland are going through. And he still couldn't vote "no" yesterday.

Speaking of Oakland, what on earth kind of scene are we going to see out there for the next two years while the team remains the OAKLAND Raiders? Talk about bizarre...

It's like your college girlfriend telling you in the summer of your sophomore year that she's going to leave you for a childhood heart-throb...AFTER she graduates from college in two years.

Right?

I mean, that's precisely what they're doing in Oakland. The Raiders are telling their current fan base, "we're going to stick with you for a couple of more years and then we're leaving you for a prettier girl out in Las Vegas. But let's have some fun the next two years, huh?"

It's not going to be pretty out there, that's for sure.

My guess is that plan won't work and the team will play somewhere in Las Vegas by the time 2018 rolls around. Those people in Oakland are nuts-enough on Sunday when the Raiders are playing in Oakland and the team belongs to them. What kind of crazy behavior do you think we'll see from them now that the team has announced they're moving?

All of this, of course, shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the NFL.

Since I've never been a millionaire, I might not be qualified to analyze all of this, but it has always baffled me that someone who makes $50 million has to keep plugging away in an effort to make $100 million, $200 million and $500 million.

Enough -- is not a word that exists in the NFL and with the 32 owners.

There's never enough money to go around, which is why they keep whoring themselves to places with billion dollar stadium deals and the lure of $1.00 rent charges.

Everyone wants to get more rich. And then, after that, more rich again. And so on...

And the NFL will do this without any regard at all for the fans. None. Zero. Zilch.

Those 32 owners in the room yesterday didn't give a hoot about the football fans in Oakland who have supported the team for so long.

I find myself rooting more and more against the NFL these days, and Monday's move to Las Vegas is just another reason why I feel that way.

Their greed is startling.

No one is safe.

Except Roger Goodell, it seems.


u.s. faces huge test tonight at panama


No matter what happens tonight in Panama City, the U.S. soccer team still has a long way to go to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But this game, tonight, will give the winner a nice leg-up in the battle for one of the top three spots in CONCACAF qualifying.

The U.S. sits at 1-2 in the 10-game qualifying schedule, but they come in to the game on the heels of one of the best performances from a U.S. team in a decade or more, having throttled Honduras on Friday night in San Jose, 6-0.

Panama has four points thus far -- a win, loss and tie -- while the U.S. has just three points. A win tonight for the Americans would help reverse that 2-1 loss at home to Mexico back in November, which started the tailspin that cost former coach Jurgen Klinsmann his job a week later.

The U.S. should have a couple of key players available for tonight's game who weren't in the lineup on Friday night in San Jose. Midfielder Jermaine Jones is selectable by coach Bruce Arena after missing the Honduras game due to suspension and forward Bobby Wood could also suit up tonight after sitting out last Friday with a back injury.

Arena will have to re-configure his defensive corps, though, as John Brooks (virus) is out of the lineup tonight. The Americans are already vulnerable in the back as it is; losing Brooks could hurt them this evening, as it likely presses rarely-used Tim Ream into action.

Panama will not be the pushover that Honduras was on Friday night, that's for certain.

They attack with vigor and are particularly strong in the midfield, where the Americans are occasionally weak.

A win tonight and the U.S. are firmly back on track. A tie doesn't hurt them. A loss would be a setback, for certain.

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"the best 34 minutes of the week" returns


It's a pretty good Monday when you can sit around at a table, taste some awesome beer, and talk sports with a couple of guys.

That's what I did yesterday, as I had the privilege of visiting with Dave Benfield and Brian Burton of DuClaw Brewery.

Those guys know their beer -- and their sports! And those of you who know me know I'm more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, but I've found some very tasty beers over the last three months since our relationship with DuClaw started back in January.

I'm now officially a fan of "Sweet Baby Jesus", which is DuClaw's awesome porter that has chocolate and peanut butter in it! Or, at least it tastes like it does.

Check out the podcast below to hear some great stories about beer making and a cool event the DuClaw folks are hosting this Saturday, April 1st at their brewery on Yellow Brick Road in Rosedale. I'll write more about the event this week, but all the details are in the podcast below.



PODCAST



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masters preview: drew's top 12 for 2017


You know spring is officially on the way when you start seeing ads for the Masters during CBS's coverage of March Madness. The music, the yellow Masters flag, the voice of Jim Nantz. It's like therapy, only better.

They'll be teeing it up starting next Thursday, April 6, in the year's first major golf championship at Augusta National Golf Club. Dustin Johnson will enter the tournament as the favorite after his sizzling February and March, but there are others who should be considered as well.

With three career wins by the time he turned 22, Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of England's top players, a Ryder Cupper, and a potential contender at this Masters.

Through April 5, I'll be offering my Masters Top 12, ending on Wednesday the 5th with my predicted winner and a 6-player "fantasy team".

I kicked off the series yesterday with Bill Haas at #12 on the list.

Today, at #11, it's Matthew Fitzpatrick of England. Who? Yes, Matthew Fitzpatrick.

He's only 22 years old, but Fitzpatrick is fit to shine in major championship golf at some point soon. While he doesn't have much experience in majors -- he's played in just seven thus far -- he performed well last year at Augusta in just his second appearance at the Masters, shooting 71-76-74-67 for a four-day total of even par.

Fitzpatrick already owns a "semi-major" in that he won the 2013 U.S. Amateur. He also made the British Open cut as an amateur that same summer.

He's already won three times on the European tour and was part of the European Ryder Cup team that lost to the U.S. last October at Hazeltine.

This young man is going to be around for a while. He's not only one of England's best young players -- maybe the best, even -- but he's one of the top Under 23 players in the world today.

Keep your eye on him at Augusta this year.

Glory
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cardinals trying to make an impact on and off the field


After six weeks of practice, training and preparation, my Calvert Hall varsity golf team kicks off MIAA regular season play this Wednesday when we host Gilman at our home course, Country Club of Maryland. We also play McDonogh at home this week, on Thursday afternoon.

I'm in my fifth season at Calvert Hall. By far, thanks to the unseasonably warm winter, this is the most work we've been able to put in on the course leading up to the season. To go along with that, we opened our indoor training facility at 1220 East Joppa Road in late January, complete with hitting nets and launch monitor, so that, too, has been an important aid to our pre-season work.

We're excited about our chances this season.

The MIAA A-Conference includes seven teams; Calvert Hall, McDonogh, Gilman, Loyola, Archbishop Spalding, Mount Saint Joseph and the defending champion, St. Paul's. Each team plays one another twice; once at home and once on the road. The playoffs are in mid-May with the championship match taking place at Caves Valley.

For the first time in my tenure at CHC, I kept three 9th graders on the varsity roster and at least two of them will play on Wednesday in our opening match against Gilman. The conference is littered with high-quality players and future Division I golfers. No coach likes to share his inner-team-secrets, of course, but let's just say my three 9th graders are not at all out of place.

We've been working hard on the course to get ready for the season. We recently took a 4-day trip to Pinehurst, an annual pre-season journey we make every March to not only immerse ourselves in golf, but to build friendships and relationships that hopefully strengthen the bond between classmates and teammates.

We share discussions about golf, faith and fellowship. My friend Brian Hubbard, who is serving as this year's "Honorary Captain", leads our faith-based discussions as part of his relationship with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My team "gets it". Good golf is attained through hard work, dedication to improvement and maintaining a solid balance between athletics, school, family and faith.

So, while we're making great strides on the course, we're also looking for ways to make an impact off the course. We've hopefully created something that will not only benefit a local organization, but will keep you interested in our progress during the 2017 MIAA season.

"Building with Birdies" is a project that will generate funds for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger. This season, we're asking those who would like to participate to donate $2.00 for every birdie the team makes in our 12 regular season matches, along with a $25 bonus donation if we make at least 50 birdies as a team.

For reference, last season's team made 37 birdies in 12 matches. I'll confess that I believe our improved team will surpass that total this season and I think we have a reasonably good chance of producing at least 50 as well. The most birdies one of my Calvert Hall teams has made in a season is 67, by the way.

We're doing this to not only raise funds for a special organization at Kennedy Krieger, but to remind our golfers that part of their responsibility within the community is to be a servant to those in need. Each of our 13 players and their families have been asked to pledge $2.00 per-birdie and I'll be reaching out to my extended network of friends via #DMD and social media today to ask that they sign up as well.

The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger is also a special place locally because it's there where my friend Van Brooks spent some of his early days after suffering his life-changing spinal cord injury back in 2004 while playing football for Loyola High School.

Van Brooks

By the way, the $25 bonus for 50 or more birdies this season is also a nod to Brooks. "25" was his number at Loyola during his football days.

I've collaborated on a number of projects with Van over the last half dozen years or so and he continues to do inspiring work with his S.A.F.E. Alternative for Education Foundation in downtown Baltimore.

Van is a true community leader and someone very much worthy of our support.

We don't play Loyola until May, but I'll be reaching out to their head coach with hopes of developing some sort of fund-raising tie-in with our two matches that benefits Van's foundation and the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger.

In the meantime, would you please consider joining forces with Calvert Hall Golf this spring and participating in our "Building with Birdies" program?

Your donation at the end of the season will be tax-deductible, of course. We'll have a private gathering with food and drinks at Country Club of Maryland for those of you who donate that will coincide with our home match against Loyola on Tuesday, May 9th.

If you'd like to know more about the organization we're playing for this season, just go here.

To pledge your $2.00 per-birdie donation, just e-mail me at: calverthallgolfcoach@gmail.com

I'll put you on our in-season mailing list and give you periodic updates on how we're doing during the season, plus you'll receive the invitation to the private event at Country Club of Maryland on May 9th when we host Loyola in our final regular season match of 2017.

Thanks in advance to all of you who are willing to help us. Please take a minute to consider our endeavor and join in with us. I'm trying to make sure my CHC golfers understand the importance of serving the community and a significant project and fund-raiser like this one goes a long way in doing that.

Go Cards!


Monday
March 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 27
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


cardinals trying to make an impact on and off the field


After six weeks of practice, training and preparation, my Calvert Hall varsity golf team kicks off MIAA regular season play this Wednesday when we host Gilman at our home course, Country Club of Maryland. We also play McDonogh at home this week, on Thursday afternoon.

I'm in my fifth season at Calvert Hall. By far, thanks to the unseasonably warm winter, this is the most work we've been able to put in on the course leading up to the season. To go along with that, we opened our indoor training facility at 1220 East Joppa Road in late January, complete with hitting nets and launch monitor, so that, too, has been an important aid to our pre-season work.

We're excited about our chances this season.

The MIAA A-Conference includes seven teams; Calvert Hall, McDonogh, Gilman, Loyola, Archbishop Spalding, Mount Saint Joseph and the defending champion, St. Paul's. Each team plays one another twice; once at home and once on the road. The playoffs are in mid-May with the championship match taking place at Caves Valley.

For the first time in my tenure at CHC, I kept three 9th graders on the varsity roster and at least two of them will play on Wednesday in our opening match against Gilman. The conference is littered with high-quality players and future Division I golfers. No coach likes to share his inner-team-secrets, of course, but let's just say my three 9th graders are not at all out of place.

We've been working hard on the course to get ready for the season. We recently took a 4-day trip to Pinehurst, an annual pre-season journey we make every March to not only immerse ourselves in golf, but to build friendships and relationships that hopefully strengthen the bond between classmates and teammates.

We share discussions about golf, faith and fellowship. My friend Brian Hubbard, who is serving as this year's "Honorary Captain", leads our faith-based discussions as part of his relationship with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My team "gets it". Good golf is attained through hard work, dedication to improvement and maintaining a solid balance between athletics, school, family and faith.

So, while we're making great strides on the course, we're also looking for ways to make an impact off the course. We've hopefully created something that will not only benefit a local organization, but will keep you interested in our progress during the 2017 MIAA season.

"Building with Birdies" is a project that will generate funds for the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger. This season, we're asking those who would like to participate to donate $2.00 for every birdie the team makes in our 12 regular season matches, along with a $25 bonus donation if we make at least 50 birdies as a team.

For reference, last season's team made 37 birdies in 12 matches. I'll confess that I believe our improved team will surpass that total this season and I think we have a reasonably good chance of producing at least 50 as well. The most birdies one of my Calvert Hall teams has made in a season is 67, by the way.

We're doing this to not only raise funds for a special organization at Kennedy Krieger, but to remind our golfers that part of their responsibility within the community is to be a servant to those in need. Each of our 13 players and their families have been asked to pledge $2.00 per-birdie and I'll be reaching out to my extended network of friends via #DMD and social media today to ask that they sign up as well.

The International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger is also a special place locally because it's there where my friend Van Brooks spent some of his early days after suffering his life-changing spinal cord injury back in 2004 while playing football for Loyola High School.

Van Brooks

By the way, the $25 bonus for 50 or more birdies this season is also a nod to Brooks. "25" was his number at Loyola during his football days.

I've collaborated on a number of projects with Van over the last half dozen years or so and he continues to do inspiring work with his S.A.F.E. Alternative for Education Foundation in downtown Baltimore.

Van is a true community leader and someone very much worthy of our support.

We don't play Loyola until May, but I'll be reaching out to their head coach with hopes of developing some sort of fund-raising tie-in with our two matches that benefits Van's foundation and the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger.

In the meantime, would you please consider joining forces with Calvert Hall Golf this spring and participating in our "Building with Birdies" program?

Your donation at the end of the season will be tax-deductible, of course. We'll have a private gathering with food and drinks at Country Club of Maryland for those of you who donate that will coincide with our home match against Loyola on Tuesday, May 9th.

If you'd like to know more about the organization we're playing for this season, just go here.

To pledge your $2.00 per-birdie donation, just e-mail me at: calverthallgolfcoach@gmail.com

I'll put you on our in-season mailing list and give you periodic updates on how we're doing during the season, plus you'll receive the invitation to the private event at Country Club of Maryland on May 9th when we host Loyola in our final regular season match of 2017.

Thanks in advance to all of you who are willing to help us. Please take a minute to consider our endeavor and join in with us. I'm trying to make sure my CHC golfers understand the importance of serving the community and a significant project and fund-raiser like this one goes a long way in doing that.

Go Cards!

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well, no one had those four teams


It's amazing how year after year, the NCAA basketball tournament reinforces to us of one of the great adages in all of sports.

"You never know..."

As in, "you never know" who is going to win four games and wiggle their way through their end of the bracket to reach the Final Four in March Madness.

"Well, how do you like me now? We're going to our second straight Final Four...your team is watching from home."

This year, for sure, is one of those you-never-know experiences, because it's safe to say there's not a person in the entire country who had this year's Final Four in their bracket contest.

No chance.

North Carolina will be going for the 20th time after Kentucky squandered a late 5-point lead, battled back heroicly to tie the game with three late three-pointers, then watched in dismay as the Tar Heels buried the game-winner with .03 remaining in the game.

That Roy Williams and Company are headed back to the Final Four isn't a shock. They were there last year, of course, before falling to Villanova in the title game.

But the other three? No one saw that coming, at least not in totality. Gonzaga isn't a complete shock, but the Bulldogs are in unfamiliar territory despite their West Coast dominance of the last 15 years or so. It's Gonzaga's first-ever trip to the Final Four, after all.

South Carolina, who barely made it into the tournament to start with, knocked off SEC-classmate Florida yesterday to advance for the first time in school history. Rounding out the four teams left standing is Oregon, who made the Final Four 80 years ago. So they, too, are essentially a "newbie".

Year after year, we pour through statistics, previews and analysis to try and correctly predict the games and regions that lead us to the Final Four. It's nearly impossible to do accurately, as this year's event shows in high-definition.

Millions and millions of people fill out brackets. No one had this Final Four.

We'll have our #DMD March Madness Contest updated and published this Wednesday, March 29.

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masters preview: drew's top 12 for 2017


You know spring is officially on the way when you start seeing ads for the Masters during CBS's coverage of March Madness. The music, the yellow Masters flag, the voice of Jim Nantz. It's like therapy, only better.

Six straight cuts-made at the Masters bode well for Bill Haas in 2017.

They'll be teeing it up starting next Thursday, April 6, in the year's first major golf championship at Augusta National Golf Club. The only big remaining story is whether or not Tiger Woods is going to play, and my suspicion is sometime today or tomorrow, we'll hear officially from Woods' camp that he will NOT play this year while still battling a back injury that kept him sidelined for nearly all of 2016.

In the meantime, this year's event, sans Woods, still sets up to be wildly exciting. Dustin Johnson, fresh off of his win at the Match Play Championship yesterday, is clearly the tournament favorite now. Johnson hasn't won at Augusta, but he's certainly trending in the right direction, with a T6 in 2015 and a T4 last year. He's not only currently the world's #1 ranked player, but he's already won three times on TOUR in 2017.

Through April 5, I'll be offering my Masters Top 12, ending on Wednesday the 5th with my predicted winner and a 6-player "fantasy team".

#12, Bill Haas -- The Match Play semi-finalist played well last week in Austin, Texas and looks to be in good form heading into next week's first major of the season. Haas hasn't ever really contended at Augusta, but his track record there over the last six years is decent, with six consecutive cuts made and four straight Top 25 finishes. While World Golf Championship events aren't "majors", the fields in those tournaments are packed with elite players, and Haas has seven top 10 finishes in WGC events over the last seven years.

Talent wise, Haas has everything necessary to compete at Augusta, but putting is the one issue that always seems to hold him back. His length off the tee gives him ample opportunity to reach the four par 5 holes in two shots. Based on that alone, Haas starts the day at roughly 2.75 under par, and with any solid play at all, he's capable of shooting in the 60's every round.

I like the way he's trending over the last few years at Augusta and his play at the Match Play event tells me his game is in good stead right now.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

Sunday
March 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 26
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birds face tough call with mancini


This falls under that touchy category of "be careful what you wish for", but the Orioles are probably not all that upset about having to deal with it.

Trey Mancini is making quite a case for himself as spring training comes to a close and opening day looms a week away. That's the good news.

The bad news? His potential arrival in Baltimore would create a series of other moves that Buck Showalter and Company might not want to make as the team heads north.

Mancini is hitting .333 in spring training, with a .382 on-base percentage and .608 slugging percentage. Those numbers are good, obviously, but they can't help Mancini unseat the team's incumbent first baseman, Chris Davis, who is doing in spring training about what he does in the regular season (.212/.366/.455), which is to say, he's striking out a lot, not getting many hits, finding his way on base at a good rate and occasionally hitting a home run.

He's a man without a position, but can the Orioles really afford to send Trey Mancini's bat back to Norfolk to start the season?

Davis makes $23 million a year and is in the 2nd year of a 7-year contract with the Orioles. He's not going anywhere. First off, no team in the league would take him at the rate of that overinflated contract, and in (slight) defense of the overrated first baseman, he still has plenty of time left to play up to the potential of that $161 million contract he signed in January of 2016.

So, Davis is sticking, which means Mancini is, at present, a man without a position.

Buck could decide to come north with Mancini and give him the DH spot against left-handed pitchers, but that would leave the team with three right fielders -- Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith and Joey Rickard. Trumbo is having an awful spring, but he's going to be in the lineup every day once April 3rd rolls around. Smith has been bothered by a nagging injury throughout March and might very well be the early-season "odd man out" while Showalter and Dan Duquette try to come up with a better permanent plan.

Rickard, like Mancini, is raising eyebrows in Sarasota. His slash line is terrific -- .349/.517/.581 and he's one of the few guys on the team with any real speed on the basebaths. Rickard isn't a great defensive player by any means, but he's reliable enough to play right field and not cost the team runs.

Oh, wait, we have two other right field candidates, too. Michael Bourn, who was serviceable last season after coming over at the trade deadline, is still out with a hand injury, but should be ready by mid-April. He's not that great at the plate, but more than capable with the glove and, like Rickard, is one of the rare guys on the team with any legit speed.

And Craig Gentry, the erstwhile Rangers, A's and Angels outfielder, is also lurking in spring training, hitting the ball well (.311/.404./489) and showing some versatility in that he can play any outfield position.

Mancini, as you can see, doesn't have an easy path to the big league roster, no matter what he does in Sarasota.

Part of the issue, too, is in left field, where the O's are clearly going to lean on Hyun Soo Kim to do most of the work. Kim, as you'll remember from last season, is like Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League, except Cerrano couldn't hit a curve ball and Kim can't hit a left hander. That he does have a couple of hits off of lefties this spring is good to see, but I'll wait until I see he's 3-for-12 against southpaws in April before I'll get excited that maybe Kim has figured it all out.

If Kim sits against lefties, who plays in left field? That's where Gentry comes in, although his 457 career games played in eight years doesn't indicate he's capable of being anything more than a part-timer.

But a part-timer might be good enough in this case, and Gentry, it appears, has one of the coming-north roster spots locked up. At least for now, that is. Perhaps they gave Kim enough at-bats against lefties to see if he can handle it and then Gentry becomes expendable. One for sure: if Kim continues the same dismal performance against left-handers in 2017 as he did in 2016, the O's will be forced to play someone else in left field any time the team sees a southpaw.

With Gentry apparently making the team, that's one less spot available to Mancini.

I always wonder if this is finally the year the combination of talent and roster-squeeze catches up with Ryan Flaherty, but it doesn't appear like 2017 is that year. Flaherty is still valuable enough to keep around, as he can play just about anywhere in the infield and is useful for late-game speed needs on the basepaths. He's an average player who has figured it all out. If you're versatile, you have a job in the majors.

Mancini, unfortunately, isn't all that versatile.

He's a power-hitting first baseman and that's about it.

It might be fair to remind ourselves that Mancini is still more-than-very-raw when it comes to major league experience. He played in just five games last September and, while he managed to hit three home runs, there's a huge difference between having three weeks of success in September and three months of success in June, July and August.

He's had a terrific spring, yes. But it is spring training, remember. I'm probably writing that more to remind myself than to remind you, honestly.

What about trading him away? That concept has been suggested by others in town who follow the team more closely than I. While you probably wouldn't get an impact starting pitcher, you might be able to pry away a decent starting pitcher from a team in need of a good, young right handed hitting prospect.

I'm not suggesting the team trade Trey Mancini, but one way out of this dilemma is to move him if the O's feel like the swap helps them win now.

Unless he changes defensive positions or the Orioles part company with Mark Trumbo, Mancini is a man without-a-job in Baltimore. Chris Davis isn't going anywhere and neither, we assume, is Trumbo.

Without a place to play, what good is it to have Mancini around? That's why a trade, as hard as it would be to give him away, might make the most sense.

Or, simply, the O's can just send Mancini to Norfolk to start the season and leave it at that.

That's probably the easiest, cleanest thing to do, although it probably won't do anything at all for Mancini's growth as a player. He won't jake it down there, I'm sure, but he'll also play Triple A games this spring and summer knowing full well he should be flying charter and staying in the Westin instead of the Quality Inn and Suites.

Trey Mancini is ready to take on Major League pitching.

There's just no room in Baltimore for him, unfortunately.

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this, that and the other


For the first time ever, Mark Few and Gonzaga are headed to the Final Four. If you can't feel good for Coach Few -- after years of near misses -- then I don't know how much heart you really have.

Few and his Bulldogs throttled upstart Xavier last night, 83-59, earning a trip to the Final Four, where they will face the winner of today's game between South Carolina and Florida next weekend.

Gonzaga is now 36-1 on the year. They're but one loss away from having, perhaps, a historic undefeated season. That's how good they are.

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few and his Bulldogs are finally heading to a Final Four after years of near-misses. They'll face today's South Carolina-Florida winner next weekend.

Xavier simply ran out of gas last night -- and got run over by the Bulldogs. Gonzaga's up-tempo pace was too much for "X" to handle and once they're ahead and rolling, the Bulldogs don't know how to slow down. The more they score, the more they run. If you can't keep up, you get by-passed.

Few is one of the game's best stories, if you ask me. He could have left Gonzaga on a number of occasions and taken sweet, big-time Division I jobs that offered more money, better -- ahem -- "recruiting advantages" and more prestige, but he always chose to stick it out and try and make Gonzaga into a small-school basketball powerhouse.

He's done that and more -- and now, Gonzaga is one way away from playing for the NCAA title. In case you can't tell, I'm rooting for them to do it.

Oregon ended Kansas' season last night with a surprisingly-easy win over the Jayhawks, 74-60. The Ducks led 44-33 at the half and then put the game away with solid play in the opening minutes of the second half when Kansas realized their season was in jeopardy if they didn't come out flying.

It's Oregon's first trip to the Final Four in 80 years.

Most impressive for the Ducks? They beat Kansas in Kansas City, in what was essentially a home game for Bill Self's team. And they beat them. Soundly.

The Ducks will now face the winner of today's Elite Eight match-up between Kentucky and North Carolina in next weekend's Final Four.

The Washington Capitals needed a win last night to stay on top in the Eastern Conference and they got it, knocking off Arizona, 4-1.

Daniel Winnick scored twice for the Caps, who now lead the East with 106 points. Columbus, who did God's work last night with a 1-0 win over the Flyers, and Pittsburgh are now three points behind with eight games remaining for all three teams.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season -- on the power play, of course -- to give Ovi twelve consecutive years with at least 30 goals scored. Justin Williams had the other tally for the Caps, who now head out on a crucial five-game road trip that starts Tuesday night in Minnesota. The Caps will also travel to Colorado, Arizona, Columbus and Toronto on the trip.

There are four players left in the PGA Tour match-play championship, which concludes today at Austin CC in Austin, Texas. The top-ranked player in the world, Dustin Johnson, will face Hideto Tanihara in this morning's semi-final match-up. Johnson, who has yet to lose or tie a match (5-0-0), faces the unknown Tanihara, who started this event by blistering Jordan Spieth in his opening match last Wednesday. D.J. is the #1 seed in the event, Tanihara was seeded #54.

Jon Rahm (21 seed) and Bill Haas (42 seed) will face off in the other semi-final today. Rahm is challenging Johnson for the best performance thus far at the event, as he, too, has posted a 5-0-0 mark. Haas eliminated Phil Mickelson on Saturday afternoon, 2&1, in one of the more entertaining matches of the weekend thus far.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

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Saturday
March 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 25
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


"never in your lifetime, drewski"


The late Paul Kitson of the Baltimore Blast once engaged me in a conversation on a team flight from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1985. The subject was the World Cup.

At that point, the United States was a soccer country without any real representation at the international level. The 1986 World Cup would come and go without U.S. participation and there was no apparent relief on the horizon, either.

On that plane, the London-born Kitson -- one of my all-time favorite Blast players from a friendship-standpoint -- schooled me on the finer points of world soccer.

"The U.S. will never win a World Cup," I remember Kitson saying. "At least never in your lifetime, Drewski."

Kitson surmised that the United States was so far behind the rest of the world that they simply had no way of making up lost ground. "The rest of the world will get better, too," I remember him saying. "There's no way the U.S. can make it up. Not that quickly. Not in the next 60 or 80 years, anyway."

Here we are in 2017 and Kitson, thus far, has been spot-on.

Christian Pulisic (red) scored one goal and assisted on two others on Friday night as the U.S. blasted Honduras, 6-0, in World Cup qualifying action in San Jose, CA.

The U.S. has qualified for every World Cup since 1990 (with the '94 edition containing an automatic-berth since the games were held in the U.S.) but they've never really threatened to contend for a title. They snuck through to play a game outside of their own group a couple of times along the way, but no one here in America thought we were going to do anything substantial on those occasions.

Kitson might very well turn out to be right with his statement. The U.S. might not ever win a World Cup in my lifetime.

But last night in San Jose, California, for the first time in my lifetime, I saw a player on the field wearing red, white and blue who has the ability to control a game in a manner necessary to win at the international level. And win big.

If Kitson were still with us, I think he'd agree. Christian Pulisic is the first American-born soccer player we've had in this country who could -- that's could -- put this country on the map of international soccer.

Pulisic and a revived American squad routed Honduras last night, 6-0, finding their pace early on and blowing out the visitors with precision, style and finishing. Those are three traits we typically don't see from American players, particularly those playing in an offensive position.

At just 18 years of age, Pulisic was the best player on the field last night. It wasn't even close.

And it wasn't a one-game fluke, either. Pulisic was solid in the team's pre-qualifiers last summer and then again in November, albeit in two losing efforts to Mexico and Costa Rica. He continues to shine for the German team he plays for in league-play, which is one of the reasons he's improved so much over the last year. Those Germans, you know, are pretty daggone good at soccer.

His touch on the ball is something we've never seen from an American player. At least not in my lifetime. He knows how to apply perfect "weight" to his passes and believes in getting the ball from point A to point B mainly by using the ground and playing the ball into the stride of an opponent, something that requires vision, timing and the ability to see the field better than most.

He's not only able to distribute the ball, he can finish it as well, like he did last night just 20 seconds into the second half to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead.

Christian Pulisic is going to be the best player on the U.S. team for at least the next 15 years.

Sure, we need more players of his ilk to compete with the likes of Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Italy. Pulisic can't beat those teams by himself, obviously. But there are others in the pipeline who are coming soon and a few, maybe age 12 or so now, who will see Pulisic's impact and want to play alongside him someday and wear the country's colors while playing soccer.

Those guys will all stand for the national anthem, too. That's a nice little bonus, I suppose.

It won't be all apple pie and roses for Pulisic, though. First up, the Americans have to go to Panama next Tuesday night and produce a similar performance to the one they displayed last night in San Jose against Honduras. The U.S. needs a victory on Tuesday to get themselves back to level (2-2) in the 10-game qualifying schedule that will send three teams from CONCACAF to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

There's also a way the U.S. could finish 4th and advance to Russia 2018 but that would require winning a 2-game playoff in late 2017.

Pulisic will also start be marked more closely by opposing defenders. Right now, little is known about the scrawny looking kid from Hershey, Pennsylvania. He doesn't even "look the part", truth be told. But once he touches the ball, you see right away he's legit.

His body type will change over the years as he grows. That's both good and bad. He needs more size and strength, but his quickness could be diminished unless his training and nutrition remains at a world class level.

Yes, he has the makings of being a U.S. soccer superstar. But he'll have lofty expectations to meet over the next dozen-or-more years.

Last night's game also featured the return of the team's engineer, longtime U.S. performer Clint Dempsey, who was unable to play in the November losses due to an irregular heartbeat. Dempsey scored three goals, including a dazzling finish in the first half with a defender pulling him down in the penalty area. I'm not saying the U.S. lost those two games in November because Dempsey wasn't with the team, but they sure could of used him five months ago.

Honduras, it should be noted, was dreadful last night. While it's easy to bask in the glow of a 6-0 American victory, it has to at least be mentioned that the Hondurans put forth little effort once they fell behind 2-0 early on.

Trailing 3-0 after the opening 45 minutes, they surrendered a goal to Pulisic in the opening minute of the second half and then another goal to Dempsey just four minutes later.

"Disinterested" would be putting it mildly for Honduras. They were terrible on Friday night.

But that can't -- and won't -- take away from what Pulisic was able to do last night. He carved up the visitors in a way I've never before seen an American player do. It was surgical.

Paul Kitson might have been right. I don't know how many World Cups I have left to witness, personally, but the Americans still have a long way to go before they can harbor real hope of winning a world soccer championship.

Here's the deal, though. I'm not so sure I'd make that same statement -- "never in your lifetime" -- to my 9-year old son.

Not after what I saw last night and previously from Christian Pulisic.

In my son's lifetime...maybe...maybe...he will get to see a World Cup championship from the United States.

Their first real piece that's necessary to win at the world level has arrived.

It's Christian Pulisic's team now.

And we're all in great hands.

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late wisconsin gaffe paves way for florida's dramatic win


Maybe the Wisconsin Badgers were told not to foul.

Perhaps that was the strategy handed out by their coach and they were just following directions.

Or maybe they got lost in the moment and didn't realize a foul wasn't the worst thing that could have happened as Florida's Chris Chiozza drove the length of the floor with four seconds left and the Gators trailing 83-81.

The final shot last night at Madison Square Garden from Florida's Chris Chiozza. Nothing. But. Net.

Chiozza pulled up just shy of the top of the 3-point arc and buried the game-winner at the buzzer to send Florida on and send Wisconsin back to Madison.

If only the Badgers, applying effective pressure on that final trip down the court, would have been willing to take a foul there (not in the act of the 3-point shot, obviously), who knows if Chiozza would have hit both free throws to tie the game.

The only way Wisconsin could have lost on that final play was for someone in white to hit a 3-pointer on them.

It's horses-for-courses, naturally, but I think I'd take my chances that a kid wouldn't hit two foul shots with 2.4 seconds left before I want him squeezing into open space with a wide-open look at a potential season-ending three pointer if he buries it.

Who knows if the refs even call a foul near mid-court as you're hustling in there to challenge Chiozza? They like to swallow their whistle late in the game on ticky-tack calls, right? I just don't think letting him race up court, hurried and all, is the right strategy.

And, if you do foul him and he goes on to hit both foul shots with 2.4 seconds left, I still have the ball and a chance to back down court myself and try and win the game there. Or, we head to another overtime period.

Just don't hit a 3-pointer and end my season...

So, Florida moves on to face South Carolina on Sunday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

Let that sink in for a minute -- either Florida or South Carolina will be one of the last four teams standing in the tournament.

How's your bracket doing? Yeah, mine's in the trash can, too.

Elsewhere last night, the season mercifully came to an end for UCLA, who were outclassed by Kentucky, 86-75. The best part of that result? We're done hearing from that Ball kid's father.

And North Carolina raced out to an early lead over Butler and were never forced to break a sweat, as Roy Williams saw his team post a 92-80 victory that sends them up against Kentucky on Sunday.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

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Friday
March 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 24
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


this, that and the other


The veteran players on the U.S. Men's soccer team team are insisting tonight's World Cup Qualifier vs. Honduras isn't a "must win" situation, but that's only because they're clinging to the technicality that it's game three of a ten-game qualifying schedule for Russia 2018.

Let's call it like it is, really: Tonight is a must-win game for the Americans, who simply can't afford to to fall to 0-3 in the CONCACAF region.

The U.S. hosts Honduras tonight (10:30 pm EST) with a depleted line-up and several key pieces missing, but the return of Clint Dempsey should help, as he figures to link up with longtime teammate Jozy Altidore, who almost assuredly will get the start this evening with Bobby Wood out with a back injury.

The future of the U.S. Men's Soccer Team gets his chance to shine tonight when Christian Pulisic starts against Honduras in a key World Cup qualifying game in San Jose, California.

Altidore has long been a lightning rod for the American squad. There are those (this writer among them) who thinks he's been a career underachiever at the national team level, while others believe his size and strength in and around the goal makes him a threat to produce scoring chances every time the Americans enter the offensive end of the field.

Count me among those people who wishes Wood were healthy enough to play tonight. Altidore's most valuable spot is on the bench. But he'll get the starting nod this evening and needs a big performance if the U.S. are going to get past an underrated Honduras team.

18-year old Christian Pulisic will also get a start this evening as new coach Bruce Arena has little choice to stick him in there with both Jermaine Jones (suspension) and Fabian Johnson (injury) missing tonight's tilt. Pulisic has displayed some eye-opening growth as a player over the last six months or so, but make no mistake about it -- tonight's World Cup qualifier is the biggest game of his young, promising career.

When you only score one goal in two games, as the Americans did in November qualifying losses to Mexico (2-1) and Costa Rica (4-0), it seems like offense, not defense, was the main issue. But that's not exactly true with the U.S., and tonight's showdown with Honduras mandates improved backline play from both the defensive four and goalkeeper Tim Howard.

If the Americans lose tonight, they'll have H-O-R-S in the proverbial game of "Horse". They won't be eliminated with a loss, by any means, but starting 0-3 in a 10-game qualifier would be bad news.

On the flip side, a win sends them to next week's game at Panama with a great opportunity to settle themselves at 2-2 before reaching the halfway point of the schedule.

The United States has qualified for every World Cup since 1990.

Well, if the Kansas Jayhawks were trying to send a message to the remaining teams in the NCAA tournament last night, they did it. In bold print. Kansas completely dismantled Purdue, 98-66, as the Jayhawks turned a 47-40 halftime lead into a second-half blowout over Caleb Swanigan and Company.

The other three games on Thursday night were all nailbiters, but Kansas made easy work of a pretty talented Purdue team. Swanigan, the best player in the Big 10 this year by three lengths, did minimal damage on Thursday night, finishing with "only" 18 points.

"It was one of the best games we've played all year," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "The second half was about as complete as we played. We were pretty good at both ends."

In case you somehow missed it, Michigan's dream run ended with a one-point loss to Oregon, Gonzaga survived a tough battle with West Virginia and Xavier -- an 11 seed -- shocked Arizona, 73-71.

So, Kansas faces Oregon on Saturday and Gonzaga takes on Xavier, with spots in the Final Four at stake.

Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has been asked to apologize to the Puerto Rican people by St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones and St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina are involved in a post-WBC spat after Jones made comments about Puerto Rico's planned championship celebration that never materialized because...well...the American team beat them in Wednesday night's final in Los Angeles, 8-0.

Molina is overreacting, big time, on this one, but Jones will likely have to issue some sort of apology today just to keep peace among the baseball ranks and quiet the storm in advance of the upcoming regular season.

The American team apparently got their feathers ruffled when they learned that Puerto Rico had already printed up championship tee shirts and planned a celebration in Puerto Rico on Thursday. Jones told reporters after the U.S. win in the title game, "We caught wind of that and we weren't happy about it. So, we did what we had to do."

Molina and the rest of the Puerto Rican team insists the big party was planned win or lose.

It all sounds pretty benign to me, but Molina and other Puerto Rican players were outraged that Jones called them out without knowing all the facts.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina said. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people. That's why I'm sending a message to Jones, saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals. You're in spring training and you're working ... you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means."

Apologize to the Puerto Rican people for what? Getting agitated that your team had championship tee shirts printed up and a big party planned -- before you played the title game?

Jones has a long history of saying some dumb stuff or, at the very least, saying things he probably had no business saying. But this wasn't some sort of vicious attack on the country of Puerto Rico or any of the players on their team. He merely made mention that hearing about championship tee shirts and parties motivated the U.S. to some degree on Wednesday night.

It's really not that big of a deal, if you ask me.

But I'm not Puerto Rican, either.

The Orioles and Cardinals meet in Baltimore this summer. That might actually be an interesting series now.

The Washington Capitals earned a valuable pair of points on Thursday night with a 2-1 shootout win over Columbus at the Verizon Center.

Washington now leads the Eastern Conference with 104 points, followed by Pittsburgh (102) and Columbus (101). The Penguins were shootout losers on Thursday evening at Ottawa. The Flyers won on Thursday at Minnesota, but they're still losers. Funny how that works, huh?

The Caps, though, are far from a lock to win either the Metropolitan Division or the Eastern Conference. After a Saturday night home game against Arizona, Alex Ovechkin and Company head out on a huge 5-game road trip that will include stops in Toronto and Columbus.

Speaking of Ovechkin, he still has just 16 even-strength goals in 73 regular season games to date. I'm hoping he's pacing himself for the playoffs in April and May. And, June, maybe?

Ehhh, probably not June.

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today might be your lucky day if you ever wanted to go to the masters


I know it's short notice, but that's how these things work sometimes.

I have space for two people on our Masters trip this April 3-4, as 20 of us head to Augusta National for a Tuesday practice round at The Masters.

If you and a friend are interested in the two spots, I need to hear from you today. If multiple people inquire, I'll go with the person who contacts me first.

The trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI (leaving Monday, April 3rd at 8:30 am and returning on Tuesday night, April 4th at 9:00 pm), one night's hotel stay, ground transportation to/from the golf course and a full-day practice round pass on Tuesday, April 4.

If you're a golfer and you've never stepped foot on the sacred grounds of Augusta National, this is your chance.

Email me today: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


koepka, mickelson, bubba among those shining at match play event


Brooks Koepka has played two matches thus far in the Match Play Championship event in Austin, Texas and he still hasn't seen the 14th tee in either of those outings.

Koepka won 6&5 for the second straight day (for those unfamiliar with it, 6&5 means you are six holes ahead with only five to play...thus, the match is over) on Thursday, routing Jason Dufner by the same score that he needed to beat Kevin Kisner in Wednesday's opening match.

Two matches into the tournament and Brooks Koepka has only played a total of 26 holes in winning twice by the same score of 6&5, defeating Jason Dufner and Kevin Kisner.

When a professional golfer beats another professional 6&5, that's a throttling. Let's say it's akin to winning a 5-set tennis match, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

Koepka might get slowed down a bit today, though, as he takes on fellow American Patrick Reed.

Phil Mickelson is sure looking like a guy who is going to be a threat in two weeks at the Masters. Mickelson won again on Thursday as well and is now 2-0 in the 3-match opening round of the event. Phil is through to the round of 16 no matter what happens today in his match with J.B. Holmes.

Pounds-shedding Bubba Watson -- or as they're calling him out there now, "Skinny" -- has to beat Thomas Pieters today to guarantee that he's through to the next round, but Watson has been very impressive in two wins thus far, including yesterday's 4&3 over Scott Piercy.

Watson, like Mickelson, is tuning up for the Masters, where he's won twice before (2012 and 2014).

Others who are 2-0 thus far in the event include #1 player in the world Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel, Tyrell Hatton, Jon Rahm, Paul Casey and Alex Noren.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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


As we mercifully creep closer and closer to Opening Day, the story turning Baltimore baseball on its tail these days is Ken Rosenthal's deep dive on Brady Anderson's, um, unique role within the organization.

The article has it all: On the record quotes from all of the interested parties, including the heavy hitters Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette, forceful and damning accusations, and the strong implication that some sort of nefarious conspiracy is amiss.

And yet, for all of that smoke, can anyone actually point me to the fire?

Not that that's Rosenthal's fault. The story is meticulously reported and sourced, but as is often the case with these investigative efforts, people read them and then rush to spin them into new stories based on parts of the information provided. And because Rosenthal is so thorough in providing a platform for everyone to tell their version of the story, there's plenty of evidence with which to make whatever argument you want with the facts provided.

Until Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette are leaving the team over Brady Anderson's role with the Orioles, #DMD's Brien Jackson says he's not worried about the former centerfielder's position with the organization.

Here's what I got as indisputable truths from the story: Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti quit their jobs as pitching and bullpen coaches in not-so-small part because they chafed at Anderson's actions in his jack-of-all-trades role.

But also, everyone agrees that Anderson has made a tremendously positive impact on the organization through his training and nutritional programs, and has a knack for connecting with young players. The main source of friction between Anderson and the two pitching coaches, according to Rosenthal, was Mike Wright. Wallace and Chiti tried to alter Wright's delivery, Wright wasn't happy with the changes, and Anderson took "Wright's side" and worked with him over an offseason unbeknownst to the coaching staff.

Though it's not in Rosenthal's article, here's two other things I can tell you with absolute certainty: If I replace Wright and Wallace in that story with Jake Arrieta and Rick Adair, everyone on the planet agrees it's an example of how too many pitching coaches think they know it all and won't listen to the pitchers talk about what does and doesn't feel right to them. And if you replace Brady Anderson with Cal Ripken Jr. every fan in this city says "good riddance" to the coaches who think they know baseball more than the former player turned organizational guru.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not taking Anderson's "side" here by any means.

To be sure, it's deeply weird and inappropriate that he maintains a locker in the team clubhouse, and if I was a player I'd be really upset and put off at the idea of having a front office guy with that sort of presence day in and day out.

Someone should put a stop to that right away.

And the notion that lines of authority in terms of who Anderson reports to aren't at all clearly defined seems like a problem in the making, but another way of phrasing that is that it hasn't been a problem yet. To wit, Duquette comes across as someone who wasn't at all unhappy to see Wallace and Chiti go in this article, and there's at least one story about Showalter counseling Anderson on how he should interact with the coaching staff and Anderson heading his advice.

So, one reading of the situation is that Anderson's role is vaguely defined because it's being fleshed out as everyone goes along, and there haven't been a lot of conflicts between him and Buck/Duquette so far.

But that's not how any story like this gets read when it comes from "the Warehouse" instead of "the Castle."

Despite their run of recent success, tracked neatly with the tenure of the current general manager, it seems that there's a huge portion of the local fanbase who still wants some sort of intensely negative story with which to slag on the Orioles organization and, particularly, the owner for.

On some level I get that. People really don't like Peter Angelos, and a few years of plus-.500 baseball doesn't change that. And I've got no real brief for the owner who, by most accounts, is not a very personable person and doesn't have much of a head for running a baseball team.

On the other hand, the desire to slag on seemingly everything the Orioles do no matter how often they remain above .500 and in playoff contention is getting deeply weird, especially when everyone refuses to retroactively admit that the Orioles were right and fans/commentators were incredibly wrong about a controversy. The apex of this has to be trading away former closer Jim Johnson in a pure salary dump.

It's easy enough to understand; Johnson had over 100 saves in 2012-13, more than anyone in baseball, and everyone knew Angelos was a skinflint who just didn't want to pay good players to stick around, right? Well Johnson was awful from the get-go in Oakland, ended up being DFA'd as one of the absolute worst relievers in baseball, and by the end of the season the Orioles had an A.L. East crown, an ALCS appearance, and Zach Britton closing games for them.

How many local columnists have written columns eating their words about how absurd it was that the Orioles would trade away Johnson for a bag of balls? Or slagging on the team for backing out of deals with Grant Balfour and Yovani Gallardo over problematic medical reports?

Are the Orioles similarly ahead of the curve in regards to what Brady Anderson is doing for the club? Probably not, but the situation is almost certainly not as bleak as the loudest detractors would like to make it out to be.

For one thing, Wallace and Chiti are not exactly the most personable men in baseball. Chiti, in particular, is known for being rather gruff and Wallace has had six different stints with five different teams since 1995, with only one lasting for more than three years. Perhaps most notably, he got along with Bobby Valentine so poorly he left the Mets after a pennant winning season in 2000.

And in any case we're just talking about the bullpen coach and the hitting coach which, with a few exceptions you can literally count on one hand, are completely interchangeable. If the borderline Hall of Fame manager or the general manager who has built contenders in three separate franchises starts threatening to quit because of Anderson I'll change my opinion, but so far there's no indication that's even close to happening.

But most of all, it's important to remember that the Orioles have won a lot of baseball games over the past five seasons. Comparisons to the dysfunction of teams like the Browns or Redskins are ridiculous: We mock those teams bizarre internal dynamics because they lose a lot and we extrapolate that the losing is proof that the internal dynamics are bizarre and ridiculous.

But the Orioles aren't losing like the Browns; they've won more games than any other American League team since 2012! Something the current regime is doing is working, and it's about high time everyone acknowledge as much, even if it means admitting that, bad as he may be, Peter Angelos isn't actually a reverse-Midas.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

Thursday
March 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 23
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


that ucla kid's dad is a clown -- and that's both a fact and an opinion


FACT: -- Team USA captured the World Baseball Classic title last night with an 8-0 snoozer-of-a-win over Puerto Rico.

OPINION: -- I'll sound like an entitled Patriots fan now, but of course the U.S. won the championship. It's baseball. We're supposed to win. We do it better than everyone else. If our entire roster of outstanding American players would have actually played, the outcome wouldn't have ever been in question anyway. Our "B" team could probably reach the Finals, too.

FACT: -- With the loss of Kamar Aiken to the Indianapolis Colts (a nice fit for him, by the way), the Ravens now have Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace returning next year as incumbent, competent wide receivers for Joe Flacco to utilize. And that's it right now.

At this point, Mike Wallace is the most experienced, accomplished receiver on the Ravens' roster heading into the 2017 campaign. Saving up for those playoff tickets yet?

OPINION: -- The Ravens are clearly going to be taking two or more receivers in the upcoming NFL draft. They failed to pursue (or at the least, failed to get) any of the top free agent pass catchers earlier this month and have a bare cupboard when it comes to pass catchers who are worth a hoot. I'm not sure what the game-plan is for the receiving corps, but I sure hope the Ravens have one. And I sure do hope it works. If not, they better be able to defend like the dickens in 2017.

FACT: -- Russell Westbrook had a perfect night on Wednesday in Oklahoma City's win over Philadelphia, as he became the first NBA to ever produce a "perfect" triple-double. Westbrook went 6-for-6 from both the floor and the foul line for 18 total points, then chipped in 11 rebounds and 14 assists for his 35th triple-double of the season. He's now six triple-doubles shy of tying Oscar Robertson's single-season mark of 41.

OPINION: -- Westbrook is the NBA's version of Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals. He's a great player who hasn't ever won anything. "Winning", of course, is considered by some to be nothing more than an intangible almost. I mean, Trent Dilfer "won" a title as a NFL quarterback and we all know he couldn't play a lick. And, occasionally, a truly great player goes his whole career without a championship. Dan Marino (football) and Colin Montgomerie (golf) come to mind right away, along with the aforementioned Ovechkin, who hasn't even reached the Finals in his distinguished NHL career. Westbrook is just like Ovi. A wonderfully talented player who can't get his team over the top. At least not yet, anyway.

FACT: -- I refuse to use his name, but that "Ball guy" who has been running his mouth about LeBron James this week is a complete menace. Wait, that's an opinion.

OPINION: That "Ball guy" who is doing his best to ruin the college careers of his sons (one is at UCLA now) is a complete menace. Why on earth anyone gives him air time is beyond me. His kid is a nice player, granted. The younger one apparently is, as well. But in the entire scope of everything, they've done NOTHING yet to warrant the attention that's been given to them. Their father, of course, is generating a lot of it for them, but his act is so easy to read through it's not even funny. Stop giving him the attention he wants and he's gone.

FACT: -- The Caps are in a real dogfight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 10 games remaining in the regular season. Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus have now played 72 games each, and the Caps have 102 points, the Penguins have 101 and the surging Blue Jackets now have 100. And Columbus is in DC tonight for a huge showdown with Barry Trotz's team.

OPINION: -- It's never too early to start looking at potential playoff match-ups, but there's just no way of knowing who might oppose the Caps in the first round of the post-season next month. Boston has the 8th spot right now, so a Caps-Bruins series looms if Washington finishes 1st and Boston stays at #8. Toronto and Ottawa are also realistic playoff opponents for Washington. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Philadelphia are among the scrubs who are just about out of it with 10 games remaining. On the night the Flyers are officially eliminated from the post-season, thousands of angels in heaven will be presented with their wings. That's always one of the best nights of the year, when the folks at NHL.com put that "z" next to the Flyers in the standings: z -- eliminated from playoffs.

FACT: -- Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth both lost their first round matches on Wednesday in the PGA Tour's Match Play Championship event in Austin, Texas.

OPINION: Two guys you've never heard of beat McIlroy and Spieth. Rory lost to Soren Kjeldsen and Spieth was defeated by some guy named Hideto Tanihara. McIlroy actually played well in his match with Kjeldsen (five birdies) while Spieth (two over par for 16 holes) stunk it up against Tanihara. Oddly enough, McIlroy would have been victorious over Tanihara had they faced one another yesterday (assuming, of course, they both duplicated the play they produced in their matches on Wednesday).

FACT: -- Trey Mancini (.319/.373/.553) is having a really nice spring for the Orioles.

OPINION: -- Someone in orange might have to step in one of those famous Sarasota potholes early next week. One of the Rule 5 guys, perhaps? Joey Rickard would be a pothole-candidate, but he's having a terrific spring as well. Rickard is probably going to get hurt at some point before June anyway, so that might be wind up being Mancini's opening. If Showalter does decide to keep Mancini, Buck and Dan Duquette are going to have to come up with something very creative in order to squeeze him into the 25-man opening day roster. Even coming north with 12 pitchers might not be the solution, especially when one of those is Ubaldo Jimenez. You're actually coming north with 11.25 pitchers.

FACT: -- I know it doesn't matter for much of anything, but the Yankees (19-7) have the best record in spring training.

OPINION: -- I still can't figure out if we should be concerned about the Bronx Bombers in 2017 or not. I don't see how they can win half their games with that ragged starting pitching they have, but stranger things have happened. And, much like our manager here in Baltimore who sometimes gets a lot out of nothing, Joe Girardi is worth a half dozen or so wins a year all by himself. I think New York is still a year or two away -- but once they get either Machado or Harper, they're probably going to start their climb back to the top of the A.L. East.

FACT: -- The international rule for extra-innings was used in the WBC, which puts a runner on first and second to start the 11th inning.

OPINION: -- Why not save everyone 45 minutes and just bring a deck of cards out to home plate to start the 11th inning and have each manager draw one? High card wins. Starting an inning like that is stupid, particularly when it's only the 11th inning. I can understand wanting to do something different (runner on first, maybe?) if the game gets to, say, the 15th or 16th inning. But Major League Baseball is apparently considering adopting that dumb international rule for regular season MLB games. Idiotic, if you ask me.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


There’s a difference between equality and equity.

Relatedly, there’s a difference between being treated equally and being treated equitably.

Often, there’s a difference between how hard you work and how much you are worth.

The point is, there’s a difference between the U.S men’s national hockey team and the U.S. women’s hockey national team.

The United States women’s hockey national team announced last week that it plans to boycott the upcoming IIHF World Championships, set to begin next Friday on home ice, in Michigan. The players say that there has been no progress made with USA Hockey, the governing body of the “amateur” sport in our country, in negotiations for fair wages and equitable support from the organization.

You can read the press release crafted by the players’ lawyers here. You can read the (disputed) response by USA Hockey here.

You can take either side you’d like, or you can look at it from every side. I’ll give you a minute…

Great. You’re back.

I won’t rehash everything you just read. I’ll just talk about fair wages and equitable support, and what they mean in this particular situation.

The biggest problem that USA Hockey has when it comes to fair wages and the national teams is that there isn’t any need to pay a wage to the members of the men’s national team. It’s a fundamental problem. Both boys and girls, men and women, are expected to play for “the love of the game.”

Until a certain point, of course, when a talented male player can start dreaming of playing professionally, and a talented female player has to keep playing for the love of the game.

Take Patrick Kane, Buffalo native and stud right winger for the Chicago Blackhawks, a member of the 2010 and 2014 U.S. Olympic teams and the 2016 World Championship team. Last season, he was the MVP of the NHL and the league’s leading scorer. He’s won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.

In 2014, he signed an 8-year, $84 million contract.

I don’t know every player on that 2016 U.S. team, but even a rookie NHL player makes a minimum salary of more than $500,000 a season.

Being on the national team may be a great honor to all of them, but it will never be their job. It’s the nature of the opportunities they’ve been afforded as some of the best male players in the world, opportunities that don’t exist for female players.

So USA Hockey doesn’t have to treat male players as employees. Should it treat female players as employees? The players say yes, since they are essentially full-time players in residence during Olympic years, and are expected to train like full-time players during other years.

There seems to be some dispute about the exact amount of compensation, and a somewhat semantic issue about how much of it comes from USA Hockey and how much of it comes from the United States Olympic Committee. But this is their job, and they want to be legitimately paid for it.

But where is this money coming from? Where is the revenue being generated in order to make this compensation possible? I don’t know the exact answer, but I do know that it’s not coming from women’s hockey.

When it comes to the sport of hockey, men and women aren’t equals. Women don’t have the same status. The upcoming World Championship is being played in a 3,500-seat arena in the Detroit suburbs, a building that’s owned by USA Hockey itself. It’s unlikely the arena will be full when the U.S. team isn’t playing, or maybe even when the U.S. team is playing anyone except the rival Canadians.

It’s a total shame, of course. The women’s hockey national team is much more of a “team” than the men’s national team. Their role as national team players is a primary focus, and sacrifice, of their lives. Unlike Kane or Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, the accolades and publicity they receive come almost entirely from being national team players.

At this point, though, they’re just being paid what they are worth, as hockey players, not as people.

Equitable support, on the other hand, is a much more important goal. If USA Hockey is really doing as poorly with that as the current players suggest, then it’s certainly time for new leadership and a new agenda. And it’s the best way to show these athletes what they are worth as people, because it’s easier to believe that you’re being treated equally if you’re being treated equitably.

USA Hockey should make every effort to create the exact same programs and playing opportunities on the youth level for women and girls as they do for men and boys. The fact that the current end goal for a boy is the NHL and for a girl a fledgling Northeast professional league with a $5,000 salary minimum is completely immaterial to that.

The time has long since passed where we put our efforts into competitive youth sports for boys and tell girls they should be cheerleaders.

Equitable treatment also means that both the men’s and women’s teams should have the same access to quality coaching, athletic training, nutrition, and facilities. It means they should have the same marketing and public relations support behind them. It should mean the same amount of behind-the-scenes professionalism, no matter how many fans are expected to watch the game in person or on television.

We’ve accomplished this in college athletics, for the most part, but not without resentment. There are more than a few college coaches who wonder why some of the revenue and/or fundraising dollars from their programs are being funneled to another program so they also can have an airplane charter. And there are more than a few coaches who spend too much of their time keeping score, making sure they have exactly what somebody else has.

I don’t think the members of the USA Women’s Hockey team are keeping score. I think they are pros, who’d like to be treated like pros by the people who use their services, with an additional goal of showing young people that they can be pros someday too.

For that, I commend them, and I hope they can work out a deal that puts them back on the ice.

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a note from a friend, re: duke


Drew — For the elucidation of your Facebook friend, the hatred of Duke is not simply a 'Maryland thing,' it is a nationwide and international phenomenon that percolates through all layers of all societies. This hatred runs deep in many people, regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin. It is a deeply held and altogether fitting and proper emotion held by men, women, and those in transition.

Family obligations sometimes require that I attend UNC academic functions, soirées at which I am markedly out of place. Conversations are so far above my head that I spend most of my time talking with bartenders and waitresses. I do recall, however, a discussion some years back with an elderly professor who held so many degrees her students called her the Heat Wave. In her aristocratic and elegant manner, she was explaining to me the mental deficiencies of a referee who had missed a critical call, allowing Duke to luck into an early-season victory over UNC. When she then went on to catalogue some of Coach Krzyzewski's many deficiencies, I nearly choked on my petit four when she casually referred to him as Rat Face.

In 2015 Aziz Sancar, a professor at UNC, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Tomas Lindahl of Sweden and Paul Modrich, a professor at Duke. Dr. Sancar was born and raised in Turkey. He has studied, taught, and practiced medicine around the world. He has lived in Paris, in Baltimore, and in Dallas before settling in Chapel Hill. The day of his award, he spoke to assembled colleagues, administrators, and friends. Note that his expression doesn't change in the slightest as he mentions the universally-held emotion:



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caps playoff bus trip...anyone?


This one requires a pretty quick decision and turn-around on your part, but #DMD is putting together a bus trip for the Caps first home playoff game, which is going to either be Wednesday, April 19 or Thursday, April 20 at the Verizon Center.

Game time is expected to be 7 pm.

The full schedule won't be released until the weekend of April 15, but we're told it's either Wednesday or Thursday of the following week for Game #1. The Caps' opponent is still to be determined.

See T.J. Oshie and the Caps in Game 1 of this year's NHL playoffs, as the #DMD hockey bus moves into high gear, brought to you by Glory Days Grill and DuClaw Beer.

Here's what our package includes:

Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation to/from Baltimore.

A pre-departure "happy hour" with complimentary food and beverages at Glory Days Grill in Towson, starting at 3:30 pm (we'll depart for the game at 4:30 pm).

More snacks and ice cold DuClaw Beer on the ride down to D.C., plus a Caps trivia contest and a $50 Glory Days Gift Card to the winner!

Upper level ticket with our entire group sitting together.

Pre-game and in-game private lounge access with complimentary food menu, beer, wine, soda and water throughout the game (until the start of the 3rd period).

We'll return to Baltimore promptly after the game and hope to have you back at Glory Days by 11 pm or so.

The per-person price is $220 and this includes our standard $5 per-person driver gratuity.

If you're interested in seats on the bus, I really need to hear from you TODAY or TOMORROW at the latest. Please e-mail me directly: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Wednesday
March 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 22
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i can explain the whole "duke thing"


I'm going to try and make sense of this today while admitting the whole issue with Duke basketball isn't quite in my wheelhouse.

But I think I know enough to navigate it all pretty well.

I'm not really a Duke hater, hence the "not in my wheelhouse" comment above. I'm not pro-Duke, either. Not in the least. They just don't ring my bell the way most people around here let Duke get under their skin.

So, a friend of mine on Facebook offered a lengthy post on Monday in the aftermath of Duke's loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament.

He asked, simply, "When are you 'Maryland people' going to let go of the hate-for-Duke thing?" After all, he surmised, Duke and Maryland aren't even "rivals" anymore and, truthfully, they sorta-kinda never were. Duke's rival was and still is, of course, North Carolina. Maryland's rival was Duke.

When Luke Kennard is suffering, lots of others around the country are rejoicing.

I agree with the latter part of his statement. Duke cared a whole lot about beating UNC and cared "a little" about beating the likes of Maryland, Virginia, Clemson, etc. Maryland cared a lot about beating Duke. That's true.

I didn't chime in on his Facebook page to add my two cents, but I have the answer he was seeking. He won't like it, either.

It's not just "Maryland people" who like seeing Duke lose.

Everyone in America who isn't a Duke fan likes seeing Duke lose.

It's the same exact scenario that exists in football with the Patriots, in baseball with the Red Sox and Yankees, and in hockey with the Flyers.

OK, I made up the part about the Flyers in hockey -- who lost last night in Winnipeg, I'd like to add, 3-2. A lot of people do take great joy in having the Flyers lose, but they aren't in the same category as the Patriots, Red Sox, Yankees, Duke, etc. Except in my world.

Anyway...back on track now.

In all of my years involved in sports, both while working in it (1981-1998), playing it (1970-now) and living it, there was always nothing more aggravating to watch or personally encounter than someone who, you could tell, assumed they were going to win before the game started.

In some ways, that's what makes them a champion in the first place. But that doesn't mean we have to like it.

And what happens when you "expect" to win is that eventually, after years of having that theme embedded in your brain, you cross-over to believing that you "deserve" to win.

That's been my experience in sports.

There's a fine line there. As a coach, you want your players to believe they're going to win. But when they start to feel like they deserve to win or are more "entitled" to win than the other team, that's when problems pop up.

That's when people turn against them.

Some of the dislike of Duke in these parts, just like the Red Sox and Yankees, has to do with their fan base, who have a hard time being humble in the wake of the Blue Devils' successes.

That's one where I tend to soft-peddle my way around the disdain.

I have great friends who are Duke fans, Red Sox fans, Steelers fans, etc. Do they celebrate when their teams win? Absolutely. Are they occasionally "over the top" in their fandom and their "we're the best" celebrating of title-after-title? Yes indeed, they are.

But don't kid yourself. If the Ravens suddenly won 3 titles in 4 years or the Orioles won a World Series in 2017, 2019 and 2021, we'd be behaving exactly the same way in Baltimore. You can shake your head "no" all you want, but you're just denying to deny at this point.

Our fan base here would be just as a beligerant and offensive as those folks are in Boston when the Patriots win every year.

If Maryland basketball won as many NCAA titles as Duke has, Terps-nation would be intolerable as well.

Did you catch Gary Williams' act in the old days? Great coach, don't get me wrong. One of the best of the last 25 years, if you ask me. But he was a whiny, gyrating, screaming mess when the lights were on and the big games came around.

The whole country would have disliked him the same way most people dislike Coach K had they seen his whole skit play out time and time again if Maryland would have won three or four titles instead of just that lonely one they did manage to win in Atlanta.

Coach K is a whiner. That much, definitely, is true.

You know who else is a whiner? Bob Huggins.

So is Rick Pitino.

Worse than those three? Jim Boheim. He might as well patent a costume and wear it. Every call, every decision, every thing goes against him and him only. It's laughable.

There are others, too, who specialize in whining.

Coach K gets the most wrath, though, because it's Duke. Those kids might as well wear "Entitled" on the back of their game jersey instead of their name.

Part of that is college athletics in general. When you're one of the chosen ones, whether it's football at Alabama, basketball at Duke or lacrosse at Hopkins, that tells you in and of itself that you're the best of the best. Keeping the ego of an 18-year old in check who is heading to Duke to play for Coach K is a pretty hard thing to do.

I understand why people dislike Grayson Allen. But I'll continue to say about him what I said earlier in the year when I wrote a piece in the wake of his "tripping" suspension.

If Allen played for Ole Miss or Western Kentucky or Creighton, you wouldn't care one iota about that kid.

But because he plays for Duke and behaves like that, his crimes worsen.

By the way, I'd take that kid on my team any day of the week. I would like to harness his "enthusiasm" a little bit, obviously, but as a player, I'd have no issues at all taking him.

So, my Facebook friend, we're going to go on laughing at Duke when they lose because, as Morrissey once sang, "We hate it when our friends become successful". We can't stand to see anyone having success that we otherwise thought, perhaps, we might achieve ourselves.

And the same goes for the Patriots, Steelers, Red Sox, Yankees and so on.

If anyone in the country really cared about women's college basketball, we'd all have the same general disdain for UConn, since they clearly expect, know and believe they're winning every single game.

We laugh at those programs and teams when they lose because we know how shocked THEY are that they lost.

And when they can't believe it, and they're suffering, it's then us who becomes happy.

It's not a healthy way to look at things, but it's the way we've been conditioned.

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match play golf event isn't a major, but it probably should be


Maybe I'm just saying stuff to say it, but this week's Match Play Championship on the PGA Tour should be a major.

It won't be, of course. Never. But it should be.

In exactly the same format as the NCAA hoops tournament, 64 players tee-it up today in Austin, Texas, trying to work their way through their 4-man group and advance to the next round. Each player faces another in his group once, and the player with the most points (1 point for a win, a half-point for a tie) then advances to the next round.

Once they get out of that first "round" of three matches, it's single elimination until a winner is determined on Sunday.

Match play in golf is much different than traditional stroke play we see virtually every weekend on TV. In match play, for those that don't know, you're competing to win each hole you play, against the other player. If I make a "4" on the hole and you make a "5", I win that hole and we move on to the next one, with me now 1-up in the match. If on the next hole, you make "4" and I make "5", we're now back to tied in the match.

Match play tends to reward players who make a lot of birdies, particularly at the PGA Tour level of play.

You can go here to see the full bracket for the tournament.

Here's a quick rundown of how I see the brackets playing out and who eventually comes out on top late Sunday afternoon in Texas.

On the left side, I like four players; Dustin Johnson, Jason Dufner, Thomas Pieters and Louis Oosthuizen. Johnson, right now, is playing as well as anyone in the world, and his length and accuracy off the tee should make him an easy choice to advance to at least the quarterfinals or semi-finals in this event.

Dufner is sneaky in that he's grouped with three other big boys (Reed, Koepka and Kisner) and might very well just be the guy who plods along, wins a match or two, and escapes from that "group of death".

A break-out star for Europe at last year's Ryder Cup, Thomas Pieters needs a big win to kick-start his PGA Tour career. Could he get it this week at the Match Play Championship?

Pieters is the long-hitting, sweet-putting Belgian who was so impressive in last October's Ryder Cup. He's a little less experienced than the rest I've mentioned, but offers a lot of quality nonetheless.

Oosthuizen, when healthy, is one of the most underrated players in the world. He'll be on my "watch list" at Augusta in two weeks as well.

On the right side of the bracket, I like J.B. Holmes, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Chris Wood and Marc Leishman. Holmes is very close, I believe, to having a break out year, where he wins a significant event or three, including a major. This one would be a nice feather in his cap. He's long off the tee, a solid iron player and a streaky-good putter.

Cabrera-Bello is another European we were impressed with at the Ryder Cup last year and another in the long line of Spaniards who could don a green jacket someday. As we saw at the Ryder Cup, match play fits perfectly in his arsenal. He drives it a mile and can putt the lights out of it.

Wood is an Englishman who isn't all that well known in these parts but he's worthy of consideration in an event like this, where his length off the tee keeps him in every hole, even if his driver, which does occasionally betray him, doesn't cooperate at all times this week/weekend.

Leishman just won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday and comes in on quite a hot streak. He's a good pick to continue on his roll in Austin.

My final four: Dufner, Pieters, Cabrera-Bello and Holmes.

Champion: I'm going to take the little-known Thomas Pieters to break out with his first PGA Tour victory and beat J.B. Holmes in Sunday's final, 3&2.

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caps playoff bus trip...anyone?


This one requires a pretty quick decision and turn-around on your part, but #DMD is putting together a bus trip for the Caps first home playoff game, which is going to either be Wednesday, April 19 or Thursday, April 20 at the Verizon Center.

Game time is expected to be 7 pm.

The full schedule won't be released until the weekend of April 15, but we're told it's either Wednesday or Thursday of the following week for Game #1. The Caps' opponent is still to be determined.

See T.J. Oshie and the Caps in Game 1 of this year's NHL playoffs, as the #DMD hockey bus moves into high gear, brought to you by Glory Days Grill and DuClaw Beer.

Here's what our package includes:

Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation to/from Baltimore.

A pre-departure "happy hour" with complimentary food and beverages at Glory Days Grill in Towson, starting at 3:30 pm (we'll depart for the game at 4:30 pm).

More snacks and ice cold DuClaw Beer on the ride down to D.C., plus a Caps trivia contest and a $50 Glory Days Gift Card to the winner!

Upper level ticket with our entire group sitting together.

Pre-game and in-game private lounge access with complimentary food menu, beer, wine, soda and water throughout the game (until the start of the 3rd period).

We'll return to Baltimore promptly after the game and hope to have you back at Glory Days by 11 pm or so.

The per-person price is $220 and this includes our standard $5 per-person driver gratuity.

If you're interested in seats on the bus, I really need to hear from you TODAY or TOMORROW at the latest. Please e-mail me directly: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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Tuesday
March 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 21
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keep your eyes on the bubbling brady anderson story in baltimore


This was inevitable, but if I'm being honest, it's even more juicy of a story than perhaps I realized.

Ken Rosenthal, the best baseball writer -- in my opinion -- in America, has finally put the Brady Anderson-story out there as the spring training schedule rolls on and the games all start to run together.

This one should have the Orioles locker room ripe with chatter today down in Sarasota when the O's take on the Blue Jays.

And Anderson, I'm sure, isn't going to be all that pleased with what he reads.

Former Orioles centerfielder Brady Anderson has a role within the Orioles front office that is largely unseen anywhere else in baseball. He has, basically, free reign to do just about whatever he wants.

I first heard whispers of this late last season when an associate with the team mentioned "a few coaches might be leaving soon and Brady will be involved." Not really covering the team anymore and, still of the mindset that baseball already has too many coaches in the first place, I didn't give the tip much mind.

As long as Buck Showalter wasn't leaving, who cares? That's what I figured.

It turns out the two who did leave were pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti. Both were admired and respected by the players, although Chiti's personality borders on -- I'm being kind here -- "gruff" most days.

And now, through Rosenthal's story that you can read here, we're learning more about some internal resentment for Brady Anderson, a by-product of what appears to be a large order of unchecked authority and autonomy and a strange, almost unheard of level of audacity from the former O's outfielder.

To wit, Anderson spent a lot of last off-season working with pitcher Mike Wright and substantially changing Wright's delivery from what he had been taught by both Wallace and Chiti. Brady apparently did that without anyone's knowledge in the organization, a major blunder in and of itself, but one made more significant when you consider he did so without the permission of the two people who were, effectively, Wright's "superiors".

It's all part of an odd, ever-growing role for Brady in Baltimore, who was hired by Peter Angelos during the waning days of the Andy MacPhail era.

When Dan Duquette came along, so, too, did Anderson.

Having someone like Brady Anderson involved with the Orioles is a good idea. I don't think anyone specifically disputes that claim.

His real specialty appears to be in the training/nutrition area, but over time he's branched out into other areas of critical importance to the organization, including player contracts and on-field instruction and improvement.

But having Brady Anderson fill a "front office position" -- which, technically, he does -- and then mixing that with serious, impactful coaching and teaching to players on the team, is a dangerous slope to navigate.

The Orioles, or more specifically, Peter Angelos, don't seem to be all that worried about it.

Some players (Wieters) and coaches (Wallace and Chiti), though, do seem concerned. A couple of them were concerned enough to leave over it, apparently.

The Rosenthal story will lay out all the claims and criticisms in chapter and verse, so I don't need to do that here. No one in the country does it better than Ken Rosenthal, that's for sure.

But those of us in Baltimore who have had "passing" involvement with the Orioles -- as I did, from roughly 2002 through 2014 -- know all too well about these kind of stories.

These, and lots of others over time, are reports that typically make the rounds in Baltimore when it comes to baseball.

When you read Rosenthal's piece, it looks, quite honestly, like something you might very well read about the Cleveland Browns during the NFL season. It reeks of dysfunction, or, perhaps even better, just plain old organizational negligence.

The Browns, as we know, own the sports-patent on "organizational negligence".

Thankfully, under Buck Showalter, the Birds have regained their footing in the American League after 14 years of dismal on-field play and a decade of losing fans and support in Baltimore.

But things still aren't completely copacetic at The Warehouse, and Anderson's role with the team appears to be a significant point of contention.

I'm sure Adam Jones will be thrilled today when he reads the article and sees Brady took a moment to single-out Jones and his "relationship" with Peter Angelos. If the Jones-Brady relationship wasn't strained before today, it will be by 5 o'lock this evening.

The Orioles will navigate their way through this because Buck Showalter won't allow it to be a distraction. As long as Anderson himself, in reaction to Rosenthal's piece, doesn't say anything to fan the flames, this will be a non-story in five days time.

But Brady's role, if it continues to evolve, will still be an issue within the framework of the organization. It just requires too much transparency and balance to pull off correctly, I believe.

And, for anyone at all who has ever had a sliver of real-life interaction with the Orioles organization since 1993, "transparency and balance" are not two words that often run together when you're dealing with Baltimore's baseball franchise.

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nba and espn want to tell teams which players to play and when


Last Saturday night, the Clevelnad Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers played in Southern California and the game was part of ABC's big Saturday prime time package with the NBA.

It was a marquee game, for sure. Or, it was right up until LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving all sat out to "rest" and the defending champs got blown out by the Clippers, 108-78.

In the aftermath, memos and e-mails have flooded the in-boxes of league owners, GM's and coaches, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and, the great folks at ESPN, have taken turns reminding the teams they can't just sit players out whenever they choose to do so.

Golden State star Steph Curry recently missed a nationally-televised game when he was "rested" and that sparked great debate about teams who sit star players in games that part of the league's showcase TV package.

ESPN has, of course, reminded the NBA of their gazillion-dollar "partnership" with the league.

The NBA, I'm sure, has reminded every GM and coach that one of the reasons they're all making $2 million a year and owning a second home in Scottsdale or West Palm Beach is because ESPN forks over that kind of money to the league.

Everyone is getting rich in the NBA, including, of course, the players, who play a very difficult 82-game regular season schedule that reaches triple digits if you factor in pre-season and post-season games, too.

And, since they already have a few days off a week as it is, why can't the players simply play in every game? That's a fair question to ask, I suppose.

A big part of this issue in front of Adam Silver and the NBA is, simply, there are really only about four teams worth watching in the NBA these days. There's Golden State, of course, who could be on TV every night with their "Splash Brothers" theme and league good-luck-charm Steph Curry filling the nets.

Cleveland is certainly an interesting draw, with LeBron and his band of teammates.

I guess Oklahoma City is somewhat captivating, particularly if you're like me and you enjoy seeing a guy (Russell Westbrook) score a triple-double and still have his team lose 118-109.

That's three teams.

I'm searching hard for a fourth.

You get my point. Night in and night out, the only teams worth televising are Golden State, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and -- you're welcome to throw someone else in there just to do it, but that's four teams and that's about all you'll get.

Would you care next week if you went to see the Wizards play Denver and the Nuggets sat ANYONE out of the game? Of course not. Quick, name two players on Denver's team.

I'm still here. You haven't named one yet.

Nope, Carmelo Anthony doesn't play for them anymore.

I understand Silver's dilemma.

But nothing should ever be put in place by the league that in any way, shape or form dictates who plays in a game or doesn't play in game.

ESPN should have zero say in that as well.

That ESPN was even permitted to send out this statement is laughable: "As always, our aim is to serve NBA fans with the best matchups involving the league's top stars and we share the fans' disappointment. We understand this is a complex issue and we're working closely with the NBA to best address it going forward from a media partnership standpoint."

Huh? What?

ESPN is "working closely" with the league to best address it going forward?

Addressing what? The way coaches and teams decide to work their way through the schedule to try and win the most amount of games they can?"

Holy cow. Could you imagine if Bill Belichick coached in the NBA and the league sent him that memo?

In his memo, Silver informed teams that the issue will be a prime topic of discussion at the next NBA board of governors meeting April 6 in New York and warned of ‎"significant penalties" for teams that don't abide by the league's standing rules for providing ‎"notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest."

I had to LOL at the one.

The Cavaliers are now supposed to call the Wizards a couple of days before and let them know that LeBron won't be playing in this week's game.

It's good theater if nothing else, but having the NBA and ESPN involved in telling the various teams with star-power when they can play their players and when they can't is a dangerous act.

I understand the big drawback. 18,000 fans cram the building to see Steph Curry play. I take my 9-year old son. He wants to see Curry in person. The Warriors sit him out. It's a bummer.

There will be worse days than that in my young boy's life, I'll explain to him. He'll be disappointed at not seeing Steph Curry, for sure. But the teams, not the league, have to decide how they're going to play their 82-game schedule.

And ESPN? You have no say in it. None at all.

Can you imagine NBC calling the Patriots and saying, "We know Brady has a concussion, but this New England-Green Bay game on Sunday night is going to be a real dud unless you put some cotton in Tommy's ears and send him out there for the whole nation to see"?

This, of course, is what happens when your league sells its soul to the TV networks.

They, now, own you.

And, apparently, they think they own the teams, too.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

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Monday
March 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 20
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happy to be back —
now i just need to figure out
what i missed


It's really weird to be so out of the loop for two days, especially at this time of the year.

From roughly 9:00 pm Thursday until yesterday morning, I had little to no contact with the "real world".

No, I still haven't passed my kidney stone, but I enjoyed a symptom-free day on Sunday and feel about 80% of the way "back".

I played golf with my Calvert Hall team on Sunday down at Pinehurst, watched some NCAA hoops and caught the last few holes of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando.

It was about as normal as normal gets.

I don't know about you, but my bracket is all but busted, with two of my Final Four teams (Villanova and Iowa State) headed back home after second round defeats.

The charter aircraft carrying the Michigan basketball team aborted its takeoff because of strong gusting winds. The plane skidded or was blown off the runway, coming to rest on turf. No one was injured.

The best story of the tournament to date is obviously Michigan, who are starting to look a lot like Jim Valvano's 1983 title-winning NC State team. The Wolverines needed a miracle-ish run through the Big Ten tournament just to qualify for March Madness, and are now just two wins away from the Final Four.

They didn't really have a plane "crash", per se, but they had a fairly scary plane "incident" en route to Washington, D.C. for the Big Ten tourney that seemingly brought the team together — somehow.

Sports is weird like that. Sometimes all it takes is a significant occurrence of some kind to bond the team in a way that the coaches or players couldn't do themselves.

Having your plane fail to get airborne and slide off the runway might just do it.

Wisconsin is another team with some intangible in front of them if they can win two games later this week. That would give this senior class three trips to the Final Four in the last four years.

That's really good, folks, especially this year when they weren't a top seed and had to dispatch #1-seed Villanova in their second game along the way.

I love March Madness because there are always good stories. Someone always comes out of the pack to remind you that any of 20 or 25 teams could make it to the Final Four if their chakras line up right.

I mean, honestly, of the teams left, how many would you say have absolutely ZERO chance of winning their next two games and advancing to the Final Four?

Right. I don't think any of the remaining 16 teams are dead-set locks to lose next Thursday/Friday or Saturday/Sunday.

We all know how hard it is to pick a perfect bracket from the 64 teams who play in the "full" tournament.

I think it might be just as hard to pick a perfect bracket from the 16 teams who are left standing, too.

Sure, someone would likely do it, but it's much harder than you think it is.

And that's with you only picking four games on Thursday, four on Friday, two next Saturday, two next Sunday, and then two the following Saturday and one the following Monday.

Can you go 15-for-15 in the final two weeks of the tournament?

I don't know . . . that seems pretty freakin' hard to me, especially given the level of competition in those games.

Moving over to golf, that was a really nice win yesterday for Marc Leishman, who claimed a PGA Tour victory for the first time in five years with a back-nine rally at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Leishman, who came close to winning the British Open two years ago that was captured in a playoff by Zach Johnson, is one of those guys who makes a bundle of money playing golf but never quite seems to be at the top of his game long enough to warrant consideration as one of the team's "elite" performers.

But he beat a fairly strong field at the API and could always be a threat at Augusta because of his length off the tee and solid short game.

Speaking of Augusta, Rory McIlroy's game looks to be tuning up well for next month's Masters. McIlroy got it to 10-under before finishing at 9-under yesterday and that confident swagger of his has returned. He has all the tee-to-green tools necessary to win at Augusta, but his putter isn't always dependable.

So, I'm slowly catching up on everything I missed while I was out with my kidney stone.

I saw the Adam Jones catch in the WBC win for the American team that eliminated the Dominican Republic. That was a helluva catch.

I know the Caps won on Saturday night, 5-3, in Tampa Bay. T.J. Oshie had three goals in that one for Washington. Speaking of goals and the Caps, how about this note: Since February 1, Alex Ovechkin has one even-strength goal. And that one came two seconds after the expiration of a power play, which all but makes it NOT an even-strength goal.

Frustrated Philadelphia Flyers players react with typical uncivilized behavior, attacking the Caps team after falling behind, 4-1, in a 2016 playoff game. The final score was 6-1.

But even giving Ovi that one, how can "the best player" in the NHL have one even-strength goal in a month and a half?

That's a crazy stat.

Oh, and Duke lost last night. That's always good.

It's nowhere near as thrilling as having the Flyers lose a meaningful post-season game (like last spring when the Caps drilled them 4-games-to-2), but anytime the Blue Devils get sent home early, there's reason to rejoice.

Finally, I just want to thank all of you for your well wishes, both here and via e-mail, Facebook, etc., when I was on the sidelines Friday and Saturday.

It meant a lot to have so many of you reach out. It was a difficult 48 hours, but I'm feeling much better. Thanks again.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

Free agency has not played a big role in defining the Ravens under Ozzie Newsome, especially during the John Harbaugh era.

The Ravens are usually content to let more free agents walk than they sign, allowing the team to stockpile additional picks through the compensatory draft-pick system. The free agents who have been brought in to round out the margins of the roster have generally been players who were cut by their previous teams, and whose signing therefore did not count against the Ravens in that formula.

That's changing this year. The team made several moves for unrestricted free agents to shore up weak spots on the roster and dropped a hefty contract on Brandon Williams to keep him in town.

Despite that, early moves have not been met with universal praise and, in my opinion, still leave plenty of room to wonder what the overarching plan is supposed to be. As Drew said recently, it sure looks like the focus is on rebuilding the defense, and that's fine.

The Seahawks and Broncos have shown that you can win it all with a team carried by defense, but it's how that defense is built that matters. The days of building from the middle with linebackers and safeties and big, run-stuffing linemen are over. Now it's all about having shutdown cornerbacks and edge rushers who can terrorize the passer.

The lack of those kinds of playmakers in the secondary has been an Achilles heel for the Ravens since 2013, and this year Ozzie is finally making a major effort to address that. Tony Jefferson was the best available safety, and he provides a big boost in speed and athleticism over Lardarius Webb and, at just 25 years old, could be a Pro Bowl caliber player for many more seasons.

Brandon Carr doesn't have the raw upside of former teammate Morris Claiborne, who the Ravens were also linked to, but he's been extremely durable in his career (never missing a start) and he'll pair nicely with Jimmy Smith while allowing Tavon Young to start as the slot corner. When all three of these guys are on the field and backed up by Jefferson and Eric Weddle, the Ravens will boast a decidedly above-average secondary for the first time in years.

On the other hand, re-signing Williams seems like a move borne of emotion and PR more than part of a coherent plan for re-shaping the defensive roster. That's not a knock on Williams — he's clearly VERY good and maybe even the best nose tackle in football.

But he's not much of a factor in the pass rush. The Ravens have been excellent in finding and developing defensive tackles over the last ten years, and they've got a number of interior linemen behind Williams who they've picked in the first four rounds of the draft, plus Michael Pierce, the 330-pounder who played well as an undrafted rookie last year.

Considering all of that, Williams seems like a very good player that the Ravens could have afforded to let go elsewhere, re-allocating those resources to other places (like edge rusher) where they need a lot more help.

On the offense, however, the team's initial strategy seems to be more of the same. Given how poorly the offense has performed over the past few seasons, that certainly doesn't engender much confidence that things are going to turn around.

Losing right tackle Ricky Wagner was expected, and it's easy enough to see the team's plan there. Alex Lewis is likely to be pushed out to right tackle and expected to develop just like Wagner did as a mid-round pick, with Ryan Jensen remaining inside as the starting left guard.

It's a reasonable enough plan, but it also begs the question of why the "next man up" plan wasn't good enough for the defensive line, where the Ravens have much more depth and potential replacements. Letting Wagner walk while spending big bucks to keep Williams simply doesn't make sense from a resource-allocation standpoint, given the quality of available replacements and the fact that offensive tackle is a much more impactful position in today's NFL.

And then . . . there's the receiver position, long Ozzie's white whale. The Ravens have again decided, curiously, to ignore what everyone outside of 1 Winning Drive recognizes as a glaring need. This year's crop of free-agent receivers was pretty strong, and featured a number of players who were released by their former teams and thus wouldn't have endangered any of their coveted comensatory picks. Why none were signed just inspires more head shaking.

The Ravens settled for picking up Mike Wallace's option (at a higher cap-hit than they would have taken for signing Brandon Marshall or Torrey Smith), and with Kamar Aiken all but officially gone their weapons right now consist of Wallace, Breshad Perriman, and Chris Moore. That's a lot of speed and field-stretching ability, but no one who can run a variety of routes or has the strength and hands to consistently pull down contested passes.

And if the strategy is to build around downfield speed, that's going to require a lot of time for Joe Flacco to drop deep in the pocket, which just makes the decision to let Wagner leave without a fight all the more confusing. It's possible they'll draft another receiver in the first round, but keep in mind that a) they also need help at edge rusher, and can't add both with one pick and b) this is still the same front-office group that swears they would have drafted C.J. Mosley over Odell Beckham Jr.

In summary, beyond the upgrades to the secondary, I don't see much cause for hope that Ozzie & Company are prepared to address what has ailed this team since Super Bowl 47.

Committing big money to Williams while casting off Wagner suggests that they still don't understand that today's games are won on the edges, while the near total lack of attention to the offense doesn't indicate that they have a firm grasp on how much help that unit needs and, with the same offensive coordinator and mostly the same players from last season, don't have much of a plan for improving it.

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i'm not gaga over her
but you might know someone who is


Never let it be said that I'm not a man for the people.

What other explanation can you give when you read the information below about a trip to see Lady Gaga in Philadelphia other than, "Drew's a man for the people"?

Yes, we're going to see Lady Gaga.

Join #DMD on Monday, September 11 when we head to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia to see Lady Gaga, brought to you by Jerry's Toyota.

It wasn't my idea, honestly, but we're doing it.

My friend Anna Lybrook was one of the first to check in. She has previously enjoyed trips with us to see Springsteen and Adele, and a couple of weeks back she rattled my cage about seeing Lady Gaga in Philadelphia.

It doesn't have to be my cup of tea for #DMD to take on a project.

Remember when I first launched the website in 2014? "People helping people will be a central theme at #DMD", I said then.

So, I'm willing to help you see Lady Gaga, or those of you who want to, anyway.

She's one of the hottest acts in music today, and no matter what you think about her wacky attire and "look", the young lady can definitely sing. And fresh off the heels of her Super Bowl appearance in Houston, she's launching a summer tour that will take her to every major venue in America.

If you'd like to see her perform live, we're making it happen for you.

The show is Monday, September 11, at 7:30 pm at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Ravens will be 1-0 after opening the season with a 24-20 nailbiter over the Colts the day before in Baltimore.

We'll leave Baltimore around 4:00 pm, our luxury motor-coach stocked with ice cold DuClaw beer, water and soft drinks, plus delicious subs and sandwiches from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We have both upper and lower concourse tickets available for the show. The package that includes upper concourse seats is $200 per-person and the package that includes lower concourse seats is $275. NOTE: As of 2/17/17 at 6:30 am, there are ONLY four (4) lower concourse seats remaining. The rest of the seats are upper concourse.

The $200 and $275 prices are only available to the first 28 customers who purchase their seats in full. We may add seats again once those first 28 are gone, but our bus will travel to Philadelphia with a maximum of 40 concert-goers.

If you're interested in seats on our Lady Gaga bus, just go here.

Hughes Mechanical
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Sunday
March 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 19
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there’s no price tag on your health

A woman at the Spa at Pinehurst Resort wanted to charge me $50 to use the hot tub yesterday.

I would have paid it.

Thankfully, my pal Brian Hubbard from Kelly Benefits and Payroll stepped in and did just enough pleading that she extended me a complimentary 15-minute session in the hot tub.

I’m telling you, I would have paid the $50.

Alas, the hot-tub trick didn’t work.

Nothing has worked thus far, as I’m now four days into my battle with a 3mm kidney stone that refuses to pass.

I tried to play golf with my Calvert Hall team yesterday at Pinehurst No. 6.

That was futile, to say the least. By the third hole, I was done.

I’m not sure what I was thinking. I guess I figured a little activity would help.

It didn’t. I’m still in misery.

I’ll get this thing straightened out at some point soon and be good as new, but for now I hope you can accept that I simply don’t have the energy to put a string of cogent thoughts together that I would be proud of . . . let alone that would make sense.

I’m especially disappointed that I can’t chronicle my Calvert Hall golf team’s weekend at Pinehurst for you.

I was so looking forward to providing you with an account of our trip and passing on the things we’re working on in preparation for the upcoming season.

I will wind up doing that. I’m just not able to do it now and have it make sense.

Thanks for the e-mails and comments wishing me well. Those who've had a kidney stone know too well how much this wrecks you.

Those that haven’t experienced it yet — keep praying you never do.

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a short article about springtime


end of article


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Saturday
March 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 18
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neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow –
nor kidney stone . . . *


[ * The words "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" — while by no means an official creed or motto of the United States Postal Service — have long been associated with the American mailcarrier. The motto is inscribed on New York's James Farley Post Office, but it has no official status.]


You might look at this like it’s a cheap way of preserving “the streak”.

I have, after all, written and published something every single day here at #DMD since August 25, 2014.

Including today.

But make no mistake about it, this is a streak-preserver and nothing more.

I was felled by a kidney stone on Wednesday of this week and the little bugger still hasn’t passed through yet.

If you know anything about kidney stones, you know what I’m going through.

And you know how hard it is just to write this.

If you don’t know anything about kidney stones and their associated pain and discomfort – like I didn’t prior to this past Wednesday – then, well, you just don’t know. [In the medical field, they refer to statements such as this as oxycodone-assisted logic.]

I’d like to write more today.

Really, I would.

But I don’t even know who won the games yesterday. I seem to remember Maryland lost on Thursday. [They did indeed.] Other than that, I don’t know much of what’s been going on in the tournament.

I think Charley Hoffman is leading the Arnold Palmer Invitational. [He is, by a shot, at -10.] I checked my PGA Tour app yesterday just after vomiting for the umpteenth time. He was leading and Emiliano Grillo is second. [Grillo is still in second, a shot ahead of Matthew Fitzpatrick.]

But don’t hold me to that. I might have dreamt that scenario. [He was awake. But delirium wasn't far off.]

This is all I have for you today.

I know you expect more.

I’d like to give more.

But I can’t.

You wanna know how much this kidney stone hurts? I wouldn’t wish this on a Flyers fan. [No doubt this statement will be revisited when his full senses have returned.]

Honestly, I wouldn’t. [Ibid.]

The streak lives on, but only because I care enough about it to do this.

As soon as I’m among the living and breathing and again, I’ll be back to normal.

DF

[Editor's Note: I met Drew at RDU and we drove to Pinehurst yesterday. It's a mild surprise that he was able to write the above piece. ~George]

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Friday
March 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 17
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terps left with nothing in the tank


I suppose it was almost a miracle that Maryland hung around last night for as long as they did.

When it was all said and done and Xavier had polished off the Terps, 76-65, one thing about Maryland's team was clearly evident. They didn't have anything under the hood when it mattered on Thursday night in Orlando.

And that's probably the kindest way to put it.

With Melo Trimble going 1-for-9 from 3-point range and somehow developing the foul-shooting yips, Mark Turgeon was left to come up with an alternative plan to keep Maryland's title dream alive. He couldnt' do it.

Franklin Square Hospital

Damonte Dodd finished with 2 points and 3 rebounds. Anthony Cowan, about a foot shorter than Dodd, collected 4 rebounds on the night. If that stat doesn't say it all, nothing does.

Sorry gang...

Heading to the hospital for a kidney stone at 12:50 am.

Will update later.

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bonus coverage
seen these plays before? hint: 1970



#DMD HDTV




dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.

There were two things that couldn’t happen if Maryland was to move on to the second round of the NCAA tournament. They couldn’t allow the streaky Trevon Bluiett to get hot, and they could not survive an indifferent effort from Melo Trimble. Both of those things happened and the Terps lost their first round battle with Xavier, 76-65. Bluiett, after a sub-par first half performance, got scorching hot and tossed in 19 points in the second half. He finished with 21.

It was more of the same ol’ same ol’ for Maryland. They, again, got outrebounded (34-24) and went through two long stretches where they couldn’t score. The cold spell in the first half was overcome, but the five minutes Maryland went without scoring in the second half was something they were never able to get over. They went scoreless from the 13:13 mark until the 8:13 mark. The Terps only tallied 29 points in the final 20 minutes.

With the scoring droughts duly noted, this game was actually lost with 4:32 left — in the Wisconsin game. That’s when Melo Trimble’s play became indifferent for the remainder of the season. Trimble was benched in that game for playing absolutely no defense. He was coming off the big 32-point effort against Northwestern, and had a nice scoring day against Wisconsin, but his lack of “want to” on the defensive end irked coach Turgeon and landed Melo on the bench to watch the end of the loss to the Badgers. Trimble hasn’t been the same since then.

INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

Maryland’s leading scorer has made just six of 38 three-point attempts after the Wisconsin game. My calculator tells me that his percentage in those games is just 15%. Trimble has never been a great shooter, but 15% reeks of indifference. To further prove my point, prior to the Wisconsin contest, Trimble only had one game where he missed more than one free throw. In the game that he did miss two, he was a respectable 8-10. In Melo’s last 7 games, he’s missed two or more three times. His miss at the 2:47 mark of last night’s game was huge and he was just 2 for 4 from the line last night. Trimble made 85% of his foul shots in each of his first two years at Maryland, but made 79% this year and only connected on 18 of his last 30 attempts (60%). He made just one of nine three-point attempts against Xavier. Melo has been indifferent and his team simply doesn’t have the horses to beat decent competition without him.

Maryland won just two of seven after the Badger game and four of their losses were by double digits. One of the two wins came against lowly Rutgers with the other being an emotional senior-night win over Michigan State after which Trimble himself said he didn’t want to lose his “last game”.

Many Terp fans will rightfully point out that Maryland would never have reached the unexpected heights they achieved this year if it had not been for Trimble’s play. They would be right, but for Maryland to continue their winning ways late in the season, they needed Trimble’s best. They didn’t get it.

We all know that Maryland lacked upper-echelon athletes and their play at the 5 position never amounted to much. On some nights they ran into squads that possessed some things that Maryland didn’t. They had a fun and, in my book, successful season but things tailed off after that debacle in Wisconsin.

Next year’s team will take on an entirely different look with Dodd gone and Trimble likely to leave. They have a nice base with Kevin Huerter (team-high 19 points last night), Justin Jackson (second on the team with 14 points), and Anthony Cowan (tied for team high in rebounds with 4 and assists with 5). They add a potential inside scoring threat next year and pick up a nice athlete too. There’s always next year.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

Matchday 29

While the English Premier League once again resumes in earnest on Saturday, it will be on Sunday of Matchday 29 that we focus this week, with a full morning slate of games and likely impacts for both the top four and the bottom three of the table. So wake up early and settle in for a busy Sunday morning of soccer that will run right you up to tipoff of the second round of March Madness, with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Sunday (all times eastern)

8am – Manchester United @ Middlesbrough – Riverside Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Manchester United may have remained unbeaten in the league, quietly picking up points for a league leading seventeen game run, however they let a golden opportunity slip past when they were unable to capitalize on ten man Bournemouth to split the points for the eighth time during the unbeaten run (W9) and remain just outside of the top four looking in. After an early week defeat to Chelsea to crash out of the FA Cup, they will travel to the Riverside Stadium to square off with a Middlesbrough side still searching for their first win of the New Year after falling to Stoke City 2-0.

The setback was their third in the last four league games and, without a win in their last ten league games and three points from safety with only Sunderland below them in the table, Middlesbrough is running out of time to save their season from ending in relegation with the looming visit from United, who have won four of the last five meetings with Boro across all competitions and the sole defeat in the FA Cup two years ago the only time they have failed to take points in their last twelve meetings (W7 D4), walking away with at least a share of the spoils in their last five trips to the Vitality Stadium (W3 D2).

10:15am – Southampton @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

Tottenham followed up their 3-2 victory over Everton, which moved Spurs back in to second place, with a comfortable 6-0 stroll past Millwall to book their place in the last four of the FA Cup. They will welcome manager Mauricio Pochettino’s former club Southampton to White Hart Lane for the middle game on the Sunday slate, with the Saints bouncing back from their EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United with a wild 4-3 victory over Watford to maintain their place in the top half of the table before enjoying a week off with their FA Cup status already decided following a January defeat to Arsenal.

After spending a year and half at Southampton and guiding the Saints to their highest ever finish in the Premier League, Pochettino has not missed a beat since making the move to the capital, with Tottenham closing in on back to back appearances in the Champions League for the first time in club history and enjoying a fourteen game unbeaten run in the league at their friendly confines, taking a staggering thirty-eight points from a possible forty-two and winning eight of their last eleven against their weekend opponent (L2 D1), including four of their last five times they visited White Hart Lane (L1).

12:30pm – Liverpool @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC

Manchester City looked set to put their 0-0 draw with Stoke City, which may have just rendered their late-season tussle with league leaders Chelsea mute, behind them when they added to Middlesbrough’s recent misery to join Tottenham in a star studded FA Cup final four - which includes fellow top flight giants Chelsea and Arsenal - before wasting a two goal first leg advantage and failing to get past the final sixteen of the Champions League for the fifth time in the last six years. With a spot in the top four far from secure, they will welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium to wrap up the weekend action.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola square off on Sunday with both managers desperate to keep their teams in the running for a finish in the top four.

The Reds followed up their massive three points against Arsenal the week before with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Burnley to further consolidate their hold on fourth place in the table, five points clear of the Gunners for the final Champions League spot and just a point behind City ahead of their weekend showdown, with the Reds winning the last four Premier League meetings against the Citizens and taking all three points in five of the last seven across all competitions, although the home side have managed to enjoy a brief run of success at the Etihad, taking all three points in the last two games in Manchester.

Hughes Mechanical
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Thursday
March 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXII
Issue 16
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trimble, turgeon have chance to redeem themselves starting tonight


Having watched that epic 90-minute "30 for 30" episode documenting North Carolina State's title run in 1983, I was reminded of the most important element of winning the NCAA championship.

You have to get there.

Syracuse can't win it this year. Neither can Iowa. Indiana can't win it.

But Maryland can.

Maryland opens March Madness play after a disappointing one-and-done in the Big Ten tournament, played in their backyard in Washington D.C. That Maryland lost to Northwestern probably shouldn't have been much of a surprise given how the Terps stunk it up in February in conference play.

The good news? It's a new season now.

As we saw with North Carolina State, who survived a dramatic ACC tournament just to get in the NCAA field, anything can happen in these next six games. The Wolfpack nearly lost four of their six, but somehow figured out a way to pull it out each time until they were the ones cutting down the nets with that last second win over Houston.

I don't see Maryland winning it all this year. I don't think anyone does, for that matter.

But the Terps have plenty to play for when they take on Xavier tonight at 6:50 pm in Orlando.

Maryland needs big performances tonight from Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson in order to advance past a strong, physical Xaiver squad.

You can't win six unless you win one.

Maryland needs a strong performance tonight from Melo Trimble, who has been a spotlight grabber more times than not during his three years in College Park. But this light, tonight, is the brightest one he'll see this season. The Terps need Trimble to step up this evening.

The Terps could use a step-up performance from Justin Jackson as well. Jackson was red hot in January, but cooled off quickly in February and wasn't much of a factor at all in the second half of the Big Ten season.

As our Terps reporter Dale Williams points out below, Xavier has a decent team. They were on pace to be a really good team until injuries caught up with them at mid-season, but they put together a nice Big East tournament run to snag one of the final at-large spots and the 11-seed in the West Region.

They are not to be taken lightly.

How Mark Turgeon attacks Xavier will be an important footnote in this game. Does he try and get the ball inside to Damonte Dodd and Ivan Bender and take advantage of Xavier's lack of size under the basket? Or is that a lost cause and should the Terps just go with what got them to Orlando in the first place and try to promote scoring amongst their three freshman and Trimble?

Dodd, remember, did have a big game at Michigan back in January. Maybe it was lightning-in-a-bottle stuff, but he poured in 15 points in Maryland's win at Ann Arbor. He even chipped in with 12 points in the win at Northwestern a month later.

The occasions are rare, yes, but Dodd can put the ball in the basket when everything is lined up right for him.

But the more the ball is in Dodd's hands -- or, more likely, bouncing off of them -- the less it's in Trimble's hands. I'm more of the mindset of "dance with who brung ya", so my preference is to see Trimble run the show and if Dodd gets a few points here and there, that's great.

Trimble has earned the right to have the game fall on his shoulders tonight. He's put in three solid seasons with the Terps and, assuming this is last "run" before turning pro, it's more than fair to let him engineer things this evening in Orlando.

Like everyone, I'm a huge fan of the three freshmen. But I'm not sure Huerter, Cowan and Jackson are ready for the type of pressure that comes with guiding your team through the NCAA tournament.

Maryland has made it to the Big Dance all three years of Trimble's tenure. He's been part of winning. And losing. He's mistake prone, yes, but Trimble running the show and trying to take the game to Xavier is Maryland's best chance for winning.

As Dale notes below, Xavier's guards have a definite size advantage over what Maryland sends out there in that position, Trimble included.

But Trimble isn't afraid.

If there's one thing we can all agree on having watched the kid for three years, it's that he has no fear of taking the ball to the hoop against anyone.

I like the Terps to win tonight, 77-63.


shameless plug reminder


Come on out to Glory Days Grill in Towson tonight and watch the Terps with me and my old radio buddy Glenn Clark, who hosts Glenn Clark Radio every day from 10 am-12 noon at www.glennclarkradio.com.

The rest of the games will be on as well, so bring your bracket along and we'll tear it up together when one of your Final Four teams gets stunned on opening Thursday!

Seriously...if you're looking for a place to camp out and watch the action tonight, stop on by and join Glenn and I for a beverage and some awesome Glory Days food. We'll be there around 6 pm, getting ready to watch a Terps victory!

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


cutting down the nets


Odds are that Princeton will be the first team eliminated from the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Tigers play in today’s first game, starting just after noon in Buffalo, and they certainly are underdogs to a Notre Dame team that just reached the ACC championship game, where the Irish lost a tight one to Duke.

It’s a terrific Princeton team, winners of 19 straight games, ranked in the RPI Top 50. They can really shoot it, like most Princeton teams, and they’re willing to play a little faster than you’d expect. As a #12 seed against a #5, they’re worth a chance in your bracket.

Whatever happens on Thursday, Princeton made history this past Sunday, when the Tigers won the inaugural Ivy League tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid.

The top four teams qualified for the event, which finally made the Ivies the last league to cave to a postseason tournament. Previously, the winner of the regular season was the league’s NCAA representative; if two teams tied, there was a one-game neutral-site playoff to determine the NCAA bid, even if one of the teams won both of the regular-season games between the teams.

It was, said the cliché I’ve heard way too many times, “the 14-game tournament.”

Not surprisingly, the league chose The Palestra on the Penn campus to host this first actual tournament. Unfortunately for Princeton, Penn snuck into the fourth spot, meaning the top-seeded Tigers had to play on the road against the Quakers in the semifinals. Princeton never led in regulation, tying the game on a putback in the final seconds, and then dominated overtime. The following day’s game against Yale was less dramatic, a 71-59 win that made it a perfect 16 wins in 16 conference games.

Full disclosure: your humble blogger worked in the Princeton athletic department for seven years of his adult life. He was sitting five feet from the court at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis when the Tigers stunned UCLA, the defending national champion, in 1996. He traveled the country with the basketball team for five seasons, good ones and bad ones.

The Tigers will always be this correspondent’s second favorite college basketball team after the Terps, the team of his childhood. Which is why I wanted be in Philadelphia on Sunday to see Princeton (hopefully) cut down the nets.

After the game, as I watched them do just that (see photo above right), I was reminded of the one time I was with the team as it clinched an NCAA berth.

It was 2004, and we held on for a win against Dartmouth in the season’s penultimate game to clinch the league title. The game was played on a typically freezing night in a small gym in Hanover, N.H., and all we wanted to do was get out of there as quickly as possible. Nobody cut down any nets; I’m not sure there would have been anybody to watch us do so.

This was definitely much cooler than that. So chalk that up as another reason why having a tournament is a good idea.

If you think about it, conference tournaments are actually a lot fairer than the NCAA tournament. There’s no selection committee using some hazy process to determine that your team is seeded below my team; B1G commissioner Jim Delany wasn’t going to make Iowa a higher seed than Maryland just because the Hawkeyes were playing better at the end of the year.

Most conferences also display fairness in where they play tournament games. It’s certainly fair to play every game at a neutral site, and it’s fair in a different way to play every tournament game on the higher seed’s home court. In the Patriot League, for example, Bucknell won the regular-season standings by three games, and was rewarded for that by playing all three of its tournament games at home.

The Ivy League will figure that part out eventually, or maybe they’ll go back to the way they used to do it. They’re supposed to be smart, right?

Princeton, meanwhile, will be making just its second trip to the tournament in the last 13 years. For a program that’s played in couple of the tournament’s most famous games, the UCLA upset and a near upset of top-ranked Georgetown in 1989, that’s hard to believe.

Times have changed, however, for the better of the other six teams who looked up to Princeton and Penn for so long.

Cornell had a great run of three straight Ivy titles from 2008-2010, capping that stretch by reaching the Sweet 16 in 2010. Harvard became the dominant program after that, reaching four straight NCAA tournaments, winning first round games in both 2013 and 2014. And then Yale made its first appearance in 54 years, upsetting Baylor in 2016.

Three Princeton seniors will graduate after the season, so maybe it will be somebody else’s turn next season. But as long as the four-team tournament exists, more teams will have that chance, and more games during the season will take on greater meaning.

It’s a win-win. Here’s to hoping Princeton gets another win today. Go Tigers.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.


terps vs. xavier preview


When first examining the Xavier line-up that the Maryland Terrapins will face tonight at 6:50 pm, one thing jumped out at me. Xavier has big guards.

Trevon Bluiett and Malcolm Bernard are both 6’6”. J.P. Macura is 6’5”and Quentin Goodwin checks in at 6’4”. They all have solid physiques with Goodwin being the lightweight at “only” 194 pounds. Their big man, RaShid Gaston, stands at 6’9” and a sturdy 240 pounds.

The five guys listed above were the starters for Xavier in their two most recent games.

One was a win over Butler and the other a loss to Creighton. Both games were close Big East tournament games and based on that, I have to believe that Xavier coach, Chris Mack, played his best lineup.

So, yes, Maryland will face some big guards tonight, but where are the Musketeer forwards?

Xavier has an incredibly shallow bench and almost all of their reserve minutes go to the forwards.

Minutes for subs are rare for the Musketeers because Mack has elected to play Bernard, Bluiett, Macura and Goodwin for about 150 of the combined possible 160 minutes of playing time. Those four run almost the entire game. Gaston is the only starter that sits for any extended time.

Reserve forward Sean O’Mara (6’10”, 244) has been averaging 20 minutes a game lately off of the bench. He has a nice touch around the basket, but he is in no way a top producer for this Xavier team.

The offensive leader for Xavier is clearly Bluiett, who also happens to be one of the streakiest shooters in college basketball right now. His 18.1 points per game comes on 43% shooting from the field and 37% from the three point line. Those aren’t eye popping numbers but I watched him drop 40 points against Cincinnati earlier this year and the first 30 came before he even missed a shot.

When Bluiett gets it going the points come in droves.

Maryland center Damonte Dodd figures to play a key role tonight when he goes head-to-head with RaShid Gaston of Xavier.

Macura is similar in that his percentages don’t say “pure shooter” but he can also fill it up when he gets hot. He averages 14.5 points on only 42% from the field and 35% from the three point line. Stopping Macura and Bluiett from lighting up the outside will be key for Maryland’s chances of moving on.

After Bluiett’s 18.1 and Macura’s 14.5, there is a huge gap to Xavier’s third highest scorer, RaShid Gaston (7.9). Gaston is very strong inside and scores on an effective 59% of his tries. All of his damage is done around the basket and he has yet to shoot a three. His 6.4 rebounds per contest lead Xavier.

If Bluiett and Macura aren’t allowed to get hot, then Xavier has no chance at scoring enough points to win this contest.

I would imagine that Maryland’s Kevin Huerter will get the bulk of the minutes defending Bluiett. Huerter may have enough length to bother Bluiett, but he can’t allow Bluiett to shoot from long range. Playing Bluiett chest to chest is by far the best option. He’s not as effective when shooting off the dribble, so getting him off of his spot is important.

Macura is more likely to take the ball to the basket but he is not an adept ball handler. I would expect Melo Trimble to check him.

Maryland's Damonte Dodd must play a physical game against Gaston. Allowing him to get easy points around the basket could put added pressure on the rest of the Maryland defense. With most of Xavier’s offense coming from the outside positions, I’m sure they would enjoy being able to play inside-out for a change.

Xavier seemed on track to earn much better than an 11 seed, but losing 7 of their last 10 games plummeted their status with the selection committee. The losing streak corresponded with the season ending ACL injury to Edmond Sumner. With Sumner out, the Musketeers lost 15 points a game, a team high 5 assists per game, and a chance to grab a higher seed.

It doesn’t take a basketball Einstein to figure out that Maryland has little to no offensive fire power inside.

However, it isn’t the teams with a solid big man that worry me the most for Maryland. It’s the teams that have strong, physical guards capable of stifling our backcourt, and with long athletic forwards that give the Terps the most trouble.

Xavier has tall, strong, guards but not the type that I think can contain Melo Trimble and even Anthony Cowan.

Those two will present real problems for Xavier and one of the beneficiaries will be a slump busting Justin Jackson. Without the presence of that long four man, Jackson could flourish. He has scored in double digits only twice in his last ten games and his scoring average during that stretch is only 6.2.

Tonight, however, I believe Jackson will be a factor. Xavier has no one in their starting lineup that is a good matchup for the freshman. Additionally, if he truly did “hit the freshman wall” he’s had plenty of time to refuel. Maryland has played only one game in the last 12 days. In that same time span, Xavier has played three.

Xavier is going to be forced to hit a ton of three point shots in order to advance into Saturday’s round of 32.

They certainly have guys capable of providing exactly that, but the lack of consistency tells me it’s unlikely to happen. Maryland is also a team that relies on three point shots but they can get to the rim far more often than the Musketeers.

Xavier’s short rotation and lack of quickness at the guard spot are going to be too much for them to overcome.

They have a lot of nice pieces, but Maryland isn’t the best draw for them. Absent of another “all world” performance by Bluiett, the Terps win this game.

If it’s close late, then Xavier’s 68% team foul shooting might cost them. But I think the Terps will have enough of a cushion to not have to rely on that. Vegas has the Terps as two point favorites.

I’ll go with a 72-65 Maryland win.

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march madness challenge


You have until 12 noon today to enter our #DMD March Madness Challenge, presented by Glory Days Grill and Royal Farms.

In our challenge, you do not fill out a bracket. You'll be doing enough of that this week. We offer a different sort of contest here at #DMD.

Below, you will find 12 questions relating to the tournament. Each has a point value. All you need to do is answer the questions and e-mail those answers to us. It takes about one minute of your time.

We do ask that you specifically follow the entry directions that you'll see below, as it makes it much easier for us to keep a running point total if you follow those directions to the letter.

Here are the 12 questions you'll need to answer and their point values.

1. Will Maryland win both of their first two games? - 5 points

2. Will any 1-seed beat a 16-seed by 36.5 points or more? 5 points

3. Will there be more than 2 overtime games in the opening round of 32 games? - 5 points

4. Will a 12-seed beat a 5-seed in the opening round of 32 games? - 5 points

5. Will a 2-seed lose one of their first two games? - 5 points

6. Will any team score 94.5 or more points in a tournament game and lose? - 5 points

7. Who will be the first 1-seed to lose? - 5 points

8. Who is in your Elite Eight? - 5 points for each correct team, 10 point bonus if you have at least 7 of 8.

9. Who plays in the Final? - 10 points for each correct team.

10. Will the team who leads at half in the Final win the game? - 5 points

11. Will the point total in the Final be over/under 152.5? - 5 points

12. Who wins the NCAA title? - 10 points



And here's how you answer and enter:

Send your answers in via e-mail (only): dmdscore@gmail.com

Only one entry per-person is permitted. Multiple entries will be rejected.

Put "Hoops Challenge" in the subject line, please. And include your name somewhere so we know who you are.

Simply list your answers, as you see below:

1. Yes

2. Yes

3. No

4. Yes

5. No

6. Yes

7. Gonzaga

8. Villanova, Duke, Notre Dame, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, Butler, UCLA

9. Villanova and UCLA

10. No

11. Over

12. UCLA

There you have it. You're entered!

There are 125 possible points at stake, including the potential bonus points that are available.



Prizes are provided by Glory Days Grill and Royal Farms.

1st place -- $250 gift certificate from Glory Days Grill

2nd place -- $150 gift certificate from Glory Days Grill

3rd place -- $100 gift certificate from Glory Days Grill

4th place -- Breakfast/lunch for a month from Royal Farms

5th place -- Breakfast/lunch for a week from Royal Farms

6th-10th place -- $25 gift certificate from Glory Days Grill.

Have fun and good luck!!!


and here's my "official" bracket


Just for kicks and giggles, I'm publishing my official NCAA March Madness bracket.

I only do one every year. I get it, everyone's entitled to make up a bunch and submit them all, but I stick with just one every March.

This is my best effort.

As you'll see, I have UCLA winning it all.

I do think there are probably ten teams that have the ability to win the whole thing. It's a wide open field.

My preference? I wouldn't mind seeing Gonzaga finally win one. Mark Few has run a good program out there and the 'Zags remind me of my beloved Washington Capitals in that they routinely have a great regular season and then fall apart come tournament (playoff) time.

Obviously, my first preference would be to see Maryland win, but that's not happening. Gonzaga, though, has a real chance.

Below is my bracket for the tournament.

If you're reading #DMD on your phone or a tablet, you might not have a great view of it below. To see the bracket in fullscreen, please go here.



please click here to see previous issues of #dmd.

RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.

breakfast bytes

NHL: Chiasson's two goals lead Caps to 5-3 win in Boston.

NBA: LeBron, Cavs win first showdown with Lakers and Ball, 121-112, as James records 59th career triple-double.

NFL: Broncos outlast Colts in Indy, 25-13, in Thursday Night snoozer.

MLB: Twins sign veteran closer Fernando Rodney to 1-year deal.