Sunday
April 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 30
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jimenez, buck having tough time in nyc


I see in the comments section from Saturday that we have to be careful about appearing to pile on here after an Orioles loss.

Folks are very sensitive to the appearance that our Birds are getting unfair treatment following a defeat.

So, I’ll try to be nice, but it’s probably not going to come out that way.

The O’s are in need of a win today at Yankee Stadium or they’ll be swept by the Bronx Bombers. Worst of all? They’ll be swept by the first place Bronx Bombers.

Saturday’s 12-4 thrashing was in the books after about 30 minutes of baseball. Ubaldo Jimenez made the start for the Birds. If you didn’t see the game, you can only imagine how it went based on the score and Jimenez getting the start.

Ubaldo Jimenez's ERA is now 7.43 after getting shellacked in New York on Saturday afternoon. How much longer can the O's send him out there?

Remember a couple of weeks back when Jimenez baffled the Reds and I wrote a piece here imploring the O’s to trade him to Cincinnati right then and there? I wish they would have done that.

Here’s the thing: Jimenez is an easy guy to like and he’s even more easy to root for, despite the fact that his best days of pitching are behind him. Even last October when he gave up the season-ending 3-run dinger to Edwin Encarnacion, I felt a strong tug of sadness for Ubaldo as he made his way to the dugout.

I wish he was a better pitcher. He seems like such a good teammate and a guy the players are more than willing to rally around.

But every time he toes the rubber as a starter, he’s a liability.

This, of course, isn’t necessarily all Jimenez’s fault. He wouldn’t be out there if Buck didn’t put him out there. And Buck wouldn’t have the option of starting him if Duquette and the organization would have upgraded the team’s pitching in the off-season.

So, yes, it’s ultimately on Jimenez to get people out. He’s on full scholarship, remember. But he doesn't deserve all of the blame.

The Orioles’ rotation issues will get cleaned up a bit when Chris Tillman comes back in a week or so. That will give the club Tillman, Bundy, Gausman, and Miley as the team’s first four starters. There’s still a need for a fifth guy in the rotation, obviously, and Jimenez and his $13 million salary are likely to get the nod there, but I hope the O’s explore all of their options before gifting him an automatic start every fifth day.

Jimenez has one acceptable start every five or six times out. That’s not good enough. And it’s clearly going to affect the Orioles over the final five months of the season if, in fact, he sticks around and starts every fifth day.

I don’t think Alec Asher or Jayson Aquino are long-term answers as a starter in lieu of Jimenez, but the two of them might be worth sticking in there right now. Even if you started Asher this week and Aquino next week, I’m betting their body of work is better – perhaps only marginally – than whatever Jimenez would produce.

I understand that it appears Jimenez isn’t useful if he’s not starting – and even when he’s starting, it’s not all peaches and cream. And, all kidding aside about last October’s home run, it doesn’t look like the bullpen is a suitable spot for him. But the O’s aren’t cutting him, either. So, the bullpen might be the only place he can go at this point.

There's always another Camden Yards parking lot pothole and a trip to the DL as a possibility. That would solve everything. But let's assume for a moment the Birds are going to play fair this time around.

It’s worth mentioning that Aquino is now sporting a 9.00 ERA after getting roasted by the Yankees on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. He was superb against the Red Sox in Baltimore last week, but that was the best we’ve seen from him, admittedly.

At this stage, Asher looks a little more reliable than Aquino, but a lefthander comes in handy once or twice a week.

I say this a lot when someone says to me, “What’s the answer?”.

I don’t know what the answer IS – but I know it’s not Ubaldo Jimenez. Like Ben Affleck said in Good Will Hunting -- I don’t know much, but I know that.

Speaking of Buck Showalter, the O’s manager hasn’t had his best stuff in New York over the last two days.

It’s not entirely the manager’s fault that the team couldn’t hold on to leads of 9-1 and 11-4 on Friday evening, but Showalter’s curious pitching decisions were contributing factors in New York’s epic comeback.

In the 6th, after the Yankees had just chiseled out a run to make the score 9-2, Aaron Judge came to the plate with a runner on and two outs. An outside-the-box idea there might have been to have Gausman intentionally walk Judge, who had already clobbered one homer earlier, to get to the light hitting (.109) Greg Bird.

Or, better yet, Buck’s more sensible move might have been to come out and get the ball from Gausman and hand it over to Mychal Givens so he could face Judge.

Judge, of course, homered again off of Gausman and the lead was 9-4.

The Birds would score two more runs in the top of the 7th to make it 11-4 so Showalter sent Gausman back out for the home half of the inning. I get it. Your team is up by 7 runs with nine outs remaining. You’re not thinking that you’re on the verge of gagging on a lead like that.

But in the bottom half of the inning, Buck really fell asleep. After an infield single, Gausman was done and the skipper went with Vidal Nuno to face Brett Gardner. He managed to get him out, but then a double and a walk loaded the bases for Jacoby Ellsbury.

Where was Donnie Hart in all of that mess? Why not go with the more reliable Hart instead of Nuno? Hart’s ERA this season is 0.00. Nuno’s was in the 5.50 range prior to getting blasted on Friday.

Easy to say now, of course, but Nuno wasn’t Buck’s best option in the 7th inning on Friday night, yet he went with him anyway.

Showalter went back to the southpaw-well on Saturday after Jimenez’s ineffective start ended with one out in the fourth inning. He threw Nuno right back to the wolves and he promptly gave up two more earned runs in two innings of work to balloon his ERA to 6.55. Aquino didn’t fare much better, giving up three earned runs in 1.2 innings.

I guess Buck figured “what’s it matter?” when it was 7-0, but why not give Asher a chance to throw a few innings at that point? He hadn’t pitched since Wednesday night’s extra innings win over Tampa Bay.

Still one of the best tactician's in the game, but the O's skipper hasn't been at his best in New York in the first two games of the weekend series with the Yankees.

And, while it was 7-0, the Friday night experience alone should have reminded the Birds that no lead is safe when you can hit three or four home runs in two innings or thereabouts. In fact, the O’s had the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, down 7-1. One big hit there and it's a brand new game.

Nuno and Aquino both pitched (poorly) on Friday. And then they were trotted back out there on Saturday? Eh, I don’t get that one, sorry.

I realize we’re only talking about two losses and there’s no reason to panic, but it’s always fair to question puzzling coaching moves, whether it’s Showalter’s occasional stumble-and-bumble act with the pitching staff or John Harbaugh’s clock management at the end of a tight game.

And while we’re chewing on the Birds’ manager, what has Hyun Soo Kim done to warrant his lack of playing time in 2017?

Kim has appeared in 13 games thus far, with 35 at bats.

Craig Gentry, who isn’t half the hitter of Kim, has 27 at bats in 21 games, although it’s fair to note he does have value as a pinch runner, hence his edge in games played over Kim thus far.

But unless I’m missing something, Gentry has no business starting over Kim in any capacity. It would be one thing if Kim played every day and Buck wanted to give him a breather on Sunday when the JV lineup routinely gets penciled in the lineup card. You can go ahead and throw Gentry in there at that point if the O’s are seeing a right handed pitcher.

But when Kim is getting a start or two a week and Gentry is as well, that math doesn’t make sense to me. And, yes, I’m well aware that Kim can’t hit left-handed pitching. Neither can Gentry.

Gentry’s currently hitting .185. It appears he can’t hit any kind of pitching.

Here's another thing I know: Kim's never going to get any better facing lefties if he never gets to see one.

Back to Gentry for a second. Sometimes I think Buck tries to make a point when he’s handed a player by Duquette that he doesn’t particularly care for. “You wanted me to play this guy…so, I will.”

I just don’t know what Kim has to do to get to more playing time. And, by all means, Gentry should never start over Kim.

The good news is that the Birds are 14-8 and Machado, Davis and Trumbo are still getting their sea legs about them. At some point, those three are going to come around, although it’s fair to point out that Davis is what he is – a home run or a strike out waiting to happen. To wit, the O’s have played 22 games thus far and Davis has struck out at least twice in ten of them.

Davis has whiffed 33 times thus far. And he has five RBI in 22 games. Caleb Joseph has two RBI this season, three fewer than Davis. So, there’s that.

At some point, let’s hope the injuries clear up and Showalter can work with something that resembles a consistent lineup against righties and lefties. Throwing a different group of players out there every other day isn’t helping matters much, in my opinion.

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penguins rattle caps, trotz in
6-2 game-two win


It’s pretty evident by now that there’s something about the Pittsburgh Penguins that just doesn’t mesh well with the Washington Capitals.

Saturday night at the Verizon Center, the Penguins held for dear life in the first period, created a couple of nice goals in the second period, then scored three more times in the final stanza to win 6-2 and take a commanding 2-0 series lead over Barry Trotz’s team.

It’s not over, yet, but if the Caps were playing “horse” with the Penguins, they’d have H, O and R at this point. The next two games are in Pittsburgh, so Washington obviously needs to steal at least one victory up there or their season is over.

The 2-0 series deficit isn’t surprising, of course.

After struggling a bit early in the Maple Leafs series, Braden Holtby turned things around and was the difference in the Game 5 and Game 6 wins over Toronto. The Caps could use the same formula from him in the Pittsburgh series.

It’s the Capitals. And the playoffs. Those two are about as comfortable together as Dan Duquette and Jose Bautista.

Saturday night’s game was a wild one. The Caps completely dominated the first period, but couldn’t solve Marc-Andre Fleury in the Pittsburgh goal.

In a scene eerily similar to the previous series against Toronto, Washington's offense created lots of chances but they weren't able to put the puck in the net. Yes, Fleury was terrific in the first period, no doubt about it. But the likes of Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Oshie and Williams are paid to score goals. They couldn't score one in the opening twenty minutes on Saturday.

The Penguins then tallied three times in the second period and Washington netminder Braden Holtby was lifted by coach Barry Trotz. That didn’t help.

Philipp Grubauer gave up two goals in the first five minutes of the third period and that was the ballgame.

I don’t think Holtby staying in the game would have made the difference, but yanking him was a panic move by Barry Trotz, who is searching for something -- anything -- to right the ship. Holtby surrendered a soft third goal, yes, but pulling him was an unnecessary reaction.

It’s fair to wonder how much the six-game series with the Toronto Maple Leafs took out of the Capitals. Toronto made Washington work for everything they got in that series and by nature of the five overtime games alone, they played a lot more hockey than they probably intended when they found themselves up against the Maple Leafs in round one.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, easily disposed of Columbus in five games.

The Penguins have been better in this series, by far. There’s no arguing that point. Their goaltender has outplayed the Caps goaltender. Their defensive players have put forth more effort and showed more grit than the Caps. And their offense has finished their chances much better than Washington has finished their opportunities.

Pittsburgh's been better, plain and simple.

Despite what Twitter says, the series is NOT over. A Game 3 win for Washington would shift the momentum back to the Caps, guarantee at least one more home game, and perhaps unsettle the Penguins just enough to give Ovechkin and Company a puncher's chance of rebounding in the series.

But if the whole thing unravels up there and the Capitals somehow get swept in four games by Pittsburgh, that will force the organization to take a long, deep look at how they're shaping the team. President's Trophy be damned if you can't get win a few playoff series' and get to the Stanley Cup Final. There's a lot of hockey left, but a sweep might necessitate some sweeping personnel changes (no pun intended), in my opinion.

Trotz needs to come up with something at this point that makes a difference, whether that's reconfiguring the lines, calling them a bunch of rotten, stinkin' bums or letting them all go out tonight in Pittsburgh and close down one of the few bars up there that hasn't been shut down by the health department.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Trotz got really desperate last night when he yanked Holtby and turned the game over to Grubauer. The head coach is just as responsible for this as anyone, so it's up to him to figure something out. Quickly.

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Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a "terrace level" game ticket with everyone else who is traveling in our group.

And get this, we recently added another great benefit to the package: You pay nothing at the concession stands!! That's right, everyone in our travel group gets access to an unlimited in-game buffet, featuring typical "ballpark food" like hot dogs, sausages, chips, pretzels, snacks, etc., plus water and soft drinks. No more spending $20-$25 every time you go to the concession stand.

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Saturday
April 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 29
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


ravens 2017: bet the under


If I didn't know better, I'd think the Ravens were just straight trolling their fan base at this point.

Three more picks on day two of the 2017 NFL Draft, three more defensive players. They've now selected four players in total thus far, none of which play offense.

I don't get it.

Then again, I don't have to get it. I'm not the one doing the player-selecting and it's not my job on the line if it doesn't work out.

But sometimes I do wonder if Ozzie Newsome has been watching NFL games for the last half dozen years.

How on earth are the Ravens going to score any points this season? It's fair to note there's another day of drafting on the horizon this afternoon/evening and there are always going to training camp cuts to consider, but what you get there are mainly leftovers. The NFL Draft is still offering the full buffet. Don't leave hungry.

The Ravens, I think we'd all admit, are starving for offensive players and good ones at that. I'm not sure how they're going to compete with the likes of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in 2017 unless they just plan on field-goal'ing them to do death and beating them 12-10.

Mike Wallace better have an All-Pro season for the Ravens in 2017. The Ravens offense will rely a lot on the veteran pass catcher, it would seem.

In case you missed it on Friday, here's who the Ravens selected:

Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston -- Some say he's one of the top two or three "prospects" in the draft, but he's not NFL ready yet. I don't like the sound of that.

Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan -- Could be an immediate fill-in for the departed Lawrence Guy.

Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama -- With Bowser and Williams, Newsome is working hard at getting a quality "quarterback chaser" in place for 2017.

Those three players all look useful, mind you. Bowser comes highly promoted, although, as I noted, there are some who say he's still a work in progress. The Ravens wouldn't have taken any of them if they were bums, that much I know.

But none of them can catch, run or add points to the scoreboard. That's what worries me.

I'm certain the Ravens will load up on offensive players today, but unless they happen to uncover a diamond (or two) in the rough -- which they might -- this draft will come and go without much help for Joe Flacco and Marty Mornhinweg.

Do the Ravens really expect to beat teams in the NFL with a receiving corps of Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman and Chris Moore? Not only are those three entirely unconcerning as a group, but what if Wallace pulls a hamstring in week one?

Oh, and the Ravens still don't have a quality right offensive tackle to throw out there on opening day, either. Where's the help for Flacco in that regard?

During my weekly appearance on "Glenn Clark Radio" Friday, Clark and I discussed the first-round selection of Marlon Humphrey. I said I thought the Ravens should have selected O.J. Howard with that pick. Clark agreed. "I don't dislike the Humphrey pick," Clark said. "I dislike our current roster."

That was a great way of summing it up, I thought. I'm on board with the same sentiment. I'm not anti-Marlon Humphrey. His pedigree being what it is, it's likely he'll be a good NFL player. What I don't like, though, is passing on an offensive playmaker and using that pick for a cornerback.

Yes, I'm well aware the Ravens have a bunch of tight ends on their roster, including a handful of recent draft picks (Gillmore, Boyle, Williams). None of those guys are all that good, frankly. I don't care if we take another tight end -- or two -- as long as they're better than what we have now.

I thought the Ravens should have taken O.J. Howard on Thursday night in round one. I bet Joe Flacco did, too.

I'm sure Flacco is too proud to admit he needs some help, but this Ravens offense is looking pretty suspect at this point. Yes, defense is definitely critical in the NFL these days, but putting points on the board is where it's at.

You can try to hold teams to 10 or 13 points per-game and you'll be able to do that occasionally, but in today's NFL you better be able to score in the 20's on a regular basis to be successful. And, as Atlanta and New England showed a year ago, reaching 30 points or more consistently is what the Super Bowl teams do these days.

New England hit the 30-point mark eight times in the regular season and all three times in the post-season en-route to winning last year's Super Bowl.

Atlanta averaged 33 points per-game in 2016.

The Ravens might not score 30 points in their first three games this coming season. Total.

Sure, I'm over-playing this to make a point, but I just don't understand what the Ravens think they're going to be able to do offensively without any playmakers to help out.

Here are your two keys for the Ravens in 2017. Bet the under -- and hope Justin Tucker doesn't get hurt.

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that o's loss left a mark


Well, that series opener in the Bronx last night started off swimmingly. The Birds jumped out to a 5-0 lead and extended it to 9-1 in the 6th inning.

Mark Trumbo came alive, big time, with a 3-for-6 night and a grand slam to stake Baltimore to that 8-run lead.

It was 11-4 in favor of the Orioles heading to the bottom of the 7th.

Game over, right?

Nope.

The Yankees stormed back to eventually tie the game at 11-11 in the bottom of the ninth when Brad Brach got blown up for a game-tying 2-run homer by Starlin Castro, then won it in the 10th on a 3-run bomb from Matt Holliday.

The Yankees welcome Matt Holliday to home plate in the bottom of the 10th inning last night after his 3-run home run gave New York an improbable 14-11 win over the Birds.

The Orioles got Orioles'd on Friday night, as New York hit five home runs off of Baltimore pitching, including a grand slam by Jacoby Ellsbury.

Kevin Gausman got the start for the O's and his stat line looked like it has most of this season to date: Six innings, eight hits, five earned runs, three strikeouts and two walks. Not very good.

The Baltimore bullpen -- which, honestly, gets a pass for that fiasco last night based on what they've done this season to date -- was lit up like a doobie at a Dave Matthews Band concert. Vidal Nuno was rocked, as were both Brach and Jayson Acquino, who was the victim of Holliday's game-winning dinger.

Here's the good news: That won't happen to the Orioles again in 2017. They're not going to blow any more 9-1 leads.

The bad news? They blew that one last night. And it will sting for a while, or at least until this afternoon when the same two teams tee it up at Yankee Stadium. Ubaldo Jimenez gets the start for the O's today. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...

There were some bright spots on Friday night, though. Both Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo had huge nights at the plate. Trumbo hit the aforementioned grand slam and Machado was 3-for-5 with a monster 470-foot home run that staked the O's to a 5-0 lead in the fifth inning.

If those two can break out of their season-long slump and get going, there won't be many losses in the immediate future for Buck Showalter's team.

Oddly, though, I hate seeing Machado do well in Yankee Stadium. I can just picture him going to some fancy Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village after the game and a couple of wealthy New Yorkers fresh off of a $400 bottle of cabernet sauvignon stopping by his table on their way out to mention how great it would be to see to Machado in pinstripes in a few years.

Three days of that kind of adoration in the Big Apple isn't good for Machado, I fear. And you know he gets it every time the Birds visit New York. He can't take a leak in the main lobby bathroom at the Westin without someone looking over and saying, "Sure hope you're playing for the Yankees soon."

I realize Machado doesn't need to be primed for his imminent cash-haul, but the less he hears from New Yorkers about how much they want him playing in Yankee Stadium, the better. And then, he hits a huge home run and gets back on track offensively up there, albeit in a loss.

I can just hear him now after the game. "I don't know...I just see the ball so well in this stadium for some reason."

That's why I'm OK with a 4-3 Orioles win today and an 0-for-4 day for Machado at the plate. The same goes for Sunday's series finale. I'd love to see the Birds win and Machado go 0-fer.

Let him heat up in Boston or anywhere else. But Machado hitting well in New York isn't a good thing.

KELLY banner ad

orioles-yankees one-day trip
available at an amazing price!


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

If so, go with us! #DMD has an awesome one-day trip package available now. It's so good, you'll say "What's the catch?". Well, there isn't one.

Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a "terrace level" game ticket with everyone else who is traveling in our group.

And get this, we recently added another great benefit to the package: You pay nothing at the concession stands!! That's right, everyone in our travel group gets access to an unlimited in-game buffet, featuring typical "ballpark food" like hot dogs, sausages, chips, pretzels, snacks, etc., plus water and soft drinks. No more spending $20-$25 every time you go to the concession stand.

What's it all cost: $149 per-person. That gets you EVERYTHING, including the bus driver's gratuity.

If you're looking for a good early Father's Day gift, this is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

Please go here to reserve your spots.

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Friday
April 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 28
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


we'll know if humphrey was the right pick when...


I loved the reaction from Ravens fans near and far last night when the card was turned in and Marlon Humphrey was announced as the team's first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

I wouldn't say the masses were outraged. Far from it. But the overall feeling was one of "mixed emotions", based mainly on the fact that guys like O.J. Howard, Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster were still on the board and available at the time of Baltimore's selection in the first round.

"We took a guy we didn't even bring in for a visit. WTF?" someone asked on Twitter in the aftermath of the Humphrey pick.

Admittedly, that might be a first for the Ravens. I don't know, I'll have to ask a friend or two at 1 Winning Drive and see if that's true. If it is, that's definitely an oddity given that the Ravens put so much stock in character and personality.

No one was all that shocked that the Ravens went with a player from Alabama in last night's first round of the draft, but no one had Marlon Humphrey going to Baltimore on their mock draft board.

But I'm sure they just figured from the outset that Humphrey wouldn't be available to them at 16. Most "experts" had Humphrey going before the 10th pick in the first round.

Here's the thing, though, and I say this as someone who drafted roughly 50 players in my tenure as a soccer general manager in the 1990's. There is no way of knowing if these guys are ready for the "next level" until a number of things happen to them, none of which, in any way, you can rehearse or otherwise expose them to in advance of showing up in training camp.

And before you say, "these guys have played in college football, they know what it's all about", please understand that playing in college and playing in the pro ranks is like playing chess against your next door neighbor or going up to Central Park and playing against New York's best chess masterminds. They're not the same thing.

It's still chess, yes. The rook can only move straight -- backwards and forwards -- in your neighbor's kitchen just like it can in New York City. But the game is different up there.

The NFL game is much different than the college game.

Marlon Humphrey might turn out to be another Jimmy Smith, except let's hope he doesn't miss five games per-season like Smith tends to do every year.

Or Humphrey could turn out to be Matt Elam.

We won't know that until...

Now that Steve Smith Sr. is gone maybe there won't be a training camp skirmish every other day, but let's see how Humphrey reacts the first time one of the veteran receivers or tight ends smacks him upside the head in practice because the rookie grabs a little too much jersey while he's covering them.

Is he tough enough to stand up to Mike Wallace or will Humphrey back down?

What happens the first time John Harbaugh admonishes him for a missed assignment or Dean Pees yells out, "C'mon son, you have to sink your hips when you're making that turn upfield or you lose a half a step and the guy is going to fly past you."? Does Humphrey take it a like a professional or does he sulk afterwards?

There's a chance Humphrey won't be a starter on opening day in Cincinnati. What then? He's been a stud football player for as long as he can remember. How will he react if he has to stand around and watch the game for a half-a-season while someone like Tavon Young plays ahead of him. Does Humphrey take it in stride or does he brood?

And if he does play against the Bengals, what's Humphrey's reaction going to be if John Ross goes blazing past him in the first quarter and collects a 53 yard touchdown throw from Andy Dalton late in the first quarter? Does he go in the tank for the rest of the game or does he dig down and hold his own thereafter?

What's going to happen the first time Humphrey gets a Friday text at 6:30 pm that reads, "Hey, bruh, how about we go out and chase after a couple of cute Baltimore hunnies tonight?" Does he hop in the shower, freshen up, and head out on the town? Or does he shoot his teammate a "no thanks" text -- "I can't do it, dawg. Got a big game on Sunday against the Raiders. Gotta be ready."?

When he gets lit up once or twice in the first six weeks and the callers bombard the FM radio station in town with critical comments, does Humphrey shrug it off as part of the job or does he have rabbit ears and get pissed off by it all?

We don't know the answer to any of the questions or scenarios I posed above. There's no way of telling what's going to happen with Humphrey or any player in the league until they experience it all for the first or second time.

Watch as much game film as you want from his days at Alabama, but Humphrey was playing against the JV in those games. The NFL is the varsity game. Bigger, faster, stronger, much more angry and mean. That sums up the difference between college football and the NFL.

There's a lot more at stake now. What you have under the hood really matters. And we can't peak under the hood until you bring the car into the garage in August, September, October, etc.

You can say "great pick" all you want -- on any player -- but the reality is, you have no real way of knowing.

Myles Garrett certainly looks like a can't-miss prospect for the Browns.

But, all kidding aside, he's already behind the eight-ball because he was selected by Cleveland. Not only does Garrett have to climb the NFL ladder as a rookie playing in a man's league, but he now has to do it while losing 13 or 14 games with the Browns next season. How will he react when his team starts the year 0-9?

The other side of the coin is always in play for those "kids" who were picked last night. Unless you went to the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Florida State or Notre Dame, you probably didn't make a lot of money during your college football days. How a rookie reacts to money and his new-found wealth is also a critical part of their growth and development. And you just don't know about that until they see that signing bonus hit their account in a few months.

My wife said something not only hilariously funny, but extremely poignant last night while she spent ten minutes in the living room with me watching the Draft.

As we watched the room he was in light up with excitement when Mike Williams was selected by the Chargers, my wife -- in no way considered a sports fan -- said, "I don't understand. Why don't they just call these guys on the phone and say, 'Hi, we're with the Chargers. We're drafting you tonight. We'll send you the details about practice that starts in a couple of weeks. Thank you, have a great night.'"

I most certainly couldn't argue with her.

I mean, I could have explained to her that the Draft has become big business in the NFL and for the various talking heads and TV networks who showcase the whole thing for the next few days.

But arguing with her when she's wrong is a difficult enough challenge, let alone when she's right. In this case, she was probably right. A simple phone call -- like they did in the old days -- would more than suffice. But it's the NFL. Everything is blown out of proportion.

So, the Ravens got their man, although most definitely not the one everyone suspected they'd get. Marlon Humphrey seems like a logical, sensible pick, particularly given Baltimore's needs in the secondary and acknowledging that both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have legit receiving corps.

But we're not going to know for sure if Humphrey was a smarter pick than Howard, Allen or Foster until we see how the kid from Alabama reacts to everything he's about to face in the NFL.

Then, and only then, will we be able to make an assessment.

By the way, I flipped over to the Caps-Penguins game for a minute during the Draft and when I returned, I saw a big guy standing on stage with a little baby in his arms.

"Hmmm," I said to myself. "The Browns must know something about that little baby that no else knows."

Turns out, the baby belonged to Garett Bolles, an offensive lineman selected by the Denver Broncos. There for a minute, though, I thought the Browns might have pulled a draft day rabbit out of their hat.

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caps fall to penguins in series opener, 3-2


Before I review last night's game, let me first say I took to Twitter mid-day on Thursday and predicted the Caps will beat the Penguins in 7 games in this Eastern Conference Semi-Final the two teams are playing.

It would be very Capitals-like for Washington to win this series against Pittsburgh and then lose to Ottawa in the next round, once again denying themselves a chance at their first ever Stanley Cup title. But I do have the Caps winning this Pittsburgh series, for the record.

If they are going to win it, they'll have to come back from a 1-0 series deficit to do so. Pittsburgh won Game 1 last night in D.C., 3-2.

Two goals for Sidney Crosby helped Pittsburgh slip past the Caps last night in Game 1 of their playoff series at the Verizon Center.

Sidney Crosby scored twice within a minute for the Penguins early in the second period, the Caps knotted it at 2-2 after two periods, but the Penguins knocked one in with seven minutes and change left in the game to win the opener.

A bunch of people on Twitter whined about the officiating, but the Caps scored two goals. At home. You probably should lose if that's the best you can do, particularly when you have the supposed firepower they have in that Caps locker room.

Marc-Andre Fleury made several sensational saves in the game's final five minutes to keep it at 3-2. I didn't see much of the in-game action because I was glued to the NFL Draft, but when I did pop over with about five minutes remaining I saw Fleury standing on his head for the rest of the contest.

There's a quirky stat that simply must be mentioned when it comes to the Penguins and Capitals in the playoffs.

Washington is 1-8 in nine lifetime post-season encounters with the Penguins. Yes, that's terrible.

Here's the thing, though. Prior to last night, the Caps were 8-1 in Game 1 of those respective series' vs. Pittsburgh.

Explain that one, will ya?

Now they're 8-2 in Game 1 action vs. the Penguins, but the trend is there for all to see. The Caps typically win the first game but go on to lose the series.

Maybe this year it turns out to be the opposite. Lose the first game, win the series.

The only issue with losing Game 1 at home is that it now squarely puts all the pressure on the Capitals in Game 2 on Saturday night at the Verizon Center. It doesn't become a "must win" scenario -- you know how I am about using "must win" -- but it certainly falls under the "critically important that the Caps win" category.

Someone asked me yesterday what I thought the Caps were going to do for the rest of the playoffs. "I have no idea," I replied. "But we all know it's going to end in heartbreak, somehow."

It always does.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The Ravens, and the Draft, threw everyone a curveball last night and ultimately the Ravens took a bit of a gamble at a premium spot.

While most Ravens' fans and bloggers were itching for a wide receiver's name to be called at the 16th pick, those hopes were dashed when Corey Davis, Mike Williams, and John Ross were all selected in the first nine picks.

That most mock drafts didn't have any of those guys even going in the top 10 goes to show what a premium the league is putting on wide receivers, and just how out of line with everyone else the Ravens are in that area. It's not their fault that they couldn't grab one of those playmakers given how early they went, but it does go to show how exposed they left themselves by not adding a receiver in free agency.

But surprises create opportunity in the draft, and between those three picks and three quarterbacks going in the first 12 picks, big defensive names started falling down the board. When the Colts selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker one pick ahead of the Ravens, it left consensus top ten prospects Jonathan Allen (DE), Reuben Foster (LB), and O.J. Howard (TE) sitting there for Ozzie to take. And all of them went to Alabama to boot!

And while no one was shocked to hear a Bama player's name called, none of us expected it to be cornerback Marlon Humphrey over any of those options.

But "surprise" doesn't mean it's a bad choice, and Humphrey is obviously an attractive option for the Ravens. He brings prototypical size and speed to the corner position, and he's a phenomenal athlete with one of the highest motors in the draft.

Watching him on film or game day you see a player who never quits, and often ends up making plays even after he's already been beat. That tremendous athleticism covers up a lot of his mistakes, not that he makes a lot of those. Oddly enough, though, he does have legitimate problems when it comes to playing the deep ball, in art because he doesn't show any real feel for the ball in the air.

Humphrey has a lot of potential as a cover cornerback, but I wouldn't expect to see a lot of interceptions from him.

But mostly, I'm encouraged by what this pick says about the thinking of the 1 Winning Drive brain trust. Drew likes to bring up Ozzie's motto about taking layers who touch the ball or touch the quarterback, but of course there's a lot of derivative lessons you can take from that. Last year the Ravens got a good looking young player to stop those guys who want to touch your quarterback, and this year they're taking a top notch athlete to stop the guys who touch the ball.

With the growing premium on receivers who can make plays on and with the ball (even Bill Belichick effectively devoted a first round pick to a receiver this year), cornerbacks who can shut those guys down go up on value as well.

There's an argument to be made that the Ravens should have taken Allen, who was widely regarded as the second best player in the draft, or Foster, a heady playmaker in the middle who drew serious comparisons to Ray Lewis. But Allen had injury issues and the Ravens likely haven't given up on guys like Zadarius Smith, Kamalei Correa, and Bronson Kafusi, while Foster lays in the middle of the field and the Ravens need much more help on the edges in the passing game.

And with Humphrey the Ravens are getting a premier athlete at a position that puts a premium on athleticism, and has a legitimate chance of developing into one of the very best cornerbacks in the NFL in a few years. When you're competing in a division with Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, it's awfully hard to argue with a pick like that.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

After narrowly avoiding the drop over the last three seasons, Sunderland appear to have finally run out of lives as the Black Cats fell in their relegation showdown with Middlesbrough to fall thirteen points from safety as we enter Matchday 35 of the English Premier League. We will still have two additional teams drop down to the Championship before the seasons end, but this week will be focused on the title race and the remaining teams vying for a spot in the top four. With all of the action available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra, tune in to see where each side will land as we enter the final month of the season.

Sunday, April 30 (all times eastern)

7 am – Swansea City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

While the title race this season set to go through London, the final place in the top four will likely wind through the town of Manchester, as City and United split the points in a relatively tame Manchester Derby to remain separated by only a point and sitting fourth and fifth place in the table respectively. With City making the trip to an increasingly desperate second from the bottom Middlesbrough, United will know they will have to take all three points if they hope to keep pace with their rivals when they welcome Swansea City to Old Trafford to kick off a busy Sunday slate of fixtures.

The Swans managed to grab all three points for the first time in their last six league games (L5 D1) when they got past Stoke City 2-0, but found themselves still stuck in the bottom three after Hull City pulled off the impossible and shipped two goals past Watford after going down to ten men to move two points clear of the Welsh side and just outside of the relegation zone. They will hope to take advantage of an injury riddled and exhausted United side, who have won the last two meetings between the clubs and four of the last five at Old Trafford (L1), but who will be playing their fourth game in just ten days.

9:05 am – Chelsea @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

Chelsea followed up their weekend victory over Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinals with a convincing 4-2 victory over Southampton in the mid-week to temporarily extend their advantage over the relentless Spurs to seven points in the league table. With a total of twelve points now needed over their final five games to lock up the title, they will face the most difficult fixture remaining on their schedule when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton, who remained unbeaten in their last four and with only one loss in their last seven in the league (W4 D2) when they played to a scoreless draw with West Ham.

The Toffees were dismantled 5-0 in the reverse fixture back in November but this time around they get Chelsea at Goodison Park, where they have ripped off eight wins in a row and have won three of the last four meetings with the Blues (L1), and in the midst of a rich vein of form in the seasons second half that has seen them come away empty handed in only two of their fifteen contests and unbeaten in their last three meetings across all competitions with the league leaders, much to Tottenham’s delight coming away with all three points in two of those fixtures.

11:30 am – Arsenal @ Spurs – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

Arsenal needs a big win on Saturday vs. Tottenahm to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four alive in the English Premier League.

After being stymied by an organized Crystal Palace defense for almost eighty minutes, Tottenham finally found the breakthrough they needed with Christian Eriksen’s dipping strike from just outside the penalty area giving Spurs all three points and once again cutting Chelsea’s lead at the top to four points. With the Blues facing a potentially tricky trip to Everton, they will hope to make up ground when they welcome arch rivals Arsenal to White Hart Lane for a massive North London Derby, with the Gunner’s keeping their top four hopes alive with a late 1-0 victory over Leicester City.

After enduring a disastrous start to the New Year in the league and a feeble exit from the Champions League final sixteen for the sixth consecutive season, Arsenal booked their place in the FA Cup final at the weekend and have now won three of their last four in the league (L1). With a game in hand over Manchester United and Manchester City, and two games in hand over third place Liverpool, they will hope to continue their last-ditch effort at a spot in the top four and spoil their arch rivals title aspirations where they have dropped only one of their last four visits across town (W2 D1).


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Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a "terrace level" game ticket with everyone else who is traveling in our group.

And get this, we recently added another great benefit to the package: You pay nothing at the concession stands!! That's right, everyone in our travel group gets access to an unlimited in-game buffet, featuring typical "ballpark food" like hot dogs, sausages, chips, pretzels, snacks, etc., plus water and soft drinks. No more spending $20-$25 every time you go to the concession stand.

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Thursday
April 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 27
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ripping out your own heart can't be easy


ESPN is familiar with delivering bad news from within the world of sports.

Just yesterday, for example, they were quick to broadcast the unsettling news concerning Gareon Conley, who is being investigated in Cleveland on a sexual assault case. Conley was expected to be a first-round pick in tonight’s NFL Draft until ESPN and other news outlets splashed his face and story on their front pages.

Interestingly, though, ESPN didn’t publicize their own bad news on Wednesday.

Throughout the morning and afternoon yesterday, talented reporters, writers and editors took to social media to say their goodbyes after being laid off by the “world wide leader in sports” earlier in the day.

Over 100 people got the boot on Wednesday.

And not that it matters, because anyone who gets fired is a someone, but these were heavy hitters who got the heave-ho on Wednesday. They didn't fire Caleb Joseph in Bristol yesterday. They fired Mark Trumbo.

The network -- in full damage control -- tried to portray the departures as “lay offs”, but that’s just a fancy word for “fired”.

A combination of over-extending themselves within the broadcast rights world and poor advertising sales were the catalysts for yesterday’s bloodbath. They’ve also lost 10 million subscribers over the last three years. At roughly $6.00 per-person, you can see where they’d be hurting when ten million contributors suddenly go bye-bye.

A $12 billion deal ESPN signed with the NBA a few years back has also been particularly crippling. The $15 billion deal with the NFL has turned out to be successful because the advertising dollars quickly followed. But that NBA deal was a stinker from jump-street.

Who knew, right? You mean a gazillion folks aren’t watching the overhyped, watered-down product the NBA offers from November through June every year? I’m shocked. I’m sure you are, too.

With no wiggle room contractually, ESPN had no option yesterday but to hand out a barrel full of pink slips. I’m sure the bench warmers in the NBA who make $3.4 million a year are mortified by it all.

ESPN lost a wealth of talent yesterday. Folks like Jayson Stark – one of the best baseball journalists in the country, period – Ed Werder and Paul Kuharsky were relieved of their duties, each through no fault of his own, mind you.

But when the revenue starts to dry up and the expenses continue to grow, the suits with the summer homes and fancy cars start to get nervous. And that’s when people lose their jobs.

Anyone who has ever been on the bad end of one of those “mass firings” can sympathize with the former group at ESPN who were jettisoned on Wednesday.

When you don’t know it’s coming, it’s particularly stunning, as I can attest from personal experience. I was one of five people who were shown the door in August of 2014, a 25-minute head-chopping session that no one expected.

Five people might not be considered a “mass firing” until you realize the company we all worked for at the time had eight total employees -- until the five of us were dismissed, that is.

Those 100 or so who were fired on Wednesday all had unique stories, I’m sure. We might not ever hear about them, but you can bet, for sure, that nearly all of those fired yesterday would be better off WITH a job than WITHOUT one.

Our fired five included a guy with a wife who was five months pregnant and a female who had recently signed a lease with a new roommate in downtown Baltimore. Those sad stories happen everywhere, every day, but rarely wind up trickling down to the point where they become household news.

Someone at ESPN who was canned yesterday probably just started paying a new mortgage last month. Someone’s daughter just got accepted to an Ivy League school and that $68,000 tuition bill still comes whether ESPN keeps you or fires you. Look behind every screen door and there’s a story that you’d rather not hear or learn about.

But the suits can’t let any of that get in the way of business.

To be fair, the difference between the mass firings at the radio station in 2014 and yesterday’s news from ESPN are significantly different. Our station was suffering from a large drop-off in advertising sales, thanks in part to a blossoming FM competitor with big bucks set aside for talent acquisition and a well-organized, hungry sales-staff. With no cash on hand to revamp and upgrade our station's organization, the path deemed best at that point was to cut, cut, cut (and cut, cut).

We could sit around the campfire for hours and talk about “why” it happened that way, but it did.

ESPN, one would assume, is still making money. But they've gone from really, really, really wealthy to "doing very well for themselves" in a relatively short amount of time. They probably never thought the day would come when they themselves would be accused of running a poor organization in almost the same way they've done with sports teams, owners and general managers. But through a series of poor business decisions and perhaps an overzealous hiring pattern, here they are, looking to reinvent themselves and do it in a way that they become mega-profitable again.

Unlike our little radio station, who had just one owner in control, keeping the books and running the operation, ESPN -- through their parent company -- has share holders to answer to that couldn't care less whether Dana O'Neill is butt hurt about losing her gig as the network's women's college basketball reporter.

ESPN essentially just became too big, too involved and too dominant for their own good. They went from waking up with us every morning and showing the highlights from last night's games in an interesting, funny and informative way to wanting to run the sports world.

They didn’t want to be the big fish in a small pond or a big fish in a big pond. They wanted to be the ONLY fish in the pond.

Yesterday, they admitted for the first time they might have taken on too much, too soon.

And a hundred or more families paid the price for it.

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and the ravens select...


File this one under "Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't we?".

Just for kicks and giggles, I'll take a stab at the first 32 picks in tonight's opening round of the NFL Draft. I posted 1-15 yesterday, which included Gareon Conley going at #14 to the Eagles. The news we learned about Conley yesterday might alter that Philadelphia pick, but I'm not changing it here.

The entire first round is published below.

#1 (Cleveland): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M -- For once, the Browns do something right.

#2 (San Francisco): Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama -- Don't be surprised if the 49'ers trade out of this pick.

#3 (Chicago): Jamal Adams, S, LSU -- That bad Bears defense gets a little better.

#4 (Jacksonville): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford -- Poor guy's career just got ruined on day one.

The Ravens might be hoping Mike Williams is available to them with the 16th pick but in #DMD's mock draft, the talented Clemson wide receiver will be in Carolina next season.

#5 (Tennessee): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State -- Best CB in the draft will help the Titans.

#6 (NY Jets): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU -- Jets need offensive help, Fournette gives it to them.

#7 (LA Chargers): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State -- L.A.'s defense stunk in 2016, so Hooker is a natural pick here.

#8 (Carolina): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson -- Cam Newton gets some much-needed help.

#9 (Cincinnati): Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford -- The Bengals might actually stumble their way to a good player here.

#10 (Buffalo): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee -- Bills need help everywhere, but Barnett is a game-changer.

#11 (New Orleans): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan -- Another quality rush-end off the board makes the Ravens frown.

#12 (Cleveland): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina -- The Browns need a QB and this guy apparently is now everyone's favorite.

#13 (Arizona): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama -- When you can get the best "something" in the draft, get him. Howard's the best tight end, by far.

#14 (Philadelphia): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State -- Eagles need secondary help. Conley is an immediate upgrade.

Wide receiver options will still be on the board for the Ravens, but Cam Robinson will be too good for Ozzie Newsome to pass up. Oh, and he played for Alabama, which always helps.

#15 (Indianapolis): Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri -- Indy could take Reuben Foster here, but they go "safe" with Harris.

#16 (Baltimore): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama -- Lots of choices here, including Corey Davis or John Ross, but the Ravens find their replacement for Ricky Wagner, which also gives Alex Lewis the opportunity to play at his natural guard position next year. This isn't a bad pick by any means. It's not flashy and the Baltimore wide receiving corps still needs help, which I assume they'll get in later rounds, but Robinson makes sense for a Ravens offensive line that needs a quality tackle and center through this draft.

#17 (Washington): Haason Reddick, LB, Temple -- I wouldn't be completely surprised to see Reddick go one pick higher to the Ravens at 16, but if Reddick is available at 17, the 'Skins get him.

#18 (Tennessee): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama -- If the Titans get Lattimore and Foster in this draft, they're immediately much better on defense. Much better.

#19 (Tampa Bay): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan -- Jameis Winston gets some much needed help.

#20 (Denver): Garett Bolles, OT, Utah -- The Broncos really need offensive line help and Bolles is definitely a first-round talent.

#21 (Detroit): T.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin -- Hard to pass on one of college's top "hybrid" players, especially when he's in your neck of the woods.

#22 (Miami): Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt -- That bad Miami defense needs a lot of help. Cunningham is a good start.

#23 (NY Giants): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama -- The Giants will be shocked to see Humphrey available to them at this late stage.

#24 (Oakland): John Ross, WR, Washington -- Oh boy, another weapon for Derek Carr. Just what the rest of the AFC needs.

#25 (Houston): Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech -- Houston is probably a decent quarterback away from being a perennial contender in the AFC South.

#26 (Seattle): Kevin King, CB, Washington -- The local pick makes sense here as the 'Hawks start to revamp their defense.

#27 (Kansas City): Forrest Lamp, OG/C, Western Kentucky -- Andy Reid loves those "trench" players and Lamp is definitely a good one.

#28 (Dallas): Adoree Jackson, CB, USC -- Jackson might wind up going higher, but if he's there at #28, Dallas will snag him.

#29 (Green Bay): Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma -- Aaron Rodgers will begging for this pick. Anything to help his tired, aching arm.

#30 (Pittsburgh): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan -- The Steelers always need secondary help. Peppers can step in and play right away.

#31 (Atlanta): Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina -- Roddy White's recent retirement makes this pick a natural one for Atlanta.

#32 (New Orleans): Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State -- Too many games giving up 30 points or more can't be ignored by the Saints.

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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.


i like ‘em all, but gimme baseball


Baseball is the best sport.

Football is definitely the national obsession, or in the case of college football, at least a regional obsession. There’s the chance of a story about the Ravens, or Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide, appearing in the local newspaper 365 days a year. Somebody please tell me why that has to be the case.

Basketball at the pro level is the game featuring our biggest superstars, having been marketed that way intentionally and with great success. It’s also America’s biggest sports export, the game we started and then popularized around the world.

Hockey is the best sport to watch live, assuming you have a good seat. Even if you know nothing about the game, seeing the skill exhibited by players whizzing around the ice on thin blades never ceases to amaze.

I shall never disparage the game of golf anywhere, especially on this page; it has given me some great memories and challenges in adulthood. Nor will I criticize tennis, which did the same for me in childhood, or in case Glenn Clark happens to be reading this.

I’ll say this about soccer: it’s cliché for an American to spend any time disparaging it, and it’s equally cliché for fanboys wearing their Tottenham jerseys to spend all their time telling us that we just can’t appreciate it. It is what it is.

Personally, I love college basketball. I have a history with it. I can watch Akron play Kent State on a Friday night on ESPNU. But it’s not even close to being the best sport.

Baseball is the best sport.

I came to this realization a few weeks ago, when I was sitting in Section 14 at Camden Yards, watching Orioles-Yankees on a Sunday afternoon.

I think it was the proximity to the field, being right behind first base with two left-handers pitching and sitting in prime foul ball territory for right-handed hitters, or maybe just the fact that Wade Miley was wild and throwing a lot more pitches than usual.

There was a lot going on, even when nothing seemed to be happening. I noticed it, and I saw it in a few others seated near me. We had an understanding, even without speaking to each other.

That’s what makes it the best. You have to pay attention, intently, to watch a baseball game, more intently than with any other sport, and with greater understanding beforehand of what all of it means. If you don’t, or haven’t, you’re going to get bored.

You’ll get up and walk around the concourse, checking out the newest concession items and craft beers, returning to your seat 30 minutes later and wondering what happened. That would describe one of my companions that day.

If you don’t, but don’t want to be weird about it, you’ll turn your attention to other people in the crowd, or the stadium advertisers, or the ketchup/mustard/relish race, or wondering what J.J. Hardy’s initials stand for. That would describe the other person sitting next to me.

Both of these approaches are viable ones, of course. Baseball stadiums in the 21st century have all the amenities anyone might need to spend the entire day not watching the game, and spending hundreds of dollars to prove it. And any public place filled with so many distractions is bound to be, well, distracting, whether your age is six, 46 or 86. Truth be told, I love the condiment race, mostly because my eyes aren’t good enough to pick the crab under which the baseball is sitting a few innings later.

You can like those things, and still pay attention to the game first and foremost. That’s when you’ll realize how much fun baseball is. But people don’t. They are missing out. Bigly.

Before you get too crazy and start accusing me of being one of those guys who travels with his scorebook, Bill James’s Baseball Abstract, and 100 old copies of The Sporting News, let me explain a little more.

Baseball does have the greatest set of statistics of any of our major sports. That was true before the Moneyball and sabermetric revolutions, and it’s even truer now. There is no other sport in which a player’s statistics are more tied up in his worth, and there is no other sport in which statistics play such a large part in the history of the game.

But statistics aren’t what make baseball great. In the top of the seventh inning in a 3-2 game, with runners on the corners and one out, and the crowd filled with anticipation and/or dread, and the manager wondering whether or not he should have gone to the bullpen, there’s a force that’s difficult to describe. And then there’s a foul ball, and it happens all over again.

Baseball fans also like to talk about the esoteric things, the rules, of which there are many. When a Yankees batter hit an infield pop-up with runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, I immediately blurted out loud “infield fly rule.” When the play was over, maybe a few Dads explained to their kids what that meant.

But the rules aren’t what make baseball great. As complicated as they might seem to somebody from Prague, you can get by just fine with basic knowledge: knowing the difference between a force out and a tag play, learning when a batter is safe or out on a ball hit in play, understanding what constitutes a strike or a ball.

The baseball season is 162 games long. I can’t watch even half that many games, and I’m often in and out of the games that I do watch. I’d love to see every pitch of every Orioles playoff game, but that’s not always easy if the game starts at 8:30. Even the best teams in the league, on average, lose close to 40 percent of their games.

All of which is to say…it’s honestly quite hard to be a baseball fan, harder than it is for any other game. There are too many things to which you have to pay attention. It’s easy to just give up and call it boring. That’s fine; it’s not my place to tell you what bores you and what excites you.

Still, I’ll give you LeBron James and Tiger Woods, the Iron Bowl and Nadal vs. Federer. As great as they all are, I’ll take my seat in Section 14 at Camden Yards over any of them.

Glory
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orioles-yankees one-day trip
available at an amazing price!


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If so, go with us! #DMD has an awesome one-day trip package available now. It's so good, you'll say "What's the catch?". Well, there isn't one.

Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a "terrace level" game ticket with everyone else who is traveling in our group.

And get this, we recently added another great benefit to the package: You pay nothing at the concession stands!! That's right, everyone in our travel group gets access to an unlimited in-game buffet, featuring typical "ballpark food" like hot dogs, sausages, chips, pretzels, snacks, etc., plus water and soft drinks. No more spending $20-$25 every time you go to the concession stand.

What's it all cost: $149 per-person. That gets you EVERYTHING, including the bus driver's gratuity.

If you're looking for a good early Father's Day gift, this is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

Please go here to reserve your spots.



Wednesday
April 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 26
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


when do we start getting nervous about how bad trumbo stinks?


If you're willing to concede that the second half of the 2016 season and the start of the 2017 campaign isn't a "small sample size", we should have a serious chat about Mark Trumbo.

If you're not willing to connect the two and you believe what happened then and what's happening now aren't related at all, then you probably won't find this commentary very appealing.

Here's the deal: Over his last 91 games, Trumbo's production has dropped off dramatically. Before we get to those sad numbers, though, let's revisit what he did last year in the first 90 games of the season. In the first half of 2016, he was on fire, clobbering 28 home runs, hitting .288 and getting on base at a .341 clip.

In the final 72 games of the 2016 season, he hit 19 homers, while his averaged dropped to .214 and his on-base-percentage was a meager .284.

Thus far in 2017? It's worse. He has one home run in 19 games, with an average of .214 and an OBP of .257.

He hasn't hit a home run in 18 straight games.

Add 'em up -- it's not pretty. In his last 91 games, Trumbo has 20 homers, his average is .214 and his OBP is .277. Minus the home runs, that's Caleb Joseph 2.0.

So, let's go back to the headline above and ask the question: When do we start getting nervous about Trumbo's lackluster offensive output?

And, even if do get nervous, what good will it do us?

It's safe to say that something is wrong with Trumbo at the plate, right? 91 games with a batting average of .214 and an on-base-percentage of .277 is terrible. Sure, the 20 home runs help, as do the RBI, but his strikeout to walk ratio is bad, too. This year, he's whiffed 18 times and has walked on just four occasions.

I guess it would be piling on to point to the fact that Trumbo has just four extra base hits thus far in 2017.

But he does. To go with his one homer, he also has three doubles this season.

Maybe we got spoiled by his scorching-hot start of a year ago, when he was one of the American League's top hitters well into late June.

Then he went to the All-Star Game, participated in the Home Run Derby and -- no, I'm not going there. Seriously, I'm not. There's no connection at all to Trumbo's drop-off and his participation in the Home Run Derby. I'm serious, there isn't.

But something's wrong. This is no longer "a bad patch" or a player "not seeing the ball well".

Then again, if you subscribe to the theory that 2016 and 2017 aren't related in the least, you might not be concerned about Trumbo's sluggish start this season.

I'm on the other side of the fence on this one. I think there's a connection of some sort. 72 games last season and 19 games this season is too big of a body of work to ignore.

But I'm not overly nervous -- yet. Let's just say I'm "minimally concerned" at this stage. On a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being "nothing to worry about" and 10 being "this guy might not ever get a meaningful hit again in his career", I'm about a 3.5.

I do think he'll snap out of it, despite last night's 0-for-4, two strikeout performance that included a whiff with the tying run on his bat in the bottom of the 9th inning at Camden Yards.

Trumbo is like the opera. He's better than he appears to be. No productive offensive player can drop off this quickly and this dramatically in less than 12 months.

But what if it doesn't get better? Let's say we're still looking at these numbers in late May. Then what?

I mean, you can make the argument right now that every night Trumbo gets a start is a night where Trey Mancini potentially doesn't get to play, depending on the opposition's starting pitcher, of course.

At this point, who would you rather have at the plate -- Mancini or Trumbo?

That could be an unfair question, too, since Mancini is likely to see some market-correction with his numbers in the not-too-distant-future. Once the book gets out on him -- and traditionally, that comes once every team has seen him once or twice -- Mancini will come back to earth a bit. But thus far in 2017, his numbers are far better than Trumbo's, albeit over a smaller body of work.

Trumbo might go to New York this weekend and bust out with two homers and a 5-for-12 series against the Yankees, then belt two more homers in Boston next week and suddenly have five round trippers on the season and a .264 batting average.

He's bound to break out of it soon.

But if he doesn't start hitting in the next week or so, it might be time to start getting worried.

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and the ravens select...


File this one under "Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't we?".

Just for kicks and giggles, I'll take a stab at the first 32 picks in tonight's opening round of the NFL Draft. I posted 1-15 yesterday, which included Gareon Conley going at #14 to the Eagles. The news we learned about Conley yesterday might alter that Philadelphia pick, but I'm not changing it here.

The entire first round is published below.

#1 (Cleveland): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M -- For once, the Browns do something right.

#2 (San Francisco): Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama -- Don't be surprised if the 49'ers trade out of this pick.

#3 (Chicago): Jamal Adams, S, LSU -- That bad Bears defense gets a little better.

#4 (Jacksonville): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford -- Poor guy's career just got ruined on day one.

The Ravens might be hoping Mike Williams is available to them with the 16th pick but in #DMD's mock draft, the talented Clemson wide receiver will be in Carolina next season.

#5 (Tennessee): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State -- Best CB in the draft will help the Titans.

#6 (NY Jets): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU -- Jets need offensive help, Fournette gives it to them.

#7 (LA Chargers): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State -- L.A.'s defense stunk in 2016, so Hooker is a natural pick here.

#8 (Carolina): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson -- Cam Newton gets some much-needed help.

#9 (Cincinnati): Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford -- The Bengals might actually stumble their way to a good player here.

#10 (Buffalo): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee -- Bills need help everywhere, but Barnett is a game-changer.

#11 (New Orleans): Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan -- Another quality rush-end off the board makes the Ravens frown.

#12 (Cleveland): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina -- The Browns need a QB and this guy apparently is now everyone's favorite.

#13 (Arizona): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama -- When you can get the best "something" in the draft, get him. Howard's the best tight end, by far.

#14 (Philadelphia): Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State -- Eagles need secondary help. Conley is an immediate upgrade.

#15 (Indianapolis): Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri -- Indy could take Reuben Foster here, but they go "safe" with Harris.

#16 (Baltimore): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama -- Lots of choices here, including Corey Davis or John Ross, but the Ravens find their replacement for Ricky Wagner, which also gives Alex Lewis the opportunity to play at his natural guard position next year. This isn't a bad pick by any means. It's not flashy and the Baltimore wide receiving corps still needs help, which I assume they'll get in later rounds, but Robinson makes sense for a Ravens offensive line that needs a quality tackle and center through this draft.

#17 (Washington): Haason Reddick, LB, Temple -- I wouldn't be completely surprised to see Reddick go one pick higher to the Ravens at 16, but if Reddick is available at 17, the 'Skins get him.

#18 (Tennessee): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama -- If the Titans get Lattimore and Foster in this draft, they're immediately much better on defense. Much better.

#19 (Tampa Bay): Corey Davis, WR, Central Michigan -- Jameis Winston gets some much needed help.

#20 (Denver): Garett Bolles, OT, Utah -- The Broncos really need offensive line help and Bolles is definitely a first-round talent.

#21 (Detroit): T.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin -- Hard to pass on one of college's top "hybrid" players, especially when he's in your neck of the woods.

#22 (Miami): Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt -- That bad Miami defense needs a lot of help. Cunningham is a good start.

#23 (NY Giants): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama -- The Giants will be shocked to see Humphrey available to them at this late stage.

#24 (Oakland): John Ross, WR, Washington -- Oh boy, another weapon for Derek Carr. Just what the rest of the AFC needs.

#25 (Houston): Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech -- Houston is probably a decent quarterback away from being a perennial contender in the AFC South.

#26 (Seattle): Kevin King, CB, Washington -- The local pick makes sense here as the 'Hawks start to revamp their defense.

#27 (Kansas City): Forrest Lamp, OG/C, Western Kentucky -- Andy Reid loves those "trench" players and Lamp is definitely a good one.

#28 (Dallas): Adoree Jackson, CB, USC -- Jackson might wind up going higher, but if he's there at #28, Dallas will snag him.

#29 (Green Bay): Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma -- Aaron Rodgers will begging for this pick. Anything to help his tired, aching arm.

#30 (Pittsburgh): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan -- The Steelers always need secondary help. Peppers can step in and play right away.

#31 (Atlanta): Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina -- Roddy White's recent retirement makes this pick a natural one for Atlanta.

#32 (New Orleans): Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State -- Too many games giving up 30 points or more can't be ignored by the Saints.

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my blast mount rushmore finishes with a savage


Talk about a tough choice.

The first three members of my Baltimore Blast "Mount Rushmore" weren't all that difficult to choose, really.

Stan Stamenkovic, Mike Stankovic and Scott Manning were no-brainers, as each was -- at some point in their career -- the best player at his position in the old days of the MISL.

But the fourth and final addition to the Mount Rushmore was not easy.

Several players were considered here, including Baltimore native and Calvert Hall grad Tim Wittman, who turned into a terrific indoor player, spending time as both a forward and defender in his career and fitting in perfectly with Kenny Cooper's blue-collar style of play.

Dave MacWilliams was a rugged, feisty forward who was a huge part of the Blast's title team in 1983-84 and, like Wittman, blended in well with Cooper's style. He wasn't particularly flashy, but he could put the ball in the back of the net with the best of them.

Joey Fink was the opposite of MacWilliams. He had a sublime touch around the goal and was seemingly always in the right place at the right time. He could go 25 minutes and not have a goal-scoring chance, then he'd score twice on the next shift.

But none of those three had the impact on the game that Bruce Savage did throughout the 1980's and the former MISL Defensive Player of the Year is my fourth and final member of the Blast's all-time "Mount Rushmore".

Savage was a U.S. National team member in the early 1980's and played in the 1984 Olympic Games that were held in the United States. What he lacked in size (Savage was 5'9"), he made up for in speed and smarts, which dovetailed perfectly for him once he went to the indoor game full-time.

In a league where nearly every team had a high-quality, marquee offensive player, it was Savage who always drew the man-to-man marking assignment on the likes of Tatu, Preki, Segota, Karic, Margetic and every other superstar forward in the league.

And more times than not, Savage got the best of them. His battles with Dallas' Tatu were legendary. There weren't many players in the league who could contain the dynamic Brazilian back then, but Savage sure could.

He played for the Blast from 1984 through 1991, making the All-Star team every season and also earning a spot on the MISL's All-Decade team (1980-1990) as one of the four defensive players selected.

He was, pun intended, a "savage" for the Blast for a long time. One of the best to ever play the indoor game, for sure.

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orioles-yankees one-day trip
available at an amazing price!


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

If so, go with us! #DMD has an awesome one-day trip package available now. It's so good, you'll say "What's the catch?". Well, there isn't one.

Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a "terrace level" game ticket with everyone else who is traveling in our group.

And get this, we recently added another great benefit to the package: You pay nothing at the concession stands!! That's right, everyone in our travel group gets access to an unlimited in-game buffet, featuring typical "ballpark food" like hot dogs, sausages, chips, pretzels, snacks, etc., plus water and soft drinks. No more spending $20-$25 every time you go to the concession stand.

What's it all cost: $149 per-person. That gets you EVERYTHING, including the bus driver's gratuity.

If you're looking for a good early Father's Day gift, this is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

Please go here to reserve your spots.



Tuesday
April 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 25
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


join us in new york for orioles-yankees on june 11


It's not often the baseball schedule works out perfectly for a day trip to see our Birds on the road.

This season, though, we have several accommodating trips for a visit to New York or Boston. Since the O's don't play in Philly this year and the away games in D.C. are on a school night in May, a New York or Boston away game is our pick of the litter.

So -- we're heading to New York on Sunday, June 11, for a 1:05 pm game between the Orioles and Yankees. We'd love you to join us.

Those of you who celebrate Father's Day can give yourselves a treat one-week early and grab the kids, hop on our luxury motor coach, and enjoy a day in the Big Apple. I'll be taking my son, for sure, and hope you do as well.

We've secured terrace-level seating in New York, which is essentially their "middle concourse". The lower deck seating is simply too expensive for a group. The upper level seating is fine, but if we're going up there for a day, let's sit as close to the field as we can without being forced to take out a small loan from SECU, right?

Our group will all be seated together, which makes for a fun afternoon of cheering and supporting the Birds, especially when they win, 7-3.

If you haven't been on one of our trips before, here's what we offer.

First and foremost, we pledge "comfort". Our luxury motor coach holds 56 passengers. We will put no more than 40 people on the bus, which leaves enough seating open for the adults to stretch out and the kids to grab a snooze on the way up or back. This has been a staple of our trips for as long as we've done them. We're not packing 56 people on the bus like sardines. Just won't happen.

You'll be treated to breakfast and coffee from Royal Farms upon departure from Baltimore. We'll be leaving from the Towson area at 7:30 am.

On the ride up to New York, there will be water, soft drinks and ice cold DuClaw beer for those who want a refreshment or two before the ballgame.

We'll have an Orioles trivia contest on the ride to New York, with a nice first place prize for the winner.

And upon arrival in New York (11 am or so), we'll break out lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin and head into the stadium around 12 noon.

If you haven't yet seen the new Yankee Stadium, this is your chance.

Please share this with friends and other Orioles fans and let's have a great day cheering on the Orioles!

To purchase your tickets for the bus trip to New York, just go here.

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barnett, williams coveted by ravens


I'm hearing the Ravens are squarely interested in selecting either Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett or Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams on Thursday night in the first round of the NFL draft, and would consider moving up to get Barnett or Michigan's Taco Charlton if either were there at #13 or #14.

The Ravens own the 16th pick in the first round of Thursday's NFL draft.

Any of those three would immediately be pick-and-play guys for the Ravens, who are in desperate need of help at the rush end position and, as always, are also thin at the wide receiver spot.

Keep in mind, of course, that the next few days will likely include plenty of player information "leaks" -- think back to last year's Laremy Tunsil fiasco on draft day -- and that information will cause a shift in thinking and draft position for several players who find themselves in the spotlight.

Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett would be a natural fit for the Ravens given the departure of Elvis Dumervil this off-season.

Barnett and Williams, it appears, are safe from any of that sort of danger.

Charlton would be an interesting selection in that he played for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and already has that Harbaugh-family connection built in if, in fact, the Ravens could somehow get him. Most mock drafts have Charlton going in the top 8 picks, but if he somehow fell to the 13th or 14th spot, the Ravens would consider moving up for him, I'm hearing.

The same goes for Barnett, who was a stellar performer at Tennessee. If he's available a couple picks ahead of where the Ravens pick, Ozzie Newsome might make a move to get him. While moving up in the draft hasn't been the calling card on selection-day, they have done it before when they see a player available that they really covet.

The Ravens cut Elvis Dumervil earlier this year and Terrell Suggs probably has one or two years left, at best. That means the Ravens are most certainly looking for a defensive end or two in this 2017 draft.

An interesting note on Barnett: He, much like Suggs back in 2003, did not test well at the Combine last month. His numbers were "just OK", which means some teams might have moved him down their draft board. The Ravens are not one of those teams who believe combine testing numbers are the be-all-end-all when it comes to evaluating a player's ability and future in the NFL.

If Barnett is there at #16 -- or if the Ravens only have to move up a couple of spots to get him -- he figures to be their selection in the first round. If Barnett (and Charlton) aren't available, and Williams is, the Ravens will likely make the Clemson wide receiver their first selection.

There have been some rumblings the last few days that the Ravens have expressed a lot of interest in Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson. While he would fit in nicely given the departure of Ricky Wagner via free agency, I'd be surprised if they went with an offensive tackle in the first round on Thursday.

This year, particularly, it's prudent for the Ravens to follow Ozzie's longtime mantra: "The most important players on your team are the ones who touch the ball and touch the quarterback."

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jimenez stinks, but big bats rescue him in 6-3 o's win


It didn't take long for Ubaldo Jimenez to revert back to his old ways.

After a sensational start in Cincinnati last week, Jimenez stunk it up last night at Camden Yards, failing to make it out of the fourth inning on a rainy night in Baltimore.

Fortunately, Chris Archer was equally as accommodating for Tampa Bay and the Birds finally got to him with three home runs in a 6-3 win before about 2,000 brave souls who battled the elements and took in the game.

A two-run homer from Adam Jones in the 7th inning was the big blow for the O's on Monday night in a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay.

The announced attendance was 11,142, which as we know, was the paid ticket count. The 2,000 folks who did brave the bad weather should have received some sort of medal as they left the stadium. It was a nasty night for baseball.

Hyun Soo Kim, Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones homered for the Orioles, who are now 13-5 on the year and in first place in the A.L. East.

Jimenez didn't have it from jump street on Monday night. He gave up a lead-off home run in the first, put runners on first and third in the second, then walked the bases loaded in the fourth before finally being chased by a two-run double that put the Rays up 3-1.

But that Orioles bullpen -- again -- was superb. Vidal Nuno, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart and Brad Brach combined to allow just four hits the rest of the way, as the Orioles connected on back-to-back homers from Kim and Schoop in the 6th, then took the lead for good on an Adam Jones 2-run dinger in the 7th.

The best way to look at the Jimenez start is to simply consider the weather and chalk this one up to "no one likes to pitch when it's rainy and yucky."

That's what I'm going to do, anyway.

Although the bad weather didn't seem to bother Nuno, Givens, Hart or Brach, did it?

At some point soon, Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo are both going to heat up. When that happens, watch out. Machado is hitting .197 on the season while Trumbo (.214) now has as many home runs on the year (1) as Kim and Craig Gentry and one more home run than you and I.

But the numbers for Machado and Trumbo are obviously not indicative of what they're going to produce for the entire 2017 campaign. They'll come around, sooner rather than later, and when they do, that O's offense will really start percolating.

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we only have two seats left on our london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We now only have room for two more people on our trip to the U.K.!!

We're flying over on British Airways and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium. Our flights to and from England are both direct, by the way. That's an important thing to remember when you're traveling over there. We're flying non-stop.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.



Monday
April 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 24
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


i hope you baseball players are proud of yourselves, you bunch of entitled goofs


You know what's really funny about baseball's so-called "unwritten rules"?

No one actually knows what they are.

Maybe if they were written out somewhere, stupid stuff like what happened on Sunday wouldn't occur anymore.

I know you're aware of what went down on Sunday, so I'll only briefly touch on the details just to set everything up.

Ahead 6-0 and sensing the Orioles were just happy to sleepwalk through a lazy series-finale loss, Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes decided to take a moment and enforce one of the unwritten rules by throwing at Manny Machado in the bottom of the eighth inning.

That, by the way, was a follow-up to earlier in the game when Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches in the general vicinity of Machado's knees, failing to make contact each time.

The Red Sox were clearly Manny-hunting, though, there was no doubt at all about that.

Machado was public enemy #1 because of an incident on Friday night when he overslid the bag at second base and nicked Dustin Pedroia's left leg. Pedroia missed the Saturday and Sunday games at Camden Yards due to the injury and the Red Sox were foaming at the mouth all weekend for what they considered a "dirty play".

Their buffoon manager even called MLB headquarters on Saturday to complain about the slide, as if that was going to do any good at that point.

On Sunday, ahead 6-0, the Red Sox got their revenge. Or tried, to, at least.

Barnes threw a wild pitch that buzzed past Machado's head and clanked off his bat for a foul ball. The Boston pitcher was immediately ejected, which cause Boston skipper John Farrell to storm out of the dugout and bark at the umpires for two minutes or so -- as if his pitcher didn't deserve to get tossed for that obvious attempt to hit Machado with a pitch.

Machado, it's fair to note, maintained his composure throughout the earlier incident with Rodriguez and in the 8th inning after Barnes threw at him. A year ago, Manny would have rushed to the mound. On Sunday, he was cool as a cucumber.

Pedroia then barked at Machado from the Boston dugout. The video (below) of their exchange is fascinating -- particularly if you're a fan of baseball players telling one another about the unwritten rules.

You can clearly see Pedroia emphatically denying he had anything to do with Barnes' decision to throw at Machado. You can also see him state, clearly, "If it was me, we would have hit you on the first day", another reminder to Machado that it's perfectly within the asinine unwritten rules of baseball to throw at a guy as long as you do it within the acceptable time frame.



#DMD HD-TV


Pedroia said all the right stuff after the game, but he definitely made it a point during their on-field exchange to tell Machado things would have been different if he (Pedroia) had anything to do with it.

So, which is it, Dustin? You tell everyone after the game "I love Manny", but during the game, you're heard on tape telling him you would have had him hit with a pitch on Friday. Can't have it both ways, pal. Oh, wait, that's right. You're just "enforcing the rules".

The thing everyone seems to bothered by is that Barnes threw a pitch at Machado's head. What about a pitch that breaks a rib? What about a ball off the hip that causes a guy to miss a half dozen games? Are those OK, somehow, but a pitch to the head isn't?

I've said for a long time that throwing a baseball at someone should warrant an immediate 20-game suspension. It's idiotic, plain and simple.

Pedroia, though, came right out after the game and reinforced to the media that getting hit with a ball is an expected punishment if you run afoul of baseball's unwritten rules.

"There’s zero intentions of him (Machado) trying to hurt me. He just made a bad slide and did hurt me. It’s baseball, man. I’m not mad at him. I love Manny Machado. Love playing against him. Love watching him. If I slide into third base and get Manny’s knee, I know I’m going to get drilled. It’s baseball. I get drilled and I go to first base."

Nut jobs. All of them.

Even Zach Britton couldn't refrain from saying some stupid stuff. And he's on the disabled list. We'll get to that in a minute.

Afterwards, both Barnes and Farrell claimed innocence, although they each did have the decency to admit the pitch near Machado's head wasn't cool. It almost seemed like Barnes was the more sympathetic of the two, as if he intended to hit Machado but didn't want the pitch to be up that high.

"Yeah, he has a reason to be mad," the pitcher said afterwards. "I got one up there where it's kind of dangerous and he was able to get out of the way." That sounds to me like a guy who was probably a little worried, in hindsight, about being the answer to a not-so-friendly trivia question: "Who was the Boston pitcher who ended the promising career of Manny Machado?"

Farrell, not surprisingly, tiptoed around the whole thing, simply calling it "unfortunate".

There's no telling who actually ordered the Code Red, but just like in the movie A Few Good Men, someone most certainly did. And Barnes, being a good soldier and all, obeyed the order he was given and whizzed one at Machado.

All of this because of a bad slide on Friday night.

You have to be a complete imbecile to look at the replay of Friday night's slide and call that "obviously intentional". Hell, Chris Young slid into Jonathan Schoop on Saturday night and nicked Schoop's legs on a very similar slide to the one produced by Machado on Friday and no one said a word about it.

As I wrote on Saturday morning, you can call Machado unathletic (he is), awkward (he is) and a poor baserunner (he is), but there's almost no doubt at all that he wasn't trying to injure Pedroia on Friday night.

But yet, according to Pedroia, that doesn't matter. Even if it's an accident, you get drilled for it.

I understand that Machado is probably not a favorite in and around baseball. He's an easy guy to dislike, I assume, a prime target of sorts for veteran players who look at his flashy style and approach (see: the way he currently wears his uniform) and figure he doesn't have enough respect for the game itself.

If Machado played for the Yankees, for example, we'd look at him much the same way we looked at A-Rod for a decade: Too good for his own good, or something of that nature.

There are probably lots of players around baseball who wouldn't mind giving Machado an occasional reminder that's he's just another guy in the big leagues, but throwing at his head and nearly injuring him, seriously, perhaps, is not cool. I was never a fan of A-Rod, but I most certainly wouldn't ever have applauded an Orioles pitcher throwing one at his noggin.

Britton fanned the flames by saying some dumb stuff early Sunday evening. How he got involved is anyone's guess, but the Orioles closer started yapping about Pedroia not being able to control his teammates, baseball's unwritten rules, and how he listens to what veteran players tell him to do or not to do, in some cases.

I like Britton a lot more when he's striking out the side in the 9th inning of a one-run game. Leave the talking to others in the locker room, Zach. Please and thank you.

The one guy who always takes the high road in matters like those we saw on Sunday is Buck Showalter. He usually says the same thing every time: "You all saw what happened. Report on it however you would like."

Anyone with a brain knows precisely what happened on Sunday. The Red Sox took that moment to enforce a silly unwritten rule that says you're not allowed to slide hard into the base and (accidentally) injure someone on the other team.

You can't trot around the bases fast after a home run, either. But you also can't trot around slow, or that's a violation as well.

You're not allowed to flip your bat after a game-winning home run. But the pitcher can pound his fist in his glove after a big strike out and that's OK, for some reason.

It would help if we had these rules written down somewhere so we would know for sure what's a violation and what's not.

The players would probably appreciate having the rules at their disposal as well. That way, everyone would know when it's their turn to get hit with a pitch.

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"survive and advance" is just what the caps did on sunday


History will show the Washington Capitals defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-games-to-2 in the first round of the 2017 NHL playoffs.

What the record books won't show is how the 8th seed Maple Leafs gave the Capitals all they could handle, losing three of the four games in overtime, including Sunday's 2-1 Caps win.

But there aren't any moral victories in hockey. The Caps are moving on and the Maple Leafs, like the Philadelphia Flyers, will be watching the next round from home. Come to think of it, the Flyers have been watching all of these playoffs from home, which is glorious, indeed. But I digress...

Marcus Johansson flips the puck into the Toronto net in overtime to give the Caps a 2-1 series-clinching win over the Maple Leafs on Sunday night.

Marcus Johansson was the hero last night, tying the game with a gritty effort in the third period after the Maple Leafs looked like they might extend the series to a 7th and deciding game with an earlier tally in the period. Johansson then netted the game-winner as well, nipping a rebound over Frederick Andersen to give Washington an instant win and a spot in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Next up for the Caps? Their arch-rivals from Pittsburgh await.

The Penguins are rested and waiting for Barry Trotz's team after waltzing past Columbus in five games. The Caps are 1-8 lifetime against the Penguins, including last spring's 4-2 series ouster at the ends of Crosby and Company.

Nothing about this journey to the Stanley Cup Finals is expected to be easy for the Capitals because, for one, the Caps don't know how to make things easy and, two, the other teams are trying, too. Pittsburgh is never a walk-in-the-park, but they've had the Caps number in the post-season forever. That has to change sometime, though, and this next series would be a great time to do it.

Washington beat Toronto because their quality on offense was better and because Braden Holtby picked a great time to have his two best games of the series (games 5 and 6). Holtby was outstanding in Friday's 2-1 OT win and equally impressive last night in Toronto, making several huge saves in the third period when the Maple Leafs were pressing the action.

That Johansson scored the two big goals is only fitting, as he represents a working-class player within the Caps' system that largely gets overshadowed by the supposed big-game gunners like Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov. Interestingly, none of those three scored a goal in either of the last two games of the series, leaving the net-denting to T.J. Oshie, Justin Williams and the aforementioned Johansson, who was fairly quiet in the series until he struck for the two goals late in Sunday's series-clinching win.

The Caps also managed to escape the Maple Leafs series despite being hammered at the face-off circle and having difficulty getting the puck out of their own end with any consistency due to Toronto's pressing style. While the Maple Leafs might have outworked the Capitals overall in the series, Washington did produce a tireless effort on Sunday night, wearing down the hosts to the point where they having trouble staying active for shifts any longer than forty five seconds.

Bring on the Penguins and let the playoff hockey continue.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip going on sale monday


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Please go here to reserve your spots.

Game time is 1:05 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 7:30 am sharp and arrive at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

The Yankee Stadium seating is finalized. We'll be in the lower deck and it looks like the trip is going to cost $139.

The trip package includes luxury motor-coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to New York, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival, and a lower-deck game ticket.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


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Sunday
April 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 23
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just sitting here trying to figure out which 40 games the o's are going to lose


It's starting to look like the Orioles are going to go 122-40 in 2017.

I know what you're thinking.

"How are they going to lose 40, Drew?"

Don't worry, they will.

After last night's tidy 4-2 win over the Red Sox, the Birds are now 12-4 on the campaign. That's basically 10% of the season in the books and the Orioles have just four losses.

I'll help you out if you're a Flyers fan. That puts the Orioles on pace for a 40-loss season, give or take a defeat.

So much for that 79-83 record that a number of -- ahem -- baseball experts thought Buck Showalter's team would post in 2017. Heck, they might have 79 wins by the trade deadline.

Last night's win over the Red Sox came at the expense of knuckleballer Steven Wright, who was tagged with his second loss of the season vs. Baltimore. He was better last night than a couple of weeks back when the Birds faced him at Fenway, but back-to-back homers from Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop were part of a 4-run uprising in the 4th inning that sent Wright to the showers.

Meanwhile, some guy named Jayson Aquino got the start for the O's and held his own over six innings of work. He wasn't Clayton Kershaw or anything like that, but he battled gamely, allowing six hits and walking three while striking out two Boston hitters.

The only blemish on Aquino's performance was a monster home run off the bat of Jackie Bradley, Jr. Patrons at the Rusty Scupper in the Inner Harbor were surprised to see the ball come crashing through the front window.

At this point, there's no telling when the Orioles might next lose.

With Kevin Gausman on the mound today, it's possible the bats might have to wake up from their weeklong slumber, but I don't see the winning streak ending this afternoon. Let's call it 6-5 for the good guys today at Camden Yards.

Tampa Bay comes to town for three games this week. That's win, win and win. Suddenly, the Birds are 16-4, and heading to the Bronx for an early season weekend showdown with the Yankees, who are off to a pretty decent start themselves.

Maybe the Birds will drop one in New York. That's OK, though, those one-loss weeks are pretty easy to stomach, wouldn't you say?

Oh, and we haven't even unleashed Chris Tillman on anyone yet, don't forget.

Then again, we might not need to use Tillman until the All-Star break.

We still have Alec Ashur waiting in the wings if Aquino falters. And Edwin Jackson is still lurking in the minor leagues, too.

The pitching-starved O's (so we thought) are anything but, it seems. With the exception of Gausman, who is off to a sluggish start, the Baltimore starters are working deep into games, giving the club a lead, and basically turning what many assumed would be the team's weakness into its biggest strength.

What's next -- the Ravens draft a wide receiver this Thursday in the first round and he turns into a Pro Bowl player?

Things are indeed weird here in Charm City.

But it's a good weird as the saying goes.

The baseball team is 12-4 and rolling. The offense hasn't even heated up yet, either. Wait until everyone's chakras get in line, we might be beating fools 10-2 and 12-4 on a regular basis.

I'm planning a #DMD trip to the Ravens-Minnesota game on October 22nd, which will include three days of golf near Minneapolis (get a partner and come along, details coming soon). I'd be fibbing if I said I didn't check the World Series schedule to see what October 19-22 looked like on the calendar. I admit it...I did.

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no fireworks (yet) in aftermatch of slidegate 2017


Saturday night's game came and went without any friction, just one night after Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia in the bottom of the 8th inning and forced the Boston second baseman to leave the game.

Pedroia didn't play on Saturday while resting his sore left knee and ankle.

Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia missed Saturday's game in Baltimore, but things moved along smoothly for Manny Machado in the 4-2 Orioles win.

Boston media members and Red Sox nation predicted Machado would face some sort of retaliation for Friday night's incident, but with the game always in the balance every time Manny came to the plate, nothing of the sort materialized.

Then again, what kind of damage could Steven Wright's 68 mph knuckleball do, anyway?

We'll see if anything gets stirred up today when hard throwing Eduardo Rodriguez takes the mound for the Red Sox. Maybe John Farrell went back and looked at the replay enough times to realize Machado wasn't actually trying to injure Pedroia -- and called off the dogs.

Pedroia, it should be noted, wasn't interested in fanning the flames when he was asked about the incident following Friday's game. "I don't know the rule," he said when asked if he thought Machado's slide was a rule-breaker. "I've been turning the best double play in the big leagues for the last eleven years. I don't need a f**king rule to help me."

So that controversy seems dead. Unless, of course, Machado gets plunked today.

Now, if we can just get Manny to dress like a major leaguer, we'll be good. Lately he's looked like something out of the Glen Burnie Little League program with the first four buttons of his uniform top undone and some sort of dog tag hanging out from around his neck.

Come to think of it, we never dressed like that in Glen Burnie.

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gut check time for caps tonight in toronto


OK, the Caps have fiddled around long enough.

It's time to start taking things seriously.

The Maple Leafs host Game 6 tonight and for the first time in the 2017 playoffs, the Capitals have a chance to eliminate an opponent. A win this evening earns Barry Trotz's team a return encounter with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who bounced Washington out of the post-season last year, 4-games-to-2.

Held without a goal in Friday's win over Toronto, Alex Ovechkin and the Caps have a chance to send the Maple Leafs packing in Game 6 tonight in Toronto.

History suggests the Caps will come up short tonight and Game 7 will take place in Washington on Tuesday.

I hope history is wrong.

This Caps team has no business being extended to seven games by Toronto. None whatsoever. Sure, they don't say "how?", they just say "how many?", but losing tonight and facing a 7th and decisive game wouldn't be cool.

If the Caps have any guts -- as a team -- they'll polish off the Leafs tonight and move on.

But if the Maple Leafs win this evening, all bets are off come Tuesday night. Someone at Eagle's Nest said to me yesterday, "Come on, Drew, they're not losing to Toronto."

I replied with the obvious answer: "Have you seen the Capitals play in the playoffs for the last decade or so?"

He lowered his head and said, "Yeah, I guess you're right."

Anyone who thinks the Capitals aren't capable of losing the next two games hasn't been paying attention. They should win tonight, mind you, and not even need a Game 7. But this is the Capitals and the post-season, where something wacky is always just a game or two away.

Let's see what Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, et al have under the hood tonight. They've been reasonably solid throughout the series, mind you, but you never know what sort of performance you're going to get from them when the series is in the balance.

I'm nervous, of course, but I've been following the Capitals since 1976. I have a right to be nervous.

I always expect the worst when it comes to playoff hockey and the Washington Capitals. They could lose 4-0 tonight and 2-1 on Tuesday and I wouldn't be the least bit shocked. Not at all. I'm numb to their playoff misfortunes by now, but I'm still locked and loaded, watching every game from start to finish, and hoping this might be the year that everything falls into place for them.

Tonight will tell us a lot about this edition of the Capitals.

If they have any heart at all, they win.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip going on sale monday


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I should have the Yankee Stadium seating finalized tomorrow. We'll be in the lower deck and it looks like the trip is going to be either $129 or $139 based on which seats the Yankees provide us.

The trip package includes luxury motor coach transportation, breakfast from Royal Farms, ice cold DuClaw beer for the trip to NY, lunch from Palmisano's of Baldwin upon arrival and a lower deck game ticket.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Saturday
April 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 22
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


machado slide blown way out of proportion


Manny Machado isn't the most athletic kid in the world, that's for sure.

His baserunning skills aren't very good.

And, as we've seen in the past, Machado is prone to the occasional heat-of-the-moment outburst that has given him a bit of reputation in his young big league career.

But what happened last night in the bottom of the 8th inning was completely benign. Manny slid into Dustin Pedroia at second base, yes, but it was nowhere near the epic, intent-to-injure episode that Boston media members made it out to be.

Just for full disclosure and balance, I'll admit that I like Dustin Pedroia as a baseball player. I think he's one of the best players in the game. He could play for my team any day.

So when I write what I'm about to write, it's not really intended to be a dig at Pedroia.

I've watched the replay of the slide a dozen times. The video of the slide can be seen below. I don't understand how Pedroia was injured to the extent that he had to leave the game.

I just don't get it.



#DMD HD-TV


Granted, it's an awkward looking slide. Machado, as I noted above, is not athletically inclined. Running, sliding, etc. is not part of his out-of-this-world skill set. I'm not excusing him for the poor mechanics, I'm merely noting them.

But the slide last night was far from "dirty" or "dangerous".

Boston manager John Farrell whined after the game that Machado's slide was "late". Yep, a smidgen late, perhaps. But if Farrell's paying attention, he knows Machado isn't a great baserunner in the first place.

I understand how baseball works. There are 78 unwritten rules, about 68 of which are absolutely stupid, and if you violate one of them, you have to pay the price. Machado apparently violated one last night -- which one, no one knows, because they're "unwritten" -- and now, according to Boston media members and fans of the team, he should face some sort of punishment tonight in the second game of the series at Camden Yards.

I love baseball. But throwing a baseball at a hitter -- in an effort to hurt him -- should immediately result in a 20-game suspension for the pitcher who throws the ball.

Forget for a moment whether Machado violated a credo of the game last night. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. But the result of that should not be a ball in his rib cage, thigh or anywhere else for that matter.

But it's likely going to happen at some point this weekend because players have to "protect the integrity of the game", which is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Baseball players have been on the juice now for the better part of 25 years. Some dude from the Pirates just got nailed earlier this week and will sit out 80 games. The players don't seem all that concerned about "integrity" when it comes to PED's.

Baseball players steal signals all the time. Integrity? Where?

Pitchers doctor the baseball virtually every night in a ballpark somewhere. How's that integrity thing going, I ask?

Machado overslides the base, comes in (light) contact with Pedroia's leg, and now, suddenly, the integrity of the game matters? Clown shoes for everyone.

Look, if Machado goes in there like a bat out of hell, crashes into Pedroia, lays him out on the ground, and blood comes gushing out of the second baseman's calf because Manny barreled in there dangerously...OK, then...I get the outrage. I would understand how everyone would be foaming at the mouth if Pedroia had to go on the disabled list with, say, a right MCL sprain because Machado slid into his knee.

I've seen worse injuries in tennis than the one Pedroia suffered last night.

Meanwhile, they actually played a game on Friday in Baltimore and the Orioles managed to pull out a 2-0 win over the Red Sox.

For the fourth straight game, the O's offense was bland. They've now scored just nine runs in those four games, yet they're 3-1 in those contests.

But while the offense was on silent again, the starting pitching was sensational. This time, it was Dylan Bundy who threw into the 8th inning, allowing just six hits and wiggling his way out of several early jams thanks to three double plays in the opening trio of innings.

Bundy is now 3-1 on the year with a 1.37 ERA. It's been a long time since the Orioles produced a home-grown ace. The last one was a guy named Mike Mussina. The cart might be ahead of the horse, here, but it sure looks like Bundy has Mussina-like potential.

Brad Brach is making it easy for the O's to not sweat out Zach Britton's absence. Brach made quick work of the Red Sox in the ninth inning to pick up his third consecutive save. Britton's not going to get Wally Pipp'd or anything like that, but it's comforting to see Brach handle the closing duties with such ease.

The big story in Boston this morning, though, isn't the 2-0 loss or the fact that the Red Sox squandered a handful of break-the-game-open chances in the first few innings.

The headlines and the social media outrage will center on Machado's slide and Pedroia's removal from the game.

It will, almost certainly, spill over into tonight's game at Camden Yards.

I hope the quality Orioles starting pitching we've seen this week spills over, too.

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caps escape with another overtime win


The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't going away.

Fortunately, the Washington Capitals only need to win one more game and the Maple Leafs can head to the golf course for the summer.

But that might be easier said than done.

Justin Williams scored at 1:04 of overtime last night to give the Caps a huge 2-1 win and 3-2 series lead, with Game 6 set for Sunday night in Toronto.

The Capitals got a superb performance from goaltender Braden Holtby on Friday night and the Caps pulled out a 2-1 overtime that puts the Maple Leafs on the brink of elimination.

Both goaltenders were outstanding, but it was Braden Holtby who kept the Capitals in the game with some stellar netminding in the final ten minutes of regulation when the Maple Leafs peppered the Washington goal with several quality scoring chances.

I've been saying this since Game 1 last Thursday night. Toronto has outworked, outhustled and outwanted the Caps throughout the series. But Washington's talent is better, and when called upon in crucial situations, the Caps' quality gives them an edge.

But Barry Trotz's team better not give Toronto a breath of life on Sunday night. The Caps need to finish the series tomorrow and avoid an always-dangerous Game 7, which would be in Washington on Tuesday evening if necessary.

The big story from the game was an injury that actually didn't happen. But there for a minute, it looked like Toronto's Nazem Kadri might have changed the balance of the series when he sent Alex Ovechkin sprawling with a late first-period hip check.

Ovechkin stayed face down on the ice for 90 seconds or so and then gingerly made his way off with the aid of two teammates.

Social media lit up in a rage and even CSN hockey analyst Craig Laughlin -- who must not have watched the replay of the check -- flipped out over the "dirty hit" (his words) that sent Ovechkin to the locker room.

When the second period started, though, there was #8, skating like it was the first game of the season, with no evidence at all of any discomfort.

After the game, Ovechkin said he simply went into the locker room, had a soft drink, and watched the final minute of the period on the in-house TV. "I just needed a break," the Caps forward said in the post-game press conference.

So much for a series-changing injury. The Capitals then spent the bulk of the second period trying to send cheap shots at Kadri instead of playing playoff hockey. Ovechkin took a few swipes at him and Matt Niskanen slashed the Maple Leafs forward and was sent to the penalty box.

I understand the need for retribution, particularly when your star player gets leveled. But this isn't January, it's April. Skating around and trying to goon it up in the playoffs isn't smart. Save that stuff for a game that doesn't matter.

And, Kadri's hit, while impactful, wasn't dirty. Ovechkin himself had a hard hit on Jake Gardiner earlier in the game that was very questionable.

It's playoff hockey. Bodies are going to spill. There's no reason to whine about it. Just keep playing, winning and advancing.

Toronto scored in that second period to knot the game at 1-1, then neither team found the net for the remainder of regulation play. But the visitors looked prime for a win late in the third period, only to be foiled time and time again by Holtby.

Early in overtime, with the Maple Leafs crossed up defensively, Marcus Johansson found Evgeny Kuznetsov alone on the right side of the cage and Kuzy one-timed a pass to Williams, who easily whipped a 15-footer past Andersen for the game-winning tally.

The Caps are in great position now to move on and face the Pittsburgh Penguins. They just need one more win, either Sunday night in Toronto or Tuesday night in Washington.

Here's a thought: End it in Toronto and save yourself two nights of restless sleep.

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the magician appears on my blast "mount rushmore"


In the halcyon days of the MISL, there were some wonderfully skilled indoor soccer players.

Juli Veee, Kai Haaskivi, Steve Zungul, Stan Terlecki -- just to name four who could work magic with the soccer ball.

But none of those four could do what Stan Stamenkovic could do.

He was, literally, "The Magician".

The video below is his most "famous" goal ever. It came in the 1983 All-Star Game in Kansas City, while he played for Memphis.



#DMD HD-TV


Stamenkovic is the third of four players on my personal Baltimore Blast "Mount Rushmore", but the only one who would be a unanimous selection if 20 old-school Blast nerds got together in a room and tried to sort out the four players who should make up the Rushmore honor.

Everyone's list would have Stamenkovic at the top.

Stan was an instant hit when he was acquired from the Memphis Americans in the summer of 1983. At his introductory press conference, Stamenkovic was introduced by Kenny Cooper with a promise that the Yugoslavian ball wizard would deliver a championship to the city of Baltimore.

The Blast did, in fact, win the MISL title that year, beating the St. Louis Steamers 4-games-to-1, with Stamenkovic leading the league in scoring and earning MISL MVP honors.

He played two more seasons in Baltimore, then abruptly sat out the 1986-87 season because of a newly acquired fear of flying. After a one-year hiatus, Stamenkovic returned for the 1987-88 campaign, but wasn't the same player as the one who dazzled the league in the early and mid 80's.

But, in the first three years he spent in Charm City, Stamenkovic was a household name. They say a sport or a team hasn't truly arrived until people will pay money to see specific athletes play the game. People in Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis, Wichita, San Diego and plenty of other cities in the country shelled out money just to get a ticket to see Stamenkovic do his thing.

He was a true superstar in every sense of the word.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip, anyone?


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I'm working with the Yankees on group tickets, but the one-day trip is likely going to be in the $115 range, which includes your round-trip bus ride, breakfast, drinks on the ride up to New York, lunch when we arrive at the stadium, and a game ticket. I'm trying to finagle some lower-deck seats from the Yankees at a reasonable price. I should know more about that soon.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Friday
April 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 21
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


the curtain closes on tiger's career


It's over.

It might have been over before yesterday's news, but now, officially, the career of Tiger Woods has come to a close.

Woods had a 4th back surgery earlier this week, the most significant one he's endured. It was performed to aid Tiger's "quality of life", not help him get back on the golf course sooner rather than later.

This, finally, was Woods giving in and saying, "If I can't play golf anymore, at least let me be able to enjoy the rest of what I do."

The record books will show Tiger won 14 major championships and 79 career golf tournaments. He'll come up four shy of the major record (18) and three shy of the wins record (82). There's no telling what he would have accomplished if not for the downward spiral that started way back in 2009. 20 major titles? 100 career wins? Both were slam-dunks, it seemed, until Woods lost his way.

The most compelling element in his career is that Tiger won all 14 of his major titles before he reached age 34. That, above all else, is the most impressive of his accomplishments.

But when it went bad, it went bad in the blink of an eye. Woods was humming along just fine until Thanksgiving weekend in 2009, when he was involved in an incident with his then-wife Elin at their home in Orlando. Nothing was ever the same after that.

Oh, sure, Woods would return to his winning ways in 2012 and 2013, but his position at the top of the golfing world started crumbling in the aftermath of the incident in Orlando.

There are (were) other factors in play, too. Depending on which rumor you believe, there have been whispers of PED use, pain killers and sleep aids. None of those stories are hard to believe, since sports is filled with people who involve themselves in those very same things.

And then there's Tiger's bad back, which essentially became his "new normal" in 2015 and hasn't improved enough to give Woods a chance to compete at the same level he did circa 2008.

This week's surgery was the final blow.

Tiger's career is in the books.

There's no way of knowing how it all fell into place. We know Woods had a series of inappropriate relationships and that his wife, Elin, caught wind of it and ended their marriage. That issue most certainly had some sort of impact on Tiger's play.

Then his back started acting up a few years ago and Woods couldn't even play, let alone compete at the level he established for himself in the 2000's.

Surgery didn't help. Rest didn't help. Physical therapy didn't help. Tiger broke down -- quickly -- and never really recovered from it all.

It's a shame it all ended like this.

We were in the midst of seeing history made in an almost unthinkable way before Tiger's life changed. Love him or hate him -- and there were equal parts of that in every clubhouse in America -- Woods was a needle-mover.

No one gathers around a TV to watch Jason Day beat Brandt Snedeker or Justin Thomas beat Kevin Chappell.

Everyone parked themselves in a chair or on the sofa to watch Tiger play. Some wanted him to win, some wanted him to lose, but everyone wanted to watch it.

And because he won more times than anyone else in his era, Woods was compelling theater.

That's what I'll miss the most about him, I suppose. When Tiger was in the field, there was no telling what might happen. He was just as likely to make a 40-foot putt on the final hole, tied for the lead, than he was to shoot 31 on the front nine and coast to a 7-shot victory.

At the height of his career, he toyed with Mickelson, Els, Furyk, Singh and his favorite punching bag, Sergio Garcia. At his zenith, Woods was Secretariat and those other guys were 31 lengths behind.

Healthy, still, he'd be running roughshod over Spieth, Thomas, Fowler, McIlroy, Day, DJ and any other fresh-faced kid who came along with a swagger. Nothing about the play of today's top players comes close to rivaling what Woods did when he was pounding everyone almost every time he teed it up.

Sadly, we won't get to see any of that.

And it's those competitions that we'll all miss the most, I bet. Whether you loved him or hated him, Woods gave you a reason to watch.

His critics will point out that Tiger poisoned himself, and that much is true. He made a lot of bad decisions along the way. And he's paid the price for them, too, it appears.

But what he gave us far exceeds anything we could have imagined when he first teed it up as a professional in 1996.

We got the better end of the deal.

Woods got the glory and the trophies -- and a lot of money -- and we got to see the game of golf played at a level we likely thought was unattainable.

It's a shame we won't see any of it again.

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this, that and the other


Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez? On back to back nights?

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to the Reds and suggested that they take a long, hard look at acquiring Jimenez, he of the 3-0 record and 1.53 ERA in four lifetime starts in Cincinnati.

A 10th inning walk started things off and Mark Trumbo eventually came around to score on J.J. Hardy's single last night in Cincinnati to help the Birds beat the Reds, 2-1.

Maybe the Reds should also pick up some smelling salts so they can wake up at the plate.

For the second straight game, Cincinnati recorded just two hits, and the O's got a clutch 2-out single from J.J. Hardy to win last night, 2-1. Miley struck out 11 Reds in eight innings of work.

The Birds went 6-3 on their 11-day, 9-game road trip, and still haven't lost a series yet this season. And Brad Brach is now 2-for-2 in save situations after shutting the door on the Reds in the bottom of the 10th inning last night.

Mark Trumbo has as many home runs as Craig Gentry (1) and Manny Machado is hitting .176 -- and yet the Birds are still 10-4 and in first place in the A.L. East. Oh, and we haven't seen Chris Tillman make a start for the Orioles in 2017.

It's been a pretty good April thus far for Buck Showalter's team.

The Ravens schedule was released on Thursday, and for once, John Harbaugh's team won't finish the season in Cincinnati. Instead, that's where they'll open the campaign on September 3rd, facing the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. They'll actually host the Bengals on December 31 in the final regular season contest of 2017.

Perhaps the only schedule note worth griping about is the Steelers' visit on October 1st that comes the week after the Ravens play Jacksonville in London. Couldn't the league have given the Ravens a lay-up like the Browns on October 1st? Apparently not.

The schedule as a whole looks fair and balanced. Social media wasn't filled with complaints and angst on Thursday night, so if that's your barometer for determining if the masses like it, they evidently approved of it.

After winning Game 4 in Toronto on Wednesday night, the Capitals face a pivotal Game 5 tonight at the Verizon Center. If the Maple Leafs somehow pull this one off tonight, they'll head home for the potential clincher on Sunday evening. If the Caps can hang on and win tonight, they'll be in great position to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The Pittsburgh Penguins await for the winner of the Caps-Toronto series. Washington's playoff history with Pittsburgh is well documented. The Caps are 1-8 lifetime vs. Pittsburgh in the post-season, including last year's playoff ouster in six games. Pittsburgh beat Columbus last night, 5-2, to win their series 4-games-to-1. They'll be well rested for either the Capitals or Maple Leafs, whenever their series finally concludes.

The Caps have done this to themselves, of course, but the tension in the air is quite suffocating, particularly given the fact that Washington led the NHL in points in the regular season and Toronto scuffled just to make it in. There have been lots of playoff "collapses" authored by the Capitals over the years, but none would be as shocking as this one -- if they somehow don't finish off the Maple Leafs and advance. It can't be easy to play with that kind of stuff on your mind.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

With the resumption of the FA Cup at the weekend, which will include mouthwatering semifinal matchups between Chelsea and Tottenham on Saturday and Manchester City versus Arsenal on Sunday, and a slew of rescheduled fixtures to squeeze in, a prolonged Matchday 34 of the English Premier League kicks off on Saturday and will stretch well into next week, with the title race once again back on, a relegation decider, and the biggest Derby of the year all on the slate to round out a busy week. You won’t want to miss any of the action this week, so tune in and catch all of the action throughout the week live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Tuesday, April 25 (all times eastern)

2:45 pm – Southampton @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

After dropping three points only once in the previous six months to take what has several times throughout the season looked like an insurmountable advantage at the top of the table, Chelsea walked away empty handed for the second time in the last three weeks when they were unable to find a way to breakdown a tactically sound Manchester United in a 2-0 defeat. With only a four-point advantage over the charging Tottenham, who face a tricky London Derby away to Crystal Palace, the Blues will try desperately to gain additional breathing room when they welcome Southampton to Stamford Bridge.

The Saints had several chances to go ahead in the first half at Manchester City last weekend but, unable to capitalize, allowed three second half goals without reply to fall 3-0. Always a well disciplined and technically sound side, they are unlikely to struggle in back to back weeks however, they have lost their last two Premier League meetings against the Blues and managed to take all three points in only two of their previous sixteen meetings across all competitions (L9 D5) and, save for this fixture last season, have not won in their previous six trips to Stamford Bridge (L3 D3).

Wednesday, April 26 (all times eastern)

2:45 pm – Sunderland @ Middlesbrough – Riverside Stadium, NBC Live Extra

While Chelsea will continue to try to hold off Tottenham for the league’s top spot, at the other end of the table both Middlesbrough and Sunderland are hoping, maybe against hope, to somehow survive the campaign and guarantee another year in England’s top flight. The table bottom dwellers, who currently sit six and ten points from safety respectively, will square off for a massive relegation showdown at the Riverside Stadium Wednesday afternoon, with the end result likely to send at least one of the sides, if not possibly both, down to the Championship for next season.

Even with the parachute payments in place over the next several years to help ease the burden of relegation, the new television deal in place that we highlighted at the beginning of the season is likely to cost any team that drops down in excess of $100 million dollars, desperately crucial revenue to any small market team. Both sides will like their chances in the mid-week, with Middlesbrough taking the last two meetings but, prior to the recent setbacks, Sunderland going six unbeaten against Boro (W3 D3) and unbeaten in their last four trips to the Riverside Stadium (W2 D2).

Thursday, April 27 (all times eastern)

3 pm – Manchester United @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

While publicly Jose Mourinho may have labeled the victory as just another game, he had to gain a measure of satisfaction after employing a masterful tactical display that neutralized his former side and rejuvenated Manchester United’s hunt for a spot in the top four ahead of their trip across town for the 174th edition of the Manchester Derby, with the Reds now just four points behind Manchester City and enjoying the added bonus of a game in hand over not just their neighbors, but also two games in hand over the injury ravaged Liverpool, who sit in third place and six points head of United.

Mourinho will need to dig into his bag of tricks if he hopes to get a similar result in the mid-week, as he not only will come up against a City side who have lost only twice in the league since the New Year (W7 D4) but also his personal nemesis Pep Guardiola, who has gotten the better of his longtime rival over the years head to head (W8 D6 L4) and, despite dropping only one of their last five meetings with the Citizens across all competitions, they have dropped two of their last three excursions to the Etihad Stadium (W1) and where City has dropped only one game all season long (W8 D6).

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip, anyone?


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I'm working with the Yankees on group tickets, but the one-day trip is likely going to be in the $115 range, which includes your round-trip bus ride, breakfast, drinks on the ride up to New York, lunch when we arrive at the stadium, and a game ticket. I'm trying to finagle some lower-deck seats from the Yankees at a reasonable price. I should know more about that soon.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Thursday
April 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 20
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an open letter to the cincinnati reds


Dear Reds Organization,

I hope you all were paying attention last night.

I mean, really paying attention.

The Orioles beat you, yes, but that's not what I'm talking about.

Did you notice how they beat you?

Be smart, Reds organization. He could be pitching for you instead of against you.

Ubaldo Jimenez was spectacular last night. A couple of scraped-together runs were all the Birds needed thanks to Jimenez's outstanding start, which, admittedly, was his first decent showing of the season.

But, please, Reds, don't worry about the fact that Jimenez typically only has one of those starts every six weeks or so.

Instead, look more closely at what he's done in The Great American Ballpark.

He's been, ummm, "great". In four lifetime starts in your stadium in Cincinnati, he's 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA.

Sports is weird like that. You can call it "horses for courses" or some other cute saying, but occasionally people find a place to their liking for seemingly no reason at all.

Tiger Woods won at Firestone CC eight times in his career. Eight times. At one course. Matt Kuchar has seven wins -- in his entire career. And he's been a terrific player on the PGA Tour.

Ubaldo Jimenez becomes Cy Young when he pitches in Cincinnati. I hope you guys are taking notice of that.

What do I bring this up to you today? Because you might be on to something in Cincinnati this season, that's why. I know the Cubs are in the N.L. Central with you and it's likely they'll win the division (again), but a wild card berth in the National League is well within your reach.

And if the Reds are still hanging around in late July and you need a right handed pitcher, why not look for someone who has pitched well in YOUR ballpark?

Voila!!! Ubaldo Jimenez just might be available.

Here's the good news. By the end of July, you'll only be on the hook for about two or three million dollars of his remaining 2017 salary. And you'll only be paying him until the season's end. He's a free agent this winter.

What a find! You get a solid right hander who has been exceptional in your ballpark. And he's cheap. Oh, and not that you really care about this, but Jimenez is a total class act.

In a sport littered with stand-off'ish, entitled frat boys, Jimenez is down-to-earth and a legitimately solid guy in the clubhouse. He'll be a welcome asset in your locker room.

You saw what he did to you last night in Cincinnati. He's Tiger Woods at Firestone when he pitches in that ballpark. Four starts in his career and a 1.53 ERA to show for it. You guys clobbered the bejesus out of Kevin Gausman on Tuesday night. Your offense was en fuego. But then Jimenez showed up on Wednesday, sans firefighter outfit, and doused all of your flames.

Just remember that in July when the wild card race is starting to heat up and you need a right handed starter to help the Reds earn some important wins late in the season.

Oh, I almost forgot -- he even had a base hit last night! The Reds entire team collected just two hits on Wednesday. Jimenez himself had one hit for the Orioles. Just keep that in mind, too. You're getting a guy with shut-down stuff in your ballpark and a man who can handle himself at the plate with the lumber in his hand.

Heck, to be honest, you might want to consider making a deal right now. Imagine the kind of impact Jimenez would have with your team if he made 24 starts for you in 2017. Why wait until July? Call the Orioles now!

Two words of warning, though, since we're all friends here.

Pave the player's parking lot in mid-July or so and make sure it's free of any pot holes. I'll tell you why later, but trust me on that one.

And if you do happen to swing a deal before the end of May, you might want to leave Jimenez back in Cincinnati when you guys travel to Toronto to face the Blue Jays on May 29, 30 and 31. There's some history with Ubaldo and Rogers Centre that you should know about.

Please, Reds, take this note seriously. Jimenez would be an awesome addition to your roster at the end of July. Just pony up a middle-of-the-road prospect for us and we'll talk about a deal that makes sense for both teams.

Good luck the rest of the season.

DF

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caps hang on for game 4 win, even series with toronto at 2-2


I'm the first guy to remind everyone that "the other team tries too".

So, when I beat up the Capitals a little bit for letting Toronto back in the game last night, I have to remind myself that the Maple Leafs have players on scholarship just as the Caps do.

But that one last night was a lot closer than it needed to be, thanks mainly to the fact that Toronto just "wants it" more than the Capitals, in my opinion.

Yes, the Caps won Game 4. And that's all that matters, really. But their 5-4 win to even the series at 2-2 was anything but pretty. Maybe playoff hockey wins aren't supposed to look stylish, but this is the team with the best record in the regular season playing a team that squeaked their way into the post-season on the final weekend of the campaign.

The Caps raced out to a 4-1 first period lead. That advantage should have boosted them to a 6-1 or 6-2 win that was never in doubt. Instead of putting Toronto away, though, the Caps did what they always seem to do: ignore prosperity and make things difficult for themselves. Toronto worked their way back to deficits of 4-3 and 5-4 before the final horn sounded and the Capitals were fortunate winners.

Two goals from T.J. Oshie -- his first two of the series -- helped the Caps nip the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night in Toronto, 5-4.

The Capitals should be kicking ass and chewing bubblegum in this series.

Instead, they're sucking on a Lifesaver and barely hanging on.

I wasn't all that concerned when the Caps lost Game 2 at home in double overtime. I'm more concerned now, actually, after last night's Game 4 win. I'm not sure how that's possible, but I am.

Toronto wants the series more than the Caps. At least that's how it has come across through four games. Perhaps the Caps are still playing tight because of all the "How are the Caps gonna choke in the playoffs this year?" chatter or maybe the Maple Leafs are just a bad match-up for Barry Trotz's team. Whatever the case, I'm worried about these next three games.

Maybe the Maple Leafs have fired all of their bullets now and Game 5 and 6 will be cakewalks for the Capitals. There's a basic assumption that at some point in the series, the cream will, in fact, rise to the top. And if that does happen, the Caps win the next two, say all the right things about how Toronto is going to be a really good team in a year or two, and then move on for yet another post-season encounter with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That's how it should go.

But the Caps are the Caps. They're the Cincinnati Bengals of the NHL. For whatever reason, come playoff time, they tighten up. And what should be a rather routine series triumph over an inferior team suddenly becomes a dogfight.

And this, now, is a dogfight.

The Maple Leafs have reduced the series to a best-of-3 and they know -- since they've done it -- they can win at the Verizon Center.

The Capitals know what everyone else knows. They should win Game 5 and Game 6. But they could lose those two because that's what history suggests they'll do.

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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.


"defensemen, forwards and goalie -- we’ll win without a doubt…"


All this recent talk about the Capitals and the Blast got me thinking.

There was only one hockey team that ever really mattered to me, and mostly for two seasons in the mid-1980s. The Baltimore Skipjacks, under the leadership of Gene Ubriaco (1), brought some high-level hockey to the Civic Center.

There weren’t that many of us actually there to witness it, and the YouTube highlights are awfully grainy. But it happened.

Guys like Tim Tookey, Steve Carlson (2), and Bob Errey led the offense, while Phil Bourque steadied the defense. There were a couple enforcer types, one named Bennett Wolf and another, Marty McSorley, who just a few years later was the personal protector whom Wayne Gretzky insisted be traded with him from Edmonton to Los Angeles.

From 1983 through 1985, the Skipjacks won 91 games, lost 51 and tied 18. They won their division in 1984 and reached the American Hockey League championship series, the Calder Cup, in 1985, the same season in which the team set a then American professional hockey record of 16 consecutive wins.

$7.50 to sit in the best seats in the house. Those were the days...

Yet the attendance figures suggest an average of 3,500 fans per game during those two seasons, a number that actually seems inflated in retrospect. This was Baltimore, by far the largest city in the league, and the Civic Center, the largest arena in the league.

Meanwhile, during those two seasons, the arena’s other tenant, the Blast, averaged more than 11,000 fans per game (3), a near sellout.

Those fans were watching a strange hybrid version of the world’s most popular sport, “the beautiful game,” designed to be played in space, crammed inside Plexiglas boards. We, on the other hand, were watching hockey, the same game they were playing in Landover, and in Pittsburgh, where many of our players had at least the proverbial cup of coffee, if not more.

There’s someone else here at Drew's Morning Dish who can better speak to the factors behind the Blast’s popularity and the Skipjacks’ obscurity. He may have even had something to do with that. So I’ll leave that to him, and just talk about us.

We trudged downtown on cold winter weeknights (the Blast had all the good dates) and parked our cars on the streets in questionable places. We had a silly fight song (stolen from the old Clippers) that played after every goal, but we loved it. When it snowed, we created makeshift goals in the street and played hockey with sticks we’d covered with black and gold tape, the team colors.

We liked the team so much it barely even mattered that they were a farm team of a club in, you know, Pittsburgh. Yes, that Pittsburgh.

I was a kid, but I’m not sure the crowd was so kid-friendly: there was too much beer, the concourses during intermissions were filled with smoke and the language could be a little salty. Hockey is an expensive sport to play, and at the NHL level an expensive sport to attend, but Skipjacks games were blue-collar affairs.

Sure, it was the 1980s…there were plenty of goons to go around, and a fight or two per game was almost a certainty. But the quality of the hockey in the AHL was really quite exceptional. This was the era of the 21-team NHL (4), which meant more than 200 fewer jobs than today’s 30-team NHL. The league was mostly filled with real talents—prolific scorers, physical defensemen, up-and-coming goalies who couldn’t quite stick in the NHL.

Some of them stick in my mind more than others.

Mitch Lamoureux was a 5-foot-6 left-handed center that came out of junior hockey to score 107 points for the Skipjacks as an AHL rookie. He spent much of the 1984-85 season playing for the Penguins, but played in just three NHL games after that. Lamoureux is in the AHL Hall of Fame; his #16 is retired by the Hershey Bears, for whom he played for parts of seven seasons.

In 1985, a Finnish forward named Arto Javanainen came to Baltimore and scored 55 points in 59 games for the Skipjacks. He even managed a few games with the Penguins during the season. Obviously homesick, he returned to Finland after the season, never to return. I wished he would have come back.

Others were remarkably forgettable, at least for me. The team’s leading scorer in consecutive seasons was a right winger named Tom Roulston, a high NHL and WHA draft pick who never made it, playing out the string in Baltimore in his late 20s. I never would have remembered his name unless I looked it up.

In the Calder Cup championship series in 1985, the Skipjacks played Montreal’s top farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadiens. Sherbrooke had finished under .500 in the regular season but was buoyed by the playoff return of a teenage goalie named Patrick Roy, who had been briefly called up to the big club. Sherbrooke won the series, Roy went on to become one of the greatest hockey players ever, and the Skipjacks never again approached that level.

They had a couple decent seasons toward the end of their run in Baltimore, when they became the Capitals’ top farm team, but moved to Portland, Maine, in 1993 (5).

I was in college by that time, and was paying no attention to the Skipjacks. But I’ve never forgotten them, and I never will. They were, for a few years anyway, one of the best parts of my winter nights.

Notes --

(1) - The Ubriaco name still lives in Baltimore. Gene’s son, also named Gene, graduated from Boys’ Latin and has taught and coached there for many years. His son, who currently attends BL, has committed to play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins.

(2) - Steve Carlson is, of course, one of the Hanson Brothers from Slap Shot, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. Unlike his character, Carlson was actually a skilled hockey player.

(3) - It’s worth noting that the MISL at the time played a 48-game schedule, compared to an 80-game schedule for the AHL.

(4) - Just as it is today, 16 teams made the NHL playoffs back then. You had to be really bad to be one of the five teams that didn’t make it.

(5) - The last coach of the Skipjacks, 24 years ago? Barry Trotz, the current coach of the Capitals.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip, anyone?


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I'm working with the Yankees on group tickets, but the one-day trip is likely going to be in the $115 range, which includes your round-trip bus ride, breakfast, drinks on the ride up to New York, lunch when we arrive at the stadium, and a game ticket. I'm trying to finagle some lower-deck seats from the Yankees at a reasonable price. I should know more about that soon.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Wednesday
April 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 19
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i'll help the o's keep machado around


Full disclosure here, this was actually written a few hours prior to Tuesday night's series opener in Cincinnati.

So, if Chris Davis strikes out four times (editor's note: he didn't) or Trey Mancini clobbers two more home runs (he didn't), this is not a knee-jerk reaction to those factors.

I just want that clear from the start.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports penned a piece recently that delved into the topic of the Orioles, their future, and how stocking their farm system now is particularly prudent given the plethora of free agents the team will have in the next couple of years.

Some of it, naturally, ties in with the pending decision on Manny Machado.

That's where I'm going to help today.

This is not one of those pie-in-the-sky trade scenarios that people often suggest when they want their favorite team to make a move. "We'll give you Hyun Soo Kim, Ryan Flaherty, Ubaldo Jimenez, Craig Gentry and Vidal Nuno. You give us Gary Sanchez. How's that sound?".

No, it's not that.

But I am going to suggest something today that makes sense -- maybe -- and could help the Orioles with the Machado situation or, in their efforts to keep Chris Tillman, Adam Jones or Zach Britton.

It's wacky, mind you. And it would require that Davis be willing to bend a little, too, perhaps. And it takes a cooperative trade partner, which isn't necessarily going to be easy to find. But it's not "stupid-wacky". It's just a tad unconventional given the investment the Orioles just made in Chris Davis in January of 2016.

If I'm the Birds, I consider trading Davis now -- eating a bunch of his remaining salary -- and giving the first base job to Trey Mancini.

I hope you didn't spit out your Royal Farms coffee just now. If so, clean up the screen and get back with me so I can explain.

Let's do the simple stuff first. Mancini is nowhere near a proven product in the major leagues. I understand that. His 8-game sample size doesn't tell us nearly enough to etch in stone just how good he's going to be. But given what we saw from him at Norfolk and looking at the basic mechanics of his swing, there's no real reason to doubt his ability to contribute at the big-league level.

If you're willing to concede that Mancini can be a competent, proven player with the Orioles in the future, we have a starting point to discuss my idea of shopping Davis.

The Orioles could also duplicate this idea I'm presenting and use, say, Mark Trumbo as the trade-bait, but I don't think Trumbo would fetch you a whole lot in return and the money you'd wind up saving wouldn't matter all that match in the long run.

Davis is the key part of this idea. He has real value to someone, both at the plate and in the field.

I'm presupposing here that the Orioles are going to have a tough time coming up with $35 million a year to give to Manny Machado. I think that's a fair guess. Oh, and Machado might actually command upwards of $40 million a year in 2019. If the Birds can't afford $35 million, they're not going to have $40 million, either.

So, why not try and trade Davis now, absorb $10 million a year of his remaining deal, and free up $13 million a year to hand over to Machado in a couple of years?

And -- even better -- get a couple of legit prospects in exchange for Davis while you're at it.

In this proposed idea, Mancini takes over at first base, where we can pretty much assume these numbers once he's established in the big leagues: If he plays 150 games there, he'll hit somewhere in the range of 25-35 home runs. He's going to hit somewhere around .275, I think, and get on base at a .340 clip. And he's not going to strike out 220 times, for sure.

His defense is still very much a question mark simply because we don't have enough evidence in place to render a verdict, but at first blush, he looks reasonably competent with the glove.

Oh, and one more important thing: For now, at least, Mancini costs you $545,000.

Davis costs you $23 million.

This isn't a Wally Pipp situation, per se, but it's cut from the same cloth. While the Orioles were busy over-paying Chris Davis 16 months ago, they had his replacement within their own grasp and didn't realize it. Now that we've seen a small slice of Mancini in action, it's fair to say the kid might be able to do about 80% of what Davis can do for $22,500,000 less than Davis can do it.

I understand that Davis wasn't hotly pursued when he was a free agent after the 2015 campaign. That had a lot more to do with Davis wanting $250 million and a lot less to do with teams not putting value on him. That's my take on it, anyway.

That he and his agent bilked the Orioles out of $161 million isn't the story here, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention (when broaching this trade idea) that no one in baseball really wanted him sixteen months ago.

But they didn't want him at $25 million a year. Keep that in mind. It's similar to what happened to Mark Trumbo this past off-season. He wanted $20 million a year for five years. His phone didn't ring. He wanted $18 million a year for 5 years. His phone still didn't ring. He finally "settled" for $36 million for three years with the O's.

Teams were interested in Trumbo last winter, but probably at $10 million a year, not $20 million a year.

Teams were probably interested in Davis two years ago -- but not at $25 million a year.

Look at it this way. If Davis suddenly became a free agent today, would any team give him the $23 million contract he currently plays under? Nope.

So -- how do you deal Davis in this proposed scenario I'm presenting? If you're the Orioles, you eat some of his salary. I don't know what the magic number is, but I'll just go with $10 million a year because it's a round figure.

If the O's agree to eat $10 million a year for the remaining five years, that means Davis' new team pays $13 million a year for him for the last five (plus) years.

Sure, there's some tricky, sticky stuff in there because a lot of the first baseman's money with the Orioles is deferred, but that's why the Orioles have seven-figure attorneys on their staff. They'll figure that stuff out over one long weekend at the Hamptons.

But if the Orioles could find a willing trade partner, that's a scenario that immediately frees up $13 million a year to include in the Machado negotiation.

Davis' salary is already on the books. It doesn't actually matter if that money goes to Davis or someone else. But if you're the Orioles and you wind up $50 million apart with Machado, that money you save with the Davis deal might be the magic elixr to keeping #13 in orange.

And you'd get a couple of high-level propsects from someone in exchange for Davis.

If I'm Duquette, I get on the phone with the Blue Jays right away. They have tons of money. They need help. And Dan, as we know, has a warm-and-fuzzy feeling for the Blue Jays.

I don't know much about Toronto's farm system, granted. Maybe, like the Orioles, they don't have much. But if they have a couple of legit, high-level young players, that's a deal worth pursuing.

One more thing that's important: Davis has a partial no-trade clause in his current contract. What that means, exactly, is anyone's guess, because those details weren't publicized, but industry standards would suggest Davis can annually provide a list of teams that he can't be traded to without his approval. How many teams are on the list? Who knows...

But the fact remains that the Orioles do have the ability to ship Davis, although he would potentially play more of a role in the trade than you might otherwise prefer. It's typically kind of touchy when you call a guy and say, "You know, about that partial no-trade clause in your deal. We were looking at the teams on that list and we didn't see the Texas Rangers on it. And, well, we called them earlier today and your name came up."

So, yes, this isn't as easy as trading Jonathan Schoop, who has virtually no say at all when it comes to matters like trades and such.

I told you from the start this was a wacky concept, and somewhat complicated. There are lots of moving parts and Davis would need to cooperate with his own job transfer, but it's one I would pursue if I'm the Orioles.

Their farm system is ranked 27th in the major leagues. There are only 30 teams, remember. You can do that math and figure out the Birds need big help in the minors.

This is a way to help replenish the cupboard in Bowie and Norfolk, save some real money for Machado, and give Mancini the regular playing time -- at his natural position -- that he deserves.

And if Machado doesn't want your money in 2018-2019, you have $50 million to spread around to help keep Jones, Britton, or some other free agent, potentially.

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it's never "must win" until your season is on the line, but for the caps...


Let's not get caught up in calling tonight's Caps-Maple Leafs game in Toronto a "must-win" affair for Barry Trotz's team.

It's not.

Friday night's game in D.C. will be "must win" if the Caps fail to win tonight. But this evening's game in Canada isn't win-or-go-home for the Capitals.

That said, they need a freakin' win tonight in the worst way.

If they lose tonight, they'll spend the next two days reading, hearing and absorbing mounds of discussion about how the Caps are "doing it again". They'll spend the next 48 hours contemplating yet another April collapse. It's not healthy, and the chances they'd wrestle their way out of a 3-1 hole and win the series are remote.

Tonight is a huge game for the Capitals.

And it's also a huge game for Barry Trotz.

Trotz spent a lot of the season configuring four offensive lines, which naturally reduced the playing time of guys like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Trotz did that, in part, to have those three be more rested for the playoffs. That's what he said, anyway.

In the post-season, though, rather than go with three lines (and maybe give the fourth line one or two shifts per-period, max, just to keep them somewhat fresh and into the game), Trotz rolled with the four-line concept. It helped in Game One when Tom Wilson scored the game-winner, but now Washington finds themselves in a 2-1 series hole and Ovechkin has just two goals in thirteen periods of playoff hockey.

Yes, Ovi had gobs of chances to end both Game One and Game Two, and failed to do so. But the more he's on the ice, the higher his chances of breaking out and having one of those games where he scores two or three goals and is the reason the team wins instead of the reason the team loses.

Who do you want on the ice? Brett Connolly or Alex Ovechkin? Tom Wilson or Evgeny Kuznetsov?

It's probably too late to cycle out of this now and sit the fourth line, but Trotz has to figure out a way to get Ovechkin more involved. And, obviously, Ovechkin has to do more with the ice team he's given.

But no matter what recipe the head coach puts together for tonight's 4th game, it better include a win for dessert.

If the Capitals don't win tonight, they're in a heap of trouble. And worst of all? Their elimination could come at home on Friday night, which would be torture for a fan base that has supported the franchise through a decade or more of these spring choke jobs.

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my blast "mount rushmore" even contains a prince


In creating my own personal "Mount Rushmore" of the four best Baltimore Blast players ever, I chiseled away at the effort with a couple of early confessions.

While I certainly admire what the Blast has done over the last 15 years or so, none of the four players who made my Mount Rushmore are from "this era". They've had some very good players throughout the last two decades, mind you, and Danny Kelly has now been the head coach in Baltimore longer than Kenny Cooper was at the helm (1980-1994), but none of the current crop of Blast players were able to get past the four names I wound up choosing.

That's more of a testament to the quality of play in the MISL in the 1980's and less about the quality of play in today's league. There are some very good players in professional indoor soccer right now, but the talent level in the league in the early 1980's was off-the-charts-good.

Several of the Blast's outstanding players in the 1980's didn't make my Mount Rushmore, but deserve recognition nonetheless. Domenic Mobilio, who passed away tragically at age 35 a decade ago, was a wonderfully talented player who showed up in Baltimore at 19 years of age and became one of the game's best offensive players almost overnight. The late Paul Kitson was a star in Baltimore in the early 1980's and was a key figure in the 1983-84 MISL championship team. And Joey Fink, who scored perhaps the most memorable goal in franchise history (for that "era" of the team) in Game 4 of the 1983 Championship Series vs. San Diego, was also someone I considered for my Mount Rushmore, but he ended up not making the final cut.

I bring those three up specifically to remind everyone that choosing four players for the Blast's Mount Rushmore is not easy work. When you're passing up on the likes of Fink, Kitson and Mobilio, you know you have some tough decisions to make.

I saw them all play, up close and personal, during my time with the Blast (1981-1998). I'm not much of a Blast historian when it comes to anything past 1998, mind you, but if it happened between 1980 and 1998, I'm more than well aware of it. In fact, I was probably there.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend casually mentioned that a former Blast player was now working in his company. I asked who it was and he gave me the name, saying he played for the team in "1982 or 83".

"Ummm, I don't know if you want to know this or not," I said, almost apologetically. "But he never played for the Blast."

"Sure he did," my friend said. "He said the team practiced over on Route 40. He said that Kenny Coo --" I put up my hand to stop him. "Yes," I said, "the team practiced on Route 40 back then. Kenny Cooper was the coach. But I'm telling you, that guy never played one second of soccer for the Blast. Not one."

I have a solid memory for those things, still.

When Mike Stankovic came to Baltimore in 1981, he was a 27-year old former Yugoslavian accordian player who had about a month's worth of indoor soccer experience when he played for the Dallas Tornado of the old NASL.

Within three years, Stankovic was one of the best players in the entire MISL.

And one of the meanest, too.

And, as the ladies around town would confess, one of the most charming as well.

It all added up to "Prince Mike" becoming one of the franchise's most popular and celebrated players ever. He's still in town today, running summer camps and helping coach youth teams, all because he made quite the name for himself while playing for the Blast.

Mike Stankovic is the second of four players on my personal "Mount Rushmore" of the Baltimore Blast.

Someone recently asked me to play word association with Blast players from my era. When they offered the name "Mike Stankovic", I immediately blurted out, "Bad ass."

That's what he was. A bad ass.

Sure, he spent a little too much time in the penalty box. I always thought Stankovic would be the first player to put a roll of quarters in his sock so he could pull them out and use them at precisely the right time during a game. He was tough. And a little dirty, occasionally.

But when he wasn't in the penalty box, he was a terror.

Strong as an ox, able to hit the ball equally well with either foot, and also capable of defending the team's top scoring threat. That's what made Stankovic so great.

If the old MISL had a true Hall of Fame, he would have been a first-ballot guy. Stankovic was one of the best players the league ever had.

He finished his career coaching the team. I hired Mike in 1995 to coach the Spirit (nee Blast) at mid-season after we got off to a 13-11 start and a bunch of players quit on Dave MacWilliams, who was in his second year with the club.

Stankovic came in like a bull, practicing longer, harder and running around out there himself, bouncing guys off the boards and getting them all a little more tough.

We finished the season 12-4 under Stankovic in that first season and eventually beat Harrisburg in the first round of the playoffs, something we hadn't done in three previous tries.

I have so many Mike Stankovic stories -- this space, today, doesn't allow for many of them to be told.

But one of my favorites comes from the 1981-82 season, when he was a fresh faced kid making a name for himself in the league and I was running around fetching pizza for people in my first job as a Public Relations Assistant.

The Blast advanced to the playoffs that year and played the Pittsburgh Spirit in the first round. Pittsburgh had an all-world indoor player named Stan Terlecki on their team. He was one of the best offensive players in the league.

In the decisive third game at the Igloo in Pittsburgh, Stankovic scored a goal himself and shut Terlecki down as the Blast won, 4-2, to win the series.

As we were gathering outside the locker room to board the team bus and head back to the hotel, a bunch of Pittsburgh players walked past us and then stopped, looking back at their locker room as if they were waiting for someone. Stankovic, his English not so great at that point, yelled out to one of them: "If you're looking for Terlecki, he's right here." Stankovic patted his right pants pocket. "Right here in my pocket."

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we have four seats left on our london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We still have room for four more people on our trip to the U.K.!! We'd like to add these in groups of two or four, obviously, so if you're interested in securing seats on our trip, we'd love to have you!

We're flying over on British Airways and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.

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Tuesday
April 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 18
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history says ravens shouldn't take a first-round wide receiver


Unless something wacky happens next week, the Ravens are going to have their pick of a high-quality wide receiver with their 1st round pick in the NFL Draft.

I don't give out much football advice to the powers-that-be at Owings Mills. But today I will.

DON'T DO IT!

It's going to be very tempting -- and perhaps the right thing to do -- to take one of the "big three" with that 16th pick in the first round. Mock drafts being what they are (unpredictable) we all know one or two guys going early where they weren't supposed to go can shake things up drastically, but the Ravens are apparently on a crash course to have either John Ross, Mike Williams or Corey Davis available to them in the first round.

All three make reasonable sense for selection at #16.

But the Ravens, if history does indeed repeat itself, should heed that warning and look elsewhere in the first round.

If Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is available with the 16th pick in the first round, the Ravens will surely be tempted to select him. But should they?

For whatever reason, drafting wide receivers has never been one of the franchise's strong suits. There's no exact science to it, or anything in particular you can point to and say, "This, right here, is why the Ravens are not good at sizing up wide receiver talent." They're just not good at it.

In fairness, Breshad Perriman is still a work-in-progress, having played his first real NFL season in 2016. There's still time for him to get it right, and honestly, there were times last season when he more than looked the part. But those I speak with still at Owings Mills say he's an average route runner with only "good" hands -- nothing more. Speed is his biggest asset, obviously, but at some point you also have to catch the ball when it's thrown your way.

Even allowing the club a temporary "pass" on the Perriman pick while he sorts himself out, there have been 24 other wide receivers taken by the Ravens since 1996. None have turned out to be worth a hoot. Sure, some caught a few TD's along the way, made some nice money, and even left the Ravens and went on and played elsewhere in the NFL, but in Baltimore, at least, they didn't pan out as projected.

25 wide receivers selected -- no stars at the position.

So, while it's easy to wave the red flag in the direction of Owings Mills and advise the front office folks to avoid selecting a wide receiver in the first round, that brings about an even bigger problem for the 2017 team.

They currently don't have any depth at that position. The team's top two receivers right now are the aforementioned Perriman and second year Raven Mike Wallace. Yes, yes, I'm aware Michael Campanaro was recently re-signed and he is, in fact, a wide receiver. But I'm not counting him as "depth" at that position, I'm sorry.

With only two wide receivers in the fold, the Ravens are almost forced to take a receiver (assuming one of the big three is on the board at #16) on April 27th. History tells us that's bad news.

The good news? The Ravens have plenty of needs elsewhere, so finding a suitable pick-and-play guy for the upcoming season shouldn't be difficult. Right tackle is open, the center position could stand an upgrade, a high quality running back wouldn't be a bad idea -- and that's just on offense.

Defensively, you can never have enough multi-use defensive linemen, plus middle linebacker and cornerback are also prime areas of need. With Terrell Suggs in the November of his career and Elvis Dumervil gone, a quarterback-chasing rush end wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

But that wide receiver at #16 will be awfully tempting for the Ravens. All three players look NFL ready, although each, oddly enough, comes with a smidgen or two of risk attached. Sorting them out and coming up with the best one is the biggest challenge faced by Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and the scouting staff.

And once they've done that, then they have to ask themselves, "Do we believe in ourselves enough to take a receiver with this pick and risk not getting it right?"

There's an old, timeless saying: "Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't."

Maybe the Ravens "know" taking receivers in the first round just isn't their cup of tea. Tough to admit? Sure. But better to admit it and not make a mistake than to eschew that wisdom and dive in again -- only to get burned for the umpteenth time?

That's the call facing the Ravens next Thursday.

And it's not made any easier given the lack of depth at the team's receiver position. They desperately need pass catchers. Good ones, at that.

It doesn't help that there's little chance of landing any quality at all via the free agency route between now and Labor Day. A couple of training camp cast-offs might become available, sure, but are any of them really going to be good enough to make an impact in 2017?

The draft is where it's at when it comes to acquiring new talent. The Ravens have always been fairly adept at the draft in totality. They just haven't been any good at taking receivers.

Without question, they'll be taking receivers (plural) next week. They have to, in fact. But taking one with that first pick in the first round? Very risky, indeed.

The ghosts of Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton aside, the Ravens would be better served going with a cornerback, rush end or right tackle with that 16th pick. Their drafting history in those positions is better than anything they've produced with receiver selections.

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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.


bundy emerging as o's long-awaited ace?


Among the many storylines beginning to write themselves in the first few weeks of the new baseball season, the most exciting one in Baltimore has to be the emergence of Dylan Bundy as the sort of stud starting pitcher everyone in the organization always counted on him being.

Bundy hasn't followed a traditional path to the big leagues, with multiple injuries and the fact that he was signed to a MLB deal out of high school and, thus, was out of minor league options to begin the 2016 season forcing him onto the big league roster with VERY little professional experience. But despite that, in effectively his rookie season as a starter Bundy has roared out of the gate looking like the kind of pitcher who can anchor a rotation and help carry a team to the postseason.

The raw numbers certainly tell a story of sorts on their own that speaks to how well the former 4th overall pick has pitched this season.

Over 3 starts, Bundy has a 1.86 ERA and 1.64 FIP with 17 strikesouts and just 3 walks in 19.1 innings pitched. The "outlier" start in the group came against Boston, who figures to be one of the league's best offenses, at Fenway Park, in a game where he went 6.1 innings and allowed 3 runs. In most contexts, you call that a starting pitcher "battling" or "giving you a chance to win," and if that ends up being one of his 5 or 6 worst starts of the year then Bundy is going to be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.

In those other two starts, however, Bundy was downright dominant. And yes, both of them came against the Blue Jays, who are really scuffling offensively so far, but here's another thing to consider: Those two starts came less than two weeks apart from one another. Scuffling or not, a big league lineup can make adjustments to a young pitcher in that short of a time frame, and if Bundy's season opening performance was a fluke it should have shown up in the results on Sunday.

Instead, Bundy completed six shutout innings on 99 pitches with six strikeouts and just one walk. He was a little less efficient, completing one fewer inning than he did the first go around, but otherwise he was still lights out, and he even showed the poise to do it all after getting into a first-and-third-with-no outs jam in the very first inning.

What makes Sunday's effort even more impressive is the way Bundy approached facing the same lineup again in such a short time frame. Given the way he dominated them with his newly refined slider the first go-round, it would have been easy to bring the same gameplan and expect it to work again. But this is why lineups often adjust, assuming they know what's coming. Instead, while Bundy still utilized his slider at effectively the same rate as he did in the first game, this time around he drastically increased the number of changeups thrown while cutting back the fastballs to just a hair over 37% of all of his pitches.

This isn't an insignificant tweak: Bundy's changeup and slider come in at essentially the same velocity, but while the slider darts down and away from righties the changeup drops down and in. Essentially you get two pitches at the same speed with the same arm angle that go in different ways from their break point. Oh...and then you also have the 92-94 MPH fastball to worry about.

And the results speak for themselves. Not just the six shutout innings, but the way that Bundy got there. He generated a 13% whiff rate which his changeup, and a 33.33% whiff rate with his slider. Or, put another way, one out of every three times Bundy threw a slider the hitter swung and missed at it. If we limit that to just sliders that the hitter swung at, the whiff rate goes up to 62%. That's the epitome of an unhittable pitch.

His whiff rate on the fastball went up by nearly a full percentage point as well. It turns out that it's really hard to hit the ball when you don't know what's coming or where it's going to break to!

Of course these results weren't nearly as impressive against Boston, and given the possibility that Toronto will take a dive after losing Edwin Encarnacion, Bundy might be picking off the low hanging fruit and won't actually finish his season looking like the second coming of Pedro Martinez.

But even so, Sunday's performance is impressive both for the bottom line numbers and for the poise and maturity of approach Bundy showed in attacking the Jays' lineup.

Rather than simply going back to what worked he tweaked his approach and kept hitters off balance in a very different manner than he had just 11 days prior. With four above average pitches at his disposal, that kind of maturity and headiness on the mound and in preparation for the game, Bundy is likely to continue turning in solid outing after solid outing for the duration of this season.

Yes it's early in the year, but all signs indicate that the Orioles may finally have developed their ace starter.

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don't look now, but caps are in their typical april hole


I understand the social media panic as it relates to the Caps and last night's 4-3 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs.

I get it better than anyone, actually, since I've been following those ne'er-do-wells for 40 years now.

But I still don't see the Capitals losing this series to Toronto, despite the 2-1 series hole they're now in after squandering -- and that's putting it mildly -- last night's third game.

Washington went up 2-0 last night before the game was five minutes old. That, the TV announcers opined, was "just what the doctor ordered" for the Capitals, who were lucky winners in Game 1 last Thursday and overtime losers in Game 2 on Saturday.

After an outstanding regular season, T.J. Oshie has been silenced in three games thus far by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"They needed to jump out to a lead like this and they got it. Well done, Caps," said color analyst Craig Laughlin in his twangy-familiar tone on the CSN broadcast last night.

The lead eventually stretched out to 3-1 in the second period and then -- the game changed. And not for the good.

Toronto lost their cool and were forced to play two minutes of 5-on-3 shorthanded hockey. "This," I told myself from the cozy confines of my living room, "will be the defining moment in the series. If the Caps score here and put this one away, it's game over and, probably, series over. But if Toronto somehow kills this off..." I didn't let myself finish the sentence.

The Maple Leafs did, in fact, kill off the 2-man disadvantage. Then, for good measure, they killed off another 2-minute penalty moments later when they were caught with too many men on the ice.

The Capitals had four minutes of power play hockey, two of which handed them a 2-man edge on the ice, and still couldn't score a goal.

By the time the second period ended, the game was all knotted up at 3-3.

It stayed that way throughout the 3rd period, with both teams creating several quality scoring chances that came up empty. For the third straight game, Toronto's Frederik Anderson was a game changer in goal. He's the MVP of the series thus far, without question.

A late penalty to Lars Eller for high sticking gave the Maple Leafs a power play that bled over into overtime. They were able to finish the job on a nifty shoot-and-deflect play that sent the Toronto faithful into a frenzy.

The Caps actually got solid performances Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Each scored a goal, in fact. But the other goal scoring threats -- Burakovsky, Williams and Oshie -- didn't do much of anything, and Burakovsky's defense was minor league at best most of the night.

It's fair to note that Washington played Game 3 without the services of Karl Alzner, who missed the contest due to injury. His absence was particularly felt on the game-winning goal, a power play tally for the Maple Leafs early in sudden death.

The Caps have been in this position before, mind you. It's their April right-of-passage: Have a great regular season, get into the playoffs, lose to a team you have no business losing to.

I still believe this time is going to be different. It might take six or seven games, but the Caps aren't losing to this Maple Leafs squad that barely qualified for the playoffs in the first place.

That said, don't let my bravado fool you. Toronto thinks they can win the series now. And, because the Caps are the Caps and these April collapses are in their DNA, the Maple Leafs might win the next two games and end things quickly.

As I've said for a long time, "the team that thinks they're really good is often more dangerous than the team that actually is really good.

The Maple Leafs fit that bill. They're now starting to believe that they actually are good. The Caps need to win Game 4 on Wednesday night and stymie that thinking a little bit.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip, anyone?


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I'm working with the Yankees on group tickets, but the one-day trip is likely going to be in the $115 range, which includes your round-trip bus ride, breakfast, drinks on the ride up to New York, lunch when we arrive at the stadium, and a game ticket. I'm trying to finagle some lower-deck seats from the Yankees at a reasonable price. I should know more about that soon.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Monday
April 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 17
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fact and opinion kicks off the week


FACT: Zach Britton will miss at least the next nine days after being placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday morning. Britton said he “felt something” in his pitching arm during his inning of work on Friday night when the O’s beat the Blue Jays.

OPINION: Maybe the Birds won't get enough late game leads to prove this point I’m about to make -- or maybe they'll have a bunch of games where they're up by several runs late -- but it will be interesting to see how many game-closing situations the O’s get while Britton’s gone and whether the team’s temporary closer duplicates Britton’s level of success. Here’s my guess, and it comes with an “if”. If the Birds get at least four games where they own a late lead, I say the team’s new closer blows one of them.

FACT: Wesley Bryan was the winner of the PGA Tour event at Harbour Town on Sunday, giving him his first win on the “big” Tour after earning a battlefield promotion on the Web.com Tour a year ago by winning three times on the smaller circuit.

OPINION: Though he doesn’t have the pedigree that the TOUR’s other American young guns possess (Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell), Bryan could wind up playing alongside them at either this year’s President’s Cup or the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. He’s a really good player, for starters, but more important than that – he knows how to win. He’s known more for social media trick shots with his brother, but don’t be fooled. Bryan’s the real deal.

Ervin Santana and the Twins are off to a good start in 2017, but can Minnesota compete with the Indians in the A.L. Central?

FACT: Ervin Santana is currently the American League’s top starter through the two weeks of the season, compiling a 3-0 record with a 0.41 ERA and a 0.45 WHIP. But wait, there’s one other wild stat for Santana thus far. Opposing hitters are batting .071 against him in three starts to date.

OPINION: Everyone believes Cleveland’s going to run away with the A.L. Central, but the Twins might be able to hang around long enough to at least be a Wild Card threat come September. They have some talented offensive players and if Santana can continue to have a stellar campaign on the mound, maybe Minnesota can sniff the 88 win mark.

FACT: There are few things in life that make me more mad than being forced to compliment the Pittsburgh Penguins.

OPINION: The Penguins are now 3-0 in their best of seven series with Columbus after Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win. The final play of the game was a glorious snapshot of Sidney Crosby and why he’s the best player in the league (yeah, it was hard to type those words). Twice he was able to help keep the puck in the Columbus defensive end, then #87 set up shop behind the goal, where he out-muscled a couple of Blue Jacket defenders to retain possession of the puck. Crosby was finally able to escape one of them long enough to slip a pass to the front of the net where it was tucked home for the game-winning goal. There aren’t many players in the league who are capable of doing what Crosby did on that final play, I’m afraid to say. Pansy? You bet. Great player? Indeed he is.

FACT: Towson University men’s lacrosse clinched a spot in their sixth straight CAA tournament on Saturday with a hard-fought 10-6 win at Delaware on Saturday night.

OPINION: Towson will likely have to win the CAA conference tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament this year. But if they can get to the Big Dance, who knows how far Towson can go? There have been no less than seven teams ranked #1 thus far in the college lacrosse season, and there’s still nearly a month remaining in the campaign. Syracuse, Penn State, Rutgers – they’ve all been ranked #1 at some point this season and the Tigers wouldn’t be totally outclassed in any game against one of those three.

FACT: Golden State and Cleveland both kicked off their quest for a return trip to the NBA Finals with wins over the weekend in Game 1 of their opening playoff series. The Warriors have a pesky first round opponent (Portland) and the Cavaliers face an Indiana team that fell by a single point in Game One on Saturday.

OPINION: I don't go in-depth on the NBA much around here, but I do follow the playoffs quite intently. Something tells me Cleveland isn't getting back to the Finals this year. Whether that's Boston or someone else that beats them, I don't know, but I'll go with the Celtics advancing to the Finals in the East and the Warriors returning once again from the West. Golden State wins the title in five games over the Celtics in June.

FACT: Clayton Kershaw is off to a 2-1 start for the Dodgers. His ERA is 2.53, which would be perfectly acceptable for anyone else in baseball, but is about a half-run higher than his norm. On Saturday night, Kershaw walked his first batter of the season. He now has 22 strikeouts and 1 walk in three starts in 2017.

OPINION: When he's finished his career, his numbers will be the best-ever by a pitcher. Kershaw likely won't win 300 games, but he'll be a slam-dunk first ballot Hall of Famer and all of his advanced metrics (WHIP, K/BB per 9, FIP) will be better than anyone else's -- ever. He already has three Cy Young Awards and he isn't yet 30 years old. Expect him to win five, at least, before his days are done.

FACT: The Capitals and Maple Leafs resume their series tonight in Toronto. The Maple Leafs won Game 2 on Saturday night in dramatic fashion, 4-3 in double overtime. Washington won the regular season series 3-games-to-1, in case you care about those things.

OPINION: It's early yet, but this series has all the makings of a typical Caps post-season upset. I hate to say it, but it does. Through two games thus far, Alex Ovechkin has just one goal, while T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov have yet to tally. That's typically what happens to the Caps come playoff time -- the big offensive guns go silent. Oh, and the other team's goalie usually stands on his head, which is exactly what Toronto's Frederick Andersen has done thus far in the two games to date. Caps need a win tonight. I say they get it -- 4-2.

FACT: Bartolo Colon won his 234th career game on Sunday as the Braves beat the Padres, 9-2. Oh, and former Oriole Nick Markakis has a 10-game hitting streak for the Braves.

OPINION: Colon won't make the Hall of Fame, not with a career ERA of 3.94, but if baseball had a Hall of Very Good, you could get his plaque ready. If you're thinking Colon has been pitching forever, you're sorta-kinda right. He'll be 44 this May.

FACT: Trey Mancini hit his 4th home run of the season on Sunday in the O's 11-4 win over Toronto. That gives him the team lead in round-trippers through two weeks of the season. Craig Gentry got his first two hits of the season on Sunday -- one of them was a homer as well -- to raise his average all the way up to .118 on the year.

OPINION: Mancini has four home runs thus far. Mark Trumbo has one. Don't expect that disparity to continue. Trumbo will finish the year with 35 homers and Mancini will cool off and finish with 24. But this is still an impressive start for Trey, who got some work in at first base on Sunday and wasn't terrible.

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my blast "mount rushmore" begins between the pipes


In creating my own personal "Mount Rushmore" of the four best Baltimore Blast players ever, I chiseled away at the effort with a couple of early confessions.

While I certainly admire what the Blast has done over the last 15 years or so, none of the four players who made my Mount Rushmore are from "this era". They've had some very good players throughout the last two decades, mind you, and Danny Kelly has now been the head coach in Baltimore longer than Kenny Cooper was at the helm (1980-1994), but none of the current crop of Blast players were able to get past the four names I wound up choosing.

That's more of a testament to the quality of play in the MISL in the 1980's and less about the quality of play in today's league. There are some very good players in professional indoor soccer right now, but the talent level in the league in the early 1980's was off-the-charts-good.

Several of the Blast's outstanding players in the 1980's didn't make my Mount Rushmore, but deserve recognition nonetheless. Domenic Mobilio, who passed away tragically at age 35 a decade ago, was a wonderfully talented player who showed up in Baltimore at 19 years of age and became one of the game's best offensive players almost overnight. The late Paul Kitson was a star in Baltimore in the early 1980's and was a key figure in the 1983-84 MISL championship team. And Joey Fink, who scored perhaps the most memorable goal in franchise history (for that "era" of the team) in Game 4 of the 1983 Championship Series vs. San Diego, was also someone I considered for my Mount Rushmore, but he ended up not making the final cut.

I bring those three up specifically to remind everyone that choosing four players for the Blast's Mount Rushmore is not easy work. When you're passing up on the likes of Fink, Kitson and Mobilio, you know you have some tough decisions to make.

I saw them all play, up close and personal, during my time with the Blast (1981-1998). I'm not much of a Blast historian when it comes to anything past 1998, mind you, but if it happened between 1980 and 1998, I'm more than well aware of it. In fact, I was probably there.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend casually mentioned that a former Blast player was now working in his company. I asked who it was and he gave me the name, saying he played for the team in "1982 or 83".

"Ummm, I don't know if you want to know this or not," I said, almost apologetically. "But he never played for the Blast."

"Sure he did," my friend said. "He said the team practiced over on Route 40. He said that Kenny Coo --" I put up my hand to stop him. "Yes," I said, "the team practiced on Route 40 back then. Kenny Cooper was the coach. But I'm telling you, that guy never played one second of soccer for the Blast. Not one."

I have a solid memory for those things, still.

For no reason in particular, I'm kicking off my Blast Mount Rushmore with Scott Manning, who is (was) the best goalkeeper in the history of the franchise, with all due respect to Keith Van Eron, Cris Vaccaro and William Vanzela.

Manning was not only the best Blast netminder ever, he was one of the best goaltenders in the league throughout much of the mid-1980's. He finished the 1986-87 season with an amazing 3.47 goals against average. Stop right there and consider that. Manning gave up less than four goals per-game that season. Wow...

Scott was one of the first goalies in the MISL to actively watch game tape and study the shooting preferences of opposing forwards. He knew which players like to go far post, who liked to hit it high, low, first-time it, etc. If Manning got beat, it was never because he was unprepared. I don't think I saw many players in my 17-year tenure with the Blast who worked harder at their craft than Manning, who was always one of those "first to arrive, last to leave" types at practice.

That Manning isn't in the Blast Hall of Fame is laughable. It's not worth sharing the details here, but let's just say it involves a petty situation between the club and Manning, one that has nothing at all to do with the goalkeeper's glorious run with the Blast in the 1980's. There are five or six players on the team's Hall of Fame banner at the Royal Farms Arena who weren't half as valuable to the team as Manning was -- and that's the truth.

At a time in the league when nearly every team had a world-class offensive sharpshooter or two, Manning was at the top of the MISL goalkeeping class for a decade. The Blast's 1983-84 title was won in large part thanks to Manning, who was outstanding in the two road wins at St. Louis (Game 3 and 4) in that series. He was also on top of his game the following year when Kenny Cooper's team advanced to a second consecutive MISL championship series before losing to San Diego in five games.

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we have four seats left on our london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We still have room for four more people on our trip to the U.K.!! We'd like to add these in groups of two or four, obviously, so if you're interested in securing seats on our trip, we'd love to have you!

We're flying over on British Airways and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.

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Sunday
April 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXIII
Issue 16
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duquette’s roster-juggling expertise
is needed again


For those of you who celebrate the Easter holiday, I hope you have an enjoyable day celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

There are lots of historical moments I wish I could have witnessed personally. I think often about what it must have been like to roll away that large stone from the front of the tomb and see nothing or no one in there.

Imagine the surprise of those who contributed to his death when they realized Jesus had risen.

The Orioles managed just six hits on Saturday afternoon in a 2-1 loss to the lowly Blue Jays.

The meager offensive output wasted a more-than-decent start from Birds newcomer Alex Asher, who joined the club in the final week of spring training and allowed just three hits in 6.1 innings of work in his debut. Yes, I know, it was only the offensively-challenged Blue Jays, but not much in Asher’s pedigree pointed to that sort of success on Saturday.

Off to a poor start, could Tyler Wilson be next on the Orioles disabled-list carousel?

It’s unlikely he’ll be the team’s long-term answer as the 5th starter, but Asher could wind up serving the club in the same role as did Vance Worley in 2016. In other words, he might be able to pitch in just about any situation, including spot-starting, long relief and extra innings work. One start does not a season make, though.

Without question, roster juggling has become Dan Duquette’s calling card over the last five years. Some of it might be chicanery – or downright breaking the rules, if you’d prefer to cut to the chase – but Duquette’s ability to find a nagging injury in an Oriole and replace him with someone else of value has, without question, helped Buck Showalter’s team win a lot of games since 2012.

Who can ever forget the famous Ubaldo Jimenez “sprained ankle” a couple of seasons ago when the pitcher stepped in a pothole outside of Camden Yards?

What? You haven’t stepped in a pothole and sprained your ankle before?

So, the Birds have a decision to make with Asher, since the light early-season schedule won’t require them to use a 5th starter again until next Saturday. They can ship him back to Norfolk if they please, but he couldn’t return for that game unless someone goes on the DL in the meantime.

My guess? Asher gets sent down today and sometime next Thursday or Friday, Tyler Wilson –who gave up the game-winning home run yesterday – comes down with a “forearm strain” or something like that. Asher then returns to start at Camden Yards against Boston next Saturday.

Or, perhaps impressed with Asher’s performance on Saturday and wanting him to stick around, maybe Wilson cuts himself on an Easter basket today in Toronto and has to head to the DL.

My guess is most teams fiddle around with their roster the same way the Orioles do, but I don’t follow the other 29 teams enough to focus on how they bend the rules.

However they do it, the Orioles appear to be one of the league’s best at juggling their roster to get the most out of the options at their disposal.

As for Wilson, his start to the 2017 campaign has been less than impressive. Yesterday’s outing in Toronto raised his ERA to an embarrassing 10.13 and his WHIP (1.88) is brutally poor. He was good in the home opener win over Toronto, but his last two outings have been terrible.

Without a plus-fastball, Wilson doesn’t scare anyone, as Kendrys Morales showed yesterday when he belted the first pitch of the 9th inning for the game-winning dinger. He’s crafty at times – “crafty” being code word for “good enough to get people out, but not someone you can count on to do it regularly” – but doesn’t look like he’s the answer for the 5th starter spot.

Enter Edwin Jackson, who was signed to a minor league contract two weeks ago and figures to get the call to Baltimore at some point this season. Had Asher stunk it up on Saturday in Toronto, Jackson perhaps would have received that call later this week. But with Asher looking decent enough to warrant another start, at least, the Birds can take their time with Jackson, who labored through a poor season in Miami and San Diego in 2016 and will be playing for his 12th team in 15 big league campaigns once he tees it up for the Orioles.

I don’t suspect Jackson is the long-term answer, either, by the way.

But that’s how Duquette rolls, and who are we to argue with the way he’s shuffled the roster during his tenure in Baltimore?

He’ll get a few good starts out of Asher, a couple of good starts out of Jackson and by mid-June, he’ll find another diamond-in-the-dumpster and give him a handful of starts before the cycle starts again with Asher and Jackson.

It’s not the most conventional way to do things, and there are obviously bigger, more pressing issues with the team’s starting rotation (Tillman’s return and Jimenez’s hot-and-cold routine), but Duquette has mastered the art of winning games with what can best be called a patchwork pitching staff.

Speaking of putting the pitching staff together with cast-offs, whatever became of the aforementioned Vance Worley? I mean, I know what happened to him. The Orioles didn’t re-sign him, the Nationals did, then they released him in late March and he caught on with the Marlins, signing a minor league contract with Miami in early April.

But why didn’t the Orioles keep him around? He gave up 84 hits in 86 innings last year and pitched to an ERA of 3.53, which isn’t horrible in the American League. Maybe my memory is fuzzy, but I thought Worley was more effective – overall – than Tyler Wilson in 2016 .

Wilson, though, costs the team $545,000 in 2017. Worley made $2.6 million a season ago.

If it was a money issue that kept them from re-signing Worley, shame on the Orioles. There’s no salary cap in baseball. Give the guy his $3 milllion and let’s go win some games.

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squandered chances come back to haunt caps in double ot loss to maple leafs

To be fair, the Washington Capitals could easily be down 2-0 in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As it is, the series is deadlocked at 1-1 after the Caps – right on cue, since it’s April – failed to cash in on a dozen quality chances in two overtime sessions last night and fell to the Maple Leafs, 4-3.

Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen was again stellar in goal for the visitors, while Braden Holtby was sensational for the Caps until he was finally victimized on a slick behind-the-back pass from Brian Boyle and a nice one-time finish from Kasperi Kapanen to end things at 11:53 of the second overtime period.

The tale of the tape last night came in two forms.

Alex Ovechkin had a chance to win last night’s playoff game on an overtime breakaway, but the Caps captain failed to put it away and Washington would go on to lose Game Two, 4-3, in double overtime.

The Maple Leafs outworked, outhustled and “outwanted” the Caps for most of the night, as displayed in their 61-39 edge in the face-off category. The Caps were stressed defensively from the outset, relying on Holtby to rescue them throughout the night, and even when they went ahead 2-1 in the second period, it was evident that Toronto wasn’t going away quietly.

Team speed is a signature element of this Maple Leafs team, and their young legs were churning all night. The Caps had difficulty getting the puck out of their own end thanks in large part to Toronto’s constant pressure, which was one of the reasons why Game One wasn’t settled in regulation play as well.

Washington has the better “team”, as evidenced by their record over the 82 game regular season. But right now, Toronto looks like they want it a little more.

The other issue for the Caps was one they seemingly encounter every spring. Given chance after chance to put the game away, Washington couldn’t do it. Whether it was Andersen sprawling to make a save or a Caps player failing to finish a glorious chance, numerous opportunities went by the wayside in both overtime periods that eventually came back to haunt Barry Trotz’s team.

Alex Ovechkin had a breakaway in the first overtime period after the Caps killed off a silly penalty by Holtby, but Andersen was able to get a leg on it as Ovi was harassed from behind by a Toronto defender.

Evgeny Kuznetsov created a wonderful chance early in the second overtime period but couldn’t put the shot on goal, and minutes later T.J. Oshie was in position to end it but he couldn’t solve Andersen from 20-feet out.

Holtby was equally magnificent throughout overtime until Kapanen tallied his second goal of the game.

Since it’s the playoffs, the Caps losing a critical game at home can’t possibly come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the franchise over the last 15 years.

This, unfortunately, is the way things go for the Capitals. They never do anything easy in the post-season, and while it’s still unlikely that Toronto will go on to win the series, there’s certainly a possibility that extending it to six or seven games will wear down the Caps for a second-round encounter with either Pittsburgh or Columbus.

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orioles-yankees one-day
road trip, anyone?


Anyone want to go to Yankee Stadium on Sunday, June 11 to see the Orioles and Yankees do battle in the Bronx?

Game time is 1:10 pm, which makes for a perfect up-and-back bus trip for the baseball lovers in your family. We'll leave Baltimore at 8:00 am sharp and be at the stadium by 11:45 or so. Assuming the game ends at 4:00 pm, that puts us back in good ol' Bawlmer by 7:30 or 8:00 pm.

I'm working with the Yankees on group tickets, but the one-day trip is likely going to be in the $115 range, which includes your round-trip bus ride, breakfast, drinks on the ride up to New York, lunch when we arrive at the stadium, and a game ticket. I'm trying to finagle some lower-deck seats from the Yankees at a reasonable price. I should know more about that soon.

Looking for a good early Father's Day gift? This is it (Father's Day is the following Sunday)!

If you've never been to Yankee Stadium, we make it easy for you to enjoy a great day of "road baseball", except we do the driving, we supply the tickets, and you'll never go hungry or thirsty when you travel with us.

If you're interested in making the trip to New York with us, send me an e-mail today, please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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O's SCOREBOARD
Tuesday, June 27th
Orioles
3

Blue Jays
1
WP: K. Gausman (4-7)
LP: J. Biagini (2-7)

HR: Tulowitzki (4)

RECORD/PLACE: 38-38, fourth
RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.

breakfast bytes

A.L. East: Yankees give up two runs in bottom of the 9th, lose to White Sox, 4-3.

Red Sox move into first place with 9-2 win over Minnesota; Rays win 4-2 at Pittsburgh.

NBA: Phil Jackson/Knicks to part ways today.

Nationals steal team-record 7 bases off of Arrieta/Montero as Cubs lose in D.C., 6-1.