June 30
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Issue 30
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restricted-flight ball in majors? you're kidding, right?

Earlier this week at Golf.Com, the website for Golf Magazine, Michael Bamberger lost his mind.

I admire Bamberger. He's an oustanding writer and almost without fail puts together some of the most thorough, cogent thoughts on the world of professional golf.

This week, though, he topped his tee ball and made a triple bogey on the first hole.

He was that kind of bad.

This is an idea whose time has...not come.

Bamberger penned a piece on Tuesday in which he suggested that the time has come for the powers-that-be to implement the use of a restricted-flight golf ball in golf's four major championships.

And he was serious.

Bamberger called it "the Major Ball" and suggested it be put into play only at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. He claims that modern equipment has robbed the players of their ability to be challenged on the game's greatest golf courses and that by putting a ball into play that is limited in length, it would take everyone back to the 1960's and 1970's when guys were hitting driver, 5 iron on half the par 4's.

The author suggests a "restricted flight" golf ball would max out at 250 yards and thus make scoring more difficult.

From Bamberger's piece at -- What is threatened by the modern golfer playing modern equipment is the sanctity and the identity of the four men's majors. There's talk of lengthening the iconic 13th hole at Augusta National, so that it continues to be a meaningful risk-reward par-5. The course itself, with all the lengthening and tree-planting over the years, has lost its singular identity, as a sui generis inland links, over the past 30 years. The U.S. Open at Erin Hills, even when the course measured in the vicinity of 7,800 yards, played short. When British Opens are played on parched courses and windless conditions, players club the courses to death with irons off the tee.

If you're interested in Bamberger's entire piece, it's here.

Dustin Johnson bombed his golf ball all over Oakmont Country Club in June of 2016 and shot 6-under par until the USGA slapped a two-shot penalty on him to conclude his event at -4, which was still good enough to win the U.S. Open.

The best player in the world, driving it as well as anyone ever had in a major, and Johnson only managed to shoot 6-under at Oakmont. I didn't see anything about restricted-flight golf balls back then.

Bamberger's piece, obviously, is a knee-jerk reaction to this year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which the players chewed up from the minute the event teed off on Thursday. And I, too, would much prefer to see the U.S. Open played closer to par than at something silly like 16-under par, but I've already chronicled how you get that job done. Narrow the fairways to something more "U.S. Open-like" (25-35 yards) and grow the rough up to three or four inches and you suddenly make it a "real" major championship again.

Here's the deal: It might just be that Erin Hills isn't a great major championship venue from a playing standpoint. It looks fun to play, shows well on television and certainly has the cosmetic appearance of greatness -- but the way the course lays out and the prevailing winds and such might just make it too easy for today's current players.

But taking this year's U.S. Open and the scoring that existed there and somehow twisting that into a need for a restricted-flight golf call at the majors? That might be the worst idea ever.

Scoring at The Masters would be much higher if the folks at Augusta National did one thing and one thing only: grow some rough at the place.

But they've elected not to do that there. I mean, there is a cut of grass that's about one higher than the fairway, but it's so-much NOT rough that the folks at Augusta National call it "the first cut". That said, all they need to do is make that "first cut" about three inches instead of one inch, and BAM!!!!, you'd have a lot more bogeys flying around, if, in fact, that's what you're after.

Bamberger is smart. He knows if he even suggested -- in print or on TV -- that the golf course at Augusta National needs "rough", he stands to lose his access to the tournament every April. Remember, Jack Whittaker lost his credential for calling the gallery "a mob" and Gary McCord was never allowed back in the place after referring to the 17th green as "being treated with bikini wax".

If Bamberger wrote, "The course at Augusta is great, but it's not tough enough for the players anymore. They really need to grown some rough there," he might be watching the annual event at home every April.

But this idea that "equipment has ruined the game" is silly. Beyond silly, actually.

What's ruined the game -- if you're one of those folks who thinks minus-16 at the U.S. Open qualifies as "ruining the game" -- is the coddling of today's professional players at the major championships. If they even think for a minute there's a hint of "unfair" or "super hard" associated with the tournament, they take to the media to complain about it. It's comical to hear them complain about the fast greens or high rough.

They weren't "ruined" at Merion back in 2013 when Justin Rose won the U.S. Open at one OVER par. That's right, just five U.S. Opens ago, +1 for four days won the tournament.

Heck, last week at The Travelers outside of Hartford, 12-under par won on a 6,800 yard golf course. Erin Hills was 7,800 yards and 16-under par was the winning score.

If the golf course is tough, the yardage doesn't necessarily matter. You can't have 350 yard holes anymore, I think we all know that. But you also don't need a bunch of 510 yard par 4's, either.

One of our frequent commenters, Herman, brought this subject up earlier in the week and I pledged to write about it at some point over the next few days. Today's that day.

He (and he's far from the only one who thinks this way) contends that the improved nature of golf equipment and the ball has led to this "issue" in the game of golf, similar to what Bamberger contends with his theory of a "Major Ball" for the four major championships.

I don't see it that way.

I'll be the first to contend that equipment and the golf ball are both much improved over the last, say, 25 years. There's no arguing that. The refinement of the golf shaft is probably the single biggest thing that has helped the club side of things. And the ball today goes straighter and a bit longer in 2017 than it did in 1997.

But there's another reason why golfers (professional and amateur) are playing better today than ever before and it's not about the equipment. It's about -- instruction.

For those really wanting to improve, the benefits of a higher quality level of instruction and teaching would do much more for them than handing them a $500 driver with a shaft upgrade.

You can hand a 12-handicap a sleeve of Titleist Pro V1's and his or her score is NOT changing. But if you give them a 2-hour lesson and five days to work on things, they stand to improve almost overnight.

The same goes for the professionals. The best teachers in the world know SO MUCH MORE about the golf swing today than they knew, say 30 years ago, and the players are able to see it all on video and in high-definition in such a way that they, too, are learning more about the golf swing and what their body needs to do to propel the ball 300 yards or, conversely, hit a shot from 50 yards that stops on a dime.

I'd like to think I've improved over the last ten years, but my equipment has stayed relatively the same, save for a change in the type of golf ball I use (from Titleist to Bridgestone). What has changed for me, though, is my knowledge of the golf swing and what my body needs to do to make the right swing every time.

I've spent more time learning about the golf swing and using the launch monitor to figure out what I'm doing right (and wrong) and less time just smashing balls on the practice range. I've practiced putting LESS and practiced hitting 125 yard shots MORE. I'm better now (I think) not because of equipment, but because of learning.

True, none of us are using persimmon clubs anymore, and there's no telling what we'd shoot if we did, but those days are over. The issue at hand is whether or not equipment has "made everyone better" and I can assure you there are plenty of 15-handicaps at my club who would rightfully contend that it HAS NOT made them better.

What makes everyone better is simple: instruction.

And that's what has made the PGA Tour player better, if that's even happening. My guess is the data would show that scores today are only slightly better than they were in, say 2000. It's not like guys were shooting 8-under to win every week back in 2000 and now they're shooting 15-under. That simply hasn't happened.

What has made professional players "that much better" over the last two decades is, in my opinion, improved instruction and knowledge of the golf swing. And that's not something you can stop or should stop, for that matter.

If you're a 20-handicap who wants to improve, you're not going to do it by buying better EQUIPMENT. You're going to do it by creating a better GOLF SWING.

The same goes if you're on the Web.Com Tour and you're trying to break through to the big stage, the PGA Tour. The equipment you have is the same equipment everyone else has -- what you need is a smidgen more quality in your golf swing, your short game and your putting.

I'm surprised Michael Bamberger doesn't realize that. He's around the world of professional golf much more than I am. He knows, for sure, the players are in better shape, eat better, and have far better instruction at their disposal than ever before.

Now, if his contention is that he knows all of that but simply wants to see the scores stop soaring to 14, 15 and 16-under par in major championships, all he has to do is campaign for the U.S. Open to be held every year at Merion or Oakmont. That seems to always do the trick.

But the "Major Ball"? Just a horrible, horrible idea.

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even buck was surprised at ubaldo's start on thursday night

You gotta love Buck Showalter's honesty.

In his brief two-minute interview with Gary Thorne after last night's 2-0 win at Toronto in which Ubaldo Jimenez allowed just two hits in eight innings of work, Showalter almost giggled when he said, "We didn't see that one coming, did we?"

No, skipper, we didn't.

Less than a week after allowing nine runs to Tampa Bay, Ubaldo Jimenez stymied the Blue Jays on two hits last night.

If only Jimenez would have been that good last October in the 12th inning of that wild card game, huh?

There's a saying in golf that comes out when someone hits a 75-yard snap hook into the woods, then pulls amother ball out of his/her pocket and smashes it 250 yards right down the fairway.

"Same guy". Or "same girl".

In other words, the same person who just rope hooked one into the trees immediately hits another one right down the middle, ten seconds later.

Last Friday in Tampa Bay, Jimenez gave up nine runs in two innings of work. Nine runs.

Last night in Toronto, he gave up two hits and no runs in eight innings of work.

Same guy.

As he's one of the game's all-time nice guys, it's always a pleasure to see Jimenez pitch well. The pain on his face last Friday as he trudged off the mound was almost too much to watch, honestly. You can tell he so desperately wants to over-perform for Showalter and the team and it's painful to see him get blasted like he did in St. Petersburg last week.

Conversely, your heart swells for him when he's mowing people down like he did last night in Toronto. Yes, I'm aware the Blue Jays are one of the worst hitting teams in the A.L. I get it. But you still have to get those guys out. A handful of them are actually capable major league performers.

Jimenez was beyond terrific last night. He was on point from the first pitch and threw the ball as well as anyone on the Orioles has in a single start this season.

Unfortunately, I think we all know last night's performance was probably the outlier of the group for Jimenez. His next two starts will be bad, one after that will be OK, and then sometime in late July he'll author another gem like the one he gave us on Thursday evening in Toronto.

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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.

It took approximately 10 seconds for the news about Zachary Orr to go from feel-good story to potential tragedy.

When the news first broke that the former Ravens' linebacker was pursuing a football career again, after announcing that a neck injury was forcing him to retire months ago, it seemed like a positive development in his story. Scratching just an inch below the surface, however, revealed the entire thing to be one big mess.

For starters, it didn't take long for the contract ramifications to become clear...and for Ravens' fans to get angry.

You see, when Orr announced his intention to retire, the Ravens declined to tender an offer to the restricted free agent. Because of that, and because Orr never actually singed retirement papers, he's now an unrestricted free agent free to sign with anyone in the league, and potentially make a lot more money in 2017 as a result.

Social media quickly filled up with angry Ravens fans Wednesday morning, many of whom are calling the situation a "loophole" in the RFA rules, and even addressed the possibility of other RFAs potentially faking a retirement to hit the open market.

Fortunately, this aspect of the fiasco seems to be entirely overblown. The Ravens' team doctors examined Orr previously, of course, so the team is more than aware of the extent and significance of Orr's spinal condition. In other words, no one is claiming that Orr faked or lied about his medical status, or that the team didn't have enough information to make their own determination. What's more Orr, repeatedly reached out to the Ravens before announcing his desire to come back, at least strongly implying that his preference was to remain in Baltimore.

Finally, as PFT noted, if anyone were to try to treat this as a "loophole" in the RFA rules, blocking it would be as simple as offering the RFA a low tender, securing their rights in the event they decide to change their mind. This might be an oversight on Ozzie's part, but it certainly seems like the Ravens don't want to keep Orr around anyway at this point.

But some other team might decide they're willing to gamble on his health...and that puts the league in a really difficult situation.

Based on second hand summations of Orr's problem, the major issue is a congenital disk problem that presents a significant risk of paralysis or death if Orr is hit "the wrong way." In an age where the NFL is hyper focused on player safety or, more accurately, the perception that they take player safety seriously having a player suffer that kind of traumatic injury on the field when everyone knew it was such a risk beforehand would be an absolute worst case scenario for the league.

But, on paper, there's not really anything that the league office can do for it. If Orr has medical clearance, he can look for an employer. And if one of the teams decides that they're fine taking that kind of risk on a talented young player willing to put his life at risk to play, in theory there's nothing that Roger Goodell can do about it. For the commissioner to direct all 32 teams to stay clear of Orr would be outright collusion.

But who knows, maybe Goodell can strongly imply that he'd be very upset if any team's doctors were to pass Orr in a pre-signing physical or something.

But the person put in the worst situation here is Orr himself. It's difficult to imagine the emotional roller coaster he must have gone through over the last six months. In January, he was a 24 year old coming off of a breakout season where he looked like a stud of a middle linebacker and was nearly set to cash in with a new contract.

Instead, he found out about this congenital spinal issue and was told that his dream of playing professional football was over, whether he liked it or not. It's easy to empathize with the desire to get a second opinion, but it sure sounds like Orr got a bunch of second opinions until he finally found a doctor who told him what he wanted to hear.

And once he found one doctor who said it was fine, he jumped at the chance to get back on the field. I can't tell Orr or anyone else how to live their life, but the red flag here is both massive and obvious. From where I sit, I see a young guy denied his dream, who is just looking for anyone to tell him that everything is find, and allow him to indulge in some wishful thinking while putting himself at significant risk.

Who knows, maybe the Ravens' doctors were wrong. They didn't exactly have any reason to be overly cautious with their team's young star, but maybe they were. I just hope that there isn't another team out there that's willing to turn a blind eye to a situation because they think Orr will help them win a few more football games. And I really hope there's someone around Orr making sure that he understands the gravity of what he's doing, and prevent him from potentially killing himself just to play in the NFL.

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June 29
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Issue 29
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birds back below .500 with quiet loss in toronto

I saw in yesterday's comments (below) that someone wanted me to give my opinion on the Orioles 3-game win streak.

The 162-game season makes it difficult to offer insight and analysis on every single game, but had I taken a minute to offer an opinion on the Birds stringing together three straight wins, I would have said this: "It won't last very long."

Alas, I would have been correct. The O's were shut down by Marcus Stroman last night in Toronto, losing 4-0 to the Blue Jays and falling back below .500 (38-39) in the process.

So much for the 3-game win streak.

On a night when the O's needed Wade Miley to outduel Marcus Stroman, he wasn't able to do it, as the southpaw allowed three earned runs in five innings of work on Wednesday in the O's 4-0 loss at Toronto.

Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the first with an excuse-me home run to right field and Justin Smoak hit his 21st round-tripper of the season in the 4th inning, but it was a Paul Janish faux pas that put the game out of reach later that inning.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Bautista hit a sharp grounder to short that Janish expertly knocked down and collected in time to make a play. Rather than throw to first to get Bautista, who runs down the line on infield grounders about as quickly as Manny Machado, Janish instead tried to get the runner at 2nd. When he was safe, Jonathan Schoop then had enough time to fire the ball to first to nearly get Bautista, but his throw was low and Trey Mancini couldn't come up with it.

Instead of the score staying at 2-0, it quickly became 4-0 when two runners scored. Game, set, match.

TV broadcasters Gary Thorne and Mike Bordick fawned over Janish and Schoop "making a great play" for about eight minutes -- well into the O's at-bat in the 5th inning -- but the reality was neither of them made anything close to a great play.

Janish made a fairly typical "major league play" in getting to Bautista's grounder. Had he simply gone to first base with his throw, the inning would have been over, as the lollygagging Bautista would have been out by three steps.

And had Schoop held on to the ball after the play at second base, the score would have remained 3-0.

Ultimately, that play and those two runs ended up on Janish's scorecard. They charged Schoop with an error because of his errant throw to first, but the real faux pas on the play belonged to Janish. JJ Hardy, he isn't.

Marcus Stroman again baffled the Birds, who always seem to get him on his best night for whatever reason. Seth Smith and Trey Mancini collected two hits each for the O's and Caleb Joseph had the other one. Five hits -- that's all the O's managed on Wednesday night.

Stroman improved to 8-4 on the year and lowered his ERA to 3.41 in the process. If only the Orioles had a starter of his acumen. Or two. Or three.

Wade Miley wasn't very good, but it's hard to win when your team scores zero runs. Miley struck out five but walked four, giving up three earned runs to fall to 3-6 on the year.

Alec Asher worked the final three innings for the O's. Neither team really broke a sweat in the final three at-bats, frankly, but Asher was decent enough. He allowed just one hit and struck out three.

The series concludes tonight with Ubaldo Jimenez facing J.A. Happ.

Maybe this trick up Buck's sleeve will wind up fooling everyone in the audience, but I think we all know what to expect tonight when Jimenez returns to the scene of one of the worst losses in Orioles history.

It was in Toronto last October when Jimenez served up the season-ending gopher ball to then-Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion in the 5-2 wild card loss.

What would make Showalter think sending Jimenez out there tonight is smart?

That would be like sending Lincoln back to Ford's Theater to watch another play -- had he survived, of course.

I get it. The Orioles don't have a quality fifth starter and Jimenez is "that guy" for now. But tonight? In Toronto? Really? Jimenez gets the call? I don't get it.

My opinion on the Orioles? You wanted it. Here it is.

They're a .500 best.

In fact, over the last "season", that's exactly what they've been.

In their last 162 games, the Orioles are 80-82 (dating back to last season) and their run differential is minus 85.

Yes, that's true. Since the 2016 campaign, the O's are 80-82 over their last 162 games and they've been outscored in those games by a whopping 85 runs.

By the way, just hovering around .500 might be good enough to keep the Birds in the A.L. East race for a while longer, as no one else in the division seems good enough to pull away, but the Orioles aren't going anywhere of note with their current pitching staff.

They're a .500 team, basically.

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curry well within his rights to accept invite to play in pro golf event

Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is apparently an outstanding golfer. He carries a 2 handicap which, if legit, means he's an excellent player.

Yesterday, Curry accepted a sponsor's invitation to play in the Ellie Mae Classic, which is an event on the Web.Com Tour, the highest level of professional golf played in the U.S. other than the PGA Tour.

In other words, it's the Triple-A of the pro golf world. There's the PGA Tour, where the big boys tee it up for a first place check of a million bucks a week, and the Web.Com Tour, where first place routinely pays roughly $100,000.

It's GREAT golf, though, don't get me wrong. Virtually anyone who has their Web.Com card is good enough to play and compete in a PGA Tour event. It's truly the "feeder system" for the PGA Tour.

Curry's handicap and his status as one of the Bay Area's most popular athletes makes him a smart choice for that coveted sponsor's invite.

The Golden State Warriors star is likely not going to be good enough to make the cut in the Ellie Mae event (August 3-6). That would be a reasonable goal for him to set for himself, albeit a lofty one, in my opinion. He'll likely have to shoot somewhere around even par to make the 36-hole cut.

Curry's invite (and his acceptance of it) into the event generated lots of criticism on Wednesday once professional golfers found out the tournament sponsor was giving one of their "exemptions" to Curry. That's part of the trade off every golf tournament's title sponsor receives. They get to arbitrarily award two "free" spots to anyone they like. It's accepted by everyone involved that the exemptions have to be given out to people who can actually play and compete, but there's nothing in writing that says the exemptions have to go to professional golfers.

Since the tournament is held in the San Francisco area, it makes great sense for Curry to receive an invitation. He's a 2 handicap, after all, and should be able to compete at some level.

It's one thing if it's a PGA Tour event rather than a Web.Com event. The need for additional media coverage and ticket buyers isn't the same between the two tournaments. But a Web.Com event needs all the "push" it can get and Curry will give that tournament a robust sense of importance.

Professional golfers weren't happy with Curry's exemption into the tournament, several noting that "he's taking a spot from someone else who is more deserving".

It has nothing at all to do with "deserving".

The tournament sponsor has two exemptions. They're free to give those out as they please. That they're giving one to Steph Curry is their complete and total right. Without the title sponsor, the tournament wouldn't be played that week in the San Francisco area.

And Curry is well within his rights to accept the invitation and play. He loves golf, loves to compete and is probably genuinely excited to see how his game shapes up against the big boys. He might get his feelings hurt a little bit, but he'll find that out for himself.

Oh, and the tournament will likely draw national coverage now. My guess is Curry's full round will be shown on The Golf Channel and there will be lots of credentialed media on hand to see how the NBA champion fares.

Professional golfers -- particularly those on the "minor" circuits -- are a tough bunch. They travel a lot, walk 10 miles a day playing golf, hit golf balls from sun-up to sun-down (it's harder than you think, trust me) and are far, far more active than given credit for, that's for sure.

But those guys whining about Curry are off base. They'd be well served to remember the golden rule about sports marketing: The title sponsor always gets what they want.

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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.

The golf coach at Loyola College, a gentleman by the name of Tom Beidleman, approached me on a drizzly Friday evening in early June 2005. We were at Caves Valley, somewhere near the clubhouse, and I was tired, hungry and soaked.

Several years later, Loyola let Beidleman go. A few years after that, he pulled a George O’Leary, getting the job as the first women’s golf coach at Central Michigan University only to lose it after he lied about having a college degree, among other deceptions.

But on this day, he was in charge. Specifically, he was running the 2005 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, which had been handed to Loyola and Caves Valley several years before. And he had some good news for me.

“You’ve done a lot this week,” he said. “I’m giving you a plum assignment tomorrow. You can be a standard bearer for one of the final groups. Have fun.”

The iPhone wasn’t introduced until 2007, so I couldn’t shake my head in agreement and research what that meant. I had to be old fashioned and, you know, ask him. He started explaining and then I realized what he was saying.

“Oh, you mean I get to be the sign guy!”

It turns out being a sign guy is harder than it looks. The sign is actually heavy. You must wear an apron with pockets, which hold the numbers and letters with which you update the scores on the sign. At the age of 32, this was the first real golf tournament I’d ever attended, and I had no idea of the correct etiquette as to where I should stand or walk. Was I supposed to say “nice shot?”

In some ways, it was almost like being a caddie, walking all 18 holes carrying something heavy. The players in the NCAA championship don’t have caddies, by the way. They carry their own bags, for 72 holes over four days. It’s nice to be young.

Beidleman was right, though. It was a good assignment compared to the first three days of the tournament.

During the first round, I spent the entire day behind the par-3 12th green, relaying scores by walkie-talkie to a fellow from a company called GolfStat, which then and now provides live scoring services at golf events. There were three players in every group, and when they finished putting out and walked toward the 13th tee, each was to tell me his score on the hole.

This was incredibly boring. It was also annoying, since my walkie wasn’t getting good reception. Each time I’d call in, I’d have to walk up the large hill behind the green where I’d somehow found a sweet spot for coverage.

The following two days I was in charge of updating scoreboards at several holes, this time for the teams as a whole rather than for individuals. As the great Jon Miller would say, this was Wrigley Field/Fenway Park style scoreboard work, about as manual as possible. I don’t know if the NCAA championship now has electronic scoreboards like they do at PGA Tour events, but we sure didn’t have them then.

Walking all 18 holes would be fun. I realized that I hadn’t really seen much of the course even though I’d been there for three days. I’d been at the 12th green and seen the tee shots on 13. I’d been stationed between the 3rd green and the 4th tee and near the 6th green at scoreboards.

The top 3 teams heading into the final day were Georgia, Georgia Tech and Southern Cal. My threesome had a player from each team. I still remember their games, even though I had to look up their names.

The Georgia player was a guy named David Denham, a senior. I could have watched him play golf for a week, let alone for 18 holes. He was long, lanky and loose; his swing was effortless, and he put on a clinic. With his team in the lead, he took almost no chances. He shot even-par 70 with two birdies, 15 pars and one double bogey, when he three-putted from 15 feet after an errant tee shot. Even then, he showed absolutely no emotion.

Kevin Larsen was the Georgia Tech player; he was a freshman, and he played like it, shooting 77. He was nervous and fidgety. After finishing the 13th hole, he teed off on 14 before his two playing partners had even walked off the 13th green, much to their (and my) amazement. The rough was high and wet that week, and he was in it a lot.

The final member of the group was Tyler Ley, from USC. He shot 70 like Denham, but in a completely different way. He made 6 birdies, 6 pars and 6 bogeys. He was absolutely spectacular, bombing drives way beyond his two partners and shooting at the pin on every approach. Looking back at the scores, I realize why. The previous day, after two decent rounds, he had shot an 82 in the rain. He didn’t care anymore.

I enjoyed the conversations I had with them. Without caddies, and with their coaches moving around from group to group, I was often the only person walking with them inside the ropes. Ley grew up in Southern California and told me that he absolutely loved playing in the rain the day before, despite his score. He was surprised to learn that a rainy day with temperatures in the 50s was exactly the kind of day on which I wouldn’t want to play!

Mostly, I got the sense that they were tired after four days of playing a difficult, long and wet golf course.

Some of them do that every week now. In fact, there are plenty of guys from the 2005 tournament who have gone on to win on the PGA Tour. Ryan Moore (UNLV) and J.B. Holmes (Kentucky) both finished in the Top 10 that weekend. Georgia, the champion, was particularly stacked that year, with Brendon Todd, Chris Kirk and Kevin Kisner. The best player of all of them, Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina), was eliminated after 54 holes, as was another U.S. Open winner, Webb Simpson (Wake Forest).

Moral of the story? If you can, you should take advantage of Drew’s offer to carry a bag in the pro-am at Caves Valley in a couple weeks. Besides playing, it’s the best way to see the whole course. For those who play golf, there’s nothing better than watching accomplished players show off their skills. And some other guy will be holding the sign…

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June 28
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Issue 28
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lavar ball is the absolute worst kind of sports father

An NBA "nut", I'm not.

I watch the Wizards on occasion and probably caught a half dozen playoff games on TV this spring/summer. I will confess to watching all five games of the Finals earlier this month.

I'm not a fair-weather basketball fan, rather I'm a "I'm only interested when the games really matter" fan.

But I'm now officially rooting against the Los Angeles Lakers in a big way.

I don't know Lonzo Ball at all. I know the kid went to UCLA, had some highlight-reel moments, and was picked by the Lakers last Thursday night in the draft. It appears as if he has the tools to be a decent NBA player and playing for the Lakers can't hurt him since they're in desperate need of talent there.

What can hurt him, though, is his Dad.

LaVar Ball might be the worst sports father of this century. That's a mean spirited thing to say, I suppose, but in the spirit of Charley Eckman, I'm gonna call 'em like I see 'em on this subject.

And the NBA has not only inherited this goof, they're seeing first-hand what kind of menace he might be now that one of his boys has made the big time.

Earlier this week, LaVar Ball was a participant in the WWE event in Los Angeles.

I didn't say "spectator". I said "participant".

He was somehow involved in a spat with someone or something call "The Miz", got in the ring, took off his shirt, and the two stared and snorted at one another for a few minutes before calmer heads prevailed.

I assume the only reason this skit between the two was even remotely effective was because it took place in Los Angeles. I can't imagine LaVar Ball drawing any "heat" if he would have been in, say, Kansas City or Dallas.

But what's it say about Ball that he's willing to climb into the ring, take off his shirt, and act like a clown in the very city where at least one of his sons is going to set up shop?

It says he's a showboat. It's no longer about his son. It's about him.

As you'll see, he even brought his two sons along and they participated in the stupidity as well. But they're kids...this is right up their alley. And, when you see the video, it almost looks like they're embarrassed to be part of it all.

The dad is lapping it all up though. It's laughably silly, but seriously troublesome at the same time.

You can see it all for yourself below. It's comical, stupid and outrageously inconsiderate of his sons.


Most dads live vicariously through their children, particularly in their athletic efforts. While I don't think Ball has conducted himself very well over the last six months, he's been successful at doing one thing. He took his son's prowess as a college basketball player and turned it into his own personal platform to make sure we all knew HIS name.

I didn't say I liked that about the elder Ball. I merely said he's been successful at doing it.

The NBA would be wise to nip this clown-shoes-meglomaniac in the bud -- effective immediately. I doubt they can mandate that Ball not appear on professional wrestling TV shows, but it would be in their best interest to try and calm this idiot before he does something that really embarrasses the league.

They're in for a fight, though, if they try and reign this fool in, that's for sure. You can just tell he's one of those march-to-his-own-beat types who relishes the spotlight and wants it all to be about him, even though he's not the one actually on the big stage.

The folks at WWE have no conscience, obviously. When they see the potential for a beef of some kind involving a prominent figure, they go in with both barrels. Heck, our current President once made a complete horse's ass out of himself by jumping into the wrestling ring and getting knocked around like The Brooklyn Brawler or some other jobber.

If you expect the WWE to not seize this opportunity to showcase LaVar Ball, you haven't been paying attention to Vince McMahon for the last 40 years or more. Ball is a hot commodity in L.A. because of his bloviating and self-promoting ways and the wrestling business can always use a new angle.

But none of that makes it right.

It merely makes Ball the father who wants the spotlight, which rightfully belongs to his son, Lonzo. It makes Ball a bad guy, if you ask me.

There's probably nothing the NBA can do about it and there have certainly been other "bad fathers" in their league, but this guy is all-world-bad. LaVar Ball is an embarrassment to everyone associated with him.

And none of those around him deserve it, from the NBA, to the Lakers, to his two sons, both of whom are trying to just make their own path in professional basketball.

Unfortunately, LaVar Ball cares more about promoting himself than he does helping his son get his NBA career off to a good start.

Wait and see -- this dude is going to be a first ballot inductee in the Sports-Jerk-Hall-of-Fame. There's no denying it. We're in for one helluva show.

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birds back to .500 with 3-1 win at toronto

Hey, when you were once 22-10 and threw up all over yourself for a month to fall all the way down to 35-38, a three-game winning streak is something to crow about.

A big first-inning double by Mark Trumbo was all the Orioles needed last night in Toronto.

Don't look now, but the Birds are back to .500 at 38-38 after last night's 3-1 win over a listless Blue Jays team that looks like they've just about packed it in for the season.

Kevin Gausman went 5.1 innings and allowed just four hits, striking out four along the way. It was one of the rare times recently that Gausman was handed an early lead and managed to hold on to it.

Mark Trumbo's 2-run double in the first inning was all the Orioles needed, as the Birds won for the third straight game and stayed within 4.5 games of first place Boston. The Orioles also moved two full games ahead of last place Toronto in the process.

The O's only managed seven hits on the night (Trumbo and Schoop with two each) but Toronto didn't score until they were down to their final out in the 9th inning and Troy Tulowitzki homered off of closer Brad Brach to finalize the scoring at 3-1.

Interestingly, the Birds produced a pair of two-out rallies in last night's win, something they've become very good at doing in 2017. With two outs and no one on in the first, the O's produced a pair of base runners and Trumbo promptly knocked them in with his shot to the left field wall. The same thing happened in the third inning when Adam Jones knocked in a two-out run after the Birds' first two hitters went back to the dugout to start the inning.

Gausman worked effortlessly throughout the first five innings, then got into a jam in the sixth and couldn't finish it off.

Mychal Givens came on for Gausman and picked up a huge strikeout in the bottom of the inning when the Blue Jays loaded the bases with the score 3-0. He got Kendrys Morales to swing at a head-high pitch ten inches off the plate and Toronto's best chance to score passed without any change to the scoreboard. Givens also worked the 7th inning before turning things over to Darren O'Day (8th) and Brach, who picked up his 14th save.

Wade Miley gets the start tonight for the Birds while Marcus Stroman goes for Toronto.

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wanna caddie with a big name pro golfer? you can!

If you're fit enough to carry someone's golf bag around Caves Valley for 18 holes, there's an opportunity waiting for you on July 12.

Now, granted, you have to love golf to accept this job, but a one-day caddying opportunity is available for the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley. You'd be caddying for one of the amateurs in the pro-am event, but in your group would be one of the professional players who is competing in the actual event later in the week.

You might get to rub shoulders with Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, etc.

I'm in, and so are several of my Calvert Hall golfers. We won't know who we're caddying for until closer to tournament time, but we'll be toting the bag of an amateur in the field and watching some great golf up close and personal as one of the Champions Tour players tees it up on our foursome.

Not only do you get to watch great golf, you get paid for it, too! Plus, you'll receive a complimentary grounds pass to attend the entire event free of charge.

If you're interested in signing up to caddie on July 12 in the pro-am, just reach out to Caves Valley caddie master Brian Huebeck ( and he'll get you all set up.

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June 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 27
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exploring the serena vs. mcenroe debate

There aren't often man-versus-woman topics in the world of professional sports that spark any kind of meaningful debate because the two don't compete against one another.

This week, though, tennis great John McEnroe sent us all to the water cooler with an opinion -- if you're inclined to take the bait, that is -- on whether or not Serena Williams is good enough to be situated somewhere in the upper echelon of men's tennis (say, #300 in the world or better). McEnroe said recently the 23-time singles champion would be "ranked 700th on the men's circuit".

Johnny Mac's comments fueled the Monday fire here at #DMD as several people opined on what they thought Serena's ranking might be...and by a quick glance through the coments, it appears most people believe Williams would indeed be the 700th ranked men's player. In other words, the lot here at #DMD agrees -- in principle -- with McEnroe.

A quick side note to this story: Serena fired back at McEnroe via Twitter yesterday and admonished him for bringing up the topic and putting her in the middle of it. I'm not sure why she did that. She's completely fair game to be judged and discussed by anyone. If you're willing to pose naked for ESPN the Magazine's Body Issue (which she did...not naked, but 98% naked), then most certainly the rest of the world is free to discuss your tennis game on any terms, right?

Back in 2003, Annika Sorenstam beat 11 PGA Tour players over two days in Fort Worth, Texas. Did that make her a better golfer than those 11 men she defeated?

Anyway, this discussion about how competitive a female would be in league or division of men playing the same sport is interesting. It probably wouldn't be as captivating to us right now in Baltimore if the Orioles weren't in fourth place, but with our baseball team failing and floundering, it's more topical, I assume.

I'm not a tennis player. I was, three decades ago, but golf is my sport now. But I've always liked tennis, follow the grand slam events, and even use a lot of tennis techniques when I teach junior golf. Tennis and golf are a lot alike.

I see where folks are quick to point out a one-off situation where a male tennis player played against Serena or Bobby Riggs played Billie Jean King in an "exhibition" -- and those results and performances are then used to judge how competitive the girls would be against the boys.

That's not really how it works.

As the great Bobby Jones once said, "There's golf and there's tournament golf -- and in no way are the two at all similar."

So, for starters, any "exhibition" between two athletes is never to be taken seriously, no matter who wins. When Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs, people quickly came up with logical reasons why it happened that way. "Riggs threw the match", "Riggs was in with the bookies and made a bunch of money", "King tried, Riggs didn't".

All three of those things might have been true back in 1973 when they met in Houston. Riggs seemed like a nefarious sort of character. Why try hard to beat a woman and potentially lose when you can just go in the tank from the start, lose intentionally, collect a bunch of money, and then let the underground tennis world know the "real truth"?

Or perhaps Billie Jean King really did beat Bobby Riggs that night. Fair and square. It sure looked legit.

But either way, that encounter between the two proved NOTHING. Zero. Nada. On one night, or in one match, anything can happen.

Circa 2000 or so, with my buddy George McDowell on the bag and the two of us laughing it up the whole way around, I played in a Senior Tour pro-am at Hayfields and the professional in my group was David Eger, a very accomplished amateur who turned professional late in life and was making a nice living teeing it up with the old guys.

We got to the 18th tee with Eger ahead by a shot (it wasn't a competition between us, it's worth noting...we were actually a team). I was five under standing on the last tee box and he was six under.

On the 18th green, I rolled in about a 20 foot birdie putt to shoot 66 and momentarily tie him at six under. Eger had 10-feet for a closing birdie of his own. He made it to finish with 65.

After the handshakes, George said to me, "There was no way he was missing that putt and tying a hack amateur from Baltimore."

Moral of the story? If we played 10 times, Eger would have likely defeated me 10 times. But the first time we played together, there was a moment -- for one minute or so -- where he needed to make a 10-foot putt to beat me. If he missed it, we tied. If he three putted, I won.

Once...just once...I was right there with him.

But I wasn't nearly as good as David Eger, no matter what that one Monday in mid-July might have otherwise suggested.

Back in the old days when the local U.S. Open qualifier was held at Eagle's Nest, I would routinely post a better score than a bunch of professionals and a few guys, even, who played on the PGA Tour or one of the minor circuits. By beating them once over 18 holes, was I then proving I was "better" than them? Not a chance.

A one-off setting -- exhibition or "real game" -- just isn't the way you determine who is better.

So any discussion about a male playing a female "just once" also gets thrown out the window. It's not the way you judge the two of them in a competitive setting.

For the Williams-McEnroe debate to be settled, Serena would have to play the men's circuit for, say, one year. That would give her ample opportunity to play in a setting with which she is familiar...the grind of a season filled with tournaments, matches, injuries, travel, fatigue, media coverage, etc.

If Serena played the #600 player in the world tomorrow and beat him, do you really think that makes her the 600th best player in the world? Hardly.

Back in 2003, Annika Sorenstam played in a PGA Tour event in Fort Worth, Texas. The national media attention was over-the-top, as Sorenstam, then the best women's player in the world, wanted to see how her game "traveled" to the men's tour.

She and her handlers were smart. Knowing that length-off-the-tee would be Annika's biggest challenge, they had her play at Colonia Country Club, which then -- and now, still -- was one of the shortest courses to regularly host a PGA Tour event.

Sorenstam shot 71-74 and missed the cut by four shots. She did beat 11 men along the way, though. Using that "one off" theory, then, would it be safe to assume that since Sorenstam beat those 11 guys over a two-day period that she was a better player than all of them? Of course not.

If Annika played at Muirfield Village, home of The Memorial, she would have finished dead last in the field, without question. Her length off the tee would have simply been her death knell. Back then, guys were hitting it 280-290 off the tee. Sorenstam was a moderately-long hitter on the LPGA Tour, in the 230-240 yard range.

If you put Sorenstam at Mount Pleasant (hate to bring that place up again...) circa 2003 there wouldn't have been one green she couldn't have hit in regulation, although #9 and #14 might require her to hit a fairway wood or hybrid to get there depending on the daily conditions.

Even today, the best female golfer in the world (and I don't know who that is, sorry) could compete against the men on a 6,000 yard course. I don't think by any means she'd win, but the distance of the course would keep her "in the game". If you put the best female in the world at Erin Hills two weeks ago for the U.S. Open, I don't see any way she breaks 80.

But to judge whether or not Sorenstam was "better than some men on TOUR", she'd have to play a season of men's golf on the PGA Tour.

Then, and only then, could you safely judge her abilities.

Just because she beat 11 guys in 2003 over two days, please don't get swayed into thinking she was better than them.

Likewise, just because some stumbling, bumbling tennis pro with his shirt untucked beat Serena Williams in a beer-league "exhibition" a while back, that doesn't necessarily mean any stumbling pro with a hangover would do the same thing to her every time.

I've often said this about professional soccer in our country. The best American player I've ever seen in my life? Mia Hamm. I've always thought, technically, that Hamm was the most skilled American soccer player of this generation. Does that mean she could play on the men's team? No way. She simply wouldn't be quality-enough to play on the U.S. National team.

But talent and technique wise, Hamm was better than any male. That might change now with Christian Pulisic coming on the scene, but Hamm was as good or better at soccer than any male that I just happened that she was competing against women instead of men.

It's rare that women are fully capable of going toe-to-toe with men in sports for one basic reason. I'll sum it up with this word: Strength.

That's the separating factor in golf, for sure, and likely the separating factor in tennis, as well. It also comes into play in soccer.

"Power" plays a huge role in golf and tennis. I've already outlined how a great female golfer would be able to compete against great male players if the golf course was 6,000 yards in length. But if you made her play a 7,200 yard course, she'd get left behind. Unless, of course, she was playing against other females on a course of that length. But that's not what we're talking about here.

Personally, I think Serena Williams is better than the 700th ranked male tennis player. That's just my opinion. And no rinky-dink exhibition where some no-name beat her is enough evidence to change my tune on that one.

It's an interesting, healthy debate, but one thing I think we'd all agree on is this: The best female athletes in the world have a lot more quality than we realize. Or maybe we do realize it, but we just don't want to admit it.

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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 Colin Kaepernick free agency saga continues apace these days, but it sure feels like the conclusion is inevitable.

We're even reaching the point where the Facebook fake news industry is making up quotes from the San Francisco quarterback announcing his retirement from the league and people are falling for them without batting an eye. At this point it's almost a foregone conclusion that the former Super Bowl starter's career NFL career is over.

What is unusual though is the passive aggressive campaign that the league, the media, have fans have waged against him in order to dance around the blatant fact that he's being run out of the league for his social activism.

The most common form of this argument has been to insist that, actually, Kaepernick just isn't good enough to have a job as an NFL quarterback.

To call this laughable would be to give it too much credit by an order of magnitude.

Is this why Colin Kaepernick isn't playing NFL football in 2017?

Per Football Outsiders, Kaepernick is the 144th NFL quarterback to attempt at least 300 passes in an NFL season as a 29 year old, and every single one of the previous 143 have been on an NFL roster as a 30 year old. No caveats about performance metrics, quarterback ratings, interceptions, etc. Every single 29 year old who was good enough to get playing time has stayed in the league the next season until now.

But let's not mince words here: Kaepernick was decidedly not awful in 2016, despite playing on what would be considered a historically bad team if not for the existence of the Browns. His quarterback rating was 17th in the league among those with at least as many passing attempts.

In touchdown percentage in 2016 he was 13th, better than Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Alex Smith, and Joe Flacco, among others. He was actually 6th best in the entire league in interception percentage, besting Matt Ryan, Dalton, Taylor, Smith, Stafford, Wilson, Cousins, Marcus Mariotta, and, by at least a full 1.0%, Flacco, Drew Brees, Carson Wentz, Palmer, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Newton, Manning, and, by a full 2.0%, Jameis Winston and Phillip Rivers.

In a league where Mike Glennon and Josh McCown are getting signed to compete for starting jobs and Austin Davis has work as a second stringer, the idea that Kaepernick just isn't good enough to consider one of the 64 best quarterbacks out there goes waaaaaaaay beyond insulting our collective intelligence.

No, the simple fact is that no team wants to go near Kaepernick because of his social advocacy, which is a somewhat unprecedented development honestly.

The only situation that kinda-sorta comes close is that of Tim Tebow, a lightning rod player who never found a starting job in the league again after leading Denver to a division title and a victory over Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Tebow was certainly a cultural lightning rod to some, but worse from the perspective of a team he had a legion of obsessed fans and an entire major television network dedicated to trolling them with hyperbolic claims about his talent and constant demands to play him.

But even there there's some obvious differences. For one thing, even Tebow's defenders never tried to claim he was a conventionally good NFL quarterback who could produce from the pocket and fit into a variety of offenses. There was talk about how he "just won games" and you needed to build a special offense around him to succeed, but it was more or less conceded that he had some pretty big drawbacks that were especially damaging to him if you assume most coaches don't want to spend a lot of time drawing up entirely different offensive schemes for a backup quarterback.

There's also the pesky fact that, after being replaced in Denver (by near-peak Peyton Manning at that), Tebow immediately landed a job with the Jets where he stayed for a full season and then got a tryout with the Patriots. Even after being out of football for a while (while working a job with ESPN that was probably a better deal than being a bench/special teams player in the NFL anyway) he even got an invitation to camp with Chip Kelly's Eagles.

As far as we know, Kaepernick hasn't even gotten a phone call from anyone other than the Seahawks.

What makes the nonsense excuses much more bizarre, though, is that there shouldn't necessarily be a "scandal" involved here at all.

Every team is within its rights to decline to sign Kaepernick because of his statements, at least provided that they aren't colluding as a unit to blackball him from the league.

Certainly there are a lot of commentators who will point that out, as well as a bunch of people who will understand and defend the notion of not wanting to deal with the fan and media scrutiny signing him would bring, the same way people understood when Tebow and, say, Michael Sam couldn't find a job with an NFL team.

Yet despite that obvious fact, not one of the NFL's 32 teams has come out and said that they don't want the quarterback because of his protests last season. Maybe they think that one team admitting it will start raising questions about collusion (and frankly collusion seems more than possible at this point). Or maybe they realize that, no matter what people think of Kaepernick or his stances (or, um, lack thereof) it's still a bad look when domestic/child abusers like Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson are rushed back onto the field and handed lucrative paychecks because they can still produce while a quarterback easily better than at least half a dozen guys who will start week one this year gets blacklisted over his political opinions.

At the end of the day maybe we were all wrong and there ARE some transgressions that the league won't overlook simply because of talent. Maybe the NFL simply thinks that throwing your girlfriend on a bed full of guns and threatening to kill her or whipping a toddler so hard as to lacerate their skin isn't as bad as protesting the state in the land of the free and home of the brave.

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we now only have one team opening left for the "nashville cup" in november

If you're a golfer and you'd like to participate in a meaningful three-day golf event that concludes with a Ravens road game, #DMD offers the perfect opportunity.

Best of all, you get to bring a guest to play with you. It's #DMD's "Nashville Cup," taking place November 1 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This event is only open to 16 players – eight two-man teams. We have seven teams already in, with one opening available.

You and a golfing friend might be coming home from Nashville with this beautiful trophy if you can beat the field in a three-day event centered around the Ravens-Titans game in November.

We'll play three days of golf down there at a stay-and-play Nashville resort, with eight two-man teams competing in a match-play "member-guest" format. You'll need legitimate USGA handicaps for you and your partner, as this will be a net event.

Our itinerary is set: We depart on Wednesday evening, November 1st, from BWI. We'll play golf Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we have 16 tickets, all seated together, for the Ravens-Titans game at 12:00 noon (Central Time). Then we head back to Baltimore early Sunday evening after the Ravens beat up on Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Everything is included in the package: Airfare, four nights lodging at a cottage right on the property of the golf course where we'll be playing, ground transportation, golf fees, and the Ravens-Titans game ticket.

This is identical to the Ravens-Cardinals trip in Arizona that we put together a couple of years ago, and on which the 16 guys who went on the trip had a complete blast.

The price is $1,245 per player. Remember, you must sign-up as a two-man team, as this competition over three days will be team-based, not individually scored. A $445 per-person deposit will reserve your space, with the remainder due before September 15, 2017.

#DMD will cover the whole thing from Nashville as well, so you'll be putting your golfing prowess out there for everyone to see!

If you and your playing partner are interested in playing in our "Nashville Cup," please e-mail me directly:

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June 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 26
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fact and opinion returns

FACT: -- The American League has a bunch of quality starting pitchers, with Dallas Keuchel (Houston), Chris Sale (Boston) and Ervin Santana (Minnesota) among them. None of those three lead the A.L. with 11 wins though. Do you know who does? It's Jason Vargas of the Royals.

OPINION: -- Vargas is in his 12th big league season. The most games he's ever won is 14 in 2012 when he was with the Mariners. In this past Saturday's win over Toronto, Vargas' fastball topped out at 86 mph. Of the 98 pitches he threw, guess how many times he got behind a hitter with counts of 2-0, 2-1, 3-0 or 3-1? Four. Getting ahead in the count is obviously even more important when your fastball is 86 mph. Don't look now, but Jason Vargas (11-3, 2.29 ERA) is in the discussion for the A.L. Cy Young award.

FACT: -- Serena Williams has 23 grand slam singles titles and 14 more in doubles. While promoting his recently-released book, John McEnroe said Williams would be "like #700 in the world" if she played on the men's tennis circuit.

OPINION: -- No way in hell are there 699 men who would statistically be better than Serena Williams if she played against them in a regular setting for one year. McEnroe's just saying stuff to say it. There might be 199. She could be #200 in the world if she played the men's circuit. But 700? Nope.

FACT: -- Recently signed pitcher Doug Fister went six innings for Boston yesterday, allowing 7 hits, 3 earned runs and striking out 6. Boston lost the game, though, 4-2, to the Angels.

OPINION: -- I don't think Dough Fister would have turned the Orioles rotation around or anything like that, but why wouldn't a team with a woeful starting staff at least take a mid-season look at him? How did the Orioles see fit to pass on him but Boston gave him a shot? I don't get it.

FACT: -- Jordan Spieth joined some elite company on Sunday when he won the PGA Tour in Bromwell, Connecticut. It marked his 10th career victory and he joined Tiger Woods as the only two players to record at least 10 TOUR wins before their 24th birthday. Woods won 15 times before age 24, by the way.

OPINION: -- Spieth's victory yesterday was earned via a holed bunker shot for birdie (below) on the first playoff hole. While he obviously doesn't have Tiger's overall game and he'll never come close to winning 14 major championships, Spieth does have a bit of TW's flair-for-the-dramatic. That was the second hole-out-bunker-shot for a playoff win in his career, along with two other playoff triumphs where he made long birdie putts. He's a gamer, that kid.


FACT: -- Clayton Kershaw has twice won 21 games in his illustrious career. This year, he's already at 11 wins and he still has three more starts to make before the All-Star Break.

OPINION: -- If he were to win those three starts and enter the All-Star break with 14 wins, Kershaw -- currently with 137 career victories -- could get to 150 by season's end. It's really hard for anyone to win 300 games anymore, but 150 wins in 10 seasons is a pretty good start. At just 29 years old, it's possible he'll pitch another 6-7 years at a high level. If he can average 18 wins a season for those seven years, he'll be in the 275 neighborhood. Might get close to 300 after all.

FACT: -- Speaking of baseball's All-Star Game, it's July 11th in Miami.

OPINION: -- There are really only two Orioles field players worthy of All-Star Game consideration this year: Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini. Both have solid arguments, even though Mancini is a player-without-a-formal position, playing first base regularly now in place of injured Chris Davis. Schoop is hitting .295, has 15 home runs and 48 RBI. Mancini is in his first full season in the big leagues and continues to tear it up at the plate (.321, 14 home runs, 43 RBI). Making me choose one and only one? I'll go with Schoop.

FACT: -- The Capitals lost Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft to the Las Vegas Golden Knights. But they buffered that with some good news over the weekend when they announced the re-signing of forward T.J. Oshie to an 8-year deal.

OPINION: -- Schmidt had turned into a decent player, but nothing more than that. His loss isn't that crucial. Keeping Oshie was important because he's one of the rare Washington offensive players who produced in the regular season AND the playoffs.

FACT: -- The NBA held its draft last Thursday and former Maryland star Melo Trimble wasn't selected. He later signed a free agent deal with the Philadelphia 76'ers.

OPINION: -- If you can get your hands on a Melo Trimble bubblegum card with Melo in a 76'ers uniform, you might want to frame it. He won't be in the NBA in two years.

FACT: -- The Cleveland Indians went to Minnesota last week for a key 4-game Central Division showdown with the Twins and promptly swept all four contests. They then came to Baltimore and beat up on the Orioles, winning three of four at Camden Yards. The Indians returned home to face those same Twins this weekend. Guess what happened? Cleveland lost all three.

OPINION: -- Baseball is a bizarre game. The Cleveland offense looked like a well-oiled machine in Baltimore. Over the weekend at home vs. Minnesota, they lost 5-0, 4-2, and 4-0. Corey Kluber struck out 13 Minnesota batters on Saturday night and still lost. Strange times...

FACT: -- The British Open returns to Royal Birkdale in Southport, England next month (July 20-23), marking the 10th time the major championship will be held there. No Englishman has ever won at Royal Birkdale.

OPINION: -- An Englishman won't win there this year, either. An Australian will.

FACT: -- The two best teams in baseball right now -- record wise -- are the Astros (52-25) and the Dodgers (51-26). Back in late March, I picked those two teams to advance to the World Series.

OPINION: -- They're both going to finish with the best record in their respective leagues, but something goofy will happen and they won't wind up meeting in the World Series. It just seems to work that way. But I'll have gloating rights all winter if somehow the Astros and Dodgers face off in the World Series. Hoping...

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an immodest proposal

the black course at bethpage state park

Eighteenth hole on the Black Course at Bethpage State Park with the clubhouse in the background.

The Bethpage Black Course is a public golf course on Long Island. It is the most difficult of the five courses at Bethpage State Park. In 2002, the Black Course became the first publicly owned and operated course to host the U.S. Open. Bethpage Black hosted The Barclays, an event in the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2012 and in 2016, and is scheduled to host again in 2021 and 2027.

Bethpage Black opened in 1936, designed by noted golf architect A.W. Tillinghast, who also designed its Blue and Red Courses.

By the 1980s, the Black Course had become rundown. In 1985, the USGA considered the course as a possible U.S. Public Links Championship venue, and made tentative enquiries to New York state authorities about the idea. These authorities were marbleheads, and their bureacratic natures vexed the USGA officials. In one discussion, the state asked the USGA who would be responsible for the greens fees, the players themselves or the USGA. When it was explained that there were no greens fees and that the event would be a national championship, the state authorities were unmoved. When discussions went downhill from that point, the USGA tabled the idea in frustration.

One member who participated in these discussions, George Zahringer, a club player who fell in love with the Black Course the first time he played it, kept the idea in the back of his mind. When David Fay became director of the USGA, Zahringer sent a letter to him.

"The Black," he wrote, "is as good as it gets. There is genius in the design."

Fay had high regard for Zahringer's opinion. One day while driving from Far Hills to Manhattan, he decided to stop off at the Black Course and walk it with an eye toward setting it up as a championship course. After he completed his walk, he decided that he'd do all in his power to involve the USGA in renovating the Black Course, not for the Public Links but for a U.S. Open!

Fay was obviously successful. The full story of David Fay's adventures in persuading New York officials to cooperate is told by John Feinstein in his wonderful book, "Open – Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black" [Little, Brown and Company: Boston, New York, London; 2003].

The book is an interesting read not only for the golf history it chronicles, but also for the descriptions of people who fall into one of two categories — those who believe that they can accomplish grand things, and those who believe that they cannot.

east lake golf club

Eighteenth hole at East Lake Golf Club with the clubhouse in the background.

The Atlanta Athletic Club was formed in 1898 and due to its popularity it gained 700 members in only four years. The director of the club's athletic program was John Heisman, the famous football coach for whom the Heisman Trophy is named. In 1904 the AAC bought property at East Lake to build a country club which included a golf course. Course architect Tom Bendelow was asked to lay out the course.

The course's first holes were built in 1906 and were initially only seven holes, then nine. In the summer of 1907, the course was expanded to 17 holes, and later that year the 18th hole was built to complete it. Also in 1907, the first significant tournament was hosted at East Lake, the Southern Amateur, won by Nelson Whitney. In 1908, Tom Bendelow opened his "No. 2" course at East Lake.

In 1913, famed golf course architect Donald Ross redesigned the course at East Lake. The new plan provided for each of the nine holes to conclude at the clubhouse. Ross also redesigned the No. 2 course in 1928.

A fire destroyed the original clubhouse at Eastlake in 1925. Following the fire, famed architect Philip Shutze, known for constructing the famous Swan House in Buckhead, was hired by the club to build East Lake's present day two-story Tudor style clubhouse.

Golfer Bobby Jones is said to have played his first and last games of golf at East Lake. Jones won golf's Grand Slam in 1930, claiming the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open, British Amateur and British Open titles in the same year. Jones's father, "Colonel" Robert P. Jones, served as the president of East Lake from 1937–42 and as a director for 38 years. Bobby Jones himself also served as president of East Lake in 1946 and 1947.

In 1963, East Lake hosted the 15th biennial Ryder Cup in which Arnold Palmer served as the playing captain of the winning U.S. Team.

East Lake began a downward spiral when the surrounding neighborhood deteriorated in the 1960s and became victim to suburban flight. The Atlanta Athletic Club became a part of this when it sold the No. 2 course to developers and moved to its current home in Johns Creek. The original course and clubhouse were saved by a group of 25 members who purchased them and created East Lake Country Club in 1968.

In 1970, the East Lake Meadows public housing project was built on the site of the No. 2 golf course and became a center of poverty, drugs and violence. Middle-income homeowners fled the surrounding neighborhood, replaced by low-income renters. By the 1980s, East Lake became a mostly forgotten golf course in a seemingly hopeless neighborhood.

This all changed in 1993 when a local charitable foundation headed by Tom Cousins purchased East Lake with the intent to restore it as a tribute to Bobby Jones and the club's other great amateur golfers. The East Lake Foundation was also created and has used the renovation as a catalyst for revitalizing the surrounding community.

In 1994, Rees Jones, son of golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, restored Donald Ross' original golf course design at East Lake to its current layout.

In 1998 the Tour Championship was hosted at East Lake for the first time. In 2005 East Lake was named the permanent home of the Tour Championship. East Lake has hosted the tournament 16 times since 1998.

harding park golf course

Harding Park Golf Course surrounded by Lake Merced.

Harding Park Golf Course was opened on July 18, 1925. It is named after President Warren G. Harding, an avid golfer, who died in office while visiting San Francisco two years earlier. The course covers 163 acres along the shores of Lake Merced, in the city's southwest corner. Willie Watson and Sam Whiting, who also designed the nearby Olympic Club's Lake Course, drew up a design for a course at Harding Park for a price of $300.

The golf course quickly attracted national attention when it hosted a number of important tournaments, including the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1937 and again in 1956. Future PGA Tour members Ken Venturi, Johnny Miller, and Michael Allen frequented the course during their junior years, developing their games in the challenging conditions. In the 1960s, Harding Park became a regular stop for the PGA Tour, and produced many big-name winners including Venturi, Gary Player, and Billy Casper.

But by the end of the decade, after the San Francisco Open Invitational in 1969, the PGA Tour left Harding Park because of deteriorating conditions and antiquated facilities. Course conditions worsened during the 1970s and 1980s, as the city budget-cuts wreaked havoc on course maintenance. The low point came in 1998, when Harding was used as a parking lot during the U.S. Open at the nearby Lake Course of the Olympic Club.

A turning point for the course came when Sandy Tatum, a prominent San Francisco attorney, champion golfer, and former United States Golf Association president, led the crusade to restore Harding Park to its former glory. He eventually got approval from former mayor Willie Brown to allow Arnold Palmer Golf Management, a Florida-based company, to renovate and operate the park. In 2001, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, namely former District 7 Supervisor Tony Hall, opposed the project based on fear that Arnold Palmer's involvement in the project represented privatization of a municipally-owned golf course. As opposition grew, Arnold Palmer backed out, primarily over concern about revenue estimates. Palmer Golf and the city could not agree on a greens-fee schedule. The city's proposed management contract, at the urging of the Harding Park Men's Club, specified a percentage of tee times that would be held for city residents at a greatly reduced rate, albeit an increase over the previous rate.

When all hopes to renovate Harding Park seemed unrealistic and far fetched, Sean Elsbernd, Tony Hall's Chief of Staff helped to revive the project. Elsbernd later succeeded Hall in office. He and Tatum convinced Hall that the renovation could be a significant revenue producer for the city by attracting the PGA Tour back to town. They argued that it would provide the adequate stimulus for the city to move forward. They also addressed funding concerns by tapping grant money from Proposition 12, a measure passed in 2000 to fund parks across California. But advocacy groups such as the Neighborhood Parks Council continued to oppose the project, claiming that renovating the golf course was not a priority for the city, and that those state grants should be used to help improve other recreation facilities across town. Despite the opposition, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the resolution to use Prop. 12 money in 2001, citing potential revenue for the city, should Harding become a regular host of professional golf events.

Renovation finally began in the spring of 2002. The 15-month-long project expanded the course from 6,743 yards to nearly 7,200 yards in length and upgraded the driving range and clubhouse to PGA Tour standards. The course property remained under the ownership of the city and county of San Francisco. The city's parks and recreation department is responsible for course maintenance, which remains an ongoing concern, for everyday players as well as for PGA Tour officials looking to conduct future events at the course.

Before the 2010 deal with the PGA Tour that made Harding Park a member of the TPC network, Kemper Sports operated the course, including the pro shop and tee-time reservations. Following this deal, which lasted through the spring of 2010, the course is now operated by the tour's Golf Course Properties arm for no management fee. Facilities have become world class and include a modern clubhouse and restaurant capable of hosting special events, and a full-sized practice range. The renovation budget also covered the park's picturesque and challenging nine-hole layout, The Fleming 9, named for John Fleming, the long-time San Francisco Park's superintendent. The fee schedule includes a substantial discount for San Francisco city residents, and a smaller discount for residents of Bay Area counties.

On August 22, 2003, the Harding Park Golf Course was officially reopened. Since the renovation, Harding Park has hosted four men's professional golf tournaments.

On October 6, 2005, Harding Park hosted the WGC-American Express Championship, its first PGA Tour event since 1969, drawing top golfers such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson from around the world. In a thrilling finish, Woods outlasted John Daly. Daly missed a short par-putt on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff. Over the next ten years, several more PGA Tour events are scheduled to be hosted at Harding Park, according to an agreement between the city and the PGA Tour. The course hosted the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in 2015, and will host the 2020 PGA Championship. Harding Park is also scheduled to host the 2025 President's Cup.

Harding Park hosted the Presidents Cup in October 2009, won by the U.S. team in convincing fashion with a five-point margin of victory. Again showing a strong affinity for the course, Woods led the U.S. side with a 5–0 record. The event is scheduled to return in 2025.

Harding Park hosted the Champions Tour's season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in 2010, 2011, and 2013. The tournaments were respectively won by John Cook, Jay Don Blake, and Fred Couples.

mount pleasant park

[Note: I didn't write the sections above, just pulled some relevant paragraphs from Wikipedia. ~George]

Mt. Pleasant's sixth green and part of seventh teeing ground.

I was a Starter at the Mount for some years. Met a ton of interesting people. There was a lot of time to talk when the Waiting List was long. A man named Louis, who sometimes traveled to Baltimore on business, would stop by on Monday afternoons when I worked and put his name on the List. The first time I met him, he sat on the bench opposite the shack, waiting patiently to be called, and after an hour strolled over and asked if I minded a question about the course. I invited him into my office. He asked when the bunker left of #1 fairway had been put in. I told him it was part of Thomas Winton's original design and that it had been kept there by Gus Hook. I was mildly surprised that he knew of Winton and that Winton had designed the championship course at Congressional and other great and good courses on the East Coast.

Louis said that he had been watching for an hour and that no drive from any tee box had come anywhere near the bunker. He said his own drives [and he always played from the tips] never came within 50 yards of the bunker. It dawned on me that I too had never seen a drive from any player, hacker or tournament player, come near the bunker. I suggested that the bunker had been placed there for show. Louis said he doubted that was the reason.

Several weeks later Louis again came by to play. As he waited for a spot, he mentioned that he had an idea why the bunker was there. He thought there must not have been irrigation on the original fairways, and that in dry spells the hard ground would permit drives to roll out a long way. Even though the course was designed as a public course, with the need to get foursomes on the course and playing without delay, he thought the architect would have wanted some possible penalty for those who tried to take advantage of the fairway when it was dry and hard.

When Bill Johnson and I were researching the history of the Mount in Golf House archives, we found an article reporting that Gus Hook had piped the greens so they could be irrigated, but did not pipe the fairways or tee boxes.

The third green protected by bunkers at Mt. Pleasant.

We also found an article about the 1955 Eastern Open stating that the grounds at Mt. Pleasant were hard and fast because of a drought that summer and fall, and that Mike Souchak had won the driving contest with a drive of 349 yards and runner-up Paul Harney's drive measured 324 yards. The previous year, Charlie Sifford won the contest with a poke of 275 yards and Souchak was second at 261 yards.

I mention this as a perhaps overlong prologue to the point. I found Louis to be a thoughtful and insightful man. He possessed a broad knowledge of golf and its history. He was somewhere between 55 and 60 years old, but his classic swing was still powerful. He was pleased when he broke 80. He could play anywhere he chose when he visited Baltimore, but he played only Mt. Pleasant and Baltimore Country Club (East) regularly, and he prefered the former to the latter. When asked why he played Mt. Pleasant, he said something similar to what George Zahringer told David Fay about Bethpage Black: "You have an absolute gem here."


Even I, one of the world's most wide-eyed dreamers, don't believe that Mt. Pleasant is currently a suitable venue for a national Public Links Championship, let alone a United States Open. But I believe, strongly, that it could be.

Lloyd Mangrum, winner of the inaugural Easter Open at Mount Pleasant in 1950.

It would, of course, require extensive renovation. It is highly unlikely that the Perring Parkway land could be reclaimed so that holes #14 and #15 could be restored to their original configuration, which configuration moved 1950 Eastern Open winner Lloyd Mangrum to call Mt. Pleasant "the finest public course I've ever seen or played on," and to deem #14 and #15 "the best back-to-back holes on any course."

It is a shame that modern shafts, clubheads, and balls have become so good, and allow such prodigious lengths, as to render so many classic courses obsolete. And the advances in technology are not slowing down. Erin Hills, the site of this year's U.S. Open, was designed at 7,800 yards, and from what the pros did to it, obviously needs to be lengthened, significantly, if the USGA's goal of par wins the Open is to be met next time around. Expect courses 8,000 and even 8,500 yards to be designed and built in the near future.

Harding Park's championship tees can be stretched to a maximum of 7,169 yards. The tees at East Lake can be stretched to 7,154 (where par is 70). Merion Golf Club played at 6,846 yards (par 70) for the 2013 U. S. Open. I am reasonably sure that all these course have NO possibility of acquiring more land to extend their golf holes. Therefore it is only a matter of time, a very short amount of time, until these gems are obsolete.

Let me throw this idea out there for your consideration. Since there is no room to stretch the Mount, why not just go with the flow and make par for the course whatever it works out to be?

In 1911, the USGA laid down distances for determining the par of a hole. The 1911 distances were absolute and determined the hole's par whether it played uphill or downhill, was straight or a dogleg, etc. In 1956 the USGA changed the absolute dictum and substituted a hole's "effective playing length" in its place. Effective playing length is one of the factors taken into account when a course is given its USGA course and slope rating. I list the distances in effect in 1934 because that is the year that Mt. Pleasant opened.

1934 Distances
(absolute yardage)
Par 2017 Distances
(effective playing length)
Up to 225 yards Par 3 Up to 250 yards
226 to 425 yards Par 4 251 to 470 yards
426 to 600 yards Par 5 471 to 690 yards
Over 601 yards Par 6 Over 691 yards

A hole that hasn't been lengthened an inch in 80 years – but has been subject to a huge increase in distances afforded by space-age technology – should be allowed to adjust the number of strokes expert players are expected to complete it in, especially where that adjusted number is precisely that ‐ the number of strokes expert players are expected to complete it in.

My sense is that the solution is simple: bring in a good architect to renovate the Mount; announce it is holding the National Public Links Championship and invite the champion player from each state; when the players show up, tell them their tee times and that par is 67 or 66 or whatever it has been determined to be using the formula above, then tell them to play hard.

There is a bit of psychological irritation with courses with pars lower than 70. Even pars of 71 and 70 cause a slight bit of angst because they fall short of the considered ideal: 72. But if the older (and un-stretchable) courses are to remain in consideration for the privilege of hosting national championships, this prejudice must be addressed, explained, and overcome.

The tournaments and championships now held at the Black Course, at TPC Harding Park, and at East Lake bring valuable attention and prestige to their cities as well as significant income to the businesses and employees in those cities. I think Baltimore could use a boost to its prestige,

and every business and employee could use more income.

The renovations of the three golf courses have been extensively documented, providing blueprints for another classic course to follow if it chose to do so. I know of no attempt at renovation of a classic course that has failed to provide social and financial returns far in excess of the resources and time expended in the effort.

This contribution was provided to #DMD by George McDowell.

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wanna caddie with a big name pro golfer? you can!

If you're fit enough to carry someone's golf bag around Caves Valley for 18 holes, there's an opportunity waiting for you on July 12.

Now, granted, you have to love golf to accept this job, but a one-day caddying opportunity is available for the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley. You'd be caddying for one of the amateurs in the pro-am event, but in your group would be one of the professional players who is competing in the actual event later in the week.

You might get to rub shoulders with Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, etc.

I'm in, and so are several of my Calvert Hall golfers. We won't know who we're caddying for until closer to tournament time, but we'll be toting the bag of an amateur in the field and watching some great golf up close and personal as one of the Champions Tour players tees it up on our foursome.

Not only do you get to watch great golf, you get paid for it, too! Plus, you'll receive a complimentary grounds pass to attend the entire event free of charge.

If you're interested in signing up to caddie on July 12 in the pro-am, just reach out to Caves Valley caddie master Brian Huebeck ( and he'll get you all set up.

Hughes Mechanical
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June 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 25
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what's the story behind not selling at the deadline?

The dubious pitching streak is over and the Orioles even won a rare road game on Saturday in St. Petersburg.

Let the good times roll, right?

For the first time in 21 games yesterday, the Birds failed to yield at least five runs, which leaves them tied with the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies for the all-time record. And the bats came alive to the tune of three home runs as the O's beat Tampa Bay, 8-3, moving into sole possession of fourth place in the process.

But that's far from the big story about our town's baseball team.

Several national baseball sources are now reporting that the O's have been telling major league teams they'll be buyers at the trade deadline, not sellers, which has sparked a rash of debate from folks who assumed the Birds would be trying to dump some veterans between now and late July in an effort to restock their farm system and 40-man roster.

At the head of it all apparently is Dan Duquette, who is doing the talking for the Orioles in these trade-related matters.

But is Duquette the one who wants to buy at the deadline? Or is he merely passing on the decision that's been above him?

We can all assume Buck Showalter doesn't want to sell at the deadline. He wants to buy. What fun is it sitting in the dugout in August and September and getting your brains beat in for sixty games? We've seen how Showalter has looked throughout June when the Orioles went is he going to handle an intentional downturn?

It is worth reminding everyone that it's June 25th and more than a month of baseball remains before the July 31st trading deadline. I don't suspect the Orioles are going to go on any kind of semi-productive run over the next 30 games, but it's baseball -- weird things happen.

Right now, they're 36-38. What if -- just play along for a second, I know you're shaking your head "no" right now -- they manage to go 17-13 in their next 30 games and July 25 rolls around and they're two games above .500 and only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race?

If that scenario does happen, it stands to reason the club might want to snag a couple of arms and a bat or two in late July.

I don't think they have much to trade, by the way, in order to make those deals happen, but let's pretend they do. They could always give up Chance Sisco or Tanner Scott to get a couple of veterans. I don't want them to do it, but they could.

What this becomes, of course, is a guessing game. If you're running the team, you look at your roster, you look at what you've done over the first three months of the season, and you make a call on what you belive is most likely to happen.

If the Orioles gave me that luxury, I'd tell them they're going to be 49-55 in late July and the Wild Card race would be out of their grasp. But they're not asking me.

But the Orioles must not see things the same way I see them, because they're telling teams they're going to be buyers, not sellers.

Maybe that's Duquette "playing the game" and trying to improve his team's position in the trade market. Or maybe he's been given a directive from Peter Angelos that the Orioles aren't giving in no matter what their record is come late July.

It wouldn't be the first time the owner has gotten involved in July and swayed his baseball folks to stay the course rather than trading away veteran players.

But why would Angelos do that?

There's only one reason, and at least one team source confirms it: Attendance

Angelos is concerned that a fire sale of veteran talent at the deadline would lead to a drop off in ticket sales once the team's less-than-talented roster falls out of the playoff race altogether.

He's right about that, too, by the way. Whether you agree or disagree with the "let's buy, not sell" theory the Orioles are apparently adhering to, it's very fair to admit that if the team is 10 games out of the playoffs in mid-August, it will be a ghost town at Camden Yards for the final 20-25 home games of the regular season.

"Peter's not giving in, because he knows what that says to the fans," the team associate says. "And they're not trading Manny, either. Those two things you can count on."

There's that Chris Davis contract rearing its ugly head again, huh?

But in all fairness, with a $160 million-ish payroll in 2017, who can blame Angelos for wanting to squeeze every dollar out of the 2017 campaign that he can? And even though it's not that much money (5,000 less fans per-game x $20 per-ticket x 20 games is only $2 million), selling at the deadline rather than buying (or standing pat) is definitely a signal you think the season's over. And if the team thinks the season's over, what's to stop the fans from thinking the same thing?

Standing pat is an interesting option for the O's as well.

That would at least give the impression they're in-it-to-win-it, and wouldn't be pawning off any of their veteran players at the same time. They also wouldn't foolishly give away the likes of Sisco and Scott, two of their most coveted minor leaguers.

Duquette hopefully remembers that awful deal he swung for Gerardo Parra two years ago when he dealt pitching prospect Zach Davies to the Brewers. Parra stunk it up in Baltimore and was a short-term rental while Davies is now a valuable arm for the Brewers.

Let's not see Chance Sisco lighting it up in two years for (insert team here) because Duquette was able to get his hands on a decent starting pitcher for two months of work.

We'll throw a #DMD poll up on Monday and ask you what you'd like to see the O's do. There are lots of options at this point, and all have their pros and cons.

It's up to Duquette to figure out which one is best.

The big question, though: Is he making that decision? Or is someone else in the organization calling the shots at this point?

They better be making the right call, whomever it is.

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mickelson, "bones" split up is hard to figure out

You can count me among those who think there's more to the split between Phil Mickelson and his caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay than meets the eye.

It doesn't make any sense at all.

Mackay and Mickelson were together for 25 years on the PGA Tour before the two abruptly announced last Monday that they were "mutually agreeing" to end the partnership.

First off, there's no way it was a mutual agreement. Someone had to be the first one to speak up and say, "You know, about this 25 year run we've had..."

Mickelson has every right to fire his caddie, by the way. He's the employer, the caddie is the employee. If Mickelson felt the time was right, that's his call.

But why the secrecy?

Mackay will get a new bag on some TOUR hotshot, if he wants one, before the British Open. It's not like being fired by Phil is a scarlet letter that will haunt Mackay in his job pursuit.

An even more pressing question than "why the secrecy?" would be this: "Why part company with one another in the first place?"

Mackay has to love making a million bucks a year carrying Phil's bag around. I'd do it for half that amount. So would about 50 other caddies currently employed on the TOUR.

Mickelson has said -- and any poll of TOUR caddies confirms it -- that Mackay is the best pro looper in the game today. Yes, the player hits all the shots, but the caddie is an extremely helpful resource to a professional golfer, particularly if your guy/gal knows what they're doing.

So, this split makes zero sense.

Is it a golf-related break-up? Phil hasn't won in a few years and he's running out of chances to complete the career grand slam (he still needs a win in the U.S. Open). Could it be that Phil doesn't think Mackay is getting him to play at his best?

That's a silly thought, but pro golfers are mercurial people. No one in the world knows Phil's game better than Mackay, a fact Mickleson admitted on a recent edition of David Feherty's TV show.

If it were health related and Bones needed a break -- Mackay had both knees replaced late in 2016 -- wouldn't they just say that?

If Mackay wanted to spend more time with his family, wouldn't that be the easiest thing to "sell" to the media and public?

Instead, they both offered a strange, vague "statement" about how much they love one another and how they'll always cherish the time they spent together.

I remember once, in the basement of a house, a former employer of mind saying, "You know how fond I am of you" about ten seconds after he canned me.

In other words, something about the Mickelson-Mackay statement doesn't add up.

You guys have been together for 25 years. You've won five major championships together. You've both made more money than you know what to do with. And now, suddenly, it's time to call it quits?

I don't buy it.

Here's my guess. I don't know anything-about-anything, but I'm putting one and one together. The split-up, somehow, has something to do with Jon Rahm, one of the TOUR's new stars-in-the-making who won earlier this year at Torrey Pines and appears ready to take the world by storm in a year or two.

Rahm was coached in college by Tim Mickelson, Phil's brother. Tim then caddied for Rahm at the outset of his pro career in 2016 and then again in 2017. He also served as a de facto business manager for Rahm while the young man got himself established.

Now, suddenly, Tim Mickelson is going to caddie for his brother, Phil. And he's apparently no longer involved with Rahm.

And Jim Mackay is unemployed.

Oh, and Jon Rahm doesn't have a caddie.

Weird, right?

We haven't heard the whole story yet.

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we now only have one team opening left for the "nashville cup" in november

If you're a golfer and you'd like to participate in a meaningful three-day golf event that concludes with a Ravens road game, #DMD offers the perfect opportunity.

Best of all, you get to bring a guest to play with you. It's #DMD's "Nashville Cup," taking place November 1 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This event is only open to 16 players – eight two-man teams. We have seven teams already in, with one opening available.

You and a golfing friend might be coming home from Nashville with this beautiful trophy if you can beat the field in a three-day event centered around the Ravens-Titans game in November.

We'll play three days of golf down there at a stay-and-play Nashville resort, with eight two-man teams competing in a match-play "member-guest" format. You'll need legitimate USGA handicaps for you and your partner, as this will be a net event.

Our itinerary is set: We depart on Wednesday evening, November 1st, from BWI. We'll play golf Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we have 16 tickets, all seated together, for the Ravens-Titans game at 12:00 noon (Central Time). Then we head back to Baltimore early Sunday evening after the Ravens beat up on Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Everything is included in the package: Airfare, four nights lodging at a cottage right on the property of the golf course where we'll be playing, ground transportation, golf fees, and the Ravens-Titans game ticket.

This is identical to the Ravens-Cardinals trip in Arizona that we put together a couple of years ago, and on which the 16 guys who went on the trip had a complete blast.

The price is $1,245 per player. Remember, you must sign-up as a two-man team, as this competition over three days will be team-based, not individually scored. A $445 per-person deposit will reserve your space, with the remainder due before September 15, 2017.

#DMD will cover the whole thing from Nashville as well, so you'll be putting your golfing prowess out there for everyone to see!

If you and your playing partner are interested in playing in our "Nashville Cup," please e-mail me directly:

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June 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 24
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we're watching history

Until last night in St. Petersburg, Florida, only one major league baseball team had EVER allowed five or more runs in twenty consecutive games.

Only one. In the history of baseball. That's a lot of teams, a lot of seasons and a lot of games.

Now there are two teams who have done it.

History was made -- or equaled, at least -- on Friday evening when it took the Orioles two innings to allow five runs in a 15-5 loss to the Rays, marking the 20th straight games the Birds have surrendered at least five runs.

Forget the streak for a moment, please, and let's look at what has happened in the last two weeks to the Orioles.

On June 9, the Birds lost 8-2 in New York to the Yankees. That would turn out to be the highlight of the weekend in the Big Apple, as the Birds were throttled 16-3 the next night and 14-3 on Sunday, June 11, as the Yankees swept the O's.

On June 12 in Chicago, the Birds fell 10-7, but it was 10-3 heading to the 9th before the O's nicked the White Sox for four runs to make the final score somewhat respectable.

At home last Friday night, June 16th, the Orioles were blasted by the Cardinals, 11-2.

And on Monday, June 19th, Cleveland drilled the Birds, 12-0.

Last night's 15-5 drubbing in Tampa Bay was Groundhog Day. Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't get anyone out and it was 4-0 before Jim Hunter started making his first excuse of the night.

This team isn't just "losing". They're getting clobbered every third or fourth night in embarrassing fashion.

If they had given up five runs in 20 straight games but were in most of those contests and had a handful of last inning defeats and other "bad beats", you might be willing to soften the criticism a little bit.

But it's hard to take it easy on them when they're losing 14-3, 11-2, 12-0 and 15-5.

It reeks of not trying, frankly. It's way too early to use the "q word" -- it's June 24th, after all -- but if you just flew in from Pluto and saw the scores of the team's last twenty games, you'd be well within your rights to wonder if the players have quit.

I've watched nearly every game this season.

I don't think the Orioles have quit.

But their play in June is loosely akin to someone entering the Alford Plea in a court case.

The players aren't going to admit to quitting, but there's enough evidence in place to return a guilty verdict.

What else can we say about this abysmal month? Bad luck? Injuries? Other team got hot at the wrong time? Yes, yes and yes. All three of those "things" are real.

But when I see Manny Machado jog out grounders on a nightly basis and I watch pitchers labor through 30-pitch innings, I have to wonder if everyone on the 25-man roster is fully engaged.

Are they?

I'm not sure.

And if you're not completely and fully "into it" at the major league level, you're going to wind up getting embarrassed. It's not the other team's responsibility to keep your pride intact. If they've scored 15, they're gunning for 16. Can't blame any team for that mentality.

The worst thing of all? The Orioles are 35-38. They've played 73 games. There are 89 remaining to be played. If the pitching is this shabby and this beatable on June 24, what's going to happen on July 24 and August 24?

And once the Birds drop to, say, 42-52, what happens then with the effort and the intensity level?

I suspect we'll see maximum enthusiasm from guys like Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard. They're just thrilled to be in the big leagues and don't know enough yet to start and stop trying on a whim.

But what will Machado, Schoop, Davis, Trumbo, et al look like once the season starts to permanently tilt in the direction of last place?

Can they play hard every night? Will they play hard every night?

I don't know the answers.

I'm afraid of what we might see, if I'm being honest, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now and hope they continue to play like professionals despite the losing.

One thing for sure. What we've seen over the last twenty games hasn't been very professional. And that's not me telling you that -- that's the standings, statistics and major league record book making that claim.

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a deeper look at mount pleasant

It's been a fun week here at #DMD as we sparked conversation about Mount Pleasant Golf Course and how it might hold up someday in the future if the U.S. Open ever ventured to Hillen Road and Northern Parkway.

All of this talk got me to thinking about my affection for the golf course and my own personal history there.

Sadly, I don't often get over to "The Mount" to play anymore. I don't think I've played the course since April of 2015, although I've been a regular for breakfast there -- my wife and kids love it! -- and still enjoy stopping in for a visit.

But even though I don't regularly play the place these days, my memory is fully intact.

Proudly displayed at the pro shop at Mount Pleasant.

I made my first-ever hole-in-one on #6 at the Mount, on June 4, 1995. I was playing with my good friend Greg Ruark, Ed Turner and a guy named Jim, whose last name I forget, regrettably. The flag was back left and I hit a 9-iron that hit just above the pin, 10 feet or so to the right, and spun gently into the hole.

I've thought long and hard about how many of the 18 holes I've eagled and I think I'm right when I say this: I've made an eagle on every par 4 there except #4, #9 and #14. In fact, I made an eagle 2 one year in the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play on the second day of the tournament, then eagled the exact same hole again a few days later when our Tuesday afternoon group met up for its weekly competition.

I've eagled both par 5's, but never eagled the left green on the 1st hole, only the right green.

The first time I had a chance to win the Mount Pleasant club championship was, I think 1995. I went 6-5-6 (that's three straight double bogeys) at 16, 17 and 18 to lose by two. I couldn't make a golf swing on the last three holes. Looking back on it now, it was pretty funny. Then, not so much.

There was a December day, probably in 1997 or 1998, when Greg Ruark and I wanted to get some golf in despite the cold temperatures. How cold? As I drove down Perring Parkway, the temperature reading on a big clock in a shopping center said "17 degrees". I met Greg at the course, we had a coffee, and off we went. Yes, in 17 degree temperatures. We walked 18 holes, had lunch, a bowl of hot soup, and went back out to walk nine more.

When I passed that clock on the way home, it read "11 degrees". The greens weren't holding much that day but we had a blast nonetheless.

In the 2009 Fall Publinx, I birdied the first five holes and eight of the first ten. I once made six birdies in a row at Clifton Park, but golf-tournament wise, those five birdies in a row in the Fall Publinx is a personal record for me.

My favorite hole on the course has always been #2. I don't know why, but I love the look of it. If I had to pick a second-favorite hole, it would be #12.

My least favorite hole? Definitely #17. Probably because it's hard to make a three.

What's the hardest hole at Mount Pleasant? From the back tees, I'd say it's #14. And not just because it's the longest, either. You have to hit a good drive, for starters. Anything left or right brings trouble into play. And then you have an uphill second shot to a bigger-than-you-realize green.

My best score? In competition, it's 67. In "playing-with-the-guys" it's 66, twice. But in all of my career rounds there (easily 500 or more), I think I only broke 70 about 20 times. That's it.

I always thought the hardest thing about Mount Pleasant was the greens. Getting the ball ON the putting surface wasn't that hard. But when you do eventually get the putter in your hand, there's no guarantee you're going to make a putt of any length.

The best part? The people. The head golf professional at the time, Jim Deck, was a terrific guy that we tormented on a daily basis. He's now at Pine Ridge, still doing his thing. There were countless others there who made the place special. Some were sane, some maybe weren't, but it was always an interesting occasion when you teed it up at Mount Pleasant.

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we now only have one team opening left for the "nashville cup" in november

If you're a golfer and you'd like to participate in a meaningful three-day golf event that concludes with a Ravens road game, #DMD offers the perfect opportunity.

Best of all, you get to bring a guest to play with you. It's #DMD's "Nashville Cup," taking place November 1 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This event is only open to 16 players – eight two-man teams. We have seven teams already in, with one opening available.

You and a golfing friend might be coming home from Nashville with this beautiful trophy if you can beat the field in a three-day event centered around the Ravens-Titans game in November.

We'll play three days of golf down there at a stay-and-play Nashville resort, with eight two-man teams competing in a match-play "member-guest" format. You'll need legitimate USGA handicaps for you and your partner, as this will be a net event.

Our itinerary is set: We depart on Wednesday evening, November 1st, from BWI. We'll play golf Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we have 16 tickets, all seated together, for the Ravens-Titans game at 12:00 noon (Central Time). Then we head back to Baltimore early Sunday evening after the Ravens beat up on Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Everything is included in the package: Airfare, four nights lodging at a cottage right on the property of the golf course where we'll be playing, ground transportation, golf fees, and the Ravens-Titans game ticket.

This is identical to the Ravens-Cardinals trip in Arizona that we put together a couple of years ago, and on which the 16 guys who went on the trip had a complete blast.

The price is $1,245 per player. Remember, you must sign-up as a two-man team, as this competition over three days will be team-based, not individually scored. A $445 per-person deposit will reserve your space, with the remainder due before September 15, 2017.

#DMD will cover the whole thing from Nashville as well, so you'll be putting your golfing prowess out there for everyone to see!

If you and your playing partner are interested in playing in our "Nashville Cup," please e-mail me directly:

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June 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 23
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it's official: i say trade machado

Another night of watching Orioles pitching fail to deliver brought me to this point, yes, but there's a lot more to it than just a 6-3 loss to the Indians on a sticky Thursday night in late June.

I have arrived at my destination, though. The Orioles should trade Manny Machado.

It's not only the smart thing to do for their future, but it rids them of the most pesky, polarizing subject they're going to deal with in the ownership tenure of Peter G. Angelos.

This isn't the first time we've broached this subject here at #DMD, obviously. It's been a hot topic here and around town for the better part of six weeks now, as the O's went from a MLB best record of 22-10 to 35-37 after last night's loss to Cleveland.

But I've settled on my decision. And quite easily, in fact.

Let's start the rebuilding project by parting ways with Machado.

And no, this is not just a knee-jerk reaction to those two amateur-hour base-running stunts he pulled on Wednesday night in the 5-1 loss at Camden Yards. This is more about the future, and the inevitable frustration the organization is going to feel when one of two things happens in the winter of 2018 and beyond. They're either going to lose Machado to free agency and get a draft pick in exchange for his departure or he's going to get $225 million for six years and then deliver a performance worth half that money.

Either way, the O's can't win.

The only way the Orioles could be the ones getting the better end of the deal is if Machado signs for $225 million for six years and then plays like a guy worth that kind of money. News flash: He's not going to do that.

Machado is supremely gifted. No one would dispute that. His lousy 2017 offensive season (to date) notwithstanding, there are few in the game today who excel on the same level as Manny. He's going to the Hall of Fame unless something really goofy happens with his production over the next decade, and I don't see that happening.

But here's what else I don't see: A winner.

That's very objective, of course, and there are going to be people who take the counter side to that argument and ask, "How do you know he's not a winner?". I don't know that. But I definitely feel that, the same way I felt Alex Ovechkin wasn't a winner after watching him play for a few years with the Washington Capitals.

There's no exact science to it. And there hasn't been one defining moment that proves me right about Ovechkin. It builds over time, little pieces coming together like a puzzle. Until one day, you realize it: Great player, but not a winner.

Machado isn't a winner.

While I won't let what happened on Wednesday night disproportionately affect my take on Machado, there's no doubt it's a piece of the puzzle. With his team in dire need of a win -- any win, at this point -- Machado failed to run out two ground balls. The night before, he admired a shot off the right field wall rather than darting out of the batter's box.

These aren't the only examples of Manny's laissez-faire attitude, but they are the most recent ones I've witnessed. And for $225 million, the organization deserves a lot more effort than that.

I read the recent ESPN The Magazine article where Machado graced the front cover. It was an interesting read on him, a deep dive into what makes Machado tick and how his Dominican heritage has shaped his view of baseball and life.

I'm not here to judge anyone who is happy-go-lucky. That's a wonderful trait to have. But when I read the piece, one element stood out to me like a hangnail. Machado is going to do what he wants to do and whether you like it or not, he's going to have fun while doing it.

No problems there. None at all. But that also doesn't mean I have to like it.

And if jaking it on ground balls is the way Machado is going to have fun, then moving him on isn't such a bad idea after all.

But, again, this isn't just about Machado's attitude.

It's about business. And betting. And trying to figure out the best course of action to take for an organization that desperately needs to be re-stocked with talent.

Machado is a free agent after next season. The bet is that he won't re-sign in Baltimore. Unless the team is going to pony up something close to $40 million annually for his services, it stands to reason he's going to play somewhere else in 2019.

To me, that's not a gamble worth losing. Not when you can move him now and get plenty of good, young players in return and start rebuilding your roster from the ground up, all while still having enough decent talent to stay somewhat competitive for a couple of years.

It would be one thing if Machado and his agent were open to re-signing now, but industry reports say they aren't. And who can blame them? Why take $33 million a year now when you can leverage his availability in the winter of 2018 and possibly get upwards of $40 million? I don't fault Machado at all for waiting it out.

But I do fault him for not caring all that much about how the team does, an assessment I make every time I see him fail to run out a ground ball or smash a ball off the wall somewhere and then wind up standing on second base instead of third.

I blame Machado for not kicking it up a notch over the last six weeks when the team has stunk worse than The Wallflowers' follow-up to their outstanding 1996 album, Bringing Down The Horse.

The Orioles have needed a different Manny since mid-May. They needed a team-player Manny. They needed a guy who leads by example.

Instead, they got a loafer. A cruiser. A potentially great player, but one who doesn't understand (or accept, perhaps) that the great ones all figure out a way to make a difference on the field and in the locker room.

Machado doesn't make that much of a difference. If he did, we'd be seeing a different side of him during this losing cycle.

And with that, I authorize the Orioles to trade Machado and get the rebuilding process officially underway. It's going to hurt a little bit, yes, but the Orioles haven't done this to Machado. Machado has done it all to himself.

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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.

It's high time we collect all of the "unwritten rules" in baseball and, well...make them written. Sort them out, put them on paper, and bind it all up in a nice, tidy book somewhere.

And then set it on fire.

While unofficial norms play an important part in all walks of life, baseball players and supporters of "old school" culture in the game have flat out taken the concept too far, with an all-encompassing system of "rules" that are poorly articulated, overly broad, and arbitrarily applied.

And while most of the criticism for their adverse consequences centers around whether they take the fun out of the game and how appropriate it is to intentionally hurl a fastball into another human being, at the margins some of these "rules" also call into question the legitimacy of the competition itself.

The ultimate case in point came this past Wednesday night in the Tigers-Mariners game. Justin Verlander took a perfect game and a 4-0 lead into the 6th inning, only to see Jarrod Dyson break it up with a bunt single. In any other context that's a good baseball play, a potential rally sparker, and a crucial moment in what became a comeback win for Seattle.

Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander barks at the Seattle bench on Wednesday night after Jarrod Dyson broke up his perfect game with a bunt single in the 6th inning.

But, of course, the fact that Verlander hadn't allowed any base runners yet has some up in arms at Dyson for daring to bunt his way on base, which is a well known violation of the unwritten rules. This is being treated in some corners as a serious situation that once again calls into question how much today's players respect the game and value the time honored traditions of sportsmanship and gentlemanly competition handed down by such luminaries as Ty Cobb, Bob Gibson, and Pete Rose.

This is absurd on its face. There were FOUR innings left to play when Dyson came to bat. His team needed just one run per inning to tie the game up. Heck, they were still just one home run away from a tie game.

As already noted, Seattle ended up not only avoiding being no-hit, but winning the game after scoring three runs in the inning in which Dyson committed the grave sin of trying to get on base and help his team win. What's more, while you might allow that it would be bush league for someone like Mark Trumbo to suddenly come up and lay down a bunt, Dyson leads the league in bunt hits now, with 6 on the year.

Dyson was also in the top five in MLB in the category in 2013 and 2014, while failing to register enough total at bats to qualify for the batting title in either season. In other words, bunting for hits is a big part of Dyson's game, and the Tigers should have been prepared to defend against it.

Most damning of all, however, is the fact that you can't possibly build a coherent defense of the idea that Dyson did something wrong. Verlander had a perfect game going? So does every pitcher to start the game! Is there an unwritten rule that no one can attempt a bunt until at least one other player has reached base? When, exactly, does it become improper to use any possible means to reach base for the first time in a game?

I guess it's before the sixth inning, anyway.

And why is a bunt hit different than any other kind of infield hit? If Dyson hits a soft chopper or a sharp grounder deep into the hole, is he allowed to run at full speed, or does he have to dial it back to 75-90% to respect the opposing pitcher? And why doesn't anyone ever wonder if these "rules" about how you're not supposed to try your hardest to get on base actually cheapen the accomplishment of pitching a perfect game? Because it sure seems to me that if the other team is letting you do it, it's not all that special.

This is actually a pretty good microcosm of how the lore of the unwritten rules has gotten completely out of control in baseball. There's a morsel of good ethics here to be sure: It would be unseemly for, say, Aaron Judge to come up in the 9th inning of a perfect game down 8-0 and put down a bunt for the sole purpose of getting to first base and avoiding being on the embarrassing end of history.

The counterargument is that there's no clock in baseball and by getting on base you're extending the chance to win, but on the other hand there's definitely an appearance that you're not actually trying to win in a situation like that so much as you're just trying to avoid getting no-no'd.

But you can't spin any such argument out of what Dyson did Wednesday night. It was too early in the game, the game was too close, Dyson is a light-hitting speedster, and Seattle went on to win the game.

If anything, Wednesday's story highlights how much application of the so-called unwritten rules has heavily swung in the direction of pitchers over the past decade or so. Batters aren't allowed to admire home runs "too much," whatever that means, but pitchers can do fist pumps, smack their gloves, dance on the mound, etc. after every strike out if they want.

Or as we learned during the war between Cole Hamels and Bryce Harper when the latter first came up, apparently a pitcher is allowed to throw a fastball into your ribs simply for not liking the cut of your jib, but if you then decide to make him pay for putting you on base by stealing second, you're disrespecting him by breaking an unwritten rule (which, coincidentally, I myself had never heard of until that point).

And yes, apparently, at some arbitrary and unspecified point in a perfect game you're not supposed to try to reach base by putting the onus on the infield defense to get you out, even if your team is still within striking distance of the lead with as many innings left to play as you need runs to tie. This isn't an accident: the pitchers hold all of the leverage in this situation. Not only do they not have to pick up a bat and stand in there themselves, but the league's punishment structure penalizes hitters who charge the mound, throw a bat/helmet at a pitcher, etc. far more severely that a pitcher who deliberately hits an opponent with a 95 MPH fastball.

Will this situation escalate to that? Probably not. I did actually here a couple of baseball commentators suggest they would throw at Dyson on Thursday, but I don't actually think the Tigers will do that. But the mere fact that you even have to wonder about it is proof enough that the idea of unwritten rules has gone too far.

Baseball players (well really, baseball pitchers) have simply proven they aren't mature enough to be trusted with such an abstract concept as an unofficial ethics code and self-policing without turning it into one excuse after another to whine that the other guy actually had the nerve to try to beat you or, worse, to have the nerve to do anything but show contrition in the event he actually does do his job better than you on any given night.

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put up $25,000 or shut up

We, the readers, writers, and commenters on #DMD have had an enjoyable back-and-forth over the question of what modern-day PGA Tour bombers would score at Mount Pleasant Park Golf Club. This back-and-forth has been hypothetical.

But today, I, George McDowell, would like to take it from hypothetical to reality.

Over the course of my life I’ve found that that there are two types of people in this world: those whose words, representing their opinions, have meaningful force and those whose words are no more than what that great Greek sage Socrates called a wind egg – an attempt at defecation that results in only a noisy and smelly fart.

"Terrible" Tommy Bolt was the greatest club-thrower in PGA Tour history. Through the bag, putter to driver, Bolt could launch them all. No one-trick-pony, Bolt could throw clubs both on land and into water, first hole or last, right-handed, lefty or (as documented above) with both. He was also known as the go-to-guy for bad-tempered rookies, always approachable for advice on throwing: distance, direction, form, and even his trademark move, helicoptering. He also won the 1957 Eastern Open and the 1958 U.S. Open.

To separate the two, we issue the following challenge: Bring someone [ANYONE - McIlroy, Johnson, Spieth, Holmes, or Koepka] to the Mount who will break Terrible Tommy Bolt's 1954 course record of eight-under-par in a stipulated round. If this champion shoots 62 or lower, I will give him (or her) $25,000. If he fails to shoot 62 or lower, he will give me $25,000. Should I prevail, I will donate half of my winnings to Mt. Pleasant for whatever purpose head professional Brian Meyer wishes to dedicate it to.

[To insure that no peckerhead prosecutor would deem this "gambling," we specify that this is an event with a first-prize of $50,000 and that the entry fee is $25,000.]

These are the conditions of the challenge:

  • The course will play at its back-tee length, 6,756 yards, on the day of the stipulated round.
  • The champion must risk his own money. Should it ever be discovered (with the Statute of Limitations waived as a defense) that his $25,000 entry fee was covered or somehow re-imbursable to him in any way by sponsors or gamblers or anybody else, directly or indirectly and at any time, the challenge is declared a loss for the champion, and I am entitled to the full amount of the challenge money plus a million dollars in stipulated punitive-damages for fraud.
  • The course will be set up with the rough similar to the length it was at Merion Golf Club for the 2013 U. S. Open.
  • The greens on every hole will be mowed and rolled such that a minimum Stimpmeter reading is achieved equal to the highest reading at any U. S. Open course in the previous ten years.
  • The holes will be cut in the usual U.S. Open style: six easy; six medium; six difficult. These placements will be determined by unanimous agreement between a representative of mine, a representative of the champion, and by the head professional of Mt. Pleasant Park Golf Course.
  • The Rules of Golf published by the United States Golf Association shall apply in all cases to this stipulated round of golf.
  • The copyright of any audio or video capture of the stipulated round as well as its preface or aftermath belongs to me, and any royalty that accrues to me from the use of this copyrighted material will be shared equally with Mt. Pleasant Park Golf Club.
Left to right: Unknown (probably Robert Hannan, president of the Baltimore Junior Association of Commerce and co-general chairman of the Eastern Open); Tommy Bolt, tournament winner; Miss Eastern Open 1957 (possibly named Jerry Fiorilli); Tom O'Donnell, tournament chairman; Mayor of Baltimore Tommy D'Alesandro Jr. (father of U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi).

The date of this event will be determined by agreement of the parties and set in advance. There will be no agreement on what minimum weather conditions must exist for the round to be played. Any decision on whether to postpone the round because of inclement weather will be made by the Mt. Pleasant head professional based on whether a U. S. Open would be postponed under similar conditions.

I will be at the course on the day of the event, and easily findable. If you are, like the editor of this site, of the opinion that the course will be destroyed by ANY modern long-hitting PGA professional, you can get a bet down with my banker/bodyguard in support of your opinion. Oddsmakers who have reviewed the terms of this wager have strongly suggested that it is weighted greatly in our favor, and that we should offer six-to-five odds to entice maximum play. So we do – bet $500 that the course record will be broken and you will win $600.

Doesn't life become clearer when actions have consequences?

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phelps beats woods to win #dmd's "ultimate winner" challenge

In the end, like he did a lot in his final Olympic games in Rio, Michael Phelps came through down the stretch. After trailing in voting on day one, Phelps surged past Tiger Woods on Thursday and became the winner of #DMD's "Ultimate Winner" contest, 53% to 47%.

Sure, Phelps might have received some "home cooking" from the partisan Baltimore audience here at #DMD, but this wasn't Ryan Flaherty somehow beating out Adam Jones for most popular Orioles player of 2017.

Phelps was a great, great champion -- as was Woods -- and local connection aside, there's nothing at all wrong with the swimmer nudging past the golfer to earn the win.

Both are icons in their sports. Game changers. Once a century performers, perhaps.

Thank you to everyone who took the time over the last three-plus weeks to vote in our contest. We appreciate the time you took to review each contestant on a daily basis and make your vote.

June 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 22
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o's hang in there but lose again as manny jogs a couple out

I guess Manny Machado figured he was allowed to lollygag after his Tuesday night performance at Camden Yards where he belted two home runs, drove in four, and ignited a 7th inning surge with a leadoff double.

What other reason could he give for jogging down to first base on two ground outs in Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to the Indians?

The O's not only lost to fall below .500 again (35-36), but their record for consecutive games allowing at least five runs remained intact when Cleveland tacked on two runs in the top of the 9th, dinging Tuesday night's pitching hero -- Miguel Castro -- for five hits in about eight minutes of work.

The Orioles have now surrendered five or more runs in 18 straight games, two shy of tying the major league record held by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

One night after serving as the team's offensive star, Manny Machado put forth little effort in the Orioles 5-1 loss to the Indians on Wednesday evening at Camden Yards.

Cleveland has a very good team, by the way. I know Houston is off to a sizzling start and all, but someone is going to have to play really well in October to beat the Indians.

The two Machado incidents most certainly weren't the first time this season he jaked it, but they were glaring nonetheless. In the bottom of the fourth, Manny's pace down the first base line was so slow he could have held a cherry snowball in his hand and nary a drop would have spilled out onto his pretty white uniform.

I even remarked via Twitter in the next inning that Cleveland's Francisco Lindor made it around the bases on his home run in a quicker time than it took Machado to scoot down to first base in the previous inning.

Eh, who cares, right?

I mean, if the manager doesn't care, why should we? Then again, I'm sure Showalter probably does care, but what's he going to do to Machado to get him to hustle? He could bench him for a night or even the start of a game, but all that's going to do is ruffle the kid's feathers.

As fate would have it, in the very next at-bat after Machado shuffled his way down to first and was thrown out by two steps on a ball hit well in back of third, Adam Jones busted his ass down to first base on an infield single to shortstop.

That's the difference between a guy who treats every at-bat with professionalism and one who wants $40 million a year but doesn't know how to earn it.

I'm sure Jones would love to say something to Machado about his pedestrian effort on the 4th inning ground out and another in the bottom of the 8th when he lumbered down to first with no real intention of getting there quickly, but the 24-year old would just say the same thing he says every time someone tries to "talk baseball" with him: "I got it handled manito."

Back to the actual game, the O's hung tough with Cleveland and Kevin Gausman delivered one of his best performances of the season, but still wound up the loser when he coughed up three runs in the fifth inning. For the night, Gausman allowed just six hits and struck out nine, although he did walk two Indians along the way.

The O's had a chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the 7th when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Andrew Miller came in and got Joey Rickard (pinch hitting) to ground out and then struck out Caleb Joseph and Ruben Tejada (pinch hitting) to keep the Birds scoreless.

I was at the ballpark (my son got a ball from Indians pitcher Nick Goody -- a nice guy he is), so perhaps I missed the information that a TV broadcast would generate, but why not send Welington Castillo to the plate to hit for Joseph in the 7th? Maybe his career numbers against Miller aren't all that good? That's OK. He's a better hitter than Joseph.

Failing to score there ended the night for the Birds, although they did spoil Cleveland's shutout in the 9th when Jonathan Schoop doubled in Trey Mancini to finalize the scoring at 5-1.

Speaking of Schoop and Mancini -- they bust their butt on every play. Those two kids can play on my team any day.

Machado? I'm not so sure anymore.

"the best 34 minutes of the week" returns

The latest #DMD podcast can be found below, as I welcome in Vic Biscoe of Primary Residential Mortgage for a half-hour (plus) chat about the Orioles, U.S. Open golf and a whole lot more.

Vic has played a gazillion rounds at Mount Pleasant, so I asked him to chime in on the current debate we're having about what the scoring would be at Mount Pleasant if the U.S. Open were ever held there.

There's a lot of good stuff --- so listen in, please.

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wisdom’s final round 57 caps off historic u.s. open triumph at mount pleasant

(Baltimore, MD) -- Parker Wisdom of Bloomington, Illinois is fond of golf courses called Mount Pleasant.

The 25-year old captured his first career major title on Sunday with a scorching final round of 57 at Mount Pleasant in Baltimore, Maryland, firing a 4-day total of 33-under par to win the U.S. Open by one shot over Brett Munson and Beau Hossler, who was looking to capture his second straight major after winning the Masters in a playoff in April.

Wisdom was 15 years old back in 2017 when he captured an AJGA event at a course called Mount Pleasant in suburban Wisconsin.

”Must be my lucky place,” said Wisdom after two putting for birdie at 18 on Sunday. “Honestly, when I first heard the U.S. Open was going to Mount Pleasant, I thought it was the course in Wisconsin where I won as a junior. I didn’t realize it was the course in Baltimore until I qualified in the sectionals and they congratulated me and said, “You’re on your way to Charm City! Pack a Kevlar vest for the trip.”

Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson finished in 4th place at 31-under par. He led Wisdom by six shots heading into Sunday’s drama-filled final round.

Mount Pleasant Park Golf Club
Baltimore, Maryland
Place Player Total R1 R2 R3 R4 Strokes
1 Parker Wisdom -33 63 65 66 57 251
T2 Brett Munson -32 64 59 65 66 252
T2 Beau Hossler -32 58 66 66 62 252
4 Bubba Watson -31 63 63 62 65 253
5 Anthony Hog -29 67 65 65 58 255

”Shooting 65 at this popcorn course…I deserve to lose,” a disheartened Watson said afterwards. “I drove four of the par 4’s but only made two birdies. That was the difference in the tournament right there. And some kid darted out from the woods on number five and grabbed my ball. That was kind of unsettling, to be honest with you. I didn’t get penalized, but it still rattled me a bit.”

Sunday’s final round 57 from Wisdom wasn’t even the lowest round of the week at the 6700 yard layout that stretches through a neighborhood in North Baltimore and is pinched in between an ice rink and a parkway. 44-year old Dustin Johnson, seeking his second U.S. Open to go with three Masters titles, shot an opening round 55 on Thursday before falling behind on Friday and Saturday when he posted rounds of 66-67. Johnson drove five of Mount Pleasant’s par-4 holes in his 16-under round of 55 and made four eagles and two birdies on the outward nine.

Wisdom started his final round by hitting driver, 7-iron to the par-5 first hole, which measured 560 yards after tournament officials moved the first tee back to area adjacent to the practice putting green.

”That eagle got me started on the right track,” Wisdom said of the 12-foot putt he rolled in at #1. “I knew Bubba would be tough to beat today. I thought I might have to shoot 58 to win. Turns out 57 was the number I had to post to win by one.”

Wisdom then drove the 379 yard 2nd hole and narrowly missed a second straight eagle, tapping in for birdie to move into sole possession of 2nd place.

Watson, meanwhile, only managed a birdie at one and a par at the second hole. His 5-iron off the tee at #2 came up short in the front right bunker and he blasted out to 15-feet before missing his birdie attempt.

The third hole proved pivotal, as both Wisdom and Hossler drove the green. Wisdom’s eight foot eagle putt found the bottom of the cup while Hossler’s 35-footer for two slid past by six feet and the former University of Texas All-American missed the comeback attempt to settle for par.

Beau Hossler hugs his caddie on the 18th green after his eagle-2 at the finishing hole momentarily tied him for the lead. Moments later, though, Parker Wisdom made birdie at the final hole to win the U.S. Open at Mount Pleasant in Baltimore.

”That was a bad mistake on my part,” Hossler said afterwards. “I drove that green three of the four days and didn’t make eagle once. You have to take advantage of those short holes.”

Wisdom made par at 4 and 5, then birdied the 6th to take a two-shot lead. He drove the 391 yard par-4 7th hole when he blew his drive over the trees that line the right side of the hole.

”I saw the big scoreboard there and knew Bubba made par at 4 and 5 and thought this was my chance to take the tournament from him,” Wisdom commented. “That putt on seven was a scary one, but I rolled it in for eagle and I was off to the races at that point.”

He then drove the par-4 8th hole from 367 yards away but uncharacteristically three-putted from the back of the green.

”Club selection error there,” the champion said. “I went with the 3-iron off the tee to take those front bunkers out of play but 4-iron there would have been plenty long enough.”

After another par at 9, Wisdom made the turn at 8-under par for the day and owned a 3-shot edge on Hossler, Munson and Watson.

The onslaught continued at the par-5 tenth, where Wisdom hit 3-wood, sand wedge to 10-feet and made the putt to move to -10 in the final round.

”I mean, every hole there is short, but that one is particularly easy to navigate if you can get it all the way down to the bottom of the hill, which I was able to with my 3-wood off the tee,” Wisdom explained. “On Friday, I hit driver there, but I got it on the upslope. Even though I only had 144 to the hole, the second shot was pretty difficult. So today, I laid back with a 3-wood and had 152 in a flat area and could get sand wedge back there easily.”

But Hossler got back in the tournament with successive eagles at #12 and #13, driving both greens and rolling in lengthy putts to pull within one shot of the lead.

”I knew he wasn’t going to go away quietly,” Wisdom said of Hossler. “We played together in the 3rd round of the Masters this year and I know he’s a great player.”

Both players hit sand wedge into the 455 yard par-4 14th hole, but Wisdom was able to convert from 12-feet for birdie while Hossler missed a four-footer and settled for par.

”A gunshot or a car backfiring went off in my down stroke there,” Hossler remarked. “I couldn’t tell which it was, but it definitely shook me up me for a few minutes.”

With Watson making an improbable bogey (his first of the week) at #13 and Munson starting the back nine par-par-par, it became a two-man battle between Wisdom and Hossler.

Wisdom’s drive at #15 cleared the stream that borders the front of the hole, and he calmly chipped to three feet for a kick-in birdie to get to 12-under for the day. Hossler missed a 10-footer for birdie on the same hole.

At the 387 yard par-4 16th, Wisdom drove the ball to the front edge of the green and two-putted for birdie. Moments earlier, Munson, who birdied 14 and 15, holed out from the greenside bunker for eagle to pull within two shots of the lead. He would later make eagle-2 at the par-4 18th to finish at 32-under par.

Hossler stuffed his tee shot at 17 to three feet and made the putt. Wisdom hit a flare to the right off the tee that landed in amateur alley, his first missed green of the tournament, but was able to knock his second shot close for a tap-in par.

At the par-4 18th, Wisdom drove the green for the third consecutive day but was left with 50 feet for eagle. Hossler’s drive – with a 3-wood – nestled twelve feet below the hole.

Wisdom’s eagle putt came up four feet short and when Hossler poured in his eagle putt to finish at -32, it was up to Wisdom to make his four footer for the win. He calmly stepped in and knocked the putt home for the title.

”I knew where I stood,” Wisdom said. “I was very aware of the fact that I needed to make that putt to win.”

Baltimore native Anthony Hog survived a 2-stroke penalty in the final round to finish 5th in the U.S. Open at Mount Pleasant.

The players were enthusiastic in their support of Mount Pleasant, which was hosting its second USGA championship. The course was also the site of the 1939 U.S. Amateur Public Links championship.

”It’s a little short,” said Hossler after the event. “But it’s tricky. You’ve got the ice rink over there, kids running around, cars backfiring. We even had a twosome show up on Saturday saying they had reserved a time a month ago via some online tee-time system and they insisted they be allowed to play. There was a lot going on out there, but it was a fun test.”

Baltimore native Anthony Hog finished 5th, but started his final round with a two-shot penalty after getting into a confrontation with the tournament’s first tee announcer over the pronounciation of his last name.

”Three straight days they announced it right – it’s Hog, like ‘home’. Not Hog like a pig,” Hog said. “After he announced it wrong, I went into the trailer to complain to the USGA officials and when I came out, the group was already down the fairway and they docked me two shots. That’s big money I lost right there.”

Hog still managed to shoot 58 in the final round with the two-shot penalty included. He played the 17th and 18th holes with his hat on backwards in “rally cap” form, but it was too little to late at that point. On the day, Hog made two eagles and 11 birdies, with the lone blemish on his card coming at the first hole when he was penalized en-route to a double-bogey seven.

The 2026 U.S. Open will be played at Erin Hills, which hosted the 2017 championship that was won by Brooks Koepka. The yardage next June at Erin Hills is likely to tip out at 8,700 yards, or roughly 2,000 yards longer than Mount Pleasant played this week.

”We won’t be driving four or five par 4’s every day at that place, we all know that,” said Wisdom as he held the winner’s trophy. “But this place here in Baltimore will always hold a special place in my heart. I won the U.S. Open, shot 33 under par and only missed one green in 72 holes. I doubt I’ll ever play better than this, anywhere.”

And that, friends of #DMD, is what would happen if they held the U.S. Open at Mount Pleasant now, or in the future. I note in the comments section below where my buddy George McDowell -- sipping on some fine private stock down in North Carolina -- asks "if the modern player would tear up Mount Pleasant, how come the modern player hasn't torn it up?" That's an easy question to answer: The "modern" player hasn't come to Mount Pleasant and played in a golf tournament since the late 1950's. In the 1950's, 6700 yards was a fair test for the greats of the game. In 2017 (and 2025), 6700 yards at a municipal "park" like Mount Pleasant would get blistered. If 20 TOUR players showed up there tomorrow for an exhibition of some sort, at least one of them -- if not more -- would shoot in the 50's. That is, as long as we're not penalizing them for their ball disappearing in the 15th fairway. Oh, and by the way, there really IS a kid named Parker Wisdom from Bloomington, Illinois and he really DID win an AJGA event at a place called Mount Pleasant in Wisconsin back in April of this year. Watch out for him in 2025.

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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.

Tonight is the NBA Draft. I used to love the NBA Draft.

The guys whom I watched play in college for three or four years were sorted and sifted by the experts and compared against those particularly special players who had to come out earlier. For every Chris Webber, there was a Grant Hill. For every Allen Iverson, there was a Steve Nash.

Then came Kevin Garnett in 1995, ushering in the era of players being drafted directly out of high school. That lasted about 10 years, and also brought us Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. There was also Kwame Brown, the first high school player to be drafted No. 1 overall.

Drafting is an inexact science, I guess.

Villanova standout Josh Hart will be a rare breed tonight at the NBA Draft, as he'll be one of the rare "4-year" college players selected.

And now we have the NBA age-limit rule, which in turn has led to the “one-and-done” college basketball culture best exemplified by Kentucky and John Calipari, though it would be wrong to stop simply with him.

There’s a possibility, based on some mock drafts, that the first 10 players chosen tonight will have the same exact background: one season of college basketball. The presumed top pick, Markelle Fultz, didn’t even play in the NCAA tournament in his one season, just like last year’s No. 1, Ben Simmons.

I barely know them.

Through this entire time, of course, the international element of the draft has been in play. Some years it’s been more prevalent than others, but it’ll never go away. We still have a lot of the best players in the world here in the States, but we don’t have all of them.

And hopefully some of them will be easier to spell and pronounce than Giannis Antetokounmpo.

I don’t love the NBA Draft anymore. But that’s more about me, I think. The drafts in the 1980s and early 1990s were fun, but so were the days when teams took a few chances on high school players. And now, we have a little bit of a happy medium if you are an NBA enthusiast.

If you’re a fan of a big-time college team, it’s not necessarily happy, unless you win the NCAA title that year.

Times may change, but the point never changes. If a team is going to pick someone, is he the right guy? With the potential for injury, or accident, or some other kind of bad luck, even the most obvious choice might not work out.

I remember the NBA Draft on June 17, 1986. I watched because of Len Bias, who died two days later. In that draft, 17 of the first 20 players chosen were seniors who had completed their college eligibility, as was Bias.

The three who were not seniors? Chris Washburn, who played a total of 72 games in the NBA; William Bedford, who averaged four points per game and never played in more than 60 games in six NBA seasons; and John “Hot Plate” Williams, who had five serviceable seasons in Washington before being suspended by the team in 1991 because he was too fat to play.

Did this become a cautionary tale about drafting immature young players? Obviously not.

Plus, 1986 wasn’t the best year when it came to seniors either. Guys like Brad Daugherty and Johnny Dawkins were good players, but injuries shortened their careers. Ron Harper and John Salley had long careers as role players, not stars. The best college player besides Bias in 1986 was Walter Berry from St. John’s, drafted No. 14, and he was playing in Europe by 1989.

By 1996, the draft had changed considerably; high schoolers, European players and college freshmen and sophomores were the norm, not a novelty. Bryant and Jermaine O’Neal were drafted 13th and 17th respectively; in retrospect, they should have been taken in the top five. Peja Stojakovic, a Serbian, averaged 17 points per game in a 13-year NBA career. From the college ranks, Big East rivals Allen Iverson and Ray Allen were drafted in the top five, and each lived up to those choices.

Some experts say the 1996 draft was the second-best all-time, behind only the 1984 draft featuring Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, all Hall of Famers. Yet I’m sure that some dismissed it at the time, considering the “unproven” talents of so many of the draft choices.

Now, 21 years later, the draft is essentially a party for 19-year-olds, like the spring rush over at Kappa Sigma. Like it is with frat pledges, it’s not obvious who will make the best pick. Zach Collins was the backup center at Gonzaga last season; he averaged 17 minutes per game and played most of his games against teams like Pepperdine and Portland. He could be taken in the Top 10, and he could be really good.

De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are the latest one-and-dones from Kentucky. Fox shot only 25% from the college three-point arc in his one season, while Monk scored 47 points in a game against North Carolina. Fox seems like more of a reach, but he might be taken ahead of Monk.

A 6-10 forward named Jonathan Isaac played at Florida State for one year; I don’t think I ever saw him play. Lonzo Ball played for one of the nation’s most famous programs at UCLA; thanks to his father, I don’t think there’s been a day in the last few months that I haven’t heard his name.

The NBA age limit and its effect on the college game is a hotly-debated topic, one for another time. If you’re interested in getting the Kentucky/Calipari version of it, the ESPN 30-for-30 entitled “One and Not Done” is a great watch.

The draft, however, is about the players, all of whom have wanted to play in the NBA since they were small children. They didn’t luck into their current situation, being fawned over by GMs and evaluated for flaws by scouts. They worked hard to even deserve consideration for the draft, and they should be celebrated, no matter how young they are or how few games they played in college.

Still, it’s interesting to look back at the old fashioned way. The first four-year college player drafted tonight will probably be Josh Hart, the native of Silver Spring who played at Villanova. According to Ken Pomeroy, he was the “best” player in college basketball last season, at least from an efficiency standpoint.

He should be celebrated too. There is more than one way to become an NBA player, just like there’s more than one kind of draft that can provide fodder and excitement for years to come.

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woods leads phelps after day one of "ultimate winners" final voting

In golf terms, Tiger Woods has a narrow 2-shot lead over Michael Phelps as the two contestants reach the 10th tee.

Anything can still happen.

Woods (53%) has a slight edge over Phelps (47%) after day one voting in our "Ultimate Winners" final. You are still encouraged to vote below and help us determine the winner.

This match-up between Woods and Phelps pits two players with incredibly similar stories.

Woods was a child golfing prodigy who was destined for greatness once he reached his early teen years and won an unprecedented three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs and three consecutive U.S. Amateurs before turning professional in 1996 at age 20.

Phelps grew up in Baltimore and started drawing national attention as a potential Olympic hopeful at age 12, then went on to swim in three Olympic games, earning 23 gold medals and 28 overall.

But their similarities don't stop there.

Both were robbed of traditional childhood opportunities because of their dedication to their respective sports and each -- on different personal paths -- would wind up making national news and hitting the cover of tabloid websites and magazines while at the height of their competitive careers.

Woods was exposed in an infidelity scandal that ended his marriage and cost him roughly $500 million, then went through a series of medical issues that culmininated in his arrest on DUI charges in late May of 2017. He's currently undergoing treatment for an apparent addiction to pain medication.

Phelps was twice arrested for DUI, including once at age 19, and was also caught on camera with a bong in his hand while at a college party in 2009.

Personal hiccups aside, the two have also been winning for about as long as they've been competing.

In his prime, no one could come close to beating Woods. And in his prime, no one could rival Phelps.

And there's "winning" and then there's "winning when it matters most". Both Woods and Phelps were able to win when the spotlight was brightest. Woods captured 14 major golf championships before age 33 and seemed destined to shred Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors until infidelity and injuries shattered his quest.

Phelps was the best swimmer in the world at not one, not two, but three Olympic games, winning five gold medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Is one of them, though, a better "winner" than the other? That's why we'e vote on that very question.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Tiger Woods' career information here.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

 Drew's Morning Dish

June 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 21
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it comes down to tiger vs. phelps in our "ultimate winners" challenge

Well, #DMD readers deserve a lot of credit.

They got it right.

The original field of 16 in our "Ultimate Winners" challenge is now down to just two athletes, and we're left with what should be a rock-'em-sock-'em soccer Final with #1 seed Tiger Woods taking on #3 seed Michael Phelps.

Voting will be conducted today and tomorrow here at #DMD.

Phelps beat #15 seed Roger Federer in their semifinal match-up, 56%-44%, to earn his meeting with Woods, who eliminated Tom Brady in the other semifinal.

It's worth noting, I suppose, that three of the four semifinalists were "individual" athletes, with Brady winning the de facto title as the best "winner" of any team-oriented athlete.

This match-up between Woods and Phelps pits two players with incredibly similar stories.

Woods was a child golfing prodigy who was destined for greatness once he reached his early teen years and won an unprecedented three consecutive U.S. Junior Amateurs and three consecutive U.S. Amateurs before turning professional in 1996 at age 20.

Phelps grew up in Baltimore and started drawing national attention as a potential Olympic hopeful at age 12, then went on to swim in three Olympic games, earning 23 gold medals and 28 overall.

But their similarities don't stop there.

Both were robbed of traditional childhood opportunities because of their dedication to their respective sports and each -- on different personal paths -- would wind up making national news and hitting the cover of tabloid websites and magazines while at the height of their competitive careers.

Woods was exposed in an infidelity scandal that ended his marriage and cost him roughly $500 million, then went through a series of medical issues that culmininated in his arrest on DUI charges in late May of 2017. He's currently undergoing treatment for an apparent addiction to pain medication.

Phelps was twice arrested for DUI, including once at age 19, and was also caught on camera with a bong in his hand while at a college party in 2009.

Personal hiccups aside, the two have also been winning for about as long as they've been competing.

In his prime, no one could come close to beating Woods. And in his prime, no one could rival Phelps.

And there's "winning" and then there's "winning when it matters most". Both Woods and Phelps were able to win when the spotlight was brightest. Woods captured 14 major golf championships before age 33 and seemed destined to shred Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors until infidelity and injuries shattered his quest.

Phelps was the best swimmer in the world at not one, not two, but three Olympic games, winning five gold medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Is one of them, though, a better "winner" than the other? That's why we'e vote on that very question.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Tiger Woods' career information here.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

 Drew's Morning Dish

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machado leads o's past tribe, back to .500

Manny Machado's bat heated up last night at Camden Yards and the result was a rare win for the Orioles, who scratched their way back to .500 on the season (35-35) with a 6-5 victory over the Indians.

Machado went 4-for-4 on the night, with two home runs, 4 RBI and a clutch 7th inning double that eventually brought him home with the game-winning run on an Adam Jones hit.

Chris Tillman allowed 11 base runners in four innings of work last night but the Orioles came back from 5-2 down to win, 6-5.

The Birds did manage to continue their streak of allowing at least five runs, though, and have now done so in 17 consecutive games, just three shy of tying the major league record held by the 1924 Philadelphia Phillies.

Cleveland led 5-2 before the Birds got even in the 5th on Machado's long home run to left-center field.

Chris Tillman got the start for the Orioles and was ineffective (again), allowing five earned runs in four innings of work before being lifted by Buck Showalter. Tillman has now failed to finish the fifth inning in four of his nine starts in 2017 and has thrown just six innings or more on two occasions this season.

Fortunately for the Birds, five relief pitchers teamed up to shut down the Indians after Tillman departed, with Miguel Castro doing the best work when he got out of a bases-loaded-one-out jam in the top of the 7th inning.

Brad Brach earned the save in the 9th, but the Indians had runners on 1st and 3rd with two outs before Yan Gomes flew out to deep right field to end the game.

Machado drew the ire of O's broadcaster Jim Palmer in the 7th inning when his blast to right field clanged off the top of the wall and the third baseman was only able to get to second base.

"And there's Manny, again, not running out of the box," Palmer said. "He should be on third base. But he gets caught watching the ball instead of running and that's what happens. You're at second instead of third."

It became a moot point on the first pitch to Jones, who lined a ball just inside the right right line for a double of his own, as Machado easily scored from second for the eventual game winning run.

With the Yankees (38-30) losing their 7th in a row, the Birds are again just 4.5 games out of first place. However, they're still in fourth place in the East, with Boston (40-31) now in first, followed by New York and then Tampa Bay (38-36). Toronto (34-36) occupies last place in the division, 5.5 games behind the Red Sox.

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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 got a big boost last week when free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin confirmed that we was coming to Baltimore for the 2017 season.

Just after losing Dennis Pitta to injuries for good, and with a big fat question mark behind Mike Wallace on the depth chart, adding another playmaker took on even more importance for the team, but a great sales pitch from Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh sealed the deal and plugged one of the most glaring holes on the roster.

Maclin himself confirmed the role that Ravens' senior management played in his choice. “I thought Baltimore was the right spot," Maclin to NBC Sports, " I’ve always had respect for the organization, even though I’ve never played here. Just the way they did things, the way they went about things. And Harbaugh, I heard all the good stories about Harbs when I got to Philly. He was a very respected guy in that locker room. You just kind of put everything together and like I said, it was just always Baltimore.”

After missing the playoffs in three out of four years since winning Super Bowl 47, the common theme about the team for at least the past two years is mostly "when will Harbaugh and/or Ozzie be fired?"

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome vowed to improve the team's defense and add a playmaker or two to the offense. It's only June, but they appear to have made good on those promises.

Every little move is critiqued, every decision put through a prism to find an argument that upper management is in on the hot seat. Sometimes this gets taken to downright comical levels. Remember how Steve Bisciotti forced Harbaugh to hire Gary Kubiak and, one 8-8 season removed from a Super Bowl title, was planning to fire Harbaugh and replace him with Kubiak at the first opportunity?

And a few months ago the new spin was that Harbaugh is being "allowed" to keep Marty Mornhinweg, an offensive coordinator with a strong track record of success in Philly and who is reportedly very well liked by the team's quarterback, with the understanding that he'll be fired if it doesn't "work."

But this constant search for better options obscures a pretty important fact: The Ravens still have one of the most well respected organizations in the league specifically because people in the industry hold Ozzie and Harbaugh in very high regard.

And that matters.

It matters when when they're competing with a team with more cap space for the same free agent. It matters when the battered remnant of an injury wrecked roster led by a castoff backup quarterback is still playing hard each and every game at the end of a lost 2015 season. Those things aren't a given in the NFL, and the Ravens are lucky to be in the position they are.

It's also worth pointing out that their recent "struggles" are overblown.

Every team in the league that drafts a franchise quarterback has to face the same problems when that quarterback's rookie contract expires, and the Ravens arguably had some unique challenges to address. The 2012 team that won the title was one with an aging cast that needed to be significantly overhauled, especially on defense.

The Ray Rice fiasco put them in a really difficult cap situation (though admittedly it was stupid to give a running back that contract in the first place but I digress). Multiple high draft picks like Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams have had to deal with significant injury problems stunting their development track, as have key contributors like Jimmy Smith.

And despite all of that, the results are still pretty good. In a league that fetishizes parity, the rebuilding period Ravens have still only finished below .500 once AND won a playoff game in Pittsburgh during that stretch.

And now the rebuild just might be reaching its conclusion, because the Ravens have somewhat quietly put together the outline of what could be a very solid roster. They invested significantly in the secondary this offseason, dramatically overhauling the unit that's been their Achilles heel on defense for basically all of Harbaugh's tenure.

They didn't address the pass rush in quite as overt fashion, but all five of their 2nd and 3rd round picks in the past two seasons have been edge defenders, and 2017 picks Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, Chris Wormley all have legitimate potential to make a real impact this year.

The offensive line has question marks, but there's plenty of reason to be confident that their internal options at right tackle and center will perform well if no other additions are made. The biggest hole was at receiver, with Ozzie gambling that someone would be available to add at this point in the calendar. That gamble paid off when Maclin (and Eric Decker for that matter) was released.

You have to give them credit for moving so aggressively and sealing the deal with a free agent they needed. And you have listen to free agents like Maclin when they say the presence of guys like Harbaugh and Ozzie is a big part of why they want to choose Baltimore over other teams to play for.

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fowler wins u.s. open at municipal course in baltimore

Baltimore, Maryland, USA — Special Report — The New York Times
[for national and overseas release]
June 22, 2025

Rickie Fowler overtook three players on the back nine to win the 2025 United States Open Championship at historic Mount Pleasant Park Golf Club in Baltimore. Fowler, 40, tagged with the dreaded title of “Best Player Never to Have Won a Major” for several years prior to 2020 before being surpassed and forfeiting that title to any of a score of incredibly talented new players, finally broke through to capture his first major crown. His victory came in spectacular style. The last contender on the course and down one stroke on the 72nd hole, Fowler drove the 435-yard 18th hole and sank his 20-foot eagle putt to claim outright victory with a nine-under-par score of score of 255.

Rickie Fowler eyes his drive on the par-three second hole of Mount Pleasant Park in the final round of the 2025 United States Open.

Dustin Johnson, an eight-time major winner with four U.S. Open titles to his credit, finished one shot back at 256. Ten-time major winner Justin Thomas tied rookie Nigerian sensation Mbiki Mbukuku for third place with a score of 257 on the par-66 course.

Fowler, the richest individual in the world since overtaking Sheikh Khalifa Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa and Bill Gates on the 2022 Forbes list of The World's Billionaires, appeared more relieved than pleased with his victory.

Fowler was asked in a post-round interview what this win meant to him.

"Only everything," he answered. "I was sick and tired of being mocked and disrespected by mopes with two or three majors who don't have two billion dollars to rub together. Hopefully now they will come to their senses and show some respect and envy."

The drive on Mount Pleasant Park's 18th hole that earned Fowler his victory only added to the controversy over the USGA's decision to permit holes on which tee shots travel directly over ground that forms part of another hole. When Mount Pleasant Park was awarded this year's Open Championship in 2018, the award was contingent on a re-design of the 18th hole that would add 71 yards to its then 364-yard length. The new 18th-hole tee box was built south of the 16th hole's fairway and rough, backing up to Lydonlea Way, requiring a drive directly over that fairway. A tunnel built under the 16th fairway allows golfers and caddies safely to traverse it after tee shots are struck.

The re-design allowed the hole to play to a maximum length of 435 yards. That Rickie Fowler was able to drive the hole serves to illustrate his resolve. Fowler ranks 107th in driving distance on the PGA Tour this year, averaging only 382.6 yards per drive. This is fully 35 yards less than John Daly II's Tour-leading average of 417.9 yards per drive. Fowler has been much criticized for sticking with his titanium-faced driver when almost every other player on Tour has switched to precursor-reactive technology for what used to be called, rather quaintly, "wood" clubs.

The decision to allow holes that cross over one another closely followed another of the USGA's series of controversial decisions – that to outlaw assigning a par to a hole greater than four. Noting the high percentage of players who reached the nearly 700-yard par fives at Erin Hills with two shots in 2017, and that the average score on the par-fives at the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2018 was 3.92, the organization felt it had no choice except to concede that modern technology could – in every instance – outpace the ability of golf courses to increase their length in response to it.

The 17th hole at Mt. Pleasant, recently elongated to 317 yards. Most players in the U. S. Open will hit three- or four-irons to the hole, but longer hitters will require only five-irons to reach the surface.

President Trump [serving his third term as president because the Supreme Court had ruled that even though he hadn't been an official candidate in the 2024 election, the will of the people as expressed by the 76.4% of the popular vote he received as a write-in candidate carried greater weight than the Constitutional provision limiting a president to two terms] had proposed legislation requiring that residential or commercial property that stood in the way of golf-course expansion be taken instantly without trial by eminent domain. This legislation carried the House but failed in the Senate by one vote. Thus the golf-course versus golf-equipment war was ended, with the inevitable and unconditional surrender by the courses.

Every golf course in the world [except Merion Golf Club] began to make concessions to the staggering lengths that ball-, shaft-, and clubface-technology was enabling players to achieve. [Merion's spokesperson remarked that, even though it was only 6,996 yards long, it had had exactly three golfers finish below par in five U.S. Opens played on it.] Some courses resorted to trickery, mimicking Erin Hills' planting of fescue within seven yards of the fairways and growing it to over two feet in length. Others re-worked their greens so that other than perfect approach shots rolled off the greens into collection areas.

Mount Pleasant Park split the difference between Merion's insouciance and the trickery employed by other classic courses. It reduced par on its two par-fives, #1 and #10, to par four. Holes number two, eight, and thirteen were converted to par-threes. The course thus became the first golf course in history to have one, two, and three par-threes on its layout that were dogleg par-threes. The course, a municipal course normally set up for eight-minute tee times for amateur foursomes, cut its greens to a Stimp of 12.5 for the U. S. Open, which meant that even the best putters in the world would probably three-putt if their approaches ended up above the holes.

Fowler was only partially fazed by the changes to the course, changes that would become the norm for Open courses in future. Resigned to his transition over a relatively short time from one of the longer hitters on Tour to one of the shorter, Rickie was required to bring serious strategy into his game to remain competitive.

"This is almost like what I hear golf used to be in the old days," Rickie said at the party he hosted for course personnel and volunteers after his victory. "I had fun playing the course. I feel like I've been part of something that's real, and not the artificial 'he's making history' crap we hear every other week from the talking heads on TV and online. Where else on the Tour can you ask for a soda at the snack bar after the front nine and the woman behind the counter tells you to wait your turn, and that you ought to get a haircut while you're waiting?"

This contribution was provided by #DMD right-hand-man George McDowell, who remains convinced that the best players in the world of golf wouldn't tear Mount Pleasant apart if the jewel of Baltimore's public golf courses ever held a U.S. Open. Tomorrow, Drew gives his side of the argument.

June 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 20
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at some point, duquette has to take heat for this fiasco

The Orioles set an American League record last night at Camden Yards.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a good one.

The Orioles became the first team in A.L. history to allow five or more runs in 16 consecutive games when they surrendered to the Indians, 12-0, last night. In case you care, the major league record is 20 straight games. I'd say the Birds are a good bet to set the mark this Saturday in St. Petersburg when they face the Tampa Bay Rays.

Last night's blowout was another in a recent string of smashings that exposed the Orioles pitching staff. If you weren't convinced the Birds had mound issues when they lost in New York 16-3 or 14-3, or if Friday night's 11-2 thrashing in Baltimore at the hands of a pretty bad St. Louis team didn't do the trick...then perhaps last night's ass kicking by the Indians sealed the deal for you.

This Orioles team is in big, big trouble.

Forget the weak offensive night from the O's on Monday. Corey Kluber of the Indians is one of the A.L.'s top pitchers and he was magnificent, striking out 12 and going the distance to improve to 6-2 on the year.

Yes, you're not going to win any games generating three hits. That's true. But last night was, again, about Baltimore pitching stinking up the joint.

The TV cameras catch up with Buck Showalter every inning now, his face tight, eyes flickering from side to side and his hands in his pockets. Showalter is outraged by this collapse, I'm certain of that, but he's also smart enough to know he's involved in a street fight and his buddies brought out a bunch of pillows for him to use.

When you're trotting Vidal Nuno and Gabriel Ynoa out there, you're not going to win. And Showalter knows that.

So when are we going to hear from the guy who gives Showalter those pillows?

Where is Dan Duquette and what does he think of this mess?

After all, he supplied the pitchers who haven't been able to get anyone out since May 10 when this losing skid started with a 7-6 loss at Washington. The Birds have gone 12-25 in the aftermath of that walk-off loss to the Nationals. And they've allowed 100 runs in their last 11 games.

Did you see that note above? They've allowed 100 runs in their last 11 games. Duquette has to answer some questions about the team's off-season decision making and how it came to pass that the Orioles went from 22-10 to 34-35 while setting an American League record for pitching futility.

At this point, though, the answers probably won't matter. It's not like anything Duquette says is going to repair the damage already done or the mess we're going to see over the last three months of the season before this whole thing mercifully ends on October 1st with the O's collecting -- perhaps -- 90 losses along the way in 2017.

I understand that injuries have played a role and Duquette can't necessarily be held responsible for them. I get it. But the farm system and the team's 40-man roster are his primary responsbility and in that area, the team is woefully understocked.

Showalter had a ragged month of May managing the club, yes. But Duquette's 2017 performance has been far worse than anything Nuno, Yboa or Ubaldo Jimenez, even, have done on the field.

At some point, the finger has to get pointed at the general manager. Maybe he's under the gun internally by owner Peter Angelos and we don't see it. His relationship with Showalter, rocky before the season started, has weakened even more over the last couple of months when the manager sees guys like Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright and Jimmy Yacobonis come up from Norfolk and try to get major league hitters out.

But Showalter doesn't hire and fire the general manager. It's up to Angelos to question Duquette on the roster development and put him on the spot for answers on how this is all going to get better between now and the end of October.

13,875 people jammed their way into Camden Yards last night. Sure, the late afternoon storms that blew through Baltimore might have kept some folks from attending, but if the team continues to lose 7 out of 10 games for the next three weeks, the ballpark will be a ghost town come mid-July. And that's what Angelos cares about more than anything: attendance.

Showalter cares about winning and Duquette hasn't helped him do that this season. The O's have won more games than any team in the American League since 2012 -- albeit without a World Series trip to show for it -- but the door has apparently shut on them now and it's looking like it's time to start rebuilding.

Who's going to do the rebuilding for the Orioles?

Can Duquette be trusted?

It's time to start asking that question and coming up with the answer.

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memories of mount pleasant

All of this talk in the comments section the last few days about Mount Pleasant Golf Course has triggered lots of fond memories for me.

I don’t get there much anymore, but the rounds of golf I played there from 1993 through 2006 or still indelibly etched in my mind.

I’m going to take a few days over the next week or so to revisit those days at “The Mount” and our resident Mount Pleasant historian, George McDowell, will chime in with his thoughts tomorrow here at #DMD.

George and I have an on-going debate about the difficulty of Mount Pleasant and what sort of scoring would occur there if the U.S. Open made its way there at some point in the future.

The challenging 17th hole at Mount Pleasant, with the clubhouse in the background.

I’ll save my blow-by-blow recap of what I think would happen for later this week, but safe to say George and I have completely different opinions on this subject.

What we don’t differ on, though, is the special place that Mount Pleasant was and continues to be.

At one point in the late 1950’s, they played a PGA Tour event at Mount Pleasant. A real, in-living-color professional golf tournament. Arnold Palmer played there. And won.

Back in the late 1950’s, the course was routed differently and, for those times, its length (6500 yards) was a challenge for even the best players in the country. Today, it’s essentially a pitch-and-putt course, even from the back tees, for high-ranking amateur players or professionals.

But don’t think for one minute that Mount Pleasant hasn’t been challenging over the years. Once the site of the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play Championship, the 36-hole cut was routinely around 14 over par for two days of play. They don’t hold the tournament there anymore, but when it was played, 120 amateurs from all over the state would show up to compete.

And more times than not, 90% of the field would go home wondering how a little course in the middle of Baltimore could torment them like it did.

Whenever someone asks me where I learned how to golf, I always say “Mount Pleasant”, even though my first keep-your-score rounds were played at the two Fort Meade Courses in the mid 1980’s and I later spent some time hanging around Rolling Road Golf Club, where Bill Bassler Sr. gave me my first “official” lesson on a scorching hot July day in 1987 (“It’s a hand’s game…always remember that.”).

I discovered how to play golf at Mount Pleasant. It wasn’t always in the greatest shape and the rounds occasionally touched on the 5-hour mark, but my friends were there and the golf was ultra-competitive and I always figured if you could shoot par at Mount Pleasant, you could do it anywhere else.

In the early 1990's, a weekend tee-time at Mount Pleasant was so popular and so hard to get that we would get to the course at 4:30 am just to get in line for one of the coveted "walk on" slots that would occasionally become available if someone showed up with less than four people in their group. I can vividly remember getting there just before 5 am and seeing a dozen names on the walk on list, grabbing a coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and either heading back home or driving three miles to Clifton Park to try our luck there.

I worked there part-time in the late 1990’s, mostly to avoid having to pay green fees, truth be told. I didn’t need the paltry sum they paid the part-timers, but I took it nonetheless. I just wanted to be around the place, and if they paid me for it, the joke was on them, I reasoned.

Looking for some weekly competitive golf, I created what was affectionately called "The Knucklehead Tour" at Mount Pleasant in 2000 or so. We'd play every Tuesday at 3 pm from May through September and typically at least sixteen players would show up to play -- at scratch -- with $5 bets and bragging rights on the line until we gathered again the next week to do it all over again.

I remember making a birdie putt at the 18th hole for 68 and striding off the green to collect my winnings, only to find out I finished in 3rd place that day. It's a tough league when you shoot 3-under and you have to pay out.

But that was Mount Pleasant. There were lots and lots of really good players who toured that piece of property.

I met one of my best friends there, Greg Ruark, and forged a lifelong relationship with him that included competing against and with him in some memorable tournaments.

Mount Pleasant is also where I met George McDowell, a story and a friendship I’ve previously documented here.

I met a lot of other interesting characters there. The place was filled with them.

Even the USGA knew Mount Pleasant was special way back in 1939 when they contested the U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament at the course on Hillen Road.

Ned Beatty routinely played at Mount Pleasant in the mid 1990’s when he was in town filming the show “Homicide”. I somehow got nominated to play in Beatty’s group once, but the round got rained out on the 4th hole when a thunderstorm came barreling through the course.

Because the group from the TV show didn't get to play much, they were particularly disappointed that the storm ruined their afternoon.

”I never understand why we quit during a thunderstorm,” one of the guys in the group bemoaned as we drove in. “How many people do you know in your life who have been struck by lightning?”

I wanted to say, “I don’t know any…because they all go inside when there’s lightning around.” But I just kept driving towards the clubhouse as the rain pelted us.

Baseball players showed up there on occasion as well. I remember Andy Pettitte once teed it up in the early morning with another member of the Yankees. I was working in the pro shop when he came in. When I asked him for $18.50 for the greens fee and cart, you would have thought I had asked for $180 instead.

It took him longer to peel out a $20 bill than it took for him to walk from the shop to the first tee.

”First time we’ve been charged to play golf,” I heard him mutter to his teammate as they walked out.

As I was leaving my shift around noon, I grabbed a cart and drove out to catch a glimpse of Pettite. He was on the 16th tee when I showed up.

”Everything going OK?” I asked, as if I cared.

”You guys should pay me 18 bucks for playing this place,” he said.

It warmed my heart a little when the Orioles cracked him wide open for eight runs the next night at Camden Yards.

In reality, little did Pettitte know, paying 18 dollars to play Mount Pleasant circa 1998 was one of the best deals in the country. While other places were charging $40, $50 and $60 to take advantage of the newly-created Tiger Woods golf-boom, Mount Pleasant hung in there as long as they could with green fees and such costing the consumer around twenty bucks.

That always attracted me to the Mount. It truly was the public player’s course.

With that, though, came some less than desirable competitors teeing it up there in search of a quick buck.

I remember once getting myself involved in a game with two other players, one of whom was a friend of mine and one that was a very well known amateur in the DC area who made the trip to Mount Pleasant on a summer afternoon.

”I don’t get interested until there’s 50 a side on the line,” the hotshot announced as we discussed the match on the tee.

”Let’s make it 100 a side,” my buddy countered. “I get real interested then.”

”You and I will do 50’s then,” the visitor said to me. “Keep it friendly…”

As we drove down the first fairway, my buddy said to me, “You have one job today. You keep your f***ing eye on him everywhere he goes. If he’s in the rough, you watch him like a hawk. If he goes in the woods to take a leak, you’re right behind him.”

Fifty dollars a side or a hundred dollars a side in 2017 is a lot of money. That much money at stake in 1996 or so constituted a “big game”. It was worth keeping your eye on your playing competitor at that point.

It seemed particularly unfair that I not only had to focus on my own golf game and my own potential $150 loss, but now I was being charged with keeping an eye on the competitor (which, granted, helped me as well) who was trying to take our money.

The hotshot flared his second shot down the right side of the first fairway and his ball bounded into the band of trees that are clumped a hundred yards away from the green.

”Keep your eye on him the whole time. I’ll look for his ball,” said my buddy.

We spent a few minutes in there, looking in the trees, but couldn’t find the ball.

I momentarily lost my focus on the task at hand – “keep your eye on him the whole time” – and looked for the ball myself. Within about five seconds of me turning my attention away from the hotshot, he cried out, “Got it!! Right here!”

My eyes shot over to my buddy, who was staring a hole through me that you could drive a golf through.

”I told you…keep your eyes on him the whole damn time,” he said, a dejected tone in his voice.

With a clear shot to the green from the forward portion of the trees, the visitor ran his ball up to about 15 feet and made an opening birdie.

”That might be a $100 lost ball he just found because we took our eyes off of him,” my friend claimed.

It dawned on me at that point that I probably didn’t want to play a fifty-dollar-nassau against a guy who likely cheated on the first hole, but I was in the game by then and couldn’t turn back.

I don’t remember much about the events of the day except the hotshot had a 5-foot birdie putt on 17.

Just as he was taking the putter back, my buddy, down on the back with a press on the line, “accidentally” dropped his golf ball out of his hand. The thud distracted the hotshot just enough that his putt wiggled off line and past the hole.

I figured a fight was coming up. Instead, nothing was said.

”Dude, you dropped your ball while he was putting,” I said to my friend as we drove to the 18th tee.

“Makes up for what he did to us at number one in the trees,” he replied.

It was at that point that I realized these two were playing a round of golf that I hadn’t before experienced.

But that was Mount Pleasant. Everyone was welcome, all kinds showed up and if you hung around there long enough, you wound up leaving with a story.

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phelps leads federer with one day left for voting

The champion swimmer? Or the champion tennis player?

Michael Phelps or Roger Federer? Who was the best "winner" of the two?

Phelps has a 57%-43% lead over Federer after day one of semifinal voting in our "Ultimate Winners" contest. If Phelps holds on to win, he'll face Tiger Woods in the Finals, which start tomorrow here at #DMD.

Roger Federer is the equivalent of two sets down to Michael Phelps after day one of "Ultimate Winners" voting. Can he come back and win today?

If you haven't yet voted on the Phelps-Federer semifinal match-up, please do so today.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

You can find Roger Federer's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

 Drew's Morning Dish

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June 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 19
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pitta in the ring of honor? that's a "no"

I like Peter Schmuck, the longtime sports writer at the Baltimore Sun.

If for no other reason than he's the only guy left at the paper who covered the Orioles during their effortless decade of losing, I've always admired him.

But over the weekend, Schmuck teased Baltimore sports fans with one of the more blatantly backwards things he's ever written.

He (loosely) started campaigning for the Ravens to induct Dennis Pitta into the team's Ring of Honor.

Dennis Pitta's Ravens career included a Super Bowl ring, but lack of a Pro Bowl selection might keep him out of the team's Ring of Honor.

"Pitta deserves a proper sendoff, so the next time anyone should want to see him on the field is when the Ravens induct him into the team's Ring of Honor," Schmuck wrote on Saturday.

I like Dennis Pitta. Always have. Found him to be a pleasure to cover when I was on the air in town and have encountered him away from the field on several occasions and always enjoyed interacting with him.

But he's NOT a Ravens Ring of Honor candidate.

Or, at least, he shouldn't be.

The Ravens have never really divulged their criteria for selecting Ring of Honor members, but a while back a club official told me their first "unwritten rule" is that anyone in the Ring of Honor must have made a Pro Bowl while playing in Baltimore. And "making" the Pro Bowl means being selected to play, not being selected as a substitute after four other guys dropped out.

Every Ravens player in the Ring of Honor has made at least one Pro Bowl, in case you were wondering. Yes, even Matt Stover.

There are a couple of other stipulations the Ravens follow as well, but the most sensible one is definitely the Pro Bowl rule. That's the starter kit, if you will.

Before we go on, please don't bring up Earnest Byner's name in any discussion about the Ring of Honor. Yes, he's in there. No, he shouldn't be. We all know how that happened. Art Modell loved the guy and wanted a link between the Browns and the Ravens and Byner was it, basically.

So don't be a doofus and say, "Well, if Earnest Byner is in there, Dennis Pitta should be in there."

No, it doesn't work that way.

Pitta doesn't belong in the team's Ring of Honor because he wasn't a great player. He was a good player, yes, and was an important part of the team that won the Super Bowl in 2013, but he was not a GREAT tight end.

Nice guy? You bet. Outstanding company man? Indeed he was. But a Ring of Honor player, he's not.

Sorry Mr. Schmuck.

Derrick Mason hasn't made it into the "Ring" yet, either, and probably won't. He had a BETTER Ravens career than did Pitta, but he also never made a Pro Bowl in purple. That's an easy way out for the Ravens, and one they'd be right to take if Mason's name got pushed in their direction.

Brian Billick will likely be going in this year, although the Ravens might be hesitant to put a former coach in while the current coach -- who replaced him -- is still on the sidelines. One way or the other, though, Billick will go in someday, I'm sure.

Chris McAlister is also a potential Ring of Honor candidate but he made a mess of things when he departed and those sort of things don't sit well with the powers-that-be in Owings Mills.

In my opinion, the Ring of Honor is already somewhat watered down with the likes of Michael McCrary and Todd Heap in there. Both were very good players, yes. I'm not saying they don't belong in there. I'm simply saying you could make a reasonable argument that perhaps they don't belong.

You can make the same (easy) argument about Pitta. His 7-year career was a solid one, but not "honor worthy".

Players who make the Ring of Honor had to be the best of the best and, I'd argue, one of the top players at their position for a period of at least five years. Pitta doesn't fit that criteria.

There are a handful of current players who will no doubt be in the team's Ring of Honor someday. Terrell Suggs, Marshal Yanda and Joe Flacco are no-doubt-about-it qualifiers. Those three are in. So, too, is John Harbaugh.

I'm also guessing Haloti Ngata will go in someday as well, but he's not quite the slam dunk that Suggs, Yanda and Flacco are.

There's been a groundswell of support for Jarrett Johnson to go in, but he's essentially a defensive version of Dennis Pitta. Lots of great memories, big contributions, but no Pro Bowl appearances.

If Johnson isn't worthy (and he isn't) then neither is Pitta.

The last time the Ravens inducted someone was when Ed Reed went in back in 2015.

I can only assume the club isn't going two straight seasons without inducting anyone. They have a corporate sponsor attached to the Ring of Honor, so that's always a consideration anytime you're thinking "should we? or shouldn't we?".

My guess is Billick goes in this year.

There's also a slight chance the Ravens could push Matt Birk through and cite his winning of the Walter Payton Man-of-the-Year award -- while with the Ravens in 2011 -- as a fair substitute for not having made a Pro Bowl while in Baltimore. Birk did make six Pro Bowls -- but all of them came when he played for the Vikings.

I don't think the Ravens will ever go against-the-grain and induct someone who didn't make a Pro Bowl while they played in Baltimore. Doing so would open the doors for the Johnson's, Pitta's, Mason's, etc. But if they ever WERE going to put someone in without the Pro Bowl connection, Birk might be that guy.

If they can just get through these lean couple of years, there will be four or five guys waiting in the wings for induction over the next decade.

And if the Ravens ever loosen the criteria and allow for good players who had great moments to grace the facade of the stadium, the likes of Dennis Pitta and Derrick Mason might just make the Ring of Honor after all.

For now, there's no shame in their names not being up there.

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koepka bombs his way to u.s. open victory

There's an old saying in golf, "You drive for show and putt for dough."

It's meant to show the difference between players who hit it a long way (and don't cash in) and players who make a bunch of putts (and rake in the money).

In the case of Brooks Koepka at the U.S. Open, he did both. He drove it a long way AND made the putts. And he won the golf tournament going away.

Starting Sunday's final round one shot behind the leader, Brooks Koekpa posted a 67 to finish at 16-under and win the U.S. Open on Sunday at Erin Hills.

Koepka's 16-under score was particularly sublime when you take into consideration he missed one green in regulation in Sunday's final round and hit 62 of 72 greens over four days at Erin Hills.

Hitting 62 of 72 greens at a regular PGA Tour event would be noteworthy. Doing it at the U.S. Open is almost unheard of.

The 27-year old from West Palm Beach, Florida is part of the new guard of American golf. He hits 350 yard drives, 175 yard 9-irons, and chips and putts like a guy who has eight major titles under his belt. He's similar in style to Dustin Johnson, the winner of the U.S. Open last year. In short, he's a remarkable athlete who became a champion golfer.

And this won't be the only time you hear Brooks Koepka's name. Lucas Glover or Ben Curtis -- he's not.

Sunday's final round was more what the USGA expected play to look like eight years ago when they awarded the 2017 U.S. Open to Erin Hills. 20 mph winds made nearly all of the holes two clubs shorter or longer than in Saturday's round, and a bunch of the downwind holes were of the "take your par and run" variety because you couldn't get the ball to stop close to the hole.

Not that the governing body of golf can ever control the weather, but if the conditions for Sunday's final round were also there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, four under par would have been the winning score.

Everyone feasted on the course the first three days, prompting longtime NBC golf analyst to dub the event "The Greater Milwaukee Open" after he was asked to respond to the round of 63 authored by Justin Thomas during Saturday's third round.

That's true. It looked more like a mid-season TOUR event than the national golfing championship when guys were putting up 63's, 64's and 65's with alarming regularity. But Sunday's weather and the pressure of the final round brought things a little closer to normal.

Except Koepka didn't get the memo.

He drove the ball courageously all day, although he admitted after the round the players were generally surprised last Monday when they showed up and saw how expansive the fairway landing areas were for a tournament that typically narrows the fairway width considerably.

"I'm not saying they set it up to play easy intentionally," Koepka said last night while meeting with the media. "But the first few days, all you had to do was aim and pound it out there and it went forever. In today's round, I just kept the same philosophy on the tee. Get a good aiming spot and go after it."

It didn't work that way for some of the game's best players, however. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all went home early, failing to make the 36-hole cut. Justin Rose and Adam Scott were also Friday departures.

"I hate to say it," said Rose after his round on Friday. "But this turned out nothing like a lot of us expected. We thought it was going to play really hard. We figured based on all the chatter that over par might win the event. Turns out something in double digits is probably going to win."

Rose was right. 16-under par was the winning score. No one saw that coming, except for guys like Koepka, Thomas and Rickie Fowler, who hit a gazillion prodigious drives in the four days. Thomas hit a 300-yard 3-wood to eight feet at the last hole on Saturday, while Fowler reached the 675 yard par-5 18th hole with a 3-iron on Sunday afternoon.

Much discussion ensued about the golf course over the weekend. Here's the deal: Its yardage (7600) was particularly deceiving, given that nearly every non-par-3-hole had some sort of mounding or sloping that kicked balls forward by as much as 40-50 yards if the drive off the tee was far enough to reach those areas. And many times, they were. Yes, it's a long golf course, but 7600 flat yards would be much more difficult to navigate than the 7600 yards the players dealt with this weekend at Erin Hills.

When players are reaching par 5 holes measuring 675 yards in two shots, you know the routing of the course has something to do with that. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I'm simply saying the 7600 yards the players faced wasn't nearly as daunting as it figured to be.

And the rain on Wednesday, in combination with little to no wind until Sunday, made getting the ball close to the hole much easier than was previously anticipated. Give a TOUR player eight birdie putts from within 15 feet and he's making three or four of them.

The course -- aided by the conditions -- just couldn't corral the best players in the world. They were too strong, too precise and too good to be defeated. And in the end, no one, including Erin Hills, could beat Brooks Koepka.

U.S. Open Player Grades --

Brooks Koepka (A) -- Never looked out of his element once on Sunday. Always in control. His back-nine putting display was spectacular.

Brian Harman (B+) -- Terrific tournament for the diminutive University of Georgia grad, but giving up 40+ yards off the tee to the likes of Koepka, Thomas and Fowler is too big of a hill to climb for him.

Hideki Matsuyama (B+) -- Scratched his way back into the tournament with a solid front nine on Sunday, but a couple of flared iron shots on the incoming nine combined with two costly missed putts left him "major-less" again.

Tommy Fleetwood (B) -- The moment might have been a bit too big for him, but he'll learn a lot from Sunday's experience. Don't be surprised if he's in the hunt at the British Open next month.

Bill Haas (B) -- There were only two players in the field with three rounds in the 60's at Erin Hills. One was was Brooks Koepka, the winner. The other was Bill Haas. Only an opening round 72 when scoring conditions were supreme kept him from possibly winning. He's one to watch at Quail Hollow in August (PGA Championship).

Justin Thomas (B-) -- No one's really talking about how poorly he played on Sunday, but Thomas was never in it from the opening tee shot. Everyone knew it would be hard to back up that Saturday 63 with something spectacular on Sunday, but he performed poorly in the final round, no two ways about it.

Rickie Fowler (B-) -- After opening the tournament with a 7-under par score of 65, he played the next 54 holes in just three under. Again, on Sunday, he was in position to win his first major and couldn't put together any kind of quality round. Clearly now he's wearing the "best player to not have a major" badge.

Charley Hoffman (B-) -- Was in the hunt at the Masters on Sunday and couldn't do it. In the hunt at the U.S. Open on Sunday and couldn't do it. Maybe he's just a check casher who can't close the deal?

Jordan Spieth (C-) -- More putting problems plagued the 2015 champion, particularly in the opening two rounds. If he doesn't win one of this season's final two majors -- or at least be in the hunt come Sunday afternoon -- questions will start to rise about whether or not 2015 was one of those "lightning in a bottle" campaigns that some players have from time to time.

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it's phelps vs. federer in today's "ultimate winners" semifinal battle

The champion swimmer? Or the champion tennis player?

Michael Phelps or Roger Federer? Who was the best "winner" of the two?

Phelps is likely finished with his career while Federer is in the November of his. It's safe to make an assessment of what they've won so far and assume they've probably reached their career threshold.

Both have been extraordinarily dominant in their respective sports.

The voting for the Phelps (#3 seed) vs. Federer (#15 seed) match-up will take place today and tomorrow. Tiger Woods, the #1 seed, is the finalist who will face the Phelps vs. Federer winner on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

You can find Roger Federer's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

 Drew's Morning Dish

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we now only have one team opening left for the "nashville cup" in november

If you're a golfer and you'd like to participate in a meaningful three-day golf event that concludes with a Ravens road game, #DMD offers the perfect opportunity.

Best of all, you get to bring a guest to play with you. It's #DMD's "Nashville Cup," taking place November 1 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This event is only open to 16 players – eight two-man teams. We have seven teams already in, with one opening available.

You and a golfing friend might be coming home from Nashville with this beautiful trophy if you can beat the field in a three-day event centered around the Ravens-Titans game in November.

We'll play three days of golf down there at a stay-and-play Nashville resort, with eight two-man teams competing in a match-play "member-guest" format. You'll need legitimate USGA handicaps for you and your partner, as this will be a net event.

Our itinerary is set: We depart on Wednesday evening, November 1st, from BWI. We'll play golf Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we have 16 tickets, all seated together, for the Ravens-Titans game at 12:00 noon (Central Time). Then we head back to Baltimore early Sunday evening after the Ravens beat up on Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Everything is included in the package: Airfare, four nights lodging at a cottage right on the property of the golf course where we'll be playing, ground transportation, golf fees, and the Ravens-Titans game ticket.

This is identical to the Ravens-Cardinals trip in Arizona that we put together a couple of years ago, and on which the 16 guys who went on the trip had a complete blast.

The price is $1,245 per player. Remember, you must sign-up as a two-man team, as this competition over three days will be team-based, not individually scored. A $445 per-person deposit will reserve your space, with the remainder due before September 15, 2017.

#DMD will cover the whole thing from Nashville as well, so you'll be putting your golfing prowess out there for everyone to see!

If you and your playing partner are interested in playing in our "Nashville Cup," please e-mail me directly:

June 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 18
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those guys are too good and
the course is just too easy

There was a time when finishing 54 holes at the U.S. Open with an under-par score was a monumental accomplishment.

If, somehow, you were good enough to be, say, four-under after three days of play, you were likely in the top five heading into Sunday’s final round.

Those days are long gone.

With three rounds in the books in the 2017 U.S. Open, guess how many players are under par? Take a guess.

If you said 42, you hit it right on the head.

Forty-two players are at one-under or better heading into Sunday’s final round.

Where, oh where, is the U.S. Open we all once knew and loved?

Justin Thomas shot 63 on Saturday. That was nine-under par for the day. And yet, he’s not leading the tournament.

Thomas isn’t leading because Brian Harman produced his second 67 in three days to finish at 12-under par and take a one-shot lead heading into Sunday’s closing 18 holes.

It’s far from a two-man race. Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka are right there with Thomas at 11-under par; Rickie Fowler is two back at -10; Si Woo Kim is at nine-under; and three players are eight-under par and still in the hunt.

How funny is that? Three guys are eight-under par in the U.S. Open after three rounds and there are six players ahead of them.

It’s actually not funny. It’s sad.

There was a day, circa 1995, when the U.S. Open was the greatest test in golf.

It drove even the best players completely batty. Firm fairways; shin-high rough; crusty, bumpy greens; and more bad breaks than good made the U.S. Open the ultimate test in patience and intestinal fortitude.

Imagine what Jon Rahm would have done in 1994 at the U.S. Open. He blew a gasket on several occasions in the first two rounds at Erin Hills – and the golf course was EASY. Lord only knows how he would have embarrassed himself two decades ago when the golf gods handed him a bad break.

Erin Hills was expected to be a tough test for this year’s field, but by the looks of the scoring we’ve seen thus far, everyone knew the answers before the professor handed out the exam.

Those guys are lighting up Erin Hills. Big time.

The biggest issue with today’s players and the set-up at Erin Hills is the accommodating width of the fairways. Twenty years ago, the fairway width at the U.S. Open would range from 21 to 28 yards.

This year, many fairways are 50 to 60 yards wide. That has turned the golf course into a pitch-and-putt facility, with plenty of guys hitting wedges and nine-irons for their second shots into 465-yard holes.

At the 18th on Saturday – a par-five measuring 667 yards – Justin Thomas hit a 367-yard drive and a 300-yard three-wood to eight feet. And then he made the putt for eagle.

Leading a major after three rounds for the first time in his career is former University of Georgia All-American Brian Harman.

There’s no real way to combat that kind of play, but tightening the fairways on every hole would have gone a long way in diminishing the scoring opportunities.

Maybe, though, this is what the USGA wants. Maybe they want guys to be 12-under and 11-under. Maybe they don’t mind seeing 63s, 64s, and 65s on the scoreboard, as if the tour had suddenly stopped at Mount Pleasant for a weekend event.

Today should be a memorable final round. No one in the top 16 has ever won a major championship, so unless Louis Oosthuizen somehow comes back from four-under par to win, we’re going to watch the coronation of a first-time major winner at Erin Hills.

I picked Justin Thomas to win the tournament last Wednesday here at #DMD so I’m certainly not changing now. But if Thomas doesn’t win, I still think this is Rickie Fowler’s tournament to lose. He has more “big game” experience than anyone inside the top 16 and has made some much-needed changes to his golf swing that should make it more reliable under the pressure of Sunday’s final round.

it might be time for rahm to take a seat

Jon Rahm is one of golf’s rising young stars.

He won earlier this year at Torrey Pines and has been a contender on several other occasions in this, his first full year on the PGA Tour.

He’s a wonderfully gifted player.

Jon Rahm attempts to send a subliminal message to spectators indicating that he thinks he has greater skill than the shot he just hit demonstrates that he has.

He’s also a horse’s ass.

In Friday’s second round, which fortunately was the last time we had to put up with Rahm’s idiotic shenanigans, he threw clubs, punched signs, kicked his golf bag, and acted like a nine-year-old who was just told he can’t have $2.00 for the ice cream truck.

If the USGA had any stones at all, they’d suspend Rahm from next year’s U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. That might teach him the ultimate lesson about behaving on the golf course in a national championship.

And no, this isn’t an outcry designed to remind everyone that “kids are watching,” even though they most certainly are.

It’s simply an effort to remind the young Spaniard and anyone else who plays the game that golf has a simple set of standards to follow. It’s one thing to slam a club now and again or curse a bit after a bad break. Every player has reacted angrily at some point in his or her career.

Rahm, though, went overboard on Thursday and Friday with his brooding, and the every-hole outbursts likely didn’t sit well with his playing partners. This wouldn’t be the first time in 2017 that his behavior caused some concern.

Terrific player? Yes.

But Jon Rahm might need a visit from the Cleat of Reality to get him back on track.

Watching next year’s event on TV might get him started on the right path.

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even the woeful o’s pitching staff
couldn’t blow a 9-1 lead

The Orioles allowed the Cardinals to score seven runs on Saturday afternoon at Camden Yards.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s eight times in the last ten games that the Birds have allowed six or more runs.

But they scored 15 runs themselves on Saturday, with five home runs and a seven-run outburst in the second inning all part of a 15-7 win over St. Louis.

And with the Yankees losing for the fifth straight game and the Blue Jays falling at home to the White Sox, the fourth- place Orioles are now only 5½ games behind New York.

Don’t worry, I’m not in any way of the mindset that the O’s are about to turn things around and go on some kind of three-week tear that gets them back in the hunt in the American League East.

They’re still in deep doo-doo.

But it was sure good to win one on Saturday afternoon and not have to sweat it out in the process.

That brief run of prosperity will likely end today when Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound to start the series finale vs. the Cardinals. Alec Asher, who pitched in relief yesterday, was scheduled to start today’s game but Buck Showalter instead opted for Jimenez.

Asher . . . Jimenez . . . it doesn’t really matter. Neither of them is any good.

So the O’s will go for a series win today and try to stay out of last place in the process. It might take eight runs to come out on top, but as long as they have one more run than the Cardinals at the end of the game, that’s all that matters.

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we now only have one team opening left for the "nashville cup" in november

If you're a golfer and you'd like to participate in a meaningful three-day golf event that concludes with a Ravens road game, #DMD offers the perfect opportunity.

Best of all, you get to bring a guest to play with you. It's #DMD's "Nashville Cup," taking place November 1 to 5 in Nashville, Tennessee.

This event is only open to 16 players – eight two-man teams. We have seven teams already in, with one opening available.

You and a golfing friend might be coming home from Nashville with this beautiful trophy if you can beat the field in a three-day event centered around the Ravens-Titans game in November.

We'll play three days of golf down there at a stay-and-play Nashville resort, with eight two-man teams competing in a match-play "member-guest" format. You'll need legitimate USGA handicaps for you and your partner, as this will be a net event.

Our itinerary is set: We depart on Wednesday evening, November 1st, from BWI. We'll play golf Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. On Sunday we have 16 tickets, all seated together, for the Ravens-Titans game at 12:00 noon (Central Time). Then we head back to Baltimore early Sunday evening after the Ravens beat up on Marcus Mariota and the Titans.

Everything is included in the package: Airfare, four nights lodging at a cottage right on the property of the golf course where we'll be playing, ground transportation, golf fees, and the Ravens-Titans game ticket.

This is identical to the Ravens-Cardinals trip in Arizona that we put together a couple of years ago, and on which the 16 guys who went on the trip had a complete blast.

The price is $1,245 per player. Remember, you must sign-up as a two-man team, as this competition over three days will be team-based, not individually scored. A $445 per-person deposit will reserve your space, with the remainder due before September 15, 2017.

#DMD will cover the whole thing from Nashville as well, so you'll be putting your golfing prowess out there for everyone to see!

If you and your playing partner are interested in playing in our "Nashville Cup," please e-mail me directly:

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June 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 17
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anything we say now is just piling on

When does Dylan Bundy make his next start?

That's seemingly about the only occasion we can honestly expect the Orioles to compete these days. "Bundy or Bust" should be the summer of 2017 marketing slogan.

Kevin Gausman allowed 12 base runners in 5.1 innings of work on Friday night and saw his ERA balloon to 6.60 in an 11-2 loss to the visiting Cardinals.

The O's bizarre freefall continued last night at Camden Yards, as the St. Louis Cardinals popped five home runs and battered Kevin Gausman, Gabriel Ynoa and Vidal Nuno in an 11-2 win. That's the fourth time in the last seven games that the Orioles have allowed the opposition to reach double digits in runs.

The Baltimore offense staggered around like Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright were at the helm, recording just five hits on the night and striking out 11 times, including eight K's against St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez.

And St. Louis isn't really all that good, mind you. They're 31-35 now. The Orioles are 32-34.

But the Birds were 22-10 at one point, remember. From 22-10 to 32-34. With no relief in sight.

Back to last night's fiasco for a second.

Ynoa and Nuno were brought up earlier in the day on Friday, the latest effort from Dan Duquette to stop the bleeding that has become Orioles pitching. Ynoa was terrible, allowing three home runs in 1.1 innings of work as the Cardinals erupted for six runs to blow open a somewhat-close game. Nuno also coughed up a 9th inning dinger for good measure.

It could get worse this afternoon (4:05 pm start) when Wade Miley takes the hill for the Birds. He hasn't made it to the fourth inning in either of his last two starts.

This swoon we're seeing from the Orioles rivals anything we saw from the club during the "Decade of Despair" when the team was a perennial doormat in the American League from 2001-2011. And it just might continue to be ugly, this ugly, for the unforseeable future. This really could be an epic collapse from the Orioles.

Their pitching is awful.

With the exception of Bundy, who has been decent just about all season, the Orioles have no one reliable to start games, and only one or two bullpen arms you can count on to get people out. And when you're losing 8-1 in the 7th inning, Brad Brach's not going to do you any good at that point.

Settle in, friends. Or "Buckle Up" as the O's like to say in their marketing endeavors. This ride is going to get rough.

it was a lost night for the a.l. east

If not for the Boston Red Sox, the A.L. East would have gone 0-fer on Friday night.

The Red Sox (38-29) nipped the Astros, 2-1, in Houston. Everyone else in the division lost.

The Yankees' bullpen squandered yet another late-game lead last night in Oakland, as the A's rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to come back from a 6-4 deficit and win 7-6 to hand New York their fourth straight loss, three of which have come by one run.

Aaron Judge hit his 23rd home run of the season for New York (38-27) in the loss.

Tampa Bay (35-35) got squashed by the Tigers in Detroit, 13-4.

And Toronto (32-34) saved the Orioles from sole possession of last place when they lost at home to the White Sox, 11-4.

Don't look now, but Boston is just one game behind New York.

And the Orioles remain 6.5 games in back of the Yankees -- and fading fast.

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fowler stays in the hunt at erin hills

Much like it was simply Sergio Garcia's time -- finally -- to capture a major championship back in April at the Masters, perhaps this is the occasion where Rickie Fowler finally wins his first major.

Thirty-six holes have been completed at the U.S. Open and Fowler is in the mix, his 6-under score for two days just one shot off the lead.

And no one ahead of him on the leaderboard has been as successful as Fowler.

Paul Casey sits at 7-under. He has one career win on the PGA Tour.

Bill Haas (-4) has missed just one fairway in two days at Erin Hills and leads the event in greens in regulation (30 of 36) through two days of play.

Brooks Koepka is also at 7-under. Good player, yes. Worth fearing? Hardly. He also has one win on TOUR.

Brian Harman has himself in a share of the lead at 7-under. He has two wins in his career, but even the short-hitting Harman admits he'll need some help from others around him playing poorly to conquer the 7,700 yard beast that is Erin Hills.

Tommy Fleetwood is the fourth and final player at 7-under. Tommy who? Right.

That's not to say that one of those four can't win the U.S. Open. The course's quirky nature alone is more likely to yield a first-time major winner (which was one of the reasons why I picked Justin Thomas (-2) to win this week).

But Fowler's pedigree and résumé say it's his turn to win.

After an opening round 65, Fowler took a predictable step back yesterday, but still hung tough with a one-over score of 73.

Five years ago, he would have probably gone 65-77 and been an afterthought by the back nine of Saturday's third round. That's not the way Rickie Fowler plays anymore.

Despite the loud colors he wears and the "Team Rickie" approach his marketing folks apply to just about everything he does, underneath it all is a guy who drives the ball straight, hits his irons well and putts with more than enough acumen to win just about any week he tees it up.

He's been criticized as a guy who can't close. Much like Garcia did in April, the only way to shut those critics down is by going out there and winning.

When I look at the leaderboard and the two-day statistical data from the first 36 holes, three names besides Fowler jump out at me.

Si Woo Kim (-5), winner of The Players last month, is comfortably in position through two days. As we saw at TPC Sawgrass, he's a guy who can grind out a bunch of pars and throw a birdie or two in there along the way, which is essentially what he did on Thursday (69) and Friday (70).

Hideki Matsuyama (-5) recovered from an opening round 74 to post 65 on Friday and move right back into contention. He hit 13 of 14 fairways on Friday and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, two critically important stats at the U.S. Open. If you can't hit the fairway, you probably can't hit the green. If you can't hit the green, you can't stay under par.

But the guy playing the best golf of those a few shots off the pace is definitely Bill Haas (-4), who leads the Open in fairways hit (27 of 28) and greens in regulation (30 of 36). If Haas can continue that sort of stellar play tee-to-green, he might wind up holding the trophy on Sunday evening.

If he does win, Haas will likely have to hold off Fowler in the process. Rickie looks ready to win, the same way Garcia looked ready in April.

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woods beats brady in our "ultimate winners" semifinal

It was close throughout, but Tiger Woods (55%) beat Tom Brady (45%) on Thursday-Friday to win the first of our two "Ultimate Winners" semifinal match-ups and move into next week's Final.

Woods reaches the final by beating Annika Sorenstam (#16 seed) and Jimmie Johnson (#9 seed) in addition to ousting Brady this week in the semifinal.

Next Monday and Tuesday, the other semifinal has #3 seed Michael Phelps going up against #15 seed Roger Federer.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

You can find Roger Federer's career information here.

Voting will begin Monday morning here at #DMD.

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June 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 16
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they've turned the u.s. open into the bob hope desert classic

It seems like the United States Golf Association just can't get it right.

Even when they're on the right track, like they were this year at Erin Hills Golf Course, the USGA somehow fouls it up in the end.

The U.S. Open is supposed to be hard. Throughout the 1980's and 1990's, it was always the one tournament you could count on every year to make par count for something special. I remember, like it was yesterday, watching Curtis Strange beat Nick Faldo in a playoff at Brookline CC in 1988, the winner scratching out a couple of nerve-wracking pars on the back nine to claim the first of his two U.S. Open titles.

That was then. This is now.

When the players started to complain about the height of the fescue grass at Erin Hills, the USGA caved in and brought out the mowers on Monday and Tuesday.

Granted, the players today are much more powerful than they were circa 1990, and it's almost silly to think that a golf course could be built to counteract the length of today's professional golfers, but the USGA was heading in the right direction with the set-up of Erin Hills, an 11-year old course in Wisconsin.

They grew two foot high fescue to border the fairways at Erin Hills, putting a premium on driving the golf ball straight. They stretched the course out to a whopping 7,700 yards and said, basically, "Come on boys, try and break par on this course now."

The greens were huge and undulating, the course was firm and fast, and the temptation of predicting an over par score for the winner was almost too great to ignore.

And then, the USGA caved in.

Players showed up at the course as early as last weekend to start their prep work for the event and immediately took to social media with photos of the fescue grass they encountered the first time the ball didn't land in the fairway.

Kevin Na, Lee Westwood and others were quick to share photos and complain -- although both said later in the week they weren't complaining -- about the extraordinarily high grass that was situated just off the fairway.

Keep in mind the USGA had already made the fairways wider than ever before. On some holes, they were 50 and 60 yards wide. Remember that 1988 U.S. Open at Brookline I mentioned? The average fairway width that year was 24 yards.

Instead of telling this year's players, "shut up and go play the course", the USGA narrowed the fescue grass by three or four yards on both sides of the holes. They took what was already a 50-yard wide fairway and made it into, in some places, a 60-yard wide fairway.

The players, predictably, ate it up.

A record number of players (44) shot under par on Thursday, as the U.S. Open became the Bob Hope Desert Classic.

Still without a major championship, Rickie Fowler blistered defenseless Erin Hills with an opening round 65 on Thursday.

Rickie Fowler posted a record tying 7-under par round to start things off, with two players at 6-under par and three more at 5-under par.

Yes, those guys are good, as the familiar ad campaign reminds us, but they're especially good when you don't make the course hard.

And with Wednesday rain softening the greens, it was fire-at-the-flag day from the start.

But the story isn't Fowler or the scoring.

It's that the USGA continues to worry about what people are going to think about them if, God forbid, the golf course winds up being the winner for four days.

This all started back in 2004 when Retief Goosen (-4) and Phil Mickelson (-1) were the only two players to break par at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island. The golf course was the clear winner over those four days. It played hard, firm and fast, with the USGA fielding lots of criticism from the contestants who deemed the place "out of control".

It was certainly close to that in 2004, as a scorching week of early summer sun and no rain left the greens almost unputtable by Sunday. But Goosen and Mickelson were both able to play 72 holes in under par, which seemed more than reasonable -- to me, at least -- for the national championship.

Two years later at Winged Foot, 5-over par won the tournament. And then everyone really started to howl.

So, now, we have the U.S. Open in title only. The good old days of making the course difficult? They're gone.

Every year now, we get the same thing. The USGA vowing to set up a course that will challenge the best players in the world, then tempering their enthusiasm come tournament week and caving in to Twitter photos, Instagram posts and so on.

I'm not one of those golfing sadists that enjoys seeing the best players in the world "suffer" on the course. There's no fun in that. But I also believe that once a year, at a minimum, the golf course should be set up as difficult as it can be without being stupid about it.

Thirty yard wide fairways? Perfect. If you can't hit those, you better be good out of the rough.

And speaking of rough, whatever happened to just growing long, sensible rough and penalizing players who can't keep their ball in the short grass? It doesn't have to be eight inches deep. Four inches or so is just fine.

Make the greens firm and fast and let's go.

If the winning score for four days is over par, so be it.

And when the players start whining about the scoring afterwards, you can always remind them that they can skip next year's national championship if they like.

I do believe nature is going to win out this weekend at Erin Hills and that something like five or six under par will wind up winning the event. It is the U.S. Open, after all, and the mere thought of winning the tournament will cause nearly everyone to back up on Saturday and Sunday.

Plus, after 44 players broke par on Thursday, I'm sure the USGA will gradually start to make things more difficult.

But the die has been cast at this point. That fescue they cut down on Monday and Tuesday of this week is gone and it's not growing back by Sunday. The fairway widths can't be changed, unfortunately.

It's a shame the USGA is so afraid of player outcry that they caved in this year and turned a challenging course into Clifton Park.

Hopefully in 2018 they'll revert back to those aforementioned good old days -- the ones where they set up the course, made it a difficult test, and then turned the players loose to try and conquer it.

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birds limp home tied for last place

From 22-10 to 32-33.

It took a little more than a month for the O's to go from having the best record in baseball to being tied for last place with the Toronto Blue Jays, but that's where the Birds sit after Thursday's 5-2 loss at Chicago.

Yesterday's loss to the White Sox ended a 1-7 road trip for the O's, for those still paying attention.

The good news for the Birds? The Yankees are struggling on the west coast, losing their third game in four tries last night in Oakland, 8-7 in ten innings.

Chris Tillman allowed five earned runs in 5.1 innings on Thursday in Chicago, but deemed his start "much better" and a "step in the right direction".

At this point, though, the Orioles should be worried about catching the third place Tampa Bay Rays.

Chris Tillman got the start on Thursday and was decent enough that folks around town called it his "best start of the year". I don't know about that. 12 base runners and five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work isn't "best start of the year stuff" to me, but Tillman did manage to give the O's beleaguered bullpen a little bit of rest, which is better than getting lit up in the first or second inning like most everyone else has done over the last ten days.

Make no mistake about it, though. This Orioles team is really suffering.

With Chris Davis already on the disabled list and Seth Smith apparently headed there with a back strain, the quality of the 25-man roster is being impacted on a nightly basis. Yes, yes, I know Davis is going to strike out twice a night, but he's still capable of doing something special and Smith has been one of the team's better hitters so far in 2017.

And the guy the O's brought up to replace Davis, David Washington, isn't going to be a help to the big league club. Pedro Alvarez will probably get the call-up if Smith goes on the DL, but we all know Alvarez is limited, too. That's why he's in the minors, after all.

What the Orioles really need right now is a string of well pitched games, starting with tonight when Kevin Gausman opposes the St. Louis Cardinals at Camden Yards.

With the Baltimore offense down a couple of men, it's incumbent upon the pitching to pick up the slack. The question, of course: Can they?

Oh, and here's something even more concerning: The schedule.

After these three games with St. Louis, the Birds host the defending A.L. champion Indians for four games, then visit Tampa Bay and Toronto for three games each.

If the Orioles can't go at least .500 in those 13 games, they'll likely be ten games behind the Yankees at the end of June. The season won't be over, yet, but the coffin maker will be getting the hammer and nails ready.

Buyers or sellers at the deadline? That's the question most everyone around town who cares about baseball is asking these days.

It's looking like sellers at this point.

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woods takes day one lead over brady in our "ultimate winners" semifinal

Day one scoring is in the books for the first of our two final four match-ups in our "Ultimate Winners" contest, and Tiger Woods (54%) has established a narrow lead over Tom Brady (46%) with one day of voting remaining.

Woods is the #1 seed in the event, while Brady is #5.

We allow two days of voting in the semifinals and final, so today will conclude voting for the Woods-Brady contest.

Next Monday and Tuesday, the other semifinal has #3 seed Michael Phelps going up against #15 seed Roger Federer.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Tiger Woods' career information here.

You can find Tom Brady's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

 Drew's Morning Dish

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Sunday, October 1st

WP: B. Bell (5-7)

LP: K. Gausman (11-12)

HR: Casali (1)

RECORD/PLACE: 75-87, 5th place

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NCAA hoops: No Pac-12 teams left after Arizona gets routed by Buffalo, 89-68.

NFL: Ravens void Ryan Grant's contract after failed physical.

Orioles: Gausman sharp in five innings of work as Birds (13-8) win seventh straight, 1-0, over St. Louis.

Tiger shoots 4-under 68 at Bay Hill, but trails first-round leader Stenson (-8) at Arnold Palmer Invitational.