Thursday
August 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 31
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ask the baseball fans in houston what they think of the indians logo


Here’s a Thursday edition of “This, That and The Other” for your reading enjoyment.

The Blast will announce at a press conference today that they are moving to the SECU Arena on the campus of Towson University for the 2017-2018 indoor soccer season.

The team played at the downtown “Civic Center” from 1980 through 2017. That’s a long run in the only legitimate indoor sports arena our city has had since 1963.

And now that run is over.

Owner Ed Hale will explain the team’s reason for moving to SECU Arena at today’s press conference, but it’s clearly a major gamble for the local indoor soccer franchise.

They’re going from a 12,000 seat building to one that will likely only hold about 3,500 or so for their games. And the playing field will be smaller now due to floor-size restrictions.

The good news? They should be able to sell-out every home game if the capacity at SECU is 3,500 for their games.

The bad news? The days of drawing 5,000 or 7,000 are over with for the Blast.

This story is particularly close to my heart because I worked for the Blast from 1981 to 1997. We once sold out the then-called Baltimore Arena fifty-six straight games in the mid 1980’s.

SECU Arena is an outstanding indoor venue, make no mistake about that.

But the Blast leaving the downtown arena just doesn’t seem right. I’m sure they’re doing what they feel is best for their organization, but it’s hard to come to terms with the move if you’ve been a fan of the indoor soccer franchise since 1980.

Major League Baseball is still pressuring the Cleveland Indians about their logo, which isn’t a surprise, but still silly nonetheless.

This is the kind of stuff that keeps baseball commissioner Rob Manfred up at night.

It all started last October when the Indians made the playoffs and commissioner Rob Manfred got on his high horse and started dropping hints that Major League Baseball was going to force the Indians to discontinue the use of their “Chief Wahoo” logo.

On Wednesday, owner Paul Dolan said he and Manfred “aren’t exactly aligned” about the team’s logo.

Good for Dolan. I hope he keeps on fighting the good fight, although I suspect he’ll give in at some point and modify or do away with the logo just so Manfred and the rest of the easily-offended-group can move on to being mad about something else.

Here’s what Dolan should say in response to Manfred or anyone else who doesn’t approve of the team’s logo: “Don’t buy our merchandise.”

That’s it. Simple enough, right?

If you’re offended by the Chief Wahoo logo on an Indians t-shirt, don’t buy the shirt.

If you’re offended by the Chief Wahoo logo on an Indians hat, don’t buy the hat.

I’m 54 years old. I can say, without question, that I’ve never purchased a hat or a shirt and worn said items without actually wanting to do it.

Oh, and please don’t tell me why I should be offended by the logo. You’re welcome to that opinion. And you’re welcome to not buy any Chief Wahoo merchandise. But don’t force your opinions on me and don’t tell me I’m wrong for not caring one way or the other what logo the Indians use.

That's the summary right there. I don't care what the Indians logo looks like. It has zero impact on me, in the same way I don't care what the Minnesota Wild's logo looks like or the Portland Trailblazers logo looks like.

Granted, it’s different for Manfred and MLB, because they profit from the Indians use of the Chief Wahoo logo.

They have to act outraged by the "racist nature" of the Chief Wahoo caricature but are still willing to collect any revenue derived from it.

Therein lies the rub, of course. While Manfred sings a sad tune about the logo, he most certainly doesn’t refuse MLB’s piece of the pie that comes with the red-faced Indians logo that he’s apparently so outraged by.

We all know how this will end. Manfred and Major League Baseball will get their way and Dolan will be forced to cave in.

How will the Indians eventually give up the fight and why?

Major League Baseball has awarded Cleveland the 2019 All-Star Game. You can see this one coming a mile away, can't you? Manfred will hold the All Star Game over Dolan's head, effectively creating a convenient trade of sorts: "You get rid of that Chief Wahoo logo that is causing so much tension and grief in our country (sarcasm) and we'll let you keep the All Star Game."

I'm going to do my part to show support for Dolan. I’m ordering a Chief Wahoo Indians t-shirt while I can still get my hands on one.

I can think of a bunch of things that offend me these days, but a team’s logo certainly isn’t one of them.

Dustin Johnson got himself involved in a controversy on the PGA Tour last weekend and all he did was hit a 341 yard drive on the first playoff hole of last Sunday’s FedEx Cup opener at Glen Oaks Golf Club in New York.

A number of TOUR players complained after the event that Johnson was afforded an unfair advantage on the designated playoff hole because he has the length to clear the lake that wraps around the bottom of the 18th hole at Glen Oaks, while his opponent in the playoff, Jordan Spieth, didn’t have the length off the tee to take on the same challenge.

For the record, Spieth didn’t complain. But a bunch of other players did.

”Such a shame to have the playoff decided on the worst hole on the course,” tweeted out constant-complainer Ian Poulter.

I guess if I’m sitting at home watching the playoff on TV instead of playing in it, I might call the 18th hole the “worst hole on the course” too.

Poulter and the rest of the guys who complained should be ashamed of themselves.

Suggesting that the playoff was “unfair” because Johnson hits the tee-ball 20-30 yards longer than Spieth is akin to complaining that a hole with bunkers around it helps the player who plays best out of the sand.

No one cared to mention that Johnson could have snap-hooked the ball into the lake on the first playoff hole and lost right then and there.

But when he piped a prodigious drive that left him only 88 yards to the hole, everyone was up in arms.

Phooey on Poulter and the rest of them.

And good for Johnson, who isn’t exactly known as the smartest guy on TOUR. That he was willing to take on the lake and clear it on what obviously was “pull off the shot or lose” was a moment that should have been applauded, not ridiculed.

And it’s equally disappointing that a few other players didn’t take on Poulter for his silly post-round assessment. They know the truth, of course. Johnson wins a lot because he can make good on those kind of risky shots.

Oh, and when Poulter wins a tournament that matters, maybe his opinions will hold a little more weight.

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schoop's 8th inning heroics lift birds over seattle


The guy we assumed would stink, did, and the player we figured would come through in the clutch, did as well. And it all added up to an 8-7 Orioles win on Wednesday afternoon as the Birds have now won seven straight games.

It didn't start off great. After taking a 2-0 lead, Ubaldo Jimenez imploded in the third inning as Seattle ran up a 6-2 lead. In fairness to Jimenez, a misplayed pop up by Tim Beckham led to two of those six runs, but Jimenez, predictably, was far from sharp.

He put the tying run on base in the 9th inning yesterday, but Zach Britton came through with his 13th save of the season in the O's 8-7 win over Seattle.

But the home run ball saved the O's bacon again, as Welington Castillo and Craig Gentry went deep in the 3rd to make it 6-5 and the O's eventually went ahead 7-6 before Brad Brach coughed up a gopher ball in the top of the 8th that tied the score at 7-7.

The beleaguered Seattle bullpen couldn't hold off the Birds in the 8th, though, and the Mariners actually had to intentionally walk scorching-hot Manny Machado just so they could face season-long scorcher, Jonathan Schoop.

Schoop then singled in the go-ahead run and Zach Britton closed the game with his 13th save of the season as the O's finished off the 3-game sweep of the Mariners.

How about this season being authored by Jonathan Schoop? He homered on Wednesday to reach the 30-mark and now has 99 RBI to go with his .306 batting average. He won't be a threat to win the MVP award in the American League, unfortunately, but he's producing a MVP-caliber-season, for sure. It's been quite impressive to watch.

And don't look now, but the Yankees (70-62) are suddenly within striking distance and the Birds will welcome the Bronx Bombers to town next week for a pivotal trio of games.

New York lost both games of a doubleheader to the Indians on Wednesday and now host the Red Sox for four games in what will likely determine whether or not New York can stay in the division title race. Who knows? By next Monday when they get to Baltimore, the Yankees might actually be fighting for a wild card spot.

Minnesota (69-63) and Los Angeles (69-65) are both ahead of the Orioles (68-65) still. The Twins host the White Sox for one more game today, then Kansas City visits Minnesota for a weekend series. The Angels are off today and then start a 3-game series in Texas on Friday.

The Birds now host Toronto in a 4-game series that starts tonight. The good news for the O's? Toronto's done. Losers of four straight and eight of their last ten, the Blue Jays (61-72) are out of the wild card race and can only play the spoiler role from this point forward.

The bad news? Toronto would love to spoil the Orioles season. While they might not care all that much about playing in Tampa Bay, for instance, they'll give the Orioles their best effort this week/weekend in Baltimore.

Marco Estrada gets the start tonight for the Jays, while Jeremy Hellickson goes for the O's.

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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.


three questions to ponder


1. When a golf course architect builds or adds a bunker at the edge of a dogleg 300 yards from the tee, what’s the idea behind it?

A. Go ahead and use it as an aiming point; you’ll never get there.

B. You hit it pretty far; maybe lay up and you’ll still have a short shot coming in.

C. Pick a spot 20 yards over the bunker and aim directly there, like Dustin Johnson did on Sunday on the 18th hole at the Glen Oaks Club on Long Island.

Those Protracers on golf telecasts are pretty neat. That was especially the case when Johnson and Jordan Spieth replayed the 18th hole on Sunday, about 10 minutes after they had just played it.

Spieth made a more confident swing off the tee than he had in regulation. It had a little draw on it this time, and probably went about 30 yards longer than his previous drive. Then Johnson hit the most amazing drive I’ve ever seen. He aimed 30 yards to the left of where he did 15 minutes earlier and hit what had to be the straightest shot he’s ever hit, as if the lake to the left and the bunker weren’t even there.

In the post-round interview, Johnson said that the wind switched between the two drives, allowing him to be more aggressive the second time. I was in the Northeast U.S. on Sunday also; I wasn’t aware a five mile-per-hour breeze made that much of a difference. Knowing Johnson, I’m betting he just walked up to the tee the second time and said “f*** it.” Good for him.

2. Four Orioles position players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. With that in mind, who is the most talented position player in team history?

A. Frank Robinson. Only six years with the O’s, but they were great.

B. Eddie Murray. One of five players all-time with 500 HRs and 3,000 hits.

C. Cal Ripken, Jr. Redefined the shortstop position, consecutive games streak or not.

D. Manny Machado.

I think the answer is D., and I’m not sure it’s even close. I’m sure there are those who’d say Frank, to which I have no response. I wasn’t born until 1973. So I’ll stick with Manny.

First off, Manny is the best fielder I’ve ever seen. And he’s not even playing the position he’s supposed to be playing. The one guy I didn’t mention up there, Brooks Robinson, is often regarded as the best defensive third baseman ever, but even Brooks thinks Machado is better than he was.

Second, it’s hard to judge a hitter by things he can’t control — how many runners are on base, the quality of the defense on the field, even the ballpark at which the game is being played. That can make a difference in a player’s stats, the old versions and the new ones.

With Manny, though, the thing you notice is how hard he hits the ball. We all know how Manny has turned his subpar season around since the All-Star break, but it was equally enlightening to see that during that time his average velocity on his outs was by far the highest in the league.

Playing for the Orioles has been both a boon and a hindrance to Manny’s early career, I think. The team’s swing-for-the-fences mentality has allowed him to show off his power without much of a leash. I actually think he’s a better all-around hitter than he’s even shown so far, something you’d notice if he wasn’t swinging so hard all the time.

3. The Astros and Rangers are playing in Florida this week after the Rangers refused to accept the Astros’ request to “switch” series, playing this week in Arlington and then in Houston in late September. What was the right call?

A. Playing in St. Petersburg is the easiest and least controversial thing.

B. Are you serious, Rangers? Doesn’t the Astros’ idea make the most sense?

C. Tough luck, Astros. It’s possible you might not even be able to play at home the rest of the season.

D. Does it even matter?

Inasmuch as sports is the toy section of the newspaper, and it will take months for Houston to return to any semblance of normalcy, the answer is D. But of the other three choices, I’m not sure what the right answer is.

From a competitive standpoint, playing at a neutral site is probably the best thing. If you can’t have a home game, then it’s probably best for it not to be a “road” game, whether you bat last or not. As American League teams, both clubs are used to playing under the dome at Tropicana Field every year. It’s also probably best for the game to be played outside Texas, far enough away for the players to be able to focus on the field.

As for B., Rangers’ general manager Jon Daniels is taking some heat for his decision, including from the Astros. Daniels says he did it for his fans, who might not be able to “switch” late September for this week, and for his players, who don’t want to play a fourth straight series on the road after a 10-day West Coast road trip in September.

In 2017, though, optics matter. And the optics look bad for Daniels and the Rangers. It’s certainly likely that baseball will be able to be played in Houston by September 25, and maybe it would be a nice thing to allow that to happen. And I’m sure that, just as the Astros would get the “gate” and be the home team for games this week in Arlington, the Rangers would be returned the favor for games at Minute Maid Park in a few weeks.

The business of baseball must go on, I guess, even if the business of life is changed for so many thousands in Houston. And I’m sure that it won’t be an easy decision in figuring out when exactly baseball should be played again in its beautiful downtown stadium.

My best answer is probably A., though I don’t play for the Astros. And here’s hoping things work out better for them than the last time they were forced to move home games, due to Hurricane Ike back in 2008. Playing the Cubs in Milwaukee, they were no-hit by Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano and then one-hit by Ted Lilly the next day.

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down to our last four seats on our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 4 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person



Wednesday
August 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 30
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about that flacco back injury and why it's none of our business


There are lots of times I've heard John Harbaugh snipe at the media for something they've said or written, or would like to say or write if he'd just answer the question in front of him.

I've heard Buck Showalter get testy, too.

It's part of the coaching mentality. Anyone asking you a question that somehow doesn't help your team win a game is pretty much not worth answering.

At least that's how they think, anyway. We, the customer, the fan, the paying public, don't have to agree with that philosophy, but that's the way coaches look at almost everything put in front of them on a daily basis.

John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco have been together since 2008, but the coach needs his quarterback more than ever now, with an important season right around the corner.

"Is answering this question going to somehow potentially help my team win its next game?" the coach asks himself. If the answer is "no", it's reasonable to simply consider not answering it.

Such is the current situation involving John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco. You know the story by now. Flacco hasn't practiced since training camp started due a back injury. And while he was has resumed light throwing and football-related activities, team doctors have not yet cleared him to return to practice.

The Ravens' first game is less than two weeks away and their starting quarterback hasn't take a snap or thrown a ball throughout the month of August.

So, the media -- and rightfully so, mind you -- are starting to wonder if Flacco is, in fact, going to be ready to play on September 10 in Cincinnati. It certainly seems logical to question whether Flacco can go almost an entire training camp without practicing, eventually get in a half-dozen or so practices, and be "fit" and ready to go in the opener.

Following last Saturday's pre-season win over Buffalo, Harbaugh got into a testy exchange with Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens beat writer for the Baltimore Sun, who asked the head coach about Flacco's availability on September 10.

When asked if the quarterback was ready to return to practice (tomorrow), Harbaugh replied: "I think I made it real clear, Jeff. I guess you can ask it again and again and again and again. I'm not going to stand up here and answer that question every single day. He will be back for the Bengals game, I promise you that."

He then asked Zrebiec, "Is that good enough? Do you really care when he's going to practice? Do you really care?"

"Yes," Zrebiec replied.

"You do?" Harbaugh said. "Do you really? OK. He'll be back for the Bengals game, and he'll be ready to play. I promise you that."

Zrebiec has the right to ask Harbaugh that question about Flacco's return for September 10. It's a fair question.

But Zrebiec also knows -- since he's been on the beat for the better part of five years now -- that Harbaugh gets agitated with injury-related questions. And he knows this because since day one of his beat coverage, Zrebiec has heard the coach say time and time again, "I'm not answering questions about injuries. There's an injury report that goes out with all of those details."

I personally heard Harbaugh say that a hundred times during my days of hanging out at Owings Mills and covering the team when I doing sports radio in town.

Sure, I asked Harbaugh an injury question or two in my day. And I routinely got the same answer. "I'm not answering that question, Drew." Eventually, I got smart and stopped asking.

And here's the deal. This one's a little tough to accept when you're on the outside and you're just trying to do your job, but there's no reason at all -- none whatsoever -- for the head football coach to tell the media if Joe Flacco is going to be healthy enough to play in the season opener, or any other game for that matter.

That's why I was surprised when I heard that Harbaugh had, in fact, "promised" that Flacco would be ready to play against the Bengals on September 10.

I wrote as much here at #DMD last Sunday morning. What possible good did it do for Harbaugh to tell the media that after the game last Saturday? None.

John would be smart to stick to his guns and never answer injury related questions.

Questions about various play calls as they relate to down and distance? Very fair to ask and Harbaugh should have to provide some disclosure on in-game strategical decisions as long as it doesn't give opposing teams information they might possibly be able to use in upcoming games.

Questions about challenges? Also fair to ask.

Questions about which players are going to be healthy enough to play this week, next week or anytime in the future? They're not unfair, per se. They're just silly. The coach has made it clear. He doesn't answer those.

As I detailed a few weeks back in an edition of #DMD, the only reason at all the NFL makes teams file mid-week injury reports during the season is to satisfy the oddsmakers and those who bet on the football games every Sunday. Withholding that kind of information would create an unfair playing field for those who might be "in the know" vs. those who have no access to inside information. If I know Tom Brady's out, I'm not betting on the Patriots. If you think he's playing, you're betting on the Patriots. Easy to understand.

But John Harbaugh doesn't give a flying-eff if you bet on the Ravens or not. His job -- winning football games -- has nothing at all to do with your goal of hitting a parlay or taking the Ravens plus the points in Pittsburgh.

I'm sure every coach in the NFL detests the fact that they have to file an injury report every Wednesday just so the gamblers can make more educated wagers on Sunday morning. I know I'd hate it.

I often wonder if the Boston media chides Bill Belichick week after week when he refuses to answer injury questions. I doubt they do. They might still ask, perhaps just to get Belichick's dander up, but they ask knowing in advance he's not going to answer a question about a player's availability for an upcoming game.

So why do members of the Baltimore media still ask Harbaugh injury questions?

Not only has he made it clear he won't answer them, but anyone with even a morsel of competitive sports in their DNA knows it doesn't help Harbaugh or the Ravens one iota if he discloses valuable health information about his players.

Sure, the fans would like to know. It's good for the water cooler discussion, fan forums and Twitter ramblings.

But letting the fans in on a critical team "secret", if you will, doesn't in any way help the team potentially win the next game.

Anyone with a brain will agree with that, I assume.

I'd even go as far as saying this: If you think the head football coach should have to reveal health or injury-related information to the media that could potentially affect his team's chances of winning, you're not very smart about the way sports work. Sorry if that hurts your feelings, but it's the truth.

There are lots of things to question Harbaugh about throughout the season. A press conference won't go by this year where he won't be "fairly" questioned about something that occurred during the just-completed game.

But asking the coach on August 22nd if the team's quarterback is going to be healthy enough to play in the regular season opener on September 10 is simply a waste of time.

He's not going to answer it.

And he shouldn't answer it, either.

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red hot o's blank mariners, 4-0


You can bet that Buck Showalter had the ear of Camden Yards head groundskeeper, Nicole Sherry, throughout the afternoon on Tuesday.

"Do everything you can in your power to keep this field ready," is what I imagine Showalter said to her, a five-game winning streak intact and a red-hot Orioles offense needing anything but a day off.

Dylan Bundy electrified a handful of damp, brave souls on Tuesday night with a complete-game one-hitter in a 4-0 shutout of the Mariners.

The umpires are the ones ultimately in control of field conditions, weather forecasts and whether or not games are played as scheduled, but Showalter wanted that one to be played last night, for sure.

And the Orioles continued their late August surge with a 4-0 win over the Mariners on Tuesday night, as the Birds moved to 67-65 on the year and kept pace with Minnesota and the L.A. Angels in the American League wild card race.

Four solo home runs and a one-hitter from Dylan Bundy turned out to be the story of the night, as Manny Machado went deep twice and Jonathan Schoop and Welington Castillo also homered.

The only hit of the night for the Mariners was a bunt single by Kyle Seager in the fourth inning. No other hits were recorded by Seattle.

Tim Beckham made a couple of throwing errors to put runners on base and Bundy walked walked two batters, but the outcome was never in doubt once the O's went up 2-0 on Machado's first homer of the game in the 6th inning.

Bundy is now 13-8 on the season and his ERA has dipped to 3.94 in 2017.

And the Birds are firmly alive and well in the wild card race, with a 3:05 pm series finale against the Mariners today at Camden Yards. The Toronto Blue Jays then come to town for a 4-game series that starts this Thursday. This will make or break the Blue Jays as it relates to their flickering and fading wild card hopes. Anything other than a 3-1 series win or sweep for Toronto and they can start making October golf reservations down at Pinehurst.

The Orioles can't afford to stumble now. After today's game with Seattle and the four-game series with the Blue Jays, the O's host the Yankees for three games next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Who knows...those two teams might be playing for the first wild card spot by this time next week.

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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.


There are two things we can say look to be certain about the 2017 Ravens. First of all, their defense is going to be really, REALLY good. Secondly, the offense is going to be bad, maybe even so bad that more than a few of us find ourselves longing for the good old Cam Cameron days.

Let's start with the offense, and let's start with the positives.

I'm much more bullish on the offensive line than everyone else in town seems to be, at least if Ryan Jensen is starting at center over Jeremy Zuttah and Ronnie Stanley is healthy. I understand why people think there are "question marks" on the unit, but I also don't think most fans really appreciate what a sorry state offensive line play is in around the entire league as a result in the shift towards spread offenses at the college level.

By way of comparison, a unit that has Stanley, Jensen, Marshal Yanda, and Austin Howard healthy looks like a top ten line to me, and Stanley and Howard should provide an above average air of pass blocking tackles. In terms of the skill positions, the Ravens will have speed to spare at wide receiver, whether or not Breshad Perriman returns from his latest malady.

As for offensive positives, that's pretty much it.

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is expected to anchor the interior of the line that figures to be tough to run against in 2017.

That receiving corp lacks a physical possession receiver to work the middle of the field consistently, and Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace are past their primes. Tight ends Ben Watson and Nick Boyle aren't exactly the best supplements in the league to that problem, and that group is thin on playmakers as well.

The running back group is....okay. There's ability there, but also nothing special, although I do think Danny Woodhead will have his moments if Marty Mornhinweg's offense looks similar to the one he called under Andy Reid in Philadelphia.

And then there's the quarterback position. Obviously everyone knows that the Ravens are essentially out of playoff contention altogether if Joe Flacco's back causes him to miss any kind of significant time, but I'm not convinced that there won't be a tremendous amount of damage done already even if Flacco does suit up for all 16 games.

Sitting out pre-season games is one thing for veterans, but missing weeks worth of practice time is another matter entirely. Flacco has already missed virtually all of training camp, and John Harbaugh is getting irrationally upset at reporters asking when Flacco is expected to get back on the practice field.

Aside from the missed reps with his offensive teammates, that means Flacco is missing time practicing with an offensive coordinator who, in some sense, is in his first season with the team. Yes Mornhinweg was the offensive coordinator for most of last year, but in an interim role that limited him to calling plays and making gameplans mostly within the framework of the offense Marc Trestman had already installed in camp.

This year Mornhinweg gets to build from the ground up, but his starting quarterback isn't getting any time in actually running through the system on the field.

Oh and let's not forget, Flacco wasn't particularly good last season either, so it's not like he's coming from a baseline that should make you think he doesn't need the practice.

The question then is whether the defense can be good enough to pick up enough slack from the offense to carry the team into the playoffs...and right now it sure looks like the answer is "yes".

You never want to put too much stock into pre-season performance, but right now it's hard not to notice how flat out dominant this unit has looked in all three of their games so far. It's not just the end of game numbers either, but the way the veterans and starters are playing against their opponent's starters shouldn't be waived off entirely, and the fact that we saw the Ravens' second stringers handling Buffalo's regulars early in the second half of last Saturday's game was really eye-opening.

In a lot of ways, the defense is the exact converse of the offense.

Where the offense has virtually nothing on its second string, the Ravens' defense is LOADED with depth. Tyus Bowser has looked fast and capable all preseason, and he'll be a rotational guy in the linebacking group. Bronson Kaufusi has had a standout pre-season, and likewise doesn't have much of a chance to be named a starter at all this year.

Carl Davis Jr. has stood out and made some great plays with the second team, but he's firmly behind both Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce who have been immovable boulders. And the once anemic secondary now has Ironman Brandon Carr, first round pick Marlon Humphrey, and undrafted rookie Jaylen Hill, another pre-season standout, joining a rejuvenated looking Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith at corner with Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle behind them.

Suffice it to say that the days of teams picking apart the Ravens in hurry-up fourth quarter situations or shifting to a bunch of quick dump offs to avoid the pass rush are probaly over.

Likewise, where the offense doesn't have anyone you can clearly point to as THE go-to playmaker, the defense is LOADED with playmakers at every level.

On the edges, Matt Judon and Brent Urban look to have developed into tremendous players, and while Terrell Suggs isn't the dominant pass rusher he used to be he's still one of the best all-around edge defenders in the game when you account for his run defense, pass coverage, and ability to knock down passes.

On the backend, Jimmy Smith can cover anyone when he's healthy, and Humphrey has the physical tools to develop into a terrific compliment on the other side before this year is over. Frankly there will be plenty of snaps when this unit has 11 bona fide playmakers on the field at the same time.

What this adds up to in my mind is a recipe for a lot of "ugly" wins in 2017.

The Ravens offense is going to have A LOT of three and outs and will rarely look like a fine tuned, professional caliber machine. The name of the game will be efficiency, field position, and praying that Justin Tucker remains historically accurate from 50+ yards away.

But that downfield speed at receiver does provide the ability to hit home run plays, and if you can mix in at least 2 or 3 big plays every game with legitimately great defense and special teams play, that's a formula that can still carry you a long, long way in the NFL.

Heck, just two years ago the Peyton Manning led Broncos didn't even really have that home run hitting ability on offense and got historically bad QB play out of Manning in the postseason, but still rode an all-time great defense to a Super Bowl victory.

My new #DMD colleague Todd might have been right on Tuesday; the 2017 Ravens only need a few things to go wrong, especially on the injury front, to find themselves back in the top 10 on draft night.

But unlike last year's team, they aren't hoping that half a dozen different factors go improbably well to make a playoff run either. The pieces are in place for a double digit win season and a deep playoff run. The only major question mark now is whether or not their number one quarterback is as healthy as they say he is...and how effective he'll be if he does suit up when the games finally count.

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Tuesday
August 29
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Issue 29
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odd time to extend harbaugh, but ravens love their coach


The first thing I thought when I saw the news of John Harbaugh's extension on Monday afternoon was, "Seems like an odd time to announce a contract extension for the coach."

That doesn't necessarily mean it was the wrong thing to do. It's just that adding another year to Harbaugh's deal is something the team would have done on January 28, not August 28.

Let's start this off with my traditional qualifying statement that I make every time I write something about John Harbaugh.

I'm a Harbaugh fan. Period. Always have been, virtually from day one of his arrival in Baltimore back in 2008.

So, I always lean in the direction of "pro-Harbaugh" whenever there's a discussion about his abilities, failures and value to the organization. I tend to look at Harbaugh the same way I do Buck Showalter. All he's done since he showed up here, for the most part, is win. And, like Showalter, Harbs is a first-class person.

Those two elements -- winning and character -- are important to me when I evaluate the merits of a head coach in any sport.

That doesn't mean Harbaugh is without fault. He has his blemishes, just like our beloved Orioles manager. But when the dust settles, Harbaugh's record in Baltimore speaks for itself.

Now, back to the contract extension.

With Monday's announcement, Harbaugh is now under contract through 2019. His salary is thought to be $7 million annually, which means Steve Bisciotti is now on the hook for $14 million at the completion of the upcoming campaign.

But why announce the extension now?

Better yet, why extend him in the first place? After all, the team is coming off of three failed playoff attempts in the last four seasons. And Bisciotti, while not exactly putting a red hot poker under John's nose at last January's press conference in Owings Mills, has dropped enough hints about his expectations for 2017.

It might not necessarily be "playoffs or else" for Harbaugh this season, but Bisciotti doesn't like missing the post-season. He's made that clear.

Announcing the extension now might seem odd, but it's likely been done for a while and someone in the media either discovered it and brought it to the attention of the organization or Harbaugh himself thought the news might solidify his presence in the locker room.

"If it comes to you or me staying...I have a 3-year deal here and the owner and I have a very strong relationship," Harbaugh might be able to say to the players. John's not the kind of guy to pull that sort of power play without having a real need to do so, but it does help his case that the owner of the team has given him yet another year of obligation.

But the question still remains: Why extend Harbaugh now?

And that answer is an easy one.

The organization is extraordinarily fond of him. Frankly, and this is not meant any way to disrespect the character or quality of work provided by Brian Billick during his tenure, the owner and key front office members are far more connected to Harbaugh than they were to Billick.

It sounds kind of middle-school'ish to say, "They like Harbaugh more than they liked Billick", but that's the truth. From Bisciotti right down through the team's power tree of experienced NFL front office members, they have a deep, deep respect and admiration for Harbaugh.

And since it's Bisciotti's money on the line, he's the only real voice in the building who carries enough weight to say, "We're extending Harbs" or, as Billick found out, "It's time to part company".

The Ravens clearly aren't going to be looking for a new head coach anytime soon.

I suppose it's possible that if the team goes 4-12 this season and appears disjointed and non-competitive that Bisciotti would think long and hard about making a coaching change, but if the Ravens were to post a stinker-of-a-season -- something in that 4-12, 5-11 range -- it would likely be due to a series of crippling injuries to key performers that mirrored what happened back in 2015.

And it's hard to hold the head coach fully accountable for his team's failings when they're missing a bunch of important pieces.

Oh, and say what you will about Harbaugh's tenure and his coaching acumen, but the one thing they've never been under him -- injuries or not -- is non-competitive. Even in 2015, with half the team out for the final month of the season, they hung in there and fought like dogs, even while they were getting blown out at home by Seattle and Kansas City.

Who will ever forget the pre-Christmas win over Pittsburgh in Baltimore back in 2015?

Players play for Harbaugh. They always have.

Some folks are put off by his rah-rah, Gipper-speech style, but that's ultimately what coaching is all about. You take your personality and what makes you tick as both a coach and a human being, and you mold it into something that others can respect and admire. Harbaugh has done just that over the last nine years in Baltimore.

His style works for him, in the same way that Bill Belichick's bland, viperish style has obviously treated him well. Oh, and the best quarterback to ever play the game hasn't hurt Belichick's coaching method either.

Worst case scenario for Bisciotti, he's forced to make a change at the end of the season and he owes John $14 million. The owner doesn't like writing free checks of that magnitude, but it's affordable for him to do so.

That's likely not going to be a consideration, though. Harbaugh is here to stay. The owner wants it that way, the front office wants it that way and I bet if you polled the locker room, the players want it that way, too.

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Todd Schoenberger promises to deliver provocative commentary on the world of Baltimore sports. His no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners style of writing is certain to leave readers debating and disputing, but always thinking. Be sure to follow Tuesdays with Todd!

Twitter: @TMSchoenberger


playing for picks is the only solution


Addiction counselors say: "The first step to recovery is acceptance." For those in Ravens Nation, trapped in a pool of quicksand, it may be best to take this advice now rather than inflict misery on your psyche and those around you.

If the three preseason games are any indication, this Baltimore Ravens team will be playing for picks this year. It would be best for fans to look forward and predict which standout player the team should draft in 2018 (likely third overall, after the Jets and Bills). Can you say the outspoken Josh Rosen out of UCLA? Or is that a no-go in John Harbaugh’s kinder-and-gentler Ravens squad?

The purpose of quickly dismissing the 2017 campaign is because the Ravens lack a quarterback. And – please – don’t give me this “Joe will be back for the first game” nonsense. Yeah, he’ll be back, all right. But last I checked, it’s really difficult to throw footballs when dependent on the use of a cane.

The week-one starting quarterback will be the uber-mediocre Ryan Mallett, who is lighting up the highlight reel with his stellar 22.2 QB rating. Perhaps he should try throwing with his jersey tucked into his pants, or maybe that's his way of summoning his inner – dare I say it – Colin Kaepernick?!

Seriously folks, with only twelve days until the opener against division rival Cincinnati followed by a week-two matchup against the renewed Cleveland Browns, it would be best to begin analyzing what this Ravens team will look like with Number 15 under center.

It’s a disaster.

In his brief NFL career, Mallett has thrown seven touchdown passes and ten interceptions. His 55% completion rate has provided his teams with a whopping 1,779 yards.

To be fair, Mallett hasn’t had an overwhelming number of chances to throw the ball because he’s rarely been good enough to be a first-string quarterback in the NFL. When he was a starter with his former team, the Houston Texans, his work was minimal and well below average for what fans in Baltimore expect from their quarterbacks.

He was two-and-four as a starter for Houston. Let me repeat that statistic for you: two-and-four. As in, two wins and four losses.

In 2014, Mallett beat the Browns, a team that finished the year with a seven-and-nine record. In 2015, Big Boy Ryan rocked the eventual six-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

I know what you’re thinking while reading this – Baltimore has another Johnny Unitas in the works.

The Ravens are in serious trouble. The first two games are against division opponents and the team will likely be without a high-quality passer. The optimist will explain that Flacco will definitely be back for the season. However, “being back” is entirely different than “being good.”

Flacco needs time to fix timing issues that exist with his receiving corps. Maclin is new – Wallace is in his second year with the team and was a rarely-used option behind Steve Smith last season – and the always-injured Perriman. Add the absent Pitta from the tight-end spot, and Cool Joe has a real problem on his hands.

The depleted offensive line is the cherry on top of what is likely going to be the worst season in Ravens history.

Since the NFL adjusted its playoff format in 1990, 223 teams started the season at 0-and-2. Of these, only 27 teams – 12.1 percent – qualified for the playoffs.

Taking that statistic further, of the teams that lost to divisional opponents in those first two games, only one advanced to the postseason, the 2013 Minnesota Vikings.

In other words, the margin for error is the thinnest it has ever been for a team in desperate search of its post-Super Bowl identity. Coach Harbaugh was quick to dismantle a squad known for its bravado and intimidating nature immediately after its 2013 championship. With the exception of one season, it has been challenged to regain its glorified past.

The solution is simple: Be straightforward and transparent with the fans. Baltimore is a fickle city. Its citizens are remarkable advocates of civic pride. Burn them with “any day now” chants about Flacco’s return while losing, and they’ll quickly eliminate the Ravens from their list of passions. Accepting the 2017 season as a disaster will bring closure and permit the fans to look forward to better days.

In case you were wondering, there are 240 days until the 2018 NFL Draft. See you there, Ravens Nation !!

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now just 6 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 6 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Monday
August 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 28
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fact and opinion: a better value than $100 to see #maymac


FACT: The Los Angeles Dodgers won 91 games last season. This season, they've already won 91. And there's a month left in the regular season. Oh, and in case you don't feel like looking it up, I'll do it for you. The Dodgers were 18-17 in spring training this year. So there's that.

OPINION: It seems completely unfair that the Dodgers are likely going to win somewhere in the neighborhood of 110 games and could be eliminated from post-season play by losing 3 of 5 to another pretty decent team in October. Given their recent history, that actually seems like a fairly reasonable scenario. Despite their amazing regular season, I'd almost consider it a surprise for L.A. to make it to the World Series.

FACT: Floyd Mayweather beat Conor McGregor on Saturday night, putting him away in the 10th round. The early scorecards had McGregor slightly ahead, but lots of ringside reports indicate the challenger never once inflicted any kind of serious punishment on Mayweather.

OPINION: My guess? Mayweather knew by the second or third round he was going to win in whatever fashion he chose. I'd assume he went back to his ring after round two and said to his corner, "What should I do with this guy? Put him away in the next couple of rounds or drag it out for a while so the folks get their money's worth?" I realize there's an inherent danger in that sort of decision, but I honestly think Mayweather knew early on there was just no way McGregor could ever land a punch that mattered.

Justin Tucker has been itching to try a 70-yard field goal. He's done it in practice. Could he do it in a "real" game?

FACT: The longest field goal in NFL history is 64 yards, kicked by Matt Prater back in 2013. There are four guys who made 63 yarders. Know who they are? The answer appears below. And no "Google search" allowed.

OPINION: Justin Tucker is someday going to kick a 70-yard field goal and smash the record. It would have to be a perfect storm, no pun intended. Wind at his back, for starters, with the attempt coming either at the end of the half or the end of the game. Then, of course, he'd need a perfect snap and hold. He's going to do it someday, watch and see.

FACT: Giancarlo Stanton hit his 50th home run of the season yesterday. It's hard to believe, but that's the first time in his career he's reached that milestone.

OPINION: I'll admit I picked this tidbit up from someone in the know who is associated with one of the teams I'm about to mention, so this isn't one of those times I'll rise up and say, "Told you so!" if it happens. Expect the Yankees and Marlins to engage in serious trade discussions about Stanton over the next year as Miami tries to shed that enormous contract so they can make a major play for -- you guessed it -- Manny Machado. As someone said to me on Friday night via text: "He's not wearing 'Mr. Miami' on the back of his jersey this weekend just for kicks."

FACT: Julian Edelman is out for the year with a torn ACL. To suggest that doesn't dampen the spirit of New England's offense in 2017 is kind of silly. He's the favorite target of Tom Brady.

OPINION: It won't matter in the end, as long as the rest of their receiving corps is able to stay healthy, including tight end Rob Gronkowski. Granted, that's a longshot, as Gronk is injury prone and so too is Danny Amendola. Here's the thing, though: New England will snatch some team's cast-off wide receiver who gets cut next weekend and he'll wind up catching 69 passes for 710 yards this season. If I played for the Patriots and Brady was the QB, I'd have 24 catches on the year. And I'm 54 years old.

FACT: Speaking of Floyd Mayweather, he attempted to bet $400,000 on himself around 4 pm on Saturday at a wagering establishment in Las Vegas and he was turned away.

OPINION: I realize $400k to a guy about to make $100 million is like you and I betting $10 on the Ravens-Saints game this Thursday night, but that was a pretty distinct show of character from Mayweather if you ask me. In fact, it leads me to suggest that what would REALLY make a boxing prize fight worth watching would be if both men put up their own $20 million and then fought for it -- winner take all.

FACT: Some team you'd never expect to make the playoffs in the NFL does it almost every year. It's just the way the wins, losses and injuries shake out. Last year, I guess you'd say it was Miami in the AFC and Detroit in the NFC.

OPINION: I'll do my official NFL predictions next week in advance of the season opener in New England, but I have a weird feeling the Tennessee Titans are going to be one of the top two seeds in the AFC this season. That is, of course, if their key players stay healthy, which is always a 50-50 proposition. You can buzz through the first dozen or so weeks like Oakland did last year, lose your quarterback at the end of the season, and you're done.

FACT: Dustin Johnson made a 15-foot putt at the final hole in regulation, then snuck a 4-footer in on the first playoff hole to win yesterday's FedEx Cup opener on the PGA Tour. He beat Jordan Spieth, who at one point on the front nine had a five shot lead in Sunday's final round.

OPINION: No one has driven the golf ball as well as D.J. does since Greg Norman in the 1990's. When he's able to hit it where he's aiming, there's almost no beating him. Case in point: At the 18th hole in regulation yesterday, he flared his drive well right into the deep rough and had to gouge it out from there to 95 yards short of the green, where he then got it up and down to force a playoff. On the first playoff hole, he hit a 375 yard drive over a lake that no one else on TOUR except Bubba Watson would even think of trying to carry. He then had 88 yards to the hole, hit lob wedge to four feet, and made the winning putt. Oh, on that playoff hole, Spieth rifled a drive of his own some 315 yards off the tee and was 60 yards behind D.J.

FACT: The Washington Nationals have three pitchers in the top four in earned run average in the National League. L.A.'s Clayton Kershaw (2.04) is first, followed by Max Scherzer (2.25), Gio Gonzalez (2.40) and Stephen Strasburg (3.10).

OPINION: The Nationals are a lot like the Dodgers. They look the part throughout the regular season but always wind up stubbing their toe in October. The return of Bryce Harper from his knee injury is obviously critical for them, but this might very well be the year the Nats finally make it to the Fall Classic.

FACT: The four kickers with 63 yard field goals in their career are: Tom Dempsey, Sebastian Janikowski, David Akers and Jason Elam.

OPINION: Don't hang your head. No one else got all four, either.

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sweep at fenway is nice, but o's have to keep on rolling


This is what happens when you go on a 6-week tailspin in May and June and fall far off the pace.

You go into Fenway at the end of August, sweep three from the reeling Red Sox, and you're still "only" .500 and still behind in the playoff race.

But taking two of three from Oakland and all three from the Red Sox was just what the doctor ordered for Buck Showalter's team, who now welcome Seattle to town for a 3-game series that starts tonight.

He created danger for himself in every inning on Sunday, but Wade Miley's effort into the 6th was crucial for the Birds in a 2-1 win at Fenway Park.

And for the O's, it's yet again one of those "must win" series', as the Mariners are right there with them in the thick of the A.L. wild card chase.

No rest for the weary, I guess you could say.

Sunday's 2-1 win had the "feel" of a playoff game. It was tight throughout, as the Red Sox weren't retired 1-2-3 in any of the first eight innings. They'd wind up leaving a whopping 13 runners on base, but could only manage one run. In the three game series, Boston scored a total of four times. The Orioles scored five runs alone in the second inning of Saturday's 7-0 victory.

Zach Britton sat in the bullpen in the bottom of the 9th, as Buck went with Brad Brach to close out the one-run affair. Britton has been bothered with some sort of knee ailment, although Showalter has said on a couple of occasions recently that "Zach is all systems go". If that's the case, you have to wonder why the closer wasn't out there yesterday with the game on the line?

No worries, because Brach got the Red Sox in order to end the game.

When the O's lost to the A's last Tuesday night, the Associated Press story that ran after the game referred to the Birds as "sinking". It's funny what five days will do. The O's are now swimming at Michael Phelps' speed and it's the Red Sox who appear to be on the verge of sinking.

The presently-scheduled pitching match-ups in the upcoming series with Seattle are a wagering man's nightmare. There's no telling what the Birds might get from Chris Tillman tonight when he faces Marco Gonzalez. On Tuesday, Ubaldo Jimenez gets the ball against Erasmo Ramirez. And on Wednesday afternoon, former Oriole Ariel Miranda goes up against Dylan Bundy. It would be poetic justice (if you're a Mariners fan, that is) for Miranda to come to town on Wednesday and spike the ball in the Orioles' face the way Parker Bridwell did in Los Angeles a few weeks back.

But the way the O's are swinging the bats, they might be able to give up five or six runs in each of the three games and still win. The O's are the hottest hitting team in the American League since the All-Star break. And other than Chris Davis, who has been slumping since April, it seems, no one is up there looking like an automatic out like most of them were throughout the month of June.

The one intriguing decision looming over Buck's head is the impending return of J.J. Hardy. The manager did, at one point, say Hardy would return to the starting lineup when he was healthy enough to return, but that was before Tim Beckham started looking like Ty Cobb at the plate. Buck's loyal to "his guys" and there's no doubt J.J. is more of a fair-haired boy than is Beckham due to his longevity with the club, but there's just no way Hardy starts at shortstop in lieu of Beckham. I'd be shocked if that happens.

Meanwhile, in the mythical race to get to 86-76 and secure the 2nd wild card spot, the Birds (65-65) now just need to go 21-11 in the season's final 32 games. That's not out of the question at all, although it's certainly fair to wonder how long the team can keep scorching the ball like they did vs. the A's and Red Sox. That kind of offense can't continue for another month. Or can it?

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now just 6 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 6 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Sunday
August 27
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Issue 27
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ravens 2017: bet the under


I’m going to do my very best to not knee-jerk my way into saying something completely dumb about that fiasco at Ravens Stadium last night.

Every time I get close to stepping over the line, I’ll remind myself, “It’s a pre-season game. It’s supposed to be choppy.”

The Ravens beat the Bills last night, 13-9. There for a while, I thought the baseball team in town was going to score more than the football team.

What were the seven most heard words in the stadium last night, you ask?

”And there’s a flag on the play…”

It’s a pre-season game. It’s supposed to be choppy.

Here’s what I’ll say on the positive side for the Ravens. Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first.

Brent Urban has been the Ravens best defensive player in the 2017 pre-season.

The defense has a chance to be legit. I think we knew that all along, but three games is enough of a sample size to at least say that when our first-stringers are in there, the other team isn’t doing much ground-gaining.

Buffalo’s offense isn’t very good, so last night wasn’t exactly a worthwhile testament, but the Ravens aren’t going to be pushed around defensively this season. They definitely have the potential to be a Top 5 overall defense.

And that’s good, because the offense is looking pretty lousy. But we’re on the good stuff, here. I’ll get back to the offense momentarily.

If Brent Urban plays in the regular season like he’s played in the pre-season, the Ravens have a formidable defensive end on their hands. Again last night, he was solid both in the trenches and out on the edge, getting into the offensive backfield twice early on in the game and making life miserable for the Buffalo running attack.

He might not become a premier pass-rush type guy, but he fights through blocks well and plays until he hears the whistle blow. His career to-date has been stunted by injuries. If he stays healthy, expect Urban to have a breakout year.

Bronson Kaufusi missed his rookie season with an ankle injury but seems on the verge of earning considerable playing time if he can duplicate what he did last night vs. the Bills.

He’s bigger and more athletic than Urban, and probably more of a quarterback-chaser than Urban, too. I doubt he’ll stuff the run as well, so perhaps he and Urban will be a nice compliment for one another. Kaufusi was in the mix a lot last night, knocking down passes and creating havoc when the ball was in his general vicinity.

I guess it’s fair to note, again, that it’s only pre-season and that both Urban and Kaufusi have yet to make an impact in a regular season game. But they look good in August, that’s for sure.

Jaylen Hill is a name you’re going to hear a lot this season.

If Tavon Young didn’t get injured, Hill probably never even makes it to Baltimore. Now, he’s looking like a guy who might get extensive nickel situation playing time. And deservedly so. I’m not going to go overboard with him, yet, but I think the Ravens might have stumbled onto a legit cornerback.

I don’t see how Taquan Mizzell makes the 53-man roster unless Danny Woodhead’s injury is worse than it appears, but Mizzell can play in the NFL. The shifty running back with good receiving hands was solid again last night and is auditioning well for a job with another team if the Ravens aren’t able to keep him around.

I can see Mizzell perhaps making the practice squad or suffering one of those unfortunate “hand injuries” that stashes him away on the I.R. for a year while the Ravens figure out how they can fit him in.

He’s a Justin Forsett wanna-be with what looks to be a little more outside speed and better hands catching the ball out of the backfield. But he went undrafted for a reason. Let’s keep that in mind.

Now, the bad…

There’s no use in emphasizing it any longer, so I won’t, but the Ravens are a rudderless ship if Flacco’s season is burdened by injury. Mallett, Woodrum, Lewis – none of those three are winning more than six games if they have to play an extensive portion of the schedule.

John Harbaugh said after last night’s game with the Bills that he “promises” Flacco will play against the Bengals on September 10. I’m not sure why John would say that. It does him no good at all – other than to calm down an anxious fan base – to tell the Bengals they’ll be seeing Flacco in two weeks.

The Ravens are missing Ronnie Stanley with an undisclosed injury and his absence is certainly critical. If he’s not back on September 10, that’s a troublesome issue as well.

Ryan Jensen was actually pretty decent at center last night, but, again, it’s only pre-season. I’d say he clearly out-performed Jeremy Zuttah, which probably isn’t saying much.

It appears James Hurst is going to play right tackle this season. I’m afraid that’s not going to end well. He was bullied throughout last night’s game, although Buffalo’s interior line is actually pretty decent. No matter though, Hurst is going to struggle against virtually any decent defensive tackle in the league.

And I get it – it’s only pre-season and the quarterbacks who are throwing to them aren’t Hall of Fame candidates – but where are the Ravens wide receivers? I know Breshad Perriman is hurt (shocker there), which leaves Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin as the two guys who figure to get the bulk of the work. Neither of them have really shown much of anything yet.

Wallace failed to lay out for a ball from Woodrum in the second quarter and I don’t remember another time he was targeted in the game. The veteran Maclin probably doesn’t try real hard in pre-season anymore, but it would be nice to see him do something to reassure us he’ll be ready for prime time on September 10.

Chris Moore and Chris Matthews are nothing special. We didn’t see any activity with the tight ends on Saturday night. Taquan Mizzell led the team with six receptions for 54 yards.

When your running back is the top pass catcher, you’re in trouble.

It’s a pre-season game. It’s supposed to be choppy.

Breshad Perriman would obviously add another dimension to the Ravens’ receiving corps, but as it stands now, that’s a mediocre group at best.

Like the headline says, take the “under” this year when you’re wagering on the Ravens.

The pre-season is essentially over with now. They’ll finish up in New Orleans on Thursday night, but that game will mostly feature guys who won’t be employed next Saturday morning.

Saturday night vs. Buffalo was as close to a dress rehearsal as you’ll see in August, and while taking into account there are still key injuries to deal with, the skinny on the Ravens is pretty simple: The offense is going to be a work in progress and the defense figures to be a very competitive group.

So much depends on Flacco. And even then, just how good can he be having spent all of pre-season on the training table?

Let’s hope Justin Tucker stays healthy.

And that’s not a joke, folks.

Three field goals from Tucker and a touchdown in some shape, form or fashion and the Ravens can win a lot of 16-13 games.

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birds finding fenway to their liking


This is a real longshot, of course, but if the Orioles could somehow maneuver their way into the post-season, win the wild card game, and then face the Red Sox at some point, they might actually be favorites in that series.

There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, I know, but one thing is undeniable about the Orioles. They match up extremely well with the Red Sox…and Fenway Park.

Kevin Gausman stifled the Red Sox on four hits on Saturday afternoon as the O's climbed to within a game of .500 with a 7-0 win at Fenway Park.

Friday night they blistered poor Rick Porcello in a 16-3 thrashing.

And then yesterday afternoon, Kevin Gausman allowed four hits in 7.2 innings of work as the O’s won their second straight in Boston, 7-0.

The Birds (64-65) scored five times in the second inning, punctuated by a 3-run home run from Tim Beckham, as Buck Showalter’s team now sits just two games behind the Minnesota Twins (66-63) in the race for the second wild card spot in the American League.

Virtually everyone who needed to lose on Saturday lost. Minnesota, Seattle, Kansas City, Texas and Tampa Bay all dropped road decisions. Of the teams above the O’s, only the Angels (and Yankees, but we sort of expect them to hang on to the first wild card spot) managed to win on Saturday.

If that sort of good fortune continues to follow the O’s, who knows what might happen?

Unfortunately, they can’t play the Red Sox every game. Boston has now dropped three straight and their lead in the A.L. East is down to 3.5 games over New York. They’re sorely missing their team captain, Dustin Pedroia, who has been out since August 8th with a knee injury.

Here's the thing about the Red Sox. Their offense is solid, but other than Chris Sale, Boston’s starting pitching just isn’t all that good.

They might hang on to win the division, but the Red Sox won’t be a confident bunch come October if things don’t improve on the mound.

And who knows, the Red Sox might squander the division to the Yankees and the O’s could wiggle their way into that wild card game and have to visit Fenway Park for a one-game showdown.

I can think of worse places the Orioles would have to travel to for the wild card encounter, that’s for sure.

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now just 6 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 6 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Saturday
August 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 26
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


this, that and the other


The Ravens and Buffalo Bills tangle tonight in Baltimore in the third pre-season game, which typically showcases the team's starting 22 for the first half and at least one series into the second half.

The Ravens, of course, are still shorthanded and won't be featuring a handful of (hopeful) starters. Joe Flacco won't play, obviously, so the quarterbacking duties still belong to Ryan Mallett and Josh Woodrum, the Liberty University standout who has opened some eyes with his play in the first two pre-season games.

It's only pre-season, yes, but the heat is on Ryan Mallett to step up his performance tonight against the Bills.

Several bubble players are in the spotlight tonight, as is usually the case in pre-season games, but Mallett in particular will be under the gun to perform much better than he did against both the Redskins and Dolphins. With Flacco's status still uncertain for the week one opener in Cincinnati, Mallett has the starting job in his lap and there for the taking.

But Mallett's play thus far has been anything but inspiring and Woodrum -- albeit playing against other back-ups and no-names -- has certainly performed well enough to at least earn a more advanced look from John Harbaugh and Marty Mornhinweg.

Not that either of them are going to beat the Bengals on opening day if pressed into duty, but it would help the Ravens' cause if either Mallett or Woodrum stepped up their game tonight and showed themselves well against Buffalo.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Woodrum get some snaps in the second quarter, particularly if the Bills are still playing most of their defensive starters.

I'm not sure how the Ravens view Flacco long-term, and in no way am I suggesting that Josh Woodrum could potentially be the starting quarterback in Baltimore in, say, 2019 or 2020, but at some point in the not-so-distant future, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta are going to have to start thinking about the next quarterback in Baltimore. It's not Mallett. I think we all know that.

It's likely not Woodrum, either. But while he's here and competing, he's also worth evaluating for some long term use, whether as a back-up or potentially a candidate to replace Flacco when his days are done.

I'm getting ahead of myself, yes. Flacco still has plenty of football left in him, but back injuries are tricky buggers and you never know when a seemingly insignificant injury turns into something more serious.

Besides Woodrum, the other guy with a real opportunity to thrust himself into the playing-time discussion is Keenan Reynolds, who has looked sharp in the two pre-season games to date and is vying for the starting punt returner position. His hands have definitely improved, which helps his chances of getting some snaps at wide receiver as well. If he can put together two more solid pre-season outings, he'll be on the field and contributing in Cincinnati on September 10.


The big fight is tonight in Las Vegas and they announced the guaranteed purses last night during the weigh-in.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. will receive $100 million and Conor McGregor will bring in $30 million.

That's good work if you can get it.

I'm so disengaged with the fight game these days that I'd rather watch a re-run of "Three's Company" than pay $100 to watch those two takes swings at each other, but I'll admit they've created enough of a spectacle over the last eight weeks that I'm at least curious to see what happens tonight.

I suspect Mayweather is going to win, simply because McGregor has no boxing experience whatsoever.

Floyd Mayweather is probably laughing at the fact that he's getting $70 million more than Conor McGregor for tonight's fight.

But nothing would surprise me, because boxing is crooked, for starters, and Mayweather himself has never seen the likes of someone with McGregor's style.

The most staggering part of the story is the $100 million they're giving Mayweather.

Mike Trout makes $35 million playing six months of baseball.

Aaron Rodgers makes $22 million playing four months of football.

Brooks Koepka won $2 million for playing four days of golf when he won the U.S. Open in June.

Floyd Mayweather will receive $100 million for what potentially might be a half-hour of work tonight.

I completely understand the whole concept of "get it while you can" and no one in their right mind would turn down $100 million on principle, but what motivation does Mayweather have tonight when he's receiving $100 million win or lose?

I'm sure pride is factored in. He definitely doesn't want to lose to a "chump" like McGregor, but Mayweather's getting paid whether he wins or loses.

As for the challenger, $30 million seems almost like a slap in the face, but he has far more to gain than does Mayweather. And if McGregor could somehow pull off a stunning upset, there's little doubt at all that a rematch would be in store for sometime in 2018.

There are lots of things wrong with our country these days. One person winning $758 million in a Powerball lottery is an example of how wacky we've become. But two men fighting for 30 minutes or so and earning $130 million between them is also a pretty solid indication that we have things really mixed up.

My prediction: Mayweather wins by a TKO in the 6th round. And then laughs all the way to the bank.


I haven't really watched much of the Little League World Series, but I'm always intrigued with just how "big league" they've made the entire event.

With ESPN now providing significant TV coverage of the games and their website treating the event like it's the real World Series, it's hard not to get caught up in it.

I just hope the kids who fail aren't forever scarred by their shortcomings.

It's one thing to get on TV and say, "My name is Tucker McDaniel, I'm 12 years old, and my favorite player is Mike Trout." That's cool and your friends get to see it and your grandparents probably record it and burn it onto a DVD for everyone to watch at Christmas.

It's a whole other thing to be the kid who gives up the game-winning home run in the 6th inning or strikes out with the bases loaded in your team's final at-bat. That, unfortunately, also gets aired for everyone to see.

I guess it's just part of the trade-off of being "big time" as a 12-year old kid, right? You're not really old enough at that point to understand the delicate nature of having your successes and failures aired to millions and millions of people. You're just happy to be on national TV and you assume a few cute girls at school might pay more attention to you now.

But with social media these days, it's also easy for someone who comes up short to be ridiculed to no end. I hope the parents of those youngsters are paying attention and not so drawn into the whole things themselves that they forget they're dealing with 12 year old boys.

I worry too much, right?

Maybe.

But I remember how much I dreaded just facing my teammates when I made the final out of a Little League game -- and there wasn't a TV camera showing it all and I only had a dozen players and a dozen parents to look at afterwards.

I hope the boys who come up short this weekend in the final few games are able to handle it well.

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o's wreck red sox at fenway


Two more games like that up in Boston and the O's will be moving in the right direction.

The Birds jumped out to an early 5-0 lead last night at Fenway Park and cruised from there, crushing the Red Sox 16-3 and improving to 63-65 on the year.

Another big night for Jonathan Schoop on Friday in Boston helped the O's to a 16-3 laugher over the Red Sox.

Jonathan Schoop continued his torrid second half with a 4-for-5 night and Trey Mancini went 3-for-5 with 4 RBI. Every Baltimore starter had at least one hit on the night.

The Red Sox helped out, in all honesty. They made five errors in the game, although it only cost them four unearned runs in the process.

The win leaves the Birds still three full games behind Minnesota in the battle for the second wild card spot in the American League. Minnesota, Seattle and Tampa Bay were teams above the O's who won on Friday night. The Angels, Texas and Kansas City -- all above the Birds in the standings as well -- were losers last evening.

It's a 4:05 pm start today at Fenway, with Kevin Gausman opposing former Oriole Eduardo Rodriguez.

You assume the Birds can't duplicate their Friday night offense this afternoon, but I'm not a believer in "save some for tomorrow", either. When you get the chance to beat the Red Sox, 16-3, you do it, and hope you've left a bruise or two that might still be there today.

Before they can entertain any real thought of being back in the wild card race, the O's have to get to .500. Two more wins in Boston this weekend and that's where they'll be, with Seattle coming to town for a huge series that starts on Monday night.

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only 8 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 8 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.



Friday
August 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 25
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


don’t look now, but we’re starting year number four at #dmd


I had no idea what to expect on August 25, 2014 when the very first edition of Drew’s Morning Dish landed just after 6:30 am.

I remember saying to my friend Tony Young, who was a major influence in the early development of #DMD, that I’d be thrilled if 1,000 people visited the site. We did just over 1,700 visitors that first day.

And here we are, on August 25, 2017, still alive and kicking, three full years later, some days doing three times that number of visitors over a 24-hour period.

"Happy Anniversary!”

We're kicking off the start of year number four by welcoming a new contributor to the #DMD family. I excited to announce that Baltimore native Todd Schoenberger will be authoring a piece here every Tuesday at #DMD. Schoenberger is a 1988 Calvert Hall High School graduate who now lives in New York but is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan and has recently contributed work for the Baltimore Sun, among others.

Todd joins David Rosenfeld, Brien Jackson, Dale Williams and Matt Carroll as regular contributors at #DMD.

So the future of #DMD is in good hands, but let's get back to what's transpired over the last three years.

Thank you. I try to say it a lot here, but should probably say it more.

Thank you.

To everyone who has played a role in Drew’s Morning Dish, from all of our corporate partners past-and-present to readers, writers and behind-the-scenes guys like the aforementioned Tony Young and my longtime friend, George McDowell – I can’t say thank you enough for your support.

I’m always hesitant to single out individuals or corporate partners because I know I’ll forget someone who doesn’t deserve to be overlooked. Take a look on the website today at the corporate partners who are supporting #DMD and know they are the pumping heart of this website. And those before them who supported us were the same vital contributors to our success.

I appreciate them all.

Just look throughout the website and you'll see the advertisers who have bet on me over the years. Click on their ads and you'll go straight to their website(s) where you can learn more about what they do. As much as they've bet on me, I can say, without hesitation, that you can bet on them. Unlike some websites who take ad money from outside sources where they have no idea who is running the business or company, I have personally used the services of each and every corporate partner affiliated with #DMD and in nearly every single case, I know the owner or the proprietor as well.

If you have the need, give our corporate partners a chance to earn your business, please.

For those that don’t know, “Drew’s Morning Dish” actually started way back in 2011 when I was on-air as a sports radio host in Baltimore. I would quickly crank out a 200-300 word blog each morning before I went on the air, most times trying to marry the written theme with what I was going to discuss on the air that morning.

When the station fell on hard times and major financial concerns led to five of us getting fired on August 22, 2014, I started Drew’s Morning Dish.com three days later, never skipping a beat.

Every single day since then, we’ve published new, fresh content. I don’t know exactly how many days that it is, but I can easily figure it out with a little patience and a calendar.

What’s important isn’t how many days in a row we’ve done it here, but that we haven’t missed a day. Not once. We’re not Cal Ripken Jr. yet, but we’re making strides in that direction.

I even managed to keep the streak alive while enduring a 4-day battle with a kidney stone last March. George McDowell picked me up at the Raleigh airport (my high school golf team was traveling to Pinehurst for our annual spring trip) and said, “Holy hell, you look awful…let’s make sure the streak doesn’t end down here, though.”

I felt a lot worse than I looked, I’m sure, but I managed to scrape something together for the first couple of nights I was in Pinehurst.

And the streak lived on.

Two things happened on that Friday in August of 2014 when we all got fired from the radio station. Both were supremely important to the birth of #DMD.

Tony Young reached out to me late in the day and said, “What are you going to do now?” and I said, “Hell, Tony, I don’t know, I just got fired five hours ago. I know I have a tee-time at 9:05 am tomorrow morning. Beyond that, I couldn't tell you.”

He said, “I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to publish Drew’s Morning Dish on Monday morning just like you always did.”

Sunday afternoon – two days later -- at a White Marsh coffee shop, Tony showed me the guts of what would become #DMD, a simple, easy-to-learn WordPress format that would be the engine of the website for the first 10 months.

At some point that weekend, I made contact with the people at Royal Farms and explained that I was going to carry on with Drew’s Morning Dish and try to provide Baltimore sports enthusiasts with a daily website that would churn out new content every morning.

”Whatever you decide to do, Royal Farms is with you,” was the reply I received.

We had our first corporate partner: Royal Farms.

And off we went.

I’ll always have a special sense of gratitude for Tony and Royal Farms. They were, literally, there from day one.

Since then, we’ve had 40-some corporate partners. I appreciate all of them, past and present. They all helped build #DMD.

George came along in the summer of 2015 and helped take #DMD to the next level from a software and publishing standpoint. You guys think Zach Britton has saved a lot of games over the years? You have no idea how far back George's "save" streak goes. I'll never let him become a free agent, that's for sure.

We’ve developed, organized and supervised 30 trips over the last three years. We’ve been to the Masters, Phoenix, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Notre Dame, New York, Washington DC and next month, we’ll even venture out of the country to London for the Ravens-Jaguars game.

Thousands of people have trusted us to take them to sporting or musical events and we hope we’ve created some great memories for them. Thanks to all of you who have ridden or flown along with us since 2014!

And to those who have helped us with our various charitable efforts – our annual duckpin bowling event, our charity golf tournament and, our biggest venture, the “Winter Apparel Drive” every December – I thank you so much as well.

Thanks to my old radio pal Glenn Clark, who is off on his own now doing great stuff at PressBox and with Loyola and Stevenson play-by-play. I still hang out with him every Friday from 10 am – 12 noon on www.glennclarkradio.com, where we have a bunch of laughs and occasionally even talk sports if he can point me in the right direction.

Glenn and I spearheaded the “Winter Apparel Drive” at the old radio station. That first year (2010) we took 700 pieces of clothing to Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore. We thought we were the cat’s meow.

Last December, Glenn and I, along with our friends from Jerry’s Toyota, Hughes Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning and Chick fil-A Nottingham Square, took 6,000 pieces of apparel to Helping Up Mission.

But they were YOUR pieces of apparel that went down there. We just transported them. You made it happen. Thank you, as always, for your continued support of the charitable efforts I involve myself with on occasion.

Thanks to my wife and two children, who endure me watching more sports than I probably should, staying up later than they might like, and rustling around in the morning while they’re still trying to get the last hour or two of sleep they need.

All of you who have shown your support – readers, writers, trip-goers and corporate partners -- are the reason #DMD is starting year number four today.

Without you, there is no Drew’s Morning Dish.

Thank you. Let’s have a great fourth year together!

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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.


Dan Duquette has taken his lumps this season, like most everyone else involved with the Orioles in 2017.

Sometimes that's arguably been deserved, but other times they've been the result of textbook hindsight bias. The best example of this is the continued criticism over letting Parker Bridwell leave the organization.

Bridwell is having a good season in Los Angeles, pitching to a 2.92 ERA over 12 starts, but the guy was hardly on anyone's radar before the season, and no one noticed when he was DFA'd and traded back in April. It's aggravating to see Bridwell contributing to a wild card rival, and it would definitely be nice to have a do-over on that particular transaction from Duquette's standpoint, but it's not evidence that Duquette is actually a bad general manager so much as it's an example of an organization not recognizing the talent of a player at the margins of their organization, something that happens to every team and GM at one point or another.

Case in point: Miguel Castro.

Don't be so quick to beat up on Dan Duquette says #DMD's Brien Jackson.

If Bridwell is a black mark on Duquette's resume, Castro at least balances the scale. Like Bridwell, Castro was DFA'd in April, allowing the Orioles to acquire him in a trade in exchange for nothing.

Since then he's pitched 46 innings in 29 appearances for Baltimore, posting a 2.74 ERA along the way. And on more than one occassion he's worked long relief to boot. Wednesday's game was a prime example, as Castro worked the team out of a tough spot and then cracked the 50 pitch mark, holding down the fort until Manny Machado delivered the game winning home run in the 12th inning against the A's.

In the Detroit series earlier this month, Castro had to come on in relief of an atrocious Chris Tillman and ended up pitching a full six innings, saving the rest of the bullpen in a lost cause outing. With that kind of longevity, it seems more likely than not that Castro will get a chance to win a spot in the starting rotation next season, especially considering that Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the only two incumbent starters likely to be back in 2018.

Honestly it's a bit confusing that Castro hasn't gotten a chance to start this season, especially after being stretched out for six innings, but Buck's devotion to a certain group of veterans on this roster probably merits a post all of its own.

Castro's not without warts, of course, or else he wouldn't have been available in the first place. Despite a 98 MPH fastball and an above average slider he curiously doesn't really strike anyone out. His 4.89 K/9 and strikeout rate of 13.7% are well below what you would expect from a reliever with Castro's stuff, and that shows up in his FIP, which comes in well above his ERA at 4.59.

On the other hand, Castro does seem to have a knack for limiting hard contact. According to Fangraphs, only 31% of balls in play against him get classified as "hard" hit balls. By way of contrast, 41% of balls put in play by Chris Davis fall under the banner of hard contact. Castro may simply be a pitcher who substitutes being hard to barrel up with his "good stuff" for missing bats entirely and racking up strikeouts. And even if you do use his FIP as an indication of true talent, at 4.59 he'd be right at the league average mark.

The Orioles would KILL to add a league average starter right now, let alone one controllable for several more seasons.

On a similar note, somehow Duquette isn't getting nearly enough credit for stealing Tim Beckham at the deadline. Yes we know how productive Beckham has been since the trade and the huge impact he's had on the team's offense and playoff chances. But what hasn't been talked about enough is what a good profile Beckham had in year's prior.

While the common refrain is that Beckham's turn towards tearing the cover off of the ball night in and night out came out of nowhere, the truth is that he was a very productive player last year. Beckham was basically a league average hitter in 2016, hitting .247/.300/.434, but he paired that with slightly above average defense at shortstop and ended up being worth 1.1 fWAR in just 215 at bats.

If you extrapolate that out to a full 600 plate appearances, Beckham would have been one of the 10 most valuable shortstops in all of baseball. Normally I would say you couldn't expect things to work out that way, but a) we're talking about league average hitting here, not MVP caliber stuff and b) there's plenty of reason to think that a young layer like Beckham would be MORE productive offensively with regular playing time. But Beckham's stat line and scouting profile in front of most people without telling them that he was a former #1 overall pick who hadn't come along as fast as he was expected to and any evaluator would identify him as a choice asset.

Right after the deadline I remember someone (and honestly it might have been Drew) saying that they wished Duquette had "worked harder" at the deadline. That was in reference to "selling" assets like Zach Britton and Brad Brach, and the comment struck me as very odd.

Trading away big leaguers everyone knows is good is fairly easy and very straight forward. All you have to do is let the rest of the league know they're available and then field offers. You might take things to the last minute to increase your leverage, but there's not really a lot of "work" to do. If a team like Houston just isn't willing to give up what you want in return for Britton, there's not really anything you can do about it.

The "work" that makes a difference coming out of the front office manifests itself in moves like the Beckham trade. The fact that Duquette only had to give up Tobias Myers, a sixth round pick in last year's draft, to get Beckham speaks to the fact that the former top pick wasn't on anyone else's radar, and looks like a clear example of Duquette outsmarting the rest of the league. That's a front office doing their homework and finding a bona fide steal on the market, just like they did in picking up Castro, a pitcher with a 98 MPH fastball who some prospect junkies had listed in the top 10 of a good Rockies system.

None of this is to say that Duquette and his deputies are perfect and never make mistakes.

They'd love to have Bridwell pitching in Baltimore as much as any fan would I'm sure. But Duquette has had far more hits than he's had misses when it comes to scouring the flotsam and jetsam of the MLB transaction report, and that's made a big difference to the Orioles' fortunes since 2012.

The cadre of fans and commentators who seem to think that anyone could manage the roster as well as Duquette has, and are yearning for a new GM yesterday, are making a big mistake in undervaluing what Duquette has accomplished in Baltimore, and how much of that falls squarely on the talent he has identified and acquired that wasn't on anyone else's radar.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


With the first international break of the season looming and a crazy summer transfer window mercifully coming to a close in just seven days, Matchday 3 of the English Premier League will kick off to give teams one last chance to evaluate their squads before any last-ditch attempts at improvement until the winter transfer window opens in January. Tune in to catch all of the weekend action as we get a chance to all catch our collective breath before the season ramps up, with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, August 26 (all times eastern)

12:30pm – Leicester City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC

After a wild 4-3 defeat to Arsenal on the opening weekend, where they were unable to hold a late one goal lead, Leicester City had little trouble picking up their first three points of the campaign when a goal on either side of the halftime whistle without reply helped them cruise to a 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion. They will face a much more difficult test on the road in Saturday primetime when they travel to Old Trafford to square off with Manchester United, who moved top of the table when, for the second time in as many weeks, notched a 4-0 victory with Swansea City their latest victim.

It has been a dream start for United and manager Jose Mourinho in his second season which, if history is any indication, should be a welcome sign for the footballing giants and their faithful as Mourinho has won the domestic league title in his second season in charge at all five of his previous managerial stops. They will be confident of continuing their perfect start to the year at the weekend, having failed to pick up points in only two of their twenty-two all time Premier League meetings with Leicester City (W14 D6), including the last eight times the Foxes have visited Old Trafford (W6 D2).

Sunday, August 27 (all times eastern)

8:30am – Everton @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

Chelsea put their opening weekend debacle behind them when a brace from Marco Alonso, the second of which came two minutes from full time, gave the defending champs their first win of the year over rivals Tottenham 2-1. They will return to Stamford Bridge to kick off the Sunday slate of matches, hoping to put in a better performance than the egg they laid their first time out in front of their home fans this year against Everton, who despite being up both a goal and a man before halftime, were unable to hold off Manchester City but are nonetheless likely happy with a point in a 1-1 draw.

While any points earned on the road in the Premier League are precious, Everton missed a glorious opportunity to lay down a marker as a dark horse for the top four and now face a daunting road trip in back to back weeks with a trip to London, where Chelsea have not lost back to back home matches in the league since November 2011 and where the Toffees have been dismal, dropping five of their last six (D1) and failing to take all three points in their last twenty-two league meetings at Stamford Bridge (L12 D10), winning only two of their last ten top flight meetings with the Blues overall (L7 D1).

11am – Arsenal @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is already under the gun after an early season loss to unheralded Stoke City last weekend.

Despite controlling large portions of the game and having more than their fair chances to earn a result, Arsenal came away empty handed when Jese Rodriguez, making his first appearance for Stoke City since his loan move from PSG the week before, struck just after halftime to give the Potters all three points in a 1-0 victory. They will travel to Merseyside to take on Liverpool at Anfield for a tough road matchup ahead of the first international break of the season, with the Reds still trying to find their footing on the young season but grabbing their first win in a lack luster 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

While the end result may have been less than convincing, it was certainly a step in the right direction for Liverpool as we come to an end of what has so far been a tumultuous summer, with more questions than answers still surrounding the makeup of manager Jurgen Klopp’s squad and the continued advances from Barcelona for star midfielder Phillipe Coutinho although, unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Gunners and in their last four get togethers at Anfield (W2 D2), they could enter the short break sitting pretty with a more than respectable seven point haul from a possible nine.

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Thursday
August 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 24
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more than ever before, nfl better hope the football is good


We're a week away from the start of another NFL season and, I assume, another New England Patriots title.

But these days, there's not a lot of actual "football talk" going on. Instead, all we're hearing and reading about are protests, disgruntled players and a back-up quarterback who can't find work.

Oh, and the TV ratings for the NFL are down. And people are giving up their seats. Just yesterday on my Facebook page, I saw three longtime Ravens fans putting their PSL's up for sale. They're not just selling their tickets. They're selling themselves out of being fans of the team and the league.

I'm not sure how this all happened to the NFL. Some would call it justifiable karma for the way the league has stood at the top of the mountain and pounded their chest. Maybe this is what happens when you allow a handful of teams to jump from city-to-city because they're only making millions instead of billions.

It's clear the NFL is King, still, but I'm not sure for how much longer.

There's a palpable sense of disconnect in the air these days. Not all of that is the NFL's fault, either. The nation has somehow divided itself into two distinct groups; one understands there's still a price to pay for fame and fortune, the other wants it handed to them on a silver platter. And please, please, please don't offend anyone with a word or a tweet -- and don't let your first and last name connect you with a confederate soldier -- or else you're up for scrutiny and review.

So, in some ways, the NFL has become part of this issue not by their own doing.

The Colin Kaepernick situation has turned into one of the biggest stories in league history. Player overreactions, protests by people outside of NFL headquarters, tweets from Kaepernick's girlfriend essentially comparing Steve Bisciotti to a slave owner.

All because he can't find a job in the league.

And here's the funniest part of it all. No one campaigning for Kaepernick is able to say without question that he could return to the league and be a competent, contributing player. They think he could, but there's no guarantee. This isn't Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Ben Roethlisberger we're talking about.

The league has other problems besides Kaepernick, though. Off-field player behavior -- despite severe penalties -- continues to run out of control and the league is forced to suspend players and face the public scrutiny consequences. The pre-game national anthem story has morphed into something much bigger than it ever needed to be. Before the first ball is even kicked off, someone from the AP has to file a piece on which players took a knee during the Star Spangled Banner.

More than ever, the NFL needs the upcoming football season to be captivating.

And by captivating, I'm not talking about a bunch of goofs protesting for some guy who can't find a new team.

I'm talking about the games on the field. Things that matter. Who won? Who lost? Who made the best throw? Who made the best catch?

The quality of play in the league has shifted a bit in the wrong direction over the last few years. The rules are crazy, the NFL's concussion fear has changed the style of play, and the officiating has been shaky at times. It's still football, yes, but the game has changed so much that the quality of play has been affected.

Somehow, the NFL needs to catch lightning-in-a-bottle and get back to the good old days.

I'm not sure how they can do that. As the saying goes, "the genie's out of the bottle now". But this season, more than ever, the NFL needs high quality football to shift the attention away from protests and national anthems and domestic violence charges.

The games need to catch and keep our attention. Let the protests go on, so no one gets their feelings hurt, but for football's sake, let's hope the games and the excitement overshadow the other stuff that's front and center these days.

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manny to the rescue after britton blows a lead


It was bound to happen at some point, but no one figured Zach Britton's save streak would end at the hands of the team with the worst batting average in the American League.

Thankfully, Manny Machado didn't let Wednesday's game become a complete failure.

It took nearly two years, but Zach Britton finally blew a save opportunity on Wednesday at Camden Yards.

Machado cranked his 28th home run of the season in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Birds an 8-7 win over the A's yesterday. It was a critical victory on a number of accounts. While a number of teams in the A.L. wild card race were losing, the O's were winning. And it avoided losing two of three at home to the lowly Athletics.

The game ventured into extra innings because Zach Britton, for the first time in nearly two calendar years, couldn't protect a lead in the 9th inning. The O's closer allowed Oakland to score twice in the 9th to tie it up and was so out of sorts that he was actually removed and replaced with Miguel Castro, who wiggled out of the mess left by Britton and helped keep the game deadlocked.

The blown save ended Britton's consecutive-saves streak at 60.

Dylan Bundy got the start and probably deserved a better fate. He allowed seven hits and three earned runs in six innings of work. Bundy struck out eight and walked none. His ERA is 4.18 now. Not great, by any means, but "league average" stuff.

Adam Jones struck out four times on Wednesday. That sort of accomplishment is typically saved for Chris Davis, but it was Jones with the hole in his bat yesterday. Davis hit his 20th home run in the bottom of the 8th inning to give the Birds a 7-5 lead, which helped ease the pain of a base-running blunder from Tim Beckham in the bottom of the 7th that potentially cost the Birds a much-needed insurance run.

It's on to Fenway Park now for a big weekend series with the Red Sox, who are 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the A.L. East.

And then the Birds come back home for a key series with the Mariners (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and four-game set with the Blue Jays starting next Thursday.

The O's are now 62-65 on the year, 3.5 games behind the Twins in the race for the second wild card spot.

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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.


“What we have to walk away from is a desire by some to erase parts of our history just in the name of some contemporary political cause.”

That’s what Vice President Mike Pence said two days ago, during a live television interview, when asked about the removal of Confederate monuments.

Let’s parse that for a second…

It’s possible to have a reasoned discussion about these monuments, I believe.

They clearly are painful for many people, both for what they represent and for the fact that most of them were built decades after the Civil War. At the same time, they are just stone and brick. Often, they were meant simply to honor men who died at war, even if it’s a war that seems unfathomable to us 150 years later.

But how does that discussion stem from a desire to erase our history? If anything, it speaks to a desire to further examine our history. Yes, what happened can’t be erased. Yes, our opinions on what happened can and do change.

The key phrase in Mr. Pence’s statement are the last three words though.

“Contemporary political cause.”

Does the Vice President really think that the inclination to question our institutions in relation to bigotry, hate and racism is a “contemporary political cause?”

That’s a problem with the people who posted videos online burning Colin Kaepernick jerseys, who call him an embarrassment and a traitor, who want to turn in their season tickets if their team signs him. They think he, and Megan Rapinoe, and the guys on the Cleveland Browns, are part of some “cause” that started the day Kaepernick sat during the national anthem.

It’s easy to blame the whole thing on Colin Kaepernick, who sat and then kneeled and then explained why. It’s easy to take his actions and use them to comment on his entire generation. It’s a lot harder to actually look beyond him.

Even Mike Pence doesn’t seem to be able to do it.

But most people are smarter than that, I think. Besides that, they’re too busy to let two minutes in the life of Colin Kaepernick or 12 guys on the Browns affect their own lives, or to get in the way of rooting interests they’ve had since they were kids.

What they want, instead, is one of two things, or maybe both.

One, they want athletes to protest on their own time, perhaps not publicly, and not as part of their “work.”

Two, they want athletes (and everyone else) to treat the national anthem, and all the traditions around it, as sacred. Not to be touched, so to speak.

So let’s parse those, if we can.

There’s a school of thought that an NFL game, whether during the national anthem or at any other time, is simply the wrong public forum for protests. If 12 players on the Browns get involved in a rally on their own time, and then show up at the stadium at 10 a.m. on Sunday with none of that on their minds, then there won’t be much to say.

Then again, NFL players are public figures, no matter how anonymous some of them are. While we respect their personal and family privacy, their work (all week, not just on game days) is heavily scrutinized, analyzed and sometimes even recorded.

And it’s true, most of us don’t go to a concert to hear the political (or non-political) views of the band. Forget the varied political views of the audience; they’ve spent their money for entertainment, of a specific variety, whether that’s 1990s alternative music or professional football.

All of which is to say…I can understand why NFL players want to use game days to make their point. They have a bully pulpit, and they feel empowered by our mass media to use it.

If Springsteen can do it and still be popular, why can’t they do it and still retain popularity? Is it because football players aren’t supposed to do that? Well if you’re looking to keep players from making individual statements, the worst thing to do is tell them "no". Did Jim McMahon really care when they asked him to stop wearing “Rozelle” on his headband?

The second one is of bigger concern to me, and to most of the people who question Kaepernick’s behavior either calmly or with fire in their eyes. The Star-Spangled Banner…well it means something important, and the fact that he obviously doesn’t feel the same way is a real problem.

“Please stand,” says the public address announcer, “to honor America, and to celebrate its freedom and those who protect it.”

So if you don’t stand, for whatever reason, you’re not honoring America, celebrating its freedom and those who protect it. And how can you respect any American that doesn’t honor America, celebrate its freedom and those who protect it? Case closed, right?

But what’s worse, not standing for a reason, or standing for no reason?

I’m not sure I agree with what Colin Kaepernick did, and like many of you I wouldn’t have done it. But one thing it has done is make me think about that last question.

I’ve listened to the national anthem before sporting events in 38 states, in front of “friends and family” at small college volleyball matches and in Notre Dame Stadium before a sold-out football game. I’ve pushed a button on a 1990s boom box to play a cassette tape of the anthem, and I’ve set up wireless microphones in front of an a cappella group about to sing it.

I love a good a cappella rendition, and the big pep band playing the anthem at a Maryland basketball game is cool too. Personally, I’m kind of traditional; I’d prefer that singers do away with embellishments, perform it somewhere between too slow and too fast and get the words right.

But I’ve never once listened to the national anthem at a sporting event and thought it was anything but a nice tradition. Color guard or not, I’ve never thought about it in terms of the military or the police. It might be our most famous patriotic song, but it never feels patriotic to me like it would in an Independence Day parade.

Maybe I need to think about it differently, because it’s obvious that many people do, and strongly. And I can appreciate that.

But you have to admit that Colin Kaepernick was thinking about it differently too. Whether you call him a warrior for social justice, a guy looking for attention or a disgruntled American, the anthem made him think too. And I can appreciate that.

The truth is that the ones who’ve followed Colin Kaepernick, and the ones who wouldn’t follow him anywhere, are probably both better than I am. I’ll try to learn from both of them.

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only 8 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 8 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.



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Wednesday
August 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 23
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espn can give itself an espy now -- "dumbest thing done in sports 2017"


I've seen a lot of dumb things in my 54-plus years on this earth. But there's no way I've ever seen anything more silly or stupid than what ESPN did yesterday. No way.

A sportscaster named Robert Lee was supposed to be handling the play-by-play this season for ESPN's broadcast of University of Virginia football. The "world wide leader" announced on Tuesday they were pulling Lee from the broadcasts in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville ten days ago.

They're pulling him from the broadcasts because his name is -- Robert Lee. As in Robert "E" Lee, the famed Confederate general. Except broadcaster Lee doesn't have the "E". And he's Asian. Other than than that, he's just like his namesake.

You can't believe it either, right? I'm right there with you.

It's without question the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life.

The guy on the left was a Confederate general. The guy on the right is a sports broadcaster. ESPN thinks you'll be offended if the one on the right calls football games at the University of Virgina.

ESPN's statement on Tuesday went like this: “We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name. In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue.”

In the moment, it must have felt like you all were a bunch of overreacting imbeciles, too.

They took a guy off a television sports broadcast because his name is Robert Lee.

That's what ESPN is doing as "their part" to help stitch up the wounds of what's left behind in the aftermath of the Charlottesville incident.

I can't get over it. Can Dick Vitale still do basketball games on the network or does his first name brush too closely with a vulgar term sometimes used to refer to the male anatomy?

Let's hope no college basketball player named John Booth comes along anytime soon. ESPN might not air his games.

If there's an aspiring sports broadcaster out there named David Berkowitz, you might want to consider changing your name, pal. Or at least your last one, anyway.

Those two examples don't hit as close to home as the "Robert E. Lee vs. Robert Lee" discussion, but you get the point. Where will this madness end? When will people in this country stop being so offended by trivial garbage?

I'm not sure whether or not it even matters that Robert-Lee-the-broadcaster is Asian, but it does add to the stupidity. And you mean to tell me someone watching the Virginia football game and hearing the broadcaster say, "I'm Robert Lee and welcome to today's game" is going to offend them?

If you're offended by an Asian sportscaster named Robert Lee calling a Virginia Cavaliers football game on TV in 2017, you, my friend, are part of the problem in this country. You are not part of the solution. No, no, no. You're the problem.

ESPN has lost its mind. They've always thought themselves to be just a tad too cutting edge anyway, but this one is their gold-medal moment. They likely couldn't have done anything more dumb than to pull Robert Lee from a broadcaster because his name is shared by a Confederate general.

Every July, ESPN gathers the biggest names in sports and entertainment and holds a one-night pat-on-the-back for themselves where they hand out a bunch of meaningless awards for the sports year gone by. They cover the event like it's the Grammy's and make themselves out to be the the judge and jury of all things sports.

Next year, they'll have no problem at all finding a winner for "Jackass moment of 2017". If that category doesn't already exist, they can go ahead and add it to their catalog.

And they can give that award to -- ESPN.

There are still four months left in 2017, but there's simply no way anyone can do anything more dumb than what ESPN did this week. You can try, but you can't do it. They've already won the 2017 award up there in Bristol, Connecticut.

Congrats ESPN. You've now added your name to the growing ranks of folks in this country who are part of the problem, not the solution.

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orioles fall to lowly athletics, 6-4


Let's start with a confession. I didn't see last night's Orioles game. I was downtown, though, taking in the Goo Goo Dolls show at Pier VI, which also included Phillip Phillips as the opening act.

I made the right decision, I'd say.

Ubaldo Jimenez wasn't up to the task against the bottom-feeding A's last night, as the O's fell further behind in the A.L. Wild Card race.

Phillips was oustanding in his 55-minute set and the Goo Goo Dolls, like they've done every time I've seen them, tore it up for two hours. I've said for a long time that Johnny Rzeznik is one of the premier lead singers in all of rock-n-roll and he confirmed that again last night.

Meanwhile, the Orioles, a mile or so away, were losing to the last place Oakland A's, 6-4.

I did sneak several peeks at my social media timeline during the show and saw a bunch of people crushing Ubaldo Jimenez, who gave up three home runs to the A's and was charged with five earned runs in five innings of work.

I have maintained this all season. You can blame Jimenez if you like, but he's not inserting himself into the starting rotation. He's been put there by Buck Showalter and, to some degree, Dan Duquette.

If you're constantly wondering why Jimenez is pitching and giving up 6.57 earned runs per-nine-innings, those two men are responsible for it. They haven't given up 29 home runs, that's true. Jimenez has done that. But he wouldn't be surrending those gopher balls unless he was told to go to the mound and pitch.

The loss was damaging for the Orioles (61-65), as they are now 4.5 games behind Minnesota (65-60) and have three other teams (K.C., Los Angeles, Seattle) above .500 in front of them as well.

Manny Machado hit a 2-run homer last night and Jonathan Schoop knocked in a pair of runs with a single. And that was that, as the O's dropped a game to a team that has no business beating them, particularly at Camden Yards.

But when you send a home-run throwing pitcher out there and he serves up a few early meatballs, anything can happen. To be fair, Darren O'Day also gave up a homer (to Khris Davis, in the 9th), but it was Jimenez who gave up two long balls in the first inning and another later on as the O's fell behind 5-0.

That drops the O's "magic number" to 11 for the rest of the season. In an effort to go 86-76 and secure the second wild card spot in the A.L., the Birds can only lose 11 more games this season. They have to finish up the campaign by going 25-11.

It's not over yet, but the Fat Lady's limousine has pulled up to her place and is ready to take her downtown to sing.

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


You might have missed it over the weekend, but Major League Baseball umpires staged a league wide protest demanding Commissioner Rob Manfred impose a harsher punishment on Tigers' second baseman Ian Kinsler.

As Drew wrote about last week, Kinsler was ejected for arguing balls and strikes with Angel Hernandez and then blasted both Hernandez's strike zone and behavior after the game, going so far as to openly call for Hernandez to find another line of work.

Kinsler was fined $10,000 for the comments, an unusually high amount for the infraction, but that wasn't good enough for the umpires' union.

Angel Hernandez (left) and Ian Kinsler (right).

So over the weekend, umpires' wore white armbands to call for a heftier penalty and to demand actions on "escalating verbal attacks" on umpires. Of course, officials singling out an individual player and demanding punishment merely proves critics of the imbalance of power between the umpires and players and the selective professionalism of the men in blue to be absolutely correct.

Anytime a borderline call goes against Kinsler it will be fair to wonder if the umpire making the call is biased against him.

This sort of behavior on the part of umpires has been a festering problem in MLB for years now.

Part of it is that baseball has a much different culture when it comes to umpire influence on the game than the other major sports do, particularly when it comes to interacting with players. There simply isn't any other game that gives officials as much unquestioned leeway to eject players and coaches from a game as baseball does.

The NFL, in particular, is at nearly the total opposite end of the spectrum, favoring penalties over ejections for basically everything short of throwing a punch at another player or making contact with a referee. But tossing a starting left guard or a head coach for arguing about a holding call? That's simply unheard of.

Baseball, on the other hand, gives umpires a demonstrative, overly dramatic hand gesture that allows them to draw the attention of the entire stadium to them when they eject someone. They even let umpires eject people for chirping at them from the dugout!

Not all umpires are noticeably bad when it comes to handling tense situations with the detached professionalism you'd expect from professional officials, but there's at least half a dozen umpires who every baseball fan knows for being hot-headed instigators all too eager to make themselves the center of attention, and Angel Hernandez is at or near the top of every version of that list.

But the fact that Hernandez is the umpire at the center of this controversy is interesting for another reason that's been curiously lacking from every analysis of the situation I've seen so far. Last month, Hernandez sued Major League Baseball, claiming that his lack of World Series assignments and failure to win a promotion to crew chief was because MLB's practices were racially discriminatory.

Hernandez also accused Joe Torre, who oversees umpires, of being biased against him personally based on animosity from Torre's days as a manager (that would seem to conflict with his discrimination claims to me, but I'm not a discrimination lawyer).

Is there merit to the lawsuit? I doubt it.

First of all, Hernandez is a terrible umpire and everyone knows it. When the lawsuit was filed the AP reported that MLB's response to Hernandez and the union when the umpire was denied a crew chief position was that, among other things, Hernandez needed to improve at handling situations in game as well as moving on from mistakes and criticism from the league.

Or, in other words, he's incredibly thin skinned about his screw ups and he compensates for that by having a hair trigger whenever a player or coach let's him hear about it. This is literally the first thing every baseball fan who's closely watched games for, say, three months knows about Angel Hernandez.

Hernandez claims that his reviews were much more positive before Torre took over the position, but that could simply be a matter of Torre, rightly, putting a higher emphasis on umpire behavior towards coaches and players than his predecessors in his evaluations.

On the other hand, only 10 of 92 MLB umpires are non-white, a ridiculously low number for a sport where over 40% of players are non-white, so I'm not inclined to dismiss the notion that the league is biased in their hiring out of hand. Especially since baseball doesn't do a good job at all when it comes to getting minorities into management or administrative positions, and seems to be especially bad when it comes to Hispanics.

However, if Hernandez honestly believes this is a problem and isn't just trying to shakedown the league office, he might consider having a conversation with his own union about it. That's because if there's one reason why umpiring would be dominated by white guys that immediately stands out to me, it's that there is virtually no turnover in employment on a year to year basis. Umpires basically never get fired, no matter how bad they are, and I'm confident there are some very capable minority umpires out there who will never crack the big league level because Joe West, Phil Cuzzi, and Ted Barrett have their jobs guaranteed for life.

Perhaps Hernandez can put some action to his words and push for the next labor agreement to make it easier to replace umpires who just aren't good enough for the big leagues. He won't, of course, because he'd probably be the first one fired for being terrible at his job, and everyone knows it. That includes all of those umpires wearing white arm bands too.

The great irony though is that Kinsler may well end up getting the last laugh here.

That's because, while they might have been compelled to levy a hefty fine for his comments, they'll also be more than happy to point to the comments made by Kinsler (who is Jewish) as evidence that Hernandez's claims to being a good umpire are ridiculous.

Kinsler's harsh and unrepentant attack on Hernandez serves as a strong piece of evidence that Hernandez is widely viewed as both terrible at calling a game behind the plate and excessively unprofessional in handling a game.

If they want, they can add this column to the record as well. Maybe MLB needs to do a better job of hiring minorities in places they're underrepresented right now, but that doesn't change the fact that Angel Hernandez needs to find a new line of work for himself.

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Tuesday
August 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 22
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it might be time for a national anthem change in the nfl


For a long, long time, NFL players never stood on the field for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The anthem was played while the teams were still in their respective locker rooms, mostly a nod to television, with the networks trying to cram in as many pre-game commercials as they could.

That changed in 2009 when the NFL started taking marketing money from the likes of U.S. Defense Department and the league wanted to make a bigger spectacle of the anthem, so they had both teams come out to the field and participate in the pre-game ceremony.

It's not my money, granted, but it's time for the league to go back to the "old way" and keep the players in the locker room right up until kick-off. If that means not taking millions from the U.S. government in exchange for having the players remain in the locker room for the anthem, so be it.

Twelve members of the Cleveland Browns took a knee last night during the playing of the national anthem. That's enough. Let's stop this stuff once and for all. Keep the players in the locker room, play the anthem for the fans, the majority of which appreciate it, and let's make the NFL more about football again and less about political and social aggravations.

The 12 Browns players were kneeling and praying in unison during the anthem on Monday night. I respect that. But that same sort of gathering can be done in the locker room prior to the game or, even, on the field just prior to kick-off.

A prayer is a prayer is a prayer -- right? It doesn't really matter whether it occurs in the locker room, in private, or on the field during the national anthem, for all to see. Get it?

"There's a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now," rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said after the Browns' second win in two preseason games. "We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general."

There's nothing wrong with that concept at all. Except that it shouldn't be done during the national anthem.

I realize we're a changing society. Things that were widely accepted in, say, 1977, are no longer blessed by everyone in 2017. But making the national anthem a focal point of sporting events just feels wrong. It's like we're pointing out the bad more than appreciating the good. And we're using the Star Spangled Banner as the tool to create even more tension, particularly in the NFL.

The players are starting to remind me of Eddie Vedder, the legendary lead singer of the band, Pearl Jam. Vedder has become a major political activist over the last decade or more and spends a considerable portion of each concert bellyaching about the U.S. government and political affilations that aren't in line with his way of thinking.

At some point, you just want to scream, "Dude, we don't care! Really! Just play "Jeremy" for us and get on with the show!"

I'm starting to get that way with NFL players who use the pre-game platform to broadcast their anger or frustration with the ways of the world.

"Guys, please...just play football. That's why we're here. We want to see some touchdown throws, a few big hits over the middle, and a win for the home team. Please stop with the political stuff and just play football for us." That's what I'd say now, in light of the latest Cleveland Browns "spotlight grabbing moment" on Monday.

The NFL should still encourage players to be advocates for change. But they should be gathering and kneeling and "protesting" in the locker room before the game. Not standing for the national anthem shouldn't be tolerated by the league, in my opinion.

So, the easiest way to remedy this is to simply go back to the way it was prior to 2009. Just play the national anthem while the teams are still in the locker room. If it worked out fine circa 2000, why can't it work just as well now?

I know what's next, of course. So do you. If the NFL moved the anthem into a position in the pre-game ceremony where the players weren't yet on the field, they'd likely protest that change of structure, too.

"We want the anthem played while we're out there," the players would say.

They didn't care in 2006 or 2008. But they care now.

At football games, we should be caring more about Flacco touchdown throws, Harbaugh challenges, and Tucker field goals. We're caring more about the national anthem than the football game these days and that's not getting us anywhere.

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birds hit four homers, beat a's, 7-3


Two home runs from Adam Jones and one each from Jonathan Schoop and Welington Castillo gave the Orioles a much-needed 7-3 win at Camden Yards last night.

Hardly anyone was there to see it, unfortunately. They announced 16,020 as the attendance which, we know, is "tickets sold" and not bodies in the stadium. I was at Camden Yards last night. There might have been 12,000 live, breathing spectators there.

Are these still the dog days of August? Maybe that explains it...

The victory moves the O's to 61-64 on the season and moves them to within 3.5 games of Minnesota and the second wild card spot in the American League.

Despite adding four walks to his league leading total, Wade Miley won for the third time in four starts last night in the O's 7-3 win over the A's.

Oakland scratched out a run in the top of the 2nd and could have had more if not for a bone-headed baserunning mistake by Chad Pinder, who was thrown out at home trying to advance from first base on a double off the right field wall. The Birds tied it up at 1-1 in the bottom half of the inning on a Mark Trumbo sacrifice fly.

Jones (solo), Schoop (3-run HR) and Castillo (solo) would homer later on to put the game away. Wade Miley got the start, going six innings and allowing just five hits and two earned runs. He walked four and struck out six while improving to 7-10 on the season.

Zach Britton came on for a four-pitch save in the top of the 9th after the A's put runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs.

The Birds picked up some much needed ground in the wild card race. Minnesota (64-60) split a doubleheader in Chicago with the White Sox, the Angels (65-61) lost at home to Texas (62-62) and the Mariners (64-62) beat the Braves in Atlanta. Kansas City was idle.

It's only a 3.5 game deficit, yes, but the O's still have to climb over five teams to squeeze their way into the second wild card spot. In a lot of cases down the stretch, competing teams play one another (like last night in Los Angeles where the Angels played the Rangers), so while someone above you is guaranteed to lose, someone else is guaranteed to win.

I see from the Comments section below that lots of folks have driven a stake through the Orioles and their playoff hopes.

It doesn't appear like they have the goods to make it, I'll admit that. But baseball is a weird, weird game. You can lose 8 of 10 and then turn around and win 8 of 10. That, of course, puts a team on a 10-10 pace, record wise, and for the Orioles, playing the final 37 games at .500 won't be good enough. But they do still have a chance...

I do understand the uphill battle the Birds face, but I'm not giving up on them just yet. Two more wins over the A's and two wins in Boston this weekend would put the Birds at 65-65 heading into the final month of the season. Can they go from 65-65 to 86-76? Unlikely. But maybe this is the year something like 84-78 snags one of those two wild card spots.

If 84-78 gets the job done, the Birds would need to finish 23-14 to reach that mark. If they win these next two from Oakland and two of three in Boston, that mark is suddenly reduced to having to go 19-13 in the final 32 games. Seems a little more reasonable when you look at it like that.

I'm doing my best to stay positive, mostly because the standings tell me this thing is far from over. And, honestly, who among the eight teams with wild card hopes is all that imposing? The Yankees are decent, but once you get past them, everyone else is basically a .500 team. Someone needs to get hot and win 10 of 15 over the next two weeks. Maybe it's the Orioles who do that.

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only 10 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 10 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Monday
August 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 21
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


a sweep of the a's is all o's need


Yes, it's not looking too good for the Birds right now. I wouldn't say this is a "dire" situation by any means, but at 60-64 and now four games behind the Angels and Twins for the second wild card spot, the Orioles need to make something happen. Now.

That "something" comes in tonight and they look like the Oakland A's, owners of the second lowest win total in the American League.

If the O's hope to pull themselves back into the thick of the race, they have to sweep all three games from Oakland this week at Camden Yards.

Four earned runs allowed in 5.1 innings of work -- plus ten base runners -- wasn't good enough from Chris Tillman on Sunday.

The Birds basically have 12 more games they can afford to lose before the playoff door closes for 2017. Based on the trends of the last five seasons in the A.L., it's going to take a record of 86-76 to make the post-season. At 60-64, the Orioles are left with being able to afford just 12 losses in their remaining 38 games.

Hmmmmm, maybe it is "dire" after all. It's hard to imagine a team that has played 124 games with a record of 60-64 can somehow go 26-12 to close out the season.

Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Angels was particularly frustrating in that the O's had gobs of chances to tie or go ahead in the middle and late stages of the ballgame and couldn't do it. With speedy Craig Gentry at second base in the 9th inning representing the tying run, Caleb Joseph struck out and Tim Beckham grounded out to end the game and hand the O's their second straight loss.

If not for Friday's "Manny Night" at Camden Yards and the 9-7 victory in the series opener, the O's would have lost all three to the Angels.

Machado made an error on Sunday (that didn't cost the team a run, thankfully) and was thrown out at home trying to advance on a ground ball in the 6th when the O's mounted a 3-run rally to tie the game at 4-4. It wasn't quite the same electric performance as the one that single-handedly beat the Angels on Friday night.

Chris Tillman got the start for the O's on Sunday and wasn't all that impressive. He pitched 5.1 innings and allowed just four hits. That's a decent enough stat. But he walked six batters and gave up four earned runs as well. That's...not...a good stat. Tillman got the start because the Birds are starting to stretch Dylan Bundy out a bit so he doesn't get into 200-innings-pitched territory.

To rub salt in the wound, Sunday's game was closed out by erstwhile Oriole Bud Norris, who couldn't hit water from a boat when he was in Baltimore, but has now started to prosper as a closer with the Angels. That fist pump at the end of yesterday's 5-4 win was a little more emphatic than it needed to be. He's lucky he doesn't come to the plate with a bat in his hand 3-4 times a game. (I said it for you).

After Oakland's visit, the Birds head to Fenway for a weekend series with the Red Sox, then come back home to face the Seattle Mariners, who are also battling for one of the two wild card spots in the American League.

We're getting really close to officially entering "scoreboard watching" time.

Truth of the matter, I've been doing it for about two weeks now.

Over the weekend, I played in a golf tournament out in Oakland, MD with my friend Dale Williams, and he caught me enthusiastically reacting to a Tampa Bay loss on Saturday. "They're done," I said. "The O's don't have to worry about the Rays anymore."

"What are you looking at?" he asked. "The scores of other teams? You think the Orioles are that close to the playoffs that you have to start scoreboard watching?"

I do, yes. Or, at least, I am. The Orioles clearly aren't in control of their own destiny. They need the likes of Kansas City, Minnesota, Seattle and Los Angeles to hit a major bump in the road and lose 8 of 10 while the Birds win 8 of 10. Just like that, we'd be a playoff team.

I know that's improbable. Those four teams collectively aren't all going 2-8 and the Birds likely aren't going 8-2.

It's actually starting to look pretty bleak, isn't it?

I'm going to keep on keeping on, though, until they put that "x" next to the Orioles in the standings (x - denotes eliminated from playoffs). I seem to remember doing this same exercise at this time last year and it all turned out well for the Birds, who scratched their way to a playoff spot on the final day of the season in New York.

As long as there's hope, you keep on figuring out the numbers and look at the schedules of everyone involved and see if there's any light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking of schedules, here's what's happening this week for the A.L. wild card contenders.

Yankees -- home vs. Arizona (2), at Detroit (2), home vs. Seattle (3)

Minnesota -- at Chicago White Sox (4), at Toronto (3)

Los Angeles -- home vs. Texas (4), home vs. Houston (3)

Seattle -- at Atlanta (3), at New York Yankees (3)

Kansas City -- home vs. Colorado (3), at Cleveland (3)

Not only am I scoreboard watching, I'm "schedule watching" as well.

That's what happens when you're not in control of your own destiny. You need other teams to help you.

But the first order of business for the Birds is a sweep of the A's. That's critical, to say the least.

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about those female pro golfers


I saw in yesterday's Comments below where Mike in Catonsville brought up the subject of the women playing in the Solheim Cup and he went on to wonder aloud how local amateur men would compete with them if given the opportunity.

I'm not 100% sure why this debate was started in the first place, but I'll play along.

It is fair to note, though, that there aren't many sports where comparing men's and women's performances make any sense at all. And golf is one of them, primarily because of the distances of the courses the men play vs. those played by the ladies.

Could you beat any of these women who played on the American Solheim Cup team this past weekend? I'll answer that for you: No. Not at their golf course, you couldn't.

Mike had someone at his club (whom I know very well and have played with at least two dozen times in my life) shoot a 28 on the front nine at Rolling Road on Sunday. For those that don't know the course, that's a 7-under score, as the front (and back) there is a par-35.

That's great golf, obviously.

Mike believes his club-mate could beat the women on the LPGA Tour. He also said if I "concentrated more" (I actually try to concentrate less these days when I play golf) and practiced every single day (I need it) that perhaps I could compete with the best the LPGA has to offer.

Probably not.

Taking nothing away from the gentleman at Rolling Road who has been a dominant player there and on the amateur scene for the better part of two decades now, if any local amateur went up against a strong LPGA field and played the golf course THEY were playing (6,300 yards or thereabouts), the LPGA players -- at least the top 10, anyway -- would win.

Now, if you put those LPGA players on a 7,000 yard course, the results might be different. I still think it would be very tough to beat the best players on the LPGA Tour, but the result would be more in question on a 7,000 yard course than on a 6,300 yard course.

Those ladies are really, really good. They're much better than you/we think they are, that's for sure.

For whatever reason, women have traditionally been average putters. That's the biggest difference between the top LPGA players and anyone playing on the PGA Tour. The men all have superior short games and putting acumen.

Men are obviously much longer off the tee, but remember, we're narrowing the length of the golf course to even out the driving data. On a 430 yard hole, the men would mostly hit driver, wedge. On a 330-yard hole, the women would also hit driver, wedge or, at worst, a nine iron into the green.

The best LPGA players (I don't know who they are, but they're all Asian) would be well under par at any 6,000-6,300 yard course they encountered. They might need a few practice round days, granted, but once they learned the nuances of the course, they'd be under par for four days.

They hit it straight off the tee, do the LPGA players, and then hit their irons in the middle of the club and (mostly) up onto the green. It's not overpowering, by any means, but it's very, very simple. Hit it in the fairway, hit it on the green, and occasionally make a birdie putt.

There aren't many male amateurs -- even the best in the state -- who have the precision of the top LPGA players.

Would I outdrive most, if not all, of the LPGA? Sure. Most competitive male golfers would, actually. But I don't think I'm any more accurate with my nine iron than those women are with, say, their six or seven iron. That might be an indictment on me, I'm not certain. But from 150 yards and in, the top LPGA players are better than nearly all male amateurs. They might be hitting seven iron while we're hitting nine iron, but that's how good they are.

Now, it goes without saying that the best women on the LPGA Tour couldn't compete on the PGA Tour. It just wouldn't happen. If you gave the top five LPGA players five entries into a PGA Tour event, they go 0-for-25 in terms of making the cut. And, I'd guess they'd all finish in the bottom five of the field every week, scoring wise.

The PGA Tour is all about power. The LPGA Tour is all about precision.

The men would dominate the women if the course was 7,200 yards. The women would have a puncher's chance of being moderately competitive if the men played at their 6,200 yard course. The men would still win, without question, but at least the ladies would be under par and fighting for respect.

We already know how good the men are. Guys like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, etc. -- they'd come to your golf course and shoot 6-under (wherever that might be) without even seeing it once. Give them three rounds or so and they'd own the course record if they felt like it. Heck, Koepka would shoot -33 at Mount Pleasant if they held the U.S. Open there!

(Oh, hi George...)

But the women can play, too. They're very, very good. And when they're playing a course that fits within their distance limitations, the women on the LPGA Tour would be extremely tough to beat.

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only 10 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 10 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Sunday
August 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 20
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


hooray for ian kinsler


It's not my money, so I know it's easy to say "Way to go Ian!", but I absolutely love the fact that Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler blasted umpire Angel Hernandez earlier this week.

Major League Baseball fined Kinsler an undisclosed amount of money, a fine manager Brad Ausmus called, "The biggest I've ever seen." So it's not like Kinsler made his beef and got away with it. His "freedom of speech" violation cost him a lot of cash, apparently.

But it needed to be said. Dismissing whether or Angel Hernandez is an awful umpire, as Kinsler contests that he is, the mere fact that a ball player went on record and called out an umpire is glorious.

I think by and large umpiring in Major League Baseball is akin to refereeing in the NFL. They're both better than they appear...as a group.

That doesn't mean, though, that they're perfect. Far from it, in fact. And the one thing about baseball umps that's particularly aggravating is that they're beyond appeal. Even when they miss a call, you're not allowed to turn around and face them and ask, "Where was that?"

Check that: You can turn around and look at the umpire, but his mask is immediately coming off and he's going to remind you that "questioning balls and strikes" is against the rules. So, in other words, you can't actually question balls and strikes.

Three weeks ago or so, Adrian Beltre was four feet off the on-deck-circle and trying to get as close as he could to see the pitches thrown to the batter ahead of him. When told to get on the on-deck-circle, Beltre (in a game his team was losing 18-7) playfully pulled the on-deck-circle closer to home plate and stood on it.

He was thrown out of the game.

He wasn't warned. The umpire didn't come over and say, "Move that back..." He got thrown out of the game.

That's just one example of umpire bullying. There are countless others. Most of them have to do with the umpire getting his feelings hurt because someone questioned a call.

Yesterday, umpires around MLB wore white wristbands to show support for Hernandez and to show displeasure for the fact that Kinsler wasn't suspended for his critical public comments of Hernandez.

Good for them. They seem like a solid fraternity.

But Major League players always get the short end of the stick when it comes to those umpire/player conflicts. It's always the players who get called out or punished. What happens to the umpires when they do something stupid, like throw a player out for moving the on-deck circle a couple of feet in an 18-7 game?

I love the fact that Kinsler finally had enough and told everyone what they already knew: Angel Hernandez is not a very good umpire. He might have a good game here or there, but for the most part, he's sub-par. Kinsler finally had enough and let it out.

I don't encourage disrespecting umpires or referees. They have a job to do. They're trying hard. But that doesn't mean they can't be questioned or criticized if the situation warrants.

And they shouldn't fear a fine or suspension for doing it, either.

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trout, angels coast past birds, 5-1


That one was over kind of quickly last night at Camden Yards.

Mike Trout now has three home runs in the first two games of the weekend series with the Orioles.

Mike Trout hit a pair of home runs for the visitors aand the Orioles offered little in the way of resistance as the Angels scored a 5-1 victory to put the Birds three games behind the second wild card spot in the American League.

It wasn't a great start for Kevin Gausman, who went four innings, allowed six hits and surrendered five earned runs. He also walked four and struck out two, an issue that plagued him back in May and June.

The loss put the O's at 60-63. In the mythical race to finish 86-76 (which we project will earn the 2nd wild card spot), the Orioles now have to go 26-13 to close out the regular season. Every loss now, including the on Saturday night, hurts.

Chris Davis missed his second straight game with an "illness". I assume Buck Showalter isn't pressuring Davis for an expected return date. The last time we saw Davis, he was standing at the plate with the bat on his shoulder, looking at the game-ending called third strike in Seattle last Wednesday afternoon. Showalter isn't all that sad to have Chris on the bench, I'd say.

Today's series finale isn't must-win or anything like that, but a loss will drop the Birds four full games behind the Angels (and Twins, perhaps). Oakland then comes to town for what should be (insert joke here) a 4-game sweep of the hapless A's. And then it's off to Boston for a weekend series with the Red Sox.

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only 10 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 10 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


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Saturday
August 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 19
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


of all the things i miss about football season...


I love my post-radio life.

I certainly don't miss getting up at 4:30 am. I don't miss not being able to see my children eat breakfast and go to school. And I don't miss the snow covered back roads off the Beltway, where the plows never managed to make an impact.

But there is one thing I miss...

And I couldn't help but think about him when I was writing yesterday's edition of #DMD and referencing the scores of sports talk callers who would jam the airwaves with outrageous claims of how Josh Woodrum might be better than Joe Flacco.

I admit it: I miss Merton.

Merton in Indianapolis, that is.

He would routinely call my show during football season -- never in baseball season -- and either praise his Colts or beat up the Ravens for a less than stellar performance.

I never really bought into the whole "in Indianapolis" bit, though. I never met Merton and don't know who he is, but I'd bet $1,000 he wasn't in Indianapolis.

I always assumed he was in Towson or Parkville.

But wherever he was calling from, he was funny as hell.

Some people didn't like him. Lots of folks got angry when he called in. Some of them e-mailed me. A few threatened him (for being a jerk) and me (for putting him on the air).

It was all in good fun, I thought. I didn't particularly care for some of things he said and once, when he made a particularly insensitive comment about "Bob from Parkville", I gave Merton a 30-day "rest" from the show. But all in all, I welcomed Merton's calls over the years.

People would occasionally say to me, "Why did you let that jerk on the show?" and I would always say the same thing in response.

"It's a sports talk radio show. He's calling in to talk about sports."

And Merton was funny. Behind the mean things he would say about the Ravens or the Bob Irsay compliments he would dole out, there was always going to be a laugh or two during Merton's call. Maybe that fake midwestern accent got me. It could have been that insisted on calling me "Andrew" when he knew -- because I told him repeatedly -- that my given name is "Drew", not Andrew.

There was the singing, too. He would always sing at the end of his calls. That was a favorite of my producer and co-host, Glenn Clark, who would yell through the glass, "You better let him sing!" as I was beginning to put my finger on the "end call" button on the console in front of me.

Merton also happened to catch me in one of the funniest knock-knock jokes ever. It was always Merton's thing to degrade the play of Johnny Unitas and praise the accomplishments of Peyton Manning. He would refer to Unitas as "Johnny who?" instead of "Johnny U".

On one particularly tense call, where the Ravens had lost the day before and the Colts had won, Merton was getting on my nerves to the point where I told "this call's over, you're done." It was all in "radio fun", of course. I always let him go on and on and on.

Sensing he had aggravated me, Merton said, "OK, Andrew, well before I go, I have a joke for you."

"Go ahead you old fool, let me hear it," I replied.

"Knock, knock..." Merton said.

"Who's there?" I asked.

"Johnny..." Merton said.

"Johnny who?" I replied, not knowing what I had just done.

"Exactly..." said Merton. And then there was silence. And then laughter on the other end of the phone, as I had completed Merton's famous "Johnny who?" line right there, on my own radio show.

He cackled and started to sing his famous Colts fight song as I lowered my head down on the desk in front of me.

I never met Merton. Honestly, I didn't want to meet him back then. I thought it would have ruined the bit for me, knowing who he was and all. But now? I wouldn't mind having a beer or two with him and telling some stories.

Sports radio is great. Sometimes the people calling in really do know what they're talking about. A lot of times they don't. And occasionally, you find someone who isn't trying to do anything except have some fun.

There's a place for all of those callers. But Merton was a special one, for sure.

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machado's slam carries o's past angels


If Manny Machado keeps hitting a grand slam in every series the Orioles play, he might very well get that $350 million from the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Marlins (that's the latest rumor -- they want him down there to spearhead the new direction of the franchise).

Machado hit his third grand slam in the last two weeks in the bottom of the ninth inning last night to give the Birds an improbable 9-7 win over the Angels. It was also Manny's third home run of the night.

He hit a grand slam vs. Oakland last Friday night. Then hit another one vs. Seattle on Monday night. And then, with the bases loaded and one out last night at Camden Yards, he brought the house down with a bases clearing round tripper.

If the Orioles somehow manage to squeeze their way through this jumbled mess of a wild card race and wind up securing one of the two post-season spots, everyone will look back on last night's come-from-behind win as the start of it all.

Jeremy Hellickson is known as a fly-ball pitcher. There was concern that pitching in Camden Yards might showcase that feature of Hellickson's.

He surrendered five fly balls last night that exited the stadium, as the Angels built up a 5-0 lead in the second inning.

But the Birds had some home run power of their own on Friday night, as Caleb Joseph and Mark Trumbo also went deep in addition to Manny's 3-homer event. Here's a quirky stat from last night's game: Every single run was plated via the home run. There were 10 homers in the game, accounting for all 16 runs on the night.

Manny went 3-for-5 with 7 RBI on Friday.

And Machado is now hitting .264, after spending most of the season hovering around the .225 mark. It was a special night for him, complete with the post-game curtain call and everything.

The Angels have to be kicking themselves for throwing that one away last night.

Staked to a 5-0 lead and then a 7-4 advantage later on, Los Angeles couldn't get their bullpen to finish the deal.

The Orioles are probably disappointed that the stadium was only half-full for the opener of a showdown series with one of their wild card rivals. Only 26,000 made their way into the ballpark on Friday night. Maybe everyone's at the beach or something.

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only 10 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 10 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.


Friday
August 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 18
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another quarterback controversy in baltimore


I'm actually out of town playing in a golf tournament, so I consider myself fortunate that I won't have to listen to it today.

"Let's go out to Bill in Hunt Valley...Bill, what's on your mind?"

"I think it's time the Ravens give this Woodrum kid a chance to be the starting quarterback. He's definitely better than Mallett."

Bill will then go on to explain how Woodrum "moves his feet" better, "doesn't lock in on his primary target" and "goes through his progressions" better than Mallett.

And there will be lots of "Bill" phone calls today on Baltimore sports radio, you can bet on that.

Josh Woodrum runs into the end zone for one of his two touchdowns in last night's win over Miami.

From my vantage point on Thursday night (a TV set in a restaurant with the volume down), I saw Ryan Mallett's performance for what it was: uneven. He made some good throws, made some bad throws, and the numbers were very "Mallett" like, I guess. He looked more like Trent Dilfer out there, playing pitch and catch, then he did Joe Flacco, gunslinging it all over the place.

But if the Ravens have to go with Mallett to start the season, you can expect to see more of the same from him. I'm sure the Ravens would make it as simple as possible for Mallett. You can almost hear John Harbaugh now: "Just get us through the game without making any major mistakes," he'd whisper to his back-up quarterback on the field in Cincinnati prior to the September 10 opener.

Woodrum looks like a kid who enjoys making plays. He can throw the ball, yes, but he definitely doesn't mind moving around in the pocket and picking up yards -- or extending the play -- with his feet. I wouldn't say Woodrum is a "running quarterback" by any means, but he's definitely willing to do whatever it takes to move the team down the field.

Don't get sucked into it, friends.

Josh Woodrum is a fine quarterback. At Liberty University, in fact, he was a standout. But Liberty is a long, long way from the NFL.

Because Joe Flacco went to the University of Delaware, folks around here are always quick to give the "small school" guys a little more leeway. I get it. Flacco was a great story after a failed experiment at Pitt took him to Newark, Delaware where he starred for the Blue Hens.

Woodrum has made plays in the first two pre-season games. He threw a touchdown to Tim White in the opener vs. the Redskins and scampered into the end zone himself twice in last night's win at Miami.

He was also 8-for-10 for 110 yards in the air.

Those calls are coming today, guaranteed.

"I've been watching football for 25 years," Steve in Roland Park will say. "And I can tell you this kid Woodrum has "it" and Mallett doesn't."

Playing against other third and fourth stringers, Woodrum might, in fact, have "it". He definitely looks in his element going up against the scrubs of the Redskins and Dolphins. And, yes, there's a possibility his game could also travel against the first and second string guys, too.

But I wouldn't count on it.

I'm not counting much on Mallett, as you know by now if you're a regular visitor to #DMD. And I wouldn't count much on Woodrum, either.

I can't even believe I'm going to say the "K-word" here, but if Woodrum is good enough to beat out Ryan Mallett, then the Ravens most certainly made a mistake in not signing Colin Kaepernick.

Oh, and Thad Lewis, the 7-year veteran signed early last week, was brought to town to compete with Mallett. He needs his shot, too.

The Ravens clearly made their decision about Kaepernick. They didn't want the turmoil and constant media attention that goes along with bringing in him. So they went with Lewis instead.

They must really see something in Mallett they like, or else they would have brought Kaepernick in to compete with him. Lewis isn't beating out Mallett. He's just another guy to throw the ball in practice until Flacco gets back and thing balance out a little more.

In the meantime, there's Woodrum, the virtual unknown kid from Liberty, who has opened some eyes in the first two pre-season games.

And he'll be the one everyone clings to today when they make their "hot takes" on sports radio.

News flash: Josh Woodrum isn't helping the Ravens beat the Bengals on September 10.

If, somehow, he's behind center in Cincinnati, John Harbaugh's team is in deep doo-doo. In your heart of hearts, you know that.

But it's still fun to play armchair GM and pit Mallett against Woodrum and wonder, secretly, if you might have unearthed a hidden gem with the kid from Liberty.

You haven't found a gem. You've found a guy who was a solid quarterback at a small school playing against "lower level" competition. Yes, I remember Joe Flacco. Woodrum's NOT Joe Flacco.

Because he believes competition is ultimately what separates people, Harbaugh might give Woodrum some extended time with the "1's" in practice this week. It would be interesting to see how he performs with them. But it would be more of an indictment on Mallett than anything else if Woodrum is somehow deemed "comparable" or "a better option" than Mallett, who has been here now for parts of three seasons.

Be prepared for a lively Friday of talk radio, friends. The most popular guy in town from September through December is always the back-up quarterback. It looks like we have ourselves a good old fashioned controversy on our hands in Charm City.

And yes, before you even ask. Woodrum stands for the national anthem.

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birds start key stretch of games at camden yards


We're down to the last quarter of the season, and the Orioles will spend nearly half of that span at home. They'll start a 3-game series with the Angels tonight, welcome the A's next week, and then head to Boston for a big weekend series with the Red Sox on August 25, 26, 27.

Overall, 16 of the team's next 19 games are at Camden Yards.

Will the Orioles be able to lean on closer Zach Britton if he's needed in 12 of the 19 games?

It's time to make hay if you're the Orioles.

At 59-62, we're now starting to look at each loss with a much more discerning view. The Birds likely have to win 86 games to reach the post-season. That means they can only lose 76 games.

These next 16 of 19 require something like a 12-7 mark for the O's to be/stay in the hunt before a huge mid-September road trip that takes them to Cleveland, Toronto and New York.

A 12-7 record would give the Birds 69 losses heading into that road trip. It's still going to be tight, even at that, but until they have that "x" next to ORIOLES in the standings (x - eliminated from playoff competition), they're still alive and kicking.

These upcoming six home games against the Angels and A's are critical. I'm not expecting a 6-0 mark by any means, but 4-2 is the worst they can be and 5-1 is what they really need to do against those two teams.

The Red Sox are winning the division and the Yankees, most likely, are snagging that first wild card spot. Any of six teams could get the second wild card berth, which only gets you a one-game playoff, followed by a match-up with the Astros in the ALDS.

I wouldn't like our chances against the Astros, but I'd like to see the Orioles get there nonetheless and then we'll see what happens.

I buy a 13-game mini-plan every spring mostly to have some sort of advance access to playoff tickets. I wasn't thinking that way in 2007. But it's 2017 now, and the O's are consistently battling for a post-season spot every September. I'd love to see them finish strong and squeak in, where anything can happen.

I'm not counting on it, by the way. I think they have too many teams to leap-frog over the final quarter of the season. But when I look at the Orioles roster and compare it to, say, the Angels, Kansas City and Minnesota, I think Buck's group is just as good if not better than what those three teams have, particlarly offensively.

And this, win or lose in September, is much better than circa 2007, when the season was over by mid-July.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


If the opening weekend was any indication, it looks like we are in for a wild year in the English Premier League as we enter Matchday 2, with a full slate of matchups that includes two teams looking to quickly find their identities after disappointing results their first times out, last year’s top two sides meeting for an early season showdown, and a potential title contender facing a side that may just sneak up on some people before all is said and done this season. So settle in for the long weekend and tune in to catch all of the action live across the NBC family of networks and online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, August 19 (all times eastern)

10am – Crystal Palace @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

After twice battling back from one goal deficits, Liverpool looked well on their way to getting all three points on the opening weekend before a stoppage time equalizer salvaged a point for Watford in a 3-3 draw. They will try to go one better when they make their first appearance of the campaign at Anfield on Saturday morning against Crystal Palace, with the Eagles trying to regroup on the fly after Frank de Boers managerial debut ended in a sobering 3-0 setback to the newly promoted Huddersfield Town to give the Terriers a dream start to their first season back in the top-flight since 1972.

While Palace clearly have questions to answer heading into the weekend, it is Liverpool who are on the verge of coming undone after looking like a shoe in for at least a spot in the top four and maybe even a title run only weeks ago, as rumors continue to swirl around midfielder Phillipe Coutinho’s future after persistent interest from Barcelona, a makeshift backline that was exposed against Watford and that looks severely undermanned for the full season let alone Champions League play, and a visit from Palace who have won four of the last six between the two (L2) in the league and the last three at Anfield.

Sunday, August 20 (all times eastern)

11am – Chelsea @ Tottenham – Wembley Stadium, NBC Sports Network

With the wounds from their feeble title defense only the year before still fresh, Chelsea looked the shell of the side that ran away with the league last season as they were down to ten men before the quarter hour mark and three goals down before the half time whistle, with a last gasp comeback attempt failing to come off as they fell to Burnley 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. They will make the short trip across town to wrap up the Sunday slate when they square off with Tottenham at Wembley Stadium, Spurs temporary home throughout the season as their new NFL ready stadium nears completion.

With a little help from a straight red card three minutes into the second half, Tottenham took all three points from a stubborn Newcastle United side to notch their first win of the season and take an early lead over their local rivals in the table before their early season grudge match at the new Wembley, where Spurs have lost seven of their previous ten visits at their temporary home (W2 D1) including last year’s FA Cup semifinal defeat to Chelsea, who have now lost only once in their last six (W3 D2) and just twice in their last seventeen meetings across all competitions (W7 D7) with Spurs.

Monday, August 21 (all times eastern)

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

The long weekend will wrap up with the first Monday Night Football fixture of the season and it will be a doozy, when Manchester City, who navigated a pothole of a road trip to the newly promoted Brighton Hove and Albion and left little doubt about their intentions on the upcoming campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory, welcome Everton, fresh off a summer spending spree that looks like it will continue until the close of the summer transfer window, who were rarely threatened in a composed and convincing 1-0 victory over Stoke City, to the Etihad Stadium.

Well aware that they would be losing leading scorer Romelu Lukaku this summer for an astronomical transfer fee, Everton began spending their future financial windfall immediately and, with the transfers they brought in, have positioned themselves as a dark horse for a spot in the top four. They will get their first true test on the road against City who, prior to enduring the worst defeat in Pep Guardiola’s managerial career in a 4-0 shellacking last January, are unbeaten in the seven previous league meetings (W4 D3) and their last seven across all competitions with the Toffees at the Etihad (W4 D3).

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Thursday
August 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 17
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can't make the playoffs losing six of ten to those teams


If we're doing the math right, the Orioles magic number for losses is now down to just fourteen. If they lose more than that, it's likely they can't make the post-season.

Oh, and they have 41 games remaining in the regular season. If you're a Flyers fan or an Old Mill grad, let me help you with the numbers since I know it's a challenge. The Birds have to go 27-14 in order to make the playoffs.

We're using 27-14 because that would finish the O's at 86-76. Over the last five years, 86 wins has been enough to snag the second wild card spot in the American League. History doesn't always repeat itself, but that trend has been fairly predictable.

So, until further notice, we'll stick with 86 wins. If you can't get to 86, you're not making it.

Can the O's get to 86?

Another sub-par start from Ubaldo Jimenez left the Orioles in need of a late game comeback on Wednesday. It came up one run short in a 7-6 loss to the Mariners.

With yesterday's loss to the Mariners, the Birds finished a 3-city west coast swing at a meager 4-6. That four of those games came against the lowly A's speaks volumes about the quality of the team's play out there. It wasn't very good.

There is some brightness on the horizon, though. The O's play 16 of their 19 games at home, where they've played their best baseball of the season. There's a 3-game series with the Angels this weekend that looms pretty large right about now, then a trio of games against Oakland. Next weekend, the O's head to Fenway for a showdown with the Red Sox.

The numbers work out like this: The Birds would really help their playoff quest by going at least 8-4 in those games. If they can swing 9-3 mark, that would be awesome. But 8-4 is almost a requirement at this point.

Let's hope Buck Showalter stays awake over those twelve games. He should be well rested after Wednesday's loss in Seattle.

Brien Jackson will do the heavy lifting on Showalter in his piece which you can read below. I won't pile on here. But Showalter's loyalty to Ubaldo Jimenez was a critical mistake in 7-6 loss to the Mariners and his insistence on using Chris Davis in the 9th inning turned out to be the wrong roll of the dice.

But it's hard to find full fault with Showalter on his decision to use Davis. They're paying him $161 million to come through in precisely that situation he faced in Seattle.

Would Adam Jones have been a better choice there? I think so, but I'm a confessed Jones-junkie. I don't care what situation you're facing, Jones is more prone to picking up a base hit than is Davis. That's a no-brainer.

It was a clear roll of the dice. Stick with Davis because he's the team's highest paid player and should relish that opportunity to succeed. Or do the smart thing and go with a guy (Jones) who has a much better chance of delivering a base hit in that situation.

Still, once Buck went with Davis, it's up to the $161 million man to do something. Standing there with the bat on your shoulder and watching strike three go by -- that's not my idea of something.

Striking out is one thing. Everyone does it. But looking at strike three with the bases loaded and the game on the line? Dreadful...

Jones, or even Welington Castillo, would have been a better option in that situation. Both might have made an out there. Both might have struck out, even. But I'd bet you $100 neither would have struck out looking.

An out is an out is an out -- I get it. But standing there looking at strike three is about as "unprofessional" as a professional can be. Swing at the pitch, son, you might actually make contact.

The best phrase in baseball is this one: "It's a marathon, not a sprint".

It's best used in April, May or June when you've lost four in a row or seven of ten. When you're at game number 40 on a 162-game schedule, it truly does feel like a marathon.

We're almost ready to start sprinting now, though. There are 41 games remaining and the O's need 27 wins to reach that 86 plateau that should garner them a fourth playoff trip in six seasons.

Get those legs moving a little more quickly, guys.

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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.


We need to talk about Buck.

Two weeks ago, the Orioles looked like they'd reinvigorated their season with a three game sweep of the Royals. With Kansas City holding the American League's second wild card, taking three games from them catapulted Baltimore right back into the playoff race that had been on the verge of moving out of reach.

Since the end of the Royals' series, however, the Orioles have squandered the opportunity of playing eight games against the going nowhere Tigers and A's and fellow wild card contenders in the Angels and Mariners. In a stretch of games that offered the Orioles a chance to both run up a winning streak and gain ground directly on two of their direct wild card rivals, the Birds ended up going a very disappointing 6-8, and finished their road trip 3 games under .500 and 3 games behind the Royals and Angels in the loss column (Tampa Bay and Seattle are now 1 game better than the O's in that measure as well).

And while there's always a number of things going wrong in a stretch like that, one factor that has consistently stood out in the most disappointing of the losses in the past two weeks are the curious decisions of manager Buck Showalter.

The first such instance, of course, occurred in the Friday night game in the Detroit series. In the eighth inning, Showalter opted to leave Mychal Givens in despite loading the bases on two hits and a walk and having both Brad Brach and Zach Britton available with only five outs left.

Givens would immediately give up a grand slam to Justin Upton, staking Detroit to a 5-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Fast forward a week, and Showalter repeated the same mistake almost exactly.

This time it was Brad Brach on the mound protecting a one run lead, who proceeded to open the inning by allowing a double, single, and a double to tie the game. Despite the fact that Brach clearly didn't have his stuff that night and had already allowed Oakland to tie the game (and having runners on second and third with no outs), Buck stuck with Brach, who would eventually surrender the lead on a sacrifice fly. Yes Chris Davis helped that out by dropping a pop fly, but Brach wasn't missing any bats either and needed a strikeout he couldn't get.

Having not learned his lesson, apparently, Buck would get burned again by sticking with a struggling pitcher too long in yesterday's series finale in Seattle.

And this time it was Ubaldo Jimenez, of all people. Despite the fact that, on top of his constant string of struggles in his entire tenure in Baltimore, Ubaldo had already allowed three runs to score in the first four innings, Buck watched Ubaldo open the 5th inning with a single, hit batter, and RBI single to tie the game, and then left him in the game to allow two more RBI singles (with a pop up mixed in, to be fair).

By the time Buck finally decided he needed to get his scuffling starter out of there the O's were down 6-4, and a single off of Richard Bleier would add another run.

And then, apparently deciding to mix things up by falling asleep with his team at the plate as well as in the field, Buck inexplicably allowed Chris Davis to hit with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth with the team down just 7-6 and rallying, despite Seattle bringing in left-handed specialist Marc Rzepczynski to face him and the Orioles having Adam Jones available to pinch hit.

This despite the fact that Davis is hitting a pitiful .238/.322/.371 against left-handed pitchers this year. Davis, naturally, struck out on three consecutive pitches (taking a fastball literally right down the middle to cap off the sequence) and just like that the Orioles bailed the Mariners out of an epic ninth inning collapse.

Now, as it always the case, it's true enough that you can't say with certainty that different decisions would have changed the results in any of these cases.

Making a pitching change earlier could still have resulted in runs allowed, especially since the new pitcher would be coming in in a tight spot. Jones might be a good bit better than Davis against southpaws this year, but he's still getting out roughly 68% of his plate appearances.

But the fact remains that in all of these cases, the manager failed to find ways to increase his team's chances of success at the margins, which is presumably what managers are getting paid the big bucks for on a nightly basis. Worse, in each case, Buck's decision making followed the same basic pattern: Sticking with the guy in the game and hoping that he'd find a way to pull it out rather than making a bold move in the moment.

And while there's a pattern in all four of these decisions, there are some important distinctions. The two moves (or non-moves, rather) in Wednesday's game were completely and obviously indefensible. Jimenez and Davis have long since proven that they can't be trusted to come through in those situations, and if Buck honestly thought he was giving his team their best chance with those guys in the game at that time then it's fair to start asking if he's totally lost perspective on this roster.

It wouldn't be the first time that a manager who had success with a core group of players couldn't recognize when those players were declining, and kept assuming that a return to glory was always just around the corner. But the decisions against Detroit and Oakland weren't quite so cut and dry, because Givens and Brach have both performed well this season and in the past, so there's some logic to counting on them to come through.

But in both cases it was clear that they just didn't have it on those respective nights. Givens was giving up fly balls to the outfield and had just walked a batter to load the bases. Considering that the situation required a strikeout or a groundball, Showalter was counting on a borderline miracle to think Givens could get out of the inning with a one run lead intact.

The decision to leave Brach in was arguably even worse, considering that Brach gave up two doubles and a single without even recording an out, although, an argument could be made that Brach created such a bad situation that no one else was likely to get out of the inning without Oakland taking the lead either.

The moral of the story, though, is that with the situation the Orioles find themselves in at 59-62, they just can't afford a manager approaching tactical decisions the way Showalter is right now, especially not late in games when they have the lead.

We've reached the point where you are what your record says you are, and the Orioles are a roughly .500 team that just doesn't have enough guys playing well enough to string together a long run of winning. They're still in the playoff hunt because a bunch of other teams fit that same bill, but to make up three games in the loss column and pass four other teams to get into the playoffs, they're going to need an aggressive approach to managing that exploits every available chance to ut the team in a better position to win, especially when they have a late inning lead.

If Givens, or Brach, or Miguel Castro doesn't look like they have it on any given night, Buck needs to be ready to get them out of the game and aggressively try to hold those 6th, 7th, and 8th inning leads.

But right now it just doesn't look like Showalter is up to the task, and instead is still managing like he's just waiting for guys like Davis to play like they have in previous years, or assumes that his bullpen will miraculously come through in seemingly impossible situations because that's what they did in 2016, or 2015, or 2012.

Social media lit up with derision for Davis after he watched that third strike go by, but Davis is at least legitimately overmatched by left-handed pitching at this point, and can't really do much to help it. On top of that, Rzepczynski has a career line of .218/.290/.300 with a 26.4% strikeout rate against lefties in his career, so give him some credit too for being one of the game's best LOOGY's.

The real goat in that moment was Showalter for leaving Davis in that situation when Jones, of all people, was available to hit.

If Buck's plan for guiding this team back to the postseason is to just assume that, eventually, the 2015 version of Chris Davis has to return and that he's "due" to come up big in a situation like that, then the Orioles' players might as well go ahead and book their October trips to Pebble Beach.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

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


I’ve always been more interested in reality than in the make-believe.

Take the musical theater, for instance. Of course music can tell a story, and we know that people have been performing from the stage since at least the time of Ancient Greece. A good soundtrack is essential to the pacing of a film production.

But people don’t simply stop what they’re doing and break into song. It requires a real suspension of reality. I like the songs from “Grease,” but I have a hard time watching it without laughing -- not at the talent of the singers or actors, just at the entire concept itself.

A friend of mine recently told me that he’d been working on a novel, and he asked if I’d read some of it. I took him up on it; he’s the kind of writer that might be good enough to have a novel published.

As I was reading it, I realized that I haven’t read a novel in years. Most of what I read is online, most of what I download to my Kindle is nonfiction. The writer Dan Jenkins says that he could tell the truth in his novels more than he ever could as a journalist, but he still had to make up characters to do it.

Which brings me to now, the middle of August, the dog days of summer. Or at least they used to be. For a long time now, they’ve become something else, for what seems like every sports fan besides me.

It’s time for their fantasy football draft, or drafts. It’s time for ESPN’s 24-hour marathon of fantasy football, which was earlier this week. It’s time to begin the trash talking between Bob in accounting and John in sales, in anticipation of their first-week matchup.

And I just don’t get it.

Because of fantasy football, you can both despise and cheer for this guy on the same day -- if you're a Ravens fan, even.

I don’t think I ever will. As real as football is, there’s something so fake about fantasy that I can’t imagine participating. More about that later. First, a confession.As an adolescent and a teenager in the 1980s, I participated in what used to be called Rotisserie baseball, named after the restaurant where the supposed founders of the game had their first draft. Right from the beginning, I was in charge of compiling statistics for our league, which was…um…a slightly different process than it became a generation later.

My favorite memory is going with my brother or my father to the 7-Eleven store at the corner of Old Court and Greenwood, where we’d pick up the “Sports Final” edition of the Baltimore Sun, which (usually) had the box scores from the West Coast games that ended way too late for the newspaper dropped off in our driveway.

We needed fantasy baseball back then. There was your team, the Game of the Week on Saturday and “This Week in Baseball.”

On the East Coast, a player like Mike Trout would have been summarily ignored unless his team got to the playoffs. It helped to create a fantasy version of reality because the baseball world was a lot bigger and harder to grasp. And it didn’t hurt, of course, that baseball had more readily-available statistics than any other sport.

With football, though, the fantasy game has always seemed different to me. For one thing, it really didn’t develop wholeheartedly until the internet was well established. Instead of fans creating a game that then blossomed, it always felt like the internet created a game as a way to make money for itself.

More recently, of course, with the advent of FanDuel and DraftKings, some fantasy football has become straight-up sports gambling. I’m making no moral judgment on sports gambling, nor am I naïve enough to believe that interest in the NFL would be the same without gambling. I just don’t gamble on sports, so even the most basic “wager” doesn’t give me any thrill.

But most fantasy football players aren’t gamblers, degenerate or otherwise. They’re just people who’ve gotten together with their friends, and even some of their enemies, to have a little fun around NFL football. Some of them don’t even really like football; that’s to say -- the only reason they care about the NFL is their fantasy team, and otherwise aren’t fans of one particular team or interested in watching other teams simply because of interest in the sport.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, really. It’s a relatively healthy form of entertainment, even if you have a weekly get-together with queso dip and a few beers. And it’s sure great for the NFL, even without gambling, with all the questions surrounding the health of the game and the health of its players.

So why don’t I like fantasy football? It’s just too fake for me. The winning and losing in our professional sports is done by the teams on the field, not by the people watching the games.

I’ve always been a believer in being a fan of a team. It comes from growing up in a large metropolitan area, I guess, and having a team or teams to follow throughout the ups and downs of a season. But if you grew up in Montana, and decided you liked the Dolphins because of Dan Marino, that’s ok too.

You weren’t doing any of the things fantasy requires you to do: rooting for players from rival teams, watching games mostly for individual plays, in general caring less about the result of a game than about the numbers inside it.Unlike your fantasy team, the real team you root for isn’t an all-star team, and you can’t trade players very easily. You’re stuck with your team, in misery and cheer.

Then there is the fantasy football media, the real “fake news” if there is one. We’re talking hours of analysis of competition that doesn’t really exist, and legions of player rankings based in an alternate reality.

Nowadays, even the real NFL media gets dragged into the process. Adam Schefter is maybe the most “tied-in” reporter in all of sports, getting scoops before anyone else, but even he ends up on ESPN’s fantasy coverage. I can’t imagine that makes him look good to the GMs, coaches and players with whom he’d like to establish relationships.

Or, maybe they don’t care. Most of the players in the NFL were born in the 1990s, so they probably love fantasy football.

Maybe they even think about it when they’re trying to get that extra yard, and that’s probably a good thing, unless they fumble because of it.

Not to worry, though, because the yards count and the fumble doesn’t. Unless you also have the other team’s defense, I suppose…

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Wednesday
August 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVII
Issue 16
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how does buck tell j.j. hardy to stay injured?


Buck's had to deliver a lot of "tough talks" in his managerial career. I'm sure he doesn't like having to do it.

Well, he better get ready to have a discussion with J.J. Hardy sometime soon. Or else he'll need to have to figure out a way to keep a straight face when he tells Tim Beckham to take a seat on the bench.

Either way, it's not going to be pretty for Showalter.

How will the Orioles handle J.J. Hardy's return from a wrist injury later this season?

There's no real pressure for Hardy to return to the lineup, so I'm sure Buck's not pressing him every day for updated information on his wrist injury. J.J.'s no dummy, by the way. He knows it's looking more and more like he might have been Wally Pipp'd by Beckham after his arrival from Tampa Bay just prior to the trade deadline at the end of July.

But that doesn't mean Hardy will be thrilled with sitting on the bench. No veteran player would, for that matter.

And his popularity in the locker room will be a factor when Showalter has to deliver the bad news sometime this month.

Ten days ago, Buck said in a post-game press conference that Hardy would return to the starting lineup when he was healthy and ready to return to regular action. As the great S.E. Hinton once wrote, "That was then, this is now." There's no way Showalter is telling Beckham to take a seat with the way he's hitting the baseball.

Showalter also knows that Beckham wasn't exactly a good soldier in Tampa Bay earlier this season when the Rays acquired shortstop Adeina Hechavarria. Not that he'd make a playing decision based on that nugget of information, but Buck's not going to needlessly rock the boat with his team in a playoff race, either.

As long as Beckham is playing and contributing, he's a happy camper. He wound up not being so happy in Tampa Bay and was such a locker room buzzkill that the Rays gave him away to a rival in their own division just to get something for him.

Think about that for a second. What if the Orioles traded Seth Smith to the Yankees in late July? What if they sent Joey Rickard to the Red Sox prior to the deadline?

It's one thing to ship a starting player to another team in the middle of the season. It's totally different when you give them to a team in your own division that you'll see nearly 20 times a year and could face down the stretch with a playoff spot on the line.

A guy must have really worn out his welcome for a team to be willing to trade him within the division in the middle of season.

The Rays did the O's a major favor by handing over Beckham, but it's potentially a problem for Showalter if he doesn't handle the transition right when Hardy is ready to return.

I think Buck might have been caught off guard ten days ago when he first answered the question about Hardy's return. He'll need to come up with a creative change-of-gears when J.J. is ready for major league action again. Perhaps he'll just tell the truth: "We can't take Beckham out of the lineup right now."

There's always the possibility that Beckham will start cooling off and come back to earth over the next couple of weeks, which would give Buck the chance to stick to his guns and go with his original thought about Hardy being the incumbent when he's ready to return.

But even when he "cools off", it's likely Beckham will still be a better offensive commodity than Hardy. We've seen enough of Beckham's glove work to know he's an average defensive player at best, so there's always the chance that Buck will give J.J. a lot of 8th and 9th inning playing time if he's trying to protect a late lead. But, in total, Beckham is going to provide more than Hardy.

One other possibility exists: Showalter simply tells J.J. to keep that ace bandage on his wrist and to take one for the team. In other words, Buck and Dan Duquette simply tell Hardy he's played his last game as an Oriole and they'd appreciate it greatly if he'd just "stay injured" for the remainder of 2017.

That's not necessarily the classiest thing to do to a guy who has been a good company man for you, but the O's aren't in the CYO, they're trying to make the playoffs and get to the World Series. If telling Hardy his season is over helps them reach the post-season, so be it.

The move to acquire Beckham might very well have been done with an eye towards 2018, but the Birds have now -- accidentally, perhaps -- put themselves in an awkward spot with one of their most popular locker room figures. They'll finagle their way through it, I'm sure, but let's hope it doesn't create any unneeded tension in the final month of the season.

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has westminster departure diminished training camp enthusisam?


Maybe it's just me.

If it is, just say so.

But it feels like over the last few years, I'm not getting a sense of wild enthusiam for Ravens training camp the way we did in, say, 2008, 2010, etc.

When the Ravens announced they were leaving Westminster in 2011, Steve Bisciotti said "We think we'll be a better football team because of this." Six years later, was he right?

It could be me, like I said. But I'm just not "feeling it" these days. And I'm thinking it might have started when the Ravens made the decision to leave Westminster in December of 2011.

Now, I remember the reasons why the Ravens made the move and in some ways they were right to do so. There's no question it's MUCH easier for the club to train and practice at their own state-of-the-art facility than it is to set up shop 20 miles away and spend four weeks in an outdated hotel and on mediocre playing fields.

In general, though, I think something happened when the Ravens left Westminster. The excitement level dipped. I "feel it" when I'm looking at social media and listening to sports radio. I don't see as much excitement on my Facebook page. I don't even find the newspaper reporting to be as "enlightening", in all honesty.

Here's one element of the change that doesn't have much to do with the Ravens, actually, but could also be a contributing factor. Pre-season training camp was at a fever pitch in these parts from about 2000 until 2010, in my opinion. The Orioles were dreadful back then. Baseball was effectively over in Baltimore by mid-July throughout most of that decade. People were quick to get pumped for Ravens action by August.

But with the Orioles returning to a competitive level in 2012, our summer sports fandom has focused on baseball well into August and September. We don't "need" Ravens training camp to keep us occupied anymore. We have the Orioles to do that. When regular season football games begin, we'll get connected with the Ravens again.

It could be a little of both. No practices in Westminster and the resurgence of the Orioles could be the two biggest factors facing the Ravens and what I feel is a diminished level of summer enthusiasm for the Ravens.

I could be wrong, too. Maybe everyone really does still care. But it doesn't feel that way.

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only 10 seats left for our bus trip to nyc to see billy joel at the garden!!


If there's one place you simply must see the great Billy Joel perform, it's Madison Square Garden in New York City.

So, let's do it!

#DMD is putting together a one-day mega-trip to the Big Apple on Saturday, September 30, and you're invited to attend!

We're heading up there to see Billy Joel play on the evening of September 30 at the Garden. You have your choice of upper or lower level seating for the concert. The lower level seats we've secured are right next to the stage! You'll love those seats. But if you'd prefer to sit upstairs, we have good seats available there, too.

WE NOW HAVE JUST 10 SEATS LEFT ON THE BUS. IF YOU'RE PLANNING ON GOING, PLEASE PLACE YOUR TICKET ORDER SOON USING THE LINK BELOW.

We'll be leaving the Towson area at 9:00 am on the 30th. Breakfast will be provided by Royal Farms, lunch will be served as we enter New York City, courtesy of our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin. We'll have ice cold Duclaw beer on the ride to NYC, plus an awesome Billy Joel trivia contest with a $50 cash prize to the winner.

You'll have the bulk of the afternoon to spend in New York City. The concert starts at 8 pm.

If you haven't seen Billy Joel at the Garden, this is a must-check-off item on your bucket list. It's a once-in-a-lifetime show.

We'll be returning right after the show, so those of you with Ravens-Steelers tickets for Sunday, October 1st at Ravens Stadium will have plenty of time for a good night's sleep before cheering on the purple birds on Sunday afternoon.

Everything is included in the pricing below. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation, food, drinks, concert ticket, etc.

Lower concourse pricing: $395 per-person

Upper concourse pricing: $325 per-person

You can go here to reserve and pay for your tickets to see "The Piano Man" at the Garden with #DMD.




O's SCOREBOARD
Wednesday, September 19th
Orioles
0

Red Sox
9
WP: C. Sale (17-7)
LP: W. Miley (8-14)

HR: Betts (23), Marrero (4)

RECORD/PLACE: 73-80, 4th place

breakfast bytes

A.L. East: Red Sox clinch playoff berth with win and Angels loss to Cleveland.

AL Wild Card: Yankees beat Twins, Minnesota still leads L.A. by 1.5 games.

MLB: Indians 26-1 in their last 27 games after 6-5 win over Angels.

NFL: "Month of Activism" urged by small group of NFL players.