Saturday
September 30
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issue 30
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time for flacco to step up -- if he's able


Sunday's home game with the Steelers is by no means a "must win" situation for the Ravens. Not even close.

But when you only play 16 regular season games and you know going in you'll likely need at least ten wins to reach the post-season, they're all important. So, this one on Sunday in Baltimore falls in the "important" category.

And that means it's important for Joe Flacco to step up and have a big game.

Let's concede from the outset that we all understand the offensive line is undermanned. The loss of Marshal Yanda hurts, for sure.

It's hard to make a throw from this position on the field, so it's critical for Baltimore's offensive line to protect their quarterback on Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.

We can also admit the receiving corps is bottom-of-the-barrel material. Yes, they'll have their moments from time to time, but the long and short of it is this: Baltimore's pass catchers aren't very concerning if you're game planning against them.

So, yes, there are offensive line woes and receiving issues.

Now, let's talk about Flacco.

And we won't bring up his wildly inflated salary, either. Not again, anyway.

In the first game at Cincinnati, he looked about as enthusiastic as a kid getting into the dentist's chair. He bemoaned the fact that he only threw the ball 17 times in that 20-0 win over the Bengals.

The following week against the Browns, he was better. But no one confused him with Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady in that victory over Cleveland.

But the Ravens were 2-0 at that point, and doing it with defense, so no one was super-concerned about Flacco's slow start.

Then the London trip came calling and Flacco threw for a grand total of 28 yards in three quarters of "action" -- if you can call his performance "action", that is.

Something has to change this Sunday when the Steelers come to town. And Flacco knows that. He can't stink it up again against Mike Tomlin's team or the Ravens are likely going to be 2-2.

This, as the saying goes, is why Flacco makes the big bucks.

Here's the thing, though, and try as I might, I can't get anyone from the Ravens to give me a wink or a nudge that I'm on to something: I don't think Joe is healthy.

Over the last few years, people would routinely ask me questions about Tiger Woods and what I thought about his demise and possible return to the top of the golf world. I always responded the same way.

"Tiger can't play golf if he's not healthy," I'd say. "No one can. If he can't get back to 100% health, he's finished."

I'll say the same about Flacco. "I don't think he's healthy. And until he gets healthy, I suspect we'll see a lot of mediocre performances from him."

Maybe that Jacksonville fiasco was an outlier. Perhaps Flacco, like nearly all of his teammates, just had no interest in being over there and playing a game that mattered. It sure looked that way to me.

But I'm not basing my health concerns on that 44-7 loss in London. I don't think Joe has looked healthy since the season started. His arm strength has looked weak, he isn't moving around very well, and the general pace of his play just hasn't been what I've come to expect from him.

Even last Sunday in London when the Ravens ran the no-huddle offense late in the second quarter to try and get things going, Joe didn't look very mobile. And that's usually when he excels the most, actually.

Now, I have reached out to a few people in the know at 1 Winning Drive and asked them about Joe's health and no one took the bait. Everyone says the same thing: "He's fine."

Well, if he's fine, we should see a better performance from him tomorrow than we saw last Sunday in England. Right?

Joe's history against Pittsburgh is pretty solid, especially in Baltimore. Sure, Ben Roethlisberger isn't the easiest guy to beat no matter where you're playing him, but Flacco has the edge on Sunday when it comes to matching up against Big Ben.

Roethlisberger's road numbers -- especially over the last few years -- are markedly different than the ones he produces at Heinz Field. Future Hall of Famer or not, he's very capable of laying an egg in Baltimore tomorrow.

Flacco simply needs to have a solid game on Sunday. Given the weakness of the Steelers defense, we can expect the Ravens to try and run the ball a lot tomorrow. But there will be occasions when Flacco will have to put the ball in the air. And we need to see some quality out of him when those instances take place.

Ten years into the league now, Joe's no longer a spring chicken. He's had a hip injury and a torn ACL in the last five years, not to mention missing all of training camp this past August with a bad back. I wouldn't say he's in the November of his career at this point, but there are days when he looks like the career calendar might be nearing October.

This is a big game tomorrow. It's still a quarterback's league. The Ravens need their quarterback to step up and take over against the Steelers.

I wonder though: Is he physically able to do that?

We'll see on Sunday.

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u.s. out to commanding six-point lead in presidents cup


If this week's Presidents Cup is indeed a prelude to next year's Ryder Cup in France, I'm digging the advance screening.

There are still two days of golf left, granted, but the U.S. has assumed a commanding 8-2 lead after ten matches in the bi-annual competition.

The International team just doesn't have the horses to contend with an American squad that is oozing with both talent and confidence. Needing 15.5 points to retain the Cup, the U.S. is only 7.5 points shy of improving to 10-1-1 lifetime in the event. And we're not even to Saturday yet.

Now a mainstay on U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, Rickie Fowler has formed a formidable partnership with Justin Thomas, the FedEx Cup and PGA Champion in 2017.

Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler have been spectacular together thus far. That's a Ryder Cup pairing-in-concrete for next year's battle with the European squad. So, too, is the team of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, although they were only able to tie their match yesterday in the "better ball" format.

And even though it's unlikely Phil Mickelson will make next year's Ryder Cup team on points, he's already making a strong case for consideration as a captain's pick based on the way he's linked up with Kevin Kisner through the first two days this week.

Even Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell, the last two guys to make the team, basically, were throwing bulls-eyes on Friday afternoon. Not only do they look good, playing wise, but they also have a mean streak about them that makes them a formidable duo.

And the International team doesn't have much under the hood at this point. No one in particular is playing great for them, and their spirit already looks fractured as they stare that 8-2 deficit in the face. As their captain, Nick Price, said after Friday's matches: "We just haven't played very well. Haven't made enough birdies. Haven't forced the issue at all."

Correct. Correct. And correct.

Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen have looked decent together, winning a full point on Thursday, but Oosthuizen's occasionally-balky putter flared up again on Friday and they finally saw their five-match winning streak come to an end.

Other than those two, though, no one else on the International side has lit it up.

It's unlikely the U.S. will have 15.5 points after today's eight points are contested, so Sunday's singles matches will count for something, but if the U.S. merely splits the available points today, they'll have 12 points heading into Sunday and need just 3.5 points out of 12 on the final day to retain the Cup.

The only way for the International team to really work their way back into this thing is if they win 5-3 today. That would give the Americans an 11-7 edge heading into the singles format on Sunday. It would still be an uphill battle for the visitors, but it could still be done, I suppose.

Don't expect that to happen, though. It's not over yet, but they've reached the Fat Lady at her Manhattan hotel and told her the limousine is on the way to pick her up.

She'll be singing on Sunday, but just in case something wacky happens and the U.S. picks up 7.5 points today, they might want her on the grounds late Saturday afternoon.

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we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!

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Friday
September 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxviii
issue 29
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the ravens might not be going back anytime soon, but if you are...


This was originally intended to be published on Monday or Tuesday.

But then a bunch of football players decided to kneel during the national anthem on Sunday -- and since those guys played for a Baltimore team, we all suddenly took notice. And that story occupied the pages here at #DMD.

I don't want this piece to end up on the cutting room floor, though. Some of you might be heading to England sometime soon, either for vacation or work purposes. Maybe you're planning a trip to London someday to see the sights. If you are, here's a primer for you. Print this and put it with your passports right now.

England's an interesting place. They drive on the wrong side of the road, as you probably know. That's my first warning. It's not easy to walk in London. If you step off the sidewalk and look to your left, like we'd normally do, you might get run over by a vehicle approaching you from the right.

A great place to visit, even if it costs you money to use a public bathroom. Or, "toilet", as they call it.

It takes some getting used to, for sure. I just looked both ways about four times before I crossed any road. I made it home safely. But it's a tad scary, particularly if you have children with you, because we're just so used to looking in the opposite directions for oncoming traffic.

I don't have any secret sauce for flying over there and beating jet lag. By the way, neither do the Ravens...

But if you have the ability to book a flight that leaves late at night in the states (10 pm or later) and arrives in the U.K. at 10 am or later, that's the one to get. The flights that have you arriving at 6 am or so are going to leave you wildly out of sorts on that first full day in London. Truth be told, though, it's tough on your body clock no matter what time you arrive over there.

Take a lot of money with you. London is "New York plus 15 percent". There's no other way to say it: It's expensive. Yes, they have fast food and other "cheap eats", but nothing of any quality is inexpensive. Every reasonable meal for four cost us 40 pounds or more.

And none of the attractions are cheap. It cost our family of four 45 pounds to visit Westminster Abbey, which is roughly $60 in American cash. No wonder the Queen has such a nice wardrobe.

Speaking of the Queen, if you go to London in August or September, they'll actually let you in at Buckingham Palace for a walk-through (for a fee, of course) since she's on "holiday" during those two months. We call it "vacation" -- they call it "holiday".

Not that you would ever go to London and start spewing nasty things about the Queen, but it's highly recommended you don't utter an ill word about her when you're over there. Unlike our country, where it's commonplace to bash the President, that sort of behavior doesn't fly over there when it comes to Queen Elizabeth. They adore her.

You need to contact your bank before you go over and activate your debit card(s) and credit card(s). Most major banks now have an on-line portal where you can do this on your own, but it's wise to ask for a confirmation e-mail or phone call to ensure everything is activated.

Likewise, while most cell phone companies now have towers in London and, therefore, you don't need to do anything to have your cell phone work over there, you do need to turn on the "roaming data" feature on your phone before you leave the U.S. or else you won't have access to the internet on your phone while you're in London. I found that out the hard way.

Always keep at least 50 "pence" (they call them pence, we call them "cents") with you, because that's what it costs in London to use a public bathroom. True story. They're not readily available, either, but when you do find one, you have to pay to use them. I liked London, but paying to use the bathroom is kind of stupid if you ask me.

Oh, and they're called "toilets" over there. If you want to sound like a Londoner, don't call them bathrooms.

By all means, one of the most important things you can do while you're there is this: Buy an "Oyster Card" for your length of stay that allows you unlimited access to any bus, train or "tube" that's part of the London transit system. This does not include trains to Paris, by the way. But you'll save a lot of money -- and time -- by buying the Oyster Card and it will provide for seamless transition from the bus to the train or vice versa.

Speaking of the transit system, it's incredibly easy to navigate. You'll get the hang of it in a day or two if you just study a map and understand how the whole thing works.

There are apps you can download on your phone that will literally guide you around town. You just plug in where you're at and where you'd like to go and it will tell you what station to use and when the next bus or train is arriving.

That said, it's also smart to invest in a good pair of walking shoes if you're heading to London. You do a lot of walking there. My wife's phone has an app on it that counts the number of steps you take in a day. On Thursday of last week, we took 16,000 or so. I thought that was for the first hour, but it turns out, that was a day long total.

They don't put much ice in the soft drinks in London. Likewise, most places serve soft drinks in bottles. And you pay for every one you get. And they're like 3 pounds each. Sip, don't guzzle.

Speaking of food and restaurants, extensive tipping is not customary in England. Our first night there, our bill came to 50 pounds and I left our server 60 pounds. She nearly fell over.

It turns out that in most cases, employees are paid a reasonable living wage and gratuities are split up among all of them. Therefore, they're not "working for tips". If you leave 5 percent, that's fine. If you leave 10 percent, expect your server to follow you back to the hotel.

Oh, and unlike our country where the second your plate is clear, they're trying to rush you out to clean the table and get someone else in, you actually have to ask for the check in London. You can sit there and talk as long as you like...they won't bother you. Signal "check" to your server and they'll bring it, otherwise, you'll be there until the place closes.

According to people I spoke with, the most pleasant weather months in London/England are July, August and September. It was gloriously seasonal during our visit last week. It's cloudy a lot, but it probably doesn't rain as much as we all think it does.

London is a cool place. It really is England's version of New York, although the people seem much more settled and not nearly in a hurry like the folks who grace the streets of Manhattan.

I'd go back. I doubt the Ravens make the trip again anytime soon, but if they do, I'd make a return visit. There are lots of things to do and see and a lot of interesting world history is available at your fingertips if you're into that sort of thing.

Just don't kneel during the national anthem. I hear that doesn't go over well.

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is this duquette's last weekend as gm of the orioles?


At 75-84 now, the Orioles are down to their final three games of the regular season.

It seems like it was just yesterday that the Birds were sweeping Seattle in a 3-game home series and moving to within real striking distance of the second wild card spot in the American League.

Then, September came, and the O's collapsed.

If Dan Duquette's tenure in Baltimore ends in 2017, expect former O's centerfielder Brady Anderson to take over as the team's general manager.

Alas, they've now gone 4-16 in their last 20 games. It's not quite the 4-32 finish we saw during the 2002 season, but that's only because there aren't 16 games left on the schedule. Make no mistake about it, Buck and the Boys have been playing out the string for the last ten games or so.

The biggest question now centers on general manager Dan Duquette. I know that's not his actual title, but that's what he is. His contract runs through 2018, but there have been whispers around town that he's ready to call it a day in Baltimore, which likely means Brady Anderson would be stepping in as the team's new "Vice President of Baseball Operations".

Likewise, Buck's contract runs through 2018.

Duquette tried to leave two years and join the Blue Jays as their team President, but Peter Angelos and the Blue Jays couldn't agree on compensation (imagine that) for Duquette, so he was forced to stay in Baltimore and fufill his obligation here.

I'm not a Duquette basher like some in town.

Sure, he's tried to pull off a bunch of magic tricks (Jeremy Hellickson, for one) that were clearly ill-advised gambles from the start, but here's what I know about Duquette: Ever since he showed up in 2012, the team has been competitive. Yes, a number of the club's quality players on the 2017 roster were products of the Andy MacPhail era, but Duquette has been at the helm of three teams (2012, 2014 and 2016) that qualified for post-season play.

I know the organization's farm system was lowly rated prior to this year, but I'm seeing some kids come up now that look like they might have a real role on the major league team in 2018 or 2019. I realize we're not big spenders in the international scouting world and that's probably a knock on Angelos as much as Duquette, but all in all I don't feel like the minor league system in Norfolk, Frederick and Bowie is in shambles.

Showalter and Duquette apparently don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but my guess is that's fairly typical throughout major league baseball. The manager wants the best players he can get for all 162 games. Juggling the 40-man and 25-man roster to make that happen is the GM's job and it's not a particularly easy one, especially when injuries strike during the season.

I like Buck, but he's certainly not without his own blemishes. His personality is much more endearing than is Duquette's, who comes across as awkward and just plain "odd" on the rare occasion he speaks with the media. But personality aside, Duquette has done a lot of good things since he showed up here in 2012.

I'll say this, now, as sort of pre-prediction for the day when Anderson takes over for Duquette: Brady is a huge gamble as a front office leader. He's a former baseball player with an eye for the game, yes, but that most certainly doesn't mean he's a lock to ever be in the running for "GM of the Year". And if you know anything at all about the behind-the-scenes stuff within the Orioles organization, he has ruffled a lot of feathers during his days on "special assignment" for the club.

I think Duquette might stick it out one more year and finish his contract in Baltimore.

But if he does leave in the next month or two and the Orioles bid him farewell, we might see an unpleasant changing of the guard in Charm City.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


Matchday 7 of the English Premier League will kick off Saturday morning with the second to last international break of 2017 looming at the end of the weekend, giving national teams one final chance to wrap up automatic qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Russia, including the USA who face two massive final qualifiers at home against Panama and on the road at Trinidad and Tobago where results are a must if they hope to punch their ticket.

Stay tuned as we will be adding a new feature to our weekly previews after the break and until then enjoy the weekend action with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, September 30 (all times eastern)

10am – Crystal Palace @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

After coasting through the opening month of the season and taking an early position near the top of the table, Manchester United solidified their place as a legitimate title contender when they gutted out a hard fought 1-0 victory on the road at Southampton last weekend. It was the type of game that United would have drawn or dropped last season and has put the rest of the league on notice of the Red devils intent this year ahead of a visit from the lowly Crystal Palace to Old Trafford, with the Eagles’ misery only growing after they were completely steam rolled by Manchester City 5-0.

The loss gave Palace the dubious distinction of becoming the first team in English Football League history to start a season with six defeats and no goals, and the only team in Europe's big five divisions yet to score a league goal this season, neither an encouraging sign heading to Old Trafford where they will face a United side that have never lost to Palace in their sixteen all time Premier League meetings (W13 D3), have won the last ten between the two at the Theater of Dreams, and that holds the joint best defensive record (2GA) in the league and have yet to concede a goal at home this season.

12:30pm – Manchester City @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC

Another massive early season showdown will wrap up the Saturday slate when Manchester City, fresh off the demolition of Palace and now the first team to score at least five goals in three consecutive Premier League matches, bring their high-flying attack to Stamford Bridge for a potential six pointer against Chelsea, with the Blues prepping for the title tilt by getting a first Premier League hat trick from summer signing Alvaro Morata in a 4-0 victory over Stoke City and then stunning Atletico Madrid with an injury time winner to stay perfect through two games in their midweek Champions League group clash.

The Spaniard has proven to be a more than capable replacement for the exiled Diego Costa, who is officially off the clubs books with his transfer back to Atleti confirmed this week, and should test a Manchester City back line that holds the joint best defensive record through six games with United but will be without center back and captain Vincent Kompany as well as left back Benjamin Mendy through injury against the defending champions that pulled the double over the Citizens last season and that have lost only one of their last seven to the current league leaders at Stamford Bridge (W4 D2).

Sunday, October 1 (all times eastern)

11:30am – Liverpool @ Newcastle United – St. James’ Park, NBC Sports Network

The weekend action will wind down and lead you right into the Ravens kickoff when Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool head to St. James’ Park to take on former Reds manager Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United, who saw their three-game winning streak and jaunt up the table come to a screeching halt when they fell to the newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0, while the German and the Reds will look to get the better of the Magpies after climbing up to fifth in the table when they held on for a 3-2 victory over Leicester City in a game that had more than a few nervy second half moments for the visitors.

A matchup that has rarely disappointed over the years, with a scoreless draw yet to occur in their forty-four all-time top flight meetings and a ridiculous 3.14 goals per game average, Klopp and Liverpool should be able to deploy the attacking quartet of Phillippe Coutinho, Roberto Firminio, Sadio Mane and Muhammad Salah for the first time in the league which should help to offset a leaky defense that sits in the bottom five of goals allowed and that have dropped their last two trips to St. James’ Park, winning just one of the last four meetings overall between the two (L2 D1).

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Thursday
September 28
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issue 28
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i refuse to let terrell suggs spoil a ravens-steelers game


This Sunday at 1 pm in Baltimore, there's a football game being played.

I'm going.

I realize a lot of people probably aren't going to attend the Ravens-Steelers game. And I can respect that. I have friends, in fact, who have already declared they won't go again this season in the wake of "Kneelgate" at Wembley Stadium this past Sunday.

They're still my friends. I'll still give them 2-a-side at Eagle's Nest the next time we tee it up, we'll have fun, enjoy a cocktail or two afterwards, and that's that.

And before you think I'm about to get on my soapbox and try and convince you to go to the game, you can rest comfortably. I'm not doing that at all.

If you don't want to go and if you're going to "protest" by not attending the game, I get it. You're not a bad person. They're your tickets. Do with them what you please.

But I'm going to the game.

Are you really going to let this incident and any others that have followed keep you from going to football games?

I'm not boycotting the Ravens. I'm not shedding any of my team-related merchandise nor am I demanding my son and daughter discard their shirts and apparel, either.

Anyone who has read this site with any regularity knows how I feel about athletes not standing up for the national anthem when it's played before a sporting event. I don't like it.

I think it's wrong to kneel, sit, squat or anything else that ISN'T standing during the national anthem. I've always felt that way and nothing will ever change my mind on that topic.

I wouldn't hire anyone to work for my organization who didn't stand for the national anthem. And that's that. You might hire them. Good for you. I wouldn't.

That said, I'm going to the game this Sunday.

Why? Because nothing is changing and nothing is different next Monday morning if I elect NOT to go to the game.


KNEELING HASN'T "HELPED" AT ALL

This "protest" the NFL players are staging? Should we be honest or should we pussyfoot around and play nice?

I agree: Let's be honest.

This silly protest in the NFL isn't doing any real good. None at all. Next Monday morning, our country will have the same strife, the same issues and the same problems it has on Sunday morning.

In fact, there's a solid argument to be made that the protesting has actually made things worse.

I know, the truth hurts sometimes. I can -- and do -- see both sides here. There's also an argument that the President of the United States referring to players who protest as "son of a bitches" definitely made things worse.

But next Monday, that tension is still going to be in the air. The President surely can't repair it. And the players aren't really willing to come to grips with the fact that their kneeling, while noble in their minds, hasn't helped at all.

Sure, they might have felt better about kneeling and protesting. Yes, people are definitely talking about it. But is anything better? Really? Is it better? No. It's worse, in fact.

Me not going to the football game on Sunday isn't changing how African Americans feel about racial inequality, police brutality and the criminal justice reform system.

A half-empty stadium on Sunday isn't going to lower the murder rate over the weekend in Baltimore City. There will still be crime in Detroit, Chicago, New York and (insert city here) on Sunday night.

The national anthem singer who quit? There's no impact there, either. He might feel better, and if so, that's good. But no one will be any more or less engaged with our nation's quest to "fix things" because the singer in Baltimore resigned in a huff.

And me "protesting" and sitting out the Ravens-Steelers game isn't going to suddenly fix the predicament the Ravens are in, either. They're not stupid. They know they're in a hornet's nest. They're trying to piece this whole thing together and figure out the best way to deal with a situation that, frankly, they've never before had to even consider worrying about.

Me sitting out the Steelers game isn't "sending a message" to the Ravens. They know the fans are pissed with the players and with the organization, too. That message has come across loud and clear to them.

If there are 5,000 empty seats on Sunday or 25,000 empty seats, the Ravens can't make what happened last Sunday suddenly fade away. An apology from the players who got down on a knee in protest last Sunday? Would that make everyone feel better? Ain't happenin', friends.

Removing the Ray Lewis statue? Would that get you back to the games with a smile? That's also not happening. Sorry...

And let me get this on the record right now: I think you're going to see at least 10,000 empty seats in Baltimore on Sunday. That's my prediction. A lot of people aren't going. And the Ravens expect it.

And if, heaven forbid, the Ravens come out for the anthem and one or more of the players decide to once again take a knee and protest, you will see a mass exodus in that stadium like it's the 8th inning of an 11-2 Orioles deficit at Camden Yards.

All that of kneeling and protesting in the NFL this season has done what, exactly? It's led to empty seats, that's what. And if it continues, it will lead to more empty seats.

The kneelers and protesters don't think about that when they're doing it because the $167 million salary cap isn't changing no matter how many fans sit out this Sunday's game in Baltimore. They don't know that they're actually hurting instead of helping. They don't know what they don't know.

The players are protesting something they believe in, but if they think they're actually bringing people together by kneeling during the national anthem, they're fooling themselves.

If the protests were bringing fans together there wouldn't be an empty seat in the stadium this Sunday. They've divided people, in reality.

Oh, and let's also be fair and admit this: NFL players stood at attention for the national anthem from 2009 until 2015 and the country was still screwed up. It wasn't like football players suddenly started kneeling and the United States went in the crapper.

See what I mean? None of it has anything to do with actually making the country "better", if that's what the protesting is supposed to do.

This kneeling during the anthem? It's eye candy. A publicity stunt. It's grandstanding in highest form. Yes, I believe the players think they're making an impact, but they aren't.

The issues of 1997 and 2007 are still here in 2017. A football game in Baltimore on Sunday, October 1st, 2017 isn't changing or fixing anything.

I wish I could fix it. I wish it COULD be fixed. I wish every citizen in the United States felt like he or she was treated fairly.

But the Ravens-Steelers football game on Sunday has no bearing whatsoever on any of that stuff.

And I'm not letting a protest that isn't working keep me from going to the game.


TERRELL SUGGS ISN'T SPOILING MY SUNDAY

I'm going on Sunday because I like any team that has "BALTIMORE" on their jersey.

You might be one of the people in town pissed off at Terrell Suggs and the others for kneeling last Sunday. I'm disappointed in Suggs. And all of those guys who kneeled.

Guess what? Suggs won't be here in a year or two. He's in the December of his career. Someone else will come along and play in his place and the Ravens will still be in the AFC North and cold winter days will arrive in 2018 and 2019 and football will still matter in our city.

Every player who took a knee on Sunday will be gone at some point. These guys are just football players. Replaced someday by another guy who comes along and wears their number. The team, though, will always be around (we hope).

I'm going to the game on Sunday because these two guys stood up on Sunday in London, while some other guys took a knee.

I can admit I probably won't actively "cheer" for Terrell Suggs or any of the "kneelers" on Sunday. I'll treat their productive play (if there is any) with quiet indifference. But I want the team to succeed, mostly because they're the "BALTIMORE Ravens" and not the "C.J. MOSLEY Ravens".

I can go to a game and root for the team but most certainly not feel it necessary to glorify the play of someone that I don't admire or respect.

I'm going to the game on Sunday because of the people in the organization that I like and admire and the players I've come in contact over the years who represented the organization well.

I'd rather do that than not go to the game because of the people in the organization that I don't admire.

Depending on which report you believe, anywhere from 9 to 12 players kneeled on the Ravens sideline last Sunday.

I'd rather support the 35 or so who stood at attention, plus the coaches who did as well, then not go to the game this Sunday because of the guys who took a knee.

Am I really going to sit out a Ravens-Steelers game on Sunday because I'm pissed off with Terrell Suggs? I asked myself that question on Tuesday when a friend called and we talked about going to the game together.

"Am I really going to sit out a Ravens-Steelers game because of something Terrell Suggs did?"

Nope. I'm not.

I'm going to the game because I like John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco -- as people.

I'm going to the game because ten years ago when I was on the radio, I put together a small charity fund-raising event at the Towson Center and guys like Dan Wilcox, Haloti Ngata, Matt Stover and Evan Oglesby came out and shot foul shots at halftime of a Towson University game.

I'm going because Matt Birk once supported my charity golf outing.

I'm going because Eric DeCosta and Kevin Byrne once came out to a Calvert Hall Golf dinner I organized.

I'm going because Dan Wilcox -- my all-time favorite Raven -- once drove 8 hours overnight with his pregnant wife to surprise me on my birthday when I was working on radio row at the Super Bowl in Fort Lauderdale.

A lot of those guys aren't with the club anymore, obviously, but they're always Ravens to me.

I'm going to the game on Sunday because from 1984 until 1995, there weren't any football games in town to attend after the Colts moved to Indianapolis.

I'm not happy about the kneeling on Sunday in London. I've long been on record about my disdain for it. I'm disappointed that the organization hasn't adopted a tougher stance, yes. But as I wrote on Tuesday, the real blame for all of this falls on the Commissioner and the NFL.

But despite my disappointment in the Ravens, I'm not quitting on them. I respect that some people are. I don't think any less of someone who says, "No way I'm going down there and supporting them." I get it. We all have different ways of handling things and reacting to them. We're all wired differently.

Look, I want our country to improve. Everyone does. I understand that people are going to say, "Well, sitting around and not doing anything hasn't helped improve it. So maybe this protesting will help get the ball rolling."

I doubt it.

I can only report on what I've seen. And from what I've seen, football players kneeling during the national anthem hasn't helped anything at all. It's only created more of a chasm, honestly.

Civic and national leaders need to get together and chip away at these issues and we, as citizens, have to be willing to listen to all sides and give everyone a chance to be heard.

Football players should just play football. That's what they do best. If anything, that's what "Kneelgate" has taught us, I believe.

The athletes should stick to playing sports.

The politicians would be best served to stick to whatever it is they do well -- and in some cases, I'm not sure we've figured that out yet.

Meanwhile, I'm going to stick to going to football games in Baltimore. I'm not burning any shirts or throwing a jersey away. I'm not ripping up my tickets.

I put up with the Orioles stinking for more than a decade. I can put up with a few purple showboaters taking a knee and protesting something that has nothing at all to do with football.

I want the country to get fixed, but me sitting out a Ravens-Steelers game isn't helping fix anything.

So -- I'll be there on Sunday.

And if the Ravens go through the motions and get their asses handed to them by the Steelers like they did in London against the Jaguars, I might take a knee and protest them.

After all, that's my right.

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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.


When I worked as a communications flack in Division I college athletics, I always requested a meeting with certain teams before each season. These were teams that might have a bigger media and public spotlight on them: basketball, football, and even lacrosse here in Baltimore.

The purpose of having these meetings was two-fold. One reason was simply to introduce myself and explain my job, especially my role in coordinating relationships between the media and the team. This was particularly significant for freshman players, who were always a little surprised at how much media attention a college team might get compared to their high school teams.

The other reason was more important, for athletes in every class. I reminded them every year that they were unique amongst their peers on campus. They wore a jersey with the school name on it and traveled the country representing that institution, and they needed to think about that no matter where they were or what they were doing.

It’s an amazing opportunity, I always told them, but one that comes with a certain amount of responsibility. I was just echoing what their coaches had surely already told them about their expectations of them in other domains--on the court and in the locker room.

I thought about that yearly exercise this past weekend when, thanks mostly to our President, NFL players kneeling in protest went from a dying story about a guy not even playing in the league to A-1 front page news again.

(As an aside, the President likes this fight. He is obsessed with “winning,” and this is a fight he believes he can win. He thinks that, at the end of the day, people are just seeing guys not standing for the anthem, and that bothers them. All of the other stuff just goes away.)

My immediate thought was this. If a player or group of players on one of “my” teams would have kneeled during the national anthem, or stayed in the locker room, or given a raised fist in protest, would he or she be representing the institution poorly?

Would they be shirking the responsibilities that come with being a public face of a school? Would they not be living up to the same expectations that the head coach had for them when running a play or doing sprints in practice?

The answer to all those questions is no.

But let’s start at the beginning, before we even get to that.

For many years, during basketball games at Princeton, we played the national anthem with seven or eight minutes on the pregame clock so that it wouldn’t interfere with a live television broadcast. Both teams would intentionally leave the court for their final pregame chalk talk in the locker room, then return after the anthem was finished. The anthem was a ceremony for the crowd, who were mostly hoping to hear a nice rendition as opposed to the recorded version.

Now we make sure everyone is there. Now we make sure the public address announcer says that we are “honoring America, celebrating its freedom and those who protect it.” And that’s great. It’s an awesome sentiment, and there’s no reason the players and coaches can’t be part of it too.

But it’s still just a ceremony. It doesn’t mean more now than it did then. In fact, I don’t know what it means to the person next to me. Maybe it means a lot, or maybe it means nothing. And how has an NFL or NBA game become the most patriotic event of the week? In an interview on Monday, Bob Costas said that nobody ever looks for the anthem before the curtain opens on Broadway for “Hamilton,” and nobody demanded the anthem play at the movies before the opening of “Saving Private Ryan.”

And those stories are way more patriotic than an NFL football game.

But back to the guys at Princeton, and Loyola, and any other school I’ve visited for an athletic event.

When I asked them to represent the institution a certain way, I wanted them to be careful about what they said or did in public when it came to their role as players— about themselves, their teammates, their coaches, their opponents, the officials, or the crowd.

If a player had knelt during the national anthem, and then explained the reasons behind it, I never would have thought for one second that he was doing anything wrong in relationship to any of those groups.

When I asked them to think about responsibility, I wanted them to show maturity, particularly in understanding that the media would be interested in talking to them whether they hit the game-winning three-pointer or committed the game-losing technical foul.

If a player had sat during the national anthem, and then explained the reasons behind it, I never would have thought for one second that he was being immature. In fact, I probably would have thought the opposite—that he had thought long and hard about his decision and decided to take action with real purpose and meaning.

When I asked them to understand my expectations, I wanted them to know that they might be held accountable in some way if they did a poor job of understanding their responsibilities.

If a player had stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, and then explained the reasons behind it, I never would have thought for one second that he wasn’t accountable. In fact, his decision might have showed an eagerness to show accountability that most 18-to-21 year-olds don’t possess.

On Facebook and Twitter, in the media and in day-to-day conversations over the past week, people have said they’ll boycott the NFL, in some way or another, because of Sunday’s events. They think those actions are the ultimate show of disrespect toward the U.S. military. They think they are a terrible display of disrespect toward law enforcement.

In a less emotional way, they find them to be inappropriate in the workplace. Maybe, as the U.S. Treasury Secretary said, with the typical lack of tact displayed by the current administration, they’d rather the teams “do free speech on their own time.”

And that’s ok. Like I said before, the national anthem might mean something a lot different to them than it means to me.

But I hope those fans realize that the players aren’t representing the NFL poorly, an opinion clearly demonstrated by statements and actions from team owners, the NFLPA and the commissioner.

I hope those fans realize that these players’ decisions on Sunday were hardly childish and petulant, unlike many of their decisions seem to be both on and off the field.

And I hope those fans realize that these players believe they are being accountable -- to their communities, their teammates and their own beliefs.

I never asked any more than that from the players with whom I worked, and I won’t ask any more than that from today’s NFL players, no matter what stance they take when the national anthem is played.

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expect a win by the u.s. team in the presidents cup (again)


In a weird kind of way, the Presidents Cup desperately needs an upset.

The bi-annual event, which begins today in Jersey City, New Jersey, commenced way back in 1994 and the International team has won just once since then.

The Americans are 9-1-1 lifetime.

It's been kind of boring, truth be told.

Can Patrick Reed duplicate his Ryder Cup success of a year ago in this weekend's Presidents Cup in New Jersey?

So -- if only just to spice things up a little bit -- it would make for a good copy if the International team could pull off an upset this weekend.

I don't see it happening.

The U.S. has too much talent, too many players playing well, and, for whatever it's worth, the "home course advantage".

The International team has some great players, mind you. Louis Oosthuizen, Adam Scott, Hideki Matsuyama, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day -- those guys are five of the best 30 players in the world.

But there's too much of everything else on the U.S. team -- big hitters, straight hitters, great putters and winners. Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka -- those four guys are among the best 10 players in the world right now.

There will be 30 points at stake this year. To win, a team must accumulate 15.5 points.

My call: The U.S. wins fairly comfortably 17.5-12.5.

Here's the schedule:

Today, it's foursomes or, as we better know it, "alternate shot". There will be five matches. Two players on each side will sit out.

Friday, it's fourball or "better ball". Again, there are five matches. The two players on each team who didn't play on Thursday must play on Friday. Two others sit out.

On Saturday, there are four alternate shot matches in the morning and four better ball matches in the afternoon.

On Sunday, it's singles, where 12 American players face 12 International players in singles competition over 18 holes.

Today's lineups feature plenty of firepower.

1:05 pm -- Schwartzel/Matsuyama (INT) vs. Thomas/Fowler (USA)

1:17 pm -- Scott/Vegas (INT) vs. Johnson/Kuchar (USA)

1:29 pm -- Kim/Grillo (INT) vs. Spieth/Reed (USA)

1:41 pm -- Grace/Oosthuizen (INT) vs. Koepka/Berger (USA)

1:53 pm -- Day/Leishman (INT) vs. Mickelson/Kisner (USA)

Sitting out for the U.S. today: Kevin Chappel and Charley Hoffman

Sitting out for the International team today: Anirban Lahiri and Adam Hadwin

Thursday foursomes prediction: USA leads 3-2 after day one, with Thomas/Fowler (1 point), Spieth/Reed (1 point), Johnson/Kuchar (1/2 point) and Koepka/Berger (1/2 point) earning points for the U.S. side.

Hughes Mechanical
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we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!



Wednesday
September 27
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issue 27
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so what really did happen in london?


Yesterday's piece that I authored here at #DMD suggested the NFL should adopt a new mantra for the remainder of the 2017 campaign: "We're going back to football".

Today, I'm pledging to do the same thing here. No more talk about protests, kneeling, player whinings, owners making fools of themselves and a league that has lost its way.

We, too, are going "back to football" (and other sports) at #DMD.

Ever since I sat in Section 133 of Wembley Stadium on Sunday and watched the Ravens get humiliated by the Jaguars, something about that game has bothered me. I don't mean "keep me up at night" kind of bother, but simply, "what the hell happened?" kind of bother.

And while lots of losses in the NFL on a weekly basis can be explained away by simply using the "on any given Sunday" theory, this particular thrashing the Ravens took at the hands of the Jaguars wasn't of that ilk, I don't believe.

It was a vacation for those fans from Baltimore who journeyed to London for Sunday's game, but it was purely a taxing business trip for the Ravens -- and they didn't take to it very well.

Had Jacksonville won 23-20 or 27-21 or 17-13, we probably would leaned heavily on "it's the NFL, stuff happens."

This was, by my personal account, the single worst performance in the John Harbaugh era. The Ravens have stunk up the joint before under Harbaugh, but not very often. And never before, in my opinion, as graphically stinky as they were on Sunday in London.

It bothered me so much, I decided to look deeper into it. I made a couple of calls. Sent a few texts. Received some answers, got ignored, and learned a little bit about how everything unfolded on the team's trip visit to the U.K.

Before I delve into it, I'll point out that none of this is to be deemed "excuse making" for the Ravens. As John Harbaugh said in his Monday press conference, "You either win or you learn." I've tried to "learn" how the Ravens got punched in the mouth like that on Sunday.

We'll look at several things about the game and the trip, ranging from the team's travel itinerary to the advantages and disadvantages of playing Jacksonville and, yes, the "kneeling" episode before the game. They all inter-connect, as I've found out.


BEATING JET LAG

As someone who made the trip over there last week, I can speak pretty confidently about the travel issues everyone faced -- including the Ravens -- going from Baltimore to London.

The Ravens left on Thursday from Baltimore. They arrived on Friday morning at Heathrow Airport.

This, of course, can always just be filed under "hindsight", but the Ravens themselves have questioned over the last couple of days if perhaps they left a day or two too late.

I know this: I arrived on Wednesday morning after an overnight flight on Tuesday and I honestly didn't feel "100 percent" until I woke up on Friday. That's just me, obviously, and your mileage may vary, but it's not the easiest of trips to make given the time difference.

Yes, the Jaguars adopted the same schedule as the Ravens. They've also made this trip five straight years. While not everyone on this year's roster has been with the team for that entire time, many of them have and the organization itself is far better equipped to handle the travel rigors with five years of experience under their belts.

The Ravens consulted with international travel experts who gave them the pros and cons of leaving earlier. Remember, the team eschewed their right to have their "bye week" following the trip to London, so they also had to deal with the issue of returning home after Sunday's game and playing the very next Sunday (this weekend).

Personally, I think the Ravens left too late. And that's not Wednesday morning quarterbacking, either. I thought that last Friday when I saw Facebook pictures of some fortunate Ravens fans who bumped into the team upon their Friday morning arrival into London.

The Ravens now think they probably left a day or two too late as well. So there's that.

Personally? I think it would have been energizing for the Ravens to be transported down to Trafalgar Square at some point on Thursday or Friday to see just how many people in purple were there. I'm not suggesting that Harbaugh should have given the team a few hours to enjoy a pint or two with the masses. They were there for a football game, after all.

However, if the team would have left the U.S. on, say, Tuesday night, they might have enjoyed the build-up of the game a little bit more and would have sensed how excited Baltimore football fans were for the whole thing.

Just a thought. It's not rocket science, obviously.

Further, and more importantly, the NFL oversees these visits to London. Typically, a NFL team chooses their own hotel on away trips. On this occasion, for reasons no one seems to understand, the Ravens were assigned a hotel near Heathrow Airport, some 40 minutes from the stadium.

Jacksonville stayed at the Wembley Hilton, which was 60 yards from the stadium entrance. A bunch of us coming back from the train station on Friday evening saw several Jacksonville players "hanging out" in the lobby of the hotel as we passed it on our way back to our hotel, which was about 300 yards from Wembley Stadium.

It's not sour grapes to say this: One team staying next door to the stadium and one team staying 40 minutes away from the stadium seems distinctly odd. There were plenty of hotels right near Wembley Stadium. Why didn't the Ravens get to stay at one of them?

On a typical Sunday morning, the visiting team is afforded a police escort from their hotel to the stadium. This, of course, makes for a smooth, seamless bus ride from the hotel to the stadium and allows for a consistent schedule. Teams typically arrive at the stadium 2.5 hours prior to kick-off.

The Ravens were not provided with a police escort on Sunday morning in London. They only arrived a few minutes behind schedule, but any sort of deviation from their routine is potentially unsettling for athletes of any kind, including football players.

The Jaguars walked across a 25-foot concrete service road and were in Wembley Stadium two minutes after they walked out of their hotel lobby. The Ravens were faced with a 45-minute bus ride.

It's worth noting that the Ravens could have rejected the NFL's hotel assignment and asked for something different. Therein lies the advantage Jacksonville had. They knew better than to stay at Heathrow. The Ravens, as "rookies" on the U.K. journey, didn't know what was best and what wasn't. They didn't know about traffic patterns, no police escorts or anything else.

You can bet, for certain, that the Ravens will stay much closer to Wembley if they ever get the call again to play in London.


LOCKER ROOM UNREST

This is a little bit less clear than the travel issues above because those from the organization who were willing to speak on it were intentionally vague.

But this much is certain: John Harbaugh heard whispers of the potential for a multi-player kneeling protest on Saturday evening. "There's something brewing for tomorrow," Harbaugh was told by a veteran player.

But with team and positional meetings to deal with on Saturday evening, and a football game to plan for, Harbaugh didn't want to distract from the task at hand.

It wasn't until after Sunday morning's chapel service that Harbaugh learned, officially, that several players were planning on kneeling during the national anthem.

The apparent "ring leader" of the nine who kneeled on Sunday, was it a coincidence that Terrell Suggs had an "off" day in the 44-7 loss to the Jaguars?

They were, Harbaugh was told, angry at President Trump's comments on Friday night in Alabama. They stressed to the head coach the kneeling was in no way intended to be a sign of protest against the flag, the police or the military. This, they said, was all about showing their anger at the President.

At that point, team officials hustled to get a statement prepared from owner Steve Bisciotti. Bisciotti said the only thing he could say: "We support our players". Any message other than that would have potentially fractured his team's locker room for the long haul. And the Ravens are in business to win football games, first and foremost.

Two veteran players -- one on each side of the ball -- apparently took exception to the planned protest and a brief discussion ensued -- with those who planned on kneeling -- before the team went out for warm-ups. Several other players didn't approve of the kneeling. Originally, there were six guys who were going to kneel, but that number grew to nine by the time it happened.

I think I know who the two main veteran dissenters were, but it's probably not fair for me to guess. Interestingly -- both had very poor performances on Sunday.

None of the 22 starters played well on Sunday. A few might have had "mixed" performances overall, but the main pieces of the team's offense and defense were all "off" -- and that's being kind.

Joe Flacco had a woeful game until he was finally replaced in the 4th quarter with the Ravens trailing 44-0. He missed open receivers, failed to read a collapsing pocket on numerous occasions, and, frankly, looked like he was in "don't care" mode from the first series of the game.

After playing like a man possessed in the team's first two games, Terrell Suggs was a no-show on Sunday at Wembley. He's had bad performances before, but this one was a real stinker.

C.J. Mosley, one of those who kneeled, had one of the worst games of his young career on Sunday. He was schemed against repeatedly by the Jacksonville offense.

Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle was bad as well. The receivers couldn't catch a cold, let alone a pass. Even the special teams units were out-of-sorts, with punter Sam Koch having a rare off day.

If you had flown in from Pluto before the game and knew nothing at all about the two teams, the travel issues, the pre-game kneeling controversy, etc., you would have thought perhaps the Ravens were in cahoots with Las Vegas -- if you know what I mean. That's how shockingly bad they performed on Sunday.

The Ravens didn't "just" play poorly in London. They produced perhaps the worst total team effort in a decade.


A PERFECT STORM

So what actually did happen in London?

A little bit of everything, I guess you could say.

The Ravens were completely unprepared for the nuances of the trip. That's number one. In fairness to them, they were unprepared because they'd never done it before. And no matter how much you've traveled or how many planes you've flown on, you can't experience traveling to the U.K. until you've traveled to the U.K.

And let's remember this. Those of us who traveled over there to the game were likely part of a four or five day excursion that resulted in lots of sightseeing, eating, drinking and revelry.

We "went to London".

The football team was just playing another game. They didn't get to see Westminster Abbey or the London Tower or Buckingham Palace. They traveled seven hours to play a football game. It wasn't nearly as exciting for them as you might think. If anything, it was actually a nuisance.

Lost in the hoopla of the "kneeling story" was the outstanding play of Blake Bortles, who carved the Ravens up on Sunday in London.

Want the truth? They didn't really want to be there. And it showed.

Jacksonville came out firing. Everything they did was right. Most of what the Ravens did was wrong. By the time the Ravens realized they were in for a dogfight, Jacksonville had all the momentum going their way.

The Jaguars vastly outplayed the Ravens last Sunday. But they aren't 37 points better than John Harbaugh's team. If they played the Jaguars in London once a year for the next ten years, the Ravens would never again lose 44-7.

Jacksonville produced a superior performance, for sure, and the Ravens weren't ready for it and had no idea how to combat it once it started happening.

And then there's the locker room issue. It also mattered. While the players always say the right thing afterwards -- "we're a team, a unified group, and we support one another" -- anytime there's friction in the locker room, it creates an unwanted distraction.

The players who decided to kneel before the game knew it was going to be a story. They knew they were going to be spotlighted in the same way any players kneeling during the anthem have been cast as "misguided" by a large portion of the league's fan base.

Is it a coincidence that some of the veteran players who kneeled had woeful performances? Were they distracted? Tense? Unable to play up to their capabilities? I don't know. Maybe. I certainly wouldn't rule it out.

Everything added up to a snowball effect on Sunday.

From the minute the team left Baltimore, nothing was working in their favor.

It was a perfect storm.

I doubt they make the trip back over there, at least not in the Harbaugh era, anyway. But if they do, they'll handle it all much better, you can take that to your local SECU branch.


we had a record day at #dmd on tuesday


Much like Baltimore sports radio enjoyed an enthusiastic, energetic day on Tuesday, we experienced the same sort of activity here at #DMD yesterday.

We enjoyed our best "traffic" day ever, yesterday. Easily, in fact.

Hopefully those who were new visitors will come back again today and tomorrow and we'll continue to build the base of commenters and those who elect to engage with one another.

I am particularly proud to say that everyone's "behavior" in the comments section yesterday was impeccable. I was concerned, of course, about the potential volatility of the comments section given the polarizing topic of the day -- the nine Ravens (and Ray Lewis) who took a knee on Sunday in London.

Not one comment was removed for bad language or any other sort of insensitive remark that I might have felt to be out of line.

So, thank you for that. Seriously...

We'll continue to follow along with the prominent stories regarding the Ravens and, as you see at the top of the website every day, hopefully provide you with unique "opinion and insight". We encourage you to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

It's just like talk radio, actually, except you don't get 60 seconds to speak your mind -- you can take as long as you want to write down your thoughts and publish them here.

So, thanks to all of you who stopped by yesterday for our record-setting day. If you didn't make it yesterday, you can scroll down below to see the various contributions on the Ravens and the comments from the readers.

And, since you're here right now reading this, thanks for stopping by again today.

If you're heading out to Curley later today for the big soccer game, I'll see you there.

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i need a 4-game orioles winning streak


At the beginning of the baseball season, I predicted the Orioles would finish 79-83 in 2017.

Right now, I have the "83" part right after last night's 10-1 thumping they took in Pittsburgh.

If they can somehow win their final four games, I'd get the "79" part correct as well.

Kevin Gausman gave up six earned runs in four innings of work last night, falling to 11-11 on the season in the 10-1 loss in Pittsburgh.

It's a small consolation for a season-gone-bad, I suppose. I didn't "bet it", so who really cares if I correctly picked the team's record five months ago?

Alas, I can't imagine they're going to win four straight games. The Birds are clearly in neutral now. I wouldn't say they've quit. That's not entirely accurate. But they have lost their interest in competing.

This probably isn't just an Orioles issue. Lots of teams who are out of the post-season race probably look like they're just going through the motions. Toronto is an exception, as they are looking to play spoiler in Boston, where they've now defeated the Red Sox on successive nights.

Last night's 10-1 loss in Pittsburgh notwithstanding, the Birds gave it a varsity effort all year. They just weren't good enough. Spotty starting pitching, a decent-but-not-great-bullpen, and an offense that fizzled out in September all contributed to their downfall.

One of the things I like most about baseball is that it's a grind. No one ever "fluked" their way to a division title or a playoff spot. The season is just too long for that kind of irregularity. Market correction eventually happens to any kind of team that isn't good enough to make the playoffs.

I guess you could say the Orioles faced their own form of market correction when they started the season at 22-10. For a while there, they really looked the part.

But the grind, as I like to call it, quickly caught up to them.

You can occasionally get a NFL team who gets into the playoff picture by virtue of a weak division, a couple of key injuries to teams they face late in the season, or a quirky schedule that has them facing another division in a season where those teams are all "off".

Baseball doesn't afford that sort of luxury. Everyone plays 162 games and each team within their own division plays the same teams every season. I like that about the competitive balance of the MLB schedule.

I just wish the Orioles had played better this season.

I saw a World Series in Baltimore in 1983. I went to Game 2 in Baltimore and Game 4 in Philadelphia. I haven't personally seen a World Series game since. It's disappointing, to say the least.

And if they lose their last four games and finish at 75-87, that doesn't say anything different about the Orioles than if they win their last four and finish 79-83. Don't tell the players this, since we like to see millionaires earn their money, but it doesn't really matter what they do in Pittsburgh tonight or in Tampa Bay this weekend.

As long as none of the Orioles take a knee during the national anthem, we're going to let this debacle of a season end without much attention at all.

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record crowd sees umbc tie #1 maryland in men's soccer


UMBC senior midfielder Gregg Hauck scored the game-tying goal in the 59th minute and the host Retrievers held on for a 1-1 double overtime against the No. 1-ranked Maryland Terrapins last night on the campus of UMBC.

The game was played before a record crowd of 3,766 at Retriever Soccer Park. The mark broke the previous record of 2,873 against Howard on August 28, 2017.

UMBC midfielder Greg Hauck scored in the 59th minute last night to give the Retrievers a 1-1 tie with undefeated and #1 ranked Maryland.

UMBC is now 5-2-2 on the campaign, while Maryland remains undefeated at 6-0-3. UMBC is now 1-0-2 in its last three meetings with Maryland.

"This was a great crowd tonight. I'm proud of the fans and the Baltimore soccer community for their support tonight," head coach Pete Caringi said after the match.

After a scoreless first half, Maryland got on the board in the 55th minute, as Donovan Pines knocked in a cross after a corner kick. But less than five minutes later, Hauck netted his tenth career goal, redirecting a feed from senior midfielder Sammy Kahsai.

"Can't say enough about Gregg. He is one of if not the best in the air and he is the heart and soul of the team," Carinigi said about Hauck.

Both teams had their chances late in regulation, but both goaltenders stood up to the task as the contest went to overtime.

In the extra session, the Terps had all the chances in the first ten minutes, but UMBC keeper Ciaran O'Loughlin made sprawling saves to keep the match tied. The final ten minutes saw the Retrievers with the run of play as Colin Weyant ripped a shot that was saved, followed by Cormac Noel that went just wide as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

O'Loughlin made seven saves for UMBC, while Dayne St. Clair captured five for the visitors. Maryland outshot UMBC 24-12, with Noel leading the Retrievers with five shots.

The Retrievers open conference play versus No. 14 New Hampshire at RSP on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.


curley hosts calvert hall today at 4 pm


It doesn't quite feature the rivalry status of Calvert Hall-Loyola football, but the two annual soccer meetings between Curley and Calvert Hall are always worth circling on the schedule.

The first of those two get togethers will take place today at Curley where the #1 Friars host the Cardinals in the annual "Reif Cup". The two schools alternate the site where they play for the Cup each year.

The "Reif Cup" commemorates the contributions of former Curley coach and legend Bernie Reif, whose son Chris was a standout at Calvert Hall in the early 1980's.

Curley is 10-0-0 on the season and leads the MIAA A-Conference at 7-0-0.

Calvert Hall is 4-3-0 in the conference.

The two teams split the two regular season games a year ago and the Cardinals squeaked out a thrilling 3-2 win in the MIAA championship game last November, battling back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to claim the title.

Kick-off at Curley is set for 4 pm today.

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Tuesday
September 26
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issue 26
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it's time for nfl to clear the air and clear the field


True story: Last Tuesday night as my group of 25 travelers was heading to London for the Ravens game, a young man in his early 20’s approached the gate area at Dulles Airport wearing a gray tee-shirt with black lettering.

The tee-shirt simply read:

F**K YOU YOU F**KING F**K

Except there were no asterisks. All the words were spelled out in their entirety.

For a second, I considered approaching him and letting him know that I had a 10-year old and 7-year old within easy view of him and his shirt. I didn’t know what I’d say after that, but I rehearsed the words several times trying to find the right way to bring it up to him.

But I didn’t speak with him about the shirt. I realized, while considering it all, that he was wearing that shirt in that moment for one simple reason: Because he could.

He wouldn’t wear it if he worked for Royal Farms or Chick fil-A or ABC Rental Center of Rosedale. He wouldn’t wear it while working for any company that dealt one-on-one with the paying public, in the same way he wouldn’t wear a shirt that read, “KKK Forever”, “No Gays Allowed” or “White Lives Don’t Matter”.

He might very well wear a shirt that vile and repulsive if he worked from home or ran his own internet-based business that didn’t require him to come face-to-face with the people who supported his business, whatever it might be.

He might wear those shirts while representing himself, in an airport, a mall or a sports arena. But he would not wear any of those shirts if he sold chicken sandwiches, coffee, blue jeans or computer products in a public setting.

The NFL should immediately ban this from its playing field. No more owners on the field during the national anthem.

Why wouldn’t he wear it? Because the company wouldn’t allow him to wear it.

Stick with me. We’ll refer back to that scene at Dulles Airport as the “tee-shirt guy”.

This is an extremely critical time for the NFL and its 32 member teams. The events of this past Sunday have created turmoil off the field of play in a way the league has never before seen.

There have been player strikes, referee labor issues and other situations that have affected the on-field product, but nothing has the potential to fracture the players, the teams, the fans and the league like the current situation involving players who are refusing to stand for the national anthem.

Fans are threatening not to attend games this weekend. Some are saying they’ll never again purchase a ticket or a piece of merchandise. Well-organized social media groups are talking about mass protests of their own.

Behind closed doors, national and local sponsors of the league and the teams are making their opinions known. Unlike the fans, who spend in hundreds and thousands of dollars, the beer companies, credit card giants, airlines and computer makers spend in millions of dollars.

Both entities are critical to the success of the league. They’re just critical in completely different ways.

I’ve opined on this subject a lot over the last year. I haven’t changed my opinion on it, either, although my interest in the whole thing has certainly heightened given that the Ravens are now a major player in all of it after their stunt on Sunday in London.

This seems like the best time, then, to dive deeply into what’s going on, what the NFL should do about it, and what options the fans and players both have as well.


THE NFL IS TO BLAME

This is very simple to dissect but awfully difficult to manage now that players have been “kneeling” for the better part of an entire football season (broken up over a year).

The league should have acted in a much more heavy-handed manner when Colin Kaepernick first took a knee last year in protest of racial inequality and whatever else he was rallying against.

Once they failed to act, the game was on. And they’re losing, now, big time.

This is not about Kaepernick’s “rights being violated”, nor is it about any player in the league not being afforded his first amendment right(s).

The NFL should have said from the very start that all players will either stand for the national anthem or stay in the locker room until such time as the national anthem is completed.

They should have said, simply, “That’s our company policy”, in the same way Royal Farms or Chick fil-A or ABC Rental Center would tell the Dulles Airport tee-shirt guy he would not be allowed to wear that shirt while working for them because it’s “company policy”.

It baffles me why that’s so hard for anyone to figure out, particularly people who are much smarter than I am.

The league would not allow a player to wear a “KKK” sticker on his helmet, even if he snuck it on there just before the game began. Why? Because it’s “company policy” that a player’s uniform is under their direction and their control.

In that vein, a player’s behavior ON THE FIELD is also under their direction and control. The NFL and its member teams have the right to control what a player does while he is WORKING FOR THEM and associating in a personal manner with the paying public.

This is not about violating someone’s rights. We’ll get back to that shortly.

The league created this issue when they let Colin Kaepernick tell them how he was going to conduct himself while working for them.

Yes, Kaepernick “started it”. But lots of people try to get away with things at their place of employment. Longer lunch hours, skipping out early to play golf or go to a ballgame, using the company credit card for an unapproved dinner or trip…those efforts are often times picked up on by the company and the guilty employees are then told, “I’m sorry, but you can’t do that while you’re working for us.”

Unfortunately, the NFL didn’t do that with Kaepernick. They allowed him to keep on doing it, despite the growing tension it was creating with their fan base and corporate sponsors.

So, yes, Kaepernick started it, but the NFL screwed it up.

And then, as we saw on Sunday when the Ravens shocked everyone with nine people kneeling plus Ray Lewis (we’ll get to him a while, too), individual teams were left to hope they weren’t affected within their own locker room. And most of those teams weren’t ready for the uprising or the after-shock.

The Ravens definitely weren’t ready for it. Nine players kneeled, thirty seven didn’t and the team lost 44-7 in one of the most blistering, embarrassing defeats in the last decade. And they had a hurricane on their hands afterwards when Baltimore went ballistic with threats of fan boycotts and corporate sponsor rejection.


HERE’S THE EASY SOLUTION

This is an easy fix, I think.

The NFL should immediately adopt a new mantra, both internally and publicly, and establish it effective this weekend.

Five simple words: ”We’re going back to football.”.

The focus of the league, the teams and the games will now be on one thing: Football.

Starting this Sunday, no teams should (will) come out to the field for the national anthem.

Players should still be allowed to do this during the national anthem if they so choose -- but only within the confines of their own locker room.

It will still be played in the stadium like it was last weekend. Fans can honor the country, remove their hats, sing along, etc. The players and the entire organization, though, will not be on the field.

Every stadium has TV’s in both locker rooms that are connected with the video boards. You often hear a player say, when they were injured, “I watched the rest of the game in the locker room.”

The national anthem will be “televised” on the video board and players can elect (or not) to watch it in the locker room and can choose to stand, kneel, or sit on the toilet if they so choose while the national anthem is played. But they will be doing so IN THE LOCKER ROOM, where the fans and the sponsors and the paying public will not be aware of who is doing what.

Terrell Suggs can still take a knee this Sunday. He can sit on his stool naked if he wants. His rights are not being violated. He just won’t be allowed to observe the national anthem on the field. And neither will any of his teammates.

This must be a league-wide policy. It can't be left up to individual teams, for there are simply too many variables that play out given each team's location, player roster make-up and ownership's political affiliation. What's accepted in San Francisco, for example, might not be accepted in Kansas City or Baltimore or Atlanta.

As we've seen, this decision can't be left up to teams. So the NFL needs to establish "company policy" and get it out on the table, pronto.

We’re going “back to football”, folks. We’re not going to worry any longer about who is standing, sitting, protesting, pissed off, arm-in-arm, etc.

This is the easiest, simplest way for the NFL to immediately corral this problem and ease the tension level.

It’s not the perfect solution – because there ISN’T a perfect solution. I mean, the perfect solution in MY opinion would be for all the players to stand at attention for the national anthem, but that’s not going to happen any longer.

So, let’s deal with the issue and come up with a reasonable solution.

Neither team on the field for the anthem is the best way to do it.

Oh, and if “we’re going back to football” also means doing away with “Breast Cancer Awareness” month and military fly-overs and in-stadium promotions for the Army, then so be it.

The league can still figure out how to actively support those causes and donate the millions they already donate without having the players run around sporting pink socks, gloves and ankle tape throughout the month of October.

I lost my mother to cancer in 1986. I’m sympathetic to the cause in a very personal way.

But if the league is “going back to football”, there might be some collateral damage there and promotional campaigns like military fly-overs and pink socks could be part of it.

The message to the players around the league should be clear: “We’re going back to football. We’re running the league. You work for us. We make the rules. But we’re going to make a concerted effort to make every Sunday about FOOTBALL and nothing else.”

If a football player can’t align himself with that sort of policy, he probably should go work elsewhere.


CLEAR THE FIELD, PLEASE

And here’s a sticky by-product of “going back to football”, but it has to be done.

No more owners, sponsors, former players and general hanger-ons will be permitted ON OR AROUND THE FIELD once the warm-up period is over and the teams have retreated to their respective locker rooms.

I’m sorry – and I know some of those ego-maniac owners are going to pitch a fit -- but we’re going “back to football” and that means no more owners on the sidelines standing there arm-in-arm with their players before the game.

The owners should be in their sky suite drinking wine, eating shrimp and thanking the sponsors who continue to support their product.

That Jacksonville owner on the sidelines Sunday? Dan Snyder down there on Sunday night man-hugging his players a minute before the game? Jerry Jones kneeling and standing with his players last night in Arizona? Noble gestures. And silly ones, too.

The owners wouldn't be down there if the league had a policy about the anthem that didn't require them to subject themselves into what has become a publicity stunt of historical proportions.

No more owners on the field before the game.

They won’t like it, but that’s too bad.

Ray Lewis? You were a helluva player. You’re an icon in our city. But you are not allowed on the field anymore, unless you’re a coach. You have no business being down there on bended knee before the game, period.

If the Ravens want to invite Ray Lewis into their locker room before every game, they are more than welcome to do that.

But former players are not allowed ON THE FIELD anymore.

Neither are VIP’s, sponsors, and golfing buddies of the owner.

Before the game? Come on down, get pictures, post ‘em to Facebook and Twitter – do your thing. After the game? Same thing.

But during the game, the only people ON THE FIELD are game officials, TV folks, football players, coaches and the team medical staff.

Owners and former players participating in the national anthem? Not anymore.

It’s just not good business, regardless of whether you stand there with your hand over your heart or get down on two knees in protest.

You’re the owner of the team. The focus is not on you during the game. It's on football. Period.


CLEAR THE AIR

This one is simple, too, but once again, it will be difficult to convey this message without friction and tension rising to the surface.

The NFL, in the nicest way possible -- so no one's feelings get hurt, as we've seen the players are very delicately balanced -- needs to remind the entire league-wide playing roster that they are EMPLOYEES first and foremost.

The league sets "company policy" and the players abide by it.

If there's a rule in place already requiring the players to stand for the anthem, those players choosing not to do so have therefore violated said policy. But the league, in its wishy-washy state, allowed for the players to be insubordinate, for reasons no one can seem to figure out.

"Going back to football" now means the league should run a tighter ship. And they need to remind the players that they're employees who are bound to a set of reasonable rules. If they believe those rules to be too difficult to follow or too structured for fairness, they can choose to seek employment elsewhere.

There's a fair, non-combative way to say this. The players should be able to understand it, although they'll like be upset with the fact that they're no longer allowed to run the league themselves.

Each member team likely already does a pretty decent job of this sort of "employee relationship" stuff. They're cognizant of the fact that the players are vitally important to their success and profitability. This isn't a coffee shop, where you replace a 22-year old kid with a 22-year old kid if he or she gets their feathers ruffled because they can't wear their Judas Priest tee shirt to work.

The NFL roster is already somewhat mediocre-laden as it is. So the teams do a good job of keeping everyone happy and getting them to perform at their highest level possible.

But the league needs to remind the teams and the players that ultimately Roger Goodell and his staff run the NFL.

Goodell might not be the right guy for the job. If that's the case, get him out. But the NFL employs everyone and that reminder message needs to be issued.


WHAT DO THE PLAYERS REALLY WANT?

To me, this is the most pressing and confusing question of the whole saga.

What are the players protesting, really?

Now, this past Sunday, they were probably protesting the President of the United States calling them “son of a bitches” at a political rally last Friday night.

And, as I wrote on Twitter Sunday and again here at #DMD on Monday, that was a shameful act from President Trump and he owes the players a public apology. End of story there. He should be ashamed of himself for using that sort of language in public, 2017 or not. He’s the President. He’s above that. Or maybe not.

Roger Goodell should hold a news conference today and demand an apology from President Trump on behalf of his employees. Yes, I know, the teams technically “employ” the players, but Goodell oversees the company that employs all of them.

If Goodell doesn’t do that, he’s missing a golden opportunity to get things back on track – albeit perhaps only marginally – in his company.

But Sunday aside, there’s a deeper issue that needs to be figured out.

What's the issue? Police brutality? Criminal Justice Reform?

I read the “letter to the Commissioner” last week that was authored by four players back in August.

Paraphrasing here, they want the NFL and the member teams to help clean up racial inequality in our country, plus help improve the criminal justice reform system in the U.S.

Are you kidding me?

The league can’t figure out if that was a catch, a fumble, a reviewable play, pass interference, running into the kicker or roughing the kicker – and you want them to help fix racial inequality in our country?

Teams are charging $10.00 for a beer that they buy from the distributor for $2.00. And you want them to fix your city? They're far too busy trying to make money -- $167 million of which goes to each team for player salaries every year -- to worry about police, poverty and community safety.

In fairness, our government should be worried about those things. Let the NFL worry about one thing: Football.

Do the players really in their heart of hearts think the National Football League has any idea at all how to improve the criminal justice reform system in the U.S.?

I mean, seriously…

I’m a dummy from Glen Burnie and I can fix the criminal justice reform system in the U.S.

Ready? Here goes.

Stop. Committing. Crimes.

Unless you’re Tom Selleck in “An Innocent Man” and you come out of your shower with a hair dryer and get shot because of a case of mistaken identity (and the wrong address of a drug dealer), chances are pretty good you’re not going to mix with the criminal justice reform system in this country if you DON’T COMMIT A CRIME.

The players should first hold themselves accountable, as a group. Stop getting arrested for DUI, stop getting arrested for punching your girl, stop getting arrested for selling or possessing drugs. There, we’ve already attacked the problem in a positive way.

Yes, yes, yes, I’m aware of racial profiling. It exists, yes. Do people get arrested in this country without probable cause and/or sufficient evidence? They do, yes.

But the NFL most certainly isn’t going to fix that problem.

The NFL needs to get back to football.

Remember? “We’re going back to football.”

The players demanding that the NFL get involved both financially and “spiritually” with their community and civic efforts is all well and good, but you’re basically asking a high school kid taking biology to perform an autopsy on a 38-year old male who passed away suddenly from unknown causes.

The NFL barely knows how to run a football league at this point.

I definitely think our country needs to be “cleaned up”. No doubt about that.

But I don’t think the NFL has any more idea of how to do that than does your neighbor’s cat.

Let the NFL stick to football, please. They’re challenged enough with that.


PROTEST ON “YOUR TIME”

There’s no reason at all for the players to discontinue their protests or whatever it is we’re “officially” calling it these days.

I say they should keep on protesting.

But they should not be allowed to do it ON THE FIELD unless the NFL -- the “company” – allows for it.

If the NFL allows for it, so be it. At least then, fans and sponsors will know where to direct their anger and discontent.

But in the meantime, per “company policy”, players will follow the guidelines set forth by the league. And if that means you stand for the anthem, you stand. If that means you watch the anthem inside in the locker room, you watch it there.

And while I was vehemently opposed to President Trump referring to the players as “son of a bitches”, his root-message wasn’t that far off target. If the “company” doesn’t like your performance or the way you go about it, they most certainly have the right to fire you.

So, the players have a choice. Obey company policy, risk getting fired if you don’t, or quit. That’s the way it works in the “real world”.

If you don’t like your job, you have the right to quit. Easy peasy. You get tired of your boss or your co-workers or your working conditions and you go in and resign.

NFL players have the same right. They can quit.

And please don’t be one of those people who says, “If a few of the best players quit, the league will suffer.”

The league has flourished long after John Unitas, Joe Montana, Walter Payton, John Elway and Ray Lewis all retired. The league goes on, friends. There’s no one player or group of players who are going to derail the NFL because they quit over a national anthem protest.

Alas, here’s the rub. Except for a very select few (Tony Romo, Bart Scott to name two), none of the players in the league are going to make as much money NOT playing football as they make PLAYING football.

Where’s Joe Flacco going to make $20 million if not for the NFL?

How’s Terrell Suggs going to make $12 million if he doesn’t play football?

So, the idea of “quitting” isn’t realistic anyway. None of them are quitting, at least while they’re healthy enough to keep making those millions per-year.

Given their anger, though, their only viable option at this point is to protest whatever it is that they’re protesting.

And here’s the thing: They’re not protesting anything related to the NFL or their job. They’re protesting rambunctious police, for starters. They’re protesting racial profiling and inequality in their own community.

They should protest those things if it bothers them enough to do so. Have at it. Use those first amendment rights and protest away.

But they can’t protest those things on company time, in the stadium, wearing the approved uniform of their employer.

Why don’t the nine Ravens who took a knee on Sunday in London stage a post-game protest on Russell Street after this week’s game with the Steelers?

People would show up. They’d get an audience. Their message would be heard.

They can protest to their heart’s delight AFTER THE GAME, ON THEIR OWN TIME, IN A PLACE THAT DOESN’T INTERFERE WITH THE MESSAGE THEIR EMPLOYER IS EITHER SENDING OR WOULD LIKE TO SEND TO THE PAYING PUBLIC.

Why do they have to protest on the sidelines before the game?

We know why. Because they’re looking for attention, in much the same way tee-shirt guy was looking for attention at Dulles Airport last week.

Tee-shirt guy wore that shirt because he could. He wore that shirt because he probably hoped some old fogey like me would approach him, at which point he’d say, “I can wear whatever I want, pal.”

But he wouldn’t wear that shirt while working for a bank or a restaurant or a coffee shop.

And the players wouldn’t organize a protest after the game in the stadium parking lot because it wouldn’t draw enough attention to their plight.

That’s when you know it’s a protest for publicity, not a protest for action.

Terrell Suggs and Lardarius Webb both have a platform in this city. I applaud their efforts in trying to make it better. But they should be doing that on THEIR time.

They are paid to play football and perform duties as directed by their employer.

Somehow, the league failed to issue that message to Colin Kaepernick last year when he started this fiasco. I’ll say it again: Kaepernick lit the fire, but the NFL not only didn’t put it out, they fanned the flames and let it burn by not controlling it from the start.

Players should not be allowed to protest – peacefully or otherwise – on company time. Period. They are in that stadium to play football.

It’s not that much different than Mr. Hand in a funny scene from “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” when Jeff Spicoli has pizza delivered to the classroom.

”This is MY time,” Mr. Hand says. “Food will be eaten on YOUR time.”

The same goes for the NFL and the message they should send to the players starting this coming weekend.

”Protesting will be done on YOUR time -- ”We’re going back to football.”

None of this is being done to say "the players are right" or "the league is wrong".

It's being done to diminish the incredible amount of tension circulating with the fan base of the NFL and, potentially, with the myriad of corporate sponsors who pony up billions of dollars locally and nationally in support of the NFL.

They matter. Fans matter. Sponsors matter. And their feelings should be taken into account, too.

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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.



This week's edition of "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" will abandon the winners/losers format. Let's face it: When you lose 44-7 and honestly can't believe it wasn't 60-0, there are no winners and too many losers to fairly single anyone out.

A few thoughts on the game are worthwhile, though.

Defensively, the most notable difference between this game and the season's first two (besides the complete lack of a pass rush presence) was the abysmal performance by the entire linebacker group in pass coverage. In weeks one and two (particularly the former) the inside linebackers were the unsung heroes of the game defensively, executing a great gameplan to plug throwing lanes and keep Andy Dalton from using the deep middle of the field.

After starting the season with two excellent performances, C.J. Mosley was part of the Ravens' linebacking crew who was torched by Blake Bortles and the Jaguars on Sunday in London.

The best example of this was C.J. Mosley's endzone interception in Cincinnati. Against the Jaguars, however, the group just looked lost, and Blake Bortles abused them all game long, particularly using play action. It's downright absurd that a fake double reverse into a passing play would be able to work against an NFL defense, but Tyus Bowser lost his focus on the play and Marcedes Lewis was able to leak off the line and sneak right past him to get open. That play really summed up the day, as the entire team looked sluggish and mentally overwhelmed.

Perhaps there's something to the idea that they didn't go a good job of acclimating to the trans-Atlantic travel schedule beforehand.

I will also offer one decidedly more controversial #Hottake after the Laugher in London: It's well past time for Ravens fans to stop making excuses for Joe Flacco.

I know, it's somewhat reflexive at this point.

During the first five years of Joe's career, Baltimore fans had to listen to national media and fans talk about being held down by their quarterback, and developed a habit of reflexively brushing off criticism of Flacco as naive and ill-informed. I was right there with you! I most definitely was not one of the Flacco-haters in the early years of his tenure, and indeed confidently predicted that he'd take the Ravens to a Super Bowl whenever they finally dumped the lead weight that was Cam Cameron.

But the past three seasons have been different. Joe just hasn't been very good, certainly not good enough to lead a team deep into the postseason in the NFL, and there's no real sign that he's on track to getting better either.

Yet the excuses keep pouring in, as prevalent and predictable as they are consistent. "He's just under too much pressure," some will say. "Our receivers just can't get any separation," adds another. "Fire the offensive coordinator yesterday!," is the compromise position they come to (and probably just go ahead and get a head start on firing the next one while you're at it).

The faces in the supporting cast change, but the excuses for suboptimal quarterback play stay the same.

Sometimes it's enough to make you wonder if some fans in Baltimore actually watch non-Ravens NFL games. Do the people who complain that Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace aren't getting open think that the receivers in Seattle or New Orleans are running free like it's a college game every Sunday? If you chronically complain that the Ravens' pass blocking is consistently awful, do you actually pay that much attention to what the pocket looks like for Tom Brady on an average play or, maybe more importantly, the way he moves inside of it before throwing? Oh how about that; something that every good quarterback does that Flacco has been inadequate at for his entire career now!

Which brings up another issue: a good number of the "supporting cast" complaints arise specifically because Flacco doesn't help them out very much.

Football is the ultimate in interconnected games, where one guy failing at his job can make everyone else look bad as well, even if the other guys did everything right on the play. A well blocked passing play looks like a poorly blocked passing play if the quarterback doesn't properly step up into the pocket in concert with where his linemen are trying to move pass rushers or holds the ball too long.

A receiver who runs a great route and creates space for the pass as designed looks like he couldn't get open if the quarterback doesn't get the throw off in time, or doesn't accurately place the ball where it needs to be. It's no surprise that these continue to be complaints about the Ravens year in and year out, because they're aspects of the position that Flacco has always struggled with and, frankly, hasn't gotten any better at since 2012.

A 28-yard passing performance from Joe Flacco in London should be more than enough to cast concern on his abilities.

That dynamic was on open display in London. Again, no one is blameless in a 44-7 loss, and I'm definitely not saying that the offensive line covered themselves in glory throughout the game. But they weren't awful on every passing play either.

Flacco got chances to throw from reasonably clean pockets, and his receivers beat their men downfield too. The problem was that Flacco missed throw after throw after throw in those situations. He had Jeremy Maclin over the middle with position early on....and threw it high. He had Mike Wallace on the sideline with plenty of time...and overthrew it. Maybe Maclin could have made a stronger play on the ball for his first interception...but Flacco could have placed the ball outside of Maclin and away from the defender too.

On Joe's second interception, the play was beautifully blocked and Wallace looked like he might have had the safety beat over the top....but it was one of those plays where Flacco decided pre-snap where he was throwing the ball, and he never saw that Jalen Ramsey had perfect coverage underneath.

In fact, Flacco didn't accurately deliver a single pass more than seven yards downfield in the entire game, and he had plenty of protection on a good many of them. And again, that creates a negative feedback loop for everyone else on the offense as well. If you're down 23-0 the other team knows you have to lean on the passing game offensively, and if they think that your quarterback can't make throws downfield they can be a lot more aggressive with their pressure and coverage schemes, making life that much more difficult for your pass blockers and receivers.

There's a reason the quarterback is universally regarded as the most important position on the field, and it's not because Disney needs him to look like a GQ model for their Super Bowl commercial.

Flacco certainly isn't the only reason the Ravens were embarrassed in London, nor is he the only problem that needs to be addressed on the offense.

But he is the biggest problem on this team right now, and the Ravens will only go as far as his play under center can take them. You simply cannot beat good teams in the NFL with bad quarterback play, and right now the Ravens have defeated two 0-3 teams and lost to a Jacksonville squad that just might squeak into the playoffs in a weak AFC South.

Are they good enough that they have any business beating this Ravens' squad 44-7? No they're not, but that's what happens when your quarterback looks like he doesn't belong on the field at Byrd Stadium, let alone Wembley.

If Flacco doesn't play a whole heckuva lot better, it's going to be a rough go of things against Pittsburgh and Oakland in the next two weeks.

And they won't get any extra points for more excuses, either.

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TUESDAYS
with
TODD


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


it's time to remove the ray lewis statue


The soul of the Baltimore Ravens has always been about defense. Its patriarch, Ray Lewis, was the nucleus of the unit since day one, routinely preaching about the importance of backing up a teammate on the field of battle. For Lewis, the Ravens Defense is a family.

The team has always taken great pride in holding competitive teams to minimal yards per game and providing painstaking, injury-induced hits on opposing players. Forcing turnovers and demoralizing those competing on the other side of the field has always been the so-called Ravens Way.

Until now.

The headlines about politics and protesting have never made its way to the team because the focus has always been about winning, and only winning. A mantra players quickly learn once they become a Baltimore Raven.

Sorry Ray, but the statue has to come down now.

The team has always followed a similar formula implemented by other marquee AFC clubs, such as the Patriots and Steelers: Don’t bring divisive optics into the locker room because victories are rare when the team isn’t unified.

Enter London.

Baltimore fans have put up with a lot of off-the-field issues over the years. Since 1996, we’ve been introduced to stories about players involved in domestic violence, murder, and drunk driving arrests, to name a few. The outcomes are sad and unfortunate, however it’s still not enough to curb the passion the fans have for their team.

Exhibit A is the outpouring of support the Ravens received in its first ever game in jolly old England. Fans didn’t think twice about dropping big bucks to fly hours and hours to a faraway land to represent the purple. The Ravens enjoy an enviable fan base, which possesses a high degree of civic pride. Its chip-on-the-shoulder, no-respect-irritation is also the makeup of the city and the team they love, and it was proudly on display in London.

The infatuation is quickly evaporating, though, as several current—and former—Ravens decided to disrespect the USA by taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. And the most notorious of all Ravens, Ray Lewis, opted not to take just one knee — but two — as he went arm-and-arm with the bunch that thought this was a good idea.

Fortunately, I was not watching the drama unfold on television because the NFL must feel people living in New York are not worthy of such televised spectacular entertainment. Instead, I relied on DMD’s Drew to keep me posted via Twitter posts with boots-on-the-ground analysis of the game. Between reading his comments, though, I managed to check out the Drudge Report, which posted a picture (front-and-center) of Number 52, embracing his fellow protesters.

Similar to the feelings of Ravens Nation, I became incredibly angry and deceived.

A city who managed to look the other way following his arrest for a double murder in January, 2000, which also commemorated a statue standing in the plaza of M&T Bank Stadium for the man, Ray Lewis chose not only to disrespect his country but thrust a massive wedge into the middle of Ravens Nation.

As a current and soon to be hall of famer, the Ravens front office has routinely turned to Ray Lewis for guidance on personnel moves, including the hiring of coaches. Bisciotti and company have afforded him incredible influence on a team so many in the NFL would have sent packing following those horrific events in Atlanta.

For a guy who preaches about “team” and “family” and “unity,” I find it appalling how Lewis voluntarily chose to exploit the moment by kneeling with players he has mentored and send a disruptive wave of angst into the locker room. It seemed more like a celebrity stunt than protest, and likely had a significant negative impact on the outcome of the game.

What happened to the team and family, Ray, because the Ravens seemed to play like they hated each other? As the architect of the Ravens Way, should fans expect players receiving Ray’s approval are actually anti-American?

Ray Lewis’ legacy as Ravens leader is forever bruised. Steve Bisciotti needs to take a stand and say thanks, but no thanks, the next time Ray Ray decides to interject with his opinion. We already know the owner doesn’t have the chutzpah to control his current players, but he can certainly take a stand against the former ones. I’m not suggesting the fans take down his statue, yet, but it should at least be on the table for serious consideration.

Finally, the fans. American sports are generational, being passed down to the youth of the country so, they too, can enjoy record-breaking stats and potential Championships. Disrupting this flow can become toxic for any form of entertainment.

While attending my son’s lacrosse practice yesterday, the common question amongst parents was “what do I say to my kid when they ask why their favorite football player is disrespecting the flag?” The fact parents are even worried about uncomfortable dialogue proves fans of the sport are growing intolerant of player’s destructive behavior and moving away from the game.

This issue started with Colin Kaepernick and the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protests in Ferguson. It’s a cancer and likely won’t be cured. The end of the NFL is imminent. The only question the league needs to answer now is “how long does it have left?”

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ravens, flacco look listless, uninspired in 44-7 shellacking


In the 10-year history of John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco in Baltimore together, never before have the Ravens looked that overwhelmed and out-of-sorts from the opening whistle of a regular season game.

The Ravens have lost a lot of games over the last decade. They've been bloodied a time or two by the Patriots, Colts, Broncos and Steelers, but none of those losses rivaled what we saw in London yesterday.

Sunday's 44-7 loss to the Jaguars was about as gutless of a performance that a NFL team can author. To say it was "men against the boys" would be doing a disrespect to the boys, frankly.

No one in particular was to blame. And yet, everyone pretty much had a part in it, save maybe for running back Alex Collins, who was still trying and running hard when the score was 37-0.

Joe Flacco threw for a career-low 28 yards in Sunday's 44-7 loss to the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Then again, by the time Collins was breaking a sweat, the Jaguars were playing guys from their practice squad. They had the game in the bag at halftime.

Joe Flacco? Miserably ineffective. To his credit -- and this is probably about the only good thing he did all day -- Flacco tracked back after Terrance West fumbled the ball near midfield in the 3rd quarter and was able to (temporarily) save a touchdown by making a last-ditch tackle on the 2 yard line.

Make no mistake about it, though, Flacco looked bad until the 4th quarter, when he was mercifully replaced by Ryan Mallett with the game long since finished.

The Baltimore offensive line? Awful. Austin Howard and James Hurst were routinely cast aside by a hungry Jaguars defensive front and Flacco was under duress from the very first series.

It's easy to bash Flacco for his lack of production, but under no circumstances was he put in position to succeed on Sunday. And it doesn't help when receivers won't hold on to the ball, which happened several times on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

It's also worth noting that the Baltimore offense as a whole has been pretty mediocre thus far in 2017. A lot of that is going to go on the quarterback, especially when he's a $20 million-plus guy, but the reality is there's not a starter on offense who has stood out thus far in 2017.

And that vaunted Baltimore defense that had previously allowed just ten points in two games? Shredded on Sunday. By Blake Bortles of all people. That's sort of like having Charlie Brown kick four field goals against you in a 12-10 win for Peanuts.

Jacksonville even resorted to running up the score when it was 37-0 with a bush-league fake punt (that worked to perfection) in the third quarter that helped them extend their narrow lead to 44-0.

Nothing went right for the Ravens from the start.

And in fairness to the Jaguars, everything they did turned to gold.

I always like to remind folks that the other team tries, too. Jacksonville sensed early on the Ravens weren't into it, and they put their foot on the pedal whenever they could, continually embarrassing the Baltimore linebackers and secondary corps.

Blake Bortles showed up on Sunday. So did Jacksonsville's offense. The Ravens looked uninterested from the outset.

Afterwards, John Harbaugh said what you knew he'd say.

"We're not going to let one loss -- or win -- dictate our season," the coach said. And he's right about that, of course. There's no sense in standing up there after the game and hammering away at how bad the likes of Hurst, Howard, Flacco, Mosley and Jefferson played.

We all have eyes. We know what happened. The Ravens were terrible. Outcoached, for sure. Outplayed, most certainly. That it happened against the Jaguars is what's most difficult to stomach.

But it's one loss and that's all it is.

The Steelers went to Chicago yesterday, battled back from 17-7 down, forced overtime -- and lost.

The Ravens flew to London, played against a league doormat, got their asses handed to them -- and lost.

Both teams -- Baltimore and Pittsburgh -- are 2-1. The NFL is a crazy, crazy league.

In a weird way, the pre-game "kneeling saga" will probably wind up actually helping Harbaugh and the Ravens this week. The kneeling episode will likely be the take-away story from the game. The 44-7 thrashing will be a footnote to the other stuff that transpired during the playing of the national anthem.

On the field, there's not much else to say about Sunday's fiasco in London. It was an awful effort and performance from the Ravens.

Off the field, though, the trip to the U.K. was a wild success for the Ravens as a franchise. The Baltimore fan base showed up in droves, as evidenced by all the purple jerseys in the stands. In fairness, there were lots of English folks wearing those purple shirts, but make no mistake about it, Baltimore came to London and had a "smashing" time.

The Jaguars, unfortunately, also had a smashing time on Sunday.

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bisciotti, ravens have a delicate situation to handle this week


Prior to yesterday, no Ravens player had ever taken a knee during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.

That changed at roughly 2:29 pm on Sunday when nine members of the team -- plus former team member Ray Lewis -- kneeled during the singing of the anthem at Wembley Stadium.

And then, to borrow a familiar phrase, "all hell broke loose".

The picture that potentially could change the relationship between the fans of the Ravens and the organization.

Social media timelines in Baltimore erupted, mostly with displeasure.

And then, when owner Steve Bisciotti published a statement supporting the players and their decision to take a knee, even more outbursts followed.

This is going to be an interesting week in the history of Baltimore sports. The Ravens have a home game against Pittsburgh next Sunday. Lots of folks on Facebook and Twitter are stating, emphatically, that they won't attend next week's game as a protest of their own. There are rumors that corporate sponsors of the team reached out on Sunday to express their discontent with the players taking a knee.

Bisciotti has a tough, tough situation on his hands. So, too, does the NFL, but in these parts, we're mostly worried about our own team.

If Bisciotti allows his players to kneel during the national anthem, he risks losing fans and sponsors, potentially.

If Bisciotti tells his players they can't kneel during the national anthem, he risks fracturing his locker room and losing fans and sponsors, potentially.

There's no real way to win in this situation.

The league has to be careful that it doesn't appear as if they're allowing the players to run the NFL. The fans and corporate sponsors will buck that idea and say, "No, no, we -- with our money that pay your salaries -- run the league."

The 53 players on each roster will remind everyone that without them, there's no product. While they haven't yet said, "Keep us happy or else", you have a feeling that sort of public statement isn't far from happening.

The players and their publicity stunt aside, Bisciotti knows he can't afford to look like he's supporting the President of the United States after he called his players -- his employees -- "son of a bitches" in a speech in Alabama last Friday.

In my opinion, that's the real root of what happened on Sunday around the NFL. Those words were the final straw. Whether you agree with the players kneeling during the national anthem (and I don't, as I've said from the start), calling them "son of a bitches" is wrong. And from that, backlash is almost certain to be on the way.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the NFLPA issue some sort of statement today that asks President Trump to issue an apology for his remarks last Friday or else they'll "consider" not playing next weekend.

There will be lots more to talk and write about this week as it relates to this situation. Every team in the league is faced with some sort of decision. Support the players and risk aggravating a significant portion of your fan base? Don't support the players and risk causing major locker room strife? Both positions have positives and negatives.

The fans of the teams, the league and the game will have their own right to protest starting next weekend.

So, too, will corporate sponsors.

The NFL is on notice. Their ship is taking on water. Not next year, next season or next month. But now...as in next week.

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la la la, la la la la -- she finally sings


It actually happened on Saturday night when the Minnesota Twins were beating up on the Detroit Tigers (again), but I was knee-deep in London hoopla and didn't get a chance to write about the Orioles and their official elimination from the 2017 post-season.

After a week or so of prepping her voice, the Fat Lady finally belted out her best song. The Orioles are done.

This didn't come as any surprise, of course. Since their woeful June that put them behind six teams in the wild card chase, the Birds have faced an uphill climb. They got it going in August and crept to within a game of the Twins and Angels at one point, but they simply weren't good enough when it mattered most.

The team's offense collapsed in September. As red-hot as they were at one point in winning seven straight games, they were just as ice cold in losing 11 of 15 games earlier this month.

We'll have report cards on the key players and "who stays" and "who goes" later on this week, but make no mistake about it: The 2017 campaign was a major disappointment for the Orioles.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 3


Sunday — September 24, 2017
Volume XXXVIII — Issue 24

Baltimore Ravens vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

2:30 PM BST / 9:30 AM EDT

Wembley Stadium
London, England

Spread: Ravens -3.0


After nearly six months of waiting since the schedule was released last April, September 24 has arrived and the Ravens and Jaguars are set to play in London's famed Wembley Stadium today.

Let's hope the Ravens' performance today is "smashing" -- as they say over here in the U.K.

The biggest challenge facing John Harbaugh's team is the obvious one. How will traveling six hours "the other way" and losing five hours of body time affect them this afternoon at 2:30 pm local time when they take the field?

A Ravens defense that has feasted on two inept offenses thus far in 2017 isn't going to allow Blake Bortles to beat them today in London. Right?

The early season results say this is a game the Ravens should win. Jacksonville won at Houston in impressive fashion to kick-off the campaign two weeks ago, then got clobbered at home by Tennessee last Sunday. Their quarterback, Blake Bortles, is one of the league's most inconsistent performers and the receiving group he has at his disposal is weak as well.

And the Baltimore defense he'll face today has allowed just ten points in two games.

But there's always the issue of the Baltimore offense and what sort of performance they can produce. They weren't particularly sharp in week one at Cincinnati, then managed just three touchdowns against Cleveland in last Sunday's home opener.

Oh, and they lost perhaps their best offensive player for the season against the Browns when Marshal Yanda suffered a fractured ankle in that 24-10 win.

One small disadvantage for the Ravens: They've never done "this" before -- the whole London game experience, while the Jaguars have done it several times. If there's an edge there at all, it does go to Jacksonville.

This is a game the Ravens should win, but we all know how the NFL works. Nothing is guaranteed.

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keys to today's game


For the Ravens --

1. Beat the jet lag, early -- It would be ideal for the Ravens to break out quickly, score some first quarter points, and erase any issues at all that might be associated with traveling from the U.S. to England. They've had a couple of days to adjust to things, but it's still important to avoid any hint of jet leg or travel fatigue. Offensively, a fast-paced, sharp tempo would be a great way to start things in the first quarter. A turnover on the defensive side of the ball might help, too.

2. Keep Flacco upright -- With the loss of Yanda, the Ravens' offensive line is now a notch below what it was prior to last Sunday's game. Not only will that affect the Baltimore running attack, but Yanda's loss definitely creates a hole in the team's passing game as well. Teams with two decent rush ends will now lick their lips at not having to face Ronnie Stanley AND Marshal Yanda. The new guy at right tackle, Tony Bergstrom, will be responsible for helping to keep Joe Flacco upright and healthy. That's a critical responsibility for Bergstrom.

3. Create more turnovers -- Ten turnovers in the first two games -- and two wins in those contests. That's a fairly simple formula to follow for the Ravens heading into today's game with the Jaguars. It's highly unlikely they'll force Jacksonville to turn the ball over five times today, but it's critical for the Baltimore defense to be on point this afternoon like they've been in the first two games of the season. Three turnovers should do the trick today.

Tale of the tape for a Ravens win -- Get off to a good start with some points in the opening 15 minutes, make sure Flacco stays healthy for the entire game, and create at least three turnovers defensively.


For the Jaguars --

1. Score first -- The Ravens have yet to trail in a game this season. It's important for the Jaguars to find out what happens when an opponent jumps out and takes a lead. Any kind of scoring would do, field goal, touchdown, etc., but an early Jacksonville TD would potentially make things interesting.

2. Run Leonard run -- Jacksonville's top draft pick from last April, Leonard Fournette, has 140 yards rushing on 40 carries in the two games thus far in 2017. He opened with 100 yards in the opening win at Houston, then cooled off last week with just 40 yards in the loss to the Titans. With the Ravens missing defensive tackle Brandon Williams, this might be an opportune occasion for the Jaguars to run the ball. Fournette is a key part of today's game for Jacksonville. If he can hit the 100-yard mark, the Jags have a chance.

3. Bortles needs to step it up -- This might be easier said than done, but Jacksonville needs a quality performance today from quarterback Blake Bortles. Period. If he's able to maintain his composure and not turn the ball over, the Jaguars have a puncher's chance of winning this game, particularly if they're able to establish a running game with Fournette. But if Bortles turns the ball over several times and fails to ignite Jacksonville's already-suspect passing game, it could be a long day for the hosts.

Tale of the tape for a Jaguars win-- Put the Ravens behind for the first time all season, get Fournette at least 100 yards on the ground, and minimize the turnovers (two or less) by Bortles.

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how drew sees today's game


With but a few notable exceptions in his 10-year Ravens career, John Harbaugh wins the games he's supposed to win.

This, today, is a game the Ravens should win. And Harbaugh's history is that he wins them.

Expect a big day from Justin Tucker this afternoon at Wembley Stadium.

The biggest concern for Baltimore will be their ability to slow down Leonard Fournette and generate enough turnovers to create an imbalance in the effectiveness of the two offensive units.

My guess? The Ravens will be up to the task, but it's going to be close.

Baltimore hops out to an early 7-0 lead on a Flacco to Mike Wallace TD pass. Yes, after two weeks of being ignored, Wallace will be featured today to the tune of six catches for 74 yards and a TD as well.

Jacksonville ties it at 7-7 in the second quarter, but another Flacco TD throw, this one to Ben Watson, gives Baltimore a 14-7 halftime lead.

The teams exchange third quarter field goals and the Ravens tack one more on before the end of the third quarter to lead 20-10 heading into the final 15 minutes.

Jacksonville scores a TD in the 4th to make it 20-17 and Justin Tucker follows with two more field goals to make it 26-17. The Jaguars add a 3-pointer of their own late in the game to make it 26-20, but their last-ditch onside kick effort fails.

It's a little tighter than everyone hoped, but the Ravens win, 26-20, to improve to 3-0 on the year.

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show me the money


A 4-1 performance in week #2 last Sunday has moved me to 5-5 on the young season. I'm also 2-for-2 in picking the Ravens against the spread, although that's an "unofficial" statistic since I never include the Ravens in any of the five games I hand out here as part of "Show Me The Money".

Here's what our week #3 picks look like. You can thank me tomorrow morning.

STEELERS (-7.5) AT BEARS -- The Steelers are a pretty predictable bunch. They win at home by comfortable margins and squeak by on the road by whatever they need. This game shapes up to be similar to the Pittsburgh opening week win at Cleveland. The Steelers will come out on top, but it won't be easy. And this is also typically the game where Big Ben gets hurt. Just in time to miss that visit to Baltimore next week. I'm going with the Bears to cover the 7.5 points at home in a 20-16 Pittsburgh victory.


FALCONS (-3.0) AT LIONS -- This is a big early season game for Detroit. If they fancy themselves a legit contender in the NFC, this game will mean something special to them, as Atlanta is still the team to beat in that conference. The Falcons don't look like that Super Bowl meltdown is on their minds at all thus far. They won easily at Chicago to start the season, then clobbered Green Bay last week. They'll win today too, I suspect, but I'll take the Lions and the three points at home as the Falcons pull out a late 28-27 win.


GIANTS AT EAGLES (-6.0) -- I have a feeling this is one of those "regret" games as I like to call them. Everything is telling me to take the Giants and the six points. They're 0-2 and in desperate need of a win. Philadelphia hasn't yet played a home game, so the Philly faithful will be jacked up today. It all points to a colossal change of fortune, with the Giants pulling off a stunning win. I hope I don't regret this, but I'm going with the Eagles to win and cover, 30-21.


BENGALS AT PACKERS (-7.5) -- No way the Bengals win here, right? No way they cover either, right? This one is too easy. Everything points to a Green Bay romp. So it makes complete sense to choose the Bengals. They're due to do something right. Aren't they? Nope. I'm going against my gut (again) and taking Green Bay to win and cover, 34-13.


CHIEFS (-3.0) AT CHARGERS -- I guess the Chargers really are that bad. Kansas City, meanwhile, looks pretty solid with their 2-0 start and that season opening pounding they gave the Patriots in New England. I'm taking the Chiefs here, if only because I think their quality is worth three points no matter where the game is played. I'll take Kansas City in a 24-20 win.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Let's go with the Chiefs to beat the Chargers by more than three points in Los Angeles. Yes, I typed "San Diego" the first time and had to correct myself. I'll be doing that for a while, I think.


RECORD TO DATE: 5-5

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 1-1


we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!

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Saturday
September 23
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it doesn't feel like london is all that excited


There are Ravens fans everywhere throughout the city of London.

But they might be the only people really excited about tomorrow's game at Wembley Stadium.

We've been here since Wednesday and I still haven't seen one person in a Jacksonville Jaguars t-shirt, jersey or anything else with their logo. We did see the Jaguars themselves, yesterday. They are staying at a hotel right across the street from the stadium, about 200 yards or so from our hotel.

But Jacksonville football fans are either late-arriving or they didn't make the trip to London this time around.

This is the expected scene tomorrow from the Wembley Park train station to the stadium itself. It's going to be a bit crowded.

Downtown London was Ravens Central on Friday. There was a 1:30 pm pep rally -- more like a gathering of people who wanted to drink beer in the afternoon -- and apparently Ray Lewis and Jon Ogden rode through the center of the city on a bus at some point in the late afternoon. You couldn't stand on a street corner near Trafalgar Square for more than two minutes without seeing someone in purple.

But for all the pomp and circumstance of the game tomorrow, I'm still having a hard time believing the actual people in London are excited about the Ravens-Jaguars tilt.

I haven't felt it at all.

That's not to say it doesn't "feel" like something special is happening. In and around Wembley Park, there are big banners with pictures of Joe Flacco and Jimmy Smith. The Wembley Park train station is adorned with Ravens and Jaguars signage and colors.

But that's the NFL doing the work, not London itself. The league does the marketing here, complete with the logo of a certain U.S. based subway shop who is sponsoring the whole "London experience".

The tickets for the game are nearly all gone. Some single seats are still available but supposedly the place is going to be packed tomorrow at 2:30 pm.

I'm wondering who bought the tickets and who will be in those seats.

It's estimated that 7,500 people from Baltimore are here for the game. That's a strong showing.

I've yet to see anyone in Jaguars colors, as I mentioned above, but even if 7,500 of their fans were here, that still leaves about 70,000 seats needing to be filled.

Who is buying them?

I'm anxious to see how many of the seats are actually filled tomorrow. I'm hoping it's all of them.

For all the talk about the NFL eventually expanding to London and putting a "real" team of its own here, I don't think it's feasible. Unless the schedule was configured so that the London based team played all of their home games in an 8-week period, took off a week, then spent the second half of the season entirely in the U.S., I think the time change is simply too much of an issue to overcome.

And I'm still not 100% convinced that people over here really love "American football". Maybe they'd love their own team. They probably won't cling to a visitor like the Ravens, Jaguars, Dolpins or Saints (those two play here next Sunday), but the "London Monarchs" might become a viable sports franchise in the U.K.

I should have put the word "might" above in bold letters for emphasis.

This place is crazy about their own version of football, what we in the States call "soccer". And, with all respect intended to the way the U.S. has become attached to the NFL over the last two decades, support for English soccer is five times as passionate as what we've seen for football in our country.

I don't see anything replacing soccer here, or even rivaling it.

But there's a big difference between the NFL playing a couple of games a year in London with visiting teams coming to town and their fans bringing big, fat American wallets with them -- and a team based in London playing in the league itself.

And don't forget, no team in the NFL actually "likes" coming over here for these games. It's a collosal change of pace for one game. Yet, in the NFL, five or six teams each season fail to make the playoffs over "one game". Before the Ravens ever came here, I contended the teams that are forced to play in London each season are at a tremendous disadvantage. Now, I see it all more clearly. And lo and behold, I was right.

Asking teams to come over here to play a regular season game is unfair. But someone has to do it.

If only the city of London was genuinely excited about the NFL.

Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps there is much more widespread support and enthusiasm for American football than I've seen or felt over the last four days.

For now, though, I'd say London has just the right amount of NFL action in its city. Two games here, two games at Twickenham later this season in South London, and that's that.

Let's see what tomorrow brings at Wembley Stadium. Let's see how many people are there, where they're from, and whether they stay for the whole game or head home early after they've had their taste of "the other kind of football".

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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.



duquette deserves more appreciation (part two)


Part one of this commentary from Brien Jackson appeared in the September 22nd edition of #DMD and can be found by scrolling down below to yesterday's issue.

It continues today with part two, below:

Yes, if you spend a lot of time following certain local media personalities on Twitter it might take you another 10 or 20 minutes to realize it's even possible for those words to form that sentence, but the honest to God truth is that you can most easily sum up the story of what's gone wrong for the 2017 Orioles by simply saying "it's baseball, stuff happens."

No one has to be blamed for Chris Tillman and Zach Britton spending the year battling the effects of injuries.

Are we in the final week of the Buck Showalter-Dan Duquette era in Baltimore? #DMD's Brien Jackson thinks so.

No one needs to be blamed for Kevin Gausman having an atrocious start to the season before suddenly righting the ship and pitching like the guy everyone expected him to be all along in the second half of the season.

The Indians spent most of the season unable to pull away from the Twins in the A.L. Central, then they went nearly an entire month without losing and now they're one win short of the Dodgers for the most in baseball. Likewise, you REALLY can't blame anyone for the fact that Manny Machado was hitting in the .230 range at the All-Star break in spite of being in the top 5 in baseball in hard contact rate.

The story of the 2017 Orioles is one of bad luck; of things that have mostly gone right for them over the past five seasons suddenly going horribly, horribly wrong.

That happens every so often in baseball, and you can look to the 2014 Rangers and Red Sox for a good recent example. But the underlying trends that have been the hallmark of the "overachievers" in Baltimore are still there. As of Thursday morning, the team is 3 games better than their expected win-loss record, which suggests that Showalter is still adding wins at the margin for the team.

Duquette might have whiffed on evaluating Parker Bridwell back in April, but it looks like he struck gold with Miguel Castro, to say nothing of the veritable rabbit out of a hat trick he pulled in picking up Tim Beckham at the trade deadline. There's nothing different in the way they've approached this season from the way they've approached their previous years together, and it makes absolutely no sense to put more stock in one losing season than in 5 winning seasons.

There's also nothing wrong with the team's roster construction. Yes, fans complain that they're too reliant on home runs, that they lack clutch hitting, that they run hot and cold rather than scoring 4 or 5 runs every single night. You know what? Every single fanbase in baseball complains about clutch hitting and inconsistent offenses.

I was covering the Yankees when they had the most wins in baseball in 2011 and 2012, and all you heard about was a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position and consistency in runs per game. "Too many homers" even ended up becoming a derisive social media meme aimed at the tabloids.

Again, that's just baseball. One night you score 8 runs, the next you score 4, then you get shutout. If it didn't happen that way teams like Cincinnati or San Diego wouldn't win 50 games.

The Orioles definitely aren't alone in this either, as the league as a whole is trending this direction in record numbers.

The response to the power and patience era of hitting wrought by Moneyball was teams developing pitchers who generate whiffs with pitches in the strikezone. The result of that was record high strikeout rates league wide, and the response to THAT was hitting coaches teaching batters to try to hit flyballs and putting a premium on extra base hits.

Also the league office juiced the ball, leading to record home run rates and a new record for total home runs hit this season. The 2015 Royals were supposedly going to break that mold and be the new version of Moneyball, but the 2016 Royals missed the playoffs entirely while finishing 13th in the AL in runs scored.

You might not LIKE that the Orioles strikeout a lot, but that doesn't change the fact that the entire league is going through a Golden Era of sorts for strikeout pitchers, and that hitting a lot of singles has not been an effective way of combating this trend.

Conversely, they DO need better starting pitching, but there are 20-25 teams across the league that can say that at any given time, and the truth is that the Duquette/Showalter track record is one of being able to find adequate starting pitching that can be carried by the bullpen and offense.

All of that said, I expect that this has been Duquette's last season in Baltimore.

Brady Anderson is clearly positioned as Peter Angelos' preferred GM of the future, there are increasing citations of Duquette's often rocky relationship with Showalter, and Duquette has already tried to leave town once before.

The stars are lining up for a change at the top of baseball operations, but if we do end up seeing the Angelos-Anderson-Showalter era everyone seems to suspect is inevitable, I don't think it will be long at all before Baltimore baseball fans are pining for the days when Dan Duquette was calling the shots.

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we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!

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Friday
September 22
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nfl players ask for "month of activism"


For a while now, NFL enthusiasts have opined that the league is starting to show signs of a slow-crumble.

Less people actually going to the games.

Fewer TV viewers.

Player strife, in-game protests, and overwhelming concerns about long-term health issues of those who play the game.

All of it adding up to a NFL product that appears to be showing signs of real wear and tear.

But Thursday's news might be the cake-topper for the NFL.

The NFL's promotion of breast cancer research and treatment was mentioned in a memo distributed to Roger Goodell, where players are asking the league to show the same kind of support for social injustice and criminal justice reform.

Four players -- no doubt supported by a much larger number within the league-wide roster -- have petitioned Commissioner Roger Goodell to have the league oversee a "month of activism" this November, where the NFL will attack head-on many of the issues that players have been publicly dealing with over the last 12-24 months.

The letter was authored by Michael Bennett (Seahawks), Torrey Smith (Eagles), Malcom Jenkins (Eagles) and former Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was with the Buffalo Bills when the memo was forwarded to Goodell but has since retired from the league.

"As players whom have been advocating for social justice for the past year, we appreciate the opportunity to engage with you, the league, owners, coaches and GMs to make our communities stronger," the memo reads. "As we shared with you, the silence following our individual and collective demonstrations around the national anthem to raise awareness to racial inequality and issues surrounding criminal justice reform has been met with inconsistencies in press coverage and perceived lack of support."

"To counter the vast amount of press attention being referred to as the 'national anthem protests' versus the large amount of grass roots work that many players around the league have invested their time and resources, we would like to request a league-wide initiative that would include a month dedicated to a campaign initiative and related events," the memo reads. "Similarly to what the league already implements for breast cancer awareness, honoring military, etc, we would like November to serve as a month of Unity for individual teams to engage and impact the community in their market."

The NFL has been involved with promoting breast cancer awareness for the last eight years, with players wearing pieces of pink apparel on game day in October to show their support for the continued improvment of research and treatment for the disease.

Likewise, NFL teams have long been involved in military support campaigns in their stadiums which include not only marketing and advertising, but uniformed military personnel assisting with the singing of the national anthem and the display of the American flag.

The "month of activism" request would ask the NFL to treat social injustice and criminal justice reform with the same sort of dedication as the breast cancer and military programs already in place.

To some, though, the message sent by the "month of activism" might be construed as working against police and law enforcement officials, who have recently been the target of NFL players, including Bennett, who was involved in a situation in Las Vegas last month that drew national attention.

This will be the slickest of the slippery slope issues the NFL will face when they make a decision on how much support to lend the activism memo. Give in to the players and potentially anger and alienate law enforcement officials? Or face even more hostility from the players, who are clearly gaining steam with their organized effort.

"To be clear, we are asking for your support," the memo reads. "We appreciate your acknowledgement on the call regarding the clear distinction between support and permission. For us, support means: bear all or part of the weight of; hold up; give assistance to, especially financially; enable to function or act. We need support, collaboration and partnerships to achieve our goal of strengthening the community. There are a variety of ways for you to get involved. Similar to the model we have in place for players to get involved, there are three tiers of engagement based on your comfort level. To start, we appreciate your agreement on making this an immediate priority. In your words, from Protest to Progress, we need action. This would entail you and other interested owners, coaches and GM's participating in a Listen & Learn tour (a one/two-day tour) to gain the same knowledge and understanding of the issues and impact on the community. This would include a prison tour, meetings with grass-roots organizations, policy makers/non-profit leaders, police, families in the community and formerly incarcerated individuals."

This is likely going to be a very divisive topic among the NFL fan base, in much the same way that a request from four players to have the league involve itself in a "month of Christianity" would create concern.

That, of course, is the interesting backdrop to the memo asking the NFL to engage in its "month of activism".

If it's approved and the league does step forward with a wide-spread show of support for the concepts addressed in the memo, wouldn't it also be fair to have December, for example, be "Christianity month" within the NFL?

Or is Christianity too controversial these days?

Make no mistake about it, the NFL is in a jam now that the memo has been made public and the demands of the players around the league are no longer secretly sitting on Roger Goodell's desk.

The league will now be forced to act.

And, most likely, the league will be forced to show their support for the "month of activism", whether they believe in it or not.

But the most delicate issue of all involves the fans, the very people who buy the tickets, wear the merchandise and watch the games on television.

Are they going to tolerate and accept the "month of activism" and the messasge it sends, juxtaposed against the other "campaigns" involving breast cancer and the military that most people have no problem approving of and supporting?

It's a scenario where the players might wind up getting what they want, but the NFL fan base might be torn apart in the midst of it.

Make no mistake about it, the league is likely in a no-win situation here.

No matter what they do in favor of the memo and the "month of activism" request, the NFL might not be able to do enough to satisfy the players. Anything they do wrong or fail to complete to the satisfaction of the request will be looked at as an inconsistent and half-hearted attempt to satisfy them.

If the league spends $20 million on promoting breast cancer awareness month, for example, they'll now have to spend at least $20 million on social injustice and criminal justice reform. If they don't, the players will spotlight that failure as an indication the NFL isn't "all in" on the program.

The players will be looking at every single detail to ensure their program isn't being slighted or treated differently, whether that's through promotional or financial support.

And the NFL, of course, knows there's also a waiting and willing media on hand to highlight the entire campaign and publicize, if necessary, the complaints of the players.

They're in a pickle. And Roger Goodell knows it, I bet.

"Give in to the players on a subject we'd probably rather not involve ourselves in -- and risk dividing and angering our fan base?"

That's the question Goodell and the 32 owners are facing today.

And the answer they give might drive a stake through the heart of the league -- no matter what that answer is, sadly.

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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.



underappreciated duquette deserves more support


It's not official yet, but it's a near certainty that the Baltimore Orioles will finish the season with a sub-.500 record for the first time since 2011.

And despite the incredible run the team sustained between 2012 and 2016 (incredible when you consider where they were at the end of the 2011 season that is), the impending losing record has knives out all over town, demanding someone's head be offered up to the chopping block in penance for a season that can reasonably be classified as "disastrous."

The leading candidate to take the ax is general manager Dan Duquette, who's been a bugaboo for a lot of commentators for multiple seasons now. Duquette is blamed for everything from the team's "one dimensional" offense to a thin pitching staff, in addition to the team's failure to invest in international amateur talent or develop young pitching in house.

As the guy (ostensibly) running the baseball operations department that's fair, except that most of these issues have been problems for the Orioles since before Duquette was even in the organization, so it's hardly fair to make him the scapegoat.

Consider complaints that Orioles' hitters strikeout a lot and don't take many walks. It's indisputably true for both new acquisitions and players who come through the team's farm system....and it goes back to at least 2009.

Duquette may have brought in home run centric layers like Mark Trumbo, but at the end of the 2011 season the Orioles big league roster already boasted Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Davis (though the latter two are actually fairly high walk rate players even as they strike out a ton). Three of those guys, of course, would become key pieces of the 2012-16 run.

The pattern holds for players coming through the minor league system as well. Trey Mancini, Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, etc. can be called free swingers who focus on making hard contact rather than working counts, but the same can be said of the players the system developed before Duquette took the reins. That includes Manny Machado, (career 6.8% walk rate), Matt Wieters (8.2%, but only 3 seasons with a mark over that number), Jonathan Schoop (3.7%), and even Caleb Jospeh (5.9%).

You could toss Adam Jones into that mix if you want to, as he was never a high walk rate guy in the minor leagues even though he came up through Seattle's system.

And obviously, the Orioles had immense problems with developing pitchers LONG before Duquette became the general manager.

If anything, Duquette's impact on the pitching development system would seem to be a positive one, as Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are the system's two biggest success stories in well over a decade. Duquette arguably even deserves some credit for Chris Tillman's success, given that his first solid season was in 2012, Duquette's first year, and he finally cleared the 100 innings pitched mark (with a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts) in 2013.

Someone like Hunter Harvery or Tanner Scott might well get added to that list in the next few years as well.

And though this year was a total disaster for the rotation, the biggest factor in the rapid post-2011 turnaround might have been Duquette's ability to piece together a staff with largely unheralded parts. Duquette often gets criticized for winning with Andy MacPhail's players, but the starting pitching over the past half decade has been almost entirely void of MacPhail's fingerprints.

The 2012 group was buoyed over the year by Jason Hammel, Wei-Yen Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Joe Saunders (the only four pitchers to start in the postseason), all of whom were acquired by Duquette. The 2014 ALCS team also featured Duquette acquisition Bud Norris, who produced a 3.65 ERA that season. These groups might not have been a re-creation of the 1990's Braves, but they were good enough to get into October with, and they were almost entirely comprised of players acquired by Duquette.

Which brings us to Buck Showalter.

Buck came into town in 2010 talking big about competing with the hated Red Sox and Yankees, went 34-23 after taking over the job that season, and immediately became the focus of the team's marketing campaign and a certified hero in Baltimore. It got so big so fast that his 69-93 last place showing in 2011 might as well have been erased from the record books altogether!

And thanks mostly to that marketing effort, Showalter has been Teflon Buck in town, not only immune from having criticism stick to him, but coming very close to having the mere act of criticizing him treated as a form of sacrilege. At least until last year's wild card game anyway.

In retrospect, some of the praise Showalter earned from fans and especially reporters in town is cringe worthy. The best (worst?) example I found in digging through old articles on Showalter and the team's young pitchers was written by Dan Connolly in 2013, and was specifically focused on the team's latest attempts to figure out Jake Arrieta.

Connolly's March 22nd column focused on Showalter giving Arrieta the tough love treatment, even after effective outings. "[Yet] Showalter commented on the lack of strikes from the windup," Connolly wrote. "Because Showalter knows what makes his players tick. And he knows that he needs to keep stepping on Arrieta’s neck. Keep making Arrieta feel like he’s not where he needs to be." Connolly paints Showalter as a bona fide savant, who always knows what buttons to push with players. He goes on to explicitly say that if Showalter can't straighten him out, it proves that Arrieta just wasn't going to hack it as a Major League starter.

Of course, this would prove to be hilariously wrong when the Orioles finally gave up on Arrieta that same year and he almost immediately turned things around before becoming a Cy Young winner and World Series ace in Chicago. Arrieta hasn't been particularly shy about voicing his displeasure at the way he was handled by the Orioles coaching staff either, presumably including Showalter himself.

The Arrieta debacle remains a focal point in trying to read the O's organization, if only because Arrieta has been so open about what he thinks went wrong for him here.

The most specific complaint, aside from not letting him throw the cutter that later became his signature pitch, was the way the organization insisted on altering his mechanics, demanding a more direct approach to the plate. That's consistent with a dynamic that's gotten a lot of attention from local Orioles' bloggers recently: The Orioles' development system is obsessed with their pitchers' time to the plate, and that's entirely because of Buck.

It's come into focus now because the Angels have attributed Parker Bridwell's success with them to "slowing down" his delivery, and his walk rate has plummeted as a result. Multiple national reporters have also relayed that "de-Orioleing" a pitcher is actually a term that other franchises use, and if Arrieta if the gold standard for this problem, you can't lay the blame at Duquette's feet.

Buck is the most prominent common link between the Duquette and MacPhail regimes, we know he has a lot more influence on front office and player development decisions than most other MLB managers do these days, and at some point he's got to start being held accountable for the persistent problems in the organization as well.

Of course, there's another possibility and it just so happens to be the one I personally subscribe to: There's no actual reason why the franchise HAS to make any major changes at all right now.

Part Two will appear in tomorrow's edition of #DMD.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


The top half of the table is starting to take shape as we enter Matchday 6 of the English Premier League, with the blue and red side of the city of Manchester leading the way and defending champions Chelsea close behind in third. After three straight wins, Newcastle United is a surprise fourth but expect them, like Watford last week, to slip down to mid-table over the coming months.

Don’t forget about Tottenham, the model of consistency over the last two season who sit in fifth and have yet to hit top gear so far. Toss in Liverpool and Arsenal and its shaping up to be a wild year as these six sides will battle it out for the league’s top spot and top four over the next eight months! Settle in and enjoy the action with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, September 23 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Tottenham @ West Han United – London Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After looking as if they had finally ended their Wembley Stadium voodoo only days before when they beat Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener, old demons surfaced once again when, despite getting off twenty-six shots with eight of those efforts on target, Tottenham were held to a scoreless draw against a rugged Swansea City to remain winless in the league so far this year at their temporary home. They will be on the road but not far away when they kick off the weekend action with an early Saturday morning visit to the capitol stadium for a London Derby with West Ham United.

After three straight defeats to open the campaign, the Hammers followed up their first three points of the season with their second consecutive clean sheet in as many weeks in a sleepy 0-0 draw with West Brom, with the back to back efforts and always important road point helping to ease some of the pressure that was building on manager Slaven Bilic to start getting results. Having taken three of the last four visits from Spurs to their side of the capitol (L1) and five of their last nine overall in the league (L3 D1), they will be confident of making it a third result in a row this weekend.

10am – Crystal Palace @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

New manager Roy Hodgson has quite a task on his hands getting Crystal Palace back to a competitive side.

A new manager may now be roaming the touchline but the end result remained the same for Crystal Palace, with Roy Hodgson's first game in charge ending in a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton and the Eagles still searching for their first points and goal of the season now five games in. They will be hoping to avoid joining Portsmouth as the only team to lose their first six matches of a Premier League season when they travel to the Etihad Stadium to visit Manchester City, most likely the last side Palace wants to see right now after the Citizens rolled to a 6-0 victory over the up and coming Watford.

The win was the fourth straight for City across all competitions as Pep Guardiola clearly has his side purring along, outscoring opponents in those four games by a staggering 17-1 margin. City have won their last four league matches against Palace and nine of the last ten (L1) and it won’t stand to get any easier for Palace after the weekend either, as they return to Manchester next week to face second place United before hosting third place Chelsea in a London Derby the following, a brutal stretch against the top three that could potentially leave the Londoners in the table cellar for the foreseeable future.

10am – Manchester United @ Southampton – St. Mary’s Stadium, NBC Live Extra

Even though they technically conceded the top spot in the table to their noisy neighbors by virtue of alphabetical order of all things, Manchester United had little trouble matching their cross-town rivals result as they cruised past Everton, who officially now have a problem in the final third that rivals Crystal Palace as they lost for the third time in a row and were held scoreless again in the 4-0 defeat. The Red Devils will travel to the St. Mary’s stadium to take on Southampton, who moved back in to the top half of the table when they bounced back from their first loss of the season in the victory over Palace.

Despite what seems like massive roster and managerial turn over year after year, a steady pipeline of fresh talent from one of the top youth academies in Europe has kept Southampton firmly embedded in the top half of the table the last several years. They may however find it difficult to take anything from the matchup at the weekend, with United going unbeaten in their last three across all competitions (D1) and failing to walk away without points in only two of the last twenty-five get togethers between the two (W12 D3), including their last nine trips to the St. Mary’s Stadium (W7 D2).

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September 21
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this time around, red sox break out the brooms


Back in late August, the Orioles went into Fenway Park and swept the Red Sox in a weekend 3-game series.

They still hadn't climbed above the Twins in the fight for the second wild card spot, but at that point, people around town -- like the guy writing this -- started thinking that perhaps the O's were going to sneak into the post-season and make some noise.

Well, the only noise from the stadium complex in October will be on Sunday afternoons when the Ravens play.

Mookie Betts and the Red Sox kept their division title hopes alive with a 3-game sweep of the reeling Orioles, who are now 73-80 after Wednesday's 9-0 loss.

The baseball stadium will be silent...like the Orioles' bats were over the last two nights.

With their season still very much on the line, the Red Sox came to town this week and reversed things on the Birds. It was the Red Sox who brought out the brooms and swept the Orioles, winning 9-0 on Wednesday night. Even from my hotel room in London, I could follow along and feel the misery.

They still haven't officially been eliminated from the wild card race yet, but that's only because the Twins and Angels both keep on losing. The Orioles, however, are as done as done can be without -- well -- being done.

The Fat Lady is having a hot tea and her manager has just told her "5 minutes 'til show time."

We'll have plenty of days to re-hash what went wrong, who was responsible, and how to fix it going forward, but the simple explanation about the Orioles' September swoon is that their offense went in the gutter.

They failed to score in Tuesday's 1-0 loss or Wednesday's 9-0 shellacking. They only managed to scrape together a total of ten runs in three straight losses to the Yankees last week.

Maybe next season the Orioles should practice bunting and hitting to the opposite field more than they practice and rehearse their fancy post-home-run hand shakes and dances.

While performing the autopsy on the O's season, it's fair to point out the two teams that most recently clobbered them are pretty good. Boston has a real chance to make some noise in the playoffs and the Yankees could be dangerous, too. They're both better than the Orioles -- obviously.

So, three weeks ago when the e-mail came around asking mini-plan holders if they wanted "first dibs" on 2017 playoff tickets, I got suckered into buying my two seats for the post-season. Alas, that money will now go towards my 2018 mini-plan.

There will be sports activity at Camden Yards in October, but the ball in the air won't be round.

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having baked beans for breakfast


Our group of 25 arrived safely in London on Wednesday morning.

We're at the hotel this morning (3:30 am Baltimore time) having "a spot of tea" and baked beans for breakfast. It's better than it sounds, actually.

The famous London Bridge.

I've seen a lot of people wearing Ravens gear over the last 24 hours.

I haven't seen anyone sporting a Jacksonville Jaguars shirt or jersey, for those keeping score at home.

The hotel we're in is about a 4-minute walk from Wembley Stadium. I asked someone at the front desk yesterday if they were excited about the football game on Sunday. He said, "Does Chelsea play Sunday this week?"

I forgot. "Football" here is soccer.

When I said, "I meant the American football game" he replied with: "Is it at Wembley?"

Not everyone around here is as excited about the Ravens and Jaguars game as our group of 25 from Baltimore -- clearly.

From chatting with a Ravens front office staffer on Wednesday (via text), I get the sense the team and the organization aren't overly enthused with this trip across the pond.

At some point, I suppose, every team has to do it. But there's no NFL coach anywhere who wants to fly to England and play a football game that counts.

The Ravens don't want to do it this time around, but the saving grace is that they're playing the Jaguars.

I heard someone ask John Harbaugh in Monday's press conference if he planned on "doing anything" while he was in London this week. Harbaugh almost LOL'd at the question, as if he and his staff were supposed to build in three hours of daily sightseeing in advance of Sunday afternoon's game.

"We're going over there to work," he replied.

Let's just hope it's not a wasted effort.

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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.


First of all, whoever wrote last week in this space that, and I quote, “the law of averages suggests the Ravens won’t force five turnovers in a game again for several years, let alone this season,” had no idea what he was talking about.

Second of all, the Orioles played 19 games against the Yankees this year and allowed 154 runs, an average of 8.1 runs per game. I don’t even know how to analyze that, except to say that somehow the local nine actually won seven of those 19 games!

But moving on to this week…

Jamie Vardy and other English "football" stars are the sports heroes in the U.K.

I hope the #DMD group had an excellent voyage to London, where the Ravens will face the Jaguars on Sunday. I’ve been to London twice, and it’s a “World city” in the same vein of New York or Tokyo or Paris. You could visit seven or eight times and still not come close to seeing everything you’d like to see. Plus, the local residents speak English, sort of.

London was only one of the places I visited on my first trip to England, which came with the women’s soccer team from Loyola University (then College) in 2000. The team played several “friendlies” around the country against very disappointing competition; the trip organizer did a poor job of understanding the level of play of a good Division I program.

For me, the highlight of the trip did involve soccer, though, and it was away from London. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in August, we sat in a 10,000-seat stadium in a town you’ve never heard of watching a team you’ve never heard of play a game in which no goals were scored.

Despite all of that, the game played at the Alexandra Stadium in the town of Crewe, about 35 miles south of Manchester, ranks among the top five sporting events I’ve attended as a spectator for sure. The local club, Crewe Alexandra, played an entertaining draw with Blackburn Rovers in its first home match of the season.

From the buzz around town in the hours prior to the game, to the pregame pomp and circumstance in the stadium, to the quality of the game itself, to the chance to meet some of the team postgame, it was a great day.

It was authentic. It was real. It was everything a 2017 NFL game isn’t, whether you’re watching on television or in the stadium. I still appreciate it 17 years later.

Crewe, though not far from Manchester, is far enough away to feel like its own area as opposed to the suburbs. It began as a railway town, and in 2000 it still had quite a bit of that industrial feel to it. The center of town, in the blocks near the stadium, was compact and gritty.

The chip shops, where they served the fish and chips on old newspaper, were filled with chatter about the match. Our tour guide for the trip was a local chap who had once been a member of the club’s development program, and he had plenty to say about the team’s prospects that season.

Inside the stadium, pregame featured one of the more amazing moments I’ve observed as a spectator. Earlier that week, the longtime owner of the Blackburn club has passed away. Crewe asked the crowd and players to observe a period of silence in his honor, but it wasn’t a moment of silence. It was a full minute, started and ended with shrill whistles from the referee.

This was total and complete silence, with nary a murmur. When the second whistle blew, the crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers. The whole experience was the greatest show of respect I’ve ever seen at a sporting event, and English soccer fans aren’t exactly known for their respect.

As for the play on the field, I was (and am) hardly a savant of the game.

I couldn’t have told you what formation each squad was using or which of the 22 men on the pitch was having the best run of play. But this was the First Division, now known as the Championship, the second-highest level of English football after the Premier League. Blackburn, certainly a more famous and well-known club throughout the soccer world, would finish in second place in the league table and be promoted to the Premier League for the following season. This was high-quality stuff, especially on the defensive end on that day.

There was even a bit of the famous English crowd behavior to make the game more exciting. Blackburn had a star player named Jason McAteer, an Irish national with the habit of getting underneath the visitors’ skin. After one play midway through the game, much of the crowd of 7,500 began a chant in unison. McAteer, they said, was nothing but a…um…“wanker.”

I’ll leave it at that…

Anyway, by the end of the game our players had fallen in love with several of the Crewe players, especially a central defender by the name of Efe Sodje. He stood about 6-foot-5 and must have weighed 250 pounds. He was exactly the kind of athlete who never would have played soccer in the United States, especially back then.

Our guide fished Sodje out of the locker room postgame, and he took some great photos with our players, many of whom were at least a foot shorter than he was. The team store had some customers after the game too, as most of us were eager to have a souvenir from our Crewe experience.

I was disappointed to read that both Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn have fallen on some hard times in the years since. Crewe now plays in League Two, the fourth level of English football, while Blackburn was relegated to League One (the third level) after finishing at the bottom of the Championship table last season.

In English football, like in professional sports around the world, money talks. Smaller clubs in smaller towns have less of a chance than ever before, and that’s especially the case in a system where the worst teams in each league are unceremoniously sent to a lower level.

I guess that’s something the NFL does better than English football. With its revenue sharing system, there really isn’t a big difference between one NFL team and another when they start hitting each other each Sunday.

Except for the Browns, I guess. Did I mention that they became the second team in as many weeks to cough up five turnovers to the Ravens?

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wednesday
september 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxviii
issue 20
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This special edition of #DMD comes to you from a streamlined tin can seven miles above the Atlantic Ocean and hurtling at 800 feet per second toward Wembley Stadium.



making the coach proud


When you're the coach of a team, there are lots of things that make you proud.

Winning is always a source of pride, for coaches and for players.

Battling adversity, overcoming key injuries or bad breaks — you can derive pride from those things too.

As a high school golf coach, there's nothing better than seeing your "kids" go on and do great things in college.

And that goes for on the course or in the classroom.

A bunch of players from my 2013 championship team at Calvert Hall have already graduated from college! Some played Division I golf, including standouts from that title-winning team Nick Smearman, Jake Hormes, and Jimmy Grem. Those three played at Towson University.

Last October, I wrote a piece about another member of that 2013 team, Ryan Howard, whose story is so Hollywood-like it could be a movie.

Every team I've coached at Calvert Hall — five now in all — has left me with great memories of the young men who played for me.

Let's flash back to last May at Hunt Valley Golf Course, where we were facing an incredibly strong Loyola Blakefield side in the MIAA A-Conference semi-finals.

Ryan Camille (left) and Finn McGinnis were four-year members of the Calvert Hall golf team who met up again as opponents in their first college tournament this week in Hartford, Connecticut.

At day's end, the Dons produced some outstanding golf and we just didn't have it that day. High school golf is a pretty easy game to score. If you hit the ball well and make a bunch of putts, you're likely going to win. If you don't do those things, your team likely won't win.

We didn't do those things that day. It happens. The other team tries, too.

Afterwards,working hard to come up with something meaningful, I realized seven of those twelve players I was looking at all had one thing in common: They were going off to college.

I addressed the underclassmen first.

"This loss will sting for a little while," I told them. "For the guys returning next year, we need to remember what it was like to lose this way. It's not a good feeling. And let's figure out why we didn't have our best stuff today and work hard to not let it happen again."

I then looked at the seniors: "For those of you going off to college, this loss will fade fairly quickly. You're about to embark on four amazing years of your life. Enjoy it. Be smart. Work hard. GO TO CLASS! [That got a chuckle out of them.] And if you try to play golf in college, you need to realize the level of play is much higher there than here. You'll have to put the work in to make the team."

That was last May.

This past Monday, two of the seniors who heard those post-round words embarked on their college-golf careers.

In an interesting twist of fate, they not only played in the same tournament, but the two were paired together for Monday's first round at the event in Hartford, Connecticut.

Ryan Camille, a team captain in 2016 and 2017, and Finn McGinnis, a captain in 2016, made their old high school coach proud on Monday.

Camille was a walk-on at Holy Cross and not only made the team, but qualified for this week's tournament in Hartford, Connecticut by shooting 68-72, while McGinnis now plays for Fairfield University and figures to be a mainstay on their roster.

I'm proud of all of the seniors from last year's team. Several of them are in PGA Management programs at Penn State and Coastal Carolina. They're "in" golf as well, just not playing for their respective schools.

But Camille and McGinnis are college golfers now and I'm certain both of them are going to become key members of their teams over the next four years.

McGinnis was a rarity for MIAA golf, in that he started as a freshman. It's not often a ninth grader tees it up in the first event of the season, but Finn did that way back in 2014. We've had other freshmen play for me since then, but McGinnis was the first.

Camille also made the 2014 team as a freshman, but his playing time was limited. He played more as a sophomore and then didn't miss a match as a junior or senior.

Both of them were selected All-MIAA in 2017.

Like any coach, I enjoy winning. But at the high-school level, for certain, there's something much more important at stake. Seeing your players grow, from nervous ninth graders to poised, mature seniors, and watching their golf development at the same time . . . it doesn't get much better than that.

As I tell all of my players in our first pre-season meeting each January: "My goal is to get you to love golf more at the end of the season than you do now. If you do, I've succeeded as a coach."

Camille and McGinnis love golf more in 2017 than they did when I first saw them in January of 2014. And they're on their own now, in college, showcasing their talents for new schools and new coaches.

They both put in a lot of hard work. They've done this themselves. Their golf games are college-ready because they put in the time and effort required to improve.

I'm proud of them as golfers and as young men.

I sent them texts this morning to remind them of that.

And I ended it with, "Just make sure you keep going to class!"

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o's flaws might still be there in 2018


It's not over yet, so there's still this season to talk about, but it's also not a bad time to look ahead to what's in store for the Orioles in 2018.

Next season's schedule is already out. And who thinks playing baseball on March 29 in Baltimore is a great idea? Dumb, dumb, dumb . . . .

Without knowing in advance what the Orioles player budget will be in 2018, it's pretty difficult to add pieces to the roster.

So I won't do that.

What I will do, though, is suggest that unless some drastic personnel changes come along, I think the Orioles of 2018 are going to "play" a lot like the team we're watching right now.

In other words: Long live the three-run homer.

Here are a few notes about the current roster as it relates to 2018:

Chris Davis, here demonstrating one-man high fives and forearm bumps, will return in 2018 and almost certainly employ the same batting philosophy he used in 2017: Try to hit a home run in every at-bat. And strike out a lot doing so.

Chris Davis will be back because no one in the league will take him. So, first base is sewed up.

Jonathan Schoop will return at 2nd. Tim Beckham will be the opening day shortstop. Manny Machado will be at third.

Welington Castillo is 50/50 to return at this point. He has an opt-out on the second year of his 2-year deal with the Birds and given his production in 2017, it's likely he can do better than the $7 million he'd make in Baltimore next season.

There's always Caleb Joseph and/or Chance Sisco, so losing Castillo wouldn't be huge. Sisco isn't big-league ready yet. Joseph is a good defensive catcher and sometimes even effective with the bat. Some combination of Sisco and Joseph might work.

Seth Smith is gone. I'm not sure why the Orioles didn't try and move him at the deadline to a team that needed a left-handed bat. Maybe they tried and no one wanted him.

Adam Jones will be in center and Trey Mancini will be in left to start the 2018 campaign.

That is, unless the Orioles go out and get a full-time outfielder and Mancini shifts to the DH role.

Mark Trumbo will be back in 2018 unless the Orioles move him in the off-season. He'll probably start the year in right field.

With the notable exception of Beckham, next year's opening day lineup probably isn't going to look all that different than this year's.

Maybe Austin Hays makes the team in the spring and plays right field. I'd guess it's more likely he starts the campaign in Norfolk, but early reports on him look good.

Unfortunately, I don't see a major philosophical shift from the Birds next season.

They're still going to try to hit home runs every time they come to the plate. Even Beckham has started to show signs of that "home run or bust" theory after a scorching first month with the team.

Dan Duquette has talked openly about on-base percentage and driving in runners in scoring position, but he's done little to address those needs. The team's three biggest off-season signings of the last two years were a power-hitting first baseman who strikes out 200 times a year, a power-hitting DH/outfielder who hits .250 and strikes out 170 times, and a veteran catcher with good power who is extremely hot and cold.

The addition of Beckham does provide the O's with a guy who has the goods to get on base often, but his career OBP is only .312. And how much will he be influenced by all the power around him? Will Beckham be content to brag about his .340 OBP next year while Schoop and Machado are both hitting 35 HRs and setting themselves up for massive paydays?

We haven't even talked about the starting pitching. There's Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy and — well — that's about it right now. But we'll get to that later.

It's the Orioles offense that fizzled out in September this season. What happened? Who knows. The simple answer might just be that no team could continue to rake at the torrid pace the Birds authored in August.

Or it could have something to do with the team's long-ball thirst. When they face fly-ball pitchers and play in parks that yield home runs, they fare well. When they don't, they lose.

Ultimately, it comes down to the players you have and the strengths they employ.

Right now, on September 20, 2017, I don't see the 2018 edition of the Orioles being a whole lot different than the team we watched collapse down the stretch this season.

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who can win the fedex cup?



and how?


Thirty players tee it up on Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The Tour Championship marks the end of real golf for the year, although a handful of silly-season events remain in the 2016-17 campaign.

This tournament will decide who wins the FedEx Cup and its $10 million prize and likely will also determine who wins the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award.

All 30 players in the field have a chance to win the whole thing. However, it would take a miracle for the guy at number 30 — Jason Dufner — to come out on top. Wanna see how complicated it is?

For Dufner to leapfrog 29 players and win the FedEx Cup, here's what must happen:

     Dufner must win the TOUR Championship and

     No. 1 Spieth must finish 29th or worse; and

     No. 2 Thomas must finish in a three-way tie for 6th or worse; and

     No. 3 Johnson must finish T4 or worse; and

     No. 4 Leishman must finish T3 or worse; and

     No. 5 Rahm must finish in a three-way tie for second or worse; and

     No. 6 Fowler must finish T2 or worse.

Manifestly, Dufner has about a one-in-a-million shot of all those things happening.

But however slim it is, he does have a shot!

The top five share a much less complicated path to the Cup and the 10 million bucks — who wins the tournament wins the Cup.

Here are #DMD's odds of the top ten players coming out on top this weekend in Atlanta.

1. Jordan Spieth (4-1) — Can win anywhere, anytime, and has been playing well in the playoffs, but he's not hitting on all cylinders. Fatigue has historically been a late-season problem for him. And the President's Cup is next week. He's not the favorite at East Lake.

#DMD's pick to win this week's FedEx Cup? It's this man, Justin Thomas.

2. Justin Thomas (3-1) — It's his time to shine. After winning the PGA Championship and the second FedEx Cup event in Boston, Thomas is a win away from capturing the $10 million prize. He's #DMD's pick this week.

3. Dustin Johnson (5-1) — Like Spieth, he's capable of winning anywhere and anytime, but his putting is either spot on or not good. Last week in Chicago, it wasn't good until a final-round 64 salvaged his weekend.

4. Marc Leishman (5-1) — Has the hot hand after his 23-under performance in Chicago, but it's difficult to win two weeks in a row against elite fields. He is playing great golf, though.

5. Jon Rahm (6-1) — Still hanging around and definitely capable of winning, but he hasn't won anything quite this big in his career — and the thought of winning $10 million might be too much for him on Sunday afternoon.

6. Rickie Fowler (8-1) — Needs a couple of things to work out in his favor to win the $10 million, but the stage is not too big for him at this point in his career. Played well enough to win in Chicago but was soundly beaten by Leishman's scorching play.

7. Hideki Matsuyama (8-1) — Has cooled off after a hot summer, but could win the $10 million with a win and Spieth and Thomas both finishing outside the top two. He has the game to win in Atlanta.

8. Justin Rose (12-1) — Now it starts to get a little harder. Rose would have to win and the top three guys would all have to finish below the top two. It could happen, of course, but Rose would need Spieth, Thomas, and D.J. all to fall by the wayside.

9. Brooks Koepka (14-1) — Don't be surprised if he's the winner of the golf tournament on Sunday evening. But that likely won't be enough for him to win the $10 million first prize. The top four guys would all have to struggle in order for Koepka to win the FedEx Cup. But if you're looking for a well-paying wager for the TOUR Championship, take him to win on Sunday.

10. Paul Casey (20-1) — Nope. Ain't happening. Always hangs around but never closes the deal. Solid player, but basically no more than a money-maker at this point.

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Tuesday
September 19
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Issue 19
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looking for a sports hero? he's in cleveland of all places


Adopting a sports figure as someone you admire is a slippery slope.

We know them as athletes, players, and men or women on the stage of the sport they play.

Little do we know about them as people.

Sometimes we find out they're human. They do things we didn't think they'd do.

They say things we didn't think they'd say.

They get suspended. Some athletes even wind up on the police blotter.

But growing up, we all chose to emulate a sports figure. When I was batting, I wanted to be Eddie Murray. When I was pitching, I wanted to be Jim Palmer.

I could copy the Murray batting stance fairly easily. Who couldn't, right? Just lazily rest the bat on your left shoulder, get your weight a little more on your left side, and get into that wide stance that Eddie used so well.

I wasn't very good at copying Palmer's high leg kick and wide-arc-throwing motion. But I wanted to be Palmer. So did a lot of other kids growing up around me in Glen Burnie.

When I got older and started taking golf seriously, I wanted my swing and my game to resemble that of Fred Couples. Far and away, Couples is my favorite player ever. He had that nonchalant attitude that's perfect for golf.

"I don't care where I hit it...I'll just go find it and hit it again, wherever it ends up."

10,000 consecutive plays...without missing a snap.

His swing was smooth and without any sign of stress. He picked the club up, put his hands above his shoulder, and delivered the clubface perfectly into the ball. Every. Single. Time.

He wasn't the best golfer on the planet in his day. Tiger Woods and others were much better. But Couples was definitely the coolest golfer.

And I always wanted to be just like Fred Couples.

I'm past the point now of wanting to "be" like anyone else. I'm having a hard enough time just being me.

But there's no denying that youngsters want to look, play and act like athletes they see on TV. You can talk all you want about not letting them adopt athletes as role models, but they're going to find their way there. Whether it's in school, where friends influence them, or on the internet or TV, where highlights and replays are everywhere, 24/7, kids are going to look up to athletes and say, "I want to be like him (her)".

The key thing: There's a difference between "playing like them" and "being like them". I wanted to "play" like Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer and Fred Couples.

My son is a soccer player. Like nearly every other youth soccer player in the country, he wants to play like Lionel Messi.

But when I talk to my boy about an athlete I want him to "be" like, that's all together different.

In reality, you and I should want to "be" like this guy, too.

His name?

Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns.

Thomas is the best male role model you can find for your children...that is, when it comes to wanting them to "be" like him an athlete.

This past Sunday, Thomas played his 10,000th consecutive snap against the Ravens in Cleveland's 24-10 loss to the Ravens.

Those numbers are correct. He's played ten thousand consecutive offensive plays for the Browns.

Thomas entered the league in 2007. He's never missed a game.

Never once has he had the flu, an ankle sprain, a hip injury or -- dare we say it? -- a migraine that was bad enough that he went to the sideline and said to the trainer, "I can't go back out there."

Joe Thomas is also a great player, a sure fire Hall of Famer, and quite possibly one of Cleveland's all-time best sports figures. Ever.

No one knows much about him because he's played -- and suffered -- with the Browns for eleven seasons.

What you know now, though, is that he's been there for every snap, every play, every loss and every terrible season in Northeast Ohio.

He hasn't begged out of a game. He didn't chase big money to sign with the Patriots or Steelers or Ravens or any other perennial contender who would have backed up the Brinks truck for him.

Instead, he's been faithful to the team that first employed him, has never missed a day of work, and has done it all with supreme expertise at his position.

“How did it happen?," Thomas says in response to a question about the 10,000 consecutive plays. "To be honest, I never set out to do it. It just sort of happened. It’s ingrained in you as a young athlete: ‘Get up! Play the next play!’ It’s the job. You know, obviously, the losing hurts. I’m human. But something I’ve found comfort in is, just do your job. I’ve got people in my family who get up and go to work every day and they don’t complain. Regardless of the record, I get to play a kids’ game. I am blessed to do what I love to do so much.”

I know what you're thinking.

"I sure wish they made more people like Joe Thomas these days..."

I thought the same thing when I saw that quote following Sunday's loss in Baltimore.

Joe Thomas is an athlete worth admiring. No dancing in the middle of the game. No showing up the other team. No beanballs at someone's head. No club throwing.

He puts on his uniform, reports to work, and stays in there no matter the circumstances. And those have been some awfully tough circumstances in Cleveland.

Sure, he's made a gazillion dollars playing football. So have a lot of others, but they've all missed games, taken a half off here and there, or switched teams and cities because they either didn't like losing or wanted less pressure on themselves.

Joe Thomas is the athlete we should all look to and say, "Now that's a man worth admiring."

You might not be able to play left tackle like him. But you can put in a honest day's work like him. And if you can do that, you're going places.

Best of all? You don't have to be a football player to "be" like Joe Thomas.

That's the best message of all for your children. You can "be" Joe Thomas and work at a bank, a construction site, or a car dealership.

Just show up every day, without complaint, work hard for yourself, your family and the company, and, as Thomas said on Sunday, "just do your job."

Get up every morning and be the best you can be. At everything you do.

Be like Joe Thomas.

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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.



tuesday morning quarterback


For the second year in a row, the Ravens beat the Browns to move to 2-0 on the season, and now they're off to play Jacksonville and open the season 3-0 for the second year in a row. Wait, when you put it like that...

In all seriousness the Ravens turned in a complete victory on Sunday, dominating every phase of the game and even getting the passing attack involved after running the ball 42 total times in Week One. It wasn't all sunshine and roses though, so here are 6 winners and 4 losers from the latest victory over the Browns:

Winner: Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco didn't have any post-game quips about "not having fun" after the Ravens 24-10 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

Flacco didn't get much of a chance to assuage concerns over his health and readiness in week one, but that changed quickly in the home opener. The Ravens clearly wanted to get Flacco in rhythm early and keep him throwing, and he ended the day 25 of 34 for 217 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came in the first half.

The Ravens deployed a rolling pocket quite a bit, which seemed to keep Joe in rhythm and mechanically sound, while also showing off that there really aren't many concerns about the health of his back as well. And he avoided any awkward answers postgame as well, so it's all looking up for Flacco heading to London!

Loser: Marshal Yanda

There's nothing much to be said about Yanda's season ending ankle injury that hasn't already been said elsewhere. It's a true gutshot that hurts even more because Yanda walked off the field under his own power, making it appear that the injury wasn't especially serious. Speaking of which, how tough do you have to be to shove off trainers' assistance and walk off the field on a broken ankle?!

There's no way to replace the best interior lineman in the game, but every team usually deals with at least one major loss, so there's no reason to think this alone is a season killer.

Winners: The rest of the offensive line

Reviews of their week one performance were unenthusiastic at best, but they turned in another strong performance against a good defensive front for Cleveland, and even kept the offense churning after Yanda left the game. Ryan Jensen in particular was noticeably improved without having to go one on one with Geno Atkins.

Winner: Ben Watson

Speaking of season ending injuries, after suffering one in the first preseason game last year Watson finally got to make his first appearance as a Raven at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, and he made as solid a first impression as anyone. The veteran journeyman was Flacco's most consistent target, recording a game high 8 catches (on 8 targets) for 91 yards.

The tight end group as a whole had a very nice game, actually, with Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle both getting the chance to make some very good plays in the screen game. Altogether the trio tallied 13 catches for 121 yards, an encouraging sign as Flacco and the offense look to figure out a way to move on without Dennis Pitta.

Loser: Lardarius Webb

Webb had a career resurgence in the preseason and has a lock on the nickelback position with Tavon Young and Jaylen Hill hurt, but the veteran had a day to forget against the Browns. Webb was a consistent feature in replays of the Browns' biggest passing plays, whether it was getting turned around on a key grab by running back Duke Johnson or miscommunicating with his fellow DBs in zone coverage.

Webb did come up with a late interception in the endzone, but that was 99% on DeShone Kizer, who threw the ball both late and behind his receiver despite having an opening for a touchdown. With first round pick Marlon Humphrey looking solid in limited action and largely being blocked by Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr both playing well on the outside, it will be interesting to see if Dean Pees gives the rookie some chances to work inside.

Winners: Buck Allen & Alex Collins

Allen's strong performance from week one was largely overshadowed by Terrance West, but this week he was the clear standout in the running back group. Not only did he give the Ravens consistent positive yardage and finish the day with 66 yards on 14 carries, he showed explosive playmaking ability on a 37 yard run that set up Flacco's touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin at the end of the first half. Plus he was a consistent weapon in the passing game his own right, and showed excellent body control and strong hands in catching Flacco's first touchdown pass earlier in the game.

For his part, Collins went from the practice squad to getting the bulk of the carries as the Ravens were trying to put the game away in the fourth quarter, and looked determined to stick on the active roster. He showed explosiveness and a real ability to force tough yardage, ending the game with an impressive 42 yards on 7 carries. He was so impressive that he even avoided a trip to John Harbaugh's doghouse after losing a fumble, and the head coach even seemed to offer up a defense for him after the game.

It's a safe bet Collins won't be inactive in week three, and will get plenty of chances to continue to impress.

Loser: Terrance West

The leading rusher from week one managed only 22 yards in week two, and more jarringly only got to carry the ball 8 times despite scoring the team's first touchdown. And when you factor out his longest run of 12 yards, he's left with an anemic 10 yards on 7 carries, and Coach Harbaugh reported on Monday that West was dealing with a soft tissue injury and, presumably, that's why he saw limited action.

Or more accurately, is hopefully why he had a tough time getting it going in terms of production. West has showed the ability to run hard downhill and pick up positive gains, but Allen and Collins look more explosive and Allen is the best of the trio in the passing game, so West's position on the depth chart is in obvious jeopardy.

Loser: Mike Wallace

Two catches in two games for Mike Wallace. Not the kind of workload he hopes to carry in 2017.

For the second straight week, Wallace was limited to just one catch, and the box score only credits him with three targets on the day. That might just be the natural ebb and flow of playing receiver on a team that doesn't want to throw the ball 40+ times a game, but what was more worrying was that Wallace and Flacco didn't look like they were on the same page on either of the two incompletions thrown Wallace's way.

Flacco's lone interception was the clearest example of this, though that was totally on Flacco, who threw deep into the Brown's cover two scheme while Wallace broke off into the open space in the zone. He had a better game than Breshad Perriman anyway, who came up empty on four targets and looked scared to go after a couple of balls, and I wouldn't be surprised if getting number 17 more involved is a big part of this week's offensive gameplan.

Winner: Ozzie Newsome

Speaking of rookies playing well, it sure looks like the Ravens' GM hit a home run with this year's draft. After a few years of mediocre returns from guys picked in rounds two through four, the 2017 class is already contributing in a big way. Second round pick Tyus Bowser has been excellent covering sideline to sideline since the beginning of the preseason and came up with his first career interception on Sunday. Third rounder Tim Williams got to play in his first game as an injury replacement for Za'Darius Smith, and turned in an extremely impressive pass rushing performance against future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas.

The entire defense right now is a huge success story for Ozzie, who set out to build a unit built around redzone performance and creating turnovers and succeeded in spades. With a front seven that's maybe the best in all of football at tipping passes into the air and a secondary group full of ballhawks, I'd eagerly wager the Ravens will lead the league in takeaways at the end of Week 17, even if they won't get 4 interceptions every game (I wouldn't bet against that, though).

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TUESDAYS
with
TODD


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


hoping one of our readers can give the eulogy


I'm sure many readers of this column feel the same way I do about the Baltimore Ravens and their inevitable run of multiple World Championships. After all, the 2017 version of our football team is undefeated and a guaranteed lock to not only win this year’s Super Bowl, but be a serious contender for repeating next season.

And, oh, what a shame it is.

The Ravens picked a really bad time to start a dynasty because the NFL brand is soon to find itself on life support as fans turn their backs and seek alternative options for entertainment. The professional form of the sport is slowly dying and there doesn’t appear to be anything on the horizon to anchor a rebound and recovery.

Unless some gimmicky version appears, such as the XFL, apathy will reign and America will soon be reclaiming their Sunday afternoons.

The Los Angeles Rams aren't filling their stadium and neither are several other teams in the NFL in 2017.

Long before ESPN began the highly-acclaimed 30-for-30 series, the network provided fans with an inside look at pro football via a fictional story named Playmakers. As those who would probably guess, the show detailed an entire lineup of problems facing those who play in the league: Drug abuse, hiring hookers, having affairs, and breaking team rules.

Even though the drama was a ratings bonanza and huge fan favorite, the NFL pressured ESPN to shut down production and remove it from its on-demand archives. That wasn't surprising considering the network was on deck to air MNF games. The so-called worldwide leader in sports caved to the request and shuttered the show after only one season. If it wasn’t for YouTube, Playmakers would have simply vanished and never again be available to viewers.

The main issue with the show was it reinforced the stereotype many NFL fans already have of the players; and this created a giant problem for the league.

Playmakers aired in 2003, which also happened to be the time when high-definition televisions started becoming permanent items in fan’s living rooms. The league preferred to create a product built for TV and targeted an entirely new demographic: women and children. The result was a kindler-and-gentler version of the sport, which had players wearing pink and removing risqué touchdown celebrations.

The target market had changed for the NFL. They were now going after the family who parks themselves on the sectional sofa and cheers for their team from the comfort of home.

However…the problems in the 2003 NFL are not even in the same zip code as 2017 NFL, and the very group the league attempted to attract are heading for the exits and not looking back.

If Playmakers was brought back for a reboot now, we’d likely be seeing stories about star players sitting on their tails during the National Anthem or giving be some kind of protest sign during the pre-game festivities. Or, there would be an episode about a sports journalist who covers the NFL going on a public forum to slander the President of the United States by calling him racist.

There are two topics every profit-seeking business considers toxic: Race Relations and Abortion. If a business wants to manufacture a divide and instantly lose half of its customers, then relaying either subject to the public is the way to do it. Not even debates about equal rights for the LGBTQ community has as much power to influence.

Ever wonder why star athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods stay away from hot button topics? The reason is obvious: They know all races and genders purchase their products and so choose not to alienate cash-in-hand customers ready to spend!

The NFL probably wishes it had the problems it faced circa 2003. These days, it seems the league is doing nothing but damage control, which is evident in the weak television ratings and low attendance. Fans are tired of the social issues hitting them in the face every time they turn on CBS or FOX at 1:00 on what should be a casual Sunday afternoon, and a time to break away from the stresses of everyday life.

It probably goes without saying that the sport itself is falling apart. Parents are no longer enrolling their boys in recreational leagues, which creates a supply issue for the next generation and devalues the talent level of players on the field. Subpar officiating due to an overregulation of rules, mixed in with below average talent, creates a difficult product to spend high dollars to see.

Add in the weekly in-your-face protests and fans are saying no thanks to owners seeking their discretionary incomes.

Here’s a forecast for you: The 2018 Super Bowl will be the first NFL Championship Game at risk of not selling out.

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Monday
September 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVIII
Issue 18
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easy win over cleveland and 2-0 start dampened by injury to yanda


Talk about a buzz kill.

This is worse than the follow-up album to "Bringing Down The Horse" by The Wallflowers.

The Ravens cruised to a 24-10 win over the Browns on Sunday afternoon in sun-splashed Baltimore.

But the victory and their 2-0 record -- and imminent 3-0 mark after next week's beatdown of Jacksonville in London -- couldn't even be enjoyed for one evening once John Harbaugh delivered the news at his post-game press conference.

The excitement of a 24-10 home win over Cleveland was quickly diminished on Sunday when the Ravens learned that Marshal Yanda is done for the season with a leg injury.

"And Marshal Yanda...he's out for the season with a fractured ankle."

Wait.........what?

I repeated it to myself after Harbaugh said it to make sure I had the words right. "Marshal Yanda, out for the season with a fractured ankle."

That's not good.

There's no sugar coating the impact of Yanda's departure. It's huge. More than huge. When your team loses the best right guard in the entire league, you're going to suffer as a result.

Harbaugh got testy after the game when a reporter asked him how Yanda's injury affects his team moving forward. He got snippy because he knows the truth, I suppose. Losing Yanda leaves a massive hole to fill. I'm not sure why Harbs didn't just say that, but it's all good.

As is always the case with any key injury, the Ravens will have to move on and patch something together, quickly. The schedule will eventually get more difficult. Harbaugh and Company can't play the NFL's junior varsity teams forever.

Meanwhile, the short-term goal is win next week to move to 3-0 and then worry about how to win seven or eight other games without Marshal Yanda.

The Ravens are still very much a playoff contending team, but the reality is the loss of Marshal Yanda might cost them a game or two along the way. And that might be the difference between 10-6 and 8-8 or 11-5 and 9-7.

Enough of the doom and gloom, though. Let's talk about Sunday's win over Cleveland, which was much easier than the 24-10 score would otherwise suggest.

Cleveland's offense rang up a bunch of yards against the vaunted Baltimore defense, but they were never, ever going to do enough to win the game. DeShone Kizer got his indoctrination into playing on the road in the AFC North and it gave him a first half migraine. Kevin Hogan came in and looked legit for a series or two, but even he was limited in what he could do.

The Browns are still the Browns, no matter the draft picks they pile up or the assumption that at some point, soon, they simply have to get better by the law of averages.

Their defense isn't bad. But their offense is woeful.

Hue Jackson is in for another long season. They won't go 1-15 this year like they did in 2016, but they are in no way a threat to any good team they oppose.

And speaking of good teams, it appears as if the Ravens have one. How good? Well, that certainly remains to be seen. They'll beat the Jaguars next Sunday in London, but it might be one of those 16-10 borefests that goes in the "a win is a win" column.

Then, the Steelers come to town and we'll learn a lot more about the Ravens on October 1st in Baltimore.

Joe Flacco made some really nice throws yesterday. He looked far more comfortable in the win over Cleveland than he did in the season-opening triumph over Cincinnati. He moved out of the pocket well, threw a few balls into tight spaces with sublime accuracy, and appears like he's developing a nice combination with newcomer Jeremy Maclin.

The Ravens defense generated five turnovers for the second straight week, but in fairness, Kizer threw two balls right into their purple shirts, and fumbled another ball because he still has college football pocket awareness.

It's odd to say, but there are still plenty of question marks despite starting the season at 2-0.

But those question marks are there because the Ravens haven't really been tested. They've played two bad teams. And that's OK, because you play who the schedule maker tells you to play. But let's hope these Ravens aren't last year's Vikings, who sprinted out to a 5-0 start, then blew a gasket once they had to start playing real teams.

And losing Yanda isn't going to benefit them, that's for sure.

The thing to remember is this: Every team has injuries. Heck, there's a 70% chance Roethlisberger won't play in Baltimore in two weeks. He's always good for missing at least one game against the Ravens due to an injury. By the time the Raiders host Baltimore on October 8, Derek Carr might be out with a thumb injury. Maybe Marcus Mariota misses the game in Nashville on November 5 with a foot sprain.

I don't like seeing anyone get hurt. I'm not doing "wishful thinking" here. I'm just reiterating that you never know which team you're actually going to face until they post the lineups 90 minutes before the game. Someone else might lose their Marshal Yanda the week before the Ravens face them. Keep that in mind...

For now, though, the Ravens should bask in the glow of their 2-0 start and accept it for what it is.

Yes, their two wins have come against lousy teams, as social media reminded us over and over on Sunday night.

But I'd rather beat the Bengals and Browns than lose to either of them. People sometimes forget that when they're criticizing the team after a victory, including a certain sports writer in town who is always good for a Negative Nancy approach in the aftermath of a Ravens win over an inferior opponent.

It's true and it's boring and it sounds like coach speak, but it's true: A win is a win. And it's always, always, always better than losing.

Always.

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around the nfl in 95 seconds


Panthers 9 - Bills 3 -- What a thriller this must have been. Tyrod Taylor was the leading rusher in the game. He had 55 yards on the ground. He's Buffalo's quarterback. Refund requests should be directed to the Panthers front office.

Cardinals 16 - Colts 13 OT -- It probably felt like a loss for Arizona, needing overtime and all to beat the hapless Colts. Indianapolis plays host to the Browns next week. They can't possibly lose to them, right?

After these two were humbled in their home opener against the Chiefs, they went back to work and did some humbling of their own in New Orleans yesterday.

Titans 37 - Jaguars 16 -- Jacksonville's opening week win over Houston was obviously a fluke. Tennessee looks legit. Then again, they beat the Jaguars. Kind of like the Ravens beating the Browns. But every win counts.

Chiefs 27 - Eagles 20 -- That's a 2-0 start for Kansas City. Something tells me Philadelphia's going to be pretty good this season. I picked the Giants to win the division in my pre-season predictions piece, but if you'll give me a mulligan, I'll take the Eagles.

Patriots 36 - Saints 20 -- Well, we can tell the Patriots didn't take that opening night loss to Kansas City lightly. They lit up a terrible New Orleans defense. Tom Brady was 30-for-39 with 447 yards in the air. New Orleans stinks. But I think we all assumed they would.

Buccanneers 29 - Bears 7 -- Chicago can't get out of its own way. Who knows when they'll win a game? They do play the Browns, so there's at least one reasonable chance for a victory there. Tampa Bay might be a surprise this year.

Steelers 26 - Vikings 9 -- Pittsburgh off to a 2-0 start, with a visit to Chicago next week to go 3-0 vs. the Bears. Minnesota is an OK with Sam Bradford at quarterback. When he's out, they aren't competitive. They weren't competitive yesterday.

Dolphins 19 - Chargers 17 -- Jay Cutler a winning quarterback? Say it ain't so. Los Angeles missed a game-winning 44-yard field goal at the buzzer after Philip Rivers drove them down the field in less than a minute. His head blew off after that field goal miss.

Raiders 45 - Jets 20 -- As expected, it was a walk in the park for the Raiders. Michael Crabtree had 3 TD catches. The Jets didn't even score three touchdowns as a team.

Broncos 42 - Cowboys 17 -- Sure, they've played two home games and they're 2-0, but Denver looks legit. The Cowboys' defense didn't look so hot yesterday.

Redskins 27 - Rams 20 -- Washington's going to be a weird team all year, watch and see. They'll lose at home, win on the road, lose to teams they shouldn't and beat teams they shouldn't. The Rams are no good. Nice crowd out there, too. Not...

Seahawks 12 - 49'ers 9 -- There's something about this divisional match-up that brings out the worst in the Seahawks. It's a win and all, but how on earth can you barely squeak by a terrible San Fran team in your own building? I know the answer. Because it's the NFL, that's why.

Falcons 34 - Packers 23 -- If the Packers made a statement with their home win over Seattle last Sunday, the Falcons made one last night in their shiny new building in Atlanta. Green Bay was really never in this one. The Falcons appear highly motivated to rebound from their Super Bowl collapse of a season ago.


show me the money, week #2


It's not customary to send the guy who gives you the winning picks a little pick-me-up in the mail, but if you're a gentleman and you'd like to do that, I'll accept it.

After yesterday's 4-1 record -- thanks a bunch, Eagles, you creeps -- we're back to even-steven on the season at 5-5.

I hit the Steelers (-6.0) over Minnesota, Raiders (-13.0) over the Jets, Washington (+2.5) over the Rams and Bills (+7.0) covering against the Panthers.

The "Best Bet" went my way, too -- Pittsburgh over Minnesota.

I didn't use the Ravens as one of my picks (I never do), but I had them winning (and covering) 23-9. They won 24-10. I assume you're going to give me that one too.

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leishman moves into fedex cup top five with win in chicago


The PGA Tour couldn't have written a better script for the final weekend of their 2016-2017 campaign.

Three high-profile names are in the Top 5 of the FedEx Cup point standings and another favorite -- Rickie Fowler -- sits in the 6th position with a chance to win the whole thing at this week's TOUR Championship in Atlanta.

With a 5-shot win in the third playoff event of the season, Marc Leishman now has a chance to win the $10 million first prize by winning the TOUR Championship this week.

A host of players are still capable of winning the title and the $10 million first place check, but they'd have to win the tournament at East Lake and have a bunch of other stuff happen (mostly poor finishes by the top three, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson) in order for them to leapfrog over several players.

It's likely that one of the top five will win the $10 million, but Fowler has to keep in mind that Spieth won the big check and the trophy in 2015 and he was sitting in sixth place heading into the final event.

Jon Rahm (4) and Marc Leisham (5) are the other two in the top five who will win the playoff outright if they triumph in Atlanta. Leishman moved into the top five with an impressive win at the BMW Championship this weekend, posting a 23-under par score to pull away by five shots.

Spieth's the favorite, if only because he's won the playoff event before and knows what it takes.

He didn't win one of the first three FedEx Cup events -- those went to Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Leishman -- but he's played well enough all season and in the three playoffs events to hold the coveted top position heading to Atlanta.

The guy with the hot hand, though, is Leishman, who enjoyed an excellent "regular season" on the PGA Tour and now has a chance to capture the most important title of his career at the TOUR Championship. He looks a little bit like Billy Horschel did back in 2014 when he stormed through the playoff schedule and came from behind in the final couple of weeks to snatch the $10 million from Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy in the final event.

If you like watching guys play for $10 million in funny money, this week's final event should get your blood going. As has happened before, it all could all come down to the last shot, like it did in 2011 when Bill Haas made birdie on the very last hole of the tournament to win the TOUR Championship and the $10 million.

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we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 2


Sunday — September 17, 2017
Volume XXXVIII — Issue 17

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, Maryland

Spread: Ravens -7½


I have friends who think today's tussle with the Cleveland Browns is actually going to be competitive.

They believe that more because they're not convinced the Ravens are good. We all know the Browns don't have much quality.

But given that it's the NFL, which is the craziest of all the sports leagues -- by far -- and with a tip of the cap to the person who said, "On any given Sunday...", I'll play along and act like the Browns deserve to be respected.

That said, if the Ravens lose at home today to a rookie quarterback and the Cleveland Browns, they should have to take a ferry boat to London for next Sunday's encounter with the Jaguars.

Lose to the Browns? In Baltimore? C'mon man...

Because the NFL is week-to-week and one team winning last Sunday has little bearing on what they're going to do this Sunday, there's little reason to review last week's results for the Ravens and Browns and put any stock in either performance.

But we do it anyway.

It's 2017. Still rebuilding in Cleveland.

The Browns played hard against what we believe to be a Super Bowl contending Steelers team, albeit in a losing cause. Losing to Pittsburgh by three points is no disgrace, but it's a loss in the same way the Bengals started 0-1 (now 0-2) after getting thumped by the Ravens.

And while the Ravens definitely had their "A game" against the Bengals, it was also one of those games where everything went right for Baltimore and wrong for Cincinnati. Anyone who has played competitive golf has had a day where every putt they hit went in, and every putt they hit missed the hole by two inches. There's no explanation for it. That's golf.

The Bengals probably showed more of their true colors on Thursday night when they lost at home to the Texans and their rookie quarterback. That was a bad Bengals team the Ravens throttled last Sunday. That doesn't diminish the victory, of course. It just reinforces that we don't know nearly as much about the Ravens, particularly offensively, as a 20-0 final would otherwise indicate.

But the Browns aren't coming to Baltimore and winning today.

The league is nuts, for sure. But it's not that nuts.

It will be worth watching the Ravens offense today to see if Joe Flacco and Company get untracked. Some would say they didn't do much of anything last Sunday in Cincinnati. I'm more of the mindset that they didn't need to do anything once they were ahead 17-0 at the half. It wasn't quite the old Dean Smith four-corners offense in the second half, but it was awfully close.

If the Browns somehow press John Harbaugh's team for 30 or 45 minutes today and keep the score close, we'll get a better idea of Flacco's capabilities. I remarked last week that even when he threw the ball in the first half, he didn't look all that great. Lots of short passes, dinks and dunks, and not much gunslinging from our (elite?) quarterback.

In a weird kind of way, I almost hope the Browns do present a challenge this afternoon in Baltimore. I'd like to see what Joe has under the hood. Don't get me wrong, a 20-0 shutout win over the Browns would be nice, but I'd feel better about Flacco if I get to see him air it out a bit.

Heck, I'm sounding like Flacco himself, now.

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keys to today's game


For the Ravens --

1. Establish the run, early -- The game plan and the 17-0 lead both helped last week in Cincinnati, but the Ravens ran the ball, ran it again and ran it some more last week in the win over the Bengals. While I'm not figuring they'll gain 157 yards on the ground again this afternoon, I'd like to see the Ravens use the run in the first half to put their own stamp on the pace of the game. The more they run it successfully, the better the odds are that the Browns will put another guy in the box and that should open up some passing opportunities for Flacco and Company.

2. Don't let Kizer get confident -- I know DeShone Kizer is a rookie and all, but he wasn't chopped liver at Notre Dame. However, this is his first-ever appearance in Baltimore to face the Ravens and he's going from six furlongs to a mile and a half today. Kizer was decent last week against Pittsburgh, but playing the Ravens in their building is much different than facing the Steelers in your own barn. The Ravens need to get to Kizer early and let him see what it's like to play varsity teams on the road.

3. Turnovers are the name of the game -- The Ravens generated five turnovers vs. the Bengals last week. If you're looking for the stat that decided the game, there it is (was). They need a similar turn of events today vs. the Browns. I'm not sure they'll get Cleveland to turn it over five times, but a forced fumble and two interceptions should be more than enough for the Ravens to come out on top this afternoon.

Tale of the tape for a Ravens win: Gain at least 60 yards on the ground in the first half, don't let Kizer get in the end zone in the first half, generate at least three turnovers on defense.


For the Browns --

1. Put together several lengthy first half drives -- Chewing up the clock and keeping the Ravens defense on the field are two priorities for the Browns today. Their goal should be at least two 10-play drives in the first half, with some kind of scoring attached to both drives. Just keeping the ball themselves and forcing the Ravens defense to stay on the field should help the Browns with their confidence while potentially frustrating Dean Pees and his troops. If the Browns can lead or be within a field goal at the half, they've done well for themselves.

2. Run the ball effectively -- This one's easier said than done, granted, but it goes along with Cleveland's attempt to "shorten the game". Running the ball and using the clock, all while staying in the game, is one of the best ways for the Browns to hang in there this afternoon. Can their running game break the 100-yard mark against the Ravens? That's a key figure for the Browns. Over 100 yards on the ground would help their chances.

3. Special teams need to be special -- Mistake prone teams are often an easy meal for the Ravens. All it takes is a muffed punt or a bad decision on a kick-off return and you're challenged for field position. Anytime the Ravens get the ball near the 50-yard line, they're only 12 yards away from a Justin Tucker field goal. It's important for the Browns to keep the Ravens away from Cleveland territory as much as possible. Special teams can help do that.

Tale of the tape for a Browns win: Keep the game close at half time, chew up clock in the second half with the running game and hit the 100 yard mark, and play well on punts and kick-offs.

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how drew sees today's game


I won't drag it out.

The Browns aren't beating the Ravens today. For the most part, it won't be close.

Expect another big day from the Ravens best offensive weapon.

Baltimore will score a touchdown on their first offensive series and tack on a second quarter field to lead 10-0. Cleveland will collect their own three points just before half to make it 10-3 at the intermission.

Like they did last Sunday, the Ravens will run the ball effectively all afternoon. They'll have 62 yards rushing at the half and finish the game with 131 yards on the ground.

Another Tucker field goal will make it 13-3 in the third quarter. Cleveland will climb to with 13-6 with a field goal of their own, but a turnover will give the Ravens the ball in Browns' territory and a Flacco-to-Perriman throw and catch will make it 20-6.

The Browns will cut it to 20-9, but a late Tucker field goal -- his third of the day -- will finalize the scoring.

Ravens win this one in fairly routine fashion, 23-9.

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show me the money


Much like the Bengals last weekend, I got off to a slow start in "Show Me The Money".

I finished week one at 1-4. The only game I got right? I called the Browns covering 9.5 points at home vs. Pittsburgh. The rest of the games I whiffed on, including the Falcons-Bears game where I had Atlanta (-6.5) and those creeps only won by six, 23-17.

No worries, though. At one point last year, I was 11-19 before I eventually worked my way back to above .500 for the season. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

So let's get going with my week two picks. If you're thinking about buying a nice car or a new boat, feel free to use these.

BILLS AT PANTHERS (-7.0) -- I do this to myself every year with the Bills. I always lean on them to do good by me and time and time again, they kick me in the family jewels. I have no idea why I'm doing it again, but here we go. I know Carolina beat up on poor old San Francisco last week and the Bills were sleepwalking their way through a win over an awful Jets team, but I love Buffalo to hang around and keep it close today. Carolina wins by four, but I'll take the Bills to cover the seven points in a 20-16 Panthers victory.

EAGLES AT CHIEFS (-5.5) -- Here I go, doing something stupid like going with two road underdogs right out of the gate. I think Philadelphia is a "mini" team to watch this year. Not quite sure they're good enough to make the playoffs, but wouldn't be shocked if they finish at 9-7 and lose out on a tiebreaker. If ever a team was set-up for a letdown, it's the squad that beat the defending Super Bowl champs in their own backyard on national TV to kick off the season. I don't see Kansas City losing this one, but I think the Eagles cover in a 27-23 Chiefs victory.

VIKINGS AT STEELERS (-6.0) -- With or without Sam Bradford, the Vikings are in trouble today. Pittsburgh will put up a bunch of points in this one and Minnesota will be gasping for air defensively. And with Bradford's status up in the air, this one could get ugly. I'll take the Steelers to win and cover, 36-23.

JETS AT RAIDERS (-13.5) -- It's a big gamble to take any NFL team to beat another by two touchdowns, but it happens quite a bit. You just have to be on the right side of the wager. I'm on the right side of this one, for sure. Oakland wins (and covers the 13.5) in a romp here, 40-17.

REDSKINS AT RAMS (-2.5) -- This is precisely the kind of game the Redskins win. Dumped at home last week by the Eagles while the Rams beat up on the hapless Colts, it would appear as if this isn't a good spot for Washington. Wrong. It's a great spot for them. Washington wins outright 24-23.

BEST BET OF THE WEEK -- I'll take the Steelers (-6.0) over the Vikings as today's Best Bet.

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 1-4

YEAR TO DATE: 1-4

BEST BET: 0-1

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hellickson, o's battered again in new york, 9-3


So, that Jeremy Hellickson acquisition in late July was a nice thought, but nothing more than that.

Hellickson was clobbered again on Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, giving up six earned runs in three innings of work, as the Birds fell, 9-3, and dropped to 72-77 on the year.

They've just put a bottled water out on a stool for the Fat Lady. It helps her when she's singing. She'll be doing that soon.

Buck Showalter is so tired of seeing Chris Davis strike out he gave him the day off in New York on Saturday. It didn't help. The O's still lost, 9-3.

Let's call it like it is: The Yankees have owned the Birds this season, particularly in New York. Who knows how far out the Orioles will actually finish when all the dust settles at the end of the month, but it's fair to say the Yankees have kept the O's from being legitimate wild card contenders this season.

Every team has an opponent that matches up well against them. New York is the O's nemesis in 2017.

Buck Showalter has apparently already entered "give up mode". He played Saturday's game without Mark Trumbo or Chris Davis, and inserted J.J. Hardy in at short and gave Tim Beckham the DH role.

In fairness to Buck, Trumbo and Davis both look like their tanks are empty. And rookie Austin Hays did manage to squeak out a home run in the 9th inning to help the club avoid being shut out.

But when you're intentionally playing Joey Rickard and Austin Hays in a game that mathematically matters -- and sitting Trumbo and Davis -- you look like you're mailing it in. That's Buck's right though...he's the manager.

It would help if Trumbo or Davis did anything of value at the plate. Alas, let's leave that dead horse alone and move on.

Hellickson will be a free agent at season's end, but let's hope Dan Duquette hasn't allowed the former Phillies starter to grow on him. As we predicted here at #DMD when the deal was made in late July, Hellickson's not a good fit in the American League and most certainly not at Camden Yards. His 7.29 ERA in nine starts with the Orioles should be enough evidence to sway Duquette against signing Hellickson in the off-season.

"Jeremy's a solid major league pitcher who will eat up some innings for us," Duquette said when the Birds traded for him.

No, he isn't.

But we knew that all along. Expecting Hellickson to come to Baltimore and overachieve was like expecting Saturday Night Live to return to greatness. No chance of that happening.

And now, with 13 games remaining in the season, the Orioles playoff hopes are all but extinguished. They'd have to go 13-0 now just to finish at 85-77. I hate to say it, but my pre-season prediction of 79-83 is looking far more realistic than even an 81-81 record.

Where did it all go wrong? The Orioles offense simply stopped producing. They've been dreadful in this series in New York, scoring just 10 runs in three games, three of which came on Saturday in the 9th inning when no one on either team (except Austin Hays) was really trying anymore.

And to think the Baltimore offense was tops in the majors in terms of batting and run production from mid-July through the beginning of September. When it went kaput, though, it went kaput in a hurry.

Saturday
September 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXVIII
Issue 16
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espn was right for not firing hill, but here's the thing...


As someone who once got fired for no reason at all, I tend to sympathize with just about anyone who is rumored to be on the chopping block.

Unless you're a Flyers fan. I think they should all lose their jobs. I'm kidding. Really, I'm kidding.

I don't like seeing anyone lose their job, particularly when I know or, at the very least, suspect that they enjoy what they do for a living.

ESPN broadcaster Jemele Hill was in the news this past Monday when she posted a pair of inflammatory tweets about President Donald Trump. Many folks called for her dismissal after Hill called the President a "white supremacist".

If you voice your opinion that this is disrespectful and wrong, you have to be willing to let someone like ESPN's Jemele Hill voice her opinion, too, even if you don't agree with it.

I'm sure of two things in this situation: Jemele Hill isn't the only broadcaster, sports or otherwise, who thinks the President is a white supremacist. And firing her wouldn't have changed the way a significant portion of our country views President Trump.

Hill just happened to be "that person", you know, the one who actually verbalizes what's inside her head. Except she hit "publish Tweet", which these days, is just as good as talking. No matter how she made her point, Hill was clear in her dislike for the President.

But here's the tricky part. Hill has a right to not like the President. She has a right to say that, too. And yes, while some would argue that she shouldn't be mixing politics and sports, the only folks saying that are the ones who currently sit in favor of the work President Trump is doing in D.C.

Had Jemele Hill come out in grand support of Trump with a series of tweets promoting his efficiency in the White House, the story would have been much, much different. Anti-Trump people might have reached out with their disdain for Hill, but the widespread furor wouldn't have run nearly as deep had Hill defended the President instead of attacking him.

So, I ask, what's the difference in Hill liking the President or not liking the President? If you're one of the folks who are upset with her tweets this past Monday or, if you're upset with her because "she's mixing politics and sports", you're only fanning those flames because you're a President Trump supporter.

If Hill would have tweeted something glowing about the President, you wouldn't be outraged by her use of social media and the platform she has at ESPN. An advantage that might be considered out-of-balance given her reach both on TV and via social media.

It's time we stopped getting bothered so much in this country by people who just speak their mind. And that goes both ways, for sure. The election was nearly a year ago, and yet we still hear and read people complaining about the surprising outcome. The thing is, though, as silly as they are for not coming to grips with a result that's now 10 months old, they are welcome to their opinion and can whine all they want.

Personally, I think what Jemele Hill said was in poor taste. I don't share her opinion on President Trump.

But I think she has the right to think it and say it. And it doesn't matter that she's a sports broadcaster. She has an opinion and a plaform -- as do I, here at #DMD -- and she can use it if she so chooses.

Musicians do it all the time. They have you and the other 18,000 people captivated, right there in front of them, and they're going to take that moment to offer you their wisdom on a particular subject. No one says you have to adopt their philosophies or agree with them. You have a brain...use it and make your own decision.

Bruce Springsteen is an outspoken liberal. He's also my favorite musician and an iconic figure in my life. When I go to a show, I know there's a very good chance at some point during the night, Bruce is going to offer an opinion or two on politics or the government. I'd rather hear him spend those two minutes on a short song like "Save My Love", but that's just me.

Springsteen's entitled to his opinion. I don't typically mesh with Bruce, politically, but that doesn't mean I'm any less interested in hearing him sing "Badlands" or "Adam Raised A Cain".

When I hear a musician, actor, actress or media personality offer their political opinion, it rolls right off my back. It registers with me what they're saying, but I'm not letting anyone or anything change the way I think. I'll change the way I think when I decide to and not a minute before.

Jemele Hill calling the President a white supremacist was disrespectful, but not a fireable offense. If the issue that makes it fireable is that she used her forum to promote her own political leanings, then you're also saying you would have asked for her termination even if she would have endorsed Trump's work.

You can't have it both ways.

Somehow over the last decade, our country has gotten soft. No one's allowed to joke around anymore. Every word in every social media post gets scrutinized. Over scrutinized, more like it. And everyone's feelings are always getting hurt. It's laughable how soft we've become, as a nation.

And asking for Jemele Hill to be fired is an example of our soft nature. We didn't like what she said, so fire her. That's essentially what people were saying all week.

Well, the people who support President Trump were saying that. The folks against Trump thought it was great that Hill was allowed the freedom to speak her mind.

ESPN did their part by admonishing Hill for her public comments on the President but we all know they were just trying to save face at that point. Their concern was collateral damage, not whether Ms. Hill was actually right or wrong about Donald Trump.

If we're going to be allowed to criticize someone who takes a knee during the national anthem, we also have to allow for a public statement of disrespect for the office of the President. It's not something I'm going to teach my children, mind you, but I understand how it all works these days in our country.

Everyone has a right to their opinion...right up until it doesn't mesh with your opinion. Then, you say, they need to keep quiet.

I'd prefer we go back to the way it was. Say what you want. Deal with any legitimate consequences that come your way as a result. And stop whining every time someone says something that you don't like.

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what do the orioles and kenneth dixon have in common?


There was a funny scene in the movie "Friday" where actor Ice Cube tells Chris Tucker he was fired earlier in the day after going to his plcae of employment on his day off to pick up a paycheck.

"You got fired on your day off??!!" Tucker asks in disbelief.

Ravens running back Kenneth Dixon had a similar situation happen to him yesterday.

He received an additional two-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. And he's not even playing this season.

An 0-for-4 night at the plate and a casual stroll to a ball that hit six feet in front of him right field made for a disappointing Friday evening in New York for Mark Trumbo.

Dixon was previously suspended for the first four games of the 2017 campaign for the same violation of the policy. Then, just prior to training camp, he was lost for the season due to a knee injury.

So his four-game suspension won't actually start until next season. Now, you can make that six games he'll have to sit out, after yesterday's news that he was receiving two additional games for once again violating the substance abuse policy.

Somehow, Kenneth Dixon got suspended while he was already suspended. Kind of like getting fired on your day off.

It's hard to say who is currently in more of a downward spiral: Dixon or the Orioles.

The Orioles unfortunate September swoon continued in New York last night where the Birds meekly limped through an 8-2 defeat at the hands of the Yankees.

The O's are now 72-76 on the campaign, still 5.5 games behind the Twins in the battle for the second wild card spot, but it's almost time to dust off the golf clubs and prepare for the off-season. If it's going to take an 86-76 record to snag that playoff berth, the Birds have to go 14-0 to make it. That seems unlikely.

If something like 84-78 will earn a wild card spot, the Birds will need to finish 12-2 and hope about 19 other things go their way between now and the end of the season. Again, that's looking like a real long shot.

I guess some people would say you deserve to lose out on a wild card spot when you're starting Gabriel Ynoa in a critical late-season game in New York. Ynoa was tagged with the loss last night, as the Yankees nicked him for a couple of earned runs in 4.1 innings of work, then turned the tables on Miguel Castro for two more runs in the 5th inning after Jonathan Schoop misplayed a ground ball.

Then there was a fly ball that dropped in front of an uninterested Mark Trumbo in right field in the 7th, part of a 3-run uprising that sewed things up for the Yankees, who are still just three games behind the Red Sox in the A.L. East.

Trumbo could never match Chris Davis for "failing to earn his keep", but the "effort" he gave on the fly ball in the 7th inning was something out of a beer-league slow pitch softball game. It was hardly "professional", that's for sure.

For those fans clamoring to see the likes of Austin Hays and Chance Sisco, it's almost that time. Once the O's reach, say, 78 losses, you can go ahead and play Nicole Sherry -- the groundskeeper -- if you like. We'll have plenty of time to go through the 2017 campaign once it's all over, but this September swoon and the complete erosion of the Orioles offense will be the situation we review the most.

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we're heading to pittsburgh for ravens-steelers on december 10!


We're one game into the season and I'm already targeting Sunday, December 10 as a "must see game" on the Ravens' away schedule.

That's when John Harbaugh's team heads to the Steel City for a Sunday evening nationally-televised encounter with the Steelers, and #DMD is making the trip to Pittsburgh to see it all happen.

Our group will have upper level seats together, so those traveling with friends will be seated right next to one another. Pittsburgh's bark is much worse than its bite. I've been there a dozen times, probably, for Ravens-Steelers and the fan base is much more tolerant of visiting fans than urban legend suggests.

But it's still comforting to sit with other Ravens fans and those you traveled with to Pittsburgh. So our tickets are "group seating" where everyone is together.

We'll leave Baltimore at 12 noon, arriving at Heinz Field roughly around 5 pm for the 8:30 kick-off.

You will NEVER go hungry or thirsty when you travel with #DMD. Upon departing from Baltimore on our luxury motor coach, we'll supply everyone with lunch, plus there's always an extensive supply of DuClaw beer, soft drinks and water.

Upon arrival in Pittsburgh, we'll break out pre-game dinner for everyone, plus there's more food and drinks for our purple-clad travelers.

Oh, and brush up on your Ravens trivia. The winner of our trivia contest receives $100 in cash!

If you've traveled with us before, you know how our bus trips work. We'll sell only 40 of the available 55 seats, leaving a little bit of room for folks to stretch out on the ride up and back to Pittsburgh.

The bus will return to Baltimore immediately after the game ends.

We do it all for you. Bus ride, game ticket, all the food and drink you can handle, plus Ravens trivia. It's the safest and easiest way to travel to Pittsburgh to see the Ravens.

Eight of the available 40 seats have been pre-purchased by one of our corporate partners, leaving 32 seats for purchase.

Oh, and here's something new we're implementing for #DMD travel. You will be allowed to board the bus and select your seat(s) based on the date of your purchase. In other words, if you are the first person to buy a seat on our bus trip to Pittsburgh, you'll be first in line to board the bus.

It's not quite what they do on Southwest Airlines, but it's close. The sooner you buy your seat on our bus to Pittsburgh, the further up in line you are when it's time to board the bus on December 10.

If you're interested in joining us for the big showdown in Pittsburgh, just go here.

Help us Paint Pittsburgh Purple on Sunday night, December 10!!

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O's SCOREBOARD
Sunday, October 1st
Orioles
0

Rays
6
WP: B. Bell (5-7)

LP: K. Gausman (11-12)

HR: Casali (1)

RECORD/PLACE: 75-87, 5th place

breakfast bytes

College football: Terps hang tough in Lansing, but fall to Michigan State, 17-7.

College hoops: Maryland rebounds from 15-point halftime deficit to nip visiting Bucknell, 80-78.

Ovechkin returns after puck to the face, Caps hang on to beat Minnesota in D.C., 3-1.

PGA Tour: Austin Cook opens up 3-shot lead in search of first TOUR win at RSM Classic in Georgia.