Wednesday
November 15
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issue 15
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what to do with three shoplifters?


The three UCLA basketball players who reportedly stole from several stores during a recent trip to China are back home now, returning early last evening to Los Angeles after being detained for a week by Chinese authorities.

Unless we hear otherwise, that brings the case to a close. Video surveillance in the shopping mall where the incidents reportedly took place apparently show the three stealing sunglasses, so their early release -- without prosecution -- is indeed a blessing.

But now the real fun begins.

How will UCLA handle the situation? And what sort of punishment will hoops coach Steve Alford hand out?

LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley all missed UCLA's season opening 63-60 win over Georgia Tech last Saturday. When the rest of the team flew home on Sunday, the three remained detained in a hotel while police investigators wrapped up the case and turned it over to the judicial system.

President Trump reportedly stepped in on Monday and asked the Chinese government to allow the young men to return to the U.S., which they did on Tuesday afternoon.

What happens now, though?

Do they simply return to UCLA and carry on as if nothing happened?

Will the school admonish them in any way? They did, after all, cause the institution a significant amount of embarassment.

What about the basketball team? Should the three be allowed to play again this season? Is a suspension in order?

UCLA is expected to be a top team in the country this season, ranging anywhere from a national ranking of 25 to 15 depending on whom you ask in this early part of the campaign.

Losing those three players for any length of time could hurt them, although it didn't seem to bother them much last Saturday when they beat Georgia Tech.

Is it fair to punish the rest of the team because three of their teammates did something stupid off the court in China?

How is this different than, say, an on-court brawl that somehow spills into the stands, with those three kids throwing punches and getting ejected from a game?

Would Alford and/or UCLA react differently if the incident happened during a game rather than in a shopping mall? Should it matter?

And, here's the real slippery slope. If you're the coach, do you really want three knuckleheads on your team who were dumb enough to go into a mall in a foreign country (where it's probably already quite evident that they're visitors and, therefore, attracting "notice" as it is) and steal expensive sunglasses?

Yes, I know the cliches that come next: "They're just kids..." Or, "Remember when you were 18 years old? You did some stupid stuff..." And, "Don't punish the whole team for the mistakes of a few players..."

But Alford and the school can't simply act like this didn't happen.

I don't know the details, but I'm sure the school and the basketball program absorbed some kind of financial loss by having to deal with this incident. Someone (maybe two or three people) had to fly over ot China, stay in a hotel, deal with authorities, etc. None of that came free of charge.

And how are the kids going to learn any kind of real lesson unless there's a punishment attached to their mistake?

Some might say the trio has been "scared straight" just by having to spend a week detained in a Chinese hotel while a decision was made on how to handle their case. The three probably haven't slept real well since the whole incident took place.

They clearly avoided some kind of formal punishment from the criminal justice system in China. Their charge was felony theft and jail time was very much a possibility had the whole thing played out in court.

So what should Alford do?

I can't imagine he's going to expel them from the team. Some would say that's harsh in the first place. Others would say that actually winds up hurting Alford more than it hurts the kids. Those three would likely go on and play somewhere else. Alford would lose three key pieces to his roster.

A suspension seems in order, but when and for how many games? If you suspend them now, say for five games, the shoplifters will miss contests against always dangerous opponents like Central Arkansas, South Carolina State, UC Irvine, Detroit and South Dakota, all of whom are on the schedule for the Bruins over the next month.

It's likely UCLA wins those games without the three, which might be fair to Alford and the other kids on the team, but might not send the appropriate message to Ball, Hill and Riley.

Then again, what do you want the suspension to accomplish? Having those three sit out games hurts the team more than it hurts them, I'd say, particularly if they are conference games or contests against ranked teams.

My solution? I'd suspend the three for the rest of 2017. That would encompass 13 games, including a huge showdown with Kentucky on December 23 and two conference games against Washington State (12/29) and Washington (12/31).

They can rejoin the team after the New Year and finish off the season "on probation".

Suspending them for 13 games is a noteworthy decision. The game against Kentucky will be the Bruins' marquee match-up of the regular season. Every kid worth his salt wants to play against the premier programs in the country. It will "hurt" those three to have to sit on the bench and watch their teammates play the Wildcats in a nationally televised game.

Forcing them to sit out the two conference games also shows the rest of the team that your own, personal actions can -- and do -- sometimes impact the team for important games or stretches of the season.

Oh, and here's the real punishment. The three still have to practice. Still have to run wind sprints. Still get yelled at by the coaches. They have to put in all the hard work, but don't get the reward of playing in the games.

No one from UCLA is asking me, but that's how I would handle the three shoplifters. They sit for 13 games.

And let's hope they've learned a lesson.

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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.



I hate Thursday Night Football.

You hate Thursday Night Football.

NFL players darn sure hate Thursday Night Football.

It's time to get rid of Thursday Night Football.

No beating around the bush, no hemming and hawing, no obfuscating. Just admit that it was a failed experiment and a bad idea for the league, and just scrap it. You can play football on Thursdays in Week One and on Thanksgiving, but other than that leave NFL football for Sundays and Monday night.

The entire concept is under fire again this week, after last week's lackluster showcase between two entirely decent teams unsurprisingly underwhelmed, and Seahawks' star Richard Sherman suffered a season ending achilles rupture to highlight a flurry of injuries sustained in the game.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was the latest NFL player to speak out against Thursday night football earlier this week, saying, "They need to get rid of the game."

This week, a potential Hall of Famer in Ben Roethlisberger left no doubt how he feels about the game before his Steelers square off against the Titans in what promises to be another crappy game despite both teams leading their respective divisions.

"It's miserable," he told a local radio station in Pittsburgh, referencing the process of playing an NFL game on three days of rest and preperation. "They need to get rid of the game, I think. Just play Mondays and Sundays. It’s so tough on guys. You’re beat up, you’re banged up, it’s a very violent, physical game we play.”

Roethlisberger went on to note that it's hard enough to get guys ready to play Sunday-to-Sunday, a fact that's clearly visible to everyone by this point in the season.

The simple truth is that almost no one really likes football games on Thursday night.

Ironically there's no actual evidence that playing on Thursday correlates to an increase in injuries, but that's about the extent of the defense of the program that I can offer.

The games are almost uniformly terrible, and even when you get a game that ends up being entertaining like this year's Chiefs-Raiders nailbiter, it usually involves a quality of play that's objectively terrible, even if the game ends up close.

It's not hard to understand why, either, given that teams have to rush players through treatment for injuries AND have a shortened practice week leading into the game. The game is also hard on those attending during a work week as well, and from personal experience Thursday night home games have been impossible to sell second hand even in years where I could start a bidding war by announcing that I couldn't make any given Sunday afternoon game with my season tickets.

But the "almost" in the above paragraph is doing a lot of work, because there are two parties who very much do like football on Thursday nights: The networks broadcasting the games, and the owners of the 32 NFL franchises.

While much has been made of the NFL's ratings decline, most people seem to be brushing off the fact that television ratings across the board are dwindling, and that by comparison the NFL is actually seeing a smaller decrease in viewership.

That means that NFL programming remains very valuable to the networks, and there's no indication that they aren't willing to continue paying big bucks to have NFL football in primetime on what has traditionally been the biggest television night of the week.

But as a company that's obsessively worried about its brand, the NFL would be wise to be much more forward thinking about what Thursday Night Football is doing to "The Shield." I don't think it's a coincidence that there's a near consensus opinion among fans and commentators (at least the ones who don't work for outlets with a business relationship with the league) that the quality of NFL gameplay has decreased that correlates neatly with the advent of Thursday night games every week.

And while I think that in the short term people who talk about "oversaturation" are kidding themselves so long as the networks want to pay up for the game, there is something to be said that the league is stretching itself thin on a weekly basis.

Right now they've got three primetime games to fill 16 weeks of the season, plus a desire to have at least one marquee game in the 4:00 pm slot every Sunday. That's four games to fill, requiring eight teams to highlight in primetime every week.

And, remember, each team has to play at least one Thursday night game, no matter how bad they are. The idea that the schedulers can make all of those matchups compelling each and every week is just ridiculous.

And there may actually be cracks showing already.

A little less than a month ago, Awful Announcing reported that ESPN had dropped language from its agreements with cable carriers promising Monday Night Football as part of the network's offerings, a sign that they may be preparing to drop the program when their current deal expires.

Among the problems cited in the report? That the scheduled Monday night games are too often underwhelming matchups (can't beat Dolphins-Panthers for meaningful Week 10 action!!!) and that the network feels short-changed compared to its broadcast competitors and...Thursday Night Football.

It might not mean much: ESPN is far more susceptible to increasing cord cutting trends than the broadcast networks are and they may just be looking ahead to a new business model, while someone else comes along to pick up the payments for games on Monday Nights. Or it might be an indication that the NFL really has spread its "highlighted" games to thin to satisfy its network partners, a theory that was explicitly floated by Fox CEO James Murdoch a few weeks ago.

But then again, FOX is the only network that doesn't currently own the rights to a primetime broadcast. So maybe they, and ESPN, are saber rattling for leverage to get better matchups during the week.

In any case, while the league might be raking in the broadcast rights fees now, it's extremely difficult to imagine that continuing to play games on Thursday night really serves the NFL's long term business interests.

The players hate it, the fans don't have any interest in going to the games, the ratings aren't lighting the world on fire, and the quality of the games are so bad its impacting the overall perception of the NFL's brand.

It's admittedly not easy to figure out a way that Thursday Night Football can come to an end without all of the stakeholders taking a haircut on the deal, but thankfully the NFL has a commissioner set to make in excess of $45 million annually for handling these types of situations. So no doubt he's exactly the kind of brilliant mind who can work out a adequate solution to the problem without breaking a sweat.

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only six seats left on our masters trip next april 2nd


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America. Note: 18 of the seats have been sold. We only have SIX seats remaining.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



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Tuesday
November 14
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issue 14
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why can't the nfl find 32 really good quarterbacks?


It seems odd, right?

In a nation of 325 million people, you'd think at least 32 of those folks would be able to play quarterback in the National Football League.

And by play, I mean, really play the position well. There are 32 men playing quarterback right now in the league, 64 if you count every back-up, and yet only a handful of the current starters in the league would classify as being "great" at their position.

Watching poor Jay Cutler of the Dolphins last night reminded me of this issue yet again. The NFL is in a quarterback slump, so to speak.

But why?

Why can't the NFL produce great quarterbacks like Tom Brady these days?

Let's first examine the raw data on the current crop of NFL QB's. This list, of course, is simply my own opinion. Your mileage may vary.

There are presently two "beyond great" quarterbacks in the league: Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Drew Brees of the Saints is a tick behind those two, but he's still playing at a very high level. It would be fair to label the future Hall of Fame as "great", still.

That's three. Out of 32.

Ben Roethlisberger is also a future Hall of Famer but I'm not sure I'd consider him "great" anymore. He's still useful, and Lord knows we'd take him here in Baltimore, but Big Ben is now a 4-handicap quarterback.

Brady, Rodgers, Brees and Roethlisberger. Household names for the better part of two decades now.

Why can't the NFL groom any more of those guys?

Most would argue that Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck are borderline "great", but I don't see either of them stacking up against the big four in their prime(s). Luck, of course, hasn't even played this season and likely won't see action again until 2018. Can't call him "great" at this point.

Russell Wilson is carving out a nice career for himself in Seattle, but is he truly a "great" quarterback? I'm not so sure about that.

Carson Wentz in Philadelphia looks like the real deal, but let's see him take the Eagles to the playoffs a time or two and get to the Super Bowl at least once before we throw him on the "great" list.

Derek Carr looks the part, too, but I'd say the same thing about Carr that I just said about Wentz. Make the Raiders great (again).

Ditto Jared Goff in Los Angeles. It's one thing to be 7-2 and rolling along nicely. It's another thing to go 12-4, 12-4, 13-3, 11-5 and mix in a trip to the Super Bowl over those four years.

Cam Newton had a whopper of a game last night in Charlotte. He's a great athlete, but I'm not sure he's a great quarterback yet.

The same goes for several other young guys like DeShaun Watson, Dak Prescott and Marcus Mariota. At times, they do things that are great, but are they truly special, "great" quarterbacks? Not yet.

And then we have the likes of our guy in Baltimore, Cincy's Andy Dalton, Kansas City's Alex Smith and Detroit's Matt Stafford. All are capable of doing great things, but are any of those four "great"?

You get the picture by now, I assume.

The NFL is filled with guys who play quarterback, but not many of them are great (or, "elite") at their position.

But why?

With the massive feeder system called "college football", why can't the NFL have 32 outstanding quarterbacks year-after-year?

I'll trace it back to four points.

Style of play in college -- There's been a significant change in the way college football offenses are run over the last two decades. Quarterbacks need to be able to throw AND run now. The days of the dropback quarterback -- at least in college -- are dwindling by the year. With that, most quarterbacks simply aren't ready for the way NFL offenses operate. Some programs still want a pocket passer, but not many of them use that style any more. You just don't see the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning coming into the NFL. The pocket passer is, mostly, a thing of the past.

Offensive line play in the NFL stinks -- This, a Ravens staffer told me last week, is perhaps the primary reason why quarterback play in the NFL is down. The offensive line position, as a whole, grades out as the lowest in the NFL in 2017. There's just not much quality coming out of college any more. Defensive ends are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. Offensive linemen are still 6'6", 300 pounds. They haven't evolved, physically, the way defensive ends and linebackers have over the last decade or more.

Where you're picked matters -- This is a small but significant part of the argument about NFL quarterbacks today. Who selects you in the draft is a career-shaping moment. Obviously, if the Browns pick you, the chances for success are slim. That's just a fact. How would Aaron Rodgers' career have panned out if the Browns would have taken him? Carson Palmer spent several of his early years toiling for a terrible Bengals team. What if, say, the Cowboys or Giants would have picked Palmer in 2003? Would Tom Brady's career been different if the Chiefs would have taken him instead of the Patriots and Bill Belichick?

Coaching -- It's worth at least mentioning that in the same way there aren't 32 "great" NFL quarterbacks that perhaps there aren't 32 "great" offensive coordinators as well. And there might not be 32 great quarterback coaches, either. Coaching does matter, even at the highest level of football in the world. We've certainly seen it here in Baltimore, where the Ravens have had a very difficult time over the years identifying, hiring and enjoying the benefits of a high quality offensive coordinator. So, "B" quarterbacks come into the league trying to become "A" level players and they're simply not coached well enough to get there.

It's true that a team with a mediocre quarterback -- at best -- might sneak into the NFL playoffs this January.

Jacksonville might make it with Blake Bortles. I'm not even sure he's mediocre.

Buffalo could make it with Tyrod Taylor. He'd be a clipboard holder for 26 other teams in the league.

The Vikings might qualify in the NFL with Case Keenum leading the way for a large part of the season.

The Ravens could squeeze in with Joe Flacco at the helm. He's better than Bortles, Taylor and Keenum, but hardly having the kind of season that warrants a trip to the playoffs.

Some middle-of-the-road quarterbacks will make it to the playoffs this season, you can count on that.

And when the dust settles, their team will watch the Super Bowl from the same spot you do: their living room couch.

There's almost no argument that quarterback is the most important position in sports. If you have a great one, you have a real chance to win championships. If you have a good one, you can win on almost any given Sunday. If you have a bad one, you're likely losing 60% of your games.

There just aren't enough great quarterbacks anymore. And the games and the league are suffering because of it.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2017-18 season.


With only two games under their belt, and both of those against what we could generously call “lesser” opponents, the post-Melo Trimble Maryland Terrapins are showing to be much different than the Terp teams we’ve seen the last few years.

There’s more cohesiveness, more fire, and a new tougher attitude.

How well it holds up against more evenly matched competitors remains to be seen. Perhaps we’ll know much more after Wednesday night’s game against Butler at the XFINITY Center, but it’s clear that the new additions have brought with them a tougher mentality.

Freshman guard Darryl Morsell has played his first two games as a Terp with a Baltimore-tough, Keith Booth-like, mentality.

Morsell, a Baltimore native and Mount Saint Joseph grad, has yet to show much range to his offensive arsenal, but he attacks the basket unlike any guard we have seen at Maryland in quite some time. He’s a strong, physical guard at 6’4” and 205 with good athleticism and a tenacious attitude. He’s shown good hands and will be effective off the glass.

How much time Morsell sees will depend upon how well he handles the ball and how quickly he learns the offense. But we can expect him to bring defensive intensity to every contest. He’ll get some run at the "2" position and can spell relief for Anthony Cowan at the point. He’ll see significant minutes this year.

Sophomore Kevin Hueter figures to play a prominent role in Maryland's 2017-2018 campaign as the Terps zero in on a possible trip to the Final Four.

The graduations of Damonte Dodd and L.G. Gill have created available playing time at the "4" and "5" spots.

Some of those minutes will be filled by another freshman, Bruno Fernando from Angola (by way of the IMG Academy).

Where Dodd was even keeled, Fernando brings fire. I’ve already seen him work much harder of the defensive end than Dodd did, and on offense this 6’10” 240 pound big man looks to finish with authority. You’ll get highlight real slams from Fernando and his “dunk first” mentality. His energy and tenacity down low are a welcome addition to the post. While young and a bit raw, he’s fun to watch and has started both games at the strong forward position.

Completing the influx of new Terps who will compete for spots in the rotation is Duke transfer Sean Obi.

Obi is a tough 6’9” 250 pounder who adds bulk, strength, and attitude to this team. His offensive skills are adequate and while not a “go-to” guy late in a game, he can be effective in the paint.

He averaged nearly a double-double in his freshman year at Rice before transferring to Duke. Injuries limited his time and effectiveness under Coach K and having graduated with one year of eligibility remaining, Obi left Durham to play at College Park and attend Maryland’s Smith School of Business. If I had to compare him to any former Terp hoopsters it would a cross between the solid Obinna Ekezie and tough Ryan Randle. Obi will pound the glass on both ends and bring a physical presence previously missing from the Terrapin interior.

Several returning players look to increase their effectiveness this year.

One face familiar to the program, but perhaps not to the court, is returning guard Dion Wiley.

A now healthy Wiley adds another big body guard to the mix, and his outside game looked smooth against UMES when he connected on 3 of 6 three point shots. I was particularly impressed by his work on the defensive end. He could be a pleasant surprise for Terp fans who may have thought his career at College Park to be a bit of a disappointment. He, too, brings strength and toughness to the defensive end.

Ivan Bender is noticeably bigger and stronger this year and could play a key role when Terp opponents decide to play a zone defense. He is a big target at the high post and an exceptional passer from that spot also. He’ll need to knock down that foul line jumper to keep defenders honest, but could be a nice option in those situations.

Michal Cekovsky looks stronger too, but needs to stay healthy in order to contribute. He ran the floor well while starting both of Maryland’s first two games.

Obviously, the biggest change to the lineup is the absence of Melo Trimble, who after 3 years at Maryland decided to play for pay and is currently with the Minnesota Timberwolves' G-League entry in Iowa.

With Trimble gone, look for Anthony Cowan to emerge as the primary ball handler and game facilitator. Cowan is quick with the ball and I’d place him as a superior ball handler to Trimble, especially in traffic. With Cowan distributing the ball to any of his teammates, the Terp offense will be more effective. He also had a team high 9 rebounds on Sunday against UMES to go along with his team best 16 points on 5 for 7 shooting.

Turgeon will have many line-up options from which to choose depending on the situation and the opponent. They can play big, with Cekovsky, Fernando, a beefed up Bender, or Obi manning the 4 and 5 spots.

With two long 6’7” players (Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter) at the 2 and 3, Maryland could run out one of the biggest line-ups in all of college basketball. Cowen at the point would be the only sub 6’7” player on the court.

Maryland can also go small, and fill the court with ball handlers. Look for spells where Morsell plays the point with Wiley, Huerter, and Jared Nickens sharing the 2, 3 and 4 spots with Jackson at center.

Maryland will benefit on the break this season from having multiple players with the ability and freedom to push the ball up court. Anyone from Cowan to Jackson will run with the ball this year and all can finish by hitting a pull up jumper, going to the glass, or making a nifty pass. This team will run more and be more effective in transition than last year’s edition.

The two best players (in my humble opinion) on this team, Huerter and Jackson, will both benefit from more touches on offense. This could be the sophomore Jackson’s last year as a Terp. His length, athleticism, and versatility have already drawn notice from the pro ranks.

Huerter is simply a pure basketball mind on the court with deadly outside range. A much underrated defensive player, he gives 100% while defending and is also a slick passer when he has the ball.

There’s a new attitude for Marc Turgeon’s team and it’s propelled by the rookies.

On Sunday I watched five guys in an aggressive defensive stance defend for most of the minutes in a 50 point blowout of UMES. This team will not finish 300th in the country in allowing offensive rebounds.

The Terps are bigger, stronger, and have more of what Oriole skipper, Buck Showalter calls “want to”. They are miles ahead of where they were at this point last year in what promises to be an exciting year in College Park provided by a better all-around team.

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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


In the midst of all the tension last week, from more NFL National Anthem protests to everyone in Maryland asking for resignation letters from John Harbaugh and D.J. Durkin, there was a bit of good news to share with the #DMD community.

Actually, scratch that. It was "great" news.

The NCAA’s early signing period for every sport, except for football, soccer and men’s water polo, opened this past Wednesday, November 8th. The moment reaches a pinnacle for the student-athletes preparing to sign a National Letter of Intent committing to play a sport at a collegiate level.

Thousands of high school seniors will have seven days to sign a NLI to attend an NCAA Division I and II institution. Those who don’t sign during the early signing period can executive their National Letter of Intent during the normal signing period, beginning next February and April.

For those who have gone through the process — players and parents — the open window is a life-changing emotional moment. Years and years of hard work, countless dollars spent, and an infinite amount of time consumed all leads to this very…one…day.

The student-athlete gets only one chance to sign a National Letter of Intent in his or her lifetime, and the experience will forever be branded with them for eternity.

As a sitting board member for U.S. Lacrosse in New York, I see what the recruiting stresses have done to players and parents involved in the process. It can be grueling, challenging, overwhelming; but also rewarding for those seeking the ultimate prize: A scholarship to play college lacrosse.

As the governing body for the sport, U.S. Lacrosse likes to point out how no sport has grown faster at the NCAA level over the past decade than lacrosse.

A record 170 teams played NCAA Division I lacrosse last year (67 men’s, 103 women’s). New varsity programs are now appearing in states like Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, and others. The result of the expansion means that nearly 30,000 players are on an active collegiate lacrosse roster each year.

Bottom line: The sport is in hyper-growth mode.

However, the question remaining is "why?"

I’m biased. I know the sport is remarkably exciting to watch. It encompasses everything American: Resiliency, toughness, patience. No ties are permitted in the outcome of a game, unlike some softer sports in the world (i.e., soccer).

There’s always a winner and a loser. It’s a zero sum game.

This explanation, though, doesn’t quite provide the evidence of why lacrosse is gaining popularity by the second. After all, Apple doesn’t even offer a lacrosse emoji!

One explanation for the stellar growth could be seen in the weakening participation numbers for football. Despite the two sports playing in different seasons (although, elite travel teams in lacrosse play year round), many would-be players are opting out of football while seeking to play a sport with a stick.

Nationwide, youth tackle football has been declining for much of the last decade, down 20 percent since 2009, according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Although, the total number of youth football players is slightly over one million.

On the other side of the spectrum, national lacrosse participation continued its upward trend last year with the total number of participants on organized teams climbing past 825,000. Overall, participation grew 3 percent to 826,023, and it was the 12th consecutive year that the net increase in players was at least 20,000.

Over the past five years, the number of schools sponsoring lacrosse at the high school level has risen 27 percent, and the number of NCAA schools sponsoring lacrosse has grown 33 percent.

If lacrosse continues growing at its current rate while football numbers drop, the creator’s game will surpass participation as early as next decade. And when this moment occurs, look for ESPN break-ins for those signing a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse, rather than football.

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a great day was had by all at the fca "flag tournament" yesterday


Thanks to a day of playable November weather and an awesome format that helped us speed through three rounds of golf, all 16 teams were able to complete 54 holes yesterday in the first-ever "Flag Tournament" to benefit the Fellowship of Christian Athletes lacrosse chapter here in Baltimore.

We teed off just before 9 am and rolled in nearly eight hours later, having played 54 holes in that time frame.

16 teams competed in yesterday's first-ever "Flag Tournament" to benefit the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and their local lacrosse chapter.

It helps when you don't have to putt!

The first 18 was a better ball of partners, where you and your teammate were simply trying to hit the ball within the length of the flagstick on every hole (in regulation). It's a lot harder than it looks or sounds, trust me!

The second 18 was a scramble, and in this round you were trying to hit your approach shot within two flagsticks on every hole. It got a little easier, there.

And the third and final round, which my partner, Dave Smearman, and I played in 1 hour and 43 minutes, was "alternate shot", where both players drive and then you pick the best tee shot and alternate from there.

My friend Brian Hubbard of Kelly Payroll was the mastermind and organizer of the event and he pulled off one of the best golf days of 2017! Special thanks to FCA, Under Armour, TaylorMade and Chick fil-A, who all helped make the day great.

And a special thank you to my buddy Dave Smearman's "Palmisano's of Baldwin" for supplying an awesome dinner after golf.

Eagle's Nest Country Club did an outstanding job helping us organize and pull off the day long event. Special thanks to assistant golf professional Alex Lively for his terrific work on Monday.

Thanks to all of you who helped out with donations! #DMD was able to donate $750 to FCA yesterday!!

Trent Gladstone was the top fundraiser for yesterday's "Flag Tournament". His prize? A trip for two to the Masters next spring with #DMD and Kelly Payroll!!!

Hopefully you can play next October when we hold the second annual event at Eagle's Nest. It's a great day of golf, fellowship and fun, trust me.



Monday
November 13
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issue 13
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if ravens get their act together, post-season not out of reach


It's probably an exercise in mass futility in the AFC, as all one needed to do was watch last night's game in Denver to know who the best team is in the conference -- again.

If you hit the sack early last night, New England dismantled the Broncos, 41-16. Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady, and the New England offense looks semi-unstoppable at this point.

But five other teams besides the Patriots have to make the playoffs because those are the rules. And the Ravens -- and a few other teams -- are right there in the mix thanks in part to the Buffalo Bills throwing up on themselves yesterday in a 47-10 home blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Buffalo, now 5-4, could have given themselves a smidgen of breathing room with a win yesterday. Alas, they're the Bills. They don't win important games anymore. I suspect -- looking at their schedule for the remainder of the season -- that the Bills will finish with eight wins. An 8-8 record won't get it done in the AFC. Or maybe it will...

The return of Danny Woodhead could be the second half spark the Ravens need as they continue to fight for a playoff spot in the AFC.

The Ravens aren't very good. But in fairness to them, they haven't yet benefitted from one of their key off-season additions, running back Danny Woodhead, who was injured in the first quarter of their opening day win at Cincinnati. Woodhead will return to action this Sunday in Green Bay. Let's see what sort of impact he has on the team's anemic offense.

But even with their current 4-5 record, the Ravens are still in the thick of the AFC playoff race, mostly because not many other teams are in there with them.

We just went over Buffalo's chances. They play in San Diego this Sunday, in Kansas City the following Sunday, then finish the season by playing New England and Miami twice along with a likely-to-win home game with Indianapolis. Buffalo might finish 9-7 but that's a stretch. An 8-8 mark looks more likely and even that, honestly, might be wishful thinking.

Baltimore's schedule is much easier, but they have an important road game at Green Bay to navigate this coming Sunday. The Packers beat Chicago yesterday without Aaron Rodgers, so they're somewhat back on track after losing their first three games without the star quarterback. This one next Sunday is huge for John Harbaugh's team.

Their final six games include four at home; Houston, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. All four are winnable, with Detroit being the best of the four.

Two road games (Pittsburgh and Cleveland) should yield a 1-1 mark.

The Ravens could do anything at this point and I don't think anyone would be surprised. I wouldn't be shocked to see them finish 7-9 and I wouldn't be surpised to see them piece together a nice run with the semi-soft schedule they have and end the year at 10-6.

If you're asking me to predict what they're going to do, I'll stick with what I said at the beginning of the campaign; 9-7.

But 9-7 might be good enough for them to make the post-season, particularly if it's Oakland the Ravens wind up deadlocked with at season's end. The Ravens own the tiebreaker with the Raiders after a 30-17 win out there earlier this season.

Oakland currently sits at 4-5 and their schedule is a bit tougher than the one the Ravens face. The Raiders have New England (in Mexico City) this Sunday, then Denver at home the following Sunday.

They'll finish the year with home games against the Giants and Cowboys and road contests at Kansas City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles (Chargers).

I can see the Raiders squeezing out nine wins, perhaps, but not much more. Remember, they have to have a better record than the Ravens in order to earn that playoff spot, as Baltimore owns the tiebreaker with them.

We're giving one of the two wild card spots to either Tennessee or Jacksonville (both are 6-3). One of them will win the division and the other is likely to make the post-season.

As crazy as it sounds -- or reads -- the Bills, Raiders and Ravens are really the only teams with a somewhat legit chance at the second wild card spot.

And now that you've seen the schedules, is there any reason to think the Ravens don't have a puncher's chance of making the post-season?

The addition of Woodhead could be key for Joe Flacco and the offense. If he can stay healthy -- and admittedly, that's a challenge for him -- there's reason to think he can make a significant contribution down the stretch.

The other moving parts will have to work in order for the Ravens to improve their play and make a playoff run. The defense has to stop giving up big plays, for starters. And the receivers have to step up their game and help open up the Baltimore running attack by making teams at least respect the purple pass catchers in their defensive alignments.

This is a weak AFC. I think we'd all agree on that.

But six teams have to make the post-season and you're better off making it than not making it, especially if you're John Harbaugh and your team hasn't been to the post-season in three of the last four years.

It's going to come down to the games on the field, obviously. But the Ravens, even at 4-5, can't ask for a better opportunity than the one in front of them.

Now, it's up to them.

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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.



a fight with jerry jones might not end well for goodell


For once, the biggest off field development in the NFL this week had nothing to do with the national anthem, but instead revolved around the effective resolution of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliot's lawsuit attempting to overturn his six game suspension for accusations of domestic violence.

Despite the appellate court issuing a temporary stay of Judge Katherine Polk Failla's denial of a permanent injunction of Elliot's this suspension, on Friday they came down decisively against Elliot, denying his request for such a injunction blocking the suspension until a final ruling.

The decision effectively ends the legal wrangling over the 6 game suspension imposed by Roger Goodell.

The standard for winning an injunction is proving "irreparable harm" if the suspension is allowed to go forward but the plaintiff ultimately wins the case, which in this case is straight-forward.

Other courts have consistently held that missing games constitutes harm, even if the player is ultimately paid for those games if he wins his suspension, and the fact that any games missed cannot be replayed with that player in the lineup makes the irreparable aspect self-evident. By ruling against Elliot on the motion, the court is saying that they do not believe that Elliot has a reasonable chance of prevailing in the case, and thus a injunction is not warranted.

Roger Goodell is now in the crosshairs of Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones and it might only get worse if the Cowboys can't beat anyone while Ezekiel Elliott serves his 6-game suspension.

The outcome is a scary development given the facts of the appeal, and the far reaching implications it has for the disciplinary process moving forward.

The most pertinent fact in the underlying case is that both the Columbus police and the NFL's own investigators into the case did not find Tiffany Thompson's accusations against Elliot to be credible.

Now, police often do a poor job of investigating domestic violence allegations and are too quick to dismiss them or the victim, but in this case the fact that the NFL suspended Elliot for 6 games and then vigorously defended that suspension in court makes it clear that the league had no desire to cover up or sweep away the accusations, and if anything the investigator's job was to dig up any pretext for a suspension that would make for good PR for the commissioner and the league.

Instead lead investigator Kia Roberts filed a report to the effect that Thompson's allegations were not credible and lacking evidence, and that she didn't see a basis for suspending Elliot. NFL senior vice president for investigations Lisa Friel testified to that effect at Elliot's appeal hearing in front of arbitrator Harold Henderson, and also that she personally informed Goodell of Roberts' conclusion.

And this is where everything goes off the rails.

Henderson refused to allow Elliot's lawyers to call Thompson to testify at the hearing, and also refused to require the NFL to provide Elliot's defense team with copies of Roberts' notes from her interviews with Thompson.

Furthermore they refused a request to have Roger Goodell himself testify, and maintained that refusal even after Friel's testimony. The two decisions are nothing short of farcical. Elliot's team wasn't allowed to see even a written account of the accuser's claims against Elliot, nor were they allowed to question Goodell as to the basis for his decision to levy the suspension even after direct testimony that his own investigator, in addition to local law enforcement, did not find the accusations credible.

There's simply no way to argue that this was a fair appeals process that was anything other than rigged for the league from the outset, and that Henderson's decisions were motivated by anything other than saving Roger Goodell from the embarrassment he would have suffered under questioning from Jeffrey Kessler as to his motivations for the suspension.

To that end, the NFL didn't even bother to argue that the process was fair. Instead they claimed that, under the precendent set by their victory over Tom Brady in the Deflategate case, that there is no requirement to provide fundamental fairness in the appeal of commissioner imposed disciline.

Judge Failla rather pointedly disagreed with that interpretation from the bench when she issued the temporary restraining order, but any judgment in the NFL's favor on final decision will at least establish that there is no conceivable level of unfairness that would warrant a judge overturning the ruling of Goodell's hand picked arbitrator.

That's a dangerous precedent, especially when coupled with the key holding in Brady. For as much as fan and media attention focused on a desire to get the Patriots and Brady, what got lost about the entire affair was that Goodell took a infraction that at first blush would seem to be a straight forward equipment violation specifically outlined in the rulebook, and arbitrarily decided to apply his powers to punish "conduct detrimental to the game" for reasons that were never thoroughly articulated.

District Court Judge Berman focused on this fact extensively in his initial decision overturning the suspension, as did the dissenting appellate court judge. The impact of the two outcomes, in connection, is that Goodell now has the power to declare any offense within his purview of arbitrary discipline, even if the penalties are explicitly spelled out by the rulebook, and that his hand picked arbitrator's rubber stamp of that decision is final, no matter how nakedly rigged the appeals process is against the player.

That's a precedent that should worry everyone, fans included.

For one thing, you might like it just fine when it's Tom Brady or a member of the Cowboys in Goodell's sights, but the worm turns awfully fast when Goodell decides it's in the league's best PR interests to suspend one of your team's key players for a quarter of a season or longer. The Ravens have already been there, in fact, when Goodell responded to the release of the Ray Rice video by changing a 2 game suspension into an indefinite one for nothing other than PR reasons.

But in bigger terms, if Goodell doesn't back down from his maximalist position, the league is hurdling towards a major labor battle in the next round of CBA negotiations that very well could extend to real games gettting cancelled.

During the 2011 lockout Goodell declared ahead of time that his disciplinary powers were simply not up for negotiation and the players, primarily worried about the share of revenue they would end up with, left it alone. But after the slap-dash way Goodell tried to implement of domestic violence policy after the Ray Rice incident, the Brady suspension, Bountygate, and now the Elliot case, there's just no way the union is going to make that concession again and accept a commissioner who has the power to suspend anyone he wants to, with no requirement to have actual evidence of the infraction, and with no legitimate appeals process for the players.

That level of power also seems to be concerning a few owners, and it's the driving issue in Goodell's feud with Jerry Jones, and the Cowboys' owner's apparent drive to give Goodell a pink slip.

Again, the attention given to the national anthem issues have swallowed up the bulk of the story, but Jones' crusade against Goodell exists largely outside of that controversy.

The earliest article I could find about Jones inserting himself into the work of the committee hashing out Goodell's new contract was a CBS Sports report dated September 17th...a full week before the anthem protests exploded in Week 3. Moreover, the report specifically links Jones holding up the proceedings to his extreme displeasure at the league's decision to suspend Elliot.

If he winds up serving the entire 6-game suspension, the Ezekiel Elliott case could be the beginning of the end for Roger Goodell's tenure as NFL Commissioner.

Jones has also made statements in public that make his feelings well known. In early October, Jones told a local radio station that he was "very familiar with all of the facts and the details of this case. And Zeke did not get treated fairly here."

That seems like a banal enough observation, except that claiming the process wasn't fair was the entire point of Elliot's court case. Jones is stepping way out against the league in this statement, going even further than Robert Kraft ever did in defending Brady. On Tuesday Jones laid it all out there, telling the same radio station, “The ruling has more to do with the scope of the commissioner’s authority, not really a bearing over whether Zeke is guilty of domestic violence or not...I am very troubled by the swing we have here."

In other words, whatever else is in lay here Jerry Jones wants everyone to know that he is flat out not happy with the amount of power that Roger Goodell has amassed in the commissioner's office (it's worth noting here that Goodell took the mildly remarkable action of fining Jones $100,000 back in 2009 for opining on the league's revenue sharing program in violation of a gag order on discussing labor issues, and a couple of years later the Cowboys ate a penalty for the infraction of treating an "uncapped year" ahead of the lockout like it was actually an uncapped year).

And Jones may have co-believers in his crusade, a fact that would provide some context to Bob McNair's inflammatory comments that came to light last week.

It would seem that the obvious thing for McNair to do would have been to claim he innocently bungled a common figure of speech and apologize for the unintended implication. Instead he offered the rather curious excuse that he wasn't referring to the players as "inmates," but rather the league office. That just didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense but...what if it was true? What if it wasn't the players that McNair thought needed to be put in their place, but Roger Goodell?

Jones didn't call off the dogs in the past week or so either, despite many indications that he may have overplayed his hand. He once again went on Dallas radio to discuss the Elliot case, this time accusing Goodell of flat out lying to him and saying that Elliot wouldn't be suspended. Then he retained a high powered lawyer who represented the league during the lockout to sue the other owners over the compensation committee's scope of authority.

Goodell may not have led an army on Rome, but by leveraging the process to create a system in which he has nearly unlimited and unfettered power he's done an awfully good job of play-acting as Julius Caeser.

But Goodell would be wise to remember how that story ended for Caesar, at the hands of rivals and former allies concerned about the implications of so much power being wielded by one individual.

Goodell may effectively be the dictator of the NFL now (and he is), but the rebels are already looking for a way to bring him down.

Jerry Jones and the union are already out in the open in their desire to bring Goodell down, and Jones has at least half a dozen other owners on his side as well according to most reports. Goodell is counting on the support of his usual patrons in the ranks of owners, but the more he chooses to wield his ever increasing power in arbitrary and unchecked fashion, the more opportunities he creates for other owners to worry about what Goodell might eventually do to their chances of winning on the field someday.

Indeed, by most accounts Robert Kraft is still sore about the penalties Goodell levied on the Patriots for Deflategate, and their once warm relationship has apparently never recovered. Despite this, Kraft continues to be cited as one of Goodell's cheif patrons and allies among the ownership ranks, but you have to wonder if he doesn't have bitter flashbacks whenever he reads about a breaking development in the Elliot case, and just how comfortable Kraft is watching the man who fined his team $1 million and took away a first round draft pick acquire so much authority.

Goodell is sitting pretty right now and seems to enjoy the support of the 24 owners he needs to thwart Jones' efforts, but at the same time he's got to be careful of pushing his detractors to a critical mass.

And if he loses Kraft, Goodell will have found his Brutus.

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only eight seats left on our masters trip next april 2nd


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America. 16 of the seats have been sold. We only have EIGHT seats remaining.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



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Sunday
November 12
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issue 12
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why is bernard pollard's opinion still important?


This is what happens when the Ravens don't play football on a Sunday during the regular season.

We wind up talking about Bernard Pollard.

Earlier this week, #DMD reader Jason e-mailed me with a link to a recent Baltimore-based podcast Pollard appeared on as a guest. He asked that I listen to it. Then he followed up with another e-mail. And another.

I finally listened to the podcast.

It was about as interesting as watching a re-run of Friends.

That's not to say the podcast itself was bad or poorly produced. It sounded fine. But listening to Pollard whine about John Harbaugh and his coaching style was boring.

I don't think anyone needs a summary of Bernard Pollard, but in case you do, here it is. He played safety for the Ravens in two seasons, 2012 and 2013. His hard-hitting style was both effective and damaging, often times within the same series on the field.

One can only assume this was a penalty, as Bernard Pollard clobbers an Eagles wide receiver in Baltimore.

He was a decent player. Nothing more than that. A testament to his usefulness comes with this statistic: Pollard played in the league for nine years. He did so while playing for four different teams.

Jason asked me to listen to the podcast and then offer an opinion on Pollard's take on John Harbaugh. Jason, I assume, knows I'm a John Harbaugh fan. In an attempt to get me to "come to the other side", I suppose Jason thought if I listened to the podcast and digested Pollard's complaints that perhaps I'd see the truth about Harbaugh and his "bad coaching style".

I listened to the podcast. All of it.

Here's what I think: Bernard Pollard is a malcontent.

I don't think John Harbaugh is without fault or flaw, by the way. I questioned him just last week when he eschewed an automatic three points from Justin Tucker in a game his team trailed 16-6 to start the fourth quarter.

But I also get the wisdom of going for it on 4th and three inches. I blame the quarterback in that situation just as much as I blame the coach. But that's a story for another day.

Pollard's contention is that Harbaugh broke up the 2012-2013 Super Bowl team because of a "power boost" that came with winning the title in 2013.

I'm not sure why people are still dragging this topic up five years later, but they are. And before you accuse me of "dragging it up", remember, I'm just commenting on a question someone posed to me. I don't think Bernard Pollard's opinion of John Harbaugh matters one bit.

Here's the skinny on how you evaluate John Harbaugh as a head coach.

Does the team win?

Does the team make the playoffs?

Does the team compete hard week in and week out?

Nothing else matters. Harbaugh's "style" doesn't come into play at all.

He either gets results with his team or he doesn't.

If he does, he stays. If he doesn't, he goes.

I don't care if Harbaugh has players wear lipstick on game day as part of his "style". If they win wearing lipstick, he stays. If they lose wearing lipstick, he goes.

What Bernard Pollard, a career-penalty-flag-waiting-to-happen, thinks about a coach he had five years ago shouldn't matter one iota.

Oh, and here's the thing about Pollard that really stands out from that podcast. When he was pressed to discuss a locker room "incident" involving Harbaugh and the players that, he says, ultimately led to the team fracturing and "calling out" their coach, Pollard wouldn't do it.

"I'm not going into details on what happened..." he said.

Wait a sec.

You have this enormous chip on your shoulder about John Harbaugh and how much he stinks as a coach and how he ruined the team -- and you have a significant incident on file about something Harbaugh did that proves the very point you're trying to make. And you aren't willing to say what that incident was?

It's hard to swing my support to Pollard's side when I hear him say that. Or, in this case, NOT say it.

We've gone over this post-Super Bowl story 143 times since 2013. The key names who left from that team did so for varying reasons.

Ray Lewis retired.

Ed Reed should have retired, as his play with the Texans and Jets would later show, but he bilked the Texans out of one more nice contract that the Ravens simply didn't think was worth giving to him.

And Anquan Boldin refused a pay cut, which is most certainly his right. Had Boldin taken $4 million from the Ravens instead of the $6 million he was set to make in 2013, he would have continued his career in Baltimore. Alas, he didn't take it and was traded. That's business.

Pollard's biggest issue is that he, too, wasn't brought back after the Super Bowl season. He says in the podcast that Ozzie Newsome called him personally to notify him that he was being cut and said, "I don't want to do this, but..."

John Harbaugh "broke up a championship team because of ego" says Bernard Pollard.

The former safety then hints that Newsome said it was Harbaugh's decision to let him go.

That might have been true.

John Harbaugh might not have wanted Bernard Pollard back for 2013.

So what?

Three other coaches along the way evidently didn't want Pollard "back" either. The Kansas City coach, Houston coach and Tennessee coach all had Pollard play for them at one point and then he was gone.

Why isn't Pollard chasing after those three guys as well?

Why is Harbaugh the one under the gun?

I'm sure Pollard would say, "He's under the gun because he broke up a championship team."

But that's not what happened. "Business" and "life in the NFL" broke up the championship team. In addition to the above-referenced three "star" players, guys like Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe cashed in on their free agent status and left for greener pastures after the Super Bowl season. Sean Considine retired after winning the Super Bowl. So, too, did center Matt Birk.

Joe Flacco took all the money after the 2013 Super Bowl win and there wasn't much to go around. So, the roster changed dramatically thereafter.

Oh, and that's not to say that perhaps Harbaugh didn't want Pollard playing for the team in 2013 and beyond.

That contention by Pollard might very well be true.

But to that, I say, "Who cares?"

The public and those on the outside know about 5% of what really goes on within the walls of a NFL organization.

We can watch the play on the field and make valid assessments on a player's worth, but there's no real way of knowing about his relationship with the coach, general manager or teammates.

Bernard Pollard was a decent player. Decent as in "serviceable", "useful" and "occasionally valuable".

Three other teams besides the Ravens clearly saw the good and bad with him. They signed him. And let him go, eventually.

When I listened to that podcast, I heard a disgruntled player who can't move on.

I told Jason in my e-mail reply that Pollard sounded like a still-rattled ex-girlfriend who complains, five years later, that you didn't hold the door for her and didn't send her roses on Valentine's Day.

Pollard sounded tired of it all himself, truthfully.

I'm sure he probably says to himself, even now: "Why do I keep bringing this up?"

I definitely don't know the answer to that one.

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show me the money


With the help of the "Super-Expert-Insider" we broke bread with last week in Nashville, "Show Me The Money" is officially back on a roll and ready to get you that built-in-swimming-pool you've been wanting for the last five years.

Thanks to the Dolphins missing an extra point last Sunday night, we went 3-1-1 last Sunday instead of 4-1, but it was a good week nonetheless and the "SEI" is back with five more picks for you today.

We'll eventually let you know where you can send your holiday gratuity that I'm sure you'll be happy to part with once you pile up the money from our weekly offerings.

It's week 10 in the NFL -- here we go.

SAINTS (-3.0) AT BILLS -- A cold outdoor venue might make the difference in this one as New Orleans gets out of their comfort zone and heads to chilly Buffalo, where the Bills are starting to sniff the playoffs. We're going with Buffalo and taking the three points here, even going as far as to call an outright Bills win, 27-23. This, of course, is likely a mistake, as the Bills are constantly shoving a red hot poker in our eye every time we buy stock in them. But here we are...buying stock.


VIKINGS (-1.5) AT WASHINGTON -- The Redskins are ripe for a letdown today after last Sunday's huge road win in Seattle. Minnesota, still trying to figure out who plays quarterback for them, comes into this one fresh and ready to go after their bye last Sunday. We're taking the Vikings here and laying the 1.5 points, as they go into D.C. and escape with a 23-20 win in overtime.


COWBOYS AT FALCONS (-3.0) -- The Super-Expert-Insider doesn't like the missing "hook" here ("would prefer this to be 2.5", he says), but we're going with the Falcons anyway and giving the Elliott-less Cowboys three points in Atlanta, where the Falcons win a close one, 27-22.


BENGALS AT TITANS (-4.5) -- After watching the Titans last Sunday, how are they giving any team 4.5 points? Oh, that's right, they're playing the Bengals, who just got carved up in Jacksonville last Sunday and had about 130 yards of total offense. But on this Sunday -- any given Sunday -- we're going with the Bengals to not only cover, but win by a field goal. Cincinnati pulls off the mild upset, 20-17.


PACKERS AT BEARS (-5.5) -- Talk about crazy point spreads. The Bears -- the BEARS -- are giving Green Bay 5.5 points. But, as we all know, the Packers are likely not going to beat anyone for the rest of the season without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Heck, even with Rodgers at QB back in week 4, Green Bay still had a tough time with Chicago in week 4, as the Bears had more first downs and more yards on offense, only to lose 35-14. Yes, we're going with the Bears here and laying the 5.5 points as Chicago wins 23-13.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We're going way out on that limb today and taking the Bills with our "Best Bet" pick.

RECORD TO DATE: 19-25-1

LAST WEEK: 3-1-1

BEST BET: 4-5

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miaa a-conference football playoffs set for today in essex


The four football playoff teams in the MIAA's A-conference will lock horns today at what we all know as Essex Community College, with McDonogh taking on St. Frances at 12 noon and Calvert Hall facing Gilman at 3 pm.

In what some thought would be the MIAA A final weeks ago, the Panthers and Eagles meet in the first semifinal. The first meeting last month was a battle for No. 1 with St. Frances winning, 28-0, at Patterson Park.

Coach Donald Davis and his Calvert Hall Cardinals take on Gilman in one of today's MIAA A-conference football playoff match-ups.

Terrell Smith picked off four passes including a backbreaking 30-yard pick six early in the second half, putting the Panthers up 21-0. Junior Joachim Bangda rushed for two scores.

The east Baltimore school, ranked 13th in latest USA Today Super 25, has been dominant this season, outscoring opponents, 400-44. Junior dual threat quarterback Jal0n Jones leads the offense with a powerful trio of running backs in Bangda, Osman Savage and Nyjil Carr, and West Virginia commit Randy Fields on the outside.

McDonogh struggled down the stretch, losing three of their final five games. Injuries have played part with key players Dejuan Ellis, Jabriel Johnson and BJ Farrare. Farrare, who suffered a foot injury in the second half of the first meeting with St. Frances, could be back for Sunday’s rematch.

McDonogh’s hopes of pulling the upset may come down to its ability to hold up against St. Frances’ depth. Penn State commit PJ Mustipher (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) is the area’s best two-way lineman.

In the 3pm game, the Greyhounds look to continue their resurgence. After winning just one league match last fall (2-9 overall), Gilman won two of its last three decisions in 2017, including a 24-21 victory over McDonogh last Saturday evening in Owings Mills.

Gilman used a Piper Bond 34-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Dixon off a reverse and Khari Jones’ 75-yard punt return to stake it to a 17-0 first half advantage. Brandon Madison added a key three-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

Bond, Madison and defensive end/tight end Thomas Booker have sparked Gilman’s turnaround. The Greyhounds, in fifth-place going into last weekend, jumped to the No. 2 seed (won tiebreaker for most points scored in league’s matches).

Calvert Hall made a late run into the four-team playoff, beating McDonogh in its last league match Oct. 27. Trailing 21-7, the Cardinals got three long touchdown passes from quarterback Mike Campbell, two to Xavier Gravette and one to Cole Herbert, and Jordan McLaughlin rushed for two scores.

In one of several topsy turvy MIAA A regular season matches, Gilman defeated Calvert Hall, 35-28, Oct. 6 in Roland Park as Spanky Dixon’s one-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds remaining in regulation was the difference. The winning score was set up by a Greyhound blocked punt.

Madison rushed for 118 yards and scored three touchdowns for Gilman, which led 28-14 at halftime. Sophomore running back Sean Tucker had 121 yards for The Hall, and Campbell finished 15-of-29 for 194 yards and a touchdown.

The two winners of today's games will meet next Sunday at Johns Hopkins University for the MIAA A-Conference title.

This story was contributed to #DMD by Varsity Sports Network, the area's leader in high school athletics coverage. Visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com for continuing coverage of all winter sports throughout Baltimore and the state of Maryland.

Glory
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Saturday
November 11
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issue 11
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blast's move to towson off to a successful start


As someone who was there on November 29, 1980 when the Baltimore Blast played their first-ever home game at the-then-called Civic Center, last night's Blast home opener at SECU Arena on the campus of Towson University was quite a shock to the system.

I also worked for the team from 1981 through 1998, so it's fair to say I have lots of the franchise's DNA in my bloodstream.

It was only one game, yes, and there were hiccups along the way, but the move from Baltimore to Towson was a hit on opening night, as the Blast defeated a highly-skilled Cedar Rapids Rampage team last night, 8-7, before an enthusiastic crowd at SECU Arena.

Vini Dantas sparked the Blast with 2 goals and 2 assists in last night's season opening win over Cedar Rapids at SECU Arena.

There were empty seats in the place, which, I suppose, would be the first "hiccup" of the night. The Blast made the move to Baltimore County for a variety of reasons, but going from a 12,000 venue to one that can hold 3,800 for indoor soccer meant the franchise should sell-out each of their 11 home games.

Last night wasn't a sell-out. I'm sure that was a little bit unsettling for the organization. But several hundred empty seats aside, the crowd was still impressive for a new venue.

The game also started 20 minutes late. Not that anyone really cares, but when the ticket says kick-off is 7:35 pm, the game should start at 7:35 pm or shortly thereafter. Pre-game festivities and kids running around on the field wound up delaying the start of the game until 7:55 pm.

But once it started, the soccer was outstanding.

I commented to my friend Dean Johnson of Primary Residential Mortgage before the game that I couldn't figure out if the smaller playing surface was going to dramatically change the scoring totals of the games in SECU Arena.

"This is either going to be 21-17 or 4-3," I said to Dean beforehand. "I just don't know which one, yet."

It turned out to be more like 4-3, as the smaller playing surface (140 feet) created a logjam of activity in and around the goal and more shots were blocked in front of the net than reached the two goalkeepers throughout the course of the game.

But the up and down action was exhilarating at times, as both teams went up and down the field at a frenetic pace. The Cedar Rapids team, one might argue, actually outplayed the Blast from start to finish, with Baltimore scoring a pair of power play goals to ultimately earn their one-goal victory.

The soccer was very good. The goaltending was excellent. Cedar Rapids trailed 8-5 with five minutes left and pulled the goalie in favor of an extra-attacker, eventually chipping away with a pair of goals to close with 8-7 with two minutes remaining in the game.

But the Blast are two-time defending champions for a reason. They tightened up defensively down the stretch and goalkeeper William Vanzela made several big stops late in the game to keep the score at 8-7.

Vini Dantas was the best player on the field last night, as he led the Blast with 2 goals and 2 assists. For you old-school Blast fans, he's a cross between Rusty Troy and Carl Valentine, a big, bruising player who has strong finishing ability and terrific field awareness. He's the Marshawn Lynch of indoor soccer...a beast.

William Vanzela is an outstanding indoor soccer goalkeeper. I watch players in the league today and curiously wonder if any of them could have played "in the old days". Dantas and Vanzela certainly could have. Vanzela is both acrobatic and technically solid and has that "keep the ball out of the net" mentality that all great goalkeepers possess. He uses his hands, arms, feet, etc. to stop a shot from getting past him. It's a treat to watch.

The smaller playing surface and the absence of high plexiglass around the field's perimeter leads to a large number of stoppages in play due to the ball leaving the field. As the NFL has displayed in recent years, too many stoppages in play isn't a good thing. In order for indoor soccer to work effectively, the ball needs to constantly be moving. Some stoppages are good. But the ball leaving the field every minute or so isn't.

The structural advantage to playing in SECU Arena is that you can walk to the refreshment stand and not miss any of the action while you're waiting to place your order. You don't need to go out to the concourse to use the bathroom or get food and drinks. That's a plus for sure.

The concession prices were a little alarming ($4.25 for a bottle of water that costs $1.25 at Royal Farms, for example) but still marginally less expensive than you would have paid at the downtown arena.

Parking was free and close to the building, another advantage of moving from the downtown location to Towson University.

I bumped into former Blast star Nick Mangione during the first quarter and we lamented how good the soccer was and how much skill the players possessed in such tight spaces.

"These guys have a great first touch," Mangione said. "But then again, they really need to, or they wouldn't be able to play in the league."

Time will tell if the soccer community catches on to the SECU Arena experiment, but for one night, anyway, those in attendance had -- yep, here it comes -- a real blast. Other than some expected open night glitches, everything went well for the franchise that is now in its 38th year of existence.

I'm proud to have spent 17 years of my life with the team and always enjoy going to the games, especially now that I have a 10-year old son who plays soccer and looks up to players the same way kids in the 1980's looked up to Manning, Stankovic and Savage.

In fact, my boy wore a Bruce Savage 1988-89 MISL All-Star Game jersey to SECU Arena last night. It's the only one of its kind in the world -- Savage gave it to me when he retired.

On the way home, though, Ethan had a request. "I need a Vanzela goalie jersey," he said. "He's my new favorite player."

Time marches on...

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this, that and the other


This is quite an interesting situation in China, where three members of the UCLA men's basketball team are on "hotel arrest" while the legal process plays out following their arrest on shoplifting charges last Tuesday.

The Bruins beat Georgia Tech -- without the three players -- in last night's season opener, 63-60.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have been on "hotel arrest" since being released on Wednesday morning. The team moved on to Shanghai on Wednesday to begin final preparations for last night's game while the three remained at the hotel in Hangzhou.

It could take up to two weeks for the entire legal process to play out and even then, no one really knows what the ultimate decision is going to be with regard to the players' freedom(s). Video surveillance shows all three stealing goods from three separate stores in a high-end China mall.

Their family members are allowed to be in the hotel with them, but none of the three players are permitted to leave the property. While there aren't police or security personnel stationed at the hotel to monitor them, airports in China are aware of the three players and their passport numbers have been blocked from any departing travel.

What if China decides to keep the kids there for six months? Does the U.S. government step in? And can they do anything about it if, in fact, they intervene?

Moral of the story here? Don't shoplift. Anywhere. But particularly not in China.


Braden Holtby made NHL history last night in the Caps 4-1 win over Pittsburgh.

The Capitals picked up a needed win last night as they knocked off the visiting Pittsburgh Penuins, 4-1.

John Carlson and T.J. Oshie scored power play goals for the Caps, who scored four goals in regulation for just third time in their last 12 games.

Braden Holtby became the second-fastest goaltender in NHL history to reach 200 career wins with the victory. It took Holtby 319 games to accomplish the feat. Former Montreal goaltender Ken Dryden reached 200 wins in his 311th career game.

Pittsburgh's Sydney Crosby failed to score, extending his streak of consecutive games without a goal to ten.


Longtime United States women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo says then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter sexually assaulted her in 2013.

Speaking to a newspaper while in Portugal, Solo said Blatter groped her at the Ballon d'Or award ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland.

"I had Sepp Blatter grab my ass," Solo told Expresso. "... It was at the Ballon d'Or one year, right before I went on stage."

"It's been normalized," Solo said of such behavior.

Blatter's representative called the allegation "ridiculous" in a statement to Expresso and The Guardian.

I'm not suggesting Solo isn't telling the truth with this story, but why wait until 2017 to reveal this incident? Blatter hasn't been involved in the sport of soccer since being banned in 2015.

Why wouldn't Solo have said something before this?

I don't get it.

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umbc drops season opener at smu, 78-67


Playing with only eleven players, UMBC led host SMU for nearly 23 minutes and deep into the second half, but the 2017 American Conference champions prevailed, 78-67, before 6,841 at Moody Coliseum in last night's season opener in Dallas, Texas.

Senior guard K.J. Maura, junior forward Sam Schwietz and red-shirt freshman David Park were not in uniform on Friday night. Maura served the first of a three-game suspension for violation of team rules, while Schwietz and Park are injured.

UMBC's Jairus Lyles scored a game-high 24 points last night but the Retrievers lost a late lead and fell to SMU, 78-67.

UMBC Sophomore forward Arkel Lamar posted career highs in scoring (23), rebounding (12) and recorded his first career double-double. Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles led the Retrievers with 24 points.

SMU has now won 23 straight games at home.

UMBC took its final lead on a layup by junior forward Max Portmann, giving the visitors a 63-61 lead with 5:55 remaining. But after a pair of free throws by SMU, and a missed trey by Lamar, Mustang wing Ben Emelogu buried a trey from the right wing to give the hosts their first lead since 8:42 mark of the first half.

Senior guard Jourdan Grant added 12 points for UMBC. Preseason American Conference Player of the Year Shake Milton led all scorers with 28 points.

With an amped-up, partisan crowd and President George W. Bush in attendance, the Mustangs sprinted out to a 9-0 lead. But Lyles hit a deep trey at the 15:58 mark to get UMBC on the board and scored nine points in a 14-4 surge that gave the Retrievers their first lead at 14-13 at the 12:27 mark.

The game remained tight, but Lamar scored seven straight points and a Lyles steal, leading to a follow-up bucket by senior guard Jourdan Grant provided the visitors with a half-best 40-30 lead at the 2:48 mark. SMU cut the gap to four points, but a Grant trey with 41 seconds to play in the stanza gave the Retrievers a 45-38 halftime lead.

Lamar wiped out his previous career high of 15 points in the first 17 minutes of play, scoring 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor, 3-of-4 from behind the arc and 7-of-8 from the stripe. He ended up tying his career high with four (4-of-8) treys.

UMBC now travels to Arizona to take on the Wildcats this Sunday at 6 pm (PST).

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Friday
November 10
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issue 10
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what do we want from the orioles?


The 2017 Houston Astros became a model that many major league baseball teams are sure to try and follow.

Anyone who follows baseball knows the story. The Astros went in the tank for a few years, lost games and finished in last place like they were writing a book on it (and maybe they were, unintentionally), then saw the seeds they planted blossom into a championship team in 2017.

The Astros were very recently a laughingstock. And now, just like that, they're world champions.

The Orioles, as our Brien Jackson noted here earlier in the week, are in a bit of a quandry themselves. As they're currently shaped, the Orioles are likely not a World Series candidate in 2018. Sure, they could catch lightning in a bottle and do what the Twins did this past season, which is to say, come out of nowhere to unexpectedly secure a playoff spot with an average 25-man roster, but no one in Baltimore is blocking off all of next October for baseball games at Camden Yards.

But how do the Birds do what Houston just did in 2017?

Back in 2014, Sports Illustrated produced this cover story about the Astros, predicting that their reshaping process would yield a World Series title in 2017. Would Baltimore sign off on the same sort of project for the Orioles?

How do the Orioles, who haven't been to a World Series since 1983, put the pieces in place to start making the long climb back to title contenders?

And the bigger question is this: Would Baltimore accept two or three years of potentially really bad baseball in order to reap the benefits of it in, say, 2020 or so?

We went through this once, remember, around 2000 or so, when the Orioles started losing games with regularity and people stopped going to the ballpark. That "decade of despair" was dreadful. The stadium was empty, the team stunk, and the franchise was a punch-line for media members in Baltimore and all over the country.

But there was no plan back then. They were losing because they signed terrible players, spent no "real" money on quality, and, in short, got what they deserved.

There's a difference between losing 100 games because you're not willing to do what it takes to win and losing 100 games because you're trying to build something for the future.

The Orioles circa 2006 weren't trying to win. Not in the least. That's why folks turned their back on them.

If the Orioles tried to replicate what the Astros just pulled off and told people that up front, I think folks in town might be a tad bit more understanding than they were a decade ago.

Every sports town is different and yet, every sports town is the same.

No one likes a losing team. The franchise doesn't like losing. The players don't like losing. The fans don't like their team(s) losing. It's not healthy for anyone.

But sometimes, as the Astros proved, it's a necessary evil, particulary if (and this is very important) there's a plan behind it all that makes sense.

How would Baltimore react if the Orioles produced a plan similar to the one the Astros developed circa 2011, when they started their run of 100 or more losses over three straight seasons -- while compiling high draft picks -- and went about the process of reshaping their roster for five years down the road?

In short, would Baltimore still support the Birds to the tune of 25,000 per night if the Orioles went on a 3-year run of losing 100 or more games?

I'm not sure.

Personally, I think the "reshaping" idea makes sense. I'm just a guy who owns two 13-game plans, but I'd still take my son to the games whether the team wins 100 or loses 100.

Sure, I'd have some explaining to do on the drives down to Camden Yards and I'd carefully discuss with my son why the Orioles are losing and how this is all part of a plan that might not make sense now, but could bear great rewards down the road.

I don't know that he'd quite grasp it all, but I'd explain it to him nonetheless, maybe just as much to remind myself that it's all a work-in-progress.

But I'm just a guy with two mini-plans.

Would corporate Baltimore support "intentional losing"? Would the airline company still sink a half million dollars into the MASN broadcasts? Would Royal Farms still have their sign behind home plate? Would Toyota still have their ad on the scoreboard?

I sold sports for a living once. The most common theme you sell when you're peddling corporate sponsorships is.....what? You're selling HOPE. You're selling the hope of a great season, with huge crowds, big TV ratings and a national following come playoff time.

It's hard to sell "hope" to the Royal Farms people or the guys running Toyota marketing when you're quite clearly in a massive reshaping mode that will likely yield 100 or more losses.

Most marketing executives would say: "Once you guys get really good again, we'll be right back in there with you, don't you worry."

That's not to say that everyone would ditch the Orioles. The airline company would probably still be involved, but they might trim their expenditure from $600,000 to $350,000. The same for the other sponsors you see on the in-stadium signage or on the TV broadcasts.

But the Orioles -- if they went about the process of tearing down their current roster in favor of a 3-year reshaping process -- would most certainly be impacted in a number of ways.

Are they willing to do that?

Would Peter Angelos sign off on it?

Would Buck Showalter want to be a part of it?

How do you attract any decent free agents in the off-season if you're intentionally losing? Then again, maybe you're not interested in investing in those kinds of players if you're trying to pull off Astros 2.0.

I have no idea if the Orioles are considering a "reshaping process".

I think they should.

But I'm saying that as someone who simply wants to see the team reach the World Series again sometime in my lifetime.

Admittedly, I wouldn't be the one feeling the financial impact of two or three 100-loss seasons. It's easy for me to say, "Go in the tank". But it's not easy to do.

And, remember this. If you're going to pull off the "reshaping process", you have to have people in place that can do it right.

Is Dan Duquette the right guy for that job?

I don't know the answer to that.

The Orioles already have several promising young players in their organization. As Brien noted earlier this week, there's Austin Hays, Chance Sisco, Ryan Mountcastle and Tanner Scott, just to highlight four of the more familiar names. The Birds might not need a full-blown, massive reshaping like the Astros endured.

But they also have other pressing issues, like: What to do with Manny Machado? And Jonathan Schoop? And Zach Britton? And Adam Jones?

Those four are integral parts of the current team, but they all four have something in common -- none have been to a World Series in Baltimore. So do you make them part of the reshaping process and move them on to new teams (Jones has trade veto power, the other three do not) and wheelbarrow in six or seven prospects for them?

There are lots of questions about the Orioles and their 2017-2018 off-season.

The Astros just proved that a well-designed rebuilding can yield glorious results.

But would everyone in Baltimore buy in?

I doubt it.

But I would.

Would you sign off on an Orioles reshaping project like the one the Astros just put together in Houston? Tell us yes or no and why/why not in the comments section below.

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sherman's achilles injury draws more attention to thursday night football


Of all the dumb things the NFL has done (there's quite a list forming these days), Thursday Night football is, by far, the dumbest.

It always has been.

Sunday is "football day".

Seattle's Super Bowl hopes took a massive punch to the gut last night when star cornerback Richard Sherman tore his achilles tendon in the Seahawks' 22-16 win over Arizona.

And Monday Night football has long been a staple of our expanded sports weekend. Remember -- for those old fuddie duddies like me -- that Monday Night football was once the marquee game of the week in the NFL.

Thursday Night football makes zero sense.

And in the wake of last night's season-ending injury suffered by Seattle's Richard Sherman, you can bet the spotlight will shine even brighter now on Thursday night games.

Sherman could have torn his achilles this Sunday, that much is true.

But he didn't. He tore it on a Thursday night, just four days after he last played in a game.

Players have long argued that four days (really, three FULL days) of recovery isn't enough for their body.

"Play on!" said the league. "If you guys want the salary cap to be $150 million, you'll have to suck it up and play on Thursday nights once a season."

Thursday Night football is terrible.

If you're not paying attention, you almost forget the game is even being played.

The NFL tries to create occasionally decent-match-ups, but even then, it's still a labor of love for the fans to set aside yet another three hours -- on a weeknight no less -- to watch the game.

It's time to put an end to Thursday night football.

I've actually been singing this tune for a long, long time, going all the way back to my days on the radio. I hated the idea then and I still hate the idea now. It's dumb to play football on Thursday night.

Just ask the Seattle Seahawks this morning what they think about Thursday football. I bet they'd agree. It's time for it to end.

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only eight seats left on our masters trip next april 2nd


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America. 16 of the seats have been sold. We only have EIGHT seats remaining.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



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Thursday
November 9
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issue 9
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a "hot take" gone bad


There are things better left unsaid.

We've all done it. Sometimes, we accidentally say the wrong thing, realize it right away, and try to make amends.

There are other occasions when you know you're about to push the envelope but you say it anyway.

Sports talk radio is the perfect setting for those types of moments.

40-year old Roy Halladay passed away on Tuesday after crashing his private plane in the Gulf of Mexico.

In my 12 years on the air, I said something(s) or made a remark that I would later regret. More than once. Because it's a "live mic", those moments slip out and that's that. They're part of history.

Yesterday in Boston, radio history was made. Sad radio history, in fact.

Michael Felger is the co-host of a sports talk show up there. I don't know him. I've never heard his show. Yesterday was the first time I ever heard or read his name.

But he made history yesterday.

He went on a rant about Roy Halladay's death that essentially defined Halladay as "deserving to die".

That was his "hot take" about Halladay's plane crash on Tuesday that cost him his life.

While everyone else around the country was shocked and saddened by the 40-year old's tragic passing, Felger took the opportunity to bash Halladay. Harshly. Over the top. And he didn't stop with Halladay, either. He poked fun at Dale Earnhardt's death as well.

It was a sad, sad day for sports talk radio in our country.

I understand the need for "hot takes" these days. Fortunately, that thirst to pull a different string or two wasn't all that prevalent when I was on the air. It really started with the advent of Twitter, Instagram and the other social media giants who give you the opportunity to say it right now, right here, without much thought about the impact it might make on someone.

But, Michael Felger sounded like a guy who thought that one through yesterday. It was a hot take, yes. But it was planned. It was intentional. It was, by all accounts, not something he just happened to spout off that he'd later regret.

Below you'll find the audio from yesterday's radio show in Boston. It's worth warning you that at the very least it's unsettling. It was to me, anyway.



Based on cell phone videos that were released yesterday by witnesses, it appears as if Halladay was flying his aircraft in what some would say was a "dangerous manner".

That doesn't make his death any less tragic. He had a wife. And children. I'm quite certain he didn't get in the seat of that plane on Tuesday and try to do something that would end his life.

There's an inherent risk in flying, whether you're on a 727 or flying your own personal plane. That risk increases if you're flying solo and, as Halladay was apparently doing, taking risks that experienced pilots or aviation experts would warn you not to take.

But in the wake of his death, no one should say the things Michael Felger said on Wednesday.

What, exactly, did those words accomplish?

What?

Nothing changes. A wife lost her husband. Two children lost their father.

Why pick that moment to go on the radio and be insensitive about a man's death?

I do understand that often times, in the immediate aftermath of a national tragedy like the ones we've seen recently in Las Vegas and San Antonio, that members of the media and network show hosts often lash out at the perpetrators. Some might consider those "takes" to be in poor taste as well.

I think we'd all agree that criticizing someone who alledgedly shot 26 people in a church is much different than bashing a man who lost his life in a plane crash.

There was a situation once when I was on the air when a station employee mentioned on his show that he intended to urinate on Robert Irsay's grave when the Ravens played a playoff game in Indianapolis. I was outraged. That was not at all something I could sign off on. Sure, I know the history of Robert Irsay in Baltimore. I lived it. But the grave urinating idea was unacceptable to me and it caused some internal tension at the station when I spoke out against it.

I hope someone at the radio station in Boston speaks out against Michael Felger.

It was a shameful, careless use of his time and energy, not to mention a potentially embarrassing moment for his employer.

In this day where everyone in the media is trying to be first, some folks confuse that effort with "trying to be cutting edge".

Sports radio is a forum for community discussion. While it doesn't necessarily have to glorify teams and athletes in order to be successful, the quest for ratings, retweets and media coverage doesn't have to stoop to the lowest of the lows and pick on a man who passed away not even 24 hours earlier.

Some things are better left unsaid.

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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.


Imagination (n): The ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful or A product of a mental creation that’s often baseless or fanciful

I waited a few moments after Marcus Mariota’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker late in the fourth quarter on Sunday in Nashville before I jotted down a note, just so I could be sure.

And then Rich Gannon, with the replay on the screen and the CBS producer in his ear, said what I thought he’d say: the nature of the play, where Mariota and the Titans rolled hard to the right, only to stop and throw back to the left, was entirely by design.

Tennessee wanted a touchdown that would seal the game, not a field goal that would give the Ravens four minutes to win it. So, the coordinator sent in a play that featured misdirection, and also one that played both to his quarterback’s strengths and the defense’s weaknesses.

It was, in a word, imaginative.

Game over, Justin Tucker’s backheeled onside kick aside.

Who's ultimately responsible for the imagination that goes into a team's game-plan? Is it the head coach?

Hey, at least it was a lot better than Chris Boswell’s embarrassing attempt last year for the Steelers in Baltimore.

It says something that the most imaginative thing the Ravens did all day came not on a red zone play from scrimmage or during an important short-yardage situation, but on a gadget play from punt formation.

It also says something that Sam Koch managed to throw the ball before Chris Moore “broke” his route against what amounted to press coverage, considering that Joe Flacco has never been particularly good at doing that.

That’s another story, for another day. Today, it’s simply worth debating why the Ravens have no imagination. Which definition is it?

Do the coaching staff, or the players, simply lack that creativity and resourcefulness?

Or, does the Ravens’ imagination fall short because it just can’t match their reality right now?

For years, whether the coach was Billick or Harbaugh, whether the quarterback was Grbac, McNair or Flacco, the Ravens won games without any imagination. In fact, they took pride in it.

They lined up with a fullback. They played unbalanced formations with extra linemen. They committed to the run for real, as opposed to the stuff that comes out of the mouths of most NFL coaches. They plowed straight ahead, often running out games in the fourth quarter when the defense couldn’t handle it anymore.

When the team had its 34-14 stretch from 2010-2012, coming within one play of making the Super Bowl two years in a row, its most important receiver was Anquan Boldin, a 225-lb. rock of a man who played with no cuteness whatsoever. On his two second-half touchdown catches against New England in the 2012 AFC Championship game, his quarterback simply threw the ball into coverage and told him to go get it.

Joe Flacco was promising, then solid, then briefly spectacular, then disappointing, and now struggling. No matter how he was playing, though, he was the prototypical guy with a strong arm and a calm demeanor. He never left that comfort zone, really.

And the Ravens won, mostly. At the very least, they hardly ever lost when they were better than the other team.

When John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron in 2012, you could argue that he did it because there was a lack of creativity on Cameron’s part. Maybe the head coach knew that his team could be better, even though they were already good.

When he fired Marc Trestman last year, it seemed like more of a panic move. He, or the owner, might have been looking for a scapegoat, even though it was starting to become obvious that there wasn’t the same amount of talent on the field.

When Harbaugh answered questions about Marty Mornhinweg earlier this week, he may have been supporting his offensive coordinator because he’s a good friend. But it’s possible that Harbaugh realizes that no offensive coordinator could do much with the current group on the field.

That’s the biggest change in the Ravens since the moment the Super Bowl ended in New Orleans…

Whatever it is that the Ravens believe is possible…well it might be just a figment of their imagination.

Earlier this season, I suggested that the Ravens would need to win games in a few different ways this season to get to that 10 or 11-win mark, that the heavy run/great defense formula that won the season opener in Cincinnati couldn’t be the only way.

With seven games left, I don’t feel any differently than I did then. But I do wonder if it’s just too imaginative on my part to believe that this particular Ravens team can honestly do that.

Against Detroit and Pittsburgh, teams that will score touchdowns, I don’t know if the Ravens can match those scores, especially early in games where Flacco and company have started very slowly. Against backup quarterbacks for Green Bay, Houston, Cleveland (might as well be a backup) and Indianapolis, I don’t know if the offense can get enough of a lead to actually make it difficult for those young and/or mediocre guys to win those games.

And at this point, I’d bet that the season finale against the Bengals on New Year’s Eve won’t mean anything besides the last football game of the season.

Much was made of Harbaugh’s decision to go for it, with his team trailing by 10 points, on 4th-and-inches at the Tennessee 17 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Much was made of the play call, a straight-ahead run by Buck Allen where the Ravens forgot about the middle linebacker.

Much was made, especially by the coach himself, of the fact that Allen might have gotten the first down on second effort.

Back on my couch, I wasn’t worried what play the Ravens might call, though I thought during the commercial break that it might be a fake dive/pitch play the team has often used on fourth downs. I wasn’t worried about the overall decision, though if I were the coach I might have taken the three points.

I was simply worried that the Ravens wouldn’t make the play, because they struggle to make any play at all, whether imaginative or not. No matter what the reason, and there are plenty of them this season, I’m sure I was in the majority there.

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the main ingredient
in a horse race

I simply don't remember where or from whom I learned what is the main ingredient in a horse race. I may have read it in a book or an article. I may have heard it said by a character in a movie or play. If I had to bet, I'd say it was told to me by any of the thousands of gamblers with whom I've had the privilege and pleasure of association over the many years, wizened men and some women whose observations within this occupation or avocation combined with their philosophical bents may have lead one to distill this brilliant bit of wisdom.

When I heard, or read, this insight, it struck me the way a very few other English aphorisms have — it completely bypassed the intellectual filter and instantly burned its truth on my mind. I thought then, and think so more now, that it is one of those great terse pieces of writing or speaking — poetry, even — and merits inclusion in one of the great books of all time, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. [It ain't. I just checked. But it should be.]

Because of a recent DF piece on Tiger Woods and some Comments in the days following [in which I thought the insults — even those directed at me — were hilarious, and probably deserved], I'm going to lay out some Tiger Woods golfing odds on proposition bets in the next few paragraphs, and repeat what is the main ingredient in a horse race at the end of the piece. If you'd like the pleasure of pondering what that difference is while you peruse the odds, feel free. If you don't want to wait, go here.

The European bookmaker that calls itself Bookmaker is capitalising on the anticipated return of Tiger Woods to competitive golf by offering what it calls Specials on eventualities other than who wins the tournaments. There are two interesting things about Bookmaker. The first is that, if a viewer is within the United States, a Virtual Private Network on a computer or cell phone is not needed to see the odds offered on the propositions [although a VPN may be needed if you want to get down a bet, which you won't, because that would be illegal]. The second thing is that the Bookmaker website page publishes and updates in real time the amounts wagered each way on the propositions. By seeing this information, we can know what the wagering public believes Tiger's chances are to do or not do a variety of things. The Bookmaker web page is here.

Will Tiger Woods announce retirement from professional golf before January 1, 2019?

Yes +240
No -300

Note 1: Most European bookmakers and an increasing number of American sports books use what is called the Money Line to offer odds. In a Money Line bet, a positive number [indicated by a " + "] shows the amount that is paid on a $100 bet if the bet is won. Thus, above, a bet of $100 on Yes would, if won, pay $240. A negative number [indicated by a " - "] indicates the amount that must be bet to win $100. Again, above, to win $100 on a No bet, the wager must be $300. In my opinion, the Money Line is used because it relieves the punter of the requirement to pay the 10% vigorish on losing bets, and this relief, reinforced by the less transparent math of the Money Line, blinds the punter into believing he's getting a better deal when in fact the reverse is true.

For the reader's convenience, we've converted [where needed] the Money Lines to the more traditional Fractional Odds, split the difference [thus negating what would be the book's profit margin], and expressed the result in Fractional Odds. Thus:

Yes +240 2.7 - 1
No -300 .37 - 1

Note 2: On Over-and-Under props, our Euro brothers charge 15% vig in just about all cases. But they have socialized medicine, for which somebody's got to pay.

Listed below are the current odds on prop bets you can make regarding Tiger Woods and his return to golf in late 2017 and into the 2018 playing season:

How many PGA Tour/European Tour events will Tiger Woods compete in during 2018 calendar year?

Over 5½ Under 5½


How many majors will Tiger Woods compete in during 2018 calendar year?

Over 2½ Under 2½


Will Tiger Woods win a PGA Tour/European Tour event prior to January 1, 2019?

Yes +2000 30 - 1
No -4000 .033 - 1


Tiger Woods best finish during 2018 calendar year (minimum playing field of 100).

Over 18½ Under 18½


How many cuts will Tiger Woods make during 2018 calendar year? (minimum playing field of 100).

Over 2½ Under 2½


Tiger Woods Official World Golf Ranking on January 1, 2019.

Over 1180½ Under 1180½


Will Tiger Woods withdraw during any professional tournament prior to January 1, 2019?

Yes -600 .2 - 1
No +400 5 - 1


Will Tiger Woods undergo back surgery in 2018?

Yes +130 1.45 - 1
No -160 .69 - 1


Will Tiger Woods shoot 80 or worse in a round in 2018?

Yes -130 .87 - 1
No +100 1.15 - 1


Will Tiger Woods withdraw from the 2017 Hero World Challenge before the tournament begins?

Yes +220 2.5 - 1
No -280 .4 - 1


Will Tiger Woods withdraw during the 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Yes +240 2.7 - 1
No -300 .37 - 1


Will Tiger Woods finish in the top 5 at the 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Yes +600 10 - 1
No -1400 .1 - 1


Will Tiger Woods finish last (18th) at 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Yes +350 4.25 - 1
No -500 .24 - 1


Will Tigers Woods hit fairway on first round tee shot on Hole No. 1 of 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Yes -165 1.5 - 1
No +135 .67 - 1


How many birdies will Tiger Woods record in the first round of 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Over 2½ Under 2½

How many bogeys or worse will Tiger Woods record in the first round of 2017 Hero World Challenge?

Over 3½ Under 3½


Tiger Woods highest score on any hole during 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Over 6½ Under 6½


Tiger Woods 18-hole score during first round of 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Over 72½ Under 72½

Tiger Woods highest 18-hole score during any round of 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Over 75½ Under 75½


Tiger Woods lowest 18-hole score during any round of 2017 Hero World Challenge.

Over 69½ Under 69½

The main ingredient in a horse race?


a difference of opinion


to return, please click here.


This contribution was provided to #DMD by our friend George McDowell, who puts the odds that someone will write something stupid about Tiger Woods in the comments section at -480 (yes, they will) and +130 (no, they won't). Place your wagers accordingly.

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Wednesday
November 8
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issue 8
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fact and opinion would practice throughout its bye week


FACT: At his peak, Roy Halladay was an elite pitcher. He won 16 or more games in six consecutive years (2006-2011) and claimed a pair of Cy Young Awards, one each in the American and National Leagues. His last big league season was 2013, meaning he's Hall of Fame eligible in 2019.

OPINION: I doubt the stuffed suits in Cooperstown will do this, because, well, they're like Thurston Howell III and everything has to be neat and tidy for them. But in the aftermath of Halladay's tragic death yesterday, they should cut a year out of Halladay's five-year wait period and make him available for induction in 2018 rather than 2019. It would be the right thing to do. And I heard a local sports radio host last night offer some conjecture about Halladay's status for Cooperstown ("I'm not 100% sure he's a Hall of Famer", the host said). Ummmm, yes, he's 100% a Hall of Famer. He was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for a period of roughly eight years.

FACT: Two teams in both the AFC and NFC earn wild card berths every year. If the season ended today, Buffalo and Jacksonville (both 5-3) would be the AFC wild card teams.

OPINION:Buffalo has zero chance of making the post-season. Their next four games are against the Saints (home), Chargers (away), Chiefs (away) and Patriots (home), plus they have a late-season loss at New England to go along with that tough four-game stretch in November. Jacksonville, meanwhile, has an easier go of it, as they face the Chargers (home), Browns (away), Cardinals (away) and Colts (home). They also play San Francisco later on in the season. The Jags could finish with 10 wins this season.

Cleveland's Corey Kluber has a legitimate shot at earning his second career Cy Young award next week when the A.L. winner is announced.

FACT: The Orioles recently nixed a pre-season exhibition game scheduled for next spring, hosted by the Washington Nationals at the Naval Academy's baseball stadium, claiming "territorial rights".

OPINION: The Birds have done some bush-league things in the past, but this might be their worst offense yet. The game literally drew less than 1,000 fans last spring when the Nationals hosted the Red Sox. It was played almost entirely in front of midshipmen, their family members, and Naval Academy officials. Why on earth would the Orioles pull out their petty-card and use it for this meaningless game in Annapolis? Answer: Because they're petty.

FACT: Maryland's football team is 4-5 on the season. They have a win at Texas and a loss at Rutgers.

OPINION: If the season opening loss would have been at Rutgers and the mid-season win would have been at Texas, we'd probably look at Maryland's season a bit differently. Instead, everyone has pretty much forgotten about the Terps' stirring opening-Saturday triumph down in Austin, Texas. Losing to Rutgers in football is somewhat shameful, agreed, but that's life as a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team. The less talented teams get blown out by the big boys and fight and scratch with one another. Only a Flyers fan or an Old Mill grad would be dumb enough to think Maryland was going to be a powerhouse football program in the Big Ten. They never will be. End of story.

FACT: The Caps lost to Buffalo last night, 3-1. Alex Ovechkin had the lone goal for Washington, who were playing for the third time in four days, a tough stretch for any NHL team.

OPINION: Washington's offense continues to struggle. In their last ten games, the Caps have scored more than three goals in regulation play just twice. And in five of those ten games, they've scored two goals or less. Sure, they have some injuries up front, but the offense has sputtered for most of the season. Alex Ovechkin has 13 goals and T.J. has six. After that, there isn't one player on the roster with more than three goals. And we're 16 games into the season. That's scary.

FACT: The Eagles are currently 8-1 and leading the NFC East.

OPINION: Philadelphia appears legit. You don't go 8-1 in the league by accident. But the schedule beefs up for them now. They're in Dallas this Sunday night, then they host the Bears, visit Seattle and the L.A. Rams, and finish with the Giants (away), Raiders (home) and Cowboys (home). That looks like an 11-5 record to me...maybe 12-4.

FACT: Evan Longoria (3B) won his 3rd Gold Glove on Tuesday. Eric Hosmer (1B) won his 4th.

OPINION: Is anything more mysterious in baseball than the awarding of the Gold Gloves? I'm certainly not saying Manny Machado deserved one in 2017. I'd just like to know how, exactly, they determine who DOES win one. Chris Davis stunk at the plate in 2017. No one would dispute that. But his play at first base bordered on impeccable. How did it come to pass that Hosmer beat him out? I'd just to know the mechanics of the award and how it works. I mean, I know managers and coaches vote on the awards. But are they just doing it with their eyes? Are there no fancy stats to support their voting? It's a weird system, for sure.

FACT: This year's Super Bowl will be played in Minnesota on February 4, 2018.

OPINION: Back in early September, I made my pre-season picks. I had Oakland defeating Pittsburgh in the AFC title game (could still happen, I suppose) and Green Bay defeating Arizona in the NFL title game (can't happen, thanks to Aaron Rodgers' injury). I had Green Bay over Oakland in the Super Bowl. That's not happening. So, now, halfway through the season, I'm going with New England to beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game and Philadelphia to beat Seattle in the NFC title game. Super Bowl winner? Geez, really? You know who...

FACT: Tiger Woods has 79 career wins, 2nd on the all-time list. He trails Sam Snead, who won 82 times on the PGA Tour.

OPINION: The bubbling story out of south Florida is that Woods wants to come back and win at least four more times and pass Snead for the all-time wins lead. He's faced reality that winning four majors in his 40's is probably a steep climb, but folks who have been around him in Jupiter, Florida say Tiger's fuel for his comeback is to win at least four times and move up to #1 on the career wins list.

FACT: The Houston Texans signed quarterback Matt McGloin last week after DeShaun Watson went down with a season-ending knee injury.

OPINION: The Texans further embarrassed themselves yesterday, if that's even possible, when they cut McGloin and signed super-journeyman Josh Johnson. You remember Johnson, don't you? Oh, right, you probably don't -- since HE HASN'T THROW A PASS IN THE NFL SINCE 2011. But, yeah, there's no collusion going on in the league as it relates to Colin Kaepernick's continued unemployment. Right...

FACT: Baseball's post-season awards are right around the corner. The two big ones, MVP and Cy Young, get announced next week.

OPINION: Jose Altuve is winning the A.L. MVP award. There will be some push for Aaron Judge, but he'll get the Rookie award and that's all. Corey Kluber will narrowly edge Chris Sale for the A.L. Cy Young honor, the second of his career. Paul Goldschmidt will be the N.L. MVP and Clayton Kershaw -- despite missing five weeks -- will win his 4th career Cy Young award.

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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.


Baseball's off-season is officially underway, with teams able to negotiate with and sign free agents as of Monday evening.

The Orioles have a lot of work to do to put together a final product for the 2018 season, ad vastly different directions in which they can take the franchise. The common belief among fans is that the Orioles need to cash in on the tail end of this window, so to speak and put everything in to a World Series run this season. Personally I'm not sure that's a good idea, or even possible.

For one thing, the landscape of the team's future has changed pretty dramatically.

A farm system that was thought to be a dumpster fire ended up producing a guy who would have had a real chance at being Rookie of the Year most years in Trey Mancini, as well as two prospects who might fight each other for the award next season in Austin Hays and Chance Sisco.

#DMD's Brien Jackson says the Orioles should look to unload Mark Trumbo this winter in the wake of his terrible 2017 campaign.

Ryan Mountcastle beat the tar out of the ball in High-A ball, then handled a transition to third base surprisingly well in both Bowie and the Arizona Fall League.

And Dylan Bundy showed signs of being the dominant pitcher the Orioles hoped they had before his arm injuries, even after he reached new highs in workload, and is still under team control for four more seasons.

On the other side of that, the "window" on the roster that was built around 2012-14 might already be closed, with the best days of guys like Adam Jones and Chris Davis behind them, Zach Britton coming off a season full of injury and production that was short of the dominance he showed previously, and a whopping three spots in the starting rotation to fill.

Frankly, it's not a stretch at all to say that the 2020 Orioles look like a better bet to contend for a title than the 2018 Orioles do.

So with that in mind, allow me to present a step-by-step roadmap for how the brain trust in the Warehouse should proceed this winter, with an eye towards balancing the needs to get better next year without hurting the team's prospects for 2019 and beyond.

Forget about Manny: It's nice to dream about the Orioles signing Manny Machado to a decade long contract and making him a Baltimore guy for life, but the fact is that the ship has probably already sailed on that idea.

The Orioles should absolutely make him a long term contract offer, but with only one year remaining until he's eligible for free agency and a double digit salary for 2018, there's just no incentive for Machado to give up the chance to hit the open market.

Barring any unexpected agreements between the two sides, the front office should approach the 2018 season as if it's Manny's last in Baltimore. On the plus side, Ryan Mountcastle's strong performance in the Arizona Fall League makes that a little bit more palatable, as it's at least now a real possibility that he'll be ready to step in at the hot corner in 2019.

Get depth, not aces: It's taken as a truism that the Orioles need an ace, but with 3 open rotation spots and no great internal options to fill them (Miguel Castro is intriguing, not great) what they really need is an infusion of multiple starting pitching upgrades.

That's hard to do when you start handing out a bunch of multi-year deals in the $15-20 million average annual value range, even if you aren't concerned about the risks guys like Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb present on their own terms. It's not easy to sort through the free agent bargain bin and get a good sense of who's useful and who's going to totally bomb the next season, but it's a much more practical bet for the Orioles given the teams short-and-intermediate term position.

It doesn't do you a whole lot of good to have a Cy Young candidate at the top of your rotation if you've got two guys at the bottom who make you pine for Wade Miley.

Besides, as far as future aces go the best bets are still the two former top picks currently slotted into the front of next season's rotation. Terrible starts in April and June left Kevin Gausman's season stat line a mess, but after the All-Star break he put up a 3.41 ERA with a 3.43 strikeout to walk ratio in 89.2 innings.

And after a big jump in innings from 2015 to 2016 (which may have played a role in those early struggles too), Gausman stayed healthy throughout the season and made 34 starts.

Meanwhile, Dylan Bundy's first full season in the rotation was a smashing success, as the youngster who was once the top pitching prospect in all of baseball tallied 169.2 innings, avoided the disabed list, and pitched to a 4.24 ERA with 152 strikeouts to 51 walks while looking flat out dominant in multiple starts. Bundy did that at 24 years old with an innings limitation, and while it feels like Gausman has been around forever already he's actually just entering his first year of arbitration, so both of these guys are still within a typical development window.

Trade Mark Trumbo: It's weird to say this, but I think a lot of people underestimate how truly terrible Trumbo was in 2017.

The one dimensional home run hitter managed to have the worst season of his career, with career lows in every slash line category, in a year where the rest of the league was setting new records for total home runs and home runs per fly ball hit. That's not just a bad season, that's a bad season that doesn't provide many clues as to how Trumbo is going to turn things around.

Further, with Anthony Santander and Austin Hays looking like good bets to make the Opening Day roster, Trumbo's presence on the roster creates a glut in the corer outfield positions.

Sure he can DH, but that still leaves either Santander or Hays riding the bench and Trumbo has a legitimate track record of failing to produce in the DH role. In 1012 plate appearaces as a DH, Trumbo has hit just .226/.287/.416. By comparison, he's a .249/.295/.466 hitter in 1,434 plate appearances from first base, and a .279/.336/.521 hitter in 1,032 plate appearances while playing right field. Some guys just don't do well in the DH role, and Trumbo is clearly one of them.

Now to state the obvious -- no one is going to give Dan Duquette anything in return for Trumbo and the Orioles are going to have to eat a lot of his remaining contract to move him, but at this point the team is probably better off without him taking up a spot, and any salary relief a trade would return is gravy.

Lock guys up: The Orioles don't like to sign their own players before free agency, though they did make notable exceptions for Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.

They need to start making some more exceptions to give the franchise a real foundation for the next five years or so. Jonathan Schoop is coming off a breakout season, and the closer he gets to free agency the harder it will be to sign him to a workable deal.

As mentioned beforehand, Kevin Gausman is entering his first year of arbitration, and if the front office still believes in his future a multi-year deal now would both get the team a discount down the line and earn them a measure of cost certainty by buying out his arbitration years.

Even Tim Beckham could be a good candidate for an extension if the team believes they've got their shortstop for the next 5 years or so. But letting all of these guys go year to year until the last minute is setting the franchise up for disaster.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed either. For example, a 5 year $70 million contract for Chris Tillman a year or two ago would have looked like a great deal for the team, and now he's a reclamation project as he prepares to hit the market.

Shop Zach Britton: I'm honestly up in the air on this one, and given the volatility of the reliever market it's hard to make a strong prediction about how things would shake out anyway. It was taken as a given that the Cubs and Indians had set the market for elite relievers in 2016 and that someone like Britton would yield multiple top prospects in return and the it just....didn't happen that way. Dan Duquette shopped his closer hard, but no one was willing to give up top prospects for him.

And the craziest thing is that, based on the results, you can't actually say that either approach is better than the other one. The Cubs needed a lockdown reliever to shore up their team in 2016, so they gave the Yankees one of the best prospects in all of baseball to get Aroldis Chapman.

The Astros sure looked like they needed that relief ace at various times this season, but they weren't willing to give up any of their own five or six best prospects for Britton. Both of those teams went on to win the World Series.

The Indians gave up two consensus top-100 prospects to form a dominant one two punch in Anndrew Miller and Cody Allen. The Dodgers reportedly dreamed of doing the same with Britton and Kenley Jansen, but wouldn't part with anyone the Orioles wanted in return. Both of those teams made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. Baseball...what a game.

So I say the front office should look at moving Britton this winter, but I have no idea what the market is going to be for a closer, and even less idea what closers will be bringing at the 2018 deadline.

On the other hand, given the uncertain nature of the Orioles' rotation and the fact that elite relievers are a bit superfluous if you're not an 87-90 win team (especially when you have an otherwise deep bullpen like the O's do), and considering that there's almost no chance of the Orioles signing keeping Britton beyond 2018 (nor should they), just getting Britton's $12-14 million salary off of the ledger might be in the team's best interests for next season.

Plus, though the Orioles continue to preted they can turn him into a legit starting prospect, Tanner Scott and his 100 MPH fastball will almost certainly be in the Baltimore bullpen by the end of the season too.

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anyone up for a trip to the masters?


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



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Tuesday
November 7
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issue 7
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harbaugh staying calm in wake of rocky 4-5 start


As soon as John Harbaugh answered the inevitable question about Marty Mornhinweg staying-or-going in yesterday's weekly press conference in Owings Mills, the jabs and predictions got underway on the internet.

"Going down with the ship..." was a familiar quip.

"Doesn't see what everyone else sees..." several people wrote.

"Not willing to admit he made a mistake in bringing Mornhinweg back..." was another oft-mentioned criticism.

Whatever the case, Harbaugh is, in fact, sticking with his full coaching staff for the remainder of the season -- at least for now -- as the Ravens try and move up the ladder in the AFC playoff race after a 4-5 start to the campaign.

John Harbaugh said on Monday he's sticking with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (left) for the final seven games of the regular season.

John defended Mornhinweg with an interesting quote on Monday when he said, "I see the offense developing an identity."

I might have agreed with that statement -- somewhat -- had Harbaugh made it last Monday, because I thought the offensive coaching staff was starting to see that running the ball effectively and limiting the amount of pressure on Joe Flacco and the team's passing game was the best way to win.

But then I saw Sunday's loss in Nashville, where the Ravens couldn't run for jack-squat and Flacco threw the ball 52 times in that loss to the Titans. I didn't see much "identity" in that game plan, but in fairness to Harbaugh and Mornhinweg, they were playing from behind throughout three quarters of the game.

It's almost a guaranteed loss when Flacco throws the football 52 times. There's no identity there, trust me.

But I understand Harbaugh's decision to carry on with Mornhinweg, even though this might potentially be the final seven games of their respective coaching tenures in Baltimore.

I wouldn't call it "going down with the ship", though. Harbaugh probably sees the same things we all see. His offense will benefit from the November 19 return of Danny Woodhead to the lineup, for starters. It might have only been 11 minutes of action in that season opener at Cincinnati back on September 10, but Woodhead and Flacco looked like a perfect fit for each other.

Harbaugh also sees the same schedule we can all see and even though point-spreads and underdogs don't mean anything to him, it's reasonable to believe the Ravens will be favored in six of their final seven games.

They have a very winnable game in Green Bay in two weeks. As the Packers showed again last night in their home loss to the Lions, they're a league bottom feeder without Aaron Rodgers.

The Ravens will host Indianapolis, Houston, Detroit and Cincinnati along the way. Each of those teams are middle-of-the-road types, although the Lions appear to be on the uptick in recent weeks.

And even though the December 10 game at Pittsburgh looks and feels like a loss waiting to happen, it would be very Ravens-2017 for Harbaugh's team to go into Pittsburgh and somehow pull off a miracle win...then lose one of the above-referenced home games to a team they should beat.

Harbaugh probably looks at the schedule and says, "We can win a lot of those remaining seven games." And he might very well be right.

Why completely disrupt the team and throw things into chaos with the dismissal of Mornhinweg or any other coach?

It just doesn't make sense. Not now, anyway. Not with a less-than-imposing final seven games on the docket.

And honestly, who would you get right now anyway? Logic says the Ravens would simply hand over the offense to tight ends coach Greg Roman. Woooop-dee-doooo. Would Roman be that much better than Mornhinweg at this point? I wouldn't think so.

The Ravens still have an uphill battle in the AFC, no doubt about it. They lost key (potential) tiebreaking games to Jacksonville and Tennessee, but have a win over Oakland that might come in handy in late December when playoff berths are decided.

But Harbaugh looks at the total picture and likely doesn't see it as the dire situation that most of Baltimore does.

That's coaching 101.

You're never quite as good as you look when you're winning and never quite as bad are you look when you're losing.

One blown time-out, one botched punt, one drop from a receiver, one missed blocking assignment on a 4th and inches gamble -- those things add up to a loss that takes your team from 5-4 and in good shape to 4-5 and in trouble.

The problem with the Ravens? Those things seemingly happen every week, particularly in losses.

I'd disagree with Harbs on one thing: I don't see the offense with much of an identity at all. They might be trying to develop one and they might think they're moving in that direction, but the Baltimore offense is as reliable as Morrissey fulfilling his full concert schedule without cancelling an event due to the sniffles, a hangnail or cold temperatures at an outdoor venue.

Some of their offensive woes can be traced to ineffective quarterback play. Some of their issues go back to the loss of the aforementioned Woodhead and All-Pro lineman Marshal Yanda. And some of what ails them is connected to the ineffective play of guys like Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.

Yes, all teams have injuries. That's a fact. But who gets hurt and who follows them on the depth chart are equally important elements. The Ravens don't have much depth, which is one reason why key injuries always seem to set them back more, perhaps, than they do other teams in the NFL.

I hope it works out for Harbaugh. I really do.

I'd like nothing more than to see him rally the troops to an inspiring 6-1 finish and a 10-6 record that most likely would earn him another season at the helm and could get the team in the playoffs.

Back in August, I predicted a 9-7 mark for the Ravens and yet another January with no post-season football in Baltimore.

I'll stick with that assessment right now. I think the Ravens will be better in the second half of the season, barring any more major injuries to key personnel.

Ultimately though, the 4-5 start will be too tough to overcome.

I hope I'm wrong.

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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


The Ravens are stuck in neutral, unable to even build on a 40-0 victory and some rare good news on the injury front, with Joe Flacco not missing even a single game after a concussion.

Alas, a road loss to a playoff contending rival leaves them at 4-5 and, though you certainly can see them ending up with 10 wins at the end of the season based on the rest of their schedule, at some point you are what your record says you are.

And right now the Ravens are a mediocre team doing their darndest just to get above .500. Their bye week couldn't come at a better time, but the loss to Tennessee leaves them with no room for error in the last 7 games of the season. The (ugly) particulars from Week 9:

DMD's Brien Jackson says it's obvious that Terrell Suggs is starting to slow down after an excellent NFL career in Baltimore.

Loser: Terrell Suggs

It pains me to say this, but Sizzle is a net liability for the Ravens at this point. He had a hot start to the season for sure, and at times he's been the only edge defender to maintain his fundamentals against the run, but on a lot of other occasions he's just looked downright old.

Sunday saw a lot more of the latter situations, with Suggs visibly lacking the burst needed to recover and make plays when isolated on the running back. The most glaring example came on Derrick Henry's touchdown run. Suggs crashed inside on the goalline play, and when Henry bounced his way to the outside Suggs just didn't have the wheels to get back to the outside and slow him down, let alone stretch the run wide and force a loss like the Suggs of old would have.

He's not making much of an impact in pass rush either, and at this point Dean Pees should consider subbing him out for Tim Williams in those situations to add explosiveness on the edge and give Sizzle's legs a rest.

Winner: Jeremy Maclin

Maclin continues to be a productive receiver when he's on the field, and looks like he's getting more comfortable with Joe Flacco with each passing week. The offseason free agent caught 8 balls for 98 yards in the game, and had a couple of nicely timed anticipation routes with Flacco.

Loser: Breshad Perriman

It's been a running theme all season but this week it was on full display from whistle to whistle; Perriman is a total bust and a massive drag on the offense.

His biggest problem is that he's just a soft player. He doesn't have strong hands/arms to hold onto balls, he doesn't fight for contested passes, heck on the first deep ball Flacco threw him he didn't even fight the defensive back to get two hands up. It's ridiculous how much Perriman factored into the first half gameplan to begin with, and there's no reason for him to see extensive playing time the rest of the season.

Chris Moore might have his own struggles at the wide receiver position, but at least he's justifying his roster spot with exceptional special teams play, making any "growing pains" easier to stomach. Perriman isn't adding a single positive thing to this team, and he's never going to. He just doesn't have "it."

Loser: John Harbaugh

In the interest of fairness, I'm not a "take the points" kind of guy. I'm definitely not a fan of using the final score to argue in favor of what a coach should have done earlier in the game either.

It just doesn't follow that the game would have played out the same way if prior decisions had gone differently. For instance, if the Titans lead is 7 points instead of 10 on the Ravens' final drive, then Tennessee is calling a more aggressive set of defensive plays instead of playing to the clock with a prevent scheme, and the Ravens' offense might not even come up with that touchdown at all as a result.

Mostly though the question almost answers itself: If you need a touchdown and aren't confident you can pick up an inch to get a first down, why would you want to ask your offense to mount another drive to get back into position to put the ball in the endzone?

That said, the sequence of events that led up to the Ravens' failed pivotal failed fourth down conversion attempt was atrocious.

Despite getting to the line with plenty of time to get the snap off before the end of the third quarter and use tempo to their advantage, the Ravens opted to stand around and let the clock run out, coming back to run the play after the change in quarters.

That decision gave the Titans the chance to get their defense ready and, inexplicably, the Ravens ended up calling a straight handoff to Buck Allen on which middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard was totally unaccounted for by any blocker. That's just unacceptable, and falls squarely on the coaching staff who blundered the game situation at every step.

They had a similar problem on a previous fourth down attempt where, even though they got the first down on a beautifully designed option concept....they still had to burn a timeout prior to the play because no one seemed to know what's going on.

I like Harbaugh's increasing willingness to be aggressive on first down. You don't win by kicking in the NFL, no matter how many old time commentators espouse the value of "points on the board" and "trusting your defense."

But if being aggressive is going to be part of your gameplan, your team needs to be ready for those situations. If you need a timeout to set up your fourth down conversion attempts, you're just helping the defense out by giving them extra time to get ready. And that lack of preparedness for crucial game situations falls squarely on the head coach.

Winner: Offensive line

The unit struggled to open running lanes for Allen and Alex Collins, but Tennessee was crowding the line and clearly intent on forcing the game into Joe Flacco's hands. There's only so much a line can do when the defense is hell bent on bottling up the run and taking chances on the back end, and we know how well it goes when the Ravens try to run a screen pass to loosen up the defense.

But in pass blocking the unit was about as good as it gets in the NFL these days. Flacco saw pressure up the middle, but that over-selling to the middle was clearly in the Titans' gameplan as even Rich Gannon was talking about their coaches discussing it in production meetings.

On the other hand, there were several dropbacks on which Flacco had all day to stand stationary in the pocket, scan through his progression, and wait for routes to fully develop.

If that's what you're expecting to see on every play, it's just not going to happen anywhere (unless maybe you have a quarterback like Brady, Rodgers, Manning etc. that opposing coordinators are afraid to blitz). Quarterbacks are going to have to move around to find space and time and make plays after being forced off their spot. Ironically, Flacco's two interceptions both came on passes where the line protected him beautifully. Which means...

Loser: Joe Flacco

It wasn't Flacco's worst showing by any means, but it was a great illustration of the way he seems to shoot himself in the foot too many times to overcome these days.

His second interception was a particularly egregious example of the kind of inexplicable decision you expect to see from Joe at least once a game. For starters, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to throw a go route to 37 year old tight end Ben Watson in the first place. But worse, Watson was absolutely blanketed on the play. You will absolutely, positively, never see a receiver more totally covered in man coverage than Watson was running down the sideline on that play.

But Flacco identified man coverage outside before the snap, and anytime Joe does that he's going to the 9-route down the sideline. He makes his decision to throw the ball before the snap, and lobs it up without even considering how good the coverage is.

It's enough to make you long for the days when he was just constantly overthrowing Marlon Brown on those routes. His first interception wasn't that much better either. You can fairly pin the blame on Perriman for not being stronger in grabbing and controlling the pass, but throwing a deep ball to a receiver with three defenders around him is a dicey proposition in any case not involving Randy Moss or Calvin Johnson, and when it's Perriman you're asking to come down with the catch you're just inviting disaster.

I understand the idea of trusting your teammates, but there's a fine line between that and knowing your personnel, and Flacco is on the wrong side of that line way too often.

Worse still for Flacco is that the rest of the league has clearly identified and targeted his weaknesses. He's routinely being baited into those poor sideline throws, to the point where I've already called at least such passes the worst interception you'll ever see in your life. I'd apply the same claim to the second interception in this game, but at this point I'm afraid Joe's taking it as a challenge!

And as stated above, the Titans' coaches were openly telling the broadcasters that they were going to bring pressure up the middle on Joe and discussing the way that his fundamentals fall apart when he sees interior pressure. With that sort of thing obvious on coaches' tape AND the television broadcast, you can bet Joe's only going to see more of it until he proves that he can make adjustments to beat it.

Winners: Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey

Smith got multiple shoutouts from the announce team for leading the entire NFL in defensive passer rating, and is starting to get some long overdue recognition for being one of the very best cornerbacks in the league. Humphrey continues to earn more snaps by making plays, including an impressive mauling of fellow rookie Corey Davis on a 3rd and 5 attempt to force a big stop. If everyone stays healthy, this tandem is going to be really good next season.

Loser: Bernard Pollard

This has nothing to do with the game, but it warrants a mention but certainly doesn't deserve a column of its own. Pollard continues to nurse a grudge against John Harbaugh, taking to Twitter Sunday to declare that Harbaugh's "ego" broke up the Super Bowl winning team post-2012.

This is abject nonsense that's been debunked over and over again. Ray Lewis retired, Ed Reed was cut half a season in to his contract with the Texans and retired after the 2013 season, and Anquan Boldin's trade was a classic Ozzie Newsome cap move.

As for Pollard, he was an antiquated safety who, at best, wasn't cut out for the modern, pass happy NFL.

Even forgetting about the plethora of personal fouls he was guaranteed to rack up because he couldn't keep his composure if his life depended on it, he simply couldn't cover the league's new crop of athletic tight ends. He nearly single handedly cost the Ravens Super Bowl 47 because he did about as good of a job covering Vernon Davis as I would have.

Pollard played an unremarkable 2013 season in Tennessee (unless you count earning a $42,000 fine for a hit to the head on Andre Johnson, anyway), suffered a season ending knee injury 5 games in to 2014, and he's been out of football ever sense, with no team showing a serious interest in paying them to play him.

Honestly all you need to know about Pollard at this point is that the only way he gets any attention is to keep running his mouth about John Harbaugh, desperately insisting that the Ravens cut him because Harbaugh just couldn't stand his strong personality and not because he was a crappy safety on top of being a head case and a dirty player. The guy would find himself at home on any list of losers.

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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


Let’s be blunt.

Football at the University of Maryland is a disaster. Actually, it’s such a joke of a program, most teams now consider a matchup against the Terps equivalent to a bye week. The best the die-hards can ever hope for in future seasons is mediocrity and a bogus invitation to one of those irrelevant bowls played in December.

And who needs to be blamed for this failure of a program? Personally, I like to point the finger at University President, Wallace Loh. However, keeping it simple, the guy who really needs to step-down…and NOW…is head football coach, D.J. Durkin.

He’s an overpaid dope who’s in way over his head coaching a Big Ten team. Those annoying smirks he showcases on the sidelines during games is giving the impression he thinks the product on the field is a laughingstock, as well.

But Durkin isn’t the only one to blame.

A season opening win over Texas had head coach D.J. Durkin and the Maryland football faithful excited, but Saturday's loss at Rutgers is hard to swallow.

As is customary of most Democratic-led institutions, the University of Maryland loves to burn through cash. After all, the likes of Loh, Rankin, Colella, Anderson, et al, believe they have a license to spend, spend, and spend other people’s money. And seeing how the tax rolls in the so-called Free State continue to inflate with no end in sight, the University’s leadership believes the cash flow is likely never going to end.

Case in point is Durkin’s salary.

The person who negotiated the compensation package to lure Durkin to College Park needs to be fired, or seriously demoted and removed from all future contract discussions. Every Human Resources executive in the world will tell you there is no need to pay top dollar for a candidate with minimal-to-no experience.

Yet, top dollar (and then some) was freely sprinkled all over Durkin to get him away from Michigan.

There are 130 Division I head coaches in college football, and 26 of them—including Durkin—were hired in 2016. The majority of them—like Durkin—have losing records since taking over the reins at their respective Universities. As a matter of fact, fifteen of them are below .500 following this past weekend’s games.

But Durkin is the second highest paid coach on that loser list.

The issue for fans will always be about wins and losses. However, the business side of it (and college football is not about academics, it’s all about the business) is the return on investment and productivity of the guy in charge.

And, nobody fleeces their University employer more than Maryland Football coach, D.J. Durkin.

Durkin’s $2.4 million annual salary is hardly justified considering he has a .455 winning percentage to show for it. If Maryland wants to go with the excuse of ‘you get what you pay for’, then so be it. But, here’s the thing: fans will only forgive these numbers if the team is showing progress.

For instance, number one on the loser list is Virginia’s, Bronco Mendenhall. After the Cavaliers posted a 2-10 record in 2016, many in Charlottesville were losing their minds knowing the coach was paid a whopping $3.275 million a year.

However, the Cavs are 6-3 thus far in 2017, bowl bound, and boast a top ten recruiting class. They have a lot to look forward to under Mendenhall.

Like I said. Progress.

And that just isn’t happening in College Park.

The loss to Rutgers (yes, I said Rutgers) is beyond inexcusable for a team many in the country believed was destined for great things following the opening win in Austin. (If you’re keeping score, Rutgers’ head coach, Chris Ash, will make $2 million this year.)

Now, look at the Terps.

Sure, they pick up a couple of stud recruits; however the amount of these multi-star signings pales in comparison to other marquee programs in the Power 5 conferences. Bottom line: So many better quality football programs within close proximity to College Park means the University of Maryland cannot attract top talent to join its football program.

Maryland football seems to be served as an accommodation for those players who couldn’t make the roster of an elite team, yet choose to receive an education from College Park. And if that’s the case, maybe Maryland should consider demoting the team to intramural status or vacate the Big Ten for a Division II conference.

The future is not bright in College Park. It’s bleak.

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anyone up for a trip to the masters?


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Monday
November 6
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issue 6
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more of the same as ravens fall in nashville


Lackluster effort in the first half.

Mediocre quarterback play.

Receivers unable to hold on to the ball.

Defense unable to make a stop when it matters.

And a massive coaching gamble that was a bad decision right from the start.

Oh, and the all-world punter shanked a kick for probably the second or third time in his entire career.

This was a proud day for Breshad Perriman. Sunday in Nashville...not so much.

There you have it. That summarizes how the Ravens fell to the Titans in Nashville yesterday, 23-20.

Despite all of that, the Ravens are still well positioned to chase a post-season spot. We'll get to that later on.

It was more of the same for John Harbaugh's team at sun-splashed Nissan Stadium on Sunday, as the Ravens did all they could to sabotage themselves in falling to 4-5 on the season.

Joe Flacco was his usual "OK" self. He got the team in the end zone just one time in the real meat of the game, with a last-minute TD only helping those who took the Ravens and the 3.5 points they were given by the oddsmakers.

In defense of Flacco, he threw several passes that were dropped, including one by Breshad Perriman that wasn't as much as classic "drop" as it was an alligator-arms effort. The ball bounced off Perriman's unwilling hands and went to the Titans for a key first-half turnover that led directly to a Tennessee touchdown.

But for every decent throw by Flacco, there was a missed open receiver, a dump-off-for-a-two-yard-gain when six yards was needed, and the usual ineffectiveness inside the opponent's 40 yard line.

It's always Flacco's fault. And it's never Flacco's fault.

That's probably the easiest way to chronicle Joe's play. He could always do more. But yet, when he actually does do something well, others conspire against him.

Ultimately, though, the proof is always about the end zone. The Ravens couldn't find it enough yesterday.

The running game was stymied by a solid Tennessee defense on Sunday. The other team tries, too, of course, and the Titans did a great job at bottling up Alex Collins and Buck Allen, which meant Flacco and his receivers would need to step up in class and run a mile and a quarter instead of six furlongs.

They couldn't do it.

And when Baltimore needed to pick up a key first down in the fourth quarter, they strangely gave the ball to Allen instead of Collins, and he was bottled up for no gain on a huge gamble that ultimately decided the outcome of the game.

Sitting in Nissan Stadium, I said to those around me: "This is a bad decision by Harbs. You take the freakin' points here and move on."

Alas, Baltimore's fourth down roll of the dice failed. And instead of trailing 16-9 with half the quarter remaining, Harbaugh eschewed the automatic three points and Marty Mornhinweg somehow dialed up a play that had the ball handed off to Allen -- instead of Collins.

Fans will blame a poor spot of the football there. Realists will blame Harbaugh for taking a gamble he didn't need to take. And here's the kicker...by going for it there, all you might have actually been doing was shortening the game in Tennessee's favor, because the most likely result was another two minutes off the clock and a 27-yard field goal once the drive stalled at the 10-yard line.

The Ravens actually got the ball back after their blunder on an interception by Eric Weddle and scored one of their two touchdowns moments later to cut Tennessee's lead to 16-13.

Then, because everyone chips in when you lose, the Baltimore defense fell apart at the seams on the enusing Titans drive and they put the game away with a TD pass to make it 23-13.

A last minute touchdown throw from Flacco to Mike Wallace finalized the scoring at 23-20.

These losses have become mirror images of one another.

An injury-riddled Ravens team can't get a defining performance from their quarterback. The team's #1 draft pick from 2015 can't catch a cold, let alone a pass. The defense plays bend-but-don't-break to perfection, right up until they fracture at the worst possible time. And the coach makes a puzzling decision that -- this season, anyway -- comes back to haunt him.

And yet, the Ravens are somehow still in decent shape as they chase a playoff berth.

Even now, at 4-5, there's no reason to believe that the Ravens won't be right there come the end of December. Their schedule lightens up considerably now, with remaining road games at Green Bay (without Aaron Rodgers, the Ravens should win that one), at Pittsburgh and at Cleveland. 2-1 in those three games is a necessity.

At home, Baltimore finishes the season entertaining Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis and Detroit (not in that order). A sweep of those four and two wins on the road and the Ravens have their 10-win season and a shot at January football.

It's by no means a certainty that the Ravens can finish 10-6, obviously. But the schedule does swing in their favor in a big way over the last seven weeks of the season.

But to reach the ten win mark, John Harbaugh's team will have to upgrade their performance a tick or two. Flacco has to play better, for starters. The offensive line has to step up in class. The receivers have to catch the ball. And that's just on offense...

Oh, and the coach has to remember the golden rule: Take the points on the road, gamble at home.

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random musings on the nfl/nflpa
collective bargaining agreement
anti-collusion article


Colin Kaepernick's lawyer Mark Geragos (left), shown with his client Scott Peterson at Peterson's trial for the murder of his wife. Geragos was simultaneously defending Micheal Jackson in his trial for molestating a 13-year-old boy. Jackson was acquitted. Peterson is on Death Row at San Quentin.

In light of the interest shown in the Colin Kaepernick collusion issue, both in #DMD and in the national media, we publish the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA in its entirety on the #DMD server, and (below, re-formatted for visual clarity and with links inserted) Article 17 of that agreement, the section that deals specifically with collusion. Note that you can, when navigating to a linked section of Article 17, return to the specific place on this page where you were reading by clicking the Back button. [I didn't place internal links in the whole of the Collective Bargaining Agreement — too much work for an old man — but the document is internally searchable.] Finally, we have published Mr. Kaepernick's full complaint.

I was in the minuscule minority of lawyers who had no opinion on the O. J. Simpson case back in 1995. Thus I was never interviewed or quoted, and although the public no doubt felt deprived of the benefit of my wisdom, in fact there was none there. Likewise in this case, I have no opinion, at least on the merits of the substance of the case. All that I'll write about here concerns the form of the proceeding to determine if there was indeed collusion on the part of the NFL, in hope that it might be of some interest to my fellow #DMD readers. So, to it.

Stephen B. Burbank

Question: Who's the judge?

The case will be heard and decided by what the agreement calls the "System Arbitrator." The torturous process of selecting this official is detailed in Article 15 the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current Arbitrator is Stephen B. Burbank, whose day job is Professor for the Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Here is his Wikipedia page.

Question: What did the NFL allegedly do wrong?

Please read the entire filing here.

Mark Geragos, lead cousel, alleges that all the NFL teams colluded with and among all of themselves to deny Colin Kaepernik a job, or even a tryout, with any NFL team. In addition, Mr. Geragos names President Trump and Vice President Pence as the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement Arbitration Proceeding equivalents to unindicted co-conspirators in a criminal case. Finally, he lays the reason for collusion on "retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s invocation of his rights under the First Amendment and his leadership in bringing attention to racial inequality and social injustice."

The complaint alleges that the owners' acts of solidarity with the players [kneeling with them, or locking arms] after President Trump called those players who had knelt "sons of bitches" were no more than publicity stunts. It further charges that, because 70% of the players in the league are African-American and all of the owners are Caucasian, the blackballing of Kaepernick was done for the purpose of showing the futility of, and penalty for, challenging the NFL power structure. The complaint closes with the lament that Kaepernick has been saddened over learning of the "baleful machinations that underlie the professional administration of America's pastime."

Collusion is the gravamen of the complaint. The agreement's definition of collusion is here.

Question: Is it correct that, under the terms of the agrement, as few as two of the NFL clubs, or even one team and the league itself, can be found to have colluded, even if the other clubs knew not a thing about that collusion?

Colin Kaepernick

Yes.

Question: That seems odd.

That's not a question.

Question: What is the standard of proof and who bears the burden of proof?

That's TWO questions!

The standard of proof is set out in Section 5 of the agreement as a "clear preponderance of the evidence." What this means transcends my ken. Perhaps it is a hybrid of the two evidentiary standards used in state and federal civil cases: "clear and convincing evidence" and "a preponderance of the evidence." Or perhaps the drafter of the agreement was a poor writer who, like many of his ilk, used more words than necessary in order to appear smart. In any event, the parties should agree on the standard before kickoff of the proceedings.

The burden of proof is on the complainant, Mr. Kaepernik. This is set out in the same section.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft speaks with President Trump behind him.

Question: What governs the evidence in the case?

Didn't you read Section 5? It's right there: the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Question: Aren't the Federal Rules of Evidence copyrighted?

No. Works made by the federal government are automatically in the public domain.

Question: This sounds like an exciting hearing. Can I attend?

Sorry! No. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 15, Section 10 specifies that proceedings before the Arbitrator are confidential.

Question: Why was the complaint filed now?

Section 17 of Article 17 operates somewhat like a statute of limitations. In Kaepernick's situation, that is 90 days from the day he knew or should have known that the league had colluded. The penalty for its violation is dismissal of the complaint.

In any event – and regardless of who knew what when – the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 15, Section 2 (f) provides a three-year limitation on all claims of collusion.

Note: Every now and then you'll come across a laughably-silly provision like this. Consider, in practical application, how the NFL would have to affirmatively invoke this section. The league would have to prove that it had in fact colluded and provide evidence of this collusion about which Kaepernick knew or should have known, and that that knowledge was gleaned more than 90 days before the filing of the complaint. Thus, on proof that there was in fact collusion, the claim would be dismissed on the technicality.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with President Trump.

The provision does put in place a whoopy-cushion for claimants. If collusion is alleged, and a claim is filed more than 90 days after knowledge of evidence of the alleged collusion, the claim will be whistled dead and the lawyer who filed it would no doubt face a malpractice claim.

Question: Several teams whose starting quarterbacks have been injured have signed replacements with skills obviously inferior to Colin Kaepernick's. Isn't this proof in itself that the league is colluding?

One would think. But one would be wrong. Section 6 specifically states that proof of this and nothing more, as well as proof of this and that the teams did not contact Kaepernick before signing the inferior players, does not constitute collusion.

Question: Shouldn't Kaepernick or his people and the NFL or their people have discussed this before lighting the fuse?

Yes — it's a requirement. Section 18 mandates a conference between the parties before the institution of any official proceeding.

Texans owner Bob McNair

Question: What will Kaepernick receive if the System Arbitrator rules in his favor?

Section 9 provides for the player to be awarded "compensatory damages," defined maddeningly and only as "the amount by which any player has been injured as a result of" the collusion. There is no principled guidance in the Article on how to determine these damages.

Question: Most of the recent articles in major sports publications indicate that Kaepernick, should he prevail, will receive either two or three times his compensatory damages. You state he will receive only the amount of his compensatory damages. Who is correct?

I am.

Question: I see the the Article also authorizes the award of "non-compensatory damages." That'll make Kap happy, won't it?

Yes, but not richer. Non-compensatory damages, presumably similar to punitive damages in civil cases, are awarded in progressively higher amounts based on a formula that takes into account previous instances of collusion by teams and the league. But Section 11 mandates that these damages be paid into the NFL player pension fund or other fund selected by the NFLPA.

Commissioner Roger Goodell

Question: Who will pay an award made by the Arbitrator?

A colluding club if it colluded with the NFL, the colluding clubs that colluded with one another and/or the NFL, and, if it colluded with a club or clubs, the NFL itself. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 15, Section 9 prohibits the Administrator from assessing any monetary award against an individual club owner, a club officer, or a non-player employee of a club.

Question: Is there a limit on the amount of compensatory damages the Arbitrator may award?

Yes. Section 13 states the no award to a player can be in an amount that would place the colluding team above the salary cap for the League Year.

Question: Things are heating up! We hear rumors that Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair have been asked to turn over emails and cell-phone records, and to submit to deposition by Kaepernick's legal team. As this proceeding is no more than a private corporate exercise, without state or federal government authority, why don't these three simply tell Colin to Go Fish?

The Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 15, Section 3 lays out discovery procedure to be followed in Collective Bargaining Agreement claims, and to which owners are signatories as representatives of their teams. Thus bound, they must comply with discovery requests if the Arbitrator finds those requests to be reasonable.

Note: Nothing precludes owners from invoking something similar to what has come to be called the Brady Exception – I accidentally beat my cell phone with a hammer into pieces that would fit through a straw – so, sorry, it's unavailable.

Question: We also hear rumors that the CEO of Papa John's Pizza and the as-yet-unimpeached president of the United States Donald Trump have been manipulated into making public statements that would further certain parties' interest in insuring that Kaepernick is not signed by an NFL team. Is there any truth to these rumors?

We don't even have an opinion on this worth sharing, and dread to hear the fiddling over the trivia as the pizza war continues to escalate and the country continues to sink.

Question: Who's footing the bill for this circus?

Article 15, Section 4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that the cost of the proceedng, including the fee of the System Arbitrator, be shared equally by the NFL and the NFLPA. The league and the player pay for their own lawyers. As league revenue is derived in its entirety, either directly or indirectly, from its fans, the answer is — we are.


collective bargaining agreement

AUGUST 4, 2011



ARTICLE 17

ANTI-COLLUSION


Section 1. Prohibited Conduct:

(a) No Club, its employees or agents shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club, its employees or agents to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making as follows:

(i) whether to negotiate or not to negotiate with any player;

(ii) whether to submit or not to submit an Offer Sheet to any Restricted Free Agent;

(iii) whether to offer or not to offer a Player Contract to any player;

(iv) whether to exercise or not to exercise a Right of First Refusal; or

(v) concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a Player Contract.

(b) Any approval or disapproval of a player’s contract by the Commissioner, or any communication thereof, timely notice of which is provided to the NFLPA cannot be the basis of any claim of collusion. The NFLPA or the affected Player shall have the right to appeal the Commissioner’s disapproval of such player contract to the System Arbitrator, pursuant to Article 15 and Article 14.

Section 2. Other Club Conduct: No Club may have a policy not to negotiate with, or enter into a Player Contract with, any player who is free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club, on any of the following grounds, if such policy is inconsistent with Section 1 above:

(a) that the player has previously been subject to the exclusive negotiating rights obtained by another Club in a College Draft, by virtue of a Required Tender to a player with less than three Accrued Seasons, or a Franchise Player designation; or

(b) that the player has refused or failed to enter into a Player Contract for a prior season containing a Right of First Refusal or an option clause (i.e., any clause that authorizes an extension or renewal by a Club of a Player Contract beyond its stated term);

(c) that the player has become a Restricted Free Agent or an Unrestricted Free Agent; or

(d) that the player is or has been subject to any Right of First Refusal.

Section 3. Club Discretion: Section 2 above does not diminish any Club’s right not to negotiate or contract with any particular player on any policy ground not specified above. In conjunction with other evidence of an alleged violation(s) of Section 1, a Club’s adherence to a policy identified in Section 2 above may be offered as evidence of an alleged violation of Section 1 above, but may not be the basis of any separate proceeding seeking any penalty or other relief against any Club or the NFL.

Section 4. League Disclosures: Neither the NFL nor the Management Council shall knowingly communicate or disclose, directly or indirectly, to any NFL Club that another NFL Club has negotiated with or is negotiating with any Restricted Free Agent, unless and until an Offer Sheet for such Restricted Free Agent has been given to the Prior Club, or with any Unrestricted Free Agent, prior to the execution of a Player Contract with that Unrestricted Free Agent, if such communication or disclosure is inconsistent with Section 1 above. It shall not be a violation of this Article for the NFL to respond to an inquiry from a Club about whether and under what circumstances proposed transactions would be permissible under this Agreement or NFL Rules consistent with this Agreement. In conjunction with other evidence of an alleged violation of Section 1 above, a Club’s communication or disclosure of the kind identified in the first sentence of this Section may be offered as evidence of an alleged violation(s) of Section 1 above, but may not be the basis of any separate proceeding seeking any penalty or other relief against any Club or the NFL.

Section 5. Enforcement of Anti-Collusion Provisions: Except as provided in Section 16(d) below, any player or the NFLPA, acting on that player’s or any number of players’ behalf, may bring an action before the System Arbitrator alleging a violation of Section 1 of this Article. In any such proceeding, the Federal Rules of Evidence shall apply. Issues of relief and liability shall be determined in the same proceeding (including the amount of damages, pursuant to Section 9 below, if any). The complaining party shall bear the burden of demonstrating by a clear preponderance of the evidence that (1) the challenged conduct was or is in violation of Section 1 of this Article and (2) caused any economic injury to such player(s).

Section 6. Burden of Proof: The failure by a Club or Clubs to negotiate, to submit Offer Sheets, or to sign contracts with Restricted Free Agents or Transition Players, or to negotiate, make offers, or sign contracts for the playing services of such players or Unrestricted Free Agents, shall not, by itself or in combination only with evidence about the playing skills of the player(s) not receiving any such offer or contract, satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 1 above. However, any of the types of evidence described in the preceding sentence may support a finding of a violation of Section 1 of this Article, but only in combination with other evidence which, by itself or in combination with such evidence, indicates that the challenged conduct was in violation of Section 1 of this Article. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFL or its Clubs from arguing that any evidence is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above. Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the NFLPA or any player from arguing that any evidence is sufficient to satisfy the burden of proof set forth in Section 5 above, except as set forth above.

Section 7. Summary Judgment: The System Arbitrator may, at any time following the conclusion of the permitted discovery, determine whether or not the complainant’s evidence is sufficient to raise a genuine issue of material fact capable of satisfying the standards imposed by Sections 5 and/or 6 above. If the System Arbitrator determines that complainant’s evidence is not so sufficient, he shall dismiss the action.

Section 8. Remedies: In the event that an individual player or players or the NFLPA acting on his, or their, behalf, successfully proves a violation of Section 1 of this Article, the player or players injured shall have the right:

(a) To terminate his (or their) existing Player Contract(s) at his (or their) option, or void any Club’s Draft rights or other rights with respect to such player(s) at his (or their) option; any Player Contract terminated during the course of a playing season shall be terminated as of the end of that season. Such rights shall not arise until the recommendation of the System Arbitrator finding a violation is no longer subject to further appeal and must be exercised by the player within thirty (30) days therefrom. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been a Restricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 9, such player shall immediately become a Restricted Free Agent upon such termination. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been an Unrestricted Free Agent pursuant to Article 9, such player shall immediately become an Unrestricted Free Agent upon such termination. If, at the time the Player Contract is terminated, such player would have been subject to a Club’s exclusive negotiating rights, such player shall remain subject to such rights upon such termination. In any case described in the preceding three sentences, the player shall not be subject to any signing period. In the case of a Drafted Rookie who does not sign a Player Contract and who is given the option of voiding a Club’s Draft rights pursuant to this Subsection (a), such player shall then be treated as either:

(i) a Drafted Rookie subject to the NFL waiver system as described in Article 6, Section 4, if the termination takes place during the player’s first League Year; or

(ii) a Drafted Rookie subject to the rules of Article 6, Section 9, if the termination takes place during the player’s second League Year; or (iii) a Free Agent, if the termination takes place during the player’s third League Year or thereafter; and

(b) To recover all of his damages, as described in Section 9 below, for any alleged injuries suffered as a result of the violation.

Section 9. Computation of Damages: Upon any finding of a violation of Section 1 of this Article, compensatory damages (i.e., the amount by which any player has been injured as a result of such violation) shall be awarded. In addition, the System Arbitrator shall award non-compensatory damages (i.e., the amount exceeding compensatory damages) as follows:

(a) Two times the amount of compensatory damages, in the event that all of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of this Article, have committed such a violation for the first time. Any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages.

(b) Three times the amount of compensatory damages, in the event that any of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of the Article, have committed such a violation for the second time. In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to this Subsection: (i) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages; and (ii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the second time shall be jointly and severally liable for three times the amount of compensatory damages.

(c) Three times the amount of compensatory damages, plus, for each Club found to have violated Section 1 of this Article for at least the third time, a fine of $5,000,000 in the event that any of the Clubs found to have violated Section 1 of this Article have committed such violation for at least the third time. In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to this Subsection:

(i) any Club found to have committed such a violation for the first time shall be jointly and severally liable for two times the amount of compensatory damages;

(ii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for at least the second time shall be jointly and severally liable for three times the amount of compensatory damages; and

(iii) any Club found to have committed such a violation for at least the third time shall, in addition, pay a fine of $5,000,000.

(d) For each League Year after the 2011 League Year, each of the enumerated fines set forth in this Subsection (c) above shall be adjusted by the same percentage as the change in Projected AR for that League Year as compared to Projected AR for the prior League Year (up to a maximum of ten percent (10%) per League Year).

Section 10. Player Election: A proceeding prosecuting an alleged violation of Section 1 of this Article shall initially be limited to the issues of liability and damages sustained to the date of the System Arbitrator’s determination. In the event the System Arbitrator finds a violation, the player shall make a determination within thirty (30) days of the date the System Arbitrator’s determination is final, or within thirty (30) days after the last game of the season for such player (including any playoff games) if the finding is made during the course of the season, whether the player intends to void the applicable Player Contract or Draft right. If the player voids the applicable Player Contract or Draft right, the player may commence a supplemental proceeding before the System Arbitrator, for the purpose of determining his future damages, if any, only after the player has signed a new Player Contract or after the first scheduled game of the next regular season, whichever is earlier. If the player elects not to void the applicable Player Contract or Draft right, he may immediately commence a supplemental proceeding before the System Arbitrator for the purpose of determining his future damages, if any.

Section 11. Payment of Damages: In the event damages are awarded pursuant to Section 9 above, the amount of compensatory damages shall be paid to the injured player or players. The amount of non-compensatory damages, including any fines, shall be paid directly to any NFL player pension fund, any other NFL player benefit fund, or any charitable fund for the benefit of present or former NFL players, as selected by the NFLPA, subject to the reasonable approval of the NFL.

Section 12. Effect on Cap Computations: In the event that damages are awarded pursuant to Section 9 above, the amount of non-compensatory damages, including any fines, will not be included in any of the computations described in Article 12 or 13 above. The amount of compensatory damages awarded will be included in such computations.

Section 13. Effect of Salary Cap: In awarding any amount of damages, the System Arbitrator shall take into account that in any League Year no Club would have been authorized to pay out any Salary in excess of that permitted under the Salary Cap.

Section 14. No Reimbursement: Any damages awarded pursuant to Section 9 above must be paid by the individual Clubs found liable and those Clubs may not be reimbursed or indemnified by any other Club or the NFL.

Section 15. Costs: In any action brought for an alleged violation of Section 1 of this Article, the System Arbitrator shall order the payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs by any party found to have brought such an action or to have asserted a defense to such an action without any reasonable basis for asserting such a claim or defense. Otherwise, each party shall pay his or its own attorneys’ fees and costs.

Section 16. Termination: The NFLPA shall have the right to terminate this Agreement, under the following circumstances:

(a) Where there has been a finding or findings of one or more instances of a violation of Section 1 of this Article with respect to any one NFL season which, either individually or in total, involved five or more Clubs and caused injury to 20 or more players; or

(b) Where there has been a finding or findings of one or more instances of a violation of Section 1 of this Article with respect to any two consecutive NFL seasons which, either individually or in total, involved seven or more Clubs and caused injury to 28 or more players. For purposes of this Subsection 16(b), a player found to have been injured by a violation of Section 1 of this Article in each of two consecutive seasons shall be counted as an additional player injured by such a violation for each such NFL season; or

(c) Where, in a proceeding brought by the NFLPA, it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that 14 or more Clubs have engaged in a violation or violations of Section 1 of this Article causing injury to one or more NFL players.

(d) In order to terminate this Agreement:

(i) The proceeding must be brought by the NFLPA;

(ii) The NFL and the System Arbitrator must be informed at the outset of any such proceeding that the NFLPA is proceeding under this Section for the purpose of establishing its entitlement to terminate this Agreement; and

(iii) The System Arbitrator must find that the Clubs engaged in willful collusion with the intent of restraining competition among teams for players.

Section 17. Time Limits: Any action under Section 1 of this Article must be brought within ninety (90) days of the time when the player knows or reasonably should have known with the exercise of due diligence that he had a claim, or within ninety (90) days of the first scheduled regular season game in the season in which a violation of Section 1 of this Article is claimed, whichever is later. Any party alleged to have violated Section 1 of this Article shall have the right, prior to any proceedings on the merits, to make an initial motion to dismiss any complaint that does not comply with the timeliness requirements of this section.

Section 18. Prior Conference: Prior to the initiation of any proceeding under this Article by the NFLPA, the parties shall confer in person or by telephone to attempt to negotiate a resolution of the dispute.

This contribution to #DMD was provided by George McDowell, our resident in-house attorney, off-site computer wizard and one-time competitive amateur golfer who once weaseled six shots from Drew at Mount Pleasant and then proceeded to shoot 73.

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"show me the money" gets back on track


All we needed was a little help from the expert-super-insider on Sunday and "Show Me The Money" is back on its high horse with a 3-1-1 day yesterday.

If that goofy kicker from Miami makes an extra point, we're 4-1 on the day.

The expert-super-insider correctly hit on the Redskins, Colts and Rams, while losing the Bengals (+6.0) and pushing on the Raiders at Dolphins (+3.0).

That's puts us 19-25-1 through nine weeks of the season.

We're making up ground quickly.

And the expert-super-insider has earned another crack at it next Sunday.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 9


Sunday — November 5, 2017
Volume XXXX — Issue 5

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

1:00 PM EDT

Nissan Stadium
Nashville, Tennessee

Spread: Titans -3.5


as always, flacco key to ravens chances today in nashville


Assuming Joe Flacco starts today in Nashville, his performance will play a large factor in the outcome of the game against the Titans.

What else is new, right?

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco returns today just ten days after being knocked out of the game by Miami's Kiko Alonso.

Flacco might be a middle-of-the-pack quarterback these days, but he still gives the Ravens their best chance to win. And the Titans, a pre-season sexy pick in the AFC South, have been just as hot and cold as Baltimore in compiling their 4-3 mark to date.

It's a game that will likely be won or lost on the back of the Baltimore quarterback, who hasn't really had a game this season where he out and out beat the other team's defense.

Today would be a good time for Flacco to earn that merit badge.

The Titans aren't likely going to factor in the wild card race in the AFC. They'll either win the AFC South at 9-7 or they'll miss the post-season. But this is the kind of game that could be a determining factor in the tiebreaker formula if, somehow, both Baltimore and Tennessee finish tied for a playoff spot.

As we profiled yesterday here at #DMD, this game is critical to the Ravens' hopes of finishing at 10-6 this season. They already have four wins and home games against Indy, Detroit and Houston should give them three more. Then there's the automatic win in Cleveland in December. That's eight wins.

In order to find two more victories and get to 10-6, the Ravens need a victory at Tennessee, at Green Bay, at Pittsburgh or home against the Bengals.

This is a big game today.

It should feel more like September than November as game time temps are expected in to be in the high 70's.

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keys to today's game


For the Ravens

Gotta go with Collins and Buck -- The Ravens rank 5th in the NFL in the rushing category, while the Titans are 9th in rushing defense. But that shouldn't stop Baltimore from trying to run the ball today. Alex Collins and Buck Allen need to get 30 carries between them today, which should net the Ravens somewhere around 130 yards on the ground. Marty Mornhinweg has a propensity for giving up on the run early if things don't percolate right away. Let's hope he doesn't do that today.

Keep Joe upright -- There's no telling how Flacco's head really is going into today's game. Is he still feeling the impact of that Thursday night hit from Kiko Alonso? And what happens today if the Titans get to him early? The offensive line is under some heat today. They MUST keep Flacco upright and clean.

No big plays allowed on defense -- What has hurt the Ravens the most in their four losses? Big plays against the Baltimore defense. In the Miami win, they didn't allow any. In the Chicago loss, they permitted a 53 yard scamper in overtime that set up the Bears' game winning field goal. For the Ravens to keep the Titans in check today, the defense needs to stiffen up and not surrender the big plays that lead to prime field position and easy scores.


For the Titans

Stop the Baltimore running attack -- Conventional wisdom says Flacco and the Ravens passing game are NOT beating the Titans today. So with that in mind, the Titans need to do their best to stymie Baltimore's running attack. In particular, they need to work hard at sealing off the edges and keep Alex Collins from getting outside of them.

Pick on Webb and Jefferson -- If the Titans get the chance to isolate Webb and Jefferson in pass coverage situations, they should attack those two with great enthusiam. Throwing against the Ravens is pretty easy: Stay away from Jimmy Smith. Throw at everyone else, particularly Jefferson.

Trick plays and fake punts -- The Ravens are always susceptible to a trick play or two. And, as we saw in September in London, the fake punt can work against John Harbaugh's team. If I'm Tennessee, I definitely throw a few trick plays into the play-calling bag and see if I can pull one or two of them off.


how drew sees today's game


I have no idea which Ravens team is showing up in Nashville this afternoon.

I don't think the Ravens know, either.

I suspect we're going to see the mediocre Ravens, though. Why? Well, they played well the last time out against Miami. It stands to reason that a .500 team would then stink it up in their next outing.

Tennessee doesn't look all that imposing, but their defense is pretty decent. If Mariota doesn't get rattled by a pressing Baltimore defense, he should acquit himself well this afternoon.

I'll call this one a Titans win, 27-20.

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show me the money

One of the great benefits of the four-day "Nashville Cup" was running into an "expert-super-insider" who is keen on a handful of NFL games this weekend.

"I'll take you to the promised land," he said. "Who are you going to trust? Me, driving my expensive car and living in my $1.2 million home in Nashville, or that guy "Wizard" on your website who can't pick winners at Laurel Park?"

I'm going with the "expert-super-insider" this week and hope he gets "Show Me The Money" back on track.

If not, I'm sending him an invoice.

And here are his picks for week #9 in the NFL.

COLTS AT TEXANS (-7.0) -- My "expert-super-insider" says this a game the Colts are winning. "A lot of distractions in Houston, not only with the quarterback situation, but their owner and crazy players." We're taking Indy to cover and win outright, 20-17.

RAMS (-4.5) AT GIANTS -- With eight starters out, the Giants are easy pickings here, says my insider. We're going with the Rams to win outright, 30-20.

REDSKINS AT SEATTLE (-7.5) -- This one is going to be tight, and the Redskins are going to show well, the insider believes. Cold weather and rain are in the forecast. The Redskins cover the 7.5 points but lose 24-23 to the Seahawks.

RAIDERS (-3.0) AT DOLPHINS -- The insider says "this is strictly a number's play. Whenever a team loses by 30 or more on the road they come back the next game and cover at home 82% of the time." So, we're going with the Dolphins here plus the three points, and the insider even sees a Miami win outright, 29-24.

BENGALS AT JAGUARS (-6.0) -- This is a field goal game either way, says the insider. With that, it's an easy selection, as we're going with the Bengals and the six points here in a 24-21 Jaguars victory.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We're taking the Bengals getting six points in Jacksonville as today's Best Bet. "You can call the built-in-pool guy and tell him to come by for an estimate on Monday. This one is a lock," says the expert-super-insider.


SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 16-24

LAST WEEK: 2-3

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 4-4


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mulreaney, o'brien win nashville cup


The team of Bob Mulreaney and Bart O'Brien from Eagle's Nest Country Club shot a final round 65 to defeat Drew Forrester and Dale Williams and win the Nashville Cup at the Hermitage resort on Saturday.

Mulreaney and O'Brien join Tom Fitzgerald and Joe Ciletti as champions after the latter pair won the inaugural event in Phoenix back in 2015.

Jim and Bob Roche defeated Vic Biscoe and Dean Johnson to claim 3rd place in the event.

In the championship match, O'Brien (11 handicap) made one natural birdie (for eagle) and two other net birdies, while Mulreaney (3 handicap) had two natural birdies and two net birdies for the winners.

Forrester (1 handicap) and Williams (5 handicap) shot a final round 68 with one team bogey, but were never ahead in the 18-hole championship match.

Jim Roche shot the lowest individual net round of the event with a 67 (73-6) on Friday morning, while Forrester/Williams posted the lowest single round team score with a 63 on Friday afternoon.



Saturday
November 4
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issue 4
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a win in nashville and ravens are on the move again


As I settled in to watch some of this past Thursday night's NFL game between the Jets and the Bills, I said to a few guys in the room, "You can take that Bills logo off the helmet and put a Ravens logo on it, or a Texans logo, or a Raiders logo. These teams all look the same. One game they're good, the next game they stink."

Some would say that makes teams of that ilk "good" and that it then comes down to one big play, a key penalty, or some other fortunate occurrence.

I don't agree with that.

The return of a healthy Joe Flacco on Sunday vs. the Titans would go a long way in improving the Ravens chances for victory.

I think there's one really good team right now: New England.

I think there's one team playing really well right now who might also be "really good": Philadelphia.

I think the Steelers, Chiefs and Seahawks are pretty good teams.

After those five teams, it's basically scrap heap stuff. The Vikings, for instance, are 6-2 right now. But they're not doing anything in the post-season without a legit quarterback.

And nearly all of those scrap-heap teams are one key injury away from being a bad team. Look no further than Green Bay to support that statement. The Packers were a Super Bowl contender until Aaron Rodgers got hurt. Now, they won't finish .500 with some other guy behind center.

All of that "scrap heap" talk bodes well for the Ravens, though.

At 4-4, the Ravens can look ahead at their schedule and -- even though coaches never do this -- play the "win that one, lose that one" game and see how they end up.

After this Sunday, the Ravens still have these teams on their slate: At home, it's Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Away, they visit Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Green Bay and the Titans, tomorrow.

They're beating Detroit, Houston and Indianapolis in Baltimore. I think we'd all agree anything less than 3-0 in those games would be a shocker. That's 7-4. They're beating Cleveland in Cleveland. That's 8-4.

That leaves four games. The Bengals home game and road contests at Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Nashville.

Let's play along and say they lose to the Steelers. That's 8-5. They now need to go 2-1 in those other three games to get to 10-6.

See what I did there?

The Ravens are headed to the playoffs, friends.

OK, well it might not be that easy, admittedly.

But the numbers work in Baltimore's favor if they just win the games they're supposed to and take advantage of a QB injury in Green Bay and beat a so-so Titans team tomorrow in Nashville.

Don't get me wrong, I don't see the Ravens being any sort of threat to blow through the AFC playoff race and make it to the Super Bowl. But I do think they have the goods to make a run at the playoffs, simply because about 10 other teams have the same opportunity in the AFC right now.

When you only play 16 regular season games, they're all ultra-critical. And this one in Nashville tomorrow becomes very important given the remaining schedule and the chase for at least ten wins.

The problem? We have no idea which Ravens team is going to show up. Do we see the team we saw get trounced in London or do we see the team that blistered the Dolphins at home ten days ago?

No one knows...

But we do know this: Beating the Titans is crucial for the Ravens and their playoff hopes.

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it's championship saturday at the nashville cup!


We had a tired bunch of golfers on Friday down in Nashville.

Thirty-six holes of golf, followed by an awesome group dinner at our cottages at The Hermitage resort -- plus a little bit of wine -- had everyone heading to bed early and resting up for the playoff matches in our "Nashville Cup" golf outing.

Bart O'Brien (left) and Bob Mulreaney (right) are in the finals of today's Nashville Cup thanks in part to Mulreaney's near hole-in-one on Friday afternoon at the President's Reserve course in Nashville.

Sixteen of us are in Nashville for four days of golf, fellowship and the Ravens game on Sunday. It started with one 18-hole match on Thursday and continued with two more matches on Friday. A few teams finished up in the dark. But everyone had a blast.

Highlights from Friday's play included Bob Mulreaney leaving a ball embedded in the lip on a par-3 that would have been a hole-in-one had the ball simply dropped out of its pitch mark and into the hole. Yes, he made the half-inch putt for birdie.

For the second day in a row, Jerry Garland made 2-for-net-1 on the par-3 7th hole at the President's Reserve course.

Drew Forrester and Dale Williams posted the low round of the event (so far) with a 9-under par 63 on President's Reserve. Mulreaney and his partner, Bart O'Brien, had 64 on the General's Retreat course in Friday morning's round.

The battle for playoff positioning came down to a tiebreaker actually, as Mulreaney-O'Brien finished tied with the team of Jim and Bob Roche. Both finished with 6 points in the match-play format. But Mulreaney-O'Brien won the playoff by virtue of their low round of 64.

Here are the seedings for today's playoff matches, plus results from yesterday and current standings.


Playoff Pairings

10:06 am -- 4th place match: Hubbard/Kelly III vs. Garland/Tuttle

10:15 am -- 3rd place match: Smearman/Quick vs. Corbett/Vogel

10:24 am -- 2nd place match: Biscoe/Johnson vs. Roche/Roche

10:33 am -- 1st place match: Forrester/Williams vs. Mulreaney/O'Brien


Results, Day Two (morning matches):

Ravens Division

Roche/Roche defeated Tuttle/Garland (2 to 1)

Mulreaney/O'Brien defeated Smearman/Quick (2 to 1)

Titans Division

Forrester/Williams defeated Corbett/Vogel (2.5 to .5)

Biscoe/Johnson halved with Hubbard/Kelly III (1.5 to 1.5)


Results, Day Two (afternoon matches):

Ravens Division

Roche/Roche defeated Smearman/Quick (2.5 to .5)

Mulreaney/O'Brien defeated Tuttle/Garland (2.5 to 5)

Titans Division

Forrester/Williams defeated Biscoe/Johnson (2 to 1)

Corbett/Vogel defeated Hubbard/Kelly III (2.5 to .5)




Ravens Division
Golfers Points
Bob Mulreaney and Bart O'Brien 6
Bob Roche and Jim Roche 6
Nick Smearman and Mark Quick 3
Jerry Garland and Steve Tuttle 3



Titans Division
Golfers Points
Drew Forrester and Dale Williams
Vic Biscoe and Dean Johnson 5
Brian Corbett and Scott Vogel
Brian Hubbard and Frank Kelly III 3

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anyone up for a trip to the masters?


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Friday
November 3
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issue 3
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but you're telling us this isn't collusion?


In a weird kind of way, I'm now finding it funny that Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed in the NFL.

It's as obvious as it can be: He's not getting signed in the NFL, no matter what happens.

The Houston Texans lost their starting quarterback for the rest of the season yesterday and immediately brought in Matt McGloin to replace the injured DeShaun Watson.

Matt McGloin -- you remember him, right? I didn't think so.

Apparently the Texans couldn't get a hold of me late yesterday afternoon. So they went with McGloin instead.

I'm not criticizing the teams who continue to pass on Kaepernick. I wouldn't sign him. I've said that from the start of this whole thing. I wouldn't take him on my team.

But it's now pretty apparent that every other team in the league feels the same way as I do. No one wants Kaepernick.

The issue, though, is whether he's someday going to have a realistic chance of winning a collusion case the NFL. It's one thing if a bunch of teams independently determine they don't want Kaepernick. It's another story entirely if the quarterback and his agent can prove that the teams in the league agreed as a group to not employ him.

I can't imagine Kaepnerick can actually uncover any real, hard evidence that proves NFL teams have agreed amongst themselves to not sing him. The owners aren't that stupid, right?

I mean, a text like this would be VERY damning to the league: "Hey Steve, it's Bob Kraft here. Just checking in to make sure you know the decision we've made about the Kaeperick kid. No one in the league is going to sign him for the 2017 season. No matter the circumstances, no matter if your starting QB gets hurt -- no matter what, no one is going to sign him. Thanks. Bob."

I'd be stunned if Robert Kraft or any NFL owner would ever put that kind of message into an accessible forum like texting or e-mail.

I could definitely see a face-to-face conversation happening.

"You know Steve...we're all pretty adamant about Kaepernick sitting out this year. We hope you guys in Baltimore will stand with the rest of us on this issue. It's important."

That might have happened.

That would also be collusion, but nothing there would ever stand up in court. It's a conversation that never happened...if you know what I mean.

Alas, I don't think Kaepernick and his people will be able to find any kind of real "smoking gun", like a text, e-mail, etc. They'll have to build their case on statistics and data, essentially.

"And here, we have a quarterback who signed in Houston who had a quarterback rating of (XXX) which was 26.7 points lower than Mr. Kaepernick had in his most previous season of work."

There's probably meat there, but I don't that think evidence alone will win Colin Kaepernick a $250 million lawsuit -- or whatever he decides to sue the league for (and it's gonna be a lot).

He needs some real evidence.

Besides Houston signing Matt McGloin, that is.

I'd say of all the quarterback signings around the league over the last eight weeks that haven't passed the sniff test, the McGloin deal in Houston is the one with the foulest smell.

Kaepernick isnt considered a high-quality quarterback.

But Matt McGloin is a bum compared to Kaepernick.

Did you see Matt Moore in Baltimore last Thursday night when the Ravens squashed them 40-0?

Kaepernick's not better than that dude?

Heck, you might be better than Matt Moore.

I get it, though. NFL teams don't want the stress of having Kaepernick in their "family". I understand it completely. There's simply no way his production can outweigh the potential aggravation he'd bring along.

So they've all decided to pass on him whenver the opportunity exists. Or, at least, independently decided to pass on him.

I don't think there was any formal collusion by the owners. They're not that dumb. They have too much to lose.

And we're talking about Colin Kaepernick here. He's a "B" player, and that's being kind. Why would I risk the value of my franchise over a back-up to the back-up quarterback?

But it's all fair and reasonable to at least believe that the owners are happy amongst themselves on each occasion that someone just happens to pass on Kaepernick again.

I don't have any evidence to prove collusion. But if it's not collusion, now, then what is it?

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nashville cup underway


Our group of 16 had a full day at the Hermitage Golf Course yesterday, as we were able to complete all of our first-round matches and get in a late-afternoon silly-golf as well.

As you can see in the photo below and right, the Hermitage has some interesting scenery, not to mention lightning quick greens that tested everyone on day one.

There are 80 Scottish-black-faced-sheep on the course. They get released every morning at sunrise from a small fenced in area near the first tee of the President's Reserve course and are herded back to that area at sunset by two sheep-chasing dogs. They blend in nicely on the course, which is to say they're very obvious when they're standing 30 yards off the green and chomping on grass -- but never in your way.

The golf turned out to be solid on Monday.

Nick Smearman and Mark Quick had the low team round of the day at 3-under par 69. They halved their match with Steve Tuttle and Jerry Garland. Garland, in fact, made a birdie two for a net one on the 195 yard par-3 7th hole.

All four teams in the Ravens Division finished with 1.5 points on the day.

In the Titans Division, Vic Biscoe and Dean Johnson won their match 2.5 to .5, so they currently have the most points of any of the eight teams competing.

Our boys will be bright eyed and bushy tailed and on the first tee at 8:00 am Friday morning.

Friday's play features 36-holes, as we play the second and third rounds to set-up Saturday's playoff round.


Results, Day One:

Ravens Division

Tuttle/Garland halved with Smearman/Quick (1.5 to 1.5)
Roche/Roche halved with Mulreaney/O'Brien (1.5 to 1.5)


Titans Division

Forrester/Williams defeated Hubbard/Kelly III (2 to 1)
Biscoe/Johnson defeated Corbett/Vogel (2.5 to .5)



Ravens Division
Golfers Points
Steve Tuttle and Jerry Garland
Bob Roche and Jim Roche
Nick Smearman and Mark Quick
Bob Mulreaney and Bart O'Brien



Titans Division
Golfers Points
Vic Biscoe and Dean Johnson
Drew Forrester and Dale Williams 2
Brian Hubbard and Frank Kelly III 1
Brian Corbett and Scott Vogel .5

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


With the final international break of the calendar year pending, Matchday 11 of the English Premier League will kick off on Saturday morning but it’s the Sunday slate that could be full of fireworks, with four of the top five teams in the table set to go head to head. Be sure to tune in, with all of the action available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, November 4 (all times eastern)

1:30pm – Liverpool @ West Ham United – London Stadium, NBC

After falling to Tottenham the week before, Liverpool rebounded and finally broke through in the second half against Huddersfield Town, with Daniel Sturridge back in the starting eleven and back on the scoresheet with his goal shortly after halftime the first of three unanswered in a 3-0 victory. The Reds will travel to the London Stadium for a meeting with West Ham United, who looked well on their way to finally easing the pressure on manager Slaven Bilic until two second half goals from cellar dweller Crystal Palace erased a two-goal hole as the Hammers were forced to share the points in a 2-2 draw.

Given two games to save his job after a 3-0 home defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion back in Matchday 9, West Ham wasted a golden opportunity to do just that against Palace and will have one final chance to back the Croatian against Liverpool, who took all three points in this fixture last season but remains the only time in their last six meetings across all competitions they have walked away with points (L3 D2) and their only win in their last four trips to London (L3), which should be good news for Bilic as he looks set to sweat over what his future may be at the club during the almost two week layoff.

Sunday, November 5 (all times eastern)

9:15am – Arsenal @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After an up and down start to the campaign and their detractors at the ready to pounce, Arsenal quietly won for the fourth time in their last five league games when two goals within fifteen minutes of the second half kickoff was enough to overturn an early deficit in a 2-1 win over Swansea City. Their recent run will be put to the test in the first of two massive Sunday Showdowns when they visit the Etihad Stadium and Manchester City, who remained unbeaten in the league when they won for the eighth time in a row, more comfortably than the score line would suggest, 3-2 away at West Brom.

In a run stretching back to last season, the victory kept City unbeaten in their last thirteen across all competitions and, following their mid-week victory over Napoli in the Champions League which booked their place in the knockout stages, they stretched that streak to a remarkable twenty-two games. They have been virtually unstoppable this season but, despite Arsenal winning only one of their five on the road this season (L3 D1) and just one of their last six trips to the Etihad Stadium (W3 D2), City have managed three points in only one of their last nine with the Gunners across all competitions (D4 L4)

11:30am – Manchester United @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

Manchester United skipper Jose Mourinho returns to his old stomping grounds on Sunday when United faces Chelsea.

While they were far from their best and left more than a few chances on the table, Eden Hazard’s first top flight goal of the season only minutes in to the second half was just enough to get Chelsea past a pesky Bournemouth side 1-0. The defending champs will return home to welcome Manchester United and former manager Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge, with the Red Devils bouncing back from their first loss of the campaign to put some much-needed space between themselves and Tottenham in the table when Anthony Martial’s goal ten minutes from full time gave them a 1-0 victory over Spurs.

Mourinho and United got the better of his former side in the reverse fixture last season, which was the first time in their last twelve meetings across all competitions that the Red Devils had managed to walk away with maximum points against Chelsea, but they have dropped their last two trips and six of their last seven (D1) to Stamford Bridge, which should be a welcome sign for the floundering Blues who will be trying to shake off a dismal mid-week performance in a 3-0 Champions League setback at Roma and who can’t afford to fall further than the nine points they sit back of league leaders Manchester City.

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Thursday
November 2
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has football lost ground
to baseball this fall?


Now that was one spectacular World Series.

Even though last night's 5-1 Houston win was a tad anti-climatic, the series -- and the post-season as a whole -- served up sensational drama, a smidgen of tabloid content, and wonderful, human emotion.

For all the heat baseball sometimes gets for being "too boring", the Astros-Dodgers World Series showed the country a completely different side of the game.

Then, there's the NFL.

Papa John's owner John Schnatter said on Wednesday that the NFL player protests have drmatically cut into pizza sales.

Now at the season's halfway point, the league is seemingly mired in its first real slump since Roger Goodell took office in 2006. And "slump" might be a kind way of putting it. The NFL is winning at making news, but losing at making fans and sponsors happy.

For football, the baseball World Series probably came at the very worst time possible.

Just yesterday, in fact, with the country set to feast on a dramatic Game 7 in Los Angeles, the owner of Papa John's Pizza -- one of the league's most loyal sponsors and spenders -- claimed that their sales are down across the country in part, he says, because of the NFL's on-going protest issues with players, owners and "leadership".

"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," Papa Johns founder John Schnatter said on a conference call with investors Wednesday. "The NFL has hurt Papa John's shareholders."

"This (protest conflict) should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter said. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country."

Papa John's has pulled some of its planned commercials from NFL games this season. Schnatter said the NFL has promised to give the pizza company future spots in return.

This is the kind of blow people around the country were waiting for, the trickle-down effect, if you will, where the protests and drama created on the field eventually wind up damaging the league and the owners off the field.

Papa John's is and has been one of the league's most loyal corporate partners since 2010, sinking upwards of $20 million a year into team marketing and television advertising on the various networks that broadcast NFL football.

When a big player like Papa John's rings the bell and they're not happy, things start to get serious.

This, of course, isn't something the players consider every Sunday when they're taking a knee during the national anthem. The business end of things doesn't faze them -- yet.

But it will when the next collective bargaining agreement gets negotiated in two more years.

If TV ratings continue to sink and less corporate money flows into the league's coffers via both outright marketing dollars and TV advertising revenue, the owners are most certainly going to seek to re-work their deal with the players.

It seems reasonable to think Roger Goodell won't be around for those negotiations. His seat is getting warmer by the day and there are rumors flying around that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the ringleader of a group of owners who are at least "exploring" the idea of parting ways with Goodell.

There are two owners in the league you always want on your side; Jones, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. While Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is the head of the committee that's putting together the bells and whistles of Goodell's new contract, Jones, behind the scenes, has far more power to make things happen than does Blank and his committee.

The Papa John's story from Wednesday could be a huge blow to Goodell's tenure.

But first, the owners have to figure out a way to get the players to stop creating strife every Sunday.

And that, we know, is easier said than done.

Here locally, the Ravens are concerned about what's going on both at the league level and within their own community.

After the kneeling incident in London, for instance, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti personally called the team's major corporate sponsors and asked them to attend the October 1st game against the Steelers so he could "stop by and have a chat", which is code-word for: Please come to the game, use the tickets, and I'll come by and explain our team's position on this whole mess."

Since then, the club has surveyed their season ticket holders, via both e-mail and personal telephone calls, with team President Dick Cass reaching out to some folks personally to gauge their feelings and future ticket-buying intentions.

When the owner and the team President start personally calling people, it shows they're seriously concerned about the collateral damage being caused by the on-going player-protest issues.

And now, a $20 million client -- who also likely spends another $400,000 or so with individual teams in the league, including the Ravens -- has come out and claimed the league's protest saga has damaged their business.

Whether that's true or not, the perception is there. Papa John's is selling less pizzas these days. A lot less, in fact, across the country. And their biggest marketing influence, the football enthusiast, is watching less football. And seeing less of their advertising message.

Meanwhile, baseball just concluded its most powerful post-season in a long, long time.

The major "players" in the league all made the post-season; Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers. The Astros-Yankees series went to seven games with Houston winning the last two in dramatic fashion. The World Series then went seven games as well.

Other than Yuli Gurriel-Yu Darvish incident in Game 3, the entire post-season went off without any country-dividing issues or stories.

The baseball was great, the players were alive and enthusiastic, and the folks who love the game couldn't stop watching it throughout the month of October.

It was probably the NFL's worst nightmare, particularly now.

While they're battling a huge image problem in football, baseball is experiencing a different feeling completely.

The NFL is on notice.

Less pizza sales isn't the only thing they need to be worried about these days.

But it's a significant story because it confirms what most of us already knew: The country is tired of player protests and kneeling and they've proved that with their attendance at the game, eyeballs on TV sets and now, with their stomachs.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

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


It’s been a while since I read Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, the story of the early 2000s Oakland Athletics, their GM Billy Beane and the analytics revolution in baseball, but I remember one thing clearly.

For Beane and Paul DePodesta, his deputy, the manager of the ballclub was pretty much useless. At least that’s what Lewis gleaned from his research, anyway.

Art Howe? Ken Macha? A Martian who’d never seen a baseball game? Who cares? The decisions were better made by the front office, even down to simple choices made during a game.

The 2011 movie based on the book was widely praised; even the notoriously miserable Beane seemed to like it. Meanwhile, Howe couldn’t stand it, ripping his portrayal so frequently that Beane felt the need to respond publicly to remind him that it was, you know, a Hollywood movie, poetic license and all.

Given his managerial blunder in the 2016 Wild Card game, it's a good thing Buck works in Baltimore and not Washington D.C., Boston or New York.

I get it, though. If I was a 6-foot-2 former pro athlete and saw myself portrayed as an intransigent fool by the rumpled Philip Seymour Hoffman (may he rest in peace), I’d be annoyed too. I mean…Beane got to have Brad Pitt play him!

Almost a generation later, as the World Series comes to a close, we’ve gone a step further with managers. Nowadays, it seems like there’s no amount of success that can keep a manager around if it’s been decided he’s been around long enough.

The manager’s record is, obviously, no judge of whether or not he should be retained.

Joe Girardi’s 10 Yankee teams averaged 91 wins per season. Dusty Baker’s Nationals won 192 games the last two years. John Farrell’s Red Sox won the World Series, then recovered from two subpar seasons to win the AL East in 2016 and 2017.

Gone. Gone. And gone.

Meanwhile, Buck Showalter’s Orioles couldn’t sustain a good start into the dog days of summer, then fell on their faces in September the minute they got back into the race.

And that came the year after he made one of the most inexplicable managerial decisions I’ve ever seen, leaving a pitcher having one of the best seasons ever by a reliever in the bullpen during an elimination game.

He's still around.

I’m not suggesting that Girardi, Baker and/or Farrell ought to have been retained, or that Buck ought to be let go. It’s just that…I can’t figure out the reasons why managers get hired and fired. They seem to be the same sometimes.

Are we now admitting that the manager really does matter? Now that analytics has become the status quo, do we now care about all the stuff that Beane supposedly laughed about back then?

Girardi, they say, was a little too standoffish in his (lack of) relationships with players. At 53, he was too old, all of the sudden, to relate to all those young stars, even though he’s 15 years younger than Baker. He was a great manager, just not the right manager for the Yankees right now.

That sounds a lot like the old reasons to fire a manager, in the belief that a guy who can better deal with personalities in the clubhouse can make a difference between a good season and a championship.

At his age, Baker was never going to be a long-term solution for the Nationals. He was hired to do what Davey Johnson and Matt Williams couldn’t do—get the team past the Division Series—and he couldn’t do it either.

That sure sounds like another old reason to fire a manager. We don’t care about the regular season, or the fact that a five-game series is hardly a good barometer on which to make a decision. We’re sending you packing.

And the same can be said for Farrell, who had the misfortune of running into the Indians in 2016 and the Astros this season. He also had problems, apparently, with “optics,” from the way he answered questions in press conferences to the way he handled the situation with Manny Machado in April.

The GM of the Red Sox, Dave Dombrowski, said that he “wasn’t going to share facts” about the reasons for Farrell’s firing. So I guess we’ll never know.

In general, I agree with the premise that the field manager, especially in the American League in 2017, isn’t as important as he’d like us to believe.

They pick who plays each day, and that’s not that hard to do. There were more home runs hit in the Major Leagues this year than ever before; the days when the manager made tens of decisions every game about steals and bunts and hit-and-runs are long gone.

Even the pitching decisions are somewhat out of their hands, in the sense that just about every team uses the bullpen in the same way, giving guys certain roles in certain innings. That’s why Showalter didn’t go to Zach Britton in Toronto, right? You don’t bring in your closer in a tie game on the road.

No matter how you feel about it, that’s the modern game, and every manager from Girardi to Showalter to Maddon to Scioscia plays it a similar way.

With so little strategic difference between managers, what other way is there to determine their value besides their team’s win-loss record?

Billy Beane famously said that “his sh** doesn’t work in the playoffs.” So how can any team really depend on the result of one series to make a managerial decision? Only one team can win the World Series, and it probably won’t happen because it has a better manager than the other team.

The Yankees last won the World Series in Girardi’s second season, eight years ago. The team around him changed immensely after that, from one with a veteran core to one with a young core, and won 91 games this year. Yet the team, for some reason, wanted him gone.

I think any manager could have led the Nats, a team with big-time star power in the lineup and on the mound in a bad NL East, to division titles the last two years. But if Baker wanted to continue, it makes little sense to tell him no.

As for Farrell, his last two teams did about as well as they should have; they weren’t juggernaut 100-game winning teams, but they were good enough. I’d say “only in Boston,” but that’s not true anymore.

The Red Sox have hired Alex Cora, the Nats Dave Martinez, and the Yankees are still searching. All of those teams will say they’ve hired the right guy. But none of those new managers will have any idea of exactly what they’ll need to accomplish to keep their jobs.

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the "nashville cup" gets underway today


A group of 16 of us from Charm City have converged on the city of Nashville for four days of fun, friendship, golf and -- if we're motivated enough to go -- Ravens football on Sunday.

We're playing the "Nashville Cup" over the next three days at a wonderful place called The Hermitage, with on-location cottages for our group of guys and two golf courses just waiting to be played Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The event is set up like a traditional "member guest". We have eight, two-man teams. There's the "Ravens Division" and the "Titans Division", each with four teams. Each team then plays the other in their division once, and we have a playoff on Saturday to determine the eventual champion and other finishers.

There's some friendly wagering to make it interesting, of course, but for the most part, we're down here for fellowship and fun with a lot of golf mixed in.

We'll keep you updated on the proceedings over the next few days.

Here are the teams:

Ravens Division
Golfers Won Lost
Steve Tuttle and Jerry Garland
Bob Roche and Jim Roche
Nick Smearman and Mark Quick
Bob Mulreaney and Bart O'Brien



Titans Division
Golfers Won Lost
Drew Forrester and Dale Williams
Vic Biscoe and Dean Johnson
Brian Corbett and Scott Vogel
Brian Hubbard and Frank Kelly III
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anyone up for a trip to the masters?


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com




Wednesday
November 1
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ravens "believe in what we have", shun trade deadline deals


The NFL trade deadline came and went yesterday and the Ravens stood their ground.

They're not in the greatest shape, cap wise, so making any kind of deal for a quality player would have likely led to some hurried contract re-structuring with a veteran or two. Seattle did that on Monday when they acquired Duane Brown from the Texans -- Russell Wilson was the guy who re-worked his contract to make it all fit.

But saying, "just get a veteran to re-work his deal" and that actually happening are two different things. That's not to say the Ravens couldn't have done that. It's just not as easy as snapping your fingers and making it happen, that's all.

In the end, though, the Ravens weren't under immense internal pressure to add anyone at the deadline.

The Ravens lost Danny Woodhead to a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the season opener at Cincinnati. He's set to return on November 19 at Green Bay.

"We believe in what we have," a team official said to me on Tuesday. And that was that. "We believe in what we have."

I assume part of "what we have" includes Danny Woodhead, who is set to return to the team from the injured list on November 19 in Green Bay. So, in a weird kind of way, the Ravens ARE adding a quality, proven NFL player at the season's midway point. He just happens to be a guy already on their roster who has played all of 11 minutes so far this season.

"What we have" must mean they're fairly confident that Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin are both going to be healthy going forward. I have no idea if the Ravens had legit interest in now-Buffalo-Bills wide receiver Kevin Benjamin, but he might have been a nice addition to the Baltimore pass catching arsenal if the club could have made a deal happen with the Panthers and -- more importantly -- figured out a way to work Benjamin into the team's ever-tight salary cap.

Alas, they're going with Maclin, Wallace and, we assume, Breshad Perriman, who returned from concussion protocol last Thursday against the Dolphins but was zero factor in the game.

"We believe in what we have" might also mean the team is set on running the ball a bit more in the season's second half, what with Alex Collins and Buck Allen having nice "runs" of late, and with Terrance West expected back after the bye.

And, naturally, the Ravens believe in their quarterback, particularly now that it appears Joe Flacco avoided any kind of serious damage after that Kiko Alonso hit last Thursday night. Flacco will likely play this Sunday in Nashville. All's well with the quarterback situation -- at least that's what the Ravens feel, I suppose.

I saw a lot of griping on social media yesterday, particularly once the Benjamin deal was announced.

I get it. People would like to see activity. Buffalo, for instance, was very active at the deadline. They shipped a defensive tackle to Jacksonville, picked up a decent wide receiver, and apparently helped themselves for the future, too.

But they're the Bills. When was the last time they were good? Wasn't Reagan the President?

The 49'ers got a quarterback from the Patriots who is completely unproven in the league. He could turn out to be Aaron Rodgers (sat a few years, blossomed when he got his chance) or Mike Glennon (stinks).

The Dolphins shipped a disgruntled, uninterested running back to the Eagles. Philadelphia might have helped themselves by acquiring Jay Ajayi from Miami. Or he might not stick. There are no guarantees there, obviously.

In other words, none of the deadline deals are etched-in-stone game changers for the teams who acquired talent. They look good, on paper, but the proof will be in the on-field performance(s).

I just don't see anyone out there who was moved that could have been a significant addition in Baltimore, particuarly given the team's salary cap constraints.

If you forced me to choose one player that the Ravens "let get away", I guess I'd go with Kelvin Benjamin. But if he's so out-of-this-world great, why would Carolina swap him for some ace bandages and a few round trip Southwest Airlines tickets? The Panthers are in the playoff hunt and they just gave away a quality receiver. So, there's that...

And again, for the last time, the Ravens are in a salary cap pinch. They can't just make deals. They have to "construct them" -- involving their own roster plus the newly acquired player -- and there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

So where does that leave John Harbaugh's team now that the 2017 roster is "firm", other than additions and subtractions from the free agent market if needed?

The Ravens are, in my opinion, just another team in the AFC. Are they better than Cincinnati, Buffalo, Houston or Oakland? I'm not sure. On any given Sunday, they are. But in the long run, over the last eight games, will they be better than those four across the board? I don't think so.

Could they have helped themselves at the deadline? Maybe so. But you can't dance with yourself. You have to bring someone out to the floor with you, and if the Ravens didn't have any willing trade partners, it's hard to fault them for not being busy yesterday.

And I will buy in on this note: If Woodhead can stay healthy (big "if" there) and Maclin and Wallace can finish out the season healthy (two big "ifs" there), the Baltimore offense might start to percolate in the final eight weeks. That's assuming, of course, that none of the other valuable starters get hurt in the meantime.

"We believe in what we have" is a headstrong approach on merit alone, but it's a salary cap league and you just can't make moves for the sake of making them. So, it makes sense to stick with what you have if you're the Ravens.

That's apparently all they can do at this point, anyway.

Let's hope "what we have" is the right recipe for success over the next two months.

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an epic world series ends tonight


This year's World Series has had everything.

Great finishes, big innings, superb pitching, power surges -- whatever your baseball appetite prefers, you've knawed on it over the last ten days.

The Dodgers forced Game 7 last night with a 3-1 win that was the complete opposite of the Game 5 slugfest in Houston. With temperatures in the 60's at first pitch, the conditions were ripe for a pitcher's duel. And that's what we saw.

Yu Darvish gets the ball tonight in Game 7 for the Dodgers as they go for their first World Series title since 1988 against the Astros.

Justin Verlander and Rich Hill were both solid in their starts and then the game rested with the two bullpens. And unlike Game 5, when the pitchers couldn't get anyone out, the hitters were left shaking their heads on Tuesday evening.

Baseball is a fun game like that, I suppose. 25 runs on Sunday night. Just four runs on Tuesday night.

The sidebar to tonight's series finale has Yu Darvish getting the start for the Dodgers. Little did they know back in late July when they acquired Darvish from the Rangers that he'd be starting Game 7 of the World Series at home against the Astros.

And, of course, there's the media-created story from earlier in the series when Houston's Yuli Gurriel made a gesture at the expense of Darvish that earned Gurriel a 5-game suspension at the start of next season. Gurriel was booed loudly last night by the L.A. fans and starting pitcher Rich Hill even stepped off the mound in Gurriel's first plate appearance to allow the home faithful to ramp up the volume and show their discontent.

It would be cool tonight if Gurriel somehow makes a "gesture" of friendship, respect, apology etc. to Darvish when he comes to the plate the first time. The media and Major League Baseball made more out of the Game 3 incident than did Darvish in the aftermath, but it would still be the right thing to do for Gurriel to do something tonight that shows contrition.

There are times when the arduous nature of baseball leaves the high quality teams without anything left in the tank and the World Series winds up involving a club or two who don't offer the same level of play as other post-season competitors.

That has not happened in 2017.

These are the top two teams in the majors, without question.

The baseball gods have smiled brightly on the game this October (November, now).

You watch the games thinking if this series was upgraded to a best-of-13, someone would wind up winning 7-games-to-6.

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anyone up for a trip to the masters?


They say it's the toughest ticket in sports, but if you travel with #DMD, you can make the trip to Augusta next April 2nd and check out a Masters practice round.

Our 2018 Masters trip is now on sale, with just 24 seats available for this one-day journey to the greatest golf course -- and tournament -- in America.

It's a long day. But it's a great day, for sure.

And it's an expensive one, too. But we go out of our way to make it as affordable as we can with a 3-payment plan that includes just one deposit now and the remainder of the money due in February and March.

If you're a golf enthusiast and you've never been to the Masters, I can only say this to you: Augusta National is a MUST-DO event on your bucket list. Even if you just go once, you simply MUST attend that golf tournament.

This will be my 7th year taking people from Baltimore to Augusta National for a Masters practice. It's become my own rite of passage every spring. I love guiding folks around the course, sharing stories and seeing everyone enjoy a stroll on the greatest golf course in our country.

We leave from BWI at 6:00 am on Monday, April 2nd. We'll fly to Charlotte and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Augusta, arriving right around 9:00 am or so.

You'll spend all day on the grounds at Augusta National. We provide all of our travelers with a full-day Masters practice round ticket.

#DMD even provides lunch for you!

And we'll roll out of Augusta and head back to Charlotte around 5:30 pm, departing for BWI at 10:00 pm.

You'll be back at work on Tuesday morning. A little weary...but filled with great memories of the Masters and Augusta National.

You can find complete information and pricing details here.

I hope you can join us for a great day of golf on Monday, April 2nd!

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to email me: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

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breakfast bytes

NHL: Chiasson's two goals lead Caps to 5-3 win in Boston.

NBA: LeBron, Cavs win first showdown with Lakers and Ball, 121-112, as James records 59th career triple-double.

NFL: Broncos outlast Colts in Indy, 25-13, in Thursday Night snoozer.

MLB: Twins sign veteran closer Fernando Rodney to 1-year deal.