Thursday
November 30
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issue 30
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are you folks blind?


Back in the "old days" when I was on the radio, I almost never listened to other sports radio in town for the simple reason that I didn't really want to know what the other guys (or gals) were saying about a certain subject.

I didn't want my opinions on sports to either mesh or collide with their opinions -- but it was inevitable they would at some point. And I didn't really want to know who in town agreed with me that "Baltimore" should be on the Orioles road jersey or who disagreed with me when I said Rex Ryan would not be a good selection for the Ravens when they had their head coach opening in January of 2008.

So, I just didn't listen all that much to any of the competition. Not because I didn't like them or thought they didn't do a good job. I just didn't want to know what they were saying or thinking.

These days, I still don't listen much, but I do occasionally flip on the FM station in town to hear not only what the on-air folks think, but what the fans around town think as well.

The Springsteen channel on my satellite radio gets a lot more attention from me than does sports talk, that's for sure.

But yesterday, I listened. Not for long. But plenty long enough to hear the host(s) and several callers talk about the empty seats on Monday night when the Texans were in town.

Like a fool, I shouted at the radio while I was sitting on the beltway: "Have you dummies being paying attention this season? I mean, REALLY paying attention?"

I'm stunned at how many people either don't "get it", don't understand it, or, perhaps, just call in to hear themselves talk on the air.

The kneel-down in London by Ravens players still lingers with fans in Baltimore. Are they not going to games because of it?

And these show hosts are turning into saints in many ways. One of my character flaws when I was on the air is that I didn't tolerate dumb calls very well. I had a bad habit of saying "You have no idea what you're talking about..." Blame it on Charley Eckman, who drove the point home -- "Call 'em like you see 'em" -- during the eight years we traveled together with the Blast in the 1980's.

The hosts I heard yesterday were far more tolerant than I ever was, that's for sure.

But then, I was left to wonder: "Do the hosts "get it" or are they also not really paying attention?"

There are multiple issues with the Ravens these days as it relates to attendance at home games.

They're pretty simple to break down.

People aren't buying tickets anymore.

People are buying tickets and then not showing up.

People are buying tickets, showing up, and then leaving early.

All three of those factors have been in play in the 2017 season. All three were in play -- big time -- on Monday night.

Are people really that naive?

The Ravens actually placed advertisements in the Baltimore Sun late last week and over the weekend to try and sell tickets for Monday's game with Houston.

That's the dirty little secret that no one's talking about. The game on Monday night was NOT sold out in advance. There were roughly 500 tickets available for purchase, a problem that simply didn't exist last season.

I have no idea if they sold them all by Monday night or not. But that's most certainly a concern for the Ravens as an organization. They had a home game, on a Monday night, with the team playing well enough (insert your own joke here) to be a playoff contender -- and the game was NOT sold out in advance.

The more critical issue, though, revolves around how many people decided not to go to the game and why.

Let's first zero in on this fact to give the situation some balance: There have been no-shows at every game this season, including the home opener against the Browns. There are empty seats at every game in the league. But the last three home games in Baltimore (Chicago, Miami and Houston) have had very obvious pockets of no-shows. Thousands of people avoided each of those games.

The question, of course, is "why?"

That's what the local radio talking heads were asking yesterday.

Are they not paying attention?

Here's the roll call of reasons why people aren't going.

The city is deemed unsafe by anyone who has a brain. Watch the news. Read the newspaper. Surf the internet. Baltimore is unsafe. And dangerous.

Oh, and here's the real worry: You don't have to be in a shady area of town to run into trouble. It can find you at Pratt and Charles Street. Or on Light Street in Federal Hill. And people -- those paying attention, anyway -- are realizing that more and more these days.

In a survey the Orioles commissioned back in the early part of last summer after their first-quarter home attendance was woefully off, "Downtown safety concerns" was the number one reason people cited for not attending a home game in the early part of 2017.

Nothing's changed now. It's worse, even.

The team isn't very exciting. That's reason number two why people are reluctant to head downtown on a Monday night at the end of November.

Why go down there for an 8:30 game, start yawning by the five minute mark of the second quarter, get five hours sleep, and feel like garbage Tuesday morning?

If the Ravens made your pulse pump, you'd weather that storm. But you're in your car at 7:30 on the JFX making a right on Fayette Street and you know, for the most part, you're going to be bored to tears with Joe Flacco and the offense.

And as much as the defense continues to carry the team, the real truth is we'd all MUCH prefer to see a 37-31 game than a 17-13 game. Defensive football stinks. In my opinion.

Why go down there and be bored when you can sit at home and be bored? And get to bed 60-90 minutes earlier?

There's also no disputing that the player protests have disenfranchised a lot of ticket holders. I don't know how many, but the number is very real. In my own little world, which is relatively small, I know of a dozen'ish people who own tickets and haven't gone since the kneel-down episode in London. You probably know some as well. Scour your Facebook page and you'll find some there, I bet.

I have no idea how the numbers break down from the 13,000 who no-showed on Monday night, but the three factors above represent, I'd say, 90% of them.

A dangerous downtown setting.

The team (and the product itself) is completely unexciting, particularly to the ardent supporter who has attended a large number of home games over the years.

Player protests have left folks disgruntled.

I was equally shocked to see folks on social media wondering why there were so many empty seats in the 4th quarter on Monday night. With eight minutes left in the game, the stadium was literally half-empty. There were essentially 35,000 live bodies sitting there watching a game that the Ravens led 20-13.

But there's nothing shocking about that.

It was 10:45 pm by that point.

Yes, the Ravens were only up by a touchdown, but the second half was about as exciting as opening up your BGE bill.

I think people just gave up.

And when you know you're not getting home until 11:30 or 12 midnight and you have to be up the next morning at 6:30 or 7:30, every extra thirty minutes of sleep matters.

Would that sort of mass exodus have occurred back in 2010 or 2012? Maybe not. But the times have changed. These are new days. Different days. And we can leave the stadium and stream the game right there on our phones as we walk back to our vehicle. Oh, and then we can watch the game in our car while we drive up the JFX.

The NFL thought they were hot stuff when they signed all of those live streaming deals with the likes of Verizon, Yahoo, Twitter and the rest. Yep, they might have made some money. But they also made it easy for people to leave the stadium with 10 minutes left in the game and not miss a second of the action. Now who's the dummy?

I'm shocked we don't hear our local radio talking heads bring these things up ad infinitum when the calls come in from fans saying, "Why were people leaving early on Monday night?"

They left early because they were freakin' bored.

And they can watch the game on their smart phones while they hurry back to their car to beat traffic and get home at a decent hour.

These are not problems city-specific to Baltimore, either, but much of what's affecting the Ravens as far as attendance goes are more about "Baltimore" than the fans themselves.

That offense, though...

That's an issue only the Ravens can fix.

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PIGEON of the MONTH CLUB


George and I thought this would be fun. Since he's much closer to being an official degenerate gambler than am I, it made sense for George to put together the betting lines and prop bets and then we had at it. I'll have him update it as the days go by this week/weekend and we'll follow Tiger and have a little for-entertainment-purposes only wagering fun here at #DMD.


THE HERO WORLD CHALLENGE
NOV. 30 to DEC. 3, 2017


Proposition Over/Yes
line
Under/No
line
Drew
wager
George
wager
Leader
lead
Will Tiger withdraw from the Hero
before it starts? NO
Yes
+250
No
-250
No
500
No
250
Drew
100
Will Tiger hit his first fairway? YES Yes
-150
No
+150
Yes
150
No
300
Drew
500
How many birdies and eagles will
Tiger make in the first round? OVER
Over 2½
-100
Under 2½
-100
Over
400
Over
200
Drew
700
How many bogeys or worse will
Tiger make in the first round? UNDER
Over 3½
-100
Under 3½
-100
Under
100
Over
200
Drew
1,000
Tiger's first round score? UNDER Over 72½
-100
Under 72½
-100
Under
100
Over
200
Drew
1,300
Tiger's lowest round score? UNDER Over 69½
-100
Under 69½
-100
Under
200
Under
200
Drew
1,300
Tiger's highest hole score? Over 6½
-100
Under 6½
-100
Over
300
Over
300
Drew
1,300
Tiger's highest round score? Over 75½
-100
Under 75½
-100
Under
100
Over
200
Will Tiger finish Top-Seven? Yes
+400
No
-400
No
100
Yes
300
Will Tiger withdraw during the Hero? Yes
+250
No
-250
No
250
No
250
Will Tiger finish last
of those who complete the tournament?
Yes
+400
No
-400
No
300
No
100


Odds to Win Hero Challenge
Justin Thomas 9-2 Patrick Reed 20-1
Dustin Johnson 5-1 Francesco Molinari 25-1
Jordan Spieth 5-1 Matt Kuchar 25-1
Hideki Matsuyama 8-1 Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Justin Rose 8-1 Alexander Noren 28-1
Rickie Fowler 8-1 Kevin Kisner 28-1
Henrik Stenson 10-1 Kevin Chappell 30-1
Brooks Koepka 12-1 Charlie Hoffman 33-1
Daniel Berger 17-1 Tiger Woods 50-1


Additional Tiger proposition bets
Tiger has a bogey-free round in any round. 5-2
Tiger has a hole-in-one in any round. 150-1
Tiger to have seven or more birdies and eagles in any round. Even money
Tiger finishes in top five. 8-1
Tiger finishes in top ten. 5-2
Tiger shoots or ties lowest score in any round. 10-1
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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.


a few story ideas that don’t have a middle or an end


Big Game Sunday for the Ravens --

There are still four games left for the Ravens after this Sunday’s matchup at M&T Bank Stadium against the Detroit Lions, another 6-5 team fighting for a Wild Card spot in its conference.

With the extension he received in August, there are two seasons left on John Harbaugh’s contract after this one. With the three-year extension he signed in March 2016, Joe Flacco is under contract with the Ravens through the 2021 season.

A full quarter of the season will remain by sunset on Sunday. The head coach isn’t really in the “Top 10” when it comes to potential coaching changes by year’s end. The quarterback isn’t good, but he’s the guy for the near future.

And yet…

When it comes to the future of the franchise, this might be the most important game the Ravens have played in years.

The Ravens will be able to beat the Colts, Browns and probably even the Bengals with the same kind of performance they had Monday against Houston. They’ll be an underdog in Pittsburgh like usual, only more so.

But Sunday brings Matthew Stafford, one of five quarterbacks in the NFL to have already thrown for 3,000 yards, not to mention 21 touchdowns (with only six interceptions). The Lions are a high-scoring bunch, fifth in the league. Detroit isn’t great, but they’re good.

It’s also the type of game the Ravens used to win at home. If they can’t win Sunday, it certainly will hurt their playoff chances. But it’ll be worse than that. It will say loud and clear that the Ravens, as currently molded, can’t beat a good team at full strength.

And if that’s the case, why go forward with that team—particularly its coach and its quarterback—in the future?

When will the quality of his recruiting classes match the quality of the teams Mark Turgeon produces at Maryland?

Big Game Tomorrow for the Terps --

Mark Turgeon, now in his seventh year at Maryland, recruits terrific players.

In his first class, he found Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell and Jake Layman, not to mention his catch of Dez Wells. When much of that class left for other programs, Turgeon and staff signed Melo Trimble, the player most responsible for turning Maryland into an NCAA tournament team again.

When Diamond Stone joined the team in 2015, along with transfers Robert Carter and Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland had as talented a group as it had in many years. Kevin Huerter might have a better Maryland career than any of Turgeon’s recruits so far. Bruno Fernando has lottery-pick type skills.

And yet…

Since his third season, with players that were mostly his, it feels like the quality of Turgeon’s players has always been better than the quality of his teams, especially by the end of the season.

This year, with the B1G tournament a week earlier than usual, “late in the season” comes early. Maryland hosts Purdue on Friday, and it’s a statement game for Turgeon’s team. The Terps lost two winnable games in a 72-hour span in the past week, and this win would do much to make up for that.

It’s difficult to criticize Turgeon’s results since Maryland joined the B1G in 2014. The Terps are 38-16 in conference games, as is Purdue. Wisconsin, with 40 wins, is the only team better.

It’s also difficult to criticize three straight NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance, with seeds at Nos. 4, 5 and 6. Those are numbers Maryland fans remember from the program’s 11 straight NCAA bids starting in 1994.

Under Gary Williams, those teams often overachieved, in large part because Williams is one of the best game coaches I’ve ever seen. Turgeon’s teams, especially the 2015-16 bunch, have done the opposite. I’m not ready to blame that on the head coach, who’s been successful at every program he’s led. But there are statements that his team must make this season.

Big Games This Weekend All Over the Place --

We’re a pro sports area, with pro sports fans, as the aforementioned Gary Williams always reminded us. We all know that the local FBS college football team isn’t so great, even if it didn’t have to play most of the season with a fourth-string quarterback.

And yet…

This weekend in college football? It’s gonna be awesome.

Last week’s results left Clemson, Auburn, Oklahoma and Wisconsin as the new “Top 4” in the College Football Playoff standings. All of them play in conference championship games on Saturday, and all of them could easily lose.

And then what?

Clemson lost to Syracuse, which finished 4-8 and lost its last three games to Wake Forest, Louisville and Boston College by a combined margin of 162-67. With a loss to Miami in the ACC championship game on Saturday, can that earlier loss be forgiven?

Auburn’s lost twice already, though one of them was to Clemson. Despite great wins over Georgia and Alabama in November, a loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday would be fatal.

Oklahoma lost at home to 7-5 Iowa State. Another loss to team outside the Top 10 of the CFP standings, TCU, wouldn’t look good.

Wisconsin is undefeated, but Ohio State is favored by a touchdown in the B1G championship game.

Alabama is Alabama, but the season for Nick Saban’s team is over, unlike the other seven teams in the top 8. A Georgia and/or Miami win on Saturday might pop either or both of them into the playoff, or maybe not. Does Ohio State really have a shot to jump Alabama after losing to Iowa by 31 points?

For good measure, I’ve seen Penn State play a few times, and they’re just as good as any of the eight teams ranked above them.

I suppose an eight-team playoff would be better, and I hope that happens eventually. In that case, a team like Penn State would have a real chance, and Alabama would be a deserving playoff team too. For right now, though? This sure is a lot of fun, even for those of us who don’t have a team to root for.

One-Liners --

Joe Flacco was a baseball player as a kid; that’s where he learned to “pop-up” slide. I bet he never considered a surgically-repaired knee and a bulky brace back then.

Who is underperforming his contract the most? Flacco or Chris Davis? I’d go with Davis. 162 games are way more murderous to watch than 16.

My friend Manish Mehta covers the Jets for the New York Daily News. He had a good one yesterday: “locker room chaos…season over before Thanksgiving…Geno Smith…Dear God…the Giants have become the Jets!”

Maryland lost 70-7 to Penn State in 1993, then 66-3 last Saturday in the Lions’ first trip to College Park since that year. Time to get on the horn to the Ravens to see if M&T Bank Stadium is available for future home games in the series…

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

Wednesday
November 29
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issue 29
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is this time different?


I need to get all of the qualifying statements out of the way first. In some ways, I do it to protect myself from the disappointment should it come around. Otherwise, I do it because I want to be on the record that I'm hoping against hope. Again.

Tiger Woods returns to golf tomorrow.

I'm a skeptic.

I want to believe, but it's hard to cave in and do it.

We've seen too many other failed efforts.

I've written it here dozens of times over the last few years. And on the surface, still, I feel the same way: I don't see how Tiger's health can hold up long enough for him to put in the hours of work that are required to get his game to the razor-sharp level that's required to compete and win on the PGA Tour.

But dreamer's dream for a reason. Sometimes they actually do come true.

Tiger's swing during practice rounds in the Bahamas this week has golf writers and media members like Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel saying it's the first time in a decade where Woods looks like "the Tiger of old".

And in this dream, Tiger returns, at 42, and somehow his body undergoes a transformation that restores his golfing abilities AND sensibilities to those he had circa 2010.

Tiger comes back again. Only this time, he actually does come back. All the way back. To the winner's circle.

I want to believe it can happen, but I'm filled with doubt.

But others around him are delightfully proclaiming that the Tiger we're about to see at the Hero World Challenge is much closer to the Tiger of old than anything we've seen before.

If that's true, it begs the question: What's different this time?

For the first time since 2013, Woods is apparently pain-free. And he's not pain-free as of a week ago. He's been feeling better since mid-summer, he says.

In the past, by his own admission, the stubborn champion would return too early. Doctors would tell him "you'll be out six months" and Woods would get back in four months, just to say he did it.

That formula repeated itself several times. The longer Woods was supposed to be away from the game, the more hell-bent he was on getting back sooner.

Always wanting to win, was Woods. But that kind of bad decision making was part of the reason why his body continued to rebel against him.

On this occasion, though, the doctors won. They told Woods he'd miss all of the remaining 2017 golf season last April when he underwent his fourth back surgery. And, for once, Tiger listened.

So now, we're hearing Woods say he feels better than his felt since 2013. No more back pain. No more sleep issues. He appears to be a new man.

And here's the other thing. Put whatever amount of faith you want in this: Others who do know -- or at least are in a better position to know -- are saying this time is different.

Rickie Fowler.

Dustin Johnson.

Brad Faxon.

Patrick Reed.

Four guys who know golf. Four guys who have won, made lots of money, and know precisely what the body needs to do in the golf swing. All four have wildly endorsed Tiger over the last two weeks as he started preparing for his "unofficial-official" return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

This isn't Tiger saying Tiger's back.

Those four, when asked, all went in full-throttle on Tiger, his swing, his health and, here's the most important part of it all -- his spirit.

From afar, watching like the rest of the great unwashed on the internet and television, that's perhaps the most telling aspect of Tiger's return to the public eye.

I see something much different in his spirit this time around.

I understand golf. You can have the best spirit in the world, but if you can't hit the ball in the middle of the clubface for four days, you can't win. But there's something about Tiger now that tells me he's in on a secret that he's trying his best to keep hidden as long as he can.

And here it is.

I think Tiger knows this time is different.

I think he knows -- and can feel -- that he's healthy again.

He'd rather spring that on everyone sometime in 2018 when the golf results really matter, but at this point, there's no way around it. The cat's out of the bag.

Others have seen him play. And they're sensing a revival is in the offing.

And while I don't think any of them are so anti-Tiger that they wish him ill-will, I think they're all smart enough to know if somehow, by the grace of God or whatever being you believe in, Tiger returns to anything close to his old form, all of their direct deposit totals will diminish a bit in 2018.

For as sensational as the current crop of outstanding PGA Tour players are, the truth is this: None of them are in any way, shape or form capable of doing what Woods did on the golf course from 1997 through 2013.

Spieth? Great player.

D.J.? Great player.

Justin Thomas? Great player.

Rickie Fowler? Great player.

None of those four could hold a candle to Woods when he was at his zenith.

It's like comparing Justin Verlander to Greg Maddux. One is an outstanding pitcher. The other was an all-world, Hall of Famer.

Woods -- at his peak -- was more all-world than Spieth, DJ, Thomas and Fowler put together.

Tiger won 46 times in his 20's. Nicklaus won 30 times in his 20's.

Spieth, DJ, Thomas and Fowler have 30 wins among them in their 20's (DJ is now 33.)

Tiger had 46 in his 20's. Those four have 30 -- combined. Granted, three of those four will win more tournaments while still in their 20's. But I think you get the point.

Those four guys are piano movers. Tiger was Elton John.

But that was then. This is now.

What Tiger did "back then" is a historical fact, but likely doesn't have much to do with what he does in 2018. Except for one thing: Returning to full health and competing again will buoy Tiger's spirit in a way that only he can truly understand.

Let's be clear right now that none of this is a build-up for what might transpire -- or not -- this week in the Bahamas. If Woods somehow wins the event, it doesn't guarantee him anything in 2018. If he finishes in last place, 2018 is still going to be there waiting to mastered.

What we're going to see this week is akin to basing the quality of your entree on the crackers that are served with your chicken and wild rice soup. This is a golf tournament by definition only. It's more like a golf "get together" where some guy is going to win $750,000 because he stays engaged longer than the other guys.

But that doesn't mean we can't take what we see from Tiger and use it to calculate how far along he is on this -- second, third, fourth? -- comeback effort of his.

As I watch him now, in press conferences and the like, there's a look about Woods that's totally different than anything else we've seen over the last three years.

In the past, he looked like Tiger Woods but didn't act like Tiger Woods. He was there in mind and body, but not in spirit.

This latest version appears to be the complete package of the Tiger we all once saw dominate the game and suffocate a generation of golfers who couldn't beat him.

He's gone through a lot. Nearly all of it was of his own doing. But beyond it all, the one thing he needed was health. Whether that was mental health, physical health or both, he needed to "get well" again.

Bad back? Check.

Addiction? Check.

Personal crisis? Check.

A lot of folks couldn't rebound from one of those, let alone all three.

Not many great athletes have ever come back from a serious back injury, let alone multiple back surgeries.

There are countless stories of world-class athletes who let drugs and/or alcohol beat them.

A bad night or bad decision has ended many a career. Just ask Ray Rice.

Tiger's personal problems are well-documented. I'm a forgiver. I don't hold a grudge against him -- or anyone else, for that matter -- for his personal shortcomings. Woods has to deal with them and face the consequences of his actions nearly every single day.

But, I'm not only a forgiver, I'm a dreamer, too.

I want Woods to regain his health and play good golf again.

I'm still not convinced he can get back to that level, but I'm pulling like heck for him.

I want him to be tied for the lead with Spieth on the final day of the Masters next April. And may the best golfer that day win.

I think he senses he's going to get there again. He doesn't want to say it. Predicting his return to championship form would only put more pressure on him.

But my sense is Woods knows he's healthy. It's one thing to "hope" you can get healthy again. It's another thing entirely to play golf and wake up the next day and feel no resistance in your body or aches and pains that resonate with your brain and tell you "you can't get back there again".

I sense that Tiger now knows he can do it again. He wakes up now and he doesn't hurt. That's what he's saying, anyway. And he hasn't felt that way in a long time.

The sport of golf gets a lot better tomorrow.

Here's hoping this time really is different.

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ascensions and comebacks

Drew asks for my two-cents on Tiger's comeback this week. I'll try to give you his money's worth.

Two sporting events top all others in my 68-year bank of memories: Secretariat's staggering 31-length win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes and Muhammed Ali's 8th-round knockout of George Foreman in 1974 in Zaire.

The Orioles' near total shutdown of the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series is a joyful memory, as are the Birds' Series wins in 1970 and '83. The Colts' NFL Championships in '58 and '59 were exciting for a little kid, and more memorable than the 1970 Super Bowl win. The Baltimore Bullets had some great runs, and Unseld, Gus Johnson, and Earl Monroe were thrilling to watch, but they never rang the triple cherries. [And BTW, why are there no players today even approaching the electrifying skills of The Pearl on a fast break?]

Secretariat, with wins in race-record times in both the Derby and Preakness, went off in the Belmont against four horses – including the second-fastest horse of all time, Sham – as the 1-10 favorite. Everyone knew he was going to win. No one knew by how much. Race announcer Chic Anderson's call raised goose bumps back then, and does again every time I hear a replay:

They’re on the turn, and Secretariat is blazing along! The first three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 and four-fifths. Secretariat is widening now! He is moving like a TREMENDOUS machine!

The moving picture of a lone horse on the far turn flashing by an American flag waving in the breeze as an unbelieving Anderson described the massacre is burned into my mind. And, impossibly and gloriously, it got better:

Secretariat by twelve, Secretariat by fourteen lengths on the turn! Sham is dropping back . . . .  Secretariat is all alone! He’s out there almost a sixteenth of a mile away from the rest of the horses!

Everyone knew that Foreman was going to beat Ali. Some hoped he wouldn't kill him. The unbeaten Foreman, who had recently savaged Ken Norton and had beaten Joe Frazier senseless, also looked like Superman. When Ali started the fight with a straight right hand to Foreman's head – an insult when delivered by one boxer to another; an unthinkable act when fighting the Heavyweight Champion of the World – Foreman became enraged. Precisely how Ali had planned that he would.

Much is made of the fact that Ali invented and used the Rope-a-Dope in the fight, enticing Foreman to punch himself out and all the while whispering in his ear, "Is that all you've got, Big Fella?"

I've never asked a real boxer about this, but it's my opinion that it wasn't entirely the Rope-a-Dope that brought George down. The right-hand leads to his head, not knockout blows and more like stiff jabs, delivered and reinforced the message – four, five, six times a round – that Ali was the far superior boxer. When the lesson inevitably sunk in, near the end of the eighth round, Ali penetrated the defenses of a tired and demoralized Foreman and ended the fight, not surprisingly with a right-left-right combination.

Of the two – the race and the fight – I find the fight the more emotionally moving. I think that is because it was the culmination of Muhammed Ali's quest to regain the Heavyweight Championship of the World, the title that was stripped from him seven long years before, when he refused to be drafted. He had regained his place on the mountaintop, but only after spending his prime in idleness or clawing for the right to a shot at the title.

Secretariat's win in the Belmont, making him the first Triple Crown winner since Citation in 1948, 25 years before, was an ascension. It was that first clear point that no one could deny that Secretariat was one of the all-time great horses. For Ali, his victory in the Rumble in the Jungle was a comeback – he had been at the pinnacle before, and had regained it.

Tiger hasn't won a tournament in four years, and hasn't captured a major championship in more than nine years. But between 1995 and 2013 in professional golf, and in the six years before that in amateur golf, Tiger had been The Man.

A Tiger comeback in 2018 would electrify the sports world in a way similar to Ali's win 43 years ago. The stage is set. In this week's silly-season event in the Bahamas, Tiger returns to competitive play after invasive back-surgery and a layoff on the PGA Tour dating to January, 2017 when he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. Last year in the Hero World Challenge, he finished third from last after shooting 76 in the final round.

I have to comment here contrasting the media environments of 1974 and 2017. I watched a few Tiger "media opportunities" in the last few days. The strictly enforced and generic structure of these staged events demonstrates that the general public is now considered to be nothing more than mere consumers; that participating correspondents have been reduced to no more than bit players in rigidly scripted charades; and the golfers themselves are no more than mindless robots parroting words put together by their handlers in order to boost their "brands" to increase advertising value.

Consider this reconstructed-from-memory exchange in Muhammed Ali's press conference convened immediately after he de-planed in Zaire in 1974:

Ali: What country do y'all dislike most?"

Anonymous interlocutor: We hate the Belgians with a purple passion. They savagely colonized our land and held us in servitude for a hundred years.

Ali: Well, what a coincidence that is. You know, George Foreman is a Belgian.

Not a bad grasp of psychology for a man who flunked the Army's IQ Test. That sort of thing won't happen again in our micro-managed society – real controversy is anathema to orderly commerce, and cannot be tolerated – and we are the poorer for it.

Bookmakers have installed Woods as the last choice in the Hero World Challenge, making him 50-1. These odds reflect the betting public's collective opinion.

Drew asks for my opinion on where Tiger will finish. I simply don't have an opinion, and have no expertise on the point to share with #DMD readers.

I'm hoping that Tiger doesn't crash and burn as he has in the last few comebacks he has attempted. The majors since mid-2008 have been mildly interesting to watch, but without Tiger in the mix, haven't presented battles that are in any way memorable.

I hope to see Tiger hit the shots that will make the 2018 major championships worth watching, as was the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.

Major sporting contests should raise goose bumps.

This commentary was provided to #DMD by our friend George McDowell, who once delayed two enthusiastic out of towners who showed up at the Mount Pleasant starter's shack "looking for a game" just long enough for a couple of regulars to get there and beat them out of $100. The hallmark of a good starter at your local public golf course!

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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.



wednesday morning quarterback


There's "winning ugly," and then there's what the Ravens did in Monday Night's 23-16 victory over the Houston Texans.

It's tempting to say that all that matters is that they won, and that they're still in the driver's seat for the sixth seed in the AFC Playoffs, but even Pollyanna thinks that's being too optimistic.

The Texans are a bad team playing out the season without their starting quarterback or the best defensive player in football. They've been getting torched by every offense they play of late, and their head coach is a punchline.

And for all of that, the game was still very much in doubt on the Texans' last possession of the game and the Ravens' offense did a whole lot of nothing, bringing out the boo birds in an otherwise apathetic crowd.

Not only can the Ravens not expect to win a playoff game with their current production, but they're likely to lose to the Lions and/or Bengals at home and miss the postseason altogether after all.

In any case, as a season ticket holder who couldn't give my tickets away, I promise you that playoff fever has not overtaken the Ravens faithful, and the market for Sunday's game against Detroit isn't looking much better.

On to the superlatives:

Winner: Terrell Suggs

For the second straight week the future Hall of Famer showed up and made an impact. In addition to dominating the edge against the run, Suggs tallied 2 sacks, including a late sack-fumble that just about wrapped up the game for the Ravens. Suggs now has 9.5 sacks on the year and looks rejuvenated since the team's bye week. If the Ravens are going to think about shedding his salary this offseason, Suggs is doing his best to make it a heartburn inducing question for Ozzie Newsome.

Loser: Joe Flacco

Last week the Texans' defense gave up 257 yards and 3 touchdowns to Blaine Gabbert. Two weeks before that Jacoby Brisset, playing behind arguably the worst offensive line in football, torched them for 308 yards on 20 of 30 passing with two touchdowns. $120 million man Joe Flacco? 20-32 for 141 yards, and missed throws all over the field throughout the game. To add insult to injury Flacco was shown up by punter Sam Koch who had the best thrown ball of the game for the second time in three games on a fake punt.

There's really nothing to to say about Flacco at this point that hasn't already said, but his incredulous reaction to overthrowing Mike Wallace by a solid eight yards was telling. Joe simply has no idea what's going on on the field, either mentally or physically, and he has no idea to fix it. Getting shut down by a Houston defense that's been shredded through the air by just about every bum quarterback they've played recently really should be taken as a sign that it's time for the Ravens to start seriously thinking about how to move on from the Flacco era ASAP.

He might throw a tighter spiral than back-up Ryan Mallett!

Winner: Sam Koch

Not only dropped five punts inside the 20, but he might be close to creating a quarterback controversy in Owings Mills!

Loser: Sensible officiating

One of the subtle changes in officiating in the last decade that hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as its impact on the game is the "defender playing the ball" standard for pass interference calls. In theory it's a sensible standard that gives defensive backs leeway to go after contested catches without worrying about getting flagged for pass interference because they're fighting for a jump ball. In practice the "get your head around and look for the ball" standard has become a near all encompassing crutch for officials, making decisions borderline automatic, with often comical results.

A defensive back can do everything up to and including punching a receiver in the face as long as he's "looking for the ball" without incurring a flag, but if you don't turn the head there's almost no way you're going to avoid a flag. I distinctly remember a play late in the Vikings-Saints NFC Championship game just after the standard was instituted where a Vikings linebacker threw his hands up to block the ball catcher's vision, literally didn't make any contact with the receiver at all (in fact there was nearly a foot of space between them if memory serves correctly), and still got flagged for pass interference.

The calls Monday night weren't that egregious, but both Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith were victimized by pass interference flags on plays where they had excellent coverage, made minimal contact with the receiver, but drew the flag anyway just because they forgot the all important requirement to turn their head. It's a dumb standard at this point, it makes the league and the officials look incompetent based on how pass interference gets called as a result, and the league really needs to reevaluate its instructions to officials on the matter.

Loser: Brandon Carr

I honestly thought Jimmy Smith did okay covering DeAndre Hopkins one on one, and I liked the Ravens's decision to mostly neglect double covering the Texans' star receiver. If nothing else Houston wasn't managing anything once they got to the redzone, Smith didn't let Hopkins beat him for a score, and rolling a safety to double Hopkins would have made it easier for Tom Savage to work the middle or find someone else open. There's no sense in doing that when you're playing a crappy backup, and no matter how many nice plays Hopkins made the Texans still ended the game with one rushing touchdown and three turnovers from said crappy backup quarterback.

I can't go out on a limb to defend Carr, though, who had his worst game since becoming a Raven. Carr wasn't just totally overmatched by Hopkins, he was struggling to cover anyone in man coverage, and was consistently running behind his assignment. Hopefully Marlon Humphrey's absence is short lived.

Winner: Alex Collins

Collins hasn't exactly lit the world on fire since his breakout Thursday night performance against Miami, but with an atrocious passing game the Ravens have seen nothing but stuffed boxes designed to force Joe Flacco to make plays with his arms. Collins had a rough time of things again for the most part Monday night, but his 29 yard 4th and 1 sprint showed that he's still got home run play ability, and he also added a really nice blocking effort on an earlier Joe Flacco rollout, chipping a defensive tackle not once, but twice to get his quarterback outside.

Loser: Marty Mornhinweg

Found himself thrown under the bus by his quarterback once again after the game, blamed for a gameplan that doesn't push the ball downfield enough. Which is funny considering that Flacco couldn't even hit wide open receivers downfield, and at one point ESPN put up a graphic showing that Flacco was 1 for his last 15 on passes thrown 20 yards or further. Mornhinweg is pretty much a dead man walking at this point, and he'll almost certainly take the fall for an offense he couldn't do much at all with given the quality of play he's gotten from his "franchise quarterback."

Loser: Jeremy Maclin

Because everyone who picks Joe Flacco over Tyrod Taylor is a loser these days.

Winner: Offensive line coaches

Jadaveon Clowney is a beast for any offensive line to handle, given not just his talent level but the variety of places he can line up and attack you. And early on it definitely looked like Clowney was going to be a one man wrecking ball for Houston, but sometime in the second quarter he mostly disappeared. He ended the game with one early sack and two tackles credited in total, while Flacco mostly got clean pockets in the second half. Ronnie Stanley and Ryan Jensen stood out in pass protection as well.

Loser: Joe Flacco

So awful I had to say it twice. Seriously, I ended up feeling bad for Breshad Perriman Monday Night.

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Tuesday
November 28
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ravens defense outlasts texans defense in 23-16 win


If you were one of the 10,000 or so who stayed home last night and left your seat empty at Ravens Stadium, you were probably the real winner.

Although it was a beautiful night for football, neither the Ravens or Texans managed anything remotely close to pretty on offense, as Baltimore came out on top 23-16 thanks to a pair of fourth down gambles and Justin Tucker's reliable right foot.

A win's a win, right?

The victory slides the Ravens back into the 6th spot of the AFC playoff picture and moves the club to 6-5 on the campaign. An impending showdown with visiting Detroit next Sunday will go a long way in determining the post-season fate of John Harbaugh's team.

141 yards in the air for Joe Flacco last night was enough to help push the Ravens over the Texans. But would that performance beat the Patriots or Steelers in January?

Last night, a successful fake-punt turned the game around for the Ravens, who were trailing 7-0 at the time and about to give the ball back to the Texans after yet another listless offensive series. Instead, Sam Koch lofted a nice ball to Chris Moore, who hauled it in 20 yards downfield despite being mauled by a Houston defender. The Ravens would punch it in for a score a few plays later and the tide had turned.

Later in the first half, the Ravens gambled on 4th and 1 and pulled off a nifty mis-direction pitch to Alex Collins, who gained 29 yards on the play to set up a touchdown of his own on the next play from scrimmage.

Two fourth-down gambles were the most impressive thing the Ravens did "offensively" in the first half, as they led 17-10 at intermission.

The third quarter turned into a game of protect-the-lead, as neither did found the end zone in the final 30 minutes.

The folks who made their way to the exits at halftime were the smart ones.

There was nothing to see, really, in the final two quarters. Just two bad offenses engaged in a nationally-televised pillow fight, hoping not to make a critical mistake that doomed their chances of winning.

To Baltimore's credit, they didn't turn the ball over last night, and that was basically the difference in the game. Houston turned it over three times, including a late 4th quarter throw by Tom Savage that might have earned him a benching at most Division I schools in the country.

It was yet another game where Joe Flacco couldn't do much of anything. How much of that you blame on him, directly, is up to you, but he was only able to produce 141 yards in the air last night against what was a pretty dismal Houston secondary. Yes, they have Jonathan Joseph, but the Texans are brutally bad against the pass (27th in the league) and yet, somehow, Marty Mornhinweg, Flacco and the rest of the offense continued to flounder.

There's no sense in nit-picking on suspect play calls or questionable down-and-distance decisions that Flacco (and the receivers) makes. We've seen this show far too long now to expect it to change overnight.

Yes, the half-trick-play to Collins on the 4th and 1 situation in the second quarter was nifty and new. But those moments are too few and far between for the Ravens. Their offense is about as interesting as a Val-Pak mailer. It's the same old stuff, every single time.

I still contend the Ravens are going to make the playoffs, and in the end there are only six teams in each conference that can check that box, so let's not diminish what it means to make the post-season in the NFL. It's far, far better to make it than not, for sure.

But at some point in January, the season will come to a screeching halt because the Baltimore offense will go into labor for three and a half hours and be unable to move. You know it's coming, but we just don't know who the opponent will be and where the dream will end.

Last night's win will also fortunately overshadow the other white elephant in the room: gobs and gobs and gobs of empty seats at the stadium last night, on what could only be described as a Chamber-of-Commerce evening in Charm City.

There are lots of reasons why people are choosing not to go to the games and some of those, in fairness, don't have anything to actually do with the Ravens themselves. People getting shot walking out of convenience stores don't help downtown businesses in the least and the Ravens are no exception as far as that goes.

But when that many folks -- who have already paid for their tickets, by the way -- fail to show for just the team's second Monday Night Football home game in a decade-plus, there's something going on that suggests a bigger problem is at hand.

We know that, of course. But a 23-16 win becomes the topic of discussion at the water cooler today and the empty seats become a sidebar that never finds its way into the crosshairs.

So while the fans might not have held up their end of the bargain on Monday evening, the Baltimore defense did its part last night. True, they were facing a stiff at quarterback, but you play who you play. It's much better to beat Tom Savage than to lose to him.

Dean Pees had his defense ready to play, save for that opening Texans drive that saw them go 90 yards for their only TD of the game. Other than that, it was another A+ effort from the defense, as they bailed out a sorry offense once again.

Unfortunately, at some point in January, the offense will have survive and thrive on their end own. And unless there's a miracle or some sort of drastic change (which, actually, might be considered a miracle) in Joe Flacco's play, that's likely not going to happen.

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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.



Leave it to the NCAA to screw up the un-screwupable.

Someone finally pays a real price for the Jerry Sandusky atrocity at Penn State....and it's handled in the worst way conceivable.

If you missed the brouhaha over the weekend, Tennessee apparently reached an agreement to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano to be the new head coach of their program after firing Butch Jones.

And then all hell broke loose.

Attention was drawn to allegations that, while working as an assistant at Penn State in the early 90's, Schiano had witnessed Sandusky and a young boy in the shower.

25 years after he worked at Penn State, Greg Schiano is still feeling the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault case.

A social media firestorm subsequently erupted, and within hours Tennessee had gone back on their decision and announced that they would be backing out of their deal with Schiano. Finally justice was served, and decency had prevailed over the hive of debauchery and scum that was Joe Paterno's child rape factory in Happy Valley!

There's just one problem: The allegations against Schiano are very possibly false.

The "charges" stem from a 2015 deposition give by former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary in a civil case between the university and an insurance company. McQueary, infamous for telling Paterno he'd witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in a Penn State shower, alleges that during a conversation with long time assistant and eventual Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley about Sandusky, Bradley informed McQueary that Schiano had at one point come into his office "white as a ghost" and claimed to have witnessed Sandusky in the act.

It was an explosive charge....and there's absolutely no proof for it beyond McQueary's double hearsay statement outside of a courtroom (an important distinction that most media coverage has misrepresented; McQueary never would have been allowed to make that statement in front of a jury).

Schiano and Bradley have steadfastly denied the accusation and maintained that they had no knowledge of Sandusky's crimes. None of Sandusky's victims corroborated McQueary's statement that Schiano witnessed their attack.

What's more, McQueary's story has some pretty glaring holes in it.

Schiano left Penn State in 1995, so what was his motivation supposed to be for keeping quiet? McQueary actually claims that Bradley indicated that two coaches had reported Sandusky to him, but only named Schiano.

The other alleged "whistleblower" remains a nameless coach from the 1980's. Does that make sense to anyone? For that matter, does it make sense that a long time defensive coach like Bradley would just be casually blabbing to a young offensive assistant like McQueary about such a sensitive topic in the first place?

Note that McQueary never indicates that he told Bradley about what he witnessed Sandusky doing in 2001, or that he had gone to Paterno himself with the information. How exactly are we supposed to believe that the topic of Jerry Sandusky raping kids under everyone's noses just casually came up in conversation?

But perhaps the most damning question of all is; given apparent confirmation that at least two other people had seen the same thing McQueary had over the years, why didn't McQueary finally go to the police and tell them what he'd seen Sandusky doing in that shower room?

That's what this entire saga comes down to for me. I don't know for certain if Schiano really did catch Sandusky in the act, ad short of an admission or compelling corroboration there's no way to know it. But I absolutely do know one thing, and that's that Mike McQueary is in no way, shape, or form a hero in the Jerry Sandusky story.

That's been easy to lose sight of amidst the characterizations of McQueary as a whistle blower, but in fact he never told anyone who wasn't ultimately complicit in Sandusky's crimes what he knew. McQueary tried to claim otherwise when faced with this exact criticism in 2011, but local law enforcement quickly confirmed that no department had any record of McQueary filing a report about Sandusky. McQueary reported Sandusky to Paterno and then discussed the matter with some combination of Spanier, Curley, and Schultz....and that's it.

When nothing happened to Sandusky, when no one from any law enforcement agency contacted McQueary to take a statement about what he had personally witnessed, when everything just went on as always for over 8 years at Penn State, Michael McQueary kept his mouth shut. Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley may or may not have played a part in covering up Sandusky's crimes...but McQueary definitely did.

In fact, what's especially ironic about the situation is that, at the absolute worst, Schiano is accused of doing literally the exact same thing that McQueary is known to have done.

And yet while Schiano has been turned into the newest college football villain and deemed unfit for employment in the game by many, McQueary has won $12 million in lawsuits against Penn State thus far and been deemed as trustworthy as a saint spreading the gospel by the same people who find Schiano abhorrent. This despite being someone proven to lie for his own benefit and perfectly willing to coverup child rape in the name of remaining a coach at Penn State.

It's certainly possible to go too far in defending Schiano here.

He's not a victim of the Penn State fiasco by any means, and it's entirely possible that McQueary is actually telling the truth. Someone will no doubt characterize the episode as a witch hunt and, again, that goes much too far in describing the level of unfairness Schiano has been subjected to in this saga.

Ultimately Schiano was coaching under Sandusky at Penn State for multiple seasons, and on some level it's fair to be suspicious of anyone who coached at Penn State during the Paterno/Sandusky years, and wonder what exactly they turned a blind eye to, or what suspicious behavior from Sandusky they either rationalized or ignored.

But if Greg Schiano doesn't fit the bill of John Proctor, Mike McQueary sure makes a convincing Abigail Williams.

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

Twitter: @TMSchoenberger


The Ravens win. Yippee. In an absolute must-win game to keep its post-season hopes alive, the team representing Charm City managed to post a "W" in a primetime matchup against the Texans last night.

Congratulations.

In prior years, a victory under the lights at home meant Mardi Gras in the streets of Federal Hill. Fans would celebrate into the wee hours of the morning, showcasing a civic pride most other teams in NFL cities would watch with envy.

Leading up to a game of this magnitude in Baltimore would typically be a license for the locals to focus on game preparation rather than concentrate on work related items. It was a green light to treat a Monday game day as a quasi-holiday.

My, how things have changed.

There was little to no hype for last night’s game. Missing was the cocky swagger normally noticed by fans pacing down Pratt Street hours before kick-off, emotionally charged for a night of cheering for “their” team battling on a national stage.

And if the Ravens won, the euphoria would burst like a boiling volcano validating the dreams of post-season bliss.

Not this time, though.

Those few fans who made their way to M&T Bank Stadium actually saw an entertaining victory by the home team. Following the win, many would be hard pressed not to think of the Ravens making a run in the postseason. There is clearly room for optimism.

But nobody seems to care. And, this is the current state of the NFL.

In a Wall Street report released only hours before the Ravens/Texans game, projected revenue losses for the league and television networks is expected to exceed $500 million this season. Fans have turned their backs on the sport and don’t appear to be considering embracing it again any time soon.

“There is agreement that the NFL needs to find a resolution to the protests, but the most alarming thing for the league and its TV partners is simply eliminating the protest won’t return the NFL to its ratings golden era, just two short years past,” quoted in the report.

The most tell-tale sign of this fan apathy was seen on national television during last night’s game. In the first quarter—and after a quick three-and-out by the Ravens—punter Sam Koch kicked the ball in his customary rainbow pattern, which forced ESPN’s cameras to pull back and permit viewers to follow the trajectory of the football.

Viewers of the play should likely have made a comment about Koch’s insane ability to accurately place a punted ball deep inside an opponent’s territory. However, instead, the social media world focused entirely on the overwhelming amount of empty seats in the background.

Of the few fans watching on television, the sad reality is people are paying more attention to actual non-football related matters.

In a report from NBC’s ProFootballTalk, ratings for the three games played on Thanksgiving were abysmal, which should serve as a proxy for what will most likely be a season low in the Ravens/Texans MNF matchup.

The Vikings/Lions game on Thursday generated a rating of 11.4, which is down about 12.3 percent from last year’s Vikings/Lions game, and 7.3 percent down from the Eagles/Lions game in 2015.

The Cowboys/Chargers game later in the day say a 12.4 rating, representing a drop of 20.5 percent as compared with the Washington/Dallas Thanksgiving game played in 2016.

The Thanksgiving Redskins/Giants game had a 9.7 rating, down 10.2 percent from last year’s Steelers/Colts game. In comparison to the Bears/Packers game in 2015, the game saw a massive 33.6 drop in the ratings.

“Last year’s seepage has turned into a major break in the dam. The league is now down about three million viewers per game from 2013 and 2014. When the specific teams appearing, the scope of the telecast and the week of the season are taken into account, the decline is even more dramatic: more than four million viewers, or in excess of 20%,” according to Forbes Magazine.

Like I mentioned, it’s great the Ravens won. But nobody seems to really give a damn.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see the

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 12


Monday — November 27, 2017
Volume XXXX — Issue 27

Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens

8:30 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore

Spread: Ravens -7


there's no telling who ravens will face in first-round playoff encounter


The NFL is one crazy, crazy league.

And I'm not talking about trying to gamble -- successfully -- on the games. That's next to impossible.

I'm talking "crazy" in terms of who wins and loses on a weekly basis.

The AFC East is locked up, of course. New England had that division secured by the second week of October.

The AFC North looks like it belongs to Pittsburgh, now 9-2, but the Ravens do still have a mathematical shot at winning the division.

But the rest of the conference is a complete crapshoot.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers started 0-4 and are now 5-6 and have a shot at both the AFC West title and/or a wild card spot.

The Kansas City Chiefs started the season 5-0. Now, after suffering the ultimate indignity yesterday -- losing to Buffalo at home -- they're suddenly 6-5.

Green Bay couldn't have looked worse on offense Sunday a week ago against the Ravens in a 23-0 loss at Lambeau Field. Last night, although they fell on a last-second referee-aided field goal in Pittsburgh, Brett Hundley looked like Aaron Rodgers 2.0 in various parts of the game as the Packers lost 31-28.

The remaining four playoff spots are completely up for grabs, though. And I mean, completely.

Heck, Buffalo is back in the race now after beating the Chiefs in K.C. yesterday. Alas, they have two losses to New England coming up, so they're essentially at best a 9-7 team, which may or may not get them in, somehow.

The Raiders, an afterthought three weeks ago, suddenly trail K.C. by just one game as they've crawled back to 5-6.

The L.A. Chargers are also 5-6 now. K.C. still has to play them. And the Chiefs are backing up at precisely the wrong time. There's definitely a chance that the Chargers somehow steal the division and the Chiefs have to fight for a wild card spot.

And because the league is completely nuts, the possibility definitely exists that K.C. misses out on the post-season despite their 5-0 start. The same thing happened to Minnesota last season, remember.

Jacksonville and Tennessee are going to battle it out for the AFC South crown. The loser might make the post-season or miss out on it completely depending on what the Ravens, Chargers and Bills do over the final month of the season.

The NFL is a wacky league. More wacky than ever before, it seems to me.

The Ravens need to make sure "wacky" doesn't happen to them tonight when they host the Texans.

Baltimore's target for a guaranteed wild card spot is seemingly 10-6. That means they need to go 5-1 down the stretch in order to hit that mark. They could still sneak in at 9-7, but they don't own the tiebreaker with Tennessee, who might also end the campaign at 9-7.

A loss to the Texans tonight would be very damaging. It wouldn't mark the end of their playoff chase by any means, but the wound created by a defeat this evening would require a lot of stitches.

And the Ravens should win tonight, of course. They're facing Tom Savage at quarterback for Houston. He's not DeShone Kizer-bad, but he's pretty much a bum. If Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense can't muster enough points to beat the Texans, there's an argument they don't deserve a spot in the playoffs.

This one should be something akin to a cakewalk tonight.

Sure, the Texans have some legit pass catchers on offense, but someone has to get the ball to them. I can't see Tom Savage beating the Ravens in Baltimore.

I'm calling it a 30-16 Ravens victory this evening.

Baltimore leads 10-0 after the first quarter and 13-6 at the half.

It's 23-9 heading into the fourth quarter and the Ravens put it away with ease, 30-16.

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could antonio brown be "the best ever"?


Somewhere yesterday, I heard a football talking-head utter these words: "I'm telling you now, when his career is over Antonio Brown might go down as the best wide receiver in the the history of the game."

It was one of the 19 pre-game shows that air on Sunday morning and, frankly, it was serving more as white noise than anything else as I cooked breakfast for the kids.

I wish I could tell you who said it, but that almost doesn't matter, for the opinion isn't all that crazy.

Antonio Brown had 10 catches for 169 yards last night in Pittsburgh's 31-28 win over Green Bay. Insert your Breshad Perriman joke here.

But it did make me stop and say, "Huh? Really? Antonio Brown better than Jerry Rice?"

Maybe it was just Sunday-morning hyperbole. Or maybe the author of that statement was on to something.

Brown made one of the best catches you'll ever see last night in the waning seconds of the Steelers' lucky 31-28 win over Green Bay. It helped set up a game-winning 53 yard field goal at the buzzer. It was a catch that very few in the league today would have been able to make.

I'm well aware that A.B. has enjoyed the benefits of playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback. You're probably thinking the same thing I said to myself last night while Al Michaels gave Brown a virtual back rub every time he caught a pass. "Let's see how good that kid would be with Flacco throwing to him instead of Roethlisberger."

The quarterback matters. I know that much.

But that kid at wide receiver is awfully, awfully good. He has speed, great route running ability and soft-but-durable hands. He helps out Big Ben just as much as he gets helped, that's for sure.

But the best ever?

I'm not even sure how you judge that sort of thing.

Best ever?

Better than Randy Moss? Larry Fitzgerald? Marvin Harrison? Raymond Berry? Lance Alworth?

Those are some pass-catching greats right there. I never once thought about it until yesterday, then really started weighing the "best ever" statement last night while watching Brown humble the Green Bay secondary all night.

Maybe he will be, after all. He has a lot of football left, obviously, but there's little doubt he's on the fast track to Canton and the Hall of Fame, if nothing else.

But...the best to ever play wide receiver in the NFL?

Perhaps, for once, a Sunday morning pre-game show actually offered a sensible question for football fans to ponder.

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yet another pro says tiger "looks great"


I could show you the video clips that surfaced over the weekend of Tiger Woods hitting shots in both Florida and the Bahamas.

But I'm like most people in that regard. One swing, on the practice tee, doesn't tell me a whole lot. Sure, I'll be the first to admit Tiger's swing -- what we've seen of it over the last month -- looks very solid. But there's a big difference between a few driving range shots and playing actual golf.

Former PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon said about Tiger Woods' play on Friday: "He looks like he's ready to get back out there and compete."

So let's check in with Brad Faxon, the former Ryder Cupper who teed it up with Woods, President Trump and Dustin Johnson on Friday in Florida. Faxon had a lot to say about Tiger's play and in almost every situation, he offered nothing but praise.

"More than anything, I was really impressed with how good he looked physically," Faxon told the media on Saturday. "I know that's what has been on Tiger's mind more than anything, and he says he feels great and he sure did look great (yesterday) when we played."

Faxon noted how far Woods was hitting the ball, an indication that Tiger's once-ailing back might no longer be holding him back. "On the ten holes where he and DJ both hit driver, Tiger hit it past him half the time."

And what about the short-game shots? Woods had some issues with chipping and pitching back in 2015 when he was coming back from a long layoff. "He hit some amazing touch-shots out there," Faxon claimed. "His hands and feel around the greens -- amazing. I was really impressed with how he got the ball up and down a couple of times."

The proof will come later this week when Woods tees it up in The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where nearly all of the world's top 15 players will compete for a bunch of silly-season money that they don't really need.

Woods will showcase his game in the easiest of settings, yes, but he's also in a complete no-win situation.

If Tiger plays well, his detractors will point to the relaxed atmosphere, gentle layout, and lack of pressure, not to mention a small field.

If Tiger doesn't play well, the critics will have a field day. "If he can't contend at a silly-season event with 18 players, how does he expect to be a factor at Augusta National?"

The most important thing for Tiger to do this week? Play 72 holes and be healthy -- still -- when it's all said and done next Sunday evening.

No matter if he wins or loses, the ultimate accomplishment for Woods will be to finish the event and have no pain or lingering effects from his 10-month layoff.

Anything better than that is gravy.

Several PGA Tour players who have teed it up with him recently have been impressed with his play. Faxon, Rickie Fowler and Arjun Atwal have all seen it first-hand.

Later this week, we'll get to see the soon-to-be-42-year-old and make our own assessment.

Best of all, we'll see him playing actual golf instead of hitting shots on a sun-soaked practice range somewhere.

Keep in mind the memorable words of the great Bobby Jones. "There's golf, and then there's tournament golf. And the two bear little resemblance."

Glory
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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

Sunday
November 26
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issue 26
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james franklin will get his someday


James Franklin and Penn State ran up the score on Maryland yesterday down in College Park.

In case you missed it -- and based on the number of UM fans in the stadium, you probably did -- the Nittany Lions prevailed in a squeaker, 66-3.

In one of the more laughable statistics of the sports weekend, the Maryland basketball team actually allowed fewer points (65) in their win over New Mexico than the Terps allowed in their football loss to Penn State.

Some folks will argue there's no such thing as "running up the score" once you get to the college level of athletics.

I can hear it now. "If they don't want to lose 66-3, they should play better."

Maryland and coach D.J. Durkin were on the bad end of a 66-3 shellacking yesterday in College Park.

That much is true, of course. Good teams don't lose by 63 points at home very often. So there's that. We can all admit Maryland needs to improve.

But it's hard for anyone to say, with a straight face, that Penn State didn't "run up the score" yesterday. They did. Case closed.

And, honestly, in some ways I understand why Franklin and his 10th ranked team would run it up. I get it. As teams battle for a really good bowl game and large payday, pounding anyone by 63 points impresses the folks who make post-season decisions.

But there was a look of delight on Franklin's face in the final minutes of yesterday's laugher down on Route 1. He didn't look like a coach who was a smidgen mortified at the beating his team was putting on Maryland. Instead, he looked like he was enjoying it. Perhaps a little too much.

Franklin, of course, was a former member of the Maryland coaching staff and was, at one point, dubbed "coach in waiting" during the Ralph Friedgen era. That all went kaput and Franklin made his way to Vanderbilt before finally setting up shop in Happy Valley where things were, well, somewhat unsettled when he first arrived.

It's worth noting here that Franklin was in the news for the right reasons back in early November. He chased down a handful of his players who were exiting the field without shaking hands with their Michigan counterparts following a 27-24 loss -- and made them return to the field and complete their sportsmanship duties.

He lost with dignity that day. Too bad he couldn't win with the same degree of humility on Saturday in College Park.

Maybe Franklin forgot where he came from. That happens. Perhaps he missed the webinar on "How to beat a team by 63 points and not come across looking like you wish you had won by 70."

Perhaps the coach still believes his Nittany Lions have an outside chance at impressing the playoff bowl committtee. If everyone in the Top 10 keeps losing, like they've been doing for the last couple of weeks, who knows, right?

Maryland, as we've seen over the last few years, is wobbling along as a Big Ten also-ran, although it's fair to point out their 2017 season might have been totally different if both of their "regular" quarterbacks hadn't suffered season ending injuries in September. I'm not suggesting Maryland would have been a conference contender or anything like that, but yesterday's 66-3 loss was mostly a by-product of lacking any kind of serious quality on either the offensive or defensive line.

Penn State took advantage of an awful situation down at College Park yesterday.

It was 52-3 with seven minutes left. But that wasn't enough, apparently. They tacked on two more touchdowns to finalize the scoring at 66-3. The only reason they didn't reach 70 points? The game was 60 minutes instead of 63 minutes.

I'm not sure what inspires a team to do that to an opponent. Bad blood? Eh, maybe. But has Maryland done anything unsavory towards Penn State in recent years?

I could almost understand it if, say, Penn State had a chance to put Michigan away by a 66-3 score. Who wouldn't want to do that to Jim Harbaugh, right?

But Penn State kept their foot on the pedal all the way to the end yesterday. I can only assume their head coach didn't tell them to ease off the gas. If he did, they didn't listen.

So, rest well over the next couple of days, Mr. Franklin. Enjoy that 63-point smashing you put on Maryland yesterday.

At some point down the road, you'll get one of those defeats shoved in your face. It might not be 66-3, granted. Penn State might not ever be sorry enough to lose a football game by 63 points. But you'll get a 56-10 loss put on you when the other team scores twice in the last five minutes for no reason at all.

It'll happen someday.

Hopefully soon, in fact.

No, it won't be Maryland who does the deed. That would be too delicious. There probably won't come a day when the Terps will beat your Nittany Lions by 63 points. But someone else will put a whooping on you like you put on Maryland yesterday. The worm always turns.

And here's the best part. People in Happy Valley will care.

No one in College Park is really all that upset this morning that Penn State beat Maryland 66-3 yesterday. It's college football. No one cares if the Terps win, lose or draw on the football field.

But when your day of reckoning comes and Penn State gets shellacked by 48 points or something along those lines, you better cover your car for a few nights or be prepared to scrape eggs and tomatoes off of it.

And don't answer your phone. Or any texts, either.

When someone runs the score up on Penn State, supporters of the Nittany Lions won't be nearly as understanding with you as they were with D.J. Durkin yesterday.

And you'll deserve whatever ass kicking you get, too.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



As recently as 2014, I was ambivalent about the college football playoff.

The topic that had dominated over a decade of NCAA football related conversation was of next to no interest to me whatsoever, and I couldn't have cared less if the BCS had stayed in place, or if a "playoff" of some variety replaced it. The biggest reason? The transparently bad faith arguments offered up in their favor.

Here's all you need to know about how the media handles college football: It's ALL about controversy.

100% of "analysis" centers around generating controversy over who should get a chance to play for the national championship. That's such a bedrock principle of the business that people go absolutely nuts when everything is cut and dried.

Case in point: The 2010 BCS title game matched up two undefeated teams in Alabama and Texas, meaning there was no good argument to be had over who should have gotten to play in the game. Nothing to argue about, right? Well that's why Michael Wilbon makes the BIG money to take up time on the shouty-head shows, my friends.

Will Nick Saban and his 11-1 Alabama team still make the college football playoff foursome, even after yesterday's loss to Auburn?

You see, where you see a battle for the undisputed national championship, Wilbon was able to see that the fix was in. You see, while at first glance the clock had expired when Colt McCoy threw a pass out of bounds, on replay it was determined that there was in fact one second left on the clock, and that gave Texas a chance to kick a game winning and season saving field goal.

To Wilbon this was proof that the Big 12 officials had rigged the same so that the Big 12 could send Texas to the National Championship Game. Nevermind that it was clear as day on replay that there was still one second on the clock when McCoy's pass hit the ground, and nevermind that that's not a judgment call for the referees. Wilbon couldn't have been more wrong in his angry assertions that the clock should have run off anyway, but it didn't matter.

College bowl season demands controversy, and controversy we will get come hell or high water!

So whenever someone would explain to me how we needed a playoff so that the championship would be decided on the field and not by "the voters," all I could do was roll my eyes and wonder if that person knew what they were full of or if they were actually gullible enough to believe that.

And sure enough, the playoff predictably hasn't ended the angry debates over who gets a chance to play for a championship, it's just shifted the cut off line from the top two teams to the top four.

Literally from the first year of the playoff system, when a whole lot of people couldn't believe Ohio State got in over TCU and Baylor with a third string quarterback leading them (as though *that* should have any impact on who earns a playoff spot in the first place) before knocking off Alabama and Oregon to win the whole shebang, the usual suspects have been beating the same drums to gin up the same old controversies as we had when the BCS was in place. Because that's what college football is made for.

Last year was an excellent example of why college football is inherently set up for this controversy, and no amount of tinkering will create an objective system for determining the champion like the pro leagues have.

Was it "fair" to have Ohio State in the playoff over Penn State, even though the Nittany Lions won the Big Ten and beat Ohio State head to head? Maybe not, but on the other hand was it fair to one loss Ohio State that two loss Penn State won the Big Ten East over them because, as far as the conference was concerned, their loss to Pitt might as well never have happened?

And to really illustrate how fickle college football championships can be, the game that actually decided the Big Ten East wasn't Ohio State vs. Penn State, but Iowa upsetting Michigan. Had Michigan won that game the season would have ended with a three way tie in the division, and Ohio State would have gone to the championship game by virtue of...being the highest ranked teams in the polls.

And thanks to Auburn's victory over number one Alabama, this year has the potential to be the biggest mess since LSU and USC split the championship back in 2003.

Despite the loss, Alabama is almost certainly going to the playoff, and they should. They've been number one all year, and there's no reason that losing a road game to the number six team should bump them behind Oklahoma or Miami/Clemson.

But the winner of the SEC Championship game is almost certainly going to get in too: Georgia would be a one loss SEC Champion, and Auburn would have two wins over Georgia plus one over Alabama. The prospect of two SEC teams occupying half of the four spots puts the selection committee in a really tight bind, one that only gets tighter in the event that Oklahoma wins the Big 12 and Wisconsin defies expectations and beats Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game.

Should that happen, the committee will have to decide to exclude either an undefeated Big Ten Champion or a one loss champion from the ACC or Big 12. Of course they could leave out Alabama, or maybe even really shock the world and exclude the SEC Champion if it's two-loss Auburn.

Whatever happens, you can rest assured that every college football writer in the country already has their column about why Team X was screwed over by the committee and what an outrage it is that they're relegated to a meaningless bowl game rather than getting the chance to compete for the national title.

And while I remain mostly ambivalent on the playoff and think that the last two years in particular would have been just as good skipping straight to Alabama vs. Clemson, it's pretty clear that it's beyond time for the playoff to expand. If we're going to have a "playoff," four teams clearly isn't enough to encapsulate all of the legitimate contenders.

Expand the field to eight teams and you don't have to leave out a team like Oklahoma, Clemson, or Ohio State who could easily show up and knock off Alabama or Auburn.

I'm not going to pretend that it will finally end the endless arguments over who should get in, but splitting hairs over who is 8th as opposed to 9th, we're probably not robbing whoever gets left out, nor are we going to find ourselves picking between, say, a one loss Clemson team who beat Auburn earlier in the season and an undefeated Wisconsin team.

I'm not going to tell you that Wisconsin is better than Alabama, Georgia/Auburn, Clemson/Miami, or Oklahoma, but can you imagine what would happen if the committee left an undefeated Power 5 conference champion out of the playoff? It would make a mockery of the whole idea!

But on the other hand, I can't figure out which of those other teams should get snubbed in favor of a (hypothetically) undefeated Badgers squad that will almost certainly get creamed in the semifinal round.

So just bite the bullet and expand the field. The playoff cat is out of the bag, so they might as well do it right.

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show me the money


After that terrible "bad beat" suffered by Browns' backers last Sunday (all set to cover at home vs. Jacksonville and lost a fumble that was run in for a score with a minute remaining), we decided to give our "Super Expert Insider" another crack at the NFL schedule.

We originally told him he'd get three weeks to prove his worth. And thus far, he's been above .500, and would have been 3-1-1 for the second time in three weeks if not for the Browns being the Browns late in last Sunday's game in Cleveland.

Alas, his 2-2-1 record last Sunday keeps #DMD just five games below .500 for the season at 24-29-2. All we need is a good week here or there and we're back in the black for 2017!

So, here's our Insider's look at week #12 in the NFL.


TITANS (-3.5) AT COLTS -- Titans have been off since last Thursday's loss at Pittsburgh and they're now starting to enter "must win" territory if they hope to secure either the AFC South title or a wild card spot. Derrick Henry put up 131 yards on the ground in the first game of the season between these two teams. Look for more of the same today as the Titans cover and win, 27-16.


BRONCOS AT RAIDERS (-4.5) -- These two teams combined to score just 26 points in their first meeting of the season in Denver. This one should feature more scoring, as the Oakland defense is terrible and the Broncos have been reeling ever since John Elway called them soft. Paxton Lynch gets the start at QB for the Broncos, which means he either stubs his toe and produces a stinker or lights it up against a lousy Oakland secondary. Since it feels like Oakland is the easy wager here, we'll go with the Broncos and take the 4.5 points but Oakland wins it late 33-30.


BROWNS AT BENGALS (-7.5) -- We all know seven-and-a-half-points is a lot to give up in a division game, but this is the Browns we're talking about here. Honestly, 7.5 points seems a bit light in this one. Cleveland has to win sometime, but it won't be today, as the Bengals cover and blow out their Ohio rivals, 30-10.


BILLS AT KANSAS CITY (-9.5) -- With Buffalo having suffered three straight defeats and now traveling to Kansas City after a West Coast trip to Los Angeles, many "Wise Guys" are all over Kansas City in this one. I disagree with that play. Tyrod Taylor has something to prove today -- and he will. While I don't see the Bills doing enoug to win, Taylor will keep the game close. We'll take Buffalo and the 9.5 points here, with the Chiefs pulling out a late 24-22 win.


DOLPHINS AT PATRIOTS (-16.5) -- Tom Brady vs. Matt Moore. Enough said. New England will win by whatever score they want, so we're taking the Patriots in this one as they pile up a big halftime lead and cruise in from there, 38-13.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Let's go with the Bengals and give Cleveland 7.5 points as our "Best Bet" selection today.


SEASON RECORD TO DATE: -- 24-29-2

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: -- 2-2-1

BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- 5-6

Duclaw banner

#dmd is heading to philly to see the

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

Saturday
November 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xl
issue 25
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


here’s one way for the orioles
to handle the off-season


With the baseball winter meetings on the horizon next month and the Hot Stove season warming up at the same time, it’s worthwhile to take a look at the Orioles and the off-season challenges they’re facing.


2017standings


There are several ways to attack the upcoming “improvement season”.

It’s unlikely the Orioles will be big spenders in the free-agent market, and, honestly, there’s not much out there to (over)spend on — save for a couple of veteran pitchers who will draw attention from several teams, at least.

There’s lots of chatter about the availability of Alex Cobb, the erstwhile member of the Tampa Bay Rays who just happens to be a free agent at the perfect time. He’s not “great” by any means, but he’s good enough to warrant a deal upwards of $20 million a year.

Cobb’s best attribute? He’s pitched – and done well – in the American League East throughout his career.

There’s not much to dislike about him, other than the obvious as it relates to the Orioles: They need much more than Cobb in order to clean up and improve their sorry starting rotation.

Jake Arrieta is available.

I can’t imagine the Orioles would embarrass themselves by making him an offer. I can see the text response he’d send to his agent: LOL

So, what should the Orioles do once Cobb decides to sign with the Yankees or Cubs and they’re unable to land any other high quality (or even semi-high-quality) free agent pitcher?

Trading for pitching is the next step. And the one that probably best fits their efforts to rebound from a last place campaign in 2017.

The obvious candidates to be dealt are Zach Britton and Manny Machado, since both of those guys will be free agents at the completion of the 2018 campaign.

But any team acquiring those guys knows it’s likely only a one-year stop. Sure, they both have value, but as the Orioles found out last July when they shopped Britton, teams aren’t willing to pile a bunch of prospects into a wheelbarrow and send them to Charm City.

So let’s look at three players that might actually have some value, whether they’re packaged together or individually.

      Mark Trumbo — Since no one will take Chris Davis, the next-best-candidate to be moved is Mark Trumbo. His contract ($13 million) is reasonable by today’s standards and, as he did in Baltimore in 2016, the possibility exists he’ll enjoy some new surroundings. He’s not all that good defensively, but you can use him 25-35 times a year in the field and not crush yourself.

Had the Orioles played their Trey Mancini cards right this time last winter, they would have passed on re-signing Trumbo and spent that $37.5 million on another free agent.

Alas, they misplayed the Mancini hand and are now stuck with Trumbo. Unless they can move him.

      Brad Brach — Like the above example, the real guy you’d like to ship off would be Darren O’Day, but no team in the league is going to pick up the remaining $25 million on his deal.

Enter Brad Brach, who will enter his final arbitration year in 2018 and then becomes a free agent in 2019. There was some talk that teams were interested in Brach at last season’s trade deadline, so it stands to reason the O’s would get some bites if they made him available this winter.

Brach might not fetch much on his own, but a Trumbo-Brach package could generate some interest around Major League Baseball.

      Tim Beckham — This one comes out of left field, but there’s some sound reasoning connected with making Beckham available.

First, if you’re saying, “Wait, remember what he did in August?”, you might want to sneak a peek at what he did – or didn’t do – in September.

Yes, he was red hot after arriving from Tampa Bay at the deadline, hitting .394 with a .417 on-base-percentage in August. But he completely bottomed out in September (.180/.255) and there were whispers around the ballpark that Buck Showalter wasn’t exactly enamored with his personality.

The one negative to dealing Beckham? The Orioles don’t really have anyone else they can plug in at shortstop.

The good news? This happens to be an off-season where a bunch of “average” shortstops are available on the free agent market. In other words, the O’s could find someone to do the job temporarily while they piece together a more long-term plan at shortstop.

Supporters of Beckham will point to the fact that he’s under club control for three more years.

That’s true. And that also means now is a good time to deal him, if – and please note that’s an “if” – the Orioles can fleece someone or include Beckham in a package deal that somehow gets them a quality starting arm (or two).

Which Beckham will the Orioles get in 2018? The one who almost hit .400 in August? Or the one who couldn’t hit .200 in September? Roll the dice…

Here’s what I know about the Orioles as it relates to the 2018 campaign.

They’re steaming towards another last-place finish if they don’t drastically improve their starting rotation.

Pitching, pitching, pitching. The Orioles need more of it. Much more.

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are etched in stone. That’s not to say either of those guys are potential Cy Young candidates, because it’s likely they aren’t. But both are going to give you 190+ innings and should each be around the league average in ERA when it’s all said and done.

What about the next three spots in the rotation?

Chris Tillman would be a natural, sensible gamble as long as he’d take a one-year “prove it” contract, which might wind up being his best and only option after the awful 2017 campaign he produced.

I’d have no problem with the Orioles giving Tillman a one-year deal to see if his 2017 season was an outlier.

Even with that, there are still two spots to be filled.

And please don’t tell me it’s Miguel Castro or Gabriel Ynoa that you’re penciling in for the rotation. There’s nothing except blind faith that tells you either of those guys can give the O’s 175 innings or more.

Actually, Ynoa already showed that he stinks. There’s no reason at all to think he can suddenly be a viable candidate to pitch every 5th day.

Castro had his moments as a relief pitcher, but that’s probably his best spot. Give him a try as a starter in spring training? Sure. But, again, don’t suspect that Castro is going to go 14-11 with a 3.99 ERA in 2018. That’s far too ambitious, in my opinion.

We’re still looking for two more starters – and that’s assuming Tillman signs with the Orioles.

Happier Times
standings

Can you say 72-90?

That’s the path the O’s are on with their current “etched in stone” duo of Bundy and Gausman.

They might spend some money on Jason Vargas or Lance Lynn but those two guys are both risky for a variety of reasons.

I hope the O’s have learned a lesson from the signings of guys like Gallardo and Jimenez, plus the 2016 acquisition of Wade Miley, which produced next to nothing – except a lot of walks and loaded bases.

Given what’s available, coupled with the Orioles bare farm system, the only way any quality pitchers can be added will be via a trade.

And if the Orioles can’t improve the starting staff – in a big way -- then it might be time to buy the Houston Astros 2011 manual: “How to blow apart a team and win the World Series six years later”.

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the afc playoff picture


With six games left in the regular season, it’s now more of a sprint than a marathon for the AFC teams looking to snag a playoff spot.

For purposes of this exercise, we’re going to give the two current 8-2 teams (New England and Pittsburgh) the top two seeds in the conference.

Everything else is still up for grabs, including the AFC West, which at one point looked like a Kansas City runaway. Now, with Los Angeles (née San Diego) at 5-6, the Chiefs need to string together a few wins between here and the finish line to earn the division title.

Here’s a quick look at the remaining schedules of the playoff-capable teams. You can do your own “win that one, lose that one” formula to come up with the post-season winners and losers.


Baltimore (5-5) AFC East
Houston Detroit at Pittsburgh at Cleveland Indianapolis Cincinnati
Jacksonville (7-3) AFC South
at Arizona Indianapolis Seattle Houston at San Francisco at Tennessee
Tennessee (6-4) AFC South
at Indianapolis Houston at Arizona at San Francisco L. A. Rams Jacksonville
Kansas City (6-4) AFC West
Buffalo at N. Y. Jets Oakland L. A. Chargers Miami at Denver
Los Angeles Chargers (5-6) AFC West
Cleveland Washington at Kansas City at N. Y. Jets Oakland
Oakland Raiders (4-6) AFC West
Denver N. Y. Giants at Kansas City Dallas at Philadelphia at L. A. Chargers
KELLY banner ad

#dmd is heading to philly to see the

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

Friday
November 24
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issue 24
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harbaugh, ravens have done a good job
of staying afloat


During my pre-holiday appearance on Glenn Clark Radio this past Wednesday, the show’s host hammered away at his opinion that the Ravens, and specifically Ozzie Newsome, didn’t do much of anything in the off-season to improve the offensive side of the ball.

There’s not much to argue there.

Joe Flacco saw a pair of veterans added to an already mediocre offensive unit; Jeremy Maclin and Danny Woodhead.

Alex Collins came on board after the first game in Cincinnati, but he wasn’t in the team’s plans from the start. He only got to Baltimore by virtue of Woodhead’s opening game injury.

Now in his 10th season in Baltimore, John Harbaugh has the Ravens on the cusp of their first playoff appearance since 2015.

So, realistically, Newsome and his staff handed Flacco and the offense two decent players in the off-season; Maclin and Woodhead.

Clark’s contention – and there’s some truth to this – is that the Ravens’ woes can be traced back to those moves. He and I disagree on the role Flacco himself plays in the team’s inept offense, but I’ll concede – as I wrote here several weeks ago – that Baltimore’s lack of playmakers on offense has stymied them in 2017.

The Ravens also need much better play from their quarterback, in my opinion.

But here we are in week 12 of the NFL season and the Ravens, at 5-5, are right in the thick of the AFC playoff race. It’s going to be a dogfight until the end. One unexpected loss could send the Ravens – or any of the other wild card contenders – reeling from the post-season pack.

The team’s getting a lot of grief around town for their average-at-best play. It hasn’t been the best of seasons so far, that’s for sure. From the kneeling incident in London to the shocking home loss to the Bears, along with a dismal effort in Minnesota, the Ravens have lost some of their appeal in Charm City.

And yet, they’re still in it.

For all the grief John Harbaugh gets around town, this season is yet another example of why he’s become a very good NFL coach.

In-game blunders? Sure. Bad clock management from the offense? Yep. While some would say that issue falls on Flacco’s shoulders, Harbaugh’s ultimately in charge of the team and how they manage themselves in game situations.

Harbaugh’s not a perfect coach by any means, but other than the guy in New England, whom everyone assumes is perfect, the league doesn’t have a flawless coach.

Through injuries and with an offensive unit that lacks a lot of star talent, Harbaugh has kept the team chugging along and playoff hungry.

Some would say that’s why he gets $5 million a year. “That’s his job,” a detractor might claim.

And that’s true, too. It is Harbaugh’s job to get the team into playoff position.

But he can’t do it himself, obviously. It’s not the coach’s fault that the team was salary-cap-strapped in the off-season and couldn’t do a lot in free agency to improve the offense.

It’s not Harbaugh’s fault that the club’s 2017 salary structure has them spending over 55% of their allotted cap money on defense.

And it’s certainly not the coach’s fault that the quarterback eats up 15% of the salary cap with his $20-million-plus salary.

The proof will be in the pudding, so to speak, and January football will tell the tale with Harbaugh and his staff. If they make the playoffs, he will have hit his target for the year. If they don’t, then we can talk about “what’s next?”.

For now, though, with six games remaining, Harbaugh has guided the Ravens into a decent spot in the AFC. They’ll be favored in every game down the stretch except for December 10 in Pittsburgh. Given the landscape of their schedule and the others in the AFC who are sniffing for a post-season trip, the Ravens should make the playoffs.

And when they do – or “if” they do, if you prefer that – Harbaugh clearly deserves his fair share of credit.

After all, we all know if they don’t make it, he’s going to get most of the blame.

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calvert hall wins fourth straight
turkey bowl over loyola


From its perspective, Calvert Hall came into the 98th Turkey Bowl against archival Loyola Blakefield as a heavy favorite on a historic run after having won seven of the last eight meetings between the cross-Towson all-boys Catholic schools.

Make it program-best eight out of the last nine — and four in a row — for the No. 10 Cardinals (7-5), who weathered a mid-game rally by the Dons to pull away for a 27-6 victory yesterday at Towson University.

Calvert Hall gives coach Donald Davis a victory ride after their Thanksgiving Day win over Loyola Blakefield, the Cardinals’ 4th straight triumph in the traditional “Turkey Bowl”.

From the game’s earliest stages, things looked promising for Calvert Hall to ultimately close the all-time series gap to favoring Loyola (2-8) to 49-41-8.

Yet there were still some anxious moments for the Cardinals and their followers as the game progressed.

After Loyola’s opening drive reached the Calvert Hall 25-yard line, junior quarterback Jeffrey Snider was sacked for a 9-yard loss by senior linebacker Chance Campbell, forcing a punt to the Cardinals’ 11.

It would be the first of three sacks for the Maryland-bound standout.

Three plays later, Calvert Hall junior quarterback Mike Campbell (no relation to Chance Campbell) connected with senior wideout Chris Cooper on an 89-yard touchdown pass. After junior Chris Cottone’s conversion kick, the Cardinals led, 7-0, with just over six minutes remaining in the opening quarter.

They doubled the advantage shortly after junior running back Tariq Fields’s 40-yard burst carried the Cardinals to the Loyola 10-yard line.

Two plays later, Chance Campbell powered in from the 8-yard line to boost the lead to 14-0, with three minutes to go in the first period.

“It was the last time I was going to go out with my guys,” the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Maryland signee said. “I just wanted to go out and play for the love of the game.”

Senior cornerback Matt Bell’s interception was the first of four straight defensive stops for the Dons, who managed to bring Calvert Hall’s momentum to a screeching halt.

If holding the Cardinals in check for more than 15 minutes at that point wasn’t enough, Loyola capitalized on a muffed snap that allowed its next drive to begin at the Calvert Hall 23-yard line with less than two minutes to go in the half.

On the third play after the miscue, freshman quarterback Jordan Moore, who rotated with Snider under center, found senior tight end Evan Boozer on a 14-yard pass to cut the lead to 14-6.

“I thought he was going to run,” Boozer, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound Temple commit said. “But the ball came right to me.”

After Loyola made its sixth straight defensive stop early in the third quarter, Calvert Hall finally got untracked again and started to move the ball on the ground.

The Cardinals motored 64 yards in seven running plays and finished the sequence on a clutch 28-yard carry by sophomore running back Adewale Obayanju to go up, 21-6.

That trend continued when the star of the game, Chance Campbell, scored on a 6-yard run after he intercepted a pass tipped by Reggie Sutton to boost the cushion to 27-6 and finalize the scoring with just over eight minutes left.

As for his program’s all-time best run in the series that kicked off in 1920, Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis deflected kudos directed at him.

“It says a everything about our staff and our kids,” said Davis, a Calvert Hall alumnus whose personal mark improved to 8-3 against the Dons. “It doesn’t happen without them.”

This article was originally written and produced by the Varsity Sports Network, the area’s leader in high school athletics coverage. For complete coverage of all high school sports in Baltimore and Maryland, go to www.varsitysportsnetwork.com.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

With some slim pickings across the Matchday 13 slate and Matchday 14 kicking off less than forty-eight hours after its conclusion, we will be bringing you a compilation of the best the English Premier League has to offer over the next five days.  The action will kick off later this afternoon so if you can duck out of work a little early and call it a week you can catch every game live across the NBC family of networks or, if you are stuck at the office, online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, November 25 (all times eastern)

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC

The marquee matchup of the weekend will wrap up the Saturday fixtures when Chelsea, fresh off their third clean sheet in as many weeks with a 4-0 win over the toothless and now manager less West Brom to move up to third place in the table followed up with a victory by the same score line over Champions League minnows Qarabag to book their place in the final sixteen of Europe’s top club competition with a game to spare, travel to Anfield for a showdown against fellow English footballing giants Liverpool, who had little trouble in the league getting past Southampton 3-0 and grab their third straight win.

The trouble for the Reds came in the mid-week when they squandered a three-goal halftime advantage against Sevilla and missed out on a chance to book their place in the knockout stages, which leaves them needing at the very least a result from their final group stage matchup at home to Spartak Moscow to secure their place.  They must first however contend with a Chelsea side that sit three points ahead of them in the table and who are unbeaten the last six times they have made the trek to Anfield, although Liverpool have not lost in their last five meetings in the league with the Blues (W2 D3).

Sunday, November 26 (all times eastern)

9:00am – Arsenal @ Burnley – Turf Moor, CNBC

Every time we are ready to stick a fork in Arsenal and the future of long serving manager Arsene Wenger they go and put in a performance that makes their inconsistencies from week to week even more frustrating and mind boggling.  They shrugged off any suggestions of Tottenham taking over as the top club in the north of London when they beat their arch rivals 2-0 to hold bragging rights until at least the reverse fixture later this season and they will try to avoid falling in to the all too familiar big game let down when they travel to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, who got past Swansea City 2-0.

The victory made it three in a row for Burnley and gave the club their first hat trick of top-flight wins since 1975, as they kept hold of seventh place in the table and stayed level on points with Arsenal on twenty-two.  While its way too early for the Clarets to start dreaming of a top four finish, they could improbably jump over both Arsenal and Liverpool with a win on Sunday morning although that may be a tough ask, as the Gunners have won the last six meetings across all competitions and dropped only one of their last ten between the two, including just one of their last five trips to Turf Moor (W3 D1).

Tuesday, November 28 (all times eastern)

3:00pm – Manchester United @ Watford – Vicarage Road, NBC Sports Network

After dropping two of their previous three games in the league (W1), Manchester United were back in the win column with the help of a goal and an assist from Paul Pogba, who made his return to the starting eleven after two months out with a hamstring injury, helping the Red Devils to score four unanswered in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United.  They will travel to Vicarage Road next week to help kick off Matchday 14 against Watford, with the Hornets snapping their three-game losing streak and spoiling David Moyes return to the Premier League in a 2-0 victory over West Ham United.

The return of Pogba could be the final piece of the puzzle that United need to make a concerted push to catch Manchester City at the top of table, with the French international adding a new dimension to what could be a potentially devastating midfield.  If they can get past Brighton at the weekend, which will be no easy task as the Premier League new boys are unbeaten in their last five (W2 3) and holding a spot in the top half of the table, and navigate the trip Watford, where they have dropped only one of their last thirteen matchups across all competitions (W12), they can keep the pressure on City.

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Thursday
November 23
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issue 23
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happy thanksgiving!


If you're a regular reader of #DMD, you know we don't take days off here.

We've published a new edition every single day since the website started rolling back on August 25, 2014.

I'm very thankful for the ability to have done that. Lots of people have made that a reality, both behind the scenes and front-as-center as writers and contributors.

We're grateful for everyone who has ever supported #DMD as a corporate partner. Those who you see on the page today deserve a special thanks. A large number of them have been with us since day one, just like many of you.

So, while we won't officially "take the day off" today, you will see a scaled down version of #DMD.

This, you might say, is our way of taking a moment to pause, reflect, give thanks and spend as much time as possible with our family.

There will be sports today, both locally and nationally, and tomorrow we'll be right back here with a full-fledged edition of #DMD. But today's entry will be brief.

I'll be heading to Towson University this morning for the 10:00 am "Turkey Bowl" battle between Calvert Hall and Loyola. I obviously have a horse in the race, so I'll be wearing red and rooting on the Cardinals, but all we really need is a good football game with no injuries and, in that event, everyone wins.

If you can't make it to the stadium (tickets are available at the door), the game is broadcast on Channel 2, with Scott Garceau and Tom Matte in the booth and Jamie Costello on the sidelines.

I can say, as someone who has been at Calvert Hall several times over the last couple of weeks as potential incoming freshmen complete their "shadow days", that the school and the football team are genuinely excited about the 98th edition of the game. The respective records of the two teams don't matter. It's "the game", year after year, and 2017 is no different.

Afterwards, we'll enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with my wife's family.

We're thankful for that treat, as my children get to see their grandparents, aunts and uncles -- and the holiday spoiling season officially begins for my two little ones!

I'm sure at some point I'll sit down and watch some football as well.

The Lions-Vikings game should be a good one and the Chargers and Cowboys are both clinging to flickering playoff hopes, so the late afternoon contest in Dallas is very meaningful for both teams.

If I'm still awake at 8:30, I'll check out the evening game from D.C., but the Redskins-Giants tilt might be one that you won't mind missing.

For the most part, though, I'm relaxing, spending time with my family, enjoying some great food, and giving thanks for the many blessings in my life.

I can't possibly reach out to all of you individually to say "Thank You" for visiting #DMD, but please know I'm thankful for your support and patronage, whether you're a daily visitor, occasional visitor or once-in-a-blue-moon visitor.

If you come here, I'm thankful to have you with us.

I hope you have a great day with family and friends. Take a moment to thank them for the contributions they've made to your life.

Be thankful for everything you have.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

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let's be thankful for these five teams


Since we do sports here, and there are a bunch of seasons running together on this Thanksgiving Day, it's only natural to pause and give thanks to certain teams.

In that spirit, let's say a special "Thank You" to these five teams:

Minnesota Wild

Winnipeg Jets

Calgary Flames

Vancouver Canucks

New York Islanders

Those five teams have, in consecutive games, defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, sending the Flyers to a six-game losing streak overall (Minnesota beat them in back to back games back on November 11-14).

The only thing better than a Flyers six-game losing streak? A seven-game losing streak, which is on the line this Friday afternoon at 4 pm when Philadelphia faces off against the Islanders in the city of Brotherly Love.

It's OK if you're secretly pulling for the Islanders to win and extend the Flyers' misery. We all are.

Happy Thanksgiving to the Wild, Jets, Flames, Canucks and Islanders. Everyone's turkey will taste just a bit better today for the deeds you've done over the last two weeks.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see ELO next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

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Wednesday
November 22
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issue 22
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the golf ball "war" is heating up


For as long as I can remember, the sport of golf has enjoyed a relatively scandal-free life.

It's not the NFL, where controversy seemingly reigns supreme nearly every single day.

Baseball was soured by steroids and PED's throughout the 1990's and, even now, still has moments of distrust from the folks -- like me -- who buy tickets.

Golf, for whatever reason, has breezed along nicely.

But there's a brewing issue in the sport that is not only making headlines, but leading some of the top people in the game to butt heads and create waves.

It centers on the golf ball.

Now that he's in the golf design business, Tiger Woods is starting to be concerned with how far the golf balls travels.

More specifically, it's about the length that players are hitting the ball these days and the wrap-around effect of what it does to the golf course from a playability standpoint.

The main players these days are Tiger Woods, the 14-time major champion, Mike Davis, the Executive Director of the United States Golf Association (USGA), and Wally Uilhein, the CEO of Titleist, who just happen to make and sell the most popular golf ball in the world.

In fairness, Woods is just a bit player in this discussion. This is really a high-level discussion between the folks who run golf (USGA) and the people who make a lot of money off of it (Titleist).

But Woods being who he is and all, when he says something of interest, it turns into headline material.

Tiger's comments a month ago sparked a lot of debate, but they were more rooted in course design than anything else. Woods wasn't suggesting the golf ball was hurting the game or that he needed help keeping up with today's hotshots on TOUR ("I just played with Tiger last week," Rickie Fowler said to The Golf Channel last Friday. "He's hitting it 15 yards by me off the tee.").

Instead, Woods was concerned as a course designer that property needs would continue to expand -- and thus, projects would cost more money -- if the powers-that-be can't figure out a way to get the golf ball to stop going so far.

"We need to do something about the golf ball," Woods said on a podcast with UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma. "I just think [the ball] is going too far."

"With the game progressing as it is, I think the 8,000-yard golf course is not too far away," he said. "That’s pretty scary — we don’t have enough property to start designing these types of golf courses, and it just makes it so much more complicated. … The USGA’s already looking at it. They’re doing some research on what would the world look like if you rolled [the ball] back 10%, 15% and 20%."

Fair points, I'd say, about the relative cause and effect of the ball traveling too far and the property needs widening over time, which would ultimately be felt by the consumer. A golf course that might have required a $150 greens fee would potentially cost $175 or $200 as the property owner looks to make good on their investment.

But Woods -- and the USGA -- are missing the point about the golf ball, length off the tee, and so on.

Davis spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the golf ball and the on-going debate and fanned the flames even more.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

“I don’t care how far Tiger Woods hits it,” Davis continued. “The reality is this is affecting all golfers and affecting them in a bad way. All it’s doing is increasing the cost of the game.”

Uihlein was predictably on the other side of the fence with the argument.

"Is there any evidence to support this canard…the trickle down cost argument?” Uihlein wrote. “Where is the evidence to support the argument that golf course operating costs nationwide are being escalated due to advances in equipment technology?"

The Titelist CEO continued: "The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate," he wrote.

Bingo.

This whole discussion seems to center on the development and design of a "championship course", one that can attract a major event like the U.S. Open or PGA Championship, and also gouge the thirsty golf public out of $400 or $500 to "play where the big boys play".

This is not an argument that 95% of the golfing public cares about. And because of that, it's not an argument that changes the level of enjoyment or excitement 95% of the golfers in our country derive from playing the sport.

Here's the deal: There are professional golfers who compete for wild sums of money on the PGA Tour (and LPGA Tour). There are roughly about 250 of those men in the country who have some sort of playing status on the TOUR. 250 men -- in the entire country.

If you want to change the golf ball for those 250 men, go ahead. Personally, I think that's dumb and I wouldn't do it if I ran the PGA Tour, but if that's what the folks in charge feel is best, go ahead and do it.

The rest of the great unwashed can just tee up whatever ball we want and smash it out there as far as we can. Why would Dustin Johnson or Jordan Spieth care how far some guy in Baltimore hits the ball?

And, realistically, do any of us really care how far the ball is going? And, if you look at the driving data from the last ten years on the PGA Tour, the guy with the longest average off the tee isn't hitting it any further in 2017 than he did in 2013.

Over the last five years, give or take two yards, the player with the longest average drive on TOUR hit it 317 yards. It's not like in 2013 the longest player was 310 and then in 2014 that went up to 314 and then in 2016 it was 320 and last year, it ballooned to 326 yards on average.

The numbers show that guys on TOUR are basically hitting it the same distance off the tee today as they were five years ago.

Ultimately, who really cares?

Oh, that's right, the guys spending money on property care. And the golf course designers apparently care.

Well, I seem to remember Merion Golf Club holding up pretty well back in 2013 at the U.S. Open and it played to an average yardage of 6,996 for the four days.

A golf course doesn't need to be 8,000 yards in length to "contain" the world's best players. It just doesn't.

You can play a major championship on a 7,000 yard course and make it challenging by doing two things. 1) Narrow the fairways to 24-28 yards each, like they did back in the 1970's and 1980's. 2) Grow substantial rough around the greens to penalize players who can't hit the putting surface in regulation.

To wit, you can make any golf course, anywhere, play twice as difficult as any "normal" day by just doing those two things. Narrow the fairways and grow some rough.

The problem with that? The big boys don't like it.

They want wider fairways and less rough because -- you know what's coming -- they want to make more birdies. So do I, by the way. But that doesn't mean the golf course should be tailored to my needs.

The object of a major golf championship is to identify the best player of the week. And that player should routinely be the one that drives it the straightest, hits the most greens and makes the most putts.

I'm speaking for myself here, but generalizing a tad, when I say this: Most of us don't really care what the winning score is in a golf tournament. My preference is to see a major championship hover in the single-digits-under-par territory, but I can also take great pleasure in watching Jordan Spieth shoot -18 at Augusta National like he did back in 2015.

And it didn't bother me in the least last summer to see Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka hit the 675 yard par-5 finishing hole at Erin Hills with a driver and a 4-iron on the final day. If anything, I marvel at the fact that they can do something in two shots that would require me to do with a driver, 5-wood and a 7-iron.

I don't want them to change the golf ball. It's unnecessary, in my opinion.

If course builders want to design a championship course, they can design a great one with 7200 yards of property. All they have to do is be willing to narrow the fairways and grow some rough, despite the objections from the TOUR players.

There's no doubt that length matters in professional golf. A 7200 yard course is more difficult to play than is a 6200 yard course.

We've had this debate over and over about venerable Mount Pleasant right here in Baltimore. TOUR players would eat that place up given its length -- or lack thereof. But if someone set out to make the old lady play as hard and difficult as possible, they'd do two things right away: Narrow the fairways and grow lots of rough.

There's talk of designers building courses that stretch out to 8,200 yards from the tips. Go ahead and do it, but you're just using up space and wasting money you need not waste.

It's not about the golf ball.

It's not about equipment.

It's about requiring acumen and precision and testing one's ability to stay "in the game" while their ball is buried in four inches of rough because they couldn't hit a 24-yard wide fairway.

I've twice in my life shot under par at the East Course at Baltimore Country Club, which I believe to be the most difficult layout and course in Baltimore, with Woodholme CC a close second.

I can say, for certain, that those two rounds (67 and 69) would have been six to eight shots higher had the fairways been 30 yards wide instead of 60 yards wide. It's that simple.

Let's hope the USGA gets it right in the future. It's not about the golf ball. It's about making the sport more difficult for the best players in the world and making the sport easier for those who are just learning how to play it.

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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.


David's column at #DMD typically appears on Thursday, but we're running his weekly piece today in advance of tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day edition.


I was recently in the car pondering what to bloviate about this Thanksgiving week, listening to ESPN’s Mike and Mike as they signed off together for the final time.

At first, I thought it would be worth talking just about that. Make fun of them all you want, but Greeny and Golic were on the air together for 18 years. I listened to them a lot on my travels, and most of the time I enjoyed the lightness behind the show. They did commercial sports radio, without any agenda, and it worked thanks to their chemistry and the national influence of ESPN.

The final show, not surprisingly, was four hours of well-earned self-referential tribute. I suppose I could have done without so many of the guests thanking the duo for advancing their respective careers.

Even with all of that, I’m glad I listened just to hear what Bill Curry, the former Baltimore Colts center and longtime college coach, had on his mind when he was asked about football.

Football, you may have heard, is kind of under attack these days, and a few other American institutions seem to be too.

This is what Curry said, in its entirety, at somewhere around 8:20 a.m. last Friday morning.

Most everybody can remember where we were on September 11, 2001; I remember where I was on September 13, which was Thursday.

I was driving to Birmingham, Alabama, to do the Southern Miss.-Alabama game, because ESPN would not put us on airplanes. And we were going to be told, by cellphone during that trip, whether or not the games would be played.

So I stopped for gas in Attalla, Alabama. And this nice service station attendant said “well Coach, are we gonna play the games this weekend?” And I said “well I don’t know, but you may be the first fan in America to find out.” Then my phone rang, and we were told we weren’t playing.

I go to the guy at the desk and say “well, we’re not playing the games this weekend.” And I’ll never forget his response. His eyes bulged, his jugular stood out, he said “well let me tell you something, Coach. In Attalla, Alabama, Friday night, we’re gonna play football because it means a lot to us.”

I was stunned. And as I drove home I thought “why does it mean a lot in Attalla, Alabama, or College Park, Georgia, or Pueblo, Colorado?"

It means a lot in America because on Friday nights, the community huddles, and people sit together that never sit together the rest of the week. And when somebody’s son scores a touchdown, the most unlikely hugs occur.

Those children that have been raised to hate each other by the sick folks in our culture get in the locker room, they get in the huddle, and they learn to love each other. And that love and respect, regardless of the color of one’s skin, regardless of religion, regardless of national origin, it lasts the rest of your life.

Football’s the only sport in which every player needs every teammate on every play just to survive. The United States of America is structured similarly, and we seemed to have forgotten that fact.

So football is a little more profound than a lot of people understand, and that’s what people need to hear, I think, about our business.

In their 14,000 hours of radio together, on their final day, it must have been the best answer to any question that Mike or Mike ever asked.

I won’t get into a fight with Bill Curry about football being the only sport where every player on every play needs every teammate just to survive. Football is what he knows, the thing to which he’s devoted his life. Others might say the same about a different sport, or about something outside of sports entirely.

But you surely understand what he means.

We seem to be living in a time when unlikely hugs aren’t occurring, even at football games. In fact, they seem to be discouraged. I can’t possibly hug you, what with your different opinion on players kneeling during the national anthem. Maybe I can sit with you, but we won’t be able to talk, since we’ll just start yelling at each other.

Learning to live with each other, through shared experiences outside of our own families and close friends? Well that’s snowflake stuff, I guess. What might be great background material for the story of our lives, the kind of lessons we’ll remember 40 years from now? Well there’s no way those can be more powerful than what separates us in the present.

And do we really need each other so much, in the same way the center needs the quarterback who needs the tailback who needs the offensive line who needs the receivers blocking downfield? Or is our structure, to use the word Bill Curry used, broken beyond repair and changed forever?

These are, to use another word from Curry, profound questions, ones that can’t be answered just by Friday night football games.

Here’s what I can say: there’s no place in Baltimore I’m more likely to talk to a stranger than an Orioles game. I got that from my father, who never sat in a section where he couldn’t find a person with whom to start a conversation about the team. Where else but Camden Yards would I give a high five to some dude I’ve never met?

But that’s so hard to do outside the stadium. I can’t tell you how difficult it was for me during a graduate school exercise, where the instructor sent us out in Fells Point and told us to start talking to people until we found something interesting to write about.

But is it that difficult? Baseball is telling us something.

Every year, the living members of the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins wait at home until the final undefeated team in the NFL loses a game. At that point, each of them open a bottle of champagne to once again celebrate their achievement. Talk about lasting the rest of your life.

I’d bet that not all of those guys liked each other. I’d also bet that thousands of less famous teams, with less famous results, celebrate their great memories in similar ways when they get together 10, 20 or 30 years in the future.

And think about whatever you did last Friday, from the time you awoke to the time you went to bed. Somebody made you laugh. Somebody let you pull ahead so that you could get to the left lane. If you’re young, somebody might have praised you, and somebody might have admonished you so that you might learn something. If you’re old, someone helped you when you needed it. If you were down, someone picked you up.

We need all of those people, just to survive. You just might not realize it at the time.

This is Thanksgiving week, the days when we give appreciation for all that we have. And we should do that to the best of our ability.

But Bill Curry was saying something more, through the lens of football. He was saying that the game, no matter how small, can help teach us the proper way to live during the other 99 percent of our lives.

It can teach us how to talk to each other, and it can teach us how to learn. It can teach us how to give, and it can teach us to accept the help of others. Until, for the best of us, all of that becomes second nature.

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#dmd is heading to philly to see ELO next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

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Tuesday
November 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xl
issue 21
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one man's effort to explain joe flacco


There for a while, Baltimore didn't have these kind of debates.

Throughout the 2000's, it was pretty much all we talked about: quarterbacks.

We beat Kyle Boller to a pulp, dismissed Derek Anderson, laughed at Anthony Wright, enjoyed Steve McNair for a season until he choked against the Colts in a home playoff game, and snickered at Troy Smith.

For almost a decade, we were a team without a quarterback.

Then, suddenly, Joe Flacco showed up and even though he wasn't necessarily "great" right away, he brought with him something none of the others did -- promise.

Now, here we are in 2017 and most of the Baltimore football faithful are done with Flacco.

"Yesterday...all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay."

He's nearly as polarizing right now as was Boller circa 2005 when the Ravens were trying to win with him under center.

How has it come to this?

There will be detractors who try and use statistics to show why Flacco is no longer any good.

They'll mention all the bad games he played. They'll reference the playoff games the Ravens won in spite of Flacco. They'll definitely remind you that if not for Raheem Moore falling down in Denver, Flacco doesn't own a Super Bowl ring.

Statistics are convenient, particularly when you can use them to support your agenda.

Here's what I've learned over nearly a 35 year "lifetime" involved in sports, both on the professional and amateur levels: Statistics don't really mean all that much.

I recall last year in one of our Calvert Hall golf matches, a player from an opposing school hit three fairways in 12 holes, only hit two greens in regulation, yet shot two over par for those 12 holes and beat my guy rather easily.

Afterwards, my player was shocked by the outcome. "I don't understand," he said. "I hit eight fairways and seven greens. He hit three fairways and two greens. I should have won."

"Right," I countered. "You probably should have won. But you're conveniently leaving out the rest of the story. He made three birdies, you made none. He chipped in once, you didn't. You had two three-putts, he didn't have any."

"Forget the statistics," I said. "He won. He made more putts. In the end, his golf was better than your golf."

That's the same sort of thing Flacco enthusiasts and haters do when they make their respective arguments about the Baltimore quarterback.

Now, that's not to say that Joe Flacco doesn't deserve criticism. He most certainly does.

There are things about him that simply don't match up to a man with the career-length he owns and the salary he receives.

But those missing pieces have little to do with statistics. They have to do with playing the game. And understanding it. To me, that's where Flacco has dropped off over the last few years.

It's very difficult for anyone to make an accurate assessment of Joe Flacco this season. The franchise has done next-to-nothing to help him over the last few years, unless you consider drafting a left tackle in the first round in 2016 (Stanley) and signing a decent-but-nothing-more wide receiver in 2017 (Maclin) as "significant".

The team's battered offensive line -- on full, glorious display this past Sunday in Green Bay -- is about as useful as an old 8-track tape you find in your parent's basement. They have their moments, yes, but by and large, the line is constantly changing due to injuries.

The offensive coordinator is a veteran NFL coach who is, at best, in the November of his career. He shows up to work on time, gives an honest day's effort and is, I assume, a solid "company man". But the Ravens' offense is lacking in so many ways that it would be patently unfair to not put some of the blame on Mornhinweg. It's his offense at the end of the day.

This is all to proclaim, of course, that Flacco is not the sole problem with Baltimore's woefully inept offense. If you think he is, I'll simply say, in the kindest way possible, that you should probably take up chess and make that your 2018 hobby. Football is not for you.

That said, Flacco is most certainly part of the problem. Not the sole problem. But part of it.

Rather than quote statistics that can be creatively configured to fit my agenda, I'll simply take you to a play in the 23-20 loss at Nashville on November 5th that perfectly summarizes why Flacco is actually regressing as his NFL career enters its second decade.

Late in the third quarter of that game with the Titans, the Ravens were driving, trailing 16-6.

With 1:22 to go in the quarter, on 2nd and ten, Buck Allen ran for 5 yards, taking the ball to the Titans' 21 yard line.

For reasons no one knows, the Ravens couldn't get the next play off in time and Flacco had to call time-out with 0:38 seconds remaining in the quarter.

No one who has followed the team was surprised by that. The Ravens -- and Flacco -- are notorious for burning senseless time-outs. It's part of their DNA.

What happened next, though, shouldn't be part of any quarterback's arsenal if they've been in the league for a decade, played in three AFC title games, and earn upwards of $20 million a year.

On 3rd and 5, after the time-out, Flacco threw a short pass to Allen, which gained all of four yards. That Flacco threw a pass "under the sticks" isn't the overwhelming element of this review, for we've all seen him do that time and time again.

What is -- or was -- overwhelming is what happened next.

Allen caught the ball and was immediately tackled. There were roughly 28 seconds left on the clock when the ball was placed by the referee and 4th down was signaled. It was, almost precisely, 4th and two inches.

In that very instant, a 10-year veteran with an overload of football sense and acumen would have simply walked to the line of scrimmage, barked a call or two, yelled "hut!" and fallen forward to pick up the two inches and a first down.

That's exactly what Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger would have done.

Instead, Flacco meandered up to the line of scrimmage like a kid walking to detention. He looked up at the clock. Took a step back. Looked up again. And simply let the clock expire.

We all know what happened when the 4th quarter started.

The Ravens tried to run the ball for a first down and were thwarted. That the refs and replay officials both seemingly screwed up the spot and the call isn't important. Not to me, anyway. Truth of the matter? I was almost glad they messed up. Flacco and the Ravens deserved that fate after the way they bungled the end of the third quarter.

I'm not quoting any statistics.

I'm not pointing out "back foot passes", "check downs" or the other buzzwords that people use these days.

I'm showcasing a moment in time where a guy with Flacco's pedigree should have been able to make the right call at the right moment. And he couldn't. Or didn't. Either way, that particular situation tells me much more about him than any statistic, favorable or otherwise.

Now...to this ongoing discussion here and elsewhere that has Flacco in comparison to other quarterbacks in the league, including his former back-up, Tyrod Taylor.

"OK...I gotta get this ball out of my hands quickly. Can't throw off my back foot. No dump offs here. Can't throw into triple coverage either. These talk show callers are driving me nuts."

This, too, is an exercise in futility if you actually know anything at all about sports.

You can't ever take an athlete and "assume" he would have replicated his play and/or statistics for another team in another city.

It simply doesn't work that way.

This has been tried in nearly every sport, but it's the same silly effort no matter if it's baseball, football, basketball or hockey.

Just because a guy hit 42 home runs and drove in 112 runs for, say, the Yankees, doesn't mean in any way at all that he would have done the same thing for your team.

Everything is different. The schedule isn't the same. The hitters surrounding him with the Yankees and different than the ones on your team. The manager is different. The hitting coach is different. Hell, the weather is different. And so, too, is the ballpark.

Trying to make some sort of argument that the Ravens would have been better off with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback in 2013 or 2014 is beyond laughable.

Since anything and everything is possible, they might have been better, but if so, that thought has nothing at all to do with statistics. What Taylor has done in Buffalo isn't germane at all to what he might have done in Baltimore. The two have nothing at all to do with one another.

People are trying to do the same thing today with their Colin Kaepernick "take". They're quoting statistics from Kaepernick's play in San Francisco in 2016, 2015, and 2014.

What Kaepernick did two years ago in San Francisco has zero at all to do with he might achieve -- or not -- in Houston in 2017.

Sure, there's a part of player pursuit that includes statistical review, comparison and faith. Statistics do mean something, after all. But what a player did in one city two years ago can't be clicked on in "cut and paste" form to perfectly fit with what he might do now, in a new city.

No one knows, for sure, if Colin Kaepernick would be any better than Tom Savage in Houston. You can think he would be and that's fine. But saying, "well, look at what Kaepernick did last year in San Francisco" is a worthless addition to the discussion. It doesn't matter what he did last year in another city on another team.

Just say, "I think Colin Kaepernick is better than Tom Savage" and that's that. Please don't quote silly statistics and data from days gone by.

The same, of course, goes for our $100 million man, Joe Flacco.

Let's look at what he does now. And continues to do.

It's of no value to talk about his playoff performance in Denver in 2013 and try to strip away any credit you might give him because a Denver player botched a critical assignment late in the game.

That game is ancient history.

So is his remarkable post-season run in that very same year -- the one which culminated with the Ravens beating the 49'ers in the Super Bowl.

It's all in the past.

What matters is now. What matters is 2017.

I don't think Flacco is playing well so far this season. There are a variety of reasons for that, several of which I addressed above.

But it's most certainly not all his fault. Not by a longshot.

It's easy to watch Joe and detect that some parts of his game have eroded over time. That's natural. The only quarterback in the league who is better right now than he was five years ago is Tom Brady.

I don't know how that's possible, but it sure looks to me like Brady is better than ever in 2017. Maybe those weird pajamas and 62 degree temperatures at bed-time really are extending his career.

Flacco isn't better now than he was in 2012. That, I'm certain, is a fact.

Everything else is just conjecture.

The rest of it is secondary to the most important question of all: Does the team win when Flacco plays quarterback?

If they win with him at quarterback, it's hard to argue against replacing him.

Over the last few years, they haven't been winning. And that, really, is why we're having this discussion in the first place.

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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


Ahh, the NFL. The league where an exceedingly mediocre 5-5 record and a downright painfully bad offense can still leave you in control of your own playoff destiny.

There's a lot of things going wrong in the league right now to create that circumstance, and sooner or later the downright awful game that the Packers and Ravens played on November 19, 2017 may serve as a picture-perfect illustration of what went wrong with this mini-era of NFL football.

Awful quarterbacking from both sides, shoddy coaching, and eye rolling officiating....Sunday's game in Green Bay truly had it all!

In any case, the Ravens managed to be the less atrocious of the two teams at Lambeau Field Sunday, and improved their record to 5-5 while claiming the inside line on the AFC's second wild card berth. The excitement in Baltimore is so thick you can cut it with a knife! In any case, here are the particulars from a 23-0 win that was about as entertaining as Thanksgiving dinner at Art Garfunkel's house.

Having one of his best seasons ever, Jimmy Smith is part of a Ravens defense that has now recorded three shutouts thus far in 2017.

Winners: Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey

Smith continues what may be the best season in the entire NFL at cornerback with another dominant performance and an early red zone interception that could fairly be termed "game changing." Humphrey is getting better each week, more than holding his own against Green Bay's talented receivers and picking up a late interception of his own. If Smith stays healthy, this tandem is going to be REALLY good next season.

Winner: Matt Judon

Broke out with a dominant performance on the outside, wrecking blockers all days and picking up two sacks. He's struggled with run defense all year, but he's finding his footing when it comes to getting after the quarterback.

Winner: Willie Henry

Also added two sacks, and continues to shine when given opportunities. Another mid-round find on the defensive line who is going to be a big time performer for the Ravens.

Winner: Terrell Suggs

The third member of a trio of Ravens with 2 sacks, Sizzle responded to my losing faith in him over the bye week by having his best game since Week One in Cincinnati.

Loser: Austin Howard

James Hurst struggled mightily at left tackle, but I have to give him a pass for that. Hurst has been a punching bag for Ravens fans for years when pressed into playing tackle, but this year he's shown himself to be a very solid guard, especially in pass protection. I just can't hit a guy too hard for struggling when forced to play out of position.

On the other side, Howard doesn't have any such excuse, and he struggled almost as much as Hurst did. His footwork and technique were out of whack all day, and he looked like he was moving with weights on his legs as a result. Howard's been playing pretty darn well since the Oakland game, but this looked more like his game against the Bengals when the Ravens might as well have just run a turnstile out there to block.

Push: Joe Flacco

It's tough to decide which category to put Flacco in this week, so in typical NFL style I'll punt and hope it somehow works out for the best!

Flacco had a superficially acceptable statline, completing 22 of 28 passes along the way, but I have a hard time thinking anyone feels really good about the way the Ravens quarterback handled that game. Heck, for most of the first half it looked like he was trying to show Brett Hundley how a REAL pro quarterback stinks up the joint and, stop me if you've heard this before, threw a redzone interception into near perfect coverage.

That the Ravens only mustered 6 points on 3 turnovers says a lot about how their offense was playing. Yes the offensive line was bad, but good offenses can adjust to that with more quick reads and passes, and at some point the fact that the Ravens never manage to do that has to point to the conclusion that Flacco can't do it.

On the plus side, Flacco delivered a good enough ball for Mike Wallace to make a spectacular touchdown catch that essentially sealed the game, and from then on Joe was smart with the ball and didn't do anything to help out Green Bay.

That was fine in this game, but Flacco still didn't play well enough to make me honestly believe the Ravens can get themselves to 9 or 10 wins and a playoff berth this year.

The big test comes next Monday against Houston. The Texans have been getting shredded by everyone lately, including allowing 257 yards and three passing touchdowns to Blaine Gabbert on Sunday. If the Ravens offense struggles to throw the ball next Monday night, there won't be any room for debate that it's time for wholesale changes on that side of the ball.

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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


The United States seems to be entering another gilded age as the country continues to show signs of meteoric economic growth. For one, if you’re one of the 6.5 million Americans standing in the unemployment Line, you’re in luck. There are tons of jobs available, permitting many to pick an occupation of their choice.

Those looking shouldn’t have to do so very much longer.

And if you don’t see what you like right now, chances are good that the position you desire will be opening up very, very soon.

Or, at least for those seeking a head coaching position in college football.

That’s right, gang, we are on the precipice of a record number of high-quality, uber-visible coaching positions being available this year. And a few of these jobs are already vacant as more and more colleges grow impatient with losing programs and apathetic fans.

They want results and they want them now. Even coaches producing average numbers are being shown the door well before bowl invitations arrive in the mail.

His UCLA teams were good in his first three seasons. But Jim Mora Jr. and the Bruins have fallen on hard times since 2015 and he was booted last week after UCLA fell to crosstown rival USC.

Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UCLA and Oregon State are just a few of the big-time names to ask the coach to take a walk and never look back, so far, this year. Money and expectations have never been higher in the sport and the shelf life for subpar coaching is as short as it has ever been.

Of the 130 current FBS coaches, 100 (77%) have been at their current school fewer than six years, based on recent hires and other data collected by CoachingSearch.com.

To look at it another way, at least 77% of fifth-year seniors are playing under a different coach than the one who recruited them. And this figure is likely higher due to some recruits committing before their senior year in high school.

Since 2000, college football has averaged 25 new head coaching hires per season. The majority of these fresh faces occurred because their predecessor was terminated, not via retirement.

This year is different.

ESPN has projected a minimum of 30 coaches will be ousted either during, or after, the 2017 season. And several talking heads believe this figure will jump as high as 36.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your opinion, Maryland head football coach, DJ Durkin, is not expected to be let go following his disastrous second season in College Park. Despite the feelings of most fans around the state of Maryland who want a change at the top, Durkin appears to be safe in his current position.

At least, for now.

The most toxic issue regarding the quick turnover is the already-committed high school athlete.

Coast-to-coast last week, there were countless ceremonies with high school seniors signing a National Letter of Intent to play a sport at their selected college. There’s no statistic to show this, but one has to wonder how many of these athletes made their decision based on the coach, and not the school. Fortunately, no football players made a commitment last week as the early signing period doesn’t commence until December 20th.

But this date really doesn’t matter, and neither does the original commitment between the school and the player.

Last year, University of Connecticut head football coach, Randy Edsall, destroyed one recruit’s dreams when he reneged on an already existing scholarship offer. The former University of Maryland coach phoned the 210-pound linebacker from Raritan High School in Hazlet, New Jersey and said “We just decided we’re going to go in another direction. We don’t have a spot for you.”

Way to stay classy, Randy.

The recruit originally committed to UConn; however, in the end, it didn’t matter. The recruit is always going to be collateral damage, either from the departing coach or the new hire.

And it’s not only impacting football players.

Just yesterday in Buffalo, New York, the women’s lacrosse head coach at Canisius College suddenly resigned to take the same position at the University of Louisville. The ten girls who signed NLI’s —literally just six days ago — are now left in limbo wondering how their futures so quickly unraveled.

We can all agree college football is a business as it has zero to do with earning a degree for the student-athlete. But if this is the case, and the negative impact is being felt all the way down to the high school level, shouldn’t the players be paid to assume the risk of commitment? A topic for another time, I suppose.

Glory
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#dmd is heading to philly to see ELO next august!


One of the world's iconic bands is back and touring again! For the first time in 34 years, we'll get to see ELO in the United States!!!

#DMD will take you there!!

Jeff Lynne's ELO will perform live at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Friday, August 24, 2018.

You'll hear all the hits: Evil Woman, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Turn To Stone, Mr. Blue Sky and many more!!

This is the closest they'll be to the state of Maryland during their summer 2018 tour.

#DMD has upper concourse and lower concourse tickets available.

For those who already have tickets to the show, we're offering a motor-coach, supper, and tailgate-party only option so you can enjoy the show without worrying about driving, parking, and savoring an adult beverage or two.

Our luxury motor-coach will leave Baltimore at 4:00 pm. Once we're in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, we'll provide supper and a pre-show tailgate party for ELO enthusiasts!

There are three packages available. Just go here for all the details on our ELO trip to Philadelphia.

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Monday
November 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xl
issue 20
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and just like that, ravens are now playoff favorites


Three weeks ago here at #DMD, I suggested the Ravens were in prime position to contend for a playoff spot despite their 4-4 mark at the time.

I got beat up more than Jerry Jones on a league conference call.

This morning, the Ravens are suddenly not only occupying the 6th spot on the AFC's post-season chart, they're now favored to claim one of the two wild berths.

They still have a lot of football left to play, but yesterday's 23-0 whitewashing of an awful Packers team puts Baltimore in the driver's seat. With a 5-5 record. The NFL is one crazy league, huh?

With a playoff spot in 2017, these two will be back in 2018 for their 11th season together in Baltimore.

You can thank the schedule makers and a completely inept Green Bay offense for the Ravens' sudden rise to playoff prominence. And it's fair, I suppose, to sling some credit to the Baltimore defense for their third shutout of the season on Sunday, but there's a decent chance the Packers might get blanked by the University of Wisconsin if those two teed it up next week.

But, as I tried to point out recently, the season is 16 weeks long for a reason.

Some of your opponents are really good, some are competitive given the week, and others are just downright bad teams. The Ravens are now in a stretch where they're going to play (and beat) a bunch of pretty bad teams.

Oh, and don't look now, but Jacksonville could wind up being the three seed in the AFC and the Ravens might be heading south in early January for a winnable game, despite that 44-7 drubbing in London back on September 24.

The Ravens could easily wind up as the five seed, too. And that would potentially match them up with Kansas City. You remember the Chiefs, right? They beat New England in Foxborough on opening night, September 8, then lost yesterday to the Giants in New York, 12-9.

The league's so crazy, Kansas City, who started the season 5-0 and now sits at 6-4, might not even win their division.

All of this playoff prognosticating is just for kicks and giggles. The games will play themselves out and the standings will reflect what happens on the field.

But even the most jaded Ravens observer has to admit they look like a decent bet to make the post-season at this point. And that's a good thing.

That does not mean, by the way, that this edition of the Baltimore Ravens can be classified as a "good team".

I don't think the Ravens are all that good. Their offense is dismal. The defense can man-up on occasion and show some quality, but let's not forget they faced one of the league's all-time worst quarterbacks yesterday in Brett Hundley. Vince Vaughn's character in the movie Wedding Crashers had a better arm.

But the Ravens don't have to be "good" or "really good" to make the post-season, as they're likely going to show in another month or so. They can be average, which is essentially what 9-7 is, and get in, although there's a half-a-chance that Baltimore ends up at 10-6 given what's left on their schedule and the expected results that follow.

They'll beat Houston next Monday night, obviously. That's 6-5.

The game at home against the Lions on December 3rd will be a battle. The Ravens should win there, but Detroit's decent enough to put up a fight and scratch out a win, even.

I can't imagine the Ravens can beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh on December 10. I'll call that one a loss at this point.

And the season ends with a trio of two-foot-putts, as the Ravens will close out the year beating Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Voila!!! Welcome to the playoffs, John Harbaugh.

I've given up trying to figure out the NFL. I stopped doing that a few years back. Now, I mostly just sit back and giggle at how wildly unpredictable the league is and how you'd have to be clincically insane to bet the games with any amount of "real money".

There are two results you know when you wake up every Sunday morning: The Patriots are winning that day. And the Browns are losing that day. Other than that, there's no way at all of knowing the results of any other games, who scores how many points, and who covers the spread or doesn't.

That said, even given the just-stated mercurial nature of the NFL, the Ravens are now clearly in prime position to make the playoffs. At this point, they'd have to royally screw the whole thing up to not get in.

Is everyone ready for the return of Harbaugh-Mornhinweg-Flacco in 2018?

It's coming.

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around the nfl in 95 seconds


BUCCANEERS 30 - DOLPHINS 20 -- Tampa Bay figured out the recipe for winning; replace Jameis Winston. The Bucs are now 2-0 since Winston's injury. Miami needs a quarterback in the worst way. Hey, Jay Cutler is availa -- wait, no, that move probably won't work.

TEXANS 31 - CARDINALS 21 -- Arizona should be ashamed of themselves. For just the second time in his career, Tom Savage authored a victory as a starting quarterback. The Cardinals, predictably, have been lost without the services of Carson Palmer. I'm insanely jealous of Houston for two things: they have a world series champion and their football team has the best helmets/logo in the NFL.

GIANTS 12 - CHIEFS 9 OT -- Did you see how this one ended? New York had 4th and 5 on the K.C. 36 yard line late in overtime. Rather than attempt a 53-yard field goal, they went for it on 4th down. And made it. The Chiefs have now lost four of their last six games.

JAGUARS 19 - BROWNS 7 -- Forget that Jacksonville won. We all knew that was going to happen. Here, though, is why you don't bet on the NFL. The Jags were 8-point favorites. They led 12-7 with two minutes left in the game. Cleveland had the ball deep in their own territory. Sure, the game was still in the balance, so they had to "try" at that stage. Rather than go 4-and-out and turn the ball back to the Jags (who would then take two snaps and end the game), the Browns fumbled the ball and Jacksonville picked it up and scampered into the end zone to give them a 19-7 advantage. The Browns went from covering the spread to not doing so based on a last minute fumble.

LIONS 27 - BEARS 24 -- Chicago missed a 46-yard field goal at the buzzer that would have sent this one to OT. And the Lions (6-4) remain in the NFC playoff hunt by virtue of that win.

VIKINGS 24 - RAMS 7 -- In a showdown of two apparently high-quality teams, the Vikings cruised to an easy win over Los Angeles. The Super Bowl is in Minnesota in February. Could the Vikings actually play in that game? I doubt it. But it's fun to think about, at least.

SAINTS 34 - REDSKINS 31 OT -- With four minutes remaining, the Redskins had a 98.2% chance of winning the game according to the stat nerds at ESPN. They were up 15 points at that point. And......New Orleans scored two touchdowns and tacked on a 2-point conversion to send the game to OT, where they then kicked a field goal to complete the comeback and win their 8th straight game. Example B in today's edition of #DMD why you don't bet on the NFL.

CHARGERS 54 - BILLS 24 -- Much is being made about how the Bills benched Tyrod Taylor and went with some dude named Nathan Peterman, but the Bills were always going to lose this game no matter if Taylor or Peterman played. They just put themselves out of their misery much earlier by starting Peterman. He stinks. But so does Taylor. Don't look now, but the Chargers are 4-6.

BENGALS 20 - BRONCOS 17 -- I don't know if this tells us more about the Bengals or the Broncos, but anytime Cincinnati wins a road game it's big news. John Elway called the Broncos "soft" earlier this week. It didn't go over well in the locker room. If the shoe fits...

PATRIOTS 33 - RAIDERS 8 -- No surprise here. Surgical. Precise. Easy. That's what New England does to everyone. Or, rather, that's what Tom Brady does to everyone.

EAGLES 37 - COWBOYS 9 -- Dallas led in this one, 9-7 at the half. They were completely outclassed in the second half, as the Eagles are now 9-1 and on the virtue of clinching the NFC East in early December. Philly has won eight straight games. The Cowboys are lost without Ezekiel Elliott.

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maryland wins!!!!


We didn't have a state flag to drape around us or we would have, but "Maryland" was the winner of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Scramble over the weekend at the Pinehurst resort.

I was proudly one of four players on that team, joined by Brian Hubbard, Jason Smithberger and Andy Kolarik.

On Saturday, we shot 12-under at Pinehurst No. 8 and yesterday, on a sun-splashed, made-for-post-cards trip around Pinehurst's fame No. 2 course, we put together a blistering 15-under par score that including finishing our round with eight consecutive "3's" on the scorecard.

We talked about that more than anything else on the trip home from North Carolina last night.

Starting at #6 (a long par-3), we went par, birdie (7), eagle (8), par (9), eagle (10), birdie (11), birdie (12) and birdie (13) to finish our round. We started yesterday's event on the 14th hole, hence the 13th hole serving as our closer.

The FCA National Scramble features teams from just about every state, with a few states earning multiple invitations based on the size of their respective state FCA membership totals. Half the field plays at each course (No. 2 and No. 8) on both days.

The tournament serves as a national fund-raiser for FCA. Last Monday at Eagle's Nest, Brian Hubbard's "Flag Tournament" raised money specifically for FCA Lacrosse.

We had a memorable trip around No. 2 yesterday, that's for sure.

If you're a golfer and you've never been to Pinehurst, it's a "must-do" on your lifetime bucket list. You'll need to save some extra money for the fee to play No. 2, but it's worth it. The other courses at the resort are excellent as well, but No. 2 is the charmed beauty of them all.

Yesterday, for a few hours at least, a group of four guys from Maryland tamed her.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 11


Sunday — November 19, 2017
Volume XXXX — Issue 19

Baltimore Ravens at Green Bay Packers

1:00 PM EST

Lambeau Field
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Spread: Ravens -2


this is a big one today for ravens


This game today at Lambeau Field won't formally decide the Ravens' playoff fate, but I'm willing to bet come end of December it will factor prominently in whether or not John Harbaugh's team plays post-season football.

At the start of the season, we all circled this game in Green Bay as a loss. But that was when Aaron Rodgers was healthy and taking every snap behind center for the Packers.

Without him, no matter what happened last Sunday in Chicago, Green Bay is a league bottom feeder.

Can Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense get Mike Wallace going today in Green Bay?

Heck, the Ravens are 4-5 with one of the most unpredictable offenses in the entire NFL and they're actually favored in today's game.

That says far more about the Packers and their Rodgers-less plight than it does about the Ravens, trust me. And, while Vegas knows a thing or two about football teams, scores and potential outcomes, they could easily miss the mark with this game today.

The Ravens are capable of doing just about anything this afternoon at Lambeau Field.

They could come out with their chakras in line like they did in Oakland back in early October, score a couple of early touchdowns, suffocate the Packers, and win with ease by the tune of 33-17.

Or, as they did in Minnesota a couple of weeks after that stunning road win over the Raiders, the Ravens could stumble and bumble their way through a listless offensive performance and fall in a bore-fest by 20-10.

Let's be honest. The Ravens lost to Case Keenum. And Blake Bortles. And even though he didn't actually do much of anything, Mitch Trubisky even beat John Harbaugh's team.

If the Ravens can lose to those three this season, they can sure lose to some guy named Brett Hundley.

But they better not.

This one, today, will go a long way in determining Baltimore's playoff future.

Sure, they'll have to win a bunch of other games down the stretch, but, like today, they'll be favored in nearly all of their final six games in 2017.

They need this contest to go their way this afternoon at Lambeau Field.

Come the end of December, this one might extend their season or send them to the college football highlight reels after the New Year.

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keys to today's game


For the Ravens --

Score in the first quarter: If you believe in such things, the numbers suggest the Ravens will win or lose this one based on what they do on offense in the opening 15 minutes. In three of their four wins thus far in 2017, the Ravens scored at least one touchdown in the first quarter. In the other win, against the Bengals, they recorded a first-quarter field goal en-route to a 20-0 shutout of Cincinnati. So this one's easy to figure out. The Ravens stand an excellent chance of winning if they can score a touchdown (or more) in the first quarter.

Pressure Hundley: The Baltimore defense needs to step up today, particularly given that Brett Hundley is largely inexperienced and likely very susceptible to a turnover or two if the Ravens can stress him. Dean Pees needs to dial up a defense that focuses on constant pressure, even at the expense of perhaps playing man-coverage in any down and distance situation. Whether it's Suggs or the linebackers or Webb and another defensive back blitzing, the Ravens must make life tough for Hundley for sixty minutes.

Go downfield, Joe: This one will be music to Flacco's ears. The Ravens need to get the ball downfield today. Remember that first play at Oakland? The long sideline throw to Mike Wallace set up a wild, wild west type of performance from Flacco and the receivers against the Raiders. Let Flacco go today. He'll like that.



For the Packers --

Hurry up, hurry up: It might seem dangerous to go hurry-up with Hundley in there behind center, but the Packers would be smart to mix in a lot of hurry-up offense today and keep the Ravens from being able to get blitz-package personnel in the game at any time of their choosing. It doesn't have to be every series, of course, but the more the Packers mix it up, the better their chances of catching the Ravens with a bad mix of personnel on the field.

Close down the Baltimore running game: In order for Flacco to get put in the spotlight and be forced to make something happen, the Packers have to contain the Ravens running game. As we know after watching two years of Marty Mornhinweg at the helm, he'll abandon the run if Baltimore clocks in with 39 yards on 13 carries in the first half. Getting Flacco to throw the ball 35 or more times is paramount to the Packers and their chances for success.

Take the points: With the weather potentially a factor and the possibility of the Baltimore offense staggering through another sixty minutes, the Packers should take any chance for points today. This could easily be a 13-10 game. Score whenever you can.

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how drew sees today's game


Everything about today's contest in Green Bay points to the Ravens winning.

Well, except for the fact that it's a road game and we've seen time and time again that the Jekyll and Hyde version of the Ravens often shows up away from Baltimore.

If it's a road game, there's a good chance Justin Tucker will play a key role for the Ravens today.

Other than that, though, everything favors John Harbaugh's team.

Our quarterback is better than their quarterback.

For the first time since the season opener, Danny Woodhead is available for duty. He should help.

The Ravens are coming off their bye. Green Bay played last Sunday in Chicago.

Even though they're technically still alive in the NFC playoff race, the Packers are probably well aware that this is a lost season without Aaron Rodgers engineering things at quarterback.

The Ravens are in the thick of the AFC race and, because there really aren't many other good teams in the hunt with them, this is a critical contest in Green Bay this afternoon. They need a win more than the hosts, truth be told.

Nothing at all points to Green Bay winning today.

And they won't.

The Ravens will jump out early with a first quarter TD throw from Flacco to Maclin and they'll build a 13-3 halftime.

Green Bay will connect with a 3rd quarter TD to make it 13-10, but a fourth quarter Flacco quarterback sneak will finalize the scoring and give the Ravens a 20-10 win to improve 5-5 on the year.

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show me the money


Right on cue, "Show Me The Money" is on a two-week winning streak and piling up the holiday shopping funds for you.

Our "Expert-Super-Insider" is back for week three, having compiled a 3-2 mark a week ago to go with his debut record of 3-1-1 back on November 5.

Since you have Christmas gifts to buy, let's get to the games so you can go out and do some shopping around 4:30 pm today.

BILLS AT CHARGERS (-5.5) -- The Bills offensive line is a mess. They're starting a rookie quarterback. They're traveling across country. Los Angeles is a bit of an iffy pick here based on Philip Rivers and his concussion status, but late-week-practice-signs point to him playing today in L.A. This one goes to the Chargers, as they cover the 5.5 points and beat up on the misfits from Buffalo, 30-17.


LIONS (-3) AT BEARS -- In a match-up between Stafford and Trubisky, there's a clear favorite. And it's not the rookie. As long as Detroit doesn't turn the ball over offensively, Chicago won't be able to score enough points to survive in this one. It's close, and the Bears have a chance at the end, but the Lions hold on to cover and win, 23-17.


CHIEFS (-10) AT NY GIANTS -- The Giants are 1-9. They lost last week to the 49'ers. They're a wreck. Kansas City could win this game by just about any score they want. But this is the week the Giants fight and scratch and gain some respectability, even if they don't come out on top. We're going with the Giants as 10-point home underdogs, but K.C. kicks a late field goal to pull out a 24-23 win.


JAGUARS (-8) AT CLEVELAND -- So much of this game depends on the availability of running back Leonard Fournette. If he plays, Jacksonville could win in a romp. If he doesn't, things are much potentially much different. Cleveland's defense is actually fairly respectable. And the Jags could be due for a letdown. We're taking the Browns and the 8 points at home, and even going so far as to call a Cleveland upset win, 17-16.


EAGLES (-5) AT COWBOYS -- A prime-time divisional game where the home team is getting 5 points? Really? I realize the Cowboys don't have Ezekiel Elliott, but this one is too inviting to pass up. Against what some would consider conventional wisdom, we're taking Dallas here, to both cover and win. The Eagles get the cleat of reality and the Cowboys stay alive in the NFC playoff race with a 27-23 home victory.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- The Chargers win in a romp at home over Buffalo, 30-17. Take L.A. and give the 5.5 points here.

THIS SEASON TO DATE: 22-27-1

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 4-6



Saturday
November 18
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issue 18
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a story about a hole-in-one


I have no idea at all what her name was, where she was from or how many times she had done it before.

In a strange way, though, that made the whole scene even more interesting.

Yesterday at approximately 3:55 pm, I witnessed a hole-in-one.

To say I actually witnessed it would be a fib. But I was there. I saw it, sort of. I heard it. Or, that is, I heard the people around her roaring with approval when the ball found the bottom of the cup.

The accomplishment took place at "The Cradle" in Pinehurst, North Carolina. I'm at Pinehurst for the weekend playing in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes national scramble with three friends. We arrived late Thursday night and had time for a late stroll around The Cradle on Friday afternoon.

The par-3 course at Pinehurst -- The Cradle -- provided for some Friday afternoon dramatics yesterday.

For the uninitiated, The Cradle is a collection of nine, par-3 holes that just opened at the Pinehurst resort last summer. It sits on the piece of property that formerly was the first hole of the #3 and #5 courses.

It's 687 yards in length is The Cradle.

But it's a tough 687 yards.

The length of the holes range from 50 yards to 125 yards, with most of them roughly 75 yards or so.

They built this course over a six-month period at the start of 2017. They saw it as a place where golfers of all types could come together and zip around in one hour or so and play "real" golf while enjoying the fact that it didn't take forever to play and they'd likely still have their "golfing sanity" at the end of the round.

To wit, my eyes saw a foursome of serious golfers, a family of four, including a teen-age son and younger daughter, and two couples, one of which toted a newborn baby along as they all took turns hitting shots, laughing, and taking pictures with their phones.

"This," I said to no one in particular, "is exactly what they had in mind when they built this course. Everyone can play, for a variety or reasons, and get whatever they want out of it."

The greens on The Cradle are treacherous. The bunkering is perfect. Some of the holes are easy. Some are wildly challenging, even though you can literally throw the ball from the tee to the green on nearly every one of them.

The 4th hole is called "Over The Hill". It's perfectly situated for an event like the one I saw yesterday.

#4 sits approximately 25 yards from the 9th tee. To the left of the tee box is the 8th green, some 30 yards away at most. If people were putting on the 3rd green, it would be possible for four different groups of golfers to be in the neighborhood of the 4th tee box.

I was stationed in a golf cart, roughly 100 yards from the 4th tee. I had just played my nine holes with friends and a couple of us were relaxing and contemplating what kind of pizza to order later that night when I heard the screams.

I'm not sure if you've ever made a hole-in-one before, but there's something primal in all of us that forces out a scream when you hit a golf ball into the hole in one shot from the tee box.

It's so shocking when it happens. You play for years and years. You hit good shots, bad shots, shots that were memorable, shots you'd like to forget and, once or twice in your lifetime, shots that can't be duplicated.

I've made four hole-in-ones. The last one was January 1, 2007. I remember it like it was yesterday. It might be the last one I ever make or I might make one later today at Pinehurst #8.

That's why you scream in delight when you make a hole-in-one. You have no idea, none at all, if it's happening today, tomorrow or ever again.

The screams could be heard all over The Cradle and the accompanying large putting green at the resort.

"That's a hole-in-one!" I said to a friend as we immediately looked over in the direction of the sound.

In that instant, applause broke out.

The late Friday afternoon push to get in nine holes at The Cradle had the course filled with players. The group of four on the 9th tee erupted in applause and doffed their caps.

The woman who holed the shot celebrated with what looked to be three other female companions, although I couldn't say for sure if that was the case. They high fived and danced a jig and she bowed to those applauding from the 9th tee.

A family of three playing on the 3rd green raised their putters in recognition of the feat.

The closest group, putting out on the 8th green just to the left of the 5th tee, stopped what they were doing to celebrate the feat with her, clapping and cheering as if the shot somehow jumped them up a few places in a Saturday morning club tournament.

Everyone celebrated.

Oddly, the applause continued for ten or fifteen seconds. It was golf's version of a standing ovation, I suppose.

Have you been in a room before where everyone who was gathered stood up and applauded? You always find yourself sneaking a peak around you to see if anyone else has taken a seat yet. No one wants to be the first person to say, "OK, I've stood up and clapped long enough."

The lingering applause and whistles from those surrounding the 4th tee reminded me of that scene. Everyone just kept cheering and clapping, perhaps because they felt the whole thing deserved that adulation or maybe they just didn't want to stop first.

Either way, it was a reaction I'm sure the woman who hit the shot will never forget. There, for a moment, she was a champion golfer.

The afternoon sky was littered with a few clouds, but the sun beating down on that area of The Cradle made for an illuminating picture that made it look like a Hollywood movie crew was on hand to film the whole thing for an upcoming film.

The natural light only added to the beauty of the whole thing.

How many hole in ones is that for her? I wondered.

Being a new course and all, how many hole-in-ones had The Cradle yielded so far? Was there a chance the one I just "witnessed" on #4 was the first-one ever?

What club did she use? Did she pure the shot or skank it off the bottom groove and get the benefit of a fortunate bounce? Either way, it's a hole-in-one, but that's always a great part of the story.

Did she call it in the air? That happens, you know. "Get in the hole!" you'll say as the ball flies right at the pin. Nearly every single time you've said that in your life, the ball didn't go in the hole. But once or twice, a few more if you're really lucky, the ball actually will go into the hole in one shot, just as you commanded it to do mid-flight.

I kept thinking about the woman who made the hole-in-one as she and her group of fellow competitors approached the green to retreive her ball from the cup.

How long has she been playing golf? What if she just picked up the game in September and this was only her third or fourth time playing on a "real" course?

"What if," I asked myself -- no, this couldn't happen -- "today was the very first time she'd ever actually been on a golf course?"

As she picked the ball up out of the cup, she did what everyone does who authors a hole-in-one. She waved it in the air, as if an adoring crowd of thousands was there on the property cheering for her.

A few cars passed by on the road that borders the entrance to the resort. If they happened to be looking over in that direction at precisely the moment she was waving the ball, they'd have no idea of the circumstances they were seeing.

The folks on the 3rd green minutes before were now standing on the 4th tee. They applauded as she acknowledged them with a wave.

And then, just like that, people went back to their own games and the moment was done.

But that was something I'll likely not forget.

The late day sun continued to soak the course. The next group approached the 4th tee and played their shots.

I watched with keen interest, wondering, against all odds, if someone in that threesome could ace the 4th hole as well.

No one made a sound, so I assumed they didn't.

If you've been fortunate enough to make a hole-in-one, feel free to share a story or two in the Comments section below.

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with or without stanley, ravens need a win tomorrow


There's no sense in making a big deal about it because no one is offically going to "feel sorry" for the Ravens if offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley doesn't play on Sunday in Green Bay.

But it is a big deal. Stanley is an important player. And the Ravens need him tomorrow at Lambeau Field.

Can Joe Flacco and the Ravens withstand the absence of Ronnie Stanley in Green Bay on Sunday?

If he can't go -- Stanley is in concussion protocol and is listed as "doubtful" for the game -- that puts even more pressure on Joe Flacco to somehow figure out a way to get the Ravens into the win column minus the services of his most reliable offensive tackle.

Tomorrow is no different than any other game the Ravens play. It's going to come down in large part to how Flacco performs.

It always does.

Green Bay is a team without an identity right now, even though they scored what was viewed by most folks -- including the oddsmakers in Vegas -- as an upset last Sunday when they won at Chicago.

One player's absence has completely changed not only their season, but the manner in which everyone looks at their games, regardless of opponent or venue.

With Aaron Rodgers, the Packers were a legitimate threat to win every game. They didn't win them all, of course, but they could beat any team, in any stadium, with Rodgers at the helm.

When he went out in week four with a fractured collarbone, the Packers became the New York Jets.

They could lose to any team from here on in with Brett Hundley at quarterback instead of Rodgers.

Let's hope the Ravens are one of those teams on Sunday.

But Stanley's injury, while it doesn't necessarily level the playing field completely, potentially opens up the bleeding for a Baltimore offense that has been less than stellar even when the former first round pick is available for duty.

If the Ravens offense has been pedestrian with the talented offensive tackle on the field, how bad might they struggle tomorrow if he's sidelined?

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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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Friday
November 17
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issue 17
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how are the steelers that good?


This one is kind of hard to write. It's not nearly as tough as authoring something of a complimentary nature on the Philadelphia Flyers, but fortunately I don't have to worry about penning that piece.

Unless I decide to write something here titled, An essay on the worst franchise in the history of sports, I won't be focusing on the Flyers anytime soon here at #DMD.

So here's the deal: I'm wondering why the Steelers can get the job done on a regular basis and the Ravens can't?

I doubt very much that they'll beat the Patriots when the chips are down in January, but I watched the Steelers dismantle the Titans last night and I couldn't help but ask time and time again: "Why are the Steelers so much better than the Ravens?"

Is coaching a significant difference between the Steelers and Ravens? Is Mike Tomlin that much better than John Harbaugh?

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't see any way the Ravens would beat Tennessee 40-17 in Baltimore.

So, why are the Steelers -- now 8-2 -- so much better than the Ravens?

Is it the quarterback?

The offensive coordinator?

Their three quality wide receivers?

A running back who can "only" gain 45 yards on 14 carries in the first half, then finish the game with 130 yards on 21 carries?

How about this? It's all of the above.

But here's the thing about Pittsburgh: Unlike the Patriots, who will beat you into a pulp in Foxborough or on the road, the Steelers are a bit of wild child.

They're a tough out at Heinz Field, as the Titans found out last night. But they're not really all that good on the road. Mostly, they do just enough to win, like last Sunday when they stole a game in Indianapolis that they had little business winning.

But they win.

I'm not completely mystified by their 8-2 mark as opposed to the Ravens and their 4-5 record. Pittsburgh's quarterback, despite his age and wear and tear, is still miles better than our guy in Baltimore. That's the truth. It hurts sometimes.

This isn't meant to be a glorifying piece about the Steelers. I'd like nothing more than to see them get extinguished early in the post-season.

Instead, I'm wondering what it is about them that the Ravens can't replicate?

I don't think Mike Tomlin is light years ahead of John Harbaugh. He's a good coach and all, but is Tomlin that much better than Harbs?

Is Todd Haley an offensive wizard? True, he might be better than Marty Mornhinweg, but is Haley the difference between the two franchises?

I don't see Pittsburgh's defense as anything special at all. They follow the same basic formula as the rest of the team. Their defense is usually reliable at home and sometimes suspect away from Heinz Field.

Honestly, I don't think the Steelers defense is remarkably better than the Ravens.

So, I'll ask again. What is it?

Why are the Steelers 8-2 and cruising to another AFC North title and the Ravens are locked in a playoff battle with the Buffalo Bills?

Yes, I'm aware of the most obvious difference. They have three terrific receivers and a high quality tight end. We don't. I guess that's a piece of the puzzle that I haven't really considered all that much.

The Steelers have Antonio Brown, JuJu Schuster-Smith, Martavis Bryant and Jesse James.

Baltimore has Mike Wallace, Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and whatever tight end isn't hurt or suspended for PED's that week.

A keen football enthusiast would tell me that's probably the biggest edge the Steelers have over the Ravens.

I might agree with that, but there's something about their quarterback that always sticks out.

He's a winner. It's not always pretty. He's certainly capable of throwing in a clunker on any given Sunday.

But Roethlisberger is the knuckleball pitcher that confounds you despite the fact you know what he's throwing.

While Joe Flacco is about as energetic as a jigsaw puzzle, Roethlisberger bounces around week after week and defies common logic. He should be slowing down by now. And he is, actually. Big Ben's on the 16th hole of his career, I'd say, but he's still making birdies when the course suits his eye.

Even with all that tread gone from his tires, there he was last night -- looking like Big Ben circa 2008 -- on three days rest, slicing and dicing the Titans' defense for 55 minutes until Tomlin called off the dogs with his team up by 23 points.

Like virtually everyone else in Baltimore, my stomach turns watching the Steelers win and their fans rejoice.

But as #DMD's David Rosenfeld noted yesterday in his outstanding piece, part of being a "good fan" is looking at the other team(s) and admitting that they do it right.

Somehow, the Steelers seemingly do it right almost every year.

Why can't the Ravens do it, too?

I wish I knew.

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expect big things from this guy in 2018


My dear friend and #DMD surgeon general George McDowell is going to have a complete cow when he reads this one.

I'm turning off my phone for a few hours to save myself from having to read the nasty e-mails and texts.

As we approach the end of the 2017 calendar year and move forward into -- can't believe I'm writing this -- the year 2018, I'm going to author several pieces on "expect big things from him/her in 2018".

Ready to break out in 2018?

Today is the debut of that theme.

I hope George doesn't choke on his morning coffee.

I think Rickie Fowler is going to have a career-changing year in 2018.

George? George? You still with us, my friend?

Someone get George a cold washcloth and throw on Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. We need to revive him, quickly.

Fowler's ready.

And when I say "ready", I mean he's on the verge of doing something really special. As in -- win the Masters. Or a U.S. Open. "Something special" in golf is about one thing: winning a major championship.

Fowler is ready to do that. He's good enough to do that. And I think, in 2018, he's going to do that.

There's nothing about Rickie's golf game that restricts him from winning a major championship. He's won enough times on TOUR and played well enough under the most extreme conditions (majors, Olympics, Ryder and Presidents Cups) to warrant the serious thought that his time has come at Augusta National or any of the other major venues in 2018.

Fowler doesn't really have any sort of significant, major weakness in his game. He's not Colin Montgomerie, who regularly contended for major titles over a decade or more in the 1990's and 2000's but couldn't make a putt that mattered when the game was on the line.

Lee Westwood was one of the game's best ball strikers for a dozen or so years but couldn't chip and putt like a major champion and, sadly, still hasn't captured one of golf's four big events.

Matt Kuchar does everything just fine, but he can't close, as he showed us all in high-definition last summer at the British Open when he allowed Jordan Spieth to run past him in the final hour of Sunday's back nine.

Fowler is better than all three of those players. And that's saying something. Montgomerie's a Hall of Famer, Westwood will get in someday, and Kuchar might as well.

Rickie Fowler will be a World Golf Hall of Fame member. You can count on that.

And I have a funny feeling that 2018 is going to be the year his career really kicks off.

I'm sorry, George.

You're going to need to find a new whipping boy in the world of golf.

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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 year in the rearview mirror and the field of thirty-two teams for the summer’s World Cup in Russia officially set – which will be without world footballing giants such as Italy, Netherlands, and Chile to help ease the sting of the USA missing out – the English Premier League returns to action with a massive showdown in the capitol to kick off Matchday 12 on Saturday morning.

Full focus will be on the league over the next few months with only a handful of teams navigating Champions League responsibilities so be sure to tune in bright and early as the campaign really starts to heat up with every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, November 18 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Tottenham @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sports Network

If Arsenal falls at home to Tottenham this Saturday, it might be the beginning of the end for Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.

Tottenham avoided defeat for the second time in as many weeks when Son Heung-Min became the highest-scoring Asian player in Premier League history with his 64th minute strike enough to see Spurs past the desperate Crystal Palace 1-0 in their London Derby. They will kick off the weekend in the biggest capitol derby of them all when they travel across town to visit arch rivals Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium for the North London Derby, with the Gunners still licking their wounds after they became just the next team in a growing line so far this season to be run over by Manchester City in a 3-1 defeat.

Any hopes of mounting a title challenge were effectively put to bed with the defeat as Arsenal find themselves in sixth place in the table and twelve points back of the runaway league leaders. A top four finish will be the new goal although the Gunners, sitting four points back of their weekend opponent and three back of fourth place Chelsea, cannot afford to fall further off the pace against a Spurs side who are enjoying their longest ever unbeaten run against their rivals, having not left empty handed from their last six meetings in the league (W2 D4) and their last three trips to the Emirates Stadium (D3).

10am – Manchester City @ Leicester City – King Power Stadium, NBC Sports Network

The victory over Arsenal made it ten wins from their eleven league outings so far this season for Manchester City (D1), with the thirty-one-point haul and matching goal differential marking the best ever start to a top flight campaign at this stage. They will look to maintain their stranglehold on the top of the table when they travel to the King Power Stadium for a matchup with Leicester City, who for the third-year running shared the points on the road with Stoke City in a 2-2 draw to stay unbeaten in their last five in the league, the last two of which came with new manager Clade Puel at the helm (W2 D3).

With losses in three of their first four league games to open the season (W1) and languishing near the bottom of the table, Leicester City seems to have righted the ship following the dismissal of Craig Shakespeare and the appointment of Puel, although they will face the unenviable task tomorrow of trying to slow down a rampaging City side that, despite dropping two of the last three meetings with the Foxes (W1) including this fixture last season, are unbeaten on the road in the campaign (W5) and have lost only one of their last eight trips to the King Power Stadium (W4 D3).

Sunday, November 19 (all times eastern)

11am – West Ham United @ Watford – Vicarage Road, NBC Sports Network

Following weeks of speculation, West Ham United finally parted ways with manager Slaven Bilic after his side slept walk through the first half in an eventual 4-1 defeat to Liverpool just before the international break. A familiar face has been handed the reigns and will be on the touchline for his 500th Premier League match as manager when David Moyes and the Hammers visit Watford at Vicarage Road for the only game on the Sunday slate and the Hornets still reeling after squandering a two goal second half advantage against the offensively challenged Everton to fall for the third week in a row 3-2.

While a sputtering Watford side may look like a good spot to get his tenure off on the right foot Moyes, eager to shake off his disastrous spell at Manchester United and his relegation while calling the shots at Sunderland just last season, takes over a West Ham side that have managed three points only once in their last thirteen league matches on the road (W1 D6 L6) visiting a Watford side that have dropped only one of their last six in the league between the two (W3 D2) and just one of the last five times they have entertained the Hammers at Vicarage Road across all competitions (W2 D2).

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Thursday
November 16
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issue 16
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terps could be the real deal


You can file this under "too soon to tell" if you want, but it's only taken me three games to make a quick assessment of Maryland basketball and it goes like this: The Terps might be really good in 2017-2018.

I'm well aware they started the season by beating up on two weaklings, Stony Brook and UMES, but last night's 79-65 victory over Butler was a step up in class for Mark Turgeon's team and they handled it with relative ease.

I'll let our Terps basketball insider Dale Williams handle all of the heavy lifting for Maryland hoops this season, but I'll chime in occasionally when I see something that really catches my eye. And early on, what I see that's impressive about Maryland is muscle, speed and defense.

Last year's Maryland team wasn't particularly strong and their work on the boards was laughable at times. That will not be the case this season, you can bank on that. Rebounding, as basketball coaches will always say, is about "want to", and the Terps have some guys who are both able AND willing to go up and fight for the ball after it leaves the glass or rim.

Junior guard Anthony Cowan is off to a terrific start for the Terps in 2017-2018. He had 25 points in last night's win over Butler.

The newest sensation in College Park who will bruise some folks this season is Bruno Fernando, the 6'10" freshman from Angola. He's a wrecking ball under the glass.

Fernando is already approaching legend-status at College Park and the season is three games old. OK, maybe that's a stretch. But he's legit. And strong. And he'll block some shots into the 15th row at XFINITY Center this season, watch and see.

I chatted with Dale Williams earlier this week about Maryland hoops and mentioned to him that Dion Wiley's return after missing 2016-2017 with a knee injury would be a major asset for Turgeon and Company. "He might only average 6 or 7 points per-game for the year, but there will be some nights when he scores in double figures and makes a difference," I remarked.

Right on cue, Wiley chipped in with 11 last night in the win over Butler. He's solid defensively, owns good shooting form, and is just one of those kids you're glad to have on the team because he does everything well. He's not an All-American, but he's a nice player.

I won't go into individual player breakdowns -- Dale did a nice job of that in his preview on Tuesday -- but Maryland has a number of high quality kids. Cowan (25 points last night), Jackson and Huerter will all benefit from the significant minutes they played as freshmen a year ago. They're the backbone of the program, even with the newcomers and transfers who have arrived to help shape the team into, dare we say, a legit Big Ten title contender?

Something Dale wrote in his Terps preview stuck with me last night during the win over Butler. Turgeon has a number of different line-up options at his disposal with this edition of Maryland basketball.

He has a "big group", a "zone-breaking" unit and a smaller, "ball control" fivesome if he wants to use speed and quickness in transition.

I see this Maryland team as one that will be difficult to defend for 40 minutes. They can come at you in a variety of ways.

I know it's only three games. The first two games were six furlongs and last night's affair was a mile and a quarter. There are bigger races on the schedule for the Terrapins down the line.

But they simply look different than Maryland teams of the last few years.

This squad comes across to me as hard-nosed, mean and energetic, but not in a reckless kind of way. They look to me like a team that won't mind bumping and bruising you while they dunk, shoot and score points in droves at the same time.

I'm not sure I see a true weakness in this Maryland team, but the big games and the bright lights will tell me if I'm right on that one.

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more and more, ravens have no excuse for missing the playoffs


With the Buffalo Bills all but giving up on the season yesterday with the benching of Tyrod Taylor, the path to the playoffs is potentially even more inviting for the Ravens now as they prepare for Sunday's showdown in Green Bay.

That's the good news.

The bad news?

If the Ravens can't stumble-and-bumble their way into the post-season now, with others in the AFC stubbing their toes and the schedule playing out favorably for John Harbaugh's team, then it's almost a certainty front-office heads will roll in January.

If the Ravens fail to make the playoffs this season, could that be the final straw for general manager Ozzie Newsome in Charm City?

Barring someone coming from back of the pack and winning nearly all of their games from here on in, there are essentially five AFC teams fighting for the two wild card spots.

The Ravens are 4-5 but have a cakewalk schedule (by NFL standards) with Houston, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Cincinnati looking like "sure wins", plus a home game against Detroit and a road affair at Green Bay this Sunday that will come with the Packers using some guy named Brett Hundley at quarterback.

If the Ravens can't finish the season at 9-7 -- at the worst -- they don't deserve to make the playoffs.

Buffalo is 5-4 but you'd think they were 3-6 based on their panic move yesterday, where they kicked Tyrod Taylor to the curb in favor of Nathan Peterman. I know Taylor isn't really any good, but who on earth is Nathan Peterman? And why play him now, with the playoffs still attainable?

There's Oakland (also 4-5) and then the AFC South duo of Tennessee and Jacksonville, both of whom are 6-3. It stands to reason one of them will likely finish at least 9-7 and be good enough for a wild card spot while the other will win the division outright.

So, really, while there are five teams in the hunt, only four are legitimately involved in the wild card race, as either the Titans or Jaguars will get in on their own as the division winner.

Maybe I'm reading the tea leaves wrong, but I think the Ravens have a great shot at making the post-season.

And yes, I do realize the Ravens aren't really all that good. At the very least, that's what their current record suggests, anyway.

But the season is 16 games long for a reason.

By the very nature of the league itself, you play games against really good teams, good teams, and bad teams.

Four of their five losses have come against teams with a combined record of 26-10. True, their wins have been over Miami (stinks), Cincinnati (stinks), Cleveland (stinks) and Oakland (played without their starting quarterback), but if you look at the losses the Ravens have absorbed this season, only the loss to the Bears at home could truly be called "unexpected".

And now the schedule plays out in their favor, with the Ravens likely favored in every game for the remainder of the season with the exception of the December 10 visit to Heinz Field.

I heard a local sports talk radio host earlier this week whining about the Ravens making the post-season. "Do we really want to see them get in the playoffs at 9-7?," he asked his audience. "All they're going to do is get clobbered in the first round of the playoffs."

It shocks me sometimes to listen to guys who know sports, yet say incredibly stupid stuff like that.

Of course you want the team to make the playoffs. For starters, you can't win the Super Bowl if you don't make the playoffs. Second, what if the team you're set to play in the first round of the post-season loses their starting quarterback in the third quarter of the final game of the regular season?

Just pre-supposing you're going to lose in the playoffs because you finish 9-7 and get the 6th seed is awfully unoriginal.

Making the playoffs is critical, particularly for this edition of the Ravens. It's very important for John Harbaugh's future in Baltimore. And, perhaps, Ozzie Newsome's as well.

And with the Bills looking like they're in meltdown mode and the Raiders hanging on by a thread, the Ravens have a legit chance to make the post-season, even though their current 4-5 record might suggest otherwise.

Teams play 16 games for a reason. The schedule has a way of balancing out over the course of four months.

One thing for sure: If this Ravens team can't win nine or ten games, changes won't be surprising -- or unjustified.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


The football coach at my alma mater while I was in college was a prince of a man named Tom Gilburg. If you’re from the generation before mine, you probably remember him as the punter, and a backup tackle, for the Baltimore Colts of the early 1960s.

I’ve had a few nicknames in my 44 years. It was Coach Gilburg that gave me my favorite one.

My (older) brother’s best friends, also my friends, called me “Youngster,” which they still do.

A few people along the way have called me “Rosy,” which I’ve never really liked.

Coach Gilburg? He called me “Stats.”

I did the statistics for his games in college. That started with pencil and paper, numbers and charts that had to be compiled into hand-written boxscore forms at game’s end. Eventually, we used one of the earliest computer programs to do the job, though it had plenty of bugs, so we still did it by hand too just in case.

Coach Gilburg retired 15 years ago. If I saw him today, I’d thank him again for honoring me on Senior Day like I was one of his players.

And I’d tell him he could still call me “Stats”.

In 2017, doing the stats means entering numbers and codes on a laptop into one of the various software programs designed by StatCrew, a company that pretty much holds a monopoly on statistics in the collegiate sports market.

Here’s an example of what typical entry might look like, for basketball: J 12 RD 11 T 11 S 14 D 12 A 14

If you’re wondering, that translates to: jumper by #12, defensive rebound by #11, turnover by #11, steal by #14, dunk by #12, assist by #14.

And if you’re wondering, no, the entry person isn’t by him/herself in this endeavor. He or she has at least one person sitting adjacent, assisting as the “caller” of the plays as they happen. And yes, you can get paid for doing this. A little bit anyway.

The easiest sport for which to enter stats is soccer, in which several minutes can elapse with no statistics at all. The hardest is volleyball, which can sometimes feature 15 lines of code on a single play before a point is scored. In a loud gym, the caller can lose his or her voice by the end of the match.

The outputs from all those keystrokes are available live, or nearly live, as everybody with a smartphone and the MLB.com At Bat app can attest. Now that’s something we didn’t have back in college…

This is busy time of year for stats people; I suppose that’s what made me think about all this. Since I assume you’re not interested in my Google calendar, however, maybe you’ll be more interested in what doing the stats for all these years does to a person, besides give him a nickname.

Mainly, it allows you to watch sporting events with a certain lack of emotion, in a good way.

Sure, somebody wins and somebody loses, but that’s immaterial to the job, besides getting the score right. The refs make bad calls and good ones, but it’s your job to record them either way. The intensity of the game surrounds you, and you feel it sometimes, but it can’t overwhelm you.

Honestly, I recommend it.

We spend a lot of our time yelling and screaming at games, but most of the time nobody is listening.

That can be cathartic, I guess, but it just as easily can put you in therapy. Sure, it’s powerful when 70,000 people seemingly boo in unison when the Ravens leave the field at halftime with 14 total yards, but I’m not sure that affects the game when the third quarter starts.

We spend a lot of our time analyzing the games, at this website and a host of other places. Some of our analysis is reasoned and smart, some of it is silly and pointless. But none of it can explain the vagaries of the game.

One day, Dylan Bundy dominates the Mariners in a complete game one-hit shutout where the only hit is a bunt. The next time out, he doesn’t make it out of the fifth inning.

We spend a lot of time being fans, but we forget sometimes that we should be observers too.

By the way, doing the stats, ironically, doesn’t make you think of the game as being all about statistics.

At games, I often spend a couple minutes glancing at the postgame boxscore, and nine times out of ten it’s unremarkable. A couple times a year, the guy who averages 13 points per game drops 35 with eight three-pointers, or the tailback who’s never carried the ball more than seven times gets it 24 times and averages six yards per carry.

Most of the time, though, there’s nothing about the stats that really stands out.

The cliché says that the statistics lie, but I’d put it a different way: the statistics don’t show the narrative of the game.

There are storylines throughout a game that can’t be recorded by stats, and you’re not a good sports fan if you don’t realize that how someone played, good or bad, isn’t always noticeable by looking at their statistics.

I also think you’re not a good sports fan if you can’t be impartial, at least on some level.

That’s probably the most important lesson you can learn doing the stats.

Often, that involves appreciating your opponent. I was at Maryland’s last home game against Duke as a member of the ACC, back in February 2013, a game that Maryland won.

The Terps looked like they’d win the game handily with a few minutes left, but Seth Curry, Steph’s brother, kept making ridiculous play after ridiculous play for Duke. I turned to my own brother and yelled “that guy is a killer!” and I did it with total appreciation.

Impartiality is also about recognition — that the umpire isn’t against you, that the broadcasters don’t hate your team, that the other team isn’t cheating, no more than your team is anyway. When you get rid of all of that, you become a better observer, and a better fan.

What happened back in college with Coach Gilburg’s team is ancient history — the spread offense wasn’t even around yet, and we didn’t even have email addresses until my sophomore year. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, and other days it seems like an entirely different world, which it is.

I learned something about sports back then, sitting up in a tiny press box on perfect fall days. The game is what matters, not the messy stuff surrounding the game. It’s been a privilege to help record some of those games for posterity.

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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



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.