Wednesday
September 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 30

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it's called "talk radio" for a reason

"All the world's indeed a stage, and we are merely players...performers and portrayers, each another's audience, outside the guilded cage." - from the song "Limelight" by RUSH

A brief look at the comments section from yesterday's edition of #DMD took me around an interesting turn, for the discussion centered on something I was quite familiar with for a dozen years or so (2002-2014). The topic was sports talk radio and, specifically, the concept/necessity of taking "listener phone calls" in an effort to involve the audience sitting in their car, at their home or in front of a computer.

(Oh, and speaking of "audience involvement", I'd like to thank all of you who visited #DMD this past Monday, September 28. We set a one-day "visits" record, as 5,643 people found their way here to read up on the Ravens loss to the Bengals. I didn't get a chance to mention it yesterday and, even though it's not necessarily germane to what you're about to read today, I wanted to say "thank you" for helping us set a one-day record. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.)

Grab a cup of Royal Farms coffee and settle in for this. We might be here a while. But I think you'll appreciate my position and area of expertise on the matter. You might agree with me, you might not, but either way, you won't be wrong. And it's far better than reading about the Orioles folding up in the final month of the season or the Ravens allowing 700 yards of receiving to A.J. Green.

Here's something you should try: I'm going to use one of the all-time funny movies, "The Hangover" for my own personal example. Pop in "The Hangover" in your DVD player, but turn DOWN the sound. Now, watch the movie. How long did that last? Three minutes, maybe? Now, let's pretend you can restore the sound, but you are able to strip away the music and any sound effects, leaving you with JUST the voices of the various actors and actresses. How much different would the movie be with no music, no car crash sounds, no "effects" at all? It wouldn't be the same movie, that's for sure.

Now, imagine if Bradley Cooper and ONLY Bradley Cooper played in the film (hey, I'm a huge fan, I might be OK with that). No Ed Helms, no Zach Galifianakis...just Cooper, for two hours.

No music, no sound, no actors or actresses. What's that leave you with? A boring movie, with terrible reviews, and a huge loser at the box office.

In other words, to make a great movie: It takes a village.

The same goes for sports talk radio. It takes a village.

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Any notion at all that talk radio -- of any kind, news, sports, music -- can be done without the involvement of the listeners is just silly, if you ask me. You're doing your show FOR THEM. The listeners/viewers are the ones that actually pay the bills at a real radio or TV station, because it's through their loyalty to the station and/or the show host that advertisers, in turn, fork over money to reach them. Without listeners, there's no station. Period. If you're doing a radio or TV show and no one's listening or watching, who are you trying to entertain or inform? Maybe I'm missing something (and, remember, I got fired, so evidently I didn't do it right), but that seems like a class you'd take in Radio 101. "Here, we have listeners. Your job is to keep them tuned in to your show so the advertisers can reach them. When the advertisers reach them, they pay us money and, in turn, all of you on the air get paid."

There's a reason why the big sports radio station in town, 105.7, employs roughly 25 people. They generate enough revenue to support that sort of station roster. It's simple business. If they generated $300,000, they'd employ a couple of people. If they generate $10 million, they employ 25. The reason they generate that sort of revenue is because people LISTEN to the station. The advertisers then wind up paying the salaries of the station employees through their advertising dollars. Pretty simple stuff to figure out, even for an "amateur" from Glen Burnie.

We'll get back to the concept of taking phone calls from listeners in just a second, but let's also close the door on this "who does it better?" subject while we're on the topic. Let's pretend you and I both own steak restaurants in Baltimore. Our expenses, meaning rent, food and liquor costs, plus staffing, are roughly identical. I do $400,000 a month in sales and you do $50,000 a month in sales. We can argue all we want about who owns the "better" restaurant, who has better food and a better wine list, but what we can't argue about is who has the more successful steak place. I do. I generate $350,000 more per-month in sales than you do. No further debate needed. We're running a business -- a steak place -- and it gets measured by one thing: Who sells more steaks?

Baltimore radio stations are ultimately measured by a similar line item: Who sells the most advertising? If you look at the Top 10 stations in the market, ratings-wise, they're all likely also in the Top 10 in advertising revenue. The two go hand-in-hand. You can piss and moan about that all you want -- and folks in the radio business are apt to do that -- but it's the reality of how radio works. The more listeners you have, the more advertising revenue you sell. As the late Charley Eckman was fond of saying -- "It's a very simple game."

Now, we get to talk-show callers. These days, honestly, I listen more to "other radio" than I do sports talk, but for this exercise, that's probably a good thing. I'm an ardent listener to the Bruce Springsteen channel on Sirius/XM, for example. Every week, they have a couple of "call-in" shows where listeners get to speak with hosts like Jim Rotolo, who -- wait for it -- knows more about Springsteen than anyone in the world. He creates a "show topic" for the night and people then call in and talk about it with him. A couple of weeks ago, he asked listeners to call in and talk about Springsteen lyrics that have made them cry. He took two hours of phone calls. It was GREAT radio. It was much better radio than had Jim Rotolo sat there for 120 minutes telling everyone how much HE loved Springsteen. We already knew that. I'd much rather hear from Eileen in Kansas City who called in and said the lyrics from "Jack of All Trades" made her cry...because I know that song and the lyrics she pointed out in her call -- and I can see how emotionally connected someone could be to those words.

In sports talk, there's most certainly an element of people who call in because they want to be heard and they want to prove they're smart enough to be the coach, the GM or, even, the player himself. That's human nature, and even more connected to sports because people PLAYED the game(s) growing up. I don't know anything about being in a rock band because I've never been in one, so I don't question the way Springsteen or Billy Joel or Dave Matthews plays a particular song or chooses their set-list for the night. But, I've hit an 8-iron from 157 yards to four feet and made birdie a time or two in my life, so if I want to call in and talk golf on the Sirius/XM Channel, I'm probably a pretty experienced caller chiming in.

Not every caller in sports radio is a GREAT call, just like not EVERY host on the air is having a GREAT day or night on that particular shift. Radio hosts are exactly like professional athletes and any radio host who says they haven't had a bad shift or a bad week or a bad "season" is just not telling the truth. Likewise, you can go through periods of time where you're hitting on all cylinders and doing the best work of your career. It's just like the life of a baseball player. This home-stand, you hit .400 over the 11-game stretch and on the next 10-game road trip, you hit .160 and start looking for Jobu's rum. Radio is the same way. You WANT to be "on" every shift, every day, but that's just not possible.

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Callers are simply listeners with enough gumption to dial the number and be heard. Sometimes, they're funny. Sometimes, they're actually great contributors. Often times, callers actually DO know more about the subject at hand than the host does. I remember, distinctly, "Bob from Hereford" would call my show 3-4 times a week during baseball season and talk Orioles with me. Guess what? Bob watched the games like I watched them, knew the players like I knew them, and had opinions on strategies just like I did. He enlightened ME on many an occasion, which also meant he was enlightening the other listeners. "Rich from Westminster" was another caller of a similar ilk. He would call in and I'd become the listener and he'd become the expert. There were contributions he would make about college football or basketball where his knowledge was superior to mine. That didn't bother me. And, maybe I'm wrong here, but I don't think it made me an inferior sports talk host, either. If someone called in about English Soccer, they'd know more than me for sure. Don't be fooled: people "on the street" know a lot about sports. Some of them call in and some of them don't. But they know sports out there.

By the way, that doesn't mean every caller is good, or welcomed, or worth having on the air, because that's certainly not the case. It's like fishing. You keep some, you throw some back and you use some for bait. Not every fish is a meal. And even those callers with shtick have their good days and bad days. My old pal "Merton from Indianapols" was a combination of funny, irritating and lousy. Some mornings his routine made the show better, other mornings it didn't. I wouldn't know, until he hung up, if his call was any good or not, but I never told him he couldn't call back. It's TALK radio. I talk, you talk, and we go from there. Callers DO know sports, though, and anyone who listens to the radio in this market can verify that with some of the people who get through and add their insight. I listen. I know it to be true. They're not all bumbling idiots, no matter what you might be led to believe.

And this on-going question about whether or not a host "knows sports" is like arguing about whether or not the Bible is a legitimate book of record. You'll be here until next Thursday still debating the whole thing. I remember once, probably five years ago now, I authored a piece at the old radio station's website and mentioned three competitors in particular -- I still remember them, Terry Ford, Ken Weinman and Mark Viviano -- that I enjoyed listening to because I thought (and still do) they really knew sports. I got eviscerated, if you will, at the next station staff meeting because "those guys don't know sports..." Sure they do. They didn't play in the NFL, MLB, NHL or NBA, but then again, who among us has? And, even then, I hear ex-players -- those who HAVE played the game -- who haven't yet figured out how to be competent broadcasters because playing the game and talking about it (or writing about it) are two different things.

You see, this is what happens when the Orioles get rained out a night after being eliminated from post-season contention. I go off on a tangent for a little while...

I found the whole discussion that was on-going in the comments section here at #DMD to be interesting enough to comment on, mainly because I've been there, done that and I have the t-shirt. Not every caller I ever put on the air was good -- and there were some who didn't know what they were talking about and I told them so. There were others, though, FAR MORE GOOD ONES THAN BAD ONES, who made my show better and, in all fairness, made ME smarter about sports, too. Don't for one minute think sports radio can happen without listeners, because it can't. It's actually THEIR show. The guy or gal with the microphone is just the shepherd who keeps them in line.

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go head-to-head with drew in nfl week 4 and win a $50 gift card at glory days

The NFL season is upon us and our friends at Hong Kong Louie have created weekly Contests exclusively for Drew's Morning Dish readers.

Each week, Hong Kong Louie handicaps all the NFL games. For each game, you have the option of selecting the favorite or the underdog. There are no point spreads – you must select the outright winners of the games – the underdogs are awarded commensurately more points than the favorites to reward those who correctly pick the upsets. To score points, you MUST select the WINNER of a game. If you select the winner, you collect the points indicated for that team. If you select the loser, you collect NO POINTS for that game. After all games are decided, each entrants' points for all games are totaled.

Example: If you take the Ravens to beat Pittsburgh this Thursday, you receive 100 points if the Ravens win the game. If you select the Steelers, you receive 136 points if they win. If you select the loser of the game, you score NO points. The same follows for all 16 games played this week. When all games are decided, each entrants' score for all games is totaled.

The player who beats Drew's total points and who has the highest point-total of all #DMD contestants wins a $50 gift card to Glory Days. If no one beats Drew's total, the gift card goes into the following week's Contest and thus doubles next weeks' prize value. Simple enough, right? Just go to the Hong Kong Louie website, register, and you're all set for the season. Each week—prior to the Thursday night game at 8:30 pm—you go in, make your picks, and go head-to-head with Drew.

Here's how to enter the #DMD Contest:

  1. You must be a registered member of HongKongLouie.com to enter the #DMD Contest (it's FREE to register and there is NO obligation of any kind). Many #DMD readers are already registered members of HongKongLouie.com. [And several have already won HongKongLouie cash prizes!] If you are not already registered, it literally takes only thirty seconds to sign up. Register here.
  2. Once you create an account (or if you already have one), go to the #DMD exclusive contest page.
  3. Copy-and-paste or type this password — 3140 — into the password area in the above (#2) link. [Please don't share the password with anyone who is not a #DMD reader.]
  4. Make your selections of the winners of all the games, and then answer the Tiebreaker questions.
  5. At the conclusion of the last Sunday night game of the week, each entrants' score will be published on any computer or phone on which he or she is logged in to HongKongLouie.com.
  6. If you have any questions about the Contest or the log-in procedures, please e-mail: support@hongkonglouie.com. We realize that the explanation here is more complex than the process of entering the Contest, and for that, we apologize. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible with any clearer explanations necessary.
  7. #DMD readers are also cordially invited to participate in the non-exclusive Hong Kong Louie Contests, and compete against all the world for the cash prizes to the winners.
Tuesday
September 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 29

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orioles get what they deserve with playoff elimination

Last night's 4-3 loss to Toronto, coupled with Houston's 3-2 win in Seattle, officially ends the Orioles hopes of returning to the post-season. Sadly, the Orioles won't be playing games that matter in October this year. (Then again, the Ravens might not be doing that, either.) The story of the 2015 season doesn't need to be written just yet. There's time for that over the next few weeks as we sit back and wonder how a season so promising turned into a disaster over the final seven weeks of the campaign.

Here's what we DO know, though: The team assembled last April in Baltimore when the season started needed a miracle akin to the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team in order to repeat as the Eastern Division champions in 2015. Why? Because either the owner of the team -- on behalf of himself and the other limited partners -- didn't want to pony up the necessary funds to retain quality talent, or the team's general manager thought he could win without those proven players. I doubt we'll ever know the extent of that information, but you can go ahead and paint whatever picture you want and I'm guessing it wouldn't be too far from the truth.

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Nice guy and all, and truly a "team player", but Steve Pearce was no replacement for Nelson Cruz in 2015.

Fact: The Orioles decided to see if Steve Pearce could catch lightning in a bottle and replace Nelson Cruz's production from 2014. Summary: Pearce had a dismal season and Cruz lit it up in Seattle. Fact: The Orioles needed a proven right fielder after Nick Markakis left for Atlanta. Not re-signing Markakis to a 4-year deal might very well have been the right move, but someone has to play right field, hit .270, and get on base at a .350 clip. Summary: That person WASN'T Travis Snider, who was Dan Duquette's solution to the right field quandry. Fact: No players who were added or traded for in the off-season last winter amounted to a hill of beans in Baltimore this season. Whether that's because Duquette took the better part of a month off last December to flirt with the Toronto Blue Jays -- or not -- the reality is the club didn't try to get better last winter after reaching the ALCS in 2014. Summary: The Orioles tried to win in 2015 with six really good players; Jones, Davis, Machado, Schoop (injured for half of the season), O'Day and Britton.

This off-season promises to be even more interesting than the one in 2014-2015. The Birds are poised to have four of their top players on the free agency list; Chris Davis, Wei Yen Chen, Matt Wieters and Darren O'Day. All four might leave for green pastures. Honestly, all four are replaceable, but of those, Davis is the one with quantifiable numbers who would be the most difficult to replace, a la Cruz last winter. Losing any or all of those players isn't really the issue. It's who replaces them that will be critical to the club's 2016 campaign. I can see the team giving the first base job to Pearce, the catching job to Joseph/Clevenger and the 8th inning set-up role to either Givens or Brach. Are those replacements adequate? And who takes Chen's spot in the rotation? Oh, and we need a left-fielder and a right-fielder next season and Gerardo Parra can't cut it in the American League, so we have TWO holes to fill -- just like we did this past off-season. A couple of years ago, Duquette earned himself an Ozzie-like free pass after dumpster-diving his way to a playoff spot in 2012. Here we are now, three years later, and an off-season spent hitting the snooze button has come back to bite the GM and his team in their orange feathered rear ends.

I don't know how much stock I put in some recent national media reports that Duquette and Buck Showalter are at odds, but I will say this about those stories: The two guys responsible for chasing the "friction angle", Jerry Crasnick and Ken Rosenthal, are two of the most well-sourced media members in all of sports, not just baseball. They wouldn't make stuff up just to have a story to write. Someone, somewhere, is filling them in on some inside issues. Now, how MUCH friction is there? That's the real question. Anytime a team loses, the manager isn't happy. The GM can usually put a friendly face on it ("We're building for the future...") and try to convince people he's doing the best work of his career while the on-field product stinks. The manager, though, travels with it and lives with it every single day. So, there's bound to be friction if the team stinks and the GM is giving him the equivalent of Tom Berenger's character in the movie "Major League".


I have to occasionally do what I'm about to do just to offer a friendly reminder to folks, including, I suppose, newcomers to the #DMD scene, about our simple ground rules here. I'm hearing (and able to detect from the comments section) that my former boss has launched into yet another missive about the state of media in Baltimore.

I haven't read it, and probably won't, mainly because I'd rather go practice my putting and short game for the 45 minutes it would likely take to get through it all. Without reading it, I already know what it says because, as Led Zeppelin once said, "The Song Remains The Same". However, for those who do have the stomach for it, I remind you to please keep your comments "reasonable" here at #DMD. What's that mean? No foul language, for sure, and just a general sense of decency. Please don't misinterpret that and think I'm trying to "censor" you. I'm not. But I want the commentary here to be "professional". It can be critical, sure, but I don't want to spend my day removing stuff from the comments section because people can't be critical without going overboard.

You are free to comment on anything of any topic here as long as it fits those reasonably simple rules. Just like a fancy steak restaurant says "no blue jeans, please", I say "no foul language here, please". I still want you to come in and eat my $35 filet and enjoy my $160 bottle of Silver Oak. I just want you to do it in a civil manner. I haven't had to offer this reminder in a while...but I'm doing it today more as precaution than anything else. I know what's coming -- and you're entitled to your opinion and welcome to post it here. Just don't wear blue jeans when you're posting, that's all.

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grading the ravens, 9/27 vs. cincinnati

We'll be posting Ravens grades every Tuesday morning here at #DMD, but we're NOT going to go with the tried-and-true "A, B, C, D, E" grading system. Instead, we've developed our own "point system" with a couple of special twists. First, we're only grading six players from each game. If you don't make it in the top six, you don't get any points. Second, the points are handed out based on overall play, involvement in crucial/critical plays and contributions to scoring plays. They are also weighted based on the position someone plays. In other words, Marshal Yanda is rarely, if ever, involved in a "scoring play" but Joe Flacco might be involved in four or five in any given game. Therefore, Yanda's "overall play" will garner him his largest chunk of points for the game. It's a work in progress, but I think you'll like our grading system over time. It's designed to showcase individual play on a game-by-game basis but also be an indicator of who has played best throughout the season.

1. Steve Smith, 9.2 points -- Somehow followed up his season-best (#DMD wise) point total of 8.9 from a week ago with an even BETTER day vs. the Bengals. Became the first Raven to ever have back-to-back 150-yard receiving games on Sunday vs. Cincinnati. It wasn't the best individual performance by an offensive player in team history, but it was in the top 5.

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C.J. Mosley has #DMD points in all three games so far.

2. C.J. Mosley, 7.8 -- He's the only player to have received #DMD points in all three games to date and leads the team with 23.1 points overall. Had another stellar afternoon, punctuated by his scoop-and-score on the fumble recovery late in the 4th quarter against the Bengals. He's NOT Ray Lewis. Repeat, he's NOT Ray Lewis. But Mosley does a lot of "Ray things" in only his 2nd year in the league. Without the dancing...

3. Brandon Williams, 7.5 -- Was the team's best defensive player on Sunday and rebounded nicely after a lackluster performance in Oakland on 9/20. Involved in eight tackles vs. the Bengals. True, Cincinnati was too busy lighting up the Baltimore secondary to focus on running the ball, but when they did try and run, particularly in the 2nd half, Williams was there to hold them at bay.

4. Joe Flacco, 6.2 -- His quiet first half knocked his point total down, plus he threw a costly 2nd quarter interception, but his play in the second half was critical to the team's ability to stay in the game. Was especially strong in the 4th quarter, but again, like in Denver and Oakland, he couldn't seal the deal when given the ball in the final couple of minutes.

5. Lardarius Webb, 5.9 -- He was the best of the defensive backs on Sunday, which admittedly isn't saying much, and produced his most consistent performance of the season. Granted, he didn't have to mark A.J. Green, but his overall play was solid and he was able to do the job without getting a handful of penalties.

6. Elvis Dumervil, 5.3 -- Had a big sack and forced fumble on Andy Dalton with 6:49 left in the game that helped C.J. Mosley score the TD that put Baltimore up 17-14. He was quiet in the first half but very active in the final 30 minutes.

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


So how is that whole 'upgraded secondary' thing working out for the Ravens? There has to be a lot of exasperation at the Castle in Owings Mills this week after the Ravens blew yet another late lead and watched their supposedly improved secondary torched by the Bengals in a 28-24 loss.

Last year, the secondary was in shambles, with injuries and ineffectiveness opening a revolving door at cornerback that never really closed properly. This past offseason, general manager Ozzie Newsome implied that fixing that would be a top priority, much like fixing the offensive line had been a year previously.

The Ravens went out and signed safety Kendrick Lewis -- viewed as an upgrade over Darian Stewart -- and signed veteran cornerback Kyle Arrington -- viewed as an upgrade over the hodge-podge collection of cornerback castoffs that made the Ravens roster in 2014. Plus, the return of healthy Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb was going to solidify the secondary.

At least that was the plan. Which is why the shortcomings in the secondary in the first three games of the season -- and specifically, in the last two games -- has been so stunning. The Ravens have plunged to 29th in the league in pass defense.

"You have the lead in the fourth quarter, you have to play the kind of defense that gets them stopped," coach John Harbaugh said after the Bengals game. The Ravens didn't do that against the Bengals, and they didn't do that against the Raiders. "You have to come out and stop them if you want to win," Harbaugh added. "(The Bengals) had one more stop than we did, and that’s why they won.”

The Ravens aren't getting enough pressure on the quarterback, which in turn is putting way too much pressure on the secondary. Let's face it: A.J. Green can make a lot of cornerbacks look bad, and to his credit, Andy Dalton made some outstanding throws. But the Ravens are giving quarterbacks way too much time to throw. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has tried to dial up some pressure -- Will Hill had a safety blitz sack on Sunday -- but blitz a safety, and suddenly Rashaan Melvin or Arrington is out there on an island, 1-on-1. You could almost see Dalton's eyes light up when he located that matchup.

The Ravens said all the right things about Melvin this offseason, and they like his size (6-foot-2) as an outside corner. But his season debut Sunday after missing the first two games was disastrous. Melvin was flagged for three penalties in the first 18 minutes and was on the bench for much of the rest of the game.

The Ravens also offer little to no resistance at the line of scrimmage. Maybe Pees is afraid to jam at the line and expose getting beaten deep. But Amari Cooper ran pretty much untouched by Jimmy Smith at Oakland, and Green ran untouched through a Ravens zone for his 80-yard touchdown catch. Well, untouched for 60 yards, until Jimmy Smith missed a tackle. The Ravens can't let it be so easy. More troubling is what Lewis said after the game: He acknowledged that miscommunication remains a problem in the secondary. Is the combination of new faces back there a factor? "No, man, we've been doing this since OTAs, we're familiar faces now," he said. "We've gotta throttle down, get the call and play the call."

Right now, the Ravens aren't communicating, they aren't tackling, and they aren't covering. That's not how the improved secondary was supposed to look.

Monday
September 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 28

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when you play like that, you deserve to lose

Don’t let the final score fool you. In fact, don’t even let the fact that the Ravens actually held TWO leads late in the 4th quarter mislead you into thinking what you saw from them yesterday was acceptable.

It wasn’t.

The first half was as outrageously unprofessional as a Ravens team has EVER played. Even in the 1996-1998 era when the team stunk, at least they lost with their pride intact. They didn't beat themselves. Without question -- in my opinion -- yesterday's game in Baltimore was the worst I’ve seen a John Harbaugh team play when the game had such significance. Penalties, lack of discipline and follow through on the game plan, and an epic fail in the execution department were the lowlights from the opening half that saw the Ravens ONLY trail 14-0 because the Bengals, per-their-historical-form, had no idea how to salt away the game.

The end result can be dissected a million ways, but it was a game the Ravens ultimately didn’t deserve to win and, thus, the team that should have won, did. But, because it’s the NFL, and because they’re the Bengals, the Ravens easily COULD have won the game, much like they COULD have won in Denver and COULD have won in Oakland, too. They’re 0-3 and COULD be 3-0. But, as we saw from the first half of Sunday’s performance, they literally don’t deserve good fortune. It’s as if the football gods know the truth and they say, “They’re just not committed enough to winning, as a team, within the locker room – so we won’t let them win.”

Jimmy Smith getting torched by A.J. Green? Eh, it happens. Green is on scholarship, too, remember. He’s not chopped liver. But what about the fact that he snuck into the slot, unnoticed, and was picked up Kendrick Lewis in the mismatch-of-the- century that led to his 80 yard TD catch that put Cincy back on top 21-17? Someone’s not paying attention; either the coaching staff, the players or the guys on the sideline. Or, perhaps all three didn’t pick up on it. That’s how you lose games, by having one of the best receivers in the league sneak his way into a match-up with an overwhelmed safety and burning him for an easy catch and run. The tackling wasn’t crisp on that Green TD, either, but Green vs. Lewis is a loser for the Ravens virtually every time.

The day overshadowed a virtuoso performance from Steve Smith Sr. and a remarkable second half from Joe Flacco. Together, those two kept the Ravens alive long enough to let the Bengals try and give away the game. It was inspirational to see Smith ball-so-hard (no pun intended) and try and carry the team on his back to a win. It was also disappointing to see him drop a ball or two in the final few minutes, but when you’ve been thrown to 20 times because the team doesn’t really have any other reliable pass catching sources, the law of averages says you’ll miss a few here and there.

Flacco, as is becoming his trend these days, mixed in a woeful 30 minutes with a terrific 30 minutes. He was lackluster and off-target in the opening half, when the Ravens had him mostly taking snaps under center. Under-the-gun AND under-the-gun (as in, "the shot gun" formation), Flacco responded with a much better second half. I'm not sure how long it's going to take the genius coaches in Owings Mills to understand this very simple fact: JOE FLACCO PREFERS TO PLAY QUARTERBACK IN THE SHOT-GUN FORMATION. That's it. Game, set, and match. I do understand that by lining him up there snap-after-snap that it might be hard to establish a running game of any kind, but you play the hand you're dealt. When Flacco plays out of the shotgun, he's MUCH more effective.

Teams that make the kinds of mistakes the Ravens made yesterday shouldn’t get the benefit of a goofy goal-line call that stole a touchdown from Cincinnati near the end of the first half. When you grab the face mask of a guy in the 4th quarter -- on 3rd down and-the-game-on-the-line – you shouldn’t win. Mistakes are one thing. Everyone makes ‘em. Dumb penalties, time after time after time, have poisoned the Ravens all season. That Kelechi Osemele infraction alone changed the tenor of the final series. It took the club from a manageable 3rd and short situation to 4th-and- wing-it. Almost fittingly, Flacco’s desperation heave was nearly caught by Maxx Williams inside Bengals’ territory. That it bounced off the rookie’s hands only means two things; it was catchable, but justifiably incomplete.

The Ravens didn’t deserve to produce a miracle on Sunday.

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ravens fall to 0-3 -- here's why

Here are the three key moments in Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Bengals:

1. For the second straight week, a multitude of plays factored into the loss, but to me the biggest play of the game was the Dalton to Green 80-yard TD right after the Ravens claimed their first lead of the game on the Mosley fumble recovery for a TD with 6:49 left to play. At that point, the Bengals had coughed up a 14-0 lead, the crowd was delirious after sitting on its hands most of the day, and the Ravens were apparently going to steal a win if they could make one or two more defensive stops. On the first play after the Mosley TD, Dalton hit a wide-open Green at the 50 yard line and he shrugged off two tackling "efforts" from Jimmy Smith and Will Hill to scamper into the end zone with the go-ahead score. Even though the Ravens would come back to take the lead on their next series, giving up the TD immediately after they took lead punctured the Baltimore defense and gave confidence to Cincinnati.

2. Another A.J. Green moment, only this time it came in the form of the game-winning catch when he buzzed past Jimmy Smith and took a back corner throw from Dalton with just over two minutes left that sealed the 28-24 win. The Green-Smith match-up has become as one-sided as Bob Backlund and the Brooklyn Brawler -- you knew who was winning that battle every time, and the same goes for the Bengals wide receiver vs. the Ravens cornerback. Yes, Smith did pick off a pass in the end zone in the 3rd quarter, but that was all on Dalton. If he throws that ball high enough, Green probably catches ANOTHER touchdown pass.

3. The Kelechi Osemele face-masking penalty late in the game was a complete game-wrecker. On the final Ravens offensive series, they took over at their own 20 yard line and needed to 80 yards in two minutes. No problems with that, as they had been shredding the Bengals secondary for much of the second half. After two incompletions and a seven yard gain (Steve Smith targeted on all three -- the Ravens weren't trying to keep it a secret at that point), Flacco kept the game alive with a fourth down pick-up on a throw to -- take a guess -- #89 and the Ravens were in business with a fresh set of downs. "But wait, there's a flag down on the play..." Kelechi Osemele's face-masking penalty produced a 4th and 13 that couldn't be converted and that, my friends, was the ballgame.


ravens game balls for sunday, september 27

Four Ravens get #DMD game balls for their highlight performances in Sunday's loss to the Bengals.

Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. had another amazing afternoon catching the football, as he was targeted 17 times and collected 13 catches for 186 yards. His catch and run on the first Baltimore TD got the crowd back into the game and showed the kind of grit and determination that would carry him through an inspirational final two quarters, where he single-handedly tried to will the Ravens to a win.

Defensive lineman Brandon Williams was slow to get started, but he, too, put on a clinic in the second half and finished the game with 8 tackles, 4 of them solo, and was instrumental in minimizing the Cincinnati running attack.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley produced another yet excellent game and get his THIRD game-ball of the season, with 6 tackles (4 solo) and fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. He played decently in pass coverage too, something that's been missing from his game during his first two seasons in the NFL. Just keeps getting better week after week.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro actually made a contribution on Sunday, as he was reliable on kick and punt returns and also caught two passes for 11 yards on the day. That typically wouldn't garner a guy a game ball, but it's baby-steps with Campanaro. If he can give the Ravens a dependable return man in the kicking game and catch a few passes every Sunday, he'll be a welcome addition to the 46-man Game Day squad.


And on the other end, these guys weren't so hot on Sunday --

Jimmy Smith -- Two weeks "on-the-trot" (as they say in England) for Smith, as he's been victimized in back-to-back games, first by Derek Carr and Amari Cooper last Sunday in Oakland and then by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green yesterday. It's pretty simple: Green has Smith's number. Nothing else to say about it. Some guys in sports find a one-on-one match-up that fits their skill set and A.J. Green has that with Jimmy Smith. Memo to Dean Pees: Time to try something else and someone else.

Rashaan Melvin -- He didn't make it past the first 20 minutes of the game, getting benched after being flagged for three penalties while contributing easy yards to a pair of Cincinnati touchdown drives. Just woefully overmatched in coverage no matter who he's assigned to mark and can't play the game without catching the eye of the officials.

Justin Forsett -- It's the old chicken-and-egg theory. Justin Forsett gained 13 yards on 10 carries yesterday, meaning he had no impact on the game. But -- did he have no impact because the Ravens went to the all-throw-theory or did they go to the all-throw-theory because Forsett couldn't get any yards on the ground? No matter, the stats don't lie. Forsett has not had a good start to 2015 and yesterday's dismal production stands out like a sore thumb. A 1.3 yards per-rush average isn't getting the job done.

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week 3 wagers...for entertainment only

Here's how I did yesterday with my five NFL picks, my "Best Bet" pick and my Ravens-Bengals selection.

Saints at Panthers (-9.5) -- Here we go again. For the 3rd week in a row, I'm going with the Panthers, who are 2-0 on the year and have covered in both wins, too. I admit, 9.5 points for a division game is A LOT of points, but the Saints don't have Drew Brees and the Panthers' defense should be able to limit New Orleans to ten points. Take Carolina and give the 9.5 here, as the Panthers come out on top 21-10. RESULT: LOSER (0-1)

Steelers at Rams (-1) -- This one pretty much comes down to "who do I think will win?" since it's only a one-point spread and I don't see how the Rams -- albeit with an improved defense -- can limit the high-flying Pittsburgh offense. If the Rams can jump out to a lead and then run the ball a little to shorten the game, that gives them a chance at winning. If it's a shootout, I like Pittsburgh. I went against the Steelers last Sunday and paid the price. I'm not making that mistake today. I like Pittsburgh to win, 29-26,in St. Louis. RESULT: WINNER (1-1)

Eagles at Jets (-2) -- I have no idea at all how the Jets are 2-0 on the season, but last Monday night's win in Indianapolis was an impressive defensive performance to say the least. I'm not picking the Jets as much as I'm picking AGAINST the Eagles. Too bad Philly's away today or they could have Pope Francis stop by the stadium and give them a super-blessing before the game. I'll take New York to cover -- Jets win, 20-16,at home. RESULT: LOSER (1-2)

Broncos (-3) at Lions -- Geez, can the Broncos really get to 3-0? And will the Lions start the campaign at 0-3 by losing their home opener? I don't know what to make of Denver and Peyton Manning. They COULD be 0-2, and by all rights, should be, as Steve Smith dropped a game-winning pass in Week 1 and the Chiefs fumbled the ball and the game away last Monday night in K.C. as Denver won in the final seconds. I see a little market correction today, as the Lions cover and win outright, 23-21. RESULT: LOSER (1-3)

Bills at Dolphins (-3) -- Not sure what to make of the Dolphins, who were gifted two road wins to start the season and somehow lost one of them when they fell at Jacksonville last Sunday. Buffalo got the Cleat of Reality at home a week ago when New England punked them. I like Miami to win today in their home opener, although I think Buffalo gives a representative performance. Let's go with the Dolphins, 24-20. RESULT: LOSER (1-4)

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I'm 2-0 in "Best Bets", but admittedly don't feel uber-great about any of the five games above. Because the Eagles are struggling so bad, I'm going to take the Jets and that 20-16 win I'm forecasting for this week's Best Bet pick. RESULT: A loser for the first time this year to fall to 2-1.


THIS WEEK'S RECORD: 1-4

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 5-10

BEST BET FOR THE SEASON: 2-1


And finally, I picked the Ravens to beat the Bengals, 23-7, which means I'm now 1-2 in my Ravens picks so far in 2015.

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blanked in boston, o's are just about officially done

Three games at Fenway Park, no runs. Can't win like that. The O's fell to the Red Sox, 2-0, on Sunday, giving Boston a 3-game sweep of the series and just about putting the final nail in the Baltimore playoff coffin for 2015. It's not "official" yet, but it might as well be. The Birds return home to finish up the season with a 4-game series vs. Toronto and a 3-game weekend set with the Yankees.


american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 86 - 69 7
Astros 82 - 74 6
Angels 81 - 74 7 ½
Twins 80 - 75 7
Indians 77 - 77 8 4
Orioles 76 - 79 7
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spieth wins everything -- cup, cash, player-of-the-year

It only took one tournament, four days of golf, and Jordan Spieth was back on top. The Under Armour poster-boy won the season-ending Tour Championship yesterday at East Lake GC in Atlanta, capping off an amazing 2015 campaign by winning the FedEx Cup, the $10 million bonus that comes with it and, most likely, the TOUR's Player of the Year award as voted on by the players.

I'll look at Spieth's record setting season in more detail in Tuesday's edition of #DMD, but let's just say, in the understatement of the year, that golf has a new superstar in Spieth, plus a few other guys (Day, McIlroy, Rose to name three) who can light it up on demand as well.

Sunday
September 27
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 14
Issue 27
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD


i'll ask pope francis to pray for the ravens

While the rest of Baltimore -- or a large portion of it, at least -- heads to the football stadium for today's home opener between the Ravens and Bengals, I'll be on Interstate 95, traveling north to Philadelphia for the Papal Mass. Six months ago, I took on the task of organizing a mass pilgrimage to The City of Brotherly Love for today's visit from Pope Francis and, together with some outstanding people at the Baltimore Catholic Review, it all becomes a reality today as we send 18 bus loads of men, women and children to Philadelphia! Special thanks goes out to Calvert Hall High School, Gunther's Motor Coach and Martz & Gold Line Motor Coach -- as well as lots of others who have chipped in along the way to make this morning's trip a (hopeful) success. As the saying goes: "It takes a village..."

Back home, the Ravens will host the Bengals in what turns out to be a critical Week 3 game for John Harbaugh's team after two losses to start the 2015 campaign. The Bengals come to town 2-0 and primed to create a fairly cavernous gap between first and last place in the AFC North -- and September isn't even in the books, yet. This isn't "must win" territory, but it's "we better win or we're in big trouble" territory facing the Ravens this afternoon. You don't start 0-3 and make the playoffs in the NFL. So, this probably will feel like a playoff game today at M&T Bank Stadium.

It wasn't a great Saturday in these parts, as yesterday's scoreboard had some blowouts that didn't go the way of the local favorites. The Orioles were blasted in Boston, 8-0, meaning the Birds have now lost by a combined score of 15-0 in the first two games of the series at Fenway. Career relief pitcher Craig Breslow got the start yesterday as the Red Sox produced a patchwork pitching effort that blanked the O's again -- after Rich Hill blew them away on Friday night. Breslow and Hill? Don't laugh -- the Orioles might very well sign those two guys this off-season.

Anyway, it's just about over, now, as the best the Birds can do is a record of 84-78 if they somehow manage to win their last eight games in a row. Even then, that probably wouldn't be good enough to grab the second and final wild card spot. On top of that, it's highly likely the Toronto Blue Jays are going to clinch the American League East title here in Baltimore this coming week. Watching them celebrate on our field? Uggghhh, no thanks.

And speaking of getting hammered, the Maryland football team got clobbered in Morgantown yesterday, falling 45-6 to the West Virginia Mountaineers. It's not worth getting into, really. WVU lead 38-0 before calling off the dogs in the second half, as the Terps fell to 2-2. Based on the social media outcry, the faithful down in College Park are starting to get a little restless after Saturday's shellacking in Morgantown.

Meanwhile, Towson dropped a tough one at Elon on Saturday in their CAA opener, 17-13, falling to 2-2 overall. The Tigers drove 60 yards to get in the red zone with time waning, but QB Connor Frazier fumbled the center exchange with 11 seconds left and the Tigers were unable to get off another play. Frazier did set the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 132 and threw for 151 yards on 19-of-34 passing, but none of that will matter to coach Rob Ambrose after a tough conference loss at Elon.

american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 85 - 69 8
Astros 81 - 74 7
Angels 80 - 74 8 ½
Twins 79 - 75 8
Indians 77 - 76 9 3
Orioles 76 - 78 8
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today's main storylines - ravens vs. bengals


*There's a first time for everything -- There's only one active NFL team that's never started a season 0-3. That, of course, would be the Ravens. Stats like that don't really mean anything, but they're still worth noting. In my mind, it's more simple than that. I don't think the Ravens are an 0-3 football team. I know they haven't played well on both sides of the ball for 120 minutes thus far in 2015, which is why they're 0-2 to start the season, but they could also VERY easily be 2-0. An 0-3 start would dig a deep, deep hole. A win today, though, and they're one eighth of the way towards their goal of finishing 8-0 at home this season. My guess is if they finish 8-0 in Baltimore during this regular season, they're making the playoffs. That effort starts today.

*Which Ravens defense shows up? -- To borrow a line from the great movie, "Can't Buy Me Love", Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees went from totally chic (Week 1 at Denver) to totally geek (Week 2 at Oakland) in the span of seven days. Which defense of his will post today when the Bengals come to town? Will the real Jimmy Smith make an appearance this afternoon and limit the production of Cincinnati's talented wide receiver, A.J. Green? What about Lardarius Webb? Can he rebound from a lackluster performance at Oakland last Sunday? And, most importantly, will the Ravens' defensive line stand up and be counted today or will they get slapped around like they did last week when the Raiders manhandled them in the trenches?

*Playing tight or playing free? -- The Ravens are in unfamiliar territory today, as they've never been 0-2 in the Harbaugh/Flacco era and they know, unless they produce a wild miracle, an 0-3 start to the campaign would severely damage their 2015 post-season hopes. So, how do they react this afternoon? Tight? Or loose? It's nothing short of a playoff game this afternoon for the Ravens. Will they play with that sort intensity and be able to produce a performance worthy of a victory? Or is the moment going to be too big for them?

*Can the offense score enough points? -- It figures to be a somewhat low-scoring game, that is if you're of the mindset that 30 total points is "low scoring". If that's the case, can the Ravens score enough on the Cincinnati defense? And, if so, how will they do it? Joe Flacco still has Steve Smith and a cast of no names to throw to, although Crockett Gilmore's first half performance in Oakland last Sunday probably gets him out of the "no-name" category and into "throw the ball more often to him, please" status. Those two, though, make up 90% of the Ravens passing yards possibilities, unless Joe Flacco gets a couple of the running backs involved in the passing game. As usual, the offense will go as Flacco goes. If the 8th year quarterback has a solid game, the Ravens will likely win. If he doesn't, they won't.


percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game at Oakland and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

41% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances Cincinnati wins today?"

67% - Chances of the Bengals holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

26% - The chances Flacco doesn't throw an interception?

44% - What are the chances Justin Forsett runs for over 100 yards?

39% - The chances any WR other than Steve Smith catches a TD pass?

3% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?

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put your money where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only", although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

Like all good gamblers, I'm always looking for a new way to pick the games. An "edge", you might say. So, I turned to my very smart 8-year old son Ethan to help me with a few of the games...he picked the Steelers/Rams, Eagles/Jets and Dolphins/Bills. I picked the other two. I'm 4-6 to start the season, let's see if EJ helps me.

X
Carolina improves to 3-0 on the season.

Saints at Panthers (-9.5) -- Here we go again. For the 3rd week in a row, I'm going with the Panthers, who are 2-0 on the year and have covered in both wins, too. I admit, 9.5 points for a division game is A LOT of points, but the Saints don't have Drew Brees and the Panthers' defense should be able to limit New Orleans to ten points. Take Carolina and give the 9.5 here, as the Panthers come out on top 21-10.

Steelers at Rams (-1) -- This one pretty much comes down to "who do I think will win?" since it's only a one-point spread and I don't see how the Rams -- albeit with an improved defense -- can limit the high-flying Pittsburgh offense. If the Rams can jump out to a lead and then run the ball a little to shorten the game, that gives them a chance at winning. If it's a shootout, I like Pittsburgh. I went against the Steelers last Sunday and paid the price. I'm not making that mistake today. I like Pittsburgh to win, 29-26.

Eagles at Jets (-2) -- I have no idea at all how the Jets are 2-0 on the season, but last Monday night's win in Indianapolis was an impressive defensive performance to say the least. I'm not picking the Jets as much as I'm picking AGAINST the Eagles. Too bad Philly's away today or they could have Pope Francis stop by the stadium and give them a super-blessing before the game. I'll take New York to cover -- Jets win, 20-16.

Broncos (-3) at Lions -- Geez, can the Broncos really get to 3-0? And will the Lions start the campaign at 0-3 by losing their home opener? I don't know what to make of Denver and Peyton Manning. They COULD be 0-2, and by all rights, should be, as Steve Smith dropped a game-winning pass in Week 1 and the Chiefs fumbled the ball and the game away last Monday night in K.C. as Denver won in the final seconds. I see a little market correction today, as the Lions cover and win outright, 23-21.

Bills at Dolphins (-3) -- Not sure what to make of the Dolphins, who were gifted two road wins to start the season and somehow lost one of them when they fell at Jacksonville last Sunday. Buffalo got the Cleat of Reality at home a week ago when New England punked them. I like Miami to win today in their home opener, although I think Buffalo gives a representative performance. Let's go with the Dolphins, 24-20.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I'm 2-0 in "Best Bets", but admittedly don't feel uber-great about any of the five games above. Because the Eagles are struggling so bad, I'm going to take the Jets and that 20-16 win I'm forecasting for this week's Best Bet pick.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-3

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 4-6

BEST BET FOR THE SEASON: 2-0

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How Drew sees the Ravens/Bengals game --

X
Ravens break it open in the 4th and win.

Weather could play a role today if the rain showers hang around longer or are heavier than anticipated, and field conditions change. Weather notwithstanding, I like the Ravens to try and establish the run in this one to keep the Bengals offense from one of those 16 or 17 possession games that could spell trouble for the Baltimore defense. I really do think that's a key today. How many times does Cincinnati's offense get on the field? If it's 15 or less, I like Baltimore's chances. We've seen in both of the first two games (and I realize this games were in hot weather and on the road, two obvious factors) both Denver and Oakland putting together sustained late-game drives that took advantage of a worn-down Baltimore defense. It's important to keep that Bengals offense off the field as much as possible today.

As for how it plays out, I'll buy stock in the Ravens defense today. I think they bounce back from last Sunday's fiasco in Oakland and Pees uses the blitz to pressure and frustrate Andy Dalton and Company. The Bengals' QB will throw two interceptions in this one, including one in the 4th quarter by Lardarius Webb that will set up an insurance TD pass from Flacco to Gilmore. Ravens lead at half, 10-3, and 13-7 heading into the fourth quarter, then tack on ten more points to win their first game of the year, 23-7.


DMD readers chime in via #Twitter with their picks

@reemer686 -- Ravens 23-Bengals 20

@Tehan55 -- Ravens 24-Bengals 21

@frozenropes_11 -- Ravens 16-Bengals 13

@Jmonicae923 -- Ravens 24-Bengals 20

@bucknutty5 -- Bengals 26-Ravens 19

@JoeFlaccoFan5 -- Bengals 30-Ravens 20


FOLLOW DREW FORRESTER ON TWITTER -- @itsahooded4iron

Saturday
September 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 26

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you can just tell...the red sox want this

Remember back on September 29, 2011 when Robert Andino's walk-off hit -- coupled with Tampa Bay's win seconds later -- eliminated the Red Sox from the playoffs? The O's 4-3 win in that season finale put the nails in an epic Boston September-collapse, as the Red Sox owned a 9-game lead in the wild card chase as the month commenced. The Orioles, you'll recall, jumped around like Kevin Bacon in the movie "Footloose" after the game, celebrating as if THEY, not Tampa Bay, had just finagled their way into the post-season. Back in those days, eliminating someone else from the playoffs was about as close as the O's could come to doing something worth celebrating. They didn't have a lot of "native ability", to borrow a line from "Tin Cup".

Fast forward now, four years later, to last night's series opener in Boston, where the Red Sox -- out of the playoff chase this seasnon -- played like their post-season life was on the line in a 7-0 win over the O's that had the Red Sox looking a lot like the '27 Yankees. There aren't many guys left from that 2011 team that choked away the season in Baltimore in that 3-game series, but there are enough guys who remember it (Pedroia and Ortiz in particular) to make a difference. And you can just bet that anyone who WASN'T there in 2011 got the message before last night's game from the fiery second baseman or the power-hitting designated hitter. "We need to get some revenge this weekend..."

Now, the scenario IS completely different, of course. In 2011, the Red Sox merely needed to win two games in Baltimore and they were, at worst, headed to a one-game "winner take all" affair to decide the wild card winner. They didn't NEED any help to get to the post-season. It was on THEIR racket. The Orioles, meanwhile, need to win games -- a lot of them -- over the next 10 days and have about six other crazy things happen in order for their playoff hopes to burn more brightly. That said, the Red Sox -- this weekend -- can do to the Orioles what the Orioles did to them in 2011. They can win two or three games and put an end to the O's playoff hopes.

Last night, anyway, Boston played like eliminating the Orioles is an important item on their checklist. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then, in the 6th inning, Ortiz lofted a fly ball to medium-deep right field that Dariel Alvarez somehow couldn't get to and Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts both scored to make it 4-0 -- with Pedroia sliding in to home head first and Bogaerts sliding in feet-first...literally ten yards apart from one another. Pedroia had to wait to make sure Alvarez didn't catch the ball (which, he should have) and by the time he rounded third, Bogaerts was hot on his heels. It was quite a sight to see two players almost literally reach home plate at the same time, but that's what happened when the two slid in within a split second of each other to put the game away.

Oh, and here's the real kicker. Rich Hill -- yep, that Rich Hill, the one who got released by the Nationals earlier this season and was pitching for something called the Long Island Ducks back in June -- threw a masterful two-hit shutout last night against one of his former teams, the Orioles. Rich-freakin'-Hill, ladies and gentlemen. Two hits allowed, ten strikeouts. Dude couldn't get the bat boy out when he pitched here six years ago.

The O's didn't lose a lot of ground last night, as the Astros (74 losses now) and Twins (75) both lost, but the Angels (74 losses) won and so, too, did the Indians, who now have 76 losses, one fewer than the O's (76-77). You can just tell by the way they're playing -- the Red Sox would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to put losses 78 and 79 on the O's this weekend and give them a taste of what 2011 felt like for them.


SATURDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
in
BOSTON
W. Chen
10-7, 3.36
C. Breslow
0-3, 4.53
4:05 PM EDT
FENWAY PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 84 - 69 9
Astros 80 - 74 8
Angels 79 - 74 9 ½
Twins 78 - 75 9
Indians 76 - 76 10 3
Orioles 76 - 77 9
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pga tour championship -- spieth makes his move

With current world #1 player Jason Day moving backwards -- and the $10,000,000 FedEx Cup bonus and Player of the Year honors up grabs, still -- Jordan Spieth seized the moment on Friday to climb within striking distance of leader Henrik Stenson at the season-ending TOUR Championship at East Lake GC in Atlanta.

X
After struggling for a few weeks, Jordan Spieth appears to be back on track and poised to make a run at the FedEx Cup championship this weekend.

Day could only manage a one-over-par round of 71 on Friday, slipping to even for the tournament and nine shots behind Stenson, who shot 68 yesterday after an opening round 63 on Thursday. It was Spieth who made the most noise on Friday, with no blemishes on his scorecard in posting a four-birdie round of 66 to climb into second place at 6-under-par. Paul Casey (-5) and Zach Johnson (-4) are still hanging around, but that's about it. It's looking like a weekend shootout involving Stenson, Spieth and the aforementiond Casey and Johnson, unless someone off the pace fires Saturday-Sunday rounds of 65-65, which is possible, of course.

If Spieth manages to win the event, it would not only lock up the $10 million bonus but would most certainly give him the Player of the Year award as well. Most PGA Tour followers believe Day had climbed into a virtual deadlock with Spieth for the award after his torrid play over the last two months and that this week's event at East Lake would decide the winner.


bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


That sound you heard is the Ravens season running off the rails if they don't find a way to beat the Bengals on Sunday. The fact that the Ravens are clearly more desperate than the 2-0 Bengals, and that they are playing at home, are a couple of the intangibles that heavily lean in the Ravens' favor. Oh yeah, and the Ravens are 13-1 at home in September under coach John Harbaugh. (Then again, that "1" was last year's 23-16 loss to ... the Bengals.)

Here are five keys to the game that will dictate whether the Ravens earn a season-salvaging win:

* Rush the passer

Derek Carr had all day to roll out, or sit back in the pocket and wait for his receivers to come open. The Ravens must come up with a better pass rush this week. Whether that's from newly signed Jason Babin, who didn't play last week, or Elvis Dumervil, still looking for his first sack, or a corner or safety coming on a disguised blitz, the Ravens must generate pressure on Andy Dalton. Dalton is 4-4 against the Ravens, with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and has been sacked 16 times in those eight games. But Dalton has not been sacked this season.

* Defend the deep ball

The Ravens know A.J. Green will be getting the ball. But the Ravens cannot afford to let Green beat them deep, as he did last year on a 77-yard game-winning touchdown, or as he did on a Hail Mary, 51- yard bomb that forced overtime in 2013. But the Bengals present more problems than Green, and the Ravens had issues across the board last week. Jimmy Smith was beaten deep on the Raiders first touchdown, and Lardarius Webb bit hard on a quarterback rollout by Carr, leaving Michael Crabtree open 10 yards behind him. Only an underthrown ball kept that from being a touchdown. The Ravens corners and safeties need to be on the same page too, so everyone knows if there is help over the top.

* Control the Bengals running game

The Bengals rank fourth in the league, averaging 151 yards a game on the ground. Giovani Bernard racked up 123 yards on 20 carries last week against San Diego, and Jeremy Hill is a nice second option, though Hill might be in Marvin Lewis' doghouse after losing two fumbles last week. The Ravens will need a big game from Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan in the trenches. The Ravens last year held Bernard under 50 yards in both games, and have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 28 games, by far the longest stretch in the league.

* Receivers need to step up

During one stretch last week, Joe Flacco didn't even pretend he was looking to pass to anyone other than Steve Smith Sr. He finished with 10 catches, but for large stretches of the game, every other wide receiver disappeared. Kamar Aiken (5-89) came on late after an early fumble, but Marlon Brown (2-12), Michael Campanaro (no catches) and Darren Waller (no catches) were no factor. It's pretty obvious the game plan for the Bengals will be containing Smith. So someone else needs to step up.

* Avoid penalties

The defensive holding penalty on Will Hill last week that negated a would-be, game-clinching interception was questionable. The roughing-the-passer penalty a few plays before that on Timmy Jernigan was not. "A foolish penalty," coach John Harbaugh called it, "really inexcusable. There was no reason for that whatsoever." All it did was tack on 15 yards to the Raiders' ultimate game-winning drive. The Ravens also had a forgettable sequence with back-to-back false starts. Overall, the Ravens have committed just 13 penalties through two games, among the lowest total in the league. But the Bengals receivers, and officials who seem to give every edge downfield to the offense, will be a challenge. The Ravens need to be crisp and clean.

Prediction

The Ravens have never begun 0-3, and they won't this time, either. The defense can't possibly be as bad as it was last week, and the home edge and a healthy dose of desperation will be strong motivation. Ravens 27, Bengals 24.

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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
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Marsh
Insurance & Financial
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game-of-the-week -- st. paul's at john carroll

St. Paul’s Head Coach Paul Bernstorf and his Crusaders ran into a buzz saw last night.

Of course, if you follow @morningdish on Twitter, you already know that, as #DMD was live, on-the-scene in Bel Air last night to get a first-hand look at the talented offense of John Carroll high school.

John Carroll quarterback Kurt Rawlings took possession after the opening kickoff and went right to work. Rawlings challenged the young Crusader defense right out of the gate with a 40 yard toss that was broken up nicely. The Crusaders wouldn’t keep pace for long though, as Rawlings connected on a first-series TD pass to WR Nico Rice. The extra point was good and the Patriots went up 7-0.

X
John Carroll wide receiver Alex Rasmussen had a big night on Friday in J.C.'s 43-0 win over St. Paul's.

St. Paul’s quarterback, 5’8” sophomore Kevin Madden and the Crusader offense took the field for their first possession of the night but were forced to punt after being held in check by the John Carroll defense. The Patriots went back to work quickly when Rawlings connected with WR Alex Rasmussen for John Carroll's second score of the evening. The Patriot defense held St. Paul’s to another four and out and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, Rawlings and Rasmussen teamed up again for another touchdown.

Cue the buzz saw.

On St. Paul’s next possession Crusader QB Madden was intercepted by Patriots MLB Damon Lloyd giving John Carroll great field position. Patriot WR Rice reeled in his second Rawlings TD pass and the Patriots never looked back. Later in the quarter, John Carroll wide receivers Josh Payne-White and Ky’el Hemby were both on the receiving end of Rawlings strikes and the Patriots took a 40-0 lead into halftime.

The Crusaders, looking to generate some offense, made a QB change to begin the second half, electing to put 6’ sophomore Joe Gustofson under center. St. Paul’s was moving the ball more effectively until their opening drive was cut short by a fumble, recovered by John Carroll's Pat Ray. The turnover resulted in three more points from a Patriot field goal. St. Paul’s next possession stalled after another fumble, recovered by Mitch Daugherty, and John Carroll took to the ground game behind RB Devin Darrington.

The Crusaders were able to put together a couple of sustained drives in the fourth quarter but mistakes and penalties kept them from turning them into points. St. Paul’s is a young team and young teams learn from their mistakes. The Crusaders will be back. Last night belonged to the Patriots.

Final score from Harford County on Friday night -- John Carroll 43 - St. Paul’s 0

Friday
September 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 25

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birds answer their "they've quit" critics

A couple of weeks ago here at #DMD, I authored a piece that focused on a popular topic in town...had the Orioles "quit" on the remainder of the 2015 schedule? If you recall, I took the team's side on that one, saying they hadn't quit, but at times were looking "disinterested". Quit, though? No, that wasn't the right word for what they were doing.

Here we are, now, the season having been reduced to a 10-game sprint, and the Orioles officially have a puncher's chance of miraculously claiming that second American League wild card spot. Although the Yankees haven't officially clinched the first wild card position, I think it's safe to say they're going to earn it and host the one-game playoff in a couple of weeks. That second spot, though, remains up for grabs, with the Astros (73 losses) leading the Angels (74) and Twins (74) by one game in the loss column. The Orioles and Indians both lurk just three games back, each with 76 losses. Yes, it would still take a mini-miracle for the Astros, Angels and Twins to all finish, say, with 84 wins and the O's to win 9 of their last 10 and end up with 85, but that's what it would take, most likely. So...I call that a mini-miracle.

No matter what happens -- and if you're looking for my "official" prediction, I think the Angels claim the other wild card spot with 85 wins -- we now know this: the Orioles did NOT quit on the 2015 season a few weeks back when they were trailing the Astros/Rangers by 7.5 games. They've won 11 of their last 15 games, including a 5-1 road trip to Tampa Bay and Washington that would have been a perfect 6-0 if not for Zach Britton inexplicably coughing up last Sunday's game in St. Petersburg by allowing two runs in the 9th inning of a 7-6 defeat to the Rays. And they just swept the Nationals without the services of Adam Jones, who missed the series with back spasms. Oh, and Britton didn't appear in any of the wins over the Nats, either, as Darren O'Day earned the save in all three victories.

X
Lots of rumors are flying around about the relationship between Buck and Dan, but it hasn't kept the club from trying to steal a playoff spot for the 3rd time in 4 years.

Despite Thursday's published reports of an inner-office rift between Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette, the team just keeps chugging along, with Showalter's cool, take-it-as-it-comes style having clearly rubbed off on his roster of over-achievers in 2015. Just think how good the team might have been this season had Duquette actually tried to improve the club last winter instead of adding the likes of Travis Snider, Everth Cabrera, Chris Parmelee and Wesley Wright -- none of whom are with the club now as they try to create one of the greatest stories in franchise history by playing .800 ball over the final four weeks to steal a playoff spot.


american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 84 - 68 10
Astros 80 - 73 9
Twins 78 - 74 11
Angels 78 - 74 11
Orioles 76 - 76 10
Indians 75 - 76 11 4
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like the orioles, dmd's "3140" podcast is making a comeback

Another edition of "3140" is available for your listening enjoyment, with commentary on the Ravens, this week's NFL schedule, the resurging Orioles and the PGA Tour finale at East Lake CC in Atlanta. Give it a listen, please, and support our great corporate partners who make "3140" a reality every week.

#DMD 3140 Podcast
September 25, 2015

#dmd corporate partner spotlight

Every Friday here, I give you a brief overview of three of our corporate partners at Drew's Morning Dish in an attempt to give you a more detailed look at what they do and how they might be able to help you if the need arises on your end. And, I'd like to once again say "thank you" for your continued patronage of our #DMD family.

With winter approaching, now is the perfect time to make sure your home's heating system is up to speed and ready to tackle the harsh temperatures that will be here before you know it. Our friends at Advanced Heating and Coolingwill take care of all of your heating (and cooling) needs, including a system check-up for you and sound, non-gouging advice on what improvements, if any, need to be made in preparation for the upcoming winter months. Advanced Heating and Cooling has a great slogan: Be educated, not sold. And they mean it, too. They want to be YOUR Heating specialists, but they believe the way to do that is to give you sound, practical advice and then offer you outstanding, reasonably priced service. If you're interested in having someone come out and check your heating system, give them a call at (410) 833-9445.

Our friends at ABC Rental of Rosedale have been #DMD partners since we kicked things off here in August of 2014 and we're appreciative of their continued support and urge you to consider "renting" instead of buying the next time you have a major project at home or work. I always use the snow blower example because it's the one necessity that you absolutely don't need to purchase this winter when we get that foot of a snow sometime in January or February. Why shell out $400 for a snow blower (that you'll use once or twice this winter) when you can just rent one for a day or two from ABC Rental of Rosedale? Reasons to rent? Well, you don't spend a lot of money, you don't have to store it at your home and you don't have to maintain it, clean it, etc. Just rent it from ABC Rental of Rosedale. You'd be shocked at what you can rent from them. Check out their website at www.abcrentalstore.com.

If your morning routine calls for a quick stop for coffee, there's only one place in Baltimore to do that -- and it's Royal Farms. They've also been partners with #DMD since our inception last August (in fact, they were the FIRST local company to sign on with us) and they're opening stores left and right in the area. They have a brand new store going up on Mountain Road in Joppa, just a half-mile from Interstate 95, and a new mega-store on Nursery Road, right near BWI Airport. Whether it's morning coffee, lunch-time subs and sandwiches, or a family dinner of chicken and western fries, Royal Farms has it all for you!

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

Every Friday here at #DMD, our EPL reporter, Matthew Carroll, previews three of the weekend's top games in the English Premier League. Here's a look at the trio of biggies coming up tomorrow, Saturday, September 26.

Saturday (all times Eastern)

7:45am – Manchester City @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

Hopefully you weren’t planning on sleeping in on Saturday morning! After marquee matchups to kick off the last few weekends, Matchweek 7 of the Barclays Premier League gives us another primetime fixture to start the weekend when Manchester City travels to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham.

City will be looking to bounce back from their first league setback of the season, with last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home to West Ham United not only bringing an end to their campaigns perfect start, but also their eleven game league winning streak and a stretch of 572 minutes without allowing a goal. City have won their last five road matches and eight out of the last nine against Tottenham, scoring 28 goals overall and putting four goals or more past Spurs on four separate occasions. Despite a distinctive edge in the recent head to head matchups, the North Londoners still a hold an overall lead in the series and will take hope from their current two game winning streak, and only one loss in their last eight.

Both sides have fresh injury concerns with City midfield maestro David Silva and captain Vincent Kompany game time decisions with calf injuries respectively, while Spurs have already ruled out Nabil Bentaleb and Mousa Dembele and Ryan Mason a major doubt, which will leave a gaping hole in their defensive midfield and their back four dangerously exposed, which City will look to exploit with their wealth of attacking options.

10am – Arsenal @ Leicester City – King Power Stadium, USA Network

Leicester have been one of the feel good stories of the young Premier League season. Promoted back to England’s top flight only one year ago they are unbeaten in their first six matches, sitting in fourth place in the league table, two points ahead of their Saturday opponent.

They continue to impress under new manager Claudio Ranieri with their style of play and their seemingly relentless will to give up, coming from two goals down in their last two games to take all three points against Aston Villla and earn a draw with Stoke. Their status and staying power near the top of the table will be put to the test when Arsenal visits the King Power Stadium, with the Foxes failing to beat the Gunners in seventeen of their last eighteen tries (W1 D6 L11), managing to keep a clean sheet only once.

History and their current defensive form – the Foxes have allowed at least goal in every game this season – does not bode well against an Arsenal side that continue to lead the league in shots taken, though their conversion rate has so far been lacking. If they begin to turn that around this weekend, there will no coming back from any deficit for Leicester in this one.

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Newcastle United – St. James’ Park, NBC Sports Network

The afternoon kickoff has Chelsea and manager Jose Mourinho making a return to his unhappy hunting grounds to take on Newcastle United at St. James’ Park, one of only two stadiums the Blues manager has yet to ever taste victory, failing to win in five attempts and losing their last three (D2 L3). Mourinho will be encouraged by his sides recent run of form that has seen them win their last three games in all competitions following a sluggish start to the current Premier League campaign as well as their opponents recent struggles, winless so far on the year and coming off an embarrassing mid-week loss to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup, the combination of which just may have first year manager Steve McClaren out of a job come Sunday morning.

Newcastle striker and summer signing Aleksandar Mitrovic is in contention to make the starting eleven after completing his suspension for his straight red card against Arsenal in Match Week 4 while Chelsea will be without their main scoring threat Diego Costa as he serves the second game of a three match ban handed down by the FA for violent conduct (also against Arsenal), which could mean that Loic Remy gets the start against his former club after scoring in the League Cup at mid-week.


#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
brought to you by
Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

As the 2015 High School football season rolls on, we welcome you to our weekly spotlight on the local scene, brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. You'll be able to check in here in each week to see what's happening on the Baltimore area high school football scene, and you should check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

This week, the #DMD High School Sports Spotlight will head north to Harford County to focus on a matchup between the John Carroll Patriots and the St. Paul’s Crusaders, both perennial MIAA B conference powers.

Head Coach Paul Bernstorf and his Crusaders will take the field at 7pm tonight sporting a 1-1 record after a tough 24-9 loss to Severn. St. Paul’s is looking to recover from that loss behind the strong arm of sophomore Joseph Gustafson and the strong hands of 6’4”, 210 lbs. classmate Zyon Jenkins. Together, they can put plenty of points on the board. This pair is young but what they lack in age they make up for in talent. Look for them to challenge John Carroll with the deep ball tonight.

The Crusader defense opened the season strong, holding Carver to a shutout in a 58-0 St. Paul’s win. The defense looks to bounce back tonight after being tested by Severn in the Crusaders last game. They are young as is the entire Crusader team, fielding only eleven seniors, but they have had two weeks to prepare for this game. They will be ready.

Be certain, this is a game that St. Paul’s has circled on their schedule. Why? Because two years ago they had great hopes for their QB of the future, Kurt Rawlings.

Until he transferred to, you guessed it…John Carroll.

It just made sense when Keith Rawlings was named as John Carroll’s head football coach to bring his 6’3”, 200 lbs. son Kurt along with him.

X
St. Paul's transfer Kurt Rawlings has been a welcome addition to the John Carroll football team and tonight, he goes up against his former team in our #DMD Game of the Week.

Kurt Rawlings, reportedly heading Yale, has been lighting up the scoreboard this season. His stats only four games into this season - 16 TDs, 2 ints., over 1,200 yard passing in 96 attempts, and is completing over 70% of his passes. Rawlings most important stat though, is in the classroom, 4.0 GPA. The Rawlings-led fast paced, pass first offense is scoring an average of 43 points per game. With wins over two MIAA A teams (Loyola and Calvert Hall), John Carroll boasts a 4-0 record coming into tonight’s game.

Senior Alex Rasmussen, a 6’3”, 200 lbs. WR is one of Rawlings favorite targets. Rasmussen, no stranger to the classroom either, is being courted by a host of Ivy League Colleges. The Patriot ground game features 5’10”, 200 lbs., Junior RB Devin Darrington. Averaging 7 yards per carry and over 120 yards per game behind an explosive and versatile offensive line, Darrington provides productive balance to the Patriot passing game.

The Patriot defense is sturdy and stout, holding opponents to 18 points per game and led by 6’1”, 235 lbs. MLB Damon Lloyd. Once the game starts, Lloyd, who also stands out on the offensive line, seldom leaves the field. A true throwback player. In an era that demands offensive and defense platooning, Lloyd’s high motor play on both sides of the ball produces 16 tackles per game and the kind of high intensity and high impact that makes mothers cringe and coaches grin.

John Carroll is certain to challenge St. Paul’s tonight. Is St. Paul’s up to the challenge? Come out and see for yourself! Kickoff is 7:30 pm under the lights at John Carroll. If you can’t make it to our #DMD High School Sports Spotlight Game of the week, you may find one that you can support in our #DMD TOP 15 rankings and schedule listed below.

If you don't remember what sports are all about, go a high school game. You’ll remember!

Thursday
September 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 24

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"The screen door slams...Mary's dress waves. Like a vision she dances across the porch, as the radio plays..."

Bruce Springsteen turned 66 years old yesterday. This, what you're about to read, was supposed to be in Wednedsay's edition of Drew's Morning Dish, but, in living proof that we're all getting older, I forgot to insert it in yesterday's #DMD. You see, I'm apparently getting older, too. That -- and I got so wrapped up in highlighting the outrageous stuff I heard Ravens fans say on the radio on Tuesday, I somehow simply forgot to take the piece I had written on Tuesday to honor Bruce's birthday and put it in yesterday's edition of Drew's Morning Dish.

I remember exactly where I was the first time I ever heard Springsteen. The lyrics above -- "The screen door slams, Mary's dress waves" -- come from the opening song on the "Born to Run" album called "Thunder Road". I was standing in the driveway of a neighbor's house, who was working on his car, and that song was playing on his stereo. Halfway through "Thunder Road", I said to my friend, Fred Ravadge, "Who's that?" and he said, "Bruce Springsteen, he's from New Jersey."

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Bruce in 1975.

And I was hooked. Little did I know that day, that later on in my adult life, I'd go on to see Bruce, and his E Street Band, twenty times (and counting, I hope). In the same way that Jimmy Buffet is an "acquired taste", I can see where folks would think the same thing about Springsteen. Buffet sings about the beach and the sunshine and life's easier days. Springsteen, to me, at least, writes and sings music about elements of life we (or at least I) all more readily identify with -- the 9-to-5 job, grinding out a successful career and family life, and the expected strife and tensions the "everyday guy" experiences as he tries to make something of himself. Bruce writes a lot about self worth, girls, women and the journey from boy to man. Maybe it's the East Coast bias thing, but Freehold, New Jersey seemed a lot like my hometown of Glen Burnie, Maryland when I was a teenager and into my early 20's in the 1980's when Springsteen really made it big.

I've certainly taken notice of the dichotomy that exists in Springstee's life and career. He went from the kid from New Jersey who made his mark on the music industry by writing about struggle, old cars, warm beer and the battle within -- to a gazillionaire, with homes scattered all over the country, never worrying about the price of anything he buys. What he did, though, was make good on the promise of the tone of a lot of the songs he wrote in the 1970's. "It might not be good, now but if you keep working at it, and put in the effort that's required, anything you have on your plate (school, job, family, career) can be turned into a success story."

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Bruce in 2015.

That much is true, even still today. Despite the on-going battles and tensions in our country, there's still plenty of promise and hope out there. You CAN make it, and make it big, even, That was always Bruce's message, from his 1973 debut release -- "Greetings from Asbury Park" -- to the 2014 album Rolling Stone rated #2 on their "best of" list -- "High Hopes". I'm a Springsteen junkie for that reason, mainly. For a kid growing up in Glen Burnie, he reminded me it's always better than it might appear it is right now. There's still time to get it right. Your best days are still ahead of you. But you have to work at it. Nothing comes easy or free.

Springsteen drives this point home: You CAN do the best work of your career, but you need to stop talking about doing it and actually go out and get it done. That's what I hear from him, anyway.

Happy Birthday to the great Bruce Springsteen.

On a side note, yesterday was also John Harbaugh's birthday. Two of my favorite men with birthdays on the same day...I hope they enjoyed their special day.

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o's win again, creep closer to the playoff race

I promised about ten days ago that I wouldn't get giddy and excited about the prospects for late-September miracle run from the Orioles until they got to within two games in the loss column of the second wild card spot. Well, with last night's win in Washington (4-3 over the Nationals) and Houston's earlier loss to the Angels, 6-5, the O's are within THREE games of the Astros. It's time, almost, to start dreaming a little bit.

Yes, the O's (75-76) still have to climb over the Angels (74 losses) and Twins (73), so it's an uphill hike to the say the least, but they're now within striking distance of the Astros and that second wild card spot. Manny Machado's 2-run home run in the 7th inning last night was the game-winning blow for the Birds, who finish up the series with the Nationals today at 4:05 pm and then head to Boston for a weekend series with the struggling and fading Red Sox.

The real excitement from Wednesday night's game came in the top of the 9th inning when Manny Machado was hit by a pitch from Nats' closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon was ejected and Machado called him a "coward" afterwards. No one despises throwing at a guy more than me. I can't stand it. I hate all of that silly "unwritten rule" stuff in baseball. Can't stare at your home run. Can't flip your bat. Can't run around the bases fast -- can't run around the bases slow. Can't throw inside. I hate it all.

That said, Machado has been around the game long enough to know about all of those silly nuances. Complaining about getting hit by a pitch is like complaining that someone stole your parking spot on a busy Saturday the week before Christmas. It happens. Just move on and try not to let it ruin the rest of your day or night. I get so tired of these guys complaining about garbage that, almost universally, they all participate in and endorse when it benefits THEM. Watch and see tonight. Tyler Wilson might "let one slip" when Bryce Harper comes to the plate. Does that make Wilson a coward, too? Or just a kid bowing to some pre-game locker-room pressure from a veteran or two who strolls by his locker and says, "Make sure Harper sports a bruise on his shoulder tonight, OK kid?"


THURSDAY AFTERNOON'S MATCHUP
in
WASHINGTON D.C.
T. Wilson
2-2, 3.72
T. Roark
4-6, 4.73
4:05 PM EDT
NATIONALS PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 83 - 68 11 4
Astros 80 - 73 9
Twins 78 - 73 11 1
Angels 78 - 74 10
Orioles 75 - 76 11 4
Indians 74 - 76 12
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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


OK, so if the Raiders game was a must-win, then this week's home opener against the Bengals is really a must-must-must-or-let's-just-skip-to-2016 win. While it's true the Ravens are just a couple of plays away from being 2-0, the fact is those plays weren't made, and those shortcomings are the main reason the Ravens playoff hopes are already on the brink by the first day of fall.

"We just have to get better," coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. "We have to find a way to make the plays we need to make when we need to make them."

So yes, if Crockett Gillmore comes down with a high pass in the end zone at Denver, the Ravens win. If Flacco doesn't airmail a throw to an open Steve Smith in the end zone at Oakland, the Ravens are probably going to overtime at 37-37. (Although, could you see the Ravens stopping the Raiders in OT? Me neither.) Football isn't like baseball; you don't wake up the next day and play again. You have all week to stew about a loss, and you only have 16 chances to perform during the season. Trip up a couple of times, and 10-6 becomes 8-8 and the playoff ticket flies out the window.

But trying to bring the Ravens fans back from the ledge, look at it another way: With road games at Denver and Pittsburgh in the first four games, the Ravens were probably realistically looking at a 2-2 mark through the first quarter of the season. Now, unless they can steal one at Heinz Field -- which Flacco has certainly done before -- the Ravens are probably no better than 1-3 after the opening quarter. Not ideal, but they could get right back on track if they can steal some other road game -- maybe at Arizona on a Monday night? I know what you're thinking: They couldn't beat the Raiders, but they are going to win at Arizona? Hey, the NFL is nothing if not unpredictable. Sure, the Ravens could go out and win at Arizona. And at Miami. And yes, even at Pittsburgh, where Flacco has done some of his best work of his career.

Granted, that's provided they start playing better.

First things first: They need to deal with Andy Dalton and the Bengals at M&T on Sunday. Harbaugh is always complimentary of his upcoming opponent, so it's not much surprise when he said about the Bengals on Monday, "I do believe it is the most talented team in the league."

The Ravens need to be able to pressure Dalton, or he, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Mohamed Sanu and others will pick apart the Ravens like Carr and the Raiders did. Jason Babin will have another full week of practice this week, so it seems almost certain we'll see him on Sunday. In hindsight, it seems it was a mistake not to activate him against Oakland. And the secondary has to cover better. Lardarius Webb can't bite on a rollout and leave a receiver 10 yards behind him. Kyle Arrington can't let receivers run right by him. Jimmy Smith can't whiff on a jam at the line and let a receiver get two steps behind him.

Was it just two weeks ago that we were raving about the Ravens defense and lamenting offensive woes?

That just goes to show what we know about the 2015 Ravens after two weeks: It has no clear identity. Can its receiver-challenged offense do enough to win? Yes. Can its defense do enough to win? Yes. But can both do enough to lose? Definitely. And that's why the Ravens have left themselves virtually no margin for error right now.

As Harbaugh said, "That’s the situation we find ourselves in going forward. We are going to have to deal with it and work from this position that we’re in and improve and find a way to win some football games."

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go head-to-head with drew in nfl week 3 and win a $50 gift card at glory days

The NFL season is upon us and our friends at Hong Kong Louie have created weekly Contests exclusively for Drew's Morning Dish readers.

Each week, Hong Kong Louie handicaps all the NFL games. For each game, you have the option of selecting the favorite or the underdog. There are no point spreads – you must select the outright winners of the games – the underdogs are awarded commensurately more points than the favorites to reward those who correctly pick the upsets. To score points, you MUST select the WINNER of a game. If you select the winner, you collect the points indicated for that team. If you select the loser, you collect NO POINTS for that game. After all games are decided, each entrants' points for all games are totaled.

Example: If you take the Ravens to beat Cincinnati this Sunday, you receive 100 points if the Ravens win the game. If you select the Bengals, you receive 138 points if they win. If you select the loser of the game, you score NO points. The same follows for all 16 games played this week. When all games are decided, each entrants' score for all games is totaled.

The player who beats Drew's total points and who has the highest point-total of all #DMD contestants wins a $50 gift card to Glory Days. If no one beats Drew's total, the gift card goes into the following week's Contest and thus doubles next weeks' prize value. Simple enough, right? Just go to the Hong Kong Louie website, register, and you're all set for the season. Each week—prior to the Thursday night game at 8:30 pm—you go in, make your picks, and go head-to-head with Drew.

Here's how to enter the #DMD Contest:

  1. You must be a registered member of HongKongLouie.com to enter the #DMD Contest (it's FREE to register and there is NO obligation of any kind). Many #DMD readers are already registered members of HongKongLouie.com. [And several have already won HongKongLouie cash prizes!] If you are not already registered, it literally takes only thirty seconds to sign up. Register here.
  2. Once you create an account (or if you already have one), go to the #DMD exclusive contest page.
  3. Copy-and-paste or type this password — 3140 — into the password area in the above (#2) link. [Please don't share the password with anyone who is not a #DMD reader.]
  4. Make your selections of the winners of all the games, and then answer the Tiebreaker questions.
  5. At the conclusion of the last Sunday night game of the week, each entrants' score will be published on any computer or phone on which he or she is logged in to HongKongLouie.com.
  6. If you have any questions about the Contest or the log-in procedures, please e-mail: support@hongkonglouie.com. We realize that the explanation here is more complex than the process of entering the Contest, and for that, we apologize. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible with any clearer explanations necessary.
  7. #DMD readers are also cordially invited to participate in the non-exclusive Hong Kong Louie Contests, and compete against all the world for the cash prizes to the winners.
Wednesday
September 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 23

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i don't know how y'all enjoy football when you're filled with doom and gloom

Those poor guys on the FM sports talk station in town are just about ready to hang themselves, I think. Call after call, expert after expert, folks in Bawlmer chime in with their negativity towards the Ravens and their 0-2 start. (I'd go as far as suggesting perhaps they don't take phone calls after a loss, but another station in town already tries that.) It's amazing to me how many people in our city cave in when the club hits a bad patch. I experienced it first-hand during my 12 years on the radio and now, just listening and soaking it all in, I think I've discovered that the attitude from the fans is actually WORSE than I perceived it was when I was taking calls for a living.

I do understand the financial connection people have to the team. If you're a Ravens season ticket holder, you likely consider yourself a minority-investory in the club, not unlike what the people in Green Bay feel about themselves since they are, actually, investors in the Packers. So, in an odd kind of way, I do see how someone who plunks down $3,200 for four season tickets might have more sweat-equity in the Ravens than a non-ticket-holder (like me) does. I get it. But, I also think you're robbing yourself of the enjoyment aspect of being a supporter of the club if the only measuring stick of your happiness-level is based on whether the club wins or loses this Sunday.

And these phone calls, suggestions, comments, and knee-jerk reactions...they're nothing if not hilariously out-of-touch with reality. Here are three I heard yesterday:

"Jim Schwartz is out there. He was a coach here before, he knows the style of defense we want to play. Bring Schwartz in as a defensive consultant and tell Pees to take a reduced role." (Yeah, that's a great idea. Pees was the defensive coordinator in week one when the Ravens stymied one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and his talented group of receivers. Eight days later, he needs to go. But let's not fire him. Just tell Pees he's going to have a reduced role while some other guy comes in two weeks into the season and takes over. I'm sure that won't confuse the players at all. Oh, and the caller WAS right about Schwartz; he was a coach in Baltimore once upon a time. From 1996 to 1998.)

X
A talk show caller on Tuesday suggested the fans see the game BETTER than the Ravens' 8th year head coach. And that caller was totally serious.

"It's like Harbaugh doesn't see the same game we see. I heard him in the press conference say he thought the effort was there on Sunday, but we didn't get the job done. I wish he would just say 'Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb stunk it up out there today and I won't let that happen again.'" (Well, you're right...you likely DON'T see the game the same way the coach and his staff sees it. That's true. And there's no coach in the league who is going to put his players on blast like that publicly after a game. It just doesn't work that way. BTW, that wouldn't work in your place of business, either, if your boss had to file some sort of public report at 5pm today and said, "Schmedley was terrible today. Didn't make a sale, took 85 minutes for lunch, and showed up for 4pm appointment at 4:05 pm because traffic was bad on the Beltway." You'd hit the roof, as would any employee.)

"I'm convinced Flacco doesn't study the playbook. It's like he's always a half-step behind things. They need him to put in extra time to make sure he knows what he's doing." (I'd be willing to bet that of the 53 active players on the team's roster that Flacco is one of the first five to arrive at the facility EVERY morning. And he's not there to play racquetball, either. He's there to look at film, study tendencies and offer feedback on the game plan that Marc Trestman is putting together for that week's opponent. A tendency to rely too much on the check-down/short pass? Sure, that might be accurate. Clock management still somewhat of an issue? Yep, but he's never been exceptional at managing the time late in either half. Prone to the occasional (once, twice a season) disaster of a game where he looks like a 3rd stringer? Sure. But one thing Joe Flacco isn't -- and that's UNPREPARED. He studies the playbook like a maniac. He works hard. He's a professional. He can't win every game. No one ever has.)

Those were three of the real doozies. There were plenty more, trust me, including a handful blaming the league and the notion that "they have it out for us" by scheduling these first four games against Denver and Oakland on the road, Cincinnati at home, and four days later in Pittsburgh. "The NFL wants us to finish in last place," someone named Gary said yesterday. And he was serious.

Here's the funny part. Two catches -- just two -- and the Ravens are 2-0. If Steve Smith (or even Crockett Gilmore) catches that ball in the end zone against Denver and then hauls in that tad-too-high throw from Flacco with 2:30 remaining against Oakland, the league's not out to get us...the defensive coordinator doesn't deserve to be demoted, the coach doesn't need to blast his guys to the media, and the quarterback -- who engineered BOTH comebacks -- is the next coming of Johnny Unitas.

Instead, they are what their record says they are: An 0-2 football team...with a saucy group of fans who think the team is happy to have no wins in two tries thus far in 2015. Trust me on this: However angry, annoyed, agitated and disappointed YOU are with the Ravens' 0-2 start, the coaches and players are that multiplied by 100.

Summary? Relax a little bit. There's a lot of football left to be played. It's a crazy, crazy league. Here's proof of that: The Ravens, Seahawks, Giants, Eagles, Colts, Lions and Saints are 0-14 thus far in 2015. Those seven teams -- all of them likely playoff contenders in some fashion this season -- haven't won a game yet. Go have fun on Sunday, root for the team in purple, and let's give them a chance to breathe a little bit before we tear the entire roster and front office apart.

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here's a funny story about the upcoming flyers hockey season

As you may or may not know, it's hockey pre-season right now as NHL teams play a dozen or so games in preparation for the start of next month's 2015-2016 campaign. This week up in Philadelphia, they're distributing Flyers' season tickets and mini-plans. Customers visit the team's offices at the Wells Fargo Center, pick up their tickets, and get to watch the club practice if they arrive between 12 noon and 2pm.

On Tuesday, Ted Connelly of King of Prussia (a Philly suburb) stopped in on his lunch hour to pick up his four season tickets. Ted's a lifelong Flyers fan and is very excited about the prospects for a good season of hockey in Philly. He got his tickets and then headed into downtown Philadelphia to run an errand before he went back to work. Ted parked his car, ran into a store, and when he came back out, he heard a car alarm going off. He looked down the street and saw his lights flashing on and off and saw glass scattered all over the sidewalk on the passenger side of his vehicle. He immediately knew his car had been broken into, right there, in the middle of the city, in broad daylight.

As he started to hurry to his car, a thought came across his mind. "My Flyers season tickets! I left them right there on the front seat! I hope they weren't stolen." As he approached the car, he could barely stand to look inside to see if the tickets were there, or gone.

Much to Ted's surprise, his four season tickets WERE still there...along with a handwritten note, from the person who broke into his car. The note read: "No thanks."


o's win, but so does almost everyone else that matters

The Orioles had as many errors (3) last night as the Nationals had hits (3) in a 4-1 victory at Nationals Park. You know it's a weird night at the ballpark when Ubaldo Jimenez walks five, knocks in a run with a base hit, and gets the victory. Chris Davis and Steve Pearce had RBI's for the Birds -- and even Nolan Reimold managed to contribute a RBI as well for Buck Showalter's team.

The win moved the O's to 74-76 on the year, but they're still five full games behind the Houston Astros in the race for the second American League wild card spot. Although Houston and Cleveland both lost on Tuesday night, the Twins (73 losses) and Angels (74 losses) each won, so they remain ahead of the O's in the wild card standings. It would still take a minor miracle for the Birds to climb over four teams into that last playoff spot; Houston is currently at 80-72, meaning the WORST they could finish is 80-82 (which clearly wouldn't get them a playoff berth). The BEST the O's can finish right now is 86-76. It's starting to be "must-win" every night for the Orioles and they somehow need everyone else to start losing. The only problem? The teams ahead of the Birds are playing one another quite often as the season winds down.

This weekend, for example, Texas plays at Houston. That means one of those two teams is winning on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There's no way for the O's to make up ground on BOTH teams. At this point, the O's have to hope for a Rangers sweep of the Astros. If that happens, though, then the Angels, Twins and Indians better all lose, too. It's looking bleak for the Birds when you look at all of the weekend angles. Then again, they put themselves in this position by losing 11 of 12 in late August/early September. They were simply unable to mathematically recover from that disastrous two weeks of losing.


WEDNESDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
WASHINGTON D.C.
C. Tillman
9-11, 5.19
M. Scherzer
12-11, 2.90
7:05 PM EDT
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american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 83 - 67 12 4
Astros 80 - 72 10
Twins 77 - 73 12 2
Angels 77 - 74 11
Indians 74 - 75 13
Orioles 74 - 76 12 5
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how do you bet against jason day in this week's pga tour finale?

So, the wrap-up event for the 2014-2015 PGA Tour season is this week at East Lake GC in Atlanta, Georgia, and someone's walking home with $10 million. I assume it's going to be Jason Day who wins the $10 million, since all he's done for the last two months is win, win and win some more. That said, golf's a crazy game, and as amazing as he's played since the middle of July, it's almost hard to believe the Australian can keep that kind of play going for one more week.

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There's been a whole of caddy-hugging going on for Jason Day over the last ten weeks. Will the two share one more winning embrace this week at the Tour Championship?

The bonus for Day, now, is he only has to beat 28 other players at East Lake, as opposed to a "full field" of players at a regular event. Only the Top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings get to play the Tour Championship, and with Jim Furyk's withdrawal earlier this week (and no replacement for him), that means they're down to 29 competitors. A host of guys can still win the $10 million, but it's Day, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson who all control their own fate this week. If any of those five win the tournament, they win the $10 million first prize, no matter what anyone else does.

The five guys I listed above will likely all be sniffing around come Sunday, with an outsider like Patrick Reed, who played his college golf two hours away at Augusta State, also having the potential to be lurking when the final day approaches. For the record, I'm going against Day and taking Rickie Fowler to win this week. If Day does win, though, he's your PGA Tour Player of the Year in my opinion. Never before has a guy won two majors in one season (back-to-back no less) and finished second in the other two and NOT won Player of the Year honors, but I say if Day wins this week at East Lake, he edges Jordan Spieth for the award.


go head-to-head with drew in nfl week 3 and win a $50 gift card at glory days

The NFL season is upon us and our friends at Hong Kong Louie have created weekly Contests exclusively for Drew's Morning Dish readers.

Each week, Hong Kong Louie handicaps all the NFL games. For each game, you have the option of selecting the favorite or the underdog. There are no point spreads – you must select the outright winners of the games – the underdogs are awarded commensurately more points than the favorites to reward those who correctly pick the upsets. To score points, you MUST select the WINNER of a game. If you select the winner, you collect the points indicated for that team. If you select the loser, you collect NO POINTS for that game. After all games are decided, each entrants' points for all games are totaled.

Example: If you take the Ravens to beat Cincinnati this Sunday, you receive 100 points if the Ravens win the game. If you select the Bengals, you receive 138 points if they win. If you select the loser of the game, you score NO points. The same follows for all 16 games played this week. When all games are decided, each entrants' score for all games is totaled.

The player who beats Drew's total points and who has the highest point-total of all #DMD contestants wins a $50 gift card to Glory Days. If no one beats Drew's total, the gift card goes into the following week's Contest and thus doubles next weeks' prize value. Simple enough, right? Just go to the Hong Kong Louie website, register, and you're all set for the season. Each week—prior to the Thursday night game at 8:30 pm—you go in, make your picks, and go head-to-head with Drew.

Here's how to enter the #DMD Contest:

  1. You must be a registered member of HongKongLouie.com to enter the #DMD Contest (it's FREE to register and there is NO obligation of any kind). Many #DMD readers are already registered members of HongKongLouie.com. [And several have already won HongKongLouie cash prizes!] If you are not already registered, it literally takes only thirty seconds to sign up. Register here.
  2. Once you create an account (or if you already have one), go to the #DMD exclusive contest page.
  3. Copy-and-paste or type this password — 3140 — into the password area in the above (#2) link. [Please don't share the password with anyone who is not a #DMD reader.]
  4. Make your selections of the winners of all the games, and then answer the Tiebreaker questions.
  5. At the conclusion of the last Sunday night game of the week, each entrants' score will be published on any computer or phone on which he or she is logged in to HongKongLouie.com.
  6. If you have any questions about the Contest or the log-in procedures, please e-mail: support@hongkonglouie.com. We realize that the explanation here is more complex than the process of entering the Contest, and for that, we apologize. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible with any clearer explanations necessary.
  7. #DMD readers are also cordially invited to participate in the non-exclusive Hong Kong Louie Contests, and compete against all the world for the cash prizes to the winners.
Tuesday
September 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 22

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in times like these, i always bet on harbaugh and flacco

Off to an 0-2 start and staring statistical death in the face with the Bengals coming to town for this Sunday's home opener, the Ravens have a lot of work to do over the next month to recover from losses in Denver and Oakland.

First things first, the Ravens MUST win this Sunday's game against Cincinnati. When you start 0-3, it's literally almost a done-deal that you won't make the post-season, if you believe in those sort of trends and tendencies. I heard one of the talking heads in town yesterday say "in NFL history, only four teams that started 0-3 made the playoffs." I assume the sports talker knows his stuff, so I didn't bother to check that stat for accuracy, but it sure sounds right. If you start 0-3, you're cooked.

X
Over the last seven seasons, these two have become a fairly reliable duo. That's why they have a ring and six trips to the playoffs.

In times like the one the Ravens are facing this Sunday, I'll put my money down on the two people who will bear most of the responsbility for the outcome against the Bengals; the coach and the quarterback.

Yes, both men have their blemishes, but who doesn't in the league? There isn't a perfect coach, no matter what the folks in New England believe, and there isn't a perfect quarterback, either. They all make mistakes. Our two guys -- Harbaugh and Flacco -- are just as good as the best of them when they're on their game and middle-of-the-pack when they're not. So, too, is just about everyone else in the league. How's Andrew Luck playing so far in 2015? Right...

So, when the chips are down and it's time to kick ass and take names, I'll bet on John Harbaugh every time. And I'll do the same with the quarterback. Maybe Flacco should have doubled-up last Sunday and played quarterback and cornerback.

"It's good that you didn't bet on them this past Sunday, Drew...you would have been a loser." Is that what you're thinking or saying to yourself? Fair enough. But that's not really the point of this whole thing. Sunday was Sunday. It was a road game. A winnable one, yes, but it was still a road game and we all know -- as the Raiders showed us -- how hard it is to win on the road, even when facing an inferior opponent like Oakland. This Sunday, in must-win territory, at home, against a division rival, I'll bet on Harbaugh and Flacco EVERY TIME. Yes, yes, yes...I know Harbaugh and Flacco don't play defense. But there's no way the Ravens stink it up on defense this Sunday like they did in Oakland. They'll rebound from that fiasco and give a representative performance vs. Cincninati.

Back to the 2-game losing streak for a second. I'm always amazed at how many people in town are ready to chase those two guys off into the sunset after a bump in the road or two. It never fails. Lose a couple in a row and it's time to fire Harbaugh and time to start actively wondering whether Flacco is "really good enough to get us to the next level" (that was my favorite asinine statement I saw on Twitter last Sunday afternoon...as if that Super Bowl victory a couple of years ago wasn't quite "next level" stuff.)

And sure, I'm the guy that thought the Ravens would blow out the Raiders and that didn't happen, so what do I know, right? But, I just don't see Cincinnati coming in here on Sunday and winning. If they do, that spells big trouble for the Ravens, but that's quite a task in front of the Bengals. I don't see it happening. I'll bet on Harbaugh and Flacco. And feel good about it, too.


drew3689 wins $50 from glory days

Week number two of the NFL season has come and gone and yet again, my predicting prowess wasn't nearly good enough to overcome the expert analysis over sixteen people who posted more points than I did in our HongKongLouie.com Pick 'Em contest. "Drew3689" (and no, that's not a second entry from me -- I'm "DMD2015") was the winner this week with 1189 points, and by finishing on top AND beating me in the contest, Drew3689 receives a $50 gift card to Glory Days! Here are the top 5 from Week 2:

drew3689 - 1189
Suchman - 1181
hmwmiw - 1134
seahero01 - 1037
zammos1 - 969

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grading the ravens, 9/20 vs. oakland

We'll be posting Ravens grades every Tuesday morning here at #DMD, but we're NOT going to go with the tried-and-true "A, B, C, D, E" grading system. Instead, we've developed our own "point system" with a couple of special twists. First, we're only grading six players from each game. If you don't make it in the top six, you don't get any points. Second, the points are handed out based on overall play, involvement in crucial/critical plays and contributions to scoring plays. They are also weighted based on the position someone plays. In other words, Marshal Yanda is rarely, if ever, involved in a "scoring play" but Joe Flacco might be involved in four or five in any given game. Therefore, Yanda's "overall play" will garner him his largest chunk of points for the game. It's a work in progress, but I think you'll like our grading system over time. It's designed to showcase individual play on a game-by-game basis but also be an indicator of who has played best throughout the season.

1. Steve Smith, 8.7 points -- Had a remarkable day, with 150 yards receiving. Only negatives; Oakland's secondary is terrible and he failed to catch a TD pass. One week after dropping an easy game-winning TD, he came back and proved his worth in a big way. The Raiders are thrilled they won't be seeing him again in 2015, that's for sure.

2. Crockett Gilmore, 8.5 -- Was virtually unstoppable in the first half, with two touchdown catches and bruised bodies everywhere, but didn't do anything in the final thirty minutes when the Raiders double-teamed and chipped him on almost every passing down.

3. James Hurst, 6.6 -- We expected he'd be better in week two simply because he wasn't going up against DeMarcus Ware and that's how it played out. Hurst did a nice job on Sunday, though, and was a big reason why Joe Flacco's uniform didn't need much cleaning after the game. Given that he was under immense pressure heading into the game, he gets an impressive 6.6 total for his efforts.

4. Joe Flacco, 6.2 -- Wasn't "great" on Sunday, but certainly played well enough to earn the "W" for his team. His total would have been higher had he hit a wide open Kamar Aiken in the first quarter for a TD or if his late 4th quarter throw to Smith in the end zone would have been a sliver tighter and more on target. Didn't exhibit solid clock management down the stretch, either, but that's never been an overwhelming strength of his, frankly.

5. Will Hill, 5.8 -- Had another good game at the safety position, with a key 4th quarter interception and then, nearly the game-winning pick in the final minute. Not that we're confusing him with Ed Reed or anything, but he plays the position in a similar style to Reed. Has ball-hawk tendencies and seems to know when it's right to gamble and when it's not.

6. C.J. Mosley, 5.5 -- Leads the team in "#DMD points" thus far with 12.5 in two games. Had another effective game in Oakland, with six tackles and good pursuit against the run. Wasn't used in blitz packages like he was in week one at Denver, but still managed to pressure Derek Carr on a couple of occasions.

Last week vs. Denver -- Jimmy Smith (9.2), Brandon Williams (7.6), C.J. Mosley (7.0), Carl Davis (6.7), Daryl Smith (5.4), Sam Koch (2.0)


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o's/nats rained out on monday night

Rain forced the postponement of last night's Orioles game in Washington D.C., so the Birds and Nats will start their 3-game series tonight at Nats Park and then make up Monday night's rain out with a 4:05 pm game on Thursday. The Birds will then travel to Boston Thursday evening in advance of this weekend's series at Fenway Park against the Red Sox.


TUESDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
WASHINGTON D.C.
U. Jimenez
11-9, 4.31
G. Gonzalez
11-7, 3.83
7:05 PM EDT
NATIONALS PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 82 - 67 13 3
Astros 80 - 71 11
Twins 76 - 73 13 3
Angels 76 - 74 12
Indians 74 - 74 14
Orioles 73 - 76 13 6
Monday
September 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 21

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ravens fall to lowly oakland, start 2015 season 0-2

Well, remember that saying, "On any given Sunday"?

The Ravens stumbled into one of "those Sundays" yesterday in Oakland, as the Raiders -- yes, the Raiders -- somehow managed to show up offensively and laid a 37-33 defeat on John Harbaugh's team that has them at 0-2 for the first time in his 8-year tenure in Baltimore.

This was a game the Ravens looked like they were going to lose from the very first series. Derek Carr picked apart the Baltimore secondary virtually all afternoon, but it was the Ravens' defensive line that failed to appear on Sunday. Ready for the woeful d-line stats? Buckle up for this: Chris Canty (0 tackles), Carl Davis (0 tackles), Timmy Jernigan (0 tackles) and Brandon Williams (1 tackle). I went to Glen Burnie High School, yes, but even I can handle that math. That's ONE tackle from the four guys charged primarily with stopping the run and, perhaps, even occasionally pestering the quarterback. You're not going to win many games when your defensive front has one tackle amongst them. Little used Lawrence Guy actually had three solo tackles on the day, it should be mentioned, but other than that, the Ravens were eaten up at the line of scrimmage.

As was the case last week in Denver, the Ravens squandered a golden opportunity in the game's final moments to pull off a much-needed road victory. Last week, it was Steve Smith failing to collect a routine throw near the end zone from Joe Flacco with 0:42 left in the game and then Crockett Gilmore couldn't hold on to a ball at the goal-line with a half-minute remaining. Yesterday, Flacco floated a ball into the right corner for Smith, and the 15-year veteran caught it, but couldn't get both feet down in bounds for the go-ahead TD. Instead, the Ravens settled for a field goal and a 33-30 lead, which evaporated minutes later when Carr drove the Raiders 80 yards for the winning touchdown. It marred an otherwise good statistical day for Flacco, who looked sluggish in the opening half but then turned it on in the third and fourth quarters and looked more like the quarterback who has led the Ravens to playoff spots in six of his seven years in the NFL.

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Steve Smith's 150 yard day wasn't enough for the Ravens on Sunday, but it was a stirring performance from the 15-year NFL veteran.

The final series was blemished by two penalties on the Ravens, one of them of the "dumb" variety and the other simply a by-product of trying to make a game-ending play and not get caught in the process. Timmy Jernigan, playing his first game of the season, was flagged for a late hit on Carr that moved the ball down to the Baltimore 35-yard line. It's the kind of penalty the coaching staff will hammer Jernigan over and rightfully so...it was simply a dumb time to try and send a message to the quarterback that you're a tough guy. The holding penalty on Will Hill that negated his (potential) game-ending interception also put the Raiders on the doorstep of the end zone, which they reached on the very next play when a mix-up in the secondary left Seth Roberts wide open at the goal-line and he cashed in from there to give Oakland the win. As I tweeted when the Raiders got the ball down three points with a little over two minutes remaining in the game: "Expect the refs to throw a flag or two on this series." How did I know that? Because it's the NFL, that's how I knew it.

So, the 0-2 start puts the Ravens in a very unfamiliar position to start the 2015 season. It's the first time in the Harbaugh-Flacco era that Baltimore has lost its first two games. And, that stat doesn't bode well for the team's playoff chances, either. Since 1990, only 12% of the teams who started 0-2 have made the playoffs. Not impossible, of course, just a bigger uphill climb than you might otherwise think since it's only two games out of a 16-game schedule. It does make this Sunday's home opener with the Bengals a virtual must-win for the Ravens, though. They just can't begin the season 0-3, it's that simple.

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ravens lose -- here's why

Here are five key reasons why the Ravens fell to 0-2 with Sunday's 37-33 loss to the Raiders:

1. Unlike last week, where the Daryl Smith dropped interception (that would have likely produced a TD) was the play that changed the game, there wasn't really ONE of those on Sunday. For sure, though, the biggest play of the day came in the final half-minute of the fourth quarter when Will Hill intercepted a Derek Carr pass that would have sealed the game had he not been flagged for holding on the play. That penalty on Hill moved the ball from the 17 yard line to the 12 yard line and on the next throw, Carr found Seth Roberts for the game-winning score.

2. The late Flacco-to-Smith misfire in the end zone was critical because it meant the Ravens had to settle for a field goal there -- and a 33-30 lead -- rather than striking for a TD that would have put them up a touchdown with two minutes remaining. Some folks on Twitter blamed Smith, a lot of others blamed Flacco. Curiously, the design of the throw was made with the assumption Smith would have front coverage and the QB would have to hit Smith over the shoulder to register a touchdown. However, just as Flacco released the ball, the Raiders defensive back fell down and Smith was literally wide open, but the throw carried him out of bounds. Without question, had Flacco thrown the ball just a split second later, he would have seen the defensive back on the ground and "zipped" the throw to Smith for a TD. My opinion? If you're looking for someone to blame there -- and aren't we always? -- you wouldn't be wrong to simply say, "Flacco has to make a better throw."

3. John Harbaugh said after the game his team was out-coached and I have to assume that was a direct dig at defensive coordinator Dean Pees, whose department had a terrible day. Pees himself had a snoozer, too, as he eschewed the blitz that worked so well in confusing Peyton Manning last week and was unable to figure out a way to pressure Carr and force him into mistakes. Given time back there, Carr looked like a very capable quarterback and his receivers were able to come up with big catches, particularly in third down situations. Pees wasn't all to blame, but his decision not to blitz more and to rush three throughout most of the first half was especially troubling once the QB found his throwing rythym.

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Coincidence or not, "life after Terrell Suggs" didn't get off to a great start for the Ravens in Oakland.

4. The loss of Terrell Suggs, for one game anyway, was definitely felt by the entire Ravens defense. Two plays stood out in particular. On the quarterback keeper/mis-direction play in the third quarter where Carr faked the hand-off and went against the flow of play for a 24-yard pick-up, Kendrick Lewis fell for the fake, chased the (supposed) ball carrier and watched as Carr raced past him into empty space. That's a play Suggs would have sniffed out with ease, sealing off the edge and either getting to Carr before he had time to get outside or forcing him to the inside which would have likely resulted in a far shorter gain. Later, on the final drive of the game, Courtney Upshaw over-ran the angle when the QB was outside of the pocket and Carr found the seam for a big third down completion. It's hard to say what happens if Suggs is in there, but he was very good at "staying home" and knowing when to pursue and when not to pursue. Oh, and with Suggs out of the line-up yesterday, Elvis Dumervil was a no-show.

5. Once again, the lack of receiving options hurt the Ravens, even though Kamar Aiken wound up catching a few second half passes for impact yards, finishing the day with 89 yards receiving on five receptions. It was Steve Smith (150 yards) and Crockett Gilmore (89, 2 TD's) all day, although Gilmore's numbers were produced almost entirely in the first half. The Raiders shadowed him to start the third quarter and he was rendered ineffective for the rest of the afternoon. Once again, Marlon Brown offered very little (2 catches, 14 yards) and rookie Darren Waller was inserted for a couple of red zone attempts but looked slow and out of place on the two balls thrown his way.


ravens game balls for sunday, september 20

Four Ravens get #DMD game balls for their highlight performances in Sunday's loss to the Broncos.

Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. was remarkable on Sunday, with 150 yards receiving and several punishing after-catch collisions with Oakland defenders. If he was trying to make up for last Sunday's end-of-game faux pas, he sure as heck almost did.

X
It was a long day for the Ravens secondary in Oakland, but Will Hill stood out with another strong game.

Safety Will Hill had another solid game, albeit his penalty late in the game blemished what was otherwise a stellar performance. Still, I'm not going to take away his game ball because of that one play. Throughout the game, he played the safety spot just right, getting in the mix when necessary and playing the deep coverage when called for -- and he collected a key 4th quarter interception that helped give the Ravens their only lead of the game. Hill made four tackles on the day and was credited with two passes defended.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley produced another excellent game and get his SECOND game-ball of the season, with nine tackles (8 solo) and one of the rare quarterback hits applied to Derek Carr. It's far too early to be making Hall of Fame suggestions for Mosley or anything like that, but the Ravens have themselves a legitimate linebacker with that kid. If he gets a little better in pass coverage, watch out.

Tight end Crockett Gilmore was outstanding and nearly unstoppable in the first half on Sunday, with two touchdowns in the opening 30 minutes. Like Smith, if it was Gilmore's intention to make everyone in Baltimore forget about the TD pass he couldn't snag with the game on the line in Denver last week, he very well might have accomplished that with an impressive first-half performance in Oakland.


And on the other end, these guys weren't so hot on Sunday --

Jimmy Smith -- One week after a virtuoso performance against Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos, Smith was a liability on Sunday vs. Amari Cooper and/or Michael Crabtree. He was hit with a pair of costly penalties and just didn't have the same authority over his side of the field as he did in Denver last week. As someone noted to me on Twitter, "it's in his (Smith's) history; he always follows up a great game with a stinker." Maybe that's true. I don't know what happened yesterday, but it most certainly wasn't #22's finest hour.

Lardarius Webb -- The Ravens have to be concerned when they look at their remaining schedule and see a team (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, just to name two) who has multiple pass-catching threats and competent quarterbacks who can get the ball to them. Webb turned in yet another so-so performance in Oakland yesterday, although he had three passes defended to lead the team in that category.

Elvis Dumervil -- The stats indicate he had one "quarterback hit" but I must have been getting a refill on my Harpoon beer, because I don't remember him EVER touching Derek Carr yesterday. Without Suggs lining up on the opposite end, Dumervil looked incredibly average yesterday. Two tackles, no sacks=no impact at all on the game.

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week 2 wagers...for entertainment only

Here's how I did yesterday with my five NFL picks, my "Best Bet" pick and my Ravens-Raiders selection.

Texans at Panthers (-3) -- Not sure about this line...maybe the guys in Vegas think the Texans offense is going to play all four quarters this week instead of waiting until the 4th quarter to get things going. I like how the Panthers went into Jacksonville last week and did what they needed to do to win. I don't see how Houston will score enough points in this one. Their defense will hold its own against Cam Newton & Company, but it won't be enough. Take Carolina and give the three here, as the Panthers come out on top 22-13. -- RESULT: WINNER (1-0)

49'ers at Steelers (-6.5) -- I went into last week thinking San Francisco was going to stink and they might have put the biggest surprise performance of week one with a 20-3 thumping of Minnesota on Monday night. Everything about this game smells like a Pittsburgh blowout. Steelers haven't played in ten days, 49'ers played on Monday night, then had to travel to the East Coast for today's tilt at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won't lose two straight, San Fran won't win two straight, etc. EVERYTHING points to Pittsburgh blowing them out, right? That's why I'm taking the 49'ers, +6.5 -- and I'm even calling a S.F. upset in this one, 23-20. -- RESULT: LOSER (1-1)

Titans at Browns (+1.5) -- Cleveland is so bad, Vegas has made them an underdog against a Titans team that went 2-14 last season. Enter Marcus Mariota, who threw four touchdowns last week in his NFL debut, and suddenly Tennessee is respected by the oddsmakers again. This is Tennessee's chance to at least show they're going to need to be respected this season. Sure, they won on opening day in Tampa Bay, but if they let the Browns beat them, they're right back to being a laughingstock. I don't think that's going to happen, though. Ken Whisenhunt has something dialed up with Mariota and the Titans offense, while Dick LeBeau still has plenty of old tricks up his sleeve on the defensive side of the ball. Take the Titans and dish off 1.5 to the Browns. Tennessee wins 24-13. -- RESULT: LOSER (1-2)

Rams at Redskins (+3) -- I'm a glutton for punishment, eh? I did this last week, too, going against every piece of conventional wisdom I had and taking the Redskins +2.5 against Miami. I'm actually fairly confident in this one. St. Louis is coming off that huge home win over Seattle and going into D.C. as a road favorite. The Redskins, meanwhile, look worse than you think they look. They're terrible. But this is the NFL and weird stuff happens because the ball's not round. I'm picking the Redskins to cover AND win, how's that? 17-13 Washington triumphs. -- RESULT: WINNER (2-2)

Dolphins at Jaguars (+5.5) -- I really like Miami this season, and last week's win at Washington to start the season was the kind of game a good team wins. And, I just don't see how Jackonsville is going to score any points today. That all adds up to this: Take the Dolphins, give the Jags 5.5, and then sit back and watch Miami cruise, 21-9. -- RESULT: LOSER (2-3)


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I really like Carolina at home, giving three, to the Houston Texans. There won't be a lot of scoring in this one, but the Panthers have home field, a better quarterback, and an opportunistic defense that will take advantage of Ryan Mallet in a 22-13 win. Take Carolina (-3) for the Best Bet. -- RESULT: WINNER (2-0 on the season)


And finally, I picked the Ravens to beat the Raiders, 38-16, which means I'm now 1-1 in my Ravens picks so far in 2015.

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orioles blow 9th inning lead, drop back in wild card chase

It's hard to say which Baltimore sports loss was more painful on Sunday. The Ravens falling to the woeful Raiders or the Orioles coughing up a 6-4 eighth inning lead and giving up two runs in the bottom of the 9th in losing to Tampa Bay.

The O's produced two runs in the top of the 8th, one coming on a rare Evan Longoria error at third base, and led 6-4 as they looked to take three of four in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay cut it to 6-5 in their half of the 8th but Mychal Givens worked his way out of a tight jam and the Birds turned the game over to closer Zach Britton in the 9th. It didn't take long for things to get ugly. Brandon Guyer hit a pinch-hit home run to start the inning and knot the game at 6-6. With one out, Longoria tripled to put the winning run at third base. Two walks later, and with the bases loaded, Kevin Kiermaier beat out an infield roller to second and the Birds were hard-luck losers, 7-6.

It's still a longshot that Buck Showalter's team can sneak past four other clubs and nab the other available wild card spot, but Sunday's loss is one of those that just aches at you because that would have been three of four in St. Petersburg and the O's wouldn't have lost any ground to the teams above them who won on Sunday (Cleveland, Minnesota and Houston). Instead, it's a blown save from a very unlikely source and now a trip to Washington DC for three games with the Nationals starting tonight.

The O's are 5.5 games out in the chase for one of the two A.L. wild card spots. While the Birds are in DC this week, here's what the others in the wild card hunt are doing:

Yankees -- at Toronto (Mon-Wed)

Astros -- home vs. L.A. Angels (Mon-Wed)

Twins -- home vs. Cleveland (Mon-Wed)

Angels -- at Houston (Mon-Wed)

Indians -- at Minnesota (Mon-Wed)


MONDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
WASHINGTON D.C.
U. Jimenez
11-9, 4.31
G. Gonzalez
11-7, 3.83
7:05 PM EDT
NATIONALS PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 82 - 66 14 4
Astros 79 - 71 12
Angels 76 - 73 13
Twins 76 - 73 13
Indians 74 - 74 14 4
Orioles 73 - 76 13
Saturday
September 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 19

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Sunday
September 20
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 14
Issue 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders

4:05 PM EDT

O.co Coliseum

The schedule makers gave the Ravens (0-1) a little kick in the tail to start the season -- with two road games right out of the gate -- but they were at least kind enough to make one of the two a lay-up. The Ravens take on the Oakland Raiders (0-1) this afternoon in a game that should be lopsided by the time the sixty minutes are up. Baltimore has a better quarterback, a much better offensive line, a far superior defensive front seven and, in general, just better players. Games like this come along 3-4 times a season, where you're just supposed to pummel the other team, and that's what the Ravens have today.

A walk-in-the-park.

Or at least that's what it should be. Oakland was demolished 33-13 by visiting Cincinnati last week, which doesn't always bode well for the next team on the schedule, but they were soundly beaten for a reason: They don't have a good quarterback, much of a running game, and their defense is very suspect. It all adds up to getting spanked at home by the Bengals. But that was last week. And the NFL is a crazy, crazy league. So, the Ravens have to look at today's game like they would a business trip. Dress the part, be serious, close the deal.

In no way do I think the Ravens are losing today, but if they do, it would mark a disastrous start for John Harbaugh's team, with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh coming up within four days of each other. It's certainly not "must-win" time on the second Sunday of the season, but this is NOT a game the Ravens can afford to lose this afternoon in Oakland.

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today's main storylines


*Will Hurst keep Flacco safe? -- The good news for the Ravens is that Eugene Monroe's concussion last week against Denver should only keep him out another week or two, at the most. The bad news? James Hurst has to play in Monroe's spot for the time being and he was a complete liability last Sunday in Denver. Now, Oakland doesn't DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller, so Hurst's job gets infinitely easier today, but he'll still be keyed upon by the Raiders edge rushers and Joe Flacco will have to be on high alert all afternoon. Hurst isn't the only lineman in the spotlight today vs. the Raiders. Right tackle Rick Wagner had one of his worst games as a pro last Sunday in the opener at Denver and he'll need to step up his game a level or two this afternoon as well. It's all about keeping Flacco upright. If they block for #5 and give him time, everything will percolate just like it should.

*Can Oakland solve Baltimore's defense? -- The Raiders only generated 246 yards of total offense last Sunday vs. Cincinnati and just 63 yards of it came on the ground. No matter who starts at quarterback today for Oakland, their task is well defined. They need to establish one of the two offensive facets and stick with that game-plan. Either come out throwing like a banshee or go ground-and-pound with the run game...but somehow, the Raiders have to find a weak spot in that Ravens defense. If they don't pile up more than 350 yards on offense -- somehow -- they're going to lose.

*Any Baltimore receivers stepping up? -- Playing without first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman for the second straight game, the Ravens offense will again rely on a group of wide receivers that lack speed and separation ability. Steve Smith Sr., Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown figure to start today's game, with Michael Campanaro and Darren Waller available off the bench. The question: Will any of the the starting three actually be any good? On the positive side, the Raiders secondary won't be as formidable as Denver's was last Sunday, so you can expect one or more of the receivers to have a field day. Which one? It doesn't really matter, as long as the catches and points are there, but I'm taking Steve Smith to have a big game today in the wake of last Sunday's stunning drop on the goal line that helped the Broncos beat the Ravens, 19-13.


percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game at Oakland and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

11% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances Oakland wins today?"

56% - Chances of the Raiders holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

38% - The chances Flacco doesn't throw an interception?

55% - What are the chances Justin Forsett runs for over 100 yards?

32% - The chances Oakland leads at halftime?

4% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?

100% - What are the chances you say "Man, I can't believe how bad the Raiders are" at some point during today's game?

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


Still smarting from losing a very winnable game at Denver last week, the Ravens stayed out west and now face Oakland in what has a must-win feel to it. Wait a minute. Must win in Week 2? Sure, there will still be 14 games left after Sunday, but the Ravens want no part of going 0-2 with a Bengals-Steelers exacta on deck. Then again, this is part of that brutal stretch of five road games in the first seven. The Ravens knew this early part of the schedule would do no favors, but this should represent the most winnable road game of that stretch.

Here are five keys for the Ravens if they want to avoid that 0-2 hole:

1) Stop the pass rush

Joe Flacco was under attack all day at Denver, and while the Raiders don't have Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, they do have some decent pass rushers led by Khalil Mack, Justin Tuck and as of last week, Aldon Smith. The Ravens need to give Flacco some time to throw. According to Pro Football Focus, Flacco was under pressure on 64.7 percent of his dropbacks against the Broncos. That's no way to get into any offensive rhythm. Tackle Eugene Monroe is battling a concussion, so James Hurst is likely to start at left tackle again. He and Rick Wagner both need to be a lot better than they were last week.

2) Run the ball

Around the ends or between the tackles, the Ravens got little going on the ground at Denver. Justin Forsett finished with 43 yards on 14 carries, and a 20-yard run late kept his numbers from being truly anemic. Rookie Buck Allen showed some life with nine carries for 30 yards. The Ravens problems with the passing game last week began on the ground; they ran the ball 10 times on first-down plays for a total of 14 yards. That led to way too many second-and-longs. The run sets up the pass. One encouraging sign: The Raiders yielded 127 rushing yards last week. Another: Backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee) has been a full participant in practice this week after missing the Broncos game.

3) Take shots downfield

With Flacco under as much pressure as he was, the Ravens had little chance to throw deep at Denver. Granted, they don't have a true deep threat with speedy rookie Breshad Perriman (knee) sidelined, but they need to spread the field and take advantage of Flacco's arm strength.

"I don’t think we’re going to have that guy right now that’s going to run by guys five times a game," Flacco said this week, "but we definitely have guys that can run crossing routes and be hit 30 yards downfield and can run double-moves downfield, things like that. That’s what we’re going to have to do."

Plus, the Raiders are hurting at safety: Nate Allen, who started last week, has been placed on injured reserve (knee ), and Charles Woodson has a shoulder injury. So the Raiders might be starting two backups at safety. Flacco and Marc Trestman must attack that.

4) Generate pass pressure

It looks as if Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will be ready to play after leaving the Bengals game last week with a hand injury. The Ravens will be without Terrell Suggs, but they still must be able to get to the quarterback. Carr has a couple of good receiving options in Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper, but a good pass rush is a secondary's best friend. The jury is out whether Courtney Upshaw can apply pressure with any consistency, so the Ravens might need a big contribution from rookie Za'Darius Smith or newly signed Jason Babin.

5) Create turnovers

The Ravens made getting turnovers a point of emphasis all training camp, and although the secondary had no interceptions in four preseason games, Jimmy Smith came up with a pick-six last week in what could have the game-winning score had Flacco not tossed a pick-six of his own. The Ravens offense needs to move the ball better than it did last week, but a timely turnover and a short field would help.

Prediction: The Ravens offense, although hardly a juggernaut right now, will be more effective than last week. A decent run game will set up the passing game and allow Flacco to take advantage of the Raiders banged-up secondary. That will be enough, as the Ravens defense will do its part again this week. Ravens 24, Raiders 16.

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put your money where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only", although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

X
Carolina improves to 2-0 on the season.

Texans at Panthers (-3) -- Not sure about this line...maybe the guys in Vegas think the Texans offense is going to play all four quarters this week instead of waiting until the 4th quarter to get things going. I like how the Panthers went into Jacksonville last week and did what they needed to do to win. I don't see how Houston will score enough points in this one. Their defense will hold its own against Cam Newton & Company, but it won't be enough. Take Carolina and give the three here, as the Panthers come out on top 22-13.

49'ers at Steelers (-6.5) -- I went into last week thinking San Francisco was going to stink and they might have put the biggest surprise performance of week one with a 20-3 thumping of Minnesota on Monday night. Everything about this game smells like a Pittsburgh blowout. Steelers haven't played in ten days, 49'ers played on Monday night, then had to travel to the East Coast for today's tilt at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won't lose two straight, San Fran won't win two straight, etc. EVERYTHING points to Pittsburgh blowing them out, right? That's why I'm taking the 49'ers, +6.5 -- and I'm even calling a S.F. upset in this one, 23-20.

Titans at Browns (+1.5) -- Cleveland is so bad, Vegas has made them an underdog against a Titans team that went 2-14 last season. Enter Marcus Mariota, who threw four touchdowns last week in his NFL debut, and suddenly Tennessee is respected by the oddsmakers again. This is Tennessee's chance to at least show they're going to need to be respected this season. Sure, they won on opening day in Tampa Bay, but if they let the Browns beat them, they're right back to being a laughingstock. I don't think that's going to happen, though. Ken Whisenhunt has something dialed up with Mariota and the Titans offense, while Dick LeBeau still has plenty of old tricks up his sleeve on the defensive side of the ball. Take the Titans and dish off 1.5 to the Browns. Tennessee wins 24-13.

X
Redskins won't win many, but they'll pick up a "W" today.

Rams at Redskins (+3) -- I'm a glutton for punishment, eh? I did this last week, too, going against every piece of conventional wisdom I had and taking the Redskins +2.5 against Miami. I'm actually fairly confident in this one. St. Louis is coming off that huge home win over Seattle and going into D.C. as a road favorite. The Redskins, meanwhile, look worse than you think they look. They're terrible. But this is the NFL and weird stuff happens because the ball's not round. I'm picking the Redskins to cover AND win, how's that? 17-13 Washington triumphs.

Dolphins at Jaguars (+5.5) -- I really like Miami this season, and last week's win at Washington to start the season was the kind of game a good team wins. And, I just don't see how Jackonsville is going to score any points today. That all adds up to this: Take the Dolphins, give the Jags 5.5, and then sit back and watch Miami cruise, 21-9.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I really like Carolina at home, giving three, to the Houston Texans. There won't be a lot of scoring in this one, but the Panthers have home field, a better quarterback, and an opportunistic defense that will take advantage of Ryan Mallet in a 22-13 win. Take Carolina (-3) for the Best Bet.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-3

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 2-3

BEST BET FOR THE SEASON: 1-0


How Drew sees the Ravens/Oakland game

X
Ravens in a blow-out.

I see very little chance of the Ravens losing today, mainly because I think the Baltimore defense will have its way with Derek Carr and the Oakland offense. The Ravens will miss Terrell Suggs as the season goes on, but today's a day for the guys to pin their ears back and go chase the quarterback. Expect at least one defensive score this afternoon and at least five sacks of Carr, McGloin et al.

As for how it plays out, I can see it being a snooze-fest for a while as the Ravens try to figure out how to best attack the Oakland defense, but a late second quarter Flacco to Smith TD pass will put Baltimore up 17-13 at the half. From there, it's blow-out-city, as Baltimore reels off 21 straight second points before winning their first game of the season, 38-16.


DMD readers chime in via #Twitter with their picks

@Yoski2319 -- Ravens 20-Raiders 16

@JoshPeach -- Ravens 31-Raiders 17

@jkurly22 -- Ravens 27-Raiders 13

@JimBmore -- Ravens 24-Raiders 16

@DMoneyYall -- Ravens 31-Raiders 10

@brandonnagy -- Ravens 24-Raiders 10

@kerrydugan44 -- Raiders 20-Ravens 17

FOLLOW DREW FORRESTER ON TWITTER -- @itsahooded4iron

Saturday
September 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 19

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another back surgery for tiger...the end could be near

For the second time in less than two years, Tiger Woods has endured surgery on his ailing back, and the latest one -- performed in Utah this past Wednesday -- will sideline the 14-time major champion for the remainder of the 2015 campaign. It could also truly mark the beginning of the end for Woods, who turns 40 this December and hasn't won a golf tournament (or come close to winning one, really) since August of 2013.

The most recent surgical procedure was more "clean-up" than something of the major-variety, but it also shows wear and tear on his back that must have somehow been bothering him enough to seek a medical remedy. In short, a golfer with a bad back is soon to be "a guy who used to play golf until his back gave out." Tiger's first microdisectomy surgery back in March of 2014 limited him to just seven tournaments that season and he's gone through brief periods of discomfort since that initial operation. It's clear that his back hasn't been the same since that first operation. Then again, ask anyone who has had back surgery if they were ever 100% again after they were operated on -- most will tell you "no".

Woods was scheduled to play the season-opening event of the PGA Tour's wrap-around 2015-2016 season next month in California, but he announced on Friday he'll miss that tournament plus a couple of other "unofficial" events he was slated to play in December. Looking at the TOUR schedule for January, it's likely Tiger will make his debut late in the month at a place he's very familiar with -- Torrey Pines. It would be awesome beyond belief if Woods shows up in La Jolla next year and plays the kind of golf we used to see from him when he was toying with fools for the better part of ten years, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that occurring.

X
Stuck on 79 career wins? That might very well be the case for Tiger Woods after his 2nd back surgery this past Wednesday.

It pains me to think this, but -- we might very well be seeing Tiger enter the November of his competitive playing career. He hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open and, other than the 2009 PGA when he was by-passed on the back nine by Y.E. Yang, he hasn't really made a serious run at a major title in the last seven seasons. This past season was dismal for Woods; he threw up a bunch of 10-handicap scores including a career worst 85 at The Memorial and finished the campaign missing the cut in the final three majors of the year. He showed decent form at The Wyndham Championship in late August, appearing on the first page of the leaderboard as late as the back nine on Sunday before an 11th hole triple bogey sealed his fate and ended his winless season. He stunk so bad in 2014 and 2015 that his own tournament, the Hero World Challenge, had to create a new exemption just so Tiger could tee it up this December -- in an event he started and his Foundation runs.

Let's get to the back issue, now. It's difficult to say if Woods has truly been healthy over the last two seasons. For starters, he's not a straight-shooter when it comes to injuries, so there's no real way to make a judgment on his health. Golfers, in general, play through a lot of pain and minor, nagging ailments, so when a guy pulls out of a golf tournament or has some sort of surgery that requires him to miss extensive time, those injuries are tyically legitimate. Tiger, though, operates on a scale of anonymity unlike virtually any other athlete -- and there's almost never a moment where you listen to him speak and think he's absolutely, without question, giving you 100% truth on the topic at hand. When he says he's healthy, he's liable to withdraw from that week's event after the first round, and when he says he's hurting, it could just be an attempt to create a distraction for his poor play.

I've made this contention about Tiger for the last four or five years and I'm going to continue saying it as it relates to the drop-off in his performance during that half-a-decade: I don't think Tiger has been healthy since about 2010. Whether it's been his neck, his back, his knee or his achilles, Woods has been playing hurt, which has led him to a pair of instructors (Foley and Como) that were both hired specifically to produce a golf swing that wouldn't put undue stress on Tiger's body. Each of those guys have failed, although it's fair to note that Como's tenure hasn't even hit the one-year mark yet.

Tiger can still play golf. He didn't wake up one day last April and say, "I forgot how to play the game of golf, how do I hold the club?" But, a player must be 100% healthy in order to allow his body to make the swing the player has learned and ingrained over the years. In Tiger's case -- for reasons that will always be interesting discussion topics -- his body simply caved in. I have my own theory on why that happened, you might have one, too. In the end, though, none of what we think or believe matters. At age 40, and clearly no longer in top physical condition, the Tiger Woods era is officially over. It was one helluva ride for Woods and it produced a level of golf over a decade that I'll never see again in my lifetime, for sure. Sadly, though, like everyone else who went up against Father Time, Woods couldn't get younger as the years went by. And, the older he got, the more his body gave way. And that, unfortunately, brings Tiger to the 19th hole of his career. Buy the guy a drink if you see him and thank him for all the greatness he produced from 1997 until 2008.

It's over.

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five keys to sunday's ravens/raiders clash in oakland

I don't give my official game-score prediction for the Ravens until Sunday's "Game Day" edition of #DMD, but if you listened to my "3140" Podcast yesterday, I told you then what I think about tomorrow's game. The Ravens are winning. That said, I'll play along today in my weekly "five keys" piece and spell out for everyone what the Ravens need to do in Oakland to ensure themselves of a win. I know, "on any given Sunday" and all that other stuff -- so that's why I'm going through the process of actually giving you the five things the Ravens need to do tomorrow to win that game with the Raiders.

1. Don't turn the ball over -- Simple enough, right? I mean, any other dummy from Glen Burnie could tell you that not giving the other team the ball is a key to winning. Let's not forget, though, it doesn't have to be one of those ugly four turnover games that keeps you from winning. Flacco made one awful throw last Sunday in Denver that Aquib Talib picked off and ran back for a touchdown and that, for sure, was a game-changer. In Oakland, the Ravens just need to hold on to the ball when they run with it and don't throw it to the other team on passing downs. A simple task, really, but an important one nonetheless.

2. Get going early -- Whether it's on offense or defense, the Ravens need to come out of the gate with some energy and passion on Sunday. Typically, when traveling from coast-to-coast, a team might take a quarter or so to get their legs going, but the Ravens have been in California all week. They have NO excuse at all for coming out flat in Oakland. A sure-fire way to get the Raiders in pack-it-in mode is to score on the first possession, stop Oakland the first time they get the ball, then score again on the second Baltimore posession of the game. Bam, it's 14-0 and the game is all but done.

X
Let's hope Ravens' defensive coordinator Dean Pees keeps attacking with the linebacker blitz on Sunday at Oakland.

3. Blitz it up -- The Ravens had great success last Sunday in Denver using a variety of blitz packages. Nearly every linebacker was involved at some point, as were Kyle Arrington and Will Hill on one occasion. I like how defensive coordinator Dean Pees called for a package that showed blitz, got Manning to change the play, then backed off at the last moment and went back into their base pass-coverage scheme. Other times, they'd delay the blitz long enough for Manning to get back in the pocket, then collapse on him from the outside. Sunday in Oakland, I hope we see that same sort of aggressive style from Pees. Send in the linebackers, create some pressure and force turnovers from whichever stiff the Raiders start at quarterback.

4. Give Hurst some help -- It was almost a minor miracle that Joe Flacco came out of last Sunday's game in Denver unscathed. DeMarcus Ware sliced and diced James Hurst all afternoon, and Rick Wagner wasn't so hot on the right side, either. Oakland doesn't have nearly the pass rush that Denver owns, but the Raiders defense can still get after you. I hope Marc Trestman gives Hurst some help tomorrow afternoon. Whether that's using Kyle Juszczyk in a blocking-support role or one of the tight ends on the left side, Hurst needs a helping hand or two in order to protect Flacco for sixty minutes. Go back to point #1 above. One mistake from Hurst and the ball gets batted out of Joe's hand, returned for a TD, and suddenly the game changes. Get. Hurst. Some. Help.

5. Play smart -- Two simple words, but the Ravens have occasionally had difficulty heeding them. Play smart. Avoid the penalties. Don't hit guys out of bounds. Avoid slapping the quarterback in the head. Try your best not to lead with your helmet when you're sacking the quarterback. Penalties can kill you, particularly when they start to pile up and you're now afraid to play with any tenacity or intensity. We've seen it too many times with the Ravens. They start getting flagged and it only gets worse throughout the game. Play smart.


loyola edges landon in #dmd "game of the week"

DMD's High School Sports Spotlight kicked off in grand fashion yesterday afternoon as the Landon Bears rolled into Blakefield to face the Loyola Dons.

After receiving the opening kickoff, Landon QB Griffin Brown led his team on an impressive eight minute drive. The Bears power running attack, featuring RB Josh Hunter and FB Joey Epstein, put Loyola’s defense on their heels. A costly Landon penalty forced the Bears to go for three. Bears kicker Aaron Broner missed wide, and the stage was set for a game that had more than its share of costly penalties and special team miscues.

Loyola was held in check on their first possession by a Landon defensive unit led by 6’3”, 220 lbs. LB Keith Simms. Simms clocks in with sub 4.6 forty speed and is being courted by at least 25 NCAA Division I college programs, including Maryland and Oregon.

A two yard run by Epstein on Landon's next series put the Bears up 7-0 early in the second quarter. While the Loyola offensive unit struggled for the remainder of the first half, the Dons defense dug in behind 6’4”, 225 lbs. sophomore Evan Boozer and senior DB Rick Nickel. Landon took a 7-0 lead into the locker room at the half.

Loyola sophomore QB Will Koras took the field to begin the third quarter and led the Dons on a drive that tied the score 7-7 with running back Azende Smith scoring the TD.

After another costly penalty on the ensuing kickoff, Landon took possession at their own eight yard line. Loyola’s defense forced the Bears to punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty extended the Landon drive, ultimately allowing Landon RB Josh Hunter to score on a two yard run that put Landon ahead by seven points once again.

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#DMD Player of the Game Biafra Okoronkwo

On the next Landon possession, Loyola stunned the Bears when senior DB Mike Bell blocked a Landon punt. Loyola took over at the Landon forty yard line and running back Biafra Okoronkwo scampered the distance to score. The Dons' extra point attempt was blocked by Landon’s Keith Simms allowing the Bears to hold onto a 14-13 lead.

The game's critical moment came late in the fourth quarter. With 6:56 remaining in the game, Landon took possession and the Loyola defense once again answered the bell. Facing fourth down and short near midfield, Landon head coach Paul Padalino decided to go for the first down instead of punting the ball deep into Loyola territory. Loyola held Landon to no gain on fourth down and the Dons had the ball and momentum on their side.

On the first play of the series, Koras took the snap and handed the ball to Okoronkwo -- and he ran into the end zone with the go-ahead touchdown. The two point conversion failed and Loyola led 19-14.

Landon took possession with 4:01 remaining in the 4th quarter and one goal in mind – score. Landon QB Griffin Brown hit his TE Mark Ebo for a 60 yard gain. Add on fifteen yards for a horse collar tackle, and the Bears were deep in Loyola territory and still very much in the game. Landon scored two apparent go-ahead touchdowns, only to have both of them called back due to penalties. On the final play of the day for Landon, Brown was intercepted in the end zone by Loyola's Rick Nickle and the Dons hung on for a gritty 19-14 win over a very spirited team from Landon.

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it wasn't the wright night for the birds

The O's staked pitcher Mike Wright to a 3-0 lead thanks to an early 3-run homer from J.J. Hardy, who seemingly hadn't produced a meaningful hit Springsteen's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" album was released, but the Birds couldn't get a quality effort out of their young pitcher and the Rays parlayed a 6-run fifth inning into an 8-6 win last night at Tropicana Field. Steve Pearce homered twice for the O's, who lost ground to the Indians on Friday night, as Cleveland improved to 73-73 with a home win over the White Sox. Minnesota and the L.A. Angels -- both ahead of the Orioles in the wild card chase -- were rained out in Minneapolis on Friday, while Houston lost at home to Oakland.

SATURDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
ST. PETERSBURG
E. Ramirez
10-5, 3.75
W. Chen
9-7, 3.44
6:10 PM EDT
TROPICANA FIELD



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 80 - 66 16 4
Astros 77 - 71 14
Twins 75 - 71 16 1
Angels 74 - 72 16 2
Indians 73 - 73 16 3
Orioles 72 - 75 15
Friday
September 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 18

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is jason pierre paul's amputated finger really that interesting...or our business?

Don't worry, I'm not going to post the picture here, so you can proceed without caution if you want, because I'm not showing them. "Them" refers to the photos that were published by the New York Daily News on Thursday of Jason Pierre-Paul's right hand, which was badly injured in a July 4th fireworks accident. The New York Giants' defensive end eventually had his right index finger amputated and suffered other serious injuries to his thumb and middle finger as a result of the mishap and has not yet been able to reach a contract agreement with the Giants.

X
Still without a contract for the 2015 season, Jason Pierre-Paul is battling both the team and, now, the New York media over the summer accident that severely damaged his right hand.

There he was, sometime on Thursday, caught on camera by the folks at the Daily News, and they wasted no time in publishing those "first looks" at the NFL player's damaged hand. Not only was it gruesome -- particularly if you weren't really ready for it -- but it was COMPLETELY unnecessary to post those pictures on-line and then, I'm sure, later insert them into the newspaper portion of the Daily News as well. Why do it? As if we needed actual proof that Pierre-Paul did, in fact, blow off his right index finger in a 4th of July fireworks accident? Here's the worst part...not that this will surprise anyone. Within minutes of the Daily News posting the photos on their website, virtually every other national sports/news entity in the country picked up the pictures and ran them on their website as well.

I just don't get it. Isn't it embarrassing enough -- and I'm not even sure "embarrassing" is the right word, it might be something else -- to the man himself that a silly, avoidable holiday accident has so greatly affected his personal and professional life? Do we all REALLY need to see the damage he did to himself? I know I don't need to see it. Oh, and here's something sad and telling, straight from the New York Daily News copy desk. When publishing the pictures on Thursday, here's what they wrote as the lede in the story:

Jason Pierre-Paul has finally shown his hand to the world -- and it doesn't look good.

OK, let's play semantics here and, also, report the facts. JPP didn't actually SHOW his hand to the world. Those creeps at the Daily News staked him out, watched him get out of his car, and then snapped off three quick photos before he knew what was happening. It's one thing if he reports to camp and says to the Gians media relations department, "OK, I'm gonna do this one time and one time only. Get the media in here and I'll do a 15-minute interview about this and I'll show everyone my hand." That's actually called SHOWING HIS HAND TO THE WORLD. Getting out of your vehicle and having pictures taken without your knowledge or consent doesn't constitute "...has finally shown his hand to the world." Semantics, like I wrote earlier, but important to point out, I believe. Oh, and the trail line of the sentence -- "...and it doesn't look good." Duh, really? You mean a guy who had his finger amputated and incurred other severe damage now has a hand that "doesn't look good"? Gee, I'm shocked.

Years ago, maybe a decade or so, WMAR-TV in Baltimore (Channel 2) tried to forge a new path in nightly news reporting by basically trying to greatly diminish the bad news in town (murders, shootings, robberies, etc.) and producing "feel good" or positive stories and airing those in their 5pm newscast. Guess what happened? NO ONE WATCHED IT. It didn't take long for the head honchos at WMAR to pull the plug on that idea, and Channel 2 went back to doing what everyone else in town does with their news -- "If it bleeds, it ledes". (And yes, for the record, that's spelled correctly and pronounced "leed", as in the "lede story on tonight's newscast.")

The Daily News and everyone else in the country stooped to a new low yesterday, publishing photos of the mangled hand of a guy who very well might have preferred those pictures not be put on public display until he was more comfortable with the whole thing. A new low indeed...but don't worry, I'm sure they can go much lower if necessary.

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the latest dmd podcast should give you "peace of mind"

We're back with another podcast here at Drew's Morning Dish, with this week's edition of "3140" focusing on the Ravens trip to Oakland, a look back at last week's season opener in Denver and the DMD NFL Top 10, a new weekly "power rankings" poll that I'll publish every Friday either here in DMD or via a Podcast. We also touch on the Orioles a little bit and offer some commentary on the pending free agents in Baltimore.

#DMD 3140 Podcast
September 18, 2015
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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

Matchweek 5 of the Barclays Premier League did not disappoint, with Everton adding to Chelsea's early season woes, Manchester City needing a last minute goal to steal one at Crystal Palace, and Manchester United continuing their recent dominance over Liverpool. Matchweek 6 looks like another good one with Manchester City and Leicester City looking to continue their impressive starts to the season, two Dutchmen with a longtime rivalry going toe to toe at Southampton, and two London Derby’s on the schedule when Arsenal visit Chelsea and Crystal Palace take on Tottenham. Let’s take a closer look at three of the matchups this weekend and remember, you can watch every EPL game live on the NBC family of networks or online.

Saturday (all times Eastern)

7:45am – Arsenal @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

Matchweek 6 of the Barclays Premier League gets underway with a bang when Arsenal travel across town to take on Chelsea in the first London Derby of the weekend. Chelsea continue to struggle this season, with their loss at Everton last weekend leaving them with the worst start to their season since the 1988 campaign and matching their entire loss total from a year ago (3) in just five short weeks of the new season. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven against Arsenal, with manager Jose Mourinho enjoying an unrivaled dominance over his Arsenal counterpart and rival, losing only once in fourteen attempts against Arsene Wenger.

Although Mourinho has fared well against Wenger in the past, he will have to be concerned about his side’s defensive record as of late, with Chelsea conceding 16 goals in their last seven league matches. Arsenal have not always been on target this year in the offensive third but they lead the league in shots taken and Theo Walcott, who has scored 11 goals in his last 11 starts in the Premier Leagueincluding the opener in last week’s 2-0 win against Stoke, will most likely lead the line for the Gunners after fellow striker Olivier Giroud was sent off in their midweek Champions League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb supported by one the most talented midfields in the league. It may be early in the season, but it is a must win for Mourinho and the Blues if they are to have any hope of catching Manchester City at the top of the league.


10am – Everton @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Roberto Martinez returns to the Liberty Stadium this weekend when his Everton side take on Swansea City, a club that he once played for and then guided to the cusp of the Premier League as manager before he left to take the same position at Wigan. Martinez will be looking for his side to build on the convincing 3-1 win they secured over defending league champions Chelsea last weekend thanks to a somewhat fortunate injury, unless you are the player injured of course, and hat trick from midfielder Steven Naismith.

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With a hat trick off the bench in last week's win over Chelsea, Steven Naismith is back in Everton's good graces for Saturday's battle at Swansea City.

Naismith, who came off the bench in the 9th minute to replace the injured Muhamed Besic to completely changed the game, will likely be in the starting lineup this weekend to face a Swansea side trying to bounce back after a somewhat surprising 1-0 defeat to newly promoted Watford last weekend for their first loss of the season. They might find that difficult however as the Swans have won just one of their 23 meetings with Everton in all competitions, including three of the last four at the Liberty Stadium.


12:30pm – West Ham United @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC

League leaders Manchester City will look to continue their impressive start to the season, while hoping to put the sting of another Champions League failure behind them after they relinquished a lead in a 2-1 defeat to Juventus in midweek, when West Ham visits the Etihad in the Saturday evening matchup. City have won their opening five matches in a top flight season for only the second time since 1913, with Manuel Pellegrini's side having now won 11 consecutive Premier League matches, the third longest winning streak in Premier League history behind only Arsenal and Man United, at 14 and 12 respectively.

While City’s’ embarrassment of attacking riches has certainly played a part in their current run of form, it is the City defense that has been the catalyst for their winning streak having yet to concede a goal this year, an impressive streak totaling nine hours and twenty six minutes of play. The defense should be tested by West Ham and Dimitri Poyet, whose brace on Monday was difference in the Hammers 2-0 victory over Newcastle, and who will be boosted by the likely return of striker Andy Carroll who is in contention to earn a spot in the starting eleven after returning to the squad following a long injury absence and featuring as a substitute against his former team on Monday.


DMD Sponsor Spotlight -- and a quick story

Before I highlight three of our corporate partners this week, let me give you a quick story that just happened to me yesterday. At 9:00 am, I headed off to a meeting on a beautiful Thursday morning. Parked my car, went to open my door and ------ it wouldn't open. Couldn't open. Didn't open. I pulled on the door handle and literally, nothing happened. "OK, now what on earth do I do?" I said to myself.

I got on the phone and checked in with my DMD automobile repair corporate partner, Dan's Automotive. Rob told me to bring the car up right away...he'd find the part...get it delivered...and have the door fixed by the afternoon. So, that's what I did. I drove up to Dan's on Pulaski Highway, Rob greeted me at the door, took my car, and one hour later, I was on my way home with a new door latch and a door that opened. That's the kind of treatment and service you get at Dan's Automotive. Keep their number handy in the event you need to make that call like I did: 410-538-5900

I've been a SECU customer for almost three years now and when I tell you I couldn't be happier, that's the truth. From the day I signed on with them, it's been completely hassle free and the service you receive is unlike any of the "big banks" that I experienced in previous years. I've told this story before, but it's always worth repeating. In March of 2013, I went to my big "American" bank (hint) and asked them for a loan to consolidate some bills and do some modest upgrades to my house. I had been with them since 2000, a loyal customer with several CD's and other forms of savings and checking accounts. They turned me down. I literally went into the SECU branch at LaSalle and Joppa Road the next day, met with their people, and FOUR DAYS LATER, I had a loan from them. I had been a SECU member for about 72 hours when they called me to say, "Yes, Drew, we'll loan you the money." I was with the big bank for 13 years and they wouldn't loan me the money. Amazing, right? And I'm still at SECU today, happy as a clam.

If you're in need of catering for a large office party or family function, turn to my friend Steve Pavlosky and his Chick fil-A location in White Marsh on Campbell Boulevard. Chick fil-A Nottingham Square has been with #DMD since day one and Steve has been a loyal friend, providing food, coffee, drinks, etc. for many of our #DMD road trips throughout the year. Last December, he opened his doors for our annual winter apparel drive and we took the place over for two nights and were able to secure over 4,000 pieces of apparel for distribution to the men at Helping Up Mission. Placing a catering order from Chick fil-A White Marsh is easy. Just click on the Chick fil-A ad you see on the right hand side of this edition of #DMD -- it takes you right to the order page.

I do about six events every year that include a silent auction, and whenever I host one of those events, I only get my memorabilia and collectibles from one place -- Robbie's First Base on Ridgely Road in Timonium. For starters, I know everything I get is authentic, because Robbie's secures the most reliable autographed sports memorabilia in the state. The service at Robbie's is impeccable. If you go in the store and you don't see a collectible piece you want, just ask Robbie or Robbie Jr. and they'll track it down and have it in the store for you within a week if not sooner. Their prices are always fair and they provide that all-important certificate-of-authenticity so the person purchasing or winning your collectible piece is confident they're getting "the real thing". Give Robbie Jr. a call the next time you need sports memorabilia -- 410-560-3200.

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while others keep losing, o's gain a little more ground

I'm still not getting excited, but by the end of this weekend, we ALL might be starting to take notice of the A.L. Wild Card race. Some wacky stuff still has to happen, yes. But, the Orioles are suddenly on the outer edges of again "being in the hunt" for the second and final wild card berth after winning their 7th game in nine tries last night with a 4-3 triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays down at Tropicana Field.

The O's trailed 3-0 heading to the top of the 8th inning last night, baffled by Rays' starter Matt Moore, who allowed just two hits and struck out seven in seven innings of work. The inning looked benign until the Birds started a 2-out rally that eventually culminated in a RBI single from Manny Machado and a check-swing two-run single from Adam Jones to plate the tying and winning runs.

Everyone the Orioles needed to lose did so last night. Houston...loser. The Astros were swept in a four-game series at Texas and have now not only fallen out of first place in the West, but they're only one game ahead of the Minnesota Twins in the battle for the second wild card spot. Speaking of the Twins...another loser last night, as the Angels knocked them off. And the Indians...losers last night, too, falling to the Royals, 8-4. The Orioles need to keep winning, though. They can't afford to go 2-2 in Tampa Bay this weekend. They MUST go at least 3-1 and 4-0 on this trip to Tropicana Field might just get them officially "knocking on the door" with two weeks left in the season.


FRIDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
ST. PETERSBURG
D. Smyly
2-2, 3.14
T. Wilson
2-1, 2.19
7:10 PM EDT
TROPICANA FIELD



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 80 - 65 17 4
Astros 77 - 70 15
Twins 75 - 71 16
Angels 74 - 72 16
Indians 72 - 73 17 4
Orioles 72 - 74 16
Thursday
September 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 17

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i applaud adam jones for the effort, but.......

Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said on Tuesday that he's going to try and arrange off-season meetings with team owner Peter Angelos, manager Buck Showalter and vice president Dan Duquette -- all in an effort to make sure the club is committed to being competitive in the off-season as it relates to player signings and improving the team heading into the 2016 campaign.

It's a noble thought and one that has been tried before, in fact, but it's going to be as unproductive as a J.J. Hardy at-bat. The proposed meetings with Showalter and Duquette will hum along nicely, I'll assume. Jones will demand from Showalter that he "stick up for the players" and push management to improve the roster quality for 2016 and beyond. Showalter, no doubt, will assure the centerfielder that he'll do his best to convince ownership to spend the necessary funds to upgrade the ballclub.

Jones will find Duquette to be just as welcoming, but probably not as honest. That's because Duquette is oddly attracted to what I loosely call "dumpster diving" when it comes to finding players and building a ballclub. In some ways, he's a lot like the team's owner. "Let's try and do it our way and scrape it together with a few good players and a bunch of journeymen..." is their favorite philosophical statement. And, in fairness to them, it worked in 2012 and 2014 when the club made the post-season. But Jones -- and everyone else who pays attention -- knows that losing quality and adding scrubs didn't work in 2015. It misfired, badly, and only time will tell if Jones calls Duquette out for the likes of Parmelee, Snider and Cabrera or decides not to rock the boat.

No matter what is said -- and promised -- in the meetings with Showalter and Duquette, I hope Adam Jones knows what's going to happen in the off-season so he doesn't get his feelings hurt. Here's what the crystal ball shows: (nothing here)

Unless the Orioles do something they've NEVER done since Peter Angelos bought the team in 1993, Jones is going to be disappointed with the team's desire to win via an off-season of aggressive player movement. The Orioles have NEVER, NOT ONCE, paid $100 million or more for a baseball player. The highest contract ever, in fact, belongs to the disgruntled centerfield himself, who signed on for $85 million a couple of years back. He's the player with the biggest contract in franchise history. Now, perhaps Chris Davis somehow winds up taking four years at $22 million from the Orioles. That, of course, would be music to Jones' ears and would keep the power hitting first baseman in Baltimore. I have to assume, though, that if Scott Boras took Baltimore's $88 million offer to New York or Boston, those two franchises would just add $50 million to it (and two more years on the contract) and say to Boras, "Find out what number he wants to wear up here."

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As the team leader, his voice should be heard, but will Adam Jones get through to owner Peter Angelos?

I'm not sure what A.J. thinks he's going to accomplish by asking to meet with Peter Angelos. The Birds have spent $100 million or so in each of the last two years, so it's not like they're penny pinching or anything. But when it comes to signing players, and paying top freight, and giving that "extra year" because that's how it goes these days -- the Orioles are simply not players in that game, period. They lost out on Nelson Cruz and his 42 HR's because they didn't want to give him a 4th year on the deal. Without saying it publicly, you know PRECISELY what Angelos and Duquette were thinking last winter when they refused to up the ante for Cruz. "Steve Pearce can do about 75% of what Cruz can do for a quarter of his salary." Ummmmm...not quite.

I wish Jones great luck with those three proposed meetings with the team's decision makers, but I think he has a better chance of winning the lotto than he does convincing Peter Angelos to give Chris Davis $125 million for five years. How are they going to replace Wei Yen Chen? And Matt Wieters? And Darren O'Day? I know two of those answers. They're going to just go with Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher and I'm OK with that. They're going to give O'Day's 8th inning role to Mychael Givens and that, to me, falls under the category of "it is what it is". Givens isn't as good as O'Day, but he's cheaper and under team control and they're just not going to fork over big money to keep O'Day around when he only throws 50-60 innings a year. I don't know how they'll replace Chen, but my guess is they'll do it as inexpensively as they possibly can, much to the chagrin of Adam Jones.

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wright, o's blasted 10-1 by red sox in series finale

At least they didn't get shutout.

I know, that's a pretty lame point to bring up after a 10-1 defeat at home, but it's the only silver lining I could think of to start things off here. The Birds got slapped around Wednesday night by Dustin Pedroia and the Red Sox, snapping a modest 3-game winning streak and further slowing the team's push for one of the two American League wild card spots.

The Red Sox jumped all over O's starter Mike Wright last night, as the right hander went 3.0 innings, allowed six earned runs and saw his ERA balloon to 6.33 in what could be his final start of the 2015 campaign. Simply put, other than a good start or two when he first came up back in June, it's been pretty ugly for Wright. He doesn't have the pitch array to challenge big league hitters and when he needs to get his fastball up in the mid 90's or so, he can't do it with any consistency or reliable location.

Pedroia and David Ortiz both homered off of Wright and Pedroia added another dinger a couple of innings later off of Jorge Rondon. The Birds, meanwhile, looked disinterested from about the 5th inning on, although Steve Pearce did manage to drive in a run in the bottom of the 9th that avoided a shutout.


THURSDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
ST. PETERSBURG
M. Moore
1-4, 8.44
C. Tillman
9-11, 5.21
7:10 PM EDT
TROPICANA FIELD



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 80 - 65 17
Astros 77 - 69 16
Twins 75 - 70 17
Angels 73 - 72 17
Indians 72 - 72 18 4
Orioles 71 - 74 17
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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
brought to you by
Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

As the 2015 High School football season gets underway, we welcome you to our weekly spotlight on the local scene, brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. You'll be able to check in here in each week to see what's happening on the Baltimore area high school football scene, and you should check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

Each Thursday, you can look forward to DMD's high school coverage via our "Game of the Week" preview, plus a look at the Top 15 teams in the area and who they're playing that weekend.

If you have an upcoming game that you want #DMD to feature, let us know in the comment section below, then check back every Thursday morning to see if your favorite high school team will be playing in the #DMD featured Game of the Week.

This week's "Game of the Week" takes place tomorrow, Friday, September 18 at Loyola, as the 2-0 Landon Bears, led by Coach Paul Padalino will visit Loyola Blakefield’s Hargaden Field for a 4:30 pm kick off against Coach Brant Hall and his 2-1 Dons squad.

Landon, playing in the D.C.’s powerful I.A.C. league, has been tested twice this year, passing each test by scoring an average of 45 points in each game. That's an impressive stat line until you take into consideration that the Bears' first two opponents haven't yet won a game yet in the 2015 season. The Bears' signal caller, Griffin Brown, is nimble and strong armed, but has no qualms about handing the ball off to Joshua Hunter. Hunter, a +200 lbs. Senior running back, has a powerful and punishing running style that fits his physique. Hunter is also an effective blocker. The Bears will face their first real test of the season on Friday at Blakefield.

The Loyola Dons, playing in the MIAA – A Conference - are 2-1 on the young season. All three of their opponents thus far have hailed from the MIAA- B Conference, with John Carroll dealing the Dons a loss in their first game of the season. Loyola, hampered by quarterback injuries to begin the season, have had to resort to sharing the QB duties. A bright spot emerged from the Don’s QB situation in Will Koras. Only a Sophomore, Koras has turned in some excellent performances at QB for Loyola, and get this – he's also a standout for the Dons' varsity golf team. The Offensive Line is smart and disciplined, anchored by Seniors Trey Thomas (G) and Brian McShalley (T). The Loyola defense is stout and that should make for a great match up against the high scoring offense of Landon.


#DMD's Top 15 Schedule for this weekend –

#1 Gilman (2-1) @ Paramus Catholic (NJ) (1-1) - Sat. 3 pm.
#2 McDonogh (2-0) @ Mallard Creek (NC) (3-1) - Fri. 7 pm.
#3 Old Mill (2-0) @ #9 South River (2-0) - Fri. 6:30 pm.
#4 Franklin (1-1) vs. Woodlawn (2-1) - Fri. TBD
#5 South Carroll (2-0) vs. South Hagerstown (1-1) - Fri. TBD
#6 Howard (2-0) vs. River Hill (1-1) - Fri. 7 pm.
#7 Arundel (2-0) vs. Chesapeake (2-0) - Fri. 6:30 pm.
#8 Mt. St. Joseph (2-1) vs. SEED (0-1) - Sat. 1 pm.
#9 South River (2-0) vs. #3 Old Mill (2-0) - Fri. 6:30 pm.
#10 Eastern Tech (2-0) vs. Hereford (1-1) - Fri. TBD
#11 John Carroll (3-0) @ Pallotti (3-0) - Fri. 7 pm.
#12 Arch. Spalding (2-1) vs. Riverdale Baptist (2-1) - Fri. 7 pm.
#13 Broadneck (1-1) @ #15 Annapolis (2-0) - Fri. 6:30 pm.
#14 Douglass (2-0) @ Dunbar (2-0) - Fri. 7 pm.
#15 Annapolis (2-0) vs. #13 Broadneck (1-1) - Fri. 6:30 pm


go head-to-head with drew in nfl week 2 and win a $50 gift card at glory days

The NFL season is upon us and our friends at Hong Kong Louie have created weekly Contests exclusively for Drew's Morning Dish readers.

Each week, Hong Kong Louie handicaps all the NFL games. For each game, you have the option of selecting the favorite or the underdog. There are no point spreads – you must select the outright winners of the games – the underdogs are awarded commensurately more points than the favorites to reward those who correctly pick the upsets. To score points, you MUST select the WINNER of a game. If you select the winner, you collect the points indicated for that team. If you select the loser, you collect NO POINTS for that game. After all games are decided, each entrants' points for all games are totaled.

Example: If you take the Ravens to beat Oakland this Sunday, you receive 100 points if the Ravens win the game. If you select Oakland, you receive 313 points if the Raiders win. If you select the loser of the game, you score NO points. The same follows for all 16 games played this week. When all games are decided, each entrants' score for all games is totaled.

The player who beats Drew's total points and who has the highest point-total of all #DMD contestants wins a $50 gift card to Glory Days. If no one beats Drew's total, the gift card goes into the following week's Contest and thus doubles next weeks' prize value. Simple enough, right? Just go to the Hong Kong Louie website, register, and you're all set for the season. Each week—prior to the Thursday night game at 8:30 pm—you go in, make your picks, and go head-to-head with Drew.

Here's how to enter the #DMD Contest:

  1. You must be a registered member of HongKongLouie.com to enter the #DMD Contest (it's FREE to register and there is NO obligation of any kind). Many #DMD readers are already registered members of HongKongLouie.com. [And several have already won HongKongLouie cash prizes!] If you are not already registered, it literally takes only thirty seconds to sign up. Register here.
  2. Once you create an account (or if you already have one), go to the #DMD exclusive contest page.
  3. Copy-and-paste or type this password — r1yocG2E — into the password area in the above (#2) link. [Please don't share the password with anyone who is not a #DMD reader.]
  4. Make your selections of the winners of all the games, and then answer the Tiebreaker questions.
  5. At the conclusion of the last Sunday night game of the week, each entrants' score will be published on any computer or phone on which he or she is logged in to HongKongLouie.com.
  6. If you have any questions about the Contest or the log-in procedures, please e-mail: support@hongkonglouie.com. We realize that the explanation here is more complex than the process of entering the Contest, and for that, we apologize. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible with any clearer explanations necessary.
  7. #DMD readers are also cordially invited to participate in the non-exclusive Hong Kong Louie Contests, and compete against all the world for the cash prizes to the winners. The two currently open for entries are the NFL Division Winners and the NFL Week 1 Contest. And some good ones are coming up on the FedEx Cup and the Presidents Cup; the (baseball) World Series and the World Series of Poker; UFC 192; the Breeders Cup thoroughbred races; and the Primetime Emmy Awards.
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Wednesday
September 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XIV
Issue 16

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ravens add babin to replace injured suggs

That depth on the Ravens roster that I've been referencing all summer is about to be tested right away. One day after Terrell Suggs suffered a torn achilles, Dean Pees passed the baton to Za'Darius Smith, the club's 4th round pick in last May's draft. That he wasn't suited up for Sunday's opener in Denver was more a reflection of the club being top heavy at linebacker than anything else, but it's at least worth noting that Smith goes from inactive-to-active-and-needing-to-play-well within a week of each other. No one's expecting him to be Terrell Suggs, of course, when he makes his NFL debut this Sunday in Oakland, but he can't be a stiff, either.

Unsure of what Smith might deliver as a NFL starter, the Ravens went out yesterday and signed free agent Jason Babin, who was cut by the Jets on September 5. Babin, 35, has 64.5 sacks in a lengthy career that includes stops in Houston, Tennessee, Philadelpia and New York. At one point, he was a feared linebacker with a high-motor who could chase the quarterback with the best of them. Last season, despite a high rating from the analysts at Pro Football Focus, Babin only managed two sacks. The Ravens also looked at Shaun Phillips on Monday before deciding to sign Babin to a minimum-salary deal.

jason babin
His best days are behind him, but Jason Babin gives the Ravens an experienced linebacker if it turns out Za'Darius Smith isn't ready for prime time.

Babin's arrival does several things for the Ravens. It clearly gives them someone with more experience than Za'Darius Smith, but it's likely he'll have to beat out Smith to get playing time. There's little chance -- unless another linebacker or special teamer gets hurt -- that John Harbaugh will suit up BOTH Smith and Babin on the same day, particularly since Babin can't play special teams. Babin's strength has always been as a QB-hound. He won't set the edge or play the run and short pass situations nearly as good as Suggs, but then again, neither will Smith. My guess is they give Babin a week or two to get his sea legs under him and then he plays an extensive role in the Thursday night game at Pittsburgh (10/1). That would be a perfect night to give Babin passing-down snaps and perhaps free up Elvis Dumervil if, in fact, Babin is still able to cause some problems and disrupt Ben Roethlisberger and Company.

The Babin signing isn't a bad one. Not at all, in fact. But he's basically all that was left once the final cuts were made Labor Day weekend and you'll get what you get from him: an honest effort, with the chance, perhaps, to play a more pivotal role in games that feature an opponent who likes to throw the ball a lot. He is NOT Terrell Suggs. And neither is Za'Darius Smith.

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o's gain a game with 6-5 win over boston

I'm not getting excited yet, don't worry.

But the Orioles have quietly moved to within five games (in the loss column) of the final wild card spot after last night's 6-5 win over Boston, and with the Astros losing to Texas, Baltimore is creeping up the standings a little bit.

Chris Davis singled in Gerardo Parra with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the O's their third straight win and sixth victory in seven games. The O's led 4-1 early in the game but the Red Sox chipped away and eventually tied it up at 5-5 on an 8th inning solo home run by Travis Shaw.

Ubaldo Jimenez got the start and went five innings (91 pitches), allowing four earned runs while striking four and walking three. Chaz Roe (3-2) got the win in relief.

WEDNESDAY EVENING'S MATCHUP
in
BALTIMORE
Mike Wright
2-4, 5.45
H. Owens
2-2, 5.25
7:05 PM EDT
ORIOLE PARK



american league wild card standings
– top two teams qualify –


Team Record Games
Remaining
Games
In/Out
Yankees 79 - 65 18
Astros 77 - 68 17
Twins 75 - 69 18
Angels 73 - 71 18
Indians 71 - 72 19 5
Orioles 71 - 73 18
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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


So this is the Marc Trestman offense? Let's hope not.

There was virtually no reason for offensive optimism after the Ravens 19-13 loss to the Broncos, which produced one of Joe Flacco's worst statistical games and exposed major offensive shortcomings for the Ravens.

"We certainly have a better feel right now about where we are as a football team, what we need to work on, where we need to get better, and that’s a good thing about the first week," coach John Harbaugh said on Monday from San Jose, where the team is spending the week before facing the Raiders on Sunday.

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His relationship with Joe Flacco is important, but Marc Trestman also needs to make sure the Ravens' running game percolates in 2015.

Well here's a short list of where the Ravens need to get better on offense: Everywhere. Perhaps the biggest disappointment at Denver was how the offensive line, viewed as one of the team's strengths, was manhandled. True, starting left tackle Eugene Monroe left early with a concussion, but he was badly beaten by DeMarcus Ware before he left. And although backup tackle James Hurst and Rick Wagner were overmatched by Ware and Von Miller -- and to be fair, they aren't the first tackles to feel that way -- the bottom line is the interior of the line -- Kelechi Osemele, Jeremy Zuttah and Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda, also had their struggles.

The Ravens could not run the ball effectively, to the outside or between the tackles. Case in point: The Ravens ran the ball 10 times on first-down plays, for a total of 14 yards. That equals a lot of second-and- longs, which leads to pass rushers like Ware and Miller salivating. One late 20-yard run by Justin Forsett padded rushing statistics that were otherwise abysmal. Even with that run, the Ravens finished with 73 yards on 23 carries (3.2 avg.).

And the lack of a running game compounded the problems in the passing game. Knowing the Ravens lacked any legitimate deep threat (should Perriman's injury just be called month-to-month rather than day-to-day?), the Broncos could afford to play physical at the line of scrimmage against Ravens receivers, who struggled to get any separation. The result was often a quick look by Flacco -- often all the time he had -- and then a dump-off to Forsett or Kyle Juszczyk, who each led the team with four catches, but none longer than 9 yards.

This is the Trestman offense? Yikes.

If there is a silver lining, it's that the Ravens get the Raiders this week. The Raiders gave up 33 points and 127 rushing yards to the Bengals last week, and the Raiders defense ranked 21st overall last year. So the Ravens can hope that the running game gets on track. They can hope that Flacco has a little more time to throw -- OK, a lot more time to throw -- and his receivers can get open. If it doesn't happen this week, this season could get very long very fast.


go head-to-head with drew in nfl week 2 and win a $50 gift card at glory days

The NFL season is upon us and our friends at Hong Kong Louie have created weekly Contests exclusively for Drew's Morning Dish readers.

Each week, Hong Kong Louie handicaps all the NFL games. For each game, you have the option of selecting the favorite or the underdog. There are no point spreads – you must select the outright winners of the games – the underdogs are awarded commensurately more points than the favorites to reward those who correctly pick the upsets. To score points, you MUST select the WINNER of a game. If you select the winner, you collect the points indicated for that team. If you select the loser, you collect NO POINTS for that game. After all games are decided, each entrants' points for all games are totaled.

Example: If you take the Ravens to beat Oakland this Sunday, you receive 100 points if the Ravens win the game. If you select Oakland, you receive 313 points if the Raiders win. If you select the loser of the game, you score NO points. The same follows for all 16 games played this week. When all games are decided, each entrants' score for all games is totaled.

The player who beats Drew's total points and who has the highest point-total of all #DMD contestants wins a $50 gift card to Glory Days. If no one beats Drew's total, the gift card goes into the following week's Contest and thus doubles next weeks' prize value. Simple enough, right? Just go to the Hong Kong Louie website, register, and you're all set for the season. Each week—prior to the Thursday night game at 8:30 pm—you go in, make your picks, and go head-to-head with Drew.

Here's how to enter the #DMD Contest:

  1. You must be a registered member of HongKongLouie.com to enter the #DMD Contest (it's FREE to register and there is NO obligation of any kind). Many #DMD readers are already registered members of HongKongLouie.com. [And several have already won HongKongLouie cash prizes!] If you are not already registered, it literally takes only thirty seconds to sign up. Register here.
  2. Once you create an account (or if you already have one), go to the #DMD exclusive contest page.
  3. Copy-and-paste or type this password — r1yocG2E — into the password area in the above (#2) link. [Please don't share the password with anyone who is not a #DMD reader.]
  4. Make your selections of the winners of all the games, and then answer the Tiebreaker questions.
  5. At the conclusion of the last Sunday night game of the week, each entrants' score will be published on any computer or phone on which he or she is logged in to HongKongLouie.com.
  6. If you have any questions about the Contest or the log-in procedures, please e-mail: support@hongkonglouie.com. We realize that the explanation here is more complex than the process of entering the Contest, and for that, we apologize. We'll get back to you as quickly as possible with any clearer explanations necessary.
  7. #DMD readers are also cordially invited to participate in the non-exclusive Hong Kong Louie Contests, and compete against all the world for the cash prizes to the winners. The two currently open for entries are the NFL Division Winners and the NFL Week 1 Contest. And some good ones are coming up on the FedEx Cup and the Presidents Cup; the (baseball) World Series and the World Series of Poker; UFC 192; the Breeders Cup thoroughbred races; and the Primetime Emmy Awards.
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O's SCOREBOARD
Wednesday, August 16th
Orioles
6

Mariners
7
WP: T. Zych (6-3)
LP: U. Jimenez (5-8)

HR: Beckham (17), Alonso (23), Martin (3)

RECORD/PLACE: 59-62, 4th place
RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.