Monday
January 15
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issue 15
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a wild weekend in the nfl reminds us of one important thing


Watching three of the four NFL playoff games over the weekend go down to the wire reminded me of something I've said for a long, long time.

It's really hard to win a game at the professional level. Heck, it's hard to win at the college level for that matter.

Hold on a sec. I coach high school golf in a highly competitive conference. It's really hard to win in the MIAA, too.

It's hard to win in sports.

Just ask the Steelers, Falcons and Saints, all of whom lost over the weekend in somewhat improbable fashion.

Pittsburgh lost to a team that scored just ten points the week before in a playoff win over Buffalo. Jacksonville's offense made the Ravens' offense look like the 1989 49'ers when they squeaked past Buffalo, 10-3, in the AFC's opening playoff game.

One week after stinking up the joint at home vs. Buffalo in a 10-3 win, Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense rung up five touchdowns on the Steelers in yesterday's surprising playoff win in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, the Jaguars scored 45 points against Pittsburgh. In Pittsburgh, no less.

Atlanta had the ball on the Philadelphia two yard line in the game's final minute on Saturday. All they needed was two yards. Six feet.

They couldn't do it.

The Saints, of course, took the worst beating of all. They just needed to tackle Stefon Diggs in bounds ANYWHERE on the field once he caught the football near the New Orleans 35 yard line on the last play of the game.

Anyone. Just make a tackle.

No one did.

Three games, three unlikely losers -- at least in the way they lost -- and three more teams who proved the point: It's really hard to win.

And thus commenced a week of coach bashing in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New Orleans, where fans will no doubt pin the blame on the head coaches and/or their coordinators.

They're beating up Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley in Pittsburgh today. They're chasing after Tomlin for electing to try an onside-kick with 2:18 left in the game after the Steelers had clawed back to within a touchdown at 42-35.

In fairness to Tomlin -- and he explained it this way afterwards -- it was pretty obvious by late in the fourth quarter that Pittsburgh's defense wasn't stopping anyone. Why give Jacksonville the ball at the 25 yard line and have them run out the clock?

Trying an onside kick there wasn't the worst idea in the world. But the kicker couldn't execute the kick correctly. And Jacksonville wound up with the ball near midfield and then proceeded to kick what turned out to be the game-winning field goal when the Steelers scored a mop-up-time touchdown on their final play of the game.

Is it Tomlin's fault that Chris Boswell can't properly execute an onside kick?

Now, Todd Haley...that's another story. Twice on 4th and 1 situations, he eschewed the common wisdom of having his 6'5" quarterback just fall forward and pick up the necessary yardage. Instead, he tried an outside running play (Jacksonville's defensive speed made any outside running attempt a coin-flip at best) and a throw across the middle of the field (incomplete).

Coaches -- always trying to outsmart the other team. "We know you know that we know you know what we're going to do...so we'll do the opposite because we know you don't know that's coming."

The Falcons coaching staff is also getting blasted down in Atlanta for their late game play calling. With 1st and goal at the 9 and 1:19 remaining, the best Atlanta could do in that sequence was complete one pass. They had one of the best running backs in the league at their disposal. But they threw the ball four times inside the 9 yard line and couldn't get in the end zone.

And New Orleans, of course, needed to just make one play at the end of the game and they were moving on to Philadelphia.

They couldn't do it.

Should the Saints have had at least one defensive back playing 10-15 yards behind everyone else, just to make sure something goofy didn't happen on that final play? Perhaps. But remember, Minnesota could have won the game with a field goal, too. So playing something akin to a "Hail Mary" defense wouldn't have been smart there.

Instead, the Saints just needed to make sure no one from Minnesota got behind their last defensive player.

And......we know what happened from there.

Who gets the blame? Coaches? Players?

There's an easy answer.

They all get the blame.

Every single one of them contributed to the loss in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Players play and coaches coach.

The coach can draw up the greatest scheme in the world, but if the players somehow botch it or make a mistake (Marcus Williams in New Orleans comes to mind), the whole thing unravels.

You can have a 6'5" Hall of Fame quarterback there for your use, but if you decide not to have him run a QB sneak on 4th and 1, how's that his fault?

It's really hard to win in the NFL.

The other team has players who get paid just like your team does.

Sometimes we miss that point here in Baltimore when the Ravens go 9-7 and miss the playoffs because the quarterback from Cincinnati made a play at the end of the game.

You have to play for the entire 60 minutes, as the Saints were once again reminded yesterday.

It's just really, really hard to win in the National Football League these days.

The other team tries, too, you know.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


You can’t get the whole story without asking the 5 Ws: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? Each week, we’ll answer those questions here at #DMD.


Why?

UCF’s “National Championship”

The schools that play FBS football outside the “Power Five” and Notre Dame would like to be taken seriously, and there’s never been a team from that group that deserves to be taken more seriously than the 2017 UCF Knights.

UCF finished 13-0, the only undefeated season among 130 FBS teams. The Knights put a cherry on top of their year in the Peach Bowl by beating Auburn, which beat both teams that played in this year’s national championship game.

Alas, that means that Central Florida itself did not play in, nor win, the national championship game. So don’t they really need to stop it with the “national champion” stuff?

So far, they’ve held a national champion parade for the Knights at Walt Disney World and a national champion block party in Downtown Orlando. At next week’s men’s basketball game against Cincinnati, they’ll be holding a National Champions Hoopla event, where national champion T-shirts will be tossed into the crowd.

The UCF athletic website says “Knights Ranked No. 1,” in something called the Colley Matrix; click on the link and the story begins “While the buzz continues over UCF’s National Championship…”

I’m perfectly fine with UCF celebrating its perfect season and a bowl win over a powerful SEC team, and I’m perfectly fine with UCF being critical of the playoff system and its bias against non-Power Five teams. But if they’re looking to be taken seriously, they’re not doing a good job of it.


When?

March 2

March 2 is Ben Roethlisberger’s 36th birthday. With another surprising loss at home to Jacksonville yesterday, he won't get a chance for a third Super Bowl ring this year.

There’s some thought that Ben won’t be quarterbacking the Steelers at age 36, but then again there was some thought that he wouldn’t be leading the team at 35 either.

If there’s anything we’ve learned this year in the NFL, it’s how good a quarterback can be at an age that used to be reserved for kickers and punters. Tom Brady is 40, Drew Brees is 38, and a lot of experts suggested before the playoffs that they wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing against each other in Minneapolis in February.

As long as Ben’s got his buddies Antonio and Le’Veon with him, I’m not sure he’s going anywhere. Of course, Le’Veon says he might retire if the Steelers slap the franchise tag on him again, so stay tuned.


Who?

Wink Martindale

The oldest player on the 2017 Ravens roster was tight end Benjamin Watson, who was born in 1980. Both Sam Koch and Terrell Suggs are a couple years younger than Watson.

Wink Martindale ended his run as host of the syndicated version of Tic-Tac-Dough in 1985. Unless Watson was a particularly advanced kid, that means nobody on the Ravens has any idea who he is!

Wink (real name Winston Conrad Martindale) is still going strong at the age of 84.

During his six-decade career, Martindale hosted more than a few game shows, but he’s best known for Tic-Tac-Dough, which I watched religiously as a child. He also hosted a revival of High Rollers, which was originally hosted by Alex Trebek in the 1970s.

Speaking of Trebek, best wishes to him on a speedy recovery from recent brain surgery. And best wishes to Don “Wink” Martindale in his new role as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, because C.J. Mosley ain’t that great in pass coverage from what I’ve seen.


Where?

Reitz Arena

Root for the home team please, but you might want to come out to Loyola University Wednesday night to see the Greyhound men’s basketball team play Bucknell, a legitimately good mid-major college basketball team that can and has competed with almost anyone.

Remember back to November 18, when the Bison led Maryland (before all the injuries) by 15 points at halftime, shooting 65 percent and looking for all the world like winners. I know the Terps are never supposed to lose to a Patriot League team, but I was actually impressed with how Mark Turgeon’s team came back to win a game they probably didn’t deserve to win.

Bucknell’s record is only 10-8, but they also played at Arkansas, North Carolina and VCU in addition to Maryland.

The Bison feature senior Zach Thomas, who ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring. Bucknell also has a legitimate center in Nana Foulland and a guard named Kimbal Mackenzie, who was the Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year in 2015 for John Carroll.

Bucknell lost only three conference games on the way to a league title and NCAA tournament berth last season, and one of them was to the Greyhounds at Reitz Arena last February.


What?

Orioles Fanfest

The annual event at the Convention Center takes place on January 27 this year. I’ve never been, but I always find it amusing to see players wearing heavy jackets after spending most of six months across the street trying to avoid heat stroke.

I wasn’t aware until I read it recently that anyone 15 or older needs to buy an “autograph voucher” in advance in order to get autographs at the event. Those aren’t available until Wednesday, and apparently they go pretty quickly.

Kids 14 and younger get autographs for free. I assume there’s someone there watching to make sure no adults have hired them?

When I was about eight or nine, I saw Jim Palmer in the grocery store. My father told me to go get his autograph and I told my Dad I was more interested in hearing about his leg kick and windup. I didn’t get the appeal of autographs then, and I still don’t understand it now.

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the terps spotlight

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


terps face red-hot michigan tonight


The Michigan Wolverines are fresh off of a big win at Michigan State, and are probably very much looking forward to their encounter with the wounded Terps tonight at 6:30 in Ann Arbor’s Crisler Center.

Maryland has lost two of their last three games, giving up 91 points in each loss, while the Wolverines have yet to suffer what might be deemed a “bad” loss.

Michigan's 4 defeats this year have been by 1 point to Purdue, at Ohio State, at North Carolina, and a two-point loss to LSU on a neutral court. These are two teams seemingly going in opposite directions.

Anthony Cowan and the Terps face a Michigan team that just beat Michigan State in their building -- a week after the Terps lost by 30 to that Michigan State squad in East Lansing.

So, yes, it’s been a pretty successful start for head coach John Beilein’s team.

At 15-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play, this is a solid team that may fail to exceedingly impress in any one aspect of the game, but doesn’t show glaring weaknesses either.

Statistically, nothing jumps out at you, but I am a fan of their overall defensive intensity. They cover a lot of ground with good athletes, are able to block and contest shots, and they defend nicely against dribble penetration.

Offensively, they have several options that can hurt you going to the rim, but I especially enjoy watching their big German junior center Moritz (Moe) Wagner. Wagner dropped 27 on Michigan State in a game that featured him connecting on 3 of 4 three pointers and going a perfect 8 for 8 from the foul line. He may be the most improved player in the league.

If you are a true basketball fan, it’s worth finding the replay (I use BTN2go.com daily) and scrolling ahead to the second half with 3:20 left in the game. Watch Wagner put the ball on the floor, go behind his back, “break” defender Nick Ward’s ankles, and hit an easy layup. That’s a real impressive move for a 6’11” 245-pound guy.

Playing off of him isn’t an option either. Wagner hits 40% of his three point tries. It’s important to not give him any space at all on the perimeter, and fronting him on the interior, with weak-side help, is advisable. Wagner is averaging 14.7 points and almost 7 rebounds per game.

In Michigan’s last game, Isaiah Livers joined Wagner as a front court starter for the first time this year. The 6’7” Livers has gone 18-23 from the floor and 7-9 from the three-point line over his last five games. As with many of the Michigan players, there was nothing I saw from him that stands out (other than not missing many shots lately) but he’s just a solid player who puts in work on the defensive end.

Michigan’s three starting guards do a nice job of pressuring the ball on defense and getting to the rim on offense. The leading scorer of the group is junior guard, and Kentucky transfer, Charles Matthews. A big guard at 6’6”, Matthews is averaging 15.3 points per game and has scored in double digits in 16 of 19 games including the last nine straight.

Matthews’ starting backcourt mates are Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Simpson has a stat line that shows him hitting 14 of 31 three-point attempts (51%) but only 16 of 31 shots from the foul line (54%). He has a respectable 3/1 assist to turnover ratio, but that pales in comparison to the 6/1 ratio put up by Abdur-Rahkman. Abdur-Rahkman is money from the foul line where he hits just over 91%. Together they are a formidable group.

Maryland cannot win this game tonight without a major contribution from their freshman big man, Bruno Fernando.

Hopefully he is over whatever ailed him against Ohio State and is ready to lead the Terps into battle tonight. Regardless of who tries to check him, he is going to have an advantage. He needs to be fed early and often. It essential for the Terps to work through Fernando on as many possessions as possible.

The Terp guards will need to stop the dribble penetration that is a big component of the Michigan offense, and Michal Cekovsky will need to play Wagner wherever he goes on the floor.

Another key element for Maryland is the availability of Dion Wiley. Without him (he’s listed as questionable) the matchups become much more favorable to Michigan, but with him in the lineup I think Maryland can compete in this game.

However, there are some big question marks for the Terps tonight.

For one, can Fernando can stay on the floor and be productive or does he still have lingering effects from his recent illness?

Can Darryl Morsell hit some shots or will he have more blocked than those that get to the rim?

Lastly, can Maryland run effective half court sets?

I haven’t herd an official word, but I’m going to say that Fernando is close to 100% tonight. I’m also gong to say that Wiley plays and is effective. I think Kevin Huerter might struggle offensively, but Fernando should have a big night.

Stopping Wagner is key, and I think Maryland can slow him down just enough to allow the Terps to hang around.

I see a low scoring game that comes down to the wire. It all depends on that last possession. Take the 7 points that the oddsmakers are giving the Terps and watch them play their way to an unlikely road win, 68-66.

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Sunday
January 14
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issue 14
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hang in there...it's almost over


I kept repeating this to myself last night.

"Five more years..."

"Five more years..."

"Five more years..."

In other words, the end is almost near.

Tom Brady says he can play until he's 45.

He's 40, now.

By the time the 2022 season rolls around, he'll be 45. He says he'll call it a day at that point. I sure hope he does.

This guy better stick to his word and be gone by 2023.

"Five more years..."

Brady looked 30 years old instead of 40 last night as he dissected the poor, helpless Titans, who jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and were then humbled for the next 45 minutes in New England's 35-14 victory.

Next Sunday in Foxborough, the Patriots will play in their 7th consecutive AFC championship game.

Seven in a freakin' row. In this day of NFL parity, that's one heckuva stat.

It's coming to an end, though. Brady says he's only playing for five more years.

Once he's gone, New England will revert back to just a regular franchise, with good seasons, bad seasons, winning streaks and losing streaks. I'm sure you join me in looking forward to that particular "new era" of Patriots football.

I'm not here to pile on and gush about Brady's greatness. It's obvious at this point that he ranks as one of the all-time greats. Folks in New England say he's the best quarterback to ever play the game. They might be right. People in San Francisco think there's another guy who was better.

Whether you think Brady's the GOAT is debate-worthy, but what's not even remotely debatable is the fact that he appears to be getting better with age. In a league where most players reach their zenith somewhere between ages 27 and 30, Brady is the league's version of a 2002 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon.

He was good in 2004.

Really good in 2010.

Great in 2015.

And out of this world in 2018.

I'd get aggravated at seeing Brady in his 7th straight AFC title game next weekend if not for the fact that I know it's almost over.

"Five more years..."

I'll just assume that New England beats either Pittsburgh or Jacksonville next Sunday and then clobbers the NFC representative at the Super Bowl Minnesota on February 4th. Expecting it to happen eases the torture a little bit as Brady and people like Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis band together to form an unstoppable force on the offensive side of the ball.

What would Joe Flacco do with Hogan, Amendola and Lewis? Granted, Lewis is a running back, but Brady uses him in such a variety of ways he's definitely an additional "weapon" for the 40-year old.

The Ravens had an old Patriots cast-off this year, in fact, in Danny Woodhead, but Marty Mornhinweg and Flacco never could figure out how to get the best out of him. Meanwhile, Brady makes Chris Hogan look like Jerry Rice.

I used to get agitated watching New England win. One of the reasons it felt so good for Flacco and Company to beat them in Foxborough in 2013 was knowing not only were the Ravens heading to the Super Bowl but the Patriots were not.

It used to bother me that New England wins so much.

Not anymore, though.

As long as Brady's there, I'll just assume they're going to win.

There are rumors New England's offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, is a head coaching candidate in Indianapolis, where he'd get the luxury of working with Andrew Luck once his shoulder is healed and he's back on the field.

Who makes the Patriots tick? McDaniels? Or Brady?

I think we know that answer.

I remember a while back a since-retired Raven offensive lineman had a cup-of-coffee with the Patriots due to some mid-season injuries. We chatted once about his three weeks in New England and he remarked how impressive Brady was with his knowledge of not only New England's offense, but their next opponent's defense.

"Brady actually ran the offensive meetings," the player told me. "He would get up and go through their schemes and plays on the screen and everyone was just amazed at how much he knew about the other team."

McDaniels can head off to Indianapolis if he wants, but unless he's taking Brady with him, he won't beat the Patriots anytime soon with Luck or any other quarterback.

At least for five more years, anyway.

Once 2023 rolls around, we'll start to see a shift in the balance of power in the AFC.

I waited 14 years for the Orioles to get good again. I guess I can wait five more years for the Patriots to become human again.

Here's the thing, though. Brady better be telling the truth about that "play until I'm 45" stuff.

If he comes along and says "I think I'll play until I'm 50", I will not be happy.

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show me the money, playoff style


Now that's more like it, huh?

After a 1-3 start to the playoffs last weekend, #DMD hit both games yesterday (on the money line and the spread) to improve to 3-3 in the 2018 post-season.

I hope you paid off some of that holiday credit card debt with those two picks yesterday. That's what we're here for, after all.

Let's look at today's games.

JAGUARS AT STEELERS (-7.0) -- This is an interesting game today in Pittsburgh. If Antonio Brown isn't close to 100%, as reports out of Pittsburgh are indicating, that certainly changes things for the Steelers. They can still win, of course, even with Brown limited, but Jacksonville's defense will be all that much more difficult to play against if they're not worried about Brown all afternoon. This game hinges on one thing: Can Jacksonville's offense score enough points to win? The thought here is "no, they can't", but they can probably score at least thirteen, and that will keep them in the game well into the second half. We're taking the Steelers to win, but they'll need a 4th quarter score to sew it up and cover the spread. We like Pittsburgh to win 24-13.

SAINTS AT VIKINGS (-4.5) -- Minnesota's spirit might be dampened a bit today given the fact that Philadelphia won yesterday and will host the NFL title game next Sunday. Had Minnesota been playing for the right to host the game, today's outcome might have already been in the bag. New Orleans is the sexy pick today because so many people believe in Drew Brees and so few people believe in Case Keenum. The indoor climate helps the Saints, for sure. But the Minnesota defense is legit. Brees and Company will find that out this afternoon. I can see this game going a lot like last week's Saints-Panthers game. Minnesota wins, but the Saints put up a late score to squeeze their way inside that 4.5 point spread. We're taking the Saints plus the 4.5 in a 28-24 Minnesota victory.

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have fun with #dmd


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, our Masters trip is SOLD OUT.

Glory
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Saturday
January 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 13
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"you can take this fourteen dollar an hour job and..."


Maybe it's the recently-frequent phone and web conversations with my friend George McDowell that have made me think more about Mount Pleasant over the last month or so.

I love that old golf course.

Alas, I don't play it much any longer. Honestly, I'm over there more for breakfast with my wife and kids on a random Saturday than anything else.

I played the course exactly ONE time in 2017. Once. It's not that I have anything against playing it. It's just that most of my golf now takes place at Eagle's Nest and I mostly don't have a reason to play at Mount Pleasant -- so, I don't.

But in the old days, circa 2000, I was there almost every single day. If I wasn't playing a few times a week with my good friend Greg Ruark, I was working there part-time in order to be able to play free golf. And there were always a few tournaments held there each summer, too.

I could most certainly write a book about Mount Pleasant and the decade or so I spent playing and working there. No one would read the book, except for the 34 people I mention in it, most likely, but it would be funny.

The 17th hole at Mount Pleasant, a 200-yard par-3 with trouble left and "amateur alley" to the right. Make par here and you're probably the low guy in your group.

As most people know, I met George through Mount Pleasant. He just sort of showed up one day as a starter. I didn't know him, he didn't know me. But golf brought us together. The sport has a way of doing that.

I loved working part-time at Mount Pleasant. It wasn't really work, per se, or I tried my best to not make it work, I guess. Jim Deck was the head golf professional there at the time, although most of my shifts never seemed to coincide with Jim's hours. I'd later find out that was by design.

"Working" at Mount Pleasant, especially when I would draw an outside assignment like on-course-marshal or working at the cart barn, would basically afford me the opportunity to practice golf somewhere on the course for 3.5 hours and work for 1.5 hours. I'd take my 8-iron and a handful of beat-up golf balls out with me, chase a few people around and nudge them to play faster, then throw the balls down at the 150-yard marker on the 4th hole and try and hit them all to within 15 feet of the hole.

I don't think the folks at the corporation would have liked that work-play ratio, but you don't know what you don't know, as the saying goes.

Back then, you had to work ONE shift per-week to get free golf. It was the greatest opportunity ever if you loved golf the way I did, and still do. Work one five-hour shift and play whenever you want the other six days? Seemed to good to be true. But it wasn't. They eventually changed that scale and made you work three shifts a week and I couldn't do that, so off I went. But for a few years there, it was heavenly.

But there was a summer day in 2001 that wasn't so heavenly.

We were in the midst of one of those typical four week runs in Baltimore where it was 97 degrees every day, with no relief in sight, and the accompanying 94% humidity made it almost unbearable.

Still, Mount Pleasant was packed to the gills with golfers, even with that ungodly mixture of heat and humidity.

My one shift per-week back then was usually Monday afternoon. I worked from 3 to 8 pm, although it typically wound up being more like 3 to 9 pm because no one ever brought their golf cart back in on time. That's a story for another day, though.

On this particular Monday, I pulled in to the parking lot at 2:55 pm and there must have been 20 carts lined up at the barn, all in need of a quick wash and a return to the first tee for dispatch to waiting afternoon golfers.

That was always one of the worst things about working the cart barn at Mount Pleasant. If you pulled up for your shift and the area was empty, you were in for a good day. If you arrived and the area was jam-packed with dirty carts, it was likely going to be a long day.

Twenty carts awaited me as I got out of my car.

By the time I went inside, clocked in, got a Gatorade and small-talked with a few staffers, it was 3:20 pm. When I arrived back out at the cart barn, there were now six more carts piled on to the ones already there waiting for me.

A voice boomed over the loud speaker system from the starter's shack. "I need some golf carts up here, please!" the starter, "Larry", yelled into the mic.

I walked over to the shack.

"What's up Larry, you doing OK?"

Larry was busy scribbling things down on a clipboard. Those starters were always writing something. "I'm doing fine, pardner. You working carts? I need a bunch of 'em up here, quick."

I shuffled over to the cart barn and squirted off a few carts, threw the trash away, wiped off the seats and drove them one-by-one over to the area near the first tee.

I was able to get eight of them out there fairly quickly.

"I'm gonna need more carts!" Larry yelled at me as I was parking the last of the eight.

"I know, my man, I know!" I shouted back.

This was severely cutting into my practice time. The day wasn't off to a good start.

Thirty seconds later, I heard the mic open again. "Drew, I need those carts up here."

I was starting to get agitated. He couldn't have gone through the eight I just sent up there. I washed off four more and took them to the first tee.

Larry was busy writing something down and talking to golfers who on the tee. He had 12 carts now. That would be enough for at least 30 minutes if not longer.

I walked back in the pro shop to cool off. It was 4:00 pm in late July on a 97 degree day. "Blistering" hot is how Marty Bass would have described that afternoon.

"We're gonna need more carts up here soon!" Larry yelled again over the loudspeaker.

I was in full agitation mode now. I went back out to the starter's shack.

"I got a group of plumbers teeing off at 4:30," Larry explained as he scribbed something down on the clipboard in front of him. "I need more carts."

Arguing with Larry was the thing I wanted to do. I liked him. We worked together almost every Monday. This was the first time I ever really remembered him getting on my nerves.

I pulled four more carts over to the first tee area.

The assistant pro came out to see me. "There's a broken down cart out on #8. Can you take the tow bar out there and bring it back in?"

I thought about taking my 8-iron with me, but decided against it. Apparently, on this Monday, I'd have to work more than practice. That didn't sit well.

I got out to #8 fairway and there was the cart, abandoned, waiting to be hauled back in.

Since nothing was apparently going to go right for me that day, the dead cart and the tow bar didn't cooperate with one another. It took me several minutes to get the thing hooked up to the back of the cart. Along the way, I somehow cut the back of my right hand, just above one of my knuckles.

It didn't require a hospital trip or anything, but it was bleeding as I towed the dead cart back to the clubhouse.

As soon as I pulled in, Larry was at it again. "We're low on carts up here! I need carts!" he yelled into the microphone.

I squirted off a few carts and quickly pulled them to the first tee. I grabbed the key from the ignition and walked up to the starter's shack. Without stopping, I tossed the key into a large white bucket that had all the cart keys in there and, in passing, also said, "You can take this 14 dollar an hour job and stick it up your (xxx). This is crazy."

I threw the key in the bucket, made the statement, and kept on walking. Larry was right there, in the starter's shack, writing something down on a sheet of paper.

I went inside to wash off the cut on my hand and get a band-aid. A few minutes later, I made my way back out to the starter's shack.

Larry came out. "Hey, Drew, can I talk to you for a minute?" he said. I could tell he was apprehensive.

"I couldn't help but overhear something a few minutes ago. You threw that key in the bucket and said something about making 14 dollars an hour. Is that how much you make?"

He had fallen for it hook, line and sinker. "Yeah, but I won't be making that next week, because you're seeing Drew on his last day at Mount Pleasant," I proclaimed. "This is insane. I don't need the money that bad," I said as I walked back to the cart barn.

Larry didn't say much the rest of the afternoon. The early evening was quiet, I got to practice a little bit, and everything ended well, a complete contradiction to the first 90 minutes, where I ran around with my hair on fire.

Later that week, I walked into the pro shop late in the day to play a quick nine holes.

I greeted the cashier and someone else in the shop.

The booming voice of head pro Jim Deck roared from his office. "Is that Forrester?" he yelled. "Send him in here."

"Close the door," he said.

"What's up?" I asked. "You OK?"

"No," Deck replied. "I'm not OK. I've got an employee mutiny on my hands thanks to you. Did you tell Larry you make fourteen dollars an hour?"

I started laughing. "Oh, hell, yeah, I did, but I was only joking around."

Deck wasn't laughing. "He didn't know you were joking around. He told some of the other starters and friends of his who work here that you make fourteen dollars an hour and now they're all ready to quit."

This is where I should mention I think I made $6.50 an hour -- plus the free golf -- back then.

"You've created a hornet's nest here you goof," Deck declared. "The next time you see Larry, get this straightened out and make sure he knows you don't make fourteen dollars an hour."

The following Monday, Larry was actually OK with it all.

"You got me pretty good last week," he said.

"I didn't mean to get you fired up," I replied. "I was having a bad day."

And with that, I headed over to wash off the 20 carts that awaited me.

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show me the money, playoff style


We didn't get off to the best of starts last week, as the Super Expert Insider went 1-3 on the opening weekend of the playoffs.

Only a Carolina Panthers cover against the Saints saved us from a 4-game catastrophe.

So, I'm pulling a Nick Saban today and sending the Expert Insider to the bench. I'll handle the game-picking duties this weekend in an attempt to get us back on track.

Let's look at today's games.

FALCONS AT EAGLES (+3) -- It's indeed a rarity that the #1 seed is an underdog, but that's how little confidence the boys in Vegas have in Nick Foles, I suppose. The Falcons looked very good last week against the Rams, but today's a different animal for them. It's cold and windy in Philly, the crowd will be on "10" and the Eagles are well rested. Sure, Ryan wins the quarterback battle with Foles, and Atlanta's offense is, in general, superior to Philly's, but the Eagles weren't a regular season fluke by any means. I know everyone is high on Atlanta today, but we're going with the Eagles and taking the three points and I'll go as far -- just for kicks and giggles -- as calling an outright Philadelphia win, 20-17, in overtime.

TITANS AT PATRIOTS (-13.5) -- There doesn't figure to be much about this game that's particularly distressing for the Patriots. Tennessee's defense isn't terrible, but Brady and Gronk should have a field day over sixty minutes of action. The Titans might score some points, but there's no way they can score enough to keep up with New England at home. The question, of course, is can Tennessee cover the 13.5 points? The guess here is "no", they can't, as New England rolls to a 36-21 win.

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have fun with #dmd


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, our Masters trip is SOLD OUT.

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Friday
January 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 12
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we're dummies and we see it, so why can't they?


If we see what they need, why can't the two sports teams in town figure it out?

Right?

If I've heard that once on talk radio over the last month, I've heard it a hundred times.

"Let's go out to Bill in Towson. Bill, you're on the air. What's on your mind?"

"Yeah, I don't understand why the Ravens don't add some really good wide receivers. I mean, that's what they need. And the Orioles -- they need starting pitching. Why can't get they sign Darvish or one of the other good arms that are out there?"

True. And true. The Ravens need good receivers. And the Orioles need starting pitching.

If we see it, why don't the powers-that-be in Owings Mills and the Warehouse see it?

This one....didn't work out so well.

The answer, of course, is they do see it.

Ozzie Newsome isn't blind -- or dumb. He knows the team's receivers stink. In fairness to the Ravens, they haven't completely ignored their weakness at the receiver position. They spent a first-round pick on Breshad Perriman a few years back, added Mike Wallace, then signed Jeremy Maclin in the summer of 2017.

If those three -- and that's a big "if", obviously -- had each come through with some amount of reasonable acumen, their receiving corps might be decent. You'd have a speedster (Perriman), a good slot guy (Wallace) and a bonafide route runner with good hands (Maclin) to give support to Flacco and the offense.

The Ravens haven't ignored their wide receiver issues. They've just failed -- big time -- in making the position better.

It looks like Perriman is a first-round bust if there ever was one. Wallace is good one week-bad the next week. And Maclin, despite having the basic skillset to be a quality pass catcher, never seemed to get comfortable with either Flacco, the offensive scheme or -- and this is my guess -- playing in the AFC North.

If there's one thing about Maclin that stood out to me during the season, it's that he's not a good fit for AFC North football. Remember, six of your sixteen games come within the division. The Steelers went 6-0 in the division in 2017. That's precisely why they're hosting a playoff game this Sunday against Jacksonville. They mastered the division.

Steve Smith Sr. was a perfect fit for the AFC North. He'd punch you in the mouth and didn't mind if his lip got gashed, either. Derrick Mason was tough like that, too.

Hines Ward, the former Steeler, was well suited for the AFC North.

You have to be really tough to be a high quality player in the AFC North. There's cold weather, rock hard playing surfaces in the winter, good defenses throughout the division (insert your joke here about the Browns never having a "good anything").

Maclin was a bad fit for the Ravens. Don't be surprised to see him go to Jacksonville or New Orleans or Arizona and have a good season or two.

When that happens, folks in town will, naturally, point to the Ravens as the culprit when, in fact, it might have been Maclin's fault he didn't prosper in Baltimore. That's my thought, anyway.

But the Ravens clearly have an issue and we all know what it is.

For whatever weird reason, wide receivers are hit-or-miss in Baltimore and they "miss" far, far more than they "hit".

And the Orioles...

Right now, it's Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy as their 1-2 combination (in some order) in the pitching rotation and then -- nothing else.

The heat will be on Kevin Gausman to have a huge year for the Orioles in 2018. If he has a stinker...the Birds are in big trouble.

There's talk of making Jimmy Yacobonis a starter. They're already trying to work with Miguel Castro at mini-camp to see if perhaps they can stretch him out to start.

Here's how desperate the Orioles are for starting pitching. Are you ready? Remember Dariel Alvarez, the Cuban outfielder the Orioles had high hopes for a few years back?

The O's are trying to convert him from an outfielder to a pitcher.

I know you're laughing at that idea. I kind of am too, honestly. But don't forget, Mychal Givens was a catcher at one point in his minor league career. It's not unheard of at all for a field player to move to the mound and have success.

But it's "so Orioles" to have them try this trick instead of getting real pitchers.

Yacobonis and Castro, heretofore decent relief pitchers, now being groomed as starters.

Alvarez, an outfielder and hitter by trade, going to the mound in an effort to continue his big league career.

Yacobonis, by the way, has really, really good stuff -- some of the best in the organization, actually. Castro showed signs of dominance in certain stretches last summer.

But promise and potential are a long, long way from striking out Stanton and Judge three or four times in Yankee Stadium in July.

The Orioles have two bonafide starting pitchers right now.

The Ravens have, essentially, no really good wide receivers on their roster.

We see it. We know their problems and shortcomings.

And we assume they do, too.

But if they do -- how come neither organization can do anything about it?

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the terps spotlight

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


terps lose by 22 at ohio state


The Maryland Terrapins got spanked last night by the Buckeyes of Ohio State in Columbus. The disappointing final score was 91-69.

The Terps led 20-13 with 10:16 left in the first half on the strength of some really long threes by Kevin Huerter, two threes by Anthony Cowan, and some good inside work by Michal Cekovsky.

No one else for Maryland had scored at that point, and Ohio State wasn’t exactly lighting it up from the field.

That would change in a hurry.

After first year head coach, Chris Holtmann, called a timeout at 10:16, the Buckeyes became a different team. They picked up their defensive intensity and hit almost every shot they attempted. That combination is what coaches look for when they're struggling.

The Buckeyes made their next seven shots and by then their seven-point deficit was a seven-point lead. After one miss, Ohio State hit two more threes, and the lead ballooned to 13. While OSU started ringing up points at a brisk clip, Maryland went cold and took some questionable shots.

After a standout performance in Sunday's home win over Iowa, Bruno Fernando battled the flu bug on Thursday night and scored just two points in the 22-point loss at Ohio State.

Ohio State wound up hitting 12 of their last 16 shots in the half. That's really good shooting, in case you didn't know.

Their lead when the buzzer sounded at the end of the first 20 minutes was 44-32. The game was essentially over.

Ohio State's torrid shooting continued in the second half and their lead would grow to as many as 27 points. During the last 13:28, Maryland was never able to get closer than 21.

I’m not really sure what people expected out of Maryland last night.

Coach Turgeon could barely field a team that resembled the one most writers picked as being just a mid-tier Big Ten squad.

With Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender out for the season, and Dion Wiley missing the game with a concussion, Maryland literally limped into the Value City Arena with 5 functionable players (maybe 6 if you want to count the emerging Joshua Tomaic -- and NO, I’m not counting Jared Nickens who isn’t a Big 10 level athlete).

Oh, and two of those six, Bruno Fernando and Cekovsky, were reportedly hampered by a flu. They logged just 16 and 18 minutes respectively.

The Terps never had the horses to run with Ohio State last night.

Remember, this Ohio State team just beat Michigan State by 16, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Michigan State is better at every starting position than Maryland.

I might give a slight edge at point guard to Maryland, but there’s no denying that positions two, three, four and five favor MSU. And Ohio State crushed them. The Maryland team that played last night never had a chance.

At the 9:30 point in the first half, with Maryland up 22-15, I checked some stats. I didn’t like what I saw, despite the Terp lead.

Ceko had 8 points and was perfect from the floor and the duo of Cowan/Huerter were 4 for 5 from the three-point line. Meanwhile, Ohio State was 1-of-6 shooting threes. None of those numbers were likely to hold up, and they didn’t in a big way.

The 4 for 5 start from deep for Maryland was followed by a 4 for 17 finish. Cekovsky would miss 5 of his remaining 8 shots and Ohio State would hit 16 of their next 23 three-point shots. Blow-out.

The Buckeye threes broke whatever spirit remained in the defeated Terps. They staggered through most of the second half with a half-hearted effort. It was kind of like the jockey who pulls his horse up with a quarter mile left in the race and he’s 30 lengths back with 12 horses to pass.

One might expect Keita Bates-Diop to go for 26 points on 10-15 shooting, but when reserve guard Andrew Dakich goes 4 for 5 and 3-4 from the three-point line, it’s just not your night. Ohio State’s Micah Potter and Joey Lane were a combined 0-10 from beyond the arc coming into tonight’s game. They each went 1-1 last night.

You might attribute some of the Ohio State offensive success to lackadaisical Maryland “D”. There is a bit of merit to that.

I watched Cowan react in disgust after running after out to defend against a three that again found the bottom of the net. I knew at that time that the Terp spirit had been broken like a Tour de France rider giving everything he has while trying to make up ground on a steep incline only to see his target move even further ahead. It can break you. The Terps broke in that respect.

This game wasn’t about schemes or adjustments.

I don’t want to hear about Turgeon being a horrible “in game” coach or about him not developing players (a ridiculous idea).

This was a game where one team, at full strength and with a better roster, beat another team who was at less than half strength.

Yes, Turgeon has to answer for his kids slacking off in the second half, but these are mostly kids from 18-20 years old. They lost their most highly regarded returnee, and then his replacement went down.

Last night they were without what is now another key piece, plus Fernando was nowhere near his usual self (he took two shots in 16 minutes). I’m far from being an apologist for Maryland. Just read some of my columns where I call out a few former Terps for being soft and not playing defense.

That being said, I’m leaning towards giving the program a pass last night. I know it won’t be a popular sentiment, but being somewhat demoralized after losing three guys and having another on the court but really “out of service” is understandable to me.

Coach K couldn’t have coached a “W” out of that M*A*S*H unit last night. If Maryland had opened the season with the roster available to Turgeon last night, not one person would look at them as a potential tournament team.

Things don’t get much easier for Maryland as they travel to Michigan for a Monday game against the Wolverines. They do catch a bit of break, as Michigan plays at Michigan State on Saturday, and then returns home for the Terp contest with just one day in between. Hopefully, the Terp roster that remains is back to normal.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

While things may already be decided at the top of the table, with five teams battling it out for the three remaining spots in the top four and all ten teams in the bottom half with work still to do to avoid the drop, there will be plenty left to play for when Matchday 23 of the English Premier League kicks off the unofficial start to the second half of the season tomorrow morning. If that wasn’t enough to get you interested, don’t forget about the January transfer window that’s now open and that has already produced one mega deal that is sure to have major implications on the top four fight.

It might be freezing outside but we are just getting warmed up across the pond, so don’t miss any of the action with every game available live across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, January 13 (all times eastern)

12:30pm – Everton @Tottenham – Wembley Stadium, NBC

After frustrating their visitors throughout the first half, Manchester United finally found their way through shortly in to the second forty-five minutes when two unanswered goals sent Everton to a second straight defeat. Without a win now from their last four, the Toffees will travel to London for a meeting with Tottenham in Saturday’s primetime fixture, with Spurs rescuing a point when Son Heung-min’s wonder strike from distance cancelled out a similar stunner from Pedro Obiang only minutes before in an uncharacteristically subdued London Derby with West Ham United.

The result kept Tottenham on the outside of the top four looking in, three points behind Liverpool and only two points ahead of arch nemesis Arsenal. With a three-game stretch over the next month against teams currently sitting in the top six where points are likely to be at a premium, they will have to start putting some wins under their belt if they hope keep pace and crack the top four, which they will hope to start doing against an Everton side who have not beaten Spurs in their last ten meetings in the league (L5 D5) and in their last eight trips to the capitol (L5 D3).


Sunday, January 14 (all times eastern)

11am – Manchester City @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola takes his league-leading squad to Liverpool this weekend for yet another statement game in the EPL.

After seeing their eighteen-game winning streak in the league come to an end following a scoreless draw with Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve, Manchester City, still without a loss on the year, were back in the win column when they put the first of three past Watford after only thirty-eight seconds to cruise to a comfortable 3-1 victory. They will face one of their historically trickier forays when they wrap up the Sunday slate with a trip to Anfield for a showdown with Liverpool, who stayed unbeaten in their last thirteen in the (W9 D4) when a stoppage time winner saw them past the pesky Burnley 2-1.

The unbeaten run has managed to keep Liverpool in the top four conversation for the time being, although the visit from City, who are winless in their last fourteen trips to Anfield (L10 D4), will be their first test since influential midfielder and arguably their best player Phillipe Coutinho jumped ship to join Barcelona for a staggering $192 million transfer fee in the first, but probably not the last across the league, big move of the January window, and how they are able to cope with the Brazilians departure will go a long way to determining if they are able to hold off the advances of Tottenham and Arsenal.


Monday, January 15 (all times eastern)

3pm – Stoke City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

The three points against Everton ended a run of three straight draws for Manchester United and moved them back in to their familiar second spot in the table, one point clear of Chelsea who dropped points in a thrilling 2-2 London Derby with Arsenal. They will welcome the struggling Stoke City to Old Trafford for Monday Night Football, with the Potters dropping in to the bottom three when they lost their relegation showdown with Newcastle United 1-0 before embarrassingly crashing out of the FA Cup to fourth tier Coventry City last weekend, a result that ultimately cost manager Mark Hughes his job.

After impressive ninth-place finishes in his first three seasons in charge, Hughes and Stoke City were never able to take the next step, with the Welshmen handed his walking papers after guiding the Potters to only five wins and the worst goal difference in the league so far this season. That is not likely to change with the trip to United where, despite managing to walk away with a share of the points in their last three meetings, they have found all three in just two of their nineteen all-time top flight meetings (L12 D5) and not once in their nine league visits to Old Trafford (L8 D1).

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Thursday
January 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 11
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raiders on the hot seat for hiring the guy they wanted all along


Let me state this right away, loud and clear.

I understand what the NFL's "Rooney Rule" is and I understand why it's in place.

I do.

I'm not against it, not in the least.

But what's happening to the Oakland Raiders -- and what's facing them in the future -- is wrong.

If you missed the story, it's pretty simple. The Raiders, in what had become the worst-kept secret in sports, hired Jon Gruden earlier this week to be their new head coach. They fired Jack Del Rio on the last day of the regular season, creating the vacancy that Gruden filled with his hiring.

At the press conference to announce Gruden's hiring this past Tuesday, Raiders owner Mark Davis nonchalantly threw in that he originally met with Gruden on Christmas Eve and knew at that point he wanted the ex-Raiders coach back in the fold. With a Gruden-deal effectively in place, Davis waited until the team's season ended and then dismissed Del Rio immediately after the game.

The Raiders got their man earlier this week, but they also got in hot water by apparently violating the league's "Rooney Rule" for minority hiring.

But when Davis relayed that story to the media on Tuesday -- accidentally, I assume -- he was thought by many to be guilty of not following the league's protocol, also known as the "Rooney Rule", which states all NFL teams with head coaching vacancies must interview a minority candidate as part of their search.

The Raiders clearly violated the Rooney Rule, by Davis' own admission. They wanted Gruden. They met with Gruden. They hired Gruden. End of story.

Except it's far from the "end of story". It's going to be an issue going forward.

Gruden's the coach in Oakland and nothing's going to change that. The league will allow him to step into his new role, for certain. But the Raiders are in trouble.

They'll likely be fined or have draft picks taken away as a result of their violation of the Rooney Rule. The NFL and Commissioner Goodell will be under the gun to do something to punish the Raiders for their neglect of the rule.

Is that right? Is that fair?

Should the Raiders be punished for bringing back a legendary coach in their history who has carved out a unique position for himself in the world of the NFL by not only coaching a Super Bowl winning team (Tampa Bay) but becoming one of the game's most popular and respected analysts of college football?

Jon Gruden is a great hire for the Raiders. In a variety of ways.

No one thought Gruden would even get back into coaching, but $100 million over 10 years would get anyone's attention. Gruden, as it turns out, started listening intently when that kind of money was offered by Davis and the Raiders.

So here, to me, anyway, is the biggest question the NFL faces: What's so wrong with a team hiring the person they want to hire?

I understand why the Rooney Rule is in place. I get the effort.

But if the Raiders wanted to hire Jon Gruden, why should it matter who else they interviewed or if they wound up interviewing anyone at all?

If he was their number one choice and the person they wanted, they should be allowed to hire him without any rules or attachments to the process.

No one asked me, but here's a simple tweak I'd make to the Rooney Rule: If a team interviews multiple candidates for a vacant head coaching position, the Rooney Rule is in place and at least one minority candidate must be interviewed. But if you only interview one candidate and then hire him -- as in what the Raiders did with Jon Gruden -- the Rooney Rule is not in play.

That's what I would do if they put me in charge. If you zero in on someone to be your coach and you strike a deal with him from the very beginning, there's no need to interview anyone else.

The Raiders wanted Jon Gruden. From the very start, that's who they wanted. They met with him, talked numbers, put a deal together -- and they got their man.

Why waste everyone's time and energy with follow-up inteviews with potential candidates that the Raiders absolutely didn't want to hire?

It's dumb, to me.

The Raiders and any NFL team should be allowed to hire who they want to hire.

And since the league couldn't and wouldn't just abolish the Rooney Rule, how about modifying it to protect someone like the Raiders who, for once, it appears, actually got something right and brought in the biggest fish in the coaching pond?

The Raiders are going to get punished for this whole episode. You know it's coming.

But it's the wrong way to do things. They wanted Jon Gruden. And they got him. That should be the end of the story.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


I checked into XFINITY Center in College Park on Sunday about 30 minutes before game time and two things came to mind. One was that I needn’t have left so early from Ellicott City after picking up my nephew. The other was “where is everybody?”

Then the game started, and about 30 minutes into it two things came to mind. One was that the loss of Justin Jackson means that somebody inexperienced (Darryl Morsell), always hurt (Dion Wiley) or terrible (Jared Nickens) has to play in his place.

The other was “where is everybody?”

I’d estimate there were maybe 8,500 fans in the place for the game against Iowa, which explains the lack of traffic on University Boulevard. We were mostly subdued, watching a group whose season could go either way, even in a B1G that has Purdue and Michigan State and who else exactly?

But 17,000 subdued is still a lot better than 8.500 subdued. So, I ask again, where is everybody?

The answer lies, I think, in the move to the B1G back in 2014.

It doesn’t really make sense that it would lie in the successes and failures of Mark Turgeon’s team. Maryland has been an outstanding team since joining the league--41-18 in conference games, with three straight NCAA tournament appearances at seeds of 4, 5 and 6.

When the students are away on holiday break in December and January, the men's and women's basketball teams at Maryland see significantly reduced crowds at the Xfinity Center.

Compare him to Gary Williams all you want, but Turgeon’s program turned the corner in 2014. Recruiting-wise, the level of player right now is sky high compared to what he was left with in 2011.

Maryland used to play Sunday night games in the ACC too, as part of a TV package that first started with FOX Sports, which also televised this past Sunday’s game. And those games were sold out or close to it, even for teams that didn’t make the NCAA tournament.

In 2007-08, the Terps lost 15 games but still legitimately sold out every home game.

When they built the new arena, with about 3,000 more seats than Cole Field House, they did it with Duke and North Carolina in mind. But why stop with them?

The Terps had been playing great games with N.C. State and Virginia and Wake Forest and Clemson for 50 years too. Georgia Tech had been in the ACC long enough that nobody my age would remember that they weren’t at one time.

I’ve said this before, but no matter who was good each season, every one of those games was a great rivalry. If you grew up as a Maryland fan, you knew the history of all those schools. You didn’t like any of them, even the ones that were a lot easier to beat than the Tar Heels or Blue Devils.

And now, Iowa travels from the even-more frozen Midwest, bringing with them a team full of Iowans and other heartlanders, and you might not see them again for a couple years, and I just think it’s hard for a lot of fans around here to care.

Before the season, the conference announced that it’ll be going to a 20-game men’s basketball schedule next year. The three in-state rivalries (Illinois-Northwestern, Michigan-Michigan State, Indiana-Purdue” will be “protected” for two games each season, and supposedly “regional” opponents will be prioritized as well. You’ll play those opponents 10 times in a six-year span, as opposed to nine for other teams.

Big deal.

And who are Maryland’s “regional” opponents? Penn State and Rutgers? That’s sure to bring out the sellout crowds to the arena every year. I’d bet Iowa’s Isaiah Moss is hoping his team becomes one of Maryland’s “regional” rivals considering 25-point outburst in College Park on Sunday.

But you can’t go backwards, I guess. The deed is done. And you can’t expect to have the same kind of rivalries with five-year opponents that you do with fifty-year enemies. And Maryland is a big state school that belongs with the other big state schools in its new conference, as much or more as it did with the schools in its previous one. And the Big 10 Network is really cool.

All true.

The problem is that Maryland built a 17,950-seat arena because they could fill it. They built it with Maryland basketball--not just a good team but one of the region’s best entertainment options--in mind. They built it with the idea that, even when students were out of session, those seats would be bought up by the public.

The place isn’t there for concerts; there aren’t 25 locker rooms to host an NCAA tournament regional. Blizzards and other acts of God aside, the place is meant to hold enthusiastic sellout crowds that give the Terps one of the best home-court advantages in the country.

In February 2010, there was an incredible crowd in the arena on a Sunday afternoon the day after a storm dropped 27 inches of snow. If the same were to happen this season, I’d bet the place would be dead. Even if students who didn’t have tickets were told they could come for free that day, a lot of them wouldn’t come.

I always thought it was unfortunate when the crowd for the game against Duke or North Carolina was so much more enthusiastic, and even slightly bigger, than it was for the game against Virginia Tech or Wake Forest. Every game is important, and if you’re a fan you shouldn’t care who your team is playing that day.

Right now, I think the players would give anything to have one game that feels like Clemson or UVa, let alone Duke or Carolina. When Bruno Fernando was pumping up Sunday’s crowd after a big play, I bet he was wondering where most of them were.

Maryland has six home games left. The last five of them are on a Saturday or Sunday, with the Sunday games both at 1:00 against current No. 1 Michigan State and Wisconsin, the best program in the league over the last five years.

I’m not in the business of telling people what to do with their weekends. I do know that most of the tickets for those games have been sold. It’ll be telling if those games come and it doesn’t look like it.

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, our Masters trip is SOLD OUT.

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Wednesday
January 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 10
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learning from the teacher


The Ravens, to no one's surprise, really, yesterday hired Don "Wink" Martindale as the team's new Defensive Coordinator.

He was, along with former Ravens coordinator Chuck Pagano, one of the favorites for the gig as soon as Dean Pees formally announced his retirement in the aftermath of the New Year's Eve loss to the Bengals.

Good hire? Bad hire?

The answer won't come until we see him in action next season. As always, he'll live and die by the performance of the players. If the Ravens defense improves and stops letting Ben Roethlisberger beat them on the last drive of the game in Pittsburgh every December, I'll probably consider it a good hire.

Not having Pittsburgh stun us with a last second win every season would be a good start, in my book.

The players rallied for Martindale as soon as they officially knew Pees was gone.

He's been a popular coach within the Ravens organization for several years now. And, naturally, since John Harbaugh hired "Wink", John Harbaugh likes him. Perhaps to a fault.

So, while I wasn't at all surprised by yesterday's news, it did get me to consider something. And this isn't really a criticism, but just more of an observation.

John Harbaugh's management style -- these days, at least -- is really starting to mirror Steve Bisciotti's style.

Here's where I'll note that Bisciotti's "style" garnered him a billion dollars, a bunch of nice houses, a boat that couldn't fit on your front lawn, and a football team that he's owned since 2004.

Whatever Bisciotti's style is, I'd say it's worked well for him. Either that, or he's extraordinarily lucky. I think it's probably style over luck.

Ever since Tyler Boyd scampered into the end zone on December 31, Ravens fans, foaming at the mouth, have demanded change.

And they want real change, as in change the GM, or change the head coach, or change the offensive coordinator. "Change it up!" people are screaming.

Harbaugh went to the microphone last Thursday at Owings Mills and snuck this sentence in with the same enthusiasm you'd ask a friend if he wants cream and sugar in his coffee.

"I'm happy with everyone on my coaching staff. We won't be making any changes with the staff," the coach said.

More outrage from the fans followed. "Change it up!" they demanded.

Nothing, it appears, is changing, unless you count giving Greg Roman the title of "Assistant Head Coach" -- so he wouldn't leave for a new role somewhere else -- as "changing it up".

And they did add a quarterback coach to the mix, James Urban, but that's only because Mornhinweg had served in that role prior to his promotion as the team's offensive coordinator in the middle of the 2016 season.

All in all, though, the coaching staff from 2017 is returning en masse next season.

Harbaugh, much to my surprise, is sticking with what he has for 2018.

Do you know who taught him that "style"?

You got it. Steve Bisciotti taught him that style.

When Bisciotti gets up next week at the team's annual "State of the Ravens" press conference, you'll hear this word at least a dozen times from him: continuity.

On numerous occasions in the past, including last January when there was heat on the owner to make substantial changes within the organization following an 8-8 campaign, Bisciotti preached "continuity".

"I didn't get to where I am by just firing people every single time something doesn't go well," he said.

I bet he says that again -- or something like that -- next week during the press conference.

He's not going to stand up there and say, "Hey...I'm worth a billion dollars. I think I know what I'm doing." But that's probably what he'd like to say.

So, while Harbaugh has clearly been a benefactor of Bisciotti's patient, calm, don't-rock-the-boat management style, he's done one better and adopted it as his own philosophy.

Perhaps that the golden egg we've all been missing when we ask, "How can Bisciotti allow Harbaugh to bring back the same staff when the team has missed the playoffs three straight years?"

Harbaugh simply says to the owner, "If there's one thing you've taught me Steve it's that just firing people for the sake of firing them isn't a good way to do things. We need continuity, not turmoil, just like you always say to the media at the press conference."

Bullseye.

How's Bisciotti going to argue with that sort of logic? It's his philosophy and style, being utilized by an employee that he's taught and mentored since 2008.

Harbaugh, in football ways, has modeled himself after Steve Bisciotti the businessman.

And perhaps that's the best way for Harbaugh to go about things.

Most people in town don't agree with it. If you polled 100 Ravens fans, I'd say 80 of them would be of the "fire someone!" ilk.

But John Harbaugh has been around Steve Bisciotti for a decade now. He's observed and learned from a billionaire.

And, to me, it looks like the coach has modeled his style after the one Steve Bisciotti has preached and taught since 2008.

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a note to ovi and the caps


Ovi,

You're not getting me this year.

I bought in last season and you got me.

I bought in the year before that and you burned me again.

You've been doing this to me forever, but it's not going to happen this season, I promise you that.

I'm not getting excited.

Oh, and I want to, believe me. I see the way you're playing this season. You're having one of those "Great Eight" seasons, the kind we assume you're going to have every year, or at least until you can't play anymore.

Some of the new guys look like good fits for the team. Braden Holtby is playing well and, even though his win-loss record might not show it, Philip Grubauer has emerged as a very solid, capable back-up goaltender.

I'm still not sold on the defense being prime-time enough for playoff hockey in May or June, but if you guys keep scoring four and five goals a night, the defense might not matter all that much.

But, Ovi, I'm not letting you reel me in.

I'm not doing it.

Because I know what's going to happen in either late April or early May.

You guys are going to lose to someone in the post-season you have no business losing to -- or, maybe it will just be Pittsburgh that beats you again even though you'll finish the regular season with 18 more point than the Penguins.

Somehow, I know, you guys are going to muck this it up in the spring.

I haven't looked closely enough yet to figure out which team will do the deed and end the Caps season in May, but it will be someone like the Blue Jackets or Rangers, I'm guessing. You know, a team that shouldn't beat the Capitals in the playoffs, but will nonetheless.

I know it's coming, Ovi.

I just know it.

I watched last night's 3-1 win over Vancouver and heard the TV guys gushing about how well the Caps have played over the last month. "This year's team looks different," they both said on more than one occasion in the post-game show.

Yep, it sure does.

The team always looks different in January. And then April or May comes and nothing changes.

I'm not falling for it this year. I'm not. I hate to be a pessimist like that, but you guys have burned me too many times.

I'm ready for the shocking playoff loss once again.

Just make sure it's not the Flyers who beat you. That one, for certain, I wouldn't be able to handle.

Please let me down gently in the spring.

DF

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, our Masters trip is SOLD OUT.

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Tuesday
January 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 9
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


five million visits later


The moment came and went as quickly as the Ravens playoff chances died on New Year's Eve.

Yesterday, at some point between 3 pm and 5 pm, Drew's Morning Dish reached the 5 million mark in visits.

I knew yesterday was likely going to be "the day" and checked our traffic totals early in the afternoon -- but didn't remember to check back until just after 5 pm. And by then, our lifetime total visits, since August 25, 2014, had already surpassed 5,000,000.

If you visited #DMD yesterday between 3 pm and 5 pm, it could have been your "click" that put us over the 5 million mark! I wish I had a car or something big to give you as a result...alas, I don't.

But what I do have is eternal thanks. To all of you who have read the site, commented, shared it with friends, provided content, and advertised on the site, I say, thank you, thank you, thank you.

A major slice of thanks goes out to the two guys who have helped me so much "behind the scenes". George and Tony will swat these accolades away like a fly on your hot dog at the ballgame, but without those two, #DMD doesn't exist. Or, at the very least, it exists in a much less professional looking form than the one you see here today, that's for sure.

I try to tell them as much as I can how much I appreciate their loyalty and support. They've been amazing contributors to the success of the site.

We've been blessed to have some very intelligent and thought-provoking writers here at #DMD. Our goal is to continue providing their work for you as long as you'll keep coming here every day.

2018 is off to a great start for #DMD.

We've added a handful of new corporate partners in January and we now feature a daily 10 minute-podcast (The Juice) that gives me the chance to opine on things that I otherwise might not get a chance to mention on the website.

As you can see by clicking on "DMD Advertising" in the upper part of today's edition, we're kicking off the new year by actively looking for new corporate partners who want to align their business or company with #DMD. You'll notice recently we've joined forces with the likes of Lyft and Dollar Shave Club, plus our friends at Wisp Resort are snow-packed, open for business, and eager to connect with #DMD readers in Baltimore who might be making the trip to Western Maryland sometime this winter!

If you own a business in Baltimore and you're interested in marketing with #DMD, please reach out to me (drew@drewsmorningdish.com).

One quick note, though. I established a policy back on day one that we wouldn't "double dip" when it comes to our corporate partners. In other words, we're obligated to one automobile dealer (Jerry's Toyota), one convenience chain (Royal Farms), one credit union (SECU), one benefits/payroll/technology company (Kelly) and so on.

All of my successful entrepreneur friends who drive really nice cars have told me how nuts I am for having that "exclusivity" philosophy with #DMD, but I pledged from the beginning that I wouldn't double dip and I'm sticking with it.

"You're costing yourself a lot of advertising dollars," they say. "If you can put four banks on the site, do it. If you can put four mortgage companies on the site, do it."

"I'm not doing it that way," I always say.

Maybe I am costing myself money with my stubborn "no double dipping" policy. But that's entirely OK.

Nothing felt more disingenuous about being a radio host than voicing an advertisement for, say, a car dealer, where you tell everyone how great that dealer is and how their make and model of cars are the best and how no one in town will treat you better than that dealer. Then...20 minutes later in the next commercial break...another voice from the station in another recorded ad tells you how great a different car dealer is in town.

Note: That's not intended at all as a slap at my former radio employer. Every radio station in America operates on the same theory. Get as many advertisers as you can, no matter how many are in the same category.

I understand advertising. I watch sports on TV. Southwest Airlines, Delta, American -- they all advertise in the same game, sometimes within minutes of one another, and it's up to you to decide which one you're going to patronize next.

I never wanted #DMD to be that way.

It felt slimy, honestly, to be on the radio bragging about how great "Bob's Dry Cleaner" is and then 20 minutes later there's an ad for "Dave's Dry Cleaner" and we're telling you to do your dry cleaning with them. Confusing? I thought so.

So, if you have a company or business and the category is "open" here at #DMD, you're welcome to check in with me and we can talk about how your partnership with Drew's Morning Dish would work.

There are lots and lots and lots of open categories available. I hope to hear from some of you.

In the meantime, though, if you'd support those businesses who are currently marketing with us, and even those who no longer do but once did, that would be great! Anyone who has ever aligned with us is a friend...forever. Maybe you need new thermal windows or a door for your home. Check in with my buddy Kevin Carmen at American Design and Build up in Bel Air. They were original advertisers with #DMD way back "in the old days" and I'd love for you to support them...even now.

But by all means, supporting our current list of corporate partners goes a long way in helping #DMD grow and get better. The more you do that, the more improvements we can make!

Someone said to me last week, "Close your eyes and tell me what you want #DMD to be in five years."

I sat there for a minute and really thought about that scenario.

Five years from now, I'd love to have an Orioles "beat writer" who covers all the games, home and away. I'd love to have a Ravens beat writer who covers all the games, home and away.

We've been very fortunate this year to be "credentialed" by Maryland basketball and Dale Williams can cover any game, home or away, and report on it here at #DMD. That's a start!

What I also really want is more interaction from readers.

Other than the occasional flare-up where I have to come in and get folks back on track, the contributions of our commenters, 95% of the time, are intelligent and well reasoned.

And to think, some sports radio stations in town don't field phone calls because they don't think the listeners are bright enough to add something of substance to the program! It's the exact opposite, in my opinion.

To wit, I was so impressed with David Rosenfeld's thoughts as a commenting "contributor" that I sought him out and offered him a writing position at #DMD.

I'm proud of the discourse you all bring to the table. You've helped make #DMD something special, in my opinion.

Thank you again, for being with us today, yesterday, last month, and last year, even.

And thanks for those 5 million visits. Here's to 5 million more!

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the juice: alabama is a winner, lavar ball is a loser


If you stayed up past midnight last night to see the end of Alabama-Georgia in the national title game, you saw it all.

The kicker missed a chip shot at the end of regulation to win the game for the Crimson Tide.

Georgia's kicker then hit a 51-yarder on the Bulldogs' first possession of OT to give them the lead, 23-20.

You knew what was coming next, right? Alabama's kicker would get a chance to tie it and miss a third kick and be the goat. Right?

Wrong.

Alabama's second play of overtime resulted in a 42-yard touchdown pass and Nick Saban is a national champion once again.

But the best moment of the night was saved for the post-game interview sessions. What happened? I talk about it in today's edition of The Juice, which you can find in the upper right corner of #DMD.

I also take a well-deserved cheap shot at clown shoes hoops-dad LaVar Ball in today's edition of The Juice in a segment from my old radio days called "Cheap Shots from the Bleachers".

If you haven't tuned into The Juice yet, today might be a good day to do so!


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since the sting is going away (maybe?)


I probably wouldn't have laughed at this a week ago. On Tuesday, January 2nd, the cut from the Ravens loss to the Bengals was still bleeding.

But a week later, the wound is starting to heal.

And now, what you'll see below is pretty freakin' funny.

You might have seen it making the rounds on Twitter over the weekend. The internet is filled with crazy people with lots of creative time on their hands.

If you don't find it funny, I apologize. But I admit I've probably watched it 20 times since I first saw it and it cracks me up every time.

Unfortunately, we couldn't transfer the audio to the video...and the audio does make it even more funny. But the video is what really matters, anyway.




#DMD HD-TV



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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



is it marty? or flacco?


Seasons that end the way the Ravens' 2017 campaign did rarely produce warm and fuzzy feelings from fans. A 9-7 record that featured two home losses to sub-.500 teams produces no shortage of opportunities for finger pointing, from the players to the coaching staff and into the front office.

And no one has drawn as much ire from the fans and media as offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Not that that's in any way surprising: Complaints about the offensive coordinator have become a never ending fact of life in Baltimore.

Going back through the entire John Harbaugh era, the only times there hasn't been widespread demands for the offensive coordinator to be fired have been when Gary Kubiak was here in 2014 and when Jim Caldwell was essentially the interim coordinator after Cam Cameron was fired in December 2012.

John Harbaugh said last week Marty Mornhinweg will be back in 2018 as the Ravens offensive coordinator. Good thing? Or bad thing?

I'm a bit loathe to actually count the latter, though, since the calls to fire Caldwell started up someone around Week 3 of the very next season.

So yes, we're all used to the dog and pony show of pinning the latest offensive failure on the offensive coordinator and calling for heads to roll, and Mornhinweg has been playing that role since before he even had the "interim" tag pulled from his title. And that's not surprising given that Mornhinweg is best known for a disastrous tenure as Detroit's head coach. At that job, you might remember, he was the only person on the planet who thought kicking off in overtime was a good idea, and his tenure running a perennial top-12 offense in Philadelphia after that has been completely forgotten about.

Mornhinweg is the epitome of bland, forgettable, and uninspiring from the outside looking in.

But here's the thing: If every coordinator fails here (and we'll leave Kubiak out here for the sake of argument since he was one-and-done), at what point do you concede that maybe the coordinator isn't the problem after all?

Honestly, if you look at what went wrong for the Ravens' offense this season, what is replacing Mornhinweg actually going to fix, in and of itself?

The first 11 games of the season were above all else about the play of Joe Flacco.

When Flacco was terrible the Raves tended to lose, when he was okay they won some games.

But then after dreadful performances in wins over Green Bay and Houston, something flipped Flacco's switch and the offense was pretty darn good over the last 5 games of the season.

Maybe I'm being generous about the finale against the Bengals but, again, when you consider that awful first half, what exactly are you blaming coaching for? It's not Mornhinweg's fault that open receivers were dropping balls left and right.

You also have to consider that the Ravens have had the same offensive coordinator in camp for back to back seasons just once since 2011, and while it's not terribly exciting when that's one of the better arguments you can make for a coach, that level of turnover really is incredibly hard on an offense, and at some point you do need to find some continuity somewhere.

The simple truth is that the Ravens' list of offensive needs has a lot of items above "new offensive coordinator."

First and foremost they need better and more consistent play from Joe Flacco, and I hope someone knows what the difference was before and after that Houston game for Flacco. It's easy to say "he was hurt," but let's not forget that Houston outing was the game in which he was more-or-less called out by the coaching staff on national television.

Did those comments light a spark in Flacco and, if so, how do they get that sort of fire out of him for an entire season?

They also need to figure out how to get some legitimate threats at the wide receiver position before next season as well, or they can expect to struggle again.

How much of the Ravens offensive issues are more about the quarterback than the offensive coordinator?

Even Mornhinweg's much maligned red zone play calling stems in large part from this deficiency: Since he doesn't have any legitimate threats on the outside to throw the ball to at the goal line, the Ravens have to get creative with misdirection to try to create space and lanes, and when that doesn't work it often ends up looking really, really, bad.

Now sure, Marty could listen to the loudmouth behind me who would call nothing but halfback dives anytime an offense gets inside the five yard line, but if you pay attention to games around the NFL it doesn't take long to see that the success rate of those kind of plays is about 50-50 in short yardage scenarios.

And you know what else? The importance of offensive coordinators is pretty drastically overstated anyway, and all else being equal there's not that much difference between the good ones, the mediocre ones, and the below average ones.

Give a coordinator good players and it's virtually impossible to screw things up. Give them bad players and you're just not going to find enough smoke and mirrors to turn lead into gold week after week.

Look at Josh McDaniels in New England, who looks like a genius when he's working with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick but led one of the absolute worst offenses in modern NFL history in St. Louis in his one offensive coordinating job outside of New England.

Even playcalling makes only a marginal difference once you factor in execution.

Just about any play can work well if the offensive players beat their defensive counterparts, and any good playcall can be ruined by a boneheaded mistake from any one of 11 men. Don't forget, the supposed "worst playcall of all-time" ended with a tight end standing wide open for a gimme touchdown and is only remembered as a monumental mistake instead of an aggressive game-sealing call because the quarterback threw into triple coverage instead.

So long story short, you probably shouldn't care that much about Marty Mornhinweg coming back to the Ravens next season.

Or, at least, there are a bunch of things you should spend your time worrying about before that.

And in the "worst" case scenario where the Ravens take care of all of those things but really do end up being held back solely by their offensive coordinator next season, it'll be far easier to replace him with Greg Roman sometime during the season than it will be to find the 3 or 4 new wide receivers and tight ends they need, or to get Joe Flacco playing like a franchise quarterback week in week out.

Monday
January 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 8
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


fact and opinion could beat the bills


FACT: The Rams had a storybook season out in L.A. They smashed a bunch of offensive team records and had one of the game's most productive players in Todd Gurley and a massively impressive regular season from second year quarterback Jared Goff. But it all came to a halt on Saturday when they lost to the Falcons in the playoffs, 26-13.

OPINION: Lots of folks are high on Goff and fellow 2016 first round pick Carson Wentz of the Eagles, who is finished for the season after suffering a torn ACL in December. But there's a big difference between being an up-and-coming quarterback who has terrific regular season stats and being a quarterback who wins playoff games. I think Goff and Wentz are both going to be excellent pro quarterbacks, but let's tone down all the talk about how great they are until they're victorious in a playoff game or two.

FACT: Rick Carlisle, the coach of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, blasted ESPN on Sunday after they publicized comments from clown-shoes-hoops-dad LaVar Ball, who suggested the Lakers had "quit playing" for their coach, Luke Walton.

OPINION: Carlisle is officially my new favorite coach. He's right, of course. ESPN should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to give air time and importance to the voice and opinions of Ball, whose son, Lonzo, plays for the Lakers. Why is Ball (the father) provided with that sort of access to ESPN? Other fathers of prominent NBA players aren't on speed dial with ESPN. Why is Ball? Because he's a loudmouth? Maybe. But ESPN should be better than that. At least that's what Carlisle said when he ripped into them on Sunday. And it's hard to disagree with him.

FACT: Dustin Johnson played a 443-yard hole in two shots on Sunday in the final round of the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. How did he do it? He drove the green with his tee shot and the ball stopped three inches short of the hole. He made the putt, of course, for an eagle two on his way to the win in the tournament. Yes, you read that right. He drove the ball on the green from the tee box on a 433-yard hole. OK, it was downhill and a tad downwind. But still...

OPINION: When his putter is obedient, there's no one in the game today who can overpower a golf course for four days like Johnson can. He might be the best driver of the golf ball since Greg Norman. With his wedge game much improved over the last two years, the only thing holding him back is consistency with the flat stick. When Johnson's putter is hot, he's the best player in the world.

Alex Ovechkin has 27 goals on the season. 5 of them are game-winners and those of those are in overtime. But can he produce like that in the playoffs? That's always the question.

FACT: The Capitals earned yet another overtime win on Sunday, this time getting a goal in the extra session from Nicklas Backstrom to beat the St. Louis Blues, 4-3.

OPINION: The Caps are in the midst of their annual January run where they go on a nice 12-game tear and take the lead in the Metropolitan Division en-route to another division title. We've all seen this movie before, of course. So, no one's buying that this year might be different. It won't be. They'll figure out a way to crap away a playoff series they have no business losing and June will come around and Ovechkin and his teammates will be playing golf while two other teams battle it out for the Stanley Cup title.

FACT: New England will host Tennessee next Saturday night and the Steelers will host Jacksonville next Sunday afternoon. The winners will meet in the AFC title game.

OPINION: The Titans stand little chance against the Patriots. I saw the spread was something like New England minus 14.5 points. That sounds about right. Tennessee will be lucky to score 17 and very fortunate to hold New England under 30. As for the other game, I think Jacksonville has a chance to throw a scare into Pittsburgh but if the Jaguars offense is as lousy next Sunday as it was in yesterday's win over Buffalo, Blake Bortles and Company will get blasted. But Jacksonville's defense is legit. If they can somehow keep Pittsburgh under 20 points, they have a puncher's chance of beating them. But holding the Three B's to under 20 points is a tall, tall task.

FACT: The Towson Tigers improved to 2-2 in the CAA with a big win over College of Charleston yesterday at SECU Arena. It turned out to be a very successful weekend for Pat Skerry's team. They also beat 2-time-defending conference champion UNC-Wilmington on Friday night.

OPINION: Towson has a very solid team. The CAA is tough at the top this year. Both Charleston and Wilmington are good, so, too, is Elon and Hofstra -- who visits Towson on Thursday night -- is decent as well. The Tigers are an athletic team with good rebounding skills. They're not the best shooting team you'll ever see, but they work hard defensively and can wear teams down physically. They could make some noise in the conference tournament.

FACT: Kansas City led 21-3 at the half on Saturday afternoon and then Tennessee stormed back to win, 22-21.

OPINION: It was tough to watch that game and not wonder if the Ravens could have gone to Kansas City and come out of there with a win like the Titans did. Oddly enough, the game played out for Tennessee like it might have for the Ravens. The Titans were out of sync and lethargic in the first half, much like we've seen from the Ravens at times over the last two years. Then, in the second half, Tennessee came alive and the Chiefs melted. It was a Ravens-type performance for sure. Terrible one half, outstanding in the other half. My guess is the Ravens would have gone out their and lost because they just weren't all that good. But you do wonder...

FACT: The Vikings will host New Orleans next Saturday and Philadelphia hosts Atlanta on Sunday.

OPINION Both road teams will get plenty of Vegas action since they each have legit quarterbacks and a post-season pedigree of sorts. The Vikings have Case Keenum at quarterback and the Eagles have Nick Foles. At least one of those two isn't winning next Sunday. I'm guessing Atlanta goes to Philly and takes them out.

FACT: Tony Romo is in his first year as the lead color analyst on CBS broadcasts, with the great Jim Nantz serving as the play-by-play voice. Romo has drawn national praise for his excellent work this season.

OPINION: There was a play late in the Buffalo-Jacksonville game where a Buffalo player caught a pass on the sidelines and you clearly heard a voice from the Jags bench scream, "He stepped out of bounds!". Romo then quickly inserted, "That might not be a catch there, Jim. I think I saw the Buffalo player step out of bounds." If you weren't paying attention to the broadcast, you might have thought Romo was a savant. How on earth did he see that guy step out of bounds by an inch or two from all the way up there in the booth? He didn't, of course. He heard the same thing we heard in his head set -- "He stepped out of bounds!" and quickly used that information to his benefit. Good for him, by the way. I was just pointing out that Romo isn't that good. Not yet, anyway (but he is an outstanding color guy, I'll admit that).

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday and Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


Editor's note: David Rosenfeld first joined #DMD in the spring of 2017, originally authoring a once-a-week Thursday contribution. We're excited to announce that David will now be providing sports writing excellence for us twice a week in 2018. You'll read his work on Monday and Thursday, beginning today.

You can’t get the whole story without asking the 5 Ws:

Who? – What? – When? – Where? – Why?

Each week we’ll answer those questions here at #DMD.


Who?

justin jackson

Justin Jackson wasn’t particularly good for Maryland basketball this year. He couldn’t make anything, and he spent too much time hanging out on the perimeter instead of playing aggressively.

Turns out he had a torn labrum in his right shoulder, a pretty painful injury. So that might explain all the missed shots, or the unwillingness to mix it up inside, or both.

Anyway, as mediocre as he was, you don’t realize how much you miss a guy like that until he’s gone.

Anthony Cowan is an excellent college basketball player, Kevin Huerter is a pro somewhere and Bruno Fernando is really skilled for a freshman. Justin Jackson is, or maybe was, a legitimate lottery pick, no matter how many points or rebounds he was averaging.

Nobody is irreplaceable, but the amount of skill and athleticism on the court at any given time for Maryland goes down a bunch when he’s not out there.

Who?


#DMD HD-TV


What?

that pitch play

The Ravens have run a variation of that pitch play so many times on fourth-and-short (and even third-and-short) that the Bengals knew it was coming. If you watch the replay, you see three or four Cincinnati defenders starting to cheat to their right (the offense’s left) immediately.

I suppose it’s possible the Bengals could have guessed the play, but had the wrong direction. Joe Flacco takes the snap and turns to his right for the fake to Buck Allen, then flips to Alex Collins headed toward the weak side.

In which case, Collins would have ended up in the same place he did on the play that actually happened. What a play. The play of the year, really.

When you watch the Ravens run that play, you realize how good of an athlete Flacco is. He makes the backhanded pitch look simple. I think the boys might need to retire it for a little while though until other teams forget about it.

When?

february 14

Sure, it’s Valentine’s Day. By the way, Valentine’s Day didn’t become associated with romantic love until sometime in the 14th century. Before that, it was just a Christian feast day. Those guys in 1284 were really lucky, weren’t they?

Otherwise, February 14 is the day of the first Orioles spring training workout down in Sarasota. Pitchers and catchers report the day before; the first full team workout is February 19.

I’m not telling you this because you should be excited about the 2018 season, or to remind you where the team plays in Spring Training in case you want to catch a game in a neat little stadium for a low price.

Just reminding you that eventually there will be a day that’s nice enough to play and/or watch baseball.

I came back from a trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida myself on December 28; in the 11 days since, the average temperature in Baltimore has been 15 degrees. Fahrenheit. I’m sure you’ve noticed . . . .


Where?

tobacco road

Was watching Maryland play in a loud atmosphere at No. 1 Michigan State the other night when I thought back to the loudest college arena at which I’ve attended a game.

Nope, not Cameron Indoor Stadium. Not the Palestra. Not Cole Field House. It was Reynolds Coliseum, on the N.C. State campus.

They used to build arenas that not only were relatively confined, but had low, flat ceilings that simply rebounded noise right back to where it came from. Reynolds was like that. The Wolfpack women’s team still plays home games there, though it’s been heavily modernized and renovated. Kind of a shame.

The game I saw was in January 1992. Both Maryland and N.C. State stunk that year, but it sounded like a Duke-UNC game where both were undefeated and playing for the national title. Bonus points if you can tell me the long-time NBA player who was a senior for the Wolfpack that year.

Where?


#DMD HD-TV


Why?

jon gruden

My favorite thing about Jon Gruden doesn’t have anything to do with him; it’s Frank Caliendo’s imitation. I tell ya what, man . . . .

Here’s the thing about that, in all seriousness. In the last 10 years, Gruden hasn’t just become a broadcaster, he’s become kind of a caricature. And now the Raiders have asked him back, to the tune of $10 million per year?

I don’t get it.

They were the ones that “traded” him to the Bucs, after all, all those years ago. He won the Super Bowl in Tampa, but his record there in seven seasons was a pedestrian 57-55.

He last coached in 2008, back when defensive players were actually allowed to hit offensive players. Which might as well be 1988. Here’s a case that begs for a good use of the Rooney Rule instead.

Why?


#DMD HD-TV

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

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


terps get back on track


Maryland followed the script and defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, 91-73, last night in front of a spirited Xfinity Center crowd void of students (semester break) but not lacking in energy.

Bruno Fernando had a big game with 21 points and 7 rebounds as the Terps had six players reach double digits in points, including reserve Dion Wiley.

Going into the game, one had to assume that Maryland would attack the basket and provide opportunities underneath for Fernando. They accomplished both and the result was the Terp’s most productive outing of the 2017-2018 Big Ten season.

Despite putting up 91, it looked early on like Maryland would be locked in another down-to-the-wire battle similar to the Penn State game. The two teams combined to score 92 points in the first half.

Maryland held a slim 4-point advantage at the break, 48–44, as the Hawkeyes drained threes from everywhere, and thus avoided a sizable deficit. Iowa’s Isaiah Moss did most of the damage by knocking down 3 of his 4 long range attempts en-route to a 15-point half.

Maryland freshman Bruno Fernando had a big night against Iowa on Sunday, pouring in 21 points and delighting the crowd with several spectacular dunks.

Iowa point guard, Jordan Bohannon hit 3 of his five shots from behind the arc, while Nicholas Baer made his only try.

For the half, Iowa shot 70% from long range, and hit 55% from the floor overall. Meanwhile, Maryland was hitting 57% from the floor and was 3 for 8 from behind the three point line. Maryland enjoyed an 8-point advantage from the foul line.

The Terps, in the first half, got tremendous production from the interior players. Michal Cekovsky was 5 for 5 while adding 3 points from the foul line, while Fernando was 4 of 6 from the floor and the line. All of that interior scoring was needed because the Hawkeyes came out red hot and the Terp defense was, well, defenseless.

Shortly after the first media timeout, Iowa held a 10-point advantage at 17-7. At the second media timeout, the lead had been trimmed to 4 (24-20) with Iowa holding a massive 8-1 advantage on the glass.

Much of that can be attributed to the fact that Maryland had few defensive rebound opportunities because the Hawkeyes just were not missing shots. Seven straight points by Ceko gave the Terps a 27-24 lead with 10:39 remaining. He made some nice one-on-one moves and also was the recipient of a couple nifty assists.

Maryland got their lead up to seven with 4:22 left, but the advantage was only three when drama filled the arena. While protesting a questionable turnover by Bohannon, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was a bit too demonstrative and received a technical foul. His protesting continued a bit much for this officiating crew, and the Iowa coach was hit with his second technical foul, and with that comes the automatic escort to the locker room.

The fans game him the traditional “left-right-left-right….” chant that is usually reserved for the footsteps of players who have fouled out. But I guess it applies to any opponent that can no longer participate in the game.

The end result was 4 foul shots for Maryland, of which Anthony Cowan hit 3. Ceko missed two foul shots a short time later, and the scoring for the half ended with Bohannon hitting two from the line after being fouled by Jared Nickens.

The stat sheet for the first half would show that the Terps had managed to cut the rebounding deficit to just 4, and they would hold an 8-point advantage at the line. The Terps forced 8 Hawkeye turnovers while committing only 4 themselves. The half ended with Maryland leading 48-44.

Iowa’s Luca Garza hit a lay-up only seconds into the second half. That was matched by a thunderous dunk by Fernando. Moss continued his torrid shooting night by connecting for 8 straight Iowa points, giving them 54 50 lead with 16:46 left.

Cowan then made a short jumper (his first bucket of the night) before Kevin Huerter hit a big three that put a charge back into the crowd. The Terps led by 1, 55-54, at the first media timeout of the second half.

A three by Bohannon regained the lead for Iowa at 64-61, but it was all Maryland after that.

Fernando got things rolling when he hammered home a slick reverse dunk where he went under the hoop from the right side to slam it on the left. Maryland then started driving relentlessly, and successfully, to the basket, finishing off Iowa with a 30-9 run.

The run made the final score 91-73. It was punctuated by several driving dunks by Darryl Morsell, but the highlight reel was reserved for Fernando.

With about 2:40 left and the Terps with the ball up by 11, (84-73) they began a play that started with Fernando coming out to set a high screen for Cowan in the middle of the court above the three-point line.

Cowan dribbled to his right while Bruno dropped down to the low left side to set another screen, this time for Huerter. Both defenders from the high screen stayed with Cowan so when Fernando turned from setting his screen for Huerter there was no one there.

Cowan recognized, and sent an “alley oop” to Fernando that was a bit high and partially behind the Terp big man as he came crashing from the left. He soared more than a foot above the rim and made a one-handed catch, and in a single motion slammed it home while getting fouled. He was as high, if not higher, then Grant Hill was when he made that spectacular dunk for Duke in their 1991 championship game against Kansas.

It could be a long time before we see another dunk like that in the Xfinity Center.

Unfortunately, will plays like that eventually hurt the Terps? Is it possible that the loss of Justin Jackson could do Maryland more harm next year than it does this year? Will the extra playing time allotted to Fernando just increase his visibility to the pro scouts, who must be drooling after tonight’s game, and make it impossible for Fernando to say “NO” to next season’s NBA draft?

For the sake of all Terp hoop fans, I hope not, but it certainly would not be surprising. He’s way better than Diamond Stone, but let’s see what the rest of the year has to offer. He didn’t appear so draft-able while bashing heads with the Michigan State bodies last Thursday night.

I thought Maryland, and Turgeon, executed their game plan to a “T” on Sunday night. I know they had worked on their zone offense and the practice paid off. They were able to get the ball to Morsell at the high post and work from there to beat the zone.

Defensively, they did some stellar work in the second half, particularly in the last 11 minutes where they held Iowa to just the nine points. They slashed hard to the bucket on offense and only committed a respectable 9 turnovers. That not bad for a game that had the pace that this one did. Iowa committed 17 turnovers.

Anthony Cowan provided a second half lift with his effort on both sides of the court as did Morsell. The freshman Morsell led Maryland in rebounds with 8 and did some great work on Iowa’s leader, Tyler Cook. Cook got off to quick start but settled for just 7 first half points before being shut out in the second half.

I had sensed, early in the second half that he had kind of mentally checked out. He was scoreless for the half, hadn’t grabbed even one rebound, and missed both of his foul shot attempts. He was called for his forth foul with 6:15 left, and promptly got into a bit of a shoving match with Fernando.

Each player drew a technical foul for their extracurricular activities, but for Cook, the tech (which counts as a personal foul also) was his fifth foul. The home fans were happy to give him the “left-right-left-right-left” treatment. Any hopes that Iowa had of erasing the 10-point deficit with 6 minutes remaining went right out of the door with Cook’s early exist.

This was a game that Maryland should have won, and they did.

They used their athleticism to take advantage of Hawkeye weaknesses and picked up their defensive intensity when it counted. They overcame a poor shooting performance from the three-point line (4-17) to beat a team that shot it very well from long range (52%). That percentage was 71% until Iowa missed 6 of their last 7 three-point attempts.

The Terps will need to continue that type of output this Thursday night when they travel to Columbus Ohio to take on the Ohio State team that dismantled Michigan State last night, 80-64. Both the Terps and the Buckeyes have off until then.

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, we only have two (2) seats remaining on our Masters trip. If you're interested in going with our group of 24 to see the Monday, April 2nd practice round at Augusta National, please contact me today via email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Sunday
January 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 7
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meanwhile, about the orioles...


I'm giving the Ravens a day off here at #DMD.

But I'll be back tomorrow with a piece on what I think the organization needs to do to start reconnecting with the fan base in town.

Today, let's look at our beloved baseball team.

Here's the good news.

You know that pain and misery you felt last Sunday night when Tyler Boyd waltzed into the end zone and ended the Ravens season?

I don't see any way you'll feel that same sort of disappointment next September 30 when they close the season getting swept at home in four games by the defending World Series Champion Astros.

That's a weird way of saying "Here's the good news" but it is what it is.

The Orioles are six weeks away from gathering pitchers and catchers in Sarasota and they currently have two starting pitchers on their roster (who know what they're doing). I talked about that very subject last week on "The Juice". Gausman and Bundy -- and nothing else, really.

Seems crazy, right?

It would be like Springsteen getting ready to do a world wide tour and needing to fill spots in the band because Lofgren, Van Zant and Weinberg all retired and, five weeks before the first show, he still doesn't have two guitar players and a drummer to play "Badlands" on opening night.

You thought Ubaldo Jimenez's Orioles career was over, didn't you? Maybe not...

Oh, and the Orioles have other issues, too. We'll get to those in a minute.

But this pitching thing is hilarious. In as much as you want to consider Gausman and Bundy "quality", the Orioles have two quality starters right now. On January 7.

I think we can all close our eyes and see what happens from here, right?

They'll give Miguel Castro a chance to start in spring training, citing his "live arm" and plus-fastball as the main reasons when, of course, we all know the real reason they're doing it is because they don't have any other pitchers.

Gabriel Ynoa will get a handful of starts in spring straining. And why not? He's had two or three decent outings previously in his big league career.

We're up to four pitchers now, two of which we know can pitch and two of which we know probably can't. But that's OK. You need five, so we're almost there.

If Chris Tillman re-signs, that would be a help. We know he can pitch. How well? That's up in the air. But he's a far better "experiment" than Castro or Ynoa.

But what if Tillman doesn't rejoin the O's?

The search continues...

Oh, and they have this other issue brewing in Baltimore. You might have heard about it.

They tried to trade the third baseman in December and failed to do so.

OK, perhaps "tried to trade" isn't accurate. How's this: They listened to trade offers for their third baseman in December and couldn't make a deal with anyone.

Manny Machado already threw out a stink bomb late in the 2017 season when he told Buck Showalter he'd like to play shortstop in 2018. That's after, of course, the club acquired a new shortstop, Tim Beckham, in late July.

The Orioles, we assume, would be reluctant to do that. Their infield is set nicely at this point. Davis is a very good defensive player at first base, Schoop is reliable if not very good at second base, Beckham is adequate but athletic at short and Machado, of course, is all world at his spot.

The Orioles don't have much going for them in 2018, but infield defense is actually a plus.

Moving Machado to shortstop would throw the whole thing into a frenzy. Schoop goes to third, Beckman moves to short and Manny gets his way. I'm not sure that's the best option for the O's.

This is why trading Machado last July would have made the most sense. But, that's like saying, "This is why you don't give Joe Flacco $120 million after winning the Super Bowl." What's done is done.

Trading Machado in December also would have helped, perhaps with the lack of pitching if nothing else, but that appears to not be happening at this point, either.

So, here we are in early January. The Orioles have two starting pitchers. Their third baseman -- already predisposed to being a mercurial, half-a-jerk when things don't go his way -- wants to move to shortstop, but only for one season, since he'll be playing in New York in 2019.

We have a couple of catchers who can probably do the job, but we're not going to mistake either of them for Johnny Bench.

Oh, and the closer can't pitch until probably the All-Star break or thereabouts because of an injury.

Other than that, things are looking up.

I told my buddy Dale Williams on Friday when we were at Towson watching college hoops that it's my guess the Orioles will re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez for one year. He nearly fell off the seat in laughter.

I just went to Google to make sure Jimenez is still a free agent. He is.

Do not be at all surprised if he's in Sarasota in late February, having signed a one-year deal for $8 million or something like that.

Stop laughing. You know it's very possible.

The defenders of the team will ask, of course, "What pitchers did you want them to sign?". Any of them. Someone. Spend some money and get an arm or two to help Gausman and Bundy.

I'd love to have a bottle of Silver Oak with Buck Showalter and get his real thoughts on this mess. Here we are at the second week of January and the Orioles have two starting pitchers.

Hilarious, right?

But, you can rest easy that there won't be any late season heartbreak for the Orioles in 2018.

There's the silver lining you're looking for, I suppose.

And you know what? It might be better that way. I'm still not over the Tyler Boyd thing yet.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

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


Iowa head basketball coach, Fran McCaffery has enjoyed recent success with players like Peter Jok, Mike Gessell, Jared Uthoff, and Aaron White.

His current crop features Tyler Cook, a 6’9” 255 lbs forward who may turn out to better than any of the afore mentioned former Hawkeyes. He’s really good, but the problem is the rest of his team isn’t.

Iowa (9-8, 0-4) will take on the Maryland Terrapins in the XFINITY Center at 8Pm tonight. It’s a game that the Terps must have if they have realistic hopes of making the NCAA Tournament in March.

Yes, the season is still very young, but you can’t add a loss to Iowa to a resume that so far is void of marquee wins. Butler’s win against Villanova helps Maryland’s RPI, but Michigan State (home) and Purdue (away) might be the only opportunities left for the Terps to gain a signature win.

Maryland could use a big night tonight from Kevin Huerter, who ignited their second half rally past Penn State last week in College Park with 16 points.

You possibly could throw Minnesota into the mix as well, but it looks like Maryland will need volume to make the big dance. Because of that, this game is important.

You don’t have to watch Iowa very long to recognize their collective defensive struggles. Their skill level might get them points on the offensive side, but the overall lack of athleticism makes defending real difficult.

Iowa will start three big men and two guards. In their most recent contest, a home loss to Ohio State, McCaffery elected to go with junior Nicholas Baer (6’7” 210), freshman Luka Garza (6’’11” 235), and Cook as his big men. Jordan Bohannan and Isaiah Moss form the Hawkeye backcourt. Baer and Garza have their moments on the offensive end, but neither one has proven to be formidable defensively.

The match-ups remain to be seen but I would expect the quicker Terps to attach the basket at every opportunity. Because they should be quicker at almost every position, they should go to the rim relentlessly.

Expect McCaffery to counter Terp speed advantages by playing zone defenses for extended stretches. Even in a zone, their lack of quickness often leads to wide open shots for their opponents. It’s easy to see why they are last in the Big Ten in points allowed (74.1).

I also wasn’t impressed with the overall defensive intensity of this Iowa team, and that included the athletic Cook.

When on offense, Iowa has a few guys that can score, but only Cook is scary one on one. They will run a bunch of isolation plays for him, and he’s very effective with short range shots.

Bohannon connects on 43% of his three-point attempts, but requires space to get his shot off. Garza hits 57% from the floor, but the freshman should struggle mightily against Maryland’s Cekovsky or Bruno Fernando. The Hawkeyes turn the ball over at a rate only surpassed by Maryland in the Big Ten.

This is a game where Bruno Fernando establishes himself as a “go to” guy on the low blocks.

I expect Maryland to work inside out (something they couldn’t do against Michigan State) frequently.

Fernando’s touches, and production, will increase dramatically in tonight’s game. Kevin Huerter should also have big game, as will Anthony Cowan. Iowa isn’t a bad offensive rebounding team, but if Maryland decides to run off the miss shot, their fast break points should get a shot in the arm.

Maryland doesn’t need to make major adjustments in order to improve to 3-2 in the conference. They should double down on Cook whenever he puts the ball on the floor. They should work inside out far more often then they have in previous games, and should look to attack the basket whenever possible.

Iowa will fight on offense, knock down some shots, and corral just enough offensive boards to keep this game from being a blow-out.

In the end, their inability to defend with fervor will be their undoing. Maryland will build a comfortable lead by halftime and not be seriously challenged in the second half.

Bruno Fernando will reach the 20-point mark for the first time in his young Terp career, the bench adds close to 20 points, and Maryland cruises to an 84-69 victory.

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show me the money, playoff style


Our Super Expert Insider got off to a slow start yesterday when both home teams failed to cover.

But there's always another day, right?

Let's look at today's pair of games and get his expert opinions on them.


BILLS AT JAGUARS (-8.0) -- The big question for this game is will LeSean McCoy play and if so, how effective will he be? Buffalo seems to stay in games when McCoy plays. Either way, this will be a game played close to the vest by two teams not accustomed to playing in January.

Both teams will try to grind it out on the ground unless the score warrants otherwise. Jacksonville will run Fournette all day, and Buffalo will do whatever they can to keep Tyrod Taylor from throwing the ball. Buffalo's pass offense was ranked 31st this year while Jacksonville had the top ranked defensive unit in the game. What it all means is, on paper, Jacksonville should run away with this game.

But the game is played on the field, not on paper. Expect a low scoring game, a Jaguars victory and a Buffalo squad that struggles to score even once, as Jacksonville covers and wins, 20-3.


PANTHERS AT SAINTS (-6.5) -- Carolina had two shots at the Saints this year and lost both times. In game one, statistically, they matched New Orleans and might have fared better if not for three Newton interceptions that helped New Orleans roll up 34 points. In the rematch, the Panthers turned it over on downs twice and again gave up over 30 points.

So, why will this game be any different? Because it's the playoffs, and that can have strange effects on teams. The public likes the over in this game. That means look for an under, and I like the 7 points in this low scoring game. We'll take New Orleans to win, but the Panthers keep it close and fall to the Saints, 20-17.

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, we only have two (2) seats remaining on our Masters trip. If you're interested in going with our group of 24 to see the Monday, April 2nd practice round at Augusta National, please contact me today via email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Saturday
January 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 6
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


where's steve?


We're hearing now that the annual January "State of the Ravens" press conference will be held in a couple of weeks in Owings Mills.

No exact date has been published yet, but it's apparently going to happen.

This, in case you don't know, is the occasion when Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, Dick Cass and John Harbaugh all sit in front of the media and field questions for the better part of one hour.

Bisciotti, because he rarely talks to the press in-season, is always the star of the show. 70% of the questions are aimed at him, typically.

Ozzie starts looking at his watch about 15 minutes into the proceedings. It's not hyperbole to stress how much Newsome loathes press conference settings where he's forced to speak. He'd rather call Mike Tomlin and congratulate him on a great season.

Cass is merely up there as a formality, a nod to his role as team president more than anything else. Cass is an extremely knowledgeable executive, but his area of expertise rarely crosses over to the point where a worthy question or two can be thrown his way.

They've been joined at the hip, or at least at midfield a lot before games, since 2008. Is Steve Bisciotti's loyalty to John Harbaugh and other staff members too much of a good thing?

And with Harbaugh just facing the media this past Thursday, there's probably a good chance John won't have much to say or do when the "State of the Ravens" presser comes along.

Bisciotti will be in the spotlight, obviously.

To me, the very first question should be this: "Where have you been, Steve?"

I remarked yesterday during my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio that Bisciotti looks to me like an owner who is losing interest in the minutiae of the franchise he owns.

How else can you explain the Ravens missing the playoffs for the third straight season and the organization apparently finding it suitable to return all of the football team's coaching staff, sans Dean Pees, who left on his own accord?

Bisciotti has long been known as someone who lets his football people make football decisions, and there's certainly something to be said for that. But he stood up in front of the media last January and and effectively put everyone on watch for the 2017 campaign. He didn't say "playoffs or bust", admittedly. But he came awfully close to doing so.

Sources within the organization have been fairly liberal with this insider-knowledge over the last few years. The Ray Rice saga greatly impacted Bisciotti on a number of levels. He felt let down by Rice, he felt the media unfairly bashed the organization, and he, personally, felt the wrath he received was over the top.

If, in fact, Bisciotti has lost some degree of interest in the day-to-day details of the organization, it started with the Ray Rice situation.

He was also apparently frustrated with the fact that Tom Brady got to play the entire 2015 season while the league pussy-footed around and got entangled in a year-long court battle over the Deflategate case.

Oh, and he's another year older and those houses he owns in Florida and the Bahamas look awfully appealing when it's 15 degrees in Baltimore.

It will be interesting to hear what Bisciotti says when he gets his turn to speak, soon.

He won't want to talk about the kneeling incident in London, but he'll be asked questions about it, for sure.

He won't want to speak about John Harbaugh's continued employment, but those questions are coming.

He won't want to speak about the empty seats in his stadium, but we'd like to hear his opinion on that subject.

But the interesting part of the whole thing will be learning how much of this really, really keeps Bisciotti up at night these days.

I think the Ravens and the enterprise he built greatly motivated him circa 2008 and even into 2010 and 2012.

Perhaps winning the Super Bowl was what pacified him and, if that's the case, I'd say that's reasonable.

It feels to me -- and hey, I could be VERY wrong here, but you get those "feelings" -- that Bisciotti just isn't that engaged anymore in the day-to-day finer points of his franchise's journey. And if that's the case, maybe that's why we're seeing more and more continuity from the Ravens and less upheaval after franchise-changing losses like the one we witnessed on Sunday night in Baltimore.

Over the last five years, the Ravens are 40-40. The Steelers are 53-27 in that span, if that matters to Bisciotti or anyone else.

This year, the Ravens were 0-5 against teams that eventually made the playoffs (Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Pittsburgh twice) and they're 4-16 in their last 20 games against teams who have made the post-season.

In both of the last two seasons, the Ravens got eliminated from the playoffs by virtue of a field-length drive from the opposition. Well, the other losses they incurred during the season helped them not make the playoffs as well, but you know what I mean.

In 2016 and 2017, the Ravens had the playoffs in their hands with less than a minute left in the game and let it slip away.

If Bisciotti likes continuity, he's getting it. Sort of.

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patriots in turmoil?


The sports world was buzzing on Friday after ESPN.com published a lengthy piece about the relationship between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. In there, details emerged about Brady's frustration with Belichick's continued "negativity" and the coach's decision to have Brady's longtime personal trainer/guru removed from the sidelines during games and, further, restricting his overall access to Patriots players while they were on team property.

It was a juicy story, for sure: The 5-time Super Bowl Champions, heretofore believed to be immune to ego and self-destruction, apparently on the verge of some sort of major collapse as the 2017 season ends and the playoffs begin.

Here's my take -- I don't believe much of it.

I understand the need for "sources" and "anonymity" and the like. I've been on that side of the fence before. I once had an Orioles employee tell me the team was going back to putting "Baltimore" on the road uniforms and I promised I'd keep their name out of the story. But I had the story.

Could the mastermind of 5 Super Bowl titles -- and counting -- spend the last few years of his coaching career somewhere other than New England? Maybe.

But this story in New England looks like something even Encyclopedia Brown could have figured out.

Brady's 40 years old. He's won 5 Super Bowl titles. If he's not the best quarterback in the history of the league, he's a half-length behind the guy who is with a quarter-mile to go in the race.

He probably doesn't like being yelled at like he's a 2nd year quarterback who keeps throwing off his back foot.

I'd say he's earned that right. But that's just me.

If Robert Kraft told Belichick to trade Jimmy Garoppolo (that's essentially what the story suggests), I can see where Belichick would be miffed at that sort of interference from the owner's office.

There's no direct quote in the story, though, about anything.

It's basically a puzzle that the writer is trying to put together. That's not to say that parts of the story probably don't ring true and have merit. Brady's a weird guy. He probably likes the comfort of having his trainer and personal back scratcher on the sidelines and on the team plane with him. Belichick sees that as a guy usurping the team's authority, perhaps. Understood.

But that hardly means the two of them are writing up divorce papers.

Maybe a 37-27 home loss to the Chiefs next week will hasten things.

Or, another Super Bowl title might bring the two even closer together for their respective sunset runs into football glory.

My guess is both guys are probably bored. I mean, how many times in a row can you win the AFC East, post the best overall record, and host the conference championship game? Doesn't that get boring at some point?

Maybe Belichick should go to the Giants and go 7-9 a couple of years just to see how the rest of the great unwashed lives.

Perhaps Brady should finish up his career out west somewhere, perhaps following Peyton Manning's footsteps and playing a season or two in Denver. Or maybe in Arizona?

Or, they might just hang out in New England for another couple of seasons and do what comes naturally up there: win.

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show me the money, playoff style



After a spectacular last seven weeks of the regular season and an overall mark of 43-38-4, "Show Me The Money" is back for a run at continuned dominance in the post-season.

These games, as our Super Insider Expert mentions below, are not for the meek of heart. All the teams are good (well, except for Buffalo) and it almost goes without saying that anyone can beat anyone on any given playoff day (well, except for Buffalo).

It's playoff time! Here we go with Saturday's picks:

TITANS AT CHIEFS (-8.5) -- Handicapping the playoffs is always a bit harder because you have limited games from which to choose, and sometimes you might not see an advantage with either side. Compare that to a 16 game schedule where you can isolate what you perceive as value, and then just leave the other games alone.

Just as important is the the fact that in the regular season you often can find motivational advantages, where in the playoffs both teams are playing at 100% (supposedly).That being said, in this game I was all set to pull the trigger on Tennessee, but several things changed my opinion.

First, I’m not a big “trends and tendencies guy”. The fact that KC hasn’t won a home playoff since “Friends” was a brand new sitcom doesn’t sway me at all. In fact, knowing that it bothers current Chief players, including Alex Smith, pushes me a bit to KC.

The Chiefs gave up the most first downs in the NFL this year, but Tennessee gave up the most via the pass. That’s not a good stat to have when you are going up against the highest rated passer in the NFL. Not only does Alex Smith have the highest QB rating, but he also has the highest yards per pass attempt and the lowest interception percentage. That last one is an important stat. 7 of the top 8 in that category made the playoffs. Nine of KC’s ten wins this year were by 8 or more points. In a high scoring game with clear skies and cold temps, we’ll go with Kansas City to win easily, and cover, beating the Titans, 37-23.


FALCONS AT RAMS (-6.5) -- Here’s a game where you get into over analyzing the point spread. At 6.5 which seems way too many points, are the odds makers pushing you to go with Atlanta, or are they balancing out the wagers knowing the public likes offensive minded favorites?

These two teams have a lot in common, but the Rams have Todd Gurley and his 1300 yards rushing. However, Matty Ice has an experience advantage over the signal call on the other side, Jared Goff, and he also has Julio Jones.

This game is a dead toss-up and one from which I’ll stay away with my own money. But, my buddy Drew needs a pick. Taking the six and a half points is tempting here, but I can’t go with a team that blew a 17 point lead, at home, in a loss to the lowly Dolphins earlier in the season. If the spread were 7, I might go the other way. A late score pushes the Rams to a victory, and they cover, barely, in a 27-20 victory over the Falcons.

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, we only have two (2) seats remaining on our Masters trip. If you're interested in going with our group of 24 to see the Monday, April 2nd practice round at Augusta National, please contact me today via email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Friday
January 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 5
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i'll defend john harbaugh and the ravens on this one


I know they're big boys and they can fight their own battles, but I'll stick up for the Ravens and John Harbaugh today.

In fact, I think this has become an annual routine for me in the days following the team's state-of-the-Ravens press conference, which might have been what we saw yesterday when Harbaugh stood at the podium and addressed the media in Owings Mills.

No one has said as much to me, but I'm guessing the organization isn't all that jazzed up about having Steve Bisciotti sit in the front of the press and field eight different questions about the players and the "kneeling incident" in London. Maybe they'll have the annual event sometime next week, but thus far I haven't heard anything about it.

So, perhaps yesterday's Harbaugh presser was the de facto "State of the Ravens" event we've seen at the conclusion of the season for roughly the last decade or so.

This is what we took from yesterday's gathering at 1 Winning Drive: Nothing.

Other than telling the media and the fans that "no changes will be made to the coaching staff", nothing of note came out of the press conference.

Harbs talked about how hard the team worked, how much he enjoyed coaching them and how disappointed they were at failing to make the playoffs.

It was, if I'm being honest, a pretty boring 40 minutes.

"We like our coaches," John Harbaugh said yesterday. "We're not making any changes in that department."

But there was one part that I found extremely interesting -- and I'll get to that in a minute.

Social media lit up afterwards with daggers and digs for Harbaugh.

"There he goes again, making excuses..."

"Same old b.s. from Harbaugh..."

"I can't believe Bisciotti doesn't see how much of a fraud this guy is..."

And so on and so on.

Now, I'll admit to having some experience in this field, on BOTH ends of the spectrum.

At one time, in the 1990's, I fielded calls from the media in town. I didn't operate in the same bright spotlight that Harbaugh does, but when I ran the soccer team, I had to answer questions from The Sun, and Channel 13, and Channel 11 and WBAL Radio.

I can remember vividly answering questions from Jeff Rimer of WBAL that were sharp, pointed, fair and somewhat invasive -- and knowing that the answer I was about to give him was as close to "all of the truth" I could give him without actually telling him the WHOLE truth.

There were times when I had to speak with the media on behalf of the organization that I simply couldn't reveal every thing I wanted to reveal because it would have hurt the club. That's just the way it goes in a public setting.

And then, from 2002 through 2014, I was the one asking the questions when I was on the air as a sports talk radio host in town.

I used to enjoy going to the season-ending press conference and asking questions of Harbaugh, Bisciotti, et al. I always found them to be as fair as they could possibly be.

So, truly, I've been there, done that and got the tee-shirt -- twice.

I'm not sure what people want Harbaugh to say.

Seriously.

Do you want him to blast his players publicly in a season-ending press conference? Call them out by name?

Really?

Is there a coach in any sport, anywhere, who does that? Anywhere? Of course not. Even a bad coach knows that's a formula for losing the locker room.

Did you want Harbaugh to beat up Dean Pees for calling a two-deep zone at the end of the Bengals game? He didn't. In fact, he went as far as to admitting that he (Harbaugh) played a role in approving that call before the season-ending TD throw from Dalton to Boyd.

I did find it puzzling that Harbaugh said yesterday, "We were in a coverage that, frankly, we don't play that well." He went on to add, "But it was the right call for that down and distance and we misplayed it a little bit and they took advantage of it and made a nice play."

There was all kinds of truth for you. Harbaugh admitting he was involved in the play call. Admitting it was a scheme they didn't play all that well (I assume because Mosley doesn't defend the pass well and Weddle has a tendency to play closer to the line of scrimmage than the playbook calls for?). And admitting the players "misplayed it".

What else can you say there?

And what else do you really expect Harbaugh to say three days after the season ends?

Do you want him to tell you he's disappointed with Jeremy Maclin and Breshad Perriman? Would you feel better if he said, "Well, yeah, those two guys really did suck this year. We know that."

What good would that do? We all know they stunk. We watch the games, too.

Do you want him to slam his fist down on the podium and promise to never let that happen again?

He could do that, but why and what for? A) He can't make that promise come true without the help of the coaches and defensive players. B) The other team tries, too.

And that leads me to the one part of yesterday's press conference that I thought Harbaugh nailed.

Paraphrasing here, he talked for 45 seconds or so about the way it goes in football. "It hurts when you lose," he said. "It's supposed to hurt. Look, we've been on the other end of those miracle plays. They're great when they happen for you. They're not so great when they happen against you. Everyone's bitterly disappointed. But the only thing you can do is come back the next day or the next season and do your best to make sure it doesn't happen to you again."

This exact thing happens all the time during the season, but in a more abstract way when it comes to the way we view our players.

When Terrell Suggs beats two players, fends off the fullback's block, and swats the ball out of Ben Roethlisberger's hand, here's what we say about that play: "Suggs is a beast! What a player! Hall of Fame, baby!!!"

When Carlos Dunlap beats two players, fends off the fullback's block, and swats the ball out of Joe Flacco's hand, here's what we say about that play: "Flacco has zero pocket presence. Ten years in the league and he still doesn't get it."

In other words -- we only see things through the lens of our team and our players and our hopes.

Ask anyone who knows football about the Mile High Miracle and they'll show you the defensive breakdown that led to the Flacco-to-Jacoby touchdown catch that helped send the Ravens to the Super Bowl.

Ask a Ravens fan and they'll laud Flacco for his "big arm" and his ability to beat Peyton Manning in his own building in the playoffs.

What really happened in Denver that night was this: Flacco threw up a hail mary, desperation pass and the Denver defender mistimed his jump and the ball sailed over his head into the waiting arms of Jacoby Jones. Try that play 50 times and there are probably 49 other results besides the one we saw that night.

"What a throw by Flacco!" is what everyone screamed at the TV set.

We see it how we want to see it.

People saw yesterday's press conference and ridiculed Harbaugh for the "same old, same old".

It was, in fact, a bit of the same old song and dance. You know why? The team missed the playoffs for the third straight year. It's not quite "Groundhog Day" in Owings Mills, but it's close.

Now, if you want to criticize Harbaugh for retaining Marty Mornhinweg next season, have at it. That's a very fair argument to make. Someone in the comments section yesterday wondered if Dean Pees would have returned had he not retired instead earlier this week?

My guess is Pees would have been back had he wanted to be back. Bringing both Mornhinweg and Pees back in 2018 would have been puzzling to me, for sure, but it's not the end of the world.

The Ravens need better football players, more than anything else.

They could bring Vince Lombardi back to coach this offensive unit and it wouldn't matter all that much. You think Lombardi could get something out of Breshad Perriman? I don't.

So, it's fair to pick at Harbaugh for his personnel decisions. That's why he gets paid the big bucks.

But the post-press-conference ridicule he takes from the fans is really out-of-place and unwarranted, if you ask me.

I understand why the Ravens do it and I applaud them for having the gumption to stand up there at the end of the season and field legitimate questions from the media. It's a shame the baseball team in town doesn't have the same integrity at season's end.

But let's also be fair and call it for what it is: A fairly benign exercise that doesn't tell anyone much of anything, other than whatever we can drag out of the Ravens that they don't mind allowing us to know.

In the end, though, I appreciate Harbaugh a little more at the end of every season for fielding the questions and giving the best answers he can.

He does that every year knowing, unless the team wins the Super Bowl, that no one's really going to be happy with what they hear, anyway.

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.


the price of progress


At the awards ceremony for the PGA Tour's inaugural Eastern Open Championship held at Mount Pleasant Park in 1950, Lloyd Mangrum — who won the tournament by two shots over Clayton Haefner, three shots over Pete Cooper, and four shots over Dr. Cary Middlecoff — said to the assembled crowd that included dignitaries Tom O'Donnell, general chairman of the Eastern Open; H. P. McLaughlin, representative of tournament sponsor Gunther Brewing Company; and Tommy D'Alesandro, mayor of Baltimore:

L to R: Tom O'Donnell, Tommy D'Alesandro, H. P. McLaughlin, and Lloyd Mangrum. [Click to enlarge.]

"Mount Pleasant Park is the finest public course I've ever played on, and 14 and 15 are the finest back-to-back holes I've ever seen on any course."

This brief piece shows, through old and newer photographs, the two holes to which Mr. Mangrum paid the supreme compliment – holes that Baltimore golfers no longer have the privilege to play and the destruction of which caused Baltimore to lose its place as a PGA Tour stop.

Mt. Pleasant Park was designed by Gus Hook after the design of Devereaux Emmet [who had two years before laid out the championship course at Congressional Country Club] was rejected. Mr. Hook, a Baltimore City Public Works employee, was chosen to design the course by Ned (Foxy Ned) Hanlon [the Father of Modern Baseball], who in his retirement served as the president of the Baltimore Park Board.

Course architect Gus Hook looks out over beautiful Number Six. The elegant stone dams that backed up the small stream's water to form the pond have long since deteriorated and have not been repaired. Now the area is an overgrown stream bed inhabitated only by copperheads and dumb marshalls hawking balls.
The green is huge – over 9,000 square feet. It was purposely made in the shape of an upside-down heart. The tee box is elevated and the hole is short. Therefore, shots hitting the green took their toll on it. Mr. Hook required that in alternate weeks the holes be cut on one side of the heart so that the other side could recover.
Hook modeled this hole after the 17th hole at the old Hillendale Country Club, which was then located just north of Mount Pleasant Park and is now an apartment complex.

Below is a photo published in the Baltimore Sun Magazine in 1939 that depicts the layout of Mount Pleasant Park Golf Course, but unfortunately does not include a view of holes 14 and 15. The photo was taken and published because, in 1939, Mt. Pleasant hosted the USGA's Amateur Public Links Championship, a national championship that smashed all previous records for attempts to qualify for the championships by large margins, including entry records for the U. S. Amateur Championship and the U. S. Open Championship.

Below is an aerial photo taken in 1953 that depicts #14 and #15. Note that #14 was a 525-yard par-5, dogleg left, sited to the left of #15. Number 15 was a 465-yard par-four, sited right of #14. This is a description of #15 written by Stuart B. McIver for a Baltimore Sun article dated September 15, 1952:

"The fifteenth, which starts just north of Woodbourne avenue, in Hamilton, is a scenic hole, some consolation for the golfer who goes for that sort of thing. Chinquapin Run splashes across the fairway in front of the green, while Herring Run flows down the east side, paralleling the fairway, ever ready to dampen a slice that strays its way. Trees grow in abundance near the confluence of the two streams, further complicating the picture for the golfer. A well-placed tee shot down the left side of the fairway is necessary, while a wood or long iron, straight and strong, is needed for the second shot. If the golfer tops or falls short, Chinquapin Run will claim him. If he hooks, the trees will get him. If he slices, he can expect either trees or Herring Run. The fifteenth is a lulu."


Below is an aerial shot of #s 14 and 15 in 1953. The top arrow [apologies for their shapes and color] points to #15 green. Just above it and behind a few trees, #13 green is visible. The lower arrow points to #15 tee box. To the left of it are #14 green and greenside bunkers.

Below is an aerial shot of the course's holes #14 and 15 after the construction of Perring Parkway. I believe it was taken in 2012.

In this shot, the horror that is Perring Parkway is heartbreakingly obvious. At the top center of the image, #s 13 and 15 greens are visible, as are the back [obscured by tree canopy] and forward tee boxes of #14 and the back and forward tee boxes and part of the fairway of #16. Number 14's new green is visible near the arrow.
The arrow points to a house that is on or very near where the old #14 green was located. I'm not certain but I would bet that the house was moved from where the end of the arrow's tail is located, in order to make way for the southbound Perring Parkway roadbed.
Gus Hook designed and supervised the re-alignment of the two holes. When the work was completed, Hook, a man of refined taste, joined Hillendale Country Club.

In the 1958 Eastern Open, Art Wall birdied the first hole in a playoff to beat Bob Rosburg and Jackie Burke for the title. Gary Player finished fourth, missing the playoff by one shot. Soon after the tournament, work was begun on the stretch of Perring Parkway that tore up Mount Pleasant's ground. The Eastern Open was moved to Pine Ridge. Ironically, the construction of Pine Ridge was financed from profits generated by the Mount's Eastern Opens.

Pine Ridge proved to be a pushover for the pros, who found it a spectacularly beautiful venue but not PGA Tour-worthy. Dave Ragan won the first tournament held there with a score of 273, lowering the Eastern Open record set by Sam Snead at Mount Pleasant Park in 1952 by two strokes. The tournament paid the top 33 finishers that year, and all finished with sub-par scores. [However, Pine Ridge had been open only two months before the first Eastern Open was played there and the grass was still a litte thin. The pros were allowed to play an early version of lift, clean, and place, which amounted to the right to tap-tap-tap a ball in a fairway with a clubhead to improve its lie.] The Eastern Open was moved back to Mount Pleasant Park as soon as feasible, which turned out to be 1962.

epilogue

In the tournament that year, Doug Ford shot nine-under for the four rounds and beat Bob Goalby by a stroke and Champagne Tony Lema by two to claim the winner's check of $5,300. However, Ford's name would be the last to be engraved on the D'Alesando Trophy. The course's new layout and its general condition provided the Tour with excuses to accept the invitation to move the tournament to a spectacular new course in Florida called the Blue Monster. In 1963, the tournament was moved to the Doral Country Club and became the Doral Eastern Open, where it was played until 2006.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

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


terps get battered by #1 michigan state


As the Jim Croce song says,"You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger" -- and you don’t allow the number one team in the country to blister you with open three-point shots, and then decide to not defend the interior after you’ve run out of gas.

If you do, you’ll lose by thirty.

Maryland did all of that, and lost, 91-61, last night in East Lansing.

When the Michigan State Spartans hit their first two three-point attempts of the second half, (both by Jaren Jackson) they had a 17-point lead, were shooting 66% from the three-point line (12-18) and the refs were giving Maryland a standing eight count. There was still 15:33 to play, but the outcome had been determined.

Tom Izzo and Miles Bridges (right) had an easy time with the Terps last night, as the top-ranked Spartans opened up a can in a 30-point win.

The end result was a butt whipping in a game where the home Spartans outplayed the Terps in every aspect.

For the first almost 15 minutes, Maryland acted like a team that could hang with the Spartans.

The Terps were shooting the ball out of their collective minds and had the game tied at 29 all with 5:46 remaining in the first half. Kevin Huerter couldn’t miss and Anthony Cowan was getting to the rim.

It was a Cowan lay-up that tied the game at 29 all. The next 5 minutes would be scoreless for Maryland and productive for Sparty. It was a 15-0 MSU run that dashed any upset hopes Maryland may have had. From that point on they got clobbered by a 62-32 margin.

Prior to the run, Maryland had matched Michigan State’s energy. During the run, and for the remainder of the game, Michigan State kicked it into another level while the Terp batteries steadily drained.

On one side you had energizer bunnies executing flawlessly while Maryland was playing tired. State was running their offense with a relentless speed, both in the half court and in transition. Their defensive intensity also never waned. They were impressive, to say the least.

This game turned out to not be one of X’s and O’s, pivotal moments, or big shots. Instead it was a contest where a team of superior athletes who are highly skilled gave 100% and in doing so defeated a team that didn’t have the size or energy to compete.

There were no schemes or plays that Maryland coach, Mark Turgeon, could have employed that would have changed this outcome. His team didn’t come in flat and fail to give effort. I believe they gave what they had, but it wasn’t close to being enough.

A few of the numbers and stats were staggering.

In the second half, Anthony Cowan had more field goals by himself (4), then the rest of the team combined (3). Michal Cekovsky committed 5 fouls in only 11 minutes. Michigan State was 16-28 from the floor in the first half, 16-28 in the second half, and 16-28 overall from behind the three-point line.

Michigan State had an unheard-of number of assists, 30.

Maryland leaders in points were Cowan with 26 and Huerter with 16.

The Spartans had 4 players in double figures. Nick Ward abused the Maryland interior defenders for 16 points on 6 for 8 shooting. Miles Bridges and Jackson each had 15. Jackson did all of his damage from outside, going 5-6 from behind the three-point line. MSU was impressive indeed.

Maryland next plays at home this Sunday against Iowa. Tip off time is set for 8PM.

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what to do


We have a lot of cool things going on here at #DMD over the next few months.

If you've never bowled in our Charity Bowling Challenge, get your team of four together right now and sign up for the 4th annual event on March 4th at Stoneleigh Lanes in Towson.

We have room for 16 teams and we have 6 signed up already.

This is a unique event in that you and your team of four are bowling to raise money for YOUR charity.

And we pay out REAL money, too! $800 goes to the winning team!! We pay out the top 7 teams in the event, so everyone has a great chance of raising money for their favorite charity.

Just go to "Charity Bowling" at the top of the page and get all the details on how to sign up.

If you're a hockey fan, we have a fun, inexpensive trip for you, as #DMD heads to Hershey, PA on February 24th for Hershey Bears ice hockey as they take on the Rockford IceDogs at 7 pm.

The bus will leave the Towson area at 4:30 pm, stocked with food, DuClaw beer, water, soft drinks and a hockey trivia contest with a $25 cash prize for the winner!

We love the Capitals, of course, but those games down in DC can be a little draining on the wallet or pocketbook. Our trip up to Hershey is just $89.00 per-person and it includes a lower level seat to the game!

Click on "Hershey Bears" at the top of the page for full details and join us, please. We have eight seats left on the bus.

If you're a fan of old rock n' roll, we have a great concert trip planned for August 24th, as we're heading to Philly to see Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center.

#DMD was able to secure some GREAT seats for this show, but they're moving quickly. If you're interested in a trip down memory lane to all of the hits from ELO, get your seats on our "ELO Bus" right now and join us for a night of fun in Philadelphia.

You can get all the details at the "Electric Light Orchestra" tab on the top of the main page.

And finally, we only have two (2) seats remaining on our Masters trip. If you're interested in going with our group of 24 to see the Monday, April 2nd practice round at Augusta National, please contact me today via email: drew@drewsmorningdish.com



Thursday
January 4
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issue 4
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fixing joe flacco


Sounds like a movie title, doesn't it?

Fixing Joe Flacco.

Saving Private Ryan.

Fixing Joe Flacco.

Look, I'm no quarterback guru. Far from it.

But here's what I know: Barring something really bizarre happening, you're not winning a Super Bowl in the NFL without an elite quarterback. Or, at the very least, a quarterback having an "elite season".

As Ben Affleck said at the end of Good Will Hunting: I don't know much. But I know that.

The Ravens have a quarterback problem, in my opinion.

They also have a wide receiver problem.

And, some would argue, a tight end problem.

How do the Ravens get more out of Joe Flacco in 2018? Try this: Bring in a real quarterback coach and send Joe "back to school".

They have some defensive issues, too, as both the Steelers and Bengals exploited in December losses that kept the Ravens from playing football this weekend in Kansas City.

But the man who makes the most money on the team is Joseph Vincent Flacco. He's the quarterback. And, as most teams with prolific, "elite" quarterbacks will prove, you win with the top quarterbacks and you lose with the bums.

Joe Flacco is NOT a bum.

I don't care what the talking heads in town say on the radio. Joe Flacco has made, can make and will continue to make high-quality throws in the NFL. He definitely needs some help, though.

He needs better receivers to throw to, for sure.

He needs continued solid offensive line protection, which he got for the most part in the second half of this past season (when his numbers were actually almost borderline "really" good).

But -- and there's a BIG "but" here -- Flacco also needs something else.

He needs to improve.

He'll be in his 11th NFL season next year. There's still tread left on his tires. He's likely going to be the starter in Baltimore in 2018 and 2019. And, simply put, he has to stop making so many mistakes.

Saying "he needs to improve" is the dumb statement of the day, right? Of course he does. "Tell us something we don't know, Drew..." Is that what you're saying?

Flacco needs a quarterback coach.

Plain and simple.

He's had them before. And, by all accounts, he prospered under the tutelage of guys like Gary Kubiak and Jim Zorn. Jim Caldwell worked closely with Flacco early in the 2012 season before taking over the offensive coordinator position three-quarters into the season. He, too, had a positive impact on Flacco.

Flacco needs a new, helpful hand.

If I'm Steve Bisciotti, and Ozzie Newsome, and John Harbaugh, I go out and find the best one I can and hand Flacco over to him.

Who? I don't know. How about Peyton Manning? Stupid, right? It might not be that stupid if you give Peyton Manning $3 million bucks to come in next April, May and June and work with Flacco.

And here's the thing. I'm not really talking strictly about "mechanics" here, either.

How is it possible that Flacco has played in the NFL for ten seasons and he didn't know to take a sack with 2:55 left in the game last Sunday night on 3rd and 5? Instead, he threw the ball harmlessly into the dirt and killed the clock FOR THE BENGALS.

Tell me -- how is it possible for a ten-year quarterback making $20 million a year to make that sort of elementary mistake?

And please don't tell me "that was a one off thing, Drew". No, my friend, it wasn't.

Should we go back to what happened in Nashville in early November when Joe clowned around in the final thirty seconds of the third quarter and failed to sniff out a 4th and inches situation and instead let the clock run down to end the quarter so the Titans could set up their defense?

There are two examples. Just in the last two months. There are plenty of others, of course.

Flacco is like a 10-year professional chess player who still gets his rook taken within the first twelve moves of the game.

The mistakes he makes are either a product of being dumb (I don't think that's the case), not being able to handle the pressure of the game situation (maybe?) or simply not being able to process things in time, two or three plays in advance (maybe?).

Great chess players all have the intuition to not only know what they'd like to do three moves in advance, but they also have the ability to know what you're likely to do in response to their move(s).

Flacco plays in the moment. The very one he's in. Often times, flying by the seats of his pants works out OK. But in critical moments, like the one last Sunday night against the Bengals, he simply doesn't ignite with the situation at hand.

Can a quarterback coach help him with that?

Perhaps.

I'd almost say, at this point, if someone can't sit down with Flacco and help him with those things, that Joe might just be too stubborn to seek and accept guidance.

And if Flacco won't heed the advice of someone employed by the team to help both him and the organization succeed, I'd have to call into question the QB's willingness to be a team player -- in a team sport.

His mechanics? Sure, they're an issue still, at times. So, get someone to sit down with him and go through the tape and look at the way he's using his feet, positioning his body and throwing the ball.

Don't bring in a scrub or a career journeyman. Ten years into the league, Flacco would probably dismiss that idea.

Would Brett Favre be interested in coming to Baltimore for three months next spring and working with Joe Flacco? Ask him...

The great Lee Trevino once said this about getting a golf lesson as a PGA Tour player: "Why would I ever see someone about my golf swing if they can't beat me at golf?"

Fair point.

So don't bring Flacco a bum.

Go get Peyton Manning. All he's doing these days is recording those funny insurance commercials. He might not need the money, but you know Manning loves football and he probably wouldn't mind having his ego stroked as the guy who "fixed Flacco".

Brett Favre might need some money. He was pretty good, I heard.

If Brett-freakin'-Favre shows up in shorts and tee shirt next April and says to Flacco, "Let's get to work", I don't think Joe's going to turn his nose at that offer of assistance.

Rich Gannon went to Delaware. He wasn't a great quarterback but everyone used to talk about how good his mechanics were in the NFL. Bring him in, before Jon Gruden hires him in Oakland.

And if I'm the Ravens, I don't "suggest" that the club would be interested in bringing on a quarterback coach for Joe.

"We're bringing someone in to help you improve. See you at the facility Monday morning at 10 am. Thanks."

That's how the message should go.

Sure, better receivers would help the Ravens and their quarterback. The club needs to do a MUCH better job of securing quality pass catchers.

But the quarterback needs to step up his game, too.

Anyone who think Flacco is beyond improvement is just demonstrating a general lack of football knowledge.

He can play much better.

He can play much smarter, too.

For what they're paying him, he should be asking the Ravens, "How do I get better and earn my keep?"

He owes that much to the franchise, in my opinion.

Get Joe Flacco a quarterback coach and demand he take it all seriously. Make him earn that $20 million.


be sure and check out "the juice"


#DMD's latest daily feature is up for you listening enjoyment.

"The Juice" (located at the top of the right hand side of the page, above Breakfast Bytes is a daily podcast of sorts that features an audio contribution from me that likely isn't written about at #DMD that same day.

Today, for example, I look at the 15 NFL Hall of Fame finalists and select the five I'd vote for on February 3rd in Minnesota.

"The Juice" will run every day, usually about ten minutes in length, and is a great addition to your morning routine, whether that's making lunch for the kids, riding in the car, or sitting down at your desk with that first cup of coffee.

Please note, though. It only "airs" on weekdays at #DMD.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


I don’t know John Harbaugh. Never met him.

I’ve never been at one of his practices, or even at one of his press conferences.

The only time I’ve been in the same “room” as him was a few years ago, at a Loyola volleyball match. I looked across the court and there he was, about 15 rows up. He was there in support of one of American University’s players, Megan Rosburg, the daughter of his friend Jerry Rosburg, the Ravens’ special teams coach.

It was a midweek match during football season. I thought it was nice that he would come.

Taking away what happened on Sunday, or on quite a few Sundays over the past three years, I really like him.

He comes from a football coaching family.

His brother is close to certifiably insane; his father is pretty darn intense, even at his age. John, on the other hand, seems pretty normal. I like that.

He’s never said he was a genius who knew what to do to make everything right. He’s not an overhyped blowhard like Rex Ryan, who might have had the job instead. He’s here to coach the football team, that’s all. I really like that.

He’s been the coach here now for 10 seasons, made the playoffs six times and had one losing season, which came when the starting quarterback went down with a season-ending injury. I’ll take that. Of course, there are obvious things not to like.

Harbaugh’s record in his first 80 games, his first five seasons, was 54-26. His record in his next 80 games, seasons six through 10, is 40-40.

Mediocrity. It’s nothing to like. I know some teams and fan bases that might be ok with it, but not this team and this city.

There’s no question his team lacks something they used to have; they just aren’t as good. How much of that you can blame on Harbaugh, and how much you can blame on some of the guys that hired him, is up for debate. I don’t like having to decide on that any more than the owner does.

Here’s my decision, though, and it doesn’t have anything to do with whether I like him or not: I think it would be a mistake to fire John Harbaugh.

A big one, actually.

The reason is the exactly the same, probably, as the reason a lot of people want him gone.

It comes down to two games, two games out of 160, in Pittsburgh on Christmas Day 2016 and in Baltimore on New Year’s Eve 2017.

The Ravens lost both of those games. They were both games they easily could have won, or maybe even should have won.

They were games that probably (in the case of this year, for certain) left the Ravens at 10-6 each season, in the tournament for the seventh and eighth time in Harbaugh’s 10 years.

One or two plays, especially at the end of each game, making all the difference in the world.

Some might say that’s a reason to make a change. I’d say that it’s, for the coach anyway, a little bit of bad luck at the worst time.

The Ravens weren’t going to win in Pittsburgh in 2016, no way. But Harbaugh’s team was the better one for most of the game. They had nearly 36 minutes of possession, and they scored the go-ahead touchdown with just more than a minute left in the game.

The Ravens weren’t going to win Sunday against the Bengals either, not with the way they were playing.

I was confused by the performance — the difficulties with catching and throwing the ball in the cold, the inability to stop the run. Then the game changed, as it often does, and the Bengals started playing like a 6-9 team, and the quarterback who was throwing every ball low or behind threw his best pass on a difficult out route for a touchdown at the goal line.

Turns out the Ravens didn’t win either game because the other team ran excellent two-minute drills. That’s a big thing, but that’s all it was.

Two games out of 160. Two games that kept a Ravens team that wasn’t really very good either year from being a playoff team in both 2016 and 2017.

I’m more impressed with Harbaugh for getting them to that point than I am ready to hold him to the fire for the results.

I think that would be a bad reason, the wrong reason, to let him go. But I think a lot of other reasons would be bad ones also.

John Harbaugh isn’t the quarterbacks coach, and he’s not the play caller. His quarterback has regressed, making it harder to call good plays. He’s definitely committed to playing a certain way, though, with a lot of balance, and I think that’s a good way to play.

He wants to play offense to win, not to make the game exciting. In a league where very little separates one team from the other, I like that.

And there are the reasons that have nothing to do with football, from an Xs and Os standpoint.

The town isn’t in love with the Ravens anymore.

Nobody waits with bated breath to wear purple every Friday.

The perception of the game as a whole, whether it’s the Ravens or not, is that it’s just not as good as it was. It really is a whole lot better watching the game on television than it is in the stadium, no matter what the weather.

But you have to ask yourself — if next year’s coach is Josh McDaniels, or Jim Schwartz, or some coach you’re not expecting, like Harbaugh was in 2008—is any of that going to be any different?

Will people show up enthusiastically for the first preseason game in August because of a new coach? Whatever the result of the Ravens’ first home game next year, will the crowd be excited leaving the stadium because a new coach is making such a difference?

I doubt it. I’ll honestly feel more angst that way, not knowing what direction we might be headed.

Whatever level Ravens fans might return to in their enthusiasm, which won’t be what it once was, it’ll reach its zenith when the team wins a lot.

And I’ve always liked our chances of winning under John Harbaugh, from the moment he led his first team to the playoffs to the last two minutes of Sunday’s game against Cincinnati.

Nothing lasts forever, and 10 seasons is an eternity for an NFL coach. Perhaps Steve Bisciotti will think about letting John Harbaugh go, and perhaps he might even do it. And if he does, I suppose I’ll understand it.

But it won’t be for a good reason.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.


Let’s get right to the point. If Maryland is to beat Michigan State tonight, it will take an extraordinary effort on the part of the Terps, and a bit of an off night from the Spartans.

MSU has many strengths and their weaknesses are just minor blips. They may not stay number one all year long, but they are a serious contender for a place in April’s Final Four.

MSU attacks from all angles. Their leading scorer, Miles Bridges, gets most of the individual accolades, but the group collectively leads, or is near the of the Big 10, in almost every statistical category.

They are first in points scored with 87.7 ppg and third in points allowed at 61.4. Combining those two stats produces a league leading scoring margin of +26.3.

Their field goal percentage is tops in the conference (53.1%) as is their field goal percentage defense (32.8%). They are second in 3-point percentage, first in rebounding margin, and first in blocked shots.

Oh, I almost forgot, they are first in steals also.

Individually, Tom Izzo's team has no one in the top five in scoring, but have three in the top 20.

Scoring and defense -- Maryland needs both tonight from Anthony Cowan if they have any hope of knocking off #1 Michigan State in East Lansing.

Maryland’s leading rebounder, Bruno Fernando, is 17th in rebounding, while Michigan State has 3 guys in the top 11.

Michigan State’s center, Nick Ward, is the Big 10 leader in field goal percentage (72%) while starting guard, Cassius Winston, leads in 3-point percentage (57.5%). Want more? Miles Bridges is the foul shot leader with 91% and Winston is tops in assists with 7.2 a game.

Is the picture clear at this point? Michigan State's lineup is imposing, to say the least.

Michigan State is very deep too. All five starters average double digits in points and nine guys get 11 minutes or more of playing time.

The biggest issue for the Terps will be matching up with the Spartan big men. They normally start the 6’7” Bridges (who is listed as a guard but really plays a small forward role), the 6’11” freshman Jaren Jackson, and their interior work horse Nick Ward (6’8 245). Manning the one and two spots are Winston and Joshua Langford.

Winston hits threes and gathers up a bunch of assists, but it’s Langford who is the tougher of the two to defend. Langford is a quick 6’5” slasher that is very adept at creating his own shot. He’s a solid foul shooter (80%) when he gets to the line and knocks down 45% of his three-point attempts. He’s a handful to guard, and uses his ball handling and vertical ability to get his 14.1 ppg. I would like to see the Terps counter him defensively with Darryl Morsell. Anthony Cowan will check Winston.

Bridges should draw Maryland’s Kevin Huerter. I like Huerter here because his length might detract Bridges from launching those quick, high arching threes that he enjoys. While I don’t believe that Bridges can get to the rim off the bounce, he might be trouble on the low blocks. While listed as 225 lbs, he looks much thicker.

Nick Ward is a tough matchup under the basket. He uses his girth and muscle very well to get easy buckets. Last year, in the 63-60 Maryland win over MSU in College Park, Ward posted 22 points and a whopping 16 rebounds. But those numbers came against Damonte Dodd and Ivan Bender. Michal Cekovsky was hurt and did not play that game but he’s sure to draw minutes against Ward tonight. How he fares remains to be seen.

The remaining matchup is another interesting one as the potential Big Ten freshman of the year, Jaren Jackson, draws a likely matchup with Maryland’s Bruno Fernando. Even at 6’11’, Jackson plays away from the basket. His 37% three-point percentage warrants attention on the perimeter, which could draw Fernando away from the basket. An option would be to switch Ceko and Fernando, thus enabling Fernando to be more of a rim protector, and rebounder, inside.

Either way, it’s going to take a herculean effort by Maryland to slow down Michigan State and their vast array of talented players.

MSU will push the tempo and getting back in transition had better be a focus for coach Turgeon’s team. Michigan State is so effective in their half court sets, that you simply cannot allow easy breakaways and quick transition buckets.

So what’s the recipe for Maryland success? First off, Maryland must close gaps and defend with energy. If they allow any of coach Izzo’s players space, they will take advantage of it. Close the gaps and force them work to make passes.

Second, Maryland absolutely must rebound with all five players. Every Terp needs to box and crash and scrap for every ball. Second chance points must be limited.

And the two obvious “musts” are the Terps must hit threes and they must protect the ball.

If Maryland can do all of that, they may hang around.

Fatigue could be a factor when you figure that the Terps traveled a day after playing a tough 40-minute game against Penn State. Weary legs become an issue late in a game when the Spartans have been throwing quality bench players (McQuaid, Schilling, Nairn Jr., Goins, Carter) at you all night long.

Here’s the way I see this game going.

Maryland might just relax and shoot the ball well in the first half. They could hang around for a while and make this game tight for 20 minutes.

The second half will be dominated by Michigan State as they pull away from an overmatched Terps team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Maryland battle back to respectability, but in the end, it’s a double digit win for the nation’s #1 ranked team.

Maryland returns home for Sunday’s 8pm contest against Iowa after suffering an 82–67 defeat in East Lansing. The early line for tonight’s game was Maryland +14.

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Wednesday
January 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 3
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let's check off some boxes


As the Ravens begin the arduous process of breaking down the good and bad from the 2017 season, it's also paramount they shift seamlessly into the 2018 campaign almost immediately.

"Next season begins right now" is what you'll hear a lot of teams and coaches say in the aftermath of their season-ending loss, whether that comes in the regular season or playoffs.

The Ravens, I think, are in a unique situation. This isn't necessarily a new predicament for them. There's a train of thought that says it might have started as a slow trickle in 2015, became more forceful in 2016, and is now a powerful fountain.

People want heads to roll.

They wanted them to roll last year and they didn't. "Have patience," is essentially what Steve Bisciotti said last January.

Patience is wearing thin on lots of ticket-buying folks around town.

But their unique situation isn't just about fixing the on-field product.

It would certainly help to win another game or two each regular season and return to the post-season. Winning is always a good tonic for disappointed fans.

The Ravens, however, have another problem.

And here it is, in short summary: The NFL has become extremely easy to dislike.

We're going to play a little game...below you'll see a chart, with a theme or a connection to the NFL, along with a "Like" box and a "Dislike" box next to each.

I'd like you to read through each of those and check off your box. "Like" or "Dislike". Play along, honestly, and let's look at what's facing the Ravens and nearly every other team in the NFL.

Remember, when you're completing the "box test" below, you're filling it out as a fan of the Ravens, first and foremost. Be honest with your check marks. Note that you won't actually "check" anything in the box. The boxes are just there for you to see, mentally. Ready? Go.


Item    Like    Dislike
Commissioner Goodell
Player end-zone celebrations
Rules of the NFL
Quality of refereeing
Instant replay
Tailgating
Ticket prices
Beer prices
Food prices
Cost to park
Quality of game action
Arbitrary change of game times
Thursday Night Football
Player behavior (on and off the field)
Player kneeling protests
Player salary cap ($175 million)
National TV broadcasters

How does your form look? Let me guess. It's filled with check marks on the "Dislike" side.

Mine was, if I'm being honest.

Maybe you had more "likes" than "dislikes"? If so, that's cool. I think generationally we will all look at the form differently.

For example, my guess is most 55 year old men who complete the form "dislike" player kneeling/protests. Most 25 year old men who complete the form "like" player kneeling/protests.

The form and the like/dislike test probably goes a long way in revealing your age, even if by accident.

As a sidebar to this, I tried completing the form pretending it was Major League Baseball. Not everything fits, of course (no kneeling issues, for example), but where applicable, I found myself checking "like" more than "dislike" when it came to evaluating baseball.

The synposis? I think the NFL has become -- over time -- a very easy product to dislike.

And as such, we're starting to see people really stay away from the games.

As a friend pointed out to me, the stadium in Foxborough was packed to the gills last Sunday in frigid cold temps to see the Patriots beat up on the Jets. Yes, there are still a couple of cities where the folks are buying AND using their seats.

But there's a general malaise about the NFL right now, whether it's butts in seats or eyes on the TV screen. Folks are turning away from the game, and I think it's because they've grown to dislike the league.

Just one of many things that aggravated a portion of the Ravens' fan base in 2017 -- and could spill over, even, into 2018.

I don't necessarily think it's all about winning or losing. The Ravens, in fact, had a "winning" record this year, albeit at 9-7. They weren't terrible by any means. They missed going to the playoffs by virtue of a missed three-foot putt, basically. They were Scott Hoch at the 1989 Masters -- he missed a 28-inch putt on the first playoff hole that would have won him a green jacket.

That's how close the Ravens came to making the playoffs in 2017.

So it's not all about winning or losing. Something else has happened. In Baltimore. In Nashville. In Tampa Bay. In New York. In Cleveland. In Cincinnati. And so on...nearly every city in the league is afflicted with "NFL malaise" in some way, shape or form.

I think the league is easy to dislike.

Roger Goodell makes $44 million? Are you freakin' kidding me? (dislike).

That stupid rule about "surviving the ground" on a catch? Just one of a handful of dumb rules. (dislike)

$10.00 for a beer that would cost me $4.00 in any bar in Federal Hill? (dislike)

$30.00 for my car to sit there for four hours and not do anything? (dislike)

$130 for a ticket to the game so I can cheer for football players who took a knee during the national anthem? (dislike)

The game time was 1 pm and we made plans to have a sitter watch the kids and then the league just decides they'll start the game at 4:35 pm? (dislike)

The Jets and Dolphins on Thursday Night Football? Really? (dislike)

You get the point. Dislike, dislike, dislike.

Ask yourself this for a minute. And this sorta-kinda only applies to folks who already have a regular tailgating routine at the stadium. If tomorrow, the Ravens and/or the Maryland Stadium Authority outlawed game-day tailgating anywhere within 3.5 miles of the stadium, how would that impact your interest in going to the games?

I'm not qualified to answer this, I'd say, because I'm not a tailgater. When I go, it's usually a tad more spur-of-the-moment and often times I'm taking my 10-year old son.

But my guess -- just a guess, here -- is if they outlawed tailgating next season the Ravens wouldn't sell 45,000 season tickets.

A friend of mine, when asked the tailgating question yesterday, immediately blurted out, "Half the stadium would be empty every game". Maybe. It's a pretty important part of the game day experience, after all.

So what's that say for the NFL? What's it say if people would stop going to the games simply because tailgating got prohibited?

This "easy to dislike" theory isn't just about the Ravens. Far, far, from it.

They're a player in the game, obviously, since they have a lot of the spokes in the wheel; ticket prices, beer prices, parking fees, etc., but much of what's ailing the Ravens these days is really an infection in the body of the NFL.

These problems are in 20-something cities throughout the country. There's probably not a team in the NFL not feeling the impact of the "malaise".

And here's what I say to the NFL about their issues as it relates specifically to the only city I know well enough to make comment on.

Baltimore baseball fans once walked away from the Orioles after years of losing and disconnection with the fan base.

If the league thinks people in Baltimore won't just up and leave -- and not come back -- they're sitting on a very slippery slope.

The city ran away -- quickly and by the thousands -- from the Orioles circa 2005 when the team was abysmal, the owner wasn't ingratiated with the city, and the franchise wasn't doing much of anything to connect with their diminishing-by-the-season fan base.

In 2005, 2007 and 2009, Baltimore sports fans found something else to do on a Tuesday night in June or a Friday night in August. They stopped going to baseball games, that's for sure.

And if the NFL doesn't think Baltimore would do that again, over their angst with the football team and the league, they're living in fantasy land.

To that end, I think the Ravens realize it and I assume they do. People in Baltimore won't come to the games if they're overly disatisfied.

News flash: Baltimore already did it this past season. Tens of thousands of no-shows for home games against the Bears, Dolphins, Texans, Lions and Colts. That's not me guessing that, of course. You saw it with your own two eyes.

To wit, the Ravens had a chance to clinch a playoff spot -- something they hadn't done in two seasons -- last Sunday night, and 45,000 fans (roughly) bothered to show up. Yes, there were several very real, honorable and understandable reasons for the low attendance. But roughly 25,000 seats stayed empty on Sunday night. For what effectively was a playoff game for the Ravens.

If the roles were reversed and the Ravens were 6-9 and playing out the string like the Bengals were on Sunday, I could understand the malaise. And this isn't mean to criticize the folks who didn't go. It's meant more to showcase the fact that something is very, very wrong with the NFL these days and it's not about 15 degree temperatures, New Year's Eve or downtown being deemed "unsafe".

I think people are very, very disenchanted with the league as a whole.

And no, I don't have an answer for it, either. If I did, I'd bottle it up and sell it to Goodell for a few million and you'd be reading Drew's Morning Dish from Delray Beach, Florida every morning.

But I know what I see and what I feel.

It's really hard to like the NFL these days.

And, so, the Ravens have a lot of work to do on a variety of levels to get their house in order over in Owings Mills.

They have to improve their team, for starters.

And they have to hope the NFL gets itself straightened out, too.

The NFL has far, far more problems than do the Ravens.

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new year's day hockey -- nhl still getting it right


Sorry this is a day late, but I hope not a dollar short.

The annual New Year's Day NHL "Winter Classic" was played on Monday from Citi Field in New York, and once again this year, the league created a magnificent event.

I'd go as far as to say this: The one-day Winter Classic is, to me, easily as "entertaining" as the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl obviously has far more cachet, mainly because it's the final game of the year and a champion is crowned.

The New Year's Day game is just another regular season tilt, albeit typically featuring two arch-rivals or high-quality teams.

But the NHL has really figured out the "one-day-event" theme and it showed again on Monday in New York City.

That every kid playing in the game cut his teeth playing "pond hockey" is the central theme of the day. And it truly does take them back to their youth. You can see it in their play, hear it in their voices when they're interviewed, and "feel it" just by watching the whole thing on television.

Can you imagine what NFL players would feel like if once a year there was a game played in a really nice, 10,000 stadium high school stadium somewhere in Ohio or Western Pennyslvania or, Florida, even, where a large number of NFL players are born and raised?

Maybe football players aren't as melancholy about their youth as hockey players are and, for that reason alone, perhaps the "high school stadium" idea wouldn't work. But as long as the league and the NFLPA approved the turf and the field/locker room conditions, what would be wrong with a one-off event like that?

Sure...they'd need to bring in real NFL goalposts for the game and the press box would have to be enlarged and there are 15 other things I'm not thinking of here that would have to go into it, but this much is certain: If the NFL can play four games a year in London, they most certainly could pull off one game a year in a 10,000 seat stadium in Sandusky, Ohio.

In the end, though, I'm not sure an NFL game would do justice to the sport the way the NFL's Winter Classic does for ice hockey.

It's just perfect. A beautiful blend of what once was and what currently is, along with creating a special keepsake-day for people who brave the elements and go watch the event at the stadium.

I've watched all ten of the outdoor New Year's Day games.

I don't know that I've watched every minute of all of them, but I've watched a great deal of the 600 minutes of hockey we've seen on New Year's Day since 2008.

I even picked out my all-time favorite Winter Classic moment as nod to the great event the NHL has produced.


The Best Winter Classic moment ever is here.

#DMD HD-TV


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TUESDAYS
with
TODD


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

Twitter: @TMSchoenberger


Editor's Note: Todd's column normally runs on Tuesday's at #DMD, but due to the New Year's holiday we bumped it back to Wednesday this week.

Welcome to 2018, RavensNation!

Normally, this is the time for fresh starts, new beginnings, establishing goals, and optimism for the upcoming twelve-month campaign.

Well, not in Baltimore.

Nope. After Sunday’s utter disappointment, all in Charm City are left in a state of disbelief and anger. The Ravens didn’t just let its fans down; it embarrassed the city in a way violent riots and meteoric homicide rates do.

Is it time for the Ravens to go in another direction and bid farewell to John Harbaugh?

Think I’m being overly dramatic? Perhaps, but the Ravens bruised the city’s civic pride and the team needs to be called out on it.

First, let’s discuss the coach.

As engaging and charismatic as John Harbaugh may be, he has single-handily destroyed the culture of the Ravens. Following the SuperBowl victory, he began making moves by forcing several of the team’s key personalities and hard hitters out of Baltimore.

Harbs didn’t want the A-type extroverts on the team. Rather, he wanted…no, demanded…to be the face of the Ravens. Normally, NFL teams prefer to let its star players stand out, but Harbaugh has some kind of personal attention requirement, where he is the one-and-only mouthpiece for a team historically equipped with trash-talking savages.

He’s a classic micro-manager. A person in control of every detail rarely trusting his staff in full, guys like Harbaugh know how to manufacturer a bond with those of influence.

And the most influential person connected to the Ravens is owner Steve Bisciotti. Their relationship is more about friendship, than employer/employee. This is why Bisciotti finds it hard to make the necessary change at the top, despite another average record and repeat non-playoff berth for a once-storied franchise.

But Harbaugh failed, miserably, as a coach on Sunday. He did not have his team prepared, despite his management style being all about dotting I’s and crossing T’s. He may have focused on the details, but he made a crucial error with the one that is the most important: Always have your team ready.

A few reports are beginning to sprinkle into articles about Harbaugh being “distracted” in the days leading up to the critical Bengals game. Valid or not, the idea that stories like this would even be discussed is alarming considering what was at stake on Sunday.

If true, it would explain why the team seemed distracted in the beginning of the game. The lack of energy on the sideline was crystal clear and gave the impression the team had other things on their minds rather than football.

That’s the problem when you run your leaders off the team, though. If Harbaugh was mentally jarred from something else, he needed a player to step-up in the locker room and rally the troops.

Flacco can’t do it. C.J. prefers to play in the shadows. And Suggs—who was once a vocal antagonizer—has been silenced over the years. Many say Suggs has quieted down because of his age, but my guess is the head coach told him to pipe down and not ruffle any feathers.

The lack of player leadership is a red flag for the Ravens, and its staff. Many in the NFL must view the team as subpar, not carrying the same gravitas in the Ravens locker-room as it once did in its heyday.

NFL teams always had Ravens’ coaches on the short list when filling personnel vacancies. Other teams believed they would get the secret sauce for success when luring a coordinator or assistant to join their staffs.

Not anymore.

And as a matter of fact, when the Ravens saw their season end on Sunday, three ex-Ravens coaches were either fired or forced to resign from their head coaching jobs on the same day: Chuck Pagano, Jack Del Rio, and Marvin Lewis.

Funny, but I don’t believe any of John Harbaugh’s assistants have been hired by opposing teams since the Super Bowl season.

The reason is simple: The kindler-and-gentler version of Harbaugh’s Ravens is toxic in a league best known for violent hits and turbocharged masculinity.

Bisciotti needs to terminate Harbaugh and begin the process of culture recovery for the team. If he doesn’t, then the Ravens will be looking at another mediocre season in 2018, and beyond.

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.


The Maryland Terrapins overcame a boatload of adversity last night in defeating the Nittany Lions of Penn State by a score of 75-69 in College Park.

The recent injuries to Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender were knowns, but nobody could have anticipated Kevin Huerter being limited to 6 first half minutes after picking up his second (cheap) foul only 3:30 into the game.

Equally as daunting to overcome was the abysmal foul shooting that saw the Terps miss 12 of their first 24 attempts from the free throw line.

Lastly, they overcame a 7-24 performance from the field by their two starting guards. But, when you play a solid 40 minutes of defense, only turn the ball over 5 times, hit key shots from the field late in the game, and connect on 7 of 8 foul shots down the stretch, good things can happen.

For Maryland last night, a good thing did happen, they got a hard fought and well-deserved win. It also helped that they played at home and received a 34 to 4 advantage in fouls shots attempted.

Freshman Darryl Morsell had a big night for Maryland on Tuesday as the Terps turned back Penn State in College Park.

Every Terp starter made a significant contribution to this victory. Let’s start with Huerter. The stat line for his six minutes of first half action was all zeros. In the second half he tallied 13 points, went 9-9 from the foul line, grabbed four boards, and posted three assists against 1 lone turnover.

Add that to the solid effort defensively against Lamar Stevens and Tony Carr, and Huerter had a whale of a half of basketball in which he played all 20 minutes.

Bruno Fernando played the most impressive game I’ve seen from him during his young Terp career. His numbers were solid, 17 points and 11 rebounds, but it was his aggression and assertiveness that grabbed my (along with some pro scouts) attention.

Fernando had the unenviable task of bumping bodies all night with Penn State’s Mike Watkins. I gushed about Watkins earlier, and the kid did not disappoint. With 17 points and 17 rebounds, Watkins was a dominating force, but Fernando hung with him most of the way.

Anthony Cowan played all 40 minutes and, despite going 5-14 from the field, kept Maryland in the game during the first half when he scored 11 points. Many of his first half buckets were dramatic and acrobatic, hanging layups. He also held State’s Shep Garner to 3 points (8 below his average).

Most importantly, Cowan only turned the ball over twice against a team that is ranked among the top 10 nationally in steals. The Terps as a team only turned it over 5 times.

Michal Cekovsky made the most of his starting role. With 10 points, 6 rebounds, solid defense (for the most part) and 2 assists with zero turnovers, he seemed to sync well with Fernando under and around the basket. He logged 29 minutes of action, went 5-6 from the floor and played with some passion. He looked like he was having fun tonight.

I saved Darryl Morsell for last...on purpose.

Darryl struggled mightily from the floor. His first half offensive numbers were just that. Offensive. He missed all 6 of his shots, and could only hit 1 of 4 from the foul line.

However, watching him do battle with the Nittany Lions’ top scorer, Carr, was a real pleasure. I’m scoring this one a unanimous decision for Morsell.

Yes, Carr had 16 points and 8 of Penn State’s 20 assists. But he took 23 shots and made only 6. Carr also turned it over 3 times. Morsell got some help in the second half when Huerter covered Carr for a spell, but Morsell had him most of the night and did some really good work.

It’s ironic that a guy who shot 20% form the field, and only 50% from the foul line, would arguably make the game’s biggest shot. In my mind, that’s what Morsell did when he drained a game-tying three from the right corner to knot the game at 61 all with 4:36 remaining.

Morsell would go on to score a total of 7 points during a three-minute span after Penn State had managed to carve out a 5 point lead with 6:22 left, swinging momentum their way. The momentum swung back around to the Terps when Huerter converted two shots from the foul line before Morsell hit the three pointer that had the crowd on their feet. The shot barely hit the rim while going in. It was a huge moment in the game.

The pre-game question about who would man the four spot was answered during the opening introductions when Michal Cekovsky’s name was called as the last Terp starter. That move made Bruno Fernando and Ceko Terp front court mates. Ceko was assigned to Stevens -- leaving Fernando on Watkins.

Early foul trouble for Kevin Huerter was perhaps the most significant event of the first half. Huerter picked up foul number two only 3:30 into the game. Huerter finished the half with no points, and no rebounds in only 6 minutes.

While Huerter was watching from the bench, his teammates were holding down the fort defensively. Maryland led 6-4 at the first TV timeout. Both squads were more focused on getting the ball inside, eschewing the 3-point shot for higher percentage looks inside.

Neither team was able to gain much of an advantage until a Terp 9-0 run beginning at the 11:48 mark put them ahead 19-13. Acrobatic layups by Anthony Cowan were a staple of that run.

Defensively, Darryl Morsell was winning the battle against Tony Carr. Carr heated up a bit with 2:15 left in the half, hitting two threes in a row to help Penn State grab a 34-30 lead at intermission.

The opening minutes of the 2nd half featured a bit more scoring and a show being put on by Fernando and Watkins. Both big men were imposing their will offensively, and the teams hit a few threes after shooting a combined 4 for 19 from behind the arc in the first half.

Penn State wasn’t pulling away, but they did maintain the lead for most of the first 16 minutes of the second half.

Penn State led, 44-41, at the first media break with 14:22 left. With 11:16 remaining, State was leading 50-48.

The under 8-minute media timeout came at 6:22 with Penn State up 60-56 and Mike Watkins was going to the foul line. He converted one of two and the lead stood at 5 points. Maryland then ran off 9 straight points, including the big Morsell three pointer. Penn State helped out the Terp cause with some questionable shot selection, but to Maryland’s credit they were always close by with a hand in the shooter’s face.

When Bruno Fernando made one of two foul shots with 37 seconds left to give the Terps a 71-66, the win seemed all but assured. However, the victory celebration was delayed a bit after State’s Josh Reaves hit a long-range fade-away three from the right side to cut the Terp advantage to 2 points, 71-69. The final margin of victory came when Cowan made two foul shots and Huerter added two more after a desperation 3 by Lamar Stevens.

The Terps were able to get a good team win at the XFINITY Center last night. They had major contributions form all five starters, and played good fundamental basketball for most of the night. Both teams played hard and neither turned it over much. The rebounds were dead even at 38 apiece.

In the end, Maryland was more composed at crunch time. They took better shots and managed to get to the foul 30 times more than Penn State did. For a team that is re-inventing itself because of injuries, they did a fine job.

Next up for Maryland is #1 ranked Michigan St in East Lansing tomorrow night (Thursday, Jan. 4) at 8 p.m.

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Tuesday
January 2
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"the juice" debuts as we kick-off 2018


I heard it a lot over the holidays when I was out and about at the various events we held as part of our Winter Apparel Drive for the men at Helping Up Mission.

"When are you going back on the radio?"

"It sure would be good to hear you back on the air."

"I miss hearing you every morning."

Flattering and nice to hear from everyone. Really. I enjoyed my time on the air. But that ship has sailed for me, for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is I get to wake up every morning with my wife and children and help them get prepared for their day.

And I started this project -- #DMD -- back on August 25, 2014 and it's been a complete blessing to have so many people in my corner, working with me, supporting my efforts, and helping me put together something that I can be proud of along the way.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still be able to "hear" me, somehow.

For a while here, I toyed with the idea of a podcast -- weekly or so -- but by own admission I never really got connected with that part of this "project" of mine. I don't know. I just didn't.

Enter: The Juice.

To the right, and just above Breakfast Bytes, you'll be able to listen to me every weekday morning. It will range from three minutes to six or eight...sometimes ten, who knows? It's a new feature here that gives you the chance to "hear" me in the car, on your phone, or on your laptop.

And, unlike traditional radio, you'll never "miss it". In the old days, if I had a guest or had a segment at 8:22 am and you weren't in your car at 8:22 am, you missed it.

Now, no matter when you're up and about, you can check out "The Juice".

And I'm going to do my best make sure it's not just a regurgitation of what you're reading at #DMD. Sure, there will definitely be times when I write about the Ravens and talk about them, too, but I'll try to make each piece separate from the other.

I'm learning some new software applications to make this happen (trying to teach an old dog new tricks!), so I'm asking for some latitude for a week or two while I figure it out. But once I get the hang of it, I think you'll like what you hear at The Juice every morning.

We have lots of other stuff -- good stuff -- going on here at #DMD as 2018 kicks off.

Our annual charity bowling event is now open to the first 16 teams that register. Details are available at the top of the page under "Charity Bowling". This has become one of our most popular events of the year! You're bowling to raise money for YOUR favorite charity. Please join us on Sunday, March 4 from 3 pm to 6 pm at Stoneleigh Lanes!"

I hope you have a great 2018! Thanks for helping us make 2017 special -- and for being part of the #DMD family!

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bisciotti in an extremely tough spot


This is much, much different than it was back in 2007 when Steve Bisciotti flipped a switch on New Year's Eve and fired Brian Billick.

This time, Bisciotti's not dealing with a losing team like he had when Billick and the Ravens went 5-11.

Other than handing Brian a free check for $18 million, pulling the trigger on his departure probably wasn't all that difficult for the owner. He didn't hire Billick, after all. He merely employed him.

The situation facing Bisciotti now is light years different.

His football team just missed the playoffs by a half-a-whisker, basically. Their entire season came down to a 4th and 12 play against a team long ago eliminated from the playoffs. Make a stop, and they're off to Kansas City.

Except it didn't happen that way.

And now, Bisciotti has to look back at his own words last January and wonder whether or not his prophecies weren't fulfilled because of coaching, player quality, injuries, or bad luck.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has a tough call on his hands in January. Trust the staff he's put together that's now missed the playoffs three straight years? Or reconfigure things in Owings Mills?

"We certainly want to get back in the playoffs next (2017) season. I've made that clear and everyone understands that," he said.

"We need to see our defense improve, especially in those late-game situations."

"I hope our offense is creative and energetic and I hope we play an entertaining brand of football for the fans."

Well, so much for that stuff.

It wasn't for a lack of effort, of course. The fans hate hearing that, because it's not something they can chew up and spit out like some of the other vitriol they launch at the club, but the truth is, the Ravens never stopped playing hard from day one until Ben Watson got hauled down a yard short of a first down on Sunday at 7:33 pm.

But is that good enough for Steve Bisciotti?

Should it be?

At what point will the record count for everything?

At what point will missing the playoffs three straight years simply be "not good enough"?

When will Bisciotti decide it's time to start over again? And does he, personally, have the energy for that?

I've had a lot of people reach out to me over the last 36 hours to discuss what happened on Sunday night.

I tell them all the same thing, basically.

The Ravens aren't in the playoffs for a variety of reasons. There isn't just one reason. Not even close, in fact, to just "one reason". They're not in the playoffs, by the smallest of margins, because along the way, they either didn't make it happen or couldn't make it happen.

Here's something to consider: If Marshal Yanda and Jimmy Smith are both able to play all 16 games, do you think the Ravens finish 9-7? Just those two players, staying healthy -- would that have been enough to push the Ravens past their 9-7 mark?

I think so, yes.

But -- also consider this. If Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, DeShaun Watson and Andrew Luck play against the Ravens in 2017, would the Ravens have finished with their 9-7 record?

I don't think so.

So, for every injury complaint you can make for the Ravens, there's the same complaint made on the other side of the field as well.

But, speaking specifically about Sunday night's game, as an example, a healthy Jimmy Smith might have been enough for the Ravens to win that game.

How much does thinking like that influence Bisciotti as he evaluates what to do with his organization?

From what little I gathered on Monday doing my usual sniffing around, it seems like John Harbaugh's job is safe.

Joe Flacco indicated to the media on Monday he believes Marty Mornhinweg will return as the team's offensive coordinator. Flacco doesn't make that call, of course, but Flacco said, "our relationship is developing well", a further indicator that things must be copacetic between the quarterback and Mornhinweg.

We know Dean Pees is gone. Jerry Rosburg's back, without question, unless he gets a head coaching job somewhere, which isn't out of the question.

So........that leaves who, exactly?

That leaves Ozzie Newsome.

Back in November, a bird on a tree told me not to be surprised if Ozzie steps away from his full-time GM duties with the Ravens at the end of the (2017) season. He'd still be involved, sort of like a GM-emeritus, but Ozzie would turn the full day-to-day duties over to Eric DeCosta, who has been waiting for his chance to run the club for going on a decade now.

That same "bird" reiterated those words again yesterday.

"Ozzie's never getting fired by the Baltimore Ravens," the source said. "That's just never going to happen. But that doesn't mean he'll be here forever, because he won't be."

Indeed, the Ravens and particularly Steve Bisciotti would never "dismiss" Newsome. He's simply been too valuable, too professional and too productive for them to ever kick him to the curb in a way that would humiliate him.

But based on the results of the last five years, and the productivity of the team's draft classes since winning the Super Bowl in 2013, the sun has apparently set on Ozzie Newsome's wizardry.

That's me talking now. As someone who watches the games, understands the importance of young-player-circulation and grasps how vital the salary cap is to any team's success, most of the Ravens issues trace back to lack of quality football players.

It's that simple.

Could the coaches do better?

Sure. So could probably two dozen other coaching staffs around the league.

Could the quarterback play better?

Without question.

Did the injuries hurt the Ravens in 2016 and 2017?

Is it time for Eric DeCosta (right) to finally get his long-awaited shot at running the Ravens football department?

You bet they did.

But the view from 35,000 feet is this: The football players haven't been good enough, from 1 to 53, to get the job done.

And that, to me, falls on the guy who picks the players. That falls on Ozzie Newsome.

Is it Newsome's fault that C.J. Mosley, Eric Weddle and Maurice Canady all misplayed the Dalton-to-Boyd TD throw late in Sunday's game? No. And yes.

It's not Ozzie's fault they didn't play the right coverage. But they were all on the team because Ozzie picked them.

And this one's going to sting, but the truth sometimes does. The Ravens are LIGHT YEARS behind the Steelers when it comes to having dynamic, impact, creative and "today's NFL" kind of players.

Yes, their quarterback has a lot to do with it. And things will likely change in the Steel City once Ben Roethlisberger's day is done. But if they keep the Bell's, Brown's and Smith-Schuster's of the world -- and continue to draft well like they've been doing -- they're going to keep on being perennial contenders in Pittsburgh.

And let's look at their coaching situation for a minute. Yep, Tomlin's been there for a decade-plus, now. But they've had a handful of different coordinators in Tomlin's tenure and the Steelers have just kept on chugging right along.

Everyone predicted their demise when Todd Haley showed up to the run the offense. Every time I watch the Steelers they score 35 points.

When Dick LeBeau left, NFL followers couldn't wait to bury Pittsburgh, what with one of the league's all-time best defensive minds up and leaving for the Titans. Two straight AFC North titles, a 13-3 record this year, and a reasonable chance at the Super Bowl if things go their way. Dick LeBeau who?

Football players, folks.

You have to find good football players.

The Ravens haven't had enough of them over the last three years. Their draft proves that point time and time again.

Is it that the players they pick aren't good enough? Is the scheme they're playing not appropriate for their skill set? Are they not improving once they get to Baltimore?

Someone at 1 Winning Drive has to do a deep dive into those three questions and come up with real answers.

Not for the fans.

Not for the media.

For themselves.

There's a story for another day about how the city is disengaged with the brand of football the Ravens have been playing. We'll tackle that (and have been tackling that) later this week.

But for the Ravens to get better in 2018, they must start with a self-scout on why they don't have enough good players.

They're either picking the wrong guys or not getting them ready for the NFL level once they come to Baltimore.

They have to figure that out.

And Steve Bisciotti has to decide who to believe once that data is compiled. Does he have faith in the guys who have failed three straight years? Or is time to turn over the project to new people with new ideas and new perspectives?

Coaching is an issue for the Ravens, but it's nowhere near their biggest issue.

Quarterback play is an issue for the Ravens, but it's nowhere near their biggest issue.

Injuries have been an issue for the Ravens, but it hasn't been their biggest issue.

Getting a quality roster from 1 to 53 has been the team's biggest challenge over the last few years.

It starts with the draft.

It extends to management's philosophy on "how to win in the NFL".

And it ends with bringing in the right veteran players who can fit in the system and transition smoothly while still being able to use their talents.

The Ravens need to do a much better job of that.

The question is: Who's going to lead the charge?

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



Let's take a trip down memory lane. Specifically to May 8th, 2014, and the NFL Draft.

The Baltimore Ravens owned the 17th pick in the first round that year, after following up a victory in Super Bowl 47 with a sometimes ugly 8-8 campaign in the 2013 regular season. It was the highest the franchise had picked on the draft's first day since the Harbaugh-Flacco era began, and was dubbed by many heading in to the night as a watershed moment for the team.

The Ravens took Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley with that pick, and the organization's senior management personnel couldn't have been happier afterwards. "He's the one guy that you can't find anyone to say anything bad about him," gushed director of college scouting Joe Hortiz.

"There's no question in my mind he's going to be ready to play from day one," added Ozzie Newsome.

"You're going to love him," head coach John Harbaugh added. Assistant General Manager Eric Decosta even went so far as to claim Mosley would have been the top player on the Ravens' board at the tenth overall pick, implying that the Ravens had him rated more highly (and by implication would have selected him over) such prospects as Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham Jr., Aaron Donald, Ryan Shazier, and Zach Martin.

Four seasons later and that 2014 draft indeed stands as a watershed moment for the franchise, and Mosley embodies the position that the franchise is currently in quite well. The middle linebacker has been named to the Pro Bowl 3 times already in his career, including during his rookie season. He's a tackling machine who's always among his positions statistical leaders, is well respected among his peers, and by all accounts is a tremendous leader of the defense on the field.

C.J. Mosley. Pro Bowl player unfairly maligned in Baltimore? Or is the first round pick in 2014 a symbol of the team's ineffective draft classes in recent years?

And on Sunday night, the Ravens season came to a crashing halt when Andy Dalton dropped a 4th and 12 pass over Mosley's outstretched hand as the linebacker got confused in his zone coverage assignment on one of the season's most crucial plays.

That's not an aberration either. Mosley is consistently a liability in pass coverage (honestly anytime he has to get out and chase a play in space) and opposing offensive coordinators routinely design and call plays to target him directly in those situations.

I'm a big believer in the idea that one of the best things to consider when evaluating a player is the way that opposing coaching staffs approach them. A defensive lineman consistently being double teamed or a corner back who teams won't throw the ball against? Those are good players that other teams are afraid of challenging.

Mosley is the opposite: Opposing offenses want to isolate and attack him in these circumstances. He's clearly seen as a soft underbelly in the Ravens' passing defense when he's in coverage rather than blitzing (which he excels at, I should add).

This isn't necessarily to pick on Mosley, or even to argue that he was a bad pick. Those aforementioned Pro Browlers were all off the board already when the Ravens turn came up, and no one picked after Mosley in that first round has produced to nearly the degree he has. But the story doesn't end with Mosley, either.

With their second round pick in 2014, the Ravens took defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan from Florida State. Five picks later the Packers selected wide receiver Davante Adams. Thirteen picks after the Ravens selected Jernigan, the Jaguars drafted Penn State All-American Allen Robinson, and two picks after that the Dolphins took LSU receiver Jarvis Landry.

Jernigan had a nice -- if not up-and-down -- tenure in Baltimore before being shipped out so the team could move up in the third round of the 2016 draft after selecting a host of other defensive tackles in recent years. Oh, and Landry broke the NFL record for most receptions in the first four years of a player's career in 2017. In Week 9.

Again, this isn't an isolated occurrence. In 2012 the Ravens selected Alabama linebacker Courtney Upshaw ten picks before Alshon Jeffrey was drafted by Chicago.

In 2013, they traded up to draft middle linebacker Arthur Brown when Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen, and Jordan Reed all would have been available at their original second round draft choice.

It's easy to pick through draft classes and identify misses when you know how a guy's career panned out, but after a while you also have to concede that a team who misses so many Pro Bowlers in the near vicinity of their picks is simply failing to do a good job of scouting and evaluating these prospects. And don't miss the fact that it was defensive players that the Ravens selected over all of these Pro Bowl receivers and tight ends, either.

As Drew wrote here at #DMD on Monday, the Ravens as an organization have some real problems that are holding the franchise back at the moment, and those problems begin with the way they're approaching player evaluations and roster building...and the people making those decisions.

The problem doesn't lie with playcalling (which wasn't that bad on Sunday and probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference at the margins anyway) or even necessarily with head coach John Harbaugh. Yes the Ravens are only 40-40 since winning that Super Bowl, but there are a bunch of teams who have been worse than that over the same period and don't have a Lombardi trophy backstopping it.

Yes, Harbaugh has been in this job a long time for one head coach, but for as much as you might talk about a coach's "message getting stale" remember that there is A LOT of roster turnover in the NFL. In fact, there are only 9 players from the 2012 roster still with the team, and Morgan Cox, Sam Koch, and Justin Tucker make up 1/3 of that group. Just because the jerseys are the same doesn't mean that Harbaugh's been preaching to the same team for 10 years now.

But changing the coaches won't change the deficiencies the team is saddled with year after year thanks to the front office's priorities and biases when it comes to scouting, signing, and drafting players.

A new head coach won't make Ozzie Newsome place a high priority on adding impact pass catchers on offense, and it certainly won't make him suddenly good at evaluating wide receiver prospects.

What did the Steelers see in Antonio Brown coming out of college that the Ravens didn't?

It won't make the front office stop defaulting to defensive players over offensive players for whatever reason it is that they do that. It won't get them to stop evaluating defensive lineman and linebackers through the prism of run defense first, or from drafting raw athletes who's skill sets don't fit either the team's defensive scheme nor their roster needs. It won't fix a linebacking group that somehow struggles both to cover passes and stop the run.

And it definitely won't fix any of this when Ozzie inevitably decides that he just can't pass up a chance to draft the next Timmy Jernigan, Willie Henry, Matt Judon, Carl Davis, or Chris Wormley.

Oh, speaking of Wormley, we won't even get in to all of the second and third round picks who haven't been able to get on the field in the past 5-8 years for the Ravens, but only because I could (and will) fill up an entire column on that.

The trickier question, however, is what the Ravens should do about this roster issue.

The simple, satisfying, answer is to clean house, fire everyone, and bring in new people. Awesome people! The kind of head coach, general manager, and front office personnel who are perfect in every way, guaranteed to bring a dynasty to their new team in no time at all, and also just happen to not be presently employed by another NFL franchise despite being so amazingly fantastic in every single way.

In the real world, Steve Bisciotti is in a tremendously difficult position.

His team needs some big changes, but at the same time they're not actually a bad team. For crying out loud we're all kvetching that the team is a mere 40-40 since winning a Super Bowl and missed the playoffs for three straight seasons despite going 8-8 and 9-7 in two of those years.

The Browns have lost 31 games in the last two seasons!

Before this year, the Bills hadn't made the playoffs this century.

We're not talking about an organization that is completely cratering like the Giants did this year or something, or coaches and executives who have totally forgotten how to do their jobs. Which, again, makes the decision a lot harder for Steve Bisciotti.

Remember that for as much as Eagles fans though they wanted to be rid of Andy Reid, he started looking really good after a couple of seasons with Chip Kelly in charge, and they might still be pining for him if the Browns had decided to just go ahead and draft Carson Wentz.

The ideal scenario here is a deeply critical introspection on the part of everyone in the organization, a clear eyed realization of what it is that everyone does poorly (and does well for that matter), and a plan to address that going forward.

But again, that's a whole lot easier said than done, and if correcting mistakes was that easy there'd be a lot more people leading NFL teams to Super Bowl championships.

And not only is reinventing yourself or your organization like that difficult, recognizing the problem in the first place is the most difficult step of all, and there's not a lot of evidence to suggest that Newsome, DeCosta, et. al. are fully aware of their own problems as a brain trust.

But hey, at least this year's draft has a lot of good defensive tackle prospects to pick from!

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his third season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2016-17 season.


terps host pesky penn state tonight


About a month ago, Terps head basketball coach, Mark Turgeon, had a problem trying to shorten his rotation of players. He understood that winning in the Big Ten was probably not possible with 9 or 10 guys getting significant minutes.

He doesn’t have to worry about that now.

Justin Jackson is out for the year with a torn labrum and Ivan Bender just went down with a torn meniscus in his left knee. He too, is done for the year. Turgeon has whole new set of problems to solve.

The biggest question? Who at Maryland can defend the four spot in Big Ten play?

The loss of Justin Jackson leaves a huge void.

The Terps have no other player that can remotely match the size, length, and athleticism of the 6’8” sophomore. While Jackson’s offensive game didn’t even meet his own expectations, his rebounding and defensive abilities will be sorely missed.

#DMD's Dale Williams expects a big offensive night from Kevin Huerter on Tuesday as Maryland hosts Penn State in a Big 10 matchup in College Park.

In his absence, Turgeon elected to start junior Jerad Nickens during Maryland’s win over UMBC. Starting against the Retrievers is one thing, but Nickens is way too small and not nearly tough enough to defend Big Ten forwards.

Losing Jackson’s defensive versatility will force Turgeon to constantly monitor the opposing lineups and react accordingly.

Another option at the four could be Kevin Huerter, but against Penn State that would put him up against the 6’8” Lamar Stevens.

Huerter is a solid defender and I wouldn’t put it past him to do a credible job on Stevens, but that defensive load may take a toll on Huerter’s offensive production and it may increase the risk of foul trouble for him. If either one of those things happen, you can put tonight’s game against Penn State into the loss column.

Instead of trying to pick out the Terp defender at the “four”, let’s use some deductive reasoning and see who is left.

Anthony Cowan remains at the point and might be checking the 6’2” senior, Shep Garner. That’s not a bad matchup for the home Terps. Garner is a solid and crafty senior, but Cowan’s quickness will be a problem for Garner.

I’m hoping to see Maryland’s Darryl Morsell lock horns with the Nittany Lions leading scorer (and former Terp target) Tony Carr. Carr is lighting it up for almost 19 points per game and knocks down about 53% of his three point tries. The 6’5” guard is very adept at creating his own shot and will be a real test for Morsell or occasionally Huerter. Morsell / Carr could be real fun to watch.

I expect to see Huerter locked onto Josh Reeves. Reeves, at 6’4”, won’t put as much defensive pressure on Huerter as would either Carr or Stevens. "Advantage Maryland" in this match-up.

Under the basket, Penn State has a legitimate pro prospect in Mike Watkins (6’9”, 254 lbs.). Watkins uses his impressive wingspan to play like a seven-footer. While his interior offensive moves aren’t polished, he can hurt you inside. Nittany Lion guards are always looking for a lob pass to get the easy dunk by Watkins.

Watkins can block shots also. His 49 blocks so far this year nearly doubles that of the Terp shot block leader, Bruno Fernando. Watkins is different around the basket than the massive Purdue duo that caused so much trouble for Maryland in the Terp loss a few weeks ago.

Opposing players tend to challenge Watkins more frequently, because, at “ONLY” 6’9”, he doesn’t appear to be as imposing as Hass and Haarms from Purdue. That philosophy generally doesn’t work too well. Watkins’ arms are sneaky long.

I’m hoping to see Michal Cekovsky get the start at the center position tonight and go head-to-head with Watkins. That would leave us one guy to match up with Stevens: Bruno Fernando. There is no way that Stevens can handle Bruno on the low blocks. If Watkins chooses to help, Ceko becomes an easy target.

In the first half of the UMBC game, the Terps were out-rebounded, 23-21.

Nickens played 12 minutes, Cekovsky played 6. The second half saw Ceko get 10 minutes of action while Nickens was reduced to 6. I look for that trend to continue tonight. Ceko will see more time and Nickens will be back to playing sparingly.

Losing Bender for the season has nowhere near the impact of losing Jackson, but his replacements don’t offer the same level of quality minutes that Bender has been able to give the Terps.

Ceko will see more time (and that’s a big plus), as will the Duke transfer Sean Obi.

Joshua Tomaic might also find his way onto the court but he’s a project that is not ready for the Big 10.

The problem for Turgeon has switched from, “How do I find minutes for all of these guys?” to “Where do I find guys for all of these minutes?”.

Despite Penn State having what I believe is the stronger starting five (Carr and Watkins would be sure fire starters if they were playing at College Park), the Terps can win tonight’s game (7pm start) at the Xfinity Center if the do a couple of important things right.

First, and this is no surprise, they need to take care of the ball.

Teams coached by Nittany Lion head coach, Pat Chambers, are aggressive defensively and accumulate steals through pressure. If Anthony Cowan can handle the pressure, then Maryland should be able to get good looks from their offensive sets.

Carr will get his points, but Maryland needs to limit Stevens (14.1 ppg) and Watkins (12.4 ppg). Consistent easy buckets by these two are a recipe for disaster.

Maryland must stay out of foul trouble. With an injury depleted roster, the Terps cannot afford foul trouble that forces Turgeon to go deep into his bench.

Lastly, make Watson run the floor. He’s big and long, but his stamina is suspect. He’s not nearly as effective after a few hard trips up and down the court.

The odds-makers must think that Maryland can accomplish the above outlined tasks as they the Terps as an early 5.5 point favorite.

Until I see Maryland play, and defeat, quality competition without help form Justin Jackson, I can’t lay points against a Penn State team that may fight for a tournament bid.

However, the Nittany Lions can get a bit sloppy at times, and tonight may be one of those nights. The Terps’ home court advantage will propel them to a victory, but they’ll have to sweet it out.

Maryland wins 75-73 behind 20 points from Huerter, 18 from Cowan, and a big night on the glass from Fernando and Cekovsky.

Monday
January 1
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issue 1
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ravens face deep internal dive after choking away playoff spot


Happy New Year.

No, you're not badly hungover. The Ravens really did lose to the Bengals yesterday.

Back in early September when I provided my season preview piece here at #DMD: here's the exact quote I used to forecast what I thought we'd see from the Ravens in the 2017 season: "I'm calling this a 9-7 season for the Ravens. They'll be in the playoff hunt in December, but 9-7 won't get them into the post-season, unfortunately."

Trust me, I'm not all that thrilled about hitting that one right on the button.

And believe me, also, when I tell you that I had no idea the Ravens would allow the lowly Cincinnati Bengals to drive the length of the field in the game's final three minutes to win 31-27 yesterday and potentially mark a changing of the guard in Baltimore.

Ozzie Newsome? It might be time for a new face in the GM desk.

John Harbaugh? A decade in one place is a long time. For any NFL coach.

Marty Mornhinweg? The Ravens need an upgrade in that spot.

Dean Pees? See above.

The list can go on and on. There are also better football players needed, too. But that loss on Sunday and their own self destruction at the 11th hour might lead Steve Bisciotti to do what many had hoped he would do a year ago -- clean house.

Is it time for Ozzie Newsome's two decade run in Baltimore to come to an end?

And despite their years of success and all the proud moments people like Newsome, Harbaugh and Pees have given the football fans of Baltimore, there's simply no way anyone could object -- except those who get fired, naturally -- if Bisciotti hands out a stackful of pink slips in January and says, "We're starting over".

I remarked yesterday before the game that if the Ravens somehow lost AND both Tennessee and Buffalo won, it would create an eerily similar ending to the one experienced by the U.S. men's soccer team in November when they lost their final World Cup qualifying game at Trinidad and Panama and Honduras both scored late goals in their games to eliminate the Americans from this summer's event in Russia.

Everything that could have gone wrong for the Ravens yesterday, did go wrong.

The Titans played a Jacksonville team who were probably only about 50% interested. Titans win, 15-10. Strike one.

The Bills went to warm Miami and got to tangle with a lousy Dolphins team. Bills win, 22-16. Strike two.

And then the Ravens lose at home to the Bengals. On a 4th and 12 touchdown throw. Strike three.

It's all their fault, of course, but if anything else except what happens, happens, the Ravens live to play another day.

Maybe they shouldn't have lost to Mitch Trubisky and the Bears back in October in Baltimore, right?

The coaching staff is in everyone's crosshairs today and will be for a while, if they remain intact, of course.

But the truth is, the Ravens clearly have some player-quality issues as well. Sure, someone has to pick the players, and that's a root-issue we can address at length this week and next, but what happened in the final three minutes of yesterday's game is much more the fault of the 11 guys on the field than the coaching staff.

The Baltimore defense -- "as playoff ready as any in the entire NFL" one talking head said yesterday at noon -- once again allowed an opposing team to drive the length of the field and steal a game they had no business winning.

Look, I get it when Roethlisberger, Bell, Brown, James and Smith-Schuster do it to you. Those guys are freakin' good.

But when Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tyler Kroft and Joe Mixon do it to you, you're in trouble.

Despite giving John Harbaugh a contract extension last summer, Steve Bisciotti has a tough decision on his hands in the wake of the Ravens shocking loss to the Bengals on Dec. 31.

And let's look at this from 35,000 feet instead of ground level. "This", meaning, the late-game defensive collapses, has been going on for a while now. It happened a lot last season, too, remember, which is one of the reasons why the Ravens drafted defense, defense, defense last spring.

The Ravens apparently have some very talented defensive players. Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley, Brandon Williams, Za'Darius Smith, Matthew Judon...just to name a handful.

If they're so talented, how come other teams keep turning the tables on them in the final quarter of games?

And please, stop right now if you blurt out "COACHING" as the reason why it keeps happening. It's not just coaching. At some point, football players have to make plays.

The Bengals exploited Mosley in coverage several times, including the game-winning TD throw when he didn't fall back far enough in their zone coverage and left an open seam for Dalton to find Boyd.

Suggs was a virtual no-show on Sunday.

Smith, the same.

Judon had one terrific fourth quarter sack but he was a ghost all afternoon.

Weddle has been on the field -- and involved in the actual play -- in several of the late-game collapses that afflicted the Ravens over the last two years. He was beat in New York last year when Odell Beckham Jr. caught the game-winning TD. He was right there in the mix on the Antonio Brown catch-and-extend in Pittsburgh last Christmas. He tried to strip the ball from Jordan Howard's hands instead of just making a tackle when the Bears' running back scampered 53 yards to set up Chicago's game-winning field goal in Baltimore earlier this season.

I'm not picking on Weddle individually. Merely pointing out the obvious: When it comes time for him to make a key play late in the game, he fails to do so. A lot.

Players have to make plays. And when they don't, you lose.

The issue facing the Ravens is this: Are they picking the right players?

That's what Bisciotti and Dick Cass have to really dig into and figure out. The trend -- three straight years without making the playoffs -- tells this uneducated eye that it's time to give someone else an opportunity to pick the players. But that's just me.

The other most obvious issue facing Bisciotti is that of John Harbaugh's status.

This is the owner's very worst nightmare. He has stood by Harbaugh -- and rightfully so -- through good times and bad times, which is what outstanding organizations do with their head coaches.

But Bisciotti has to strongly consider bringing in a new coach at this point.

And it's not all about football, either.

The city is down on the Ravens. Not the entire city, mind you, but enough of the city has lost interest in the organization that Bisciotti has to spend some time figuring that out, too. And now, losing to the Bengals? Even more folks are liable to do something else with their money and their Sunday afternoons.

Someone much smarter than me has likely already told Bisciotti this, but the franchise needs a makeover. They don't just need a new paint job and some fresh, new wheels. The Ravens need a new engine. They need, essentially, a better, faster, more reliable car.

The old car was great for 10 years.

It provided us with a lot of awesome memories.

But it's time for something better.

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rebuilding plan starts with flacco


There will be lots of folks in town calling for Joe Flacco's head in the wake of yesterday's loss. His first-half performance, along with the entire team, for that matter, wasn't very good.

But, as is always the case with Flacco, there's more to it than meets the eye.

As the Ravens sift through the wreckage of yesterday's late-game collapse to the Bengals and start to make plans for 2018 and beyond, here's where they'll need to start: They simply MUST get Flacco more quality players on the offensive side of the ball.

And please, please, please. Don't be the person who says, "We just need to get rid of Flacco!"

They can't get rid of Flacco. His contract situation simply doesn't allow for it. The very earliest they could contemplate moving away from Flacco would be 2019 and even then, it would cost them $16 million on the salary cap to do it.

You'd have this look, too, if you didn't have any wide receivers to throw to all season.

No, the best solution for the time being is to get Flacco some help. Real help. Somehow.

Here's the list of quarterbacks going to the playoffs in January: Brady, Roethlisberger, Bortles, Smith, Mariota and Taylor in the AFC. Foles (by default), Keenum, Goff, Brees, Newton and Ryan in the NFC.

Bortles, Mariota, Taylor, Keenum -- all four of them would be back-ups to Flacco in Baltimore. Or, let's just say this: Prior to this season they would have been back-ups. Bortles had a wildly surprising year in Jacksonville and Keenum came out of nowhere to lead the Vikings to the #2 seed in the NFC.

All of that is to say, basically -- The Ravens have a quarterback. He's not great. He's not terrible, either. If the Jacksonville Jaguars can go to the playoffs with Blake Bortles and the Buffalo Bills can go to the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor, the Ravens can certainly go to the playoffs with Joe Flacco at the helm.

In fact, if not for the defensive collapse yesterday, the Ravens would be going to the playoffs this season -- with Flacco.

None of this suggests that the Ravens shouldn't be looking to the future to figure out what they're going do at quarterback in, say, 2019, 2020 and beyond. Flacco can't play forever, obviously.

But given his contract situation, the Ravens have to accept the obvious and move forward with the obvious intent of giving him some offensive weapons next season.

How do they get them? That's where the GM comes in.

And then we're back to the discussion in the column above, where Steve Bisciotti and Dick Cass have to seriously consider whether Ozzie Newsome's philosophy is a fit for today's NFL.

If the Ravens look at what happened yesterday and decide once again to spend their off-season efforts on improving the team's defense, they're simply spinning their wheels.

I think they're smarter than that at 1 Winning Drive. I think they know Flacco needs help.

Oh, and Flacco himself has to play better. He had several poorly thrown balls in yesterday's loss to the Bengals that could have changed the course of the game. Then, right on cue, he threw balls to Wallace, Collins and Moore that were all dropped.

And Flacco himself contributed in the slightest of ways to the late-game Bengals drive by dirting the ball on the Ravens' penultimate series and stopping the clock after he couldn't find anyone open on 3rd down. Why not just fall to the ground there, accept a one yard loss, and let the clock keep ticking? Cincinnati either lets it run down and the Ravens punt with about 2:15 left in the game or they use their final time-out.

Flacco's inability to understand the nuances of the game in those situations is maddening. Especially when you make $20 million.

But for better or worse, he's the team's quarterback. At least in 2018. And likely, even in 2019.

It's time for the Ravens to change their course of direction and think offense this off-season. Offense, offense, offense.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


Only hours after the conclusion of the weekend action, the busy Festive Fixtures will draw to a close this week when Matchday 22 of the English Premier League gets underway later today. It has been a wild two weeks and a much deserved respite from league play will allow every team to regroup for either a top four run or survival from the bottom three as we head well in to the second half of the season. Tune in with all of the action available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Monday, January 1 (all times eastern)

12:30pm – Manchester United @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC

Man United skipper Jose Mourhino takes his team to Everton today to face a red-hot Gunners squad.

After wasting several chances throughout to take all three points, Manchester United were held to a third draw in as many weeks with the result against Southampton knocking the Red Devils out of the second spot they have held since the season’s opening month. Now officially in to the five-team fight for the final three Champions League places next season, they will have to return to winning ways when they wrap up the New Year’s Day slate with a trip to Everton, who saw their seven-match unbeaten run come to an end when they lost for the first time under manager Sam Allardyce 2-1 to Bournemouth.

Although the loss does little to effect Everton in the table, where they are sitting comfortably in the top half after flirting with the relegation places earlier in the year, old problems, including a leaky defense and a stagnant offense, resurfaced in the setback that plagued the Toffees throughout the first half of the campaign and that will have to be remedied quickly against a United side that ran their unbeaten run against their hosts to six games across all competitions (W4 D2) after the 4-0 drubbing in the reverse fixture back in September and who are unbeaten in their last three trips to Goodison Park (W2 D1).

Wednesday, January 3 (all times eastern)

2:45pm – Chelsea @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC Sports Network

A London Derby will take center stage on Wednesday afternoon when Chelsea, who remained unbeaten in their last five in the league (D1) after they dismantled Stoke City 5-0 to move a point ahead of Manchester United in to second place and push the Potters closer to the relegation zone and a fight for top flight survival over the second half of the season, travel across the capitol for a meeting with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, with the Gunners conceding a penalty that was converted one minute from full time to share the points in a 1-1 draw with second from the bottom West Brom.

Although unbeaten in their last six, the draw was the fourth time that Arsenal has left points on the table, with three of those results coming against teams in the bottom third of the table. They will need to start going one better if they hope to stay within sight of the top four and can begin those efforts in the midweek with the visit from Chelsea, whom they are unbeaten against in their last three across all competitions and have only one loss in their last five (W3 D1), however they had failed to walk away with anything the last three times they have hosted the Blues at the Emirates Stadium (L3).

Thursday, January 4 (all times eastern)

3pm – West Ham United @ Tottenham – Wembley Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Another London Derby will wrap up the Festive Fixtures and foster in a nine-day break across the league when Tottenham welcome east London neighbors West Ham United to Wembley Stadium, with Spurs needing to navigate what is now a potential bogey trip to Swansea City the day before after the Swans began to show signs of life in manager Carlos Carvalhal’s first game in charge with a dramatic win at the weekend, while West Ham United must face a relegation showdown against the increasingly desperate West Bromwich Albion less than forty-eights prior to the trip to Wembley.

Tottenham rebounded from their 4-1 defeat to Manchester City two weekends ago with a win against top four hopeful and surprise Burnley before putting an absolute beating on to Southampton the week after to continue their top four charge, however they still sit four points off the pace and a point behind arch rivals Arsenal in sixth place. All three points against near the bottom West Ham will be a must although they have managed to only trade results with the Hammers across their last six meetings in all competitions (W3 L3) and drop three of the last six they have played host to their neighbors (W2 D1).

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changes coming for #dmd


Welcome to 2018!

Despite yesterday's awful Ravens loss, we're moving into the New Year with lots of excitement.

Several new marketing partners will be introduced over the next couple of weeks and a brand new feature starts tomorrow morning here at #DMD that will give you a chance to hear me (I know, maybe you don't think that's a good thing) talk sports for a few minutes every weekday morning.

We also have a couple of new events to announce as well, and we'll be doing that over the next ten days.

Things are percolating nicely here at #DMD and we're excited to have you with us in 2018.

We'll also have an announcement regarding some changes within our writing staff, so look for those as well.





Drew is here.

Every weekday.





breakfast bytes

Tampa's Snell continues Cy Young chase, improves to 14-5, Rays beat Yankees in NY, 3-1.

Former Oriole Brad Brach blows save in 9th, Braves lose at home to Rockies, 5-3.

Marlins' Urena suspended six games for hitting Braves' Acuna on Wednesday.

PGA Tour: Snedeker becomes 9th TOUR player to shoot 59 in first round of Wyndham.


Adam Hadwin