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January 31
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when should turgeon feel some heat?


Unless something wacky happens over the next month, the Maryland Terrapins are going to miss this year's NCAA tournament.

A somewhat-shocker-of-a-win tonight at Purdue would help, for sure, but the Terps have their work cut out for them if they want to play mid-March basketball in six weeks.

It happens. Teams like Maryland, talented but not overloaded with greatness, need just about everything to go right for them in order to make some noise in the regular season.

The early-season loss of Justin Jackson was a crippling blow, for sure, and the season-ending injury to Ivan Bender probably hurt the Terps more than we all realized it might.

But is Maryland's program showing growth?

Are they inching closer and closer to being among the Big Ten's elite? Or is the rise to the top slower than it should be?

And how much responsbility does Mark Turgeon have in all of it?

If Maryland fails to make the NCAA tournament this season, that's four "misses" in seven years for Mark Turgeon. When is that sort of percentage not good enough any longer?

We all know who runs Duke's basketball program. It certainly doesn't hurt that Coach K gets a handful of highly talented high schoolers to join him every November and tee it up. But even then, there's no guarantee that winning will follow those kids to Durham.

Duke wins because they have talented players and an extraordinary coach. You can argue which of the two is more important if you like.

The Michigan State team we just saw in College Park isn't quite "Duke North", but it wears the same cologne. It smells a lot like Duke, at least in the Big Ten. Tom Izzo gets high quality high school kids to join him in East Lansing and then he coaches them up.

What's stopping Maryland and Mark Turgeon from becoming great?

Now in his 7th season at College Park, Turgeon has an interesting statistical profile on Route 1.

In his first three years, all spent in the ACC, he and the Terps never once made it to the NCAA tournament.

But since then, all three of those years in the Big Ten, Maryland has made it to the Big Dance three straight times.

Their biggest tournament flaw? Turgeon has never been able to get the Terps as far as the Elite Eight of March Madness.

At one point in the 2015-2016 season, the Terps were the #2 ranked team in the country. They finished the regular season ranked 18th, lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten semifinals, and advanced to the NCAA tournament where they beat a couple of stiffs before being sent home in the Sweet Sixteen game by Kansas.

Last year, of course, they were dumped by a pesky Northwestern squad in the Big Ten quarterfinals and then bowed out meekly to Xavier in the opening round of the NCAA tourney.

This year...they need a miracle of some kind down the stretch to earn their way into the NCAA tournament for the fourth year.

At what point does Mark Turgeon start feeling heat?

Or is he actually over-performing given the talent he's had?

Turgeon's strength, the experts say, comes in recruiting.

His in-game flaws have been talked about for a long time, dating all the way back to his days at Wichita State, but the guy he replaced at Maryland -- Gary Williams -- was known as one of the best X's and O's guys in the sport. Perhaps we're judging Turgeon through the same lens we used to study Williams during his two-decade run at Maryland.

Whatever the case -- an abundance of talent and iffy coaching, or, decent talent and better coaching than we realize -- the basketball program at Maryland hasn't reached any sort of greatness with Mark Turgeon at the helm.

Not yet, anyway.

How much longer will people sit around and watch the Terps flame out in the Big Ten tournament and then win a game or two in March Madness before it starts to get old?

Or it is old now?

Have the folks in College Park seen enough to know Turgeon isn't the guy to get Maryland to the next level?

Or is where they're at right now good enough for everyone down there?

I'm not the coach-firing, knee-jerk guy who clamors for "win or else" kind of seasons in order for the coach to keep his job.

As the Terps have showed this year with the injuries to Jackson and Bender, things happen along the way for which you couldn't have planned.

But at some point -- relatively soon -- Turgeon has to start elevating the Maryland basketball program to new heights.

That's why he gets paid the big bucks.

What we've seen from him in seven seasons so far has been good, but not much more than that.

And, speaking for myself, at least, I expected more.

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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.



The recent run of labor peace in Major League Baseball has been one of sports great underappreciated stories in the past several years. Once the epicenter of vicious fights between owners and players, MLB has been without any serious labor contention since 2002.

That might be changing very soon.

This winter's frozen free agent market has generated a steadily increasing amount of heat between the union and the league. Union officials have implied that the owners are colluding, critics of union head Tony Clark are telling reporters he'll be pushed out by unhappy players, and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen openly mused about a strike over the weekend.

And it hasn't helped that the biggest movers of the off-season have been the Marlins, motivated by a desire to rapidly cut payroll to generate profits for creditors, a situation commissioner Rob Manfred approved and then lied about later.

The problem is that there's no clear way out of the trap baseball is in now. We've been slowly inching our way to this point for years now as more and more people came to accept that big free agent deals are a bad bargain for teams and a poor allocation of payroll resources.

Two years ago, some folks who follow MLB thought Manny Machado might garner a $400 million deal when he becomes a free agent in 2018-2019. Now, that number looks more like $200 million. But why?

The explosion of big contract extensions when the local television windfall came pouring in exacerbated the issue by shrinking the number of premier free agents in the South side of 30 available to be signed.

The result is pretty bleak from the players perspective. Despite playing in the league with no salary cap, MLB players have been earning a lower share of league revenues than their NFL and NBA counterparts for years now. What's mire the union has fecklessly, even enthusiastically, acquiesced to the luxury tax and significant restraints on amateur spending.

And while it may we'll make sense to spend on free agents over 30, it also represents a significant shift in the foundation of baseball's labor market that the players are not going to tolerate for long.

The nature of sports salaries is really pretty odd.

In most industries you gain skills and knowledge over time thanks to experience, and you get paid accordingly. In sports, you do that for awhile, then your physical abilities start to recede and you end your career getting less and less productive and earning less money most of the time.

Where things start to get weird is that earnings at the beginning of your career are restricted, and thus most players produce surplus value before hitting free agency that they expect to recoup. In essence, they expect to be paid for what they've done in their career. For the most part that's how the market has worked.

But smart executives don't pay players for what they've already done, they pay them for what they expect them to do, and that's what more teams are doing now. But if players can't expect to ever earn back the surplus value they produce in the first six years of their career, then the basic agreement holding up the system has collapsed.

That's where we are today.

The good news is that the possible solutions to the problem are simple ones. The bad news is that it's hard to see the two sides agreeing on any of them.

The players could agree to a salary cap in exchange for a payroll floor, but I'm not sure the owners would have enough interest in that at this point. It probably wouldn't help much either if the owners have learned that the value is in cheap young players and not aging free agents.

You see this in the NFL, where more and more money is going to a small number of premium talents, more younger players are filling out rosters, a journeyman veterans are left out in the cold.

More effectively, the union could and should push for a big increase in the minimum salary and shortening the arbitration period.

That would push more money to the players creating the most value while also getting players to the open market sooner. But aside from the fight that owners would put up over that, to center the interests ofyoung players over veterans and free agents like that would be a huge change in direction for the union.

Simply put, the players have a hard time accepting who is producing value, and tend to think that older players have "earned" the money. Which stops working when teams start paying for future production rather than past.

That's not to say anything of this is inevitable or that this year isn't just an outlier.

Or that the market won't change on its own for that matter.

Maybe this free agent class really is just abnormally weak and things will reset with next year's potentially historic class. Maybe more players will follow the lead of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper by foregoing extensions and pushing to free agency ASAP.

Any potential labor stoppage wouldn't come until 2021, so a lot can certainly happen between then and now.

But right now it's not looking good.

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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 tall task at purdue tonight


While leaving the XFINITY Center after Maryland had lost to Purdue, 80-75, on December 1st in College Park, I distinctly remember saying to some friends that the Terps just got beat by a potential Final Four team.

I also predicted that when the Terps traveled to West Lafayette later in the season (tonight), they could lose by 30.

Two months later, the Boilermaker squad that was unranked on December 1st is now ranked 3rd in the country and Maryland losing by 30 on the road to a top 5 team doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

Before feeling comfortable putting my “lose by 30” prediction into print here at #DMD, I needed to go over the tape of that Purdue win at College Park.

So, I watched the replay of the previous encounter with a keen eye on my preferred approach of, “What can we expect to happen again, and, what won’t happen again”.

Announcing that Maryland will lose by 30 might not surprise too many people. After all, Maryland has been destroyed twice on the road against ranked teams recently, and has lost 5 of their last 7 games overall.

It wouldn’t take a Nostradamus-like soothsayer to predict another Terp blowout loss tonight. But after watching the replay, my perception has changed.

Maryland can play with Purdue. I know, I’m crazy, right?

Maryland needs a big game tonight from sophomore guard Anthony Cowan if they hope to pull off the upset of Purdue on the road.

Here’s something that won’t happen again. Purdue’s Dakota Mathias will not go 7-7 from the field, 4-4 from the three-point line, and drop 18 points, in the first half. That’s what he did against Maryland earlier this year.

The kid is a solid all-around ballplayer and one of the most under-rated guards in the league, but that kind of marksmanship will not happen again. Maryland made some adjustments (despite the fact that some fans think they never make adjustments) and held Mathias scoreless from the field in the second half.

Justin Jackson won’t be around this time to help Maryland on the boards. While watching the game, I was quickly hit with a stark reminder of the importance of Jackson’s rebounding. Not only did he gather 6 offensive rebounds, but he tipped or deflected a ton of balls that were headed to Purdue would-be rebounders.

His loss has been significant and he played a major role in Maryland’s 37-34 advantage on the boards and their 16-6 upper hand on the offensive glass in that game two months ago. But it’s a good sign that Maryland outrebounded Purdue, nonetheless.

We can again expect Isaac Hass to toast Maryland defenders. He’s too big and nimble for any Terp to guard him if isolated. He went 10-13 from the field in their first encounter, but Coach Turgeon’s team did have some success on possessions where they double teamed him. I expect much more doubling down tonight.

While Jackson’s board work will be missed, the Terps will not miss the empty possessions that resulted from his 1 for 8 shooting. Darryl Morsell shot 3-16 that day also. That’s 20 empty trips, not accounting for offensive rebounds. The Maryland offense will be more efficient tonight.

Morsell still misses shots when he underestimates the jumping ability and strength of his defenders, but he’s a way better player now than he was on December 1st when he played his very first Big Ten game.

Bruno Fernando is also much more experienced now, and both appear to be healthy.

There’s a reason that Purdue is ranked #3.....they have really good players.

That being said, the matchups, with the exception of Haas, are not overwhelmingly in favor of Purdue. Cowan / P.J Thomas, Carson Edwards / Darryl Morsell, and Dakota Mathias / Kevin Huerter are near even match-ups.

If Maryland goes big and starts Fernando and Cekovsky, then the Terps will have an advantage with whoever Vincent Edwards has to guard. If the go smaller, with both Dion Wiley and Morsell in the game, then the matchups change and favor Purdue.

Either way, Maryland must find a way to keep Purdue from reaching their season norms for three-point percentage. The Boilermaker starters make 44% of their threes, a devastating number for upset minded opponents.

You can’t be slow to double down on Haas, or the kick out for the three-point shot will cause defenders problems. In the first game, Purdue made 9 of 20 triples. My elementary school math tells me that is 45%.

Purdue’s bench failed to score in that first game. Their reserves don’t get many minutes, and the drop off is considerable. Much like the Terps starting five, Purdue’s starters will all play over 30 minutes, with the exception of Haas.

Fatigue should be fairly equal on both sides tonight.

So, here’s what I see.

There’s always the chance that the young Terps will get rattled in what promises to be a raucous Mackey Arena against an experienced Purdue team starting four seniors.

But I think Maryland can get through that and put up a good fight tonight. Unless the Boilermakers get crazy from outside, the Terps will keep this game way closer than the 14.5 points that the oddsmakers say they need.

Huerter will make shots, Fernando will handle the challenge of playing against Haas, and Morsell will exhibit more control on the offensive end.

Can the Terps pull off the upset? I wouldn’t be shocked to see it. I’ll make the call for an 81-78 Purdue victory, but perhaps tonight Maryland gets that elusive road win against a ranked Big Ten team.

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coming soon: baltimore's biggest sports trivia contest -- ever


How well do you know your Baltimore sports trivia?

Do you have two friends who know it as well as you do?

Get your team of three together and compete for cash and prizes in #DMD's sports trivia contest, coming up in late March.

And can you answer 25 questions without the use of the internet or your cell phone?

We're talking from 1968 through 2018 -- 50 years worth of Baltimore sports trivia.

Can you and two friends ace the test?

If so, you'll want to sign up for #DMD's sports trivia contest, with a $2,000 first prize to the winning three-person team.

Sign-up details are coming later this week. For now, start chatting with your friends and see who wants to get in. The per-team entry fee is $75 and that includes food and drinks at the qualifying round your team will participate in (late March). The qualifying round will be on a Monday or Tuesday evening starting at 6:30 pm.

In the qualifying round, 16 teams of three will compete for six spots in the Finals. There will be four qualifying rounds. Your team can only compete in one qualifying round. A total of 24 teams of three will advance to the Finals.

First prize is $2,000 to the winning team and the teams finishing in 2nd through 6th place will also receive prizes.

Details and sign-up will begin later this week here at #DMD.

In the meantime, start assembling your team of three and brush up on that 50-year window of Baltimore sports trivia.

80% of the questions will be on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts. 20% of the questions will be on the Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks and local high school and college athletes and coaches.



#dmd comments


H     April 26
Why pick a quarterback? When RG III was healthy, he willed a moribund Redskins team into the playoffs. Who knows what he could have done if Ngata did not fall on him? He is fully healthy again.

DR (the original)     April 26
Nothing wrong with that sentence, Bob. They haven't helped the team win, whether they are still on the team or not.

Bob     April 26
"Guys like Arthur Brown, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kafusi, Terrance Brooks, and Maxx Williams simply haven't done enough to help the team win"



Brooks and Brown haven't been on the team since 2015...

John In Westminster     April 26
Most overblown term in the draft: he's a "reach" .

Really? You're not going to take a guy you covet because he should be taken 5 spots later? If he's going to be a starter and produce right away, what difference does it make if you take him "before" he's supposed to be taken. I understand taking someone in the first round when clearly they will be available in the next round at the same draft position. But if the dude produces next Fall, does anyone go back and cast shade on him because he was taken 8 spots ahead of where he should've been taken?

Nancy P.     April 26
Since I expected to get that "truth" thing thrown in my face.....how about ALL of the truth THAT GUY.

1. Ever cheat on your taxes or expense accounts? Be truthful.

2. Ever whiled away the day looking at pornography? I am sure that your wife or GF would love to KNOW that truth.

3. Ever break the law? Tell the truth.



If you boys are all about telling the truth....than tell it all.



Cowards.


That Guy     April 26
Yeah @Nancy P, we sure wouldn't want to tell the truth about the team.

Nancy P     April 26
Should be a happy day here in Baltimore. All of the hype about the ball teams and their incompetence can be realized in a double dip. Those that are crowing that they are right that the orioles stink are getting their justice. Loving to point out, this guy stinks, Buck stinks, Dan Stinks, the owner is cheap, the club does nothing right blah,blah, blah. Well the addition of the Ravens draft tonight can only help matters. I am certain that the Ravens will pick guys[or not pick other guys] that will doom the franchise for the next 5 years....so you negative dudes can gleefully state "I knew it all along, the Ravens don't know what they are doing". Along with that they should sing "happy days are here again".

It has gotten to the point where I have turned off the sports radio talk. Negativity must sell, there can't be anything that would sell better. All of the local talk, writing and pontificating has turned dreary and bleak.....Welcome to the Old Philadelphia sentiment.

"the skies above are clear again, so lets sing a song of cheer again, Happy days are here again"....as I wallow in the misery.

Thanks Baltimore for taking all of the joy out of a diversion.

Delray Rick     April 26
NBA could never play again and I could care less.

Steve from Cape Coral     April 26
Just to show how much I care about the NBA, I just learned this morning that there playoffs have started, big friggin deal !!!

Brien Jackson     April 26
@Steve



I don't think that's wrong, but picking Jackson also amounts to punting this season and creating a year long QB controversy. If we're looking for buzz I'd like to see them trade up for Edmunds in the 10-12 range.

Eric     April 26
CMAC- C Cooley in his film breakdown yesterday says Chark will be best WR in draft and that DJ Moore is a 3rd rd talent

MicMac     April 26
I believe name of the receiver from LSU you have the Ravens taking in the 2nd round is D.J. Chark. He's 6'3" 187 lbs. and last season had 35 catches for 811 yds. and 3 TDs. I'd rather see them take Gallup from Colorado St. or Kirk from Texas A&M if they take a WR in the second round and are available.

Steve of Pimlico     April 26
If the Ravens want to put excitement back into fan base drafting Lamar Jackson wuold create a real buzz.

I'm not saying that's the smart pick but the buzz might help put fans in the stands. They could put some packages in place for his skill set while he learns the pro game.

JohnInEssex     April 25
Realizing that I am far from perfect...

Am I the only one wondering if the comments section should start a strict adherence to the request that the comments be "...Well-reasoned, Thoughtful, Kind, Considerate, and Enlightening..."?

Theotherguy     April 25
Repeat comments from @MFC, no wonder he likes the Little Fella so much lol

Cobb stinks, there, happy now?

Mike from catonsville     April 25
@TOG, what exactly do you add to the conversation? As the great Jim Rome says “ have a take and don’t suck”, you miss on every level.

Josh     April 25
@MFC

I couldn’t imagine not having the Orioles... That being said... I never go to games. I have no desire to do anything in the city due to the shambles you speak of.

I’ve asked this for a while: What exactly do the Orioles do in Baltimore other than play baseball?

Theotherguy     April 25
Another Debbie Downer sighting

mike from catonsville     April 25
The turnstile count can’t be much more than 3,000 tonight at OPACY. I’m not there either so I guess I have no standing but I will be there tomorrow night . Such a shame as I can remember every night being close to a sellout . The city is in shambles, the O’s are struggling , it’s really easy to sit here in my recliner watching and wondering what does the future really hold. Will we have the O’s in 5, 7,10 years? And as much as we say we care is that the truth? Would we truly miss the O’s?

casual observer (the original)     April 25
On the Manny front, Drew summed it up best when he said “I’ll always agree you want the better player at SS rather than 3B”. You can analyze it any way you want until the cows come home, but to me, it’s as simple, and as correct, as that. I don’t buy the notion that Manny “controlled” the move back to his natural position, I’m more inclined to believe it was always the plan once Hardy left. But the O’s being the O’s, the story came out awkwardly, as with everything that comes out of the warehouse, and then the speculation ran rampant. To me, that’s all a moot point, go back to Drew’s assertion above.

As for all the draft speculation, I think the fact that the Little Fella says he relishes all the pre-draft hype and pontificating confirms how useless all of this “mocking” truly is. A shame #DMD wasted so much time on it, would rather hear Drew talk about golf or hockey. But I know that’s just me and Drew is catering to his audience, as he should

And as for @Brien, let’s go with the bar analogy that fits this web site so well. @Brien is the guy in the bar who’d get beat up even before the angry drunks show up! I did find it amusing that #DMD included him in the “media” consensus, that was a true facetious zinger by our host, well done Drewski.


Bob     April 25
I sure do miss the days when we watched baseball for the enjoyment of the game. RISP, WIP, UZR, slash lines etc... sure do make the game more than it should be, a pleasant day at the park watching over-paid men play a kid’s game. I know what an error is and isn't, I can tell a great play from a routine out and we all love the crack of the bat on a well hit home run, the snap of the mitt on a smoking fast ball and watching the orchestration of a double play. Gee I miss those days… let’s play two.

JR     April 25
Hey Drew, enjoyed reading your column about Manny and the move to shortstop today. It's refreshing to see something well thought out like that and not have a bunch of petty comments following it.

Brien Jackson     April 25
Er, Landry should have been part of the list of guys left, not the 16th pick.

Brien Jackson     April 25
@Jason



I'm really spitballing on who I think falls. I can't say I'm sure the top OT will fall to 16, but I think it's more likely than anyone else falling. I'd also see the Ravens moving down in that scenario as it shouldn't be hard to find a taker in the 19-25 range.



Fwiw, my mock top 15



Mayfield

Chubb

Darnold

Allen (Bills)

Rosen (Dolphins)

Barkley

James

Ridley

Nelson

Smith

Edmunds (Broncos)

Ward (Browns)

Fitzpatrick

Davenport

Jackson

Landry



That leaves Vea and McGlinchey, and Vea had better be out of the question.

Ghost of JROB     April 25
All Brien is saying is that there are certain statistics (accepted by all or most baseball analysts) that suggests that Beckham is an average fielding shortstop. Commenters may choose to think the statistics and analysts are wrong in relying on this data to make their baseball decisions and commenter’s “eye ball test” are better than the mathematical data. End of story.



My opinion…I think the analytics are fascinating and are of great use in confirming or dispoving what you think you know. Also…average or not…Beckham is a poor fielder no matter the position.


Jason M     April 25
Well, since it's such a consensus it's a lock that it won't happen. For the record, I love getting strong in the trenches, and our depth on the O-line saved our bacon last season when Lewis and Yanda went down early. Just seems like you can never have enough of those guys...but for the record I think we trade back.



Comments here have sucked lately. It's all trolling and flaming and digital grab assing.

Theotherguy     April 25
Here's @Briens opinion: I am right about everything, and everyone else is not only wrong, they're flaming morons who are just embarrassing themselves trying to argue with me.

The end

Brien Jackson     April 25
What is there to defend? Does the term "advanced stats" really just overload your brain or something? Is it that hard to understand the idea of recording the result of every play? That's the defense of the number! I legitimately don't understand what you need to have explained to you.

Liberal Arts     April 25
@Brien

You addressed nothing I said. You need to step away from the keyboard and take a deep breath.

And while saying that these advanced metrics stats or whatever you want to call them "might" be better....you cannot or will not defend them other to say, well, the Danny Devito thing from Matilda.


Art     April 25
@Brien, it needs to be explicitly stated if you consider yourself a writer worth reading. But that's up to you. I don't want to guess at what point you're trying to make. But that's what you make me do all the time.

Brien Jackson     April 25
@MFC



Well it didn't take long for the Rice report to become a joke, huh? All PR, no substance. Whoda thunk it?

Brien Jackson     April 25
@Art



I guess I didn't think it needed to be explicitly stated that if Beckham is average at shortstop and terrible at third base while Machado was good at both than the better lineup for the team puts Beckham at short.

Art     April 25
You did say that Brien. What I don't know from any of your comments is whether you think Machado is better at 3B or SS for the team. You never say that. You say a lot of stuff but you never actually say that.

DELRAY RICK     April 25
BECKHAM SUCKS. PERIOD. Keep track how many games he loses for us with the glove. He might win a few games with bat but more times then not he is a OUT. The ORIOLES are in bad situation with MANNY leaving a bum on 3rd and a WHO? On SS. What has this become on this site the GEORGE AND BRIEN SHOW? Do not take a receiver with the 16TH PICK.

mike from catonsville     April 25
It will be draftalooza for the next few days but under the radar is a task force headed by Condoleeza Rice on changes to NCAA basketball. One is:



"Changing summer basketball. The summer circuit is a money-soaked mishmash of leagues, with the three major ones run by the three apparel companies that sponsor virtually all top basketball programs (Adidas, Nike and Under Armour). Adidas’s sponsorship of such teams enabled it to pay players’ families without raising suspicion, according to prosecutors, and it is not uncommon for companies to pay families in ways that do not even violate N.C.A.A. rules.



The commission could recommend that the N.C.A.A. establish a centralized alternative. And if the N.C.A.A., say, barred college coaches from attending shoe-company events — which are the primary way coaches scout talent — those might lose their luster quickly."



My take(never to happen) would be blow up AAU and start over and keep the money out of it. Start regulating coaches, programs and tournaments. We know that won't happen but hopefully Rice is on to something that will see major changes in the not to distant future.



Her report is due out today.



Happy pre-draft day. Let the frenzy begin.

Brien Jackson     April 25
@Liberal



What is there to "believe" in using "the eye test" to....watch every play and write down the results?* How does one "disbelieve" that? Do you disbelieve batting average or on base percentage? This is just projection all the way down: It's people who say "I don't care what the actual results are I don't think he's good" that are holding on to belief in the face of fact.



*You might, as Drew does, infer that Beckham being an average defender means that the average is simply bad, which is fine, but doesn't really help make roster decisions.

Brien Jackson     April 25
@Art



Honestly, what are you talking about? I said as directly as possible that Beckham is a league average defender at shortstop. How much clearer can it get?

liberal arts     April 25
@brien. I can say with out any kind of animus,you severly lack critical thinking. Other than your obvious writing challenges,it is your biggest flaw. You slavishly worship sets of numbers that YOU believe, but either can't or won't defend with empirical clarity. Most times you come off as the Danny Devito character in "Matilda". His rant at his little girl "I'm big,your little, I'm smart,your dumb, I'm right,your wrong". Defend your positions. And the advanced stats are seriously flawed. They might be a tad better, but to "dogmatize"them? Not smart or tolerant

Art     April 25
Probably the most confusing thing about Brien's writing style is that you can go through the 10 or more comments he wrote here about Machado and Beckham and when you're finished reading all of them you have no idea what his opinion or position is on the subject. That's a criticism I suppose, but it's the truth. He never actually says "this is my point". Maybe it's me. I'm sure it is.

Brien Jackson     April 25
Switching gears, I'd be interested to know how the people calling McGlinchey a "safe pick" see the top 15 playing out. Even if 5 quarterbacks go, you still need 10 more guys off the board before the Ravens come up. Let's take away Barkley, Chubb, Nelson, James, Fitzpatrick, Ward, Ridley, Smith and Edmunds. That's 9 guys. Probably one of Davenport, Landry, or Vita Vea goes too. So who's left that would be a preferable, "less safe," pick? And how does one of those other 9 guys fall without McGlinchey getting picked in the top 15?

Brien Jackson     April 25
People around here must have gone to school before they started teaching critical thinking or something. Because you're definitely making the same assumptions if you're using fielding percentage. Namely you assume that everyone who plays the same position has basically the same range, everyone gets to the same balls, and thus errors are the only variable that matters. If you think that there's a substantial difference in range between the best and worst defenders then fielding percentage is self-evident nonsense. More generally there's nothing funnier than people saying that they "hate stats" when in fact what they mean is that they're slavishly devoted to fake statistics like fielding percentage or saves.

"short" changed     April 25
How can you do a media round up in Baltimore and not include the Little Fella? I've read where he is the "G.O.A.T." In terms of local sports. There can't be any hard feelings because he is such a charitable,giving,above reproach,honest and all around best exploiter of a cancer victim in town. Just for a lark, gave a listen the other day,it was just as awful as usual, but the lack of any kind of timeliness is striking. Guesses on things that have already happened is funny, but commercials that are so disturbing are another. The ad for a local crab house that states that the owner is a "bone marrow cancer survivor too" is chilling. That guy died in December. How is that explainable on a human level?

Jake     April 25
Good article on Machado. I always appreciate how @Drew tries to show both sides and let the reader decide which he/she favors. Good article.

albert einstein     April 25
When writing the theory of relativity(you know,scientific stuff) never entered my mind to have the "constant" be something that "balances out over time". Take it from me(a dead guy) that these new fangaled stats have serious flaws. Good job George for your "peer review"

Brien Jackson     April 25
@RJ



Um....yes. It's not even been much of a secret that scoring decisions default to hits because they're being for players stats and especially arbitration. That's why batters appeal them!


ray ray     April 24
this is funny. reasonable people arguing with a loony bird. please ------- keep it up!

RJ     April 24
Errors are based on salary considerations? Who knew.

Thank goodness we have access to the insights and wisdom of the great Brien Jackson here at #DMD, lucky us

George     April 24
@Brien – You waste people’s time with responses like your last two. I’ll wait for an article from you but won’t hold my breath. If sabermetrics has some validity, say why. The #DMD Comments section is demonstrably not your forum of choice for responding – directly and clearly – to specifically-formulated questions put to you.

Brien Jackson     April 24
@George



Errors are entirely subjective and biased by salary considerations, so I don't see how any of that doesn't apply to fielding percentage either.

Brien Jackson     April 24
This is the funniest conversation in a long time. So to be clear, actually counting the number of balls hit to a position that the fielder turns into an out is "esoteric" statistical nonsense, but creating a completely arbitrary statistic called "errors" and then creating "fielding percentage" off of that made up metric is just good sense. This is all because, like I said this morning, no one can let the idea that Beckham is a bad shortstop go. This is truly awesome stuff.

Tuesday
January 30
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issue 30
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it's up to the media to ask bisciotti the right questions


I've heard and read on more than one occasion recently that people in town are dismissing Steve Bisciotti's press conference this Friday as "much ado about nothing".

"Who cares?" I saw someone write last week. "He's not going to say anything of importance anyway."

He might say something important or revealing if the questions are worthy of critical thinking.

But if the questions are lazy and dumb, the Ravens' owner will surely either avoid having to formulate an acceptable answer or he'll just fill-in-the-blanks as he sees fit.

"Were you disappointed with the way the season ended, Steve?"

That's a dumb question.

Of course he was disappointed with the way the season ended. He's the owner of the team. He takes pride in having the team be successful.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti will be alone at the head table this Friday as the local media gets their chance to ask him questions about the 2017 season and what lies ahead for his team.

If some nitwit asks him that question -- or something thereabouts in so many words -- he'll either give a pre-rehearsed, cookie-cutter answer or he'll actually turn it the other way and say something like, "I was disappointed for John and the players more than I was disappointed for myself..."

Each media member in attendance at the season-ending presser typically gets one question.

Make it a good one, I say.

Here's the deal, though. With only Bisciotti in attendance this Friday, I think the rules of the game have changed. Maybe even intentionally, if you follow where I'm going with this.

If Bisciotti is asked a question about Joe Flacco, for instance, he'll easily be able to say, "Look, I'm just a fan who happens to own the team. I'm not going to get into a discussion about the quarterback and his play. That's for Ozzie and Eric and John to talk about and make an assessment."

Boom! There's one question out of the way. The person that asked it doesn't get a second one, either.

Ask Bisciotti a question about the team's defensive collapse at the end of the Bengals game and you'll hear this: "Sure I was disappointed with the way the game ended, but I don't really know how or why it happened. You saw the game and the play at the end. They beat us, fair and square. If you want to talk about how it happened, that's something only John can answer."

Another question down the drain.

Instead, the smart media guy or gal in the room will ask Bisciotti questions only he can answer on behalf of the organization. Or, at the very least, they can ask him questions directly about the way he feels about a certain subject.

Let me quickly stop for a second and offer this side note: It's a feather in their cap that the Ravens hold this sort of annual event at the end of the season. Yes, there are league rules in place -- loose ones, really -- that mandate the team's "chief administrators" meet with the media in "wrap-up" form sometime in January or February. But the Ravens have always gone above and beyond the call of duty with their "State Of" press conference. Lord knows the Orioles don't have the courage to host a similar type of event with their owner, GM and coach every October.

But not having Ozzie Newsome there on Friday is bad form. As the guy who by-and-large constructs the playing roster, Newsome should have his day in the spotlight to answer questions from the media. It's all well and good -- and appreciated -- to have Bisciotti there to face the music, but Newsome should have to face it as well.

Now...back to the topic at hand.

Bisciotti will answer any and all questions. We've found that to be true over the years. He might be getting better at speaking longer and saying less, but he's not going to back down from a question.

With that in mind, here are the six questions I'd like to see him face on Friday. These answers matter -- mostly to the fans.

1. How is your organization monitoring the number of PSL's currently for sale in various forums and what do YOU think, personally, is the biggest reason for the overwhelming number of PSL's that are available in the market?

2. Since the season ended, has the organization conducted any sort of formal research and reached out to season ticket holders and sponsors to get their feedback on where they stand? And if so, what did you learn thus far?

3. What was your personal reaction to the players kneeling in London on September 24th? Did you know about the potential for a large-scale protest prior to the game?

4. Are you raising ticket prices in 2018?

5. The Atlanta Falcons recently released their season-ending revenue numbers for 2017 and they were able to increase food and beverage revenue by 16% despite lowering prices on nearly every item in the stadium. Would that sort of model work in Baltimore and would you/are you considering it for the 2018 season?

6. What is the organization going to do to fill the empty seats we saw in November and December last season?

Those questions require Bisciotti to sit up straight and think about his response(s).

There's a reality about Friday that says the Ravens are only going to tell you what they want you to hear.

That might be true. On one hand, they might not want the public to know what a formal study or focus group tells them. Some of that could be privileged, proprietary information.

On the other hand, the fans who buy the tickets do have a right to at least have a basic understanding of what the organization thinks or feels about subjects of looming importance.

If you're currently a PSL holder, for example, your seats increase in value the more the games are exciting and the seats around you are sold and occupied.

As people are finding out now, the PSL and the accompanying game tickets aren't worth much if the on-field product is lame and the game presentation isn't captivating or interesting.

Personally, I don't care what Bisciotti thinks about Joe Flacco, the offense, our lack of wide receivers or anything else related to the on-field product. He's not a trained football expert. He employs qualified people to make those assessments and decisions.

What I want to know from Bisciotti is what he feels about the business of running the organization. And that, mostly, relates to tickets, corporate sponsors, the relationship between the league, owners and players, and the overall "health" of his franchise, which, of course, centers on profit and loss.

The kneeling incident in London will be topical on Friday because it was such a polarizing topic among the fans. Bisciotti knows those questions are coming. And he knows his answer(s) will be magnified times 100, no matter what he says or how he positions his own personal opinion on the entire subject.

Ultimately, fans want to hear the truth as the owner sees it and knows it.

If the media asks him the right questions on Friday, that's what we'll get.

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why play in baltimore?


There's a funny one-liner making the rounds on Twitter these days that goes like this:

Orioles' catchers report on February 13.

That's supposed to read: "Pitchers and catchers report on February 13."

Alas, the Orioles don't have any pitchers.

I thought it was funny...

As the team prepares for the start of spring training, the stand-out-like-a-sore-thumb topic remains the organization's inability to add any starting pitchers in the off-season.

If you're free agent pitcher Yu Darvish, why would you entertain an offer from the Orioles?

The defenders of the team will say things like this: "You want the team to overpay for Darvish, Lynn, Cobb or Vargas?"

To that, I say, "Every player in baseball is overpaid. Using "overpay" as an excuse for not signing someone is amateur-hour stuff."

And they're only projected to be overpaid based on what you suspect they might do for your club.

Let's take Yu Darvish as an example. If you give him $20 million a year and he goes 12-10 with a 5.05 ERA, you're a loser in that deal. You've overpaid for those type of numbers.

But if Darvish goes 20-9 with a 2.95 ERA and has a monster season, you'll gladly fork over $20 million for that sort of quality.

By the way, I probably wouldn't pay Yu Darvish $20 million a year, for the record.

But I see where the Orioles are on January 30 and I can't help but wonder why, at this point, anyone would bother coming to Baltimore for the upcoming season and beyond.

If Dan Duquette calls me and I represent a quality starting pitcher in baseball, here's what I tell my client.

A) Baltimore's manager and general manager have been at odds for years. Neither one of them has a contract after the 2018 season. One or both of them will almost certainly not be back in 2019.

B) The team's best player, Manny Machado, will be leaving either during the 2018 season or after the 2018 season. Oh, and not that it matters much, but he just strong-armed the team into moving him from third base to shortstop in order to up his stock for the winter of 2018 cash haul he's planning. In other words, the best player on the team really only cares about himself.

C) The heart of the franchise and the clubhouse leader, Adam Jones, is a free agent after the 2018 season and there's been no dialogue at all between the club and the player to extend him beyond this season.

D) They have two real starting pitchers at this point, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, and neither of those guys are looking like perennial Cy Young candidates.

E) The Yankees are really, really good.

F) The Red Sox are really good.

G) The owner in Baltimore is unofficially off his rocker. Even if you do want to sign there, you have to pass a physical that astronauts at NASA would deem invasive.

H) Park your car in a well-lit area at all times. It's a jungle out there.

Now, everyone needs money, of course. And if you're a starting pitcher and the Orioles come along and show interest, the one thing you have going for you at this point is the old economic formula of supply and demand. They need you. Or someone like you.

So, if Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb winds up having to "settle" for $36 million for three years, the Orioles might get themselves a bargain. But that's assuming some other team with a better pedigree doesn't come along with a similar offer.

Ultimately, there's zero reason for a quality starting pitcher to sign with the Orioles on January 30.

Why play in Baltimore?

If you have any sort of reasonable answer, I'd like to hear it.

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How well do you know your Baltimore sports trivia?

Do you have two friends who know it as well as you do?

Get your team of three together and compete for cash and prizes in #DMD's sports trivia contest, coming up in late March.

And can you answer 25 questions without the use of the internet or your cell phone?

We're talking from 1968 through 2018 -- 50 years worth of Baltimore sports trivia.

Can you and two friends ace the test?

If so, you'll want to sign up for #DMD's sports trivia contest, with a $2,000 first prize to the winning three-person team.

Sign-up details are coming later this week. For now, start chatting with your friends and see who wants to get in. The per-team entry fee is $75 and that includes food and drinks at the qualifying round your team will participate in (late March). The qualifying round will be on a Monday or Tuesday evening starting at 6:30 pm.

In the qualifying round, 16 teams of three will compete for six spots in the Finals. There will be four qualifying rounds. Your team can only compete in one qualifying round. A total of 24 teams of three will advance to the Finals.

First prize is $2,000 to the winning team and the teams finishing in 2nd through 6th place will also receive prizes.

Details and sign-up will begin later this week here at #DMD.

In the meantime, start assembling your team of three and brush up on that 50-year window of Baltimore sports trivia.

80% of the questions will be on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts. 20% of the questions will be on the Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks and local high school and college athletes and coaches.

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Monday
January 29
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issue 29
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federer, woods both thrilled with weekend success


If you just flew in from Pluto and heard both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods speak on Sunday, you would have assumed both of them were winners in their respective fields.

One was and one wasn't.

Federer was the one who won, as he beat Marin Cilic in five sets to win the Australian Open and claim his 20th career grand slam singles title.

Woods didn't win, but he might as well have. Tiger scraped together four rounds of decent golf at Torrey Pines, finishing four days at 3-under par and completing 72 holes in a regulation PGA Tour event for the first time since August of 2015.

At age 36, Federer continues to defy the odds. No one has played championship tennis at this level for this long. And there's no way to know when the winning might stop for Feds, who can likely still hold his own at Wimbledon in July.

Another 5-set win to close out a grand slam singles title was the recipe for success for Roger Federer on Sunday as he captured the Australian Open.

The critics chirped loud and long after his win over Cilic on Sunday.

"He didn't have to face Nadal or Djokovic," they claimed.

That's true, of course. Both of them lost before getting a crack at Federer.

"His semi-final opponent quit in the second set," they pointed out.

That's also true. So what was Federer supposed to do about that?

Ultimately, the only thing worth discussing is how Federer continues to win despite his age and occasional health-related issues.

One reason? There simply aren't many great young players coming up through the ranks to challenge him. There are big hitters and impressive athletes trying to make a name for themselves on the men's side, but no one has stepped forward in the last year or two to showcase themselvs as the next great champion.

So, the same guys -- Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, et al -- keep doing the winning.

And this time, it was Roger's turn to shine, although Cilic worked him hard until the fifth and final set, when the 36-year old put his foot on the gas and extinguished his 29-year old opponent, 6-1, to win his 6th Australian Open title.

20 career grand singles slam titles.

No man has ever reached 20 before...although Rafael Nadal has a legit chance of hitting that number too, as he currently stands at 16.

Even if Federer never wins another one, he'll always have that piece of history on his side. He was the first to ever win 20.

Tiger Woods might not ever win another major, either, but if his play at Torrey Pines over the weekend told us anything, it's that Woods still has his heart in the game of golf.

He finished the four days at 72-71-70-72, good enough for a T23 finish.

Honestly, based on how he fared off the tee, Woods easily could have posted rounds of 80-80-80-80.

He wasn't flashing a winning smile on Sunday, but Tiger was grinning from ear to ear at the mere fact he played four rounds of pain-free golf and didn't post an over-par round at Torrey Pines.

Tiger hit just 17 of 56 fairways over the course of the four days. At one point midway through Saturday's third round, he had missed 22 of his last 25 fairways but was somehow 6-under par for those 25 holes.

It was, statistically speaking, one of the worst driving displays of his 22 years on the PGA Tour.

Yet, somehow, he hung on and fought through it, using short game wizardry and an accommodating putter to post two under-par rounds at a course that played more difficult than in years past.

While he was thrilled to complete four rounds and test his surgically repaired back under the strain of tournament golf, Woods must be concerned about his inability to put the tee ball in play.

He won't do it, of course, but the 4-time Masters champion desperately needs to seek the counsel of someone who can get him to straighten out his driver. Having just parted company with Chris Como, his most recent instructor, Woods says he's going to go at it alone and fix things himself.

I say that's not a good decision.

Woods would greatly benefit from having someone coach him through the improvements necessary to drive the ball straight. Someone like CBS golf analyst and longtime instructor Peter Kostis would be a perfect fit for Woods. Alas, Tiger and Kostis don't have the greatest of relationships. So that's not an option.

Tiger could also seek the advice of his first-ever instructor, Butch Harmon. But those two aren't exactly texting buddies anymore, so that, too, is probably not a relationship Woods would pursue.

Woods showed over the weekend he can still play golf.

His short game was outrageously good.

He putted well enough to be in contention.

But he can't compete at Augusta National or any major championship venue if he drives the ball wildly. And Woods wasn't just driving it a smidgen off line -- he was sometimes 25 or 30 yards deep into the rough.

Here's Tiger's report card for the event at Torrey Pines, along with notes and comments below:


Report Card

Woods, Eldrick T.

Off the teeD
IronsC
Inside 100 yardsC
Around the green/short gameA
PuttingB+
Mental/EffortA
OverallB

Driver: "D" is as fair as it gets. Sure, he piped a couple of beauties right down the middle and a few of his missed fairways were by less than a yard, but there were at least a dozen drives that were off the map.

Irons: Yes, a large number of the greens he missed were from bad lies in the rough, but he also hit some shabby shots off the tee on par 3's and missed several greens from the fairway with wedge or 9-iron in his hand. Expect Woods to be sharper in this area in two weeks at Rivieria CC.

Inside 100 yards: Some good, some bad. Woods talked about "getting his feels back", and this is probably the area where that's the most important. He just didn't have his normal accuracy from 100 yards and in.

Around the green/short game: "Impeccable" might be a tad overblown, but not by much. Woods' work around the greens was spectacular given that he hadn't played a real golf tournament since last February. At one point during Saturday's round, he saved par seven straight times with chips that nestled up close to the hole. This was, by far, the strongest part of his game over the four days at Torrey Pines.

Putting: He missed a couple of five footers on Thursday that nearly cost him a chance at making the cut on Friday, but overall his putter was part of what saved him. Didn't make a lot of long ones, but was solid on just about everything from six feet and in.

Mental/Effort: You could tell he was grinding coming down the stretch on Friday. Had he missed the cut he would have said all the right things, but there's no doubt making the cut -- albeit something he used to with his eyes closed in the old days -- was particularly important to his psyche. Even after Saturday's round, he seemed resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to drive the ball well enough to contend, but putting together a round of 70 while hitting it terribly off the tee was particularly satisfying.

Overall: "B" represents "good", and that's what Woods was for four days: Good. Parts of his game were awful and parts of his game were superb. Keep in mind it was the first golf tournament he's played since last February and remember he didn't even make a full golf swing until August 13, 2017 (after surgery in April) -- and you get the sense he actually might have over-achieved at Torrey Pines.

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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 Monday, we’ll answer those questions here at #DMD.

State of the Ravens Edition

Who?

Steve Bisciotti

Our favorite member of the Forbes 400 has mostly been a model owner, in my opinion.

He’s around the team, and invested in it with more than just his money, but he allows his football staff do its job. No matter how much the public vents for change, he remains judicious about it, though we can’t really know what’s going through his head.

He’s had a few PR gaffes, but those have been because of his responses to the acts of others, not to his own wrongdoings. The same can’t be said of every NFL owner.

Obviously, it’s interesting that Bisciotti will be out in front of the media by himself on Friday. Perhaps it means something about Ozzie Newsome, or maybe it doesn’t.

Since John Harbaugh met with that group several weeks ago, it’s not surprising he won’t be there.

Much is made of Bisciotti’s reticence to be a public face of the organization. I don’t think it ought to be a big deal for the owner of a multimillion dollar organization to be in front of the cameras. If you’re not that comfortable with it, then you should get some training to gain more comfort with it.

I guess I’m really wondering what Bisciotti’s emotions were after the Cincinnati game. They were probably like the rest of ours. Otherwise, I’m not sure what he’s going to add unless someone’s getting fired or reassigned.


What?

Empty purple seats

I take that back. I’m also interested in knowing what Bisciotti’s emotions were about seeing all those empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium in December, a month in which his playoff contending team played three of its eight home games.

It’s entirely possible that he won’t be very emotional about it at all. I’m positive he understands all the reasons why. I don’t know what he or anyone else can say that will change people’s minds about kneeling during the national anthem, whatever their opinion is.

The fact is, though, that before fans ever became annoyed or upset or really mad at the Ravens, they were just kind of bored by them.

I don’t know what Steve Bisciotti can say or do to make that any different by training camp this summer.

The controversy surrounding the national anthem came up suddenly, but the ennui didn’t. It’s been growing steadily.

Football Outsiders keeps great stats that go beyond the usual ones. This year, Baltimore ranked 25th in the NFL in “three-and-out percentage,” going three-and-out nearly 27 percent of the time. Pittsburgh ranked first at just 16 percent.

Boredom comes from not being able to move the ball, doesn’t it?


Where?

Atlanta, Charlotte, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville

The Ravens visit those five cities during the 2018 season.

For what it’s worth, four of the five teams made the playoffs in 2017, and the one that didn’t (the Chargers) had a winning season.

Baltimore also plays home games against New Orleans and Buffalo, two other 2017 playoff teams, in addition to the two games against the Steelers. So that’s half the schedule.

A better way of looking at it, since you’re always going to play your divisional teams: six of 10 non-divisional games are against 2017 playoff teams. At least the Patriots aren’t on the schedule until the following year.

Of course, since you can’t predict the future, none of this means anything. Matt Ryan could be injured like Aaron Rodgers was this year; the Ravens could lose at home to Tampa Bay like they did to the Bears this season.

Interestingly, the 2014 Ravens made the playoffs in large part due to their incredible dominance of the NFC South, which they play again in 2018. They won all four of those games by a combined score of 149-61. In their other 12 games, their scoring advantage was just 260-241.


When?

February 3, 2018

This Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of Super Bowl XLVII, the Harbaugh Bowl, the Blackout Bowl. Five years already.

Each team from that game has made the playoffs just once since. In the last four years, in fact, the Ravens have been mediocre, and the 49ers have fallen off a cliff.

San Francisco’s future star quarterback with the cannon arm and the running ability of Steve Young will go down in history as an incredibly controversial figure for reasons having nothing to do with football.

Baltimore’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback hit a peak on that day, just a couple weeks after his 28th birthday, and he’s rarely approached that level since.

Was any of it predictable? Unlikely, just as the nature of that Super Bowl itself was unpredictable.

The only thing that seemed bound to happen was the relatively quick ending for Jim Harbaugh, who wears out his welcome in a way few coaches ever have. In 2018, they’re already getting sick of him in Michigan. A win over Ohio State next year might help.


Why?

Drafting a quarterback

Understandably, the Ravens have drafted only two quarterbacks since taking Joe Flacco in 2008.

Both of those were late-round picks, Keith Wenning in the sixth round in 2014 and Tyrod Taylor in the same round in 2011. The fact that one of them ended up as an NFL starter, especially with only garbage time appearances his first four years, is actually pretty impressive.

I believe the Ravens must take a quarterback in this year’s draft, and it should be much earlier than the sixth round.

It would be easy to say that the team must do it in order to appease the fans, who want more offense and don’t really like Flacco. Taking Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who could fall to the No. 16 spot the Ravens occupy, would qualify there. If that happened, he’d be the most “famous” college offensive player they’ve taken since Ray Rice in 2008.

I just think it’s time they take a chance on somebody. It’s better to have two good quarterbacks than one, and if that doesn’t happen, I’m not sure that’s much different than so many other draft “misses” for the Ravens over the past several years.

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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 squander golden opportunity in home loss to michigan state


The Maryland Terrapins surrendered a 13-point halftime lead as they dropped their rematch with Michigan State by a final score of 74-68 yesterday in College Park.

The Spartans engineered a 20-4 run to start the second half to erase any ideas the Terps had of a wire to wire victory. From that point on it was a dogfight until late Michigan State foul shots secured the win for the visitors.

Maryland’s hot shooting hand, combined with an ice-cold Michigan State team, gave the Terps a nice 37-24 cushion at the half.

It was a three by Jerod Nickens, with 5 seconds left in the first half, that gave Maryland their 13-point margin. It was the Terps biggest lead of the first 20 minutes. Only 3 missed dunks by Maryland and a whopping 11 offensive rebounds by Michigan State kept the Terp advantage from being much greater.

Balanced Terp scoring was the rule in the first half. Michal Cekovsky, Anthony Cowan, Dion Wiley, and Jared Nickens each had 6 points. Kevin Huerter had 9 and Darryl Morsell had 4.

Maryland played the half with a level of defensive energy that surpassed anything I had seen this year. Tops on that list was Darryl Morsell. Although constantly giving up inches to Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Morsell held him to just 3 points on 1-7 shooting.

Darryl Morsell had a solid outing against Michigan State on Sunday, but the freshman couldn't do it all by himself and the Terps fell, 74-68.

The Spartans did help the Terp defense by missing a handful of open looks. The normally accurate MSU three-point shooters hit just 1 of 10 attempts from long range and connected on just 9 of 33 first half shots. Meanwhile, Maryland was going 50% from the field and connected on 5 of 8 three-pointers.

The Terps offense jumped out of the gate so fast and so hot that MSU coach Tom Izzo burned a time out only 1:51 into the game.

By then, a lob pass dunk to Darryl Morsell had been sandwiched between two Dion Wiley threes. It was 8-0 Terps in a flash. Michigan State would fight back, but Maryland kept hitting shots.

There was one ominous first half stat that favored the Spartans and would wind up telling the story of the game. After 20 minutes Michigan State held a 22-16 rebounding edge that included 11 offensive rebounds for the visiting Spartans.

The aforementioned 20-4 run that Michigan State went on to start the second half began with a Jaren Jackson blocked shot followed by a Jackson 3 pointer. Jackson would hit another three a few seconds later and Michigan State’s Cassius Winston would add another triple before the first TV timeout of the second half.

Meanwhile, the Terps were missing 6 of their first 7 shots in the second half. MSU hit 7 of their first 9 second half attempts. The Terps saw their 13-point lead quickly evaporate.

Michigan State was noticeably more active on defense in the second half and were cutting off Anthony Cowan’s attempts at penetration. They also swatted away 7 of Maryland’s shot attempts. (Darryl Morsell is still learning that Big Ten foes can reject shots inside that his high school opponents couldn’t reach).

Maryland could have easily packed it in, but they fought hard all game and even recaptured the lead, briefly, when Cowan hit a 3 with 13:19 left in the game. It was the last lead that Maryland would own.

Michigan State would regain the lead, and eventually extend it to 8 points on a Kenny Goins lay-up with 4:55 remaining. It was the last field goal that Michigan State would make, and it gave them a 63-55 lead.

The Spartans would go almost 4 minutes without scoring another point and Maryland was able to trim the lead to just two. The partisan Maryland crowd of over 17,000 got loud when Miles Bridges missed a jumper with 1:16 left in the game.

However, instead of Maryland getting the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead, another offensive rebound by MSU gave them a second chance to score. They capitalized on that opportunity when Cowan fouled Winston, who calmly made two free throws to push the lead to four points.

The game, from that point on, was never again a one possession game. Michigan State closed out the contest with some solid foul shooting while Maryland missed the mark from the foul line four times in the last 4:32.

For Maryland to beat a potential Final Four team like Michigan State, they can’t afford mental lapses like the defensive ones they had to start the second half. They also can’t afford to give up 19 offensive rebounds.

The first half lead was built on some pretty good shooting by Maryland and some pretty poor shooting by Michigan State. Those numbers were not going to hold up for the entire game.

You knew, at some point, the shooting percentages would gravitate towards equalization. And they did. Once that happened, the real story of the game became clear.

The Terps got overwhelmed on the backboards. The lopsided 46-29 advantage the Spartans held gave Tom Izzo's team way too many extra opportunities to score.

The reasons for the rebounding differential are numerous.

MSU has better athletes, for starters.

Maryland frequently had to play small due to the foul trouble that Bruno Fernando and Cekovsky were in.

And Maryland’s thin bench may have played a role too. Spartan subs played 68 minutes yesterday while Maryland’s bench logged 51.

Combined, Kevin Huerter, Morsell, and Cowan played all but 6 minutes.

But what will drive Mark Turgeon crazy are the times when his guys simply didn’t put a body on their opponent. They didn’t box out. You can’t win games against superior talent unless you consistently execute the fundamentals. Maryland didn’t, and they lost…again.

It’s a tough year for Maryland. One has to believe that with a healthy Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender, the Terps surely beat Michigan and Indiana. They probably would have won Sunday's game, too.

Those three wins would change the complexion of the entire season. As it stands, Maryland’s dreams of playing in the NCAA tournament are resting upon an unlikely run at Madison Square Garden in the Big Ten Tournament.

A road game this Wednesday against 3# ranked Purdue is next up for Maryland. A loss there would be the Terp’s 6th in their last 8 games, with five of them coming against ranked teams.



Sunday
January 28
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issue 28
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and people think ozzie isn't doing his job?


Ozzie Newsome has been under fire of late.

And rightfully so, I suppose. He's the guy in charge of stockpiling the Ravens with talent, and while the team hasn't been lousy over the last few years, their drop off at the wide receiver spot, in particular, can be traced directly to Newsome's desk.

But if Newsome's under fire for his shortcomings, how do we categorize the pressure that Dan Duquette should be under heading into 2018?

It's January 28. The actual baseball season begins in two months -- real games and all -- and the Orioles have two starting pitchers on their roster as of this morning.

And Duquette apparently thinks that's a punch line.

When asked at yesterday's FanFest if he thought the Orioles could contend this season with their current group of players, Duquette said, "The key will be addressing the starting pitching. If we can do that, and I'm confident that we can — don't ask me how exactly. But if we can do that, I think we can have another good season."

Huh?

Dan Duquette was the center of attention on Saturday at FanFest and he did little -- if anything -- to calm the masses about the O's chances for improving on their last place finish in 2017.

The look on Buck Showalter's face when Duquette said those words was priceless. If ever someone's facial expression said "WTF?", it was Showalter's.

Duquette said, on January 27, "The key will be addressing the starting pitching..."

Ummmmm...spring training starts in less than three weeks, Dan.

The "don't ask me how exactly" line quickly zoomed throughout social media, as fans laughed at the line and scoffed at Duquette's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the task in front of him.

You're the GM of the team, pitchers and catchers gather shortly, you acknowledge the need for more starters in the rotation, but you say, publicly, "don't ask me how" (we're going to get them).

And we criticize the President of the United States for saying dumb things...

Duquette also said on Saturday the team hasn't entertained any contract discussions with Adam Jones, who is a free agent after the upcoming 2018 campaign.

That's a good way to keep the captain of your team motivated.

Oh, and the secret-we-all-knew-anyway was finally revealed on Saturday when Buck Showalter officially announced he's caving in to Manny Machado and and moving him to shortstop and sending Tim Beckham over to third base. Until the end of July, at least, right?

Machado wasn't there on Saturday, for reasons no one was willing to say on Saturday. I heard from someone close to the club that Machado's reason for not coming was that he wanted to stay in Miami and continue working out at shortstop, where he has been taking ground balls every day since early January.

That's pretty lame, if true, but it sort of fits the narrative of what has been a wacky off-season in Birdland. "I'm not coming up for FanFest because I'm down here working hard on my new position, you know, the one I want to play in 2019 when I'm with the Yankees or Red Sox making $30 million a year."

And Jonathan Schoop no-showed yesterday as well because he's butt-hurt that the Orioles didn't just fork over gobs of money for him and, instead, will see him at the arbitrator's table this week to determine how much dough he'll get in 2018.

Showalter didn't sound all that thrilled with Schoop when asked about him directly. Not that it matters, or anything, but the Orioles are heading into spring training with lots of tension and question marks in the air.

"Jon, I'm not satisfied with,” Showalter said when asked about the reasons Machado and Schoop gave for not attending yesterday's annual event. “Manny, it's one of those things I've learned over the years -- before you knee-jerk with stuff. I've gotten a feel for what Manny's absence is about. I have a pretty good understanding of that. Jon's, I don't. The reasons I'm being given are not very good."

“I talked to Jon's agent,” Showalter concluded. “He made me aware of the advice he gave Jon, so we'll live with it and move on."

Duquette, though, was the show stopper with his "don't ask me how" line during the Q&A session.

You have to admire his honesty, I guess.

Here it is, three weeks away from spring training, and the club hasn't made one move of note since finishing in last place in 2017.

"Let them keep counting us out," Showalter replied to a question from the fans. "They can keep doubting us if they want and we'll show up every day and try to prove them wrong."

That's high school stuff there, frankly.

Memo to Buck: They're counting you out because you haven't done anything to improve the team. You can be mad about that all you want or try to use it to get your players angry, but the reality is the GM of the team hasn't lifted a finger since the end of October.

It's like the Bad News Bears, except it's not a movie.

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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.



There was a time not long ago when baseball Hall of Fame debates were one of my most cherished sports related topics.

Nowadays, however, the Hall of Fame itself is virtually irrelevant to me and I could not possibly care less about the voting, the arguments around it, or the voters themselves.

The outcomes the BBWAA reaches are so comically ridiculous, and the process that gets them there so absurd and careless, that there's just no benefit to investing oneself in the outcome of the election or the institution inductees are enshrined in.

The steroid debate is responsible for a lot of that, of course.

That the last decade or so has been dominated by not just questions of how to handle one particular period in time in which baseball players were using one particular subset of PED's, but by baseless speculation over who *might* have used them through the use of ever changing and blatantly illogical standards of "evidence" (Hall of Fame caliber professional athlete Jeff Bagwell was more muscular than the average human and he was bigger at 26 years old than he was at 19!!!!!) that it's simply headache inducing to even bother engaging them.

But what's worse is that, after years of insisting that they wanted guidance from the Hall itself on the question, the voters responded to the Veteran's committee to induct Bud Selig, a commissioner who was as complicit in the so-called Steroid Era as any one individual in all of baseball, last year by....pretty much ignoring it and going on with what they wanted to do anyway.

There's *really* no point in engaging an argument when the other side is acting in bad faith, and clearly not interested in even considering facts and circumstances that might alter their worldview, let alone the other side's opinion.

A relief pitcher made the Hall of Fame in 2018 but Mike Mussina, with 270 career wins and a 3.68 ERA, didn't earn enough votes to get in.

But even beyond the question of confirmed or suspected steroid users, the BBWAA electorate has demonstrated themselves to be laughably unable to produce results that have any kind of coherence. Why in the world does Jim Thome get in but not Edgar Martinez? Are we really supposed to believe that Thome, who spent a good chunk of his career as a DH, is so much more worthy of induction because he also played around 13,000 innings at first and third base, in which time he was around 200 runs below average compared to his contemporaries?

The deciding factor here is really that the guy who got in to the Hall of Fame was an absolutely terrible defensive player, while the other guy was penciled in to the DH role by his manager even though he was perfectly capable of playing third base at least as well as Thome played defensively.

And if you can't make the Hall of Fame if you were primarily a DH in your career, why in the world is a relief pitcher -- Trevor Hoffman -- getting inducted?

Vladimir Guerrero was a great player who was very fun to watch, but his overall numbers make him comparable to players who have had to wait several years to get in, if they've got in at all. Mike Mussina, on the other hand, is comparable to pitchers who have easily made the Hall with little to no controversy and he's still waiting for the call. And let's not even start comparing Mussina to Jack Morris.

One real problem the Hall needs to confront if it wants to increase its relevancy is the amount of voting that's being motivated by resentment, primarily among older members of the BBWAA.

A lot of that has to do with (diminishing) backlash to new age stats, of course, but it's also largely moved beyond that. In the case of Edgar, for example, no one really disputes that his numbers were excellent and his case doesn't rest on some fancy, esoteric new metric of value. The argument revolves entirely around the question of whether a DH can get in.

With Mussina, it's a question of which side of the line he falls on with, again, no real basic disagreement as to the balance of his stat line (the voters have been particularly bad, it seems, in gauging the relative greatness of pitchers over the years).

More than WAR or other stats, it seems that what really happens is that younger, internet based writers take up the cause of arguing the merits of players like Mussina or Martinez, or Larry Walker, after a couple of years on the ballot and this provokes a backlash among the older voters who don't like the way their own industry has changed because of the internet.

If Rob Neyer thinks Mike Mussina is a Hall of Famer, that alone guarantees Murray Chass will never vote for Mussina. That's a problem, and it's only getting worse.

But even beyond that, the voters have proven that they simply are not remotely up to the task of judging players of the last 20 years against players of previous generations by any reasonable standard.

The single most ridiculous result of the balloting, for example, isn't the continued snubs of Martinez, Mussina, Curt Schilling, etc., but that Johan Santana was named on just 2.4% of ballots, thereby failing to crack the 5% mark he needs to make another appearance on the writers' ballot. This despite the fact that Santana won 2 Cy Young awards and three ERA titles, and stands as the best pitcher in all of baseball from 2002 until at least 2008.

In fact, Santana's career stat line is strikingly similar to that of Sandy Koufax, who was inducted on the first ballot with one of the largest vote shares in history at the time.

That's not to say that Santana was as good as Koufax, or even necessarily that he deserved to end up being enshrined with the immortals. There's a debate to be had over how to weigh longevity against peak value...but that's a debate we're not going to get to have with Santana.

The process is supposed to give us time to weigh that distinction and to look back at Santana's career with the benefit of time passed, but instead he's never going to be on the ballot again. That's absurd.

I don't really know how the Hall should go about addressing these problems. They've started working on culling out the voting ranks, and that is making a difference, but a limited one. They do need to expand the pool of eligible voters beyond those who have BBWAA cards and at least figure out how to include broadcast journalists and long time internet writers.

They absolutely should do away with the rule that limits you to voting for ten players and no more than that. If the ballot has 11 worthy candidates on it, especially as the steroid hysteria has backed up the flow of inductees, then there's no reason you shouldn't be able to voter for 11 candidates instead of 10.

Maybe they'll figure something out, or maybe they won't. In the meantime, I just don't care about this Hall of Fame class, about next year's Hall of Fame class, or about who will be on the ballot after that.

And I definitely don't care about your opinion on Omar Vizquel.

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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 badly need upset win today


The Maryland men’s basketball team will be looking for a little bit of redemption this afternoon as they take on the Michigan State team that beat them by 30 points, 91-61, on January 4th.

The Spartans hit a slight snag after that Terp blowout. Only an overtime win against Rutgers prevented Michigan State from losing their next three games. However, they have righted their ship by easily winning three games in a row heading into this 1 pm contest today.

When analyzing a rematch, I always like to look at the likelihood of certain aspects of the first game repeating.

For example, how likely is it that Michigan State’s 6'10” freshman, Jaren Jackson Jr, will knock down 5 of 6 three-point attempts? It’s not very likely.

Or, how likely is it that the Spartan team, collectively, will hit 10 of 16 threes in the first half? Again, that’s not very likely.

Maryland needs a big day at both ends of the floor from Bruno Fernando as the Terps host Michigan State this afternoon in College Park.

I doubt that Darryl Morsell, Bruno Fernando, Dion Wiley, and Jared Nickens will again go, as a group, 5 for 23 from the floor. These things all bode well for Maryland.

One thing we can count on is that Michigan State’s Nick Ward, who was 6 for 8 from the floor in only 22 minutes in the first game, will again give Maryland trouble. His buckets came so easily that it is very likely he matches or exceeds those numbers today.

Fernando and Michal Cekovsky each got into foul trouble trying to guard him in the first game in early January. That could easily happen again too.

Ward hits 71% of his shots from the floor, and Maryland hasn’t found a way to effectively defend him in the two games that Ward has played against the Terps. I expect Maryland to double down on him if he gets the ball on the low blocks, but rotate quickly so they are not leaving open one of State’s top long-range shooters, like Cassius Winston.

Winston leads MSU, and the Big Ten, with his 53.8% three-point shooting. If you double down on Ward, Winston is not the one to leave open. However, all of the Maryland defenders need to be sure that they are playing close enough to their man as to not allow an attempted three-point shot.

In the first game, I thought the Terp defenders did a terrible job of closing down space. State’s shooters had far too much room to get off shots, and they hit a ton of them.

If Maryland can prevent MSU from hitting 16 of 28 from the beyond the arc like they did during the January 4th game, then Michigan State won’t collect 30 assists and put up 91 points again this afternoon.

Maryland can expect more production this time from players not named Kevin Huerter or Anthony Cowan. Those two accounted for 13 of Maryland’s 20 field goals, 6 of the Terp’s 8 threes, and 42 of their 61 points in the earlier game between the two teams. The rest of Coach Turgeon’s team will put up much better numbers today than the anemic figures they posted about four weeks ago.

So let’s put this all together. MSU won’t score as much as they did last time and Maryland will score more than the 61 they put up in East Lansing. With the home crowd pushing the Terps, can they pull off the kind of upset we frequently see in college basketball?

No, they won't.

Michigan State has 5 players that would start at Maryland. There’s not one member of the Terp’s starting 5 that would start if they were at Michigan State. That vast talent differential is really hard to overcome.

Despite the 30-point win earlier, Michigan State is only a 7-point favorite today. That is pretty much in keeping with the 8-point differential normally seen between a home and away point spread. Michigan State was a 15.5 point favorite in the first game.

I do expect the Terps to keep this one closer, but the Spartans will pull away late.

A very close game with four minutes left will become a 5-point Michigan State win. Ward, Miles Bridges, and Joshua Langford lead the way to an 80-75 Spartan victory.

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Saturday
January 27
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friday presser tells us ravens are still trying to figure it out


Better late than never, I suppose.

Or, in the case of the Ravens and their annual "State of the Team" press conference, better on a Friday than not at all.

But there's a message there and, to me, it's a telling one.

Anyone who has ever studied professional public relations or worked in the field itself knows what the standard rule is for either delivering bad news or facing bad news: Do it on a Friday.

It's one of the oldest P.R. tricks in the book.

And so, that's what the Ravens are doing with owner Steve Bisciotti, as he'll face the local media next Friday at 1:30 pm to answer questions about the 2017 season and the "state of the franchise" moving forward.

In the past, the event was typically held within two weeks of the completion of the season/playoffs, with Bisciotti, John Harbaugh, Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome all sitting at the head table and fielding questions for the better part of one hour.

After weeks of speculation, the Ravens announced on Friday that Steve Bisciotti will meet with the media on Friday, February 2 at the team's headquarters.

John Harbaugh met with the media back in January 4, four days after the Ravens' shocking 31-27 season-ending loss to the Bengals.

Since then -- nothing.

No word about when or even "if" the annual event was going to take place.

Then, right on cue, the Ravens announced yesterday morning -- a Friday, take note -- that Bisciotti and only Bisciotti will take questions next Friday at the team's headquarters.

I don't think most folks care all that much that Newsome, Cass and Harbaugh won't be at the head table. Newsome never wants to be involved in that event, anyway, Cass rarely gets a question thrown his way, and Harbaugh has already talked at length with the media about the team's 2017 campaign and his staff decisions for 2018.

Bisciotti is the one guy left in the crosshairs that everyone wants to see and hear.

But the "Friday trick" tells me the Ravens are still not quite comfortable with the events that transpired in the recent season and what the plans are for change and/or improvement moving forward.

In 1980 or 1990, organizations used the "Friday trick" because no one watched the Friday night news on TV or read the Saturday morning paper. Thus, if you wanted to deliver bad news back in the old days, you did it on Friday afternoon, thus greatly reducing the amount of people who would come in contact with it.

Today, in 2018, you use the same trick because some of the standards for distribution remain the same. Internet use drops off on the weekend. This very website, as just a small example, sees nearly a 20% decrease in views on Saturday and Sunday as opposed to Monday through Friday.

Newspaper readership has dropped off overall over the last decade, but the same rule applies for newspapers even today. No one reads the paper on Saturday these days.

And, for radio sports talk, Saturday and Sunday are the "dead days". Think about it. If Bisciotti's presser was held on a Tuesday, there are three days remaining during the week for the hosts to spew their opinions and callers to chime in and offer their thoughts as well.

That's three straight days of team-hating, if, by chance, some of the details of the press conference with the owner aren't favorable to the fan base.

This way, by holding the event on a Friday afternoon, there's really no way for people to "vent" until Monday morning. Sure, there are sports radio shows on the weekend, but no one's really listening all that much.

Even announcing on a Friday that the press conference is next Friday was done with intent.

There's no telling what news will drip out of Owings Mills next Friday when Bisciotti speaks, but there's no doubt in my mind the Ravens are concerned about it the whole thing.

They'd never, ever, ever hold the state-of-the-team press conference on a Friday if they weren't concerned.

They love having the city talk about them and they love their name on the front page of the paper and they love being the center of attention...which is why the event has always been held on a Tuesday.

Friday at 1:30 pm is a dubious time to gather everyone.

If they're not delivering bad news (ticket price increase, perhaps?) then they're most certainly concerned about the mere fact that Bisciotti has to face the media and field questions that might not yield favorable answers.

"Maybe Bisciotti is out of town all next week until Thursday night and then he's leaving again on Saturday morning," someone suggested to me yesterday. "Maybe next Friday is literally the only day on his calendar that works."

If that indeed were the case, the Ravens would have noted as much when they sent out the information about the event next Friday at 1:30 pm.

The organization isn't dumb. Not in the least. They know that we know that Friday at 1:30 pm is an odd time for the gathering.

"We realize the press conference is the Friday before the Super Bowl and some members of our media will be in Minneapolis," they would have said.

"And we understand that traditionally, the event is held mid-week, too. But Steve's schedule is very, very tight and this is the only time we can do it. We hope you understand."

That's the sort of thing they would have said if "Friday at 1:30 pm" was just happen-stance.

But next Friday's event is planned out for next Friday for a reason. The Ravens want it that way.

I don't know what news will be delivered next Friday, but I'm guessing the organization is concerned about it.

And they're hoping you don't pay as much attention to it as you normally would...

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o's deliver bad news on friday, too


The Ravens aren't the only team in town to use the "Friday trick" yesterday.

The Orioles conveniently used Friday to deliver some bad news as well, as they informed all of their FanFest attendees that two of the team's brightest stars, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, will not attend today's event at the Convention Center.

There's obviously no way of knowing when the Orioles found out the details on both players, but you'd have to be naive or extremely gullible to believe the organization found out on Friday morning and then quickly hustled to deliver the news to everyone.

The Orioles waited until Friday to inform fans that Manny Machado was pulling out of today's FanFest at the Convention Center.

I don't know when they knew Machado and Schoop weren't participating, but it most likely wasn't yesterday.

So, by saving the announcement until Friday, they, like the Ravens, avoided three days of irate sports talk banter and internet bashing.

They still got some of that yesterday, of course, but it all ended by roughly 5 pm, or whenever Happy Hour kicked off in your neck of the woods.

And because the team won't share the reasons for their respective absences, it's even more frustrating for the fans.

Schoop missed last year's event because of a death in the family. The team announced it as such and everyone understood.

Chris Davis' wife just gave birth to twins on Thursday of this week. He's missing this year's event because of that occasion. Everyone understands, I assume.

If Schoop and/or Machado had an understandable reason for pulling out of the event at the last minute, why wouldn't the organization just announce it and generate compassion, good will and understanding?

Seems simple enough to me, anyway.

I assume Schoop isn't coming because he doesn't "technically" have a contract with the team yet. His arbitration hearing hasn't been held, so Schoop is probably sitting this one out just to remind the Orioles that they don't yet have him under employment for the 2018 season.

Personally, I think that's amateur-hour stuff, but it is what is. Jonathan Schoop will have a contract for 2018 once the arbitrator decides what his salary will be. It's not like Schoop isn't going to play at all in 2018. He'll play and do so in Baltimore.

Not showing up for FanFest is bush league, in my opinion. Your mileage may vary, though.

As for Machado, there's no telling why he isn't going to be here, but it's probably best that he isn't, truth be told.

I think we all know why.

And with his brooding, mercurial personality, all it would take would be one person to ask the wrong question or say the wrong thing, and who knows what might happen from there.

If nothing else, though, the team owes the fan base an explanation on why he's not coming into town today.

Honesty wouldn't hurt: "There's no secret that we're facing a delicate time with Manny...and at this point we feel it might be best for him to stay in Miami and not attend FanFest."

I'm not saying I'd be thrilled with that if I were heading down to the Convention Center today. But I think, in my heart, I'd probably say, "Yeah, that's the best thing for everyone."

Not telling the fans why the two players aren't participating is lame.

You told us why Davis isn't coming. We get it.

Tell everyone what's up with Machado and Schoop, too.

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woods grinds it out to make the cut


In a lot of ways, Friday's golfing demonstration by Tiger Woods looked a lot like something we would have seen in 2006.

He couldn't hit a fairway to save his life.

He displayed some magical short game work around the greens.

And when he needed a birdie or two, he chewed up the par 5 holes on the incoming nine.

His putter even looked a little bit like the 2006 version as he scratched and clawed his way to four birdies in his final nine holes to shoot a 1-under par 71 and make the cut at Torrey Pines.

But the 2018 edition of Tiger Woods is nothing at all like the 2006 player we saw.

It took a while on Friday, but Tiger Woods finally broke through with four birdies on the back nine to make the cut at Torrey Pines on the number.

As he reminds everyone often these days, he's still a work in progress.

Yes, Woods made the cut yesterday -- something I didn't think he would do, admittedly -- but it was by the slimmest of margins. And he trails leader Ryan Palmer by ten shots heading into the weekend, a position that would have been almost unheard of circa 2006.

That was then. This is now.

Now, in his first full-field golf tournament in nearly a year, just playing on the weekend is definitely a step in the right direction for Tiger. He might have made the cut on the number, but he'll be playing "real" golf this weekend instead of scooting around his home course in Jupiter, Florida, shooting 66 and taking a few bucks off the club champion and some other stragglers.

There's still no telling how far back he can actually make it.

Can he win again? Maybe.

Can he win another major? Maybe.

But those are "maybe" answers that should be in bold. And all caps. Because that's just it. Tiger's career, at this point, has been reduced to that of "maybe".

That was never the case in 2002, 2006, and 2012, when he was still running hot and blowing people away whenever he teed it up. There wasn't a "maybe" back then.

But it's "maybe" now. And that's the best it's going to be until he actually follows through and gets that word removed from the discussion.

He made the cut yesterday. That's a step in the right direction, for sure.

His short game was nearly impeccable on Thursday and Friday. For a guy who had "chipping yips" in 2016 and 2017, that's most certainly a good sign.

But his driver and iron game were Web.com-level over the course of the first two days. And that might be being kind, actually.

Then again, Woods won 79 tournaments and 14 majors from 1997 through 2014 and he never drove the ball all that well.

But that was the "old Tiger".

The new Tiger has less room for error. The players coming up are better than they were ten years ago. And the courses are longer and tougher now, too.

That said, the most important thing for Woods this week in La Jolla isn't his score.

It's his health.

Last year, he played three rounds of golf before his back finally gave way and ended his season in mid-February. So far, so good at Torrey Pines, where Woods swung the club with force and was never bothered by impact in the rough, where he spent most of his time on Friday.

Let's see what the weekend brings for Tiger, who, if nothing else, at least looks healthy.

You can't play if you're hurt.

Maybe Woods is over his back issues. Maybe he's on the verge of being healthy again. Maybe he's going to compete for wins and major titles in this, the November of his career.

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

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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 8 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.

Friday
January 26
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issue 26
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fact and opinion loves the juice


FACT -- UMBC's new $85 million indoor arena is set to open on February 3rd when the Retrievers take on Vermont in men's basketball.

OPINION-- It's still Baltimore's greatest entertainment tragedy that city officials haven't been able to figure out how to finance and build an 18,000 seat arena somewhere downtown. Coppin State, Towson University and UMBC have all built new state-of-the-art facilities (seating between 4,000 and 6,000) within the last decade, by the way.

FACT: Within hours of one another yesterday, the Milwaukee Brewers added Christian Yelich in a trade with the Marlins and signed Lorenzo Cain, late of the Kansas City Royals. Milwaukee got much better on Thursday.

OPINION: The Orioles haven't done anything. All off season. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. But I renewed my 13-game mini-plan. I guess that makes me the dummy.

FACT: Tony Finau is the first-round leader at the PGA Tour event in La Jolla, California, shooting 7-under par in Thursday's first round.

OPINION Finau is a big win away from being a significant force on the TOUR. And by "big" win, I'm talking about a major, The PLAYERS Championship, or one of the World Golf Championships events. He's Dustin Johnson 2.0, but doesn't quite have the full resume of DJ. Finau is legit. Don't be shocked if he qualifies for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in September.

FACT: Tom Brady is going to be the NFL's MVP for the 2017 season. Carson Wentz had an outside shot at the award until he was injured in December.

OPINION: Here's a water-cooler question for you. Is Brady the most valuable player in the "modern era" of the NFL? If the league wanted to identify a league MVP for the last 52 years, would it be Brady? I say "yes", he'd be the winner.

With his 30th goal of the season last night, Alex Ovechkin became just the third player in NHL history to score 30 goals or more in each of his first 13 seasons in the NHL. The other two? Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner.

FACT: The Caps broke their 3-game losing streak last night with a 4-2 win at Florida.

OPINION: Something happened to the Capitals during their in-season five-day winter break. They don't look anything like the team that surged up the Eastern Conference standings in late December and early January. Part of the problem is guys like Kuznetsov and Burakovsky have been stinking up the joint and Oshie has only scored once since Santa came down the chimney. Hard to win when those three guys aren't doing anything to help.

FACT: For the 2017 season, the Atlanta Falcons dropped prices on their food and drink concession items. Unlimited soda was $2.00, as was bottled water, popcorn, hot dogs and pretzels. Pizza, french fries and nachos were $3.00 each. And guess what happened? Their concession revenue actually showed an overall increase by 16%.

OPINION: The Ravens were also successful in dropping something in 2017: passes.

FACT: In men's college hoops, Purdue held off Michigan last night, 92-88, to extend their perfect Big 10 record to 9-0 this season. The Boilermakers are ranked 3rd in the country with an overall mark of 20-2.

OPINION: With Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State all in the top 20 and headed to the NCAA tournament, I think there's a really good bet that one of those three advances to the Final Four. And Michigan is hanging around too, although I don't see them as a Final Four-caliber team.

FACT: Tiger Woods has won 14 major championships in his storied PGA Tour career. This week he's kicking off his 2018 campaign by playing at Torrey Pines, the site of his most recent major title, the 2008 U.S. Open. In the field this week there are 155 other players. Combined, they haven't won 14 major titles. That's a staggering statistic, provided to #DMD by our friend George McDowell.

OPINION: There isn't a play on the TOUR today who has a chance at reaching Tiger's current total of 14 majors. In fact, there's likely not a player on TOUR today who can reach ten. The only active player I'd give even a smidgen of a chance at hitting the double-digit mark would be Jordan Spieth. He can win three or four Masters and then cobble together a couple of other wins at the three other majors to get close to ten in his career. My guess? Spieth wins seven majors.

FACT: Wresting titan Vince McMahon is once again challenging the NFL's supremacy by starting a new professional league. The XFL (2.0) will kick off in the spring of 2020, McMahon announced yesterday. He said the goal will be to have game times of "about two hours" and pledged that all players will stand for the national anthem and will be employees of the league rather than the individual teams. McMahon also said "No player with a criminal record will be permitted to play in the league."

OPINION: I assume by "criminal record", McMahon means convicted of a crime. Lots of people get charged with crimes. But getting convicted of that crime is what gets you a record. In any case, McMahon's criminal record rule just eliminated roughly 30% of the NFL from ever teeing it up in the XFL.

FACT: It's January 26th and the Orioles have two starting pitchers, still, for the 2018 season: Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

OPINION: Bundy will be the opening day starter and Gausman will fall in right behind him in the #2 slot. After that? Well, apparently it will be Miguel Castro, the erstwhile relief arm who is being groomed as a starter. I assume Chris Tillman will be back in orange and black in 2018 on a one-year deal. Then who? I have no idea, and neither do the Birds. A 70-92 record in 2018 seems about right to me.

FACT: By most accounts, Tony Romo enjoyed a successful first year as the lead color analyst alongside Jim Nantz on CBS during the recent NFL season. Romo was definitely an upgrade over Phil Simms, who had really lost his way over the last few years before CBS made the change prior to the 2017 season. (That note on Simms is more of a fact than an opinion...)

OPINION: Romo is also a scratch golfer who has tried several times in recent years to qualify for the U.S. Open, albeit unsuccessfully. Don't be surprised if CBS uses him in some sort of role in their award-winning golf coverage. He knows the game, he's a good broadcaster (already) and he has a solid on-air relationship with Nantz.

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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 meaning of citizenship


One day early in the first century when St. Paul, aka Saul, was on the road spreading the Good News, he found himself in Jerusalem, surrounded by an angry mob that was incensed by his blasphemous words. This mob was shouting, throwing off their cloaks, and flinging dust into the air. The authorities set out to find the reason for the citizenry's displeasure, and dispatched centurions to arrest Paul. He was brought down to the station and bound up, in preparation for questioning. In order to insure the accused would speak the truth, and speak it quickly, he was to be flogged during interrogation.

As the centurion with the whip approached, Paul asked him, "Is it legal for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen?"

The centurion froze in fear. It was the rule in the conquered provinces that Romans were to be guaranteed safe passage, and the caesars enforced this rule on local leaders, so much so that its obedience was an absolute condition of continued leadership, and in some instances, continued existence.

The centurion raced off to fetch his boss, the tribune. When they returned, the tribune asked Paul, "Are you in fact a citizen?"

And Paul uttered the magic words: "Civis romanus sum."

"I am a citizen of Rome."

In Paul's account of his little adventure, he records that, on hearing these words, they cut him loose and withdrew from him immediately.

Five months before his assassination, President John Kennedy spoke to 400,000 citizens of West Berlin packed shoulder to shoulder in front of the Schöneberg City Hall. The purpose of his speech was to demonstrate the firm commitment of the United States to prevent the spread of communism in Europe. The president spoke to citizens of a city that had been divided by a wall for fourteen years. In his talk, he stressed the differences between communism and capitalism. The argumentation of his speech consisted of raising up the assertions of those who said that communism was the wave of the future, would allow cooperation between the two systems, and could lead to economic prosperity – and he dashed those assertions by challenging those who made them to see their errors for themselves: "Lassen sie nach Berlin kommen:" – Let them come to Berlin!

President Kennedy in Berlin in 1963. The video is 10½ minutes long.

Powerful stuff, the like of which is not heard much around these parts these days.

The rhetorical element of Mr. Kennedy's speech took on a magnificent significance. He declared in two places, Ich bin ein BerlinerI am a citizen of Berlin. He of course spoke figuratively. But his declaration of support for and solidarity with the citizens of the surrounded and besieged city invoked the universal human ethos of love of homeland.

It is important to note that the president did not state that he was a citizen of West Berlin. He said Berlin, which included that part of the city walled off and kept under the thumb of a communist dictator who was beholden to a communist tyrant. This distinction, I believe, shows that the concept of citizenship consists of strong feelings for one's land and its people, and has little or nothing to do with current government or the people who at the time hold power in it.

[Note: Soon after the speech, two young New York writers, cynically unmoved by the president's words and eager to show off their fluency in a second language, suggested that Mr. Kennedy had proclaimed himself a jelly doughnut, a breakfast sweet sold in the city and nicknamed ein berliner. These erudite lads lacked all nuance in their second tongue. Any German will confirm that Mr. Kennedy's words expressed precisely what he intended, and with elegant poetic force. The most-often given example of this intentional misunderstanding in English is that, on hearing one from the Big Apple proclaim himself to be a New Yorker, he would be taken to mean that he was a magazine.]

Mr. Forrester, in his fine piece here on Wednesday, prescribed clown shoes for the NFL for its part in the "official" Super Bowl program advertisement imbroglio. We suggest to keep the Cart open and not to Checkout yet. There are more customers, and they need more items.

The NFL's request of the AMVETS to change the ad words from "#Please Stand" to either "Please Honor Our Veterans" or "Please Stand For Our Veterans" indicates that someone with executive authority in the league office has it in his or her mind that standing during the playing of the National Anthem somehow honors veterans, or that veterans are the reason folks should stand.

This is fuzzy thinking – the like of which if employed by an airline pilot, a bus driver, a chef, or a surgeon – could cause death or serious injury or illness. We wonder how one or more NFL employees who have no doubt demonstrated expertise and good judgment sufficient to attain decision-making positions in a highly visible organization can so shallowly fail to unravel an uncomplicated public-relations knot in a way that shows some elementary knowledge of the customs of the country that they blatantly include in their branding.

As a VFW member, I'm ashamed to admit that my organization was solicited by the NFL to place a Super Bowl program ad and opted to headline it with the words, "We Stand For Veterans." I don't know the specifics of how these words were chosen, nor whether they were the original choice of the VFW or resulted from negotiations with the same NFL exec(s) that dealt with the AMVETS. But I don't care. "We!" Who in hell is "We?" That my organization has the temerity to suggest that people stand at the playing of the National Anthem to honor me and my brothers and sisters who've worn the uniform is anathema to me. It is wrong – it is nonsense – it is an improper and unnecessarily divisive reach – and it is as embarrassing to me as it is insulting to others, both veterans and not. For whatever it's worth, I offer my apology.

I love this country. I glory in it as a democratic republic, the first of its kind our species has crafted and an experiment in government that has lasted 219 years. It's founding document, the Constitution of the United States, is held in reverence by most of its citizens. I take great comfort in the protections it offers to citizens – an outspoken critic like me would probably have been shot, hanged, or disappeared under any other form of government long ago.

Oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution have been sworn by a majority of United States citizens over the centuries, with no distinction among us between veteran and civilian. It is this widely shared reverence for the words of the document, which by its terms provides method and means for improving, correcting, and updating both itself and its nation's flaws and faults through peaceful means, that gives it its glory. It is THE reason some choose to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. Some may elect not to stand, in order to draw attention to real and immediate problems within the republic – and those who are standing, if they stand for reasons that are true to the words that set out the underlying ethos of the document, will respect, or at least not take offense, at those who do not stand. They will, in the spirit of the Constitution, empathize, analyze, and act as their consciences dictate.

We can disagree, but the differences should not cause anger that leads to irrational behavior or thoughts.

These current particular issues are grand, worthy and needful of high debate and consideration that might lead to a just resolution. The current center cannot hold. The only thing clear to this writer at this point is that the debate should not be led, or guided, or even informed to any meaningful degree, by mind-bogglingly shallow mid-level functionaries of a mere sports corporation whose sole motive is profit, nor an organization that attempts to elevate its members' status through misappropriation of the meaning and purpose of long-standing national tradition.

Let us instead, with full acknowlegement of the inherent flaws of our species, take our cues from a pretty little rich kid from Massachussets with the morals of an alley cat who, when thrust onto the international stage, had the smarts to hire a spectacular speechwriter, and the combination of which gave us this:



When Mr. Kennedy spoke, not one in 20 Germans present understood what he said. But when his translator translated his German into German, all in the square understood his words. And when, perhaps in response to President Reagan's entreaty some 20 years later, Mr. Gorbachev tore down the wall, all the world rejoiced, and were, on that glorious day, citizens of Berlin.

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tiger poll results say...


Our #DMD reader's poll on Thursday indicated a lot of you are buying Tiger Woods stock these days.

But most are only putting down a nickel or two, no more.

Those who didn't think Tiger Woods would ever come back and compete on the PGA Tour got the message loud and clear on Thursday.

48% of those who responded think Woods will make the 36-hole cut but finish outside the top 25. Woods has his work cut out for him to reach that level, even, as his opening round of even par 72 on Thursday leaves him seven shots behind leader Tony Finau.

23% of you said Tiger will finish somewhere around 15th place.

19% of you thought Woods will earn a top 10 finish.

8% of you thought Tiger will fail to make the cut.

And a few brave souls, 2% of you to be precise, predicted Woods will win the golf tournament.

Me? I was one of the 8% who predicted Tiger will miss the cut. Given that he's moving over to the easier North Course at Torrey Pines today, I might wind up being wrong on that one. He probably has to "only" shoot two or three under today to make it, perhaps even only one under.

Woods looked pretty good in Thursday's opening round. Nothing was razor sharp but nothing was woefully off kilter, either. The greens on the South Course have always been a bit more difficult and mercurial than those on the North, so Tiger gets a chance today to play 18 holes on better greens. That should help him.

Overall, I'd give his opening round a grade of B-minus. He missed a couple of reasonably short (inside of six feet) putts and hit a couple of loose wedge shots that led to improbable bogeys, but for a guy who essentially didn't play any tournament golf in 2017, Tiger looked pretty good on Thursday.

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Thursday
January 25
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issue 25
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no trip to cooperstown for clemens or bonds and i love it


For the 6th consecutive year, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) got it right yesterday.

They didn't cave in to the pressure and they stood tall, the way I would if, by chance, I had a voting say in who made it into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Yesterday, again, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens failed to secure 75% of the vote, which means both will wait until 2019 -- at the very least -- to see if people are willing to forgive and forget.

I'd forgive them.

But come voting time, I wouldn't forget.

Six years and counting now for baseball's all-time home run leader, as Barry Bonds was again denied entry into the Hall of Fame yesterday.

And I can only hope the guys and gals who make up the 422 votes pledge to keep on "not forgetting" for at least the next four years.

Barry Bonds was a great player. He was a steroid user.

Roger Clemens was a great player. He was a steroid user.

I talked about this subject last week on "The Juice" (no pun intended) and said I have a pretty easy personal solution to the quandry that exists for players who played and flourished in the so-called "steroid era".

I'd have two categories for those players: Those who DEFINITELY used steroids. And those who MAYBE used steroids.

Those who DEFINITELY used would never get my vote.

Those in the MAYBE category would receive my consideration and, if worthy, my vote.

Barry Bonds definitely used steroids.

Roger Clemens definitely used steroids.

I'd never vote for either of them.

Full disclosure, I suspect that Vlad Guerrero used steroids as well. But "suspect" is a fancy word for "maybe". And, so, I'd vote for Vlad if I had a ballot, simply because I can only say "maybe he used steroids".

I suspect Jim Thome used as well. But I don't have any way of putting him in the "definitely" category. I'm not sure I'd vote for Thome, actually. He was a really good player. I just don't know if he was a Hall of Fame player.

But, for sure, Bonds and Clemens wouldn't get my vote.

Not last year, not this year and not next year, either.

I've seen lots of media members explain their rationale for voting for each of them by simply saying, "Lots of guys were doing steroids back in the late 1990's...how are you going to keep those two out when others who used are more than likely either already in or will get in?"

Here's another way to look at it: What do you say to the guys who played in the 1990's and were good players or, perhaps, very good players -- who DIDN'T give in to the pressure and use steroids or PED's?

How is it fair to them that Bonds and Clemens receive baseball's ultimate career distinction and yet, they used steroids to improve their performance?

One other question, too, for those who don't think using steroids "back in the day" was such a bad thing.

If it wasn't so wrong, why don't Bonds and Clemens just admit to using them now, in 2018?

Roger can't get in, either. Seven Cy Young awards aren't enough to get a steroid user into Cooperstown these days.

Why wouldn't they both just say, now, "Sure, I used steroids. So what...everyone else was too back then."?

The answer is simple, of course. They're not willing to admit it because they know it was wrong. It was wrong then. And it's still wrong now.

And they know if they admitted it now, they'd never get in.

As it stands, we all know they both used steroids anyway. The BALCO case proved beyond any doubt at all that Bonds used them. And Clemens wound up lying to Congress about his use...that's how knee-deep he was in trying to cover up his involvement.

It's not all that different than what Pete Rose went through for 20 years. Time after time, Rose denied gambling on baseball. Yet, we all knew the truth. He bet on baseball games when he managed the Reds.

Bonds and Clemens could come clean, but they're afraid to do it because they know the public reaction would seal their Hall of Fame fate.

I'm beyond thrilled that both of them will have to wait at least another year before they get in. And based on the numbers they received yesterday (roughly 57% for each), there's a decent chance they've hit their zenith in terms of vote totals and the next four years will see their chances actually diminish instead of increasing.

I hope they never get in.

They were both great players. Beyond great, really.

But they made their own bed.

And they can toss and turn in it for the next four years as far as I'm concerned and spend sleepless nights wondering if they'll ever see Cooperstown.

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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.


As you heard countless times beforehand, Sunday’s Patriots-Jaguars game made it seven consecutive AFC championship game appearances for New England.

Tom Brady and company are now 4-3 in those games, having lost twice to Peyton Manning in Denver and once, of course, to the elite Joe Flacco and the Ravens in Foxborough.

Yes, it easily could have been twice to the Ravens in Foxborough, in which case New England would have lost the first three of those seven straight appearances. The Boston talk shows would have been loud with complaints about how, suddenly, Belichick and Brady couldn’t win the big one.

Even so, the Patriots did lose the game three times in four years after the Billy Cundiff game, with the only win coming in a rout of the Colts that would have occurred no matter the football inflation levels.

Still, you can’t win the conference championship game, or lose it, without getting there. And there are two reasons why the Patriots keep getting there.

One is Brady, the best player of all time at the most important position in pro sports.

The other is the lack of resistance supplied by the three other teams in their division, the AFC East.

Like every other NFL team, the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have each played 112 regular-season games since 2011. For each of them, only 14 of those games have come against the Patriots, which makes 98 games against everyone else.

Remember when Rex Ryan showed up in Buffalo and blew hot air about how he was going to take down the Patriots? How'd that go for him?

In the NFL, you get plenty of chances to win games each season against the teams that aren’t in your division. Ten, to be exact, compared to six divisional games.

Forget for a second how many games the Patriots have won since 2011. It’s a lot.

The Bills and the Dolphins have each won 51 games in those seven years, while the Jets have won 46.

Combine the 21 seasons of those three teams over the last seven years, and only two of them have finished with double-digit wins. The Jets won 10 games in 2015, and the Dolphins won 10 games in 2016.

There have only been two other nine-win seasons among that group in that time, both by the Bills, in 2017 and 2014. That’s four winning seasons out of 21, with 14 of each team’s 16 games every year coming against teams other than the Patriots.

The combined record of those three teams against the Patriots since 2011 is 9-33, a winning percentage of 21.4. Yes, terrible.

The combined record of those three teams against everyone else (including each other) is 139-155, a winning percentage of 47.1.

Honestly, as much it may seem so, not much better.

None of those teams has been good enough to even win more than half its games against teams other than the Patriots.

The Patriots haven’t played on Wild Card weekend since after the 2009 season, when they gave up an 83-yard run to Baltimore’s Ray Rice on the game’s first play and never recovered. The credit must go to Brady, Belichick and crew for winning so many games to put their team in that advantageous playoff position.

But there hasn’t been a team in Orchard Park, the Meadowlands or Miami-Dade County that’s come close to offering a challenge, even with 14 other games every year against teams that aren’t nearly as good.

Apart from the “Tuck Rule” game way back in the beginning, the Patriots haven’t won because of luck. During their greatest season, the 18-1 run in 2007, you could even argue that they were unlucky; remember the Giants’ David Tyree somehow catching a ball on his helmet during the Super Bowl?

With these teams as “rivals,” though, they’ve been incredibly fortunate.

Taking out Brady, the best quarterback in their division since 2011 is probably Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins. He’s actually been “successful” against New England, winning three times in nine career starts.

But he’s 34-34 as a starter otherwise. Tannehill started against the Ravens four years in a row from 2013 through 2016, and the only one of those he won came against a 2015 Baltimore team that had to start a decrepit Matt Schaub at quarterback.

Putting Tannehill aside (he missed the 2017 season entirely), the Dolphins have visited M&T Bank Stadium the last two seasons and lost by a combined score of 78-6. That’s how good they are.

Somehow both the Bills and the Jets ended up being caught in the web of Rex Ryan. It started great in New Jersey for the former Ravens’ defensive coordinator; that playoff win in New England in January 2011 was particularly special.

The week after that marks the last time, of course, that the Patriots had to sit at home and watch the AFC championship game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, a great dude who long ago surpassed any expectations anyone had for a guy from Harvard, threw lots of interceptions for both the Bills and the Jets.

To use a Trumpian expression, and since the future President supposedly was a potential bidder for the team, people say the Bills were going to move to Toronto before the Pegula family stepped in. People also say that the Jets are one of the worst franchises in sports history. GQ magazine put both franchises in their list of the top 20 worst franchises.

It’s been a tough 21st century for those teams. And only some of that has to do with the Patriots.

Now, before you accuse me of belittling New England’s accomplishments, please stop. Let me genuflect for a moment.

In the last seven years, the Patriots have basically averaged a 13-3 season. If a team averages 10 wins per year in a stretch like that, like the Ravens did from 2008-2014, it’s awfully good. 13 is incredible.

Tom Brady turned 40 before the season, but he’s better than he’s ever been before. Even slower and less mobile than he ever was, he’s less likely to try to make plays that aren’t there, and he’s just as good as he’s ever been at taking advantage of the plays that are there.

Remember, also, that at his core Bill Belichick is a defensive coach. His team gave up fewer points than the Ravens did this year. Both the Patriots and the Eagles ranked in the top five in that category this season; ahead of them were their two opponents in the conference championship games.

The Patriots are among the greatest winning dynasties of all time, playing in a modern sports world of free agency and player movement.

The Bills, Dolphins and Jets can be excused for not reaching that level, or even close to it.

But what’s their excuse otherwise?

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how will tiger fare at torrey pines?


Tiger Woods make his "official" return to the PGA Tour this week in La Jolla, California, teeing it up at one of several courses he's owned his career; Torrey Pines.

Yes, I know, he played in the Hero World Challenge back in December. Wasn't that his "return" to golf, you ask?

Will Tiger be smiling like this around 7 pm this Sunday at the conclusion of the tournament at Torrey Pines?

Not really. I mean, it was "real" golf and all. They kept score. Prize money was handed out. Heck, they even distributed world ranking points at that event.

But teeing it up against 17 other guys in the Bahamas is a lot different than what Woods will do starting today, where he goes up against a full field of 120 players and a handful of major champions and Ryder Cup participants, including Jason Day, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and others.

Oh, and everyone's watching starting today, too.

Lots of folks around the country poo-poo'd the Hero World Challenge. They called it "silly season" golf and stuff like that.

There's no downplaying the event at Torrey Pines. It's a real golf tournament.

Woods looked the part in Wednesday's pro-am and seemed energetic and enthusiastic in his post-round press conference. And if you believe the opinions of fellow TOUR players matter, both of his Tuesday practice round buddies, Jason Day and Bryson DeChambeau, claim Woods hit it past them on virtually every driving hole and was swinging the club well and without pain or hesitation.

Practice rounds don't matter, though. Tournament rounds are what count.

So, Tiger makes his return at Torrey Pines this week. What's he going to do?

Pick one of the options below and cast your vote.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Will you attend the Ravens home opener in September?
Definitely.
Most likely.
Not sure at this point.
Likely not.
No chance.
Name
Email address

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Wednesday
January 24
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issue 24
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the nfl can't be this dumb


There's no way the NFL is this stupid.

They can't be.

But, apparently, they are.

The league has rejected an ad that was to be placed in the official Super Bowl program.

What was the ad's content, you ask?

It must have been something extrordinarily controversial for the league to turn away a chance to make money, right? The NFL never met a buck they didn't like, after all.

The ad was purchased by a group called "American Veterans" and in it read the words: Please Stand.

That's it. Please Stand

The league rejected the ad.

The ad that was rejected by the NFL.

And not only did they reject the ad, they had the nerve to actually ask AMVETS to change the wording in the ad so they could take their money but still "get their way".

The NFL requested the words be changed to: "Please Honor Our Veterans" or "Please Stand For Our Veterans", but those pleas were rejected by AMVETS.

So the NFL didn't blink. And neither did AMVETS. And the ad won't run in the official Super Bowl program on February 4.

The same ad, by the way, has been approved to run in both the NBA and NHL All-Star Game programs, AMVETS said.

Interestingly, the league approved an ad from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Group with the words "We Stand For Veterans".

But to have the flag in an ad with the words "Please Stand" was apparently too sensitive for the NFL.

And those goofs in New York wonder why the stadiums were ghost towns in November and December.

Naturally, lots of football fans (and ex football fans) quickly picked up on the fact that the NFL will allow its employees to NOT stand for the flag and/or the national anthem, but won't allow a group to simply ask everyone TO stand for the flag and anthem.

The NFL has clearly picked a winner in this fight: The players. They're going with them to the finish line on this subject.

I hope they love all those empty seats.

And there's another group who has also picked a side in this battle between those who stand and those that don't: ESPN.

The four-letter network is now so tongue-locked with Roger Goodell and the NFL that they buried this story at the bottom of the headlines on their "NFL" page yesterday.

It should have been, of course, a headline story on the front page of their entire website.

Instead, on Wednesday morning, here are the headlines on the front page of ESPN.com.


Westbrook: George snub doesn't make sense

Durant on ejection: Ref was 'trying to get me'

Porzingis, KAT, Wall among All-Star reserves

Lue concedes it's time to adjust Cavs' lineup

NCAA investigating MSU's handling of Nassar

Diaz hints at date for potential UFC comeback


How's that for avoiding the subject, huh?

Four headlines about the NBA, one about MSU's handling of Larry Nassar, and one about someone in UFC.

Nothing at all on the front page, above the fold -- as they say in the newspaper biz -- about the NFL rejecting an ad for the Super Bowl program from a group of military veterans asking people to stand for the flag and the national anthem.

ESPN must have vowed to go cold turkey on "decency" in 2018 as one of their New Year's resolutions.

And yet, we're supposed to believe they're a "news agency", right? Yeah.....not so much.

But this story is more about the NFL than it is the folks at ESPN. We sorta-kinda already knew the folks up in Bristol were wobbly when it came to moral fortitude.

The NFL just doesn't get it.

They've allowed this situation with the kneeling and the flag to spiral out of control almost since the very first day Colin Kaepernick didn't stand prior to a game in San Francisco.

At almost every turn, the league, Goodell and the owners have vomited on themselves as the stories grew, the friction increased, and the seats emptied.

Now, they've dug in and said, "We'll decide what the content will be on the ads you want to run."

They'll take money from burgers and beers and cars. All well and good.

And they'll take money from the American Veterans Group, too. They just won't run their ad unless they change the language to appease the league.

Clown shoes...

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still here, still waiting


It's now January 24th.

And not only has the Ravens' annual "State of the Team" press conference not yet been held, there's no word on when it's scheduled to be held.

Nothing.

Here's something even more odd.

Still no word from the Ravens on when the team will hold their annual post-season press conference and whether Steve Bisciotti will be involved in it.

Several national NFL writers tweeted out last Thursday that the team's front office brass was heading to Jupiter, Florida last weekend for the annual post-season pow-wow at owner Steve Bisciotti's house.

Maybe that event actually did happen.

But I saw one member of the team's front office core last Saturday at 4 pm in Towson. We exchanged pleasantries. I didn't ask "why aren't you in Jupiter?", but I guess I could have.

I don't know anything about the scheduling of the pow-wow at Bisciotti's house. Maybe it started Sunday morning. Maybe it was Thursday and Friday.

All I know is that several NFL writers tweeted out "The Ravens front office will be in Jupiter, Florida this weekend (last weekend, Jan. 20-21) for their annual sitdown with owner Steve Bisciotti" and yet, at least one member of that group was in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.

So, there's that.

And still no word from the team on when they're going to hold the end-of-season press conference.

Is there any chance at all that John Harbaugh's extensive post-season presser on January 4th was "good enough" to qualify as the season-ending press conference. The league does mandate that all teams meet with the media at the end of the season.

Was Harbaugh's 45-minute gathering on January 4 the only chance the media is going to get to talk with the team about the 2017 season?

Perhaps.

If it isn't, why hasn't the team at least announced when the "State of" presser will be held?

To me, that's the most puzzling question of all. Why not just announce the date so people at least know you're having it?

I'm leaning in the direction of the team using the Harbaugh presser on January 4 as their "end of season" press conference. They know, or at least have to figure, that Bisciotti will be bombarded with questions about kneeling and apologies and December letters to season ticket holders -- and empty seats.

And they don't want any part of it.

No matter what Bisciotti says, he's going to get beat up.

But the Ravens still have an obligation to face the media, take the questions, and give answers to the fans.

It won't be pretty, but they have to do it.

And it should start, if you ask me, with at least letting everyone know when the season-ending press conference is actually going to be held.

Or -- if it's going to be held at all.

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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 8 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 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 23
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wait until you see this


It's no great revelation to say this: The Ravens have never been any good at selecting wide receivers in the draft.

An Old Mill grad or a Flyers fan can figure that out, right?

But do you have any idea how bad the Ravens have really been? It's staggering.

I didn't know. I mean, I knew they had struggled with the draft, but I didn't really understand just how bad it's been until I took a look at the team's draft history.

This was the last time the Ravens selected a wide receiver with their first round pick.

The report below will show you the 25 receivers the Ravens have picked since 1996.

The opinion you'll see on the overall impact of their respective NFL careers is in parentheses and made by me.

I'm not a wide receiver expert, but I think I know enough to offer a reasonably accurate opinion on all of them.

In the matter of balance and fairness, I'll remind everyone that the Ravens have been very adept at picking offensive and defensive linemen over the years. That, without question, has been their specialty.

Wide receivers? Not much of a specialty.

Some of these guys were so bad I didn't even really know how to rank them. And, in a case or two, I'd ask you to keep in mind that they had more success as punt or kick returners than wide receivers. They weren't selected for that role, though. They were selected to help the Ravens' receiving corps.

Ready for some fun? Here goes.

James Roe, 6th round, 1996 -- (who?)

Jermaine Lewis, 5th, 1996 -- (not bad)

Patrick Johnson, 2nd, 1998 -- (nothing)

Brandon Stokley, 4th, 1999 -- (terrific career)

Travis Taylor, 1st, 2000 -- (disappointing)

Javin Hunter, 6th, 2002 -- (nope)

LaMont Brightful, 6th, 2002 -- (nothing)

Ron Johnson, 4th, 2002 -- (zero)

Derek Abney, 7th, 2004 -- (less than zero)

Clarence Moore, 6th, 2004 -- (occasionally useful)

Devard Darling, 3rd, 2004 -- (one or two bright moments)

Mark Clayton, 1st, 2005 -- (some good, mostly bad)

Demetrius Williams, 4th, 2006 -- (occasionally useful)

Yamon Figurs, 3rd, 2007 -- (nothing)

Justin Harper, 7th, 2008 -- (zero)

Marcus Smith, 4th, 2008 -- (zero)

David Reed, 5th, 2010 -- (showed brief signs)

Tandon Doss, 4th, 2011 -- (decent)

Torrey Smith, 2nd, 2011 -- (good career thus far)

Tommy Streeter, 6th, 2012 -- (nothing)

Aaron Mellette, 7th, 2013 -- (who?)

Michael Campanaro, 7th, 2014 -- (getting better)

Darren Waller, 6th, 2015 -- (nope)

Breshad Perriman, 1st, 2015 --(hasn't figured it out)

Chris Moore, 4th, 2016 -- (shows promise)


Wow. Right?

A bunch of things obviously stand out when you look at that list.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 (2001 playoffs) with one of the league's all time top defenses and one of the worst offenses to ever claim the NFL title.

Guess how many wide receivers they drafted in 2001? As the list shows: None.

What's even more alarming is that they went out and picked up a new quarterback, Elvis Grbac, and provided him with no help via the draft. Sure, they spent a number one pick on Travis Taylor in the 2000 draft, but we all know how that went right from the start.

Another item to spotlight: The Ravens have selected 25 wide receivers since 1996. Out of those 25, exactly seven of them have come in rounds 1, 2 or 3.

The Ravens have clearly never made the wide receiver position a priority in the draft. Maybe the early burn of Travis Taylor in 2000 scarred them more than we realized. Perhaps it was Mark Clayton never living up to his first round billing that was the final straw for Ozzie Newsome.

Whatever the case, it's painfully obvious the Ravens haven't, A) tried to overload their draft process with wide receivers and, B) picked good ones when they did go the wide receiver route.

Then we have our friends up the turnpike in Western Pennsylvania. For whatever reason, they've been able to scout and draft high quality pass catchers in Pittburgh.

It's an impressive list: Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, JuJu Smith-Schuster. Even Mike Wallace, the current/potentially former Raven had some productive seasons in black and gold.

Yes, the Steelers have drafted some wide receiver bums, too, like Limas Sweed and Willie Reid, but there's no doubting the success level of their receiver selections.

Then there's the issue of free agent wide receivers the Ravens have brought in over the years. That has been a better exercise, but it's always a lot easier to pick players with track records than not.

Still, there have been lots of free agent whiffs engineered by Ozzie and his staff. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Frank Sanders, Kelly Washington, and last year's wipeout, Jeremy Maclin are just four that come to mind.

But they hit the bullseye with the likes of Boldin, Mason and Smith Sr. Those three were delightfully productive, obviously.

So, it's pretty easy to figure out what should be the next step for the Ravens, wide receiver wise. Given their history of drafting, compared to the success of their free agent efforts, it's probably best for Ozzie and his staff to zero in on a few free agent receivers this March and stay away from targeting college players.

That's not to say the Ravens shouldn't take any receivers in the draft. They obviously should.

But their meal ticket comes, potentially, from the free agent crop that will be peddling themselves once the Super Bowl comes and goes.

Terrelle Pryor, Sammy Watkins, Marqise Lee, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, and Jaron Brown are all unrestricted free agents heading into the 2018 campaign.

Sign three of them, I say.

Maybe even four.

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if you could have any five players...


I saw this one being thrown around on Twitter yesterday and was intrigued.

It took me about 15 minutes to finally come up with my final five.

If the Ravens could have any five players in the league on their team in 2018, but no two at the same position, who would you take?

Of course, this is all "pie in the sky" given that we're doing this without considering the salary cap ramifications of the five players we're adding, but it's still fun nonetheless.

Who are your five? Remember...no two at the same position.

My five?

Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell, Rob Gronkowski and J.J. Watt.

Watt could be the wild card of the group given his injury status from the 2017 campaign, but there's no reason to think he can't come back "good as new" next season.

As you can see, I went heavy on the offense with my picks. I took the best quarterback (Brady fans would argue that), the best running back, the best wide receiver and the best tight end.

If the Ravens can't beat Cincinnati with those four offensive players, then we'll just fold up the club and leave the league.

Now...who are YOU taking with your five picks?

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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 fall to indiana


Maryland fell a bit short last night, faltering down the stretch, as Indiana claimed a 72-69 win in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers were led by a player that was listed as “doubtful” and was on crutches just a few days ago. Juwan Morgan played 36 minutes for Indiana and scored a game high 25 points on 10-18 shooting.

His back to back buckets, just 26 seconds apart, erased a Terp 5-point lead with 4:13 left in the game. Maryland would never lead again.

While Morgan’s ankle was a non-issue, Bruno Fernando’s ankle was a major factor. Fernando rolled it with 15:29 remaining in the game and was unable to return. His absence was huge as Morgan was also a real difference maker defensively while totally shutting down an intimidated Michal Cekovsky and a dear-in-the-headlights Joshua Tomaic.

Those two Terp front court players scored as many points, combined, as I did sitting in my house watching.

The usually steady Anthony Cowan picked a bad time to play a second half that was as bad as I’ve ever seen from him.

Maryland's road loss to Indiana on Monday night was marred by a dismal second half performance from Anthony Cowan.

His stat line over the last 20 minutes accurately portrayed his lack of production. Cowan was 2-12 from the field, which included 0-5 from the three-point line.

Most of Cowan's second half drives to the basket ended in a blocked shot and when you combined that with his 6 second half turnovers, you have a bunch of unproductive offensive possessions.

It was far too much for Maryland to overcome.

Maryland coach, Mark Turgeon, admitted after the game that, “When Anthony plays like that we aren’t very good.”

The guy might be gassed from playing almost 40 minutes every night, but in the second half he was a shell of the player that poured in 13 points in the first half without committing a turnover.

The first half ended with Indiana leading 42-39. Both teams were lighting it up from field from inside and out. Maryland finished the half shooting 52% from the floor and 50% from the three-point line. However, they allowed Indiana to shoot 56% from the floor and connect on 5 of 12 threes.

In lieu of giving a play by play of the final minutes, I’ll touch on a few plays that really defined Maryland's road meltdown.

With 1:42 left in the game, Darryl Morsell fouled Morgan. Morgan hit both shots to give the Hoosiers a 67-63 advantage. Morsell then throws the ball in but it doesn’t quite get to Cowan. So, Morsell runs onto the court and gives the ball a nudge. That’s a violation, and a really bad turnover.

Luckily, Indiana turned it right back over to the Terps, but it was a play that was indicative of a team that’s not ready to win conference games on the road in a loud and hostile arena.

The second careless play was a dagger for Maryland. Huerter hit a three to pull Maryland within one point with 1:06 remaining.

Indiana then runs the shot clock down to almost zero when Josh Newkirk takes a tough runner from the right side. Cowan foolishly fouls him in the act, but Newkirk misses both foul shots. Unfortunately for Maryland, both Kevin Huerter and Morsell didn’t play the missed foul shot very well, allowing Morgan (who else?) to corral the rebound for an easy put-back.

What could have been a one-point game with possession of the ball was now a three-point gap. It was a big play that Turgeon dismissed as the Terps “lined up wrong”.

Winning conference road games is difficult. Winning them without the one player that, when healthy, provides your only constant inside play is very difficult.

Winning road games when your only ball handler plays horribly is almost impossible.

Tack on making loads of mental mistakes, and you can forget about winning. That’s what happened tonight. Maryland, again looked rattled in someone else’s gym.

It’s reasonable to assume that these last two road losses will cost the Terps any chance they may have had at getting an at large bid to the NCAA tournament.

They have Michigan State at home next, followed by a road game at Purdue. Barring some totally unforeseeable chain of events, they will roll into Wisconsin on February 4th having lost 4 of their last 6 games and sporting a 4-7 conference record.

Even one loss the rest of the season would leave them at 10-8 in the conference and without a signature win.

Frankly, when I looked at the squad running around trying to capture a win last night, I didn’t see a team with enough talent to deserve a bid.

Huerter is really good and played well, but Morsell and Tomaic are still newbies to the pressure of road games. Wiley has very little experience and Cowan had an off night.

Not having Fernando on the court for most of the second half was too much for the team to overcome.

Also, Fernando didn’t start last night and I’m sure Turgeon had his reasons. But the reason I’d like to hear is the one that enlightens me on why he didn’t play Fernando and Cekovsky together, and in a zone defense.

Forcing that Hoosier team to shoot threes should have been a no-brainer. If Indiana beats you by making 15 of 25 threes, tip your hat and say, “good job”.

But letting them beat you by continually allowing Morgan to maneuver one-on-one against Ceko, Morsell, and even Tomaic, is indefensible.

It shouldn’t have happened. I put that squarely on the coach.

Again, I know the lineup was depleted without Fernando. I know Cowan’s off night was a killer. I know most of the other guys are young.

But you might not have given your team the best chance to win by playing a man-to-man defense that failed you down the stretch.

When Indiana needed points, and the Terps were up by five, the Hoosiers went to Morgan for easy baskets.

Turgeon and the Terps should have made Indiana beat them with their weakness, not their strength.

Bad move. Play zone and make them shoot from outside. Letting Morgan again beat your post players was a bad strategy.

A strategy, perhaps, that may have put Maryland into the NIT.

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Monday
January 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 22
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all you can do is laugh...


There was a point early in the 4th quarter of Sunday's AFC Championship Game where I mumbled to myself, "Holy schnikee, the Jaguars are going to beat the Patriots in their own building to go to the Super Bowl."

It was 20-10 at the time and Jacksonville's energy level still looked reasonably high.

And, well, we all know how the game eventually concluded. With New England winning, naturally.

I don't even know what to say anymore.

So, all I do is laugh.

I laughed at the end of the Super Bowl last February when New England somehow rallied from 28-3 down to beat the Falcons.

I laughed back in mid-December when the Patriots stole a game from the Steelers -- referee and reply aided, mind you -- that was the catalyst for yesterday's home game against the Jaguars.

And I laughed with three minutes left yesterday when Brady made that throw to Danny Amendola in the end zone and he miraculously hauled it in for the game-winning touchdown.

If I didn't laugh, I'd cry.

They did it again...for the 8th time in 16 seasons, Brady and Belichick are headed back to the Super Bowl.

So...I laugh.

It's amazing, really. They're just never, ever, ever dead.

In a lot of ways, I've grown to appreciate and respect Brady and Belichick and what they've done. It's a lot like what Tiger Woods did to everyone in golf from 2000 through 2008. Those two up in New England just tear your heart out, year after year after year.

I don't "like" them per se. Not at all. But I'm no longer a hater, either.

When you get there year after year, eventually the critics have to wave the white towel and say, "OK, I'm giving in...no more hate."

I'm waving the white towel. No more hate. Just respect.

Brady has now been a starter in the NFL for sixteen seasons. He will be playing in his eighth Super Bowl in two weeks. And when they beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl by whatever score they decide to beat them by, he'll have six titles.

There's no use in complaining about it. It is what it is.

And while I know it's vogue to bellyache about the imbalance in penalties yesterday (six for Jacksonville, one for New England), I'm the guy who is actually happy that virtually no flags were thrown. I hate when the referees take over the game. Sure, I'm certain New England was guilty of more than one penalty on Sunday, but I'd much prefer to see fewer flags than more flags, no matter who they're on.

I'm sure the Jaguars feel like they let one slip away. And they're kind of right in that regard.

Why, for example, did they feel it was a good idea to run out the final 55 seconds of the first half? They were up 14-10 at the time and pushing the Patriots around with ease in the trenches. Why not try and move the ball down the field there and maybe get in field goal position if nothing else?

I'm not saying that's why the Jags lost the game. But running scared like and killing the last 55 seconds? That isn't going to beat Brady and Belichick in their own building.

In the end, the moment probably got a little too big for the Jaguars -- as it has for nearly every single team that has invaded Foxborough in the post-season since the early 2000's. They were there...they were thhhhiiiiisssss close...and they just couldn't close the deal.

New England did what they always do, it seems.

They got better as the game went along.

And when it mattered most, Brady and Amendola proved to be unstoppable. That New England came back like that without Gronkowski was really remarkable. But as long as they have Brady, they have a chance to win.

All you can do is laugh.

And tip your cap.

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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.


Who?

Zion Williamson

News came on Saturday that Zion Williamson, the greatest dunker in the history of YouTube, has committed to coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke for the 2018-19 school year.

Williamson is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN 100 recruiting rankings; the Blue Devils also have commitments from R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish, the players ranked Nos. 1 and 3 on that list.

If you’re wondering, Maryland commit Jalen Smith, a power forward from Mount St. Joseph, is ranked No. 15.

Williamson attends the tiny Spartanburg Day School in South Carolina. His dunking prowess and creativity really is amazing, though there doesn’t seem to be much resistance to it from the similarly tiny schools on the other side of the court.

He plays with an incredible amount of force for someone so young, but it’s hard to tell what it means when his opponents are so powerless to stop him.

ESPN lists Williamson at 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds. As opposed to most players coming into college, he needs to slim down a bit, not fill out. I’ve heard someone call him a combination of LeBron James and Draymond Green, except that he’s left-handed. We’ll wait to see on that…


What?

SInow Media Podcast

As always, we encourage you to listen to “The Juice” every morning, even it’s slightly less passionate than a certain 2012 radio rant.

If you get a little more time during the day, though, I’d encourage you to check out the weekly SInow Media Podcast, hosted by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

Jim Nantz from CBS is the Deitsch’s most recent guest, and the interview is nearly 90 minutes long and awesome. Nantz talks about things he’d never discuss in a different setting: great backstories about Tony Romo’s first year as an NFL analyst, those production meetings with NFL teams the night before a game, and his long careers at both the Masters Tournament and the Final Four.

In our soundbite world of sports interviews, Deitsch’s podcasts are refreshing in that the interview subject can just talk, and talk, and talk. In an hour-long interview, Deitsch might ask three or four questions, and sometimes you’d never even know he was there.

The links for the podcasts are usually available at Deitsch’s Twitter feed @richarddeitsch. An important note: as SI’s media reporter, Deitsch’s work focuses on sports media as opposed to analysis of the games themselves.


Where?

Tiger Woods returns this week to the scene of perhaps his greatest major victory ever, the 2008 U.S. Open.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

The massive 36-hole public golf facility just north of San Diego takes center stage this week thanks to the return of one Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, who’s had a modicum of success at the place.

Woods has won what’s now known as the Farmers Insurance Open (great commercials, no?) at Torrey Pines seven times, not to mention his epic one-legged 2008 U.S. Open victory on the South course. If you believe Hank Haney and Steve Williams, it’s his favorite course in the world.

So, it’s the perfect place for Woods to begin his comeback, if that’s what it becomes. He’s been everywhere on both courses, and he’s been playing there since he was six or seven years old.

The North course, which is used for the first two rounds before the cut, has been toughened with a redesign that debuted last year, though it still pales in comparison to the South course, which extends out to nearly 7,700 yards.

Amazingly, Woods double-bogeyed the first hole of the South course three times in 2008 U.S. Open, yet still ended up in a playoff with Rocco Mediate.


When?

12 days from today

The normal high temperature on February 3 in Lewisburg, Pa., is a few degrees above freezing. Boston and Rhode Island aren’t much better.

Just the other day, while Baltimore closed schools for almost nothing, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area had eight inches of snow.

It’s the middle of winter, even in North Carolina.

And yet, those are a few of the places that will host regular season college men’s lacrosse games 12 days from today, Saturday, February 3.

It wasn’t that long ago that the earliest teams would start might be the last weekend of February, and even that wasn’t so good. Some of Baltimore’s biggest snowstorms have occurred somewhere around the Presidents’ Day holiday, which meant that fields had to be plowed and final preseason practices held in conditions that were as bad as they’d been all winter.

The sport has done this to itself, of course. With the addition of so many conference championships and a larger NCAA tournament, the season had to be extended.

And maybe, if our current thaw extends itself, teams will get lucky. But all that means is that it’ll get cold again until at least mid-March.


Why?

Guarding the inbounder

Maryland’s played another game since then, a good win against Minnesota, but the end of the Michigan game will stick in my mind for a while. As noted by others here at #DMD, the Terps don’t have a really good win (Butler?), and a triumph at Michigan would have been one.

The question, of course, is whether coach Mark Turgeon should have guarded the inbounder, Michigan’s Isaiah Livers, most likely with one of his big guys waving his arms feverishly in front of Livers.

I don’t know the answer. I do know that Livers threw a pass that he probably wouldn’t be able to replicate the next time he needed it.

You could spend all day debating whether it’s better to do that or to play 5-on-4 against the players that could make the winning shot.

Michigan, according to what coach John Beilein said after the game, practices that play about once a week. He won’t use it in another situation, say at the end of the first half, because he doesn’t want it in another team’s scouting report (too late now).

It would be interesting to see what defense Michigan’s second team plays when the Wolverines run the play in practice. Does Livers usually have to run the baseline, making the pass harder? Does he ever throw the pass out of bounds?

More importantly, why did Gus Johnson scream “for the win!” when Kevin Huerter let his shot go with a few seconds left? Talk about the kiss of death…

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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 face struggling indiana tonight


A couple of things have me baffled regarding tonight’s 7pm Terps game against Indiana at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

Number one is who will first year head coach, Archie Miller, choose to replace Indiana’s leading scorer (14.8 ppg) and leading rebounder (7.2 rpg), Juwan Morgan, if Morgan is unable to play due to his recent ankle injury. He is listed as doubtful.

My guess is fifth year senior Collin Hartman may get the nod. If he does pick up Morgan’s minutes, it means that the Hoosier interior will be manned by the 6’7” Justin Smith and the 6’7” Hartman. Hartman is a skilled player, but neither he nor Smith offer a power game that might offset their lack of true “big man” height.

Maryland freshman Bruno Fernando should have a big game tonight in Indiana as the Terps expose the Hoosiers' lack of size under the basket.

In Indiana’s most recent contest, an 85-57 blowout loss at Michigan State, they relied heavily on the offense of guards Robert Johnson (6’3”) and Josh Newkirk (6’1”). Between the two they accounted for just over half of the team’s shots and 35 of their 57 points.

Their small forward, Zach McRoberts rounded out the starting five for Indiana in that game, but he only offers 2.2 ppg and was scoreless against the Spartans.

As a team, Indiana only shoots 30% from the three-point line with Newkirk hitting 36% and Johnson 34%. With numbers like that it’s easy to see why they are much more effective with the drive and dish game as opposed to beating you on the perimeter.

If Morgan is out, and with true center De’Ron Davis finished for the year after having Achilles tendon surgery, the Hoosiers have no inside post-up player.

Indiana will be forced to rely on speed and tenacity in order to score enough points to keep this game interesting. If Morgan is able to go, and isn’t hampered by the ankle, then his presence and size may be sufficient to allow Indiana to make this a game. However, seeing him on crutches just three days ago and on the injury list with a “doubtful” status makes me believe he won’t be ready to contribute.

Without him, I give Indiana very little chance tonight.

Which brings me to baffling question number two. How in the world are the Terps only a 1.5 point favorite over these Hoosiers?

I recognize that Maryland, this year, has not fared well on the road against Big Ten foes. I also know that Indiana has a 4-3 conference record and that the Terps are 4-4.

Perhaps Vegas feels that the betters have soured on Maryland after watching them lose all of their road conference games and that only 1 point and a hook are needed to push betters to take the home dog.

I guess it’s conceivable that Indiana catches fire from deep and pulls out a victory. I mean, with the three-point shot being overly emphasized in today’s college basketball world, any team that gets hot from the outside has a chance to win a game. Just ask Indiana State or Fort Wayne. Those two teams managed to beat Indiana when they went a combined 34 for 56 from beyond the arc.

Indiana will need that kind of long range production to have a chance tonight. But that’s unlikely with this group of Hoosier shooters.

Terp coach mark Turgeon will have several line-up options tonight, but my preference would be to start Kevin Huerter at the small forward spot with Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky underneath.

This big lineup is going to be extremely difficult for Indiana to defend. The only downside of the big lineup is that the Terps “bigs” will need to defend the Indiana forwards off the dribble. I say they can handle that assignment, and as long as Darryl Morsell can keep Johnson from dropping 30 on the Terps, then Maryland gets the “W” tonight.

Maryland must continue their recent trend of focusing on the inside-out game. Pounding the ball down low to Fernando and Cekovsky will lead to a bunch of easy buckets. The Hoosiers simply don’t have the size to defend down low and their lack of a rim protector will allow Terp drives to the bucket to have a high success rate.

Maryland will dominate the inside with a substantial points-in-the-paint differential. Also, I don’t see a person on the Hoosier roster that I feel can keep Kevin Huerter from having a strong game and Anthony Cowan drives will yield uncontested points. Meanwhile, from where will the Indiana points come?

If this is a Vegas “trap” game, then I’m one of the many suckers that will fall for it. Bruno Fernando has a big game for Maryland, as do Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter. Maryland shows superiority from start to finish and wins 78-66.

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Sunday
January 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 21
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and the winners are...


For the sake of interest alone, I hope both of today's conference championship games are competitive and worth our time.

We don't get many 55 degree late January days in these parts. I could be playing golf for the first time since December 18 today. Alas, I'll be at home watching the two games.

No one suspected for a minute that Tom Brady wasn't going to start today. While I don't consider what the Patriots did as chicanery or trickery, I'm sure Bill Belichick told the training staff and Brady to play up his 4-stitch hand wound as much as the rules would allow.

So it's Brady vs. Bortles in the AFC title game. Raise your hand if you had those two teams playing on January 21 back in September when you made your pre-season picks.

I don't see anyone's hand up. Anywhere.

Raise your hand if you think Jacksonville is winning today. And no, "I think they have a chance" doesn't count. Raise your hand if you actually think they're going to win today in Foxborough.

You're nuts if you have your hand up in the air.

Can Blake Bortles do what Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez once did -- and win a playoff game in Foxborough today?

I love Jacksonville's swagger, but it's a tad over-the-top given where they've been and what they've accomplished, which, by my definition, is "nowhere and nothing".

The Jaguars haven't been good in forever. Sure, they were good this season, but this is the first time we've paid attention to the Jaguars in a long, long time. I almost forgot they were in the league. And based on a lot of their home crowds, tens of thousands of people in Jacksonville forgot, too.

Teams with this type of bravado have usually crept up to the doorstep over the last couple of years, only to fall short. They were good, really good, better and then, ready for prime time.

Jacksonville was awful last season. And now, suddenly, they're on the verge of the Super Bowl.

If you listen to them yap, you'd think this is their third straight trip to the AFC title game. They sure do sound like they're really good, if nothing else.

Sure, they won two games to get to Foxborough, but they displayed ugly warts in both games. Their offense was pitiful in the win over Buffalo and their defense was torn apart in Pittsburgh.

But they did manage to win both of those games, which is the most important part of the story. Nothing beats winning in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, that fluke win over the Steelers last Sunday will be the Jaguars final victory of the 2018 playoffs.

They're going from a 6-furlong race to a mile-and-a-quarter today when they take on Belichick and Brady. And it won't end well for them.

A couple of teams have gone into New England won playoff games in the B-B era. Both of those teams (Jets and Ravens) had the advantage of playing the Patriots quite a bit, knowing their system, and not being afraid to step into the lion's den and do battle.

Say what you will about the brief run of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez in New York, but they figured out a way to give the Patriots fits, despite the obvious chasm in talent and accumen between Brady-Belichick and Sanchez-Ryan.

And the Ravens, while not being anywhere near as successful as the Patriots since 2008, have also played New England hard during the Harbaugh-Flacco years and, of course, have two playoff wins in Foxborough to show for it.

Jacksonville doesn't have the necessary experience for this one today.

I'd love to be wrong, of course. Like most of you reading this, it would warm my heart to see Brady and Company lose this afternoon, especially to a JV'ish Jacksonville team.

But it's not happening.

The Patriots win today, 30-16, as Brady and Company lead 17-9 at the half and then roll on from there.

Jacksonville's run comes to an end.


Meanwhile, in Philadelphia this evening, the Eagles and Vikings will battle it out for the right to get beat by New England in the Super Bowl.

This one presents itself much differently than does the Patriots-Jaguars contest. A fair argument can be made for either the Eagles or the Vikings.

Philadelphia can point to Minnesota and say, "If Marcus Williams just keeps Stefon Diggs in bounds, we're playing the Saints today instead of the Vikings."

That's true, of course. For all the glee and shock of the Vikings' miracle win last Sunday, it's fair to point out and remember they were down to their very last breath. They were a whisker away from not being good enough to beat New Orleans in their own building in Minneapolis.

Stefon Diggs and the Vikings are one win away from doing something no NFL team has ever done: playing the Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Likewise, the Vikings can point to the Eagles and say, "You scored 15 points against the Falcons in your own stadium and they had you on the ropes with first and goal from the nine yard line in the last minute of the game."

True that, too.

The Eagles and Vikings were both fortunate to win last weekend. But win they did. Style points do not count in the post-season.

Minnesota's goal today is to win and thereby earn the right to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium on February 4th. That's quite a carrot at the end of the stick.

Playing in the Super Bowl is thrilling enough. Spending two weeks preparing for the game and soaking in the revelry associated with it -- while it's in your own backyard -- would be over the top.

As you'll see below, I'm not overly fond of a certain sports team in Philadelphia, but the Eagles are fine by me.

If Philly wins today, I'll be happy for them. They've been made two Super Bowl appearances and lost them both. It would be a good thing to see them get back there by winning today.

The same goes for the Vikings, who are 0-4 in their Super Bowl appearances. Minnesota is a good sports town. Their fans deserve this kind of success from any team up there.

Who wins?

The Vikings do.

I think Minnesota's defense is built for this type of game tonight and it certainly helps that they're facing Nick Foles instead of Carson Wentz. While Foles is competent, he won't be good enough to solve that stout Vikings defense.

Minnesota wins a low-scoring affair, 20-10.

It's 10-7 in favor of the Vikings at the half and they grind out a 3rd quarter TD and then kick a 4th quarter field goal to put the game away.

And on we go to a New England-Minnesota Super Bowl in two weeks.

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meanwhile, that other philly team...


The Washington Capitals have the chance to get my football-watching Sunday off to a great start this afternoon.

They'd better not screw it up.

The Caps host the worst franchise in the history of sports today at 12:30 pm as the Flyers come to town for a nationally televised matinee game.

I have some other obligations that will keep me occupied until mid-afternoon, but by the time I get to plop down in front of the TV at 2:30 pm or so, I hope the Caps are laying the wood to those creeps from Philadelphia.

This is the best "look of despair" in all of sports. Nothing beats seeing a sad Flyers bench.

The Flyers have worked their way up into playoff contention. A win today would do wonders for them.

I'd rather eat a Tide pod than have the Flyers beat the Capitals -- ever. I witnessed enough of it in the 1970's and early 1980's to last a lifetime.

Their horrible, bad-breath fans would slink down from Philly and invade the Capital Centre a few times a year. Back then, the Flyers were always good and the Caps were league doormats.

And not only would they always figure out a way to steal a 5-4 win, the Flyers were masters at gooning it up along the way. That punk Ken Linseman and that rat-fink Bobby Clarke would always be in the mix somehow. They had a bunch of creeps on those teams; Dave Poulin, Brian Propp, Rick MacLeish, Dave Schultz and, well, just about everyone else that ever worse that awful looking orange sweater.

Later, in the 2000's, the Flyers got good again and employed an all-time-top-ten punk in Danny Briere. Fortunately, Philly's most recent trip to the Stanley Cup Finals saw them lose to the Blackhawks.

It's only a regular season game today, but it's still critical nonetheless. You never want the Flyers to build any kind of momentum for the potential of spring hockey.

The two teams met in the post-season a couple of years ago and even though the Caps won the series 4-games-to-2, there were some tense moments.

The best way to keep the Flyers from having a chance at winning the Stanley Cup is by denying them a playoff spot. And while a Caps win today won't keep the Flyers out of the post-season, it's always better to send those losers home unhappy.

I've said this before but it always bears repeating: If the sports fairy showed up at my house today and said, "Let's make a deal. I'll have the Flyers finish the season by losing every game from this point until the end of the year - a 32-game losing streak - but you have to sign off on having Duke win the NCAA basketball tournament and the Yankees win the World Series next October", do you know what I would say to that offer?

"Do you have a pen I can borrow?"

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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 8 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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Saturday
January 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 20
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please don't let mock drafts upset you


A caller chimed in during a local sports radio show last night and he was upset.

"I saw Mel Kiper's first mock draft," he said, a discernible rise in his voice easily detected.

"If those jokers take another offensive tackle, I'm done. I've had season tickets since 1998 but if they draft an offensive tackle in the first round that tells me they don't get it," the caller stated.

Ladies and gentlemen: It's January 20. The draft is three months away.

Don't do this for the next three months. Don't evaluate the countless mock drafts you're going to see between now and April 26 and get yourself all lathered up over them.

It's silly.

It's especially silly when you know how the Ravens operate.

ESPN's Mel Kiper tabbed offensive tackle Brian O'Neill of Pitt as the Ravens' first pick in his most recent mock draft.

Trust me, the Ravens are NEVER going to tell any member of the media who they would like to draft in the first round -- or any round, really -- of the draft. They might share ten names of high-profile college players they like...but you and I could probably pick out those names without the aid of a team staffer.

For the record, Kiper's first "official" mock draft for 2018 has the Ravens taking Brian O'Neill, an offensive tackle from Pitt.

If there was a way to gamble on the draft, I'd bet big money right now that's not who the Ravens wind up selecting with the 16th pick in the first round. Perhaps they move back ten spots and maybe that winds up netting them O'Neill or another offensive lineman. But at #16, they're not taking O'Neill.

That's just what I think, by the way. Kiper has a much keener eye for football talent than any of us, admittedly, but when it comes to piecing together the first round of the draft, he's using guesswork, mostly. Just like the rest of us are, honestly.

So, while I don't know who the Ravens are going to draft (I do have a pick...you'll see it below), I do know this: On January 20, it's not worth getting agitated about a mock draft.

There will be plenty of other mocks to look over in the coming months.

Some other national talking head has the Ravens taking Calvin Ridley with the 16th pick. That seems like a natural given that Baltimore's receiving corps was just a smidgen better than St. Frances Academy's in 2017.

But, again, that's just someone guessing.

For starters, the Ravens would never tell anyone, "We're taking Calvin Ridley if he's there". There's zero reason at all to tell anyone in the media what you're thinking of doing or not doing in the draft.

Now, do teams occasionally use the media and people like Kiper to try and smokescreen their way through the first round or two? Of course. But that's even more proof that listening or reading Kiper's thoughts on the draft are silly. Nothing he's been told is truthful, most likely.

And, again, this isn't a slap at Kiper. He's as well polished and informed as anyone in the country. It's just that he's basically making "logical guesses" when it comes to publishing his mock draft.

I can't stress enough, though, how silly it is to get worked up over what you're going to read and hear between now and the end of April.

No one knows anything.

The Ravens might trade up to 10 and get Baker Mayfield with that pick for all we know.

Or they might trade down to 28 and acquire multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd round in an effort to boost their depth.

Then again, they might just sit at #16 and draft safety Derwin James from Florida State.

I'm hearing they like him. A lot.

But what do I know?

You see what I did there?

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this, that and the other


That in-season "bye week" for the Washington Capitals didn't do them any favors.

The Caps returned to action on Thursday night in New Jersey after five full days off and never got their legs going in a 4-3 overtime defeat to the Devils. Still, that they were able to steal one point after trailing 3-1 in the game was a bit of a bonus.

Last night back in D.C., the same issue afflicted the Caps. They never got going, looked a step slow all night, and fell to Montreal, 3-2.

That's two straight regulation losses at home for Washington, who lost to Carolina Thursday a week ago before winning in Raleigh the next night in overtime to send themselves away on a bye-week good note.

It must have been a fun time away from the game for most of the guys. They still look like they're on holiday.

That's the danger, of course, of building in an extensive "break" in the regular season. While it gives your injured players some time to rest up and heal, it also gives most of the others a chance to jet off to somewhere really warm and soak in the sun and enjoy an adult beverage or three for a few days.

Predictably, when teams return from a layoff, it takes a few days to get the moving parts full of oil once again.

The Flyers come to town tomorrow for a Sunday matinee contest at Capital One Arena. I don't have to stress the importance of that one. Losing to anyone at home is tough to swallow, but losing to those creeps in your own building is one of hockey's great sins.

Let's hope the engine is purring on Sunday and the legs are moving better. For the Capitals, that is.

Blast goalkeeper William Vanzela suffered a leg injury on Friday night in the team's 15-8 home win over K.C.

The Blast picked up a nice win last night at SECU Arena, 15-8, over the Kansas City Comets. But it came with a heavy price.

Goalkeeper William Vanzela, by far the best netminder in the MASL, went down with a puzzling leg injury in the second quarter of last night's game with the Blast ahead at the time, 4-1.

It was one of those "non contact" injuries that didn't look good right from the outset. The team said afterwards that it was a groin injury, not a knee, and Vanzela will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

Defender Pat Healey spent the remainder of the game as the team's goaltender (teams are allowed to dress two GK's, but the Blast elected to only suit up Vanzela last night) and performed admirably as the Blast improved to 11-2 on the campaign.

Kansas City trailed 10-3 in the fourth quarter but threw a scare into Danny Kelly's team by reeling off five quick goals to cut the lead to 10-8. The Blast then poured in five of their own down the stretch to finalize the scoring at 15-8.

With Vanzela, the Blast have a legitimate shot at winning the MASL title.

Without him? They take a significant step backwards.

The Blast are at home again tonight for a 6:05 pm showdown with the Harrisburg Heat. Tickets are available at the SECU Arena box office if you're up for a fun night of indoor soccer between two rivals.

Earlier this week the subject of Maryland's eventual winning record was discussed and the thought was thrown around that the Terps might need to get to 21 regular season wins and then win a couple of games in the Big Ten tourney in order to earn their way into March Madness.

Currently at 15-6 and 4-4 in the Big 10, it doesn't seem all that unreasonable to think Maryland can reach the 21-win mark.

They're at Indiana on Monday night against a Hoosiers team that just got blasted by 28 points at Michigan State in East Lansing last night. Yes, Indiana's conference mark is 4-3, but much like the Terps, they're above .500 in Big Ten play because they've handled weaker teams for their four wins (Iowa, Penn State, Minnesota and Penn State).

Maryland needs to win at Indiana on Monday. That puts them at 16-6.

After that, they'll have at least six more games they should win. In no specific order, there's a road game at Penn State, two encounters with Northwestern, a home meeting with Rutgers, an away game at Nebraska and a College Park match-up with Wisconsin.

Nebraska just pounded Michigan in Lincoln earlier this week. They're improved. But Maryland should win that one.

Rutgers is better, too. They lost at Michigan State in overtime earlier this month. But they're not beating Maryland at Maryland.

If Maryland goes 6-for-6 in those games listed above, that gets them to 22 wins on the season. A win or two in the Big Ten tournament, particularly if it comes against the likes of a Michigan State, Ohio State or Purdue, and Mark Turgeon's team will be dancing again.

At this point, though, Maryland doesn't really have a quality win this season. Not one.

And any time they've played a really good team in the Big 10, they've lost.

The road to March Madness started on Thursday night with the easy win over Minnesota. It needs to continue on Monday in Bloomington against a so-so Indiana team.

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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 8 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 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 19
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"i hope the ravens do something different this sunday"


Six years ago this week -- on January 17, 2012 to be exact -- I finally cracked.

In the days following the Ravens' 20-13 playoff win over the Houston Texans, I fielded phone calls on my morning radio show from disgruntled fans, many of whom were disappointed at the fact that John Harbaugh's team only won by seven points.

I handled most of them with enthusiasm and kindness.

Most of them...

That is, until my buddy Rick in Parkville checked in with a call late in the day on Tuesday and rattled my cage about the 20-13 win over Houston and then uttered those famous words that led me to lose my marbles: "I hope we go up there to New England and do something different..."

As you'll hear today in "The Juice", I flipped out.

Six years later, I'm able to laugh at it all. It's a tad embarrassing to hear that tirade, but I just couldn't handle any more on-air discontent from people who had just watched the Ravens earn a spot in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots.

You can hear me start to get agitated with Rick pretty early on in the call. At one point Rick suggests the Ravens need to follow the "formula" and I say, through gritted teeth, "What's the formula?".

And then it started to go downhill from there.

Eventually, I blew a gasket.

Fortunately, I didn't have many days like this in my 12 years on the air.

I had the occasional blow-up, sure, but they were few and far between.

This one, though, was an award-winning rant.

If you'll head over to The Juice (to the right, above Breakfast Bytes), it's all there for you. If you're a first time listener and you've never heard it before, please don't hold it against me.

If you were a longtime listener of mine, you'll remember it well. And probably laugh as hard today as you did back in January 17, 2012.

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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.



The 2017-18 MLB offseason is moving at a pace that would embarrass a snail, and that's beginning to make people question just what is going on in the league.

On Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan even broke out the c-word; openly musing on the question of whether or not baseball's owners might once again be colluding with one another to illegally suppress salaries on the open market.

He even passes along an interesting piece of evidence to that effect: Agents are logging their interactions with teams with the union and are seeing a striking similarity in terms offered to their clients.

Now let's be frank here: Baseball's owners almost certainly are not engaging in collusion. They've been down that road before and it cost them A LOT of money when they got caught. So much money that it wiped out whatever they had gained from it in the short term and poisoned labor relations even further than they already were to boot.

I'm not saying that owners aren't stupid or short-sighted when it comes to gobbling up as much revenue as they can, but repeating such a clear (and large) mistake seems unlikely, especially when so many of them have been so willing to spend freely in just the past couple of seasons.

And there's also a much simpler explanation for what's going on this offseason: Baseball front offices are actually getting savvier in their approach to free agency.

Will Manny Machado be able to reel in that big $350 million contract many experts predict he'll get next winter or will baseball's stingy free agent spending spree spill over to next off-season?

It's been a weird thing to see many old baseball writing friends bemoaning the state of the market this winter while recognizing that what's going on is more or less exactly what a lot of us were advocating for 7-10 years ago, and that it's our ideas (and even some of the individuals themselves) migrating into the league's management ranks that are playing a huge role in the changing nature of the game.

Here's the thing about free agency in baseball: It really is a sucker's game. The rules of player control make young players cheap and cost controlled, the revenue explosion from regional sports networks and increasing media rights (to say nothing of MLB Advanced Media properties) have given teams a ton of leverage to sign their players to pre-free agency extensions when the teams had maximum leverage, and the result is that, for the most part, the free agent market is populated with non-premier starts who are either over or very close to 30 years old.

In other words: You're probably not getting an MVP or Cy Young winner in the first place, and whichever player you do get is going to spend the vast majority of that contract getting worse. Adding to the problem is that the salaries that do get paid out are inflated by scarcity.

Take Alex Cobb, generally considered to be the third best starting pitcher on the market, and who was reportedly seeking $75-80 million when the offseason began. Cobb missed all of the 2015 season, logged only 22 innings in 2016, and though he had a nice bounceback season in 2017 he still didn't clear the 180 innings mark and had an ERA well north of 4.50 outside of the sterile environment of Tropicana Field.

Forget the possibility that he hits the downside of his career in the next year or two altogether for a second and just ask yourself: If you had every pitcher in baseball available, would you really allocate $75 million to Alex Cobb? Of course not, but when he's maybe the third best option among pitchers that are available to you, there was a time when he could command that easily.

And that's more or less the dynamic that all of the big free agents find themselves in right now: With a market that's corrected itself from even the recent time period where Chris Davis could say "I want $150 million," and then just wait around for one owner to blink.

And they're not being helped by the fact that next year's class is set to be loaded with premier talent that's also short of their 30th birthday, with guys like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper representing the kind of franchise altering talent that simply isn't available this winter.

As Passan also highlights, the recent success of teams built around young players is pushing the market further in that direction. That includes the Cubs, who had to tear down a roster full of expensive-yet-unproductive veterans when the Theo Epstein regime came into town, as well as the Astros who introduced the debate over the ethics of tanking into the baseball world.

Before those two came the Kansas City Royals, who followed over a decade of losing by getting back to the World Series two years in a row with a roster stocked full of cheap, cost controlled, home grown players.

On the other end of the spectrum sit the Los Angeles Angels, who have largely wasted multiple prime years with the best player on the planet in very large part due to getting bogged down with expensive free agent contracts handed out to players who aren't helping them win much at all. That includes Albert Pujols, who went from being one of the game's all-time great hitters, arguably the greatest right-handed hitter ever, to a replacement level player less than halfway through the ten year contract he signed with the Angels.

But just because teams are getting smarter in their approach to free agency doesn't mean that baseball's economic landscape isn't in crisis. Far from it in fact. Because while baseball front office's might be better recognizing that younger players are where the value is, it doesn't mean that they're paying them accordingly.

They're still interested in wringing as much saving as possible out of the player control period while, for the player, the promised big payday is less likely to ever come around. The sensible solution to this is to raise the minimum salary and shorten the length of time it takes to reach eligibility for free agency, but it seems unlikely that reorienting the allocation of payroll money will be quite that simple.

Not only are the owners likely to resist such a change, the union itself will have to reorient itself away from an entity dominated by the concern of veterans often to the point that it harms the interests of players with less service time (to say nothing of minor leaguers and amateurs) by comparison. So far there's no real indication that will happen.

Now, is this something fans should be worried about? Maybe. Yes the offseason has been dull and boring thus far, but everyone isn't going to hold out forever, which means there will be some news soon. And if we do see the contracts handed out to players coming down in terms of dollars and years, you might even see a more efficient allocation of talent from the market.

Take the Orioles for example. We're all working on the assumtion that they aren't going to do much of anything before the 2018 season but, in fact, just about every starting pitcher they've been linked to by the media *and* fans are still available, and if the Cobbs and Lance Lynns of the world start talking about 1-3 year contracts instead of 3-5 year contracts the Orioles might actually end up right in the thick of the market after all.

And despite some hand-wringing about teams showing they're not trying to win, the best and most entertaining teams in the game today largely feature young cost controlled players, and not veterans signed to recent free agent contracts.

But as was the case with their NFL counterparts, eventually the worm is going to turn with the players and the union, and then things could get ugly. Passan's article paints the union under Tony Clark, a former player rather than a lawyer or labor policy/law expert, as concerned largely with workplace amenities and conditions rather than the economic foundations of their game, and of course they've been all to happy to bend on issues like draft pick compensation, caps on amateur signing bonus and international free agent spending, drug testing and penalties for violations, and even stiffer penalties for the luxury tax since the 2012 CBA was negotiated.

The result is that MLB players are taking home a markedly lower share of their sport's revenues than NFL and NBA players are, despite being the league that lacks a formal salary cap. And now the cushy free agent market for second and third tier veterans looks like it might have collapsed altogether. That's going to snap the players' attention right back to matters of dollars and cents, and likely end the unprecedented period of comity in labor relations the sport has enjoyed since 2003.

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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 get back to .500 in big ten play


Not much unexpected happened at the XFINITY Center last night, where the Maryland Terrapins handled the Golden Gophers of Minnesota by a score of 77-66.

Kevin Huerter took advantage of his size difference to calmly hit four of his five three-point attempts while leading Maryland with 19 points and the hosts pounded the interior of the Minnesota defense with lobs to Michal Cekovsky who dunked his way to 17 points.

Maryland hit 68% of their shots in the second half, including 85% (6 for 7) of their three-point attempts. Anthony Cowan had 15 points (all in the second half) and also had 10 of the Terps 18 assists.

Both teams started slowly. Minnesota hit only one of their first eight shots, while the Terps got the ball inside, but frequently failed to covert.

Darryl Morsell managed to string together 6 quick points to help Maryland to an 8-point lead at 29-21. The Golden Gophers ended the half with seven straight points to close the first half scoring at 29-28. Maryland had eight turnovers in the first half, but they also outscored Minnesota in the paint by a 19-6 margin.

The Maryland points seemed much easier to come by than the Minnesota points.

Sophomore Kevin Huerter had another big night for the Terps, who improved to 4-4 in the Big 10 with last night's win over Minnesota.

The Terrapin halftime lead of 29-28 was mainly on the back of the Maryland 3,4, and 5 positions. The Maryland guards never got untracked with the exception of a short 6-point burst by Morsell early on. Anthony Cowan was 0-3, as was Dion Wiley. Nickens missed his only attempt. Maryland had numerous looks inside but only converted on a fraction of those opportunities.

The Terps, collectively, did a great first half job on Jordan Murphy (2-8 from the field) with Michal Cekovsky spending the most time on him because Bruno Fernando’s minutes were limited after he picked up his second personal foul with 11:34 left in the half. Fernando sat out until the start of the second half.

The second 20 minutes began with Maryland being called for three early fouls in first minute. Back to back turnovers by the Terps combined with 5 points from Murphy gave Minnesota a 3-point lead, 32-29, with only one minute and 18 seconds expired from the second half. After that, the game was all Terps.

Huerter hit a three. Ceko added a dunk. Joshua Tomaic hit a three, which was followed by two more dunks from Ceko. Then Morsell hit a three pointer and 2 foul shots, which was also followed by a Cekovsky dunk. Finally, Cowan hit the first of his two three pointers and just like that Maryland had ripped off an impressive 24-4 run. Game over.

The second half stats would show that the Terps shot a ridiculous 68% from the floor (13-19) and connected on 6 of their 7 three-point attempts (85.7%). Meanwhile the tough Terp defense was holding Minnesota to 36% from the floor and 35% from the three-point line.

Maryland contested a lot of inside shots and their overall height advantage gave Minnesota trouble. Jordan Murphy managed to get 19 points, but many of those came after the out-come was decided. Minnesota’s Nate Mason added 14 points but took 16 shots in order to get them.

Anthony Cowan was impressive tonight. While failing to score in the first half, he did manage to accumulate 5 assists. In the second half he matched that assist number, but poured in 15 points too.

Bruno Fernando, who played only nine minutes, still looked a bit sluggish and had his playing time cut because of foul trouble. In his place, the biggest (and really only) surprise of the night, Joshua Tomaic, gave the Terps quality minutes, seven points, and five rebounds.

Tomaic looks more confident every time he steps onto the court. He brings enthusiasm, effort, and a nice smooth mid-range jumper while coming off of the Maryland bench. He could add some needed depth to the Maryland rotation.

The Terps took care of business tonight by exploiting the weakness of the Minnesota defensive interior, playing solid defense for most of the game, and by shooting the lights out in the second half. Next up is a road match-up with the Indiana Hoosiers on Monday night at 7PM.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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


In most seasons, the January transfer window is something of an afterthought, with teams making smaller moves to round out their rosters for the second half of the season and waiting until the summer window to complete the mega money moves. This winter, however, that does not seem to be the case, as Matchday 24 of the English Premier League will kick off with questions and uncertainty hanging over several teams and the futures of several big name players.

We have already seen Liverpool lose Phillipe Coutinho to Barcelona and the question now becomes, who will be next? Will Alexis Sanchez, disillusioned at Arsenal and out of contract at the end of the year, land at rivals Manchester United, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading the other way in the rare player plus cash swap? Will the Gunner’s then use that financial windfall to land Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, similarly frustrated at the German giants, to help ease the Chilean’s departure?

These are just some of the questions, and there are sure to be plenty more, we will be asking over the next few weeks until the window closes at the end of the month, but until it does tune in and catch the full slate of weekend matches live across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, January 20 (all times eastern)

10am – Bournemouth @ West Ham United – London Stadium, NBC Live Extra

West Ham United and Bournemouth, two teams flirting with the relegation zone for much of the year, both moved closer to safety when they took maximum points last weekend, with the Hammers thrashing Huddersfield Town 4-1 and the Cherries scoring twice in a four minute span to come from a goal down and pick up their first win in seven tries over Arsenal, who provided an unflattering preview of what their team will look like moving forward with Alexis Sanchez left out of the squad and his departure growing more likely by the day, to move to eleventh and thirteenth in the table respectively.

While both sides continue to trend upwards in the table, as Bournemouth are unbeaten in their last four (W2 D2) and West Ham have lost only once in their last eight (W4 D3), there is still plenty of work to do over the season’s final months to guarantee safety and all three points from either on Saturday morning would go a long way to helping their cause, although that would be difficult to predict as the sides have broken even in their five previous league meetings (D1) but it’s the total that might just end up on the investment card with two averaging a staggering 4.6 goals per game across those five matches.

Sunday, January 21 (all times eastern)

11am – Tottenham @ Southampton – St. Mary’s Stadium, NBC Sports Network

A brace from Harry Kane, the first of which moved the England international atop the race for this seasons golden boot while the second made the boyhood Tottenham fan the clubs all-time top flight goal scorer, helped ease Spurs to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Everton. Still on the outside looking in on the top four, they will hope to keep the pressure on Chelsea and Liverpool, both sitting three points ahead, when they travel to the St. Mary’s Stadium for a meeting with the struggling Southampton, who were unable to hold a two-goal halftime advantage and forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with Watford.

The Saints were poised to notch their first win since November until the equalizer from the Hornets, which had a Maradona-esque “Hand of God” quality and controversy to it, left them only a point and a place above the drop zone. They will need to regroup quickly with a visit from Tottenham, who have won the last three and nine of the last eleven (L1 D1) with the Saints including four of their last five trips to the St. Mary’s Stadium (D1), who will be desperate for points against their hosts knowing that matches against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal await over the next three weeks.

Monday, January 22 (all times eastern)

One week after guiding Liverpool to a big upset win over previously undefeated Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp's team faces last place Swansea City on Monday.

3pm – Liverpool @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC Sports Network

No Coutinho no problem for Liverpool as they passed their first test without the influential midfielder pulling the strings and ended Manchester City’s twenty-two game league unbeaten run in a thrilling 4-3 victory at a raucous Anfield. With Chelsea playing to a scoreless draw for the third week in a row, the win moved the Reds above the Blues in to third place and they will try to avoid the dreaded big game let down when they travel to the Liberty Stadium for a matchup with last place Swansea City, who were denied a major boost to their survival hopes when they drew with relegation rivals Newcastle United.

With only one win now from their last seven in the league (L4 D2), the rest of the pack in the bottom half of the table is threatening to leave the Swans in their dust, as they sit four points from safety and the visit from Liverpool, who have lost only two of the last twelve meetings between the two across all competitions (W8 D2) and only once in their last five visits to the Liberty Stadium (W2 D2), will begin a stretch over the next four weeks against teams all sitting in the top eight and that could leave little hope of the Welsh club climbing out of the relegation hole they have dug themselves.



Thursday
January 18
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issue 18
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and the survey says...


Our informal poll yesterday of Ravens PSL holders who are either putting their seat(s) up for sale or considering doing so yielded a fairly predictable response.

A whopping 63% of you said it was "a little bit of everything" that finally led you to selling your PSL's.

17% said it was the cost of tickets and amenities. 15% said it was the recent performance of the team. 5% indicated the London kneeling incident was the final straw.

I assumed "a little bit of everything" would come out on top.

It's like breaking up with your high school girlfriend.

You didn't do it only because she was a bad kisser.

Only 5% of those who responded to our reader's poll on Wednesday indicated the kneeling incided in London was the single biggest motivating factor for putting their PSL's up for sale.

You didn't do it because she was always 25 minutes late and left you downstairs with her father.

You didn't do it because she seemed to always be saying super sweet things about the quarterback on the football team.

And you didn't do it because you found out she was a Philadelphia Flyers fan. Wait, that's a perfectly good reason to leave her, all by itself.

You broke up with her because all of those things rolled into one drove you nuts. Or at least nuts enough to try and find a new girlfriend.

There's a lot wrong with the Ravens these days. In particular, it might not be one specific thing that has led you down the path of trying to sell your PSL's. It's a bunch of stuff. But maybe the losing or the lack of exciting offense or the knee(s) in London was the final blow.

Our informal poll from Wednesday indicated that's exactly what has happened.

Frankly, the Ravens probably wish that they could pinpoint one specific reason why so many people in the marketplace have their seats up for sale. If, in fact, it turned out to be just one thing that had everyone up in arms, the organization could go a long way in understanding it and, potentially, fixing or improving it.

Instead, they have a myriad of issues to deal with and likely no way of knowing which one matters the most to the most amount of people.

I'm sure we didn't reveal anything new here yesterday with our reader's poll.

But it was good to know, anyway.

Thanks to those of you who participated and gave your feedback.

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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 had three people, none of whom are remotely related to each other, email me on Monday about the same thing, in pretty much the same way.

The fix was in, they said.

I mean, what in the world was New Orleans defensive back Marcus Williams thinking? Unless, you know, the fix…

How could he dive hard to the left of Stefon Diggs, miss him completely, and somehow take out the only other defender who had a chance at the former Terp in the process?

Maybe he was trying to undercut/tackle Diggs as soon as he caught the ball, so the receiver would fall harmlessly to the ground as time expired.

Maybe he didn’t want to be called for pass interference, which would have extended the game by one untimed down.

Why not just stand there on two feet, let Diggs catch the ball and then tackle him? Game over.

Marcus Williams should have made it look less obvious, right?

The fix, perhaps?

I’m not sure I’m the best person to talk about the fix, considering I haven’t bet on a sporting event besides a horse race since early in the Clinton administration. I didn’t even fill out an NCAA tournament bracket for years, since that’s kind of frowned upon in college athletic departments.

I wasn’t aware of the line of the game until I heard Drew talk about it on The Juice the following morning.

But three people decided to email me, so I did a little investigation.

Minnesota led 17-0 at halftime. So the fix was in immediately!

The Saints used just one minute of possession after getting the opening kickoff. Mark Ingram ran for five yards on the first play of the game. Then Drew Brees threw two incomplete passes. Totally on purpose, no doubt.

The Vikings then wasted little time in getting to the end zone against a New Orleans squad that intentionally gave them the ball as quickly as possible without it being too obvious. The Saints let career backup Case Keenum throw a 22-yard pass on third down, then allowed an easy 14-yard run by Jerick McKinnon for the touchdown.

The New Orleans defense could have been a little less obvious on Minnesota’s second drive, I guess. Ken Crawley committed not one, but two pass interference penalties, on consecutive plays no less. It was 10-0 about 10 minutes into the game.

At halftime, Saints fans had probably given up. Their team seemed to be trying pretty hard and all they had to show for it was a 17-point deficit. On the road, with seemingly no momentum, New Orleans was in big trouble.

In the locker room, though, Brees and company had no worries. The whole thing was part of the plan. “TV ratings are about to go through the roof,” they were thinking as they came back to the field from the break.

Boy, were they right. The last 15 minutes of the game averaged a 33 rating and 10.2 share in the all-important 18-to-49 demographic!

Back in the bayou, Saints fans finally had something to cheer about a few minutes after halftime. The defense had made a big play, a sack that forced the Vikings out of field goal range. When Brees hit the field, he then methodically led New Orleans on a 12-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown.

On Bourbon Street, folks started talking about how head coach Sean Payton and his staff had made some big-time adjustments at halftime. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Brees and his offense knew how to attack the Vikings all along; they were just waiting for the right time. The first half would have been way too early for that.

It was at this point the Vikings really got involved in the festivities. Before, they were simply taking what the Saints gave them. Now, they started playing their part. How else do you explain Keenum’s interception on the very first play after New Orleans’ first touchdown?

When New Orleans blocked a punt, then scored the go-ahead touchdown with three minutes left, the home fans were stunned. The Saints led 21-20. But not everyone in the crowd was worried.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in fact, had taken a break from watching the game in his suite to visit the stands, where he presented 100-year-old Vikings fan Millie Wall with tickets to the Super Bowl, to be played at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Pretty suspicious, I thought. She’s not going to want to come to the game if the Vikings aren’t involved, is she?

Looking for clues afterwards, I stopped watching the game’s final play and rewound the tape to the beginning. That’s where I noticed something, which was later confirmed for me by an anonymous league source.

Before the game, at midfield during the coin toss, the captains from the Saints and Vikings gave each other a secret signal, not unlike a dog whistle, understood only by the players, the FOX producer and Goodell.

The signal meant that the game would be played by script, not unlike the “Road to Wrestlemania” event to take place a few blocks down South 6th Street at Target Center in early March. Several NFL games each year are played this way, with the most recent being the Ravens-Bengals game in Baltimore on New Year’s Eve.

The coaches can never be made aware, as their egos give them the impression that the game always goes by their script.

Announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman had no clue, so as not to add any cynicism to the broadcast.

Referee Gene Steratore and his crew were obviously out of the loop, as there is way too much chatter each season about biased officiating as it is.

You might ask why the Cleveland Browns couldn’t have been scripted one win this year. Well, the NFL brass determined that nine years was sufficient time between teams going winless. Plus, research confirmed that the Browns winning a game with this year’s team would have been a dead giveaway that the game was fixed.

In case you were wondering, the NFL long ago dispensed with scripting any Patriots games. New England established its own cheating department many years ago, which they hide under the umbrella of “quality control.”

Anyway, back on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minnesota had the ball in the crazy final seconds but was in deep trouble. Keenum never got flustered though. He knew all along that all he had to do was get the pass near Diggs. The rest would be taken care of.

Sitting at his locker after the game, Williams was obviously apologetic about his mistake. Read between the lines, though, and what he was really apologizing about was how ridiculous he looked doing it. I know NFL players don’t know how to tackle anymore, but that was awfully dubious.

And thus, the emails on Monday morning.

Now that I know more, I can respond to my friends with answers. I speak for all of us, I think, when I say that it sure feels good to have the fix confirmed after all these years of speculation.

And yes, for those wondering. This was an attempt at humor.

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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.


maryland's tourney run starts tonight


Al Davis, the former owner of the Oakland Raiders, had what became a very famous saying: “Just win baby”.

Those words ring true for Maryland’s last gasp hopes at an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They need to just win. A lot. It begins tonight with an 8:30 tip off at the XFINITY Center against the Minnesota Gophers.

Both teams enter tonight’s game with 3-4 conference records and both are 14-6 overall. While Maryland has been hurt by injuries and illnesses, Minnesota’s roster has suffered even greater losses.

Last year’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Reggie Lynch, last played on January 3rd. He has been suspended indefinitely after being found criminally responsible in two sexual assault cases. His absence leaves a void in the Gopher’s defense that is matched by the offensive void left by Amir Coffey being unavailable due to his shoulder injury.

Neither one has played since their January 3 win against Illinois and only an overtime win at Penn State their last time out separates Minnesota from being 0-4 since.

Maryland's big man, Bruno Fernando, should be able to feast on the smaller Minnesota squad tonight in College Park.

Attempting to carry the load for Minnesota are 6’6” forward, Jordan Murphy, and guard Nate Mason.

Mason is one of those players that never met a shot he didn’t like. Throughout the course of a game he’ll shoot a handful of shots that just shouldn’t leave his hand. It’s the reason he shoots better from the three-point line (42%) than he does from the floor overall (40%).

In addition to getting 15.7 points per game, Mason leads the team with 82 assists. He’s quick and athletic but will be put to the test by Maryland’s Darryl Morsell.

Murphy is interesting in that he is Minnesota’s leading scorer but isn’t a particularly adept shooter. What Murphy does do well is rebound, especially off the offensive glass, and make put backs.

He leads the entire nation in offensive rebounds. He uses his 240 lbs. body extremely well while getting rebounding position and is strong when maneuvering inside for short jumpers. Murphy is also helped by his ability to get off of the floor quickly.

The Gophers' other likely starting guards, Dupree McBrayer and Jamir Harris, are both nice pieces but not dominant players.

Bakary Konate, Minnesota’s likely starting center, is only seeing time because the Gophers have little other big-man options. His offensive skills are limited and he doesn’t present much on the defensive end either.

I hope Coach Turgeon goes with his big lineup tonight.

That lineup should provide his Terps with advantages at many positions. Michal Cekovsky should feast on Konate, Bruno Fernando’s height advantage should allow him to get the best of Murphy on both ends of the court, and Kevin Huerter should be able to shoot over McBrayer all night long.

Playing either Morsell (too small) or Huerter (too thin) on Murphy is a mistake. Both of those Terps are solid defensively, but Murphy is a unique talent. His lack of an outside game will allow Fernando to play inside where he can use his size to stymie Murphy. Obviously, I’m assuming that Fernando is finally healthy.

Dion Wiley should return to the lineup tonight, giving the Terps a deeper rotation and some bench help. Don’t expect much from Minnesota’s bench. They only produced 6 points in 45 minutes against Penn State.

The recipe is easy tonight.

Play tough defense for 40 minutes and take advantage of your superior talent on the interior.

Feed Fernando, feed Ceko, and get the ball to Huerter. Each of those three will reach double digits in points tonight.

Unless Minnesota shoots extremely well from the three-point line, a repeat of last year’s Gopher win in College Park won’t happen. Maryland just needs a win and they’ll get one here going away.

A moderately close game will slip away from Minnesota as the Terps win by 12, 86-74.

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Wednesday
January 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 17
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o's owe honesty to adam jones


It's now officially mid-January and there's still no definitive 2018 plan in place -- at least that we know of -- for the Baltimore Orioles.

Are they really going to spring training with two starting pitchers and a bunch of relievers they're trying to convert into rotation regulars?

What's going on at 3rd base? Is Machado on the team? Off the team? Are they going to disrupt three quarters of their infield and move him to shortstop? (A topic, by the way, I covered in today's edition of The Juice. Give it a listen and you'll hear my opinion on Manny's desire to go from third to short).

The Pittsburgh Pirates moved their version of Adam Jones this past Sunday, sending former National League MVP Andrew McCutchen to the San Francisco Giants. McCutchen had a terrific run in Pittsburgh and was one of the main reasons why the Pirates finally played October baseball after a two-decade absence from the post-season.

Adam Jones is the Orioles' version of McCutchen in a number of ways.

When he showed up in Baltimore back in 2008, the O's were perennial losers. And they stayed that way for a while, until they finally broke their own playoff drought in 2012. Two years later, the Birds advanced to the American League Championship Series. They also made the post-season in 2016.

Jones certainly wasn't the only reason the Orioles scratched their way up from the basement of the A.L. East to a pennant winning organization, but his play and role within the team was a significant contributor.

Now, at age 32, Jones is on the back nine of his major league career. While he still has productive years ahead of him, the stat-geeks will tell you his defensive range is slipping a little with each passing year and his offensive production, while still reliable, is likely going to start dropping off ever so slowly within a season or two.

Make no mistake about it: Adam Jones has been an outstanding player for the Orioles over the last decade.

I'm trying hard here not to show my personal bias for the centerfielder. He is, without question, my favorite Oriole since Mike Mussina.

But the numbers and the accomplishments don't lie. They don't display bias at all. They are what they are. And the numbers say Jones has been terrific.

What the numbers don't show, though, is the really important stuff. They don't show the role Jones has played within the organization, both as a leader and a mentor.

They don't show what he's meant to the city of Baltimore, and the steps he's taken -- both with his time and money -- to get more African American boys interested in playing Little League baseball.

The stats don't tell you that Adam Jones has been an extraordinary employee for Peter Angelos and the Orioles organization.

He's been a very good player. But an extraordinary individual.

And what Jones doesn't deserve, at this point in his career, is to have the Orioles fart around all off-season, add little or no quality, and then meander through a 65-win season in 2018 that starts one of their well-known three to five year slides where they just let the Yankees and Red Sox perch themselves atop the American League East with little pressure from the other three teams.

The Orioles owe something to Adam Jones.

They owe him a legitimate effort to field a quality team. Or they owe him some honesty. And if they're not going to field a competitive team, they owe Jones the right to play somewhere else as he reaches the September of his professional career.

Give the Pirates some credit...that's precisely what they did with McCutchen. They might not have said it -- and it certainly helps them financially to move on from McCutchen -- but they gave him a fresh start as a reward for the time and effort he put in to making the Pirates great again.

The Orioles owe that same favor to Jones, who will be a free agent after this coming season.

This time next year, he can be playing with the team of his choice. But for now, he's situated in Baltimore. And the Orioles owe him some honesty.

Jones deserves to hear the truth from the team.

Sure, he gets $17 million whether the Orioles fib to him or come clean. But you can bet, for sure, it's not about the money for Jones. It's about trying to win.

He spent a bunch of years losing 90 games and being out of the playoff race by July 15th. He hated it, like all of us would. And once the O's rose up through the division and became contenders, you could see just how vitally important Jones was to the cause.

Unlike his buddy at third base who will make $30 million a year or more next season, Jones doesn't take plays off.

There's no jaking it with Adam Jones.

If ever someone "earned" their $17 million salary, he's that guy.

Truth? Jones has done more for the Orioles than they've done for him. He helped turned them into winners again.

And now, if they're going to fall back to their old ways of putting out an inferior product, Jones deserves the right, like McCutchen just got in Pittsburgh, to ask for a change of scenery.

He's earned that privilege.

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are you selling your psl's?


I'm hearing the Ravens are currently involved in a deep dive to try and wrap their head around just how many people in the marketplace are trying to sell their PSL's and the accompanying season tickets.

That's not the only reason the team hasn't held their annual end-of-season press conference, but they're trying to come up with as many answers as they can for what they know will be a laundry list of questions from the media about tickets, pricing and the empty seats at the stadium last season.

The PSL issue is a legitimate concern for the franchise.

People actively trying to get rid of their long term obligation to the franchise is troubling. Sure, you lose ticket holders in dribs and drabs every off-season, but this isn't a trickle...it's a hose with your finger held over the end.

Football fans in Baltimore are bailing.

And while some folks might say, "The team should figure out how to make those people happy again", that's much easier to say than do. If you polled 20 people why they were giving up their season tickets, you'd probably get six different answers.

As you can see below, we've put together a very informal poll today just to see if we can get a gauge from #DMD readers who are considering selling their PSL's.

Please ONLY answer the poll question if your PSL's are currently for sale, posted somewhere for sale, or if you're in the process of trying to sell them, somehow. Don't answer the poll question if you're just angry with the Ravens but NOT a PSL holder.

The Ravens are doing this very same exercise, only with a lot more expertise behind it and considerable more effort to try and retain their ticket holders.

Make no mistake about this next statement: The organization is very aware of the ever-growing discontent among their PSL owners. They're not oblivious to it in the least.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Will you attend the Ravens home opener in September?
Definitely.
Most likely.
Not sure at this point.
Likely not.
No chance.
Name
Email address

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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 8 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.

Tuesday
January 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxii
issue 16
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maryland's loss once again showcases coaching and playmaking


Here we are again, talking about coaching.

We've been doing this a lot lately, it seems, starting with the Ravens shocking loss on New Year's Eve, spilling over to the first two weekends of the NFL playoffs, and then hitting close to home again last night when Maryland dropped a heartbreaker to Michigan, 68-67.

Coaching -- and the discussion about its importance -- is always a hot-button topic.

But when does the balance of responsibility shift from the coach to the players themselves? That's another worthy subject to discuss, both here at #DMD and at your own water cooler.

Let's go back to Sunday in Pittsburgh for just a second and examine what happened there in the final minute of the Steelers loss to the Jaguars.

The Steelers trailed 45-35 with one minute remaining. For the Flyers fans reading this, that's a 10-point deficit. By traditional offensive standards, that required Pittsburgh to score a touchdown, kick the extra point, and kick a field goal as well.

What wasn't traditional, though, was the order in which they needed to accumulate those ten points.

Where was his attention to detail in the final minute of Sunday's playoff loss to Jacksonville?

With 58 seconds remaining, Ben Roethlisberger connected with Martavis Bryant for a big gain that moved the ball to the Jacksonville 5-yard line.

That play ran the clock down to 47 seconds. On the next snap, Roethlisberger was called for intentional grounding, which moved the ball back to the 15-yard line.

At that point, Mike Tomlin should have called for the field goal unit.

The Steelers needed 10 points. It didn't matter how they got the points. But they needed 10.

Instead of kicking the field goal (and this all assumes the kick was good) and then trying another onside kick with roughly 35 seconds left in the game, Tomlin instead let Roethlisberger and the offense stay on the field in search of what would be a meaningless last second touchdown.

No one seemed to say anything about it on the TV broadcast, but the obvious combination, once Roethlisberger was called for intentional grounding and the ball went back to the 15, was field goal first and touchdown second.

Would Pittsburgh have recovered the onside kick and somehow miraculously connected on a last-ditch touchdown throw to send the game to overtime?

I'm not sure. Ask Stefon Diggs if he thinks it might have been possible.

Coaching. When the plays work, the coaches are brilliant. When they don't, they're bums.

I'm not a knee-jerk "fire the coach" guy over isolated in-game mistakes. But if I'm Dan Rooney, I definitely have to bring Tomlin into the office and ask him to explain what he was thinking about at the end of the game.

If nothing else, it shows the coach I'm paying attention to detail -- something Tomlin didn't do in the final minute of the game on Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Speaking of not paying attention to detail...

Mark Turgeon went from hero to goat in the span of 3.5 seconds last night in Ann Arbor, although truth be told, it really came down to playmaking at the end of that loss to the Wolverines.

Michigan made a play at the end. Maryland threw up all over themselves at the end.

And Turgeon didn't help matters, either.

I wrote yesterday here at #DMD that winning is not an easy accomplishment. The other team is trying to win just like you are -- and when coaching and playmaking collide, sometimes it works out for you and sometimes it doesn't.

Turgeon should have put someone on the inbounds throw on Michigan's final possession. Doing so would have changed the way a Michigan player would have received the pass. Instead of collecting a bullet-throw from an unguarded distributor -- which is what happened -- the Wolverine who collected a higher-arcing pass would probably have collected that pass with his back to the basket somewhere near mid-court.

Our excellent Maryland reporter Dale Williams will go through the heavy lifting of that sequence in his review below. I'm simply talking here about the complexity of coaching decisions that are married with the need for a player or players to follow through and execute their specific role or duties.

Kevin Huerter got cut off and spun around on the inbounds throw and Anthony Cowan was somehow too far up in the offensive end and failed to mark his man.

What was, for a moment, a 5-on-4 man advantage for Maryland (based on the decision not to guard the inbounds pass), turned into a disaster once Cowan's man collected the ball and had open space to drive the lane. We know what happened next...



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So who gets the blame there?

Here's the obvious answer: Everyone who was involved in the play, that's who.

It's not really hindsight to say Turgeon should had the inbounds throw protected. That's an easy drill to run in practice. Nearly every coach, given the circumstances, would have guarded the throw in that situation.

But even then, with the decision to not protect the throw, the play still wound up breaking down because two Maryland players failed to do their job.

You can throw Bruno Fernando in there if you want since he's the one who committed the foul, but the play broke down so quickly in front of him that it's hard to beat him up too badly for the infraction.

Turgeon. Cowan. Huerter. No one tried to screw up there at the end. It just happened. But the lack of attention to detail on the part of all three was a reason why Michigan made a play at the end of the game and Maryland left with a pouty lip.

And here's the funny thing about sports: Just seconds before his inbounds-pass brain fart, Turgeon diagrammed a great play and Huerter was able to shake loose and hit a terrific 3-pointer to give the Terps the lead.

From hero to goat, in the blink of an eye.

As the Saints showed on Sunday in Minneapolis, you have to play until the clock reads 00:00.

"Maybe we celebrated a little too much after Kevin's three pointer at the end," Cowan said after the game.

The Terps learned a hard lesson last night. You have to stay engaged for the entire 40 minutes. Not 39:57.

And for the anti-Turgeon crowd in the area, last night's loss was another black mark for the 7-year Maryland leader. The phone lines were jammed on the post-game show, with the majority of those checking in placing the blame directly on Turgeon.

It wasn't all on him, though.

Not by a longshot.

It just looked that way.

And the Steelers loss on Sunday wasn't all on Tomlin, either. His offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, was also gashed open by the black and gold faithful in the aftermath of the defeat to the Jaguars.

The players were culpable, too. All of them. One catch here, a block there, a pass defended better -- who knows what the final difference in the game actually was, but you can bet it probably had more to do with making plays than making calls.

Just go back to New Year's Eve and revisit that distastrous 4th and 12 miracle engineered by Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd.

You can blame Dean Pees all you want, but at least four Ravens failed to stop the play from happening.

Coaching is important. Play-making is also important.

Getting both of them to function properly at the same time is how you win.

But it's a lot easier said than done.

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what's the state of the "state of" press conference?


Here we are, it's January 16th, and there's still no word on when the Ravens will hold their annual "state of the team" press conference.

Weird...

League rules say every team must have a season-ending media session. Is there any chance that the John Harbaugh press conference on January 4 fulfilled the organization's obligation?

I'm reaching out to a Ravens staffer today to pose that very question.

But no matter the answer I get, doesn't it seem odd that it's mid-January and the team hasn't even informed the media of the date?

It's one thing if Steve Bisciotti is traveling or playing golf somewhere and his packed winter schedule is interfering with the team's press conference plans. It's another thing entirely to not have announced the date of the event.

"Steve's out of town until the 18th of January, we plan on having the presser the week of January 22..." How hard is it to make that announcement?

One rumor that has made the rounds is that the organization is mulling over detailed internal plans with regard to the thousands and thousands of PSL's that are for sale. And there's another rumor that suggests the team was planning on raising ticket prices in 2018 and now they're deciding how to do that or if they should do it, given their 9-7 finish and the empty seats they saw in November and December.

Rumors...but not "wildly crazy" rumors. They both might have some merit to them.

And Bisciotti, as I've said before, knows he's going to get peppered with questions about the team's kneeling incident in London back on September 24. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he makes one statement about that situation and then says, "I'm not going to answer any direct questions about the kneeling incident. My statement represents what I feel about it."

That's just my own mind at work there, but I could see it happening. Every time the Ravens organization talks about the kneeling incident and their response to it afterwards, all that does is open up fresh wounds for a lot of people in Baltimore.

I'll check in with the Ravens today and see if I can get a definitive answer on the question of whether or not the state of the team press conference is even happening. I'll report back on it in tomorrow morning's edition of "The Juice", our daily podcast feature (upper right hand corner) here at #DMD.

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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 suffer last second loss at michigan


It was a heartbreaking loss that the Maryland Terrapins suffered last night in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a predictable reaction from the Terp fan base as to why it happened.

In case you missed it, the Terps took an unlikely one-point lead with just over three seconds remaining when Kevin Huerter hit a three-point shot off of a very well-run set play that followed a miss from the foul line by Michigan’s Zavier Simpson. The shot put the Terps up 67-66 with 3.5 seconds on the clock and Michigan inbounding the ball under their own basket.

Michigan called a timeout, and the teams drew up plays.

Maryland Coach, Mark Turgeon, mentioned after the game that they knew what Michigan would run. He elected to not guard the inbound passer, and instead put 5 guys to defend against four Wolverines.

It didn’t work. Isaiah Livers threw a dart to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman who was cutting from left to right just inside the half court line. He caught the pass traveling sideways near the sideline, planted his right foot, and took off in a straight line to the hoop. While driving, he crossed legs with Bruno Fernando and a foul was called with 1.2 seconds left in the game (more on that in a moment).

The 92% free throw shooting Abdur-Rahkman hit both shots and Michigan had a one-point win while the Terp faithful began to blister their head coach.

Every armchair coach with a keyboard began to express their dissatisfaction with the decision to not guard the person throwing in the ball. It’s such an easy call, right?

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon was the post-game whipping boy on Monday night after the Terps squandered a late lead and fell at Michigan, 68-67.

"Make it harder to throw in the ball by putting some hands in front of the passer," everyone screamed. I read countless tweets and posts all saying the same thing.

But I say this: Execute.

Either way, guarding the guy or not, execute properly the play that has been drawn up and it’s a non-issue.

To Turgeon’s credit, he didn’t throw his players under the bus and expose who exactly misplayed their defensive assignment (Anthony Cowan). Instead Turgeon simply said that he failed to communicate properly to his team. That’s coach-speak for someone out there screwed up, but I’ll take the blame.

Instances like this are a common occurrence in sports.

When the Ravens gave up a last-minute TD to the Bengals to end their playoff chances, Harbaugh said the same thing: right call, poor execution.

Managers in baseball frequently get second guessed for bringing in a reliever who gives up a game winning hit. Was the wrong guy given the ball, or did the right guy make a horrible pitch?

Did New Orleans have the right coverage against Minnesota on Sunday? You’ll never know. But the fans see that what was done didn’t produce the desired results, so it must have been the wrong decision.

I disagree.

I’ve seen both strategies employed with equal amounts of success. My personal preference is to guard the guy with the ball, but not guarding him is not wrong, you just can’t do what Maryland did.

I waited for the game replay to become available before writing this piece because I wanted to speak from a position of knowing and not one of remembering and guessing. I watched the final seconds at least 50 times. Here’s what I saw.

By not guarding the passer, Maryland had 5 defenders to guard 4 offensive players. But that went awry. With Cowan playing near his own three-point line with his back to the passer (he did move up towards half, but far too late) and Darryl Morsell playing back by his own foul as a safety net, the 5 to 4 advantage became a 4 to 3 disadvantage.

The other three Terps were basically playing man, but Cowan was dramatically out of position and Abdur-Rahkman was uncovered. The pass to him was easy and there was nobody around to quickly stop the ball or his penetration to the basket.

Bruno Fernando might have come out a tad too late, but he was guarding Charles Matthews until Matthews cut left across the lane where Morsell was there to pick him up.

The foul call was a real tough call that I’ll say would never, ever, be called in your home gym. The replay from the angle above the backboard clearly shows Fernando having established his position and the contact being initiated by Abdur-Rahkman.

I’m trying to maintain my objectivity, but I’m not sure you make that call to decide a game. Watch the replay from the backboard camera and decide for yourself. It was a tough way to lose.

The first half was all about the Wolverines poor shooting, Maryland’s work on the boards, and Anthony Cowan getting to the rim.

Michigan hit only 9 of 29 first half shots, while Cowan went for 13 points, and the Terps held a 22-12 rebounding edge during the first 20 minutes.

Maryland, probably not by choice, started a small line-up that featured Michal Cekovsky, Jerad Nickens, Darryl Morsell, Kevin Huerter, and Anthony Cowan.

Bruno Fernando, still feeling the effects of his recent illness, was available for limited minutes and Dion Wiley was not cleared to play due to a concussion.

The Terps came out with energy and guarded well while doing a nice job on the boards. They held a 10-7 lead at the first break and a 5-2 advantage in rebounds. Cekovsky had 2 early blocks but gave up 5 points to his big man counterpart, Moe Wagner.

Coming out of the first TV timeout, Michigan noticeably picked up the defensive pressure but found themselves with mismatches on Cowan who continually beat them to the rim.

Fernando was inserted after the first timeout but looked really sluggish and not his usual energetic self. Maryland kept going to him, but the combination of his lack of energy and Michigan double teams kept him from getting anything going offensively.

Michigan continued to miss shots and when Nickens drained a three near the 6-minute mark, Maryland held a 14-point first-half lead. The Terps, who had worked hard defensively in practice on handling ball screens were doing a nice job, but much of the Wolverine woes offensively were due to missing shots.

Cowan kept getting to rim and with 3:33 to play, Maryland held a 28-14 lead. Michigan was 6-24 from the floor. Halftime came with Maryland up 30-20.

After missing another couple of three-point attempts early in the second half, Michigan rolled off seven straight triples in what seemed like a blink of an eye. That stretch pretty much defined the final twenty minutes.

The Terps were down by ten with 5:50 left, but to their credit, kept clawing back.

They erased a 5-point deficit with only 25 seconds left, to take the one-point lead that set up the closing drama.

As I wrote here yesterday, I expected the game to go down to the last possession.

What I didn’t expect was for Maryland to be able to accomplish that with Wiley out and Fernando able to provide only a fraction of his normal output.

The fact they were able to hang, and almost grab a win, with the players they had left, showed some grit. But, in the end it’s still another loss in a season that has become difficult to see ending with a spot in the NCAA tournament.

After playing three of their last four games on the road, all against top 25 teams, Maryland will return home to host the struggling Gophers of Minnesota, Thursday night at 8:30 pm.

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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 8 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.



Drew Is Here.

Every Weekday.





breakfast bytes

Cobb roughed up again as O's drop series opener to Rays, 8-4, and fall to 6-18.

LeBron James (44 points, game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer) carries Cavaliers to 98-95 win over Indiana and 3-2 series lead.

Wizards fall in Toronto, 108-98, Raptors lead series 3-2 with Game 6 set for D.C. on Friday.

NHL: Bruins score four goals in the third period to eliminate pesky Toronto, 7-4, in Game 7 in Boston.


Adam Hadwin