February 28
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issue 28
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let's continue the "paying for sports journalism" discussion

I got some interesting feedback from several of you yesterday.

It mostly centered on the theme of Tuesday's topic here at #DMD -- Paying for Sports Journalism -- and included a number of people asking me to provide more in-depth reasoning behind my decision to not pursue a "subscription model" here.

Don't get me wrong, #DMD reader and e-mailer Don wrote, I love the fact I don't pay for your website. But I'm genuinely curious why you scoff at the pay concept so easily. Don't you think it's the only way people will consume their news and sports in twenty years? Why not jump out and get ahead of everyone now?

A few others chimed in with similar questions or comments. It seems lots of folks appreciate the "free" of #DMD but think it's worthwhile for me to consider the pay model at the same time.

It's an interesting subject, as I wrote here yesterday.

And, as I also noted on Tuesday, I don't think the subscription model is wrong. Not in the least. I think there's space for it, in the same way there's space for satellite radio and cable TV.

But I'm a big believer in the concept of "novelty". I love the idea of $1.00 snowballs in the summer. And $5.00 pizzas on Wednesday's at my local italian carry-out. I think there's a place for "free" sports coverage, even now, in 2018. And maybe still in 2022 or 2025.

That, however, doesn't really address the issue of "paying for sports journalism" and why it's a thing these days. And to address the issue, I found myself recently -- and yesterday -- asking myself this simple question: If you go to a "pay model", what are you giving the consumer that the free model doesn't also provide?

In almost every single case, at least as far as I've researched, the single biggest thing pay-per-view sports sites boast about offering is "in-depth coverage of the teams you love".

And to get that level of quality, in-depth coverage, there's one key: Having your reporters and/or writers "be credentialed" so they have access to the players, coaches, and locker rooms.

That's primarily why you're paying $5.00 per-month. That, and one other thing that's very important: Quality writing.

The Athletic, for example, has a superb mix of traditional reporters and extraordinarily talented writers. Their $10 million bank account affords them the opportunity to pay Ken Rosenthal the six-figure salary he's worth. It gives them the luxury of luring Dana O'Neill over to their side. Money talks...

I can't speak at all about the professional quality of the three guys who are starting the pay-per-view site down in D.C. because I've never read one piece of their work(s), but my guess is all three of them are highly respected in the market and fully capable of bringing their idea to fruition.

They made a point of highlighting the fact that they are all "credentialed" by the four major teams in D.C. and, I assume, any other sport or college of their choosing. That's a journalism merit badge of sorts. The teams respect you enough to say "Come on in and cover us".

But here's the question. And I don't bring this up to downplay the credentialing issue, because I understand the basic importance of it from a status standpoint.

What do you get from being credentialed that you can't possibly get by not being credentialed?

And that's a serious question. It's not an attempt to minimize or deflect. It's a question of value.

I should stop here for just a second to mention that there is value to the media member who is credentialed in that you can show your face in the locker room or at a press conference the day after you've said or written something that might be unpopular with a particular player, coach, etc.

That's one of the main reasons why I used to go to the Monday press conference held by Brian Billick or John Harbaugh during the season. I wanted them to see me there. I wanted them to know that while I might have been critical of them on Monday morning, that I would also show up at the press conference and be accountable in the (unlikely) event they wanted to discuss my opinion or position privately.

I can say this without hesitation: There were lots of guys on the radio when I was on the air who never set foot in Owings Mills. They yapped about the team a lot and beat up on the players or coaches but never pulled their car into the parking lot of 1 Winning Drive.

I hear guys all the time on the weekends on the FM station who pile on relentlessly about the Orioles or Ravens and I can say with almost 100% certainty they've never once been in the locker room or at a press conference to face the guys they're crushing on the air.

You see, there's an accountability factor that goes with being "credentialed".

Some folks in the media don't like to admit that, but it's true. It's not a free reign to just spew your thoughts and opinions. You have to be willing to face the folks you bash.

I remember like it was yesterday a scene in front of the Orioles dugout on a hot, humid August afternoon. Earlier that day, Sam Perlozzo got up to read the Baltimore Sun and there, on the sports page, was columnist David Steele, offering his opinion that Perlozzo needed to be relieved of his duties.

"It's time the Orioles part ways with Perlozzo," Steele wrote, or something like that.

When Perlozzo was finished with his daily press conference in the dugout, he started to make his way to the field. Steele stepped up and stuck out his hand. Sam shook it.

"Sam, I just wanted you to know that despite what I wrote this morning that I'm here, now, to basically say, "I think you're a good, good man," Steele said. "I wish this season was going better for you. And if you want to discuss anything with me one-on-one, I'm here to offer that opportunity to you."

"David, I get it," Perlozzo said, as the two stood there on the dugout steps. "You have a job to do. No hard feelings."

I gained a lot of respect for David Steele that day. And for Sam Perlozzo.

Let's get back to the topic at hand.

I calculated last year that it would cost #DMD roughly $35,000 to send someone "on the road" with the Orioles for 81 away games.

And that's just travel costs, mind you.

Throw in another $3,000 a month to have someone cover the team "full time" and you have another $18,000 to add to the total (for the season). You're now at $53,000. Let's budget for $60,000 just for kicks and giggles, shall we?

What, exactly, would that $60,000 get #DMD? Forget about whether I could get advertisers to cover the cost. I very well might be able to do that. But what, at the root of it all, would that $60,000 bring to YOU, the reader?

That's the biggest question of them all. What do YOU get out of it?

In 1977, newspapers needed "beat writers". There was no internet. All of the games weren't on TV. Sports radio existed, but barely. Twitter? Instagram? Not even thought of in 1977.

So, sending a reporter/writer "on the road" with the team was a must do. It was the only way the reader -- YOU -- could get information and details on the game that was played last night and the game that's being played tonight or tomorrow.

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Continued --

But why send a reporter on the road to cover the Orioles in 2018?

Every game is on TV, including the manager's post-game press conference.

The team has its own defacto beat reporter that works for the MASN website. You're almost never going to get any sort of "breaking story" before he gets it. Why compete with the team in that regard?

And the organization itself distributes information as they see fit, keeping from you what they don't want to share and proudly broadcasting the stuff they do want you to know. Oh, and it comes right to your telephone!

So, I ask again. Why spend $60,000 to cover the team full-time, every day, home and away?

Is it to report on the games? We've already established it's pretty easy to do that from your living room. Or is it to be in the locker room and around the players every day so you can learn about and pick up story items or talk show topics in a sort of "behind the scenes" manner?

I'll give you two examples of "things" I learned back in the days when I covered both the Orioles and the Ravens on a regular basis. And I didn't even have to travel to the away games to find this stuff out.

J.J. Hardy was a terrific Oriole and a helluva shortstop during his time in Baltimore. But he wasn't a friendly guy to the media.

Ed Reed was a Hall of Fame football player for the Ravens. He was also one of the oddest, weirdest, mysterious athletes I ever came in contact with. Check that. He might have been the oddest.

Now, had I told you -- via my sports talk show -- either of those things while those guys were playing in Baltimore would it have changed your opinion of them in the least? OK, so Hardy was your basic high-profile jock who had an "a-hole" side to him. So what?

And Ed Reed was on-again, off-again more than Van Halen was with David Lee Roth. One minute Reed was smiling and happy-go-lucky and the next minute he was get-off-my-lawn. And? So what?

A terrific shortstop but not always the friendliest guy in the locker room. Is that something sports fans really care about these days?

I just bring those two nuggets up as things you might have learned if you were "credentialed" and around those guys on a semi-regular basis. But I ask, again, what does that really matter?

$60,000 to find out J.J. Hardy wasn't always a nice guy? Seems like a bad spend to me.

I can watch the games on TV and tell you that Manny Machado is an incredible baseball player. And when I watch the games, I can write about it the next day at #DMD. I don't have to spend a nickel (other than through my cable TV bill) to watch Machado from my couch or I can spend $300 for a flight to Boston, $700 for three nights at the Boston Wyndham, and $200 for three days of meals.

Will #DMD's coverage of the Orioles change enough to warrant spending $1,200 to watch the team play three games at Fenway Park?

I'm asking that question on behalf of you, too, since you're the one who will benefit the most from the expenditure and the coverage.

Can I write on a more in-depth level this summer if I'm with the Orioles in Atlanta in late June or if I'm sitting at home writing about them?

Folks like The Athletic and The Sports Capitol clearly believe it's vital that they be on the road and with the teams and the players. And they might be right. Or, at the very least, their business model or venture capital friends might have convinced them that they're right.

To me, sports journalism comes down to this most basic grass roots concept: Watch the game(s), explain what you saw, offer an opinion, and stand by it.

And that philosophy shouldn't change whether you charge $5.95 a month or your product is free.

When the team plays well, say they played well and explain why. When the team plays poorly, say they played poorly and explain why. As Charley Eckman used to say, "It's a very simple game".

Someone here the other day offered a rather goofy take in the "Comments" section. It started off like this: Constant,boring,redundant and smug critiques of OUR MLB team. What in the hell are we suppossed to do? Start hating the team? Stop watching, stop going to the games...(and there was more, but you get the picture.

That, of course, is the position of someone who doesn't have an original thought.

You can be opinionated about the team, critical of the team, and rationally or irrationally unhappy with the team and still "like" the team, still "watch" the team and still "support" the team.

I've been doing just that with the Orioles for the better part of two decades. "I don't dislike the Orioles...I dislike what they've become," was a line I used quite often during their comically inept days from 2000-2010.

But I still buy my 13-game plan every spring and still go to the games and still hope they win. That never changes.

The idea that you shouldn't be critical of a local team or its personnel is illogical.

In the very same way that you're allowed to be critical of the way you're steak is prepared at the local chop house or the manner in which your server accommodates you and your dining needs, you can be critical of a local team or athlete. You're paying for that right when you buy the steak -- or the ticket.

All of this, of course, dovetails back to the original point. What are you getting from a subscription site that you don't get from a free site?

You're paying a monthly fee at the subscription site to get "upgraded content" of some sort, I suppose.

Or, maybe it's as simple as you're paying $5.00 a month so you don't have to see the ads below this piece of content or the ones to the right. You're paying $5.00 a month so the podcasts don't have brief commercial mentions sandwiched around the talk and the interviews.

If that's worth $5.00 a month to you, go ahead and subscribe.

I don't think a subscription site will have people with a "better" opinion than mine just because they're at the Capitals vs. Rangers game in New York and I'm watching it on TV. They might know more about the season-long semi-feud between T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom because they're in the locker room a lot and I'm not, but are they really going to report that stuff anyway? I doubt it.

And even if they told you about the feud, what difference would it make to you?

These are indeed interesting times. They're interesting not because people have come along with new concepts, but because there's really no legitimate proof that the "old way" still can't work efficiently.

In other words...there's plenty of room for everyone.

But the question of all questions is this: What makes one website better than the other, no matter what the cost or the avenue of access?

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giving you some golf winners

Lots of people (well, OK, five or six of you) have reached out to me and asked that I go back to the days of handing out players for fantasy golf selections.

Hey, it's golf. I'm game.

If you're a fantasy golf player (via DraftKings or any other site), you already know the rules. You have a $50,000 "salary cap" and you have to fit six players within that number.

Fantasy golf (and fantasy sports, in general) is a fun, inexpensive way to have a horse in the race on daily or weekly basis, depending on the sport you're playing. Just last week, I played two $4.00 fantasy golf teams and won $26.00. Big deal, right? Well, it's better than losing $26.00, I say.

Already a winner once this season, look for Jon Rahm to be in contention this weekend when the PGA Tour stops in Mexico for a World Golf Championships event.

This week's tournament is a World Golf Championships event in Mexico, so some names are popping up you've never heard of, most likely. My number one rule in Fantasy Golf. I don't care what they did on the European Tour last week or last month or what "international" event they won in Asia or Dubai. If you've never heard of the guy, do NOT play him on your fantasy team.

I look at the DraftKings roster for this week's event in Mexico and I see names like "Adam Bland" and "Chan Kim" and I know, immediately, those two guys aren't going to play any good in this event. I stay away...

But I see lots of names I do know and like, so let's get the team on paper for you so you can win a million bucks this weekend.

Of all the big (costly) names at the top of the offering sheet, I think I like Jon Rahm the most. He costs you $10,600, but the big boys (D.J., Spieth, Thomas) all cost 10K or more. And you really have to have one of those guys in your lineup because it's very likely one of them will be sniffing around the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

You just have to pick one and hope he's the leaderboard hunter...and I think the thin Mexico air and Rahm's ability to drive the ball on a string makes him a great choice this week. He'll have lots and lots of birdie chances.

I'm going back to the well again this week with Alex Noren, who will run me $8,800 but is worth every penny of it. He's 9 of 9 in cuts made this season and has been in the hunt a lot in the last month, losing in a playoff at Torrey Pines and falling one shot shy of last week's Honda Classic playoff. I'm telling you, this kid is going to be in the winner's circle soon.

I've spent $19,400 thus far. $30,600 left to spend on four players.

I love to look at "cut makers" when I pick my teams because you can only get points on the weekend from guys who are -- wait for it -- still playing. So, you need to try and come up with six guys who make the 36-hole cut. It's almost a guarantee that if you go 6-for-6 in that endeavor that you'll win least in DraftKings.

With that in mind, I'm going with Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who is 11-for-11 this season in cuts made. He's a $7,700 player, so I'm cutting myself a little thin at this point, now leaving myself only $22,900 for three players.

I like the chances of Pat Perez this week. I don't think he can win the golf tournament, but he's a guy who could sneak his way into the Ryder Cup points discussion with a couple of high finishes in a WGC event or major championship this year. And unlike some guys, who might be "bored" with the Ryder Cup or President's Cup, Perez would give his left arm to play for the U.S. in one of those events. He's also a perfect 8-for-8 in cuts made this year. He costs $7,400.

Another guy who could potentially wiggle his way into the Ryder Cup discussion is Charley Hoffman and, at $7,200, he's a pretty good investment this week.

That leaves me with $8,300 left to play and I have the perfect guy for just that number. Let's go with Thomas Pieters, who had a runner-up finish in Mexico last year and hasn't missed a cut on the TOUR thus far this season.

There you go. We just "bought" a fantasy golf team for $50,000.

A few other guys I like this week (and will play on other "cards"). Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen, Tony Finau and Chez Reavie.

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February 27
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issue 27
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paying for sports journalism

It's not an idea that's totally new.

People have been paying for sports journalism for a long, long time.

Sports Illustrated might be the most celebrated "pay model" of our generation, but the magazine concept has pretty much been replaced these days by a thing called the internet.

ESPN jumped into the fray in the early 2000's with the development of Insider, where you pay a monthly fee to get the really good stuff from their host of writers and "beat" reporters.

Most major newspapers in the country now have a pay version of their on-line product.

It's an idea that apparently is taking hold in our country.

If you want good coverage of sports, or good opinions on the local teams, or good commentary on the athletes and coaches you care about, there's still a free model you can find in certain places.

Would you pay $50.00 annually ($5.00 per-month) to read about Joe Flacco and the Ravens?

But if you want stepped-up, in-depth, scholarly coverage of those sports and teams and people, you need to pay for it. Not much, mind you. But you need to pay.

The most high-profile of those models just started roughly a year ago. The Athletic is a journalism site that features city-by-city coverage of local and national sports (Baltimore and Washington D.C. do not yet have their own "site") with a pay-per-view model. The fancy word for it these days is "subscription". You pay a monthly fee, you get unfiltered access to the site.

The Athletic is a well-funded enterprise, with nearly $10 million put into it through venture capital. They've lured some talented writers into their stable, including Ken Rosenthal, Seth Davis and Dana O'Neill.

It's an impressive site, to say the least. The only question, of course, is this: Will you pay $50 annually to read it?

Three enterprising former Washington D.C. sports journalists started their own local version of The Athletic yesterday. They're jumping in before The Athletic moves in, apparently, and hope to capture the D.C./Northern Virginia market with The Sports Capitol, a site that will focus mainly on the Capitals, Wizards, Redskins and Nationals.

Their subscription-based model is similar to what you've seen from The Athletic. You pay them $5.95 a month and in return they provide you with sports journalism minus advertising, pop-ups, and click-bait headlines that don't offer quality stories and commentary on the back end.

One of their founders said yesterday, "What we do know is that the free model doesn’t work."

Personally, I kind of hope he's wrong on that one...

But I get it.

What passes for sports "journalism" these days is anyone's guess. There are lots and lots of people with an opinion who are trying to pass themselves off as journalists in 2018.

That's a tricky word, of course. What, exactly, is a "journalist"?

How do you become one?

How do you get better at your craft?

The subscription model is working, by the way. A former newspaper writer in Pittsburgh started his own pay-for-journalism site a few years ago and has been wildly successful getting folks to pony up $3.00 a month for his enterprise.

He has beat writers who travel with the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates. All day. Every day. He brings in a lot of money and spends a lot of money. All under the umbrella of providing Pittsburgh sports fans with extensive, wall-to-wall coverage of their teams.

Can he do it, though, without the help of the teams his site covers?

In order to get credentialed, his site in Pittsburgh has to be "approved" by the clubs. What if his site is critical of the team's performance or personnel moves? What if there's friction between the club and a writer?

This, of course, is one of the on-going issues facing sports journalism. The teams have grown tired of getting beat up and grilled newspaper writers, TV reporters and talk show hosts. While it takes a lot for an organization to pull someone's credential, teams throughout sports have all basically become their own media entity. They interview themselves and put it out on their own websites and podcasts.

And it doesn't cost you a dime to visit, say,

We're obviously operating under a different formula here at #DMD.

We cover sports, too, but don't charge you anything to visit the site every day or listen to "The Juice" every day. We only ask that you recognize our corporate partners and if the need calls for a vehicle, convenience store, plumber, financial planner, credit union, payroll company, realtor, mortgage broker, etc., that you'll at least give our advertisers a call and give them a shot at earning your business.

That's the trade off we make. You get this free of charge every day. Just utilize our sponsors if the need arises.

It's the "old" way of doing things, admittedly.

The new way is to not have advertisers and just charge you $5.00 per-month.

Five dollars, of course, is nothing these days. It's an expensive cup of coffee, essentially. If you really, really like sports and sports journalism, certainly five bucks a month wouldn't hold you back, would it?

There are lots of "journalists" out there who hope that's the case, indeed.

And I don't even mind if you give them $5.00 a month as long as you keep coming here and accept our free product.

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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 current scandal rocking college basketball is unlike anything the sport has ever seen.

Coaches and other industry insiders are facing charges that could carry de facto life sentences if they're convicted, at least on Hall of Fame coach has been brought down, and some of the sports' marquee programs, including Duke and Maryland, have been named along the way. When all is said and done the landscape of the sport will be shaped much differently, albeit maybe not in the way you might expect.

It's also a total crock.

That's the first thing we must address at the outset: The real scandal is that so many manhours and other resources at the FBI have been devoted to such a cockamamie attempt to criminalize NCAA violations.

And once you get past the salacious headlines about "corruption" and the serious sounding charges, there's really nothing here at all. Crimes like money laundering and the various forms of fraud that people are finding themselves charged with aren't actually crimes per se, but require an underlying criminal enterprise to make actions in furtherance of said enterprise illegal (in the case of money laundering it's right there in the name: If the money is "clean" from the get-go, then there's nothing to "launder"). And, of course, the NCAA rulebook doesn't carry the force of law, and breaking NCAA rules is not a criminal offense.

The federal government's attempt to get around this inconvenient fact is as ridiculous (and frightening) as it is novel.

When Arizona's Sean Miller was recorded on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment for an incoming freshman, the federal case against the NCAA had its first big "coaching fish".

When the first round of indictments was announced a few months ago, the government put forward the argument that by committing actions that would make a player ineligible if discovered, the defendants had defrauded the universities. This is a novel argument to say the least, and it's on very shaky legal ground.

Most notably, the fact that coaches were being accused of defrauding their employer was way out on a limb when it comes to traditional liability standards, which generally hold employers responsible for the actions of their employees in the course of performing their duties. To declare that an employee could defraud the company, so to speak, while on the job is pretty radical, and would have some pretty major consequences for civil law if actually taken seriously.

Imagine, for example, that Enron had been able to obscure senior management's knowledge of their criminal activities and thus argue that they had been defrauded by their lower level traders and managers. If the company had been the victims of fraud, they couldn't also be liable for the illegal activity, and consumers wouldn't have legal grounds to sue them for misdeeds.

Oh, and you'll also note that there's no indication that the FBI or DOJ has any intention of charging any athletes in the probe, even though they would clearly be parties to the criminal conspiracy and arguably the most obviously guilty as well, in the event that they didn't declare taxable gifts to the IRS (so far as I can tell, no one has been charged with tax evasion at all, in fact). That would be bad PR, obviously, and invite more scrutiny than I'm sure the prosecutors want.

That the legal grounds for the case were so shaky had many people guessing that the cases would be tossed out, and that's clearly what the defendants have banked on to this point. That hasn't happened yet though, and the case is only snowballing. This is where things get interesting.

Assuming the charges aren't thrown out on legal grounds, and that the defendants did in fact do what they're alleged to have done, there are two other cut and dried ways for them to conclusively beat the rap. The first is to essentially burn the whole thing down, and implicate any athletic directors, university Presidents, or other senior university officials who were aware of what was going on. If the schools knew about the payments to athletes then by definition they couldn't have been defrauded and the government's entire case unravels with the thread.

This strikes me as basically inevitable, especially as the case gets larger and the likelihood of the charges simply dismissed gets smaller. The accused know where a lot of bodies are buried and they're staring at serious jail time, which means that eventually someone is going to break and start scorching the Earth in their own defense, and damn the consequences for Louisville, Arizona, Oklahoma State, or any other school.

This is what we might call the "reckoning" scenario, where a bunch of coaches, agents, shoe company officials, and other people associated with the sport go on the record and spill in great detail just how many impermissible benefits are being funneled to players, and just how complicit the schools themselves are in the whole mess.

What happens then? I really don't know.

You'd think that would bring mass firings and a wave of "reform" to the NCAA, but the simply fact is that when "corruption" is found to be widespread enough, or to reach a high enough level of power, we just don't really do anything about it. And since the NCAA isn't enforcing the legal code, they don't even have the pretense of a duty to do anything about it (and, ultimately, they answer to the very people they'd be enforcing the rules against).

And then there's the nuclear option.It's a simple matter of principle that you can't, technically speaking, defraud someone who is actively engaging in criminal activity. In other words, if I agree to sell you $20,000 worth of illegal drugs, take your money, and then never deliver any actual drugs, I can't be charged with fraud and you can't sue me because the underlying agreement is illegal in nature and thus the legal system can't "enforce" it.

By the same token, if this saga ends with the courts declaring that the NCAA's rules on amateurism are illegal, then that's the ballgame.

While not as likely as the above "burn it all down" scenario, I don't actually think this is terribly unlikely either. The NCAA's ban on receiving any kind of payments has been challenged several times in civil court in recent years, and the NCAA has been losing ground in those cases, if perhaps not steadily.

In criminal court, however, the stakes are much higher. We're not talking about whether a former player gets a relatively meager royalty payment from a video game, but whether people potentially spend a decade or more in prison. A judge who is even remotely uncomfortable with that scenario is going to devote significant thought to this question (there's also, incidentally, a civil case at the moment making that very claim that could weigh heavily on these cases and vice-versa).

And I suspect that the government is keenly aware of this possibility, and that's a big part of the reason why players haven't been included in the indictment. Imagine Josh Jackson being brought up on felony fraud charges for allegedly taking $2,700 in impermissible benefits, and the backlash that would ensue. I guarantee that prosecutors have.

These two outcomes aren't either/or by any means. For example, one way the NCAA could respond to the "the reckoning" would be to simply decide to bring everything above board and work out an arrangment for paying the players, or at least doing away with the barbaric and indefensible ban on third party payments, or "impermissible benefits."

It's not mentioned often enough that the NCAA is alone in defining "amateurism" so broadly and virtually no other "amateur" organization, including the Olympics, bars athletes from receiving third party payments or trading on their likeness.

And the NCAA's policy isn't motivated by any rational definition of what amateurism or scholarship should be (the same universities who say basketball players can't charge money for an autograph have programs in place to help music majors find paying gigs, for example) but by their own desire to own and control the players' likeness and to profit off of them without having to share any of the proceeds. Dropping the pretense would at least legitimize what is otherwise perfectly legal and sensible behavior, and a court finding that the ban on third party payments is illegal is pretty much inevitable at this point anyway.

Or, conversely, nothing at all could happen.

Just because the lower courts seem inclined to let the cases proceed doesn't mean that something couldn't change, or that higher courts couldn't intervene and declare the government's argument to be without merit.

That's pretty clearly the outcome that the defendants and the NCAA are hoping for, and while the former is playing along now, as the case grows and threatens to become a wrecking ball swinging in one direction or the other, you have to think that the organization itself is going to try to start undermining the case, hoping for the least disruptive outcome.

But I wouldn't count on it. This thing is snowballing too fast, and the government is being too aggressive for such an anti-climactic ending. A seismic shift is coming to college sports as a result of this story, and it just may be the end of big time college athletics as we know them.

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caps lose 5-1, fall out of first place

The annual heartbreak Caps fans feel every April (and occasionally May) might not come around this spring.

Instead, fans of the NHL team are seeing the squad start to collapse in February.

Last night's 5-1 loss at Columbus pushed the club into 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division. Washington has 77 points. The worst-franchise-in-the-history-of-sports now sits in first place with 78 points after the Flyers posted a shootout win last night.

Alex Ovechkin scored his team high 39th goal last night in Columbus. The next closest on the team has 17 goals this season.

Yesterday's trade deadline came and went without the Caps making any kind of move. In fairness, they added two new defensive players last week via trade, so no moves on Monday didn't come as a complete surprise. But many hockey faithful took it as a sign that the Capitals see the writing on the wall for the 2017-2018 season.

I'm not sure I buy that, totally, but I do see where the Caps might look at things and say, "We don't have the horses and giving up something significant to add a "maybe" just doesn't make sense for us at this time."

This team doesn't look good. In all honesty, they've been "uneven" all season long, although they had a few two-week runs that gave off the appearance they might be on the verge of a serious surge in the standings.

Other than Alex Ovechkin (and, maybe, Nicklas Backstrom), the team's vital, go-to players have all shot over par thus far this season. Kuznetsov has been OK, nothing more. Oshie has been woefully under productive, although injuries have curtailed his impact. And Burakovsky has been so bad at times he's been outright benched by head coach Barry Trotz.

The defense has been inept throughout the season. And that's being kind.

A goaltender is typically only as good as the guys in front of him. That said, they also have to make saves when called upon, an idea that seems foreign to Braden Holtby of late. He was once again yanked mid-game last night after surrendering four first-period goals. It's not all Holtby's fault, for sure, but he almost looks like a guy who has thrown in the towel.

The Caps are now eight points ahead of the Blue Jackets in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

They're still going to make the playoffs.

The Caps, that is.

But here's the thing. If you get that playoff ticket order form in the mail later this week...I wouldn't be sending in your money just yet.

When it involves the Capitals -- and springtime -- you never know what might happen.

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February 26
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issue 26
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it's only ryan flaherty, but still...

Some of these stories about the Orioles you see and hear and you can't help but shake your head.

It's almost like they're intentionally negligent but want to make it look like they're just forgetful.

By now, I think most of us have figured it out. They're negligent.

If you haven't heard what happened to utility infielders Ryan Flaherty and Ryan Goins recently, hang around for a minute or two and check this out. It's amazing an organization can be this inept and still put 20,000 people in the ballpark every night.

Flaherty, of course, was a six year member of the Orioles who was a free agent in the recent off-season. Let's qualify Flaherty's career and do it nicely: He's your basic big-league journeyman. Able to play several spots -- none of them at an All-Star level, admittedly -- and do so at a very affordable, reasonable salary.

Look at every major league roster and you'll see a "Ryan Flaherty" in there. Every team needs a utility guy.

Flaherty and the Orioles spoke several times in the off-season. They apparently had the makings of an agreement. Flaherty merely needed the O's to put the contract together and send it off for his signature.

It never happened.

Former O's infielder Ryan Flaherty thought he had a deal worked out with the Birds in the off-season. But it never materialized.

The infielder spoke with Buck Showalter, Dan Duquette and Brady Anderson at various points in the winter. The Orioles wanted him back for 2018 and Flaherty wanted to return. That was the impression Flaherty got, at least.

But in traditional Orioles fashion, Flaherty never got a contract.

Nervous, he made contact with the Phillies and talks with them escalated quickly. A deal was presented to Flaherty in early January. Rather than immediately sign it, though, the infielder did to the Phillies what the Orioles do to everyone else -- he put his feet up and slowed the process with hopes the Orioles would come around with their contract.

He never heard back from the Orioles and eventually signed with Philadelphia in early February.

Here's the funniest part of the whole saga. The O's apparently did the exact same thing to former Blue Jays utility infielder Ryan Goins over the off-season.

In fact, the club had a major league deal agreed upon with Goins, but it never got approved at the ownership level and Goins wound up taking a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals.

How on earth is it possible that a team -- any team -- can't get their act together in time to sign a utility infielder?

Flaherty could still wind up in Baltimore. If he doesn't make the Phillies' major league roster by late March, he can opt-out of his deal in Philadelphia and once again become a free agent. If that happens, you'd suspect the first call he'd make would be to the Warehouse.

Then again, why would anyone put themselves through that?

Yes, I know. It's only Ryan Flaherty and Ryan Goins. They're piano movers, not piano players. But right now, the Orioles don't actually have a utility infielder signed for 2018. They still need someone to fill that role.

Flaherty and Goins would have been reasonable selections for that position. Both thought they had a deal with the Orioles. Neither wound up signing in Baltimore.

How does stuff like this keep on happening?

There's no manager or general manager signed for 2018.

Lord only knows what's going on with those two situations, although we can all speculate that Brady Anderson's emergence within the organization has something to do with both situations.

They diddled around for a month and couldn't even sign a utility infielder.

It's like a comedy of errors.

And then there's this: What's going to happen in 2021 and 2022 when the team's lease expires at Camden Yards? Will the Orioles renew their option to extend it for five more years? Or will they botch that, too?

Don't laugh about the lease issue, folks.

I'm telling you, don't do it.

There's a certain western city that recently added a hockey team and lured a NFL team to move there -- and they'd love to have a baseball team, too. Remember where you heard it first...

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woods prepping for masters and, maybe, the ryder cup (?)

I don't know how many more events Tiger Woods will play before the Masters (my guess? two), but by the time the tournament rolls around in early April, he might wind up being one of the betting favorites.

That's how far he's come over the last month.

Woods didn't win the Honda Classic on Sunday -- that honor went to Justin Thomas, who won for the 7th time in two seasons yesterday -- but that's about the only thing he didn't do at PGA National.

He wow'd everyone, including the great Jack Nicklaus, with his prodigious drives and precise iron play. Had you just flown in from Pluto and turned the golf on, you would have had no idea Woods missed nearly all of the 2017 season with a back injury. He looked that good.

Everyone in the top ten who doesn't win can agonize over a missed putt or three and say afterwards, "If I make those, I win..."

Tiger's no different. If he makes anything on Saturday or Sunday, he wins the tournament by three shots. He led the event in proximity to the hole and was second in driving distance. He just didn't putt well enough to win.

Back to the Masters, now.

I'm in the camp that was skeptical about Tiger's chances of ever winning another major championship. I suppose I still am. But if I could sell my stock in that club, I might do it at this point.

Tiger's record at Augusta National is downright amazing, as you'll see below. If there's a major title he can still win, it's the Masters.

And here's one final note before we look at Tiger's Masters record. If he continues to play like he did at the Honda, there's a really good chance he'll be a playing Vice Captain at the Ryder Cup in France in late September.

He'll either make the team on his own accord or Jim Furyk will select him as a captain's pick. There's a lot of fish to fry between now and late summer when the picks are made, but the Woods we saw at the Honda will most certainly be appealing to Furyk.

One quick note before you check out the "Tiger Table" below. Since he won the tournament in 1997, guess how many different players have finished ahead of Woods in a Masters event?

A grand total of 88. Mickelson has, 7 times. Cabrera, Furyk, and Singh have, 4 times each. Westwood, Couples, Z. Johnson, and A. Scott have, 3 times each. 22 players have finished ahead of him twice. 58 players have done so once.

Amazing, right?

Tiger in the Masters
Year Tiger's Finish Winner
1997 1 Tiger Woods
1998 T8 Mark O'Meara
1999 T18 José María Olazábal
2000 5 Vijay Singh
2001 1 Tiger Woods
2002 1 Tiger Woods
2003 T15 Mike Weir
2004 T22 Phil Mickelson
2005 1 Tiger Woods
2006 T3 Phil Mickelson
2007 T2 Zach Johnson
2008 2 Trevor Immelman
2009 T6 Ángel Cabrera
2010 T4 Phil Mickelson
2011 T4 Charl Schwartzel
2012 T40 Bubba Watson
2013 T4 Adam Scott
2014 DNP Bubba Watson
2015 T17 Jordan Spieth
2016 DNP Danny Willett
2017 DNP Sergio García
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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?


Sean Miller

While we’re ruminating about Diamond Stone and money paid to players, by agents or otherwise, let’s not forget that the Maryland coach right now could be…ummm…Sean Miller.

Before this weekend, I’m guessing that at least 95 percent of Maryland fans wished Sean Miller was the coach. He was our top choice, and he turned us down. A guy like that, who had just taken Arizona to the Elite Eight in his second season, would have been a perfect guy to replace a legend.

Sean Miller spent 48 hours in 2011 seriously thinking about becoming Maryland’s coach. He’s an East Coast guy, a Western Pennsylvania legend who played at Pitt. I’m sure he loved the idea of coaching in the ACC, which is what coaching at Maryland was in 2011.

It was reported back then that Miller balked because Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson would not promise him “special admits.” In fact, the Washington Post quoted Anderson as saying that “I don’t know what they’re doing where he is but, you know, we’re not doing that.”

I wonder what Miller meant by “special admits.” Sounds like getting extremely questionable academic admits, which happens everywhere, isn’t quite enough for him.

In any event, at age 49, Miller’s college basketball career is over. And it could have been Maryland looking for a new coach instead of Arizona.

Mark Turgeon makes $2.5 million to coach the Maryland men's basketball team. The guy who hired him, the Athletic Director, makes $580,000.


Getting paid

Sean Miller got a contract extension from Arizona about a year ago, reportedly through the 2021-2022 season. The deal was reportedly worth nearly $3 million a year.

He’ll go down in flames for breaking the rules, offering a payment to DeAndre Ayton of less than three percent of that.

Most of the payments and loans exposed in the current FBI investigation are chump change, really, even when compared to $100,000. And I’m sure some coaches, as Mark Turgeon insists, had no idea about them.

It makes you wonder. What’s the big deal?

Why shouldn’t an agent be able to approach a player and offer him something in the hope that he might sign with him in the future?

From the NCAA side, the rules need to change. The idea that it should be “impermissible” for a player or his family to receive money or benefits from an agent is an idea from another era in time, if it was ever a good idea to begin with.

A great basketball prospect is no different than a teenage singing prodigy. If he shows unnatural ability at a young age, and is offered opportunities because of it, he should be able to take advantage of that without it being part of a shady system of black market recruiting.

Plus, the same teams would still win, wouldn’t they?



About two years ago, the NCAA, CBS and Turner announced an eight-year extension of their rights agreement for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The new contract extended the existing one to, yes, 14 years from now.

The eight-year extension, past the original contract date of 2024, carries a total rights fee of $8.8 billion.

$8.8 billion.

There are those that would say that none of that $8.8 billion goes to the basketball players who perform during the tournament, but that’s not entirely true. Most of the revenue to be generated by the contract goes back into college athletics in some way or another, including athletic scholarships for Division I and Division II athletes.

But in the most basic sense, it’s not wrong. When Villanova plays whatever sacrificial lamb they play in the first round, both teams will have their travel, hotels, and meals paid for. Both will get the experience; for one it’ll be cooler than the other.

Nobody on either team will get a check for his performance, though. That’s just not the way it works. And with billions and billions of dollars floating around, it’s not wrong to wonder why. And whether, by 2032, that will be different.



It’s a cottage industry for sports fans in the United States to criticize the NCAA. The criticism comes from positions of knowledge and experience, like that from broadcaster Jay Bilas, and from less judicious positions, like Louisville fans in 2018 or Maryland fans in 1990.

I always like to remind people that “the NCAA” isn’t what they think it is. The NCAA is the schools themselves; they’ve agreed to come together, and they’ve agree to follow the regulations and policies that they voted for.

The people who work for the NCAA in Indianapolis, the administrative staff, are there to run a membership organization. As Bilas often says, they are really good at doing certain things, such as running championships, the most famous of which is the Division I Men’s Basketball tournament.

When it comes to other things, like enforcement, the NCAA isn’t so great. Those Louisville and Maryland fans aren’t 100 percent wrong.

The principles of amateurism, the bedrock of what the NCAA is supposed to stand for, seem kind of silly in relation to $8.8 billion TV contracts. The wording says that “student priority remains on obtaining a quality educational experience and that all student-athletes are competing equitably.”

In the pursuit of things, and money, never thought possible, schools long ago left much of that message behind. Yet the NCAA feels obligated to enforce the same rules it always has, even though they no longer make sense.


Coaches’ salaries

Serious questions.

Why is the football coach, or the basketball coach sometimes, the highest-paid state employee? I get the idea that bringing in more revenue can mean more money on the other end, but is the coach necessarily the most important person behind that revenue production?

Why does Mark Turgeon make $2,567,000 while his boss, Kevin Anderson, makes $583,000? Is there any other industry in which you can make four times as much as your supervisor? What kind of relationship does that portend?

Coaches, famously, get hired to get fired. Why does a school put themselves out there for so much money, knowing that they might have to pay someone for years to not coach their team?

What if a school like Arizona or Maryland just drew a line in the sand and said, privately or publicly, that the salary for their coaching job was what it was, just like every other job on campus. We want you to come coach our team, and this is what the salary is. Take it or leave it.

Maybe a few coaches would balk. But wouldn’t you rather have a guy who wants to coach the team and not one that always seems to be asking for something?

These coaches exist, of course, at most schools in the country. I suppose most of them are looking to move up to the schools where they can act like jerks.

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February 25
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issue 25
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who's next after sean miller?

You have to believe this is just getting started.

Sean Miller -- it now looks like we can call him the "former" basketball coach at Arizona -- isn't the only guy they have the goods on, right?

Why he was the first one who got exposed is anyone's guess, but I find it hard to believe Miller's the only big time college coach the FBI has on tape talking about cash payments.

There are more, trust me.

Miller didn't coach the Wildcats last night in Eugene, where Oregon handed Arizona a 98-83 overtime loss. He released a statement prior to the game saying it was "in the best interest of the team that I not coach the game tonight." I had to LOL at that one.

Uhhhh, Sean, it's also probably in the best interest of the school that you not show up to work today, too.

Interestingly, Deandre Ayton, the 7'1" kid from the Bahamas who is in the middle of this -- by way of an agent who took 100k from Arizona -- did play in the game and had a big night in a losing cause.

"The guy we illegally gave a hundred grand to -- he's right over there!" (This is a picture of Arizona's Sean Miller, in case you don't know.)

His family released a statement prior to the game, denying -- naturally -- any knowledge of wrong doing. "[Ayton] directly stated to the FBI, more than six months ago, that he never discussed or solicited payments from the University of Arizona, or any other university, or any shoe company or anyone on behalf of either -- period. This includes basketball and anything else," the statement said.

Sure thing.

No, no, no, we believe you.

Really. We do.

Let's think about that for a second.

This kid is recruited by a significant number of high-profile Division 1 college basketball programs. Lord only knows what they're throwing his way as an incentive to come and "study" at their school.

Suddenly, an agent has a conversation with the Arizona basketball coach and a wiretapped discussion ensues about a payment of $100,000 for said player.

Wow, what do you know? The really good basketball player goes to Arizona after all. Out of all the schools who pursued him, he winds up choosing the one where there was a discussion about a hundred grand changing hands.

And when it's all discovered and everything unravels, we're not supposed to connect the dots and assume the kid didn't get a piece of the action? Really? The sports agent has that much leverage over the kid that he can peddle him to the highest bidder and the "product" doesn't get compensated?

Sorry. I'm not buying it.

In some ways, Ayton's 28-point, 19-rebound performance last night was miraculous given everything that has happened.

One teammate was particularly impressed.

"I think [Ayton has] handled it like a professional," Arizona's Parker Jackson-Cartwright said after the loss at Oregon. "He is a high-character guy. He really cares about his teammates, and he gives his all. He gives his all, regardless. I think the last 24 hours have been really probably difficult for him, but he's handled it like a professional."

Poor Jackson-Cartwright. He probably didn't think about using the word "professional" in the same sentence with Ayton. We'll let that one slide.

As for Sean Miller, he's likely coached his last college basketball game. Ever.

It's hard to feel sorry for him, on one hand, but I guess it's OK if you feel a twinge of compassion for Miller because we all know -- not names, specifically, but we just know -- that there are plenty of others in his profession who are guilty of the same or worse than what he did to get Ayton to play at Arizona.

He's just the one they caught. For now.

Maybe he's the biggest of the fish and they wanted to show him off first.

Or perhaps Miller is one of the smaller ones, and their plan is to make the big boys sweat a little (or a lot) before they leak the next name and the next recorded conversation.

Remember in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street when those two FBI guys showed up on DeCaprio's yacht and lightly questioned him about illegal activities at his firm in Manhattan?

They already had the goods on him at that point. That was just a visit to rattle his cage and put him on notice that everything was about to crumble in his world. Part of the fun of catching the bad guy is letting him know you've been on his trail.

I wonder how many coaches in college basketball slept well on Friday night?

There will be others, of course.

Sean Miller's definitely not the only one.

Coaches will lose their jobs. Schools will be under great scrutiny, both legally and ethically.

Presidents of those schools will lose their jobs, too.

Heck, before you know it, these basketball players might even have to -- hold on to your seats -- actually just go to school and play a season or two without taking illegal benefits under the table.

Poor kids...

We all knew this was coming at some point. Anyone who has followed college athletics long enough knew this was going to blow up.

Apparently, that time has come.

The only question now...Who's next?

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tiger actually is out of it, but he's definitely improving

Tiger Woods went on auto-pilot after his Saturday round when he saw the leader of the Honda Classic was 7-under and he was at even par with 18 holes remaining.

"I'm still in the tournament," Woods said to reporters.

Ummmmm, not really.

I mean, OK, sure, by definition you're seven shots back and it's possible that someone could catch fire today and shoot 64 and the handful of guys at -7 and -6 could post over par numbers and the tide could change.

It's possible in the same way you and I could win this Wednesday's Maryland Lotto.

Tiger was grinning from ear-to-ear after a 3rd round 69 on Saturday at the Honda Classic.

But Tiger's not winning today.

Now, that doesn't mean he shouldn't be enthused about his play. He should be. Very much so, in fact.

If you watched any of Saturday's third round from PGA National, you saw it for yourself. Tiger put together his best round of "The Comeback" (that's what the media folks are calling it, that's not my phrase) and if not for a balky putter, particularly on the front nine, he might be a shot or two out of the lead heading into today's final round.

Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel continues to marvel at Tiger's swing and overall play.

"Honestly, this is as good as Tiger has looked since 2001," Chamblee said last night. That's 17 years ago, for those Flyers fans out there reading this.

Yesterday, he reached a swing speed of 128 miles per-hour on a drive he hit on the back nine. That was the highest recorded swing speed on TOUR since 2007.

If you're a believer in those things -- analytics and body-driven data that all golfers are using these days -- that all by itself was an indicator of how well Woods is swinging the golf club in this, just his third tournament back after missing nearly all of 2017 due to back surgery.

If you're a skeptic that a guy who was cut on last March can swing a club at 128 MPH not even a year later, I get it. I can't wrap my head around it, either.

But this much is true. Woods has played as well as anyone in the field this week at the Honda. He hasn't scored as well as everyone. But tee-to-green, he's hit the ball as well as any of the other 143 players who teed it up on Thursday morning.

Oh, and the golf course is difficult. And playing hard, too.

I'm impressed.

But none of this matters, anyway. The only thing that really matters is that little tournament they play in Georgia the first week of April.

Win, lose or draw today, the golf season for Tiger Woods doesn't officially start until they tee it up at Augusta National.

This is fun to watch in the meantime, though.

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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 blasted at home by michigan

After a season of mediocre attendance and lackluster enthusiasm at the XFINITY Center, energized fans finally came out for yesterday’s Maryland game against the Wolverines of Michigan.

Unfortunately, while the fans showed up, the home team never did.

The game was marketed as a “White Out”, and the Terps got buried under an avalanche of Michigan three-point shots while suffering an embarrassing 85-61 season ending loss. The Terps allowed Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman to go for a season high 28 points in a game that was effectively over before the first half was even completed.

It’s wasn’t a very nice way for the seniors to go out.

For all the years that I’ve followed Maryland basketball as a fan, Terp Club member, and part of the local media, it’s hard for me to remember a more embarrassing 20 minutes of basketball than what I witnessed at the XFINITY Center yesterday.

“Embarrassing” might be the only nice word I could use to describe Maryland’s play in the first half.

They had almost as many turnovers (8) as shots made (10). They allowed Michigan to continually shoot wide open threes and they failed to get back on defense. As a result, the scoreboard showed an unbelievable halftime score, 54-24. Game over.

Michal Cekovsky and the other Maryland seniors went out a loser on Saturday in a 24-point home defeat to Michigan.

Abdur-Rahkman had 22 first half points for a Michigan team that outscored the Terps 33-3 from the three-point line in the first 20 minutes. The three-point shots were rarely contested and Michigan hoisted 19 of them in the first half, hitting 11.

Maryland was either giving up too much space or totally losing contact with their defensive assignment throughout the opening twenty minutes.

On some occasions the Wolverines were able to jab step and then shoot a step-back three. On most possessions there was little to deter the Wolverine long range attempts. When they weren’t making threes, they were converting on breakaways.

Michigan held an 11-0 fast break advantage in the first period and their bench outscored Maryland’s 22-2. To say it was ugly is an understatement and, as the team exited the court, the fans let the players know how they felt about the team’s indifferent play.

Mark Turgeon decided to go small in the second half and played five guards together for much of the period. Seldom used Reese Mona logged 15 minutes during the second half while Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky each only played five.

Mona did bring some fire to the court, but nothing really changed with the exception that Michigan began to slow down their offense. In reality, the last twenty minutes were just an obligation to complete the game.

I couldn’t have been more wrong about this game and the individual matchups on the court. Michigan was unexpectedly and decidedly faster than Maryland. They were able to cut off the Terp dribble drives, and on offense the visitors got past the first line of Terp defense regardless of the matchup.

Maryland was just awful with their defensive help and their rotations. The instances were far too often where a Maryland defender left his man open while pretending to help against a penetrating Wolverine. That usually ended up with a successful Michigan three-point shot.

I also didn’t understand the Terp defensive philosophy of playing a step or two away from the man with the ball. Maybe they thought they were respecting the drive potential, but what they really did was make themselves susceptible to the jab step and step back three, while also giving the ballhandler a running start to the basket if he did opt to penetrate.

I would have much rather seen a chest to chest style defense. Maryland made things too easy for Michigan by playing a step back. The hands that deflected so many Northwestern passes a few days ago were nowhere to be seen and too far away.

After the game Coach Turgeon took the blame by saying that he didn’t have his team ready to go, and he may have been right. The Terp game plan surely underestimated the speed by which Michigan played.

The Terps where outclassed and outplayed in every phase of the game.

If you’re looking for positives, I’d say that getting out of the parking lot was really easy because most of the fans had left way before the final horn had sounded. That might be the only good thing about attending Saturday's stinker.

There wasn’t one Terp that played decently. I understand that Anthony Cowan is gassed after playing more minutes than anyone in D1 ball, and that Kevin Huerter has a damaged right hand, but there is little excuse for what happened yesterday in College Park -- other than the whole organization wasn’t good enough.

The Terps have the Big Ten Tournament next week, and then a likely NIT bid should they elect to take it.

Maryland made many steps forward in this challenging year. Huerter, Cowan, Fernando, Darryl Morsell, and Dion Wiley all improved this season, but the team definitely fell back by a few long strides yesterday.

Now it’s on to the Big Apple and a Madison Square Garden date with Wisconsin on Thursday at noon.

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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.

February 24
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issue 24
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none of this ncaa news is surprising

I saw the headline last night when I got home from the Blast game at SECU Arena.

Arizona's Sean Miller talked $100,000 payment for star player

The first thing I said to myself? "Of course he did..."

With the Yahoo! story that came out early Friday morning that detailed an almost endless trail of under-the-table-payments, illegal benefits and agents trying to woo clients into their stable, some sort of follow-up was almost a certainty.

It turned out to be Sean Miller who got the spotlight with last night's breaking news. He apparently was involved in a wiretapped conversation where he discussed a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton, through sports agent Christian Dawkins.

Worst of all, when Dawkins asks Miller if the conversation should shift to Miller's assistant coach, Emanuel Richardson, the Arizona reportedly coach says, "No, all discussions about money come to me."

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon and his Terps program made the Yahoo! story on Friday when it was revealed former Maryland player Diamond Stone received money from an agent while in College Park.

Pretty hard to use the typical "I never said that" stance that most coaches publish when you're wiretapped -- saying that.

The real story here isn't about coaches promising kids money and "student-athletes" knowingly violating NCAA rules or the sleaze bag agents who serve as the equivalent of a drug runner to afford their 8-bedroom beach houses and fancy sports cars.

The story is this: Do we care?

"We", as in the people who watch the games, wear the apparel and pay money for the tickets.

How many folks, I wonder, will be in the Xfinity Center today at noon when Maryland plays Michigan and care -- really care -- that there's almost a certainty both programs on the floor have been involved in nefarious behavior over, say, the last decade?


Do we care?

Should we care? That might even be the more important question.

Should we care that college basketball (in this case...we all know football is also filled with cheaters) is bursting at the seams with coaches, players and "associates" who can't play by the rules?

Does it bother you?

In some ways, I'm numb to it.

I've become so numb to it that my overall interest in college sports has probably gone from a "10" to a "6" over the last two decades or so. Maybe that's just me getting into my get-off-my-lawn years, but I long ago got fed up with trying to keep track of which programs were clean and on the up-and-up and which ones aren't.

I treat college sports pretty much the way I treat major league baseball.

Everyone's dirty.

Some of have just figured out a way to keep their dirt concealed and hidden better than others.

Now, I'm certain not "everyone" is dirty, both in college sports and in baseball. But I lost my energy and enthusiasm long ago for trying to ascertain who is clean and who is dirty.

They did that to me, by the way. I didn't do that to them.

The worst part of it all -- back to college sports, now -- is that there isn't an answer for these woes. There's just not. Players are going to break the rules under the guise of "the school is making money off of me" and the agents are going to break the rules because "they're going to sign with someone under the table, why not me?" and the coaches are going to break the rules because "the more I win, the more money I make, period".

And, no, the answer isn't to just "pay college athletes a salary" and allow them to earn a living while they're playing Division 1 sports. That is, unless they're willing to pay for their own education.

I've floated that idea for a long time but I guess it's not sophisticated enough to cut the mustard. Why not just abolish full scholarships for revenue-generating sports and say to the kids, "You pay your $49,503 tuition and we'll then "hire" you to play basketball for us"?

The agents can then become the true middle man -- or middle woman -- and they would be on the hook for the tuition (presumably). Or someone would be, I guess. The kid wouldn't accept responsibility for his/her own schooling. Heaven forbid...

That idea needs refining and tweaking, naturally. And, no matter what, coaches and players would still cheat anyway. If the best D1 basketball prospect gets a $22,000 per-season salary from Duke, he'll just call the coach at Kentucky and say, "Can you do $32,000?"


And coaches would do the same thing. If a kid gets an offer for $34,000 per-season from UCLA, Sean Miller will say to the kid, "I'll give you $44,000 to come to Arizona."

And therein lies the rub. And that's why, for the most part, I watch college sports from a distance now. I still enjoy it. Love March Madness and the lacrosse Final Four, even now. But I'm in no way an "advocate" of big time D1 sports any longer because they're all scandalous.

I want to root for the good guys.

I don't have a "school of choice" or a dog-in-the-hunt because I didn't graduate from college.

So, I'd love to root for the good guys. You know...the school and coach -- and players -- in big time Division 1 hoops or football that don't break the rules.

If only that program existed...

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tiger makes the weekend and makes the honda classic interesting

When Brandel Chamblee is gushing about Tiger Woods, you know something good is going on.

The Golf Channel analyst couldn't stop praising Tiger's second round 71 on Friday, which leaves him just four shots out of the lead heading into the weekend at PGA National in South Florida.

"I never thought I'd see Tiger swing the club like this again," Chamblee said on Friday evening. "It's as good as he's looked in ten or twelve years."

To wit, Woods hit a 361 yard drive on Friday (not wind aided, either...) and had several swing speeds top out at 124 mph. Last February, before his fourth back surgery, Woods was routinely clocked in the 110-112 mph swing speed range.

"This Tiger, the one we saw Thursday and Friday...he can win again on the PGA Tour. And I mean major championships," Chamblee said.


"Where is everyone who said I'd never contend again?"

I keep using that word over and over when it comes to Tiger.


Look, I realize Chamblee knows a lot more about golf than I do and I also realize everything he's offering is mere opinion. And to that end, Tiger does look good this week.

Maybe this will be the week he gets in the hunt on Sunday. Maybe he finishes T4. I can't see him winning...but maybe he does.

And I was wrong, by the way. I thought the golf course would play too difficult for him. I didn't see Tiger making the 36-hole cut. Not only did he make it, he's in contention heading into the weekend.

Yes, his golf swing looks better these days.

Yes, he looks like he's physically capable of competing again.

But more than anything else, what's impressed me the most about Tiger in the three events that he's played is that he has been a grinder. His short game and putting saved him at Torrey Pines. Despite missing the cut at Riveria, he hung in there with two respectable rounds and again showed some grit for 27 holes until his putter finally gave way on the back nine last Friday.

And then this week at the Honda, Tiger again scratched and clawed (no pun intended) to two good rounds on a course that played supremely difficult for the first two days. He's still not hitting an abundance of greens, but his chipping and putting have been stellar.

The word "grind" is a popular one in golf. It, by design, serves as a tool-of-praise for someone who didn't have their best stuff that day but still figured out a way to get in the hole in a timely fashion and turn a ho-hum round of 75 into a better round of 71.

It's cool to be a "grinder" in golf. Some guys aren't cut out for it. Some guys don't know how to do it.

When Woods was beating everyone's brains in with one arm tied behind his back, circa 2002, he didn't have to do a whole lot of "grinding".

These last few weeks, he's been a grinder. It's actually a good look for him, truth be told. It shows, to me, anyway, that he understands his game isn't what it once was.

It shows he realizes he'll have to learn some new tricks.

It shows, as I wrote here last week, that he's willing to embrace the challenge of reinventing himself and his game and that he's not going to just walk away from it and say, "I had my day in the sun..."

I'm not as hopped up about Tiger's first two days as Chamblee, granted, but it's good to see Tiger getting something out of his golf game again.

He's showing us that maybe -- maybe -- there's a special moment or two still ahead for him.

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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 close out regular season today

About a month ago, in Ann Arbor Michigan, the Maryland basketball team suffered a last second loss to the Michigan Wolverines in a game that left fans wondering why coach Mark Turgeon elected to not guard the inbound passer on a last second throw in.

Maryland has a chance for atonement today when Michal Cekovsky, Jared Nickens, and transfer Sean Obi finish their regular season careers at College Park with a rematch against Michigan. Not only is it “Senior Day” at the XFINITY Center, but it might also be “redemption day”.

Terp hoop followers can easily recall the final seconds of the last meeting between these two teams when Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman broke free to receive a nicely thrown half court pass from an un-guarded passer and was fouled while driving to the basket.

They remember the two foul shots that secured the win for Michigan but they may not recall several key components of that game which make me believe the Terp faithful will be rewarded with a victory in today’s game that starts at noon.

Some might not recall that Bruno Fernando was only available for limited minutes that night. He was still feeling the effects of an illness and wasn’t a part of the starting line-up. The vital Terp big man scored just 5 points in 18 minutes of action.

Can Maryland get another 24-points from Anthony Cowan against Michigan today? If so, that bodes well for the Terps.

Bruno will be at full strength today.

It’s also easy to forget that Dion Wiley wasn’t available at all that night due to being in concussion protocol. His absence required Nickens to log 30 minutes of court time in a game where he hit just 1 of his 5 three-point shots.

Wiley played with a bit more energy his last time on the court and, he too, will be at full strength today.

With all the focus on the final sequence back on January 15, it’s easy to forget that Maryland had several 14-point leads in that contest and that Michigan had to hit seven consecutive three-point shots just to hang with a depleted Terp team playing its second straight road game.

These forgotten adversities won’t be an obstacle for the Terps today and this bodes well for Maryland’s chances to gain their first 2017-2018 win over a ranked team.

I expect a spirited home crowd to show their appreciation today for seniors Obi, Nickens, and, especially Cekovsky. They’ll keep the energy up, helping Maryland play hard despite the game having no significance in their Big Ten tournament seeding. (Maryland is locked into the 9th seed and a date with Wisconsin on Thursday at noon).

With a win today, Michigan still has an outside chance of gaining a double-bye, but they need help by way of a Nebraska home loss against Penn State on Sunday.

With Wiley and Fernando back into the starting lineup, the individual matchups now favor Maryland in both the front and backcourt. In the front court, Fernando and Moe Wagner will be fun to watch and I have a hunch that the Michigan center may run into foul trouble today.

The Terps beat Michigan on the boards by six (36-30) the last time out, and this time I look for an even bigger advantage.

I expect Anthony Cowan, who had 4 second half turnovers in that one-point Terp loss, and Darryl Morsell to win the backcourt battle against Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.

For Maryland to win this game they must defend the three-point shot upon which the Michigan offense so heavily relies. The Wolverines have attempted over 160 more three-point tries than Maryland. 37% of the Michigan scoring comes from the three-point line compared to just 30% for Maryland.

The Terps absolutely must close out on the three-point shooters and deny them that shot. The same philosophy applies double for Michigan’s 6’11” center Moe Wagner.

Wagner hits 40% of his deep balls and they always seem to come at a bad time for his defender. In the last game between these teams, I watched Ceko tip-toe his way out to Wagner while offering only token defense against the three. That close-out needs to be hard and fast.

Yes, Wagner is really good at putting the ball on the floor, but that’s a chance you have to take. Close out, deny the three. The same goes for Duncan Robinson and Isaiah Livers. Although those two are less likely to hurt you off of the bounce.

I’m not sure how Michigan coach John Beilein intends to guard Cowan and Kevin Huerter. Cowan had 24 points in the last game and Huerter added 10 in the second half alone.

This could be a tough spot for Michigan who is playing a semi-meaningless game against a team that has nothing to lose on their senior day. Add into the mix the tough loss that the Terps endured earlier this year, and this has all the makings of a Maryland win against the 17th ranked Michigan Wolverines.

The line opened as a “pick” and I’m picking Maryland in a game that features a bunch of scoring. The Terps will take down the Wolverines, 81-75, and enter the Big Ten Tournament on a high note.

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February 23
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issue 23
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fact and opinion would rather stay in school than go to the browns

FACT -- The Wizards beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland last night, 110-103. Washington is now 34-24 on the year.

OPINION -- Since John Wall went on the disabled list (knee surgery), the Wizards are 8-2. Some who follow the team closely say there's a connection there. Others -- including Wall -- bristle at the notion that the Wizards could possibly be "better" with their best player on the sidelines. Hmmm. Didn't Denny Green say, "You are what your record says you are"?? Maybe the Wizards somehow are better without Wall.

FACT -- The baseball free agent class of 2019 is extraordinarily talented, led, of course by the likes of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. There's also a certain left-handed pitcher with the Dodgers who will be a free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

OPINION -- One Orioles fan must have been hitting the sauce a little early on Thursday. A caller into a local radio show yesterday had this to say about the free agent class: "Call me crazy, but maybe the Orioles' plan all along is to let Machado walk so they can sign Clayton Kershaw in the off-season." Just an opinion here, fella, but I don't see the O's coughing up $300 million for a pitcher. Or a centerfielder. Or a shortstop.

FACT -- In Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, he has the Browns taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the first pick in April.

OPINION -- Allen made a cardinal mistake recently. He went to his knees (no, not to pray that the Browns don't choose him) and threw a football from the 50-yard line that clanged off the crossbar of the goalpost. Impressive? You bet. No one reading this could likely throw the ball from the 50 and hit the crossbar standing up, let alone while on both knees. But all that feat did was impress the Browns even more. Oh, and do you remember another college QB who did the same trick about 15 years ago or so? His name was........Kyle Boller.

FACT -- The USA women's ice hockey team won the gold medal on Thursday with a dramatic 3-2 shootout win over Canada. It ended a run of four straight Olympic gold medals for Canada in women's ice hockey.

OPINION -- I love that the U.S. won a gold medal in women's hockey. Understand that from the start. But the IOC has to come up with a better solution than using a shootout to determine the gold medal game. It's a farce, really. Those girls trained, practiced and played for the better part of three years and the final game, the one they'd been striving to win, was decided on a gimmick. The solutions are easy and obvious: Play a ten minute overtime at 5-on-5. After ten minutes (if there's no goal yet), play the next ten at 4-on-4. If there's still no goal, play the next ten at 3-on-3. Let "hockey" decide the winner.

Jocelyn Larocque wouldn't wear her silver medal during the ceremony on Thursday. She later said she regretted the moment. She probably regretted losing even more.

FACT -- Alex Noren and Webb Simpson fired impressive opening round scores of 66 (4-under) on Thursday to lead the Honda Classic. Winds whipped at 15-20 miles per-hour throughout the day. Only 35 of 144 players shot par or better. Even with a double-bogey on his card, Tiger Woods managed to be among those 35 with an even par round of 70.

OPINION -- I said this a few weeks back and I'll say it again. Alex Noren is going to win a significant PGA Tour event this year. He is a seriously legit player. You'd be well served to start trying to figure out how to get him on your fantasy roster for the Masters in April. And don't be at all surprised if he wins this week down in South Florida.

FACT -- Drexel beat Delaware last night in CAA men's basketball, 85-83. Ho hum, you say? Well, consider this: Delaware led at one point in the first half (IN THE FIRST HALF), 53-19. For those of you who are Flyers fans, have no fear, I'll do the math for you. That's a 34-point lead for Delaware. They were up by 34. And lost.

OPINION -- OK, so the obvious question everyone has is this: "How on earth do you squander a 34-point lead?". Right? Of course. But here's the other question. How on earth do you fall behind by 34 points to start with? I mean, it's great that Drexel came back to win and all -- it's the largest comeback in Division 1 men's basketball history -- but how did Drexel let Delaware take a 53-19 lead -- on Drexel's home court, at that? Weird...

FACT -- The Orioles kick off their spring training schedule today with a game against the Rays.

OPINION -- It's a shame they don't let teams keep their spring training wins and add them to their regular season total. The Orioles might actually win 81 games this season if that were the case (predicted spring training record for the O's: 12-17).

FACT -- Speaking of the U.S. women's hockey final, a member of the Canadian team promptly took the silver medal off of her neck in the ceremony that followed the 3-2 gold medal loss for Canada. This caused a bit of a stir from folks who thought the young lady -- Jocelyne Larocque -- was disrespectful to the "spirit" of the Olympics.

OPINION -- I'll take that young lady on my team any day. Too many kids these days are satisfied with second place. Or third place. Or fourth. She wasn't. Anyone have her number? She can play for my team.

FACT -- The visiting Capitals fell to the Florida Panthers last night, 3-2, as Washington surrendered two goals in the final four minutes -- including the game-winner with 18 seconds left. To make matters worse, the worst franchise in all of sports won again, which means the Caps now have 75 points and the Flyers have 74. The Penguins also have 74 points in the Metropolitan Division.

OPINION -- Much has been made of the Caps' various playoff failures over the years. Some of them -- not all, but some -- could be traced back to a general lack of playoff grit, or heart, if you will. I'm starting to see the same thing in this year's team, frankly. Last night -- and last week in Winnipeg, too -- was an example of just not being tough enough when the game really mattered. The game-tying goal was garbage and so, too, was the game-decider. Caps defensemen are slow. They lose a lot of the "little battles". And they're not showing much grit at this point.

FACT -- Towson University men's basketball fell last night at Northeastern, 80-75. The Tigers are now 8-9 in the CAA with one regular season game remaining.

OPINION -- I thought the Tigers would be MUCH better than this. Their lack of rebounding has been an issue throughout the season, although they did outrebound Northeastern, 38-35. Former Calvert Hall star Justin Gorham had his best collegiate game ever last night in Boston, scoring 28 points in the loss. I really thought Towson might challenge for the CAA title this year. Alas, I'm not seeing that as much of a possibility now.

FACT -- The Miami Dolphins placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry earlier this week, which means he won't become a free agent as some teams (including the Ravens) had hoped.

OPINION -- Assuming Landry isn't available via trade, the Ravens now have to zero in on a wide receiver in the first round of the draft. They just do. Even if they have to trade up to get the guy they really want, they have to bring in an ass-kicking pass catcher in the draft. Don't go get the equivalent of Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, in other words. Bring in a real talent.

FACT -- I saw lots of the "gun discussion" coverage yesterday during my various Thursday morning/afternoon stops. I applaud the teen agers from Floriday, and elsewhere, who had the conviction to get up and ask questions of politicians.

OPINION -- I heard those kids question the NRA. I heard them say the President is to blame. I heard them say the United States Constitution is outdated. I heard them say a lot of things that seemed reasonable and well thought-out. Then, I go to Twitter and I see teen agers posting videos of themselves and their friends eating laundry detergent. And it reminds me that they're just kids. It's up to the adults to figure out how to improve the overall safety of the citizens of our country.

FACT Back in the old radio days, I used to do a segment called "Cheap Shots from the Bleachers". It was one of my favorite parts of the week because it gave me license to get agitated.

OPINION Rick Pitino is no longer the head basketball coach at Louisville because the NCAA caught him cheating. Wait, that's a fact. Anyway, Rick Pitino is no longer a coach in the NCAA because he deserved to be fired. If you want to hear more about Pitino, check out my "Cheap Shot From the Bleachers" in today's edition of "The Juice".

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

Following a week off from league play and with the final eight of the FA Cup now set, we can once again turn our attention back to the league when Matchday 28 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning. A quick programming note as you settle in for the weekend: Arsenal and Manchester City were supposed to meet on Sunday and will still do so but in the final of the Carabao Cup instead of in the league, with their league fixture rescheduled for next Thursday.

You can watch to see who lifts the first silverware of the year live on the various ESPN broadcast platforms and the rest of the league action, as usual, across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, February 24 (all times eastern)

10 am - Huddersfield Town @ West Bromwich Albion – The Hawthorns, NBC Live Extra

With the clearest display yet that they are determined to ensure their maiden season in the top flight will not be the last, Huddersfield Town snapped their five game losing streak and climbed out of the bottom three when they smashed four past Bournemouth to roll to a 4-1 victory. Now firmly entrenched within the seven teams trying to fight off relegation and who are separated by only three points, they will travel to The Hawthorns for a meeting with the lowly West Brom, who had several chances to put their mark on the game but were unable to take advantage as they fell to Chelsea 3-0.

The setback pretty much summed up what is turning in to a disastrous campaign for West Brom, as they remained in the table cellar and dropped seven points back from safety with just eleven games left to turn it around. They are still within relative sight of the seven team logjam just above them in the table which should give them the faintest hope of saving their season, although to do so they will need a result and likely all three points against the Terriers at home, where they have managed only two wins from thirteen so far this season (L4 D7), or they are sure to be playing in the second tier next season.

Sunday, February 25 (all times eastern)

7 am - Tottenham @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC Sports Network

Despite leaving more than their fair share of chances on the table and then dodging a few close calls near full time, Harry Kane’s header minutes in to the second half was just enough to give Tottenham bragging rights over Arsenal in the North London Derby. The win was made all the more sweeter as it also ended any hope of the Gunner’s grabbing one of the three remaining spots in the top four as they will miss out on Champions League football for the second year in a row. Spurs will remain in London again this weekend with an early Sunday morning trip to face Crystal Park at Selhurst Park.

After finding their form following a dismal opening month of the campaign and the appointment of Roy Hodgson back in September, Palace have fallen off as of late and were runover by Everton 3-1 their last time out to join the seven-team logjam fighting against relegation. They must now contend with the visit from Spurs, who have dropped only one of their last nine meetings with the Eagles and only two of their nine all-time top flight visits to Selhurst Park (W5 D1), before matchups over the next two weeks with Manchester United and Chelsea in a stretch that could determine if they will in fact avoid the drop.

9:05am – Chelsea @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

After earning some much needed breathing room in the second spot the week before with their win over Huddersfield Town, Manchester United gave it right back when they fell to relegation candidates Newcastle United in the surprise of the weekend 1-0. The win not only gave the Magpies a major boost to their survival hopes but also left second place United only two points ahead of Liverpool and just three above Chelsea, whom they will entertain at Old Trafford in a top four tussle as the Blues make the first of two trips to the city of Manchester in consecutive weeks.

While the relegation fight at the bottom of the table rages on, a similar fight is brewing near the top where four teams are separated by just four points and duking it out for the three remaining Champions League places. Chelsea took all three points in a relatively tame reverse fixture earlier this season and have dropped only one of their last fourteen meetings with United across all competitions (W8 D5), but to close the gap on the Red Devils and cement a place in the top four they will need to turn around their recent fortunes at Old Trafford, where they have only one win in their last nine trips (L4 D4).

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so, you think you know baltimore sports?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

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February 22
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issue 22
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well, since you asked

"Hey Drew, did you see that goofy idea some baseball exec mentioned on a radio show yesterday? They're thinking about creating a new rule that allows for a manager to bat anyone he wants in the bottom of the ninth inning if his team is trailing. Stupid, right?"

It's not stupid at all.

In fact, I love it.

It would never happen, of course. Never.

But it's a great idea.

What other sport, besides baseball, doesn't allow you to have your best players on the field (court, ice, etc.) with two minutes left when you're trailing? Mike Trout is the best player in the game. He makes $35 million a year. But he can't bat in the 9th inning until his "turn" comes up.

Now, the idea needs some clarification. Can the manager bat anyone he wants in the 9th inning -- as many times as he wants -- if he's trailing? In other words, could Buck Showalter go Machado-Schoop-Mancini and then, Machado, Davis, Schoop? Or can you bat your guys in any order in the 9th, but they can only bat one time until everyone else (in the lineup) has come to the plate at least once in the inning?

It's not a dumb idea at all. But it would change baseball statistics forever. Some guys might get 6 or 7 plate appearances per-game.

It won't ever happen, unfortunately. But it's a much better concept than people realize.

"Drew, I was filling out my fantasy golf lineup for this week and decided to put Tiger into one of my teams at the Honda Classic. It's a home game for him, after all. Good move or bad move?"

Bad move.

Unless you like having five of six players on your team make the cut, that is.

I do think there's something to be said for Tiger sleeping in his own bed, hanging out at his own restaurant, and making the 15-minute drive to the golf course every day.

If you're a fantasy golf player, you have to put Rickie Fowler in your lineup(s) this week at the Honda Classic. He's a "must play" guy.

But that place is hard. Really hard. And the way he's been driving the ball, I just don't see him sniffing the cut this week. If he drives it well, that's a different story.

There's nothing that tells me he's ready to do that, though. He apparently only hit five drivers in the Pro-Am on Wednesday at PGA National. In other words, he's still struggling with the big stick.

I played four teams in Draft Kings and didn't even come close to considering him. I have Fowler on a couple of my teams (it's always good to go with the defending champion at a place; as Bubba showed last week, the TOUR really is about "horses for courses") as well as Kevin Kisner and Scott Stallings.

I also like Tyrell Hatton this week. He's going to win something "big" this year on the PGA Tour.

And I wouldn't be surprised to see Padraig Harrington play well down there at the Honda.

Officially, I'll say Tiger shoots 75-73 and misses the cut by two shots.

"Hi Drew, Any thoughts on the Warriors-President Trump flap that is front page news again now that Golden State's trip to D.C. to take on the Wizards (next Wednesday, Feb. 28) is on the horizon?"

Sure. Plenty of thoughts.

Both parties threw up on themselves in this one.

The President shouldn't have ever "disinvited" the team. That was bush league.

I understand he got his feathers ruffled when a couple of players said they didn't want to go the White House, but cutting off the visit to the team as a whole was a bad move. It was, honestly, very "un-Presidential", to borrow a term we've heard a lot over the last years.

It would take tremendous courage for President Trump to do this, but he should "re-invite" the team or, at the very least, ask them to meet him somewhere else in D.C. -- at a charity function or something of that ilk -- to show a gesture of good faith.

The President should be on the front lines these days, telling us all to get along and then going out of his way to show us how to all get along.

That said, and I think David Rosenfeld brought this up recently and made a very good point. This whole "we're not going to the White House" thing has also been overblown. It's a little bit like in the old days when the Super Bowl MVP went to Disney World the day after his team won the big game in January (or February).

You might not actually want to get on a plane at o-dark-thirty the day after the Super Bowl and fly to Florida for what basically amounts to a glorified photo session, but you do it because it symbolizes that you did something very special.

Most players -- back then -- looked at it and said, "If you told me in September I'd win the MVP award of the Super Bowl and the only pain-in-the-butt about the whole thing would be a quick trip to Disney World the day after the game...I'd sign off on that."

Professional athletes have completely forgotten just how hard it is to win a championship. Maybe, for Golden State, its become old hat, so to speak.

Meeting the President of the United States used to be special. As was winning a championship.

Apparently, these days, neither are quite as important or fulfilling as they used to be.

Drew, did you see where the NBA is talking about a significant change to the playoff structure? They would just seed the teams 1-through-16 based on their regular season records and there would no longer be an Eastern Conference or Western Conference playoff format.

I like it.

LeBron James apparently doesn't like it. But I do.

Aren't the playoffs supposed to identify the best team in the league when all the games have been played?

If Golden State and Houston are the two best teams this season, shouldn't they -- by scheduling and format configuation -- get the chance to play one another for the title if they win their respective earlier playoff series'?

I don't understand what's wrong with the idea.

Seed the teams 1-through-16 and let 'em go.

Sure, it potentially changes the "history" of the game, as LeBron said on Wednesday when he was asked about it.

But times change. Ideas improve.

This is a good idea, in my mind.

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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.

Sitting at his locker last Sunday morning in Sarasota, Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said what any veteran player in his position should say, in a way that only he would say it.

“I’ve got a bunch of friends with rings and I ain’t got no ring,” he said. “So I want to play for something.”

Adam Jones is an honest guy. We’ve loved him for being a great Oriole on the field and a good teammate off it; I’ve liked him even more for his authenticity, even when he might have been better off being a little less direct.

Unfortunately, that’s a huge dilemma.

Because if there’s one thing the Baltimore Orioles don’t do, it’s chase rings.

You can debate why the Orioles won’t chase a ring. Start with “A” for Angelos and end with “Z” for Zach (Britton), whose injury leaves the Birds in a bit of a lurch this season, and there’s probably something for every letter in between.

It’s not that the team isn’t trying to win. It’s not that the current core of the team hasn’t experienced winning. It’s not that the front office and coaching staff haven’t showed a winning attitude. “I like our guys!” somebody said a few times.

One of the best Orioles of all-time, Adam Jones lamented his lack of a championship ring during a recent interview at spring training.

But there’s a difference between that and the extra effort behind really going for it, isn’t there?

If the Orioles were looking for a ring, they would have gotten Yu Darvish, not Andrew Cashner. They’d honestly be in the running for Jake Arrieta, even with the way he left the team and the things he later said about his experience.

They would be the team that would find a way to make a nice splash in free agency or a big move on the trade market, even if it’s not quite as large as some other teams could.

Or, conversely, they’d be the next Houston Astros, selling assets to chase a ring a few years down the road. Maybe, unless you’re the Yankees or Dodgers or Red Sox, that’s the only way to really do it. That just isn’t the Baltimore Orioles, though.

In his 11th year with the only team he’s ever really played for in the Major Leagues, Adam Jones is, for the first time, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And he knows it.

He’s a professional, so he’ll play hard no matter what’s in his head. And he’s a realist; at his age, he knows he won’t be getting what he got back in the summer of 2012. But he also knows that the nucleus the team was building back then isn’t working anymore. From the standpoint of “the ring,” it never worked.

Matt Wieters is gone. Nick Markakis is gone. J.J. Hardy is gone. Manny Machado is, let’s be honest, already gone. The best free agent the team signed during Jones’s current contract, Nelson Cruz, stayed only one year.

Signing Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo were honest mistakes, but still likely to be mistakes.

Even the under-the-radar pitchers who went away, like Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, haven’t been replaced by better players. Chris Tillman, long ago traded with Jones, quickly went from a future ace to a guy nobody really wanted.

The Orioles might somehow manage a winning record in 2018. Or they might play to the PECOTA projection of 69 wins.

But either way, it’s over. This isn’t the last year of the team’s window like we thought it would be. The window already closed, in part because the team isn’t willing to chase a ring in the way that a guy like Adam Jones wants.

In 2012, when he signed his big six-year contract, Jones said all the right things, and he meant them. “If we win here, this is my championship. This is our championship. I’m not part of someone else’s championship. That makes me even hungrier to win. As a competitor, that’s ultimately when I want. We can beat the odds here.”

Beginning with that magical 2012 season, the Orioles did beat the odds. If the team had won a title, or even reached a World Series, there’s no doubt it would have been Adam Jones’s championship, no matter how many times he swung at balls in the dirt on the way.

Is there any doubt, besides Buck Showalter, who would have been at the head of the championship parade down Pratt Street? I think Jones might have given some of the Philadelphia Eagles a run for their money as far as speeches go.

Unfortunately, the only way the Orioles can win with Jones now is to bring in some people from the outside who want to be part of his championship. If that were a real possibility, I’m sure he’d be willing to amend his youthful statement from 2012.

Adam Jones now ranks eighth all-time in games played for the Orioles. He has more hits than any other player in team history not named Cal, Brooks or Eddie, and more home runs besides those three and Boog Powell. He’ll take his place one day among them in the team’s Hall of Fame.

Yet there’s been no movement by the team, even in the most cursory of ways, on an offer to keep Jones around until he’s old and gray like Cal and Brooks. Selfishly, I’d be fine with having him around. Even at 36, he’d be running as hard as he could to first base, albeit not as fast as he once did. He might even become a (slightly?) more patient hitter as his skills diminish a bit.

If the team honestly did go with a legitimate youth movement, he’d be a good guy to have around.

For his sake, though, I hope the Orioles don’t even consider offering Jones a contract. They’d really be doing him a big favor.

Adam Jones has very much been a model of consistency for the Orioles, in good ways and bad ones. Barring serious injury, I doubt that this season, his “contract year,” will be much better or worse than his past few years. At 32 years old when this season begins, he’s still in the prime of a baseball player’s career.

The Orioles organization, however, is equally as consistent. Most of the time, the team is just trying to find a way. From 2012 through 2016, they did it well. And because of that, at least under the current ownership, they probably think they can do it again.

I’m guessing that Adam Jones has had enough of that, and I can’t blame him.

He wants a ring. He and the rest of his Orioles teammates have had their chances, especially in 2014, and they didn’t get one.

And now, with the Yankees and Red Sox back to chasing rings, Adam Jones knows that his team’s strategy, if there is one, isn’t going to work.

KELLY banner ad

so, you think you know baltimore sports?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

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February 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxiii
issue 21
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an ode to a friend

Heaven's country club just got a new member. They better have soft butter up there or Dr. Dave Bimestefer is going to have a word with someone.

I learned yesterday of the recent passing of Dr. Bimestefer, who turned 80 years old last May and spent nearly four decades as an orthodontist in the Baltimore area.

He was a longtime member at Baltimore Country Club and was an oustanding amateur player dating back to the 50's, 60's and 70's. If you're ever at BCC and you walk up the steps leading to the second floor men's locker room, you'll see his name all over the boards that list former club champions: J.D. Bimestefer.

His full name was John David Bimestefer, but everyone knew him as Dave or Doctor Dave.

I met him in 2003. My wife came home from work one day and said, "I have someone who wants to meet you." She went on to explain that her orthodontist was a golfer and that when she told him her husband also played, he suggested they meet up for lunch and golf one day at BCC.

"Do you guys just do that?" she asked. "You'll go meet someone you don't even know? And play golf?"

I went to great lengths to explain to her that, yes, "We'll just do that" and that one of the great things about the game of golf is it has a weird way of connecting people who might otherwise not have any previous bond at all.

The clubhouse at Baltimore Country Club, where Dr. Dave Bimestefer was a proud member for over 50 years.

And with that, I followed her lead and met Dr. Bimestefer at BCC on a sunny May afternoon. We had lunch and headed out to the course, although Dave's health was somewhat shaky at the time and he mostly hit tee balls, imparted wisdom, and gave me a 3-hour lesson on how to putt the greens at Five Farms.

We were on the 16th fairway on the East Course when he offered one of his "Dr. Dave gems" as I called them. "People always ask me how to shoot par and I tell them it's easy: Just don't hit two bad shots in a row," he said.

He was a huge believer in that philosophy. When Tiger Woods was having his decade-long period of dominance on the PGA Tour, Dave would often call me after one of his major championship wins and say, "Did you watch the golf over the weekend? How many times did you see Tiger hit two bad shots in a row?"

Dave wasn't really a Tiger fan. But he marveled at his golf game. And he would constantly remind me that Woods rarely, if ever, hit two bad shots in a row.

"Everyone thought Hogan had 'the secret'", Dr. Bimestefer said to me over an iced tea one day. "He didn't know any more about the golf swing than other guys out there. He just outworked them. And he never wanted to tell people that was why he beat their brains in because he was afraid they'd believe it and start outworking him."

Dr. Dave loved Ben Hogan. He once said to me while we were playing a casual round at Bethesda Country Club, "You remind me of Hogan."

I thought that was a great compliment. That is, until he delivered the punch line. "You both would have been better off if putting only counted for a half-a-stroke instead of a full stroke."

He also delivered one of the all-time great lines about Duke University. Dr. Bimestefer was a Duke graduate, and a proud one at that.

We were watching a Duke basketball game -- I think it was in the NCAA tournament -- and I took the opportunity to needle him a bit about his alma mater.

"Oh, Lord, we're not watching these creeps, are we?" I asked.

He smiled, emptied some sugar into his iced tea and started stirring.

Twenty seconds later, he said, "Do you know why you don't like Duke?"

I was confused. "I don't understand", I replied.

"Do you know why you don't you like Duke?" he repeated it, emphasizing the word you.

Before I could answer, he told me.

"Because you didn't go there..."

I think that memory goes back to 2007 or so. But I still remember it. It was a great line. And in simple logic, it can be attached to nearly everything we do in life.

Anytime I hear someone poo-poo or criticize golf, I think of Doctor Dave's line and always consider saying to that person. "Do you know why you don't like golf?"

"Because you don't play it..."

The root of that whole thing being, of course, that if you went to Duke, you'd like it. And if you didn't go, you're predisposed to not liking it.

He was right.

We were playing once at Bulle Rock and I hit the par-5 15th hole in two shots and had maybe 10 feet for eagle.

I nursed the first putt just past the hole but it rolled out about four feet by and I missed the comeback putt for birdie, making par on the hole.

The 30-second cart ride to the 16th tee was silent as I stewed over hitting two shots 520 yards and then needing three more shots from three yards to get the ball in the cup.

As we walked to the 16th tee, Dave said, "That's happened to me before, you know."

I mumbled something and reached for a tee in my pocket.

"When I used to hit a par-5 in two shots," the good Doctor said, "and then three putted for a par, I'd always remind myself that it took less energy to do that than topping my tee shot, half-shanking my second to 200 yards out, hitting my third in the front bunker, blading that one out to the back of the green, and then chipping in for five."

"Same score that you made...but you used a lot less energy in making your five," he said. When I looked up, he was smiling. I laughed. He made his point. Golf's a crazy game.

Dr. Dave was one of a kind.

We were playing once at DuPont Country Club up in Delaware and my ball stopped in a divot somewhere on a back nine fairway.

As we both looked at my ball, only half visible, Dave said, "I'll turn my back if you want and you can pee on it and call it casual water and take a drop..."

I was struggling on the back nine once at Mountain Branch with Dave and my great friend Ernie Kosmas and the two of them were taking delight in my woes, as golfing friends like to do.

"You need a break," Dave said. "You're playing a lot of golf..."

I hit a bad tee ball on the 15th hole and followed that up with another bad shot in the fairway. Dave and Ernie could hardly hide their joy at seeing my struggles.

"You want some advice from the Doctor?" Bimestefer asked. "Take two weeks off...

I knew a punch line was coming. Or suspected so, at least.

"And then take up tennis."

He and Ernie giggled about that one for the next ten minutes.

Dr. Bimestefer loved golf.

And he loved Baltimore Country Club.

And Duke University.

And, as I learned, soft butter.

Once during lunch at BCC, he got agitated when the server brought out cold, "hard" butter.

"This place is great," he said. "It's one of the best clubs in the country, and I've been to just about every one of them. But I can't figure out why they think serving frozen butter is a good thing. It's butter. It's supposed to spread. You can't spread this if it's frozen."

He was right.

I never really thought of it that way, but he was friggin' right. Butter should be soft.

Thanks for the lessons, Dave. All of them. Even the one about butter.

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are the caps on the verge of a meltdown?

Don't look now, but the Washington Capitals are in a dogfight.

They usually save their collapsing for mid to late April, but this year, it looks like they might be starting early.

The Caps fell at home to Tampa Bay last night (who are VERY good, by the way), 4-2, giving up three first period goals and losing for the third time in five games dating back to last Tuesday's loss in Winnipeg when they squandered a late lead and went on to lose in overtime to the Jets.

Something doesn't look right down in D.C.

Forget that the standings don't look good. Washington has 75 points, Pittsburgh now has 74 and the worst-franchise-in-the-history-of-sports has 72 points now.

The Caps don't look good, either.

Braden Holtby gave up three first period goals last night in the Caps' 4-2 loss, marking the second straight game he's allowed three opening period tallies.

At the forefront of their recent struggles is goaltender Braden Holtby, who was awful in Chicago last Saturday night, giving up six goals in two periods before being mercifully yanked by head coach Barry Trotz.

Holtby got the start last night (after sitting out the game in Buffalo on Monday, a 3-2 win) and promptly gave up three goals in the first period. Trotz stuck with him for the remainder of the night, though, and Holtby only surrendered one more tally in the 4-2 defeat.

Something's not right, though. Holtby's struggling. Not just this week. Or last week. This season, really. Philipp Grubauer is a competent back-up netminder, but Trotz might be forced to start splitting the playing time on more an alternating basis if Holtby doesn't get his act together soon.

Oddly enough, the Caps are getting a remarkable season from Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 36th goal of the season last night and is now just six tallies shy of 600 for his career.

Ovechkin's doing his part. More than his part, actually. But the supporting troops aren't helping out much.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky have both been disappointing.

T.J. Oshie has battled injuries and a fat, new contract that might be burdening him more than anyone knows.

And the Washington defense is slow, doesn't take the body very well, and doesn't give Holtby or Grubauer the support they need and deserve for sixty minutes night after night.

The playoffs are always a bit of an automatic thing for the Caps. Meaning, they always make it. And always lose early.

Right now, they're ten points clear of Columbus (65 points), who own the 8th and final spot in the wild card standings of the Eastern Conference. They're going to make it (right?), but once the post-season rolls around, it's hard to envision Ovechkin and Company hanging around for long.

This doesn't come as any great surprise, of course. Any fan of the Washington Capitals has to be prepared for April or May heartbreak.

As long as the Flyers don't do anything in the post-season, I can balance out any meltdown the Caps have.

Then again, there's always the possibility that those two might meet in the post-season and......well.....I can't even think about it. Let's get to this bridge when, or if, we cross it.

KELLY banner ad

so, you think you know baltimore sports?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

Eagles Nest banner

February 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxiii
issue 20
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

those old days were a blast

For some weird reason, lately I’ve been watching a lot of old Baltimore Blast highlights on YouTube .

I’m not sure why. I’ve been to a bunch of Blast games at SECU Arena this season, so perhaps that’s part of it.

I had coffee with Mike Stankovic a few weeks back and we shared a bunch of “old stories”.

I see Scott Manning a lot at Eagle’s Nest, where we’re both members.

Maybe all of those things have triggered something that’s had me going back in time and remembering my days working for the Blast, especially the early years.

I went to the Blast’s home opener on November 29, 1980 vs. the Philadelphia Fever at the Civic Center.

One year later, I was making $10,300 a year as the team’s Public Relations Assistant, code word for “Drew, go across the street and get lunch for everyone…”

But to borrow a famous line from a TV sitcom’s theme song – “Those were the days”.

At one point in the early 1980’s, we sold out the Civic Center 56 straight games.

Despite losing the '82-83 Championship Series to San Diego, the five-game series set indoor soccer TV ratings records on USA Network and paved the way for the Blast to pack the Civic Center for years to come.

And when I say “sell out”, I’m talking every single seat. Filled. 11,516 people in the building. 56 straight games.

I sometimes stop and marvel at that feat, even today. That old building, in downtown Baltimore, in the dead of winter. We sold it out 56 straight times, over parts of three seasons.

Back in those days, Blast employees got two complimentary tickets to each home game. Those were like gold. My friends from Glen Burnie were lining up to be on the receiving end of a ticket or two.

I remember Paul Kitson coming to the office on the 3rd floor of the arena a couple of hours before a Friday night home game.

He closed the door to my office. Anguish was all over his face.

”I need a huge favor,” Paul said. He was always one of my favorites. I was crushed when he passed away a decade or so ago.

”I invited some family down from New Jersey for the game tonight and no one in the locker room has any extra tickets,” Paul said. He was notorious for needing extra tickets, by the way.

”How many do you need?” I asked.

For some reason, Paul whispered his answer. Even though he was in my office with the door closed, I guess he didn’t want to risk being overheard. “I need five,” he said in a hushed tone.

I didn’t have any tickets. Not one. Not two. And especially not five.

”Paul, I don’t have anything. I’m sorry,” I replied.

”How about press passes? Can you just write them five press passes so they can get in the building?” he asked.

It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but this was probably a trick Kitson had used before, during his early playing days in New York with the Arrows.

I caved in.

I quickly took out five single-game media credentials and pushed them in his direction. I handed him a pen. I guess I figured if he actually wrote the names on the credentials that it might absolve me from getting fired.

Kitson wrote the names on the credentials and handed them to me.

”I owe you big time for this,” he said.

Later that night, Kitson scored three goals in a win over the Los Angeles Lazers.

A small part of me felt like I made a contribution to that accomplishment by helping Kitson get his family in the building to see him play.

The following season, we were on a west coast trip and had a few days between games in San Diego and Los Angeles. Kitson approached me at breakfast one morning in our team hotel in Marina del Rey.

”You like Earth, Wind and Fire, don’t you?” he asked.

”I love that band!” I replied.

”We’re going to see them tonight,” said Kitson. “I owe you for those passes you gave me last year for my family. I have some tickets to the concert tonight and you’re going with us.”

And that’s how a kid from Glen Burnie got to see Earth Wind and Fire in 1984.

Paul Kitson was a good man.

He also authored one of the all-time great quotes…one that I’ve used a lot in my days being involved in sports.

In the 1984-85 season, the Blast faced off with the Cleveland Force for a third straight year in the post-season. Baltimore won the series in ’82-83 and ’83-84 and the Blast-Force rivalry was among the most heated in the entire MISL at the time.

Known for his "moonwalk" after scoring goals at home, Paul Kitson once scored seven goals in a playoff game vs. Los Angeles in May of 1985.

Cleveland employed a big, rugged, mean kid from the Seattle area named Bernie James. He was one of the best defenders in the league.

He and Kitson clashed several times in Games 1 and 2 in Baltimore, including a spirited scuffle that earned both guys time in the penalty box in the second game of the series.

After the game, James made a comment about Kitson’s long fingernails (and the “masculinity” of such) and the quote was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. When we arrived in Cleveland the next day for Game 3 the following evening, the quote in the newspaper irritated Kitson to no end.

On the morning of the game, we had a light practice session and stretching at the Richfield Coliseum. We arrived at the arena only to see the Force still on the field finishing up their pre-game walk through and practice.

Game 3 was on television and I had to get a handful of players for some quick interviews. I summoned Scott Manning, Heinz Wirtz and Kitson.

When Cleveland’s practice ended, the three players and I headed out to the field where the Force TV crew was waiting for us.

I immediately noticed Bernie James walk in the direction of Kitson.

Trouble was brewing.

Kitson. at 5’8”, was three inches shorter than James and probably 60 pounds lighter. That didn’t matter. He moved closer to the Cleveland defender and the two were now just a few feet apart.

”You better watch your mouth when you talk to the newspapers,” Kitson said, referencing the remark James had made about his fingernails.

James stood his ground and looked directly at Kitson. “I’m going to kick the living s**t out of you tonight,” he warned.

There was silence for a second or two.

For a brief moment, I thought the two might fight right then and there.

And then Kitson authored that memorable line.

”Oh yeah?,” he said. “Well, you better bring a f***ing army with you.”

Cooler heads prevailed and James headed off to the locker room. Later that night, Kitson scored twice as the Blast won to take the series lead, 2-games-to-1.

As I wrote earlier…those were the days.

One of my recent YouTube clips turned up the TV commercial below. This was the 30-second spot we recorded prior to the 1992-93 season when the Blast became the Spirit after the MISL (MSL) folded and the franchise entered a new league, the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL).

The house we destroyed in the commercial was over near Johns Hopkins University. The people were moving out of state and allowed us to use their home for the commercial.

Most of the things you see that got broken were bought at a thrift store in Towson.

The commercial generated a lot of “heat” for us. Some good, some bad. But it did what we wanted it to do. It got people to talk about the start of the season.


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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 Orioles managed to get some work done over the President's Day holiday weekend, and in the week leading up to it as well. After months of waiting out the market in search of starting pitching, Dan Duquette secured deals with both Andrew Cashner and old-faithful Chris Tillman in the past week, solidifying two more spots in the rotation and, maybe, finishing the team's offseason shoping.

Both of those deals have their selling points....and their drawbacks.

Cashner produced a strong back of the card line in 2017, going 11-11 for the Rangers with a 3.40 ERA in 166.2 innings. Baseball Reference valued him at about 4.5 wins above replacement....a very solid season.

Go much further than that, however, and the red flags start flying. Cashner has only cracked the 175 innings pitched mark twice his career, and only started 30 or more games once.

Last year he met neither of those bench marks. Additionally, the split between those top line numbers and his underlying performance is the stuff of a hyebolic hypothetical from 2010.

His FIP (fielding independent pitching), a metric that essentially seeks to predict long term performance in a pitcher by assessing outcomes over which the pitcher has direct control over (walks, strikeouts, home runs), was a much less sterling 4.61. His xFIP (expected FIP) which does the same thing as FIP but controls for variables even further by adjusting his home run to flyball ratio to the leage average, was a downright dissapointing 5.30.

Furthermore, that home run rate was roughly 2 points lower than his career average, in a season where hitters hit a higher share of flyballs out of the park than at any time in MLB history.

If all of that sounds complicated and/or complex, it's really not. Cashner had the league's worst strikeout to walk ratio last season and relied on an abnormally low number of home runs allowed.

Pitchers who do that don't usually have ERAs in the lower 3.00 range, and for Cashner to do that again with the same overall body of work would be highly unusual.

Chris Tillman is back in Baltimore, re-signing with the Birds for the 2018 season on Monday.

Tillman's a known quantity and, understandably, isn't generating a lot of excitement in town.

Simply put: There isn't a single thing to acquit Tillman's 2017 performance. It was historically bad, to the point where it appears that the Orioles were the only team to even offer him a guaranteed big league contract.

But back in 2016, Tillman had one of the best seasons of his career. In fact, despite having a down season in 2015 mixed in, Tillman's numbers from 2012 through 2016 overall are really quite good. The Orioles are banking that a shoulder injury is to blame for his atrocious 2017 campaign, and that he'll be all healed up and much closer to his old self in 2018.

They're also counting on him, and Cashner, being cheap.

Affordability is really the defining connection between these two deals, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Cashner will make at least $16 million and be under team control for two seasons, though that could balloon to include a third year and up to a total of $41 million if Cashner meets all of his incentives. That's a more than reasonable price for a starter with Cashner's profile, and in the even next winter brings a tear down and rebuild approach his contract should be easy to move in a trade if he's healthy.

As for Tillman he's only pitching on a one year deal, one that can pay him anywhere from $3-10 million this season.

The question now is what, if anything, the Orioles have yet to do. Cashner and Tillman aren't pitchers you should be counting on to lead your rotation, but the Orioles don't have to view them as such.

If this team is going to contend for the postseason, it's going to need Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman to fully step into the role of carrying the starters throughout the full season. If those guys falter, this team is going nowhere no matter what else they do with their pitching staff.

If, on the other hand, you view Cashner and Tillman as back of the rotation fodder, however, the moves suddenly look much better. These guys are proven big league commodities, and while there's a lot of risk associated with both (let's not sugarcoat it: They could both easily be absolutely terrible this year) there's plenty of upside here as well. Heck, there aren't many other teams around the league with as much potential upside at the end of their rotation as the Orioles' could potentially have.

I say "potentially" because to make this work out, the Orioles need to actually make Cashner and Tillman their fourth and fifth starters. And that requires finding someone to be their third starter (or better). And that's very much not unthinkable, even after adding two starting pitchers.

The fact that they got such good value on Tillman and Cashner means they still have plenty of money to go after Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn if they're so inclined (they probably aren't).

They've also been reported as having trade talks with the Astros about curveball specialist Colin McHugh, who would also fit the bill. A bit of an odd man out in an increasingly crowded Houston rotation, McHugh might be a bit pricey to pull out of Texas, but he'd be a nice addition.

Despite being injured most of last year, McHugh pitched 184 innings in 2016 and eclipsed 200 innings back in 2015 when the Astros shocked the world by claiming a wild card spot. He owns a career ERA of 4.08 and an FIP of 3.76.

Of course this is probably just a lot of speculation about nothing, and the team probably won't make any more moves on the pitching front.

They're already talking as though they've moved on to prioritizing that must-have left handed hitting outfielder, something they've decided they simply must have this year even though there's already a log jam in the corner outfield spots and signing someone else to start probably just means top prospect Austin Hays getting fewer chances to get at bats...or maybe even being forced down to the minor leagues altogether.

The Orioles are suddenly on the right track in this winter program, but there's very few indications that they're going to stick the landing.

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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.

second half defense leads terps to rare road victory

It was a long time coming, but Maryland finally got the road win that had proved so elusive.

By beating the Northwestern Wildcats 71-64 last night, the Terps managed to sandwich seven straight road losses in between two road wins. If they only could have played all of their road games in the state of Illinois.

They started this season’s Big Ten road campaign with a win over Illinois in Champaign and they ended it by beating the Wildcats in Rosemont, Illinois. The Terps had three double-digit scorers as Kevin Huerter led the way with 18 points while both Dion Wiley and Anthony Cowan had 13.

But Maryland didn’t win the game with offense. It was the defense that brought them back from an 11-point deficit. Ironically, it was that same defense (or lack of it) that caused them to be behind by so much in the first place.

Northwestern led 37-30 at the half and the three-point line was the difference maker.

When watching the opening 20 minutes, it was easy to see why Maryland has one of the worst 3-point defenses in the Big Ten. They allowed Northwestern to hit 8 of 15 three-point attempts, almost all of which were uncontested.

Kevin Huerter's 18 points led the Terps to just their second conference road win of the season last night as the Terps won at Northwestern, 71-64.

I wrote, yesterday, that the blueprint for beating this team was to not let them shoot threes. I guess Turgeon and the Terps didn’t read my article, or didn’t believe it.

Either way, Maryland continually failed to close out on the Wildcat long range shooters and they paid the price. The lone bright spot in the half for Maryland was Michal Cekovsky and his 4 rebounds and 8 points on 4-5 shooting. The Terps hit only 1 of 8 first half three-point attempts.

Maryland scored only 9 points in the last eight minutes of the first half when they became afflicted with the turnover bug, especially traveling violations.

Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan combined for only three shots from the floor. Three of the five Terp starters (Cowan, Darryl Morsell, and Dion Wiley) failed to hit a field goal. The first half was pretty awful if you are a Terp fan.

The second half started with Northwestern going right at Bruno Fernando. The first time they did it, Fernando guarded Dererk Pardon one on one with no help. Fernando picked up a foul and Pardon went to the line where he hit both shots. The second time Northwestern went to Pardon, the Terps doubled down and Northwestern found the open man for another three-point connection.

By the 18:00 minute mark, Fernando was on the bench with his 3rd foul and the Northwestern lead was double digits. Things looked bleak for Turgeon’s troops.

But Maryland then made some effective changes.

They initiated a soft 2-2-1 three-quarter court press. It wasn’t a trapping press where they try to get points off of it, it was a nuisance press designed to take seconds off of the shot clock and disrupt Northwestern’s rhythm.

Once the Wildcats finally got the ball across half court they were met with another challenge, Maryland was covering much tighter and they were getting their hands into the passing lanes. They deflected countless balls, defended the three-point shot, and caused multiple turnovers.

A turnover by Scottie Lindsey followed by a Huerter dunk cut the deficit to 7. After trading baskets, a steal by Morsell and layup by Cowan had it down to 5. Maryland continued to chip away at the lead when a steal by Cowan and subsequent layup by Wiley trimmed it to 1 point.

On the next possession, a steal and layup by Wiley gave the Terps their first lead since the 4:31 mark of the first half. But they weren’t finished with the takeaways. Another steal by Wiley ended with a Huerter 3, and just like that Maryland had built a four-point advantage with 7:27 left in the game.

Wiley knocked down a corner three with 3:40 left to give Maryland their biggest lead at 9 points. They closed the game out by making 6 straight foul shots to secure their 71-64 win.

It was a pretty dramatic defensive transformation for Maryland tonight. After forcing just 4 turnovers in the first half, they pressured Northwestern into 10 in the second half. The Terps converted a bunch of the Wildcat miscues into points and led 20 to 8 in the “points off turnovers” column.

Five of Maryland’s six steals came in the second half, and they got their hands on a half-dozen other balls where Northwestern was able to maintain possession. Fernando was again outplayed by his Wildcat counterpart, Pardon, but his 6 rebounds (team high along with Morsell) enabled the Terps to hold a 31-25 rebounding advantage. The offensive rebounds were even at 8.

For the Terps to win a road game while shooting 29% from the three-point line and committing 13 turnovers is a testament to the defense they played in the second half.

They wanted this game badly and it showed by their willingness to go all out after being behind by 11 points.

For Northwestern, this was their second consecutive second half collapse. They have now been outscored in the second half of their last two games by a combined score of 79-38.

Maryland will wrap up their regular season Big Ten play with a home game against a Michigan team that posted a victory on Sunday against the 8th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes . It will be senior night for Sean Obi, Jaren Nickens, and Michal Cekovsky. Game time is 12 noon.

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February 19
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treatment of buck, dan is most puzzling o's move yet

There was a time back in the winter of 2015 when the Orioles didn't publish any of their ticket information for the upcoming season.

"They're probably waiting to see if they re-sign Chris Davis," we all reasoned. "If they sign him, prices go up. If they don't, maybe they stay as they are."

And that's exactly what happened.

The team inked Davis to a long-term deal in mid-January and a week or so later, the ticket information was distributed and, indeed, ticket prices were increased for the 2016 campaign.

I bring up that circumstance as a reminder that occasionally the fans can see an issue and logically figure out what's going on behind the scenes. Sometimes it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a Glen Burnie High grad to do it, either.

I'm interested to see if you can figure out what's going on with the Orioles and the two people who are largely responsible for the organization's on-field turn around. I can't figure it out. Maybe you can.

I can understand the reluctance to cough up $200 million or more to Manny Machado.

I can understand the reluctance to give Zach Britton $100 million.

I can understand the reluctance to sign one of the available free agent pitchers to a 4-year, $72 million deal.

But I can't understand why the Orioles would leave Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette hanging out to dry like this.

Can you explain it?

Why would the Orioles not have these two signed beyond the 2018 season? Anyone? Bueller?

Both Buck and Dan are "free agents" at the end of the 2018 season. In any other organization, you'd very rarely allow your manager and/or general manager to reach "lame duck" status, particularly if they had been successful.

It's not healthy for the players ("Why listen to him? He's not going to be here next season anyway...") and it's certainly not healthy for the two people in the spotlight.

Showalter has commented publicly on his contract situation and said all the right things. "I'm just here to win baseball games. The other stuff will take care of itself at the end of the season," was a common paraphrase he recited when asked about his status on a local radio show.

But deep down, Buck can't feel warm and fuzzy about this kind of treatment. And who would? He showed up here in 2010 to take a job no sane person in baseball coveted, and is now starting his eighth full campaign with the club.

Since Buck showed up, the O's have made the playoffs three times, advanced to the ALCS once, and are no longer everyone's homecoming series. Whether you believe it's "all about Buck" or "a little about Buck", one thing can't be debated: The team has won under his tutelage.

Why doesn't he have a contract next season?

Is Peter Angeles dissatisfied with his performance? I can't imagine that's possible.

And what of Duquette's status?

He arrived on the scene in 2012 and the club immediately made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Coincidence? Sure, it most likely was. But the winning continued. Playoffs and the ALCS in 2014, playoffs again in 2016.

If you're judging Showalter and Duquette on "winning", they've both done plenty of that since they showed up in Baltimore.

Why don't the two of them have a contract for next season?

Duquette is a bit more of an interesting case because he flirted with taking the Toronto Blue Jays job in the winter of 2014-2015. Perhaps at that point, once Angelos nixed the opportunity, Duquette informed the O's owner he'd serve out his contract and be gone after the 2018 campaign.

That's a realistic scenario. And since Angelos has been grooming Brady Anderson for a stepped-up role in the organization anyway, why be concerned if Duquette's leaving after the season?

But what's the deal with Buck?

Why let him flap in the breeze like this?

Are the Orioles really going to let Showalter become a managerial "free agent" next October?

None of this makes much sense. After going more than a decade as a laughingstock, the Orioles finally gained some respect back in 2010 when they coaxed Showalter out of the broadcast booth and back into the dugout.

That respect grew in 2012 when Duquette showed up and the Orioles made the playoffs, beat Texas in the wild-card game, and extended the Yankees to five games before losing in the ALDS finale in the Bronx.

What haven't those two done?

Sure, Buck has his ways. He's not perfect by any means. And Duquette's kind of an odd duck. But together, they've been involved in a lot of winning in Baltimore.

They deserve to be treated better than this, for sure.

It's hard to figure out.

That is, unless Brady Anderson already has the team's manager picked out for 2019...and his name isn't Buck Showalter.

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Tony Bennett or Jay Wright

With Baltimore's Phil Booth leading the way, Jay Wright and Villanova won the school's second NCAA title in 2015-2016.

Right now, it’s probably between Virginia and Villanova for the title of best team in the nation, and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament. I’d also argue that the coach of each team is tied at the top of the rankings of the nation’s best.

Before Tony Bennett arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia basketball had been essentially irrelevant for a generation. After reaching the regional finals in 1995, the Cavaliers went to the NCAA tournament three times in the next 16 seasons.

Bennett is one of the better teachers of defense in the history of the college game. His team’s style can be difficult to watch, but it’s given UVa an identity it never had and allowed the Cavaliers to compete with Duke, North Carolina and anyone else. Virginia hasn’t been this good since the Ralph Sampson era, and Bennett hasn’t had anyone nearly as talented as Sampson.

Meanwhile, Villanova was a program that might have been Seton Hall, another smaller Catholic institution that had one glorious year in another era. Wright, hired from Hofstra in 2001, has instead turned the Main Line school into a national power.

Wright is one of the better teachers of offense in the history of the college game. His team is fun to watch and, unlike Duke or Kentucky, usually features juniors and seniors leading the way. This year’s squad has an unheard of six players averaging in double figures in scoring.


Your conference schedule

In the 14-team Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences and the 15-team Atlantic Coast Conference, a team’s conference record is essentially irrelevant.

Heading into Sunday’s game at Illinois, Nebraska was 11-4 in the Big Ten. The Huskers had won six games in a row and eight of their last nine. Then they lost to the Illini. No worries, right? Wrong. ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Nebraska in his “First Four Out” of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, and that’s not going to get any better with a loss to a Big Ten bottom feeder.

Meanwhile, Maryland is 7-9 in the Big Ten. If Nebraska had Maryland’s conference schedule, having to play Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan twice apiece, the Huskers would probably have the same conference record as the Terps, or worse.

Nebraska’s five “home-and-home” opponents this year are Minnesota, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State. Four of those teams have under .500 overall records for the season. Of course, you can only play the teams they put in front of you. And in basketball, you do play everybody at least once, so you can never say you never got the chance to prove yourself against any particular team.

There are so many things about the super-conferences that stink, but for a basketball fan, and a basketball evaluator, this is one of the worst. It’s can be impossible to compare teams, even after 30 games over four months.


March 15

In 2018, the Ides of March corresponds with the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament. Chalk me up as one who thinks the positives of the first round of the tournament override the historical negatives of the day on the calendar.

The first Thursday of the NCAA tournament is my favorite day of the year. The next day is pretty good too, but there can only be one first day. Take the day off, even if you aren’t a huge college basketball fan.

If I were anywhere close to Boise, Dallas, Pittsburgh or Wichita, I’d be interested in being in those arenas for first-round games on that Thursday. For the price, it’s usually a really good deal.

I last attended NCAA tournament games in 2010, when I had the chance to work behind the scenes at the first - and second - round site in Buffalo.

My role was to assist the stenographers who were transcribing every word of postgame and off-day press conferences. Those folks are insanely talented at what they do, but they don’t know much about sports. If a player or coach referenced a person or word or topic that needed to be spelled correctly, or further researched, then I was there to help.

I remember Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim talking about Derrick Coleman; I was there to show the steno that it’s spelled Derrick, not Derek. I know…tough life…


The World’s Most Famous Arena

In its quest to infiltrate a New York market that couldn’t care less, the Big Ten is playing its Men’s Basketball championship at Madison Square Garden. Since the Big East has the Garden during the usual week, the Big Ten had to move its tournament up a week to get the building.

For the second year in a row, the ACC is playing its basketball tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So that conference, headquartered in Greensboro, N.C., and the Big Ten, headquartered in Chicago, are both playing postseason championships in New York City.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with playing in New York. There’s great tourism, outstanding hotels and big-time professional arenas. There are hosts of alums from any big school in America—engineers from Purdue and Georgia Tech, lawyers from Duke and Michigan—living in or near the city. And as a television property, the location of the tournament makes no difference at all.

But New York is all about “juice,” and there’s no “juice” about the Big Ten tourney in Manhattan, is there? It’s just another event among thousands, and I’m sure it gets lost in the shuffle.

Gary Williams could complain every year about the ACC tournament being in North Carolina, but at least people cared about it. The Big Ten’s move to D.C. a year ago and New York this year has nothing to do with basketball passion and everything to do with money.


Michigan State

When the final buzzer sounds in the national championship game in San Antonio April 2, I believe that Tom Izzo and Michigan State will be the ones celebrating.

The Spartans have everything you need to dominate the NCAA tournament, not just win it.

With Miles Bridges, Jaren Jackson and Nick Ward, they are plenty good on offense; in the non-conference season, they scored more than 100 points in four consecutive games. Their overall size and athleticism might make the Spartans an even better defensive team than Virginia, taking into account the faster tempo at which they play.

Villanova may be known for its excellent three-point shooting, but Michigan State actually leads the nation in three-point percentage, making more than 42 percent of its shots from beyond the arc. The Spartans also are unselfish, with a greater percentage of their baskets coming off assists than any other team.

From the standpoint of talent, pure and simple, Duke and Michigan State are the best teams in the country. But I’d be way more surprised to see Duke make the Final Four than I would be to see them not make it out of the first weekend.

Izzo’s team was losing by 22 points at Northwestern on Saturday and then held the Wildcats to 11 points in the second half. That’s the kind of team that will be cutting down the nets in April.

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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 look to end road losing skid tonight at northwestern

It was only nine days ago when the Maryland Terrapins dominated the Wildcats of Northwestern in their 73-57 win at College Park.

These two teams meet again tonight at 7 pm in the Allstate Arena at Rosemont Illinois. The off-campus Allstate Arena is the temporary home for Wildcat basketball while the Welsh-Ryan Arena gets its facelift.

History is due to repeat itself to tonight. Either the Terps will, once again, defeat Northwestern, or they will continue their trend of losing road games. Their road loss streak is currently at seven.

Maryland has the right to feel they know the recipe for beating Northwestern. Their recent 16-point win was a game in which they built a double digit lead less than six minutes into the first half, and were never seriously challenged.

They ran crisp offensive sets and played some of their best defense of the season. But, if coach Turgeon wants another good look at what to do, and what not to do against this Big Ten foe, he should take at good hard look at this past Saturday’s Northwestern vs. Michigan State game.

Maryland's Darryl Morsell had 14 points in the Terps' win over Northwestern nine days ago. Can he do the same tonight on the road?

Northwestern built a 27-point first half lead behind some really stellar shooting helped by an MSU defensive philosophy that allowed the Wildcats to shoot from the outside.

That would come under the heading of “What NOT to do”. Northwestern hit 8 of 13 threes and 10 of 17 from inside the arc as well. Northwestern also played aggressive defense, especially when cutting off Spartan dribble penetration.

Unfortunately, Northwestern's aggression may have been their undoing.

The second half for Michigan State was entirely “what TO do”. Defensively, they closed all gaps from the paint to beyond the perimeter. The three-point shots that were easy to come by in the first half, became impossible get off let alone shoot accurately, in the second half.

The Spartans pressured every shot and as a result, the same Northwestern team that scored 49 points in the first 20 minutes, scored just 11 in the last 20 minutes. They shot 3 for 26 in the second half.

Now, we know that not all of that can be attributed to the Michigan State defense. Some of the misses were wide open shots. But when you are in the midst of blowing a 27-point lead, the collar gets a little tight. That certainly happened to Northwestern on Saturday.

What also happened to the Wildcats was foul trouble. Their aggressiveness thwarted some MSU offensive opportunities, but it also cost them their big man, Dererk Pardon. Pardon was pulled at the 14:24 mark of the second half after picking up his 4th foul.

At that time, Northwestern held an 18-point lead. When he returned less than five minutes later the lead was only five.

Pardon is as vital to the Wildcat defense as Anthony Cowan is for the Terp offense. Pardon is the guy who kept Maryland’s Bruno Fernando from making even one field goal in their game nine days ago. Northwestern can’t afford to lose him.

While losing Pardon to fouls hindered their efforts in pulling off the upset victory, the loss of their point guard, Bryant McIntosh, to a shoulder injury, did not prove to be so harmful.

While his replacement, Anthony Gaines, is no threat from the outside, he offers more size and physicality at the point guard position. Against Michigan State, Gaines had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers in 37 minutes of action. He didn’t impress me as a true “playmaker” type point, but his insertion into the lineup against Maryland might be an upgrade over a hurt McIntosh (who failed to score against Maryland on February 10th).

In Vegas, the potential absence of McIntosh isn’t considered enough of a loss to keep the Wildcats from being favorites in this game. The linemakers have posted Northwestern (-1) as the early line. That’s not too surprising considering that Maryland opened as a 6-point favorite when these two teams played in College Park.

So, what can we expect tonight? Darryl Morsell had a great offensive game for Maryland the last time out. He used a variety of mid-range jumpers to get 14 points on 7-10 shooting. I think Northwestern will play him with a bit more respect this time and his production could be less.

I have to believe that there’s no way Pardon blanks Bruno Fernando from the field in this game like he did in their earlier match-up. Fernando will be looking to assert himself tonight. He might not go off like he did against Rutgers, but he’ll be fired up to perform, for sure.

Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey will get his points, and Vic Law will be much improved over his 3-9 performance in the game at College Park.

What this adds up to is a toss-up.

I know the Terps beat Northwestern by 16 the last time out, but throw that out the window. This is a game between two evenly matched teams in which each side believes they can win.

Both teams realize they need a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament in order to be a part of March Madness, so this game is meaningless as far as an at-large bid is concernned. The hungrier team wins this game.

Will Northwestern, who has had a disappointing season and are coming off of a disappointing loss, show more desire to win than Maryland?

The Wildcats had high hopes for this year after making it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever last year. Those hopes have now been dashed. It’s not senior night, so you can eliminate that potential motivating factor too.

Then I look at Maryland with their freshman and sophomore dominated lineup. Everything is still so new to them. The opportunity to finally win a road game and give them a chance to finish .500 in the Big Ten might provide some drive.

Fernando, for sure, wants to avenge his poor performance from the last game. Maryland will play hard tonight, and to a certain extent Northwestern will also. But this is the Terps last chance to win a road game, something that is important to them, and they will.

It won’t be easy -- road games rarely are -- but Maryland will end their road jinx tonight. The Terps will get double digits from both of their centers, and come away with a 74-69 victory.

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February 18
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can anyone else explain this?

At the risk of being criticized for being "too hard" on the Orioles, I'll go ahead and jump in on another baseball related topic today.

Hopefully some of the softees around here don't get their feelings hurt too much.

Last week here at #DMD, I authored a piece that served to be a spring training opener of sorts and the general theme was: "It seems like something's going on..."

Too many unanswered winter questions, not enough activity, and minimal proactive movement by the Orioles -- unless you count the Rule 5 Draft as "proactive". It all seems intentional by the Orioles and their management.

What other explanation is there?

The O's aren't signing players because they don't want to sign players. That's the only reasonable deduction I could make. And, in fairness, lots of teams around the league seemingly have been afflicted with that same "feet dragging" disease. To wit, one of the top free agents available in the winter -- Eric Hosmer, late of the Royals -- just agreed on a deal with the Padres yesterday.

Today's topic is different, though.

And tomorrow here at #DMD, I'll write about something else I can't quite understand with the Birds.

Manny Machado is a free agent after this season and the Orioles apparently haven't reached out once to his agent to talk about a long-term deal to stay in Baltimore.

Today, I'm wondering about Manny Machado.

And Adam Jones.

Those two represent a front-and-back foundation of the organization on the field. Jones, at 32, is in the back now, reaching the 14th hole or so of his career. He's not quite the same player he was, say, three seasons ago, but there's plenty left in his tank.

Machado is at the front of the foundation. He's one of the top five players in the game and likely will stay at that level for at least the next half dozen seasons. He's the kind of player you can build around, as the sports-saying goes.

Both guys will be free agents at the conclusion of the 2018 season.

Neither of them, according to the player himself, has heard a peep from the Orioles.

I don't get it.

Do you?

If you believe the two players -- and this story has been out long enough for the club to refute it and they haven't -- the Orioles have not contacted their respective agents to talk about a new contract for 2019 and beyond.

Nothing? Not even a courtesy call to get a feel for the ballpark figure the player might want from the club? The Orioles wouldn't just call to say "Hey, we're interested. We're thinking a five-year deal. Let's have coffee over the winter"?

Dan Duquette hasn't contacted the agent for Machado or Jones to talk about their contract situation. Not once.

I find that very odd.

Machado met with the media at spring training on Saturday and spoke openly about his desire to stay in Baltimore. He's obviously saying all the right things and not looking to ruffle any feathers, but he did admit the only communication he's had with the Orioles regarding money is when the two sides spoke during the arbitration process.

Jones has said recently that no one from the organization has reached out to his agent to talk about a contract extension.

Now, we all know Duquette could be serving the master on this one. Perhaps he went to Peter Angelos last May and discussed the two players and was told, "Don't do anything". That possibility always exists because Peter, as we all know, marches to his own beat.

And yes, I think we all probably assume even if Duquette made a call to Machado's agent that it's likely he'd just hear this: "We appreciate the effort and the call, Dan, but Manny wants to reach free agency next winter and that's our plan. Feel free to make an offer in November. We'd love to evaluate it."

But you still have to make the call a year or two before free agency begins, don't you? Just to say, "Hey, we would love to talk about getting a deal done now before free agency hits..."


But no matter who hasn't made the call or authorized it, this much is true: The Orioles haven't contacted Machado's agent or Jones' agent in an attempt to get the ball rolling on a new contract.

That's shameful in and of itself. And a slap in the face to the fans and sponsors who have supported the club over the last two decades.

If you can't pay Machado the $25 or $30 million he expects to get, that's all well and good. Just tell his agent that, trade him, improve your team for the future and move on.

If you think Jones will be too old to invest in one more time after 2018, just tell his agent that, trade him, improve your team for the future and move on.

Not making contact, any contact, is bush league.

Those two guys, whether you care for either of them personally or not, have done yeoman's work in helping take the O's from a bottom-feeder to a playoff contender for the last six seasons. They're not the only ones who deserve credit, of course, but they've been a major part of the rebound in Baltimore.

They deserve to be treated with the kind of respect and affection that goes with players of their caliber.

That is, unless there's something going on that we don't know about...either in Baltimore or league-wide, amongst the owners.

It doesn't add up. Not to me, anyway.

I have one final topic to throw on the fire tomorrow here at #DMD. Those logs will really get the flames hopping, I think.

Because the Orioles don't talk publicly -- and even if they did, I don't know how much we'd believe them -- this kind of speculation is all we can do in Charm City. There's never a "State of the Orioles" press conference where folks who aren't on the team's media-associated payroll can ask questions. So the only thing folks can do is assess the situation and make their best guess as to what's going on in the Warehouse.

In this case, it's really hard to figure out.

The team's two "foundation" players of the last decade are both going to be free agents and the Orioles haven't made one call yet to talk about potentially extending their time in Baltimore.

Something's not adding up, folks.

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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 roll past rutgers

The Maryland Terrapins jumped out of the gates quickly last night while building an early 13-point lead. They grew the advantage to 24 in the second half, and then cruised to a 61-51 victory over Rutgers on a snowy night at the XFINITY Center.

Bruno Fernando was dominant all evening while collecting game highs in both points (18) and rebounds (16).

True to form, the Scarlet Knights shot just 38% from the field and 16% from the three-point line. Maryland used effective ball movement on offense and a solid 40-minute defensive effort to improve to 7-9 in the Big Ten with two games left to play.

The Terps scored the first ten points of the game and were never seriously challenged from that point on. The lead reached a maximum of 24 points in the second half, 50-26, before the Terps relaxed and scored only 11 points in the last 14:39 of the game.

With just 40 seconds remaining in the contest, Rutgers was able to cut the deficit to seven points. At that point there may have been a bit of concern on the Maryland bench, but there never was fear.

Maryland's Bruno Fernando put a hurtin' on Rutgers on Saturday night in College Park, with 18 points and 16 rebounds in Maryland's ten point win.

One of the few things worse than Saturday’s wintry weather was the Scarlet Knight's shooting efficiency during the first eight minutes of the game. Rutgers found themselves down 17-4 after missing 8 of their first 10 shots. Meanwhile the Terps were connecting on 7 of 12 while keeping even with Rutgers on the boards.

After the second media timeout, Maryland’s first half offense bogged down a tad for about 4 minutes. During those four minutes, much of that with Kevin Huerter and Fernando on the bench, the Terps went scoreless. As soon as Huerter and Bruno reentered, the Maryland scoring resumed.

By the last media timeout of the first half, the Rutgers shooters finally started to make a few shots but their six turnovers (against just two for Maryland) kept them from substantially cutting into the Terp lead.

Towards the end of the half, Cowan began to find some dribble penetration room, scoring three times in a two-minute span, helping Maryland push their lead back up to 14, 29-15, with two minutes left in the half.

Kevin Huerter finished the Maryland first half scoring by sinking a pair of foul shots, providing the Terps with a 31-19 halftime bulge.

Fernando dominated the first half with his 9 points and 10 rebounds.

If Mark Turgeon challenged his freshman center to keep this outstanding rebounding Scarlet Knight team off of the boards, then Bruno delivered. Rutgers had just 3 offensive rebounds for the half.

It was also unique to see Maryland have a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio in the first half. They accumulated six assists while only turning it over twice.

Maryland started the second half exactly like they started the first half, by scoring the first 10 points. The 12-point lead surged to 22, way too much for an offensively challenged team like Rutgers to overcome. Perhaps the most exciting moment of the second half came when Fernando knocked down the first three-point shot of his career.

A Terp scoring drought that began at the 14:38 mark of the second half allowed Rutgers to creep back into the game, somewhat. Indifferent Maryland play, and some Scarlet Knight hustle resulted in the Terp lead being trimmed to seven, 58-51, with just 40 seconds remaining.

A 7-point gap might not be very comfortable against a good offensive squad, but against Rutgers that margin represents about 8 minutes of basketball...and they only had 40 seconds left.

While they had secured the victory, it remained to be seem whether or not the Terps would cover the 11.5 point spread. They didn’t. A sloppy finish resulted in a final score of 61-51.

There were few surprises on Saturday night other than the lack of effort from Rutgers on the offensive glass in the first half. In all of the games I’ve watched them play, they swarm the glass like provoked hornets around a hive.

Last night, they looked sluggish. Maybe Fernando was just too strong for them, but Rutgers did look a wee bit passive.

Maryland’s offense had great ball movement, particularly early in the game. They pushed tempo when they could, and played aggressive defense throughout. The Terps did what they had to do in order to beat one of the weaker teams in their conference.

Maryland has little time to rest as they travel to Rosemont, Illinois to battle with the Northwestern Wildcats tomorrow. The Wildcats are coming off of a 65-60 home loss to Michigan State on Saturday in which they led by 27 points at one juncture in the game.

After scoring 49 points in the first half, Northwestern only managed 11 in the second half. Game time on Monday is 7 pm.

KELLY banner ad

how well do you know baltimore sports trivia?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

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February 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxiii
issue 17
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

a dummy from glen burnie told tiger this wasn't going to work

There are times when you opine on sports, whether it's a game, an athlete or a moment, where you're bound to be right.

Sometimes it's luck. Sometimes it's because your opinion was well-founded in statistical data or analysis. And sometimes you're right because it was probably going to be harder for you to be wrong, if that makes sense.

Maybe it's too early to say this and declare "I was right", but I'll say it anyway.

Back in late 2017 when Tiger Woods announced he was parting ways with swing instructor Chris Como, I offered the opinion that Woods was making a mistake. Not a mistake by no longer employing Como, per se, but a mistake in not having anyone working with him and monitoring his golf swing.

I said it then: "Tiger can't win again without having one of the world's top instructors in his camp."

I was right.

OK, maybe I won't be right next week when he tees it up at The Honda Classic. That's a home game for him, sorta-kinda. He might shock us all and win. I'd be wrong, in that case.

He heads to Augusta in six weeks, a place he's won on four previous occasions, although not since 2006. Maybe he wins there. I'd be wrong if that happens.

When Tiger Woods parted ways with swing instructor Chris Como in 2017, it left him on his own. "I need to do this by myself," Woods claimed.

I'll be wrong if, at any point in 2018, he wins a tournament, because I don't think he can win without having a world-class instructor by his side.

This isn't meant to be a massive overreaction to what happened at the Genesis Open on Thursday and Friday, where Woods shot 72-76 and missed the cut. He all but predicted it himself in his Tuesday press conference when he acknowledged that his history at Riveria CC in Los Angeles wasn't all that impressive. Golf's weird like that. Some guys love a certain golf course and play it well, others can't break 70 at the place.

That Tiger missed the cut in his second tournament after a one-year layoff isn't a big deal at all.

That he can't hit the golf ball straight off the tee, though, is a big deal.

Woods can talk all he wants about his "feels" and the need to "do it on my own" and the other jargon he uses to come to terms with the fact that he's the only major champion on the PGA Tour who doesn't have an instructor on his payroll. It's all eyewash.


I was right. Woods needs an instuctor by his side or this comeback of his, which, frankly, has been impressive in a lot of ways, will never reach its potential.

Tiger's short game and work around the greens has been spectacular in the two events he's played thus far. If we're being honest, he would have missed the cut at Torrey Pines by six shots if not for a half dozen remarkable par-saves on Thursday and Friday.

Until Friday's round at Genesis, where his putter betrayed him with three, back-nine three putts, his work with the flat stick had also been commendable.

Prior to his back surgery in 2017, Tiger's short game was a mess. He had the chipping yips, remember ("He'll never get over those, ever," said Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee), and was starting to show signs of nerves and breaking down when he didn't hit a green in regulation.

Contrary to Chamblee's assertion, Tiger did get over the chipping yips. His short game in two tournaments has been an asset, not a fault.

But his work off the tee has been awful, if we're calling it like it is.

That's mostly about his use of the driver, although on Friday at Riveria CC, he missed several fairways on the opening nine when he used an iron off the tee.

He did smash a few down the fairway, it's fair to note. He smoked a 3-wood on the par-4 tenth hole that reached the fringe of the green and then two-putted for a nice birdie there.

Tiger hit a perfect 310-yard drive on Riveria's difficult closing hole and zipped a pitching wedge to 15-feet. For just a second there, it was Tiger circa 2008.

But those two examples were outliers, for the most part.

And here's the thing. When Tiger misses a fairway, he's not missing it by a yard or three.

He's missing it so badly, they could build a Chick fil-A between the first cut of rough and where they eventually locate his golf ball.

In other words, he's hitting it off the planet with at least 50% of his tee balls, mostly with the driver.

It's one thing if Woods isn't healthy. But by all accounts, his back is doing great. He's generating more than enough clubhead speed to keep up with the longer hitters on TOUR, and while he might not be hitting 180 yard 8-irons anymore, his health isn't a concern at this point.

This isn't about health. It's about his golf swing.

Tiger knows his body, yes. No one would argue that.

Tiger knows his "feels", yes. It's a goofy term, admittedly, but I get it, as a golfer.

Tiger know his move through the ball and how he likes to hit the ball, sure.

But here's what I know: He can't fix himself off the tee. If he could, he would have by now.

Tiger better send Butch Harmon a blank check (and who knows if Butch would even take it...) or perhaps even lower himself to working with Peter Kostis, the CBS golf analyst who has several players in his teaching stable, including red-hot Chez Reavie.

I don't know the full list of names that would qualify as a "world class instructor", but Woods better find one.

Heck, even Chamblee himself has said recently, "I could fix Tiger in two minutes". That might have been hyperbole, but Chamblee does have a keen eye for the golf swing. He's not an "instructor", if you will, but he won on the PGA Tour and has watched and anaylzed Woods enough over the years to have an opinion worth hearing.

Woods, of course, has a long history of being stubborn when it comes to making amends with folks who betrayed him. That might leave those three I listed, Harmon, Kostis and Chamblee, out of the picture if, in fact, Tiger ever goes looking for another instructor again.

But he needs to find someone. Quickly.

He can't win if he doesn't get help with his driver and play off the tee.

I hate to say I told you so, Tiger.

But I told you so.

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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 shouldn't overlook rutgers tonight

If the Maryland Terrapins think they can just show up tonight at 8 pm and claim a victory over a lowly (3-12 and next to last in the Big Ten conference) Rutgers team, they might become the Scarlet Knight’s fourth Big Ten victim this season.

Coach Steve Pikiell has a tough team that plays hard against everyone, everywhere. They don’t always play well, but they play hard.

The wins don’t accumulate because they frequently have trouble getting the ball into the basket, but they will rebound and scrap on the defensive end for 40 minutes.

When your team is 3-12 in conference play, and has no hope for a post-season tournament, but you choose to come back from a dislocated knee cap in just two weeks, you are tough. That act by Rutgers sophomore, Eugene Omoruyi, defines their team.

If only they had some offensive talent to go along with their defensive prowess.

Logging the most average minutes per-game in all of Division I basketball, Anthony Cowan will again be called upon to help the Terps tonight in their home game with pesky Rutgers.

Earlier this year, Rutgers played Michigan State in East Lansing. In that game Michigan State attempted 34 foul shots. Rutgers attempted only 15 from the charity stripe.

The Spartans hit 47% of their three-point attempts while Rutgers knocked down just 28% of their deep balls.

Four Scarlet Knights fouled out and another player had four fouls. No MSU players had five fouls. With numbers like that you would have to assume that Michigan State beat Rutgers by a score that was similar to the thirty-point beat-down that they put on Maryland in early January.

That assumption would be dead wrong. The score was tied 59-59 at the end of regulation. Michigan State would go on to win 76-72 in overtime. Rutgers out-rebounded one of the best rebounding teams in the country that night.

The box score for the Rutgers match-up with Purdue showed numbers similar to the Michigan State game. Purdue would win by just two points, but like Michigan State, they got out-rebounded (37-25) by Rutgers.

Consistent efforts on the glass and on defense are why this Rutgers team is ranked 13th in the NCAA in scoring defense and 6th nationally in total rebounds. They are tough, but they aren’t effective offensively.

The top three Scarlet Knight scorers all shoot less than 40% from the field.

Cory Sanders will take the most shots, but he hits only 38% from the floor and just 23% from 3-point range. Sanders is a fantastic athlete who can create his own shot off of the dribble, but his percentages are low because he is often forced to take bad shots at the end of his team’s offensive possessions. He gets 14.5 points per game.

Sanders' backcourt mate, Geo Baker, is not as athletic, and also connects on just 38% of his shots from the floor. Baker is not afraid to launch a wild shot or two and that tendency shows up in his shooting percentages. He is third on the team with an average of 11 points per game.

Both guards, Sanders and Baker, average 32.9 minutes per game.

Rutgers’ second leading scorer, Deshawn Freeman, didn’t play in the Scarlet Knight’s most recent game. The reason seemed to be disciplinary, but that could not be confirmed. His shooting numbers are 39.9% from the field, and just 14% from the three-point line. Freeman is his team’s leading rebounder with 7.5 per game.

The Rutgers big men are of various shapes and sizes. They all rebound, but none are proficient with their offensive moves.

The three starters in their last game were Eugene Omoruyi (6’7” and 234 lbs.), Issa Thiam (6’10” 190), and Mamadou Doucoure (6’9” 243lbs).

Thiam, at 6’10”, prefers the outside game and does very little damage on the interior. He is the best three-point option on this team. Candido Sa and Shaquille Doorson will both see time. Doorson is 7’0” and tips the scales at 275. Like the other Rutgers “bigs”, they don’t offer much on the offensive end.

Points are going to be at a premium tonight and if Maryland is going to be successful on the offensive end it will be a result of good ball movement and sharp offensive sets.

One-on-one moves will be lost more than they are won tonight. With the Rutgers half-court defense being so good, and their half-court offense so bad, I believe both teams will look for fast-break and transition points whenever possible.

The fact that Rutgers has so many interchangeable parts at the 3, 4, and 5 spots enables them to keep guys rested while still applying relentless defensive pressure in the half court. They aren’t a pressing team though.

I’d like to analyze the individual matchups, but I have no clue what they could be.

Sanders and Anthony Cowan are similar in size, but I don’t see Mark Turgeon putting that work load on his already overworked point guard. Cowan leads all of D1 basketball in minutes played.

Perhaps Morsell gets that assignment and Cowan will check Baker. From there, who knows? We still don’t know if Freeman will play for Rutgers.

What I do know is that Maryland’s outside game had better be on target tonight, because I don’t see an abundance of points in the paint for the Terps. They also need to keep the rebounding deficit that is likely to happen to a bare minimum. That means everybody has to keep a butt on their man.

I’d like to see more of Michal Cekovsky and Bruno Fernando on the floor together. While realizing that Ceko is coming off an injury, and that having your two big men on the floor at the same time extends your rotation, Turgeon needs to start prepping this team for the Big Ten Tournament and his only chance to make a run is to have those two playing together for significant stretches.

Yes, it means that either Sean Obi or Joshua Tomaic will see time at center, or Maryland could go small for a while, but it’s a necessary evil in my mind if you want to stop giving up extra possessions due to offensive rebounds.

The Terps should win tonight’s game just because they have better shooters.

How close the game will be is tough for me to predict. Will the Terps play the team that took Michigan State to overtime, or the one that lost by 22 to Indiana at home?

With the line holding steady at 11.5 points, I’m going to quietly proclaim that Rutgers gives the Terps a game and the margin finishes with a 61-57 score. Terps win by four at home.

KELLY banner ad

how well do you know baltimore sports trivia?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

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February 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xxxxiii
issue 16
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed

are the orioles low on money?

You probably read the headline and laughed, right?

The Orioles...low on money?

How is that possible? They raked in approximately $253 million back in 2016, for example. How could they be low on cash barely one full year later?

I'm not saying they are. I'm just asking the question, that's all.

In case you missed it, the Birds actually signed a real player yesterday when they inked free-agent right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million deal.

The signing was met with the perfect reaction on social media. Most folks see it as a positive ("He's better than what we have") but clearly understand the O's have a long way to go.

Cashner had a nice season in Texas a year ago, posting a 3.40 ERA. But baseball stat-nerds will tell you his "peripherals" weren't all that great in 2017, meaning when you dig deeper into his data, you see some troubling signs.

The stat that sticks out in bold for Cashner was his strikeouts-per-nine-innings-pitched, which dropped to 4.6, against his walks-per-nine-innings, which finished up at 3.5. Of starting pitchers who qualified in 2017, it was the worst ratio in the majors.

In need of a couple of veteran arms to go with Bundy and Gausman, the O's secured one yesterday with the signing of Andrew Cashner, who had a solid season in Texas in 2017.

There are gobs of other stats that would be confusing to normal people like you and me (ERA-/FIP-/xFIP-) that don't bode well for Cashner, either. One of these days I'll get a Calvert Hall grad to come around and explain them all to us in greater detail.

So, the Cashner signing is what it is. He's a proven, veteran major league starter, which is precisely what the Orioles needed. They need one or two more of them between now and the March 29 season opener.

He's not going to win the Cy Young award in 2018 but he probably isn't going to be Wade Miley II, either. I saw several people on Twitter claiming the Orioles "got a lot better" on Thursday with the Cashner signing. I think I'd let the season play out a little bit before I make that claim.

But Cashner is much better than Gabriel Ynoa or Mike Wright. End of story.

That said, an interesting note came out of the Cashner signing.

The Orioles actually deferred $3 million of the $16 million they'll pay him until 2020-2022.

He'll get $5 million this year, $8 million in 2019 and would receive $10 million in the 2020 campaign if he pitches a combined total of 340 innings in 2018 and 2019. Interestingly, Cashner's deal for 2020 becomes a "player option" if he pitches 360 or more innings in 2018 and 2019.

Anyway...back to the $3 million in deferred money.

I realize it's easy for me to play with someone else's cash, but are the Orioles that low on money that deferring three million bucks is important to them?

Unless they did that just to say "we won" in the bargaining room with Cashner and his agent (and, sure, that possibility exists with the Birds), why would they defer a measly $3 million on his deal?

That's a red flag of sorts. To me, anyway.

The club spent $163 million on player payroll in 2017.

Assuming -- with a slight drop-off in attendance included -- their team revenue was roughly in the $250 million range a year ago, what's the worry over $3 million?

Oh, and with the departures of guys like Tillman, Jimenez, Hardy, Miley and other vets, the Birds were able to slice about $52 million out of their 2017 payroll heading into the 2018 campaign.

There are always adjustments for arbitration deals in those numbers, but just a quick look at the numbers involved says this: The Orioles had a significant amount of "new" money to spend for this upcoming season over the winter and hardly spent any of it. And now that they have, they deferred $3 million of it until two years from now.

What's going on?

I don't know the answer, but I'm curious.

I guess we can see now why they haven't made a contract offer to the likes of Machado, Schoop or Jones, huh?

If they're deferring $3 million to Andrew Cashner, they're certainly not giving Machado $30 million a year or sliding a $100 million, 6-year deal in front of Schoop to keep him from entering his free-agent-to-be campaign in 2019.

Yes, attendance has decreased a bit over the last few years, but they did raise ticket prices in 2016, mostly to offset the $161 million they gave to Chris Davis (and they deferred a large chunk in that deal, too, remember).

They're still raking in MASN dollars, although they only receive money from cable owners who are still "active". Once someone drops cable TV, the Birds can no longer fleece them for $5.00 a month.

But does lower attendance and a slight decline in cable TV owners equal such a massive drop-off in revenue that the club doesn't have $16 million to give to Andrew Cashner over two seasons?

Or was all of that just fancy negotiating by the Orioles and way to "win" the negotiations with the right-hander?

I'm just asking.

I don't know what's going on, exactly, but I see things that look odd.

More money to spend. But less money actually being spent.

Something's not adding up...

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news and notes

Things are tightening up a bit for the Washington Capitals, so last night's 5-2 win at Minnesota was a good one.

The Caps currently lead the Metropolitan Division by just three points, although the second-place team, Pittsburgh, has played 59 games while Barry Trotz's team has played just 57.

Washington's lead on the team currently occupying the final wild card spot (Carolina) is 10 points.

Alex Ovechkin had another goal last night and Andre Burakovsky awoke from his season-long slumber to score a sweet end-to-end tally for just his 6th goal of the campaign.

Had the Caps not squandered a late lead in Winnipeg on Tuesday night and lost in OT there, this current road trip would be off to a great start.

As it is, Washington heads to Chicago for a Saturday night encounter with the Blackhawks, who are in last place in the Central Division and in need of a late-season miracle just to make the playoffs.

5th year grad student Jairus Lyles has led UMBC to one of their best regular seasons in nearly a decade, as the Retrievers are currently second in conference play with four games remaining.

The Towson Tigers men's basketball team picked up an important win last night at SECU Arena, turning back a spirited effort to trim the Blue Hens, 67-65.

Towson is now 8-7 in the CAA (Delaware fell to 4-11 with the loss) and is still fighting with the likes of William & Mary and Hofstra for CAA tournament seeding early next month.

Mike Morsell had 19 points for Towson last night, while Brian Starr chipped in with 17.

The Tigers are one of just three teams to beat CAA-leading College of Charleston this season, but it's been and up and down year for Pat Skerry's team thus far. They can fix it all with a run in the conference tournament, though.

And speaking of conference tournaments, the UMBC men will host a quarterfinal game in the America East tournament in early March.

The Retrievers are currently 9-3 in the conference (trailing only Vermont at 12-0) and have locked up at least one of the top four seeds heading into tournament play.

America East is one of the conferences that hands out home games in their tournament, with the team owning the better regular season conference record earning the right to play in their own building.

The Retrievers boast a quality lineup, led by Jairus Lyles and Joe Sherburne. Some might argue that a mid-season switch to a new arena at UMBC wasn't the best move from a competitive standpoint (new lighting, different sight lines, etc.) but other than Vermont, no one in the conference has been as consistent as UMBC has thus far in the 2017-2018 campaign.

Three of UMBC's four remaining regular season games are at home, starting with this Sunday (1 pm) against Albany.

KELLY banner ad

how well do you know baltimore sports trivia?

50 years of Baltimore sports.

From 1968 through 2018.

How well do you know it?

Where did Justin Tucker play college football? If you know that sort of "trivial stuff", you and your two friends could win big money or prizes in #DMD's Sports Trivia Contest.

Our Baltimore Sports Trivia Contest is officially open for business, brought to you by our friends at Glory Days Grill. And if you and two friends win the contest on April 9, you'll walk away with $2,000.

Not a bad return for a $75 entry fee.

The details can be found by clicking "Trivia Contest" at the top of the page. All of the qualifying dates and rules and regulations are listed there.

In summary, though, it's pretty easy. You and two friends form a team. Without the aid of your cell phone or the internet, you'll register for one of four qualifying rounds and then answer 25 questions over a one-hour period.

The top four teams from each qualifier advance to the Finals on April 9.

Here are three sample questions you might find, just to give you an idea of the depth of knowlege you'll need for the contest:

What was the final score of the Ravens' AFC championship game win at New England in 2013?

Name the colleges these Ravens played for: Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap, Marshal Yanda, Derrick Mason and Justin Tucker.

In no specific order, name every Orioles manager (official managers, not someone filling in for one day while a manager was out sick, etc.) from 1968 through 2018.

If you knew those answers, or at least some of the answers, you're on your way. Get your team together and enter the contest. There will be questions harder and more detailed than those and questions that are a tad easier, too.

We'll throw in a couple of Blast, Clippers, Skipjacks questions, but not many. And we'll also add some local flavor by asking a question or two about local college players or high school athletes from Charm City.

At least 80% of the questions will center on the Ravens, Orioles and Colts.

Anything from 1968 through 2018 is game.

We have some awesome prizes for the top six finishers. And you and your team will be featured on a #DMD podcast if you're the champions!

Entries are open. Get your team 3-person team together and register today.

SAFFER banner

"SHOW ME THE MONEY!" for October 28. Drew makes his week 8 NFL picks right here.

breakfast bytes

Givens walks three in the 9th, including go-ahead run, as Yankees complete sweep with 6-5 win.

NBA playoffs: Raptors pull off big road win at Milwaukee, 105-99, lead Eastern Conference Finals, 3-2.

Baseball: Twins hit 8 home runs in 16-7 win over L.A. Angels.

PGA Tour; Tony Finau (-6) leads at Colonial; Tiger Woods commits to playing The Memorial next week.

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