Thursday
March 15
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issue 15
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let's hope the ravens are learning


Despite the nitpicking and disappointment at the team's on-field performance over the last five years, I consider myself firmly in the camp that thinks the Ravens "know what they're doing".

I hear and see people all the time who think otherwise, but the reality is the people in the trenches at One Winning Drive forgot more about football than we'll ever know.

But that doesn't mean they should stop trying to learn. The NFL is an oddly evolving product, with trends and patterns developing quickly, often times more because of the rules and the development of the college athlete than anything else.

If I could tattoo the Ravens with one negative, it would be this: They've been far too slow to "give in" and tweak their philosophy when style of play and results suggest otherwise.

It might just be that picking wide receivers in the draft isn't their thing. They've been great at selecting offensive and defensive linemen every April. Some teams would love to own half of the Ravens' acumen in picking tackles and guards.

Quarterback wasn't necessarily a position of strength for the Ravens until Joe Flacco came along. They tried signing free agents (Grbac, Blake, McNair) and drafting signal callers (Boller, Redman, Smith), but none of them were any good. Or not good enough to stick around and lead the team to the promised land, at least.

Flacco changed that dynamic in 2008 and when the team won the Super Bowl in 2012-2013, the Ravens were set.

Or not.

In the aftermath of that title victory over the 49'ers in San Francisco, the Ravens had to pay the piper. Flacco played a pretty cool game of poker with the team in the summer of 2012 and walked away from a $91 million contract offer because he wanted at least $92 million.

The following March -- after winning the Super Bowl MVP award -- Flacco's haul was $120 million instead.

What has hurt the Ravens more? Flacco's backloaded big contract or veteran players the team signs and cuts one year later?

That contract and an ensuing extension, and a couple of others handed out to veteran players, has played a significant role in the Ravens' current salary cap plight. The Ravens aren't cap-strapped only because of Joe Flacco...that's not what I'm saying at all. But they're in a tight spot these days in part because they structured a number of deals that were backloaded with big money and big salary cap "hits" in the latter years of the contract.

Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Ray Rice -- just to name three players who were all paid handsomely -- and others have put the Ravens where they are today.

It's the price you pay for winning.

But there's also a price to pay for making a mistake on a player who comes to town, flames out, and leaves after one season.

And that, more than Flacco, Ngata, Rice, et al, is just as critical to look at and spotlight if I'm Steve Bisciotti.

Why did "we" bring in three players last summer, Danny Woodhead, Austin Howard and Jeremy Maclin, and then part company with them one year later? That's what I'm asking if I'm Bisciotti.

How did it come to pass that the Ravens swung and missed on all three of them?

Something's not working.

The Ravens are either slipping when it comes to talent evaluation, coaching or salary cap management.

Or they just have really, really bad luck.

You can choose whichever one you want, but it's certainly fair to ask how an organization with two world championships to their credit can slip to 40-40 over a 5-year period, miss the playoffs four out of five years, and suddenly start losing veteran players that just one year earlier they signed and believed in.

I heard and read several people yesterday defending the recent signings of Ryan Grant and John Brown. It got me to thinking this: "Why are we generally skeptical of those two guys? They're both NFL players with varying degrees of success. They have a track record in the league. Why are we skeptical?"

I know what my answer is. And, yes, I'm skeptical.

My answer is I see them cutting guys like Woodhead, Maclin and Howard -- three players they brought in last year to right the ship -- and it definitely makes me wonder if they haven't lost their touch over in Owings Mills.

Maybe I'm putting too much stock on those three guys, individually. Then I look at draft picks over the last five years or so and I see names like Tommy Streeter, Aaron Mellette, Arthur Brown, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Robert Myers and, yes, Breshad Perriman, and I ask myself if I'm putting too much stock in those guys, too?

There are more whiffs in the Ravens' last five drafts than Chris Davis has in a 3-game series in Boston. Well, maybe I'm wrong there. Davis would strike out 8 times. I can only find six complete whiffs by the Ravens.

But you get the point.

For as great as they've been over the last two decades at giving us a competitive football team and two championships, something is misfiring in Owings Mills.

Everyone has draft "whiffs". I get it.

Everyone has a free agent "whiff" or two. I get that as well.

And nearly every NFL team has, at some point, configured themselves into salary cap hell.

Maybe our expectations for the Ravens just got too out of whack after that 2012-2013 Super Bowl win.

We might have assumed they were impenetrable.

I hope they're learning something as they go along over there.

I'm starting to worry.

I mean, seriously worry.

2018 is a big, big year for the Ravens. It's a big year for the coach. And the quarterback. And the folks in the castle who put the puzzle together.

It's only mid-March, as lots of folks like to say, but the early results aren't all that favorable.

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my ncaa tournament week


As part of the team, as much as you can be when you’re not playing power forward or calling timeouts, I’ve been to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball championship only once.

The year was 2004, and the Princeton Tigers were seeded No. 14 in the Atlanta Region (1); our opponent was Texas, the No. 3 seed. I thought it was a decent matchup; the season before, in Austin, we’d taken the Longhorns to the wire before losing 57-54. A lot of the same players would be on the court for both teams.

I wasn’t totally wrong. We led at halftime, giving the crowd in Denver and the television audience something to root for. Alas, Texas outscored us 44-24 in the second half, we lost by 17 and another low-seeded underdog went by the wayside.

The game ended on a Thursday night, around 7:30 or so Mountain Time. The team left early the next morning. Less than a month later, our coach, John Thompson III, left to take over the Georgetown program his father once led to a national championship (2).

My week at the NCAA tournament, however, was just beginning.

When the tournament selections were announced four days earlier, I’d gotten lucky.

Not only would the Tigers be in Denver, so would the Terps.

Yes, the team I actually wanted to see would be there, in addition to the team my job required me to see.

Wait, did I say that out loud?

Not only did the author get to work the NCAA tournament and see his beloved Maryland play twice, he got to impart some Princenton hoops wisdom on Bonnie Bernstein (left) and Jim Nantz (right).

Nothing against our team, but that was my vocation, and we probably weren’t going to win. The Terps were my avocation, and we were on an epic hot streak.

I was excited about the Terps. They’d been outside the tournament looking in until a surprise run at the ACC tournament in Greensboro, when John Gilchrist got hot and led his team on an incredible run that finished with a stunning overtime win against Duke in the championship game (3).

So, they’d be in Denver, as a No. 4 seed, playing UTEP in the first round.

The Maryland-UTEP game was in the early window on the tournament’s first day. Since the game was in Denver, it was a really early window. As in 10:40 a.m., Mountain Time. I arrived at the arena at 10:30, nearly seven hours before the game I was being paid to attend.

The Terps, in typical fashion, would win a close game they should have put away a lot earlier. In the final seconds, UTEP had a chance at a tying three-point shot, but it was partially blocked and Maryland won 86-83.

Since I was in the arena already, I then stuck around to watch Syracuse beat BYU. Orange guard Gerry McNamara put on one of the great shooting displays I’d ever seen, making nine three-pointers on the way to 43 points. Maryland and Syracuse would meet on Saturday.

It was right about then that the Tigers arrived at the arena.

Oh, right. That was why I was there in the first place.

As I said before, we gave a good fight. We just didn’t make any shots, which a low seed from the Ivy League needs to do against a high seed from the Big 12 (4).

Personally, I was happy to have met CBS’s No. 1 broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Billy Packer. I think they’d been assigned to the Denver site because of the coaching star power in the building; in addition to Gary Williams and Jim Boeheim, Roy Williams was there in his first year as North Carolina’s coach. Besides that, Maryland and Syracuse were the two most recent NCAA champions.

There was more good fortune the next day, thanks to a New Jersey newspaper reporter named Bill Alden who had traveled to Denver. His good friend from an earlier life owned a sports bar on Blake Street in Denver, adjacent to Coors Field. We watched the day’s NCAA games from the bar, and I don’t remember having to go to my wallet at the end.

More luck came from the fact that my pass to the tournament didn’t expire when Princeton lost. I returned to the arena on Saturday to watch the Terps play the Orange, getting wry smiles from the members of the Baltimore media when they saw I was still in town.

Maryland’s luck ran out that day, unfortunately. The Terps fell behind by 16 points but came all the way back, only to lose 72-70 when D.J. Strawberry’s runner in the lane missed at the buzzer. The Terps had made the NCAA tournament for the 11th straight year and came close to making the Sweet 16 for the third year in a row.

Little did I know that Gary Williams would lead his team back to the tournament only three more times in the next seven seasons, losing in the second round each time (5).

14 years later, I’d like to thank the Princeton athletic department for paying for an extra two nights for me in a beautiful Denver hotel. I’d like to thank the NCAA travel department for rearranging my flights back home. I’d like to thank whomever makes the weather, which was 75 degrees and sunny in Colorado while it was cold and snowy back home (6).

One of the reasons I was happy to watch Maryland play was that my own schedule at Princeton often conflicted with Maryland’s games; I’d only see Maryland on television every few weeks. In fact, I’d missed the entire ACC championship game.

Though Thompson left, I thought we’d be headed back to the NCAA tournament a few more times in the next several years. Sadly, I was wrong. Princeton didn’t return to the tournament until 2011, and not again after that until last season.

What happened to some of the teams and coaches at the Denver site over the next several years? A lot, actually.

The following year, Roy Williams won the first of his three national championships in 15 years at UNC’s head coach.

Unlike Maryland, Syracuse has returned to the Final Four since that time, in both 2013 and 2016, but much of the time has seen the Orange on the bubble or in the NIT. Unlike Williams, Boeheim is still around, and he keeps delaying his retirement.

The UTEP coach, Billy Gillispie, was fired five years later at Kentucky, leading the way for the hiring of John Calipari.

Last but not least, Air Force, which lost to North Carolina, was coached by Joe Scott. Two weeks after Thompson left for Georgetown, Scott came back to Princeton (7), where he played and coached. Our next coach had been in the arena in Denver without anyone knowing it.

Thompson would lead Georgetown to the Final Four in 2007, but his time at the school ended in 2017 after a pair of losing seasons.

There are moments in time that you’ll always remember. Both Princeton and eventually Maryland lost in Denver, but I was lucky to have them together for a few days.

Notes

1 - For a few years, the NCAA named the regions not by area (East, South, etc.) but by the site of the regional (Atlanta, Phoenix, etc.).

2 - The younger Thompson took over for Craig Esherick, who was fired right before the 2004 NCAA tournament. JT3 spent the week answering more questions about whether he was headed to Georgetown than he did about the team at Princeton.

3 - Google the highlights of that game to see the young Duke fan crying in his father’s arms as the game ends. I could watch that every day for the rest of my life.

4 - Princeton made only 5 of 26 attempts from three-point range. Texas, meanwhile, finished 11 for 15 from behind the arc.

5 - I also didn’t know that the team would only go the tournament three times in Mark Turgeon’s first seven years, meaning only six appearances in the following 14 years.

6 - Random memory: I returned to the Philadelphia airport on the same day that Veterans Stadium was imploded, which was really strange to see during approach.

7 - Scott only coached three years at Princeton and had a record of 38-45 before heading back to Colorado, where he coached the University of Denver for nine years.

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the terps spotlight

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


dale's march madness preview


Two of the least productive work days for me start today at 12:15 pm and continue through Friday.

You're probably the same, right?

Not much gets done during the first two days of the NCAA tournament, affectionately known by the trademarked name of “March Madness”. I probably get less done on the first two days of the Masters than I do on the first two days of the NCAA tournament, but that’s only because the Masters starts around 8:00am, while the first hoop game tips off slightly after noon.

While upsets get the most attention, they are not the rule in the later rounds.

Since the tournament expended to 64 teams, 60% of the champions, and 41% of the final four participants, have been #1 seeds.

When it comes to the last weekend, chalk has prevailed. But this year could be different. In my mind, Virginia is the only unquestionable top-seed, and they just lost their valuable sixth man. The other #1 ones all have glaring weaknesses. I’m going to tell you why no number one seeds will make it to the final weekend.

IN THE SOUTH -Tennessee has an impressive resume. They beat Purdue and led North Carolina at the half. Their only loss to a team not in this tournament was at Georgia in a game where the “Dawgs” went to the foul line a whopping 38 times. I like this team.

The best squad Tennessee will face before getting to the finals of their Regional will be Cincinnati. Cincinnati is rugged, but don’t shoot well from the floor or foul line. Tennessee can beat Cincinnati and that would put them into a matchup with either Arizona Kentucky or Virginia.

I don't trust any one of those three teams to advance to the Regional final. Obviously one of them will but who would you take Arizona? Kentucky? Virginia?

Don't discount Tennessee, those boys can ball. As I stated above, they beat Purdue in overtime and also handed Kentucky two losses. If I’m anti-chalk then I’m going with the #3 seeded Vols.

IN THE EAST - Purdue most likely has to beat Texas Tech in order to get to their Regional final. On the other side of that bracket you have Wichita State, West Virginia, or Villanova. I know Villanova has some highly thought of talent, but the great wins aren't there from them this year. They could struggle with West Virginia and I actually think Wichita state has a chance against them.

It’s conceivable that a Purdue vs. Villanova match up will decide the region winner. Villanova is small. Haas will score whenever he wants and with Carson Edwards, lead Purdue to San Antonio.

IN THE WEST - North Carolina has the easiest ride imaginable to get to the Final Four. The best team they'll face before getting to their Regional final is Michigan (if Michigan can beat Houston), and that shouldn't be any problem for them.

On the other side of the bracket, Gonzaga, a 4 seed, will most likely have to go up against the 5 seed Ohio State. The ‘Zags killed Ohio State earlier this year, but the Buckeyes have improved dramatically since then. I think is Gonzaga is highly overrated this year and I can’t put them into the Final Four. They lack quality wins and I just am not impressed by them.

The number one seed in that bracket is Xavier. They're good, but they're not scary good. They might not beat Ohio State or Gonzaga. The Tar Heels walk into the Final Four. As a 2 seed, we’ll affectionately call them semi-chalk.

IN THE MIDWEST - #1 seed Kansas is very talented, but they come in with seven losses. Clemson is decent but they've lost a lot of games and Auburn is okay but really not impressive to me either.

Michigan State vs TCU will be a good second round contest, but Michigan State should beat them. That leaves us with Duke vs. Michigan State to advance to the Regional final.

The winner of that game will beat whoever's left at the top of that bracket (Kansas, Auburn, or Clemson) and go to the Final Four. I like Duke against the Spartans. First off, Duke already beat Michigan State once this year at Michigan State. They won by 7 points.

In that game, Duke's best player, Marvin Bagley, suffered an eye injury and only played played 10 minutes. He scored just 4 points. But, Duke still out-rebounded Michigan State 46-34 in that game.

The Blue Devils caused 17 Michigan State turnovers. Michigan State lost that game despite shooting 51% from the field. The Spartans also won a lot of games, against not great teams, by a small margin.

They beat Wisconsin twice, the first time by just three points and the second by only five. On the road, they struggled to beat Northwestern, Indiana, and Maryland. They are vulnerable. I know they have a good lineup but the Final Four is not in their cards. If these two teams meet again, Duke handles them and goes on to win the Midwest Regional final.

FINAL CALL: So there you have it. I’m on record as saying no #1 seeds make it to the final weekend. Three 2 seeds (North Carolina, Purdue, and Duke) and one 3 seed (Pudue) will fight it out for the Wooden Trophy. If you want some more “madness” I’ll leave you with this: the winner is....Purdue. Al McGuire would love their “Aircraft Carrier”.

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get in our hoops contest by 12:25 pm today!


If it's March, it's time to enjoy the madness.

And with a surprise Baltimore entry in this year's field, the tournament will be a tad more exciting to follow. At least until Friday.

The UMBC Retrievers will take on Virginia this Friday night (9:20 pm) in Charlotte, NC. UMBC is making their first trip to the big dance since 2008, when they fell to Georgetown in the opening round.

There was lots of noise around 7 pm last night once TBS got around to actually showing everyone the 68-team field for this year's NCAA tournament.

Davidson robbed Middle Tennessee State or some other deserving at-large candidate of their spot in the field when they shocked Rhode Island in the A-10 final to seal their trip to the big dance.

The four 5-12 games in the first round have the makings of some delicious upsets. Davidson will face Kentucky, San Diego State takes on Ohio State, Murray State gets West Virginia and New Mexico State plays Clemson.

I'll take a 12 to beat a 5 just because it seemingly always happens. Which one? Give me New Mexico State to beat Clemson.

You can click here for the 68-team bracket for those of you who need to use one for our #DMD contest. While you won't need to print this one out or anything (for our contest) it's always good to have one right in front of you.

As we did in each of the last two years, #DMD will host its own "Bracket Challenge" for this year's basketball tournament.

But it's not a "typical" bracket contest. We feel like you might be filled to the brim with those.

Instead, as you'll see below, we provide a different type of contest. You still have to know what you're doing -- or think you do, at least -- and you're still picking teams and winners and Final Four participants and the like. But it's not a traditional "fill out the bracket" kind of deal.


#DMD Bracket Challenge
No. Question Points
1 Will UMBC score more than 54.5 points vs. Virginia on Friday, March 16? 2
2 Will UMBC's Jairus Lyles score more than 22.5 points against Virginia? 2
3 Will a 5-seed lose to a 12-seed on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
4 Will at least one game go to overtime on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
5 Will there be a final margin of victory of at least 35.5 points in any game on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
6 Will at least one #1 or #2 seed fail to advance to the Sweet Sixteen? 3
7 List eight teams that will advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 2 pts. for each correct team;
5 bonus pts. if you go 8-for-8
8 Which #1 seed will lose first? 5
9 Which four teams will play in the Final Four? 5 pts. for each correct team;
10 bonus pts. if you go 4-for-4
10 Which team will win the NCAA title? 10

We don't have many rules around here, but we are a stickler for the rules when it comes to our bracket challenge. You see the questions above. Please follow the "entry form" in a very precise manner, as you see below. It makes it much easier for us to calculate your points when everyone fills in their entry in the same way. Below, you'll see MY answers.

Rule #1 -- In the subject line of your entry, please put "#DMD Hoops".

Rule #2 -- Please put your FULL NAME on the first line of your entry.

Rule #3 -- List your answers in the e-mail as you see I've done below:

1. No

2. No

3. Yes

4. Yes

5. Yes

6. Yes

7. Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Purdue, West Virginia, Villanova

8. Xavier

9. Virginia, Michigan, Villanova, Michigan State

10. Virginia

Rule #4 -- Send your entry to: dmdscore@gmail.com

That's it!

Prize chart

10th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

9th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

8th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

7th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

6th place -- 10 free breakfast cards from Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

5th place -- $50 Glory Days Grill gift card

4th place -- Four Orioles tickets for a 2018 home game

3rd place -- $75 Glory Days Grill gift card

2nd place -- Two Washington Capitals tickets for a 2018 playoff game

1st place -- $150 Glory Days Grill gift card

Let the madness begin!!!



#dmd comments


the cleat of reality     June 23
wow this Brien guy is a real Richard. who needs it? Goodbye forever DMD.

Fran Vojik     June 23
Drew, your comments about the Orioles crash-and-burn and its positive effect on the Ravens is spot on. I've been thinking the same thing since it became clear, probably in early May, that the Bird's season was a lost cause.



It reminds of me of a comment Brian Billick allegedly made back in the early to mid 2000's. This may be an urban legend of sorts, but he supposedly said that the Orioles existed to "take up time and space until Ravens training camp opened." No truer words have been spoken this year.



Frankly, I'm pumped for the 2018 Ravens season. Judging by the fact that 2,000 passes to training camp sold out in one day tells me others feel the same way.



A completely revamped receiver corps, a potentially healthy offensive line, a refocused Joe Flacco, and the addition by subtraction loss of Dean Pees, and an exciting 2018 draft class already has me ready for football. Could I be setting myself up for a emotional sack come the regular season? Sure. The schedule is much tougher this year and a realistic look at the schedule and the opponents makes me see the Ravens winning 8-9 games. But I am encouraged by the changes, the direction of the franchise, and the willingness of the front office to address some outstanding issues, something that's sadly missing in the Warehouse a couple of blocks away.



I enthusiastically renewed my Ravens season tickets for 2018; I won't be doing the same thing for my Orioles STP next spring. I'm done.

Max Berman     June 23
At DMD, Brien shows complete contempt for anyone who disagrees with him and attacks those who do. He vilifies everyone but Drew for being intellectually deficient if they don’t share his devotion to analytics. While his beloved analytics have value, his reliance on them display a simple mind, one unwilling or unable to produce a cogent argument that can’t be captured with a number. Sadly, calling commenters here illiterate or stupid, though uncivil, is much more articulate than those he disagrees with on twitter.

Chris in Bel Air     June 22
Great story Drew. Thanks for sharing. Regarding all this talk about analytics and launch angles, I just shake my head. Apparently we needed some made up stat like WAR to explain to that Babe Ruth and Mike Trout were/are really good at baseball. Ruth and Trout, got it. Sorry but I prefer the simplicity of the traditional stats - batting avg, HR's, RBI, runs scored, ERA, WHIP. When you do all those things well year after year, you're good. I feel like some of these nerds would argue how the guy who came in 3rd place in a 100 M sprint was actually the better runner because of some acceleration coefficient.

DR     June 22
Some real classy stuff from @Brien_Jackson on Twitter tonight. At least we know he likes to use the F-word a lot.

Theotherguy     June 22
That time machine response to @smart might be @Briens most savant-like response ever, the man is a literal genius

George     June 22
What Brien writes is actually true. The additional 450,000 fans who came every year to Yankee Stadium after the team got Babe Ruth wanted him to hit singles. “Come on, Babe, little bingle, “they yelled in unison. When he let them down with a home run, they yelled, “Anybody could do that, and Cobb will prove it in two games five years from now, ya bum!”

Cobb had the right idea. Who wanted to drive in runs with triples or even the godforsaken home run when you could get a single and let your teammates have the privilege and honor of driving you in? Runs merely won games – singles got you the coveted batting title. And being in the World Series was overrated for Cobb’s Tigers, who boycotted the Series during Ruth’s career.

And it’s a little known fact but Miller Huggins actually had a time machine. He and the Babe time-traveled to 2018 Alabama where the Bambino worked out for coaches of the Montgomery Biscuits of the AA Southern League. Tickets for the July 25th workout are $11,000,000 each, but what sports fan could afford not to be there?


dynamo     June 22
@Brien

I hope you've come to realize that your argument is nonsense. Ruth and his genetic lottery winning athletic ability "play" in any era.



Static analysis vs. Dynamic analysis. In the late 19th century,static analyts like you said to shut down the patent office "because everything that can be invented has been invented".

Brien Jackson     June 22
@IM Smart



No, I said Babe Ruth wouldn't make it in Double-A if you plucked him out of 1927 and brought him to 2018 with a time machine.

IM smart     June 22
@JJ Short version - Brien says Babe Ruth would be lucky to make it to AA if he lived today

J.J.     June 22
What is the debate about today? I can't go back and read everything, but I see @Brien is sparring with people. Can someone give me a quick summary?

Uncle Rico     June 22
Anyone remember when Brien predicted Jalen Ramsey would be a lousy NFL player?

I do.

Brien Jackson     June 22
If anyone is actually interested in the way large chunks of baseball resisted the home run, arguably the first instance of "analytics" altering approaches to the game. It includes the great anecdote of how Ty Cobb, who famously hated home runs, told a reporter that he'd prove they were easy to hit and then swatted 5 in 2 days, something Ruth had never done. And Cobb's view wasn't uncommon by any stretch, which is what's important to remember when you talk about the low home run totals in the rest of the league in those years.



https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/baseball-didnt-always-love-home-runs-heres-how-they-took-over-the-game/2017/10/26/08012630-b98f-11e7-be94-fabb0f1e9ffb_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c76d96e71e2d

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



Look, I know understanding words is harder for you than most, but putting everything in "21st century spectrum" is the EXACT opposite of what I said. As in that is literally what I said you *couldn't* do to compare athletes across two different eras. The point is not that Ruth wasn't great: The debate over the greatest of all time at the moment is limited to Ruth, Bonds, and Ted Williams. But "he hit more home runs than whole teams" and "he was a good pitcher too" have nothing to do with that, and tell you a lot more about the under developed state of the league in Ruth's time than they do about how Ruth compared to the greats of later eras. Lou Gehrig was a great college pitcher too. Mike Trout doesn't pitch too not because he's a far inferior athlete to Babe Ruth, but because the overall level of talent in professional and upper level amateur baseball is such that you have to specialize at a role to be able to do it.

LM     June 22
@Drew, I need you to talk with me 14 year old son. He is, as you say, afflicted with wanting to hit the ball a mile off the tee. I'm not sure where this came from but putting and chipping are a forgotten thing with this generation of golfers.

rc     June 22
@Brien

Are you serious? Newsreel of his swing? He was a SUPERIOR athlete. Just like all whacked out liberals you put EVERYTHING in 21st century spectrum. That way you can slam great men like Lincoln, Twain and Ford for using non PC terms. That is the laziest kind of historical vision. So,myopic is apt and so is dopey.

With today's coaching would Wilt Chamberlain been such a lousy foul shooter?

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



Have you seen newsreel of Ruth's swing? If you literally brought the guy to 2018 he wouldn't hack it in Double-A ball. Which is why you have to actually consider context, not just say "Babe Ruth hit more home runs than entire teams" as though it doesn't tell you as much about the rest of the league as it does about Ruth.

crab boy     June 22
@Herman, Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominant basketball player in the bygone days to which you refer. He also was an Olympic volleyball player. He is the closest physically to today's NBA'ers. Don't leave him out of your unclear references.

Lefty loosey     June 22
@Brien is great at twisting his alleged points into Pretzel Logic so that it makes it impossible to have a legitimate discussion. Of course, that's not what he wants, he just wants us to genuflect at his vastly superior "knowledge"

RC     June 22
@Brien

YOU wrote. "Looking at guy you know he doesn't translate to todays athletes" so a modern day Ruth would have been in an institution for wayward boys,would have been eating hot dogs and drinking like a fish. What a dopey conclusion.

Brien Jackson     June 22
@RC



"@Brien is so MYOPIC and has gone all in on some statistical models that TRY to be objective, but never turn out that way. If it is made my man than all of the biases of the man are baked into it. You worship the wrong God."



Ummm....Babe Ruth is the all-time leader in WAR. Try being a little less....myopic.



@Herman



This is rather amusing considering that, you know, you're not actually bothering to compare one era to another at all when you cite a number like Russell's titles.

ray ray     June 22
brien left when facts arrived.

RC     June 22
When it comes to all of these debates, they are pointless but fun.

Step back and really try @Brien and get some perspective. If you think that Babe Ruth was a fat pig, than you just are the laziest kind of guy. Until he was in his mid 30's he wasn't FAT, he was barrel chested and take a gander at the team photos of the Yankee teams. He and Gehrig were just WAY bigger than the other guys. If you think that Ruth was not a superior athlete, than you are either mis-informed or the fool we all think you are.



He was fast, great arm, powerful and unique for the time. 6'3 and 215.

Cobb 6'1" 175

Walter Johnson 6'1" 195

Gehrig 6'0 200

Tris Speaker 5'11 190



He was a big dude who was a fantastic athlete and certainly the best, biggest guy of his time. Not William Bendix, Goodman or the even Ruth at the end of his career. IF he would have been of today, he would be better at nutrition and other things......so he might be 245 and strong and agile.



HOW come Frank Robinson was the only guy to hit a ball out of Memorial Stadium? At the end of it's run, there were steroid guys, yet that bandy legged, powerful forearm guy with a super strong shoulder turn was the only guy to have the timing and power to hit one that far. Some of Mantle's shots are longer than what is/was ever hit.



Brien is so MYOPIC and has gone all in on some statistical models that TRY to be objective, but never turn out that way. If it is made my man than all of the biases of the man are baked into it. You worship the wrong God.

Just another moron     June 22
There you go, another accolade for the Babe, he invented the concept of launch angle!

Gotta love the "I have no time for you people today" retort, translation is clearly "I can't win this idiotic proclamation, let's all just move on


Kyle Severn     June 22
New to the party here, but how does the story about a kid golfing morph into a discussion about whether or not Babe Ruth was any good?



Can someone clear that up for me?

HERMAN     June 22
lost in translation in the comments section today, hijacked by Brian Jackson, was the point I was making about the current generations lack of ability to credit anyone who played before 1990 in any sport. Bill Russell and his 11 championships in a 13 year career? Lebron, no Michael, no Lebron, no my dad says Michael. Russell never gets a mention. And now we have a vote for Mike Trout as the GOAT in baseball. Based on some new metric analysis.

Has anyone under 40 ever even heard of Jim Thorpe, arguably one of the greatest athletes in our history?

No.

This generation, and their parents think bringing up Bill Russell or even our old hometown Bullets and Earl the Pearl is geezering over has-beens, as if they couldn't possibly compete with today's bigger, stronger, faster athletes.

It's a myopic point of view.

They wouldn't pick Bill Russell in their top 12. He hasn't been on "SportsCenter".

George     June 22
@Brien – Excellent piece of condescension!

The oldest surviving treatise we have that describes the concept of launch angle was written by Archimedes sometime around 250 BC in a work we now call “Geometrical Solutions Derived from Mechanics.”


Brien Jackson     June 22
I've got no real energy for the "no one can be better than Babe Ruth" brigade today, but it's kind of amusing that Ruth is the originator of launch angle as a concept.

George     June 22
@Brien -- If you don't count the homers Ruth hit at Yankee Stadium, he still leads the league in four seasons during the 1920s.

George     June 22
“. . . and you really only have to look at the guy to know that a direct comparison to modern athletes is useless.”

How wrong can you be? Ruth would have made it into the Hall of Fame even if he had never swung a bat. He was 94-46 with an ERA of 2.28. He gave up 10 home runs in 10 years, a staggering total of one a year! He started 147 games and completed 107 of them.

Brien, you’re probably thinking of John Goodman, who wasn’t Babe Ruth but played him in a movie.

George Herman Ruth     June 22
apparently I did not hit HR's in other balls parks....who is this guy and where is Orky

Sean     June 22
Great article Drew. I'm sharing with my friends. Love your coaching philosophies.

crack reporter     June 22
Always love @Brien's fact based reporting, which allows him to confidently state the reason for Flacco's decisions, presumably based on his interviews with Flacco and/or Ravens coaches. Definitely impressed that he still has notes from all his exhaustive reporting done during the 1927 season so that he and he alone can clarify what transpired that season, which can easily refute others who have only read or "heard" things. #DMD is lucky to have such a resource on staff.

BO     June 22
@Brien Jackson



Hate to pile on, but you're dead wrong. My son pays college baseball at Virginia Tech. They teach launch angle as a method for players driving the baseball.

DR (the original)     June 22
It's definitely interesting how statistical analysis can make a difference in decision making.

There would have been a time when Kevin Huerter would never have sniffed the first round. But he is a great shooter with long range, which is now of incredible value.

As for "feel," I'm not so sure that has anything to do with it. There are really good players and ones that aren't so good, just like there always have been.

Brien Jackson     June 22
@Herman



I love these arguments. The Yankees built a stadium with a wall specifically so that Ruth could hit home runs at a time when lots of baseball people still thought home runs were an offense against the game. Ruth's relative home run total is not really as impressive as people make it out to be, and you really only have to look at the guy to know that a direct comparison to modern athletes is useless.

Jason M     June 22
@bj - I think extra work with receivers is UNDERRATED. I respect what Joe has accomplished, but with the CBA limiting what guys can do in practice, and chance for these guys to put in work will pay off. WHy this hasn't happened in the past is beyond me, and the one bone I would pick with Joe. #52 is going into Canton this summer - how much of his career and success and the chemistry of those teams he was on would have existed without extra work. No matter the reason, I am excited to hear Flacco and the receivers are putting in some extra work. Like the extra work the season ticket holders put in to pay for their seats?

Steve from Cape Coral     June 22
@ Drew, Although I do not play golf, even living in Florida, I enjoyed reading the story about the 12 year old kid. Who knows, a CHC recruit in 2 years ???

Mike from catonsville     June 22
Betting that poor kid will be on anti- depressants and seeking therapy before he’s 18. Typical of kids not allowed to be kids anymore. Wish the young man well but his parents will drive him straight to Prozac .

DELRAY RICK     June 22
DREW---What a great article bout young golfers wanting to DRIVE THE BALL FURTHER.When i lived near PINE RIDGE so many many people were hitting drivers. Me, i am pitc hing,pitching. ITS THE SHORT GAME!!!! Iam not a long hitter but when i play with friends i usually get in the hole first. I would love to hit it further but thats the way it is. Taught my wife to play (we are still married). I keep telling her its the short game.

HERMAN     June 22
sorry for the typo, 1927

HERMAN     June 22
On ESPN they debate Lebron-Jordan GOAT every hour, on-the-hour. Stat geeks now use some newly made metric to claim Mike Trout the baseball GOAT. Any football conversation quickly devolves into Brady, Brady, Brady.

I do note that all past performances beyond the beginning of ESPN have been rendered out of the conversation. As if "history" began the day a signal beamed out of Connecticut.

As for GOAT, allow me to bring up an amazing statistic here.In 2927 The Babe hit 60 homers. No single team of players in the league combined for 60. He hit more homers by himself, than any single team could accomplish combined.

And he saved baseball from the "Blacksox" scandal. Where baseball is concerned I'm sure this Trout is a talent. GOAT?

Let's try to keep things in perspective. In baseball there is Babe Ruth. The conversation beyond him should start at number 11, he is all the top 10 spots combined.

Chris K     June 22
Drew,



That was a really interesting story about coaching the young kid. I’m not a golf fan at all but you really do seem like a great coach for young players. Calvert Hall is lucky to have you. I feel for the kid because it seems his helicopter parents are way too intense and taking some of the fun out of the sport the kid seems to love. This isn’t an indictment on them alone. It seems like too many parents are taking kids fun away because they want them to be the next great star of whatever sport they’re into. I simply hope that kid can just block out the noise, have fun and compete to the best of his ability.

Brien Jackson     June 22
Exit velocity and launch angle aren't really "analytics," they're measurements. They have nothing to do with statistical analysis or theory, and everything to do with the way teams are using camera tech to measure the minute details of the game now.

George     June 21
@David – Another problem with taking sports betting out of the free marketplace and putting it under government control is that costs to bettors will necessarily increase. When control of the numbers game passed from local men’s “social clubs” to state capitols, the payout to winners decreased from 600 for one to 500 for one, raising the cost per bet 25%. While this makes little difference on an individual bet, the overall cost over time to the betting population is enormous.

In addition to increased costs brought on by general government inefficiency, the cost to sports bettors will also be increased by the NFL and other leagues who see the opportunity to claw out a few extra billions to pay for a bureaucracy that will protect players from fixers.

Josh     June 21
They’re playing soccer??

Idiot Caller     June 21
If I had to wager on it, I would bet that the Orioles don't have a new GM in place and therefore don't end up trading away any significant pieces by the trade deadline. That is also VERY Oriole-ish.

I'm interested in it, but I have not watch very much of the World Cup this year. Just bits and pieces on the weekend. The games are being played at times that just don't workout with my work schedule. I don't care if the USA team is in or not.

Just asking, but has the LF released any of his "Letters to the Orioles" yet? The radio pontificating about them has been (unintentionally) funny enough, but I can't wait to actually try to read them myself!


RC     June 21
You're right Drew. Not trading anyone would be very typical of the Orioles. Of all the guys who are available, Jones might be the one who gets the most attention. Just my opinion.

crab boy     June 21
Sports betting should be legalized. You mention sports betting ruining all aspects of life. Very true! However, if one wants to place a sports bet now, that person can. The person can bet with some bookie he knows who may be just fine but may also be a nefarious character who allows one to get in way over their head and encouraging doubling down on an unpaid bet, compounding the problem.



If the states legalize and regulate it, the sports gambler (which I am not) has to put up the cash for the bet prior to the event. This makes it safer for the bettor in many ways and the states can tax winnings. The bettor doesn't need to worry about Moose and Rocco coming for his car.

unitastoberry     June 21
Not surprising to me at all the Orioles would let all the free agents contracts expire without trading them for prospects even the good ones. Look you never know whats going on with the Orioles. They got that much down. But if memory serves me correct did they not let Mussina walk without trading him for a few prospects? Don't they get compensory draft picks which equal less payroll aka confederate money?

Wednesday
March 14
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issue 14
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this is their idea of "making a splash"?


I must have missed it.

When did the Ravens suddenly become the Orioles?

Ouch...I guess that is kind of a low blow.

But it seems kind of true, to me at least. Given the ability to land high quality, much needed "impact" players, the Ravens on Tuesday instead opted for two guys you've never heard of -- John Brown, the oft-injured speedster formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, and Ryan Grant, who parlayed a relatively pedestrian 4-year run with the Redskins into a whopper of a $29 million deal with John Harbaugh's team.

These are the guys the Orioles would sign in lieu of two players of higher value.

The difference, of course, comes in the form of the salary cap, which essentially doesn't exist in baseball, but wraps itself around the neck of NFL teams and pulls tightly when given the opportunity.

And, based on the two signings on Tuesday, the python that is the NFL salary cap has suffocated the Ravens.

Or has it?

The obvious first train-of-thought when it comes to dissecting the Brown and Ryan deals is to simply say, "this is the best the team could do given their cap situation" and that very much might be true.

The team had to cut the likes of Lardarius Webb, Danny Woodhead and Austin Howard just to get themselves in position to add Brown and Ryan, so it's fairly obvious that the Ravens are in a bind when it comes to balancing "the book" that is the league salary cap.

This is one of the 84 career catches Ryan Grant has made. The Ravens gave him $29 million, including $14.5 million guaranteed, on Tuesday.

And there are more cuts to come, I bet. Jeremy Maclin is probably either going to have to re-work his deal (my prediction) or he'll get the axe as well. Don't be shocked to see another prominent veteran get the heave-ho, too.

But is there something else going on?

Allen Robinson.

Sammy Watkins.

Jimmy Graham

Any or all three would have helped the Ravens.

Assuming that the Ravens actually wanted those three, it's certainly worth wondering this: Why didn't they choose Baltimore?

Graham, I guess, is understandable.

He chose Aaron Rodgers over Joe Flacco. I would as well. No issues there.

But the other two?

Robinson thinks he has a better chance of flourishing in Chicago with Mitch Trubisky?

And Watkins believes Patrick Mahomes can do more for him than could Flacco and the Baltimore offense?

Ouch...again

Robinson got $42 million from the Bears. That's a lot of dough for a guy coming off an ACL injury.

But the Ravens turned around and gave $29 million to a guy with -- I actually triple checked this to make sure it was right -- a grand total of 84 catches in his career.

So before we go making fun of the Bears for giving a "good" wide receiver $42 million, we should hesitate like Steph Curry at the 3-point line and check our own receipt. We just gave a dude $29 million (potential earnings) who has career totals that would barely impress Tandon Doss.

This is all meant to answer the question I asked above: "But is there something else going on?"

Are the Ravens that unattractive of a destination these days that guys are choosing the Bears and Chiefs over John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco?

Is Harbaugh's future and the uncertainty of it hurting the team's chances of signing impact players?

Is Flacco's 11-year run failing to impress players and agents alike?

Is it Marty Mornhinweg and his bag of tricks that no one's buying?

Or, could it be that Baltimore itself is hurting the Ravens? Are people hesitant to move here if other options exist because of the on-going stories about crime and the murder rate?

It might have been overblown a bit, but let's not forget that in 2008 when the Ravens were looking for a new coach, the team offered the gig to Jason Garrett, and his wife reportedly put the kabosh on the whole thing after a staffer drove her around Owings Mills to look at available houses and she wasn't impressed with the area.

That was a long time ago and "looking for a house" and reviewing the crime rate of the city are two totally different things, but the point is that stuff like that does matter to people.

Maybe it's a little bit of everything?

Or, perhaps it's just this simple: The Ravens' salary cap is really limiting their ability to get high level, elite players.

Whatever the case, the signings of Brown and Grant are likely not going to do much of anything for the community's enthusiasm level. No one really knows who those two guys are, and once you quickly browse their stats and career accomplishments, you're even less impressed.

Steve Bisciotti said at his February press conference that the team was going to "make a splash" in free agency.

None of us realized at the time there'd only be a few inches of water in the pool.

This isn't a splash. It's flicking a handful of water on your girlfriend while you're in the pool and she's laying on the deck in a lounge chair.

I would never accuse the Ravens of "not trying". Their track record is too good to earn that sort of kick to the family jewels.

But this, so far, has been a dud of a free agency signing spree for the Ravens. They needed to get much better. They needed to add some high quality guys. Instead, they added parity.

I get it. That albatross contract they gave to Flacco in 2013 and the extension that followed continues to tighten around their throat. There have been other "back loaded" deals that have come back to haunt them as well. Ray Rice, Haloti Ngata...and more.

You can't do things the salary cap won't allow you to do.

And when your team is 40-40 over the last five years and the head coach is on shaky ground and the quarterback is likely in the October of his career -- it all adds up to Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes being a better option.

That's what it's like to be the Ravens these days.

You want really good players but you can't get them.

If you didn't know better, you'd think it was the baseball team we we're discussing.

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fantasy golf picks for bay hill


OK, so here's the very obvious, no questions asked "good news" about my fantasy picks for this week's PGA Tour in Orlando.

There's no way possible that my 6-man team this week will be worse than the one I handed out last week.

No way.

Fantasy golf and "real" golf are a lot alike. You simply never know. How was I to know that Jordan Spieth, a previous winner at Innisbrook and a guy with a terrific record at the Valspar, would get run out of the gym by the Tiger-train on Thursday and Friday and miss the cut?

I'm sure Spieth was shocked to play that poorly. Me and the 21.9% of the folks who played him last week were, too.

It happens. Golf's a whacky game. And so is fantasy golf, where you need to hit on a few of the top players who are in the field but also choose a few "off the radar" screen guys and hope they do the trick for you as well.

Remember, your goal in putting together a team is to first try and find six guys who will make the cut. You can't make money in Fantasy Golf if only four of six make the cut.

So, with the TOUR moving to Arnie's tournament at Bay Hill, let's look at the field and get you six cut-makers who will make you some money.

At just $8,200, Louis Oosthuizen is a "must play" on your fantasy golf roster for this week's event at Bay Hill in Orlando.

There's simply no reason to avoid picking Tiger Woods this week. He's won at Bay Hill eight times previously, he's coming off a T2 at the Valspar, and his tee-to-green game last week was far better than anyone else in the field.

You have to take Woods. Right?

Well, we're not.

I'll probably kick myself on Sunday night, but I'm banking that Tiger's still not in game shape enough to go back-to-back weeks firing on all cylinders. This is all still a feeling out process for him and I'm curious to see how he responds physically to playing in consecutive weeks.

So, we'll pass on Woods for the official "#DMD team" although I'm certainly going to play Tiger in one of the five teams I play this week.

We're going to stay on the Alex Noren train and play him as our most expensive guy at $9,200. He's 10-for-10 in cuts made, has a playoff loss in San Diego and another top 10 in the last month, and at some point real soon, he's going to win a golf tournament. This might be the week. I'm hot on this guy's heels until he trunk slams on Friday and misses a cut.

I like the way Adam Scott is starting to play, just in time for a trip to Augusta National in early April. Putting is always the key for him, but he's a Florida resident now and the putting surfaces at Bay Hill shouldn't be an issue for him. He costs us $8,700.

We can sneak one more expensive player on our roster, so let's go with Brian Harman, who is 8-for-9 in cuts made this year and is also someone, like Noren, who is showing signs of winning soon. I like this kid, a lot. He's a grinder and a fighter and I can see him being there on Sunday when the leaders reach the back nine.

Now, we have to make some good picks.

With $23,800 remaining, let's go with James Hahn at $7,600. He's 9-for-9 in cuts made this year and, as he showed once at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, big tournaments and impressive fields don't rattle him. I think he's one of the best kept secrets on TOUR.

I also like the way Charl Schwartzel is playing recently. He's also 9-for-9 in cuts made and his name has recently popped up on a weekend leaderboard or two. And, here's the good news, at just $7,300, he leaves us with $8,700 to spend on ONE player.

When I plug in the name Louis Oosthuizen, I see he costs me just $8,200. That leaves us with $500 to go back and tinker with if we want...

Oosthuizen, like Schwartzel, is a veteran campaigner who basically ramps his game up for all the major championships. He makes a lot of cuts and is always a threat to finish in the top five because his hot-streaks-with-the-putter aren't "just" hot, they're scorching.

We have $500 left to play with, which means we could substitute someone out of our lineup and go with a more expensive guy, but I like our guys, as Buck Showalter would say.

Others to consider and play this week include: Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Jason Kokrak, Luke List, William McGirt, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Aaron Wise, Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim.

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take dad to the u.s. open


#DMD is putting together a special one-day trip to the U.S. Open on June 15 at Shinnecock Hills GC on Long Island (NY) and we'd love for you to be part of it with us!

We're billing it as a "Day with Dad", but you certainly don't have to bring your father along. We just think it will be fun if you do!

Defending champion Brooks Koepka will be in the field at Shinnecock Hills on June 15 when #DMD travels to Long Island for the second round of this year's U.S. Open.

We're heading to Shinnecock Hills to see the second round of the 2018 U.S. Open, departing Baltimore at 5:00 and arriving at the course roughly around 9:00 am. We'll spend the whole day on the course watching the best players in the world play on one of our nation's most iconic golf courses.

If you've never seen Shinnecock Hills in person, this is a must-do opportunity to experience one of our nation's most breathaking and scenic courses.

Our luxury motor coach will be limited to just 40 passengers, giving everyone room to spread out and enjoy the ride to Long Island. We'll enjoy breakfast, drinks and snacks on the ride to the course and we'll have more food and drinks for everyone on the ride home.

Oh, and there's U.S. Open trivia as well! A $100 cash prize is available for our trivia contest, so brush up on those needless facts about the U.S. Open.

Bring Dad along for a truly special day together at the U.S. Open. All of the best players in the world will be there...and the two of you can watch the tournament on Saturday or Sunday with the experience of having just walked the famous layout.

#DMD golf trips like this one are also excellent for employee and client reward. If you have a golfer or two that work in your business or if there's a special client you'd like to treat, we promise we'll great care of them on the trip to Shinnecock Hills!

For pricing and payment details go here.

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let the madness begin with #dmd's hoops bracket challenge


If it's March, it's time to enjoy the madness.

And with a surprise Baltimore entry in this year's field, the tournament will be a tad more exciting to follow. At least until Friday.

The UMBC Retrievers will take on Virginia this Friday night (9:20 pm) in Charlotte, NC. UMBC is making their first trip to the big dance since 2008, when they fell to Georgetown in the opening round.

There was lots of noise around 7 pm last night once TBS got around to actually showing everyone the 68-team field for this year's NCAA tournament.

Davidson robbed Middle Tennessee State or some other deserving at-large candidate of their spot in the field when they shocked Rhode Island in the A-10 final to seal their trip to the big dance.

The four 5-12 games in the first round have the makings of some delicious upsets. Davidson will face Kentucky, San Diego State takes on Ohio State, Murray State gets West Virginia and New Mexico State plays Clemson.

I'll take a 12 to beat a 5 just because it seemingly always happens. Which one? Give me New Mexico State to beat Clemson.

You can click here for the 68-team bracket for those of you who need to use one for our #DMD contest. While you won't need to print this one out or anything (for our contest) it's always good to have one right in front of you.

As we did in each of the last two years, #DMD will host its own "Bracket Challenge" for this year's basketball tournament.

But it's not a "typical" bracket contest. We feel like you might be filled to the brim with those.

Instead, as you'll see below, we provide a different type of contest. You still have to know what you're doing -- or think you do, at least -- and you're still picking teams and winners and Final Four participants and the like. But it's not a traditional "fill out the bracket" kind of deal.


#DMD Bracket Challenge
No. Question Points
1 Will UMBC score more than 54.5 points vs. Virginia on Friday, March 16? 2
2 Will UMBC's Jairus Lyles score more than 22.5 points against Virginia? 2
3 Will a 5-seed lose to a 12-seed on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
4 Will at least one game go to overtime on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
5 Will there be a final margin of victory of at least 35.5 points in any game on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
6 Will at least one #1 or #2 seed fail to advance to the Sweet Sixteen? 3
7 List eight teams that will advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 2 pts. for each correct team;
5 bonus pts. if you go 8-for-8
8 Which #1 seed will lose first? 5
9 Which four teams will play in the Final Four? 5 pts. for each correct team;
10 bonus pts. if you go 4-for-4
10 Which team will win the NCAA title? 10

We don't have many rules around here, but we are a stickler for the rules when it comes to our bracket challenge. You see the questions above. Please follow the "entry form" in a very precise manner, as you see below. It makes it much easier for us to calculate your points when everyone fills in their entry in the same way. Below, you'll see MY answers.

Rule #1 -- In the subject line of your entry, please put "#DMD Hoops".

Rule #2 -- Please put your FULL NAME on the first line of your entry.

Rule #3 -- List your answers in the e-mail as you see I've done below:

1. No

2. No

3. Yes

4. Yes

5. Yes

6. Yes

7. Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Purdue, West Virginia, Villanova

8. Xavier

9. Virginia, Michigan, Villanova, Michigan State

10. Virginia

Rule #4 -- Send your entry to: dmdscore@gmail.com

That's it!

Prize chart

10th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

9th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

8th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

7th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

6th place -- 10 free breakfast cards from Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

5th place -- $50 Glory Days Grill gift card

4th place -- Four Orioles tickets for a 2018 home game

3rd place -- $75 Glory Days Grill gift card

2nd place -- Two Washington Capitals tickets for a 2018 playoff game

1st place -- $150 Glory Days Grill gift card

Let the madness begin!!!



Tuesday
March 13
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issue 13
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should ravens be consumed with steelers, browns and bengals?


I know it's only mid-March and NFL free agency is just getting underway.

And the draft doesn't come around for another five weeks or so.

But should the Ravens be worried about their friends in the AFC North and the staggering chasm, presently, between the offensive unit in Baltimore and those in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati?

Or is it too early to fret over the rosters of the "other three" in the division?

We all understand why the Orioles are hesitant to sign any prominent free agents in the off-season. They're always looking for a bargain.

It's official! With the Browns' recent acquisition of Jarvis Landry, the Ravens now have the worst pass catching group in the AFC North.

I'd like to think the Ravens will have a different approach than the baseball team.

The Ravens have a salary cap to worry about, so that easily could be what stymies them this spring, but all things being equal, shouldn't Ozzie Newsome and Company be prepared to fork over big bucks for some guys who can catch the football?

Yet, their first move on Monday was spending money on an offensive lineman.

They re-signed offensive lineman James Hurst yesterday, giving him a four-year deal. That would probably mean the Ravens aren't going to re-sign Ryan Jensen, so they'll either need to draft someone to take Jensen's spot or sign someone in free agency.

I'd rather they draft a Jensen replacement and spend more money on receivers and/or a quality tight end.

Yes, yes, I'm doing the armchair general manager thing a little bit, but everyone else is either doing something to get better or already better...and our boys in purple are clearly lagging behind.

Let's look at the AFC North, shall we?

I know they're the Browns and all -- and it's likely that anything they do will backfire on them -- but at some point Cleveland is going to improve by accident, right?

Who knows if Jarvis Landry will be the game-changer with the Browns that we thought he might have been in Baltimore, but the fact remains they've put their best foot forward in trying to upgrade their offense.

The Bengals' skill position offensive players are already better than anything we have in Baltimore. Sure, we like to think our quarterback is better than their quarterback, but the reality is Cincinnati's offense on the whole is a notch above what the Ravens have at their disposal.

And we won't bring up the Steelers, since that would be an unfair fight.

How are the Ravens going to enter the 2018 season with an offense comparable to what we'll see in Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati? Free agency participation is a must, and so, too, is the draft. If the Ravens choose a defensive player with their first round pick, I'll have no option but to accuse them of trolling their fan base.

I can't imagine the Browns will be a threat in 2018, but we know the division title goes through Pittsburgh. And the Bengals, as goofy as they are, are always capable of doing something unexpected, like make the playoffs out of nowhere or complete a 4th and 12 pass with nothing at all to play for in the final game of the regular season.

The data over the last five years shows a team with a 5-1 division mark is a certainty to make the playoffs and a 4-2 mark will get you in just about every time. A 3-3 division record was good enough a couple of times recently, although more years than not, finishing .500 in the AFC North won't get you into the post-season.

In other words: You need to beat the teams in your division.

Right now, it's hard to say -- honestly -- that Baltimore is a better bet for 2018 than the Bengals and Steelers. There's lots of time to improve, obviously, but the other teams try too, remember.

If I'm the Ravens, I'm paying attention to what they're doing in Cleveland, even. They're obviously trying to get better. Tyrod Taylor is definitely an upgrade over DeShone Kizer, even though Taylor is still probably the worst starting quarterback in the division.

What if Cleveland gets good? Previously, they were two automatic wins per-season.

I'm certainly not suggesting that the Ravens spend their entire off-season mapping out a specific plan to beat Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland, since there are ten other games to worry about along the way.

But the numbers don't lie. If you go 5-1 or 4-2 in the division, you stand a fair chance of making the post-season. To wit, the Ravens finished 3-3 in the division in 2017. If they would have defeated Cincinnati on December 31st at home, they would have gone 4-2 and -- voila! -- made the post-season.

So the Ravens can attack it one of two ways. They can try and fortify their defense and work hard at beating the Steelers 17-13 twice next season. They can get stronger in the secondary and not let Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd beat them.

Or, they can improve their offense to the point where they're able to go toe-to-toe with not only their division rivals, but everyone else in the league as well.

I'm checking off the box that says, "Improve the offense".

Let's see if the Ravens feel the same way.

We'll know shortly, since free agency is upon us and a handful of exceptional offensive players will be available. If the Ravens can add a guy like Allen Robinson and/or Jimmy Graham, they'll be on their way.

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give o's a hand for their "free kids" ticket idea


It might only be temporary, or, as the fine print says, "subject to review on a monthly basis", but the Orioles announced an awesome 2018 ticketing initiative on Monday.

Any adult purchasing an upper deck seat can bring up to two children ages 9 and under to the game and get FREE admission for both of them.

That's one way to spike attendance.

Those empty upper deck seats figure to be a bit more filled in 2018 with the new ticket program the Orioles announced on Monday.

And a smart way, too.

It shows that the Orioles are actually paying attention to the empty seats and hearing the message that's sent whenever a stadium chair is left unoccupied.

My guess is if the team plays above expectations and the ballpark starts filling up a bit in June or July, the program might get put on hold. But for April, at least, you'll be able to take two children (ages 9 and under) to the game free of charge, providing you're OK with sitting in the upper deck.

I saw a few sarcastic tweets on Monday from folks who didn't appreciate being pigeon-holed into buying upper level tickets. Really? The team gives out two free tickets and you're griping about having to sit upstairs?

It's all good by me.

I'm personally not an "upper level" guy unless that's all that's available, but I certainly appreciate the Orioles' effort in making a game more affordable. And I'd never criticize them for doing the right thing.

Make no mistake about it: This program is "the right thing".

There are twenty or thirty nights a year -- nearly 1/3 of the team's home schedule I'd say -- where about 90% of the upper deck sits empty. You know those games...Monday and Tuesday nights, primarily, when the Rays or Jays are in town and there's just not much enthusiasm for a ballgame on a sweltering 94 degree night.

But, allowing me to buy a $15.00 ticket and bring my 7-year old daughter in free of charge? Everyone wins in that scenario.

Now if they'll just add another starting pitcher or two, maybe we'll all be going to a lot more games in 2018.

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take dad to the u.s. open


#DMD is putting together a special one-day trip to the U.S. Open on June 15 at Shinnecock Hills GC on Long Island (NY) and we'd love for you to be part of it with us!

We're billing it as a "Day with Dad", but you certainly don't have to bring your father along. We just think it will be fun if you do!

Defending champion Brooks Koepka will be in the field at Shinnecock Hills on June 15 when #DMD travels to Long Island for the second round of this year's U.S. Open.

We're heading to Shinnecock Hills to see the second round of the 2018 U.S. Open, departing Baltimore at 5:00 and arriving at the course roughly around 9:00 am. We'll spend the whole day on the course watching the best players in the world play on one of our nation's most iconic golf courses.

If you've never seen Shinnecock Hills in person, this is a must-do opportunity to experience one of our nation's most breathaking and scenic courses.

Our luxury motor coach will be limited to just 40 passengers, giving everyone room to spread out and enjoy the ride to Long Island. We'll enjoy breakfast, drinks and snacks on the ride to the course and we'll have more food and drinks for everyone on the ride home.

Oh, and there's U.S. Open trivia as well! A $100 cash prize is available for our trivia contest, so brush up on those needless facts about the U.S. Open.

Bring Dad along for a truly special day together at the U.S. Open. All of the best players in the world will be there...and the two of you can watch the tournament on Saturday or Sunday with the experience of having just walked the famous layout.

#DMD golf trips like this one are also excellent for employee and client reward. If you have a golfer or two that work in your business or if there's a special client you'd like to treat, we promise we'll great care of them on the trip to Shinnecock Hills!

For pricing and payment details go here.

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let the madness begin with #dmd's hoops bracket challenge


If it's March, it's time to enjoy the madness.

And with a surprise Baltimore entry in this year's field, the tournament will be a tad more exciting to follow. At least until Friday.

The UMBC Retrievers will take on Virginia this Friday night (9:20 pm) in Charlotte, NC. UMBC is making their first trip to the big dance since 2008, when they fell to Georgetown in the opening round.

There was lots of noise around 7 pm last night once TBS got around to actually showing everyone the 68-team field for this year's NCAA tournament.

Davidson robbed Middle Tennessee State or some other deserving at-large candidate of their spot in the field when they shocked Rhode Island in the A-10 final to seal their trip to the big dance.

The four 5-12 games in the first round have the makings of some delicious upsets. Davidson will face Kentucky, San Diego State takes on Ohio State, Murray State gets West Virginia and New Mexico State plays Clemson.

I'll take a 12 to beat a 5 just because it seemingly always happens. Which one? Give me New Mexico State to beat Clemson.

You can click here for the 68-team bracket for those of you who need to use one for our #DMD contest. While you won't need to print this one out or anything (for our contest) it's always good to have one right in front of you.

As we did in each of the last two years, #DMD will host its own "Bracket Challenge" for this year's basketball tournament.

But it's not a "typical" bracket contest. We feel like you might be filled to the brim with those.

Instead, as you'll see below, we provide a different type of contest. You still have to know what you're doing -- or think you do, at least -- and you're still picking teams and winners and Final Four participants and the like. But it's not a traditional "fill out the bracket" kind of deal.


#DMD Bracket Challenge
No. Question Points
1 Will UMBC score more than 54.5 points vs. Virginia on Friday, March 16? 2
2 Will UMBC's Jairus Lyles score more than 22.5 points against Virginia? 2
3 Will a 5-seed lose to a 12-seed on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
4 Will at least one game go to overtime on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
5 Will there be a final margin of victory of at least 35.5 points in any game on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
6 Will at least one #1 or #2 seed fail to advance to the Sweet Sixteen? 3
7 List eight teams that will advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 2 pts. for each correct team;
5 bonus pts. if you go 8-for-8
8 Which #1 seed will lose first? 5
9 Which four teams will play in the Final Four? 5 pts. for each correct team;
10 bonus pts. if you go 4-for-4
10 Which team will win the NCAA title? 10

We don't have many rules around here, but we are a stickler for the rules when it comes to our bracket challenge. You see the questions above. Please follow the "entry form" in a very precise manner, as you see below. It makes it much easier for us to calculate your points when everyone fills in their entry in the same way. Below, you'll see MY answers.

Rule #1 -- In the subject line of your entry, please put "#DMD Hoops".

Rule #2 -- Please put your FULL NAME on the first line of your entry.

Rule #3 -- List your answers in the e-mail as you see I've done below:

1. No

2. No

3. Yes

4. Yes

5. Yes

6. Yes

7. Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Purdue, West Virginia, Villanova

8. Xavier

9. Virginia, Michigan, Villanova, Michigan State

10. Virginia

Rule #4 -- Send your entry to: dmdscore@gmail.com

That's it!

Prize chart

10th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

9th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

8th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

7th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

6th place -- 10 free breakfast cards from Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

5th place -- $50 Glory Days Grill gift card

4th place -- Four Orioles tickets for a 2018 home game

3rd place -- $75 Glory Days Grill gift card

2nd place -- Two Washington Capitals tickets for a 2018 playoff game

1st place -- $150 Glory Days Grill gift card

Let the madness begin!!!

Monday
March 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xliv
issue 12
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


let the madness begin with #dmd's hoops bracket challenge


If it's March, it's time to enjoy the madness.

And with a surprise Baltimore entry in this year's field, the tournament will be a tad more exciting to follow. At least until Friday.

The UMBC Retrievers will take on Virginia this Friday night (9:20 pm) in Charlotte, NC. UMBC is making their first trip to the big dance since 2008, when they fell to Georgetown in the opening round.

There was lots of noise around 7 pm last night once TBS got around to actually showing everyone the 68-team field for this year's NCAA tournament.

Davidson robbed Middle Tennessee State or some other deserving at-large candidate of their spot in the field when they shocked Rhode Island in the A-10 final to seal their trip to the big dance.

The four 5-12 games in the first round have the makings of some delicious upsets. Davidson will face Kentucky, San Diego State takes on Ohio State, Murray State gets West Virginia and New Mexico State plays Clemson.

I'll take a 12 to beat a 5 just because it seemingly always happens. Which one? Give me New Mexico State to beat Clemson.

You can click here for the 68-team bracket for those of you who need to use one for our #DMD contest. While you won't need to print this one out or anything (for our contest) it's always good to have one right in front of you.

As we did in each of the last two years, #DMD will host its own "Bracket Challenge" for this year's basketball tournament.

But it's not a "typical" bracket contest. We feel like you might be filled to the brim with those.

Instead, as you'll see below, we provide a different type of contest. You still have to know what you're doing -- or think you do, at least -- and you're still picking teams and winners and Final Four participants and the like. But it's not a traditional "fill out the bracket" kind of deal.


#DMD Bracket Challenge
No. Question Points
1 Will UMBC score more than 54.5 points vs. Virginia on Friday, March 16? 2
2 Will UMBC's Jairus Lyles score more than 22.5 points against Virginia? 2
3 Will a 5-seed lose to a 12-seed on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
4 Will at least one game go to overtime on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
5 Will there be a final margin of victory of at least 35.5 points in any game on Thursday/Friday (opening round)? 3
6 Will at least one #1 or #2 seed fail to advance to the Sweet Sixteen? 3
7 List eight teams that will advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 2 pts. for each correct team;
5 bonus pts. if you go 8-for-8
8 Which #1 seed will lose first? 5
9 Which four teams will play in the Final Four? 5 pts. for each correct team;
10 bonus pts. if you go 4-for-4
10 Which team will win the NCAA title? 10

We don't have many rules around here, but we are a stickler for the rules when it comes to our bracket challenge. You see the questions above. Please follow the "entry form" in a very precise manner, as you see below. It makes it much easier for us to calculate your points when everyone fills in their entry in the same way. Below, you'll see MY answers.

Rule #1 -- In the subject line of your entry, please put "#DMD Hoops".

Rule #2 -- Please put your FULL NAME on the first line of your entry.

Rule #3 -- List your answers in the e-mail as you see I've done below:

1. No

2. No

3. Yes

4. Yes

5. Yes

6. Yes

7. Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, Purdue, West Virginia, Villanova

8. Xavier

9. Virginia, Michigan, Villanova, Michigan State

10. Virginia

Rule #4 -- Send your entry to: dmdscore@gmail.com

That's it!

Prize chart

10th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

9th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

8th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

7th place -- $25 Glory Days Grill gift card

6th place -- 10 free breakfast cards from Chick fil-A Nottingham Square

5th place -- $50 Glory Days Grill gift card

4th place -- Four Orioles tickets for a 2018 home game

3rd place -- $75 Glory Days Grill gift card

2nd place -- Two Washington Capitals tickets for a 2018 playoff game

1st place -- $150 Glory Days Grill gift card

Let the madness begin!!!

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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.


conference tournament edition


You can’t get the whole story without asking the 5 Ws: Who? What? When? Where? and Why?

Who?

The Smith family

With the resignation of G.G. Smith at Loyola, one of the local Division I teams is in search of a men’s basketball coach for the third year in a row.

At the same time, Smith’s father Tubby is seemingly on his way out at Memphis. If you believe the reporting, he’s essentially being pushed out by a power play from former Memphis star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and friends.

The younger Smith took over the Loyola program in 2013, when Jimmy Patsos left for Siena and the Greyhounds first joined the Patriot League. He never got his squad into the top half of the 10-team league, one that’s been dominated by Bucknell over the last several seasons.

There was always going to be an adjustment for Loyola moving from the MAAC to the Patriot League; the academic standards are different, as is the style of basketball. After five years, however, the Greyhounds hadn’t made enough strides.

Tubby Smith is a coaching legend, of course, having won the NCAA championship in 1998 at Kentucky. His coaching career after that has been less successful and more itinerant; he’s been at Minnesota, Texas Tech and now Memphis in the last 11 years.

Still, he’s hardly worthy of having his career end in the way it appears it might.

G.G. and Tubby coached against each other twice, in 2014 when Tubby was at Texas Tech and earlier this season in Memphis.

What?

“Thrill Score”

Several years ago, college basketball analytics guru Ken Pomeroy developed something he called “FanMatch.” He now lists each day’s slate of Division I games in order by “Thrill Score,” a rating of the likely competitiveness of the game mixed with the level of play.

No one figured the UMBC/Vermont game would have much of a "thrill score", but the Retrievers' Jairus Lyles changed all of that with his buzzer-beater 3-pointer.

There were 24 games played on Saturday, and the America East championship game between UMBC and Vermont was listed 24th in potential thrills. You can’t be right all the time, I guess.

The rating was easy to understand. If the 68-team NCAA tournament was chosen simply by Pomeroy’s numbers, Vermont would be the last team in; meanwhile, UMBC barely cracks the top 200. The Catamounts beat the Retrievers by margins of 15 and 28 points during the regular season and were playing the game at home in Burlington.

Add in the America East’s ranking of 24th out of 32 Division I conferences, and what you had was a likely blowout in a game that wouldn’t be particularly well played.

Sure, the SWAC and MEAC title games featured worse teams, but at least those teams are close to each other. None of the four Ivy League teams playing on Saturday cracked the top 125, but at least those two games were expected to be competitive.

If you watched the game, of course, you witnessed a thrilling conclusion to a competitive game. That’s why they play ‘em.

When?

1996

On February 25, 1996, the Philadelphia Inquirer first referred to Joe Lunardi as a “bracketologist,” the first known instance of the term being used in print.

It was a year earlier that Lunardi released his first supplement to his yearbook in the attempt to predict the 64-team NCAA field.

Lunardi, by the way, has a full-time job as an administrator at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, his alma mater. His job is in marketing and brand services, and you have to admit that Lunardi has done one hell of a job at marketing himself and creating a brand.

Bracketology has been both good and bad for the NCAA tournament. The bad part is that every person who watches the sport thinks they know how to be a bracketologist, even if they have no idea how the committee goes about its business every year.

The good part is that the NCAA was forced to be (somewhat) more transparent about its process of tournament selection and seeding. For many years now, the committee has brought a group of media members together during the season for a “mock” selection exercise.

The hard part about bracketology isn’t so much about the at-large teams being selected; there are always cases for and against teams on the bubble. It’s more about the seeding of teams, which the bracketologists always seem to get “right” more than the committee does.

Where?

Ridiculous places

The Southeastern Conference played its tournament in St. Louis, of all places. The ostensible “home” team, Missouri, lost in the second round on Thursday. Tennessee and Kentucky played in the tournament championship game; at the very least, both of those states actually border Missouri. Barely.

For the second year in a row, the Atlantic Coast Conference played its tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The center court LED display featured a large advertisement for Bojangles’ Famous Chicken and Biscuits. There is exactly one Bojangles’ location north of the Mason-Dixon Line, in Reading, Pa.

The Big Ten compressed its conference season so that it could play its championship tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In doing so, the league made sure that it would basically be forgotten about for a week while every other big-time conference was playing its tournament.

The American Athletic Conference is essentially an amalgamation of schools that don’t belong with each other, forced together by the conference realignment of the 21st century. I suppose it only makes sense then that Houston and Cincinnati met in the championship game in, yes, Orlando.

The Ivy League again played its four-team tournament at the Palestra in Philadelphia. The ancient collection of eight schools from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire is, hopefully, not in negotiations to play its next tournament in San Francisco, considering all the Harvard alums who live there.

Why?

Champ Week

For years, ESPN, which televised seemingly every conference championship game from the SWAC to the ACC, referred to the last 10 days or so as “Championship Week.”

This year, for some reason, the network changed the moniker to “Champ Week.” Next year, maybe they’ll split the difference and go with “Champion Week.”

Championship, er, Champ Week, can be a celebration for 90 percent of the players and coaches in Division I basketball. It can be a coronation of a great season, a surprise run for a team that finds something for three days or a chance for a game-winning shot to become national news, even for schools like UMBC.

The week also can be an anti-celebration, the end of the road for a mediocre or lousy team after taking another 15-point loss in an empty arena. Obviously, it’s sometimes the end of the road for a coach and his staff, who’ve worked hard at their jobs without enough success in the eyes of those who hire and fire coaches.

In 2006, the NCAA, which had just purchased the NIT, made the decision to give an automatic NIT berth to any regular-season conference champion that didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament. So, Vermont, who had a great season, will at least play in the NIT.

In other words, both UMBC and Vermont are being celebrated as champions. Er, champs…

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if you're sick of tiger now...


A friend of mine shot me a text late Sunday afternoon.

I was at the Blast playoff game at SECU Arena, but was following the action from the Valspar, where I knew Tiger was in the hunt for the title on the back nine.

"It's March 11 and I'm already sick of Tiger," he wrote.

"Better get used to seeing him. Or get your cable TV and internet disconnected for the next six months," was my reply.

I'll be the first to admit it. I didn't see this happening this quickly.

And by "this", I mean, Tiger playing great golf again, contending, winning and rising up the world golf rankings.

"I'd like my detractors to please remain quiet. Thank you."

The only thing he hasn't done -- yet -- is win. And that's coming. The rest of it, he's already done, and he's played just four tournaments in 2018.

I was wrong.

I thought it would take Woods at least until the summer to get his game in top condition again. It didn't even take until St. Patrick's Day.

I didn't figure he'd run roughshod over Spieth, DJ, Rory, Fowler, Justin Thomas and all the rest of the hotshots. I assumed their games were good enough to stand the heat of a 40-something guy with his back knitted back together, but I apparently was mistaken.

Tiger's going to spend his spring and summer of 2018 walloping them twice a month, it would appear.

Oh, and about that Ryder Cup I wrote about here last week, the one in France in September? I said Woods is now potentially a candidate for Jim Furyk's team based on the play he showed at the Honda.

You can remove "potentially a candidate" for the U.S. squad and just get Tiger's passport out of the safe so he has it ready for the flight to Paris. He's in.

Sure, the putter is still a little unpolished. He certainly missed a few on Sunday that he should have made. Then again, he made a 44-foot bomb at #17 that he probably didn't have any real business making.

But the putter notwithstanding, Tiger's tee-to-green game was as solid as anyone else in the field in his last two events.

He put on a ball-striking clinic on Saturday in round three of the Valspar and then drove the ball expertly on Sunday in the final round, but his iron game wasn't quite as sharp as it had been 24 hours earlier.

Even yesterday, with his "C game", Tiger stalked the leaders throughout the back nine and nearly caught the eventual winner on the final two holes. While I don't think we'll ever see Woods putt with the quite the fearlessness and success that he displayed in the 2000's, I do think his work with the flat stick will improve over time, particularly when he putts on bent grass greens, which were always his favorites.

I can't get over how well he's swinging. Like I wrote on Friday at #DMD, I wish he'd tell us how he's doing it.

Ben Hogan supposedly had a "secret" that he never really shared with anyone. Come to find out decades later, his secret was nothing more than hard work. Pronation, supination, forward knee pointing at the ball -- blah, blah, blah. Hogan just outworked everyone.

Tiger has a secret, I suspect. I don't know how anyone could have his spine fused last spring and turn around less than 12 months later and swing the golf club at 129 miles per-hour with the kind of precision he displayed over the weekend at Innisbrook.

It's remarkable.

Even his biggest detractor ever, Brandel Chamblee, has admittedly moved over to the dark side.

"This golf swing of Tiger's, right now, is as good as any move a PGA Tour player has put on the ball in ten years," Chamblee said on The Golf Channel on Sunday night.

Holy canoli. That's strong praise, there.

He still has to win a tournament, does Woods, in order for the comeback to be "completely complete", but it's just a matter of time before that happens. Right now, based on what we've seen, you'd have to think there's a decent chance he'll figure out a way to tie Sam Snead's career mark of 82 wins at some point in 2018.

In his last two events, about a dozen guys total, have scored better than Woods.

And he hasn't actually played any tournament golf in about three years.

He played a few events in 2016, a few more in 2017, and that was it. Tiger's beating up on guys that have been playing 30 events a year for the last two seasons on the TOUR. He's played a grand total of four tournaments this year and he's already dusting people off like it's the varsity against the JV.

Oh, and let's not forget he's 42 years old.

And finally, speaking of the Valspar, who actually won the tournament?

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john pusateri
on lacrosse

Covering local college lacrosse for #DMD is an important task, and JOHN PUSATERI is more than capable of handling the job! His keen eye breaks down teams, players, tendencies and key statistical data that all fits together for outstanding coverage of college lacrosse. When it comes to covering local lacrosse, #DMD does it better than anyone around!


weekend college lax review


As expected, we just saw a great weekend of college lacrosse in which 11 of the top 20 lost, including a couple of local teams in the top 10. Let's recap the games we previewed on Friday here at #DMD.

#1 Albany 11 - #2 Maryland 10

As advertised, this was the best game of the season featuring the nation's best. A heavyweight title bout of great plays countered with even greater plays by each. Each came with their best, which was certainly good enough to beat anyone else in the country.

But only one team could win. And on Saturday, that was Albany. However, we could easily see Maryland returning the favor on championship weekend in late May.

As expected, Maryland Albany staged a tightly contested battle on Saturday, with the Great Danes coming from behind to post an 11-10 win and cement their spot as the #1 team in the nation.

Interestingly, the game started out with the defending champion Terps dominating the Great Danes, with Connor Kelly netting 3 of his 5 points and Justin Shockey winning 7 of 11 faceoffs in the 1st half to build a 6-3 lead for Maryland at the end of 2 quarters.

The 3rd quarter started the same way as the Terps opened up a 5 goal lead early on, 8-3.

But Albany never wavered and grinded their way back to 8-6.

Then Maryland answered with 2 quick goals by Connor Kelly (2 goals, 3 assists) and Tim Rotanz (1 goal 1 assist) to end the 3rd quarter with a 10-6 lead. At this point, I looked at my oldest son, who attended the game with me at Capital One Field, and told him this game was over, feeling confident the Terps were in great shape to close this game out.

But as I was reminded by the Great Danes, the game consists of 4 quarters.

And in the 4th quarter, Albany went from being dominated, to trading goals with their opponent, to finally waking up and taking over the game with a 5-0 run to seal the comeback win.

Great players produce when the game is on the line. And one of the nation's best, Connor Fields, did so by scoring the first goal in the comeback and adding the eventual game winner unassisted with great dodges.

It also helped that TD Ierlan who was dominated by Justin Shockey most of the day at faceoffs, figured things out and went 6 for 6 in the quarter limiting Maryland possessions. Albany's defense also figured things out and limited Maryland to just 4 shots in the quarter, all of which where saved by goalie JD Colarusso.

Albany was lead by Connor Fields (4 goals, 2 assists) and Jakob Patterson (4 goals). In addition to Connor Kelly (2 goals, 3 assists), Maryland got 2 goals each from Jared Bernhardt, Logan Wisnauskas, and Bubba Fairman.

#3 Duke 13 - #7 Loyola 9

Duke continued its mastery of Loyola as the visitors built up a 10-5 lead after 3 quarters and coasted in for the win by the same margin.

The Blue Devil defense shut down Loyola star Pat Spencer, holding him to just 3 assists and no goals. Loyola returned the favor by holding Duke's offensive leader, Justin Guterding, to just 1 goal and 1 assists.

However, newcomers Peter Conley and Brad Smith, each with 4 goals and 2 assists, picked up the slack for Duke. We also need to mention new Blue Devil faceoff specialist freshman Joe Stein, who won 18 of 25 draws.

Loyola was led by Jay Drapeau (3 goals, 1 assist) and John Duffy (3 goals).

#17 Johns Hopkins 18 - #6 Syracuse 8

In Friday's #DMD, we felt pretty comfortable about the Blue Jays taking down the Orange. And we were right, as it turns out.

But we didn't think Syracuse was capable of being blown out again this season in the Carrier Dome. As expected, Hopkins' Hunter Moreland had a strong outing going 17-26 on faceoffs. Hopkins' defense also stepped up big causing 11 turnovers.

Shack Stanwick (2 goals, 3 assists), Cole Williams (4 goals, 1 assist) and Alex Concannon (3 goals, 2 assists) paced the Blue Jay offense.

Towson 7 - #14 Ohio State 6 (2 OT)

If you like a defensive, grinding style of lacrosse, this was the game for you.

And if you told me the Tigers would be shut out in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, would lose the faceoff battle 6-17, and be outshot 19-40, I would have put all my money on the Buckeyes winning comfortably.

But the Tigers defense would not be denied in helping the Tigers score that elusive out of conference quality win.

Towson was led by the star of the game, Shane Brennan with 16 saves and offensive leader Jon Mazza who scored 2 goals including the game winner. Other offensives contributors were Grant Maloof (2 goals) who put the game into OT and Jean-Luc Chetner (1 goal, 2 assists).

Sunday
March 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xliv
issue 11
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and that's why we love college basketball (even when we don't)


I don't know what it is about basketball, but I've always figured it has something to do with the fact that the participants are just there.

No equipment, really. No hats or helmets hiding their faces. Basketball players wear shorts, a shirt and sneakers. It takes all of about 25 seconds to get dressed for a game.

Maybe that's the biggest reason why college basketball games that matter are seemingly much more enjoyable to watch than any other sport.

It's easy to get caught up in the hype of conference tournaments, automatic bids, bubble teams and so on, which is exactly what I'm doing right now, but holy cow!, March Madness is something to behold.

As you'll read below in the detailed account of their amazing come-from-behind win at Vermont yesterday, Baltimore's own UMBC will stepping up in class next Thursday or Friday and playing in the NCAA basketball tournament. The way they did it on Saturday was nothing short of spectacular.

The thrill of victory -- and the agony of defeat. Both are always on display at the NCAA basketball tournament.

And it again reminds me of why we love college basketball so much.

Oh, sure, the warts are still there. And they're still ugly. There's a lot to dislike about the game, too.

Scandal, under-the-table benefits, uneven playing fields by virtue of players and coaches who refuse to stop breaking the rules. It's all there in college basketball.

But for every Sean Miller-story, there's a Bucknell. Or a North Carolina Central. Or, yes, UMBC.

I love it. I love watching teams who primarily play basketball because they love the game reach heights they at one time only dreamed of reaching. I love seeing the joy on their faces.

And I love seeing the bond between players and coaches.

There was one moment in college hoops that took my breath away last week. Fairfield lost to Iona in the MAAC championship game and coach Sydney Johnson had a remarkable last-minute exchange with a graduating player, Tyler Nelson.

It's so good, I'd like you to watch it here.

If you can watch that and the hair on the back of your neck isn't standing up, I don't know what to tell you...

That's the best thing about college basketball, if you ask me.

Sure, the likes of UMBC, Bucknell, North Carolina Central and so on will be overwhelming underdogs later this week come tournament time. But as I said to someone last night when discussing UMBC's chances, "You better respect them and come ready to play".

If Virginia or Villanova or one of the other number one seeds draws the Retrievers and thinks they can just waltz around and half-try for 40 minutes, throw up a handful of dunks, and win 87-53, they're going to be in for a rude awakening.

Villanova might beat UMBC, 87-53, but they'll do so because they took Ryan Odom's team seriously and gave them the respect they deserve.

The same goes for Bucknell, who might go into the tournament as a 13 or 14 seed. If someone like Xavier, an expected 3 seed, just assumes they'll walk into the arena and Bucknell will fall to the floor in the fetal position, they too, might be in for the shock of their season.

And that's why March Madness is great.

Everyone has a chance. And not the same "chance" that Jim Carey talked about in Dumb and Dumber. UMBC has a "real" chance to shock a #1 seed this week. I don't think any of us would be dumb enough to bet the farm on it happening, but there's no debating that the Retrievers have a quality team that earned their right to play in the NCAA tournament.

And because you can see the players and coaches in high-definition, without any equipment hiding their faces and bodies, college basketball is the sport that best captures the human emotion for all of us.

I realized it once again yesterday as I saw Jairus Lyles bury that 3-pointer to give UMBC its improbable win over Vermont.

Nothing beats college basketball and, specifically, March Madness, for emotion.

The human element and all of its associated components are there for everyone to see; happy, sad, agony, desperation, love, frustration, effort, success, joy, failure.

You name it, you'll see it over the next three weeks.

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woods still chasing conners at pga tour event


If Corey Conners cracks today and can't finish the job at the Valspar Championship, I don't think anyone will be overly surprised.

He is, after all, going to be involved in one of the most highly-anticipated rounds of golf of the last decade.

Connors leads the Valspar at 9-under par, but it's who is chasing him that's grabbing the headlines.

Tiger Woods is one shot behind.

So is Justin Rose, for that matter, but Rose -- a great player in his own right -- is a bit player in today's drama.

Making just his 21st career start on the PGA Tour, Corey Connors could go "wire to wire" today in capturing the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

It's Connors, making his 21st career start on the PGA Tour, with a weird, oddly configured golf swing, going up against perhaps the greatest player in the history of the sport.

And that guy, Tiger Woods, just so happens to be looking for his first trip to victory lane since 2013.

Connors and Woods won't be playing in the same group today, a notable point to consider for those who think Connors has a chance to hold on and win. It's one thing to play in the final group and be in position to win your first PGA Tour event. It's entirely different doing that with Tiger Woods in your group, staring you down on every tee box.

That Rose finished before Woods on Saturday (both posting 8-under scores) and thereby gets to play in the final group with Connors is extremely significant. By no means does it make Connors a lock to win today -- but his path to victory is a tad easier with Rose alongside him for the final 18 holes.

But no matter what happens today, the story of the tournament won't be Corey Connors.

That's a shame, but it's the truth.

The story will be Tiger Woods.

If he wins, the story will be -- Tiger Woods won and he's back.

If he doesn't win, the story will be -- Tiger Woods had a chance to win and he didn't. The "old" Tiger would have won...the "new" Tiger didn't.

That's just the way it is.

Woods has himself in position to win this week because his short game continues to shine.

If he could drive the ball in the fairway on a par five now and again, he might actually run away with a tournament or two.

In his glory years, that's where Woods feasted -- on the par 5's. They were all actually par 4's for him. But now, with his driver still semi-disobedient, Tiger's no longer chewing up the par 5 holes.

No matter what happens today, though, Tiger's eyes continue to focus on Augusta National and next month's Masters.

Win or lose at the Valspar, the only thing Woods cares about is "how does this get me more prepared for Augusta?"

By the looks of it, with 18 holes still left to play, Tiger's game is shaping up nicely for a run at a 5th green jacket in early April.

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retrievers stun vermont with last second bucket to win america east


UMBC graduate student guard Jairus Lyles drained a 23-footer from the top of the key with 0.6 seconds left to give UMBC a dramatic, come-from-behind 65-62 victory over top-seeded and host Vermont in the America East Championship game on Saturday, March 10.

The Retrievers (24-9) celebrated their second America East title nearly 10 years after their first crown and NCAA Tournament bid.

Lyles, who scored a game-high 27 points, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. He averaged 19.8 points over the Retrievers' three tournament games. He was joined on the All-Championship team by teammates senior guard K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) and freshman forward Daniel Akin (Eltham, England) and Vermont's Trae Bell-Haynes and Payton Henson.

"Win the game, that was all that was going through my head," said Lyles of the game-winning shot. "He (Coach Odom) called a play, I waved it off. Trae Bell-Haynes gave me some space, so I just raised up and hit the shot right over him."

Teammates mob Jairus Lyles just moments after his 3-point shot lifted the Retrievers to the America East tournament title at Vermont.

Junior forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc), a senior with a perfect 4.00 GPA in financial economics, was the men's basketball Elite 18 honoree.

The Retrievers will learn their NCAA draw during the selection show Sunday at 6 p.m. on TBS.

"I am so proud of these guys," said head coach Ryan Odom. You have to earn the right to win and these kids did that. They were eager to compete and win. And that's what you saw today."

UMBC trailed by nine points on two occasions in the second half, the final time with 8:21 remaining. But the Retriever defense buckled down and would not give up a field goal the rest of the way.

Maura capped a 10-1 UMBC run with a trey with 5:09 remaining to knot the score at 58-all. Vermont would hit four free throws, but a dunk by sophomore forward Max Curran (Hooksett, N.H.) at the 2:49 mark and a driving layup by Lyles with 61 seconds left tied the contest at 62 apiece.

Vermont's Trae-Bell Haynes' driving attempt with 24 seconds left was blocked and Curran gathered the rebound. With the ball in his hands for the entire possession, Lyles found space between himself and his defender, raised up, and swished his fifth trey of the game.

The win was UMBC's 24th of the season, tying the 2007-08 championship team, which finished the campaign at 24-9. It snapped a 23-game losing streak against the Catamounts, which dated back to the 2008 America East semifinal contest.

The Retrievers committed only four turnovers in the game, the second-lowest for an America East playoff game. They forced 13 Vermont miscues and outscored the Catamounts, 23-6, in points off of turnovers.

The Catamounts established their dominance in the paint early, gradually building a 30-21 lead with 5:17 to play in the first half. Trailing 35-28 with 2:39 to play, UMBC held Vermont scoreless the rest of the half and treys by Lamar, Maura and Lyles just before the horn erased the deficit and gave the Retrievers a 37-35 halftime advantage.

Lyles scored 15 first half points, hitting 3-of-4 shots from behind the arc.

This contribution to #DMD was provided in part by the UMBC Athletic Department via the school's website

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March 10
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ok, tiger, tell us how you're doing this


By the time Monday rolls around, my January prediction that Tiger Woods couldn't win a golf tournament without the services of a swing instructor might be filed under "Another one Drew got wrong".

Woods looks like he might win this week's Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

He sits at four-under par and tied for second, just two shots behind someone named Corey Conners.

There's a lot of golf left -- 36 holes to be exact -- and several other prominent players are in the hunt, but with each passing tournament round now, Woods is looking more and more like he's going to wind up in the winner's circle at some point.

It's now shifted more from a matter of "if" to a matter of "when".

I'm not sure there's ever a specific moment when someone who has been out of the spotlight due to injury or poor performance gets it all together again and is officially "back", but for Woods, that moment won't come until he actually wins a golf tournament.

That's if you ask me.

A few friends jammed my phone with text messages yesterday when he took the lead at Valspar with just those words -- "he's back".

"He's back when he wins a tournament" I kept repeating to them.

Are we on the verge of seeing Tiger Woods once again holding a championship trophy?

Now, yes, I'll concede that he's "back" in terms of his ability to once again play golf and play it at a high level. But Woods didn't return from a fourth back surgery to become Keegan Bradley or Nick Watney or any other semi-forgettable check collector on the TOUR. He came back to win. So I won't pronounce his return complete until he does that.

But it might happen this very weekend. The Copperhead course seems like a good fit for him in that it isn't yielding a lot of birdies. A score of nine or ten under is likely to win the event. That seems like it's right in Tiger's wheelhouse.

The only part of his game that isn't chirping along nicely right now is his putting. Sure, he's making some. He isn't putting poorly, per se, but he's leaving a lot of red numbers on the table "out there" (as Tiger likes to call it) and those eventually come back to haunt him.

If he would have made anything at the Honda, he would have won that tournament a couple of weeks back. His tee-to-green game was more than sufficient to win. But he didn't make any putts on Friday or Saturday -- when he led the field in proximity to the hole by almost two feet over those two rounds.

We've seen the same thus far in Palm Harbor this week. If Tiger makes anything on Thursday or Friday, he's leading by two instead of trailing by two.

But that's golf. I always tell my high school players this: Your score in every round of golf is determined by six putts. If you shoot 76, there's a great chance it could have been 82 if your putter wouldn't have been red-hot that day. There are always six putts along the way that you either made or missed that swing your score in one direction.

Tiger's 68 on Friday could have been a magical round of something like 64 or 65 if he gets a couple of putts he'd typically make to drop in the hole for him. There's always one or two that you make and you say, "Well, I misread that one and it went in anyway..." but in almost every round of golf you play, you either putt well or you don't putt well. It's rare that you have a day of "average" putting.

Lots of people think Tiger is on track to contend at Augusta National. Golf-swing wise, you probably can't debate that. With his restored length, the 4-time Masters champ will be able to reach all four of the par 5's in two shots.

But he can't win at Augusta without making a bunch of putts. Scoring always varies at Augusta. One year you have Jordan Spieth shooting 18-under and then the next year some guy named Danny Willett that you'll never hear from again shoots 5-under to win. If you look at the last ten years, though, something around 10-under par is probably the target score for this year's winner.

That likely means the winner has to make some combination of 16 or 18 birdies/eagles and allow for a combination of six or so bogeys or double bogeys.

I'm not sure Tiger has enough horsepower in his putter to make 16 or 18 birdies/eagles. I'm not seeing that, yet.

But one thing we can say for certain. Tiger's tee-to-green game is "back". Big time.

And I'm wondering, like a lot of people.......how on earth is he doing it?

This is where I'll raise my hand and admit to being a skeptic.

Yes, I'm skeptical.

Maybe I should have saved this topic for my daily podcast, "The Juice". See what I did there?

Look, I realize we're talking about a guy who won 79 golf tournaments and 14 major championships.

I'll concede that we're having a conversation about someone who performed on an "other world" level if you'll concede that what Tiger is doing now at age 42 and one year removed from major back surgery is almost miracle-like.

With those respective concessions in mind, I still want to probe into this more deeply.

It's one thing if Woods comes back, loses 10 yards of distance off the tee, now hits 7-iron from 168 yards (instead of 8-iron) and has to rely on a remarkable short-game skill set to get back into contention. That's how 42 year old guys compete.

That's sorta-kinda how Phil Mickelson wound up back in the winner's circle last Sunday in Mexico City. He won on a golf course where length didn't really matter all that much. He basically "Phil'd them to death" with some wonderful work around the greens and some timely putting on the back nine of the final round.

But that's not what Tiger's doing.

His short game has been sensational in the four events he's played thus far, but that has been much more about his chipping and wedge work and less about his putting acumen.

Tiger's back in the hunt because he's bashing the ball 325 yards off the tee and leaving himself nine irons and wedges into a lot of holes.

He looks like Tiger circa 2004 in that regard. And I can't help but wonder how on earth a 42-year old guy who NEVER before posted swing speeds of 128 miles-per-hour is doing it now?

My hand is still raised: I'm a skeptic.

Is it vitamins? (How do I order some?)

A new-age stretching routine? (Is there an on-line version I can watch or buy?)

That new Taylor Made driver? (I have lots of Eagle's Nest shop credit to spend, maybe I'll get two in case the first one breaks.)

How. Is. Tiger. Doing. It?

Who knows?

Maybe this is what happens to 42 year old guys who have their spine fused back together.

Maybe they return to athletic glory for six months and then their back explodes one day and they're finished. Forever. I sure hope that doesn't happen to Tiger -- or anyone for that matter -- but perhaps that's the risk he's taking now, although I seriously doubt if a possibility like that existed that he'd be playing professional golf again.

I said this back in December when he teed it up in the Bahamas at his first "event" back after the surgery last spring.

He looked "different". He looked like he knew that he was back. He looked like he knew that this time, somehow, was going to be dramatically "better" than the previous comeback attempts.

I said it back then. Tiger knew he was going to play again, play well again, and win again.

He hasn't finished the job yet, but he's close.

I just want to know how he's doing it...

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a win at vermont today and umbc is in the ncaa tournament


For just the third time in 15 America East Conference seasons and the first time since 2009, the UMBC Retrievers will compete in the league's championship game today.

Second-seeded UMBC (23-10) will face top-seeded and defending champion Vermont (27-6) at Patrick Gymnasium, with tip-off set for 11:00 a.m.

The winner receiving an automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA tournament.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, with Doug Sherman, Mark Plansky and Olivia Harlan on the call and on Westwood One.

Retriever Update: UMBC advanced to the title game with home victories over UMass Lowell (89-77) and Hartford (75-60) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. Coupled with two wins to close the regular season, the Retrievers have won four straight for the first time this season. They had failed five previous times to extend a three-game winning streak to four.

Jairus Lyles can lead UMBC to their first trip to March Madness since 2008. All they need is a win at Vermont and they're dancing.

Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles continues to lead UMBC in scoring at 19.9 points per game. The America East First Team honoree just became the first player in school history to record a pair of 500-point seasons and is 2 points shy of two 600-point campaigns. He remains in 5th place on UMBC's all-time scoring list with 1,684 points.

Senior backcourt mate K.J. Maura (11.5 ppg, 5.3 apg) has been the team's top producer in the post-season, averaging 17.0 points and six assists in the two victories. Maura is ranked 13th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Retrievers reached the title contest in both 2008 and 2009, defeating Hartford, 82-65, to win their lone crown in 2008 and falling to Binghamton, 61-51, the following season.

Under Head Coach Ryan Odom, for the first time in 32 years of NCAA Division I play, UMBC has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons. They recorded back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns. The 44 wins over the last two seasons has surpassed the program's previous best two-year DI total of 39 ('07-'08/'08-'09). UMBC won a total of 41 games in the seven previous seasons.

UMBC's current total of 23 wins are now the second-best total wins in 32 years of NCAA Division I competition. The 2007-08 title team finished at 24-9.

The Retrievers enter the contest with a four-game road winning streak. The four consecutive road wins is the longest streak since a four-gamer in 2007-08.

UMBC's defensive scoring average of 69.7 points per game ranks 104 in the nation, a far cry of the ranking of 288 (77.2 ppg) a season ago.

Glance at the Catamounts: Top-seeded Vermont (27-6) outscored Stony Brook by 15 over the game's final 19 minutes to down the Seawolves in the #AEPlayoffs semifinals, 70-51.The reigning champion Catamounts will play in their 12th title game in program history and 11th since 2003. Drew Urquhart, a second-team All-Conference selection, scored 18 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to lead the Catamounts.

Vermont has won 19 of their last 20 contests, with the only loss coming at Patrick Gym to Hartford, 69-68 on Feb. 18.

Two-time America East POY senior guard Trae Bell-Haynes leads a balanced attack with 14.8 points per game. Five Catamounts average in double figures, including junior guard Ernie Duncan, who leads the team with 64 treys.

The Series: Vermont has posted 23 consecutive victories over UMBC, including 11 straight in Burlington, and lead the all-time series, 32-4. The Retrievers' last win in the series occurred on March 9, 2008, 73-64, in the America East semifinals. In America East Tournament play, Vermont has won five of six meetings.

This contribution to #DMD was provided in part by the UMBC Athletic Department via the school's website

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ten days of orioles predictions


We're back to the #DMD-based Orioles predictions for the weekend, since there's no "Juice" on Saturday or Sunday. If you missed day four of my "ten days of Orioles predictions", you can find it in "The Juice", which is at the top of the right hand column.

We're halfway home, so to speak, with day five of my ten predictions.

Let's look at catching.

Here's my quick summary: The Orioles won't get much from their catchers in 2018.

Sorry...

Will Chance Sisco emerge as the Orioles' catcher of the future at some point in 2018?

Defensively, Caleb Joseph is fine. He's not going to make the All-Star team or anything like that, but he calls a good game, frames the plate well and is typically "liked" by the starting pitchers. His arm isn't terrible, either, but, again, we're talking about your basic big league catcher -- nothing more, nothing less.

With the bat, Joseph doesn't do much.

I suppose there's a chance that Joseph and back-up Chance Sisco (assuming he's going to make the team, which I figure he will) could combine for 20 home runs (15/Joseph, 5/Sisco) and 45 RBI, but that would far significantly under the 2017 combo of Castillo (20/53) and Joseph (8/28).

I don't see the Joseph-Sisco duo accumulating 28 HR's and 81 RBI in 2018. Not even close, in fact.

There's an argument to be made that the Orioles can afford to suffer a drop-off in offense...there's plenty to go around, in other words. But replacing 28 HR and 81 RBI with, say, 20 and 45, is a step backwards, for sure.

The trade-off comes in defense and game-calling. If Joseph and Sisco, in his limited time back there, can somehow coax our starting pitchers into having a handful of "better" starts over the 162-game season, that might very well make up for their assumed decrease in offense.

I'm old school when it comes to defense in baseball. I think it matters. A lot.

So I'll guess that the combined batting average of Joseph and Sisco in 2018 is .249 and together they'll hit 20 HR and knock in 45.

They won't scare anyone at the plate with the bat in their hands.

But they don't cost much money...

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March 9
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fixing the ncaa isn't that easy


This one will fall under the umbrella of, "No matter what you do, the result won't be perfect".

There's no magical solution to fixing the NCAA and the myriad of issues they have at the Division I level as it relates to cheating, scandal and unfair practices, mostly among football and basketball programs.

But I have some ideas.

With due respect to the great Led Zeppelin, I'll "ramble on" for a few minutes here and spit out a bunch of random, general thoughts on the NCAA and some steps I think they should take to try and clean up their act.

Some of these you might have heard from me in the past, others might be new.

I'll first start off with a general statement of opinion. Turning the NCAA into the wild, wild west isn't the answer. That's to say that just allowing for a mass form of "free agency", where kids can just whore themselves to the highest bidder, is not the path for the NCAA to follow.

In other words, just saying, "Aww, what the hell. These kids and coaches and schools are gonna cheat anyway...just let 'em all cheat" is NOT the answer.

I think "the answer" comes in several forms.

After his second year at Maryland, Melo Trimble could have endorsed cars, clothes, convenience stores, etc. as part of #DMD's proposal for college athletes.

First, the penalty for cheating -- and it's up to the NCAA and its board and the schools involved in the voting to determine what exactly that is -- has to be more harsh than the one(s) currently in place.

That's apparently part of the problem now. The penalties aren't punishing enough.

So, here's a possible solution: If a college coach and/or program gives a kid $100,000 to come to school and play for them, and they get caught, that program gets shut down for three years.

No appeals. No second chances. Nothing. If you get caught giving a kid $100,000, there's no basketball or football at your school for three years.

I'm not saying that's precisely what the rule should be, by the way. I'm merely saying something like that, where a stiffer-than-stiff penalty is on the back end, must be in place if you're trying to get these schools and coaches -- and kids -- to pay attention to the rules.

Let's see how much cheating goes on at North Carolina if they know that 20,000 seat basketball arena might sit empty 18 nights every winter for the next three years.

Next -- I'd let kids do the "one and done" thing in both college football and college basketball and allow them to have representation from an agent providing they follow a simple-to-understand formula.

But there's some fine print associated with it.

All "one and done" kids (who are on scholarship) pay the school an early exit penalty of the equivalent of one year of their scholarship total. If a kid is playing college hoops at North Carolina and the scholarship total he receives on an annual basis is $46,789, then he has to write the school a check in that amount if he cuts out after one year.

"Where is a kid going to get forty seven grand?" you ask. From the agent, that's where.

Why the early exit penalty? Because coming to school, taking a seat, getting it free of charge and then scampering off after one year should come with some consequence.

It's one thing if you're paying for your education and after one year you decide you don't like the place. It's your money. It's entirely different if you get a free year of school, take a seat the school (or the program) could have otherwise handed over to someone else, then leave on a whim.

Businesses that train young professionals have an "early exit" penalty. Why shouldn't colleges? A friend of mine's daughter worked for 11 months at a staffing company right out of college. She decided to pursue another career. They pointed to the fine print in her employment agreement that indicated she couldn't leave on her accord within two years of employment unless she paid a penalty of 10% of her annual salary.

She didn't have $3,600 to hand them, so she stayed on board. That is, after she asked her Dad to pay it and he said, "No, you should have thought this through a little more before you took the job."

Here's a change I'd be willing to make that serves as a nod in the direction of the student-athletes: I'd also allow for college athletes to retain an agent and earn money via corporate sponsorships and personal endorsement deals within their own community providing, and this is tricky, that those deals do NOT include use of the school name and/or logo.

That's the way it is in the big leagues. Justin Tucker represents Royal Farms and is seen and heard on TV and radio, but you never see him sporting Ravens gear and he never says, "I'm Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens".

He can't even wear a purple shirt in the commercials.

But he can say, "I'm Justin Tucker, professional football player", just like Miles Bridges from Michigan State could get $40,000 from a car dealer in East Lansing and say, "I'm Miles Bridges, college basketball player..."

I'd give in on that one and allow for that sort of "free enterprise" to exist with college athletes in the same way it already exists with Olympic (amateur) athletes.

But -- yes, there's a but. You can't retain an agent and earn that ability to make money via endorsement deals until the completion of your sophomore year in school.

In other words: Once you've put in two years, you can reap the benefits of marketing yourself in the community.

The goal, in my plan, at least, is pretty simple -- and obvious. I'm not trying to make life difficult for one-and-done kids. I'm trying to make life more pleasing for kids who dedicate themselves to following the true formula of the student-athlete. The one-and-done kids can come in and do the high-roller thing and we'll allow it, but the kids who stick it out and put in their three or four years are the ones who get rewarded the most.

As David Rosenfeld accurately noted here at #DMD on Thursday, there's a fallacy about college sports and the amount of money the school(s) rakes in. Most D1 athletic programs lose gobs of money.

Then again, about 90% of the kids who get scholarships to play college sports are thrilled with the deal. They don't have to pay $150,000 or $200,000 for their college education and in exchange they get to play sports and represent their school as part of the trade-off.

Most sane people are wildly happy about that kind of deal.

But ten percent of the kids who get that deal somehow see it as a bad thing. I blame the media and bad parenting for a lot of it, frankly, but that's a story for another day.

In the meantime, I do believe some sort of reform is worthy of consideration.

It would be nice, though, if the schools and coaches and players that don't cheat are rewarded in the same way that those who do break the rules get punished accordingly.

There's a lot more meat on this bone if we dig through it. I'll continue to post some thoughts here as they come to mind.

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Covering local college lacrosse for #DMD is an important task, and JOHN PUSATERI is more than capable of handling the job! His keen eye breaks down teams, players, tendencies and key statistical data that all fits together for outstanding coverage of college lacrosse. When it comes to covering local lacrosse, #DMD does it better than anyone around!

barometer weekend


Although still early in the season, there are a number of great matchups this weekend which we can start to use to gauge teams chances in this year's NCAA tourney.

Most teams have a few games under their belts so we are starting to get a good idea of who they are. Plus this is one of the last weekends which teams can boost their tournament resumes with wins against quality non-conference opponents. We'll take a look at four such games for local teams with a detailed look at the game of the week, locally and nationally: Maryland vs. Albany

#2 Maryland vs #1 Albany (12pm B1G Network)

It doesn't get much better than this with the defending national champions going against the nations top ranked team. Both are undefeated and are the only two teams receiving first place votes in the polls.

And both have played some thrilling close games the past few seasons with the exception of the quarterfinal beatdown the Terps put on the Great Danes last spring. This will be tough to call but lets look at the positives and negatives for each and take a stab at a prediction.

Maryland - Positives include a ball control, steady offense, very good face-off specialists, blistering man-up offense scoring at 69%, solid defense and goal keeping, and a 5-0 record against some pretty stiff competition with quality wins against Navy, Penn and Notre Dame. Really not many negatives other than allowing opponents 31 shots per game and letting them shoot on cage at 62%. This allows good opponents to stick around.

Albany - Plenty of positives including an explosive offense (almost 16 goals per game), a stifling defense (allowing 6.25 goals per game), domination at faceoffs (winning 90%) and extremely good goal tending. Only negatives include a poor man-up offense (29% conversion) and a weak strength of schedule with the exception of a total devastation of Syracuse. However, that was Syracuse's first game of the season and they typically start slow.

Outcome - This game could be one of the best of the season and will most likely depend on how the faceoffs go. In that NCAA tourney win, the Terps Jon Garino dominated Albany's TD Ierlan at the faceoff X and one of the best offenses took complete advantage. However, Garino and the whole attack graduated from Maryland while Albany actually got better with the nation's best freshman attackman, Tehoka Nanticoke. Albany should have plenty of motivation after a close regular season loss and an embarrasing tourney loss to Maryland. Given that and how well they are playing all over the field, I see the Great Danes pulling out a 12-10 win over the Terps.

Loyola coach Charley Toomey and his Greyhounds have a chance to make some noise in the lax polls this Saturday when #3 Duke comes to town.

#7 Loyola vs #3 Duke (3pm Baltimore, MD)

This also has the makings of one of the best games of the season and has me seriously considering going to College Park first, then jumping on 95N afterwards to B-more to catch this game in the afternoon. Duke has usually faired well against the Greyhounds. But this Greyhound team is clicking on all cylinders and Duke has shown early season vulnerability. Let's give this one to the home team as Loyola eeks out an 11-10 win.

#17 Johns Hopkins @ #6 Syracuse (1pm Syracuse, NY)

Usually, the historically good programs get a bit of a bump in the polls, especially after a few decent wins. While the Blue Jays ranking feels about right, the Orangemen may have jumped a bit too high in the polls. Interestingly, Syracuse seems to go as their faceoff unit performs. But I think Hopkins' Hunter Moreland will dominate a very average Danny Varello of Syracuse. Couple that with Hopkins' clock-eating, but efficient offense and I see the Blue Jays taking down the Orange on the road 11-8.

Towson @ #14 Ohio State (1pm Columbus, OH)

A Final 4 rematch from last year's NCAA tourney features two teams that are both trying to rebuild after last year's success on the national stage. Towson appears to be righting the ship after a very slow start, but still struggles with turnovers. Ohio State's 5-1 record is somewhat shaky including comeback wins against lackluster competition, so they are vulnerable. I'm giving this this coin flip game to the home Buckeyes 9-8 over the Tigers. But it wouldn't suprise me one bit for Towson to get that breakthrough win this weekend.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

While the fight for the final three spots in the top four became a little more clear when defending champions Chelsea failed to show up against champion elect Manchester City, the battle at the bottom of the table to avoid relegation continues to rage on when Matchday 30 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning. It looks like this one will go down to the wire, so be sure to tune in and catch all of the action live across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, March 10 (all times eastern)

7:30 am – Liverpool @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Liverpool and manager Jurgen Klopp head to Old Trafford on Saturday for their annual road showdown with Manchester United.

Liverpool made it three wins in a row and four from their last five when they found their way through former manager Rafa Benitez and his packed in Newcastle United defense for a 2-0 victory to move up to second place in the table. They looked like they might end the weekend there until Manchester United, whom they will visit at Old Trafford to renew one of the oldest rivalries in English Football early Saturday morning, came from two goals down and got a stoppage time winner to displace their longtime rivals after a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace to drop the Eagles back into the relegation zone.

When Manchester City took care of Chelsea last weekend, both Manchester United and Liverpool moved a step closer to locking down two of the three remaining spots in the top four as they opened up nine and seven point cushions respectively over the fifth place Blues. The Reds booked their spot in the final eight of this year’s competition earlier this week and United will try to do the same next week against Sevilla, but second place in the league will be on their mind this weekend and it will be the Red Devils, winners of six of the last eight between the two at Old Trafford (L1 D1), who may have the edge.

10 am – Southampton @ Newcastle United – St. James’ Park, NBC Sports Network

The late morning card gets underway with two crucial relegation showdowns, the first of which will kick off at St. James Park where Newcastle United, hoping to bounce back from their first loss since January and just their second since the calendar turned in the setback to Liverpool, host Southampton, who despite being the better side throughout, particularly in the second forty five minutes, were unable to find the crucial breakthrough as they extended their winless run at home to eight games (L3 D5) and remain only a point above the drop zone when they played to a scoreless draw with Stoke City.

With their recent struggles at home, a weekend away from their friendly confines would usually be a welcomed change for Southampton although, despite going unbeaten in their last seven in the league against a Newcastle United side that sit a point and a place above them in the table, they have struggled on the road all season with only two wins from their thirteen trips away trips so far (L5 D6) and only one from their last twelve trips to St. James’ Park (L8 D3), where the Magpies are unbeaten in their last four (W1 D3) and could put some much needed distance between themselves and a relegation rival.

10am - Swansea City @ Huddersfield Town – John Smith’s Stadium, NBC Live Extra

After falling the week before to one time relegation rivals Brighton and Hove Albion, who have separated themselves from the rest of the pack fighting the drop after they ran their unbeaten run to five games with a win over the dismal Arsenal, Swansea City bounced back from only the second defeat of manager Carlos Carvahal’s tenure to smash four past West Ham United in a 4-1 victory. With seventeen points from the nine games the Portuguese boss has been in charge, they will visit the John Smith’s Stadium for the second relegation crunch match of the morning against Huddersfield Town.

Huddersfield saw their brief two game winning streak come to an end when they fell to Tottenham 2-0 and dropped level with Swansea and West Ham United on thirty points, three above the drop zone. The six points from the back to back wins however was enough to move the Terriers back in to the thick of the survival race and they should have a slight advantage at home against relegation rivals Swansea, who have only two wins from their fourteen away trips this season (L8 D4) while the Terriers have walked away with points from nine of their fourteen league matches at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Glory
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this, that and the other


Let's start this off with good news.

Actually, let's start it off with great news.

The Philadelphia Flyers lost last night, at home AND on national TV no less, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2.

Now, I'm no fan of the Penguins. But I am a fan of any team that sends the Flyers back to the locker room with their tail between their legs.

And with the Capitals scuffling over the last month or so, any loss that keeps the Flyers below Washington in the standings is good by me.

The Caps are in Los Angeles tonight to take on the Kings.

Bucknell University is headed to the Big Dance after last night's impressive 83-54 shellacking of Colgate in the Patriot League title game.

There's a local connection to Bucknell, as starting guard Kimbal Mackenzie played his high school ball at John Carroll in Bel Air. Mackenzie isn't a Harford County kid. He came to John Carroll via Ontario, Canada, but he was part of an impressive run for then-coach Tony Martin at the Harford County school.

Bucknell will be a sexy underdog pick on a lot of people's March Madness brackets next week and with good reason. They're an outstanding team. They might even wind up being a 14 or 15 seed rather than the traditional 16 seed that goes to the Patriot League titleist.

Speaking of the NCAA tournament, Morgan State is still alive in the MEAC after they upset Bethune Cookman in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament last night. The Bears went just 7-9 in the regular season while B.C. was 12-4, but once again, Todd Bozeman has his team playing at its peak in the conference tourney.

Morgan State will not know their Friday semi-final opponent until the final two quarterfinal games are played tonight.

I'm not sure how much Ichiro Suzuki will get to play for the Seattle Mariners this season, but I'm excited to see him back in the American League for what should be the final campaign of an amazing baseball career.

ESPN's outstanding writer, Wright Thompson, recently authored an extraordinarily compelling piece at ESPN.com. I hate to give those guys in Bristol free clicks. They're already rich enough, if you ask me. But in this case, I have to do it. Take a few minutes today and go here.

I've said it before and will say it again. Ichiro is the best hitter I've ever seen in my lifetime. Yes, better than Pete Rose.

When someone asks me how I quantify the term "best hitter", I say this: If it's the bottom of the ninth and I'm trailing by a run with a man on third and two outs, there's no one I'd rather have at the plate -- in that moment -- trying to get the runner in with a base hit. Ichiro is the man I want at the plate with the bat in his hands.

That is, if Danny Valencia isn't available.

All kidding aside, Valencia is having a terrific first week with the Orioles. He had two doubles in yesterday's win over Tampa Bay and is now hitting .444 in Grapefruit League action.

It's a long shot for Valencia to make the roster coming out of Sarasota. But the one thing he continues to prove is that he can hit, particularly against left-handers.

I guess there's an outside chance he could snag the team's still-available "utility infielder" spot, which I assume will likely go to Ruben Tejada, but Valencia's lack of defensive quality might wind up costing him that role.

He can play first base somewhat adequately, but the Orioles have two other guys who can step in there and give Chris Davis a breather if necessary.

He's played a lot of third base in his career, but not nearly well enough to do it regularly any more. I suppose, though, he could step in for Tim Beckham once every day ten days and not completely butcher the job.

If he continues to hit like he's hitting in spring training, it's going to be hard for Buck to go with Tejada over Valencia, unless defense becomes the prime, number one consideration. If so, Tejada's coming north and Valencia will move on.

One thing we can take comfort in is that it's unlikely Valencia will come back to haunt the Orioles at any time during the 2018 season. The Birds don't have any left-handed starting pitchers.

The PGA Tour heads to the Tampa Bay area for this week's event -- The Valspar -- and I'm taking Tony Finau to win the event. If you're a fantasy golf player, you'll note I used him in my six-man team that I published here yesterday at #DMD.

I've become a huge fan of Finau's. He's yet another up and coming American player with a seemingly limitless ceiling. In fact, I'll go as far as to say once the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team is set with their eight "guaranteed" spots (via the points system) that Finau will be one of Jim Furyk's captain's picks in late September.

By the way, back in late December when I made my tournament-by-tournament picks of this year's entire PGA Tour schedule, I took Ryan Palmer to win The Valspar. He is in the field this week, so keep your eye on him as well.

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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.


in defense of the ncaa


“The NCAA is corrupt. We know that. Sorry, it’s going to make headlines, but it’s corrupt."

So said LeBron James recently, when asked about the FBI investigation into Arizona coach Sean Miller and all the other schools, basketball coaches and players on its expanding radar.

James has two sons, ages 13 and 10, both of whom are already good players. If they’re good enough to play in the NBA, under current league rules, they won’t be able to do what their father did straight out of Akron, Ohio. They’ll have to play college basketball, or play somewhere else until they are 19.

LeBron, who (rightly) never considered playing college basketball, now has a more vested interest in it. Plus, he’s a thoughtful man with a right to his opinion, no matter how many people would rather he just shut up and dribble.

The problem is that he’s wrong.

I’m not going to defend Sean Miller if he did what was reported by Mark Schlabach of ESPN. That qualifies as a blatant disregard for the rules, even if it hardly seems worthy of investigation by the FBI.

I won’t defend the NBA and its rule that began with the 2006 draft, that players eligible for the draft must be at least 19 during the calendar year of the draft and at least one year removed from the graduation of their high school class. It’s wrong on many levels, separate from whatever you think of the “one-and-done” college basketball culture of the last decade.

I won’t defend the soundbites from NCAA president Mark Emmert, who seems pretty tone deaf whenever he’s asked to discuss college athletics, which is kind of funny considering that’s supposed to be his wheelhouse.

What's worse? College football players not getting paid to play or Alabama coach Nick Saban making $11 million a year to coach them?

I’ll defend the NCAA though, because I think many of the biggest criticisms of the organization, and of college sports in general, are just dead wrong.

The NCAA is a voluntary membership organization. Emmert, a former college president, is a figurehead for the group. He’s also the boss of more than 500 administrative employees who work for the NCAA’s national office in Indianapolis.

He doesn’t run the NCAA though. The member schools run it. They make the rules, whatever you think of them. They propose and vote on policies via committees. The schools decide what rules to adopt, whether it’s how many teams should be chosen for the basketball tournament, something related to academic qualification for incoming students or what constitutes an “extra benefit.”

Then the schools themselves are responsible for implementing them back on campus.

That’s the system currently in place. There’s nothing inherently corrupt about it. From a business standpoint, there can’t be too many organizations in the United States that are better organized, especially when it comes to running championship events.

There are aspects of the NCAA model that lend themselves to corruption, though. Foremost among them is the idea of institutional control—that the ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the athletic department is incumbent on the institution itself.

It is, and always has been, the only way a group of very disparate institutions located in all 50 states and the District and Columbia can police itself. And it is, and always has been, a huge problem.

Everybody on campus wants to win, and every school makes decisions with that in mind. Some university presidents wish athletics didn’t exist, even at the schools at which it seems most important. Others love the pride of it, or the jock-sniffing, even at places that aren’t as well known. Athletic directors must navigate that minefield.

The culture of intercollegiate athletics at each institution — in recruiting, compliance, academic support, coaching, marketing, etc. — is the result of internal decision-making.

Institutional control, at a certain level then, is no control at all. At some point, whether it’s a coach offering money he shouldn’t or an alumnus sticking his nose in somewhere he shouldn’t or an athlete taking something he shouldn’t, it’s probably going to happen.

And the only thing “wrong” about any of it is that it might not follow the rules that only the institution itself can really enforce.

The public isn’t too interested in all of that though. They’re interested in money, and specifically why the athletes don’t seem to get any of it.

And around the time of the NCAA tournament, when the TV timeouts are three minutes long and we must hear five times an hour about the NCAA’s “corporate champions,” I can understand that interest. I think the NCAA membership should, as quickly as possible, adopt the Olympic model when it comes to college athletes.

If a local car dealership in Kalamazoo wants Western Michigan University’s star quarterback as an endorser, that should be ok. If he needs representation to help make that deal, he should be allowed to have it.

As for paying players, on the level as part of an organized system, I believe that’s the most important conversation to be had in American sports today. That won’t stop the “black market” college sports economy entirely, but at the very least it will be an exercise in good faith.

The most prevalent critique of college athletics is that everybody associated with the entire enterprise is profiting except for the players.

The facts? With the exception of a very small number of programs, college athletics is a losing proposition, even if you have an FBS football team. Especially if you have an FBS football team, which requires an outlay of resources that only a few schools can recoup.

I know hundreds of people who work in the background of college athletics, at the highest levels and the lowest. If any of them were interested in getting rich, they wouldn’t be working in college athletics. It might be the worst industry in the country for that.

Still, even if they only make $45,000 a year with health benefits, that’s more than the football players they publicize, tutor or rehabilitate. I get it.

And yes, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer make way too much money, all the while having the freedom of movement to break their contracts tomorrow. Meanwhile, the players that win them national championships get no salary and must sit out an entire year if they leave their school for another one.

Not fair, but let’s make it about figuring out a system for compensating players instead of begrudging adults for getting large salaries that they may or may not deserve.

The NCAA system doesn’t make it easy to enforce the rules, which makes you wonder why some of them must exist in the first place. People, whether it’s Rick Pitino or an agent’s assistant we’ve never heard of, have always been prone to breaking the rules, especially if money is involved.

Whatever the system is, people will always find a way to get around it. The only thing to do is make the system work as well as it can, which clearly isn’t the case now.

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ten days of orioles predictions


On day one, I opined that I suspect Trey Mancini might take a small step backwards in 2018.

Yesterday, via The Juice, I gushed over the prosects for Kevin Gausman this season, going as far as to say I think he'll go 17-10 with a 3.98 ERA. In other words, Gausman's going to finally put it all together.

Day 3 of my O's-based predictions centers on the team.

My hunch is that the Birds will come out of the gate quickly, like they did a season ago when they compiled an early 22-10 mark before eventually leveling off and then hitting the wall in September en route to a 75-87 campaign.

I'll say this about the 2018 season: The O's will be 19-11 at the 30-game mark. They'll be in first place by a game or two over the Red Sox.

Confidence will be high in Baltimore. Fans will start to think "why not us?" by mid-May as the Birds stay near the top of the A.L. East.

And then, predictably, reality will settle in. By the 70-game mark, the Birds will be back near .500 at 36-34. By the time they've played 100 games, the O's will be at 47-53.

Their lack of pitching will catch up to them by the All-Star break, I'm guessing.

In the meantime, though, enjoy the first month of the season.

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as tempting as it might be...


Mock drafts are starting to furiously roll in now.

They usually begin in earnest right after the regular season ends, then business picks up a bit in February and by now, in March, we're seeing a national NFL follower produce his/her mock draft on nearly a daily basis.

Everyone has an opinion on who might go where next month when the NFL Draft takes place.

Naturally, the recent player Combine in Indianapolis has heated up the internet banter and endless mock drafts we've seen, as players show their stuff to NFL teams.

If you're inclined to follow along and put any stock at all in what those folks say, you're seeing an abundance of different outlooks, thoughts and "takes" as it relates to the Ravens.

Lots of people are biting the wide receiver apple, so to speak. The Ravens are so offensively-challenged that it just seems like a no-brainer to assume they're taking a high-quality receiver with the 16th pick in the first round.

Would the Ravens really use their first round pick on a quarterback next month? Some NFL followers believe so.

The team does have a history, though, of shying away from receivers in the early stages of the draft and focusing instead on the guys in the trenches. Even though Steve Bisciotti said at his press conference in February, "Don't expect us to take a defensive lineman in the first round" there are still people out there who believe the Ravens would do just that if their draft board told them to do so.

My purple "bird on a tree" told me in mid-January the organization was enamored with safety Derwin James from Florida State. But his stock rose dramatically at the Combine and it stands to reason he might not be available in the middle of the first round if, in fact, the Ravens have circled him as a potential selection at #16.

Then, there's Daniel Jeremiah.

No, he's not a college player. He's an analyst with the NFL Network and NFL.com. He has ties to the Ravens, having spent time in their scouting department a dozen or so years ago.

Jeremiah's mock draft was released on Tuesday and it caused a bit of a stir in Charm City.

He has the Ravens taking Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in the first round with the 16th pick.

I sure hope he's wrong.

It's not that I don't think Mayfield is a good quarterback. He might very well turn out to be a fine NFL player.

And I'll even stipulate here that I'm on the "other side" when it comes to Joe Flacco. I think he's well into the back nine of his career at this point and that the Ravens should start thinking about their future at that position sooner rather than later.

But not now.

Not with the 16th pick, anyway.

If the Ravens see a quarterback they believe in who is available in the second or third round and they think he's potentially the heir to Flacco, that's fine by me.

But I sure hope they don't draft a quarterback with that first pick in the opening round.

Why?

That's simple. It seems sort of silly to me to pick a player in the first round who isn't going to immediately step in and play right away and make a contribution. Go ahead and insert your quip about Breshad Perriman now, if you so choose.

But, seriously...

Why draft a player in the first round who isn't going to play right away?

That feels like a wasted pick to me, not a smart one.

I'd like to see the Ravens take James, for example, or anyone else that can play right away and make an impact. And yes, that means even an offensive or defensive lineman.

Now, if the Ravens wind up cutting ties with Flacco after this coming season, next April is the time to pick a quarterback in the draft and turn the team over to him. That's what they did in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, of course, with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz respectively.

I realize the quarterback is an ultra-specialty position in the NFL, but you don't see many teams take an offensive tackle in the first round and sit him out for a year or two. You don't see a tight end go in the first round and then sit on the sidelines for a season while he "learns his craft".

If the Ravens do wind up choosing Baker Mayfield in the first round, or any quarterback for that matter, he's most certainly not playing in 2018. In fact, he won't play in Baltimore as long as Joe Flacco is on the roster.

That seems like a foolish first round pick to me.

I don't know that Jeremiah has any inside information to connect with his thought that Mayfield is on the Ravens' radar, but I sure hope he's just guessing-to-make-a-guess on this one.

I like that Mayfield kid. But unless the Ravens have somehow coaxed a team into taking Flacco via an April trade, there's no reason at all for Ozzie Newsome's final first round draft choice to be a quarterback.

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



Tensions in baseball's brewing labor war show no signs of cooling and, if anything, only continue to heat up on the players side. This week it's Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen, who previously mused about the benefits of a strike, directly calling out teams competitiveness.

"There's one team competing for the title in the NL East," Jansen told Jon Heyman. "I think they're competing for the championship of revenue."

The claim is a strong one that no doubt has already caught the attention of the league office, but how fair is it?

The Nationals are the competing team, obviously, and I won't quibble on the Marlins and Mets who clearly don't care how many games they lose on the way to profits sufficient to get ownership out of financial trouble. But the Phillies and Braves? They're in the middle of rebuilding plans aimed at winning.

Maybe those two teams should accelerate their efforts, but it's ridiculous to attach the very notion of rebuilding with the implied notion that any team can find contention through free agency year in and year out.

The times sure have changed when a recent Cy Young award winner still can't get a job and it's nearly mid-March.

And this remains the most concerning aspect of all of this: The players still don't get it. They don't understand where their market is going at all.

This comes through much more clearly in statements Padres new first baseman Eric Hosmer, who had to wait until January to sign his new eight year, nine figure deal, made to Bob Nightengale. Hosmer clearly implies that the owners are illegally colluding against the players, but also provides insight into how players value themselves and other players.

“I don’t think all the teams are trying to be competitive or doing everything they can to protect the integrity of the game," Hosmer said. "If that was the case, why are guys like Carlos Gonzalez and Mike Moustakas still on the market? That raises a lot of red flags. When you’ve got guys that are proven at this level, and have done it for many years at this level that are still on the market looking for jobs, that just tells you something isn’t right about it."

This really says everything about the players self-imposed hole. They continue to view free agent contracts as a reward of sorts for past performance, of being a proven big leaguer. This is a big reason they remain so focused on free agent compensation and disinterested in other avenues to increase labor's share of revenue.

For example, Hosmer goes on to characterize Carlos Gonzalez as one of the best hitters ever, which is nuts.

Sure CarGo was an MVP caliber talent at his peak, but he's hit .252/.308/.427 away from Coors Field in his career. Against left-handed pitchers he's hit just .261/.297/.435, including in games played at Coors.

Simply put: Carlos Gonzalez isn't nearly as good as Erik Hosmer thinks he is, but Hosmers view is likely pretty prevalent among players, and they can't see any reason for him to be floundering on the market.

And this could well be the issue for a lot of guys left on the market. What if teams just don't want to bet on them overcoming their red flags?

Take Alex Cobb, who had a 4.66 ERA outside of the Tropicana Field dome last year. Or Lance Lynn, whose strikeout rate dropped markedly. Even Jake Arrieta is 32 years old this season, making a long term megacontract with him less appealing even if he is a Cy Young contender in year one.

The simple fact is that the players and front offices are living in different worlds right now, and the players are well beyond the point of needing to figure that out.

The value is in young players these days, specifically because they're cost controlled. Furthermore, to Jansen's point, building the kind of young base the Cubs and Astros have sets you up to contend not just once, but for several years while adding new players at the big league level.

The Astros picked up Justin Verlander and traded for Gerrit Cole.

The Cubs have signed Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and Yu Darvish. Having good young cores first made that much easier to do and belies the contention that rebuilding is about increasing profits and not trying to win.

Ultimately the player's problem is the same one they've had since they signed the 2011 CBA: They just don't understand that teams pay them for what they expect them to do, not what they did in the past.

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fantasy golf picks for "the valspar"


If you used my six-man team that I published here last Wednesday, I made you $7.00, I believe.

Well, I only made you $3.00 in profit, because it cost you $4.00 to get in the game. But you were a "money winner" last week at DraftKings if you played my team.

If not for lousy fourth round play from Thomas Pieters, you would have probably made $10 or $12, actually.

One guy with a bad round of three or four over par can wreck your hopes.

This week's event, the Valspar Championship just outside of Tampa Bay, is a little more tricky than last week's tournament in Mexico City. There was no 36-hole cut last week, so all of your players accumulated points for you over four rounds.

There's a cut this week, which means you have to go 6-for-6 to guarantee that you'll make money and at least 5-for-6 in cuts made to have any hope of at least making a few bucks. If you go 4-for-6, you're almost always going to get shut out.

A must-play this week for your fantasy golf team is Jordan Spieth. He can't go much longer without winning a golf tournament.

So, let's go to the field and give you six guys who are going to make the cut.

Jordan Spieth is the most expensive player in the field at $11,800 but he is a MUST play in my opinion. He's 6-for-7 in cuts made, for starters. But more importantly than that, he has won at Valspar before and his track record at the course is significantly strong.

After battling an early season illness, Spieth looks ready to prime his game for Augusta National in four weeks. The fact that his buddy Justin Thomas is closing in on him in career wins (Spieth with 11, Thomas with 8) might be just the kick in the pants Jordan needs. You have to play him this week in your lineup.

I'm such a huge fan of the golf game of Tony Finau that I find myself going with him nearly every week. And with good reason. He's 8-for-9 in cuts made and is always hanging around the first page of the leaderboard at some point on Saturday or Sunday. He's due to win soon. Don't be at all surprised if it happens this week. He'll cost you $9,400, though, so we're spending money at an impressive clip thus far.

We have to squeeze four guys into $28,800, which means at some point we'll need to take a very inexpensive player to fill out the 6-man team.

It's hard to go against a guy who is 10-for-10 in cuts made. Sure, at some point, Kevin Streelman is going to miss a 36-hole cut, but I say let's ride him until he does it. Streelman is a solid ball striker and one of those guys who just makes cuts and a bunch of money along the way. He'll cost us $7,500.

John Huh is a $,7300 investment who is 8-for-11 in cuts made and has a decent career track record at The Valspar. We have to keep adding guys in that $7,000 range.

Even though he's just 5-for-9 in cuts made this year, Sam Saunders is a guy who seemingly plays well in Florida, where he spent a lot of time teeing it up with his famous grandfather, Arnold Palmer. At $7,000, he gives us the chance to fill out the roster with one more $7,000 player with our final pick.

I don't know much about Aaron Wise, but I know he was a beast in his NCAA career and at some point soon, this young PGA Tour player is going to start working his way up the ladder and getting on the first page of the leaderboard. At $6,900, he's a good pick for this week's event.

That leaves us with just $100 on our roster.

I wish we could keep it.

Other players I like this week (and will use on various other teams I play) include Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Grayson Murray, Rory Sabbatini, Webb Simpson, Luke List, Si Woo Kim and Austin Cook.

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golf leaders are making a mistake by fiddling with the ball


If you’re not a golfer, even a casual one, this probably won’t interest you.

But you might want to stick around anyway. Because what’s happening in golf can also be connected to various other sports that you might both play and enjoy as a spectator.

Yesterday, the sport’s two most well-known governing bodies, the R&A (Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Scotland) and the USGA (United States Golf Association) released a joint study that says, essentially, increased driving distances by professional players have led them to consider changing the component(s) of the golf ball in an effort to cut back on the length those players can hit the ball off the tee.

The study found that distance gains have increased more than three yards since 2016, one year after the same study found that incremental gains were a "slow creep" of 0.2 yards per year since 2003. The findings will not result in any immediate rule changes, but instead will spark further evaluation of the issue.

Here’s hoping that so-called “further evaluation” gets the folks in charge to wise up and understand what’s really happening in the sport of golf.

It’s really simple: Players, of all ages, are getting better every year.

The golf ball isn’t the reason why 12 year old kids are shooting sub-70 rounds in virtually every AJGA tournament.

The golf ball isn’t why some players on my high school team at Calvert Hall are shooting even par for nine holes when we practice in the middle of February or March.

PGA Tour player Tony Finau has hit six drives of 375 yards or better so far in the 2017-2018 season (compared to just five all of last season), yet his scoring average remains generally the same as it was last season.

And the golf ball most certainly isn’t the reason why 47 year old Phil Mickelson just beat all the flat-bellies this past Sunday in Mexico City.

More players, at all levels, are simply better at golf than they were in 2000. Or 2010, even.

The R&A and USGA think the reason people are better is because the golf ball goes further.

Maybe it does go further this year than it did in say, 2015, but by how much? A few yards? Five or ten, max? That’s really enough to start thinking about rolling back the distance the golf ball can travel?

That’s completely silly, if you ask me.

Dustin Johnson is supposed to hit the ball 340 yards. He’s in remarkable athletic condition.

I’m 55 years old and not in remarkable condition. I can hit the ball 275 yards on command and occasionally get one to gently roll out to about 300 yards.

Golf's governing bodies see how far guys like Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau and Gary Woodland are hitting the ball off the tee and they immediately think everyone is doing it. Not true. Not true at all. Sure, some people are smashing it 350 yards or more on occasion, but most of the great unwashed are just happy to hit it 250 yards and in the fairway.

I have a friend who is a competitive bowler. He says the main goal of bowling is to throw the ball as fast as you can while still being able to maintain your accuracy. "The harder you hit the pins, the more likely you'll knock them all down," he says.

When I ask him how to throw it faster, he says it's a combination of technique and physical strength and ability. "I'm throwing it faster this year than ever before," he brags to me. "And my average is up about four pins per-game because of it."

This is all circles back to one issue: Professional athletes are supposed to be extraordinarily talented. That’s why they’re called – wait for it – “professionals”.

Golfers, in particular, are better now than they were in 2000 or 2010 because technology has improved in a wide variety of areas.

The golf clubs are “better”. That’s true.

The golf ball is “better”. That’s also true.

And the golf courses themselves are also “better”. The mere fact that courses no longer allow metal spikes has helped putting and scoring in a way not many folks are willing to admit or maybe even realize.

But all of those improvements in technology pale in comparison to the biggest reason why players are better in 2018: Instruction.

Thirty years ago, for example, you heard these four ways as the basic starting point of all golf teaching -- Keep your head down.

Think about it, how many times in your life have you hit a bad shot and had a friend or playing competitor say, "You lifted your head up on that one"?

Today, none of the game's great teachers tell students to keep their head down. In fact, it's almost the opposite. Instructors want players to rise up through impact. In the old days, you loaded "up" on the backswing and hit "down" on the golf ball.

In 2018, it's the opposite. You actually stay centered and low going back and try to create as much width as you can, then try and mimic a long jumper's body at impact and thrust yourself up with great force as you strike the ball. This creates a far greater launch angle as your club meets the ball which, naturally, leads to more distance.

It's all not quite that easy, of course, but the main root of that small explanation about the use of your body was not about the golf ball...but about the golf swing.

That’s it, plain and simple. There’s more great instruction available today than ever before, whether you have a personal teacher you see once or twice a month or via YouTube or some other internet offering that helps you understand the golf swing better.

I have a junior on my Calvert Hall team who spent his first two years on the junior varsity squad. When we gathered for varsity practice and evaluations this past January, I noticed he was hitting the ball better. His swing looked different than I remembered it from the two previous seasons.

On our first day of practice at Eagle’s Nest, he shot 40 for 9 holes. I noticed during our session on the range that he was hitting his driver long and straight. His irons were crisply struck as well.

”You’ve definitely improved,” I said to him out on the course one day in mid-February. “How did you get better from last summer until now?”

”I read a bunch of golf books and watched a lot of Fred Couples videos on YouTube,” he replied.

The golf ball isn’t the reason he’s hitting it 50 yards longer than he hit it this time last year.

In short, he got better over the last 10 months. He improved his swing. He understands what his body needs to do now in order to strike the golf ball properly.

And he did that all on his own, with a little help from someone with the one of the best golf swings of the last 25 years, Fred Couples.

The PGA of America did their own study recently and came up with an interesting statistic as well. In each of the last five years, the average PGA Tour player’s age decreased while the average player’s height increased.

Translation: They’re getting bigger (and stronger) earlier these days.

And that’s because, at age 18, they’re not eating cheeseburgers and french fries every day.

Budding professional golfers aren’t drinking three soft drinks before, during and after a round of golf.

Cake and ice cream? Not for a college sophomore who aspires to be on the PGA Tour someday.

Professional golfers are in better condition than ever before.

The instruction they’re getting is better than ever before.

And the courses they’re playing are in better condition than ever before.

Sure, the equipment is also better.

Everything is better.

I bet today's baseball bats used by major leaguers are "better" than the ones that were used in 1984, too. I know hockey equipment, particularly skates and sticks, are far superior to what was used in the 1970's and 1980's.

The last time I checked, Dustin Johnson’s supposed to shoot 64 the same way Tom Brady is supposed to throw for 450 yards.

They’re really freakin’ good at what they do.

Rolling back the golf ball so it doesn’t go as far?

That’s a dumb consideration, plain and simple.

In closing, let me ask you this if you're a golfer. When's the last time you hit the ball so far during a round of golf that you didn't enjoy it?

When's the last time you got to your car, put the clubs in the trunk, and said to yourself, "I used to enjoy this game when I didn't hit the ball so friggin' far. I can't have fun anymore because I'm just hitting the ball too far off the tee"?

I rest my case.

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a great night at martin's west


I bumped into an old friend as I was leaving last night's Fellowship of Christian Athletes (Maryland Chapter) dinner at Martin's West.

"I better read about this in The Dish tomorrow!" he said as we parted ways in the parking lot.

I'd always planned to write about it here today but his extra push helped remind me that it was important.

Ben Watson of the Ravens and his wife, Kirsten, stole the show with their closing presentation on how much God has positively impacted their lives. This year's FCA motto is "Strong", and Ben and Kirsten spent a great deal of time talking about the word and how they interpreted it as it relates to their family, marriage and devotion to their faith.

Ben Watson and his wife Kirsten were the featured speakers at Monday night's FCA Dinner in Baltimore, where the two of them spoke about their faith and how it helps them raise their five children.

My friends from Kelly and Associates were there, including Frank Kelly III and his wife Gayle, my friend Brian Hubbard, and several other tables of Kelly employees and friends. Brian, in fact, was the person who introduced me to FCA a few years ago.

I saw Van Brooks as well. He's doing great work with his S.A.F.E. Alternative Foundation in Baltimore City, still, and we chatted for a few minutes about an upcoming visit I'll be making to his facility.

I went straight from Calvert Hall golf practice to the dinner, so I was sporting a golf pullover with the Cardinal and "Calvert Hall Golf" embroidered on the chest. I said to Van, a proud Loyola Blakefield graduate, "I have one of these for you...in your size."

He smiled and said, "I'm good. But thanks anyway."

Those Loyola guys...

Speaking of Calvert Hall, the Cardinals' outstanding football coach, Donald Davis, was also in attendance last night. Donald remains one of the most respected teachers and coaches at Calvert Hall. It's a pleasure to know him and talk sports and leadership with him whenever we have a moment or two to catch up.

O.J. Brigance and his wife Chandra presented The Brigance Brigade FCA Courage Award at last night's dinner. O.J. remains an inspiration to so many people through his battle with ALS and I was in awe with how many people took time last night to stop by his table and greet the former Ravens player. I'd say he was the most popular guy in the building, for sure.

FCA is a wonderful organization who has touched the lives of many youth coaches and players over the last 50 years. I attend a weekly "huddle" at Calvert Hall that features upwards of two dozen student-athletes who show up at school 50 minutes every Thursday to discuss their relationship with God and how He positively impacts their lives.

If you're so inclined, you can learn more about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes by going to www.fca.org or you can email me (drew@drewsmorningdish.com) and I'll be happy to tell you more about them.

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ten days of orioles predictions


Despite the forecast for snow in the area tonight and tomorrow, I'm thinking baseball.

Orioles opening day is Thursday, March 29. Yes, that's too early, but I didn't make the schedule.

With that, I thought I'd make ten Orioles-themed predictions for the 2018 season and come late September or so, we'll look back and see how I fared.

If you have a prediction of your own, throw it in the Comments section below.

I'll start with a simple one today.

Trey Mancini will see his production dip from a season ago, when he finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting.

In 2017, Mancini posted remarkable first-year numbers, hitting .293 with 24 HR and 78 RBI. He produced a more-than-acceptable .338 on-base percentage to go along with a .488 slugging percentage.

I don't see him duplicating those numbers in 2018.

Nothing against Mancini, per se, but I figure we'll see the inevitable "sophomore slump" from him in 2018. Pitchers know more about his tendencies, naturally, and while he can make the same argument about knowing more about them as well, it always seems to work out that the pitchers get the upper hand in year two.

My Mancini numbers for 2018: The average drops down to .266 as his quest for more power rears its head. He'll hit 22 home runs in 2018, but 7 of them will come in September. Trey will drive in 70 runs in 2018.

That's not a major drop in production, mind you. There's not much difference between .293/24 HR/78 RBI and .266/22/70. But my guess is Mancini takes a half-step back this season, as most young players tend to do.

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ryder cup win on foreign soil fuels phil and tiger


When you have a gazillion dollars in the bank and you've won more golf tournaments than you ever thought you might, what's left?

For the two oldest, "best" players still teeing it up for a living on the PGA Tour, there's an easy answer.

Neither Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods have been part of a winning Ryder Cup team on foreign soil. No U.S. team has won the Ryder Cup in Europe since the Americans won at The Belfry in 1993. Since then they've lost in 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

And not that it matters, but nearly all of those losses in Europe were thumpings, too. The 2010 matches were decided by one point, but the rest were anti-climatic.

We haven't just gone over there and lost. We've gone over there and been run out of the gym.

The 2018 event is likely the final chance for the Woods-Mickelson duo to win a Ryder Cup on the road.

They've both done just about everything a PGA Tour player could do...except win a Ryder Cup on European soil. Will Phil and Tiger get that chance in Paris this September?

With Mickelson's win yesterday at the WGC event in Mexico City, he moved up to fourth in the standings for this year's team, which will face the European side in France in late September.

Woods isn't anywhere near the top 10 at this point, but if he continues to play well and sneaks in a handful of top ten finishes, it's almost a certainty that he will be added to the team as a captain's pick.

He could also make the team outright with a win or two, depending on the tournament(s).

Here's the odd thing. For all of their greatness, Woods and Mickelson have never played particularly well in the bi-annual event.

Phil has played in 45 career matches and is 18-20-7, with a 5-5-1 mark in singles competition.

Tiger is 13-17-3 in his Ryder Cup career with a 4-1-2 record in singles.

While those records aren't horrible by any means -- remember, you're playing against a team full of top 20 players in the world -- they're certainly not up to the standards of each guy's play throughout his PGA Tour career.

For whatever reason, the Ryder Cup hasn't been overly kind to Phil and Tiger.

They even tried playing together once, way back in 2004. Captain Hal Sutton's famous philosophy was "put the two best players in the world together and turn them loose". It didn't turn out so well as the duo lost both morning matches on Friday at Oakland Hills CC.

But now, as both players enter the November of their respective careers, there's not much else to accomplish. Sure, Mickelson could still use a victory in the U.S Open to finally claim that elusive grand slam he's coveted. And Tiger would love to win at least three more TOUR events to tie Sam Snead's career mark of 82 wins.

All told, though, they've done almost enough.

But they both still need a Ryder Cup "away" win.

If they each make the team this fall, it stands to reason they're going to have their best chance ever to win on foreign soil.

Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka are virtually locks for the team at this point. Those four can smash-and-bash with anyone in the world. Then there's Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar, both of whom just need a win sometime between now and September to secure their spot.

That's six really good players right there. Wait, "really good" is a lame description. Those are six "great" players, with only Kuchar and Fowler missing a major championship on the back of their bubble gum card.

Others like Gary Woodland, Brian Harman, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed are in prime position right now to play their way on the team, but with only eight spots available via the qualification process, there's no doubt someone in the 9-12 range will be left off the squad.

Captain Jim Furyk will have some tough decisions to make in September when he announces his four selections.

It looks like he might not have to worry about "adding" Phil. His win yesterday in Mexico pretty much locks down his spot on the roster.

He might have to add Woods, though.

If he does, Furyk has a perfect motivational tool to use with both players.

"For all of your greatness," Furyk can say, "neither of you have won a Ryder Cup outside of the United States." (Neither has Furyk, by the way, but that doesn't matter.)

And don't think the players are unaware of that fact. Mickelson mentioned it yesterday during his post-round TV interview.

“I've made it known that one of my big goals is for me to be a part of a winning team in Europe," Phil said. "It hasn't happened in my career. It would mean a tremendous amount to me to have us succeed over on European soil."

Woods knows it, too.

If there's one thing both players have in common it's their knowledge of golf achievements, records and history.

Their career wouldn't be looked at any less favorably if the two of them fail to win a Ryder Cup away from the U.S. They'll still have those wins and all of those major titles.

But they'll know that an empty spot remains. The Ryder Cup means a great deal to professional golfers. Those who have played in it say the pressure on the first tee is greater than anything they ever experienced in "regular" golf.

If this is their last chance to win on foreign soil, Woods and Mickelson need to make the best of it. For themselves.

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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.


starting rotation edition


You can’t get the whole story without asking the 5 Ws: Who? What? When? Where? and Why?

Who?

Dylan Bundy

The now 25-year-old Bundy had one of the best single-game pitching performances in team history last Aug. 29 against the Mariners. If the Orioles hadn’t been in a defensive shift in the fourth inning against left-handed hitting Kyle Seager, allowing him to dump a bunt single to the left side, Bundy would have thrown the team’s first no-hitter (by a single pitcher) since Jim Palmer in 1969.

In his next outing, Bundy allowed five hits and five runs and threw 98 pitches in four innings of work.

Bundy isn’t inconsistent, though. It’s actually the opposite. His mechanics are the best I’ve seen for an Orioles starting pitcher since Mike Mussina—repeatable, balanced and fluid. When that occurs, a pitcher is usually around the plate a lot.

With his injury history, Bundy doesn’t throw 98 mph anymore. His fastball is usually around 92 or 93, and it’s straight. In the Major Leagues, a straight four-seam fastball in the low 90s in the strike zone is about the worst pitch you can throw.

He’s got a terrific cutter, which he uses especially well in jamming left-handed hitters. His 12-to-6-type curveball is an old-fashioned pitch you rarely see anymore. His changeup is legitimate as an out pitch.

If Bundy has to rely on his fastball, though, he’s just another guy. And the team needs him to be more than just another pitcher this year.


What?

Command

If Dylan Bundy has it, occasionally with all four of his pitches, Kevin Gausman often lacks it, with all five of his pitches, which sometimes seem to blend into one exploding pitch that occasionally finds the corner of the plate.

His stuff, including a fastball that can get near 100 mph, is in many ways harder to hit than Bundy’s, yet the stats say otherwise. He gave up 208 hits in 187 innings last year, the product of having to pitch to the middle of the strike zone after falling behind in the count due to wildness.

Gausman throws everything hard. It’s easy to see why he was drafted fourth overall in 2012, and it’s easy to see why he hasn’t quite reached the level Orioles fans would have liked.

It’s nice to have a strikeout pitcher on a squad with a dearth of them; Gausman has finished in the top 10 in the American League in strikeouts per nine innings in each of the last two years. And it’s great to have a workhorse, assuming he can avoid any more Spring Training collisions. Gausman and Tampa’s Chris Archer were the only AL pitchers to start 34 games last season.

At 27, Gausman is no longer a young pitcher. He’s in the prime of his career and needs to be better more often.


When?

2017

Newly-signed Andrew Cashner spent 2017 with the Rangers and started 28 games. His 3.40 ERA was good, his 15 home runs allowed in 167 innings pitched really good. His walks, and his inability to make up for them with a Kevin Gausman-like strikeout ability, weren’t so good.

On the Orioles right now, Cashner might be the third starter. The question is whether he deserves to be considered as anything more than a fifth starter type.

The 30-year-old is an interesting story. Like Gausman and Bundy, he is a former first-round draft pick, by the Cubs in 2008. He was supposed to be the Cubs fifth starter in 2011 but missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. After that season, he was traded to the Padres, who sent eventual three-time All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo to Chicago in return.

In 2012, in a Spring Training game for San Diego in Arizona, Cashner averaged 102 mph on 10 pitches in a relief outing.

Where did that Cashner go? Injuries have made a difference, as have the nuances between being a starter and reliever. Orioles fans know how Zach Britton can throw in one inning compared to when he was a starter. Let it fly.

Cashner is a better gamble than Ubaldo Jimenez, since it’s only a two-year commitment from the team. Whether he is a more effective pitcher than Jimenez is a harder thing to know.


Where?

The bottom of the barrel

Who is the Orioles’ fifth starter, assuming that Chris Tillman is the fourth?

Mike Wright, Jr., has no more minor league options. He’s started 21 games in the Major Leagues. Both of those things seem like a reason to make him the final starter by the end of Spring Training. Not a good reason, but a reason.

Gabriel Ynoa seems like more of a long reliever than a starter. Then again, a lot of the team’s potential fifth starters seem a lot more like long relievers than starters.

The Orioles picked up a Rule 5 guy from the Yankees by the name of Nestor Cortes. Apparently, he gets people out like many lefties, with craftiness and off-speed pitches. Plus, he struck out 15 and allowed only 10 hits in 21 innings in the Dominican Winter League!

Personally, I’m all for Miguel Castro in the fifth spot. He has the kind of ability that none of the other three have. He has the kind of ability that nobody on the team besides Bundy and Gausman have. Plus, he does have an option, in case someone else is pitching better.

I don’t know who that would be exactly. The Orioles are going to need a fifth starter earlier than usual this year, with games on 12 consecutive days beginning March 31, seven of which come against the Astros and Yankees.


Why?

We owe it to him?

Chris Tillman started on Opening Day for the Orioles for three consecutive years. In many ways, his successes and failures mirrored that of those three teams.

When he was good, going back to the 2012 season and his breakout second half with nine wins, the team was good. When he was mediocre, so were the Orioles. When he was at first injured and then absolutely awful last season, the team had its worst season since 2011.

All of that means that, after nine seasons as a full-time or part-time starter with the team, Tillman ranks 20th in team history with 73 career wins.

Hardly a reason to bring him back for a 10th year, but what other choices did the team have? Tillman definitely had no other choice.

Tillman’s effectiveness as a pitcher, such as it has been, has always been somewhat of a mystery. His size, sometimes too big, seems to get in the way of consistent mechanics. In the first five or 10 pitches of a game, it’s usually easy to see whether he “has it” or not. He’s on top of the ball, pounding the bottom of the strike zone at 92, or he’s under it, floating his fastball at 86.

There’s never been a guy who threw more pitches in five decent innings than Chris Tillman. Eventually, the pitches were bound to remain the same without the good results.

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interest in landry makes sense, but at what price for ravens?


An ESPN report on Sunday linked both the Ravens and Chicago Bears to trade talks involving the Dolphins and wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

It obviously makes great sense for the offensively-challenged Ravens, who haven't had a "real" number one receiver in...well...maybe all the way back to the mid 1990's with Michael Jackson.

There have been some high quality receivers in Baltimore since then; Mason, Boldin and Smith Sr. are the first three to come to mind, but it's easy to argue that none of those three were among the league's "elite" receivers during their time in Charm City.

Funny thing, though. We'd take any of those three here now. Or someone like them, even.

Landry, in my opinion, is an Anquan Boldin clone, but with a tad more speed. He's strong, runs good routes and holds on to what is thrown his way. He'd have some huge shoes to fill to come to Baltimore and replicate the job Boldin did for Joe Flacco, but Landry is, without question, a highly talented player.

But at what price?

The Dolphins are set to fork over $16 million for him under the franchise tag in 2018.

That means, in Landry's mind, he's no less than a $16 million player this coming season. And he's probably right.

But can the Ravens afford to have a $16 million wide receiver in their salary cap?

To me, there's an easier question to answer if I'm Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh.

Can the Ravens afford to have the same lame receiving corps in 2018 that they had in 2017? The answer, of course, is "no, they can't".

Some would argue the NFL is an "offensive league". To get even more specific, some call it a "passing league".

In my mind, there's a better term. The NFL is a "get as many really good players as you can league".

The Ravens, if we're being honest, don't have a lot of really good players on their roster. They have some talented ones. And a few really good ones. But they need more high level, "elite" kind of players.

Jarvis Landry fits that bill.

It would be interesting to see how he fits in the AFC North. No one would know if he does -- or doesn't -- until he gets here and puts in the work.

The AFC North didn't fit Jeremy Maclin.

It definitely did fit Steve Smith, Sr.

If it's a good fit for Landry, the Ravens will be moving in the right direction.

But first they have to get him. And they'll have to give up something meaningful to pry him away from Miami.

Worth it?

It is in my eyes. You can't keep trotting out those same mediocre receivers week in and week out and expect to make chicken soup out of chicken manure.

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miller returns to arizona as story dies


Well, that didn't take long.

And boy was I ever wrong.

So, too, were lots of other folks who cover basketball for various media companies all over the country.

Sean Miller coached Arizona last night as the Wildcats beat California to win the regular season PAC-12 title. He coached last Thursday evening, as well. It was here, not even ten days ago, where I opined that Miller would never again coach a college basketball game.

Miller looked all but gone after news broke he was recorded on a wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment for DeAndre Ayton, a freshman on the current Arizona team who has already announced he'll be heading to the NBA next season. The head coach sat out last week's game against Oregon and missed three practices while the school conducted their own investigation.

By Thursday of this week, they apparently had their answer. Miller returned to coach on Thursday and was on the bench last night in the win over Cal.

There's more to come from this, of course.

Did he or didn't he? Sean Miller says he didn't offer DeAndre Ayton's agent any money and the University of Arizona is supporting him. Miller coached the last two games as Arizona prepares for the NCAA tournament.

Someone's going to sue ESPN, for sure. Either Miller, Arizona or both will have their day in court with the folks from Bristol, Connecticut.

Perhaps the FBI will continue to chase after Miller now that he's stood his ground. That would be fun. The FBI doesn't like to lose.

But it appears as if Miller will continue as Arizona's head basketball coach in the wake of a story that had great steam and has now become an afterthought in less than two weeks.

The school must have dug in deep, got the details, and now feels satisfied that their coach is not guilty.

We can only imagine how the "investigation" went at Arizona.

The school probably gathered six administrators in a dark, dusty room with the heat turned up to make it as uncomfortable as they could for Miller.

Miller walked in and sat down, his trademark sweaty white dress shirt already soaked.

"Mr. Miller," the lead administrator said, "these are very serious accusations that have been placed upon you. We're extremely concerned. I hope you understand that these proceedings will go a long way in determining your eventual fate here as the head coach of the Arizona basketball team."

"Yes sir, I understand," Miller replied. "I'm prepared to answer your questions as honestly as I can."

A different administrator spoke next.

"OK, then, let's get started. Mr. Miller, you were reportedly recorded in a conversation with a sports agent discussing a one hundred thousand dollar payment for one of our student-athletes, DeAndre Ayton. That would be a clear violation of NCAA rules and is also strictly forbidden by the university."

The next administrator spoke.

"Mr. Miller," she said. "We're deeply troubled by these accusations. The school has suffered great humiliation because of this story. I'm sure you can understand why we take it so seriously."

"I do understand," Miller said quietly, knowing this game of 6-on-1 was probably not going to end well for him.

The fourth administrator stood up to speak. This, Miller felt, was a terribly ominous sign.

"Coach, I was on the committee that hired you, remember. I was shocked to read that ESPN story, to say the least. We must get to the bottom of this so we can show, if for no other reason, that the University takes these matters seriously. In this interview, you must tell us the truth," she concluded.

"I will, ma'am," Miller replied.

The fifth administrator stood up to speak as well, his loud voice echoing through the dark, empty room. "Mr. Miller, did you ever have a conversation with a sports agent about giving him a payment of one hundred thousand dollars in exchange for the services of basketball player DeAndre Dayton? Please think about your answer, Mr. Miller, and answer it the way you want to answer it the very first time. For what you say here, now, in front of us, is the only answer we'll receive and accept from you."

Miller looked around the room. All eyes were on him. This was his proverbial "moment of truth".

"I never made that comment to a sports agent and I didn't offer anyone one hundred thousand dollars for Mr. Ayton's services," Miller said, emphatically.

There was silence.

It was so quiet, the clock ticking above one of the two exit doors could be heard moving from second to second.

The sixth administrator stood up.

"Thank you, Mr. Miller," he said, forcing a slight smile. "Thank you so much for your honesty. I'm sure the others in the room will agree with me that we're more than relieved to hear you say that. We'll move forward now and put the paperwork in place to close the school's investigation of this matter."

Each administrator then stepped forward to greet Miller.

"Hey, go beat up on Oregon for us next week," one of them said.

Another gripped his hand firmly and shook it. "I think this team has the makings of something special. Once you get in that big dance, anything can happen."

The third said, "I met Mr. Ayton at the freshman move-in last August when he was carrying in his 64 inch hi-def TV from the student parking lot. He seemed like a nice, young man. And a helluva player, too."

The next administrator was excited about a summer golf trip with Miller. "Can't wait to tee it up with you down in Cabo in June," he said. "I'm shipping some great wine down there for us ahead of time."

The fifth administrator gave Miller a pat on the back and drew in closely to him. "I'm so happy to hear you didn't offer that kid any money. We wouldn't know what to do without you."

But the last visit wasn't quite as simple. Or nice. It seems the final administrator wanted to carry on the earlier conversation.

"Sean...please tell me what you're telling us is the truth," he whispered. "We can't afford to have this internal investigation blow up in our face. You're telling us the truth, right? You didn't offer that agent any money did you?"

Miller felt uneasy at the additional questioning. Had he not sounded convincing enough earlier, he wondered?

"No, sir, I did not," Miller said.

"Good...good...very good," the administrator replied. "My old college roommate is the Dean of Students at UCLA and I've been ragging on him all year about those three kids from the basketball team who got caught stealing sunglasses in China. He's been crushing me this last week or so about your situation. I can't wait to call and tell him you didn't do it after all."

For those wondering, yes, this was borrowed directly from that great scene in the movie "Back to School", where Rodney Dangerfield is accused of academic fraud and Ned Beatty says, "Mr. Melon, I'm only going to ask you this one time. Was the work you turned in your own?" Dangerfield (Melon) hesitates for 20 seconds and says, "I can't lie to you Dean Martin. Yes it is." Beatty (Martin) smiles and says, "I'm satisfied."

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some 21 year old kid is beating the best golfers in the world


Shubhankar Sharma.

He's a 21 year old from India who is 18 holes away from one of the biggest stories -- and upsets -- in the history of the PGA Tour.

Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang -- they all won the PGA Championship at some point in their less-than-impressive PGA Tour careers but at least they were guys we had heard of before.

No one has ever heard of Shubhankar Sharma. And with good reason. This tournament in Mexico City is his PGA Tour debut.

OK, this isn't exactly a Happy Gilmore kind of story. Sharma's not a hockey-player-turned-golfer. He's actually won a pair of events on the Asian Tour.

Shubhankar Sharma hasn't blinked since taking the lead early in round one on Thursday. He now sits just 18 holes away from one of the most improbable wins in PGA Tour history.

But this is the first time he's ever played a professional golf tournament in North America.

He currently sits at 13-under par and leads guys like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello by two shots.

It's one thing if he's leading the John Deere Classic or some other event on TOUR that doesn't boast a high quality field. But this tournament in Mexico features nearly all of the top 25 players in the world.

Sharma, a 21 year old, is beating up on Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Justin Thomas and the aforementioned likes of Mickelson, Garcia and Cabrera-Bello.

He's beating everyone, actually.

I said it on Thursday, Friday and again yesterday. I'll say it again today and see if the fourth time is the charm.

Some dude you've never heard of before isn't winning this golf tournament.

That means Shubhankar Sharma isn't winning today.

But I'm rooting like the devil for him. It will be a great story to share with my Calvert Hall Golf team at practice later on Sunday if he pulls it off and wins.

And even if he doesn't, we've learned that the kid can play.

You might not have heard of Shubhankar Sharma before last Thursday, but you'll be hearing his name in the future, for sure.

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elbow ailment sidelines chris davis


It's probably nothing to worry about, but now we get a little better idea of why the O's went out and signed Danny Valencia earlier this week.

Chris Davis is ailing.

Davis has been bothered recently by a sore right elbow and forearm, so the team sent him off to get a MRI and look for any structural damage. Fortunately, the MRI was clean. Davis will sit out 3-5 days to give the injury time to rest.

Valencia, a less than stellar defensive player who probably best fits at first base, was signed to a minor league deal on Friday. If Davis is OK, there's no room for Valencia on the 25-man roster and he'll be released later in spring training.

But if Davis is out for any extended period of time -- bleeding into the start of the regular season -- then Valencia has a puncher's chance of making the opening day roster.

Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini can both play first base if pressed, but that would also leave holes in the outfield and at DH as well.

Pedro Alvarez, like Valencia he's in camp on a minor league contract, could also see time at first base if absolutely necessary, but he's worse there, defensively, than Valencia.

Alvarez does bat left-handed, though, which is something the Birds need.

It seems like the Davis injury is small potatoes. He'll take a few days off and be back by mid-week, good as new.

We hope...

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nfl combine earns award for lamest event in sports


Of all the things I ever covered outside of Baltimore during my days on the radio, there's no doubt which one was the clear-cut-winner for the worst event of them all.

It wasn't even close.

The NFL Combine was the worst.

I'll first rattle off a few of the others that we worked to give you some perspective.

Orioles spring training wasn't all that great, frankly, but that was mostly due to the lack of cooperation from the team. The rest of it, though, was fun. I mean, you're in Florida in March, so how bad can it be, right?

You get to take in a few Grapefruit League games along the way and there's a general vibe of hope-springs-eternal when you're around a ballpark in the late winter months.

I went down to spring training three times in my twelve years on the air. The first was in Fort Lauderdale in 2003 and it was a complete s-show -- if you know what I mean. There were characters like Sydney Ponson, who once leaned up against our broadcast table while watching the rest of the team workout on the field. When I politely asked him if he'd take a few minutes to chat with Terry Ford and I during our morning show, he looked at me like I had three heads.

"What?" he asked.

"Can you do a few minutes on the air with us? We're doing a sports talk show that airs in Baltimore," I replied.

The highlight of the annual NFL Combine in Indianapolis is a trip to Steak 'n Shake. That says a lot about how exciting the Combine is, right?

He stood there for about 20 seconds, saying nothing.

Sensing that we were hoping for some sort of answer, Ponson looked over in our direction, left elbow and forearm literally resting on our broadcast table and said, "Nah. I'm good right here."

We mentioned something to one of the PR folks from the Orioles after the show. "Yeah, it's tough to get those guys to do anything," he said.

That was my first glimpse into how little direction or control the Orioles had over their players. Which was to say, none at all.

If Kevin Byrne or Chad Steele from the Ravens tells a player to speak to a member of the media, it gets done. End of story.

Sydney Ponson was leaning against our broadcast table and wouldn't do an interview for six minutes. It was funny stuff. Sort of.

I went down to Sarasota twice. The first time, in 2011, Glenn Clark and I did the show from an international restaurant about 200 yards behind the left field wall at Ed Smith Stadium. "The boss" set that one up for us. We thought it was going to work out just fine until the first day's show ended and our server gave us the bill. They charged us for food and every soft drink or iced tea we consumed while we were on the air.

"The owner will treat you guys great while you're in there," we were told before leaving from Baltimore.

If you call getting a $32.00 food and drink bill getting "treated great", I guess that's correct.

It was on that trip where J.J. Hardy uttered one of the most memorable lines of all time.

Glenn and I approached him after practice in the locker room. He was sitting in his chair.

After extending him formal greetings and explaining who we were with, etc., I asked him if we could chat.

"Can we ask you a few questions, JJ?"

"Sure," he replied. "But I'm not going to stand up. You'll have to kneel down here next to me and ask the questions."

I passed on that offer. It just seemed to me that kneeling down next to J.J. Hardy to do three minutes of radio because he didn't want to "stand up" was a little more than I signed up for when I left Baltimore for sunny Florida.

I did enjoy going to spring training, though, despite knowing the actual "work" part of it would be filled with tension. The Orioles didn't really want us there, truth be told, but it was always my contention that the morning show should spend a week at spring training as a way of getting the listeners acclimated to the new roster.

Ultimately, there were some memories to be made, but not all of them were fond ones.

Covering the Super Bowl was similar in nature. There were lots of good memories -- I think I worked eight of them on radio row -- but the living conditions were so much like The Waltons that it made for a tough six days.

We would routinely have four or five people in one standard hotel room with two beds. There were air mattresses and sleeping bags spread out all over the place. It was a cross between aggravating and embarrassing.

Working radio row was fun, but after a year or two of hearing the same stories from the same people, it started to get old. Quickly.

Oh, and we "worked" on radio row. The entire day of programming was done from the Super Bowl, so we all (well, almost "all") put in 12 hour days to interview people, record segments for later use, and so on.

Any idea that Super Bowl week was a piece of cake and a party in the streets was just not true. It was hard work. It was fun, yes. But we busted our tails.

The NFL Combine was a completely different animal.

There was nothing -- let me emphasize, NOTHING -- about those three days in Indianapolis that was rewarding.

I went once.

And vowed to never go again.

On the first day of our arrival, we collected our media credentials and headed to the press room, which was in the upper level of Lucas Oil Stadium.

We got situated, hooked up all the equipment and settled in.

It was 11:30 am. We weren't on the air that day until 2 pm. I headed out to go watch the Combine.

I walked out to the concourse and entered the stadium.

Or tried to, anyway.

The door was locked. I walked down to the next door. It, too, was locked. So was the next one.

I saw an escalator.

"Oh," I said to myself, "I guess you can only watch the workouts from the lower deck. That makes sense. Who wants to sit in the upper deck when the stadium is empty and you can sit anywhere you want in the lower deck."

But the escalator wasn't working.

Suddenly a security guard appeared.

"Can I help you?" he asked.

I showed him my media credential. "I'm just trying to find a way to the seats to watch the workouts."

"What team are you with?" he asked. He couldn't yet make out what was on my credential.

"I'm not with a team," I explained. "I'm with a radio station in Baltimore."

"The media can't watch the workouts," he said. "That's why you're up here and everything's locked. You're only allowed in the press room."

I made a beeline back to the room and confronted the boss.

"You brought me all the way out here and I can't even watch the freakin' workouts?" I asked.

"I thought I told you that," he said.

"No, you most certainly didn't," I confirmed. "What the hell are we going to do for the next three days?"

What we wound up doing, to be exact, was talking to one another for about 75% of the time while we were on the air.

The other 25% of the time was spent talking with other members of the media, none of whom had any idea which players were going where in the draft.

Occasionally a player would be shuttled in to meet with the media and you'd get to ask him questions at a roundtable sort of setting, but all in all, it was a bigger waste of time than watching Flyers highlights from the last three decades.

In other words, there was nothing to see.

The NFL Draft is, by far, the biggest farce there is from the standpoint of team and media communications. No team is going to tell a member of the media anything about their interests unless they're doing so to create a smokescreen of sorts.

It's an open invitation for teams to lie. And they do. But it's never held against them because everyone knows the game. If you want Calvin Ridley from Alabama, what good would it possibly do to tell the rest of the league that he's on your radar?

So, we watched the Combine from the closed-circuit TV's in the press room, even though the action was taking place 200 feet below us in the stadium.

Three days of that. Three days of talking with each other about the draft. Three days of other radio and newspaper people stopping by and giving their opinion on a subject they knew very little about.

But downtown Indianapolis did have a "Steak 'n Shake". And the Canterbury Hotel had an awesome wine list.

So, there's that...

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Covering local college lacrosse for #DMD is an important task, and JOHN PUSATERI is more than capable of handling the job! His keen eye breaks down teams, players, tendencies and key statistical data that all fits together for outstanding coverage of college lacrosse. When it comes to covering local lacrosse, #DMD does it better than anyone around!

towson hosts umbc in key lax battle today


Believe it or not, the NCAA Mens Lacrosse season is well under way with games now starting in the beginning of February.

Quite a new phenomenon given that less than a decade ago the campaign used to not start until the beginning of March for most teams. However, even though the games count, the quality is still "preseason" with lots of balls hitting the turf on offense and defenses watching guys with the ball run down the middle and score in transition.

There are several good games on the slate this weekend, but the local match-up between Towson (1-3) and UMBC (1-2) seems to have the most significance as it's almost a "must-win" for both. Both are on a 2 game losing skid and could really use another out of conference win for their NCAA tourney resume. So let's take a look the game scheduled for 12 pm today at Towson's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Tigers' Meow Growing Into a Roar

Coach Shawn Nadalen has probably had the biggest challenge in his coaching career this year attempting to rebuild the Tigers from last year's Final Four power house. The reality of losing last year's senior stars including Drenner, Lynch, Seider, Adams and Mayes set in quickly this fall when the team took a 22-2 shellacking from Team USA in a fall ball scrimmage.

Towson coach Shawn Nadelen has lost some key players from last season's Final Four squad but Towson should improve as the season goes on.

However, since the beginning of this season, the Tigers have gradually improved and were very encouraged with their outing against Loyola this week in which they hung well with the #9 team in the country before falling, 12-8.

The Tigers are clearly rebuilding on offense with several new faces trying to mesh together. The only returning offensive regular from last season, Jon Mazza, and transfers Timmy Monohan (Maryland) and Jean-Luc Chetner (Richmond) have emerged as scoring leaders along with junior Brendan Sunday.

The defense is also rebuilding some, but returns their close defensive unit as well as Alex Woodall, one of the nation's top faceoff specialists.

The defense is allowing over 12 goals a game while the offense is only scoring just over 9 goals a game, due in large part to the teams 18 turnovers per game (up from 11 turnovers per game in 2007), and inconsistency in the goal between the returning Josh Miller and redshirt freshman Shane Brennan.

Dawgs' Bark Turning into Yelp

The Retrievers started out hot with somewhat of a statement win against a solid Richmond team in the beginning of the season. UMBC then played respectable in a 7-5 loss to Navy.

However, they followed that up with a terrible showing against local Mount St. Mary's, losing 16-7 in their most recent game, for the Mount's only win in their 1-4 season so far.

Thus it looks like UMBC is trending down.

The Retrievers did lose some seniors, including scoring leader Max Maxwell, goalie, Rustin Souder, and SSDM Dylan McDermott. But for the most part, UMBC returns most of their 2017 team including 4 of their top 5 scorers.

Freshman Trevor Patschorke has taken over as the team's leading scorer, but the offense isn't getting it done, only scoring 7 goals per game. The defense seems to be doing its job with the exception of the Mount St Mary's game.

Turnovers, as expected, are up to 18 per game after averaging only 13 per game last season. A dip in faceoff percentage from 46% last season to 41% this season is also giving the opposition extra possessions.

Expected Outcome

Can the Tigers continue an upward trend?

Was the Retriever loss to Mount Saint Mary's an anomaly?

Will the weather, specifically the wind, impact today's contest? I say yes to all of these.

I also expect some what of a close, defensive contest. Both offenses cough up the ball a lot and both are struggling to find that true leader. However, I see Towson enjoying a little advantage playing in Johnny U stadium.

And I see Towson's faceoff unit ruling the day winning 70% of the faceoffs. Given this, the Tigers should pull out a 9-6 victory.

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remember the golden rule of fantasy golf?


In my piece this past Wednesday on fantasy golf, I mentioned the number one rule when it comes to choosing your six man team for the week.

"Never take someone you haven't heard of," I wrote here at #DMD.

It makes sense, right? I mean, if you follow golf at all, and you've never heard of, say, Chris Paisley, what chance does he actually have of either winning or finishing high enough to impact your place in the standings?

I stand by that claim, by the way.

Shubhankar Sharma is the midway leader of the PGA Tour event in Mexico City. Don't worry if you haven't heard of him before...no one else has, either.

Don't ever play a guy on your DraftKings fantasy golf team that you haven't heard of. Got it?

This is where I'll tell you that the 36-hole leader of the WGC event in Mexico is none other than Shubhankar Sharma. He's 11-under par through two rounds and leads by two.

Because I don't know and I'm pretty sure you don't know, either, let's see who this dude is. I have no idea...

This is from his Wikipedia page: Shubhankar Sharma (born 21 July 1996) is a professional golfer from India currently playing on the Asian Tour. In December 2017 he had his first important win in the Joburg Open and followed this with a second win in the Maybank Championship in February 2018.

There you have it.

He doesn't even play on the European Tour, although he might be getting status there -- and on the PGA Tour as well -- if he keeps playing well over the next two days.

I'll stick with my original thought that he can't possibly win this tournament. No way. But it would pretty cool to see him do it.

My 6-man fantasy team that I gave you on Wednesday is faring pretty well. If you played those six, like me, you're looking like you might make some money as long as two of the six don't go completely in the tank over the final 36 holes.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello is T2 right now at 9-under par.

Pat Perez is T5 at 7-under.

Charley Hoffman is T12 at 6-under after a nice round of 66 on Friday.

Thomas Pieters is at 5-under.

Jon Rahm is at minus 4 and Alex Noren is 3-under.

If Rahm, Pieters and Hoffman can move up the leaderboard and the other three stay in the top 15, we might make some nice cash for the weekend.

Enough to come back and do it all over again next week.

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March 2
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and with that, the seat is officially warm


I'm not a fire-the-coach! guy. I think my stance on that subject has been pretty well documented over the years.

In nearly every case, I'd much rather see a handful of players get "fired" than to have the coach lose his or her job.

But this might be one of those circumstances down in College Park that requires a hard, long look at the employment tenure of basketball coach Mark Turgeon.

I might not be a fire-the-coach! guy but I am very much a believer that the team has to play hard each and every night. That, to me, is probably the biggest indicator of them all that the coach's message is still being accepted and followed by the players.

I'm not sure we saw that sort of dedication from Maryland this season on a regular basis.

Yesterday's 59-54 loss to a pretty lousy Wisconsin team wasn't all that surprising. Maryland's kind of lousy, too, truth be told. When two bad teams play one another, it stands to reason that one bad team is going to wind up winning.

And, no, I don't put 100% of the blame on Turgeon for the final nail in Maryland's coffin, the inbounds play at the end of the game where Dion Wiley lazily tossed the ball in the direction of Kevin Huerter, only to have it be picked off by Wisconsin.

Is it Turgeon's fault that Wiley wasn't engaged on the final play? Not totally. Wiley's been around. He knows the play. As the teacher said to Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club, "I expected more from a varsity letterman".

Seven seasons in at Maryland and Mark Turgeon still hasn't directed the Terps to a spot in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. Is it time for Maryland to start thinking seriously about a new direction for its basketball program?

But it's certainly Turgeon's "fault" that he chose to go with Wiley there. Was he the best option for that particular play? I realize Maryland wanted the ball in Huerter's hands to try and get him set up for a game-tying 3-point attempt, so perhaps he wasn't the guy to initiate the play and handle the inbounds pass, but I have to wonder if Wiley was the guy you wanted handling the ball in that sort of high pressure, execute-or-else situation?

Ultimately, though, that particular play is on the kid, not the coach. It's an inbounds play. You learned how to do that correctly in the CYO back in 6th grade. Or not.

What is on Turgeon, though, is the way Maryland ended the season with a whimper. The home blowout loss to Michigan last Saturday was a red-alert beating. On senior day, playing against one of the top 25 teams in the country, Maryland didn't just get run out of the gym, they were chased out and told to never come back in.

Turgeon, like all coaches would do, took the heat after the Michigan loss and said, "I obviously didn't get the team ready to play today."

I understand that's a boiler-plate line for any coach after a humiliating loss. Rather than blame the kids -- they'd likely curl up in a ball and mope for three days if you publicly laid any responsibility at their feet -- the coach always has to make that statement: "I obviously didn't get the team ready to play today".

The story there, of course, is that the kids have a responsibility to "play" because that's what they're there to do. If the game starts at 12 noon, they should be ready to play at 12 noon.

But the stark reality to coaching is that your players are a lot like race horses. You never really know if they're going to run hard until the race begins. And, so, it's up to the coach to push, prod and motivate them to give everything they have.

Maryland, in my opinion, didn't give "everything they have" each and every night this season. Not even close, in fact.

And that, ultimately, means you either have a locker room full of bad kids down there in College Park or the coach is missing an ingredient in his teaching arsenal that needs to be evaluated.

Here's potentially the most peculiar thing about Mark Turgeon's tenure at the University of Maryland. And this could also be the most revealing thing about his tenure as well.

If Maryland announced today that Turgeon has been relieved of his duties, there wouldn't be any uproar at all.

That might very well be more about the fact that Turgeon was the first guy in after Gary Williams. It's hard to follow a legend, as anyone knows who has been around sports in their lifetime. You'd much rather be the second person to get the job after the legend leaves the program or team.

Or it might be that Turgeon just hasn't connected with the fan base in the state.

Whatever the case, it's pretty hard to argue against the idea that a Turgeon dismissal wouldn't cause much of an uproar at Maryland. Life would go on. Quickly.

And while that's not a reason to fire him -- not at all -- it's also potentially another element of the coach's tenure in College Park that gives a little more clarity into why the program hasn't achieved much overall success in the last seven seasons.

Turgeon's a good coach. He runs a good program. He's a good recruiter. He designs a good game plan. Get the picture? The word good is emphasized there for a reason.

Turgeon's not great.

And good, especially when you're competing against the likes of Michigan State or Ohio State in college sports every year, isn't going to get the job done in the Big Ten.

You have to be great, even greater than great, to go toe-to-toe with the folks at those schools.

Turgeon's not great. He's not a donkey, either, but he's just another guy when it comes to matching up against Tom Izzo.

I have no concrete way of knowing this, but you can bet your red turtle shell that Gary Williams wouldn't have been losing 54-24 at home to Michigan on senior day, I don't care what players he had on the team or what star player got hurt back in November.

I heard a couple of people call the local sports talk show after yesterday's game and lament the loss of Justin Jackson as the reason Maryland went from totally chic to totally geek in the 2017-2018 season.

To hear those folks, Jackson was the next coming of Michael Jordan.

Sure, he's a good player and all, but was his WAR (that's a baseball term for "wins above replacement") in the 6.5 range or something? Because that's about what Maryland needed -- 6.5 more wins -- to be a legitimate contender this season.

Jackson would have helped the Terps. No doubt about that. But their lost season was more than just losing him. Much, much more.

It starts with the head coach.

He's the jockey.

If the horse doesn't run hard, the jockey has to have a feel for why it didn't.

I'm not sure Turgeon knows why his team didn't run hard.

And therein lies the biggest problem, in my mind. If the coach can't figure it out, the problem might just be too big for him to solve.


in today's edition of "the juice"

Give it a listen -- almost 18 minutes worth -- and you'll hear thoughts and insight on the Orioles, Terps and the PGA Tour.

"The Juice" (located just to the right of this, at the top of the right hand column) is a daily podcast that airs every weekday morning and features opinions and observations from the world of sports.

How is hotshot prospect Ryan Mountcastle doing for the O's in spring training? Listen to "The Juice" and you'll find out!

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dale williams aims
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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 bow out of big ten tourney


A lot of things went wrong for Maryland yesterday in their 59-54 Big Ten tournament first round loss to Wisconsin.

They shot just 2 of 14 from the three-point line and missed a foul shot that could have led to a tie game with 9 seconds left.

They played the entire 40 minutes without getting a steal and threw away an inbounds pass while behind by three points with under five seconds remaining. But I won’t look to any of those items when trying to assess this loss, rather, I’ll look at one play and one number as the two most glaring issues with the game and the Maryland team.

First, let me give you a quick run through of the game.

The first half was poorly played by both teams. Wisconsin shot just 37% from the floor and hit only 2 of 12 three-point shots. Maryland hit just 44% of their attempts and were a woeful 1 for 8 from behind the arc.

The Terps went to the line just three times, hitting all three. Wisconsin made 6 of 8 foul shots. Bruno Fernando, Anthony Cowan, and Kevin Huerter accounted for all but 2 of Maryland’s 26 first half points. Mark Turgeon's team trailed 28-26 at halftime.

The second half featured more of the same poor shooting but Wisconsin did hit 14 of 16 foul shots in the final twenty minutes, including 6 out of 7 for the normally unreliable Ethan Happ.

The Terps hit only one three-point shot in the second half but managed to tie the game at 47 all with 3:09 left in the game. The teams traded baskets until Huerter missed the first of two foul shots with 9 seconds left and the Terps down by two.

A late game rebounding gaffe from freshman Darryl Morsell was a key moment in Maryland's quick exit from the Big Ten tournament on Thursday in New York City.

Maryland got the ball back with a chance to tie, but never got off a shot as the Dion Wiley inbounds pass was stolen.

Now, back to "the number" and "the play".

The glaring number is 6. That’s how many points Michal Cekovsky, Darryl Morsell, Joshua Tomaic, Sean Obi, Jared Nickens, and Dion Wiley combined to score.

Six points.

Together, they accounted for 91 of the 200 minutes of playing time (that’s 45.5% of the minutes) and produced just 6 points. I still can’t believe that number: 6.

I guess it is believable when you consider that Tomaic and Nickens only shoot threes, Cekovsky just dunks, and Wiley, Morsell, and Obi have very limited offensive skills.

Scoring has been an issue all year long. This Maryland team, on most nights, doesn’t have enough scoring options. You can’t win without better supporting players.

The glaring play happened with about 1:05 left in the game. The score was tied at 53 and Wisconsin had the ball. They worked it around the perimeter and wound up with a Brevin Pritzel shot from the top of the key with his foot on the line.

Huerter had been guarding him, but after Pritzel curled through a screen, Morsell picked him up. Morsell did a good job of contesting the shot and it bounced off of the front iron.

Here’s where I have real problem. After the shot, Morsell, with his hand still raised in the air, continued to just walk down the right side of the lane. There was no one there for him to defend or box out. He just watched the shot and did nothing but walk away. I doubt that’s what they practice, but that’s what he did.

We all know what happens in a tight game when you mentally break down like that. The ball goes exactly to the spot where you should have been. It did, and instead of the Terps getting a rebound and a chance at a go-ahead basket, Wisconsin got the offensive rebound, eventually scoring what proved to be the winning points.

Actually, the Badgers scored those winning points after another offensive rebound, this time by Ethan Happ, but at least on that play Fernando was trying to box him out and just got beat.

I watched that replay over twenty times because I wanted to make sure that I had it right before I beat up on Morsell. I did have it right. It was a moment of thoughtlessness from a freshman who hopefully won't make that mistake in the future.

I don’t blame a single play for a loss that covers 40 minutes of game time. Countless decisions and plays, unlucky bounces, and referee’s calls are also part of the narrative. That Morsell play didn’t by itself cost Maryland the game, but it’s the essence of the lack of focus that has made the difference between winning and losing for Maryland, both on Thursday in New York and throughout the season.

It was the same type of mental breakdown that happened with the picked off pass when the Terps were trying to get off a potential game tying three with under 5 seconds left. On a play that had been practiced over and over, somebody had a breakdown.

I think Huerter’s words are important here. Read them for yourself:

“Unfortunately, it's a play that we were supposed to be running that I wasn't the look, so I wasn't really expecting the ball."

Someone, (or two) had another mental breakdown, and I can’t blame the coach. The players need to execute.

More from Huerter:

“Coach Turgeon is going to take a lot of heat for it. Everybody is going to point to him; everyone's going to look at him. I'm sure he probably took the blame up here a couple of minutes ago. But Coach Turgeon doesn't miss rebounds; Coach Turgeon doesn't miss a free throw. Coach Turgeon doesn't throw the ball away. Coach Turgeon doesn't execute plays when we're supposed to execute plays that we practiced multiple times. That's all on the players. And so, this loss is on everybody, especially the players, because we didn't make the plays down in the last minute 12 seconds to win the game. So, everybody can say what they want about him, but we didn't make plays for him.”

Turgeon tried every combination of players he could in a vain attempt to find some offense on Thursday. Nothing worked.

He started the game with a big lineup, opting for Michal Cekovsky in place of Dion Wiley. Having both centers (Cekovsky and Bruno Fernando) on the court at the same time is an option of which I’ve been advocate all year. That plan was abandoned after Ceko missed some defensive assignments.

There just were no other options yesterday. Fernando looks awkward when going one on one and fumbled his way to four turnovers yesterday. His sheer size and strength allowed him to score 12 points, but his low post game needs some serious polish.

He’s not getting much love from the NBA scouts and barring some poor decision making, I expect him back in College Park next year.

Huerter had a fantastic second half, driving to the basket for most of his 14 second half points. He finished with a game high 20. Cowan had 12 points in the first half but really tapered off with only 4 points in the closing 20 minutes.

With Maryland being a high-profile team with a first-class arena, I would expect an NIT bid to be on the way. But I’m not so sure it’s in their best interest to take it. They are a beat-up unit with a small rotation that could use some rest.

Next year Maryland has three highly touted incoming freshmen and a back-up center who transferred in from Mississippi State that will compete for playing time in 2018-2019.

Perhaps they might be the scoring options that Maryland lacked this year. Turgeon needs them to produce or his seat will truly get hot.

This year was difficult with the multitude of injuries that the team sustained. Next year, assuming all the non-seniors return, much will be expected of coach Turgeon and his team. I hope they deliver.

Dale Williams was at Madison Square Garden on Thursday covering the game for #DMD. His outstanding effort, insight and contributions have been a valuable addition to our Maryland basketball coverage over the last three seasons.

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this weekend in
english soccer


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

We will head to the homestretch of the campaign when Matchday 29 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning, with ten games to go and four teams near the top still fighting it out for the final three Champions League places. At the bottom of the table, nine teams will be leaving it all on the field to avoid relegation.

You can catch all of the weekend action live across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra and don’t forget about the second legs of the Champions League knockout stages next week, which you can watch live on the various Fox Sports broadcast platforms and where all five English clubs still involved have more than a fighting chance of making it to the final eight.

Saturday, March 3 (all times eastern)

10 am – Stoke City @ Southampton – St. Mary’s Stadium, CNBC

Stoke City let their chance to climb out of the bottom three literally slip right through their fingers when goalkeeper Jack Butland, usually reliable as the last line of defense and England’s likely number one at this summer’s World Cup, fumbled an attempted cross into his own net as the Potters had to settle for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City. Butland more than made up for his gaffe as he came up with several crucial saves near full time to make sure Stoke remained in the relegation fight ahead of their visit to the St. Mary’s Stadium for a relegation showdown with Southampton.

The Saints rescued what could turn out to be a crucial point with an equalizer in the final minute of normal time to draw with Burnley 1-1 and move level on points with Crystal Palace and Swansea City and out of the drop zone on a superior goal differential. They are still only one point above the drop and the Potters, who despite holding the worst away record this season (L9 D4) have lost only one of their five all time top flight trips to the St. Mary’s Stadium (W2 D2), and the end result of the Saturday morning encounter will go a long way in determining if either side will be relegated by seasons end.

12:30pm – Newcastle United vs. Liverpool – Anfield, NBC

Sitting two points clear of Southampton and three above Stoke, Newcastle United wasted a golden opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the bunch near the drop zone when they conceded twice in the final ten minutes to see their two goal halftime advantage evaporate in a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. If they do end up going down, the Magpies may look back on the result and wonder what might have been but they will have no time to dwell on that now as they face a daunting trip to Anfield and a matchup with Liverpool, who dismantled West Ham United 4-1.

The result helped Liverpool consolidate their hold on third place ahead of what on paper should be the easiest run in to the end of the season of the four teams still gunning for a spot in the top four, with only two games left against teams still chasing the last three Champions League places. They must avoid falling in to the trap of possibly overlooking Newcastle and former manager Rafa Benitez however, who have lost only once in the New Year (W2 D4) and only one of their last five (W2 D2) with the Reds even though they been dismal at Anfield, dropping sixteen of their last twenty visits (D4).

Sunday, March 4 (all times eastern)

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte needs his team to finish in the EPL's top four or he'll likely be looking for a new job at season's end.

11am – Chelsea @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After going ahead just after the half hour mark, Chelsea let the lead and then the game slip away when Manchester United grabbed the equalizer only minutes later before finding the winner in the last quarter hour to take all three points and drop the defending champs out of the top four for the first time since September. With losses in three of the last four and their season seemingly set to implode, they will return to the city of Manchester but the blue side this time around when they wrap up the Sunday slate at the Etihad Stadium against runaway league leaders Manchester City.

City claimed the first silverware of the year when they rolled over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup final last Sunday before repeating a similarly dominant performance only days later against the Gunners to leave them just fifteen points from officially wrapping up the title. Chelsea still have matchups against top four rivals Liverpool and Tottenham so they will still have a shot at the top four regardless of the result on Sunday, however knowing they would need all three points from those matchups leaves little margin for error at the Etihad where they have lost six of their last nine trips (W2 D1).

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anyone feel sorry for baseball's unsigned free agents?


There were 166 baseball players who became free agents at the end of the 2017 season.

It's March 1st now. Nearly one-third of them still remain unsigned.

Anyone have a violin? I'd like to play them a sad song.

Mind you, some of those who remain unemployed were always going to have a tough time finding a gig. They're the 24th or 25th guy on the roster, still good enough to play for a living, but by no means a foundation-builder.

But there are also plenty of high quality free agents still jobless. Mike Moustakas is probably the biggest name still available, with pitchers Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jake Arrieta next on the list of valuable pieces who have yet to sign.

The Players Association filed a grievance on Wednesday against four teams — the Miami Marlins, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Oakland Athletics and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The grievance charges that the clubs -- all of whom are traditionally in the bottom 25% of payroll totals -- are not spending their revenue-sharing money on improving their team, as they are required to do.

Jake Arrieta can't find a job in major league baseball. He apparently wants "too much money". Don't we all?

Executive Director Tony Clark said at least 10 of baseball’s 30 teams were not trying to win in the coming season, thereby limiting the free-agent market. For example, had the Marlins not put Giancarlo Stanton on the trading block, the Yankees most likely would have dipped into the free-agent market for more offense in the off-season. They might have been a destination for Moustakas, as an example, had the Marlins not blown up their team.

But the Yankees are working hard these days to stay under the $197 million luxury tax threshhold, so they could potentially make the argument that an aggressive off-season free agent splurge wasn't the way they wanted to go.

As for baseball teams "not trying to win" -- fans in Baltimore can relate to those four words, huh?

The union, without saying it formally in their grievance, is continuing their off-season assertion that MLB owners are involved in league-wide collusion. That's always the go-to thing for union reps to use against sports owners -- collusion.

But baseball players and their union have been also been involved in their own version of collusion for a long, long time.

Pressure on players to "work the team(s) for the best deal you can get" has been a trademark of the union, who want a veteran player to maximize his salary demands so that the next guy down the line can enjoy the benefits of your larger contract.

The union has long advised players not to take the so-called "hometown discount". While it can be argued by any sane person that someone, anyone, earning $10 million a year is in no way a "bad deal", it's a simple fact that a guy who should make $14 million but "only" takes $10 million is hurting those behind him.

Where's that violin?

I don't feel sorry for Moustakas or Arrieta. Not in the least.

They're unemployed for one reason and one reason only.

They choose to be unemployed.

Those two -- along with many of the others who still don't have a team -- have been offered deals and turned them down. That's their right, of course. But in no way should anyone who follows the game of baseball feel bad that they can't a contract to their liking.

While baseball isn't part of the "real world", the fact remains that it's vaguely like what most of America endures on a daily basis because there are owners and employees.

How many of you would like your job to feature collective bargaining where your salary and benefits are essentially controlled -- all tailored to you and the other employees -- and you can't be fired without getting paid for however many years you have remaining on your contract?

It's a good gig if you can get it.

Are you treated fairly at your place of employment?

Do you feel totally "valued" by your company's owner and/or your direct supervisor?

That's the real world. The one most of us live in, anyway.

I don't feel bad for the unsigned players any more or less than I feel bad for the owners, which is to say, I don't hang my head in sorrow for them one bit.

They're the ones who created this mess in the first place, by caving in on these outrageous salaries we're seeing now and paying people $35 million to play baseball when every single one of them would play for $5 million if $5 million was all they could make.

To me, it looks like the owners needed to take a better class in collusion thirty years ago. Maybe they wouldn't be in the mess they're in right now had they huddled together in a room somewhere, checked one another for a wiretap, and said, in unison, "OK, no one's baseball salary EVER goes above $5 million a year. Never let it happen. Got it? Good, let's go sign some players."

Instead, decent players are earning $10 million a year, good ones are getting $20 million a season and the rock stars are now commanding $30 million or more.

It's out of control.

But the owners helped it get that way.

And now, finally, it would appear they might be starting to figure it out. Why give Mike Moustakas $24 million a year when he'll play for $16 million a year if you'll just sit tight and not cave in?

Why give Jake Arrieta six years and $120 million when he'll eventually sign for three years and $54 million?

Sure, some guys have signed. It took a while but Yu Darvish got a team to pay for his overrated right arm. Eric Hosmer somehow got the Padres to cough up big dollars.

But Tony Clark is right. Lots of teams in major league baseball aren't signing his employees because they've finally said, "We're not really going to try and improve our team this season."

The Cubs and Astros tearing their team down, rebuilding it, and then winning the World Series a half dozen years later apparently isn't all that good for business in Major League Baseball.

Teams that want to tear-it-down-and-win have a built-in-excuse for not spending money. Even worse news? Teams that don't want to do that also have a built-in-excuse for not signing anyone.

It's funny, to me.

Guys who have $50 million in the bank and will never again look at the menu and care about the price of the 12 ounce filet are whining about not having a job.

I'm supposed to feel sorry for him?

I didn't get that memo.

And these owners, who have all seen their bank accounts swell in large part because of TV money that is directly tied into the consumer, are crying poor-boy now as well.

They deserve one another, the players and the owners.

Really. They do.

Let them bite and fight and scratch with one another and try to gouge the other out of dollars along the way.

It's good theater watching wealthy guys fight over money. And more money.

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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.


these guys are good


The PGA TOUR’s marketing slogan, around for a while now, is ingenious in its simplicity: four words that tell you why you ought to be watching.

It’s also timeless. Right now, 20 years ago and 20 years from now, the guys playing on TV for money are the very best, so much better than the best player you can imagine playing at your course. The ones that star in the commercials surpass that; they’re the very best of the very best.

Tiger Woods was once at the next level after that: the very best of the very best of the very best. Maybe even add another rung to the ladder. If there were 125 players in the field, and 25 really had a chance, and 10 of them really stood out, then he stood out among the top 10.

Woods played four rounds at the Honda Classic last week and finished at even par, one of only 12 players of the 75 who made the cut not to finish over par. He looked good, played well and, by starting in back-to-back weeks on opposite coasts, must be feeling healthy.

If he can continue to practice and play, I’d bet on him reaching whatever his ceiling is at his age and at this point in his career.

The problem for Woods is that these guys are good.

With four major titles already, Rory McIlroy is just one of several young players on the PGA Tour who are no longer awed by the presence of Tiger Woods.

Justin Thomas has won seven times in the last 17 months, including the Honda Classic on Sunday. Will Thomas win 72 more times in the next 15 years? Of course not. Will he continue to be a superior all-around player to Tiger Woods over the next several years? Of course.

These guys aren’t just younger than Tiger is. They’re better than he is. And this is the first time in his career that anyone has been better than Tiger Woods.

Woods turned pro in 1996. Earlier that year, Nick Faldo and Greg Norman were the combatants in one of the more famous meltdowns in Masters history, when Faldo shot 67 and came from five strokes behind to beat Norman, who shot 78.

They were widely considered the two best players in the world. Each would win tournaments again in 1997, but never again. Their time was up, partially because there was a guy who was honestly just better than they were.

Who, then, would be the guy who was better than Woods?

Phil Mickelson was around for several years before Tiger, and he’s in the Hall of Fame. He wasn’t better than his biggest rival, though; he didn’t win a major until he was 33 years old. It isn’t until now, at nearly 48 years old, that Mickelson might be better than Woods.

Sergio Garcia famously came on the scene at age 19 during the 1999 PGA Championship, a tournament won by Tiger. When Garcia won his first major last year, at the Masters, while Tiger sat at home injured and in doubt, well then, he had finally reached better-than-Tiger status 18 years later.

Ernie Els is from Mickelson’s generation.

Rory McIlroy is a millennial.

Vijay Singh is five years into the Champions Tour.

Adam Scott seemed to borrow Tiger’s swing in a different body.

Lee Westwood became the best player without a major.

Rickie Fowler burst brightly onto the scene.

Bubba Watson hit the ball crazier and farther than anyone.

At certain points, all those guys (ok, maybe not Fowler) might have seemed like they were better than Tiger. In the mid-2000s, Singh famously jumped ahead of Tiger in the World Golf Rankings, whatever they mean. But they weren’t better.

I remember the first guy I thought was better than Tiger Woods. By that, I mean a better player at that place and time, assuming that Tiger was at full strength.

Jordan Spieth was that player. The year was 2015 and the site was Augusta. The fact that he tied Woods’ record Masters score of 270, 18-under-par, made it all the more obvious.

Woods played in that Masters; we haven’t seen him there since. It was his last Masters appearance before his 40th birthday, and for the first time someone else had played like, well, him. Spieth wasn’t just having a good week, like Danny Willett or Charl Schwartzel. He was announcing his presence as the best player in the world, despite his age, with the kind of performance only a player that good could put together.

Now Thomas has joined Spieth at the top of that list. And for the first time a veteran player, someone who played with Woods when Tiger was still near the top of his game, has stepped up in a big way. Even if Tiger Woods had continued his good play in the last five years, Dustin Johnson would still be a better player right now.

They drive the ball better than he does. Because of that, they hit their irons closer than he does. Even if they don’t have great putting weeks, he’s no longer a better putter than they are. They’ve been playing tournament golf and winning, and they believe they can repeat those performances consistently.

Tiger said before Sunday’s round in Palm Beach Gardens that he’d need to get to 6-under-par, shooting a 64, to have a chance to win. Turns out the winning score was 8-under, but that’s not the point. It’s the kind of thing the top players often say when they’re well off the lead, and why not? They’ve all gone low before.

Tiger Woods is used to saying those things and believing he can pull them off, even if he knows the percentages aren’t in his favor. I’d imagine he was excited to even get the chance to think about a number, especially considering his missed cut in Los Angeles the week earlier.

Maybe Tiger is good enough to shoot a 64 on a tough course on the PGA Tour, in the final round or otherwise. Maybe he’ll be able to call on the mental reserves from 79 victories and 14 majors, and a short game that seems pretty good.

But these guys are good, too.

And right now, they’re too good for him.

He can look like Tiger Woods and play like Tiger Woods and draw crowds like Tiger Woods, but how long will it be OK if all that means is a succession of decent finishes?

Tiger might be their hero, their inspiration and their target, but they go out and play 18 holes against the course and end up with a better number than he does.

“These Guys are Good” was always an inclusive tagline. By saying it, the TOUR was trying to tell you that it was more than just Tiger Woods. And now, as we head toward the majors, the slogan has never been more right.

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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 take on wisconsin in big ten tourney opener today


Let’s be perfectly honest here. For the #8 seeded Maryland Terrapins to win the Big Ten tournament they have to win four games in four days.

Their likely path starts with Wisconsin, then goes through Michigan St, Michigan (or Nebraska), and a probable final game against Purdue or Ohio State.

Their record against those teams in 2017-2018 is a combined 1-7. The combined point differential is -100 plus.

Maryland has two players who play almost 40 minutes per game and they’d have to beat 3 top 15 teams in three consecutive nights. The Terps aren’t winning this tournament. But can they at least win a game today against the 9th seeded Wisconsin Badgers?

The recipe for a Maryland Big 10 Tournament win today against Wisconsin seems fairly simplistic. Play good, hard defense for 40 minutes.

Maryland’s defensive woes have been caused by a combination of mental errors and slow movement. They make far too many mistakes when guarding against screens, and then they don’t compensate for those miscues by busting their butts to get to where they need to be. If they make those mistakes today, they’ll be back in their College Park dorms tonight in time to catch the 6:30pm Penn State vs. Northwestern game.

In guarding Wisconsin and their “Mr. Everything” Ethan Happ, the big question is do you double down on him? I say, “absolutely” and then rotate quickly when you do. Leave Wisconsin's Kahlil Iverson alone. He is very athletic, but he’s 0-24 shooting threes and no outside threat at all.

Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (#22) is an all conference player that Maryland will have to negate today if they hope to win their Big Ten tournament opener in New York.

Some other teams had success letting Happ work one on one this season, but Bruno Fernando and Michal Cekovsky can’t make that work. They need weak side help.

In Maryland’s 69-63 win against the Badgers back in January, Happ had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists. All of those numbers were team highs. The only Terp defender that had any type of success with Happ was Sean Obi, so we might see a bit more of him tonight.

Happ is tough and that’s why he was an all-Big Ten selection. If the Terp defense can limit Happ’s impact, then they can beat the Badgers.

The rest of the Wisconsin team is unlikely to regularly hurt you. Brad Davison is a nice player who can get hot, as he proved when he lit up Michigan State for 30 points, but he’ll be working against Maryland’s All Big Ten Defensive Team guard Anthony Cowan. Aleem Ford is more of a stand-still shooter, as is Nate Reuvers.

Wisconsin is one of the few Big Ten teams against whom Maryland has an athletic advantage.

The Terps need to use that advantage. Offensively, they need to spread the court and use ball screens. There’s no way at all that Wisconsin’s point guard, Davison, can guard Cowan. He needs help and that only comes if there are too many Terps around, drawing their defenders with him.

The newly implemented motion offense might not be the right call today for Turgeon’s Terps. Spread the court and let Cowan drive and dish. Davison has no chance. The kick outs to the wing or to the bigs will be available all day. It’s the biggest mismatch on the court and Maryland must repeatedly take advantage of it.

Wisconsin likes to pack their defense around the lane. They’re really good at forcing a slow tempo and making the game a grind-it-out half court affair. Therefore, Maryland would be wise to run whenever they can in an effort to speed up the pace.

Maryland also has a stronger bench than a Wisconsin team that usually gets little from their reserves.

This is a winnable game for Maryland, but only if they play tough defense.

They can’t make it easy for Wisconsin to get the ball into Happ anywhere close to the basket. They need to turn up the defensive pressure by playing deny defense and making passes hard to throw. If they do that they’ll play Michigan State tomorrow. If they don’t, they’ll watch Michigan State on TV tomorrow.

Despite being so young and inexperienced together, Maryland has the talent to win this game. They need to cut down on the defensive mistakes and play much tighter defense. They can, and will win this one. I’ll say the Terps post a 68-64 victory.

As almost always Cowan and Kevin Huerter do most of the damage, but Nickens and Wiley might be able to beat Aleem Ford for a combined 15 to 18 points.

As for the rest of the tournament, here are some predictions: Final four – Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue. Purdue, the #3 seed is your winner. Upset special – Indiana, the 6th seed, goes down to Rutgers. It’s March 1st, let the madness begin.

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breakfast bytes

Orioles: Chris Davis homers in first at-bat after missing eight games to "find his swing".

A.L. East: Red Sox rebound from 10-5 deficit to whip Mariners at Fenway, 14-10; Yankees fall in Tampa Bay, 2-1.

World Cup: Nigeria dents Argentina's hopes with 2-0 win over Iceland; Switzerland stuns Serbia with late goal, 2-1; Brazil sends Costa Rica home, 2-0.

PGA Tour: Brian Harman (-10) leads in Connecticut by one shot over Matt Jones, Russell Henley and Zach Johnson.


Adam Hadwin