April 15
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issue 15
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this, that and the other

I didn't figure Orioles newcomer Alex Cobb would no-hit the Red Sox yesterday in his 2018 debut, but I didn't see him getting shelled like that, either.

Man, that Boston offense is good, especially at Fenway Park. Boston pounded out 15 hits in Saturday's 10-3 win over the O's.

And life without Jonathan Schoop didn't get off to a great start, as a new defensive alignment had Tim Beckham at second base and Danny Valencia at third. Valencia made one of the O's three errors on Saturday, the other two coming from the normally reliable Manny Machado.

It's early still, and Schoop's injury doesn't really have anything to do with the Machado-move-to-shortstop, but I still don't get the feeling that the Birds' left side of the infield is better with Manny at shortstop and Beckham/someone else at third.

But at this point, with Schoop on the disabled list, that discussion is basically a moot point.

You want good news? Chris Davis went 2-for-4 and now has his average up to .143. Coming off of that embarrassing effort at that plate on Friday night, I call two hits a "triumph" for the struggling power hitter.

A 5-10 start isn't what the doctor ordered, and on Saturday, Cobb wasn't as well.

Before he recorded an out yesterday, the righthander was down 3-0. A leadoff walk, a double, and a home run from Hanley Ramirez did the trick. He hung in there into the bottom of the fourth inning before allowing ten hits and seven earned runs (eight total). It wasn't pretty.

There's good news and bad news about today's 1:05 tilt at Fenway. The good? Dylan Bundy is on the mound for the Birds. He's the team's top starting pitcher, by far. The bad? Boston has someone a smidgen better pitching for them, as Chris Sale takes the hill.

But if the Birds are going to capture one of the four games at Fenway, this one today likely represents their best chance.

Speaking of pitching, I continue to marvel at Max Scherzer of the Nationals.

In 27 innings thus far in 2018, Max Scherzer has 38 strikeouts against just 4 walks.

Scherzer improved to 3-1 yesterday with a 6-2 home win over Colorado. Here's what he did against a solid Rockies lineup on Saturday:

7 innings, 1 hit, 2 earned runs, 11 strikeouts and 1 walk.

For the season, his WHIP is .067 and his ERA is 1.33.

And how about this stat? Opposing lineups are hitting .147 against him. That's essentially what Chris Davis is hitting for the entire season. Think about Scherzer's four starts this year, the other team is Chris Davis.

More? You want more? Scherzer has pitched 27 innings thus far in 2018 and has allowed 14 total hits. Oh, and he has 38 strikeouts and 4 walks.

I used to think there was no one close to Clayton Kershaw, but I was wrong. Scherzer is every bit his equal.

The Nationals are off to a sluggish 7-8 start. Must be all those Rule 5 picks they brought north with them to start the season. Oh, wait -- that's the other team in the Mid-Atlantic.

Game 2 of a 7-game series is almost never a "must-win" scenario, but it's close to that for the Washington Capitals tonight at home vs. Columbus.

You know me, I don't classify anything as "must-win" until that game ends your season if you lose, but the Caps simply can't go down 2-0 to the Blue Jackets. All that would do is start an avalanche of media coverage proclaiming this Capitals team to be just like all the other choking-dog-teams we've seen over the last decade or thereabouts.

And Columbus is good at home, too. So heading back there down 0-2 in the series would be troublesome for the Capitals.

I suspect Barry Trotz will go with Braden Holtby in goal tonight after Philipp Grubauer got the nod in Game 1 and wasn't out-of-this-world impressive. The game-winning overtime goal was particularly weak, and Trotz probably feels like Holtby is a better bet to give him a one-off stellar night in goal than Grubauer.

The last time Columbus faced Holtby, they shellacked him in a 5-1 win in late February.

But while the biggest question might appear to be who starts in goal tonight, there are certainly more pressing issues for the Caps. Will Alex Ovechkin show up in Game 2? He was a virtual no-show in the game one 4-3 OT loss. The same goes for Nicklas Backstrom. He had nothing to offer on Thursday night in the series opener.

And will the Washington defensive corps produce a more representative effort tonight? They weren't sharp in game one, including a woeful effort from Dmitry Orlov on the OT goal.

In summary, people just need to step up and play better hockey tonight. As the great Charley Eckman said, "It's a very simple game..."

Regardless of who starts in goal, they need to be better than Grubauer was on Thursday night.

Ovechkin, Backstrom, Oshie all need to show up. In a big way.

These are obviously simple things, but for the Caps in the playoffs, nothing is simple. Ever.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from saturday's 10-3 loss at boston

1. I said it a week ago and hopefully he continues to stay there and produce, but Trey Mancini should be the O's lead off hitter. His RBI total might go down this year as a result of batting in that spot, but there's no one else on the team better suited for it at this point. Mancini is hitting .288 with a .377 on base percentage. Those are great numbers for a lead off guy.

2. I don't know what the Orioles are going to do with Chris Tillman's spot in the rotation, but I hope they don't try Miguel Castro there. I like his arm, but I just don't see him having the durability to throw 90 pitches or more. He was decent yesterday, with 27 strikes on 42 pitches, but let's see if he's even available today after going two innings on Saturday.

The O's will turn their hopes for a win in Boston over to their #1 guy today, Dylan Bundy.

3. Danny Valencia will get a bunch of starts now that Schoop is hurt but he's not helping at the plate. I didn't like this signing from the start. Too one dimensional for me. And he's not even hitting lefties all that well this season.

4. The top part of that Boston lineup is pretty scary. And they're hitting the cover off the ball without Bogaerts, who is on the disabled list.

5. If you think Mancini's numbers are good for a lead off hitter, look at what Mookie Betts is doing so far for the Red Sox. He's hitting .353 with a .452 on base percentage.

6. I know it doesn't work this way but if the Red Sox start the season at 14-2, they will be on pace for a 140 win season! They would probably win the A.L. East with that record.

7. I'm calling a 3-2 Orioles win this afternoon in the Bundy vs. Sale pitching match up. Adam Jones comes up with a big hit late in the game to provide the winning run.

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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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April 14
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issue 14
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birds have an opening in the starting rotation

That should just about do it for Chris Tillman.

If last night's dismal performance at Fenway Park didn't seal his fate, then I don't know what will.

He lasted all of two innings, officially, but made it to the bottom of the third before loading the bases with no one out. Tillman would eventually be charged with six earned runs in the O's 7-3 loss to the Red Sox.

He wound up allowing as many runs (6) as outs recorded (6) last night. That's..........not good.

With three ineffective starts in three trips to the mound this year, it's probably time for the Orioles to make a move with Tillman. As he's only on a one-year deal, releasing him outright -- and paying him -- isn't all that painful.

Or the Orioles could create a phantom injury for him and see if a month or two of rest and work down in Sarasota might be beneficial. This, I assume, is the most likely course the team will take. Why cut him, after all? If you're paying him, just say he has a hamstring strain or sore elbow and reboot things in Florida.

If the O's didn't release Ubaldo Jimenez after a couple of really bad years near the end of his contract with the team, they're certainly not going to just part company with Chris Tillman. It's not their style. They'll figure out a way to hold on to him.

This isn't intended to be a slam piece on Tillman. Not in the least.

Now 0-3 on the year with three straight poor outings, Chris Tillman might have made his last start as a Oriole last night in Boston.

But his time in Baltimore appears to have ended.

He's been a good soldier here for the better part of a decade, at one point rising to the level of a potential #2 starter for any team in the big leagues back in 2016. Then, suddenly, in August of 2016, things went south for him and he never recovered.

A shoulder injury that bothered him near the end of that 2016 campaign reared its head again in spring training last March and nothing went right from that point forward.

Tillman's status in the big leagues, where a guy like 44 year old Bartolo Colon still makes a living because he can occasionally get people out, was so tenuous that no one wanted him this past off-season. He got a nibble or two from the likes of the Reds and Tigers, but there wasn't a team out there willing to give him anything more than a spring training invitation and a suite at a hotel somewhere in Florida.

He was a really good pitcher early in the 2016 campaign. And in the winter of 2017-2018, Chris Tillman was essentially out of work.

That's pitching for you.

So, barring some near-miracle over the next month, Chris Tillman's time in Baltimore will end. At least for now, anyway.

What, then, do the Orioles do about the 5th spot in the starting rotation?

For the time being, it makes sense to just give the ball to Mike Wright and let him handle the duties. He's not much better, if at all, then Tillman, but at least he's healthy. Wright's ERA is 6.48 after 2.1 innings of work at Fenway last night.

But it doesn't make sense to stretch out Miguel Castro at this point and give him a crack at starting. And, let's be honest here. There's nothing except faith and hope that tells us Castro will be the answer as a starting pitcher.

The Orioles could promote Hunter Harvey and give their former #1 pick the ball every 5th day.

If this was August and the playoffs were looking unattainable, I might check off that box and bring Harvey in for a half-dozen starts to finish out the season. But can you do that now? Can you give him the ball next week in Detroit and roll the dice that a kid with no major league experience is ready to make the better part of 28 starts between now and the end of September?

Heck, Harvey might be better than Wright. Right?

This development with Tillman isn't a shock. Everyone knew there was a better-than-average chance he'd be a flop in 2018.

The biggest indictment on Dan Duquette is that he didn't really adequately prepare for this, even though the idea of failure loomed quite clearly throughout the winter.

The Orioles' plan was always this:

1. Hope Tillman's shoulder is better and that he can be an effective starter again.

2. If Tillman fails, we always have Mike Wright to fill in for him.

3. If Wright fails, we can always use Miguel Castro in a pinch.

4. If Castro fails, we have kids down on the farm to go with.

Sure, the Orioles can always cobble together a 5th rotation spot over the next five and a half months. Wright gets 15 starts, Castro gets eight, and some combination of Hunter Harvey and others get six or so.

But that's a poor way to do things. Oh, and let's hope none of the other starting four get any sort of injury that sidelines them. If any one of Bundy, Gausman, Cashner or Cobb gets hurt, the O's are in deep doo-doo.

This development with Tillman isn't a staggering blow to the O's playoff hopes. Not in the least. But they needed to get something out of Tillman -- anything -- to help their chances at reaching the post-season for the first time since 2016.

Instead, now they need to find a fifth starter. And it's mid-April.

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dez available, but should ravens bite?

There was a time when Dez Bryant was probably close to "elite" receiver status in the NFL.

That he never played in a Super Bowl with Dallas is more about the team around him and less about Bryant's quality. While I'd say A.J. Green is a better receiver with much better career numbers, there's a similarity there that's easy to identify.

You can be a great receiver all you want, but without a quality arm throwing the ball to you, you'll toil in relative obscurity. Or third place, perhaps.

The Cowboys cut Dez Bryant yesterday, making him available to the rest of the 31 teams in the NFL. The Ravens, in case you haven't heard, have been receiver-starved for the last few years.

As soon as Bryant's release was official yesterday, social media in Baltimore lit up with calls for him to come to Charm City and join the Ravens.

Former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant will be considered by several teams now that he's a free agent. Should the Ravens be among the suitors?

Ummmmm...let's slow down a little, folks.

This is not 24-year old Dez Bryant who is available now.

This is the 30-year old version.

A little slower. A little more banged up. A little less imposing to defensive backs than he was, say, three years ago.

And the Ravens sorta-kinda already have Dez Bryant on their team. His name is Michael Crabtree. They've effectively morphed into the same kind of player now that they're both in the October of their career.

Over the last three seasons, 57 receivers in the NFL have more catches than Dez Bryant recorded in Dallas.

In that same span, 42 players have more receiving yards than Bryant.

Consider this: There are 31 other teams in the league. 57 players -- nearly two per-team -- caught more passes over the last three years than Dez Bryant. The math doesn't work exactly like this, but it basically indicates that Bryant is the equivalent of a #3 receiver at this point in his career.

But you can bet he still considers himself a premium product -- #1 receiver in both stature, salary and command of the ball on Sunday afternoon.

He's just not that kind of player anymore, honestly.

Sure, he'll still have his moments. And you can bet that if he does wind up in Washington, he'll torture the Cowboys a time or two over the next couple of seasons because that's how sports works.

But the Ravens need youth...and speed...and future. They don't need Dez Bryant, no matter the cost.

That's always an issue, of course: cost.

I don't even know how they'd fit him under their still-tight salary cap, for starters.

And even if they could, would Bryant be OK settling in as a complimentary player in Baltimore? I doubt it.

Oh, and don't forget this little note: The Ravens don't have any tight ends. My guess is they're waiting to see which veteran gets cut post-June 1st. They'll need money for that guy, obviously.

A season or two ago, Dez Bryant might have made sense for the Ravens. Not anymore.

Let him go to Washington and deal with Daniel Snyder and the rest of those misfits in D.C.

KELLY banner ad

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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April 13
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issue 13
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early season baseball notes

Yes, it's far too early to make any real assessments on what we've seen from the first two weeks of the baseball season.

Which is all the more reason to do it.

So, I will.

Yesterday marked the two-week "anniversary" of the start of the 2018 campaign.

Here's a quick look at the division leaders with commentary:

Boston (10-2) -- No great shock here. If their bullpen holds up they'll be tough.

Minnesota (7-4) -- As we saw in Baltimore two weeks ago, they're good.

L.A. Angels (11-3) -- Are they really better than Houston? Stay tuned...

N.Y. Mets (10-1) -- Wow! To borrow a line from the great Freddie Mercury -- "Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?"

Pittsburgh Pirates (9-3) -- This one, I feel, definitely is fantasy. Two weeks from now the Bucs will be showing their true colors.

Arizona Diamdondbacks (9-3) -- Watch out for Arizona. They might be the real deal out West.

As is usually the case early on, pitching has reigned supreme. Heck, the Orioles have been involved in three no-hitter scares in the first two weeks of the season. That might tell us more about the Orioles than pitching, but you get the idea.

Despite the Royals being no good, two of their starting pitchers are off to great starts. Some guy named Jakob Junis has started two games, thrown 14 innings, allowed two hits, and surrendered zero earned runs. That's really good for anyone, but even better when no one knows who you are.

Ian Kennedy of the Royals has made three starts, allowed two earned runs, and has an ERA of 1.00 thus far.

23 year old Japanese star Shohei Ohtani has electrified baseball with his bat and throwing arm in the first two weeks of the season.

Remember Rick Porcello? The Boston starter won the Cy Young award a couple of years ago and then couldn't get anyone out last season. He stunk worse than your favorite Aunt's feet at the annual family picnic in July.

Thus far in 2018, he's 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA.

The Orioles own Dylan Bundy has made three starts, all of them effective, but because the Orioles can't hit worth a lick, he's 0-1. But his WHIP (0.95) and ERA (1.35) are both really good.

Over in the National League, Zach Godley of the Diamondbacks has allowed one earned run in 14 innings of work. His WHIP (0.64) and ERA (0.64) are identical. That's impressive.

Max Scherzer of the Nationals has 27 strikeouts in 20 innings thus far. He's allowed two earned runs. His WHIP (0.80) and ERA (0.90) are spectacular. But he's Max Scherzer, he's supposed to be spectacular.

Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is 0-2 thus far, but his 1.89 ERA is proof that he still knows how to pitch. The Dodgers just can't hit, that's all.

We have a full-blown ".400 watch" going in Minnesota, where ageless Joe Mauer is hitting .412 through the first two weeks of the season. Something tells me Mauer won't hit that well all season. Just a hunch...

Aaron Judge is off to a solid start in New York. Now that he's no longer the Yankees' strikeout king, perhaps the pressure has eased off of him a bit. Judge (.347 average) has "only" struck out 15 times in 13 games thus far.

Remember Nick Delmonico? He now goes by "Nicky" for some reason. He was a 6th round pick of the Orioles back in 2011 and at one point was rated the team's #4 prospect. The O's shipped him to Milwaukee five years ago for two months of mediocre work from relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez. Well, Delmonico is now in Chicago and the White Sox are using him every day. He's hitting .276 with a .417 OBP.

But the biggest story in baseball thus far is Shohei Ohtani in Los Angeles, where his bat and arm have helped the Angels race out to their 10-3 start.

Ohtani smacked a three-run triple in last night's win that upped his average to .417 on the season. He has 3 home runs and 8 RBI in 22 at bats.

I know what you're thinking. How is it possible for Ohtani to show up and produce those numbers in the first two weeks of the season and Chris Davis can't get three hits per-week?

Baseball's weird, man.

The 23-year old Japanese star has a 2.08 ERA on the mound. He's allowed just three earned runs in 13.0 innings.

Hold on, let me wrap my head around this so I can get it all knitted together perfectly and ask the question everyone is asking. Or thinking about asking...

Has any player ever won the MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year award in the same season?

I think the answer to that is "no".

If Ohtani played with the Yankees or Red Sox, he'd have a great chance of pulling that off this year.

Alas, those are ambitious goals and likely unattainable, but Ohtani-fever is already in full blossom out west. In reality, he's a ticket seller. Baseball hasn't had a guy come along like this -- I mean someone who honestly "sells" tickets in every ballpark in which he plays -- since Barry Bonds circa 2002.

Aaron Judge might have entered that territory last year a little bit during the second half of the season, but this Ohtani kid will put butts in seats throughout 2018.

And this doesn't appear to be a fluke, either.

He can hit AND pitch and do both rather effectively. Who was the last guy to show this sort of legitimate prowess on the mound and at the plate? Babe Ruth.

As for the Orioles, not much stands out from the first two weeks of the season other than the Birds' offense has been sluggish, to say the least.

It won't last, of course. By the time May ends, the Orioles will be chugging along nicely at the plate. That's my guess, anyway.

The real issue is still the team's starting pitching and relief staff.

With Alex Cobb set to make his debut this Saturday in Boston, the O's will have their full compliment of starters at their disposal by next week.

That means Chris Tillman becomes the #5, which is a pretty decent luxury to have given that a couple of years ago he was their #1 starter.

Anything the Orioles get from Tillman is a bonus at this point. As #DMD's Brien Jackson pointed out on Wednesday here, Tillman is clearly losing his stuff. But that doesn't mean he can't help out in a pinch with a solid start every third week.

Bundy looks like he's the real deal, for sure.

Gausman looks that way once every three or four starts.

Andrew Cashner will get guys out as long as they're not hitting home runs off of him in Baltimore.

Cobb's the wild card, but his history says he'll do just fine.

Let's see where the O's are in a couple of weeks, but I'm guessing they'll be at .500 by the time we review the first month of the regular season.

Unfortunately, a .500 record might put them eight games behind the Red Sox.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

Baseball season is in full swing, which means it's time for my annual column about the stupidity of beanball wars, and how someone needs to take charge of putting a stop to this nonsense once and for all.

This year's edition feels like it's coming early, but this week has offered up a uniquely appropriate set of examples for us to deal with, with two games seeing bench clearing incidents on Wednesday night.

The most talked about of the fights came in the Yankees-Red Sox showdown. New York's Tyler Austin slid hard, and maybe wide, into second base to break up a double play, which led to the two benches clearing for the first time. Later on, Boston reliever Joe Kelly saw fit to hit him with a 98 MPH fastball, which led to Austin charging the mound and the benches clearing again. Kelly was suspended for 6 games for the incident, and Austin for 5.

What I "like" about this particular brouhaha is how it exposes the "unwritten rules" for the nonsensical crap that they are.

Was Austin's slide dirty? I happen to think it was (he clearly slid wide to the inside of the bag when he had a clear path to the outside edge, making it obvious that he was trying to contact Brock Holt) but your mileage may vary.

More importantly, the same "old school" baseball fans who like to trumpet the value of the unwritten rules would no doubt tell you that that's just good hard baseball being played the way it's meant to be played. But in the next breath, you'll get a defense of Kelly on similar grounds. He's "standing up for his teammates" or "policing the game" by throwing at an opposing batter.

Again, it's just good hard baseball being played the way it's supposed to be.

Which, of course, is nonsense. Either Austin's slide is okay or it's not.

To say that Kelly is justified in hurling a projectile at nearly 100 MPH at someone's body is, at the very least, to say that what Austin did was wrong and outside the ethics of the game.

A violation of baseball's silly "unwritten rules" triggered several incidents on Wednesday in Boston, which resulted in suspensions for players from the Red Sox and Yankees.

If you think that what Austin did was within both the ethics and rules of the game, then there is no transgression for Kelly to be policing, and we must conclude that Kelly's actions were beyond the pale at the least.

To argue that both of them were right and playing the game the right way, as it were, is not to invoke some long established and reasonably well understood code of ethics in the game, it's a totally incoherent argument for arbitrarily increasing levels of violence between two aggrieved parties unable to recognize when they've crossed a line, but constantly "enforcing" rules against their opponent.

Such was the case in the even more ridiculous display between the Rockies and Padres.

That issue actually started on Tuesday night, when San Diego's Manuel Margot was hit in the ribs, which caused him to go on the disabled list. The Padres carried a grudge into Wednesday and proceeded to plunk Colorado's Trevor Story. The Rockies retaliated by hitting Hunter Renfroe, and finally the Padres threw behind star third baseman Nelson Arenado, prompting him to charge the mound and set off a brawl that ended with five ejections.

I guess someone needed to pass around a copy of the unwritten rules before the game so that both teams knew ahead of time who had the right to inflict pain on the opposing players, rather than have a Wild West style showdown of beanballs?

Of course, there's no actual ethics here.

That is, there's no ethics beyond "I'm agitated at your team so my pitcher is going to try to hit your batter with a very hard fastball." Efforts to spin some sort of ethos out of all of this are just ex post facto nonsense, an argument proceeding from the conclusion that reactionary and mindless violence in baseball is good entertainment. But you would like to think that the players themselves would have a little more self-awareness about the whole thing given that, you know, people get hurt by being hit with pitches all the time.

Broken hands/wrists are pretty common and have long lasting effects. Heck, Elvis Andrus just suffered a fractured elbow from taking a fastball the other night, and will miss significant time as a result. And as previously mentioned, the hit batsman that started the Padres-Rockies feud suffered an injury that put him on the disabled list. This is serious stuff!

As I said at the beginning I write this column every year, and every year I say that baseball needs to act to put an end to this crap already.

And they do: It's ridiculous that they let it fester, and they give someone like Kelly only a one game longer suspension than the guy he assaulted for all intents and purposes. The umpires did not rule Austin's slide illegal, nor does it appear that the league office would have fined/suspended him for it had he not charged the mound after being plunked.

That the league countenances pitchers engaging in dangerous behavior to "enforce rules" beyond what the actual governing body considers to be infractions is absurd on its face, and the fact that they don't crack down on this similarly demonstrates that they just don't care about it. Which ought to embarrass the people who are taking home million dollar salaries to regulate and run the game.

But this year I'm going to put more of the blame on an even more culpable party: The union.

Unlike the leauge office, the union actually has a proactive duty to look out for the best interests of its members, and creating a safe working environment should obviously meet that requirement. Right now, the union isn't even pretending to give a darn about players being exposed to unnecessary risk of injury, because they're bending to pitchers who don't want rules against this kind of thing, or punishments for it, put in place.

That's a ridiculous lack of leadership on the part of union officials, both current and past, and another good example of why MLBPA is in the position it currently finds itself in. Simply put, it's a union being run by people who aren't willing to tell the membership (players) when they're wrong and lead them to a better position, on top of being too cozy with the league office and unwilling to rock the boat over the past decade.

The league should be embarrassed by displays like we saw Wednesday night, and they should be acting to remove that from the game for the good of everyone. But the union ought to be downright alarmed by seeing union members harmed and endangered for capricious reasons, but fellow union members no less. That they aren't, and indeed that they seem to be totally fine with it, is a truly damning indictment of where their priorities, sensibilities, and abilities are.

The players themselves ought to be leading on making baseball a safer game and codifying issues like Austin's slide if they have an issue with such behavior...and a good union would be leading them towards a consensus on the issue for the good of everyone. But this union lacks the foresight, knowledge, good sense, or desire to do that, which is an excellent microcosm of why MLB is facing more potentially devastating issues than they have since 2002, and why the players' union is getting rolled at every turn nonetheless.

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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 preview

Game of the Week: Army vs #17 Navy (12 pm CBS Sports Network)

The 7-4 Midshipmen head up to West Point to take on the 5-5 Cadets in what is always an intense contest. Army has had the better of Navy over the past 6 seasons with a record of 5-2. But the Mids are tied for 1st in the Patriot League (6-1 in conference) and have a great chance to host the conference tournament.

Meanwhile, the Cadets are struggling after a hot 3-0 start this season, having lost their last 3 contests in conference which leaves them out of the conference tournament. Current trends suggest a Navy win. But lets take a look at some to see if this will bear out.

Goals Scored/Allowed: If I told you one team is scoring 8.6 goals and allowing 8.6 goals per game while the other is scoring 9.6 while allowing 7.1 goals per game, you'd think the .500 team would be the ones average the same amount scored as allowed. But it's Navy who's allowing as many scored as they score. However, the Cadets are only scoring 6.4 goals per game in their last 5 in which they've lost 4 of 5 while the Midshipmen have been scoring just over 10 goals per game in their last 5 in which they've won 4 of 5. Advantage: Midshipmen

Caused Turnovers: Navy is causing just over 6 turnovers per game with opponents causing 9 per game against them. On the other side, Army is causing 9.3 turnovers per game with having only 6.8 forced turnovers against them. If those averages hold up, it could mean an extra 5 possessions for an Army which could add up to a couple goals. Advantage: Cadets

Opponents Saves: Navy opponents are making 8.8 saves per game against them while Army foes are making 12.3 saves per game. Drilling down into the goalies the Cadets have faced recently, only one ranks in the top 20 in the NCAA, yet they are saving 2.3 goals per game more than they allow Army to score. Music to Navy's goalie Ryan Kern's ears.

Intangibles/Outcome: For the most part, these two teams match-up pretty well statistically as there weren't many differences. So you could almost ignore any numerical advantages. But the stat on Army's savable shots is tough to ignore. It's also tough to ignore that Navy has beat to Patriot League leaders Bucknell and Lehigh on the road. The Army/Navy rivalry goes beyond football and this will be another knockdown, drag'em out, defensive struggle. But I see the Midshipmen surviving an initial charge by the Cadets on their home turf to prevail 9-7.

Other Notable Games

Charley Toomey and Loyola look for a big conference win this Saturday at home vs. Boston University.

#10 Loyola vs Boston (Saturday 12 pm Baltimore, MD) - Always take a Greyhound over a Terrier, especially when the Terriers are 2-4 in conference. Look for Loyola to continue to keep pace with other Patriot League leaders by taking down Boston 12-7.

Towson @ UMass (Saturday 1 pm, Amherst, MA) - A couple of 1 goal wins has the Minutemen atop the CAA for now. They score and give up plenty of goals. Also not seeing that quality win in their 7-4 record, so we'll give this one to the Tigers 10-9 in a close one.

#4 Johns Hopkins @ #14 Penn State (Saturday 2 pm, ESPNU) - The first B1G showdown of the weekend should feature plenty of offense. If Penn State's face-off specialist Gerard Arceri, one of the nation's best, was 100%, I'd give this one to the Nittany Lions. But he's not, so look for a Blue Jay victory 12-11.

UMBC @ Binghamton (Saturday 7 pm, Binghamton, NY) - Gotta give the Retrievers some love after they knocked off the number one team in the land. Have the Dawgs finally put things together offensively to match their normally stout D? I think they have enough to take down the Bearcats 10-8.

#1 Maryland vs #8 Rutgers (Sunday 7 pm, B1G Network) - The other B1G showdown of the weekend. The Scarlet Knights will give the Terps all they can handle. But "crabcakes and lacrosse...that's what Maryland does!" Terps 12 - Scarlet Knights 10

Projected Final Four - We are well into the season, so let's start to project the top teams for the NCAA Tourney.

1) Maryland

2) Duke

3) Denver

4) Albany

Outside Looking In: Johns Hopkins, Yale, Cornell, Loyola

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

With the top four to qualify for next seasons Champions League now set, we have only the countdown to when Manchester City will officially lift the league title and the final two teams to be relegated to watch for as Matchday 34 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning. Tune in to catch all of the action live across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, April 14 (all times eastern)

7:30 am – Chelsea @ Southampton – St. Mary’s Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Knowing that anything other than all three points from their remaining seven games would certainly see them miss out on a spot in the top four, Chelsea were unable to hold a first half lead and saw any hopes of stealing a spot in next seasons Champions League come to an end when they drew with West Ham United 1-1. With nothing left to play for and questions now surrounding the future of the team and the man in charge, they will travel to the St. Mary’s Stadium for a meeting with Southampton, who still have it all to play for after a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal kept them in the bottom three, three points from safety.

Chelsea’s lack of motivation could provide a much needed boost for Southampton, who have lost four in a row and have only one win from their last nine meetings in the league with the Blues (L6 D2) including just one in the last ten times they have welcomed the Blues to the St. Mary’s Stadium across all competitions (L7 D2), as they fight desperately for top flight survival, while Antonio Conte is likely to be the scapegoat for Chelsea’s failures this year and the third manager in as many years to be relieved of his duties the season after winning the league title.

2:45 pm – Manchester City @ Tottenham – Wembley Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Manchester City Pep Guardiola hopes he's giving Man City a thumbs-up after this Saturday's big showdown at Wembley Stadium vs. Tottenham.

Following a dominant and rampaging first half, Manchester City were two goals to the good with one hand on the league trophy until Manchester United ripped off three second half goals to shock the champions elect and deal their arch rivals only a second league defeat of the season. City will try again to move one more step closer to their third ever Premier League title when they head to the capitol for a showdown with Tottenham at Wembley Stadium in primetime Saturday afternoon, with Spurs doing just enough to heap loads more pressure on relegation threatened Stoke City with a 2-1 victory.

A potential dream week for City, where they could have locked up the league in style and punched their ticket to the final four of this seasons Champions League, quickly turned into a nightmare with the loss in the Manchester Derby bookended by defeats in both legs of their quarterfinal showdown with Liverpool. The results of the last seven days has taken some of the shine off of what has so far been a record setting season, but one which they must get back on track or the pressure will only grow to close out the league with the whispers about an epic collapse not far behind.

Monday, April 16 (all times eastern)

3 pm – Stoke City @ West Ham United – London Stadium, NBC Sports Network

The point on the road at Chelsea moved West Ham United six points clear of the relegation zone and another step closer to top flight safety, which they can all but guarantee with three points when they entertain second from the bottom Stoke City at the London Stadium to wrap up the weekend on Monday Night Football, with the setback against Tottenham a third in a row at home and a fourth overall to leave the Potters winless from their last nine (L5 D4) and stuck in the relegation zone, four points from safety and, like Southampton, running dangerously short on time to turn it all around.

The matchup is the first of three for Stoke over the next five weeks against relegation rivals that will determine if they can survive for another season in the top flight. They were little match for the often times inconsistent West Ham United in the reverse fixture earlier this season as the Hammers strolled to a 3-0 victory, however the Potters will be hopeful of starting the club defining stretch on the right foot as the defeat was only the first in their last nine meetings across all competitions with the Hammers (W3 D5) and they are unbeaten the last five times they have made the trip to London (W1 D4).

April 12
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"next year" has arrived for caps and their fans

Fans of the Cubs and Red Sox, among others, perfected the saying over a century of failures.

"Wait 'til next year!"

Fans of the Washington Capitals have become accustomed to using the phrase as well.

The Caps entered the NHL in 1974. They've never won the Stanley Cup.

In fact, they've made just one lonely trip to the Finals, that coming in the 1997-1998 campaign when they worked their way through the Eastern Conference playoff schedule, only to be swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the championship series.

Other than that, it's been nothing but post-season misery for the Caps.

For the uninitiated, the Capitals don't just lose in the playoffs. No, no, no.

They fall from grace with a thud. The Caps have been the-team-to-beat on several occasions in the playoffs, having posted remarkable regular season records after blazing through the October-to-April schedule with their hair on fire.

Can Philipp Grubauer take the Caps to a playoff place they haven't seen since 1998?

Then April rolls around and the Caps go in the tank.

It's as predictable as Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown on that field goal attempt.

"I know what you're going to do," Charlie says to her. "I'm going to run up to kick the ball and just as I get to you, you're going to pull it away and I'm going to fall on my butt."

"No, no, no...not this time," Lucy says. "I swear. I'm leaving the ball right there and you're going to kick that thing all the way to the moon."

You know what happens next.

That's the Capitals for you, in a playoff nutshell.

"I know what's going to happen this year," we all say to them. "You're going to get our hopes up again. We're going to believe this is the year it all changes. And then you'll lose in the first or second round of the playoffs, probably to a team that you beat with regularity in the regular season."

"This year's going to be different," the Caps contend. "You'll see...this is the year we we change it all up and win the Cup!"

You know what happens next.

So, "next year" begins tonight for the Capitals, as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets in D.C. in Game 1 of their-best-of-seven series.

Columbus won't be a walk in the park. They've been a good team for a few years now, and even though the Caps beat them three out of four in the regular season, Barry Trotz's team will have to hit on all cylinders to avoid the first-round upset.

I can't believe I'm saying this, as a guy who has seen it all in my four decades of Caps fandom, but I'd be surprised if Alex Ovechkin and Company bowed out in the first or second round this year.

Wait. What did I just say?

Yep. I said it.

Even with a looming series against the Penguins, who globbered the-worst-franchise-in-the-history-of-sports last night, 7-0, I still think this is the year the Caps -- at the very least -- nudge their way through two rounds and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

This Capitals team seems different to me, with better play from role players like Brett Connolly, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson and Dmitry Orlov helping them in a big way during the regular season.

Eller and Wilson in particular enjoyed patches where they among the team's best offensive performers. Connolly's the kind of guy who won't score for four games and then tucks in two big goals out of nowhere.

On a team defensively challenged, Orlov has blossomed into perhaps the team's most consistent backline player. Throw in the added bonus of scoring an occasional goal and he's a valuable piece.

I don't have to mention Alex Ovechkin, but I will.

He remains the league's top goal scorer and the second best offensive player behind a certain-guy-I-won't-name in Pittsburgh. Ovechkin has done everything a player could do in the NHL except win a Stanley Cup. He's the PGA Tour's 15-year veteran who has a dozen career wins but no major titles.

Because good teams rarely win in the playoffs unless their great players come through, the heat is once again on Ovechkin to perform at or above his standards for the better part of two months. Those are lofty expectations, and even though the stats show he's contributed "on par" over the years, those with a discerning eye know The Great Eight has disappeared a time or two during a critical playoff series.

He can't disappear this spring or the Caps will, too.

There seems to be something good going on with this edition of the Washington Capitals.

It might be as simple as Barry Trotz's February decision to flip the pecking order between the team's two goaltenders and give Philipp Grubauer the #1 role. Grubauer will start tonight's first game against the Blue Jackets. Even though Braden Holtby went 3-1 against Columbus in the regular season, Trotz is doing the right thing by giving "Gruby" the playoff nod.

Holtby -- for reasons no one can quite figure out -- wasn't anywhere near his best this past season. Trotz, not always known as the greatest tactician in the game, smartly sniffed out that a change was necessary and went with Grubauer, mainly, over the final two months of the regular season as the Caps steamed to another Metroplitan Division title.

Two trade deadline acquisitions for defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek helped out, too. Both took a few weeks to figure things out, but over the last month both have played important roles, with Kempny in particular stepping up his level of play.

Yes, things could be different this year.

As I wrote here at #DMD in 2015, 2016 and 2017, "the Caps just might finally pull through and shock us in the playoffs".

See what I did there?

I've been writing virtually this same piece about the Capitals for four years now.

Every April we say "they've got a great chance" and a few weeks later, we mutter, "Wait 'til next year!"

Next year has arrived. It starts tonight.

And, yes, I believe this just might be the spring the Caps kick that ball all the way to the moon.

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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.

when it's gone, goodbye

Earlier this week, I brought up the Orioles’ inexplicable success in extra innings.

That run began in 2012 when, after losing their first two, Buck Showalter’s team won its next 16 extra-inning games.

The fourth of those 16 wins came in Boston on an early May Sunday afternoon that turned into night. In the 16th inning Showalter handed the ball to 26-year-old designated hitter/corner infielder/guinea pig Chris Davis, in his first full year with the team, and told him to pitch.

The result was two scoreless innings, helped by a game-saving relay throw in the 16th and a game-ending double play in the 17th. The Orioles won 9-6, and Davis’s legend had begun.

The fact that Davis had finished the game 0-for-8 with five strikeouts was merely a footnote, lost to the history of one of the more entertaining games of the year.

12 games into the 2018 seasonm (this was written before Wednesday's 13th game of the campaign), the only thing that’s the same with Davis is the oh-fer. If that game in 2012, however unusual, served notice that there was probably something special about the guy’s talent and athleticism, every game now is serving notice too.

Chris Davis contributed a key hit in last night's Orioles win, but the impressive moments have been few and far between for him since signing a $161 million deal in 2016.

Davis, a $23 million man in the third year of a seven-year contract, can’t hit anymore.

It’d be one thing if Davis, who has a career 162-game average of 37 home runs, wasn’t hitting for power. It’d be another if Davis still hit for power but wasn’t approaching his career .245 batting average or .818 OPS.

After Sunday’s win in the Bronx, someone in the assembled media in the Orioles’ clubhouse asked catcher Caleb Joseph about unsung contributions from guys who aren’t stars. Just a few minutes earlier, Joseph had made one, throwing to third base to complete the first 1-2-5 double play in team history. A few minutes before that, Craig Gentry had singled in the game-winning run; he’d earlier saved the game with a nice catch of a Brett Gardner liner in left field.

Joseph talked about everyone on the team having to make a contribution. You know what you’re going to get from “Jonesy, Schoopy, Manny and CD,” he said. One or two of those guys might be able to carry you for a while. But that’s not always enough.

This is Joseph’s fifth year with the big-league team. He’s been a part-time player, and he’s spent a lot of time on the bench and in the bullpen watching Manny and CD and Jonesy and Schoopy win ballgames and hit bombs. You can’t blame him for mindlessly tossing Davis into his soundbite.

He’s Chris Davis, after all. He hits 400-foot home runs with one hand, plays a nifty first base and even a decent right field if you ask him. My cousin’s wife is madly in love with him.

He made a bad "mistake" back in 2014 and was suspended 25 games for it, but all was forgiven when he returned the next year and led the league in home runs. He’s a religious man, and he’s refreshingly open about it without being fake. He cares so much that he’s resorted to breaking his bat on his knee, something only a guy with his physical abilities can do.

He just can’t hit. At all.

The sample size is big enough now.

Right now, two weeks into the season, it’s easy to panic. The Orioles are barely hitting .200 as a team and keep getting no-hit deep into games. A lot of guys aren’t hitting.

There are excuses, of course. The cold weather is much better for pitchers than it is for hitters. Having played some good teams, the Orioles have faced the kinds of pitchers that can dominate a team for six or seven innings.

Maybe Jonathan Schoop and Tim Beckham will heat up along with the weather. Maybe Showalter has found the answer to his leadoff problem in Trey Mancini, who’s really just a good hitter no matter where you put him in the lineup.

There aren’t any maybes left with Chris Davis, are there?

Sometime during his monstrous 2013 season, when Davis led the league in home runs and total bases and had nearly 100 extra-base hits, I remember stopping a highlight of one of Davis’s 53 home runs midstream. From the usual centerfield camera, it looked great, but then came the face-on version.

He stayed back on the ball, “behind it” as a golfer might say. He waited until the last second and delivered the most perfect swing I’d ever seen, head looking straight at the ball with only the slightest bit of uppercut. There was as little backspin on the ball as there possibly can be. If you were to describe the powerful modern swing, that was it.

Davis would have that swing for a week, or maybe 10 days. If he made contact, he would crush any kind of pitch from any kind of pitcher. He wasn’t Barry Bonds, but in 2013 he was intentionally walked 12 times and hit by a pitch 10 times. All you could do was hope he swung and missed.

Then, for the next week or 10 days, he’d look terribly out of place in the batter’s box. He’d wave at breaking balls in the dirt, and his plate appearances against left-handed pitchers might as well have been strikeouts before they started.

That made him an awfully frustrating player to watch, of course, but there was always the anticipation of the great Chris Davis making an appearance at any time.

When Davis came back for 2018 spring training and started leading off every game, both he and Showalter said that he needed more at-bats.Then the regular season started, and you don’t have to be a genius to realize that, all things being equal, the guy who leads off most of the time gets to the plate more often. Francisco Lindor of the Indians. Mookie Betts of the Red Sox. Brian Dozier of the Twins.

Why would Chris Davis ever be a candidate for more plate appearances unless the Chris Davis of 2015 suddenly reappeared overnight?

I don’t begrudge Davis for his $161 million contract. He earned it, and someone else would have given him a big deal if the Orioles had passed. Whether he’s making $23 million on a long-term deal or less than half that on a one-year contract, it’s still the same: He’s a guy who makes outs. And keeps making outs.

He’s a guy whose bat drags through the strike zone in a way that seems impossible for a player of his physical stature and improbable considering that swing from a few years ago. He’s a guy who you get out inside, outside, up or down.

Chris Davis is 32 years old with eight years of Major League service time. He’s one of the top power hitters of his era, and he’s been at the core of his team’s success along with Jonesy and Schoopy and Manny.

He seems too young and too talented to be where he is, but the question for the Orioles is how much longer he can be in the lineup at all.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from last night's o's 5-3 win over toronto

1. Four minutes for the instant replay decision on the Machado hit? And the Commissioner says relief pitchers are slowing the game down.

2. Kudos to the bullpen, who gave up just one hit in three innings last night. Bleier, O'Day and Brach were on point. It was especially good to see O'Day come in and get the job done after the miserable result from Tuesday night.

3. I thought Toronto would be a below .500 team this year but now I'm starting to think otherwise. Their lineup is pretty good. Hey, where's Joey Bats?

4. What happens when Mark Trumbo returns to the lineup? Who goes? Well, by simple deduction, it's Danny Valencia. They can't do anything with Santander because he has to stay up until at least the middle of May and there's no way they're letting Gentry go. Alvarez hits left handed so he's staying. That leaves Valencia.

5. Don't look now, but Chance Sisco is hitting .304 after going 2 for 3 last night. How long until he's hitting above Chris Davis in the lineup when he's in there?

6. The O's now head to Boston for four games, including the annual 11:05 am tilt on Monday, which is the day of the Boston Marathon. Then they visit Detroit for three games. It would be nice to see the Birds go 5-2 in those 7 road games. Even 4-3 would be fine.

7. The Birds will face Chris Sale on Sunday but they might avoid David Price on Monday. He left last night's game with some sort of left hand injury.

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April 11
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issue 11
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buck, bullpen, bad defense all contribute to another o's home loss

It isn't time to worry just yet, but if you want to rummage through the closet for the panic button, that wouldn't be a bad idea.

We're only 12 games into a 162 game season, after all. And the Orioles are only 4-8 after last night's 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

But, as I noted here a week ago at #DMD, there are certain things about the make-up of the team's 25-man roster that are definitely concerning. And the blemishes were in plain view again on Tuesday evening at Camden Yards.

The biggest blunder actually came from the most reliable veteran on the team -- the manager.

We'll get to that in a minute.

Darren O'Day came on to pitch the 9th inning of a 1-1 game and promptly retired the first two batters he faced.

But he couldn't get out of the inning unscathed, as Curtis Granderson connected for a home run to give Toronto the lead, and the win, 2-1.

O'Day's miscue ruined another good effort by an Orioles starter, as Andrew Cashner went seven full innings and allowed four hits and no earned runs. Miguel Castro was the pitcher of record in the 8th when the Birds tied the game at 1-1, but he contributed to Toronto's first run in the top half of the inning by throwing a wild pitch that moved a runner from first to second.

Moments later, Anthony Santander failed to hit the cut-off man on a throw from right field and the ball skipped Chance Sisco allowing the first run of the game to score.

A wild pitch and a throwing error are a bad combination in a 0-0 game.

The Baltimore bullpen has been nicked and bloodied ever since opening day when Brad Brach came in to close things in a 2-0 game and gave up a pair of runs to the Twins. Adam Jones saved the day on that occasion with a home run.

No one with a bat could save the Birds on Tuesday night.

The Orioles actually didn't get a hit until the 8th inning.

And when they finally did get one, they tied the game at 1-1 and would have taken the lead if not for a rare mistake by Buck Showalter.

After Tim Beckham led off the inning with a double, Anthony Santander followed with a single of his own. That put runners at first and third with no one out.

It's at that point that Showalter should have inserted Craig Gentry to pinch run for Santander. But he didn't, for some reason.

And wouldn't you know it, the mistake came back to immediately haunt the Birds when Chance Sisco doubled in the next at-bat, sending Beckham home to score easily but leaving Santander standing on third base.

Gentry would have scored on the Sisco hit.

Still, though, with runners on second and third and no one out, you expect the O's to be able to push across the go-ahead run somehow, someway, right?


After Trey Mancini flew out to shallow center field, Manny Machado was intentionally walked to load the bases. All the O's needed from Jonathan Schoop was a hit, a deep fly ball, or anything thing else that got Gentry (who was inserted as a pinch runner AFTER Sisco's double) home from third base.

A rare in-game mistake from manager Buck Showalter was a critical part of Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to Toronto.

Instead, Schoop grounded into a double play to end the inning and keep the score at 1-1.

That's why the Orioles are 4-8. Or one of the biggest reasons, anyway.

The rare in-game faux pas from Showalter isn't something to fret over. It won't happen more than a few times over the six month regular season schedule. (Since I know it's coming, this is where you can insert your quip about Showalter's in-game playoff blunder in 2016 in Toronto if you'd like.)

But the Orioles' offensive woes are more than concerning, even at the 12-game mark of the season.

And the bullpen is either scorching hot or ice cold. In three of the four games in New York last weekend, the relief staff was lights out. In the 8-3 loss on Saturday, not so much.

On Monday night in the series opener with the Jays, the bullpen turned a 2-1 nailbiter in the 9th inning into a 7-1 laugher.

Last night, it was Castro and O'Day who failed to answer the call after Cashner did more than enough to help the O's triumph.

The mistake by Buck on the Gentry pinch-running situation is particularly hard to understand given that one of the primary reasons Gentry is on the big league club eating up a 25-man roster spot is because of precisely the situation that occurred in the 8th inning last night. He has speed and he's a smart baserunner.

When it rains, it pours.

The more pressing issue is the offensive performance of the Birds.

There's no true lead-off hitter on the roster. Trey Mancini continues to function in that capacity and might very well stay there for a while, but the O's are semi-wasting the power in his bat by putting in that spot.

Jonathan Schoop is hitting .189. He's now 0-for-13 this season with runners in scoring position. That's pretty dismal, obviously.

Chris Davis has Schoop beat. He's hitting .081 on the year. At least he only struck out once last night. It's so bad with Davis that the Orioles might have to consider coming up with a "hip flexor strain" for him when Mark Trumbo is ready to return to the lineup. Davis is that ineffective at the plate.

Tim Beckham scratched his way above the mendoza line last night with a 1-for-3 performance but his .204 average is terrible.

And the aforementioned Santander, who has to stay with the club for another 31 games because of his Rule 5 status, is hitting .194 and looking overmatched on a regular basis. In defense of him, though, he's basically a Triple A player being forced to play in the majors because of his Rule 5 designation. He'd never be with the Orioles otherwise -- at this point in his career.

The bullpen is unreliable.

And the offense is virtually non-existent.

It's early still -- let's continue to stress that -- but that's what we're seeing from the 2018 Orioles thus far.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

It would be an exaggeration to say that the Orioles are counting on Chris Tillman in 2018.

It's true that a return to form for Tillman would be welcome, and might even push the Birds' rotation is the realm of the actually good if everyone else pitches to their potential. But Tillman did enter the season poised to be the O's fifth starter, and no team is ever really counting on their fifth starter.

And considering that Miguel Castro is still waiting in the wings to take a turn at starting, Buck Showalter has even less reason to worry about his fifth guy than most other managers.

Which is a good thing, actually, because after two starts it sure doesn't look like the Tillman optimists are going to be vindicated this season.

Far from finding his way back to the pitcher he was before 2017, Tillman has actually managed to be even worse through his first two outings, with an 8.68 ERA that makes last year's 7.84 mark seem quaint and a total of 8 walks in his first 9.1 innings.

He's only given up one home run, though, so there is that. Anyone watching Tillman at this point, whether it's his final line scores or the way he's struggling to throw quality strikes, has to assume that Tillman's career as a useful big league starter is over.

O's righthander Chris Tillman is off to a shaky start in 2018, with an 8.68 ERA in two starts thus far.

And that's somewhat hard to believe because Tillman was a pretty darn good pitcher just two years ago. We're talking about a guy who anchored two postseason rotations, after all, and had a 3.34 ERA back in 2014.

Before the 2017 debacle Tillman was without question a guy who could slot in the top 3 starters in any good rotation, and without an extension in place with the Orioles, looked to be heading to a big payday, perhaps even a nine figure deal, in free agency.

Beyond what Tillman means to the 2018 Orioles (not much, at this point) there's a couple of lessons very big lessons to be learned about baseball's labor market in his tale. The first is that, for as much as their style makes us shake our heads and stammer in disbelief, the Orioles somehow find their way to the right answer on a lot of questions, at least in the Buck/Duquette era. The best example, of course, is their infamous physicals, but their handing of Tillman ended up working out strongly in their favor as well.

Ask most people covering baseball back in 2015-16, and a $60-80 million extension for Tillman likely would have received a ringing endorsement. That's exactly the kind of deals that smart teams were doing to lock up young pitchers who performed like Tillman did from 2012 through 2014, and the fact that the O's seemingly had little interest in such a pact admittedly had me criticizing their foresight and feel for the market they were operating in.

Yet as it turns out, they dodged a major bullet in having $15 million a season, give or take, tied up in an awful starter for another 3 or 4 seasons. Every deal is different, of course, but that's a data point worth keeping in mind when you consider how the team is handling the long term future of, say, Jonathan Schoop (I would offer Manny Machado as an example cutting the other way, but there remains no real evidence that Machado has ever had serious interest in a pre-market extension).

There's also a lesson, and a much more important one, for the players and their union to take away from Tillman's saga.

One of the biggest reasons baseball players have been capturing a lower share of their sport's revenues than football and basketball players, despite the lack of a salary cap, is the proliferation of these very same pre-free agency contract extensions. While a contract like the $72.5 million deal Cincinnati gave Brandon Phillips looks like a really large sum of money, the fact is that it's actually rather small when compared to the revenue windfall the teams were seeing from cable television and digital media deals at the same time.

Simply put, the contracts being handed represented a large (and guaranteed) amount to the players, and a small amount to the owners.

In theory, Tillman should have been a player to buck the trend. With a team that didn't seem interested in making the kind of offer that would buy out his free agent years, Tillman seemed headed to the open market and a bidding war for his services that would buck the trend and see him earn max dollars, a throwback of sorts to last decade.

Instead, Tillman stands as a cautionary tale to players who might think about doing just that, and a stark example of why those multi-year guarantees are so hard for four or five year veterans to turn down. Ultimately they all really are just one injury away from losing it all, especially the pitchers.

When a team puts a $60-75 million guarantee on the table, it's hard to think about it in terms of labor/owner revenue splits when you realize you may never be offered that much money again.

What the union ought to take away from Tillman's fiasco is another chance to realize why the most important battle they have to face is figuring out a way to shift their focus away from older vets and towards the (relatively) underpaid players who aren't eligible for free agency yet.

The way to square the circle driving these deals and putting more money in the owners' bank accounts is to change the economics of the game to increase the earnings and security of good players like Chris Tillman before they reach the entirely arbitrary six year service time mark.

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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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April 10
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issue 10
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meet golf’s most interesting champion

There’s always a story connected to every champion at Augusta National.

Sergio Garcia was the 2017 winner. His story? He couldn’t win the big one. Tried for almost two decades. Came close. Coughed a few up. Couldn’t win the one he wanted most.

Until he finally did.

Danny Willett won in 2016. It was a fluke. He hung around long enough for three days to be in prime position to take advantage of Jordan Spieth’s back nine collapse and he did just that. Willett wasn’t a bum or anything like that. He’s a “proper stick” as they say in England when they want to compliment one’s golf game.

But Danny Willett wasn’t supposed to win the Masters. Not then. Not ever. And that was his story.

There are plenty of others. Jordan Spieth was the can’t-miss-kid who played high-level junior golf and was a prodigy from his teenage years. He was always going to win. And he did.

Bubba Watson – as he admitted after his win in 2012 – never saw a Masters win in any of his dreams. He was just a kid with a homemade swing and a natural zest for trying to pull off shots that others wouldn’t try. On the first playoff hole in that 2012 event at Augusta National, he hit the most improbable shot in the history of the tournament from the right woods. Two putts later, he was the Masters champion.

And this year, there’s Patrick Reed.

A Ryder Cup hero and now Masters champion, Patrick Reed hasn't talked to his parents since 2012. This past weekend, they watched him win the Masters in a home just four miles from Augusta National.

If you think those other stories are captivating or interesting, pull up a chair.

Perhaps the oddest thing about Reed is that he competes on a TOUR where everyone plays hard and works hard. Or vice versa. Everyone is everyone’s friend out there.

Except for Patrick Reed.

He doesn’t hang out with anyone.

Plays practice rounds alone.

Doesn’t go to ballgames or concerts in the various cities where the TOUR stops for ten months a year.

He just plays golf.

By himself.

He doesn’t even talk to his own family. While Reed was busy stalking the back nine on Sunday at Augusta and pursuing his first-ever major championship, his parents and sister were in a house four miles from the golf course watching the action on television.

Reed hasn’t talked to them since 2012. When his parents questioned his decision to marry his (future) wife, Justine, Reed cut them off and hasn’t communicated with them since.

She must be one hell of a cook.

Reed has never done things “normally”. We’re finding that out now, the more we learn about his past and the more we discover how he goes about his daily business.

With all due respect to the beer guy and Miguel Angel Jimenez, Reed might very well be the most interesting man in the sporting world.

How can you live apart from your family – disowning your own mother and father, effectively – and yet somehow separate that from your performance in front of millions and millions of people?

It seems impossible.

Tiger Woods did it for over a decade, hiding his “other life” from his wife and the rest of the world while he won the bulk of his 14 major championships and at least 50 PGA Tour titles.

Golf is hard enough when you have everything perfectly lined up and the stars are all aligned in your favor.

How do guys like Woods and Reed compartmentalize their routines in such a way that they can put aside the struggles and tensions they’ve created and still perform at the highest level their sport will possibly allow?

It’s beyond impressive, at least from the standpoint of competing and winning.

It’s odd. But impressive.

There's a certain toughness that comes with having the "me against the world" mentality that dominates Reed's life. You put yourself in a very vulnerable position when you're willing to take on everything and everyone.

He used that philosophy to win the Masters on Sunday. He got mad at the TV analysts for picking Rory over him. He was upset that McIlroy got more applause than he did on the first tee. And he was fueled inside by the mere fact that he knew no one at Augusta National wanted him to win the green jacket.

He's one helluva tough kid.

What makes the Reed story even more remarkable is that he was never groomed for this sort of stardom as a youngster.

Everything he’s won or earned, Patrick Reed accomplished on his own.

Woods, for all of his greatness, was structured to be a champion from the time he was an infant. He played the highest level of junior golf the state, region and country had when he was growing up in Southern California.

So did Spieth.

So, too, did Rickie Fowler. And Justin Thomas.

And today, they're surrounded by swing coaches, nutritionists, massage therapists and various others who hang-on for a yearly salary and a small slice of the good life.

That those four guys have made a gazillion dollars playing golf was as much a foregone conclusion as Chris Davis striking out twice tonight against the Blue Jays.

Nothing was concluded for Patrick Reed.

He has done it all by himself.

When he was 12 years old, he showed up at junior high school tournament in Texas and told the kids on the first tee, “I’m Patrick Reed and I’ll kick your ass in golf on any course, any where.”

A year later, his father’s employment required a family move to Louisiana. Some kids would have fallen by the wayside at the thought of leaving their friends and classmates.

Not Reed. He didn’t really have any friends.

So he went to Louisiana and dominated the high school scene there for a couple of years.

He went to a college golf powerhouse – the University of Georgia – and was promptly sent packing after two on-campus alcohol incidents and whispers of other nefarious behavior on and off the course.

Getting kicked out of Georgia would bother some golfers. It didn’t bother Reed.

He packed up and headed to Augusta State University, where a coach convinced him to be a “big fish in a small pond”.

On the first day of qualifying at Augusta State, he shot six under par and reportedly told the athletic trainer “These guys can’t play a lick”. Whether that was what led to his teammates rallying against him or the rumors of cheating on the course were true, they tried their best to get Reed kicked off the team.

It didn’t happen. He stuck it out there, friendless and all, and was part of back-to-back national champions including a win over Georgia in the 2011 Finals.

In that Finals match, he was set to play Georgia’s hotshot, Harris English. Knowing his star player was probably nervous, the Augusta State coach walked up to Reed on the putting green just prior to tee off.

”Don’t say a f***ing word to me,” Reed growled. “I’ve got this.”

And he did. Reed beat English to sew up the title for Augusta State.

Afterwards, a reporter asked him if he was extra happy to have defeated his old school on the sport’s biggest stage.

”I want to beat everyone I play,” Reed said. “This is no different than anyone else. If you’re in my way, I’m going to beat you.”

All of that bravado traveled with him to the PGA Tour, where after his second career win he stood in front of the media and said, “I feel like I’m a top five player in the world.”

People laughed at him.

They called him “brazen”, “cocky” and “arrogant”.

They’re not laughing now.

The most interesting man in golf has a green jacket.

And yet, the world he lives in doesn’t allow for much celebration.

There’s another golf tournament right around the corner and more competitors to beat.

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how does augusta national stand the test of time?

No player in the history of the Masters has shot four rounds in the 60’s.

That’s an amazing stat, right?

Particularly on a course with four par 5 holes, you would have thought by now someone could have gone 69-69-69-69.

It’s symbolic, of course. Four rounds of 69 would only equal 12 under par and most recently as this past weekend, 15-under was the winning score.

But how and why can’t someone – anyone over the last 82 years – shoot four rounds in the 60’s?

Here’s why: The course isn’t getting any easier.

In fact, in some ways, Augusta National plays harder now than it did 15 or 20 years ago.

Yes, it’s longer in length. Nearly every hole has been tweaked in one way or the other. New tees have been built or modified everywhere. The course can now play anywhere from 7,100 to 7,400 yards depending on the tee markers they use for the Masters.

But it’s not length that has kept scoring relatively the same over the years.

The secret comes from an area most people would never realize.

The improved golf ball, shafts and clubs are actually working against the natural flow and design of Augusta National.

The 13th hole at Augusta (shaded, above) requires players to hit a significant draw off the tee if they hope to reach the flat landing area some 185 yards from the hole. The tee box is in the upper right portion of the picture, the green is in the lower right.

PGA Tour players are hitting the ball straighter and farther than ever before. The data suggests the increased length off the tee isn’t quite as staggering as you might think, but the fact remains guys are routinely hitting tee balls in the 300-325 yard range.

A 160-yard 7-iron was “the norm” back in 1995. Now, most TOUR players can hit their 9-iron that far, both because the clubhead is tweaked a degree or two to take loft off of it (effectively turning a 9-iron into an 8-and-a-half iron, if that math makes sense) and because players are bigger and stronger today than they were 20 years ago.

So, yes, players are hitting it longer with virtually every club these days.

But here’s what they’ve traded in that pursuit of distance: No one can move the ball from right-to-left or left-to-right the way they could in the 70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s.

And that’s why Augusta National has stayed relevant. And difficult.

The 13th hole is a perfect example of this. In some ways, you probably need to have seen the golf course in person to completely understand this, but I’ll do my best to explain it.

Back in the 1980’s or so, when balata (soft covered) balls were being used and players were still using steel shafts with smaller heads on their drivers and 3-woods, it was far easier to “turn the ball over” on that 13th hole.

Players could aim on the high right side of the hole and hit a good, drawing tee shot that would bound down the fairway with overspin and give them an iron into the par-5 green.

These days, the hard cover ball and the larger headed metal “woods” don’t allow for the ball to be worked as much. Fewer and fewer players can hit a “draw” – at any level of golf – with their driver because the ball and the club simply don’t allow for it.

Most players now just try to hit the ball as far as they can on that hole and avoid going left (water, woods) at all costs. You’re seeing far more balls wind up right and in the pine needles at 13 because of these changes. Guys are still hitting the green in two there – most with irons, still – but they’re basically hitting the same 4, 5 and 6 irons into that hole as Fred Couples hit there back in 1998, for example.

The 18th hole at Augusta works in the same way, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. Players stand on that tee knowing they need to hit what amounts to a half-a-slice just to get the ball in the fairway and leave themselves with a 160-yard shot into the green.

How many guys did you see hitting out of one of those two fairway bunkers over the weekend at Augusta? Plenty. Why? They can’t get the ball to go left-to-right like they could 20 years ago.

If Jordan Spieth would have made four pars at the 18th hole this year he would be your 2018 Masters champion. He couldn’t get the ball to travel left-to-right safely enough.

Augusta hasn’t been eaten up by the new breed of young golfer because the holes there – the non par 3’s, anyway – mostly all have movement to them.

#1,#3 and #8 require basic straight tee shots.

But several holes on the course, including the underrated #5, require players to play right-to-left shots off the tee.

You have to hit a sling hook at #10, then block one 40 yards right on #11.

That’s the magic of Augusta National.

On #10 tee, you have to hit a draw.

On #11, you have to hit the exact opposite shot.

At #13, it’s another draw tee-shot.

At #14 and #17, you have to hit it straight. Dead straight. But if you don’t, the second shot requires movement from one side to the other depending on where your tee ball winds up.

Oh, and we haven’t even talked about the greens yet.

They’re always treacherous, whether it’s 1998, 2008 or 2018.

I’ve written here a lot about the “softening” of Mount Pleasant over the years and how much different it was in, say, 1993.

I can remember with pure clarity playing the 9th hole at the Mount in the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

Side note: In the middle of the 9th fairway, there’s a sprinkler head with “215” painted on it. I know it well. Me and my buddy Greg Ruark were there the day the guys came in and lasered the course (circa 1993) and we painted those numbers on the sprinkler heads.

If you hit a drive on #9 at Mount Pleasant and it got “to the top of the hill”, you were thrilled. If you had anything around 200 yards to that hole (449 yards from the blue tees), you had “busted one”.

Last year I hit a decent drive there – albeit not in a golf tournament, just goofing around with friends – and had 159 yards to the hole.

If you’re playing in a tournament there now, in 2018, you will have 170 or less into that green. 25 years ago, you would have been happy to have 200 yards in.

But similarily to Augusta National, the straight holes at Mount Pleasant (there aren't many -- #1, #9, #10 and #15) might have gotten a smidge easier over the years but the holes with movement on them are in some ways tougher than they were two decades ago.

The second hole at Mount Pleasant is one that some would consider more difficult now than it was back in the old days.

If you hit the dreaded straight ball there, it can only travel 250 yards or it’s in Hillen Road.

That means, if you’re playing for score, you probably have to hit an iron off the tee. Even if you hit a good one, you’ll still have 130 yards to the hole.

TOUR players would just drive the ball over the tree line to the right and likely hit the green or come close with nearly every drive. But the rest of the great unwashed like you and I don’t have that shot.

So, for weekenders, the 360 yard second hole might be a smidgen more difficult in 2018 than it was in 1993.

The 13th hole at Mount Pleasant is now much more difficult than it was in 1995.

In those days, you could just bunt a half-a-driver out there and leave yourself with 140 yards to the green. Today, only a fool would hit driver there. You can’t gain any benefit from it and, in fact, could easily drive the ball into trouble since the fairway and rough run out at roughly 275 yards off the tee.

Augusta National has similar quirks.

The 12th hole is always hard, as Jordan Spieth (2016) and Tiger Woods (2018) can attest. And yet, it’s basically the same length now that it was when Fred Couples won in 1992.

The par 5 holes are relatively easy as long as you hit good drives. #2 and #8 were essentially unreachable 30 years ago, but now they can be tamed in three shots if the player hits a big drive and a precise second shot.

The two back nine par 5’s are more interesting holes and each offers trouble if the player can’t adapt to the shot type that’s required. Just ask Sergio Garcia about the “spinny” wedge he tried to play at #15 last Thursday.

It seems to me that each year, a new hole becomes problematic and another becomes soft in its old age.

This year, the two par 3’s on the front nine seemed more difficult than in years past and the 5th hole was a definite round killer for those who couldn’t drive the ball in the fairway on the dogleg left hole.

On the back nine, the 11th hole continues to be among the toughest par 4’s on TOUR, but it’s often the 17th and 18th holes that give the players fits or offer up almost routine birdies depending on the hole location on the green.

82 years and counting, though, and no one has been able to completely tame Augusta National. For every 68, there’s a 75.

And despite the improved equipment, the holes and course never seem to get easier from year to year.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from last night's o's 7-1 loss to the blue jays

1. Dylan Bundy deserved a better fate. In an outing reminiscent of opening day, Bundy worked seven innings and struck out 10 Toronto hitters, but those silent Orioles bats offered him virtually no help at all. Bundy now has a 1.35 ERA in three starts this season. He's our ace.

2. Keep Mancini in the lead off spot. He went 3 for 4 there last night and his average is up to .279. And he had a nice throw to the plate that saved a run in the 7th inning.

3. The crowd of 7,915 was the lowest paid attendance in Camden Yards history. There isn't much to say there. That's a terrible crowd, I don't care what night of the week it is.

4. The game was there for the taking in the bottom of the 7th when the O's had runners on first and second with only one out. But Schoop and Jones couldn't get the tying run in. I'll take my chances with those two coming to the plate. They succeed there more than they fail.

5. I'm not feeling too warm and fuzzy about Santander, but with Trumbo out, there's not many other right field options at this point. If Santander ever gets his average above .250, I'll be shocked.

6. So what happens this weekend when Alex Cobb joins the rotation? Is Mike Wright put on waivers? He's out of minor league options.

7. The bottom five hitters in the lineup last night are all hitting under .200 now. Davis, Valencia, Beckham, Santander and Joseph. None of them are above the mendoza line. It goes without saying that we can't win many games if the 5 through 9 guys can't hit.

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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.

April 9
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issue 9
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reed silences the critics (for now)

It's hard enough to win the Masters without the extra burden of knowing nearly everyone wants you to lose.

So when someone does triumph in those elements, it's even more gratifying.

You'll have to excuse Patrick Reed if he has a little bit of "take that, haters" in him following yesterday's victory at Augusta National.

The man few people wanted to win did just that on Sunday. And his life is now forever changed.

In a performance similar to something Tiger Woods would have produced in his heyday, Reed clearly didn't have his "A game" in the final round, but he made crucial putt after crucial putt and when the dust settled just before 7 pm, Reed took 273 shots over four days and Rickie Fowler took 274. One stroke was the difference. One shot. One ball that went in for Reed and didn't go in for Fowler.

Reed's lack of popularity was evident in so many ways on Sunday. And, he said, all of it fueled his drive to win even more.

Fueled by critics and perceived slights from the media, Patrick Reed shot a final round score of 71 on Sunday and captured the Masters by one shot over Rickie Fowler.

Waking up on Sunday morning, Reed watched "national golf coverage" and noted that all of the on-air hosts except one picked Rory McIlroy to triumph over him on Sunday.

"It was like I was an afterthought," Reed said following the green jacket ceremony. "Everyone except Notah (Begay, a Golf Channel analyst) picked Rory over me. All that good golf I played the first three days didn't matter to everyone. No one except Notah thought I could do it a fourth day for some reason."

Then, we he got to the first tee, the welcome he received was clearly not on the same level as the one generated for McIlroy.

"He got a roar from the crowd," said Reed. "I got polite applause. I knew right then what I was up against and it fueled me more, to be honest with you."

That's what elite performers are able to do. They take the slightest slap-in-the-face, real or perceived, and use it to their advantage. That's what Reed did on Sunday, despite a slow start that included a shaky bogey at the opening hole and misplayed second shot into #2 that led to a par on what was generally a birdie hole for the top competitors.

But a funny thing happened at that second hole that changed the course of the final round.

McIlroy, who didn't hit on all cylinders from the very start, backed up an opening par with a laser into the 2nd green from 220 yards out and was looking at a six foot eagle putt while Reed was attempting -- and missing -- a 12-foot birdie effort on the same hole.

A make there for eagle three and Rory would suddenly be tied for the lead, having shaved a stroke off Reed's 3-shot lead at the opening hole.

But McIlroy missed the eagle putt. And Reed kept the lead.

McIlroy wouldn't be heard from again, either.

There were lots of other challengers headed Reed's way, though. And everytime someone got close, he'd make a big putt to keep himself ahead. Even when Jordan Spieth momentarily caught him with a birdie at the 16th hole, Reed rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at #14 just seconds later to climb back on top one final time.

"I knew Jordan was doing something special," Reed confessed. "I could hear the roars and I would check out the scoreboard every hole or two to see where I stood. I know who people wanted to see win, that's for sure."

Spieth's popularity was even more fuel for Reed, who went to school at was when then called Augusta State University and was a vital cog in two NCAA championship teams there.

It was at Augusta State where Reed's reputation took a major hit. Already dismissed from the University of Georgia over an alcohol related incident, Reed was then involved in two cheating scandals at Augusta State, although he was never disciplined by the school or the program and years later his coach there signed an affadavit saying the golfer was never formally accused of cheating.

"Those were just rumors. I don't even talk about that stuff anymore," Reed said after Saturday's round at Augusta National when a reporter gingerly touched on the subject.

Whether they were true or not, Reed knows the general golfing community views him as the white elephant in the room. He's the kid who got accused of cheating on the golf course at not one, but two schools.

It must be really hard to win with that stuff flying around. Golf's hard enough without people on the outside whispering things about you and rooting against you. Just ask Tiger Woods.

But there he stood on the 18th green, needing just two putts to win the Masters. Rickie Fowler had charged into second place with a back nine surge that included a birdie at the last hole to finish at 14-under par.

It wasn't any ordinary two putt, either. Reed faced a 24-foot putt straight downhill on the final green.

The first effort predictably slid past the hole by four feet. The moment was at hand. All those Golf Channel analysts were about to be wrong. Everyone who toned down their applause earlier in the day at the first tee were about to regret that move. The rumor-spreaders who openly rooted against Reed were about to get spanked.

One putt. If it goes in, Reed is right and everyone else is wrong.

And like he's been doing for the better part of a decade now, Patrick Reed made the putt when it needed to be made.

Ultimately that's what won him the golf tournament yesterday...putting.

He made a handful of huge par putts in the 4-8 foot range, including a mammoth effort at the 17th hole after his drive found the right rough and he wasn't able to get his approach shot close to the hole.

There was also a dicey 3-footer for par at the 15th hole that he made, plus an uphill birdie effort from ten feet at #14 that gave him the lead for the final time.

It seemed nearly every time he faced a putt with major consequences attached to it, Reed rolled it in.

"I never changed my routine one time all day," Reed said afterwards while wearing the green jacket. "I just kept my routine going and tried to stay as calm as I could."

Oh, and Reed had one final dig at the critics.

"They'll probably start saying I can't win two majors," he said. "That's OK. I know what I can do. I knew I could win this golf tournament even though no one else thought I could. I have a lot more great golf in me, that's for sure."

Spoken like a champion.

And a guy you probably don't want to bet against in the future.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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

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

“What a Week” Edition


Donte DiVincenzo

Midway through the second half in Monday’s national championship game against Michigan, the Villanova redshirt sophomore made the signature play of the NCAA tournament, non-Loyola edition. The Wolverines’ Charles Matthews went up for a finish in the lane only to be denied by a two-handed stuff from DiVincenzo, who somehow avoid fouling in the process.

Oh yeah, he also scored 31 points, the most for a non-starting player in a Final Four, on the way to winning Most Outstanding Player. A few minutes after that two-handed block, DiVincenzo made long three-pointers on consecutive possessions, turning a 12-point Villanova lead that gave the Wolverines hope into an 18-point Villanova lead that meant the game was over.

Speaking of big leads, DiVincenzo and the Wildcats beat Kansas by 16 before their 17-point win over Michigan, making them the first team since UCLA in 1968 to win both their semifinal and championship games by 16 or more points.

Jay Wright’s team also became just the fourth team in the 64- or 68-team NCAA tournament era (since 1985) to win each of its six games by double-digit margins. In a tournament that featured the first win by a No. 16 seed and a No. 11 seed in the Final Four, it was DiVincenzo who was the breakout individual star, both for his athleticism and his shooting. And he started only 10 of Villanova’s 40 games.


G.T.’s hole-in-one

Jack Nicklaus’s 15-year-old grandson made a hole-in-one on the 9th hole of the Par 3 course at Augusta during Wednesday’s annual Masters Par-3 contest. Afterwards, Nicklaus, who won six Masters and is the greatest golfer of all-time by the way, said it was his No. 1 moment in golf.

Nicklaus, as well as Tom Watson, are somewhat famous for having a strong opinion about anything and everything. They’re also pretty stoic; they’ve seen everything there is to see in golf, and probably in life, and nothing really moves them too much.

To see the 78-year-old Nicklaus moved to tears, all while the 68-year-old Watson was actually winning the contest, was downright fun. Nicklaus has endured tragedy with his grandchildren. In March 2005, his then 17-month-old grandson, Jake, drowned accidentally in a hot tub. He would have been approaching his 15th birthday at this year’s Masters.

G.T. is the son of Gary Nicklaus, a former PGA Tour player himself, so it’s no surprise that the 15-year-old has a nice golf swing, even in a restrictive caddie bib.

I’m not old enough to remember Gary Player or Nicklaus in their primes, and I didn’t know much about golf when Watson was still playing well in the 1980s. Watching them play together on Wednesday was my favorite part of this year’s Masters that didn’t involve actually being at the course.


Extra innings

Despite loading the bases in the 12th inning on Sunday, Brad Brach played the hero role by starting a 1-2-5 double play that helped the O's beat the Yankees, 8-7.

Thanks to Brad Brach’s Sunday heroics (almost goat-ness) in the 12th inning and Pedro Alvarez’s after midnight grand slam on Friday in the 14th inning in New York, the Orioles now have a 3-0 record in extra-inning games this season.

The wins on Friday and Sunday add to the team’s remarkable record of recent years in games that go past nine innings.

Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Orioles have won 65 of 91 extra-inning games. Buck Showalter’s team has seen nearly 10 percent of its games in that time go to extra frames and has won more than 71 percent of those games.

The ability to consistently win extra-inning games is a hard thing to analyze.

You could easily just say that the Orioles have for the most part been a consistently good team since 2012, so their good record in extra-inning games isn’t a surprise. You could argue that the team’s better-than-average bullpen has made a big difference. You could say that the O’s penchant for the long ball makes it easier to win those games.

I’d have to look back to see how many of those 91 games have come at Camden Yards, since it’s obviously of great advantage to be the home team in an extra-inning game. The 65-26 mark is one of the more amazing stats from the last seven seasons of Orioles baseball.


Augusta National Golf Club

Think of the “biggest” golf course you’ve ever played. Not the hardest, or the most scenic, or the longest in terms of yardage. I’m talking about the entire place. There are a few country clubs around here, and even a couple public courses, that might fit the bill.

The Augusta National Golf Club is just bigger.

Like you can at any golf tournament, fans (er, patrons) can cross the fairways at designated crosswalks at Augusta during a round. On a practice round day, the crosswalks are actually open most of the time since play is somewhat sporadic.

So, you can get away with standing in the middle of a crosswalk for an extra few seconds. Nobody is really pushing you. And when you stand there, you’re just swallowed by the entire place.

On every hole, if you stand in the crosswalk for a second and look toward the green, you can remember some of the famous shots from the Masters. You can imagine Nicklaus making his charge in 1986. You can stand in the ninth fairway and clearly see how a shot that’s a little bit short is just going to come right back down into the fairway.

More than anything, though, you just feel kind of small. There are many thousands of people on the property, yet for a moment you can feel kind of alone, in a good way.


Jordan Spieth and the 18th hole

How is it possible for someone who might be the best player in the world, on the way to possibly setting a course record in the final round of the Masters, to hit a drive like that on the 18th hole? Jordan Spieth had 315 yards to the hole for his second shot. On the card, the 18th is listed at 465 yards.

I can’t imagine how many people have played the 18th and clipped a tree on the right or left of the “chute” off the tee, leaving them in a similar spot. I bet it happens all the time, even from the member tee.

What must Jordan Spieth have been thinking when he was in that spot, maybe 150 yards off the tee, on the 72nd hole of the tournament?

I suppose that’s where his caddie, Michael Greller, can really earn his money. It makes no difference where the ball lies, nor does it make a difference how well his man had been playing all day. He had to get Spieth back on track for the next shot, no matter how unusual it was.

He hit two perfect shots after that, even though the birdie he knew he needed was off the table after the tee shot.

Still, it was an incredibly surprising shot from the 2015 Masters champion. In some ways, it was more surprising than hitting the ball in the water twice at the 12th when defending his title in 2016.

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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

It was a great weekend in lacrosse for Maryland schools with several 'upsets' of sorts. And we start with the biggest upset of the weekend and probably of the season.

UMBC 11 - #1 Albany 7 - It's officially a curse if you're a #1 ranked NCAA team and you have to play UMBC. Big time win for the Retrievers who knock off the #1 team in the land to improve to 3-7! The Great Danes were down two of their starting attackmen including Justin Reh and Tewaaraton favorite Connor Fields. But Albany dominated face-offs winning 19 of 21. And the Retrievers still controlled the game with great defense and an outstanding job in the net by Tommy Linger making 16 saves.

And when UMBC had the ball, they took great care of it (giving up only 6 turnovers with 3 of those in the final few minutes) and made the most of their offensive opportunities with midfielder Billy Nolan leading the way scoring 3 goals and 2 assists. Big win for Coach Moran and hopefully something to build on for the rest of the season.

Towson 17 - Drexel 9 - A big upset on offense as Tigers enjoyed their biggest offensive output of the year including a huge 8 goal 4thquarter against the Dragons. Towson was led by Johnny Guifredda.(Kent Island) with a breakout game of 5 goals, Matt Sovero (Saint Pet er and Paul) with 3 goals and 1 assist and Brendan Sunday (3 goals).

#11 Loyola 16 - #17 Lehigh 10 - A huge upset on face-offs as the Greyhounds Bailey Savio dominated one of the better face-off units in the country, winning 17 of 25 draws. Loyola put that possession advantage to work, racing out to a 7-0 lead and kept on trucking by extending the lead to 11 goals late in the 3rd at 14-3 before coasting the rest of the way.

Pat Spencer paced the Loyola offense with 4 goals and 3 assists while defender Foster Huggins continues to light up opposing attackmen as he collected 3 caused turnovers.

#5 Johns Hopkins 13 - Ohio State 10 - Somewhat of an upset in that Blue Jays were dominated in face-offs, winning only 8 of 27 and still won pretty comfortably. Tied with the Buckeyes at half, Hop comes up with another big 3rd quarter, scoring 5 goals and were led by Cole Williams (Loyola) with 4 goals and Shack Stanwick (Boys Latin) with 1 goal and 3 assists. Don't look now, but the Blue Jays have extended their win streak to 7.

Navy 12 - Colgate 10 - An upset in that the Raiders took 10 more shots than the Midshipmen including outshooting Nayv 31 to 12 in the 2nd half. Navy jumped out to a 7-3 lead late in the 2nd and never relinquished the lead behind very efficient offense. The Midshipmen spread the wealth on offense with 9 different goal scorers.

Ryan Wade led the sharing with 5 assists and a goal. Navy is now in a 3 way tie atop the Patriot League could very well make it back into the top 20 this week.

#2 Maryland 13 - #15 Penn State 12 - Truly a battle as the Nittany Lions did show up for the #2 Terps on Sunday night at home. But no upset here as the Terps get a hard fought win. Penn State did come out to play winning most of the face-offs and jumping out to an early 3-1 lead in the 1st. The Terps definitely looked uncomfortable and unsettled early, especially on defense with some ball watching and ball chasing. But they settled in thanks to Maryland's offensive leader, Connor Kelly, scoring 3 of his 6 goals to bring the Terps to within 1 goal at the half, 6-5.

The battle continued with the teams ending up tied at the end of 3, 9-9, setting up a great finish. The Nittany Lions Gerard Arceri continued to win face-offs (19 of 26 for the night) and had their chances. But Maryland's defense responded and goalie Dan Morris made the key stops. And on offense, Kelly netted 2 more goals to help finish off Penn State. Kelly end up with 6 goals and an assist to lead the Terp offense.

A great contest and a great win which will end up with Maryland becoming the #1 team with the updated rankings.

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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.

April 8
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issue 8
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no matter what happens today, golf wins

One of the things I stressed to our group of 26 that went to Augusta National this past Monday was something you don't really hear the TV talking heads say all that much. Perhaps they don't think it's important to pass along to the viewers or maybe they see it so much over the years it becomes old hat to them.

"You will never believe the scores the winners shoot once you've seen how hard this place is," I tell every person, every year.

I've been to Augusta National nine times now and it still amazes me. The golf course is so freakin' hard and, yet, there they are, shooting 14 under par for three rounds, posting rounds of 65 and 66 like they're playing at Mount Pleasant on a Sunday afternoon, or making five birdies in a row on greens that have more complexity than your ex-spouse.

The golf course is crazy hard.

More than you can imagine.

But yet, there's Patrick Reed, playing the par 5 holes in 13-under par through 54 holes and owning a 3-shot lead over Rory McIlroy, who positioned himself for a shot at the career grand slam with a smooth little 65 on Saturday that included no bogeys and a critical 18th hole birdie.

There are others hanging around, like Rickie Fowler (-9) and Jon Rahm (-8), but despite their respective Saturday scores of 65, they'll need something special to happen today in order to claim their first green jacket.

With a win today at Augusta National, Rory McIlroy would have as many major titles (5) as the great Seve Ballesteros.

Reed and McIlroy could stumble over the final 18 holes. It's golf, after all. And this isn't the John Deere Classic they're playing in. This is golf immortality. This is a lifetime of trips to Augusta National every April.

This is the greatest golf tournament in the world.

So the pressure on Reed and McIlroy is greater than anything they've ever felt before.

But I'd be shocked to see them both fail to perform today. One of them? Sure, that's reasonable. But not both.

Reed has a great history as a front-runner, but his last two 54 hole leads haven't been kind to him. He lost both times with Sunday scores of 77 and 75.

McIlroy has never won at Augusta National, but he's had a couple of chances, including 2011 when he held the 54-hole lead and was four shots ahead standing on 10 tee on Sunday afternoon...only to see it all fall apart on the incoming nine holes en route to an embarrassing score of 80.

Rory tried to heap a little extra heat on Reed during his post-round press conference yesterday, telling the media, "All the pressure's on him (Reed) tomorrow," but the 4-time major champion knows that isn't true.

McIlroy has a huge burden on his shoulders today.

Reed is going for his first major title and a lifetime exemption into the Masters.

Rory is gunning for something that can only be offered to him once a year. He needs a win at Augusta National to complete the career grand slam. If he fails today, there's nothing he can do about it until this time next April.

There's pressure on both of them. Lots of it. But you certainly wouldn't have known that by watching the two of them play on Saturday.

Reed drove the ball like a king or, more like it, "The King", hitting shots with various types of follow-throughs that looked eerily like the great Arnold Palmer. He's been working on hitting a fade to compliment the nuances of Augusta National, and every time he did it on Saturday, he finished with his hands in a weird, twisted look just above his left ear. It was Arnie circa 1965.

He hit a glorious shot into the 13th green that led to an eagle three, then chipped in from just short of the right bunker at 15 for another eagle. The two approach shots on those holes give you some indication of Reed's grit.

At 13th, on a slightly downhill lie, he had to navigate 210 yards of carry and somehow do that while keeping the ball on the putting surface. Anything short wound up in the stream that borders the front of the green, anything long was in danger of being a lost ball.

Reed smashed a 5-iron to 15-feet and then made the putt. Ho-hum...

But the shot of the day came at #15. He stood in the right rough (in fairness, it's not really "rough", but it was off the fairway) at 13-under par and owned a 3-shot lead on McIlroy at the time. He faced a 268 yard shot to the hole, needing roughly 258 to carry the pond in front. And, as we saw with Sergio Garcia on Thursday, anything that doesn't carry completely onto the green has the danger of spinning back into the water.

In other words, when his caddie says, "You have to carry this 265 yards", that doesn't mean 262. It means "265 or we're in the water".

I was sitting with some members at Eagle's Nest watching the final few holes and said to someone as he prepared to hit the shot, "I don't know why he's going for the green here..."

Moments later when he chipped in for eagle, I said, "That's why he's playing in the Masters and I'm sitting in Baltimore watching him...a 268 yard shot over water on Masters Saturday doesn't spook him in the least."

Patrick Reed is a gamer. He might not be the most popular guy on TOUR and his reputation is still sketchy from some issues in college seven years ago, but the guy can flat-out play.

"I'm Patrick Reed and I can kick your ass at golf any time, any where," he famously once told two playing competitors on the first tee at a junior tournament when he was 12 years old.

Not much has changed since then, both in his attitude and his play.

He took down McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup, remember, and was one of the few Americans to play well at the 2014 event at Gleneagles, teaming up with Jordan Spieth for 2.5 points in their three matches together and then beating Henrik Stenson in the singles competition.

Reed enjoys winning, but he really enjoys beating people at golf.

He'll get another chance at doing that today against McIlroy.

What Reed does with fortitude and grit, McIlroy does with power and style. He'll be 20-30 yards ahead of Reed off the tee all day today. And while Reed isn't chopped liver with his iron play, McIlroy can take apart any golf course with his shots into the greens.

It's odd to say the guy who trails by three shots is the favorite, but that's true. As far as I see it, anyway.

Reed is due for a stumble of sorts. No player in the history of Augusta National has ever completed four rounds with four consecutive scores in the 60's. There's a reason for that. At some point, the Augusta law of averages catches up to every player.

I hope I'm wrong about this. I'll be rooting hard for Reed to win today.

But this looks like McIlroy's tournament given his climb up the leaderboard yesterday. There's still 18 more holes to navigate, though, and as Rory saw back in 2011, it can all fall apart in an instant.

One thing for sure, though. Golf wins again today. And so, too, does the Masters.

No matter who slips on the green jacket around 7 pm tonight, this final 18 holes will be one for the ages.

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how much longer do the birds go with tillman?

That's two starts for Chris Tillman in 2018.

And he's now 0-2 with an ERA of 8.68.

I realize it's early days still, but how many more crappy starts can the Orioles tolerate from Tillman before they do something?

He got blistered by the Yankees yesterday in New York, giving up five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work. Even more troubling, Tillman walked four, struck out three, and couldn't get his fastball above 92 mph with any consistency.

Too early to start worrying?

I don't think so.

Two starts into the 2018 season and the Orioles are already faced with a potential Chris Tillman dilemma.

I was worried before the season started, actually. His first two starts have only served to make me worry even more.

The only issue moving forward is the most obvious one: If not Tillman, then who?

Alex Cobb will join the team shortly, but conventional wisdom says the guy who will lose his rotation spot is Mike Wright, not Tillman. But if Tillman continues to get battered, Wright might have to stick around as the #5 starter. And that's not great, either.

Would the Orioles give Hunter Harvey a shot? If they bring him up now, his major league "service years" would start, so they might be forced to wait this one out. But Harvey's work in spring training was solid enough to at least consider him for a call-up if Tillman continues to struggle.

Tillman doesn't have any minor league options, so the Birds would either have to move him to the bullpen or create a trip to the disabled list via something akin to the Colby Rasmus "hip flexor strain", which they assigned to Rasmus on Saturday in the wake of his awful start at the plate and the 14 inning game in New York on Friday night.

Jimmy Yacobonis got the call up on Saturday and was immediately tagged with three earned runs in one inning of work in the 8-3 loss to the Yankees.

Tillman hasn't been right for a year now.

Last spring it was a shoulder injury that bothered him at the start of the season. He never rounded into form in 2017 and had to beg for a one-year deal in the off-season just to have a place to pitch in 2018.

How much longer can the Orioles go with him?

You won't win many games with an ERA in the 8's.

And right now, that's about the kind of pitcher Tillman the stats show.

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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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April 7
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issue 7
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wild weekend in store at augusta national

There was a moment on Thursday evening just before 7 pm when Jordan Spieth stood on the 18th tee at Augusta National with a three-shot lead and a birdie away from posting an opening round 65.

Three holes later -- that 18th and the opening two yesterday morning -- Spieth was just another guy fighting for a spot on the Masters leaderboard.

Things can change very quickly at Augusta National.

Just ask Sergio Garcia, who was cruising along nicely on Thursday before dumping five balls in the water at the 15th hole and ending his hopes for a repeat victory by carding a 13 on the par-5 hole.

Phil Mickelson knows Augusta National better than 95% of the men who teed it up on Thursday morning, yet there he was on Friday, looking better suited for the first flight at the club championship this summer. An unthinkable 7-over par 79 left Mickelson too far back to consider anything except how much to tip the clubhouse guys on Sunday when he leaves the property.

Tiger Woods was fortunate to make the cut after pulling off a second consecutive back nine Houdini act and ending his two day effort at 4-over par. Tiger told the media afterwards he would need a "special weekend" to come back from what is a 13-shot deficit. I guess that's right. 63-63 would be awfully special over the last 36 holes. And even that might not be enough to get Woods into the winner's circle.

Yes, the old lady did some serious teeth bearing on Friday and the picture wasn't pretty.

A six under round of 66 on Friday has Patrick Reed in the lead at the Masters through 36 holes.

Unless you're Patrick Reed or Marc Leishman, that is.

Reed is the 36-hole leader at 9-under par. Leishman follows at 7-under.

There are lots of guys in the hunt, though. Big names, too.

The leaderboard -- even without Mickelson, Woods and Garcia -- is awfully sexy.

Stenson (-5), Spieth (-4), McIlroy (-4), Dustin Johnson (-3), Thomas (-3), Bubba Watson (-2), Fowler (-2) and Rose (-2)...that's quite an impressive group hovering around the top of the big scoreboard that's positioned just to the right of the first fairway.

It seems sensible to think one or two of those players will push themselves above the rest of the pack and chase Reed down by Sunday afternoon, but don't be too quick to dismiss Reed's chances.

He's an excellent front runner.

Of his five PGA Tour wins to date, two of them came in "wire to wire" fashion, where he carved out a first round lead and never gave it up. And as we saw a couple of years ago at the Ryder Cup in Minnesota, he can make things uncomfortable for the guy(s) he's playing with.

Reed definitely fits the mold of "when he's hot, he's hot". His putter isn't among the most cooperative on TOUR, but when he finds a few days where it does behave well, Reed's a tough guy to beat.

His past is quite checkered. And a win at Augusta National would be very interesting given some past experiences in the state of Georgia.

Reed originally started his college golf career at the University of Georgia, but that didn't last long. Whispers of cheating in practice and an incident where teammates believe he stole money and jewelry out of the team's locker room marked the beginning of the end for him in Athens. An arrest for an alcohol violation on campus was the final straw. Reed left Georgia -- one of the country's top college golf programs -- after just one year.

He didn't venture far, though. Reed eventually wound up at Augusta State, a school with only one Division I sport (golf). Trouble followed him there, too, but he also began to show signs that his golf game could travel.

His Augusta State teammates also accused him of cheating, citing two separate circumstances in which they believed Reed turned in an incorrect score during qualifying practice rounds, but Reed maintained his innocence and eventually became a dominant college player, helping Augusta State win a pair of national championships, an almost unheard of feat for a school its size.

And Reed was the man who got it done when the spotlight was brightest, going 6-0 in match play over their two championship runs and knocking off Georgia hotshot and current PGA Tour player Harris English two times in the NCAA playoffs.

He's a great player, is Reed.

And while he wouldn't be the first player with a controversial moment or two to win the Masters, it would certainly be a "full circle" moment on Sunday night if he's the guy slipping on the green jacket just after 7 pm.

But there's two days of golf ahead, some nasty weather on the horizon for Saturday, and more pressure than he's ever felt in his life come Sunday afternoon when he checks in at Amen Corner and tries to navigate his way through three of the toughest holes on any course, anywhere.

If he stumbles, there are plenty of guys lurking just behind who will happily move in and take his spot.

Don't worry, the Masters will deliver great theater this weekend.

It always does.

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day two masters report cards

Patrick Reed (1st, -9) -- Grade: A

He birdied half the holes at Augusta National on Friday (and made three bogeys) for a second round 66 and the 36-hole lead. Nine birdies on any golf course anywhere is good. Nine birdies at Augusta National is remarkable.

Rory McIlroy (T4, -4) -- Grade: B

Well in the tournament at 4-under par, but his failure to birdie two of the four par 5's on Friday hurt him, as he only posted a 1-under round of 71. Needs to win at Augusta to complete the career grand slam. Can he do it? Needs to putt better over the weekend, that's for sure.

Opening his second round with a double bogey at the first hole wasn't the way Jordan Spieth expected to start his Friday at Augusta National.

Jordan Spieth (T4, -4) -- Grade: C-

Didn't shoot himself out of the tournament by starting Friday's round double bogey-bogey at the first and second holes, but he was in position to be a front runner with a good Friday round and suddenly he's in the pack of guys chasing Reed. Finished with 74 on Friday -- not an awful score by any means, but another over par round over the weekend and his chances for a second green jacket will disappear.

Justin Thomas (T6, -3) -- Grade: A

A 5-under par round of 67 on Friday moved him into contention, but don't let the great round two score fool you; he needed a pair of chip-ins to fashion that 67. Still not hitting his irons great, but a solid short game and cooperative putter have moved him into prime position heading into the weekend.

Matt Kuchar (T14, -1) -- Grade: C-

Was tied for the lead throughout the front nine on Friday (at -4) but slid back with sloppy back nine play and eventually carded a 3-over round of 75, which has him eight shots behind Reed heading into weekend play. Still seeking that elusive first major title. Barring a remarkable weekend rebound, he won't find it at the 2018 Masters.

Tiger Woods (T40, +4) -- Grade: C-

Finally birdied a par 5 on Friday, making "4" at holes 13 and 15, but his inability to shoot red numbers on the par 5's has hurt him. Tiger's iron play -- which has been solid for the last month -- faltered on Friday, where he dumped a ball into the water (again) at #12 and hit a lousy shot at the 16th hole that left him with a tough two putt (which he failed to do).

Phil Mickelson (T46, +5) -- Grade: D

Was 1-under par to start Friday's round, then got it to 2-under with a birdie at #2. And then, it all fell apart. He made a triple bogey at the 9th hole, a double at the 12th, and then limped in with bogeys at 16 and 18 to make the cut on the number. So much promise and hope...gone.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from last night's o's 7-3 win in new york

1. One night after getting three hits in the lead off spot, Trey Mancini went 0-for-5 last night. Not good.

2. Manny Machado had a big night, going 4-for-5 with two home runs. Is there anyone else out there (besides me) who doesn't like seeing Manny play well in New York? You know why, right?

3. The Orioles bullpen worked nine innings last night and allowed a grand total of just two hits.

4. The play in the bottom of the 11th where Caleb Joseph turned a wild pitch into a game-saving throw and tag out by Miguel Castro was spectacular.

5. Aaron Judge made a great catch in the 13th inning on a Joseph home run that wasn't. I know it's like saying "I like that kid from Duke" but I find myself appreciating Judge the more I see him.

6. Two more strikeouts for Colby Rasmus (in three at bats) including a whiff in the 9th inning with the lead run at third base. It's almost time to send Rasmus packing.

7. The O's are suddenly two wins away from .500 at 3-5. I told you not to worry.

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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!

college lax weekend preview

Games of the Weekend

There are plenty of good lacrosse games this weekend. Tough to pick just one of these key battles for conference leadership to cover. So let's look at both of them.

#11 Loyola @ 17 Lehigh (Saturday 1pm, CBS Sports Network)

Winner of this matchup of Patriot League leaders should be on solid footing to host the conference tournament championship. Let's take a look at what each team does well and what parts of their games leave them vulnerable.

Offensive Firepower: Lehigh's man-up is scoring at an astonishing 63.3%, tops in the NCAA. Loyola scores 12.7 goals per game and are lead by Pat Spencer who's averaging almost 3 goals and 3 assists per game. Good for 9th in the NCAA.

Defensive Prowess: The Greyhounds are holding teams to 8.6 goals while the Mountain Hawks hold teams to just 8.1 goals per game. The Greyhounds are also causing 10.7 turnovers per game, 2nd in the NCAA. Lehigh is holding teams to just 27.2 shots per game.

Almost All Things Being Equal: Lehigh's last two losses were both at home to good teams (Navy and Rutgers) while the Greyhounds have won their last 3 road games. Loyola's face-off unit has been dreadful at 38.4% while the Mountain Hawks are winning 61.2% of their draws.

Outcome: These Patriot league games are always tricky to call because the leaders are very evenly matched. Lehigh has had a great season, but doesn't have that signature win. And their recent home loss trend against good teams doesn't bode very well for them. The Greyhounds do have those good wins. But I think the Mountain Hawks put that face-off advantage to use in this game and capitalize just enough to take down Loyola 10-9.

#2 Maryland @ 15 Penn State (Sunday 7pm, B1G Network)

No rest for the weary as the Terps continue to take on any and all comers. This week they face an upstart Penn State team who started off conference play with a bang by demolishing a decent Ohio State team 12-5. Let's take a deeper look at the matchup of these B1G leaders.

What Makes for a Good Matchup: Both teams are in the top 10 in scoring offense with Penn State averaging 13.3 goals per game and Maryland scoring 12.3 goals per game. Both also play very good defense with the Terps allowing just 8.3 goals per game while the Nittany Lions allow 8.8 goals per game.

What Are The Differences: Penn State's Gerard Arceri is winning 70% of his faceoffs while Maryland's Justin Shockey is around 57.5%. Advantage: Nittany Lions. Maryland has played one of the toughest schedules this year with most of the opponents ranked in the top 20 at some point. Penn State's strength of schedule doesn't come close and the 2 opponents that faced that are still in the top 20 beat them. Advantage: Terps.

Outcome: Certainly a pretty evenly matched contest and the State College locals should be out in force on Sunday evening for what should be an exciting game. The Nittany Lions are trending up and are a tough opponent for anyone on their turf. But the Terps are rounding into form getting scoring from all over the field, just like Coach Tillman's team from last year (aka "The Champs"). The Terps are really just a blown 4th quarter lead away from being the top team in the land and are the most complete team. Given this, I see Maryland getting by Penn State 12-10.

April 6
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joe flacco isn't losing sleep over r.g. iii

I talked about this on The Juice yesterday, but I'm still reading some goofy stuff on the internet about the Ravens' recent signing of Robert Griffin III earlier this week.

"This is good," someone wrote on Twitter. "Maybe Flacco will work hard this off-season now that he knows there's another guy on the team who can play quarterback."


"I hope Harbaugh at least gives R.G. III a fair shot in training camp," was another curious line I saw on Twitter.

A fair shot at what? Being the team's back-up quarterback? He'll get that shot in training camp.

"He can do some things Flacco can't," someone else posted on Facebook.

Like what, play the guitar? Juggle four footballs at once?

C'mon people.

Joe Flacco probably doesn't have his "worry face" working after hearing the news about the signing of Robert Griffin III.

Joe Flacco is in no way in danger of losing his job to Robert Griffin III. Ain't happenin'.

I don't mind the R.G. III signing. I mean, I was kind of surprised when I saw the news on Twitter. I sort of thought Griffin had already retired and was planning for a career in broadcasting.

But the Ravens need a back-up of some kind and Griffin seems as logical of a choice as anyone else I can think of that is willing to sign a one-year deal for minimal money.

Let's make this clear, though. Griffin is not in Baltimore to serve as any sort of competition for Flacco and the #1 quarterback spot on the Ravens.

I guarantee you Joe has slept just fine the last couple of nights.

He's the starting quarterback for the Ravens in 2018. Plain and simple.

I also saw a number of folks throw out the "why not Kaepernick?" question.

I LOL'd at that.

Why not Kaepernick? Really? If you were cleaning out your shed this spring and noticed a huge hornet's nest up in the corner, would you stick a rake or a broom up there and stir up those nasty little buggers?

Of course not. Why? Because you don't want to get stung, that's why.

And that's precisely why the Ravens are smart not to sign Kaepernick -- or even think about it.

The only thing you'll get by signing him at this point is grief. Is he better than R.G. III? My guess is "yes". But the Ravens are looking for a back-up, which means you're mainly looking for a guy who shows up, works hard and blends in with the other benchwarmers on the team.

Colin Kaepernick wouldn't blend in. Not in the least.

R.G. III will play the back-up role perfectly. He knows playing time will be minimal. If Flacco doesn't get hurt, there's a good chance Griffin never takes a snap from center in 2018.

Your back-up has to be cool with the idea that he could spend the entire season with his hat on backwards and a clipboard in his hand.

Griffin gets it.

I'm not sure Kaepernick does. And based on his recent history as a guy who likes to stir the pot, I'm not sure you want him playing second fiddle to anyone.

Griffin will be the back-up and be OK with it.

And that's why the signing makes sense.

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day one masters report cards

The Jordan Spieth the golf world fell in love with back in 2015 showed up yesterday at Augusta National, posting a first round 66 to take a two shot lead at the Masters.

It was a day where scoring was there to be had, and lots of the pre-event favorites stepped up and posted solid rounds. Some other expected contenders, though, weren't able to take advantage of the conditions.

Here's a look at ten key players and how they graded out in round one.

Jordan Spieth (1st, 66) -- Grade: A

Even a bogey at 18 couldn't dampen the day Spieth had on Thursday. His back nine iron play was sublime and the putter was accommodating. If he puts up another round of 66 or so on Friday, watch out.

Matt Kuchar (T2, 68) -- Grade: B+

Made birdie on the last three par 5's, a must-do for Kuchar, who doesn't hit the ball far enough off the tee to scare any of the big boysl. Started the day at +2, through 7, then shot 31 on the incoming nine to post 4-under par.

Five straight birdies on the back nine on Thursday boosted Jordan Spieth to the opening round lead at Augusta National with a 6-under par 66.

Rickie Fowler (T11, 70) -- Grade: B

Played his final four holes in three under par to put himself in position to contend. His second shot into 15 from 230 yards out was one of the best of the day from anyone in the field.

Phil Mickelson (T11, 70) -- Grade: B-

Was fortunate to post a 2-under round. Only made 3 pars on the front nine, then rattled off three late birdies to go from over par to under par.

Justin Rose (T21, 72) -- Grade: C+

Battled back gamely after making two bogeys in the first seven holes. Rolled in a nice 15-footer for birdie at the last hole to post an even-par round.

Tiger Woods (T29, 73) -- Grade: C+

Was on his way to 76 or worse after dumping his tee ball in the water at #12, but make a lengthy bogey putt there and then gutted out a couple of late birdies at 14 and 16 to keep himself in the golf tournament with an opening round 1-over-par. His driver was again suspect, though, and a failure to birdie any of the par 5's was the biggest blemish on his scorecard.

Bubba Watson (T29, 73) -- Grade: C

Only made birdie at one par five (15) and was unsteady all day with the putter. Didn't look all that interested.

Dustin Johnson (T29, 73) -- Grade: C

Had an up-and-down round, with a bogey at the par 5 second hole and pars on the other three par 5 holes. Missed a short'ish birdie putt at 16 and then ended the afternoon with a sloppy bogey at #18.

Justin Thomas (T42, 74) -- Grade: C-

Was cruising along nicely until he bogeyed the two easiest holes on the back nine in the opening round (13 and 16).

Jason Day (T55, 75) -- Grade C-

Got off to a terrible start with four bogeys in the first seven holes, then hung on to produce a barely-acceptable round of three over par with a late birdie at the 16th hole.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from last night's o's 5-2 win in new york

1. Three hits for Trey Mancini in the lead off spot last night. That's enough evidence for me to give him the role. You too?

2. I'm not panicking but Manny Machado has one extra base hit in seven games this season.

3. I liked Andrew Cashner's stuff last night but the walks (3 free passes in six innings) have to be controlled in the future. Teams like the Yankees (when they're hitting) will do some damage if you put them on base.

4. Was it me or could Giancarlo Stanton have caught Adam Jones' home run ball in the 7th inning? It sure looked to me like it hit the top of his glove.

5. I know the Yankees offense is solid but I'm not all that sure their bullpen is dependable.

6. Why did Brett Gardner tell Aaron Boone to challenge the supposed hit-by-pitch in the 8th inning? There was no way at all he was hit with that pitch. And the replay easily showed that. Why did Boone challenge it as well?

7. I love how most of the players had some kind of winter hat on underneath their baseball hat last night on a 40-degree night in NY and Darren O'Day went out there in short sleeves and said "I'm a bad ass".

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April 4
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no reason to panic, but tough decisions loom for buck, duquette

OK, so a 1-5 start to the baseball season isn't the end of the world. There are 162 games. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

But if the Orioles go to New York and somehow lose all four in the Bronx, a 1-9 start to the campaign will put the team squarely behind the eight ball. I don't anticipate that -- they'll win a game or two up there, I'd bet -- but if they somehow come home next week at 1-9, they're in trouble.

Win or lose in the Big Apple, though, the Orioles have some tough decisions on the horizon.

I guess we all knew this, but there's little chance Danny Valencia is going to stick for the whole season.

Colby Rasmus might not make the end of April with the big league club. He has fewer hits than Blue Oyster Cult.

Pedro Alvarez hits left handed, which is probably his only true virtue.

Anthony Santander had some explosive moments in spring training, but that's like the back-up quarterback throwing for two fourth quarter TD's in the first pre-season game. None of it counts.

If Chris Davis was reliable at the plate, the likes of Danny Valencia or Pedro Alvarez might not be on the O's 25-man roster.

And we know why Craig Gentry is on the team...because Ryan Flaherty isn't. Gentry is precisely the kind of guy Buck loves; a hard worker who is decent defensively and can fill in when called upon, but has little or no chance of making an impact as any kind of "full time" player.

Let's call it like it is.

The Yankees or Red Sox would never have those five guys on their 25-man roster at the same time. Sure, Mark Trumbo's current D.L. stint is the reason at least one of those guys is playing in Baltimore at the start of the season. But only teams like the Padres, Royals, Marlins and A's would carry four career journeymen and a Rule 5 player on their roster unless a massive injury wave forced them to do so.

And we haven't even looked at the miserable start for guys like Trey Mancini, Caleb Joseph and the aforementioned Santander. Joseph is actually the leading hitter of the trio at .167. Heck, if not for his opening day triple, the O's would be 0-6 instead of 1-5.

Mancini won't hit .150 all year. We know that. But what if he suffers through the typical "sophomore slump" that so many second year players seem to go through? What if he hits .245 this season?

That would put even more pressure on the likes of Chris Davis, who started Wednesday's series finale in Houston on the bench after a four strikeout night on Tuesday. Davis did come in to pinch hit on Wednesday and -- "hold my beer", Chris told the guys in the dugout -- promptly struck out on four pitches.

But the two guys who have the most heat on them are the manager and the general manager. How do Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette put lipstick on this pig if the results keep working against the Orioles over the next two weeks?

They have 25 guys on the roster, with five of them basically expendable: Valencia, Alvarez, Gentry, Rasmus and Santander. Santander has to stay with the big league club for another five weeks because of his Rule 5 status...the rest can take a hike tomorrow and the O's won't be any worse.

There is an issue, though. Who takes their place? Sure, Mark Trumbo will replace one of them when he's healthy and Austin Hays could be promoted from the minors. And there's always Joey Rickard who can come up and wear the uniform in a pinch. But the latter two aren't going to turn things around. Hays has potential but he's young. Rickard is a half-a-notch better than Gentry, essentially.

And we haven't even talked about the pitching yet.

This 25-man roster is a walking time bomb. And in some ways, it's not really the fault of the players. I mean, the Orioles had five months this past winter to find someone other than Pedro Alvarez and Colby Rasmus. They couldn't. Or didn't. Either way, those two guys will be hard pressed to have major league jobs by July 4.

You can excuse veterans like Machado, Jones, Schoop and Beckham if they get off to slow starts. Machado wallowed through a miserable first three months last season but then turned it on in the second half to compile more-than-reasonable season-long numbers. The veterans will turn it around. Well, except for Davis, most likely.

But when your roster of 25 has five or six guys who clearly can't help your major league team over any kind of extended period, you're in a big bind.

The Orioles' 1-5 start isn't reason to panic.

But if you're fretting over how mediocre their roster is, you're not out of line.

And let's be honest: Calling the Orioles 25-man roster "mediocre" might be a generously kind term.

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there's no doubt: i want tiger to win

I'm picking Justin Thomas to win the Masters, which starts today at Augusta National Golf Club.

But I'd sure like to see someone else win the golf tournament.

I'm rooting for Tiger Woods.

Can Tiger Woods win the Masters for the first time since 2005 this week?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Me and another 20 million people are hoping he wins. I get it. Some folks probably think it's "boring" to cheer for Woods at this point. He's won 14 majors, after all.

But it hasn't been boring in the least to watch Tiger play over the last four months.

In fact, his return to the PGA Tour and inspiring play in 2018 has shoved golf back into the sports media limelight in a way we haven't seen over the last few years.

That's probably Tiger's biggest accomplishment over the last two decades. Sure, he has 79 career wins and the next closest active player hasn't (and won't) reached 50 victories. But more than the wins, Tiger's ability to put golf on the map is more impressive than his trips to the winner's circle. That's my opinion, anyway.

He's a needle-mover like no one else in golf. Still.

Even at age 42, with no wins in four years, and no major titles since 2008. It's still Tiger on top and the rest of the golfing world lagging far behind. Remember Secretariat's 31-length romp in the Belmont? That's how far ahead of the rest of the sport Tiger is in terms of creating a buzz.

In a way, I want him to win because he deserves this. He's been down and out -- all, or nearly all of it, of his own doing, yes -- and has somehow rebounded to make himself relevant again.

He's not Tiger Woods circa 2002 anymore.

But Tiger Woods 2018 is more than good enough to win again.

I'd love to see him do it this week at Augusta National.

a painful hole-in-one for tony finau

So, golfers aren't tough, huh?

Don't tell that to Tony Finau.

Finau made a hole-in-one in Wednesday's par-3 contest and ran around the tee box like a goof, celebrating and acting the fool.

And then he rolled his ankle.

As you'll see below, he didn't just "roll" it. He blew it out. Dislocated it. And then, amazingly, just sort of "snapped it back into place".


He'd go to the hospital later on Wednesday for x-rays (negative) and will have an MRI Thursday morning to make sure there's no structural damage, but Finau is apparently going to try and play in today's first round. He doesn't tee off until 12:42 pm.

I can't believe he's playing.

That was a nasty, nasty injury.

But at least we know Finau's a tough guy. No one can argue that, for sure.

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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.

18 Thoughts from a Trip to The Masters, at 72 Words Each


I picked Phil Mickelson the other day, but he wasn’t on the property on Monday. My choice of the guys that were there? Gotta be Paul Casey. I watched him hit about 20 consecutive 3-woods on the practice range and every one of them had the same trajectory and two-yard cut. I’d bet they all landed within four yards of each other. If he doesn’t shoot 68 on Thursday I’ll be surprised.


You can read about the new golf shop at Augusta National anywhere on the internet (just Google "new Augusta golf shop"). The line about department stores wishing they had that kind of retail space says more than I ever could. Getting into the store is almost as cool as the store itself. The queue, and the maze created by the tournament staff, look a lot like Disney World, but no line at Disney ever moved as fast as this one did.


I didn’t realize until I got there that there’s basically a “plaza” for patrons at Augusta. There’s the practice area, and there’s the course, and the plaza is in between. It’s the (crowded) place where you eat, drink, socialize or take a break from one or both of those areas. Bonus points for being in the shade on a warm day. Like everything else at the Masters, I suppose that’s on purpose.

#DMD's David Rosenfeld was impressed with the ball striking of Paul Casey when he visited Augusta National earlier this week.


Before leaving, I watched Billy Horschel and Patton Kizzire play a pitching/chipping game in the practice area. Their instructor, Todd Anderson, picked a spot around the green and a flag nine times and the two players tried to get it close. I believe Horschel “won” 5-4, though I couldn’t tell if a few bucks were involved. Of note: both put more air under the ball than they tell us amateurs to do.


The 16th hole has seen plenty of drama, including the “in your life” chip-in by Tiger Woods in 2005, but to me it’s the worst hole on the second nine. It’s a short par-3 with a pond in front of it. There’s not a lot to it, except for hitting the ball in the correct spot on the right side of the green on Sunday so it feeds down to the hole.


Holes that are more uphill than they look on TV? The first hole, where that right bunker is basically in the face of a hill, and maybe the par-5 eighth. A couple shots weren’t actually as uphill as I thought: the short pitch to the third green and the second shot to the 10th green. No matter what hole, it helps to find the part of the fairway with the flattest lie.


The fairways at Augusta are incredibly wide. I stood near the tee box at all 14 non-par 3s and the only one that struck fear into me was the 18th hole, and only because of the chute of trees the tee shot must avoid. Once it does, though, the fairway is as wide as any other hole on the course. Now, as for the second shots (and third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh…).


I ate one, but I don’t truly understand the appeal of a pimento cheese sandwich on white bread. You can make that at home in a few minutes and use much better bread in the process. The barbecue sandwich, on the other hand, is an awful good deal at $3. Adults and children around the course were raving about the Georgia peach ice cream sandwich, but I never got to experience it.


I’ve read lots of articles and even books about Augusta National and The Masters, including some unflattering ones, and I’m sure all of them had plenty of truth inside. But if you start at the 10th tee and walk the next four holes, including a stop at the grandstands behind the 12th tee for a few minutes, it’s easy to understand why some people spend so much time genuflecting to the place.


The most popular place on the course Monday was anywhere around Tiger Woods when he played the first nine in the afternoon. The second-most popular place? The area right of the 10th fairway from where Bubba Watson played his ridiculous hooking wedge shot in 2012. I went by there three times, and each time there were several groups of people from all around the world looking for a plaque that isn’t there


Driving range/practice area observations/opinions: Instructor Sean Foley needs to wear looser shirts. For some reason the older guys I saw (Langer, Mize, O’Meara, Lyle) all hit from the far right side of the range. Some of these guys use so much training stuff on the practice green that it takes away from any natural stroke. Jon Rahm even gets angry on the range. Rory McIlroy stopped and talked to almost everyone there.


It’s interesting how the club describes the buildings near the 10th tee and fairway as “cabins.” They look like full-fledged houses to me. I guess if you live most of the time in a 12-bedroom mansion then it’s a cabin. There are so many buildings at Augusta National that it’s difficult to surmise what all of them are for besides the ones that are used one week a year for the tournament.


There’s a unique area at Augusta National that’s on the course but not really part of any hole. To the left of the 18th and the right of the eighth, heading up toward the ninth green, is basically an open field. Patrons can walk through without much worry that a ball will get anywhere near them. Obviously, this area on a practice day is a lot different than on a tournament day.


Augusta National recently purchased some land from the neighboring Augusta Country Club behind the National’s 13th tee. Rumor has it that the 13th might now be extended, even farther behind Rae’s Creek. I’m all for it. The way these guys hit the ball, including the ability to fade drives off the tree line into the right side of the fairway with little loss of distance, the hole isn’t really a par-5 anymore.


A story from another group on the trip: Augusta member and current USC athletic director Lynn Swann was chatting up Tiger Woods and Fred Couples on the ninth hole. Couples called over the third member of their group—24-year-old PGA and FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas—to say hello, and it was clear Thomas had never heard of Swann. In case you haven’t, Swann used to play for the Steelers, I’ve heard.


The attention paid to every minute detail at The Masters is mostly amazing; honestly, though, I could do without the overly enthusiastic bathroom attendants. The bathrooms themselves are fantastic, and I appreciate the insistence on as much cleanliness as you can get in a restroom. Sometimes, though, I think it’s better to be seen than heard. That’s obviously not the bathroom model at Augusta, however, and it seems to work for them.


Other player thoughts: I think Rickie Fowler hit a 5-iron over the back of the green at the 230-yard par-3 fourth. Couples laid up short of the bunkers on the third hole while Woods and Thomas bombed it near the green. Langer is 60 years old but could pass for 45. Shubhankar Sharma, the 21-year-old Indian that was leading the WGC Mexico event after three rounds, is an impressive player to watch.


It’s amazing how many patrons smoke cigars on the course at The Masters. There are sitting areas that are declared non-smoking, but I think the time has come to ban smoking on the course during the tournament. I don’t even think Angel Cabrera smokes anymore. Maybe there’s some element of tradition to it—Bobby Jones was a chain smoker—or maybe it’s just the South, but I think people would still show up.

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April 4
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are you doubting thomas? you shouldn't

The Masters is my favorite golf tournament of the year. I love the other three majors -- OK, maybe I don't actually "love" the PGA Championship -- but the Masters is the cream of the crop. By far.

There are probably 24 guys you could name as a potential winner of this year's event and I'd say, "I could see that happening."

And some of those names aren't necessarily of the household variety.

Francesco Molinari? He could win, sure. He won't...but he could.

Thomas Pieters? Absolutely. He could win.

Bernd Wiesberger? Sure.

There are a dozen others of a similar ilk that aren't among the tip-of-your-tongue favorites who could win.

But Augusta National is traditionally a place where the great players rise to the occasion and the Molinari's and Pieters' wind up being nice footnotes on the odd year they play well and contend for a while before the rock stars take over on Sunday.

Justin Thomas is #DMD's pick to win the first major of the PGA Tour 2018 season.

The great players will rise to the occasion this year.

And there are a lot of them to consider.

McIlroy, Spieth, Bubba. Any of those three could win.

D.J., Phil, Tiger, Rose, Garcia -- five premium players who appear poised to make a run.

But only one guy can win.

And this year, it's going to be Justin Thomas.

No player in the game has played as well as he has over the last 18 months.

Forget what the world rankings say. They'll tell you Dustin Johnson is the #1 player. But in no way has he played better golf than Justin Thomas since the fall of 2016.

With a power game to match nearly every player not named Bubba or D.J. and precise work with his irons and wedges, Thomas is quietly putting heat on his good buddy Jordan Spieth for the honor of being dubbed "the best young American player in the game".

He's ready to conquer Augusta National this week.

And if he does, he'll have both of the last two major championship trophies at his house. Thomas was the winner of last August's PGA Championship, you might remember.

What do I like most about him? He has heart. He's a battler. He can make a mistake or two and then rattle off three birdies in succession to hoist himself right back to the top of the leaderboard.

We've seen a lot of the young stars fire and fall back in major championships over the last five years. Spieth, D.J., Fowler...they've all had opportunities to win majors and failed, although Fowler's the only one among those three who doesn't own at least one in his career.

I don't see Justin Thomas as a guy who would take a 4-shot lead to the back nine of Augusta National on Sunday and fall apart. He has too much under the hood to let that happen.

My hunch is this Sunday around 7 pm, you'll see Thomas slipping on the green jacket in Butler Cabin.

And when that happens, you can stop doubting his greatness.

march madness results are coming!

Now that the nets have been cut down in San Antonio, #DMD can hand out the prizes in our March Madness contest.

It went right down to the wire for several of the prizes, although the winner of our game blew everyone away the same way Villanova wiped the floor with Michigan on Monday night.

Thanks again to everyone who played. We'll have the results published in a day or two. We're just double checking the results one final time and going through everyone's entry to make sure we have the correct scoring.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky traveled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

7 points from last night's o's 10-6 loss

1. End the lead off experiment: OK, Buck, please go ahead and pull the plug on the Chris Davis experiment. He's not a lead off hitter. We admire your attempt at getting him untracked. We're not mad at you. But we will be mad at you if you keep sending him out there to bat first when you're in New York this weekend. Enough is enough.

2. That was a decent start by Mike Wright last night but he'll have to do much better than that to hold down the #5 spot all season.

3. We're 1-4, not 1-14. I know these games count just like the games do in September but let's keep in mind we've only lost 4 of 5 to start the season. Lots of teams will go 1-4 over a 5-game stretch this season. Wait, every team in baseball will lose 4 of 5 sometime this season.

4. I love Jim Palmer as a TV analyst but making excuses for Chris Davis is getting old and we're one week into the season. Just call it like you see it "Cakes". The guy can't hit.

5. Here's my prediction about Chance Sisco. He'll be the team's every day catcher by the All-Star break. He's a better hitter than Caleb Joseph.

6. Adam Jones crushed that home run last night. That was a mammoth shot.

7. Houston has a really good team. I guess we all knew that but when you see them play, it reminds you how good they are.

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fantasy golf lineup for the masters

OK, so let's get back to making you some money in the fantasy golf world.

I had a nice run earlier in the season, then hit the skids for a couple of weeks. And now, I'm back, locked and loaded.

If you're playing DraftKings this week, you know the drill already: We have to fit six players inside of the $50,000 "salary cap". My thoughts on a major are different than any other week on the TOUR.

Charley Hoffman has contended previously at Augusta National, but is still seeking his first major title.

This is the week where you probably have to take three high-profile players and then roll the dice that you can find three "others" on the cheap who make the cut and give you a chance for a nice payday.

As always, the optimum way to make money in fantasy golf is to get at least five of six guys to make the 36-hole cut.

Let's pick our team of six, shall we?

Since I think Justin Thomas is going to win, we have to take him first. He'll cost us $10,800.

Paul Casey has a decent history at Augusta National and comes in to the event on solid form after a win last month at the Valspar. He costs $8,800, so we're up to $19,600 thus far.

My #2 player on my list of Top 12 players was Alex Noren, so there's no way I'm not putting him on my team. He's a great investment at $8,100.

That leaves us $23,300 for three players.

Charley Hoffman has sniffed around at Augusta National a couple of times. He's a solid player, week in and week out, and has dramatically improved his short game and putting over the last few years. At $7,100, he's a great buy. We still have $16,200 to spend.

The golf game of Ryan Moore is well suited for Augusta National. He hits it straight off the tee and his high ball flight is favorable as well. Whether his short game is tidy enough under the gun is an issue to be considered, but we need someone on the lower end of the "buy scale", so let's add him at $7,000.

We have $8,200 left to spend, so we'll get a high quality player with that amount of money.

I think Henrik Stenson is a great buy at $7,800. His putter is typically either scorching hot or freezing cold. If it's cold this week, Stenson is a bad buy at any price. But if it's hot, he could win. I'll side with "hot" and add him as our final player.

If you're playing multiple lineups like I am, try and get this players in as well: Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Kisner, Austin Cook, Chez Reavie and Tony Finau.

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April 3
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issue 3
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spring has definitely arrived in augusta

Mother Nature might still be trying to find her way here in Maryland and other parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

But she has found her footing in Augusta, Georgia, that's for certain.

Spring has arrived in the south.

Our group of 26 made the annual pilgrimage to the greatest golf course on the planet yesterday, as we took in the opening day of "Masters Week" at Augusta National golf Club. To say the weather was perfect would be doing it an injustice.

Yesterday was my 9th trip to the hallowed facility on Washington Road in Augusta and the seventh time I've taken a group down to witness a practice round. We're now 7-for-7 as far as weather goes...not once have we had a day cut short by inclement weather. I appreciate God's favor.

We left from BWI Airport at 5:09 am yesterday and made our way to Charlotte.

I remind everyone who makes the trip with us of this simple statement: "It's a long day. But it's a great day."

Our bus picked us up at the Charlotte airport right around 6:45 am and by 9:15 or so we were making our way into the golf course. We went from 44 and rain in Baltimore to 82, sunny and breezy in Augusta.

If the rest of our country would like to take a class on how to treat human beings, they should all spend a day at Augusta National.

Everyone greets you with a smile and a heartfelt message as you approach the gates: "Good morning. And welcome to the Masters!"

It's not said in a mundane way. It isn't muttered or whispered. It's said with a smile and intention.

And it never stops from the time you get in until the time you leave.

"Thank you for coming in to shop with us! Welcome to the Masters!"

"Are y'all having a great day with us?"

"Welcome to the Masters!," they say again at the food line, whether it's 10:30 am, 12:30 pm or 3:30 pm.

Heck, the guys in the men's room greet you as you walk in. They do, really. "Welcome to the best restroom at Augusta National," one young man said yesterday with a smile as weary patrons (can't call them "fans") slid in for a minute of relief and comfort.

It goes on and on all day. With sincerity. It's Chick fil-A on steroids, if that makes sense. And it's wonderful to see.

If you're the kind of person who puts stock in what a player does on the practice range (and to some degree, I think early week practice sessions and practice rounds do tell a story), here are a few observations I made yesterday. I was probably at the range for three hours or so over a few different occasions.

Every player in the field has an effective, solid golf swing, obviously, or they wouldn't be playing. But some of them are clearly struggling or working on something, a fact that's easy to discern when you see them next to someone who isn't struggling.

Among those who were not hitting the ball well yesterday on the range: Rickie Fowler (lots of work with his driver, which was going left more than he wanted), Adam Hadwin (he actually -- ahem -- hit a few balls that went dead right off the club...the word rhymes with "thanks"), Mike Weir (poor guy, he can't hit it anywhere anymore), Billy Horschel, Jon Rahm and Patton Kizzire. The latter three spent a lot of time hitting shots, talking to their instructor, hitting more shots, shaking their head as if to say "I don't understand why it's not going straight" and hitting even more balls in an effort to get their week off to a good start.

Who was impressive? In my three hours on the range, Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul Casey probably finished in a dead-heat for the best practice session. Olazabal doesn't have the 320-yard length of the young bucks these days, but his iron game is still supremely wonderful. He and Casey both put on a ball striking clinic while they hit balls next to one another. Casey was particularly impressive with his longer irons and woods.

Alex Noren was a ball striking machine. As you'll see further down in today's edition of #DMD, I'm extremely impressed with his golf game and seeing him hit balls and play in person yesterday confirmed what I already suspected. That kid is going to win major titles in his career. Plural.

Tiger Woods was most certainly the biggest attraction, as expected, at Monday's Masters practice round.

Ryan Moore looked to be in great form during his hour or so in front of me. His wedge practice session with impressive. At one point, he hit a dozen balls in a row within 6-8 feet of a flag that was on a green situated 80 yards in front of him.

And then there was the showstopper.

When Jordan Spieth strolled out to the range, twirling a club and stopping to shake hands with fellow TOUR players, there were a handful of claps and yells for his name among the 600 people who were seated in the makeshift stands behind the practice area.

Justin Thomas drew the same sort of reaction. Politely welcomed, but nothing special. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy walked onto the scene and you wouldn't have known either of those guys are among the most popular golfers on the planet.

But the show stopped when Tiger Woods walked out at 1:05 pm. People stood up and cheered. I'm sure Jack Nicklaus would get the same reaction today if he meandered out on the range with a few clubs in his hand. But Tiger got the one and only standing ovation that I've ever seen at an Augusta National practice session. It was wild.

Wood smiled, tipped his cap and walked to an area to the left of where I was sitting. Two interesting things happened as he walked past a line of players warming up. His former best pal and Orlando neighbor Mark O'Meara didn't make any effort to shake Tiger's hand as the 4-time Masters winner walked past him. Maybe O'Meara was knee-deep into some deep practice session thought, but he knew from the sounds alone that Woods had arrived. But the '98 champ didn't look up and nod or offer any sort of greeting.

Nor did Tiger greet O'Meara in any way.

And as Tiger walked down the line, he came up to former swing coach Sean Foley. There was a brief, perfunctory greeting and handshake, but Tiger's feet never stopped moving. He greeted Foley, clasped hands with him, and kept on moving. I expected two guys who worked closely together for the better part of four years to have more for one another than that.

The crowd at the range immediately doubled in size once word got out that Woods had arrived on the premises after a mid-morning flight from Florida to Augusta.

A small group of us followed Tiger, Fred Couples and Justin Thomas as they played a front nine practice round that started around 3:15 pm or so. The people were five deep all the way around.

If 55,000 patrons were on the property yesterday, I'd say 10,000 of them could be found on the holes those three guys played. It was a crazy scene.

And speaking of crazy scenes, there's a practice round tradition at Augusta National that asks players to try and "skip" balls across the pond in front of the 16th green. After a player has hit his "real" shots from the tee box, they'll stop in front of the pond and try and skip a ball across the water and onto the putting surface.

The caddie for Tommy Fleetwood gave it a go. Much to everyone's delight, he skipped a ball across the water, up onto the green, and watched it settle four feet above the hole.

And then, yes, he made the putt.

It was a memorable moment for him, I'm sure.

We stayed until they closed the place down at 6 pm.

Our tired but enthusiastic group arrived at the Charlotte airport just as the NCAA final tipped off. Everyone had a bite to eat and shared stories about their experience.

After a one-hour flight delay, we arrived back in Baltimore this morning at 1:00 am.

Nothing beats a trip to Augusta National.

It was, as I predicted, a great day.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

Every year the NFL competition committee sends a recommendation for rules changes to the league's owners, but rarely do the changes feel as big as a couple of new rules this year.

First, and gathering the most attention, the NFL is finally working on clearing up the actual definition of a catch. Without trying to explain the mechanics of it too minutely, the language about "going to the ground" has been reworked, and "two feet down plus a football move" is now the primary standard.

That means taking a third step, "lunging," etc. will now count as acts establishing a catch whether or not the player falls on the ground and the ball pops loose. The rule also includes language about players having the ability to do this, which will essentially give referees more discretion to declare that a player had control of the ball for a sufficient amount of time to be considered a catch, which is probably a good thing.

But another, less anticipated, rule is likely to have far more lasting and far-reaching consequences for the game and the league.

After years of working under the "defenseless receiver" standard for helmet to helmet contact, the owners have now unanimously agreed to ban any player from lowering his helmet to initiate contact. The league's statement on the matter indicates that the goal is to eliminate players using their helmet as a "weapon" and, by extension, to greatly reduce the amount of contact to the head in the game.

It's not entirely clear how the new rule will be enforced on the field by officials, but it is clear that it's a step in the right direction for the league.

First and foremost, it eliminates the arbitrary distinction over who qualifies as "defenseless" and who doesn't. In this sense, you might as well call it the Juju Smith-Schuster rule, as it seems to have been inspired by the Pittsburgh wide receiver's vicious, flagrant, but arguably legal hit on Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Secondly, it presumably erases carves outs for "legal" instances of leading with the helmet, such as tackling "established runners' instead of "defenseless receivers" or, conversely, running backs who put their heads down to initiate contact with tacklers.

I don't say this very often, but this is one area where the NFL really ought to follow the lead of the college game.

While the NFL has struggled in vain to reduce contact to the head incidents in their game, the NCAA managed to figure it out pretty quickly. Under the "targeting" rule, if a player is deemed to have initiated "forcible contact" with their head, or to the head of another player," not only does their team take a personal foul penalty, but the player is ejected. Done and done.

The rule has worked quite well, although the fact that college players don't have a union or collective bargaining rights probably makes a difference here.

The big thing, though, is that these plays are reviewable in college. They're not slip-shod refereee's decisions that are made in an instant and unreversible, but the product of deliberation that includes an automatic video review of the play to determine if the illegal contact with forcible or incidental.

It's not at all uncommon to see a tageting call waived off after further review, which no doubt increases buy in from players and fans. As I've long argued, this is what the NFL has long been missing. So much controversy over trying to eliminate blows to the head could have been avoided if the league had simply made those calls reviewable, allowing officials to take another look and see, for example, that a player who was flagged for an illegal hit to the head had actually merely put his shoulder pad into the opponent's chest and, as such, there was no penalty committed.

That the NFL has never had any interest in doing this has always demonstrated that they cared much more about maintaining a tight schedule for television partners, and that the rules were much more about PR gimmickry than an honest intention to make the game safer.

But that might be changing. No one was exactly clamoring for the rule the league just adopted, so perhaps this is an early example of a league that's forward thinking in how it's going to address safety issues going forward.

Specifically by doing so in a way that actually makes a difference, rather than giving the suits in New York fodder for their next press release. On the other hand, Roger Goodell has already promised that the change will substantially change the landscape of the game, which is usually code for giving him the pretense to act and look tough while actually being shown to be in completely over his head in practice, so I'm not optimistic.

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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!

weekend college lax review

Game of the Week: Hofstra beats Towson, 9-3

What started out as the expected defensive slugfest in the first half (2-1 Hofstra) didn't end that way as the Pride used a 7 goal 2nd half to take down the Tigers. Hofstra held Towson to just 23 shots all game.

The Tiger offense was assisted by an 11-5 faceoff advantage as expected. But the turnover bug came back again to bite the Tigers as they gave up the ball 16 times. Oddly, offensive leader Jon Mazza and defensive leader Sid Ewell did not play in this contest which seemed to have a big impact on the outcome.

Other Notable Games:

#2 Maryland 13 - #15 Michigan 5- Michigan is enjoying their best season in program history, but failed their biggest test so far against the Terps. The Wolverines kept it close and were only down 5-6 early in the 3rd before Maryland went on a 7-0 run to finish the game. The Terps were led by freshmen Bubba Fairman (3 goals) and Logan Wisnauskas (3 goals, 2 assists).

Charley Toomey and the Greyhounds bounced back from a Patriot League loss to Bucknell and beat Colgate on the road this past Saturday.

Navy 5 - Holy Cross 4 - The Midshipmen got almost more than they could handle against the Crusaders. Navy had a poor shooting day with just 33.3% shots on goal. But the Midshipmen got a big effort from Ryan Kerns who made 10 saves while only giving up 4 goals.

#11 Loyola 11 - Colgate 7 - The Greyhounds bounced back in a big way from their loss against Bucknell as they went up early on the Raiders and never looked back. Loyola enjoyed big games from Pat Spencer (2 goals, 4 assists), Jay Drapeau (4 goals) and defenseman Foster Huggins (5 ground balls, 6 caused turnovers).

#6 Johns Hopkins 13 - #9 Rutgers 12 - The comeback Blue Jays do it again winning in the final seconds against the Scarlet Knights. Hopkins was down 4-6 at half and 6-9 late in the 3rd quarter. But once again, the offense woke up and went on a 4 goal run to take a 10-9 lead early in the 4th to ensure a great finish. Hopkins built up a 12-10 lead but then Rutgers fought back tying it 12-12 with 3 minutes left. However, Shack Stanwick found Kyle Marr for the game winner with 13 seconds left. The Blue Jays offense was led by Shack Stanwick (1 goal, 4 assists), Cole Williams (2 goals, 4 assists) and Patrick Fraser (3 goals).

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12 days of the masters

The Masters technically started yesterday.

The Monday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club is the official start of "Masters week", with Sunday's winner, Ian Poulter, stealing the final available spot for the first major championship of the golfing season.

Over the last two weeks, I've been previewing the 2018 Masters by giving you my 12 "favorites" to win this year's event.

It started on Saturday, March 24, when I listed Bryson DeChambeau at #12. On Sunday, March 25, it was Matt Kuchar at #11. Sergio Garcia was my #10 on Monday, March 26. March 27, I listed Dustin Johnson at #9. March 29, it was hotshot/hothead Jon Rahm at #8. On March 30, it was Justin Rose at #7. On March 31, I had Phil Mickelson at #6. Tiger Woods was #5 on March 31. April 1 had Bubba Watson at #4. On Monday, April 2, Jordan Spieth came in at #3.

Now, we're down to the final two of my favorites.

When I try and predict a final Masters leaderboard, I look at two factors mostly. Former champions in the field and players with great track records at Augusta who haven't yet found the winner's circle.

Enjoying the best year of his PGA Tour career thus far in 2017-2018, Alex Noren is primed for a run at the Masters green jacket this week.

Number two is a player who has played the event just once in his career. But don't let that stop you from considering that Alex Noren has a great chance to win the Masters in 2018.

Noren might not become the most popular Swedish golfer ever -- he'd had to be something really special to strip that title from Annika Sorenstam -- but he might wind up fighting with Henrik Stenson for the honor of being that country's most accomplished professional male golfer ever.

The interesting part about Noren's career is how non-descript it's been for the better part of 13 years. He turned pro in 2005, has nine wins on the European Tour, but nothing of note on the PGA Tour.

That's changing soon, though.

He lost in a playoff to Jason Day at Torrey Pines, then reached the final four of the recent match play championship before losing to Kevin Kisner in a semi-final playoff.

Alex Noren is the real deal.

He's just a late bloomer, much like fellow countryman Stenson, who finally broke through and won his first major title a few years ago after 15 professional campaigns and lots of near-misses.

Alex Noren is a great bet this week, especially if you can get him at 40-1.

April 2
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so when exactly is it acceptable to bunt?

Let's be honest. Talking about the Twins and their bellyaching over a 9th inning bunt is far more interesting than breaking down how the Orioles got beat twice over the weekend in Baltimore.

Actually, it wouldn't take much to break down Sunday's 7-0 Minnesota win or their 6-2 victory over the Birds on Saturday night. The Baltimore bats were on silent in both games.

Frankly, the bats were on mute for all three games of the series. The Orioles are lucky to not be 0-3 to start the season.

But the excitement of a 2-1 start to their season was tempered after Sunday's win because the Twins were angry.

Baseball is a great sport. Very few people would argue that. But baseball players are some of the most comically soft and insensitive athletes on the planet.

Brian Dozier of the Twins was particularly upset with O's rookie catcher Chance Sisco on Sunday afternoon. The offense? Sisco had the audacity to bunt in a 7-0 game in the bottom of the 9th inning.

“Obviously, we’re not a fan of it," Dozier said of Sisco's bunt single, which at the time was just the second Orioles hit of the afternoon. "He’s a young kid. I could’ve said something at 2nd base but they have tremendous veteran leadership over there."

It's one thing if Twins' starter Jose Berrios had a no-hitter going through eight innings in a 7-0 game.

Everything matters.

If Berrios has a no-no in a 2-0 game, a bunt is part of the effort to get something going.

In a 7-0 game, with a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, I can see where a bunt might be considered inappropriate.

But the Orioles already had a hit in the game, ironically off the bat of Sisco, and even though there was a solid argument that Minnesota left fielder Eddie Rosario should have been charged with an error there, the fact remains that Berrios didn't have a no-hitter heading into the 9th inning.

So what's the problem with Sisco bunting in the 9th inning there?

Are the Orioles responsible for helping the Twins get to the airport earlier?

Is that what ticked off Dozier? That a bunt single there was merely extending a game that was already in the books?

Baseball players are goofy.

When you hit a home run, you're not allowed to admire it and watch the ball leave the stadium.

Don't flip the bat, either.

And by all means, run around the bases at a reasonable speed. Not too slow -- that means you're showing up the pitcher. But not too fast, either. That only means you're calling more attention to yourself.

Pitchers can get excited after a big strike out, but be careful about going overboard with emotion. Especially if you pitch in the National League and might have to come to the plate with lumber in your hand someday soon.

And now, we find out it's not really cool to bunt in the 9th inning when you're trailing, 7-0.

I love the part of Dozier's quote where he says, "...but they have tremendous leadership over there."

Is that some sort of hint to the likes of Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo that they should pull Sisco aside and give him a verbal undressing about bunting in that situation?

That's what I get from that statement.

"Hey, Chance, can I grab you for a minute before we get on the flight to Houston?" Adam Jones says.

"Sure. What's up?" Sisco replies.

Adam: "What were you doing in the 9th inning earlier today when you bunted with the score 7-0?"

Sisco: "Trying to get on base to get a rally going so we might be able to get back in the game.

And what, then, does Jones say next?

"Ummm, up here, in the show, we don't do that stuff, especially on get-away day. When it's 7-0, we mail in the final at bat."

Or -- "Way to go, kid. That's how you become a solid major leaguer. Play the game the right way. When they get the 27th out on us and they are ahead, the game ends at that point. Not a second before."

I hope it's the latter.

I'd hate to think that Dozier's right and Jones, Davis, et al now have a responsibility to chastise Sisco for simply trying to get on base and get a rally going.

Baseball's so whacky that it might actually be part of those insanely stupid "unwritten rules" that Dozier's not out of line. It might be viewed as bush league to bunt in the 9th inning of a 7-0 game.

I'll tell you what I think is bush league. 11 hits in 3 games for the Orioles offense. 5 runs in two games. Getting shut out at home on a Sunday afternoon. Gausman and Cashner stinking it up on Saturday and Sunday.

Those things are worth fretting over.

A rookie trying to get on base in a 7-0 game -- when the other pitcher has already allowed a hit -- isn't bush league.

I hope the Orioles saw Dozier's quote on social media and laughed about it. Or, maybe even let it rattle their cage some.

I don't know what they need to get going, but maybe it took a smarmy second baseman from Minnesota to shake up the O's and light a fire under them.

I sure hope so.

If not, we might be bunting a lot more in the 9th inning of 7-0 defeats.

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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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

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

Left-handed Edition


Charles “Lefty” Driesell

After years of nominations that went for naught, the 86-year-old former Maryland coach was finally announced as a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer on Saturday. He will be inducted in September along with 12 others, including Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

Lefty’s living contemporaries are no doubt saying that the induction was long overdue, as are his friends in the media, such as the Washington Post’s John Feinstein.

They’re certainly right; he won nearly 800 games, and was the first coach to win 100 games at four different schools in Division I. When he retired in 2003, Driesell ranked fourth in wins among Division I coaches.

People forgot about Lefty. He spent the last 15 years of his coaching career at James Madison and Georgia State, where he won a lot of games in relative obscurity. One of the more visible games in that stretch came with Georgia State against Maryland, in the second round of the 2001 NCAA tournament in, of all places, Boise. The Terps won the game going away.

There are some that will always associate Lefty with Len Bias; there’s no need to retell that story. But whatever his faults, Driesell was really just a scapegoat. The administration, and the world I guess, needed someone to blame.

Whatever the case, he belongs in the Hall along with Gary Williams, inducted four years ago.


A fourth green jacket

Phil Mickelson is two months shy of his 48th birthday. For a lot of great players, that would be a good time to take stock of a long career and figure out whether they’re interested in a future on the Champions Tour.

Can Phil Mickelson become the oldest Masters winner ever this week? #DMD's David Rosenfeld says he will.

For Phil, I’d say it’s a good time to win another green jacket. He’s my pick to win it this week, which would mark his first win at Augusta since 2010.

We always talk about The Masters as the tournament where an older player, even someone over 50, can still win. We’ve seen an older Fred Couples near the top of the leaderboard on the final day many times. Bernhard Langer played in the second-to-last group on Sunday two years ago at the age of 58.

Since the late 1990s, when Mark O’Meara and José María Olazábal won in their 40s, those runs by older players have been fun, but they haven’t led to victory.

Mickelson is the man to do it. Yes, he won in Mexico last month, shooting four rounds in the 60s and beating Justin Thomas in a playoff. And yes, he knows that a fourth Masters title would tie him with Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, trailing only the six won by Jack Nicklaus.

Phil has yet to win a U.S. Open, and maybe there’s a chance this year at Shinnecock. But history says his best chance comes to win comes this week, even though he might be able to compete for many years to come.


Early June, possibly? Hopefully?

There’s nothing wrong with having a closer by committee, at least not for the Orioles right now. Darren O’Day, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens are all perfectly capable of doing it, though each of them is probably better in some other role.

Zach Britton is a better option, for sure. What remains to be seen is where the Orioles are in the standings when Britton returns from his Achilles injury in early June, which is the latest update.

Brach has dominating stuff occasionally, but he’s also a little too emotional sometimes. Britton’s calmness is tangible. For whatever reason, as a fan, getting the first two runners on base against him isn’t as big of a deal as it is for any other pitcher.

I suppose that comes back again to the sinker, a double play waiting to happen, but there’s something nice about watching a guy who doesn’t seem too upset at whatever just happened.

If I had to choose one right now, I’d go with Givens as the closer. In general, his command has caught up with his stuff. What will be most interesting to see is how often the Orioles need a great closer in the first few weeks of the season.



The Orioles did a nice job in the spring with the acquisitions of Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb. Along with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, they’ll help give the team the kind of representative starting staff the club didn’t have last year.

Still, it’s kind of hard to get all that excited about the Orioles’ staff after the performances of Boston’s two stud lefthanders in the first two games of the 2018 season.

On Opening Day, Chris Sale gave up one hit in six innings in Tampa Bay; nine of the 18 outs he recorded came by strikeout. The next day, David Price was stellar against the Rays, throwing just 77 pitches in seven innings while allowing just four hits and no walks. Neither pitcher allowed a run.

Of course, this is modern day baseball, and it’s early in the season. Sale threw 92 pitches in those six innings. By the time the bullpen coughed up a 4-0 lead in the eighth, he was long gone. Price was more fortunate, as the bullpen held on to a 1-0 lead after he left. They were both great, but their team was only 1-1.

The Orioles don’t have a lefty starter, of course. With Richard Bleier and Nestor Cortes unlikely to be starting choices, it remains to be seen when an Orioles’ lefty starts a game in 2018.


Colby Rasmus

Left-handed hitting outfielder Colby Rasmus had an interesting 2017. He was performing well above his projected numbers for the Rays, with whom he’d signed as a free agent in the offseason. Then, he hit the disabled list with a hip injury.

And then he was gone.

He recently told the Sun’s Jon Meoli that “he needed some time to run my dogs and mess with my cows and live a bit of a normal life.”

Look, I can appreciate that sentiment, even though I’ve got cats and I don’t live on a farm. Who doesn’t want to chill out a bit at home?

I can also see how Rasmus, at 30 years old and on his fourth team, would be experiencing a little bit of a baseball player midlife crisis. I can also appreciate the fact that being a professional athlete at the highest level involves a type of commitment that goes way beyond your talent for the game.

You can’t just walk away, can you? That’s something you do when you’re 15, not 30.

Assuming Rasmus is close to the guy he was with Toronto and Houston, he’s a perfect fit for the Orioles. He’s got power, he strikes out a lot and he plays good defense. He can probably hit .240, like he has for his career.

But how do we know he won’t just do the same thing this year as he did in 2017?

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

A dramatic and exciting Opening Day win turned into a dull and depressing opening series for Baltimore baseball fans as the Orioles dropped the final two games of their extended weekend series with the Twins.

It's generally not a good use of time to overreact to these kind of small samples over the course of a baseball season, and especially so at the very beginning of the season when everything is magnified and you have no larger context in which to place your takes, but what the heck let's do it anyway. Based on the first three games, here are some way too early observations about the Birds.

So far the "upgraded" starting rotation is looking shaky. Dylan Bundy was terrific in the opener, but Andrew Cashner and Kevin Gausman were most definitely not in their outings.

Giving up four runs in the first inning on Sunday wasn't a good way for Kevin Gausman to follow up Saturday night's bad start from newcomer Andrew Cashner.

Cashner, at least, had some positives to build on with 53 strikes thrown on 79 pitches and five strikeouts in as many innings. Do a slightly better job of keeping the ball in the park and that's the kind of performance that usually gives a team a chance to win. Gausman on the other hand gave up four runs in the first inning, including allowing a home run on his very first pitch, and looked listless for the most part. His slider wasn't breaking consistently, and it mostly looked like he was staying in to absorb innings by the third inning.

The good thing is that the Twins are a good offensive team so this probably won't be a baseline performance for either pitcher this year. The bad news is that the Orioles are now taking this show to Houston where they'll send Chris Tillman and Mike Wright out to face the defending champs and their stacked lineup.

On the other hand, while everyone's early critical focus is going to be on the pitching, I think the real danger for the Orioles is going to be an offense that may not be very good at all. The simple fact is that where a lot of things have to go right for the starting rotation to be good, basically *everything* has to go right for the offense to put up the kind of numbers they'll need to carry the team into October in a competitive American League.

Adam Jones needs to reverse several seasons of declining production. Jonathan Schoop and Trey Mancini have to avoid regressing from last season. Chris Davis needs to find a way to be not-terrible (Mark Trumbo too, for that matter). And everyone has to hit a whole bunch of home runs to make up for all of the strikeouts they're going to rack up and the low on base percentage the team is likely to put up.

That's a lot of things falling into place, and virtually no margin for error. With five runs and 11 hits in the first three games....things are not off to a good start.

It will be interesting to see how long Buck Showalter will stick with Tim Beckham at 3rd base. In addition to an error on Sunday, Beckham just looks visibly uncomfortable at the hot corner, a position he has essentially no experience playing as a pro.

Maybe he'll get better with reps, but he could also just be really bad. Considering that the Orioles are only in this spot because they caved in to Manny Machado's desire to play shortstop even though it was clearly not ideal for the team...can they even ask Machado to move back to third base at this point?

On a similar note, I wonder how long it will take Austin Hays to force his way to the majors. The Orioles absurdly demoted him to Double-A despite the fact that he hit .330/.367/.594 there last year and earned himself a September call up. It seemed obvious that that should have earned the top prospect the inside line on the open right-field job, but the Orioles spent the offseason obsessing over having a left-handed hitting outfielder for some reason and that ended with them signing Colby Rasmus.

Rasmus is a career .241/.311/.438 hitter best known for feuding with Tony LaRussa in St. Louis, and though it's obviously a small sample he's opened 2018 by going 0-for-6 with a walk and 4 strikeouts. I have a hard time believing that a platoon of Rasmus and Craig Gentry is going to be more productive than Hays would be playing everyday, but it's not clear that the Orioles are going to give Hays serious consideration as a big leaguer this year.

Finally, in addition to hitting the tar out of the ball this weekend, Twins' second baseman Brian Dozier has also already offered up a strong contender for the title of dumbest/whiniest invocation of baseball's esoteric "unwritten rules." If you were fortunate enough to miss this until now, Dozier and several members of the Twins, including starting pitcher Jose Berrios were in high dudgeon over Chance Sisco bunting for a hit in the ninth inning with the team down seven runs thereby "breaking up" Berrios' one hitter.

I can't find anyone who seems to have known that one-hitters held such a sacred place in the ethics of the game, but I guess that's why they're unwritten, right? Also, as I'm far from the first to point out, if it's not okay for Sisco to bunt in an attempt to put a runner on base for his team, why is it okay for the Twins to deploy a shift to try to keep him off base?

Maybe the unwritten rules simply haven't caught up to the shift yet. Berrios actually went so far as to declare that a player getting on base in the bottom of the ninth and giving the paying customers a small glimmer of hope and excitement was bad for baseball.

Which is hilarious because it certainly seems like having players telling the crowd that the internal ethics of the game demand that the losing team stop trying to win would be bad for business. In all seriousness, if Rob Manfred wants to enact a sweeping reform agenda at the league office, he should strongly consider fining players and managers for these sorts of comments the same way that they get fired for criticizing umpires.

Oh, and given the nature of my coverage of the players' union this offseason, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Dozier's comments were built on a galling level of condescension towards Sisco simply because the latter is a rookie.

As though it's believable that a guy with 483 professional games under his belt simply isn't old enough to understand the basic code of baseball. In fact, Sisco has just as many seasons as a professional as Berrios does.

This is exactly the kind of disrespect towards younger players from veterans that has gotten the players into the current labor market mess that they're in, and if the MLBPA still had competent leadership someone would be giving Dozier a lecture in the near future.

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12 days of the masters

The Masters technically starts today.

The Monday practice round at Augusta National Golf Club is the official start of "Masters week", with yesterday's winner, Ian Poulter, stealing the final available spot for the first major championship of the golfing season.

Over the ten days, I've been previewing the 2018 Masters by giving you my 12 "favorites" to win this year's event.

It started on Saturday, March 24, when I listed Bryson DeChambeau at #12. On Sunday, March 25, it was Matt Kuchar at #11. Sergio Garcia was my #10 on Monday, March 26. March 27, I listed Dustin Johnson at #9. March 29, it was hotshot/hothead Jon Rahm at #8. On March 30, it was Justin Rose at #7. On March 31, I had Phil Mickelson at #6. Tiger Woods was #5 on March 31. And on April 1, it was Bubba Watson at #3.

Now, we're down to the last three of my favorites.

When I try and predict a final Masters leaderboard, I look at two factors mostly. Former champions in the field and players with great track records at Augusta who haven't yet found the winner's circle.

With a supremely strong record at Augusta - including a win in 2015 and near wins in 2014 and 2016, Jordan Spieth is looking for his fourth career major this week at the Masters.

Number three is a player with a superb track record at Augusta National: Jordan Spieth.

That he played well at Houston over the weekend and finished tied for third isn't nearly as important as how he did it. With his putter. When Spieth rolls the ball well on the greens, he's almost even money to be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon -- at any tournament.

The Masters is about putting. And a great short game. Spieth has both of those those things -- times five.

But he also has some demons at Augusta as well. He held an early two-shot lead at the 2014 event before Bubba Watson charged past him on the back nine to win his second green jacket.

He won the following year in easy fashion, but made a "7" on the par-3 12th hole in the final round of the 2016 Masters and squandered a four-shot back nine lead in the process.

Spieth was two shots out of the lead heading into Sunday's final round in 2017, but a 3-over par 75 sunk his hopes as Sergio Garcia beat Justin Rose in a playoff.

So, yes, he has a win and a green jacket, but he also has some scars from disappointing Sunday play at Augusta National.

But when he's on, he's one of the best players in the world.

I think he's a good bet to be "on" this week at the Masters.

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April 1
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issue 31
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happy easter!

On the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I'd like to wish all of you a Happy Easter!

This is one of the most important days in the history of the world.

On the third day after being crucified by his enemies, Jesus rose from the dead and offered eternal life to any and all who believe in him. Even the very enemies who nailed him to the cross and allowed him to suffer there for six hours.

John 3:16 16 -- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

That Jesus was able to forgive those who punished him was the greatest of his gifts.

Even in his very worst moment, on the verge of taking in his final breath, he asked God to forgive the men who had tortured him.

"Forgive them Father...for they know not what they do."

In 2018, a five minute surf on the internet or a 15-minute breeze through the various cable TV news stations tells us all that we need far more of that kind of forgiveness in our world.

We need to forgive more.

And love more.

In short, if we take time to follow more closely the life and times of Jesus Christ, we'll see someone who had it all figured out. He lived a simple yet fulfilling life.

Faith, love, hope and devotion to God.

If we make those things important in 2018 and put less emphasis on power and greed, we'll start to see a shift in our world. And a very pleasing one, at that.

Please don't let today pass you by without stopping for a minute and reflecting on the powerful gift Jesus gave all of us.

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it's michigan vs. villanova for all the marbles tomorrow night

It seems terribly wrong to say this given that we're celebrating the Easter weekend, and by no means at all is it her fault.

But I was starting to get Sister Jean'd out, if you will.

The 98-year old nun who became the symbol of the Loyola-Chicago basketball game will head back to the Windy City today after Michigan raced past the Ramblers in the second half last night to win the semi-final game in San Antonio, 69-57.

Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats are making their second title game appearance in the last four years tomorrow night when they take on Michigan.

Because the national media can't cover a story without running it into the ground, Sister Jean got as much airtime as either team in the days leading up to the Final Four match-up.

My guess is if somehow UMBC would have made it to the Final Four, the media would have spoiled Zach Seidel and the UMBC twitter account for us, too. It's just what they do. A good, wholesome story with plenty of juice gets overplayed and overblown.

What wasn't overblown last night is how good Michigan is, though.

They are clearly the hottest team in the tournament.

But they'll be stepping up in class on Monday night when they face Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats, who humbled and dismantled Kansas last night, 95-79. And here's the thing: It wasn't even really that close.

Villanova is a machine.

All five starters scored in double figures and their first guy off the bench did as well.

The Wildcats went 18-40 from 3-point range and made thirteen long distance shots in the first half alone as they built a 47-32 lead. Kansas didn't quit. But if the second half was a game of "horse", Kansas had Q-U-I with about 14 minutes remaining in the contest.

So it's Villanova and Michigan tomorrow night.

And no more Sister Jean, unfortunately.

But she, along with Loyola-Chicago, will be remembered for a long, long time.

UMBC might have been the early darlings with their first round shocker against Virginia, but from a basketball standpoint, UL-C became the real "story" of the tournament. Their run to the Final Four, like those produced by the likes of Butler, VCU and George Mason over the last two decades, will serve as great bulletin board material for mid-major coaches next November when the 2018-2019 season begins.

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O'rky's O'pinion

Brian Orkmann is a life-long Orioles fan. He got a taste of the baseball life at a young age — his uncle played for seven years in the Cleveland Indians' minor-league system. O'rky travelled with his family to Arizona every year for spring training. He will serve as #DMD's witty yet discerning eye and voice in the 2018 season.

Seven thoughts from last night's 6-2 Orioles loss to the Twins.

1. The Ravens apparently aren't the only team in need of an improved offense. We almost got no hit last night against Minnesota. Schoop broke up the no hitter in the bottom of the 8th inning.

2. The Chris Davis lead off experiment isn't going so well. He went 0 for 5 last night and so far this year is hitting .000.

3. I saw a lot of "Cashner stinks" posts on Twitter and social media and for one night I guess he did, but let's give the guy a dozen starts before we start comparing him to Ubaldo.

4. Is it me or does Trey Mancini look heavier this season? Someone else pointed that out to me and when I compare pictures and video from last year and this year, it looks like he's bigger than he was in 2017. Just wondering. By the way, I'm bigger in 2018 than I was in 2017. It happens.

5. It seems like no one knows how to exactly say his name, but Pedro Araujo looks like he might be worth keeping around. Good fastball and change-up. I'm interested to see more of him. Could he be a closer sometime down the road?

6. Last night's crowd of 17,763 was the lowest first Saturday night crowd of the season since 2010. Next lowest was 29,152 in 2016. 17,763 for a Saturday night game. That's not good.

7. The Orioles announced after the game last night that Ubaldo Jimenez has been signed to a minor league deal. If he's not on the major league roster by April 28, he can opt out.

Being that it's April 1st, you've probably figured out #7 isn't true. Please don't hate me.

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12 days of the masters

The Masters is right around the corner.

I'll be heading to Augusta National this Monday for a one-day trip with 24 other golf fanatics. I can't wait -- it's my 9th trip to the Masters.

Over the last week or so, I've been previewing the 2018 Masters by giving you my 12 "favorites" to win this year's event.

He has all the shots and can hit the ball high in the air, a staple of successful players at Augusta National over the years. Bubba Watson is a serious contender for this year's title.

It started on Saturday, March 24, when I listed Bryson DeChambeau at #12. On Sunday, March 25, it was Matt Kuchar at #11. Sergio Garcia was my #10 on Monday, March 26. March 27, I listed Dustin Johnson at #9. March 29, it was hotshot/hothead Jon Rahm at #8. On March 30, it was Justin Rose at #7. On March 31, I had Phil Mickelson at #6. Tiger Woods was #5 yesterday.

And here we are now, ready to tackle the "final four".

When I try and predict a final Masters leaderboard, I look at two factors mostly. Former champions in the field and players with great track records at Augusta who haven't yet found the winner's circle.

The guy at #4 is gunning for his third Masters title: Bubba Watson.

His form coming into the tournament is almost too good.

Bubba has two wins in the last six weeks, including a destruction of the players he faced in the recent World Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas.

"Maybe the best I've ever seen a guy hit the ball over 18 holes...or, what was it, 12 holes?" is how Kevin Kisner described Watson's play in the final, an easy 7 and 6 victory for Watson.

Like Tiger in the old days, circa 2000, Bubba has the ability to overpower a place like Augusta, where he can reach all of the par 5's with mid-irons. If his putting is good this week, he's a definite threat to win for the third time.

And it's hard to argue against his current form. Confidence is supremely important in golf. And Bubba has confidence right now. Lots of it.

#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

Back to the Top

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:

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!!!

"SHOW ME THE MONEY!" for October 28. Drew makes his week 8 NFL picks right here.

Sunday, September 30

WP: P. Fry (1-2)

LP: B. Peacock (3-5)

HR: none

RECORD/PLACE: 47-115, 5th (of course)

breakfast bytes

Hall of Fame bound: Ichiro retiring after today's Mariners/A's game in Japan.

Caps fall at home to Tampa Bay in overtime, 5-4; Lightning goaltender Vasilevsky makes 54 saves.

Suggs tells national radio show he left Ravens mainly because Ozzie was no longer in charge and team "needed a fresh start".

NCAA openers: North Dakota State, Arizona State win "play-in" games to move on.

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