April 30
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issue 30
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davis' benching, flacco's silence both good for baltimore media biz

If nothing else, the weekend gave us a little drama to chew on.

Heck, the Orioles actually won two games in a 3-day span. That in and of itself is kind of newsworthy, I suppose.

But the town's two most polarizing athletes have wiggled their way into the spotlight and not for the same reason. In fairness, the only real connection between Chris Davis and Joe Flacco is their salary, which hovers roughly around the $20 million mark annually.

Davis has performed terribly over the last couple of years. Flacco's performance has been inconsistent. Yet, by virtue of their exorbitant incomes, the two are often stitched together by the fan base in town.

Through 25 games this season, the O's first baseman has collected just 15 hits. He sports a batting average of .167. Yes, he's a high quality defensive player. But the Orioles signed him to a $161 million deal in 2016 for his bat, not his glove.

And over the last three years, his work at the plate has steadily decreased.

Buck Showalter apparently had enough of Chris Davis and the strikeouts. He benched the first baseman over the weekend.

So this weekend, Davis was benched. Yes, benched.

To give Buck Showalter some credit, he didn't dance around the topic or make up a flimsy excuse or give it another name. He didn't come right out and say "benched", either, but it was obvious when Davis wasn't in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday that the veteran wasn't taking a mental health break.

Showalter benched Davis because he can't hit. Or isn't hitting. You can choose the proper term.

"I talked with him some yesterday," Showalter said before Sunday's 5-3 win over Detroit. "Just trying to get back to some of the things that — Chris was a baseball player with power, you know? And I think that he's a guy who still does run the bases, goes down the line hard.

"I'm sure there's, regardless of what we may think, none of us have really walked in his shoes. I'm sure there's some inner pressure to live up to some things. But we're just trying to step back and start again. You can't continue down the path and expect different results if we don't try something to fix something that isn't working as well as it could be."

There aren't many options for Davis and the Orioles at this point.

No one in the majors would take him via trade.

Creating the famous "pothole injury" might help the Birds in the short term, but at some point the club has to give him playing time. He can't make $23 million to sit around and do nothing.

Moving him around in the lineup hasn't worked. He's been terrible in the lead off spot, at number five, number six and anywhere else Buck has inserted him on the card.

I suppose the Orioles could send Davis to the minors. He'd had to have clear waivers first, which shouldn't be an issue. No one's taking him and that $23 million deal. (Note: I've searched long and hard for the number of options Davis has remaining; I assume it's none but I can't come up with the answer at this point).

Perhaps a minor league assignment would just be too low of a blow. Or maybe Showalter's run that idea up the management flag pole and was told "there's no way we're paying a guy $23 million to play in Norfolk".

Frankly, I'm not sure which is better. Giving Davis $23 million to hit .167 in the majors and not help the team. Or giving him $23 million to play in Norfolk and not help the Orioles. I do understand the potential impact it would have if Davis got jettisoned to Norfolk. That's the ultimate kick to the family jewels -- an 8-year veteran making $23 million who has to ride the bus in the minor leagues.

But Showalter is obviously very concerned.

He benched Davis for two games.

And the team's only other left-handed power hitter, Pedro Alvarez, clocked four home runs in the three-game home series with Detroit over the weekend.

Davis has two homers this season. Alvarez doubled that production in 72 hours.

Meanwhile, the football team has their own percolating story involving their $20-million-man, Joe Flacco.

Honestly, this one got blown up by the internet more than anything else, but Flacco turned down the chance to speak to reporters from the Baltimore Sun and ESPN at a Saturday "draft event" held by the team in the Inner Harbor.

"I don't believe I'm talking today," Flacco said to the reporters who wanted to question him about the Ravens' selection of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson on Thursday night.

That, naturally, erupted into a volcano of web finger-pointing at the quarterback.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn't speak to reporters at a draft day event held by the Ravens and everyone in town assumes he's irate at the team taking Louisville's Lamar Jackson.

"Flacco turned down the media. What a crybaby!"

"Ha ha ha, Flacco's pissed!"

"Joe wasn't afraid to speak to the media when he signed that big contract. Why not talk now?"

For the record -- not that facts matter when the media has a story to pounce on -- Flacco was under a gag order of sorts by the organization on Saturday.

He was asked to appear at the Inner Harbor event and participate in a Q and A session (a make believe "press conference" of sorts) with a group of children and was told by the club not to speak about the draft to any "adult media" who might appear on the scene to question him.

The organization, obviously, would like to have the media all come out to Owings Mills one of these days soon to hear Flacco speak on the subject in their environment. That's natural.

So the team's P.R. staff instructed Flacco not to speak to the media on Saturday.

"I don't believe I'm talking today" was the quarterback's way of trying to put the onus on the club. He probably could have clarified it with, "I'll always talk to you guys, you know that. But they asked me not to speak today, so I won't."

But he didn't do that.

And so -- the flames get fanned.

I'm sure Flacco's not overly pleased at the thought that he might be without a starting job in 2019 in Baltimore.

But Saturday's refusal to speak wasn't in any way connected to his approval or disapproval of Jackson's selection and arrival in town.

I realize that doesn't fit the narrative of what folks in town want to author. They want Flacco steaming. They want him angry. They want him ready to lash out.

The Baltimore media needs a juicy off-season story to keep them charged up for the next couple of months.

And now, potentially, they have one. Or they can at least make one up and run with it. Either way, it keeps them busy.

The Davis benching and the Flacco-Jackson relationship will be stories to follow all summer long. The "experts" (media) and "non-experts" (fans) can mold both situations into whatever they want.

It is, as they say, "great for business".

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

Lamar Jackson Edition


Lamar Jackson, of course

Who is Lamar Jackson?

Seems like every team in college football has no problem scoring 50 points per game and racking up numbers of yards from scrimmage that would seem impossible 20 years ago. Even lousy teams have terrific dual-threat quarterbacks that are expected to carry the load.

Jackson? He’s the best of all those guys. I bet Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen would even admit to that.

He actually had a better season during his junior year than he did as a sophomore, when he became the youngest person to win the Heisman Trophy. Jackson averaged more yards per carry this past season and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, significantly better than his Heisman year.

Still, it’s that lack of accuracy that has a lot of people wondering about him at the NFL level. Joe Flacco was up close to 65 percent in his final season at Delaware, for instance.

His mother, Felicia Jones, was perhaps the most important person in his development as a player. She used to wear pads and get involved in contact drills with him in the backyard of their home in South Florida. Now, she acts as his manager, and he says he’s not hiring an agent or even a lawyer to look through his rookie contract.

Overbearing mom, or a success story of a kid who lost his father at age 8 and succeeded against long odds? Maybe a little of both, but nobody will care either way if the kid can really play at the pro level.


The Heisman Trophy

Jackson, who won the trophy in 2016, becomes the fifth winner of the award to play for the Ravens. That’s assuming that Robert Griffin III, the 2011 winner, sticks with the team after the end of training camp. Like Jackson, Griffin was a first-round draft pick, second overall to the Redskins.

Baltimore last selected a Heisman winner in 2007, when Ozzie Newsome and company chose Ohio State’s Troy Smith in the fifth round. Smith was supposed to be the starter at quarterback for the third preseason game in 2008, but developed a strange infection called Lemierre’s syndrome and couldn’t play. Rookie Joe Flacco started the game, which he’s done every game since when he’s been available. Smith was released prior to the 2010 season.

The other two Heisman winners were veteran players who came to the Ravens later in their careers.

It’s easy to forget that Ricky Williams was in Baltimore for the 2011 season, averaging more than four yards per carry for a team that reached the AFC Championship Game. He had signed a two-year deal prior to the season but announced his retirement after his only season with the Ravens.

It’s much easier to remember the first Heisman winner to play for the Ravens, Vinny Testaverde, the starting quarterback for the team’s first two years in Baltimore. A disappointment in Tampa, Testaverde resurrected his career with the Browns and then the Ravens.


It’s a good question

When will Lamar Jackson be the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens?

You’d assume the answer would be “at some point.” He was drafted in the first round, after all, so the team will be making a certain commitment to him, not unlike they did with Flacco 10 years ago. What Ozzie Newsome did this year with Jackson, trading around the draft like a fantasy owner to get him where they did, isn’t that different than what he did with Flacco.

The difference, of course, is that the Ravens had no established quarterback entering the 2008 season. Flacco was lucky that way; there was nobody for him to sit behind, even if he wasn’t the projected starter when training camp began.

I’m not sure Joe Flacco was completely prepared to start the first game of his career in 2008, and the team certainly spent the year asking him to manage games as opposed to winning them by himself. He was, however, the prototype of an NFL quarterback—strong arm, big, standing in the pocket and reading the defense. Those attributes are why the Ravens wanted him so badly.

If Lamar Jackson was asked to start the first game of the 2018 season, I don’t think he would be completely prepared either. The question is whether he’s the modern prototype of an NFL quarterback, one who can do great things with his legs and his arms even against the most talented players.



It would be a great stroke of fate if Lamar Jackson became a star quarterback and local hero in Baltimore like another signal caller who played at the University of Louisville. That would be John Unitas, just in case you were born under a rock.

I’m not sure what the rules are for honoring the jerseys of former players at Louisville, whether a player must have earned his degree, etc. But Jackson is certain to join Unitas as one of 19 players in program history to have his jersey honored.

The Cardinals’ program gave Unitas the ultimate honor by actually retiring his number, 16, which won’t be worn again by any Louisville player.

The Ravens once drafted another quarterback from Louisville, the somewhat forgettable Chris Redman, taken in the third round prior to the team’s Super Bowl season in 2000. Redman, who won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, hung on in the NFL a lot longer than you might remember. He played six years as a backup for the Falcons before his career ended 12 years after it began, that 2000 season when he got a ring as the third quarterback in Baltimore.

Jackson and Redman both had the chance to play under coach Bobby Petrino. He was the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals back in 1998 and the head coach of Louisville, for the second time, during Jackson’s brilliant college career.


The first round

A lot of pundits gave the Ravens and Ozzie Newsome an A+ grade for their first-round maneuvering, which led to the selections of Hayden Hurst at No. 25 and then Jackson at No. 32. Of course, one of those experts was Baltimore’s Mel Kiper, who I don’t think has ever given the Ravens a bad grade.

The choice of the promising tight end from South Carolina, at a lower pick than he originally had, worked out perfectly for Newsome. The Ravens have spent this offseason in the veteran receiver market, and Hurst will be 25 years old when the season starts. He’ll be ready to play.

As for Jackson, he turned out to be the answer to a question I’ve had over the last three years or so. When were the Ravens going to draft a quarterback early enough that it mattered? Or, to put it another way, when was Newsome planning on potentially having two good quarterbacks on his team instead of one?

Not to be too simple about it, but the Ravens played an awful lot of teams last season that didn’t have a very good second quarterback. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl champions from Philadelphia made a playoff run because they did.

Nobody knows if Jackson can be the next Nick Foles, but Newsome and his staff eventually had to take a chance on finding someone. The fact that they chose Jackson probably tells you they think he can bring them something in return.

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When the Ravens made Lamar Jackson the 32nd overall selection in the 2018 draft, trading back into the first round to secure the quarterback from Louisville, the obvious question to ask was "what does this mean for Joe Flacco's future in Baltimore?"

Taking a quarterback in the first round, and trading up to do so, clearly signals that you're picking someone with the intention of them being your future franchise quarterback, and that means that eventually Flacco will have to be kicked to the curb.

The Ravens' management team said pretty much exactly what you would expect them to say. The Super Bowl 47 MVP is the starter, and the rookie is going to ride the bench and learn. That sounds good, but we've heard that with plenty of rookie quarterbacks in the last few years, some of whom were starting just weeks into the season.

So how seriously should we treat the Ravens' statements that Jackson won't be the starter this coming season?

First and foremost, if Jackson really doesn't start in 2018 it will be a significant break in recent NFL trends.

Going back to 2011, the first season played under the new CBA, only Jake Locker, Johnny Manziel, Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, and Pat Mahomes have been drafted in the first round and started fewer than 10 games in their rookie season (excluding Deshaun Watson, whose season was cut short by an ACL injury).

Of those, only Locker started no games at all, although Mahomes only started a Week 17 game when the Chiefs were already locked into the fourth seed in the playoffs. Considering each of these situations tells us a lot about what it takes to be a first round quarterback who doesn't become the team's primary starter.

Manziel was a pick made by the owner without the support of the Browns' front office or coaching staffs. He had a tumultuous rookie season, didn't impress anyone at practice, showed up late, skipping training sessions, and generally showed that he wasn't cut out to be a professional football player. He still got a chance to start, though.

Locker sat behind Matt Hasselbeck, who took the Titans to a 9-7 record, and was never very impressive at all. He never started 16 games in a season, and started just 25 games over his four year career.

Will Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson wrestle away the starting job from Joe Flacco in 2018 or have to wait his turn and start, perhaps, in 2019 or later?

Likewise, Lynch is a total bust who's proven the worst part of his scouting reports correct.

Goff started 7 games in 2016, then made the Pro Bowl while leading the Rams to a divisional title in 2017 while making Jeff Fisher an all-time punchline for the job he did coaching the Rams.

But it's Mahomes who is probably the best direct comparison to the situation the Ravens are in this season. The Chiefs traded way up the board to draft him 9th overall, giving up a future first round pick in the process, and ultimately he didn't get to play except in the meaningless final game of the season. But he was stuck behind Alex Smith, who just so happened to be having a career season, completing 67% of his passes for over 4,000 yards and leading the league in quarterback rating, yards per attempt, and interception percentage while leading the Chiefs to a divisional crown.

At one point, Kansas City looked like the best team in the whole league, in fact. Despite that the Chiefs traded Smith to Washington this offseason and installed Mahomes as the unchallenged starter in his second season.

That's probably the scenario that the Ravens are hoping to follow this season. If Flacco plays well and/or the team is winning games early they can avoid making any difficult decisions in 2018 before cutting Flacco's contract when it's financially advantageous next offseason.

But what if that doesn't work out? With the exception of the 2014 season, when Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator, and the 2012-13 playoffs the Ravens have never had a consistently good offense with Flacco as the quarterback, nor has Flacco been consistently good at his job or produced impressive passing numbers.

Even when the Ravens won 12 games in back to back seasons in 2010 and 2011, the offensive malaise was a huge point of concern and firing Cam Cameron was at the to of a lot of fans' offseason wish list. Even Flacco defender don't really deny the fact, they just put the blame for it anywhere (everywhere) else other than the quarterback.

So what happens if we see more of the same this season? What happens if the offensive results just aren't there and the teams gets off to, say, a 4-4 start in 2018? The Ravens have overhauled their pass catching group this offseason and have a good offensive line on paper right now, so do we really think they won't even consider changing the guy under center if the results don't change?

And to that end, what happens if Jackson lives up to his developmental potential?

Right from the get-go Jackson has a level of athletic ability and creativity with the ball in his hands that's unmatched by other NFL quarterbacks, and has a tremendously strong arm on top of that. His drawbacks are mostly that he struggles with his footwork and mechanical consistency, but those are issues that are fixable with practice and by all accounts Jackson is a hard worker who is open to coaching.

That profile reminds me a whole lot of Cam Newton, who had the same issues coming out of college and then refused to accept the notion that he needed a special, simplified playbook. Instead he worked hard on his pocket mechanics and promptly threw for 4,000 yards and completed 60% of his passes in his rookie season. If Jackson works his tail off and improves his accuracy and consistency by the preseason, how long will the Ravens' brass sit on their hands if the offense delivers the same sort of results we've seen for the vast majority of the Flacco era and the team is hovering around .500, or worse?

Finally, let's get past the canned statements and read the tea leaves a little bit.

The Ravens clearly like Jackson a lot. They've been linked to him for months by a number of highly connected media types, and there were dozens of mock drafts from reporters and analysts with sources in the league that had the Ravens picking him with the 16th pick.

Indeed, Mike Florio reported on Sunday that there were people in the Ravens' war room lobbying to pick him 16th overall before the trade with Buffalo. It's hardly as though this was a pick out of left field, made because Ozzie Newsome simply couldn't pass up a good value pick.

Furthermore, while it became trendy to say that it's "never too early" to get your quarterback of the future, that is certainly not the case for the Ravens right now.

Joe Flacco just turned 33 in January. Among NFL starting quarterbacks he's younger than Tom Brady (41 when the regular season begins), Ben Roethlisberger (36), Philip Rivers (36), Eli Manning (37), Alex Smith (34), Aaron Rodgers (34), and Drew Brees (39). He's only four months older than Matt Ryan, too.

If Flacco's career arc followed that of Brady, Brees, Rivers, or Eli then Lamar Jackson would be a free agent before Flacco's tenure as a starting quarterback was over. Drafting Jackson now is a clear sign that the Ravens' concerns with Flacco are based on performance, not age.

Overall I'm bullish on Jackson's future as an NFL quarterback and as previously stated I think he's the third best QB prospect in this draft behind Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield.

In Jackson I see a quarterback with RG3's skill set but without Griffin's hostility to acknowledging his own flaws and being coached up by Mike/Kyle Shannahan (and you have to wonder now if the Ravens didn't sign Griffin specifically to teach Jackson how not to act).

I think he's going to work hard to fix improve his mechanics, and his accuracy is not going to be a major problem by the end of this season. And without belaboring a point that regular readers are already well familiar with, I have decidedly little confidence in Joe Flacco's ability or desire to improve as an NFL quarterback this season.

I expect that, with Flacco at the helm, the Ravens' 2018 offense is going to look a lot like the Ravens' 2017 offense despite all of the new faces at wide receiver and tight end.

All of which is to say that I strongly believe that Lamar Jackson is going to be the Ravens' starting quarterback before the end of this season. In fact, if I'm making odds, I'll say that it's more likely Jackson starts in Week One than that Flacco starts Week 15.

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The Rivalry: #3 Maryland 8 - #7 Johns Hopkins 7 (3OT)

Over 10,000 made it to Homewood field on a beautiful Spring day to see this defensive thriller as the Terps used a late run to tie the game, then out last the Blue Jays in the third overtime period for the title of B1G regular season champs.

While the score was low, it wasn't for a lack of shooting as both teams took 40+ attempts (MD-45, JHU-43). Both teams defenses and goalies had a say in altering shots or making great saves. And they did this by shutting down the opposing stars on the other teams as the Terps' Connor Kelly finished with just 1 assist (0-13 shooting) as did the Blue Jays' Cole Williams (0-9 shooting). So it was up to the other guys to make it happen.

Hopkins kept the Terps from having their usually spectacular 1st half, only trailing 3-2 after the 2nd period. Then the Blue Jays adjusted as expected but the game was knotted at 5-5 after 3 quarters. However, momentum swung Hopkins way as they jumped out to a 7-5 lead with 9:50 left in the 4th quarter.

In this defensive struggle, it seemed like a 2 goal lead was insurmountable as the game ticked down to less than 5 minutes to play. However, Jared Berhardt drove from X and found Logan Wisnauskas to bring the Terps to within 1. Then just a minute later, Connor Kelly drew a double team but found Will Snider who was left wide up to tie the game at 7-7 with just a few minutes left.

After several possessions and timeouts in the 3 overtime periods, Logan Wisnauskas drove top side and found Will Snider open again on the other side wide open who buried the free look for the game winner.

Logan Wisnauskas (3 goals, 1 assist) and Will Snider (2 goals), who tied and won the game, came up big for the Terps. But Maryland's Dan Morris was the player of the game, making 13 saves and only allowing 7 goals. Hopkins Alex Concannon and Joel Tinney each had 2 goals, while goalie Brock Turnbaugh came up with 8 saves including several right on the doorstep.

It would be great to see a rematch of these two in the B1G finals next weekend.

Other Notable Games:

Charley Toomey and the Loyola Greyhounds are headed back to the NCAA tournament after they captured the Patriot League title this weekend.

#8 Loyola 13 - Boston 8 (Friday) - The Terriers appeared to be continuing their upset run as they took a 7-6 lead at half. Then the Greyhounds woke up outscoring Boston 7-1 in the 2nd half to advance to the Patriot League final. Kevin Lindley (5 goals) and Pat Spencer paced the Greyhounds offense while Foster Huggins continues to be a defensive star, collecting another 3 caused turnovers and a ground ball. Boston's freshman goalie Joe McSorely (Calvert Hall) made 13 saves.

#11 Navy 8 - Lehigh 9 OT (Friday) - The other Patriot League semi was definitely a more competitive affair, which unfortunately ended the Midshipmen's conference tournament and most likely their season. Jack Ray (3 goals), Dave Little (2 goals, 1 assist) and Greyson Torain led Navy's offense.

Vermont 9 - UMBC 6 - As expected, Vermont was not to be denied as they took down UMBC and knocked them out of the America East tournament. The Retrievers were led by Billy Nolan (3 goals, 3 assists) and freshman Steven Zichelli (2 goals, 2 assists). While out of it this year, look for Coach Moran and all his young stars to make some noise as he continues to build up the program over the next few years.

Towson 8 - Fairfield 7 - The Tigers get more than they bargained for from the CAA's last place team. But outscored the Stags 4-2 in the second half to squeak out a victory and the 2nd seed in the CAA tournament starting this Thursday. Jean-Luc Chetner and Grant Maloofed both scored and assisted twice, while defenseman Chat Patterson (Westminster) caused 5 turnovers and goale Shane Brennan made 9 saves. Alex Woodall dominated the face-off X, winning 11 of 17 draws.

#8 Loyola 15 - Lehigh 8 (Sunday) - The Patriot League Final played out similarly to the Greyhounds victory on Friday against Boston. The Mountain Hawks came out aggressive and dominating face-offs and possessions in the first half to tie the game 5-5 after 2 periods. Then the Greyhounds adjusted reeling off 6 goals within the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter before Lehigh could respond. Pat Spencer, who was faced guarded for a large portion of this one, ended up with 1 goal and 4 assists and was selected as the tournament's MVP.

The Final Four - Total carnage this weekend with several top teams falling. Let's make some quick projections for the top seeds of the NCAA tournament field, which will be set in another week after conference tournaments next weekend.

1) Yale - The strongest so far should be the #1 seed if they can win the Ivy League tournament.

2) Maryland - Would be considered the #1 if they win the upcoming B1G tournament. However, the Terps are looking vulnerable after the last 2 weeks.

3) Denver - A strong showing in the Big East tourney would put Denver in position to capture the #1 or #2 seed should the top 2 falter.

4) Duke - Oddly, the Duke defense that held Notre Dame to just 2 goals 3 weeks ago gives them 14 goals in last Friday's ACC semifinal.

Outside Looking In - ( Albany, Loyola, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, Cornell)

April 29
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finding his next team might not be easy for flacco

No matter when Joe Flacco's tenure in Baltimore ends, the next chapter of his career will be very interesting.

He might have trouble finding a job.

With the selection of Louisville's Lamar Jackson on Thursday night, the organization sent a warning flag to Joe: Your time here is nearly up.

There are some nitwits in town who think Jackson was drafted to compete with Flacco this season. That's as wrong as wrong can be. Flacco's the quarterback in 2018 and, barring injury to Joe, Jackson is going to do what most just-drafted-quarterbacks do -- he'll sit on the bench and learn the game the right way.

But there's certainly a chance that Joe's final season as a starter in Baltimore will be 2018. The team can cut him loose in June of 2019 and pay him nothing, but there is a mess of a $16 million salary cap hit they'll have to spread out over two seasons.

So let's think about that scenario for a minute.

If that happens, what happens to Flacco?

If Joe Flacco's career in Baltimore ends in June of 2019, where will he go from there?

By the time the 2019 campaign rolls around, Joe will have played 11 big league seasons. That's a fairly substantial playing career, but certainly doesn't mark the end of his run in the NFL -- unless he wants it to end. Tom Brady is coming up on two decades in the league and Ben Roethlisberger started his career way back in 2004. And both are still playing.

Flacco's time in Baltimore might end next June, but he very well might want to keep playing. And, knowing Joe, a smidgen of his motivation to play might actually rest in the thought of competing against the Ravens. That's the kind of stuff that grinds his gears.

But where would he play? Quarterback spots are drying up everywhere in the NFL. Super Bowl MVP or not, teams aren't going to reshuffle the deck and jettison their current young quarterback for a 12-year veteran like Flacco.

In the AFC, let's look at teams who we know, now, won't be looking for a starting quarterback in 2019.

Buffalo and the Jets both just drafted guys. They're set. Or should be set, at least.

Cleveland just took Baker Mayfield at #1. We can guess that he's going to bomb by 2019 just because "it's the Browns", but let's pretend he works out just fine.

Pittsburgh might not have Roethlisberger in 2019, but they just selected Mason Rudolph as his heir apparent. Pittsburgh appears set.

No need for a starter in Houston (Watson), Indianapolis (Luck) or Tennessee (Mariota). Of those three, perhaps only the Titans could wind up being ready to part company with their starter by then and that's a long shot.

Oakland (Carr) and Kansas City (Mahomes) are in good hands.

Teams I didn't mention yet: Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New England, Miami, Denver and the L.A. Chargers.

The Bengals will likely have Andy Dalton around next June, still. 2019 might be Brady's final season in New England, but they're not benching him for Joe Flacco. Both of those teams might be in the quarterback market soon, but it's unlikely Flacco would be their answer. They'd go with a rookie most likely.

In the AFC, that leaves Miami, Denver, L.A. and Jacksonville.

Miami might be the team to watch in this scenario. They didn't select a quarterback in the 2018 draft and will wait until next year, at least, to start the search for someone to replace Ryan Tannehill.

The NFC is actually tighter.

Without going into it team-by-team, I can see perhaps only one team that might start quarterback shopping next spring at the draft: The New York Giants.

Everyone except the Giants has a young quarterback they've drafted and/or invested in over the last few years or they've traded for someone recently that's likely going to be their starter next year.

The Giants will be looking for a new quarterback next season, although they're probably more likely to draft one than sign a guy like Flacco.

But New York is an intriguing possibility for Flacco given his New Jersey birthplace.

In summary, Joe Flacco might be a free agent in June of 2019 but the job opportunities might not be there for him. Don't feel bad for the guy. He'll have made upwards of $140 million in the NFL by the time next summer rolls around. He can afford to fly first class for the rest of his life.

There are a few potential landing spots in the AFC, although L.A. is already starting to plan for life after Philip Rivers and the Broncos are going to see if what Case Keenum did in Minnesota last season was a fluke or the maturation of a veteran who just needed a fair chance to show his stuff.

The Giants are pretty much it in the NFC.

Flacco won't have many choices next summer.

Perhaps the one most inviting for Joe would be the Dolphins if, in fact, they mercifully end the Ryan Tannehill era by then.

The Dolphins play the Ravens in Miami in the 2019 season.

That alone could get Joe to sign in South Florida.

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cashner battered, birds lose again

Miguel Cabrera looked completely uninterested in Friday night's series opener in Baltimore when he and the Tigers lollygagged through a 6-0 loss.

Cabrera wasn't uninterested last night, especially with Andrew Cashner on the mound for the Birds.

Cabrera belted a 3-run homer and a 2-run double in a 9-5 Detroit win. The double is a little misleading, honestly. Craig Gentry misplayed a relatively routine ball hit right at him and the official scorekeeper must have been getting some popcorn at that moment.

Trey Mancini had two hits for the O's in last night's 9-5 loss to the Tigers. He's currently hitting .273 on the season.

But there's no debating Cabrera's home run or the 9-5 Orioles loss. It was over in the 2nd inning.

The Birds mounted a 7th inning rally aided by a couple of walks and a two-RBI single from (who else?) Manny Machado. They actually had the tying run at the plate in an 8-5 game, but Adam Jones flew out to center to end the inning -- and the O's hopes.

Cashner's line was again not very impressive. Four innings, six earned runs, four strikeouts and three walks. Detroit nicked him for seven hits, including the two from Cabrera that sealed the game for the Tigers.

Four Orioles had two hits each: Mancini, Machado, Valencia and Santander. Everyone else in the lineup didn't do jack squat.

With a lefty (Liriano) starting for the Tigers, Chris Davis got a night of pine, as Trey Mancini made the start at first base for Buck Showalter.

20,000 and some change took in the game at Camden Yards.

The Birds are now 7-20 on the season, which leaves the Birds with fewer wins than every team in baseball except Cincinnati and Kansas City, both of whom have six victories to date.

It's not pretty, friends.

After today's series finale, the O's will head west for a quick six-game road trip against the Angels and A's. When they return, they'll get Jonathan Schoop back, which will (fortunately) end the platoon-situation with Jace Peterson and Luis Sardinas. Schoop will help the Baltimore offense. I think...

The real issue with the club continues to be the starting pitching. The Birds can't get three good starts in succession. Heck, they've rarely had two good back-to-back starts this season, truth be told.

It's still too early to panic, but if we're playing horse, I'd say by now we have the "P", "A", and "N", and "I" is in our right hand ready to go up on the board.

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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 28
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issue 28
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a flacco-lamar meeting might go something like this...

Lamar Jackson strolls into the weight room, where Joe Flacco is sweating through a heavy athletic shirt that reads "If Only They Knew" in bold letters on the front.

"I thought you never worked out, bro. That's what the media says," Jackson states to Flacco as the two man-hug in their first meeting after the former Louisville quarterback was selected in Thursday night's first round of the NFL draft.

"Yeah, there's a lot the fans and media don't know," Flacco replies. He points to the front of his shirt. "This says it all."

Flacco dries off and says to Jackson, "You wanna grab lunch? We should probably talk."

On the way to the cafeteria, Flacco stops by the locker room and grabs a chess board and pieces out of someone's locker. Jackson finds that odd, but being a rookie and all, he doesn't say a word as the two find a couple of empty seats at a table in the corner.

"So tell me everything," Jackson pleads. "I want all the information you can give me."

"Really? You sure you don't want to just enjoy this for a few days before I tell you about the living hell you're going to experience in this job?" Flacco replies.

It bothers Jackson that he doesn't think Flacco's joking around.

"That bad, dawg?" Jackson asks.

"Here? In Baltimore? Yeah, dawg, it's that's bad," says Joe.

"Let me start with the team first." Flacco puts the chess board on the table and aligns the pieces in their proper spots.

"You play chess?" he asks Jackson.

"Sure do," Lamar replies. "Pretty good at it, too."

"It's interesting that the pieces on the board are black and white," Flacco explains. "That's a lot how this city works. Once you get the job here, the city will probably be divided like this on your play. If you know what I mean..."

"Hmmmm, I'm used to that," says Jackson. "Is it like that here for you?"

Flacco nods in agreement, as if he doesn't want to say it out loud.

He slides the chess board in between the two of them.

Just before they start to play, Joe says, "Wait just a sec, rookie. To help you understand what you're up against with this organization, I need to do something with your side of the board."

Flacco takes three black pieces off the board, removing Lamar's queen, bishop and rook. He gently sets them away from the board.

"OK, let's start playing now," Joe demands.

"But wait, bro. You took three of my best pieces away and we ain't even started yet," Jackson says.

"That's correct," replies Joe. "That's how things are gonna work here for you. You'll be asked to win games without your queen, bishop and rook. The other teams you play will have all of their pieces. You'll be missing three pieces. Three important ones."

"I won games here throwing to people like Marlon Brown, Kelly Washington and Breshad Perriman," Joe states. "Hell, they had plays in the book for me to throw to Troy Smith and Tyrod Taylor."

"Those two dudes are quarterbacks, right?" asks Jackson.

Flacco laughs. "Yeah, but since we didn't have any real wide receivers, those were the pieces they gave me."

"Well I can win with anything," Jackson contends. "I had some stiffs at Louisville too."

"Oh, yeah, about that winning thing you talked about on Thursday night," says Joe.

"I'm gonna win here, dawg," Jackson states. "I promise you that. I'm a winner."

Joe leans in closer and says, "I believe that. But when you said that on Thursday, you used 'Super Bowl' in the singular. You said 'win a Super Bowl' or something like that."

"Right," Jackson says. "Was that wrong?"

"No, it wasn't wrong," Flacco explains. "But you better win a Super Bowl every year here, my man. Not once, not twice. Every year. These people in town are nuts. If you win one, they want two. If you win two, they'll want three."

"That bad, huh?" says Jackson. He's a little worried now.

"Yeah, that bad," replies Joe. "And they think you're the only player on the team. If you win by six, they'll blame you for not winning by 16. If you lose by three, they'll want you replaced. We lost at Jacksonville last year 44-7 and they blamed me because the defense couldn't make a stop for three hours. In the last game of the year, Cincinnati scored a touchdown on a 4th and 12 pass play and I got the blame."

"You got the blame?" Jackson asks. "You don't play defense."

"Yeah, well, no matter what happens in Baltimore, the quarterback gets the blame. If the team loses 33-10, you get beat up for not scoring enough to give the defense a chance to make a big play at the end of the game," Flacco says.

"Back to that 'winning thing' you talked about on Thursday. Trust me, if you win the Super Bowl in 2021, they'll want you gone by 2024 if you haven't won another one in the next three seasons," Flacco claims.

"I thought one would be good enough for my legacy," Jackson says.

Flacco laughs. "All one Super Bowl is going to do here is get you heartache."

"And you better understand from the jump the media won't do you any favors here," Flacco continues. "You'll have a former GM on the radio telling people 'he knows for a fact' that you don't work hard enough in the off-season and then you'll have a handful of other yahoos who never played a down of real football in their lives talking about how you check down too much, throw off your back foot and don't go through your progressions."

Before Jackson can say anything, Joe rolls on. "It's hilarious, really. You should probably avoid sports talk radio and the internet all together. Trust me."

"Damn," Jackson whispers. "I was all excited when the Ravens called and said they were picking me. A couple of minutes before, the Bengals called and said they were thinking about moving up to grab me."

"You'll probably regret not getting picked by the Bengals, believe it or not," says Flacco. "They actually have a lot of good pieces there, for starters, and since they've never won anything in football, the people would treat you with respect if somehow you win a Super Bowl in Cincinnati."

Jackson sits there, silent.

"Let's play chess," Flacco says as he finishes his milkshake.

"Can I get those three pieces back?" Jackson requests.

Flacco nods in disagreement. "No, man. This is your first lesson in being a quarterback in Baltimore. You have to figure out a way to win without having three important guys."

And as Flacco starts the game, he gently rubs Jackson's shoulder. "And if you don't win the game, it's your fault. And you get all of the blame."

Jackson shakes his head in disbelief.

"How am I supposed to beat you without the queen, rook and bishop?" Jackson asks as he contemplates his move.

Flacco laughs. "That's for you to figure out. Dawg..."

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tillman shines as o's blank tigers, 6-0

That was fun. For one night, at least.

I was at the ballpark on Friday evening. I didn't hear them announce an attendance, but my guess is they announced 17,000 or so. There were legitimately 12,000 warm, living bodies actually in the stadium, I'd say.

But those of us who made our way to Camden Yards saw a rarity. The Orioles won.

And Chris Tillman was exceptional.

O's veteran Chris Tillman picked up his first win of the season last night as the O's blanked Detroit, 6-0.

A double dose of good fortune, one could say.

The O's offense still coughed and gagged like a '79 Pinto. The Birds collected eight hits on the night but through five innings they had just two -- solo homers by Manny Machado and Pedro Alvarez.

Alvarez would hit a second home run later on. He had as many round trippers in two hours on Friday night as Chris Davis has all season. It's can look it up, as they say.

And so the Birds' 5-game (home) losing streak ended, and in not-dramatic fashion, either. It was kind of fun to sit out in Section 94 and just watch a 2 hour and 30 minute game without having to worry about the result.

Tillman has now put together back to back acceptable starts. He was OK in last Saturday's 4-0 loss to the Indians and was even better last night vs. the Tigers. Tillman allowed just one hit in seven innings of work, striking out five and walking just two.

The Tigers looked less than inspired on Friday night. Maybe they got into town late after a road series in Pittsburgh. Perhaps the dreary Friday morning weather had them down.

Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder to short in the 4th inning and got about 65 feet down the line before the ball hit the glove of Chris Davis. The Tigers TV folks were able to take a commercial break while Cabrera was "running" to first.

It must be frustrating to lose to Chris Tillman.

Maybe this is what the O's need. Detroit's now lost three straight games and five of their last seven overall. Perhaps the Birds are catching them at a good time. A three-game sweep for Buck Showalter's team would put them at 9-19 as they head west for the first time all season starting on Tuesday in L.A.

Last night was one of those weird games where nothing really stood out as memorable. Sure, Tillman pitched well and Alvarez hit a pair of homers, but there wasn't much about the game that was in any way memorable.

And, honestly, it was perfect that way. Just a nice, tidy, 6-0 win for the home team.

Maybe it's the start of something good.

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ravens load up on sooners in round 3

Some more draft-day wheeling and dealing earned the Ravens two picks within minutes of one another on Friday night, and John Harbaugh's team filled two critical areas of need with those selections.

With the 83rd pick (#19 in the 3rd round), the Ravens selected offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. from Oklahoma. He's the son of former Raven Orlando Brown.

Here's what the analysts say about Brown:

Brown is a powerful run-blocker who engulfs defenders and moves them off the ball when his technique is sound, and his width and length make it tough for speed rushers to turn the corner. However, he had a historically bad combine, raising concerns about his ability to succeed in the NFL.

The Ravens picked up another tight end on Friday, selecting Oklahoma's Mark Andrews in the 3rd round.

With the Ravens unable to land Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) in the first round, they didn't waste any time finding an offensive tackle to compliment the likes of Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda.

Three picks later, the Ravens went right back to an Oklahoma product, taking tight end Mark Andrews with the 86th pick (#22).

The skinny on Andrews is:

Andrews does a good job of locating soft spots in zones, and his size makes him a mismatch for defensive backs when he flexes out. He has the potential to develop into an effective No. 2, but needs to get stronger and more consistent.

So, four picks for the Ravens -- and four offensive players. Hayden Hurst (TE), Lamar Jackson (QB), Orlando Brown, Jr. (OT) and Mark Andrews (TE).

Expect the Ravens to look for a rush end in today's final rounds, plus some secondary depth and -- gasp! -- maybe even a wide receiver or two. A center might also be on the team's radar today.

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April 27
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will harbaugh be around to see the benefits of last night's work?

John Harbaugh was both elated and impressed when he finally spoke to the media last night around 11:30 pm.

"What happened in that draft room tonight was a masterpiece," the Ravens head coach said.


If Hayden Hurst turns into Todd Heap and Lamar Jackson follows through on his promise to deliver Baltimore a Super Bowl, then "masterpiece" might be a fair summation.

But if Tremaine Edmunds, Derwin James or D.J. Moore wind up being All-Pro players and Hurst and Jackson are just so-so, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta will look back with regret at the wheeling and dealing they did on Thursday night.

Such is life in a NFL draft room.

The Ravens filled an immediate need last night when they took South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst with their first pick (at #25) in the opening round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

I'm not going to beat up the Ravens for what they did or didn't do on Thursday night.

My opinion -- if you press me -- is that I think it's sort of silly to prepare for four months to take a player at 16 in the first round and then back out of that spot as the clock strikes zero, but that's more a discussion about the philosopy of trading back and less about how the mechanics of acquiring more picks, trading some of those to get something else, and so on.

If Hayden Hurst and Lamar Jackson turn out to be high quality, All-Pro type players, then what Newsome and DeCosta did on Thursday was shrewd, sharp and productive.

If they stink or fail to blossom into the kind of player that warrants their first round selection, then the pick-shuffling won't be a masterpiece after all.

It's that simple, to me.

Teams don't draft players simply to say, "Look at who we got".

They draft players to get them on the field and use their talents to help the team win football games.

Any discussion other than one centering on results is a waste of time.

Depending on which expert you believe, Hayden Hurst was the best tight end available in the draft. The Ravens could have drafted Dallas Goedert, the tight end from South Dakota State. Had they done that, the team and fans would have said, "We just got the best tight end in the draft!"

It all depends on whose opinion you respect and what they said about the player your team just selected.

Hurst looks like a great pro prospect. Looks like doesn't mean anything, though. Kyle Boller looked like a NFL quarterback. So did Troy Smith. Neither amounted to much of one.

The benefit that Hurst provides the team is one that Lamar Jackson doesn't. Hurst will play in 2018. He'll have the potential to help right away.

Lamar Jackson, the Louisville quarterback, will not play in 2018. That's the plan, anyway. Remember though, Joe Flacco wasn't supposed to play in 2008, either, but but pre-season injuries and illness to Boller and Smith paved the way for Flacco to step in right away and Baltimore had its own mini-version of Wally Pipp.

There are lots of experts who think Jackson won't pan out as a NFL quarterback. In that regard, he wasn't necessarily a "gamble" at the 32nd in the first round of last night's draft, but there's little debate among the experts that he was the 5th best quarterback available from this year's class.

But "the 5th best quarterback" can still turn out to be a Pro Bowl type signal caller. As Ozzie Newsome always likes to say, "You can't have all of the good players on your team. The other guys get to draft as well."

I read with great interest all of the varying opinions on the Lamar Jackson pick and a few things stood out to me.

First, I would say it's more than fair to base most of Baltimore's excitement about Jackson's arrival on the mere fact that the Ravens have been so bland and boring on offense in the last three years or so that anything that's perceived to potentially make the offense more exciting is a great move.

Lamar Jackon is an athletic, improvisational quarterback who has a unique skill set. That's exciting to people. I get it. But it's even more exciting given the fact that we've been watching paint dry since 2015.

Second, I saw countless mentions that Jackson's selection will, in some way, light a fair under Joe Flacco in the final few years of his contract. "This should send a message to Flacco. You either play or you're gone, you bum!" someone wrote on Twitter last night after the Jackson selection was made.


Joe Flacco is as concerned about Lamar Jackson taking his job as you and I are worried about if we have milk in the refrigerator for our morning coffee.

"They drafted a quarterback, huh? Get back to me when he goes to three AFC title games in his first five years with the team."

Flacco has raked in over $100 million playing football, with another $25 or so to go, at least. He couldn't care less about Lamar Jackson's arrival. Trust me on that.

The only pressure Joe feels is any kind of personal heat he puts on himself to perform at a high level. You can make an argument for or against his "desire level", but that has nothing at all to with the Ravens drafting his heir apparent last night.

And third, I saw lots of folks opining that Harbaugh won't be around to see the fruits of last night's draft labor. "Harbaugh and Flacco will be cleaning out their offices together," someone claimed on Twitter.

Maybe. Harbaugh almost certainly has to guide the team back to the playoffs this season or his tenure in Baltimore will end.

And the Ravens probably only have to keep Flacco around for two more seasons, unless they want to cut him next June and split his $16 million salary cap hit over two seasons (2019, 2020).

But Harbaugh's exit is far from a sure thing, as we've seen over the last couple of seasons when the team wallowed at .500 and he still kept his parking spot at 1 Winning Drive.

If the Ravens get back to the playoffs this season, it's likely Harbaugh will be around for the Lamar Jackson era. Or at least the start of it, anyway.

I can't tell you if what the Ravens did last night was right or not.

Hayden Hurst and Lamar Jackson will write that narrative over the next five years.

The Ravens were "right" to take Ray Lewis, Jon Ogden, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Joe Flacco.

It's easy to say that now.

They were wrong to take Boller, Clayton, Perriman and Elam. It's easy to say that now, too.

I trust Newsome and DeCosta.

They haven't thrown a bunch of no-hitters over the last five years, granted, but they're still going six innings and getting enough people out that I'll give them the ball every fifth day.

We'll have to wait and see if what they did last night was a masterpiece. And we'll also wait and see if John Harbaugh will be around to enjoy it.

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bundy stinks as o's lose 5th straight

This time, it was the pitching that cost the Orioles a chance to win.

Figures, right?

After four games of generating less hits than Blue Oyster Cult, the O's offense finally woke up on Thursday night, pounding out 16 hits. The Birds had 21 hits in total for the recent four game series with Cleveland. Last night, they had one game.

O's ace Dylan Bundy was roughed up by the Rays on Thursday night, allowing seven earned runs in a 9-5 loss to the Rays at Camden Yards.

But they still lost, as Dylan Bundy was trailing 4-0 before any of the 4,000 people in the stadium had a chance to finish their first beer. The Rays would go on to win, 9-5, handing Buck Showalter's team their fifth straight loss.

Tampa Bay won both games here in Baltimore this week.

The Orioles are now 6-19 on the year.

They've played 25 games. And lost 19 of them.

That's terrible.

The silver lining is this: Bundy won't pitch that crappy again. Not anytime soon, at least. He was "off" from the get-go last night. Pitchers -- the really good ones, anyway -- have a start or three a season that don't look anything at all like what they generally offer.

Clayton Kershaw walked six hitters on Wednesday night in a loss to the Marlins. That's unheard of for the all-world Dodgers lefty.

Bundy's allowed an off night once every other month. Thursday evening was his.

And the Birds offense did produce 16 hits in the game, although some of them were of the "too little, too late" variety, as they tried to mount a rally from 8-2 down in the 7th and 9th innings.

This is seriously concerning now, friends.

It wasn't overly concerning at 5-12.

It's troublesome at 6-19.

If things don't turn around this weekend -- and by "turn around", I mean a 3-game sweep of the Tigers -- then the O's have to start considering an early-season offering of guys like Machado, Britton, Brach and Jones.

They're losing 19 of 25 games with those pending free agents on the team, minus Britton. They can certainly lose 19 of 25 without them, too.

And will Buck Showalter survive this shocking fall from grace?

As our own Brian Orkmann noted yesterday here at #DMD, if the O's don't plan on bringing Buck back next year, what's to stop them from canning him now in the wake of the 6-19 start?

We'll know more by Monday morning once the Tigers leave town.

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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

Plenty of great games this weekend for local teams with NCAA tournament implications including the Patriot League semis featuring Navy and Loyola at Loyola's Ridley Athletic Complex on Friday, UMBC playing at Vermont also on Friday and Towson playing at home on Saturday. But all eyes will be on "The Rivalry".

#3 Maryland @ #7 Johns Hopkins (Saturday 2pm, Homewood Field, ESPNU)

It's the defending champion Terps who appear to be on their way to another title defense versus the Blue Jays who are attempting to return to glory. As of Wednesday, less than 1,000 tickets remained available for the 116th meeting between these two to decide the regular season champion of the toughest lacrosse conference in the land...the B1G, who currently have 5 out of 6 teams in the top 20 (Michigan was just outside receiving votes in the poll). Let's compare and contrast.

Potent Offense: Both teams score plenty of goals, over 12 per game (Hopkins - 12.8, Maryland 12.1) and put plenty of shots on cage per game (Hopkins - 23.6, Maryland - 22.6). Both also like to share the rock, with over half of their goals assisted ( Hopkins 92 of 154 goals assisted, Maryland 76 of 145 goals assisted). Neither team stands out defensively, so there will be plenty of goals in this game.

If JHU's scoring star Shack Stanwick returns from injury on Saturday, the Blue Jays' chances improve dramatically against #1 Maryland.

Star Power: Hopkins main scorers include Joel Tinney (15 goals, 28 assists), Cole Williams (28 goals, 11 assists), Kyle Marr (27 goals, 11 assists) and Shack Stanwick (15 goals, 24 assists). Of note, Stanwick was injured 2 games ago and didn't play in last week's contest. The Terps feature Connor Kelly (36 goals, 29 assists), Jared Bernhardt (30 goals, 12 assists), and Logan Wisnauskis (26 goals, 6 assists). If Stanwick returns, Advantage: Hopkins.

Face-offs: The Blue Jays will feature Hunter Moreland who has won 61.4% of his draws. The Terps have a 2 headed approach in Justin Shockey (54.0%) and Austin Henningsen (48.3%) will go with the best matchup. This feels like advantage Blue Jays. But Moreland will most likely see plenty of both Terps with a lot of goals being scored. So fatigue could be a factor late in the game.

Style of Play: Both teams have a methodical half-court offense. The Terps like to start fast, jump out to early leads and coast the rest of the way. Hopkins is just the opposite in which they start slow, often giving up big, first half leads. Only to make great adjustments in the 2nd half to outplay and overcome their competition. Will be interesting to see if Hop can slow the Terps down in the 1st half to stay in the game, and if the Terps can thwart the inevitable Blue Jay run in the 2nd half.

Goaltending: Hopkins' Brock Turnbaugh allows 9.8 goals per game, saving at 49.8%. Brock seems great at saving shots on the doorstep, but tends to miss the long range bombs (like those that will be unleashed by the Terps' Connor Kelly). Maryland's Dan Morris allows 8.8 goals per game, saving at 53.8%. Dan Morris' save percentage appears just above average, but he tends to shine late in games when the big saves need to be made. Advantage: Terps.

Man-Up/Man-Down: The Terps EMO is ranked 2nd in the NCAA, scoring on a blistering 63.8% of their chances. Hopkins is scoring on 37.8% of their extra man advantages, just above average. Maryland's Man-Down is ranked 9th in the NCAA only giving up extra-man goals 23.5% of the time. While the Blue Jays are allowing goals 35.9% of the time, just below average.

Intangibles/Outcome: Homewood FIeld should be electric with a near sell-out crowd on hand that will include plenty of representation for both teams. As noted before, I'm expecting both teams to score near their averages, meaning double-digit goals for both and a lot to cheer for. Both teams have played well in conference play and I think both were looking ahead to this week's game last weekend for good reason. After two "un-Hopkins"-like seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Blue Jays are back to prominence this year and poised to make some noise.

Meanwhile, the defending champs have been strong all year and have only 2 losses by a combined 3 goals. And both of those losses were at home as the Terps are perfect on the road. I think the Blue Jays will have a slight advantage on face-offs. But don't feel it will be enough as I see the Terps winning enough possessions and being the more efficient team on offense to take a 12-11 victory over the Blue Jays

Other Notable Games:

#8 Loyola vs Boston (Friday 4:30pm, Baltimore, MD, CBS SportsNetwork) - The Terriers, fresh off a big upset against #10 Bucknell in the Patriot League quarters, take on the host Greyhounds in the semis. Loyola won 23-9 when Boston traveled to Baltimore just a few weeks ago. Don't the Loyola will hang 20+ again on Boston, but they should win comfortably 14-8.

#11 Navy vs Lehigh (Friday 7:30pm, Baltimore, MD, CBS SportsNetwork) - The other Patriot League semi should be a more competitive affair. The Midshipmen took down the Mountain Hawks on the road in their first meeting 10-7 when Lehigh was ranked and fighting for first place in the league. Navy is on a roll winning their last 5 which started with that win against Lehigh. Look for the Midshipmen to continue the streak, but barely, winning 9-8 in a closer affair to face Loyola in the Patriot League finals on Sunday.

UMBC @ Vermont (Friday 7pm, Burlington VT) - The Dawgs are playing their best lacrosse of the season and good thing since they are playing for their tournament lives. But the Catamounts are on a mission this year and are very tough at home, losing to Virginia by just a goal last week. So I see a hungry Vermont team ending UMBC's season 9-6.

Towson vs Fairfield (Saturday 11am, Johnny U Stadium, Towson MD) - The Tigers are also fighting for their tournament lives, but will have an easier go of it facing the Stags who sit at the bottom of the CAA. Fairfield did take down Hofstra a few weeks ago, but that was a bright spot for them as they are 4-8 on the season. They usually do go down with a fight, but they do go down. And given Towson plays its toughest at home, I see the Tigers prevailing 10-7 and capturing either 2nd or 3rd seed in the CAA tournament.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

There will be only three weeks left to go when Matchday 36 of the English Premier League kicks off tomorrow morning and three weeks left for three teams to not only avoid relegation but also the loss of riches, valued in excess of $50 million, that accompanies the drop down to the Championship. Don’t forget about the Champions League semifinals second legs that will wrap up this week with Liverpool and Real Madrid both having one foot in the finals next month after successful first leg showings.

You can catch all of the Champions League action Tuesday and Wednesday live on FoxSports1 and the league action all weekend long across the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, April 28 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Stoke City @ Liverpool – Anfield, NBC Sports Network

Stoke City grabbed an early lead but were unable to hold on for what would have been an invaluable three points in their fight against relegation as Burnley equalized shortly after halftime to deny them all the points in a 1-1 draw. Sitting five points from safety, the Potters may just need all three points from each of their final three games if they are to have any hopes of avoiding the drop, starting with their trip to Anfield and a matchup with Liverpool, who were up 2-0 and cruising against West Brom before the Baggies scored twice in the games final eleven minutes to earn a point in a 2-2 draw.

Although an impressive result against the high flying Liverpool, it may be too little too late for West Brom as Swansea City now need only two points from their final four games to officially doom them to the Championship. Stoke is trying to avoid a similar fate and, despite never earning the three points they will need from their previous nine league trips to Anfield (L6 D3), might catch a break with Liverpool set to field a second string starting eleven as they again prioritize the Champions League and look to close out Roma on Wednesday after they steamrolled the Italian’s 5-2 in the first leg.

12:30pm – Chelsea @ Swansea City – Liberty Stadium, NBC

Chelsea booked their place in the FA Cup finals when they had little trouble getting past a Southampton side that, like Stoke City, looks increasingly doomed in the league although, just above the Potters in the table and still with a game in hand and therefore a slightly better chance of making up the four point gap with the seventeenth place Swans, whom they will face in two weeks, but who before then will host the Blues at the Liberty Stadium as they look to bounce back after being run over by Manchester City as they celebrated their title in front of their faithful with a 5-0 thumping.

After falling ten points back of fourth place Tottenham only two weeks ago, a spot in next seasons Champions League looked well and gone for Chelsea until wins from their last two times out in the league while Tottenham left five of a possible six points on the table allowed the Blues to cut that gap in half and give them a fighting chance over the seasons final weeks. With wins in the last two meetings with the Swans and only one loss from their thirteen all time Premier League encounters (W8 D4), they will be confident of staying on Spurs heels and keeping their slim hopes of a top four finish alive.

Sunday (all times eastern), April 29

11:30am – Arsenal @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC Sports Network

Two decades at Arsenal will come to an end for Arsene Wenger in a few weeks, as their longtime skipper will step down at the end of the season.

Chelsea’s opponent in next months final will be longtime nemesis and former manager Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, who set up the mouthwatering clash when they came from a goal down to beat the scuffling Tottenham 2-1. They will renew one of the oldest rivalries in the league when they welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford late Sunday morning with the Gunners getting four second half goals to help them cruise past West Ham United 4-1, however the result was overshadowed by the news a few days before that longtime manager Arsene Wenger will be stepping down at the end of the year.

While there is no denying the Frenchmen’s accomplishments during his near twenty-two year reign in the capitol – which included three Premier League titles, seven FA Cup triumphs, and ten major trophies won – after finishing outside of the top four for a second year in a row, something that did not happen in his first twenty seasons in charge, and the club headed in the wrong direction the last several years a change was necessary. They are miles away from challenging for the league title or even a spot in the top four on a consistent basis and a rebuild will be in the cards for whoever his replacement will be.

April 26
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issue 26
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ravens have lots of holes to fill in this draft

It’s proper and reasonable to be excited about tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft.

The odd pick aside – Breshad Perriman and Matt Elam come to mind most recently – the Ravens’ first round selection is almost sure to become a household name within a year or two.

If you came by these parts yesterday, you saw the consensus pick at #16 is Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. I went against that trend and tabbed Marcus Davenport as the Ravens selection in the first round, in case you didn’t visit #DMD on Wednesday.

But there’s more than just tonight’s selection.

The Ravens will be working hard tonight to make a selection with more value than the one they made in the first round in 2015.

In fact, Friday and Saturday are vitally important to the Ravens in 2018 and beyond.

They clearly need to draft at least one tight end, if not two.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a center.

And a couple of wide receivers would be smart, too.

There's even a train of thought that says the Ravens wouldn't be completely out of line to take a quarterback in one of the first few rounds. This is a distinctly top-heavy draft for quarterbacks and it's looking more and more like Joe Flacco's time in Baltimore will end before this decade does.

Not that we’re keeping score or anything, but I thought it would be fun to take a guess at all of the Ravens’ draft picks over the next three days. Let’s see how I do:

1st round, #16 – Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio, DE/OLB

2nd round, #52 – D.J. Chark, LSU, WR

3rd round, #83 – Mark Andrews, Oklahoma, TE

4th round, #118 – Mason Cole, Michigan, C

5th round, #154 – Marcus Allen, Penn State, S

6th round, #190 – Dalton Schultz, Stanford, TE

6th round, #215 – Dylan Cantrell, Texas Tech, WR

7th round, #238 – Christian Sam, Arizona State, LB

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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.

seven points from last night's 8-4 o's loss to tampa bay

1. There's not much to say about Alex Cobb and his start to the season. It's clear by now he needed more time to get ready. This is still extended spring training for him. I put this more on management than Cobb himself.

2. The injury to Tim Beckham means the O's will need to find a third baseman. Beckham is going to miss six weeks. I guess Danny Valencia inherits the job for now but that's not a long term answer there.

This picture was taken just prior to the first pitch of last night's O's game at Camden Yards.

3. It was good to see Anthony Santander get a hit last night but he continues to be overwhelmed at the big league level. It's a shame the Orioles can't call up Joey Rickard from Norfolk. He is hitting the cover off the ball down there.

4. I saw Drew noted on Twitter last night that the crowd of 8,730 at last night's game marked the third time this season the team has drawn less than 10,000 people to a game. That has to be concerning to the Orioles front office.

5. The O's are now 6-18 on the season. Their run differential (-54) is second worst in the majors.

6. Is there any chance at all the O's would fire Buck Showalter if this slide continues for another couple of weeks? If they're not planning on bringing him back next year why would you keep him around during a bad losing spell like this?

7. Chance Sisco is the O's catcher of the future. Let him play 5 times a week now. That's my opinion.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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

The NFL Draft might be the most over hyped event in all of sports, but there's no doubt that it's an extremely important one for the league's 32 franchises. Even if it's value as a spectator event is wildly overstated.

And while every draft is important, this year's edition is extremely crucial to the Ravens and could set up a seismic shift in the team's future.

It doesn't get a lot of attention because the most visible parts of the franchise are so consistent, but the Ravens are very much on a precipice with their current roster. Key players are getting older and less explosive, their franchise quarterback has been one of the worst starters in the league since 2015, and for the most part the front office has avoided any major shakeups to the team's foundation, opting instead to hope in house improvement would get the team back to the postseason for just the second time since Super Bowl 47.

A major cause of the problem is a string of bad drafts. Though expert analysts continue to give Ozzie Newsome strong grades in their immediate reactions, there's been a severe disconnect between draft day assumptions and on field production, especially with players picked in the first three rounds.

It's not that the Ravens haven't made any good picks recently, or even found some real studs. But they've had too many complete misses as well.

The biggest problem is a horde of second and third round picks who just haven't produced at a level to justify those picks.

Guys like Arthur Brown, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kafusi, Terrance Brooks, and Maxx Williams simply haven't done enough to help the team win, and you can't pick that many non factors in the first three rounds and expect to paper over the talent drain forever.

And even Brandon Williams struggled to get on the field in his rookie season. Last year was more of the same, as Marlon Humphrey was good but Tyus Bowser, Tim Williams, and Chris Wormley all played sparingly.

They simply can't afford more of the same. They need to find good players this year, and good players who can fill roles immediately.

It doesn't have to be Calvin Ridley, or Derwin James, any other particular player.

They don't even have to stay put at the 16th pick.

They just need to find guys who can get on the field and help them win this year.

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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.

Today is the first day of Ozzie Newsome’s final NFL draft as the Ravens’ General Manager and Executive Vice President. Though he wasn’t officially promoted to GM until 2002, he’s overseen the team’s draft process since the beginning. This will be Year 23.

It’s been a remarkable career in professional football for Newsome, a first-round draft pick of the original Cleveland Browns in 1978. After a Hall of Fame and record-setting career at tight end, he joined Art Modell’s front office and then made the move to Baltimore in 1996.

He was the NFL’s first African-American general manager, an important accomplishment that’s been overwhelmed by the successes of his teams through the years. This will be Year 41. As he embarks on his final year in command, Ozzie Newsome is the franchise.

Tonight marks the final first round selection in the storied draft history of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. He's made every first round pick for the franchise since 1996.

The original owner, mired in debt, sold the team long ago. Three coaches in 23 seasons is pretty good, and to be admired, but Ozzie, the guy who picks the players, has been there all along.

The best player in team history has now been retired long enough to be an inductee into the Hall of Fame himself. Ozzie and staff drafted a legitimate franchise quarterback, but he isn’t John Elway or Peyton Manning.

This is Ozzie’s team, which is kind of strange to say about a man whom you barely ever see or hear. Maybe that’s a good thing — see Jones, Jerry. Ozzie seems content to go about his job of evaluating football players.

Considering all that, I don’t think he’ll do anything different for his final first-round draft pick than he’s done before. The Ravens are going to pick the best available player according to them, with “them” being a whole lot of guys who learned the business under Ozzie.

Or, if they trade the No. 16 pick, they’ll pick the best available player according to them, whenever they do pick.

The choice of Joe Flacco at No. 18 in the first round in 2008 marks an interesting breaking point in the Ravens’ first-round history, however.

Including the Delaware quarterback, the marks for Newsome’s first 15 first-round picks were downright sensational. Only three of them qualified as disappointments — receivers Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton and quarterback Kyle Boller— but even they played significant roles for the team. They were on the field at least, whether you always wanted them there or not.

It’s been the last seven first-round choices, the ones after Flacco, that have been the subject of so much agita. They’ve been the ones that have some people happy that Newsome is giving up his duties to Eric DeCosta after this season.

Michael Oher. Jimmy Smith. Matt Elam. C.J. Mosley. Breshad Perriman. Ronnie Stanley. Marlon Humphrey.

Forget about Ogden and Lewis, Reed and Suggs. There isn’t even a Ben Grubbs or Haloti Ngata in there, at least not yet.

Oher looked like he could be a stud for years. The Ravens didn’t draft him because his story was famous; they thought he was an athletic freak for a guy his size. He was good at the beginning, but simply didn’t improve as a Raven, a fact that became obvious the minute he left the team. Is that Newsome’s fault?

Smith has only played 16 games twice in seven years with the team. He’s been on injured reserve three times and been suspended for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Nobody questions his talent, though. His choice in the first round was absolutely legitimate; he’s certainly not a “miss” by any stretch.

Elam was, and so is Perriman. The wide receiver from UCF has poor hands, not something you can really improve in the NFL. In Newsome’s defense, though, both those players were taken late, 32nd and 26th respectively, the year after the Ravens had successful playoff-bound seasons.

As for Mosley, he’s been in the Pro Bowl three times in four seasons; he’s not Ray Lewis, but who is ever going to be Ray Lewis? Stanley is bound for Pro Bowls in his career, maybe even this year. Humphrey acquitted himself well when he started for the injured Smith, and his off-the-field issues in the offseason seem like a whole lot of nothing.

So that’s two misses out of seven, and those two came with picks late in the first round. Perhaps those weren’t so much “mistakes” as they were examples of how different drafts have different levels of depth. Or maybe they’re examples of how many players drafted in the third (Brandon Williams, for instance) or fourth rounds aren’t that far away from low first rounders.

Speaking of the lower rounds, it’s become fashionable in this information age to start comparing teams against each other when it comes to finding those diamonds in the rough. Last year is a good example: In the second round, the Ravens chose Tyus Bowser, the outside linebacker from Houston, with the 47th overall pick. Fifteen picks later, the Steelers chose JuJu Smith-Schuster, the wide receiver from USC.

In a crowded group of linebackers, Bowser had trouble finding the field, and he didn’t look so great when he did. In a standout group of receivers, Smith-Schuster had no trouble finding the field, and he looked pretty good despite being the youngest player in the NFL.

The NFL Draft isn’t a football game, though. It’s not a competition between two teams where the better team wins. At the top of the draft, a team might trade up to grab a player they feel might be already gone if they don’t make the deal. In general, though, the draft is about teams making themselves better.

I don’t blame the Ravens for not taking Smith-Schuster when they had the chance; it’s possible they had a few wide receivers listed ahead of him anyway. The Ravens, correctly, weren’t thinking about how their decision would affect the Steelers.

By the time a team gets to the second round, with the possible exception of a quarterback, most teams are going to take the best player available according to them. Even in the first round, that player isn’t always obvious, no matter how many mock drafts are published in the months beforehand.

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sharpie: caps will beat the penguins

I won’t use the “g” word – as in, “guarantee” – but I’m quietly confident this is the year the Caps finally turn the tables on the Penguins in the NHL playoffs.

Yes, Pittsburgh is 9-1 lifetime vs. the Capitals in post-season play. And, yes, the Penguins have defeated the Caps in each of the last two playoff campaigns en route to back-to-back NHL titles.

It has to end at some point, though, right? I mean, all of the dominance. Pittsburgh’s run of wins vs. the Caps and their Stanley Cup success has to stop one of these years.

The Caps need a big series from T.J. Oshie as they meet the Penguins in the playoffs for the third straight year starting tonight in D.C.

I think 2018 is the year.

Every morsel of information is important. Take for instance the absence of Pittsburgh scoring star Evgeny Malkin for tonight’s Game 1 in D.C. That’s a significant loss for the Penguins.

While Pittsburgh’s penalty killing was good in the regular season and outstanding in their first round series vs. Philadelphia, the Caps’ power play unit is a different animal. If the Penguins are going to take four penalties per game, they’re going to give up extra man goals. It’s that simple.

Washington’s defense wasn’t all that hot in the first half of the regular season, but the February acquisitions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek have not only improved the Caps’ defense, but taken some heat off of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen as well.

This Caps team will match up well physically with the Penguins. It’s all going to come down to the skill players from both teams.

Goaltending duties will be handled by Braden Holtby (Caps) and Matt Murray (Penguins). I can’t see either of the team’s back-ups getting a start in the series. Holtby was excellent in the final four games of the Columbus series while Murray was both hot (two shutouts) and cold (allowed more than four goals in two games) in the series vs. the Flyers.

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have played against one another 70 times in their respective careers (NHL, Olympics, World Championships, etc.) and Crosby has been on the winning team in 44 of those encounters. He scored 13 points in the six games vs. Philadelphia while Ovechkin notched goals in the Caps’ six game triumph over Columbus.

For the Caps to win, they’ll need guys like T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom to step up. Pittsburgh will counter with the likes of Malkin, once he’s available, plus Phil Kessel and Jake Guentzel.

I’d go as far as to say those three players on each team will decide the series. Match up the scoring totals at the end of the series and the trio with more points will be on the winning side.

And that, this time around, will be the Washington Capitals.

Here’s the game-by-game prediction.

Game 1: Penguins win 4-2

Game 2: Caps win, 5-4 OT (Oshie)

Game 3: Penguins win, 4-3

Game 4: Caps win, 4-3 OT (Ovechkin)

Game 5: Caps win, 3-2

Game 6: Caps win, 4-2

April 25
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issue 25
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general consensus: notre dame’s mcglinchey goes at #16

Two years ago, on the day of the 2016 NFL draft, word leaked out in the early afternoon that the Ravens were going to select offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley with the 6th pick – assuming he’d be there when it was their turn to select their first round player.

Last year, no one had any idea the Ravens were going to select Marlon Humphrey with their first pick at #16.

This year seems to be one of those occasions where an obvious selection – albeit perhaps a puzzling one – has materialized over the last week or so.

Whether it will be the common narrative of “best player on our board at the time” or a time-sensitive selection given the need to protect Joe Flacco for another year or two, the buzz around town is that the Ravens are zeroing in on Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey with their first round pick (#16) tomorrow night.

McGlinchey might not be the glitzy selection that someone like Calvin Ridley or Derwin James would be, but it’s become trendy for the Ravens to play safe on draft day, particularly in the first round.

Here’s what several Baltimore area media members predict will happen with the 16th pick in the first round tomorrow night. Note: These predictions are made assuming the Ravens are not going to trade out of the 16th pick.

Jeremy Conn, 105.7 radio -- Pick: Mike McGlinchey

Comment: “I would like them to trade back, and I think they could end up taking D.J. Moore if they trade back. But if they stay put, McGlinchey seems like the pick. Having McGlinchey and Stanley as your bookend tackles for the next few years could be nice building blocks. Selfishly, I want to see them draft a young explosive wide receiver.”

Bo Smolka, Press Box -- Pick: Mike McGlinchey

Comment: "McGlinchey could be the best available player when the Ravens are on the clock at 16 and fills a need on the offensive line if you assume James Hurst isn't the long-term answer. There is a more glaring need at TE, but the consensus is no TEs are top-16 talent. Ozzie Newsome has never been one to reach based on need, and in his last draft as GM, he's not about to start now."

If he's available at #16, a number of Baltimore media members figure the Ravens are going to select Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey on Thursday in the NFL Draft.

Tony Lombardi, Russell Street Report -- Pick: Mike McGlinchey

Comment: “The Ravens are in a tough spot that ultimately produces a pick that some will consider a slight reach. Ideally they will trade back, acquire a second, 3rd round pick and take D.J. Moore. But finding a trade partner will be a challenge and the pick will reluctantly be Mike McGlinchey.”

Scott Garceau, 105.7 radio -- Pick: Derwin James

Comment: “My hope is that the Ravens trade back and stock up on a few extra picks, but I think they’re going to try and solidify their defense and there are several guys who would be good fits, including Minkah Fitzpatrick, Tremaine Edmunds and the player that I think falls in their lap, Derwin James from Florida State.”

Glenn Clark, Glenn Clark Radio/Press Box -- Pick: Mike McGlinchey

Comment: “If I've learned anything about the Ravens, it's that I should assume they'll make the safest pick possible. McGlinchey fits the "best player available" mantra but I think the team should prioritize pass catching or pass rushing instead.”

Brien Jackson, Drew’s Morning Dish -- Pick: Mike McGlinchey

Comment: “A lot depends on who falls here. I think the Ravens would prefer to get Raquan Smith, Derwin James, or Calvin Ridley but I think they're all gone in the top 10 picks. The 6'8" McGlinchey immediately shores up their line by filling the RT hole, and he can fill in at LT when Ronnie Stanley misses games too.”

What do I think? It has some twists and turns, but follow along if you would, please.

I think the player the Ravens want the most is Derwin James. I heard that as far back as late December. He was always their “hot button guy”.

But unless they somehow trade up to beat out the Tampa Bay Bucs (#7), they’re not getting James. And there’s no history at all to suggest the Ravens are going to give up draft picks to move up ten spots and get a player. So let’s dismiss that idea…but they sure would love to see James there and available at #16.

I do not think the Ravens are enamored with Calvin Ridley. Sure, he went to Alabama, and that makes him a natural projection for the Ravens, but his combine numbers were more than enough to scare teams who otherwise might have had him as a top twenty pick. I do think they like D.J. Moore, the Maryland product, but they’re keenly aware of their draft failures at the wide receiver position. And the work they’ve done in the off-season – wide receiver wise – has taken a little bit of pressure off of the Ravens in terms of drafting a pass catcher in the first round.

Tight end is a much needed area of improvement/upgrade and there’s little doubt they’ll have to do it via the draft, but I don’t see anyone with enough quality to warrant a selection at #16.

If Baker Mayfield somehow lasts all the way to #16 would the Ravens take a quarterback with that choice? Maybe. But if Mayfield is somehow there, I think they’d be more likely to trade out of that pick and “give” the quarterback to someone else who needs one more than they do.

C’mon Drew, who are they going to take? Is that what you’re asking at this point?

OK, here goes.

I’ll waffle a bit and hedge my bets, because ultimately the player the Ravens choose at #16 will be predicated mostly on what happens between the 10th and 15th picks.

There are lots of people who think McGlinchey is going to go to Oakland with the tenth pick.

In that scenario, obviously, he wouldn’t be available to the Ravens at #16.

Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick will likely be gone by #16, but he would be an intriguing option for the Ravens if McGlinchey’s off the board.

My guess? Fitzpatrick will be gone by the 13th pick, at the latest.

Could Terrell Suggs' eventual replacement be Texas-San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport?

That leaves one other position of critical need for the Ravens that very well might have a high quality player available at #16: defensive end/outside linebacker.

I think the Ravens are going to wind up with either DE/OLB Marcus Davenport or rush end Harold Landry.

Landry is the smaller of the two and would primarily be a quarterback chaser only.

Davenport is more of a potential Terrell Suggs-clone who can work east and west plus chase the quarterback with great pursuit skills.

”We like players who touch the ball or touch the quarterback,” is one of those Ozzie-isms that should always be remembered on draft day, particularly in the first round.

The Ravens need impact players. Whether those are offensive impact players or defensive impact players, the Ravens just need good, solid, worthy investments.

McGlinchey might very well be the pick if he’s there at #16, but I’m going to guess he won’t be available to them in that spot.

If he’s gone, I’m going with Marcus Davenport as the selection at #16.

If both of them go before the 16th selection rolls around, Harold Landry (DE), Jaire Alexander (CB) or D.J. Moore (WR) could be the Ravens’ first round pick.

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the machado move: why it made sense and didn't make sense

I said last week I was hopefully going to get around to this thought at some point in the near future.

Today has become "near future".

With almost each passing day, I see social media light up with commentary on Manny Machado's move from third base to shortstop. Most of the stuff I see isn't complimentary to Machado.

When examining the pros and cons of the move, it's incumbent upon the person authoring the narrative to remember that Machado always held the upper hand in the scenario. He never really wanted to be a 3rd baseman in the first place. He was plugged in there because the Orioles already had a shortstop, J.J. Hardy, when he arrived on the scene in 2012.

So, knowing Hardy was going to be a free agent after the 2017 and assuming his decreasing value and age would likely lend itself to the Orioles not bringing him back, Machado -- in his mind -- was always going to step back to his more natural shortstop position in 2018.

Then, late last season, the O's acquired Tim Beckham from the Rays and everyone figured he'd step in as the team's new shortstop in 2018.

Machado, though, didn't "figure" that.

And in fairness to him, it's certainly not his fault the Orioles took a gamble on a player like Beckham, who is really more suited for a super-utility role and bat-off-the-bench than anything else.

Manny's a better player than Beckham. That's stating the obvious. No matter if he's at third, shortstop or serving as a DH for a day or two to take a break from the defensive grind, Machado is three times the player of Beckham.

Have the Orioles been any better defensively with Machado at shortstop than they would have been had he stayed at third base?

I'm not a "stats guy" and never will be. I've always been more about watching the game with my eyes and making assessments based on what I see. Beckham is not a good defensive player.

And I don't really care how he compares to others, either. Beckham is not a good shortstop. And he's not a good third baseman, either. And, if he played second base for 145 games a year, my guess is he'd wind up not being very good there, either.

Oh, and he's not all that hot with a bat in his hands. Sure, he had a bang-up month of August in 2017 when he first arrived on the scene, but anyone can make three birdies in four holes. Check back with me after the round and tell me how the other 14 holes went. Beckham's September performance a season ago -- and his start this year -- is the reason why Tampa Bay gave him away for some airline tickets and two coolers of sports drink powder.

So Machado, in his defense (no pun intended), knew Hardy's days were numbered in Baltimore and probably was right to assume he'd be the team's shortstop in 2018.

It's not Manny's fault the Orioles brought in another shortstop in the meantime.

And, yes, since defense in baseball still does matter, I'll always agree you want the better player at shortstop rather than third base.

That's all meant to say that Machado expected to take over the position when Hardy was gone and rightfully probably assumed the team's defense would be better with him being stationed there.

And had the Orioles gone out and picked up a real third baseman in the off-season, we wouldn't even be having this argument. Mike Moustakas was the obvious candidate, but no one really knew he'd sign for peanuts in March when he was out there asking for $85 million or more in January.

But they didn't sign Moustakas or anyone else with decent defensive ability at third base.

Once the Orioles agreed to the Machado-move-to-short, they were in a tough spot.

Reduce Beckham to a role player? There were already rumors that he had become a clubhouse problem in Tampa Bay when the Rays took him out of the everyday lineup.

Move him to third base? He stinks there, as we've seen already in less than a month of the regular season. That's not to say he'd always be a lousy third baseman, by the way. With time, his play might wind up being acceptable there. But a couple of months of fielding grounders in Florida isn't going to cut it.

As I tell my high school golf team all the time, nothing -- and I mean NOTHING -- replicates actual tournament golf. You can go out and play money matches or friendly games with your teammates and make everyone putt everything out, follow all the rules, etc., but there is no substitution for actually playing the "real" tournament.

The same goes for Beckham and the "art" of learning a new position. Just having a coach drive grounders at you four hours a day is all well and good, but it's not at all, in any way, the same as having those balls hit to you in a live game. There are too many other variables going on during the game (men on base, pitch count, hitter's tendencies, score of the game, etc.) that somehow connect to the way you're going to field your position.

So, moving Beckham to third base after Manny got his wish to move to shortstop was a bad move. Period. There's really no argument for that.

The argument, though, is this: Given that the club didn't sign a proven third baseman in the off-season, would the Orioles be better right now had Manny stayed at third and Beckham remained at shortstop?

I think that's a fair debate. Through the first month of the season, I don't see Manny playing the shortstop position any better or worse than he played third base. You can cite any fancy stats you want, but I don't see it -- with my eyes. I see him still making great plays and remarkable throws across his body. I see Machado as an outstanding shortstop. I saw him as an outstanding third baseman.

I understand Machado himself wanted to move to shortstop, but I don't see any obvious evidence that supports the idea he's somehow a "better" shortstop than third baseman.

And, yes, no matter what he says to the contrary, Manny essentially telling the team he's going to move to shortstop and then being moved there isn't the greatest look. It's not a great look for him and it's not a great look for the O's, particularly when they clearly had no real desire to do anything with the third base spot except give the job to an unprepared Tim Beckham.

It's one thing if the Orioles say to Machado, "We like that Moustakas kid. Given that we don't know what you're going to do in 2019 and beyond, we're going to go out and sign him this winter. Would you be OK with moving over to shortstop?"

If Machado would have pitched a fit over that decision -- and let's be honest, he's known for being petulant and moody at times -- you could have easily said to him, "This could all be avoided if you'd sign a long term deal with us. But since your agent has made it clear you want to test the free agent waters, we have to start planning for our future without you now."

Alas, the Orioles did it the other way.

They allowed Manny to control the situation.

Instead of deciding how they wanted their infield to look, they let Machado tell them how it would look.

And now, 23 games into the season, it looks like a regrettable scenario where only one guy -- Machado -- is benefitting from all of it.

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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 24
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issue 24
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about davis, buck and losing

I used to say this all the time when I was in the soccer business and the team would drop a few games in a row.

”The hardest thing to do in sports is to stop losing.”

There’s no manual for it.

You can’t bring in a guest speaker to talk about it with the team . Well, you can try that, but the only thing that fixes losing is winning.

A change of players or coaches works occasionally. But more times than not, those kind of moves are just window dressing, masking some other serious problem that’s at the root of the losing.

The Orioles are now 6-17 after last night’s 2-1 loss to the Indians.

There’s still 85% of the season remaining, and every team has an “up” period and a “down” period. But when you’re 11 games under .500, at any point in the season, you need to do some soul searching.

What’s the tonic for the O’s?

Is O's manager Buck Showalter starting to feel the heat of the team's 6-17 start?

Change the manager?

The Cincinnati Reds have already tried that. It’s not helping them. They lost with the old manager and they're losing with the new one, too.

I don’t think sending Buck Showalter down the road would do anything of note for the Orioles, either.

Change the players?

Some of that will happen naturally over the next couple of weeks. Jonathan Schoop will be back soon and we can assume Mark Trumbo’s disabled list stint will end within the next couple of weeks. Those two will help a beleaguered offense.

We hope, right?

Let’s be honest about the lineup, though. Even with Schoop and Trumbo back in there, the mission statement of the Orioles is pretty obvious: Hit home runs. Lots of them.

When they go through a stretch where the pitching match-ups are convenient and the temperatures reward the long ball, the Orioles might put together a couple of weeks of winning baseball.

But for those of you who say, “Wait until June and July when it gets hot and humid…those long fly balls will clear the fences”, you might want to remember the other team hits long fly balls that clear the fences in the summer as well.

And here’s the thing about a lineup that depends on home runs. If they’re not hitting the deep ball, they’re prone to going into a major funk, similar to what we're seeing from the O's through the first month of the 2018 campaign.

The Orioles are one-dimensional. They either hit four home runs and beat you or they lose.

So this woeful start to the season shouldn't be all that shocking. It's as much about roster compilation as it is anything else.

I do believe at some point the home runs will come and so will a bunch of wins, but baseball is a sport where six wins in ten games is typically followed by six losses in ten games.

The curious saga of Chris Davis rolled on last night with yet another 1-for-4 performance (which is actually pretty good for him…that’s a .250 average) and two more strikeouts, including a whiff in the bottom of the 9th with the game on the line.

Lots of people ask me what I think is wrong with Davis. I can’t say for certainty that I know, but one glaring issue with his offensive performance tells me something that I know others have also mentioned.

He strikes out "looking" far, far too much for a player of his supposed-caliber.

And to that, I say: I think there’s something going on mentally.

I don’t believe Davis has a swing flaw.

I equate lots of things in sports to golf. This is one of those occasions when golf connects with Davis and his woes.

What’s happened to Davis over the last couple of years is not in his swing. It’s mental. It’s in his head. And that’s why it’s not clearing up.

Have you ever faced a baseball thrown at you at 90 miles per hour?

Mired in a two year "slump", Chris Davis .169 after last night's 2-1 O's loss to the Indians.

If not, you have no idea how fast that little white thing comes at you. It's almost a miracle that anyone hits .300 in baseball. That a guy can actually get a base hit three out of every ten at bats -- given the velocity of the ball thrown at them -- is nothing short of sensational.

This is not an excuse for Davis. He gets paid $23 million a year to hit a baseball. He’s a professional. He should be able to handle a 90 or 95 mph fastball.

I bring up the speed and velocity issue to address the problem I think Davis is dealing with. If, in fact, he’s developed some sort of mental “yip” and he’s not able to see the ball quickly enough, that explains a lot about his woes at the plate.

I’ve never seen a quality hitter (insert your pun here) look at so many strike threes as Davis does – and has for the better part of two seasons now.

And how many times do you see Davis look at a ball right down the middle of the plate, only to see him turn to the umpire as if to say, "Dude, no way that's strike three"?

Power hitters strike out all the time. But they typically are swinging and missing when doing so.

Davis gets caught looking at strike three more than anyone I can remember.

And that, to me, smells of something that isn’t a swing flaw. How can you have a “swing flaw” if you’re not actually swinging?

Sure, he does swing and miss a lot. No doubt about that. And when he does, he's almost always "late". He's rarely ever out ahead of the ball, which is typically one of those "he guessed wrong" moments. Davis isn't picking the ball up quickly enough for some reason.

Golfers develop putting “yips”. It’s a misfiring of the wiring in your brain that restricts or prohibits you from making a functional putting stroke.

Davis has something similar going on, I believe. What’s happening with him is not about his “swing”. He has another issue of some kind that’s keeping him from picking up the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand.

And by the time he does pick it up – all it takes is a blip of a second to be “off” – the ball is into the strike zone and past him.

There could be some other issues bothering Davis, too, including the defensive shift which has been used against him throughout most of the last three seasons.

But I’d bet anything that there’s a “wiring issue” in his head that’s similar to a golfer with the yips.

He just looks at too many good pitches for this to be a simple “slump”.

And let’s mention one final thing about Buck Showalter while we’re dissecting this woeful Orioles start.

There are people “in the know” who contend the players are not enamored with the way Showalter is being treated by the organization. Buck is managing this 2018 campaign without a contract for next season, an almost unheard of show of disrespect for someone who has engineered three playoff appearances since 2012.

”No one is intentionally tanking it,” says one team associate. “But there are guys who are really frustrated with the organization’s lack of support for Buck. That might be carrying over in some fashion to either the way they prepare on a daily basis or the way they focus during a losing streak.”

There’s no doubt Showalter is popular in the clubhouse. And players, being human and all, definitely have the ability to wear their heart on their sleeves when it comes to something as sensitive as the manager being hung out to dry in a lame-duck situation.

”This might not get any better,” the team associate contends. “This could be one of those things that becomes a dividing issue between management and the team on the field.”

And so the Birds welcome in Tampa Bay and Detroit for the next six home games. If they can't win at least half of those between now and next Sunday, something is really, really wrong.

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caps send blue jackets to the golf course with the flyers

Not to brag or anything – and since I didn’t “bet it”, who cares, really? – but I did say here at #DMD when the Caps lost the first two games at home to Columbus that I thought they’d come back and win the series.

I never thought the Blue Jackets had the quality to beat the Caps four times in seven games.

And with last night’s 6-3 win at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets couldn’t even beat the Caps three times in six games. Washington’s 4-2 series triumph sends them to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they’ll take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Caps netminder Braden Holtby will face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third straight playoff campaign when the two teams start their best-of-7 series later this week in D.C.

Yes, those Penguins…the same ones who eliminated the Caps a year ago with a 2-0 victory in Game 7 in D.C.

Yes, the same Penguins who have routinely eliminated the Capitals in post-season play. The two teams have met ten times in the playoffs: Pittsburgh is 9-1 in those series’.

It seems like a poor match-up for the Caps.

It’s not.

I’m not dumb enough to guarantee a series win for the Capitals. Pittsburgh has everything the Caps don’t. They’ve won Stanley Cup trophies. They have the sport’s best player. They’re winners. The Caps, since 1974, have been losers.

But if you gave me $1,000 of your money and told me to wager for it you, I’d bet on the Caps. And I wouldn’t be making that bet with my heart. I think this is the year the Caps turn the tables and beat Pittsburgh.

I doubt they can beat Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals (once they beat either Boston or Toronto), but that’s OK. If the Caps beat Pittsburgh, that’s a significant accomplishment for Alex Ovechkin and Company.

If the Penguins watched the series with Columbus, they’ll know this much about the Capitals: If you give them power play opportunities, they’re going to beat you.

The Blue Jackets never seemed to figure that out. They kept getting dumb penalties and the Caps kept stacking up the power play goals against them.

If Pittsburgh stays out of the penalty box, their chances of beating the Caps increase dramatically. But if they swallow the same stupid pill that the Blue Jackets ingested, the Caps will punish them with the extra man.

Goaltending will be critical in the Caps-Penguins series. Can Braden Holtby – after a few days of rest – resume his outstanding play from the final four games of the Columbus series? If so, he can carry the Caps all on his own.

And can the Capitals rattle Pittsburgh netminder Matt Murray, who was both great and suspect in their 4-2 series win over Philadelphia? If the Caps can get him unnerved, they have an excellent chance of advancing past the Penguins.

Ultimately, the series will hinge on the play of the team's two superstars, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Ovechkin was terrific in the Columbus series minus a game one snoozer and Crosby was his usual excellent self in the Pens' win over the worst franchise in the history of sports.

I assume Ovechkin is tired of losing to Crosby in the playoffs.

Hopefully he can do something about it this time around.

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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

The Other Guys: Let's review the local teams fighting for their tournament lives.

Towson 13 - Delaware 7 - After playing to an even 6-6 score after 3 quarters, the Tiger offense exploded for 7 goals in the 4th, led by Jean-Luc Chetner with 4 goals and 1 assist.

Alex Woodall dominated the face-off X, winning 22 of 24, which earned him CAA player of the week honors. Towson is now in a 3 way tie for 2nd place in the CAA before the final regular season game against last place Fairfield this Saturday. The Tigers control their own CAA tournament destiny, but won't be hosting the tourney for the first time in a few years.

UMBC 8 - Hartford 3 - Make it 3 in a row for the defensive-minded Retrievers who've held their last two opponents to 5 goals total. Tommy Lingner continues his impressive run in the cage making 9 saves while Billy Nolan (3 goals) and Steven Zichelli (1 goal, 2 assists) paced UMBC's offense. The Dawgs are now tied for 3rd in the America East conference with Vermont whom they play in the season finale this weekend. A win against the Catamounts and the Retrievers are in the conference tournament.

St. Joseph's 14 - Mount Saint Mary's 7 - The NEC leading Hawks made their most of their senior day taking down the Mount and effectively ending their post-season chances. Mount St. Mary's will try to finish the season on a high note taking on last place Wagner at home this Saturday.

Other Notable Games:

Navy 13 - Syracuse 12 - In one of the best games of the weekend, the Midshipmen scored 2 goals in the final 10 seconds of the game to get that statement win against the Orange.

Navy face-off specialist Joe Varello gets the best of his younger brother, Syracuse face-off main Danny Varello, winning 16 of 27 draws and scoring the game winner with 1 second remaining to complete the improbable comeback. The Midshipmen capture 2nd seed in the Patriot League tournament and could have sealed an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney.

Loyola 12- Army 8 - The Greyhounds jumped out to a 7-2 1st half lead and never looked back. Loyola had 7 different goal scorers with none of them coming from Tewaarton candidate Pat Spencer, who was held to just 2 assists. However, defender Foster Huggins continued to be a force with 6 ground balls and 4 caused turnovers. The Greyhounds earn the #1 seed and will host the Patriot League tournament.

Johns Hopkins 10 - Michigan 9 - Brock Turnbaugh came up with 11 saves in one of their better defensive efforts of the season while Joel Tinney (2 goals, 4 assists) and Kyle Marr (4 goals) led the Blue Jay offense. However, the normally potent JHU offense seemed to be missing their QB Shack Stanwick, who will certainly be needed next week. But the win puts Hopkins into a tie for 1st with a chance to become the 1st seed in the B1G tournament.

Ohio State 12 - Maryland 10 - The Terps have been squeaking out wins in the competitive B1G, but couldn't do so on Sunday as the Buckeyes controlled the face-off X, out-hustled the Terps on groundballs 27-16 and solved the Terps D for the win. Connor Kelly continues to shine for the Terps. He scored 4 goals in the loss. Perhaps Maryland was looking ahead to next Saturday's matchup with Johns Hopkins in what will determine the top seed in the conference tournament.

The Final Four:

1) Duke - Danowski continues to have the Blue Devils peaking at the right time.

2) Yale- Impressive win against the former #1 Albany. But as UMBC proved, the Great Danes are vulnerable without Connor Fields.

3) Maryland - Chalk up the Terps defeat to peaking ahead to Saturday's date with their interstate rivals.

4) Cornell - Probably the most dangerous team and most explosive offense.

Outside Looking In: Denver, Loyola, Bucknell, Hopkins, Albany (depending on Connor Fields injury)

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April 23
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issue 23
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the best sports morning of the year

Welcome, as the headline says, to the absolute best sports morning of 2018.

Since I can’t see the Orioles winning the World Series next October – and if the Ravens win the 2018 Super Bowl that morning would come in 2019 – this, by far, will represent the morning that brings a smile to my face more than any other in this calendar year.

It goes something like this:

Four guys are in a car, heading to the golf course. The company they work for has a traditional golf game that's now in its 42nd consecutive year. Someone has to keep up the tradition and these are the four employees who, this April, have taken it upon themselves to carry it out.

The sun is out. It’s a somewhat unseasonal April morning, but still nice enough that all the men need are long pants, a golf shirt and a light jacket.

”I’m tired,” says the guy in the right front passenger seat.

”Me too,” says the driver. “But I couldn’t sleep. I figured this would be a great way to burn off some energy. That’s why I texted you guys last night to see if you wanted to play this morning.”

”I hurt my right shoulder yesterday,” says the guy in the back right passenger seat. “I don’t even know if I can swing a club.”

Somewhere in Southern Pennsylvania today...

”Come on man,” says the man to his left. “You’re always complaining about some kind of ache or pain. Suck it up.”

The car enters the freeway. The sports talk station lights up with callers chiming in about the local team losing a game the day before.

”Turn that off, bro,” says the oldest of the foursome, the guy in the front right passenger seat.

”All those people do is complain,” he adds.

The driver turns the radio off.

There’s silence for the next ten minutes.

Finally, someone speaks again.

”I’m not expecting much today,” the youngest of the crew says from his seat behind the driver. “I haven’t touched a club since mid-January when we all went to Florida for a few days.”

”Sometimes that’s when you play your best golf,” the driver counters.

They pull into the clubhouse parking lot. It’s relatively empty, but a young man pulls up with a golf cart that has a flatbed attachment on the back.

”Good morning men, welcome to Stonewall Golf Club,” he says. “I’ll grab your clubs and throw them on here and they’ll be ready for you on the range whenever you make it up to the practice range.”

”Thanks,” says the driver. He goes to hand the club employee a folded up $10 bill but he’s denied.

”No need for that,” the man loading the bags says in polite refusal.

The four walk into the clubhouse to grab a coffee.

They’re greeted by the head golf professional.

”This is a double edged sword,” the pro says with his right hand out in greeting.

”I know,” says one of the men who was in the car. He forces a smile but there's a definite slice of glum in the air.

”I mean, I always enjoy having you guys play here…you know that,” the golf pro states. “I was just kind of hoping it wouldn’t be today. Under these circumstances.”

The men share a few minutes of small talk and then bid farewell as they head to the practice range.

After about fifteen minutes of warm up, two caddies approach the practice area.

”Mr. Giroux, you guys are on the tee next,” says one of the caddies.

The four men introduce themselves to the caddies.

”You guys had a really good season, Mr. Voracek, nothing at all to be ashamed of,” says the other caddie as he cleans off a set of irons.

As the six men walk to the first tee, Wayne Simmonds stops and says, “I always hate this day. It’s over so quickly. One minute you’re in the playoffs, fighting for your life, and the next minute, you’re on the first tee playing golf.”

And when the opening tee shot from Scott Laughton sails down the fairway and lands softly on the freshly cut grass, the off-season of the Philadelphia Flyers is officially underway.

It's now 42 years and running since the worst franchise in the history of sports won the Stanley Cup.

Yesterday, in their own building, the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Penguins by the final score of 8-5.

The off-season is underway today for the likes of Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton and the rest of those bums.

This, without question, is the best morning we’ll find, anywhere, in 2018.

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George McDowell

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

lightning in a bottle

In my early teens I was diagnosed with an rare medical condition. A second opinion and even a third confirmed that I was indeed a subcanineophiliac, which, literally translated from the Latin/Greek, means lover of the underdog. The condition is incurable.

My fellow sufferers and I are doomed to lifetimes of disappointment, manifesting in the world of sports, where persons and teams deemed strong favorites almost universally prevail in their events and games.

David with the Head of Goliath, painted by the Italian artist Caravaggio in 1610. The piece now hangs in the Galleria Borghese in Rome.

There are times, however, when we so afflicted are suffused with great joy. I was born just a few years too late to see David plunk Goliath in the face with a rock launched from his sling then leisurely sever the stunned giant’s head with his own sword. But I read the story in I Samuel over and over, and was so delighted by it that it didn’t until recently occur to me to question how an agent of God could in any circumstance be considered an underdog.

There is, in modern philosophical circles, a proposition gaining some credence that asserts that everything that happens is [and was] inevitable, and that it is only because of the inability of humans to identify and understand the factors that lead to the inevitable results that we were/are unable to predict them.

If this is principle is valid, then there was a lot of inability going around in 1963 just before what was then called the men's NCAA University Division Basketball Tournament. There were two dominant teams in the field of 25 that competed for the championship – Duke, coached by the legendary Vic Bubas, and Cincinnati, which had won the previous two national titles. In the Final Four semi-finals, a lightly regarded Loyola-Chicago team surprised Duke, 94-75, while Cincinnati destroyed Oregon State, 80-46.

As expected in the Final, Duke started stong and built a big lead over the Loyolas. With ten ninutes to go, they were up by 16. This was the no-shotclock-era, and Duke decided to sit on its lead. Loyola pressed and harrassed the Duke ballhandlers, forcing turnover after turnover, and they scored each time they got their hands on the ball. Duke nearly held on, but a Loyola tip-in at the buzzer forced overtime. Another buzzer-beater in overtime gave Loyola the championship, 60-58, driving us subcanineophiliacs into paroxysms of ecstacy and tears of joy.

No caption needed.

The 1966 Orioles went into the World Series as tremendous underdogs to a powerful Dodger team led by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. In the first game in LA, the Os scored three runs in the top of the first. Not even the sickest subcanineophiliac could imagine that those three runs were more than the mighty Dodgers would score in all four games of the Series. Those were five heady days in October of 1966 as we sickos waited nervously for a hammer that never dropped. The elation of the underdog's victory was magnified a hundredfold because the Orioles were our home team.

#DMD's intrepid leader, the eponymous Drew, often describes instances of what we subcanineophiliacs crave as lightning in a bottle. This simile [or maybe it's a metaphor – I'm never sure] paints a vivid mental picture of a presumptively impossible occurence, and thus describes the essence of our disease. I find it remarkable, and here so remark, that there has been to date no mention at all in the Morning Dish of an occurence on Monday last that was so implausible that it boggles even unbalanced minds — a stark example of lightning caught in a bottle: an amateur nearly won the Boston Marathon!

Congratulations to Sarah Sellers, the 26-year-old nurse anesthetist from Arizona who ran down and passed all but one runner [Women's Division winner Desiree Linden] in an elite international field of 12,063 women.

Sarah Sellers

As Nurse Sellers raced down Beacon St. past the Buckminster Hotel and Fenway Park toward her right turn onto Commonwealth Ave., the temperature was 31 degrees. As she raced due east on Commonwealth toward her penultimate turn, right onto Hereford St., The New York Times reported that the rain was coming down in buckets and wind gusts as high as 32 mph pushed the raindrops horizontally. As she turned left onto Boyleston St. for the three-and-a-half block stretch run to the Finish Line in front of the Boston Public Library, she had no earthly idea only one female competitor had this year preceded her.

When a race official told her that she had finished second, she thought he was speaking of an age division – it wasn't even in her mind that she could have finished second over all.

Nor should the possibility have been in her mind. Sellers ran for her alma mater, Weber State in Utah, but her distances were the 5,000 meters (three miles) and the 10,000 meters. She was several times selected as an all-conference runner, but had never been awarded All-American status. In her junior year (she thought!) a broken bone in her foot ended her competitive career.

After graduation and training as a nurse with a specialty in anesthesiology, she married and settled in Tucson. She works 10-hour shifts at Banner-University Medical Center. Her foot injury healed, enabling her to take up competitive running again. Her International Amateur Athletics Foundations webpage has one entry, listing a personal best for 10 kilometers of 35:33 in October, 2016. [This time is more than six minutes slower than the women's world record.]

Last May, when her brother qualified for the Boston Marathon, he challenged her to run in it with him. In order to qualify, Sellers had to post an official time in a sanctioned marathon acceptable to the Boston Athletic Association, which manages the event. She took Sundays off and trained the other six days, running either at 4:00 am before she went to work, or at 8:00 pm when she got off. In September she won the Huntsville [Utah] Marathon in a time that would allow her to start in Boston with a group that included the elite women marathoners of the world.

Sarah arrived in Boston with no goals or expectations and only a slight hope that her time would earn her an invitation to Olympic trials for the U.S. team. Since there were still several days before the race and the weather was rotten in Boston, she and her husband rented a car and drove up to Maine for some mountain biking.

Sarah wasn't offered a ride to the race's Starting Line in Hopkinton in the luxury motor-coaches with the elite runners. Perhaps a good thing. It would have been tough to confess to the best in the world that she had run exactly one prior marathon!

The weather pounded the runners unmercifully. The men's winner, Yuki Kawauchi, finished 12 minutes over the course record in a time slower than all winning times back to 1971. Desiree Linden, who won the women's race, finished in a time almost 20 minutes slower than the course record set four years ago in good weather. But the runners weren't racing the clock, they were racing each other, and racing on the same course at the same time and in the same spring storm. And Nurse Sarah Sellers hung tougher than all but one of the best runners in the world!

Thank you, Sarah, for this latest respite, albeit only brief, from the ravages of our disease.

The 1869 painting by French artist Luc-Olivier Merson depicts Athenian courier Pheidippides who, after the Greeks defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, was dispatched to inform the city's leaders of the victory. This probably apocryphal legend has Pheidippides delivering the joyful news that peace was at hand, then collapsing and dying from exhaustion.

Another legend, perhaps also apocryphal, has it that Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, so admired the work that he created a race to be run in the games that would honor the run of Pheidippides.

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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?

Local Edition


Dylan Bundy

The fun thing about watching Dylan Bundy is that he’s actually living up to the hype. It just took him longer than most, through no fault of his own.

When he was 18, Bundy was supposed to be a guy who was well ahead of his age in terms of both talent and command. Billy Beane is adamant that high school pitchers are always a questionable choice, even ones picked high in the draft, but most scouts said Bundy was different.

O's ace Dylan Bundy had another effective start on Friday night as the Birds won the series opener over Cleveland, 3-1.

Considering his talents, especially his ability to get hitters out with both hard stuff and breaking balls, it’s not surprising that Bundy’s gotten to this point in his third full year. He’s had nearly 300 innings of work, and he’s now seen what he needs to do to get Major League hitters out.

He has to use all of his pitches. He has to rely on his defense, even this season when it’s not so great. He has to be able to fight through having a mediocre day to keep his team in the game anyway.

Now, he has to be the guy who leads the pitching staff.

Bundy is the kind of pitcher who’s a candidate to throw a no-hitter every time he takes the mound. He’s also the kind of pitcher who’s able to be successful without throwing a lot of ground balls, and he’s only allowed one home run so far this season.


Ravens’ 2018 schedule

When the Ravens’ (and every other team’s) schedules were announced on Thursday, we started doing some planning. Many were happy that there are no home games at night, though that’s subject to change with “flex” scheduling later in the season.

Some of us even started to do the whole game-by-game win/loss thing, which is fun, if somewhat ridiculous.

Otherwise, we learned nothing, at least no more than we knew on December 31 when the team’s 2018 opponents were set. The order in which you play the games doesn’t really start to matter until you take stock of the injuries, results and other woes that won’t happen until the games actually begin.

It is unfortunate that the Ravens are one of the few teams to have three straight road games, at Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Tennessee in Weeks 4, 5 and 6, but the stretch of three straight home games in November, with a bye after the Pittsburgh rematch in Week 9, is a pretty good balance to that.

This is the ninth year in a row that Week 17 in the NFL features intra-divisional matchups. Considering the rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens, it’s interesting that the league has never scheduled the teams for the final weekend in those nine years. One of the two matchups per year is usually “reserved” for an NBC Sunday night, but you’d think the other might be fun at season’s end.



Today’s the day when guarantees will be tested.

On Saturday, after his team lost in overtime to the Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella guaranteed that his team will return to Washington for a Game 7 on Wednesday.

Can Alex Ovechkin and the Caps eliminate Columbus tonight and meet up with Pittsburgh again in the NHL playoffs?

Following Game 2, when the Capitals fell behind 2-0 in the series after losing in overtime, Alex Ovechkin also had a prediction. He guaranteed that his team would return to D.C. having tied the series.

If Ovie was right on with his boasts, won’t Tortorella be too? Guarantees always work, right?

Looking at it from the outside, I could see why Tortorella would be high on his team’s chances to win Game 6 at home. The Blue Jackets have put together quite a few stretches in the series where they’ve dominated the Caps, including the third period Saturday when they outshot Washington 16-1.

It sure feels like Tortorella’s team has hit the post a lot in this series. They’ve also been “unlucky” to have witnessed the return of Braden Holtby after his late-season slump. The Capitals have scored some ugly goals.

I see no reason why Game 6 won’t go to overtime. Or, maybe the Blue Jackets will respond to their coach’s challenge with a convincing victory. Whatever the case, I still see the Capitals winning the series if it comes back to Washington for Game 7.


Camden Yards

Want to know a good indicator that a team is bad? Look at the results at home. If you can’t win there, you probably can’t win anywhere.

The Orioles have played nine games this season at Camden Yards and scored only 18 runs. That’s Camden Yards, the place where pitchers go to die, sea level version. That’s Camden Yards, the place where the left-centerfield fence says 364 feet but that’s always been pretty questionable.

Buck Showalter’s team has won 47, 46, 50, 47, 50 and 46 games at home over the past six seasons. Yes, even last year, the Orioles gave their home fans some excitement.

With the team’s attendance problems, playing poorly at home is maybe the worst thing that could happen to the Orioles. Those attendance problems could also be exacerbated by the player moves that might occur because of the team’s poor start.

Of course, there’s also the vicious circle question. Does a team, no matter how professional, start to play poorly at home when nobody shows up?

There are much larger issues with attendance in Baltimore. The Orioles could win every game at home, and I’d bet the attendance would still be disappointing. People aren’t coming anymore for reasons that have nothing to do with the standings.

With continued lousy home results, those numbers could be historically low this season even in the middle of the summer.


Kevin Huerter

The sweet-shooting swingman who’s played two years at Maryland announced this week that he’s declaring for the 2018 NBA draft, though he won’t sign with an agent and will in all likelihood return to the Terps for the 2018-19 season.

As an exercise in evaluation, I have no issue with any player getting feedback from NBA teams by going through the process before the draft. I’d bet a few players, perhaps even Huerter, do it precisely for that reason as opposed to an honest belief that they’ll be drafted that year.

I get it — some fans find it strange that guys who can’t even lead a team to the NIT are getting publicity as early NBA draft hopefuls. I don’t think there’s anything more “individual” than the NBA draft, though. The second a player’s college season is over, his team’s results are immaterial. I’m not even sure scouts and NBA front office people always care to ask college coaches about leadership or personality anymore.

The declarations by Huerter and Bruno Fernando do leave some questions as to Maryland’s roster. The Terps have what is considered by many a Top 15 recruiting class. If Huerter and Fernando join Anthony Cowan on the 2018-19 Terps, that players in that recruiting class can ease in to their new roles a little bit. Otherwise, they’ll be asked to do a lot more.

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April 22
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issue 22
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this, that and the other

You have to give the folks at Central Florida credit. They're nothing if not creative.

Yesterday, despite actually not winning the NCAA football championship in 2017, they unveiled a banner that said they did.

Central Florida, remember, went 13-0 last season, including a Peach Bowl win over Auburn. They were the only FBS team to not lose a game in 2017. Thus, they figure they were the best team in the nation.

Saturday's pomp and circumstance was all part of the plan hatched by athletic director Danny White last December, who claimed he would treat the school's football accomplishment as a national championship, complete with parade and banner.

It's cute and all, but hopefully no one with a brain is actually buying into it.

Central Florida took out an ad in several Florida newspapers last January proclaiming their 2017 national championship.

This is what we've become in 2017, I suppose. Participation trophies for six year olds, ribbons for 5th place finishers in youth swim meets and now, we're even trying to hoodwink college kids into thinking they did something they didn't actually do.

Don't get me wrong. 13-0 in a FBS football season is quite a feat. I don't care if you're playing in the CAA (which is FCS, but you get the point), 13-0 is 13-0.

But Central Florida didn't win the national championship last year, no matter what the banner says.

Sure, they beat Auburn in a bowl game and Auburn beat Alabama in the regular season and Alabama beat Georgia in the championship game and........I guess by virture of connect-the-dots, Central Florida says they should be the national champs.

Except it doesn't actually work like that.

Central Florida had a really good team last year. They whooped on that powerhouse Maryland team, in College Park, don't forget.

But the banner they unveiled yesterday is a fib. They didn't win the national championship in 2017. And I think, deep down, everyone actually knows that.

We saw another couple hours of lackluster offense from the Orioles yesterday at Camden Yards, as crafty Mike Clevinger threw a two-hit complete game shutout for Cleveland in their 4-0 win.

Hey, look at it like this: The O's had two more hits than the Red Sox managed to record last night in Oakland against Sean Manaea. How about that, huh? The Orioles actually weren't the first team in MLB to get no-hit this year, despite what we all assumed.

But Boston's 17-3 and the O's are 6-15. The joke's on us, not them.

Manny Machado (who else?) and Chance Sisco collected the two hits off of Clevinger, who is 3-0 vs. the O's over the last two seasons. Not that Machado had to have a bang-up year to collect a whopper of a contract this off-season, but he's off to the kind of start he was hoping for in his walk year, hitting .337 with a .421 on-base-percentage thus far.

O's right hander Chris Tillman had his best start of the season on Saturday vs. Cleveland but still fell to 0-4 as the Birds lost to the Tribe, 4-0.

And Sisco not only did something at the plate, he threw out three guys attempting to steal as well (although Lindor was actually safe at third in the 9th but Cleveland didn't care to challenge at that point for some reason). Sisco is hitting .256, by the way, which is three times the batting average currently authored by Caleb Joseph (.081).

I'm not saying Sisco is turning into Johnny Bench or anything like that, but he should be playing more than Joseph at this point. The numbers are saying it.

If you're looking for a small silver lining in the 4-0 shutout, it's that Chris Tillman put together a decent start for once. But don't get carried away. The Cleveland offense is nearly as stale as the Orioles' at this point. Other than Michael Brantley (.341), no one for Cleveland is hitting above .278 and, like the Birds, they have a handful of guys hovering around the mendoza line.

Still, Tillman "only" allowed four earned runs in six innings of work yesterday, which is a step in the right direction for him.

I'm not a dummy. I know the 6-15 start is terrible. But three things have definitely hurt the club thus far that no one could plan for in early March.

1. Mark Trumbo hasn't played a game yet. His replacement, Danny Valencia, has been awful.

2. Jonathan Schoop got hurt on Friday the 13th in Boston and hasn't played since. The Birds have gone 1-6 without him.

3. Alex Cobb has been completely ineffective in his two starts. Why the team couldn't have signed him in January or February and given him a complete six weeks of spring training is anyone's guess, but Cobb's mid-March signing curtailed his efforts to get ready for the season. In two starts thus far, he's looked really bad.

It's a marathon, not a sprint, and there's lots of baseball remaining.

Our #DMD basketball writer, Dale Williams, sent me a note via text on Saturday and asked: "Is there a remote chance the Orioles finish at .500 or better this season?"

My reply: "Remote? Yes."

It's not looking good right now, for sure, but there's still time to chip away and get back to .500. At this point, that should be the team's first in-season goal. Somehow, someway, get their record back to the .500 mark.

There's no getting around the fact that regular season NBA basketball is pretty awful.

Sure, anytime Golden State is in town, anywhere in the league, the game actually matters. And when the Warriors play the Rockets or the Celtics or the Cavaliers, it's probably worth watching.

But for the most part, a NBA regular season game is about as exciting as a Gilmore Girls rerun.

The playoffs, though, are much different.

I wouldn't say playoff basketball is rivaling the NHL playoffs for excitement and intensity, but the NBA post-season is definitely a major upgrade over the regular season product.

As we saw the other night in Washington when the Wizards and Raptors got nasty with one another, these guys actually want to win now.

In mid-January, they look like they couldn't care less who wins or loses.

But it's not that way in late April.

Heck, the 76er's and Heat got agitated with one another in Games 1 and 2 of their series because guys were making layups in the final minute when the game was already decided.

Baseball has their stupid unwritten rules and so, too, does basketball apparently.

The 76er's have become the instant darlings of the league, it seems. After five years of losing on purpose (it was adorably called "the process" by the engineers of it all) and stinking up the joint 60 nights a year, the 76'ers have a legitimate team now. Legitimate, as in, they're going to give everyone else in the Eastern Conference a run for their money this season.

It's still likely going to come down to Golden State and Houston in the West, but the East is a complete crapshoot at this point. It could be Toronto, the #1 seed. Or the Celtics. LeBron and the Cavaliers won't go quietly (but they have to get past Indiana first). And the aforementioned 76'ers are going to be pesky and a handful as long as they're still playing.

Don't make the mistake of not watching the NBA playoffs because the regular season is so drab and dreary. This is a different level of basketball, now.

It's actually worth watching. Very much so, in fact.

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caps scratch out another ot win, lead columbus 3-games-to-2

Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson owe Nicklas Backstrom a steak dinner.

Backstrom's goal midway through the first overtime period on Saturday afternoon lifted the Caps to a 4-3 win over Columbus in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The Caps now lead 3-games-to-2 with Game 6 set for Monday night in Columbus. Washington is 2-0 at Nationwide Arena in this playoff round.

Nicklas Backstrom's two goal game gave the Caps a 4-3 win over Columbus on Saturday. His OT goal pushed Washington to a 3-2 series lead.

The deflection tally from Backstrom potentially saved Ovechkin and Carlson from a summer's worth of misery. Ovechkin had a glorious scoring chance four minutes into overtime but couldn't put a 20-foot shot past Sergei Brobovsky. It was the kind of chance great goal scorers like Ovechkin dream about. Game on the line, nothing between the shooter and the net except the goaltender...but Ovechkin's shot went directly into the Columbus netminder.

Moments later, Carlson had an even better opportunity, as a nice one-handed pass from Lars Eller found Carlson ten feet in front of the net, all alone on Brobovsky. But the Columbus goaltender made a remarkable save and the game stood tied at 3-3.

Enter Backstrom, who had been quiet throughout much of the series, but tallied twice on Saturday, including the game-winning tip-in on a shot from the point.

"We didn't play very well in the third period," Backstrom said afterwards. "We were kind of fortunate that it went to overtime. But we kept saying 'just put pucks on goal and make something happen' and that's what we did. I was able to get my stick on it and it went in somehow."

I would say a deflating goal like that might empty the Blue Jackets' tank, but they seem like a hearty bunch and, let's face it, the Caps have a long history in post-season play of not being able to handle prosperity.

So don't be surprised if there's a Game 7 in Washington next Wednesday night.

Braden Holtby was again outstanding in goal for the Caps, mostly in the third period when Columbus outshot the hosts, 16-1. Holtby made several nice saves in overtime, as Washington improved to 2-2 in extra session games in this series.

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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 21
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issue 21
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ravens trying to make good on their promise

At least the Ravens aren't waiting until August 23 to sign a few wide receivers and revamp the team's pass catching core.

That trick -- waiting until the very last minute -- hasn't served the O's very well thus far, as their decision to play the stall-him-out game with pitcher Alex Cobb has led to a pair of awful outings at the start of his 2018 campaign.

The Ravens said they were going to revamp their wide receiver position and they've definitely done that. Yesterday, John Harbaugh's team signed New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead to an offer sheet. If the Saints don't match the offer within five days -- which, they won't -- the restricted free agent will join the Ravens for the 2018 campaign.

In: Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead.

Out: Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Campanaro.

A couple of others who caught passes a year ago are also no longer with the club. Gone are Ben Watson (61 receptions, a team high) and Danny Woodhead (33 catches).

That's definitely "revamping".

Is Alabama WR Calvin Ridley still on the Ravens' radar even after they signed three veteran wide receivers during the off-season?

The only issue, of course, is whether the new guys are any better than the old guys. It's one thing to sweep out the gang that was holding you down, but you also have to replace them with something of similar or better quality.

Where's the tight end who will fill Watson's shoes and his 61 catches? The Ravens are presumably going to draft a tight end at some point fairly early in the draft, and even then they might still snag a veteran free agent at some point between now and August.

I love that the Ravens recognized their need to vastly improve their wide receiver department.

I wish the Orioles would have showed the same urgency over the off-season with regard to starting pitching.

But just bringing in new guys to catch the ball isn't necessarily the tonic for improvement. I'll present to you Exhibit A: Jeremy Maclin, 2017.

The Ravens have to bring in the right players. And only time will tell if they're right or not.

Snead is definitely a question mark. He comes to the Ravens with some recent baggage, on and off the field, including a 2017 DWI arrest that led to a 3-game suspension and an injury filled campaign a season ago that led to just 8 catches for 92 yards in 11 games.

8 catches for 92 yards -- Steve Smith Sr. would do that in one half of football. Snead did it in a season.

But in 2016 and 2015 combined, Snead caught 141 footballs and nearly recorded 1,900 passing yards in total.

Yes, he was playing with Drew Brees. And, yes, half of his season, at least, was spent indoors in New Orleans.

He's still likely going to be a better fit than Jeremy Maclin was in his brief 6-month tenure with the Ravens.

Crabtree remains the wild card of the group. He'll be the go-to red zone guy and the Ravens will essentially be expecting him to be a better version of what Mike Wallace gave them. Wallace had more speed but didn't have the jump ball skills that Crabtree possesses.

Brown's the speed guy who, if healthy, could potentially take the heat off of Breshad Perriman. If Perriman even makes the team, that is.

There's a draft coming up late next week and the Ravens will undoubtedly go wide receiver shopping next Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There are people who still believe they'll take either Calvin Ridley (Alabama) or D.J. Moore (Maryland) with that pick if either of those guys are available at #16 in the first round.

Either of those guys would be a good pick, but as we know with the draft (see Exhibit B: Perriman), just because you take a guy in the first round, in no way at all does it guarantee he'll be a standout NFL player.

On paper, the Ravens have definitely done what they set out to do in late January.

They've invested their time, energy and funds in the wide receiver position. They haven't "significantly" upgraded the position. Not in my mind, anyway. But they've "improved" it, for sure.

Now if we can just keep the other team from driving down the field in the game's final couple of minutes and chewing up our secondary...

When does that off-season project start?

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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 3-1 orioles win over cleveland

I'm sorry I've been out of touch sports fans. I had a sudden work trip to Orlando (tough but someone has to do it) thrown in my lap on Wednesday and just returned on Friday morning.

I'm actually going to the ballpark today and tomorrow. Maybe I'll see the team's first 3-game winning streak of the season this weekend!

Here's a review of last night's 3-1 win over the Indians, a team near and dear to my heart because my uncle was in their farm system for several years back in the 1980's.

1. I know the Indians aren't a very good offensive club but Dylan Bundy was outstanding again last night, allowing 5 hits in six innings of work and surrendering just one run. I know he threw a lot of pitches (108) but Bundy was on point again for the fifth time this season. In his five starts, he's allowed 0 earned runs once, 2 earned runs once and 1 earned run three times. That guy can pitch.

Machado did it all last night. A home run to tie the game at 1-1 and a stellar defensive play in the 7th to protect a 3-1 lead.

2. It didn't look like the Trey Mancini knee injury was serious. Buck Showalter said after the game they were considering a few stitches, so it sounds like it was more of a cut than anything structural like his ACL. Losing Schoop was bad enough. Losing Mancini would be really bad. Maybe he gets the day off today and then gets back out there on Sunday afternoon.

3. More Richard Bleier please. All that guy does is get people out. I know Manny saved him with that diving play in the 7th but Bleier is really solid.

4. More concerning to me than the Orioles batting averages is the on base percentage numbers of guys like Jones (.261), Davis (.286) and Beckham (.265). It's hard to score runs when you're not on base, unless you hit a bunch of home runs.

5. We might get to see a lot of runs in today's game at 4:05 pm. Mike Clevinger goes for Cleveland and Chris Tillman takes the mound for the Birds. For two offensively challenged teams, the two starts might be what they each need.

6. Don't forget, the Orioles are still without Mark Trumbo in the lineup. When he arrives, Danny Valencia goes. And Trumbo will add something to the offense, which Valencia really hasn't.

7. This doesn't have anything to do with last night's game, but I found it interesting that Kevin Gausman went to a new wind up last week in Detroit. He said he felt like he threw the ball better with it. Major league pitchers don't often change on the fly like that. I hope it's not a band aid for Gausman.

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 20
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issue 20
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a make or break april?

Well, if nothing else, this is interesting.

April baseball is usually good for getting the kinks out, winning a few, losing a few and preparing for the season long grind that awaits.

Ummmmm, the Orioles don't have that luxury. Their grind actually starts tonight.

After a series sweep at the hands of the Tigers in Detroit, the O's return to Baltimore for a 10-game homestand with their orange and black feathers not-so-neatly clipped. At 5-14 now, there's no nice way to say it: The Orioles have to win more than they lose against the Indians (4), Rays (3) and Tigers (3).

5-14 to start the season. Holy cow that's bad.

Fortunately for the Birds, they're in Baltimore and not New York. The media here lays low for the most part. Sure, everyone's looking for a scapegoat right about now, but you won't see screaming headlines of a personal nature in the Baltimore Sun like you'd see in the New York Post if the Yankees were 5-14.

And the schedule turns in the O's favor now. OK, Cleveland won't be a walk in the park, but Tampa Bay is 5-13 and very beatable and the Tigers, despite what they just did to the Birds in the Motor City, are a 5-game losing streak waiting to happen.

Alex Cobb hands the ball off to Buck Showalter after a dismal outing in Detroit on Thursday. Cobb has a 15.43 ERA in two starts thus far in 2018.

It's very possible Buck Showalter's team could get their chakras in line back in Baltimore and win 7 of 10 just as easily as they just dropped all six games in Boston and Detroit on the recent road trip.

But wait. It's also easy to see the O's laboring through the next ten games and going 5-5 or 4-6, too. Something's not right with this ballclub. There's talent there, but the mixture isn't yielding a tasty dish.

There are two regulars hitting the ball worth a hoot: Trey Mancini (.286) and Manny Machado (.388). That's it. Pedro Alvarez (.290) is hitting the ball when he's in the lineup, but it's feast or famine with him. Adam Jones had a big day on Thursday with three doubles, but he's "only" at .260 thus far. In that O's lineup, though, .260 is almost a miracle.

The team's 5-6-7-8 hitters on Thursday were all hitting below .200 before the game. Two of the four are guys that matter, Chris Davis (.145 with a home run on Thursday)) and Tim Beckham (.194 with 3 hits on Thursday).

This O's team is making Cam Cameron and Marty Mornhinweg look efficient.

Enough harping on the woeful get the point.

I won't even harp on the starting pitching. The summary is simple.

Dylan Bundy has been terrific.

Andrew Cashner has been OK.

Kevin Gausman has struggled but always seems to put up a fight.

Chris Tillman has been terrible.

Alex Cobb can't quite get to terrible yet.

And Mike Wright Jr. is very fortunate that Tillman and Cobb have been terrible. Or he'd be out of a job.

So, like the Royals (3-13), Marlins (5-13) and Reds (3-13), the Orioles find themselves in a really weird April dilemma. Their season is sorta-kinda on the line over the next ten games. And that's not hyperbole.

If they somehow produce an awful 3-7 homestand, they'll be 8-21 to start the campaign. The fancy computers that baseball nerds use to predetermime how many wins a team will need to make second wild card spot in the American League are saying the magic number this year is "89".

It seems awfully weird to be talking about the playoffs on April 20 when your team hasn't even won six games yet, but if -- and note the word "if" there -- the Birds were to produce something terrible like a 3-7 homestand, they'd have to go 81-52 over the last five months of the season to hit the 89-73 mark.

You can't win the pennant in April (although the Red Sox actually might clinch the division by Memorial Day at this rate...) but you sure can lose it.

And the O's have put themselves in an almost must-win bind over the next ten games in Baltimore.

Yes, it's early.

Yes, it's a marathon, not a sprint.

And, yes, the schedule thus far has featured four playoff teams from a year ago.

The only problem? The Orioles can't beat the playoff teams from 2017 (4-9) and they can't beat the non-playoff teams from a year ago (1-5).

The good news? A lot of their early season woes can be glossed over with a 7-3 homestand.

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caps, holtby back on level ground after 4-1 win in columbus

I said when the Caps trailed Columbus 2-games-to-0 that I still thought they would come back and win the series.

And here I am now, still saying it, but even more confidently after last night's 4-1 road win for the Capitals knotted things up at 2-games-apiece.

The Caps might have played their best overall game of the entire season last night. They got a whopper of a performance from Braden Holtby in goal and T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin both scored goals for Washington as the visitors built a 3-0 lead and were never really threatened.

Game 5 is tomorrow afternoon (3 pm) in D.C.

The series shifted under the stellar play of Holtby, who was excellent in the Game 3 overtime win and was remarkably stellar on Thursday night in the 4-1 victory. As we're seeing in Las Vegas these days and have witnessed time and time again over the years in playoff series' featuring opponents of the Capitals, a scorching hot goaltender can take you places.

Another strong night in goal from Braden Holtby helped the Caps get past Columbus on Thursday, 4-1, and send the series back to D.C. tied up at 2-2.

And while I wouldn't call what Braden Holtby has done over the last two games a performance of "scorching" magnitude, it's definitely fair to say he's been the most valuable player on either side in the two Washington wins.

Barry Trotz rolled the dice at the outset of the series and went with what was then the hot hand in Philipp Grubauer. Actually, that might be a smidgen overplayed. Grubauer wasn't as much the "hot hand" as was Holtby more simply "the cold hand".

Holtby labored through a significantly rough patch in February and March. In some ways, Trotz did the only thing he could have done in Game 1. He went with the guy playing the best over the last month of the regular season.

But playoff hockey is like tournament golf...the two are a different animal when it comes to stress and handling the heat. Grubauer didn't play well in Game 1 or in his two periods of work in Game 2. Credit goes to Trotz for seeing that and not being afraid to make the change.

Of course, whenever we're discussing the Caps and the playoffs, you have to recognize and address the white elephant in the room.

It's very possible the Capitals stub their toe tomorrow afternoon and lose Game 5 at home. It would be very Caps'ish for them to do just that.

But I'm not seeing it. Columbus had their chance and squandered it.

And if things work out and the Caps and Penguins both go on to win their respective series', Ovechkin and Company will have a golden opportunity to slay their longtime foe in the next post-season round.

One thing we know for sure with the Caps when it comes to the playoffs.

There's no telling what might happen.

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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

The Other Guys: Maryland and Loyola are pretty much locks to make the NCAA tournament regardless of how they do in their conference tournaments. Johns Hopkins and Navy have great chances to make it provided they can get to the final of their conference tournaments or win one of their last games against top 10 opponents (Hopkins vs MD and Navy @ Syracuse).

So let's look at the other state teams who, for all intents and purposes, are fighting for their NCAA tourney lives and need to win their conference tournaments to make the NCAA tourney.

Towson vs Delaware (Saturday 12 pm, Johnny Unitas Stadium) - The Tiger's season started with high hopes after making last year's final four and were named pre-season conference favorites. However, the reality of losing all of last years offensive stars quickly set in as the replacements struggled to gel. But after a few games, one of last year's returners Jon Mazza assumed the offensive leadership role, punctuated by a terrific game winning goal against Ohio State. The offense played respectably in two losses against two of the nation's best in Duke and Denver.

Then an off the field issue which has resulted in the benching of Mazza has left the Tigers reeling again as they now sit in a 4 way tie for the bottom of the CAA with a 1-2 conference record. However, the Tigers still control their own destiny and a win against the 2nd place Blue Hens would go a long way to securing a spot in the conference tourney. So how will they fare against Delaware?

Unfortunately for the Tigers, new coach Ben DeLuca's former winning ways are starting to rub off on the Blue Hens at the right time as they've won 2 out of 3 conference games and only loss by 1 goal against conference leading UMass. Fortunately for the Tigers, Delaware gives up 36 shots per game to opponents, let's opponents score 10.6 goals per game, only scores 18.6% on man-up opportunities and is only winning 49.3% of their face-offs.

Towson was ice cold in Boston last weekend scoring only 4 goals, but was on fire the weekend before back home at Johnny hanging 17 on Drexel. Which Towson offense will show? I say the one in between, with the hope that my Tigers will cut back on the turnovers and squeak out a 9-8 victory.

UMBC vs Hartford (Saturday 12 pm, Catonsville, MD) - The Retreivers were picked 4th in a pre-season America East poll and are unfortunately sitting just a game outside conference tournament qualification in 5th place. UMBC had a rough 2-7 start against decent competition and a couple of bad games against winnable opponents Mount St. Mary's and a young UMass-Lowell program. The Retrievers offense suffered a huge blow with the loss of leading scorer Trevor Patschorke.

But then they faced #1 Albany and did the unthinkable by beating the Great Danes. The good mojo continued the following week holding Binghamton to just 2 goals for their second conference win. Midfielder Billy Nolan has stepped up to assume offensive leadership to help combine with UMBC's stellar defense, now ranked #8 in the NCAA. Will it be enough to continue their 2 game win streak?

Fortunately for UMBC, they are facing the worst team in the America East in the University of Hartford Hawks who have yet to win a game in conference. Also fortunately for the Retrievers challenged offense, they face one of the worst defenses in the game with the Hawks giving up 12.4 goals per game. Hartford does have a stellar face-off unit that wins 60% of their possessions. But that doesn't matter to a defense like the Dawgs who lost nearly every face-off to #Albany and still managed to beat them.

Unlike last week, I don't see UMBC holding Hartford to just two goals. But I do see the Retrievers prevailing in this game, 7-5. However, being in 5th place, UMBC will also need to beat a 10-2 Vermont team next week to qualify for the conference tournament. A big challenge for sure. But not as big as beating #1 Albany.

Mount St. Mary's vs St Joseph's (Saturday 1 pm, Philadelphia, PA) - The Mount was picked 6th in the Northeast conference pre-season poll. They are doing better than that, but barely as they are tied for 5th in the conference. Mount St. Mary's was almost knocked out of contention, but managed to beat Hobart, the team they are tied with, last week to stay alive. Technically, they are in the running for 4th place to qualify for the NEC tourney. But need to win out and need current 4th place Sacred Heart to lose their last game against 5th place Hobart.

Unfortunately, winning out includes beating the #1 team in the conference in the St. Joes Hawks. Fortunately, while the Hawks have an 8-3 record, they aren't exactly knocking out the competition and have few close wins including a 1 goal victory over Hobart and a 2 goal victory over Sacred Heart. So they are letting lesser teams hang around. That might trouble given the Mount is scoring over 11.1 goals per game.

However, St Joes has one of the best defenses in the land, only allowing just 8.0 goals per game and its also Senior Day in Philly. The Mount will give the Hawks a game. But St Joe's seniors (which include 4 of their top 5 scorers) will rule the day and doom the Mount's NEC playoff hopes, winning 10-8.

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this weekend in
english soccer

Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter

With the FA Cup semifinals once again taking precedent over the league this weekend, an abbreviated Matchday 35 of the English Premier League will get underway tomorrow morning. You can catch the semifinal action, which will see Manchester United take on Tottenham tomorrow before Chelsea and Southampton go head to head on Sunday, live across the Fox Sports broadcast platforms and don’t forget about the first legs of the Champions League semifinals that get underway next week when Liverpool take on Roma and Real Madrid and Bayern Munich square off for a spot in the finals late next month. Like the FA Cup, you can catch all of the Champions League action on Fox Sports and the league action, as usual, live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, April 21 (all times eastern)

7:30am – Liverpool @ West Bromwich Albion – The Hawthorns, NBC Sports Network

Left for dead at the bottom of the table, West Brom showed they in fact still have life when they won for the first time since January and only the fourth time all year as they shocked Manchester United at Old Trafford 1-0. Still nine points adrift of completing the most improbable “Great Escape” of all time but now with the faintest glimmer of hope for survival, they will try to take down another league giant when they entertain Liverpool at The Hawthorns to kick off the weekend, with the Reds suffering no ill effects from their thrashing of Manchester City in the Champions League as they rolled over Bournemouth 3-0.

The matchup with West Brom should be the perfect tune up for Liverpool ahead of their first leg tussle with Roma next week. The Italian outfit stymied the vaunted Barcelona attack with a defensive masterclass to overturn a three goal first leg deficit and the Baggies, who are sure to pack it in and make it difficult for the Reds to break them down, should be the perfect dress rehearsal as they search for three points, which they have taken only once in their last nine meetings with the Reds across all competitions (L4 D5), if they hope to have a fighting chance of survival over the seasons final weeks.

With Man City's 3rd league title in six years in the books, Pep Guardiola became the first Spanish manager to ever win the EPL crown.

Sunday, April 22 (all times eastern)

8:30am – Burnley @ Stoke City – bet365 Stadium, NBC Sport Network

Desperately fighting for top flight survival just like West Brom, Stoke City had their first three points since late January well within their sights until West Ham United found the equalizer in the final minute of normal time to save a point in a 1-1 draw and deal a major blow to Stoke’s hopes of earning another season in the top flight. The result moved the Hammers another step away from the drop zone while the Potters remained mired in the relegation zone, five points south of safety, as they prepare to welcome Burnley to the bet365 Stadium to kickoff the Sunday morning slate.

Despite a 2-1 loss to Chelsea yesterday, which brought Burnley’s five game winning streak to a halt, the Clarets are firmly rooted in the top half of the table and set to record their highest ever finish in the top flight. There is still nothing flashy or fancy about Burnley but they are consistent and efficient and will provide a difficult test for Stoke, who have dropped the last two meetings with their weekend visitors and who have only one win from the last six between the two (L3 D2), although they have dropped only one of the last four when they have met at the bet365 Stadium (W2 D1).

11:30am – Swansea City @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

After a tumultuous ten days, which saw Manchester City blow a two goal halftime advantage in the defeat to arch rivals Manchester United and then crash out of the Champions League after Liverpool got the best of them over both legs of their quarterfinal showdown, City were back on track when they cruised past Tottenham last Saturday afternoon 3-1. When West Brom surprised Manchester United the next day, City were officially crowned champions of the league and they will take their bow in front of their home fans when they welcome Swansea City to the Etihad Stadium to wrap up the Sunday card.

Arguably the best team to ever take the field in England, City’s third domestic championship in six years saw them shatter both league and club records, with more likely to fall before its all said and done. With a five point cushion ahead of relegation favorites Stoke City and Southampton after their 1-1 draw with Everton the last time out, the Swans, who have only one win in their thirteen all time top flight meetings with the Citizens (L10 D2), are lucky to have some room for error with the likelihood of them walking away with anything from what is sure to be a raucous occasion in Manchester slim.

April 19
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would ravens take lamar jackson with 16th pick?

The Ravens have done something recently they almost never do when it comes to drafting college players.

They brought in Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson for a private workout and publicly praised him. Actually, it might have been in reverse order. The praise came first and the workout followed. Either way, it was an odd twist for the Ravens.

If there's one thing the Ravens have done well over the years, it's disguising their intentions come draft day. No one expected the team to take Haloti Ngata in the first round. C.J. Mosely was a surprise pick, too. And last year, don't forget, they didn't even bring Marlon Humphrey to town for a personal visit/interview and still picked him in the first round.

I suppose things could change a bit with Eric DeCosta getting set to take Ozzie Newsome's job as the team's general manager, but Eric's been groomed by Ozzie for the better part of a decade now. There will be some parts of the position that Eric does differently, but my guess is the basic x's and o's of the college draft won't be one of them.

And a very basic part of the draft is not letting on who you're interested in and who you aren't interested in.

To wit, the Ravens organize a media-centric event every year called the "Liar's Luncheon" where the team's draft honchos answer questions from the media about the draft. Those representing the team are directed to offer nothing of substance. That, of course, is the smart way to do it, although some would probably argue -- rightfully -- that it would be better for the Ravens to save the $2,000 they spend on lunch and just send out a couple of generic press releases on the draft.

What sort of different philosophies will Ravens soon-to-be general manager Eric DeCosta bring to the table? You can bet one of them won't be telling the media who the Ravens like and don't like in the college draft.

Now, back to Jackson, the mobile quarterback from Louisville that some say might wind up being a better wide receiver in the NFL.

Is that part of the Ravens' strategy? Could he be the Shohei Ohtani of professional football down the road? A quarterback on this series, a wide receiver on the next?

I doubt it. While that person might come around someday down the road in the NFL, it's not going to be Lamar Jackson who pulls that sort of unique double-duty in Baltimore.

But it wouldn't be out-of-this-world crazy to take Jackson as a quarterback and have it stored somewhere in the back of your brain that if things don't work out as a signal caller, he might very well be able to transfer his skill-set to the wide receiver position.

I'm not sure if you've heard, but the Ravens have a need at wide receiver...

A member of the organization confirmed the club likes Jackson and says "don't be surprised" if he's the team's pick at #16 next Thursday in round one of the draft.

Nothing would surprise me, naturally. I've seen a lot in my years. But given how much they praised Jackson and openly talked about bringing him in for an interview, that tells me the Ravens want other teams to think they're seriously enamored with the Louisville quarterback.

That would be like you thinking about asking Sally to the high school prom and broadcasting your intentions to everyone a week ahead of the asking date. Why on earth would you do that, after all? What if the cute quarterback was thinking about asking her but hadn't gotten around to it yet? All you've done is heightened his awareness to ask her before you do.

The Ravens have never been a team that broadcasts their true drafting intentions. And why should they? What's in it for them to tell the world they really, really like Lamar Jackson?

But let's say they do want him. And what if he's there at #16? Would they take him?

My source says they would.

Joe Flacco is in his 11th season. His tires have been patched quite a bit over the last few years. And this particular draft class is abundant with quarterbacks. This kind of opportunity might not come around again for a few years.

There are plenty of other moving parts that have to be considered, of course.

What if Calvin Ridley and Lamar Jackson are still on the board when the Ravens get to choose in the first round?

Ridley can help right away, but wide receivers typically have a 5-8 year shelf life.

Jackson might not start for two or three years, but quarterbacks can play well over a decade or more if they stay healthy.

There are others who interest the Ravens in the first round, too, but guess what? We're not hearing about them, in the same way we didn't really hear about Marlon Humphrey last spring.

The Ravens might be 40-40 over the last five years. They might be in a salary cap pinch. Their head coach might be on the hot seat. But one thing they aren't is "dumb" when it comes to the operation of the college draft.

I think they like Lamar Jackson, yes. But I'm pretty confident there's someone else out there they really like and they're hoping no one else can figure out.

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George McDowell

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

"their ecstacy was short-lived"

One of the most beautiful and moving hymns in the English language was inspired by the words of Psalm 107, which the King James translation of the Bible elegantly renders in part:

"Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away."

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, painted by Rembrandt von Rijn in 1632. The painting was stolen from the Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990 and has not been recovered. [Click to enlarge.]

The text of the hymn was written in 1860 by the English poet, William Whiting. His lyrics were set to music in 1861 by his countryman, the Reverend John Dykes. The title of the piece is “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”

For those with a seafaring heritage — which, when considering this island that is North America, is all of us — the haunting couplet that ends the first three verses of the hymn brings unembarrassed tears to the eyes of the strong and raises the hairs on the backs of the necks of those whose ancestors either perished in or survived terrible storms on angry oceans:

"Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!"

In 1879 the hymn was adopted by Lieutenant Commander Charles Train, a navigation instructor and master of the Midshipman Choir at the United States Naval Academy, for devotional use and benedictions. Commander Train initiated the practice of concluding Sunday worship services at the Academy with the hymn. Because of its extraordinary emotional power the piece in short time became a service-wide tradition.

The intrepid young men and women who choose to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis understand full well that their educations obligate them to careers that may indeed put them in peril on the world's seas. But patriotism, love of this noble nation, and the desire to serve their fellow citizens outweigh in their minds the dangers they might face in future times.

These lads and lassies, the cream of their high schools and the best and the brightest of their peer groups, not only sign up for a demanding and challenging four years of rigorous study, but also for an extra-curricular regimen designed to strengthen their characters and temper their resolve.

For some very few of this elite, a further extraordinary and abject lesson in humility awaits. A tiny minority of the members of the Academy's 28th Company are required each spring to venture across King George Street, the roadway that separates the campuses, onto the lawn of the neighboring institution of higher learning, St. John's College, to get their tails soundly beaten and their spirits roundly crushed, in the annual play for the Annapolis Cup, that trophy symbolizing croquet supremacy in both the city of Annapolis and the civilized universe.

We present first a video of the 2012 "match" [such as it was styled] between the Academy and St. John's, wherein much of the tradition is explained by one who does his best to maintain the pretense of equality of the teams.


The Naval Academy was beaten in the 2012 match, their 25th defeat in 30 matches dating back to the first in 1983. As the narrator stated, after drawing even at two games to two, "their ecstacy was short-lived." Reality set in as Ms. Barcus slammed home her final ball against the post to grind to dust the Academy teams' hopes.

But we know that, in the world of sports, anything is possible. The intrepid 2017-18 UMBC basketball team, defying all odds, beat the Number One team in the country in the NCAA basketballs. Perhaps presaging this upset, the Naval Academy in 2013 and 2014 won, for the first time in recorded history, matches in consecutive years. The universe righted itself in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and St. John's posted resounding victories.

All is fair in love and war, and in croquet matches as well. Imagine, if you will, the soul-crushing weight the Johnnies laid on the Naval Academy team as they were introduced. The visitors had been horrified that the words of the beloved hymn that they sing each week:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

had been perverted by the St. John's Freshmen Chorus into this trash-song:

Oh, Johnnies as you play croquet,
Defend our honor on this day.
Your battle cry let Middies feel,
To them the Form of Good reveal.
Oh, hear us as we boldly pray,
Defeat the Navys at croquet!

Who could blame the Navys had they tucked tail and run back to their fortress on the bank of the Severn River on hearing this?


In preparation for the match, each team plays a friendly in the week before against a senior-citizen team from Annapolis' Ginger Cove Retirement Community.

At this event each year the right meets the left, and the far right meets the far left, and good and productive conversation ensues. No elbows are thrown on the courts, and there are no cheap fouls near the end of the match as the outcome becomes certain. There is no targeting of a helpless player. No member of either team has a shadow agent, and no player has received under-the-table payments that must be hidden from the IRS. No cars will be overturned after the matches are finished, and no buildings will be torched.

St. John's prevailed this year, as usual, although the final score was a surprisingly close at three games to two. This fourth victory in a row makes the 11th time that a class of midshipmen has gone through four years and not tasted victory even once during their tenure. Very sad. A cynic might even say that the Naval Academy was the Rickie Fowler of croquet. But there's always next year!

The Academy team and many more of the brigade of midshipmen stuck around and danced with Johnnies at the Waltz Party in the Great Hall and to rock 'n' roll in the Boathouse 'til the cops came at 3:30 am and said if the music wasn't turned down, everybody was going to jail.

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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.

If this online publication gets accused of anything by its commenters — those willing volunteers among the growing number of patrons who read every day — it’s that we’re too negative.

Just last week, in this space, I suggested that Chris Davis can’t hit on a Major League level anymore. A pessimistic piece, no doubt, though someone went too far by insisting I was rooting against the Orioles by writing it.

It’s easy to be negative about someone hitting .125, of course. The question is if we expend too much effort giving the thumbs down to people who really don’t deserve it.

I haven’t done a sophisticated analysis of four years of #DMD, but let’s be honest: we spend a lot of time asking teams and individuals to improve because we think they’re not good enough, even when they win or do a lot of things well.

Last week on his eponymous radio show, Dan Patrick spent a few minutes on the topic. He brought up the case of Russell Westbrook, who averaged a “triple-double” for an 82-game NBA season for the second year in a row. Instead of being celebrated, though, the talk after the final regular-season game was all about Westbrook being a ball hog who doesn’t care about his teammates or winning.

Have we been too "negative" with John Harbaugh over the last five years? He did, after all, deliver a Super Bowl title to us in 2012.

You can choose that kind of click bait, I guess, or you can be more discerning. You can read or listen to what you want; you can have your mind changed or your opinion confirmed. That’s the same as ever in the internet age.

I’m with Patrick, though. There’s been a real change, and I feel it too.

It’s one thing to speak critically. It’s another to find an accomplishment and spend most of your time focusing on something negative, either real or perceived, surrounding that success.

I thought back to something I wrote six years ago, when I was completing a master’s program. I was struggling mightily with a short introduction to my thesis, a few paragraphs that would explain the connection between the five stories in it. I happened to be at Camden Yards when the answer came to me.

What I was writing about was achievement. There’s something about true achievement, in sports or otherwise, that fascinates writers—and readers. We’re really interested in getting to the bottom of it; there has to be something else besides talent.

That was 2012.

Doesn’t it seem like we no longer care about what makes somebody good?

All we want to do is find the scab and pick at it.

It’s not just Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. It’s not just the guys and girls covering professional and major college teams. It’s all of us.

Russell Westbrook averaged 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game this year. Last season, his averages were 31.6, 10.7 and 10.4. He and Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history to accomplish the feat.

When Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City to join the Warriors, Westbrook had to take on a bit more of the load. He shoots more now. The great scorer and future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Thunder prior to this season, only to spend the year performing more like a role player.

Bring Westbrook up to a big NBA fan, though, and they’ll talk about how he goes 1-on-3, 1-on-4, or even 1-on-5 more than any other player in the league. Basketball 101 says that Westbrook’s style of play hurts his team more than it helps.

What if that’s not true, though? Westbrook is so good, and so fast, that he often finishes a 1-on-3 break with a higher percentage shot than if he waited for someone else. He’s so proficient that he can play well in a way nobody else can, yet our tendency is to find something wrong with that.

Alex Ovechkin is one of the top 100 players in NHL history, and much higher on the list if you’re just talking about goal scorers. He’s a freak of nature, a 6-foot-3, 235-lb. “power forward” about whom teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov once said “when I shoot, I can see my puck. When he shoots…oh come on. Where’s the puck?”

The Capitals never had a player like Ovechkin before he got to Washington in 2005, and it’ll be a long time before they have one again. However, like every other player in team history, he’s never won the Stanley Cup as a member of the team.

When that result inevitably happens again, there will be more calls for the Caps to send him elsewhere in the hope of getting players that might change that history. The narrative of his career with the team will then be defined by failure, which is patently ridiculous.

We’ve always used championships to help define careers, but we’ve never been as intensely personal about it as we are today. The lack of them, or fewer of them than we’d like, has become our focus, even with the greatest players.

We’ve always used statistics to define careers, with an allowance to different eras, but we’ve never used them the way we do today. The analytics revolution might have given us a greater sense of a player’s value, but it’s also made us focus on the negative, even with the greatest players.

We have so much more video now, even compared to 10 years ago. With social media, we have a window into the lives of players we didn’t have before. We know, or think we know, so much about players that we forget that sometimes they do something great.

They average a triple-double. They lead the league in goals for a seventh time. They win the Heisman Trophy after starting their career as a walk-on at another school.

They are big-time athletes, and they deserve our pointed analysis as much as they deserve our outright appreciation. But what’s the percentage of each? Can’t we try too hard at criticism in the same way we go too far at adulation?

The funny thing is — and I hate to say it — the answer might be no.

The days of journalists, talking heads and opinion writers being buddies with athletes ended a long time ago; their access is different than it was before. We’re well into the era where teams, and even individuals, have created their own publicity empires in the guise of news. Relatedly, it’s a constant tipping point when a media outlet is worried about offending one of its partners.

There needs to be a counterpart to Jim Hunter, and he or she needs to work harder than Jim Hunter because there are way more Jim Hunters out there than there used to be.

It’s not so much about equivalence or balance, false or fair. It’s about telling an entire story. Even if the lousy part of the story is only a pin prick, we’ve reached the point where there’s a danger of it never being mentioned at all.

There’s an idea that the sports media goes negative with the sole purpose of driving page clicks, and there are days when that seems a valid argument.

There’s also an idea, one I agree with, that people, including athletes, sometimes confuse good coverage and informed opinion as “going negative.”

Congratulating and praising Russell Westbrook on his accomplishment, and then leaving it at that, is probably the best thing to do. We care about achievement, and his will be worth noting well after he retires.

Still, we must try harder than ever before to find the interesting stories behind those accomplishments. Sometimes, those aren’t necessarily as sunny as they might seem.

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April 18
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issue 18
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it's complicated, but o's should start thinking about a fire sale

This most certainly wouldn't go over very well.

"You should have done this last July!" people around town will yell.

"If you wouldn't have putzed around all off-season, this wouldn't have happened in the first place," others will say.

"If you go 60-102, no one's going to the games!" someone will claim.

In order, those people would be: Right, right and ------ right.

But it is what it is, and now at 5-12 after another dismal offensive night and a 4-2 loss in Detroit, the Orioles have to start at least considering the merits of making some early in-season trades and basically throwing in the towel on the 2018 campaign.

It won't go over well, that's for sure.

Given the team's lackluster start to the season, should the Orioles start considering a May deal for Manny Machado?

It's hard enough to generate enthusiasm for the club and sell tickets for 60 or so less-than-desirable dates. Think what it will be like to get people in town excited about a team that is clearly going nowhere in 2018.

But in the wake of their 5-12 start, the Orioles should at least consider their options at this point.

I'm not a crazy New York media guy writing a bash-piece about how the team sucks and they deserve this sort of misery as a punishment for their failings. I see enough of that from the fans in Baltimore on social media.

I'm simply saying the organization needs to take a hard look at this situation from the very realistic perspective that things might very well not get better for them in the next month or so.

What if this 5-12 start turns into 10-24? In other words, what if they duplicate the 5-12 run they're currently on and three weeks from now they're sitting at 10-24? At that point, just to finish at 86-76 and potentially challenge for a wild card spot, they'd have to go 76-52 between mid-May and late September. That kind of lengthy run is improbable from just about any team.

Yes, this means I'm saying the Orioles should start putting their ducks in a row and figuring out if someone is interested in Manny Machado for what will certainly be a summer rental.

If you're screaming "they should have done that last July!" you can -- and should -- save your breath. I agree they should have done it last July, but they didn't. So let's stop harping on that and just figure out if there's a way to move him now.

There are certainly teams who are off to impressive starts who might look at a Machado acquisition as a piece that could potentially propel them into the post-season. I have no idea at all if these teams have the farm system to support a deal with the Orioles, but the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks are all teams who would benefit from a guy like Machado coming around for four months or so of baseball.

They're not all in the National League on purpose, but a deal with any of those four teams might be easier to sell to the fan base in town given that Machado won't come back to bite the Birds via games in the American League this season.

In theory, though, if the O's are going to try and trade Machado, they should endeavor to get the very best package of players in return they can, no matter who the trade partner eventually becomes. That's my opinion, anyway. Trade him to the Yankees or Red Sox if you want, just make sure you get a U-Haul full of players from either of those rivals.

On the flip side, of course, is the mere fact that teams are likely reluctant to give up a whopper-of-a-package for Manny knowing he's probably not re-signing with them in the off-season. So there's that catch-22 the Orioles will always face when trying to deal Machado, in-season or not.

Here's one thing I do know, though: If the Orioles trade him now, they're going to get more in return for him than if they wait until the July trade deadline to deal him.

And, yes, they likely would have received more for him had they traded him away last July instead of now or this July. We know that. But let's not harp on that at this point.

Will trading Machado impact the team's 2018 ticket sales? Of course. I don't know by how much, but moving Machado on will be a clear sign that the team is essentially saying, "We're going to accept our fate for 2018" and people will likely respond by not going to the games.

That's part of the business, unfortunately.

There is no easy way to do this, so in that regard, you simply have to stick with the mantra of "we're doing what's best for the organization in the long run" and go with it.

Might it be a few weeks too early to start considering this sort of overhaul? Sure, it might be. The team has played a tough schedule thus far and injuries have prohibited Buck Showalter from trotting out his desired lineup 17 games into the 2018 campaign.

In other words, the club still has plenty of time to turn this around.

And what does it say to guys like Andrew Cashner and Alex Cobb when you're shipping out the team's best player in the first season of their respective Orioles tenures?

But at this point, the O's need to start at least considering moving Machado and a few other players to new teams.

Zach Britton? Sure, if you can get something for him at this point, go ahead and think about it.

Brad Brach? Given that he's injury free, he might fetch a better prospect than would Britton at this point.

Adam Jones? That's a touchy one for me due to my fondness for Jones, and he can reject a deal given his 10-and-5 status, but someone would definitely take him for a few months.

I'll throw Chris Davis in there just to do it but no one is taking him, obviously.

Tim Beckham? Sure, if you can something reasonably valuable for him, make the move.

The time might be right to do this sort of thing now instead of waiting until the end of July when a dozen other teams are having a fire sale along with you. Sure, some teams might not be as desperate now as they will be in July, but there might be a team now that's chugging along nicely who will take the hook in May -- but might not be as hungry in July once their season has leveled off.

This is a tough one.

Anytime you give up on a season it's a hard sell.

But the Orioles have to start thinking about it.

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caps back in the series after double overtime win

They were outplayed but, fortunately, not outscored.

And when the lights went off in Nationwide Arena around 11:30 pm last night, the Capitals were alive (maybe not "and well"...but alive at least) after a 3-2 double overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Columbus now leads the best-of-7 series 2-games-to-1, with Game 4 set for Thursday night in Ohio.

Lars Eller was the hero in double overtime with the game-winning goal on a stuff in front of the net that somehow got past Sergei Brobovsky. It was set up in part by a 3-on-2 break that included Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelly, which helped Smith-Pelly avoid the goat horns after his whiff near the end of regulation helped send the game to overtime in the first place.

Caps netminder Braden Holtby made his first start of the series last night in Columbus and turned in a stellar performance as Washington won Game 3 in double overtime, 3-2.

In some ways, the game was similar to the way things played out in D.C. in the first two games of the series, where the Capitals got the better of things in regulation only to see Columbus score in overtime and steal the game on foreign ice.

Columbus was clearly the better of the two teams last night, but Eller's goal was the difference.

And so, too, was Braden Holtby, who got the starting nod in goal and was super-efficient for Barry Trotz's team. He'll be between the pipes again in Game 4, for sure, and will likely be the team's goaltender of record for the remainder of this series vs. Columbus.

Offense and goal-scoring still looms as an issue for the Capitals. They've now played the better part of 12 full periods of hockey through three games vs. the Jackets and they have a grand total of 10 goals, six of which have come on the power play (including a tally during a 2-man advantage last night).

In other words, Washington has basically scored four even-strength goals in 12 periods of playoff hockey over the last three games -- or four games if you want to do the math and turn the overtime periods into "games". Four goals in four games. That's pretty bad.

And to think the Caps won a playoff game last night without any offensive contribution(s) from Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Backstrom or Oshie. Not one of those four scored a goal for D.C. and yet, somehow, they still managed to win. I doubt I would have taken that bet from you prior to Tuesday night's Game 3.

They're still the Capitals and there are plenty of ways for them to lose this series, but I'll continue to contend I see them winning here and moving on to face the Pittsburgh/Philly series winner next. It might take seven games and even then, everyone's nerves will be frayed, but I don't see the Caps falling to this Columbus team.

One thing for certain: They're right back in this series after last night's double OT win on the road.

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2018 ravens schedule to be released tomorrow

The NFL announced on Tuesday that the 2018 league schedule will be released tomorrow night, Thursday, April 19, at 8:00 pm.

The Ravens have an interesting set of non-division road games on the slate for 2018, including trips to Charlotte, Atlanta and Nashville.

And even the annual visit by the Browns is somewhat appealing now that Cleveland has Tyrod Taylor and Jarvis Landry.

A quick look at the Orioles home schedule tells us this: The Birds are away on September 9, home on September 16 and away again on September 23.

That sets up nicely for the Ravens to open the season at home in 2018, which is what I suspect will happen when the schedule gets released tomorrow night.

The real question is this: Will the stadium be full next September 9 in Baltimore? (assuming that's the home opener)

There are still thousands and thousands of people trying to unload their PSL's on various sites and through the Ravens organization. Will those folks just become single-game buyers or are they "finished" with the team?

Let's get your early opinion on your thoughts on attending the home opener in September.

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Who would NOT make your Baltimore "Mount Rushmore" of TV sportscasters?
Scott Garceau
Vince Bagli
John Buren
Gerry Sandusky
Mark Viviano
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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 17
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issue 17
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davis vs. flacco? it's not even close

While in the car last night, I heard my old radio friend Terry Ford on the FM station. He was drumming up business on an otherwise dreary Monday night in mid-April by talking about the similarities in contract situations between Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

Callers chimed in to chew the fat with Terry -- who, on a side note here, is still one of the best sports talk guys in town in my opinion -- and give their assessment on which of the contracts is the worst of the two, the one belonging to Davis, or Flacco's deal.

For the uninitiated or if you're one of the people in town trying to forget about both contracts, Flacco originally signed a six year contract in 2013 after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, then had a three-year extension tacked on to it at a later point, totaling roughly $190 million over 9 years.

Davis signed a lucrative $161 million deal for 7 seasons in 2016.

Much to my surprise, people called in and said Flacco's contract was the worst of the two.

I almost drove off of Joppa Road when I heard one guy say, "Flacco's an out and out bum. We can't get anyone to come and play here because of him. At least with Davis, he can still play a decent first base and there's always a chance he'll break out of it at some point and hit a bunch of home runs."

I love that logic. With Davis, "there's always a chance". Notice how there wasn't a mention that, with Flacco, "there's always a chance"?

O's first baseman Chris Davis signed a 7-year, $161 million deal in 2016, much to the chagrin of GM Dan Duquette, who wasn't in favor of the contract but got overruled. Two years later, Duquette's looking smart.

This argument isn't even remotely close.

Seriously. Not even close.

It's like asking someone who was the better singer for the English rock band, Queen: Freddie Mercury or Adam Lambert?

C'mon man.

The Davis contract is by far the worst of the two. By far.

To hear people on the radio last night, you'd think Flacco had somehow morphed into a combination of Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III and Chris Simms.

Is his contract hurting the Ravens from a salary cap standpoint? Sure. Virtually any player who dings the team for $25 million and would cost them almost that much in dead salary cap money is "hurting the team".

But in no way, not on ANY planet, is Flacco's contract "worse" than the one Davis signed in 2016.

Flacco didn't let the Bengals or Steelers drive the length of the field in the game's final two minutes last season and cost the Ravens a playoff berth.

He can't play quarterback and cornerback, folks.

Has he been "great" since 2013? Not really. He did have a really good year in 2014 under the watchful eye of Gary Kubiak, but since then, he probably hasn't lived up to the billing of a Super Bowl MVP. I'll grant you that. But to suggest that Joe Flacco's contract stifles the Ravens more than the Orioles are suffocated by Chris Davis and his deal is laughable.

Davis is hitting .132 this season. He has more strikeouts (18) than hits (7). He has 1 home run and 2 RBI through 15 games.

And that's just this year.

Last season he hit .215 and struck out 195 times and only played in 128 of the team's 162 games. Had he played in 150 of the 162, he would have set an all-time personal record for strikeouts in a season (219).

And he's getting $23 million a year for this "production".

Flacco hasn't performed great, but he hasn't hit .215, that's for sure.

There's obviously no way to magically equate Joe's stats with those of Davis, but I'd say Joe's performance over the last few years is that of a .270 hitter. We all know anyone who hits .290 in a season has enjoyed a "very productive" year at the plate. At .300, you're basically a Hall of Famer -- if you can do that for your entire career.

Joe is a .270 hitter at this point, or at least has been over the last few years. He might not be earning all $25 million annually (and remember, he got a bunch of money up front in 2013 so he's actually "only" making $12 million or so via a paycheck at this point), but he's still performing at a marginally adequate level.

One thing for sure: Flacco is NOT Chris Davis.

The Davis contract might very well be one of the main reasons the organization isn't willing to cough up $275 million for Manny Machado. They either, A) Already have too much future money on the books in the form of deals with Davis (and others), or, B) Are scared to death that Manny might do the same thing to them that Davis is doing right now.

But the biggest reason why the Davis deal is far worse than Flacco's is because it's guaranteed for this season and five more. There's nothing at all the Orioles can do about it. He's getting his $161 million whether he hits .132 or .332. 18 home runs or 48 home doesn't matter. Davis gets paid.

And he is almost not a tradeable commodity at this point because no one will take on the contract given his lack of production. If the Orioles could find a suitor, they'd almost certainly have to pay a large portion of the remaining contract.

Flacco's contract hurts the Ravens because they can't kick him to the curb -- if they even wanted to -- because he'll cost the team dearly on the cap. Even next year, he'd still cost $16 million of dead money if they decide to part ways with him prior to the 2019 campaign.

But no matter what, there's no real argument here.

You can stir things up for talk radio and I get that. I did it for 12 years. I get it.

The Chris Davis contract is far worse than the one Joe Flacco is currently playing under.

One guy is performing at marginally adequate level (the quarterback) while the other is getting one hit in every ten official at bats.

Who has the worst contract? It's not even close, folks.

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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.

Months of completely useless discussion, speculation, misinformation, column space, and blog posts will finally culminate in actual developments next Thursday when the 2018 NFL Draft officially opens in JerryWorld.

As that intro might let on, I despise "draft season."

The endless parade of mock drafts, and talk about other peoples' mock draft, is the most perfect example of empty content you'll ever get. What we learn year after year after year is that one or two teams are going to surprise us with a pick or a trade and throw a wrench into what we expect to happen.

Someone you wanted your team to pick goes early, someone you didn't think would be there falls and you suddenly don't want the player you've spent months demanding your team draft anymore, there's an inexplicable run on one position, etc. The end result is that all of that nonsense you spent months reading is made irrelevant in one instant.

And lest I get too comfortable on this soapbox, I'll admit I'm not immune to this either.

Last year I expected the Ravens to have a shot at one of the top receivers and made bold declarations about how they just had to leave the draft with either Corey Davis or Mike Williams. As it turned out, not only those two players but also John Ross were all off the board when the 10th overall pick came due, the Ravens instead got cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and Humphrey ended up being far more productive than any of those three receivers.

That pick caused cries of outrage that the Ravens should have picked Alabama tight end O.J. Howard instead, and then Howard went on to collect just 432 yards on 26 catches for Tampa Bay (not that that means people don't still say the Ravens should have picked him, of course).

All of which admittedly creates a dilemma when it comes to writing about the draft. You certainly don't want to ignore it entirely, but it's virtually impossible to make any kind of strong declaration about it without ending up with egg on your face, especially when you talk about picks in the middle of the first round that are highly volatile depending on what the teams at the top do.

The Ravens' draft, for example, depends heavily on how teams REALLY evaluate quarterbacks. If Baker Mayfield and/or Josh Allen fall, to say nothing of Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph, the Ravens chance of nabbing a stud will decrease dramatically. In another scenario, however, all six of those players could conceivably come off the board in the top 15 picks, which would leave the Ravens in position to draft a top ten non-qauarterback player.

So with that in mind, what I'll do is examine the Ravens' positions of need headed into the draft, and various ways they might address them depending on how the top 15 picks shake out.

Wide Receiver

Everyone knows that the Ravens' biggest area of need is the wide receiver position, and just about everyone has been salivating over Alabama's Calvin Ridley since the National Championship game.

But given the premium being put on wide receivers in today's market, it's inconceivable that Ridley will stay on the board long enough to land with the Ravens unless the team breaks type and offers up a huge bounty of picks to move up. But I can realistically see Ridley going as high as 4th overall.

The good news is that while Ridley is clearly the best this draft has to offer, he's not the only option. Maryland's D.J. Moore has had a great series of workouts and would be a defensible selection at 16th. He also might be available if the Ravens move down a few spots, as could Texas A&M's Christian Kirk.

The second and third round should also feature some good receiver prospects, which gives the Ravens some latitude to go elsewhere should there be a clearly better player available at a different position. But the Ravens absolutely have to hit on one wideout in the first three rounds, and realistically probably need to get two good rookie wideouts.

Pass rusher

Somehow this doesn't get talked about very much when we talk about the Ravens' areas of deficiencies.

Last year the Ravens' put a lot of resources into overhauling their defense, especially the secondary, but their pass rush was sporadic at best. The team is asking way too much of Terrell Suggs, who is still capable of having big games and impressive numbers but doesn't wreak havoc game in and game out anymore, and other edge rushers like Zadarius Smith, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, and Tim Williams just aren't producing like the team is expecting them too.

The good thing is that this might be a year when pass rusher gets overlooked. Thhe vast majority of the pre-draft buzz is on quarterbacks and defensive backs, and there very well could be a run on both positions ahead of the Ravens. A relative dearth of offensive tackles might have a couple of teams reaching to fill needs at that spot as well. And Saquon Barkely, Quenton Nelson, and Calvin Ridley will almost certainly go in the top 10 picks.

The only defensive end/linebacker I'm sure will be gone before the 16th pick is N.C. State's Bradley Chubb. That means that Tremaine Edmunds, Rashaan Evans, Maurice Hurst, and Harold Landry could all be options when the Ravens' turn comes, and all of them should represent an immediate upgrade to the team's ability to get after opposing quaterbacks.

A wild card here is Georgia's Roquan Smith, who is more of an inside linebacker, but is so quick and talented that the Ravens might not be able to pass up on him if he falls down the board.

Offensive Line

The Ravens have an obvious hole at right tackle, where they're currently penciling in James Hurst to start, and counting on Alex Lewis to stay healthy enough to occupy any spot for a full season doesn't seem like a great bet either.

As mentioned earlier, however, this is the thinnest draft in recent memory for offensive tackles. Texas' Connor Williams and Notre Dame's Mike McGlinchey could both be available at 16, and if the Ravens had had more success acquiring new wide receivers already I'd say everyone should be fine with targeting one of them. But neither is at the caliber of the top tackles in previous drafts, and I couldn't countenance passing on any of the aforementioned defensive players to pick one, although just allowing Hurst to move back to left guard would make the offensive line better on paper.

Another intriguing option is Ohio State's Billy Price, the best center to enter the draft in several years. He'd be worth picking 16th overall if you were bullish on his upside, and the Ravens could then move Matt Skura back to guard where he was very good in 2017. If they're willing to kick Marshall Yanda out to right tackle and let Hurst stay at guard, that's a sleeper pick that could work out very well for them offensively.


Let's admit it: The Joe Flacco era in Baltimore is approaching the end.

Unless the former Super Bowl MVP drastically improves the quality of his play, the Ravens are almost certain to cut him after this season or next. And in today's NFL, if you don't have long term confidence in your quarterback, it's never too early to start looking for your next one, especially in a draft that may feature six quarterbacks going in the first round.

We can discount Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen off the bat, as I'd bet dollars to dimes that both will be picked in the top 3. Josh Allen probably goes in the to 5 as well, although he has bust written all over him. There's buzz about Baker Mayfield being a top 5 pick too, but I don't think anyone would be shocked to see him suffer an Aaron Rodgers esque slide. And no one really knows what anyone thinks of Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph.

Whether or not the Ravens should pick any of these guys is a question that's unanswerable without knowing exactly what the team is thinking. What is their opinion of these players as prospects? What are their current plans for Flacco? If they're already planning to move on from Joe and they view an available quarterback as a "franchise QB" caliber player, then taking him is a no-brainer.

You don't go anywhere in the NFL without that caliber of player under center, and you don't get many chances to draft one. If you pass one up, you're going to regret it more times than not. And yes, the Ravens are in "win now" mode, but at some point it needs to be acknowledged that a large chunk of blame for the team's poor offensive performances rests with the inconsistent-to-bad play they've gotten from their quarterback, and it's absolutely plausible that Mayfield, Jackson, and Rudolph could all be better quarterbacks than Joe Flacco in 2018.

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take dad to the u.s. open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For pricing and payment details go here.

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April 16
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issue 16
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at this point, i'm honestly numb to it

If you think I'm outraged at another Capitals home playoff loss and an 0-2 hole in their series with Columbus, you're dead wrong.

I've been watching the Capitals play hockey for about 43 years now. Nothing shocks me. Or makes me mad.

The Caps find themselves in familiar territory in mid-April after dropping last night's Game 2 at home, 5-4 in overtime. Washington is once again on the verge of taking a solid regular season and flushing it down the drain with a week's worth of sluggish defense, lapses in goaltending and an alarming failure to cash in on golden scoring chances.

As the bumper sticker says: Same s**t, different day

This is where I'll provide the typical disclaimer that "the series isn't over yet". And it's not, actually. Sure, an 0-2 hole heading back to Columbus for the two next two contests isn't the most desirable spot to be in a 7-game series, but the Capitals won 3 of 4 from the Blue Jackets and they're very capable of going there and stealing a win on Tuesday night in Game 3.

It's far from over. But if we were playing horse and the word was "over" instead, the Caps would have O and V.

Alex Ovechkin led the NHL in regular season goals with 49, but has failed to score an even strength goal in two games vs. Columbus.

Speaking of O and V, Alexander Ovechkin popped home a couple of power play goals last night, but he and the rest of the team could only manage one even strength goal on the evening. Unless I'm doing the math wrong, the Caps have 7 goals in the series and 5 of them have come with the extra man. Two even-strength tallies in two games? That stinks.

Yes, yes, the other team tries too. I know that. And Columbus netminder Sergei Brobovsky was beyond spectacular in last night's win, making 54 saves, including several sparkling stops in overtime. The nitwit picking the game's 3 Stars somehow failed to include "Bob" in the rankings, but he was clearly the #1 star of the night.

Still, hot goaltender or not, the Caps have to do a better job of finishing their scoring chances. Through two games in this series, the only two players with even strength tallies are Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly. When you've played a total of seven periods of hockey over two games and Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Oshie haven't scored a goal during the "regular" flow of the game, that tells you something.

In overtime last night, Tom Wilson failed to convert on what was essentially an empty net chance, Ovechkin didn't get good wood on a chance from 20-feet out and Kuznetsov had an opportunity just miss the target as well. Three great chances, three missed efforts to tie the series at 1-1.

Philipp Grubauer's night ended early when he was yanked after giving up three second period goals. Braden Holtby was solid in his third period and overtime work and now coach Barry Trotz has a decision to make for game 3 on Tuesday night in Ohio. I assume he'll go with Holtby.

This is not unfamiliar territory for the Capitals. Playoff tension, players underperforming, losing games at home. The Caps have been down this road on many an occasion in the Oveckin era. If you're looking for a silver lining in this mess, there it is. Call it the nature of unintended consequences if you like, but at least the Caps have been in this spot before and know how to deal with it.

As for the notion that Caps fans are again "sick" about this potential post-season collapse, I can only speak for myself when I say, "Nahhhhh...I'm numb to it by now."

I expected them to beat the Blue Jackets, yes. In fact, I still think they're going to come back and win the series in 7 games.

But if they somehow don't win the series, it will not at all shock me.

They're the Capitals. This is what they do. Someone on Twitter compared them to the Cincinnati Bengals. I'd argue the Caps have been far more successful in the regular season than has Cincinnati, but I get the point. And it's pretty accurate, I'd say. There's something in the Bengals' DNA that helps them collapse in the post-season -- when they make it.

The Caps apparently have the same ancestry as the Bengals.

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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?

Disappointment Edition


Alex Cobb

On one level, I appreciate his honesty. On another, he didn’t feel “ready” to face the Red Sox lineup on Saturday?

Alex Cobb has started 116 games in his Major League career, many of them against AL East competition. He’s 30 years old, and after missing most of two seasons due to injury, returned to start 29 games for the Rays last year.

He signed a four-year contract worth $57 million less than a month ago, and spent several weeks preparing for his first start of this season. His signing gave the team’s fanbase, not to mention the team’s veteran players, a good deal of hope.

And he wasn’t ready? Not a good excuse. It makes him look bad, and it makes the team look bad for the unusual way they went about getting him, um, ready.

Of course, a simulated game in Florida is not an actual game against the best team in the division. And yes, a couple of Boston’s guys are red hot, as Cobb said.

Cobb was signed as a guy who could stop a team that was hot, or at the very least keep them within striking distance for a good Orioles’ offense, yet he was no different than Chris Tillman, soon to be released, was the day before.

The Orioles can’t afford anyone else who can’t keep his team in the game, $57 million or not.


Maryland is in the market for a new athletic director after Kevin Anderson announced his resignation last week.

Kevin Anderson’s sabbatical

On October 16 of last year, the Maryland athletic department announced that Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson was leaving for a six-month “sabbatical.” Exactly three days before the end of those six months, Anderson resigned.

Has there ever been anything weirder in the local sports world than Anderson’s half-year venture into “professional development?” Was Anderson really fired in October, as was reported by some outlets, and involved in some non-disclosure agreement where he’ll eventually talk?

I saw him briefly in the press box at Maryland Stadium on Sept. 23, when the Terps were blown out by a Central Florida team that finished the year undefeated. That was the last Maryland football game Anderson attended.

Fans and commentators can debate Anderson’s tenure as Director, but a large contingent hated him from the second he fired Ralph Friedgen after the 2010 season. That was eight years ago, and one conference ago, but for some fans the hurt is still there.

Anderson was forced into another hire a short time later, when Gary Williams retired following the 2010-2011 season. Mark Turgeon was a fine candidate, even if he was a second or third choice, but his team’s middling results affected Anderson’s reputation as well.

Probability says that Damon Evans, who’s served on an interim basis for six months, will be the next man up for the job. Evans was the AD at Georgia from 2004-2010.



The other day I heard ESPN’s Trey Wingo say that April is the best month of the year on the sports calendar. I get what he’s saying: there’s The Masters, it’s a new baseball season, the NBA and NHL playoffs get underway and the NFL Draft is there for those missing football.

It’s an interesting question to ask, and I’m guessing you might get someone to say every month of the year if you asked a few hundred people. What is the best sports month of the year?

Personally, I’d flip Wingo’s answer by 180 degrees. October is the best month of the year, with the NFL and college football in full swing and the World Series taking center stage. The fact that the NBA and NHL are getting underway is only tangential. Plus, I like the weather in October, especially for playing golf.

There’s a regional and/or provincial answer to the question for many people, I assume. I don’t have an NBA or NHL team to support, so the playoffs don’t have the same juice for me as they do for others. I’m sure the NHL playoffs are great, but I don’t have a reason to watch besides a passing interest.

Here at #DMD, every month has to be our favorite sports month. Something interesting in sports is bound to happen any week of the year.


Michie Stadium

More than 15,000 fans were there to watch Navy beat Army, 9-8, in a men’s lacrosse game played Saturday in West Point. The Navy seniors finished a perfect 4-0 in the “Star” game between the two teams. Last year, more than 12,000 fans were there in Annapolis to watch the Midshipmen upset the sixth-ranked Black Knights.

Both Navy and Army have been pretty good recently; not national championship caliber, but good enough to compete with those teams in any given game. That doesn’t really make a difference, though. Nobody comes to the Army-Navy lacrosse game because it’s about championships, or because people just go to lacrosse games when the weather is nice.

They go because of respect. And isn’t that the greatest reason in the world?

I bet not every person on the lacrosse teams at Navy and Army is a great person. I bet most of them have made mistakes. I bet a few of them qualify as “lax bros,” just like their high school teammates that play at other schools. In other words, they’re just like every other group of people.

Except for the fact that they’ve made a commitment that so few of us would make if given the choice. It’s just too hard, but not for them.

So, more of us than usual attend their games, and it makes total sense to me. I hope it keeps happening.


Rory McIlroy’s 74

He started the final round of the Masters three shots behind, playing in the final group with eventual champion Patrick Reed. Even with a five-foot miss for eagle on the second hole, one that would have tied him with Reed within 30 minutes of the start of the round, he was just fine.

That was as close as he got. In fact, by round’s end, McIlroy was passed or equaled by six guys who started behind him. The quest for a career grand slam will have to wait another year, when he will be approaching the ripe old age of 30.

On Sunday, it was McIlroy’s putter that failed him. There were plenty of birdies out there, as demonstrated by Jordan Spieth and Cameron Smith, and he didn’t make any. Case closed.

Is there something else about the place that’s keeping him from winning? That back-nine collapse and score of 80 was already seven years ago.

As long as McIlroy remains among the longest hitters in the game, he’ll do just fine at Augusta. The course suits him as much as it does any player out there, at least until you get to the greens, and those keep a lot of players from winning.

McIlroy talked a lot about not trusting his putter on Sunday. I assume that his trust might have grown substantially if that five-footer on the second green found the hole.

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It can always get worse.

I write that sentence every time I write about anything pertaining to the NCAA. It's meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but there's absolutely an element of truth to it.

No matter what dumb, obscene, ridiculous, or offensive thing comes out of the NCAA or its affiliated universities that you can't imagine ever being topped, someone is bound to beat, and in relatively short order.

That said, if there was ever going to be an exception to this rule, you would certainly think that the Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno scandal involving the serial rape of children at Penn State would be the absolute gutter for depravity in college sports.

Alas, it really can always get worse.

The ongoing case of former USA gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar, and the unconscionable behavior of Michigan State officials, not only manages to "best" Sandusky and Penn State, it dwarfs it.

While the Sandusky case drew much more media attention because it involved football, a crown jewel program, and the direct involvement of arguably the most famous coach in college football history, the scale of Nassar's criminality and the length to which Michigan State went to and have gone to protect him and avoid accountability to his victims is as mind-boggling as it is sickening. And infuriating.

I don't have nearly the time or space to cover every detail of Nassar's crime, and Michigan State's misconduct, but here's a rundown of the major points:

Last November, Nassar plead guilty to sexually abusing six women under the pretense of providing them medical treatment in his role as a sports doctor. He had previously been convicted of federal child pornography charges.

Along the way, his history of serially abusing, molesting, and raping female gymnasts he was supposed to be treating. During the sentencing portion of Nassar's trial, the judge opened the proceedings for victim statements from all of Nassar's alleged victims, not only the six he had agreed to plead guilty to assaulting.

156 victims testified against former Michigan State athletic trainer Larry Nassar during his trial.

Over 150 women would eventually give statements to the court detailing how Nassar had abused them.

The visual spectacle of the seven day long proceeding was so shocking, so unbelievable, that even months later it remains hard to process, though there were definitely stand out moments.

Olympic star Aly Raisman delivered remarks full of equal parts composure and righteous fury that might as well have ended with Nassar's literal disembowelment. Rachael Denhollander, who broke the dam on Nassar's serial crimes by telling her story to The Indianapolis Star in 2016, ended her statement to an extended standing ovation that's choking me up even now.

The judge herself offered an outraged and vicious statement prior to issuing a sentence she herself declared a figurative death sentence that went so far it prompted debate over whether she'd crossed to line of appropriateness for a judge.

But what's truly memorable about the weeks long proceedings is what isn't memorable at all. While the never ending procession of victims was in itself a spectacle I will never forget, it all quickly became mind numbing in the most literal sense of the word. There were simply so many statements, so many victims, that it just isn't possible to commit even a tenth of them to memory individually.

Even at his lowest point, when the victims and justice had supposedly caught up to him and brought him to account and beg for mercy, Nassar still managed to strip the vast majority of his victims of their personhood. And at some point, he also managed to force us, for reasons beyond our control, to stop giving our full attention to the words of the victims and let our thoughts drift to the question of how this ever could have happened.

How could someone in Nassar's position, treating world class athletes who often came from privileged backgrounds at that, manage to get away with his crimes for as long as he did, racking up such an unfathomable number of victims.

Nearly three months later, the answer is both obvious and outrageous. Simply put, no one in a position to stop Nassar gave a damn about what he was doing.

That starts with Michigan State, whose misconduct and dereliction of duty in handling complaints against Nassar were so egregious, so impossible to understand, that the idea that they were actively covering for him almost represents the best explanation.

When Nassar was accused of molesting patients as part of their "treatment," the gymnastics coach and close friend of Nassar's asked members of the team (which included some of his victims) to sign a card in support of the serial rapist.

The panel that was called to formally investigate allegations against him under Title IX was staffed with his colleagues and even personal friends. One of the medical experts n the panel had even been personally suggested by Nassar himself! Shockingly the panel cleared him, with actual medical professionals going so far as to declare digital penetration of the vagina to be a legitimate treatment for leg pain.

Suffice it to say, this was an investigation and a university whose primary goal was declaring Nassar to be innocent, and silencing his victims. They might have failed at the former, but Michigan State is still very much trying to silence his victims as much as possible.

Just last week, a public board meeting at Michigan State erupted when one of Nassar's victims, Kaylee Lorincz, accused interim President John Engler of pressuring her to settle a lawsuit against the university in a private meeting without her lawyer. Lorincz also says Engler accused her of only seeking to make money on the lawsuit, as though the university doesn't owe at least that to the victims they literally helped Nassar assault (Nassar went on to molest at least a dozen more young women after Michigan State's kangaroo court cleared him of wrongdoing).

The board's response was to attempt to cut off Lorincz's statement before she was finished, and video of the meeting sure makes it appear as though police who were present were prepared to arrest her before the angry crowd forced the issue and Lorincz was allowed to finish.

Oh, and later in the meeting Engler actually had the chutzpah to blame proposed tuition hikes on the cost of the lawsuits, which thankfully prompted at least one student to tell the jackwagon off right then and there.

It's easy, and tempting, to righteously demand that the NCAA take some sort of unspecified acts to punish Michigan State for all of this, but the truth is the scope of misconduct here is well beyond what the NCAA can, or should, respond to. This is an issue for the actual authorities to deal with, and the NCAA should learn from their mistakes with Penn State and just let actual public officials handle things.

That said, it's really hard for me to watch this unfold and not draw obvious connections to the culture and nature of college sports.

Whether you want to admit it or not, college sports is an industry built on exploitation, and the NCAA exists to facilitate the exploitation of college athletes. Universities, corporate partners, conference and bowl game directors, and senior university administrators make millions of dollars off of the enterprise, while the rules allow the players to capture none of the revenue their efforts produce in compensation.

And even when we find out that they're getting paid outside of the rules, the actual numbers that we learn about represent a tiny fraction of the amount they generate for the university they play for. Maybe Cam Newton got $100,000 for signing with Auburn, but how much revenue did Auburn make as a direct result of Cam Newton playing for them?

Oh sure, there's the "free education" colleges provide, but I'd like to think we're just about to the point of having enough self-respect to stop acting like that's a claim that deserves to be taken seriously. The reality in the NCAA is much closer to what we learned about North Carolina, where 146 word essays from illiterate players were getting "A: grades and whole classes were frauds meant for nothing but keeping athletes technically eligible.

Heck, we've known this at least since 1991 when future Pro Bowler Robert Smith quit Ohio State because his coaches berated and punished him for having the nerve to major in pre-med and then actually take his academics seriously!

Oh by the way, North Carolina's head football coach that you almost certainly can't name off the top of your head takes home in excess of $2 million every year for presiding over a mediocre at best team. This is what college athletics is, and frankly there isn't anything surprising about the fact that an industry whose entire business model involves exploiting J.T. Barrett so that Jim Delaney can "earn" a $20 million bonus is an industry that provides safe haven to monsters who sexual exploit female athletes.

Did anyone notice that there have been no serious discussions about Delaney being removed as Big Ten commissioner despite having both the Michigan State and Penn State situations happening under his nominal leadership?

From my vantage point, the big difference between Michigan State and Penn State is that this time I have no illusions that we've reached the bottom of the barrel in college athletics. If Penn State felt like the exception that proved my unofficial rule, Michigan State shows that there really is no exception. Heck, sandwiched in between those two headline grabbing stories is a laundry list of rape scandals so long you could never remember them all. Baylor. Florida State. Vanderbilt.

Michigan State's football and basketball programs have even been the subject of new disclosures of covering up instances of sexual assault. There's absolutely no sign that anything is changing for the better, or that any of this is going to be taken seriously in the foreseeable future. 156 victim impact statements in open court will not be a nadir of any kind, and will certainly not be the end of this.

Because, where the NCAA, or college sports in general, is concerned, it can get worse. It will get worse.

It always does.

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weekend college lacrosse review

Game of the Week: #17 Navy 9 - Army 8

As expected, records didn't matter in an exciting game which came down to the wire. Army had several excellent scoring chances in the game's last seconds, but in the end, they were turned away by Navy goalie Ryan Kern to preserve the victory. Army's shooting woes continued as they took 43 shots, but only put 17 on cage. Navy's offense defined efficiency and only required 13 shots on cage to produce 9 goals. The Midshipmen were led by Ryan Wade (2 goals, 1 assist) and Chris Hill (3 goals).

Other Notable Games

#10 Loyola 23 - Boston 9 -- No, this is not a football score. The Greyhounds offense erupted for 10 goals in the 3rd quarter, utilizing 14 different goal scorers. Heck, even goalie Jacob Stover got in on the act scoring a goal from his own crease to end the 1st half. Loyola offense was lead by Aidan Olmstead ( 4 goals, 2 assists) and Pat Spencer (3 goals, 6 assist) who may be lacrosse's best QB.

Towson and coach Shawn Nadelen are in danger of not qualifying for the 4-team CAA playoff after a lackluster 8-4 loss at UMass last Saturday.

UMass 8 - Towson 4 -- Just when you think the Towson offense is starting to click, the offense goes back to their careless ways, giving up the ball 16 times. The Tigers were only down one goal with 5:30 left in the game but the Minutemen come up with 3 goals late to continue to dominate the CAA. Towson is now on life support in the CAA and must win their last 2 games to guarentee a spot in the conference tournament. The lone Tiger bright spot was goalie Shane Brennan with 13 saves.

#14 Penn State 14 - #4 Johns Hopkins 12 -- The Big Ten might be the most potent conference offensively and this one didn't disappoint, as the Nittany Lions secured a big win, unfortunately Hopkins's expense. I didn't think Penn State's face-off ace Gerald Arceri would be so effective on just one leg after being injured by the Terps last week. But he managed to win 16 of 23 against the Blue Jays -- and Penn State knows what to do with the ball when they get it. The Blue Jays are in the habit of starting slow and exploding in the 2nd half. But Arceri slowed down that 2nd half charge enough to secure the win. It also didn't help that Hop's offensive leader Shack Stanwick went down in the first half and didn't return. Cole Williams (3 goals, 2 assists) and Joel Tinney (2 goals, 3 assists) paced the Blue Jays offense.

UMBC 5 - Binghamton 2 -- No, this is not a baseball score. The Retriever defense pitches a shutout in quarters 2, 3 and 4 to take down the Bearcats for their 2nd win in a row. UMBC goalie Tommy Linger recorded 8 saves and Billy Nolan scored twice to lead the Dawgs who now control their own destiny in the America East conference at 2-3.

#1 Maryland 11 - #8 Rutgers 10 -- Maryland just knows how to win when it counts in the B1G. Early in the game, the Terps went up 5-1. But Rutgers came all the way back to tie it at half 5-5. And the Scarlet Knights could have very well led by a few goals with several man-up opportunities. However, Maryland's defense stepped up holding Rutger's EMO to just 1 goal on 7 opportunities to keep the game tied. The teams then traded goals in the 3rd quarter, ending the period tied 8-8. But once again the Terps to pulled away in the 4th with 3 goals to seal the victory. Connor Kelly (4 goals, 4 assists) led the way again on the offense including the game winner along with Bubba Fairman (3 goals).

Final Four Projection - Updated after this weekend's results. for the NCAA Tourney

1) Maryland - Most balanced team in the land. Also great to have 3 face-off guys that could start for most teams.

2) Duke - Leaders of the ACC hang 18 on #12 UVA.

3) Albany - The former best team in the land gets a week off to get healthy and gets back one of the game's best, Connor Fields.

4) Denver - Previous "good wins" aren't looking so good as teams like UNC, Towson, Ohio State and Villanova are struggling.

Outside Looking In: Yale, Loyola, Cornell, Penn State (others like Hopkins, Syracuse and Bucknell could also be included)

"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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