Tuesday
July 31
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issue 31
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ravens still living on the edge


Later this week the Ravens will play in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, as they kick off the pre-season in earnest by facing the Bears.

They'll be in Canton because that's where Ray Lewis will be, and the accompanying spotlight that goes with the induction ceremony should give the Ravens a tremendous surge of pride, not only in their former middle linebacker, but what they've built in Baltimore over two-plus decades.

The Ravens have worked awfully hard over the last seven months to correct some of the things that went wrong in 2017.

On the field, they made a crafty slew of draft moves and position swaps that netted them a former Heisman Trophy winner, plus, as promised, they completely rebuilt their wide receiving corps.

Off the field, they completed a gazillion dollar refurbishment on the stadium -- using their own money -- and instituted a new ticketing formula that will move everyone to their smart phone, eventually making any transaction involving your tickets both seamless and clear of any fraud potential.

And a few weeks back, they welcomed upwards of 2,000 fans per-day to watch training camp live and in person at their facility on Owings Mills. If you were fortunate enough to get one of the 500 daily parking passes and you've been out to camp, you've seen for yourself how hard the Ravens are working to not only provide you with a first-class event, but show their appreciation for your continued support.

It's all good.

Really good, in fact.

But the "business" decision makers at Owings Mills -- Bisciotti, Cass, Koppleman, Byrne and others -- wake up every morning also knowing this.

All of their hard work goes down the drain if one member of their football team takes a knee during the national anthem in 2018.

That's all it would take. A knee, a couple of knees, whatever. If there's a protest again this season during the playing of the national anthem, the Ravens are going to suffer dearly.

Months ago, the NFL owners and players reached what appeared to be an amicable agreement regarding the national anthem. The field would no longer be used for protests. If a player wants to be on the field during the playing of the anthem, he can do that. If a player doesn't want to be on the field during the anthem, he, too, can choose that option and remain in the locker room.

That seemed reasonable, even though I think we all know that any player not on the field during the anthem would be subject to scrutiny as a potential protestor.

Now, apparently, that policy is no longer etched in stone, and the owners and NFLPA are back at the drawing board trying to come up with a viable solution that both parties accept without malice.

The Ravens have to be scared out of their wits right now.

All of that hard work, all of that relationship-repair with fans and sponsors -- dangling in the air the moment before the P.A. announcer says, "And now, would you all please rise, and remain standing..."

If anyone in purple (or white with purple trim) is on one knee, the dominoes all begin to fall.

The fallout from a protest involving a Ravens player or players would be massive.

Bisciotti and the Ravens did a good job a year ago of trying to squelch the sponsor and fan unrest when "London" happened, but it was impossible to stop.

Sponsors were outraged, fans stopped going to the games, and the whole thing was, simply, a mess.

If there's no protest this year and things are back to normal before the game(s), the Ravens will likely be able to regain their footing and move on smoothly.

But if someone takes a knee...

It all falls apart again. And this time, those who depart aren't coming back.

That must be a tough way to wake up every morning at Owings Mills.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: How will you react if Ravens players kneel?
It will not bother me at all.
As long as they win, I will be OK.
Depends on how many players kneel.
I will not attend games any longer.
Undecided.
Name
Email address



"the juice" returns tomorrow


Pardon my "extended-extended weekend" please. #DMD's daily podcast -- "The Juice" -- will return tomorrow. I promise.

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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 initial stage of the Orioles' rebuilding plan was always obvious: Trade away all of their impending free agents for whatever you could get for them. So far that's going well, with Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Brad Brach all playing elsewhere now, and all bringing back solid returns as well.

The only remaining player on the list is Adam Jones, but trading Jones was never going to be that simple.

The mechanics of trading Jones were always going to be more challenging, because Jones can reject any trades by virtue of his 10-and-5 rights. That is apparently exactly what he intends to do.

It's also emotionally difficult to be sure. Jones debuted with the Orioles, even if he didn't come up through their farm system, and from very early on he was a bright spot in a very dark era. A good, promising player on a team that didn't have a lot of them, or very many reasons to feel good about the future at that.

He signed a below-market extension to stay with the team in 2012, and he's embraced Baltimore with open arms over the past decade. It's not only that he's the team's clubhouse leader and says all of the right things. He lives in Baltimore County, is deeply invested in local charitable efforts, and seems to regard Baltimore as his home in every sense of the word.

That's the kind of guy that's supposed to spend his entire career with one franchise, and that seems to be exactly what Jones wants.

I don't think it's going to happen.

I think the only question now is how ugly the parting will be, and the early signs point to "pretty ugly."

The first sign is that Jones intends to exercise his 10-and-5 rights at all. Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge him for that, and in fact I totally understand it. If anything I think it's weird that more veterans don't do that more frequently.

We never really stop to think about it, but on some level it's really odd that your employer can just send you to work in another city the very next day, with no recourse on your part and not even a raise for the trouble. That's the nature of the business obviously, and I'm not saying it's wrong, but it has to be a very weird situation to be in. And of course that's exactly why the union bargained for 10-and-5 rights in the first place.

But it's still a little confusing, right?

The only thing the Orioles are competing for is the number one overall pick (well, maybe the worst record of all time too), and the leading trade candidate for Jones is reportedly Philly. Philadelphia isn't that far away from Baltimore County. And we're only talking about two months anyway, since Jones' contract ends after this season at which point the Orioles can move on from him if they so choose, which they're loudly signalling they intend to do as part of their promised rebuilding process.

Of course things can change quickly, not least of all the designated decision maker at The Warehouse. Maybe the balance of power shifts on some Tuesday morning and a deal gets done, or maybe sentimentality simply wins out and Jones inks a 3 year, $36 million contract to stick around. Then everyone is happy, most of all the fans, right?

Don't count on it.

First of all, if you're scoffing at the size of that contract you're already kidding yourself about how the final act of Jones' career is going to shake out. Athletes don't like taking pay cuts, least of all baseball players whose pay structure and market ethos puts a high value on seniority and service time. And they really don't like taking a reduced salary from their previous teams.

Given that Jones made around $18 million in AAV on his last contract, I'm probably being conservative in estimating what it would take to keep Jones around without him feeling disrespected and angrily heading somewhere else.

Oh, and let's acknowledge the elephant in the room: From a baseball standpoint Jones doesn't have a fit on the Orioles roster beyond this season at all. Jones remains a productive player, but not a great one. Not even a good one, really, if "good" means clearly above average.

He's hitting .285/.312/.434 this season, good for a wRC+ of 101 as of Tuesday afternoon. That means he's 1% better than the average American League hitter right now. His declining defense will play better in the corner outfield, but his offense will be comparably less impressive compared to other corner outfielders rather than center fielders. He has the profile of someone who would be a nice addition to a team that needs an outfielder now, and could help out a lot hitting in the bottom half of the order in a place like Cleveland.

On a rebuilding team however, he's just a guy filling a spot on a bad team, not making much of a difference in whether they finish with 60 wins or 65 wins.

But hey, if Jones wants to be here and fans still want to see him even on a bad team, it could still work out under the right circumstances. If nothing else it can't hurt anything right?

Well no, actually. As it turns out four of the Orioles top eight or nine prospects at the moment are outfielders, and they've all played at Double-A or higher already.

Austin Hays was even likely to make the Opening Day roster if not for an injury. And the Orioles might sign 22 year old Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa soon, while most evaluators still see Ryan Mountcastle ending up as a left fielder if he isn't going to be limited strictly to DH duties.

That's as many as six legitimate outfield prospects the Orioles are starting with as a foundation for their rebuild, seven if you count Trey Mancini, and whom Jones would be conspicuously standing in the way of if the O's commit a roster spot to him. There is no way that won't be an awkward situation by the end of the 2020 season at least.

Oh no, you might say, Jones is a team guy and always does the right thing, and if that's the case he'll do what's best for the Orioles and move aside. If you think that you make the people who think he's going to sign for $3 or 4 million next year look perceptive.

Professional athletes aren't made that way. They rarely recognize that it's time to move aside when everyone else can see that they're embarrassing themselves at the end of their careers.

You know who else was a no-nonsense team first leader who played the right way and always did the right thing? Jorge Posada. You know how Posada's career ended? When he was 39 years old and barely hitting his body weight, Joe Girardi moved him to the 9th spot in the batting order, to which Posada responded by throwing a tantrum and removing himself from a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. He and the team stayed bitter about it for the rest of the year before Posada retired, and it apparently took some time for Posada to really get over the slight. And again, he was 39 years old and objectively bad at the time!

Jones isn't at that stage yet, which just makes it all the less likely that he's prepared to gracefully accept a smaller role day to day. Yes he's said he'll move to a corner outfield spot to accommodate Cedric Mullins or whoever ends up taking over in center field, but there's a big gap between agreeing to start in right field instead of center and agreeing to become a fourth outfielder if Mullins, Hays, and some combination of D.J. Stewart/Yusniel Diaz/Mesa/Mountcastle are ready for a shot to be big league outfielders.

And again, that leaves the Orioles with more than four or five outfielders to find room for on the big league roster in the best case scenario, and what happens then?

Most of all, what happens when Jones' production really DOES start to take a serious dive? He'll be 35 years old on Opening Day in 2021, and turn 36 the day after the trade deadline. What happens if he's a .250/.285/.390 hitter with declining ability even in right field? What happens when the rebuilding effort has gone well, the team is contending for a wild card spot, and an unproductive Jones is blocking one of those prospects who might better help them get back to the postseason.

Maybe you don't think it will matter. Maybe you tell yourself that Jones is a special case, and having him finish his career here is more important than winning. But I doubt that it works out that way. I doubt that you're even really considering the possibility. I think it's a lot more likely that you change your tune in some manner or another.

Some of that will be a magnanimous "it's just business" take, while I guarantee that others will rationalize it by blaming Jones, angrily declaring that he's selfish and that he was never really a leader or team player in the first place. Wouldn't be the first time that exact scenario has played out, and it wouldn't be the last either.

And what happens when Jones, a very proud player with a lot of confidence in himself and an obvious belief that he has a privileged place in the organization, doesn't like being asked to sit on the bench (or take a phantom DL stint) to create space for Diaz and Mountcastle in 2 or 3 years? What happens when he regards that as an immensely disrespectful slight from the organization?

Then again things could just not work out at all for the Orioles over the next few years, and they could just stay bad for the duration of Jones' career, with no one actually threatening Jones' position even as the team loses lots and lots of games. That would fulfill the scenario of Jones finishing his career here with minimal inner turmoil for fans or the team, but is Jones really going to stick that out? If he stays productive, and the Orioles stay bad, does he really not ask for a trade and a chance to make a run at a World Series appearance?

And again, how do fans react to that?

In short, there just aren't many scenarios in which Jones stays in Baltimore, everything goes swimmingly and he retires an Oriole with good feelings and no animosity all around. It's a lot more likely that things get awkward and contentious when Jones just doesn't fit in neatly with the rest of the roster or where the team is at, and that eventually it blows u in acrimony and anger on all sides, including the fans'.

That wouldn't be the end of the world (the end of Posada's saga after all is that he has his place in Monument Park and is a regular at Yankees' Spring Training), but it would be pretty unfortunate all the same. The Orioles' need to rebuild, we all know that. Adam Jones doesn't need to spend the twilight of his career filling space on a non-competitive team, especially one where his mere presence will inevitably become a source of contention.

It might be weird, even painful, to think of Jones playing in another uniform. I get that, and I'm not saying such feelings are wrong.

But in the long term, an amicable parting now is probably in everyone's best interests.

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Monday
July 30
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jones has earned this right


I almost feel like having an opinion on this is akin to my late father getting engaged in an argument about the greatness of Johnny Unitas.

But no matter how fond I am of Adam Jones, this is an easy issue to dissect: Jones has every right to exercise his 10/5 rights and refuse a trade to the Phillies (or any team, for that matter).

I'm an unabashed Jones fan, it's true.

Hence, the remark about my opinion of Jones and the connection between my father and his opinion of Johnny U.

But if Jones was wrong or doing something ill advised, I'd say so. In this case, though, he isn't.

When a player enters the major leagues, he does so knowing one thing. He will never have control of his own destiny until he's reached his service time limit, which is typically six major league seasons.

In years one through six, the team controls you and virtually everything about you.

When you reach free agency, you have a say in which team employs you.

And when you are fortunate enough to hang around until you hit the "10/5 plateau", you use that benefit if the situation allows for it.

Adam Jones was a clubhouse leader during the O's banner years from 2012-2016.

Adam Jones is a 10/5 guy. He's played in the big leagues at least ten years, five of which have come with the same team.

So, he can veto any trade that comes his way.

And, apparently, the Phillies and Orioles were far enough long on a trade discussion that the idea was somehow floated past Jones and he politely declined.

Most people understand.

Some folks think Jones is doing the Orioles a disservice.

That's just not true. He has the right to veto a deal in the exact same way Manny Machado didn't have the right ten days ago.

Players work hard for those contractual benefits. There should never be any shame -- none, ever -- when it comes to a player exercising whatever benefit the contract allows for.

Now, I'm kind of curious why Jones would stay here. I don't think there's anything wrong with suggesting that things would be much better for Jones over the next two months if he moved up to Philly to finish out the 2018 season.

I'm wondering why he didn't.

But I'm more than willing to say he had every right to pass on the deal and stay in Baltimore.

Maybe he fancies himself a lifetime Oriole and he's willing to take any deal or reduced playing time scenario the Orioles throw his way this winter. I'd be really surprised if Jones is satisfied with a part-time role in 2019, but I also thought the Patriots would beat the Eagles last February in the Super Bowl -- so what do I know?

If Jones wants to play the 4th outfielder role next season and basically become part-player/part-coach for the gang of youngsters expected to be in Baltimore, that's perfectly fine by me. The more Jones is around the team, the better the chances of those kids succeeding.

This could also cause some tension between Jones and the team, unless Adam completely understands this is just the cost of playing poker.

Yes, the Orioles were apparently willing to move him on. I'm sure to some degree, that stings a little bit.

But Jones always knew he held the trump card. No matter what offer the O's received, he had the final say. It's almost like the Orioles didn't have any power at all...because they don't.

I'd love to see Jones stick around in 2019, but the reality is there's not much good in having him. He'd be eating up a chunky salary ($14 million or more?) for starters, and to make things whole with him, the Birds would probably have to sign him to a 3-year deal at a minimum.

$40-50 million is just too much to pay to a guy who will not be an every day player in the outfield.

In the meantime, though, I'll enjoy these "Adam Moments" throughout the remainder of this season. I'll worry about the winter when the leaves change color.



"the juice" returns tomorrow


Pardon our extended weekend please. #DMD's daily podcast -- "The Juice" -- will return tomorrow.

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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.


hall of fame edition


Who?

Raymond Anthony Lewis, Jr.

Another Jr., Cal Ripken, was my sports hero growing up. Cal Jr. was a good player, occasionally a great one, but there was more to him than that. There was a certain aura about him, one that went even beyond a streak of 2,632 consecutive games.

We all tried to imitate him, and we wished maybe one day we’d be the next local kid who made good with the Orioles.

Ray Lewis was a little different, and not just because football players aren’t worshipped like baseball players, or because of the situation in Atlanta, or because he wasn’t a guy from Aberdeen whose Dad coached the team.

Take away the skill positions and the divas, and what you have is the offensive and defensive lines, the linebackers and maybe the safeties. The real football players, if you want to say it that way. And #52 might just be the greatest football player of the last 50 years.

Sure, Lewis made the Pro Bowl 12 times and was named All-Pro ten times. Yes, he is the only player in NFL history with 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. And who was a better tackler than he was, no matter whether he led the team in that category or not?

All great, and enough to make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But there was something more, as with Ripken.

Ray Lewis created what the Ravens became. It’s as simple as that. The entire mentality of the organization, and even of the fans, came from his personality and his leadership.

He came at the very beginning, and by the time he left something had been established that nobody could have imagined 16 years earlier.


What?

Speeches

Remember when Joe Flacco was making the rounds after the Super Bowl, hitting all the talk shows besides his trip to Disney World? My favorite appearance of his came on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Letterman asked Flacco about Ray Lewis, what Lewis’s comeback from injury meant to the team and how he felt when Lewis announced his retirement prior to the playoffs. Then the host asked him about the effects of Lewis’s famous pump-up chats.

“Honestly, I don’t even understand what he’s saying half the time,” Flacco said.

In 2012, right before his final season, Lewis spoke to the Loyola lacrosse team prior to the final four; the Greyhounds went on to win the championship. I’ve watched the clip several times, and he keeps repeating the same mantra. “You gotta be pissed off for greatness!” If you have any idea what that means, let me know.

There’s no question that Lewis took on an over-the-top off-field persona in the latter years of his career. Like Flacco said, what Lewis was saying took a back seat to the performance itself. It was preaching, and some guys don’t need preaching.

I don’t think that Lewis was ever insincere when he spoke, and he certainly isn’t now. He created a kind of pulpit thanks to his accomplishments, and he still uses it. The stories of the influence he had on so many opponents over the years, let alone teammates, are a testament to his work.

Lewis, who was always a great football player, certainly grew into something greater than that as he got older. Whether or not it really had a big influence on wins and losses, it definitely created a lot of entertainment.


Where?

San Diego

Darren Sproles never had a chance, did he?

Sproles, Philip Rivers and the Chargers trailed the Ravens by five points with 37 seconds left. It was 4th-and-2 with the ball on the Baltimore 15-yard-line.

The Chargers went with a power run to the right side. The left guard pulled, the center had the nose tackle. By the time they both engaged, however, the play was over.

Lewis knew the play as soon as the Chargers broke the huddle and lined up. All the clapping he was doing before the snap was a decoy. He shot the gap he knew would be there, and Sproles was down on the ground five yards behind the line of scrimmage before he could even look downfield.

It was the single greatest defensive play of Lewis’s career, though not as “important” in the grand scheme as the famous interception and touchdown against the Titans many years earlier.

The late Dick Enberg was on the call for CBS that afternoon. He told the story of the play like he always did when something special happened—“oh my!” There’s never been a play in Ravens’ history more deserving of Enberg’s famous call.

Hall of Famer Dan Fouts was Enberg’s partner on the game, and he was rendered almost speechless by the play. About all Fouts could muster was “that’s a Hall of Fame play, is what that was,” which I suppose is all that needed to be said.

A work colleague of mine was in attendance at Qualcomm Stadium that day, Sept. 20, 2009, and she said she was so nervous about that play that she closed her eyes and didn’t watch it. She sure missed something special.


When?

September 30, 2002

What do you say when you’re standing at a urinal, look to your left and see that the person standing at the other urinal is Al Michaels?

Normally, I wouldn’t say anything, whether it was Al Michaels or the press box janitor. On that night in the press box, though, I remember what I said.

“Have you ever seen anything like that in your life?”

From Michaels: “No, that was f***in’ unbelievable!”

What we were talking about was the last play of the first half of a Monday night football game against the Denver Broncos. You remember it. The field goal attempt by Jason Elam was short, Chris McAlister caught the ball in the end zone and ran with it 107 yards the other way for a touchdown. The Ravens led 31-3 at halftime.

The best part of the play involved, of course, Ray Lewis, who laid what has to have been the greatest special teams block in NFL history.

The guy on the other end of the block was linebacker Keith Burns, who spent many years playing for the Broncos, mostly on special teams. He was the captain of Denver’s special teams unit when he retired, then spent years as a special teams coach for the Broncos and Redskins under Mike Shanahan.

I don’t remember how often Ray Lewis played on the field goal defensive unit, especially later in his career. But the block he made on Burns ought to put him in the team’s special teams Hall of Fame too.

If you watch the play now, the first thing you realize is that it might be called a penalty these days. Lewis “launched” himself into Burns in a way. But hey, a lot of Lewis’s great plays might be penalties now.


Why?

Atlanta

I don’t know what Ray Lewis did in Atlanta after the Super Bowl 18 years ago. I’m not saying he deserves to be where he is now, or he deserves to have been charged and tried for a serious crime. He is where he is, part of which is being a Hall of Famer.

That being said, I’ve never liked what he says about the whole thing when asked.

Specifically, he told The Sun that “you asked me if I’d trade anything, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I wouldn’t be the man that I am today.”

Then he went on. “The end result is who I am now. And that means if I had to go through all that again to come to the point of who I am right now, why change it?”

Young men certainly make mistakes; at the time, Lewis was a young man, not even 25. Among the biggest mistakes young people make is not knowing the right people to have around them.

But this wasn’t Josh Hader making unfortunate statements on Twitter. Treating the deaths of Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker as some sort of personal growth experience has never been the right thing to say, yet Lewis has always said it.

And why change it? Because Lewis could still be the man he is today while potentially giving other people answers they’ll never have.

Perhaps there was some way Lewis could have made life better for people who are still grieving, but he’s never seemed interested in that.

I don’t think any of that should have anything to do with Lewis and his induction to the Hall of Fame as a great football player. But I sure understand why the families and friends of the deceased might feel differently.

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dustin johnson: hall of famer


Unlike the selection process for baseball and football, the golf Hall of Fame is much easier to organize.

There aren't bristling, archaic media members hovering around the sport of golf who look at one's play, scoff, and say, "They couldn't hold a candle to those guys in the 70's and 80's."

You know that sort of old-school-mentality exists in the closed quarters of Hall of Fame voting in baseball and football, among others. Players are constantly compared, era to era, and judged not only on what they did, but what others before them accomplished as well.

Case in point: There probably won't be another 300 game winner in baseball. The game just doesn't lend itself to "pitching victories" anymore. So a guy, now, reaching 250 wins is probably a virtual lock for the Hall. Twenty years ago, 250 was really good, but 300 was the barometer of true greatness.

Golf is different. I'm not saying it's better. I'm just saying it's different.

Dustin Johnson won the Canadian Open yesterday. That gives him 20 career wins, 19 of which have come on the PGA Tour. He has one major title already, with heavy odds on him winning at least a couple of more before his days are done.

Heck, he's thrown away four U.S. Opens already, plus a PGA and a British. With any luck at all, and one or two putts falling in at the right time, D.J. would have at least five major titles right now.

But yesterday's win in Canada cements his spot in the golf Hall of Fame. It's a done deal. And Johnson's only 34.

Here's a point you can try to debate if you want, but you'll be wrong.

Dustin Johnson has been the best player on TOUR over the last ten years. End of story.

Sure, Spieth has more majors (3), as do both Rory (4) and Bubba (2), but no player since 2008 has been as good as Johnson time and time again.

Twenty wins. In 10 years. Winning in professional golf is really hard to do. Fred Couples was an outstanding player. He won 15 times, as did Corey Pavin.

There are six players (Elkington, Larry Nelson, Mahaffey, Sergio, Stockton and Zoeller) who each won at least ONE major but managed to win only a total of TEN events on the PGA Tour.

Those six are among an elite group who won double-digit tournaments.

Johnson has twice as many as those guys.

Sure, he could carve a much bigger slice of the pie for himself by winning some more majors or completing the career grand slam, even, but no matter what he does from here, Dustin Johnson will someday be enshrined in golf's Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.

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Sunday
July 29
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issue 29
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schoop...to trade or not to trade


This is precisely where the Orioles were a year ago with Manny Machado and Zach Britton.

Any team interested in acquiring Jonathan Schoop would be getting him for the rest of this season AND all of next season as well. If you're the Orioles, there should be extra value in Schoop if you're getting him in July, 2018.

It would appear the Brewers are no longer interested in Schoop given their acquisition of Mike Moustakas on Friday. They'll move erstwhile third baseman Travis Shaw over to second now, although he hadn't fielded a ground ball in the majors at second base prior to the Moustakas trade.

So, let's not count Milwaukee out just yet.

If there's someone else interested in Schoop, that leaves the Orioles with a significant question: To trade? Or not to trade?

Schoop's been on fire recently, which probably helps his trade stock. After an awful first three months of the season where his batting average hovered around .200, he's perked up at the plate in July, and, more specifically, since the team dealt Manny Machado ten days ago.

Let's set aside what the Orioles might get for Schoop and just consider the question: Trade him? Or keep him?

We can answer that at #DMD by looking more closely at this topic: How important is it to have someone to "build around" when you're tearing your team apart and starting over, basically?

There's no telling what Schoop would say if the Orioles came to him today with a long term contract offer.

He might say, simply, "I think I'll wait things out until free agency." Most talented players getting their first crack at free agency tend to lean in that direction. It might be a secret hope of Schoop and Machado that they play together again sometime soon and perhaps Schoop would rather wait and see where Manny winds up this winter.

That scenario is precisely what wound up creating Machado's trade to Los Angeles. Manny says the Orioles never made him a long term offer, but every time he had the opportunity to talk about his future, Machado brought up the lure of free agency and how much he understood its value.

Schoop's no dummy and neither is his agent. If he puts together a really good second half of this season and finishes with 25 HR and a batting average/on-base-percentage line of .275/.325, then has a whopper of a 2019 campaign, someone might throw a barrel full of money at him in the winter of '19.

Would he give that potential cash grab away right now if the Orioles zipped in with a four or five year offer?

And if you're Schoop, how motivated are you to sign in Baltimore knowing the next season or two will probably be "down years" while the youngsters cut their teeth?

This one requires a deep dive from everyone.

For the Orioles, they must consider this: How important is it to have someone to "build around" when you're tearing your team apart and starting over, basically?

The answer might be: "Depends on who that player is".

Schoop is well liked in the clubhouse, no doubt. Whether he's also a functional team leader and someone who will communicate well with young players is another story entirely.

If the Orioles know, somehow, right now, that they're likely not going to make Schoop a significant multi-year offer in the winter of 2019, they could proceed exactly as they did with Manny and Britton.

They could listen to offers now...and this coming winter...and then head into spring training 2019 with everyone in baseball -- including Schoop -- knowing they'll deal the second baseman at the deadline next July.

That strategy worked well with Machado and Britton, even if some insiders are hinting that the up-in-the-air status of those two -- plus Buck and Duquette -- contributed greatly to the team's dismal 2018 performance.

If those kids the Orioles received for Manny and Zach wind up being critical components of a successful team down the road, the O's strategy worked like a charm.

But what if someone comes along today or tomorrow and throws something attractive the O's way and wants Schoop right now?

I wonder if the Orioles are even thinking about it?

We know the Brewers were interested.

Maybe they still are.

But the O's hold all the cards, since he's their player and under their control.

What to do?

They've been on a good run lately. Let's see if they play their hand the right way on this one, too.

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"calloused up" explained


John Harbaugh created quite a stir earlier this week at training camp when he singled out a couple of rookies who were having a difficult time finding the playing field.

He used the term "calloused up" in what sounded and looked almost like a medical term, not a phrase coaches use when talking about a player's toughness level.

Golfers use the term "grinding" a lot. But nothing's really "grinding". It's just a word that symbolizes someone who is dug in and extra aware of the shot at hand.

Let's call it like it is: Harbaugh used "calloused up" as a substitute for the word "tough".

That's it.

He didn't want to say "Those two guys need to be tough (or "tougher")."

Instead, he said, "Players coming out of college aren't as calloused up as they used to be."

Take out "calloused up" and put in "tough".

"Players coming out of college aren't as tough as they used to be."

I'll defer to Harbaugh and other football coaches on that note. I have no idea if it's true or not.

But it's easy to see where Harbaugh's coming from, since teams and coaches are no longer allowed to set their own practice guidelines. He's frustrated, I'm sure, with the fact that he can't "toughen 'em up" the way he sees fit.

Hey, I'm a coach. I get it. There's nothing worse than a coach having his or her hands tied by others, particularly when it comes to something structurally important like practice.

Harbaugh has, on several occasions, been nicked by the NFL for not following the established guidelines to the letter. Publicly, Harbaugh always says the right thing and accepts his punishment with ease. Privately, he bristles at being turned in by one of his own players, the identity of which he often doesn't even know.

It's 2018 and, as we've seen for the last five years, the game has changed dramatically.

Old school folks -- and I'm probably in that category, admittedly -- say the NFL has gone "soft". Every tackle/hit is scrutinized under a legal microscope, a replay official somewhere can determine if contact was "within the rules" and, in general, the league is more kind and gentle than it was just a decade ago.

If your arm brushes the helmet of the quarterback, it's a penalty.

Even if it's just a "graze", the flag can be rightfully thrown.

That's not "tough" football.

So at nearly every turn these days, Harbaugh is confronted with a situation where toughness no longer exists.

He can't get his rookies on the field because they have blisters on their feet.

His players are flagged for penalties that don't make sense.

Football used to be a man's game.

Lots of coaches look around these days and don't recognize this version of the NFL.

"Calloused up" wasn't meant to be a specific medical term, I don't think. What the coach meant, I belive, is that players used to be able to practice twice a day in 95 degree heat and no one back then complained of blisters, tight hamstrings and sore feet.

And, yes, there is something to be said for conditioning your body to take punishment. Runners talk about it all the time. I feel it every spring when I start playing golf regularly. It takes me a week or two of hitting balls every day to get in "golf shape", if such a term exists.

Harbs really wanted to use the word "tough", but knew that would create too much of a stir.

I'll borrow a line from the great Chris Rock in one of his stand up routines from twenty years ago: "I'm not saying Harbaugh should have used the term 'calloused up' -- but I understand."

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Saturday
July 28
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issue 28
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if jones goes...


Watching Adam Jones bust his hump getting to home plate when the team is 29-74 warms my heart.

Sure, the Orioles are paying him $17 million to try hard every night. Lauding him for grinding it out game after game might seem odd to you.

But seeing Jones scurry for the plate in the 4th inning of last night's 15-5 win over the Rays (yes, you read that right -- a win) reminded me, again, of why not only is Jones my favorite Orioles ever, but why he deserves all the praise we can heap on him in this lost season.

He's never once quit.

I haven't seen every inning of every game in 2018, but I've watched a lot of this fiasco and I've yet to see a ground ball Jones didn't run out.

I know his defensive coverage isn't what it was, say, three years ago, but I also haven't seen Jones cruise after a fly ball at any point this season. He might not get to them all, but he's busting tail to try and get there.

I know, I know: "But that's why the Orioles pay him $17 million, Drew."

Is the end near for Adam Jones in orange and black?

That's true. But you also know the truth. There aren't many veteran players who would be putting out 110% every single night when their club is 29-74.

Heck, if we're gonna be honest, Manny Machado was jaking hard hit grounders when the team was 8-27 back in mid-May.

The Orioles have a significant decision to make with Jones. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. Jones has veto power, so he'll ultimately decide if he stays or goes, but the Birds have four days to make a deal with someone.

They can, of course, also trade Jones in August, but he'd first have to pass through waivers. And, again, he can say "no" to any deal thrown his way.

If you're the Orioles, peddling Jones at this point is purely "business" and both parties know it. Adam, in fact, has acknowledged as much recently. Whether he wants to go or not, he understands that Cedric Mullins is the team's centerfielder of the (near) future.

But business-being-business won't make it any easier to see Jones be shuttled off to the Brewers or Phillies.

You can deal Machado and Britton. I can live with that.

Seeing Jones in another uniform? I think my stomach's going to hurt.

And it's a shame it has to end this way.

Jones deserves better than to be shipped out like this, but, as I always contend, "nothing good comes from losing".

In an odd way, this wretched campaign authored by the Orioles might be the organization's saving grace when it's all said and done in September.

Had the Birds put together a representative campaign, they might have been buyers at the deadline instead of sellers.

If, say, they were 50-54 at this point, the Birds would have potentially held on to everyone at the deadline in an effort to scratch their way back into wild card contention.

But with the season having been over, basically, since late April, the O's have had plenty of time to get their ducks in a row and figure out how to blow up the team the right way, getting in return a number of potentially useful nuggets as they start the rebuilding process in earnest.

Adam Jones will likely be the last of the veterans to go, although there's still some scuttlebutt that Jonathan Schoop and/or Kevin Gausman could be in the last days of their Orioles tenure(s).

But no one -- not Machado, Britton or anyone else -- will leave a hole in the Orioles the way Jones will if he departs.

It's unlikely he'll return next season as a free agent. The Orioles appear locked and loaded for an outfield filled with youngsters, and there's likely no room for Jones as a starter in 2019.

At 33 (next season), Adam still has lots of good baseball left in him. He can start in the major leagues for several more seasons, albeit probably in right field at this point in this career. Sure, he loves Baltimore. But he doesn't love it enough to become Craig Gentry.

When the day comes that Adam Jones is no longer an Oriole, it will mark the darkest moment, for me, since Mike Mussina was neglected when he became a free agent and the Orioles tried to hoodwink him into signing a lousy contract.

No one has represented the Orioles better than Adam Jones over the last decade. No one. It's not even close.

And as the calendar flips to July 28 and the deadline rapidly approaches, we all should start considering that what we're seeing now might actually be the final days of Jones' career in Charm City.

I'm saddened by it.

The organization will, for a while at least, suffer without him.

And if the baseball gods have a heart, they'll get Jones to a contender this year and link him up with a good team next season as well.

He deserves goodness.

Adam Jones is the best thing that's happened to the Orioles in a long, long time.

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"flacco is light years ahead"


A trusted set of Baltimore media eyes did some moonlighting work for #DMD this week at Ravens camp.

He'd prefer his name not be revealed for fear his employer might question his double-duty and, as he told me, "I still have kids that I'm bankrolling".

But you know him. He's been around a long time. And this week, he agree to slide along a handful of tidbits for The Dish.

His three points main points center on Joe Flacco, Chris Moore and Tony Jefferson.

For identification purposes in this space, we'll refer to our secret reporter as "Mr. Eyes".

According to one trusted media source, Joe Flacco is "light years ahead" of his two quarterbacking counterparts at Ravens training camp.

On Joe Flacco --

"The gap is very close at quarterback," Mr. Eyes reports. "But that narrow gap is the one between Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin. Those two aren't anywhere close to Flacco."

Mr. Eyes continues: "I've been at virtually every practice. Here's the summary: Flacco is light years ahead of both back-ups. It's not even close. I'd go as far to say that Griffin is even ahead of Jackson at this point, if you're going just on what they've done in camp."

When questioned about the "light years" difference, Mr. Eyes says: "Flacco is just better at everything about the position. If Flacco throws 10 passes, 8 are perfect and 2 are off target. And even the off target throws are still somewhat catchable."

"With Jackson's 10 throws, 4 are perfect, 4 are off target and can't be caught, and 2 might be interception possibilities. Jackson's accuracy issues are not just click bait. He has been hit-or-miss thus far. And here's the thing, his (Jackson's) issues are more on the short or intermediate stuff. He's throws a great deep ball. But the rest of his work is very unpredictable."

"Griffin," Mr. Eyes concludes, "has actually been a bit of a surprise. Maybe he's healthy after not playing for most of the last three years, but he looks mobile and alert. His arm isn't terrible, although it's nothing like Flacco's or Jackon's overall."

On Chris Moore --

"The Ravens are quietly starting to think they might have a legit wide receiver in Moore," Mr. Eyes contends. "And there's no doubt that Flacco is building trust in him. The two have clearly developed a 'sync' over the last year. Moore has really good hands, he runs the routes well and the ball just has a habit of finding him, even in traffic. He's been the best receiver at camp thus far and it's probably not close."

On Tony Jefferson --

"Wow. Talk about having a good week," Mr. Eyes reports. "Jefferson might have had the best week of anyone, in any position, this past week. One veteran player I spoke with said, 'Sometimes it takes a year for a guy to get completely comfortable with everything and then he takes off.'"

Jefferson's debut season in purple didn't go so well last season. Maybe this is the year he settles in and makes a name for himself.

"Training camp is training camp," says Mr. Eyes, "and we've all seen camp warriors who couldn't duplicate it in the games that matter, but Jefferson is really raising some eyebrows in camp thus far."

Asked about John Harbaugh and his "mood", Mr. Eyes offered this: "I don't see much difference in John. I thought singling out the rookies was something he doesn't do very often, but the rumor is that stuff was really coming more from the position coaches who don't get the chance to speak with the media all that much and John was flying the flag for them."

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Friday
July 27
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issue 27
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baltimore's most disrespected sports figure


With the recent news that two former Oriole greats are back in the fold with the organization, it brought to mind a topic worth considering here at #DMD.

Who is our area's most disrespected sports figure?

Bringing back both Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray seems like a natural "good move" by the Orioles. Their duties will probably wind up being completely different, but just the idea that the organization is willing to write them a modest check and have them carry around a business card is an idea whose time had come.

Brooks will likely just sit at Camden Yards a few times a year and sign autographs, making the rounds in the club level as well and glad-handing with Orioles sponsors and corporate bigwigs.

Murray will be more "baseball oriented", working with young players at spring training and taking on more of a "coaching" role.

The Ravens have done a great job over the last two decades of honoring their significant contributors.

Their Ring of Honor is a fairly select group of players and staffers who deserve lifelong recognition for their accomplishments. Everyone will always point to Earnest Byner as the outlier in the group, but it's important to remember that wasn't a Ravens decision, it was one made directly by owner Art Modell.

You can argue about guys like Michael McCrary and Peter Boulware if you want, but the fact remains the concept of a "Ring of Honor" is in place to honor those who contributed to the club's history.

So, who deserves recognition and respect that currently isn't getting any? Or enough of it?

When will former Ravens head coach Brian Billick get his name on the team's Ring of Honor wall?

With the Orioles, the obvious pink elephant in the room is Cal Ripken Jr.

Sure, he's in the team's Hall of Fame and he has a statue, but not having Number 8 involved with the club in some sort of formal on-going capacity seems silly.

There are always two sides to a story. Perhaps Cal's too busy hanging out on big boats down in Annapolis to want to fart around with teaching some kid at Bluefield how to play the infield.

Rumors have swirled for a couple of years now that Cal is trying to sell the Ironbirds. If anything, he gives the impression he wants to be involved in less baseball, not more.

But something's not connecting with the Orioles and Ripken.

There's no doubt he and the Ironbirds organization were involved in some small battles with the Orioles when it came to sponsorship dollars. Cal had his contacts, too, of course, and $50,000 that the Ironbirds received for scoreboard advertising, season tickets, in-game promotions and naming rights was $50,000 the Orioles didn't get.

But should that really create a disconnect between the Orioles and the player who essentially ushered in the first five years of the new ballpark circa 1993 while he chased Lou Gehrig's record?

If anything, the Angelos family and the Orioles should be forever indebted to Cal for what he did for them. Brooks might have been "Mr. Oriole" from '65-75, but Cal filled that same role for the better part of two decades ('82-01).

"Disrespect" might be the wrong word, or maybe it's precisely the one Cal uses after a glass of wine or two. If the Orioles can't get him in the fold under what appears to be a new, smart direction headed up by the two Angelos sons, something's really amiss.

As for the Ravens, they too have done a good job of keeping their former stars involved. The effort last season to use four of them for color commentary on radio broadcasts (Justin Forsett, Todd Heap, Jarret Johnson and Dennis Pitta) was a good idea. In fact, it turned into "full time gigs" for Johnson and Pitta, who will share the color duties this coming season.

There are ways to involve players without putting them up in the Ring of Honor. The Ravens are really good at that sort of thing.

But there are people who deserve that extra slice of honor that haven't yet received it from the Ravens.

Three names come to mind right away. Brian Billick, Derrick Mason and Chris McAlister.

Billick is drawing a check from the Ravens (again) these days as a color analyst on the team's locally-produced pre-season broadcasts. Not that he needs the $25,000 (?) he gets for doing those games, but it's nice to know the team still thinks highly enough of you to throw some cash your way.

McAlister pops up in Baltimore once or twice a year at a charity event for a current or former player and from what I hear, never badmouths the organization when he's out and about.

You know where I'm going with this.

When are those two going to be inducted into the Ravens' Ring of Honor?

There's no debate about Billick. He belongs.

McAlister could stir some back-and-forth, I suppose, but let's be honest. If Michael McCrary is in there, McAlister's a no-brainer.

And Mason's only drawback, besides never making a Pro Bowl, which the Ravens say is a requirement for selection, is that he split his career between the Ravens and Titans. Perhaps the team doesn't feel he was "homegrown" enough to warrant selection?

Me? I'd have no trouble at all voting "yes" for Billick, Mason and McAlister.

When are the Ravens going to vote "yes"?

The issue with Billick might be more about John Harbaugh than anything else, although there appears to be no animosity at all between the two of them. Maybe the club just has an unpublished rule that says "we won't honor a former coach while the guy who took his job is still on the sidelines". If so, OK. But that seems a little trivial at this point given that the two of them seem to have no real issue with the other.

McAlister's issue might also be connected to Harbaugh, who inherited the cornerback when he took over the team in 2008 and quickly butted heads with him.

I don't think one of the conditions of John's employment with the team is "Chris McAlister doesn't go in the Ring of Honor while I'm the coach", but maybe the organization doesn't even want to tread in those waters while Harbs is on the sideline still.

Oh, and let's be truthful for a moment. McAlister wasn't exactly a model citizen off the field when he was a member of the Ravens.

The good news: There are plenty of other "no brainers" for the Ravens in terms of future Ring of Honor honorees.

Haloti Ngata.

Terrell Suggs.

Kyle Boller.**

John Harbaugh.

Joe Flacco (but he has to make a Pro Bowl, given the team's requirements for selection).

Justin Tucker.

** -- I just wanted to see if you're still paying attention. Boller obviously isn't a candidate.

Ngata, Suggs, Tucker and Harbaugh are definites.

And here's one that I hope the Ravens consider, because he deserves it: Sam Koch.

But Billick, Mason and McAlister should be next, in some order.

The Ravens haven't inducted someone since Ed Reed went in back in 2015.

What are they waiting for?

And this one is small, but it's been a personal bee in my bonnet for a long time.

I love the Baltimore Blast.

I worked in the organization from 1981 through 1998.

That goalkeeper Scott Manning isn't in the team's Hall of Fame is so outrageously silly that it's......outrageously silly.

There's an apparent back story there that I'd rather not publish, because it would only serve to highlight just how -- wait for it -- outrageously silly the whole thing is. But Manning is not, and apparently never will be, a Blast Hall of Famer.

From a performance standpoint, that would be like the Ravens not having Ed Reed in their Ring of Honor.

That's how good Manning was for the Blast from 1982 through 1991.

I used to get a vote on the team's Hall of Fame every year, circa 2005. I wrote Manning's name in a few times. I eventually didn't get a vote anymore.

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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 trades of Manny Machado and Zach Britton to the Dodgers and Yankees have injected a bit of excitement into the past couple of weeks of the Orioles' season.

Well, at least to the extent that trading away two all-time franchise greats, to start with, and undergoing a full on rebuilding process can excite anyone. It might not be fun to think about all of the losing that might be ahead of the Birds, but it is fun to get an infusion of young talent to project beliefs on, and it's not like it can realistically get any worse.

If nothing else, at least the moves signal a change in direction from a teach on pace for an historic number of losses.

But the best thing is that, by all appearances, the Orioles are actually doing a good job of this!

In sharp contrast to last year, much of this year's pre-deadline chatter focused on how tight with prospects buyers would be, and how small returns for rental players were likely to end up.

In spite of that, the Orioles turned Machado and Britton into packages that include a lot of depth, especially for intriguing bullpen/late rotation arms, and one top 50-75 prospect. They did that by allowing potential buyers to create a market by bidding against one another, and with the sort of calculated leaks to the media you don't see from them very often.

Even last year when they were seriously shopping Britton you never really saw the kind of leaks about negotiations that we had this year, particularly with Machado. That's likely because Peter Angelos has a rather tortured relationship with the local media, but throwing out leaks of names discussed only increases your leverage in talks, so refusing to throw out these nuggets to help reporters ultimately only hurts your position.

Whoever is pulling off these deals deserves a lot of credit, and if it is in fact Dan Duquette the new generation of ownership needs to continue their recent trend of organizational improvements by giving him a new contract already, and finally letting him run baseball operations like a real general manager.

There are naysayers, of course. In fact that includes Drew, to a degree, who often notes that the Orioles probably would have gotten more for their assets if they had traded them earlier. Well not only is there no real evidence for that, I'm pretty sure it's just totally wrong.

Could the Orioles have received more for Manny Machado by dealing him last July? #DMD's Brien Jackson doesn't think so.

Let's start with Manny. First, there's the market itself. By all accounts, the Dodgers, Brewers, and Phillies. None of those teams would likely have been players in the market at an earlier point. Milwaukee and Philadelphia weren't expected to be in their current positions, and the Dodgers were set on the left side of the infield with Corey Seager and Justin Turner. There would have been other teams involved, to be sure, perhaps someone like....the Diamondbacks.

Arizona's behavior this past month is a really strong bellwether for us in gauging the question of what Machado's value over the winter really was. That's because the Diamondbacks were heavily discussed both over the winter and at the deadline, but while they were apparently distant contenders at acquiring Manny this month, multiple reports have claimed they made the most aggressive offers over the winter.

If you subscribe to the theory that more team control time left equates to better offers in trade talks then it makes sense that the Diamondbacks would lower their offer between January and July. But given the landscape of the pennant chase, it actually makes no sense at all.

The Diamondbacks went into the All-Star game neck and neck with the Dodgers in the N.L. West standings. For all intents and purposes they had the same odds of winning the division at that point as they did on Opening Day.

If anything they might have had a *better* chance, since few would have projected them to be so close to Los Angeles at this point prior to the season. So whatever Arizona thought it was worth to have Manny Machado help them attempt to win their division in January is at least what they ought to think it's worth now.

That's not to say that Arizona didn't in fact reduce their offer, only that it wouldn't be logical for them to do so. And if they were willing to make the same trades they talked about in January, that very strongly implies that those offers weren't as good as what the Orioles got from the Dodgers.

Britton's case is even more straight-forward, since the return the Orioles got from the Yankees is better than anything that was reportedly on offer for him this time last year. The Astros might have considered as many as 12 prospects completely off limits, and they were the ones who came closest to making a deal!

Remember how the national media spent a week or so pillorying the Dodgers and Astros for overvaluing prospects and not being more aggressive in going after Britton, at least until they went in a completely different direction and bolstered their starting rotations with Yu Darvish and Justin Verlander, respectively?

But this year the market was different.

For starters, there are fewer concerns about his health, and he's pitching more effectively and getting his two-seamer back to the 96-97 MPH range. Further, even if you are worried about his health, he's a free agent at the end of the season and you won't have to worry about committing an eight figure arbitration figure to him next season.

That's the thing about longer periods of team control that people forget about: It also means more years of committing to the player financially, and more money they have to pay in the short term. That simply might not be something that a lot of teams are willing, or easily able, to do. Finally the starting pitching market looks much thinner then it did last year, and the looming free agent class isn't particularly wowing either, so there's once again a bull market for relievers.

In short, every market is unique, with a lot of moving parts, and generalized theories/rules don't actually dictate behavior. Think about coolers for a second. Yeti coolers really are higher quality products than the cheap brands you can get for $30 a pop, and they're certainly built to last longer.

If we apply the logic of control time, then it stands to reason that everyone who buys a cooler would pay more to get a Yeti or another top of the line quality brand. But of course that's not how things work at all. Lots of people have a certain price they're willing to pay for a cooler, and the simple fact that a Yeti is better and "worth more" in theory doesn't force them to be willing to pay more than $30 on a cooler.

And if you happen to find yourself in a market with limited buyers where no one is willing to pay more than $30 for a cooler, than Yeti is going to have to drastically drop their price to make any sales.

This isn't terribly important to analyzing how the Orioles did in dealing away Machado and Britton, as both deals are done and we can't compare with certainty any other offers that were on the table. But there are a lot of fans clamoring for the team to consider trading away guys like Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Mychal Givens, and Dylan Bundy too, and I suspect quite a few people will be angry when some, or all, of those guys are still Orioles at the end of next week.

And if they are traded later, I'm sure there will be a bunch of missives about how they could have brought more in return if the Orioles had only traded them at the 2018 deadline instead of wasting time.

The Orioles' decision makers should definitely ignore that line of thinking. That's how you end up like the Cincinnati Reds who, in December 2015 traded Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees for Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda, and Caleb Cotham, only to watch the Yankees trade him to the Cubs in July in exchange for Gleyber Torres.

Torres alone was worth more than the entire package of players the Reds got for an entire season of Chapman, and arguably worth more than the package the Yankees got for Andrew Miller, which included Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, despite Miller having two additional years under contract. The Yankees simply found themselves the beneficiaries of perfect timing: The Cubs were running away with their division, chasing their first World Series win in over 100 years, and had a major need for a bullpen ace that they were willing to give away one of the very best prospects in the game to fill.

That situation didn't exist over the previous winter, and the Reds made an all-time major blunder by committing themselves to moving Chapman when they did instead of waiting on the market to improve.

That's not to say that things will always work out that way, of course. You can't predict what future markets will be like, for better or for worse. If Britton brought back a bigger return this year than he would have last year, for example, the Orioles definitely got better offers for Brad Brach in 2017 than anything they'll get this year. But the nature of something being unpredictable is that you can't get far by making hard and fast predictions about how it will play out.

The Orioles need to shop everyone on their roster, including guys with multiple years of team control remaining. But they need to decide what they want in return for those players now, and hold fast to that position. The worst thing they can do is assume that someone like Schoop or Gausman will never have more value than he does now, and commit to making a deal with whoever the highest bidder happens to be at the moment.

That's how the Yankees get an All-Star rookie and bona fide superstar, while the Reds end up with four guys whose names I've already forgotten.

Thursday
July 26
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issue 26
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peter never got it, but john does


Eddie Murray is back.

No, not to play first base. Given the struggles of Chris Davis, I can understand why you might have considered that.

A couple of weeks after creating a position in the organization for Brooks Robinson, the O's announced on Wednesday they've done the same thing with Eddie. It's called "Special Advisor", which gives Murray and Brooks just enough of a blank canvas to basically do whatever they want.

Let's call it like it is: Those two gigs are gravy. The guys show up at spring training, put sunscreen on, and roam around the field trying to impart any nugget of wisdom they can on a young player who is just learning the game.

It's found money for guys like Brooks and Eddie.

And it's also paramount that the Orioles do it.

It seems natural to outsiders like you and I that all-time greats like Eddie, Brooks and -- yes -- Cal Ripken Jr. are part of the team's existence even now, long after their playing days are over.

It's natural to us, but it hasn't been natural to the Orioles.

Brooks and Eddie weren't involved over the last 25 years. Neither has Cal Ripken since his retirement.

John Angelos is apparently changing the way the Orioles do things. And doing so very quickly.

Brooks is back.

Eddie is back.

Seen here with former manager Earl Weaver during a visit to Camden Yards in the mid 2000's, Eddie Murray was at Camden Yards on Wednesday night to meet with the media after the Orioles announced he's been hired as a special advisor.

Kids are going to the games free.

The Orioles just gutted their roster for all intents and purposes by trading away two of the five players on the team who are actually any good.

It's clear by now that Peter Angelos no longer runs the day-to-day operations of the organization. That task has been handed over to his two sons, Louis and John.

When asked on Wednesday night why he was accepting his new role with the team, Murray was candid: "Because John Angelos called me."

He also added something else important: “It was a great conversation we had,” Murray said. “He was letting me know that there’s definitely going to be a change made here. They say this is their chance to shine also and they would really like to get down here on this field turned around. It’s no doubt it made it easy. John really just spoke about trying to get something done.”

He did get something done with Murray. Something his father never could, sadly.

Oddly, Brooks said almost the exact same thing before the All-Star break when he was asked the same question.

All it took was a phone call and an appeal for help.

Murray, Brooks -- probably even Cal, too -- just wanted the phone call. They weren't begging for it, per se, but all it took was for an Angelos to reach out and ask for help.

For reasons none of us will ever know, Peter didn't want those guys involved. It seems silly to not want them involved, right? But Peter never did.

John gets it, though.

We're a sports town with a lot of blemishes and flaws. If you grew up here, you know what I mean. But "our guys" are always our guys, particularly those who embed themselves in the community and live amongst us.

Eddie, Brooks, Cal -- they represent what a lot of us believe the Orioles should represent.

A link to the past.

A connection to better days.

Sure, Cal's not part of the group yet, officially, but John needs to figure out how to make that happen too. There's no way you can have Brooks and Eddie as "special advisors" and not have Cal Ripken, Jr. involved as well.

I'm sure John will make that happen.

In the meantime, though, this "new start" under the two Angelos boys is very encouraging.

Yes, the team's terrible.

Yes, it might even get worse before it gets better.

And, yes, there's no guarantee it's actually all going to come together and work out favorably.

But for the first time since 1993, the Orioles apparently understand that the old days are important around here. They matter. And the players who wore orange and black in the 60's, 70's and 80's should not only never be forgotten, they should be connected to the teams of the future.

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the long putter debate


Occasionally cranky but mostly sensible, #DMD commenter "Herman" threw a bunch of logs in the pit over the weekend and lit the "long putter fire", essentially opining that the tool should be banned from golf.

This isn't the easiest thing for me to cover, since I've been using a long putter for the better part of a dozen years now.

I'm a believer. And a customer.

But it's also much easier for me to offer analysis and reasoning about the long putter since I use one. I'm not trying to be caustic when I write this: If you don't use one -- or never have -- it's almost impossible for your opinion on the matter to have any merit at all.

Here's the very first thing I'll say about the long putter that is an absolute fact. If it truly was a "game improvement club", you'd see 90% or more of the players on the PGA Tour using one.

Metal head clubs came out in the early 1990's. They were a game changer. It's 2018. No player, anywhere, uses a persimmon (wood) club anymore.

Graphite shafts in drivers and woods of all kind, with varying degrees of flex, weight and kick points, became the norm in the late 1990's and the equipment guys have never looked back. You almost never see anyone swing a driver these days with a steel shaft in it.

The hybrid club came out around 2000 and has effectively replaced the two iron, three iron and four iron, depending on your personal preference.

Metal headed clubs changed the game for the better.

Graphite shafts changed the game for the better.

Hybrid clubs changed the game for the better.

Long putters haven't changed the game for the better or everyone would be toying with one or using one.

Bernhard Langer recently finished 1-under par in the British Open at age 60.

Now...the long putter has certainly changed my game. And I'm pretty certain anyone who has used one for any length of time would probably admit the same thing.

But as a piece of equipment that has globally altered the way golfers everywhere play the sport? The long putter hasn't done that.

I don't hear anyone saying the graphite shaft should be outlawed.

But there are always people whining about the long putter and how it should no longer be permitted.

I don't understand that.

Unless...

And here's where I'll explain precisely why most people use the long putter. And when I do, your opinion might favor banning it.

Honestly? You might be right.

When played at a high level (i.e., "tournament golf"), the sport of golf requires an extraordinary level of nerve-control.

If you're tense, you can't make a repeatable golf swing.

Nerves interfere with your touch shots and the ones within 60 yards or so. If you flinch at your 44 yard third shot into a par-5 hole, you're probably not making birdie.

Putting, of course, is the application within golf that requires the player to quiet his or her nerves the most.

I started using the long putter in 2004 after a bomb went off in my hands in the final round of the Maryland Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Mount Pleasant.

I attempted a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole with my trusty Odyssey (short) putter and just as I went to strike the ball, my hands flinched, I hit the top quarter of the ball, and it wandered off to the right, some 10 feet short of the hole.

I looked at the guys I was playing with. They looked at me.

"What the hell was that?" I said to them, knowing they likely didn't know the answer and probably hadn't even seen what actually occurred.

I won't bore you with the rest of the details, but two months later, after several bouts with "flinching" (this is different than the "yips", by the way), I went to the long putter.

In the first golf tournament I ever played with the long putter, I birdied the first five holes at Mount Pleasant, eventually dipped to seven under through ten holes, and won the Baltimore Fall Publinx with scores of 67-69.

I was sold.

No more flinching.

It's now 2018 and I can say without hesitation that I've never flinched at a putt using the long putter.

I can also add this, because I think it's a supremely interesting part of the story. In 2012, I went back to the short putter for a month or two and actually didn't flinch during that period. Then, one day, out of nowhere, I was faced with a 20-foot uphill putt at the 5th hole at Mountain Branch and -- BAM!!!!! -- out of nowhere, I flinched at it.

And the flinches were back.

But not for long.

I then toyed around with a short left-handed putter. Putting left-handed wasn't foreign to me. I played hockey "left handed", I could switch hit as a baseball player, I shoot pool "left handed" and I can even throw a ball with moderate success with my left hand.

Putting from the left side was natural. I once made five birdies in a Maryland Open round putting from both sides of the ball.

If the putt I faced broke left-to-right (a "cut" putt for righties), I would putt it left-handed. If the putt I faced broke right-to-left (a "hook" putt), I'd putt it with the long putter. My goal was to make every putt a hook putt, as those were far easier for me to stroke for some reason.

In that Maryland Open round, I made two birdie putts from the left side and three from the right side. My playing competitor that day said afterwards, "I've been playing tournament golf for 29 years and I've never seen anything like that."

I took it as a compliment, even though I assumed it wasn't intended to sound like one.

For reasons I don't remember, I stopped that practice and putted exclusively with a short left handed putter for a while.

And, by the way, I never flinched with a left-handed short putter. Weird, right?

In case you care, the clinical term for what was (and still is) afflicting me is: focal dystonia. You can look it up. It's an interesting medical condition, one more common around painters and musicians. But lots of golfers are prone to focal dystonia as well. It's not fun.

Around 2014, I went back to the long putter and it's been in my bag ever since.

If they made a rule tomorrow that stated every right handed golfer MUST putt with a short, standard length right handed putter, I might have to stop playing competitive golf. Seriously. I'd give it my best, but once I started flinching again, I'd never be able to compete.

So if your belief is the long putter should be banned because it "helps" people who otherwise might not be able to handle their nerves, there's some testimony to support your argument.

But my counter argument would be that I have a medical condition. I don't have a "nerves condition". I have a medical condition. Much like a player with a bad knee can request a golf cart in a USGA event and ride the course while others he's competing against walk it, what afflicts me isn't something I can control.

I'd love to putt with a short right-handed putter. I played the best golf of my life circa 2000 when I was putting with a short putter. I just no longer can do it.

And here's what else I haven't told you.

And it's kind of important for anyone who thinks putting with the long putter is "wrong" or "cheating".

My putting -- with the long putter -- isn't really all that much better, results wise, than it would be with the short putter, flinches and all.

I just think it's better because I'm not flinching at it anymore.

Scott McCarron won last year's Champions Tour event at Caves Valley employing the long putter and several players questioned the legality of his putting motion.

Here's something else interesting. I was, 20 years ago, what I would considered a "really good" putter. It was the strongest part of my game.

Once my focal dystonia showed up, I was quickly no longer a really good putter. And I've never been a really good putter with the long putter.

I've played great golf occasionally when the long putter has been in my bag, but the best putting days of my life occurred when I putted with the short, right handed putter.

Don't get me wrong, I do putt better with the long putter now than I would with a short one. But it's not overwhelmingly better.

Remember what I wrote above: If golfers automatically putted better using the long putter, they would ALL be using it. It's that simple.

Now, we get to the tricky part.

The fancy golf word is "anchoring". The not-so-fancy word is "cheating".

I'm very blessed. From the day I started using the long putter, I never anchored my top hand to my chest and I never putted with my left arm "locked" against my side.

Before 2016, you could anchor the putter and/or lock your lead arm against your body without penalty. The new rules that went into place on January 1, 2016, removed those two mechanical options. Your top hand can no longer rest on your body and your lead arm can't "lock" into your body.

Those changes were easy for me, because I didn't do either one in the first place.

But there are others who play the game professionally who are being judged and critiqued every week. And I'll say this: It's very, very, very close. I don't think Bernhard Langer is anchoring his putter. But it's very close.

Scott McCarron says he's not anchoring. But it's very close.

Those two are the ones in the spotlight the most, although former Masters champion Adam Scott is now back to the long putter and he's going to go through weekly scrutiny as well.

Langer and McCarron know they're being watched. They've been questioned by PGA Tour officials and other players, even. There's no reason for either of them to anchor given the radar they're under.

Langer is a devout Christian. He's not one who would cheat. I trust he isn't. When I watch him, I'm sure he's cognizant of where his hands are and how it "looks" to those who have their eyes on him.

But it's very close, for sure.

I don't think McCarron would risk his professional career and integrity by anchoring his putter.

Sung Kang -- a PGA Tour player -- just found out what it's like to be accused of cheating a few weeks ago. He'll never lose that tag.

I don't see Langer or McCarron risking their reputation.

Neither of those guys needs the money so much that they'd openly violate the rules to earn it.

I once felt so betrayed by my putter at a club tournament I put it in the bag room after the 9th hole and putted the back nine with my sand wedge. I had 12 putts in 9 holes and shot 36.

It was a fluke, of course. But the fact remains, it shouldn't matter how you get the ball in the hole as long as you're abiding by the rules.

I think Langer and McCarron are abiding by them, albeit right down to the whisker, in my opinion.

I know I'm abiding by them.

I just wish the long putter helped me more.

As my old golfing pal Dave Bimestefer once said about his own woes with the flat stick, "I can putt better than this. I just never do."

How true...how true.

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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.


yo john…it doesn't matter


Back in early June, the Ravens were forced to cancel their final two Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices after the NFL determined the team had violated the contact rules of offseason workouts. The league fined the team $100,000 and slapped a $50,000 penalty on head coach John Harbaugh.

Two seasons ago, Harbaugh and the Ravens had been similarly admonished, losing three OTA days. Something to do with pass coverage, from what I remember. The 1970s Oakland Raiders bump-and-run is no longer kosher in camp, I guess.

On Monday, in response to a question about rookie tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, each of whom missed practice, Harbaugh began a long-winded soliloquy about college players not being “callused up” anymore. He used that exact term four times, as if he’d been thinking about it all day.

I don’t know what’s going on with John Harbaugh these days. Maybe he’s nervous about losing his job, or just feisty about how the silly NFL and its collectively bargained agreement with players keeps hurting him in the pocketbook. Maybe he’s just an old-school guy from an old-school football family.

I’m quite positive that he views the lack of contact allowed in practices in the NFL and in college football as detrimental to player development and coaching effectiveness. I don’t know a coach who doesn’t feel that way.

It’s just that…he’s not helping himself here.

Under the gun in 2018, John Harbaugh hasn't been shy about speaking out on issues in training camp.

The Ravens have now been penalized twice in three years for breaking the rules in the offseason. The team knows that it’s required to film all its practice sessions and keep copies until 30 days after the start of the regular season, and that practice video can be requested randomly.

Yet somehow, it happened twice to Harbaugh’s team in three years. Maybe he’s ok with falling on his sword, or maybe there’s a player or players who’ve snitched when they didn’t have to. Perhaps he and his staff have just been lousy about teaching. But it doesn’t matter. He’s the head coach, and it’s embarrassing.

Fast forward to training camp six weeks later, and it’s clear that Harbaugh isn’t over it. He was bugged that Hurst and Andrews weren’t out there because of tissue concerns, and he had his speech ready.

All about joints and tendons and ligaments and mental toughness and “football shape” and, yes, being callused up. All that stuff that wouldn’t exist if things like the 2011 CBA didn’t exist.

Maybe he’s right, or maybe he’s completely off base. Again, though, it doesn’t matter.

In the NFL in 2018, you have the time that you have to practice and the rules that you follow. It’s eminently clear that you can be punished for not following them. That’s it. Anything else is just an excuse, especially when you’ve missed the playoffs three years in a row.

Harbaugh is a successful coach in a tough spot, regardless of his thoughts on injuries and practice and contact and shoulder pads.

The front office, presumably with some input from Harbaugh, drafted Lamar Jackson in the first round. Whatever you think about Jackson or the guy he’ll be playing behind, Joe Flacco, it’s a distraction of sorts that the head coach has never experienced before.

There’s a chance it could be a real annoyance during the season, or there’s a chance that Flacco could play like it’s January 2013 and Jackson will be relegated to an afterthought, at least for now. No matter what happens, it’s new.

In his 11th year as head coach, Harbaugh has a team without a real identity on either offense or defense. It says something when Alex Collins, who wasn’t on the team at this point in training camp last year, seems like the most known quantity on offense besides Flacco. There’s a new defensive coordinator, always an adjustment even with some good veteran players.

Yes, the kicker and punter still look pretty good. Hey, even the free agent 6-foot-4 kicker from Norway via Kansas via Marshall University looks like a real stud, though he won’t make the team. Harbaugh suggested he’s good enough that another team might trade a draft pick to the Ravens for him.

Since that draft pick won’t be playing for the Ravens in 2018, he won’t have any say in whether Harbaugh keeps his job.

And if the Ravens don’t make the playoffs in 2018, there’s no way he keeps that job. I’m sure he knows it, whether he’s been told it specifically or not, and maybe it’s giving him a bit more agita and paranoia than normal. Or maybe 2,000 fans at training camp every day is already starting to get on his nerves.

Whatever the case, he should lay off the monologues about the relative preparedness of rookies in the NFL in 2018. The other 31 teams in the NFL have the same problem, assuming it’s a problem. He might have been a bit more Belichickian about the whole thing — “we practiced with the guys we had out there, tomorrow we’ll practice with the guys we have out there, on to Chicago” — and gone on to the next question.

Then there’s the fate of players once they get to Harbaugh’s team. Forget about coaches…when the 2011 NFL lockout ended, even some of the players thought the elimination of hard-edged two-a-days in the preseason was a mistake.

The former Raven Bart Scott, then playing for the Jets, said that “it’s about endurance, pain, will, putting yourself through something when your body is telling you it doesn’t want to go. Your mind controlling your body — that’s what camp is all about.”

That was seven years ago. At the end of the following season, Scott’s former teammate Ray Lewis, the president of the Endurance, Pain and Will society, finally hung up his cleats.

In pro football, the land of three-year careers, six or seven years is an eternity. There isn’t one player left in the NFL, even the ones that were playing in the league prior to 2011, that wishes he could go through all that fun that Scott mentioned. Maybe the average player in the NFL doesn’t have the same endurance and will, but they’ll still give a whole lot of effort if it means enough to them.

The coach, as always, has something to do with that.

Yes, when Harbaugh was a younger coach, NFL teams and college teams often practiced twice a day in training camp in full pads. And yes, that meant that guys practiced all day and ran all day, as he said this past Monday, especially the younger guys. Maybe that helped prevent injury, or maybe it meant that an injury had to be more serious before it kept someone out of practice.

Again, though, it doesn’t matter. We’re here in the summer of 2018, a couple thousand fans a day are willing to brave the rainiest July in local history to watch training camp, and they’d like to see an improved team on the field by September.

I’m guessing Harbaugh would like the chance to be back at training camp in 2019 too.

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Wednesday
July 25
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issue 25
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harbaugh sends loud, clear message


On Monday at training camp, John Harbaugh took the truth serum and let loose.

With several rookies on the sidelines throughout the first week of practice with various injuries and ailments, the coach had seen enough.

"One thing I've noticed: Guys coming out of college aren't as callused up as they used to be," Harbaugh said. "We used to practice twice a day in full pads. And those players know -- I'm talking to you out there who know, who've played in the National Football League or played in college 10, 15 years ago -- it's not even close to the same thing."

Right on, coach. In the old days, football players used to actually practice in training camp. Practice football, even.

The coach didn't stop there.

"There's a certain type of 'in shape,' certain type of football fitness, certain type of callusness -- muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments -- that kind of toughen up. They callus up a little bit, and you can practice all day and run all day. Then our guys coming in right now, most of them don't have that," the coach explained.

Don't worry Hayden Hurst. He didn't mention you by name.

But he did mention veterans like Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams.

"Guys like Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams...they're not batting an eye. Why? Because they're callused up, because they know how to practice, because their bodies are just tougher," Harbaugh said. "There's a physical toughness to it. They're mentally tough. But you have to practice football to be able to practice football the right way."

Shots fired.

Originally, the overall discussion was about Ray Lewis, that somehow morphed into a 60-second explanation of why today's young football players take a while to wrap their head around the difficulties of the NFL.

Harbaugh's right, though.

College players get to NFL training camps and say to themselves, "Are we ever actually going to play football?"

It's a collective-bargaining issue, of course. Harbaugh and every NFL coach will say the right thing publicly, but privately they detest how soft the game, training camp and players have become over the last decade or so.

Seeing his two rookie tight ends on the sideline on Monday pushed the Ravens leader to finally break the silence.

Whether the blame lies in the college ranks or within the NFL exclusively, it's clear -- at least by what Harbaugh said -- there's a missing level of toughness with players who come into the pro ranks.

The likely source is the NFL team's inability to actually put on football pads and hit one another. There are rules around "contact" for every camp, including within the season itself, when an intelligent person would actually think it's reasonable and prudent to actually practice football.

This is where people who don't actually play the sport will rise up, shake their fist and say, "But......the concussions."

I remember ex-Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan saying something to me once during a brief sit down out at the "old" facility where Stevenson University is now located.

We were discussing the college draft and what kind of player appealed to him, personally.

"As a defensive coach, I look for guys who enjoy contact. Some football players deal with it, but they don't actually like it. Others enjoy hitting someone. I want that guy."

Nolan and folks like Harbaugh have seen a tremendous change in the NFL in the last two decades. It's football, still, but the way a player prepares for it and practices it actually restrict his ability to improve and upgrade his skill level.

Remember that the next time you're barking about Breshad Perriman dropping a pass over the middle or C.J. Mosely failing to properly tackle an opposing tight end after a catch-and-run.

They're hardly allowed to practice football anymore. How are they supposed to get better?

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holy cow, the orioles are actually going through with it


The Orioles did the New York Yankees quite the favor on Tuesday.

First, they gave them one of the game's best closer, Zach Britton, for the final two months of the regular season.

Second, they beat the Red Sox at Camden Yards before an announced gathering of 13,000 and some change, 7-6.

I know, you can't believe it either, right?

But which part?

It sure was fun while it lasted. Zach Britton is now a member of the Yankees.

Zach Britton to the Yankees?

The Orioles winning a game?

Or 13,000 people showing up to see one of the best teams in baseball?

The attendance issue can easily be shrugged off. No one wants to go see the Orioles, they're (now) 29-73. DF's note: For some bizarre reason, I'm going down there this Friday night.

And it's been raining for the last five days, too. Instead of calling Uber to pick you up from Camden Yards, you should call Arc instead.

The most surprising thing about Tuesday night came around 8 pm when word filtered out that the Yankees and Orioles had agreed on a trade to send Zach Britton to New York for three Yankees prospects.

None of them are as intriguing or highly thought of as the centerpiece of last week's deal with the Dodgers, Yusniel Diaz. All three Yankees minor leaguers fall outside of The Top 100, which is basically the litmus test for an "elite" prospect vs. a "quality prospect".

But, all three come to Baltimore with major-league-caliber potential.

RHP Dillon Tate, LHP Josh Rogers and RHP Cody Carroll are all headed to Charm City. Tate and Rogers are starters, while Carroll is a relief pitcher.

The Texas Rangers originally selected Tate with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, then traded him a year later to New York for a package highlighted by Carlos Beltran. The 24-year-old is 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 15 starts with Double-A Trenton this year. Prior to the season, Tate was rated the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees' system.

Carroll and Rogers also were in the 2015 draft class.

Carroll, taken by the Yankees in the 22nd round out of Southern Mississippi, was ranked as the team's No. 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline entering this season. In 32 relief appearances at Triple-A Scranton, the 25-year-old righty was 3-0 with nine saves and a 2.81 ERA.

Rogers was an 11th-round pick out of Louisville. The 24-year-old southpaw was 6-8 with a 3.95 ERA in 19 starts with Scranton.

It's always important to note, naturally, that all three players still have to pass their Orioles physical. Tate has been on the disabled list twice this season, so his records will get an especially long look from the Birds.

There's an old saying in sports, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings."

In Baltimore, it goes: "The trade isn't done until the team doctor says so."

But if everything turns out OK, the Birds will have made their second significant move in the last week. And if trading Manny Machado wasn't enough of an indicator that the Orioles are "rebuilding", Britton's departure etches it in stone.

Duquette even discussed Adam Jones on Tuesday, although he was quick to point out that Jones has 10/5 veto power and that anything the club did, trade wise, would have to be completed with Adam's approval.

It will be a smidgen painful to watch Britton close games for New York over the next two months, especially ones involving the Orioles.

But it probably won't be quite as bad as watching Britton in D.C. next season as a member of the Nationals.

Oh, and one more thing: You're welcome, Yankees.

Enjoy your new bullpen arm. You got yourselves one helluva pitcher.

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NOTES & COMMENT
George McDowell


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


brave new electronic world


In the #DMD Comments section recently, I and several others were schooled on the realities of how TV ratings drive the content of championship-golf broadcasts. Specifically, we (and I suspect the members of this "we" are in our golden years) had objected to the constant exposure of an individual golfer – although in my case the objection was to a different golfer – to the point where the broadcasts were for us nearly unwatchable.

It was kindly although brutally explained in separate comments by DAN and by M.A.C. that the overwhelming majority of viewers preferred this wall-to-wall coverage of said golfer[s], and that most of the remaining viewers simply didn't care that they were inundated with images of him. The tiny percentage of viewers left, which included us [the "we"], was so small that its collective opinion didn't even move the needle in the production truck.

Regular #DMD columnist David Rosenfeld softened the blow in a comment by explaining the difficulties of determining who might win the championship or come close and then apportioning camera coverage to those golfers while still maintaining full blanket coverage of the star of the show. He wrote, 'Every shot of his is an "event."' Sad for us but true for all.

So it looks at first glance like we are resigned to the choice of simply not watching the telecasts or watching the content the dominant majority requires.

However, #DMD proprietor and noted golf mentor DF has a saying: "If you give up they win so don't give up." — Monosyllabic gold! — But how do we not give up?

We may have discovered a way, and will share it here, realizing it may be of value only to those who disdain the near-constant coverage of a single golfer. The global network called Eleven Sports has acquired the live and exclusive broadcast rights in the UK [England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales] and Ireland for the 2018 PGA Championship. Eleven Sports will broadcast the championship – by live stream on its website and on Android and iOS mobile and tablet devices – from 7:00 pm BST [2:00 pm EST] through the close of play each of the first two days, and from 5:00 pm BST [noon EST] to close of play on Saturday and Sunday.

The video feed will be from Eleven Sports' own cameras on site and live and taped feeds from whatever American station has the broadcast rights. Here is a clip from the Eleven Sports website:

In-depth presentation, commentary and analysis will be provided by golf experts and familiar faces Dominik Holyer and Anna Whiteley.

Dominik is one of golf’s most respected broadcasters, having worked for Sky Sports, Setanta and IMG, presenting golf as well as providing commentary from all over the world on the European Tour and USPGA events. Anna, who has previously hosted golf events for Sky Sports and The Golf Channel is also the host of IMG's golf magazine TV show Golfing World, broadcasting around the world to over 35 international broadcasters.

Online personality, amateur golfer and host of ‘Seb on Golf’ on YouTube, Seb Carmichael-Brown, will also be part of the team to provide a knowledgeable but entertaining and youthful edge to ELEVEN’s production of the tournament.

The ELEVEN SPORTS team will be on the ground at the Championship to capture all the action inside and outside the ropes, interviewing players and gauging the reaction from fans at the Bellerive Country Club. More pundits, including professional golfers, will be announced soon.

We can assume, safely I believe, that these European broadcasters will serve their viewers with coverage of the leaders, whoever they may be, and also cover Alex and Tommy and Rory and Thorbjørn and Jon and Tyrrell and Kiradech and Rafa and Justin, as well as American stars, as equal time permits.

To receive the stream from Eleven Sports, two problems must be overcome.

The first is that the stream might be geo-blocked, that is, available only to devices that use an IP address issued from a server located in either the UK or Ireland. However, there is no indication on the site the stream is restricted to these areas. A way to have your computer or phone broadcast a local IP address is to install a Virtual Private Network, referred to as a VPN. Some of these cost money. Mine costs $2.75 per month. Search for VPNs online – there are many. Once installed, it will present you with a list of servers and the countries in which they are located. Select one in the UK countries or in Ireland and connect to it. Test it by going to a site such as "What is My IP?" and confirm it locates you in the country you selected. [Please note: There are a variety of reasons this hare-brained scheme might fail, so know that if it doesn't work and you've purchased a VPN, then you're stuck with the VPN.]

The second problem is that Eleven Sports is offering the stream of the PGA Championship as part of a seven-day free trial of its paid subscription service. [Details on how to subscribe and pricing will be announced in early August on the Eleven Sports website.] Therefore, watching the PGA will be free, but you'll still have to give up credit-card information when signing up to evaluate the service. We can't know if, when keying in your credit-card information, the machinery will sniff out that the card is from outside the geo-blocked area. If it does, the scheme will fail, unless you can persuade a friend or relative within the area to subscribe for you.

Assuming these problems can be overcome, there remains yet a further potential problem – one that could be catastrophic. Let's call the golfer that most people object to being covered wall-to-wall Golfer A. And let's call the golfer that this writer objects to seeing shown constantly Golfer B. Now let's assume that Golfer A gets off to a blisteringly good start on Day One, and that Golfer B does the same. Further assume that they each keep up their torrid paces, and find themselves separated on Sunday morning by a dozen shots from the rest of the field . . . .

No, let's not do that.

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Tuesday
July 24
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issue 24
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"you should write about tiger every day"


A friend in the internet business who knows far more than I do about all things web-related sent me a funny text yesterday just after 5:00 pm.

"You should write about Tiger Woods every day! I've never seen your comment section so lively."

He was remarking about the plethora of interaction from Monday's #DMD, where a large number of you chimed in about Tiger's performance in the British Open and NBC's coverage of Sunday's final round.

Not only was the comment section lively, but Monday's edition of #DMD ranked as the 4th highest traffic day since we launched on August 25, 2014. And it now ranks as the largest traffic day ever in the month of July.

Thanks, Tiger. The check's in the mail.

As for writing about him every day, that's obviously not possible. I can't even write about the Orioles every day. Or the Ravens.

But there's no denying that Woods is a lightning rod. The very thing a lot of his critics complain about (expanded coverage, mostly) becomes part of the meal they create themselves when they contribute commentary on sites like #DMD.

This year's British Open showed a 37% increase in final round viewing thanks in large part to the position of Tiger Woods on the leaderboard.

It becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. "There's no way people should be talking about Tiger so much," says the person writing about Tiger.

Forced to consider the interaction I witnessed on Monday, my reasons for covering "all things Tiger" get supported with every click and every comment. It's a little bit like ESPN's coverage of LeBron James. They cover everything he does because no one else in basketball generates anything close to the tidal wave of opinion and activity created by The King.

Let's be serious for a minute. If Woods wouldn't have played in the British Open -- or missed the cut, even -- there would have been, at best, a handful of comments about Jordan Spieth's final round demise. Maybe.

(Then again, had Woods not played in the final round, Spieth might have kept his head together and actually played decent golf on Sunday. Another one bites the dust...)

No one in golf comes close to sparking discussion like Woods. Rory McIlroy finished tied for second on Sunday. He couldn't birdie two of the final four holes to work his way into a playoff. Does anyone care? Not a bit.

McIlroy moves the golf needle about as much as Chris Davis scares a left-handed pitcher.

Spieth might sell a lot of golf apparel, but no one is putting off cutting the lawn to watch him play the first five holes of the final round.

"I'll catch him on the back nine, right after I trim the weeds around the fence," you'd say.

I write (and talk) about Woods when the occasion is logical because he is always the story.

"But he's 42 years old," someone will say.

That's correct. He is. And as the TV numbers indicated over the weekend, he's the biggest drawing 42 year old in the sport of golf.

"He hasn't won a major in a decade," the critics will point out.

Indeed, he hasn't. And that's what makes stuff like Sunday even all the more newsworthy. Coming out of a three-year hiberation, playing in his 12th golf tournament of the season, Woods came within a back-nine whisker of beating the entire field at Carnoustie.

If that doesn't account for and deserve "coverage overload", I'm not sure what would.

"But those other young players, they play great golf. They deserve to be covered as well," another will say.

That's also true. They do play great golf. And when Tiger isn't in the field, they make a bunch of birdies, win a tournament here and there, and rack up a bunch of FedEx Cup points.

When Andrew Landry or Michael Kim wins a golf tournament, nothing in the world of golf changes one bit.

But when Tiger plays, he takes center stage and everything about the tournament gets a needle in the arm.

The other guys are still there, sure. They deserve coverage.

But when Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are playing at the same time, Tiger will always get the bonus coverage.

You can disapprove of that, but it's akin to waiting for a table at a restaurant in Annapolis and having a Navy Admiral come in without a reservation. He's getting seated before you. Deal with it.

Worst of all?

If Tiger wins again, everything gets ratcheted up another 25%.

And if it's a major...the Golf Channel might actually explode live, on the set.

As for #DMD, I don't think I have another Tiger story in me for Wednesday's edition.

I guess I could write something about Jim Furyk now already down to three captain's picks for the Ryder Cup -- since it's a foregone conclusion that Tiger will snatch up one of Furyk's selections.

But I'll save that story for next month...on a slow news day.

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should o's move schoop?


This time a year ago, I was one of many in town urging the Orioles to try and make a deal for Manny Machado.

Machado himself even admitted earlier this week in Milwaukee that he would have preferred a winter 2017 trade instead of last week's deal that sent him to the Dodgers in mid-season.

The Orioles got five players for Machado last week. Depending on which baseball "expert" you believe, the Birds received one legitimate player (Diaz) and four others who might or might not make it.

What could they have received this time last year for Machado?

We'll never know, but logic tells us a year and two months of Manny would have netted the O's more than two months of Manny got them from the Dodgers.

And that...brings us to Jonathan Schoop.

Jonathan Schoop. Part of the future in Baltimore? Or part of a mass exodus that initiates a massive rebuilding project?

Mired in a pretty miserable season thus far, Schoop is in the same situation this July that Machado was in last July.

He's a free agent at the end of next season.

Now, he's nowhere near a $250 million player like his buddy Machado, but Schoop will have significant value in the winter of '19-'20.

He won't command a $240 million deal like Robinson Cano got a couple of years ago from the Mariners, but Schoop will probably draw offers in the $60-$80 million range (4-5 years) at a minimum.

That is, if the Orioles allow him to reach free agency.

Thus far, like they did with Machado, the Birds haven't submitted anything to Schoop's agent in terms of an early offer to try and lure him away from free agency.

So, if they aren't going to try and sign him, why not listen to offers for Schoop now?

A source associated with the team told me on Sunday, "Schoop's done, mentally. The Machado traded has fried him. The losing has zapped him. He's seeing double right now."

If that's indeed true, moving him now seems like the best situation for both parties.

It takes two to tango, though, and someone else in the majors would need to have a second base opening. And they'd be taking on a player who will play the 2019 season and then peddle himself to the highest bidder.

I'll ask again: What would be so wrong with trading Schoop now?

The 2018 team is awful, obviously, and there's not much sensible support for keeping Schoop as a building block for the future.

He's a good player. But it's unlikely he's going to turn into Dustin Pedroia over the next year. In other words, an MVP player he's not.

If the Orioles are truly obligating themselves to a full-on rebuilding project, Schoop won't be around in 2021 or 2022 when the organization might actually have a puncher's chance of being decent again.

I'm one that considers his current season an outlier. Even with last night's home run, Schoop's still hitting at a .235 clip and his on-base percentage isn't close to .300. I don't think he's this bad, but no one's confusing him with Jose Altuve.

And please note: This isn't a suggestion that the Orioles give Schoop away. Not at all. But if someone in contention this July is willing to give up some valuable pieces for a year and two months of Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles should strongly consider that move.

All they have to do is look at what happened with Manny.

They played the waiting game with Machado and wound up finding one team willing to give them something close towhat they wanted for him.

And no one's really sure at this point if they won the deal with the Dodgers -- or lost.

This time next year, they'll have the same quandry on their hands with Schoop.

Unless they do the smart thing and try and move him now.

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



Last week was a tumultuous one for former Orioles' farm hand and Millersville native Josh Hader. Enjoying a breakout season with the Brewers and pitching in his first All-Star game, the happy moment was cut short when someone dug up and published some high school tweets of Hader's that were amazingly racist, homophobic, sexist and, in a word, vile.

The spectacle was actually a bit surreal.

Online coverage showed pictures of other players in the game reading the stories and viewing screenshots of the tweets. The looks on their faces, particularly the non-white ones, said a lot.

Hader's family, in attendance and wearing his jersey, were actually provided with alternative shirts without the name on the back so they wouldn't be accosted. That, my friends, is when you know things are going to be bad.

Hader's defense was as predictable as it was shallow. He was a dumb kid when he tweeted that, don't ya know. A dumb kid with bad judgment, and those tweets don't reflect who Josh Hader really is, especially now a whole whopping seven years later.

A whole lot of beat and national writers took up his cause, however, his PR basically followed the script, he issued a tearful apology to his teammates after which it was promptly put out that his non-white teammates had accepted his apology and forgiven him.

And as he made his first appearance since the story broke, in the most disgusting display I've ever seen in sports fandom, the Milwaukee crowd gave him a prolonged standing ovation.

Now that's not to say that what Hader did is the most disgusting thing ever in sports or that he's the all-time great in despicable sports stars.

Old Mill High School graduate Josh Hader was at the center of a social media firestorm last week when controversial comments from him were uncovered. The Milwaukee Brewers have announced they won't punish Hader for his offensive tweets from 2010-2012.

Ben Roethlisberger and Kobe Bryant are both almost certainly rapists, after all, and they've got plenty of people who will cheer for and defend them until the end of time. That's awful but, in a twisted way, not that hard to understand.

We never really want to find out that people we have cheered for, looked up to, bought merchandise of, etc. are in fact terrible people who do terrible things. It makes us wonder about ourselves when the people we are fans of turn out to do despicable things. It shouldn't, but it's a hard thing to overcome.

And that, of course, makes us uncomfortable, and sends our brains looking for ways to rationalize the issue. And at least in cases like Ben's or Kobe's, you can convince yourself that they're simply innocent of the charges and move on. Again, it's not a good thing, but it's understandable and at least has it's own internal logic.

There's no denying what Hader did, nor is there any denying how appalling his tweets were. I'm not going to reproduce or quote them here by any means, but the "highlights" include gratuitous and uncensored use of the n-word and multiple instances of graphic, lewd, and misogynistic sexual references.

His matter of fact "I hate gay people" declaration somehow comes away looking almost quaint, actually.

Now I don't want to totally condemn Hader here because, yes, 17 year olds have terrible judgment and, no, I don't want to be judged forever by the things I did when I was 17 years old either.

But on the other hand, a big part of me is very skeptical of the proffered explanation, at least for now. Bad judgment only makes you do so many things, after all.

17 year old me drove my Pontiac way too fast on the curves and hills of my rural road, wasn't shy when someone called for shots or a keg stand, and may or may not have had a proclivity for jumping off of roofs into swimming pools around 2:00 A.M.

Like a lot of people, I'm more than a little bit lucky that I survived my teenage years rather than killing my dumb, adrenaline seeking self along the way, and suffice it to say I'd never do any of that stuff now.

Not even the tequilla shots. Honest.

And yet, for as bad as my judgment might have been when I was having too much fun with friends, I remarkably managed to never gratuitously throw around the n-word in public forums. I don't even recall it being that hard not to do! So yes, Hader may be able to blame bad judgment in part, but everyone has a different underlying baseline that their "bad judgment" works from, and what' Hader's bad judgment tells us is that, at least at 17, he was basically a really awful heel of a person. To put it mildly.

Has Hader changed? I really don't know.

I don't know the guy, now or then, so all I really have to go on is his own public statements which, honestly, seem a bit laughable in their reach. To hear Heyman and his media defenders tell it, you'd think that Hader was a middle aged father of four and "the incident" was decades in the past.

Truth be told the tweets are from seven years ago, which is really not that long. Certainly not a length of time where people go through really drastic maturation or changes in personality.

And from afar, the average 24 year old professional athlete doesn't seem to boast that much more maturity or good judgment than the average 17 year old, for that matter.

But that's not to write Hader off or forever condemn him to the pile of garbage human beings in sports by any means. Maybe he's sincere in his apologies and truthfully regrets those Tweets. Maybe they really don't reflect the person he is at heart, now if perhaps not then. Hader at least deserves a chance to show us all that.

But therein lies the rub: The onus here is on Hader, and he is the one who has to do the work of demonstrating his sincere remorse. He can't do that by merely telling us he's sorry and insisting that he's a different person now. That's a good start, obviously, but ultimately doesn't mean much.

It will take time, contrition, and repeated actions that show, rather than just tell, us how sorry and repentant Hader is.

The reaction of Brewers' fans, however, glosses over the need for any of that making amends, and simply demonstrates that we will reflexively defend, support, and cheer on successful athletes for pretty much anything provided that they're helping our team win games.

There have been think pieces written in the past few days about how racist Milwaukee fans, or baseball fans in general must be to have given Hader such a raucous ovation. I think that's probably a stretch. In fact, I'd wager that the vast majority of that crowd hadn't actually seen or read the content of the tweets themselves before that moment and, if they had, they might have been a little less inclined to clap.

I think what drove them to clap is the same thing that drives fans of teams all over the country and of every sport to clap when good players behave very badly.

That in and of itself says something about our society....and not something comforting.

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Monday
July 23
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issue 23
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tiger delivers great theatre, even in defeat


History will show that Francesco Molinari won the 2018 British Open with a score of eight under par. And a deserving champion he was, playing the final eighteen holes in two under par on a warm, blustery, mid-summer day in Carnoustie, Scotland.

But history will also show the story of the tournament wasn't Molinari.

In these parts yesterday, I asked Father Time for a favor. I asked him to forgive the age and the physical limitations of Tiger Woods. I asked for one more run to glory for Woods, who, at age 42, is clearly now in the October of his career.

Father Time, I owe you thanks. You listened and accommodated my request.

That Woods didn't win is fine. The guy who played the better golf won, which is the way it's supposed to be.

But seeing Tiger put it together for four days and chase another major championship was far more important to me -- aging and battling some minor physical limitations myself -- than the final result.

I was a doubter when it came to Tiger's future and his ability to win another major championship. I wasn't hesitant about saying that I didn't think he could win another one.

I was wrong.

Tiger Woods put together his best performance at a major in 2018 with a 5-under par finish at the British Open at Carnoustie.

Woods is going to win another major. Maybe two. Maybe more than that.

For all the talk about the twenty-something "young guns" in the sport of golf, Tiger chewed them all up at Carnoustie except for one, Rory McIlroy, and the Irishman edged Woods by one shot.

Spieth, Justin, Rickie, Bryson, Brooks, Reed, Rahm -- Woods beat them all at Carnoustie. The world's #1 player, Dustin Johnson? Tiger beat him, too.

Maybe this is the way it's going to go for Woods now. In the old days when he was the most dominant player in the sport by a mile, he would have gathered the lead on the 10th hole of the final round and left everyone in his wake coming home, winning by three or four shots.

Now, maybe he'll lose a few he shouldn't, get beat by a better player on any given Sunday, and have to scratch and fight for his victories.

I'm good with it either way.

That Tiger is great for the sport is secondary to the real pursuit he's undertaking these days. He's trying to make his children proud of him. Anyone who is a parent knows what that effort is like, since we spend most of our days beaming with pride at what our children have delivered for us.

But there's also a part of us that wants our children to be proud of us.

Woods has entered that phase of his life. I admire him for that.

Lots of people will judge Tiger for his past sins, the ones of a decade ago that made him a national news story, not at all about golf and major championships. I don't judge those anymore.

I look at Tiger as he stands today, a man gifted with extraordinary talents who seeks something far more meaningful than just winning now that he's accomplished more than just about anyone who ever played the sport. When asked after Sunday's round how long the loss will sting, Woods gave the answer any father or mother would understand: "It hurt a lot until I got that first hug and squeeze from my two kids. A lot of it went away right then and there."

The golf tournament got away from Tiger on two holes. His reliable iron play off the tee finally betrayed him on numbers 11 and 12, where both of his driving efforts left him in Carnoustie's tricky, unreliable rough.

His normally secure short game betrayed him on those two holes as well.

When asked afterwards why he didn't play a more safe shot on those two holes to try and save par and stay ahead of the pack, Woods said, "I was trying to figure out a way to make birdie. I thought nine under would be the winning score. I'd take pars if they came to me, but I was running out of holes and I needed another couple of birdies coming in."

The old man was right. Nine under would have been the winning score if he could have posted it.

When his eight foot birdie putt slid low of the hole at the 18th green and the quest for major #15 was officially in the books, Tiger took off his hat and waved to the crowd. Minutes later, Molinari brushed in a short birdie effort of his own to get to 8-under par and put himself out of reach from the other pursuers.

Tiger shook Molinari's hand and, according to the new champion, gave him a short but meaningful farewell. "Congratulations Francesco," Tiger said. "You played like a champion today."

Woods should know all about playing like a champion.

He did it himself -- again -- on Sunday. And while he didn't win, he reminded everyone that his return to the sport isn't just ceremonial.

He's back. And if you love golf, you know the sport is better for it.

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o's starting to look bush league


I know.

You saw that headline and said, "Huh? What do you mean starting to look bush league? The team is 28-72."

I realize they're 28-72. But the three losses in Toronto over the weekend were awful.

Maybe we're not supposed to pay attention anymore. I don't know how to do this, because I've never followed an Orioles team that was this bad.

Are we just supposed to tune them out from now until the end of September?

Brad Brach entered the season with potential trade value for the Orioles. There's little they could get for him now after yet another late-game meltdown on Sunday in Toronto.

Should we not care at all about the wins, losses, mistakes, errors, managerial blunders and any other minutiae that comes with the final two months of baseball?

Or should we watch and care?

I'm a fan. I watch. I still care. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do.

And the bits and pieces I saw over the weekend were mostly terrible.

Defensive lapses. Plays that professionals should make...but failed to do so. Buck taking a starting pitcher out on Sunday who was in command of his work and had thrown just 79 pitches ("We had him targeted for somewhere between 70 and 80 pitches" he said afterwards. Give me a break.)

Beckham, Mancini, Schoop. Each of them with defensive, mindless blunders over the weekend. It's a wonder some guys still get paid based on the way they appear to be uninterested.

There were bright spots, sure. That 3-run rally in the top of the 9th on Friday was fun to watch, even if it only half-counted because that stiff Tyler Clippard was on the mound for Toronto.

But the low points were far more easy to spot, including Brad Brach's 8th inning meltdown on Sunday that helped lift Toronto from a 4-1 deficit to a 5-4 lead.

Brach faced five batters yesterday. He started the count on all five of them with a ball. When you're ahead 4-1, the only thing you don't want are baserunners.

"Don't fall behind in the count" would be the only rule of thumb for Brach to follow in that situation.

Alas, he couldn't even complete that simple task.

Tanner Scott gave up the eventual game-winning home run, but it was Brach who set the table with his awful outing.

With football season right around the corner, more and more folks will completely tune out the Orioles. They'll play in relative obscurity for the final six weeks of the season.

I wish I could ignore them, but I can't.

They've played 100 games and won 28 of them. It's bad. Perhaps, if they're not careful, even historically bad.

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


open championship edition

Who?

You know who

On the scorecard, Tiger Woods lost the Open when he double bogeyed the 11th after a smother hook/pull from the rough and an ill-advised flop shot on his next shot that didn’t make the green. The second shot was quite surprising; eventual champion Francesco Molinari, Woods’ playing partner, played from nearly the same spot in the right rough but hit a much better shot.

Still, I wasn’t surprised that Woods didn’t win, and not because he’s not good anymore (newsflash: he’s not bad). Tiger has never won major championships by coming from behind.

By nature, he’s a conservative player. Along with Jack Nicklaus, he’s probably the smartest player that ever lived, besides being the most talented in his prime.

And that’s the way he played in the final round.

In Sunday’s round, he birdied the two par fives and made one more birdie at the fourth hole, where he made a three all four days. That was it. The course was playing difficult in the wind, and he couldn’t really play it any other way. It would have been quite a feat to go through an entire round at Carnoustie on Sunday without dropping a shot.

Turned out someone did that, of course. Molinari did his best Nick Faldo imitation with 13 straight pars before birdieing the par-5 14th and then hitting it nearly stiff on the 18th hole for his closing birdie. Well done. Only Molinari and Justin Rose shot in the 60s on both Saturday and Sunday.

At the PGA in St. Louis in three weeks, and next year, it remains to be seen if Tiger can score well enough for three rounds to be closer than four shots back heading into Sunday.


What?

Brown fairways

The Open in Scotland and/or England is the exact opposite of the Open in the United States.

There’s no attempt to change the nature of the course. If the weather has been dry, the grass is brown. It’s not dead, just brown. The natural grasses on the edges of the fairways are just that—natural.

There’s no attempt to change them from what they always are — wispy heather kind of stuff. I don’t think they grow extra because the Open is coming to town.

In order to play golf on a course like that, it’s the greens that need to be, well, green. You can’t have every shot to the green run out like they do on the fairways.

In our Open, the roughs and fairways are almost artificial creations. They’re not just “prepared” for the tournament; they’re made to be different than they are any other week of the year.

Then, in the interest of protecting par, the greens are tweaked to unplayable status. By midday on a warm summer day, they are brown, not the fairways.

Certainly, the R&A has spent plenty of time over the last 20 years trying to get the Open rota of courses up to speed with modern technology. But there’s only so much they can do, and you know what…that’s fine.

Some of the seaside links courses are harder than others. The weather is different every year, unable to be controlled by mankind. Everybody knows that bad weather—wind, rain, even cold—is a possibility even in the middle of July, and everybody is ok with it.

Really, it’s the British Open that’s the ultimate test of golf. The U.S. Open is more like the ultimate test of who can do what to make the course most impossible.


Where?

Northern Ireland

With four major titles in his career to date, Rory McIlroy will get a golden opportunity to claim his second Claret Jug next July when the British Open travels to Northern Ireland.

Next year’s Open will be different, though I’m not sure how different it will look on television. The tournament will be played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951.

For the uninitiated, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but is, of course, on a different island than England, Scotland and Wales. So, this will be only the second time the Open has been played away from Great Britain.

Also for the uninitiated, one of the world’s greatest modern players, Rory McIlroy, happens to be from Northern Ireland. I wonder if part of the push to hold the Open at Royal Portrush once again was McIlroy’s emergence as an international star.

The championship course at Royal Portrush is also an attraction. In their yearly rankings, the golf magazines often list it among their top 10 courses in the world, and even in the top five of courses outside the United States. Some of the usual courses on the Open rota don’t even get close to that.

McIlroy shot the course record there, a 61, as a 17-year-old in 2006. The course has been rerouted and lengthened since, making a 61 much less likely, especially in the Open.

Many veterans of playing golf in Great Britain and in Ireland say that the links courses in Northern Ireland, as a whole, are actually better than the ones in Scotland. Most of these courses, of course, don’t have the space and infrastructure to host an Open.

Three golfers from Northern Ireland — McIlroy (2014), Darren Clarke (2011) and Fred Daly (1947) have won the Open, though all of those wins came at courses in England.


When?

May

Next year, the Open at Portrush in July will be the season’s final major championship. No word on whether NBC, the Open rights holder, will buy the “Glory’s Last Shot” brand from CBS, the PGA rights holder, or whether that’s something Jim Nantz just made up right after “Hello, friends…”

The 2019 PGA Championship, at the famed Bethpage Black course on Long Island, is scheduled for May 13 through May 19. The sites for that tournament, now named out to 2023, are all currently scheduled to host the tournament in May.

The result is that the four majors will take place basically equidistant in time from each other in four consecutive months: The Masters in April, the PGA in May, the U.S. Open in June and the Open Championship in July. Pretty neat, I say.

From the standpoint of the golf courses themselves, the May dates are interesting ones for PGA of America favorites in relatively Northern climes, such as Bethpage next year and Oak Hill, in Rochester, N.Y., in 2023.

There’s been some question about whether the PGA and the staffs at those courses will have enough time to prepare the courses properly. Temperatures can be extremely chilly well into April, even toward the end of April in Upstate New York.

What if the PGA wants to return to Hazeltine, near Minneapolis? That would really be cutting it close.

In a lot of ways, however, a golf course in May on the East Coast, even coming off a cold winter, can be a lot better than one approaching the end of August after weeks of potential summer heat. Plus, the weather for fans and players has a much better chance of being pleasant, almost San Diego perfect, than it does 12 weeks later.


Why?

The long putter

Bernhard Langer and Adam Scott were both out on the Carnoustie links with their broomstick putters and each finished under par for the tournament, especially impressive for the 60-year-old German.

After all these years, the long putter still looks weird to me, possibly because there might be only three or four players using it out of 156 players in a tournament. There’s also, it seems to me, a real technical aspect to that kind of putting that doesn’t exist with the shorter putter, for which feel and touch play a greater role.

That being said, I don’t understand why the anchoring ban was put into place.

I do understand why golf clubs have to be regulated — what they are made out of, perhaps, and their general shape and size. There have always been, and always will be, irons and “woods,” though even that’s an example of equipment that’s a whole lot different than it once was.

I don’t understand why the manner in which you use that equipment needs to be regulated, except as it relates to the rules of the game itself. Like…you can use your putter on any shot you want, in any way you want, just not when the ball is moving.

There’s just no reason you shouldn’t be able to place any part of the club on any part of your body when hitting a shot, as long as you’re not using some kind of artificial mechanism (stickum, anyone?) to keep it there.

If you want to hit an eight-iron from 147 yards with the butt of the club up against your stomach, go ahead. I’m not sure how effective said shot will be, but more power to you.

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Sunday
July 22
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issue 22
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we need a favor, father time


Just this once, it would be great if Father Time looked the other way during today's final round of the British Open.

I could be greedy and not even include "just this once", but I'm willing to settle for Tiger Woods winning today at Carnoustie and ending his run of career major titles at 15.

Just one more, please.

Woods is in contention at today's final round thanks to yesterday's 66 on moving day, which momentarily had him tied for the lead before a trio of guys lit it up on the back nine to finish at 9-under par.

Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele co-share the 54-hole lead heading into today's final round. Spieth has three major wins. The other two are looking for their first. Woods once won four majors in a row, if that means anything.

Tiger could once again hold the Claret Jug today, but he'll need a great round of golf and a few players above him to stumble.

If the wind kicks up as expected later today when the leaders are out for their afternoon duel, I don't expect Woods to win. Give me one of the "flat swing" guys to triumph if the breeze blows 20-25 mph like they're calling for; Kisner, Kevin Chappell or, if you want a guy off the pace, England's Tommy Fleetwood.

Guys like Woods and Spieth, who launch the ball high in the air, will naturally have a tougher go of it if the wind howls.

In an odd twist of fate, though, the more difficult the day -- weather wise -- the better chance someone at four or five under has of coming from behind to win.

Here's a weird stat: Tiger has 14 career major titles. None of them have ever been win by coming from behind. I suppose that's more of a testament to Tiger's ability to close the deal when he had the lead in a major, but throughout his career, he's never won when coming from off the pace in the final round.

Father Time, if you want a feather in your own legacy-cap, how about changing that stat today?

Just this once.

And while a Woods victory would be captivating for golf fans all over the world, there are others who would greatly benefit from a victory today.

A Spieth victory would be very rewarding for the 24-year old from Texas. He's had -- by his standards -- a woeful season to date, and repeating as the British Open champion would be a significant development, giving him four major wins in his career.

Kisner and Schauffele are both looking to break into the major winner's circle for the first time. Both would dramatically improve their chances of making the Ryder Cup team with a win (Spieth is already in), so there's a little extra something on the line for each of them this afternoon.

Could this be the year Matt Kuchar (-5) finally breaks through? He was soooooo close a year ago before Spieth broke into his Tiger-routine and holed every putt he looked at in the final hour of the tournament. Maybe this time around it's Kuchar who steals one. He would be a very popular champion.

Speaking of flat swings and guys with a chance, don't sell Zach Johnson (-5) short. He stumbled a bit on Saturday, but has the tools to keep the ball low and navigate what might be a treacherous day on the links of Carnoustie.

Johnson could use a win to help improve his Ryder Cup chances as well.

None of those stories, though, would come anywhere close to rivaling what a Woods victory would do in terms of excitement and promotion of the sport.

Tiger last won a major in 2008, beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff at the U.S. Open.

A decade later, albeit in need of a lot of things to go right today, Tiger is in position to win again.

Let's hope Father Time is a golf lover. If he is, he knows what to do this afternoon in Scotland.

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one week in and flacco's already chippy


Someone in Flacco's camp reads the newspaper and listens to the radio.

Maybe it's Joe himself. Or perhaps his agent, Joe Linta, or someone in his office handles the daily ritual of perusing social media to pick out the highlights of what the local and national media are saying about the Ravens' quarterback.

Either way, Flacco is very aware of what's been said about him with Lamar Jackson now in the fold.

When asked if Jackson's arrival has initiated a new "energy level" in the veteran quarterback, Flacco gave the best answer he could.

“I don’t know. Does it matter what I say?” Flacco said in a Friday post-practice press conference. “I think you guys will probably link it to Lamar anyway."

Joe Flacco wasn't particularly thrilled with the questions about Lamar Jackson on Friday.

He's a smart guy, that Flacco.

The media are dying to create a rivalry between the incumbent and the new guy. And no matter what his response to the "energy level" question, Flacco knows it's all going to get attributed to the arrival of the former Heisman Trophy winner.

As I've written several times over the last couple of months, the Flacco-Jackson story, which could quickly turn into a saga, will be the dominant theme not only in training camp, but throughout the regular season.

Joe will be given absolutely no rope at all from the media, and, perhaps, even fans of the team.

Just one bad game and the spark gets ignited.

That's a lot of pressure for a quarterback to play under, even a guy making $25 million a year.

And Flacco is well aware that Jackson's in the house and even more aware that everything he does is being scrutinized. If he doesn't hold the locker room door open for the rookie, someone's there taking notes about it.

It's what we do in this country. Build 'em up, tear 'em down, root for their revival.

Baltimore, it appears, is in the "tear 'em down" mode at this point.

How Flacco handles it all will be the featured storyline of the 2018 Ravens' season.

Unless someone kneels during the national anthem...

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Saturday
July 21
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issue 21
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like a well oiled machine


I made my way to Owings Mills yesterday for Ravens training camp, and I can say this with great certainty: If the Ravens' season is as smooth as Friday's operation, we're in for a real treat in 2018.

I was one of the "Fortunate 500" who went online back in mid-June and snagged one of the coveted passes for attendance at Friday's open practice. So, my son and I headed out to Owings Mills, trying our best to accommodate the request printed on the front of the parking pass -- "Please do not arrive before 10:50 am".

We pulled in at 10:33 am. I expected a line of cars, all with the same idea that I had. Namely, get their early and hope they let me in.

We were greeted with smiles from parking lot attendants, who directed us to the grass lot just to the east of the practice field. There, we found a painted parking grid with plenty of spots, and several parking services folks who helped get us situated.

"We'll let you know when you can head down to the field," one of them said. "It's not open until 11:00 am."

Right when the clock struck eleven, we were told to make our way to the entrance, decorated with all types of Ravens banners and flags. It really looked like something special was going on.

John Harbaugh isn't just a bystander at practice. He gets involved in drills, spends time with individual players, and does some real, actual "coaching".

Upon entry, you're checked in by someone who collects your data (name, email, etc.) and given a wristband. If you're a junior, you get a special one that allows you access to the autograph area after practice.

At least three times before you enter the facility, you're greeted by a smiling Ravens staffer who says, "Welcome to training camp! Have a great day!" It reminds me a lot of the Masters, where you're greeted with the same type of welcome message when you arrive at their gates every April.

The Ravens gave everyone a water bottle and a large, cardboard 2018 schedule that doubles as a noise-maker.

We ventured over to the Kid's Zone as soon as we got there. Practice didn't officially begin until 11:45, so we had plenty of time to get some food and test out a few of the games they had for kids (and a couple for adults, too).

And we got free popsicles as well.

Players started straggling out at 11:30 or so. At 11:45, the horn sounded and practice was underway.

It's at that moment that you must put your cell phone away. And I mean, away.

No video, no pictures, no selfies, no checking texts (or British Open scores). NO PHONE USE DURING PRACTICE, PERIOD.

And, yes, the security folks will tell you, right away, to put your cell phone back in your pocket if they see you checking it or using it.

On one hand, I wonder if the Ravens realize it's 2018. NO PHONE USE? Huh?

On the other, this is a John Harbaugh practice rule that gets more and more refined every summer. He's afraid that someone will post a picture or video that gives his opponents an advantage, which is probably the exact same rule that Bill Belichick has in New England.

If you venture out to Owings Mills for training camp, be prepared to be hounded about your cell phone DURING PRACTICE ONLY. Before and after practice, take as many pictures as you like.

Speaking of Harbaugh, he's right in the mix, coaching guys and giving instruction. Yesterday, he spent nearly 30 minutes with the special team unit, right in front of us, going through the proper way to contain a defensive player during punt coverage.

Because the field is so big, you basically have to pick a spot from which to watch and be satisfied with what you see in front of you. Or, you can move around and cover both sides and see everyone at some point during your visit.

The defense was on our side of the field. Terrell Suggs looks great. That was the first thing I noticed when he jogged out to his spot just after 12 noon. If guys hitting a tackling sled means anything at all (it doesn't to me, it might to you), Tyus Bowser and Michael Pierce were the award winners for throwing the large, metal frame the furthest.

We had some early afternoon Eagle's Nest swim team obligations to attend to, so my son and I scooted out around 1 pm. We didn't get a chance to see how the autograph procession went, but I assume it was well run, too.

The Ravens run a smooth operation, that's for sure. If you're heading out to Owings Mills this month or next, be prepared to be impressed.

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it's anyone's claret jug at this point


Halfway through the British Open at Carnoustie, and one thing is for certain: The golf course, as always over there, is providing a tough, fair test.

Six under par was the 36-hole leading score, shared by Americans Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, with defending champion Jordan Spieth just three shots back. Even Rickie Fowler, much to George's chagrin, put himself in contention with a three-under total at the halfway mark.

The leaderboard has other big names hanging around, including Rory McIlroy (-4), Tommy Fleetwood (-5) and Matt Kuchar (-4).

Tiger Woods missed an 8-foot birdie putt at the final hole to post a second consecutive round of even-par 71. Woods is far from out of it, but will need a mixture of superb weekend play and others above him to fall back if he hopes to win his 15th major championship.

"I'm right in the mix," Woods told the media afterwards. "I just need to keep playing well and make a few more putts over the next two days."

Zach Johnson is tied for the halfway lead at the British Open, looking to win the third major title of his underrated PGA Tour career.

Phil Mickelson (even par) was saying the same thing as he chases his second Claret Jug. "Just need to make more putts," Phil said after Friday's round.

Carnoustie is, by nearly every account, the most difficult of the British Open venues. McIlroy mentioned on Friday he'd be "10 or 12 under normally", based on the way he drove the ball and struck his irons, but the peculiar green complexes require absolute precision from the fairway.

Anyone who made the cut (+3) still has an opportunity to win the event, with those in the +2 or +3 range needing a really special round (63, 64) on Saturday to get back in it, while those at the even or 1-under range having the luxury of sticking with their game plan in an effort to move up the leaderboard.

As for #DMD's projected Top 7 that we published heading into the event, here's how they fared in the first two rounds.

#7, Francesco Molinari -- Made the cut with rounds of 70-72 (even par).

#6, Tommy Fleetwood -- Tied for 2nd through 36 holes at 5-under (72-65).

#5, Matthew Fitzpatrick -- Birdied his final hole on Friday, but missed the cut with a score of +5.

#4, Zach Johnson -- Shares the 36-hole lead at 6-under par as he goes for his second British Open title.

#3, Rafael Cabrera Bello -- Steadied himself with a 1-under round of 70 yesterday after a 74 on Thursday, finishing at +2 for 36 holes.

#2, Alex Noren -- Rounds of 70-71 have him at 1-under through two rounds, well in the chase for his first ever major crown.

#1, Ian Poulter -- Hacked it up on Friday with a miserable round of 81, finishing at +12 for two days and missing the cut. Thanks a lot, Poults.

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Friday
July 20
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issue 20
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temper your excitement about this o's "rebuild" until...


I guess when you're 28-69 at the All Star break, trying to sell enthusiasm for the future is about the only thing you really have to peddle to the fan base.

So, in that regard, I understand what the Orioles are trying to do.

But I'm not buying any of it.

Not yet, anyway.

With the departure of Manny Machado and the expected move of Zach Britton sometime in the next ten days, the Orioles are stockpiling young players for the future. They already have a handful of promise in the minor leagues, including guys like Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and pitcher D.L. Hall, who is drawing rave reviews for his "major-league-ready" breaking ball.

Dan Duquette mentioned, specifically, the words "rebuilding" and "blueprint" earlier this week when discussing the Machado trade, and he referenced teams like the Astros and Cubs -- both of whom have won World Series titles recently -- as the model the Orioles are going to follow.

He also spoke about leaning more on analytics and the international market, which was music to anyone's ears who has followed the Orioles over the last two decades. They've been behind in both of those categories, which might be one of the reasons why they're 28-69 today.

Off the field, the biggest story about the franchise is the health and ownership tenure of Peter Angelos. Are his sons, Louis and John, ready to take the reins when Peter is no longer capable of handling the day-to-day duties, whatever they might be?

Just last weekend, the Orioles trotted out Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson and crowed about a new role for Mr. Oriole, who had largely been ignored by the franchise for most of the last two decades.

These are many of the things the Birds are going to try and do "better" now, an acknowledgement of sorts that they've fallen short in critical areas in recent years.

But don't let all of that stuff fool you.

Where will these two men be in 2019? In Baltimore? Or elsewhere?

The Orioles still haven't addressed their biggest issue of all. And until they do, you're well within your rights to not believe anything they say.

What's the status of Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette?

Are those two staying?

Or are they getting kicked to the curb at season's end?

In my mind, nothing's more important now that the organization has decided to start over.

Both men have been left hanging in the breeze in 2018 and it's a testament to the character of both that they've hung in there and put up with a lot of the garbage they've been handed.

Duquette had to deal with a leaked story in early June that his employer is interviewing candidates for his job. And on nearly every home stand, Brady Anderson runs around on the field before the game in athletic shorts and a tee shirt and fist bumps guys as they exit the batting cage during practice.

How would you like to go to work today and have your potential replacement cleaning out the Keurig machine and talking about the pension plan with co-workers?

Showalter was handed a lousy roster in March with three Rule 5 players, his All-Star third baseman announced he was moving to shortstop and the organization waited until the 11th hour to sign two veteran pitchers.

Oh, and he has exactly zero leverage with anyone in the dugout because all of them know he doesn't have a contract for next season.

It's shameful what the Orioles have done to Duquette and Showalter in 2018.

If you don't want them, that's fine. Cut 'em loose. That's business.

But treat them right while they're here, I say.

And as of now, neither guy has been dealt a favorable hand this year.

I'd like to buy into this Orioles rebuilding project. Really, I would. I think the Machado deal was necessary and, potentially, profitable. A Britton trade might yield some more future major leaguers. Even though I'd hate to see Adam Jones go, his departure might also be an unavoidable part of this new Oriole way.

I'm happy to hear about an expanded dedication to analytics and the international market.

Having Brooks Robinson involved in the organization, even if it's "only" for goodwill and marketing, is a wonderful thing.

But I'm not getting hoodwinked into thinking any of it means anything until we find out what the organization is doing with their two most critical off-field positions: general manager and manager.

Not counting this season, which no one could have ever expected would be this awful, all Showalter and Duquette have done as a two-man-crew in Baltimore is win. Three playoff appearances in six years, in case you forgot.

They deserve to return in 2019 and kick-start this rebuilding venture.

Until we know their respective fates, don't buy any of this stuff you read or hear about the Orioles doing things "differently" in the future.

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biggest issue for ravens? handling the flacco/jackson scenario


As Ravens training camp begins in earnest this week and John Harbaugh's team looks to break out of a three-year non-playoff funk, their biggest issue is one they created themselves in April.

How are they going to handle the white elephant in the room all season?

Specifically -- how are they going to deal with the Joe Flacco/Lamar Jackson situation in 2018?

If mini camps and the early part of training camp are any indication at all -- and we have to assume it's all been done with intention and reason -- than Jackson is not going to just hold the clipboard this season.

The first round draft pick is going to be involved, in some way.

That could be a good thing.

It could also be a bad thing.

There's not a starting quarterback alive who would confess that he enjoys having his heir apparent hanging around and pressing him. I'm sure Joe Flacco's no different.

How Flacco handles Lamar Jackson's imminent take-over of his position is on Flacco.

But how the Ravens deal with their relationship and Jackson's involvement this season is on them.

And it's not an easy equation to figure out.

Oh, and then you have the fans, most of whom, it seems, are licking their chops at the thought of Jackson calling the signals on a full-time basis sooner rather than later.

The first time Flacco has one of those 14/28, 208 yards passing performances, the talk shows are going to light up with folks clamoring for Jackson to step in.

It's as inevitable as Chris Davis striking out five times this weekend in Toronto.

The national media is already baiting their hook for the Flacco/Jackson story. If Flacco stinks it up in week one, Harbaugh will have to answer the question right away: Is Joe Flacco's job safe?

Oddly enough, until Flacco showed up in 2008, the Ravens had become experts at juggling the quarterback story on what felt like a weekly basis.

"Is Elvis Grbac still your starting quarterback?"

"Is Kyle Boller still your starting quarterback?"

"Is Steve McNair still your starting quarterback?"

John Harbaugh has never had to address that question in his tenure with the Ravens. Not seriously, anyway.

But he will this season, for sure. It seems almost unreasonable to believe that Flacco will buzz through the season like Tom Brady-reborn. At some point, Flacco's play will warrant someone, somewhere, asking Harbaugh if Flacco is still the starter.

It's going to be interesting, if nothing else.

How the Ravens handle the Flacco/Jackson saga will be, I believe, the biggest story of 2018.

Their playoff lives might depend on it, in fact.

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Thursday
July 19
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issue 19
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destiny fulfilled


Manny Machado is gone.

You can be mad at the Orioles if you want, but you're probably off base.

And you can be mad at Manny if you want, but you're probably off base there, too.

The reality?

What happened yesterday was, simply, destiny.

There are varying tentacles to the Manny Machado trade that can discussed and diced and sliced to your liking, depending on whether you think the Orioles did well or screwed up.

But no matter how sharp your knife is, you're always going to come back to this point: It was destiny that Machado wouldn't finish the season -- and his career -- in Baltimore.

Me? Personally? I would have traded Manny last July. I said that then...and I'm still saying it now.

However, it's fair to note that I have no idea what kind of deal the Orioles could have constructed last July for a full season and two months of Machado. Better than yesterday's trade? Maybe. Maybe not.

Tough to stomach this picture, isn't it Baltimore?

Here's what I'll tell you about the deal they did yesterday.

It works for me.

The Dodgers got a player for 11 weeks, plus the playoffs if they make it.

The Orioles gave them that player. With him, the Orioles won 28 games in April, May, June and half of July. Without him, they'll be lucky to win 22 games over the next, final eleven weeks of the campaign.

In return for giving the Dodgers Machado for 11 weeks, the Orioles got five players, one of which seems likely to be a significant major league contributor if he continues to progress.

The other four? One or two might pan out. They all might. Or, none of them might amount to anything.

But if the Orioles give Manny Machado to the Dodgers for 11 weeks and get six years worth of Yusniel Diaz in return, I think that's a win for the Birds.

Oh, and I'm by no means wishing this on Machado or the Dodgers, but what happens if he takes a fastball to the wrist on August 6th and is done for the season? They just gave away a barrel full of prospects for 15 games of Manny.

That's the risk, of course. Everyone's gambling a little bit in this deal.

And let's cast aside whatever we might think about Machado OR the Orioles and come to terms with this: Manny was never signing with the Orioles and eschewing his opportunity to reach free agency.

And that's not something to blame him for, either. I saw lots of people on Twitter last night basically bidding him good riddance. I don't see any reason at all to be mad at Manny Machado.

I understand there's always been a small bubbling of discontent for Machado in town. He showboats. Doesn't always hustle. Showed up at spring training this year and told everyone he had decided it was time to move to shortstop.

I get it. Maybe he wasn't quite a "Baltimore guy" the way, say, Adam Jones has been or Cal Ripken Jr. was during his Hall of Fame career. But Machado delivered on the baseball field, big time. Make no mistake about it, he's destined for Cooperstown to join the likes of Ripken, Eddie Murray and Brooks Robinson.

And ultimately, Manny's doing what virtually anyone else in his position would do. He's going to maximize his earning potential this winter. As well he should.

Naturally, there will be lots of folks who beat up the Orioles, because that's the easy thing to do. Let's face it, they're a soft target.

And while the O's have done a lot of dumb things over the last two decades, this Machado situation isn't something the Orioles botched.

They weren't giving Manny Machado $30 million a year. They just weren't.

And even if they would have offered him $30 million a year, Machado -- through his agent -- would have said, "Make us that offer in November of 2018, please, and we'll consider it."

Two weeks after they got that $30 million offer from the O's in November, Manny and his agent would have milked $35 mil a year from the Yankees, Angels, Cubs etc.

Anyone who thinks the Orioles screwed the pooch by not signing Machado to a new deal isn't paying attention. He wasn't going to sign in Baltimore.

The truth is this: Manny is a great player. But Baltimore isn't glamorous enough for him, long term. And free agency is just too juicy to pass up.

Manny wants to be coveted. Chased. Fawned over. It's part of his make-up. That doesn't make him a bad guy. It makes him what he is: An athlete who craves the spotlight.

People will blame the Orioles here because it's a convenient narrative, but Machado wasn't going to play his entire career in Baltimore by his own choosing.

Great athletes are great, in part, because they not only want the spotlight, they excel when it's on them. Do you think LeBron James enjoys the spotlight? You're darn right he does. So does Manny Machado.

He'll get that spotlight in Los Angeles for the next 11 weeks. And he'll get it in New York next season, or whatever city he finally decides on over the winter.

Baltimore's lights, by comparison, are dim. No matter the money, the spotlight just isn't bright enough for Machado.

And the Orioles, truth be told, aren't the kind of franchise who goes all-in. Sure, they'll play poker -- Davis, Trumbo, Cobb and Cashner come to mind recently -- sometimes even at the $100 table, but when the big boys take their whiskey glasses to the $500-a-hand private room, the Orioles go upstairs and climb into bed.

They gave Chris Davis $23 million a year and he turned into a cross between David Segui and Jay Gibbons.

Can you really fault the Orioles for not ponying up $250 or $300 million for Manny Machado?

I can't. And won't.

And I definitely don't fault Manny for wanting it and chasing it, either.

This was his destiny.

He was never going to play six full seasons in Baltimore.

Go ahead and beat up the Orioles all you want, but they did the best they could given the situation at hand.

You can't sign a baseball player if he doesn't want to sign.

Machado wasn't going to play his entire career as a Baltimore Oriole.

His destiny calls for something much bigger.

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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.


random mid-season baseball thoughts


AL East

The Red Sox and Yankees have combined to win 130 games this season. Their three division rivals have combined to win 120.

The national narrative is that this is a good thing. The Yankees and the Red Sox are the only two baseball teams that really matter, so when both of them are good, and in a fight with each other, that’s just great for baseball.

The Astros are 64-35, won the World Series last year and have an exciting group of young players. Every year, a team or two surprises, in a good way. How about the Athletics in the American League, or the Braves in the National League?

It all gets lost, though. The Yankees and Red Sox are back where they belong, and all is right with the world.

Can Aaron Judge and the Yankees catch the Red Sox and avoid the one-game wild card playoff in the American League?

I say that couldn’t be more wrong. And I don’t just say it as an Orioles fan, whether the 2018 team was as bad as it is, or even if it was a lot better.

The Red Sox-Yankees thing was great in 2004. Remember the comeback from a 3-0 deficit by the Sox in the ALCS? Some of the most amazing baseball ever played. ESPN made an awesome documentary about it. All these years later, it’s terrible.

The world needed the Red Sox back then. The Yankees were dominating the sport in a way that was good only to their fans. Sure, they’d get tripped up in a seven-game series, but that didn’t stop them from getting back there the next year. The Yankees needed an honest foil, and they got one.

In 2018, what’s the difference between the two teams? They’re both hard to root for, and Red Sox fans long ago became more annoying than Yankees fans, as hard as that is to believe.


AL Central

There’s a team worse than the Orioles. Percentage-wise, anyway.

The Kansas City Royals have only 27 wins in their first 95 games. They’ve actually had a 10-game losing streak this year, while the longest for the Orioles has been nine games. Yikes.

Not that it matters in the grand scheme, unless you’re talking about draft position, but I’d bet on the Royals finishing with more wins than the local nine.

For one thing, the Royals won’t be losing a player of Manny Machado’s caliber, having the kind of year that Manny Machado is having.

The Royals also have the “luck” of playing in the Central, so their 14-21 record so far against their own division seems positively awesome compared to the Orioles’ 11-25 record against the East.

With 41 of its 67 remaining games against the Central, I’m sure Ned Yost’s team will have a bit of an easier time than Buck Showalter’s team, which has 40 of its last 65 games against the East, including nine apiece against the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Royals went into the All-Star break having lost 25 of their last 30 games, which makes the Orioles’ 9-21 mark over that time seem almost mediocre.

Kansas City ranks last in the American League in both home runs and walks, which is about the worst possible combination you can have in today’s game.

They scraped the bottom (ok, middle) of the barrel to sign former Oriole Jason Hammel prior to last year, and let’s just say he doesn’t have it anymore. He’s given up more hits and allowed more earned runs than any other pitcher in the American League.

Of course, they don’t have Chris Davis weighing down their team with a seven-year contract, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.


AL West

It’s been a while for Oakland, which has finished in last place in the division in each of the last three years. At 55-42, the Athletics are certainly a wild-card contender. They have 10 games remaining with the Mariners, the team that they’re most likely to chase down for that spot in the one-game playoff.

The thing is…this is what Oakland does.

They develop a decent nucleus of players, then add on with veterans that they can afford. They have a decent season or two, then fall back when they have to trade guys like Sonny Gray. The cycle repeats itself. It’s the only way they can operate, really.

Under current skipper Bob Melvin, the Athletics won 278 games from 2012 through 2014. Then Josh Donaldson went away, and Yoenis Cespedes went away, and some young pitchers disappeared sort of mysteriously (not literally). Time for a rebuild. That’s the way it is.

Frankly, I’m not sure that many people care, locally or nationally. The Athletics routinely finish last or second-to-last in attendance in their antiquated stadium. The Raiders are finally moving out, but the A’s are still around.

Oakland usually depends on pitching and its huge home ballpark, which makes the pitching seem better than it is. But this year is a little different. Only two guys (Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden) have started 16 or more games; meanwhile, with injuries rearing their head, nine other pitchers have started at least four games.

As usual, Billy Beane and company have found a guy who can close games and dominate, at least for a year or two. Former National Blake Treinen has allowed just 31 hits and 16 walks in 48 innings. In 40 appearances, Treinen has allowed just five earned runs and one home run.


NL East

Nick Markakis is having the best season of his career, and he earned his first All-Star appearance because of it. He’s looking a bit like he did as a young man playing on terrible Orioles teams, though with fewer strikeouts.

Markakis has fashioned a remarkably consistent career. He’s only had one season with significant injury, 2012, when he missed six weeks with a broken wrist midseason and then missed the end of the year when a C.C. Sabathia pitch broke his thumb.

Otherwise, Markakis has never played fewer than 147 games in any season in a career that started in 2006. He’s been the definition of an everyday player.

In his first year with Atlanta, 2015, the Georgia native had an unusual season. After never hitting fewer than 10 home runs in nine years with the Orioles, he hit only three despite playing in all but six of his team’s games.

Markakis already has 10 long balls this year, and his 29 doubles currently lead the National League.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s pitching has been excellent. The staff as a whole has allowed the fewest hits in the league: Julio Teheran has given up just 77 hits in 105 innings, while Mike Foltynewicz has allowed just 71 hits in 101 innings. Anibal Sanchez, the former Tiger who was released by the Twins before the season, has been a huge surprise in his 11 starts with a 2.60 ERA.

The Nationals are hardly out of the race, even for the division title. The Phillies and Braves don’t have much of a recent pedigree, so it remains to be seen whether they can continue their consistent play. The Phillies would have taken a big jump if they’d been the winner in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, but maybe they’ll be the eventual winners next year.


NL Central

Mike Matheny was let go by Cardinals management the weekend before the All-Star break, a strange time to do it. Equally strange was a manager being canned midseason while his team had a winning record. The last time that happened was 2008, when the Brewers fired current Royals skipper Ned Yost late in the year and then recovered to make the playoffs.

By winning the next day, St. Louis entered the break with a 48-46 record.

In the National League this season, the change to interim manager Mike Shildt seems like the right call, because the Cardinals are hardly out of playoff contention. The Cubs’ 55 wins are the most in the league; there are a host of teams that need only one nice run to bring a whole lot of excitement to the ballpark in August and September.

The Cardinals are one of 11 teams that still have a decent shot at a postseason berth. Compare that to the American League, where that number is already down to six teams.

There’s some indication that part of Matheny’s downfall had to do with former Oriole Bud Norris, who’s currently serving as the team’s closer, amazingly enough. Norris has never been a guy who’s afraid to talk, and apparently he’s been doing a lot of it to 21-year-old stud reliever Jordan Hicks, who’s likely the closer of the future.

Matheny defended Norris, saying that the 33-year-old is going to “do what he thinks is right” as a veteran, and that he respected that.

Somehow, I’m guessing that management would have been happier if he didn’t say that, and even if the whole story never got out in the first place. It’s the kind of story that serves as an excuse that the manager is losing the team, or just isn’t quite in charge anymore.


NL West

So, it’s the Dodgers who ended up with the best Oriole of his generation.

On one level, that’s not surprising at all. The current Los Angeles front office has shown that it likes to make big deals at the deadline, getting Rich Hill and Josh Reddick from Oakland two years ago and Yu Darvish from Texas last year.

Machado, with the way he’s played this year, makes those guys seem like chopped liver.

On another level, the Dodgers aren’t necessarily the perfect team for Machado going forward. He wants to play shortstop, which he will this year, but where would he play next year when Corey Seager, a terrific player, comes back from injury?

Unless he performs at a level above his current one, and/or leads the team to its first World Series title in 30 years, I don’t believe the Dodgers will sign Machado long term.

The NL West is this year’s most interesting division, and the Dodgers wanted Machado for this year.

Los Angeles and Arizona both have 53 wins, while Colorado has 51 and San Francisco 50. It really is a four-team race for first place, and part of an 11-team race for the playoffs (see above).

Adding Machado seems like the recipe for the Dodgers to extend their tight lead over the Diamondbacks and Rockies pretty quickly, though it’s probably true that the Dodgers would still have been the favorite to hang on even if they hadn’t gotten Machado.

The Dodgers are leading the National League in home runs already, with 129, so adding Machado won’t hurt there. Through 96 games, eight players have already hit 11 or more home runs. On paper, Machado makes the Dodgers close to a “superteam.” They have the best power and the best pitching, which usually works out pretty well.

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Wednesday
July 18
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issue 18
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manny was great...but it's time to go


One scan through my Twitter timeline from Tuesday and I know, for certain, I'm in the minority on this one.

I hope this doesn't make me a bad guy.

Everywhere I looked on Tuesday, folks were getting emotional about the imminent departure of Manny Machado. If you believe the report from Ken Rosenthal, Machado will be shipped to the Dodgers today for several of their highly prized prospects, including outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who hit two home runs in Sunday's Future's Game.

I think Machado is a great player. There's almost no debate about it.

But I feel almost no emotional attachment at all to Manny as his days in Baltimore come to an end.

It's certainly not as a cold as "good riddance" or anything like that. But this is "business", plain and simple. And as much as the players always want to make it about business when they peddle themselves to the highest bidder, the teams have the right to do the very same thing when the circumstances are unavoidably taking them in that direction.

If we're being honest, the Orioles' mistake was in not doing trading Manny last July instead of this July. Or, perhaps, even in the off-season heading into the 2017 campaign.

They knew a year ago -- or more -- that there was simply no way Machado would stay in Baltimore past the 2018 season. Letting it drag out this long is on the Orioles. But that's water under the bridge now.

This in-game selfie during Tuesday's All-Star Game hit a little too close to home for O's fans.

This is ultimately what Machado wants, even though he won't admit to it. He wants to be coveted, which he no doubt will be this off-season when the Phillies or Yankees or, maybe even the Dodgers, pony up monster bucks for him.

His quotes last month about Mike Trout told the story. Machado feels shortchanged by the Orioles, who never took care of their prized possession to the tune of $35 million annually like the Angels did with Trout a few years back.

Critics of the Orioles will blame them for not doing that, losing a generational, Hall of Fame talent in the process.

Others will scoff at the notion of paying Machado anything close to what Trout gets on an annual basis.

Either way, what's done is done, and Manny will get the opportunity to haul in big bucks this off-season. And, for the time being, he goes from the worst team in baseball to a club who played in the World Series a year ago and could be there again this October.

I guess this is where I should include the formal caveat about the apparent deal with Los Angeles. The Orioles are going over medical records of the prospects they'll receive from the Dodgers in the Machado trade, according to industry reports on Wednesday morning.

Once everything gets sorted out, Manny will be in L.A. and the Orioles will be without the best player they've had in two decades, at least.

But it was always going to be this way, which is why I'm completely unbothered by it all.

Manny was never staying in Baltimore past 2018.

And despite his greatness, the team is 28-69 through 97 games this season...with him on the roster. Without him? It will get worse, but how much worse can it get?

None of this means Machado is evil or a bad guy. And the Orioles aren't evil, either. There are lots of people out there beating up the O's over this situation, but that's just not fair.

They didn't "let a great player get away".

Baseball's out-of-whack salary structure and the promise of a guaranteed contract led Machado away.

The Orioles have a lot of problems. Many of them they've created. But this one is not on their clock.

Let the rebuilding begin.

Bye Manny.

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best british open storylines


We're a day away from the third major of the professional golf season (really? where did the summer go?) and there are some important stories lining up this week at Carnoustie GC in Scotland.

Not only is the British Open a major championship, but the tournament takes on more importance in a Ryder Cup year, which this just happens to be.

Any number of Americans could seal their spot on this year's team, including guys like Rickie Fowler, Webb Simpson or Bryson DeChambeau. Of those three, Simpson seems the best bet to me, although Fowler's coming off a decent performance at last week's Scottish Open.

Let's stick with our U.S. guys for a minute and put together the three best storylines that could come out of Carnoustie.

Of these three players, which doesn't have a PGA Tour win this year? Andrew Landry, Michael Kim, Jordan Spieth.

If you said "Spieth", you know your golf.

Can Jordan Spieth find the magic at Carnoustie this week and break out of his season-long doldrums?

That it's July and Jordan Spieth doesn't have a victory is unfathomable. Call it a slump, call it his steep swing and flying left elbow coming home to roost, or just call it "golf", but Spieth is going through a period we haven't seen from him in the last five years.

A win for Spieth at Carnoustie would be a great storyline. He doesn't need it for the Ryder Cup -- he's on the team. But he needs it for himself.

Not only would he repeat as British Open champion, but he'd have four major titles, tying him with Rory McIlroy as the leader of the "young guns".

A win for Spieth would also excite the masses, particularly the junior market, who mostly wear the Rickie Fowler "P" hat these days. While Fowler has three less majors than Spieth, he most certainly leads in posters-on-the-walls of junior golfers throughout the country.

Another great storyline would be a win for Dustin Johnson, who went toe-to-toe with Shinnecock Hills last month and came up short on Sunday. His Ryder Cup spot is already secured as well, but Johnson is slowly starting to creep into Phil Mickelson-territory in terms of majors "nearly won".

D.J. won the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 2016.

With any luck or outstanding final round play, he could have three other U.S. Opens, a PGA Championship, and one British Open.

Johnson has 18 PGA Tour wins to date. He could have five or six majors at this point in his career if he could close the deal on Sundays.

It would be great to see him do that this Sunday. He deserves it.

The top storyline is, of course, Tiger Woods, who has 14 major titles and three British Opens in storied career.

Woods hasn't won a major since 2008.

The thought of catching Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors is fleeting to everyone except Woods, but winning one more major would be the feather in Tiger's cap that he deserves.

He's still the biggest needle mover in golf and it's not even close. Three-plus years have gone by since Tiger was a force on the golf course, but everything surges when Woods is involved in a tournament. More media credentials are issued, more people attend the event, more people watch on TV and, in general, more people are excited about golf.

Michael Kim had an interesting comment last Sunday after winning the John Deere Classic. "I only wish Tiger had been in the field. I always wanted to win a tournament when he was playing against me."

Even the players still revere Woods and the impact he had on the game.

One more major title for Woods would be an exclamation point on a great career.

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Tuesday
July 17
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issue 17
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what's next for d.c., a super bowl parade?


OK, I'm not one of those bash-DC-for-anything types.

I tend to be more worried about what my teams and my city are doing rather than fret over everyone else.

But this extended spotlight D.C. is receiving is starting to grate on me a little bit.

This time last month, "The District" was still experiencing a hangover from the celebration connected to the Capitals and their Stanley Cup win.

I didn't mind that, being a lifelong Caps fan and all, but the fact is they're the Washington Capitals, not the Baltimore Capitals. That was their win down there. We just enjoyed it from afar, basically.

Last night, they got to revel in the Home Run Derby, with hometown hero Bryce Harper collecting the hardware at the end of the night with a wild 19-18 win over Kyle Schwarber.

And tonight, the folks down there get the All-Star Game in their stadium.

I don't think having a brand new MLS stadium counts for all that much, but D.C. even has one of those and we don't. They opened their new state-of-the-art soccer facility last week while we still have...Patterson Park?

Bryce Harper electrified the D.C. crowd last night by winning the home run derby, only the third player to ever win the event in his home stadium.

Hey! Someone...anyone. How about a little love for Baltimore?

When are we getting an event or a moment that we can celebrate?

Yeah, yeah, I know. "You guys just had a Super Bowl parade in 2013."

That seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? Maybe it's because the Ravens have only made the playoffs once since then. Perhaps it's the Orioles and their current woes that have everything tilted the wrong way.

But dangit, it sure feels like D.C. is getting all the lucky breaks and we're not getting any in Charm City.

Heck, the best baseball player we've had in Baltimore since the 1990's (Murray and/or Ripken) is about to be shipped out of town, too.

At least Manny's not going to the Nationals. I don't know that I could stomach that right now.

It's almost worse that he's going to the Phillies. Even considering that Philadelphia sports fans might be on the verge of prospering makes my skin itch. Creeps...

Anyway, I watched the Home Run Derby last night and kept wondering, "When do we get a turn?"

We don't have a hockey team, so that parade is out.

I don't see the Wizards winning the NBA title anytime soon, but at least they have a team to root for and possibilities of success. We don't have a NBA team to call our own in Baltimore.

And the Orioles...

Sometime tomorrow when the first domino falls and Machado is traded to (insert team here), the "rebuilding" officially begins. If you think 28-69 stinks like your Aunt Betty's feet at the annual August family picnic, wait until you see what 2019 and 2020 bring us.

So, while the Nationals dabble in the post-season year-after-year, we buy stocks and bonds on the Orioles finishing in last place.

Last night's love affair with Bryce Harper was a little hard to stomach, but only because Baltimore never really got that chance with Manny. The closest we came was his 1st inning home run on Sunday against the Rangers. Then the rains came and he was pulled from the game. No final at-bat, no standing ovation from a half-filled ballpark. Nothing.

I know what the critics will say.

"Your baseball owner created this friction with Major League Baseball, he deserves all the shunning one man can handle."

Maybe so.

But should the baseball fans of Baltimore be neglected because Peter Angelos can't settle a decade long feud with the D.C. ownership group?

We can't have good things until he's gone? Is that the deal?

If so, that stinks.

Meanwhile, there are whispers that Baltimore/D.C. is a finalist for World Cup games when that event returns to the U.S. in 2026.

Don't believe it. At least not the "Baltimore" part.

Boston (Foxborough) will get games.

New York (New Jersey) will get games.

Philadelphia will likely get games.

That leaves D.C. and Baltimore.

Both of those cities aren't getting games. One will, one won't.

I don't see any chance we win that battle over D.C.

More salt in the wound, albeit eight years away and all.

Who knows, by that time, maybe our baseball team will be good again.

And by then, we might have a high moment or three with the Ravens. I heard they drafted a quarterback in the first round recently. The last time they drafted a quarterback in round one, you know what happened...


o's grades in today's "juice" podcast


It wasn't a pretty exercise, but I handed out mid-season report cards in today's edition of "The Juice".

Go ahead and give it a listen if you can stomach all the bad grades.

Three guys on the team actually got grades ABOVE "B". Everyone else...not so much.

Seriously, though, go ahead and check it out and see if you agree. I mean, the team's 28-69, but maybe you see things differently than I do.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

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



The Orioles beat the Rangers on Sunday, actually winning their final series headed into the All-Star break. You'd be forgiven if you didn't know that, however. Understandably, the actual results of the games almost don't seem to matter anymore as all of the attention is focused on where Manny Machado is going to be playing at the end of the month, and when he'll be leaving Baltimore.

As expected, Machado is drawing heavy interest around the league. Players of his caliber just aren't available at the deadline very often, and a number of tight races around the league means that there are easily north of half a dozen teams who could very much use that kind of upgrade to their lineup. And with that interest comes an avalanche of "reports," rumors, and updates on the state of the market, the nature of the offers on hand...and corrections to previous reports.

So in an attempt to make some sense of the chaos, allow me to present my own handicapping of the likely landing spots for Machado.

To form the list I'm using the six teams who have been connected to Machado the most consistently, from a wide variety of reporters, and who are still confirmed to be in contact with the Orioles as of Sunday. The rankings are based on my own assessment of the teams' respective farm systems, Machado's potential impact on their playoff chances, and their likelihood of pulling the trigger on a deal.

The rankings, from the least likely to the most likely:

6. Yankees: I know everyone thinks of the Yankees always making the big splashy move and getting their guy, but that actually hasn't often been the case since Brian Cashman took control of the team's baseball operations a decade ago. If anything Cashman has been reluctant to deal his top prospects for veterans, let alone rentals, and his current group is even stronger than guys he previously deemed off limits like Manny Banuelos and Mason Williams. And while the Yankees are in a real race for the division with Boston, they're running away with a wild card spot already and avoiding a one game playoff isn't worth giving up a big time prospect for a rental. Furthermore, while we always imagine stars putting on pinstripes, Machado doesn't fit the Yankees' roster well at all, especially as he continues to assert that he doesn't want to move back to third base this season. The Yankees need pitching, both now and in the future, and there's just no good fit here on paper.

Fittingly it was reported on Sunday that the strength of the Yankees' offers have been drastically overstated, and that the Bombers aren't willing to part with any of their top 10 prospects to get Machado. There's still depth in their system, and they might be able to make a strong offer by packaging two or three guys from the 11-20 range in their organization, but I don't see that happening, or the Orioles being satisfied with such a package.

It's hard to imagine Manny doing this for another team, but it looks inevitable he'll be in another uniform when the regular season resumes this Friday.

5. Indians: The Indians have been hanging around discussions for weeks now, but much like the Yankees it's just hard to see a fit here. That's especially true if Machado remains insistent on playing shortstop, because Francisco Lindor ain't moving for anybody. At third, though, things become a little bit clearer. That would allow fellow MVP candidate Jose Ramirez to move to second base, where he's better suited anyway, and the struggling Jason Kipnis would have his role reduced. The move would likely lock down the A.L. Central for the Tribe, and provide a needed boost to a team that feels like an afterthought to the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees right now.

The problem is that the Indians don't have much in the way of high end prospects. Their only consensus top 100 prospect is Francisco Mejia, a top 10 prospect, and he's not going to be moved for a rental. Triston McKenzie was on all the top 100 lists last year, but his stock has fallen, and the Indians would still probably be unlikely to move him. They do have good depth through their top 15 though, and I'm putting them ahead of the Yankees because their long term window isn't as bright, and they may be motivated to make a big move after following a near miss in the 2016 World Series with a first round exit last year.

4. Diamondbacks: All along, the Diamondbacks have made the most sense as a landing spot for Machado. They need an upgrade in the infield, including at shortstop, and with the Dodgers dealing with injuries this is easily their best chance to make a run at a division crown for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, they also have the weakest farm system of anyone said to be chasing Manny, with right-handed pitcher Jon Duplantier representing their only prospect who is anywhere close to grading as elite. The Diamondbacks would almost certainly have to include him in any deal, and he'd be a good piece to get back to be sure. He does have a recent injury history, however, and we know how the Orioles are with sketchy medical reports. The O's reportedly haven't ruled him out entirely, but it seems likely that they'd demand someone else in Arizona's top 4-7 range, meaning that the Diamondbacks would have to give up a lot more of their assets relative to other team's. I wouldn't rule that out though because, again, Machado is a perfect fit for them both in terms of roster and competitive timing.

3. Dodgers: Like the Yankees, the Dodgers have a deep farm system loaded with top tier talent to deal from. There's half a dozen guys in the Dodgers' system who could easily lead a deal to acquire Machado. And unlike the Yankees, Cory Seager's injury creates an obvious fit for Machado in L.A., and even lets him stay at shortstop. But the Dodgers are another team whose front office just doesn't seem likely to trade away any of their top prospects for a rental, even one as good as Machado. We've already heard that they won't consider parting with Alex Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz, Yadier Alvarez, or Dustin May. Those guys are scattered throughout their top 10 according to most evaluators, so it stands to reason that they aren't interested in trading anyone from their top 10.

That would be in keeping with the way they approached the deadline last season, when the only prime asset they were willing to talk about was Willie Calhoun, who profiled as a DH. They took some flak from that in the national press....and then went on to make it to Game 7 of the World Series. This year they're right back in the thick of things, sitting right at the top of their division despite the adversity they've faced in the first half. Combining those two factors with the fact that they look like they'll be able to restock themselves for quite some time, and I would be surprised if they really go hard after Machado. The only reason I'm ranking them ahead of the Diamondbacks is the depth of their system, which includes some interesting prospects outside of their top 10 that might pique the Orioles interest. I'd keep an eye out for names like Jordan Sheffield (RHP) and Omar Estevez (INF)in particular.

2. Phillies: We've already heard that the Phillies have increased their offer for Machado at least once, which suggests that their interest is real and very strong. The Phillies weren't necessarily expected to contend just yet, but they look like the N.L. East's best team at the moment, and they've already started adding veterans like Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana to their young core. Machado would be a nice capstone on the roster, and make them a bona fide contender for the pennant in the process. After a massive rebuild, they've got the process to make a deal, and the guy running their team just so happens to be the guy who drafted Machado in the first place.

But like just about everyone else, the Phillies don't seem to be eager to move any of their top prospects, especially their pitchers. Top prospects Sixto Sanchez (RHP) and Scott Kingeary (INF) are said to be off the table, while shortstop J.P. Crawford has already cracked the big leagues and is reportedly a favorite of Philly's brass. More than one report has said they're willing to part with right-hander Adonis Medina, however, which is definitely a workable starting point. Medina is a couple of year's away from the big leagues yet, and only 21 years old this season, but his fastball sits in the mid-90's and scouting reports give him good marks for both his slider and changeup. So far his results are encouraging too: In his first season of full season ball he's racked up 75 strikeouts against 26 walks in 71 innings, and his less than impressive 4.92 ERA is backed by a solid FIP of 4.39. His groundball rate is above 50% for his minor league career.

With more live arms in the mid-range of their system, the Phillies could easily build a strong offer around Medina. I think they'll do just that, and I very much Machado to call Philadelphia home in 2019. That said, in the near term I still think that Philadelphia will ultimately be outbid by the...

1. Brewers: First of all, the Brewers have been the team most consistently linked to trade talks for Machado for weeks now. The Dodgers and Diamondbacks have faded, the Indians and Braves have supposedly been on the periphery for the most part, the Yankees are late additions, and the Phillies have been in and out of the "frontrunner" lists. The Brewers, however, have been one of the listed among the strongest suitors in every report, and with reports that they would like to build a package around outfielder Brett Phillips they've also got the best prospect on the table right now of any team in the mix. Phillips isn't likely to be the Orioles top target, as they're deep in outfield talent and his plus power is backed by questionable grades on his hit tool. But if the Brewers threw his name out early, that tells you how serious they are in talks.

What really sets the Brewers apart from the rest of the list, however, is their historical willingness to make bold moves to contend in the short term. This is the team that's moved top prospects for C.C. Sabathia and Zack Greinke, with pretty good success, so adding Machado now at a point when they can contend with the Cubs and Cardinals, and before the Reds' stable of top prospects starts producing at the big leagues, would be in keeping with previous behavior.

The Orioles have said to be targeting 23 year old right-handed pitcher Corbin Burnes, who throws in the low-to-mid 90's, commands all of his pitches well, and figures to be big league ready by next season.

Before it's all said and done I think the Brewers are going to agree to center a deal around him, and Machado will carry them to an N.L. Central title before departing for a $350 million+ deal with the Phillies this winter.

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british open preview: poulter (gasp!) finally breaks through


The British Open (no, I'm sorry, I will not refer to it as The Open Championship) starts tomorrow at Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland, where players who have stepped foot on the property this week say it's playing hard and fast.

You're seeing lots of irons off tees and plenty of 335 yard 3-woods.

Alas, it's Scotland, and the weather can change as often as Chris Davis strikes out. Like, two or three times a day.

Our Top 7 list concludes today with our predicted champion. But first, a couple of darkhorses for those of you who might place a wager or two on the event and need someone that would net a nice return.

I love the chances of Lee Westwood this week. Clearly in the November of his career, Westwood still has good golf left, as he showed last week at the Scottish Open. I've always thought "he'll win one, sometime". This could be the one. Out of nowhere. You can get him at 100-1, I think.

I'm not sure he's exactly a "darkhorse", as a win for Paul Casey wouldn't be as surprising as one from Westwood, but Casey doesn't have a major win in his career and it seems almost unfair. He's too good to not have a major trophy to add to his collection. At 30-1, he's a nice bet.

You can definitely call Tyrrell Hatton a darkhorse and it's OK. You might even call him "British Open champion" after this weekend. At 60-1, he's a whale of a bet. He's coming off a T9 at the Scottish Open and a player worth watching.

Is it finally time for Ian Poulter to be a major champion? #DMD says "yes".

Now...to our winner.

We started on Wednesday, July 11 with Francesco Molinari at #7.

Tommy Fleetwood checked in at #6 yesterday.

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick was our #5 pick.

Zach Johnson came in at #4. Spoiler alert: He's the only American you'll see on this list.

And Rafael Cabrera-Bello was #3 on Sunday, July 15.

At #2, it was Sweden's Alex Noren.

This won't be a popular pick here in the U.S., but I can only call 'em like I see 'em. And even though I'd rather see someone else win -- anyone else, really -- I have a weird feeling the time has come for Ian Poulter to finally claim that elusive major championship.

I'd say "I hope I'm wrong", but a 50-1 wager I placed a few days ago won't let me say that.

I know Poulter's not very popular.

But he's playing great golf these days. When he needed to win the week before Augusta just to get in the Masters field, he did it. It's hard enough to win an event on the PGA Tour, let alone do it when you have to do it.

And his form has continued over the last three months, sniffing around at several other events, including last weekend's Scottish Open.

Carnoustie has delivered weird outcomes along the way. 1999 was the Van de Velde collapse and the Paul Lawrie comeback. 2007 was the Harrington 72nd hole screw up, the Garcia miss on the last putt in regulation, and the Padraig-playoff-win with the whole world rooting against Sergio.

An Ian Poulter win this week will be popular with Poulter and his family and that's about it.

Well, and one guy from Baltimore.

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Monday
July 16
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issue 16
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like a proud poppa


There's something to be said for that old saying, "living vicariously through you".

It typically depends on how close you are to someone, but it's a great feeling when someone has success and you can revel in it with them, all the while acknowledging it's their accomplishment and you're just there for the ride.

I've been very fortunate over the last six years to have coached some extraordinarily talented young golfers.

Within the last week, three of them have been successful at their respective levels of competition. I'm like a proud poppa, beaming at both their play on the course and their development as young men.

Last week at the Maryland Open, my 2013 Calvert Hall co-captain, Jimmy Grem, completed 54 holes of stroke play at even par, shooting 70-67-73 to finish tied for first after regulation play.

On the 54th hole, Jimmy faced an 8-foot putt to join what was already a 3-man playoff and he made it. A few minutes later, he needed another 8-footer to stay alive at the second playoff hole and he made that one, too.

That he fell to eventual champion Ryan Cole on the third playoff hole (Cole made birdie to win) was almost an afterthought. Grem, a professional who is part of the Eagle's Nest professional staff, played the best golf of his life on what was one of the toughest Maryland Open venues in recent memory.

After a stellar career at Calvert Hall, Jimmy Grem went on to play at Towson University and is now an aspiring professional in the PGA.

I always greet the players from that 2013 Calvert Hall team by calling them "Champion". No matter the player, no matter his role, I address them all as "Champion", as that group won the 2013 MIAA title in dramatic fashion, beating a Mount Saint Joseph team at Rolling Road (who hadn't lost at home in four years) in the semi-finals and then edging Gilman in the finals at Caves Valley.

Grem backed up that "Champion" moniker last week with his exceptional play.

One of my current players, rising junior Harrison Silva, also played in the spotlight this past weekend, winning the Hunt Valley club championship.

Silva defeated several quality players on his way to the final, including a back nine 31 in his semi-final match on Saturday that moved him into the championship match.

It was also great to see Silva's Calvert Hall teammate, Austin Steckler, caddying for him on Sunday in the championship match. I stress to my high schoolers all the time that any success one of them has should be celebrated by everyone. Steckler, who has played in every match at Calvert Hall as a freshman and sophomore, has enjoyed his own fine play recently, but seeing him "on the bag" with Silva on Sunday was just as good -- to a coach, anyway -- as seeing him post a low round in a tournament somewhere.

Two other players on my team, Patrick Hurdle (senior) and Michael Crowley (junior) have both enjoyed second place tournament finishes recently. It's only a matter of time before they both break through in the winner's circle.

And incoming Calvert Hall freshman Lorenzo Sanz had a week to remember last week, winning three one-day events in succession. I'm super excited to have Sanz at Calvert Hall and can't wait to see him compete in the challenging MIAA A-Conference.

I have a rule at Calvert Hall golf. During the summer months, every tournament score must be texted to me. I don't care if it's 94 or 74, I want to know. Lately, those texts have been sharing great news about scores and accomplishments.

I couldn't be more proud of those guys and everyone on the team who continues to improve.

And speaking of golf, Drew's Morning Dish is again sponsoring the Jerry's Auto Group 5th annual golf classic to benefit kids in wheelchairs through MDA of Greater Maryland.

The event is today, at The Suburban Club in Pikesville. The #DMD foursome is made up of players from my Calvert Hall team, so we're hoping to put another "w" in the books!

Jerry's has donated over one hundred and seventy thousand dollars from the first four golf tournaments. Their goal this year is seventy-five thousand dollars in donations.

Funds go to send kids in the Baltimore area to MDA summer camp, help with necessities for local families like wheel chairs and lifts, plus some of the money goes to research for cures.

I play in several of these events every year. The Jerry's tournament is one of the best, ranging from organization of the event to food, prizes and the message that Jerry's is working hard for their community.

I'm proud to be associated with the Jerry's Auto Group tournament again in 2018.

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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.


numbers game


Who?

#13

At the All-Star break, it’s time to talk about Manny Machado, #13, who can’t possibly be here in town for more than a few more days.

I’m hoping he ends up in Philadelphia, both this season and in the future. That way we won’t see him until 2021, unless that World Series matchup happens. Anyway…

I’ve said this here before, but Manny Machado is the most talented player I’ve seen in an Orioles uniform.

Frank Robinson left the team after the 1971 season, and I wasn’t born until 1973. So, I’ll leave it up to those of you who saw him play to make the choice between him and Manny. Frank finished in the top three in the MVP voting three times in six years here in town…pretty good.

Machado is not the best pure athlete to play for the Orioles; all you have to do is watch him run the bases to see that. Certainly Eddie Murray, one of the great power hitters of all-time, was better in that category than Manny. Heck, Chris Davis is probably the best pure power hitter to wear the uniform.

Manny, however, hits the ball harder, consistently, than anyone I’ve seen. It’s like the difference between Tiger Woods in his prime and most everyone else; there’s something different about the contact he makes.

Meanwhile, in his nearly 800 games playing third base for the Orioles, Manny proved to be the most special fielder of his era. He took what could be expected at the position of the best players and brought it up a notch.

It’ll be interesting to see if Manny is a better player somewhere else, in the so-called prime of his career, than he was here. I wouldn’t bet on it.


What?

26-24

Moving to tennis, at Wimbledon, you may have seen or read about the men’s semifinal match between American John Isner and South African Kevin Anderson, which went to five sets and took six-and-a-half hours before Anderson won the fifth set 26-24.

John Isner has now played in the two longest Wimbledon matches ever after taking six and a half hours to lose in five sets to Kevin Anderson last week.

You also may remember eight years ago at Wimbledon, when Isner defeated Nicolas Mahut in a match that defied logic. It took three days, twice suspended by darkness on an outer court, before Isner won the fifth set 70-68.

The fact that Isner was involved in both is no accident. He is 6-foot-10 with a serve that’s nearly impossible to return, but his size has often limited his movement around the court when the other guy is serving.

Right now, the U.S. Open is the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to use the tiebreak in the final set. That should change immediately, beginning in Australia in January.

The fifth set (third set for women) is no different than any other set. The rules of the game are the same. If a tiebreaker is good enough to be used in every other set, why isn’t it good enough for the last set? If playing one doesn’t demean the match in each of the first four sets, why does it demean it in the fifth?

A tennis tournament like Wimbledon is an event that’s very difficult to keep on schedule. Wouldn’t it be better, and fairer to all the players, if there was no chance that a match could end up like Isner’s two marathons?

Here’s a compromise, and just for Wimbledon, it being what it is in the history of the game. If it goes to 12-12 in the final set, then go to a tiebreak.


Where?

1999

The Open Championship returns to Carnoustie this week. The Scottish course is often noted as the most difficult of those on the Open “rota,” the collection of clubs that host the event, especially if the weather is poor.

19 years ago, they played the event at Carnoustie for the first time in 24 years. In about 20 minutes on Sunday, the tournament went from a total slog to be won by a virtual nobody to one of the most insane finishes of any golf tournament ever.

Actually, the tournament was still won by a virtual nobody, Paul Lawrie, just not the virtual nobody it should have been, Frenchman Jean Van de Velde.

I’ve missed many of the great Open final rounds recently because I’ve been out playing golf myself. Phil Mickelson’s 2013 triumph at Muirfield and his duel with Henrik Stenson at Troon in 2016 come to mind.

I was watching Van de Velde choke it away, though. The weather was really rainy that weekend in Baltimore, and there wasn’t much else to do for some reason.

All these years later, I’m still struck by several things about the end of the tournament…

The ABC crew broadcasting the event to the United States was completely beside itself the whole time. I have never heard anything like it on a golf tournament since, even from Johnny Miller.

After Van de Velde got lucky with his driver on his tee shot, he hit a bad 2-iron on his approach to the green. Later, when he was asked about that strategy, as opposed to hitting an easier club back onto the fairway, he said something to the effect of “I’m a professional golfer. I’m supposed to be able to hit a 2-iron.”

He was right, of course, though it’s always been easier to question his strategy than simply to say that he hit a really bad shot at the worst time.


When?

69

The 2018 Orioles enter the All-Star break with 69 losses. I’ll repeat that. 69 losses.

A reminder that the hapless 1988 Orioles entered the break with 59 losses. The break was a week earlier in the season that year, but even if you add an extra week they’d lost only 63 games.

For what it’s worth, the Kansas City Royals enter the break with 68 losses, so we’re not completely alone. With 27, the Royals also have fewer wins than the Orioles.

Also, for what it’s worth, you may remember the 2014 season. That was when the Royals and Orioles played each other in the American League Championship Series.

Might as well be 14 years ago, not four years ago.

We know all about the Orioles, but the Royals probably aren’t so familiar to us. So, here’s some reasons why they’re just as bad as we are.

Lorenzo Cain, terrific outfielder, now plays for Milwaukee.

Eric Hosmer, a first baseman excellent with the glove and the bat, signed with San Diego this past offseason. The first four years of his contract are worth $84 million.

In every game in that four-game sweep of the Orioles, manager Ned Yost went to a three-headed bullpen monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, each of whom seemed to throw harder than the other. The Royals caught lightning in a bottle with them that season.

When Herrera was traded to Washington about a month ago, that meant that none of them were around anymore.

If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, it would be hard to believe that these two teams were close to the class of the league for a few years.


Why?

9-7

I always like to examine quarterbacks when I look at the upcoming Ravens’ season. I don’t mean Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson; I mean the quarterbacks for the other teams.

Frankly, the reason the Ravens were one play away from the playoffs in 2017 was the litany of backups they got to play against. Brett Hundley, anyone?

In 2018, I see three immediate wins thanks to the usual two games against the Browns and the home opener with the Bills, who’ll likely start A.J. McCarron. Whatever the case, Buffalo will have the least experienced group of QBs in the NFL.

I don’t see the experienced Andy Dalton winning both games against Baltimore, though I don’t see him losing both either. Make it four wins.

Though it’s impossible to predict what the season will look like for Tampa by December 16, I don’t see it being so great. Jameis Winston only has to sit out the first three games, but he’s not going to win here. That’s five.

It gets harder after that. Case Keenum had a career year in Minnesota last year and was signed by Denver in the offseason. My bet is that he won’t lead the Broncos to victory in Baltimore September 23. Six.

The Chiefs are all in on Patrick Mahomes in 2018. They host the Ravens in December, and I’m willing to give the visitors a real chance there. Seven.

What the hell. Maybe John Harbaugh’s team will avenge last year’s loss to the Titans in Nashville by flipping the script this season. It’s not like Marcus Mariota and his team are world beaters. Eight.

Otherwise, I’m really not that confident. Home games against the Raiders and Saints bring two great QBs into town, for instance.

Somehow, I think the Ravens will get that ninth win. But I don’t see any more than that.

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british open top 7


The British Open (no, I'm sorry, I will not refer to it as The Open Championship) is set to start next Thursday, July 19 at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.

It's the third of four majors on the professional golf circuit this year. Patrick Reed won The Masters back in April and Brooks Koepka repeated as U.S. Open champion last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Who will raise the Claret Jug on Sunday, July 22nd?

I'm glad you asked.

Over the next week, #DMD will give you the projected top seven finishers at this year's event.

One thing you might be wise to expect: a playoff. The last three British Opens played at Carnoustie required a playoff to determine the winner.

In 2007, Padraig Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in extra holes.

In 1999, Paul Lawrie came back from a 10-shot deficit to win a playoff over Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard.

In 1975, Tom Watson edged Australia's Jack Newton in a playoff.

So, if you're suspecting this year's event at Carnoustie might need "overtime", you might very well be right.

But #DMD doesn't think so.

Is 36-year old Alex Noren ready to enter the winner's circle at a major championship? #DMD thinks so.

The winner won't need anything but 72 holes to get the job done. So, let's look at the top seven finishers, shall we?

We started on Wednesday, July 11 with Francesco Molinari at #7.

Tommy Fleetwood checked in at #6 yesterday.

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick was our #5 pick.

Zach Johnson came in at #4. Spoiler alert: He's the only American you'll see on this list.

And Rafael Cabrera-Bello was #3 on Sunday, July 15.

We're now down to our final two players.

At #2, it's Sweden's Alex Noren.

The last time they played the British Open in Scotland, Henrik Stenson, another Swede, won his first major title. Don't be shocked if it's back-to-back Scotland wins for the Swedish, as Noren has the game to capture the Claret Jug.

Noren is ranked 14th in the world and is currently 31st on the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup points list. He has 11 international wins -- none yet on the PGA Tour -- a T6 at last year's British Open.

It's only a matter of time before Noren wins a major. Like a lot of guys who play on the European Tour and dabble in the U.S., you might not have heard of Noren, but you can rest assured he's capable of beating anyone over four days.

He's made 10 of 12 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, with two second place finishes and third place finish as well.

On the European Tour, he just won the French Open three weeks ago for his 11th win on that tour.

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O's SCOREBOARD
Wednesday, August 15
Orioles
5

Mets
16
WP: Z. Wheeler (8-6)

LP: D. Bundy (7-11)

HR: Villar (2), Frazier (12), Plawecki (4), Flores (11)

RECORD/PLACE: 36-85, 5th (of course)

breakfast bytes

Tampa's Snell continues Cy Young chase, improves to 14-5, Rays beat Yankees in NY, 3-1.

Former Oriole Brad Brach blows save in 9th, Braves lose at home to Rockies, 5-3.

Marlins' Urena suspended six games for hitting Braves' Acuna on Wednesday.

PGA Tour: Snedeker becomes 9th TOUR player to shoot 59 in first round of Wyndham.