Wednesday
August 15
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issue 15
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maryland can't be done, right?


The first major domino to fall in the Maryland football saga came on Tuesday, but the talk afterwards was more about who didn't get fired then who did.

Officially, Maryland didn't "fire" anyone yesterday. Strength and conditioning coach Rick Court "resigned" on Tuesday. That's what Maryland President Wallace Loh said during a press conference in College Park.

But there was no way Court was going to survive. Resigned, fired, it's all the same.

Somehow, though, head coach DJ Durkin remains employed by the school.

Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin still remains employed by the school, despite the school yesterday taking full responsibility for the death of student-athlete Jordan McNair.

That might be just a matter of protocol as attorneys battle behind the scenes to work out Durkin's "resignation" as well. Loh and athletic director Damon Evans didn't address Durkin's situation during Tuesday's press conference.

It seems like there's simply no way Durkin can hold on to his job, right? Put on the side for a moment the discussion about whether or not Durkin should be fired and just ask yourself this: How could he ever go into the home of a high school football player and convince that young man and his parents that Maryland would provide the student-athlete with a caring, safe environment?

By the way, the "discussion" about whether Durkin should remain as Maryland's football coach should take all of about, oh, 3.2 seconds.

"Do you think DJ Durkin should be fired?" comes the question.

This should take about 3.2 seconds. "Yes, he should be fired immediately."

But even if, somehow, your opinion differs to the answer, you can't possibly be of the opinion that Durkin and Maryland football would have success recruiting players in the Mid-Atlantic...or anywhere for that matter.

The football program is in shambles. A young man is dead. Maryland football staffers either intentionally failed to provide the proper medical assistance as part of an ongoing "make 'em tough" regimen or they simply overlooked several basic steps in helping Jordan McNair back in May when he passed out during a spring practice.

There are two stories at Maryland. They're both connected and distinctly different.

First, a member of the football team went uncared for in the moments after a medical condition struck him down.

That young man passed away.

Maryland, as Dr. Loh noted on Tuesday, is responsible for that young man's death.

The other story, though, is the one that focuses on Durkin and his staff -- and the way they ran their football program and practices. Some of the stuff makes the movie Full Metal Jacket look like a Boy Scout camping trip.

DJ Durkin can't coach Maryland football any longer.

There's just no way.

Somehow, though, the axe didn't fall on him yesterday.

It's only a matter of time. Right?

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an idea worth trying (?)


The Orioles have now played 60 homes in the 2018 campaign after last night's 6-3 win over the Mets.

That leaves 21 home games remaining to be played at Camden Yards. Only 21? Thank the Lord, right?

What, besides the things they pre-planned last winter, are the Orioles going to do over the next six weeks to try and lure people down to the ballpark to watch them play?

Let's remember this: Last off-season when the team was putting together its promotional calendar and figuring out when to give away hats and jerseys and snow globes, they had no idea the 2018 edition of the Orioles would compile the worst record in franchise history.

There will be lots and lots of empty seats in the stadium in August and September. Are the Orioles going to try and fill them or no?

Now, in mid-August, the reality is that there's no real compelling reason to go down to the ballpark, unless you're like me and you already have the tickets via a season ticket plan. I just leafed through my tickets yesterday to see how many games I have remaining (4) and quickly wondered how many I might actually attend (2?).

But if you're just a casual baseball fan who takes in a game or three a year based on weather, opponent and the importance of the game/series, what's going to drive you to head down to the stadium anytime soon?

Here's an idea. It's simple. It could easily be put together by the team's marketing staff.

Give the Orioles $20 and go to as many games as you want between now and the end of the season.

If you go to every game (let's assume you're busy tonight and can't catch the finale of the 2-game series with the Mets), that comes out to $1.00 a game for the rest of the year.

Newsflash: You won't go to all 20 games.

Maybe you go to four. That would be a lot. In that case, you'd pay $5.00 per-seat.

But if you did pay $20 and got some sort of "card" that got you a ticket to any remaining home game, you might head down to the stadium and take advantage of the deal.

I've already thought about the drawbacks. Boston and New York fans who typically don't mind paying "full price" would now just pay $20 one time.

The Orioles could limit the offer to people ONLY in the state of Maryland, I suppose. Show your ID at the ticket window. If you're not from Maryland, you can't buy the package.

Ultimately, as I learned during my days in the soccer business, if you create some sort of special offer or discount but limit its availability, people who want to beat you will figure out a way to do it.

Uncle Billy from the Bronx will just have cousin Nick down in Severna Park go to the stadium and get him his $20 "pass" for all the remaining Yankees-Orioles games in Baltimore this season.

In the end, the Orioles shouldn't really care how many fans of other teams get into the stadium. They should just want people in the ballpark, period.

Perhaps they don't care all that much what the crowds are going to be for the final twenty home games. If they don't, then doing nothing down the stretch to lure people in doesn't make much sense.

But if they care about attendance, make it attractive enough to get folks to Camden Yards to see, potentially, the worst team in all of baseball try to scrape and scrap their way to at least 50 wins.

For $20.00, you can go to however many games you want.

Everyone wins.

Well, except for the team on the field, most likely.

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Tuesday
August 14
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issue 14
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"every shot is an event"


I try to stick with content and stories here that have the most potential to connect with a majority of the readers.

This one, today, might not fulfill that quest.

But if you're an athlete of some kind, and specifically a golfer, this could be something worth reading.

I'll get back to writing about the Orioles or Ravens tomorrow.

I've experienced a modest resurgence in my golf game this summer. I say "modest" because I'm a mid 50's amateur golfer who now finds myself competing against similar players in their 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.

Competing against 50-somethings? Enjoyable. Competing against the younger lot? Enjoyable, still, but also a reminder that we're not getting any younger, especially when they're hitting it 325 off the tee with alarming accuracy and regularity.

Trust me, the Mid-Atlantic region is FILLED with really strong, accomplished amateur players of all ages, shapes and sizes.

To what do I owe my resurgence?

Two people, actually.

Tiger Woods.

And David Rosenfeld, our twice weekly writer here at #DMD.

Quite a contrast, huh?

How have they helped me? Settle in and I'll tell you.

Our resident expert-on-almost-everything, George, has been after me for a few weeks to write about my golfing adventures.

During a phone call yesterday, he urged me again.

"You have three recent tournaments in the bank. Write about them," he said. "Tell us something."

"Play a movie in your mind of the shot you want to hit" Jack Nicklaus wrote in his 1970's book, "Golf My Way".

"I haven't really had anything to say," I replied. "I mean, I've played some good golf in stretches, but I haven't been able to find anything really noteworthy enough to write about."

"But I think I have something now," I confessed.

A few weeks back, David Rosenfeld authored a piece here at #DMD that focused on Tiger and the coverage afforded him by the networks and the golf media in general.

In that piece, he criticized the TV folks for the abundance of coverage they provide Woods, writing, "Every shot is an event".

What he meant, basically, was that no matter what else is going on out on the course, as soon as Woods is ready for his next shot, everything else stops and the coverage goes to him. And that's pretty much true, and has been for as long as Woods has been around.

In the same way that Nicklaus fans probably liked seeing every shot he hit, Tiger fans -- and I'm one of them -- like seeing every shot he hits. Some folks don't care for Tiger and are put off by the Tiger 24/7 show. I get that. It's horses-for-courses, I suppose.

Sometimes a writer puts something out there with a specific, intended message, and the reader absorbs it according to the presentation of the author.

Other times, the writer provides commentary that is viewed a certain way by one reader and in another way entirely by a different reader.

In the case of David's "Every shot is an event" comment, I took it much differently than I think he intended or expected.

Put yourself in this spot for a minute. Pick a local golf course where you and your friends gather on Saturday or Sunday during the summer for a casual, some-of-the-rules-apply round of golf.

You're standing in the 17th fairway at Rocky Point. You've been on a lifelong quest to break 80. Earlier in the round, after posting 39 on the opening nine holes, you hit a tee shot into the woods at the par-5 12th hole.

"Hit another ball," your friend offers. "You're playing too well to let that one bad swing ruin your round."

Knowing your front nine score and the two pars at #10 and #11, you decline the offer for a mulligan. You realize a score of 79 is potentially within reach.

On the 17th tee, you do your best not to think about the fact that you're six over par for the day. With two holes to play, your goal of shooting in the 70's is right there.

After a decent tee-shot, you hop in the cart. "Dude, you're playing great today," your playing partner says. He stops the cart and turns to the other two players in the group who are in the cart behind. "Do you guys know he's six over par right now?" he shouts.

You get to your ball in the fairway at the 17th hole. Mocking a TV announcer, one of your friends creeps out of the cart and lowers his voice like Verne Lundquist in the tower. "Here we are at the 17th hole at the famous Rocky Point outside of Baltimore, where (insert name here) is on the verge of breaking 80 for the first time in his life."

You shoo him away and go through your routine. But the moment hits you as you look at the flag some 150 yards away on the right corner of the green.

All of the near misses. The 81 at Mount Pleasant last year. The 80 a month ago at Greystone. A bunch triple bogeys on the 16th or 17th hole when you just needed to par in to break 80.

The moment is now upon you. Again.

Think of that pressure.

Depending on how important breaking 80 is/was to you, that moment in the 17th fairway could have been, potentially, the most important shot you've ever hit. Right then and there.

Now, think about what professional golfers endure in their effort to make a living and be as great as they can be.

Think about what Tiger Woods went through last Sunday when he tried to chase down Father Time and beat a field of the world's best golfers in an event he didn't play in a year ago because he could barely walk.

60,000 people on the golf course property, with roughly 80% of them following HIM around on the back nine.

TV cameras everywhere.

History at his fingertips.

"Every shot is an event."

You're darn tootin' it is. Every shot you hit, whether you're at Rocky Point trying to break 80 for the first time or you're Tiger Woods trying to win a 15th major, has the ability to make you or break you.

The word "event", to me, means this in golf terms: It starts with your approach to the ball. You're "in" the shot, now, thinking about the yardage, the wind, the location of the flag, where you'd like to land the ball and where you hope it finishes. You then have a pre-shot routine. Some people play with the velcro tab on their golf glove. Some adjust their hat. You walk into the ball. Waggle (or not), try to line yourself and your clubface up in the perfect position, and make the best swing you can.

That whole thing might take all of 15-20 seconds. For me, it takes about 12 seconds. Whatever the case for you, the whole thing is an "event".

Every golf shot, then, is an event.

Quick...what do you remember Scott Hoch for?

"The miss" is what you remember him for, of course. Hoch missed a 28 inch putt at the 1989 Masters that would have given him the title and, without question, would have changed his entire career.

"Every shot is an event."

Brooks Koepka strolled to the 16th tee with a one-shot lead on Sunday afternoon at Bellerive Country Club. He was faced with a 246-yard tee-shot to a back flag of the par-3 hole.

If he hits his ball in the front bunker, bogey is a possibility. If he comes up a club short and leaves himself with 50 or 60 feet to navigate on the spongy, hairy greens, he might three putt.

That shot on the 16th tee was an event. And Koepka stuffed a 4-iron to eight feet and then made the putt to go up by two shots.

In front of the whole world on TV and the 10,000 people in his gallery who probably got tired of being 12-deep in Tiger's gallery, Koepka hit the shot of his life when he needed it most.

It was an event.

story continues below

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"Every shot is an event."

When David wrote those five words in criticism of "Tiger coverage", I quickly embedded it in my brain as something I could use in my own game.

"Every shot should be an event", I said to myself the next time I went out to play at Eagle's Nest.

One of the protocols I give to every one of my Calvert Hall golfers is an exercise called "your best shot with every club".

At the beginning of every season, I ask them to write down on paper the best shot in their memory that they've hit with every club, focusing mainly on their irons.

I quickly go through my own personal list so they can see I not only ask them to complete the exercise, but I've been a self-participant for a long time.

"The best shot I've ever hit with a 7-iron," I tell them. "It came in the 2007 A-Team finals at Breton Bay. I was playing for Mountain Branch. My partner and I were even on the back nine with two holes to play. It was raining. I had 153 yards to the hole. The flag was right in the middle of the green. I hit a perfect draw 7-iron to 18 inches. That birdie held up as the winning stroke in our match against two very good Breton Bay players."

"8 iron," I continue. "I had 151 yards to the 4th green in the U.S. Senior Open qualifier at a place called Applebrook Country Club in Philadelphia in 2016. The flag was back right. I couldn't start the ball out to the right and bring it in because anything right of the green had the potential to go into a hazard. So I hit a cut shot that flew perfectly from left to right, hit 15 feet left of the pin, and trickled down to about six feet."

I could go on, but I won't. You get the idea, I'm sure.

I make my players go through that exercise at the start of every year.

"And if you can't complete the exercise," I tell them, "you're either not hitting enough great shots or you don't understand how important history and memory are to good golf."

Jack Nicklaus used to say that before he hit a shot he played a movie in his mind of the way he wanted the shot to go.

I like that thought. I tweaked it a little bit and urge my players to make their "movie" a replay of a shot they've previously hit.

To me -- and Nicklaus has 18 majors and I don't have any, so maybe he's right -- I'd rather think about something I've done before rather than something I want to do.

But our intended goal is the same thing. We're looking to get our minds right.

"Every shot is an event."

So, when David wrote that here at #DMD, it really resonated with me. Every shot should be an event. That's exactly right.

And that's probably why the TV folks cover Tiger so much. Do you know how many "events" he's authored in his golf career that were remarkably memorable?

He has a history.

An older and presumably much wiser Tiger Woods nearly won this year's British Open before falling to Franceso Molinari on the back nine at Carnoustie. But his determination in rebounding from several back surgeries was encouraging to many.

A long, successful, almost unmatched history.

With all due respect, Tiger has created more "events" in in one year (pick one from 1997 through 2008) than guys like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler have produced in their careers, combined.

He's still creating those events, as we saw at the PGA when he beat everyone over four days except Brooks Koepka.

Over the last two major championships, guess who has the best aggregrate under-par score of ANYONE in the world? Right. It's Tiger Woods. The 42-year old broken down has-been who can't play at a high level anymore. Or so some thought.

You can dislike Woods for his personal failings if you choose, but one thing you can never discount is the very reason he's on the verge of being golf's all-time winningest player: All he's ever done is won.

No one in golf history won three U.S. Juniors and three U.S. Amateurs.

Except Tiger, that is.

No one but Jack Nicklaus won more than 13 major titles.

Except Tiger, who has 14.

No one but Sam Snead ever won more than 78 PGA tour events.

Except Tiger, who has 79.

"Every shot is an event."

Here's something to think about: Every shot for that kid/guy/old man has been an event since he started playing competitive golf in California in the late 1980's.

Everywhere he's gone, he's been "Tiger Woods". Every tournament since he was 12 years old or so, he was supposed to win.

Everything he's ever done in golf has been an event.

And while his golf swing is far from perfect and his game has predictably eroded with age and injuries, one thing that apparently hasn't diminished is his golfing mind.

He can still live up to the billing that everything he does turns into an "event".

story continues below

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So when David wrote that and it rattled in my head for a day or two, I vowed to try and use it on the golf course.

"Make every shot an event," I told myself at the U.S. Senior Amateur qualifier at Elkridge CC in late July.

I shot 3 over par and missed a playoff by two shots. Two lousy, stinkin' shots. I got two awful breaks on the 9th and 12th holes that cost me two shots. On both occasions, I was one foot away from being "fine". Instead, on both holes, I was unable to make a full swing in the direction of the green because my tee shot landed in an awkward place on the golf course.

But I finished 7th out of 60 or so starters at Elkridge in my first attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur and used "Every shot is an event" throughout the round.

I was on to something.

Treating every single shot like it was an event had a calming influence on me.

If I hit a great shot, I reminded myself that particular "event" was over and done with.

The same would occur when I hit a bad shot.

On the par-5 3rd hole at Elkridge, after starting birdie-par, I hit a good drive and was left with 280 yards to the pin. In between clubs, I never got completely comfortable with the shot and badly mishit my 2nd shot, leaving me 220 yards to the green. I hit a good 7-wood from there but the ball came up 10 yards short.

"Every shot is an event," I reminded myself as I prepared for my fourth shot. I needed to save par. I pitched the ball to five feet and made the putt for five.

That calming "every shot is an event" mantra paid big dividends there.

The following weekend, I won the Baltimore Senior Amateur by one shot with scores of 75 and 74 at Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge respectively. I hadn't won a golf tournament in a while. Getting in the hunt and making some good swings down the stretch and holing huge par putts at #13 and #17 at Pine Ridge did just as much for me as winning, honestly.

"Every shot is an event," I kept telling myself on the back nine as I held on to a precarious two shot lead on the competitors in my group.

Last Thursday, I came within a few shots of qualifying for the U.S. Mid-Amateur, but the toughest part of the course bit me coming down the stretch and I flubbed away a really good score.

But all day long, even when I was fighting my swing a bit, I kept performing the ritual..."Every shot is an event".

And at the 18th hole, knowing I might need a birdie for a playoff (which, as it turns out, a birdie wouldn't have done the trick -- but I didn't know that at the time), I hit my drive on the 465 par-4 finishing hole at Chartwell right on the screws. But it bounded into a fairway bunker that left me with 224 yards to the hole.

The only way I could reach the green from that distance would be to hit a 5-wood. Hitting a 5-wood from the middle of the fairway would be a tough shot...hitting it out of a fairway bunker would be even more difficult.

But back in late May at Eagle's Nest, I hit a 5-wood out of a fairway bunker at the 15th hole. It was kind of a dumb shot, honestly, but the game was a $10.00 nassau and if I didn't pull the shot off, well, it wouldn't be the last ten bucks I'd ever lose.

I pured it perfectly out of the trap to within 100 yards of the green.

"That's the best 5-wood bunker shot I've ever hit!" I said to myself that day at Eagle's Nest. Granted, I probably haven't hit many 5-woods out of bunkers in my life, but still...

So, standing in that bunker at Chartwell, I remembered that Eagle's Nest 5-wood. I played the movie, like Nicklaus once said you should.

"Every shot is an event," I said to myself as I went through my routine.

And I flushed it perfectly. A high, arcing shot moving gently from left to right. It looked like it was going to clear the front left greenside bunker and I imagined just for a second that once it got on the putting surface it might roll out perfectly to the middle right pin on the green.

"If this gets on the green, it could roll up there tight," I thought as the ball reached its apex.

Sadly, it hit the top of the bunker next to the green and settled in softly, leaving me with a 35-foot bunker shot for my third.

I needed one more yard to clear the trap on my second shot. Just one yard. I didn't get it.

But everything about the shot left me with great joy. I went through my routine, created the shot in my mind and almost pulled it off to perfection.

And then, this past weekend, I played in the Washington County Open (WACO) at Beaver Creek Country Club in Hagerstown, a tournament filled with roughly two dozen highly-accomplished Western Maryland players, any of whom could win the event.

In 2000, I won the tournament by shooting 74-71.

18 years later, this past weekend, I shot the same score. 74-71 for two days. Except this time, I lost by nine shots to a University of Maryland golfer who went 64-72. But my 7th place finish was inspiring, even if I got a gentle reminder from the Cleat of Reality that the times have changed.

I played about as well as I could, minus a hiccup on the 17th hole on Saturday and the 2nd hole on Sunday.

"Every shot is an event," I told myself all weekend.

I'd be fibbing if I said Tiger's play this summer hasn't motivated me.

While David Rosenfeld's unintended philosophical aid improved my approach, Tiger's return to glory improved my effort.

I've had a variety of nagging injuries over the last six years or so. A battle with Lyme disease in 2011. Heel spurs. Gout. The typical aches and pains that a mid 50's guy should expect, I suppose.

None of those injuries or ailments came close to what Woods had to endure in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

When I saw him play in the British Open and nearly win, it did something for me. It reminded me that winning is really hard to do. It reminded me that you can come close, not win, and still have accomplished something very special.

And it also reminded me of something else. Despite a myriad of things that have gone wrong in his life -- several of which were his direct responsibility -- Woods never quit.

He has a half-a-billion dollars in the bank. He can live anywhere, go anywhere, play golf anywhere and do, virtually, just about anything he wants. He doesn't have to play professional golf anymore. It would be easy to quit and just hang out with his two children. But he never did.

Someone a week or two ago remarked to me that he thought it would be "noble" of Chris Davis to retire and basically hand the Orioles the $95 million they owe him for the last four years of his contract.

"Noble?" I asked the guy. "You think it would be noble for Chris Davis to quit? No. What would be "noble" would be for him to stick with it, work his ass off, and figure out a way to hit again so he can contribute to the good of the organization."

What kind of example would Chris Davis be setting if he just said, "I'll take the $60 million you guys have already paid me and just quit now"? A lousy example, that's what.

More than anything, Tiger has reminded me this summer that you don't give up. I've had spells of golf that weren't close to my standards over the last five years. While I never once thought about giving up the game competitively, I've been frustrated beyond words at times.

But with David's "event" quote in my mind and Tiger's remarkable recovery and return to the PGA Tour serving as motivation, I've enjoyed a summer of good golf along with a reminder of why I love the sport in the first place.

One of the other questions I ask my high schoolers every season before we start is this: "Why do you love golf?"

When we're done the exercise, I show them my answer.

"Because it's hard..."

Sometimes I need to remind myself that golf is hard. Really hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

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Monday
August 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logovolume xlix
issue 13
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maybe now koepka will get some respect


Tiger Woods recovered from a bogey, double-bogey start on Thursday and won the 70-hole portion of the PGA Championship with a final score of 14-under par, shooting a final round 64 on Sunday.

Bruce Koepka won the main event over 72 holes at Bellerive Country Club with a score of 16-under par. It was Koepka's third major title in his last six starts -- very "Tiger like", actually -- and his fourth career win, leaving him just 75 victories shy of tying Woods for second on the all-time wins list.

Woods failed to win a major championship in 2018, finishing T32 at the Masters, missing the cut at the U.S. Open, tying for 6th at the British Open and finishing runner up to super-talented Bruce Koepka in the PGA.

In the last two majors of the year, only six players finished ahead of Tiger -- five at the British Open and one at the PGA. By aggregrate score in those two events, no one beat Woods. He finished 19 under par (-5 at the British and -14 at the PGA) and Franceso Molinari was next at 18 under par (-8 at the British, -10 at the PGA).

They gave Tiger the trophy anyway.

Koepka erased any doubts about the PGA Tour's Player of the Year honors with his win on Sunday. While he doesn't have a "regular" win on TOUR thus far in 2018, two major victories in one year seals the deal for POTY honors. Woods knows all about winning multiple majors in one season. He's done it four times. So far.

The world golf rankings might still suggest that Dustin Johnson is the #1 player, but that's not the case when it comes to actual golf. Koepka is the best player in the world right now, even if his PGA victory was overshadowed by the runner-up finish from Tiger.

Koepka and Johnson will be part of the U.S. Ryder Cup that travels to France in late September to take on the European team. The American side will be looking for their first win on foreign soil since a victory at The Belfry way back in 1993.

Woods will also be on the team. His late summer surge and victory in the 70-hole event at the PGA Championship leaves him in 11th place in the standings with point accumulations now complete.

Webb Simpson held on for the 8th and final automatic spot at the PGA. Next on the points list were Bryson DeChambeau (9th), Phil Mickelson (10th), Woods (11th) and Xander Schauffele (12th). If captain Jim Furyk had any reservations at all about adding Woods and Mickelson to the team, he now has the points list to lean on for emphasis. Furyk could simply "go down the list" and add those who finished in the 9-10-11-12 spots.

At the very least, Tiger and Phil are locks. The #DMD opinion is that Schauffele and Tony Finau should be the two additional captain's picks.

From not playing golf in 2017 to contending at the season's final two majors, advancing to 26th in the FedEx Cup standings, and nearly making the Ryder Cup team as an automatic pick. Tiger Woods has done some supremely impressive stuff in his career, but 2018 might be the cake-topper. And that's without winning.........yet.

Meanwhile, Bruce Koepka might very well get the respect he deserves now. Koepka said he was slightly offended earlier in the week when he and Dustin Johnson were working out at a local gym and a number of people knew who Johnson was but acted like Koepka was just another 20-something guy getting in an early morning workout.

Those people in the gym might know who he is now. He's the guy with three major titles, more than the likes of Norman, Olazabal, O'Meara and Langer. He's now tied with Spieth. And just one behind McIlroy and Els.

And only eleven behind Tiger Woods.

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is big ten move responsible for maryland's issues?


This story is just starting to percolate, so expect plenty of hot takes over the next week or so as more details come out about the "toxic culture" within the University of Maryland football team.

One of those hotter-than-hot opinions will be this: Maryland's move to the Big Ten might have played a part in creating that culture.

In case you've been out of the loop for the last few months, the Maryland basketball program is also in hot water. While their transgressions might not match those of the football program, there's still an on-going federal investigation that includes Mark Turgeon's program and, more specifically, assistant coach Bino Ranson.

Has Maryland's move to the Big Ten negatively impacted Mark Turgeon and his staff?

Borrowing a famous line from the movie Training Day, "It's not what you know, it's what you can prove." The feds and the Maryland administration still have lots left to prove in their investigations of the football and basketball programs, but one thing is certain: This kind of stuff never came to light when the Terps were in the ACC.

Yes, Herman Veal ran into some trouble. Len Bias passed away. But those weren't situations involving Maryland athletics. They were situations involving Maryland players.

The two current stories are about Maryland athletics and, more specifically, about Mark Turgeon and DJ Durkin. I don't recall Gary Williams being part of a federal investigation into paying college athletes to play at Maryland. And I can't recall a story about Ralph Friedgen running his kids into the ground with exercise-and-nutrition based punishments and taunts.

And I can't help but wonder: Is this what winning in the Big Ten does to a program?

I could be off base. It wouldn't be the first time. I thought Van Halen's Diver Down was a pretty good album, but the critics suggested otherwise.

It just seems like something changed at College Park when the school shifted its athletic gears from the ACC to the Big Ten. Demands became greater. Goals became bigger. Lots and lots of money was at stake.

I get it. Schools get $50 million whether they finish first or last in Big Ten football. But find me a coach, anywhere, who knowingly signs up for losing and accepts it. If you find one, he or she is probably a loser.

Winning trumps everything.

And in their quest to win, guys like Turgeon and Durkin played as if the rules don't apply to them.

And now Maryland will pay a huge price.

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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.


terps edition

Who?

Jordan McNair

A 19-year-old kid died, exactly two months ago now. He lived in Randallstown, went to school at McDonogh, and got the chance to play football for his state school. That’s the dream, right, the way it’s supposed to be?

He didn’t deserve to be part of a nightmare, which ended with his death of course. Depending on whom you believe, it started with a terrible hour that didn’t need to happen.

There’s another sad thing, though not as sad as a young life that ended too soon. It’s the fact that it took something like this, most likely, to expose what was really going on with the football program where McNair was playing out his dream.

Other athletes in similar situations have also passed away from heatstroke. Sometimes, the people in charge have followed all the right procedures, and there wasn’t any blame to be passed. Other times there’s been a lack of recognition, and people faced consequences for their actions, or lack of them.

But maybe, just maybe, McNair’s death was an absolute consequence of a specific way of doing business. Maybe, just maybe, it was a chance that the Maryland staff was willing to take in order to run a football program their way.


What?

The staff

At the highest levels, the most important thing a head football coach does is hire a staff. That’s particularly true in college football, where you have 100 people or more on a team. If you’re a linebacker, your coach, the one who really works with you, is the linebackers coach.

Those position coaches are the guys, and even a few girls, that teach football, the people who take 18-year-olds with talent and help them mesh that talent with understanding of the game. Hopefully, any player, from the best player on the team to the backup long snapper, gets better every year.

No longer the Athletic Director at Maryland, Kevin Anderson's tenure is now marked with serious charges against both the basketball and football programs.

So what, exactly, did this guy Rick Court teach?

I guess, like any strength and conditioning coach, he tried to get players to reach levels of strength, endurance and flexibility that would help them become better football players.

That requires a good bit of knowledge, no doubt. And it certainly requires the ability to motivate, maybe even more than coaches on the field.

Does it require humiliating young men? Or was there another way to teach those lessons?

And what exactly does all of the stuff surrounding food have to do with nutrition? Is Maryland football an athletic team or a fraternity house across campus?


Where?

West Texas

In 2001, the writer Jim Dent published The Junction Boys, an account of Bear Bryant’s first preseason camp as the football coach at Texas A&M in 1954.

The story has become legendary, even made into an (awful) ESPN made-for-tv movie. Bryant took almost 100 players out to Junction, a barren outpost in West Texas, and less than 40 “survived.” The area was in the throes of a years-long drought, and Bryant had his team practicing nearly all day in 100-degree heat for 10 days without water breaks.

There was one towel soaked in cold water for the offense, and one for the defense. That kind of stuff. The stuff that, in 1954, was supposed to show how tough you were.

Obviously, even with the tragedy of Jordan McNair, what was going on at Maryland doesn’t exactly get to that level. It’s quite possible, actually, that what was reported from that training camp in Texas almost 70 years ago might not have gotten to that level. Legends are a funny thing.

Still, don’t we know better? We have so much information at hand, and so much technology available, and so much we’ve learned from mistakes of the past. What is the point of creating an atmosphere that even has a hint of that legend?


When?

2010

Maryland fired Ralph Friedgen on Dec. 20, 2010. Friedgen’s final team had finished 9-4 and won a bowl game. Not that it matters, but the Terps were actually ranked in the Top 25 of the final coaches poll that year.

And he was gone. And hey, maybe athletic director Kevin Anderson had some good reasons to get rid of him. And Friedgen is 71 now…he probably wouldn’t be the coach now anyway.

Still, Maryland’s record since 2011 is 33-54.

There have been two mistakes made, three if you count Friedgen’s firing. All of them were made by Kevin Anderson, who’s not around anymore. He was a fourth mistake.

Maybe, just maybe, the Terps are set to stop making mistakes now and start hitting a few right buttons. Possibly, that might come after another coach, Mark Turgeon, is out the door.

The whole thing started, though, when Friedgen was shown the door. Less than a year later, Gary Williams retired. Those two were the leaders of teams that had a tremendous amount of success just after the turn of the century.

It happened before, and it can happen again. What’s up for debate is how quickly it can happen again. I wouldn’t bet on it being too soon.


Why?

D.J. Durkin

The Maryland football coach, now on administrative leave, is 40 years old. His overall record as a head coach is 11-15, since he won the Birmingham Bowl as Florida’s interim coach in 2014.

He has very little to fall back on, not much in the bank, so to speak. And now whatever he did have is pretty much gone.

It didn’t have to be this way, did it?

Durkin’s teams could have been mediocre one year, then lousy the next, without the “culture” he apparently approved. Durkin’s teams were not going to come close to beating Penn State or Michigan or Ohio State, no matter what tactics his strength and conditioning coach used.

So why not establish something that his players, his coaches, and the university community could be proud of?

Why not start somewhere good, even if you can’t compete on the field, and might never be able to be Michigan or Ohio State?

They decided to start with negativity. They decided to start with something that was bound to blow up on them.

It’s a cliché, but all of it comes from the top. Durkin had a chance to create a program in a certain image, wins and losses aside, and this is what his decision was.

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Sunday
August 12
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issue 12
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this could be a sunday to remember


Brooks Koepka this and Brooks Koepka that.

"And here's Brooks Koepka with a drive of 319 yards...that leaves him just 104 to the pin."

"Another birdie for Koepka. He now leads the PGA Championship by five shots."

Brooks Koepka, blah, blah, blah.

Wasn't anyone else playing on Saturday?

I'm kidding. I just wanted to see what it was like to whine about the guy who was dominating the golf tournament and the coverage on Saturday as he built up a nice lead.

The world rankings might say Dustin Johnson is the world's #1 player, but you can give that title to Brooks Koepka if he holds on and wins today. Rankings, schmankings -- Koepka's the best player on the planet if he captures his second major in three tries and third in fourteen months.

There are others lurking who certainly have a chance, but they'll have to play well and Koepka will have to falter. On a traditional major championship layout, that possibility would definitely exist. On the benign Bellerive Country Club the players have encountered this week, it's a little less likely.

Brooks Koepka is 18 holes away from winning his second major of the 2018 season.

With green speeds running at an all-time low for a major championship, the variable that typically comes into play to separate the contenders -- poor putting -- just isn't there this week. We might remember this tournament for Koepka's triumph or Adam Scott's return to the winner's circle or the maiden major title for someone like Woodland, Fowler or Rahm. But the players will remember Bellerive as a flop of a course for a major championship.

Oh, and one other guy is lurking, too, although his 3-putt from 20-feet on the 17th hole was perhaps the most deflating par of his major championship career. Tiger Woods sits at 8-under par, four shots behind Koepka, but Tiger sat at 8-under and could have secured a spot in the final group today with an eagle at 17. Instead, he pushed his first putt 3.5 feet past the hole and then badly missed the birdie attempt. His par at the 18th hole left Woods four back with 18 holes to play.

I'll join in with the likes of David Duval and Brandel Chamblee, both of whom continue to praise Woods for his golf game but nag and nitpick at his putting.

Tee to green, Woods is "back". For a man who this time last year was hitting 50-yard chip shots, it's truly remarkable what Tiger is doing with his full swing.

But on the greens, he's nowhere near the putter he was a decade ago. Not. Even. Close.

Oddly, though, he still makes putts. He had a handful of par saves in rounds one and two in the 6-10 foot range, then did the same thing again on Saturday.

It's the birdie putts within the same general distance that Woods no longer rolls in like he built the greens himself. In the old days, no 10-footer for birdie was safe. These days, they're not even 50-50. They're more like 30 (make) - 70 (miss).

But Woods enters his second consecutive major on the first page of the leaderboard and has left little doubt that he'll be the first of Jim Furyk's four captain's picks for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

Of those hanging around at 9-under, Rickie Fowler is obviously the other-than-Tiger people's choice. He sits three shots behind Koepka after posting a third straight sub-70 round on Saturday. Gary Woodland would be right on Koepka's heels if not for a disastrous adventure in two greenside bunkers at the 10th hole, where he wound up hitting a shot from his own footprints left behind from a previous shot. And then there's Jon Rahm, who would be a -10 if he didn't call a one-shot penalty on himself during Friday's round.

Barring something crazy happening to Webb Simpson today, notably like Xander Schauffele winning and Simpson shooting a big final round number, Simpson is going to lock up the 8th and final Ryder Cup spot for the American side with his performance at the PGA. Simpson currently occupies 8th place, and with both Bryson DeChambeau (9th) and Phil Mickelson (10th) missing the cut, Simpson is positioned to clinch the spot on Sunday afternoon.

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durkin placed on leave at maryland


This is probably not going to end well for Maryland football DJ Durkin.

The third year Maryland coach was placed on administrative leave on Saturday as the university begins its full investigation into Friday's ESPN story on the football program's "toxic" culture.

They're not going to like what they find, I suspect.

But where the investigators at Maryland have a tough task on their hands is determining what's "fair" for a football coach to demand of his players and what's "not fair".

On the list of grievances against Durkin and his staff is something called "fat shaming", where someone is ridiculed for being overweight.

In our normal walk of life, fat shaming is frowned upon.

But football coaches are going to claim being overweight and not in shape is not part of their team's culture. The coaches will contend you're potentially hurting the team if you're not in top physical condition.

This, among other things, will be carefully scrutinized by the investigators at College Park.

Football people are going to go to great lengths to lean on the old adage of "you have to be tough to play football".

And let's be honest. They're 100% right about that. You have to be tough. Tougher than most, actually. It's not for the meek of heart.

Football, and in particular its training camp, has a certain "military boot camp" feel to it. You make strong players stronger and weaker players tough. You take them to the edge both physically and mentally. It's dangerous, but coaches will tell you it's necessary.

But it's how the Maryland coaches and trainers took those kids to the border of toughness that will be evaluated. Depending on the results of the investigation, Durkin and his staff might very well be guilty of stepping over the lines.

By the way, be careful basing your entire opinion on what you read on Friday at ESPN's website. It was well done, yes, and apparently well vetted, too, but it was a story with no quotes from an actual player or staffer at Maryland.

I'm a subscriber to the "where there's smoke, there's fire" theory, yes, but it would have been good to see a name or two attributed to what could be career-threatening allegations against Durkin.

But I'll echo what many have said after reading the ESPN story on Friday. If it's true and if the accusations and stories are totally accurate...Durkin has to go.

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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.


bulls beat railriders, 4-3, in 10 innings in a portent of the future of mlb

The Durham Bulls, before an over-capacity crowd of 10,086 on Friday night, fell behind 3-2 in the top of the tenth before scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning to walk off with the victory over the Yankees' Triple-A farm club, the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders.

The game featured the institution of the extra-innings rule proposed for the major leagues in a test in a minor-league game, and also used what I'll call an action clock to place a limit on the amount of time that can elapse after some specified occurences.

The proposed extra-innings rule is this: When a game is tied after nine innings, in each half-inning thereafter, the offense starts with the batter who made the last out in the previous inning being sent to second base. The game then proceeds under existing rules.

In the top of the 10th, the RailRiders sent the last man out in their half of the ninth inning to second base. The first hitter attempted a sacrifice bunt. The Bulls pitcher fielded the ball and threw it into the right-field stands. The lead runner scored. The Bulls then retired the side.

In the bottom of the 10th, the Bulls' Jason Coats began the inning at second base and Nate Lowe singled him to third. Brandon Snyder walked to load the bases, and Rob Refsnyder walked to tie the game at 3-3. Nick Ciuffo then lifted a fly ball to left field that Ryan McBroom misplayed, allowing Lowe to score and give the Bulls their fourth walk-off victory of the season.

The action-clock rules seem to center on the pitcher, with some minor requirements placed on batters. We couldn't tell which action precisely triggered the start of the clock, but here are time spans for the pitcher to begin his delivery after these occurences:

  • Two minutes and 30 seconds [2:30] after the last out of a half inning.
  • Fifteen seconds [0:15] to a batter with no runners on base.
  • Twenty seconds [0:20] after a batter or runner is retired with a runner or runners on base.
  • Thirty seconds [0:30] after a hit, a putout, a double or triple play, a walk, a stolen base, and unusual things such as balks.

After discussion with two Duke professors seated next to us [we couldn't move — the game was a sellout] and an usher and the beer man, we learned that if the batter wasn't ready [defined as "alert to the pitcher"] with seven seconds left on the clock, a strike was added to the count. If the pitcher let the clock run out, a ball was added to the count.

I'm not sure about the extra-innings rule. My first thought is that it is just too radical a change, although it does cause an electricity at the start of every overtime half-inning and will certainly bring way down the average time of extra-inning games.

I'm strongly in favor of instituting the action-clock. There is never any time-wasting by anybody on the field, and in my view that is the thing that most needs changing about the game today. That is especially true for the four-and-a-half-hour snoozefests in the playoff and World Series games of October.

The Bulls/RailRiders 10-inning game Friday night was completed in two hours and 56 minutes, which is considerably faster than MLB's average of three hours and five minutes for a nine-inning game.

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Saturday
August 11
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grandstanding is back


I gave this one a day to marinate.

Thursday night in Miami, two members of the Dolphins, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, went down on one knee during the playing of the national anthem.

And so it begins. Again.

I'll issue the obligatory qualifying statement. Maybe they'll be the only two players to take a knee all season. Perhaps Thursday's "protest" was the only time they'll do it in 2018. If that's the case, I'll be happy.

But if Stills, Albert and other NFL players are going to continue to grandstand on a regular basis, my enthusiam for the league will drain. Quickly...

Yes, it's grandstanding.

Ravens second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood near the team bench, apart from the rest of the players, with his back to the field during the national anthem on Thursday night in Baltimore.

Here's the official definition if you need it: acting or speaking in a way intended to attract attention and to influence the opinion of people who are watching.

What NFL players are doing now, in 2018, is 100% grandstanding. It might not have been in 2017, when the bulk of pre-game protests took place. Last year was a "statement" campaign, where players tried to garner attention to whatever plight they were specifically spotlighting.

We got it. Or, at least, I got it. And I think most folks who paid attention to the NFL last season also understood what was going on.

If things haven't improved and the protests either didn't build enough steam to make an impact or simply didn't work, why continue to take that out on the NFL?

Why keep using the NFL? Are they to blame for the country's shortcomings?

I'm not all that thrilled about NFL rule changes. I can hold them accountable for most of those. But I'm pretty sure I'm not going to blame the NFL for anything related to law enforcement or racial equality.

The league can't figure out what a legal tackle is...how on earth are they going to help cure the country's real woes?

But these football players still want to grandstand.

That's probably the biggest issue now. It's no longer a true "protest". It's now morphed into a quest to keep the collar tight around the neck of the NFL.

The NFL released a statement on Thursday night that backs up a spring announcement regarding the anthem. Basically, all players and personnel on the field during the anthem must stand. If a player or team personnel would rather not stand for the anthem, they can remain in the locker room until the anthem is complete.

I don't see any reason why a player would object to that. Unless, of course, they have the urge to grandstand for the sake of grandstanding.

Close to home, Ravens 2nd year linebacker appeared to be protesting on Thursday night prior to the game against the Rams. While the national anthem was being played and the Ravens were at midfield, Williams stood by himself near the team bench with his back to the field.

Looked like a protest to me.

It's a boring, tired act if you ask me.

Please, guys, just play football.

It can't be that hard to put everything aside for 3.5 hours every Sunday and just play football.

Start off every practice by taking a knee if you want. Raise your fist during jumping jacks if that's your thing.

But on Sundays, just try and play football.

It will be so much better for everyone involved. We'll just worry about the games and the point spreads and our fantasy team.

We won't have to bother with who took a knee, who raised their fist and who continued to grandstand.

No, I'm not looking to strip any player of his rights. They have the right to kneel during the anthem.

And we have the right to be bored with it all.

Come to think of it, some of us already are.

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orioles draw jones' ire with garbage tweet


Some folks just can't handle their Twitter, apparently.

After a decade of blood, sweat and tears from Adam Jones, the Orioles organization ushered him out of centerfield on Friday afternoon with this tweet:

The times they are a-changin. @cedmull30 makes his major league debut, playing CF. @SimplyAJ10 in RF for tonight’s game vs Boston. #Birdland.

That was it.

That's how the Orioles announced Adam Jones was no longer the team's everyday centerfielder.

And we thought Tim Beckham was shoddy with his hands. That tweet makes Beckham look like Brooks Robinson.

Jones was miffed enough to quickly admonish the Orioles for the way it "sounded" with a tweet of his own, but in the aftermath he deleted the rebuttal for whatever reason.

The whole thing from the Orioles came across as a terrible send-off for a player who helped bring winning back to Baltimore baseball.

Giving Mullins his own welcome would be a good idea.

And being much more sensitive to Jones and his move from center to right would have also been smart. And just to show how much Jones "gets it", he made sure it was Mullins who led the team out onto the field in the top of the first inning last night.

So, wipe away any thought at all that Jones is ticked off. He understands what's happening. He might not like it, but he's going to do everything in his power to make Mullins' arrival in the majors as smooth as it can be.

The Orioles are going to miss Adam Jones next year. You can count on it.

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maryland football in hot water


Well, for the first time in forever, Maryland football made the front page of ESPN's website on Friday.

But it was for all the wrong reasons.

The inside story of a toxic culture at Maryland football

Maryland head football coach D.J. Durkin is under the microscope after a national story called the team's culture "toxic".

Not the greatest headline in the world. It showed up on the front page of ESPN.com on Friday evening and sent immediate shockwaves throughout the state and in College Park.

The details were graphic. And unsettling, to say the least.

There will be fallout from this, for certain.

D.J. Durkin is either going to be out of a job this time next week or he'll need three layers of pants to keep his hind quarters from searing when Maryland's administration puts him on the hot seat.

Maryland football is in trouble.

So, too, is Maryland basketball, but that's a story for another day.

Durkin and his staff probably can't recover from this, particularly in the wake of the June death of Terps footballer Jordan McNair.

Based on the ESPN story, the coaching staff in College Park have overwhelmed players with threats, taunts and both physical and mental torture.

This is going to cost a number of people their jobs, watch and see.

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Friday
August 10
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issue 10
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be careful buying those super bowl tickets in advance


I shouldn't have to say this, but I will.

"It's only pre-season."

That's my friendly way of reminding you that last night's 33-7 pasting of the Rams moves the Ravens to 2-0 in August football...but neither game will amount to a hill of beans come September 9 when the Bills come to town for the first real game of the season.

By the way, that one's probably going to be a laugher as well. Buffalo stinks. Or I think they'll stink in 2018.

Ravens 27-Bills 7. You heard it here first.

But back to last night's whipping of Los Angeles, who looked completely uninterested for most of the night.

The Ravens produced a strong showing, no doubt.

It was only one series, but Joe Flacco was impressive on Thursday night with a touchdown pass in a 33-7 win over the L.A. Rams.

Joe Flacco looked terrific in his one series, going 5-for-7 with a touchdown. Flacco moved around well, made a handful of nice throws and, as lots of folks have noted during training camp, just looks more mobile than he did this time last year.

There still seems to a national story being volleyed around that the Ravens have a brewing quarterback controversy. No, they don't. They might have one next season, but this year's team belongs to Joe Flacco. For better or worse...

Lamar Jackson looked a lot like he did last Thursday night against the Bears. He ran around a lot, made a few nice throws as well, and electrified the crowd with his athleticism. His 7-for-18 stat line isn't all that impressive, percentage wise, but, again -- say it along with me -- "it's only pre-season".

His style of play is going to be the talk of the town over the next year as we prepare, eventually, for life after Flacco. Jackson is cut from the same cloth as Cam Newton, DeShaun Watson and Russell Wilson. If you like quarterbacks fleet of foot and mostly on the run, you're going to like Lamar Jackson.

Everyone in purple looked good last night.

The Rams didn't put up much competition, for starters, and the Ravens looked like a team who have been in training camp for three full weeks now, while the visitors still have summer cobwebs to shake off.

But it was good to see "promising" football from the Ravens, as opposed to "concerning" football.

Heck, Breshad Perriman was even a standout on Thursday night. The much maligned wide receiver had three receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. And the catches were actually of the impressive variety.

Don't look now, but I'm buying into a pre-season performance. I'll stop.

There's a long way to go.

None of these pre-season games matter. Not in the least.

But if you're willing to base some of your optimism on what you see in August, you have every right to be smiling this morning.

Just don't invest in those Super Bowl tickets...yet...


vacation time for "the juice"


With football season around the corner, we're reconfiguring the daily podcast here at #DMD.

It will return in all of its (new) glory on Monday, August 20.

Thanks to those of you who check in with The Juice on a daily (or occasional) basis. It will return...

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80 losses: birds in danger of finishing under .500 in 2018


The Orioles are in trouble.

With last night's 5-4 loss to the Rays in St. Petersburg, the Birds are now 35-80. Two more losses and they'll finish under .500 for the second straight year.

OK, this skit's not going anywhere. I'm sorry.

The Orioles on track to lose 110 games.

At 35-80, here are the numbers and possibilities from now until the season ends.

To finish with less than 100 losses (63-99), the O's have to go 28-19 over their final 47 games. There's ZERO chance of that happening.

The more you watch Tim Beckham, the more you know why the Rays were willing to unload him last season.

To finish with at least 50 wins, they have to go 15-32 over their final 47 games. I'd give that a 20% chance of happening.

To finish with at least 44 wins and avoid the Tigers awful 2003 mark of 43-119, the Birds have to go at least 9-38 over their final 47 games. I'd give that a 99% chance of happening.

They're terrible, yes, but the Orioles are going to win 9 games in their last 47 starts. I gave it a 99% chance of happening because, well, they're the Orioles. I didn't think they'd start the season 8-27 and they did. Anything's possible with this group of misfits.

Here are five things we've learned since the rebuilding began late last month.

Some of these things we already knew, actually, but the last couple of weeks of baseball have cemented them for us.

Now we know why Tampa Bay got rid of Tim Beckham last year for a box of balls and some Gatorade packets. He. Can't. Field. Seriously, Beckham is one of the worst defensive players the Orioles have ever had. If he's the starting shortstop next year, the O's are in trouble. Well, they're in trouble anyway. Never mind...

Caleb Joseph isn't the catcher of the future. That we know. But who is? Chance Sisco or Austin Wynns? I'm not sure of the answer, but I know Caleb Joseph shouldn't be behind the plate in 2019 and beyond.

Jonathan Villar looks useful. I'm not sure he'll replicate the offensive numbers of Jonathan Schoop (although Schoop's average was admittedly way down this season), but Villar has some benefits. He's' not great with the glove, granted, but he has speed to burn and there's a little bit of power there as well. So far, he looks decent.

Who's the closer? Does it really matter when you're winning 1.5 games a week? Probably not. But at some point, there needs to be an established closer. My guess is it will eventually wind up being Mychal Givens. Here's what we do know: It's not Miguel Castro.

I'm not sure what's perked up Trey Mancini, but the last two weeks look more like the guy we saw in 2018. In a season full of disappointments, if he plays like this through September and salvages his season, that will be one of the few bright spots in 2018.

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pga: woodland leads, fowler lurking


There's no sense in even creating a favorable story line for Rickie Fowler until three more days of golf have transpired.

But through round one, anyway, Fowler looks solid after a 65 on Friday that had him in the lead throughout most of the day until super-talented Gary Woodland rushed past him with some late birdies en route to a 64 and a one-shot lead at the PGA Championship.

Woodland, like Fowler, has never won a major title.

An opening round 65 has Rickie Fowler one-shot off the lead as he continues his search for that elusive major championship.

Zach Johnson is at 4-under, with other familiar names starting to jockey for position heading into the weekend. Jason Day, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson and Kevin Kisner are all at 3-under par and well within striking distance.

Tiger Woods started his day going bogey, double bogey, then changed golf shirts in a portable bathroom and wound up finishing at even par for the day. (Note to Nike: That first shirt...bad luck).

Bellerive played about the way most figured it would, yielding lots of birdies, as most players took advantage of the wet conditions from earlier in the week to take dead aim at several favorable pin locations. As the course dries out, things are going to get a little more difficult out there. Maybe even a lot more difficult.

The U.S. Ryder Cup team will be largely configured based off of this week's event. The man currently holding down the 8th and final spot on the team, Webb Simpson, is in good shape after round one at 2-under-par, but he'll still have to hold off the likes of Kisner, Bryson DeChambeau (+1) and Xander Schauffele (even).

Phil Mickelson is also on the outside of the top 8 and needs a strong finish at Bellerive to squeeze past Simpson as an automatic qualifier. Phil needs a big Friday push just to play the weekend, as he shot +3 on Thursday.

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Thursday
August 9
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mr. eyes: "jury is out on the receiving corps"


Our moonlighting Ravens reporter checked in yesterday with a few days of observations from Owings Mills.

We call him "Mr. Eyes" here at #DMD to protect his identity. Not that he's making a gazillion bucks from #DMD, but he's not sure how his boss would feel about the training camp double-dipping he's doing.

So, "Mr. Eyes" it is.

Last Sunday night, I asked him to come up with one thing that stands out to him from the practices with/against the L.A. Rams this week out in Owings Mills.

The summary came in early Wednesday evening.

"I'm not at all sold on the receiving corps," Mr. Eyes writes.

"It's a new group, yes. But just because they're new doesn't mean they're going to be a great fit," Mr. Eyes continues. "I don't see anything yet that tells me this collection of pass catchers is going to elevate the offense."

He provided a quick thumbnail sketch of the prominent names.

Michael Crabtree -- "He's the best of the group without question, but I wonder how much separation he'll get downfield. I think he'll be a favorite target of Flacco's anytime the team's inside the 20, but as for going one-on-one and beating a guy in the open field, I don't see much of that happening."

John Brown -- "I think he's physically challenged in that bigger, stronger cornerbacks are going to overwhelm him. I do like his hands, though. If he matches up with a cornerback who has his same slight build, he might be a contributor. But if he had to go up against a Jimmy Smith type every Sunday, he'd be in trouble."

The main piece of the Ravens' off-season wide receiver rebuild was former Oakland Raider Michael Crabtree.

Willie Snead -- "No separation skills and not much speed. He has a quick step off the line of scrimmage and really good hands. Look for him to be a favorite in the slot and a guy Joe looks for on 3rd and short situations. Like Brown, he looks slight and a little undersized."

Chris Moore -- "All I ever see him do is catch the ball. He's a fighter in the air and has really good balance in tight situations. That he stuck around after the wide receiver purge in the off season tells you the Ravens really like him."

Breshad Perriman -- "The only way he makes the team is by making some catches in the pre-season games. He did have a pretty decent day on Wednesday, but it's what he does in game action that counts now. The one thing working for him is that they've made an investment in him, both as a draft pick and with a roster bonus earlier in the summer. Still looks shaky with his hands and I'm not sure his route running has improved all that much."

Tim White -- "Love his speed, but still has a lot to learn. Not sure there's room for him."

Mark Andrews -- "I'm no football coach, but I've seen enough to tell you Andrews will not see much playing time if he doesn't at least learn the basics of blocking. In obvious passing situations the Ravens might throw him there as a short yardage option for Joe but there's no way they'll give him blocking responsibilities in their main sets.

Hayden Hurst -- "I won't compare him to the Gronkowski's and the Graham's of the world but there's something that looks special about this guy. Maybe he becomes a Greg Olson or Heath Miller clone, which would be quite a career for him. Isn't afraid to block or get engaged at the line of scrimmage and has really good hands. If the Ravens face an opponent with weak coverage linebackers, Hurst could be a 10-catch, 100 yard guy. I really like what he's doing out there."

Nick Boyle -- "If he's healthy, he's light years ahead of Mark Andrews from my vantage point. At least he knows the system. And he and Flacco seem to have a pretty good synergy with one another."

Maxx Williams -- "I haven't seen him do much. If the tight ends stay healthy throughout training camp, I think he's the odd guy out, especially if they decide to keep Darren Waller around."

Mr. Eyes sees the pass catching collection as a slight upgrade over what the Ravens had last year. But not much more than that.

"They're three weeks into training camp so it's really early to make a final ruling on the off-season additions," he says. "But so far, I see a decent group, but nothing that's going to petrify opposing defensive coordinators. I think it's very fair to say the jury is still out."

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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.


on college coaches…


Having bored you enough over the past year-and-a-half with stories from a career in college sports, here’s something I probably haven’t told you.

It was coaches that finally did me in.

I never got tired of watching 18-to-22-year-olds perform at a high level. I never lost enthusiasm for the accomplishments of those young adults. I cherish relationships I made with them, a few of which continue nearly 20 years later.

Their coaches? I don’t miss them at all.

I mean, I respect them, personally, like I try to respect anybody in life. Some of them are very accomplished in terms of wins and championships, and even influence in their sports, and I certainly recognize that.

I just got tired of them never being wrong.

I got tired of them having the power to act in certain ways that were definitely wrong, yet never having the guts to admit it.

I got tired of fighting about things involving “the program” when I had no chance of winning the argument.

And before you counter with “they’re the boss,” they weren’t MY boss. Yet they usually acted like it. The culture of college sports, and the cult of the coach, made it possible for them to be that way. They bossed around lots of people because they could.

More often than not, the college coach is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, at least about his or her team. Yes, there’s always the chance that he or she can get fired…only to be replaced by someone else who sees his or her role as omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. That part never changes.

Urban Meyer qualifies, doesn’t he? From a football standpoint, he’s about as all-knowing as you can get. His record in six seasons at Ohio State is 73-8. 73-8! I don’t care that four of those wins have come against Maryland.

He’s rich and famous. If he walked into the athletic director’s office and asked that the practice fields be resodded with Kentucky bluegrass instead of perennial ryegrass, I’d bet his demand would be taken very seriously and in short order.

Here’s what I want to know, though. Does he ever take anyone’s advice? Does he ever ask for it?

Does he ever let someone, besides one of his assistant coaches, suggest things to him? Does he at least give off the impression, no matter the reality, that his boss and/or bosses are in charge of him and that colleagues are able to give him useful feedback?

In Meyer’s current situation, it doesn’t seem like it.

Did he talk to somebody before he got himself in hot water a few weeks back? Even if he went through proper channels three years ago, is it possible that Meyer ignored smart advice to let Zach Smith go because he’s sure, as the head coach, that he always has the best interests of his program in mind?

In college athletics, what the head coach wants to do is supposed to be the right answer. What if it’s not?

Another interesting coaching story, thankfully on the field this time…

Word came out earlier this year that there was a groundswell of support among Division I men’s lacrosse coaches for the implementation of a standardized shot/possession clock, to be approved by coaches, then the rules committee and implemented for the 2019 season.

Recently, however, there’s been a push away from that outpouring of support. The biggest “pusher” is one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of the college game, John Danowski, the head coach at Duke and for the U.S. national team.

Danowski coached games this year under three sets of rules, and he came away from those experiences unsure about the clock, no matter what its length. What’s interesting, however, is how he couched that opinion.

“I just didn’t feel there was a lot of coaching going on with a shot clock,” he said. “I felt helpless on the sidelines at times, make that a lot of the time.”

Danowski is a coach. He made no mention of the clock in relation to the players, and whether it was better or worse for them or affected the quality of the game in a particularly positive or negative way. He didn’t speak to whether an “objective” clock was better than a “subjective” ruling by officials. Understandably, I guess, he didn’t talk about fan interest.

It made him question his role as a coach, is all.

There won’t be as much coaching, and coaching is what college sports is all about. That can’t be good.

There won’t be as much certainty on the sidelines, and coaches being able to control situations is what college sports is all about. That can’t be good.

That’s a college coach for you. And it’s striking to hear. The moment they fear a loss of control, the moment someone else might be right about something, they start to squirm a little bit.

They fear things being taken away from them, even if they’d be better off that way. They fear having a lack of power over certain situations, when in fact they’d be respected more.

Back to my life…I once worked with a newly-hired coach. Among his first duties was hiring assistant coaches, and he hired as his top assistant a former teammate, one of the best players in team history.

This was the new assistant’s first college coaching job, and a local journalist, one who interviewed him many times as a player, was interested in a story about how he ended up back in town. It was a great story, except the head coach wasn’t interested.

Only the head coach speaks for the program, he said. If he changed his mind in the future, he’d let me know. Otherwise, I was told to turn down all requests.

I tried to persuade him. I suggested it would be a one-time deal, because of the hire, and not a constant distraction. I explained how positive the hire was externally. I even told him that this wasn’t the best way to establish his own relationships as a new coach.

No dice. He was wrong, of course, but he was right, because he held the role of head coach, and chose to play it in a certain way that day.

The next year, when I was in a new job, I received a note in the mail from the head coach. He told me that he appreciated my work in support of the program, and that my contributions were missed.

I appreciated the note, of course. It certainly wasn’t something he had to do. As I took the note and put it inside a desk drawer, I definitely chuckled a bit though. Now that I was gone, he no longer had to pretend that he was always right.

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woods captures 15th major title


(ST. LOUIS, MO) -- Tiger Woods recovered from a double bogey on the 11th hole and birdied three of the last five holes to finish at 15-under par and win the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club on Sunday.

Woods' win, his first major title since the 2008 U.S. Open and 15th overall, was still in question until he holed a 5-foot par putt on the 18th hole. Ollie Schniederjans missed a 20-foot birdie putt a few minutes later on the same green that left him one shot behind Woods, who won for the first time on the PGA Tour since the 2013 season.

Luke List, Tommy Fleetwood and Branden Grace finished two shots behind Woods.

List owned a one-shot lead standing on the 16th tee, but a poor tee-shot led to a bogey at #16 and a 3-putt from 40-feet at the 17th hole dropped him into a tie with Woods.

Tiger Woods captured the 5th PGA Championship of his career on Sunday with one-shot win at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

Playing in the penultimate group, Woods made birdie at the 17th to take a one shot advantage on List and Schniederjans.

On the final hole, Woods had to scramble for a par. His tee shot found the right round and his approach shot nestled in heavy grass just off the green behind a bunker. He flopped his third shot neatly under the hole and then made the five-foot par putt to finish at 67 for the day and 15-under overall.

"I didn't know if this would happen again," Tiger said afterwards, his trademark red shirt drenched in sweat. "To come from where I was this time last year to standing in the winner's circle is a pretty sweet feeling."

3rd round leader Rickie Fowler fired a final round 77 and finished in a tie for 8th place. His two shot lead disappeared on the first hole when he badly misfired on an approach shot from the right side of the first fairway and went on to make double bogey.

"Someone yelled something in my downswing," Fowler stated in a brief post-round press conference. "I'm not sure exactly what was said...something like "George from DMD thinks you stink!" or something like that. I don't even know a George..."

Fowler's day turned out favorably, though, when he made birdie at the 18th hole to edge Phil Mickelson for the 8th and final spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

"That was a nice consolation," said Fowler of the Ryder Cup berth. "It's not always about winning, you know. Just for making the Ryder Cup team I get about two million bucks from my sponsors. That's a pretty good payday for finishing 8th."

Woods joked that he already knows what he'll serve at next year's PGA Champion's Dinner.

"A lot of non-believers out there got humbled today," Tiger told the media in the Bellerive Terrace. "I'll bring in a bunch of humble pies and serve it to everyone next year."

Glory
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Wednesday
August 8
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issue 8
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"but what about that other kid?"


Serving in my role with the Maryland Fellowship of Christian Athletes on Tuesday, a parent noticed my shirt with the Maryland FCA Golf logo and approached me behind the first tee at Eagle's Nest, site of this week's AJGA golf tournament.

"My son and daughter both love FCA," he said. It turns out their family lives in Virginia and the son is a modestly ranked junior golfer going into his junior year in high school.

We exchanged a few minutes of discussion about the role of FCA in their community and suddenly the conversation turned serious.

"We haven't been all that pleased with the golf coach over the last couple of years," the father remarked.

That comment got my attention. The discussion transitioned from FCA to coaching.

"Why is that?" I asked. Over the last few years, I've become increasingly interested in the relationship between coaches and parents, which can be among the most rewarding part of youth sports but, without question, also one of the most volatile.

I'm currently occupying just about every rung on that ladder, by the way. I'm a parent of a youth athlete (my son). I co-coach his fall soccer team. And I'm the head varsity golf coach at Calvert Hall in Baltimore.

And my role with Maryland FCA Golf is "coaching" and "ministry" stitched together, although I always note I have no formal seminary training whatsoever. I'm merely a church-going believer in the word of God who thinks coaching is the most important part of sports.

Back to the discussion with Robert, the golfing parent from Virginia.

"What's happening with the golf coach?" I asked.

"We just can't figure out why he plays certain kids over others," he replied.

"Is your son a regular in the lineup or does he not play every match?" I wondered.

"That's the thing," the dad explained. "He'll play in one or two matches, then sit out a match. He'll play the next one, then sit the next one out."

"How many kids are on the roster?" I asked. That's important information, obviously.

"Ten. Five play and the best four scores count," Robert said.

"Well," I reasoned. "I can't speak for the coach, but I can tell you probably the hardest thing about my coaching job at Calvert Hall is picking out the right lineup for every match."

In the MIAA, I explained to him, we play six players in each match. You're allowed to keep as many kids on the team as you want. I've had as many as thirteen and as few as ten in any given season over my six year tenure at Calvert Hall. I think ten is the perfect number, but even then, you're leaving out four kids every match.

I pulled a notebook out of my bag and quickly scribbed down eight names.

I handed the slip of paper to Robert. "Let's pretend you magically become the coach of this team...go ahead and pick the six players who are going to play in the match today," I said.

He looked at the list: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Brooks Koepka.

"You have to leave two players out of the lineup tomorrow," I explained. "Who are you leaving out?"

He pondered the list.

"This is tough," he replied.

"I'm leaving out Reed and Mickelson," he said after a minute or so of pondering.

I countered: "So, you're leaving out the guy who just won the Masters in April and the second most successful player in the world over the last twenty years."

"I don't want to leave them out," he said. "But you said I had to pick six and leave two out."

That was my "A ha! moment".

"You just said it," I explained. "You don't want to leave them out. But you had to pick six and leave two out. That's the way a golf coach thinks. That's probably the way your son's coach thinks too I bet. He doesn't want to leave anyone out, but the rules say he can't play everyone."

Golf is different than any other sport in that there aren't any in-game substitutes permitted. If he (or she) so chooses, a basketball coach can get everyone in the game. Same with a football coach, lacrosse coach, baseball coach, etc.

"But we also know the other kids on the team and we think our son is a better player," the father continued, going back to the original discussion we were having. "That's where we get frustrated. We know what he can shoot and we know what the others can shoot. It doesn't make sense sometimes."

"If you're looking for advice on that subject, I'm happy to give it to you," I said.

"Please do," the father replied.

"I think this is probably the single hardest thing for a sports-parent to do," I explained. "And I'm one of them, so I know it first-hand. You have to shut out what the rest of the kids are doing and focus only on the performance of your child."

This, I've found, has become perhaps the single biggest "issue" in youth sports. Parents want to "get with the coach for a minute after practice" and then the impromptu meeting becomes a discussion about other kids on the team.

That's a coaching no-no.

A coach shouldn't ever discuss playing time of another player with a parent.

If you're a youth coach of any sport reading this right now and you take nothing else out of today's edition of #DMD, that's the nugget of information that will serve you best.

"Let's just talk about your son (or daughter)", is the way you redirect the conversation to its proper path.

"We're not going to talk about other kids on the team. We'll talk about your son (or daughter) if you want."

I'm also a big believer, frankly, in not talking about playing time or playing "status" with anyone but the player himself. I realize that's hard with eight and ten year olds, but at the high school level, at least, the best conversations about playing time and status within the team are between the coach and player, not coach and parent.

I continued my discussion with Robert. "I know it's hard to do, but you have to abide by a philosophy that says you're only going to worry about your son and his play. If he isn't playing, it might very well be because the coach wants all ten players to get in and compete, which is a noble idea and one most coaches subscribe to as long as playing everyone doesn't jeopardize the team's ability to win the game."

"It's hard, though," Robert said. "Because we think (our son) is better than some of the kids who are playing ahead of him."

"Of course you do," I replied. "It's difficult for you to not see it that way. My guess is the parents of the other kids sometimes wonder why your son is playing ahead of their son."

With that, Robert's boy blistered a tee shot down the first fairway at Eagle's Nest.

I was impressed.

"If he hits it like that over the next couple of years, you'll be hearing from a lot of college coaches," I predicted.

"We already are," the dad said. "The first thing I ask them is how many other freshman will be coming in with him in 2020?"

"You're getting ahead of yourself," I reminded him. "Just pick the best school for his needs. That's the number one priority."

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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.



Seeing Ray Lewis go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was an incredible experience. Seeing it happen live from Canton, and getting to experience all of the events and pageantry surrounding the entire weekend made it all the more exciting. The people responsible for organizing the Hall of Fame weekend do a great, albeit not perfect job or orchestrating a weekend full of fun and unique opportunities to participate in a once in a lifetime weekend.

My wife and I purchased a four day weekend package directly through the Hall of Fame, so if you plan to go for Ed Reed's induction next year keep in mind that all of these events aren't necessarily available if you go through one of the local bus trips instead. Also, I'm sad to say, the top dollar packages were a tad out of my budget, but if you are lucky enough to be able to afford $2,500-3,000 per ticket, there are a lot more exclusive events available to you.

The weekend starts on Thursday, with the Hall of Fame game itself. Our package came with seats around the 20 yard line, in the second deck of a two-deck stadium. That sounds unimpressive, but given the size of the stadium they were still really good seats in terms of your view. The stadium itself is basically a very nice high school stadium that's lacking in concessions and restrooms, but it's fine for what it is. The game pretty much speaks for itself, and the "gameday experience" at the stadium is pretty basic but, again, that's to be expected.

Before the game however we were treated to a "VIP" tailgate party that vastly exceeded my expectations. Rather than the outdoor beer-and-hot dog fest I was expecting, we were inside a large (and air conditioned) tent with plenty of seating. There was indeed plenty of free beer, but there was also surprisingly high quality wine on offer and the food absolutely blew me away. Not only was it good, but rather than hot dogs and chips there were fresh deli salads, fruit and veggie platters, and everything ranging from sausages and chicken wings to (shockingly authentic) Maryland crab dip and (outstanding) beef tenderloin kabobs. It was genuinely all eat and drink as well, as they never ran out of anything as far as I know.

#DMD's Brien Jackson says the Hall of Fame "speech of the night" belonged to former Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer.

In another common theme for the weekend, the event also provided the opportunity for some really cool interactions with fans of other teams. Each of the inducted players' fanbases were well represented, as you would expect. If you're interested, my rough estimate of size, from largest to smallest, would be Eagles-Ravens-Bears-Vikings-Packers-Patriots-Oilers. Overall everyone was polite and pleasant, and eager to share old stories and just talk about football. Even the Steelers fans got along with everyone!

Friday was a pretty uneventful day, as the only official event was the gold jacket watch party. At least for our package that didn't really amount to much, as we just got another buffet style meal and open bar before we watched it on TV like everyone else. We spent the earlier portion of the day looking around the Hall of Fame itself. All of the packages come with free admission to the museum for the duration of your package (3 or 4 days), and the museum itself is a lot of fun. There's a good mix of historical information, cool artifacts, and interactive exhibits in addition to the busts, which are genuinely striking to see in person. Every package also comes with a $50 gift card for the official store, so in total we had $100 in "free" money that went a surprisingly long way.

Saturday's schedule was limited to the enshrinement ceremony itself, so we took the opportunity to make the roughly 50 minute drive up to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now I know that's not technically part of the Hall of Fame weekend and wasn't part of the actual package, but I'm including it anyway because it is awesome. In fact, if I have anything bad to say about the place it's that it had such a huge amount of cool stuff that it was virtually impossible to process it all as you walked through. What at first looks like a random NBC chair in the middle of an exhibit about television and rock and roll turns out to be the chair from the stage at Elvis' 1968 NBC special. A piano in the 1960's section turns out to be the piano Paul McCartney wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on. So definitely take the time to read the descriptions on the items and make sure you find every nook and cranny in the place, because it's so loaded that some incredibly cool items were just tucked away in seemingly random corners of rooms. If you're a big music fan, the place should definitely be on your bucket list.

The enshrinement ceremony itself didn't feature any perks you didn't get watching on NFL Network as far as I know, but I do think there was a unique perspective to seeing the speeches in person that I don't know came through on television (or maybe it was because I'd already seen the speeches before I saw them later). Robert Brazille and Randy Moss really didn't get much of a reaction, except for when Moss talked about his mom and his hometown. There was a broad consensus that expectations for Brian Urlacher's speech were very low, but his emotion and obvious discomfort speaking elicited the most tears of any of the speeches.

Brian Dawkins got a lot of strong reactions, but it was so unexpectedly raw that a lot of us were overwhelmed to a degree as well. The crowd got a lot smaller after Urlacher and Dawkins spoke as well, which actually surprised me.

Ray's speech was well received and didn't feel nearly as long as the 33 minutes it clocked in at officially.

But the biggest hit of the night, by far, was Jerry Kramer. Between his mix of pacing, humor, and genuinely interesting stories I don't think anyone in that stadium wouldn't have gladly listened to him talk for an hour or more that night.

Sunday's events weren't included on the 3 day packages, and perhaps because of that there was a noticeably larger share of Canton locals throughout the day. The morning started with a breakfast at the Hall itself, which we didn't end up making it to. After that was a luncheon and roundtable with the enshrinees, minus Dawkins and Urlacher, who had personal matters, and Beathard.

Now to sidetrack for a minute, this brings me to my one big complaint about the event: The parking situation was atrocious, and local authorities compounded that by doing a poor job of relaying information about parking and traffic patterns to people who presumable aren't at all familiar with the area. I'm not blaming them for not having more parking lots, and there's more than enough people around the stadium offering spots in their yards to accommodate everyone. But when the streets around the events are blocked off entirely, a sign here or there directing tourists where to go (even just what direction!) would go an awfully long way in reducing confusion.

This was especially pronounced during the luncheon, as it was held a couple of miles away from the Hall itself at the convention center. Again, the main road/entrance was completely blocked off, most of the crossroads were one way streets, the parking garage was off limits, and there were no signs or officers directing people where to go. In what was otherwise a very well run production, this really stood out for the entire weekend, and was a widespread complaint from attendees.

OK, one complaint aside, back to the luncheon. The event was a bit of a bait and switch, as what was implied to be a relatively intimate setting ended up moving into a full size auditorium with a few thousand people in it. The meal portion was held in a much smaller room, however, and was a bit more in line with what most of us seemed to be expecting beforehand. Package holders had prime seating, and we were lucky enough to be seated in the middle of the dais, two rows back. The enshrinees themselves came in after everyone was seated, providing a great opportunity for handshakes and high fives. Moss in particular seemed to make it a point to shake every hand that was offered, and had several 30-60 second conversations on his walk to the table. That portion of the event was very cool, again in no small part to being given a chance to interact with teams from other fans.

Our table also included an uncle-and-nephew from Philadelphia, a grandfather and grandson there for Jerry Kramer, who was the grandfather's favorite player of the Lombardi era, and a husband and wife pair of Lions' fans who came just because they wanted to see Hall of Fame weekend. The "discussion" portion of the event provided an opportunity to introduce local politicians and various board members, which was about as exciting as you would expect. And the actual roundtable itself was a bit of a letdown too, if only because of the venue.

The cap to the weekend came Sunday night with a concert by Maroon 5 and Lee Brice. Maroon 5 isn't exactly my thing, but the concert was fun all the same, and it was pretty impressive that you got the chance to see such a major act. Our package came with tickets on the field that had a face value of $145 to boot, so they were a pretty good deal all things considered. Like the Hall of Fame game, the concert also featured a VIP party beforehand with fantastic food and an open bar.

All in all, if you're a big football fan who appreciates the history of the game I can't recommend the HoF Experience package enough. The Hall does a great job of organizing unique and interesting events for you throughout the weekend, and they don't cut corners when it comes to providing quality food and facilities for your money either.

I might have nitpicked a couple of things, but they really do try to make it worth your money, and I personally left feeling like it was worth every penny. And again, we bought one of the lower cost packages, so if you can afford it there's a lot more on offer.

That said, if you are planning on (hopefully) going to see Ed Reed next year, there are some advantages to going with another travel package. Ours didn't include a hotel, for example, and we drove ourselves from Maryland to Canton. Additionally I know at least one of the group tours that we had friends on had a tailgate party Saturday evening that was attended by Michael McCrary, Tony Siragusa, and a few other former Ravens. They also stayed in Cleveland city and saw an Indians game Friday night.

The best way to go is really a matter of what you prefer to do. But however you get there, and whoever you get your ticket package through, if you're considering going to Canton to see Reed or just in general and you're wondering if it's really worth it, let me assure you that it absolutely is.

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and the pga winner is......


Today's edition of #DMD concludes our PGA Championship Top Ten list.

If I can duplicate the modest success I enjoyed at the British Open (four of the seven on my list finished in the top 10), I'll be quite thrilled. If my predicted winner comes out on top, it's free drinks and appetizers for everyone!

The list thus far:

#10, Matt Kuchar

#9, Charley Hoffman

#8, Bubba Watson

#7, Hideki Matsuyama

#6, Marc Leishman

#5, Tommy Fleetwood

#4, Webb Simpson

#3, Paul Casey

And now, we're down to the final two.

I can't stress enough how much I love the golf game of Tony Finau.

Can Jason Day capture his second career PGA Championship title this week in St. Louis? #DMD says he can -- and will.

He's #2 on my list.

His golf game is perfect for what the players are going to encounter at Bellerive this week (namely, soft, soft and more soft).

He hits it sky high off the tee, hits it a long, long way, and his fearless style and "shoot at the pins" mentality will bode well for him at the PGA.

He's had a terrific season and could be on the verge of a Ryder Cup captain's pick if he doesn't automatically qualify for the team on points.

It's his turn to shine. Don't be surprised in the least if you see him holding up the trophy on Sunday night. He'll be a top 20 player in the world in a year or two.

My predicted winner for the PGA is Jason Day.

Yes, he fought a balky driver in the final round of last week's event at Firestone CC. And that two-way miss won't bode well for him at Bellerive if it's still showing up two or three times a round.

But my guess, with three days to get it ironed out, is Day has already fixed what ailed him in that final round. If he's driving the ball well this week, there's no stopping him.

By the way, if you're thinking about making a legal wager or two and you're looking for some long-odds names to consider, I'll give you three to watch out for (all at 100-1 or better) in today's podcast. Just listen to "The Juice" (upper right side of the top page of #DMD) and I'll give you those three names today!

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Tuesday
August 7
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issue 7
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everything's an argument and it's hard to take


I got into an interesting exchange with a friend on Monday. He brought up Ray Lewis and his induction into the Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The friend, as you'll probably figure out, isn't from Baltimore.

"You all love you some Ray Lewis, don't you?" he asked.

Before I could answer in the affirmative, he threw the dagger.

"I love how everyone conveniently forgets he was involved in a murder," the friend continued.

I'd had enough.

"I don't think there's anyone, anywhere in Baltimore, who sweeps what happened in Atlanta under the rug," I said. "That's just a dumb thing to say."

"But there are people, and I'm one of them, for sure, who are also bored with that 'Ray stabbed two people and got away with it' narrative," I explained.

We went back and forth for a minute or two before things simmered down.

Pittsburgh football fans will someday have to deal with weeks of chiding and chirping from the rest of the country when Big Ben goes into the Hall of Fame.

It dawned on me later that with Ray's induction into the Hall of Fame, discussions like the one I had are probably going away. Ray won't be topical anymore.

But the folks in Pittsburgh are going to have their day in the sun when Ben Roethlisberger goes in the Hall of Fame and they'll have to hear "rapist" accusations in the same way Lewis put up with chirping about his involvement in a double homicide in Atlanta in 2000.

It's what we do these days in our country.

Everything's an argument.

If you're on that side, you can't be on this side.

You like the President? You're a racist and a bigot.

You don't like the President? You're a liberal snowflake.

There's no in between.

The same thing goes in sports.

You like Ray Lewis? You support a murderer, you know that?

You like A-Rod? You support a steroid user.

You like Tiger Woods? You support a lousy human being.

You like Urban Meyer? You support a man who overlooked domestic violence.

You like Tom Brady? You support an entitled, rich fair haired boy.

LeBron James is probably the most scrutinized and critiqued athlete of the last decade. He's never really done anything worthy of true criticism, so folks spend countless hours drumming up reasons to take a swipe at him.

I'm of the opinion social media has ramped up all of this stuff.

In the old days, circa 1995, we watched the TV, listened to the radio, read the newspaper and digested information about sports.

Once the internet rolled around and we figured out how to use it, we digested the information and then vomited out whatever came to mind.

These days, we're doing a lot of vomiting.

It's hard to sift through it all just to extract a nugget or two worthy of consideration. I don't know about you, but I'm so tired of going to Facebook or Twitter and reading "hate". It's old, man.

Maybe we experienced a lot of it in Baltimore this past weekend because of Ray's ceremony, but all I read and heard for three days was hate.

Pittsburgh folks will feel the same thing when Roethlisberger gets in.

Heck, let's be honest, we're no different in Baltimore when it comes to that stuff. Folks in Charm City will be at the head of the class launching into their "rapist" chants.

We can't help ourselves.

Editor's note: I should say here, so it's clear, that I won't be one of those people. The only consideration I give to Roethlisberger -- or any athlete -- is what he or she did on the field. Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback who (had) a great career. That's how I'll look at him.

But there will be someone out there, like there was this past weekend when Ray entered the Hall, who will write a lengthy piece on the day Big Ben gets into Canton that details his involvement in a sexual assault case and tears him down.

You can make book on that.

If you want to beat up on the Yankees for falling nine games behind the Red Sox and getting swept in four games at Fenway, have at it. That's sports. The games are why we're there in the first place.

If you want to snicker at the Patriots for losing to Nick Foles in the Super Bowl, step right up.

But please stop pointing out that so-and-so is a bad guy because he didn't sign a few autographs before last night's game.

And please don't tell me I can't cheer for Ohio State football (which, I don't, but you know what I mean) or Penn State football because of incidents that have nothing at all to do with me.

I just want to watch the games and marvel at how special these athletes are in their varying occupations.

This is not meant to say that we can't criticize athletes, coaches, schools, etc. That can go, still, and must go on, actually. There's an accountability factor in all walks of life that has to be factored in.

If the Ravens or Orioles do something worthy of evaluation and it leads to criticism, so be it. The same for players.

But it sure would be nice to see a little more balance. Well, a lot more balance, if we're calling it like it is.

Frankly, I'd almost rather not know who took a knee before the game, or who wouldn't give their teammate a pat on the back after a key strikeout, or who got in his coach's face, or who got caught drinking and driving.

I just want to watch sports the way I used to watch it.

Maybe that's impossible. It probably is, I suppose.

But I'm trying to figure out a way do it, even if I'm the only one.

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drew's top 10 -- pga championship preview


The final major of the golf season (already?) takes place this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Because this is a Ryder Cup year, the event takes on enormous importance for a large number of players, both those competing for a spot on the U.S. team and the European side.

The PGA Championship has always been the "odd duck" of the group, but that could change next year when the tournament shifts to a May position in the calendar, leaving the British Open as the final major of the season.

The PGA is known for its ability to deliver one-off winners and guys that otherwise might not have been considered worthwhile major champion candidates.

Jeff Sluman, Wayne Grady, Mark Brooks, David Toms, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang. There's a handful of names you might -- or might not -- remember as major winners at the PGA.

For some reason...the event lends itself to players of that nature.

With the Ryder Cup looming, can Paul Casey secure his spot on the European team with a win at the PGA this week?

So, we'll follow form in our "Top 10" list and go with a player or three who fit that "odd" bill. They won't be completely off-the-radar screen, like Ben Curtis was when he won the British in 2003. You'll know their names. But you might think, "Really? They're going to win a major?"

And the PGA is also the tournament where a guy who was always destined to win at least one wins one. It's happened in each of the last three years, remarkably, starting with Jason Day in 2016, continuing with Jimmy Walker the following year, and then last August, Justin Thomas jumped into the winner's circle. All three of those guys have "major champion talent". There's an argument all three will win more than one major, even.

We started off with #10 (Matt Kuchar) and #9 (Charley Hoffman) on Saturday, August 4.

On Sunday, August 5, it was Bubba Watson (#8) and Hideki Matsuyama (#7).

Marc Leishman was #6 yesterday, followed by red-hot Tommy Fleetwood at #5.

These next two both have a legitimate shot at winning. I'll be putting down a buck or two on each of them, in fact.

Webb Simpson needs to finish ahead of Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson at the PGA to secure the 8th and final spot on the Ryder Cup team. I think Simpson has a great chance to win, actually.

Since winning The Player's back in May, all Simpson has done is play good golf. He's made 17 of 20 cuts, with six top 10 finishes along the way.

Nothing about his game stands out and his statistics aren't all that great. He doesn't drive it very far, doesn't putt particularly well, and doesn't rank high in birdies-per-round.

But he's seemingly always hovering around the leaderboard.

There's an old saying about golf that fits Simpson perfectly. "It's not a game of pictures, it's a game of numbers."

Simpson's numbers always look good at the end of the round.

I really like his chances this week at Bellerive.

I keep thinking Paul Casey is going to win a major at some point, but he's yet to do so.

This might be the week.

He's had a terrific year thus far, with a win, a second place finish and some pretty impressive statistical data to back up his good play.

The only thing he hasn't done well throughout his career is put tournaments away down the stretch.

Some would say that's a "learned art". If that's the case, Casey is ready to start painting.

He has the length to handle the difficult holes and the short game required to wedge his way around the short ones. Can he close the deal if given the opportunity on Sunday.

We might just find that out, actually.

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Monday
August 6
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issue 6
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looking for closure


If you're in a rush, this is probably not the time to settle in.

This won't be a "quick read".

Truth of the matter, I'm trying to write shorter pieces these days, not longer ones.

Web data that reaches me on an almost daily basis keeps stressing the same thing: make it brief, make your point, make it worth the reader's time.

I'm trying to do that, but for today, I'm skipping the "brief" part. Hopefully I'll make a point or two and make it worth your time.

You'll see below in David Rosenfeld's outstanding contribution that he references the Robert Klemko story from this past Saturday, which was curiously launched on the same day that Ray Lewis was to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Rather than have me go into a detailed explanation of Klemko's story, which might leave out a critical point or two, I'll just put it here and you can read it if you want.

On the whole, I think the piece was very fair, although -- as I noted above with the word "curiously" -- I'm skeptical about the delivery date and why it came on August 4, 2018.

But let me repeat again: I thought Klemko's story was fair.

Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN.com also produced a Ray Lewis-themed contribution on Saturday, although -- and I could be wrong here, but I've triple checked this -- it didn't actually show up on ESPN.com. It appears to have just been something Van Valkenburg decided to write on his own and publish via his Twitter account.

You can read what Kevin had to say here.

Full disclosure, just so you don't think I have any sort of personal disfavor with with either of them: I know both of those guys, although I know Van Valkenburg far more than Klemko.

Klemko would remember me as a guy who dabbed some deer antler spray under my tongue -- along with him and Glenn Clark -- while we were doing Super Bowl radio in New Orleans back in 2013. Klemko and I stood next to one another at an impromptu press conference held by a raving lunatic who claimed to have provided Ray Lewis with deer antler spray, then I invited the writer over to do some radio with Glenn and I. It was at that point we all decided to try the stuff for ourselves to see if we felt anything at all. We didn't, naturally.

I interviewed Klemko a few times while I was on the air. He was always a good guest. I've enjoyed his work over the years and have always found Klemko to be an excellent writer.

My relationship with Van Valkenburg is much different. I've interacted with Kevin on a number of occasions over the years and back in March, he and I shared a 15-minute conversation at a local golf course, talking about our respective games and what the future might hold for Tiger Woods, among other things.

I think Kevin is one of the best sports writers in the country.

So that's my as open-as-I-can-be explanation of my relationship -- if that's the right word -- with those two guys. I'm very fond of them professionally and have had favorable discourse with them on occasion.

Ray Lewis, as both of those writers noted on Saturday, is an extraordinarily interesting, complex and complicated person. News flash: You could probably say the same thing about all of us, too. I'm sure if you sat down with me for a day or two, you might come away thinking I'm "interesting", "complex" and "complicated" as well. And I might find the same things out about you.

Ed Reed is going in the Hall of Fame next year. If you think Ray is "odd", Reed makes him look like amateur night. Ray could change personalities in a day. Reed could change personalities in four minutes.

As I read Klemko and Van Valkenburg on Saturday, I wondered three things.

The first is the most obvious: Why today? Klemko's piece dealt with a five year old "grievance" of his, mainly against the Ravens PR staff, but also by-connection with Lewis. Why would Klemko and his employer wait until the day Ray Lewis was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame to launch their story?

Is it as simple as: "That's when the story gets the most attention"? Maybe. If the answer is "clicks, clicks and more clicks", than fair enough. But a media placement expert would say "Saturday at 2 pm" is a terrible time to release any kind of important story.

Or was it intended to derail Ray's big night? Cause a disruption for him and his family and the throng of supporters who were in Canton to celebrate the occasion?

Van Valkenburg apparently published his story after Klemko's since he references the SI.com piece in his work. Why, too, did Van Valkenburg wait until Saturday, August 4 to publish his work?

I'll say it once again: If the answer is "clicks", then so be it. That's the world we live in these days. Clicks, ratings, viewers, listeners...

If the answer was something more devious than that, well, that would be a shame.

The root of contention with Lewis, from both writers, seems to be a general distrust of him.

Van Valkenburg went as far as to call Ray "full of s--t" in his published thoughts on Saturday.

Both men -- and lots and lots and lots of other people -- seem to believe Ray is, well, mostly unbelievable. No one can love God that much. No one can love their mother that much. No one can love people that much. No one can want everything to be perfect that much.

Ray Lewis sees the world differently than a lot of folks. I think that's pretty obvious.

But the overall root of the work produced by Klemko and Van Valkenburg seems to be a general lack of trust in Ray Lewis. In Klemko's case, specifically, he ties a lot of it into what happened in Atlanta and wonders why Ray hasn't ever come clean.

From that moment on, it appears as if nothing else Lewis has done is worth trusting either. That's how it comes across to a reader -- or at least this one.

The second thing I wondered about was what, exactly, Klemko expected Ray to tell him on that day in 2013 when the writer saddled up next to the middle linebacker and wanted to talk with him about "something serious".

I'll stop right here for a second and comment on something else in Klemko's piece that I thought was interesting.

Why wouldn't he have named the two Ravens staffers who essentially chased him out of the locker room after they found out he was asking Lewis about the Atlanta incident?

I'm not suggesting that scene didn't happen, by the way. I'm quite certain it did. I'm sure it happened just the way Klemko portrayed it, too.

But why not name the two staffers? Or wasn't that important enough to make the story?

Or, could it be, that the relationship between the Ravens and a national publication is critical enough to the folks at SI.com that they'll bash Ray Lewis since he can't help them anymore...but they'd rather not name two employees of the football team who still, even today, might be able to lend them professional assistance?

Now, back to the issue about what Klemko expected from Ray Lewis.

The trial connected to the Atlanta incident is public record. The testimony about Ray's involvement is also public record.

Did Klemko and SI.com really think Ray Lewis was going to make any sort of public statement about what happened in Atlanta in 2000? You can ask the question, of course. And it's important to note that Klemko had every right to ask Lewis about it.

But the public record and the public testimony are there for a reason. They are the documents that are in place to help an interested party navigate their way through the events that led to the trial in the first place.

And let's be honest about something. Everyone has an opinion about Ray's role on that night in Atlanta. If you lined up 100 NFL fans and asked them about it, they all have an opinion.

Nothing Ray Lewis could have said to Robert Klemko would have changed anyone's opinion. Nothing...

So SI.com was basically hoping Ray would say something "new" -- 13 years later -- just so they'd have a fresh story to roll out. If Ray didn't speak, he gets beat up for dodging the question. If Ray does speak, SI.com gets a bunch of clicks and no one around the country changes their opinion of Lewis, anyway.

Talk about complex and complicated.

If Ray says, "I'm sorry those two young men lost their lives that night," that still doesn't address his role in the episode.

If Ray says, "I was in a scrum of people who were fighting, there was blood on my clothes, I panicked, and tried to change the appearance of what I knew or what I was involved in," the folks who think Ray actually stabbed someone are still going to think Ray stabbed someone.

And, by the way, that's just about exactly what the testimony shows. Lewis wasn't involved in the act of stabbing either of the two victims, but he was clearly at the scene and tried to hide or shield his association by getting rid of the clothes he was wearing that night.

Lewis did once comment to The Baltimore Sun -- back in 2010 -- about the whole ordeal.

"I'm telling you, no day leaves this Earth without me asking God to ease the pain of anybody who was affected by that whole ordeal." Lewis said. "He's a God who tests people — not that he put me in that situation, because he didn't make me go nowhere. I put myself in that situation."

So, again, what could Lewis have said to Klemko -- or any reporter -- that was any different than the testimony from the trial or the quote he provided to the newspaper in 2010?

But let's not forget one of the main pieces in the story, because it can't be overlooked.

If SI.com's main point of contention in this past Saturday's story was that their writer was essentially kicked out of the locker room in 2013 and told not to come back, I can see -- without question -- why that would be worthy of a story.

But why wait five years to tell everyone about it?

Why sit on that story for five years and then flip it to the public on the night Ray Lewis is going in the Hall of Fame?

If you want to write a piece about Ray Lewis and his wildly "interesting" view of the world around him, go right ahead. A lot of people make fun of Lewis for how much he talks about God, and numbers and his mother, and "The U". There's enough material there to fill up a book.

And you can launch that story on the day he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. No problem there.

But a five year old story sat simmering on the back burner for no apparent reason and then, suddenly, was re-discovered just in time for an August 4th publish date?

"Hatchet job" is a well-known media term for a story that's put out with the direct intent of cutting someone down. You wouldn't be far off base if you thought about the SI.com story from Saturday in those terms, at the very least. It appears SI.com had an axe to grind with Lewis AND the Ravens and waited until August 4th to do the deed.

Maybe I'm wrong there. Maybe it was just timing. But it looks conveniently intentional, let's just say.

The last of the three things I wondered on Saturday when I read Klemko's piece was the note he included about "unwritten rules" in the world of sports media.

If they're "unwritten", how do we know what they are?

And who is the judge in all of it?

I probably had a half dozen at-his-locker conversations with Ray Lewis when I was on the radio. None of them were anything other than what I would have considered "casual". I certainly never asked him anything remotely "sensitive", although once he had an open Bible in front of him and I playfully said, "What's good in there, Ray?" and looked up, gleam in his eye, and said, "Everything's good in there, my man."

I don't know if I violated an unwritten rule. I didn't even know what they were back then. But if the rule was "you can't approach Ray at his locker", I definitely blundered there.

My guess? You can't approach Ray at his locker and ask him about Atlanta. That was the unwritten rule.

I once asked Ray if he had seen a Miami football game from the weekend before. I can't imagine that would have been scrutinized by Ravens PR and I doubt I would have been chased out of the locker room for asking him a question like that.

The relationship between the team and the media is filled with tension. I think Van Valkenburg referenced as much in his piece from Saturday. Yet, there are plenty of local media members who have flown (and still might, I honestly don't know any more since I'm not that involved) on the team plane to regular season and playoff games.

How is that possible, you ask?

Well, if you broadcast the games on radio or TV, you're allowed on the team flight.

It's all part of the "media partner" agreement.

You can be a TV sportscaster by day and the Ravens public address announcer on Sunday and fly with the team wherever they go.

If you air the team's official post-game show on your all sports cable network, you travel with the team.

I don't have a copy of the unwritten rules, but it seems like "media shouldn't be traveling with the team" would be on the list.

By the way, that might be an accepted practice with every franchise in the NFL, not just the Ravens. I have no idea. It just always seemed peculiar to me that the very people sniffing around for stories during the week are then allowed on the team plane when it leaves on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm.

I bring up the unwritten rules subject because I wonder what rules are in place for asking a guy about an incident he was involved in 13 years ago?

What rules apply to a person who testified in a trial, under oath, but is still haunted by what he didn't say?

Or what rules are in place for holding a story for five years?

Are there any rules for criticizing a man's faith and devotion to God?

I don't know.

I can't find the rules anywhere.

But I know when it comes to Ray Lewis, the rules are different.

Some of that is on him, by the way. As much as I respect Lewis as a football player -- which, frankly, is pretty much all I care about -- I can also acknowledge he's an easy target.

Maybe, in the end, that's why everyone followed his every move.

There was always something to write about when Ray was around.

Perhaps now he'll drift off into relative obscurity and find the peace and closure he wants.

Whether he deserves it or not is up for scrutiny, like everything else about Ray Lewis.

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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.


media edition

Who?

Robert Klemko

Klemko is an ace reporter and writer for the MMQB website at Sports Illustrated, and he wrote a piece that posted Saturday that dealt with something utterly predictable, considering this year’s Hall of Fame inductions: Ray Lewis, and the deaths of two men in Atlanta 18 years ago.

The only “new” thing was how Klemko framed the story within his own experience, specifically how he was treated by both the Ravens P.R. staff and by Lewis in 2013.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve never liked what Lewis has said, or not said, about all this, particularly as it relates to his own personal growth.

So, when Klemko approached Lewis in 2013 and asked him about it, there was nothing surprising about the linebacker’s “no comment” answer. Nor was there anything surprising about Lewis’s next move, which was basically to tell Klemko he was praying for him. That’s what Lewis does.

As for the responses of the media relations staff, which included a finger in the face and basically threatening the reporter that he’d never be allowed in the locker room again if he pulled some “bull**** like that?”

Again, par for the course.

The working modus operandi of people like Chad Steele and Kevin Byrne of the Ravens is that the media is out to get the players…in Klemko’s words, “predatory.” When the subject was Ray Lewis, that attitude increased exponentially.

No matter how many times a reporter says that he’s simply offering someone a chance to comment, an NFL P.R. person will never believe that. NFL players are adults, and perfectly capable of speaking about whatever they’re willing to speak about, yet no NFL P.R. person will every fully trust a player to do that.

So, the Ravens sheltered Ray Lewis? Not really that newsworthy.


What?

Taking the heat

In the course of his piece, Klemko also brought up the danger of asking a “controversial” question in a group interview setting, potentially ruining the jobs of other reporters who happen to be there. This happened a little more than a week ago, when someone made the “mistake” of asking Tom Brady about Julian Edelman, and his PED suspension possibly being linked to Alex Guerrero, a trainer that works with Edelman, Brady and a few others.

Let’s just say Brady didn’t appreciate the question. Like his fellow Boston athletes in Fenway Park seem to do several times a week, he walked off.

Tom Brady just celebrated his 41st birthday on Friday. He is the oldest non-kicker in the NFL. And yet, doing what he did is about the most immature thing a person can possibly do.

Even if there’s not a lot there, a “nothingburger,” as seems to be the vernacular these days, the person asking the question is much more mature than the man running away from it, no matter what Brady thinks of the subject.

I’ve always thought that one of the biggest problems in the modern relationship between media and players is that players are incapable of thinking like the media.

Knowing that Edelman was suspended, and knowing that he also works with Guerrero, Brady should have expected that exact question. He should have prepared, at least in his head, some kind of stock answer. At 41, and owing to the fact that he’s the greatest quarterback winner of all time, Brady operates on a plane all his own. In his mind, he’s never wrong.

Edelman will be suspended for the first four games of the season; those games for New England will come against Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit and Miami.


Where?

Columbus

Here’s the best part of the media aspect of the story involving Urban Meyer, Zach Smith and Smith’s ex-wife Courtney.

ESPN essentially paid Brett McMurphy to report and write the story somewhere else besides ESPN.

McMurphy was one of the network’s layoffs in its first purge of employees, back in April 2017. Like many of those who were let go, he had a contract that extended well past that date, and ESPN is still paying him until the end of it.

So McMurphy reported the story, and published a lengthy piece on his own Facebook page. It’s not like he was working for another media outlet; he was working for himself.

ESPN was scooped by a guy that no longer works for them, whom they still pay, and then whom they have to grovel to for an interview hours after his piece went live.

McMurphy checked with his lawyers, who told him that as long he didn’t violate his “non-compete” clause during the remainder of his ESPN contract, he was golden. Good for him. Finally, someone using Facebook for something good.

Wouldn’t the network have been better off if they hadn’t let him go?

Anyway, as Drew noted this weekend, the other media aspect to this story has to do with Meyer himself, and his statements at B1G Media Days concerning the Smith situation.

The latest from Meyer is that he “failed” during those interviews. His “intention was not to say anything inaccurate or misleading,” but that he “was not adequately prepared to discuss these sensitive personnel issues with the media.”

Huh?

What was Meyer’s intention, then? To hope the whole thing would just go away by pretending it didn’t exist. That’s even less mature than Tom Brady.


When?

Five times

In 2005 and 2006 in Philadelphia, and in 2010, 2011 and 2014 here in Baltimore, I was given the honor of being the press conference moderator for the NCAA lacrosse championship weekend.

It’s a volunteer thing, in case you’re wondering. However, there are perks. Like, I had a fifth grader at Gilman come up to me one day late in the school year and ask me if I was the same guy that was up on the JumboTron at M&T Bank Stadium between games.

Anyway…

Lacrosse is not the NFL, or even FBS football, but it’s a pretty big group that descends upon the stadium for the event. There’s only so much time for interviews, and I always tried to get to as many people as I could, given the limitations.

What you realize, and what any good reporter realizes after a few events like it, is that the stories are not in the press conferences.

They’re in the side conversations out in the hallway or in the locker room. They’re in the relationships established over months and years. They’re often with the guys and girls who never show up in the interview room because they’re not the “stars.”

Among all the things that stink about the current relationship between sports media and athletes, the fact that those kinds of conversations are happening less and less is high on the list.

The teams, of course, have created their own media empires, and have their own media partners. Those types of stories now come as in-house P.R. pieces, not externally. Why expect someone else to do it, and take the risk that it won’t be what you want, when you can craft it yourself?


Why?

On and off the field

“What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room.”

Sure, it’s a mantra that’s been repeated by every team for generations, and I totally understand it. So does the media, by the way. They know they’ll never be told everything they’d like to know, and they usually understand why.

There’s a difference, however, between what happens on the field and what happens off the field, isn’t there?

When the Ravens lose a game, and the media outside the locker room hears lots of yapping, and then gets nothing from guys when they ask questions, it makes more sense. Forceful suggestions to players, by coaches and teammates, happen every day in football. There is something to the idea that the occasional screaming match is cathartic.

When the subject turns elsewhere besides football, however, it’s a lot harder for coaches and players. It’s no longer a “team thing,” and nobody knows the right things to say or not say. So those coaches and players simply revert to what they know. What happens to our team stays with our team, for better or worse.

The biggest problem, of course, is that news of off-the-field issues often comes from outside the team. A player or coach gets arrested, or maybe somebody is seen at a place where they are trying not to be seen. If something comes from outside, how can you really keep it inside? It’s too late for that.

I suppose that there’s something sad for today’s coaches in that the team is no longer sacred, no matter how hard they try to keep it that way. Knowing the truth, however, is sometimes more important than the team.

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drew's top 10 -- pga championship preview


The final major of the golf season (already?) takes place this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Because this is a Ryder Cup year, the event takes on enormous importance for a large number of players, both those competing for a spot on the U.S. team and the European side.

The PGA Championship has always been the "odd duck" of the group, but that could change next year when the tournament shifts to a May position in the calendar, leaving the British Open as the final major of the season.

The PGA is known for its ability to deliver one-off winners and guys that otherwise might not have been considered worthwhile major champion candidates.

Jeff Sluman, Wayne Grady, Mark Brooks, David Toms, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang. There's a handful of names you might -- or might not -- remember as major winners at the PGA.

For some reason...the event lends itself to players of that nature.

Is this week Marc Leishman's time to shine and finally win that first major title of his career?

So, we'll follow form in our "Top 10" list and go with a player or three who fit that "odd" bill. They won't be completely off-the-radar screen, like Ben Curtis was when he won the British in 2003. You'll know their names. But you might think, "Really? They're going to win a major?"

And the PGA is also the tournament where a guy who was always destined to win at least one wins one. It's happened in each of the last three years, remarkably, starting with Jason Day in 2016, continuing with Jimmy Walker the following year, and then last August, Justin Thomas jumped into the winner's circle. All three of those guys have "major champion talent". There's an argument all three will win more than one major, even.

We started off with #10 (Matt Kuchar) and #9 (Charley Hoffman) on Saturday, August 4.

Yesterday, it was Bubba Watson (#8) and Hideki Matsuyama (#8).

Marc Leishman of Australia is precisely the type of player who might very well win at Bellerive this week. He seems like he's on the cusp of a major career breakthrough, for starters, and his tee-to-green game is as good as anyone on TOUR.

All he needs is to win one major and others might follow. I love his golf game and chances this week.

The same can be said for Tommy Fleetwood, although he's just now starting to make a name for himself on TOUR. Fleetwood has made the cut in all three majors this year and barely missed out on a playoff in the U.S. Open after shooting a final 63 to finish one shot behind Brooks Koepka.

Fleetwood can do it all. He's a sublime driver of the ball, hits it close on half the greens, it seems, and his work with the putter is outstanding. He's not Luke Donald. You're going to hear from Fleetwood for a long, long time.

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Sunday
August 5
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issue 5
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vintage ray lewis


One thing you can never accuse Ray Lewis of is being unoriginal.

In a style only he could maintain for 33 minutes, Lewis took everyone on a wild ride during his Hall of Fame speech last night, covering a wide variety of topics that occasionally even had something to do with his NFL career.

It was, as expected, vintage Ray Lewis.

I loved it, personally.

But, like everything else in life that we see, touch, feel and experience, it probably wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

I'm not a fan of The Beatles, for instance. We all have our funny little quirks, right?

So, even if Ray's induction speech didn't hit home, you certainly can't question his passion. Every man who stood up at the podium last night in Canton, Ohio showed an extraordinary amount of devotion to their journey, but none of them delivered it with the flair and power that Ray did.

It was, like most Ray Lewis speeches, choppy, entertaining and, mostly, just here, there and everywhere.

But it wasn't unoriginal.

And Ray didn't need cue cards.

Like Owen Wilson asked Rachel McAdams to do during her wedding toast in Wedding Crashers, Ray's talk came from the heart.

Perhaps the best summary I saw on Twitter last night came from a Ravens fan who said, "I'm not sure I've ever personally disliked someone's act as much as I dislike Ray's, yet I love him for representing the place where I grew up and live today."

Being a fan of Ray Lewis (which, admittedly, I am) comes with a lot of built-in awareness.

You know he's going to talk about his mother a lot, which I admire greatly.

You know he's going to talk about God and religion a lot, and I admire that about him, as well.

You know he's going to talk about "having nothing growing up" and making the NFL against all odds and there's no way you can't be impressed with the path his life took once he reached high school and college.

You know he's going to bring up Super Bowl 47 and how he blew out his arm in the middle of the 2012 season and vowed to come back and play in the playoffs despite "no one ever coming back and playing with that injury in the same season". You can despise Ray Lewis if you so choose, but I'm sure even that moment in his career impresses you.

You can almost write the speech for him. That's how well we all know Ray Lewis.

But even when you know what's coming, you still stick around.

It's like watching Training Day again. You know the "King Kong" scene is coming up at the end, and you know all the words, but you watch it anyway.

Ray Lewis delivered as promised last night in Canton.

He marched around the stage with a headset mic, purple pants, purple tie and a sweaty, but beautiful mustard colored jacket that somehow actually created a favorable fashion ensemble.

He preached.

He yelled.

He laughed.

And he talked about loving his mother, the way a proud son should do.

If nothing else, it was memorable.

Just like his NFL career.

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a's, not o's, showing real life


Don't look now, but the Oakland A's are doing it again.

Quick, without the aid of the internet, name four players on the Oakland roster.

Right...you got Khris Davis just like I did.

Keep going.

Khris Davis is the only Oakland A's player making more than $10 million in 2018.

Well?

Right. There's Khris Davis and then a bunch of other guys.

But the A's, non-descript roster and all, are currently at 66-46, a couple of games up on Seattle in the chase for a wild card spot and just five games behind first place Houston in the A.L. West.

Yes, the A's.

While our Orioles toil through the worst season in franchise history (now 33-78 after last night's loss in Texas), Oakland looks poised to make some noise in the post-season, if they make it, of course.

And, ready for this? They have the lowest payroll in baseball (according to Spotrac).

The A's will spend just $67 million in payroll this season. The Orioles spent $67 million on Davis, Jones, Machado and Trumbo.

That's not a shot at the Orioles, by the way, but rather a moment of praise for the A's, who are contending in a difficult division by paying one player on the team (K. Davis) more than $10 million annually.

They say pitching wins championships.

Name the Oakland starting staff.

I know Sean Manaea. And that's it.

Maybe they fly under the radar screen just enough that no one takes them seriously. However they do it, about once every three or four years, the A's rise up from nowhere and have a memorable season.

Since it looks like the Orioles probably won't make the post-season this year (are they actually eliminated yet?), I might have to root for Oakland in September and, maybe, October.

The Red Sox are spending $234 million on players in 2018.

The A's are spending $67 million.

Boston has 78 wins to date. Oakland has 66.

And the Orioles, with their $143 million payroll, have exactly half of what Oakland has, wins wise: 33.

It's a crazy, crazy game.

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drew's top 10 -- pga championship preview


The final major of the golf season (already?) takes place this week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Because this is a Ryder Cup year, the event takes on enormous importance for a large number of players, both those competing for a spot on the U.S. team and the European side.

The PGA Championship has always been the "odd duck" of the group, but that could change next year when the tournament shifts to a May position in the calendar, leaving the British Open as the final major of the season.

The PGA is known for its ability to deliver one-off winners and guys that otherwise might not have been considered worthwhile major champion candidates.

Jeff Sluman, Wayne Grady, Mark Brooks, David Toms, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang. There's a handful of names you might -- or might not -- remember as major winners at the PGA.

For some reason...the event lends itself to players of that nature.

Ranked 5th in the world and with five PGA Tour titles, Hideki Matsuyama could finally break through with a major triumph in next week's PGA.

So, we'll follow form in our "Top 10" list and go with a player or three who fit that "odd" bill. They won't be completely off-the-radar screen, like Ben Curtis was when he won the British in 2003. You'll know their names. But you might think, "Really? They're going to win a major?"

And the PGA is also the tournament where a guy who was always destined to win at least one wins one. It's happened in each of the last three years, remarkably, starting with Jason Day in 2016, continuing with Jimmy Walker the following year, and then last August, Justin Thomas jumped into the winner's circle. All three of those guys have "major champion talent". There's an argument all three will win more than one major, even.

We started off with #10 (Matt Kuchar) and #9 (Charley Hoffman) yesterday, August 4.

Today, we'll get to #8 and #7 on the list.

I've said for a long time how much I respect the golf game of Bubba Watson. I know he's not the most well-liked guy on TOUR and despite public promises of "trying to do better", Watson remains one of golf's most mercurial personalities.

But that has nothing at all to do with his golfing prowess. He is, without question, a great player.

And with a handful of par 4's under 440 yards at Bellerive, Watson should be able to smash his way to a gazillion birdie chances this week. If his trademark wedge game is "on" and he makes a handful of putts, watch out for him come Sunday afternoon.

Bubba already has two Masters titles. I'd be really surprised if those are the only two majors he wins in his PGA Tour career. Number three just might come this week in St. Louis.

Hideki Matsuyama is just too good to not win a major. His shaky putter might preclude him from winning a bunch, but at some point he'll win one, I think. The PGA Championship makes a lot of sense for him.

Matsuyama, like Bubba, will be able to take advantage of Bellerive's short'ish course length to bomb his way around the par 4 holes, many of which he should be able to reach with a good tee ball and a wedge. And on the longer holes, his length will serve as a great advantage.

For Matsuyama, who has played well this week at Firestone CC, it always comes down to putting. Tee to green, he's as good as anyone in golf. Once on the putting surface, though, it's a bit of a coin flip.

Still, he's on my top ten list for next week and someone I'd throw a few bucks on to finally win that elusive first major title.

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Saturday
August 4
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issue 4
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life without ray: the ravens still haven't recovered


The journey of a sports media personality is an interesting one.

Part of your job is to say or write things that are supposed to stand the test of time.

You make predictions on the outcome of games. They'd better be right.

You make other guesses and proclamations that are there for everyone to evaluate.

Skip Bayless once famously tweeted that Johnny Manziel would eventually be a bigger star in Cleveland than LeBron James. That one.....didn't stand the test of time.

In my dozen years on the air, I made lots of predictions and proclamations. Some stuck. Some didn't.

But the one I remember the most is appropriate to bring up today, because it's the one I bulls-eyed like no other.

In the middle of the 2012 campaign, when Ray Lewis was sputtering along and looking more and more like a guy in the December of his career, talk show callers were having a feast on #52, lamenting about his regression, lack of speed and ineffective play.

I'd had enough.

Two Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame jacket. What a career!

"Let me tell you something," I said that morning. "And remember I told you this. You people will see just how important Ray Lewis is when he's gone. And I'm not talking about just on the field, either. I'm talking about everything. On the field, off the field...the entire organization will change when Ray is gone. It could take five years, maybe more, for the Ravens to recover from not having Ray Lewis around."

You hit on some. You miss some.

I hit that one. On the nose.

It's now 2018. Ray Lewis danced his last dance on Super Bowl Sunday when the Ravens beat the 49'ers back in February of 2013.

The Ravens, to this day, still haven't recovered from Ray's departure.

He meant that much to them.

They just didn't realize it.

Tonight, Ray gets inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. It's a richly deserved honor, of course. You can make an argument he'll stand there tonight in Canton, Ohio as the greatest defensive player the game has ever seen.

There's nothing I can write here in this space that will make you think more highly of Ray as a player, so I won't try.

I don't have to do anything, actually, except marvel at his career and the impact he had on the Ravens and the city of Baltimore.

I had a friend last week, unprovoked, offer this: "I still go to the games (he's a season ticket holder) but it's never been the same since Ray left. That's why I went, I think. The introductions, the hits on the field, the defensive stands. It was part of the package of Ravens football that got me hooked."

I didn't say it. He said it.

"It's never been the same since Ray left..."

I don't have a solution for it, either. Ray's not coming back, obviously, so the Ravens better figure out how to move on without him.

This is season number six without #52 in the huddle. In the last five years, the Ravens have made the post-season just once. If you don't think that's connected to Ray Lewis, somehow, than you probably haven't been following the Ravens much over the last two decades.

Tonight's not a night to worry about what lies ahead, though. Tonight's the night to bask in what was.

Ray Lewis made the Ravens organization.

Sure, Art Modell brought the franchise to Baltimore, but the sculptor was Ray Lewis.

The Ravens were his masterpiece.

And, yes, because some of you are wondering if I did it on purpose, I wrote something about Ray and his career and never once had to mention "Atlanta". Those events, nearly twenty years ago now, have nothing at all to do with Ray's legacy in Baltimore.

Ray's career in Baltimore is defined by two things: His greatness on the field and the team's success. Those two go hand in hand.

And as the Ravens have learned -- just like I predicted -- they're not easily replaced.

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this one is tough "for the family"


The locker room wasn't yet open to the media, yet a dozen of us stood outside, waiting for a Ravens PR rep to either chase away or open the door.

The Ravens had just lost to the Redskins, 31-28, in overtime. The date was December 9, 2012.

While we waited in the hallway, a series of loud, verbal "exchanges" took place in the Baltimore locker room. The loss was a bitter one for the Ravens, who gave up a last minute touchdown and two point conversion in regulation to send the game to sudden death.

Tensions were high. The defeat dropped Baltimore's record to 9-4.

Inside the locker room, players barked at one another. It was loud. And ugly. "Your sorry ass couldn't even play half the time at Auburn!" one veteran player screamed, presumably -- we figured -- at linebacker Josh Bynes.

The media assembled outside of the locker room shuffled around in discomfort. We typically wouldn't be this close to the locker room just after the team got in there.

The shouting continued for several minutes. It sounded bad. Really bad.

Finally, things quieted down. The door opened. No one wanted to be the first person in.

Ohio State's Urban Meyer is currently on administrative leave while school officials investigate his role in a domestic violence incident involving a former assistant coach.

As media reps from the team went around to help facilitate the post-game interviews, it was obvious that someone would have to ask a veteran player about the post-game atmosphere in the locker room.

Lots of players were asked about it.

No one answered.

No one, even, was willing to address what had transpired.

"We're tight in here," I remember Jameel McClain saying. "Ain't nothin' happened other than some guys expressing their frustration at losing a game we should have won."

Others were pressed. Corey Graham...nothing. Haloti Ngata...nothing. Ed Reed...nothing.

Josh Bynes wasn't around.

It was clear what had happened. This "incident" was going to be kept in house. "In the family", so to speak.

And that has long been the concept -- flawed in a lot of ways, understandable in others -- of how teams with conflict handle their internal issues.

"What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room."

You can like that or not, but it's the pledge most players agree to when they put on a uniform, no matter the sport.

In no way do I approve of domestic violence.

But if you're surprised by the recent turn of events at Ohio State, you're naive to the ways of the sports world.

You can believe Urban Meyer or not. That's your call.

At the very least, Meyer is clearly guilty of not being forthcoming with the media back in July. It was then that he said, point blank, that he had no idea his assistant, Zach Smith, had been accused of domestic violence.

Meyer has now admitted that he did know and followed the proper protocol by turning the matter over to his superiors in Columbus.

You can believe that or choose not to believe it.

But it can't possibly surprise you that Meyer wasn't willing to throw his assistant coach under the bus to the media in July.

It's the way sports works, especially in the win-at-all-costs world of high-level college football.

And, as far as actual "protocol" goes, Meyer isn't obligated by law (or contract) to be truthful with the media.

He has to be truthful with his employer -- and/or the police. But fibbing to a reporter from a Chicago newspaper isn't "illegal".

By dodging the question in July, Meyer was doing exactly what has instructed his own players to do for more than a decade now.

If something happens on the field, off the field, in the locker room or in the dorm room, even, it's kept there. It's kept in the family.

Coaches in virtually every sport mention this to their players time and time again: "The media is not your friend. They will bury you if they get the opportunity."

Right or wrong, that's a global perspective shared by coaches around the world. And, let's be honest, there's probably more truth to that statement than we all want to admit.

That Zach Smith defended Urban Meyer on Friday probably isn't that important, because we're beyond worrying about Meyer's integrity at this point. Smith says Meyer said to him, "If you hit her, you're fired immediately." That might have been the right thing to say to Smith, but the fact that the OSU coach couldn't be forthright with the media in July will forever tarnish his reputation.

My guess is Meyer will keep his job at Ohio State, but it's going to require a press conference, more apologizing, and some reworking of his contract.

Whether he should remain as a head coach depends on how important you think it is that Meyer lied to the media.

And that, of course, also depends on whether or not you think he confided to his superiors and reported Smith's behavior to his superiors as he says he did.

But none of this should surprise you.

Players, coaches and teams have been hiding inappropriate and scandalous behavior for a long, long time.

What, you think none of the Red Sox knew Wade Boggs kept his girlfriend on the 10th floor while his wife was on the 19th floor of the team hotel back in the 1980's?

How about those baseball players in the 1990's who suddenly saw their teammates disappear into bathroom stalls with another teammate wedged in there with him?

They weren't playing Twister in there, trust me.

But everyone in baseball knew that steroids were the drug du jour. No one was willing to violate those "family" virtues, though.

So when Urban Meyer gathers his players every August and implores them to keep all squabbles, issues and "stories" in-house, he winds up having to follow his own orders at some point.

You don't have to like it.

But you can't be surprised by any of it.

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drew's top 10 -- pga championship preview


The final major of the golf season (already?) takes place next week at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Because this is a Ryder Cup year, the event takes on enormous importance for a large number of players, both those competing for a spot on the U.S. team and the European side.

The PGA Championship has always been the "odd duck" of the group, but that could change next year when the tournament shifts to a May position in the calendar, leaving the British Open as the final major of the season.

The PGA is known for its ability to deliver one-off winners and guys that otherwise might not have been considered worthwhile major champion candidates.

Jeff Sluman, Wayne Grady, Mark Brooks, David Toms, Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang. There's a handful of names you might -- or might not -- remember as major winners at the PGA.

For some reason...the event lends itself to players of that nature.

Matt Kuchar is primed for a major victory on the PGA Tour. Could it come at next week's PGA Championship? #DMD thinks so.

So, we'll follow form in our "Top 10" list and go with a player or three who fit that "odd" bill. They won't be completely off-the-radar screen, like Ben Curtis was when he won the British in 2003. You'll know their names. But you might think, "Really? They're going to win a major?"

And the PGA is also the tournament where a guy who was always destined to win at least one wins one. It's happened in each of the last three years, remarkably, starting with Jason Day in 2016, continuing with Jimmy Walker the following year, and then last August, Justin Thomas jumped into the winner's circle. All three of those guys have "major champion talent". There's an argument all three will win more than one major, even.

So, let's get started. We'll feature two players per-day here until we finalize the Top 10 on Wednesday, August 8.

It seems like Matt Kuchar is on this "featured" list in nearly ever major championship I profile...and with good reason. Kuchar is a great player. But he doesn't yet have a major title.

Kuchar's first major could come next week. He's close, as always, to finally breaking through.

The big drawing card for "Kooch" is the Ryder Cup team. A win at Bellerive would probably lock up a spot for him on Jim Furyk's team. Even a high finish (top 3) would do wonders for his chances and, at the very least, give the captain more reason to consider him as an add-on once the eight automatic qualifiers are determined.

Charley Hoffman might be one of those players you consider in the same light as Sluman, Brooks and Toms, but the reality is Hoffman is probably more deserving of a major title than any of those three. He's played remarkably well in major championships over the last couple of years, sniffing around at the Masters and U.S. Open on a couple of occasions.

He's made the cut in all three majors in 2018 to date, with 16 cuts made in 21 overall events. A win at the PGA Championship would also give Furyk reason to consider him as a captain's pick.

Hoffman's length off the tee holds him back a bit, but his grinding nature and good short game keep him in the hunt at major events. Don't be surprised if you see Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman on the PGA Championship leaderboard next weekend.

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Friday
August 3
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we did learn one thing last night


Here, in this space yesterday, I warned you not to put any stock in what you saw during last night's Ravens-Bears pre-season opener in Canton, Ohio.

But "it" was so obvious that I can't blame you for watching and getting sucked in.

We learned something right away last night.

Lamar Jackson stinks.

I'm kidding...

Jackson looked exactly like I figured he would. The #1 draft pick played the second half of the 17-16 Ravens win and made a handful of good throws, a couple of poor ones, and ran around like the second coming of Michael Vick.

No, Jackson wasn't the story on Thursday night. Not even close.

There will be lots of in-game meetings like this during the NFL pre-season as referees gather to figure out what's a legal hit and what isn't.

What we learned from watching the game in Canton is that the NFL has lost its mind. Completely.

How on earth are football players going to tackle anyone this year with this new rule in place regarding "lowering the helmet"?

Now, here's what I'm hoping. Perhaps the NFL rules committee has instructed game officials to "over-call" the infraction throughout the pre-season in hopes of emphasizing the new rule and putting players and teams on high alert.

That's my hope. Otherwise, if what we saw last night in Canton is indeed the way game officials are going to call things this season, it can only lead to disaster.

There were hits last night that seemed benign.......and out came a penalty flag.

There were hits that seemed like simple, every game tackles......and out came a penalty flag.

During the broadcast on NBC, former NFL referee Terry McAulay was as baffled as anyone. And he's the guy NBC will pay this season to sit in the booth and try and explain things when the rules get in the way of actual football.

The NFL has lost its marbles if they think people are going to watch that garbage product where no one can make a tackle and fifteen yard penalties are more common than a Chris Davis strikeout.

It's as if they're trying to screw up the league, somehow.

Several players on both sides of the ball had spotlight performances, including a Raven or three, but what happened on the field played second fiddle to the biggest story of the night. No one is allowed to make a tackle anymore.

I joked around on Twitter right at the outset of the game -- when the first flag flew for "lowering the helmet" -- that they should just give the guys flags now, tuck them in their belts, and start playing a high level brand of flag football.

I was kidding. But the reality is the NFL is on the fast track to something like that if they're not careful. You laugh...and you say, "Well, I won't watch it", but you also know it's not that far fetched given the rules we see being put in place.

Who is going to sit through a three hour and twenty minute flag fest where the game is decided by a safety or cornerback trying to tackle a wide receiver and tackling him "too hard"?

I'll say it again. It's like they're trying to wreck the league.

I saw someone on Facebook last night opine that maybe this is the owners' way of getting back at the players for the anthem fiasco. They've made the game so frustrating for the players as a pay back for the kneeling and the public reaction it has caused.

I've seen worse conspiracy theories in my time, I'll say that.

But it's not a "conspiracy" per se. It's a legitimate effort by the league to clean up the game. But at some point, enough is enough.

What happened to Ryan Shazier last year was a shame. I think we all agree on that. But one moment in time shouldn't change the way the game is played.

And that's apparently what has happened. The league has completely over-reacted to the Shazier injury.

Thankfully, he survived and will hopefully return to a normal way of life sometime soon.

I'm not 100% certain the NFL will have the same good fortune.

Editor's note: If you want to know what I thought of individual players on Thursday night, you can check out today's "Juice" podcast.

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back to reality


It didn't take long for that 7-5 Orioles win in New York on Wednesday to lose its luster.

Two innings, in fact.

The Texas Rangers torched Andrew Cashner for ten runs in 1.2 innings of work on Thursday night, and Texas pounded the Birds, 17-8, in the first game of a 4-game series in Arlington.

Pre-season football being what it is, I actually watched large parts of the O's game. There's something about seeing the other team own a 10-1 lead in the second inning that makes you think, "Maybe I'll see history tonight...like a 38-10 final score."

It wasn't a memorable return to Arlington for Andrew Cashner on Thursday night, as he got lit up in a 17-8 Orioles loss.

Alas, it wasn't 38-10. Not even close. Texas owned a 17-5 lead before the Birds scraped together three runs of their own in the 9th inning to finalize the scoring at 17-8. Trey Mancini hit a 2-run homer in the final frame, joining Mark Trumbo and Caleb Joseph as long-ball hitters on Thursday night.

Cashner's return to his old stomping grounds didn't go so well.

He threw 61 pitches before being lifted with two outs in the second, as his record dropped to 3-10 and his ERA ballooned to 5.05.

Those numbers don't look very good...and they aren't, of course. But Cashner, like most other O's starters this season, hasn't had much support on the whole. Last night was different, obviously, but all in all, Cashner has been OK.

Every O's pitcher on Thursday night gave up at least one run except for the guy who finished out the bottom of the eighth inning. He was a newcomer to the mound. In fact, he struck out Joey Gallo to end the inning.

His name: Danny Valencia.

And you should have seen Valencia strut off the mound after that strikeout of Gallo. Someone on Twitter noted that Valencia reached 92 miles per hour. I'm not sure if that's true, but if so, that's really impressive.

Danny Valencia -- as a pitcher -- good as advertised, apparently.

The Orioles are as bad as advertised, at 33-76.

It's still way too early to start getting overly concerned with the chase for the worst record in baseball, but the Royals (34-74) and Orioles are going to finish 1-2 unless something really wacky happens with the Padres, who have 43 wins.

The biggest quest for the Birds, I guess, is to somehow try and reach the 50-win mark. I'm not sure there's much difference in winning 48 or 50, but there's something about hitting that 50-mark that looks way better than anything with a "4" in front of it.

I played in a golf tournament this past Monday and Tuesday and on the 18th hole of the first round, my playing competitor faced a 5-foot putt to end the day. For reasons I can't figure out, he announced to the two of us on the green, "I need this to break 80." He missed the putt.

There's something about "79" vs. "80" that's mystically important in golf. By the way, the player didn't show up for round two the next day. I wondered if shooting 79 would have brought him back.

So, to me, the Orioles winning 48 games is the same as them winning 50 or 52. But I get it. They definitely don't want to finish the season 49-113.

If they keep playing -- and pitching -- like they did in Texas on Thursday, that's where they're headed.

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woods lurking at firestone


A friend texted me on Thursday as Tiger Woods was finishing his first round at Firestone CC and wrote: "This is the week for the Tiger!"

"Probably not," I replied. "He'll need to make 20 birdies to win."

Woods was able to make five on Thursday en route to his opening round 66, but a final hole bogey left him four shots behind first round leader Ian Poulter. For Woods to win, he'll likely need to finish at least 18 under, if not more like 20 or 21 under.

I don't think Tiger's putter has enough firepower for a score like that, even on a course where he has eight career victories to date.

One thing for certain: Woods is playing golf, tee-to-green, as well as anyone on TOUR right now. That might not be completely satisfying to Tiger -- or maybe it is -- but there's no one out there striking the ball off the tee and with their irons as well as Woods has over the last three weeks or so.

His putter continues to betray him, though.

The stats might not indicate it, but Woods is missing the wrong putt at the wrong time, just like he did at the British Open a couple of weeks ago when he gave away four or five shots in the first two rounds of the tournament.

He's still making some, sure. He rolled in an improbable 50-footer on the 9th hole yesterday to turn the front nine in 33 shots.

But somewhere along the way, in every round it seems, Tiger misses a couple of six or eight footers for birdie. In the old days, those were made with conviction.

Speaking of making putts, Rickie Fowler rolled a bunch in on Thursday to reach seven-under-par, one shot behind Poulter. Fowler is one strong finish away from clinching a spot on the Ryder Cup team, so his interest is definitely piqued this week in Akron, Ohio.

Others on the outside looking in who could use a good week include Phil Mickelson (-4), Matt Kuchar (-2), Tony Finau (-2), Xander Schauffele (-1) and Webb Simpson (-1).

One of the main guys on the bubble, Bryson DeChambeau, slumped to a last-place, +5 total on Thursday.

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August 2
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football is back...sort of


The Ravens will play a football game tonight.

Yes, they'll even allow the players to wear pads and hit one another.

John Harbaugh's team is in Canton, Ohio for the annual Hall of Fame game, where they'll take on the Chicago Bears.

Because it's an actual game and you've been chomping at the bit to see some kind of legitimate football for roughly eight months, you'll likely find your way to the TV set tonight to check out the action.

That's all well and good. I'm excited to see a game, too, although I don't know that I'll be able to watch from start to finish.

I browsed the internet yesterday and saw a lot of people -- many of them smart, with a keen eye for football -- craft their obligatory "Things To Watch" column for tonight's game.

1st round draft pick Lamar Jackson is expected to see extensive playing time in tonight's pre-season opener vs. the Bears.

The Cranberries once put out a terrific album called "Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?". That's what I thought yesterday when I saw everyone dive into tonight's game with both feet and try to give us "something to look for" tonight in Canton.

Reality?

There's nothing about this game tonight that matters.

Well, I take that back. Injuries could matter. Let's hope neither team suffers any kind of major injury.

But other than that, you can watch this game from opening kick-off to the final whistle and I can't imagine you're going to see anything at all that changes your opinion on a player.

If it does change your opinion, you don't know how pre-season football works.

Tim White might catch a touchdown or two tonight. Please don't go to bed thinking the Ravens might have found their answer to Antonio Brown.

Heck, Lamar Jackson might be the guy who throws those two touchdowns to White. It would be a mistake for you to think Jackson is anywhere close to becoming a real, legitimate NFL quarterback. He's nowhere near ready, no matter what he does this evening.

Kaare Vedvik might kick a 67 yard field goal tonight. And could later add another from 60 yards. It won't matter. He's not taking Justin Tucker's job this season. Now the Ravens might have to take a page out of the Orioles' book and create a phantom hamstring injury for Vedvik later this month so they can stash him away for a season, but Vedvik's not kicking for the Ravens in 2018.

Someone is going to stand out tonight. Probably more than one guy will, actually. Repeat after me: It. Doesn't. Matter.

I realize it's just good to have football back again.

With what's happened at Camden Yards this season, any football is good football at this point.

But, despite what folks in town have written over the last 48 hours, there's nothing at all to really look for in tonight's game. You can't tell anything from what you see this evening.

I'm just reminding you, here, that pre-season football is virtually meaningless. It's like spring training baseball.

Remember who went 17-12 back in February and March? Yep. The Orioles. They didn't win their 17th regular season game until about two weeks ago, it seems.

The Padres finished second in Cactus League play with a 15-10 record. They're in last place in the N.L. West. The Philles and Braves were both under .500 in spring training, yet here they are fighting for the division title in the N.L. East.

Games that don't matter in the standings (follow along here) don't actually matter.

Yes, I'll be watching tonight. I'm not telling you not to watch.

I'm just reminding you that nothing you see tonight impacts the first game against Buffalo on September 9.

Don't be that fan who rushes to Twitter after Tim White catches a pass in the end zone between two receivers in the fourth quarter and proclaims him a star.

Save that for the media folks who have already been ordered by their editors to author tomorrow's column: Five things we learned from Thursday night's Ravens game.

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ryder cup spots at stake starting now


While the Ravens and Bears are in Canton, Ohio tonight, the golf world is just down the road in Akron, teeing it up at Firestone CC in a significant World Golf Championships event.

Some guy named Tiger Woods, who has won at the venue eight times in his career, snuck into the field on the very last day of qualifying by playing well at the British Open two weeks ago. The field at a WGC event is arguably stronger than a major championship, since only players with a specific world ranking can gain entry into the tournament.

With that in mind, playing well at Firestone could be a huge bonus for a handful of guys who are trying to make the Ryder Cup team.

Woods is 20th in points. He'd need to do something very special this week and then next week at the PGA Championship (like win both of them) in order to automatically qualify for the U.S. team as one of the top eight players.

Tony Finau, who has made the cut in all three majors this season, needs more strong play to qualify for the Ryder Cup team on points or gain the attention of captain Jim Furyk.

But Tiger is going to be picked by Jim Furyk no matter what happens over the next two weeks. Others, though, still have some golf to play in order to either make the team or impress the captain.

The PGA of America released a statement this past week that noted only three players have locked up a spot on the team via the points system (Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed). Everyone else still needs some more points in order to qualify as a top eight finisher.

Bryson DeChambeau is in 9th place in the standings, just 41 points behind Webb Simpson, who currently owns the 8th and final "guaranteed" spot on the team. DeChambeau has enjoyed a terrific season, but last week's back nine collapse at the European Open was unsettling. There are many in the golf world who think DeChambeau has to make the team outright in order to play in France in late September.

Phil Mickelson could use a good finish in one of the next two events. He's currently 10th in the standings, trailing 8th place by about 57 points.

Mickelson and Woodsd have both done a lot of great, great things in their respective careers. Tiger has 14 majors. Phil has 5. They've both made a gazillion dollars playing professional golf. But they both also have something else in common. Neither has ever played on a Ryder Cup team that won on foreign soil.

This is definitely Mickelson's last crack at it. Tiger has a few more Ryder Cups in him if he stays healthy. But this is it for Phil.

Xander Schauffele, who nearly won the British Open, is, like Mickelson, in need of a high finish in one of the next two events. Schauffele, currently at #11, will likely be a strong captain's pick candidate, but if he wants to eliminate the potential for getting passed up, he can do that with his own play.

Matt Kuchar will be a strong captain's pick candidate if he doesn't qualify, and that seems unlikely at this point unless he were to win next week's PGA Championship. The same goes for Kevin Kisner, who could have dramatically improved his Ryder Cup hopes by winning the British Open at Carnoustie.

Kuchar is 12th in points, Kisner ranks 13th.

Two other names mentioned prominently as potential captain's picks are Tony Finau, currently 14th, and Zach Johnson, at 20th. The heat is on both of them to play well this week and next.

So, while the football game in Canton doesn't matter at all tonight, the golf in Akron really matters over the next four days. A win for the likes of Justin Thomas (4th), Bubba Watson (5th), Jordan Spieth (6th), Rickie Fowler (7th) or Webb Simpson (8th) would lock up their spot on the team.

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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.


one of the best days in orioles history? maybe…


Major League baseball players are people. Sure, they’re people who can hit 420-foot rockets on 95-mph fastballs, as well as throw those fastballs, but they’re still people. They have emotions, they develop relationships, they muddle through the ups and downs of life and career.

Major League baseball players go to work every day.

Sure, their work really isn’t like yours, and their pay certainly isn’t. Even a guy making the minimum is earning five times more than someone you’d consider wealthy. Still, it’s their job, and it’s a competitive one, one where someone else is always waiting in the wings if they don’t produce.

In the last two weeks, the Orioles have traded six quality Major League players, and been rebuffed by the player himself in their attempt to trade a seventh. And there’s been plenty of emotion about all of it.

Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were always Orioles, and that meant something to them. Gausman cried in front of reporters in New York, and he lamented that he’d never lived up to his first-round potential wearing the uniform. Britton first signed with the Orioles at 18 years old on June 23, 2006, and stayed with them for more than 12 years.

Meanwhile, what else besides emotion (and 10-and-5) could be keeping Adam Jones here? As a Phillie for two months, he might even be able to come home to his family after games in South Philadelphia, at least some of the time. Yet he doesn’t want to go, at least not yet.

And don’t forget---those five, along with Brad Brach and Darren O’Day, actually helped make the Orioles a good team! Don’t let the team’s current record of 33-75 fool you.

So, Tuesday, July 31, was an emotional day. Guys scattered all over the country, and players who grew up with each other were separated; the Orioles, playing their oldest and most bitter rivals, were unrecognizable.

Jonathan Villar stole 62 bases for the Brewers in 2016, but he has just 14 steals in 2018.

And then the calendar turned to August, and the sun rose after one more night of July rain, and the realization came that the Orioles just might have done the best thing for their organization since they built Camden Yards 26 years ago.

Yes, the team might have extended Machado years ago. Sure, the Orioles might have discussed a contract with Schoop as he morphed into an All-Star talent. Of course, Britton and others might have been dealt at an earlier time.

None of that happened, and by the last two weeks of July the Orioles, and whatever group is making the decisions for the team, could only do one thing. And they did it, so there shouldn’t be any more complaining.

Having a record of 33-75 isn’t so much something to complain about; more like something to forget about. The embarrassment was gone a while ago. Plus, there are still two months of games left. The Mets just lost a game to the Nationals 25-4, but they still had to play the next day. That’s baseball.

There are two terms that get bandied about when a team does what the Orioles did before the trading deadline. The first is “fire sale.”

The most infamous fire sale in baseball history came more than 20 years ago, when Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga essentially ordered a liquidation of his team’s assets after the team won the 1997 World Series in only its fifth season.

(That season sure seemed like it should have been the title year for the Orioles, more than any other year of the Camden Yards era, but I digress…)

The following year, the Marlins became the only team to lose 100 games the year after winning the World Series. They actually lost 108 games, a number the Orioles were likely to reach in 2018 even if they hadn’t traded away so many veteran players.

What the Orioles have done over the last several weeks isn’t really a fire sale, though. It’s more like a market correction, which the Marlins did later in their history, after the 2005 season. That situation should be familiar to Orioles fans now: a team that had success and then disappointed, combined with a host of players at or near the end of contracts that couldn’t possibly be kept together even if there was interest in doing that.

Those Marlins had (again) won the World Series, in 2003, while these Orioles managed just one division title and one appearance in the league championship series in their run. Playoff results, of course, are not always the best indicator of how good a team has been.

The other term that gets thrown out, and the one that might even bother fans more than “fire sale,” is “rebuild.” Fact is, there’s a certain segment of any fan base that doesn’t understand how you can sell off so many Major League players without getting hardly any in return.

In case you ended up with a bit of trade whiplash over the past few days, the Orioles picked up a total of 15 players for their organization since the trade of Machado, in addition to international bonus slot money.

Their names? Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Diaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop, and Breyvic Valera from the Dodgers. Cody Carroll, Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate (all pitchers) from the Yankees. Brett Cumberland, Jean Carlos Encarnacion, Evan Phillips and Bruce Zimmermann from the Braves. Jean Carmona, Luis Ortiz and Jonathan Villar from the Brewers.

If you’re counting, that’s eight pitchers -- six right-handed and two left-handed -- five infielders, one catcher and one outfielder, Diaz, the 21-year-old former Dodger farmhand that was the prize catch in the Machado deal and thus the prize catch in all the deadline deals.

Villar is mostly an infielder and is a six-year veteran; in 2016 with Milwaukee, he led the National League with 62 stolen bases. He also had 174 strikeouts that year, which means he’ll fit right in when he’s healthy! Valera played in 20 games with the Dodgers this year and started at second base for the Orioles yesterday in New York. Phillips pitched in four games with Atlanta this season.

And that’s it. Only four of the 15 players the Orioles got in return have ever played in a Major League game (Carroll made his debut yesterday, ironically in Yankee Stadium), and only one of them is an established player.

Of the 11 that haven’t, how many will? Certainly not all of them. Of the 14 besides Villar, how many will establish themselves as veterans? It’s impossible to say, though probably not as many as you’d hope.

Of course, the Orioles didn’t trade away some of your favorite players in order to get a whole bunch of players in return. They did it to have the flexibility to build a Major League team in the next few years. We’ll see how they do, not to mention who’ll be the ones doing it.

Maybe that’s a better way to say it. Build, instead of “rebuild.” There’s nothing positive about what happened to the Orioles in September 2017 and the first four months of the 2018, but the moves make it possible for something positive to happen now.

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orioles gut their roster


The Orioles aren't playing around with this "rebuilding project".

They're obviously quite serious about it, trading away six players over the last week, including Tuesday's deadline-day departures of Kevin Gausman, Darren O'Day and Jonathan Schoop.

Now, the real hard work begins. Putting the right pieces in place to create a new, winning environment in Baltimore and keeping the fan base interested for the next two years are critical tasks that lie ahead for the Angelos sons and club management.

Neither of those efforts are going to be easy.

The Orioles added 15 players to their organization by dealing away the six veteran players. A few of them have major league experience. A player or two can potentially contribute a bit right away.

For the most part, though, what the Birds did over the last week won't bloom until 2020 at the earliest. And it could take until 2021 or 2022 before the team is a contender again.

Can the fans hang on that long and endure what will likely be a brutal year or two?

Former 1st round pick Kevin Gausman saw his Orioles tenure come to an end yesterday when he was dealt with Darren O'Day to the Atlanta Braves.

Here's how I look at it: If you're still around watching them play now, in the wake of their worst season ever, you can stick this out for another year or two.

At least now, there's a plan of attack. The Orioles are going to try and pull off what the Houston Astros accomplished last year, namely going from the league laughingstock to world champion within a five year period. They say they're going to spend money on international players, which would also help. I'll believe that one when I see it.

But for those of us who were hoping for a complete tear-down (and yes, I was one who signed up for that), this is like finding out your favorite musician is actually putting out a double-album. It's a joyous occasion.

This had to be done. Painful? Sure, in some ways. Mandatory? Pretty much so, yes. The organization's window for winning closed last September, although Showalter hinted on Tuesday that the club thought perhaps they could pull a rabbit out of the hat this season and make a run, hence the late winter signings of Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner.

But it's been evident since early May that a tear-down-and-rebuild job was necessary.

The Machado, Britton and Brach deals weren't shocking at all. A Flyers fan could have figured out those guys had to go, since free agency looms and the Orioles were unlikely to keep any of them in Baltimore.

But yesterday's flurry of activity that sent Gausman, O'Day and Schoop packing was somewhat surprising.

Schoop mentioned late Tuesday afternoon that the Orioles hadn't discussed a contract extension with him, despite his service time obligation coming to an end at the conclusion of next season. That prompted some criticism of the Orioles on social media, but that's just a player trying to crack the shell of his (now) former team with a departing swipe. Schoop, like every other quality young player, covets the ability to peddle himself as a free agent.

Watch and see how loyal Schoop is to the Brewers in the winter of 2019.

With the exception of Machado, none of the players the Orioles lost are impact, have-to-have-them-or-we-lose kind of guys. Britton could be in that category except he's a closer, and the Orioles aren't going to present him with many opportunities throughout the remainder of this season, so why keep him around?

Truth of the matter? The other four guys the Orioles shipped out are good players, but nothing more. Brach has his ups and downs. So, too, does O'Day. Gausman has been very good at times, and unquestionably frustrating at others. And Schoop, despite his power surge over the last couple of years, is a free swinger who experiences more hot and cold moments than The Golden Girls.

We think those four are great players, but the reality is we over-value them a tad.

Gausman could go on to do some really good things in the National League. Lots of folks compare him and his situation to the one experienced by Jake Arrieta when he was traded to the Cubs, and that might be accurate.

Schoop might not find the National League to his liking. He enjoyed good success hitting the plethora of off-speed stuff he saw in the American League. He might not see as much of it in the N.L.

In both cases, those two will enjoy high moments in Atlanta and Milwaukee, perhaps even this season, and that will make us lament their departure all that much more. But it won't mean the Orioles were wrong for dealing both of them.

The entire Orioles organization is being rebuilt.

There's still no word on the fates of Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, although it makes complete sense to assume Duquette is returning if, in fact, he's the one who brokered the deals for the six departed players. Showalter speaks as if he's coming back, but that's still up in the air, too.

The on-going legal saga between MASN and the Washington Nationals is still unresolved, and there are some in the industry who think MASN could be in trouble financially before this decade closes out.

Don't ignore the fact that the Orioles are saving roughly $35 million over the rest of the season by shipping those six players out of town. When attendance is down and you're expecting it to remain that way for a year or so, saving $35 million is vitally important.

And those pesky rumors about the folks in Las Vegas and Nashville sniffing around the Orioles organization just won't go away. Both cities are primed for baseball. If the league won't expand, the only way either or both can get a team of their own is to lure one away from its current home.

For those of you who wanted "interesting" as part of your Orioles fandom for 2018, you got it.

Hang in there and you might see something special develop over the next five years.

Or, it could all fall apart.

Either way, it's infinitely more worthy of your interest than arguing whether Joe Flacco is elite or not.

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ravens "kneeling" results are in


In one of the most active Reader Poll questions we've had in a long time, the winner claimed victory by a narrow margin and the overall results showed a split in the fan base.

Yesterday's poll question surrounded the possibility that a Ravens player or players would kneel during the national anthem. How would YOU react if that happens prior to a game in 2018?

47% of you said you would not attend games any longer.

43% of you said it wouldn't bother you at all.

6% of you indicated you're undecided at this point.

4% of you say winning is all you care about and/or it depends on how many players kneel.

Those numbers would seem to match up with what happened last season in the aftermath of "London". Empty seats were the norm in Baltimore throughout the rest of the regular season, with pockets of 15,000 or more remaining visible for December home games when the weather turned bad and holiday events dominated people's schedules.

Perhaps those folks just used the kneeling as an excuse, but the fact remains that something happened after September 24th. Most of us believe it was the kneeling that drove fans away.

And if our reader's poll is an indicator, people would again go away -- and stay away -- this season if there's a kneeling episode associated with the Ravens.

Nearly half of those who responded to our poll say they're done if the Ravens kneel.

That's a big piece of the pie.

And as I wrote here yesterday, I'm sure the Ravens' brass knows how vulnerable their fan base is right now. One wrong move and everything gets wrecked -- again.

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the maryland football quiz


A friend tried this on me yesterday and I thought I'd throw it out to my #DMD friends today.

Without the aid of Google or any internet search at all (yeah, I know, how are you going to do it?), can you answer these four questions?

1. Name four players on Maryland's football roster for 2018.

2. Name four opponents on the Terps' 2018 schedule and where they play them.

3. What was Maryland's record last season?

4. What's the capacity of Maryland's football stadium?

Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin faces another tough Big Ten schedule in 2018.

Good luck.

If you got four out of four, go play the lottery.

If you got three of four, you're either a Maryland football nut or a good guesser.

If you got two of four, you're still pretty smart.

If you got one of four, join the club.

If you didn't get any right, don't worry, neither did about 80% of the people who participated.

For the record, I got the stadium capacity question right (54,000). That was the only one I answered correctly.

I got three of the four opponents right (Texas in D.C., Michigan State and Ohio State in College Park) but couldn't come up with a fourth.

I thought they were 3-9 last year, but they were 4-8 (somehow).

And, no, I couldn't name four players on their current roster.

If Maryland's football marketing department needs any more proof of how little Baltimore knows about their program, an informal focus group like the one right here would do them some good. It might yield some shockingly concerning results, mind you, but at least they'd know the truth.

The truth: No one in Baltimore knows anything about Maryland football.

Oh, and the season starts soon. I think...

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"SHOW ME THE MONEY!" for October 28. Drew makes his week 8 NFL picks right here.





O's SCOREBOARD
Sunday, September 30
Orioles
4

Astros
0
WP: P. Fry (1-2)

LP: B. Peacock (3-5)

HR: none

RECORD/PLACE: 47-115, 5th (of course)

breakfast bytes

Orioles make it official, hire Mike Elias as the team's new general manager (press conference set for this Monday).

NHL: Backstrom's game-winner in OT lifts shorthanded Capitals to 3-2 win at Colorado.

College hoops: Terps recover from 6-point halftime deficit, turn back pesky Hofstra at College Park, 80-69.

UMBC improves to 3-1 with 77-72 win over Air Force; Towson falls to 1-2 with 74-65 loss to Pepperdine.

PGA Tour: Charles Howell III (-14) leads RSM Classic by three shots over Cameron Champ and Jason Gore.