Saturday
October 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 31

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ravens need a win in the worst way tomorrow

While lots of fans around town keep throwing around the cliche of "the season's over", the Ravens think there's still plenty of football left. In reality, that's true, there are still nine games remaining in a sixteen game schedule, and although it's highly unlikely the club is going to be able to win all nine of those games and finish at 10-6, plenty of teams in the history of the NFL have made the playoffs by finishing 9-7.

No, I'm not suggesting the Ravens are going to finish 9-7. I'm simply saying you always have to look at the possibility of what you can still do, mathematically, and use that as a gauge for whatever efforts you're putting in to get there. In specific, John Harbaugh's team just needs ONE win right now. Just win. They need a win to get themselves in position to win again next week. And they need that win to get themselves in position to win a 3rd in a row. And so on...

With each game now, we learn more about players, coaches and personnel. I remember once a decade or so ago when I was attending the team's annual "Liar's Luncheon" at Owings Mills just prior to the draft, where media members get to ask questions of Ozzie Newsome and his staff and they spend the better part of one hour telling you nothing or downright fibbing about it. Someone asked him what he saw in Gary Baxter, whom the Ravens drafted out of Baylor back in 2001. "I remember watching Gary a lot and what struck me was he played the same way no matter what the score of the game was," Newsome recalled. "There was a game where Baylor was getting clobbered by Texas and with about four minutes left, Gary came up from his spot in the backfield and delivered a crunching, textbook tackle and I said to myself, 'There's a guy who plays like a Raven, making plays without any care for what the score is' and that stuck with me."

Baxter turned out to be a decent NFL player, nothing more, but Newsome's critique of him and his play at Baylor was an important nugget to remember -- for me, anyway. Watch how guys play when their team is LOSING. You learn a lot about them.

So, at 1-6, it's fair to say the Ravens are "losing" right now. They might be 2-6 after tomorrow's game with the Chargers or they might be 1-7. Whatever the case, players will decide it. Who will step up for Baltimore? Who will continue to struggle? How does the game itself go on Sunday? Do the Ravens jump out early or fall behind? It's all part of the plot AND sub-plot. As we saw last Monday night in Arizona when two plays (Urschel and Chris Johnson) greatly impacted the game, it might only require one or two players to change the course of the Ravens' season.

The season ISN'T over, actually. As crazy as it sounds, this is totally worth watching now, if for no other reason than we've never seen John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda, Jimmy Smith, et al in this position. We're going to learn even MORE about those men than we knew before. Let's see how they react.

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our army-navy bus trip is on sale!

After receiving a decent response on yesterday's "bucket list" piece in which I teased a trip to Philadelphia to see the Army-Navy game, I've put the wheels in motion to make it happen. We already have twelve (12) people officially "interested" in going, but we're going to need another fifteen or so to make it a reality.

Here are the details:

Saturday, December 12, 3:00 pm, Army vs. Navy, Philadelphia PA

Bus leaves from the Towson area at 11:00 am

Everyone receives lunch from Chick fil-A, plus water, soda and Harpoon beer.

Upon arrival, we'll tailgate with a Palmisano's sandwich, snacks and more refreshments.

Game ticket is included in the package.

We should be back in Baltimore by 8:30 pm.

Per-person cost is $160

This a MUST-SEE event for those of you who haven't ever gone (and, even if you have, it's still very much worth seeing again and again). It's truly a sports "bucket-list" item that's almost right in our backyard. Don't miss it!!

If you want to reserve seats on the bus, please e-mail me -- 18inarow@gmail.com


#2 on my top 10 favorite albums list

#2 - Live, "Throwing Copper"

First, it's "Live" as in "alive", not "Live" as in "this is where I live". Just in case any of you old folks out there wonder how to pronounce the band's name. I played this CD so much in the 1990's that I actually bought not one, or two, but THREE of them. I wore two of them out I listened to it so much. A lot of people thought "Copper" was Live's first album but it wasn't. Their debut album -- Mental Jewelry -- was also outstanding, but Throwing Copper put them on the rock-n-roll map with a handful of huge radio hits, including "Lightning Crashes", "I Alone", "All Over You" and "Selling The Drama".

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Rated the 2nd best album of the 1990's by Rolling Stone Magazine

I actually liked the other songs on the album just as much, including my all-time favorite song from Live, "Iris", plus "Top" and "White, Discussion". This album was truly a masterpiece. The band took a strange turn in its aftermath, as lead singer Ed Kowalczyk got a little goofy and subsequent albums never quite lived up to the "lightning in a bottle" feature that made Throwing Cooper so special.

The band hailed from York, PA, which made seeing them "live" very easy. I probably saw them in concert in more different venues than any other band. Overall, I saw them at least 30 times.


Live: Throwing Cooper
"Iris"
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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


The Ravens finally return to M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, and it's stunning to think that before fans get to see the Ravens at home a third time, the season is essentially over. No, the Ravens aren't admitting that yet -- "We’re not making any assumptions about anything," coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday when someone referenced being out of playoff contention -- but it's time to face the music. For one of the very few times in the Harbaugh era, the Ravens will play games that mean something only for draft order.

Still, the Ravens have a chance to get a little momentum going on Sunday. They host San Diego, then have a bye, then host Jacksonville and St. Louis. That's three straight home games and a chance to bring some respectability to this lost season. For the Ravens to get that elusive second win on Sunday, here are five players who need to step up:

*LB Elvis Dumervil

Dumervil was very active at Arizona, getting his hand on Carson Palmer's throwing arm twice and forcing him out of the pocket. Philip Rivers has been sacked 18 times this year, tied for ninth in the league. The Chargers will throw it and throw it some more, so the Ravens must get pressure on him.

* RB Justin Forsett

The Ravens need to stick with their running game on Sunday. Against the Cardinals, the Ravens ran just four times after halftime, in part because they fell behind 26-10. But a balanced attack, with an effective running game, shortens the game and keeps the ball out of the hands of Rivers and the Chargers' top- rated passing attack.

* WR Chris Givens

Of the receivers not named Steve Smith, Givens was the best on the field for the Ravens at Arizona. Twice, the speedster got two steps behind the Cardinals secondary, something the rest of the receiving corps has been unable to do all year. One pass to Givens should have been a touchdown, but it was underthrown and tipped away. The other went for a 31-yard gain, the Ravens longest play of the game. With the rest of the receivers not named Steve Smith underperforming, the Ravens need to take more shots with Givens.

*OT James Hurst

It appears left tackle Eugene Monroe could be sidelined again on Sunday. He left the Cardinals game with a shoulder injury and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. If Monroe can't go, Hurst is the likely starter at left tackle. Hurst has already started three games this year in place of Monroe because of injuries, and it didn't work out well for him last time. Hurst will need to be better protecting Joe Flacco's blind side.

* CB Shareece Wright

One week after his disastrous Ravens debut against the 49ers, Shareece Wright was on the field for 36 snaps against the Cardinals. It's clear the Ravens prefer to play Lardarius Webb in the slot with Wright on the outside in a nickel package. Philip Rivers is averaging 44 passes and 350 passing yards a game. So you can be sure the ball will be coming Wright's way. The fact that Shareece Wright can be viewed as one of the keys to a Ravens game in November shows just how far this season has veered from the vision most observers had of it a few months ago.

Prediction: The Ravens are home, but that M&T invincibility was shredded in the loss to Cleveland last month. Expect another close game -- is there any other thing for this year's Ravens? -- but the Chargers simply have more playmakers than the Ravens do. In a back-and-forth affair, the Ravens again fail to get a late stop. Chargers 30, Ravens 27.

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#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
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Marsh
Insurance & Financial
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The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight lit up the field at John Carroll last night as the Friars from Archbishop Curley faced off against the Patriots with the MIAA B regular season championship on the line.

John Carroll won the toss, elected to receive, and five plays later Patriots' QB Kurt Rawlings connected with Ky’el Hemby for the first score of the game. Curley answered quickly when Jonathan Brice took the ensuing kickoff to the house, tying the game at seven. Three plays after Curley tied it, John Carroll was in the end zone again, this time on a 55 yard Rawlings to WR Josh Payne-White connection.

After a whirlwind first three minutes, it was time for the defensive units from both teams to make their presence known. John Carroll held the Friars to a three and out on Curley’s first offensive series of the night, then Curley stalled a Patriot drive after Rawlings was sacked by Friar DL Vinnie Shaffer. The Friars took over at midfield, moving the ball on the ground with a drive that featured RB Tyrone Roper. The drive was stopped in its tracks when John Carroll DB/WR Alex Rasmussen intercepted a deep ball thrown by Curley QB Luke Nakich.

The Friars' defense held John Carroll in check forcing a Patriot pooch punt on fourth down. Curley took advantage of the good field position, putting together a thirteen play drive on powerful runs by the tandem James Diggs of Rod Petitt. Facing a critical fourth an two, with only two minutes remaining in the first half, Curley QB Makich called his own number and scrambled into the end zone to tie the game at fourteen.

The game would not remain tied for long. John Carroll took possession at their own 34 yard line with 1:46 remaining in the first half. Five plays later, with 11.6 seconds left on the clock, Rawlings and Hemby connected again, giving the Patriots a 21-14 lead at halftime.

Curley started the second half quickly, with an effective rushing drive that ended when RB Petitt scored on third and five, tying the game for the third time on the evening. Curley got the ball back after their defense held John Carroll to a standoff. A Friar fumble on the second play of that drive, recovered by the Patriots' Brett Rayner, would result in a Rawlings to Rasmussen touchdown and yet another seven point John Carroll lead.

Rawlings ran for a score on the next John Carroll drive, in addition to assuming the punting and extra point kicking duties during the course of evening, earning him the #DMD Player of the Game honors.

Curley RB Diggs added a touchdown for Curley on the final play of the game.

Final score: Archbishop Curley 27 #8 John Carroll 35

The next game for both of these teams will be the first game of the MIAA B Conference Tournament next weekend. Don’t be surprised to see a rematch of last night’s game before the B Conference Champion is crowned.

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. Be sure to check in next week as we feature #1 Gilman vs. #4 McDonogh, in a game that may be for all of the marbles in the MIAA A Conference. Be sure to check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs too. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

Friday
October 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 30

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what "bucket list" items are still on your list?

As a bunch of us ate dinner last Saturday night in Phoenix, the subject of "bucket list trips" came up and everyone chimed in with their own. One of the central themes -- not surprising since we were all in Arizona playing golf -- was a trip to Scotland to play a handful of the greatest courses in the world including, hopefully, St. Andrews. On a personal note, that's #1 on my personal bucket list: A trip to St. Andrews to play the Old Course.

It got me to thinking, though, what other "bucket list" trips or events do people want to cross off of their own list? I've talked for a while now about putting together a trip to the Daytona 500, not so much because I'd cross that off of MY list, but because I think it would be a cool, one-time thing to experience and there are likely lots of racing fans who haven't been and need to go. I liken it to my annual trip to Augusta National and The Masters practice round (which we're doing again on April 5, 2016). I tell all of my golfing friends, "You simply have to go to Augusta at least once. There's no other way to put it. It's a must-do." I assume, for racing people, Daytona is the same way. It's a must-attend event, at least once.

Are there any sports trips and/or games that are on your personal bucket-list? I'd love to hear what they are. Throw 'em in the comments section today if you get a chance, please.

There's an event coming up on December 12 that I think everyone who loves sports and/or football should experience once, live, in their lifetime: the Army/Navy football game. It wasn't really a bucket-list items for me when I went to the game way back in the late 1990's, but going there once and experiencing the whole afternoon made me realize it SHOULD have been on my bucket-list.

I'd be willing to put together a trip to this year's Army/Navy game in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 12. It should be relatively inexpensive (somewhere in the $175 range -- tickets aren't cheap, obviously) and, best of all, it's a simple "up and back" trip. The game kicks off at 3pm, so we'd leave Baltimore about 11 am, get up there by 1 pm for some tailgating and such, and be back in Baltimore by roughly 8:30 pm. I can think of worse ways to spend a Saturday. I'd provide food, beer, the game ticket, bus ride, etc. All you do is show up, have fun and experience what truly is one of the best days you'll ever witness, sports wise.

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If you've never been, the Army-Navy football game is a "must attend" sports event in your life.

It's hard to explain until you've seen it live. Whatever I write here wouldn't do it justice, but it winds up being a day that makes you extremely proud to be an American and, oddly enough, feeling just a little bit more secure about our national safety with those young men on the football field protecting our families. I'm not sure my 8-year old son is ready to absorb it all and understand it, but one of these days I'll take him to the Army/Navy game and let him experience it at a young age. We're very blessed to have the Naval Academy almost literally right in our own backyard. Sometimes I feel like we don't appreciate that enough.

If you're interested in going on December 12, send me an e-mail and I'll start compiling a list of potential trip-goers. We'd need at least 25 people to go and I'd make a decision by next week if we can do it or not, so you can plan your schedule accordingly. Let me leave you with this: If you're a sports fan -- and most likely if you're here, reading this, you are -- you MUST attend an Army/Navy game in your lifetime. You MUST do it. I'll do all the work for this, you just show up and have a good time. If you're interested, send me an e-mail: 18inarow@gmail.com -- and I'll get right back to you with details.


a new "3140" podcast is available today

Click below for the latest edition of my podcast, where I talk about last Monday's Ravens-Cardinals game, the World Series thus far, and I field three questions from #DMD readers and answer them in the popular "3 questions" segment that we do every Friday both on the podcast and here on the website.

#DMD 3140 Podcast
October 30, 2015
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nfl and players are both at fault with "uniform violations"

It's hard to find fault with the NFL for their recent collection of fines and penalties against players who are violating the league's strict policies by wearing various "items" that are not part of the approved player uniform. The most high profile case was the one involving Steelers' defensive end Cameron Heyward who wore "eye black" with his father's nickname -- IronHead -- to support cancer research. The league fined him, twice in fact, because players aren't allowed to support individual causes during a game.

With all due respect to Heyward -- and I lost my mother to cancer in 1987, so I'm as sympathetic as it comes to that cause -- you just can't wear whatever you want when the league tells you, specifically, what you can and can't wear as part of your uniform. It's part of the "privilege" of playing in the NFL, I suppose, and as much as I'm going to beat them up in just a couple of sentences here, I also understand that the players aren't allowed to just do whatever they want with regard to their uniform. It just can't work that way. The players try to play the "sorrow card" and make the league look and feel bad about penalizing them for supporting a charity or a cause, but they know going in what's allowed and what isn't allowed and they choose to violate the policy. They get what they get, at that point, and if the league sees fit to punish them, so be it. That's what I think anyway.

Now, here's where the league has fouled up and it's no surprise that their biggest mistake is a by-product of perhaps the NFL's most visible character flaw: Overkill. The league spends the month of October promoting breast cancer awareness. Everywhere you look, you see pink. Pink socks, pink tape, pink towels, pink gloves, pink coaches shirts, etc. Pink, pink, pink. They're doing that, naturally, because a growing percentage of season ticket holders and NFL fans in general are -- obviously -- females. It's a man's game, no doubt, but by giving the women a month's worth of publicity, the league feels like they're catering to a wide segment of their audience.

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That's all well and good. The NFL SHOULD be behind breast cancer awareness. But a month's worth? Wouldn't it be better, perhaps, to have every team in the league sport the pink stuff on a specific date or two in October and then allow the players, on just ONE Sunday, to wear something of their choosing (pre-approved by the league), so they can support their own cause? I don't have all the bells and whistles figured out on how to make it happen. Maybe the Commissioner who makes $40 million or so could figure out a way to appease the players and their own charitable efforts? I'd even be willing to state ahead of time that the players can't use their own charity (or, even, anyone from their own team) as their "charity of choice". But if they have a special charity they'd like to publicly promote, they'd file paperwork with the league, get approval, and then support that charity on a designated Sunday in October.

As much as the league wants to control the players, and rightfully so, they also need to allow them the freedom to do good work in their own community within a set of guidelines organized and supervised by the league itself. Making the players wear pink in October most likely doesn't offend any of them, but it also shows a general lack of decency by saying to them, "You'll wear what we tell you to wear and promote the cause we tell you to promote but we're not willing to allow you even a smidgen of that same creative freedom to promote YOUR cause."

There's also a team-by-team conflict that could present a problem, depending on the charity the player chooses and how that relationship either dovetails with or goes against something the team itself is already devoted to promoting. If a team develops a relationship, say, with the Ameican Cancer Society, they might not want one of their players running around on the field with something promoting The American Red Cross. True, every charity needs help, but the team might consider those charitable endeavors to be loosely represent a conflict of interest and, as such, be confusing to the fans they're trying to impact.

The NFL needs to look at this carefully in the off-season and loosen the reins on the players a little bit. Give them some rules to follow and they will. Allow them the chance to promote their own charity and something good might come out of it. In the end, no one gets hurt when a charity or non-profit organization gets publicty and fund-raising awareness.


"3 questions" returns for another edition of #dmd insight

Every Friday here at #DMD and in the "3140" Podcast, we take three questions from readers and contributors and answer them. Thanks to all of you who chimed in with questions this week!

Mark asks: "Why is it that Ray Rice still can't get a job in the league?"

DF: "It's all about the video. I'm not saying that's fair, because it isn't, by any means, but the team that signs Ray Rice will have their local TV sportscasts showing that video over and over, saying, "This is who the (insert team here) signed today. Frankly, I'm surprised no one has taken Rice over the last two years, but it's all about that video and nothing more."

Tom asks: "Are you surprised by the Capitals great start?"

DF: "Not at all. They've done this before. It's never a surprise to see the Caps playing well in the regular season. There were a few years when they were in the old Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference when they would steamroll their way through that thing and have it sewed up by late February. With the re-alignment a few years ago, the regular season has been a tad more meaningful for them, but they're still one of the better teams in the East. Nothing the Caps do EVER surprises me, including the playoffs when they predictably author some sort of epic collapse or heartbreaking finale to their season. That said, it's good to see them playing well now, but I don't put any stock in their improvement until the playoffs roll around. Been a fan since 1976. I know what to expect in April or May."

Jeff asks: "Is their one artist or band you've never seen in concert you'd like to see?

DF: "Yep, Coldplay. Great question! I've never seen Coldplay and I need to do that. They're #1 on that list. I've also never seen Neil Young and I always wanted to, but Coldplay is tops on the list."

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

The managerial carousel in the Barclays Premier League continued to turn following the conclusion of Matchweek 10, with Tim Sherwood of Aston Villa the latest to fall off. If the rumor mill is to be believed there could be more to come, with one of the biggest names (and egos) in soccer reportedly on the chopping block. As usual you can watch every game live on the NBC family networks or online, so tune in to catch all of the action and to see who will be left standing by the end of Matchweek 11.

Saturday (all times Eastern)

8:45am – Liverpool @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

The drama that has so far defined the Chelsea season could be coming to an end on Saturday with rumors beginning to fly that manager Jose Mourinho will be relieved of his duties if the Blues are unable to collect all three points when Liverpool visit Stamford Bridge for the early Saturday kickoff, and that his representatives have already been in contact about potentially taking over the head positions at French giants Paris St. Germain next season or even a possible return to Inter Milan, where Mourinho had previously guided the Nerazzurri to the Champions League title back in 2010.

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Failing to beat Liverpool this Saturday could cost Jose Mourinho his job at Chelsea.

Chelsea, who sit fifteenth in the league on eleven points and are off to their worst start in thirty seven years, have won only one of their last seven matches in all competitions but are unbeaten in their last six league matches against Liverpool (W3 D3). After draws in his first three games in charge Jurgen Klopp, who earned his first win since signing on as Liverpool’s new manager mid-week against Bournemouth in the Capital One Cup, will look to stay perfect with a Liverpool team who have not lost in their past five league fixtures (W1 D4) and only once at Stamford Bridge in their past five.

11am – Manchester United @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC Sports Network

Following an unusually dull Manchester Derby, where both teams failed to score for only the second time in the last twenty seven meetings between the neighborhood rivals, Manchester United will highlight the afternoon fixtures on Saturday when they travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace. United have not lost to Palace in their last twelve meetings (W10 D2), a streak that goes back almost twenty five years, and will like their chances to get back on the scoreboard following their draw with City having scored in all but one of their six league visits to Selhurst Park, netting ten times in total.

After a strong start to the current campaign, Palace have dropped off as of late losing four of their last six while managing to score just four goals during that span, three of which were from the penalty spot. Palace have managed only one goal against United in the past five league matches, failing to score at all in nine of their twelve encounters. With three teams trailing the Eagles in the league standings by just a single point and another three just two points behind, Palace will be desperate to rediscover their scoring touch against United to not waste what could be a once a promising start to the season.

Monday (all times Eastern)

4pm – Aston Villa @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

There is no doubt that Tim Sherwood was looking forward to facing his former team when Aston Villa visit White Hart Lane for a showdown with Tottenham on Monday Night Football, but the former Spurs technical director and later first team coach will not get that opportunity as he was relieved of his duties following the Villains 2-1 loss to Swansea last weekend. Although he received much of the credit for helping the Villa avoid relegation last season, stuck in last place in the league standings and a run of six straight league defeats was enough to earn him his walking papers.

Interim manager Kevin MacDonald will be thrown into the fire immediately against a Tottenham side that Villa have beaten only once in their last thirteen league matches (L9 D3). Spurs have been one of the most consistent teams throughout the Barclays Premier League through the first quarter of the season, going unbeaten in their last nine league matches (W4 D5) and remain the only side unbeaten since the opening day of the season when they lost to Manchester United, quietly rising up the league standings to currently sit in sixth place and a great chance to go higher with a win on Monday night.


#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
brought to you by
Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight will shine on Bel Air this evening as the Friars from Archbishop Curley make the trip north to Harford County to take the field against the John Carroll Patriots. This is an important MIAA B-Conference game. A Curley (4-1 conference, 5-2 overall) win tonight would create a tie in the MIAA B standings with the edge going to the Friars as the result of head to head competition. A John Carroll (5-0 conference, 9-0 overall) win would give the Patriots the top spot in the MIAA B Conference heading into the MIAA B Conference Playoffs.

Archbishop Curley comes into tonight’s game with only two losses on the season. The combined losing margin for those two loses was four points. Friars head coach, Sean Murphy, has put together a team with a balanced offense that is putting an average of thirty points on the scoreboard each game. But, the Curley defense has a tough time against quality opponents. This season the Friars have held their weaker opponents to 6 points-per-game, but have allowed an average of 32 points against strong opponents. John Carroll -- undefeated in 9 games this season -- qualifies as a strong opponent.

Playing to maintain the number one seed tournament seed, Keith Rawlings’ John Carroll squad looks to keep doing what they do...and that is score points. In their nine games so far this season, the Patriots are scoring forty two points per-game. What they also do is play defense. On the season, John Carroll has held their opponents to an average of just sixteen points per game. Those are the stats. When you have two teams that do not like each other, playing in a game as important as this one, you can throw those stats out the window. Look for the Friars to play their best game of the season tonight. Look for the Patriots to do what they do. This is sure to another great #DMD High School Sports Spotlight game of the week.

Archbishop Curley vs. #8 John Carroll @ 7pm

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. Be sure to check in next week as we feature #1 Gilman vs. #4 McDonogh, in a game that may be for all of the marbles in the MIAA A Conference. Be sure to check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs too. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

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#3 on my top 10 favorite albums list

Bruce Springsteen, "Darkness On The Edge of Town"

With 18 studio albums, it's awfully hard to pick out my favorite from Bruce Springsteen, let alone rank it in my all time Top 10, which has now reached #3 with Springsteen's "Darkness On The Edge Of Town". Yes, "Born to Run" was a GREAT album. No doubt. So, too, was "Tunnel of Love", which has, in my opinion, the best song-writing of Springsteen's career. "Born in the USA" was terrific and so was the vastly underrated 2007 release, "Magic". And then, of course, there's "The Rising", which had a number of songs connected to the World Trade Center tragedy in 2001.

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But my favorite, without question, is "Darkness". All ten songs are memorable. All are different. "Racing In the Street" takes you on a journey through a small town in New Jersey on a summer night when you're trying to prove yourself with your car. "Factory", Springsteen has said, was written about his father, who worked the typical 9-5 job to support his family, came home "stinking up the house" Bruce once said, and never complained or whined about his plight.

If you just landed here from Pluto and said, "Play me one album that tells me everything I need to know about Springsteen's music", I'd play "Darkness" for you. It has everything Bruce has ever represented in his music; youth, cars, girls, the fight for self-esteem, the working life, and triumph. It's all in those 10 songs.

Bruce: Darkness on the Edge of Town
"Badlands"
Thursday
October 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 29

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here's one suggestion on how to "fix" nfl's officiating problem

NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino embarrassed himself on Wednesday when he tried his best to protect a referee who failed to see what all of us in the stadium saw on Monday night: Ravens' OL John Urschel running on the field and rubbing his number to I.D. himself as an eligible receiver.

Here's the Blandino excuse: “It’s important that the referee recognizes that, it’s important that the player gets a visual signal. You’ll see [Urschel], he is signaling to the referee. What the referee was actually doing at that moment, he was correcting a number from a foul on the previous play, and he just didn’t recognize [Urschel] signaling to him. … We didn’t recognize that he reported and that’s why the penalty was called.”

Such garbage. Blandino should have simply said, "As we see it now, on film, Urschel came on the field, faced the ref, signaled he was, in fact, eligible, and the referee somehow missed it. We fouled that one up." Instead, Blandino essentially tried to blame it on a confluence of circumstances that borders more on bad luck than anything else. Tell that to John Harbaugh, the guy who is coaching a (now) 1-6 football team.

And if the league had any balls at all, they'd make that sort of thing reviewable. How long would it have taken to put that whole sequence up under the screen for the refs on site to review? About 2.3 seconds. Which, if you've been paying attention lately, is about 117.7 seconds LESS than it takes to determine if a guy "completed the catch".

I'm here today, though, to offer a solution. Anyone can beat up the officials, and they're worthy of that scrutiny and occasional critcism because they're awful at times. But, as I see it, this is NOT about having "full-time" refs. None of the guys out there are unfamiliar with the rule book. They know it back to front. They know what a holding call is -- and isn't. It's simply whether or not they decide on that particular play to look for, identify and call a penalty. Remember the flag-fiasco in week three when the Bengals and Ravens got together in Baltimore and there were 22 penalties called? Four days later in Pittsburgh, each team was flagged 4 times. Are you really expecting us to believe one game had 22 penalties and one game had 8 and, somehow, the refs "got it right"? Yeah, sure.

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Back to the solution. And this is most certainly a "rough draft", so don't think all of this in etched in stone or my "final answer". But I think this or something akin to this should be looked at by the league and evaluated for legitimate consideration. I understand these suggestions would lead to outcry about "player safety" but as long as the league allows players to hit one another in the head with their own head, guys are going to be at risk. This, my solution, isn't about player safety at all. It's about making the games more fair.

I'll admit I stole the bulk of this idea from an event called "The Penguin Tour", which is a four-month winter amateur golf tour played on a handful of courses in the York, PA area. A decade or so ago, I was a regular on that tour. It started in late November and ran through the end of March, although much of the time it was only played until the first big snow hit in Southern Pennsylvania and then that was the end of the "tour" for the winter.

Anyway, on my first day playing The Penguin Tour, they handed out the rules and they looked like this:

1. You may move your ball anywhere on the course AS LONG AS IT IS IN BOUNDS -- one club length, no nearer the hole.

2. You may move your ball one club length in any hazard, including bunkers, but you may not take the ball outside of the hazard.

3. All putts must be holed.

And those were the rules for The Penguin Tour. In golfing terms, we called it "lift, clean and cheat", because moving your ball ANYWHERE is so diametrically opposite of what "real golf" is all about that you can only use the word "cheat" to define it. That said, the folks who ran the event figured out a way to keep people from cheating in their event; they simply let EVERYONE cheat. And, in a sport where only about 10% of those playing REALLY know the rules, it was a genius-move by The Penguin Tour. "We'll never field a complaint about someone cheating, moving the ball, not knowing the rules...because we'll just let everyone move it on every shot."

I think the NFL should seriously consider an adaptation of The Penguin Tour and do away with virtually every rule in the book. Let 'em hold, grab and clutch on every play. I would NOT allow blocking in the back. "Clipping" as we used to call it back when the games were actually watchable is simply too dangerous to allow, so that would still need to be called. But all of this other garbage about "illegal shift" and "neutral zone infraction" needs to go away. The game needs to be simplified and the rules should be relatively easy to digest:

1. Each team is trying to get the ball into the end zone. Use whatever form of trickery you need to do that. Line up however you want. Throw the ball to anyone you want. The only thing you CAN'T do is throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. Other than that, have at it.

That would literally be rule #1 of "Drew's NFL". Let's go back to playing checkers instead of chess. The game is much more simple to understand and checkers doesn't take nearly as long.

Yes, I'd allow holding. That would give the offense an advantage. But I'd counter that by allowing pass interference. Advantage defense. I'd let you do anything except grab the face mask. That's a penalty, still. Oh, and I'd probably outlaw tripping, too. You can't do that. The rest of it? All good. Clutch and grab to your heart's delight. They're doing it on just about every play anyway, right?

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Like I said, it needs some refining, but the general theory of the whole thing is designed to take pressure OFF of the officials and allow the players to decide things on their own. It's not that different than the backyard football games we played in Glen Burnie back in the 1970's. I also realize there's a significant trickle-down effect to the college, high school and youth levels and I haven't even thought about how "Drew's rules" would impact those games. Here's what I do know, though: The current way they're officiating the games ISN'T working and it hasn't worked for quite some time now. I don't pay much attention to college football anymore so I don't know if they have problems similar to those in the NFL, but at the big-boy level, with everyone in America watching every Sunday, they've ruined the game for the most part.

The mere fact that every TV network now has a referee (ironically, one that is no longer actually working in the league) in the booth or available to them via Skype to analyze on-field decisions and replay reviews tells you everything you need to know. It's THAT complicated. TOO complicated, in fact. So much so, they have a guy explaining it all to you because that's how hard it all is to understand.

It's not about "part time refs" or anything else. It's about too many rules. Period. It's about making the rules too complicated. It's about taking the game away from the players and allowing the officials to dictate the pace of the game and the manner in which it's played. Just go back and look at the comparison between the Ravens-Bengals game and the Ravens-Steelers game. One was choppy, full of penalties, and not very well played. The other was well handled, no one got their head knocked off despite only eight penalties, and the players decided the outcome and the officials were just there as traffic cops, nothing more. Forgetting the outcome, which game would YOU prefer to have watched? The one in Pittsburgh, of course.

And the answer most certainly isn't to change the current rules or refine the ones currently in existence. That, again, just adds to the interpretation process. GET RID OF MOST OF THE RULES, PERIOD. Give the referees six things to call instead of thirty six. Offsides stays. You can't get that sort of an advantage by jumping offsides on every play. Clipping stays. Face masking stays. Tripping stays. If you want to keep that silly "making contact with the quarterback's head" rule, that can stay too. That's just about it, though. That now gives the refs something VERY narrow to be looking for on every play. If you don't see one of those infractions, keep your flag in your pocket, sir.

I think the players would probably love hearing "the refs are going to be less involved". I'm sure the coaches would, too. And I think, as the rules get lifted and teams and players are free to do more stuff, the game(s) will flow better and the folks watching them will enjoy it all more.

Oh, and I'll add two other NEW rules -- even after saying I wouldn't -- just to appease people like me who are sick of these two things: Spinning the ball after you make a catch -- that's now a penalty. Just go back to the huddle, please. And waving your arms like a maniac and asking for a flag when you feel you've been interfered with -- that's now a penalty, too.

Wait a second -- interference in "Drew's rules" is now permitted. Defensive holding is acceptable. Therefore, we wouldn't need that rule about waving your arms and begging for a flag because you wouldn't be getting one, anyway. See? I just reduced the rule book by ONE more rule. And everyone would be fine with it, I bet.

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royals smash mets, 7-1, lead series 2-0 now

It's far from over, of course, but Kansas City assured themselves of either being a World Series champion in 2015 OR playing at least one more home game with last night's 7-1 win in Game 2. The Royals are up 2-0 heading to New York for Games 3, 4 and 5, if necessary.

Forty-one of the 51 teams to take 2-0 leads in a best-of-seven World Series have gone on to win the title, including nine straight since Atlanta stumbled against the New York Yankees in 1996.

On Wednesday night, K.C. starting pitcher Johnny Cueto allowed just two hits -- both by Lucas Duda -- and tossed a complete game to bring the Royals to within two wins of the world series title. Eric Hosmer, the hero from Game 1 on Tuesday night, hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in Wednesday's Game 2 in a four-run fifth inning that included 14 foul balls.


#4 on my top 10 favorite albums list

Number 4 -- Rush, "Moving Pictures"

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These guys put out some remarkable records, and by own admission, I haven't listened to anything "new" from them over the last decade or so. My true interest in the Canadian trio -- album wise -- ended with Power Windows, but I know plenty of folks who contend their work in the 2000's has been just as good as some of the amazing stuff they put out in the 1970's and 1980's.

"Moving Pictures" narrowly edged out "Hemispheres" as my favorite all-time Rush album, and it's #4 on my personal list of favorites. EVERY SINGLE SONG is quality on this album. From the over-played but still memorable "Tom Sawyer" to my favorite Rush song of all-time "The Camera Eye", "Moving Pictures" is a terrific album that I've probably listened to well over 1,000 times in the last thirty years.

Rush: Moving Pictures
"Red Barchetta"

Wednesday
October 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 28

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the curious case of joe flacco just keeps getting more curious

We waited so long to get a real quarterback in Baltimore that we probably should just take whatever we get from Joe Flacco and be happy with it. He is, after all, the best quarterback we've had in town since Vinny Testaverde and there are lots of folks who would argue he's better than Testaverde.

The argument of whether or not Flacco is "elite" is old, tiring and, thankfully, yesterday's news. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. If you think a guy who quarterbacked a team to three AFC title games and was the Super Bowl MVP in his 5th season in the league is "elite", you're probably right. If you think it's more about statistics, completion percentage, technique AND winning games and that Flacco falls just shy of elite status, you're probably right as well. It's only a word and it's literally not worth arguing over anymore.

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The Ravens' QB might have this look on his face during the off-season when he hears what the club is looking to pay him next season as part of a contract re-structure.

That said, the 1-6 start to the Ravens' 2015 season has created quite a chasm in the Baltimore sports community: those who think Flacco has done enough vs. those who think he should be doing more. In the old days when Kyle Boller stumbled and bumbled his way around five uneventful seasons in Baltimore, there was little chance you'd find someone in town who would support his lackluster play. Flacco, though, has a vast number of ardent supporters -- me included -- who believe he's as responsible for the team's high level of play over the last seven seasons as any one player on the roster. He also has a group of detractors -- growing by the week it seems -- who feel he's overpaid and not of the same ilk as guys like Brady and Rodgers who seemingly play the position with more grace and flair than Flacco shows.

It's not unique to Baltimore, but we as a sports community have long been afflicted with the issue of criticizing one of our own. Maybe it's that small Eastern-seaboard-state mentality that gives us our collective chip on our shoulders, but we don't like hearing how one of our athletes is stinking up the joint. Even when they are.

I'm a Joe Flacco fan through and through. I think he's been outstanding since he showed up here in 2008 and started every game as a rookie. A large chunk of the Ravens' success over the last seven years can be pinned on him which, by the way, is the reason he signed a $120 million contract a couple of years ago.

I'm also a guy who believes Flacco has not played particularly well this season. While I'm in no way blaming him for the club's 1-6 start, I will go as far as to say he hasn't played up to the level of expectations I (we) have for him. Part of the scrutiny is related to the money he makes, without question. And part of the scrutiny is connected to the comparisons that are inevitably made to other high quality quarterbacks around the league. I ask people this question all the time: "Would the Ravens be 1-6 if Aaron Rodgers quarterbacked the team? Or Brady? Or, even, Roethlisberger or Brees?" My answer -- and my opinion -- is "the club would have more than one win with those guys at quarterback".

Oh, and I'm fully aware that Flacco has no one to throw to this season. That's a MAJOR problem, as we all know. The only guy worth his salt as a receiver is Steve Smith. The rest are water cooler carriers, nothing more. And I also know the offensive line is "just OK" and nothing more.

When you're a $120 million quarterback (granted, half of that is tied into the final three seasons of Joe's contract that will likely get re-negotiated at the end of this season), it's your job to figure out how to make chicken salad out of chicken manure. It's a strange, twisting journey on how to get rich -- you have a better supporting cast when you're broke and trying to make it big...then you use that cast to get yourself rich...and then they give you bottom feeders once you've made it to the top and tell you to make THOSE guys better the way others made YOU better when you were first starting out. That's where Flacco is right now. By nature and salary, he's supposed to be making Marlon Brown a better player.

The Ravens have had three games this season where Flacco had the game on his racket in the final two minutes and he couldn't deliver the big score. You can even throw Oakland in there if you want, although the team's final significant drive of the 4th quarter occurred outside of that two-minute window. If you count that Raiders game -- and throw in the Pittsburgh game where he worked the offense down the field into position for a game-tying field goal at the buzzer -- the club is 1-4 in those contests where it was on Flacco to put-up-or-shut-up. The true blue Flacco fan would say "he hit Steve Smith in the face mask in Denver, or, the defense let him down in a couple of those games" (I'd agree with those claims, by the way) while the other observer would say, "Flacco is the guy who is paid to get the team in the end zone and he didn't do it." I don't disagree with those folks, either.

It's not ALL about money, but once you get paid the big bucks in sports, you're the one who has to defend that level of pay you've been given by performing at a higher level than you have in the past. It's not always possible to do that, of course. I've made this argument AGAINST re-signing Chris Davis in recent weeks; If you paid him $12 million and he hit you 45 HR's, he's not going to hit you 75 HR's if you pay him $22 million. In Flacco's case, he's getting $15 million or so per-season because of what he DID in 2012, mostly, not because his play over the next three seasons or more will dictate that he's a $15 million dollar player.

I expect Flacco to win games because that's what great quarterbacks do. And while I don't think Rodgers or Brady would be 6-1 with this group of misfits, I'm also quite certain they wouldn't be 1-6 with them, either. And that's why I think Flacco isn't getting the job done thus far in 2015. He's part of the problem, thus far, not part of the solution.

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world series: royals take game one in fourteen innings

If the 2015 World Series is going to be that good, we're in for quite a treat. Game One of the Fall Classic went to the Royals last night, 5-4, on Eric Hosmer's 14th inning sacrifice fly that atoned for his 8th inning error that nearly put Kansas City in a 1-0 series hole.

K.C. trailed 4-3 heading to the bottom of the 9th, but an Alex Gordon home run tied things up and sent the game to extra innings, where the Royals needed five extra-innings to pull off the victory. Interestingly enough, Hosmer's bat flip on the game-winning sac fly drew almost no social media reaction after the game. Perhaps that's because the game ended at 2 am and no one was awake to see it or, maybe Bud Norris and some others in baseball were right; maybe it's a Dominican thing. Whatever the case, Hosmer's winning effort off of Bartolo Colon gave the Royals a 1-0 lead in the series.

Game 2 is tonight (8:07 pm EDT) with Jacob deGrom going for the Mets and Johnny Cueto on the mound for Kansas City.


eagle's nest makes formal announcement on club's future

As most of you know, I'm a member at Eagle's Nest Country Club, so it's with great personal pleasure that I share the message below with all of you. If you've been considering joining a golf club (which also features championship tennis courts and an outstanding pool and events calendar), now's the time to seriously think about joining Eagle's Nest. E-mail me (18inarow@gmail.com) and I'll be happy to meet you out there one day soon and show you around.

The formal announcment of the club's recent bank-debt payoff is below:

Members of Eagle’s Nest Country Club recently celebrated the club’s retirement of its bank debt, reversing a national trend that has seen the closure of many country clubs in similar circumstances. Eagle’s Nest members banded together to raise the funds necessary to pay off the club’s bank debt and to ensure the club’s future as a truly member-owned facility.

“This is such a huge accomplishment,” said President Bart O’Brien of the members’ efforts. “Together we have accomplished something few clubs have ever done. Many clubs around the country and in our local area are struggling to survive; for our membership to step up like they have and to resolve our long term debt issue says a lot about their dedication to Eagle’s Nest.”

“We’re thrilled we’ve been able to ensure the future of a place we all care so deeply about and one that has made countless memories for our membership over the course of the past 45 years,” added President-elect Mary Kay Mosch. “We look forward to serving both current and future members for many, many years to come.”

A fixture in the Loch Raven watershed area since 1970, Eagle’s Nest (formerly known as Towson Golf and Country Club) occupies a portion of a historical tract of land that traces its roots to 1684.


the #5 album on my all-time top 10

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Interestingly enough, Pete Yorn's album, "Musicforthemorningafter" (yes, all one word), is the only album in my Top 5 that came out after 2000. Released in 2001, this was the debut album from Yorn, a New Jersey native who wouldn't probably be offended if I called him "Springsteen Lite". He put out several outstanding records after his debut album, but "Musicforthemorningafter" is a phenomenal piece of music that includes a handful of outstanding songs, including "Life on a Chain", "Murray", "Closet", "On your Side" and "Sleep Better".

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.

It's hard not to feel for Joe Flacco. There he was trying to will his team down the field for an improbable comeback win at Arizona -- which the Cardinals did their best to give away with some suspect play-calling down the stretch -- and he had to do it with a bargain-bin passing game basically held together with duct tape.

There are a lot of reasons, a lot of culprits behind the disaster of a season that is unfolding in Baltimore in 2015. True, there have been major injuries. And the secondary is a mess -- again. But in Arizona, another issue was once again painfully clear: The Ravens somehow thought Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown would be viable offensive weapons. Now seven games into the season, with both of them given more than enough opportunity, they have proved that their ceiling in the NFL is nowhere near what the Ravens apparently thought or hoped for.

Granted, both were undrafted, with Aiken coming to the team originally as a practice squad acquisition. So the Ravens didn't have a huge investment in either. Still, at some point this summer and early fall, before and even after top draft pick Breshad Perriman was injured, the Ravens looked at Aiken and Brown near the top of the receiver depth chart and appeared to be content. That seems to have been a terrible miscalculation.

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Is it time for Kamar Aiken to take a seat and make room for rookies Waller and Butler?

Aiken started at Arizona as the No. 2 receiver and played 52 snaps. He caught one pass for 6 yards. Against Cincinnati, Aiken played 63 snaps and did not catch a pass. In the season opener against the Broncos, he had one catch for minus-1 yard. This is a No. 2 receiver? To be fair, Aiken has had his moments. He had 78 yards on four catches in the first half against Cleveland but somehow never saw the ball again. And he had a career-high 89 yards receiving at Oakland. Although Aiken has occasionally come down with the tough catch, he isn't getting separation, isn't getting open, isn't getting nearly involved enough in the Ravens offense.

As for Brown, whatever magic the Ravens found from him as a rookie two years ago is long gone. Watching him now, it's hard to imagine he put up the numbers he did as a rookie -- 49 catches for 524 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown made a season-high three catches at Arizona -- totaling 22 yards -- but he has not recorded more than 29 yards in a game all season. And against the Cardinals, Brown had another potential catch doink off his hands, which has been a consistent problem.

At this point, the Ravens should look elsewhere. Against Arizona, Chris Givens probably had the best game of any receiver not named Steve Smith. Givens twice got two steps behind the Cardinals defense. One should have been a touchdown, but Flacco's throw was underthrown and Tyrann Mathieu tipped the ball away. The other was a 31-yard grab on the Ravens final drive. With Perriman on the shelf, Givens -- whom the Ravens traded for earlier this month -- is the Ravens best and only true deep threat.

Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman should start calling for more deep balls his way. What do they have to lose at this point? Same with rookie project Darren Waller. The Ravens might as well get an extended look at him. Could he be any more invisible than Brown has been at times this year? And while they're at it, go ahead and get Jeremy Butler involved. He was just activated from the practice squad.

Maybe on a good team, Aiken or Brown could be a No. 5 receiver and special teamer. But the fact that Aiken has been the Ravens No. 2 receiver and has started six of the first seven games speaks volumes about the 2015 season.

Tuesday
October 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 27

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cardinals tried to give ravens the game, but they didn’t want it either

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

I authored that quote back in the mid 1990’s or thereabouts when I was the GM of the local indoor soccer team. I don’t remember the circumstances by which I created that statement, but it dawned on me at some point that nothing in sports is harder than trying to break a losing streak. There’s no manual for it, no Internet site to surf, no pill to take and, generally, no “expert” who can come in and tell you how to stop losing.

That’s precisely where the Ravens are right now, situated at 1-6 on the season and losers of three straight games after Monday night’s 26-18 defeat in Arizona. They’re trying to win, of course, but something’s always getting in the way. Mostly themselves.

On Monday night, a lot of things got in the way. I’m never a ref basher, because I’m smart enough to know the refs are botching calls against BOTH teams, but Monday night’s performance by the officials was a complete farce. The league should be ashamed to have that crew involved in a high-profile game like a Monday Night affair where the whole world can watch them adversely impact the outcome of the game. To wit, they nearly cost the Cardinals the game in the final few minutes when they completely missed a Ravens’ player offsides on the blocked punt that eventually led to the TD that pulled Baltimore to within eight points (once they made the two-point conversion, of course). They missed a fairly obvious pass interference penalty on the game-deciding interception that Flacco threw in the direction of Crockett Gilmore. True, the pass wasn't very well thrown, but it's tough to throw off of your back foot -- again -- and have a healthy combination of pace on the ball and accuracy, too. In any case, Gilmore was interfered with and the flags were nowhere to be seen.

So, yes, the refs stunk on Monday night. No two ways about it.

But the refs didn’t shoot the Ravens in the foot. The Ravens shot themselves in the foot, which is once again how they wound up on the short end of the scoreboard. The fumbled punt in the second quarter changed the game, period. The Ravens might very well have buzzed down the field just before half and gone ahead 13-7 or – gasp! – even 17-7 if they could have put the ball in the end zone. Instead, they fumble the punt and a minute or so later, were trailing 14-10. That’s how you lose football games.

The Cardinals should have set a league record for pass attempts on Monday night. Had they thrown the ball 70 times, they probably would have scored at least 49 points. I’m always amazed at how NFL coaches continually eschew the OBVIOUS scheme or formation and try to trick the other team or make them sell out on the least effective thing they do. In Arizona’s case, they have a decent running game, but the Baltimore secondary is – I’ll be kind here – just downright awful. If I’m coaching against the Ravens, I say to my quarterback, “We’re throwing it on every play unless it’s 3rd and 1. Then, and only then, we might run the ball.”

The Ravens are now an unthinkable 1-6 but they’ve played much more like a 3-4 or 4-3 team. The reality of the league is this: There are 32 teams in the league. There are two truly outstanding teams; New England and Green Bay. There are two other teams who “look the part” but need to work their way through a playoff game or two before they can be dubbed outstanding; Cincinnati and Carolina. The other 28 teams – yes, including Denver, the luckiest undefeated team in league history, perhaps – are either good or bad, depending on the game that week. The Ravens are 1-6, and yet there’s little doubt they’re probably just as good, if not better, than the 4-3 Steelers “on any given Sunday.” In fact, they WERE better than the Steelers back on October 1st when they claimed their only win of the season to date.

But, the Ravens are 1-6 for a reason. They can’t stop losing. And one of their tendencies this season has become a legitimate problem for Joe Flacco as he enters what is surely going to be a contract re-structuring off-season for him. He can’t close games anymore. Yes, I’m aware he can’t throw it AND catch it. I know that. But in three of the team’s six losses to date, Flacco and the offense had the ball in the red zone in the game’s final minute and couldn’t produce the game-winning score. It happened in the opener against Denver, the home loss to Cleveland and then again last night in Arizona. As much as Joe needs receivers, he also needs to figure out a way to get the best out of what he has at his disposal. That’s why he makes $15 million dollars a year. He’s the guy who makes the most money . . . he has an obligation to get the team some wins ON HIS DIME.

Poor execution, incompetent refs, questionable coaching, lack of talent, bad luck – it all adds up to another loss, week in and week out. And I don’t see the losing ending anytime soon.

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ciletti-fitzgerald win wigwam
two-man team title

The team of Country Club of Maryland members Joe Ciletti and Tom Fitzgerald combined for a net score of 5-under 67 and won the Wigwam Two-Man Team Championship by a score of 2&1 over Drew Forrester and Greg Ruark on Monday morning at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield, Arizona. The four-day event, comprised of eight two-man teams from Baltimore, concluded with Fitzgerald making five crucial pars (for net birdies) and Ciletti adding two par-net-birdie efforts on his own.

Ciletti and Fitzgerald

Forrester and Ruark played 72 holes at 12-under-net, but were only able to post a 3-under-net 69 in Monday’s championship round.

In the 3rd-place match, Dave Klaes and Steve Hanssen defeated Tony Seaman and Pat Stringer, 5&4.

Shawn Shannon and Joe Orlando won 3&2 over Matt Adler and Scott Brown in the 5th-place match and Mark Carmen and Barry Rollins defeated Brian Hubbard and Sean Ryan in the 7th-place match.

The event was part of #DMD’s trip to Arizona to see the Ravens and Cardinals on Monday night and all play was conducted at the outstanding Wigwam Resort, just 15 minutes outside of downtown Phoenix.

Championship Monday

Team Spieth vs. Team Day
Forrester and Ruark Ciletti and Fitzgerald
Win: 2&1
Seaman and Stringer Klaes and Hanssen
Win: 5&4
Adler and Brown Orlando and Shannon
Win: 3&2
Hubbard and Ryan Carmen and Rollins
Win: 5&4
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my #7 and #6 favorite albums of all-time

I didn't include my #7 favorite album of all time in Monday's #DMD as it was dedicated to Ravens coverage, plus our golfing trip in Arizona, so I'll make up for it today with both the #7 and #6 albums on my "all-time-favorites list."

#7 Jason Mraz: Waiting For My Rocket To Come


Jason Mraz album cover

This is a remarkable album from Mraz, which came out in 2002 as his major-label debut and had an array of high-quality songs, including his first big hit, "You and I both." It also contained my favorite Mraz song EVER, "Sleep All Day," plus the poppy, feel-good tune, "No Stopping Us." This was one of my favorite albums of the 2000's.

#6 Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty


Beastie Boys album cover

It's awfully hard to pick out one Beastie Boys album as my favorite, but this one wins out narrowly over Ill Communication, mainly because my favorite Beasties song of all time (Super Disco Breakin') is on the album. It has also features one of their biggest hits (Intergalatic) plus a great song near the end of the album called "Unite" that starts off with the memorable lyrics: "Goin' off the hook like Latrell Spreewell . . . . "



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Monday
October 26
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 15
Issue 26
Baltimore Ravens vs. Arizona Cardinals

8:30 PM EDT

University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ

ravens become 2015 doormat
with loss tonight

The Ravens have never been in the position they’re facing tonight, so there’s no real precedent for how they’re going to react when they take on the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football.

A pre-season Super Bowl pick by more than one “expert” NFL observer, the Ravens come in to this game at 1-5 while the Cardinals are 4-2, having lost last Sunday in Pittsburgh to the shorthanded Steelers. It’s not a great recipe for John Harbaugh’s team as they play their fifth road game of the season tonight.

Ravens doormat

A loss tonight would not only put Baltimore at 1-6 and almost literally end their playoff hopes before Halloween arrives, but it would make them a league doormat for the first time under John Harbaugh. Never before – with Harbaugh and Flacco in Baltimore – have teams licked their chops at the thought of the Ravens coming up on their schedule, but that would almost certainly change if Arizona pins another loss on Baltimore this evening.

For the first time under Harbaugh, we’d all know how the Cleveland Browns and their fans feel every year. It’s not pretty.


On a personal note, I’m in Phoenix for the game and genuinely excited to see the Ravens do battle with the Cardinals. I’m not expecting much, as you’ll see in my prediction, below, but I’m happy to be here and still rooting for the club whether they’re 1-5 or 5-1.


Also, one note of clarification about my NFL picks on Sunday. Somehow, my fifth pick of the day was deleted when I went to post everything here from Phoenix and it did not make the Sunday edition of #DMD. Wouldn’t you know it, it was the only game I would have won, as I took the Rams to beat the Browns, 24-16. But, like a good, honest gambler, I will NOT take that as a win and will instead use tonight’s Ravens-Cardinals game as my 5th pick. I’ll take the Cardinals (-7.5 points).

[Editor's note: True dat. My fault. No excuse. Sorry.]


On a #DMD note, we’re excited today to officially welcome our very first Avon Independent Sales Representative to the #DMD family, as Nicole Makhnichenko is on board to help YOU with your holiday shopping and any special household product needs you might have for you, your wife or your family.

Winslow

Avon works directly with, as well as donates to, many charities that improve the lives of women and their families.

Advantages to shopping with Avon include the following:

Avon promotes breast cancer research as well as efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence.

Avon has raised funds through fundraising as well as other special events.

Avon not only offers beauty products for women, but they offer products for men and children, as well as household products.

Avon products are innovative, but affordable. The company has been in business for over 125 years and is a well known, quality brand. Alliances with celebrities help to boost sales and visibility.

With the holidays quickly approaching, all of us men out there are constantly looking for new, innovative gift ideas and “one-stop-shopping” that makes everything quick and easy for us. Well, Nicole and her Avon products are perfect for those needs!

To reach Nicole and talk about her Avon line and what products might be good for you, give her a call at 443-504-9857. You can also access her personal Avon web-page by clicking here.

Welcome aboard, Nicole, and we wish you great luck with your Avon line here at #DMD!

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today's main storylines:
ravens vs. cardinals

*Can the Ravens avoid a thrashing? -- I can’t even believe I’m writing that, but I’m VERY fearful this could be a colossal blow-out tonight in Glendale. The Cardinals can throw the ball with the best of ‘em and the patchwork Baltimore secondary is ripe for a throw-and-catch-a-thon. The defensive match-up isn’t match-up better, as Arizona is formidable in the secondary and the Baltimore offense is very much Jekyll and Hyde. Which Flacco shows up tonight? Which running game shows up? Which receivers? Who knows…

*Don’t turn the ball over -- Easier said than done, I know, but the Ravens simply must limit the amount of possessions the Arizona offense gets tonight. If the Cardinals get the ball in their hands upwards of 16 times or more, that spells trouble for the Baltimore defense. If the Ravens can use some clock, keep the ball in THEIR possession and perhaps only allow the Arizona offense something like 12 or 13 trips on the field, that’s a decent recipe for success.

*Let Flacco hurry it up -- I wrote this last Sunday against the 49’ers and it’s staying up for this week’s game in Arizona. The Ravens need to put Flacco in the position he’s most comfortable with, and that, without a doubt, is the hurry-up offense. That doesn’t mean every three downs has to be no-huddle, but at least once per-quarter, the Ravens should allow Flacco to run that particular series from the hurry-up formation. It will keep Arizona on their heels a little bit and could open up the passing game for a big play downfield. Yes, it also increases the chances of a turnover, too, but at 1-5 and facing a huge road game against a heavily favored Cardinals team, I say “throw caution to the wind” a little bit and put the game in Joe’s hands.

*Make Palmer uncomfortable -- One way for the Ravens to stay in this game is to keep Carson Palmer a little nervous back there and chasing him around in the pocket will do just that. It’s paramount that Baltimore’s pass rush impacts the game, somehow, which means the likes of Dumervil, Mosley and even Brandon Williams have to put forth their respective “A games” tonight. If Palmer stays upright and clean for 60 minutes, it’s going to be a long night for the Baltimore defense.

Here’s how Drew sees tonight’s game:

I wish I felt better about this one but I just don’t. I’m really afraid the Cardinals are going to put a pounding on the Ravens and their shaggy defensive backfield, particularly once Palmer and Company get comfortable with the fact that none of the Ravens cornerbacks prefer to play press coverage at the line of scrimmage. They’re going to short-pass the Ravens into playing press, and that’s when the real trouble begins back there.

This one starts out ugly, as Arizona goes up 14-0 in the first quarter, but the Ravens get their legs under them and make it a 17-13 game at the half. Unfortunately, that’s as close as they’ll get, as Arizona goes up 28-13 and eventually closes it out with a late TD to make the final 38-20.


percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game vs. Arizona and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

66% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the Cardinals win today?"

62% - Chances of the Cardinals holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

26% - The chances Flacco doesn't throw an interception?

65% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 100 yards?

70% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

2% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?

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we’ve reached the final round of our 4-day golf event in phoenix

Sixteen of us boarded a plane on Friday morning at BWI and headed west for Phoenix, where we’ve been competing in a match-play golf tournament all weekend at The Wigwam Resort in Litchfield, AZ. Ten of the travelers are from the Country Club of Maryland, which has made for four days of lots of laughs as they needle each other endlessly in between golf shots and an occasional cold beverage or two! It’s been a blast, to say the least.

Wigwam resort

Yesterday was the final round of the head-to-head matches that determined seeding for today’s championship match and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place matches.

In the Spieth Division, the team of Drew Forrester and Greg Ruark secured a spot in Monday’s championship final when they won the front-nine point — and the two would go on to narrowly defeat Matt Adler and Scott Brown by just one hole overall to claim 2.5 of the available 3 points on the day

Forrester (Eagle’s Nest) and Ruark (Mount Pleasant) will face Joe Ciletti (CC of Maryland) and Tom Fitzgerald (CC of Maryland) in the Final after Ciletti and Fitzgerald defeated Dave Klaes and Steve Hanssen (both of CC of Maryland) in the Day Division on Sunday. With a trip to the finals at stake in their match, Ciletti and Fitzgerald won all three available points.

The complete list of matches and today’s schedule is below, but almost without question, any of the teams could have played in today’s final. Every match was that close. In fact, of the 12 matches contested on Friday and Saturday, only four of them failed to go to the 18th hole.

Championship Monday

Team Spieth vs. Team Day
Spieth Winner Forrester
Ruark
Ciletti
Fitzgerald
Day Winner
Spieth 2nd Team Seaman
Stringer
Klaes
Hanssen
Day 2nd Team
Spieth 3rd Team Adler
Brown
Orlando
Shannon
Day 3rd Team
Spieth 4th Team Hubbard
Ryan
Carmen
Rollins
Day 4th Team
Sunday Morning Fourballs
Day Division
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
1.5
(total: 2.5)
1.5
(total: 2.0)
Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
0.0
(total: 5.5)
3.0
(total: 8.0)
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti
Spieth Division
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
2.5
(total: 7.5)
0.5
(total: 3.5)
Matt Adler
Scott Brown
Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer
1.5
(total: 4.0)
1.5
(total: 3.0)
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
Saturday Afternoon Fourballs
Day Division
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti
2.5
(total: 5.0)
0.5
(total: 1.0)
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
0.0
(total: 0.5)
3.0
(total: 5.5)
Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
Spieth Division
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
3.0
(total: 5.0)
0.0
(total: 1.5)
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer
1.5
(total: 2.5)
1.5
(total: 3.0)
Matt Adler
Scott Brown
Saturday Morning Fourballs
Day Division
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
0.5 2.5 Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti
2.5 0.5 Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
Spieth Division
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
1.5 1.5 Matt Adler
Scott Brown
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
2.0 1.0 Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer

Sunday
October 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 25

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i’m pulling for k.c. to win
the world series

No matter who wins the 2015 World Series, it’s a great story. If the Mets win, it would complete an epic run that saw them turn a 52-50 record in July into a world title. And, oh, by the way, not one baseball nerd or talking head armed with all of those “advanced metrics” ever thought the Mets would win the World Series when predictions were published last spring.

Winslow

And Kansas City seems to be the team of destiny, particularly when you consider they were one ball in-the-gap away from winning the title at home in Game 7 last year before falling to the Giants. In this year’s ALDS, they trailed Houston, 6-2, in the 8th inning before rallying to win there and then at home in Game 5. They were as close to being done as they could be before making the Astros’ bullpen pay for their mistakes and advancing to the ALCS, where they disposed of the Blue Jays in six games.

It’s easy to admit that I’m wildly jealous of the Royals and what they’ve done in the last two years. We haven’t sniffed a World Series game in Baltimore since 1983 and, here, now, the Royals are enjoying their second straight trip to the Fall Classic.

I also have to admit I like their team. They play hard, play with enthusiasm and genuinely seem to enjoy playing for one another. I have to laugh when fans in Baltimore (and this happens everywhere, not just in Charm City) talk about how “arrogant” the Royals are…as if our players are never that way. No one worries about how arrogant the last place team looks, of course.

So, I’m pulling for the Royals over the next couple of weeks, but I won’t care either way, honestly. If the Mets win, that would be great for their legion of fans in New York who have lived in the shadow of the Yankees forever and haven’t sniffed a World Series trip in fifteen years.

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put your money
where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only," although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

I had a great “rebound week” in Week 6, going 4-1 and hitting my “Best Bet” too. I have a long way to get back to even, but 4-1 is better than 1-4!

Here’s how I see things in Week 7, which, by the way, has a lot of stinky games. I don’t feel very good about any of these match-ups below, in all honesty.

STEELERS AT CHIEFS (-2.5): The Steelers somehow beat the Cardinals last Sunday with their 3rd string quarterback. I think that tells us more about home field in the NFL than anything else. That said, the Chiefs have the home field today and I don’t think they can beat Pittsburgh, let alone cover. Perhaps the Chiefs get back on track today, but I’m not buying it. Take the Steelers and the 2.5 points here, as Pittsburgh wins a bore-fest, 16-13.

JETS AT PATRIOTS (-10): Man, Vegas really loves New England, huh? Ten point favorites in a division game is relatively unheard of, particularly when one team is 5-0 and the other is 4-1. This is a statement game for the Jets and just another chance for New England to flex their muscles, which they’ll do in a big way. I’m going with the Patriots to win this one, 33-20.

RAIDERS AT CHARGERS (-3.5): This is my “Game of the Day” from a betting standpoint. I don’t see any the Raiders can stop Rivers and San Diego’s offense. I know the Raiders have two wins, but look who they beat: Baltimore and Cleveland (boy, that sure does look weird…huh?). Let’s go with San Diego to win here, easily, 29-17.

SAINTS AT COLTS (-4): That was a weird one for the Colts on Sunday Night vs. New England, as they actually played the Patriots pretty tough, but there was that one trick play…you might have heard about it by now! LOL – Anyway, I think Indy bounces back today and wins, so let's go with Colts to win and cover, 27-20.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: I’m going to take the Chargers (-3.5) over the Raiders as my go-to-game today. I just can’t see Oakland winning or keeping it all that close.

Category Winners Losers
Last Week's Record 4 1
Season Record to Date 12 18
Best Bets, For the Season 4 2
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day one results for our wigwam two-man team championship

It gets late early in Phoenix these days, so we weren’t able to finish our planned 36 holes of golf on Saturday, but the competition was fierce and lots of good golf was played in day one of #DMD’s Two-Man Team Championship at the Wigwam Resort in Phoenix. The event is a better-ball of partners playing for a point on the front nine, back nine, and overall. There are four teams in each division (the Day Division and the Spieth Division), with the two teams finishing with the most points playing for the championship on Monday before we head to the Ravens/Cardinals game.

Saturday Morning Fourballs
Day Division
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
0.5 2.5 Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti
2.5 0.5 Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
Spieth Division
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
1.5 1.5 Matt Adler
Scott Brown
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
2.0 1.0 Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer


Saturday Afternoon Fourballs
Day Division
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti
2.5
(total: 5.0)
0.5
(total: 1.0)
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
0.0
(total: 0.5)
3.0
(total: 5.5)
Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
Spieth Division
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
3.0
(total: 5.0)
0.0
(total: 1.5)
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer
1.5
(total: 2.5)
1.5
(total: 3.0)
Matt Adler
Scott Brown


Sunday Morning Fourballs
Spieth Division
Drew Forrester
Greg Ruark
2.5
(total: 7.5)
0.5
(total: 3.5)
Matt Adler
Scott Brown
Tony Seaman
Pat Stringer
1.5
(total: 4.0)
1.5
(total: 3.0)
Brian Hubbard
Sean Ryan
Day Division
Joe Orlando
Shawn Shannon
1.5
(total: 2.5)
1.5
(total: 2.0)
Mark Carmen
Barry Rollins
Dave Klaes
Steve Hanssen
0.0
(total: 5.5)
3.0
(total: 8.0)
Tom Fitzgerald
Joe Ciletti


Championship Monday

Team Spieth vs. Team Day
Spieth Winner Forrester
Ruark
Ciletti
Fitzgerald
Day Winner
Spieth 2nd Team Seaman
Stringer
Klaes
Hanssen
Day 2nd Team
Spieth 3rd Team Adler
Brown
Orlando
Shannon
Day 3rd Team
Spieth 4th Team Hubbard
Ryan
Carmen
Rollins
Day 4th Team
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here's #8 on my top 10
favorite albums of all-time


The Cars: Candy-O (1979)

Candy-O album cover

Everyone raved about The Cars' debut album and with good reason, but their second release, Candy-O, was much better musically. It contained FOUR great songs; "Since I Held You," "It's All I Can Do," "Got A Lot On My Head," and "Dangerous Type." The big hit on the album, of course, was "Let's Go," and it was indeed a terrific song, but if I had one song to play from the Candy-O album, I'd play "It's All I Can Do," which might be my favorite Cars song of all time.

I loved this band. And this was a phenomenal album that really bolted them into the spotlight because it proved, among other things, that their smash debut album wasn't a fluke.

Saturday
October 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 24

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chasing the little white ball
and the ravens
all the way to phoenix

So, here I am, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Winslow
Street corner in Winslow, Arizona

I’m not standing on a corner in Winslow, or anything like that, but it’s a cool place to be spending the next four days, I can assure you of that. I put together a golf trip back in the spring when I saw the Ravens were in Arizona for a Monday night tilt in late October and, lo and behold, sixteen of us are out here for golf and football before we return home on Tuesday morning.

We departed at O-dark-thirty on Friday morning from BWI and arrived at our destination–the Wigwam Resort–just in time for our 12:45 pm MST tee-time. We had a get-to-know-the-course practice round that doubled as a four-man better-ball tournament yesterday, preparing us for our three-day “event” that will pit eight two-man teams against one another in a member-guest format.

Our group shared some wine and laughs last night, had a nice meal , and hit the sack early, our bodies still suffering from the three-hour time difference.

Oh, and we’re going to the Ravens-Cardinals game on Monday night, of course.

In the meantime, it’s golf, golf and more golf. We have 36 holes scheduled for today and then 18 on both Sunday and Monday. We’ll eventually crown a “champion” two-man team for the trip. I’ll keep you up-to-date on it all over the next few days.

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.

The Ravens are back on national television on Monday night, but unless something changes dramatically, that only means the entire nation will see that in 2015, the Ravens are not-ready-for-prime-time players. The Ravens will need to play much, much better than they have to hang on the road at an Arizona team that is 4-2, is putting up 33.8 points a game and boasts a top-10 offense and top-10 defense.

What will it take for the Ravens to pull off the upset? Here are five keys to the game:

Joe Flacco has to be smart.

Granted, Flacco will need to play well. That is pretty obvious every week. But he also needs to be smart with the ball. Flacco has made some awful decisions this year, perhaps none worse than his downfield heave against the 49ers that turned into an easy interception. Flacco said he was just trying to throw the ball away and did not expect a defender to be there. After the game, he called the pass “a really dumb play.” Flacco also has thrown a couple of other interceptions this year in which he admitted afterward he didn’t see or expect the defender to be there. He needs to be smarter than that against a team that leads the league with 11 interceptions.

The Ravens defense needs to get off the field on third down.

Yes, this issue keeps popping up. The Ravens remain 31st in the league in third-down defense, with opponents converting on third down 47.8 percent of the time. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees correctly noted that costly penalties have played a role in that, but so have defensive breakdowns and poor coverage. Even getting teams into third-and-long hasn’t helped much; opponents are 4-for-6 against the Ravens when facing third-and-11-to-15.

And the offense has to stay on the field on third down.

Much has been made of the Ravens defensive struggles on third down, but the offense hasn’t been much better. The Ravens rank 25th in third-down conversions at 33.3 percent. That leads to too many three-and-outs followed by too many snaps for the defense, which coach John Harbaugh has said has been a factor in too many missed tackles. Perhaps the most frustrating thing has been the Ravens’ inability to convert on third-and-short. They are 0-for-6 this season when passing on third-and-2-or-less. Contrast that with their opponents, who are 8-for-10 in such situations. At least twice this year, the Ravens have thrown deep on third-and-1. That doesn’t seem to be the smartest call with this group of receivers. Then again, the Ravens are only 5-for-10 when running on third-and-1.

Blitzing needs to work.

Derek Carr and Josh McCown riddled the Ravens when they had time to throw. Can you imagine what Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and company will do if Palmer has time? A three-man rush won’t get it done. The Ravens have been bringing pressure, but if it doesn’t get to the quarterback, the Ravens secondary is left exposed. Keep in mind the Ravens might be playing without starting free safety Kendrick Lewis (knee) and backup Terrence Brooks (thumb). Palmer has been sacked eight times in six games, but somehow the Ravens need to get to him.

The Ravens need some breaks.

It’s clear that the Cardinals are the better team right now. The Ravens need some big breaks to pull off the upset. Maybe that’s a long return from Jeremy Ross, who has given them a special teams spark. Maybe that’s a key turnover or two. The Ravens rank minus-5 in turnover differential and have recovered just one opponent fumble this season. Last week, the Ravens got their hands on two would-be interceptions and a fumbled punt return but couldn’t hang on to any of them. If those opportunities preset themselves this week, they must capitalize.

Prediction: It’s a mismatch in both secondaries: The Cardinals receivers are going to be a handful for the Ravens beleaguered secondary, and the Ravens’ limited receivers could struggle against the Cardinals secondary. Plus the Cardinals are playing at home, on Monday night, and smarting after a loss to Pittsburgh. All signs point to a talented, motivated Cardinals team having its way against the reeling Ravens. Arizona 37, Ravens 20.

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my #9 favorite album of all time


Elton John: Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player (1973)


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I’ve listened to this album more than 500 times. Seriously. And here’s a telling fact: I've had it on vinyl, on 8-track, on cassette, and on CD. That’s how old it is. I’m a huge Elton John fan, but lean much more in the direction of the stuff he put out in the 1970s and early 1980s.

”Don’t Shoot Me” has my favorite Elton song: “Teacher I Need You,” plus a couple of other great tunes; “Blues For Baby And Me” and “I’m Gonna Be A Teenage Idol.” It also contains one of his biggest hits ever, “Crocodile Rock,” plus one of his other biggies, “Daniel.”

It’s pretty rare that you find an album that has no bad songs. This one doesn’t. It’s his best work ever, and for a guy who churned out hit after hit in the 1970s, that’s saying something.

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reservations now available for the #dmd trip to
augusta national
for the
2016 masters tournament

X

If going to the Masters is on your personal bucket list, get ready to scratch it off and move on to the next item. We're heading back to Augusta next year and we're taking reservations now. Last April, we took 25 local golf enthusiasts to the Masters for a practice round and we're doing it again on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Your trip includes round-trip airfare, ground transportation everywhere we go, a full-day ticket to the Tuesday practice-round, and lunch [MORE than a pimento-cheese sandwich!]. It's a "down and back," one-day trip—we leave early in the morning on Tuesday, April 5 and return late at night on the same day. As I always say to people who go with us: "It's a long day but a great day, one that you'll never forget."

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The trip makes a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime holiday gift for the golfer in your family, which is one of the reasons why we put it on sale now. We expect it to sell out quickly, as last year's trip did, and we can then look at adding another day if demand warrants it.

If you love golf and have a particular affection for the Masters and the history of Augusta National, this a "must do" in your lifetime. I've been five times. I'd go every year if I could. It's that memorable.

The per-person price for the Masters trip is $950. A $150 per-person deposit is due when you make your reservation. The additional $800 is due by February 1, 2016.

We have 30 available places available for our 2016 trip to the Masters. If you're interested, please e-mail me directly, 18inarow@gmail.com

Friday
October 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 23

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comments here at #dmd show high-level discourse is possible

Over the last three weeks or so, there's been occasional conversation and banter about the role played by fans with regard to sports radio and internet-based comments and opinions. I wrote about it at length earlier this month after a local sports host wrote a missive nearly as long as War and Peace in which he essentially said people listening are smart enough to tune in, but not smart enough to contribute. As someone who sat behind a microphone for a dozen years and welcomed callers literally every single day, I took umbrage with the opinion that Baltimore sports fans aren't savvy enough to chime in and add a quality opinion or statement to the discussion. They most certainly are capable of doing that.

One look at the "Comments" in this week's various editions of #DMD proves me right. And for that, I thank you.

No matter what your opinion of the Ravens, the interaction here has been engaging and courteous, even when disagreements arise. I don't think Joe Flacco is having a very good season, yet I'm also aware he's basically throwing to a group of receivers who couldn't catch a bank robber if the dye exploded in his bag. Some of you might think Flacco is merely a victim of those circumstances and shouldn't shoulder the blame. I don't agree, but that's what we're here for, in reality. To sort it out, share an opinion, look at some facts and create a family of sorts that uses sports to connect. We're here to "talk" sports like we're at the water cooler or on the golf course and it CAN be done in a civil, intelligent manner, as you all continue to show every day.

I've also listened to sports radio this week and, at least on the shows that take callers, I've found passionate, engaging people who have definite opinions on the Ravens, Flacco, Harbaugh, et al. Some of those opinions are, frankly, laughably out of touch with reality, but that's also OK. Someone calling a show and saying "John Harbaugh had nothing to do with the Super Bowl win in 2012" is, to me, completely absurd, but I'm also NOT willing to have that opinion be shut down just because it's not in line with what I think about the Ravens' coach.

If you think I liked having Merton from Indianapolis call my show and sing every Monday at 8:30 am when the Colts won the day before and the Ravens lost, you're nuts. I looked forward to it like I look forward to stumbling on a Beatles song when I'm channel surfing on Sirius/XM. That said, I established a rule when I started my own show in 2006: "If you can come on the air and not have the station's FCC license threatened or say something that gets me fired, anything you say, goes." I stuck by that theory time and time again when Merton would call in with his routine. I didn't even dislike it, truth be told. I looked at him like folks looked at David Letterman during his run. Some of his shtick was old-but-tolerable, some of it was funny and some of it was a swing and a miss. It always made the air, though. It's called "talk radio" for a reason.

Your comments here will always be welcomed. That is, as long as they're on topic, absent of foul language and generally in good taste. I've done very, very little editing of the comments here since August of 2014 and for that, I'm proud. Proud of you all, mainly, because it shows you're here to communicate and engage, not stir up trouble. That doesn't mean you have to agree with everything anyone writes here, including me. I want your opinions, not just a mindless "Yeah, you guys are right" time and time again. As you all have showed over time, high-level discourse is easily attainable. Keep it up.


your new #dmd podcast is available this morning

Another edition of "3140" is up and available for your listening pleasure. In today's podcast, I take a look at a rough week for the Ravens and John Harbaugh, plus I go over the National League Championship Series and do an audio version of "3 Questions" that I think you'll enjoy. And, as you'll see below, I'm featuring the Dave Matthews Band in today's edition of "3140". I hope you enjoy it.

#DMD 3140 Podcast
October 23, 2015
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pitta's return will give him closure

I could be reading the tea-leaves wrong, but I'm expecting Dennis Pitta to be in the beginning stages of his NFL swan song now that he's returned to practice with the Ravens. After missing more than a year with his second major hip injury in two seasons, Pitta got back in uniform and ran around like it meant something this week. He's not ready for game action, of course, but just the fact that he sat at a locker, put on his equipment, and made it out to the practice field has to be a monumental leap for the tight end.

I did a few radio shows with Pitta three or four years ago and found him to be an extremely friendly guy who resembled a banker more than a football player. He was genuinely interested in my then-young-son, Ethan, long before he and his wife had children and would ask me "father questions" during breaks and such. Pitta's an easy guy to root for, which makes his comeback even more interesting to me. I hope he makes it back and catches a pass from his close friend, Joe Flacco, in a NFL game this season.

Unfortunately, I'm guessing it's not going to happen. Practicing -- particularly in-season -- is much, much different than playing in a real game. I'm no doctor, and certainly don't have access to any conversations between Pitta and his array of physicians, but I'm guessing they've told him on more than one occasion that a third hip injury would dramatically affect his quality of life, let alone the quality of his NFL career. He's a football player, though, and probably also feels a twinge of responsibility to the Ravens, who gave him a bunch of money last year after his first injury. That's the kind of guy he is, as you can probably surmise on your own. My guess is he tries to practice a few times, lightly at first, then gives it a go at near full speed sometime in the next week or two. I'm assuming he's going to test it and then realize that the end has come.

I'd love to see Dennis Pitta play another game in the NFL. It would make for an awesome story of revival and dedication to a sport he loves. If he doesn't play again, it's probably the best decision he could make. Either way, he's a classy guy who has tried to continue his career and repay the Ravens for their support. I wouldn't expect anything less from him.


it's friday and here's your latest edition of "3 questions"

If you checked out today's podcast (see above), you heard the audio version of "3 Questions". Here are three more questions, submitted by #DMD readers, that made the cut for this week's edition of "3 Questions", the written form.

Andrew asks: "Drew, I read this week where Tiger (Woods) is saying his return from his latest back surgery is going to be long and tedious. He sure made it sound like it was a significant injury and surgery, but I'm just wondering if he could just be trying to get the other players to overlook him so he can jump back in and overtake them all again next year? Your thoughts on Tiger and when he might play again?

DF: "I think Tiger is long past playing head games with guys on the TOUR. There might have been a time when he overplayed injuries to more fully dramatize his ultimate return, but I think those days are gone, now. His body is a wreck. It's been a wreck for 7-8 years, actually. I don't know enough about the surgery he had to make any comment on it other than surgery is surgery -- it's not good, no matter what they're doing to you. And this being the second such procedure he's had? That can't be positive. My guess is he won't play a TOUR event until sometime next February or March. Looking at the PGA Tour schedule for 2015-2016, I can see him perhaps making his debut Feb. 25-28 at the Honda Classic, which is right down the street from his house in Jupiter, Florida."

Thomas Alcott asks: "Do two Super Bowl rings as a quarterback get you in the Hall of Fame? There are two active QB's with two and two only. Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Are they in?"

DF: "Great question. I'm not going to look at the stats and I'm going to answer it. Then, I'm going to look at the stats just to have them present. I don't think two rings guarantees you entry, no. That said, I think Roethlisberger IS a Hall of Famer and Eli isn't. Not yet, anyway. I'm not 100% sure why I think that way, but Ben has been to three big games and Eli has only been to two. That's not the ONLY reason I'm saying Ben is a "yes" and Eli is a "no", but it's just something that sticks out, I guess. I just feel like Roethlisberger has been one of the best QB's in the league throughout his career while Eli has had several outstanding seasons and a few (or more) average-at-best seasons." Now, the stats -- Roethlisberger: 162 games, 39,969 yards, 255 TD, 133 INT / Manning: 175 games, 41,361 yards, 270 TD, 189 INT

Ben asks: "Would you rather the Orioles keep Gerardo Parra or sign Ben Zobrist this off-season?"

DF: "Zobrist, no doubt. I wasn't that impressed with Parra when he was here in August and September. I think we all knew there would be an adjustment for him coming from the National League to the American League and there was, for sure. Zobrist has been a productive hitter in the American League. He can play on my team any day. I'd love to see the Orioles sign him this winter.


my top 10 favorite albums of all time

I'm not sure what led me to this, other than a few days ago I was looking at all of the CD's I own and thought to myself, "What are my favorites out of those?" That led me to consider my own personal Top 10, which I sat down and put together and will start revealing for you here, today. If you listened to the "3140" Podcast, you heard four songs from the Dave Matthews Band album from 1998 titled "Before These Crowded Streets", which is #10 on my all-time personal favorites list.

1998 was right around the time I really started to listen to -- and enjoy -- Dave Matthews. This was the band's 4th album, I believe, and had a couple of my favorite DMB songs on it: Crush, The Dreaming Tree, and Pig (each of which I played on today's podcast).

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An owner of virtually every DMB album, I came to appreciate this one the most because to me it closely resembled the band's concert abilities. It was "jammy" in the sense that most of the songs are in the 7-8 minute range and nearly every song highlighted the various band members in addition to the vocal work of Dave Matthews. I've long contended that DMB has been the best "live band" of its generation. I've seen them roughly ten times and on every occasion I leave the arena/facility in awe of their ability to perform live, together, at such an incredibly high level.

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

As we move past the quarter mark of the Barclays Premier League season, the picture of the league standings are starting to become a little more clear. There are six teams within shouting distance of the league’s top spot and an additional five who have to feel as if they could have a legitimate shot at one of the leagues four coveted Champions League spots by seasons end. It’s tough to find that kind of parity in any league throughout the world and once again proves why the Barclays Premier League is the best soccer league in the world from top to bottom. Tune in this week to see who is moving up and who is moving down the table with every game available live on the NBC family of networks.

Saturday (all times Eastern)

10am – Chelsea @ West Ham United – Boleyn Ground, NBC Sports Network

We highlighted West Ham United’s impressive start to the season in one of our previews last week and the Hammers did not disappoint, beating Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park to jump into fourth place in the league. The defeat of Palace was their fifth road win of the season and adds to their already impressive list of triumphs in their travels that include victories over Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. They have failed to duplicate the same form at home however with just one win from five games (W1 L2 D2) and they will be put to the test again at home when they welcome defending league champions Chelsea to the Boleyn Ground on Saturday.

While Chelsea have so far failed to duplicate the form that saw them run roughshod over the league last season they have enjoyed an unprecedented stretch of dominance over their London neighbors, losing just once in their last eighteen matchups, keeping a clean sheet in their last five league encounters against the Hammers. Jose Mourinho has lost only five of his fifty two London Derbies as a manager (W36 D11 L5), but to keep that record and their form against West Ham intact they will need to neutralize Dimitri Payet, who has created more goal scoring chances than any other Barclays Premier League player so far this season (39) and has had a hand in eight goals (five goals, three assists) in just nine appearances. Translation…start him in fantasy.

12:30pm – Everton @ Arsenal – Emirates Stadium, NBC

Arsenal are flying high with five wins out of their last six in the league and will be coming off of a huge win at the mid-week over German giants Bayern Munich in Champions League play when they welcome Everton to the Emirates Stadium in Saturday’s late afternoon kick off. Arsenal have lost only one of their last sixteen league meetings with Everton, however the Toffees have managed to hold their own in the matchup as of late, salvaging points in all but one of their last six encounters (W1 L1 D4) with the Gunners.

Everton had not lost in their previous five league matches (W2 D3) before laying an absolute egg in a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United last weekend at Goodison Park. A quick return to form this weekend may not be in the cards on the road against an Arsenal side currently firing on all cylinders from back to front, with goalkeeper Petr Cech holding the best saves to shot ratio in the league (82.1%) and strikers Olivier Giroud, who has scored four goals in the last four meetings with Everton, and Theo Walcott, who has been directly involved in fifteen goals in his last fifteen league starts (12G 3A) leading the line.

Sunday (all times Eastern)

10:05am – Manchester City @ Manchester United – Old Trafford, NBC

The biggest rivalry in the Barclays Premier League, and one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports, highlights the Sunday slate of games when Manchester City makes the short trip across town to take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. While the matchup has always held local bragging rights for whomever came out on top, the rivalry has grown in significance in recent years as both teams have consistently gone head to head for the league’s top spot. This year looks to be no different as City currently sit atop the league standings with United only two points behind, a difference they will look to make up with a win this weekend in a title race that is likely to go back and forth all season long.

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Longtime English national team fixture Wayne Rooney has 11 career goals vs. Manchester City.

City have won six of the last eight Manchester Derbies but in a fixture that has seen forty one goals scored over the last ten matchups (4.1 per game), they are likely to find the going a little tougher this weekend as they will be without two of their top playmakers, Sergio Aguero and David Silva, who will both miss out due to injury. United will not have that problem as Wayne Rooney, who has struggled to find his form this but could be emerging from his funk after he broke his Goodison Park hijinks with a goal in last weekend’s victory over Everton, has scored eleven goals in Manchester Derbies, more than any other United player, with his overhead kick in the February 2011 matchup the cream of the crop.



#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
brought to you by
Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight will be shining on eastern Baltimore County this evening as the New Town Titans make the trip around the Beltway to take the field against the Mavericks from Eastern Tech.

New Town, led by head coach Joey Garner, comes into this match up with a record of 5-1 so far this season. The Titans only loss came in this season’s first game at the hands of a feisty Sparrows Point squad. Since that loss, New Town has relied on their stout defense to lead the way on a five game win streak.

The Titans' offense is capable of putting points on the board, but seems to struggle when they face steady defensive pressure. The New Town defense is reliable and consistent, holding their opponents to an average of only 9 points per game. That is an impressive statistic. Expect the Titans defensive unit to be impressive again tonight.

New Town may have to be more than impressive to slow down long time head coach, Marc Mesaros, and his Eastern Tech Mavericks. Eastern (7-0) will take the field this evening without a loss this year. The Mavericks offense is explosive, putting up thirty seven points-per-game. Eastern Tech is equally effective in the passing game and the running game and will no doubt use a balanced offensive attack tonight.

While the defensive statistics of New Town are impressive, the E.T. defensive stats are even better. The Mavericks defense is allowing their opponents only six points per game this season. Six. That number sums it up nicely for the E.T. defense. They can tackle, they can cover and they can make plays. Not just sometimes, but all the time. They are consistent and they know how to finish games. If you are a fan of great defense and lots of touchdowns, this is a game you will not want to miss. Kick off is 7pm sharp and Eastern Tech.

New Town vs. #9 Eastern Tech @ 7pm

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. You'll be able to check in here in each week to see what's happening on the Baltimore area high school football scene, and you should check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

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Thursday
October 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 22

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it's "short memory time" for baltimore football fans

Getting smarter in my old age, I waited a few days to author this piece that you're about to read. I knew I'd write it by Tuesday, having spent the better part of 24 hours listening, reading and observing the thoughts of Ravens fans everywhere in the aftermath of last Sunday's 25-20 loss to the 49'ers.

I should always point out that I'm well aware that a few calls into talk radio shows and a handful of internet comments or forum threads don't represent the core of the local sports community, but they do represent some portion of it, for sure. How much? I don't know, but I also talk to a lot of people about the Ravens in my daily travels and I add in their comments as part of computation.

Here's the biggest thing I've taken from the last four days: When the dust settles on this 2015 season, John Harbaugh is going to be the goat.

That's not what I think. Not at all. But that IS what a large percentage of folks in Baltimore think at the six week mark and that's what they're going to think at the sixteen week mark, too. The coach is going to get the bulk of the blame, it would appear.

By the way, Harbaugh SHOULD get some of the blame. He's the coach. He reaps the good and the bad when he's the guy running the show, which is to say he gets the plaudits and the appreciation -- and the contract extension -- when the club wins the Super Bowl and he then has to get some of the blame and criticism when the team loses. That's just the way it works. In my book, anyway.

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That's a fist pump from a Super Bowl winning coach, who, according to many in town, forgot how to coach over the last six weeks or so.

That said, I'm hearing a lot of vitriol from folks about Harbaugh this week that just doesn't add up. Perhaps my favorite one of all is this gem: "The team won the Super Bowl despite Harbaugh, not because of him. He had a great defense (wrong, by the way...) and three of the best players of all-time on his team in Ray, Ed and Suggs. Anyone can coach those three." I'm not going to pick apart every single statement I've heard about Harbaugh and his connection to the 2015 Ravens, but saying he didn't have anything to do with the team winning the Super Bowl in 2012 immediately discounts you as an intelligent football fan. There's NEVER been a team that won a championship -- in any sport, anywhere -- who did so without having the coach play a role in that triumph. It's asinine to think otherwise.

And the premise that "anyone can coach those three" must be coming from people who have never coached at any level and, particularly, haven't had great players on their roster and at their disposal. Ask Phil Jackson who the toughest player to coach was in his history. You know that answer: Michael Jordan. Anyone with even a smidgen of inside knowledge about the Ravens will tell you that Ed Reed, while not UNcoachable, was a handful from the day he arrived on the scene at Owings Mills. A star player being difficult to coach is about as typical as Louisville bringing in escorts and hookers to woo high school basketball recruits. You most certainly need great players to win, but the notion that you just wind them up and turn them loose and they require no coaching or leadership is simply wrong.

I even had someone bring out the whole "hail Mary in Denver" memory yesterday and try to show me that Harbaugh was the benefactor of a crazy play that bailed out both him and his team from what was a soon-to-be-loss in Denver in the AFC playoffs in January of 2013. So, if I'm hearing things right, the coach can't win in that situation. If Flacco's desperation heave to Jacoby Jones ISN'T caught, the Ravens lose and the coach is a bum because his team lost in Denver. If the pass IS caught and the Ravens go on to win, the coach got bailed out by a wild throw-and-hope play at the end of the game. Either way, Harbaugh doesn't get any credit. Sorry...it doesn't work that way in my book -- or in the real world for that matter.

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It's human nature for folks to pick apart losing when it happens. Hell, there are people in Chicago this morning authoring columns on how Cubs' manager Joe Maddon didn't get the job done in the NLCS against the Mets, who finished off a 4-game sweep in Chicago last night and are headed to their first World Series since 2000. Yep, after 97 regular season wins, a wild card triumph over Pittsburgh and a NLDS victory over the Cardinals, people in the Windy City are going after Maddon this morning in the wake of their elimination last night. It's human nature.

In Baltimore, now, the football coach is under the gun for this 1-5 start that is FAR more on the players than on him. FAR MORE. I hate playing the "if game" in sports because the other team could also play the same game and counter-if everything you contend, but the Ravens could easily be 4-2 or 3-3 with just a couple of plays going their way. IF Steve Smith catches that pass in Denver, the club is 1-0 to start the season. Now they're 2-4 instead of 1-5. If Joe Flacco and the offense get the Ravens in the end zone in the final minute of the Browns game (1st and goal from the 10), they're 3-3 instead of 1-5. And you can take any of the other losses (49'ers, Bengals and Raiders) and come up with a very reasonable "if this happens" angle to produce another victory.

I used to say this all the time when I was on the radio: "You're never as good as you think you are when you're winning and you're never as bad as you think you are when you're losing." The Ravens are 1-5 because they've failed to make big plays at big moments. Period. A catch here, an interception there, and they could easily be .500 or better and well in the playoff race. But, they're not. And that's that.

How that's all connected to Harbaugh is the story in town, though, and lots and lots of people are linking him directly to 1-5, as if he let two touchdown passes slip through his hands last Sunday in San Francisco instead of Steve Smith Sr. Yes, the coach matters. There's no way around the fact that the coach matters, whether the team is 1-5 or 5-1. But, if he matters when the team loses, he has to matter when the team wins. Brian Billick, of course, got virtually the same treatment here in Baltimore. I even heard someone reference him on Wednesday.

"We've never had a great coach here in Baltimore," said a talk show caller. "Marchibroda was terrible and Billick just rode that defense and got his ring. And Harbaugh, he don't know what he's doing. Every week I tell my friends, 'this guy is a joke' and now we're seeing it all play out that way."

Yep, people really DO think that way in Baltimore. And elsewhere, too, I assume, although I don't care that people are nuts in Cleveland or Pittsburgh or St. Louis. I do understand that fan insanity is prevalent everywhere, but the only place I care about is Baltimore. I sorta-kinda thought we might be getting better than that -- more sophisticated, if you will -- but we're not. Someone has to bear the brunt of the blame when things don't go well. It's just how we are, I suppose.

In this case, the coach is going to shoulder much of the criticism, which is why he makes the big bucks, I suppose. But if you're one of those people smashing John Harbaugh because the team is 1-5, don't also be one of those folks who says he had nothing to do with helping the club win the Super Bowl a few years ago. Or, you can be that person...and look like you don't know what you're talking about.

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seats now available for #dmd trip to augusta and the 2016 masters

If going to the Masters is on your personal bucket list, get ready to scratch it off and move on to another item. We're heading back to Augusta next year and we're taking seat reservations effective today, October 22nd. Last April, we took 25 local golf enthusiasts to the Masters for a practice round and we're doing it again on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Your trip includes round-trip airfare, ground transportation, a full-day ticket to the Tuesday, April 5 practice round at Augusta National, plus lunch. It's a "down and back" one-day trip, meaning we leave early in the morning on Tuesday, April 5 and return late at night on Tuesday, April 5. As I always say to people who go with us: "It's a long day, but a great day that you'll never forget."

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This makes a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime holiday gift for the golfer in your family, which is one of the reasons why we put it on sale now. That and we expect it to sell out quickly, like last year's trip did, and we can then look at adding another day if demand warrants it.

If you love golf and have a particular affection for the Masters and the history of Augusta National, this a "must do" in your lifetime. I've been five times. I'd go every year if I could. It's that memorable.

The per-person price for the Masters trip is $950. A $150 per-person deposit is due when you reserve your seat(s) and the additional $800 is due by 2/1/16.

We have 30 available seats for our 2016 trip to the Masters. If you're interested, e-mail me directly, please: 18inarow@gmail.com

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who wants to get in on "3 questions" tomorrow?

Our regular Friday piece, "3 questions", needs your involvement tomorrow. It's a fairly simple process. You ask a question, I answer it. You can ask the question in two forms. You can submit it via the "Comments" section below or you can e-mail it to me: 18inarow@gmail.com

While this IS a sports-centric website, I'll take questions on music, too, or even red wine (by the way, I picked up an awesome bottle of Duckhorn Cabernet at The Wine Merchant yesterday...thanks to Joe Ciletti for the advice). I'll pick three questions out of the hopper for tomorrow's edition of #DMD and publish them here, along with my answers.

Wednesday
October 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 21

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time for extreme measures at louisville

Every couple of years, a story pops up like the one we're reading about now at Louisville and it reminds us all -- or, me, at least -- why there's so much wrong with college sports these days.

Maybe that's why I've always gravitated to the Pete Caringi's of the world, and the Phil Stern's, and the Pat Skerry's. Those are three local coaches that I know and there's no question they're not only outstanding coaches, but terrific men, as well. I can't read about Louisville's woes and not take a minute to be thankful that we don't have that sort of garbage going on in Baltimore and embarrassing our local athletic programs.

The Louisville story, if you haven't heard by now, will wind up being a progam-killer. The short version is this: The Cardinals' basketball program used escorts/models/pretty girls to woo young men who were in town on recruiting visits. There were sexual favors provided to the young men and, get this, even some adult chaperones who accompanied the young men to town on their visit. Cash also made the rounds, as Louisville pulled out all the stops to make sure they were getting the best players.

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He hasn't admitted to anything, and most likely won't, but Rick Pitino's days at Louisville are numbered.

The story in and of itself at Louisville isn't probably that much different than stuff going on at 20 other schools across the country. I'm sure Rick Pitino isn't the first coach to say, "Now when the recruits come to town, make sure they get handled properly. They'll need sex when they're here and money when they leave." It should be noted that Pitino hasn't actually admitted to any of that stuff, yet. All of the details are part of a book that was recently published, but Pitino himself hasn't come clean.

It won't matter soon, though. Whether he admits to it or not, Rick Pitino-the coach won't survive this. He can't. He won't.

I said this three or four years ago when I was on the radio and the early whispers of the academic fraud at the University of North Carolina were starting to surface: There's only one way to deal with coaches and schools who involve themselves with these shenanigans. You have to shut down the program(s). That's it. Done.

When the you-know-what-hit-the-fan at North Carolina, the NCAA should have simply stepped in and said, "No sports here for three years. When you've figured out how to do it the right way, we'll bring you out to Kansas City and you can sit in a big conference room and prove to us that you're ready to run a college athletics program again. But, for now, college sports is over with at North Carolina." Alas, that didn't happen, and won't happen, because the NCAA makes too much money off of UNC. The same, naturally, goes for Rick Pitino and Louisville. The NCAA gets rich in part because of Pitino's program.

I could go on and on and on about this story out of Louisville, but I think most of you are smart enough to know how dirty and classless (no pun intended there) everything is when Rick Pitino is involved. Just follow the trail and you'll see how it all works.

"Damn the rules, let's go get ourselves some basketball players."

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mets vs. royals world series on the horizon

You would have won a lot of money last March if you would have made your way out to Vegas, walked up to a sportsbook counter, plopped down $1,000 and said to the cashier, "Put all of that on a Mets-Royals World Series in 2015."

Actually, the Royals would have been a logical choice. They came within a hit of winning the whole thing a year ago before losing to the Giants in Game 7 at Kansas City. The Mets, though? I can't imagine anyone had them penciled in to be playing baseball on Halloween night, but it's shaping up for a New York-Kansas City World Series if both teams can just win one more game in their respective championship series'.

The Royals rebounded from a pounding in Game 3 in Toronto to do some shellacking of their own on Tuesday in Game 4, as KC scored four times in the first inning and cruised to a 14-2 win that nearly sealed Toronto's season shut. Game 5 is tonight in Toronto, where the Jays will send Edinson Volquez to the mound to try and extend their season. It's worth noting that Toronto was down 2-0 in the ALDS with Texas and went on the road to claim Games 3 and 4 before returning home to win the series in Game 5. They face a similar situation here, trailing 3-1, with a home game tonight and then, potentially two more games at Kansas City if necessary. It's not over yet, and those Toronto bats can heat up quickly, but Kansas City's really good. I don't think they're letting a 3-1 lead slip away.

In the N.L., the Cubs are looking a lot like last year's Orioles, which is to say, they had a nice run and all, but the Mets are just better. The O's, of course, advanced to the ALCS in 2014, their first appearance in that series since 1997, but were promptly run out of the gym in four straight games by the Royals. It tarnished an otherwise outstanding season for the Birds, who then wallowed in mediocrity for most of 2015 and failed to return to the playoffs. The Cubs had a remarkable 97-win regular season in 2015, beat Pittsburgh in the wild card game, and then eliminated the favored Cardinals in the NLDS. But, like the Orioles last year, they've run into a buzz saw in the form of the New York Mets. It probably ends tonight at Wrigley Field when Jacob de Grom faces erstwhile Oriole Jason Hammel.

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caps win in calgary, off to a 4-1 start

Fresh off of a friendly 4-game home stand to start the season, the Caps hit the road and kicked off a west coast swing with a 6-2 win at Calgary last night that gives Washington a 4-1 start to the 2015-2016 campaign. I know Calgary isn't very good (1-5), but the Caps thoroughly outplayed them on Tuesday, with Nicklas Backstrom scoring a pair of goals for Barry Trotz's club and Ovechkin, Oshie, Burakovsky and Chimera adding single tallies. The Flames managed just 19 shots on goal as Braden Holtby grabbed a lawn chair and one of the Harry Potter books for most of his sixty minutes of work.

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The Caps can always use another bonafide goal scorer and they might have found one when they traded for T.J. Oshie.

It's early, yes, but the moves the Caps made in the off-season look meaningful. T.J. Oshie gives them another guy who can score and Justin Williams adds a worker-bee type who can also contribute offensively. Let's see how the defense holds up over 82 games, but if these first five games are any indication of what's to come, the Capitals will be a threat -- again -- when April rolls around.

If you're a long suffering Caps fan like I am, though, you look to April with abundant caution, because you know that's when the "real" Capitals always show up. You know, the team that blows 3-1 series leads with the same regularity that you make right turns on red. No matter what they do in the regular season, there are NEVER any guarantees once the playoffs roll around. Prepare to have your heart broken, I always say.


college soccer: umbc suffers rare home loss, 1-0 to Navy

UMBC and Navy played a spirited mid-week non-conference clash on Tuesday night and the visiting Midshipmen came up with a 1-0 victory before 1,225 fans at Retriever Soccer Park.

The Retrievers fell to 7-4-3 overall, while Navy improved to 7-5-1 on the campaign.

The game's lone goal occurred in the 14th minute of play, when Navy senior forward Jamie Dubyoski netted his second goal of the season. UMBC committed a foul seven yards outside the box on the left side. Navy's Aubrey Jones sent the ball in and it was knocked away by a Retriever defender. But Dubyoski quickly settled the bounding clear and struck it from 11 yards out just inside the far right post.

Navy controlled the play in the first half, outshooting UMBC, 8-4 and forcing UMBC netminder Billy Heaver to come up with five saves.

The Retrievers picked up their play in the middle stages of the second half and threatened often in the last 15 minutes. Senior back Malcolm Harris recorded UMBC's first shot in goal with 11:20 left, but his effort from distance was saved by Jackson Morgan. UMBC knocked at the door with 5:30 remaining, but Navy cleared away a scramble in front. The ball came out to freshman Patrick Jean Gilles, but his blast from just outside the box was blocked by a Midshipmen defender.

With the clock winding down inside 20 seconds, UMBC served the ball deep into the box and had players around the ball, but could not get a clean shot away and Navy would clear the ball and take the victory.

Even with the loss, UMBC is 30-4-6 in its last 40 contests at Retriever Soccer Park.

UMBC gets back to America East play on Saturday, when they travel to Binghamton for a 1:00 p.m. contest versus the Bearcats. Binghamton is one of three teams tied for the top spot in the conference at 2-1-1, while UMBC is just two points back at 1-1-2.

Tuesday
October 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 20

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ravens have to carefully "lose the right way"

When you're 1-5, overwhelmed with injuries, and shorthanded in the depth department, there's not a whole lot of promise that the final two months of the season are going to suddenly turn for the positive. At this point, it's looking like the Ravens are a solid bet to finish the 2015 season at somewhere around five wins. That's to say they could go 4-12 or 6-10, but when the dust settles at the end of December, they're almost a guarantee to be well beneath the .500 mark for the first time since 2007.

Like the bumper sticker says: Stuff happens.

As I observe the comments here at #DMD, listen to sports radio and gauge the social media reaction, it's fairly evident that the fans in town are a mixed bag of opinions. Some are irate, some are understanding and some don't know what to think about this 1-5 start. "Should I be ticked off about this or just be happy it's the first time they've been bad in eight years?" a friend said to me yesterday at the charity golf outing I hosted at Eagle's Nest Country Club. That's the dilemma a lot of folks are facing these days as they watch the Ravens lose. On one hand, when you enter a season with high expectations like the Ravens did in 2015, you have the right to be upset with the club's performance, particularly if you're an invested ticket buying customer or corporate sponsor. On the other hand, they've had themselves a pretty daggone nice run since Harbaugh and Flacco showed up in 2008. You can't win forever.

More important than the fan's reaction, though, is how the Ravens are going to handle this lost-season-of-2015. That's what I'm eager to see, both from the ownership standpoint and from the standpoint of how the coach, quarterback and everyone else involved with the on-field-product reacts to losing.

John Harbaugh clearly doesn't like to lose. No coach does, though. Anyone criticizing Harbaugh for that character trait hasn't paid attention to sports, because I've yet to see a coach worth his or her salt who tolerates losing very well. It's just not in their DNA. That said, John does have to be careful over the final two months that he handles losing "the right way". And because he's done so little of it here in Baltimore over the last eight years, John needs to quickly prepare himself for the inevitable (5-11) and make sure his inability to deal with losing doesn't become the story for the rest of the season.

Joe Flacco doesn't like losing, either, but his personality is such that he likely won't do or say anything "extreme" over the final ten weeks, no matter what the team's record is after sixteen games. Joe is generally unflappable when the team wins, and pretty much the same way when the team loses. There were some things I saw in Sunday's game with regard to his body language that I didn't like, but once the game's over, Joe treats each result the same by essentially saying, "That game's done -- I'm already thinking about next week."

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Anyone who listened to my radio show in town from 2002-2014 will recall that I often said, "Coaches are my favorite people in sports" and one of the biggest reasons for that is they all have a won/loss record. Quarterbacks have statistics, yes, but nearly everything in their archives is about completions, yards and touchdowns. Coaches only have ONE record that matters in their archives: "How many games did you win and how many games did you lose -- as a coach?" That, to me, is why coaches are so special. When your son or daughter plays high school sports and you miss one of their games because of an out-of-town business trip, you call them afterwards and ask, "How'd the game go today?" They reply, "Not so well, we lost." Your next question, EVERY TIME, is "Well how did YOU play?" They can then recall their own individual performance and at least justify their own contribution (or not) to the team's performance.

When you bump into a coach after a game and ask, "How did it go today?" there's no other question you can ask as a follow-up that would offer any consolation or solace. "Hey coach, how'd it go today?" His or her reply: "We lost." There's nothing left after that. You wouldn't ever think to say to John Harbaugh, as an example, "Well, I know the Ravens lost today but at least you went 2-for-2 on challenges!" His team lost. He, as a coach, lost. End of story.

Losing can be very definite. With some notable exceptions, you either win the game or lose the game. When the NFL season ends, you either make the playoffs or don't make the playoffs. And, even though only one team winds up being totally and thoroughly satisfied at season's end, there are lots of teams who have productive seasons and can say to themselves and their fans, "We made progress this year and gave you your money's worth."

I bring all of that up as a precursor to what we're about to see from Harbaugh, Flacco, et al over the last ten weeks of the season if this thing unravels like it very well might, even though they'll be trying their ass off to make sure it DOESN'T happen. How the club handles this losing, starting with the owner, and trickling down to the general manager, coach, coordinators and players, will be the thing we likely remember most about 2015. The last time the team lost in a big way was 2007 and all hell broke loose the day after the season ended. True, there were a couple of other "down" years in the midst of that 5-11 campaign of '07, but Steve Bisciotti pulled the plug on his coach as a response to the losing.

To me, the spotlight for the rest of 2015 will go on John Harbaugh. Fair or not, that's why he makes the big bucks, as the saying goes. The players are going to react to losing in some way based on what they see from their coach. That, I'm sure, played into John's decision to go after the "mockers and scorners" in his post-game press conference on Sunday in San Francisco. As a coach, it's your job to figure out a way to get your players prepared to play the next game, and there's NO doubt at all that "us vs. them" will be one of John's favorite bullets to fire over the last ten weeks. It's not only his job to protect his players, it's a favorite coaching angle that nearly everyone who has ever led a team uses at some point. "No one thinks you're good enough, but I do..."

I remember once in training camp at Owings Mills, Harbaugh was waiting for a player to finish up at the podium and I was on the outer perimeter of the media group gathered there. The coach came up to me and said, "I was listening to you yesterday morning. You don't like the Houshmandzadeh signing, huh?" I couldn't say anything other than "No, not really," since my opinion had already been aired and he had clearly heard it. He then quickly added, "Calling him a career loser? That's pretty strong. We'll just have to turn you around on him, I guess." And that was it. It wasn't "ugly" or anything like that, but the coach wanted me to know -- as a mocker and a scorner, I suppose -- that he took exception to my analysis of the player his team had just signed.

There are going to be lots of mockers and scorners over the next ten weeks if the season goes the way it apparently will. How Harbaugh handles them is important. Fighting, biting and scratching with them ISN'T the way to go -- if you want my amateur opinion -- but that's going to require a personality change from the coach since he's so keenly aware of who is with him and who is against him. Who can forget that scene from last year's playoff win in Pittsburgh when SI.Com's Peter King approached him on the field afterwards and Harbaugh said, "You picked against us, didn't you? Maybe next time you'll pick us to win." I found that to be remarkably telling about John and the pride he has in getting people to not only believe in his team, but to believe in him, too. It's as if by picking AGAINST the Ravens, you're downgrading him from an excellent coach to an OK coach.

I've made no secret of my affection for Harbaugh, both as a coach and a man. It's hard for me to watch the Ravens lose because I know how much it's eating at him. That said, losing is part of sports, unless you're Ronda Rousey, and how you handle it tells us a lot about you and your value to the team. Now is not the time for the coach to lose his mind. Now is the time for the coach to stay as level as he can, prepare the team to the best of his abilities, and handle the result as professionally as possible.

I don't mind the Ravens losing. Really, I don't. They've had a great run since 2008 and one of these 5-11 seasons was bound to happen at some point. What I don't like, though, is drama (even though it's great for website clicks). If the Ravens are going to lose, I hope they do it quietly and with the same degree of integrity they displayed when they won. That, I think you'll agree, starts with the owner and goes directly to the coach and his players.

If, in fact, we're going to lose, let's lose the right way.

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another edition of "drew's charity golf outing" is in the books

On a gorgeous fall day at Eagle's Nest Country Club, 20 teams gathered yesterday for my 11th annual charity golf outing, this year benefitting The Bennett Institute at Kennedy Krieger. We'll finish up raising in excess of $4,000 for them, money that goes directly into their program and is used for daily necessities and special equipment.

A special thank you to our title sponsor, Jerry's Toyota-Scion, and participating sponsors Advanced Heating and Cooling, Charles Nusinov and Sons Jewelers, Summit Financial, Mariner Distribution and Black Rock Landscapes. An interesting note on Chris Schattall and the folks at Black Rock; They've played in all 11 of my charity outings!

And a huge thank you goes out to all of the "team captains" who took the time to register their team(s) and take on the challenge of making sure everyone showed up on time and ready to play yesterday! Without the players in the field, we wouldn't have an outing every year that raises money for a local organization.

We were also thankful yesterday to be joined at the awards dinner by my friend Van Brooks, who recently opened his first S.A.F.E. center on West Lexington Street in Baltimore City. Van, as many of you know, suffered a spinal cord injury playing football for Loyola High School in 2004, but that hasn't stopped him from doing great work in our community. Many of you participated in our "sleeping bag" drive in 2014 and 2015; that was one of Van's projects, as he helped deliver in excess of 500 sleeping bags to Baltimore's homeless over the last two years.

Our winning teams on Tuesday were captained by Bill Georgelis (low gross score of 52) and Dave Warder (low net score of 50).

One final thank you goes out to everyone at Eagle's Nest Country Club for helping make this year's event a success. The professional staff, headed up on Monday by Frank Olzsewski Jr., was extremely well organized and efficient and the golf course itself was in fabulous shape. If you're looking for a club to join that has EVERY feature you could want; golf, tennis, swimming and dining, Eagle's Nest is a facility you should definitely consider. I joined there in July and have thoroughly enjoyed my time there thus far, as I knew I would.

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


Wait 'til next year?

No, this isn't the 2000-era Orioles or the pre-Joe-Maddon Cubbies we're talking about. This is the Ravens, the perennial playoff contender Ravens, the three-years-removed-from-the-Super-Bowl Ravens, relegated to wait-til-next-year status before Halloween.

It's a fall from grace that is as shocking as it is abrupt. Everyone knew the Ravens had a tough stretch to begin the season, but even the biggest Steelers fans, in their wildest dreams, wouldn't have envisioned the Ravens being 1-5 after six games. Yet that is where the Ravens are after Sunday's 25-20 loss at San Francisco that was nothing but an encore performance of all the issues -- poor tackling, awful coverage, communication breakdowns, a lack of playmakers, questionable judgement by Joe Flacco -- that have gutted this team all season.

And that's why every seat -- from Ozzie Newsome on down -- should be getting a little toasty at the Castle in Owings Mills. Oh, Ozzie is fine. He'll leave his post when he wants to, not a minute before. He's built two decades of well-earned equity. But the coaching staff? If this team stumbles along to a 4-12 or 5-11 season -- and at this point, are you confident they can find five wins? -- there will have to be changes. Coach John Harbaugh should be safe, too. He's signed through 2017, and with one Super Bowl title and a playoff berth every year but one, it seems he's earned a longer leash as well. As for his staff ... Harbaugh was asked last week whether any staff changes were coming.

"No way," he said. "No, coaches are doing a good job. ... We have tough challenges that we’re facing, but we have just the men for the job right here.”

After the 49ers game, though, Harbaugh seemed to light a match under the seat of each one of his coaches. I don't recall him ever sounding quite so critical of his staff.

"We got to execute. Offense, defense, and special teams, we find the stuff that we do well and we got to go out there and make sure they do it. That’s on coaches. That’s how I see it," Harbaugh said.

"I’m not making excuses for injuries, or for the players we might have or don’t have, you know? You always have good enough players. That’s how I look at it. The guys who can get the job done, you find a way to put them in position to get the job done, not just throw plays out there. You throw plays out there that are gonna work, that got a shot to work."

It's true that the Ravens can only expect so much if Shareece Wright -- who couldn't crack the lineup for the 31st-ranked defense, mind you -- is asked to play 78 percent of the snaps at cornerback, or if Marlon Brown is the No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, or if special teamer Albert McClellan is supposed to step in and spell Terrell Suggs. So injuries and personnel shortcomings are one thing. But flat-out execution issues are another. How does 49ers fullback Bruce Miller get lost in coverage for a 52-yard gain? Why can't the Ravens tackle better? Why do the Ravens need to burn a timeout after the first snap of the second half? Why are the Ravens 0-for-6 this season when throwing on third-and-2-or-less? And who thought it would be a good idea to send Marlon Brown on a fly route in the final minute of the game, when he hasn't outrun anyone in his career? Brown was well-covered -- double-covered, in fact -- and Flacco is lucky the ball wasn't intercepted.

Don't just throw plays out there ... throw plays out there that got a shot to work.

That seems like a pretty thinly veiled shot across the bow of the coaching staff, particularly embattled defensive coordinator Dean Pees and first-year offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. If the losses continue, expect their seats to get even hotter.

Monday
October 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 19

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lack of urgency more frustrating than mistakes, losing, etc.

You can accept Steve Smith Sr. dropping a touchdown pass here and there.

You can accept Shareece Wright showing up on a Tuesday and getting exposed on a Sunday.

You can accept Justin Tucker slipping on that $300 turf they have installed at Levi's Stadium and missing a field goal.

You can accept Joe Flacco throwing perhaps the worst ball of his career in the 3rd quarter, right to the 49'ers.

Those, simply, are mistakes. Every player makes one or two at some point. It's part of being an athlete.

What you can't accept though, if you're John Harbaugh, are players who treated the game's final minute on Sunday as if they were walking their dog on a chilly October morning in Central Park. With the game on the line -- and for the most ambitious of thinkers, perhaps the team's season, too -- the Ravens needed to travel 80 yards in sixty six seconds to pull off an improbable win in San Francisco. Improbable? Sure, especially without "real" receivers. Impossible? Not at all, particularly given the fact that the 49'ers defense isn't any good and the referees have those yellow flags in their back pockets.

Sadly, though, what you saw in those final sixty six seconds of yesterday's 25-20 loss to the 49'ers was a snapshot of the Ravens' season to date, and if you were ever looking for a quick, simple explanation for the club's (now) 1-5 start to the 2015 campaign, there it was.

With 1:02 left in the game (and no time-outs at his disposal), Joe Flacco found Jeremy Ross across the middle for an 18-yard gain to put the ball on the Baltimore 38 yard line. Inexplicably, Flacco didn't rush to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball to stop the clock. That was mistake number one. It was compounded by the fact that his offensive line couldn't make the 18-yard run upfield in a timely fashion, yes, but Flacco has to dirt the ball right then and there. Joe once complained that the team's use of the "wildcat" was a high school formation. Pot meet kettle, a few years later.

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Throw a couple of Ravens jerseys on these guys and they would look just like some members of the Baltimore offensive line in the final minute of yesterday's game with the 49'ers.

Truly in hurry-up mode now, Flacco tried a deep throw for Marlon Brown, who has become the team's version of Charlie Brown. Earlier in the 4th quarter, the quarterback targeted Brown in the corner of the end zone but Kamar Aiken essentially hopped in front of him and intercepted it for a Baltimore touchdown. On the long throw with the game in the balance, Brown was a step behind two 49'ers defenders and the ball fell hopelessly wide of him. Thirty one seconds remained in the game. The next play was a strike to Steve Smith, who was tackled at the 49'ers 42 yard line. That's when the likes of Kelechi Osemele, Eugene Monroe and Jeremy Zuttah brought out their iPods and pumpkin spice latte and went for a Sunday stroll. They ambled up to the line of scrimmage with the same urgency you'd have to get your prostate checked at your annual physical.

Flacco then figured out that spiking the ball stops the clock, so he did it there. Only problem? There were now just 13 seconds left in the game. Two plays and a couple of desperation heaves later, the game was over. If you're counting along as we go, you already know the math, but I'll give it to you anyway. The Ravens got the ball back on their own 20 yard line with 1:06 remaining. They ran SEVEN plays in that time span. And five of them were incomplete passes, four of which stopped the clock (the other ended the game). There were apparently several issues at hand on that final series. First, unless I'm simply not reading the whole thing right, the Ravens didn't have multiple plays called as they worked their through that hurry-up sequence at game's end. How else can you explain throwing the ball to the middle of the field, not spiking it and, in general, just looking completely disorganized?

And how do you handle Osemele, Zuttah and Monroe today when you watch the final minute on film and see them Sunday-strolling their way up the field as the clock ticked down? Yes, of course, Flacco should have spiked the ball when Ross caught the 18-yard throw with about 44 seconds left, but you can't spike it if the center hasn't yet settled into position to snap it to you. Amateur stuff, there. You'd expect that from a quarterback who hasn't won a handful of playoff games and a Super Bowl, but not from Flacco. Or, perhaps, that was his way of letting all of us see first-hand where some of the team's problems lie these days.

Smarts. Urgency. Effort. If you don't have that, you're not winning. The Ravens' chances of winning any game are razor thin right now because they simply don't have enough quality players on either side of the ball. Yesterday, though, they were playing themselves, essentially, when they went up against the 49'ers. In other words, one bad team was fully capable of beating another bad team. All the Ravens needed to do was manage the clock properly in the game's final sixty six seconds, execute a few plays, and they might have snuck out of that place with a win and some dignity restored.

Instead, they embarrassed themselves and their coaches with a mind-numbing lack of urgency in the game's final minute.

It's tough to watch, because I think we all still feel, deep down, that the Ravens are better than this. At least I do. Apparently, though, they aren't.

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harbs should just admit he's frustrated and get it over with

In the aftermath of yet another one-score loss, John Harbaugh bristled at the notion of "frustration" settling in as he weaves his way through the most disappointing season of his 8-year tenure in Baltimore.

"Frustrated? I don't know...I don't have a frustration gauge," the coach said in response to a question from Ravens radio voice Stan White after the game. He then went on to diffuse any talk of "frustration" by reminding everyone he most certainly isn't frustrated. All the while, he was sounding very frustrated.

Harbaugh is a smart guy and it didn't take him long to figure out how the media works, both here in Baltimore and everywhere else. ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you at a moment of the media's choosing. To wit, had Harbaugh pounded his fist on the podium and said, "You're damn right I'm frustrated!", the headline in today's morning newspaper in Baltimore would have read, -- Harbaugh frustrated with players. The coach would then need to douse that fire at this afternoon's team meeting at Owings Mills, because the players can accept being criticized, but it can't be done in the media.

The problem is, of course, that Harbaugh IS frustrated. Very much so. He was so frustrated with Jason Babin not giving a s**t that he sent him packing last Tuesday. He was so frustrated with Rashaan Melvin not being able to cover anyone without getting a penalty that he axed him, too. He's probably very frustrated with Steve Smith dropping sure-fire TD throws at Denver and San Francisco, but Smith's one of the only five good players on the team, so Harbaugh has to keep that frustration to himself. And, he's likely very frustrated with his $20 million quarterback throwing the ball to the other team and his $2 million kicker missing critical kicks against the Browns and 49er's. If you're a coach and your team is losing and you're NOT frustrated, you're probably not doing it right.

Worst of all, by bristling at the concept that he IS frustrated, Harbaugh winds up sounding awfully frustrated. He would go on in yesterday's press conference to chastise those who were doubting the team, which is a reasonable thing to say when you're the coach and you know "us vs. them" is one of the only darts you have that might work week in and week out for the last two months of the season. But those people who are doubters have watched six weeks of football, now, and can see the team for what they are. Flawed. Injured. Not very opportunistic. Unlucky. And, in summary, just not quite good enough.

"Of course I'm frustrated," should have been what Harbaugh said. "I'm frustrated because I know we're working hard in practice and I know we're going into the game as well prepared as we can be for that upcoming sixty minutes of football. But there are probably 20 other coaches in the league just like me who are frustrated. So, we roll with it and keep working hard to try and win the next game."

Coach speak? Sure, a little. But saying you're NOT frustrated or don't get frustrated is silly stuff. You're 1-5, your best receiver just dropped two touchdown passes in a one-score result, your quarterback gave the ball to the other team twice, your best cornerback got torched on a schoolyard stop and go fly pattern and then was flagged for a crucial penalty in the game's final two minutes. Oh, and about 80% of your offensive line walked around like they were ahead by fourteen points in the final sixty seconds.

If you're not frustrated with that, I don't know what else to say.

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put your money where your mouth is

Well, I certainly needed that yesterday. I have a long, long way to go to pull myself up from a woeful 8-17 start to the season, but going 4-1 yesterday certainly helps with the recovery process. I was a Denver blown lead away from going 5-0, in fact.

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only", although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

Here's a recap of yesterday's action and my selections:

Broncos (-4) at Browns -- I can't imagine Cleveland tacks on another impressive win one week after winning their version of the Super Bowl by beating the Ravens in Baltimore. This is the perfect game to take the Broncos and take 'em big, as the Browns will fall flat at home. Take Denver and give the 4 points here, as the Broncos come out on top 24-13. Result: Broncos win 26-23 in OT, so I'm a LOSER here (0-1).

Panthers at Seahawks (-7.5) -- Boy, this one sure smells like something's up in Vegas. Have they not watched Seattle over the last few weeks? They lost the game at home against the Lions but the refs got involved and gave the Seahawks the victory. Then last week at Cincinnati, the two-time defending NFC champs gagged away a 24-7 second half lead. Carolina, meanwhile, is 4-0 on the season, but they haven't really played anyone yet, either. I like the Panthers to cover in this one but I'll say Seattle wins 22-20. Take Carolina and the 7.5 points. Result: Panthers win 27-23, so I'm a WINNER here (1-1).

Chiefs at Vikings (-3.5) -- It took me until week six to identify a "play of the year" thus far, and here it is. I love, love, love, love the Vikings today. Nothing else to add, other than the game is so set for a Minnesota thumping that I'm almost afraid of it. I'm taking the Vikings to win, 33-13. Result: This wasn't the blow-out I expected, but it all worked out in the end as the Vikings won 16-10, so I'm a WINNER here (2-1).

Patriots (-10) at Colts -- I took the Cowboys last week plus 7.5 against visiting New England and Dallas got throttled, 30-6. I'm going back to the well again this week, though, as I see Indianapolis putting up much more of a fight against New England than Dallas did last week. Patriots win, 30-21, but take Indianapolis and ten points at home. Result: Patriots stay undefeated with a 34-27 win, but Indy covers, so I'm a WINNER here (3-1).

Redskins at Jets (-7.5) -- The question with the Redskins is simple. Which team shows up? The one that nearly beat the Falcons last Sunday? Who knows. I suspect it's letdown time for Washington after such a close call on the road a week ago. I'm not sure how the Jets are giving ANYONE 7.5 points, but let's go with New York in a defensive battle, 20-10. Result: Jets win 34-20, so I'm a WINNER here (4-1).

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Minnesota. Lock of the year, even. Result: Winner here, to go to 4-2 on my "best bets" so far this season.


THIS WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 12-18

BEST BET FOR THE SEASON: 4-2

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11th annual charity golf outing is today at eagle's nest

It looks like great weather is in store for us this afternoon at Eagle's Nest as a field of 21 foursomes converges on Eagle's Nest Country Club for my 11th annual charity golf outing, presented this year by Jerry's Toyota-Scion. Our 2015 event will be raising funds for The Bennett Institute at Kennedy Krieger and we'll also be honoring our friend Van Brooks at the post-golf awards banquet tonight and giving him a small donation for his S.A.F.E. Center in downtown Baltimore.

Today's event features prizes for the top 3 finishers in the gross and net divisions and we also have a fun putting contest with the winner receiving a beautiful Jason Day autographed photo and decorative shadowbox.

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The former home of the local U.S. Open local qualifier, Eagle's Nest is a par 72 course located just minutes from the Beltway.

Eagle's Nest is in glorious shape these days, both as a golf course and a club. The fairways and greens are immaculate and our competitors will thoroughly enjoy their trip around the Dulaney Valley Road course. Two weeks ago, Eagle's Nest proudly paid off their bank loan from several years ago and is now one of the few courses in the Baltimore area that can literally say they are "debt free". For quite a while, rumors always surfaced about Eagle's Nest being "in trouble" but the Board and others within the club quietly had a plan in place to not only improve the club's financial situation, but to eradicate any and all bank debt from the facility's books. On Friday, October 2nd, Eagle's Nest paid off their bank loan.

Today's event is also sponsored by Summit Financial, Advanced Heating and Cooling, Charles Nusinov & Sons Jewelers, Black Rock Landscapes, Mariner Distribution, Unison Business Solutions, Orlando Products, Royal Farms, CSI Bonds and UMBC Athletics.

Sunday
October 18
#DMD GAME DAY
presented by
Volume 15
Issue 18
Baltimore Ravens vs. San Franciso 49'ers

4:25 PM EDT

Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA


When you're 1-4 (like both of the teams are today), there's a certain sense of "it's now or never" that hovers over the game, and that's precisely what the Ravens and 49'ers hope to play off of this afternoon when someone's playoff hopes likely come to an end before Halloween even rolls around. Today's winner will enjoy dinner tonight knowing that their playoff hopes are still flickering, albeit barely, while the loser can start trying to figure out what to do with their final ten games of the season.

For the Ravens, it will require a yeoman's effort this afternoon given the plethora of key injuries they're dealing with just six games into the season. Justin Forsett and Steve Smith Sr. might both play, but there's little chance either one will be close to 100% if, in fact, they do take the field. The Ravens secondary has more holes in it than Leon Spinks' teeth. And the linebacking core, decent enough against the run this year, has developed a reputation for being soft in passing downs. Last week against the Browns, Cleveland connected on 6 of 9 third down throws to tight ends or backs who were the marking responsibility of a Baltimore linebacker.

San Francisco nearly stunned the host New York Giants last Sunday in what was, by far, their best performance since opening the season with a 20-3 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Like the Ravens, the 49'ers defense is ultra-suspect, but it's on offense where San Francisco struggles the most. In fact, their season point total to date (75) is the second lowest in the league, trailing only Miami (65) in that department. Oddly enough, the 49'ers have two proven, veteran wide receivers in erstwhile Ravens Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. What the Ravens wouldn't give for those two guys this season...

It's always fair -- and accurate -- to point out that a team isn't officially out of playoff contention until that "y" appears next to their name in the standings: y - indicates eliminated from the playoffs. That said, the loser of this game today is as done as you can be without having that "y" next to their name. You're not starting the season 1-5 and somehow rebounding to make the post-season, particularly in the AFC where you have seven teams with three or more wins heading into this afternoon's slate of games. So, today's the day, for both the Ravens and 49'ers. Win, and you can still harbor a wild thought of stringing together six weeks of great football and getting yourself back in the hunt. Lose, and it's as over as it can be without the league telling you it's over.

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today's main storylines - ravens vs. 49'ers


*Can the Ravens rebound from losing to the Browns? -- Oh, trust me, there's no way the Ravens have erased from their minds what happened to them last Sunday, particularly the defensive group. It's one thing to lose to the Bengals at home. There's no shame in dropping a close one at Denver. But losing to the Browns, in your own building? That leaves a mark. And it was more the way it was done than anything else. Cleveland spent the final thirty minutes of the game stacking up yardage like Eminem (who turned 43 years old yesterday) produces platinum albums. And when they needed it most, the Browns also ran the ball through the Baltimore front seven, setting up the eventual game-winning field goal in overtime last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. It's easy for John Harbaugh to tell his troops to "put that one behind you" but the sting of that loss will be hanging around for a while, I'm afraid.

*Get off the field on 3rd down! -- When the Ravens stink it up defensively, inevitably one stat always seems to rear its ugly head; opponent's conversion rate on 3rd down. Last week against the Browns, the Ravens faced 19 third down situations defensively and stopped Cleveland just SEVEN times all afternoon. You're not going to win any games in the league when the other team is 12 of 19 on third down tries. It will be imperative for the Ravens to change their level of profiency in that category this afternoon vs. the 49'ers, who were 8 of 14 on 3rd down against the Giants last Sunday.

*Let Flacco hurry it up -- Two things typically stand out about Joe Flacco in road games. One, he clearly prefers to play in a hurry-up type scheme. And, two, the Ravens rarely let him do it unless down and distance calls for it. It would be a nice change of pace if Trestman and Harbaugh allowed Joe the freedom to put the offense in the no-huddle or hurry-up package at his discretion this afternoon, particularly in the opening quarter. Some of you like vanilla, some like chocolate. Some quarterbacks like the hurry-up, some don't. Joe prefers it, and, more importantly, seems to prosper in it as well. I hope they let him use it this afternoon.

*Which Ravens receivers contribute? -- Expect to see more of Chris Givens today as the Ravens continue to try and find SOMEONE besides Steve Smith to give them sixty minutes of consistency at the receiver position. Kamar Aiken had a solid first half against the Browns last week, then vanished like The Wallflowers did after their album "Bringing Down the Horse". Marlon Brown will make one significant catch, then won't put his hands around a ball the rest of the afternoon. Crockett Gilmore's apparent return to the lineup should help Flacco today, but someone like Givens or Jeremy Ross will need to play a role, too, I suspect. For the Ravens to win this afternoon, they'll need 22 catches from some group of receivers that, up to this point in 2015, haven't done much of anything.


percentage points

Here's a look at a handful of key parts and players in today's game vs. San Francisco and some percentage-of-success numbers to correlate with all of it.

56% - If you said to me, "Drew, what are the chances the 49'ers win today?"

67% - Chances of the 49'ers holding Flacco to under 300 yards passing?

36% - The chances Flacco doesn't throw an interception?

58% - What are the chances the Ravens rush for over 100 yards?

64% - The chances any Ravens WR catches a TD pass?

3% - Chances Justin Tucker misses an extra point today?

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put your money where your mouth is

Each week here at #DMD Game Day, I give you five NFL selections against the spread, my "best bet" of the bunch, and my official Ravens score prediction as well. This all, of course, is for "entertainment purposes only", although with the NFL officially in bed with both of the major fantasy sports companies in the country, the league is actually far more involved in gambling than any of us are, that's for sure.

I'm off to a woeful start through five weeks of the season, sitting at 8-17, with a 3-2 record in my all-important "Best Bet" game each week.

Broncos (-4) at Browns -- I can't imagine Cleveland tacks on another impressive win one week after winning their version of the Super Bowl by beating the Ravens in Baltimore. This is the perfect game to take the Broncos and take 'em big, as the Browns will fall flat at home. Take Denver and give the 4 points here, as the Broncos come out on top 24-13.

Panthers at Seahawks (-7.5) -- Boy, this one sure smells like something's up in Vegas. Have they not watched Seattle over the last few weeks? They lost the game at home against the Lions but the refs got involved and gave the Seahawks the victory. Then last week at Cincinnati, the two-time defending NFC champs gagged away a 24-7 second half lead. Carolina, meanwhile, is 4-0 on the season, but they haven't really played anyone yet, either. I like the Panthers to cover in this one but I'll say Seattle wins 22-20. Take Carolina and the 7.5 points.

Chiefs at Vikings (-3.5) -- It took me until week six to identify a "play of the year" thus far, and here it is. I love, love, love, love the Vikings today. Nothing else to add, other than the game is so set for a Minnesota thumping that I'm almost afraid of it. I'm taking the Vikings to win, 33-13.

Patriots (-10) at Colts -- I took the Cowboys last week plus 7.5 against visiting New England and Dallas got throttled, 30-6. I'm going back to the well again this week, though, as I see Indianapolis putting up much more of a fight against New England than Dallas did last week. Patriots win, 30-21, but take Indianapolis and ten points at home.

Redskins at Jets (-7.5) -- The question with the Redskins is simple. Which team shows up? The one that nearly beat the Falcons last Sunday? Who knows. I suspect it's letdown time for Washington after such a close call on the road a week ago. I'm not sure how the Jets are giving ANYONE 7.5 points, but let's go with New York in a defensive battle, 20-10.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Minnesota. Lock of the year, even.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-3

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 8-17

BEST BET FOR THE SEASON: 3-2

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How Drew sees the Ravens/49'ers game --

X
In what will be known as "The Regret Game", Baltimore gets beat and Torrey and Boldin both factor heavily in the 49'ers triumph.

Sadly, I think this is going to be a blow-out today. I think the 49'ers have two weapons (Torrey and Boldin) that the Ravens' secondary simply can't contain for four quarters. Mix with that the Ravens inconsistencies on offense and I think you have the makings of a humbling afternoon in the Bay area.

As for how the game plays out, I see it being close for two quarters as both teams turn the ball over once and each offense scores a TD as a result of that give-away. It's a 10-10 game at half, but then Boldin and Smith both collect 3rd quarter TD's and Boldin grabs another one in the 4th as San Fran pours it on in a 34-17 win.


Saturday
October 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 17

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it makes perfect sense to let chris davis sign elsewhere, but fans deserve better

If you listened to the Friday, October 16 #DMD podcast, I spent a few minutes outlining what I thought was a reasonable train-of-thought with regard to not getting involved in the high stakes Chris Davis poker game. If you DIDN'T listen, by the way, scroll down to yesterday's edition of #DMD (below the comments) and check it out. Either way, I thought I'd take a few minutes today to counter my Friday thoughts on why it doesn't make sense to chase Davis around this off-season.

First, though, let me reiterate here in this space the whole concept of "passing" on Davis when he and his agent start peddling themselves to the highest bidder this December. Admittedly, it's hard to draw a line in the sand and say, "We aren't going to want THAT really good player" while you're watching the likes of Kansas City and Toronto play in the ALCS on a chilly October night. Both of those teams have compiled very impressive rosters, each with a different set of strengths, and there are some high quality players in both dugouts. The Royals, of course, were a basebal laughingstock for the better part of a decade until their "core three" -- Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer -- all finally blossomed at the same time and an out-of-this-world bullpen effectively turned every game into a 6-inning affair. Toronto, who last made the playoffs when Baltimore didn't have a football team, is baseball's version of a mutt. A few draft picks, a bunch of cast-offs, a smart trade here and there and some free agent signings...mix it all together and, in 2015 at least, you have yourself a winner.

Kansas City added a significant free agent last winter (Kendrys Morales) and then traded for Ben Zobrist at the deadline, but they, like the Orioles, aren't a franchise known for throwing around $150 million contracts. In fact, when you're watching the Royals, it's not that different than watching the Birds. Kansas City's better, yes, but the basic make-up of their roster and their organizational practices aren't much different than what we have here in Charm City. Toronto is more liberal with their spending (I could see them waving a bunch of money at Davis, by the way) and not afraid to take on a big contract or two, which is why it's likely they're more of a one-hit-wonder than the Royals, who look like they're here to stay for a while.

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I bring all of that up about the Royals and Blue Jays to just drive home the point that there are a bunch of ways to win in major league baseball. Just look at the National League, where the Cubs added a terrific manager and a couple of their young players came through for them and here they are in the NLCS against the Mets, who just throw good pitcher after good pitcher at you, score a few runs, and leave the ballpark with a win. There's no precise blueprint on how to win or every team would be following it.

What's this all have to do with Chris Davis, Drew? Is that what you're asking?

Before the Orioles make any internal decision on Davis and the amount they're willing to spend to keep him, they really need to ask themselves what they're going to do WITHOUT him. Who plays first base next season? If they have a reasonable solution to that dilemma (and, I'm sorry, I do NOT think Steve Pearce fits under the category of "reasonable solution", but I can see that coming...) it would make the whole process easier when it comes time to answer that first phone call from Scott Boras in seven weeks or so. Without a replacement plan, you create TWO issues when Davis signs in Boston, Detroit, Toronto, etc. First, you have to replace his production -- second, you literally have to replace HIM.

Now, before I make the case to keep Davis, let me just again touch on the one common-sense element of trying to re-sign the first baseman that works AGAINST keeping him: If he stays healthy and off the PED list and continues to be a 155-game per-season player, it's likely he'll average somewhere around 42-44 HR's per-year, with 100 RBI or thereabouts. Yes, yes, we know he'll strike out 200 times, but that's what you get with guys who swing for the fences. In the case of Davis, though, we know he'll have a red-hot bat for about 60 of the team's 162 games, produce decently for 40 more, and then suffer through bad stretches over weeks at a time. It's just who he is. The REAL question, though? How much MORE can he produce?

If you're giving a guy $12 million and he hits you 47 HR's for that money, how many MORE homers can he hit for $22 million? Clearly, if there was some sort of commensurate increase in his production based on the money you forked over, you'd probably be willing to gamble on a guy like Davis, who appears to be a hard worker and a good company man who would give you an honest day's work for a honest day's pay. But it doesn't work that way, as we know. You'd be getting, essentially, the same player for your $22 million that you got for your $12 million. Oh, and he's not getting any younger, either. Then again, none of us are.

The case against giving Chris Davis $120 million is simple. And it has nothing at all to do with the money, either, because the Orioles and their ownership group have plenty of money to spend. They'll get a few people on their side to defend them on the issue of "plenty of money to spend" but they DO have a gazillion dollars to throw at baseball players IF THEY WANT TO THROW IT AT THEM. The case against re-signing Davis is about one thing: Can we get $10 million MORE per-year of production out of him than we were getting when we were paying him $12 million a year? I think we all know the answer to that question is, simply, "no".

But...and there is a "but", here. There IS a reason why the Orioles should re-sign Davis.

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If ever a player in this era fit perfectly with the composite model of someone you'd want to market your franchise around, it's Chris Davis. Other than the PED issue in September 2014, Davis has been clean-as-a-whistle throughout his career. And let's remember, too, his suspension WASN'T steroid-related, it was for use of Adderall -- still a banned substance, but a little more forgivable than what happened with Palmeiro, for example. In general, Chris Davis is the kind of marquee player you'd like to market to your fan base. I think we'd all agree on that.

The Orioles owe it to their fans to keep Davis. Or, at the very least, they have to know what they're going to do to replace him if they DON'T keep him. And I doubt they do. And, no matter who they bring in, it's still not going to be Chris Davis. Yes, I know money is an issue. It always is with the Orioles' ownership group. But in this case, given what the club went through for fourteen years or so, keeping a marquee player that you essentially groomed yourself is a remarkable way of saying "thank you" to the fans for their continued support and patience as you navigated your way back from the pits of the American League.

I probably made a smarter, more compelling case for NOT keeping Davis than for actually re-signing him, but the latter of the two is the easy one to dissect. The fans want Davis back, the players want Davis back, the manager wants Davis back. You know, barring some sort of collapse, what he's going to contribute for you in 2016, 2017, etc. You'll likely get the same production out of him for $22 million that you got when you were paying him $8 million, $10 million, $12 million, etc., but that's how it works in sports. Once guys cash in, they make up for lost time. Perhaps that's what worries the Orioles the most, but in this case, they need to look long and hard at keeping Davis for a variety of reasons.

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curley pounds calvert hall, 5-1

I checked in with my longtime friend Barry Stitz prior to Friday night's game at Calvert Hall, and the Curley boys soccer coach said to me, "This should be a good game tonight, I think we're ready."

I'd say the Friars were ready.

Curley put on a finishing clinic for eighty minutes on Friday night at chilly Kelly Field and thumped Calvert Hall, 5-1, sending the Cardinals to their worst home loss of the season and increasing Curley's chances of making the 6-team MIAA A-Conference playoffs in November.

Without the aid of a game program or notes of any kind, I can't tell you who scored goals and who set them up, but I CAN tell you that Curley looked the part on Friday night in a big way. They used the wide part of the field to give their speedy #12 all the room he needed and their finishing ability in the 18-yard box was sublime. The first, fourth and fifth goals were all textbook, clinical works of soccer technique. Curley was MUCH better than Calvert Hall on Friday night, avenging a September home loss (3-1) to the Cardinals, who earlier this week went on the road and beat a very good Loyola side.

In the early game, Mercy defeated the Institute of Notre Dame, 5-0, in girls soccer.

Friday
October 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XV
Issue 16

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harbaugh to usc? no chance. to college park? hmmmmm...

OK, let me say this before I say anything else.

I do NOT think John Harbaugh is getting fired in Baltimore. I have no inside information telling me he is and I don't even have a connect-the-dots theory to support the notion that his days in Baltimore might be numbered. There was one of those silly rumors circulating on Thursday that the Ravens' head coach is on the "short list" at the University of South California, but that's akin to you and I saying that Jennifer Aniston is on OUR short list of women to take with us on a secret trip to Key West next month. In other words, just because someone is on the short list it doesn't mean they're the ones who will eventually get selected from that list -- and then agree to join you.

Again: I don't think John Harbaugh is on his way out in Baltimore.

That said, the owner of the Ravens has a history of firing his head coach in a less-than-conventional manner. He's only fired one -- Brian Billick -- and Steve Bisciotti's decision to relieve Billick of his duties on December 31, 2007 came roughly six weeks after he assured the coach that he and his staff were "safe" for the 2008 campaign. Bisciotti would later speak publicly about the decision to change his mind and offered the most reasonable explanation he could in the wake of his team's 5-11 campaign in 2007, but what most folks remember about Billick's ousting is simply that Bisciotti assured him right around Thanksgiving that he was returning in 2008 -- and on New Year's Eve, the head coach was unemployed.

Back to John Harbaugh now. What we're seeing from the team in 2015 is most certainly not the head coach's fault. The team he'll trot out there this Sunday in San Francisco isn't remotely close to the team he projected would be playing when the final roster was set in late August. Sure, every team and coach faces injury hurdles to overcome each season, but the Ravens have been particularly whipped by injuries a month or so into the season. When the team finishes 6-10 in 2015, I can't imagine John Harbaugh would be on the hot seat.

But.....

X
One of these days, Steve Bisciotti will need to have that "tough talk" with John Harbaugh. Could the Maryland football opening expedite that talk if the Ravens have a poor season in 2015?

I'm not sure the owner of the club can be completely trusted in times like these. People like Steve Bisciotti, who have more dollars than you have blades of grass in your front yard, don't deal well with losing. They didn't become gazillionaires by losing. They don't like losing. And they most certainly won't tolerate losing for long. And, no matter how much Steve Bisciotti likes John Harbaugh personally, we've already seen once that Bisciotti will cut his coach loose if the results warrant a change in the position. So, when I say "I'm not sure the owner of the club can be completely trusted..." it's mainly because I've seen the situation unfold before and I can't forget how it all went down.

Oh, and there's a coaching opening down at College Park, where the University of Maryland produced their own bush-league firing when they canned Randy Edsall in mid-season and leaked his termination to a local website (and then announced in the middle of NFL football last Sunday) in an effort to try and lessen the impact of his departure.

Yesterday, "USC would court Harbaugh" was a headline I read on a website somewhere. I laughed at that for several reasons.

"Maryland would court Harbaugh", though, isn't a headline that would look out of place to me.

In fact, if Steve Bisciotti had ANY thought at all that it might be time to part company with Harbaugh, wouldn't it make sense for him to confide in his pal Kevin Plank of Under Armour and see if Plank and the folks at College Park wanted to bring Harbaugh in to take Maryland football to the promised land? Plank, we all think, is the prime signal-caller at the University of Maryland these days, as far as athletics go, that is, and he has forged a good relationship with Harbaugh during John's eight seasons in Baltimore.

I haven't stated this in about three minutes, so let me do it again: I have no reason to believe or think John Harbaugh is getting fired in Baltimore.

However, College Park would be a perfect fit for Harbs if, in fact, Bisciotti pulls the plug on him and his staff at the end of the 2015 season.

Perfect fit? Sure. It would keep him here in Baltimore, where his wife, Ingrid, is entrenched in a variety of community-based charitable endeavors. It would keep John's teen-age daughter in school here, where she has forged great friendships and established herself as an outstanding amateur athlete. And, even though money isn't of great concern to Harbaugh, Maryland would pay him handsomely to come in and re-build their football program.

And John Harbaugh's brother, Jim, coaches at the University of Michigan. They're in the Big Ten. So, too, are the Terps. It should also be mentioned that Bisciotti -- who attended Salisbury University back in the days when it was Salisbury State -- is a huge supporter of the University of Maryland. Make that HUGE in all caps.

I most certainly wouldn't put it past Steve Bisciotti to have Kevin Plank over to Caves Valley for a round of golf this afternoon on a sun-splashed October day in Baltimore and say to him, quietly, "Do you think Maryland would have an interest in John Harbaugh?" I have no reason to believe it's happening, no reason to even hint at it, even, other than to remind everyone of how Bisciotti's first coach firing went back in 2007 and to also note that the owner isn't a big fan of losing...and his football team in Baltimore is potentially going to suffer a losing season in 2015.

I know nothing. But I also know John Harbaugh-to-Maryland makes a whole lot more sense than John Harbaugh-to-Southern Cal. I don't know much, but I know that.


a new #dmd podcast is available today

It's Friday, which means a new edition of my "3140" podcast is available for your listening enjoyment. I touch on a bunch of stuff, including why re-signing Chris Davis might NOT make sense for the Orioles. I also look back at the Ravens' loss to the Browns and play you four songs from high school days that are still great listening even now, thirty-plus years later. Check out the podcast below:

#DMD 3140 Podcast
October 16, 2015

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"Three Questions" debuts at #DMD

I get a lot of sports questions thrown at me these days, whether it's via e-mail, on Twitter, or through my Facebook page. For twelve years, I'd answer those questions on the radio. Now, I'm answering them on the computer -- or my phone -- and I'm seemingly getting more and more questions as reader-visits here at #DMD continue to increase on a weekly basis.

I did an audio version of "3 Questions" in today's podcast and now I'll debut a new segment of #DMD called "3 Questions". It's simple. I plucked three questions from a bunch that I received this week and answer them here, for all of you.

Dave asks: "How do you think (local golfer) Denny McCarthy will do now that he's turned professional?"

DF: Well, first of all, "turning professional" is nothing more than protocol. Anyone can turn professional and "play for money", although you have to be extremely talented to make a lot of money playing the game of golf. In other words -- the first step to turning pro is to say you're turning pro. The hard work begins afterwards. In McCarthy's case, though, he IS extremely talented. I've been playing competitive amateur golf in the state of Maryland since 1993 and McCarthy is, without question, head and shoulders better than any amateur I've seen in those 22 years. He has a long road ahead of him in terms of getting on the PGA Tour. He'll need to advance through qualifying school to try and earn his "card", and these days they're awarding more cards to guys on the Web.com Tour and less cards through Q-school.

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Argyle CC member and University of Virginia grad Denny McCarthy has the game to play "at the next level". How far can he go? That's the big question.

If he can get enough sponsor's exemptions to make some money on TOUR, he can try and go that route and parlay a dozen or so tournaments into a career-starting season. My guess is McCarthy is going to go about it the "new way" -- which is to say he'll get status on the Web.com Tour and make his way up the ladder there, eventually securing his PGA Tour card by finishing in the top 25 on the second-tier tour. In short, to answer your question, I think Denny McCarthy is going to make a lot of money on the PGA Tour. How much can he win? How far can he go? Who knows. But he has the game to compete on that stage and I think he'll be a successful professional player.

Sheldon asks: "I'm in a contest at work where you pick the two Super Bowl teams on November 1st. Who do you think will be there this year?"

DF: Interesting question. For sure, right now, the two best teams in the NFL are Green Bay and New England, but everyone in the contest is going to pick those two, right? And since I don't know the tie-breaker formula for your contest, let's do this: How about Arizona and Pittsburgh? The Steelers still have to ride out this injury to Roethlisber for another couple of weeks and they might have to win on the road in the playoffs to get there, but my guess is you'll be the only person with Arizona and Pittsburgh...so let's go with that.

Tim asks: "Drew, (your former radio boss) has spent a lot of time over the last couple of weeks defending his policy of not taking phone calls from listeners so I can only assume he saw your excellent article from a couple of weeks ago where you explained why the listeners are important. I'm wondering though if you think there's a chance other stations in town might follow suit and do away with calls from listeners. Is it a concept whose time has arrived?

DF: No, it's not a concept that is ready to take flight. There will always be circumstances where the host interacts with those folks who are listening. It's part of the give-and-take of talk radio. Not taking phone calls from listeners isn't avant garde; it's just lazy radio. When you're not taking calls, you're basically saying, "I don't feel like giving you the floor. I don't want your opinion to perhaps clash with mine. I want to be the expert and the one in the spotlight. You sit there and listen. I'll tell you how it is." There ARE times when the host IS the expert and there ARE times when it's better for a listener to do just that -- listen. But, it also requires a little bit of hard work to field phone calls, particularly when the subject is controversial and your opinion might not be the popular one. You will be challenged by callers and you will have to stand up for yourself. That takes work. It's the opposite of lazy radio, in fact. You can break a sweat engaging with listeners and having to defend your position. Oh, and for anyone who didn't see my full piece on "not taking calls" -- you can find it in the archives at the top of #DMD under the September 16-30 section. It was published on September 30.

If you'd like to submit a question for next week's edition of "3 Questions", just send it along to me at: 18inarow@gmail.com

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bo's eye view

BO SMOLKA is a longtime member of the Baltimore-Washington media. He covers the Ravens for #DMD and ComcastSportsNet. Bo's insights and analyses are presented by Advanced Heating & Cooling, which offers a variety of energy saving, high-efficiency equipment for heating, air conditioning, and geothermal systems.


Are the Ravens already just playing for draft position? The division title seems out of the question. A playoff spot seems a pipedream, though the Ravens will tell you they will keep their eye on that prize until it is mathematically not an option anymore.

"The aspiration, the end goal, is always going to be there. It’s not going anywhere. But no matter what your record is, you’re always talking about the next game," coach John Harbaugh said on Monday. "You have to be 1-0 this week," he added. "That’s what you need to do. That’s what we’re striving to be. Motivation will not be a problem; our guys are motivated.”

That might be true, but they are also shorthanded. It remains to be seen whether Steve Smith Sr. suits up Sunday. He returned to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday but is still dealing with microfractures in his back. Making matters worse, Justin Forsett (ankle) did not practice and his status for Sunday is up in the air. Those are just two of the most significant names on a lengthy injury report. So can the Ravens be 1-0 this week? Even against the 1-4 49ers it won't be easy, especially on the road.

Here are five keys to making that happen:

* DBs need to defend Torrey Smith -- not interfere with him

One of the best plays in the Ravens offensive playbook last year was the Torrey-Smith-Go-Long-And- Draw-A-Penalty. Seriously. According to ESPN, Smith drew 12 pass interference penalties for 261 yards last year. And sure enough, last week against the Giants, Smith drew a 28-yard pass interference call. The Ravens cornerback situation is a revolving door once again, with Lardarius Webb nursing another injury, Rashaan Melvin cut (and since signed by the Patriots), and Asa Jackson, Charles James and Shareece Wright all newcomers to the active roster. The Ravens also have to deal with Anquan Boldin, of course, and Jimmy Smith can't cover both Boldin and Smith. Smith has had an underwhelming start in San Francisco, with 11 catches in five games. But expect the 49ers to attack this Ravens secondary.

* Buck Allen needs to come up big

Forsett is gimpy at best. Meanwhile, backup Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, abruptly ending his season. Taliaferro had been listed as probable for the Browns game. If Forsett can't go, that leaves rookie Buck Allen as the Ravens starting running back, with Raheem Mostert, just claimed off waivers, as the No. 2 back. Even if Forsett does play, he won't be at 100 percent and Allen will have to come up big.

* Receivers need to get involved

Will Steve Smith Sr. play on Sunday? The tough-as-nails receiver returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity, but like Forsett, even if he goes on Sunday, it won't be at 100 percent. Other receivers must step up. Kamar Aiken did early last week, with four catches for 78 yards in the first half. But in the second half and overtime, ALL Ravens wide receivers totaled one catch -- for 0 yards. That would seem almost impossible, but true. The Ravens can't go an entire half with zero production from receivers. The 49ers rank 30th in the league in passing defense, giving up nearly 300 yards a game.

*The defense needs to get off the field on third down

The Browns went 12-for-19 on third down against the Ravens, extending drives and exhausting the Ravens defense. Harbaugh attributed some of the team's tackling problems to being on the field too much. "You have to get off the field on third down," Harbaugh said. "And a number of those third downs are third-and-longs. ... We’re doing the job on first and second down and not getting off the field on third down? That has to change. If we do that – if we’re off the field – then you’re going to see fewer missed tackles." The Ravens third-down percentage defense (.494) ranks second-lowest in the league.

*Get to Colin Kaepernick early

Kaepernick's struggles this season have been well-documented: In losses to the Cardinals and Packers, he threw five interceptions and no touchdowns, with a pair of pick-sixes by the Cardinals. Kaepernick, though, put together his best game of the season against the Giants last week, and some early confidence for him could spell trouble for the Ravens. Kaepernick has been sacked 16 times, fourth-most in the league. But the Ravens pass rush has a lot of questions, beginning with whether Elvis Dumervil (thigh) will play. He did not practice Wednesday, and with the release of Jason Babin -- who admittedly did nothing but commit penalties in his brief time with the Ravens -- the Ravens could be down to just three outside linebackers in Courtney Upshaw, Za'Darius Smith and converted inside linebacker Albert McClellan. The best way to cover up flaws in the secondary is with a pass rush, and the Ravens need someone -- anyone-- to get to Kaepernick.

Prediction: Things were already bleak for the Ravens offense without Steve Smith Sr. If Justin Forsett can't play, or if one or both of those players is gimpy, which seems likely, where is the offense going to come from? I see a lot of work for Justin Tucker and one touchdown, but it won't be enough: 49ers 24, Ravens 19.

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THIS WEEKEND IN ENGLISH SOCCER
Contributed by #DMD's EPL Reporter

MATTHEW CARROLL

There were no shortage of headlines as the Barclays Premier League clubs headed off for the second international break of the season. Following the conclusion of Matchweek 8, two clubs were suddenly without managers when Dick Advocaat stepped down at Sunderland and Brendan Rodgers was relieved of his duties at Liverpool. Tune in to see all of this weekend’s action, including Advocaat and Rodger’s replacements, live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday (all times Eastern)

7:45am – Liverpool @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

The resignation of Advocaat was understandable given his reluctance to sign on a for another year following the conclusion of the 2014/15 season and Sunderland’s current position near the bottom of the league table, but the decision by the Fenway Sports Group (the same group that owns the Boston Red Sox) to relieve Rodgers of his duties came as a shock to many. Despite earning a point in 75% of his games in charge (W83 D40 L42), Rodgers failure to add to Liverpool’s impressive trophy case during his three year reign, and the almost $300 million spent during the last two summer transfer windows that has so far failed to produce a return on the investment ultimately proved to be his undoing.

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New Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp takes his team to Tottenham for a big game this Saturday.

Liverpool fans will not have to wait long to see their new boss in action as Jurgen Klopp, the former German manager of the year and one of the most sought after coaching commodities in the world following his decision to step down last spring at Borussia Dortmund, will lead the Reds when they kick off Matchweek 9 with an early Saturday visit to face Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Liverpool have won five successive league matches against Spurs but have faltered on the road as of late, winning only one of their last nine while Tottenham have not lost since the opening weekend of the season (W3 D4).

10am – Manchester United @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

A pair of Barclays Premier League mainstays highlight the 10am slate of games on Saturday when Manchester United travels to Goodison Park to take on Everton. Roberto Martinez's side, who would move ahead of United in the league standings with a victory, have won only one of their last six fixtures at home (D2 L3), although they have enjoyed a recent run of dominance over United the last several seasons, winning four of their last six and the last three in a row despite trailing in what has been a traditionally one sided series, with United accumulating thirty one wins to Everton’s eight. Manchester United will be boosted by the likely return of Captain Wayne Rooney.

The lifelong Everton fan, who has failed to score in his last six visits to Goodison Park and has tallied only one goal so far in seven league games this season, looks set to return from an ankle injury just in time to lead the line against the club that gave him his first start in the Barclays Premier League at just sixteen years of age. He will like his chances to break his Goodison Park jinx with the possibility that Everton could be missing three of their starting defenders – John Stones, Leighton Baines, and Seamus Coleman – through injury.

10am – West Ham United @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC Live Extra

While we predicted at the beginning of the season that both West Ham United and Crystal Palace would have a good chance to finish in the top half of the league table by seasons end, we did not expect either side to be sitting in fourth and sixth place respectively at the quarter pole of the season. It has been twenty five years since Crystal Palace had more points at this point of the season and they will look to close the gap on league leaders Manchester City when West Ham United, whom Palace have only dropped points to once in their last nine meetings, visit Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Currently in sixth place and just a single point behind the Eagles, West Ham are unbeaten in four road trips this season with impressive victories over league giants Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City already under their belt. New manager Slaven Bilic, who took over for newly appointed Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce this past summer, has built one of the most exciting and efficient teams in the league. Summer signing Dimitri Payet has been the driving force, with four goals and three assists to lead an offense that has the best shot conversion rate in the top-flight this season at 23%.


#DMD'S HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS SPOTLIGHT
brought to you by
Marsh
Insurance & Financial
410-426-2282

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight has a surprise in store for this week as we flip things up a bit with a doubleheader. Not just any doubleheader, but a double header featuring two rivalry games. Not just two rivalry games, but two soccer games. Not just soccer games, but a boys game and a girls game. If that is not good enough for you, wait, there’s more! They both play this evening and they both play on the same pitch at Calvert Hall.

Ladies first, of course.

The Institute of Notre Dame takes the field at 5pm to face their longtime rival, #14 Mercy. Mercy plays in the IAAM-A conference. IND plays in the IAAM-B Conference. We didn’t list their records on the season so far because in this game, records don’t matter. Maryland continues to grow as a recruiting hot spot for college women’s soccer programs across the nation. After you see this game, you will understand why our local women’s soccer programs are so highly regarded. This game should set the tone quite nicely for the "nightcap" on the boys side of things.

The next game? Just one of the oldest soccer rivalries in town. Archbishop Curley, ranked #5 locally, and #2 Calvert Hall met earlier this season with the Cardinals coming away with a 3-1 win that day. Tonight at 7pm, they meet again and Curley will be looking to settle the score.

Curley head coach Barry Stitz and his Friars will have plenty of motivation after suffering a 2-1 OT loss against #10 Mount St. Joe earlier this week. The Friars will be trying to get the ball to Senior forward Tre Pulliam. Pulliam headed a well-placed cross from Sophomore Ben Stitz into the back of the net against St. Joe for the Friars' only goal of that game. The Friars have offensive ability and they will bring it tonight. Curley is well known for their expertise on corner kicks and set pieces, so part of Calvert Hall's strategy will no doubt be to minimize those chances as much as possible.

Calvert Hall has ability, too, as well as home field advantage. When head coach Rich Zinkand leads his Cardinals out of the locker room tonight, he will make sure that he has his rock solid defense firing on all cylinders. And be sure and keep an eye on Calvert Hall's Reugo Nnadozie. Only a Junior, Nnadozie has a powerful right foot and will not hesitate to take a shot from anywhere around the 18-yard box.

A friendly reminder, too, that if you're heading over to Calvert Hall for tonight's game or games, the Corner Bakery on Goucher Boulevard (just 1/4 mile from the stadium) has a $3.00 off discount coupon for you right here at #DMD. Just show the #DMD ad on your smart phone at the counter and you'll receive $3.00 off any "Corner Combo"!

Tonight's schedule:

#14 Mercy vs IND @ 5pm

#5 Curley vs #2 Calvert Hall @ 7pm

The #DMD High School Sports Spotlight is brought to you by Greg Marsh and Marsh Insurance and Financial. You'll be able to check in here in each week to see what's happening on the Baltimore area high school football scene, and you should check in with Greg Marsh for all of your personal insurance needs. Give him a call at (410) 426-2282.

RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.